holistic health

Travel Essentials - Herbal & Sustainable Products

In a few days we leave for a 6 month trip to India and Nepal. Our packing pile is growing taller and we’re beginning to feel so excited about all the adventures to come. We wanted to share with you some of our travel essentials that we’re bringing with us to keep healthy and happy on the road. If you’ve been to India, you’ll know how shocking it can be to witness the huge amounts of rubbish on almost every street corner. We feel determined to travel as sustainably as possible during this trip and avoid using single use plastics. We intend to tread lightly and respectfully, doing what we can to help the situation rather than adding to the problem. Another big priority is caring for our bodies and keeping energised. The inconsistency of travel can be a real stress to the body, so we have some natural remedies and products to help us feel our best.

If you have any more tips or recommendations we would love to hear from you! We also have this post with some extra tips about how to stay healthy while backpacking.

Travel Essentials Herbal Natural Remedies Supplements

Herbal Remedies / Supplements

ORGANIC ESSENTIAL OILS:
Lavender
for burns, cuts, stressful moments & sleepless nights.
Tea Tree Oil incredibly antibacterial. SO healing for cuts, infections, bites etc.
Lemongrass Oil is amazing as a natural insect repellent

ACTIVATED CHARCOAL | a natural remedy for food poisoning, indigestion, bloating or to take at any sign of a stomach issue.

PROBIOTICS | a good quality probiotic to help strengthen our gut flora - an essential for us in somewhere like India, where digestion is put under a lot of stress.

WORMWOOD CAPSULES | a herb to help clear parasites or toxins if we’re feeling unwell or have a case of ‘Delhi belly’

ADAPTOGENIC TINCTURE | on our last trip to India we ended up feeling quite burnt out and exhausted. This trip, I wanted to bring some adaptogens to strengthen our bodies and help adapt to the stresses of travel. We’re bringing this tincture of schizandra, rhodiola, gotu kola and siberian ginseng,

B COMPLEX VITAMIN | In more attempt to avoid burn out we’ll be bringing some B vitamins to help with energy. I like this variety which is especially high in B6, as it helps the liver flush out excess hormones caused by stress.

INSECT REPELLENT | On our last trip we made a really effective natural insect repellent using essential oils. We found we had so many less bites than fellow travellers who were using harsh, toxic DEET on their skin. We use a recipe from the book ‘A Fragrant Pharmacy’ which combines a ratio of the following essential oils with distilled water and witch hazel (or high-proof vodka) - 8 drops lemongrass oil, 4 drops thyme oil, 4 drops peppermint oil & 4 drops lavender oil.

GOOD QUALITY SALT | It can sometimes be really difficult to find high quality salt abroad, and we’ve found it to be really helpful for dehydration. On days when we’ve been walking around in the heat and sweating a lot, we add a pinch to our water to remineralise.

NATURAL REHYDRATION SOLUTION | We will bring a homemade elcoctrolyte mix in case of diahorrea or dehydration. There are hundreds of recipes online for these but the basic ingredients are good quality salt, bicarbonate of soda, sugar (we’ll use coconut sugar) and dried ginger.

Travel Essentials Sustainable Zero Waste

Sustainable Travel Essentials

KLEAN KANTEEN BOTTLES | We love Klean Kanteen bottles - we both have a 40z (1.2 litres) and one 900ml bottle which we use every single day. They are incredible quality and we can tell they will last a life time.

SURVIVAL PRO WATER FILTER | After a lot of research we’ve just invested in this water filter for our trip. This filter not only makes tap water safe to drink, but it also filters out heavy metals. We really want to avoid buying any plastic bottles during our trip and this felt like the best solution for our health and the planet.

MENSTRUAL CUP | Buying my moon cup is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! A menstrual cup is an essential to avoid using tampons or pads that will go to landfill.

STAINLESS STEEL CUPS | we love to be able to make herbal teas in the mornings so these mugs are really useful. Also really handy if we go out for juice and the only other option is plastic cups.

