We have all been guilty of taking for granted the many supermarket trips in which we had an endless supply of fresh produce. This becomes even more apparent during these changing times, as we are now limited in the amount of times we can shop. This, along with other recent small changes, makes for a huge impact on daily life. With produce in low supply and limited visits to supermarkets, it’s a great time to challenge yourself to try something new and grow your own fruit and vegetables.

Regardless of the space you may have in the garden, (you can even grow it on a singular windowsill), you can still grow your own vegetables. Instead of having to aimlessly stroll around the garden centre for inspiration or guidance, we have created a step by step guide to help you discover your inner gardener.

To begin, we have focused on the fruit and vegetables that are easy to grow in limited spaces:


  1. Strawberries

Grow super fresh and delicious strawberries in just a jam jar!

Step 1: fill your jar half full with water and add soil pellets. Leave to soak for 10 minutes.

Step 2: take out the soil pellets. Squeeze out any excess water and take off their lining, then place them in the jam jar.

Step 3: plant your seeds. Place your jar in a well lit warm area, this can be in a windowsill that gets plenty of sunlight.

Step 4: once your seeds have outgrown the jar -you can replant them in a larger pot and place outside. Make sure the pot is placed in a location that gets plenty of sun or on a windowsill.


  1. Radish

Step 1: Plant the radish seeds directly in the desired pots.

Step 2: Sow the seeds 1/4 or 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart into the potting medium and gently cover them back with the mix

Step 3: Between 3 to 10 days, the seeds will germinate, and tiny plants will emerge.

Step 4: Thin out the seedlings, so they are only two inches apart and watch them grow!


  1. Tomatoes

You can start your seeds in just about anything that holds soil and has drainage holes ( even small yogurt containers with holes poked in the bottoms and waterproof saucers underneath work well).

Step 1: Have to hand, your seed-starting mix and thoroughly moisten. Then fill your chosen containers to within 1/2″ of the top. Firm the mix but don’t compact it.

Step 2: Place two or three seeds into each small container or each cell of a seed starter. Cover the seed with about 1/4″ of soil and gently firm it over the seeds.

Step 3: Water to ensure good seed-to-mix contact. You can just dribble a stream of water over the top. You don’t need to soak the soil, just moisten the top layer.

Step 4: Place the pots in a warm spot and keep the mix moist but not soaking wet. Ideally cover with cling film or an alternative.

Check pots daily. As soon as you see sprouts, remove the covering and place the pots in a sunny window or under grow lights, keeping the lights just an inch or two above the tops of the plants.


  1. Beetroot

Containers – pots, troughs, window boxes and larger containers – are all suitable, ideally ones more than 20cm (8in) deep.

Step 1: Fill containers to within 2-3cm (about 1in) of the rim with moist compost and firm the surface lightly

Step 2: Scatter seeds thinly – if they are too thick, you will have to pull some seedlings out when they emerge. Aim for seedlings roughly 4-5cm (134in) apart each way for beetroot. Cover with a 1.5cm (12in) layer of compost.

Step 3: Finely spray the surface with water

Put the containers in a sunny spot, and keep the surface of the compost moist. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, pull out unwanted ones to give the rest enough space (they won’t swell out if they are too crowded). As the plants grow, they will need more water – daily if the weather is dry. Don’t let the compost dry out.


  1. Garlic

To grow garlic greens indoors:

Step 1: Plant three or four cloves in a pot filled with potting soil.

Step 2: Sit them on a sunny window ledge and water them lightly. The garlic greens will grow in just 7 to 10 days and can be snipped.

To grow entire heads of garlic, you’ll need to plant outdoors because like other bulbs (think onions and daffodils), they need the cold winter dormancy to produce the scape (flower) and generate a head.






Salt of the earth

Established in 1993 and adopted in 2005 by mother and son team Thomas and Sally (where they started their work from Sally’s home), the Salt of the Earth brand of natural deodorants perfectly reflects their vision and passion for environmentally friendly, natural skincare products that are as effective as they are ethical.

Having started with a single deodorant, the Crystal Classic, the range has since evolved into a variety of award-winning deodorant sprays, roll-ons and travel sprays. Salt of the Earth is now a leading brand in the natural deodorant industry, stocked by a variety of retailers across the UK and in Europe including Waitrose, Ocado, Boots and Holland & Barrett.

