Living a life less toxic…

by Faith Canter

Leave a comment

Seaweed Anyone?

As some of you may know I often talk about how wonderfully good seaweed is for you.  So when one of my lovely local health food stores, Real Foods asked me to write a review about kombu seaweed (of the kelp family of seaweeds) I pretty much jumped for joy! What a wonderful opportunity to share some recipes with you and help others understand why I love the stuff so much! =)

Seaweed is incredibly good for you.  It’s high in nutrients, low in calories, and a great all round food. DSC_0689

Different types of seaweed have different levels of vitamins and minerals.  Most have high levels of easily digestible calcium, iodine, folate, magnesium, vitamins A, C, and B.

Seaweed is also known to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and help cardiovascular problems.  It also balances hormones, supports you through stressful times, helps with energy levels, helps fight cancer, aids weight loss, helps diabetes, prevents Alzheimer’s and is a strong detoxifier.  Another great thing that seaweed does is help the digestibility of foods it’s eaten with, especially grains and pulses.

Seaweed can also be added to most of our day-t0-day meals and is really yummy in salads and, of course, sushi.

So here are my two favourite seaweed recipes, which work great with kombu seaweed.

Miso Soup: 

Makes 2/3 servings


500 ml (17 oz) water

1/2 tablespoon miso soybean paste

2/3 strips of dried kombu

10 small squares of firm tofu


1. Put the water in a saucepan to a boil.

2. Remove from the heat.

3. Remove a little of the water and mix in miso paste and allow to dissolve, then return this to the pan of water.

4. Add the seaweed and tofu and allow to soak for 5 minutes.

5. Return the mixture to a low heat.

6. Stir the soup gently for a few minutes.

You can also add noodles, spinach/or other leafy greens and even things like avocado to this soup.  Really almost anything that’s in your fridge works well with this beautiful, yet basic miso base.

Now serve and enjoy!


Carrot and kelp Stir-fry 

This makes 2 servings


2/s strips of kombu kelp

1 carrot (sometimes I use baby sweetcorn as well)

1 white onion

1/4 teaspoon of chilli pepper

2 teaspoon of sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce (or I use tamari as this is yeast and wheat free)


1. Add the kombu in water until it’s soft.

2. Cut kombu into strips, then do the same with the carrot and baby sweetcorn (if using this).

3. Cut the onion into rings and then half these rings.

4. Pour oil in a frying pan and stir-fry all the other ingredients and cook until tender.

Serve and enjoy as either a main dish (with fried tofu, fish or meat), or as a side dish!

You can see from the above DSC_0689photo I like mine with fried tofu =)

Strips of kombu kelp work well as a pasta substitute in most dishes, so if the above recipes don’t work for you then try it like this in some of your favourite dishes.

Real Foods have a large selection of different seaweeds, but the kombu kelp seaweed and the organic seaweed shaker are my two favourite ones to use as they work so well in so many difference dishes.

Leave a comment

DIY Natural Palm Oil Free Liquid Soap Recipe

This is my favourite DIY natural liquid soap recipe.  Like all my other natural product recipes, it’s palm oil free. If you’re wondering why this is then please take a look at this article – I wrote it some time back, and it should answer all of your questions: Palm oil, the good, the bad and the downright ugly

mason soap jar_1 copy


Double boiler (a saucepan full of water with another smaller saucepan or glass bowl inside it)

Measuring scales

pH strips

Stick/hand blender

Wooden or stainless steal long handled spoon


Protection Equipment: eye protection, apron and gloves (wear these all the time when using potassium hydroxide/lye)

Bucket or saucepan

Airtight storage container (for excess soap for diluting at a later date)


200 g (8 oz) coconut oil

200 g (8 oz) sunflower oil

100 g (4 oz) olive oil

180 g (7 oz) filtered water

108 g (4 oz) potassium hydroxide/lye (always wear protective gear when handling/using this)

10 g (1/3 oz) potassium carbonate

10 g (1/3 oz) of grapeseed oil or vitamin E oil (these act as a preservative)

2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) of a selection of essential oils (I always use tea-tree and lavender oil as they are antibacterial and then usually add another oil, something like chamomile, ylang ylang or a citrus oil).


