Home hair care is the way forward for me especially since having kids. Finding the time to fit in a trip to the hairdressers is something I begrudge doing! I love the finished look that I could never achieve, but I really can’t bare having to sit in front of a mirror for an hour or more. Does anyone else relate to this?

I’ve never been one for experimenting when it comes to hair apart from when I was at university where I decided to go pixie short with my cut. I loved the freedom of not having to do anything in the mornings and the little amount of time it took to wash and dry. But the novelty soon wore off when I realised I had to make more frequent visits to the hairdressers to maintain this short style! And so I grew it back again.

My hair has a natural curl to it and is very fine. I used to always wear my hair curly then after having my children I started to straightening it as the curls began to look limp. This eventually takes it toll on the condition of your hair and it is quite dry these days. Then add to this the fast sprouting greys that are now appearing, which on brunette hair is difficult to hide!

And so my journey into hair colour has begun! I have tried both salon and home colours and as of yet still not convinced with the finished look. When Josh Wood contacted me a few months back offering me some of their home hair colour products to try and review, I jumped at the chance.

Josh Wood Colour Everything Mask

Josh Wood Colour Shade Shot

They offer an online consultation which will advise on what products are suitable to you. Having not long coloured my hair at a salon I wasn’t able to try one of their home colour products so I decided to go for the  Cool Me Down Colour Shade Shot combined with the Josh Wood Colour Everything Mask. This would boost my colour and neutralise any orange or red tones as well as leaving it nourished and glossy. There is also the option to go for a Warm Me Up Colour Shade Shot depending on your colour needs. These products are available for both blondes and brunettes.

Josh Wood Colour Root Marker

You mix the two products together into a bowl as instructed on the packaging and apply it to freshly washed wet hair and leave this for 10 minutes to work it’s magic. Rinsing off the treatment I could already feel the difference in my hair. It felt smooth and silky with the knots just falling out. This hair mask is definitely worth a try, even without the Shade Shot as it leaves my hair feeling smooth and nourished.

After blow drying my hair I could notice a little difference in using the Shade Shot. I think the more you use it the better the results! The last time I used it I had several people asked me if I had my hair coloured and complimented the way it looked. These Shade shots are definitely worth a try!

ghd AURA professional hair dryer

My friend was also given some products to try who has thick blonde hair. She colours her hair regularly with blonde highlights so wanted to try the Root Marker along with the Everything Mask. This is a handy handbag sized product. You can use it to cover up those stray grey strands as well as using it as an eyebrow pencil. That said she felt that maybe she had selected the wrong shade for herself. It didn’t give her the coverage she had hoped for.

Once again the Everything Mask was just as effective, making it more manageable  and left it feeling nicely conditioned. She has also used this mask on her daughters hair. They both have very long thick hair and found it very nourishing.

 

These products are definitely worth a try especially if you are short on time and money. I hope to give their permeant colour a try next!

 

Photographer – Jenny Duce

 

As soon as the clocks go back and the dark nights fall in fast you know that winter is here. We’re all huddled indoors with the heating cranked up getting our ‘hygge’ on!

Then come all the colds and sniffles!! As soon as the kids head back to school after that October half term the childrden literally drop like flies with one virus after another.

Somehow we’ve managed to stay well over the last year (I say this with my fingers crossed hoping I haven’t now jinxed myself!) by implementing simple things that make a lot of difference.

SLEEP

Never underestimate the power of getting a good nights sleep. Everyone in the family will benefit from it. When we don’t get enough shut eye we lower our immunity, increase our stress levels and we are definitely more irritable. Rest is healing and we do so much in our days that we have to stop and recharge. You know that old saying ‘burning the candle at both ends’, well it’s true – you just CAN’T do it!

Get into the habit of having an early night. Run yourself a bath, dim the lights and burn a candle and DO NOT expose yourself to electronic devises an hour before bed.

Disrupting you circadian rhythms can eventually lead to the risk of you developing diseases like cancer.

Circadian rhythms can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, eating habits and digestion, body temperature,and other important bodily functions.

I recently invested in a silk eye mask to sleep in from www.jasminesilk.com/silk-eye-masks and it has made such a difference to. Even my kids wear one to bed now ( they asked! ) and I’m now having to wake my youngest up. This is unheard of!!

HYDRATE

We all know that we need to drink more water right?! Dehydration will leave your body unable to eliminate toxins and waste materials effecting how your immune system will fight infection. It can also effect your energy levels as well as your ability to sleep.

Aim to drink eight glasses throughout the day. It’s actually not that hard once you put your mind to it.

Try investing in a reusable water bottle so you always have water to hand. I love this stainless steal bottle from www.tkmaxx.com

EXERCISE

As little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day can boost your immune system.

Physical activity can help flush bacteria out of your lungs and airways. The brief rise in body temperature during exercise may prevent bacteria from growing and help the body fight infection better.

It’s also a great way to slow down the release of stress hormones.

But remember don’t over do it………..it’s all about balance.

DIET

We all know that eating fruits and vegetables are good for us!

Our gut holds the key to our health with 70% of the cells making up our immune system.

Eat more of the right foods and you will feel much better.

Add more greens to your diet as they are better than multivitamins. Include things like kale, spinach, broccoli, swiss chard, rocket and watercress etc. You’ll be upping your intake of Vitamin A, C, K, E, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Try making a smoothie that is green, drink green tea, include more salads and garnish with parsley.

Think about turning your plate into a rainbow – the sight will excite you!

Reduce your sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake. The less you have the less your body will need them.

FRESH AIR

Get outside more!

When the weather is miserable it’s easy to curl up on the sofa and turn the thermostats up.

The air pollution in our homes can often be worse than outside. Air pollution can create some major health problems and people who suffer with asthma will struggle to breathe.

As an asthmatic I can definitely say that when I’m in a house that is too hot and lacking in air flow, I really notice a difference in my symptoms, making it harder for me to breath with ease.

We need oxygen full stop. The more exposure we have to it the better. It helps our bodies produce more white blood cells which kill off bacteria and fight infection.

Breathing in fresh air will benefit your lungs, mood and even help regulate your circadian rhythm thanks to the exposure of sun light.

Whether you choose to go out for a run, walk, cycle, sunbathe or maybe even a bit of gardening, just get out there whatever the weather!

I hope that you find this information helpful.

I am not an expert nor do I have medical knowledge.

I have been on a mission to find recipes that are easy to make, cheap, satisfying and something the whole family will love! Let’s face we all need a pick me up at some point through the day!! But quite often the things we crave and reach for, aren’t always nutritious and will lead to sugar crashes which make you feel even worse. I recently purchased and highly recommend ‘The Medicinal Chef’ cook book by Dale Pinnock. I’m obsessed with food and how certain foods can be healing for our bodies – which is one of the main reasons I’ve been blogging. We just need to know what foods to eat and what not to (which isn’t really that hard!). Dale Pinnock talks about food as medicine and the recipes are aimed at certain conditions. This recipe is great for Diabetes (Type 2), High Cholesterol, Constipation, Haemorrhoids, IBS. (Who’d of thought you’d find the word haemorrhoids and flapjacks on the same page!!!)

These flapjacks are tasty enough for the kids to be satisfied, and if they are happy then something must right!! My boys (including my BIG boy) are my biggest critics. I hope you all enjoy them to.

