How to make the perfect smoothie

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Anyone who follows me on Instagram will know that I am a huge fan of smoothies and I try to have one a day. My favourite is a blend of raspberries, banana and blueberries as it acts as my sugar fix, but all of that sugar (even if it is natural) is not good every day. Here are the ingredients you need to create the perfect smoothie:

Cinnamon – this natural sweetener regulates blood-sugar levels and you only need ½ tsp.

Cucumber – a great source of potassium water that helps to lower blood pressure and reduce fluid retention. Add ½ a cucumber to your smoothie to refresh your drink.

Maca Powder – an immune boosting powder that is energising and also acts as a good hangover cure (just ½ tsp will do the job).

Raw Oats – a modern take on porridge. The oats help lower excess cholesterol and also prevent constipation. Add 1-2 tbsp to taste.

Lemon – add a dash of lemon to help preserve your smoothie and all of the good nutrients that you have added to it.

Coconut Water – a stress-relieving juice that is perfect for combating bloating and indigestion. Add 200ml to your smoothie mix.

Mixed Berries – In my opinion a cup full of mixed berries are a must-have for any smoothie. Opt for raspberries, blackberries or blueberries and your drink will be packed with antioxidants, beta-carotene and Vitamin C.

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The Ways To Walk Harder

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Whether you commute on foot, like a stroll in the park or are a serious hiker, I’ve got a few tips for you to push your walk harder…

  1. Walk like you’re on a cross-trainer by swinging your arms. This will make your walk more energetic and boost your heart rate by around 5 beats per minute, which will get you into the fat burning zone.
  2. Don’t stick to the paths; go through the grass or sand. The drag factor will mean that your body is working harder.
  3. Try to walk tall; keep your head up and back as straight as possible when walking so you have perfect posture.
  4. Take the stairs one at a time, so you burn more calories. Research has found that ascending five flights of stairs one at a time will burn 302 calories on average, while taking them in twos burns just 260 calories.
  5. If you walk the same roads to work every day cross the road! This will give you a fresh perspective on the same sights.
  6. There are bound to be roads within minutes of your home that you’ve never set foot on. Make it your mission to walk a different never-ventured-down path once a week.
  7. Meditate on the go. The repetitive side of walking makes it a brilliant time for meditating.
  8. Get lost. Take the wrong road, discover new paths and do it all as fast as you can. A fast but long walk will boost your cardio and have added fat-loss benefits, without taking any extra time.

Recipe: Tom Yum Soup

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Time to share the recipe for one of my favourite dishes Tom Yum Soup. I discovered this on a trip to Thailand and have to admit that I ate it nearly every day during my two week holiday. It is packed with delicious flavours and spices and it is brilliant for boosting your metabolism.

To start this dish pour 600ml of water into a pan and add 50g of Tom Yum paste, 100g button mushrooms, 2 kaffir lime leaves, 1 crushed stick of lemongrass, fresh ginger to taste and bring it to the boil.

Simmer for 5 minutes; then add in prawns (and any other seafood you fancy) and leave to cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add a dash of fish sauce and a 1tbsp of brown sugar and lime juice to taste.

Divide between two bowls and enjoy with coriander on top. Not bad for just 250 calories!

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

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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.

 

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.

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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Should you run after a night of drinking?

Most of us know how awful it feels to have a hangover. But should you grab your trainers and head out for a run when you’re suffering from too much alcohol?!

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The problem with mixing alcohol with running is that they are both dehydrating. It is crucial that you are well hydrated when you run. Alcohol is a diuretic meaning that it works on your kidneys to make you pee out more fluid than you are taking in. For every unit of alcohol you drink, you’ll lose 100ml of extra urine – two large glasses of wine containing four units is nearly half a litre of additional urine. The headache and dry mouth that you suffer with after drinking is a result of this dehydration.

Alcohol can also interfere with your blood sugar. Your liver breaks down the alcohol taking about an hour to deal with one unit. While it does this it is unable to effectively produce glucose so your blood sugar tends to be lower while alcohol is in your system. Your liver may still be working its way through your alcohol intake the day after you’ve drank. Lower blood glucose can make you less coordinated, reduce your concentration and slow reaction times which can make you more likely to get injured if you run. Your liver is also slower at clearing lactic acid, which can reduce your strength and increase your tiredness.

You cannot sweat out alcohol, contrary to popular opinion; this work has to be done by your liver. Fresh air and gentle exercise can help to clear your head and burn off excess alcohol calories, but you need to take it easy and be sensible. You will need to rehydrate as much as possible and eat before you run. Take a drink with you and don’t aim to do your hardest hill runs on a hangover day.

It doesn’t matter what you drink, it’s the amount of alcohol in your system that matters the most. If you can keep track of you units you’ll be able to work out how many excess units you’ll lose in excess urine. If you can, alternate between alcohol and water by ordering a pint of water with every drink. And make sure you have a large glass of water before you go to bed.

Running on a hangover risks dehydration, higher injury risks and reduces performance so make sensible choices. It’s the hangover or the hill runs!

Is it ok to have sugar after a workout?

45Many soft drinks are often referred to as ‘energising’, ‘refreshing’ or ‘hydrating’. They should really be called ‘weight-gaining’, ‘tooth-decaying’ or ‘health-disrupting’.

Products like ketchups, cereals and sweet treats are typically full of sugar. They can be hard to spot as they often appear in different guises (caramels, syrups, etc.).

They recommended amount of sugar we should have in our diet differs from country to country, but the most are around five teaspoons for women and nine for men. So how many are we having?!

The average can of coke has ten teaspoons; a can of Red Bull has seven teaspoons; a Vitamin Water has eight teaspoons and a sports can bottle has seven teaspoons. If you’re a female all of the above will push you over your daily recommended allowance.

There was a time when fat was blamed for globally increasing waistlines and too much saturated fat, but sugar now takes the centre stage. This is because you primarily because the body struggles to cope if you continue to overtax the pancreas (which is employed to keep the blood glucose levels within safe limits) and body cells (which overtime get tired of opening the gates to let yet more sugar in). Insulin sensitivity then develops which normally leads to weight gain and can lead to insulin resistance or an increased risk of type II diabetes.

Many innocently assume that swapping full sugar soft drinks for ‘diet’ versions is the answer but the body doesn’t see it that way. Artificial sweeteners do nothing to dull your cravings for more sugar. Plus they still promote the insulin spikes that require the pancreas to work overtime!

If you train regularly try to swap your sports drinks for a banana, which provides vitamins, minerals, and fibre – and drink water!