SHOP – Hedgehog of the North a.k.a Baby Whale UK

“You’re only as old as your spine!”

Traditional Chinese teachings put a lot of emphasis on spine health.   A spine should be strong & stable and there is an acknowledgement that the spine is a whole series of joints and, like all our joints,  should regularly move  – a well used hinge will never rust! 

text neck
text neck

We should gently roll, wave, flex and extend the spine regularly.  The spine is the central highway for not only our blood vessels and nervous system and also the lymphatic system – the bodies waste disposal system so it’s health is so vitally important to us and our wellbeing.

It’s not a coincidence, back illness is highly prevalent in the West, and according to the UK’s Health & Safety executive, there were 3,417,000 working days lost to work related back disorders in 2015/16.   So how can we counter balance all the demands of sitting, driving, texting etc?

With this guy… that’s how!!

 

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The Hedgehog of the North – a revolution in back health

Me and my spine

Despite years of dedicated exercise, yoga and stretching my body was unable to get into any classic backbending postures – positions like wheel and camel.  I found it impossible, not to mention darn frustrating, to watch others get into delicious back-bends and for me not to even get into the starting blocks of this highly therapeutic pose!

But then Stretch Therapy changed all that last year!   The work Kit and Olivia have done exploring ‘passive backbends’ was revolutionary for me!  The idea is simple enough, use a prop to support the body so there’s no physical effort to hold the pose and you can get on with the important job of relaxing and getting comfortable in this new range.   If you’ve ever lent back over something, or some-one, you’ll know how great it feels just to lie and relax as your ribs open and your back softens over the object.  As with everything Kit and Olivia do, it’s the impeccable implementation of the idea and the attention to detail that’s key!

The only trouble is I couldn’t get one in the UK!

At around the time, I was weighing up the environmental impact, not to mention the costs, of shipping one all the way from Australia (where they are made), I had a chance encounter with Stephen – a local craftsman and former professional dancer.

 

Dancers are the athletes of God - Albert Einstein

 

I couldn’t have handpicked a better person for the challenge;  someone who not only understood how the body moved, but who also understood how to shape wood.  If you’ve ever read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance you’ll understand how exciting and rare it is to find someone who has balanced the Romantic notion of nature, freedom, spontaneity and personal expression with the Classical ideas of logic, reason and analytical thinking.  Check out more about Stephen here. 

I got the green light from Kit and Olivia to produce my own UK cousin to their Australian Baby Whale.   Kit is committed to the open source model – his whole stretch therapy system is based on it (Contrast it to the US system of copyright and protection).  Just pause for a moment and think about the level of fearless living it takes to say “Go for it!’ when someone asks to take your idea and run (off) with it!  It’s why I love the ST family and it’s why i love them in particular for creating it.

Anyway that’s my long and very personal story of how this thing came to be…but you’re probably wondering how to use it!

To see more on how to use the baby whale and it’s benefits of the from it’s original founder Kit Laughlin, go here.  I’m currently working on content about the way I use mine too.  (*)

Where can I get one?

I am absolutely delighted to be able to bring to you my version of the Stretch Therapy created ‘Baby Whale’ – ‘The Hedgehog of the North’.  I knew i needed quality – something very strong and stable.  Strong because i needed my back to mould around the piece of and not just squash out of shape as i put my full weight through it.  It needed to be stable because a muscle that is trying to balance is not a muscle that’s about to relax and lengthen anytime soon!

Finally, the angle of the curve is integral to the design – and it’s no coincidence that this curve ratio we used is frequently found in nature – known as the Golden Spiral

Working with our local carpenter Stephen and your specific requests and dimensions of your back, we can create your very own personalised spine stretching device.

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If you’re based in the UK or Europe and would like a stretch needs analysis and to order your very own beautiful ‘hedgehog of the north’ please email me.

Turn around time including consultation which can be via skype is less than 30 days.

(*) As a trained Stretch Therapy teacher, I have permission from Kit and Olivia to share my work with you.

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Everyday is a Jelly and Juice Party!

