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This week our guest blogger is health and lifestyle blogger Jenny McDee.

What Are the Health Benefits of Switching to Green Cleaning Products?

“The air quality in any given home can range between 2 to 100 times worse than the air quality found outdoors. Although there are multiple factors that contribute to this startling fact, conventional cleaning products are on contributor.

Common brands of air fresheners, candles, general purpose cleaners, oven cleaners and laundry products have an array of toxins that can impact upon the health of your family.

Discover three important reasons for making the switch to green cleaning products.

Improve allergy and asthma symptoms

Studies have proven that poor indoor air quality can lead to or worsen the symptoms of allergies and asthma. Since cleaning products directly contribute to the quality of your home’s air, it is necessary for individuals with these conditions to change their habits.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology states that the harsh blend of chemicals used in nearly all conventional cleaners can trigger symptoms. Thankfully, natural cleaning products help those with allergies, as well as those with asthma. In addition to buying pre-made natural cleaners, you can also use ingredients such as soda ash, baking soda, and double strength white vinegar to make your own non toxic cleaners.

Of course it’s always a good idea to air your home on a daily basis, there’s nothing like fresh air!

Reduce risk of developing certain diseases

Aside from their effects on allergies and asthma, conventional cleaning products can put you at a much higher risk for developing serious medical conditions. In fact, one recent study that was completed at the University of Bergen in Norway found that “using [harsh] cleaning products can be as harmful as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.”  

Additionally, the frequent use of toxic cleaning ingredients is associated with a higher risk of developing lung disease, and some types of cancer. To eliminate this risk completely, ensure that you know what is in every cleaning product that you buy. If you are not able to verify that the ingredients are pure and all-natural, you may be exposing yourself to harmful chemicals each day.

This statement is from EWG “Common cleaning ingredients can be laced with the carcinogenic impurity 1,4-dioxane. Independent tests have detected the presence of 1,4-dioxane in numerous name-brand cleaning supplies. Other products contain preservatives that release low levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde.”

Protect the health of your unborn baby

Your health isn’t the only thing that could be compromised when using conventional cleaning products. If you are expecting a child, or plan to become pregnant in the near future check what products you are using around your home.

Some ingredients to look out for are alcohol, ammonia, chlorine, glycol and glycol-ethylene, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), acrylic polymers, and terpenes.

Oven cleaner is particularly worrying, opt for baking soda and vinegar instead, it does a great job without all the fumes.

Conventional air fresheners and spray cleaners can also be of concern due to fragrance and other toxins, read labels and look for natural products or make your own from natural ingredients.

The New York State Department of Health did a study in 2010 and found that children born to women who held cleaning jobs while pregnant have an elevated risk of birth defects.

If we all make a few simple changes in our cleaning routines, we can create a lasting impact for ourselves and our families that could last for generations to come.”

Jenny.

Photo credits: Kelly Sikkema  Oliver Hale and Arteida MjESHTRI 

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How wonderful are roast veggies? There’s nothing quite like that delicious, caramelised, slightly charred flavour.

This tasty recipe for honey balsamic roast vegetables is from Terry at Earthbound Honey  Earthbound supplies the pure, raw, and very tasty, Manuka Honey that we sell, their honey is lovingly crafted on their farm in Bethells Beach.

Honey Balsamic Roast Vegetables

200g brussels sprouts halved

200g cut carrots

200g halved small new potatoes white and purple

2 large shallots quartered

3 tbsp olive oil

3/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons Earthbound Balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon Earthbound Manuka Honey

Method​

Preheat your oven to 220°c. Line a baking tray with aluminium or parchment paper foil.

In a large bowl, toss brussel sprouts, carrots, potatoes and shallots with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to coat thoroughly. Transfer the vegetables to baking tray and roast until tender and caramelised, about 30 minutes.

Place roasted vegetables back in bowl. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil, Earthbound Balsamic Honey Vinegar and toss to coat evenly. Taste and season with flaky sea salt if necessary and serve.

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I came down with a cold last week that just wouldn’t budge. Liposomal vitamin C several times a day was helping but the chest pains and clogged throat weren’t letting up.

