Friday, 18 April 2014

Foodie Friday - Low Fat Chips And Reusable Chip Mesh

Hey Loves, x I hope you've all had a lovely Good Friday x The sun has been shining today which has been a bit of a rarity over the last few month. It's still chilly but the glowing ball in the sky has made a real difference. This morning I was up bright and early to head into Durham with Mummy Lou to pick up her new car :) very exciting x I hadn't been out of the house for a week because of a hideous throat infection but I'm starting to turn the corner now bar a tickly cough, and a bit of a husky voice.

We nipped into a few shops because shock of horrors we hadn't managed to get any Creme Eggs before heading hope to wrap pizzas and hot cross buns. I know it's traditional to eat fish on Good Friday but I don't eat it and my mum couldn't be bothered to stand in the queue at the fish and chip shop.

Ahhhh chips, how I love thee. Since January though I've only had two portions of real chips, my word did I enjoy them but the calories - you fish supper eaters do not want to know the damage lol! Ever since I was tiny, weeny my mum always tried to temper my dads chip addiction by making a healthier version cooked in the oven. The idea is simple parboil some potatoes, then toss them in a little bit of oil and then bake in the oven. Nice and a fraction of the calories of fried chips but that tablespoon of oil makes a real difference to the overall calorie count

I think I've mentioned this before but when I started trying to lose weight this time round I looked everywhere I could think of for inspiration, including instagram, and something that I saw mentioned quite a lot was Slimming World Chips. Basically what it is, is what my mum used to only instead of tossing the chips in oil, you use low calorie cooking spray aka Fry Light. I tried it a few times and they were nice but they seemed to take forever to go and I could never get them that crispy. I searched for answers, and solutions and found them courtesy of Poundland.

Reusable Chip Mesh - it's basically a sheet of mesh, that you put your chips on directly onto the oven shelf. Dishwasher and freezer safe, and built to withstand temperatures of 260 , this simple product promises perfectly crispy chips.

I was cynical it feels a bit, well feeble, but the theory made sense. By putting the mesh directly onto the oven shelf it allows the air and the heat to fully circulate around the oven hitting every surface on every chip. Did it work? well see for yourself this is how I did it x

Slimming World / Lower Fat Chips Using Reusable Chip Mesh

1. Chop your potatoes into either wedge or chip shapes and parboil in boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes, you don't want them to be cooked you just want to start to see a bit of give. In the meantime heat your oven  to between 180 - 200 C depending on how hot your oven is

2. Drain your in a large colander or sieve

3. You want your chips to be as dry as possible the best way to do it, is to allow them to cool for a few minutes, and then wrap them in a tea towel to try and soak up the excess liquid.

4. This sounds odd but put them back into the empty pan, add a few squirts of Fry Light, pop the lid on and give the pan a good shake. It's really good to do this with roast potatoes too, what it does is give the potatoes a bit of texture, on the surfaces which helps them to crisp up.

5. Then put your chip mesh on top of a baking tray or over a pan, and tip the chips onto the mesh arranging them as even a layer as you can. then spray liberally with Fry Light and sprinkle with salt, or seasoning.

5. Then pop the chips and chip mesh onto the top shelf of the oven, and on the second shelf place the empty baking tray. This is just to catch any residue from the mesh eg. seasoning, bits of excess chips, any drips etc.

How long it takes depends on the size of your chips, and your oven. If you've done wedges they'll take longer. I normally start looking after about 20 minutes. You want them to be soft in the middle and crisp on the outside.

6. Voila - chips :) okay they aren't exactly like fried chips but they are a nice combo of fluffy and crispy and very tasty

You can serve them anyway you would serve normal chips x Here are mine with some Quorn and mushy pea curry.

The mesh to me really does make a difference, they were crispier and they cooked a lot quicker than they did without it. Since then I've experimented a bit more and used different flavours of Fry Light, and different sprinkles, my fave is Garlic Fry Light and a sprinkle of garlic and chilli flakes yum:). I've also experimented with leaving the skin on, cutting the potatoes into different sizes, and by using different varieties of potatoes.

