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Yoga, Nutrition & Meditation.

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Blog

Welcome to Amber's wellbeing blog. Unearthing new health and beauty finds, discussing yoga and mindfulness, great healthy recipes and much more!

Super Natural Discoveries

Amber Macintosh

After finishing the judging on this years Beauty Shortlist Mama & Baby Awards I am compelled to tell you about some of my amazing finds. Natural. Luxurious. Effective - this is what I look for in great products and these ticked every box:

Dr Jackson

A gorgeous selection of natural beauty and organic herbal teas, which are science led and packaged in distinctive apothecary style bottles. My favourite of these was the Coconut Melt which I use to remove my make up, on my kids to moisturise their faces and on my husbands dry feet. I love a multi-use balm and this one is a winner! www.drjackson.co.uk

Villiers London

Clean, fresh skincare and home fragrance which is well priced and no nonsense. I love the candles and reed diffusers, their scents are green and herby - rosemary and bay being my favourite. Within their body and skincare range is a natural deodorant which is amazing! Take it from a busy yoga teacher I have tried and tested many deodorants on my quest to find something totally natural and yet effective. This is it! www.villierslondon.com

Juno Skincare

Oh, I don't know where to start. Every single product in this collection is wonderful to use and I quite simply love Juno as an entire skincare range. This is rare, if you are like me you probably have masses of different products you work between. Juno have changed all this for me and with exceptionally hormonal skin I have noticed over time a real calm down in my flare ups and a fresher, less congested completion. If only this had been around in my teens! www.junoskincare.com

One Seed

Fragrances that will blow your mind! No, I am not being dramatic, these are like nothing you have ever smelt before and I am going so far as to say life changing! From the packaging to the feel on the skin these luxurious perfumes and multipurpose elixirs wrap you up in layers of natural unadulterated fragrance. With a young daughter it is incredibly important that her choice of scent is not made from synthetic ingredients so I was thrilled to introduce her to One Seed, the travel size roller ball is perfect for her to apply. Currently One Seed ship from Australia but it will be no time at all before they are here in the UK so watch this space and I will keep my ear to the ground. www.oneseedfragrance.com

 

 

Healthy Eton Mess

Amber Macintosh

I was messing about with an Eton mess recipe, though you can hardly call them recipes as it is more of arranging ingredients in a bowl! Anyway, I have created a version that makes a great Summer evening treat and thought you might like it:

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Mix goats yoghurt (use coconut or soy for dairy free or vegan) with vanilla paste. Spoon into a glass, next add fresh berries, follow with crumbled meringue (or vegan cookie) and another spoon of yoghurt. For the topping stew blueberries with lemon zest, drizzle on next and finish with more meringue and crumbled chocolate quinoa. This chocolate treat is simply puffed quinoa, vanilla, coconut chips & seeds mixed into melted 85% organic chocolate and cooled in the fridge as a slab (full recipe here). The kids found some wild strawberries to add but final touches are your call. My family and I thought this was a great little treat and for kids you could use vanilla ice cream instead of yoghurt - see what you think! xAmber

Radiant Health Workshop Recipes

Amber Macintosh

Huge thanks to those that joined me on Thursday to explore health through nutrition and meditation. For those that missed this one there will be much more to come this Autumn and we can all enjoy these simple recipes:

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Vanilla oat & chia porridge with stewed fruit: cook oats in a milk of your choice (we used cashew milk) and add a big spoon of vanilla paste for natural sweetness. You could also soak them overnight but cooking breaks oats down further to remove any phytic acid - in much the same way as we activate or sprout grains and nuts. Leave to cool whist you soak chia seeds in the same milk and vanilla, you may also want to add ground cinnamon and/or ground ginger for taste. Once the chia seeds have absorbed the liquid you can combine both together and either eat or set aside in the fridge for breakfast the next day. I have not put exact amounts as you may want some for a few days - it will keep in the fridge for three. 

On to the fruit: We used blueberries and I simply slow cooked them in a saucepan after rinsing them thoroughly (remember how much our fruit is sprayed!) and add the zest of a lemon and dash of honey. Once jammy they are ready and you can add to your porridge - great at this time of year, in the Autumn you might want to add stewed apples, pears or blackberries. You could of course add raw fruits of your choice but for the purpose of this workshop we were looking at ways in which to calm the body and mind and eating slowly cooked foods is one of the ways to achieve this, leaving the digestive system very little to do.

