Fermenting Pots and Kimchi

My lovely friend, Charlotte Storrs, sent me these beautiful pictures of her fermented pots with the kimchi made from my recipe. I have not yet had the pleasure of making fermented vegetables in one of her pots, but they are all the rage. According to Charlotte, "after a water-sealed crock is packed, two half-circle weights are placed into the crock to keep your ferment submerged. Then the lid is placed into an open moat which is filled with water. The outside air is prevented from entering the crock and carbon dioxide gases created during fermentation easily bubble out." If you are interested in purchasing one of Charlotte´s handmade crockery, you can reach her here:


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Bespoke Health is 5!!!

It has been 5 years since I founded Bespoke Health and I could not have done it without all of my wonderful clients, colleagues, friends and family! Each and every day I am learning something new - not just through seminars, journals and academic materials, but from YOU! - my clients, who teach me to go that extra mile, to uncover something to help with this or that symptom. This makes any trials and tribulations of running a small business so very worthwhile! I hope that I have made many lives just a little bit healthier, a little bit easier and I look forward to helping many more people over the next 20 years! 

As a little gift of thanks, 3 other therapists have also offered 20% off of their services. Perhaps you can use a stress-reducing Thai yoga massage or a reflexology treatment or some healthy cooking tips from Carrots and Curls! Feel free to share these offers with friends and family or even stick them in a stocking. We are all happy to provide gift certificates which make wonderful presents for the holidays and most definitely do not cost the Earth! Instead of another mug, cookbook or scarf, perhaps a new start to a healthier 2018 is just what is needed.

Have a wonderful holiday season - eat well and enjoy yourself! 

Sending you much love and good health for 2018!


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Spring plants, herbs and weeds

I guess the title begs to ask - what is the difference? The wise father of a friend said to me once that a weed is anything you don´t want in your garden. I struggle with my family about which "weeds" I am allowed to keep in the lawn which is anything but pristine and filled with probably as much moss, true herbs and weeds as grass. Maybe more.

Over the course of two weeks, I took a refresher course on herbs. Somehow in the moment, I have so many ideas, but then the days pass, I forget much of what I learned and don´t seem to find the time to use my new knowledge. Perhaps I set my sights too high. Instead of making it a chore, it should be a delight. So what do I have in the garden or around my house?

Sorrel, nettles, dandelion, lemon balm, cleavers and probably many more that I just don´t recognize. Many can be added to salads, soups, omelettes and stews and at this time of year when your body needs rejuvenation and detox, these herbs are exactly what our ancestors would have put on their plate after a long winter. One thing I learned from my course, you don´t need a lot of any of these herbs - just a small handful is more than enough. In fact, too much nettles can overload your kidneys and cause severe detox reactions. If you are going to add them to a smoothie, a few leaves are plenty! Sorrel, for example, can cause vomiting and diarrhea when eaten en masse - but instinctively one should never eat more than one needs. In fact, children often don´t want to eat such bitter foods (dandelions, nettles, sorrel are classified as bitters and aid in digestion), because they don´t yet need to. If you find that you really enjoy such foods, then your body will normally tell you when to stop.

If you have any recipes, please do share. I think I will now enjoy some sun and see what else I can find in my weed-lawn.




 Lemon balm

Lemon balm



Staples to have on hand for the Cold and Flu Season

A few of my clients have already been hit by a bug or two and I'm not feeling my best. It has been a busy start to the school year for many and it's easy to let your guard down and catch something that's going around. Here are a few foods to keep in the house at all times - just in case and also to prevent infection.

Onions - cook with them and eat them raw if possible (chopped finely in a salad or dressing). If someone is ill, please a small dish of sliced or chopped onions in their room to prevent spreading the germs.

Garlic - as with onions, garlic should go into just about everything. Make sure you buy it fresh and organic if possible. Never from China as it is contaminated with toxins. Half a clove chopped finely and swallowed without chewing is great for your digestive system, too.

Ginger - again, I love ginger in all Asian dishes. A few slices in a glass of water or brewed into a tea is a great immune booster. Add a slice to your smoothies or fresh juices.

Horseradish - not always easy to find fresh, but a good quality store bought one is better than nothing. At this time of year it's an excellent immune system booster and I sprinkle a bit onto cream sauces (soy cream for me) or even on a piece of bread with smoked fish for example. A little bit goes a long way.

Nettles - perhaps you still have some in your garden. The young leaves can be used for a soup. The little seeds can be made into a pesto and kept for the whole winter. This is a new way of using nettles for me - but really delicious and the seeds are considered a power food - again, you only need a little bit. Nettles are also very high in vitamin C and are a bitter like dandelions.

Turmeric - perhaps one of the new foods for us in the West, I add turmeric to soups, stews and sauces (and sneakily no one notices). It's an anticancer food, too, so it should have a regular place in your pantry. I like it fresh and grated in smoothies, but you can also make a delcious hot drink or tea with it too - it doesn't have to taste bitter.

Elderberry - not to be eaten raw, but made into a syrup or cordial, they are high in vitamin C and great to have on hand if you aren't well.

Rosehips - another one for a tea or a jelly, this is delicious and children usually like it, too!

Egg Muffins

I'm no longer quite sure where I first saw these easy to make omelettes. Instead of fiddling with a pan, the eggs sticking and resulting more in a scrambled mess, these are super easy and are always a hit!

