Friday 31 October 2014

Foodie Friday - Diet Coke Quorn

Happy Halloween hope your having a spooktastic evening, I've had a busy afternoon carving my pumpkin, and making my traditional Pumpkin And Toasted Sweetcorn Soup, and my Spicy Mexican Cornbread - Yummy! I thought about making something spooky themed but instead for today's Foodie Friday post I'm going to give you a recipe that's been requested quite a few times.

Way back in January when I started my weight loss journey, I went on the hunt for new low fat, and low calorie recipes to add to my repertoire. Although I don't follow either Slimming World or Weight Watchers I've really enjoyed cooking and trying out some of the recipes that people on the pans use. Obviously their own websites are worth a look but I also found a few gems via instagram and google.

One of the strangest recipes that I found was for Diet Coke Chicken! The idea isn't really that new though, Nigella has been doing here ham in Coca Cola for years and speaking to several people that have tried it, it's amazing. Odd sounding I know but Cola is quite a sweet, spicy drink, full of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon, which adds real flavour and depth to anything that it's cooked with. Obviously being vegetarian I couldn't use chicken but I saw a few people make it with Quorn pieces and fillets so I thought I'd give it a go. 

I wasn't really sure about putting this recipe up because it's not really mine. You just have to look around on the internet to find a zillion different versions of this recipe. Every time I've posted a picture on here or on my instagram though I've been asked for the recipe so here you go. This is my interpretation, it's still quite healthy though but I'll tell you later how you can make it less or alter it to suit your own tastes.

Diet Coke Quorn

10 Spray Of Fry Light (I'm Using Garlic)
4 x Cloves Garlic- Roughly Chopped
1 x Onion - Roughly Chopped
2 Sticks Celery - Finely Chopped
2 x Carrots
1 x Courgette
1 x Pepper - Red, Yellow, Or Orange
300g Quorn Pieces - Defrosted If Frozen
1 x Tin Chopped Tomatoes
200g Mushrooms - Roughly Chopped
330ml Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Or Any Other Diet Cola
1 Tsp Chinese 5 Spice Powder
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Tomato Puree

1. Spray your Fry Light into a large pan, I'm using a large saute pan here but a casserole dish or pan would probably be better. Add your garlic, onion and celery to the pan and cook over a medium until the onions are soft and translucent

2. Roughly chop your courgette and carrots, You want everything to be roughly the same size so cut them both length ways, then slice. Add those to the pan and cook for a few minutes x

3. Then roughly chop your peppers, I have a combination of red orange and yellow here because I was using mini ones. Add those to the pan and cook your vegetables for about 5 minutes.

4. Then add your mushrooms, and cook for about 10 minutes, your pan will be quite full but don't panic the mushrooms and the vegetables will continue to cook down and soften.

5. Finally your Quorn Pieces, you could add them at the first stage but to be honest you don't really want to crisp the, you want them to absorb all the flavours, so adding them now works fine. Pop a lid on for about 10 minutes.

6. Add your tinned tomatoes

Then your Chinese 5 Spice powder. This is a fab herb and spice blend containing cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, ginger and black pepper. It's quite strong and quite aniseedy, so if your not sure add less that I do,you can always add a bit more later.

Then add your tomato puree, and your soy sauce.

7. Stir it all together and then add your Diet Coke. I'm using a bottle of Pepsi Max here which I've measured out but any diet coke type drink works. In fact I think the cheaper ones work better because they usually have a bit more of a cinnamon or clove flavour. 

You might not be able o fit it all in at once but just let it reduce a bit and then add so more.

8. The cook over a low / medium heat for at least an hour. The sauce, will have reduced, thickened and darkened. Have a taste and then you can add more 5 Spice or soy to taste.

Done - serve with either rice, pasta, or even fried rice. This recipe makes 4 very generous portions, and it will keep for a day or so in the fridge if you have left overs. Simply reheat in a pan or in the the microwave adding a little bit of diet coke or a bit or water.

