Statement Court Shoes With La Redoute

With a trip to London for my birthday to go to I felt a new outfit was on the cards and what better way than to hit the January sales. It is always better if you have a genuine excuse in my opinion! I am a huge fan of making shoes the statement in any outfit so chose some low leopard print courts from La Redoute which were, and still are, reduced from £75 to £30!

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The leopard print is slightly textured giving them a furry feel which is fitting for the quality. They’re true to size and aren’t too narrow which is great for my slightly wider than normal feet. The low heel gives that bit of height without causing me to wobble and they are genuinely a really comfy pair of shoes that look striking with a plain outfit.

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I wore mine with this Uttam Boutique ponte dress that I bought from Next for £50. The textured material gives it a thickness that is much needed in the current winter chill we are suffering and I love the little pockets at the side! That said, this photograph has well and truly forced me back into healthy eating and gym work! Well, after the birthday treats of London that is. More about that another time!

Shoes sent for review purposes. Dress paid for in full.

Recipe: The Easiest No Cook Tomato Soup And Chia Smoothie Ever With Lactofree

So last week I was approached by the lovely people at Lactofree and asked to be one of their Ambassadairies. This means you will be seeing more recipe fun on the blog over the coming months as they set me challenges to see what exciting things I can come up with using their range of dairy products that contain no lactose. You can read about Lactofree here from when I created some recipes with their products in the summer.

The incredible and magical genius that is the Nutri Ninja is my latest ‘can’t live without’ kitchen gadget. That monster whips things up in no time. In fact, both of the recipes featured in this post need no cooking whatsoever. They are clean and healthy and make packing that work lunch so much easier. A definite win for me.

Creamy Tomato Soup – Serves 4

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Ingredients

1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 medium onion
1 large carrot
1 garlic clove
1/2 chilli
100ml Lactofree whole milk
1 tablespoon of avocado oil
50g Lactofree mature cheddar

Method

Roughly chop the onion, carrot, garlic and chilli. Pop them in the Nutri Ninja with the Lactofree milk and avocado oil. Pulse until smooth.

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Tip a portion into a bowl and heat in the microwave for 3 minutes on high or until hot. You can obviously do this in a pan but the microwave was too easy for me not to take advantage of. Grate your Lactofree mature cheddar and sprinkle on top.

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I can’t find a simpler tomato soup recipe and this one tastes so fresh. The Nutri Ninja also has portable lids so I can just whizz some up and pop it in the fridge. Hello a week of work lunches!

So that’s lunch but what about breakfast?

Apple and Almond Butter Chia Smoothie – Serves 1

Ingredients

1 apple
1 tablespoon almond butter (you can use any nut butter really, I used Hognuts caramel amaretto macchiato cashew and it worked really well)
1 scoop of vanilla whey protein powder (I used MyProtein Elle True Diet)
4-5 ice cubes
1/2 tablespoon chia seeds
Approximately 300ml Lactofree whole milk
1 teaspoon of cacao nibs (optional)

Method

Combine the chia seeds with a tablespoon of water and leave for 10 minutes until they swell. Roughly chop your apple and put all the ingredients into the Nutri Ninja. Top up to the ‘max fill’ line with Lactofree milk. Pulse until smooth. Enjoy.

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I have said the cacao nibs are optional but they give this smoothie the most wonderful bitter chocolate taste with a slight nuttiness. One of these will keep you full until lunchtime

So there you have it! Thanks to Lactofree for setting my first Ambassadairy challenge. Keep your eyes peeled for more over the coming months and make sure you let me know what you do with your Nutri Ninja because I am now addicted to it! There’s plenty of other easy recipes on the Lactofree website.

Easy Lunches With New Pieminister Pie Pots

Most people can testify to the tastiness that is a Pieminister pie. Their award winning pies have been gracing our restaurant tables and supermarket shelves for some time now. But with it being January and time to skinny things down a bit, they have given us a new option.

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Pieminister pie pots contain a potato top rather than pastry lightening the fat and calorie count considerably. They come in handy little tubs which are perfect for taking to work and popping in the microwave for a quick lunch.

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There are four tasty options to choose from which includes the Meany Bean – mixed beans, butternut squash and chilli with a spicy potato top. Not only is it approved by the Vegetarian Society it is also gluten and dairy free. Add to that the fact it only contains 263 calories and you’re onto a winner.

