Firming up your skin with the French secret of grapes!

By Angeliz Venter

As a first-time mom the shock of my body looking different and feeling different post-partum was quite big. Even now, 14 months after the birth of our son, my body and skin still need some extra care to feel nourished and good. Luckily, I found Panier des Sens’s firming grape renewing oil and their active firming cream!

Panier des Sens was found in the South of France in the heart of Provence. Inspired by Mediterranean ingredients and know-how, they use the best of their region to develop natural, simple and authentic products. Their natural and vegan formulas are designed and manufactured in France by favouring short circuits and local partnerships. For 20 years, they have been developing their product expertise by relying on the unique know-how of Marseille master soap makers and Grasse perfumers. For more than 10 years, their formulas enriched with raw materials of natural origin have been clean. They respect a strict formulation charter with their face and body cosmetics also containing between 95% and 100% ingredients of natural origin.

Panier des Sens packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable! That is 20.5 tons of virgin plastic saved and 80% of aluminium recycled. They are also members of the 1% for the planet association, an international movement of entrepreneurs committed to a new economy, more respectful of people and the planet. This means they donate 1% of the turnover of their Green collection to environmental protection organizations: the Conservatoire d’Espaces Naturels PACA, whose mission is to preserve the natural heritage of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. ‘Azure and France Nature Environment, whose aim is to reconcile man and the environment, to protect and manage nature in the territories. All the Panier des Sens solid soaps are certified RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). The palm oil produced, processed and used, meets the very specific requirements of the association in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility and Development Sustainable, and is traceable throughout the supply chain.

Now to talk about their body care products I so dearly love! Starting with the Active firming, renewing grape cream! This moisturizing body cream helps firm the skin and helps reduce the appearance of orange peel skin. The skin is supple, firmer and more elastic. I love the fact that 97% of the ingredients is naturally-sourced in France, it revitalizes, drains and firms the skin reduces the appearance of orange peel skin, contains organic grapes from Provence and it’s patented Active Firming Bodyfit™. This means the patented active ingredient that helps firm the skin is based on Glaucine, it favors the reduction of the orange peel appearance and improves the firmness of the skin. It activates lipolysis, and inhibits the appearance of new adipocytes, by regulating the flow of calcium and water in the tissues. Panier des Sens also did a study and 95% of women find their skin more hydrated.

So why use grapes in these two products? Grapes are packed with nutrients, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols. This protects the skin from free radicals and helps preserve its youthfulness. It promotes cell regeneration and intensifies the firmness of the epidermis. Grapeseed oil is rich in essential fatty acids, has emollient properties; it softens, nourishes and maintains skin hydration. Aa a recognized antioxidant, it preserves the skin barrier by neutralizing free radicals. By stimulating the production of collagen and elastin, grape seed oil helps to maintain the suppleness and firmness of the skin. Grape seeds reveal mechanical exfoliating properties to smooth the skin. The red vine leaf is rich in tannins, anthocyanins, flavonoids and vitamin C, and is known for its venotonic properties that helps to stimulate blood circulation and reduce the sensation of heavy legs.

For the body oil, it contains mainly the same ingredients and properties of the firming cream, but the active ingredient is sweet almond oil! It nourishes your skin, due to it being rich in oleic acid and linoleic acid, which is naturally also present in our skin. Sweet almond oil nourishes and protects the skin, thanks to its composition rich in saturated fatty acids. It softens the skin and protects it from drying out, giving it a velvety feel.

All in all, I love both these products and alternate between them. I like to use the Active firming cream after my bath or shower at night and the oil in the morning, especially now that summer is approaching and I want my skin to be as moisturized and smooth as possible! You can shop these items on Zando, Takealot and Bash!

Reducing waste one dirty diaper at a time

By Angeliz Venter

We started our diaper journey by purchasing a massive amount of cloth diapers intending to use cloth diapers full-time and when travelling, but we soon realized that this is a very unrealistic expectation for our family (even though a lot of other parents can successfully do it). We still wanted to have the least amount of waste when we switched over to disposable diapers for traveling and that’s when I found Eco Boom and even started using them more at home!

Let’s start from the beginning and learn more about Eco Boom as a brand. They are internationally certified with many different certifications and have a wide range of biodegradable and eco-friendly products on their website ranging from baby diapers for female hygiene products! The most shocking fact is that it takes up to 500 years for a “normal” disposable diaper to decompose and an Eco Boom product decomposes in a matter of days! All their products are hypoallergenic and antibacterial, making them the perfect fit for a family with sensitive skin, especially newborn babies! Their products are also Chlorine, Phthalates, Dioxin, Alcohol, Latex and Fragrance free. What I also love about Eco Boom is that they understand as new parents we are unsure about diaper sizing, therefore they have a 3-size sample pack where you can try the different size diapers to make sure you purchase the correct size.

Here is a few facts and benefits if you use Eco-Boom diapers:
• Biodegradable bamboo fiber sheets with an FSC-certified wood pulp to absorb all liquid.
• Luxuriously soft and extremely absorbent.
• Soft frontal tape provides a quieter release during night-time changes.
• An ultra-breathable back sheet made from 100% Bamboo fibers allow fresh air to circulate and keep your baby’s skin dry.
• A wetness indicator lets you know when it’s time to change your baby’s nappy.
• No Inks, fragrances or latex.
• These nappies are SGS Certified to biodegrade 70.1% in 147 days.