(c) Food, the forgotten medicine

Ready for the party of your life?  Let’s get our Jelly and Juice on! 

And unlike our five year old selves, we’re not adding ice cream this time!  You’ll see us adults in the health community reaching for our juice and jelly every day.  (*)

We want our to enjoy our nutrients and supplements efficiently and ideally for them to taste great! 

I like to keep things simple so I wanted to share how we enjoy these wonderful supplements in our home everyday so you can too. 

If you’re juicing, try and stick to a green juice as there’s a tonne of sugar in the fruit packed variety and it really is THE best way to get your greens!  I’ve had clients who have never eaten greens instantly love one of my Green smoothies!  

Also, take a look at how much fruit goes into those ‘saintly‘ shop bought varieties of juice/ smoothie – you just couldn’t physically consume that much fruit in one sitting – there’s a reason for that, neither can your body!  #sugaroverload 

Be a mean green juicing machine!

I use my Nutri-bullet but a hand blender will also work well…

Gorgeous Green Juice Formula 

  • X2 cups of washed greens (spinach or kale are great choices)
  • X1 cup of washed & peeled fruit (mixed or single type depending what you fancy) 
  • X 1 cup of filtered water
  • I either throw in a couple of ice cubes or some of my pre prepped frozen fruit straight from the freezer 
  • Sprinkle of maca powder, flax seeds or chia seeds depending what you feel your body needs today!

Blend, enjoy straight away if you can as the nutrients start to disappear even if left even in the fridge. 

Enjoy Anytime Jelly Shots

We LOVE making jelly.  There are so many brilliant health benefits to using gelatin as a supplement.  

How to do it;

  • 1.5 tbsp Great Lakes gelatin per pint of liquid
  • Boil seasonal fruit like pears, oranges, mangos, apples in filtered water – sieve and retain the water for your jelly (we’re using rhubarb grown in the garden at the moment).
  • Quickly whisk the gelatin into the hot fruity water (you can add some of the fruit back in if you like)
  • Pour into bowls, moulds or ice cube trays
  • Pop in the fridge for a couple of hours until set and enjoy!
Nature's candy!!
Nature’s candy!!

If you needed any more convincing to hunt out those fun jelly moulds and rekindle your relationship with the wobbly goodness…here are some health benefits of gelatin..it’s all about the collagen which;

  • Supports skin, hair and nail growth
  • Is excellent for joints and can help joint recovery after exercise
  • Tightens loose skin and improves appearance including cellulite
  • Improves digestion (it naturally binds to liquid and helps move food more easily though the digestive tract).
  • Is a great source of dietary collagen – this is what’s in your face creams ladies!!
  • Contains specific amino acids which can help build muscle.
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Phewf, after all that work there’s just time to collect our goody bag and play sleeping lions! 😉

I’d love you to share your recipes too!  Thanks for reading and have fun!

Manos

(*) As I’ve mentioned fruit is VERY high in sugar so be sure to build it into your macro allowance.

Exclusive Breast Feeding – We did it our way…

“Food, the forgotten medicine” (c) 

REAL FOOD for baby

This is a post about the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.

That said, it’s important to point out that everybodies path is different, we couldn’t quite believe how much pressure you face after you leave the hospital with your bundle of joy.  Mums have it particularly tough of course with the realisation that you’re solely responsible for providing the energy and sustenance to grow an actual human being!   Functioning on very little sleep and bombarded with 24/7 access-all-areas internet and media coverage of how to do the right thing for your child it’s easy to reach overwhelm!

This ridiculous NHS advert is just one example – i can only assume it was conceived by a group of clueless advertising executives – the underlying message is that, not only do we expect you to single-handely breastfeed your child, but we expect you to look glamourous in the process!  (*)

An ill-conceived NHS Advert!
An ill-conceived NHS Advert circa 2010

The book ‘Breast is Best’ was written way back in 1978 and yet the World Health Organisation (WHO), together with UNICEF are still (report February 2015) raising awareness of the benefits of breastmilk as the cornerstone of child nutrition, health and development.