Ingredients

– 2 tablespoons coconut oil plus extra for greasing

– 2 apples

– 2 tablespoons honey

– 180g porridge oats

– 2 teaspoons cinnamon

– 1 tablespoon dried cranberries (you could use raisins or something you prefer)

– 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

Preheat the oven to 180oC and grease a 20cm square tin with coconut oil. Quarter the apples removing the seeds and place them in a food processor unpeeled. Blitz them until they become a coarse puree. You may need to add a splash or two of water.

Melt the coconut oil and honey together in a pan over a medium-high heat. Once they have combined add in the apple puree and stir well.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly to form a sticky mixture.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin, pressing down well. Bake for around 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

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If you follow my Instagram feed, you can tell I’m slightly obsessed with baking sweet treats. Being a mother of two boys you don’t really have an option. They are ALWAYS hungry! If I arrive at the school gates with nothing for them to eat………actually I wouldn’t even go there! I like to have options for them and don’t want them eating snacks that aren’t nutritious but still want to satisfy their ravenous appetites. I decided to whip up this recipe at 9.30pm just before bed and it was super quick and simple and really tasty. I have a childhood memory of eating nut brittle – one of my dad’s favourites and this reminds me of that.  The flavours and the crunch are there- ok maybe not as crunchy but it still satisfies that sensory sensation in some way. This definitely is one of my favourites right now.

Ingredients

-1/2 cup honey

-1 tablespoon coconut oil

-1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter

-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-2 cups oats

-1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts

-pinch of himalayan salt

Preheat the oven to 160oC and line a 20cm square tin with parchment paper over hanging the sides.

In a medium sized saucepan, add the honey, coconut oil and peanut butter and let it melt down together so that everything is well combined and the mixture is runny.

Mix in the vanilla extract and cinnamon and take off the heat.

Add the oats and chopped nuts and stir until everything is well coated in the honey and peanut butter mixture.

Pour mixture into the prepared tin and press down with the back of a spoon.

Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly brown.

Take out of the oven and then press down again with a spoon to make sure everything is firmly pressed together and allow to cool slightly. Carefully remove from the tin using the parchment paper and cut into slices. Leave them to cool completely and harden at room temperature.

Crunch and enjoy!

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I love making these! I can remember eating pot noodles as a kid and I loved them. For some reason I found it very satisfying pouring hot water into the pot and watching the noodles soften – I was clearly easily pleased as a child! But we all know that these aren’t the healthiest foods to eat –  well they are if you make this version. You can add whatever you like into them, using up any leftovers you have. What is even better is that you can prep these up in advance, popping your ingredients into a glass jar that is large enough for the portion size you require and take them with you to work or where ever you are going for the day – just make sure you have access to hot water and you are good to go!

Kilner jars are great for this recipe, if you can get hold of a clip top jar then they are even better.

Ingredients

Serves 1

-1 nest of spelt noodles

-1 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder

-a drizzle of maple syrup

-1 small carrot scrubbed and very thinly sliced

-3-4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced

-a small handful of frozen petits pois

-1 leaf of greens (spring/ green cabbage /spinach /kale), finely shredded

-1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

-1/2 garlic clove, grated

-1/4 red or green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

-2 teaspoons tamari soy sauce

-juice of 1/2 lime

Place all the ingredients into your jar apart from the soya sauce and lime juice.

Pour over the boiling water making sure everything is just covered.

Press the ingredients down with a fork several times.

Cover and leave to stand for 8 -10 minutes.

Give it all a good stir and add your final two ingredients.

This is so tasty you’ll never reach for a lunch time sandwich again!

Generally I try to plan my meals ahead for the week. As a family we have such a busy schedule, but then again who doesn’t these days. This means it’s even more important to make sure we are feeding our bodies with the right fuel to keep us going.

Being a mother of two boys who are rapidly growing, I’m learning that they are ALWAYS hungry! What I feed them really needs to count otherwise they’ll be back in the fridge looking for more food!

I try to give my children some freedom so they both get to choose one meal for the week. It makes them feel like they have a voice and they love that.

My son was adamant that he wanted a takeaway curry! I don’t give them that much choice and with a little compromising we decided on a lentil, pea and potato curry which I like to call a vegetable dahl.

It was a real hit!!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 onions finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic crushed

2 teaspoons fresh ginger grated

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon chilli powder

1 large potato cut into bit-size chunks

175g red lentils

1 tin tomatoes

1 tin coconut milk

200ml vegetables stock

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon himalayan salt

125g frozen peas

1 tablespoon lemon juice

a handful of freshly chopped coriander or mint

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onions for 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and chilli and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add the potato and lentils and stir coating everything in the spice mixture.

Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, stock, garam masala, salt, bring to a boil and cover with a lid.

Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the peas and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped coriander and lemon juice.

Serve with warmed wholemeal flatbreads or naan bread.

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These flapjacks are a total winner for all the family and great to whip up for when you have guests coming.

They are made with only a few simple ingredients and are totally satisfying. I actually find myself hiding a few for me as the kids don’t hold back!

What’s also perfect about these flapjacks is that they are so easy to make that the kids can get on board with making them too.

Oats are a good source of energy so these are perfect for an afternoon snack for my boys as they are always busy with after school activities so they keep them going until it’s time for dinner. While I do encourage them to eat fresh fruits and veg sometimes it’s nice to feel like you are having a little treat.

I like to top these flapjacks with bee pollen as it is rich in proteins and half of it’s protein is in the form of free amino acids, so if you don’t eat meat then this is great. Bee pollen also reduces the presence of histamine so will really benefit people with allergies and skin conditions.

After reading all of the above you’d be mad not to make them!

Ingredients

Flapjacks:

100g oats

3 tablespoons desiccated coconut

2 tablespoons nut butter

3 tablespoons coconut oil

a handful of sultanas

3 tablespoons date syrup/ honey/ maple syrup

Chocolate topping:

100g dark chocolate

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2 tablespoons bee pollen

Preheat the oven to 180c

Line an 8inch x 8inch square baking tin

In a bowl combine the dry flapjack mixture and gently heat the wet ingredients in a saucepan staring until melted and combined.

Pour the wet mixture over the oats and make sure everything is well coated.

Transfer the ingredients into your prepared baking tin.

Lightly press the mixture down with the back of a spoon ensuring the baking tin is evenly covered.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Once cooked allow to cool. I pop mine into the freezer for speed.

Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a saucepan and heat gently. Stir continuously ensuring not to burn the chocolate.

Once melted pour the chocolate over the oats and sprinkle the bee pollen over the top.

Leave to cool and set then cut your flapjacks into pieces – you can decide how big or small you like them!

I store mine in a tin in the fridge. They should last for up to 5 days (if they survive that long!)

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Being a mum of two boys means life can be hectic at times. I’m always busy making sure everyone else is feed and watered that I quite often forget about myself. There never seems to be enough time to fit everything in! These brownie bites are perfect to have ready to grab in those moments or even when you just fancy something sweet or chocolatey!

They are simple to make with only 6 ingredients.

Maca is known for it’s benefits in balancing hormones. When we live in a constant state of fight or flight where we’re always busy rushing around we produce the stress hormone cortisol. This can interfere with our immune system, memory function, bone density and cause weight gain. So it only seems natural to add this to these grab and go balls of deliciousness!

