Calcium – Are you getting enough?

We often get asked about calcium requirements on a plant-based diet, so we thought we would dedicate a blog post to this incredible mineral ✨

In this post we cover… 

  • Why calcium is important for the human body; 
  • The recommended daily intake of calcium; 
  • Where we get calcium from on a plant-based diet; 
  • The most calcium-rich plant foods; 
  • Factors causing calcium loss or malabsorption

We also detail two days of Sharon’s eats to demonstrate how she hits her daily recommended intake of calcium ✨

Why is calcium important?

Continue reading “Calcium – Are you getting enough?”

Viridian Vegan EPA & DHA Oil Review & Giveaway

I’ve been on the hunt for a vegan EPA/DHA supplement that contains quality ingredients, no ‘nasties’ and, equally importantly, tastes palatable! Well I’m pleased to say that the search is finally over. And here is the winning product…. Viridian Vegan EPA & DHA Oil 💚

In today’s post, I thought I’d share some details about this product, as well as a few words on why my family chooses to take an EPA/DHA supplement. I’m also launching a fantastic giveaway open to UK readers, so be sure to read on.

Continue reading “Viridian Vegan EPA & DHA Oil Review & Giveaway”

Useful Supplements for Vegans… and Everyone Else!

In this month’s issue of Vegan Life magazine, there was a useful guide to supplements for vegans. This is something that I looked into myself last year as I wanted to make sure the family was getting all the nutrients needed for tip-top health and not lacking anything vital.

Vegan Life Issue 3

While a varied, balanced vegan diet can meet all nutrients needs (with the exception of vitamin B12), as mentioned in The Vegan Life article, there are four key nutrients to consider supplementing, and these are vitamins B12 and D, iodine and omega 3 essential fatty acids.

However, it’s worth noting that it’s not vegans exclusively that would benefit from taking these supplements. As we get older, our ability to absorb B12 from foods diminishes, so anyone over 50 years old is advised to consume fortified foods and/or take a B12 supplement. The UK government’s health advisers are also proposing that millions of people should be offered free vitamin D supplements as it’s estimated that one in five adults in the UK is at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Worldwide, iodine deficiency has become a major health problem too. To reduce the risk amongst their own populations, countries such as the USA, India, Denmark and Switzerland fortify table salt with iodine (‘iodized salt’). And when it comes to essential fatty acids, people are generally getting too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3.

Let food be thy medicineMy number one choice for nutrient intake will always be food. However, for these key nutrients – vitamins B12 and D, iodine, omega 3 (especially EPA & DHA) – I’ve decided to take a ‘belt and braces’ approach for now and use supplements to top up our levels, as and when needed.

Here’s how my family currently accesses these four nutrients…

Vitamin B12
Foods – fortified non dairy milks, non dairy yogurts, nutritional yeast flakes, breakfast cereals
SupplementSOLGAR Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) 1000mg Sublingual Nuggets

Vitamin D
Food – fortified non dairy milks, non dairy yogurts, breakfast cereals
Summer months – lots of time spent outdoors in T-shirts & vest tops
SupplementViridian Liquid Vitamin D drops which have a nice, fruity flavour (we squirt it straight into our mouths or into smoothies/yogurt).

Foodiodised salt (from Sainsburys); seaweed (Clearspring Nori Sprinkle is a favourite) UPDATE 2017 – we also love making vegan sushi rolls with nori sheets – another great source of iodine!

Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids
Food – walnuts, ground linseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, greens
Supplements – Since it’s not known how well the body converts the omega 3 in walnuts and seeds from ALA into DHA, I also like to give the family a supplement which includes DHA (derived from marine algae). Our current favourite is  Viridian Vegan EPA & DHA – a lovely orange-tasting liquid that we squirt on smoothies, yogurts or straight into our mouths!

In addition to these four, I also think it’s important to pay attention to Iron and ensure that we eat lots of iron-rich meals. Worldwide, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder and affects a staggering 2 billion people.

Vegan for Life has a useful section on iron, which includes the levels needed by gender and age, ways to enhance iron absorption, and a list of foods and their iron content. I also love this infographic by Vegans of Instagram


Iron Rich Plant Sources


While the recommended intake for men and post menopausal women is 8mg (which is pretty easy to achieve on a well-balanced varied diet), for menstruating women it’s 18mg – more than double! Considering ½ cup beans and ½ cup cooked greens each contain around 2mg, it can be quite a challenge to reach the 18 mg RDA. And that’s before we even take account of the fact that certain minerals (especially calcium), and beverages such as coffee and tea inhibit the absorption of iron. I’ve had my iron levels checked twice in the past couple of years and both times they’ve been low. Not anaemic low, but lower than optimal.