So far we have carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals, natural sugars - let's now add some more fats and fibre to offset the fructose, keeping blood sugar stable, with a simple granola that does not even require any cooking! In a bowl put puffed quinoa and/or puffed amaranth and stir through vanilla paste, dried berries, coconut chips, fresh pistachios, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Add to a kilner jar to keep fresh for a week or so. You could add linseed if you know you need more fibre - remember we are all different.

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Praline nuts: you all loved the sweet pistachios so just a very quick recipe. Pop a handful of nuts in a small frying pan with some unrefined brown sugar or coconut sugar, once the heat has just melted the sugar take the pan of the heat and bring together with a wooden spoon and bash up once cool in a pestle and mortar. Don't panic if you find they cool and stick firm in the frying pan, just warm up again and move once soft! You can choose any nut or nut and seed combination you fancy and store for topping on anything in an old jam jar.

Enjoy this balanced, calming breakfast to start the day. 

Fat for Vibrant Health

Amber Macintosh

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We seem to have got into a twist over fats so I hope this short blog will outline some ways to introduce pure natural fats that are essential for your body and mind. Nuts, seeds, meat, fish, eggs, grass fed butter, olive oil and avocados - they all offer healthy fatty acids, which each cell in our body is surrounded by and needs constant support to maintain. The brain is a big fatty mass so without eating good fats we cannot nourish it, causing inflammation and degeneration - for the science and full debate I urge you to read Eat Fat Get Thin by Dr Mark Hyman.

Fatty acids are part of an important chain alongside amino acids, forming building blocks for tissues, organs, muscles, skin and hair. It is women that seem to be avoiding fats in a effort to count calories, yes, a Snickers bar and an avocado have the same calorie count but we all know how different they are when it comes to nutrient density! Almonds, eggs and avocados are products I look out for in my own diet every day, not eaten together, but a portion of one or other. The oil debate rages on but I stand firm on those I will use: coconut, extra virgin olive and walnut, with a little ghee (clarified butter) and here is the important bit; I use them sparingly! Mary Berry has the best tip for roasted vegetables; put them in a large freezer bag with just two teaspoons of oil and massage. We do not need to drizzle oil over our food or make protein snack balls with vast amounts of coconut oil! So, why avoid other vegetable oils and sunflower? These are often highly refined and have a high Omega 6 content which is proven to cause inflammation, for more about this read Dale Pinnocks, The Power of Three. Most of this excess Omega 6 comes from packaged and processed foods, but hey we know to avoid those, right?! We already have enough Omega 6 in a healthy diet but could all benefit from upping our Omega 3, particularly important for a healthy cardiovascular system and brain health. Vegans are often told off for loosing out on Omega 3 but oily fish get their high levels from eating algae so don't panic, you just have to look at the specialist companies that provide Omega 3 from algae, I love Rejuvenated. Whilst you can also get Omega 3 supplements from a nut and seeds source I can assure you these are far less potent. For those of us who do eat fish you will find the best quality Omega 3 supplement from Wild Nutrition here on my website

Like antioxidants the fatty acids we ingest get greedily used up by the body, leaving just a tiny amount to reach the skin. We therefore need to topically support skin, especially in dry or colder weather with organic oils which are easily absorbed and nourish all day. I am passionate about natural beauty and a new brand that ticks every box is Isla Apothecary - their Neroli Body Oil is a must have this Spring! I also love products by Bodhi & Birch, their Desert Rose Facial oil contains the potent oil of rose hip, super hydrating and great for ageing skin.

In short, don't count calories, count the nutrient dense foods you enjoy, packed with fatty acids and celebrate vibrant health that makes you shine on the inside and out.

As always I have written this in terms that I understand and therefore hope you do to, but please consult with a nutritionist for diet concerns and a GP for your health. 

Spring Workshop Recipes

Amber Macintosh

Thank you for spending a lovely sunny morning on the yoga mats with me. As promised the recipes of our breakfast bowl, smoothie and snack are detailed below:

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Cardamom overnight oats with mango & praline pistachios

It's lovely to enjoy a warming bowl of porridge on a cold day but we don't always have the time or maybe we want to take breakfast with us to work? by making overnight oats you can have something ready in the fridge for up to three days to which you can add an array of fruit, nut butters and seeds. 