Ingredients

Makes 12

1 cup oats

3 tablespoons cocao

1 tablespoon maca

1 teaspoon orange extract

8 medjool dates, pitted

1 1/2 tablespoons water

Place the oats, cocoa and maca into a food processor and blend together until you have a flour.

Add the orange extract, dates and water and continue to blend until the mixture comes together forming a ball. This can take a few minutes.

Take about a tablespoon of mixture and roll into a ball. Continue this process until you have 12 balls.

Place balls in an air-tight container and try not to eat them all in one go!

Is there ever a right time not to have porridge? My love for porridge began early and probably from the days of those 80’s ads! Who remembers them? “This is the way to glow to school……….central heating for kids!” Children leaving their homes with a glowing orange/red ring around them! Anyone with me?!  Well the humble bowl of oats has come a long way since those days and we are definitely pimping up our porridge!

Oats contain so many health benefits that it would be silly to ignore. They are incredibly nutritious, a great source of vitamins, fibre and antioxidants and can help improve blood sugar control and lower cholesterol levels. Porridge is very filling too so keeping you fuller for longer.

I love experimenting with my porridge and this recipe is my perfect start to a busy day especially as I love carrot cake too. Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it?

Ingredients

Serves 1

50g oats

1 medium carrot grated

25g sultanas

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon maca

250ml almond milk

50ml water

a small handful of chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Place the oats, carrot, sultanas, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and maca in a saucepan over a medium heat.

Cook until the milk has absorbed into the oats and then add the water.

Continue to cook for 3 minutes.

Add your walnuts and maple syrup and serve.

I love anything that is easy to grab and pop into my mouth especially when their contents is doing me some good! The autumn has arrived along with all the coughs and colds that come with it. Generally we are pretty healthy and seem to avoid coming down with these viruses. I like to think that it’s done to the lifestyle we lead and the diet we have. If we give our bodies the right tools to function with, it will perform well. Just think of our bodies like a car that runs on diesel, you wouldn’t dream of filling it with petrol would you?! The foods we eat help build a strong immunity.

I’m very in tune with messages my body sends me and as soon as I’m feeling run down I know I need to slow down, drink lots of water, get an early night and load up with lots of healing and anti inflammatory foods and drinks.

These magic balls are like my version of a throat lozenge. They are packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, anti-bacterial and anti inflammatory properties and ingredients that can stimulate the production of immune cells. They are also a fantastic source of fibre.

With all of that information and the fact they taste great, I don’t think you have any excuse not to give them a try!

Ingredients

12 medjol dates

1 cup oats

1/2 cup almonds

1 tablespoon chia seeds

4 tablespoons lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon manuka honey

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

shredded coconut for coating

Remove the stones from the dates, place in a bowl and cover with hot water. Leave them to soak for a few minutes. Drain the dates reserving the water and place in a food processor.

Add all the other ingredients to the food processor and blend until the mixture forms a dough. If it’s dry add a little of the reserved date water.

Scoop out a dessert spoon of mixture, roll into a ball and coat in the shredded coconut.

Continue until the mixture is finished. This should give you about 20-22 balls.

Store in a large jar or an air tight container in the fridge.

~ 4 frozen bananas

~ 1 cup of strawberries & blackberries

~ 1 tsp maple syrup

~ 2 tsp raw cacoa

~ 1 tsp maca

~ 1 cup almond milk

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Not only is this satisfying (especially when you have those pre-menstrual chocolate cravings!) but it is also packed with health benefits. -Cacoa, also known as “food of the gods”, contains high levels of antioxidants, it is a good source of protein, it can aid in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and can improve digestion and leaves you with that ‘happy feeling’ due to Serotonins. -Maca is good for enhancing energy and stamina, improving memory and fertility. It can also help with female hormone imbalance, menstrual problems, menopause and boosting the immune system. -Berries are full of antioxidants, vitamin C, fibre and help boost memory. -Bananas are great for an energy boost, keeping blood pressure under control, reducing the risk of cancer especially bowel cancer and relieve constipation.

With all of these benefits in one glass it would be crazy not to drink it!!

It’s the weekend, it’s Sunday, the weather has been all over the place and I’m recovering from a hen do the night before; so what better way to spend the afternoon than a trip with the family to the cinema to watch Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’. An absolute childhood classic of a film for everyone! My dad has always showed my boys clips from the old movie on YouTube which meant we needed to purchase the film on DVD and it’s now one of their favourites. I’ve lost count of the number of times that we have watched it. When out at the Southbank a few weeks ago, my eldest son spotted the poster for the new film! We haven’t been allowed to forget about it with the constant nagging, moaning, whining that “it isn’t fair we never get to go to the cinema!” – Yeah right! We booked the 3D screen which I’ve never been to before. The lights go down, everyone is munching on popcorn (homemade with coconut oil and himalayan salt of course!) and the film begins. I thought I was going to be asleep in about 10 minutes but I was totally engaged. I had no idea how it had been remade but was amazed how natural and real the animals looked. Mowgli played by Neel Sethi was fantastic bearing in mind that this film was shot on a sound stage with nothing but puppets and a director. I jumped out of my seat several times, sung along with familiar songs and even shed a tear. What a lovely film.

My youngest son is a sensitive soul inside and out.  He has always had dry skin since he was a baby with your classic eczema patches in the creases of the arms and behind the knees. It wasn’t until he was in reception that his condition flared up to the point where it was affecting his everyday life and he needed to be sent home from school. Bless him, he was so sad and sore and his poor skin got infected. I made several visits to the doctors with him and they prescribed ointments and steroid creams as well as oral anti histamines which literally sent him loopy. I’m convinced that these made matters worse and aggravated his skin even more and his behaviour was all over the place. His whole body suddenly developed a red rash. The doctor had no interest in my suggestion that maybe his skin was reacting to these lotions. I felt so helpless as my poor little boy was so miserable and his skin got so bad that it was weeping in areas. I couldn’t stand back and watch him suffer anymore. We are very lucky and fortunate enough to have private health care which I’d never used before and I asked to be referred to a dermatologists. He was seen within a week where they gave him a blood test which revealed he had a server dust allergy!

I had done a lot of research myself into healing eczema and I have always given my children goats milk. Our diets are pretty good as I cook everything from scratch and we hardly consume processed foods. I didn’t want to start eliminating things from his diet if it wasn’t necessary and by having these blood test we were able to discover that nothing else effected him apart from dust. It also revealed that he was slightly deficient in vitamin D.

The dermatologist gave me advice on how to apply cream to his skin by using only downward strokes as to not disturb the dermal layers of skin even more. We used only Aveeno care, aveeno oil to wash in and she did prescribe an anti fungal cream which was quite greasy just to get things healing. He no longer needs to use this but continue with the Aveeno products. I’m glad I listened to my gut and pushed to be referred as he started to recover pretty quickly. Also knowing he wasn’t on medication and steroid creams made me feel more comfortable. Are bodies are amazing and can heal if we treat the cause rather than the symptom.

I now have to be very thorough with the cleaning as to keep the house dust free. I change the bed linen once a week and put the washing machine on an extra rinse cycle as to ensure all the washing detergent has been rinsed out properly. I buy only cotton clothes for him, which isn’t as bad as I thought and once you know where to look it’s easy. I also change all his bedding to cotton. It’s amazing how little cotton is used if you’re not aware. All these synthetic fibres make it hard for the skin to breathe.