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My favourite was the matador with its spicy chorizo and Spanish spiced potato top. There isn’t much meat content in these pots and they don’t really fit into my current paleo/keto plan but they are a good choice if you are after something warm, comforting and satisfying. Just like a hug from the inside.

The pie pots are priced at £3.69 and can be bought via the online shop or at Ocado.

Item sent for review purposes

Guest Post: Adaptogens – A Healthy Alternative To Coffee And Sugar?

Drew from Black Belt White Hat is on the blog today talking about adaptogens:

I first encountered the concept of an ‘adaptogen’ whilst researching the best ways of dealing with stress. I read an article regarding the herb – Rhodiola rosea. As an alternative to consuming copious amounts of caffeine and sugar to handle mental fatigue and ‘burnout’, these adapta-things are actually supposed to be good for you. Instead of giving you a short term boost like caffeine may do; they actually help (in some scientific way beyond my understanding) the functioning of the body’s response to stress, including but not limited to beneficial affects upon the adrenal system. Rhodiola rosea is a flowering plant, which resides in all the ridiculously cold regions of the world. Including Iceland, North America, the Artic and the UK. Like the good sceptic and all-round cynic that I am, I went straight to Google Scholar to look for some evidence regarding the claims associated with it. To my surprise there are proverbial piles of studies that support it’s anti-fatigue and anti-stress affects; including this study by Darbinyan et al, on the mental performance of physicians on night duty.

Now there are some recipes for Rhodiola rosea, but to be honest, it tastes pretty odd – it actually tastes much like a smelly flower.  It is quite nice in a tea however; kind of like Ribena crossed with cough medicine. In fact, I’ll often add a splash of Ribena to the tea. If you don’t like the taste, you can always try the tablets. Taking tablets, as we all know, is not a ‘nice’ habit to get into, but if you are feeling really stressed out, (like I was when I found out I was getting made redundant) then you might not be overly concerned and may not want to start drinking strange teas. Out of all the adaptogens I have tried, I’ve actually found Rhodiola to have the quickest and most noticeable affect on mental stress and anxiety.

Maca Powder Maca powder, along with chia seeds and sweet potatoes, seems to be all the rage in the Crossfit and Paleo community at present. I first saw this product at my own gym, and after asking 99 questions, I bought some and gave it a go. It is actually a lot nicer than Rhodiola Rosea.   It is also supposed to be great for both male and female fertility. I just throw it into my (hemp) protein shakes in the morning, I blend it up with unflavoured hemp protein, half a clove of garlic, a banana, some coconut milk, pumpkin seeds and hemp oil. Nom Noms. It’s not overly nice tasting when it is part of that particular concoction, I just neck it, and thing of the health benefits.

There is also a yummy recipe here and 14 more here.

Other Adaptogens of note: Ginseng is the most well known adaptogen there is, and Panax Ginseng is generally regarded as the most potent. There is research to suggest that it improves mental performance and reduces stress levels. Jiaogulan tea,is also known as Gynostemmapentaphyllum(!) This tastes a lot like green tea, and is often referred to as “Southern Ginseng” due to the fact they share similar properties. Although I’m reluctant to mention it as it sounds a little far fetched – this tea, or at least the plant it is derived from, has actually been linked to the death of cancer cells in scientific studies.

I’m not sure exactly how potent the benefits have to be, or exactly what the properties required are to be classified as an adaptogen, but turmeric, ginger, garlic and liquorice root have also been shown to boost immunity in one way or another.   Luckily there are dozens of recipes that these can be used in. Do not underestimate the influence of diet on mental function and general well being. Chocolate and sugar may be the food of choice for an immediate comforting reward when we are feeling stressed out, but try and act logically rather than emotionally whenever possible when consuming food, and reach for the maca powder, not the Mars Bar.

Author Bio

DrewBio

Drew Griffiths has a first class honours degree in Sport & Exercise Science from Loughborough University, and a Masters’ degree in Exercise & Nutrition from the University of Liverpool.  Drew is a keen martial artist and works in online marketing. He has his own blog – BlackBeltWhiteHat.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/MMATraining1980

Google + – https://plus.google.com/116809745404325304844/

 

 

 

Think Before You Flush – Preventing The ‘Beauty-Berg’ Crisis

Working within property management I know all to well the chaos that can be caused by flushing the wrong things down your loo or sink. Did you know that United Utilities attend over 53,000 call outs relating to blocked pipes in the North West alone? This costs £20 million a year!