Sautee your choice of vegetables. I usually use onions, peppers and whatever I have in the fridge. You can add uncooked chopped tomatoes, bits of olives and fresh herbs, grated cheese - really whatever you wish. Oil your muffin tins - I usually use coconut oil. Add the vegetables and lastly pour on the whisked egg and cheese mixture (seasoned as you wish). Bake at 180-200 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until cooked. These are delicious cold the next day as well and make a nutritious lunch for school or work, too.

Why don't you try it with some salmon for extra omega 3s!


Interview by Caroline, founder of the alternative lifestyle blog "Alt + Green"

While everyone's still on the healthy theme, I wanted to share the secrets of Naturopathy with you.  And I thought who better to do this than the fabulous Claudine of Bespoke Health .  I have used her a couple of times and can recommend her as a very knowledgeable, practical advisor,  and all round helpful lady who really loves what she does :) Claudine lived in Oxon for many years and continues to serve clients in Oxon and across the globe (via Skype/phone/email).

Interview with Claudine Martin, Naturopath:

In a nutshell, what is naturopathy and why is it good for us?
Naturopathic nutritionists are trained in the detailed workings of the body and its metabolism. This enables us not only to explain to individuals how their illness may have started but also to design a tailor-made nutrition and health program, explain how it works, and guide the client through it, adapting it as necessary and working through any problems that may arise. By understanding the cause of your symptoms, you can then address it directly rather than simply taking a medicine, for example, to mask the symptoms. Nutrition can often lessen or entirely alleviate specific issues reducing the need for conventional medicine which has many side effects.

What inspired you to turn to naturopathy?
I first became interested in alternative therapies, and nutrition specifically, when I was pregnant with my first child- unbelievably 20 years ago! I was concerned about my environment, the modern medicines, testing procedures, etc. that I was given and started to question things that seemed unnecessary to me. I had many interesting tutors along the way and noticed how changing things in my environment, specifically my diet, lessened my own symptoms without too much effort, but more importantly without any side effects.

You've mentioned to me in the past that people ate better back in the olden days.  How is modern day life affecting eating habits?
The nutritional value of food has lessened since the industrial age. Due to the processing, long distance travel, packaging, environmental impact, pesticides, etc., our food simply does not provide all the vitamins and minerals that we need. The longer your fresh vegetables take to get to the supermarket, sit on the shelves and later in your refrigerator, the less nutritional value they will have. Unfortunately supplements are now necessary for most people even with the best diets. Secondly, we live in an age when people expect everything immediately, quickly. Very few people can or want to take the time out to cook a proper meal. We are eating more fast food, more processed foods and less truly healthy, nutritionally rich foods. Our bodies, no matter how overfed, are often starved of proper nutrition!

What are your top 3 healthy eating tips?

+ Cook your own food as often as possible.
+ Buy organic if you can’t grow your own.
+ Make vegetables the main part of two meals a day. That is probably the hardest, but if you try to do this, you will see that you lose weight, feel healthier, have better skin, etc. We rely far too much on carbs such as pasta, bread and potato products.

What are the common mistakes people make when trying to eat healthily/change their habits?

+ Counting calories – it’s really not necessary if you eat a balanced diet.
+ Avoiding sugar, but then replacing it with artificial sweeteners – a definite No-No! Even agave, honey, maple syrup, etc. need to be eaten in very small quantities (regardless of their GI)
+ Eating low-fat foods – your body and its metabolism require health fats to burn calories (among other things)
Skipping meals – especially breakfast

In your opinion, what are the benefits of eating a plant-based diet?
First and foremost, it is environmentally the right way to go. Having spent a lot of time on the continent, I appreciate how many in the UK eat vegetarian and vegan meals regularly – it’s not so easy in countries like Germany and France. The UK is more advanced in this regard. Studies have shown that a plant-based diet (not always considered to be 100% vegan, however) may prevent type 2 diabetes, lower heart disease, contribute to weight loss (or maintenance), support healthy vision, skin, etc., etc.

There are a few issues with plant-based eating, however. Many vegetarians and vegans rely on carbs as their main food – bread and pasta being the favourites. It’s then very easy to get children especially hooked on eating almost nothing but breads, cakes, biscuits and pasta – not a very healthy start for them and a very bad habit to get into.
Also, if you are vegan, you need to be aware that you may need extra supplements such as B12.

Please check out Caroline's regular blog on eating a plant-based diet and cool things to do in the Oxfordshire area! https://plantpoweredblog.wordpress.com/


Natural Insect Repellant

It may seem a bit early to be thinking of insect repellant when the ground is frozen solid, but some lucky clients are about to venture off to warmer climates. Even for those of us who are not so fortunate, if you have the time, this oil lasts forever, so you can make it now while you dream of summer.


The recipe is coconut oil with 2% neem oil. To cover the smell of the neem oil, I add several drops of lavender essence. Melt the oils gently and add the essence. Blend together and once cooled, pour into a bottle or jar. Naturally it will be in liquid form in warmer climates, so take care that the bottle is well-sealed. We have found that it prevents mosquito bites quite well and it is also supposed to be useful against ticks. You could even try it on your pets! I'd love to hear your holiday stories and whether or not you remained bite-free.