Kimchi Kraut

I love kimchi and realize how important fermented foods are in our diet. Fermented foods were a staple in every kitchen larder until very recently and now they are making a comeback. If you find traditional sauerkraut unappealing, try kimchi – it has much more flavor.

If you are struggling to find mooli radish, Riverford is selling it at the moment!

Ingredients:

1 white cabbage, finely shredded
1 large carrot, cut lengthways and then sliced into thin half moons
8-10 radishes or some sliced mooli radish, also in thin half moons
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
1 bulb of garlic, cloves separated and crushed
2-6 large red chillis, finely chopped
1 tbsp salt

Prepare everything as above, aiming for the thinnest slices you can manage. Once it’s all chopped and grated, you can begin the preparation, which is the same as for sauerkraut.

Get a large glass jar and begin to layer the ingredients. You don’t have to be too careful, just try to make sure they’re going into the jar a bit mixed up – For instance, a handful of cabbage, some carrot, some radish, bit of garlic, chilli and ginger, big pinch of salt, then start again.

Every now and then take a wooden spoon, rolling pin (or your hand if it fits in the jar) and firmly press/pound the ingredients down into the jar. This ‘bruises’ them and helps them to release their juices.

Once you’re finished, get a smaller jar (a jam jar, perhaps) that will fit inside the neck of the big jar. Fill the small jar with water and screw on the lid, and put it on top of the cabbage mixture to act as a weight. Now cover the big jar with a tea towel to keep dust and flies out.

That’s it – you’re done. Now you just put the jar somewhere warm, and wait for fermentation to begin.

After 24 hours you’ll find that liquid has appeared in the jar. It’s the juice from the veg, which has been drawn out by the salt. MAKE SURE that it completely covers all the veg. If not, top up with water. (The advantage of using radish is that it has lots of juice, so topping up is unlikely) You must make sure that no veg is sticking out the top, or it will rot.

After another 24 hours or so you should see that bubbles are beginning to rise in the brine. This means fermentation has begun. Check the jar daily to make sure that the veg is submerged, and have a taste. You can leave it anything from just a couple of days to a couple of weeks. The flavour will get more sour the longer it ferments, and the health benefits will get greater.

When it reaches a stage you like, decant into smaller jars and move to the fridge (again, making sure that all the veg is below the liquid in each jar – top up if necessary) Once in the fridge fermentation is halted, and it will keep for many months, probably years.

Use as a pickle/condiment with salads, cold meat, curries, sandwiches etc.

This recipe is adapted from Neil Kingham.

Wild Garlic

Spring is here and this week I had my first delivery of wild garlic, one of my favourite springtime herbs.

While not as medicinally potent as the garlic we use all year round, wild garlic has many health benefits. One of the most notable is its high levels of folic acid, an essential B vitamin, and its positive benefits on the digestive system. Wild garlic acts as a prebiotic, encouraging the growth of friendly bacteria. It also has mild antibacterial properties to ward off coughs and colds.

I know I will be very busy this week, so one night will simply be pasta with wild garlic pesto and a healthy soup to start. To make this pesto, simply blitz equal portions of wild garlic, parmesan or pecorino and cashew or pine nuts in your food processor. Add olive oil to get just the right consistency. Be careful - wild garlic is strong. You can always add more cheese and/or nuts or even use some parsley instead of the wild garlic. Bon appétit!

Beetroot Hummus

Happy New Year everyone! I am definitely trying hard to get back into a healthier routine after indulging too much over the holidays. I have faithfully bought bags of fruit and veg for juicing and found that I have just a bit more beetroot than I care to drink. I decided to try some recipes for hummus as our whole family loves hummus in different forms. Just maybe they'd eat beetroot hummus, too. And yes, this recipe - another Riverford one - is a hit:

  • 250-300g beetroot (approx 2 medium to large), left whole or halved, scrubbed
  • 1 x 400g tin cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
  • 2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1-2 lemons, depending on size
  • pinch of paprika
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • good olive oil, approx 2-3 tbsp, plus a little extra for drizzling
  • a little extra ground cumin, some toasted sesame seeds or few shredded mint leaves to garnish (optional)

Boil the beetroot until tender - approx. 45 mins for medium to large ones. Drain and leave until just cool enough to handle, then rub off the skins.

