Organic garden update June

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The organic garden is going well at the moment BUT it has been a learning curve.  The tomatoes were looking like they were not going to fruit again this year :( .  Then we learned we were looking after them a little too well by continuing to feed them with nitrogenous fertiliser (organic of course).  The tomato plants were 'too happy' and did not show signs of fruiting.  Time for some tough love.  Sure enough our tomato plants have now flowered :) so we are eagerly awaiting the fruit.

Tomato plants

Tomato flower close up

Our lettuce is now ready to cut.

The potatoes are doing well and will be ready to harvest when they flower.

The  beetroot too are growing well in spite of transplanting them.  Again this was a learning curve. We grew them in seed trays which apparently you should not do.  You should plant beetroot direct in the ground. Not wanting to 'waste' too much ground space on plants that were likely to die we re-planted some in large pots.  To our joy we now have baby beets!  I think we have been very lucky.

Beetroot in pots

Beetroot in the ground

The cabbage are romping on.  We have never seen cabbage growing before and its been an education.  What seemed to be an unruly mass of leaves is now actually forming into a formed cabbage.


The onions are now ready for thinning out to give the remaining ones more room to grow but the ones that we remove will not be wasted.  They are spring onions, perfect for salads.  I never knew that!

Onions ready to thin

The leeks are coming on too.


As for the herbs we have a good crop of chives, parsley and mint.




We are still waiting for the raspberries to form and for the blackcurrants to ripen but if it's anything like last year I will have to be quick off the mark or the birds will beat me to it!!

Last but not least, the cucumbers and aubergines.



Rhubarb - We have already talked about the rhubarb harvest. Please see the link which includes rhubarb crumble cake recipe! 

If you would like to see our organic gardening journey so far this year, please see the links below

'It's spring, the organic fruit and vegetable year begins!' -

More updates soon.

Happy growing and eating!

Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday:Amaranth and asparagus salad

Monday, 22 June 2015

This week I fancied cooking a different grain. Introducing amaranth. Amaranth, like quinoa is a seed packed with protein. It is an ancient grain, forming a large part of the Aztec and Inca diets. It is also a good source of calcium and iron and cholesterol lowering fibre. You can also make a porridge with amaranth. Here it is combined with asparagus which is in season at the moment and baked marinated tofu. Asparagus is packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C which prevent the aging effects of free radicals. It also supplies fibre for a healthy digestion, and chromium which stabilises blood sugar. Tofu is a low calorie source of protein.

Serves 4
You will need

200g amaranth
500ml water
1 bunch asparagus
1 400G pack firm tofu
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp organic olive oil
A handful fresh coriander (around 30g), chopped
A selection of salad vegetables, according to what you have in the fridge such as tomatinos, halved, red onion slices or spring onions sliced on the diagonal, baby corn, beetroot slices, avocado slices, etc
Lettuce leaves to serve.

Cube the tofu and place in a plastic bag with the lemon juice, olive oil and coriander. Place in the fridge.
Place the amaranth in a lidded saucepan, and cover with 500ml water. Bring to the boil and cook for 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and stand for 15 minutes.  
While the amaranth is standing place the marinated tofu on an oiled baking tray and place in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 20-30 minutes turning once.
Then prepare the asparagus. Snap off the woody ends and place in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil for around 3 minutes then drain. Grease a griddle pan and cook the asparagus for a couple of minutes each side.

To assemble place the amaranth in bowls on a bed of lettuce leaves. Add the salad vegetables and top with the tofu then the asparagus spears.

Janet x  

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Juicing to help stay young

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Juices provide not only vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and amino acids, they are also rich in enzymes. These enzymes help with digestion and absorption of nutrients which tends to become less efficient as we age. Juices also help rid your body of toxins, by supporting the health of your liver. This in turn means juicing will give you more energy, increased mental clarity and boost your immunity. The beauty benefits include more youthful skin because juices are packed with antioxidants to fight off the free radicals that cause aging.  Also juices are hydrating helping to keep your skin soft and radiant. By removing toxins they may even help with cellulite. Here are my top fruit and vegetables to juice and just some of their benefits.