A few months ago I decided to top up my iron intake during the ‘time of the month’ with an iron supplement. I’ve been taking Viridian Balanced Iron Complex, which contains iron bisglycinate, a form of iron that is gentler on the digestive system than ferrous sulphate. I’ve had no stomach issues at all taking this supplement. As an added bonus, the supplement contains B12, magnesium, folic acid and vitamin C.

For years, I was ‘anti supplements’ but now I understand that they do have their place… just as long as we see them as a ‘supplement’ rather than a substitute for healthy eating 😉

What’s your stance on supplements? Do you take any yourself?






Coconut Chocolate Bark with Goji Berries and Pecans

My love affair with the little goji berry is still going strong I adore their sweet/salty flavour and vibrant colour. I eat gojis every day, sprinkled on my porridge, muesli, yoghurts and chocolate chia puddings. And, as you may have seen already, they’re my favourite ingredient to add to home-made chocolates.

Goji Berries

And did you know, goji berries are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet? They are a complete protein, contain 11 essential vitamins, 22 trace minerals, and are packed with antioxidants, including flavonoids, polyphenols, carotenoids and vitamins C, E and A. They contain more vitamin C than oranges, more betacarotene than carrots and more iron than spinach. No wonder the goji berry is referred to as the ‘fruit of longevity and well-being‘!

Of course, in the East, they’ve known about the health benefits of goji berries for thousands of years. We’ve been a bit slower to catch on in the West, but we’re finally getting there 😉

Recently, nu3 invited me to take part in blogger challenge to create a recipe using their goji berries. Of course, I was more than happy to accept! I started to think of all kinds of weird and wonderful creations, but M suggested that I should keep it simple and rather than creating something new, I should share one of our family favourites.

And heeding his advice, this is what I’ve chosen to do. My entry for the Nu3 challenge is a simple home-made chocolate bark. M and Lil’ L mentioned to me the other day that this could actually be their favourite chocolate ever! Now that is a statement!

Coconut Chocolate Bark with Goji Berries and Pecans

I make this chocolate using virgin coconut oil (instead of cocoa butter), which gives it a gentle hint of coconut flavour and a glorious ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ sensation. It also features two of my favourite ingredients – goji berries and pecans – which add extra dimensions of flavour, texture and nutrients.


This chocolate is incredibly easy to make. No expertise required! You simply melt the coconut oil, stir in the remaining ingredients, and pour them into a container. I line the container with cling film, which makes it really easy to lift out. Sometimes I toast the pecans prior to chopping them but this isn’t an essential step.

Coconut Chocolate Bar Making

The chocolate is then placed in the freezer until set and voila, you have your own scrumptious chocolate bark And you can feel very proud that you made it yourself, from scratch 😀

Coconut Chocolate Bark with Goji Berries and Pecans

It is up to you how you choose to break up the chocolate. You can either go for the rustic look and chop it into shards, or go for more uniform squares.

Store and serve the chocolates straight from the fridge and freezer, as coconut oil goes soft and melty at room temperature. In an airtight container, they will keep for weeks, but I somehow doubt they’ll last that long 😉

[print_this]Makes around 20 chocolates
Hands-on time: 20 minutes    Setting time: 1 hour  

70g / 2½ oz / 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
58g / 2 oz / ½ cup cocoa powder (or cacao powder)
2½-3 TBSP Sweet Freedom fruit syrup (or agave nectar)
2½ TBSP goji berries, divided
58g / 2 oz / ½ cup pecans (raw or lightly toasted)

You will also need: medium-size saucepan, heat-proof bowl, whisk, container about 20cm x 9cm / 8” x 3½” (I use my smallest bread pan or a plastic container), cling film (plastic wrap)


Line a container with cling film, leaving sufficient hanging over the edges so you can lift out the chocolate.

Roughly chop the pecans and place 2 TBSP in a mini food processor along with 2 TBSP goji berries. Pulse until finely chopped.

Add a small amount of water to a saucepan and place a heat-proof bowl on top. Gently heat the water. Throughout the chocolate making process, you want to keep the water gently heated. On my electric hob, once the water has reached a simmer, I turn the heat down to 2. On a gas hob, I suggest turning the heat off once the coconut oil has melted and just give it an occasional blast of heat, if needed.

Ready, set, go!
Roughly chop the coconut oil and place it in the heat-proof bowl. Once melted, whisk in the cocoa powder. Next whisk in the liquid sweetener. I use about 2½ TBSP Sweet Freedom. If using agave syrup, 2 TBSP should be sufficient. Taste test, and add more sweetener, if needed.

