“If you eat standing up death looks over your shoulder”
In the last 20 years the common sight of families sitting down to eat breakfast together has become somewhat rare.
Despite developments in technologies that help us to do more, more quickly we still seem to be out of time to commit to this daily ritual preferring to eat breakfast “on the go” or not at all as is the case for over 50% of Brits.
Whilst I am going to discuss the health implications of not sitting down to eat a meal I think it is important to look at the social effect the loss of this precious time in our day has on family structure and togetherness.
Eating together is a unifier and creates a place of community where families have the opportunity to share and talk about things outside of work that are meaningful and important to them. It allows for a regimented “checking in” – making sure the people you love are ok.
I believe sharing meals also creates a feeling of equality and helps maintain a healthy perspective on life.
Worryingly studies in the US have shown that children who don’t eat meals with their families are 30% more likely to be disruptive at school and 40% are more likely to be overweight compared to those that do.
Why is it bad for our body?
In our body we have a sympathetic and para-sympathethic nervous system.
The former is our fight or flight response which is triggered when you are under stress.
When you are standing up you are in a sympathetic nervous system – your body is providing you with energy and blood flow to stand up.
You body cannot digest food well in the sympathetic mode – it puts pressure on your body and increases the likelihood of indigestion, bloating and gas.
Post stress the body kicks into the parasympathetic response, which helps our body relax. The parasympathetic response also triggers your digestive juices and enzyme activity.
Parasympathetic is the best mode to be eating. Your body is in a relaxed state, like when you are sitting or lying down.
Traditionally we would bless the food at our table before we ate it.
Blessing food before a meal brings your awareness to the moment for eating and that way prepares your physiological body to digest the meal by increasing salivation, digestion enzymes.
If you are on the move, your body cannot register you are having a complete meal and therefore does not sufficiently prepare.
For health and happiness I believe food should be consumed in a joyful and relaxed state full of gratitude for the meal you have in front of you.
At Primrose’s Kitchen our passion is for British made and wherever possible British sourced.
We take great care to find the best quality organic produce grown by passionate farmers and producers like us.
Being a muesli and granola producer we use a LOT of oats.
Being a key ingredient it is important we don’t use just any oats. Our oats our sourced from two different family farms which are both certified gluten free. Our porridge oats are milled the same way they have been since the 1800s using a flat-bed kiln and water powered mill.
Non-organic Oats and wheat contain one of the highest number of pesticide residues of all produce tested (PAN UK) which is why we feel it is so important to be organic. In our opinion no level of residues is the only safe level. This is not only for our health but also to protect the declining insect populations, which play a valuable role in our holistic ecosystem.
Our Vegetable muesli was designed to help you get more fresh vegetables into you diet. We support British growers in Norfolk for our organic carrots and beetroot that grow so well in the UK and our full of great nutrition.
Apples have been grown in the UK since the Neolithic.
Our supplier Charlie took over the family farm in Kent from his father who was already making juice decided to diversify into apple drying and now supplies us with our dried apple and pear pieces.
Orchards in the UK provide a valuable range of food, shelter and breeding sites for lots of species. Dead and decaying wood provides an important place for the growth of fungi and invertebrates. Rotting fruit provides a food source to all kinds of birds such as thrushes and fieldfares not to mention the mammals such as hedgehogs and badgers.
Because it is difficult to get large heavy machinery in to churn up the soil in an orchard much of the soil is undisturbed and rich in life.
In fragmented landscapes orchards increase the habitat connectivity, the loss of which is a threat to many 1000’s of species.
Important reasons to support our orchards.
There is a diverse web of connections when it comes to the production of our food but I think two valid steps that will help reduce the impact we have on our wildlife and the planet as a whole is moving back to British and supporting Organic.
Hippocrates said “Let Food by thy medicine and Medicine be thy food” and I agree with him. Food should nourish and strengthen us with its vitamins, antioxidants and fibre.
At Primrose’s Kitchen we talk about Living in line with Nature. For me this is eating uncontaminated foods, breathing in clean air, taking regular exercise and living passionately doing work that inspires you, surrounded by people who support you.
