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Hawkley Cottage, Highclere Street
RG20 9QB
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07816 968536

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!

Filtering by Tag: healthy lifestyle

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

 

 

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. 

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. 

 

 

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

 

 

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. 

Chia seed benefits and uses

Amber Macintosh

It is very frustrating when great health foods hit the market and are quickly bashed by the press and even labelled as being useless to our health and wellbeing.  Whilst no health foods claim to be miracle cures their benefits do help those of us looking for a healthier lifestyle.  

Chia seeds are one such product, packing a big protein punch and providing us with three fatty acids alongside calcium and fibre. They actually contain more potassium than bananas, more antioxidants that blueberries and more iron than spinach.  They also naturally hold water so they make you feel fuller longer as well ask being extremely gentle on the tummy. They can be sprinkled on salads and lightly toasted with granola but most also make a wonderful alternative to oats for a super healthy porridge, fantastic for those going gluten free.  

We mix them with almond milk but it really could be any milk that you enjoy or even fresh fruit juice.  Leave to soak in the fridge for an hour or more, overnight if you prefer, and add to it anything you like to have with porridge.  Here I have added fruit and honey but you can also mix with yoghurt, add any dried fruits or mix with granola. Straight from the fridge it is a great cooling Summer porridge, the trainsformation from dry seed to thick porridge is amazing! Kids love it.

Me Time

Amber Macintosh

Are you getting enough me time? or are you laughing at the very idea. Over the weekend many of the newspapers were reporting about the new wave of alternative health therapies, yoga retreats and detox diet clinics, popping up all over the world. I was reading these articles whilst sipping my camomile tea, myself on a spa break with my husband.

Finding 'me time' seems to have become a talking point in every circle I meet, whether it's investment bankers taking up Tai Chi or super mums heading for pilates, we all need our little something, a stress buster, to help us wind down and find a zone in which we can relax. In our frantic time-pressured lives we are bombarded by information and even in gyms the endless feed of outside news, screens playing Bloomberg and news captured from around the world only serve to increase this frustration.

As the media report on the rise of anxiety sufferers, cited as the new depression, it is the holistic lifestyles that are taking centre stage. Age old rituals that require a better understanding between mind, body and spirit are increasingly interesting to those that may previously not have thought twice about the benefits. I appreciate that yoga and the martial arts are far from being new but the sea change is the types of people that are accepting these practices. In terms of yoga we are seeing a return to the true and ancient forms of this technology, no longer do people run off to the latest yogalates class in search of the body seen on their favourite actress. A yoga class which teaches in equal measure the importance of postures, breathing and meditation is now favoured before the body punishing modern adaptations. Ten years ago my yoga practice was tolerated with indifference but now people openly ask what is involved and how they might benefit. Where I once skipped off to classes but kept yoga very seperate from the rest of my life, my practice is now very much a part of our family lifestyle. I have many yoga sets that the children enjoy doing with me and my husband benefits from my meditation as the music lulls him into a relaxing Sunday afternoon snooze.

We are all living in a time of information overload and while we benefit from the webs ability to bring us up to the minute news, we are thankfully understanding that we need to step away so that we can catch up with ourselves. I am alarmed by the number of mothers I meet who are on their knees getting their kids to and from activities, but not using even an hour in the week for themselves. I believe it is estimated that a mother with three children gets approximately 26 minutes of free time a day, I seriously doubt this! But if this is the case don't waste it folding more washing! Almost all mothers I ask in this situation would say that it is impossible for them to do nothing with 26 minutes. It should not be laughed off; it concerns me that the ability to tell the body, and more importantly the mind, to be still is lost. I would also suggest that the importance of finding an hour a week to do something for yourself, whatever that may be, is just as, if not more important, than taking Jake to Rugby club.  Being able to do this does not mean you are doing less for your family but that you are taking control of your life!