Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Jurlique Moisturising Hand Sanitiser Review

image borrowed from
Rating: 5/5, available from Being Content for £5 (+p&p).

Back when I was doing my Masters, we would spend 1 day a week working with non human primates...yep, that's right; monkeys. It was amazing, they are amazing, but that's not what I'm posting about. You see, every time we worked with monkeys we would have to sanitize our hands. Common sense? yes. Nice on the hands? Not so much (but it was worth it).

Fast forward 3 years and I have discovered Jurlique's lovely hand sanitiser. It's most amazing features are that (1) it doesn't dry your skin out and (2)  it doesn't leave your hands smelling of antifreeze or a lady version of lynx. The product claims to eliminate 99.9% of germs in as little as 30 seconds.

These days I don't frequent monkeys (sadly) but I do help out at a friend's farm and I volunteer at a charity shop whenever they need an extra pair of hands - if you saw some of the stuff that people send in you would be grabbing for the nearest bottle of sanitiser.

So, back to Jurlique's sanitiser: it's lightly scented with lemon balm, however, there are a lot of other essential oils and extracts in the product. The smell is not overpowering, to the extent that a migraine sufferer that volunteers with me who is triggered by scented products now carries this product around in her handbag.

This has become our recommended sanitiser; nice on the skin, natural ingredients, and lightly lemony.

Have you tried Jurlique's sanitiser? what did you think?

Ingredients: SD Alcohol 40-B (Alcohol Denat.); Water (Aqua); Carthamus tinctorius (Safflower) Oleosomes; Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer; Mentha piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract; Equisetum arvense Extract; Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract; Melissa officinalis Leaf Extract; Origanum majorana Leaf Extract; Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract; Salvia officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract; Urtica dioica (Nettle) Extract; Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract; Achillea millefolium Extract; Calendula officinalis Flower Extract; SD Alcohol 40-A (Alcohol Denat.); Glycerin; Prostanthera rotundifolia Leaf Extract; Citric Acid; Potassium Sorbate; Sodium Benzoate; Fragrance (Parfum)*; Linalool*; Citronellol*; Geraniol*; Limonene*. *From Natural Essential

Dealing with depression in the family: An update.

It's been 8 months since we tried to convince a relative of mine (known as K) to seek help, so what did he do? Why, what any logical person would do: they put on a happy face, grudgingly went to the doctors once, grudgingly went again with a relative and lied about their life and 'feelings'.

I put quotation marks around that word because K no longer has any feeling for anyone close to him. We can't comment on the outside world, we don't know, he doesn't socialise (and never really has) but does memorise the life stories of their colleagues and refuses to make a note of the health issues of his partner.

K refuses to contribute to the household and picks brutal fights with the weakest member in the household and shouts until the other becomes too frail to respond.

It's safe to say that things have not been easy.

We posted on coping with depression in the family once before (link at the bottom of the post). But there are ways to help yourself:

  • Ladies: Take a shower, dress up, put on some make-up, put on your favourite tunes or read your favourite book and try and let go of all of the stress for a few moments.
  • Dance like a hyperactive child.
  • Make yourself a treat, bake a cake, do some crafting.
  • Dare to dream. This one's an oldie but a goodie, let yourself dream about the things that you want for yourself: That holiday in Goa? check out some photos online and go there for a few minutes.
  • Sing as loud as you can to your favourite song.
  • Laugh at yourself. Everyday we all do something silly, but few of us ever get in on the hilarity of tripping over our own feet (guilty) or wandering around with food in our teeth (ahem).
These tips are also great for any time that you get into a funk, feel a bit down, or are lacking your usual support group

 Hope you've had a lovely day, How do you cheer yourself up? Let us know in the comments!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Being Content 10% off all full price items (excluding ren kits)

Enter AUGBANK at Being Content's checkout before 30.08.2011 & get 10% OFF your order. Excludes Ren  kits, sale Items & all other offers.

Get shopping!!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Reading for the weekend

Huh...When I began this post I really didn't think it would end up that way....
UK readers; have a great bank holiday monday, true to tradition it is raining.
To the rest of our readers: have a lovely monday, and know that even though we have a day off it is too wet to leave the house (unless you want to go to a mall).


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Elimination / Exclusion Diets

Before we begin, a little disclaimer; As we've said before we aren't health professionals in any way shape or form, if you have found anything in the post that you are interested in incorporating into your health regime check with your health practitioner to make sure that it is suitable and safe for you.

In a previous post, a reader left a comment asking whether there is a specific way to do an exclusion diet/elimination diet. The short answer is, No. With saying that though, there is a wrong way to do an exclusion/elimination diet. So let's begin.

When it comes to serious consideration of general diet rehauls the mere mention of an exclusion or elimination diet (for the sake of not having to read that label over and over again we'll refer to them as "exclusion diets") brings one thought to mind:

"What the FRAK am I going to eat now?? How will I cope without yummy stuff?? Are you telling me I have to live my life without Sabor?"

(Sabor means flavour, but we felt like it was the only way to truly convey the mind melt down that you will be going through combined with your hidden or not-so-hidden passion for the foods that you eat.)

The thing is that there is life after an exclusion diet. There is life after gluten, dairy, sugar, nuts, and anything that you may have an intolerance or allergy to. But we're not going to lie to you; exclusion diets are hard. On the plus side, the world is more equipped for intolerances now. Doctor's are still the same and, unless you are very lucky, they will probably end up shrugging your symptoms off. And that would be fine if they, and not you, were the ones with the symptoms.

