Friday, 28 November 2014

How to avoid a cold this winter (like I have since 2006)!

(I first published this in December 2013 but these tips are re-posted by popular interest!) 

I run the risk of jinxing myself by saying this, but I haven’t had a cold since “fresher’s flu” in 2006. 

I simply don’t ever get ill like that. They offered the flu jab for free at work the other day which I refused as I don’t see I need it. “Impossible” were the cries from my colleague, they thought it ridiculous that I simply haven’t ever really had a cold. But it’s true so I want to share with you my ways to avoid a cold…

I think it generally boils down to being healthy overall, doing the obvious stuff like eating your five a day, getting enough sleep and exercising well. So the first few tips might sound too simple, but they’ll set your body up to be fighting fit. Once you feel the first symptoms coming on, that is your cue to up the dose of healthiness to avoid it taking hold of you!

picture from sporeflections.wordpress

  • Eat your five a day and in particular “immune boosting” foods like spinach, berries, broccoli and garlic (see the end of the blog for more foods).

stock up on your five a day 

  • Drink plenty of water. This isn’t just good for overall health but if you have got the start of a virus, it will help to flush it out.
  • If you need a little helping hand, take some multivitamins! I take a simple A-Z and one for energy releasing.  
  • Try to avoid sugar (as much as humanly possible with all these mince pies and choccies laying around) – I read somewhere that sugar can break down your healthy cells, not what you want at this time of the year.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

NYC part 2 - things to see and food/drink

cont from part one...

The sights (cont)

One of the four main attractions that me and Becky saw was the Brooklyn Bridge. Built in 1883, it was the first steel wire suspension bridge constructed... a total of 1,825 m long and 84 m high. The bridge connects the boroughs of Manhattan (where we were staying) and Brooklyn. Walking across it is a great way to see the skyline of Manhattan. Look carefully too and you'll see the statue of liberty (from a distance)! Although a busy bridge, I didn't get a sense of being rushed across it, so take your time and get great photos. 

Looking through The Brooklyn Bridge 

The Brooklyn side

Eating and Drinking

For me, when you are on holiday, you need to get stuck in to the culture and sample the food. Admittedly American cuisine isn't something of a rarity here but I had a whole long list of foods that I wanted to try whilst in New York...


On the list to eat HAD to be pizza (for Becky, she made this quite clear within 10 minutes of landing) so when we were in Brooklyn, we headed to Grimaldi's, famous for its use of coal fire ovens rather that the usual wood fire ovens, (and the only pizzeria in NYC to be allowed to use one!) 

soda and a slice 

A slice of their pizza and a soda (I would have had a cider but this was a no-booze restaurant) and I felt like I was definitely in New York. If you can't make it to a pizza restaurant (or of you can yet you still want more as us fatties did), there are plenty of pizzerias lining the streets of New York including $1 slice places. Don't turn your nose up at the price, it is seriously good pizza! And New Yorkers do seem to like their slices - we saw plenty of people walking the sidewalks (that is a pavement to you and me) chomping on a delicious cheesey triangle of pizza!  

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Nivea Q10 firming body oil: review

The older I am getting, the more I am thinking about beating the signs of ageing. But not just my face. My body too! Whilst you don’t quite get the same wrinkles on your limbs at the same rate as you seem to on your face, I am well aware that skin does also lose its firmness. So I have started using body lotions that offer firming benefits as well as moisturising properties.

Nivea Q10

My favourite one so far is the Q10 firming body oil from Nivea.

With coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and avocado oil, it nourishes and firms skin to firm and soften. We’ll have to trust the science here as only time will tell if it is keeping my skin from sagging!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Homemade low-carb spaghetti bolognese – with courgette ‘spaghetti’

 Who doesn’t love a spaghetti Bolognese??? It is perfect for this time of the year when the nights are colder and our bellies need warming meals. However if you’re on a low carb diet, looking to ditch a couple hundred calories or simply wanting a meal where you can up your veg intake, then you swap your usual spaghetti pasta for “zoodles”. Aka courgette noodles. 

low carb spagetti bolognese 

Why "zoodles"? Because across the pond, our cousins call the courgette a “zucchini” and zucchini + noodles = zoodles!


The great thing about zoodles is that it offers the great same base for your Bolognese (you can even do the twisty fork thing to gather them up) and they offer an extra potion to your five a day and each 100g comes in at only 17 calories! I tried this recipe the other day and I am converted to the zoodles. I’m thinking about what else I can add my zoodles too (perhaps a strifry?).

the twisty fork and spoon way to eat spagetti 

And it couldn’t be simpler to make – all you need is a spiralizer. I bought my one for about £7 off the internet. Just google “spiralizer” and you’ll find loads of options. Mine is a simple hand held device – pop in the courgette and twist. The blades will produce a fine strip of courgette.

so simple to work! 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Green winter-warmer soup – less than 100 calories!

If you are looking for a warming meal than look no further than the humble soup. Soups are the perfect winter meal as they are hot, nutritious and can be made in bulk and stored in the freezer for another day.

hot and tasty 

What’s more, pack in a load of veggies and you’ll top up your nutrients with every slurp!