Simple as it's very easy to adapt to suit your own needs and tastes. You can use whatever vegetables you like, this just happens to be what I usually have in the veg basket. You can also vary the flavouring although I do think that 5 Spice gives it a great flavour. You can also add a bit of chilli or some Worcester sauce to give it a bit more of a kick. The original recipe used tomato passata instead of tinned tomatoes but that gives a much more sauce based dish, but it's up to you. ou could also use Quorn Fillets or chopped up Quorn Roast and it goes without saying you could use chicken or gammon.I'm trying to be health conscious here but if you want to throw calories or caution to the wind you could use oil instead of Fry Light and of course you could use full fat and full sugar coke.

I was really sceptical about this dish when I first made it but it's become a really favourite and Me and Mummy Lou now have this at least once a month. If you haven't tried it yet I'd definitely recommend you give it a go, sometimes it pays to experiment x Happy Eating xx

Thursday 30 October 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas - The EcoTools 6 Piece Starter Set - A Review For My Pure*

There are lots of things beauty wise that I can't seem to stop buying including nail polish, blusher, eyeshadow palettes, and make up brushes. I have so many brushes in my collection already and maybe because I hate washing them so much I always seem to buy new ones. I own brushes at all price points and from lots of different brands but at the moment I'm loving my EcoTools brushes and applicators.

Most of my collection has come courtesy of My Pure, and I'm currently using the EcoTools Bamboo 5 Piece Fresh And Flawless Complexion Set, and the Foam Applicator, both of which I've already reviewed for you, and I'm also using the Retractable Kabuki Brush which I've had in my collection for quite a while now, that I also love.

I didn't really need any more brushes but thinking of Christmas and gifting, I decided to pick an EcoTools brush set for one of my October My Pure reviews

The EcoTools 6 Piece Starter Set is probably the most comprehensive, full sized brush set that they produce. It contains 5 full sized brushes (one of the brushes has two heads and you get holder / cosmetic bag) for face and eyes, all with bamboo handles, recycled, bronze tone, aluminium ferrules, and synthetic cruelty free bristles.

The brushes comes packaged in a small,  hemp and EVA reusable cosmetic bag. It has two compartments, a zipped clear section on the front and a fabric section which fastens with a press stud. It isn't essential but it's good for storage, and a clear section means that it's quick and easy to find what you're looking for.

This starter kits and contains some of the key brushes, that you'll always use in your daily routine.

Blush Brush

Everybody needs a good blush or bronzer brush in their collection. Blush and bronzer can make such a difference to your face shape and your overall look, just try going without it for one day and see how flat and shapeless your face looks.

This brush has quite a wide almost fluffy, fan shaped head, that fits the contours of your face perfectly. The hairs are super soft, and they pick up product with ease.

This is a good brush, that does exactly what it should. The head is quite large so if you want a more precise or specific application this may not be for you. For the majority of people though this will be a perfect blush or contour brush.

Concealer Brush

Whether you use a stick, a cream or a liquid a good concealer brush is a must. You can either use it apply the product directly to the skin or you can use it to blend your concealer to create a seamless finish that just doesn't happen when you use your fingers.

This brush features almost duo fibre, synthetic bristles, which are perfect for applying liquids and creams. It feels soft against the skin, but at the same time, it has a degree of firmness which is essential for precise application. It also has a slightly pointed tip so you can get into all those nooks, and crannies, for example around your mouth and nose. 

Again this brush does exactly what it promises, the shape is perfect, and the synthetic fibres are easy to wash and to care for, an essential when you use creams or liquids. Oh and if you really wanted you could also use this as an extra eye brush.

Eye Shading Brush

In my opinion this is the most important brush in the kit. Most things can be fiddled either by using your fingers or by choosing your product more carefully, but not eyeshadow, even if you use a stick or a pencil you still need to blend it.

The bristles again are synthetic and silky smooth, but like with the concealer brush there is a degree of firmness. The hairs are quite densely packed so the eyeshadow goes exactly where you put it. It works equally well, whether you use it to apply a single shadow or whether you use it to blend a couple of shades together. It works brilliantly with powder and loose shadows, but being synthetic you can also use it for cream, liquid and mousse shadows, without causing any damage to the brush.