1. Weigh all the oils (except the essential oils) and put them into a saucepan.

2. Measure out the water needed and add this to the bucket (or another saucepan).

3. Fill the double boiler with water and bring the water to heat.

4. Put on all your protective gear.  Weigh the potassium hydroxide/lye and potassium carbonate and add to the saucepan/bucket that is not on the heat.

5. Melt the oils in the double boiler and remove from the heat when completely melted.  Add the potassium DSC_0625hydroxide/carbonate/water mixture to the melted oil mixture and stir with a long handled spoon.

6. Stir mixture with stick/hand blender until it comes to trace (this is when the stick blender makes patterns in the thicker mixture as it moves through it).

7. Place the mixture back into the double boiler and cover the saucepan with a lid. Stir this mixture every 15 mins. The mixture may look like it’s separating or curdling, but this is fine. Make sure to keep topping up the water as it will evaporate.

8. After 3 hours the mixture is ready to test for a safe pH level (which should be no less than a pH of 7).

9. Now your product is ready to dilute. Weigh 83 g (3 oz) of soap paste and dilute with 166 ml (6 oz) of boiling filtered water and dissolve well. If this does not happen then add back to heat until it does. Then when cooler again add your grapeseed oil/vitamin E oil and essential oils and pour into a 250 ml (8 fl oz) soap dispenser using your funnel.  If you have more than one dispenser to fill then simply double this part of the recipe.

10. Put the remaining soap paste into an airtight container until you wish to refill your soap dispenser(s) again and then repeat the last step (No.9).


Now enjoy your soap!


A Lesson in Losing & Finding my Authentic Self

Things have been a little tricky of late, or should I say my mind has been a little tricky of late!  It occurred to me, late one night (as these things do) that I’d lost sight of that what was genuine and authentic to me.

I’ve now realised I was concentrating more on my goal of finishing my book and becoming an author rather than my journey getting there.

My genuine wish to help people live a less toxic life had become diluted by a need to be ‘followed’, ‘liked’, and ‘shared’ on social networking sites and my need to see the word count on my book going up, even if the quality and meaning of the message was going down.

I started to get increasingly frustrated and feel out of sorts with the whole idea of writing.  The book was becoming a struggle and I kept making excuses not to do any work on it.  But then something happened…

I happened upon the movie (or perhaps it was synchronicity and her little games again) ‘The Shift’ by Wayne Dyer.  Within 5 minutes I was completely transfixed on the movie.  I could tell where it was going and what would happen, but that didn’t matter.  I became completely absorbed by it, it really sang to me and I could feel my authentic self jumping to attention and welcoming me back.


I saw that I’d lost my way, plain and simple.  I realised that all this platform-building, self-pressure and self-criticism just wasn’t working within my own values.  I’d lost the authentic me, but now I could see clearly again and my head was beginning to buzz with values, dreams, ideas, plans, changes and love for my journey once more.

Nothing had really changed in the greater scheme of things.  I’d just listened to myself again, stopped creating negative barriers, given up the internal fight, and remembered why I started along this path.  All this from one movie, at the right time and hitting the right notes made one large and much needed shift happen within me!

I am genuinely looking forward to putting finger to keyboard now and am positive I shall be losing myself in the creative process of writing my book again.  I have underlined my values, will enjoy the journey and stay authentic to myself and why I started this process and if I start to lose sight of the path again I will remember this lesson and re-assess if what I am doing is authentic to me and if not, why not and how will I change it so it is!

If you’re struggling with anything at the moment, maybe you should take a minute to decide if what you’re doing feels genuine to your values, hopes and beliefs and if not then ask yourself what you can do to change it.  Things will become easier, you won’t be fighting against your inner self and you’ll enjoy the process again.

Note to self: Remember this lesson! =) 


1 Comment

Eco Soy Teacup Candle Recipe

As you may know, most normal candles are made of paraffin.   They also contain concoctions of chemicals to dye and scent the candles.  These ingredients are not only harmful to the environment, but also to our health.  So here is a simple, easy, and cheap way to make your own eco soy tea-cup candles instead.