The chip mesh also works really with sweet potatoes, they cook a bit quicker than normal white potatoes, so I probably wouldn't cut them quite as small as I have done here.

If your trying to cut down on fat or lose weight or if you buy oven chips I would definitely recommend that your pick up a reusable chip mesh, they've made a real difference to my "oven" chips and they've really helped keep on the straight and narrow x I hope you enjoy the rest of your long weekend and if you have any questions x please leave me a comment x

Thursday, 10 April 2014

February And March Haul - Clothing, Shoes And Accessories

It's been a little while since I've done a haul post but that doesn't mean that I haven't been hauling, in I've bought so much stuff over the last couple of months that I'm having to put it in to two posts.First up clothes, shoes and accessories.

I've been trying to be good and not buy too many clothing bits while I've been losing weight but there are a few bits that I just couldn't resist.

You've probably already seen this on instagram or twitter, but this season Next released a couple of blog related items. This is one was from the nightwear section but due to the colour and density of the fabric you could just as easily wear it as a t-shirt but I think I'll be keeping this one for bedtime. Unfortunately I can't find it online anymore but you can still get these..

Sales are annoying things at times aren't they, I paid full price (£16) for the navy and just £8 in the sale for the Ecru version, and now yes there both back to £16. You win some, you lose I guess. If you're a blogger though you need this t-shirt. For me I'm going to use it for motivation because yes I am a big deal on my blog :) I'm trying to do a few more fashion posts so I took a quick pic of the outfit that I wore today - I need some serious posing and photography practise, but I think you get the idea :)

What I Wore
Indigo Jeggings - H&M
Navy Blue T-Shirt - Next
Black Harper Flatform Sandals - Top Shop

Work in progress I think :) The most expensive thing that I've bought over the last couple of months was a pair of shoes, surprise, surprise they are the ones that you can see above. 

I think these will be a love / hate thing for most people but I love them. They are the Harper Flatform Sandals from Top Shop. They're very chunky looking, with a flatform sole, and have a Velcro fastening on the ankle strap. I'm useless with heels, and I normally have awful issues with ankle straps so these are ideal for me. I'm not a 100% sure how I'm going to wear these but I know I will wear them a lot during the summer. They were £28 which I think is a bit steep but I liked them - just a note I did have to size down on these as they were absolutely huge - Excuse the unpainted toe nails yuckkkk

Another clothing item I picked was something that I'd shown you in my recent post on Batiste Floral, but this time the sales did work in my favour.

I'd lusted after it ever since I featured it in my post but I'd never managed to get into an Asda Store to pick one up, by the time I did though it was half price at just £5. I love, love the colours, and the textured fabric it's so bright, and fresh and I think it will be great for the summer months. I have a fab bright orange bag that I'm going to accessorise it with but other than that I'm not sure what to wear it with so if you have any suggestions please leave me a comment.

Over the last few months I've been on a real H&M love in, I only picked up a couple of accessory bits in February and March but I can see myself buying a lot more as we role into spring and summer. First up a scarf..

Oh god my scarf love in just never seems to end, I've really lost count of how many scarves that I have. My mums exactly the same as it's her fault that I got this one really :) I saw a lovely one on the website which was a mix of blue, white and black that I knew my mum would love for Mothers Day and I couldn't resist adding this heart patterned number to my basket. This is a real multi use scarf, it's so big you could use it as a wrap, or even as a sarong. I can't find it on the website any more but it also comes in a cream / grey colourway.

I also got a couple of jewellery bits from H&M including this slightly Mr T esq necklace.

It's a pretty chunky gold tone chain, with two gold tone dog tags that are engraved with inspirational phrases - Honest, Precious, Faith, Dream, Courage, and Trust. I love message and inspiration pieces like this and I know I will wear this lots.

My final H&M purchase was a set of crystal earrings x I was looking for just a plain diamond /crystal stud at Christmas and I couldn't find anything in my collection so I decided to go for these, and because you get four different sized pairs, you have bling for all occasions.

Speaking of bling what do you think of this?

