Look after yourself and the planet – one plant-based meal at a time

You’ve probably noticed that plant-based eating has been getting a lot of media attention recently. The interest in vegetarian, vegan and ‘flexitarian’ or low-meat diets has skyrocketed in the past few years. As a consequence, foregoing or limiting meat and other animal products is no longer considered outlandish or thought of as just another passing food fad.

But what is plant-based eating exactly? Simply put, it’s a diet composed either exclusively or primarily of foods of plant origin, including veggies, grains, nuts, seeds, beans and fruits. Animal products, such as meat, fish, milk and eggs, feature in small amounts if at all.

If you’ve ever been curious about plant-based eating, there’s never been a better time to give it a go –the availability of plant-based products is at an all-time high as global brands and new start-ups alike are catering for this new growing demographic.

1. The benefits of eating a plant-based diet

So why are people switching to plant-based eating, and why might you want to give it a dabble? The most common reasons to favour veggie fare include the following:

 Compassion for animals

Animals are the most obvious beneficiaries of the plant-based eating trend. It’s estimated that collectively we munch our way through more than 56 billion farmed animals every year. And this number doesn’t include fish (consumption of seafood is measured in tonnes) or animals like the majority of male calves and chicks that are disposed of shortly after birth because they can’t produce milk and eggs. And even dairy cows and hens live only a fraction of their natural lifespan because they’re only kept alive while their productivity is at its highest. By changing the way we consume animal products and therefore vote with our wallets, we can join the ever-growing collective message that animals deserve better.

Treading lightly on our planet

For many, the environmental impact of animal agriculture is the main reason why they choose to reduce their meat and dairy consumption. Growing plant crops is a more effective way to feed the world than raising animals for food: it takes up far less space and uses less water as well as producing less waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Eating for health and beauty

Finally, lots of people decide to switch from a diet heavy in animal products to a more plant-based lifestyle to look after their health. Many studies show that adopting a plant-based diet can help prevent or even reverse many of the more common health conditions from heart disease to diabetes. Other benefits of incorporating more veggie meals may include higher energy levels, a healthier weight, better sleep and improved mental health.

And if you’re interested in eating for beauty, making space for more fruit and veg on your plate ups your intake of vitamins, healthy fats, fibre plus many micronutrients and can lead to a clearer and brighter complexion.

2. How to transition towards a plant-based way of eating

Do it at your pace

 

Do you find the idea of plant-based eating appealing… but completely daunting at the same time?

If going ‘pure plants’ feels too extreme right now, why not commit to one plant-based meal a day for a month and see how it goes? Every healthy veggie meal you eat will benefit you, the animals and the planet, whether you eventually decide to go fully plant-based or perhaps choose a flexitarian approach.

 

Retrain your taste buds

 

What if you just aren’t too keen on eating veggies? Or don’t want to give up your favourite (animal-based) foods? Put the focus first on sampling new plant-based foods and trying out different recipes instead of eliminating foods you love from your diet. With the staggering amount of blogs featuring plant-based recipes from around the globe, you’re bound to discover dishes that will please your taste buds (and might even become new favourites). Research suggests that our palates can adjust to dietary changes over time: the more we eat certain things, the more likely we are to enjoy them too.

 

Speaking of recipes, here are two simple-to-make but oh-so-satisfying plant-based dishes for you to try out. Featured on the Minimalist Baker (where blogger Dana shares her passion for healthy, simple meals that not only taste incredible but come together fast), they might just convince you that you’re not going to miss meat and dairy that much after all…

Chocolate Peanut Butter Avocado Pudding (A recipe by the Minimalist Baker)

Chock-full of healthy fats and whole-food goodness, this dessert (or breakfast… why not?) tastes much naughtier than it is… And all you need to whip it up is a handful of ingredients and a couple of minutes – the steps are pretty much just blend and chill before you dive in.

Ingredients (6 portions)

  • 1 1/2 ripe avocados
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1/2 salted peanut butter + more for topping
  • ~ 1/2 cup sweetener of choice (e.g. maple syrup, agave or date paste)
  • ~ 1/4 cup almond milk or other non-dairy milk

Method

  1. Add all ingredients into a food processor and blend until creamy and smooth.
  2. Divide between 6 small serving glasses, cover with plastic wrap (pressing the plastic wrap down on the pudding to prevent a skin from forming and chill for a few hours, or overnight.
  3. Top with a drizzle of salted peanut butter.

 

30-minute Coconut Curry (A recipe by the Minimalist Baker)

We’ve got your dinner sorted, too. Rich yet healthy and lightly spiced (though you can always add more spices to get your desired level of heat and flavour), this colourful Indian-inspired curry can be adapted by substituting your favourite vegetables or whatever you happen to have. Pair the curry with quinoa for an extra protein kick and you’ve got yourself a meal that covers most of your nutritional bases.

