Look After Your Eyes With Bausch and Lomb

As a beauty blogger I am keen to look after my skin. I use a good cleansing routine with a rigorous process of applying day creams, night creams, serums and eye creams to keep the wrinkles at bay. But when it comes to my eye health? I’m clueless.

The last time I got a cold I had the worst pain just above my right eye. At the time my friend asked when I had last had an eye test and she was appalled by my answer, I’ve never had one. I assumed having an eye test was something you did when you felt your eyesight was deteriorating or you suffer from headaches. I had neither so why would I need a test? It turns out I’m not alone in being rubbish at looking after my eyes with 42% of Brits believing deteriorating eye health is inevitable and Bausch & Lomb have some great products that you can use to improve your eye health and help with dry eye.

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One way of looking after your eyes is to take a supplement designed to maintain normal vision and slow natural processes of eye ageing. Ocuvite Complete (RRP £14.95) contains DHA, zinc, vitamins c and e, lutein and zeaxanthin which all can help to play a part in protecting our cells from oxidative damage. I’ve been taking zinc for a while to help my body recover after heavy workouts so it is refreshing to see it included in a multi vitamin.

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Not surprisingly I had no idea there was an eye care routine, very similar to my night time skincare routine, that could help alleviate the dryness I regularly feel in the morning.

Artelac Nighttime Gel (RRP £4.99) is designed to be used like your cosmetic eye cream with lipids, sterilised water and carbomer gel to seal in moisture overnight. I found after using this for a few nights that my eyes weren’t as dry and sore in the morning.

Artelac Rebalance (RRP £6.95) is an eye drop designed for day use to hydrate and protect the eyes when they feel sore or irritated. It contains wonder product hyaluronic acid as well as viscoelactor to strengthen the film of tears without blurring your vision. I found this was perfect to moisturise my eyes following a long day of staring at my computer at work.

Lastly there’s the Biotrue Rewetting Drops (RRP £7.95) which is perfect for contact lens wearers to sooth and refresh tired and dry eyes. The bottle is so unique it is actually designed to be preservative free so perfect for those who wear contacts. I don’t but I do like this product and it instantly wakes up my eyes around lunch time when the prolonged VDU use is starting to get too much.

I just hope, at the age of 33, I’m not too late to help prolong my vision and the health of my eyes, I’ve even booked that eye test! How about you?

Products provided for review purposes.

 

Beauty – MeMeMe Angel Face BB Cream and Flawless Loose Powder Review

I have had a love/hate relationship with Blemish Balm creams, also known as BB creams, for quite some time. I’ve tried loads of them and can never find one that is the right colour or the right consistency for me. They all claim to adapt to the tone of your skin and provide a youthful glow, the new Angel Face BB cream from MeMeMe Cosmetics (RRP £10.95) may be closer than the others at getting and I’ll tell you why.

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Unlike other BB creams Angel Face contains nourishing vitamins and essential oils including jojoba to help the product protect and hydrate the skin. It is light and moisturising so actually absorbs into the skin rather than sitting on the surface clogging pores and sitting in wrinkles. It also contains SPF 15 meaning there’s no need to pile the skin with other creams.

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The sheer formula is just enough to even out skin tone and cover small blemishes although won’t cover a breakout. That said, it doesn’t claim to.

Angel Face BB cream is available in four shades – porcelain pure, beige blush, honey lush and golden glow. I picked the beige blush which is a nude beige with a slightly pink undertone.

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As you can see from the bottom swatch the cream absorbs well into the skin and adapts to your skin tone really well. The light consistency also means it blends really nicely across the skin meaning no harsh buffing is required. I find this perfect for my weekend day face as it feels lovely on my skin and gives just enough coverage without feeling caked on or irritating my sensitive skin. For work I prefer something with more coverage but this feels like a real treat to my skin of a weekend helping to improve its condition.

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I do find that my skin starts to look shiny by lunchtime when using this product unless I set it with a little powder and that’s where the MeMeMe Cosmetics Flawless Loose Powder (RRP £6.50) comes in.

This translucent powder is super fine with light diffusing pigments to help mattify the skin. The powder puff included is lovely and soft although I much prefer applying this with a large, flurry powder brush.