Apples - apples are in the 'Dirty dozen' list of foods that you should buy organic. Apples are packed with antioxidants which protect you from the aging free radicals. They also help protect against the effects of aging on the brain in particular against Alzheimer's.

Strawberries are in season and delicious at the moment.  Try to get organic or unsprayed as they are in the 'Dirty Dozen'.  The antioxidants such as ellagic acid in strawberries help prevent wrinkles by protecting collagen and reducing inflammation. Inflammation underlies many degenerative diseases.

Blueberries - Try to get organic or unsprayed as they are in the 'Dirty Dozen'. Like strawberries they are packed with anthocyanins and both are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. 

Kale helps detox.  It also provides anti-cancer phytochemicals.  

Cabbage contains sulphurous compounds which protect the liver, the organ of detoxification and encourage elimination. 

Carrots provide carotenoids which support eye health.

Romaine lettuce - use organic or unsprayed as lettuce is in the 'Dirty Dozen' list. This is rich in vitamin C which supports collagen production and immunity.  It also can help reduce homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are linked to heart disease. Rich in potassium, it helps reduce bloating, cellulite and high blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium.

For more about juicing please see

If you want to see juicing in action please follow the links to the videos on my 'sister' blog's YouTube Channel:-

'An introduction to Juicing'
'Seasonal Juicing-September'
'Seasonal Juicing-October'

Stay healthy, stay young
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Getting to the bottom of cellulite

Friday, 19 June 2015

As a yogini, I have learned 'acceptance'. This means that although my body may not be perfect, I accept myself just as I am. Hey ho, life's too short to get hung up about such things.
In fact as many as 90% of women have cellulite, mainly on bottom and thighs. Cellulite is fat that pushes against connective tissue causing the dimpled appearance. Even skinny ladies do not escape. 'Miracle' creams have limited, if any, effect but there are some things you can do to help. 

The fact that men are not affected by cellulite would suggest that cellulite has a hormonal connection. The culprit seems to be oestrogen which encourages fat storage on the thighs.  Yoga postures, breathing techniques and meditation can help with hormone balance.

Cellulite often develops due to poor circulation. Please see 
Smoking can impede circulation so for this and many other reasons, please try to kick the habit. 
Another way you can boost circulation is with dry body brushing. For more on this please read
Exercise is key to increasing circulation. Power walking is trendy at the moment so you might want to give it a try

Limit your salt intake as this can lead to fluid retention. A couple of handfuls of Epsom salts in your bath, will help rid your body of excess sodium. Epsom salts, also reduce inflammation due to the magnesium content and also boost circulation. You can buy Epsom salts in bulk quite cheaply on the internet. Do not think however that you can reduce fluid retention by cutting back on your fluid intake. The very opposite is true: you need to stay hydrated to help rid your body of toxins.  

Toxins are another reason for the formation of accumulation of toxins. To help prevent toxic build up try to eat organic, limit red meat, caffeine, alcohol and try to have plenty of fruit and vegetables. If you are not already a healthy weight, try to shed excess through focusing on eating healthily. Yoga poses that encourage elimination such as twists also help your body get rid of toxins.  

Cellulite tends tends to get worse with age. This is because of changes in collagen which allow fat to give this dimpled appearance. Again there are some things you can do to help prevent this.  Please see

The bottom line (excuse the pun!) is cellulite is not harmful to your health so please do not worry too much, just appreciate your beautiful body.

Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday:Gardener's Pie

Monday, 15 June 2015

It's World Meat Free Day today and here on my home patch, York University are having a meat free breakfast this morning to encourage us to go meat-free one day each week, which is good for our body and good for the planet.

Going meat free just one day each week can reduce your saturated fat intake lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and some cancers in particular, colon cancer. Looking to the future and a world population that is expanding exponentially, we need to consider how to feed everyone. Producing grain is far more efficient in terms of land and water needed. It also reduces global warming which is currently affecting the icecaps and wildlife. You may think that melting ice caps are too far away to worry you, but melting ice caps can reduce the salinity of the seas. It may even eventually stop the flow of the Gulf Stream which keeps Britain's climate temperate. Ironically this would throw us into a mini 'Ice Age'.  