You will need:

Measuring scales

Double boiler (glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water)

Teacups (I buy mine from charity shops)



400 grams of eco soy wax container wax (to make two large or 3 standard sized tea-cups)

½ teaspoon of benzoin (fixative)

Eco wicks (wicks that are made with soy wax)

Long pencils (enough for one per cup)

70 drops of a choice of essential oils


1. Melt your wax in the double boiler. 20131118_135026

2. Once wax has cooled down enough to be able to touch the side of the jar/bowl you melted the wax in (but not enough to start hardening) add essential oils and benzoin.

3. Dip the metal base of the wick into the wax and then press into place in the middle of the teacup and hold until it’s stuck.

4. Wrap excess wick around pencil and lay pencil over the top of the teacup.

5. Pour in melted wax and allow to set fully (at least 4 hours, but longer in a hot environment).



Enjoy your candles!

You can purchase wax and wicks from any of the following: (check with individual suppliers for eco-friendliness)

Make sure to check with any other suppliers that there wax is GMO free as a lot of soy products out there aren’t.


Leave a comment

DIY Natural & Palm Oil Free Soap Recipe

This is my favourite DIY natural soap recipe.  Like all my other natural product recipes, it’s palm oil free.  If you’re wondering why this is then please take a look at this article – I wrote it some time back, and it should answer all of your questions: Palm oil, the good, the bad and the downright ugly


Here’s what you need:

Two large saucepans (or one saucepan and one bucket)

Rubber gloves, eye protection and a thick apron

A stick/hand blender

A couple of wooden spoons (or stainless steel are fine, as long as they are long handled)

Measuring scales

Soap or baking moulds

A sharp knife

*Note: Do not use any items that touch the lye, for anything else other than soap making. 


500 g (20 oz) coconut oil

150 g (6 oz) shea butter (I love this butter!)

350 g (14 oz) olive oil

330 g (13 oz) filtered water

154 g (6 oz) sodium hydroxide (lye) – Never touch this without protective gear on! 

3 medium figs (or at Christmas I’ve used cranberries and cinnamon essential oil)

15 ml (1 tbs) honey

5 ml (1 tsp) grape-seed oil or vitamin E oil

15 ml (3 tsp) of a selection of essential oils (I like ylang ylang, frankincense and jasmine – but this is completely up to you).


1. Weigh out all the oils to add to one of your large saucepans (or your bucket). The grape-seed oil/vitamin E Oil and essential oils should not be included at this stage.

2. Add olive oil and coconut oil as they are but as you add the shea butter cut it up into small pieces (so it melts easier when the lye is added later on). 1394142_10151681717506956_926786555_n

3. Put on all your protective gear (apron, gloves and eye protection).

4. Measure out your water and add to the saucepan you’re not using yet.

5. Then measure out your sodium hydroxide (lye) and add to the water.  Make sure you do this in a very well ventilated area!

6. Stir the water and lLye mixture with a wooden spoon until the lye has completely dissolved.

7. Cut the stem off the figs and cut into quarters and liquidise with your stick blender.

8. Add the figs and the honey to the lye and water mixture and stir until dissolved.


9. Add the lye, water, honey and fig mixture to your oil mixture in the other saucepan and stir with your wooden long handled spoon until all the oils have melted completely.

10. Once there are no lumps of oil left begin to mix the mixture with your stick blender until it comes to trace (this means the stick blender leaves patterns in the mixture when moved around in it).


11. Add the grape-seed/vitamin E oil and your choice of essential oils at this stage and stir through mixture.

12. Put your moulds (for making up to 1.5 kg (3 lb) of product) onto a tray (so they are easily moved to a safe place later to cure).

13. Pour the mixture into moulds and move to a safe place.  Remember at this stage you should still be careful not to touch the mixture yourself as the pH level of the soap mixture will be highly acidic.


14. Allow the soap mixture to set for at least 48 hours (in some cases a day or two longer), until set but still a little soft.

15. Wearing gloves take the soap mixture out of the moulds.  If you used a large soap mould then cut your soap up into individual portions at this stage.

16. Now leave the soaps for a further 6 weeks to cure. Do not use them before this time without performing a pH test on them to check they are now safe to use.


Now Enjoy! 


Self Love Starts Today!

So today is Valentine’s day and, as with most Valentines day’s, everyone is out to show the people they love how much they really care about them.  But what about you?

How do you feel about yourself and how much of a hard time do you give yourself on a day to day basis?  You’re just as important as everyone else – more so, actually!