For this version crush cardamom seeds to a fine dust in a pestle and mortar. Add to oats and chia seeds with a little vanilla powder and pour over your choice of milk. Keep stirring and adding milk until the seeds have expanded. I have used coconut drink from M&S because it has a mild coconut taste which marries with the tropical taste of mango. If you are using berries almond milk goes well and with apple compote hazelnut milk. Mango is finely chopped with the juice and zest of a lime. Once ready to assemble together just layer up in a glass and top with pistachios and linseeds that have been heated in a pan with coconut or brown sugar. I also use the flat plate on the nutri bullet to break them down to a nut crumb, this combo of nuts and seeds adds both natural fats and fibre to your breakfast.

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Berry & Blood Orange Smoothie

So simple and such a crowd pleaser with even the smallest members of the family. Pop 1/4 bag of frozen berries in the nutri bullet cup or food processor, add the juice of 1 blood orange (as they are in season) and a mug of milk, I like brown rice milk with this. Blend to your desired consistency, for little kids you could make it really thick and add a drop of honey as a great refined sugar free pudding!

Little Sweat Snack

Many of you mentioned you have a little craving for something sweet so try taking pecans and fennel seeds, warming in a fry pan with honey and leave to cool. These will keep in an airtight container for a few days. You could also try cashews in the same way with curry powder and honey.

Enjoy! x

 

Organic Brownie Raspberry Cake

Amber Macintosh

I have been tweaking a recipe based originally on a brownie by Anna Jones. This version uses a fraction of the coconut sugar, and to reduce the amount of ground almonds, introduces organic wholemeal self raising flour to give lift and lightness, which my kids and their friends love.

Ingredients:

3 Organic Free Range Eggs

200g of Organic Green & Blacks 70% Plain Chocolate

100g of Organic Unsalted Butter or Coconut Oil

100g of Organic Raspberries

50g Organic Doves Self Raising Wholemeal flour

50g Ground Almonds

1 teaspoon of Organic Vanilla Powder

25g of Organic Coconut Sugar

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Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 170C fan and line a small baking tin (20cm by 10cm) with baking paper. To make sure it fits just scrunch up into a tiny ball and unfold - a Jamie Oliver trick! Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Take the bowl from the heat and stir in the coconut sugar followed by the eggs, well beaten, and add gradually as you fold in the mixture. Next up, mix in the flour and almonds, along with the vanilla, finally stir in the raspberries and bake in the middle of the over for 30 to 40 minutes. Ovens vary so look for a little rise and a very slightly cracked top. Leave to cool before cutting up and storing in an air tight container. 

Share & enjoy - we love them! 

Going Natural

Amber Macintosh

Going natural is a long journey, it takes time and commitment. Eight years ago I left my London life and job at Estee Lauder to bring up our children on the Wiltshire border. The country move inspired a gradual change in lifestyle, blogging about the new wave of natural beauty brands, buying organic (dipping into home grown produce - still a work in progress!) and beginning to take a real interest in where our food, particularly meat, was coming from. I completed my yoga teacher training, adopted a plant based diet, dropped chemical toiletries, especially deodorant, and invested in a water filter system and Swell bottles to avoid plastic. Last year I had the metal removed from my teeth in favour of composite and used Wild Nutrition supplements to help aid the natural elimination of heavy metal toxins. You can't aim for perfection when we live such modern lives and little improvements should be celebrated if you wish to adopt a more natural lifestyle. I am currently trialling natural toothpastes and will be looking for the best washing and home detergents - would love your advise and comments. I highly recommend a book called The Naturalista for those looking for natural inspiration and to kick start a naturally healthy lifestyle in 2018.

Whilst natural skincare obviously isn't anything new - Weleda and Neal's Yard Remedies are over 90 years old - the explosion in popularity started as I left London and has been driven in the last few years by the popularity of nutrition and the wellness community on social media. During this time Beauty Blogger, Fiona Klonorides, has been championing independent natural brands in her blog, The Beauty Shortlist. Fiona has been my 'go to guru' when seeking out natural beauty that really works, so I was thrilled to be a judge for her 2018 beauty awards. 

