The Healthy Choice

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A Selfish Post – One All About Me (but with a purpose!)

I want to be happy. 

Ok I said it – that is my priority in life and it is my priority for my family too

Yesterday I posted a survey to gauge interest in my real food workshops which I have been procrastinating about for some time. Why? Well I was worried about what people would want over what I wanted to provide.

What do I want to provide?

 I want to pass on my knowledge and enthusiasm about real food, cooking it and eating it, designing our own gardens and growing our own food, preserving and storing our own food, creating a healthier community, encouraging people to move away from their reliance on industrial farmed and processed food and to look after their own health naturally. To get people to understand that the vitamins and minerals in our soil equate to those in our fruit and veg, without looking after our soil we can’t hope to eat nutritious and satisfying foods. Showing how to live without the chemicals, pesticides and preservatives. Reconnecting people with the simple things in life, reconnecting them with their health. Getting communities to be responsible for their own health and happiness. Recreating communities – what happened to them?

Why this post? 

Because I realise that the survey on its’ own doesn’t tell you enough. It ends up like so many things in life disconnected from its’ original purpose and sadly on its’ own it is open to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Which I get – my bad! Maybe what I should have done is say these are my interests, tell me how you would want me to best utilise them for yours and others benefit?

My Interests (here’s the mind dump):

Living well – Health of the planet, soil health, growing own organic vegetables and fruit from heirloom seeds where possible, cooking and eating real food, all natural ingredients  – no processed foods, eating locally grown and home grown wherever possible, food provenance, no chemicals in the house for cleaning or personal care products, utilising herbs and plants from the garden where possible for medicinal, therapeutic and every day purposes. Being with my family and teaching my kids as much as possible.  Fermenting as a purpose to increase nutrient density, to make more digestible and for preserving food. Dehydrating for food preservation and also for gut health. Wild food foraging – because you can and why wouldn’t you! Living simply and cost effectively. Loving the life we live. Prioritising happiness. Outdoors – walking, hiking, running – loving it! Building a life where loving what we do is more important than material things.  

What have I been doing?

Primarily figuring out what is most important to me and mine and how to live truly honouring those priorities. I have also been cooking, creating, working and blogging. I sell The Probiotic Jar as I feel ferments are an important part of our past and a practical part of our future (part of Real Food). If I hadn’t supplied it, it wouldn’t be available here in the UK. I have become involved in a community garden project to teach real food to kids and adults. I will continue to be involved in a project in the community designing and supporting a Food Garden and teaching others how to do this. Some of the food from this project will be plowed back into the community to support others, businesses and individuals. I have been working with a number individuals on a one to one basis helping them to identify and correct problems with their diets in order to correct health issues. This has been really rewarding and has worked well for my customers too as they have received an entirely bespoke service.. Ah …. Yeah and I have been considering how else I can best use my skill base! This had led me to deciding to go down the route of providing online workshops on things like fermenting, detox living, sprouting, making your own household products and the like but for now that has come to a crunching halt due to the change in VAT laws on eservices which came in on 1st January 2015. If you know nothing about this and are interesting in a light hearted insight into the issues you might want to look here at the banana analogy!


To earn a living doing what I love. To be happy. To pass on my knowledge and share my passions with those of similar mind (individually and as a community). That my children grow up good people and be able to prioritising happiness over money, learning organically rather than by rote.  To be as independent of bureaucracy and politics as possible.  

What now?

Tell me what you think by:

Leaving a comment on the blog below

Sending me an email at

Completing the survey

Anything else you can think of!

Thanks for listening…



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Do you Despair of your skin? – How Organic Skincare Changed my Life


Do you despair of your skin? I used to hate mine, I found it demoralising and it made me very self conscious.

Nowadays though, I get a lot of people who comment on how great my skin looks.

“You look so young because your skin is so clear.”

“You look so healthy because your skin is glowing”

“You look good because you have great skin”

“It is easy to look younger when you have inherited such good skin”

“Your skin is so clear because you eat so well”

I should add that I am now 43.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I would bemoan the fact that my mum told me many years ago as a teenager that I would grow out of spots, blackheads, white heads, pimples and rant that she had lied because it just never happened.

If anything my skin got worse as I got older – I suffered from horrible large boils on my scalp and the lower half of my face, neck and upper chest. I was incredibly paranoid about them and they were painful. I would dab them with tea tree oil, antiseptic potions and face washes, toothpaste, cover up (to try and hide them), and laterally foundation (in a last ditch attempt to disguise it) … you name it I tried it.

I thought I was doing everything right, I always ate well eating real food, avoiding processed, limited sugar intake etc and I truly believed that good skin health (health in general) started from the inside out. I used products that were supposed to be simple and environment friendly. I exercised, drank water…… But, the boils continued.

So what changed?

Well, a few things changed. So bear with me while I lay it all out for you.

By the time I was 39 I had already qualified as a Nutritionist (but wasn’t working as one) and our diet was better than ever but not perfect. I made my own bread but was still learning that commercial yeast was wreaking havoc on my digestion and stomach health. I hadn’t discovered sour dough bread and natural yeast starter and I hadn’t discovered real food probiotics and the part they played in healing the gut, amongst other things.

