Deskfest Day 4 – Pancakes!

Food and Drink, LifeStyle

Deskfest Day 4 – Pancakes!

No Comments 22 January 2013

Ok, so this is less of a portable desk based brekkie than a luxe weekend treat, but me and my boyfriend have a week off together and I felt like making us something decadent. These totally fit the bill. They are super easy to make, and vegan too, although you’d never know…

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If the background looks unfamiliar then its because I’m staying at Mr MW’s for the week… Always good! And the bonus is, I do the pancakes, but don’t have to do the washing up. Win-win all round!

So, as you can see from the picture, these did get a wee bit burnt, but they tasted amazing none the less. These are definitely a treat, simply due to the fact that they are fried in oil, so not ideal for everyday, but if you fancy trying something other than a full english, then these are lovely.

I must give full credit for the pancake recipe to my friend Emily, who blogs over at Sparkle and Shade, and I’ve just adapted it a wee bit… You can see her original recipe HERE. I must also credit her for bringing Mr MW into my life – she introduced us on twitter, and the rest is history…

Basic Vegan Pancake Recipe.

Serves 2 generously. This recipe makes small fluffy american style pancakes rather than crepe style pancakes… (You will need a non-stick frying pan and a fish slice too)

1 cup self raising flour (You can use gluten free flour, although you may find you need to add a bit more liquid to the batter)

2 Teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons caster sugar

Pinch Salt

1 Cup plant milk (you can use soya, but today I used unsweetened almond milk)

Optional add ins – tablespoon of peanut butter, dried fruit, frozen fruit, chocolate chips…

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt, stir through to mix with a fork. Add the plant milk, and combine with a fork. This will make a fairly thick batter. At this point add in anything else you want such as fruit or berries – I added in a dollop of peanut butter today.

Heat a couple of spoonfuls of oil in the frying pan.

Once the oil is hot add the batter – I usually make three pancakes at a time, and use about 2 desertspoonfulls of batter per cake.

Once it’s in the pan, let it be for 1-2 minutes, then flip. Once cooked, place onto kitchen paper to let any excess fat be absorbed off,

Stack them up, or arrange them however you feel like, I served them with fruit (blueberries and sliced banana), and a dollop of soya yogurt.

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Don’t forget if you tweet a picture of your brekkie, using the hashtag “deskfest” at @Alpro_UK, you could be in with a chance of going to New York.

Disclaimer – Alpro contacted me to take part in this, they did send me a lot of Alpro, which is a bonus, but I picked some up as I’m staying at my boyfriends, and didn’t want to cart milk all over the country. 

Deskfest Day 3 – Porridge with Frozen Berries.

Food and Drink, LifeStyle

Deskfest Day 3 – Porridge with Frozen Berries.

No Comments 17 January 2013

The winter chill has really set in so I fancied something filling and comforting this morning. As I’ve mentioned before, porridge is one of my favourite breakfasts, so I whizzed some up in the microwave, and chucked in some frozen berries  to add a healthy dose of vitamins…

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I used half a cup of oats and a cup of Alpro unsweetened almond milk  for the porridge, which I blasted on high in the microwave for a minute at a time – it took about three minutes all together, but if you are making porridge in the microwave you really do have to watch it like a hawk so it doesn’t boil over – I’d recommend using a really large micro-safe container, otherwise I find my porridge boils up but won’t get to quite the right consistency (I like my porridge thick and stodgy feeling).

Once my porridge was just right (a la Goldilocks), I added a generous helping of frozen berries.  For blog post purposes I made this look pretty in a nice bowl…

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…however for “deskfesting” purposes I needed to make this portable so I transferred it into an airtight container and took it to work with me. This was a nice breakfast – the hot porridge instantly thaws out the berries, and in turn the berries cool down the porridge. Now personally I didn’t mind this at room temperature, because I am one of those people who like cold rice pudding, and cold custard – if the thought of that makes you squirm, then you might want to add the berries to the microwave and heat them up with the porridge.