At home we use reusable wet wipes, but when traveling or skipping a wash day due to a hectic loadshedding schedule, we always have an extra pack of Eco Boom wipes nearby.
o Eco Boom bamboo baby wipes are Made with 100% non-woven bamboo fabric, which allows internal air circulation.
o With a 7-step filtration system to make the liquid edible grade, they are suitable for most baby skin types.
o They are free from alcohol, perfumes, lotions, preservatives, latex or artificial additives, and feature 99.5% RO water for your baby’s sensitive skin.
o They are FSC certified and have approvals by the FDA, OK Bio-based and OEKO-TEX.
o Eco Boom Bamboo baby wipes can biodegrade 100% in up to 90 days

Another aspect of Eco Boom that I love is that it is biodegradable, which means instead of just throwing your diaper that contains plastic away, you can remove the plastic stickers on the side of the diaper, keep it outside in a separate bin / big container and mix it into your compost. I love sustainability and reusing things, so this is something we love doing!

Since we started using disposable diapers, we have also tried other brands, because honestly as first time parents we did think twice about the price of the Eco Boom diapers, but we soon realized that Eco Boom is the only disposable diaper that doesn’t leak when heavily saturated, it is most definitely the softest diaper out there and doesn’t feel like plastic, it doesn’t irritate our son’s skin and quite surprisingly doesn’t smell that bad when it is full. We’ve realized that the number of extra diapers we use due to leaks and then having to wash and change his clothes are much more that the extra amount we pay for an Eco Boom diaper. The wipes are also a winner for us after also trying other brands to compare. The wipes stay moist and the best part for me is that it doesn’t disintegrate or rip apart when I am taking one out as many other biodegradable wipes do. All in all, we will continue to buy Eco Boom diapers and wipes! You can find them on, TakeAlot, selected Dis-Chem and Baby City stores nationwide.

Give your breastmilk supply a little boost!

By Angeliz Venter

One of my biggest fears was not being able to breastfeed, having a low supply or just giving up on our breastfeeding journey prematurely. My other fear was not being able to gave the natural unmedicated birth that I wanted, without going into details for now, we encountered some complications while in labor and I ended up have a c-section. This made it even more crucial for me to succeed with breastfeeding.

Right from the start I tried all the teas, bars and the famous Jungle mix to try to increase my milk production, what I didn’t pay attention to is how much Fenugreek is in all of these products and to be honest I didn’t even research Fenugreek to establish it’s benefits and side effects. Needless to say, my milk came in and apart from early days engorgement and a few tweaks here and there, my fears subsided as I had an adequate supply and was even able to freeze some bags. I then started feeling very lightheaded, nauseous and just sick in general, my baby also struggled with gas and we couldn’t figure out why. At this point I reach out to Made To Lactate on Instagram as I thought I need even more supplements or products. I got talking to the owner and after a few days conversation, I mentioned the products that I am using and she pointed out that Fenugreek could be the culprit behind our symptoms. I googled it and all the side effects of Fenugreek was currently present in our lives and as soon as I stopped it, I felt better after a few days and my baby’s gas and wind got better!

I then decided to rather try Made To Lactate Latte’s as they have no Fenugreek in them and contains a specialized brewers yeast that increases your milk production. Brewer’s yeast is rich in protein and several B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin and B6 and is widely known to increase a mother’s milk supply. There are also many other benefits for the whole family namely, it will boost your energy and help fight fatigue, maintain healthy sugar levels, boost your immune system, improves your mood/mental state and gives you your daily dose of nutrition.

Essentially their products are galactagogue products made from high quality, natural raw materials, vegan, sourced locally and globally. Galactagogue products refers to a food or drug used to increase milk supply. I tried out all 4 of their latte flavors, Deluxe lactation Chai Latte, Deluxe lactation hot chocolate, Deluxe lactation toffee caramel latte and Deluxe lactation white chocolate (and here is a little secret, keep an eye on their social media and online store, they might be dropping an exciting new flavor soon). My favorite out of all the flavors is the Deluxe toffee caramel latte, which is actually not as sweet as it sounds. All of the latte’s I make with warm water and warm milk as I am scared that too much milk will give our baby some stomach issues. You can also make frozen and cold drinks with the mixes although I prefer to have a cozy hot drink and they have yummy recipes on their website if you run out of ideas. All the latte’s are so creamy an tasty, although you can taste the brewers yeast in the hot chocolate, but I actually now prefer that taste than normal hot chocolate with a lot of added sugar and additives.

Made To Lactate suggests that you use 1-2 servings daily, but if you have a tendency to develop engorged breasts like me, I would suggest only having it once or twice a week in the beginning to ensure your breasts doesn’t get more engorged and to evaluate the effect it has on your body. I am emphasizing this, because I drank 2 cups a day and I then struggled with some engorgement, which for me means it definitely works and I just need to use it in a more controlled manner. I would also suggest not mixing too many lactation products and just sticking to Made to Lactate lattes, as this could also have been a mistake on my part. Overall, I absolutely love the brand and their ethos as well as how responsive and helpful the owner is. I was very sick with mastitis as well (breastfeeding is not as easy as I thought) and she sent me so many helpful tips, links and just went that extra mile to help me!

