Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Sweetcorn & Spinach Soup

This is a great recipe for those with busy lives as you can create a huge batch and freeze for another day. It’s easy to make too as you can throw all of the ingredients into a pan or a slow-cooker and leave it to cook while you get on with other things. The spinach and sweetcorn off-set each other beautiful and will fill your bowl with vibrant, mouther-watering colours.

Ingredients:

  • 500g Fresh finely chopped spinach
  • 400g Sweetcorn
  • 1 Sweet potato (finely chopped)
  • 2 Finely chopped onions
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 400ml gluten-free vegetable stock
  • ½ Tbsp rosemary
  • ½ Tbsp thyme
  • ½ Tbsp coriander
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Deseeded Birdseye chilies (optional)

Method:

Heat a large pan and add the onions and celery, and fry until golden brown.

In a separate pan add bay leaves to the stock and bring to the boil. Prepare all of your ingredients and place into a pan with the vegetable stock. Season and leave the ingredients to cook for 45 minutes on a low heat. Over the next 45 minutes, stir every 5 minutes or so to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. You want to give it long enough for all of the ingredients to blend and infuse. I like to throw it all into a food-warmer and leave it on high for 3 hours while I get on with other things.

You’re ready to serve. I often make up a big batch and freeze a lot of it down as it’s great for taking to work as a simply soup. I also keep some in the freezer for those times when I have no time and need good food fast. On occasion I’ll cook a chicken breast and have this with it to give it a bit of protein if I’ve just had a session in the gym.

 

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Acne Solutions 

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Spots are a pain to deal with no matter how bad you get them. Everyone wants clear, picture perfect skin but it isn’t always that easy. Good cleansers, toners and moisturisers can be expensive so it is worth try a few at home remedies to see if you can get them working for your skin.

 

It is true to say that home remedies aren’t as glamorous as industry cosmetics, and there is nothing beautiful about putting lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or crushed garlic on your skin. They all smell a little funny and tend to be messy to apply. Lemon juice has a drying effect that can calm problem areas and apple cider vinegar is packed with lactic acid that can soften skin – it’s a great alternative toner. Garlic can be the real winner for your skin though, with zinc and calcium properties it acts as an antibiotic and cleans the skin. It’s great for a weekly treat for your face (disclaimer: the smell might linger for a few days!).
 
 
An old favourite is honey – used for many at home remedies – but have tried it with cinnamon? Honey is antibacterial, hence why we use it for sore throats, so it can kill the bacteria that causes acne. Cinnamon is anti inflammatory so when paired together you can soothe and repair your skin.
 
 
Two surprising at home antidotes are tomatoes and potatoes. Tomatoes are great for your skin and the natural acidity in them can dry your acne out. You could mash them up to create a face mask or slice then up and place them on your face – although it is a task try to get the slices to stay in place! Potatoes are high in vitamin C (which repairs your skin from the sun) and vitamin B (which is great for skin regeneration). Shred a potato up and wear it as a mask to prevent wrinkles (you could even add a dash of honey into the mix to glue it all together and heal your skin).
 
 
Finally, the most soothing of the bunch CUCUMBER! It’s perfect for hydrating as cucumber is 95% water. It will remove dead cell and clear pores. Grind it up with water and use as a face wash to moisturise your face.
 
 
Not all of these treatments will work for everyone and let’s face it you won’t want to try them all. But I find some of them a real treat for my skin and enjoy making them for a little at home pampering session every now and then.
 
Do you have any beauty remedies for acne that you can share?
 

Seven of the best homemade remedies for your skin, hair and nails

olive oil

To me it is important to look after your skin, hair and nails but this can be an expensive habit with the amount of products available. It could be easier to make all the products you need at home. Forget putting cucumbers on your eyes, you can get avocado, olive oil, honey and even eggs to work wonders for your hair, skin and nails, and save yourself a bit of money at the same time.

