So You Say You Want A Revolution

The V&A's Retrospective On The Counter-Culture & What it Has to Say About Our Neo-Hippy Now

It's not exactly breaking news to say that many of us are drawing parallels between the Days of Revolution: Recent Past (i.e. the '60s/'70s) and now; everywhere you look in fashion, music and popular culture, we are going all braless and protest-y.  And quite understandably; on both sides of the political spectrum in the West, there is a swell of dissatisfaction, confusion and anger at the "establishment", whatever that means to you.  Wherever you look, there are references to the historic protests around the civil rights movement, equal rights movement and peace demonstrations, and the slogans of that era are being reinterpreted & repurposed to give voice to current frustrations.

Of course this was the era that also brought us that brand of Californian, holistic wellness that we are seeking to understand here at Life Butter, and so I thought it would be interesting to check out the Victoria & Albert's retrospective You Say You Want A Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 to see if it held any insights into the incredible growth of the wellness industry, currently valued at $3.72 TRILLION globally.  I've also been a long-term fan of '70s style...particularly that look that involves not cutting or brushing your hair.  đŸ˜œ So off I went.

The exhibition was good fun; it was well-curated & had a great variety of materials to see & hear (sponsored by Sennheiser, you walked through with headphones taking you on an audio journey of the era, and a big-screen, 28-minute musical film on Woodstock at the end looked promising, though I didn't get to stay to watch as I had a 2-year old in tow).  Liberal economic politics, social change in the form of equalising rights and loosening strict moral codes, recreational drugs, The Beatles, The Stones & David Bowie (we are in London, after all), Mary Quant & Chelsea Girl style and Californian communes were all explored in vibrant relief.  But more than just another baby-boomer group hug on The Glory That Be Theirs (Which Will Never Be Matched), the exhibition also sought to draw parallels between then & now, though definitely with its own angle (excellent review on the slant here).

While the exhibition didn't explicitly examine any of the tenets of wellness per se, the spirit of revolution that categorised the Counter-Culture & called the young to divorce themselves from the "establishment" (remember: don't trust anyone over 30) is the same essence that is breathing life (and megabucks) into contemporary wellness.  The specifics matter less; whether your wellness jam is grass-fed beef and ghee or sprouted mushroom protein shakes and actual jam, a large part of the movement is against the "man" that is McDonalds.  Industrialised food, fast food, packaged anything is out: remember, don't trust your mother's cooking (if you grew up on the S.A.D. anyway!).  The young today are shockingly like The Beatles (who could be their (grand)parents), "we all want to change the world", we're just going to do it with our dollars.  According to a Neilsen, 73% of millennials are prepared to pay more for products and services from companies dedicated to social and environmental change, while 80% of global customers agree that companies must play a role in addressing societal issues, according to Edelman’s 2016 Trust Barometer (source).

 Jam/jelly...Beyoncé is always relevant

Jam/jelly...Beyoncé is always relevant

So...what does that have to do with exercise, meditation, health eating...crystal healing & sleep?

Well, we all know that the baby boomers and the generation that WILL NOT GO AWAY; their story & legacy, and therefore much of this exhibition, didn't seem novel...until I got to the very end.

 We will forever be your muses

We will forever be your muses

The exhibition concluded in a way that I didn't expect - showing the links between technology as an important tool of the Counter-Culture in creating anti-establishment, independent societies (think these Californian communes) and our use of technology today.  I might be alone, but I had never thought of the hoodie-wearing, Soylent drinking (someone please EXPLAIN THIS?!?!) Silicon Valley of today as a continuation of Californian hippiedom.  But if technology is the agent of revolution, and the agent of community (as it is so often said to be), it is also increasingly becoming the tool of commerce, with retailers not only encouraging e-commerce (duh), but using apps to track consumer movements, tailor specific discounts and nudge shoppers towards a purchase.  Here's the link to an interview Joseph Turow gave on his new book The Aisles Have Eyes; have a read or a listen if you want a forecast of all the new & sneaky ways retailers will use technology to separate you from your cash. 

So what does this all have to do with wellness? It's about the MONEY behind youth & revolution.  Because wellness is about revolution, right?  Or is it about luxury? Because feeling good is the new looking good, and every big brand is on board.

I don't have a problem with this; more money behind holistic health, beauty & wellness (hopefully) means that it becomes easier & cheaper to make healthy choices.  This too follows the trend of the 60s, when mass production decreased the price of all manner of "things", and so the generation of social change also became the generation of hedonism, consumerism and the credit card (according to a slightly pessimistic V&A).

But while I'm not completely anti-consumerism, I think it has an incredible ability to Dilute The Message (see this excellent mini-rant on this phenom in the fitness industry by ELLE UK Fitness Editor Bangs).  And if, as discussed in a previous post, wellness is really about community, then I really think we need to keep the message strong these days.

