Sunday, 31 December 2017

Healthy January #smoothieaday




Christmas is well and truly over and we are all in the same boat where we start to worry about our health. I am sure that majority of us feel guilty about the amount of food and drink that we have consumed over the festive period. January is the perfect time to take stock and change our lifestyle and eating habits.

10 things to change:

1. De clutter your kitchen cupboards and fridge of all junk food.
2. Rewrite your shopping list to include, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
3. Replace refined sugars with natural sugars such agave nectar, maple syrup, stevia and honey but still consume them in moderation.
4. Stop buying cartons of juices and smoothies that have sugars and additives.
5. Make a meal plan and shop accordingly to avoid eating ready meals.
6. Replace sugary fizzy drinks with water.
7. Give up smoking
8. Reduce alcohol consumption
9. Replace sweet treats and desserts with fresh fruit. Aim to eat five fruits and vegetables a day.
10. Exercise, walk, swim, jog at least 30 minutes each day.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Its important to eat a healthy breakfast as it will stop you getting sugar cravings mid morning. Eat porridge, granola or low fat cereals with less sugar. If you don't have time for breakfast the best thing to do is to make a smoothie to take with you.

At the weekend add to your shopping list the fruits and vegetables listed below. They are so that you can create single portion smoothie mixes to keep in your freezer ready to blend in the morning.



Fruits / Vegetables

Seeds/ Berries /Nuts

Milks/ Liquids

Spices / Sweeteners

Mango
Pineapple
Bananas
Apples
Pears
Peaches
Melons
Baby Spinach
Kale
Avocado
Kiwi Fruit
Plums
Berries
Sharon Fruit
White Cabbage
Beetroot
Cauliflower
Cucumber
Carrots
Celery
Coconut
Lemon
Lime
Oranges 
Fresh Ginger
Fresh Turmeric
Pumpkin seeds
Chia Seeds
Flax Seeds
Goji Berries
Golden Berries
Almonds
Cashew nuts
Oats

Soya Milk
Almond Milk
Water
Coconut Milk
Coconut water
Rice Milk
Yoghurt
Hemp Milk
Fresh Juice
Ice cubes
Nutmeg
Cardamom
All Spice
Cinnamon
Maple Syrup
Honey
Agave Nectar
Dates
Stevia
Cocoa



To make your smoothie freezer mixes:

1. Peel, cut and dice the fruits and vegetables into one inch pieces. 
2. Peel the root ginger and turmeric and cut it into small 1 cm pieces.(You only need a very small amount of this to add to your mix)
3.Once the fruit is cut, select 3-4 fruits and vegetable combinations from the above list. There is no strict ratio but I usually select the main fruit and make it to 1 cup, add 1/2 cup second fruit, and then 1/4 cup of vegetable such as spinach, kale, cucumber, celery or cabbage and put them into a zip lock bag. If you like you can add a cm cube of turmeric or ginger too. 
4. Make up all the pouches and label the zip lock bags to say what ingredients are in them and add a date. The best thing to do is to let your family add their own choice combinations into a zip lock bag to make individual smoothie servings. Label each bag with their name and what fruits are in them. 
5. Place the zip lock bags into the freezer ready for use.
6. To make the smoothie in the morning take a smoothie mix from the freezer and add it to the Optimum 9400 Blender or any other heavy duty blender, select or two ingredients from the seeds, berries and nut column and add it to the fruit, now select a liquid from the liquid column and add 50ml  to the blender. Finally choose a sweeter or spice and add a tiny bit to the blender, This is optional.
7. Blend the smoothie and pour into a onthego cup and your smoothie is ready.

There is no hard and fast rules about the combinations of fruits and vegetables you can choose but below are some suggestions.

  • Pear and Pineapple and Ginger
  • Mixed summer Berries (strawberries, blackberries and raspberries)  cabbage, banana,
  • Kiwi, cucumber and kale
  • Beetroot, carrot and Orange
  • Sharon fruit, lime and Orange
  • Melon, raspberries and banana
  • Avocado, spinach and pineapple
  • Red apple, beetroot and ginger
  • Mango, turmeric and pineapple
  • Kale, apple and melon
  • Spinach, celery and cucumber
  • Peaches, apple and ginger 
  • Banana, avocado
  • Blue berries apple and ginger



To get you started do check some of these wonderful ideas:


To make the smoothies you will need together with all the ingredients a heavy duty blender. This is important as the fruits are frozen and budget blenders will not be able to blend frozen fruits.