When we get this combination right “dis-ease” can no longer take a hold on our body as our vital force is optimized and keeps things that don’t resonate with this higher frequency at bay- we are truly Living in line with our nature.
The BBC Trust me I am a doctor did tests on non organic and organic vegetables and found:
“Non-organic food did contain ‘trace amounts’ of pesticides….
But, these are considered to be levels, which are safe for human consumption. And so really you shouldn’t be worried at all.”
I don’t believe any of the food we eat should contain residues of substances that are designed to kill insects as it stands to reason they will have a detrimental effect on us of some kind or another. Eating poison is generally not advised…
Pan UK published a report “Food for Thought” in order to bring to our attention the levels of pesticides supplied to four to six-year olds in England under the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS). They found unacceptable levels of pesticides present – 123 pesticides in total!
They also highlighted the effects of these pesticides as being a kin to “poisons” in our system with acute symptom examples being: respiratory tract irritation, sore throat and/or cough, allergic sensitization, eye and skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, loss of consciousness, extreme weakness, seizures and/or death
Due impart to the heavy metals such as lead and copper long term pesticide exposure has been linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease; asthma; depression and anxiety; cancer, including leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma; and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Should any level of a poison be deemed safe for human consumption? and has the government legislation that says it is been highly questioned? These are the key questions we need to ask.
At Primrose’s Kitchen we are Organic because we believe that in an increasingly toxic world and an ever-pressurized ill health system organic is a step in the right direction.
Whether organic or non organic I don’t believe the nutritional benefits (aside from the lack of pesticides) are very different in the conventional supermarket consumer purchase chain. Nutritional content decreases the moment something is picked so in order to get the best nutrition from organic vegetables we should be encouraging organic pick your own, organic growing your own at home and on allotments or air drying once picked like we do with our vegetable muesli.
As well as contributing to species decline and decline in our health chemical fertilizers and pesticides are also contributing to the decline of our soil quality with a recent report saying that 16% of UK fields tested showed an absence of deep burrowing worms”. This clearly has a knock on effect on bird life who rely on worms for food too which is the studies are also showing.
Although price is often the obstacle to buying organic, I think we need to ask the question, what is the true price for our body, the planet and humanity as a whole if we don’t?
For further information on this subject I recommend watching a film called The Worm is Turning (link below)
I have drawn up my top tips you can start implementing in your life to make a difference to the Planet and wildlife around us.
- Stop using slug pellets as these get eaten by a whole host of other species and put chemicals into our soils.
Alternatives: Seal your garden and rehome some hedgehogs to deal with slugs and snails:
Place little trays of stale beer or cider around the garden
Place road salt around the edges of vegetable gardens
- Hang bird feeders so your local community of birds have a back up food source
- Stop using toxic cleaners in your home and switch to Ph neutral makes like Ecover
- Stop using fabric conditioner in your washing machine. This is one of the most damaging products for our Sea. It has a devastating effect on the natural enzymes it comes into contact with.
- Stop buying clothing that contains polyester and plastic derivative fabrics as they end up as micro plastics when washed into our water systems which end up back in our food chain.
- See any wildlife in need and take the time out of your busy schedule to help it or put it out of its misery if need be.
- Create wood piles in your garden for mammals to live in
I am really excited to be interviewing intrepid explorer Ben Saunders about life and his recent expedition to Antarctica.
It was his 12th expedition, a west-to-east traverse from Berkner Island to the Ross Ice Shelf via the South Pole. Ben did the trip in memory of his friend Lt Col Henry Worsley, who nearly completed the expedition before falling ill and passing away in hospital in Chile in January 2016.
Due to poor weather conditions, the expedition took longer than Ben envisaged and he made the decision to end the expedition at the South Pole. The expedition raised funds for The Endeavour Fund, the same charity supported by Worsley.
What was your earliest experience of adventure as a child?
I grew up in the West Country and was lucky enough to be outdoors a lot as a young boy, climbing trees, swinging in the river. I think my earliest expedition was a school trip to Dartmoor, aged eleven.