After ten years working in beauty, four of these with Creme de la Mer, I am a hard taskmaster when road testing products. Here is my mantra which I apply to everything I buy for myself and my family: NATURAL > LUXURIOUS > EFFECTIVE. It is important to note here that luxurious does not relate to the price of the product, just the way a product feels - we all want to see natural skincare become accessible for every family. Equally it needs to work, I will not choose natural before efficacy, our products must do the job!

During the Beauty Shortlist testing I have had the privilege of using some utterly fantastic natural beauty, which I will be sharing with you on this blog and up now on my Instagram, starting with Willowberry

 

Snack Attack!

Amber Macintosh

Ayurveda, the medicine sister of Yoga, is one of the most ancient and powerful mind-body health systems in the world. It is a complex system but over the years I have found I return to and dip into aspects again and again for myself, family and clients. One of the principles is simply the importance of breakfast, lunch and supper, which reduces the need to snack. Skipping meals is a big no no for me and many others - confusing blood sugar and increasing feelings of anxiety. We fuel healthy bodies and minds with wholesome meals, our kids and teens need to do the same, something I feel passionate about. When was the last time you heard your tummy rumble? smelt food that made you salivate? felt truly excited and READY to eat? Be honest with yourself. Too many of us fall into the snack trap. Forget breakfast, snack later instead, not hungry enough for a good lunch so another quick snack and so on? thus putting a constant stress on the digestive system that remains on the go all day and can lead to weight gain. When the tummy rumbles it is not telling you to eat necessarily but that the stomach has emptied and grinding (that's the noise) the last dregs down to the large intestine for further filtering and processing. 

Now comes the slightly controversial part of this post, and some will deeply disagree with me, but that's cool. It's about our kids. How many of you bring a snack in the car at pick up? When I ask, most Mums tell me that their kids could not possibly go without the car snack on the way back from school as they are starving, the kids word, not theirs! Ask them why and the answer is always the same, they don't eat school lunch - let's go back to why? they know you are going to give them a delicious snack in the car!! So they love their snack (and I am sure it is healthy, but that's not the point), and then you make a lovely supper, and guess what, their stomach is still working so they don't 'feel' hungry and your supper goes to waste.

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Let's make 2018 the year of eating well, making food together (here is my earlier post about helping fussy kids to be better eaters) and saying a big thank you to our school catering staff. Let's make a money jar for every time our kids use the word starving and send it to Save the Children - it's heartbreaking that there are children who really do know what it feels like. 

 

 

Natural Facial Oils - 3 of the Best

Amber Macintosh

For thousands of years indigenous people have used natural oils on their hair and skin from the seeds and nuts found in their local habitats, with beautiful results. Even so, growing up with a greasy skin made the idea of using facial oil slightly terrifying. Thankfully this changed when I was sent to review a Darphin facial whilst in my first job as an intern at Elle Magazine, twenty years ago. Many botanic oils were layered on my skin and each one sank in, which is when I realised my skin was dehydrated, not oily - the results had me hooked and I have loved facial oils ever since.

 THREE OF THE BEST - NATURAL FACIAL OILS

THREE OF THE BEST - NATURAL FACIAL OILS

As I am a judge on this years Beauty Shortlist awards a total of twelve facial oils have been sent to me for testing. Three of my favourites so far come from Oilixia, whose products celebrate rare botanicals from around the world, Inlight organic skincare from Dr Spezia and newcomer By Sarah London. It's the latter, launched today, that I want to focus on.

Most facial oils contain essentials oils, which carry their own individual benefits and vibrant fragrances, but which can also sensitise the skin. In addition, to make a product smell great most facial oils include variations of lemon and geranium oils (listed at the bottom of the ingredient list) which can be an irritant for certain skin types. If the body is under pressure from external assault, pregnancy and the ongoing use of strong medication being the most noticeable, then essentials oils may be unsuitable to use. By Sarah has instead used delicate, all natural, organic plant based oils. You might even say this oil is simplistic, it doesn't contain a nut oil from a far flung exotic tree but instead goes back to basics with almond, pumpkin and apricot kernel oils. These are hand crafted and feel absolutely wonderful on the skin, sinking in fast and nurturing the skin very gently. Each oil is carefully labelled on the front of each By Sarah bottle; what you see is what you get, I love this back to basics approach.

I would highly recommend this oil, putting emphasis on the merit of using it on temporarily 'stressed out' and/or sensitive skin. By Sarah Organic Facial Oil launched today, it is £16.50 for 10ml and £38 for 30ml. 