Looking through our website I found Wendyl’s blog from 2013 about her “almost cold cure” – a strong shot of turmeric, lemon, and honey taken four times a day. It worked! Here’s the story and her recipe.

“Having confidently written about the health benefits of turmeric several times I had the opportunity to test it out when I came down with a horrible cold. It had everything going for it: sore throat, blinding headache, stuffed up nose, sore chest and fever.

So I sent Paul off to Sandringham to get a couple of handfuls of root turmeric, juiced them up and downed 1 tbsp of juice mixed with a little warm water, 1 tsp raw Manuka honey and the juice of a lemon four times a day. I also added 1000mg Vitamin C three times a day and three echinacea, olive root, garlic and zinc tablets three times a day.

By Monday I was pretty good, so I think the regimen helped reduce the severity of the symptoms, although my voice was very husky and on Tuesday I had to give a talk to the Glen Eden Garden Club. I took a Thermos of hot water, lemon, honey and a chopped-up turmeric root and got through it no trouble.

I thoroughly recommend this treatment if you come down with a cold and have also heard this week from Yajna, who told me she had used turmeric to treat a growth on her eight-year-old son’s foot” 

From Yajna:

“I took him to the doctor about 3 months ago and she didn’t know what is was. She said to come back if it kept getting bigger. Which it did, it grew and grew to about the size of my little finger nail and very raised. I thought I may as well try your turmeric recipe on it. So I mixed up a tiny smear of coconut oil and about a quarter of a teaspoon of turmeric. I piled that on the thing then stuck a plaster on it. I did that twice a day for about a week, then it was once a day for a week, then I got lazy and did it every couple of days. Magically the thing was shrinking before our eyes, amazing. Now it is totally gone, which is great because my son said it was a bit painful and it didn’t look very nice either.”

From Christina:

Christina buys her root turmeric at Takapuna market and shared this recipe: “Using 1-2cm of peeled and quartered turmeric along with about an inch of ginger in the bottom of a mug, pour over recently boiled water. Sometimes adding lemon juice as well after a few minutes. (Just boiled water depletes the Vitamin C in the lemon juice so add this a bit later.) Steep for a few minutes, remove the turmeric and ginger pieces with a slotted tea spoon and I swear this is the most amazing health tonic. Six-year-old Max was coming down with a cold yesterday – he had an extra strong brew of this turmeric tea before bed and bounced off to school this morning feeling better.”

Turmeric root can also be purchased at most Indian supermarkets and organic stores.

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What’s not to love about beetroot?

It’s colourful; the colour of beetroots is caused by the colours, betanin and vulgaxantin. Beetroot extract is used as a food colour and has E-number E162.

Adaptable; can be eaten in an array of savoury or sweet dishes, and is fairly easy to grow. You can also eat the greens, more info on this in our blog.

Highly nutritious; is an excellent source of folate and a very good source of manganese, potassium and copper. They’re also a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron and vitamin B6 (thanks for the info The Worlds Most Healthiest Foods)

And beets even have their own Facebook page 

If you love beets, you’re sure to love this recipe for Homemade Beetroot Relish that we found in the archives.

Ingredients

3 Large Beetroot (save the greens for your salad)

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Cup Green Goddess Apple Cider Vinegar

Zest from one orange

Method

Peel the beetroots and grate in your food processor. Don’t worry if your hands get stained, it washes off pretty quickly.

Put the beetroot in a pot with the orange zest, brown sugar and vinegar.

Bring to the boil and then simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, have a look. If there is a lot of liquid, take the lid off for the final 10 minutes of cooking to allow it to thicken up.

Spoon into hot, sterilised jars and seal.

Thanks Monika Grabkowska for the photo.

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Even though the weather is getting cooler there are still a lot of wasps and hornets all around our garden, I was hoping they’d die off by now but with the weather being warmer than usual that’s not happening. They’re everywhere, including inside.

One of our customers came into the store last week and mentioned that wasps strongly dislike peppermint essential oil which reminded me of a recipe I saw in an old magazine for a wasp repellent spray.