There was an image in the exhibition that really struck me; it was of Jean Shrimpton walking barefoot, barelegged & seemingly carefree down a wild Kings Road; Mary Quant's archetypal Chelsea Girl.  With the best will in the world towards all Chelsea Girls, that phrase connotes something a bit different today.

So I'll buy organic greens, I'll buy a gym pass...hell, I might even buy some palo santo..but I want to keep the end in mind.  Why am I doing all of this?  It's worth remembering.

Viva La Revolucion!

Last Words: What Are Your Final Phrases Before Sleep?

What do you do right before you go to bed?  Do you diarise like Pepys or Richard Burton, complaining about politics, the prostitute who ripped your trousers (you'd think that was Burton but you would be WRONG) or writing about your wife's amazing figure (apparently ping pong kept Liz Taylor looking good...who knew?)?  Maybe journalising isn't your scene, so you opt for a bedtime story? Or do you say a special nighttime mantra before you meditate, you full-on wellness queen you.

 Or maybe you say it all with your gorgeous eyes

Or maybe you say it all with your gorgeous eyes

We are wrapping up our look at sleep on Life Butter Radio, and wanted to take a little look at the last words of the day, whether these are words you write, say or read.  

So You're a Writer

2016 was a year of the Headspace app at Life Butter London HQ.  Founder Andy Puddicombe is both the creator and voice behind the popular app (kind of like our host Kari!), and his sleep series is especially soothing.  Camille Rowe finds him "dreamy" (at 12:35), so it's not just us. 

In the first Headspace Sleep meditation, Andy asks you to recall what you did that day, starting from when you woke up.  The exercise is only 10 minutes in total, so you aren't dwelling on any particular moment for too long, but just flowing through the rhythm of what you did from the time you awoke to the time you got into bed and started the meditation at a smooth, reasonable pace.  Andy's approach is backed up by science, and the idea is that gently scrolling (again in your mind, not on your phone) through the events of the day clears your mind of anything that happened that you might be hung up on, calms you and prepares your brain to switch off.  So if you are a writer, pre-bedtime might be a great time to set down a few lines aboutsq what went on during your day...provided you don't do it on a computer, or get super rant-y.

So You're a Reader

In chatting with friends, it became clear that the one thing that helps all of us shut down our brains and get ready for Zzzzs is getting involved in a story that has nothing to do with you or your day-to-day life.  This is one of the reasons that so many of us like to switch off to the tunes (or explosions, these days) of a boxset, or the alt-reality of a Real Housewives franchise before bed.  But we know that at least in the hour before we want to sleep, it's time to switch off the box (and our phone) and wind down.  Enter the old-fashioned bedtime story.

Sales of physical books were up in 2016, and we think there's a correlation.  More of us are reading fiction in our daily lives, not just on the beach or on the train.  And as we've been reading our fair share of Good Night Moon as of late, we've been thinking about the bedtime stories that stay with you...the fairy tales that take you to places far away, where anything real that could possibly be stressing you out is a distant memory.  One of ours growing up?  The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.  Unicorns, talking butterflies and handsome princes?  Magic.

 Back off depressing news, I'm reading about unicorns

Back off depressing news, I'm reading about unicorns

So You're a Talker

 Us too Jeff

Us too Jeff

Honestly, we don't know anyone IRL who actually recites mantras before they go to bed, but they exist (just like unicorns, winky-face).  So somewhere out there, there are people who are saying just a few last words, again & again, to clear their brain out before they go to bed.  It seems like it'd work, and maybe one of these days we'll give it a try.

We do know quite a few people who pray before bed - classic.  Though in theory this seems potentially stress-inducing as you are going over worries and concerns, this apparently also helps us clear these worries out of our burdened brains so that we are ready to sleep.  And if you caught Episode 4 of Life Butter Radio, you'll understand why so many traditional prayers ask for God's protection and commend the soul to heaven...fear of dying in the night was very real (and sadly, in some places, still is).  No matter what else you are doing before you go to sleep, sparing a thought or two for someone else and wishing them well, and maybe commending yourself to something higher seems a good way to end the day.

 Prayer: releasing worries and connecting to community and spirit before sleep. 

Prayer: releasing worries and connecting to community and spirit before sleep. 

Many of us need a little escapism these days, so what are you reading, writing or saying before Zzz?

And if you DO need a little help, check out Episode 6 of Life Butter Radio, a special ep that was written, designed and performed to send you off to dreamland.  We hope you enjoy.   

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Nourish: Happy Heart Day!

It's Almost Valentine's Day!

February 14 is right around the corner, and we've been observing the tone of the 2017 Valentine's Day press with despair...maybe it's just here in the UK, but everything we see about this AMAZING holiday reeks of snark.  We know that's part of the British modus operandi, and yet it just seems unnecessary this year with all the other actually, meaningfully disturbing events flying around.  Love it, hate it, meh about it, can we all at least agree that Valentine's Day is the one bright light in the bleak armpit of the year that is February?  Single, taken, heartbroken, or hopeful, even the completely asexual should get on board with this fabulous holiday, because it is an immense excuse to indulge in sensory pleasure, whether that's scent, taste, an overload of pink kitsch, or all of the above.  This is a holiday that really overdoes it in style, so ladies and gents, let's get camp.