Here are a few easy remedies that you could make at home:

1. Use olive oil as make up remover

This may sound counter-intuitive, as oil is known to be the natural enemy of skin, but olive oil actually counteracts greasy skin by naturally dissolving excess skin oil. It also gently removes make up, leaving you fresh faced.

  1. Make a hand cream from coconut milk

If you keep coconut milk in the fridge for a few days, it will thicken and become the consistency of a hand cream.  It smells delicious too!

  1. Create an exfoliator with honey and sugar

Sugar may be in the dieting bad books, but it’s great for replenishing skin cells. Make a quick exfoliator by mixing brown sugar granules in honey and rub away dead skin in a moment.

  1. Cure split ends with chamomile tea

Chamomile can also calm your hair; simply boil a cup of chamomile tea, let it cool and soak your hair with it before washing and conditioning to smooth down split ends.

  1. Strengthen your nails with beer

Simply mix equal amounts of beer, olive oil and cider vinegar to make an invigorating nail soak that will leave you with stronger nails after just fifteen minutes soaking.

  1. Make your own shampoo from egg whites

Whip egg whites up to a meringue-like thickness, it actually makes a fantastic shampoo, sucking up grease and dirt. Apply to your hair and rinse off with cold water – don’t use hot water or the egg will start to cook!

  1. Cure cracked cuticles with honey

Mixing honey and olive oil makes a wonderful home cuticle cream. Apply it to your cuticles for five minutes twice a week for quick results thanks to the smooth oil and energising honey – and adding aloe vera will heal cracks and cuts quickly.

 

 

Rainy Day Beauty Essentials

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Let’s face it; rain plays havoc with your beauty regimen.

Sometimes, especially if you’ve left the house without an umbrella (which I often do!), you end up looking like you’ve spent hours crying, as your mascara and eyeliner make their way down your face. And then, joy of joys, if it’s got really far down, you look like you have a little bit of stubble!

Hair is also another loser when it comes to wet weather. It’s either a totally tangled mess or, once it’s dried, you resemble Monica in Friends when she went to Barbados.

So, what do you do when faced with the prospect of looking completely un-groomed? Here are 10 beauty products which will save you from looking like a drowned rat. Unless that’s the style you’re going for, of course.

  1.  MAC BLOT POWDER PRESSED
  2. A PACK OF HAIRGRIPS
  3. A COMPACT MIRROR
  4. WATERPROOF MASCARA
  5. WATERPROOF EYELINER
  6. DEFRIZZER
  7. CORDLESS STRAIGHTENERS
  8. WATERPROOF CONCEALER
  9. PERFUME ATOMISER
  10. DETANGLING COMB

WATER: The importance of H20

According to a recent infographic that has been launched by SOMA – the sustainable water filter company – water is the best quick fix for your skin. The infographic shows the way your face and body suffer without enough H2O.

Not drinking enough water can affect your skin, eyes, weight, hair and nails, as well as making you groggy, hungry and grumpy. Bad hydration can also leave bags under your eyes, acne and dry skin.

More water helps you to lose weight – drinking two glasses about 20 minutes before a meal helps shed the pounds. It removes by-products of fat, reduces hunger, raises your metabolism and has zero calories of course.

It also gives you strong hair and nails, clearer eyes and smoother skin. And it provides a valuable boost to your immune system, helps regulate digestion and helps prevent ageing and wrinkles by moisturising your skin and helping keep it smooth.

So, whether you drink warm water and lemon, herbal teas or keep a refillable bottle or flask on your desk at work, this infographic will undoubtedly motivate you to keep hydrated.

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Metabolism Movers

Some women seem to be blessed with a fast metabolism that allows them the pleasure of eating anything they want without putting on a pound!

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The good news is that if you are not blessed with a fast metabolism you do have the ability to speed it up. Yes, it’s true you can burn an extra 500 calories every day simply by making a few pain-free lifestyle swaps.