Back to Meatless Monday. I have made today's recipe simple in order to encourage people who are new to going meat-free. The recipe also encourages you to use up whatever vegetables you have in the fridge or vegetable rack in order to avoid waste. Gardener's pie is variation of Cottage Pie. Originally introduced in the late 18th century when the poor people who lived in cottages started using potatoes as an everyday food. This recipe uses vegetable to replace meat and is topped with mashed beans instead of potatoes.

Meatless Monday:Gardener's Pie

Serves 2
You will need 

The following are the vegetables I had around but you could use other vegetables such as leeks, mushrooms, aubergines, broccoli, green beans etc

1 onion, diced
1 tbsp organic olive oil
1/4 swede (yellow turnip), diced
1 courgette, sliced 
4 tbsp frozen peas
2 organic carrots, diced
400g carton chopped tomatoes
1 tsp thyme
200ml stock made with 2 tsp organic reduced salt bouillon
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp stevia
400g carton cannellini beans, mashed

Sweat the onion in the olive oil until soft.  
Add all the other ingredients except the beans and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender.  
Place the mixture in a casserole dish and top with the mashed beans. Place in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Serve.  

Janet x  

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Microplastics in facial scrubs

Sunday, 14 June 2015

I watched an episode of BBC's 'Springwatch' recently which highlighted the use of microparticles of plastic in our facial scrubs and the impact this has on the environment. Apparently these micropartcles, which we wash down the sink are affecting even zooplankton in the sea causing them to have fatal blockages. Remember these microscopic animals form the foundation of the food chain so that there will be a knock on effect for all of marine life and ultimately us.  

Now, anything that upsets our delicate ecosystem, upsets me. Springwatch have secured promises from manufacturers to curb their use of microplastics but you can play a part by not buying them (check the labels). Maybe you could try making your own using oil, sugar or salt, and one drop of an essential oil such as rose otto or lavender? I used 1 tbsp almond oil with 2 tablespoons white sugar (brown sugar is better for sensitive skins as it is softer) and 1 drop of  lavender.  Rub the mixture into your skin avoiding the delicate area around your eyes, rinse off with warm water then splash your face with cold water.  

Almond oil is one of my favourite moisturising oils (my other favourite is coconut oil!). Almond oil also is rich in vitamins A, and E which are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants helping soothe irritated skin leaving it looking younger.

Although, I never encourage you to eat sugar, it is great to use on your skin as we are doing here to remove dead skin cells.  It also hydrates your skin and encourages cell turnover. 

Read more about lavender by following this link

Stay beautiful  
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Sun protection - what you need to know!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

If there is one thing I am really fussy about, it is applying my sun protection, not only in Spring and Summer but Autumn and Winter too.  It saddens me to think that many of us to do not wear a daily sun protection.  

The risk of skin cancer, which has quadrupled since the 70s, is caused by both UVA, and UVB rays. UVA forms 99% of the sun's rays and are the AGING rays which can lead to loss of elasticity, wrinkles, age spots etc. Even though UVB is less intense in winter the UVA rays still get through through.  Do not make the mistake of thinking your car windscreen will protect you, it won't. Also you cannot rely on an SPF in your moisturiser or make up, unless you apply your make up thickly: you need sun protection as well.  Make sure you use a SPF of at least 30 which offers 97% protection against UVB and  also make sure your sunscreen has 5 star protection against UVA. In general, the fairer your skin the higher the SPF you need.

How much sunscreen?  The recommendation is a shot glass (about 50ml) for your body and half a teaspoon for your face and neck, although I think I probably use more than this on my face. My daughter finds she need to put plenty on her d├ęcolletage to avoid burning. In other words everyone is different. You may want to expose your arms for around 15 minutes without sun protection to get your daily vitamin D but I would still cover any moles/freckles. 

