Autumn Food Essentials

Want to know what to eat this autumn to help you stay in shape as ahead of the (dare I say it) festive season? Try a combination of different fruits and vegetables that have healthy written all over them.

Number #1 in the shopping list has to be leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and lettuce. They’re all super-low-cal, loaded with fiber, and perfect in a hearty soup.

Avocados should in my opinion be a staple food all year round, but if you haven’t got into the guac stars then now is the time. They are filled with healthy fats and vitamins, and taste great spread over a fibrous oatmeal slice.

My favourite desk-snacks to fill up on are: apples, cucumbers and tomatoes. Apples are perfect at this time of year and may help you to eat less as they have a filling fibre. Cucumbers and tomatoes are both low calorie treats that can stop you from bloating.

Another great way to prevent bloating is to drink lemon water. It hydrates and flushes excess sodium from your body to flatten your stomach and lemon soothes your digestive system, which helps you banish bloat for good.

My final autumn food must-have is brown rice as it is a complex carb that takes a long time to digest, helping to keep you full. Serve it with fatty fish like salmon to fill up on your omega-3 fatty acids at the same time.

Are there any new ingredients that your planning to try this autumn? If you’re starting a weight loss plan ahead of Christmas I’d love to hear more about about what foods it involves.

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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.

 

 

My SUPER secrets…

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I’ve started a new health regime that starts with me enjoying a fresh homemade (by me) smoothie every morning. My wake up drink is packed with goodness; I use a small avocado, a banana, a handful of strawberries and my secret ingredient Maca powder! Maca powder is full of calcium, iron, vitamin C and amino acids and it is just what you need to help you feel ready for the day ahead.

Another little gem is Rose Water as it helps to aid digestion and detoxify your body, and all you need to do is add a dash to your drink. Who doesn’t want beautiful skin and a trim body? I am now addicted to it as my skin has never felt so good.

One ingredient that I’m still trying really hard to love is Cacao. Most refer to it as raw chocolate (I still can’t see how it compares in taste to a bar of Galaxy!). It’s a natural sugar fix that provides a smoother lift than coffee and acts as a reminder to be more sensitive. I am still trying to integrate this into my diet but it’s hard when you try to replace chocolate for Cacao. Do let me know if you’ve managed to make this transition and how you feel now?

My final secret is hemp-seed oil. It is a delicious superfood that I add to salads or smoothies as I’m fussy when it comes to eating too much meat. Hemp-seed is the perfect alternative as just 10g can provide as much protein as an egg.

What are your health secrets? Have you recently discovered a new superfood that’s really working for you? Let me know below.

 

Salmon Salad

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The summer may be drawing to a close (an awful thought) but keep the summer spirit alive with fresh, inviting food. At this time of year it’s nice to look to the Mediterranean for recipe inspiration and create dishes that are both healthy and delicious. I’m not a great lover of salmon but this delicately season salmon recipe is packed with healthy omega oils, plus the mustard dressing adds a refreshingly tangy twist to really by your taste buds going.

Did I mention that it’s simple too?

All you need is:

Salad >

  • 100g green beans
  • 100g mangetout
  • 80g peas
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 salmon fillet steaks
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 40g rocket
  • 1 lemon, for garnishing the salad with

Dressing >

  • 3 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp English mustard

Time to cook…

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 and bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the green beans and mangetout, cook for five minutes, then add the peas. Boil for two more minutes, then drain.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the salmon with the lemon zest, basil and onion. At this stage add pepper and salt to taste. [It is best to fry the fillets skin-side down for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a lined baking tray and bake for 4-5 minutes for rare, a bit longer for well-done].

Now mix all the dressing ingredients and toss it in a large bowl with the vegetables and rocket. Serve with the salmon and a wedge of lemon. It is as easy as that!

 

Counting Sheep?!

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I’ve recently started a new job and by the middle of the week I begin to feel exhausted. This may be because I’m getting in very early and trying to remember all of the new systems and processes. But it could also be because I’m a little stressed with the change.

It goes without saying that eating regular and healthy snacks is a good way to keep up energy throughout the day. Eat every three hours instead of just having three big meals.

Research from The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends that anyone feeling tired should cut out caffeine. And I have to agree, in my opinion caffeine results in me feeling even more tired later on it the day. I gave up coffee this year as my New Year’s Resolution and I haven’t looked back. Green tea is so much better for you anyway!  Could love without it? Try to just cut down to one coffee per day (or week) and take small steps to get away from caffeine.