We did go a whole step further and decided to instal a water filter system on to our water mains.  We  were in the process of planning a total renovation of our house so this made sense. There are so many chemicals in our water that over time can do our bodies harm. I know this may sound quite extreme to some people but knowing that all our water is totally free of toxins and chemicals gives me peace of mind. We also had a water softener fitted as the water in London is very hard and drying to our delicate skin. Honestly the difference in his skin is amazing! He has never had baby soft skin but finally he now does.

I’m a big fan of juices and smoothies and I really believe that including all of these into his diet has also made a huge difference. Our bodies need so many different minerals and nutrients to function properly and stay healthy. These drinks will ensure that he is getting what he needs and taste great.

My son loves pineapple and it always helps to sweet things up. This smoothie is so tasty and is super quick to make even for a busy family!

Greena-pina-Colada

a large handful spinach leaves/ 3 cubes of frozen

1/4 pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks

100ml coconut/almond milk

1/2 avocado, peeled

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp ground turmeric (optional)

100ml coconut water/ water

Place all ingredients into the blender and blend until you have a smooth consistency.

      

Please bare in mind that I am in no way medically qualified and I will only share with you my experience.

Apparently we’ve been flipping pancakes since as far back as 1439. Why change a tradition that works? We LOVE pancakes in this household and certainly don’t wait until ‘Shrove Tuesday’ to make them! And what a simple list of ingredients – eggs, flour, salt and milk.

I have so many fond childhood memories of pancake day, we never made pancakes at any other time of the year and I loved them – hence why we have them all year round now! But there are so many recipes out there and so many different types to be had. Do you go for the standard lemon and sugar? Do you roll or fold? Or is it the American pancakes that turn those taste buds on? To be honest I love them all and trust me I’ve tried many recipes and with many topping variations:- crepes with pistachio, pomegranate & maple syrup, or banana, walnuts & maple syrup, how about the classic strawberries & nutella, or maybe something a little healthier like banana, greek yoghurt & flaked almonds.

Getting the kids involved is really important for me and I think they get a lot from it too. We tried out a recipe from www.Jamieoliver.com and they were a total hit!

Pancakes with grated pear

Ingredients

1 cup of self-raising flour

1 cup of semi-skimmed milk

1 large free-range egg

1 pear

salt

Method

Put the flour (you could use wholemeal or spelt as a healthier option), milk, eggs & a pinch of salt into a mixing bowl & whisk until smooth.

Once combined, grate in the pear (core and all), then gently stir through.

Heat a large pan on a medium heat with butter ( I used coconut oil), then add the batter, a spoonful at a time and working in batches, cooking for a few minutes at a time, then flipping them over (of course!)  and cooking for a few minutes more until they are done.

Serve with a dollop of yoghurt, maple syrup or honey and lots of berries.

“Another year over……..a new one’s just begun!” – that’s what is playing over in my head as I’m sat here tapping away. Well Happy New Year to you all!!

Over the last year I have travelled a journey where time has got lost and I look back over that time and feel exhausted! It’s easy to forget what you have actually achieved in a year and I quite often give myself a hard time, feeling I could have done better or could have done more. I realise that I am my own worst enemy! It’s easy to focus on all the things you’ve not done and forgot about all that you’ve accomplished. I often set myself goals that put the pressure on and if I don’t reach them, then I feel like I’ve failed. So I have decided that I won’t be setting myself any new years resolutions this year – instead I have decided to treat myself kindly.

Over the next year I hope to share and inspire and hope you will enjoy the journey with me – so hop on aboard, it’s 2017!!

I’m a huge fan of juicing and it’s a great thing that it is now such a trend but I do hope that everyone really understands the true benefits that we can gain from our daily juices.

I started juicing almost three years ago after extensive research during my sisters battle with bowel cancer. Unfortunately we couldn’t convince her of the benefits and by this stage her cancer had progressed so she was unable to eat or drink anything.  With this diagnosis in the family I could not ignore the information  I had discovered and so my juicing journey began.

Apple, Carrot & Lemon Juice

This juice is a real favourite in my house and with two little boys to win over I always go to them for their verdict. Okay so they’re not going to like every juice I put in front of them but I will certainly keep exposing them to every flavour I can so that I’ll never limit their taste buds or diet.

We’ve all heard the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and this couldn’t be more true. The compounds in apples are high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.      Asthmatics could really benefit from juicing apples and it is said that asthmatics who drink a daily dose of apple juice will encounter less wheezing and asthma attacks due to the high Vitamin C and anti-oxidant compounds. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a doctor but as an asthmatic myself I can honestly say that my condition has greatly improved and if you were to look at my medical records you would see that my need to use my inhalers has reduced considerable to the point that I barely use it.                                                         Not only are they a good source of Vitamin A and C but also of potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorus. Apple peels contain a third more of the fruits compounds thought to be useful in fighting certain cancers such as lung cancer. It can also help battle against heart disease.  Quercetin which is found in the peel may be particularly helpful in the fight against colon cancer.

The carrot is one of the most healing foods especially when juiced. It’s a source pro-vitamin A, Vitamins C, D, E, K, B1 and B6. They also contain phyto-nutrients which are nature’s marvellous provision for healing of various diseases. Drinking carrot juice regulary will help protect the respiratory system from infections and free radical attacks. A carrot a day significantly reduces cancer risks. They also help ease congestion by dispelling mucus from the ear, nose and throat area. They are also great for boosting the immune system by increasing the production and performance of white blood cells.

Lemon juice acts as a antibacterial force inside your stomach. They’re immune boosting and help alkalise the body. It is a great liver cleanser by helping the liver flush out toxins. They contain powerful antioxidants that help neutralise free radicals and help reduce inflammation. Lemons also contain anti-cancer properties which slows the growth of tumours. It is said that a tablespoon of lemon juice an hour before each meal can relieve asthma.

With all this in mind what are you for?? Get juicing!!

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Extreme situations = Extreme change

It has already been a year since I began this journey!! Blogging, it’s all the rage now. I decided to blogg, I think, as a way of clearing my head of negative thoughts, a healing process maybe. Having lost my sister to bowel cancer I did not know how to cope or function. With a young family of my own as well as the family my sister left behind, I needed to find a way to carry on and stay strong! I look back now and wonder how on earth I’ve survived this last year. Full of grief and overwhelming emotions which you cannot make any sense of, I’ve some how got through it! It’s still an everyday battle dealing with such a huge lose but having something else to focus on has really helped. I didn’t set out to preach or dictate to anyone through my writing or images but a way of sharing my knowledge, which I feel everyone else could benefit from. When my sister received her diagnosis, we were all left feeling numb, shocked and in total panic. We all know that cancer is a killer but I wanted to hear about all the success stories. I wanted to believe she would survive, I wasn’t willing to sit back and just let the doctors make all the decisions and hope that something might work! I wanted to find out what we were really dealing with and learn from other people’s experiences. Sometimes it’s about taking control of a situation, we couldn’t control what had happened but we could maybe control the outcome in some way. And so my research began. What I’ve learnt and been made aware of throughout all of this is something I felt I needed to share. We couldn’t help my sister or change her outcome because maybe by then it was too late and also she wasn’t willing to embrace the change, but of course that was her choice and that is what we all had to accept and respect. But to sit back and not share our new knowledge would be the worst thing. If we could prevent things like this happening again, then at least it would help ease the pain.