 Fact: there is no film as camp as Valley of the Dolls

Fact: there is no film as camp as Valley of the Dolls

Growing up, Valentine's Day was one of our host's favourite holidays because she was guaranteed to receive a flower & some zebra-striped Hershey's from Mom.  Honestly, did the holiday kisses ever taste as good as the normal ones?  Who cares; the pastel foil was everything, and the high you got from your chocolate kiss rivalled even the thrill you'd get from holding hands with your crush at the couples-skate at the local roller rink (anyone else?  We'd moisturise our hands for days in anticipation!).  Hand on heart, Mom's Valentine's Day care packs were always more hotly-anticipated and satisfying than gifts from boyfriends.  They were everything this saccharine holiday should be; sweet, slightly juvenile (in a nostalgic way!), girly and loaded with love from someone you knew really meant it & always would.  Aw!  In the purgatory between New Year's Eve and Easter, this day of all things pink really stood out.  And honestly, what's wrong with pink?  Sometimes it seems like this color has been so co-opted by "chic" that you can't admit to loving the OG Barbie look without being accused of regression.  To all the bubblegum pink haters, I invite you to spend VDay 2017 watching Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion, where their "fun, frisky use of color" comes out on top.  YES.

 Not a modern look?  R&M tell you to suck it

Not a modern look?  R&M tell you to suck it

 This is the amount of snark we can handle these days. - and the color!

This is the amount of snark we can handle these days. - and the color!

But there are some understandable reasons why people love to hate on Valentine's Day.  It's commercial, it seems kind of unnecessary, and it can come across as a kick in the bits to those without a significant other.  So I am inviting you to interpret this holiday another way - consider it an invitation to indulge in stuff YOU LOVE.  That could be all manner of things...but at Life Butter HQ, it is going to be all manner of chocolates, flowers, hearts and make up, because we are saps, and because a little bit of pink cheer seems very necessary these days!  Who says rosĂ© is just for summer anyway?  

So now that you're fully on board the Glitterbomb Express, here's a little run down of what I'll be binging on in the run-up to heart day.

Sugar Bomb

These days, no matter what your wellness foodie tribe, refined sugar is enemy number 1.  RIP, Be-Mine sweethearts.  That's probably for the best, but what is wellness replacing with these bubblegum giddiness-bombs?  Let me guess...brownies sweetened with mejool dates, maple syrup or other "safe" sugars?  Or maybe just a delivery of fresh fruit, which for the stricty-strict no sugar crowd is still a mega concession?

Pass.  We'll be baking up some homemade treats for sure (and especially for the kiddie brunch we have planned), but we've also stocked up on a few select staples..because even if they are kind of disgusting in a certain way, in another way these treats are actually amazing.  Why weren't these Reese's hearts around in the '90s?  *Not thinking about the food colouring*...#yesplease

 
 

BUT, to be real-real, we'll also be grabbing some dairy-free chocolate...because we won't be eating Reese's on the daily (or will we?)

 
 

Glam

So here's  little secret: we like to watch YouTube make up tutorials while making dinner.  We love this space; YouTubers are immensely talented, and it's both fun & relaxing to see what these creative minds dream up.  Especially the guys!  Not so much for replicating necessary, but how much fun are these VDay inspired tuts?  YouTube make up artists truly BLOW OUR MINDS, and Valentine's Day is the most fun make up event on these channels after Halloween!  The 50 Shades Darker look is really creative, but what about that pink eye look with the lace choker?  Yes!

Sparkle Scent Bomb

Just barely above the sophistication level of Victoria's Secret perfume (Heavenly, anyone?), LadurĂ©e does home & beauty!  They have a range of candles that smell essential of variations of butter and sugar, and a violet powderpuff that looks as if it were taken straight from the set of I Dream of Jeanie.  The candle jars make pretty make up brush holders once they burn down, though the scent is so strong that it may take you a while to get through them!

 
 

So what will you be indulging in this Valentine's Day?  Hopefully more than your loathing of the holiday - go out (or stay in) and engage with something you truly enjoy!  You'll be the happier for it, whether romance is on your mind or not.

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Sleep - Follow Along on The Food Medic's Blog!

Of course you know Hazel Wallace, because she is not only all over instagram, but was recently featured in both Women's Health and on TV advertising Linwoods sprinkles (see below).  What?  Health bloggers have officially arrived!

What we love about Hazel here at Life Butter is that she is not only the very definition of a badass modern woman in that she works a pretty intense day as a junior doctor, still makes time for quick, effective workouts, healthy eating and her nearest & dearest, but she is also a passionate health advocate who views a healthy lifestyle as a longterm game.  If you don't already follow thefoodmedic on social media, go and check her out - you won't be sorry.

