Monday, 19 March 2018

8 Ways to Reduce The Amount of Plastic in Your Home

This post contains some affiliate links. This means that if you decide to click on them and make a purchase, I may, at no extra cost to you, receive a small commission that goes back into to helping me keep the blog going. Thank you for your support. 

You might have seen on the news last week that plastic particles have been found in 90% of bottled water, all over the world. In some cases it was as high as 10,000 plastic pieces per litre of water. The World Health Organisation is launching a health review, people are panicking and most are wondering why it was ever a good idea to invent plastic in the first place.

The problem is, plastic is literally everywhere. 

Photo by Arshad Pooloo on Unsplash

We filter our water in a plastic jug. Our oceans are full of discarded plastic carrier bags, pipes and tubes and old plastic drinking straws, to the detriment of marine life that sometimes think it's a tasty jellyfish or other creature bobbing about in the depths. Our tap water even has plastic in it, just less than bottled water. We wrap our food in plastic and we drink our coffee out of plastic cups. I'm even tapping out these words onto plastic keys. 

Plastic might have once been considered a cheap, durable material, but now I think we're becoming aware of the dangers. Live Science has estimated that humans have so far produced a whopping 9 billion tonnes of plastic. That's a lot. And what about all that waste? Did you know that a standard plastic carrier bag could take up to 1,000 years to decompose completely? And those disposable nappies that you used for your kids when they were babies will still probably be around in landfill for another 400 years? It's just not sustainable. 

And I don't know about you, but the idea that I'm drinking or eating plastic microparticles unnerves me. 

We need to severely reduce - or ideally, stop - our reliance on plastic. It's not good for the environment, it's not good for animals and it's almost certainly not good for us. 

Here are some ways you can reduce the amount of plastics in  your home and do your bit for the environment. 

Buy your fruit and veg at the market, or loose at the supermarket
Buying your fruit and vegetables loose, and packing it in your own hessian or linen bag is cheaper and less wasteful. After all, you only buy and use what you needed in the first place, rather than go for that plastic-wrapped 1kg pack of sweet potatoes when you only need 1. Do this, and you'll be amazed at how much plastic disappears from your home, and ow much money you save, too. Supermarkets prices take into account the cost of the plastic packaging, which is why it's often cheaper to buy the same quantity, but loose.

Be aware of how your food comes
Plastic jars, plastic food wrap, plastic tubs for your salad - before you buy, have a think about the plastic that you're bringing into your home and if you can, opt for brands that wrap their products in biodegradable or fully recyclable materials like paper, or glass. I always now choose olive oil packaged in glass rather than plastic, for example. I think we should go back to the old days where the milkman would collect your old bottles from the doorstep as he placed the new ones. 

Use glass containers for storing food
Last year, I went through all my cupboards and threw away all my plastic, save for a couple of BPA-free lunchbox containers, which I try not to use. I replaced it with these glass containers. They come with plastic lids, but the plastic doesn't really come into contact with the food if it's just sitting in your fridge. The pack I bought comes in different sizes, and they can be used in the fridge, freezer, microwave and the oven without staining or bending. I love them. 

Don't use a plastic coffee cup takeaway
Many coffee shops now are offering you a discount on your cuppa if you bring your own re-useable cup. I keep my bamboo cup in my bag in case I ever go for a hot drink in town, and I take it in the car, filled with a chicory coffee, to my daughter's early morning violin lesson on Saturdays. I have the Twinings bamboo fibre cup but there are lots of different ones out there. And it won't make your drink taste funny like my old plastic cups used to. 

Switch those single use coffee pods
I think whenever you see convenience at its most convenient, that's probably not a good thing. Little portions of coffee packed up in little pods made from plastic or aluminium that you pop into a specially designed coffee maker for your morning drink. I used to have one of these machines years ago, and the rubbish bin was filled up with the plastic pods. There are eco-versions out there that use biodegradable paper. Look for more environmentally friendly ways to brew your coffee, or do it the old fashioned way: coffee stored in a paper bag and brewed on the stove in an aluminium coffee jug

Use less cling film 
Use the containers I mentioned above to store leftover or pre-prepped food. I try and reduce the amount of cling film I use to wrap foods, but I admit it hasn't disappeared completely. For cakes, I place them on a plate and then instead of wrapping it, I lower a glass mixing bowl over the top, to keep it fresh. Use lidded containers rather than food wrap. Or look for paper food wrapping options that can biodegrade. 

