Saturday, 26 February 2011

John Masters Organics Citrus & Neroli Detangler Review

Rating: 5/5, available from Naturisimo for £16 (inc p&p), Lovelula for £16 (+p&p), and Feel unique for £16 (inc p&p).

At TBT headquarters we tend to avoid conditioners and detanglers because they always make our hair limp and nasty. But I have curly hair that always tangles when I wash it and I was getting fed up! And then, I found  John Masters Citrus & Neroli Detangler. Sounds swish, right?

Comprising of 18 organic ingredients, this detangler can be used as a leave-in conditioner or you can rinse it out after 1-3 minutes. Unlike other detanglers it doesn't have an overpowering scent and has the nourishing power of natural soy & wheat proteins, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil, borage oil and vitamin E, not to mention 7 flower extracts and 4 essential oils.

According to the product promo it is good for all hair types and is safe for colour treated hair. Em & L both have fine straight hair, so this product was hotly anticipated here!

This product does contain sodium benzoate, described fully in this post.

This detangler also introduced to two new ingredients:

  1. Behentrimonium methosulfate which is derived from non GMO rapeseed oil. Quite magically this is a mild ingredient (it's also used in baby products) and doesn't build up on the hair. When combined with cetearyl alcohol it becomes a superior emulsifier and conditioner.
  2. and, Canarium luzonicum (elemi) gum nonvolatiles. To be honest, we couldn't find any information on this ingredient other than the fact that it can cause skin irritation at high doses...luckily you only need a few drops of this conditioner.
Oh...My...Goodness, this product is amazing! It leaves our hair lustrous and bouncy, it defines my curls (something that no product has ever been able to do before), and it does not leave your hair looking greasy even if you use a hair mask before hand! Amazing.
Ingredients: aloe vera leaf  gel,* water, behentrimonium methosulfate, cetearyl alcohol, vitamin B5, hydrolyzed soy protein, wheat amino acids, sorbitol, jojoba seed oil,* coconut oil,* sunflower seed oil,* lecithin, tocopherol, glycerin, citric acid, grapefruit peel oil,* lemon peel oil,* neroli flower oil,* canarium luzonicum (elemi) gum nonvolatiles,* lemongrass oil,* sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, arnica flower extract,* white tea leaf extract,* chamomile flower extract,* calendula flower extract,* horsetail leaf/stem extract,* fennel seed extract,* honeysuckle flower extract, flaxseed seed oil,* borago officinalis (borage) seed oil,* hyaluronic acid, sulfur.
* NOP Certified Organic.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Olive Squalane Review

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Rating: 5/5, available from Sheabutter cottage £8.75 for 100ml (+p&p).
Derived from olive oil. Olive squalene is a light, non-greasy emollient that absorbs quickly into the skin, plumping it up and making it shine! It is supposed to prevent the formation of liver spots can help to protect the skin against UV rays, and is said to have anti-aging properties; smoothing out wrinkles over short periods of time. It also makes an amazing primer but more of that later.
Other uses for squalane include promoting new skin cell growth and alleviating skin conditions,  cuticle conditioning, and soothing skin cracks.
The human body actually produces a small amount of squalane naturally but production declines from thirty onwards.
We love, love, love, love this stuff! We use a few drops as a primer and it beats Mac's prep and prime skin primer hands down. Your make-up glides on after applying and it stays!! It has also been used successfully on L's dry skin patches, has healed painful skin cracks, is a brilliant last minute moisturiser and general pick-me-up on dull days!
Have you ever tried squalane? what did you think?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Foods that (might) help with blood sugar levels part 2.

As we've stated in earlier posts; we are not health practitioners. if you have found anything in this post that you are interested in incorporating into your health regime check with your health practitioner to make sure that it is safe and suitable for you before incorporating into your health regime.

4) Gymnema sylvestre

Another one of the seven promising herbs mentioned in Yeh et al's (2003) review was gymnema sylvestre. Commonly used in Ayurveda, it's Hindi name (gurmar) translates to "destroyer of sugar". After showing promise in animal studies (see Yeh et al's, 2003, review for more info.) groups of patients with type 1 diabetes (Shanmugasundaram et al., 1990) and type 2 diabetes (Baskaran et al., 1990) showed an improvement in glycemic control using a gymnema sylvestre extract along with convential treatment compared to a control group who received conventional treatment alone. It has also been found that gymnema extract can stop increases in blood sugar by reduce glucose absorption from the intestine in guinea pigs (Shimizu et al., 1997).

The mechanisms underlying gymnema's effects are unknown, a 2004 study suggested that in diabetes liver and kidney tissues are more vulnerable to oxidative stress and that gymnema montanum leaf extract may have eliminated reactive free radicals that might affect cell functioning (Ananthan et al., 2004). However it's unclear whether gymnema montanum is the same gymnema sylvestre.

Ananthan, R., Latha, M., Ramkumar, K.M., Pari, L., Baskar, C., & Narmatha Bai, V., (2004). Modulatory effects of gymnema montanum leaf extract on alloxan-induced oxidative stress in wistar rats. Nutrition. 20 (3): 280-285  

Yeh, G.Y., Eisenberg, D.M., Kaptchuk, T.J., & Phillips, R.S., (2003). systematic review of herbs and dietary supplements for glycemic control in diabetes. Diabetes care. 26(4): 1277-1294

Baskaran K, Ahamath BK, Shanmugasundaram KR, Shanmugasundaram ERB. (1990). Antidiabetic effect of a leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus patients. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 30:295–305.

Shanmugasundaram, E.R.B., Rajeswari, G., Baskaran, K., Kumar, B.R.R., Shanmugasundaram, K.R., Ahmath, B.K., (1990). Use of Gymnema sylvestre leaf extract in the control of blood glucose in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 30:281–294,.

Shimizu, K., Iino, A., Nakajima, J., Tanaka, K., Nakajyo, S., Urakawa, N., Atsuchi, M., Wada, T., & Yamashita, C., (1997). Suppression of Glucose Absorption by some fractions extracted from Gymnema sylvestre leaves. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science. 59(4): 245-251.

