Menstrual Cups – They’re A Thing!

Menstruation. Periods. Blood. There, I’ve said it. Now let’s all get over ourselves and acknowledge that the blood that is released every month from a woman’s ovaries is what enables her to have children; it is what has kept our species alive. So why are we all so grossed out by periods?

Perhaps it is to do with times gone by when women were not to talk of such things, when women were supposed to be seen not heard, all in an attempt by men to control women; the same reason that birth started being portrayed as a punishment and thereby inflicting upon women the notion and belief that their bodies couldn’t do what they were intended for – because it was easier for men to control women if they were scared and thought they were disgusting.

Some Christian denominations advise women not to receive communion during their menstrual period. The traditional Islamic interpretation of the Qur’an forbids intercourse, but not physical intimacy, during a woman’s menstrual period. Judaism likewise forbids intercourse, but also forbids physical intimacy.

But before the Abrahamic religions, menstruating women were seen as goddesses. ‘Menstruation’ is etymologically related to ‘moon’. The fact that in humans, the menstrual cycle quite closely approximates the moon’s 29.5-day synodic cycle, suggested to ancient cultures that women were more deeply connected to the cosmos, making them higher beings. Greek mythology suggests that on the day of the new moon, the women of Olympia walked together to the river Eleutherion – the Water of Freedom. They bathed and then gathered branches from the lygos bushes, which they laid in a circle. With the blessing of the Goddess Hera, the lygos encouraged the flow of their menstrual blood that would complete the cleansing. As evening approached, they called upon the Goddess in Her appearance as the Moon. Or as Carl Kerényi has called Her “the spellbinding moonlight of Greece”, the “origin of all things”. Gradually Hera drew forth the blood of purification and renewed fertility.

In some historic cultures, a menstruating woman was considered sacred and powerful, with increased psychic abilities, and strong enough to heal the sick. According to the Cherokee, menstrual blood was a source of feminine strength and had the power to destroy enemies. In Ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder wrote that a menstruating woman who uncovers her body can scare away hailstorms, whirlwinds and lightning. If she strips naked and walks around the field, caterpillars, worms and beetles fall off the ears of corn. Menstrual blood is viewed as especially dangerous to men’s power. Which seems to be where it all went wrong…

And here we are in 2017, mostly ashamed of our periods and mostly trying to hide it and grossed out by anything relating to the blood that flows from our bodies every month. Which is exactly why I want to talk about menstrual cups.

Before coming round to a more holistic way of life, I was on the contraceptive pill for 12 years, mainly because no doctor ever thought to mention that it was a pretty stupid idea and that actually, it is not safe to take for so long. It controlled my periods; I could skip one if I went on holiday (or if I just didn’t fancy having a period that month), and it made my periods lighter and easier to time.

When I started learning more about the body and about natural health, I was dismayed at how bad the contraceptive pill actually is for us, and I came off it straight away. Of course my periods got heavier. I used Tampons and thick pads and just tried to wish away that week as fast as possible.

Eventually I started realising that if I was changing my face creams, my shower gels, my kitchen surface sprays, to natural products, surely I should look into whether the Tampons I was using were toxic. Guess what? THEY ARE.

Aside from the fact that all non-organic cotton contains glyphosate – which the World Health Organisation recently ruled as “probably carcinogenic” – non-organic feminine products also contain plastic chemicals BPA and BPS which disrupt embryonic development, and Dioxin which is a by-product of the chlorine bleaching process which pads and tampons go through to get them looking white. Dioxin is listed by the US Environmental Protection Agency as THE most toxic of ALL cancer causing chemicals and is a known carcinogen. It has possible links to:

  • breast cancer 
  • ovarian cancer
  • uterine cancer
  • Immune system suppression 
  • reproductive and developmental problems
  • organ failure
  • Endometriosis 
  • Infertility 

The vagina is a highly permeable space: anything we put inside can easily be absorbed through the mucus membrane and then into our bloodstream where it presents a toxic burden to the body. Chronic exposure increases our risk of cancer, causes oxidative stress and metabolic changes, and disrupts our endocrine system. This can contribute to adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immunological effects. Conditions such as infertility, endometriosis, and thyroid disorders are all on the rise, for example, and are affected by exposures to chemicals and toxins in our environment. When we wonder why so many of us have fertility issues these days, this is just one of the many problems contributing.

So to get to the point… after much research I discovered the menstrual cup. And yes, I thought it was weird at the beginning. Only because we only think that things we are used to are ‘normal’, everything else is weird. But once I got over my fear of my own blood, the menstrual cup honestly, genuinely changed my life.

I watched some YouTube videos by an amazing girl called Bryony of Precious Stars Pads who teaches people all about reusable menstrual products and how to use them. It took about 3 months to fully get used to it but I couldn’t imagine my life without my cup now. Most of them are made from healthy, high quality and sustainable Medical Grade Silicone that can be re-used for up to 10 years. They also have a large capacity which means you don’t have to get up in the night to change (the bane of my life during period week). When I went away and I was on my period (worst thing ever), I was actually able to sit by the pool in a bikini which I never would have done with tampons, because you just don’t leak through the cup and it keeps everything in AND it’s so comfortable and snug you don’t even know it’s there. Once it’s in, you genuinely don’t feel it AT ALL.

Aside from all the benefits using a menstrual cup over tampons has for my body, I am also very happy to be doing my small bit for the environment by not contributing to the 20 billion plastic-containing pads that are put into landfill every year and are unable to be broken down.

I still use a small pad on my heavy days. The pads I use are from a company called Natracare (they also do tampons) and I get them on my Ocado shop (easy peasy). The menstrual cups I read about and bought from Precious Stars. If you go on her website she will explain which one you need (different sizes and shapes for different women).

I really hope this post helps you change your stance on toxic feminine products and that you switch to the cup; for yourself, for the environment and for your poor, sweet little vagina who is dying for a break from all the toxins!

Sorry it was a long one, hopefully worth it!

Love & health,
Lauren

 

 

Guilt-Free Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

If you’re British, there is probably nothing more satisfying and comforting to you than a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive of an afternoon (had to say ‘of an afternoon’ instead of ‘in the afternoon’ because that’s how my nanny would have said it in that endearing East End way when talking about tea and biccies). 🍪 ☕️ So of course I wanted to make the healthy version so I can indulge my ultimate guilty pleasure. these are gluten, dairy, sugar and egg free.

I actually got this recipe from my lovely friend @mrshollingsworths. Her picture looks way better than mine because she’s more of an artist than I am with food but I’m happy to say they taste just as good! 😃 i also bake them for less time than she does – just a difference in ovens i guess.

I know food blogs and Instagram are all about the styling and the perfect pictures but guys, I have an 18 month old, a husband, a dog, arthritis to keep at bay with heaps of hard work, deadlines, and a novel to write! I can only spend so long re-arranging biscuits in the right light surrounded by random ribbons and hessian fabric before I have to give up and hope they’re good enough! So there you have it, my excuse for not having Instagram’s best pictures.

The truth is, I love making the food and feeding those I love. I love writing the recipes and the captions, but photography is not my passion so (in the voice of the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding) there you go! Hope you all enjoy this recipe anyway Happy baking, lovers!

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup oats
3/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup cashew butter (or any other nut or seed butter)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt

Chocolate topping:
1/2 cup cacao butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp cashew butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 180c and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

Put all the ingredients for the biscuits In a bowl and mix really well.

Shape them into biscuits and flatten down on the trays and bake for 8-10 minutes. If they look a little soft it’s ok, they’ll continue to harden once they come out the oven so don’t leave them in for too long.

Take them out the oven and leave to cool.

Make the chocolate by melting all the ingredients in a saucepan over a low light.

Once the biscuits are cool, spoon the chocolate over the top of each one and put on a plate in the fridge to cool.

