Keeping your hair young and vibrant

adolescent girlsOrganic, natural hairdressing is the new way to keep your hair beautiful and natural. Using hair dyes and treatments full of chemicals can lead to damaged wiry hair that no longer looks beautiful as women age. In addition, hair dyes have been cited as a cancer risk with some research showing a slight increase to those exposed to to them, particularly in hairdressers. This is because the chemicals can go through the pores in the scalp and into the bloodstream, and of course they may cause allergic reactions.

So what can you do? Increasingly there are hairdressers that use natural plant-based colour for the hair and other products such as shampoo and conditioner. Some hairdresser chains market themselves as using plant-based products, but actually include ammonia to enable the colour to fix.

Around the country a few organic natural hairdressers have sprung up who do use natural organic herbs, roots and flowers. Popular ingredients are henna, walnut, chamomile, turmeric, hibiscus, rhubarb and indigo.

GA Salons are in (London) Notting Hill, Wimbledon, London Bridge and Chelsea:

The Organic Hairdresser is in Kingston, Surrey:

Celebrate February with celery

celeryFebruary marks the end of the British celery season (although imported celery is, of course, available year round), so grab some while you can, writes Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

Celery is 95% water – and the rest of it is rich in vitamin C, minerals, soluble fibre and anti-inflammatory antioxidant phytochemicals. It’s valued in traditional Chinese medicine for treating high blood pressure. Of course, celery is an ideal healthy snack – portable, crunchy and with a handy groove that you can fill with peanut butter, cream cheese or a dip. Here are a few more ideas for adding more of this low-calorie (10 calories a stick) nutrient-dense vegetable to your 5-a-day (or more!) fruit and veg a day intake.

Classic celery juice

Celery has an alkalising effect so, so look no further for a lovely green juice recipe if you’re interested in this potential health benefit. By the way, I’ve started to add turmeric root alongside ginger root to all my vegetable juices.
Serves one
One cucumber, roughly chopped
Several sticks of celery, chopped
Big bunch spinach
One inch of turmeric root, peeled and chopped
One inch of ginger root, peeled and chopped
Juice all ingredients and drink immediately.

Celery and lentil soup

This main meal soup is a great winter warmer. I got the idea from a talk by Professor Mike Lean of the University of Glasgow about a ‘traditional Scottish’ low-calorie diet consisting of porridge and lentil soup (which he hopes will put type 2 diabetes into remission). You can keep it simple with just celery and lentils, or add any other vegetables you happen to have hanging around (I found a parsnip at the back of the fridge).

Serves four
250g red lentils
One head celery, chopped
One tbsp. dried mixed herbs
One tsp. chilli flakes
One litre of vegetable stock (you can use more, or less, depending on how thick you would like your soup to be)
Tomato puree

Cook the celery with the herbs till soft, then add the lentils and stock. Cook until the lentils are soft, then liquidise and add tomato puree to taste.

Crunchy salad

The point of this salad is to combine celery with some other crunchy ingredients. I was going to add peanuts for even more crunch, but decided to use them in the dressing to give an Oriental kick.

Serves four
Celery sticks, finely chopped
One red pepper, finely chopped
Two carrots, grated
Small white cabbage, grated
One cup of pomegranate seeds
One pineapple, sliced and diced
One tbsp. peanut butter
Flaxseed oil
Soy sauce

Whizz the peanut butter, oil and soy sauce in a food processer to make the dressing. Mix the other ingredients and toss with the dressing.

Next month: Spring forward with greens, turnips and leeks

How to be more tree

COVER How To Be More TreeThis fabulous book identifies trees from around the globe and describes their characteristics in a fascinating way. But what is even more intriguing is the way the author has related the tree’s strengths with those of people adding a pscyhological twist which provides a healthy insight to people.

For example:

  • The Balsam Fir survives the colder north while not dropping its leaves, thereby photosythesising all year round.Its thick, resinous sap stops it from freezing. The message for people and trees is that ‘discomfort can often lead to growth’.
  • the Jarrah in Australia is able to survive even through the dreadful bushfires that are blighting the country. Just below the ground it has a store of nutrients, which can produce another Jarrah tree, so it can sprout new buds.  ‘It’s got something in the bank’ whatever happens.
  • The Olive tree is considered a ‘generous’ tree. Although it struggles through dry, hot climates it manages to produce fruit that provides food, medicine and oil for humans. ‘Giving something away can bring us joy’.
  • The seed of the Banyan tree grows in the cleft of another tree and takes its water and nutrients from its surroundings. Then it lowers it’s roots into the ground from its branches.  The learning from this is, ‘We don’t all have to follow the same path’.