I used my tried and trusted Optimum 9400 or Nutri Force Extractor. Both Blenders are capable of blending frozen fruit and give you the correct texture. They are both easy to clean and maintain too.

The Optimum 9400 is curently on offer for £299 and the Nutri Force Extractor is on offer for £189 . Froothie also offer 0% finance on products over £ 299 and only require a 10% deposit. That's not all, the fab people at Froothie are offering you lovely readers FREE DELIVERY too (for a limited time).  Just use this code 1572 FREE AMBASSADOR DELIVERY in the comments box when making your purchase, the delivery charge will then be refunded.


You will also need something to put your smoothie in such as on the go cups, mason jars with lids, glass bottles with lids and also straws. 

Although this sounds like an investment, it's totally worth it, think of the money you will save when you make your own smoothie. One single shop bought smoothie can cost up to two pounds and it also has many sugars and additives in it. For a fraction of this price you can make your own smoothie at home.


Tip: Buy bulk packs of fruits that are value for money. Also stock up on seasonal fruits. Shop at market stalls they often reduce berries etc at the end of the day as they often have short shelf life.Since we are freezing the fruit it does not matter if its a little over ripe. On average I worked out that one serving sometimes even two smoothie on the go costs less than 50p to make at home.




Friday, 22 December 2017

My Favorite Christmas Jumpers and Hats from ASDA


Christmas is not Christmas unless you purchase a Christmas Jumper and a hat for the festive period. On Christmas morning we have a family ritual of wearing our Christmas jumpers at breakfast and them sitting down to open presents.

This year I have discovered some really nice Christmas jumpers  from Asda, They have a wonderful selection and are reasonably priced too. Below you can some of my favorites. The children's  jumpers start from £6.00 and the adult jumpers start from £18.00





No Christmas jumper is complete with out a Christmas hat, Asda have really gone to town and
have so many hats that its really hard to choose one from their large selection.


My favorite Christmas hat is definitely the Christmas pudding one featured below. Which one do you like do tell me in the comments below. The hats range in price from £4.00 and there is a selection of Adult and Childrens hats.






This year we are looking forward to wearing our Asda Christmas Jumpers. There are so many to choose from in different colours, styles and patterns too.


Mr K is going to wear the green Santa jumper. Its bright green with a furry santa motif on it. 


Miss R and Miss K will be wearing the Knitted Christmas Long line Jumper and Fairisle Christmas Jumper and I will be wearing the Textured sequin Penguin jumper


If you have yet to buy your Christmas jumper you still have time, head over to Asda and pick your favorite. Do you have a family ritual you follow for Christmas? I would love to hear about it.



Thanks to Miss R who is modelling the ladies Jumpers for this post.
**This post is in collaboration with Asda.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

White Chocolate and Coconut Bark



print recipe

White Chocolate and Coconut Bark
A lovely coconutty white chocolate bark that simply melts in the mouth.
Ingredients:
  • 600 g White chocolate
  • 40 g Desicated coconut (coarse)
  • 20 g Colourful edible sprinkles
  • 1/2 teaspoon or 6 drops Coconut essence
  • 100 g Milk chocolate
Method:
1. Set up a double boiler, and put a glass bowl over it.2. Break the white chocolate into small pieces and add to the glass bowl. Allow it to melt fully.3. Add the coconut essence and the desiccated coconut and mix through gently as not to create air bubbles.4. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper and pour the melted chocolate on it, smoothing it with a palette knife.,5. Melt the milk chocolate in another bowl and fill a piping bag with it. Pipe straight lines over the white chocolate on the tray and using a cocktail stick create a feather design by dragging the cocktail stick through the white chocolate.6. Sprinkle the edible sprinkles and place the tray in the fridge to set. 7. Once the chocolate is set cut it into small pieces and fill gift bags with it. Tie with a pretty ribbon and its ready for gifting.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Chill time: Total time: Yield: 1 tray



These make lovely edible gifts and look beautiful when filled in cellophane bag and tied with a ribbon bow. This is the perfect activity to get your youngsters involved in.