This definitely kept me full til lunch, and is one I’ll probably have again, as it’s really easy, convenient and healthy.

 

Alpro almond milk comes in sweetened and unsweetened varieties – I used unsweetened which is really low in calorie – 26 cals per 200mls, and I am trying to reduce the amount of sweeteners and sugars I consume… If you’ve never tried almond milk before, then it is a really fresh tasting alternative – to me this is slightly less thick and creamy than soya milk and has a really mild nutty taste. It works well in tea and coffee, although you do have to add a fair bit if you want a “milky” drink.

If you’ve been making your own “deskfests” then tweet a picture using the twitter handle @Alpro_UK, and the hashtag #deskfest to be in with a chance to win a trip to New York! (More details HERE). 

 

Disclaimer – I was provided with the Alpro products shown in the post for the purposes of blogging and promoting the Deskfest challenge.

DESKFEST Day 1 – Granola, fruit and yogurt.

Food and Drink, LifeStyle

DESKFEST Day 1 – Granola, fruit and yogurt.

No Comments 14 January 2013

Day one of Deskfest today, and I really enjoyed this one – crunchy granola with blueberries and strawberries, and lovely creamy yogurt.

And before everyone makes a noise about granola being bad for you and full of rubbish – I made it myself last night – it was well worth the effort, and I’ll definitely make it again.

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To make the granola, I had a look at a few recipes online and basically adapted my own version.

 

Ingredients;

1 over-ripe/soft banana

Fresh apple juice, not from concentrate – I used Innocent apple juice. (This reduced the amount of refined sugar needed, and although the finished granola is not as sweet as shop-bought versions, it is healthier)

2 cups of porridge oats – use jumbo or regular oats depending on your preferences.

Tablespoon of oil – I used hemp but any vegetable based oil would be good.

Tablespoon of agave nectar – you could use honey, maple syrup or golden syrup etc, or leave this out and add extra apple juice if you want to be extra virtuous.

Handful of seeds – I used sunflower seeds, but you could use whatever you prefer.

Handful of nuts – again this is totally optional, I used cashew nuts and crushed them a little bit.

 

To make ;

Set the oven to a medium heat – around gas mark 5/6 AKA 190-200C. Slit the skin of the banana and place on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 20-30 minutes. In this time the skin will turn black, and the banana will soften a lot. Remove from the oven and let it cool down before scooping the flesh into a mixing bowl, and mash with a fork. To the banana add the oil and the agave syrup/honey if using

Add the porridge oats and fork into the wet ingredients.

Add enough apple juice to moisten the oats enough to create a thick paste – the amount of juice you need will vary but basically you want a rubble like texture – too dry and you wont get nice crunchy nuggets because the mixture wont hold together, but too wet and you’ll basically end up with a flapjack like mixture – obviously just add a few extra oats or an extra splash of juice til you are happy with the texture. Add in the seeds and nuts at this point.

(If you want to add dried fruit to the granola then wait until it’s out of the oven and cooled, because dried fruit will burn in the oven.)

Spread the mixture onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, and place in the oven. Check the mixture every ten minutes and turn to ensure that it’s evenly cooked – my mixture took around 30 minutes. Just keep an eye on it so it’s not too burned – if it doesn’t brown enough it will be chewy, too far and it will be burnt – golden is the colour we are looking for.

When you’re happy with the colour, remove, allow to cool completely (add dried fruit of using), and then store in an airtight container. Try to resist scoffing the lot in one go…

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Excuse the slightly blurred picture – my eyes were still in night vision mode this morning I think!

So, to assemble my breakfast this morning, I put a handful of blueberries in the bottom of my container, followed by a slosh of Alpro Pouring yogurt in vanilla flavour, then a handful of granola, then a layer of sliced strawberries, more yogurt, a layer of granola and a few more blueberries for good measure.