5) Alliums

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Onions, garlic, shallots and chives are in just about every kitchen in one form or another and they are full of medicinal properties. they have been found to help with lowering cholesterol levels, regulating blood pressure, and boosting the immune system. It's safe to say that we could all benefit from eating more raw garlic.Many studies have confirmed garlic's blood sugar-lowering capabilities;
  • Augusti & Sheela (1996) found that a garlic antioxidant extract aided in regulating blood sugar in diabetic rats, and
  • a 2006 study found that garlic extract significantly decreased blood sugar while increasing insulin levels in diabetic rats to the extent that the antidiabetic effect of garlic extract was found to be more effective than that of glibenclamide (Eidi et al., 2006)
  • El-Demerdash et al., (2005) found that regular doses of garlic and onion juice (either one or the other) exerts antioxidant effects while regulating blood sugar. such that the researchers suggested that these effects might help to alleviate liver and renal damaged caused by diabetes.
  • In a 2009 review, onion extract was found to be effective for lowering blood sugar levels and body weight. (kook et al., 2009), whereas this study found that only garlic was able to reduce blood sugar significantly (Jelodar et al.,2005)
It has even beed suggested that aged garlic extract might be able to prevent diabetic complications (ahmed & ahmed, 2006). For tips on incorporate raw garlic into your diet click here, we added our own recipe in the comments.
We make fresh toum every few days, it’s delicious and it’s not harsh on your tummy! It’s helped us lots and is thanks to my housemates (em) mum who, like Toum, is from lebanon:
  • 4 or more cloves of garlic (peeled)*
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • salt to taste (Funnily enough, the salt is actually necessary to temper the harshness of the lemon and garlic.)
You can either use a mortar and pestle or a blender, we’ve done it both ways and it’s come out fine.
1) Crush or blend the garlic cloves and salt until smooth (if you’re using a blender, adding the lemon juce at this point will make the process faster).
2) Once you have a smooth paste, gradually add the oil and blend until mayonnaisey.
* If you want to increase the garlic, remember to increase the olive oil accordingly.
Ahmed, M.S., & Ahmed, N., (2006). Antiglycation properties of aged garlic extract: possible role in prevention of diabetic complications. The Journal of Nutrition. 136: 796S-799S.

Augusti, K.T., Sheela, C.G., (1996). Antiperoxide effect of S-allyl cysteine sulfoxide, an insulin secretagogue, in diabetic rats. Experientia, 52(2):115-120

El-Demerdash, F.M., Yousef, M.I., & El-Naga, N.I., (2005). Biochemical study on they hypoglycemic effects of onion and garlic in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 43(1):57-63

Eidi, A., Eidi, M., & Esmaeli, E., (2006). Antidiabetic effect of garlic (Allium sativum L.) in normal and streptozotocin-induced rats. Phytomedicine. 13 (9-10): 624-629.

Jelodar, G.A., Maleki, M., Motadayen, M.H., & Sirus, S., (2005). Effect of fenugreek, onion and garlic on blood glucose and histopathology of pancreas of alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Indian Journal of Medical Sciences. 59(2): 64-69.

Kook, S., Kim, G.H., & Choi, K., (2009). The antidiabetic effect of onion and garlic in experimental diabetic rats: meta-analysis. Journal of medicinal food. 12(3): 552-560.

6) Apple Cider Vinegar
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Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, a compound with antiglycemic effects, one small study found that adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes benefitted from consuming 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar before bed, helping to reduce waking blood sugar levels (White & Johnston, 2004), Johnston et al., (2004) also found that type 2 diabetics (or people with insulin resistance) that consumed 20g apple cider vinegar 2 minutes before eating a high-carbohydrate meal helped to improve insulin sensitivity. Last year further research found that type 1 diabetics who consumed 2 tablespoons of vinegar prior to eating showed reduced levels of hyperglycemia when compared with a control group (Mitrou et al., 2010).

Another study found that apple cider vinegar reduced bad cholesterol (Low Density Lipids), increased good cholesterol in normal and diabetic rats (Shishehbor et al., 2008).
Johnston, C.S., Kim, C. M, & Buller, A.J., (2004). Vinegar improves insulin sensitivty to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetics. Diabetes care. 27(1): 281-282.

Mitrou, P., Raptis, A.E., Lambadiari, V., Boutati, E., Petsiou, E., Spanoudi, F., Papakonstantinou, E., Maratou, E., Economopoulus, T., Dimitriadis, G., & Raptis, S.A., (2010). Vinegar decreases postprandial hyperglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes care. 33(2): e27.

Shishehbor, F., Mansoori, A., Sarkari, A.R., Jalali, M.T., & Latifi, S.M., (2008). Apple cider vinegar attenuates lipid profile in normal and diabetic rats. Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences. 11 (23): 2634-2638.

White, A.M., & Johnston, C.S., (2004). Vinegar Ingestion at bedtime moderates waking glucose concentrations in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes. Diabetes care. 30(11): 2814-2815.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Foods that (might) help with blood sugar levels part 1

Everyone is watching their blood sugar these days, from dieters to diabetics, PCOS sufferers to folk who are just insulin resistant. As you might know, Em has type 2 diabetes and she manages it by eating a very strict diet.

The TBT household is refined sugar free, the only sweeteners that L and I eat and Em doesn't are maple syrup and raw honey. But after speaking to other type 2 diabetics, it would seem that some people get away with certain food while some foods act as triggers; Ally, one of Em's co-workers, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 4 years ago and can still eat half a pineapple or honey on toast with no effect on her blood sugar, but she can't tolerate coconut water despite all of the literature citing coconuts as a fantastic food for normalising blood sugar levels.

In light of these individual differences, we hit the internet hard in search of foods that have been proven to help control and/or reduce blood sugar levels. There are so many sites out there that list scientific studies touting the newest herbal cure-all but always remember to doublecheck - so much of the research cited in various articles over the net were wrong or just inaccurate. We've listed all of the references here, with links where available, so you can check them out for yourselves.

As we've stated in earlier posts; we are not health practitioners. if you have found anything in this post that you are interested in incorporating into your health regime check with your health practitioner to make sure that it is safe and suitable for you.

1) Cinnamon

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One study found that taking 1, 3 or 6 g of cinnamon a day reduces blood sugar levels, bad cholesterol and total cholesterol in type 2 diabetics. The researchers went on to suggest that including cinnamon in the diet of type 2 diabetics might reduce risk factors associated with type2 diabetes and heart diseases (Khan et al., 2003). Later, scientists found that in 2 out of 3 clinical trials cassia cinnamon reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 10.3-29%. However, it didn't lower hba1c levels (the amount of sugar that sticks to blood cells, click here  for a full description) (Dugoua et al., 2007).

Other studies have found that cinnamon has a modest effect on lowering blood sugar levels in people with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes but, it has been argued that further research is needed to confirm any benefits cinnamon may provide(Pham et al., 2007; Kirkham et al., 2009).