Breastmilk is nature’s perfect food. It is universally available. Its benefits last a lifetime, for mother as well as child…Exclusive breastfeeding – defined as the practice of only giving an infant breast-milk for the first 6 months of life (no other food or water) – has the single largest potential impact on child mortality of any preventive intervention. — WHO (2015)

It’s my personal belief and inline with current Health guidelines in the UK, US and Australia (to name a few) that babies where possible (there are certain clinical reasons where breastfeeding is not an option – HIV or taking certain medications that may be harmful to baby) should be given breast-milk and breast-milk only for the first 6months of life.

“Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby. Exclusive breastfeeding (giving your baby breast milk only) is recommended for around the first six months of your baby’s life” NHS, UK

Introduction of complementary feedings before 6 months of age generally does not increase total caloric intake or rate of growth and only substitutes foods that lack the protective components of human milk. — Roberta J. Cohen et al. 

Our son was exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months of his life, and whilst I would never judge anyone who chooses another route, I am surprised that only 38% of infants aged 0 to 6 months being exclusively breastfed globally.

There is also an incredible amount of pressure to start weaning early for a multitude of bonkers reasons and we faced our fair share! Click here to read results of a survey that demonstrates this.

I am incredibly proud our my partner in her journey through EBF and of our baby who has been just bouncingly happy throughout the process!  Some days she really felt she was in prep to run a marathon and we ensured she had plenty of good fats, protein and fresh vegetables.

We have just started weaning working with real foods and tuning into our sense of what is right for our son Leander, after all ‘every baby is different’.  In my next post I’ll share the start of that journey with you…

You are a brilliant parent and all your baby needs that’s all you need to know!

With love for a BRILLIANT parental journey,

Manos

PS – I offer personalised nutrition plans for nursing mothers and weaning babies.  Please contact me for more information.

(*) It is not my intention to add to the already oppressive message that you MUST breastfeed…but simply advise, best where possible, but if this places mum in an unsustainable and dangerous position then she should certainly not hesitate to examine other options.

Further Reading

Introducing Solid Foods Too Soon

Is baby ready for solids?

Bone Broth-ing with chicken in 5 simple steps

Food, the forgotten medicine (c)

You may have seen more and more articles recently about the benefits of Bone Broth!?  There’s even a cafe serving Bone Broth opened up in New York that’s going down a storm!

Bone Broth plays a huge part in healing our gut thanks to its collagen content.  Another high-value food used by many traditional cultures that’s been somewhat lost in the West, bone broth will improve digestion, allergies, immune & brain health and may even help reduce cellulite AND increase hair growth!

Miraculous!  It’s even been suggested bone broth should be one of the first foods used to wean your baby.

We drink Bone Broth EVERYDAY!

Bone broth helps you grow BIG and strong!!
Bone broth helps you grow BIG and strong!!

Here’s what you need;

  • A slow cooker (ideally, but you could also use a pan and boil on a hob)
  • 2 organic, free range chicken carcasses
  • 1/2 bulb of garlic
  • Vegetables of your choice (I usually throw in an onion & a few root veggies)
  • Salt & Pepper, herbs to taste
  • 2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar (helps break the bones down to release the good stuff!)

 

LOVE your bone broth FATS.  This is a beef stock, you can skim off the fat to use for roasting root veg!
LOVE your bone broth FATS. This is a beef stock, you can skim off the fat to use for roasting root veg!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what to do;

  1. Put all of your ingredients into your slow cooker
  2. Add filtered water; enough to cover the ingredients
  3. Turn to high to get going
  4. Turn to low for 18+ hours (it’s ready when the bones have become soft)
  5. Strain and serve, cool pack and freeze for up to three months or keep in the fridge for up to 1 week and use a base for soups
No waste in our kitchen
No waste in our kitchen

Soaking Almonds in 5 Easy Steps

What you need to know

Almonds contain an enzyme inhibitor in their outer skin that protects the nut until it’s ready to germinate.

Like most nuts this makes them difficult to digest and prevents access to all of the nuts nutrients and vitamins.

Clever early humans learned that they could make nuts more digestible and nutritious by soaking or sprouting.