For more information or to buy some of their amazing goodies visit or pop them a message on social media, they are super responsive and helpful! Also make sure to add their cute “boobie mug” to your cart!

Laundry day just got easier

By Angeliz Venter

While I was pregnant, everyone kept telling me statements similar to “You will never have time for yourself again” and I remember every time I heard that, I thought it can’t possibly be THAT bad, babies just eat and sleep right? WRONG! All babies do in the beginning is eat, sleep, poop and repeat, but this little routine takes up all of your time as a mom, especially in the beginning!

Apart from that another thing I didn’t believe, is that babies have a lot of laundry, because how can such a tiny human have more laundry than us adults? Very easy, when they eat, they spit up, when they poop or pee, it sometimes leaks and so forth. To add to this, we decided to use cloth nappies part-time and this amounts to +-15 dirty nappies a day and the inserts and booster that goes inside them AND we are using reusable wipes… Needless to say, we have A LOT of laundry now and needed some help fast! Luckily, I got a Spindel, just before I gave birth! You might wonder, what is a Spindel? Ultimately, it’s a specialist dryer using only spin power, instead of heat, to remove excess water from your laundry. This allows laundry to dry faster, even indoors on a rainy day or cold winters day. By removing excess moisture, it eliminates the damp odours which can dry into fabrics and especially cloth nappies (as you can imagine). Spindel uses centrifugal force and spins at 2800rpm (whereas your average washing machine only uses 1400rpm). By using these high speeds up to ½ litre of extra water may be removed from your wet laundry. The amount of water is much higher when spinning items like AIO’s (all in ones) and the absorbent parts of cloth nappies, along with towels and blankets. Most excess water will be removed within 2-3 minutes and this directly saves you time and electricity, because you don’t have to tumble dry your items after washing and it also doesn’t have to dry in the sun the whole day and get damaged. It’s been proven that Spindel uses 1% of the energy consumed by your tumble dryer. You can run over 65 cycles in the Spindel with just one unit of electricity (i.e., 1 kWh), whereas one tumble dryer cycle alone can consume over 3 units of electricity!

Never mind the sustainability and environmental benefits of using a Spindel, one of the most important benefits for me was the fact that by using only spin power, the detergent residues are also removed from the items. These would otherwise dry into fabrics if you were using a traditional tumble dryer. Detergent and fabric softener residues have been linked to skin irritations and allergies, so by removing them, Spindel helps ensure the fabrics are softer and safer against you and your babies’ skin.

The Spindel is available in two sizes, the 4.5kg and the 6.5kg, we have the 6.5kg and I would highly suggest getting the bigger size as a mom, to save you extra time, by being able to add more items into it per cycle.One thing to keep in mind is that the Spindle, even the 6.5kg is relatively small (which is a good thing, because when your baby arrives, your house is suddenly smaller as well) and you won’t fit a full load from your washing machine into it. I suggest when your load is done in the washing machine, put the bulkier and heavier items into the Spindel first, so that they can dry faster.

Ultimately using our Spindel, even if it is just for the cloth nappies, has helped me a lot and especially because I gave birth in the winter, the nappies and clothing took so much longer to dry and I can’t think of anything worse than being stuck without a clean nappy the next time I change my baby!

If you want more information about the Spindel, you can visit their website or email, they are also very responsive on social media! To purchase a Spindel, which I know you do, you can order from either Tafelberg and Yuppiechef And also online at

The pregnancy keepsake you now KNOW you need

By Angeliz Venter

Like a lot of first-time moms, the moment I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to preserve every moment, every step, every milestone, literally everything!

One of the most important things for me to remember was my preggy belly at the end and although a lot of people suggested that I make a cast of my belly at around 36 weeks, it never really resonated with me because, what do you do with that cast afterwards? I will most likely put it away in a cupboard where it would eventually break, framing it was an option, but also not really my decorating style, so therefore I decided against it and just opted for taking an unrealistic number of pictures before we forget the magical moments of pregnancy! In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I was scrolling mindlessly through Instagram and came across Belly Bowl, at first, I didn’t really grasp the concept (and that might be because of my short attention span and pregnancy brain), but after doing further research on their page and website, I knew that this is the special keepsake I was looking for!