If you don’t look after yourself, how on earth are you going to look after everyone else?

How many times have you called yourself stupid, forgetful, fat, thin, thick or any other negative comments?  If you’re anything like I was, then you’ve done this a whole heap of times – not just now and again, but continually, throughout the day!

I’m guessing if you’re still doing this then you don’t know that this negative way of thinking about yourself does more than just make you more miserable and more self-hating?  Well it does.  It not only reinforces a negative habit within us but it also becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy! There is a chemical, and then physical reaction within our bodies every time we talk about ourselves in a negative way.

In Bruce Lipton’s book ‘The Biology of Belief’ he explains the exact science behind how this works, how it affects our cells and the way they behave and work in our body. This also creates and reinforces the neurological pathways within the brain, making it easier each time to think like this and create chemical reactions within the body which believe it or not, can actually make us fat, thin, bald, old etc.  What you believe really is what you become!

Have you seen articles about elderly runners completing marathons?  Or stories of terminal cancer patients defying all the odds?  These aren’t just miracles, or people getting lucky.  These are people actually believing in themselves, their lives, then their brain chemistry, their cellular community and their body following suit. In his book ‘It’s The Thought That Counts’, David Hamilton PhD explains how our body is hard-wired to feel every emotion we think and feel, how these emotions affect our overall health and how making small changes to how we feel about every day things can have a deep impact on illness, disease and pain.

You really are the master of your own destiny!

The relationship you have with yourself is the only one you have for your whole life, so why make it a miserable one?


Admittedly some of us need a little help along the way to make us feel good about ourselves.  But feeling good never comes from external influences.  It’s not the new clothes, the new man, the new job, the new home or even the new diet.  Whilst all these things may seem to help initially, they don’t last, not in the long run.  The only way to see permanent and authentic results is to be kind, nurturing, accepting and loving to ourselves.

If I asked you to list all the things you didn’t like about yourself then I’m sure you’d have a pre-prepared list, running on a loop in your head.  But what if I was to ask you what you liked about yourself?  Then what?  Can you think of anything?  If you have a deep negativity about yourself you may find it a little harder to come up with some ideas.  You may even say things like ‘there’s nothing I like about myself’.  Well I’m here to tell you that, that’s just not true (please don’t run away right now)! 

Do you like your toes?  If not, how about you ankles, elbow, eyes, eyelashes, eyebrows, lips, ears, hair, hands, arms or your bum?  I bet you like at least one of them, don’t you?  How about your ability to listen to others? Care for others? The love you have for your family?  You’re good with numbers/figures?  You have a good eye for detail?  You’re passionate?  A good cook? You work hard? You may feel people use you, but doesn’t that mean you’re a good, caring and loving person if people look to you for that support?

Start focusing on, and making lists about the things you’re good or even great at, and start focusing on these instead of what you perceive to be your negative traits.

Once you have started with the small things start making the list bigger, bolder and picking bigger and more important things about yourself. Underline things you’re really good at or that you really like about yourself, highlighting these for yourself.

Once you’ve done this, give these items more importance in your mind by renaming them with bolder titles.  If you like your lips, call them your ‘luscious lips’.  If you are good at quizzes then call yourself a ‘quiz master’.  If you are a great cook then call yourself a ‘master chef!’.  You may feel a little silly when you do this, but keep going, I bet you can’t help but smile at some of the things you write down.  They will make you happy and will help you to honestly see that there are many, very strong, powerful and positive things about yourself that you do actually like.

Keep this list with you at all times, add to the list  and read it when you’re feeling low and negative about yourself  – it will make you smile!

Remember that it pays to be kind to yourself. What I mean by this, is that you have to be very careful about the way you speak to, yourself – AND about yourself! So rather than telling yourself off all the time, tell yourself good things instead. Praise yourself for little things.  Keep a list of the things you’ve achieved each day, week, month and year, for those days when you are in a ‘I haven’t achieved anything mood’.  Rather than telling yourself off when you feel you’ve messed up why not show yourself the same kindness you would to someone else in the same situation.  The way you feel about yourself and your life will really start to change when you SHIFT YOUR FOCUS!

If you can start to love yourself like you love others, amazing things can happen, new chemical reactions happen throughout the body from these new habits.  