DIY Essential Oil Wasp Repellent

This is such an easy spray to make up, all you need is a spray bottle, 450ml water, 4ml lemongrass essential oil, 4ml peppermint essential oil and two squirts of dish wash liquid (Green Goddess Hemp & Eucalyptus works very well as they don’t like eucalyptus either)

Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle and shake to combine. Spray around the areas outside of your house where wasps congregate and like to build nests, spray any old nests as they like to return to the same spot and build again, also spray around window sills to stop them coming in.

Another way to deter them is to plant plants they don’t like; spearmint, mint, thyme, citronella, eucalyptus, and wormwood are best deterrents.

Thanks Kazuky Akayashi for the awesome wasp photo.

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So many feijoas, what to do with them all? I say this every year, and every year I look for new recipes to try. Last years No Peel Feijoa Chutney was a big hit and the year before was Feijoa and Ginger Jam. This year it’s spiced feijoa walnut cake. 

Grant’s mum, Ann gave me a slice of this absolutely delicious, lightly spiced cake filled with walnuts, cranberries and plenty of feijoas. It’s a recipe she’s been making for years and I can see why, such a moist flavoursome cake.

Included are eggless and plant based options.

Spiced Feijoa Walnut Cake

300g peeled feijoa (about 8-10 medium feijoa), roughly chopped

100g (1 cup) walnut pieces

200g (1 cup) dried cranberries (or use sultanas)

¾ cup caster sugar

1 egg (or egg replacer)

100g melted butter (or dairy free spread)

125g (1 cup) plain flour

2 tsp mixed spice

2 tsp baking soda

3 Tbs chocolate drops (my addition)

Method

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease and line a 20cm springform tin.

In a large bowl, mix feijoa, walnuts, cranberries (or sultanas) and sugar.

With a beater, beat egg and butter until well mixed. Add to feijoa mixture.

Sift flour, mixed spice and baking soda into feijoa mixture. Stir lightly.

Scrape into prepared cake tin or loaf tin, sprinkle over with chocolate drops.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

Run a knife around edges and carefully remove from ring from base and serve warm as dessert or leave to cool for 20 minutes and slice.

This recipe was cut from an old magazine and didn’t state the author, however I think it originally came from Nici Wickes.

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Our guest blog this week comes from Sarah Lucas, one of the lovely ladies who makes our liquid castile soaps. Sarah also runs The Tea House, sourcing sustainable, organic teas from the Himalayas.

More and more scientific research is emerging around the benefits of drinking this delicacy.  

From containing powerful anticancer properties, through to being great in the fight against viruses, white tea can help the body in many ways.

I drink white tea regularly now, and enjoy the benefits immensely.  It is a lovely refreshing and clean tasting liquor, which gives me an energy boost.  A great alternative to coffee and a special way to sit and enjoy some quiet time with a friend.

I have found a great article which explains the benefits in more detail, focusing on the  top benefits, including:

Antioxidant and anti-aging properties

Helps with healthy and youthful skin

Is great for oral health

Helps manage diabetes

Cancer prevention

Help prevent and manage cardiovascular disorders

Has Antibacterial properties

White Tea is made from new growth buds and young leaves.  On a quality plantation these leaves are very carefully picked to prevent bruising and they are usually quickly withered and steamed to prevent oxidation.  Most white teas are under 20 percent oxidised.  They are then dried.  This is in contrast to blacks which are completely oxidised and greens which are usually not oxidised at all.  

White tea has been consumed for centuries in some parts of the world, and is now also becoming popular in many Western countries.  White Tea is from the same plant as all other teas, from greens through to black and oolongs.  It is the way that White Tea is processed, that give it its special characteristics in look, taste and health benefits.  

No plantation produces the same white tea – white teas are similar to wines in that they all have different characteristics and tastings depending on region, handling, soil and processing.  Even the weather can impact on the delicate final product and tea farmers often look for particular conditions to prevail during the picking and processing period.  

Tea House stocks a Sandakphu White Orange tea which is prepared during the mid-summer.  A Silvery bud and one tender first leaf are plucked early in the morning or late afternoon when the sun either welcomes you or bids farewell.