Essentially what Belly Bowl offers, is a chance to remember your pregnancy and especially your belly when it is at it’s biggest, by taking a cast of your belly and transforming that into the most precious and customized ceramic bowl of your choice to display and keep forever! It is a keepsake and one of a kind artwork all in one! Starting at the beginning, Belly Bowl is owned and run by Emma Brokensha née Kielczynska, who is an exceptional artist with a vast array of experience behind her and a mother to her beautiful daughter Sadie. She grew up with her own mother making belly bowls for friends and family, with a more traditional method of clay, which took hours to dry. Emma decided to keep this special practice alive, by just adapting the method a bit. Emma uses plaster of Paris, which dries much faster, in just 15min! I ordered a DIY kit, which was sent out the same day I requested it (how is that for speedy service?). At this stage I was already well past the recommended 36 weeks to make the cast and I was really nervous about going into early labor without getting the kit in time, so this aspect of the journey was already a BIG plus for me! The kit arrived in a box with all the necessary elements to successfully complete your cast and the box is also big enough to send the mold back in and receive your ceramic bowl in, so there is no wastage and this makes the whole process so much more sustainable. And then the fun started… making the cast! It was in the middle of winter on the coldest weekend of the year so far, but we knew it was now or never as labor was fast approaching. We put a black plastic bag on the floor, as it gets a bit messy and wet. I put on some old leggings and sport bra, that by some miracle I still fitted in and covered that with a plastic bag as well. You start by first applying the Vaseline that they give you, onto your belly to ensure that the plaster doesn’t stick too much to your skin and hair. I made sure to use all the Vaseline provided because during my pregnancy I had a lot of hair growth especially on my belly. (We ended up adding the plaster past the section where the Vaseline stopped and let me tell you, removing the plaster was very painful, so rather apply as much as you can).

Thereafter, you take a small bowl of warm water and lightly dip or drag the plaster through it before laying it on your belly. As soon as the plaster is on you, smooth it out using your hands. Do this for 2 or 3 layers and then let it dry for 15min. I am not completely sure if it can dry faster and then come off by itself, but our baby probably didn’t like the cold of the plaster and he started kicking and moving a lot, which (I think), made the plaster/cast come loose before 15min. But it still kept its shape and didn’t disintegrate. After carefully taking it off, you have to let it dry in the sun for a few days, my cast took almost a week, but I think that is because of the time of year and as I’ve mentioned it was very cold that weekend and raining. As soon as it is dry, you send it back in the same box and Emma creates the perfect keepsake from your unique belly cast!

I decided to ask for a Earthenware, off white bowl, with a gold rim, gold mandala and natural round shape. Emma hand crafts and paints each bowl with the utmost care and this can be seen within the art piece itself! She also suggested that I add a wooden stand to the order to keep the bowl in place and prevent it from moving around and possibly breaking. I would definitely suggest this as one of the things that really bothered us is the fact that, IF it should break, our beautiful memory is shattered with the pieces of the bowl, but luckily Belly Bowl assured us that they keep all casts for incase it would break so that they can replicate the bowl again. For us that was so reassuring, because accidents do happen, especially with a little one around!

Emma sent me a picture of the bowl a few weeks after I gave birth and it was so special to see my cast realized into a perfect and unique ceramic bowl! When I received the bowl, it brought tears to my eye to think my pregnancy journey ended and the joys of motherhood only begun now. I think every time that I will look at it, it will transport me back to the magical time when my first born was inside of me and we were excitedly preparing for his arrival. This is exactly the emotions that a keepsake should evoke within you and I am so grateful for Emma who started this business to make this special time in our lives, live on in our homes through this stylish, classic and one-of-a-kind art piece and keepsake.

I would recommend doing the cast with your partner and the father of the child, if that is possible and preferable, as this is such a special time and making the cast together and having the physical interaction with your belly that you both know will soon be flat again and you will have your baby in your arms, just makes it so much more intimate and special.

I am so glad that I found Belly Bowl by chance and would recommend using them to create your magical keepsake, our ceramic bowl will forever remind me of my first pregnancy and my beautiful son! It is by far one of the most precious displays in our house that I wouldn’t exchange for the world! You can contact them on their website or on Instagram, as they are super responsive and helpful over social media as well!

Getting your iron deficiency under control during pregnancy

By Angeliz Venter

I’ve always struggled to an extent with iron deficiencies, especially during the time when I have my menstrual cycle, but for the first few months of my pregnancy I was abnormally tired and fatigued and as I progressed into the second trimester it got worse, to the point where I felt I can do nothing but just lie down and sleep. My gynecologist recommended that I get a few blood tests (which is standard during pregnancy) and these indicated that I was anemic, due to an iron deficiency.

Having anemia during pregnancy is not uncommon and most pregnant women struggle with this. Anemia essentially means that your blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells, which in turn restricts enough oxygen from reaching your organs causing you to feel fatigued, have shortness of breath, skin pallor, light headedness, dizziness and have a fast heartbeat. All of this can be caused by an iron deficiency (the most common reason during pregnancy), vitamin B deficiency or even blood loss, which will have to be treated by blood transfusions. For this blog, I will focus solely on the iron deficiency part as this is what I struggled with and can relate to.