When did you realise that these outdoor adventures needed to be a much large part of your life, indeed become your career?
After I left school, I worked for six months to save some money and then went travelling in the Himalayas. I then went on to spend a year in the Scottish Highlands working at the John Ridgway School of Adventure. These were pivotal years for me and John was an incredible mentor and someone that, looking back now, I realise inspired me profoundly.
These are long, hard and often quite dangerous trips and your recent one even more so as you were on your own.
What are the main emotion/s or drive behind doing them?
Paradoxically on solo expeditions I’m normally so busy that there isn’t much time left over to dwell on my situation and feel lonely or sorry for myself. The motivation because this particular trip was to honour the memory, achievements and philanthropic legacy of a friend.
Walking solo for long distances reminds me of pilgrimages, which often end in spiritual realisation. Did you have any profound realisations during this time of solitude?
I thought this expedition might become some sort of pilgrimage, but I was so busy navigating through the white-out and over the sastrugi that I had no time to think about anything other than where to place my next ski.
What home comforts do you miss most on these trips?
I miss my dog! Coffee, hot showers, riding my bike, being able to walk around without mittens on.
You took Primrose’s Kitchen muesli and granola with you to eat for your breakfasts whilst on this trip.
Did you have a favourite flavour? Courgette and cacao granola – sounds peculiar, actually quite tasty.
Did they give you the energy you needed in the morning? They did. We also added powdered coconut cream to up the fat and calorie content.
Two topics that are headlining at the moment are plastic pollution and mental health.
I am interested, are the polar regions pristine or are they littered with plastic and pollution?
They are relatively pristine but the broader effects of climate change are perhaps more apparent there than anywhere else on the planet.
The preparation for these trips I imagine is nearly as hard as the trip itself due to the high fitness levels your body has to perform at. Is this a case of mind over matter?
Very much mind over matter, but it’s also a high consequence environment where the cost of a mistake can be very high indeed, so both your body and mind need to be functioning at a high level.
Does anxiety or fear ever get the better of you?
I’m definitely not immune to fear and there have been some genuinely frightening moments on all of my big expeditions.
And how to you overcome it?
By having sufficient motivation and a goal that matters to you to keep on going.
What is the next trip in Ben Saunders diary?
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your life?
“Leave people, places and things better than you find them” – John Ridgway
Finally, what would you like your legacy to be?
To inspire people to live more adventurously
I find your achievements so inspiring Ben so thank you for answering my questions.
I encourage readers to go and hear Ben at one of his speaking events if they haven’t already or catch his TED talk online.
You can find information on Ben and his upcoming events at www.bensaunders.com
Kefir is a potent probiotic, which supports gut health. With the link between the gut and mental health more well understood now it is more important than ever that we bring back our ancestral knowledge of fermented foods to support our body with.
Kefir comes in two forms. As water kefir grains which you can use with water and milk kefir grains which you use with milk. As someone who doesn’t drink milk I use the water ones but both are beneficial and surprisingly often the milk one is suitable for those who don’t respond well to dairy normally due to the fermentation process it undergoes.
The grains themselves are made up of cultures of bacteria and yeasts working symbiotically together and have an unlimited lifespan provided they are looked after.
For water kefir you will need the following ingredients
1 packet of water kefir grains – you can buy on amazon
3 tablespoons of raw cane sugar
1 litre kilner jar
5 sultanas or dried mulberries or other dried fruit
handful of cleavers
handful of nettles
Although using so much sugar might seem frightening be assured that the grains use this sugar as a food which they digest.
Place all the ingredients in the kilner jar and top with filtered water.
Don’t use tap water if it is highly chlorinated.
(I recommend referring to my blog post on water filters if you are on the mains system)
Leave in a warm place (airing cupboards work best)
Allow to ferment for 3 days.
The kefir should be fizzy when you open the lid. The liquid may be lighter in colour and slightly cloudy. It shouldn’t taste sweet but rather slightly sour or tangy.
Drain the kefir grains from the water using a plastic sift ( metal will damage the grains) and bottle up your kefir water.
Put the grains back in the kefir jar and start the process again.