Another tidbit is this; don't expect to get much sympathy from your friends or new people. My intolerances/allergies/whatever label you would like to give them have been a source of hilarity for my friends and new people. I'm sure deep down somewhere they have an ounce of sympathy, but it's nowhere near the surface of human expression. Make sure, however, that you do have someone that you can get some support from. It will help.

My first exclusion diet was intense and ill-informed. It was a week long grape diet, my food diary went like this:
day 1: first day on grape diet, feel a bit wierd. But it's ok, I like grapes.
day 2: Ok, this grape thing is too much. What the hell? who chose grapes?
day 3: I hate grapes. I hate the mother of all grapes, and I hate anyone who eats grapes! I'm looking at you!

You get the jist. That is a prime example of how NOT to do an exclusion diet, but oddly enough it did actually prepare me for my not-so-restrictive-but-still-restrictive (Compared to my then diet.) exclusion diet.

From my own experience, I would advise keeping a food and symptom diary. I know, I know; it doesn't sound like a lot of fun...and it's not. But it will give you a better idea about your eating habits and any foods that are offenders will show themselves.

You can also have food intolerance testing, offered at most health stores and online. And, of course, coeliac can be tested for by using a blood test, endoscopy or colonoscopy. Food allergies can also be tested for.

How to keep a food diary
  1. Designate a notebook as your food diary
  2. Each day make entries detailing the ingredients of foods that you eat. To simplify things, try to avoid prepacked food or convenience meals. Also list any symptoms that you might have; stomach cramps, sweating, hives, itchy skin, bloating, dark circles under the eyes etc. and make a note of when the symptoms occured.
  3. After a few weeks, review your diary entries and see if you can find a pattern of foods and symptoms.
  4. Make a note of any potentially offending foods, to prepare for your exclusion diet.
Getting to the diet:your options.

Now that you've identified your potential offending foods, you've got a few choices;

  1. Eliminate one food at a time, and monitor your progress using your food diary. After a few weeks reintroduce a very small amount of the food and monitor your symptoms.
  2. Choose a detox diet and, if necessary, tailor it to your needs. In most cases you won't need to. If you're interested our review and daily updates on the holford detox diet can be found here.
  3. If there are a lot of foods that you have trouble with try not to eliminate them in one go.  In our cases we each eliminated up to 4 each time, and kept strict food diaries.
  4. Repeat your chosen process if necessary, although you might only want to do a detox diet once or twice a year.
What worked for me?
It was glaringly obvious that wheat was a big offender; my stomach would bloat up, I would get dark circles under my eyes, and I would get very very drowsy - to the point of unwittingly falling asleep at the dinner table. I then went on to do Caroline Vorderman's detox diet which helped a lot with my symptoms and the excess weight that I was carrying.

After that I chose to seriously identify the foods that I could and couldn't tolerate and tailored my diet to fit me. It sounds simple and I can assure you that it is; you just need a huge helping of will power. In my case the comfort of not having symptoms urged me to carry on.

As I've said before, sometimes inert foods will switch up on you. I don't know why this is, I can't find any papers about it and my doctor has no clue either. One of the benefits about having food intolerances is that you become very adept and quickly adapting to change. Which is quite a plus.

In terms of fitness or holistic therapies; Yoga was highly beneficial for me, as was reflexology and Em found that Tai Chi helped her to recover from her symptoms.

We hope that you enjoyed today's post, as we said at the top; if any of this has interested you or spurred you on to take action please see your health professional to discuss your options.

If you liked this post you might like:

Monday, 22 August 2011

Medicine Flower Flavour Extracts Now Available @ Vivapure

Good news!!
1: Vivapure now stocks the medicine flower flavour extracts, and....
2: At £16.49 it's cheaper than Raw living's £18.25!!!

Ayayayyy! Click here for our review on medicine flower's hazelnut and coffee flavour extracts or click on the Vivapure tab in the sidebar to be taken to the site!


Oskia Get Up & Glow; worth the hype?

Image borrowed from
Rating: 1-5/5. It's a tricky one, get to the review to see what we mean.
Available @ Lovelula for £64.50 (inc p&p to the UK); Naturisimo for £64.50 (inc p&p to the UK); & Oskia for £64.50 (inc p&p to the UK).

Winner of the 2010 Natural Health Beauty Awards Oskia's Get Up & Glow promises to brighten and firm, even skin tone, smooth the appearance of fine lines, protect against everyday environmental, seasonal and lifestyle damage, while also providing essential cell nutrients to help improve cell health long term. And should leave skin looking revitalized, healthier and smoother with a youthful, radiant glow

According to reviews across the internet this is another miracle serum and from the looks of things, people have loved it. Made in the UK & not tested on animals, this product was up there on our list of things to try.

According to the product description it's for all skin types, but is excellent for dry, mature and hormonal skin. So we figured that we'd put it to the test amongst different age groups. It won't meet scientific standards, but it should give you an idea of whether this product is suitable for you or whether it will end up taking up precious space in your bathroom cabinet.

The Serum is lightweight, absorbs quickly and is packed full of 5 superfoods, some of which are featured in Oskia's Beauty boost cream (MSM, apple stem cells, hyaluronic acid) and the remaing 2 are Butterbur root extract and Ribose (links in the following descriptions lead to scientific studies).

Butterbur root extract, commonly used as a herbal remedy for migraines & seasonal allergic rhinitis, is used to do something to the skin...unfortunately we can't find any research to back that up. Historically it's been used to help wounds heal, but it can also cause a rash...hmmm.