Firstly, I started taking extra iron supplements, which can get quite expensive every month if you combine that and your pre-natal vitamins etc. In the beginning it actually made me very nauseous and one of my friends in the medical field suggested that I take it in the morning with orange juice and in the middle of my meal, while trying to avoid diary for the first few hours before and after I take it. It might also help you to have it with your dinner, but I am one of those people that start checking out of my day mentally at 16:00 and then forget everything I had to do, so the morning works better for me. The reason they suggest that you take the iron supplement with orange juice or a source of vitamin C is for better absorption and diary interferes with that absorption, making it less effective. It was also suggested that I drink a lot of freshly squeezed juice which are high in iron, for example beetroot and spinach juice. I will be honest and say that I struggled to drink these and I even have one bottle in the fridge currently that I just can’t get myself to consume. I also added pickled beetroot to my meals, but ultimately, I needed to replace that iron loaded juices. That is when I found Smoothie Box on Instagram and I collaborated with them, not knowing they have an Iron Boost smoothie. Everyone that knows me, knows that I am an avid smoothie drinker and will go to the gym only for the smoothie afterwards! During my pregnancy, my love for smoothies enhanced even further (there is just something about a pregnant woman and her love for ice no matter what the season). I reached out to Smoothie Box and asked them to send me some of their Iron Boost smoothies to see if it would be better than the freshly squeezed juices and let me tell you, it is delicious!

Let’s start with how easy it is to order and the admin side of things. You can buy from their online store and selected retailers and stockists that’s also mentioned on their website and social media. On the website you just select from which area you are ordering and the website will show you all the options of available smoothie boxes within your area. You then basically compile your own order with different smoothies (or all the same, it depends on you) and you check out, as easy as that! Deliveries are also super-fast and convenient, going out every Tuesday and Thursday. A BIG win for me is the fact that for both my parcels the smoothies always arrived frozen and I could see it didn’t defrost once on the journey. The Smoothie Box staff are also incredibly helpful and responsive on their social media platforms and emails, which just gives me an extra bit of confidence ordering from them.

Now, for the fun part, the actual smoothie! All their smoothies come in frozen pieces and blocks and you just have to add boiling or hot water to the cup to achieve the consistency that you want, for example add less water for a smoothie bowl and more if you like a more drinkable smoothie. You then add this mixture to your blender and blend until you are happy with the consistency and can’t see anymore frozen pieces. As easy as that! No more cutting up fresh fruit or getting frozen fruit and veg out of the freezer and then trying to get the right amounts from the bags while your hands freeze! Although the Iron Boost smoothie is not my favorite in their range, it is still so delicious and ticks all the boxes that I need for my pregnancy. It consists of beetroot, mixed berries, acai, ginger, banana, dates and chia seeds. All these ingredients together give the following health benefits:
• High in Iron
• High in Fiber
• Improved Blood Flow
• Lower Blood Pressure
• Antioxidants
• Anti-Aging
• General Skin Health
• High in Vitamin B9
• High in Folate
• High in Potassium

Another thing I like about this smoothie (and most of their smoothies) is the fact that it contains dates. It obviously adds a sweet taste to it, BUT dates are also known to assist with an easier and shorter labour that is less painful and to ripen and soften your cervix for birth! Dates also consists of high amounts of fiber, which aids constipation (this is a symptom most pregnant women struggle with) and in turn this natural laxative aids your contractions. Dates are also high in Vitamin K, Iron and Folate which decreases the likelihood of birth defects. Although this smoothie doesn’t consist of the recommended 6 dates per day from 36 weeks, it can definitely supplement that amount if you are like me and struggle to eat the dates raw and have to hide it in other food!

Some people might think (and have actually said so as well) that I am extreme with how I approach my pregnancy, but I truly believe that if you prepare and educate yourself enough, you will be calmer about your pregnancy and birth. Most women have to get a blood transfusion during their pregnancy to prepare for birth and the blood loss that comes with it, but I recently did the blood tests again to check my iron levels and it completely returned to normal, this means that whatever I am doing for my body is working and might even work for you to!

You can order your smoothies at

Enjoy the romance of wine, without the risk

By Angeliz Venter

A few weekends ago one of our friends asked me if I missed “the romance” of sitting with a glass of red wine and just relaxing… and that is when I realized that, that is exactly what I missed about drinking wine, not necessarily the alcohol content, but the romance of it!

As an avid wine drinker in the past, sitting down after a difficult day, pouring myself a glass of wine and feeling the stress of the day melt away, was one of the best things a drink could do for me! I always thought it is the alcohol content that gave me that relaxed feeling and maybe to some extent it was and that always made me feel guilty to a degree for enjoying wine that much. But recently I tried one of Zero Wines dealcoholized red wines from Norah’s Valley and I felt the exact same sense of release as soon as I poured myself a glass and sat down to relax.

Being 36 weeks pregnant, I often miss the social aspects around having an alcoholic drink and I think it is the same dynamic with having a glass of wine, even if it is dealcoholized. My experience might be different from what other people and especially pregnant women experience, but as soon as I had my glass of dealcoholized wine in front of me, I relaxed and with the first sip, it almost felt like I was drinking normal wine! I do believe that a big part of this sensation is captured mentally and it is not necessarily physical, as long as it is in a wine glass and taste as close to wine as possible. During my pregnancy, I’ve tried my fair share of alcohol free and dealcoholized drinks and even drinking apple juice with sparkling juice in a beer glass, but the Velvet Red from Norah’s Valley really did taste like the real thing!