Okay I have no idea why I bought this but it was cute, it's quirky so why not. I've seen them on other people but I'm not sure I can carry it off. It was only a £1 in Poundland so it no great loss if I never wear it :)

The next thing I got isn't quite as blingy but I still love it - I love natural gemstone jewellery and I love layering bracelets.

This is the Shika bracelet from Avon, I already have the Tigers Eye version, but they were both in a recent sale catalogue so I got the rose quartz version too :)

My final two purchases came from Primark - they had loads of great stuff last time I was in because but trying not to buy clothes I only ended up with two bits - My favourite hair bobbles

and some Muppets socks :)

So that was my February / March clothes and accessory haul x Please watch the video that I've made to accompany this haul, below

and as per usual if you have any questions please leave me a comment xx Thanks for reading xx

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Soft And Smooth From Top To Toe With Astral And Astral Light & Creamy*

Unlike a a lot of children nowadays I only have three real beauty memories from my childhood, first up the smell of my mums perfume - she always wore YSL Rive Gauche, and Mystere De Rochas, secondly Matey Bubble Bath :) which child or adult :) didn't love this, and finally Astral Moisturiser.

I was never a regular moisturiser user when I was dinky, I guess I didn't need it, most children seem to have gorgeous, peachy skin and I think I must have been one of them but I do have one vivid memory of applying Astral moisturiser. For my first ever school overnight trip, at the age of 10 or 11, I spent a week alongside my fellow classmates, fell walking, looking at waterfalls, and getting stuck in the mud in the North Pennines in December!! Yes, December! I went on a school trip hiking up hills in the middle of winter! Although it didn't snow I do remember it being very cold, and windy, but my lovely mummy anticipating the effect of the cold on my peachy cheeks, popped a little bright blue tub of Astral into my case. I distinctly remember using it every morning and night before we left the hostel, and I also remember not rubbing it in properly and having a teacher laugh at the white blob on my nose!

Ah memories, recently though for the first time in nearly 20 years I was the given the opportunity to try out Astral again, this time as an adult.

The original Astral moisturiser was first formulated in the 1950's and it's changed very little since. It's longevity speaks for itself, Legions of men and women including celebrities such as Joanna Lumley, Patsy Kensit, Sam Faiers, and Jesy from Little Mix swear by this cream for it's intense moisturising and hydration properties. It isn't just for the face though this is a multipurpose product that can be used both on the face and the body.

The product is instantly recognisable by the traditional bright blue pot. I always remember my mum having the little 50ml handbag size pot but it also now comes in the 200ml size that you can see here and a 500ml supersize.

The cream itself is white and colour and has a soft fresh smell that reminds me a little bit of baby creams or nappy cream. This isn't really that surprising when you consider that some of the key ingredients in original Astral - glycerin, lanolin and paraffin, which are well know for their hydration, protection and moisturising properties also appear in a lot of baby products.

It' has quite a thick texture, almost like that of a barrier cream. As a result it does take a little while to absorb into the skin and it does leave a sort of protective film on the skin, but the the skin is left feeling smooth and hydrated.

I used this cream in a number of ways - first up on my face. As you probably know I have combination / oily skin, so I have to be honest and say that this wouldn't be my first choice when it comes to a facial moisturiser. I found it to be a little bit too emollient and greasy for my skin. That said I did find this protected my skin especially when we had the cold and windy weather that we've had this winter -  instead of my skin feeling tight and little bit tingly it felt smooth and hydrated.

As soon as she saw the pot Mummy Lou couldn't resist a dip in, and unlike me she loved this as a facial moisturiser. She has more mature, drier skin and she loves creams that actually feel like creams, none of your light textures for her. She loved this and the thicker more greasier feel that it left on her skin.

As well as a moisturiser I also used Joanna Lumley's  tip and I used to remove my make up. I just massaged a thick layer of the cream across my face and eyelids and removed it's gently with a damp muslin cloth. I have to say I was so impressed with this, it took every scrap of make up off including my eye make up without redness, dryness or irritation, and it left my skin feeling super soft, and hydrated - result!

I also liked using the original version on my body. When I first received it I'd just got back from holiday and my ski was feeling a little bit dry and sun ravaged, so I put it to the test and it came up trumps. It made a great after sun and I think it really made a difference to both how my skin looked and felt.