A great read – you can just read one tree a day to get the message.  Go to the Amazon ad on this page to buy How To Be More tree, Essential Life Lessons for Perennial Happiness.



Gaining weight in winter?

Water drinkingThese simple tips from Ayurveda Pura will help keep your waistline healthy.

During the cold season we naturally crave more comforting foods – and often have to deal with the consequences of a few extra pounds of weight as a result. To those looking for easier ways to offset that side-effect, Ayurveda, an ancient Indian holistic system, has some simple but effective tips:

•    Avoid cold, heavy, sweet foods first thing in the morning and after 6pm. Try to eat spicy, bitter food and favour hot spices such as turmeric, fennel and cardamom to help strengthen your metabolism.
•    Hydrate! Drink at least 1.5 litres of room temperature water a day.
•    Drink plenty of ginger and lemon tea, especially after mealtimes to help with digestion.
•    Practise around 40 minutes of yoga daily to tone the body and boost the circulation.
•    Take Triphala (an ayurvedic herb combination) to eliminate toxins and fats from the body.
•    Take 1 tablespoon of Chyawanprash (an ayurvedic food supplement) 2-3 times a day, full of anti-oxidants and Vitamin C.
•    Treat yourself to an Ayurvedic Abdominal Massage, which helps to tone abdominal organs and aides with weight-loss.

By incorporating these few changes into your lifestyle, Ayurveda can greatly improve your overall wellbeing and  state of mind.

The award winning Ayurveda Pura Health and Beauty Spa in London is dedicated to promoting an Ayurvedic lifestyle by offering a wide range of Ayurvedic spa treatments, beauty treatments and Ayurvedic consultations. To find out more visit

December: Some healthy comfort food for the festive season

Cranberries ChristmasHad enough of Christmas food ads already? Let’s plan ahead and make sure to include some healthy home-cooked dishes amid the festive frenzy. I recently had some very delicious mulligatawny soup at a posh Indian restaurant and decided to recreate it (particularly as I’ve just been at a conference where the health benefits of lentil soup were being promoted), writes Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition. At the same restaurant, I had some amazing spiced roast potatoes, so decided to recreate those too, with a healthy twist. And, as always, let’s kick off with a seasonal juice recipe.

Winter boost juice

If you’re partying a lot – be it the office do or a family dinner (or, of course, both), it’s a good idea to juice a lot as well. Fresh cranberries are in the shops now, grapefruit is in season and it’s always good to top up with pure pomegranate juice.

Serves two
Three red grapefruit, peeled and segmented
One carton fresh cranberries
Two inch ginger root, peeled and chopped roughly
Pure pomegranate juice
Juice the grapefruit, cranberries and ginger, pour into two glasses and top up with pomegranate juice.

Swede and Leek Mulligatawny soup

Serves two to three
Parsnips, swedes and turnips are in season and are a great source of fibre, vitamin C and antioxidant phytochemicals, while leeks are prebiotic, which support the health of the gut microbiome.
Half a swede chopped (or substitute turnips, parsnips)
One large leek, chopped
One large onion, finely chopped
100g or so of lentils (reduce or omit for a thinner soup)
Two inch piece of root ginger, grated
Four cloves of garlic, chopped
One tbps. curry powder
500ml (or more to top up) vegetable stock

Tomato puree

Cook the swede, onion, garlic, ginger and leek in coconut oil until soft and add the curry powder and lentils. Cook for a further five minutes, then add the stock. Simmer until everything is soft then add tomato puree to taste, liquidise (add more stock if too thick).

Turmeric and rosemary roasties
Serves two

Serve with a roast/Christmas dinner or in wedges with dips for a buffet.
500g roasting potatoes, whole, halved or cut in wedges
One tbsp. turmeric powder
One tbsp. chopped rosemary
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Boil the potatoes till tender, drain and shake them around a bit in the pan. Heat one tbsp. coconut oil in a saucepan. Toss the potatoes with the turmeric and rosemary in the oil till coated. Cook in a foil lined tray in the oven for 30 minutes or until they’re crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Next time: It’s a citrus New Year…