healthy, life, lifestyle

Quip – the iPhone of toothbrushes?

I have always been a bit weird about electric toothbrushes, and until now have dodged them, despite repeated and less than subtle comments from my dentist. But I was offered a pretty decent offer for a Quip toothbrush – advertised as the iPhone of toothbrushes.

You can pick your finish, and I went for a brushed metal finish in copper, it’s a very stylish toothbrush.

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It comes from the US so you have to wait a while, but every three months when it’s time to change the head, a new one will appear in the post.

It’s rather fancy in appearance and has a sticky strip to mount it on the bathroom tiles. It runs off a AAA battery, so you can take it anywhere, unlike the kind that need charging all the time.

My plan was $55 (approx £38) and the replacement heads are $5 – but if you sign up online now, your first head is free and if you register, you can get them free for a whole year – which is what I did. Bargain. I didn’t order the toothpaste as well, mostly because I am fussy about my minty freshness, but that is another option.

I’ll let you know how I get on with my new gadget – a pearly white smile is always a bonus. 😁

food, healthy, recipes

Super easy, super tasty recipe

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This salad has five ingredients.

Rocket
Spinach – stalks removed
Goat’s cheese
Baby figs – sliced
Olive oil

I only made it for one, but add more of each ingredient if you make it for more.

It literally took about two minutes to assemble. You could serve it with sliced baguette, grill the figs, add pine nuts or anything you want.

Then stuff it in your face.

beauty, haircare, healthy, make up, skincare

Skincare Saviours in the Winter Weather

January is finally here and with it more drizzly, wet, cold, miserable weather. Which is hell on skin, even if it’s not as ridiculously sensitive as mine!

Here are my tips and tricks for happy skin in the New Year.

💜 Drink water. An obvious one – what you put in your body is what you get out. We’re 75% water, and without it your skin struggles. It helps keep skin soft and plump, slows down wrinkles, and cleans up the gunk that becomes spots.

💜 Moisturise! water inside – moisture outside. Find one that works for you and slap it on, even if you’re just sitting around the house without make up – feed your skin. Central heating doesn’t help.

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Current favourite moisturiser

💜 Cleanse – personally I think washing my face is a brilliant way to perk up. I always feel a bit more awake and alive with a clean face. Since I got a sonic brush (use once a week) I definitely see a difference.

💜 Don’t neglect your smile. Lips have thinner skin than the rest of your face. Skin that is more prone to cracking and peeling. Invest in a good lip balm. I have dozens, and top up throughout the day.

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The best lip balm ever!

💜 But I can’t see my own nose! With winter comes colds, flu and other nasty bugs. Constant nose blowing leaves the skin around your nostrils damaged, dry and unhappy. A bit of extra moisture never goes awry – a dab of good ol’ Vaseline should do the trick.

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Vaseline & Dr Lipp - dry skin beware!

💜 Don’t sleep in your make up. Seriously. This is horrid. I admit I have done this in the past (I blame the booze) but that way lies breakouts and blocked pores. Invest in a decent make up remover/cleanser and take the face off before you crash.

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Loving these at the moment.

💜 Show your hair some love too. Don a hair turban and let a mask soak in, wash out the pollution and rub in some argan oil. I swear by it – no more split ends and happier hair – brilliant!

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Shiny hair ahoy!

ramblingmads

food, healthy, recipes

Winter salad that doesn’t make you sad

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It doesn’t look like much but this bowl of salad was a-ma-zing!

Based on a Nigella Lawson recipe (#TeamNigella all the way) but altered based on my fridge contents, this tasted so good I might just make it a few more times!

I was aiming for a twist on ceasar salad, but having watched Simply Nigella the other week I was inspired to winterise my food.

The romaine lettuce was cut roughly in half, placed on an oven tray and sprinkled with olive oil and garlic salt (I had no fresh garlic but recently stocked up on Cornish Sea Salt in various flavours), roasted for 25 minutes in the oven at 200°c, till soft and slightly browned.

Meanwhile, I found a few rashers of streaky bacon still in date in the bottom of the fridge. I cut it into little stamps and dry fried (hot pan, no oil) till crispy.

Lettuce went into a bowl, scattered with the bacon, then I dressed it with some delicious hollandaise sauce and a little black pepper.