The review

So, we tested this product on
  • 4 15-19 year olds,
  • 7 20-30 year olds,
  • 6 30 - 40 year olds,
  • 11 41 - 50,
  • 10 51-64 year olds,
  • 2 pregnant ladies
We also tested the product over make-up (as recommended by lovelula) to see what the results would be. Our total testing time took 2 months.

Before we begin everyone loved the fact that the packaging is totally recyclable, the appearance is sleek and the scent is neutral. It's also isn't that bulky, whereas it's sister product (get up and glow) is.

The 15-19 year olds noticed no difference, we know that you don't need potions and lotions at that age. But the description did say that it was excellent for hormonal skin.
Over make-up the results weren't huge, other than sucking up the moisture from their skin and making their skin feel very tight. 2 of them developed an irritation rash that took a few days to disappear :( (sorry girls!)

Among heavy smokers in the 20-30 group, this lightweight wonder did everything it was supposed to. Seriously amazing results. Their skin was brightened and they were given a radiant glow that didn't fade.
Sadly, amongst the rest of us it made the skin really tight and, after a few hours, really dry. Which meant we had to supplement with Trilogy's Rosehip oil (post coming soon), the contents of a vitamin E capsule or coconut oil to get any benefit from it.
Over make-up it dried our skin out too, again the heavy smokers benefitted but the effects weren't as long lasting as using it straight on the skin.

In the 30 - 40 year old group, results were mixed, with 5 of the 6 testers opting to use it every few days swapping their favourite cream in and out. All in all, they loved the cream but didn't really notice a difference when compared to their day-to-day beauty routine.
Over make-up it gave a slight glow, but not enough for all of them to increase usage of the serum.

Our 2 pregnant ladies, enjoyed using the cream but it didn't add to their radiance. On the plus side it did moisturise. Both of them are avoiding make-up so we have no results there.

The groups that got the best benefit from the cream were the 41 - 50 year olds and 51-64 year olds. Ladies, if you fall into the 40+ age group then this cream is for you. It knocked years off our testers and really nourished the skin. To be honest we don't know why the product has been aimed at the younger generation.
Used over make-up it gave them all that extra oomph and really added to their overall look. Amazing.

All in all Unless you are over 40, 20+ and a heavy smoker/drinker or have prematurely aging skin then this isn't worth the pricetag. If you do fall into one of those groups; what are you waiting for? click on the links, get your product and nourish your skin; you deserve it.

Thanks to our testers and thanks to you for reading!
Have you ever used Oskia's get up & glow? what did you think?

If you enjoyed this post you might be interested in:

Water, MSM, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, benzyl alcohol, whey protein, zinc glycine, ribose, malus domestica fruit cell culture, limonium narbonense flower/leaf/stem extract, saccharomyces ferment filtrate lysate, galactoarabinan, panthenol, biosaccharide gum-1, inulin, alpha glucan oligosaccharide, butterbur root extract, parfum (natural fragrance), citronellol,geraniol, linalool, carrageenan, lecithin, xantham gum, tocopherol, dehydroacetic acid, phenoxyethanol, lactic acid, potassium sorbate.
May contain: Caramel, Mica, CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 77491 (Iron Oxide), CI 75470 (carmine), silica.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

sale on @ Feel Unique

It's here!! The feel unique sale is packed with bargains and with free delivery to the U.S. & EU we'd say it's well worth it! We'd recommend the Pukka (Click here for our review), Weleda birch oil and, if you're feeling adventurous,Dr Red's Searth Tea!

Click here to be taken to the sale.

Hope you've had a fantastic weekend,

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A post for Vivacia Dreams

If you haven't yet been to I dream of no ME as I am, then click on the link right now. The blog is both moving and inspirational, within minutes of reading you find yourself desperate to find an answer, or something that could possibly help people with ME.

The aim of this post isn't to overshadow our internet buddy's blog. But to let her know that her blog is an amazing achievement and that she shouldn't lose faith, even when things get a bit rubbish. There are people that you've never even met who care about you. That goes for you readers too.

What is Myalgic Encephalopathy?

According to the ME association, it goes by different names; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome, and Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, and it encompasses a myriad of symptoms that also occur in hypothyroidism, coeliac disease, lupus, lyme disease and other illnesses. To see the ME association's list of symptoms please click here.

As we've said before; we're not health practitioners,  just people who like to research and help others, so if there is anything in this post that you think might help, have a chat with your qualified health professional to see what is suitable for you.
In our research we found a few things that might help:

Vitamins and probiotics

image borrowed from
 General supplements. It's been suggested that CFS patients may have lower vitamin levels than people who don't have CFS and positive results have been reported from the use of vitamin and mineral supplementation in patients with CFS.

According to one paper candida yeast infection is often reported to be present, and as a result the normal population of "good" colon bacteria is reduced. Candida can be overcome with probiotics and the candida diet (which I am currently on; check out cinnamon tea and mulberries, our sister blog, for candida safe recipes)

B Vitamins

image borrowed from

In a study comprising of 60 participants with CFS, 50% had low folic acid levels (click here for the ref) and this study found that People with CFS have reduced functional vitamin B status, particularly pyridoxine, vitamin B6.

Folic acid is found in cereals, black eyed peas, spinach, sunflower seeds, okra, pineapple, leafy green vegetables. Click here for a more comprehensive list of folic acid rich foods.
A list of B6 rich foods can be found here 


It has been suggested that patients with CFS have low red blood cell magnesium concentrations. Studies have shown that magnesium supplements led to improvements in measures of energy, pain, emotional reactions, general health and lab measures but not in sleep, physical mobility or social isolation.

image borrowed from

Magnesium can be found in dark chocolate, leafy green vegetables, milk, spinach, peas and black eyed peas, click here for a comprehensive list of magnesium rich foods 

Exercise therapy to reduce fatigue
image borrowed from
This meta-review of 5 studies found that fatigue and physical functioning were improved in CFS patients who received exercise therapy.

Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) was found to make significant improvements in measures of fatigue and physical function in three studies. Two also showed improvement in overall health and one in physiological measurements and symptoms. One of the studies compared different interventions to encourage graded exercise, and found benefits of GET when compared to standardised medical care for all outcomes (i.e. fatigue, pain, sleep, cognitive functioning, anxiety, depression)

Long chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Essential Fatty Acids

Image borrowed from
This study  suggests that ME may be associated with persistent viral infection. Which is likely to impair the bodies ability to breakdown long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. They suggest that treatment with virgin cold-pressed non-raffinated evening primrose oil would supply the body with  Gamma Linolenic acid (an anti-inflammatory that can help autoimmune diseases) and other important fats, helping the body to make arachidonic acid a polyunsaturated omega 6, antioxidants and other goodies!
(If you're interested this study discusses clinical advantages of cold-pressed non-raffinated evening primrose oil, if you can't access the article try popping to a public library or university
library - they should have a subscription).

2 studies looked at the effect of supplementing Essential Fatty Acids and they showed an improvement in patient perception of symptoms, depression and a greater shift towards normal levels of cell fatty acid concentration.

Foods high in EFA's: Oily fish, flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil, hemp seeds, walnuts, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, avocadoes, sesame seeds, pine nuts, pistachios, olives, olive oil, borage oil, evening primrose oil, pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts.  

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Image borrowed from

CBT has been found to be beneficial to sufferers of CFS, for helping to maintain a positive outlook.  

Massage therapy
image borrowed from this post @ that discusses how to select a massage therapist

Massage therapy has been found to help with fatigue, pain, sleep, depression and a decrease in cortisol levels in the treatment group when compared with a control group.


In one study osteopathy was found to help the treatment group with fatigue, back pain, sleep, anxiety and cognitive function when compared with a control group.
(click here for the ref for osteopathy, cbt and massage therapy studies).

Monday, 15 August 2011

Banana skin cleans water?

image borrowed from
Yes, we know; we don't usually do two posts in one day. But we had to share this with you!
Did you ever hear about the one where the genius researcher got tired of banana skin pranks and decided to harness the powers of banana skins for good? No? That's because we just made it up. There is no mention of banana skin pranks in this story. . . And, to be honest, we've never seen anyone slip on banana skin or be duped by one.

Gustavo Castro, a Brazilian environmental chemist had long heard of the nutritious value of banana skin. And one day he decided to check just how nutritious banana skin was; he found that banana skin contains nitrogen, sulfur, and carboxylic acids. Carboxylic acids bind to positively charged metals, which led the researchers to investigate the efficacy of banana skins in drawing metals from river water. They did this by chopping and drying banana skins and mixing them with Brazils ParanĂ¡ river water, which is polluted with copper and lead.

As it turned out the banana skin was better than a lot of filtering materials that are usually used (e.g. silica or carbon) and that the skins could be used up to 11 times before they lost their purifying powers. 
How's that for making the most of what you've got. The take home message is that your banana is more useful than you may have thought, though banana skin can't get rid of bacteria in it's back to the fruit bowl on that one.

Check out the American Chemical Society's with Gustav Castro podcast  here.
Here's the original reference.

Update!! Peppersmith Chicle Gum and Mints now available at Holland and Barrett!

Available from Holland and Barrett for £1.99 each

Ok, so you guys already know how we feel about Peppersmith's lovely peppermint chicle gum. We didn't know they also did spearmint flavour and safe mints for us to share!!

Before getting into descriptions let's show you some cute packaging:

"Some little papers for you to wrap your gum in"

We told you they liked their moustaches!
Cute tidbits to keep you busy and informed while disposing of your gum. Something everyone needs ;)
New Reviews #1 Peppersmith Spearmint Gum:
Rating: 10/10
As chewy as it's sibling peppermint, the spearmint is actually delicious. It has been years since I've been able to have gum (I can't tolerate most artificial sweeteners) and this flavour does not let you down!

New Reviews #2, Peppersmith mints:
Rating: 10/10

These mints are sweet and have a yummy strong peppermint taste. Not to the extent that it's abrasive or that you feel the need to spit the mint out lest it blow your head off, just to the extent that it feels like you're eating a minty sweet. They are really moreish, but I managed to limit myself to two...right before taking this photo.
They keep your breath fresh for ages and the peppermint oil can help with digestion.

Viva la moustache heroes! We hope you've had a fab day! Moustachios to you!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Oskia Bedtime Beauty Boost 50ml Review

image borrowed from

Rating: 2.5/5 Available from Lovelula for £74 (+p&p to the UK); Naturisimo for £74 (+p&p to the UK); and Oskia for £74 (+p&p to the UK; +£10 p&p to the EU; +£20 p&p to the rest of the world).

There has been so much buzz around this product that when the chance arose for us to try some we squealed with joy. This "nutri-active nourishing and regenerating night cream" has done the rounds on most beauty blogs and has impressed most if not all of those bloggers.

With MSM, milk peptides, apple stem cells, hyaluronic acid, phytosterols, omega's 3, 6 & 9 vitamins A, B3 & E, and at £74 per 50ml pot this skin cream has got to be a veritable gourmet meal for the skin.