This was a really really lovely breakfast – I love crunchy granola’s, and I’ll definitely make my own again, because I think this is a really much healthier way to have it, and you can adjust the ingredients to suit your tastes totally. This definitely kept me full until dinner time, and I really enjoyed it – the granola was lovely and crunchy, the fruit added nice little pops of juiciness and the pouring yogurt was lovely and creamy without being too cloying or strong.

I’ll definitely be having this again!

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What did you have for breakfast today?

Disclaimer – this post forms part of a series for a challenge with Alpro. The pouring yogurt used in this post was sent to me for the purposes of completing the challenge. 

Alpro DESKFEST

Food and Drink, LifeStyle

Alpro DESKFEST

10 Comments 13 January 2013

Those of you who follow me on twitter (@mizzworthy) and chat with me regularly on there might know I work as a nurse, which means I work shifts. Over the last year or so I have noticed that I’ve been really susceptible to getting every cough and cold doing the rounds. I put this down to stress, which lowers immunity, as well as simply not eating a healthy diet because I struggle to get up in the morning (obviously low energy levels are also probably due to  not eating properly!) in time to prepare healthy breakfasts/lunches as well as getting to work on time. Not eating in the morning means I frequently don’t eat until four or five pm, by which time I am ravenous, and grab whatever food I can find, usually something from a packet. Forget five portions of fruit/veg a day, I was lucky to eat three or four a week. Not good!

The final straw came this Christmas – I had a nasty bought of tonsillitis as well as a chest infection. That meant I was off work for ten days, as well as having to take not one but two courses of antibiotics.

That was basically the final straw. I realised that I had become one of those people who eats too many calories, in the form of convenience foods, but had very little intake that had any actual nutritional value. I was overweight but probably undernourished.

I’m not one for New Year Resolutions – I find that often people “ban” themselves from doing something they love, which is absolutely destined to failure (Wot, no chocolate cake ever again!?). I decided to make a positive change by adding to my life rather than taking away. I made myself a promise that I’d start to look after myself better by fuelling by body with healthier foods, rather than just grabbing whatever I could muster up the energy to throw in the microwave/oven… I also have to say that after about ten years of my weight being up and down like a bride’s nightie, that I don’t believe diets really work in the long term – I’ve lost weight, but I always put it back on. Again this goes back to the mentality involved in diets – banning yourself from “bad” food (and again, I have a problem with the grouping of food into “good” and “bad”), just makes you want it more, and makes you resent every time you have to forego it. The times I’ve felt best in my life are the times I’ve actually listened to my body, and provided it with the nutrients it needs first and foremost, and not banning myself from anything. I usually find that my desire for more fatty and sugary foods wanes over time anyway. My weight is also tied in with my mood – I actually do experience bouts of clinical depression and the poor self esteem that accompanies those bouts tends to be accompanied by comfort eating…

So I’d already made up my mind to add more to my life in the form of more fruit and veg in my diet (for a vegetarian it’s amazing how unhealthily I ate), so I was both surprised and pleased to be approached by Alpro to participate in their “DESKFEST” challenge this January. They have set me the challenge of creating five healthy breakfasts which can be eaten “on the go” or at work (hence the Deskfest bit!). They have also kindly provided me with various dairy-free plant-based milk and yogurt alternatives to do this. As I’ve mentioned, I am a vegetarian because I dislike animal cruelty and I do like to also avoid dairy and eggs as well for this reason – I already use almond milk regularly, so I’ll enjoy trying the other varieties such as hazelnut and their pouring yogurts. They also sent me a food blender so I expect smoothies will play a bit of a role for me – I can easily shove a few bits of fruit and a bit of yogurt in the blender and whip up a quick smoothie to drink at work…

alpro

I’m looking on this as both a bit of a personal challenge, as well as a way to get my own promise to treat myself better, off to a great start – I’ll share any recipes for the things I make, as well as my thoughts on how much I enjoy the “deskfest”, and whether I feel better at the end of it…

Now, the bits and bobs for this challenge arrived on Friday, and I don’t “officially” start the challenge until tomorrow, but there was no way I could resist having a go at a few smoothies this weekend… I hit up the supermarket and got a load of fresh and frozen fruit as well as lots of cheap bananas which I chopped up and froze, as frozen bananas turn a smoothie into a delicious creamy but still healthy concoction, full of nutrition.