Despite the continued success of the original Astral the brains behind the company haven't rested on the laurels, and recently brought out a new version of the cream to retail alongside the original - Astral Light and Creamy

It contains similar ingredients but it also includes added Vitamin E and Aloe Vera, and is designed to protect even sensitive skin from dryness and also to protect the skin from ageing and environmental stresses.

Everything about this cream is lighter and fresher. It has a completely different lighter, fresher scent, and the texture itself is completely different. Although it's still a cream, it has a much lighter, less dense texture and it feels a lot creamier on the skin.

As you would expect with a lighter texture it absorbs quickly and easily leaving almost a smooth, silky slightly matte finish.

Out of the two I definitely preferred using this one on my face. It moisturised my skin and left it feeling soft and smooth with no residue and film, and it made a good make up base. Mummy Lou on the the other hand wasn't a fan, she prefers heavier textures, and a more greasy feel, and this was way too light for her. It also worked equally well for removing make up and as a slightly, lighter everyday body cream.

I've really enjoyed using both of these products and I've really enjoyed their versatility. The fact that they can be used by all the family and on both face and body is a real bonus in this time of austerity.
 I also liked the fact that you only needed a small amount of each product, so the tubs seem to last ages. If I was going to repurchase, which I might they I would definitely be picking up the Light & Creamy version, which I think I would probably get more use out of, Mummy Lou on the other hand would go for the original - we hardly ever agree on anything so why doesn't this surprise me :)

Astral can safely be added to the realms of budget beauty too. You can pick up a tub at most major chemists and supermarkets and the prices are superb for the amount you get and the usefulness of the product. The Original Astral All Over Moisturiser retails at around £1.52 for the 50ml pot, £4.28 for a 200ml pot  and just £8.16 for a 500ml tub, and the Astral Light & Creamy retails at around £4.28 for a 200ml tub. Have you ever tried Astral? and What are your favourite beauty memories? leave me a comment and let me know x

(*PR Sample)

Monday, 7 April 2014

Trimming My Stash - March 2014 Edition - Empties And Mini Reviews

I've had one of those months where illness has affected everything that done, from what I've eaten, to where I've been, and strangely enough it's also affected my monthly empties.

FCUK Signature Body Spray - 150 ml
Botanical Choice Exfoliating Foot Mask - 1 Pair
Treacle Moon The Candy Jar Sweet Lime Sherbet Bath And Shower Gel - 500 ml
Primark Beauty Oil Balancing Cleansing Wipes With Tea Tree x 25 Wipes
Primark Beauty Oil Balancing Cleansing Wipes With Tea Tree x 25 Wipes
Lush Angels On Bare Skin Fresh Facial Cleanser
Total - 6 Items 

Yes, I finished just 6 products in March :( I said confidently in February's post that next month would be better but it wasn't. Quite simply for the majority of the month I stuck the most basic of routines and I barely wore any make up for the entire month - better for my skin maybe but not for my Trimming My Stash challenge. What can I say these things can't be helped, and I'm sure I'll finish a lot more in April - in fact I've already finished two items and we're only 7 days in - go me :)

So what about the measly 6 items that I did finish, well most of them I've talked about before so here are some very truncated mini reviews x

1. FCUK Signature Body Spray - 150ml

Cries - I finished another FCUK Signature item and probably my favourite of the lot, the body spray. As I said in my previous empties post I love the oriental, sweet floral notes of this range and I adore the body spray, in fact I've even been known to forgo perfume when I've worn this. Thankfully I still have a few of these left but I'm going to start using it sparingly to make it last.