This green winter soup does look a little like murky pond water, I agree but it is such an easy soup to make, full of health benefits and is only 100 calories per serving!!! What you waiting for? Start making!

less than 100 calories a bowl...get stuck in 

1 large white onion, peeled and sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 large courgettes, chopped
A massive handful of kale
A handful of spinach
4 cups of vegetable stock
Seasoning to taste

Makes 4 servings

Friday, 7 November 2014

Delicious gluten free pancakes (with coconut flour)

I have blogged about my love for pancakes before but if you are trying to skip the sugar, carbs and gluten, they are not always the best choice for a weekend breakfast or brunch. So I have been scouring the web for inspiration.

delicious coconut flour pancakes! 

This tried and tested recipe is absolutely scrumptious and packed with fibre and protein. Plus they are so easy to make! If you are unsure of coconut flour, it is a great substitute for the regular white stuff but healthy! I bought mine from my local Holland and Barrett but you can get it in most health food stores.

I've been using this coconut flour 

You will need:

2-3 tbsp of nut butter (I used cashew)
½ cup egg whites
½ cup of vanilla protein powder
2 tbsp coconut flour
½ tsp of baking powder
½ - 1 cup of almond milk (depending how thick you want them)

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

NYC part 1 - things to see and getting around

Last week I was lucky enough to set off from Heathrow with my good friend Becky, bound for the bright lights of New York. I last went to New York when I was about 15, and whilst I had an amazing time, I knew going back as an adult would take my love for New York to another level.

Central Park 

Our flight got us n for around midday on Tuesday and our flight home was early doors Sunday, so we had a lot to pack in a short-ish amount on time. I could have stayed at least another few days – there is just so much to see and do in the city.  There is also so much to take in – being a people watcher, I am just as content, sitting with a coffee or a glass of wine, watching the world go by!

Getting around
Unlike my dad who tour-guided us around when I was 15, I do not have a natural sense of direction or a map in built in to my head. However with a grid system of streets and avenues, it is actually pretty easy to get around (so long as you can count). Street go horizontal and avenues go vertical BTW.  

navigating the subway 

The thing we struggled with a little more is the subway – unlike the London underground, the lines are not all interconnected in the same way so plan your route before you start your journey. The stops are also a lot further apart then in London. We got even more confused when some of the stops are numbers (eg 23rd street) but then some are names (eg City Hall). Having said that, once you are used to it, with each journey only costing $2.50 it is a cheap way to get around. You can also purchase a 7 day unlimited travel card for $30 (just don’t lose it on day 2 like Becky did). Why not download a city app (like hopstop) and check where you are going with the hotel's wifi?

Failing that then there are a plethora of yellow taxi cabs that aren’t extortionate- just stick your hand out and whistle one down!  

The sights
Having been to New York before, and wanting a holiday that meant I could chill out a little more than usual, I didn’t feel the need to see every tourist sight. On my to do list was Central Park, the Rockefeller Center, Brooklyn Bridge and the Staten Island Ferry...

Central Park 

Central Park
One of my favourite parks ever, this is a huge area of 3.41 km²  stretching over 50 streets.

me (left) and Becky 

Monday, 3 November 2014

The "validation facial" at Lush Spa

For my birthday last year (a whole 13 months ago!) the Boy treated me to three spa treatments at the Lush Spa on Kings Road in Chelsea - the sound bath, a tailor made massage (read the blog about that here) and a validation facial. If like me, you didn't realise that the Lush cosmetics company also did spas, then look into it! They are so amazing and nothing like other beauty spa treatments you might have tried before! 

ready for my facial!

The year has gone so quick and I still hadn't made it back for the facial, but with a trip to New York coming up, I felt that last week was as good as any time to have it.

spa treatment room 

Having had two gorgeous treatments there already I knew I was in for a treat and I was right. If I could some up the treatment from start to finish, it would be "wonderful".

Lush seem to employ the happiest, friendliest and most relaxed staff and just talking to my softly spoken therapist made me feel ten levels calmer.

my skin was in need of a facemask! 

Asking about my skin needs, he took me through the shop, giving me the chance to play with the products, smelling them and touching them, to see what ones I would like to use in the treatment. Plopped on to a round slate, by the end it looked like an artist's palate! Let's hope it can make my skin a work of art!

the beauty products I chose 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Sweet potato and roasted pepper veggie burgers

Back in September I made some totally moorish sweet pototo, chickpea and quinoa burgers (see the recipe here). And I  a not just being a big headed foodie here, my friend Frenchy loved these so much, she tried out the recipe too! So I've been experimenting recently with other flavour combos, and I love this one for sweet potato and yellow roasted peppers (although red or orange would work but not green). It is like a healthy comfort food dish!

sweet potato and yellow pepper veggie burgers 

When I came to blog about this though, I must admit, I did get it a bit wrong. I used haricot beans instead of the usual chickpeas. I woud like to say it is because I am creative, forward thinking and experimental. In fact I just picked the wrong can off the shelf in the supermarket. But it actually works just as well! The consistency was a little softer as the haricot bean is less “dense” than chickpeas, but they tasted great! And are actually surprisingly filling (I guess that is thanks to the protein).

these veggie burgers have "bite"

So what do you need to make these tasty burgers?

1 large sweet potato
¼ cup quinoa
3 peppers (any colour but green will work)
1 can chickpeas or haricot beans
1 handful of fresh parsley
2 tsp ground cumin 
1 tsp turmeric*
3 tbsp of flour (try to use gluten free)
Squeeze of lemon juice

haricot beans - just naked little baked beans