Thursday, 14 December 2017

Historic London, Leadenhall Market and Pizza Express


The city of London is full of culture, it has amazing listed buildings and has history that goes back to the first century. One such place in the East End of London is the Leadenhall Market a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street Station. The market was built on the site of a Roman Basilca in the first century. After the Romans left, sadly the site was left to ruins. It was only in the 1300 that it was relisted and it became a meeting place for poulterers and cheesemongers. It was in 1400’s that the Leadenhall market became the hub of the east end as it became the best place to purchase meat, game, poultry and fish.

As the market grew in popularity a granary and a chapel were added to the site and in 1463 the market became the most important centre of commerce as the beam of tronage and weighing wool. In 1488, the market grew bigger as the leather merchants set up there and in 1622 cutlery was also sold at the market. Sadly after so much growth, the great fire 1666 wiped out and destroyed many parts of the market. The market was rebuilt after the fire and it was divided in to three parts, the beef market, green yard and herb market and it continued to thrive. In 1881, the market had another refurbish and many of the stone structures were replaced with wrought iron and glass. The building was listed as a Grade 11.

In 1900 the market went through another restoration process and it had a Victorian setting with the roof and cobbles. The poultry market continued to thrive in the market until the mid-20 th century now the market is a modern retail centre with the Victorian features of cobbled floors, ornate glass roof and beautiful architecture reminiscing of the old London. The market has had some very famous people visit it such as Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens and for those die hard Harry Potter Fans, the Diagon Alley scenes  from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone were filmed in the market.








































I had the opportunity to Visit and dine at the recently refurbished Pizza express set in Leadenhall Market. The restaurant is set in a lovely Grade two listed building. Its recent refurbishment has really enhanced the beauty of the building. The original stone features and wooden beams have been brought back to life and used to accentuate the décor. The restaurant has capacity of 165 seating indoors and 22 seating outside is spread over two floors.







































It has been tastefully furnished  to fit in with the historic building . The use of  beautiful paintings, low lighting, mirrors and the addition of appropriate dining  booths and seating has given this pizza express a setting that is modern  but retaining the historic feel and mood of the market.

The restaurant is open Mon-Friday , since the area around is full of city dwellers and not much activity happens around there at weekends.

The restaurant also offers pizza making parties, hosts corporate parties and is available for private parties too.





Unlike any other pizza express restaurants I have visited this certainly was my favourite in view of the ambience, setting and décor.

The food was of course delicious too. The olives and sundried appetisers and the dough balls were a lovely start to the evening together with glasses of prosecco.


The pizza making class that followed was enjoyable and the chef was very funny and engaging. There was a good vibe during the pizza making session.

It was great to mingle with other bloggers as our pizza creations were cooked. My vegetarian pizza was cooked to perfection and was delicious.We finished off our evening with coffee, Baileys and Limoncello.








































I was a guest of pizza express all the views and opinions are of my experience of the evening. I really enjoyed visiting the restaurant, the pizza making class was most enjoyable as was the food and drinks. At the moment pizza express also offers a 3 course Christmas menu. I would highly recommend visiting Leadenhall Market and dine at the Pizza Express it is a lovely experience.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Finding the perfect Dinner Service

I have just recently had a kitchen clear out, I have de cluttered all my broken, chipped and mismatched china. I am in the process of replacing everything. Luckily there are so many sales and black Friday deals, that it was the perfect time to do a spot of research. My search led me to the Debenhams dinner set range and I am really pleased to find out there was a massive on line sale and there are 30% - 50%  discounts on a majority of the range.

Ideally I want to purchase a range for daily use, one set for entertaining and I also wanted a basic set for my daughter who is a new graduate living away from home.

A few of my favourite sets that I have short listed are:




My first choice for the formal dinner ware is this Denby - Cream glazed 'Monsoon Lucille' 16 piece dinnerware set. 