We constantly strive to offer our customers top-quality products which don’t just offer long-lasting protection from body odour, but also have minimal impact on the environment. The deodorants themselves are 100% natural and the HDPE packaging is recyclable, but we’re continuing to further reduce plastic use through our 500ml spray refills, and by introducing a brand-new plastic-free Crystal Stick, supplied in a handsome cardboard box.  

You can also rest assured we’re against any form of animal testing.

Further to this, Salt of the Earth is now one of the best-selling natural deodorants in the Netherlands and won Best New Brand in 2017 at the Beauty Astir Awards.

Our products:

10 Immune System Boosters for Seniors

1. Consider herbal supplements or multivitamins.

An option for fighting infections and increasing nutrients, seniors should talk to their doctors first before adding herbs such as echinacea, ginseng, multivitamins or probiotics to their regimen.

2. Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet.

Older people tend to eat less and have less variety in their diets. Fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene, vitamins C and E and zinc are essential to good health. So is maintaining a low-fat, low-sugar diet that incorporates lean proteins and whole grains.

3. Exercise.

Regular physical activity promotes circulation and heart health and relaxes the body and mind. Bicycle rides, walks, yoga classes and other forms of exercise help boost a senior’s immune system performance and ward off infections.

4. Get vaccinated.

Flu vaccines have shown to be effective for around one-quarter of older adults. Seniors who get the flu vaccine have significantly lower rates of sickness.

5. Reduce stress.

Stress has been linked to a number of illnesses, including heart disease and stomach problems. Whether it’s isolation, social stress or another form, stress can suppress a senior’s immune system, making them more susceptible to viruses.

6. Sleep.

One of the best natural immune system boosters, sleep helps us respond better to inflammation and stress. It’s also shown to improve our response to the flu vaccine.

7. Stay hydrated.

Seniors tend to sense thirst less than younger people. But older people need at least eight to nine glasses of fluid a day to keep mucous membranes moist, which lowers the chances of flu or colds. Coffee, soup, tea and water all count.

8. Stay positive.

healthy outlook on life boosts endorphins, which make us feel good. Seniors who keep up with activities and hobbies that make them happy have a better chance of staying healthy and positive.

9. Try some superfoods.

Foods like avocados, berries, broccoli and kale have been shown to improve immune system performance. Some superfoods even boost cognitive function and help fight dementia.

10. Wash hands.

Washing hands regularly scrubs away germs. Covering coughs and sneezes helps prevent diseases from spreading.

Illness isn’t inevitable, but good habits lend to keeping seniors happy and healthy so they can enjoy the most out of life.

Do you know of any other immune system boosters for seniors that we should add to our list? We’d like to hear your suggestions

What to eat before a 5K or 10K run

Get ready, set…eat! Before heading out for a run, it’s important to make sure you are properly fuelled so that you have enough energy to go the distance. Eating the right foods, at the right time, can not only help you run better and for longer, it can also help avoid stomach cramps, dizziness and falling energy levels. To help with this, today I am going to look at what to eat before a 10k.

1. Eat – Low GI foods

The glycaemic index (GI) is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates. It measures how quickly these foods are digested and how soon they affect blood sugar (glucose) levels after being eaten. The faster the body breaks these down, and blood glucose rises, the higher the GI rating.

According to our Nutritionist Emma Thornton, it’s important for runners to eat foods containing low GI carbs, particularly in the 2-3 hours before a run, as these foods release energy slower and at a more sustained rate. She says: “This will help to preserve energy stores in the muscles and should allow fat sources to be used thus ensuring energy levels are higher for longer.”

It is particularly important to avoid all high GI foods in the 20 minute window prior to exercise as there can be a physiological effect attached to the drop in blood glucose at this time. This means energy gels are one to watch as they can be packed with sugar, meaning their effects on your energy levels may not be very long-lasting.

Low GI foods:

  • Oats
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Dried apricots
  • Oranges

. Eat – healthy carbohydrates

When it comes to carbohydrates, it is important not to overload as this group of foods can leave you feeling sluggish and bloated. However, eating a small amount of carbs the morning before a big run should help to see you through. That’s because carbs are able to boost stores of glycogen which serves as a source of energy.

Before a 10k, aim to have around 1/3 of your meal made up with carbs and use fish, meat and vegetables to fill up the other proportions.