Golden Porridge

Amber Macintosh

I am passionate about starting the day right with a good hearty breakfast. If you have been to one of my Better Breakfast workshops you will know that porridge, and the many variations that I experiment with, is a favourite. Here is my latest recipe, perfect for chilly Winter mornings.

 TURMERIC, CARDAMOM, COCONUT & LEMON PORRIDGE - SERVES TWO

TURMERIC, CARDAMOM, COCONUT & LEMON PORRIDGE - SERVES TWO

Ingredients: Organic jumbo rolled oats, lemon zest, 2 cardamom pods, coconut milk, 1 heaped teaspoon of turmeric, 1 medjool date, 1 teaspoon of coconut sugar, 1 teaspoon of linseed, filtered water, pistachios and fresh raspberries

Directions: Soak your oats in the water from a can of coconut milk (put the solid part in a bowl, cover and refridgerate). Whilst the oats start to absorb the fluid and soften crush the seeds of two cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar, add these to the oat mix with a teaspoon of ground turmeric. Heat gently, adding filtered water to keep the porridge loose. When the oats have absorbed the fluid add a date broken up in little pieces, the zest of half a lemon and a tablespoon of the coconut cream - you can then set to one side. Leave to cool slightly whilst you toast a handful of pistachios in a non stick frying pan with a teaspoon of coconut sugar. The sugar will instantly melt and stick to the nuts and not the pan!

Serve into two bowls adding the nuts, linseed and fruit. This porridge is the most decadent, fragrant and perfectly delicious breakfast bowl!! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

Benefits: Oats will fill you up till lunch, mop up excess blood fats and keep blood sugar stable. Cardamon calms the digestive system whilst turmeric acts as an anti-inflammatory throughout the body. This porridge recipe is refined sugar, diary and gluten free, plus it's suitable for vegans.

 

Radiant skin from within

Amber Macintosh

Skin, as I mentioned in my last post, is a part of the body that I have had troubles with most of my life. After being plagued by spots as a teenager I found a reprieve once on the contraceptive pill, glowed during two pregnancies and now in my 40's (urg!) veer from sensitive, dry and spotty! The big difference is my mindset. I choose not to take any medication and eat, drink and rest my way to healthy skin. It's not always perfect but I understand now why and like taking care of any organ, the skin being our largest, I put into my body the best nutrients I can to alleviate any discomfort. I hope that some of my tips here will also help you to bring out the best in your skin:

1/ Drink - water of course, and lots of it, but also nutrient dense vegetable juices. Juicing is NOT a fad, it has transformed my skin, general health, energy levels, digestive function - I know it has done the same for many of my clients. 

2/ Alcohol reeks havoc on the skin! it will get dry, sensitive, irritated (white wine particularly seems to have chemicals that disrupt the skin) even after a couple of glasses. It's boring I know not to enjoy the odd drink but do so in moderation and wash it down with water! The same goes for coffee, it does our skin no favours, sorry!

3/ Fats!! Eat fat....this subject will need to make up another blog, I am passionate about eating good fats. Fatty acids feed the skin, provide essential vitamins and minerals and lubricate the fibrous parts of our bodies like fascia tissue. Fat also supports collagen production and helps to plump the lipid barrier, if you don't like avocados, eggs, nuts or oily fish take an omega 3 supplement. I cannot tell you how many women on a drive to loose weight drop natural fats from their diet and loose vitality in their skin as a result!

4. Eat foods packed with antioxidants, especially red and purple fruit and vegetables to fight free radicals which attack our skin cells.

5. Dump sugar! Yup, yet another reason why sugar gets a bad rep is because it glycates the skin, causing premature ageing. Enough said there then.

6. Exercise and choose whatever form you love most, get the heart pumping and your circulation will flush your face, naturally shift toxins and help skin cells renew.

7. Sleep. Get enough and you will always be amazed what a good nights sleep looks like on your face. People will comment on how well you look. Take a magnesium supplement before bed to help aid a restful night.

I have not mentioned facials, sexy skincare products, derm treatments or makeup as a route to great skin, though I will in my next skin post. Radiant skin must first come from within, start with firm foundations and then you can look to enhance. If not you will be doing things back to front and find you are always on the hunt for yet another facialist or wonder cream better than the last! 