Because of these mixed findings a review of cinnamon found that while it may well be a useful complimentary treatment, there are very few well-controlled clinical studies and this limits the conclusions that can be made about the health benefits of cinnamon (Gruenwald et al., 2010).

Em's own experience: I'm very lucky in that I have a very open-minded GP who is happy to discuss foods and research with me. I've found that incorporating cinnamon has helped to bring my blood sugar down after a meal, I lean towards drinking it as a tea either by putting 1 scant teaspoon of cinnamon into a cup of hot water. Or by drinking Yogi Classic Cinnamon Spice tea which is a blend comprising mostly of Cinnamon, with cardamom, ginger, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and ginger extracts.

Khan, A., Safdar, M., Ali Khan, M.M., Khattak, K.N., & Anderson, R.A., (2003). Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes care. 26(12): 3215-3218.

Pham, A.Q., Kourlas, H., & Pham, D.Q., (2007). Cinnamon supplementation in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Pharmacotherapy. 27 (4): 595-599.
Kirkham, S., Akilen, R., Sharma, S., & Tsiami, A., (2009). The potential of cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Diabetes, obesity & metabolism. 11(12): 1100-1113.
Gruenwald, J., Freder, J., & Armbruester, N., (2010). Cinnamon and health. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 50(9): 822-834.
Dugoua, J.J., Seely, D., Perri, D., Cooley, K., Forelli, T., Mills, E., & Koren, G., (2007). From type 2 diabetes to antioxidant activity: a systematic review of the safety and efficacy of common cassia and cinnamon bark. Canadian journal of physiology and pharmacology. 85(9): 837-847.
2) Dandelion

 In a 2001 study, researchers found that dandelion extracts reduced blood sugar levels by up to 20% in as little as 2 hours (petlevski et al., 2001). However, this study was done on mice. Not that we're bashing the animal model.

Another study found that diabetes is as effective as some diabetes drugs (specifically glibenclamide) at stimulating insulin production, without the side-effects that drugs carry (Hussain et al., 2004). Furthermore, dandelion root has prebiotic properties, the leaves and root are said to aid digestion, inflammation (although this is a bit of a controversial claim and research findings have been inconsistent) and inhibit the production of blood vessels (a factor involved in the development of cancer) in rats. If you'd like to know more about this plant click here for a review.

Up until researching this post we didn't know that dandelion was useful in managing type 2 diabetes so we have no individual experience to reference!

Chakurski I, Matev M, Koichev A, Angelova I, Stefanov G. (1981) Treatment of chronic colitis with an herbal combination of Taraxacum officinale, Hypericum perforatum, Melissa officinalis, Calendula officinalis and Foeniculum vulgare [article in Bulgarian]. Vutr Boles. 20(6):51-54.
Petlevski R, Hadzija M, Slijepcevic M, Juretic D. "Effect of 'antidiabetis' herbal preparation on serum glucose and fructosamine in NOD mice." Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2001;75(2-3):181-184

Hussain Z, Waheed A, Qureshi RA, et al. The effect of medicinal plants of Islamabad and Murree region of Pakistan on insulin secretion from INS-1 cells. Phytother Res. 2004;18(1):73-77.

3) Bitter Melon, Karela, Mormodica.

This vegetable has had a lot of research attention, one literature review declared that bitter melon was one of seven promising supplements for diabetes( Yeh et al., 2003) but that further research is warranted. Another study found that it was as effective as glibenclamide in reducing blood sugar levels (Virdi et al., 2003).
It turns out that this funny looking vegetable contains compounds that regulate blood sugar, as they have a similar structure to insulin. Research has also shown that it can even prevent the liver releasing excess glucose into the bloodstream (Basch et al., 2003).
According to various sources this is low in calories,high in dietary fibres and vitamins B1, B2, B3, C, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, phosphorous, manganese, iron, beta-carotene, calcium and potassium.

Em's experience: This is certainly deserving of it's name, I juiced it once and it was....strong! But it did help lower my blood sugar. Some cites talk about sauteeing it with salt, which might actually be the best way to eat it.

Basch, E., Gabardi, S., & Ulbricht, C., (2003). Bitter melon (Momordica charantia): a review of efficacy and safety. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 60(4); 356-359.
Virdi J, Sivakami S, Shahani S, et al. (2003). Antihyperglycemic effects of three extracts from Momordica charantia. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 88(1):107-111.
Yeh, G.Y., Eisenberg, D.M., Kaptchuk, T.J., & Phillips, R.S., (2003). systematic review of herbs and dietary supplements for glycemic control in diabetes. Diabetes care. 26(4): 1277-1294

Have you ever tried bitter melon or dandelion? How do you incorporate cinnamon into your diet?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Free Oskia Trial Set with every Naturisimo order until 23rd feb!

Just type in OSKIA in the promo code box at checkout!

Sheabutter cottage Authentic African Liquid Soap Review

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Rating: 5/5. Available from Sheabutter Cottage with prices starting from £3.00 (+p&p).

Wow, Akua Wood cannot put a foot wrong. Her product selection is of such high quality that there is really nothing we can say other than "how come this lady has not won more awards?".

This natural, handmade Soap is made to a traditional recipe using Cocoa ash, plaintain skins, unrefined coconut oil and unrefined shea butter. Lush! It is used in West Africa to soothe the skin, and it's free from all chemical nasties. On top of that it's from Sheabutter Cottage, check out our review here.

This soap has a mild smoky smell, and is pretty much all purpose; hand wash, body wash, shampoo. But there is one word of warning if you are going to use it as a shampoo; use it sparingly and only apply it to the hair shaft - don't go near your roots, like soapnuts we found that this can dry your hair out. Used on the hair alone however, it is a fantastic shampoo and really nourishes the hair. We like to add essential oils to it sometimes, but most of the time we use as it is!

Once again, we love this Sheabutter Cottage product! It is such amazing quality, is fairtrade and it's gentle enough to be used on all skin types!
Ingredients: water, cocoa ash, plantain skin, unrefined coconut oil, unrefined shea butter.

Monday, 21 February 2011

The many uses of Argan Oil. . .

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Over the past two years we've noticed that whenever the quest for eternal youth is in play you'll almost always hear the words "Argan" and "oil" being splashed around . It has become one of beauty's new go-tos, but what most people don't realise is that it is available for culinary use - at cheaper cost.

Argan oil is made from the nuts of the Argan Tree, or Argania spinosa a relic of the Earth's Tertiary period. The Argan Tree can live for up to 200 years and is under UNESCO protection.