Ingredients (4 portions):

  • 1 Tbsp coconut or olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger (or 1 tsp ground)
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets (or green bell pepper), diced
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/4 cup diced tomato
  • 1/3 cup snow peas (loosely cut)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • optional: Pinch cayenne or 1 dried red chili, diced (for heat)
  • 2 14-ounce cans light coconut milk (sub full-fat for richer texture)
  • 1 cup veggie stock
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • For serving (optional): fresh lemon juice, fresh herbs, red pepper flakes

Method

  1. Heat a large saucepan or pot to medium heat and add 1 Tbsp coconut oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, carrot, broccoli and a pinch each salt and pepper and stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened – about 5 minutes.
  2. Add curry powder, cayenne (or chili pepper), veggie stock, coconut milk, another healthy pinch of salt and stir. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat slightly and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the snow peas and tomatoes in the last 5 minutes so they don’t overcook.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added another pinch or two of salt.
  5. Serve over quinoa, rice or millet and garnish with fresh lemon juice and herbs.

 

How to get a beautiful night’s sleep…and rejuvenate skin, body and mind

Know that feeling of dragging yourself through the day after another turbulent night’s sleep? If so, you won’t need us to tell you that sleep deprivation can make everything a lot harder – and how you look and feel not so peachy either. Concentrating at work becomes difficult as our focus falters, and the little things are more likely to get on our nerves. We may also be more tempted by sugary snacks or rely heavily on glugging caffeine to keep us going…

Sleeping poorly on a regular basis can affect more than our attention span and stress levels. Various medical problems from obesity and diabetes to cancer and immune deficiency have been associated with chronic sleep deprivation. And skimping on nightly slumber (the time when our bodies get busy healing, repairing and renewing) spells disaster for our complexions too. One study showed a significant increase in blemishes, brown spots, redness and bacteria on the skin after just five days of reduced sleep, while another study demonstrated that long-term sleep deprivation accelerates skin aging (causing more fine lines and wrinkles) as well as slowing down healing from sunburn.

On the bright-eyed side though, when we do get into a healthy sleeping rhythm, we’re likely to feel brighter and less stressed and have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight and remembering things, to name a few benefits. In other words, sleep is worth prioritising and will make our waking hours count more to boot.

But what if you find it difficult to nod off at night? Or struggle to stay asleep? Try our three steps below to increase your chances of getting your beauty sleep tonight.

  1. Create an optimal environment for sleep

One of the more common things that hinders our attempts to drift easily at night is exposure to bright lights late in the evening. How easily we fall asleep – as well as the quality and quantity of sleep – is to a large extent linked to our levels of melatonin, aka the ‘sleep hormone’: darkness ramps up the production and bright lights suppress it. To keep things melatonin-friendly, avoid watching the telly or using your computer late in the evening, and aim to switch your phone off well ahead of bedtime. If possible, dim the lights in your home or switch to softer, amber coloured lights, such as Himalayan salt lamps, in the evenings, and use black-out curtains or blinds in the bedroom to create complete darkness at night.

Falling asleep is also partly cued by a natural fall in our body temperature, and keeping the bedroom cool can help us sleep better. The optimal room temperature for sleep is thought to be 15.5 – 19.5°C (60 – 67°F).

  1. Follow a sleep-friendly bedtime routine

A soothing bedtime routine is another good way to let our bodies know it’s time to wind down for sleep. Avoid caffeine after 3pm as well and skip exercising and eating a couple of hours before bedtime.

Instead, take time for a soothing evening ritual: gentle stretching, reading and a warm bath infused with lavender essential oil or our Blue (Serenity) Bath Salts are good ways to calm the mind and body alike. To maximise the complexion-boosting powers of sleep, treat your skin to a cleanse, tone and moisturise routine before hitting the pillow – for guaranteed glowing skin by morning try our three-phase system.

If an overactive mind is keeping you from falling asleep, try this: write a list of the things that are on your mind and leave it outside your room (or visualise the same if you have no pen and paper at hand). And if you’re getting frustrated and anxious about not being able to fall sleep, stop trying and pick up a book or meditate for ten minutes instead.

  1. Go for a sleep-boosting lifestyle

What we do in the last few hours before bedtime may have the biggest impact on the quality of our sleep, but what we get up to earlier in the day and matters too.

