Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Coconut & Cinnamon French Toast Bites

I'm feeling really sorry for myself today.  I'm overwhelmed by the two dissertations I have looming over me and frankly I'm pretty stressed about the whole third year University situation in general.  It's not like me to feel so easily overwhelmed, so on the rare occasion I do feel it, I listen to what I want.  And what I want today is to eat something sweet and watch trashy tv...basically anything that will allow me to put the world of postcolonial literature and third cinema behind me.  I thought it would be nicer to make something to not only keep me occupied but to also get my arse out of bed.  When I'm feeling tetchy I need something to channel my stress into, whether that's cooking, blogging, exercising, drinking green tea or just being a raging bitch...whatever.  So, if you are lying in a grave of self pity much like myself, I'm hoping these little bites can offer you some solace.

For these French toast bites you will need;
  • 4 slices of thickly sliced fresh bread (the only time I condone eating white bread is when it is freshly baked)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 a cup of coconut milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice...however these are coconut bites so attempt to stick to the theme if possible)
  • 1 tablespoon of self raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar
Start by lightly toasting your bread.  Put it on the lowest possible setting on the toaster; you want them crisp but not brown.  Once toasted, cut each slice into 4 squares then set aside.  By toasting the bread first, you avoid much of the dreaded sogginess you may associate with badly done eggy bread.  Shoutout to my dad for always making an excellent batch of savoury french toast.

Melt your butter (about 10 seconds in the microwave) and whisk it together with the milk, self raising flour, cinnamon and coconut sugar.  It may take a little extra work to smooth out the lumps of flour and as I have the upper body strength of a foetus, I had Tom help me out.  When you are happy the mixture is smooth, crack in the two eggs and carry on whisking.

Heat up your pan of choice with a teaspoon of coconut oil (or butter if you wish) and leave it on a medium heat.  Dip the squares into the mixture lightly, making sure that they are well covered but not heavily saturated...I'm assuming you don't want soggy bites.  Pop them into the pan, flipping them every few minutes to make sure they are properly cooked.  You will want the outsides crisp and browned and the insides fluffy.

When they are ready, stack them up on a plate and garnish as necessary.  I sprinkled a little icing sugar on mine and added some raspberries.  Then I remembered how sorry for myself I was feeling and added some golden syrup.  As you can see, the outside is bronzed with the sugar and cinnamon but the inside is still light and fluffy.

Tom cooked his in butter and chose mango as a topping.  Of course you can add whatever your heart desires...shredded coconut, maple syrup, whipped cream, blueberries, more cinnamon...go the full hog. 

And now it's time for me to return to my Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathon armed with a green juice (I cannot believe I've only just started watching this show, it's right up my alley).  Maybe I'll find the energy to do some yoga later or maybe I'll just make another batch of these.  It's all about balance my dears.  

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Why I Went Wireless

I never understood the concept of the wireless bra until last year.  I thought they were for people with tiny boobs and that the lack of support would end up in endless pain whilst doing menial tasks and a lot of nipple.  However, my normal bras were a pain in the arse...uncomfortable, constantly needed adjusting and more than anything, restrictive.  You all know how good it feels to get home and take your bra off at the end of the day, right?  I thought I'd try a wireless option to see how much more comfortable I felt.  Needless to say, I was quickly converted, and in short, these are the reasons I went wireless;

It's 10x more comfortable than a regular bra
How often do you find yourself readjusting yourself around the wiring? The underside of the cup is stiff and painful and too much movement requires putting a hand down your top to put everything back into place.

It's also a hell of a lot cheaper than buying regular bras
On average I find myself paying around £12-£16 for a nice wireless bra.  Compare that to the £30+ that's on offer for the wired, push up, cup increasing boob cages in most lingerie stores...frankly it's a no brainer.

There is no risk of wires deciding to pop out and stab me
Not only is this random act of violence painful and unnecessary, it also renders the bra useless and a complete waste of money.

They don't become washed out and iffy after a few washes
Oh how quickly your regular bra can because discoloured and misshapen.  What was once a practical white T-shirt bra is now a grey, lumpy mess.