Healthy Skin

Amber Macintosh

Our faces share with the outside world our health and happiness, emotionally and physically. When we feel well it shines through radiant skin.

I fell in love with skincare when I went to work as the Communications Manager of Creme de la Mer 13 years ago. I went on to work for other skincare brands within the Estee Lauder stable, but this one has and will stay with me, I use their new formulation of moisturiser, soft cream, every day. For my body I swear by Aurelia probiotic skincare (you will find a blog about this and the importance of dry body brushing further down). The kids and I both use natural brand Weleda, I love their almond range in the evening as my daughter and I have sensitive, reactive and spot prone skin and we cleanse with de Mamiel balm. 

Whist I wanted to share my go to skincare brands I also need to remind us all that this is only half the story. How we hydrate, nourish and rest our bodies will be a deciding factor in our skins radiance, flexibility and ultimately how our skin ages!

Over the next few weeks I will be tackling SKIN in depth, something I have wanted to do, but especially now, as I will be trialling beauty products over the next few months as a judge for the Beauty Shortlist awards 2018. For more than 7 years Beauty Editor, Fiona, has unearthed budding new skincare and makeup brands and championed the market leaders who carry natural, organic and/or green credentials. 

I hope you enjoy the next few posts, particularly one I am preparing to write on problem skin; my own skin journey as been fraught so a 'selfie' here has been hard! xAmber

 

 

Cardamom & Coconut Raw Porridge

Amber Macintosh

Bircher muesli remains as popular as ever but I like the idea of a little twist on it so I would call this bowl a raw porridge. As with many of my recipes it is suitable for those that are gluten, diary and refined sugar free, this is also suitable for vegans. 

Ingredients for 2 servings: Coconut Milk, 6 cardamom pods,  handful of small organic oats, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds & vanilla powder

Directions: Pour our can of coconut milk into a bowl so that you can use throughout the week, all you will need is one heaped tablespoon mixed with filtered water to soak your oats and chia seeds in overnight. To flavour this mix crush up the seeds inside the cardamom pods, add some vanilla powder, stir and leave!

In the morning add your choice of fruit, top with granola (preferably homemade so check my next recipe) and add a big tasty spoon of peanut or almond butter, we love Pip & Nut as they do not contain palm oil.

As you can see there is no need for any sugar, though if sharing with kids you could try some honey. This bowl works nicely for breakfast but also a nice tea time snack which is blood sugar balancing, protein packed and keeps you full up till lunch. Enjoy! xAmber

Breakfast Bowl & Granola

Amber Macintosh

By way of follow up to last weeks Yoga & Wellbeing workshop, and for those that could not join us, here is the recipe for the Summer yoghurt bowl. This makes a complete breakfast but also a fantastic light pudding layered into pretty glass cups or trifle bowls.

Passion fruit coconut bowl with mango & buckwheat granola (serves 2)

Chop 1 mango into little pieces, squeeze over the juice of 1 lime plus zest, a tablespoon of maple syrup, and leave whilst you prepare the other ingredients, or leave over night if preparing breakfast the night before. Fold the contents of 1 passion fruit with 1 small 125ml tub of coconut yoghurt. You can now bowl up, starting with the passion fruit coconut yoghurt, then mango mix and top with buckwheat granola (recipe below). Keep doubling up the amount of ingredients if making for this for a dinner party pudding.

Options: I have added some more pictures for you to see how you can adapt this recipe using chia pudding or soaked oats instead of yoghurt, topping with a nut butter - all equally delicious as breakfast, an afternoon snack or pretty pudding. 

 

Granola - mix and match your way!

When buckwheat is baked it has a lovely crunchy texture that is a great alternative to nuts in granola and the tiny prism shape allows the sweet coating you create to surround each grain. Simply warm a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large roasting tray and toss in your chosen granola ingredients along with a good sprinkle of vanilla powder, spoon of honey or coconut sugar, ground ginger cinnamon and a pinch of salt. The base of this granola is buckwheat to which you can now add seeds of your choice, nuts if you wish, pistachio works beautifully in this, and bake for 10 mins on a very low heat or bottom right of the aga. Stir ingredients and bake again for another 10 mins. Leave out to cool and then add to a Kilner jar, with your choice of dried fruit.