We are delighted to be a part of Hazel's growing online community as a guest blogger.  On a monthly basis, we'll be sharing better-sleep strategies: implementing what we've learned so far in season 1 of Life Butter Radio, and creating habits that will help us all get better sleep.  We're really excited about this project, because it's one thing to passively hear about the importance of getting more sleep, and another entirely to implement some changes to help you get it.  Our first post went live today - click through the link below to see our first tip for Hazel's readers.

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Sleep, Toddlers and Inner Rage...Anyone Else?

Our host is doing full time childcare at the moment.  We all know (and if you don't check out Episode 5 of Life Butter Radio) that babies and sleep do not always go together as well as they should.  But toddlers aren't always much easier, which is why this story debuted at No. 1 on the NYT Bestseller list when it came out in 2011.

We've got more on bedtime stories coming up, but for now, here's a little something for parents of little ones who are just discovering their night owl selves. 

Sleep Sanctuary: Rituals, Art, Linens and Magic

It's January, and we're still obsessed with sleep.  Is there any other way to get through this month? And we are not alone; bored of kale, the wellness industry has turned its attention to new foods full of colour and promise, and, as we know, sleep.  So chances are, you've already heard quite a bit about sleep, even if you haven't been listening to Life Butter Radio! You should, though.

In our last episode, we talked about sleep before the internet, television, central heating and light bulbs with Dr. Sasha Handley.  Her book takes a look at sleep in Early Modern England, and charts our attitudes, our approaches and our understanding of sleep in this period.  It also includes images of beautiful historical bedlinen, sleepwear and art; any fan of a good historical drama would swoon.  Think richly embroidered linens, bed curtains, stained glass and even magical markings made with candles.  All of this got us thinking about the bedroom as a sanctuary - a place of calm and beauty.  Which is not exactly how our bedrooms tend to be set up these days...we might not have a tv, and we're trying to keep our smart-everything out of the bedzone, but even so, we're not exactly achieving spa-like conditions at LB HQ.

In search of some inspiration, we thought I'd be fun to ask Dr. Handley a bit about the rituals, magic and beauty of the bedroom in Early Modern England, and come up with some modern day equivalents - sleep aids for the romantic who is thinking more candles and soft fabrics than sleep trackers and retro alarm clocks.  Scroll âŹ‡ïž for a little look.

School Us Dr. Handley

Q: Is it fair to say that everyone in early modern England, from the very rich to the very poor, made an effort to somehow sanctify places that they dedicated to nightly sleep?

 'Young Bateman's ghost, or, a godly warning to all maidens', London, 1760, the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University

'Young Bateman's ghost, or, a godly warning to all maidens', London, 1760, the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University

Sleeping in a 'safe' and secure place was important to everyone: rich and poor, man, woman and child. But people's sense of what constitutes 'safety' does of course differ greatly. Many early modern people sought a degree of physical enclosure during sleep, and bedtime was usually accompanied by a variety of prayers that begged for God's protection during the vulnerable hours of sleep. Some even wore charms or amulets to bed in the hope that they would provide a degree of protection from danger during these unconscious hours.

 Modern take on the protective Hand of Fatima

Modern take on the protective Hand of Fatima

 Pretty & protective; dream catchers of lore trap bad dreams

Pretty & protective; dream catchers of lore trap bad dreams

Q: How did men and women use bedlinen, sleeping clothes and other textiles to help ensure that they got a good night's sleep?

A large quantity of early modern bedding textiles were home-made; hemp could be grown, spun and bleached at home and turned into linen to be embroidered and then placed on the bed. People often had a personal relationship to the bedding that surrounded them during the night, which, it seems offered a sense of comfort and reassurance. Linen was also prized for its cleanliness - cleansing the skin that it enclosed and providing a protective barrier against dreaded bed-bugs and even diabolical spirits.

 Bedcover, England, c. 1786, Object No. T.20-1938, © courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Bedcover, England, c. 1786, Object No. T.20-1938, © courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

 Black flax linen may comfort

Black flax linen may comfort

 Spirt animal?  This monochrome wolf seems protective

Spirt animal?  This monochrome wolf seems protective

Enchanted forest duvet set for kids

Q: How important was the feel of the linen used?  Was comfort as important as decoration for these materials?

Yes, I'm sure that 'comfort' was extremely important to people's experiences of sleep and textiles didn't need to be beautiful or decorative to provide that - most of us remember a sheet or a blanket to which we were particularly attached, because of the way it felt against our skin. Linen, depending on its quality, offered a smooth and cool sensation to those that touched it, something that strengthened linen's reputation as the premium bedding textile of choice in these years.