Our lives have changed considerably; we have totally transformed our diets by juicing, cutting back on our animal intake and cooking from natural whole foods. I don’t believe we will live forever but I do believe that we can heal ourselves and make our journey a much more pleasant ride with a few less bumps along the way! We all know that smoking will harm our lungs and that excessive alcohol consumption will damage our liver, so it only makes sense that what we chose to eat will have an impact on our bodies. We must also consider the amount of exercise we get. Exercise definitely has a major impact on our wellbeing to and this is something I need to focus more on for my next chapter but we can’t do everything in one go. Small changes make a difference, if we are realistic with what we need to change to achieve our goals; we are more likely to succeed and enjoy life!

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International Day of Happiness – Did you know that this existed?! There seems to be a day for everything now, but actually this day is important when you think about it. We live in a fast past society and it seems we never have any time. We are all rushing here, there and everywhere, trying to do this and that, fitting in as much as we can into our already busy and crammed schedules………….and breathe………….isn’t that nice?? Do we ever take time to slow down and look at what really makes us happy? Are we doing the things that truly give us joy and pleasure. When we do finely slow down, it’s pretty amazing. For me, when I forget about all the things that stress me out or irritate me I think ‘yeah life is pretty great!’.

Then I think about what is making my inside happy. Is what you eat making your inside happy? Do you ever stop to think about whether your choice of food is nourishing and giving your body the tools it needs to be happy and healthy? When we are tired and haven’t had time to stop and breath you start to crave those easy food options that probably won’t give you the nutrients and vitamins you truly require. I’m guilty of that to but it is important to be mindful of your choices. Be happy and be healthy inside and out!

A few things that make me happy!

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Listening to the radio today while I was getting ready for the school run, my ears perked up when an advert came on for ‘Change 4 Life’ which is the NHS campaign for encouraging a better lifestyle and it’s slogan is, ‘Eat well Move more Live longer’. It spoke about sugar swaps, as you may be having more sugar than you realise and maybe try swapping it for something else. It then went on to talk about the links cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes has with high sugar consumption. We need more of these campaigns!!! Do you really believe there is no link between these diseases and our poor diets?? Are are we all just living in ignorant bliss? It is the easy option after all! I don’t know about you, but I’m surrounded by friends and family who have one condition or another and are even Ill with disease.  If you think about their diet, you can see that there is definitely a link with the state of their health and their diet/lifestyle. Besides all that, we could all do better to improve.
So I continue with preparing my son’s packed lunch and wonder why I always feel guilty about standing my ground when I’m in a situation where my children are offered sugary sweets, chocolates and biscuits and I say, “I’d rather they didn’t actually!” Would I feel the same if someone asked my child to jump off a cliff?? I know it’s an extreme comparison but as a parent you want to protect your child from anything that could jeopardise their health and safety. So why are we so slack on diet?? I’m not just talking about our children though, we all need to look after ourselves to!

With a Turkish father, growing up without watermelon in the house as soon as spring arrives would be odd! We just LOVE our watermelon and my childhood summer memories are full of thirst quenching and refreshing watermelons. We also have ours with a slice or two of hellim (Halloumi). Sometimes melon gets forgotten about, it has such amazing health benefits. First, it is obviously great for a refresher, perfect for all this lovely hot weather (ok maybe not today!!). It is deliciously sweet so everyone can enjoy it without the guilt and the children will love it to! Watermelon also provides vitamins, minerals and antioxidants helping boost your immune system. Like tomatoes watermelons contain lycopene, which is the red carotenoid pigment that gives it the red colour. This antioxidant is powerful in neutralising harmful free radicals in our body and in return could lower cancer risks. It can also reduce your risk of sun related skin damage, which can leave you sunburnt and wrinkled.

Being a mum to two young boys, for me, has been the most challenging thing I have ever done – but also the most rewarding and definitely the most amazing experience to. Having my first was easy, well easy compared to having two! You have more time to devote to one, there is no real rush and you can focus all of your attention solely on them with no distraction. Add another one to this equation and things begin to get a little challenging (for me that is anyway!). I have never experienced tiredness the way I have done over the last few years, not to mention the family stress I have also gone through which really has had an impact on my well being. Stress can really be damaging to your health and mental state in many ways. Lately I feel things are beginning to get out of control – I’m sure there not really if I take a step back and look at my situation, but this is the overwhelming feeling I’m experiencing at the moment.My skin is now showing all the signs of stress with the endless outbreaks no matter what beauty regime I follow. Nothing seems to be helping! My hormones are all over the place with my periods being irregular (which is extremely unusual for me!). So I’m thinking there must be a connection between the two. I feel irritable, deflated and totally exhausted.
I did visit my doctor but his suggestion was to put me on the contraceptive pill which I feel quite strongly about and refused the advice! There must be a way to treat this naturally?!

I’ve been doing a little research and I’ve come across something called Maca– this is a root from Peru that belongs to the radish family and apparently is an amazing energy boost for anyone suffering with low energy and is also great for increasing stamina. It is a super-food that contains high amounts of minerals, vitamins, enzymes and all the essential amino acids. It is also said to help balance our hormones which can include PMS, menopause and hot flashes. Maca is also helpful in alleviating anxiety, mood swings and depression. Not only all of the above but Maca can benefit your skin, helping clear acne and blemishes.

Have I found my solution??? Well I’d be crazy not to give it a try!!

Maca Morning Fruit Smoothie

1 frozen banana
1 handful of strawberries
1/4 mango chopped
1/2 cup of almond milk
2 tsps maca powder
1 tsp cacao powder

Blend together until smooth and serve.

On our way to our friends the other week we were greeted with a beautiful sight, it was the most amazing rainbow! I haven’t seen one so bright and clear in years and it really amazed me. I  could get lost staring at such natural occurances, it truly fascinates me. And then this got me thinking about all the different and amazing natural foods we can eat that are full of deep colour. On a plate you can have your very own rainbow every day! If you keep this idea in your mind then you’ll be sure to get all those nutrients and minerals.
Red
Tomatoes, watermelon, pepper, radishes, apples, strawberries, raspberries, pink grapefruit, grapes, pomegranate, cranberries, rhubarb, cherries.

These red coloured foods are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, all of which will help prevent disease.

Orange
Oranges, mango, squash, sweet potato, swede, pumpkin, cantaloupe melon, peppers, carrots, satsumas, peaches, apricots, nectarines

Orange coloured foods are rich in carotenoids which has been shown to reduce the risk of some cancers such as lung, colon, bladder, cervical, breast and skin.

Yellow
Sweetcorn, lemon, yellow pepper, honeydew melon, pineapple, grapefruit, potatoes

Yellows are full of vitamin C and these nutrients can help your heart, vision, digestion and immune system. Other benefits include healthy skin, wound healing and stronger bones and teeth.

Green
Lettuce, avocado, spinach, broccoli, peas, cucumber, watercress, courgette, leeks, kale, spring cabbage, green peppers, brussels sprouts, asparagus, pears, green apples, kiwi, green grapes, lime.

As well as being a good source of vitamin A and C, foods such as leafy greens are a great way of getting calcium into your diet. It has also been said that they are believed to play an important role in controlling food allergies, inflammatory diseases and obesity, and may even prevent the development of bowel cancer.

Purple/ Blue
Blackberries, blueberries, plums, prunes, grapes, raisins, figs, black currants, purple cabbage, red onion, aubergine.