I love my eye brushes and unsurprisingly this is the brush in this kit, that I've used the most. It works perfectly and it feels gentle on the skin. It's a good quality, versatile brush that I would easily pay the price for the whole kit for.

Angled Eye Liner Brush

For the product I'll use the most to the one I'll probably use the least. There's nothing wrong with the brush I'm just not really an eyeliner girl.

That said this is a pretty decent angled liner brush. The synthetic bristles are ideal for gel and cream liners, and the angled head is cut evenly, and smoothly, meaning you get a really clean line, with no strays hair causing wobbles. I've had a little play with this and it's pretty easy to work with. The fibres again are firm enough for precision but at the same time their flexible enough to negotiate the contours of the eye. You never know this brush might make me start playing with my gel eyeliners again ;)

Lash & Brow Groomer

The final brush in the kit is another kit essential, a lash and brow brush. I can't find an awful lot of information on this brush unfortunately. Like the other brushes it features the bamboo handles and the recycled ferrules but I'm not entirely sure what the brush and comb components are made out of.

One side of the applicator features a traditional plastic lash comb, and the other side features the traditional style brow brush which I believe is made from strong, taklon fibres. 
Again this brush does what it promises, the comb element easily separates lashes and removes mascara clumps, and the brow brush, smooths, separates and controls the brow hairs with minimum effort. If I was being really picky I would have liked the brow side to be a little firmer but it does the job as it is.

I have to say I really like the brushes in this kit. The 6 Piece Starter Set name though  is a little bit misleading because you technically only get 5 brushes, but I guess one does more than one job and you get a cosmetic bag as well, so it's still pretty decent value for money. The eye brush was a particular favourite and in my opinion is easily comparable to brushes costing more than the price of this whole kit. All of the brushes, were well made and good quality. The cruelty free and eco friendly aspect is also a good selling point and yet again this set proves that synthetic brushes don't need to be scratchy, or poor quality.

I think that this kit would make a great starter kit for someone who is quite new to make up I especially like the fact that the name of each brush is stamped onto the bamboo handle.

Don't think of it as just for beginners though I think that most people who wear make up would find a use for most, if not all of the brushes in this set. I think that this would be a great Christmas pressie for any make user no matter what their age. You may not always know what colours or textures to go for but you can never go wrong with some decent make up brushes, and I for one would have been pretty happy to see these in my stocking.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions please leave me a comment x


Tuesday 28 October 2014

Green Hair? Don't Care! Courtesy Of Models Own And Midori*

Although I've been colouring my hair for as long as I can remember, I've never really veered away from the so called natural shades, other than my red and white blonde "Geri Halliwell" phase. Over the years I've considered going for something a bit more daring but for one reason, and another it's never really happened. To be honest I just don't think I'm brave enough for such a drastic change.

That doesn't mean that I don't like to experiment, I do, I just don't want the commitment of making a permanent or at least a semi-permanent change. Thankfully though there now plenty of options for people like me who want to funk things up a bit, but without the hassle, the expense or the risk.

Remember hair mascaras? Yup you can still get them but thankfully things have moved on a little and now coloured hair sprays, and hair chalks are absolutely everywhere and available at all price points. Over the years I've tried more than my fair share of coloured sprays and mascaras but hair chalks despite their popularity were something that was quite new to me.

Recently I was contacted on behalf of popular nail brand Models Own. Although they are best known for their nail polishes, they also now sell a wide range beauty products including make up and accessories. One of their newest releases is in partnership with the popular, bright green, melon liqueur, Midori.

The two teamed up last year to produce a range of nail polishes but this years collaboration was a bit different. Instead of nail polishes they produced a limited edition hair chalk.

The Models Own My Midori Hair Chalk comes packaged in a fabulous lidded, jelly mold shaped tub. As well as protecting the chalk, and making application less messy, the container is also contoured so it fits easily in hand making application easier.

As you would expect from the partnership, the chalk is in a bright, neon lime green colour, much brighter than it's showing here and the exact same colour of the Midori Liqueur.

The instructions are really easy to follow, no leave for 10 minutes here, you just cover your shoulders with a towel, and rub the chalk onto clean, dry hair.