Each time that you make a jar you can change up the base ingredients adding oats, different nuts or seeds and fruit, the choice is yours. Coconut chips and dried mango are lovely in Summer, dried blueberries and cranberries for Autumn, maybe extra cinnamon and dried figs for a Winter feel - you get where I am going with this, and the customisation gets all the family involved.

Note: Please don't forget that oils in nuts and seeds go rancid quite quickly. I advise making up small batches once weekly. Granola on top of porridge or yoghurt gives added texture, vital fatty acids and minerals. You can also blend down your granola to use as a healthy crumble topping, or to make eating nuts easy on the digestion if you suffer with IBS or gut inflammation.

Beautiful Aurelia Bodycare

Amber Macintosh

If you've been to a yoga course with me you will know I encourage body brushing; it increases circulation and improves natural lymph drainage. Finding a beautiful body wash and moisturiser to complete the routine isn't easy so I was excited to try Aurelia's New Restorative Cream Body Cleanser and their Firm & Replenish Body Serum. 

The sulphate free wash is creamy and even in hard water leaves skin feeling hydrated. The serum appears as a cream straight from the pump but becomes lightweight, melting as it touches the skin. It envelopes you in a silky freshly scented layer that instantly absorbs, so throwing on your clothes straight away is not a problem. 

Aurelia, renown for creating the first probiotic skincare range, combine ethical, sustainably sourced bio organic ingredients. In this body collection Aurelia use steam distilled essential oils, suitable for use during pregnancy. They also combine the unique moisturising benefits of their signature African botanicals, Boabab and Kigelia, which deliver Omega 3,6 and 9. I recommend you give this new botanical bodycare a try, it lives up to it's promises and truly nurtures body and mind. 

Organic Superfood Chocolate Quinoa Slabs

Amber Macintosh

I recently opened an Instagram account to record the recipes I am creating for my Diploma in Culinary Medicine. A bit late to the party but I am a pretty private person and have mixed feelings about the way we use social media channels. One big positive for me is finding fabulous individuals that give me the inspiration to try new ideas in the kitchen, like these quinoa chocolate slabs on Nourishing Amelia's blog. I made some tweaks with my favourite superfood chocolate from Doisy & Dam and puffed vanilla quinoa from Qnola, the result is simply delicious!

Ingredients: 1 bag of Vanilla Qnola (link on my shop), 7 x40g Doisy & Dams bars, I used their mulberry, black sesame and spirulina. 1 tablespoon of organic maple syrup & 1 tablespoon of organic coconut oil.

Directions: Break up the chocolate bars and melt slowly in a bain marie. Add maple syrup and coconut oil toward the end and take off the heat. Tip in the puffed quinoa, stir and pour into a small but deep tin, lined in baking paper. Smooth evenly and allow to cool in the fridge for a couple of hours. Take out, cut into squares and store in an air tight container in the fridge, they will keep for a couple of weeks....you will eat them all before that! 

Notes & Tips: This recipe is gluten free, refined sugar free, diary free, and suitable for vegans. Vanilla Qnola does contain a mix of almonds and seeds so if you are nut free choose a brand that make puffed quinoa alone. Quinoa contains fibre and protein which balances the natural sugars in dark chocolate, making these slabs blood sugar friendly and suitable for diabetics. 

Thai Butternut Squash Curry

Amber Macintosh

This is a totally thrown together recipe created the other night with the limited ingredients I had because I was waiting for the online food shop to arrive. With a red onion, butternut squash, a bunch of coriander and a pouch of Thai curry paste I rustled up the most delicious and incredibly quick curry for two, here's how:

Ingredients: 1 butternut squash, 1 red onion, 2 cups of Thai fragrant sticky rice, fresh coriander, 1 can of organic coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of Thai curry paste and a teaspoon of coconut oil.

It's quick because butternut squash cooks so quickly! I just threw in the sliced red onion and butternut squash together in coconut oil and fried until the butternut squash could be easily cut with a knife. I then added the curry paste and half the can of coconut milk. Simmered again for 5 mins, in total it took just 15 minutes and I let the rice cook alongside. Just sprinkle with chopped coriander and a sprinkle of black sesame seeds.

This recipe is refined sugar, diary free, gluten free and suitable for vegans.

Top tip: save some of the rice and the half can of coconut milk in the fridge for a breakfast porridge, recipe to follow!