The compounds found in these coloured foods are said to mop up free radicals and soothe inflammation. They will also reduce the risk of high blood pressure and people that consume such coloured food would be less likely to be overweight. There is also evidence to suggest that purple foods improve brain power.

imageimageJump in the car and drive for an hour and a half and your in the lovely seaside town of Whitstable. I’ve never been before and I don’t know why!! I loved our weekend there with the kids and our lovely friends and their children. It’s not just great for families but also perfect for young couples. It’s a real retro town with lots of cool home vintage shops and quirky little shops that sell all sorts of stuff that you REALLY must buy but totally don’t need. I could have spent hours mooching around but thankfully for my husbands sake, our boys just weren’t very willing!! BOO HOO I cry…..next time though!With the scooters, wellies, kites and sunglasses packed we were all set for hours of fun on the stoney beaches, especially as there were loads of places to get some delicious food, whether that was to picnic on the beach or for a sit down meal. We did both and it was delicious! Whitstable is famous for it’s Oysters ( if you like them…I prefer the Mr Whippy ice-cream kind!) and there were lots of lobsters on offer to. A seafood lover’s dream destination. There was nothing fancy about it, it was just basic and yummy.

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I survived the 3 day detox!! Great news……was it worth it? It depends on how you look at it I suppose. I would say that I generally eat well – I try to eat organic (which people have real mixed opinions on but I believe it’s right!), I follow a predominantly vegetarian diet which includes plenty of whole grain and plant based foods. I avoid processed foods and anything that contains a list of ingredients which I’ve never heard of or can even attempt to pronounce. If you’ve been following my blog, after an indulgent weekend (which was amazing!) I was left feeling sluggish and bloated and I felt I needed to reset my system. The strange thing about the 3 days was the fact that I didn’t have any bowel movements. I wasn’t eating anything but with all the juices and smoothies I was expecting to be totally flushed out. Not quite sure what happened there. I think it was possibly down to my water intake or my lack of it. I’m normally very good at that, as if you know me, you’ll know that I never leave home without a large bottle of water. But with all the drinking I was doing, I didn’t feel I needed as much! And also due to the fact that I’d eaten a lot of food that I wouldn’t normally over the weekend before I started. Anyway everything cleared out the day after I finished (which was after my first coffee!) and I felt pretty good and energised. I went fairly easy the first day back to normal as I was worried about shocking my system. I definitely felt more conscious about what I wanted to put into my body after all the hard work of those 3 days! I was even told that I was glowing by my brother but he had seen me on the second day into the detox when I felt shocking and clearly it showed!! I would say that my system was working really nicely after the three days and made a real difference. My skin on the other hand has really suffered as I have had a terrible breakout a week after. It is hard to say whether this is due to the detox or other factors that have affected the balance. Problem skin is so difficult to pinpoint that it is hard to tell. My skin has always been a battle for me and I’ve never really managed to get to the bottom of the underlying issue of what may be causing it! The 3 day detox didn’t help on that front but overall I would say that it has helped clear out my system, improved my energy levels and made me feel clean again. Would I do it again? Yes I probably would but only once a year. If you eat clean and fresh foods for the majority of the time then you really don’t need to follow a detox unless you are run down or have overloaded your system with toxins. All you need to remember is balance!

I was up at 5am this morning for work and I really need my coffee on these days. Today was really going to be a challenge if day 2 was anything to go by. I got myself ready, drank my hot water and lemon and prepared my breakfast smoothie. I was feeling surprisingly well! I have to admit I was slightly worried about getting through the day with such an early call and I always seem to be extra hungry on these days. Anyway off I went with my smoothie and straw.When I arrived at work the breakfast order had already been made and my usually skinny cappuccino and peanut butter on toast was waiting for me!! Ahhh, so tempting but you’ll be pleased to hear I resisted and happily settled for my smoothie regardless of the strange looks I got!

Breakfast – Blueberry and banana breakfast Smoothie ( I actually forgot to add the banana somehow but I put it down to the 5am wake and being on a detox. Very annoying!!)
This was ok and obviously would have been nicer with the banana in it. It had also gone quite gloopy by the time I drank it as it had warmed up in my hands, probably due to the oats but it does also state to use ice cold water for this recipe.

So far so good, I was also making sure that I kept on top of my water intake today as I think I may have been dehydrated the day before and I did not want to feel like that again! I was done with work by 9.30 and headed home on the tube. I was feeling fine. As soon as I returned I had a herbal tea and then got on with my next two juices as I’d planned for a picnic in the park with the kids. It is a bit time consuming but this was the last day and getting everything done in advance helps.

Lunch – Perfect Green Juice
When I was preparing this I really didn’t think I would enjoy it but it was very light and refreshing and exactly what was needed after the gloop. All packed and ready, off we went to the park.

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Snack – Energizing Beetroot, Cucumber and Ginger Juice
I could drink this juice all day long and it kept me going for ages. By 8pm I still wasn’t that hungry even though we’d had a long active day and still hadn’t had my dinner smoothie. Today was a good day! I think I was probably better hydrated and had got through the barrier of the day before. That was tough!

Dinner – Apple, Pear, Avocado and Spinach Detox Smoothie
This was the same smoothie as the breakfast smoothie on day 1 and one I did enjoy it. I blended this for much longer this time around and it made it a lot smoother and creamier. I would definitely make this one again for a breakfast but for tomorrow I cannot wait to eat something! This smoothie is also a great one for dinner as avocados and bananas are good foods for inducing sleep and boy did I sleep well!

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Ok the detox is finished and I have to say I am glad!! It wasn’t that bad apart from the second day which was awful. Do I feel different? Have I benefited? We will have to wait and see.

I woke up this morning feeling ok but once I was downstairs and getting on with the morning routine with no coffee, I have to say the headache I had didn’t feel great. I drunk my hot water with lemon then got on with preparing my breakfast feeling a little disorientated. I knew then that this was going to be a long day!!
Breakfast – Kale, Berry and Acai Power Smoothie.
This was really thick and I have to admit I actually didn’t like the taste or consistency. I was expecting it to look like the lovely red/pink colour as pictured on the Deliciously Ella app but mine was more like green slime. After a while you get used to the taste, which in the end wasn’t so bad. My headache lingered on so I decided to get the boys ready and get out for a walk in the fresh air and sunshine. We had a pit stop at our lovely local artisan bakery. I’d promised the boys a hot cross bun each ( which are probably the best I’ve eaten) and stepping in there with the amazing array of freshly baked bread, cakes and pastries, I was feeling slightly sorry for myself that I would be missing out today! ( I am rubbish but I do love food!!) We left with only the two buns and I did feel proud that I was able to resist, honestly if you know I really have no willpower!! We walked for an hour and a half and I felt quite energised and my headache had lifted. Once we returned home I got on with preparing my juices and smoothies for the rest of the day.
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Lunch – Mint, Apple and Pear Juice
I loved this juice!! It was so refreshing and a real thirst quencher. I will definitely be making this one again. The only disappointment was, it was over too soon. I wanted to keep on drinking this. I felt fine until around 2pm when I started to feel drained and lethargic. I just wanted to get into bed and have a sleep! Obviously that wasn’t going to happen. As the day went on my headache returned and it actually felt like somebody had stuffed my head with cotton wool!! I’m really selling this this to you right?!
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Snack – Very Berry Juice
Yum yum yum! This one was delicious and saw to the afternoon cravings, but I was still feeling terrible although throughout the day I haven’t felt hungry.
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Dinner – Green Monster Smoothie
This was unpleasant and I struggled to drink this one! It’s now 10pm and I feel shocking! I have one day left and I cannot wait! I hope that this is doing me some good but it has got me thinking that if you are eating well with the right kinds of foods then there really isn’t a need to do a detox. If you are living with a condition or illness and you’ve been living on a diet of processed foods then this is great. I’m sure my body will be reaping some benefits from this detox but right now I’m wondering how the hell will I get through tomorrow. Oh dear……..
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I’m all ready for my 3 day detox with all my ingredients bought in preparation the day before. A purchase of a blender was also included in my preparation!! I am very excited by this as I’ve been talking about buying one for ages. I’d talked myself out of it on many occasions. You know what it’s like…..money can be spent elsewhere and do I really need another thing to sit on top of my kitchen counter?! But since purchasing our juicer which we have had for over a year now and using it on a daily basis, I thought it’s time to commit to buying the blender and get busy making some smoothies to go along with my juices. Juicing has really taken off over the last year with it being a hot trend for 2013. Lakeland even reported a huge increase in juicer sales by that I mean a 4000% sale rise!! Insane right?! But when you do some research into it, you will read about how great it is for you. There was a fantastic documentary that aired last summer which I think probably helped the craze to. It really was interesting and definitely worth a watch – ‘Fat Sick and Nearly Dead’. If this doesn’t make you think then I don’t know what will. My research into it began when my sister was diagnosed with bowel cancer and with the discovery that me, my brother and sister have a genetic disorder where our bodies produce polyps and as a consequence these can then turn cancerous. So with a juicer and blender at the ready and no school for my little one for 2 weeks I have no excuse to not get on with my 3 day detox!