Healthy carbohydrate foods:

  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Wholegrain bread
  • Potato
  • Porridge
  • Cereal

3. Eat – protein

A little bit of protein before a race can help you feel full for a longer period of time – as a rough guide, around ¼ of your dinner plate should be made up of protein. On top of this, protein is really important for the muscles as it is used to build and repair tissue there. It makes up tendons, for example, as well as ligaments, collagen and elastin, the latter of which is essential for repair work. This means it is important to get protein both before and after a run.

Read our blog ‘How much protein do you really need?’ for further information on protein.
Protein-rich foods:

  • Beans
  • Pulses
  • Fish
  • Eggs

4. Eat – healthy fats

Nutritionist Emma Thornton says that we mustn’t forget about eating healthy fats before a run. These provide fuel to sustain the body through a long distance and help support the absorption of multiple nutrients too. Healthy fats also help support the health of the muscles and joints.

Emma says: “Healthy fats should make up 1/4 to 1/3 of our daily diet so these should feature during periods of training, although you might want to reduce this intake in the few hours prior to running as they are much slower to digest.”

Foods containing healthy fats:

  • Flaxseed
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Tofu
  • Fish


When was the last time you spent time outside and enjoyed the benefits of nature?

study  found that most people spent a mere half-day outside each week. If you’re struggling to remember or you’ve realised that it’s been a while, you should consider shaking this up, read on to find out why.

Regular time spent outside in nature is key to a healthy lifestyle. Technology is improving in leaps and bounds to the point where we can experience other worlds from the comforts of our living room through virtual reality, but it will never be able to recreate the wonderful benefits the outside has to offer us.

Here are the key benefits of nature.


It helps to reduce stress

Nature has been found to have a calming quality on our stress levels. Beautiful natural surroundings and scenery can feel like worlds away from our home and work life and consequently causes us to put any associated stress on the back burner. A study explored the effect of nature on the stress hormone cortisol. The study focused on two separate groups of students, one group remained in the city whilst the other group was taken on a hiking and camping venture on a break from school. Lower levels of cortisol were found in the students who took part in the hiking and camping experience.

It builds our focus

Actively getting outside breaks up our working day, which for the vast majority takes part indoors whether it be an office, classroom or vehicle. Being inside for too long can cause us to become overwhelmed, particularly as a lot of our work takes place face-to-face with a computer screen which can have a negative effect on our focus levels.

Several studies have supported the notion that outdoor activities helps to attune our attention and focus levels. One study tasked three separate groups with a proofreading assignment after experiencing different activities, these included a walk through the city, a walk out in nature and relaxing indoors. The group who took a walk out in nature performed the best on the task. A separate study carried out in Finland found that students who engaged in outdoor activities tended to gain better academic achievements.

It could help support the immune system

Our immune systems improve when we face different environments, when we stay in one environment it can become somewhat stuck – it thrives from a challenge. A study carried out in Japan found the number of white blood cells in adults after a weekend trip to a forest increased. White blood cells play a key role in the immune system – they fend off unwelcome antibodies and diseases.

This study proves that a stride out into nature can help to strengthen the immune system.

It positively impacts physical health

The very act of walking, cycling or running in nature has a positive impact on our physical health. On the one hand you’ll be exposed to the wonders of vitamin D from the sunlight, on the other hand the rough and ready terrain forces you to work harder than you would on a flat treadmill or tarmacked running track; this consequently burns more energy.


Do you ever hit a slump at certain points of the day? No matter how productive we all want to be, we’re all prone to a little dip in concentration, and who could blame us? We’re inundated with temptations to focus our attentions anywhere else than our tasks at hand – we can watch Youtube or check social media anytime, anywhere. But that’s only half the battle when it comes to staying mentally active, there are a number of other contributing factors – frequency of exercise, the state of your diet and ways of working to name a few.

We’ve zoomed in on each of these areas to dissect how you can retain and improve concentration throughout the day.


The Impact of Exercise

As a majority of our day-to-day working activities can be conquered at our computer screens, us humans are sitting down more than we ever have. And with that comes an onslaught of issues – you only need to gaze over the potential repercussions detailed on the NHS to understand.

One way to combat this and keep yourself mentally active is to engage in regular exercise, many studies have linked physical activity to concentration levels. A study on Dutch school children found that pupils became better at multi-tasking, resisting distractions and retaining information when classes were broken up with 20 minutes of aerobic exercise.

