Bittersweet Fig & Ginger Bliss Balls

Bittersweet fig & ginger bliss balls via Mama Nourish

I don't know about you but sometimes I find straight up sweet treats a bit boring. I mean that doesn't stop me shovelling them in to my mouth at high speed, but they lack a bit of that complex pleasure that I like my snacks to have.

Normally my favourite combination is actually salty and sweet, like salted caramel YUM!  But I also have a taste for the bitter.  This can probably be put down to a practical joke that backfired.

When I was quite small my uncles thought it would be funny to give me a lemon to snack on, expecting the sour face recoil that most kids have when introduced to lemon.  Not so for little(r) me, I ate that lemon with gusto and asked for more.

So I guess in a way I have them to thank for me heading down the path of a broader palate.

If you're not such a fan of the bitter in bittersweet I'd suggest you reduce the lemon substantially or remove it altogether, these will still taste fabulous without it.

This is another super quick and simple snack, so great if you've got sweet cravings and want to stop yourself from snacking on junk.

Bittersweet fig & ginger bliss balls via Mama Nourish

In either your blender or food processor throw all the ingredients.  

Pulse through until the figs are thoroughly broken down and the mixture has clumped together.

Sprinkle some extra cacao powder on a clean surface.

Roll teaspoon sized amounts of the mixture into balls and coat in the cacao.

Enjoy now or place in a sealed container ready for your next snack attack.

Why eat Figs?

Why Figs? via Mama Nourish

But dried figs? Isn't fresh best?

Dried figs are actually a fabulous source of anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. And in fact, dried fruits hold higher concentrations of energy, minerals and vitamins. Making them perfect for when you have that exhaustion based snack craving.

But make sure you buy naturally dried fruits, you don't want drying chemicals in your food!

I can recommend Tabletop Grapes for naturally dried products as it is their passionate mission to provide you with the best quality chemical free fruit there is.

The current stockist list can be found here.

A to Z of Happy & Healthy - E is for Exfoliate

simple natural exfoliation techniques

Did you think E was going to be for Exercise?  I'm afraid not, exercise is a great contributor to being healthy and happy, but I'm not ready to talk about it just yet.  Besides, there's plenty of alphabet yet to discover some lovely ways to get moving!

For now at least I want you to focus on gently nourishing yourself as we work through the A to Z of Healthy and Happy, so this week is all about exfoliation. You know skin care might seem superficial, after all it's about our very surfaces, however many skin care techniques are infused with ritual and wisdom that have been passed down through the ages.

Exfoliation in particular requires you to find a little bubble of space where you are focused mindfully on caring for your body. Gently tending to it and thanking it for all the hard work it does, keeping your mind, spirit and heart going in this busy world.  It's the perfect way to be kind to yourself and you deserve that lovely Mama!

I'm going to take you through four exfoliating techniques so that when it comes to ways to spoil yourself you'll be spoilt for choice!

Dry Brushing

Great for getting your skin vibrating happily in the morning. It's best to use a natural bristle brush and if you have sensitive skin or haven't tried this before, to begin with a soft or medium brush before you move on to a firmer brush.  Dry brushing has it's roots in Ayurvedic wisdom, brushing towards the heart is believed to activate the lymphatic system helping to strengthen your immune system.

As the name suggests this is most effective when the brush and your body are dry, ideally before your morning shower. Begin at your feet using a circular motion, brushing your legs, then hands and arms before moving on to your back and abdomen. 

Take care to avoid any irritated skin, sunburn or scratches and lesions. 

Salt Scrubs

Anyone who has hung around here for a while will probably know that I'm a huge fan of salt, in particular a locally harvested pink salt thats packed with awesome minerals and is super pretty too. Salt scrubs are best for when you have a high level of dead cell build up or for tough areas like feet and as we get older elbows. They are on the more intense end of the exfoliation scale, so use with care and not as often as gentler exfoliation techniques.  

I prefer to prepare my salt scrubs with olive oil rather than coconut oil to allow for more free flowing movement of the salt crystals while I'm scrubbing.  The combinations of scrubs you can prepare are endless, do remember that even with natural products it pays to do your research and make sure the ingredients you choose are right and safe for your skin. 

Salt scrubs are best used when showering or bathing. I recommend popping under the shower to get damp skin first, turning your water off (don't waste that beautiful resource) and in a gentle circular motion, much like dry brushing work over your skin. Take time to focus on drier regions, massaging it in, but don't over scrub as sore skin isn't doing yourself any favours you want to freshen and brighten your skin not damage it. Once you've scrubbed yourself turn the shower back on and rinse the salt away.  I prefer not to use soap to remove the oil as it is a wonderful moisturiser for your new skin, and after the wash the water still beads.*

You can find try my heartsease scrub, which is great for little ones and you.