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The light diffusing elements of this powder are evident in the swatch above but, like the BB cream, very little buffing is required and this powder feels lightweight and natural on the skin. I find I need to use a fair bit of it to get the matte look I like but, for the price, it is a bargain. And best of all? The products are not tested on animals, a real bonus with the current press stories surrounding some of the bigger brands.

Have you used MeMeMe Cosmetics before?

Products provided for review purposes.

Recipe – Matcha Green Tea Chia Pudding with Kiss Me Organics

If you’ve read my blog before you will have heard me talk about match green tea before. I reviewed Teapigs green tea powder a while ago and was amazed by how much energy it gave me by adding such a small amount to my morning smoothie.

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Kiss Me Organics  sell their matcha green tea powder via Amazon in an airtight flat packet so it slides right through your letterbox ready to give you that energy hit. With your order you will also get a recipe guide, Kiss Me Organics encourage you to use the powder in a variety of ways, not just knocked back shot stylee. My lovely friend Charlie made some great recipes with hers but I have to say, I’m all about simplicity so thought I’d try something a bit different.

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This matcha green tea powder is so fine you don’t need to faff about blending it, a gentle whisk does the trick. I thought I’d create something with a double health kick and those little chia seeds are all the rage in the health world at the moment. They are high in essential fatty acids, soluble fibre and a good dose of protein to boot. And did I tell you this is the laziest way to get the benefits of both? Introducing my new ‘go to’ breakfast… matcha green tea chia pudding.

Ingredients – Serves 1

1 Cup Almond Milk
1 Teaspoon Matcha Green Tea Powder (I used Kiss Me Organics)
1 Teaspoon Agave Nectar
1 Teaspoon Maple Syrup
3 Tablespoons Chia Seeds

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Method

Put the milk, matcha green tea powder, agave nectar and maple syrup into a bowl and whisk until smooth. I was extra lazy and put it in one of my protein shaker bottles with a ball whisk!

Add the chia seeds and stir thoroughly. Pop in the fridge for at least 2 hours if not overnight.

Enjoy.

I particularly love this with raspberries to add a bit more sweetness and balance out the slightly bitter taste of the matcha.

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Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea Powder provided for review purposes.

 

 

Mindfulness with Bikram Yoga Manchester

Life can be hard sometimes. Work, relationships, life in general – sometimes we need a bit of time out to think and reflect. I’ve tried yoga before and have to say I’ve never really gotten along with it. I have dreadful balance and let’s not even get onto the flexibility issue. So how I agreed to go along to Bikram yoga with a friend is beyond me, but I did.

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I went to Bikram Yoga Manchester in the Northern Quarter although I believe there is more than one now in the City Centre. Bikram yoga is the original ‘hot yoga’ – 26 hatha yoga postures and 2 breathing exercises performed over a 90 minute session in a room heated to 40 degrees.

It’s sweaty, that is a given. But I find the heat really helps to move my concentration to my breathing and control rather than worrying about being able to perform the postures or wander away to my life issues. By not worrying about it I find I am much better than I thought at holding the postures. That and the teacher talks you through each movement, encouraging you to breathe at all times, and guiding when to drink and when not to.

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This isn’t a quiet form of yoga, far from it. As a newbie you are encouraged to stand in the middle so you can see others around you as well as the teacher. You are guided, encouraged and talked through at all times. Those around you will breathe heavily, will audibly gasp to get more air into their lungs and perform the postures at different levels depending on how long they have been doing Bikram for. There’s a real mix of men and women of all ages, I’ve never felt more comfortable entering an ‘exercise’ class in my life.

I personally found that the heat helped my body to be more flexible and, whilst I ache like hell the next day, I always come out with a real sense of achievement and like I can conquer anything life throws at me.

Unfortunately for me no longer living in the City Centre, getting to Bikram regularly is proving to be a bit of a challenge but I visit as often as I can, certainly when I feel like life pressures are getting to be too much. Now I know my body can do this I’d certainly love to try other forms of yoga – aerial or ballet yoga anyone?

If you are interested in mindfulness you can read more in this article from Legal & General.