I still feel supported yet not restricted
Granted, if you're ranging from an E cup onwards the likelihood is that wireless bras are going to do little for you in terms or support.  I am normally a 34C and I buy a size 10 or a medium in wireless bras and I'm always comfortable.  On a daily basis, what are you really doing? Walking to the bus stop? Sitting at a desk? Unless you like to star jump down the road, a wireless bra is going to suit you just fine.  I'm actually so comfortable that sometimes I feel like I'm not wearing a bra at all.

A little bit of nipple is chic
No, your nipples are not going to be on show when you go wireless (it was one of my initial concerns).  If you do fear the exposure, there are gorgeous padded yet wireless options for full coverage.  When I was in the US, I found an excellent range by Aerie by American Eagle that were subtly padded but still comfortable.  If you wear a sheerer option and do find you've got a bit of a nip problem, embrace it as part of your look and hope that those around you are restrained enough to hold a conversation with your face.

My bra can become part of my outfit
Normally it's quite embarrassing if your top dips a little too low and your bra is on show.  Equally, it can be just as annoying to have pesky bra straps interfering with the look of a backless top or a low cut neckline.  The beauty of a lace bralette is that it can add detail to what you're wearing.  A little bit of lace peeking out of a shirt or jumper, in my opinion, actually looks cute.

I still have plenty of choice
The first bra pictured in the photo at the beginning of this post is from Topshop.  It has a racerback for extra support and a practical front clasp for easy dressing (or undressing).  The white one is from Jack Wills and it comes with adjustable straps and a clasp like your normal bra and the last one is a b.tempt'd bralette.  It's a simple pull on and off over your head without any clasps.  I personally prefer the front clasp option as it's more easily accessible and I struggle with undoing back hooks (...short arms).  Practicalities aside, there's a huge range of colours and styles if you want more than a simple b&w option.

I like how my clothes fall into place
It sounds pretty minor, but with normal bras my clothes don't sit properly.  Sometimes the fabric would pull and stretch where my bra was and I'd end up looking lumpy.  My t shirts would fall straight down from where the bra was making me look boxy and puffy and with loose tops I always had random bits of bra on show.  When it gets hot (although rare here in the UK) and you wear lighter clothing up top, the last thing you want is to wear a bulky bra which makes you even more sweaty and uncomfortable than you already are.  A sweaty cleavage is not cute.

Frankly, if my body is begging for relief from my bra the minute I get home, that is sure as hell not a good sign.  I'm not entirely sure why we choose to wear something that is clearly very uncomfortable and annoyingly expensive (I didn't choose to have boobs thanks) but it seems to be a social norm we fall into as adolescents.  If you're not entirely open with the free the nipple concept but you still want a little relief in the chest (and the purse) area, then opt for wireless and let your breasts breathe.  There has even been debates as to whether wired bras can increase your risk of breast cancer by not allowing the lymph fluid to drain properly...I'm not a scientist or a researcher fully versed on this topic and I'm not here to fuel the debate and your beliefs on the matter are your own.  For me, it makes sense to listen to the signs your body is giving to you.  If it is telling you something is not right and it feels uncomfortable, you should probably listen.  

Friday, 6 February 2015

The Breakfast Jar

I'm obliged to take cliché instagram photos now I'm equipped with an SLR.  I'm sure you've seen the 'hand holding a jar of strange looking mush' picture one too many times on your feeds but at least I'm going to give you a recipe to go with it.  It's very simple and easy to adjust to your own particular tastes, but most importantly, it's a filling nutrient packed breakfast (or lunch...or dessert) that can be enjoyed at the table or on the go.  All it takes is three simple layers...

The Base Layer

The base layer is just a plain chia pudding.  All you will need is;
  • chia seeds
  • your choice of non-dairy milk
The guideline ratio is 3:1 so that's 3 parts liquid to 1 part chia seeds.  To be entirely honest I always do a rough visual measurement because honestly, who can be bothered to get the measuring tools out?  For this I used around 4 tablespoons of chia seeds and 125ml of rice milk.  If you like a thicker consistency use less milk and you can always add more milk after to loosen it up.  Give your mix a quick stir and leave in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.  Ideally, you'll want to do this the night before to be left overnight resulting in a really thick layer.  