You could grate some Parmesan or similar over it, add avocado, skip the bacon, add croutons, more garlic, crispy fried onion, anything really. The lettuce stands up well to strong flavours.

Eating healthy in winter can be hard, especially around Christmas, when food seems to specialise in fatty, naughty food. We promise to eat soups and casseroles full of veg but end up eating cake and having cheese and crackers for dinner every day.

It doesn’t help that in the UK fruit and veg is more depressing in the winter – all root veg like swede and turnip, which take some work to make into something tasty and enjoyable. These days you can get most things year round imported but not necessarily the tastiest, and when you’re feeling lazy it can be hard to find the energy in the cold.

So roast your lettuces, play with flavours, raid your fridge and eat delicious, easy peasy food. Yum.

ramblingmads

baking, food, healthy, recipes

Fudgey Chocolate Brownie

This time of year is so miserable, there’s almost nothing better than a warm, fudgey brownie to cheer up the day. Here’s my personal favourite recipe.

Set oven to 200°c, grease and line a brownie tin/square cake tin. I used an electric mixer but you can do it by hand just as easily. I’ve replaced some of the ingredients with substitutes, but you don’t have to.

Ingredients

3 medium eggs
70g ground almonds
5g banana powder (or 75g almond)
275g sugar substitute (stevia, coconut sugar)
175g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
175g coconut oil/butter
40g cocoa
Chopped nuts, dried fruit, choc chips (optional)

Method

Melt the coconut oil and chocolate in a microwave.

Mix all the dry ingredients together, add the eggs, mix, add the chocolate oil, mix.

Add the chopped nuts, dried fruit etc if using. Mix together by hand.

Pour into prepared tin, smooth out with a spatula. Pop into a hot oven, cook for 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes, cut into squares. These will last a few days in an airtight container, if you can resist them!

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ramblingmads

clean eating, food, healthy, recipes

Make this tonight: lettuce gratin

This is a great way to get more veggies into your diet, and can be vegan or vegetarian as well. It’s adapted from a far more complicated Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall recipe previously published in the Guardian newspaper.

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Photo from The Guardian

Ingredients

Cos type lettuces (I use two baby gems)
Olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Celery
Peas
Spring onions
Pancetta cubes
Parmesan cheese
Bread crumbs (I used Japanese panko)

Wash and chop the lettuce, drain thoroughly. Toss with oil, salt and pepper. Put it in a casserole dish. Roast at 200°c for 25 minutes – keep an eye on it, do not let it burn.

While the lettuce roasts, wash and chop your celery and spring onions. Fry them in a pan with the pancetta, add the peas (I use them from frozen), season with pepper (if not using pancetta you could add a little salt).

Remove the lettuce from the oven, scatter the veg and pancetta over the lettuce. Reserve any liquid in the pan.

Sprinkle grated Parmesan over the gratin. Fry the breadcrumbs lightly in the preserved oil and fat. Scatter over the gratin. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes to melt the cheese and brown the breadcrumbs.

Serve on its own or with some crusty bread.

To make it vegetarian/vegan omit the pancetta, and switch the Parmesan for a dairy free hard cheese. You can add any other veggies that appeal too.

ramblingmads

healthy, lifestyle boxes, reviews, snackly, vegan kind

Snack boxes

Doesn’t everyone snack from time to time? But what about snacks delivered to your door.

Graze has been delivering delicious treats for the last few years and their range is always expanding – from protein top ups, to granola, savoury, sweet, flapjacks and everything in between. I’ve sampled a few and I like a mix of sweet and savoury treats.

Snackly is a gluten free selection box

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Featuring a range of companies who cater to a gluten and wheat free diet.

The Vegan Kind again features a range of treats from different brands – from dairy free chocolate to maple water (odd but not repellant).

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They also include a lifestyle or beauty item – this month’s was a soy wax candle that smells like fresh sheets. Every three months they send out a beauty box filled with cruelty free beauty treats too.

Do you know about any other snack boxes? Have you tried any of the ones above?

ramblingmads

adventures, challenges, charity, exercise, healthy, refuge, upcoming

Walk 4

This September I am doing a charity walk for an organization I am quite fond of – Refuge.

They are the UK’s biggest domestic abuse charity and support women and children fleeing abusive situations. They receive no government funding and as the Government tighten the country’s collective belts, sadly organisations like Refuge are needed more.