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Most people know that pouring hot fat down the sink will solidify in the pipes causing them to block, but did you know flushing your cosmetic wipes is just as harmful to your pipes? They may claim to be flushable but let me tell you, they’re not! And they are causing many problems. United Utilities aren’t responsible for unblocking your loo which can lead to plumbing bills of around £99. Just because you didn’t put your cosmetic wipe in the bin rather than down the loo. Make sure you think before you flush!

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There are three little words that will help you stop this problem and prevent costly bills. Just remember there are only three things you should be putting down your loo, they all start with the letter P:

Pee
Poo
Paper (toilet paper that is)

It really is that simple! Keep a bin by your loo so you can dispose of your cosmetic wipes, cotton buds and pads easily too, that way you won’t be tempted to flush instead.

Gabriella from VelvetGh0st has also created this handy little video with some tips on post party make up removal, give it a watch:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cR8yNlmqAM

There’s also a great party make up look tutorial for you to try. Don’t forget the three P’s!

In collaboration with United Utilities

 

 

 

Beauty Supplement Review – We Beautify Collagen

Anyone who has reached their thirties is likely to have tried numerous creams, serums, lotions and potions to try and reverse the signs of ageing. Collagen is found in the outer layer of skin and is the foundation of connective tissue which keeps the skin’s structure helping keep it firm, smooth and plump looking. As we get older our bodies produce less of it making the skin thinner which causes those pesky lines, sallowness and lack of lustre. Wassen claim to have found the answers to our prayers and have created We Beautify Collagen, a short drink to be taken once a day for 4 weeks. Wassen believe this product will help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, promote younger looking skin and give a smoother and firmer appearance to the face.

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We Beautify Collagen comes in 10 sachet pouches and it recommended you use for at last 4 weeks, preferably 8 weeks for longer term benefits. Each sachet contains 5g of Peptan hydrolysed collagen, 100mg of vitamin c, 15mg of vitamin e and 2mg manganese.

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The sachets come in handy little tubes which make them ideal if you are travelling or taking them to work. There is no measuring from a jar either, really easy and simple. All you need to do is mix one into 50ml or more of water to create an orange drink. They taste similar to Berocca which I find pleasant so it isn’t too difficult to take one of these every day.

I only tried a 10 day trial of the We Beautify collagen so I don’t think I will have reaped the full reward but I didn’t see a huge difference. I only have fine lines and they didn’t change during my 10 day trial. I did notice my skin had a light glow after a couple of days and that remained until I stopped taking these sachets. This is definitely a good benefit especially in the winter months when my skin can go dull looking and pale.

My biggest bugbear with this supplement is that it contains sweeteners. As someone who is trying to eat clean I don’t want sweeteners in my body and this supplement contains sucralose, colours and anti-caking agents. There’s many studies out there that say these can be harmful to the body but then many studies to argue against this. I’d just rather it wasn’t in my supplements as a clean eater but then if you’re not, it won’t matter.

As with any supplements you can get the benefits from the health beneficial qualities of this supplement by eating the right things. You can find collagen boosters in fish, berries and dark green leafy vegetables. You can find manganese in green tea, in fact, 2 cups will give you more mg of manganese than this supplement does. That said, I appreciate it is easier said than done to get all these things into your hectic and busy lifestyle. If you don’t have time or need a quick kick start, give We Beautify collagen a go.

Wassen We Beautify collagen is available in packs of 10 sachets for £19.99 and can be bought online or in Boots where they regularly have it on the 3 for 2 offer. This makes it much more affordable and also gives you the chance to try it for the full time period to see the benefits.

Item sent for review purposes.

Health Product Review – Ovivo Organic Olive Leaf Infusion

We all know olive oil is great for us. It is rich in monounsaturated fats that help to keep our hearts healthy and, any beauty blogger will tell you, works wonders on moisturising and plumping the skin. Something new to me was olive leaf, specifically Ovivo organic olive leaf infusion. But what is it, what does it claim to do and, more importantly, what does it actually do?

 

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Ovivo organic olive leaf infusion is a blend of olive leaves and calendula flowers. Ovivo claim olive leaves contain double the amount of polyphenol found in an average serving of olive oil, this is the magical elixir that make you feel energised and full of life. Calendula flowers are added for their soothing effect and the infusion claims to support the immune system and aid sports recovery.