Leave to cool completely, then roughly chop and put in a food processor with the chickpeas, garlic, tahini, juice from 1 lemon, the paprika and cumin.

Blitz to a coarse paste, then gradually trickle in enough olive oil until you have a thick, smooth(ish) dip.

Taste and add salt, pepper and a little more lemon juice to taste, and the garnish.

We enjoy this with tortilla chips as a treat - simply on a slice of spelt bread or with veggies. Delicious :)

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Coconut Thumb Print Cookies

I love trying out new recipes though I'm not hugely successful with baking. Yesterday was different. I found a great new recipe that is very versatile and easy for children and adults like me - and it's vegan which means no dairy, no egg - something many of you struggle with. Here is my adaptation of Ruby Tandoh's recipe in this weekend's Guardian.

2 tbsp Linwood's Milled Flaxseed (and nuts version is okay, too)

5 tbsp water

250 g flour (I used white spelt flour)

160 coconut oil

75 g desiccated coconut

125 g caster sugar

zest of 1 lemon

Pinch of salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

some jam

Preheat the ove to 180C and line your baking sheet with parchment.

Stir the flaxseed mixture together with the water and leave to sit for 10 mins.

Rub the coconut oil into the flour using your fingertips until no fat remains visible. You'll need to work quickly as the oil tends to melt and make a nice mess. Stir in the coconut, sugar, zest and salt.

Whisk the vanilla into the flaxseed mixture and add to your dry ingredients. Cut through the mixture using a small knife to help incorporate the liquid. I needed more flour at this stage, as my mixture was too moist and sticky. You should be able to form a soft ball of dough.

Divide this into about 32 small balls and place on the baking tray. Press firmly with your thumb into the centre to make a small well. Put a small blob of jam in each indent and bake for 15-17 minutes. When they're done, the cookies should be golden brown on their bases and firm on top - they'll continue to set though as they cool down.

We enjoyed making these almost as much as eating them! I think they will make an excellent Christmas cookie - I might even try them with nuts instead of coconut!

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Sushi Rolls - easier than you might think!

Our whole family loves sushi and we've found a recipe that works for us. This recipe is adapted from my favourite cookbook, the Guilt-Free Gourmet, but Jessica and Jordan Bourke.

255 g brown or white sushi rice

50 ml mirin (sweetened rice wine)

5 nori seaweed sheets

350 smoked mackerel, cut into thin strips (tuna or salmon would work equally well)

2 spring onions cut into thin strips

1/2 red bell pepper

To Serve:

pickled sushi ginger

light soy sauce

Serves 4

Wash the sushi rice under cold water and drain well. Place in a pan with a lid and add 550ml water. Bring to a boil uncovered and then simmer very gently until nearly all the water has been absorbed. Remove from theheat, cover and let stand for 15 mins to absorb the last of the water.

Spread the rice out over a clean baking sheet. Drizzle with mirin, turning it with a spatula to help it cool down.

While it is cooling, wrap your bamboo sushi mat in clingfilm, squeezing out any trapped air to prevent the rice from sticking. Lay the mat lengthways in front of you. Take one nori sheet and lay it out, shiny side down on the mat. With wet hands, take a smal handful of rice. Starting at the far end, spread and pat the rice across the nori sheet leaving a bare 1/2 cm gap along the edge of the sheet closest to you. Add more rice if needed, but it should be no more than 1 cm thick.  Flip the sheet over so the rice is now facing downward with the edge free of rice still closest to you and in line with the edge of the mat. Across the middle of the nori lay 3 lines of fish, spring onion and pepper.

Then, using the mat, roll the edoge of the sheet closest to you over the filling in the middle, tucking it over firmly so the filling is enclosed. When it looks like you are about to roll the mat into the sushi roll, pull the mat back and continue to roll applying even pressure and tightening as you roll, using the mat to shape it. Once the roll has come together, carefully take it off the mat, lay the mat over it and press and smooth the roll, compressing it tightly and evening out the ends. With a sharp, wet knife, cut the roll in half and then each half into 3 or 4 pieces. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Enjoy as a starter or even just as a snack!