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Terrible photo, sorry

I am asking, very nicely, if you could sponsor me. All of the money goes to Refuge, nothing will be in my pocket.

So click here and give whatever you can.

Thank you ladies and gents in advance. I’ll keep you posted.

ramblingmads

food, healthy, lifestyle boxes, reviews, snackly

Snackly box – gluten free goodies

Snackly is a monthly gluten free snack box, £7.95 a month.

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I’ve had Graze boxes on and off for the last few years, but my friend Rehana was telling me that selecting a gluten & wheat free box from them left you mostly with raisins.

Snackly works a little differently from Graze. They curate a range of Free-From snacks from different producers across the UK. Whereas Graze manufacturer all their own treats.

I actually think this is really useful, it lets people know where they can order more suitable treats from.

This month’s box contains a mixture of mostly sweet things, previous boxes have contained more savoury snacks.

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– Honeybun’s Minis Snowy Hills cake – ginger & polenta shortbread with lemon sponge topping.

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– Ceeba Coconut Brittle – no syrup, no butter, gluten free, dairy free.

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– Peace of Cake London Gingerbread bites

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– Darling Spuds Handcooked Potato Chips – Crushed Natural Sea Salt

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– Fudge Kitchen White Chocolate & Raspberry Gourmet Butter Fudge

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– Plamil Organics Orange Chocolate with Cranberries – 60% cocoa

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Do you get any snack boxes? What do you think a good snack box should contain? Let me know in the comments.

ramblingmads

beauty, body positive, healthy, lifestyle

Cover girls – what’s wrong with a fuller figure?

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Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson are starring in the upcoming Pitch Perfect 2, and popping up on magazine covers all over the place to promote it.

I rarely bother buying glossy ‘fashion’ magazines full of pictures of hungry looking models in ridiculous, over-priced clothes.  If I do it’s usually just Glamour, which I grew up with – picked up a copy from my cousin’s bedroom floor aged 12, read it pretty much ever since.

Very occasionally if a cover star or strap line intrigues me I will buy another. I think some of them are wildly over-priced for a thick bundle of shiny adverts.

This month I got Glamour and Elle, both of which claim feminist credentials.
Glamour’s cover depicts Kendrick, a slim brunette, full figure in a dress, Elle has her co-star Wilson but a close up of her face framed by blonde curls.

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A quick flick through Instagram or Facebook shows that this is common. Slim actresses and models are most often photographed in full, while curvier women are cropped to just their face.

Inside Elle Wilson is shown in lovely dresses, but never a close up of her body, either just her face or from a distance and we know these magazines love their photoshop.

Apparently the subscriber’s edition featured a full figure shot but the one on display in supermarkets and newsagents isn’t the same and that’s where they have the most impact and influence.

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As a child I was all legs, they’re still pretty long but a cruel combination of genetics, medical issues and mental health in my teens caused me to put on a lot of weight.

I’m lighter now than I was but still have a way to go to be fully happy in my skin, although I will always be curvy, my bone structure dictates that (broad shoulders, wide hips).

But if I were growing up in today’s culture, with the focus on image and appearance, I would struggle to find anyone who looks like me on the covers of the magazines, arranged as they are at eye level and often above or next to ones aimed at  younger girls and teens.

Rebel’s pretty, and her weight has clearly not been an issue in her career as she’s going from strength to strength. So why not put her whole body on the cover and celebrate some body diversity (and yes I’d like a range of ages and ethnicities on covers too).

I’ve been trying to gain some confidence in my body, hence the healthy eating and exercising. I’ve also been following some body positive bloggers and Instagram accounts (check out @fullerfigurefullerbust @curvesandcurlsuk #effyourbeautystandards @tessholliday @toodalookatie @ladyvoluptuous @biggalyoga) for some of women I’ve been taking inspiration from.

I’m also addressing the medical issues that affect my weight, i’ve been diagnosed with an under-active thyroid and started treatment but what I’ve mostly been learning is that confidence doesn’t rely on the number on the label of your clothes (much of which varies widely anyway) but on your embracing your body, personality and comes at any size.

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So let’s celebrate ourselves, whatever size or shape you are. You are good enough, beautiful enough, cool enough, strong enough #effyourbeautystandards society and let us feel good about who we are.

ramblingmads