Here are a few metabolism hacks that you need to know…

  1. Always have a hearty breakfast: avoiding breakfast means that your metabolism goes into starvation mode and slows down.  Try to eat protein with complex carbohydrates like an omelette made with one egg and two egg whites, plus a handful of sliced mixed peppers and onions.
  2. Elevensies: According to research those who drink caffeinated drinks metabolise faster by increasing your heart rate and breathing. Try to make the most of this by having a glass of ice cold water.
  3. Lunchtime Workout: Swap a long haul on the treadmill for interval training. Do as many reps as you can of the first exercise in 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then repeat eight times. Rest for two minutes, and then do it again for the other two exercises. Got it?
  4. Diner Date: Pile your plate with protein and chase your meal with a cup of green tea.

With each passing decade, your metabolism slows down by about 5%. This is largely down to hormones and the typical drop in physical activity, which can cause a loss of muscle mass, a major calorie consumer. So make sure you work on the above to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep you metabolism moving as quickly as possible.

 

Why I am tired?!

A quick snooze has more benefit than just reducing your dark circles – it gives your brain time to refresh.  It’s time to start focusing on how to get more sleep…

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A recent study shows that the brain’s unique method of cleansing itself – known as the glymphatic system – is highly active during sleep, clearing away toxins that would otherwise build up and trigger neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

If you still don’t feel refreshed after a long night’s sleep the following things could be getting in the way of your dreams:

YOU’RE DEHYDRATED

The amount of fluid needed depends on the individual, but you should aim to go to the toilet at least three times a day. Between six and eight glasses of water-based drinks – including tea and coffee – a day are recommended.

ALCOHOL

More than half of us reach for a glass of vino between three to four times per week to relax after a hectic day. While alcohol relaxes you initially, it can compromise your sleep quality – even if you are getting the recommended 7-8 hours. The chemicals in alcohol disrupt your sleep cycle, preventing you from entering deep sleep.

SLEEP APNEA

The disorder affects 3-7% of the population. Sufferers wake up because they stop breathing anywhere from five times to hundreds of times an hour. Sounds scarier than it us but you’ll sleep for longer because your sleep quality is compromised. Snoring, being overweight, and waking up with a headache – caused by a nocturnal lack of oxygen – are all symptoms of sleep apnea. Speak to your doctor if they sound familiar.

SIESTA

A nap can take the edge off an afternoon slump – how do you have time for naps?! – But the duration of your downtime is crucial. It has been clinically proven that taking a nap for up to 30 minutes is revitalising, but any longer than that and you’ll end up in a REM cycle for an hour. Waking mid-cycle can leave you feeling groggy so if you want to nap for longer, have one lasting 90 minutes.

Summer Skincare

With the heat of the sun beaming down it is important to take care of your skin in the summer months.

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Stay safe in the sunshine with the following tips…

1. Cover up

Make sure that you cover up in the midday sun with a stylish hat and good quality sunglasses. Getting sunburned will increase your susceptibility to skin cancer in later life. Who wants to look like a lobster?! Sun creams do protect you from getting burnt but they don’t protect you from the suns damaging effects – so cover up to protect yourself from UV.

2. Know yourself…

Check for any new moles and take note of existing moles that are darkly pigmented, change in colour and/or size, have an irregular outline and itch, bleed or crust. If you are unsure or concerned that you may have one or more of these symptoms, visit your GP.

3. Know your chemical sunscreens from your mineral sunscreens

There are two main types of sun cream: chemical and mineral. The main difference is that chemical sun care products need to be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure while mineral sun creams work right away. That’s because mineral sun creams form a protective barrier on top of the skin while chemical sun creams contain UV filtering ingredients that need to be absorbed.

4. Reapply sunscreen regularly

Apply liberally and evenly every four hours and each time you get out of the water. Don’t forget commonly missed areas like your ears, under your chin and the soles of your feet. Alternatively, if you don’t want to be slapping sun cream on every couple of hours try a long lasting lotion. Most are non-greasy and sweat/water resistant.