 

Protein Smoothies

Amber Macintosh

Protein smoothies are not just for gym bunnies and weight lifters but for anyone leading a busy, active lifestyle. I also think they are great for our kids, giving them an extra boost especially if they enjoy a range of team sports. On the days that I leave early for the school run straight to the yoga mat I am just not hungry enough to eat a big breakfast before I leave home. A protein filled smoothie makes a fantastic breakfast replacement and will also help to avoid snacking before lunch. I favour flavourless or vanilla pea protein as whether you are vegan or not plants are the best way to get a protein boost and are gentle on the tummy. Below is the smoothie recipe most requested by our Instagram friends.

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Ingredients:

cashew nuts (handful), cinnamon (good pinch), hymalayan salt (tiny pinch), 1 date, vanilla powder, paste or fresh pod (1 teaspoon), filtered water (1 cup), scoop of protein powder (I prefer Pulsin vegan pea protein), handful of organic jumbo oats.

That's it, just blitz in the nutri bullet or food processor, adding an ice cube on a sunny day. 

Amber's Favourite Chocolate Brownies

Amber Macintosh

I promised you the recipe and here it is! As many of you know I am studying Culinary Medicine with Nutritional Therapist, Author and TV chef Dale Pinnock - The Medicinal Chef. This allows me to follow up wellness coaching by designing recipes best suited to the needs of you and your family. I record my studies through Instagram (yes I bore people with pictures of food!) so I know the brownie recipe caught your eye. I have a vast library of healthy food books and work through 'alternative' recipe ideas, gradually adapting them for my family and also for those of you that might be gluten, diary or sugar free. The basis of this recipe comes from a book called A Modern Way to Cook by Anna Jones, a brilliant nutritionist and chef who worked in Jamie Oliver's team. My husband does not want a brownie made of black beans, beetroot or sweet potato - all of which he has been subjected to, not delicious or even edible! and my daughter hates the taste of coconut so making a brownie that suits them all has been tricky!! Therefore, I will give you a few options that make this vegan and/or free from and I encourage you to change it up as you see fit. Whilst this is certainly a flourless, healthier option it does use real chocolate and tastes indulgent and naughty!

Indulgent chocolate brownie with raspberry & pistachio

3 organic eggs or 3 tablespoons chia seeds

200g organic chocolate 70% 

150g coconut oil or unsalted butter

250g Coconut sugar

150g ground almonds

1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder

2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste

Heat your oven to 180C and grease a tin (approx 20cm x 20cm) with coconut oil or unsalted butter and line with baking paper. If your tin is not this size just curl up the baking paper half way. If you are using chia seeds and not eggs you will need 3 tablespoons mixed with 9 tablespoons of water to form a gel.

Pop a heatproof bowl over a simmering saucepan of water, breaking up the chocolate and mixing with the coconut oil or butter, stir until melted. Then stir in the coconut sugar followed by the eggs, one by one, or chia seeds and finally the vanilla, ground almonds and baking powder (most recipes would suggest that baking powder is only needed if using chia seeds but I also add when making this with eggs for extra lift). Just before pouring into the tray mix in half of the raspberries and pistachios.

Bake for 30 minutes and rest for 20 mins - this is important, don't be greedy and force is out whilst still gooey! Chop into individual portions and store in an airtight container, they should keep for up to a week, top with extra fruit and nuts when serving.

 

 

 

Pro-biotic protein smoothie bowl

Amber Macintosh

I had to share this recipe because I love smoothies on the go and smoothie bowls for breakfast. This one is a unique combination of antioxidants, protein and live cultures for good gut health. Most importantly it is the most delicious combo that my kids also love.

* 1 heaped tablespoon of Protein powder (I use Pulsin vanilla vegan pea protein powder)

* 1 heaped tablespoon of flaxseed

* 1 tablespoon of Kefir coconut yoghurt

* 3 tablespoons of frozen berries and banana

* 6 blanched almonds

* 1 teaspoon of maple syrup

Add to a nutribullet or blender, just covering ingredients with filtered water (double the water if making a smoothie) and blend. You are now ready to enjoy with granola on top (I love vanilla quinoa granola by Qnola) and a fun sprinkle of lingonberry powder for an extra antioxidant boost from Arctic Berries.

Really quite delicious! Enjoy. xAmber