Stop using carrier bags
When the UK government brought in the 5p charge for every plastic carrier bag given when you do your shopping, the press was printing photos of people carrying their shopping to the car in their arms, or putting it loose in the car boot. I thought it was great! Most supermarkets now have recycling bins to put your old carrier bags in, so they can be recycled, but still, it's far better to do without them. Supermarkets that deliver to your home via online shopping still dish out bags, but you can sometimes opt not to have them, which means taking the crates to your kitchen and unloading it while the delivery person waits for them back. Think about how you can reduce - or better still - stop your carrier bag usage. I keep a couple of large shopping bags in my car boot. When I unpack the shopping I put them straight back in the car before doing anything else.  

Stop buying plastic water bottles
Plastic bottles of water are so convenient, I know. But consider buying a stainless steel flask - you can buy small ones, these are what my children use for school. My husband takes a small 300ml glass bottle to work, with a smoothie or other cold drink in it. 

And if all else fails... 

Recycle it
If all else fails and you have plastic in your home, put it out for recycling when you're done with it. Most councils now recycle lots of different types of plastic, so it will be turned into new things rather than sitting there in landfill for the next 1,000 years. 

Do you have any tips for reducing plastic levels in your home? Share them with us in the comments below. 

Friday, 16 March 2018

Review of Dirty Genes by Ben Lynch

A look at the book Dirty Genes, which explains how you can treat your illnesses through understanding more about your genetic makeup. One for the science geeks, like me. 

This post contains some affiliate links. This means that if you decide to click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, that helps me keep the blog going. Thanks for your support. 

So, as everyone here knows, I have psoriasis, and have had it most of my life, since I was in my early teens. I'm the only one in my family now that has it, although my Mum reckons it might have been passed down from my Dad's dad (my late grandad), who had it on his arms and elbows. So I've always wondered if it's genetic. 

It was about the time that I received an email asking me if I'd like a review copy of the book Dirty Genes, that I went to visit the Natural History Museum in London, by myself, to go and see the exhibition they have on about Neanderthals and even earlier human evolution. I saw something there that mentioned that modern autoimmune disease is most likely thought to have been accidentally created as a result of Neanderthal and other ancient-human breeding. A chink in the genes, or a biological programming error where two species crossed. And it's multiplied and multiplied and been passed down through tens of thousands of years. Surrounded by all sorts of different shapes of skulls, Cheddar Man and full-size models of what Neanderthals would have really looked like, I was fascinated

Did I want to read a book about health and how our genes could be involved? 

HECK yes. 

First of all, Dirty Genes is written in a down to earth, friendly, chatty way. It seems to give you a lot of scientific knowledge without you really knowing it's going into your brain. I love that. Which of course makes it very readable. I couldn't put it down. 

Also, rather than tell you to go and get your genes tested and come back with the results, it helps you delve into the mysteries of your own genes straight away. You can troubleshoot your own gene health - finding out which genes were already dirty when you were born and which are just acting dirty due to lifestyle. A huge part of the book is taken up with this fact finding, and it's eye opening stuff. Did you know that even your personality can be affected by dirty genes? Amazing! 

One of the great things I took away from reading Dirty Genes is that no matter how dirty your genes actually are, you can clean them up. Factors such as diet, lifestyle, use of plastics, smoking, alcohol, over-eating (yes, seriously) or even the use of fabric conditioner in your washing machine all contribute, Dr Ben Lynch says, to the health of your genes. Those of us with chronic health issues are often told, like I was, that we've just had bad genetic luck, that we'll always have this disease, but it can be managed with prescriptions. The angle of this book is that you have complete control over your health and you can help it by cleaning up your genes. Empowering, definitely.