Images courtesy of Bikram Yoga Manchester. In collaboration with Legal & General. 

International Cheese Awards 2015 – An Overview

This year’s International Cheese Awards was bigger and better than ever with a record breaking 4615 cheese and dairy produce entries from 31 countries.

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I was lucky enough to visit on judging day where the tables were lined with huge chunks of cheese whilst the best in the industry touched, tasted and tested to find the best there was. I’m not entirely sure how they chose from such a large number but that is why they did it and not me!

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For the regular visitor you can expect a lot of tasting of your own as you walk the numerous stalls, chat to the cheese makers, sample their delights and – no doubt – come away with a bag or two to take home.

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I’m a bit of a sucker for something different and love the flavoured cheeses that seem to be popular at the moment. The Cheshire Cheese Company are based locally to me in Macclesfield and also have a deli within the Trafford Centre. I chatted with them for a while and was intrigued by the tequila, chilli and lime cheese. Bizarrely it changes in your mouth… first the hit of cheese, then a hit of chilli before that subsides to leave a zesty lime flavour. So different!

I also had some fun with the Lactalis range of cheese which you can see here. They even managed to get me to don a beret and string of onions for a selfie with the Eiffel Tower. The sheer amount of cheese consumed must have gone to my head.

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The awards themselves are a grand affair although, if you visit, you can also book lunch in this vast marquee. As you can imagine with such a huge number of cheeses there were lots of categories but the UK Supreme Champion was Greenfields Dairy with their Lancashire cheese. So nice to see such a local dairy pick up such an accolade. If you would like to see all the winners you can do so here.

I’ll see you next year when my ultimate aim will be to don the white coat and judge some cheese of my own, well, those flavoured cheeses have my name all over them.

I attended the International Cheese Awards as a guest.

Health – Crobar Protein Bars Review

When it comes to eating healthily I have to say I really struggle with breakfast. I really do prefer that extra half an hour in bed to getting up and prepping something nutritious for breakfast. Yes I know it is the most important meal of the day, yes I know it will set me up for the day in the right way, I’m just lazy. So I regular blitz up a protein shake or chuck some berries in yogurt and have that, recently I’ve been trying Crobar protein bars, and they’re a little different.

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Crobar protein bars have 19% protein per bar, contain no gluten, dairy or added sugar. And they are made with cricket flour, yep you read that right, cricket flour. Now I have to admit I am more squeamish than most. I’ve been presented with a BBQ’ed scorpion before and pretty much screamed rather than bite into it. It’s just not my thing. So when I was asked to try these I was a bit worried – would they contain bits of leg? And eye?

In terms of sustainability cricket flour is a no brainer. They need 12 times less feed than cattle, produce 80 times less co2 and require much less water whilst providing 65% protein, 3 times more iron than beef and all essential amino acids. So all that sounds great but what do they taste like?

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The bars are considerably smaller than the Quest bars I usually eat at just 40g and they are fairly high in sugar due to the amount of date added to the bars. It’s natural sugar but still, sugar is sugar and I try really hard to balance this in my diet.

The bar itself is soft and light without the ‘clagginess’ that so often somes with a protein bar. They are far from dry which I love, and the peanut crunch is loaded with chunks of peanut and sunflower seeds, it is definitely my favourite. The cocoa and chai is also soft with dates, cashews, goji berries, chia seeds to give a good dose of fibre along with the protein from the cricket flour.

There’s not a leg or eye in sight (pun intended), in fact, you would never know these were made with insects unless you read the packet. They’re not something I would eat every day due to the high sugar content but they are a great breakfast option if you are in a rush and perfect for a quick pick me up to help you recover after a heavy gym session.

Perhaps I should think about eating insects more often.

You can buy Crobar protein bars onlineand they cost £18 for a box of 8.

Item sent for review purposes.

 

Meet Your Match At TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays has been a firm favourite with my friends for quite some time so you won’t be surprised to hear that I regularly end up either at the Sale or Cheadle branches when we get together to catch up. As always, I’d rather try something local, but when friends are fussy and you are out in the ‘burbs, this is a pretty safe option. They are also more than willing to make changes to the menu meaning even the fussiest eater will be taken care of.

