How to do pancake day, the healthy way! Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Vegan and Non GMO pancakes.

Hi guys, I really wanted to share with you my healthy Pancake Day – which having been gluten-free for the past 14+ years, hasn’t always been the easiest or yummiest thing to do!

I’ve experimented over the years with gluten-free pancake mixes and also pre-made gluten-free pancakes (which I think are tiny and more like scotch pancakes than the thin, larger pancake I associate with pancake day!)

But this year I have this pancake mix shown below, that I’ve tried, tested and given the green light to make my pancake day ‘flippin’ fantastic this year (like what I did there, playing on the action of flipping pancakes in the pan 😉😉)

continue Reading all about these healthy pancakes on the menu

Product Review: ‘Anayah Natural Skincare’. 100% natural, organic and handmade.

When using natural beauty products it’s a great idea to follow different brands on their social media channels. Then not only can you keep up to date with their current products and new products being launched, but also see their offers, promotions and competitions too.

A local natural product company I follow is ‘Anayah Natural Skincare‘ based here in Birmingham UK, but available to order online. They ran an Instagram competition to win free samples – so I entered and guess what, I only went & won! 👏 (So the reviewed products below were gifted to me as part of their online competition.)

anayah natural skincare range with eco-friendly packaging-product review by Helen's Journey blog

As the competition winner I was delivered a product sample pack to my house – which I loved straight away as it was environmentally friendly packaging, as it was given to me in a paper bag (see image above).

Inside was green shredded paper at the bottom of the bag as a nice presentation touch. The main product sample was a full-sized body butter 250mg, which was in a glass container. I struggle with opening jars and this was no exception, however I do have a rubber jar opener lid gripper device I used to get it open (see image below and search online if you want to find one).

help opening jars when pain and weakness make it difficult - tip from chronic illness blog Helen's Journey

I also got three small sample pots of other products which was a nice touch for getting to try a range of products. However, these were in tiny plastic pots, which is something I’m sure the company are looking into finding an alternative if possible, as they are conscious of environmental issues and support greener living on their social media channels.

Anayah Natural Skincare products review by natural living blogger Helen's Journey

Company Review: Anayah Natural Skincare

“Anayah Natural Skincare, where homemade body butters, balms and creams are all made to order using the finest natural and organic ingredients.”

– Founder Soraya

Soraya, the company founder, started researching and experimenting with natural ingredients when she was pregnant with her daughter 5 years ago because of all the chemicals in pregnancy and baby products. Hence why her daughter’s name ‘Anayah’ inspired her company name. I think this gives the small family ran business, a really personal touch. It promotes the slogan ‘made with love’ as the products literally came out of a mothers love for her child and wanting to make them chemical free products for their precious skin.

I love their company slogan on their Etsy page: “Handmade butters, balms & pomades all made with organic ingredients and a spoonful of Love”

anayah natural skincare product range review by Helen's Journey blog
Products are also cruelty free. However there aren’t vegan as some of the products contain organic fair-trade beeswax as the only animal byproduct used.

Product Review: Anayah Natural Body Butter

The cream itself looked like a whipped moose hence its name ‘body butter’ which gave it a really smooth texture. At first, I found the smell unusual as ‘Ylang Ylang’ mixed with other essential oils, isn’t a smell I was familiar with and I found that a stronger smell than the lavender ingredient. However it wasn’t a bad smell at all, just different to me. Yet, after a few times using it I didn’t even notice the smell anymore, as I quickly got used to it and it became a recognised scent.

The glass jar lasts a long time. That is because you only need a small amount of the cream at a time, as when you rub it in-between your hands it melts and becomes oily due to body heat – so the amount spreads further on the body. ‘A little goes a long way’ sums up this element of the product well.

Using it in the mornings meant my skin stayed moisturised throughout the day. However, my favourite time to use the cream was after my routine of getting ready for bed each evening, just so it could hydrate and soak into my skin throughout the night as I slept.