The design is inspired by a 1950's lace panel. The gold fine design on soft cream china is elegant and very ornate. It would grace any dinner table beautifully. The set is freezer, microwave, dishwasher and oven safe to so it’s perfect for the modern lifestyle.
The set is on sale for £121.80









I also liked Novello 12pce Dinner Set is part of the Belleek Living Novello Tableware range. I adore the blue/ grey swirl design on the white. The set looks dainty yet robust in its own way.

The set consists of 12 pieces; dinner plates, 4 side plates and 4 bowls. This design is inspired Georgian architecture, this is a modern and extremely stylish and dishwasher and microwave safe.
The set is on special offer at £59.00









Royal Doulton dinner sets are very well known for their quality and class. This luxurious 'Platinum Trim' formal dinner set from Royal Doulton is made from white porcelain. 


It comes as a 12 piece set and includes 4 dinner plates, 4 side plates and 4 cereal bowls. The set is dishwasher safe only. With this is mind I think it would only be practical for occasion use.
The set is on sale for £65.00








For that alfresco dining and summer days the sea green and white Denby 'Azure Coast' range is perfect. The white plates with a mosaic type blue design is both modern and stylish and smart


The stoneware set is practical for daily use since it is, dishwasher, freezer and oven safe. It comprises of 4 x dinner plate, 4 x tea plate, 4 x cereal bowl and 4 x mug. The set is on sale for £188.30






The Denby Jet sixteen piece dinner Set is very masculine, so I am not surprised that my husband really likes it and it was his first choice. It has a smart urban feel with its bold, gloss black with soft dove grey finish. 


This stoneware set is dishwasher, oven, microwave and freezer safe and consists of 4 x dinner plate, 4 x tea plate, 4 x mugs, 4 x bowls.
The set is on sale for £161.00





For my daughter I thought this Home Collection Basics - Blue 12 piece stoneware dinnerware set is real good value for money. 

It is dishwasher and microwave safe. It includes 4 x cereal bowls, 4 x dessert plates, 4 x dinner plates

This set is only £40.00, for a student its affordable and will not be too upsetting if any of the pieces should break!!!








I really like the look of all the sets I have short listed and I think I am going to go for the “Monsoon Lucille” for entertaining, the “Home Collection Basics” for my daughter  and the “Denby Azure Coast” for daily use.

Whilst shopping for dinner sets, I did get sidetracked and stumbled across a range of lovely kitchen ware and electrical gadgets on their website. I instantly fell in love with the Chrome Pressure King Pro - 3L, 8-in-1 Digital Pressure Cooker, . With its 8 pre set settings it would be the perfect kitchen companion for a working parent like my self to create healthy delicious meals in minutes. Do check it out and see what you think.

What do you think of my choices what would you have picked???

**This post is in collaboration with Debenhams. Images used with permission from Debenhams.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Tidbits in my Pantry from B&M


This month I am really excited to show you some tidbits that I got from B&M stores. For those of you who are not aware B&M stores are a type of department store where you can purchase toys, household goods, home furnishings, electricals, kitchenware, stationary and food too.





This time of the year they have a lot of Christmas themed products too.The store offers great bargain and value for money items and lots of deals on food products too.We have a small office at work and wanted to put up a mini tree and have some nibbles and treats for Christmas.







I managed to pick up quite a few things for under £20.00. Our tree decorations had seen better days and needed to be replace badly. I picked up some lovely Christmas bobbles, tree decorations in gold and shimmering champagne pink which will look great and give the tree a much needed face lift.











For our Christmas snacks table I bought  some really delicious savory nibbles such as nuts, bruschetta bites, crackers and pringles too.

For the friends with sweet tooth, I picked up sweet treats too such as these Guylian chocolates, shortbread, Christmassy chocolate wafers in the adorable snowman tin and chocolate coins  and chocolate biscuits too.



I do love shopping at B&M as I can be assured that I can get lots of value for my money and make it stretch further. This is great as I can stick to my budget and not go over it.

Are there any money saving tips that you can you have? Do share them with me in the comments below I would love to know them.




**This post is in collaboration with B&M Stores.
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