2. Botanical Choice Exfoliating Foot Mask - 1 Pair

I first talked about these way back in September last year. Basically what they are is a foot peel, plastic socks, with a fibre lining soaked in a mixture of fruit acids, you wear them for about an hour to an hour and a half then rinse your feet. Over the next 3-4 weeks the dry skin will gradually peel of your feet leaving super soft skin with no dry, crusty heels. I did mine about two weeks ago now so I'm still in the middle of the peeling stage, they sound and look completely gross but they make a real difference to the softness of your feet. I bought these in Primark - I don't know if they're still available but I will definitely try and get some more or something similar to use in about 6 months time x 

3. Treacle Moon The Candy Jar Sweet Lime Sherbet Bath And Shower Gel - 500ml

Ah I loved this, you can use it in the bath or the shower and it smells almost like chocolate limes x You can read a full review of it here

4. Primark Beauty Oil Balancing Cleansing Wipes With Tea Tree x 25 Wipes

5. Primark Beauty Oil Balancing Cleansing Wipes With Tea Tree x 25 Wipes

Not feeling well means a super pared back skincare routine x I have done a lot of swatch pictures which required some clean up but at least a full of packet of these was probably used for morning and occasionally evening cleansing - please forgive me ;)

6. Lush Angels On Bare Skin Fresh Facial Cleanser

I have to be honest and say that I lost this x My mum tidied the bathroom and lots of my things "disappeared" Last month though I managed to find some of the missing items, including this. I made this at a Lush bloggers event and when I felt okay I finished this off by using it as a nighttime cleanser, and I really felt it made a difference with the radiance of my skin. You can read a full review of this here
So they were my March empties, I'm really hoping I do better this month, I still have way too many beauty products :) Are you doing something similar ? leave me your links to your empties posts and vids x Thanks for reading xx

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Kardashian Beauty Winner Revealed

Sorry that this is a little bit late but it's now time to announce the winner of my Kardashian Beauty Touch Tones Gradient Eyeshadow Palette in Silhouette.

Thanks to all of you that entered this was one of the most successful giveaways that I've ever hosted but unfortunately there can only be one winner and that winner is....

Natalie W

Congratulations Natalie x I'll be in touch shortly for your postal details x 

If you weren't lucky enough to win this time, don't worry I have plenty more giveaways planned including goodies from Maybelline, MUA and Yankee Candles, so please stay following xx  

Friday, 4 April 2014

Foodie Friday - What I Ate In March 2014 And A Mini Review x

I debated whether or not to do this post for a little while because you've already seen quite a few things that I've eaten in March but I thought hell why not, there are still plenty of new and yummy things to show you.

First up pancakes, I was a bit poorly on Shrove Tuesday so and me mum ended up having our pancaked on the following Sunday. I used my basic recipe and served them with lemon and lime juice, maple syrup and whipped cream, not overtly diet friendly but oh so good.

When your not feeling very well you crave comfort food, so last month I shared with you my Mum's Leek And Potato Soup Recipe, which to me is quite simply a hug in a bowl x

As you probably gathered from my last Foodie Friday post I'm a bit of a fan of eggs, and I ate an awful lot of them in March but I don't think I ate them the same way twice. One of my favourite ways of eating eggs is to serve them softly boiled. Nothing can beat a soft boiled egg with hot buttered toast soldiers but an idea from the domestic goddess Nigella Lawson is well worth trying.

Asparagus - Simply boil or steam some fresh, in season asparagus, drizzle with a little butter and a sprinkling of salt, and dip it in the soft and yielding egg - yum.

You can't get any more comfort food orientated than baked beans on toast. I'm having baked beans and vegetarian sausages here, alongside some mushrooms and an egg gently fried in Fry Light, all the taste but a lot less calories.

Another one of my favourite egg based comfort food is scrambled eggs - here I've added a little bit of spring onion for a bit more flavour and I popped them on top of a toasted Udi's gluten free savoury bagel.

Last month I shared two of my more recent eggy favourites with you - Chickpea Dahl or Curry Loaf

and my super easy Egg Fried Rice, which I'm serving here with vegetarian sausage casserole.

I can see myself making both of these recipes on a pretty regular basis now. The egg fried rice makes a more exciting alternative to normal boring rice and the curry loaf is really, tasty and filling and is ideal for main meals or snacking.

Something that I already make on a regular basis is my Indonesian Rice With Tofu. This is basically curried egg fried rice with tofu. It moreish filling and super yummy - I've just sprinkled it with a few peanuts here for some extra protein.

Unfortunately because I felt so poorly for most of March I didn't really had the opportunity to try as many new recipes as I would have liked but I did try out this one.