 The Brooklinen Classic Hardcore set; hiplinen for hipster living

The Brooklinen Classic Hardcore set; hiplinen for hipster living

 Cashmere blanket - sensory pleasure for little ones and babies alike.  Probably won't stay white for long though!

Cashmere blanket - sensory pleasure for little ones and babies alike.  Probably won't stay white for long though!

Q: Who made bedlinen in early modern England?  Was this part of a bride's trousseau, or purchased/commissioned?

Bedlinen could be made domestically - often in anticipation of, or following a marriage, but it could also be commissioned and purchased from local tradespeople or specialist linen-drapers, which were springing up at a rapid rate throughout the early modern period - especially in large urban centres like London.  

Q: Was the bedcap a thing for both men and women?  I have to confess to sleeping with a hat on during temperature wars with my flatmates while studying!

Bedcaps (which had a wide variety of names) were used by men, women and children. Their materials were adapted to suit the wearer, and to suit the season of the year - heavier velvets were often used in the winter-time, whilst lighter, more breathable textiles were preferred for the summer months.

 Stained glass window of Tobias and Sarah on their Wedding Night. c. 1520, © couresy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Stained glass window of Tobias and Sarah on their Wedding Night. c. 1520, © couresy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

 Not quite a sleeping cap, but velvet and rather pretty

Not quite a sleeping cap, but velvet and rather pretty

Q: Let's talk about art: what sorts of imagery was popular in early modern England for the bedside?

It's pretty tricky to reconstruct the 'norm' here - for those that could afford it, expensive portraits featuring biblical scenes or the images of loved ones might be commissioned, but 'art' might also apply to the decorative motifs that were commonly found on bedding textiles - intricate flower designs, animals, exotic Chinese figures with parasols, and the (Indian-inspired) tree of life motif are just some of the image that surrounded sleepers in these years.

 A little later, but William Morris' famous Arts & Crafts bed at Kelmscott Manner is lavishly embroidered with the motif of a poem he loved.  

A little later, but William Morris' famous Arts & Crafts bed at Kelmscott Manner is lavishly embroidered with the motif of a poem he loved.  

 The A Beautiful Mess statement handwriting wall...love literally lettered into the bedroom

The A Beautiful Mess statement handwriting wall...love literally lettered into the bedroom

 Monochrome lovers could try sleeping under every phase of the moon

Monochrome lovers could try sleeping under every phase of the moon

Q: Were these images meant to calm sleepers, or did they include the odd bloody crucifix?

I suspect there were a wide variety of 'motivations' behind the use of different images - some would be intended to put the sleeper in mind of spiritual matters, and to remind them of the day of judgement; others, such as landscape scenes, might have a calming effect on those that viewed them. Some textiles undoubtedly had a more utilitarian purpose, and perhaps featured less rich decorations, but fewer of these materials have survived the passage of time, so best not to rule anything out!

Q: What sorts of rituals did men and women perform by their bedsides to prepare themselves for sleep?  How were holy water and candles used?

 Light it up in style

Light it up in style

Candles had a very practical purpose - to give light at bedtime, perhaps for a spot of reading, but some people may also have regarded them in a more spiritual manner. They were sometimes the cause of accidental fires, if somebody forgot to blow them out before they fell asleep. Holy water is associated with the sanctification of the user/wearer, and it likely served this purpose at the bedside - offering a degree of spiritual protection (and reassurance) to those that used it. As for other rituals, the most common was prayer, confession and meditation, which often had the added bonus of calming the body and mind for sleep to take hold.

 Snakes may frighten, but are also symbols of divine protection in some circumstances.

Snakes may frighten, but are also symbols of divine protection in some circumstances.

 Watched over by the moon

Watched over by the moon

 Or smoke out bad dreams with incense

Or smoke out bad dreams with incense

 Hands up who likes a beautiful candle

Hands up who likes a beautiful candle

Q: Were any particular prayers said at either bedtime or waking?

Morning and evening prayers were the most common forms of prayer for all Christians, and they book-ended and sanctified the hours of sleep. Some people used set forms of prayer out of, for example, The Book of Common Prayer, whilst others made up their own.

Q: What is the prettiest piece of bedside paraphernalia that you came across in your research for the book?

I think the prettiest piece of bedside paraphernalia that I came across during my research for the book is the bedding made by Ann Breton, which belongs to the National Trust's Lyme Park. It was, however, never used for sleeping under since Ann sadly died before she finished the beautiful and exotic embroidery.

 Bedcover, c. 1725-c.1750, Object No. 500311.1 Lyme Park © The National Trust/Robert Thrift

Bedcover, c. 1725-c.1750, Object No. 500311.1 Lyme Park © The National Trust/Robert Thrift

  Pillow cover,, c. 1725-c.1750, Object No. 500311.3 Lyme Park, reproduced with the kind permission of The National Trust

Pillow cover,, c. 1725-c.1750, Object No. 500311.3 Lyme Park, reproduced with the kind permission of The National Trust

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KALE ME NOW

The Wild Food Trends of 2017

In the spirit of all things nourishing (which, in case you missed it, is our theme of 2017), we thought we would open the new year with an exploration of food - always a fun topic, and hopefully one of the most nourishing aspects of our lives.   It's bizarrely easy to forget sometimes, but that really is the point!  So we had a little look at what 2017 is projected to bring to our plates, and we were inspired to both laugh and wonder at everything the food industry is dreaming up.