With this in mind, here are some ideas on how to stay active:

Walking & Getting Outside

One of the biggest excuses for not exercising is a lack of time. Well, there are plenty of ways to make exercise work in your favour when it comes your day-to-day which we tackled in our healthy eating and exercise for busy lifestyles. You could try walking to work, or if that’s not achievable at least make a part of your journey on foot. Otherwise, you can make the most of your lunchbreak by taking a walk around the block or in a nearby park. Being outside in nature alone holds many benefits in itself. Alongside a boost in focus, it also helps to reduce feelings of stress and positively impacts our general health.

A simple way of boosting your mental activity throughout the day is to shake up your seated position at your desk for something different.

Standing Desks

Standing desks have already swept offices all around the country, and for good reason. A study in Minneapolis looked into the effects of standing desks in an office environment over a 7 week period, the study concluded that workers experienced a reduced feeling of fatigue and stress after using standing desks. Elsewhere, standing desks have proved to reduce back pain and strain and may lower blood pressure.

The Impact of Diet  

Your diet has an incredibly powerful effect on your mental state throughout the day – you need to stay loyal to your meal times and fill it with a good balance of foods.

Don’t Forget Breakfast!

A lot of people hold off from eating breakfast until they get to work these days. In fact, it’s better to eat within the first hour of waking up – your naturally low sugar levels upon waking will be fed which, in turn, keeps you energised and mentally active for extended periods of time.

Healthy Snacking

In terms of snacking, berries, bananas and nuts are your friends. These foods contain the most rewarding properties when it comes to needing a boost of energy which in return allows you to remain focussed. Here’s some wider reading on those foods:

Our TREK bars at Natural Balance Foods consist of a simple mixture of fruits, oats and protein crunchies so you know you’re getting nutritional, no nonsense snacking. Explore the range of TREK Protein Energy Bars and TREK Energy Chunks to stock up your snack box.


Iron deficiency is directly linked to feelings of fatigue so it’s important to keep iron present in your diet to keep yourself mentally active throughout the day. Iron helps the body to produce a vital strand of protein called hemoglobin which assists in the passing of oxygen from your lungs to your body. Pistachio nuts, a sea vegetable called dulse and lentils are all great examples of iron-rich foods.


Article –

Sleep Easy – the story behind Pukka Night Time tea blend

One of the beautiful things about working with herbs is the way they can help our sense of wellbeing every day. We all need our beauty sleep we all need to find something that could help slow us down when the end of the day beckoned.

This is where Night Time tea came from. Pukka knew about the soothing wonders of oatstraw flowers, and started giving it to friends after a fine meal together. mixed it with lavender flowers, and relax into the softness of the night. Chamomile flowers, tulsi leaf and some valerian root joined the slumber blend. Everyone loved the taste and feel so much, it made sense to blend it for the perfect Night Time.

The joy is that such beautiful plants can have such an effect. Blessed by being able to help so many people since Pukka made this tea – people who are waking up refreshed and waking up to the wonders of organic herbs too.



If you’re interested in health and fitness or follow a plant-based diet, you’ve probably heard of pulses or may already be consuming them whether you’re aware of it or not. Read on to discover more about what pulses are, the role they play in our diet and why they’re considered to be a fantastic source of nutrition.   

So, what are pulses?

Pulses are a strand of the legume family (legumes are plants that grow in pods), specifically they are the seed part of legumes. This means pulses are mainly comprised of lentils, beans and peas.

Here is a short list of some example pulses:

  • Dry beans
  • Lentils
  • Faba Beans
  • Cowpeas
  • Bambara beans
  • Pigeon peas

Why are they so great? What are the benefits of pulses?

In short, there are a ton of essential nutrients packed into pulses and are therefore considered to be an incredibly positive addition to a healthy diet. Here are the main reasons why pulses pack such a nutritional punch.

They’re full of protein

Pulses are a fantastic plant-based source of protein making it an especially important food for vegans and vital for maintaining a healthy vegan diet. You’ll find roughly 15g of protein in a cup of pulses. They’re celebrated for being a low-fat type of protein especially when compared to other sources such as meat, fish and certain types of nuts. Explore more vegan sources of protein here.

They’re rich in fibre

Fibre is a key part of a healthy and balanced diet. Pulses are regarded as a strong source of fibre due to the presence of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Here’s a quick definition of both types:

  • Soluble fibre – helps to control blood sugar levels, body weight and lower cholesterol.
  • Insoluble fibre – helps digestion and regulation of the digestive system

This means it’s not only beneficial to heart health but it makes positive contributions to gut-health, too.