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The product comes in a glass bottle with a handy measurement guide down the side. It is recommended that you take 70g a day for 7 days and this guide certainly helps you to do this. The glass bottle also prevents some of the nasties that can be lurking in plastic whilst making it easy to recycle. All good so far, but how does it taste?

Surprisingly it tastes nothing like olives! The dark brown liquid looks very unappetising but actually tastes ok when chilled. It is rather bitter but grape and lemon juice have been added t the infusion which helps take the edge of the bitterness somewhat. Ovivo recommend you take either chilled, in a smoothie or in your daily juice. Unless you really can’t stand it these are viable options but I found it perfectly fine without.

Having tried this for 7 days I have to say I do feel more energised. Following a ketogenic diet has made me incredibly sleepy at times and I think this product has taken the edge of that tiredness expecially when doing a workout. I’m not sure, after taking for just 7 days, I could comment on its affects on my immune system although I do tend to get colds when they are going around. I have managed to avoid the one currently circulating our office though so who knows? At £13.99 it isn’t cheap but for the winter months when it is harder to get out of bed and stay away from the cold bugs I think I’ll give it another go. And let’s face it, it is a damn sight better for you than that can of Red Bull.

Each 70g serving contains 3.3g carbs which, for someone trying to consume as few carbs as possible, is a bit frustrating. I’d have liked a version of this product without the added grape and lemon juices as I am guessing they are the cause of the carb content. That said, I’m guessing this would up the bitter taste considerably.

Whilst this product quotes the double quantities of polyphenol I think it is important to note that it would appear, from conducting a bit of research, that olive oil and olive leaf have different properties. With this in mind make sure you choose one based on the benefits you are hoping to achieve. If you are after more energy I’d certainly recommend you give Ovivo a go.

You can buy Ovivo online or in Boots, Holland and Barrett and Whole Foods. It retails at £13.99 for a 7 day supply.

Happy Birthday From The Magpie’s Daughter

A while ago I replied to the most curious tweet. The Magpie’s Daughter , AKA Rachel Saunders asked if anyone had a birthday in January and to make contact if they did. Now my birthday is in January and I absolutely hate it. It is the 18th so most of my friends are skint after Christmas so can’t come out and celebrate with me. I regularly get combined Christmas/Birthday presents and then have to contend with what is considered to be the most depressing day of the year around that time too. It is not fun let me tell you so I was intrigued to know what she had up her sleeve. She asked for my address and advised a parcel would be coming my way. Now those who know me will know I am not famous for my patience and this little package arrived mid December on my doorstep.

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How I managed to wait until the 18th January to open it I do not know but I did. I was so proud of myself! I was already aware of The Magpie’s Daughter especially with Rachel being in the Manchester area. I regularly ogle her beautiful vintage inspired pieces and simply need to buy the Oh Honey Bee necklace at some point. The bee is such an iconic symbol of Manchester and I don’t own anywhere near enough statement necklaces in my opinion. Book lovers will also be hooked on the gorgeous Librarian Locket necklace with its bold red flower charm.

So what was in my beautiful little box?

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Without knowing me in any way the lovely lady had sent me the most perfect birthday present!

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On a beautiful brass chain is a small coin sized pendant with my birthday flower and two cute glass charms. It is vintage looking yet the small coloured charms give it a more modern edge. I love how versatile it is and it can be worn with any outfit.

I’ve never experienced kindness like it, thank you so much to Rachel for this beautiful and unique gift. Take a look at her Etsy store for more of her beautiful pieces. Something tells me I will be skint come payday!

Whilst I have not paid for this item it was gifted with no expectation of a review. It was too pretty for me not to share with you.

Lifestyle and Dating: A Singles Night In Manchester With A Difference

Did you know, according to research done by Channel 4 using data from the last census, over half Manchester’s dwellers are single? That is a fairly large number and whilst it is important to note some people are single because they want to be, there are also many out there in our fair city looking for love. So where do the people of Manchester go to look for love? There’s the standard options of dating sites and mobile apps but what about actually getting out there and meeting people ‘in real life’? A friend and I made a pact to try speed dating this year but can we find somewhere local doing a speed dating night? It’s so frustrating! Then I saw something better. Ladies and gents let me introduce you to a singles night with a difference.

