Staying Green When the Leaves Turn Orange
Love + Joy Home's Guide to a Sustainable Autumn
So, the kids are settled back into the school routine, the nights are drawing in, the days are getting chillier. We all start craving warming soups and sweet treats. The latter even more so as Halloween, in all its consumerist, sugar-coated glory, continues to grow in popularity in the UK. The back to school bugs are doing the rounds, both the viral and the lousy kind. The good news is (both for your purse and for the environment), we can help you with all of it. With chemical free remedies and plastic free recipes; Autumn's going to be Green.
Soup For Starters
Instead of buying expensive and plastic packaged 'fresh' soups from the chiller aisle and adding to your carbon footprint with meat or poultry based recipes experiment with protein packed lentil and bean soups mixed with tasty seasonal vegetables and get creative with your favourite warming herbs and spices. To get you started, here is a wonderfully flexible and easy soup recipe which is both warming and nutritious; perfect for a cosy lunch after a leaf crunching, conker collecting Autumn walk.
As this soup contains red peppers which are high in vitamin C, sweet potatoes which are rich in vitamin A and lentils for a good hit of Zinc it is a welcome boost for your immune system as well as containing antimicrobial onion and garlic; ideal for keeping colds at bay.
All The Reds: Autumn Soup
Small amount of oil for frying
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
2 red peppers
1 cup red lentils
1 large sweet potato
400g tomatoes (either fresh and/or roasted, tinned or you can use passata)
fresh chilli/es (if you like it spicy)
1-2 tsp Spanish Paprika (to suit your taste for a smoky flavour)
500ml Kallo Organic Stock
Seasoning to taste
Fry the onion, garlic, chilli, paprika and red pepper in a little oil until soft
Add stock and peeled and chopped sweet potato, simmer for 20 minutes
Add the washed lentils, bring to the boil
Add tomatoes and simmer for a further 10 min.
Alternatively, pop it all in a roasting dish and roast for 30 minutes (minus the lentils and stock and tinned or jarred tomatoes if using them) cook the lentils in the stock for 10-15 minutes.
Blend to desired consistency, season, garnish and eat with delicious, crunchy, homemade bread.
A truly scary aspect of the Spooky Season is the amount of plastic wrapped and packed Halloween treats that sneak into the shopping aisles. You might think that a sweet wrapper or plastic lollipop stick is a small thing but they all add up. In fact, according to realbusiness.co.uk £160 million is spent annually in the UK on Halloween confectionary. Now that is a lot of sweet wrappers. However, fear not, as this Halloween Hokey Pokey or Honeycomb, is a sustainable way to please any trick or treaters who come to your door. It is also exciting for the kids to watch you make it (rather hot for littler ones to do more than spectate though) as it doubles as a sort of science experiment. Alternatively, if you are turning the lights off and pretending no-one is at home you can enjoy it all to yourself. It also cleverly rebrands itself as Cinder Toffee if you are having it on November 5th round a blazing bonfire.
Hokey Pokey/Cinder Toffee/Honeycomb
200g caster sugar
6tbsp golden syrup
1.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pop some non stick paper in a 20cm square tin/roasting dish/baking tray (you can experiment with different sizes to see whether you prefer it thicker or thinner)
Measure out your bicarb and keep it to hand
Put the golden syrup and sugar in a saucepan and BEFORE you put it on the heat stir until they are well mixed together
Put the pan on the heat until the mixture completely melts, then bubbles and turns amber (all the while resisting the urge to stir. This should take about 3-4 minutes but really look for that amber colour.
Quickly take it off the heat and whisk in the bicarbonate of soda without knocking too much air out of it; it should froth up beautifully
Tip it into your tin/dish and leave to harden; this takes about an hour then enjoy smashing it into pieces (rinse the pan with boiling water for easy cleaning).
You can either place in a bowl for any trick or treaters to grab bits or wrap portions in little squares of tissue paper; twisting the 4 gathered corners together
The Nitty Gritty
If you are a parent of school age children you will know how often head lice make their unwelcome appearance. Although they are not dangerous nor do they carry disease they are acutely uncomfortable and annoying. They are also, despite thankfully no longer carrying the stigma they once did, a bit icky.
Chemical free treatment is simple and cheap
Cover your child's hair in any kind of conditioner and comb from root to tip with a fine tooth 'nit comb' (remove and squish lice with each pass)
Repeat this process every 2-3 days for 7-10 days
Indeed, many of the over the counter chemical formulas advise you to follow the above procedure anyway as part of using their product. For those that use pyrethrins this is because their overuse has led to headlice becoming resistant to them. So why cover your child in chemicals unnecesarily!?
Add some Essential Oils
For extra peace of mind and for precautionary measures essential oils are very effective. They are not only useful for killing lice but can put them off setting up camp in the first place.
Essential Oils that are useful in battling the tiny vermin and are generally considered safe to use on children (if you use your common sense, do patch tests, follow medical/your aromatherapists advice, avoid eyes/nose/mouth/other sensitive areas) are as follows:
Tea Tree Oil
To use just mix in 10 drops of each oil to every 100ml of shampoo and conditioner and use either as above, or as normal depending on whether you are using it as a precaution or a treatment . This will work better in products which contain no SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate). This is because the purpose of SLS is to create foam/de-grease so the oils won't stay on your hair.
Banishing The Other Bugs
Essential Oils are great for dealing with bugs of all kinds. Many shop bought products which help with the relief of symptoms of coughs, colds and flu contain essential oils. Most commonly these are Eucalyptus and varieties of Mint (often compounded as Menthol). However, although both these oils are wonderful at symptomatic relief and have a host of curative properties as well you can get a bit fed up of the same smell or associate it so much with feeling rotten that it becomes unpleasant. This is especially true if the family are succumbing one by one to a cold virus (rather than everyone getting it at once) so the house can end up mentholated for weeks.
There are, luckily, a host of other Essential Oils with similar properties that can be used instead of or in conjunction with good old Eucalyptus and Mint. The list below can help you find some alternatives for diffusing when you are feeling under the weather.
Tea Tree: powerful antiseptic, antimicrobial and antiviral great for disinfecting your home (both surfaces and the air!) helping to stop spread of viruses as well as alleviate symptoms especially of coughs
Lemongrass: analgesic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, deodorising and relaxing it can also help to reduce fever
Cinnamon: antiseptic, antimicrobial, analgesic, warming, comforting and immune support
Clove Leaf: antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic and good for alleviating chesty coughs
Lemon: anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, reduces fever, detoxifying, antiviral, analgesic and anti-depressant
Ginger: antibacterial, analgesic, decongestant, eases sore throats and helps with both the woolly headed feeling and disinclination to get out of bed that often comes with a cold
Lavender: antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, relaxing, anti-inflammatory and eases headaches
Rosemary: antibacterial, analgesic, anti-fatigue, anti-inflammatory and acts as an expectorant
Cedarwood: antiseptic, anti-spasmodic (good for coughs), anti-inflammatory is a sedative and expectorant
Oregano: very potent antiviral, antibiotic and antimicrobial, supports immune system, analgesic, anti-inflammatory
Frankincense: antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, comforting and warming
Grapefruit: antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral another great oil to help prevent the spread of viruses, stimulates lymphatic drainage to help you get better faster and is an anti-depressant
Alternatively you could try some of the lovely soy wax melts and candles, many containing the above oils, made by Emma and Amanda our neighbours at Scents of Spirit
Disclaimer: Please use oils carefully, do not put directly on skin, seek advice from a doctor or qualified aromatherapist if you are unsure, also please be aware not all of these oils are suitable for children.