I was initially going to just put a bit on the front of my hair but I was brave and went for it and allowed my mum to cover the remnants of my blonde highlights with chalk - prepare to be frightened!!!

I'm going to be honest and say that my mum applied most of it for me, as I was having a rubbishy arm day. She found it really easy to apply, the chalk didn't feel dry at all (it contains mineral oil) and you didn't need to use a lot of pressure to get it to stick to the hair. It was a bit messy and powdery though, so I would recommend that you completely cover your back and shoulders with a towel, especially if your applying as much as we did.

It does feel a bit powdery on the hair so all you do is spray your hair with hairspray to set it. Mine lasted for a few hours before it started to fade. All you do to remove it is just wash your hair, and it comes straight out. The instructions do advise though that if your hair is bleached, very dry, or coloured that it may hold on to the chalk for longer, but I didn't have any problems on my dry hair.

So many products like this don't do a lot on darker hair, and whilst it's showing slightly brighter here, I was still surprised at how well it showed up on my hair. Unlike a lot of products this chalk can be used all hair colours ranging from blonde to black.

(Images Provided By PR)

Although I literally covered my remaining highlights with it, you can of course be a little bit more subtle like it shows in these pictures and just add the odd strand here and there, or use it to emphasise a style.

I think that this is great fun, it it really gives you the chance to experiment with an unusual colour and a new look, without any risk. I think it will be great for parties, nights out, Halloween or even St Patricks Day. The Models Own My Midori Hair Chalk si limited edition andretails at £6 and is available from the Models Own website, and from Models Own Bottleshops.

Speaking of Halloween, alongside my hair chalk sample I was also sent a beautifully, designed miniature bottle of Midori. I've heard of it, but not being a huge drinker I'd never actually tried it.

Midori, which literally means green in Japanese is a melon liqueur, that can be used in cocktails or with mixers. Although I fancied trying the Midori Twist, which was a mixture of Midori, lemon and lime juice, I was a bit boring and just mixed it with a bit of lemonade.

The colour is unbelievable and perfect for Halloween, the though taste really surprised me. I love fresh melons but more often then not anything melon scented is far too sweet and synthetic. Whilst this was sweet it was no where near as sweet as I thought it would be, and the taste reminded me quite a bit of fruity schnapps. I only managed to get a couple of glasses out my miniature but I will definitely consider buying a full sized bottle for the festive season.

Midori Melon Liqueur is available from all major supermarkets including Asda,and Tesco and has a recommended retail price of between £11 and £16.99. You can find out more about Midori including recipe suggestions and more from their official website x

I hope you've enjoyed reading this post and that you've enjoyed seeing me with green hair. I've quite enjoyed this little play with hair colour and drinks, so who know I might be more adventurous in the future. If you have any questions please leave me a comment and I'll see yon on Thursday with another review or two xx

(PR Samples)

Monday 27 October 2014

Muddy, Sludge Nails Of The Day Courtesy Of Avon - All Khakied Out

Looking through my nail polish collection I seem to have a lot of colours that I know divide opinion. I'm talking about those muddy khaki, brown shades, that people like my mum hate, and that I love. I have quite a few ranging for pure army green khakis, to polishes like this one from Avon that are brown based.

In the bottle Avon Nailwear Pro + in  All Khakied Out looks like a very dull, dark brown / green, and in certain lights that's actually what it looks like on the nails, but give the bottle or your nails a wiggle and it completely changes.

In the dark or at night it looks very dark, and maybe a bit boring, but when the light shines on it, you get flashes of green and gold shimmer.

I am a huge fan of the Nailwear Pro + line, I love the wide brushes and I normally, bar a couple of exceptions, love the formulation, this one though was a little harder to love. The formulation was quite gloopy, and combined with very shaky hands, and the wide brush, it meant that the application wasn't that easy and I kept flooding my cuticles. 

I know it always harder to apply dark colours perfectly especially with shaky spoonie hands, so maybe I'm being a bit hyper critical but the formulation just wasn't up to the standard that I've come to expect from Nailwear Pro + polishes. Despite that though it dries quickly and two days later it's still going strong all be it with a top coat.