Breakfast – Apple, Pear, Avocado and Spinach Detox Smoothie
I did start the day (which I’ve always done) with a large glass of hot water and lemon and then I had my smoothie. I was apprehensive to start but after the first taste I thought it was fine…..a little thick but pleasantly drinkable. My youngest was really intrigued by all of this and insisted that he wanted a smoothie but quickly declined when I offered him some of mine! I can’t think why??
I was feeling satisfied and ready to get on with the day ahead. We had planned to visit our friends for lunch so I got on with preparing the rest of my days menu as I have lots of glass jars that are air tight and perfect for storing and carrying around the juices and smoothies.

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Lunch – Cleansing Orange, Kale and Lemon Juice
We arrived at our friends with juice in tow and popped them in her fridge. The kids went of to play and I was feeling great but around 12:15 I was starting to feel hungry and the smell of the kids lunch being prepared which was bolognese was almost tempting!! But you’ll be pleased to hear I remained strong. With everyone sat down at the table having lunch, I sat back and enjoyed my juice ( it’s only 3 days right!?). So far so good. By 3:15 I was beginning to feel hungry and my eyes were starting to feel like golf balls but it’s hard to say whether that is just general tiredness, something I have felt since having children or part of this detox! Anyway I got the boys together and we left where I headed back for my snack!

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Snack – Energizing Beetroot, Cucumber and Ginger Juice
This was lovely and refreshing and a real pick me up. I would say I always have a slump around this time of day and generally make myself a coffee before the school pickup. So there I was raring and ready to go and got on with preparing the kids dinner. By 4:45 I did start to get a headache but I hadn’t actually drunk much water so I glugged away. The headache didn’t last long.image
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Dinner – Spirulina Smoothie
This was very thick and actually took me quite a while to get through! You could water it down but I quite liked the consistency. The boys had eaten and I sat drinking this while they were in the bath. So it’s the end of day 1 and I’m feeling good! I don’t feel like I’ve missed out. Let’s see how I feel by the morning!!
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All of the recipes are on the Deliciously Ella app if you wanted to give it a go yourself. If you do, let me know how you get on!

So it’s been a great weekend and guess what??? We’ve over indulged!! Is there anyone else out there who is feeling bloated, sluggish and dehydrated? Our good friend has been celebrating her birthday and we were invited over for a ‘come dine with me’ experience! No children for this event and with the kids packed off for a nights stay at their grandparents (which is rare), there was no holding back on the events ahead. We were presented with a seven course meal so as you can imagine we were rolling off of our seats when it was time to leave. The cocktails and wine were flowing and with two deserts and cheese and biscuits to end, I was wondering when I would eventually pop! It was truly delicious and amazing but today we are feeling the aftermath of such gluttonous behaviour.

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Ok so you get the picture and this is why I am definitely in need of a detox! I will embark on a 3 day detox as of tomorrow which I have found on the ‘Deliciously Ella’ app. I will keep you posted on my day by day progress. Wish me luck!!

Size matters, but does it really?? How many of you worry about the size label when you are shopping for a new outfit? Have I put on weight? Have I lost weight? Oh I can’t buy that size……I’m normally a…..Come on girls!! Being a plus sized model has given me the confidence to appreciate what I have. Ok, I still have good and bad days but you learn to make the most of those good bits and we ALL have those!! I was always worrying about my weight and size growing up, especially in my teenage years. My best friend was much smaller than me but we were and still are completely different body frames. I look back on old photos of us together and laugh at how I was always so concerned about how big my head ( and it was way larger!!!) and whole body looked compared to hers. But that’s the thing, we are totally different people and our body shapes vary in many different ways. So a size 12 for example on one person will fit different on another person who wears a size 12. Shops really aren’t consistent with their sizing. A size 14 could fit in one shop and you then walk into another, try something else on in the same size and it’s too big or too small. It all depends on the style and the fabric of the clothing. If you like something then please do not be afraid to try a different size, by that I mean the next size up. If the outfit looks good then you should feel great. Who the hell cares what the ticket says!!

It’s my best friends birthday next week and you know what it’s like, you want to buy something that is special, different or something they wouldn’t buy themselves. So when I saw an offer on LittleBird (which is a company where you can buy discounted days out, events and products etc.) for a cupcake and macaroon tour, I was sold!! Ok I know it’s slightly off track from the healthy eating that I’m always badgering on about but sometimes you do have to live a little and it was also an excuse for the two of us to get out for the day together without our children (who we love dearly but sometimes we all need a break!) which is rare. I started baking cupcakes when I was pregnant with my first born 6 years ago and I was addicted! The cupcake boom hit the UK around this time to. Everyone who knows me probably was given cupcakes made by myself as birthday gifts ( sorry guys but hopefully they tasted good!) and so began my friends obsession with baking to. Since then we have been on a cupcake decorating course together and have had several children’s birthday parties to practice our skills……which are improving might I add!

So on Friday we meet in Covent Garden at 2:45pm waiting for the arrival of our guide. Slightly unsure of what we had in store we were pleasantly greeted by John our (good looking) Scottish tour guide and two other members of our group. Our first stop was at model turned bakery Lorraine Pascal’s Cupcake Bakehouse, a very small but sweet little shop. I sampled a mini Purple Haze which was yummy and contained blueberries, a real delightful mouthful. We were also informed that all the cakes sugar content has been reduced by 20%!