Reiki Sessions

After completing my Reiki III course recently, I'd love to share my new tools with you. Throughout the remainder of 2014 reiki sessions will be only £35. As you may know, reiki is not only a form of healing, but is also a great way to raise your energy levels and give you a feeling of peace, relaxation and groundedness - just what many of us need as we go into the stressful holiday period. For more info on my reiki treatments, have a look at my page on well-being.

 



Indonesian Green Vegetables with Coconut Dressing

This recipe inspired me when I was trying to find a new way to use up all my green veg. It's adapted from Riverford and has all the healthy and yummy benefits of coconut - one of my favourite foods.

450 g mixed green vegetables such as green beans, spring greens, cabbage or spinach

1/2 cucumber for crunchiness

shredded mint

Blanch the beans in boiling water for 2-3 mins. until just cooked. Drain and rinse immediately to retain the colour. Shred the cabbage/other greens and blanch for 1 min. Drain and refresh in cold water. Cut the cucumber into 2.5 cm lengths and then these chunks into about 10 pieces.


For the dressing:

100g dessicated coconut

1 peeled garlic clove

1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped (optional)

Fish sauce to taste

Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes

sugar to taste

sea salt

Put the coconut and 150ml water in a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 mins. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Pound the garlic and chilli to a paste in a pestle and mortar. Add the fish sauce and then the coconut. Add the lemon/lime juice plus sugar and salt to taste. Toss the vegetables in the dressing and garnish with the mint.

Perfect for a hot summer's day!



Strawberry Ice Lollies

We have been having a wonderful heatwave - at least by English standards - and what better way to celebrate than with English strawberries? Here is an original way that the children love: homemade strawberry ice lollies inspired by a recipe from superhealthykids.com. It's super easy and a great way to get the kids involved in preparation.

Ingredients:

Ripe or even overripe strawberries

Greek or coconut yoghurt - flavoured or unflavoured depending on the sweetness you are aiming for

Blend the strawberries (add a bit of water or juice if necessary)

Pour some into each mold and alternate with yoghurt until each mold is full. Freeze!

This is an incredibly healthy way to enjoy summer :)

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Who doesn't love pudding? I've finally found one that is super yummy and good for you, too. Even better, it's also extremely easy to make. You need:

A blender to whizz everything up in

2 very ripe avocados

1/2 tsp ground chia seeds

110 g honey or maple syrup (agave works too)

40 g cocoa powder or raw cacao powder

1 t vanilla extract

3 T coconut oil

(serves four, but it's very rich, so you could stretch it to six)

Blend it all together and put into ramekins in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Top with chopped nuts, maybe some dried cranberries, fresh strawberries, whipping cream - whatever! It's the perfect dessert for these lazy summer days.


A Healthy Packed Lunch Idea

I don't know about you, but I do struggle to make packed lunches interesting and healthy, too. I've been trying different fillings for rice wraps and this was our successful experiment this weekend - just in time for school to start back today. As always, I love to get your recipes, so please do email ideas to me!

Quick and Easy Rice Wraps:

Spring Roll Wrappers (16 cm in diameter)

For the filling - these are just ideas, you can really use anything!

Fine Rice noodles - prepare according to packet instructions

Cooked prawns/leftover chicken

Cashew nuts, roughly chopped

Cucumber - chopped into small pieces

Avocado - chopped into small pieces

Coriander - chopped

Toasted Sesame Oil

Mix all of the above - you might want to chop the noodles up a bit for ease

Immerse the wrappers in warm water (or according to packet instructions) for a few seconds and place on a tea towel to soften. Place on a board and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the filling along the centre. Fold in the opposing side of the wrapper and then one of the remaining sides to cover the filling by about a third. Continue to roll the wrapper so the filling is enclosed.

The wraps can be served immediately or chilled until needed. Serve with chili dipping sauce.

Enjoy!