What you need to do

1. Purchase Raw Organic Almonds (budget permitting)
2. Place Almonds in a large bowl or similar
3. For every 1/2 cup of Almonds add 2 cups of filtered water
4. Soak overnight
5. Rinse, drain, and eat within a few days for best results

Top-tipTry a sip of the acrid brown water after soaking if you really want to know why should soak your nuts – just make sure you have somewhere to spit!

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Homemade RAW milk Kefir in 5 easy steps!

Food, the forgotten medicine (c)

We LOVE Kefir in our house!  In terms of fermented and pro-biotic wonder foods it’s an absolute WINNER with trillions, that’s right trillions of tiny GOOD bacteria to help keep your gut healthy.

Read more on the science and benefits here

Since our son was born, my partner drinks it every day and we’re confident it is strengthening his digestive system through her nursing him.

Little Milk Man
Little Milk Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re planning to offer him some too once he’s old enough!

It’s one of the easiest fermented foods to make (promise) … so much so you can do it in 5 steps…

Here’s what you need…

  • Kefir grains
  • Organic whole or Raw Milk if you can get it from a trusted source.
  • A plastic sieve
  • A glass mason jar
One of my milk Kefir Grains
One of my Kefir Grains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what to do…

Depending on how strong you like the taste of your kefir you can choose how much milk to add to your grains.  I’m currently working with a x5 grains (*) to 1 pint of milk ratio.

  1. Rinse the grains in a little of the milk through your sieve if you’ve been ‘hibernating’ (**) them or they’ve just arrived.
  2. Add your milk to the kefir grains in a mason jar
  3. Take to your nearest warm spot (we use the airing cupboard)
  4. Leave for between 12-18 hours popping the top and shaking once
  5. Open, sieve, chill and serve!

 

If you give it a go I’d love to know how you get on… you can contact me via my facebook page. 

(*) Kefir grains will multiply the more you feed them… you can read more here

(**) You can hibernate your kefir grains in the fridge in a little milk if you need a little holiday from them.

 

 

Fermented Foods, Homemade Kombucha Tea!

Food is the Forgotten Medicine (c)

Fermented foods are an everyday part of my diet…I make homemade sauerkraut, kefir and this kombucha tea drink everyday.  I wanted to share my method with you to hopefully explain in simple terms how to make fermented wonder foods part of your every day!

 

It's ALIVE!
It’s ALIVE!

These additions to a healthy diet can be SO simple to make and blast all your pro-biotic yoghurt based drinks out of the park in terms of GOOD bacteria!

Kombucha Tea Drink

You will need;

  • Bottled mineral water – x 2 litres
  • Organic black loose leaf tea (you can use organic tea bags if you like, must be black) x 4
  • Organic sugar x 1 cup
  • X1 SCOBY (I can give you this if you’re on one of my plans or you can order from a reputable company online)
SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast SORRY Scoobes!
SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast SORRY Scoobes!

 

How to do it;

  1. Boil half the mineral water and add to the sugar and tea in a ceramic bowl to infuse for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the cool mineral water and leave until completely cool.
  3. Strain out the tea or tea bags using a PLASTIC (BPA free) sieve. (Kombucha does’t like metal at any stage of the process).
  4. Add your Kombucha to a clean sterilised jar with your SCOBY. Do not seal completely but drape a clean tea towel or muslin cloth over it to protect from bacteria.  Store in a warm place away from direct sunlight.  Kombucha does not like cold!
  5. Your Kombucha is ready full of probiotics in 5days but in terms of your own personal taste, the longer you leave it the stronger tasting the brew will be! You can keep it on the counter or in the fridge after it’s reached your desired taste.
Your can grab these bottles from IKEA for a couple of quid - great for storing your delicious drink!
Your can grab these bottles from IKEA for a couple of quid – great for storing your delicious drink!

 

The benefits!