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Our next stop was the French patisserie Laduree, a very elegant little shop but they have a large outside eating area which sits opposite the St Paul’s church in Covent garden where we sampled Macaroons. Delightful!
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Sweet Couture was our third stop for some more cupcakes where we sampled the classic and popular red velvet (apparently the best in town) and the Oreo cookie cupcake. Yum yum and more yum. This shop was tiny but with a much cooler and relaxed vibe and would definitely recommend a visit!
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We also got a tour of London where we learned little bits of London history and as a born and bred Londoner I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know….tut tut! We continued on to Soho where we briefly stopped to collect our next cupcake (black bottom cupcake) at the well known and very busy Hummingbird Bakery.
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We then went on to our last three stops, Michelin starred Yauatcha with incredible and unusual tasting macaroons, the well known and long established Patisserie Valerie and a royal finish at Fortnum & Mason’s. It truly was a lovely afternoon and even better we got to take all our cakes and Macaroons home as after the first two stops I was full. We are still enjoying them now! A great day spent tasting cakes and catching up with a good friend…..perfect!!
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I’ve been storing my top five favourites things to share with you today!

Black or dark coloured grapes! The perfect little gems to snack on when you fancy something sweet. Not only are they tasty and delicious but they are packed with goodness helping with brain function and memory, protection against cancer, preventing heart disease and lowering the risk of developing blood clots. ( Pass me the red wine to please!! 😀 )

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Grilled vegetable bruschetta with a fresh herb dressing (Carol Vorderman’s Summer Detox with Anita Bean) – I just adore this dish!!! We had this for the first time this year using all the ingredients that came in our veg and salad box. I love it when that happens, I open my fridge see what I have and then make something special with it.

 

 

 

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Spelt pasta. I discovered spelt pasta some years ago after I started baking my own bread with spelt flour. This is a great alternative to refined white pasta. Spelt is an ancient grain that is nutty in flavour. It is higher in protein and fibre and easier to digest than your standard pasta. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quinoa porridge! This is my new favourite thing at the moment. I’ve used the grain quinoa for years now and it is packed full of goodness and is a true superfood, but I have only just discovered that you can also get quinoa porridge. It is gluten free, a complete protein, it reduces the chances of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If consumed on a regular basis it is said to help strengthen and build stamina and encourage speed muscle recovery. I use the quinoa porridge recipe from the whole pantry app.

 

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Nothing beats a jacket potato!!! This is the moment that my house goes silent, my two boys absolutely love them especially with tuna and cheese. Tin tuna is always handy to have in your kitchen cupboard when your out of ideas and have no time. But what tin tuna are you buying? Shop around and try some other brands and I would always recommend that you buy one that is in organic olive oil rather than brine. The one I use has converted some tin tuna haters!
Cottage cheese is always better to use in replacement of cheddar. It is packed full of protein and can help you feel fuller for longer.

How many of you are having a meat free day?? How about having a meat free Monday every week!? Did you know that high consumption of processed and red meats are linked to the development of bowel cancer. To add to this you are also increasing your risks of heart disease and diabetes! So come on guys, join in on challenging your vegetarian culinary skills! Not only do we need to consider the health impact but also the ethical and environmental impact that comes with eating all this meat! I get the feeling that everyone panics about not getting enough protein if they were to eliminate meat from their daily diets. If you’ve followed a low carb diet, you are probably worrying about the weight you would gain if you weren’t able to have meat. But are we REALLY meant to consume the amount of animal products that we do? Don’t get me wrong I’m not telling everyone to become vegans or vegetarians ( I enjoyed a roast dinner of lamb on Sunday and it was delicious!) but I just think we should put a little more thought into the foods we put on our plates. This week in Australia is a national Meat Free Week and what a fantastic idea. Maybe we should try and adopt this sense of awareness. It really is worth a try as so many people would start to feel the benefits, not just in ourselves but also in our environment!

So what are we picking/ snacking on this weekend people?? This is often what I struggle with at the weekend. The weekly routine is done and it’s time to slow down….. Phew! That’s when I tend to get a bit lazy. We’ve just got back from a PTA bingo afternoon at my sons school (yes I know I’m very rock n roll!) and we’ve eaten cup cakes, pizza and sausages in rolls. I have to say that I am feeling terrible!! It makes you think though doesn’t it, just how impossible it is sometimes to eat well and eat right all the time. Yeah I know you have to let it go at times but then I think no!!! Everyone should try and think out of the box and not continue to follow what everyone else considers “normal”. We need re-educating guys! We just need to dig a little deeper……well I’ve been trying and here are some of my finds that I thought I’d share with you.
www.deliciouslyella.com – Check out the sweet treats section especially (I’m addicted!).
www.thewholepantryapp.com – I love this app!
www.abelandcole.co.uk – Great dinner recipes and I also shop with them.
River Cottage Veg Every Day! By Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – This book has literally transformed my veggie dinners and I love, love, love the dips recipes!
The Detox Cook by Louisa J Walters, Aliza Baron Cohen, Adrian Mercuri
Carol Vorderman’s Detox Recipes with Anita Bean
These last two books are my old classics and I’ve been using them for years.

I feel so passionate about what we eat and how we treat our bodies. If you think about caring for a new born, we see them as so precious, we treat them with absolute tenderness and purity. Why do we then stop?? It really is something that baffles me. If we just tried to keep that one thought in our minds and eat a little ‘cleaner’ then I’m sure you would begin to feel the difference. We are abusing ourselves and we just do not care. We treat our diets with disregard. Heart disease, diabetes and cancer are the top three killers and it really does boil down to diet at the end of the day. You can choose not to smoke and you can choose to drink sensibly so why do we not choose to eat wisely!?!

The training commenced today with some reluctance at first. What with getting breakfast sorted and kids dressed, juicing, preparing packed lunch and getting to school on time, once we’ve returned home and look around at the destruction of the morning, I’m thinking a nice coffee would be great!! But no this is something I need to prepare for properly and I’m all set in my training gear which was slightly concerning for my four year old to see! We were just about to leave when he asked whether I would be getting dressed to take him to school as he was worried I was still in my pj’s. So clearly my exercise regimen has been somewhat nonexistent.I’m following an interval training programme which is perfect for me as it only takes a maximum of 30mins everyday but I’m on the treadmill and I’m looking at the distance I have run thinking…….there is no way I’m going to be able to run 10k but I got through it and with some work and dedication I’ll achieve it!

Training begins today……..we’ll not quite although the intension was there! I did actually get up and get into my training gear. Does that count?? My 4 year old has been off school with chickenpox and both boys love their very early mornings, which are now might I add beginning to get the better of me. My sister in law arrived as we are training together, also helps with child sharing while we take turns, but yes the idea soon fizzled out! We are rubbish. We stayed slumped on the sofas with children on laps. Very hard to resist a cuddle though. So we agreed to try again this evening!! Or maybe tomorrow morning!?!
In the mean time I’ve been busy juicing making sure we are full of goodness and hope some how this will fill me with energy!

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Today I decided to set myself two challenges. The first challenge was to actually start writing my blog! So here I am. The second challenge was to enrol myself to the ‘Race for Life’, running 10k. This is something I have never done before in my life!! Run I mean. I once went for a run when I was about 20 years old and I ended up in A&E having an asthma attack, so yes I am slightly nervous and feeling somewhat out of my depth! But life is all about setting yourself goals and challenges. This one will really mean a great deal to me as it will have so much emotion attached to it. I will be running it in memory of my amazing sister. If anyone knows about challenges, she knew best. In her two year battle she had to try and over come many fears and face many tough decisions. Running 10k should be a walk in the park compared to what she went through and so the training begins! Please support me in supporting others and click on my ‘Just giving’ link.