Silicone is artificial, silicon is natural. We need silicon to maintain healthy bodies

Did you know that the body needs silicon?

We tend to think of it as something artificial, but that is ‘silicone’, the man-made equivalent. Silicon, on the other hand, is a natural substance which the body uses to help grow and maintain strong bones. It is also important for flexibility and elasticity, and the growth of thick hair, firm skin and strong fingernails.

But after the age of 20 the human body loses its ability to store this essential element. The human body cannot produce silicon so it has to be supplemented through diet, but it seems we may need silicon more in later life because there is some belief that it helps prevent the hardening of veins and arteries.

Silica supplements
We can take a form of silicon as a supplement called silica, a mineral derived from quartz crystals. Studies demonstrate that silica neutralizes free radicals and preserves the health of cells exposed to these radicals.

Hübner have made Silicea for hair, skin and nails. They are silica capsules available without additives or preservatives. Silicea is suitable for vegans and gluten and lactose free and available from GoodnessDirect.

Authentic Italian pasta from Mr Organic

Mr Organic's pasta
Mr Organic's pasta

Mr Organic are impressive. Not only do they do a range of organic pasta sauces, they score very highly as an ethical company, sourcing tomatoes from their farm in Italy.

But it makes simple sense that if you’re an Italian based family producing beautiful Italian tomatoes then you should produce the pasta to go with them…

So now it’s here: lovely organic Italian pasta. Whether you like Fusilli (twists), Penne Rigate (quills), Spaghetti or Tagliatelle (long and flat), you get to be completely authentic with Mr Organic’s pasta. They’re transported without air miles, are vegan and approved by the Soil Association.

Buon appetito!

Are You Addicted To Sugar?

This article is written by nutritionist, Christine Bailey from Advance Nutrition Consultancy.

With Easter upon us you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by the mounds of chocolate, Easter eggs, sugary candy in our shops. But you don’t have to eat sweets and chocolate to still be addicted to sugar.  Sugar is everywhere in our foods – drinks, cereals, breads, pastries, yogurts, sauces, desserts – in fact most processed foods.

You don’t have to consume white sugar lumps to be addicted to sugar.  Refined carbohydrates such as breads, cereals, rice, potatoes, pasta, pastry goods, crackers etc all have a similar effect on our glucose levels and can result in unstable blood sugar, energy dips and cravings. Importantly it will also cause you to put on weight.

There is a vast amount of research indicating that sugar in the diet is detrimental to health.  Excess sugar consumption has been associated with conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, obesity and premature aging; and restricting sugar intake is recognised as crucial in preventing the development of such chronic diseases.

It is easy to become confused by the various sugars and sweeteners available. Not all sugars are created equal and just because something is termed ‘natural’ does not mean it is necessarily beneficial to our health.  Even healthier sugars and sweeteners should be limited and used sparingly.

One of the worst offenders is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose and is now present in many processed foods and drinks.

HFCS is absorbed so quickly that in high amounts the liver can become overwhelmed, leading to elevated blood levels of triglycerides, very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) – a risk factor for heart disease.

But don’t resort to artificial sweeteners – these such as  sucralose (Splenda), aspartame and saccharin, have been linked to a variety of health conditions, despite being low in calories.  They may even stimulate sugar cravings leading you to put on more weight.

The best approach is to focus on whole unprocessed foods including plenty of protein rich foods, nuts, seeds, vegetables and some fruit.  But if you are looking for a healthier sugar my favourites are xylitol, Sweet Freedom and pure stevia as well as using dried fruit and fresh fruit in recipes to provide sweetness.

What’s new in the world of Biona?

Biona are one of my favourite brands. It seems like they do almost everything and it’s all organic.

Now, they’ve redesigned their packaging to prefer glass because it’s more recyclable and contains minimal BPA – a plastic used to coat tins of food that has recently caused some concern. (See the Food Standards Agency website for more info.)