The Fruity Middle

So the middle layer is a non-official mango ice cream (woohoo).  Again, very simple to make and easy to adjust.
  • 2 frozen bananas (pre chop into slices before freezing, it's more gentle on the blender)
  • 1/2 a frozen mango (if mango isn't your weapon of choice, instead freeze a handful of strawberries or's entirely up to you)
  • 3 tablespoons of non-dairy milk (I use rice milk)
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon of chosen nut butter, a handful of fresh fruit, a handful of fresh spinach, grated's your ice cream so get creative.  This jar is simply mango and banana so stick to the above if you want to replicate this one.
Blend all your ingredients together, adding a little bit more milk if your blender is struggling to process it.  Start on the lowest setting and make sure you work through the frozen fruit slowly to avoid burning your blades out.  If you have a Vitamix, use the tamper to push it all into the blades and then move it up to the highest setting until you see 4 mounds form.

The Fresh Topping

For my topping I always choose to use the same fruit I used in the ice cream with a little garnish.  Again, it is entirely up to you and whatever your taste buds are craving.  For this exact jar I used;
  • 1/2 a banana, sliced into coins
  • 2 mango slices, chopped into smaller pieces
  • A dusting of cinnamon
  • Optional: more nut butter, raw honey, cayenne pepper, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, crushed pistachios, coconut cream, shredded coconut, date syrup...if it's in your cupboard it will probably work. 
Of course you can keep repeating the layers if you have a particularly large jar to fill.  I think it looks very visually pleasing and would be great to serve up for a movie night or a girls night in.  I don't have enough friends for either of those options so if you're lonely like me (just kidding...kind of) you can always stick to the breakfast option :)

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Little Things 4.2.15

Soooo I may have got a new camera.  I waited in all day to make sure the yodel delivery man would give me my baby (securely and gently...I've seen the videos of yodel playing frisbee with peoples parcels!) and then I fidgeted for a few hours whilst I waited for the battery to charge.  I'd been researching DSLR's for a while, watching countless Canon VS Nikon comparison videos and asking for advice from the old guy at the camera store (thanks buddy),  before taking the plunge and ordering the Nikon D3300.  I thought I'd take a few tester shots of some of the little things I'd been loving this week and talk about them here...that way I get to practice with my new toy as well as make a little post.  Unfortunately by the time the battery had fully charged it was dark outside and so I've had to shoot with indoor lighting, making it hard work to try and avoid my own am I a novice.

At work last weekend the girls at Nails Inc were selling a box load of nail colours at £2 each.  I picked up this colour called 'Colville Mews' because I realised I didn't have any decent nude colours and I loved this one.  You can find the updated gel effect version here.

I picked up this little hamsa hand bracelet from Topshop over the weekend.  I'd been looking for a necklace originally but much preferred the bracelet option.  I bought mine singularly but on the Topshop website they are selling it as part of a pack...unless I bought a pack where the other few bracelets had been stolen and I got suckered into paying for 1 bracelet instead of several.

I also picked up these plain ring stacks from Topshop to see how much I liked the layered look before I chose to buy any with more bits on them.  I have baby fingers so I bought a small but I still find the ones on the top digits tend to slide off if I move too quick.  I cant find these exact ones on their website but they have something similar here.

Repeat after me...rice cakes are NOT boring.  I love the plain dark chocolate versions of these and I love the ones topped with orange pieces equally as much.  When I'm craving something sweet these do the job and they're great to take as a little nibble on long flights.  I bought these from my local health store but I'm pretty sure you can find them anywhere.  Check the rest of the range here.

It's no secret that I'm all aboard the yogi tea train...they could grind up a load of dried turd and make it into a tea and I'd probably drink it.  The one thing I  love most about yogi tea is the little mantras that come with each tea bag.  I can only seem to find yogi teas in health stores or online...I'll be waiting patiently for Waitrose to catch up.

So I finally perfected blowdrying my hair with a round brush after months of practice but I didn't have anything to help keep it in place.  I went into space NK knowing I'd find the answer and the stylist from the brand R+Co happened to be in there giving a demonstration (it was fate, of course). You can grab it from any space NK store or on their website.