Kale.  Bee pollen.  Acai,  Goji berries.  Moringa powder.  You might think that you have modern day superfoods nailed, but I would invite you to THINK AGAIN.  So get ready, because the hotlist of 2017's hot foods (N.B. very few of them are actually hot) is in, and they are as wild as they are wild.

 It's more than greens in his juice

It's more than greens in his juice

Remember when life was simple and you just had to fit some dark leafy greens to be a supercharged food hero(ine)?  The power is still with plants, but not necessarily your garden-variety.  Not in their raw, virgin & untouched state, anyway.

Enter the ferments, the vinegars, the cultured substances and the just plain substances -- weed & 'shrooms are making a comeback, alongside, well, germs (for real, many of 2017's hot foods are basically carriers for bacteria).

 I'll have what he's having! (I think)

I'll have what he's having! (I think)

Bacteria, Baby

First up, we have vegetable yogurts - a way to get both one of your 5-a-day (which turns out should actually be more like 7 or 8), plus some of those healthy gut bacteria that we should all be cultivating and caring for, now that we know that our immune system is really housed in the gut.  And of course you should always save a little for a face mask - seriously, yogurt works wonders topically for the skin.  Not sure if there are any added benefits in say carrot yogurt, but it does show how versatile and interesting vegetables can really be!

Kimchi and sauerkraut have been hot for a while, and don't expect them to go anywhere.  As the benefits of cultured vegetables (think pickles and ferments) continue to be studied and understood, these foods will increasingly become part of our daily routine.  The purported benefits are a stronger immune system, better digestion and, in the words of Amanda Chantal Bacon, "happy glowy face." She has also said that incorporating cultured vegetables into your diet can help kick your sugar habit.  (check out this presentation for details).  We've been incorporating more kimchi into our diets, and you know what...there may just be something to this!

Glow like Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon with the help of fermented veg.

Lavender's Blue

Everyone is always talking about eating the rainbow, and colour is as nice a theme as any for a hot food trend.  So with that in mind, we will apparently be eating more purple food in 2017...think less Koolaid (is this still around?  Anyone?) and more purple cauliflower, purple asparagus, purple potatoes, purple broccoli and even purple corn.  In line with this trend, beetroot will remain a mainstay, and be employed in the ever-advancing ranks of inventive meat substitutes.  This burger is straight out of Silicon Valley and backed by Bill Gates himself. It apparently bleeds beet juice, and it photographs like the real deal.  I'm intrigued!  

Hydrate like Beyoncé

And speaking of celebrity-funded food experiments, the watermelon juices we've been seeing in grocery stores are predicted to rise in popularity; apparently Beyoncé is an investor.

Shrooms

And then of course you have the mushrooms - these guys already infiltrated our supplement cupboards in 2016 in the form of powders to be added to smoothies, teas, coffees or steamed milks.  Think astralagus, reishi, maitake and shitake, lion's mane, chaga and a slew of other adaptogenic herbs with names that sound straight out of Lord of the Rings.  It truly seems that this is the year of the mushroom; we will be invited to experiment with different combinations depending on our mood, our energy and our needs.  Now we are of two minds with this.  On the one hand, the movement towards inviting people to really tune into their bodies, assess how they feel and act accordingly is empowering and fun.  On the other hand, hawking ground up mushroom powders at not exactly bargain-basement prices smacks a bit of snake oil merchandizing.  Particularly when the blends bear names like "Sex Dust".  And yet....

We personally tried some of Moon Juice's combinations (available in the UK here) while back in the US at the end of last year, and while we were initially sceptical (to say the least), we were surprised to notice a real different in our energy levels and skin clarity.  And this was over the holidays, when healthy habits weren't quite the priority they normally are!  Looking into this a bit more, we've come to understand that at least some of these mushrooms and herbs are routinely employed in Chinese medicine, and have been for years.  So needless to say, we will definitely be boarding the mushroom train in 2017, and look forward to sharing more as we learn.  We have something very special in mind for Life Butter Radio in particular!

Whether any hallucinogenic mushroom varieties will ride the current '70s revival back into popular culture remains to be seen!