You’ve spent a lifetime loving everyone else, give yourself some of that love today!


Self Love Starts Today! 


What’s All This Meditation About?

As I recently attended another mindfulness weekend, I thought this would be the perfect time to write a blog about meditation and mindfulness and the positive impact introducing something so simple can have on your mental and physical health and well-being. 

I know many people will think that living a less toxic life is all about what we are putting into our bodies and bringing into our homes and not anything to do with what’s going on in our own heads.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our minds are amazing complicated computers and we don’t give them enough credit for what they do for us, instead we often do the complete opposite and put them under immense and continued pressure.  We also allow our minds to run away with themselves, generating problems, plans, concepts, running over old ground (again and again) and worrying about the future and what could and will most likely not be!

Some of the reason we think like this is because our minds are still pre-programmed with the fight or flight response from many, many generations ago.  This is the response animals have to danger.  As soon as they think they notice something they instantly go into this fight or flight response. This response gives them a surge of adrenaline to be able to run or fight their potential attacker.  We humans still have this response within us.  However, these days we don’t need to run or fight a dinosaur or buffalo, or whatever potential life threatening encounter we could come across.  No – these days our fight or flight response kicks in when we are under stress of other kinds.  This could be due to work commitments, family issues, relationships, health concerns, or concerns for loved ones, or with most of us, all of the above!

It’s normal to worry, dwell and plan, that’s part of what makes us human.  However, the constant worrying, dwelling and planning, that’s where the problem comes, that’s when our mind and body start to think we are in the fight or flight response; that’s when the body starts to produce more adrenaline.  Adrenaline and cortisol (our steroid-like hormone that the adrenal glands produce when they believe we require this additional help) hamper your sleep; make you feel edgy, stressed and unable to deal with normal day-to-day things.  The longer this goes on the longer the body feels it’s under attack, continuing to try to support you with more hormones, which produce greater amount of health issues and concerns, including thyroid issues, fatigue, weigh gain, hair loss, emotional instability and many others.  You may or may not recognise some of this by now, but this is what we generally refer to as stress!

So how do we bring these stress levels down, how to we get off the the stress and anxiety merry-go-round?  Well first step is to reduce the things, people and events in our lives that make us stressed.  I know this is easier said than done, so if we can’t do this, or this simply isn’t enough then we need to learn new ways of dealing with life’s little hiccups.  Reducing our reaction to events, giving the body some down time to heal and living more in the ‘now’ are all amazing tools for this and are all incorporated in meditation and mindfulness.

I found this quote among my mindfulness training paperwork (from the Mindfulness Association) that beautifully explains what meditation is really all about:

Mindfulness analogy of undercurrent and observer:

A useful analogy for explaining the undercurrent and observer is someone sitting on the bank of a river and watching the water flow by. The river is like the undercurrent and the observer is the one who sits on the bank. Sometimes the river is turbulent and other times it flows smoothly; sometimes it washes logs and debris downstream, whilst other times the water is clear and translucent. Our minds are like this. The key instruction in mindfulness practice is to remain sitting on the bank of the river, watching the changing flow. The various mindfulness methods are ways of assisting us in remaining grounded in this observing mode and staying on the bank. When we become distracted and involved with what is flowing by it is like jumping into river and being carried along in its flow, sometimes tumbling over waterfalls, other times caught amongst the swirling debris, while other times basking in a still, clear pool. The key point is that we are caught in the flow and vulnerable to where it takes us, sometimes in a desirable direction, while other times in the direction of confusion and suffering. What pulls us into the river are the likes and dislikes of the observer – the one sitting on the bank. We like some things and grasp at them and we dislike other things and push them away. Either way we fall in.

You can learn to be the observer with regular meditation practice and learn to live more in the ‘now’ when you become more mindful of your thoughts and your daily activities.

I would recommend if you’re new to all this that you start with guided meditations (this involves listening to someone guide you through a meditation/visualisation and keeps you from becoming to distracted) until you become confident in this and feel you can move on to the non-guided sort.

When we put on a guided mediation recording (or for more advanced people do silent meditations) we bring our mind into the ‘now’.  We stop (during this time) focussing on the past, the future, the worries, the plans and the plots.  Instead we focus on whatever the meditation is about/is using as a means to be in ‘the now’.  This might be our breath, our body, a candle, a mantra, a beautiful scene or a relaxing situation.  In this time our mind stops being busy, becomes quiet, rests and recuperates.  This is turn reduces the production in the fight or flight hormones and our anxiety and stress levels begin to subside.