The best bit for me is knowing that what I’m putting on my skin is 100% natural. I have been using only natural products on my skin for 2+ years now and I’ve tried a range of different natural moisturisers but this body butter was one of the best for how it made my skin feel and the length of time it kept my skin hydrated for.

Function of the product: 5/5

It did exactly what a body butter should do – it really made my skin feel moisturised, smooth and soft.

Scent: 3/5

The scent didn’t put me off having the same body butter again, however it would be good to try new scents if available. Maybe something sweet such as rose or vanilla as the lavender ingredient didn’t seem the strongest scent to the body butter.

Branding: 5/5

The Companies branding was very strong. stickers with the company logo and slogan were placed on the front of the bag as well as over the top of the bag to keep it closed. The body butter jar had company branded stickers on it with detailed information about the product including a full ingredient list. A company brochure was also included inside the bag with a full list of available products, company information, etc.

Packaging 4/5

It only isn’t 5 out of 5 because the small sample pots are made out of plastic, a small reason and nothing to take away the great achievement of making 95% of the packaging environmentally friendly, sustainable and recyclable.

In summary, I feel Anayah Natural Skincare is a really good find. Great product and a professional but personal family ran business. I’m interested to find out more about these products and I’ll be ordering myself a new body butter for sure!

Available online:

Etsy: AnayahNatural / Facebook: Anayah Natural Skincare / Instagram: @anayahnatural

anayah natural skincare product review by Helen:s Journey blog

Have you read my other reviews of natural products? (click titles below to read posts in a new window)

> HAND CARE the NATURAL WAY! Looking after your hands by washing them the non-chemical way!

> Natural material alternatives to plastic straws

Top Choices for Reusable Coffee Cups! How to cut single-use plastics & enjoy your coffee the environmentally friendly & non toxic way…


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‘WORLD EARTH DAY’ – What is it & how can I join in by making changes to my plastic use?


April 22nd is ‘World Earth Day’ which grew out of this day in 1970 when millions went to the streets to protest things like pollution, pesticides use and other global ecological awareness issues.

Here is a quote from the president of World Earth Day to know more about the origins of the day:

“It is a day of political action and civic participation. People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Faith leaders, including Pope Francis, connect Earth Day with protecting God’s greatest creations, humans, biodiversity and the planet that we all live on.”

– Kathleen Rogers, President of World Earth Day. (Quote from


happy world earth day message from Helen's Journey blog quote

Mobilizing the world to End Plastic Pollution

This year it is dedicated to the problem of plastic pollution, trying to change the use of single-use plastics and the ways in which plastics are disposed.

So for World Earth Day I’d like to share with you blog posts I have written that list changes we could all make in order to help our planet, environment, health and wildlife, lists items we can buy to replace single-use plastics, etc… (Just click on the individual blog titles to open post in a new tab):






Today also marks the final day of the ‘3 Day Quote Challenge’ I have been doing, so to me it was only right I chose a quote from Sir David Attenborough! Please click here to go and read the quote and my reasons for choosing it:


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'WORLD EARTH DAY' - What is it & how can I join in by making changes to my plastic use?




Top Choices for Reusable Coffee Cups! How to cut single-use plastics & enjoy your coffee the environmentally friendly & non toxic way…

Here are some top choices when you’re looking for a reusable coffee cup for you or your loved ones, to reduce the use of single-use plastics:

When it comes to coffee I’m really not your girl – I dislike the smell and the taste! (Sorry, not sorry!)
However, when it comes to changing your habits of using plastic cups, lids and other non-biodegradable materials and not knowing how or where to find natural alternatives – I am most certainly your girl for the job!!!
I was chuffed when my uncle told me he had read my blog’s specifically the ones on green living. Firstly for the sign of support shown even if he wasn’t familiar with the whole concept of the blogging world. Yet, I was even more touched when he specifically mentioned how my blogs highlighting the dangers of using plastics for our health and the environment, had got him thinking about his own use of plastics.
To know my words can help to bring around more positive changes for people’s health and our environment, is a lovely and empowering feeling! 😀
The main thing for him being a coffee guy, was asking me if I’d help him find a suitable coffee cup he can reuse. Of course, I jumped at the chance to share some of my research with him and then of course, I couldn’t not share it with my lovely readers too!
Even if like me you aren’t into coffee, the options below can still be used for tea, herbal teas, soups and other hot beverages. As well as for presents for the coffee drinkers in your life!