By the time my 40th year had ended I had corrected these things and had also started questioning the chemicals that went into our personal care products and that we had to deal with daily in our environment – I have allergic asthma so this was probably a natural step to take – I say have but actually I haven’t had to use an inhaler or had any signs of asthma in a couple of years. I no longer even have an inhaler in the house.

I had simplified our personal care products and bought only organic by this time – they were hard to find though and I still suffered from issues with itchy scalp and my boils were not getting any better.

At this point I was also working as a Personal Stylist and was advising my clients on make up amongst many other things. This really brought into sharp focus for me how many of us have problems with our skin and how many chemicals are in so many of our skincare and make up choices. So I decided that I couldn’t advise people comfortably without understanding it all properly and in stepped Formula Botanica (previously known as The School of Holistic Cosmetology). I signed up to do the Diploma of Organic Skincare and my journey of illumination took a steep learning curve in the right direction.

What I discovered

What I discovered to my horror was that even the products that I was buying, which were calling/labelling themselves natural and organic, were not necessarily so. The UK law has many loopholes which allow products which use only 1 or 2% organic products in them to market themselves as organic – in other words they use it as a marketing ploy to attract people like me who wanted to make the right choices for me and the environment. I discovered that many of the chemicals used in skincare today are actually classified as endocrine (hormone disruptors), cause cancer and generally aggravate the problems we are trying to resolve by using them in the first place.

I learned to make my own cleansers, lip balms, moisturisers. I studied long and hard the ingredients that you can use in natural organic skincare and how to use them. The benefits to the skin and the environment and I went through every cupboard in my house and got rid of every product which had any chemical or ingredient in it which I was not willing for either myself or my family to live with. I replaced every product with a homemade one initially until I could trust my understanding of all of the “bad” ingredients. The list is long so I won’t bore you with it here – it deserves to be a post in its’ own right! The result has been stunning. Suffice to say I no longer have boils on my head – the culprit there was SLS, which was also causing my mouth ulcers!

My journey is not yet at an end. I will be launching as an Organic Skin Care Trainer soon and one day I would love to expand my Nutrition/Natural Lifestyle Consultancy to include a range of my own products, but for now I am happy in the knowledge that myself and my family are much healthier (we all have glowing skin J) as a result of my studies and that I can now share with you some of the knowledge that I have gleaned in my day to day consultancy and on my blog.

Many others that I studied with have successfully set up their own organic skincare labels – you can see examples of some of them by clicking here.Formula Botanica has now taught people in 47 different countries. With organic skincare predicted to be the largest area of expansion within personal care products over the next few years I wish my colleagues and myself every success.

If you, or anyone you know, are interested in learning more about Organic Skincare Formulation then why not go and have a look at the Formula Botanic Website.

In addition you may wish to take part in the 4 PART FREE MASTERCLASS which will be entirely video-based, being offered starting 20th September by Formula Botanica. All you have to do is provide your email address and express an interest. You’d be mad not to!


Fermented Spicy Squash Pickle


It’s that time of year where, if you are growing squash, you will suddenly find yourself inundated with them! This is a lovely way to preserve some for later in the year and it tastes amazing on homemade burgers or as a side to leftover meatballs and salad for lunch. It is fermented so it will take 5-7 days on your work top and the flavour will improve the longer it stays in the fridge. Can last for up to a year unopened and about 2-3 months once opened.

Approximately 1 kg of grated squash of any variety – feel free to mix up whatever you have around
1 medium sized onion, grated
1-2 medium cloves garlic finely chopped
2 or more red chili’s finely chopped
20g Himalayan Pink Salt

Squash is self brining so toss everything into a large bowl with gloves on ideally and mix up well with your hands giving the squash mixture a good squeeze to release some of the juice. Leave for half an hour or so and then pack into a Probiotic Jar (I used a 1.5 litre jar but a 1 litre would have been fine – it was just what I had to hand). Push the mixture under the brine level add the brine bowl and seal the jar. Fill (with water) and add the airlock. Cover with a dark cloth and leave on the work surface for 5-7 days – whenever it stops bubbling – if unsure knock the jar and see if any bubbles are released. If not you are done.

Transfer into the fridge to be eaten immediately or leave for another couple of months to enjoy in winter.

Let me know how you get on. 🙂

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Bramble Fruit Butter


Confused? This butter has nothing to do with butter other than the silky smooth texture once it is finished. Fruit butter can be made with any fruit, it can be made on the stove top, in a slow cooker or in the oven. It is much healthier than jams or chutneys in that it has way less added sugar and unlike jam can be made in any quantity you fancy.

1750g brambles (blackberries)
110mls organic runny honey
40ml lemon juice
1 scant tbsp of lemon zest – ensure you don’t get any of the white pith as it will make your fruit butter bitter.
2 tbsp water

Put everything into a large pot and bring to the boil then reduce to simmer for approx 1 hour. You will know it is done when you can take a spoonful put it on a plate and it doesn’t bleed any juice. Sieve mixture to take out the seeds.