My first smoothie attempt was a blueberry, strawberry and banana blend…  utmost patience was required to wait for the banana’s to freeze overnight!

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I simply placed a handful of blueberries, and chopped around half a punnet of strawberries (they are both pricey at this time of year, but I couldn’t resist…), as well as a frozen banana and good slosh of Alpro soya milk (scientific measures or what!). I used the blender to “pulse” and break up the frozen banana’s a little before blending it properly so it didn’t jam the blades…

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The result was a rather lurid purple smoothie…

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The smoothie was actually really nice and felt like a reasonably substantial breakfast because it was so thick and creamy tasting. The berries didn’t actually add as much flavour as I hoped, but I think this is probably due to the time of year and the fact that they are out of season. Yummy nonetheless though, and it definitely made me want to try to make more smoothies. I’ll be experimenting with adding oats etc to them too to make them even more filling and keep me going until I either finish work or have lunch…

I’m also planning to try a few smoothies involving frozen spinach, and even avocado, as I have heard that they are both a great way to get more and more nutrients packed in – I’m not sure how tasty they will be but I’m up for trying anything. I’ll be tweeting pictures of my deskfests so if you want to you’ll be able to see my creations on twitter too…

Have you got any awesome smoothie recipes or portable breakfasts you swear by? I need all the ideas I can get!  Wish me luck!

Disclaimer – The Alpro products and blender were provided to enable me to take part in this promotion. 

Diptyque Roses

LifeStyle

Diptyque Roses

2 Comments 18 December 2012

My lovely boyfriend bought this for me for Valentine’s day, and I’ve been saving it to use ever since. Hopes were high for this as a lot of people really seem to rave about Diptyque being the best candles out there – they certainly have a price tag which demands good results at £38 for a 190g candle…

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To be honest though, I do actually feel a little bit mixed about this candle. On the plus side it has a good burn time of around 60 hours (about 60p per hour burning…). I also thing that scent wise this is a really great candle – it smells of real rose, not a hint of synthetic scent at all, which for me, is really the only way rose products should be. It also looks the part – the Diptyque packaging in simple but chic.

However, there are definitely a few negatives with it too. The packaging claims that as long as the wick is trimmed short prior to each burn, the candle will burn evenly and cleanly. Sadly in my case neither of these claims proved true. Before burning my candle I have been religious about trimming down the wick, however after a week or so of use, I was sad to see a nasty patch of soot developing on the rim of the glass.

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I’ve also been disappointed to find that the candle has really not burned down evenly. I know this is a little odd, but this is totally a pet hate of mine. I always end up waiting for it to cool down and then prodding the uneven bits down in a bid to make it look “right” again – am I the only one who does this? I always find though that this doesn’t really help, just makes an expensive candle look cheap.

Apparently the reasons for the uneven burn and the soot are one and the same – the wax in the candle is paraffin based, rather than the more eco friendly and evenly burning soy wax.

Frankly I do feel a little bit disappointed with this candle – especially when brands like NEOM are producing such high quality soy based candles for  around the same price. I think I had super-high expectations (which are probably justified given how much they cost), which the candle failed to live up to. If you are looking for a well scented candle and things like soot don’t really bother you, then these might be right up your street, because, as I say, fragrance wise these don’t disappoint. For me though this candle failed to live up to my expectations.

Disclaimer – This was a gift.

Neom Organics Happiness Reed Diffuser

Fragrance, LifeStyle

Neom Organics Happiness Reed Diffuser

No Comments 28 November 2012

For me, Neom are one of those lovely luxury brands, which rarely let me down. Their reputation is largely due to their fantastic candles which are amazing – they burn long, they burn cleanly, and they burn down really evenly, without exuding soot all over the place. Everything I want in a luxe candle, and their scents are delicious too. I’m hoping a certain bloke in a red suit with white trim brings me one for Christmas this year actually! They are as I mentioned a luxe brand, but that makes them a great gift to bear in mind for this time of year – perfect for a best friend, sister or mum.