Mystery Muffins

Mystery Muffins, adapted from Sharyn Singer’s recipe

 makes 24-30 mini muffins or 12 regular sized muffins

gluten, dairy free

Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C)

3 oz nuts-coarsely chopped (walnuts, pecans, hazels, almonds, cashews, pumpkin or sunflower seeds) - use 1-2 types

2 oz dried fruit -coarsely chopped (dates, raisins, apricots, figs, cranberries)

3 oz fresh fruit - chopped fruit (apples, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries) You can use frozen fruits coarsely chopped

3 eggs, separated

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 dessertspoons desiccated coconut

Dried and fresh fruits can alternatively be chopped in a food processor; though will be finer in texture.

Cut parchment paper into squares and place in each muffin cup or use muffin papers.

Mix all ingredients except eggs whites together; beat egg whites until stiff and fold them in.

Using a teaspoon, spoon mixture into muffin cups (or put muffin papers into the tins) filling each full. Bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted is clean.

 

They can be frozen once baked and cooled.

These work well with most fresh and dried fruits. Try different combinations.

 


Aspartame

I always tell my clients not to substitute aspartame for sugar. Here's why:

Aspartame is the most widely used artificial sweetener consisting of a synthetic combination of two amino acids. This sweetener is used in a range of products including sugar free yoghurt, diet cola drinks, low-calorie ready meals and desserts, chewing gum, some cooking sauces, crisps, tabletop sweeteners, cereals, flavoured water and squash. Of course this is only in some of the listed products and not in all brands but this list could go on to an estimated 4,000 food and drink products that contain aspartame.

You might think you are doing yourself and your family a great service by using artificial sweeteners and not sugar, but they not only cause stress to the liver and are difficult to metabolize, they actually cause you to gain weight! Sweeteners act very similarly to sugar, and also increase your cravings for sweets and carbs. Studies show that rats fed with artificial sweeteners actually gained more weight and added more body fat than those fed sugar!

Additionally, in the digestive tract, aspartame is split into its two component amino acids and a methyl group. During metabolism the methyl group is converted to the toxin methanol (wood alcohol) and then to a highly toxic substance, formaldehyde, which can cause severe damage to the nervous and immune systems and permanent genetic damage even at low doses. Formaldehyde in turn is broken down to another toxin, formic acid. These facts are undisputed. But seriously, who needs the facts when most of us have had to endure biology class dissections and the noxious smell of formaldehyde. Why would anyone want to voluntarily consume it???

The names to look out for on packaging for aspartame are:

Aspartame

E951

NutraSweet

AminoSweet

Equal

Spoonful

Equal-measure

Canderel

 Aspartame has been blamed for a wide range of symptoms in heavy users of foods and drinks containing it, including:

* abdominal pain and cramps

* depression

* diabetic complications

* dizziness

* eye problems

* fatigue and weakness

* headache (19% of all complaints)

* memory loss

* numbness and tingling

* rash

* seizures and convulsions

* sleep problems

* urticaria (allergy stress)

* vomiting and nausea

         

 

 

 

 

Happy, Healthy Family Workshop

Are you struggling to make healthy meals that your children will eat? Are you always worried that they are not getting enough of the right foods, what the right foods even are, how much they need at different ages, etc. etc.? With the daily media onslaught of does and don’t for parents – telling us what we need to do and changing those rules regularly, how can any parent feel confident that their children will grow into healthy, happy adults?

With nearly 18 years of experience – yes, unbelievably my first child has almost made it to adulthood, I can help you figure out the simplest way to make sure that your children are getting all they need without consulting medical textbooks, counting calories, grams of sugar, etc.

My workshops are tailored to small groups of parents and children. We will work through food issues, talk about and taste a variety of fruits and vegetables and discuss how best to prepare food for the entire family to enjoy. The goal is to get your children involved in the preparation and enjoyment of food from an early age so that meals can be a joyful time, not one fraught with stress – we have enough of that in our lives!

I will provide you with ideas and recipes for easy to prepare meals, a healthy snack for us to enjoy together, a copy of the book and activity pack Eat a Rainbow Every Day, by Sharyn Singer and, for those who wish to try the Riverford box scheme, a complimentary Riverford Farm Cook Book by Guy Watson and Jane Baxter.