So which sun protection is best?  There are two types of sun protection, physical and chemical. Below, I outline the differences between them which will help you decide which to use:-

  • Physical sun protection works by blocking the sun's rays using ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, chemical sun protection absorbs the sun's rays using a variety of ingredients.
  • Physical sun protection is more natural and is effective from the moment you apply it. Chemical sun protection needs to be applied 30 minutes before exposure to the sun and needs to be applied more frequently, around every two hours.  
  • Chemical sunscreens have been suspected of causing hormone disruption although this is controversial.  It is also thought that they may be unstable when exposed to UV light, generating free radicals which can cause skin damage or skin allergies. I find that even though I try to avoid applying it near my eyes, it seems to 'melt' into my eyes causing stinging. If you do choose a physical sunscreen avoid ones that contain nanoparticles which are also suspect.  Some people do not like the white film physical sun protection leaves on your skin.  Some people also find that physical sunscreen can cause breakouts.  You could try one that contains zinc oxide only.

Overall I would say a physical sunsreen is best but I would rather that you wore some sunscreen, whether it be physical or chemical, than none.

Enjoy the sun but stay safe
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday:Mushroom and lentil meatless 'meatballs' with roasted vegetable and tomato sauce

Monday, 8 June 2015

If you are new to being a vegan these 'meaty' meatless 'meatballs' will ease your way into becoming a fully fledged vegan.  

Serves 2-3

You will need

For the meatless 'meatballs'
100g brown lentils
1 onion, minced
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp organic olive oil plus extra for greasing baking tray
70g breadcrumbs
egg substitute equivalent to one egg
2 tsp organic, reduced salt bouillon
1 tsp thyme

For the roasted vegetable and tomato sauce
1/2 small aubergine
1/2 yellow pepper
1 small red onion
1/2 courgette
Olive oil spray
1 carton organic chopped tomatoes
Handful of fresh basil
Pasta to serve

To make the meatless 'meatballs' place the lentils in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15-25 minutes until tender.  
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the minced onion and sliced mushrooms. Fry over a medium heat until any liquid has reduced. Add the thyme.
Place the lentils and mushroom mixture in a blender together with egg substitute equivalent to one egg, bouillon and the breadcrumbs. Blend then shape into 'meatballs' and place on an oiled baking tray.  Bake for 30-40 minutes at 200 degrees centigrade, turning once.
Place the vegetables on a roasting tray, and spray with olive oil. Roast in a hot oven for 40 minutes until soft (this can be done the evening before if you are using the oven).  When cool, chop the vegetables and place in a saucepan together with the chopped tomatoes and basil.  Heat through.

Serve the roasted vegetable sauce with the 'meatballs' and pasta.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Organic gardening update - The rhubarb is ready!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Our first crop is ready!!! The rhubarb has done well this year.  

I have used some to make a rhubarb crumble cake - layers of cake, rhubarb compote and an oaty, crumble topping. It's dairy free, egg-free and no added sugar too so you can enjoy it guilt-free.  

Rhubarb crumble cake

You will need:-

For the cake
150g dairy free spread
15g stevia
egg substitute equivalent to 2 eggs
200g rice flour 
1tsp vanilla essence
6-8 tbsp organic unsweetened soya milk

For the rhubarb compote
1 very large stick rhubarb (or two medium), trimmed and cut into 2.5cm pieces
4 tbsp stevia or to taste
1/2 tsp ginger powder

For the crumble
50g rice flour
20g thick milled oats
50g dairy free 
2 tbsp stevia

Place the rhubarb in a saucepan with 2 tbsp water.  Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in the stevia and allow to cool.
Meanwhile make the cake mixture.  Cream the dairy-free spread with the stevia. Add the egg substitute, rice flour, baking powder and vanilla and mix.  Add the unsweetened soya milk and mix to form a dropping consistency.  
Place the cake mixture in a 7 inch springform cake tin. Place the rhubarb compote on the cake mixture leaving a gap around the edges (otherwise the compote may burn).  
To make the crumble topping mix the oats and rice flour together add the dairy free spread and rub in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the fruit compote and place in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees centigrade for 40 minutes until the crumble topping is golden.  Enjoy with custard made with organic soya milk.  