So here’s some of the stuff Biona are now presenting in glass, with a few fun ideas and facts to go with them…

Flageolet Beans
Ok, here is the first useless fact for you. Flageolet beans are an absolute favourite in France. (Told you it was useless!) What’s not so useless is to know that they taste great in tomato-ey dinners, stews and salads.

Red Kidney Beans
Did you know that kidney beans are high in fibre and protein and low in fat? Or that they absorb the flavours of the foods that you mix them in with? They are a bit like the flavour chameleon of the bean world?!

Ever tried roasted chick peas?
Ever tried roasted chick peas?

Chick Peas
You can put chick peas in loads of things but have you ever thought of roasting them? They taste great when roasted in olive oil with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper… go on, give it a try. Simply roast them for 30 – 40 minutes, but be careful not to over roast them.

Mixed beans
Biona’s mixed beans are awesome. When you buy just one jar you have got yourself 7 different beans! This is the perfect jar for when you’re doing one of those all in one dinners… I’d say it’s well worth stocking up on this one!
There’s more and it’s NEW NEW NEW….

Apple & Mango Puree and Apple & Banana Puree
YUMMMMMM! There are many things you can do with fruit puree…. you can put it on your pancakes, you can stir it into your yoghurt, you could eat it straight out of the jar (I’m going to do this one) oh… and kids love it too! I’m also tempted to try baking with it… so let me know if you have any recipe ideas 🙂

Is there any greater bliss than butterscotch milk chocolate?

It is Divine…

No seriously, it is Divine – that’s the name of the manufacturer’s behind the Fairtrade Butterscotch milk chocolate bar. It is most definitely my favourite flavour, so forgive me for raving.

Divine, as a fairtrade company deserve special attention this Easter, they have lots of different types of Easter Egg available and they’re a great source of chocolate mini eggs. I’m especially fascinated by the Beano Easter Egg because it takes me back to my childhood.

I love the way that chocolate companies like Divine keep bringing out new confectionary innovations. There’s always new bars available, like Divine’s 70% Dark Chocolate with Raspberries. It kinda makes me drool with excitement!

However, the real question is whether anything could ever top butterscotch milk chocolate? The proof will be in the (chocolate) pudding.

Divine Butterscotch - A Heavenly Chocolate with a heart
Divine Butterscotch - A Heavenly Chocolate with a heart

Win a large Booja Booja Easter Egg

Easter is just around the corner and, if you’ve never tasted Booja Booja’s exquisite vegan chocolate truffles before, believe me, you’re missing out.

There are beautiful hand-painted eggs to compliment the chocolate treasures found inside. With ethics at their heart Booja Booja have sourced their cocoa from Ecuador and the Dominican Republic and the boxes are decorated by artists in the war-torn Kashmir. (Check out the Booja Booja websitefor more information.)

Beautiful Booja Booja Easter Eggs
Beautiful Booja Booja
Easter Eggs

Win an Easter Egg
For your pleasure, we have 5 of Booja Booja’s Organic Champagne Truffle Easter Egg to win. All you have to do is send me an email with your name and address and I will pick the lucky names out of a hat (competition closes Wednesday 4th April 2012, UK address only).

Booja Booja offer both large and small Easter Eggs, plus a great range of flavoured truffles and wonderful vegan ice creams, they’re all organic and gluten free too.

For more Easter specific items, be they vegan, dairy free, organic or Fairtrade, you can also visit our Easter Shelf.

Snackbar created to support the protection of honeybees

While speculation continues, one thing remains certain, bees are dying.

A third of UK bee colonies have vanished over the last two years, according to the Soil Association, due to unethical farming practices. Worryingly, one third of the food we eat depends on the pollination work that is done by bees.

Thankfully, people are taking notice. Scientists are doing research, governments are being petitioned.

Now, the latest step is an organic berry bar and chocolate bar have been brought out, a percentage of the proceeds of which goes towards the Bee Guardian Foundation, an organisation that encourages everyone to get involved in looking after bees in some way.

The bars are called Beond bars and they are made Raw, vegan, gluten and soya free.