For more information, please contact me directly. I am happy to create a workshop to suit your individual needs.

 

 

Kathleen's Black Bean Soup

Quick and Easy Cuban Style Black Bean Soup adapted from Kathleen Nichols’ recipe

1-2 tbsp Olive oil or Coconut oil

1 onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced (I used green instead)

2 tsp minced garlic

3-6 oz. chorizo, cubed (as we didn’t have any on hand, I used organic bacon which I sautéed first)

2C broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)

2 tsp oregano

1 tsp cumin

chili powder

2 cans unseasoned black beans

Salt to taste

2 dashes of lime juice per serving to taste

½ tsp fresh coriander leaves, shredded, per serving

 

·         Heat 1 tbsp oil in your pot, sauté onion and pepper until almost caramelized

·         Add garlic, continue sautéing until onions and peppers are caramelized (total time approximately 7-10 minutes)

·         Remove from pan, set aside

·         Add oil to your pan as needed, brown chorizo (approximately 3-5 minutes)

·         Return onion, pepper, and garlic to the pan

·         Add broth, oregano, cumin, and chili powder, simmer for 5 minutes

·         Add the beans, salt to taste, and simmer for another 5-10 minutes

·         Note: if you slightly mash the beans, they’ll release some of their starchiness into the broth, and your soup will be thicker

·         As you serve, add the dashes of lime juice and the cilantro to each bowl

·         Serves 4-6 (in our case I made double and it was nearly gone!)

 

Serving suggestions

·         Serve with plantain chips or crusty bread on the side (Cuban bread, if you can find it!) and maybe some avocado!

·         The next day, the soup will be thicker – serve over rice for a variation, with a green salad on the side

·         Enjoy!

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10% off of all phone/email consultations!

Hi everyone and Happy New Year! If you are finding that the new year has started at full speed and you are finding it difficult to fit everything in, you can now take the opportunity to have a phone or email consulation from your home or office. I am offering a 10% discount for all phone/email consultations in 2014! I look forward to hearing from you very soon.

 

 

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Health and the Media

This article is courtesy of Jenny Hadley, naturopathic nutritionist, SMN


"I often get asked to comment on reports in the tabloid health pages and on TV programmes.

Surely, if it's in the media, it must be true and the answers we are all looking for?

With the media giving us a continuous flow of the latest so-called ‘change your life’ remedies, it is hard to determine what is worth trying, what is advertising tosh and what may actually do us harm. Spectacular breakthroughs, based on scientific evidence, are rare - so the information we receive, heralded with massive media attention, gives a false impression.

Basic research findings often show promise for a future therapeutic hope but somewhere along the line, the vast majority of the research produces unclear or conflicting results. Such problems have been experienced in many research trials for nutrition and supplementation.

Randomised controlled trials are the key methods to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new treatments. Treatments are called experimental until they are evidently proven to be viable. However, perhaps the viability of these trials is questionable and it is important to mention that a large number of trials for drugs and beauty products are funded by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies who are developing the product being tested. Natural resources, such as the basics of a balanced diet, can often be a small voice in an industry where these powerful corporate giants use public relations experts to manage public perception.

Natural resources and therapies that should be considered valid in the treatment of disorder and disease have very little research and scientific evidence in comparison. There is little funding available for carrying out trials since there is little financial reward in return. According to the Oxford quality scoring system (Jadad) alternative/herbal remedy clinical trials had similar Jadad scores to pharmaceutical scores but the trials were significantly smaller and of shorter duration. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies quash natural agent/alternative therapy research, by finding systematic errors in the conduct, analysis and reporting of the clinical trial. Natural treatments will always be called into question by those who would be financially affected if a natural health revolution took off. They will find a loop-hole to disregard the evidence found and the agent or therapy under trial is effectively written off.

Arguably, if every ‘body’ is individual, can scientific research ever be really accurate? There are different factors in people, such as the severity of disease or disorder, other unknown diseases or disorders, lifestyle, diet and if the patient followed their trial instructions correctly. It may be worth mentioning genetic factors may also differ between people, for example in the metabolism and transport of dietary components in the body. Perhaps other factors like bias on patient selection should be taken into account. In addition, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) will always say that anything from nature is unproven because it can be variable. Therefore, it is unlikely that adequate studies into natural medicine will be abundant.