Alcohol can also impact sleep. I know that if I’ve drank too much of an evening it causes me to wake up even earlier the following morning – and that’s sleep that I’ll never get back! Research suggests that you sleep less deeply after drinking alcohol. The next day you’ll be tired even if you sleep a full eight hours.

It’s best to avoid alcohol before bedtime or at a least limit it to one night a week. The NHS recommends that men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units a day. Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day. ‘Regularly’ means drinking every day or most days of the week.

And make sure that whatever you are drinking you’re also staying hydrated with plenty of water to keep your body healthy.

Exercise is also important as it makes you feel less tired. If you can fit in a 15-20 walk do as this will give you an energy boost. It’s best to build up your physical activity over time with an overall aim of doing two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.

Personally I find that going to bed and getting up at the same time every day (or as often as I can) helps me to stick to a regular sleep pattern. Unfortunately I don’t have time for naps during the day but several studies suggest that daytime naps can hinder your evening sleep.

How do you sleep each evening? Do you have a regularly sleeping pattern or cut out certain drinks to avoid sleep fatigue? Let me know your experiences here.

September Recipe: Roast squash and sweet potato soup

nzThe roll down to the autumn season is getting closer. The first oysters fresh off the boat are, frankly, irresistible, but the rest of September’s harvest can be saved for deep midwinter. Preserve apples and freeze blackberries for use in wintry fruit pies. Here are two great autumnal recipes that you can enjoy right now:

 

 

Roast squash and sweet potato soup with buttermilk blue cheese sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 butternut squash, unpeeled, halved, seeds scraped out, sliced into 2.5cm x 2.5cm cubes
  • 500g sweet potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 2.5cm thick rings
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1.5 litres/2 pints vegetable stock
  • 125ml marsala wine
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the buttermilk cheese sauce

  • 125g blue cheese, crumbled
  • 250ml buttermilk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas 6.
  2. Place the onion, chopped butternut squash and sweet potato onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until tender.
  3. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly, then place half into a food processor and add 500ml of the vegetable stock. Blend to a purée and transfer to a large pan. Repeat with the remaining roasted vegetables and 500ml more of the stock – transfer the purée to the pan.
  4. Add the remaining 500ml of vegetable stock to the food processor and stir to catch any remnants of the vegetable purée, then pour into the pan.
  5. Add the marsala wine and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a little more water if the soup is too thick for your liking.
  6. For the buttermilk cheese sauce, place the blue cheese and buttermilk into a clean food processor and blend to a paste. Transfer the blue cheese sauce to a jug or bowl.
  7. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle some of the blue cheese into each bowl. Leave the sauce on the table for your guests to add more if they wish.

Marinated beetroot

Ingredients

  • 650g raw beetroot
  • 500ml white or red wine vinegar
  • 2 litre/3½ pints water
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 500ml olive oil

Method

  1. Wash and scrub the beetroot under cold running water. Place them in a saucepan with the vinegar, salt and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover then pan and simmer for about 1¼ hours until the beetroot is tender. Meanwhile, combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Once the beetroot is cooked, drain, place on a cloth and pat dry. Remove the skins with the help of the cloth. Cut into slices, place in the marinade and mix well. Leave for a day before serving. The beetroot will keep for several days in a covered container in the fridge but should be brought to room temperature before serving.
  3. Serve with some salami or air dried tuna.

The above recipes are courtesy of Nigella Lawson’s latest book!

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

GLASTONBURY 2014

Not all of you will be interested in this, but I went to Glastonbury earlier this summer – it was amazing! I recommend that everyone goes at least once in their lives. I would happily go again…here’s my Glastonbury experience in pictures…#HappyFriday

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Have you ever been to a festival? Would you go again? Tell me what you loved or loathed about it here…

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.

Z

Melon and Feta Salad

I visited my mum recently for some good food and have to share her recipe for Melon and Feta Salad. It is delicious – and perfect for a hot summer evening!

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Try it at home and let me know what you think to it….

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 spring of mint, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ Cantaloupe melon
  • 2 bags of baby spinach leaves
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced diagonally

Method

  1. In a large measuring cup, whisk lemon juice with pepper, garlic, mint and ½ cup olive oil.
  2. Peel cantaloupe, discard seeds and cut into very thin wedges.
  3. Line a large salad plates with spinach.
  4. Arrange cantaloupe on spinach.
  5. Sprinkle salad with cherry tomatoes, feta and green onion.
  6. Drizzle to taste with the dressing.
  7. Sprinkle with any remaining mint.