Argan Oil is rich in vitamin E, phytosterols, carotenoids, essential fatty acids and is more resistant to oxidation than olive oil. As you have probably heard, it's said to have anti-aging properties and might just help skin conditions such as acne, eczema and even dry skin patches. Topical use reinforces the hydro-lipidic film for improved skin hydration, speed up cell oxygenation thus increasing skin elasticity, and it can help to prevent the formation and reduce appearance of stretch marks.

It is also claimed that consumption of Argan Oil can help to lower cholesterol levels, stimulate circulation and boost the immune system.
Now, we've seen a number of argan oils not all labelled we did a bit of digging. From what we could find all argan oil is organic which makes paying more for the organic label seem a little silly (thank you so much to the people who got back to us on this one, but if any of you readers have evidence to the contrary do let us know!).

According to our sources all argan oil sold is the produce of a women's co-operative that shares the profits among the women of the Berber tribe. The co-operative has also established an ecosystem reforestation project, so that argan supply and that the income of the Berber tribe women will not disappear. This article by Melissa Breyer further explains how Argan oil is not only a beauty wonder but is heavily involved in women's rights, specifically those of the Berber tribe. Check it out when you get the chance.

Just so you know; the difference between culinary Argan oil and cosmetic Argan oil is that culinary Argan oil is lightly toasted.

How we use it

In food: Argan oil tastes nutty and delicious, we use it in salads and as a general dressing for foods. We've not cooked with it yet, but we really love it. It is easy on the stomach and, from our experience, seems to help digestion.

On our skin: Argan oil is thicker than olive oil, you only need 1 or 2 drops for your face and neck, and it absorbs quickly. It leaves the skin plumped up, soft and totally moisturised.

On our hair: Argan oil penetrates the hair shaft, nourishing the hair from inside out. Hair is left shiny, bouncy and manageable. We usually mix 1 tbsp of argan oil with 1 tbsp of coconut oil, gently heat it up and apply it to the hair, rinsing out after at least 30 minutes.

We're still in our twenties so we can't testify to Argan oil's age-defying effects, what we can say is that it is incredibly nourishing and that it does plump up and revitalise the skin, imparting a subtle glow. It does work on dry skin patches and L likes to use it on occasion, but coconut oil is just as effective.

As we mentioned above, it makes a fantastic hair mask, sometimes we sub Argan oil for olive oil in this hair mask. And it makes a lovely salad dressing.

So where do we buy our luscious Argan oil from?

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Belazu, available in 250ml for £14.95 (inc UK p&p).

If you're interested in other argan products, check out our posts on Cioccolatina's Argan & Cocoa Butter Liquid Shampoo and Live Native's Essential Earth Exfoliating Cleanser.

Have you ever used Argan oil? Let us know what you thought!
P.S. we're not sure that argan oil is suitable for nut allergy sufferers, so do be careful!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Soy sauce alternative: Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos Review

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Rating: 10/10. Available from Red23 for £8.99 (+p&p).
The good people at Coconut Secret have done it again; first there was their fantastic coconut nectar and now we have the aminos (we plan to get through the whole range, and we will step-by-step! Vivapure stock the coconut nectar, but Red23 stock coconut nectar, coconut aminos and coconut cider vinegar).

All of the Coconut Secret products are made from the nutrient rich sap of coconut blossoms, which has a GI of 35 (low), is packed full of amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, B vitamins and has a nearly neutral pH. All of their products are also raw (in case you were wondering, they are suitable for cooking too!).

These aminos contain 17 naturally occurring amino acids (up to 14 times more amino acids than soy sauce), are gluten-free, soy-free, gmo-free, dairy-free, organic and it's suitable for raw foodies and vegans alike. On top of that it contains 63% less sodium than soy sauce.

Coconut Secret use hand-harvested, sun-dried sea salt in the making of this product. Which may fizz upon opening, this is purely because of the natural fermentation of the product. It is stable at room temperature for up to 3 years (if it lasts that long), but if you find yourself with a fizzy bottle refrigeration can reduce the fizzing.

The Review

We can't get enough of this product, it's sweeter than soy sauce but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's fantastic with sushi, salads and stir fries. We also use it as an all-purpose seasoning.

We avoid non-fermented soy products (i.e. the ones that are widely available in the U.K.) because it's said to negatively impact thyroid function. So this is a perfect product for anyone who is soy free, on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD - if anyone knows anything to the contrary please let us know.), suffers from a thyroid problem, is looking out for their health or just likes to try new ingredients!
Have you ever tried anything from Coconut Secret? What did you think? Let us know in the comments
Ingredients: Naturally aged coconut sap blended with sea salt. Certified organic.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Dr Alkaitis Organic Universal Mask Review

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Rating: 5/5, available in 100g jars from lovelula for £56.17 (+p&p), being content for £55 (+p&p), and naturisimo for £55 (Inc p&p).

Suitable for all skin types and touted by the beauty director of Tatler herself, this mask is deeply nourishing, calms, soothes and rejuvenates the skin. On top of that it is 100% raw and organic, which means that it is full of enzymatic action!

Last weekend, at Em's aunts annual february barbecue, we discovered that Em's aunt had invested in this beauty and after a polite request she gave us two tablespoons worth to try out for ourselves. I know, it doesn't sound like alot, but it's looking like it will last us a while. You only need 1 teaspoon per application, and Em's aunt said that it was so rich we'd not need to use it more than once a week at the most. We agree.

To use, you mix one teaspoon of the powder with one teaspoon of water in a small bowl until it forms a thin, vibrant green paste. Apply evenly to the face, neck and decolletage keeping moist by spritzing it with water. After 10-20 minutes, gently wash off with a soft washcloth or your hands and some lukewarm water.
For greater benefits Dr Alkaitis suggests that you mix the teaspoon of the powder with goats milk yogurt and a teaspoon of raw honey.

the alkaitis site list this preparation:
How to Use: (my personal favorite recipe)
  • Mix one full teaspoon of Universal Mask with
  • One full teaspoon of organic goat milk yogurt (or Keifer)
  • Add one full teaspoon of raw organic honey
  • Blend well in a small bowl. (The texture should be like a creamy yogurt, not too thick or thin.)
  • Apply with fingertips and keep on for up to 20 minutes.
  • Rinse with warm damp towels and follow with Dr. Alkaitis’ Herbal Toner.
Note: You may choose to only use water, and omit either the honey and or yogurt. All are perfectly fine choices. So long as an aqueous substance activates the mask, it will work. If you do only use water with this mask, keep water mister handy to spritz your face every now and then to keep the mixture moist while on your skin.
We've only used this twice, for the first application we just used water and spritzed our faces with water to keep the mask moist. For the second application we tried goats milk yogurt and raw honey, again using water to keep the mask moist.