They’re a strong source of folate

Folate is a B vitamin which is required for the production and maintenance of new cells making it an especially important nutrient for growth. The presence of folate in pulses means the ingredient is a beneficial addition to diets for children and pregnant women.

Pulses also have a valuable impact on the environment and provide fantastic inspiration in the kitchen, too.

They’re friendly to the environment

Nitrogen-rich soil is required in order for crops to successfully grow. Pulses are a nitrogen-fixing plant and therefore make significantly less impact on the environment due to their natural ability to grow without the help of fertilizers or pesticides. In fact, they increase the presence of nitrogen in the soil leaving a healthy patch for new crops to grow and thrive.

They’re versatile as a cooking ingredient


Plants aren’t only good for giving your offices, living rooms and bedrooms an aesthetic spruce of life, they’re also living organisms that interact with your body in ways that enhance your quality of life! Even though we don’t notice it, under our noses plants are helping to create the environment around you a better place psychologically, physically and mentally. Here are some key facts about why plants at work and home are good for you.

Plants purify the air

Plants have large surface areas and naturally absorb VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) and air pollutants around us through their leaves and roots which in turn helps to improve the conditions around you such as.

  • They help to reduce carbon dioxide
  • They keep the air temperature down
  • They reduce airborne dust levels

Some of the best plants for purifying indoor air are spider plants, English ivy, Japanese Royal Plants, aloe vera and peace lilies.

Plants have psychological value

It might sound strange, but plants have strong spiritual and psychological link to us. Looking after the plants and growing them can relieve everyday stress. Additionally, the process of growing a plant can build in a sense of responsibility. Some studies have found that growing plants is one of the ways to improve mental well-being at any age.

Plants increase productivity

Plenty of studies have demonstrated the direct ‘influence of plants’. How it boosts productivity, improves concentration and memory. According to a study of University of Michigan, plants can increase memory retention by 20 percent. Simultaneously, Norwegian studies shows that workers productivity elevate in the presence of plants. “Keeping ornamental plants in the home and in the workplace increases memory retention and concentration,” says Texas A&M. “Work performed under the natural influence of ornamental plants is normally of higher quality and completed with a much higher accuracy rate than work done in environments devoid of nature.”

Best plants for your desk

Choosing the right plant is not always an easy decision, especially when you’re not a plant guru and can only make a choice on looks alone. Here is a selection of the best plants to introduce to your work desk:

  • Devil’s Ivy – easy to care for and adapts to a number of different office environments (e.g. low-light to bright lights)
  • Bromeliads – low maintenance and a beautiful piece with vibrant red colours
  • Cacti – this one is incredibly easy to look after with little-to-no water required, just make sure you give it a bit of light
  • Dracaena – bursting with colourful leaves and can survive in some of the harshest conditions meaning it should last you a long time

Herbs to help your focus, clarity and drive

The modern busy lifestyle of juggling work, family and relationships means that our exposure to so called ‘stress’ is high, affecting our inherent focus, clarity and drive.

Just as we need to support our body to make it strong and resilient, we also need to support our mind. Awareness, consciousness and experience all contribute towards how the mind learns, processes and reacts.

In Ayurveda, India’s ancient health system, an individual’s sense of consciousness is known as ‘buddhi’ and it is this that helps us to determine and discriminate, ultimately manifesting in our actions and state of awareness.

It’s likened to a mirror that can ‘reflect’ the truth and help guide us to our true ‘Buddha’ nature. Ashwagandha and tulsi ( or holy basil) are two key herbs in Ayurveda that can help build resistance to stress and enhance the mind.

Ashwagandha for the body and mind


In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is known as a ‘rasayana’ meaning a rejuvenative. Rasayanas enhance both the quality and quantity of life, nourish the mind and enhance vigour; a truly superior rejuvenative tonic to the whole body and mind.

Interestingly the Sanskrit word ‘ashwagandha’ is translated as ‘the smell of a horse’ which reflects its ability to bring you the essence of a horse; strength, stamina and focus.

Tulsi to wash away the blues

Tulsi is a very special plant. For thousands of years it has been worshipped by Hindus, who consider it to be an avatar of the Goddess Laxmi. Many Indian villages dedicate shrines to the plant and also use its bark to make meditation beads.

Tulsi supports emotional wellbeing and eliminates the ‘blues’. It brings mental clarity whilst also relaxing the nervous system, clearing mental fog and calming a racing mind. It restores adrenal glands which have become exhausted by trauma, depression or anxiety through modulating our internal stress response. A truly clarifying herb.

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