So now I have to wait for daylight to practice with my camera...anybody have any tips for a dslr virgin?

Monday, 26 January 2015

January Reflections

What better time to reflect on January than with a glass of beetroot juice? Yeah I know beetroot juice sounds sick but why not surprise yourself in 2015 and give it a go.  Anyway, how is January treating you so far? Have you stuck to your resolutions or are you already over it? I've already found a few things in January I'm currently obsessed with that I feel the need to share.  Fun, new shiny things aside, I've also made a few lifestyle changes that I plan on sticking out as long as I can muster.

A Five Year Plan

The first thing I've had to do is actually reflect (of course I have, it's in the title) on where I've been and where I want to go.  It sounds like I'm about to burst into song or something but I'm being serious.  I'm in my final year at University, everyone is in my ear about graduate jobs and dissertations and full time employment and it's driving me even more psycho than I already am.  However, I've actually sat down and thought about what I want to achieve and where I want to be which has helped take the edge off any 'future me' anxiety.  I sometimes feel still 18 and it's so easy to forget how quickly time goes by and that I'm no longer a carefree semi-permanently drunk teenager.  My main priority? Owning my own property.  Taking the time to plan how much I'm going to need to deposit on the house of my dreams and how quickly I can get on the property market means I won't end up a 30 year old house guest in my dad's home.  Take a few minutes to decide where you'd like to be even in a years time and what you need to do to make that possible, you'd be surprised how it shifts your way of thinking.

Trusting My Gut

Instinct that is.  It's easy to subconsciously tap out of your own body and not even realise it.  Sometimes I can feel something is wrong, whether it be with myself or within a situation, and although I can feel it, I ignore it.  When it comes to having to make decisions, minor or otherwise, feeling 100% about it is what should take priority.  I recently had an incident where I fainted (for the first time ever) in the uni library (it was as embarrassing as it sounds) and I felt out of myself for a few days after.  That morning I had said to Tom I had felt off and I had debated missing uni to 're-center' myself but I didn't listen.  Although a minor example, it's so important to remember that you know what is best for yourself, whether it's to do with your health, your career or an important personal decision.  Listen, observe and connect.  This year I plan on being entirely selfish when it comes to myself.

The 3, 2, 2 Week

I've managed to find an eating schedule that works well for me so far and I plan to try and make it as permanent as possible.  I like to eat, I really do, but I'm an easily influenced eater. Basically, if it's in front of me or a viable option I will eat it without thinking and without stopping.  Afterwards I usually feel horrible and unwell and I don't look forward to eating my next meal.  When you eat mindlessly I think you lose the joy of eating all together and it is no longer exciting but more monotonous.  I've started to mix up my week with the following - 3 days a week I will eat as though I am a vegetarian, 2 days I will eat as though I am vegan and the other 2 days I allow myself anything I feel like.  I've found that on the days I allow myself to eat whatever I like, I am savouring the meals and not over indulging.  Equally, I've found I'm fully satisfied going without any meat or dairy on the days I don't have it.  Contrary to popular belief, eating vegan or vegetarian doesn't leave you undernourished and emaciated and staring at the fridge longingly.  In turn, I listen more to what my body is craving rather than stuffing my face with anything just to fill the void.    

Yoga With Adriene

I am hands down obsessed with this damn woman.  As part of my commitment to myself to become more mindful and to regularly practice yoga I have been trying to do at least 1 (if not 2) or her videos a day.  Luckily this January she has started a new series called '30 days of yoga' which has made regular practice extremely easy.  Her videos are so great because she is so easy to listen to and she is so fun and best of all the series is free.  Now that daily yoga has become a habit I feel pretty lost and restless if I miss a practice.  If you are new to the practice or finding it difficult to commit to a daily practice I cannot recommend her enough.  You can find her videos here if you want to give it a go.