First application results (mask powder with water and spritzing).
Wow, this is super deep cleansing!! I get inflamed skin and a rash that spans across my cheeks if I eat anything that my body doesn't agree with imparting a red glow. On the day of the first application I had been bought a gluten free honey flapjack from our canteen. Turns out they had (a) omitted some things on the ingredient list or (b) not fully understood what gluten free means when it comes to oats. My skin was inflamed, and the rash was in full force. One minute after the mask was removed I could feel my skin had completely soothed, the rash had gone and my skin had returned to normal.

L's skin is combination skin, she'd had a stressful week and was suffering from a breakout; this mask took it away. Rendering her blemishes practically invisible and banishing the majority of her spots. The ones left were no longer red and

Em is lucky enought to have normal skin and it responded immediately, her skin looked brand new but you should know that this mask doesn't impart a glow and you will need to moisturise afterwards. What this mask does do is cleanse, soothe and rejuvenate. It sounds like a series of buzzwords but that is really what this mask does.

Second application (mask powder with goats milk yogurt, raw honey and spritzing)

This time the mask was much more moisturising, giving the skin a dewy glow. It helped to tame L's combination skin and gave all of us that gorgeous glow. Definitely worth trying with goats milk yogurt and raw honey!

All in all, this product is amazing! One day we'll invest in a jar because we still have just over 1 tablespoon left. We will treasure it!

!! Allergy warning - contains Grass. Not suitable for people with grass allergies!!
!!Not suitable for vegans - contains goats milk protein!!
Ingredients: Oat Buds*, Organic Grass Juice Complex (Kamut Grass*. Alfalfa*, Oat Grass* and Wheat Grass*), Sea Vegetable Complex (Chlorella**, Dulse**, Spirulina**, Ainu-Wakame*, Sea Palm** and Red Algae**), Goat’s Milk Protein*. Vegetable Complex (Carrots*, Cabbage, Sweet Potato*, Kale*, Broccoli*, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, Cucumber, Ginger*, Onions, Cauliflower, Beets*, Tomatoes* and Parsley*). Organic Seed Complex (Pumpkin*, Sesame*, Amaranth*, Flax*, Soy*, Oats*, Rye*, Buckwheat*, Millet*, Barley*, Brown Rice*, and Sunflower*).
* Organic
** Ethically wild-crafted

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Alternatives to sugar # 2: Lucuma powder

Lucuma is a fruit native to the Andes, sometimes going under the name lucmo or eggfruit. It has a dry flesh and tastes like a cross between maple syrup and sweet potato.

Image borrowed from

Nutritionally speaking, it has high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin B3, iron and other B vtiamins. It's also high in fibre and, according to some sources, has a low GI but we've not found any figures to back that up!

Unfortunately, there isn't much information available for Lucuma, as it's a fruit its sweetness comes from its own fructose, which is processed by the liver (much like mesquite and other fruits). Em uses it every so often, but we do combine it with mesquite as a sweetener (usually in equal proportions), sometimes we add a teaspoon of lucuma to our morning shake to add a bit of maple-y sweetness. It has had no effects on Ems blood sugar but as with mesquite we combine it with high protein, high fibre foods.

It has a rich and creamy texture, and can be used in both raw and cooked foods. We've used it in smoothies, ice creams, health bars, biscuits, cakes, pies and fruit purees.

If any of this intrigues you, Lucuma Powder is available from Vivapure for £9.49 upwards (+p&p), Detox your world for £4.95 upwards (+p&p), Have raw cake and eat it for £7.50 upwards(+p&p), the Fresh network for £4.55 upwards (+p&p), and Raw living for & £7.45 upwards (+p&p)

N.B. While very interested in nutrition we are not qualified nutritionists so, as with all of our food posts, we would advise you to research thoroughly and consult your health practitioner before making any changes to your diet.

Bargain alert!! Free Jurlique Hand Cream with every order @ Naturisimo

We blogged about jurlique's lovely rose hand cream here, and now you can get it for free simply by typing HANDCREAM at checkout. Stock is limited, so get one while you can!!!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Eating @ Saf, Kensington. The Review.

Today, L, Sarah (our workmate) & I were working in London. We'd already noted a few places to eat should we have to look, quite serendipitously we were minutes away from the Kensington branch of Saf, located in the Wholefoods market.

Lol, we took loads of photos but L and I had both forgotten that we hadn't put the memory card back in. So unfortunately you're just going to have to rely on our description of the food!

Service was great, the food arrived quickly and it wasn't too busy, which was fab because we were sooo hungry!!

L ordered the detox salad for £6.49, basically it was a mix of cabbage, sprouted mung beans, lentils and sunflower seeds, seaweed, radish, cucumber and avocado, with an omega oil and pure-xp superfoods dressing.
L says: It was lovely, the flavour combination was good and the serving side was on the large side. I have to admit that I did sneak taste some of Sarah's Mushroom farinata which was delish!!

As you've guessed, Sarah had the Mushroom farinata for £8.49. This was a cooked dish comprising of a chickpea crepe, with caramelised onions, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, mixed peppers and a vegan garlic aioli served with a very small bit of salad.
Sarah says: It was light but filling, the portion size was good but the salad was so small that it seemed unnecessary. The farinata was delicious, but the piece de resistance was the garlic aioli. I feel that the price was good, rivalling places like wagamamas.

And finally, I had the Saf bowl for £13.49. A bit steep but I've been really funny with foods recently and this seemed to be the only dish that was safe for me. It comprised of parsnip rice, courgette sesame noodles, cured chili mushrooms, avocado and homemade pickles.
I say: It was yummy, the parsnip rice was made with what seemed like marcona almonds (which were a little unexpected) and black sesame seeds. The homemade pickles were similar to a mild cabbage kimchi and the courgette sesame noodles had a vinegar based dressing. All in all it was lovely, and the portion size was good. But they were a little heavy on the homemade pickles, nice as they were it didn't necessarily add to the dish. dessert, we ummd and ahhd and then thought that since we were there we may as well....We ordered the Berry Cheesecake for £8.39 (described as nutmeg creme, fresh berries and coconut crust) and the Chocolate and Orange Cake for £8.39 (described as ginger emulsion, orange zest, raw cacao nibs).