The main benefits of this tasty elixir as well as it being JAM PACKED full of ANTIOXIDANTS are vast;

1. It contains TONNES of probiotics

2. It can alkalize the body to balance your internal pH

3. It detoxes the liver

4. It will increase metabolism, improve digestion and keep you regular!

5. It can rebuild connective tissue – help with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism

6. Reduce blood pressure

7. Relieves headaches & migraines

8. Heal eczema – can be applied directly to the skin

9. Help clear up candida, yeast infections & group strep b in pregnancy

10. Help with healthy cell regeneration

 

Have fun real food warriors!!

 

Dairy Free – Almond Milk Recipe

Food is the Forgotten Medicine (c) 

My 28 days later programme involves cutting out dairy completely.  I advocate Almond Milk (*) and homemade is best so here’s a method I’ve found works really well..

 

HOW TO; Make your own dairy free Almond Milk 

soak, drain, whiz, strain and your'e there!
soak, drain, whiz, strain and your’e there!

 You will need;

  • Organic almonds
  • Filtered or bottled water
  • A nut bag/ muslin cloth

How to do it;

  • Pre-soak organic skin on almonds (1 cup) for 12hrs
  • Repeatedly drain and rinse at least 3 times over the 12 hours
  • Blend almonds & 1 cup water (depending how watery/strong you like it) for around 2mins in a food processor
  • Strain through muslin cloth (*)
  • Beautiful homemade Almond Milk is yours!
  • Dry almond pulp in oven  – 10-15 mins at 180’c should do it
  • Almond pulp can be used as a cereal substitute or in baking as an almond flour

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Delicious in chai tea!

(*) if you don’t have time for homemade, always buy the ‘unsweetened’ variety and check the ingredients carefully!

(*) you can buy a special nutbag online if you like.  I use this one!

Fast Forward – one mans 10 day journey without food

Sunday 25 May 2014

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Following my ignoble false-start, I had to pick myself up, dust myself down, and start Day 1 of my 10 day fast with renewed vigour!

The previous 2 days of no dairy, no meat, no processed food, was plain sailing on a sea of steamed vegetables and kale soups.

I start the day as I will do everyday for the next 10days with 500ml of water, 4 tablets of Essential Amino Acids, and 20 tabs of Cracked Cell Chlorella.

‘Essential’ means they can’t be manufactured by the body, – and there’s no calories in them so nothing to digest – so it seems sensible to include a supplement.

2 hours later I’ll have more aminos in the form of spirulina and wheat grass powder which I’ll mix into 500ml of water.

That green drink is accompanied by 15 drops of what tastes like battery acid but which I’m informed is a very concentrated mix of sea and plant minerals – largely magnesium.

Actually I’m informed that it’s ‘Supercharged activated fulvic acid; ocean and plant derived magnesium with over 72 ionic trace minerals’ but I prefer my description!

I do this water/aminos/minerals ritual 3x per day in all, and each night I have a tablespoon of powdered fibre blend – I don’t want the bacteria in my gut going hungry – they haven’t signed up for this!

And finally the cherry on top night-cap -literally- is 2 tablespoons of super concentrated sour/tart cherries in 200ml of water.

There is about 70calories in this powerful hit of antioxidants but I feel important to include for a couple of reasons…

One, the surprising levels of melatonin will give me a good nights sleep each night which may or may not be a factor when trying to sleep on an empty stomach. Two, and perhaps more importantly it will assist with uric acid metabolism – serum uric acid will has been shown to be elevated during prolonged therapeutic fasting.

We’re getting into technical waters but uric acid has a main role of protecting high-oxygen tissues such as the brain from damage (fairly important then!).

Hopefully the nitty-gritty above is useful information for anyone attempting their own fast (although it doesn’t need to be technical, plenty of people do water only fasts), but for me the important thing is remaining mindful over the 10 days.

Mindful of why I’m on this journey of self discovery and mindful of any shifts that may come my way whilst I’m on it.

Invite Yourself to Move with Purpose

Doing stuff in the gym in order to look fit is putting the cart before the horse.

Nothing wrong with wanting a body that looks like it has a purpose but just start with the purpose.

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Purposeful Movement A body built for show will look different to a body built for ‘Go’!

If you didn’t understand any of the above just consider training ‘movements’ not muscle the next time you workout. 🙂