You may ask “Why does it even matter what coffee cup I use?”

Well like my Uncle did, I’d encourage you to read both of these blogs I did on the subject of the dangers of plastic to our own health and the health of wildlife and oceans, etc:

But the main points to look out for or investigate with each product available, is:

  • Is it made from natural materials? (Bamboo, Stainless Steel, Glass, etc) Biodegradable?
  • If its plastic, Is it BPA free? (because of the chemicals that leach out plastics into the drinks that can affect our hormone levels, health, fertility, cancer risks etc)
  • Does it have a coating on the material and if so is it a non-toxic coating?
This Is important when it comes to the item being healthier for humans to drink out of, as nasty chemicals leach out of plastics into our drinks esp when heated or left in sunlight.
It is also important for the environment and wildlife, that they are made from eco-friendly, recyclable or biodegradable materials instead of plastic, that is harming wildlife, polluting oceans and cluttering coastlines.

Some top choices for reusable Coffee Cups, so you can enjoy your coffee the environmentally friendly & non toxic way:

So, from my research here are some options for you when it comes to eco-friendly, green living coffee cups and the specific places you can find them:

Stainless Steel Reusable Cups:

Stainless Steel is a good option as it can be cleaned in a dishwasher if needed, that is why I chose a stainless steel straw.

Klean Kanteen do a collection of stainless steel reusable cups that meets requirements, as well as food containers, straws etc.
Here is a link to their products:

Non-toxic BPA free & BPS free plastic cups:

If you prefer plastic then you can get non-toxic BPA free & BPS free plastic cups such as ‘KeepCup’ range.
This one is being sold in John Lewis Store UK (click on name below to open in a new window):

However, you can do an internet search for other places stocking a wider collection in this range or simply search ‘BPA free & BPS free flasks’.

Pretty Patterned & Brightly Coloured Reusable Coffee Cups:


If like me you love colour and being flamboyant (mine is bright pink) then you’re more likely to prefer a block colour or colourful patterned reusable cup – after all who said eco-friendly has to be boring?!
A really pretty range is ‘Ecoffee Cup & William Morris’ which are reusable cups made out of bamboo. You can order directly off their website, which at the moment has an offer on for 10% off your first order:

You can also get glass reusable hot drink cups:

If you want glass, then these by JoCo are 100% BPA free, lead free… the lid and sleeve are silicone:


Reducing the use of single-use plastics!

In the UK shops such as Debenhams, John Lewis, Currys, TK Maxx, Home Bargains, etc – do stock at least one option for reusable coffee cups.
Wherever you are, all over the world you can do internet searches for the specific makes I have mentioned above or search for the different alternative materials listed above also. You can then find those available to you locally in shops or alternative websites to order from for your part of the world.
The main thing is from reading this blog, you will now know when you’re either out shopping or online shopping, exactly what to look for on the packaging and item description in regards to materials used.  At Least then, you know you are choosing a healthy, non toxic option, for yourself and for the environment!
There is a vast selection of eco-friendly, reusable, natural material Coffee Cups out there, for you all to be able to find one that suits your needs and tastes!
Happy Exploring Everyone…
Please feel free to comment on this post & let us all know which reusable coffee cup you get 🙂

Please read my other blogs on green living, reducing plastic use & finding natural alternatives:


top choices for reusable, eco-friendly and biodegradable coffee cups by Helen's Journey blog

HAND CARE the NATURAL WAY! Looking after your hands by washing them the non-chemical way!


When it came to replacing products around my house from the ‘normal’ chemical based products to natural chemical free products, one of the first things I swapped was my bathroom hand wash!