First thoughts: Way too sweet and way too small. The berry cheesecake came in 3 teensy slices on a massive plate, and the chocolate orange cake came as a decentish size but was put on a massive plate. What is the obsession with accentuating how small the dessert is?

The chocolate and orange cake flavour was disguised by the ginger emulsion which gave it a pretty funny taste. That coupled with the sweetness made the chocolate taste disappear and the orange flavour was a result of a teaspoon of cured orange zest placed atop the cake.

the berry cake remained true to it's berry flavour, but again, it was just too sweet. There was an initial berry flavour followed by a taste-bud-overwhelming agave flavour. If the portion had come out as a whole piece it would have been too much to get through.

We'd definitely go again, but we wouldn't order dessert.

TBT Total rating: 8/10.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Laverstoke Park Farm Buffalo Milk Review

rating: 8/10, available from here for £3.98 2x750ml (minimum order £30, +p&p).

Just to refresh your memory Laverstoke Park Farm is a biodynamic organic farm producing top of the range fresh produce and meats.

Buffalo milk is a good source of Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Riboflavin, Vitamin A, C, B12 and Thiamin. It also contains Copper, Folate, Iron, Manganese, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Sodium, Vitamin B6 and Zinc in small amounts. It is higher in protein than cow's milk, and some people have drank it to treat eczema and psoriasis. We've not tried it yet, but when we do we will post a review in light speed!

From what we've read, buffalo's milk has met mixed reviews among people with lactose intolerance. (taken from here).
Ok, not quite light speed, but we got there in the end!
The taste of Buffalo milk is very creamy and resultantly we found it to be very filling. So we couldn't consume much at once. It did maintain our energy levels, but it aggravated my stomach. Em and L were fine, but it should be approached with care if your tummy isn't too happy with dairy. It didn't do much to L's skin, but she loved it anyway. She used the milk in kefir, banana milkshakes, and other wonderful sweets and they all came out beautifully.

It comes in a cardboard carton that is recyclable and my niece and nephew loved playing matador after drinking some buffalo milk. Yes, we know, Matadors and buffalos usually don't come up in the same sentence, but it was fun all the same! Our friends loved it too, though they didn't play matadors or imitate buffalos after drinking it!

All in all it was a hit. But as we've said above, it should be approached with care if your tummy isn't too happy with dairy!

We hope you've had a lovely day!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Time for tea: Seagreens Culinary Ingredient Review

Rating: 3/5 (specifically for people with nutritional difficulties, otherwise it scores a 1/5), available from for £11.95 (+p&p).

We try to keep healthy, we push our tastebuds to their limits in an attempt to avoid (or at least minimise) tummy troubles, on top of that we all have health conditions that we need to control and certain foods exacerbate certain health conditions. So it's fair to say that, compared to most people, our diet is limited. Which is why we were quite excited when Em came home after work with a jar of Seagreens® Culinary Ingredient (suitable for both cooked and raw foods) from a colleague who had reached the conclusion that was moments away from dawning on us.

It's milled grains of wild ascophylum nodosum seaweed, and its use as a healthy replacement for salt was recommended by a 2008 study conducted by Sheffield Hallam University's Food Innovation project, and is supposed to be used by Bart and Waitrose as an ingredient.

Update: the suggested daily serving for this product is half a teaspoon. The following instructions pertain to Seagreens granules:quarter of a teaspoon if aiming to maintain health, half a teaspoon if you are very ill or pregnant, 1 teaspoon can only be used under professional guidance. Your suitable daily serving is said to have more iron than a plate of broccoli and more calcium than a cup of milk and it's flavour enhancing abilities come from the fact that it is rich in amino acids. When included in a meal with carbs they claim that it helps to reduce acidity and flatulence.

It's supposed to be a flavour enhancer, is packed full of nutrients and allegedly assists the body to rid itself of chemical additives and environmental toxins.

In terms of it's flavour enhancing abilities it works....if you want your food to taste of a new kind of seaweed. We don't mind seaweed, in fact, we love it in salad but this culinary ingredient really doesn't go with something like chicken stock, or butternut squash soup or anything liquid.  If you sprinkle it on salad, or noodles then you won't taste anything. Every now and then you might get a burst of mildly tart seaweed flavour between your teeth but other than that your food will taste the same as it would have without the seagreens.

On top of that, we've not noticed much of a change in our digestion. Hmmmm...we're not sold on it. We'll use it until it's finished but I doubt very much that any one of us would buy it.

We'd recommend it for people who have nutritional deficiencies, an autoimmune disease (even diabetes, but Em is scrunching her face up right now!) or any kind of health situation where extra nutrition is required.

Have you tried any Seagreens products? what did you think??

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Time for Tea: Dr Red Spearole Tea....a few months on

This is a follow-up to our original Dr Red post found here.

3 cups of Dr Red Spearole tea a day claimed to:
  • help with weight loss and help the body process sugar
  • help lower blood pressure (if high)
  • act as an aid to digestion.
What we've found is that it has helped digestion and is very stimulating, so it's best not to drink it in the evening. Other than that, we've not found much. It's delicious, and we can't complain about the added antioxidants to our diet...but there has been no weight loss, not even a little. It hasn't helped with em's blood sugar and given that we don't eat sugar as such...we can't really test it.

We didn't have anyone to test the blood pressure claim on, so we couldn't test it.

Perhaps it would work on someone who ate a lot of processed foods and all of this is a testament to our health...perhaps it needs to be drunk in greater quantities...either way, you know what we've found!

Sorry guys, this seems to be one minty tea. Minty-er than usual, but it's made no difference to us!
Have you had any experience with Dr Red Spearole tea? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Foods to keep you going at work (even if you commute)

Occasionally, me, L, and a couple of the girls from the office go out for lunch (Em doesn't work anywhere near us so she doesn't get to partake in this little ritual!). But the options are scarce, today I found that my favourite nearby restaurant was using a new dressing on our go-to chickpea and feta salad that was "hard to describe". By that, they meant that it was bought in and the list of ingredients was too long to describe to a customer. Not so good for those among us who have problems with, and go to great lengths to avoid, various foods.

So here's a list of the best foods we've found to keep you going throughout the day, remember to not to forget the powers of nuts, dried berries and fruits (preferably ones that haven't been sulfured or had sweeteners added to them), seeds and coconut flakes for all round nutritional value!!

1) Incan Berries

image borrowed but we've forgotten where we found the image - sorry!

