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The Armchair Personal Trainer

Ways to make your life a bit healthier.

Mel Yates, G&G

Better-for-you plants

The story of plants is long. They first appeared on earth about 700 million years ago and have since evolved into the weird and wonderful. Take Nepenthes Attenboroughli as an example. It looks like a green kitchen jug, harmless enough until you take a peek inside and discover a concoction of acids and enzymes.  Unlucky mice and rats fall into it, are digested, never to be seen again. And yes, it was named after the far kinder natured David Attenborough.

Lucky for us, most plants are not the carnivorous type and make a nice addition to the office. According to NASA, some even have the ability to purify air and eliminate certain airborne impurities. Sounds good, so here’s our top pick of better-for-you plants.

1. Areca Palm

Like donning on Versace and making an entrance? Then the Areca Palm is for you. They grow big, bold and command attention. Most are purchased as pups and then add an iPhone in height every year until they could give Usain Bolt a run for his money. They love bright airy rooms so make sure you have enough space for them grown up in.

2. Peace Lilly

Keep things posh, pretty and do your bit for a harmonious world with a Peace Lilly. They’re very popular and great if your green fingers are a little forgetful since they rarely need watering. They may be small but are excellent at keeping air fresh. Keep them sparkling with the occasional damp cloth wipe down.

3. Snake Plant

Remember the “If everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagon” adverts in 80s? Well, if VW made plants, this would be it. Stick one in the corner, water every fortnight and it will purr away as happy as a kitten’s first encounter with catnip. And while it’s not bothering you, NASA has shown it’s one of the best plants to remove some of those not so friendly impurities in the air. 

4. Philodendron

Become a plant whisperer with a Philodendron, they (kind of) talk to you. They love the indoors and will love you more if you place them in bright, indirect sunlight. Place near a window but where the sun never catches its leaves. If they...

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Better-for-you cordials

We’re not the type to endure the Marathon Des Sables, fast twice a week or purge our bodies on a detox break. Nor do we want to dine at the golden arches, glug on spoonsful of sugar or dunk a donut in our morning coffee. 

For us, life is about making better choices that are easy to stick with. And when it comes to cordials, there are three differences that make Elderbrook a better-for-you choice compared to others you might find in a supermarket. 

No added water.

We think it’s a little odd to use water as an ingredient in bottles of cordials, so we don’t do it. When you buy a bottle of Elderbrook, our promise to you is that you’re buying nothing but ingredients. No added water, ever.

No refined sugar.

We believe when it comes to soft drinks, we should all be cutting down the refined sugar without upping the artificial ingredients. We use coconut nectar rather than white granules to sweeten our drinks. It contains naturally occurring sugar and helpful things like vitamin C and minerals. We add a little stevia leaf too that helps keep our drinks naturally sweet. What this all means is that if you swapped out a daily glass of regular supermarket cordial for Elderbrook, you’d drink 2.3KG less of sugar each year.

Better-for-you ingredients.

The fact is, some ingredients have more about them than the rest and we put some in our drinks.  There’s only a small amount in each bottle so we can’t promise everlasting youth, waves of energy or sprouting wings but we’re the nutritional heavy weights of cordials. We also hope that knowing the difference between a mulberry and maca means you’ll start looking out for a few better-for-you ingredients to add to your meals (or drinks). 

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Better-for-you ingredients

We’re not the type to worship a loganberry or claim chia seeds have magic powers. But the fact is, some ingredients have more about them than the rest. There a lots, like blueberries, available in a supermarket near you but we like things a little more exotic. Here’s our pick of some better-for-you ingredients that you may not have heard of.

Baobab tastes like a cross between a pineapple and a melon. It has twice as much calcium as milk, three times more vitamin C than an orange, and three times the Bs of the average word.

The South American goldenberry goes by a few different names, and they’re all great: Inca berry, cape gooseberry and Peruvian ground cherry. Its proteins and vitamin A are good for your skin and immune system, and it’s pretty low in sugar.

Goji berries aren’t much to look at (think small, shrivelled, red). Don’t be fooled. They’re high in fibre, vitamin C and minerals, and they have more iron in them than spinach.

Mulberries are dark, juicy and good for you. They help keep your bones, your eyes and your immune system healthy. And they top up your vitamin C and iron. Not just arm candy, then.

There are 24 vitamins and minerals in yerba mate tea leaves. Like caffeine, yerba mate gives you energy and keeps you alert. Unlike caffeine, it won’t give you the jitters.

Rosehips are the fruit from wild dog roses. Once all their white petals have fallen off, the hips are picked. They have half as much vitamin C as an orange, so they’re good for keeping your immune system healthy. And hip.

Lucuma is the most popular ice cream flavour in Peru. When it’s not for pudding, it gives you fibre, vitamin B and minerals. And it releases energy slowly rather than in one big sugar-hit.

Yuzu is a citrus fruit from Japan that’s a bit like a lemon, mandarin and grapefruit in one. So it’s full of vitamin C.

Maca is not a former Beatle. It is full of iron, potassium and calcium: a holy trinity that helps your skin, bones and blood do their thing.

You may not find some of these ingredients in your local supermarket, so to make life easier, you can...

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In the UK, the average day stacks up a little like this.

  • 121 emails,
  • 110 checks of a mobile phone,
  • 55 minutes commuting,
  • 8 hours working,
  • 3½ hours watching TV.

We’re busy. That’s why we deliver Elderbrook to work or home so you have one less thing to think about. And our little bottles are beautifully designed, so you have a little moment of delight each time they arrive.

It’s more than a cordial thing too. We figure a little break from the daily grind without caffeine and biscuits has got to be a good thing. That’s why we’re here to help you be a bit healthier and carve out more time for you to enjoy life away from email, work, and the TV.

Elderbrook, a better-for-you cordial with added delight delivered.

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Why it’s worth the swap.


Crap was my first thought as I watched 40 litres of coconut nectar ever-so-slowly spread into a giant golden pancake across our kitchen floor. Perhaps we should have used refined sugar in our drinks; it’s much easier to clean up.

Apart from the sticky mess caused by a faulty container, spilling coconut nectar is an expensive business. Our expanding pancake set us back £192, compared to £17 for an equivalent pile of wasted sugar. But we think nectar’s worth it. Here’s why in case you’ve never heard of it.

Coconut nectar comes from coconut trees, naturally. It’s laborious to make involving tree climbing, tapping (or making a small incision in) the bottom of its flowers and then waiting several hours while collecting the runny honey looking nectar that slowly seeps out. (The flowers are completely fine and quickly recover to be tapped another day). Once collected, it’s slowly heated until the nectar resembles maple syrup, bottled and stored.

It has a few benefits compared to other ways to make things sweet. A squeeze of nectar provides more vitamins and minerals compared to a spoonful of sugar. It is low on something called the glycaemic index which means your body takes longer to make the most of it so you avoid a sugar crash. Angelina Jolie’s friends at the United Nations named coconut nectar the most sustainable sweetener in the world in 2014 due to coconut trees needing only a little water to keep them happy.

If you’re into cooking then you can swap it for normal sugar. It’s roughly the same sweetness and it works particularly well in baking.

If you’d like to give it a whirl then you can find it in supermarkets. Luckily, it’s sold in much more friendly little bottles rather than the extra large containers we use and occasionally spill.

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