We do not want ornaments. We do not have room on our bedside tables for any more books (lovely as they are). We definitely don’t want ‘joke’ presents which sit around in a bag in the hall awaiting a trip to a nearby town, to drop them at a charity shop. (Lest the giver finds their singing bass –and yes, we got those – in a nearby Oxfam.) We’ve reached the point where what we really, really want (to quote the Spice Girls) is something that makes us feel pampered, or perks up our faces, or shifts our mood. And working on the basis that buying friends and family the things you rate so much you’d be thrilled to receive them yourself is a darned good place to start your shopping, here’s what we’re asking Santa for, for Christmas 2018 – from stocking fillers to splurges. Read More…
At the end of the day, we want to sink into sleep mode with a soak in soothing lavender. With almond oil to moisturise, this 100 per cent natural bath essence is irresistible. Dr Hauschka Moor Lavender Calming Bath Essence £16 victoriahealth.com
This delicious balm protects and conditions lips with shea butter, pure grade lanolin, vitamin E and natural banana extract, plus gives a gorgeous subtle shimmer. We’re giving them to all our girlfriends. Lanolips Banana Balm £8.99 victoriahealth.com Read More…
Babies Will Love Kawan (which means friend in Malay), a natural rubber duck, hand-painted with plant pigments. It also soothes sore gums. Kawan by Hevea, £14.99.
NO CHAR? NO CHORE!
A barbecue makes a perfect summer picnic. But health-wise, ‘the risks can take the bang out of a char-grilled sausage,’ as the male cancer charity Orchid puts it. Specifically, processed meats (such as hot dogs and pre-packed burgers) are linked to colorectal and lung cancer and charred red meat can generate compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which may increase the risk of prostate, colorectal and pancreatic cancer. But in a neat twist, Orchid (orchid-cancer.org.uk) is turning the tables so you can fire up the barbie in a healthy way and help beat cancer. The charity has teamed up with nutritionist Sarah West to offer recipes, tips, party and fundraising ideas so you can have a barbecue and raise money for this important charity at the same time. A Big BBQ event pack is available at the-big-bbq.co.uk and here are some of Sarah’s sizzling ideas.
Keep the grill clean so HCAs don’t build up and transfer to food. Oil the grill with light (not extra virgin) olive oil or organic rapeseed oil to prevent burning, charring and sticking.
Trim excess fat to reduce smoke flare-ups, which may contain HCAs.
Don’t burn your food. Light charring is part of the fun but blackened meat is the most likely to release HCAs. So reduce the heat or raise the grill away from the heat.
Precook meat in your kitchen then finish on the barbecue. Less time on the grill means less exposure to HCAs, but you still get the authentic flavour.
Cook minced meat, eg, sausages and burgers, all the way through on a steady heat; they are only safe when piping hot in the middle. Cut into the thickest part to check there is no pink meat and the juices run clear. Steak and whole cuts of beef and lamb are safe to serve rare as long as the outside is properly cooked to kill any surface bacteria.
Marinating meat in a flavoursome, antioxidant-rich blend (see below) before grilling reduces the potentially carcinogenic properties of even blackened meat
To marinate 4 steaks, combine: 4 crushed garlic cloves, 5 torn basil leaves, 2 tbsp each chopped fresh rosemary and thyme, a pinch of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and 4 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil. Coat the steaks in this, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before grilling.
Choose fish or shellfish instead of meat. Salmon, tuna and big prawns can go straight on the grill.
Eat lots of cancer-fighting broccoli with your barbecue, delicious stir-fried with ginger and garlic. Read More…
Q: I would like to do yoga but I’m worried about recent reports that it can be harmful. I have an intermittently dodgy back and am 43. Is it safe for me to do?
A: Yoga is a 5,000-year-old system of postures, breathing and meditation. Like 30 million people worldwide, I’m a huge fan both for its general mind and body benefits and because iyengar yoga [iyengaryoga.org.uk] helped my badly fractured left arm recover strength and suppleness to an extent that astonished the surgeon.
All sports can be harmful if you have a medical condition. ‘Yoga is no different,’ says Josephine Fairley, author of Yoga for Life (Kyle Books, £16.99). ‘But most yoga classes are very hands-on, which means that you will be closely observed and helped by the teacher. Always share details of injuries or conditions that may affect your ability to do certain postures. However, it is always sensible to consult your doctor first.’ Read More…
Q: I’m a working mother of 42 and want to do a sensible health MOT. I’m generally healthy but get tired. I can’t afford to pay very much. Could you advise?
A You should discuss your individual health concerns with your GP but most will think it’s sensible to do the tests below, as well as routine tests such as blood pressure. These are recommended by Professor Charles Clark (charlesvclark.com), and Dr Eric Asher, medical director of Third Space Medicine (thirdspacemedicine.com). Unless marked otherwise, they are blood tests. Read More…