Sugar Scrubs

Sugar scrubs are the gentler sister of salt scrubs, great for regular maintenance without being too harsh on your skin.  They're easy and cheap to make, ensuring that you can always have one fresh and at hand no matter what your budget is.   Sugar scrubs are where the coconut oil trumps olive oil as a carrier in my opinion. I feel the coconut oil holds the sugar and other additions together better allowing you more time to gently exfoliate than if you used olive oil, I also find it doesn't run off the body as quickly meaning less wastage.  Coconut oil also makes sugar scrubs an ideal candidate for a luxurious soak and scrub in the tub, because it will help avoid the sugar dissolving the second it hits the water.

Fill yourself a lovely warm tub, maybe even treat yourself to some romance with music and candles. Give your skin a five to ten minutes to warm in the calming waters and then gently apply the scrub from to toe top, taking time to soak each scrubbed limb before moving on to the next. Take the kind of time and care you would if you were pampering someone you love, you deserve your own kindness as much as they do.

My current favourite sugar scrub was created by my lovely friend Christie when I fell in love with the idea of a very expensive one, she came up with a beautiful home made version that makes my skin sing.   I never did bother ordering the factory made one, this was too nice!

Washcloth / Facewasher and essential oils

Yes even the humble face-washer can be a wonderful addition to your exfoliation routine.  This one is great for the evening as when done right, that is in peace when little ones are asleep, it is an incredibly calming technique and a great way to scrub away a hard day.

You'll need a sink full of hot water, a few drops of rose hip oil, coconut oil and a clean washcloth (face washer).

Fill the bathroom skin with hot water, add a few drops of rose hip oil.  Soak the cloth in the water and then wring it out. Take care to keep the cloth hot but also not to burn yourself.

While the cloth remains hot gently scrub your skin, ensuring that when it begins to cool you re-submerge it in the water. Your skin may become a little pink and warm, but should not feel burnt. 

Once you have finished gently massage coconut oil in to your skin to revitalise.

Other exfoliating tips and tricks

The best time to exfoliate is morning. Your skin repairs itself during the night making morning the perfect time to buff away those left behind dead skin cells. So pop in to the bathroom ten minutes earlier to kick your day off with silkier skin.

When exfoliating your face don't forget to give your lips a gentle scrub. You can even use a little coconut oil on your clean toothbrush and  give them a nice massaging exfoliation, trust me it's nice.

The story of some boots

When a relationship is new, and things are right, there's that lovely bubbly love. The kind where you really only think about each other and the now. Things stick to the present tense and you may fleetingly fantasise about the future, or ponder your past before this, but you're firmly rooted in the now. New relationships inadvertently breed present people.  

 But when the stars truly line up, being present blossoms into mindfulness.

You both talk visions of the future.  

You still do the fun things, the road trips, the concerts and dinners. But you do them knowing whether you're headed in the same direction, as much as anyone can control that.

In those beautiful early days you might stroll hand in hand into a recycled clothing store, and see a tiny pair of cowboy boots. And even though you've only been together for a matter of weeks, you agree that they need to come home with you both. Ready to wait for little feet to fill them.

The boots come with you in the following years, house to house, waiting. 

Eventually tiny feet arrive for those boots to fill, and those boots don't seem so little anymore. 

So the boots wait a few years more, until the little feet and the boots can wait no longer. Even though the feet are still too small, or the boots too big. She fills them with her joy and her spirit. 

That early presence and mindfulness finding its reward in a pair of scuffed up boots and a beautiful pair of feet to fill them.

Coconut Celery Soup

Coconut Celery Soup via Mama Nourish

I have a bit of a soft spot for soup, it's such an easy thing to make and of course modify so that you don't get sick of the same old same old.  Even better you can put the veggies that aren't at their best in and still get something wonderful to nourish your belly with.

I do struggle though with soups in the warmer weather, I can't say I've ever found the idea of gazpacho appealing.  But I decided before the insanely hot summer beats down on us it was worth taking a shot at turning one of my favourite winter soups into something altogether more summery.  It only took a minor bit of tweaking to get a majorly worth it result.

I normally saut√© or roast veggies for my winter soups with a little olive oil, but to get that smoother, creamier flavour without dairy I decided that I'd experiment with some nuttelex. The veggies go in the pot with this and spend a little time taking up the nuttelex and letting it enrich their flavours.  I then popped some coconut cream in, for that creamy comfort without the belly ache.  The flavour and scent of coconut and ginger in the kitchen really help the summery vibe of this soup.  It's also cooked at a level that hopefully won't add too much to the heat load in the kitchen if you're making it once the weather warms up.  But if you're worried about that the cooking time is short enough that you could put it on once the sun goes down and have your batch complete and popped into the fridge ready for the next day.  

The bonus being that you can even eat this one cold if you like!

Coconut Celery Soup via Mama Nourish

Chop celery, then dice potato, onion and ginger (finely for ginger).

Place all chopped veggies into a large pot over a medium heat with nuttelex.

Cook for ten minutes stirring occasionally so they don't stick to the bottom.

At the end of the ten minutes turn temperature down to low-medium, slowly add coconut cream and warm through.

Add veggie stock a little at a time stirring until all is added.

Allow to simmer for 40 minutes.

Remove from heat, blend and serve.

Why Celery?

Why celery via Mama Nourish

A to Z of Happy & Healthy - D is for Ditch one bad habit

Can you believe we're already four weeks in to the A-Z of Happy and Healthy?  Four weeks of ways to gently improve your health and happiness, I hope you're enjoying it!

Ditch that bad habit

This week I'm asking you to join me in picking one habit or thing that you're ready to let go of and ditch it.  There's no need for it to be a huge undertaking, just one small thing that you want to move away from in your life.

Because when you let the things that aren't working for you go, you make space for positivity to abound.

I think there are very few of us living our lives in the way we truly want and the little things are often what fall to the wayside when life gets hectic.  Choosing one small change can help reverse that tide, making you more mindful of the way you treat yourself.  Clearing the path for more good things in your days, and building your confidence in your ability to restructure your life to make it the one that you really want.

Some change ideas to get you started

  • Hydration. Do you need to improve your water intake?
  • Sleep.  Could you get to bed just a little earlier to increase your energy?
  • Unplug. Could benefit from setting a half hour no tech zone each day?
  • Space. Do you need five minutes spent giving yourself some time to breathe?
  • Move. Could you implement some morning stretches, yoga or a walk to start the day? 

Some tips for making a sustainable change

Define success

In this case take some time out to write what your life will look like once you've removed that negative habit from it.  If you can't see what the end result is, or this makes you feel overly anxious this might not be the right thing to ditch this week.  Make a note of it and come back to it when you're feeling more confident.  But, if you've got the mental picture of how you'll feel and how things will look when you've achieved success pin it up somewhere you can see it to help you stay focused if you feel like giving up.

Try a small goal

Think, having a glass of water as soon as you wake up, or ten minutes of yoga and stretching three times a week.  This isn't the time to be reaching for those lofty New Years Eve goals, but rather taking one small thing and achieving it.  Taking smaller steps that are achievable may feel like going easy, but these small things will have lasting impacts and will build your confidence to tackle those bigger goals when you're ready.

Try, try again

Don't look at any setbacks as an insurmountable failure.  Sometimes we do good for three days and then the fourth the day seems to conspire against us and we're falling back into that habit we're trying to ditch. This doesn't mean you 're a failure, so no beating yourself up about it!

Take a moment to assess the goal, be sure that it is something you truly want to change.  Is it small enough to achieve now or could you break it down to a smaller step?  Do you have someone that can help you stay motivated to follow through with the change? Once you're sure about these things or have made the modifications you need, try again.  Nobody is perfect on their first try, what matters is persistence.

If it gets tough remember, by letting go of the negative you're making space for the positive.

Want to know what I think the number 1 habit we all need to ditch is?  watch this...

Caution: Swears Ahoy

Loving to A-Z of healthy and happy?  Tweet all about it!

Want to start at the beginning of the A - Z of Happy and Healthy?

A is for Air

 B is for Balance, Burnout and Breathe

C is for Clean Out 

Why the highlight reel can be healthy

May your life someday be as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook.

I saw this little gem pop up on social media recently and I thought, ouch!  That's a bit mean.

It's gotten beyond the point where people felt undermined by the social media highlight reel and to the point where it's become accepted that the positive contents of someone's Facebook feed are a constructed reality, and of course it is.

But what if I reminded you all reality is constructed?

After all everything that happens around us and to us is filtered through our own perceptions, it's why so many of us can see the same situation from a totally different perspective.

But the thing about the highlight reel is not to focus on others' highlights through the lenses of jealousy or skepticism. That won't bring you the changes you want in your life or heal the hurts you have, only positive action on your own spirit can do that.

I've seen friends go through some truly traumatic times in the past year, times that I would not wish upon anyone. Yet the ones that have had it the hardest, while not denying their grief and hardships have dug down to find the good, and highlight it.

In the darkest of times the strongest of us see the positive.

I think that the quality these people have that sets them apart is that while they are honest about their loss, they are not coming from a place of lack.  They know themselves well, they know that other people or things cannot mend them or fill those gaps for them.  

If we are loving from a place of lack, no person or event can ever fulfill that great big gaping hole.
— Chelsea Antman

While Chelsea is talking about relationships, her perceptiveness applies so well here.  If we're looking at others highlights and feeling envy, anger or emptiness, we come from a place of lack.  By focusing only on the lack in our lives, we are not showing the gift of life or ourselves any respect.  

Sure it's a fantastic point of growth when you stop comparing and feeling badly about yourself because of someone else's highlight reel.  But the next step in growth is not to drag them down for their positive outlook.  

Steps to highlight reel happiness

If you truly want happiness and growth the next steps are:

Focus on your own highlights, practice gratitude.

Support and congratulate your friends on their highlights.

Use those brief flashes of envy to understand yourself better. Acknowledge the feeling and release it.

Find ways to get those highlights into your life if they are what you really want. Use them as a springboard to leap into action!

The things that we often take for granted, are truly the special memories that we will treasure. So let's celebrate each other's highlights and share them, making our social feeds a place of true community. 

It's time to start promoting your highlights, reframing your world focus back on to the positive.