Now, I’m the type of person who uses tissue in my hand to open the bathroom door in public toilets, that annoying person who reaches into her bag for the hand sanitizer after shopping, in restaurants or after using public toilets even though I’d just washed my hands. Yes, that person – and I know everyone reading this knows someone in life who is exactly the same!

I thought I was being health conscious in doing this, but in reality I was reducing germs on my hands but covering them in chemicals. I know now that isn’t healthier at all!

I love matching colours when it comes to not only clothes & accessories but also room decor and accessories. So as you can imagine, I chose hand wash dependant on colour to match my bathroom walls (I’m sure you all know a ‘matcher’ in life too!) so I used to buy hand wash that were blues and turquoises. Yet, I think it was seeing this bright blue hand wash through different eyes, that made this one of the first products I replaced with a natural alternative.

looking after your hands the natural way by Helen's Journey
We carry most germs on our hands, so why cover them in harmful chemicals when we can cover them in natures goodness instead?


Did you know that on average women add more than 200 chemicals to their skin daily?

More than 60% of these chemicals get absorbed directly into the bloodstream and can build up in our cells and organs. That to me is a scary thought esp as so many of these chemicals are now linked to cancer and other illnesses and bad symptoms. I already have enough chronic health issues, so I made the decision to change to natural products.

Why I changed to a chemical free hand wash:

Once I had more education on this ‘Toxic Overload’ (that’s for another blog) our bodies experience because of all the chemicals used in our day-to-day products, I started to look at all the products around my house differently, as if through new eyes or suddenly using glasses that make everything seem so much clearer.

Going into the bathroom and looking at this bright blue hand wash just made me think of some toxic thing in a movie that the baddies want to use, or Slimer out of Ghostbusters or something! 😉 It actually made me feel more dirty using the chemical hand wash, so I knew that needed to go straight away!

With no time to waste, I jumped on the internet and started searching for ‘natural hand soaps‘. Just like with my blog on “STRAW SWAPPING THE ECO-FRIENDLY WAY” you’d be surprised just how many options for natural replacements there are.

In the end, I brought from a British company ‘FAITH IN NATURE’ (click on name to go to their website) off their website. I’ve since discovered it is sold in a local Oxfam shop too & they have half price sales onthe range twice a year. I chose their coconut hand wash pictured below:

faith in nature coconut natural hand wash review by Helen's Journey
Faith in Nature Coconut Hand Wash Review by Helen’s Journey

PRODUCT: Coconut Hand Wash – Cruelty Free / Vegan / Paraben Free (synthetic preservatives linked to increasing growth in Breast Cancer) / SLS Free (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate which is a skin irritant & linked to hormone imbalances & other detrimental health issues)

PRICE: It cost me £4.19 for 300ml (twice the price & for less ml than my previous chemical hand wash – but It has somehow lasted longer than my old ones!)

APPEARANCE: In the image above you will see the hand soap bottle is tall & slim, rather than short and broad like my old chemical one and so takes up less room on my sink.

INGREDIENTS: All natural ingredients including Organic Coconut Oil & natural fragrances.

DESIGN: I like that the picture of close up coconuts represents its natural ingredients from their natural habitat. However, I feel the label on the bottle could be brighter & more appealing with a tropical pattern or palm trees etc with the coconuts that would still do this. Alternatively, customers could get to choose between this design and a more colourful one, to suit both subtle and flamboyant tastes.

REVIEW: I love it for its creamy texture and the smell it leaves on your hands afterwards that is subtle and in no way over powering.  Looking at it and seeing the cream colour instead of luminous blue makes me have more confidence in its ingredients and the effect it has on my skin/body when using it.

For all of these reasons I’d give it 5/5 for design & ability to do its job, but only 3/5 for appearance as I feel the label on the bottle could be less dull.

I’d urge you to make this easy change which actually is a big change for your body as look at how many times a day you wash your hands… it all adds up & the chemicals build up inside up! I stopped going for the cheapest option and went for what I view as the healthiest option.