If you look after your grains well and do not use fresh fruit juices your kefir grains will continue to grow and you can split them and share them with someone else and inspire them.
Drink at least 50ml per day ideally in the morning on rising.
You can also use it has a mixer for alcoholic drinks!
Fresh Ginger and Turmeric
Rose and Cardammon
Nettle and Rosehips
In the UK we love our tea and we spend a fortune on teabags, the majority of which contain a lot of dusty contents, are placed in bags often containing plastic fibres and generally we infuse them ONCE very quickly. I have always felt them very wasteful…
I prefer infusing spices and fresh herbs straight into the pot then keep refilling with hot water until I have made the most of every drop of goodness natures precious ingredients contain. After that they can go straight into my compost and the cycle continues to create new life.
Spices are hugely healing additions to your tea cup being natural anti-inflammatories, anti bacterials, and rich in antioxidants. And even better you will no doubt already have them in your kitchen cupboard at home! Often if your not cooking regularly these end up going off and losing their vitality and before you know it you have spices with a best before date of 5 years ago sitting there. Using them in teas means they can regularly be refreshed which benefits your cooking too!
Making tea is a ritual for many people whether that is first thing in the morning or throughout the day. I like to use a glass tea pot for this so I can appreciate the beautiful colours of the natural ingredients I put in it and watch the infusion process. It creates more awareness for the tea making process and more appreciation In my opinion. Here is a great website for a choice of such teapots. https://www.theteamakers.co.uk/glassware.html
Infuse a teaspoon of any of the following well-known spices in a strainer or teapot for at least 10 minutes before drinking.
Here is a list of your cupboard spices you might want to include:
Cinnamon Sticks – great sugar level balancer
Cloves- immune booster, anti inflammatory
Black pepper- antiseptic, immune booster
Star anise- reduces nausea
Cardamom- improves circulation, antioxidant
Fennel – aids digestion
Cumin- improves skin disorders
All fruits can be infused in hot water as a tea but these are a couple that I use most frequently:
Goji berries- immune booster, anti inflammatory.
Sultanas- a tibbetan remedy for adrencal support.
Fresh orange/blood orange
In addition to the spices you can also look to your garden for free ingredients:
Nettles – use the tips as this is where the most energy is contained.
Cleavers – great lymphatic drainer
Primroses – great for calming the nervous system/ sleeplessness
Violet flowers and leaves- lymph drainer
Rosemary – volatile oils great for the chest and immune system
Thyme – volatile oils great for sore throats.
Parsley – urinary tract support, alkalsing
Mint- digestive issues
A few of my favourite combinations:
Turmeric, black pepper, rose petals
Goji berries, nettles,
Cleavers, nettles, rose petals
Elderflower and thyme
Elderberries and fresh ginger
Fennel and fresh mint
Primroses, violets, nettles
Parsely and lemon
“My dear if you could give me a cup of tea to clear my muddle of a head I should better understand your affairs.”
― Charles Dickens, Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy
“Making tea is a ritual that stops the world from falling in on you.”
― Jonathan Stroud, The Creeping Shadow
Spring is on its way and the wild greens are springing up all over the place.
When I am not chewing on the punchy wild garlic leaves for their vitamin C and blood thinning properties I am brewing pots of tea made from cleavers, nettles and primroses in order to absorb their beneficial nutrients and stimulate the lymphatic system for which they have a great affinity. This really is my favourite time of year.
As a lover of breakfast and a maker of muesli I wanted to find a way of using one of my favourite wild plants (often thought of as a weed) The Nettle and decided to combine it as part of traditional Swiss Bircher muesli.
You will find the recipe below.
150g porridge oats
10g dried apple (sulphite free) or ½ fresh grated apple
2-3g of dried crushed nettles
4g chia seeds
The only ingredient you will need to prepare ahead of time are the nettles. You will need to refer to a wild food manual to identify this plant if you are not familiar.
I suggest picking the fresh tops of the nettle plants, as this is where the plant holds all its energy and if you are careful the leaves are softer here so you can avoid getting stung.
Gather at least 100g fresh weight (enough to fill a kitchen mixing bowl) so you will have some to store once dried. We don’t want any stalks.