As I mentioned I’m a massive fan of Neom’s candles, and I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that they also do reed diffusers. I was very lucky to be sent one to try – I’ve had it out in my bedroom for over a month now,and there is still plenty of the oil left, so I’d anticipate one of these lasting 2-3 months, which makes the £35 price tag a little easier to bear…

The reed diffusers are available in six different fragrances – Happines, Sensuous, Inspiration, Complete Bliss, Real Luxury and Refresh – there is also a special LE Christmas Wish scent (£37), as well as refills for the diffusers which are £18 each.

I was sent the Happiness fragrance, which is White Neroli, Mimosa and Lemon – it’s a lovely fresh scent and really uplifting, definitely the sort of thing I would choose as I like cirtussy and floral scents – this is a lot more floral than I expected, but that’s no bad thing.

The scent diffuses well, and my boyfriend even commented on how nice it smelled. The life of the diffuser can be extended by using fewer of the reeds, and the scent can also be made stronger by turning the reeds regularly. This would look really pretty on a fire hearth or mantelpiece, but unfortunately as I have two very investigative cats, I have to keep it out of reach of curious paws in my bedroom.

Another thing I love about NEOM is their organic, nasty free and cruelty free credentials…

I’m definitely planning to pick up a refill for this, but I would also like to try a few different scents as well – I especially like the sound of the Refresh and Sensuous scents… I’m also kinda tempted by the Christmas Wish scent, as although I often find festively themed scents a bit cloying, I trust Neom enough to do Christmas tastefully…

You can buy Neom direct from their site HERE, as well as Look Fantastic and John Lewis.

Disclaimer – PR Sample.

 

Sorrrreeeee!

LifeStyle

Sorrrreeeee!

1 Comment 23 May 2012

Hello everyone,

How are we all? Well I hope?

I just wanted to do a quick update for you all explaining where I have been for the last three weeks and why there have been  zero blog posts – Oh, and if you have emailed me about anything, why I appear to have been very very rude and not replied…

Basically three weeks ago, after yet another “amazing” shift at work, I was driving home on the M57, and all of a sudden, a large plume of smoke came out of the exhaust of my car (formerly known as “The Duchess”, now just referred to as “the pain in the ass”). Immediately after this, the car basically slowed right down (thankfully I was in the inside lane), and lost power. Cue me waiting on the embankment near the hard shoulder while various dickheads  witty young people drove past honked their horns at me (Yeah, look at me! I still have a working car!). That was fun.

Car was towed to my local garage, and a week later the mechanics told me that there was something wrong with the power steering pump.

Except that wasn’t the problem. There was actually something wrong with the radiator.

Anyway, during the time which passed whilst the mechanics stood around scratching their heads, and not really knowing what to do, I had to stay at my parents.

And I didn’t have a lot of internet access. Hence the lack of posts and email replies.

So basically this post is just to apologise – I hate not replying, or posting about things when I want to post. This came at such a frustrating time, because as you all know I was just getting back into blogging, and starting to love it…

But anyway. My car problem has now been sorted – My parents were planning to buy a new car, and have now managed to do so, and I’m getting their old one. This means I can finally stop paying for blinking car repairs on the rustheap-formerly-known-as-the-duchess every few weeks (seriously – since xmas I’ve coughed up for a new engine, and new spark leads, as well as various other fiddling little bits of rubbish) *deep breath*

So, I shall be back at home (I’m currently in London celebrating my boyfriend’s birthday) on Saturday, and I am hoping to get lots of lovely posts done, including a review of the new Urban Decay “design your own” palette, and few lovely book reviews…

Au Revoir til then my little Cherries!

xxxx

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String…

Books/Films, LifeStyle, Makeup

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String…

5 Comments 21 February 2012

These are a few of my favourite things… (at the moment anyway!)