 Herbs, man

Herbs, man

Not Just for the High

Finally, we have the return of MJ, which has received a lot of attention from the wellness press over the last few months as more and more places in the United States legalize its use.  We've seen articles on how it can help everything from depression and anxiety to PMS/PMT and pregnancy, and an exploration of all the different ways you can partake.  And "weed chic" is apparently a thing in California.  We predict that the fascination with all things hemp will only continue; the ebbing stigma around cannabis in the United States invites inventive foodies and the wellness community alike to harness the power of this plant in new, inventive and potentially lucrative ways. The Business of Fashion suggests that the drug could be the luxury industry's next big opportunity, as we increasingly look to spend on experience over "stuff".  If Keeping Up with the Kardashians is any measure, I think they may be right.

Now if you're not uber wealthy, but you're curious, you love chocolate, and you are based in the US, you can dip your toe into this trend without going anywhere near bong waters: enter Sakara Life's hemp chocolates (formerly CBD chocolates).  These  feel-good, bite-size chocolates contain "hemp extract" (CBD oil - read a bit here), and have been marketed as a substitute for your nightly glass of wine.  We'll admit it, we gave these a try too last time we were Stateside - when, we should point out, the ingredient list read "CBD oil" rather than "hemp extract".  But we have confirmation that the formula is in fact the same and the label change is more of a marketing exercise. How how did they work out?  Well, we aren't sure that they had any special, relaxation-inducing powers, but they are organic, vegan, tasty and portioned in lovely, 11 -calorie-a-pop little nuggets of gorgeous CHOCOLATE, so what's not to like?  We thought that these had disappeared from the market since Christmas 2016, but we discovered that actually Sakara Life is selling them with Amazon!   So now you can add to basket and these can arrive with your latest reading, diaper haul or what have you.  No one needs to know, and given the wide distribution channel, it will be easier than ever to get your hands on these, wherever you are in the US.  

The New Almond Butter

We all love nut butter (well some people don't, but they are just WEIRD).  Sometimes though you want something just as satisfying but a bit less stodgy, a bit thinner...in which case, have you tried seed butters?  They've been around for a while, but are predicted to multiply like bunnies in 2017.  New varieties are cropping up on supermarket shelves all the time, and if you are US-based and addicted to novelty, you could hop on the net to try Sakara Life's watermelon seed butter.  We have to admit to trying and loving this one over Christmas; it's pretty mild and would appeal to those who don't like a strong nutty taste.  

Protein Pasta

Finally, while I personally think bread and gluten are well up for a resurgence, the alternative pasta scene isn't going anywhere.  So you can keep your spiralizer or, if you crave a bit more substance, try pulse-pasta: think lentils and beans turned into your favourite shapes.  A little more satisfying than all the corn and rice varieties, and these variations have the bonus of some protein!

I'll be really interested to see how the restaurant scene continues to evolve in 2017 too.  Increasingly, fine dining seems so passĂ©...I think diners still want and expect a bit of a scene, ambiance and occasionally some glamour, but are really more interested in the food - both the flavour and provenance.  We'll see what this ever-changing landscape serves up next - we can't wait!

So whether you are at home or dining out, get ready to go all Wild & Crazy with some veggies.  At least these superfoods won't stain your clothes quite as badly as your average green smoothie or juice, so you can dress in homage to the original Wild & Crazy guy and go all white!

 You have to try the beetroot yoghurt!  We love you, Steve Martin!  Photo red Norman Seeff

You have to try the beetroot yoghurt!  We love you, Steve Martin!  Photo red Norman Seeff

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ENTER THE NEW

The Verb of 2017 is Nourish

So as I wrote in my previous post, 2016 has been, for many of us, a year.  Many of us have been preoccupied with big picture issues, and in light of this, it seems wrong (not to mention a bit retro, but in the naff way) to talk about traditional "New Year's Resolutions".  And yet, maybe in part because we are so consumed by worry and anxiety, both about ourselves and the state of the world, we seem to be in a season of perpetual self-improvement.  So the idea of resolutions remains, I think, current and relevant.  I've seen a few different approaches to a modern take on resolution season.

At the start of 2015, Vogue suggested an "eat this, not that" approach to resolutions, subbing out some of our usual list items for more modern and perhaps more achievable counterparts.   This seemed a bit gimmicky, and I didn't really vibe with what they picked (I for one always prefer a black cab to Uber anyway).

ELLE UK called for 2017 to be The Year of Not Being Perfect - which I really like in theory, but their model/celeb references don't quite convince for me, because as much as Gigi Hadid stresses her imperfection and highlights her work ethic (both of which I applaud her for), it's hard for me to feel a sense of real camaraderie with a supermodel. I doubt I'm alone on this one. It's not her fault, but dems da facts, I'm afraid.

Gretchen suggests picking a theme word of the year.  This I like - I too am a fan of a framework, and an even bigger fan of simplicity.  One Word to Rule Them All has promise - not too much to think about, easy to check back in, and vague enough to give yourself lots of outs if you find that you're not really hitting your benchmarks throughout the year.  Not that you would be anyway - because there aren't any when you keep things this loose.