During my pregnancy, I’ve seen pregnant women enjoy a glass of wine and I’ve also been getting a lot of feedback from people saying I am too strict with what I don’t consume, but one thing that was non-negotiable for me was the use of alcohol before we got pregnant and during my pregnancy. I wanted to prepare my body for pregnancy and I got educated on the risks of using alcohol during pregnancy. That being said, if you are a pregnant woman having an occasional glass of wine, there is no judgement and each woman should do what she feels is best for herself and her baby.

When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol content passes through your placenta, directly to your baby and your baby is not equipped currently to be able to process the alcohol, because the liver is one of the last organs to develop and it can have devasting effects on your unborn child.

Associated risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy:
• Increased risk of miscarriage
• Premature birth
• A low birth weight
• You baby can develop foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), which has the following implications:
1. Problems with learning and behaviour
2. Weak joints, bones, muscles and organs
3. Difficulty managing emotions and developing social skills
4. Hyperactivity and minimum impulse control
5. Problems with communication and speech
6. Susceptibility to seizures
7. Impaired hearing

After knowing all these risks, the decision to not consume any alcohol was easy for me, but there are also benefits in drinking wine, especially red wine that needs to be considered and THAT is exactly why I love Zero Wines. You can still get all the benefits of drinking wine; without the risks it imposes to you and your baby. One of these benefits is the decrease in your risk of having cardiovascular diseases. De-alcoholized red wine consists of the same level of polyphenols than alcoholic red wine, this is the antioxidants that reduce your blood pressure and prevent cancerous, inflammatory and neurodegenerative illnesses.

Here are some of the benefits of de-alcoholized and non-alcoholic wines:
• Lowers blood pressure
• Reduces blood clots
• Lowers low-density (LDL) cholesterol
• Slows the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson Disease
• Has anti-diabetic potential
• Fewer calories
• Helps with common cold

Taking everything into account, there is a lot of things to consider when choosing your go to drink for special occasions (or just every day) during your pregnancy. For me it was an easy choice, that I will continue during my pregnancy and possibly breastfeeding and Zero Wines makes it even easier with a wide variety of different wines ranging from red wines to sparkling wines. You can order directly from them at and they offer quick and efficient delivery nationwide.

This hormone free contraceptive, fertility tracker and pregnancy tracker are the future!

By Angeliz Venter

This blog is dedicated to all the people who sent me unsolicited messages after we announced our pregnancy, about how they ‘understood’ and can relate to having an unplanned pregnancy at a young age and basically just projecting their own experiences on our situation. Dear friends, (essentially strangers) we planned this pregnancy by using Natural Cycles to track my fertility, it wasn’t an “oepsie” as you so kindly indicated and maybe if you read the blog further you would understand a little bit better…

Great! Now that, that is off my chest, this blog is actually for all the women who are sick and tired of hormonal contraceptives side effects, forgetting to drink the pill, not understanding your body or cycle and wanting to track your fertility or pregnancy. I first heard about Natural Cycles from a friend and as someone who have been on the pill for many years, it sounded completely absurd to me, to use an app as a contraceptive. But I was so tired of having monthly headaches, anxiety, mood changes and just not feeling like myself. So, I consulted my gynecologist (it’s always safer to do so before making major changes to your contraceptives) and with her go ahead, stopped using the pill and switched over to Natural Cycles. The app has 3 different “modes” or settings, namely, Birth Control, Plan Pregnancy and Follow Pregnancy. I initially used the Birth Control setting and upon signing up, you have to input as much data and information as possible, to have the most accurate results, you also have to take your temperature every morning before standing up, with a Basal thermometer and add it onto the app. If you are in South Africa, it’s difficult to get the Natural Cycles basal thermometer, but I just ordered one from Takealot and it works exactly the same. The main focus is to have a thermometer that records 2 decimals and not just one, seeing that a fluctuation in those two decimals can indicate if you are ovulating or not.

At first, I struggled to remind myself to take my temperature every morning before going to the bathroom, but after a few weeks it became a habit, just like drinking a pill at the same time every day. It’s also so important to know that the app takes a few months to accurately predict your ovulation patterns, so don’t get a fright when you start using the app and have a majority of ‘red days’ (which means you cannot have unprotected sex due to the risk of pregnancy). The longer you use the app and add in your temperature every morning, the more ‘green days’ would be displayed, which means it’s safe to have unprotected sex, to avoid pregnancy. As with any other contraceptive, it cannot protect you against STD’s and other transmittable infections and diseases, so it is up to you to still use protection against these things. With perfect use Natural Cycles has a 93% success rate as a birth control method. This compares exactly the same as the traditional pill which is also 93% effective, condoms which is 87%, the vaginal ring which is 93% and the copper and hormonal IUD that is 99% effective.

It took a few months for my cycle to balance out and return to nromal after many years of using the pill and throughout we used the Natural Cycles app effectively to avoid pregnancy as my uterus lining was too thin from using the pill for too long and had to return to its natural thickness for a successful pregnancy. As soon as we were ready, we switched the settings on the app to ‘Plan a Pregnancy’ and the algorithm changed to help you track your fertility, with green days being fertile days and red days being unfertile days. I was told that I would struggle getting pregnant due to having PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and having my left ovary burst due to cysts when I was 15, so we didn’t expect too much when we started trying for our first baby. I will be honest and say that I also stopped drinking alcohol two months before trying and I also read “What to expect before expecting” to ensure that we did everything right as much as we could (that is within our control). Within my first cycle and ovulation after actively trying to fall pregnant, it happened! Even though we were trying and expected it, we didn’t expect it so soon and a big part of me had a fear that we would struggle for years! We were very shocked that it happened so fast and it can be attributed to many different factors of things that I / we did to make it easier to conceive, but I do believe having the correct timeline of your cycle, understanding your body and the process it goes through every month to prepare for pregnancy is what helped us the most to conceive.