METAL STRAWS - We plan to always keep these in our day bag to avoid ever using plastic straws. They come in a sweet little cotton bag too!

CUTLERY, KNIFE & TUPPERWARE | All of these are so useful if you ever plan to cook when travelling or want to store snacks for journeys. We use this opinel knife which is really high quality and perfect for chopping fruit. You can purchase bamboo cutlery or we bring fork/spoon from home.

COTTON BAGS | Another absolute essential which we always have with us if we’re abroad or not! We use these whenever we buy anything to avoid plastic bags.

BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH | We love these sustainable toothbrushes with charcoal bristles.

Natural Toiletries

Travel Essentials Natural Toiletries

NATURAL SUNCREEN | We swear by This hemp sunscreen for body and I love this for face.

ANTIBACTERIAL SPRAY | This Dr Bronner’s lavender spray is really useful for train/bus journeys.

LIVING LIBATIONS SOOTHSAYER SERUM | Living Libations is my favourite ever company - their products encompass all of mama nature’s beauty. This serum has been so healing for my skin the past few months and is rich with high quality oils of sandalwood, frankincense and rose. It’s a higher price range but is so potent that only a few drops are needed.

LYONSLEAF BEAUTY BALM | This calendula infused balm is ideal for travel as it is multi purpose. I love to use it as a cleanser, which I remove with a hot flannel, and it feels like it melts away all the stress from the day. It can also be used as a moisturiser and to help heal scars or cuts!

GUA SHA | Gua sha and jade rollers have had a lot of publicity recently. I started using this gua sha a few months ago and really love the ritual of massaging my face and neck with it. Not only does it feel incredible to really take the time to care for your skin, but it’s great for draining the lymph and moving circulation around the body. This video shows the technique I’ve been following.

What are some of your natural or sustainable travel tips? We would love to hear any recommendations from you below!

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Keeping Healthy as a Vegan (or Non-Vegan)

Veganism is such a hot topic at the moment. There are strong opinions coming from all angles and it can sometimes feel hard to find reliable information that isn't fuelled by judgement or anger. No matter what your opinion, the vast majority of us desire health and vibrancy in our lives. We are all so unique and this looks so different for every person. One size does not fit all. But whatever our choices are, it's important to take the time to check in with our bodies and how we're feeling. Do you feel energised by food? Or do you feel endlessly tired and sluggish? 

Personally, we stopped eating all animal products around 2 years ago for a variety of reasons; for our health, the environment, ethics and more. It's been a hugely positive journey for both of us and I can't say that I've been tempted to change during that time. However, we recognise the importance in being mindful about what we eat and being intuitive about what feels good. Eating plant based doesn't always translate to eating healthily. You can still serve up junk food at every meal and label it as 'vegan'. So rather than focusing on labels such as 'vegan', 'keto', 'paleo' etc, I think it's crucial to observe how you feel eating certain foods and see each meal as an opportunity to nourish your body and express gratitude. 

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“Be good to yourself. If you don't take care of your body, where will you live?” - Kobi Yamada

Our bodies communicate with us daily in so many ways. From our skin, to our eliminative system and energy levels. If we become deficient in certain vitamins or our body is off balance, this can show up in a variety of ways - tiredness, dull skin, acne, hormonal issues, poor digestion and more.

If you're a vegan (or non vegan!) that feels consistently tired and you notice some imbalances in your body, then it's so important to look at your diet to see how you can create harmony in the body again. A great way to to do this is by having a blood panel test done, which tests for specific vitamin and nutrient levels to find any deficiencies. For all our readers based in USA, Health Labs offers a 'Vegan Wellness Panel Test' which checks for the 11 most common deficiencies. If you're vegan and want to make sure you're supporting your body the best you can, then it's such a great resource to consider.

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These are some of the 11 vitamins/nutrients that Health Labs test for, why they're important and how you can incorporate these more in your life with plant power, herbs or supplements...