But I want to finesse this a little bit - keep the simplicity, but make this more of a call for action, which seems to match our #currentmood much better, being one of action.  And thus the verb of 2017 was conceived - mine is nourish.

 Does vino nourish?  It's going to be part of my routine.

Does vino nourish?  It's going to be part of my routine.

What does the idea of "nourish" mean to you?  

When I think of how I have typically related to myself - whether it's my physical body, or my mental state, or my achievements, it is with anything but a nourishing state of mind.  I am often critical, exacting, ungenerous and occasionally downright mean; I know that I am not alone. This year, I want to spend time feeding myself.  I want to indulge in beautiful images, sounds, experiences, sensations and tastes.  I want to spend less time thinking about what the implications of my choices are, and more time observing and celebrating how they make me feel - both in the moment, and after I have thoroughly enjoyed them.  I want to open myself up to trying things that are new, stepping outside of my comfort zone.  I want to find more physical, spiritual emotional and mental experiences that feed me and those around me.  I want to end the year feeling, if not restored, closer to "full" than I feel now.  That is my aim.

So in kicking off my year of nourishment, I'll be spending some time on Life Butter Radio looking at one of the most important (and obvious) ways in which we nourish ourselves - through the foods that we eat and how we treat our body.  Looking forward to catching up with you on the podcast; I think it's going to be a fun season.

x

 Bread will be making a come back in my house

Bread will be making a come back in my house

OUT WITH THE OLD

But don't kick 2016 while it's down

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It's all over the internet because it's all over our brains: for one reason or another, many of us feel that 2016 let us down.  So while I think generally the idea of New Year's resolutions seems a bit passĂ© in this time of perpetual self-improvement where September has been dubbed the new January, there is definitely a mood of out with the old and in with the DRAMATICALLY BETTER.  But what's the framework?  A list of 10 things you want to achieve that starts with Kayla abs seems silly and actually a bit shallow, given that most of us have our eyes and hearts focussed on much larger issues at the moment.  Beyond that, fitness seems to have finally shifted from that thing you get fanatical about this time of year or right before your beach holiday to something that is aspirational on the daily.  Ditto healthy eating - whatever type of beautiful bowl/smoothie/poached egg & avo concoction best best symbolises that for you & your wellness tribe.  

But this is not a post about snark, not at all.  This year wasn't all bad, and I actually think this next week or so is a great opportunity to sit back, put on your rose (gold)-tinted glasses (seriously, was there another colour in 2016?), and look back with curiosity, generosity and awe.  As anyone dabbling in modern day wellness knows, it's very Zeitgeist-y to mention a full moon or an errant planet as part of a discussion of Who We Are and Where We Are Going.  And there has been a particular focus on looking to the stars for guidance in processing and understanding the last 12-18 months (or maybe this is just what happens when you move from London to Los Angeles).

Now I'm not exactly an astro-babe myself, but there's a celestially-inspired discussion circulating around the close of 2016 that has piqued my curiosity, and ties in with my own view on the end of this crazy year.  That would be the resurgence of Mercury Retrograde, a time characterised by chaos, technical malfunctions, miscommunications and generally thwarted plans - at least according to those in the increasingly-popular astro-world (is it just me, or has the new-New Age suddenly become very mainstream?).  And this upheaval will last until January 8 of 2017 when Mercury changes course.  Seems rather doom and gloom, but here's what I like about this: firstly, there is the romanticism of observing the grandiosity of the cosmos and brooding over what its signs may mean to the individual lives of us earth-bound mortals.  What can I say, I'm not exactly a believer, but I think the merch is cute (if expensive - this one is for my next life as an heiress).

Secondly, I also like the call to acknowledge greater forces at work in this world (even if I would pick a different focus ✝). Some astrologers describe Mercury Retrograde as an invitation to reflect, reminisce, study and learn from the past.  I am the original history nerd, after all (watch out for Episode 4 of Life Butter Radio...seriously, it's going to be a gem).  So I think in some ways, it's fitting that this astrologically-ordained time of reflection, consideration and tidying away corresponds with the end of 2016.  With that in mind, I plan on taking a leaf out of this blogger's book, and using this time before the new year to take stock of 2016 and acknowledge it for the period of power and transformation it was, leaving us stronger, more thoughtful and aware - ready to either take on or celebrate whatever comes next. 

So what does that mean for me?  Well, 2016 has been a pivotal year for me in a lot of ways...between a career change, coming to grips with motherhood and lots of travel (as always) there has been a lot of change.  If I could sum it up in word, I would pick LEARNING.  This has not always been an easy or pain-free process, but it has undoubtedly been transformational.  I've grown so much, and I now have the perspective to appreciate that.  So thanks 2016 for the lessons!

And when the clocks strikes 12 and the last of 2016 slips away, I'll be at home with my nearest and dearest and some fizz, and getting ready to demarcate the start of 2017 in a more traditional, goal-oriented way.  More on that soon!

 

 

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