Remove from the heat and stir in the finely chopped pecans and goji berries, along with another 2-3 TBSP of the chopped pecans. Lift the bowl and dry the bottom with a tea towel, before pouring the chocolate into the prepared container. Tap the container on the worktop to remove any air bubbles. Sprinkle the top of the chocolate with the remaining chopped pecans and whole goji berries. Lightly press them into the chocolate.

When completely cool, place the chocolate in the freezer until fully set (around 1 hour). Once set, lift the chocolate out the container and cut into pieces using a sharp, smooth edged knife.

Coconut oil becomes soft at room temperature, so serve the chocolate straight from the fridge or freezer. In an airtight container, the chocolate will keep for weeks.


Products used in this recipe
nu3 goji berries
– Essential Organic Virgin Coconut Oil – I bought this from Harvest in Bath, but it’s also available in other health food shops and online stores, including Amazon
Sweet Freedom Original, available from Asda, Waitrose, Morrisons, Ocado and online stores, including Amazon
Kenwood Mini Chopper, purchased from Amazon 

[This recipe has been entered into Ricki Heller’s Wellness Weekend]

Coconut Chocolate Bark with Goji Berries and Pecans

Good luck to all the bloggers entering the nu3 challenge. I’m sure there will be many beautiful and inspiring entries

I think nu3 are planning to invite the public to vote on the entries and a prize will be awarded to the entry with the most votes. As soon as I have the details, I’ll post a link.

Have a great weekend everyone!  xx

UPDATE: Thank you so much to everyone that voted for me in the nu3 Blogger Challenge I am so thrilled to have won! 😀


We ♥ Hemp & A Good Hemp Giveaway

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll have noticed that hemp seeds appear in a lot of my meals.  It crops up in breakfasts, lunches, dinners, smoothies and even hot chocolate!  I have huge respect for this super seed, both for its nutritional content and positive impact on the environment.

Shelled_hemp_seed 500



On the nutritional front, hemp seeds are little powerhouses, packed with protein, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and minerals.

Nutritional Qualities of Hemp Seed
A complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids
Very high protein content (over 30%)
Low in saturated fat
Excellent source of omega 3 and omega 6, and in the ideal ratio for your body to absorb it
Natural source of Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA)
Rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E
Great source of magnesium, zinc and iron

Health Benefits of Hemp Seed
Increases energy levels and metabolic rate
Lowers blood pressure
Improves organ function
Boosts immunity levels
Helps circulation
Reduces inflammation and symptoms of arthritis
Reduces symptoms of PMS and menstrual cramps
Builds strong, healthy hair, skin and nails
Low allergen and easy to digest

Though hemp comes from a variety of cannabis sativa, the plant contains extremely low levels (0.02% or less) of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (levels comparable to the amount of opium found in poppy seeds).  Here in the UK, it’s legal to grow industrial hemp for culinary purposes.

Hemp Crop in Peasenhall Road, Walpole, UK 500



The production of hemp seed actually has a positive impact on the environment!

Hemp seeds on plant 500



Environmental Benefits of Hemp Seed
A very efficient carbon sequester, locking up to four times as much carbon as a similar size field of trees
One of the world’s most sustainable crops
Extremely easy to cultivate with fantastic yields
Can be grown entirely herbicide and pesticide-free
Excellent for soil structure and health
Doesn’t require any weed control during the growing period (either mechanical or chemical)
Fastest growing plant in the world after bamboo, shooting up 4 metres in 14 weeks

We ♥ Hemp
As a plant-powered family, we consume hemp seed as one of the main sources of our omega 3 intake (along with flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts).  Since heat can destroy their valuable omega 3 properties, we tend to sprinkle hemp seed into our meals once they are prepared.  Until recently, I’d only ever used plain, shelled hemp seed so I was delighted when I was contacted by Braham & Murray (the company behind Good Hemp) and asked whether I would like to try their new range called ‘Good Seed’.  In addition to the plain variety, they’ve created three flavoured blends: Sweet Cinnamon, Asian Spices and Italian Herbs. All four of them are perfect for sprinkling!

I have to say that these products have been thoroughly tested by my family.  We’ve used at least one of the blends every day for the past month or so!  Here’s a rundown of our favourite ways to enjoy them.

The Sweet Cinnamon blend (hemp seed, ground cinnamon, sugar) has been sprinkled onto breakfast cereals, porridge, and blended into smoothies.

Good Hemp Sweet Cinnamon

The Italian Herbs blend (hemp seed, coriander, salt, oregano, basil, garlic powder) has been wonderful for sprinkling into pasta dishes and on top of pizzas and soups…

Good Hemp Italian Herbs 1

while the Asian Spices blend (hemp seed, oregano, sweet chilli, smoke paprika, garlic powder) has been perfect for adding to curries and stir fries.