IRON
Iron deficiency is a growing problem for many women - vegan or non-vegan. When consuming plant-based sources of iron, combine them with Vitamin C when possible to help absorption. Good sources of iron are:
Nettles (no.1 tip for iron is daily nettle infusions!), blackstrap molasses, dark leafy greens, organic spirulina, cacao, quinoa, buckwheat, black beans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, avocado. 

Herbs- Nettle, parsley, dandelion, yellow dock. 

CALCIUM  
A hugely important nutrient for bone health. Good sources of calcium are:
dark leafy greens (collard, mustard, kale), organic tempeh, tahini, broccoli, figs, black strap molasses, organic almonds, chia seeds. 

Herbs - nettles, horsetail, oat straw, alfalfa.


ZINC
Zinc is such an important nutrient to support our immune system, regulate hormones and metabolising carbohydrates. Good sources of zinc are:
Black beans, chickpeas, lentils, organic tempeh, oats pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, cashew nuts, quinoa, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, wild rice, shiitake mushrooms, flaxseeds, asparagus, cardamom. 

Herbs: oat straw dill, rosemary, sage, chervil


B12
B12 is a complicated issue for those eating plant based, as unlike all the other vitamins/minerals, it's extremely difficult for us to obtain the amount we need from a natural food source.  However, our bodies our capable of creating B12 if we have optimal digestion. In the past, we absorbed B12 from fresh spring water and from the soil, but now that so many pesticides are used to cultivate our food, it's very difficult to find natural sources. Even those who absorb B12 from animal products may only be doing so because the farm animal they are consuming was supplemented with B12 when it was alive. This article is highly recommended if you wish to learn more. 

We supplement with a liquid B12. This is our favourite product in the UK, and we have heard excellent reviews of this brand in the USA & rest of the world. 

FOLIC ACID
Folic acid, or folate, is a B vitamin that assists the body in creating red blood cells and repairing DNA. It's especially important in pregnancy, as it helps the foetus develop. Good sources of Folate are:
organic spinach, broccoli, asparagus, lentils, black beans, pinto beans, avocado, beetroot, romaine lettuce, papaya.

 

More Helpful Resources


'Vegan done right' with Dr Stephen Cabral - Melissa Ambrosini Podcast
This podcast episode is so informative and helpful, diving deep into common deficiencies for vegans and how we can help to avoid this through diet, Ayurveda and lifestyle.  Cannot recommend this enough!  

Health 101
An amazing website full of so many eye opening articles. The article on B-12 deficiency is incredibly interesting and is such an important thing to get educated about. 

Health Labs  (US) 
As we mentioned above, the Vegan Nutritional Maintenance Panel is such an effective way to ensure that you are receiving enough nutrients from your food. The test reveals any deficiencies you may have, so that you can address them and adjust what you're eating. They also offer other tests for food allergies. 
Use the code 'PutumayoKitchen' to receive a 25% discount on tests. 

Cerascreen (UK & Europe)
A test centre based in Europe, offering deficiency tests. 

Our Favourite Nutrition Books
  See our 'Essential Book' list for some recommended nutrition books that can help you on your journey! 
 

Have you ever considered testing for vitamin deficiencies? We'd love to hear how you keep healthy eating a plant based diet. 

If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful, please share it! 

Thank you to Health Labs for supporting this article. 

Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel Seeds

We're back with another fermented recipe ... this time, it's our favourite sauerkraut recipe - made with purple cabbage and infused with fennel seeds. We love eating this with just about anything, it's such a delicious addition to a meal. You can make this recipe with green cabbage too, but we love the vibrant colour of red cabbage & the fact that it's more nutritionally dense. In fact, we recently read that purple cabbage actually has more vitamin C than oranges, as well as so many antioxidants that are healing for the body. 