Available from detox your world with prices starting from £4.35 (+p&p).
These little treasures also go under the names goldenberries, agauaymanto berries or Cape Gooseberries and originate from South America. Sweet and Tangy, Incan berries are a good source of beta carotene, protein, thiamine, phosphorous, vitamin C & niacin. They are also high in protein and pectin, and can aid intestinal health.
Incan berries are also rich in antioxidants and help to reduce carcinogens and inflammation. But these berries are expensive, when we can afford it we buy a bag and mix it with raisins, dried berries, nuts and seeds.

2) Cacao Nibs

image borrowed from

Available from Creative Nature in 1kg bags for £19.99 (including p&p), Detox Your World with prices ranging between £3.75-£23.95 (+p&p), and The Fresh Network with prices ranging between £3.55-£126.50. 
Crunchy and rich, raw cacao nibs are perfect for the after lunch energy dip (what is it about 2pm?). raw cacao is a mild stimulant and has the highest antioxidant value of all natural foods (scoring a hefty 28,000 ORAC scored, nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine. To give you an idea of how high the raw cacao ORAC score is;  Dark chocolate scores 13,120 and Milk chocolate scores 6,740).

Raw cacao also has anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties, and it is packed full of nutrients like oleic acid, magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, manganese and some B vitamins.

Other health benefits include anti-depressant and appetite-suppressant properties, along with raw cacao making a great study aid by increasing mental alertness and concentration. For a super yummy trail mix; combine a handful each of goji berries, coconut chips and cacao nibs.
3) InSpiral Kale Chips

Image borrowed from

Available from the fresh network for £2.95 (+p&p), and raw living for £2.85 (+p&p). Available in house from the Inspiral cafe in Camden, London.
Yes, we know, they don't sound or look very appetising. But these Kale chips are delicious, taste like real crisps, come in a variety of flavours (such as baobab and cyder vinegar, cheesie purple corn, spicy wasabi) and are a combination of curly kale, cashew nuts, braggs liquid aminos, himalayan crystal salt and accompanying ingredients specific to each flavour.  
Aaand they come with the added benefit of being packed full of nutrients, which are light on your belly and easy to digest. Perfecto for lunch...or even a midday snack!
4) Chia seeds

Image borrowed from
Available from Have raw cake and eat it with prices ranging between £4.50 & £38.50 (+p&p), Vivapure with prices starting at £10.50 (+p&p), and Raw living with prices being £4.95 for 250g and £17.95 for 1kg (+p&p).   These teeny seeds packed with omega 3 fatty acids, phosphorous, manganese and dietary fibre can help to control blood sugar levels and ease digestion. Add 2 teaspoonsful to a bit of water, nut milk, dairy, coconut milk or water, leave to sit for 5-15 minutes and it will turn into a pudding consistency, add vanilla extract with a dash of stevia and you have a sweet snack that is light and will keep you going all day! Alternatively, make it savoury or have it plain! Remember though you only need a tiny amount, otherwise you'll be left with a stodgey mess!

5) Juice Bars

image borrowed from

Available from Juice Master with prices ranging from £1.79-£69.99 (+p&p)and health stores across the country.
These bars are packed full of nutrients and enzymes, are raw and taste lovely! They come in 2 flavours; berry and vegetable and are very filling. They boost your energy and are especially useful if you work shifts or are always on the go!

6) Nakd Bars.
image borrowed from
Available from Juicemaster with prices ranging from £0.84 (+p&p), in the free from section of most supermarkets and health stores.

These bars are snack bars comprising mainly of fruit and nuts (and, in some cases, oats), they are raw and come in a range of flavours such as apple, berry, chocolate mint, cocoa orange. They are great snack bars, but primal folk beware; they do have dates and as such are quite high in carbs!

7) Nut butter and an apple.

Image borrowed from
Available from all over the place.
Slice an apple and spread nut butter across, season with salt and pepper if you prefer savoury, go for cinnamon if you need some sweetness! Or sprinkle some trailmix on top! Yummmm!

8) A tin of oily fish, just fish or even fish roe

image borrowed from
Available from most supermarkets.

Mackerel, sardines, tuna, cod roe...the list is endless, just like the nutritional benefit of one of these babies! They'll fill you up, each comes in a variety of flavours, and they are guilt free. In fact they are brain and body food and are followed nicely by some kale chips.

What are your go-to foods to get you through the day?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Online Store Review # 5: The Fresh Network

The Fresh Network promotes a diet high in raw and living foods to anyone who wants to know. They have an online shop, a blog, an ezine, a quarterly magazine and they occasionally do live seminars, talks, teleclasses, and workshops about raw food prep.

Rating: 5/5.

We subscribe to the ezine and regularly shop from the fresh network, they offer a range of raw foods, cooking equipment, supplements, superfoods, books, cds, skin and hair care items & cleansing and detox items.

The customer service is great, a few weeks ago we put an order in and one of our items was out of stock, within 2 hours we got a phone call checking to see whether we still wanted to have our order through. We've never had to return anything, but given how quick they are to respond to a stock problem we don't think there'd be any problems in that instance.

Standard delivery is always with 1-2 days and their range is always growing.

Have you ever shopped with the fresh network?
Let us know what you think in the comments :)

Monday, 7 February 2011

Depression in the family: The acupuncture sessions.

Image borrowed from
So, as you might know the week before last my family and I had been having a difficult time. Since then what feels like a lot has happened, in actuality there has been no change.

We managed to send the relative, who for the purposes of these posts will be labelled K, to the Dr's. But upon K's entry into the doctor's surgery, they decided that they were absolutely fine and told the doctor so. The doctor then asked that a family member attend (with a list of K's symptoms) the next appointment with K to evaluate the situation. We obliged.

The doctor's response; despite a list of K's symptoms, and a very stressed, tearful relative the Dr said........."it looks like mild depression, and a bit of mild anxiety. I can offer you a counselling session in 2-3 months". K returned home triumphant and decided to do what K always does in such situations; go for a bodyblow style argument with the relative closest (K's aggression, passive- or otherwise, is reserved for those closest. Em & L had trouble believing me at first because K is a social butterfly). It's a difficult situation and is incredibly painful to be involved in.

Although I have studied up to Post-graduate level Psychology and have qualifications to attest to that fact, I am not a clinical psychologist. I've only ever experienced mood disorders "socially" rather than "professionally". While there is no doubt that K has a mood disorder, there is no way that we can convince a health professional that K needs help without K admitting that there is a problem.