Put the oven on the lowest setting and lay out the nettles on wire racks. Leave the oven door just open and dry like this for 4-6 hours or until crumbly when you scrunch them up in your hands. This destroys the irritating stings.
Another way to do this is to hang the nettles over the radiators or in a hot green house.
Once dry they should crush easily rather than be bendy.
Measure out all the ingredients from the list and place in a bowl.
Cover with your favourite milk the night before you want to eat it so it can soak.
Soaking oats allows them to be more easily digested.
If you are using fresh grated apple add this in the morning just before you eat it.
Nettles are one of the best sources of iron, vitamin C, A, and calcium so sprinkle your new store of dried nettles into as many meals as possible as a good nutrition source.
Chia seeds are a fantastic source of protein, fibre and omega 3 fatty acids
Oats nourish the nervous system
The start of the year is an ideal opportunity for a fresh start and to set yourself goals. When doing this remember ‘The Law of Attraction’. You attract what you think about! So lets not only think it, let’s INK it and make it a reality!
Here are our 10 steps for success:
The first step to goal setting is to have absolute belief and faith in the process. If you don’t believe you can absolutely transform your life and achieve your dreams, then you might as well forget about goal setting and do something else. If you are in doubt, look around you. Everything you can see began as a thought.
- VISUALISE WHAT YOU WANT.
Think of what you deeply desire in your life or where you want to be a year from now. What changes have to take place? What do you need to know or learn? What spiritual, emotional, personal, financial, social or physical properties need to be addressed? The clearer you are on these the easier it will be to focus on making it happen.
- WRITE IT DOWN!
By writing down your goals, you become a creator. Failure to write down your goals often means you will forget them or won’t focus on them. Have them written down where you can see them every day.
Knowing why you want to achieve your goals is powerful. Identifying the purpose of your goal helps you instantly recognise why you want that particular goal and whether it’s worth working toward.
Write a few pages about why and how you are committing to each goal; why it’s important to you, what it means to you, why the outcome is necessary and what are you going to do to make it happen. Without strong commitment you aren’t likely to follow through.
- STAY FOCUSED.
By focusing on your goals, you manifest. You may not know how you’ll reach your goals but when you make a daily practice of focus, they become easier to reach. Without a regular practice of focusing on your goals you may be distracted by something.
- PLAN OF ACTION.
Being really clear about what you want, knowing your purpose, writing your goals down, committing to them, and staying focused gives you the power of clarity to write down a list of action steps. You may not know all the steps ahead of time but you will know the next steps that take you in that direction.
- NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT.
To show how committed you are to your goals, think of something you can do right now that will get you moving toward fulfilling your goals. You will be surprised how this simple step reinforces all the previous steps and gets you motivated and moving towards what you desire.
To push through when things get tough, you have to hold yourself accountable or have an accountability partner. A coach will provide valuable feedback and point you in the right direction.
Make it part of your day to review your goals and take action. This keeps your goals alive and top of mind.
By following these steps and practicing your goals each day, you have all the elements you need to succeed and achieve your dreams. It isn’t always easy to push through. Some days will be easier than others but if you keep focused on your goals you will be amazed at the progress you will make. Remember, almost everything begins as a thought. You can be what you imagine if you follow these simple steps.
At Core Wellness it our mission to be your coach, to hold you accountable with your health, to be your cheerleader when it gets tough, to guide you and most importantly celebrate your success with you! If you would like support with your health goals this year, or know somebody who needs a health coach then get touch as we would love to help! 8 Weeks to Wellness® is designed to give you a team of coaches and a plan of action to make your health goals a reality!
“I notice that Autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
Autumn is certainly one of the busiest times of the year. The kids are back to school, there’s more rich heavy food, caffeine, endless to-do lists, Halloween, Bonfire Night and maybe event Christmas and New Year plans begin popping up! Honour this by getting plenty of rest and taking time for yourself to slow down, relax and restore. You’ll feel so much more energised, balanced and content if you adjust accordingly throughout this beautiful changing season. Try this Autumn yoga sequence to deeply nourish and get you into balance!