Eating sauerkraut regularly has really transformed my digestion over the past couple of years. During a difficult patch of stomach issues a few years ago, I dove deep into so many nutrition and holistic health books/podcasts to try and find a cure. Once I started to uncover how much our digestion is linked to our entire system, I became so determined to heal my gut and find balance again. It's pretty fascinating that our gut bacteria is so related to our brain function, immune system, happiness and so much more.

Food can be such a powerful medicine if we look at the source of illness instead of trying to suppress the symptoms. Alongside avoiding stress, one of the most important ways to strengthen our digestion is to feed our guts with friendly bacteria. Making your own fermented foods at home is such an affordable and tasty way of doing this. Especially as it's been shown to be more beneficial if the sauerkraut has been made and fermented in your local area. This is due to the relationship between the bacteria in your environment and the original bacteria in your gut. If you buy a sauerkraut that has been produced far from where you live, you may not receive the full benefits. For more fermented recipes, click here!

Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel Seeds
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel

Vegetable to salt ratio - the magic formula for ferments
After a lot of experimenting, we've reached a good understanding of the salt/vegetable ratio for pickles and ferments. As a general rule of thumb, we always weigh our vegetables, then add 1.75% of this weight in salt. For example, 1kg of cabbage will need roughly 17.5g of salt. 500g of cabbage will need roughly 8.75g of salt. For reference, 1 teaspoon of salt is 5.7g. 

To make 1 large jar you'll need:
1 large jar, sterilised with boiling water
1 large red cabbage, sliced finely
1.75% weight ratio of good quality salt (see above)
6 whole peppercorns
3-4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds

Method

1. Before you chop your cabbage, peel away 1-2 of good quality outer leaves and put to one side for use later.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients so that the salt is thoroughly mixed with the cabbage. If you have time, leave it for 15-30 minutes - this will help draw the moisture out of the cabbage. 
3. With clean hands (or with gloves if you don't want purple stained fingers!) begin to mix and massage the cabbage. Continue for around 5-10 minutes, until liquid squeezes out of the cabbage. This purple liquid will help the fermentation process.
4.Add all the ingredients to your sterilised jar, pushing down as you go so that no air is trapped in the bottom of the jar. Keep pushing down as you add more cabbage (the back of a wooden spoon is helpful for this). The idea is to pack everything really tightly into the jar. 
5. Once you've added all the cabbage to the jar, continue to push it down until the cabbage is submerged in some of its liquid. If your sauerkraut seems dry, leaving the jar for an hour or so between pressing down can allow more of the liquid to release. 
6. Fold the cabbage leaves you set aside at the beginning to form a 'lid' that will fit in your jar. Place this on top of the sauerkraut and again, push the ingredients down with the back of the wooden spoon. Add a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged in liquid. We use a small glass with some weights inside. Cover the jar with a fine cheesecloth. 
7.Now it's time to let the cabbage ferment! Around 7 days is the perfect amount of time. If you live in a very hot climate then you may need less time. Everyday, check on your jar and firmly push down the sauerkraut with the back of a wooden spoon. You should see air bubbles rise from the bottom of the jar. The cabbage should remain submerged in liquid.
8. After around 5-7 days, taste the sauerkraut to see if it suits your taste buds. 
9..Once your satisfied with your flavour, secure the jar with a tight lid and store in the fridge. It's now ready to be eaten and shared and should last for months if sealed well. The flavour generally improves after the sauerkraut has been in the fridge for a few days. 

Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel

Have you ever fermented anything at home? We'd love to hear your experiences! 

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The Magic of Medicinal Mushrooms

The past year or two, we've become fascinated by medicinal mushrooms. They have been pretty life changing for us and are a huge passion of ours. So much so, we're hoping to volunteer  on a mushroom farm later this year and learn all about cultivating fungi... which we're so excited for! 

We wanted to share some of our knowledge and experience of medicinal mushrooms - where to start, how to eat them, some of their benefits and our favourite companies. If your only experience of mushroom so far are the ones you buy from the supermarket, then welcome to the enormous fungi kingdom and all its magic .... 