Love & health,
Lauren 💜

Cauliflower Bites With Tahini Dip

Don’t these just look as awesome as they tasted?! They were demolished almost instantly. Just such a tasty snack for before dinner or as a starter and really easy to make with relatively few ingredients. I used rice breadcrumbs but you can use any breadcrumbs you may have at home.

Ingredients

1 cauliflower, broken into small florets
2 eggs
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp paprika
Salt & pepper

Tahini dip:
2 tbsp tahini paste
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
Sprinkle garlic salt
Himalayan salt to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 180° and cover a baking tray with silver foil (you don’t have to but it keeps you from having to wash the tray!)

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat with the mustard, oil and some salt and pepper.

In another bowl add the breadcrumbs and spices and again some salt and pepper.

Dip each floret into the egg mixture then in the breadcrumb mixture and place on the tray and repeat until you finish them all.

Put in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Take them out about 5 minutes before they’ve finished cooking and sprinkle the parsley over the top.

To make the tahini dip simply mix all the ingredients vigorously, adding more water if it’s too thick, seasoning to taste, and top with olive oil, paprika and parsley.

Love & health,
Lauren

Unicorn Donuts

Well here’s something different! I’ve been obsessed with unicorns since I was a little girl. They were the stuff of fairytales with fairies and pixies and dragons and other such mystical creatures which may have been inspired by a different sort of reality, perhaps other realms? Or perhaps were thought up by wonderful people with extraordinary imaginations. Either way they seem to be all the rage at the moment so here I am jumping on the bandwagon with my healthy version of donuts, unicorn themed!

Ingredients

1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 1.5 tbsp water
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 cup buckwheat flour
½ cup ground almonds
¼ cup almond milk
1 tbsp almond butter
6 tbsp maple syrup

Frosting:
Cream from the top of a can of coconut milk

Food colouring options: beetroot powder, matcha powder, blueberry powder, blackcurrent powder. You can use conventional food colourings if you want but make sure they are natural ones!

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease a donut tin with coconut oil.

First make the flax egg by mixing the ground flaxseed with water and leave to set for 15 minutes.

Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over a gentle heat then add it to a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and mix until incorporated. If too thick add some more almond milk, if too runny add some more ground almonds.

Spoon into the donut tin and smooth down with your fingers.

Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven but check at around 8 minutes. These don’t take long to bake and you don’t want them dry!

While they are cooling make the frosting by adding a spoonful of the coconut cream to a plate, then adding one of the food colourings and mixing lightly, leaving some white showing, then do the same on another plate with another spoon of the cream and another one of the colours, etc, until you have used all 4 colours.

When the donuts are completely cool, remove from the tin and add each of the colours to 1 quarter of the donut and serve immediately.

Love & health,
Lauren

5-Ingredient Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Cups

peanut-butter-cups

I am a peanut butter fanatic and I make no apologies for that – just can’t get enough of the stuff! So growing up, Reeses Pieces would have been my ideal choice of sugary snack but just like with my mini Bounty bites, I wanted to come up with a healthy alternative and these are so unbelievably indulgent but refined sugar free, gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, egg free and vegan.

I actually  made these about 4 years ago for the first time but it was before I had the blog so I never posted a picture and obviously haven’t thought about making them again until now – heaven knows why. But a friend of mine, fashion blogger Sarah from We Are Twinset (check them out here), mentioned them so it gave me the inspiration to make them again.

They seem like they’d be really hard and time-consuming to make but I promise they are so easy! Give them a go, the kids will love them (that’s if you leave any left over for them!)

Ingredients

Chocolate layer:
4 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp cacao butter
3 heaped tbsp. cacao powder
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
Pinch Himalayan salt (optional)

Peanut butter filling:
3 tbsp organic, natural peanut butter
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1-2 tbsp maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it)

Method

Start by making sure you have room in your freezer to place a baking tray flat.

Now line a cupcake baking tray with 12 muffin cases.