Food intake and nutritional research trials are difficult to control and many studies are too small. The pros and cons of supplementation debate should not detract us from the needs for a good healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables. The benefits of natural nutrition are becoming more well known, but we still have a long way to go. We have known for years that poor diet has an impact on long term health because our food, particularly fruits and vegetables, contain antioxidants that help protect the body. It seems logical that eating foods rich in antioxidants has to be a good thing.

People should all learn fundamental life skills about managing a balanced diet, and - given today's economy - about the financial planning for such a diet. Many of the clients I see wish they had known the things that I have taught them about nutrition from childhood. Many believe that if they had eaten the way they do now, they probably wouldn’t have developed their health issues in the first place. My thoughts on the education of diet and home economics will need a whole new chapter!

What we discover in the media is not always a wasted resource but articles should be interpreted with caution unless they have been proven reliable by peer groups and journals. I, or another health advisor, may have a better understanding of claims, how to check their viability and how they will personally affect you. So always check the a qualified professional before you jump in and turn yourself into a guinea pig!"

Elderberries

My fascination with foraging in all its forms goes back to my childhood summers in Germany. My grandfather took me on many walks through the forest where we picked blackberries and “hunted” for edible mushrooms. My family will tell you that “mushroom hunting” is a bit of an obsession with me. I’ve had my husband pull the car over just to inspect a few mushrooms...

When we moved to England, I discovered elderflowers and love making elderflower cordial – perfect with sparkling water or especially – a gin and tonic!

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At this time of year though, the berries on the elder tree are ripe and ready to be gathered. You might have purchased a cough syrup or other remedy containing sambucus – but why pay for it when you probably have it in your own garden or just down the lane?

The elderberry is remarkably safe for the whole family and contains plenty of Vitamin C and Iron – just what we all need as they days become shorter, darker and colder! It has numerous uses but I recommend taking it at the very start of a cold – you can take a teaspoonful at a time every few hours. It is anti-inflammatory, useful for coughs and colds, fevers, sinusitis, tonsillitis, croup, asthma,  etc. – just about all of winter’s ills.

Elderberry Elixir adapted from Kiva Rose (www.bearmedicineherbals.com)

1 cup elderberries (dried) or two cups fresh

½ cup dried elderflowers*

¼ cup rose hips fresh or 2 T dried*

3 T fresh ginger grated

2 T licorice (I get the powdered root)*

Honey

Brandy

1 l jar

*I buy dried herbs usually from Neal’s Yard (Oxford) or online

Mix all the herbs together and place in the jar. Cover with honey until fully saturated; then fill with brandy. Let it sit for 4-6 weeks in a dark cupboard. Strain and use by the dropperful or teaspoon.

PS: Always make sure your sources of berries, etc. are collected far from polluted roads and waterways and not from nature reserves or private property!

Methylisothiazolinone and the personal care products in your home

I always thought I was careful about the products my family used. Usually I read every label, but with teenagers in the house, sometimes shampoos and other cosmetics sneak their way in without my knowledge! Recently I have read several articles about a chemical flagged by many dermatologists as the cause of skin problems.

According to articles in the Guardian, the Daily Mail and Natural News, methylisothiazolinone, or MI, has led to a massive increase in eczema and other skin allergies in recent years, and doctors are calling on regulators to ban the chemical. I went through our cupboards and sure enough, I found a few cosmetics with MI in them. They can be found in just about any product including sunscreen, shaving cream and shampoo, among others. It really pays to read every label carefully and warn other family members about this chemical.

For more information on MI, check out:

 http://www.naturalnews.com/041203_skin_allergies  _toxic_chemicals_personal_care_products.html

www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2357697/Doctors-ban-face-cream-chemical-blamed-epidemic-skin-allergies.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

If you are looking for safe sun lotions for the whole family, we have found that Green People and Aloe Pura products work well for us. They are costlier, but worth every penny if they don't cause skin problems and other negative side effects!

Enjoy the sunshine!

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