Research has shown that acupuncture can relieve anxiety and depression in people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - (Hollifield, Sinclair-Lian, Warner, Hammerschlag, 2007. The Journal of Nervous Medical Disorders, 195(6); pp504-513). A review of 8 trials found that acupuncture significantly reduced the severity of depression (Wang et al., 2008). Both papers suggest that further investigation is required, but it's encouraging news. After 6 days of strife we finally managed to persuade K to see an acupuncturist. We had done our homework, a few other relatives had been treated by the same acupuncturist and we gave it a go.

K has only had 2 treatments so far, which has increased their short-term motivation for day-to-day tasks such as washing the car. It's a process and so far there has been a benefit, I'll update you in 1 months time to let you know whether repeat treatments have helped with any other symptoms.

None of us are trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but we have included the following links as references for anyone interested. Please remember to discuss any changes or planned changes to your health practices with your health practitioner.

If you are interested in Acupressure points for depression click here
If you are interested in Auricular Acupuncture points click here
update:Here is a paper by the Acupuncture council reviewing the effectiveness of acupuncture for anxiety and depression.
Thanks for reading, we really appreciate that you spend your precious time with us!

Bargain Alert: Lovelula £10 vouchers now 10% off for one week only!

That's right! Click here for the bargain
they have 10% percent off all gifts in their valentine's section.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Live Native Botanic Earth Antioxidant Mud Mask Review
Rating: 6/5. Available from Live Native in 60g pots for £29.99 (+ £2.45 p&p) and 15g pots for £15.50 (+ £1.95 p&p). Suitable & beneficial for all skin types.

They've done it again, a few months ago it was their essential earth exfoliating cleanser, and now this mask.Ok, ok , so we can't really  give a product over 100% but this one deserves it! For one it has 23k edible gold flakes in it, it smells of the most delicious chocolate known to man. Seriously, if they made this into an edible product, we wouldn't have any left!

To apply you need to mix 1 tsp of the mask mix - that comes as a powder - with 1 tsp lukewarm water until paste like, smear it all over the face and neck avoiding they delicate eye area, sit back and relax, making sure to keep the mask moist. They recommend that you keep it on for 15 minutes and regularly spritz your face with water, floral water or their Essential mist toner or using a warm, damp towel to stop it drying out. We went with (a) warm damp towel, (b) applying it just before a bath so the steam keeps it moist, (c) floral water and (d) water. All were equally successful...apart from the bath thing. I don't know why we thought that would work.

The warm damp towel idea works like a charm, if not a bit messy. As you might know we love our floral water spritzers so that was our favourite, but normal water gave the same effect.

When we took the mask off, the results were immediate and they lasted for 5 days with our usual moisturising routine. Beautiful. We have each had so many compliments on our skin, it's amazing! This face mask feeds the skin with antioxidants, phytochemicals, live active enzymes and minerals. In doing so, it improves skin tone, tightens, refreshens and leaves the face and neck silky smooth. It's the best bought facial mask that we've ever used, we'd go so far as to say that it's better than spa treatments (and cheaper given how many applications you'll get out of one jar). It's perfect for everyone and should be a go-to staple for anyone who likes to buy their skin treats!


Ingredients (97.5% organic): Rhassoul clay*, Cacao powder*, Acai fruit pulp*, Spirulina platensis*, MSM from pine trees, Acerola fruit pulp*, Vanilla extract*, Citric acid*, 23K edible gold flakes (CI 77480).
*denotes organic

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Coco-Loco: The good, the bad and the ugly

We've been through many different coconut products and we're constantly honing which ones have the best effect; just this week we found out that a new organic coconut water that we'd bought for Em was somehow pushing her blood sugar up! Without further ado, we bring you our favourite coconut products:

Coconut Oil
As a rule, never buy refined coconut oil. It's been bleached and deodorised and doesn't do a whole lot for you. Always opt for unrefined coconut oil, and don't be swayed by the "extra virgin oil" claims, there is no such "extra" it is just a clever marketing ploy. While technically not a lie, it's not technically the truth.

If your coconut oil smells rancid and/or is grey in colour; do NOT eat it or cook with it.

Our #1 brand is *drum roll please*. . . . . . . .

Tiana Organic Virgin Coconut Oil available direct from Tiana in containers 250ml - 10kg, with prices starting from £8.75 including free delivery to mainland UK. It tastes delicious, imparts a lovely flavour when you cook with it, and is really creamy.

Coconut oils that just didn't cut it:
  1. Coconoil; packaged in white plastic containers and from a reputable company, our entire order batch was rancid and has been relegated to the depths of our bathroom cupboard never to be used again.
  2. Biona Coconut Oil; the quality with this one differed so greatly from batch to batch that it wasn't worth taking the risk again. Which is a shame.
Coconut Milks
Remember that the same rule applies as above; if your coconut milk smells rancid, tastes funny or has gone grey then do not eat it. It is horrible.

This is a tricky one, there are so many products flooding the market and you have to keep track of the ingredients list. Up until December of last year we were devoted to Pride coconut milk which was simply coconut and water, but now it has been bulked up and we have been forced to move on:

Our two favourites are:

1. Dr Antonio Martins Coco Milk, 500ml available from the fresh network for £2.97 (+p&p), and Red23 for £2.89 (+p&p).
This product is suitable for cooking and uncooking alike! sometimes we just drink it out of the carton, but don't tell anyone!
2. Kingfisher Organic Coconut Milk, 400ml available from Tesco's, Sainsbury's and Asda. We can't find a price or a picture for this right now, so if anyone could help us out that would be fab!

Failing that, we make it ourselves, click here for Elanas recipe.

The products that didn't hit the mark purely due to varying quality were: Tiana Organic Coconut Milk, & Biona Organic Coconut Milk. One suspect coconut milk is Kara freshly pressed coconut milk 1 ltr which contains fruit concentrate extract and sucrose esters two ingredients that aren't so good for blood sugar control.

Coconut Water
Coconut water is a natural isotonic and so is great for after workout rehydration. Our go-to coconut water is. . . .
 Dr Martins Coconut Water, 500ml, available from Red23 for £2.99 (+p&p), the fresh network for £2.97 (+p&p) and Detox your World for £3.12 (+p&p).

Alternatively, we would recommend Fresh Jelly Nuts (young coconuts) from Spices of India for £2.18 -£2.45 .

The coconut water brands that weren't right for us were Biona's Organic Coconut Water which somehow pushed Em's blood sugar up, and Vita Coco purely because it always gives us a stomach ache.

And for the best of the rest:
Goodness direct's 3kg of Raw Coconut flakes for £10.55 (+p&p).
Speciality foods 2kg of handmade palm sugar for £30 (+p&p).
Viva Pure's 354ml Coconut Nectar for £7.95 (+p&p).