Decant into sterilised glass jars, lid them and allow to cool. The butter will last 3-4 weeks in the fridge and up to a year in the freezer. If putting in the freezer then leave a couple of cm’s space at top of jar to allow for expansion.


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Bramble (Blackberry) Butter


I went Bramble (blackberries to the non Scottish readers) picking today – a normal activity for Autumn here in Scotland and one the whole family loves. Our first bramble forage took place last weekend and we expect to get another 2-3 weekends forages before the season is over. So the first batch went in the freezer for use with breakfast throughout the winter and yesterdays haul was split for 2 purposes the first of which I am sharing with you today. Unlike most fruit butters this has actually got butter in it – confused? Possibly a better name for this would be Fruity Bramble Butter? It is delicious on rye bread (or any other type of toast or cracker) and makes for a delicious and interesting crumble on winter puddings.

Recipe – (makes 3/4 small ramekins worth)
400g salted butter softened
1.5/2tbsps of honey or more to taste (ours came from the hives my husband was tending yesterday)
100g brambles or more if you like it even fruitier

Whip the butter and the honey until soft, smooth and fluffy. Mix in the berries as vigorously as you wish. I like mine quite well broken up so often chop them a bit before adding.

Place in waiting ramekins and refrigerate or freeze. Will last approx 2 weeks in the fridge and much more in the freezer. This butter makes and interesting and healthier option than jam on your toast, scones, crackers etc as it is very low in sugar. Give it a go and let me know what you think!

Next up will be a mixed wild fruit (actual) fruit butter…. watch this space 🙂


Spelt Flour Tortilla


We don’t eat that many wheat based foods (in fact my husband doesn’t eat any) but it isn’t something I have outlawed in our house. In stead I have reduced consumption and changed over cereals for alternative breakfast. These tortillas are however a blast from the past and a recipe that I still like to make the odd weekend as a lovely treat for us. Not sure if you have ever looked at the ingredients on shop bought tortillas and wraps but it is a horrifying discovery to see how many preservatives go in there. These really are simple to make and taste so much better than any of the packaged alternatives.

Tortilla Recipe
450g flour (I use 200g Spelt Flour and 250g Organic White Bread Flour mix)
50g olive oil
150g warm water
1.5 Himalayan Pink Salt
1.5tsp Baking Powder

Measure and mix together the dried ingredients in a large bowl then add the wet ingredients and mix until all together and knead for 5 mins then leave to rest for an hour – you can leave longer – I leave overnight in the fridge (covered) when it suits me.
Turn the dough out and cut into 16 even segments.
Roll each segment into a ball.
Flour your work surface and flatten each ball with the heel of your hand then with a rolling pin if easier to about 20cm diameter.
Heat a frying pan or griddle which can accommodate the tortilla and heat to medium hot. Add the first rolled out tortilla and dry fry for 1 min approx on each side until there are bubbles and brown spots then turn over and repeat.
Repeat for the remaining tortillas. Serve warm or you can reheat in a microwave in 10 secs or grill and serve crispy or with toppings like a pizza.

We had these at lunch today with various fillings like tuna and salad, ham and my favourite grilled halloumi cheese with finger cut crudites and a liberal dod of hot fermented sauce, wrapped up and savoured! Tomorrow (with the leftovers) we will have them grilled until crispy and slathered with some bramble butter that I am planning on making later on today…. How would you serve yours?


Adventures of a French Gardener in Scotland (Instalment 9) – Nasturtium Pesto

A very simple rule in my garden is that anything that grows in it is to be eaten. The only exception is the gladiolas. They have a symbolic value for me as they are my mum’s favourite flowers, and I must admit I am, and I love being, a mummy’s boy!!
So yes, apart from the gladiolas, all the flowers I have in my garden, such as Nasturtium, Camomile, Tansy, Calendula and Feverfew, are for my tea or literally for my tea!!
Nasturtium is one of my favourites as I love the flowers in my salad for their taste and for the colours, as the nasturtium also makes my salad looking quite funky!! However, my nasturtiums are so prolific that I had to set myself on a quest for finding new ways of using them.
Today, I am going to reveal to you a recipe I have tested for you: It is my lovely Nasturtiums Pesto (not much of a surprise considering the title of this bog!!). Moreover it is an easy 5 min job:
Ingredients (all approximate measures):
70 Nasturtium Flowers
9 Nasturtium seeds (beware they are fierce little things – Extremely peppery)
3 to 4 leaves of mint or lemon balm
2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
75g of grated cheese (pesto normally calls for parmesan but we only had mature organic cheddar which is what we used!)
50g of nuts (pesto recipes generally refer to pine nuts. I took what I have in my cupboard. I only had walnuts at hand when I prepared the pesto shown on the photo below.)
Oil (whatever is your preference – I used olive oil). –How much? Up until you are happy with the consistency)
Put everything in a food processor or blender and whizz until you have a smooth paste, or whatever consistency you prefer.
And here we go, my lovely, exotic, dead easy and tasty Nasturtium Pesto, which I can also freeze when I make too much – I can’t wait to eat it in the dead of winter when the snow is on the ground!
You can eat this anyway you choose but we love it best over spaghetti or the broad beans from our garden.
Nasturtium pesto