Good Hemp Asian Spices

The plain Shelled Hemp has been sprinkled into a whole array of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and smoothies.

Good Hemp Shelled Seeds

We found that all four blends are also great for sprinkling into sandwiches and wraps.

Falafel Wrap

As companies go, I really value Braham and Murray as they take great care to produce a quality product in harmony with the environment.  All their hemp is grown in the UK and is entirely herbicide and pesticide free.  They make use of the entire hemp plant, so nothing goes to waste.

The seed is used for food.
The straw is used to create sustainable building materials for Eco houses.
The fibre is supplied to BMW for the doors of 3 & 5 Series cars (the fibre reduces the weight per car by approximately 1kg, thus enabling fuel efficiency).
The dust cleaned from the seed is supplied to worm farms.
Leaf matter supplies essential nutrients back to the soil as a natural fertiliser.

Giveaway Time! NOW CLOSED!
I’m very delighted to tell you that Braham and Murray have kindly offered to give away three of their Good Seed products to my wonderful readers.  To be in with a chance of winning one of the pots, simply leave me a comment below stating which of the blends you would like to try: Sweet Cinnamon, Italian Herbs, Asian Spices or Plain Shelled Hemp.

There are two bonus ways of entering the giveaway:

– ‘Like’ the Braham and Murray Good Hemp Facebook page, and leave me a comment below stating that you have done so.

– Follow Good Hemp on Twitter @Good_Oil or @GoodHempNutri, and leave me a comment below stating that you have done so.

I’m afraid that this giveaway is UK only, so apologies to my international followers.

The closing date is Thursday 28th February 2013, at midnight GMT.

Good luck everyone!

Are you a fan of hemp seed?  If so, what’s your favourite way of eating it?

Nutrition Facts – Omega 3

I recently came across a useful website for anyone interested in the latest research on nutrition. It’s called ‘‘.  

As a researcher by profession, I’m always keen to access the latest studies on whatever subject currently grabs my attention.  For the past 8 years (since Lil’ L was born), I’ve had a keen interest in nutrition. To keep up with the latest research, I’ve spent hours scouring the online scientific and medical journals.

So you can imagine how excited I was to discover that a certain Dr Greger, funded by The Jesse and Julie Rasch Foundation, is doing this for us. And even better, he’s publishing the findings in a bite-size, easy to understand format online. 🙂

Recently, I’ve been thinking about omega-3 and DHA.  As a vegetarian family, we mainly source our omega 3 from flaxseed (linseed), walnuts and hempseed. We tend to sprinkle ground flaxseed and chopped walnuts on our breakfast cereal.  We also mix walnut oil or hempseed oil into our main dinners. Lately, though, I’ve been wondering whether we should use flaxseed oil instead of the ground seed. Does the oil contain a more concentrated dose of nutrients? Over to Dr Greger…


Isn’t it incredible how much goodness is contained in those little flaxseeds!

I’ve noticed that chia seeds have been mentioned a lot lately as a good source of omega-3. I was wondering whether chia seeds have a higher nutritional value than flaxseed.  In less than 2 minutes, Dr Gregor had given me the answer:


He certainly puts some effort into livening up those videos! 😉 

Continuing on the subject of omega-3, I’ve read a few articles that have mentioned that the rate of conversion of omega-3 into EPA and DHA (which give protection against heart disease and ageing of the brain) varies from person to person. In one article, in particular, it stated that the rate of conversion was lower in males compared to females.

While our family has never taken supplements, I’m now debating whether to adopt a ‘belt and braces’ approach and give Lil’ L a marine-algae DHA supplement, just to make sure he gets adequate levels of DHA. These supplements are made of the marine algae from which fish get their DHA.

It makes sense (to me anyhow) to consume the DHA directly, rather than killing and eating the fish to get to their supply of DHA. Plus, the level of pollutants in fish these days is worringly high (thanks mainly to the humans that have accidentally polluted our seas). Mercury and petrochemical pollution is found in most fish nowadays and avoiding these pollutants is more important in infants, toddlers and children, as their growing cells are more sensitive to the damaging effects of toxic pollutants. Dr Furhmann et al have stated that fish is simply too polluted a food to rely on as a DHA source for children and they don’t recommend feeding young children fish in an attempt to supply them with their requirements of DHA.

These signs are popping up everywhere.

I probably will buy some DHA supplements for Lil’ L, but I’ll do a little bit more research before I ultimately make a decision.

I would love to know what your stance on DHA supplementation is.  Do you take supplements? Or do you simply try and get sufficient intake of Omega 3 through your diet?

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