The part I loved the most is then switching over to the ‘Follow Pregnancy’ setting and having all my data pull through to instantly indicate when our little baby was conceived and when is the expected due date. It also immediately gives you updates on where you are within your pregnancy, weekly updates on where your baby’s growth is, as well as the changes your body is going through in that week. You also have the ability to change the due date, as that is something most gynecologists would suggest if they see that the baby is growing faster than usual etc. You can track all of your symptoms, your moods, sex life and temperatures within the app during your pregnancy and this helps to keep track of how you are feeling through each trimester.

What I love about Natural Cycles, except that it is hormone free and I feel like myself again, is that you can set reminders to take your temperature before you stand up and it gives you nightly reminders of when to go to sleep for a good night’s rest and bedtime routines for optimal sleep. I also love their “Learn” section of the app. This is where weekly and sometimes daily blogs are posted all about female health, pregnancy, sex and many more as well as quizzes to test your knowledge about yourself, your body and female health in general. At least once per week I scroll through this section and read some interesting blogs or do a quiz and it’s actually shocking how much I learn every time even though I thought I know a lot on these topics already!

All in all, I love using Natural Cycles and I wish I was confident and educated enough earlier to start using a hormonal free contraceptive! I will definitely be using the app after my pregnancy, as I am scared to use anything hormonal again and especially when breastfeeding.

*Natural Cycles is FDA approved, but unfortunately, they are not yet working with medical aids in South Africa for you to claim back your monthly or annual subscription fee. AND I know as a South African, paying for something in $ is frightening (still works out at the same amount as the pill), that’s why I reached out to the Natural Cycles team for a discount code that works internationally. Use the code “Angeliz” for 20% off your annual subscription fee and save a bit of money. If you want to read more about Natural Cycles, visit

** I know we as women go through many different struggles and I realize that we are very blessed to have been able to conceive so quickly and effortlessly. I acknowledge that even with using the app effectively, there might still be external and internal factors influencing your fertility journey. If you are currently struggling to get pregnant, I am thinking of you and praying with you that your miracle baby would soon make his or her appearance. Much love, Angeliz. **

Your healthy alternative for fast foods

By Angeliz Venter

I will proudly admit that I am a woman who absolutely love “take-aways” in any shape or form since a young age. Now that I am pregnant, my love for the greasy options increased even more and it is one of the few things I could stomach the during the first trimester. What started bothering me, is the fact that I kept reading “your baby eats what you eat” and we all know the traditional fast foods does not contain healthy ingredients, to the contrary, and on top of that is also soaked in old greasy oil. This is why I was so excited to try Outcast Foods, who is a proudly South African brand that specializes in healthy alternatives for the fast foods that we love.

Before going further with this blog, let’s talk about my fears, as excited as I was to try these products, I was also very skeptical that it would taste good and that it wouldn’t make me nauseous, as all healthy alternatives do during this pregnancy. Outcast Foods has 3 core products, burgers, falafels and flapjacks and I decided to try them all. Firstly, I tried the activated burger mix. On first impressions I thought “Oh my word this box is so small and it looks like couscous, this is never going to work, never mind taste good”, then I saw the ingredient list consisting of lentils, chickpeas, buckwheat, onion, carrot, beetroot, sunflower seeds, Kalahari Desert salt, paprika, tomato, cumin, coriander, mustard, thyme, black pepper, oregano and my fears worsened. Although all of these ingredients are items that I love, I couldn’t imagine how it would taste as satisfying as my regular fast-food order. While my sweet potatoes fries were in the fryer, I got started on my burger “meat”. One pack of the burger mix will give you 4 burger patties and the instructions are very easy to use. You simply add the mixture into a bowl, add the indicated amount of water and let it rest for 10 minutes. As soon as I added the water, I could see the mixture thickening and I could visualize how it could possibly look like meat. After letting it rest, I rolled it into a ball and then pressed it down to make a burger patty. It surprisingly held the shape very well, with no crumbling and the texture actually resembled meat! It only takes a few minutes on each side to cook and turn brown and you are good to go! This would be a good time to add that I was supposed to create content with this burger and sweet potatoes fries, but at this point, it smelled so good that I just started eating and forgot about taking pictures. I can honestly say, it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had and by far the best vegan and healthy meat alternative patty on the South African market currently. There is enough mixture at the end to make 4 big burger patty and it is very juicy and filling as well, where normal fast food would leave me wanting more and then overeating, halfway through this burger of goodness I started feeling satisfied, without that nauseous feeling of eating too much cr*p. (No better way to say it sorry). My fiancé was also equally impressed with the burger mix, but then pointed out that he wants to know why it states that it is “activated” on the box. I reached out to the owner, Guy, on Instagram and almost immediately received a reply explaining that activated means that they soak the chickpeas, pulses and seeds, before they sprout to make them easier to digest and it also improves the nutrient absorption. How is that for customer service?