Busaba Eathai

Tom and I were kicking ourselves knowing we'd walked past this place so many times and never bothered to go in.  It really is golden.  We first tried it before going to see The Curious Incident in the West End and we've been back several times since.  I find it pretty hard to find good thai food, or really any good asian food for that matter as I've grown up surrounded by flavourful and pungent dishes packed with spice and all the rest.  I've always found that a lot of places lack flavour because they're catering for an english audience which means I end up paying for a bland meal.  Busaba does not skimp on flavour or spice and the menu selection is fantastic.  It's very easy to eat nutritionally here whether you choose a warming coconut and lemongrass soup or a veggie dense stir fry.  When I eat, I like to consider how the ingredients I'm digesting serve my body which I admit is pretty gross and borderline obsessive but it means I usually end up really enjoying my food.  My favourite thing about Busaba is the atmosphere.  It's littered with golden buddhas, burning incense and huge wooden tables giving it a very zen spa-like feel.  Even better, throughout January Busaba are offering 50% off all food so you can give it a go and decide whether it's worth going back.  You can find the menu here if you're interested.

Flash Tattoos

I bought a cheap pack of these off ebay to see how they'd look in preparation for summer but I loved them so much I kept buying and sticking and shimmering.  These little darlings are basically transfer tattoos that every child with a kinder egg has tried at some point in their lives.  However, these ones come in silvers and golds and look amazing on bronzed skin.  I think Beyonce kicked this trend off (of course) and everyone else has hopped on board.  This time round I bought the proper branded ones from UniqueFreak and not some random 99p ones in the hope that they would last much longer.  You can find cheapy ones here and a large pack of 4 from uniquefreak here.

So that's it from me for there anything you've discovered this year that you're loving?

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Spicy Strawberry & Cayenne Morning Smoothie

So I'm always trying out different combinations in my blender.  Mostly it works, sometimes the result is pretty shocking and occasionally  I find something I'll make repeatedly and drink until I get sick of it.  This particular concoction has been a regular over the last few days so I thought it was time to share it.  The one thing I struggle with is super cold drinks.  I'm not great with ice cream, I like to drink green tea with my meals and my water has to be room temperature.  Ever heard of the phrase 'digestive fire'?  The term actually comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine and I think it nicely explains why I don't favour drinking cold drinks.  Your stomach is like the cauldron of the body and your spleen is the 'fire' that heats the cauldron.  This internal heat is responsible for the movement and digestion of the foods you eat and without good digestion, your overall health is compromised. 

 Have you ever downed an ice cold drink after eating a meal and felt extremely uncomfortable...stomach cramps, excessive bloating, feeling like the only option is to curl up into a ball and cry? The way I think about it is that you're solidifying the food in your stomach and freezing up its 'fire' which often results in those weird sharp stomach pains and uncomfortable indigestion.  By drinking a herbal tea with or after your meals you're helping to stimulate digestion and ease up the processes happening in your body resulting in no post meal bloat or suffering.  Now I know it's not viable to always be drinking hot teas and water so I thought of a way to make drinking my morning juices and smoothies a little easier on the stomach.  By adding a little spice in the form of cayenne pepper, (great for boosting the metabolism btw) it's warming and stimulating properties make the effects of an otherwise cooling drink a little less damaging.  Health bits aside, this actually tastes amazing so even if you've skipped the whole lecture on hot and cold drinks you can be sure you'll be happy with the way the final product tastes.

You will need;
  • 4 tbsp of natural yoghurt
  • 1 banana
  • 1 satsuma
  • 1 small deseeded and chopped apple (red or green, you pick)
  • 5 fresh strawberries
  • a big handful of spinach
  • 5 frozen strawberries
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds (optional)
  • A generous helping of cayenne pepper (to your taste)
  • A squeeze of raw honey
Put all the items in your blender in the order listed - always put your softer ingredients in first to avoid any excess strain on your blades.  Start on low and work your way up to your highest setting and let it run for 30-60 seconds (depending on how powerful your blender is).  It'll probably look a little something like this...

Sorry if you were expecting a vibrant strawberry red smoothie but anytime you add spinach into the mix it just overpowers any of the weaker colours...but I guess this technically counts as a green smoothie right? Colour palette aside, it still tastes very sweet (with the dominant flavour being strawberry, duh.) followed by a little kick from the cayenne.  Perfect for those new years resolutions I'm assuming you've stuck with.