Not only does it claim to help prevent the signs of premature ageing, it also claims that when used overnight it will provide your skin with a softer, healthier-looking morning complexion, iron out wrinkles, reduce age spots and give skin a naturally radiant youthful glow. Here's the rest of the sales pitch (Borrowed from Oskia):
  • Provides a feast of health and beauty-boosting nutrients to help rebuild cell health Easily absorbed and non-greasy
  • Aids the natural repair and regeneration processes
  • Helps plump and smooths out fine lines and wrinkles
  • Stimulates collagen production
  • Provides long lasting hydration when your skin needs it the most
  • Helps lighten and prevent hyperpigmentation
  • Protects the skins own DNA
Here's a quick description of the superfoods in this cream:
MSM: is a natural extract of Pine trees and is said to be the most bio-available form of sulphur, which helps to build collagen, skin repair and skin regeneration. It's also anti-inflammatory, helping to calm any skin irritation you may have.
Apple stem cells: help to increase skin cell’s resistance to stress and to repair the skin’s DNA which in turn helps to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. We've only found one study discussing the benefits of the topical application of apple stem cells if you'd like to check it out, click here
Niacinamide: Application has a stabilizing effect on skin barrier function, reducing water loss, and improving skin hydration. It also helps to improve skin pigment, smoothes out wrinkles and the skins surface structure. Along with those benefits it is anti-inflammatory, helping to tackle things ranging from minor skin irritation to acne and rosacea. According to our sources it's beneficial for ageing skin, skin that is prone to acne and rosacea.
Niacinamide also leads to protein synthesis and has a stimulating effect on ceramide and fatty acid production. All this info was taken from this study
Vitamin A from Rosehip oil: Full of antioxidants, trans-retinoic acid (vitamin A) in the form of unsaturated EFA's reduce the effects of aging, regenerates damaged skin, stimulates cell renewal and diminishes fine lines. Like magic in a bottle.

Vitamin E: is an antioxidant, protecting skin against free-radical damage and it has been suggested that it enhances cell resistance to UV.

Milk Peptides: According to Oskia their Milk Peptides "Stimulate collagen I synthesis by 40%, Hyaluronic acid by 1900%, reduces the depth of wrinkles by 35%, and increases skin smoothness by 17% in 14 days. In more detail, it stimulates cell-cell communication, boosts key elements of the Dermo-Epidermal junction to improve nutrients available to the epidermis and skin repair and increases thickness of the epidermis." But we can't find this research....what we can find is that milk peptides are antifungal, and that if you drink milk it can help reduce hypertension (high blood pressure) but we don't think that that applies.

Hyaluronic acid: helps to plump up the skin by encouraging collagen synthesis and increasing the presence of retinoic acid which affects skin hydration. However, results may only be sustained as part of an ongoing treatment (which isn't so friendly on your bank balance). 
As an added bonus Hyaluronic acid is also beneficial for dry scaly skin as in atopic dermatitis.

Phytosterols, Triglycerides and Omegas-3, 6 and 9 (from Shea Butter, Jojoba, Sesame and Rice Germ Oil): help to improve skin barrier function, boost lipid content and provide long-lasting hydration at night when the skin loses significant moisture, plumping out the skin and restoring softness and elasticity for optimum comfort.

I always forget how long ingredient chat takes, let's move to the review! 

When applying, this cream feels rich and luxurious and as an added benefit it's lightweight and non-greasy. According to Oskia it has a deep perfume of bulgarian rose and a hint of rose-lychee. We didn't really get that. The cream has a signature smell, which isn't overpowering and it's not floral.

We were hoping for so much from this cream, unfortunately we could only use it once a week because it was too rich to use every night. We stuck to one week's use and we all got terrible breakouts. I don't need to worry; I'm not in work right now...but Em and L had to face the day with red, sensitive, pimpley skin. Not cool given the pricetag. On further investigation we found that people with sensitive skin have had a hard time with this cream, opting to use it once or twice a week.

Em took it with her to Dubai in June and given that the air was dry and hot, she used it everyday and came back with a glowing complexion. So...if you live in the middle east or another hot, dry place then this is the cream for you! But if you have normal/combination skin you might just find yourself paying for this cream in more ways than one.

In terms of notable differences. . .there were none. It was nice to apply at night, but that was about it. Maybe we've just not suffered enough skin damage or maybe we keep ourselves too well hydrated. We'll never know, it's just that this baby did not work for us.

So, we gave our creams to our mums. And while they all liked the treat, they didn't notice much of a difference either, it moisturised just fine and kept the skin hydrated til the morning. But they all felt the need to moisturise in the morning and instead of getting back with any other points they actually suggested that we review they're favourite night cream (we'll get round to that later) and tell you guys to try a dash of olive squalane for magic lifts...

So...that was a little bit of a disappointment. Ultimately, it does moisturise, and it's got a huge following so it must have a lot of happy customers. But if you don't have dry, mature or damaged skin this might not be the one for you.

teensy amendment: we found that oskia works best if your skin is really dry. Don't know how that'll help...but in the interest of a fair review we thought that full disclosure is the best route!
Have you tried Oskia bedtime beauty boost? What did you think??

Hope you've had a lovely day!


Ingredients: Water, methyl sulphonyl methane (MSM), glycerin, jojoba oil, sesame seed oil, glyceryl caprylate, decyl oleate, cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, shea butter*, rice germ oil, cetearyl alcohol, sunflower seed oil, kukui seed oil, rosehip seed oil, niacinamide, benzyl alcohol, glyceryl dibehenate, whey protein, tribehenin, calendula officinalis flower extract, malus domestica fruit cell culture, lecithin, sodium hyaluronate, parfum (natural fragrance) rosa damascena flower oil, citronellol, geraniol, linalool, glyceryl behenate, xantham gum, tocopherol, deydroacetic acid, phenoxyethanol.