If you would like to see our organic gardening journey so far this year, please see the links below

'It's spring, the organic fruit and vegetable year begins!' -


Janet x 

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Supplement focus- Olive leaf extract

Friday, 5 June 2015

Lately, I've been taking -  olive leaf extract

IMPORTANT - as with any supplement see your doctor before taking olive leaf extract if you are on any medication.  Especially do not take it if you are pregnant, have low blood pressure or diabetes. Also be aware that with some conditions, for example candida albicans overgrowth, you may experience a worsening of symptoms initially as the pathogens (fungi in this case) die and release toxins.  You may experience nausea, headaches, diarrhoea, muscle or joint pain etc. Drink plenty if this happens and take plenty of rest.  You may need to reduce the dose.  Once the 'die off' is complete you should feel much better than before!

As you may know, I like to keep my immune system boosted.  Recently I have been taking olive leaf extract, the active ingredient in which is oleuropein, for its immune boosting benefits.  Alright here's the science bit - one of the ways olive leaf extract stimulates immunity is by enhancing phagocytosis, that is where your immune cells 'swallow' invading organisms such as viruses, bacteria etc.  This means that it not only can help prevent colds and flu but also can help with candida albacans overgrowth and associated conditions such as fibromyalgia. Olive leaf extract also boosts immunity by preventing viruses and bacteria multiplying and causing problems in your body.  The beauty of olive leaf extract however is that it does not destroy 'good' gut bacteria which gives it an advantage over conventional antibiotics.
Olive leaf extract is not a new supplement - it was even mentioned in the Bible!
'The fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine' (Ezekiel 47:12)

But there's more benefits too such as:-

  • Olive leaf extract is rich in antioxidants.  Antioxidants 'mop up' free radicals which are produced as a result of everything that's going on in your body, even breathing.  These nasty molecules 'attack' your cells and the effect is aging (more science - sorry!).  So in effect, the antioxidants are your armoury against the enemy of aging.  
  • Olive leaf extract is good for your heart health.  It helps prevent blood vessel damage.  If a blood vessel becomes damaged, a plaque forms on it (like a 'sticking plaster') and this can lead to narrowing of the blood vessel or even a blockage. In this way olive leaf extract can maintain a healthy blood pressure. Olive leaf extract also reduces elevated LDL cholesterol (the cholesterol 'baddie') lowering the risk of blockages.
  • Another benefit which I am really interested in, is the effect olive leaf extract has on bone health. Most of us suffer some bone loss as we age but olive leaf extract can actually increase the number of osteoblasts, which make bone.  There's more - olive leaf extract can also stimulate the activity of the osteoblasts.
  • You might be interested to know that olive leaf extract can help you lose weight!  It does this by increasing the production of thermogenin, which helps us burn fat more efficiently.
  • Olive leaf extract is anti-inflammatory.  The importance of this is that inflammation underlies many chronic and degenerative diseases. 

I've been taking olive leaf extract around three weeks now and loving it!

Be healthy, be happy
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday: Curried tofu lunch in a jar

Monday, 1 June 2015

Lunch in a Mason jar is such a convenient way to prepare and eat a variety of salads.  Great to take to work. Here tofu is marinated in a curry dressing and topped with salad vegetables, rice, nuts and seeds.  You can vary my suggestions to suit your taste or what you have in your fridge.

Here are the general guidelines for filling your jar:-

Layer 1 - the dressing must go in first so that the other ingredients do not get soggy.
Layer 2 - the protein layer which can be tofu, beans, chickpeas etc
Layer 3 - the vegetable layer which can be sweetcorn, avocado, brocolli florets, carrot sticks, pepper slices, tomatoes, etc
Layer 4 - the grain layer which can be rice, quinoa, bulgar wheat, millet, etc
Layer 5 - salad leaves and herbs
Layer 6 - nuts and seeds which can be almonds, walnuts, chopped brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower kernals etc

Curried tofu in a jar 

Layer 1 

For the dressing

1 tsp organic olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp garam marsala 
Place the ingredients in the base of a jar and swirl to mix.  

Layer 2 

1/2 carton tofu, cubed

Layer 3 

75g sweetcorn kernals
1/2 avocado, sliced, tossed in a splash of lemon juice
1 medium carrot, grated
1/4 carrot, grated
3 tomatinos, halved

Layer 4

100g (dry weight) organic brown rice, cooked according to instructions

Layer 5

Handful spinach
Coriander leaves (optional)

Layer 6 

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
3-4 almonds


Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell