Holistic Scotland Magazine columnist Leonie Gordon explains how we can set the start of 2019 apart and reset ourselves – from the comfort of our own homes
Are you already secretly dreading New Year and its resolutions, which you know you’ll break within weeks, or even days?
Are you ready for something different – to go deeper and break the cycle?
Towards the end of the year (every year), many of us turn (consciously or subconsciously) to reflecting on the past year’s successes and ‘failures’ and thinking about what we want for the year ahead.
We often use goals and New Year’s ‘resolutions’ to help us get to where we hope to be in the year ahead. And so often we have given up before we even begin.
But it’s time to reset the self-destruct button.
Wouldn’t you love to be able to have some space to retreat and be nurtured at this time of year instead, to allow the dust of 2018 to settle and your real dreams for 2019 to emerge naturally without all the heartache and effort?
And wouldn’t you love to be able to do that from the comfort of your own home with and to start now, with time to reflect on the past year, to let go of the ‘failures’ and celebrate the successes, in an online retreat designed to help you rediscover your energy, happiness and purpose, and to inspire you to shine your own unique light in the world?
Well, here is your chance to retreat in your own home over the next 50 days. Many years ago, I threw out New Year’s resolutions and, instead, started retreating, connecting in and creating my visions for the year ahead. That’s why, for the past five years, I’ve been supporting others to do the same in Aberdeenshire where I live.
So many people have said they would love to join in if only they lived closer to me and so this year I have created an online retreat.
This 50-day online retreat will gather an intimate circle of people who want to dive deep, loosen the grip of self-doubt and conditioning and connect into what they really long for to make 2019 their best year yet.
You will connect to your unique creative life source that fires your hopes and dreams. Our creative flow is not something we can all turn on and off. It is a space within ourselves that we have to connect to and that shows us the path we long to follow.
There is a story about Michelangelo when he was working on David. It’s said he sat in his studio for months looking at the giant piece of marble that would eventually become his masterpiece. After a time, his patrons came to him and said, “We hear you have stopped working!” to which he replied, “I have been working every day.”
We will be gathering, meditating, visioning, dreaming, sharing and nurturing your ability to connect in and provide yourself with space to tap into your natural curiosity and creativity and let your own truth emerge.
It takes disciple to be a free-spirit and truly live your dreams… We will identify those practices that you find inspiring and create new practices to support your unique vision for the year ahead.
If you feel the longing don’t hesitate, the course starts as soon as you jump in.
This World Vegan Month, BetterYou expains how to maintain energy levels on a plant-based diet
According to The Vegan Society, there are currently 600,000 vegans in the UK – equating to 1.16% of the population – with a further 28% identifying as ‘meat reducers’.
As admirable as that may be, following a vegan or plant-based diet can have a significant impact on nutrient levels within the body and increase the likelihood of deficiencies.
More specifically, those following a plant-based diet are more at risk of reduced B12 levels and iron deficiency, says natural health company BetterYou.
Iron is a vital component of haemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to transport it throughout the body. A lack of iron within the body can cause tiredness and fatigue, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.
The most absorbable form of iron, heme iron, is primarily derived from meat products – meaning vegetarians and vegans must find iron from other sources.
Another form of iron, known as nonheme iron, can be found in cereals, beans and some vegetables but, according to BetterYou, this has notoriously poor absorption levels.
“The soaring rise in popularity of vegan and plant-based diets is one of the key factors behind why more and more people are finding themselves nutrient deficient,” says Greg Weatherhead, who is a nutritional expert at BetterYou.
“While it does have its advantages such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, removing food groups from your diet can also remove essential nutrients.”
As with iron, meaningful levels of vitamin B12 are largely found in meat products.
Vitamin B12 helps the body’s ability to reduce the onset of fatigue and increases concentration levels as well as contributing to normal homocysteine metabolism.
B12 is generally not present in plant foods, there are fortified breakfast cereals available, however this vitamin is notoriously difficult to absorb in the gut. At most, only 1 per cent of our dietary intake will be absorbed by the body.
“It can be difficult for those on vegan diets to obtain adequate levels of essential nutrients from natural sources alone, so supplementing is the best way to ensure good health,” says Greg.
To support World Vegan Month, natural health company BetterYou has launched a brand-new Vegan Energy Bundle to help maintain health and contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
The bundle, which is Vegetarian Society and Vegan Approved, contains Iron and Boost B12 Oral Sprays.
Containing 100% vegan friendly formulations, the sprays are specially designed to be absorbed into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system.
An oral spray is an effective and convenient method of supplementation compared to traditional tablets and capsules by elevating nutrient levels and delivering nutrients into the bloodstream via the soft tissue within the mouth avoiding the digestive system.