* organic ingredient

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Alternatives to sugar #3: Xylitol

Xylitol is a naturally occuring sugar, found in the fibres of some fruits, vegetables and hardwood trees. Like sugar, it's granulated and can be used as a sweetener and as a baking ingredient.

image borrowed from
Everyone's heard that xylitol can help prevent tooth decay, but do you know how it manages to do that? Apparently, consuming xylitol helps prevent toothdecay because plaque bacteria can't metabolise it (click here for the original ref).

More interestingly; This study found that pregnant women who chewed xylitol gum during pregnancy had children who were less likely to develop tooth decay compared to a control group. And this longitudinal study found that children whose mothers chewed xylitol gum while they were pregnant, had less dental plaque and were therefore less likely to develop tooth decay at age 3 and 6 when compared with a control group. Our review on xylitol gum can be found here

Nutritionally speaking, internet sources report a low Glycemic Index (GI is the impact which something has on the blood sugar) ranging from 7 - 13, along with 40% less calories than sugar making it suitable for diabetics and people watching their weight. Em uses it and it has no impact on her blood sugar, we use it as a sugar substitute for biscuits, cakes, smoothies and ice cream. 
Check out our xylitol sweetened lime cardamom cupcake recipe here

We find xylitol a little sweeter than ordinary sugar and tend to reduce the amount by 1/3 if we're following a recipe that asks for sugar, but that might be just us.  Another important note is that xylitol tends to accelerate the baking process by about 5 minutes (according to our calculations), so do remember to reduce your baking time if you use xylitol.

There are a few warnings about using xylitol, however; over-consumption can cause diarrhea, stomach discomfort, oral eczema and, in some cases, acute renal failure. So do make sure that you use it in moderation, according to ehow young children are more susceptible to over-consumption than adults and
children over the age of 12.

Please, please, please remember that xylitol is not suitable for pets, so far our research has found that it is toxic to dogs, so whatever you do; don't feed any of your xylitol treats to your pets!

If you've not been put off by the warnings about over-consumption, xylitol can be found in most supermarkets in the sugar aisle.

If you found this post interesting you might want to check out our other alternatives to sugar posts:

#1: Mesquite
#2: Lucuma

Have you tried xylitol, what did you think? let us know in the comments!

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.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Ever wonder why your favourite boutique brand doesn't get the coverage it deserves?

We'll be honest with you; We have many passions in our lives. Food, family, friends, shiny things, helping others and lingerie. Didn't expect that last one, right? Today's post isn't your run-of-the-mill TBT post, today we're talking about our 6th passion. I can't even begin to describe to you how much we love lingerie, to us it's one of the best treats you can get for yourself. Regardless of what anyone says you have a fab body and you should celebrate it in every way you can.

One of our favourite brands are Kiss Me Deadly, a London and Sheffield based vintage inspired retro lingerie brand designed for glamorous women. Let's face it, what woman doesn't have a bit of glamour in her?

DeVille bra, kiss me deadly also available here
Image borrowed from
We were inspired to write today's post after reading the Kiss Me Deadly blog this morning. We had come across something quite surprising. So surprising, in fact, that we felt it warranted a little more attention:

The lovely ladies at kiss me deadly were recently contacted by a magazine because they believed that their readers would be interested in seeing kiss me deadly products. So far, so good. We've lusted after and purchased Kiss Me Deadly lingerie for years. In our opinion, it's one of the best lingerie brands out there. The fit is true to size, the materials are beautiful and not at all cheap (unlike the type of thing that you see hanging in some high street store windows), the cut is flattering and because of all of these reasons, Kiss Me Deadly items are top quality.
Beth Basque & Brief, Image borrowed from

The thing is that the story hasn't yet finished. When Kiss Me Deadly responded to the magazine by explaining that they don't have a budget for advertising but that they'd be happy to send some goodies over for shoots and giveaways things took a strange turn. Normal people would think that it was a totally reasonable response, if the magazine wasn't interested they could have graciously refused and be on their way...only that's not what happened.

Vargas Roll on girdle, Image borrowed from
Also available here.
So, after the magazine contacted the boutique and the boutique said no but have some free stuff. The magazine tried to scare the boutique into buying advertising so it doesn't get crushed by a competitor who is going to totally crush them because of all the super-rad advertising that they are investing in. . .only the competitor mentioned wasn't really a competitor at all, sharing only 5% of the same customer base. So then, the competitor says: no money, no deal. Oh yeah, and don't feel bad about the tremendous waste of time that happened, which was totally your fault. I am paraphrasing of course but you can check out the original magazine response here.

It's a shame that print magazines feel the need to force people into buying advertising like that, we know that times are hard - we're going through economic turmoil afterall, but there's no need to be so unprofessional about it all. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Choosing only to feature products that have paid to be in the magazine seems like you're going to end up reading the same magazine over and over again. Magazines like Cosmo, Grazia and Vogue regularly feature independent brands that they think their readers will love - and isn't featuring items that the readers will love the best way to win people over to buying your magazine?

For everyone who has fallen in love with the Kiss Me Deadly range you can find them at La Magia, Hepburn & Leigh, Fairy Gothmother & the Kiss Me Deadly shop. Click here for a list of other interent stockists in the UK, EU, US and Australia.
If you'd like to know more about Kiss Me Deadly sign up to their newsletter here.
Delacroix in blue (also available in peach)
Image borrowed from
We Hope You've Had a Lovely Day!