If you mediate daily and become more mindful then you give your mind and body the time to heal itself from the stress cycle it may have got itself into and the benefits of this can be huge.  These are some of them:

  1. Reduces stress, anxiety and panic attacks
  2. Enhances the immune system
  3. Increases blood flow through the body
  4. Reduces blood pressure
  5. Reduces headaches and migraines
  6. Increases mental clarity
  7. Increases stamina
  8. Balances hormones
  9. Improves the flow of air in the lungs
  10. Reduces insomnia
  11. Helps you feel grounded
  12. Reduces aggression
  13. Helps with addictions
  14. Reduces pain in the body
  15. Releases tension through the body

Here’s a short meditation transcript for beginners.  

Find a comfortable position, like sitting upright in a chair or on  a meditation stool, but make sure it is one in which you will not fall asleep.

Close your eyes.

Relax your muscles, making sure your facial, neck, shoulders and back muscles are all relaxed and you are well supported by the position you’re in.

Notice your breathing, how your breath flows in and out.

Make no effort to change your breathing in any way, simply notice how your body breathes.

When your attention wanders (as it will), just focus again on your breathing.

Do not give yourself a hard time for your mind wandering, simply recognise it has and return to the breath.

See how your breath continues to flow in and out, deeply and calmly.

Feel the air entering through your nose and filling your whole body with beautiful healing light and energy.  Then notice the slight pause before it begins to leave your body through the pursed lips of your mouth and again notice a slight pause before the cycle begins once more.

Feel your chest and stomach gently rise and fall with each breath.

Notice how cleansing each breath feels within your body and appreciate this gift you are giving to yourself.

See how calm and gentle your breathing is, and how relaxed your body feels.

Now notice the sounds around you, start with the sounds outside, then bring this attention to the sounds in the room and lastly to the sounds of your own body.

 Feel the chair or floor beneath you, how your body touches this and where.

Feel your clothes against your body.

Move your fingers and toes.

Roll your shoulders.

Open your eyes, and remain sitting for a few moments longer.

Then stretch your arms and legs gently.

Sit for a few more moments, enjoying how relaxed you feel, and thank yourself for this gift you have given yourself and now go about your normal day knowing you have done something fundamentally good for yourself today!

Meditation_January by_Goro79

What exactly is mindfulness?

Well, simply put it’s being more mindful in your day-to-day activities (as well as during meditations).  This means bringing your mind into the now rather than in the past or future.  Often during the course of our day we either knowingly or unknowingly slip into this loop of thinking/overplaying about past events and future worries and concerns.  This helps to keep us in the stress/fight or flight cycle.  With mindfulness we learn to be more present in the moment.

So this is how it works:

When you’re washing the dishes (or any other normal day-to-day activity), rather than focusing on what to make for tonight’s dinner or an upsetting conversation you had last week, you instead focus on the feeling of the water on your hands, what it looks like, how it comes out the tap, how amazing and actually beautiful the whole experience is.  Really try to notice everything about the experience, be completely absorbed by the moment and really take it all on board.  When I have finished my mindful practice I like to take a deep breath and appreciate the moment once more before moving on with the rest of my day.

You can do this for just about anything and as many times during the day as you like. It’s teaching (and forming new habits) your mind to be more in the ‘now’ and this way it reduces the stresses an anxieties about living in the past or future, reducing the fight or flight response within the body and having the added benefit of making you appreciate how amazing these simple things we do every single day really are.

Try walking mindfully, noticing nature, life and people around you.  See how you get on, it’s an amazing way to start to really notice this beautiful world, it opens your eyes up to things you’d usually walk straight past or wouldn’t give a second glance to, it helps you lose the blinkers! 

There are a huge amount of guided meditations online.  If you don’t have much time or money then just download a free 3 min meditation and use it once or twice a day or try being mindful in some of your daily activities.  Even very short meditations  and periods of mindfulness make a difference to your stress and anxiety levels and thus have a positive impact on overall health, both physically and mentally.


Why not give it a go, what have you got to loose?