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On 4th February, just 10 days before Valentines Day, The Milton Club will host a singles night with Sam Owen, a local relationships coach. My initial thought when I heard of this night was the infamous Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger. Would I be ‘vetted’ and paraded around in the hope that I fit the exact type that Sam had in mind for me and my potential suitor?

Well first of all this event is on a much larger scale so there will be plenty of people in the same boat as you or I. Sam doesn’t just coach people when it comes to relationships but also self esteem, confidence and anxiety. Just some of the things that may affect your relationship not only with someone else but with yourself. She will be on hand on the night offering mini 1-1 coaching sessions to help people go into the room with heightened confidence, improve their dating and conversational skills or anything else you feel will help. She uses a number of different techniques to do this, such as neuro and behavioural psychology, and has made numerous appearances on TV to share her expertise. She is currently the partner psychologist for Elite Singles too, basically she knows her stuff.

So why am I going? Well for me this is actually a better option than a speed dating event. There is no pressure to talk to someone you don’t like the look of, there will be lots of people in the same position and it’s in a bar. A comfortable setting will make it much easier for me attempt to relax into the whole experience. Almost like being on a regular night out but with an expert at hand to support, coach and encourage me through it. Who knows I may even find the man of my dreams.

The event is being held on 4th February and you can buy a ticket here. They cost just £20 at the moment and include a welcome glass of Prosecco. Will I see you at the bar?

The Benefits Of Cocoa To Any Diet With Hotel Chocolat

It’s January, you have totally overdosed on sweet goodies over Christmas and are now hitting the diet hard. You have done pretty well so far but you are craving that one thing that is really bad for you – chocolate. You’re not allowed it, it is the devil’s work and has far too much sugar in to allow you even a taste… but does it?

Hotel Chocolat have created a range of products using the benefits of cocoa for any dietary need including dairy free, gluten free, diabetic, vegan, low carb, low sugar, sports performance and paleo. Their philosophy is simple – to use only wholesome, real ingredients guided by the principle that more cocoa means less sugar. I for one am rejoicing.

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Hotel Chocolat’s sports performance range recognises the body’s need for a hit of protein and carbohydrates post exercise. In fact I reviewed My Protein’s protein hot chocolate recently and have seen many diet plans that suggest drinking chocolate milk after exercise. This one is pure luxury, heat your milk then stir in the chocolate flakes until they dissolve. They are excellent quality and would also be perfect for baking. At 70% dark chocolate the drinking chocolate is also low in sugar yet still has a deep almost earthy taste, really good. It retails at £10 per 250g tin.

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Hotel Chocolat have thought of everything with their low carb range. They recognise that low carb isn’t about avoiding carbs altogether, more it is about looking for low sugar, high fibre, high healthy fats and moderate protein. That is what my current Keto plan is all about so I was very excited to hear that this 100% dark Dominican Republic Conacado Cooperative bar had just 2 grams of carbs in half of the 7g bar! Unfortunately this one wasn’t for me, incredibly dark and very bitter I think it would be best used in baking but the perfect touch of chocolate taste for that very purpose. I am going to use it when I try and make my own Quest bars as it is also paleo friendly. Watch this space. It retails at £7.50 per bar but a little really does go a long way and the quality is evident.

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Also in the low carb section are the ginger and coca infusion tea bags. These are also no sugar, no calorie, dairy free, vegan and suitable for diabetics. There is a range of teas on the website using crushed roasted cocoa shells with different things, I was actually glad I got the ginger as the warmth really brings out the light chocolate taste these tea bags have. They are great quality and give a gentle yet noticeable chocolate taste that should see off the cravings for a good while. They retail at £10 per tin and I can’t wait to get some refills.

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Saving the best for last we have the Supermilk. Super is the best word to describe these little puddles of chocolate heaven. Milk chocolate with more cocoa than regular dark chocolate makes them perfect for people who aren’t fans of regular dark chocolate (I’m not a huge fan I have to admit) as you get that hit of milk chocolate taste without the high levels of sugar. They are good for carb counters too with 1 puddle housing just 1g of carbs. You don’t need many of these bad boys to see off your cravings. Hotel Chocolat call these a ‘game changer’. I couldn’t put it better myself. They retail at £5.50 for 65 puddles. A bargain if you ask me and something I’ll be ordering again.

For more options you can visit Hotel Chocolat’s website where there are also gift boxes for the different types of diets you can follow. Perfect if you have birthdays coming up… like me… I’ll expect my puddles in the post.

Items sent for review purposes.

 

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