Time for tea: Peppersmith Chewing Gum Peppermint (10 Pieces 15g) Review. Fresh, Clean & Minty.

Rating: 9/10.
Available in the UK & EU from Red23 for £1.59 (+P&P).

We've been on the trail of a good xylitol gum for, what must be, years now.
Peppersmith Chewing Gum is made from chicle, the sap of the Sapodilla tree, is naturally flavoured with English peppermint oil and sweetened with Xylitol. Xylitol is derived from some fruits and hardwood trees, helps prevent tooth decay and has twice the sweetness of sugar but only has a GI of 7. As an added bonus; peppermint oil is great for aiding digestion.

Peppersmith gum is suitable for vegans and is free from artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives, synthetic gum and bovine gelatin.

The Review
This chewing gum is so yummy, the flavour lasts for ages leaving your mouth minty clean. The way that this gum differs from normal chewing gums is that the texture changes after a while, at which point, there's no point in chewing anymore.

The packaging is 100% recyclable, has a mention of moustaches on it (you'll know what we mean when you buy it) and provides you with papers to dispose of your gum. That is forward thinking.

Overall, we love this product and would buy it again. If you've tried Peppersmith chewing gum, let us know what you thought in the comments!

Have a great day!

Ingredients: Xylitol, natural chicle, calcium carbonate, black mitcham peppermint oil, gum arabic, vegetable glycerol, rapeseed lecithin, carnauba wax.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Foods that (might) help with digestion related issues.

Inspired by 20something allergies list of food allergies/intolerances I figured I'd share my food allergies/ intolerances with you;
peppers, mushrooms, potatoes, oranges, grapefruit, beans, sweetcorn, soy, most gluten products (my body sometimes tolerates spelt), pasteurised dairy, maize, beef, pork, peanuts, raw cacao, cooked buckwheat, sorghum, cabbage, millet, beetroot, swede, turnip...and other foods that I can't remember right now. Sometimes food combinations set me off. . . but that would result in a very boring read.

I mentioned in the last post that sometimes inert foods will switch teams just to keep you on your toes, right now coconut is messing with me and I don't like it. What about curry? coconut bread? and, most important of all, coconut cake?? "Pain", my body screams back at me, "that's what".
So, I've compiled a list of foods that have helped me in the past. Starting with, yep, you guessed it; Coconut.

1) Coconut oil, coconut flour, dessicated coconut, coconut chips, coconut milk (so long as it's not got any additives in).

image borrowed from

Because it's a plant oil it doesn't contain any cholesterol and doesn't raise cholesterol. While coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fat, it's predominantly comprised of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) which are easily digested and are preferentially used by the liver as a source of fuel to produce energy.

Most asian supermarkets stock coconut flour, but do check for sulphites on the packaging.

TBT's favourite coconut products can be found here and our post on coconut's beauty powers can be found here.

2) If you've gotta have chips try
  •  Cassava (not acceptable in either GAPS or SCD) is from the root of the yucca plant and makes really lovely chips. According to my reading, celiac's seem to have an easier time with cassava than potatoes. But I should add that it is high in starch (as well as being a good source of calcium, phosphorous and vitamin C). These can be found in asian supermarkets, and tescos sometimes! Most places stock cassava chips now too.
  • Or Plaintain (not legal in SCD and GAPS diets). Related to the banana, plaintains aren't as sweet (though they do get sweeter as they ripen), they are very starchy, and must be peeled using a knife. Both plaintain's and cassava's can be grilled, boiled, steamed or fried. Plaintain chips are lovely, and can be homemade or bought in stores as with cassava.
We've gotten on well with both options, however we eat cassava or plaintain chips as a rare treat.

3) Chicken stock. SCD & GAPS diet legal, this miracle broth will help to soothe and repair your gut.
Check out Nourished Kitchen's post on preparing fresh chicken broth.

4) Apples.

Image borrowed from

 The old adage was right; an apple a day will indeed keep the doctor away, if eaten as part of a healthy and varied diet. Apples are rich sources of phytochemicals (compounds found in plants, fruits, and vegetables that can act as anti-oxidants) and are the best source of the mineral boron, which helps to promote bone growth.

Apples have been found to reduce the risk of lung cancer, coronary heart disease, asthma, risk of stroke, risk of diabetes and aid weight loss. It's also been found that the phytochemicals in apples are anti-allergenic, some are anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and can help protect against cancer. In addition to this the high fibre content helps in slow release of sugars into the body, thereby helping to maintain a steady blood sugar level.

Recent research has shown that eating apples is linked to reducing cancer risk in several studies. Some examples are :

  • Quercetin, a flavonoid abundant in apples has been found to help prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells
  • Phytonutrients in the skin of apples inhibited the growth of colon cancer cells by 43%
  • Food containing flavonoids like those in apples may reduce risk of lung cancer as much as 50%
  • Dietary phenolics such as flavonoids (found in apples) have inhibitory effects on the developments of carcinogenic substances in the bladder, thereby reducing risk of bladder cancer, especially in smokers
Not to mention a miriad of other health benefits. They also inhibit ageing-related beauty problems due to a compound named procyanidin B-2 which helps to prevent wrinkles and promote hair growth.

Boyer, J., & Liu, R.H. (2004). Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutrition Journal.