It’s easier to sleep well when we maintain a regular daily pattern: waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day as far as possible, including the weekends. Aim for at least [Read more…]

Discover the stress-busting benefits of books (and our top three picks for you)

Some of us learn to love books from a young age, some of us discover the pleasure of reading later on, while some of us may still not be convinced that books are worth their while… If you consider yourself a book worm, we’ve got some great news for you – and if you don’t, you may be willing to give reading another shot soon after you’ve read what we’ve got to tell you…
The many benefits of reading books
Can you guess what reduces stress more efficiently than taking a walk, listening to music or sitting down for a cuppa? Of course, we’ve already given that away… But you may still be surprised that according to research a mere six minutes spent reading a book can reduce our stress levels by a whopping 68%. And the benefits of reading books don’t stop there. As well as reducing our heart rates and easing muscle tension, regular reading is believed to stimulate imagination, develop critical thinking, sharpen memory, increase empathy, have protective effects against mental decline and even help us live longer.
How to fit books into your life
We hope the above has convinced you to make books a part of your daily life (if they weren’t already). But what if you just can’t find the time? These days (thank you, technology), books are more accessible than ever. We can download e-books and audiobooks to a device of our choice at home (sometimes even free if we make full use of library services) and have them at our fingertips (or headphones) whenever we can find a few minutes to spare. And if having hit a reading rut is your challenge, reading communities like the Goodreads will quickly guide you to your new favourite reads.
Inspired? Check out our favourite reads…
Our top three picks 

 1. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
This little gem of a book has sold millions of copies, and for a good reason: it’s the ultimate guide to achieving mental freedom from the past or future mindset. In simple words, Eckhart Tolle demonstrates how to live a healthier and happier life by living in the present moment. And if you’ve already read the Power of Now, then try his next, equally life-enhancing book: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.
Why we love it…
-It leads us to greater awareness of how our thinking habits influence our life experience.
-It empowers us to be in charge of our own happiness and wellbeing.
-It teaches us ways to surrender to the present moment that we can put into practice immediately.

2. Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed’s memoir is a powerful story of how one woman pieced herself back together – literally one step at a time – after the trauma of losing her mother, a painful divorce and a string of self-destructive coping mechanisms left her feeling utterly lost. She portrays her journey on foot alone from the Mojave Desert to Washington State with honesty, humour and warmth, and by the time you finish the book, you’ll feel like you too have been on a hope-renewing journey.
Why we love it…
-It shows us that there’s an endless reserve of courage within us, ready to be accessed when we most need it.
-It demonstrates that we can heal and find our way again even if we feel completely lost.
-It gives us a taste of what hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is like – without the blisters…

3. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
If all you want is to be completely absorbed in a story, Sue Monk Kidd’s novel has it all and more. This multi-layered tale of a motherless girl who runs away from home and is taken in by three beekeeping sisters keeps you emotionally engaged and intrigued to the very end.
Why we love it…
-Lily’s story is beautiful, moving and totally addictive – a book to get lost in.
-It’s both funny and heart-aching.
-It’s deeply spun with the magic and mysteries of honeybees symbolising the ups and downs of life.

 

Time to switch up our seasonal skincare again!

We love the changing of seasons and how the cycles we see in nature keep life feeling interesting and fresh. Our northern hemisphere friends will be noticing the nights getting chillier and will be starting to look forward to getting wrapped up in cosy jumpers and scarves, while our friends down under, on the other hand, have the glorious spring sunshine and warmer days to enjoy. While you make some seasonal changes to your wardrobe, take some time to update your skincare routine too – be it soaring mercury or wind and snow, our skin always appreciates a little extra care when there’s a major shift in weather conditions.

Built around multi-award winning formulations, our Three Phase System is your seasonal go-to simple cleanse, tone and moisturise routine that can be adapted to reflect the changing needs of your skin– read more to find out how to adjust it with optimal formulations as well as a few other tips to keep your complexion happy.

Autumn glow
Outdoor temperatures in autumn can drop dramatically without warning, meaning sudden exposure to cold weather can come as a shock to the skin. And repeatedly coming in from the cold to a centrally heated indoor space can further sensitise our skin and make it prone to dryness and irritation.
We can help our skin adjust by upping our hydration levels: make sure you’re drinking lots of water (herbal teas count) and make the air less drying in a room by putting a bowl of water on a radiator. Be sure to also give your skin extra nourishment and protection by making the switch to more hydrating skincare formulations. Our multi-award winning Cleansing Oil Dé-Maq and Enriching Moisturiser are our top picks for autumn and winter.


Spring radiance
In spring we’re often keen to spend as much time as we can outside, making most of the brighter and warmer weather after a long winter. But our complexion can react to the increasing temperatures by producing extra sebum, resulting in congested, inflamed and irritated skin.
Regular cleansing is a must as summer approaches. Make sure your routine includes a good cleanser and a gentle exfoliator to remove all traces of pore-clogging oils and dead skin cells. Formulations that are more refreshing are the best for spring and summer: try including our award-winning Dew Facial Wash and our multi-award winning Gentle Exfoliant in your skincare routine to brighten your complexion and to boost cell renewal.