The Vegan Energy Bundle, including Iron Oral Spray and Boost B12 Oral Spray, is available online at BetterYou.
Chocolate and Love, whose award-winning dark chocolate is organic, Fairtrade and ethically produced, shares its tips for achieving the ultimate chocolate tasting experience
Place a piece of chocolate in the middle of your tongue and allow it to melt slowly. Coat your whole mouth with chocolate so all your taste buds are activated.
If you chew, less flavours will be released. Look for fruitiness, acidity, sweetness or bitterness. Note how the flavour can change during the seconds you’re tasting. There’s a distinct beginning, middle and end. Like a little flavour journey, with different notes emerging at each phase. The texture should be smooth and velvety, not gritty. Fine chocolate has a long and pleasant aftertaste.
There are more than 400 different natural flavour notes in chocolate which become infused in the cacao bean. What do you taste?
Here are some examples:
red berries, black berries, banana, passion fruit, raisin
rose, jasmine, orange flower
pepper, licorice, cinnamon, vanilla
tobacco, tea, cocoa, roasted nuts, caramel
wood, soil, leather, hay
milk, mushrooms, olive, bread, honey
Remember to cleanse your palate with water between tasting different chocolate.
Nutritionist Alix Woods shares five health-boosting benefits of ginger
New research has found that ginger stimulates an enzyme contained in saliva which can break down foul-smelling substances. But that’s not all that’s great about ginger. This ‘superfood’ is associated with a number of health benefits – from promoting fresh breath to better after-taste qualities and much more.
Here are five reasons to include more ginger in your diet:
Anti-nausea support – ginger has long been known to support various digestive symptoms, such as nausea, indigestion and bloating. Studies report that the root eases morning sickness in pregnancy and helps to relieve nausea in general.
Pain relief – ginger has anti-inflammatory properties from ‘gingerols’, the active antioxidants which have been found to reduce arthritic, joint and muscular pain.
Support weight loss – ginger has the ability to burn fat, triggering thermogensis which might be helpful if you’d like to shed a few pounds.
Balance blood sugar – ginger helps regulate insulin and the breakdown of carbohydrates (glucose) and fats, which can help to maintain blood sugar and energy.
Lower cholesterol – studies have shown that by taking 3g of ginger powder daily, LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol and triglycerides were reduced.
Easy ways to consume more ginger
One of the easiest ways to increase your ginger intake immediately is to take a supplement. Here are two which are relatively new to the market:
Sense for Joint & Bone
As well as ginger, this formula contains numerous superfoods, such as rosehips and bananas, which are both said to help prevent joint damage and inflammation. It also contains turmericto help bone healing and formation and offer protection from joint and bone-related disorders.
Liquid Health Digestive Care
This unique combination of ginger, bladderwrack, aloe vera and marine collagen (alongside other powerful ingredients) has been designed to help support the body’s defence and immune systems – and could prevent you from catching that winter cold! Liquid supplements are highly concentrated and often contain more ingredients than if you were to take lots of different pills. The liquid form is easier and quicker to absorb too.
Resident blogger Megan Mclean reflects on beetroot’s magical history
The beetroot, or “beet” as it’s commonly referred to, is actually comprised of two different sections: the taproot which is the main body of the vegetable, and the beet greens which are the colourful leaves shooting out of the top of the taproot.
Both parts of beetroot are edible and offer healing properties when consumed as part of a healthy balanced diet.
For a vegetable of such magnificent ruby red, it’s only fitting that the beetroot has a somewhat magical history. According to ancient Assyrian texts, beetroots were farmed and consumed in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – in 800BC.
The Greeks were also fond of this earthy-flavoured vegetable – even if they did only eat the beet greens. The taproot section wasn’t wasted, however, as it was offered as a gift to the sun god, Apollo; used as a medicinal substance to heal wounds, and even as a laxative.
At this point in time, the beetroot is thought to have been more of a carrot-like shape, the rounded root evolving only after thousands of years of production. Other less whimsical sources state that the beetroot evolved from the wild seabeet off the coasts of India and Britain. These days you can find this love-hate vegetable very easily all over the world, especially in Europe, Scandinavia and Russia.
For those who haven’t yet braved the bold flavours of the beetroot, what does the beet actually taste like? Well, taste varies enormously depending on preparation and cooking method, but the general consensus is that beets have a somewhat earthy or muddy taste about them.
It’s important to point out that this taste isn’t due to actual soil and the flavour will remain as strong as ever however hard you scrub at the surface. This taste is because of an organic compound within the beetroot called geosmin. There are two theories relating to geosmin: 1 – this compound is a by-product of beetroot metabolism, or 2 – it’s synthesised by micro-organisms within the soil, then taken up into the growing beet.