The very first summer leaves and a silvery bud are hand-plucked with precision. The leaves are then withered (removal of excess moisture from the tender bud and leaf) from the remaining hours of the day with a constant supply of natural air.

Early in the morning, the leaves are hand rolled for about half an hour and then allowed to rest for 1-2 hours. Once the rolled leaves start changing colour, they are machine rolled for 15 minutes and then dried immediately under low heat. The tea then rests for 5 hours. Final drying is given so as to increase the flavour profile and shelf life of the tea.

This laboriously hand-plucked leaf yields a light yellow infusion and a sweet, refreshing liquor reminiscent of cucumber and honey. A whisper of woodsmoke in the finish completes this satisfying tea. This robust and full bodied white tea also has a very mild citrus flavour.

Here at Tea House, we consider white tea is best enjoyed as a whole loose leaf organic tea, as opposed to cut and torn tea which is usually placed in tea bags.  The cutting and bagging severely affects the taste sensation and the small nuances and characters of the delicate leaves is lost. 

Why not try our Tea House’s delicious White Orange Tea today?

Thanks Igor Miske for the photo.

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If you’ve ever wondered what exactly baking soda is, how it’s made, and where it comes from – look no further.

We’ve always taken great care to ensure that our baking soda is of the highest standard and free of contaminants. Green Goddess Premium Baking Soda comes straight out of the ground in Colorado.

However, not all baking soda is the same, here’s the low down. 

Natural mined sodium bicarbonate is also known as nahcolite.

This excerpt is from Britannica.com

  “Nahcolite (NaHCO3), colourless to white carbonate mineral, a naturally occurring sodium bicarbonate. (The name nahcolite is formed from the chemical formula, with the suffix -lite replacing the subscript numeral 3.) Its structure consists of planar chains of carbonate groups linked by hydrogen bonds; planes are linked together by sodium in sixfold coordination with oxygen. Nahcolite commonly forms by reaction of carbon dioxide with the mineral trona in evaporated lake basins.

It is found in large quantities in the central salt body of Searles Lake, California, and as concentrations up to 5 feet (1.5 metres) thick in oil shale deposits in the Piceance Basin of the Green River Formation in Colorado, where it is commercially mined. It also has been mined in Botswana and Kenya, and there are sizeable deposits in Uganda, Turkey, and Mexico. Nahcolite can be used in traditional applications of sodium bicarbonate—e.g., in baking soda and toothpaste. In addition, it can be converted to soda ash (sodium carbonate, Na2CO3) and used in glassmaking, chemical processes, and soaps and detergents.”

Another way to make baking soda is to mine trona ore which is heated until it turns into sodium carbonate (soda ash) this is then treated with carbon dioxide which creates sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)

The third way to create baking soda is the most common, most baking soda in the world is now made this way. It is manufactured by passing carbon dioxide and ammonia through a very concentrated solution of sodium chloride (table salt).

We don’t recommend using the third type of baking soda in baking or when making body products such as deodorants, exfoliants, scrubs or for taking internally when you have heartburn, or are alkalising, only use pure natural baking soda for these purposes.

When buying natural products containing baking soda ask the manufacturer where their baking soda comes from and if it is man made.

Click here to buy Green Goddess Premium Baking Soda which is food grade.

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Now that we are going into work and not working from home, I’m on the lookout for easy meals I can prepare ahead of time. This recipe from Holistic Nutritionist Natalie Brady is a favourite.

The key to eating well and creating new healthy habits is to keep meals simple. This simple bircher muesli is a fantastic recipe that you can make on the weekend to last you five days.

It takes less than 5 minutes to prepare which is another bonus. I like to make this up when I know I have a busy week ahead and don’t have time to prep food in the morning. You can store it in individual jars or keep it in one large bowl (make sure it’s covered) in the fridge.

Top it with fruit, yoghurt extra nuts and seeds for a delicious healthy start to the day!