As well as troubleshooting, there are recipes. You can even select these depending on which genes you've discovered might need cleaning up, a kind of personalised genetic nutrition. 

I've only ever read a few books that I'd describe as life changing, and this is definitely one of them. I've added what I've learned to my arsenal against that last patch of psoriasis that still itches from time to time and it is improving. 

The subtitle of this book is 'A Breakthrough Program to treat the root cause of illness and optimise your health.' Well, you don't get any deeper or 'root cause' than your genes. Makes perfect sense. Definitely recommend you have a read. 

Have you read the book Dirty Genes? Let me know what you thought of it below, in the comments. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

New eBook on AIP Packed Lunches - Let's Do Lunch!

Looking for AIP Packed Lunch inspiration? I'm so happy to launch my new ebook, Let's Do Lunch - a collection of portable packed lunch recipes and tips for nutritious lunchtime meals. 

I like to solve problems. 

It's been 2 years since I finished my last AIP recipe ebook, SPICE. I decided to write that one in response to the cravings I'd had for Chinese takeaway and Indian and Thai curry. I wasn't going to let AIP get in the way of a decent Lamb Dopiaza. No way. 

And then I started noticing that people on group boards and forums were struggling a little bit with what to eat for lunch on AIP. 

Like, breakfast's easy. It's bacon and veg - or soup, or anything leftover heated up from the fridge. The evening meal is easy, too - you have stews, roasts, curries - all sorts. But that in-between part of the day, that's different. Before AIP or paleo, many of us would have just grabbed a sandwich, packet of crisps and a slice of cake from the local supermarket. 

But when you eat with nutrition in mind, it becomes harder to find food to transport to eat later. When I was full AIP, I found this, too. Cafes and sandwich shops, although good options are beginning to appear, are a little far behind for us guys looking for some avocado and salmon salad in a nightshade and pepper-free dressing for lunch. Plus, buying lunches out is expensive. 

A problem. 

So I set to work and wrote an ebook that solves this problem. 

It's called Let's Do Lunch!. 

Not only does it give you 17 recipes, all designed to be prepped in advance and then transported out and about with you, but it also gives tips on how to make a great packed lunch - what you'll need to pack it in, suggestions for alterations if you fancy something different, and advice about prepping the night before. There's also a 28-day plan, so that you can pin it up on your fridge and plan what you're going to eat each day. And I've included an ingredients list for each week, so you can check off what you need for the week against what you already have and then add what you don't have to your shopping list. Brilliant. Saves you time, money and stress. You don't even have to wake up and think about what you're taking to work for lunch. It's all done for you. Most of the time it will be sat there waiting for you in the fridge. What could be better than that? 


Where do I get the ebook? 
Over here, at Gumroad

What can I read it on? 
Any device that can read a pdf. You can also print it out for your own use, if you like. 

What's in it? 
17 recipes that are all fully AIP compliant and allergy-friendly. No soy, gluten, grains, dairy, nuts, nightshades, seeds or eggs. No refined sugar, either. You get a 28-day suggested lunch plan, along with ingredients lists so you know exactly what you'll need each week.  There's also meal prepping tips, a word or two on mindful eating (because lunchtimes aren't JUST about the food) and each recipe comes with step by step instructions and a full colour, droolworthy photograph. All for just around a tenner. Bargain, right? 

Is it all just salads? 
Nope. I think salads are delicious and I eat lots of them. But here I've included AIP sandwiches, food on sticks (everyone loves food on a stick), meals you can reheat if you like (or not) and wraps as well as salads. You won't be surprised, if you know me, to find influences in there from Argentina, India and the Middle East as well as Vietnamese food and Scandinavian inspired dishes. I've tried to keep it creative. You won't eat the same thing two days in a row (unless you want to) and you won't get bored. One of my aims with this ebook was to keep it interesting but also simple. Your workmates might just get jealous.

How much is it?
The ebook is priced at £8.99 (around $12). If you're in Europe, the VAT is added on at check out - if you're elsewhere in the world, the price is converted to your currency before you pay and any taxes for your country, if there are any, are added. 

So how do I order it? 
Download it now, at Gumroad