Prepare your chocolate layer by melting all the ingredients together in a saucepan over a low heat. The salt is optional so if you aren’t a fan of salted sweet snacks, leave this out.

Once ready, spoon into the muffin cases, reserving half of the mixture for the top layer. Put in the freezer for 20 mins.

At this point, make the peanut butter filling by melting the coconut oil then mixing it in with the peanut butter and maple in a bowl. Mix really well.

img_1382

Take the tray out the freezer and spoon a good dollop of this mixture onto the chocolate bottom layer and put back in the freezer for half a hour.

Once set, add the remainder of the chocolate layer to the top and put back in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Once ready, you can remove the muffin cases if you want to and store them in an airtight container in the fridge (easier to eat that way) or freezer if you want them to keep for longer, you may just have to wait 10 minutes when taking them out for them to soften a little bit.

Love & health,
Lauren

Cacao & Cashew Oaty Bites

cashew-cacao-oaty-bites

I may even go as far as to say that these are the tastiest things I’ve ever made…

I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure if it would even work but oh dear lord they do! So simple; literally took 5 minutes, 1 spoon, 1 saucepan and a cup, and to make it even more exciting, there is no refined sugar, dairy or gluten and totally vegan. It makes giving sweet treats to kids easier. Braxton is 13 months and has never had refined sugar and I want to keep it like that. If he always has treats that taste this good, hopefully he’ll never feel the need to binge on the rubbish stuff 🙂

Cacao is also a great plant-based protein which is essential for babies, as well as the essential fatty acids in the coconut oil.

Basically, MAKE THESE!

I used Biona coconut oil, coconut palm sugar and cashew butter as I prefer their ingredients so use them wherever I can ❤

Ingredients

3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp coconut palm sugar
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp almond milk
1.5 tbsp cacao powder
4 tbsp cashew butter
1 cup organic rolled oats

cashew-cacao-oaty-bites-2

Method

Heat all the ingredients except the cashew butter and oats in a pan, on a low heat, very gently until combined.

Once melted, turn off the heat and stir in the cashew butter and keep stirring until fully incorporated.

Now add the oats and stir until totally mixed into the mixture.

Wait until it’s cooler, then spoon a tbsp. full onto a plate that has baking paper on and press into cookie shapes.

Leave to cool then once cool put in the fridge for an hour until set.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Love and health,
Lauren

 

Roasted Vegetable Pasta (Gluten Free) with RawSpiceBar Chipotle Spice Mix

roasted-veg-pasta

I was recently sent this month’s spice collection by RawSpiceBar. I’d never tried their spice mixes before so thought I’d give this one a go and added their Chipotle Salt spice mix to a roasted vegetable pasta, to make a normal everyday meal a bit more exciting.

It tasted amazing and what I love about it is that all the spices are organic, ethically sourced, sugar-free, gluten-free, paleo and vegan.

If you like flavour but are not too sure how to incorporate it into every day cooking, head over to RawSpiceBar and sign up to their monthly spice box and receive 3 freshly ground, recipe-ready flavour kits, direct to your door each month.

Ingredients

Brown rice pasta (enough for however many people you’re cooking for)
1 courgette
1 red pepper
2 red onions
Extra virgin olive oil
Half a tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 sachet RawSpiceBar Chipotle Salt mix
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Half tsp paprika
Half tsp cumin
Himalayan salt & black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Chop the vegetables and add them to a large bowl and drizzle the olive oil over, then pour the RawSpiceBar mix over and mix well.

Put onto a baking tray and bake for around half an hour.

In a small saucepan add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and cumin and leave on a low light, stirring quite often. Season more as needed. You’ll want to leave this on the heat for about the same amount of time that the vegetables are in the over, around half an hour, so don’t cook the pasta until the end.

When the sauce has thickened and looks ready, boil the pasta as per the packet instructions.

Once ready, drain the pasta in a colander, preserving a smidgen of water back.

Add the tomato sauce to the saucepan and mix well, then add the vegetables and mix.

Serve immediately.

Love & health,
Lauren