For advice on other small changes you could make for an overall big change, please click below to read my other blogs on the subject of chemicals used in plastic products:




hand care the natural way. chemical free hand wash review by Helen's Journey
Your health is in your hands

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“Stop being a Sucker!” The best way to STRAW SWAP the ECO-FRIENDLY way…

“Stop being a Sucker!” The best way to STRAW SWAP the ECO-FRIENDLY way… including a list of options for straws in lots of shapes, sizes & designs!

If you’ve read my blog post ‘3 Tips when deciding to go Plastic Free’ (If not I encourage you to read it by clicking on the title) you’d know that the 1st step I took in reducing my personal plastic use was doing a straw swap the eco-friendly way… and you’ll be glad to hear, it is an EASY PEASY change to make, that anyone can do!

Just what’s the problem with plastic straws???

Some may ask why are plastic straws an issue? Esp if they are a person who isn’t up to date with all things climate change or take much of an interest into issues affecting wildlife. However, there are plenty of reasons to do this because of the risk and damage it causes to humans – so because of that care about yourself and your loved ones, instead of the planet or animals, then maybe your question might change from “Why?” to “How?”

 Why should I stop using plastic straws?

Here are some ‘plastic problems’ with straws:

  • Did you know that BPA in plastic releases synthetic estrogen, causing lots of health risks to humans?
  • Did you know most plastic straws are made out of polypropylene? A petroleum-based plastic requiring fossil fuel extraction – adding to C02 levels & climate change.
  • Did you know that 1 single plastic straw takes 200 years to decompose?
  • Did you know plastic straws are responsible for injuring & killing wildlife, esp endangered sea turtles, as they litter oceans?


Deciding to change your straw may feel small, but when all the straws you use add up, then they can make a damaging amount and that is just 1 persons use.

I was as guilty as anyone, with straws in my daily smoothies as I drank the not so nice tasting green smoothies better with a straw & asking for straws in public bars/restaurants so I don’t have to put my mouth on glasses etc. That is more than 365 straws I would use in a year! Yes I would put them in my recycling bin at home but most straws don’t make it through the recycling process they end up in landfills and oceans. I was determined to play my small part in the grand scheme of things.

plastic straws are so out

It is estimated that Americans use 500 million plastic straws every single day!

Now I use USA as the example as in the US it is more automatic that drinks are served with straws in, where as in the UK you mostly have to actually ask if you want 1 or take 1 yourself from the straw holders openly available on many bar tops. However, majority of these plastic straws used all over the world don’t get recycled and can end up clogging up our coastlines instead.


HOW to change to an eco-friendly straw instead of a plastic straws:

Well once I decided I needed to make a change I researched online, entering into searches things like “eco friendly straws” and surprisingly found quite a few options;

  • Bamboo Straws
  • Stainless Steel Straws
  • Glass Straws
  • Titanium Straws
  • Silicon Straws
  • Paper Straws

Materials I didnt even think of, such as paper which sounded funny to me as it would be getting wet, I wouldn’t imagine paper straws being strong enough not to go floppy when wet & break. But that’s what straws used to be made of before plastic anyway!

I chose not to go for the experiment of paper and I went with a stainless steel straw & i’m more than happy with it – it’s easy to use, dishwasher safe or like me you can buy straw cleaner brushes too!

eco-friendly straw options

Just how many plastic straws will stop being used if you replace it with an eco-friendly non plastic straw?

“Eco Straw” who are an american company making glass straws. have a cool status bar at the bottom of their website telling you how many straws they have sold and the estimated amount of plastic straws those purchases have stopped being used.

Where can I find these eco-friendly plastic alternative straws?

There are so many options: different height straws, different colours, large smoothie straws, bent straws, straight straws, brushes and straw sleeves for transportation. For a more in depth guide on specific companies and specific straws then “The Last Plastic Straw” have a great resource list (just click their name to go to it).

If you want a straw that’s closest to the ‘normal’ plastic straws usually offered then “Eco Products” sell compostable straws that are made from a plant based plastic. they even sell them individually wrapped for taking out with you or if you cater or own a business selling beverages maybe this is something you could investigate further.