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Images via Tumblr. 

WHAT ARE MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS?

The historical importance of mushrooms is often undervalued by mainstream society and western medicine. Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years as food, medicine and as part of spiritual practices in a range of different communities and religions. The more we learn about the fungi kingdom, the more we recognise their value in the ecosystem - they are quite literally all around us and hold so much potential! Humans are closely related to the Fungi Kingdom, therefore their benefits are lovingly received and recognised by the human body.  So what makes a medicinal mushroom any different from those you'd find in the veggie section? 

Medicinal Mushrooms are mushrooms with powerful healing properties and health benefits. When we consume these mushrooms that are rich in medicinal qualities, we absorb a variety of medicinal constituents and nutrients, increasing health and vitality.  These types of mushrooms have been such a valuable medicine for thousands of years, most notably in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). 

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HOW TO TAKE THEM

Our favourite way to use mushrooms is to make warm tonics or elixirs with nut/ oat / coconut milk. We have a recipe for our favourite cacao tonic here. You can also take the mushrooms in tincture form.  

When taking mushrooms, a small amount goes a long way. We use roughly 1/2 teaspoon each time, so although buying the mushrooms can initially feel expensive, they last for a very long time as they are so potent.


Some of our favourite mushrooms are as follows:

REISHI
Known as The Queen of the fungi kingdom and The mushroom of Immortality - reishi was the first medicinal mushroom I tried and I fell in love with immediately. The effects of this mushrooms are so calming for the nervous system - I can quite literally feel the relaxing, grounding effects when I take it. 

Reishi is best known in Chinese Medicine for its immune boosting properties and is prescribed for vitality and general wellbeing. Full of amino acids, polysaccharides, vitamins and minerals ... it's a super fungi full of healing  magic. If you're looking to start somewhere, we recommend Reishi.

CHAGA
If Reishi is the Queen of mushrooms, then Chaga is known as the healing King. Growing wild on birch trees in various parts of the world, the chaga fungus absorbs some of the powerful nutrients from the tree. It is known to be incredibly alkalising and a rich of source of antioxidants (which protect the body from free radical damage) and has been used for hundreds of years as a remedy for illnesses. Various studies have been released on the healing effects of Chaga against certain forms of cancer. (google Alexander Solzhenitsyn's book The Cancer Ward). Chaga chunks can be decocted into a powerful tea to promote immunity and wellness, or else it is available in powder form from various companies. 

CORDYCEPS
The cordyceps fungus is truly fascinating as it grows in the high altitudes of the Himalayas... on caterpillars (!). This mushroom has an incredible reputation for increasing stamina, vitality and strength. It's often referred to as being the mushroom for improving athletic performance and enhancing energy. Prescribed in TCM to support the function of the lungs and kidneys, it's also suggested to strengthen the immune system. 

LIONS MANE
Often used as a nerve tonic - Lions Mane can be taken to support nerve and brain function, as well as aiding digestion. Modern studies have shown it to be a potential medicine for helping diseases such as Alzheimers and dementia. It's rich in amino acids, minerals and can enhance the function of the immune system! 

 

RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE

 Rich Roll Podcast - Tero Isokauppila On Healing Mushrooms

The Life Stylist Podcast - The Magic of Mushrooms

TED TALK - 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World

The Chief Life Podcast - Mason Taylor on Medicinal Mushrooms

BBC Documentary - The Magic of Mushrooms

RECCOMMENDED BRANDS & PRODUCTS

UK
Hybrid Herbs
Indigo Herbs
Sun Potion (via Raw Living)

Four Sigmatic

Rest of the World
Sun Potion
Dragon Herbs
SuperFeast


 SHOP BELOW:

 

We hope you enjoyed this post...we'd love to hear about anyones experiences with medicinal mushrooms or recommendations you have!