Of course, you know now that the burger mix is my favorite product from Outcast Foods, but let’s talk about their flapjacks. This is the second product that I tried on a Saturday morning and the mixture works similarly to all the other mixtures with just adding water. The flapjacks consist of activated buckwheat, chickpeas, banana, dates, chia seeds and a hint of maca. The whole pack makes around 15 flapjacks of 8cm in diameter and is again so filling that we couldn’t even work through half of them. I absolutely loved the flapjacks and the fact that you can taste the banana, but I would add dark chocolates chips from time to time, just to mix it up a little. I also like the fact that as soon as our baby starts eating solids, I can make these fluffy and wholesome flapjacks for him/her and not have to worry about unhealthy ingredients at such a young age.

Lastly, but not least, the falafels. They come in 2 different variants, the classic falafel mix and the crazy falafel mix. Both consists of activated chickpeas with pure herbs and spices, but the crazy mix has added beetroot, cardamon, poppy and chilies. I think if I wasn’t pregnant the crazy falafel mix would’ve been my favorite, but for some reason the spices just didn’t work for me and I couldn’t finish it, but my fiancé was very happy to finish mine and all the falafels that we made. I will definitely try them again after my pregnancy and see if it has a different effect as it is some of my favorite ingredients all in one, but for now I am sticking to the classic falafels in a falafel bowl or juicy pitta!

All in all, I am so in love with Outcast Foods and what they are striving to do within the South African market! They’ve become a staple on my monthly shopping list as they can be found online, Spar, Pick n Pay, Faithful to Nature, The Refillery, Wellness Warehouse and U Cook boxes.

Craving Salmon and sushi? Herbi Raw to the rescue!

By Angeliz Venter

The one thing I hear the most from pregnant women is that they miss eating raw salmon and sushi. For me I started getting those cravings even before I fell pregnant, because I watched a documentary called Seaspiracy and then immediately decided to cut out fish and seafood completely, except if it was caught by someone I knew or the occasional trout.

I found Herbi Raw on Instagram in the beginning of 2021 and begged them to stock a few stores in Johannesburg, fast forward a bit and you can now find them in Jacksons Real Food Market and hopefully a few other stores soon! I knew I had to try it, because I could satisfy my sushi cravings with vegetarian and vegan sushi, but I still missed having salmon poke bowls. I went and got a jar of Salmun, as they call this vegan salmon, and made my poke bowl. It was beyond delicious! The texture is actually very similar to salmon, which surprised me, and although the taste is a bit different, I would go so far as to say that I prefer Herbi Raw’s Salmun over regular salmon! It has more flavor and it also made me feel full and satisfied so quickly due to the fact that it is fermented.

So, what exactly is Herbi Raw Salmun? Herbi Raw was started by Tanita Boswell, with the aim to have and give people the option of having holistic health and being able to cook consciously. She regularly hosts workshops, yoga retreats and many more as part of her endeavor and through this she decided to start selling her Salmun commercially. The Herbi Raw Salmun is made of fermented and smoked carrots with capers, nori, acv, liquid smoke, herbs and oil. The first time I tasted it, I couldn’t believe that it was actually carrots!

There are so many things that I love about this brand and business, to start with the Salmun, it really makes me feel so full and satisfied and this is due to the fact that it is fermented, the downside of this is, that we can’t eat a jar fast enough and the first time it went bad in the fridge! Which is a good sign, because it shows that the ingredients are actually fresh and preservative free! Therefore I would suggest buying a small jar and not buying a week or two in advance as you might be disappointed that it went bad too quickly. Another aspect that I love about Herbi Raw is the fact that they don’t pretend to care for the environment, they actually do! Before it was available in Johannesburg, I asked if I could buy online and courier it to me and they said no as it won’t be worth the impact it would have on the environment and they would rather loose a few sales than have couriers driving up and down for a few jars… what business in 2022 is that serious about their sustainability? Tanita also keeps all the carrot off cuts that is not used and feeds them to local animals and horses, so there is no wastage as well. Their jars are also made of glass and I reuse them in multiple ways!

Herbi Raw’s Salmun is pregnancy and breastfeeding safe and I have been eating it during this pregnancy and it has contributed so much to my gut health and helping me avoid constipation, which is a common pregnancy symptom. According to a few resources, the enzymes in fermented food is actually even more beneficial during your pregnancy as it helps your body absorb more nutrients, which in turn means more nutrients for your baby. The one thing I am unsure about is eating it while breastfeeding as there is different conclusions to research out there and I want to try something first before recommending it to you. Most research say that fermented foods are needed during breastfeeding to protect the mother and reduce the risk of LM development, then there is other research stating that fermented food can contribute to colic in the breastfed baby.

If you are vegan or pregnant and scared to eat raw salmon, I definitely recommend trying Herbi Raw’s Salmun! Also have a look on their website for recipes, workshops and many more!