Or for those of you who enjoy DIY then there are plenty of youtube videos on how to make your very own paper straws. Visit my Pinterest Board to watch a video “How to make paper drinking straws” There is a great hands on science lesson there to share with children too!

Say no to plastic straws use eco-friendly straws


Which eco-friendly material you use instead of the plastic straw is up to you – we all have different preferences.

Some may even buy a selection of mixed material eco-friendly straws…

  • A large glass 1 for your morning smoothies at home
  • A portable stainless steel straw in its own holder bag to leave at your parents house when you pop in for a drink and a chat
  • Individually wrapped eco-friendly straws to carry around with you wherever you go

With a deeper online search you will even find fun & creative, colourful straws for children too!

This really is a EASY PEASY change we can all make and all those little changes together can add up to make a huge difference! We are in this together – so please join me and STRAW SWAP the ECO-FRIENDLY way…

Why not now read my blog ‘3 Tips when deciding to go Plastic Free’ (click blog title to go to post)

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the best eco-friendly straws to use instead of plastic straws





3 TOP TIPS when deciding to go PLASTIC FREE! Encouragement & advice to start making easy changes…

If you are thinking of going plastic free or interested in reading why you should –  read on for 3 top tips from someone who’s made the changes bit by bit and can tell you how…

The problems with plastics has been covered in mainstream news coverage more and more recently; from piled high dumps full of plastics that will take hundreds and thousands of years to decompose, to starbucks announcing its comitment to reducing their enviromental footprint ( So it won’t be so much of a surprise why so many people are now deciding to become “plastic-free” or at least more eco-friendly.

What is the problem with plastic?

For me, it was learning about the industrial chemical BPA and other cancer causing or dangerous chemicals being used in plastic bottles and plastic tubs (plastic items labelled “PC” or recycle groups 3 & 7 usually contain chemicals BPA, BPS, BPF etc.) that can affect our estrogen hormone levels, lead to toxic-overload and have also been linked to some forms of cancer. Those industrial chemicals used in plastics seep into the food and drink we place inside them, as not all the chemicals are sealed in when items are made – but that’s for another blog!!!

For now here are my 3 TOP TIPS when thinking of making the decision to go PLASTIC-FREE

  1. Every small change counts!

Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to replace every single plastic thing in your house in 1 big mega sort out and throw out.

I literally started off by taking a tiny step that would make a huge difference – I got myself a reusable eco-friendly straw!

Now I was using 1 plastic straw a day in my smoothies, so this stopped me adding 365 plastic straws each year to the rubbish heap, with each individual straw taking 200 years to decompose! So you can’t tell me Tesco are wrong in using the slogan “Every little bit helps” because every straw not being used can count for a LOT!


    2. Share your changes with others.

After all it’s from sharing a picture on my personal social media about me throwing away plastic food containers that got people commenting and telling me to set up a blog to keep them posted on my changes.

You never know who else you can inspire to make changes to their plastic use and improve their exposure to nasty chemicals etc. A hashtag I love to use sums this up perfectly #sharingiscaring


    3. Don’t get overwhelmed by research and decide not to try at all!

This was a big thing for me, as at first when doing research and learning more and more worrying things about plastics and chemicals used in them, i got more and more overwhelmed. Once you realise how much plastic things you use in your home, esp in our kitchen’s, it seems like a daunting task to find alternatives to replace them all.

However, use tip 1 and realise that every little change adds up and before you know it you will be ticking off those items in what seemed a never ending list of things to replace. You have to start somewhere to get anywhere with it and as Nike say “Just Do It!”

One of the first things I replaced was plastic straws I used daily for my smoothies. I write all about it in my blog post: “Stop being a Sucker!” The best way to STRAW SWAP the ECO-FRIENDLY way…” Click the post title now to go and read all about this easy but empowering change…

I will keep doing blog posts to list the changes I’ve made, including information on the replacement items I purchased. This information will be useful if you decide to look into making plastic-free alternative choices for your home – which is definitely something I would recommend and that I’m truly glad I did!

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