The new Meet Your Match menu promises to pair you with your perfect food match, whether that be bold and spicy or just a bit saucy, they say there is something for you. So I took the fussiest eater I know and went to see if we could both, indeed, meet our match.

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Things kicked off beautifully when the Head of Bar for TGI Fridays UK challenged me to make my own cocktail. Now I can drink a fair few of these pretty well but, when it comes to actually making them, I fall seriously far off the mark. That said I was in safe hands and my margarita had a lovely twist, the salt is on top of foam meaning you get a little bit with every mouthful. It turns out I make a mighty fine margarita.

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I tried one of his next with the cucumber martini and changed up my gin to Hendricks knowing the cucumber would work so well with it. There was also a hint of elderflower which balanced things out nicely and worked with the rose in the gin.

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Anyway enough about the drinks, what about the new Meet Your Match menu? We decided to try the Jack Daniels Bucket of Bones and the Double Layered Nachos. The bucket of bones we ordered without the fried onions and with the sauce on the side, told you he was fussy. I thought the ribs and wings would have been incredibly dry without the sauce but they were juicy and soft with the meat coming away from the bone beautifully. The sauce was sticky and sweet although I have to say I still can’t taste Jack Daniels in it at all, it may just be me. The nachos being double layered had gooey cheese on each piece topped with sour cream, guacamole and salsa. The salsa would have benefited from a little more heat but it was fresh and the nachos weren’t soggy at all which I was expecting with so much cheese.

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Onto mains and we shared the Warrior Burger and the Chicken Waffle Burger, the latter without the advertised honey mustard sauce. The Warrior Burger is really good, two 6oz patties sandwiched with mozzarella dippers, 2 types of cheese, caramelised onions and mayo. There is no way you can get this in your mouth in one so it is advisable to eat it either in half or with a knife and fork, not the way you should eat any burger in my opinion. That said the burgers are cooked medium so still pink and juicy and the mozzarella dippers added a bit of crunch. We upgraded our fries with cheese and bacon, it was the right decision. The bacon wasn’t crispy enough but the cheese? Samuel Adams beer cheese sauce, oh my. It is a good job they don’t sell this by the tub as I’d have bought their entire stock. Rich, smooth, cheesy and creamy – so good we carried on trying to fill our faces despite being ridiculously full.

Unfortunately the Chicken BLT Waffle was a bit of a ‘marmite’ one. Instead of a bun the crispy chicken and bacon is served between sweet waffles with cheese. Now I have to say this may have worked better had we had the honey mustard mayo it usually comes served with but it was all a bit dry and the flavours didn’t really work together. The sweet waffles were a little hard and dry making it tough to bite into yet the chicken was well seasoned and the bacon perfectly crispy. I’d rather have bread and you can have this instead, as I say, the beauty of TGI Fridays is they are happy to accommodate where necessary.

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Never outdone we finished with the Brownie dessert which was ok, warm chocolate brownies smothered in a rich chocolate sauce with smooth vanilla ice cream. The brownies weren’t sticky enough for me but the sauce and ice cream sure helped them stay from being dry.

The staff at TGI Fridays are eager to please and I left armed with a minion balloon figure, what’s not to love? As for Meet Your Match? We managed to find something to suit both of our palates and certainly didn’t go hungry. All in all a great option for a group of fussy friends who want a big feed and some pretty decent cocktails.

I was invited to dine as a guest at TGI Fridays and wasn’t asked to pay. 

 

Celebrate National Smorging Week With Castello

It sounds lazy but preparing a meal when you live on your own can be a right faff. After a long day at work combined with a gym visit, the last thing I want to do it be chained to the cooker trying to prepare a decent meal. Something I regularly do is prepare, what I usually call, a mini buffet. Bread, cheese, leftover meat, anything that can be chucked on a plate and eaten fairly quickly yet satisfy me is a particular bonus. Something I have learned this week is that this style of eating has a name! Dear reader, let me introduce you to smorging.