5) Raw (unpasteurised) Honey (not suitable for children under 2 years of age).

image borrowed from

In addition to being full of nutrients, honey is fantastic for digestion. A team of researchers from the University of Waikato in New Zealand studied whether honey could benefit those afflicted with the H. pylori bacterium known to cause gastric ulcers. Within three days, honey was found to have stopped the growth of bacterium colonies.

Check out our post on New Zealand raw honey here.

6) Avocados are a great source of vitamin E and are soothing to the gut

7) Cucumbers are a great source of silica, and also soothe the gut.

8) Coriander is said to drag heavy metals and toxins from the gut by way of chelation.

9) All fresh herbs are said to assist the breakdown of heavier foods in the body, thereby easing the digestion process.

10) Raw milk is a controversial one. Anecdotally, there are people all over the internet who believe in it's healing powers. We have to admit that it has helped us tolerate dairy and even helped to stop L's intestinal cramping.
Our post on raw milk can be found here.

11) Chamomile tea.

image borrowed from
Chamomile is a great anti-inflammatory and is worth stocking in your cupboards. It helps to reduce distension, bloating and aids detox.

There are some great gluten-free recipe blogs that discuss new foods and new recipes, all of which are worth checking out and subscribing to. Our sister blog Cinnamon tea and Mulberries is a gluten free and (mostly) grain free cookery blog, we'd love for you to check it out and tell us what you think!

We hope you've had a lovely day! Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Diets that (might) help you with digestion related issues: SCD & GAPS

As we've said before we aren't health professionals in any way shape or form, if you have found anything in the post that you are interested in incorporating into your health regime check with your health practitioner to make sure that it is suitable and safe for you.

Image borrowed from

Once I'd published the last post, I couldn't help thinking about how lonely and stuck you can feel when you suffer from any digestion issues. In my case, I isolate myself and would avoid going out, but once I had realised that I was missing out and that I shouldn't let the problems control my life I decided to brave the outside world along with it's food. How did  I do that? Maternity clothing. It had enough give in it to ensure that I wouldn't suffer anymore discomfort than usual and it looked ok (ish). It wasn't the best idea, and was a short lived strategy.

These days, I don't eat any outside food unless I'm certain that it won't cause me any 'food death'. That would be my first piece of advice; try and exclude all outside food until you have a better idea of what you can tolerate. Basic and straightforward.

Before I carry on, let's reiterate a very important point; in terms of the diets discussed the best thing to do is choose whatever is right for your body; if there are certain foods that you feel aren't suitable for you (and foods that are) then by all means adapt it to what you feel is right for you and (if you're cooking for them) your family. :)

My initial exclusion diet lasted two years and was not without problems, but it did help my gut recover. Unfortunately the two diets (GAPS and SCD) have had bad press from people who don't suffer from food reactions and, therefore, don't fully understand how difficult it can get. As I said above, I am a strong believer in tailoring things to fit the individual's needs -the last thing you want to do is go on a diet that causes more symptoms. With all exclusion diets there are typical detox symptoms, and in some cases foods that you had previously thought to be inert will switch teams every now and then just to keep you on your toes!

Diets: GAPS

So, first off there's the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet which focuses on stock and probiotics as a means to heal the gut. It was developed by a UK neurologist called Dr Natasha campbell-mcbride whose son was on the autistic spectrum. Ultimately, it's based on the principle that a damaged gut results in toxins being absorbed into the bloodstream, which then affects behaviour, cognition and overall health.

The GAPS diet eliminates all grains, complex carbs, dairy and starches from the diet.

L and I have both been on this diet and we are believers, at the beginning we were shells of ourselves. And at the end we were the healthiest, both physically and mentally, that either of us have ever been.
The Gaps Diet book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, can be found on Amazon for £17.95 (+p&p) at the time of posting.
A useful GAPS & food blogs are:
  • 20 something allergies, which documents one lady and her 3 year old's way through the GAPS diet,
  • & The Nourishing Gourmet  which discusses the GAPS diet and nourishing foods, providing good explanations behind the use of certain foods, and other products. But be warned, the recipe's aren't totally gluten free.

Useful GAPS sites are;


The second diet is called SCD (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) and was first formulated in the 1920s by Dr Haas and popularised by Elaine Gotschall. The diet has helped in the remission of crohn's, celiac, ulcerative colitis and IBS.The introductory book to this diet is called "Breaking the Vicious Cycle" by elaine gotschall and can also be found on Amazon for £13.24, at the time of posting. The Breaking the Vicious Cycle site is also an invaluable resource.

SCD restricts the use of complex carbohydrates and eliminates all grains, starch and refined sugars from the  diet. Both GAPS and SCD are similar diets, however SCD allows the consumption of dairy products whereas the GAPS diet does not.

According to various reviews the recipes found in Elaine Gotschall's book aren't that simple to put together. The two most popular recipe books for both diets are called:

Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet by Raman Prasad which is available at Amazon for £7.68 at the time of posting
and Healing foods: cooking for celiacs, colitis, crohn's and IBS by Sandra Ramacher, 2nd hand copies are available at Amazon for £32.07 (correct at the time of posting), which seems a little steep.
The recipes in both books are very simple and not too time consuming.

Useful sites for the SCD diet are:

N.B. each diet suggests the use of certain trigger foods that some people find difficult to digest. If you have trouble with raw garlic make sure that you eat it with something fatty. I've found that Toum is the best way to consume raw garlic:
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 Em's 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.

And remember: If there are some foods you just don't feel right about eating then leave them alone (if it hasn't happened already then once you've sorted the diet to the extent that you're mostly symptom free you'll find that your instincts will guide you).