5. High-tech sunscreen?!

If you would like something a little fancier, try Gel Cream Colour SPF 50, which offers advanced protection both on the skin and from within. It is the only UV protection to contain Fernblock Photoimmunoprotection Technology – a plant extract clinically-proven to protect skin from damaging effects of sun exposure.

6. Eat a skin-boosting diet

A good diet with plenty of fruit and veg will boost antioxidant levels in your body to help strengthen skin so it can cope better with the sun.

7. Don’t get me wrong…

While it is really important to make sure that you protect your skin from harmful sun exposure, your body actually needs some direct exposure to the sun. Around 50% of adults in the UK have low levels of vitamin D which could be solved by 20-30 mins of sun exposure up to three times a week. It’ll make you feel happier too!

The importance of hair conditioner

I’m awful when it comes to conditioning my hair and I never do it on a regular basis. This is mainly because I have oily hair and I find that conditioner just makes my hair greasy. My hairdresser was shocked to discover this the other day when I had my hair cut and recommended that conditioner is necessary as it acts as a soothing balm for tortured hair. According to my hairdresser it tends to work on hair just the way a medicine would work on an injury. My lack of use meant that the signs of damage would surely start showing as time passes. Broken, untended, and damaged would become the way to describe my hair after every shampoo if it were not for the hair conditioning. It is safe to say that I am now using conditioner after every shampoo (Electric London conditioner) – so far no complaints and my hair doesn’t appear greasy the following day – and here are 5 reasons why you should too:

1. Nourishment: Shampooing removes dirt and grime, at the same time it also removes nutrients from scalp and hair. It is therefore imperative that the lost nourishment is replenished immediately. Not doing to would result into weak and easily damageable hair.

2. Protection: Conditioning hair means you are protecting it against breakage and also the climatic and environmental conditions like excessive sunlight which can cause hair to dry and break easily.

3. Moisturising: Conditioner is also an excellent moisturiser. It ensures moisture lost during shampooing is replenished. Well moisturised hair will not break easily. These also remain soft and silky.

4. Strengthens: Strong hair is undoubtedly the most beautiful hair. Strength comes only after the hair is strong and healthy. Healthy hair will always have its own shine and bounce. It will also have its own body, so will not dry or look disheveled at any point of time.

5. Smoothening: Many women and men have problem of hair breakage and hair fall especially when they are combing it. This can be because the there is a tendency to tangle and therefore, whenever a comb passes through it weaker hair tend to break. The conditioner will smooth your hair, so whenever a comb passes through it, it comes out and gives you the look you desire without breaking a single hair.

I love the conditioner that I’m using but I’m keen to hear what you’re using as I get to know conditioners better. What conditioner do you use and would you recommend it?

Beauty Tips: How to reduce bags under your eyes

I’ve started to show the sign of my commuter lifestyle…with dark circles under my eyes. There is no scientific way to reduce dark circles but there are plenty of popular treatments that are all worth a try. I’m going to test them over the next few weeks to see which one helps to combat my under eye bags. Here are the five treatments I will be trying:

1. Sliced potato seems to be the most popular option. Slice two circles from a potato, refrigerate it for 10 minutes and then rest it on your eyes for 20 minutes. The chemicals in potatoes help to naturally whiten the skin around your eyes thus diminishing those pesky bags.

2. Alternatively, you can gently place a chilled bag of green bag (wet the bag before chilling it) over your eyes for 20 minutes. The herbal properties in the tea bag will release to soothe your eyes.

3. If you prefer not to use food as a dark circle solution there is always water. Yes water. Place a spoon in ice cold water and then place it over your eyes for 20 minutes. It’s ideal to have a few spoons on the go so you can alternate the spoon every few minutes to keep things cold.

4. The good old cucumber slices. Place one slice over each eye for 30 minutes and rest. The anti-inflammatory properties in cucumbers reduce puffiness and help to brighten circles.

5. An obvious one…sleep. Research suggests that a 15 minute power nap can trick the body into believing that you’ve had a full night sleep. So hit the pillow!

If you have any tips or advice on this subject please let me know below.

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