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Cheese brand Castello have taken inspiration from the Scandinavian smorgasbord and introduced smorging, a new way to enjoy premium cheeses in a tapas style rather than saving them for a special occasion. It is National Smorging Week from 24th-31st August so why not give it a go? You can pretty much use whatever you have in the fridge and, if you are around on Thursday 27th August at 6pm, you can send a photograph of the contents of your fridge to Scandi TV chef and food writer Trine Hahnemann who will give you tips on what to use for a bespoke smorg pairing.  All you need to do is tweet your picture or a list of your favourite store cupboard items to @castellouk with the hashtag #getsmorging, then join the Google hangout.

This relaxed approach to enjoying cheese pairings stretches as far as drink too. Do you enjoy a good port with your stilton? Or a fabulous merlot with your brie? Go for it, you only live once, enjoy things in the here and now.

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As for my smorging experience, I’ve already said I do this type of thing regularly and I’m glad I can now give it a name. My favourite is some crusty bread that’s still warm when bought, some salty parma ham, a selection of cheeses like these from Castello, some good olives and a pot of houmous. I used the Castello Creamy Blue which isn’t as harsh as most blue cheese, more like a brie with bite. The Castello Creamy White is light and buttery with a beautifully gooey heart whilst the Castello Pineapple Halo was my absolute favourite coated in chopped almonds and papaya for a fruity yet toasted taste.

I enjoyed mine with a glass or two of Torres Vina Esmeralda, one of my favourite Spanish wines and one I struggle to find other than in Bakerie or in Spain itself. I thoroughly enjoyed my smorging experience and I can’t wait to try pairing different cheeses with different dips and meats for a different experience.

Cheese provided for review purposes.

Recipe – The Ultimate Tuna Melt With Lactofree

The peeps at Lactofree are always thinking of new and innovative ways of helping you say yes to dairy and the latest is the ultimate in fuss free – grated cheddar. They sent me some to try and challenged me to come up with a recipe for the ultimate cheese toastie. I was apprehensive to be honest as I find pre-grated cheddar doesn’t tend to melt well, especially when the cheese has been processed in some way. This cheese isn’t really strong enough for me but DID melt well, what a bonus for lactose intolerant people out there!

Here you have it. My ultimate tuna melt, an absolutely favourite of mine with a twist.

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Ingredients – Serves 1

2 slices thick bread – I used Morrisons sunflower and pumpkin loaf as I love the nutty seeds
1 tablespoon butter
1 tin tuna chunks in brine – drained
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons red onion jam
50g Lactofree grated cheddar

Method

Butter both slices of bread and spread with the red onion jam. In a separate bowl combine the tuna and mayonnaise with a tiny splash of vinegar, season to taste.

Top one slice of bread with the tuna mixture then top with the Lactofree grated cheddar.

Put the second piece of bread on top, buttered side down, and either pop in a sandwich maker or a George Foreman grill.

Cook until the cheese is oozy and gooey, enjoy straight away.

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Lactofree products provided for review purposes.

 

Try Something New With Hungry House

Whilst I love a meal out as much as the next person, there are sometimes when only the comfort of a decent takeaway will do. We all have a favourite Indian or Chinese takeaway that we turn to when the thought of turning on the oven and cooking a meal is just too much, but what about thinking further afield?

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Hungry House have launched a new campaign encouraging you to try something new and there’s loads of cuisines to choose from. From Thai to Korean, Brazilian to Greek, there is something for everyone and, even better, you can get 20% off for the first time you try something new.

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I had a quick look what is available in my local area and I have Jamaican or Thai to choose from as well as desserts – I can’t think of anything better than a dessert takeaway! I’ll certainly be ordering some cheesecake to eat after my curried goat next time I order, that’s for sure.

To celebrate the TrySomethingNew campaign Hungry House are giving away a whole raft of prizes including Rebel Bingo tickets, Hungry House vouchers and also Red Letter Day vouchers. To be in with a chance of winning just follow Hungry House on either Twitter or Instagram and tag @hungryhouse in a new post with the hashtag #TrySomethingNew. You’ve got until the 31st August and full details can be found on the Hungry House blog.

What are you waiting for? That Thai green curry is waiting… And if you want to know more about how Hungry House works you can read my last post about their service.

Images provided by Hungry House. In collaboration with Hungry House.

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