Reading and my Kindle. I bought this as a little pick me up and treat for myself just before Christmas – I’d wanted one for ages, but told myself that I didn’t need it/it was a waste of money/there’s nothing quite as great as a “real” book, but really I knew I was just kidding myself. I impulse purchased a new style Kindle and I loves it!

Its great for travel (better still if you can get yourself one of those lights to attach to the device as it isn’t backlit…), and in general the books tend to be a little bit cheaper than the paper versions. The only thing I wouldn’t really recommend using a Kindle for really is reference books, recipe books and the like, because you need to be able to flick through those types of books, which is difficult on a Kindle.

And is it just as good as a “real” book? Well, yes, and no… Yes, because it’s not as heavy, and you can basically carry the equivalent of three bookshelves or more about with you without any backstrain… but, there is definitely something to be said about picking up a lovely copy of your favourite book and you can’t beat the whole charity shop second hand book vibe either. Personally I’m loving mine, and I’d highly recommend if you like to read a lot, want to reclaim some bookshelves or travel a lot. (Disclaimer – I did buy two books in a charity shop today and I’m thoroughly looking forward to reading them).

Oh, and impulse buyers might want to think twice before buying one too – they make fast purchases far too easy if you have poor self restraint!

NARS blushers (and eye shadows, and lipsticks…), specifically cactus flower, which is the most delicious raspberry pink-red cream blush with a subtle shimmer. I’ve been ill recently with a typical winter bug, which drained the life out of my complexion, and with a runny nose and watering eyes. I had a word with the wisdom of twitter and was told in no uncertain terms that bright blusher was the way forward. Oh twitter, you are wise!

Forgive the terrible blurred picture - this is the only one of the millions I took that in any way shows the colour properly...

To the makeup drawers I hastened and rediscovered this beauty, which had lain unloved for far far far too long. I now cannot get enough of this lovely colour, which can be applied subtly or built up for drama.

Basically, even if all I can be bothered is to slap on a bit of foundation, mascara and lipbalm, this blush brings me to life, and stops me looking like an extra from The Walking Dead… The swatch above shows the real dimension and sheen in this blusher – I love it!

And speaking of TV programmes, yay for the return of Being Human on BBC3 (Boo for the departure of so many core characters though) and also for season 4 of True Blood

Oh, and a special mention this month goes to a gem of a magazine called “Oh Comely” – Strange name, fab mag. I discovered this through Alex’s Blog – If you aren’t already following her then I highly recommend it!

Anyway, this magazine is published six times per year I believe, and is available in WHSmiths. It costs £4 but I’d personally much rather buy one of these than something like Elle, which just seem to be made up half of ads, and half of “how to make your man happy” articles (Clue – If it’s so difficult to “make him happy” then , maybe you just aren’t right for each other… also, er, hi, relationships are a two way thing!)

Love the fact that the cover girl is refreshingly “normal” and non-photoshopped looking, and also love the different content…

What can’t you get enough of right now?

Hello!

LifeStyle

Hello!

6 Comments 17 February 2012

I’ve been AWOL for quite a while now, as you may or may not have noticed (a week is a long time in blogging and I’ve been away for months…).

So where have I been? Well, to be honest I just needed a break. Blogging didn’t feel like much fun for a while back there – I started to feel like I was blogging for other people and not for myself, and it was getting to the point where even thinking about blogging gave me an enormous sense of dread.

So, I took a break, and I started to miss having a little ramble after a while, so here I am, giving it another go.

I’ll never be the greatest blogger in the world in terms of numbers of posts or amazing photo’s, but I never blogged to get lots of followers or thousands of hits anyway. I started the blog because I enjoyed it, and that’s why I want to carry on.

So here’s to a fresh start?

Oh, and the cats say hello too…

… As you can see, they have been as active as always….

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