Simple Bircher Muesli

Makes 5 servings

Ingredients

2.5 cups of oats

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

½ cup walnuts

10 brazil nuts

¼ cup chia seeds

¼ cup cranberries

¼ cup shredded coconut

1 tsp cinnamon

Cover with unsweetened almond milk or water (roughly 3-3.5 cups worth)

Optional: 4-5 tbsp protein powder (good for those who workout regularly)

Method

Add all ingredients together into a large bowl. Stir together until well combined.

Pop it into the fridge as it is or add the bircher into individual glass jars so you can grab them and go in the morning.

If you keep the mixture in a bowl, in the morning add 1/5 of the bircher into a bowl, top with fresh fruit, a handful of nuts, a couple tablespoons of yoghurt and enjoy! Natalie x

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This weeks guest blogger is beauty and lifestyle writer Sophia Smith, this article looks at which natural skin care ingredients are the most effective.

We’ve come a long way in learning to distinguish among the many harmful and undesirable ingredients commonly found on our beauty bottles.

We’ve heard about the dangers of parabens, silicone, and other chemicals that can wreak havoc on our skin health, so we now know to steer clear of those particular elements. But what about the ingredients we should seek?

Those goodies that will help us preserve our youthful glow, reduce imperfections such as dark spots and pimples, and prevent early ageing signs.

With so many wonderful products and home-made skin care solutions to choose from, it can become equally challenging to land on the perfect good choice as it would be tricky to avoid the bad one. So, let’s take a look at a few skin-tastic ingredients coming straight from Mother Nature and all the ways you can infuse them into your life for better beauty results!

Arm yourself with super foods

Due to their high antioxidant content, superfoods have earned their rightful place on the beauty counters precisely for their incredible impact on the health of your pores. More vegan products are rich in spinach, kale, and other superfoods precisely because they have so many vitamins and minerals that your skin can benefit from either topically or directly from your plate.

As an example, you can find a spirulina, kale, and spinach-based facial mask that will reinvigorate your complexion. Then again, an acai berry-based lip balm is in demand also for its antioxidant properties owed to this mighty little berry.

Look for nourishing oils

If you still haven’t used coconut or olive oil to massage your scalp and restore your locks’ bounce, you’ve been living under a rock. Oils have been trending for quite some time now, especially those cold-pressed, organic varieties that have tremendous benefits for your overall health, and your skin is no exception.

In addition to the famous coconut and olive oil, the newest and one of the best oils is hemp seed oil, look for a cleanser that contains this magical oil as it will pamper your skin whilst cleansing and removing impurities, makeup, and dirt build-up. Try this cleanser from The Hemp Farm.

Another wonderful oil is jojoba oil, known for its gentle soothing properties, it’s easily absorbed and not as greasy as many of it’s oily counterparts – it also makes a great cleaner.

Apart from cleansers, masks, moisturisers, lip balms should also provide you with a touch of oily goodness! Green Goddess lip balms are very hydrating and create a protective shield on you lips.

Gentle Acid Exfoliators

Sometimes, your skin does need the powerful scrub of your physical exfoliants, such as those mighty beads. However, this is not always the case, especially if these products are also loaded with harsh ingredients that can irritate your sensitive skin and cause more harm than good in the long run. Thankfully, Mother Nature has us covered with skin-friendly acids!

Yes, you’ve read that correctly, we are talking about acids. Before your mind ventures too far into a horror movie, we’re talking about acids that are so mild on your pores that they will purify and cleanse as well as exfoliate, but without irritation. Some of them are derived from natural ingredients such as citrusy fruits (citric acid, imagine that), while some are found in your own skin, such as hyaluronic acid, and others such as salicylic acid are derived from plants, namely from the bark of the willow tree.

Heavenly Butters

Hand in hand with oils, butters are truly wonderful additions to your skin care routine. They are versatile, so you’ll find some heavier, perfect for winter, and other much lighter and ideal for summer months. They are your skin’s dream come true when it comes to moisture and nourishment.

You can start with shea or cocoa butter, while olive, almond, and hemp are also high on the list as some of the most delicious choices for your skin. Loaded with omega-3 and omega06 fatty acids, they boost collagen production, keep those wrinkles at bay, and protect your skin from sun damage, among other healthy things they do for your complexion! 

Try this recipe for hemp and lemon creamed body butter

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