I posted this picture on instagram and I asked if people could guess what I was making, and surprisingly someone got it right - the answer? Mushy Pea Curry of course- this is another recipe that comes from Slimming World. It sounds really odd but believe me it works, a couple of tins of mushy peas, a tin of baked beans, some passata and whatever veg you like, and you just some spices and curry powder. The amount that I made served me and Mummy Lou, 3 times each. The first lot we had with pasta

the second lot with Slimming World chips (my latest addiction).

and the final lot went in the freezer for when we can't be bothered to make something from scratch. It sounds a bit of an odd recipe and concept but it really does work, you can add whatever vegetables that you like or even chick or Quorn pieces like I've used here.

The next couple of things that I've eaten and enjoyed over the last month are also inspired by Slimming World

Sweet Freedom Choc Shot is one of the most talked about things that I've seen lately. Its basically liquid chocolate. It's vegan and gluten free and is made from fruit extracts, cocoa, natural chocolate flavour, rapeseed oil and water, and it's only 14 calories per teaspoon. It's primary purpose is to make hot chocolate, all you do is stir a teaspoon or so into a mug of hot milk and drink.

You can also use it as a spread or as a drizzle. I've been stirring a teaspoon or so into natural yogurt for a healthier alternative to chocolate mousse

and I've been stirring some into my porridge.

From what I gather this product is something that you either love or hate. A lot of people say that it isn't creamy enough or sweet enough  and that it just tastes like cheap chocolate but I disagree. I get a lovely almost fruity, dark chocolate hit to everything that I add it to, it really helps with my chocolate cravings and a little goes a long way.

Where I think this comes into it's own though is when it's used as it was originally intended in hot chocolate. I hate, hate, hate low fat, low calorie hot chocolates, I just don't get on with them at all, I'm not a fan of artificial sweetener so that's probably why but a teaspoon or so of choc shot makes a lower fat and calorie hot chocolate that tastes as good as the full fat version. Sweet Freedom Choc Shot isn't cheap but it's been a real diet saviour for me over the last month.

Something else that I purchased, after seeing various instagram pics, tweets and blog posts is this..

I'm not a fan of green tea at all, and in the past I've drank it purely because it's healthy not because I've actually enjoyed it but after trying this I may be swayed. Twinings Caramelised Apple Green Tea is one of their new widely hyped sweet green teas. I succumbed to the hype and gave it a go and whilst I think the apple flavour could have been a tiny bit stronger, I'm actually really enjoying it. As long as you don't over brew it, you can taste the apple without any bitterness. I'd love to try some more flavoured green teas so if you can recommend any don't taste of green tea, leave me a comment and let me know xx

The final two things that I ate in March were about as far away for slimming, dieting and healthy eating as you could get - well they both contain fruit and veg but that's about it lol  I'm talking about Mothers Day of course. My mum actually prefers something home cooked rather than eating out, so I made her a fat rich two course meal.

For the main course I made Broccoli, Stilton And Walnut Pasta, I've made this loads of times and it's a real favourite, just saute the broccoli, some garlic and some peppers, than add some chopped walnuts, some Stilton and some cooked pasta, and stir it all together.

It could have been worse I guess, I used Fry Light instead of Olive Oil, and I tried to limit the amount of Stilton and Walnuts but for the dessert there was no skimping it was a full on calorie fest.

Homemade gluten free chocolate, banoffee pie - I used chocolate digestives and butter to make the base, which I then filled with a tin of Carnation Caramel, and sliced bananas before topping with whipped cream, bananas sprinkled with lemon juice to stop them from going brown and grated chocolate. It was so, so good and so worth consuming almost my daily calories in one piece. Sometimes you just need to splurge and this was what my mum wanted so that was what we had :)

So they were some of the things that kept my tummy full throughout March. I'm hoping to experiment a little bit more in April, and maybe try out some more new recipes, and I'm also planning to tuck into a few Easter treats, so who knows what delights I'll come up with it x Thanks for reading and I'll see you tomorrow with the big reveal of my Kardashian Beauty winner xx
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