Either way, if the earthy taste and farm-like smell aren’t your cup of tea, try to avoid the peel as this contains six times more geosmin than the beet itself.
What colour are beetroots? Most answers will be somewhere in the ball park of ruby red, perhaps a purple here and there. But, believe it or not, this blanket opinion isn’t true. There’s a whole secret world of varieties out there that UK supermarkets haven’t yet exposed us to. Here are some examples…
The Golden Beet – not quite as sweet as red beets but sometimes favoured because of their weaker, earthy taste and sunny appearance.
The Chioggia Beet – or ‘The Candy Cane Beet’ if we are going by appearance. Slicing into this beetroot reveals beautiful natural stripes inside with orange, yellow or red-white.
The Cylindra Beet – a red-pink colored variety that contains very little fibre, but with a surprisingly sweet taste, comparable to caramel.
So far, the beetroot is ticking boxes for both appearance and taste, so let’s look at the health benefits next:
Beets contain high levels of biologically active compounds called phytochemicals which, in general, have strong evidence supporting their ability to help prevent disease. Eye-related diseases and their prevention using phytochemicals is one area of research that has shown promising results. It has been found that consuming a diet high in phytochemicals can prevent the progression of glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two phytochemicals of particular interest which can be found in abundance in beet greens, just 1 cup (340g) contains approximately 275g of lutein.
But the majority of the population are not consuming enough of these phytochemicals, despite the fact that benefits have been seen from taking just 10mg of lutein and 2mg of zeaxanthin a day and, with no upper toxicity level for either phytochemical, an occasional cup of beet greens will give you a spectacular health kick.
Lowers risk of heart disease
Beets are a fantastic source of anti-inflammatory compounds that work by lowering the bodies level of homocysteine, an amino acid which can cause inflammation that damages our blood vessels and arteries. In particular folate, betaine, isobtanin and vulgaxanthin stand out as having excellent anti-inflammatories properties which could help prevent heart diseases such as atherosclerosis.
Improved blood flow
The production of nitric oxide within our bodies may sound daunting at first, however research shows it has extensive health benefits, and lucky for us its production is triggered every single time you consume a beetroot.
Nitrates within the vegetable are converted to nitric oxide, which itself is a neurotransmitter with the ability to expand blood vessels and thus lower blood pressure.
Nitric oxide has a positive effect on our hearts not just from this drop-in blood pressure, but also from the increased blood flow through expanded blood vessels, potentially reducing the symptoms of clogged arteries, chest pain, angina and coronary heart disease.
Adding to this ever-lasting ode to nitic oxide is the fact that blood flow will not only be increased to the heart, but also to our brains. Studies carried out on older adults investigated the effects of a high-nitrate diet on mental functioning and concluded that there was increased flow of blood to the frontal lobes, meaning that incorporating high nitrate foods (including beets) in a diet may reduce the risk of dementia.
A word of caution
But before you go jazzing up every salad with sliced Chioggia beet or drinking 500mls of beetroot juice on the way to bed every night, it must be advised that you should remain calm after visiting the toilet the next day.
Discoloured urine and stools are an unnegotiable side effect after eating any decent quantity of beetroot and are nothing to worry about at all!
To add to the beetroot’s perfect track record of appearance, taste and health benefits, it’s also immensely versatile and can be eaten raw, cooked, pickled, juiced or as the main ingredient in the Eastern European soup – Borscht.
If boiling your beetroot, it is best to leave the peel on to prevent the loss of nutrients into the cooking water, once boiled the skins should fall away easily and the root can be sliced, pureed or diced. The highly nutritious beet greens can make a wonderful change from spinach when wilted down and eaten as a side.
Here are just a few ideas on how to incorporate beets into your meals and snacks –
Stir fried beet with roasted garlic and sesame oil
Wrap beets in tin foil and roast over heat (perfect for cooking on the campfire!)
Honey roasted beetroot and carrots
Beetroot & mint hummus
This information is all well and good for fresh beetroots pulled straight from the soil and unaltered until reaching our kitchens, but what about pickled beetroot?
Beetroots often don’t stay ripe for long which makes pickling an attractive preservation method for the vegetables shelf life and also many of its health benefits. Pickled beetroots are high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, fibre and are low in fat. Sodium intake must be kept in mind if eating this form of beetroot often, one cup (340g) of pickled beetroot contains more than one third of the recommended daily sodium intake.
So that’s that, a truly magical vegetable with not only the powers to wow a dinner table of guests, but also with the ability to heal the body while enhancing life, without a doubt a food fit for the seven wonders of the world.
“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent, not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious,” – Tom Robbins, author
For more healthy food inspiration from Megan, check out Oats & Ends.