Lion’s Breath (Simhasana Pranayama)
“Prana” meaning “life force” or “energy” and “yama” meaning vow or observance, “pranayama” is often interpreted as “yogic breathing”. In Chinese Medicine the organ of the body associated with the autumn is the lungs. In Autumn, the air becomes more dry so to refresh, warm and nourish our lungs and bodies we can practice “lion’s breath” or “simhasana pranayama” to beat the dry and cold Autumn air: Sit back on your heels. Breath in through the nose then release out through the mouth with a loud “haaaaaah” sound.
Bonus: Have some fun… release stress by being silly (like me below!) Get into it by sticking your tongue out, crossing your eyes and roar with each exhalation. A few rounds will build heat and shake out tension in the body.
Lower to the hands and knees. Knees hip distance apart, hide the feet behind the knees. Wrists under the shoulders, spread the fingertips. Inhale to hug the heart through the upper arms, dip the belly, lift the tail and lift the gaze. Exhale to round the spine, hug the belly in tight, engage the pelvic floor and tuck the chin to the chest.
Repeat 5 times to completely warm up the spine.
Childs pose (Balasana)
From downward facing dog, lower the knees, draw the tail bone back down to the heels as you lengthen the arms long. Savour these moments of rest – breathe deeply as you surrender completely to the earth in this most nourishing, stable and grounding posture.
Forward Fold – (Uttanasana)
Come up to stand. Stand tall and strong with your feet hip distance apart. Engage your pelvic floor and the low belly muscles. Interlace the fingers behind the lower back. Lift the heart and gaze to the sky, push the pelvis forwards and grip with your toes.
Bend over and draw the knuckles up and away from the body releasing tension in the shoulders. Bring the chest to the thighs bending the knees as much as you need to protect the lower back.
Make your way to downward facing dog. Draw the right foot in between the hands. Sink the left knee down. Lift the arms and the gaze to the sky. Keep the pelvic floor engaged, hug the legs towards each other and feel a stretch up the front of the belly. Be very careful not to dump into the lower back. If your feeling strong, tuck the toes on the back foot lifting the knee off the ground coming into high lunge. Lower the arms down around the front foot and press back to downward facing dog.
Repeat on the other side.
Tree pose (Vrksasana)
Carefully come up to stand – curl up your spine and let your head come up last. Switch on your pelvic floor and hug the low ribs in. Stand tall, firm, strong and balanced on both feet with the inner thighs rotating in towards each other. Equalise your inhale and exhale. Shift the weight into your chosen standing leg and lift the other bringing the sole of the foot either to the ankle, calf or inner thigh (nowhere near the knee!) Raise that hands to the heart or up high to the sky.
Focus on how the body feels here, how you’re breathing. Keep the head still but move the eyes and perhaps even close them for the last few breaths of the balance.
Make sure to repeat on the other side!
Thread the Needle (Parsva Balasana)
Make your way back onto the hands and knees. Thread the right arm palm face up, underneath the left arm and lower the right shoulder to the mat. Hold for 5 deep breaths and breath space into your right shoulder blade. Inhale back to all 4’s. It might feel nice to even-out the spine with a few cat/cows or sway the hips side to side before repeating on the left side.
Corpse pose (Savasana)
Lie down flat on the mat. Bring the hands down by your sides with the palms facing up. Close the eyes, relax every muscles, every bone, every ligament, every cell. Listen to the natural sounds around you. Feel the earth supporting you. Remember what you would like to let go off to enter into this new season fresh, energized and restored. Stay here for at least 5 minutes allowing your body and mind to completely relax so that these postures and their warming, nourishing benefits can truly sink into the body. Remember Lao Tzu’s wise words: “Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished.” Say the same to yourself and know that it’s always ok to slow down and take time out for your ever-changing incredible body and mind.
Catherine Gallagher is a yoga teacher based in West Sussex, with a passion for wellness, health and self-love. Catherine offers her unique yoga ‘Zen Do’ parties for Hen Do’s, corporate companies and groups of friends open to something a little different!
Yoga with Catherine