Although I had issues with the formulation I loved the colour and the finish, in one light it can look like a real autumnal dark brown, green, yet another light you get iridescent flashes of gold and green. Mummy Lou isn't convinced though and I'm not even going to tell you how she described it, you can't please everyone I guess.

 The colour is really unusual so if your partial to a bit of muddy, sludge with a twist then this polish could be worth hunting down. It doesn't seem to be on the Avon UK website anymore but I got it from a sale brochure so you may still be able to get your hands on it if you have an Avon representative. 

What do you think of colours like this? Are you in Mummy Lou's camp or in mine? Let me know below x

Sunday 26 October 2014

Bentley Organic Moisturising Hand Sanitiser* - A Review For My Pure

I'm keeping my fingers tightly crossed at the minute, so many people around me seem to have colds at the moment. I've had the odd sore throat and sneezing fit but so far I've managed to avoid it. I guess it's one of the hazards of winter, constantly dipping between hot and cold temperatures gives germs the perfect opportunity to breed.

There isn't an awful lot we can do to keep those bugs at bay other than eat a healthy diet, but maintaining good personal hygiene can really make a difference. I'm a bit obsessed with hand washing but sometimes it just isn't possible to give you hands a good scrub with soap and water, so I tend to rely on hand sanitisers.

I always, always have either a gel or a spray in my bag and every time I go out I use them at least once. Their great for getting rid of sticky marks after eating and drinking and of course their excellent for getting rid of the things you can't see.

Just think about it, on an average shopping trip, how many things do you touch? I don't want to sound paranoid but you're touching money, maybe a basket or a trolley, or maybe a door handle. What about using public transport, you touching a hand rail, maybe money again and maybe a seat. It's awful to think about but you really don't know who or what, has touched that same surface before you.

The trouble with hand sanitisers and anti-bacterial gels though is that they are normally full of alcohol. There is no question that alcohol is an amazing substance for killing germs and bacteria but it isn't always the best ingredient for the skin. It can be very, very drying and it can really irritate sensitive skins. I once went to visit my mum during a stay in a local hospital and the hand sanitiser they provided literally made the skin peel from my fingers!

Despite it's popularity and usefulness though, there are now quite a few hand sanitisers on the market that don't contain alcohol. Most that I've found usually contain a blend of essential oils, but for one of this months My Pure reviews I decided to try something new in both ingredients and in texture.

As you'll already know from some of my previous previous posts, the history of Bentley Organic is all about soap, soap making and basically cleanliness. The majority of their products are designed to keep the face, the body and the home clean and hygienic. 

The Bentley Organic Moisturising Hand Sanitiser is alcohol, paraben, and fragrance free. Made with 90% organic ingredients, it contains aloe vera for moisture and a combination of various citrus essential oils. It comes in a 50ml pump action bottle, and unlike a lot of the commercially available anti-bacterial products, it isn't a spray or a gel, it actually a foam. All you do is just pump some product onto your hands, rub them together and it's gone. I don't notice any stickiness or dryness, it just seemed to disappear into my skin.

Obviously I can't comment on whether it actually works and kills germs, but Bentley Organic claims that this product kills 99.9% of all known germs, and as of the 17th November 2009, it was  is the only certified organic sanitiser which was approved by the UK government for killing the H1N1 strain of swine flu. As someone who had swine flu, and suffered the hell that was Tamiflu, that means that it's a winner in my eyes!

I have to say I really liked this, the aloe vera content seemed to provide some form of moisture, and I loved the fact that it didn't leave me hands sticky and uncomfortable. I would have maybe liked some form of fragrance but I can understand why they've made it fragrance free, after all I don't think I'd want a sandwich tasting of hand sanitiser!

I also like the fact that a small amount of product goes a long way, one pump easily produced enough for both hands and the manufacturer claims that you can get up to 125 applications from the one 50ml bottle, making it a really economical product to use given the price. 

I have to say I'm a fan and I would definitely consider repurchasing in the future. The Bentley Organic Moisturising Hand Sanitiser usually retails £3.25 for 50ml from My Pure but it's currently on sale at £2.93, which makes it even more economical to buy when you think of cost per use. Are you a hand sanitiser user? Leave me a comment and let me know x