Foodie Friday: Peanut Butter, Oat & Banana Breakfast Muffins (Refined Sugar-Free / Dairy-Free /Vegetarian recipe)

Friday, 24 May 2019

Peanut Butter, Oat & Banana Breakfast Muffins (Vegetarian recipe)
Looking to save money, cut down on refined sugar and go plastic-free with your breakfast choices? Bypass that chain coffee shop in the morning - these moreish Peanut Butter, Oat & Banana Breakfast Muffins are a much healthier grab and go option, and they're super easy to make from scratch!

If I know I'm going to have a particularly busy week, I'll always try and whip up a batch of Breakfast Muffins on the Sunday night beforehand as part of my meal prep routine. Easy to make and easy to store in an airtight tin on your kitchen counter, these delicious muffins are surprisingly filling and they help to satisfy my sweet tooth without being too rich or sickly. They're also refined sugar-free so they won't cause any unpleasant sugar crashes later on and they have a good mix of healthy fats, protein and fibre to keep you going until lunchtime.

The recipe below makes six muffins, but you can simply double the ingredients if you want a bigger batch of twelve.

Peanut Butter, Oat & Banana Breakfast Muffins (Vegetarian recipe)
Ingredients (makes 6 muffins)
  • 100ml dairy-free Milk of your choice (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 150g sugar-free Peanut Butter (I used Meridian)
  • 50g jumbo Oats 
  • 35g Spelt or Wholemeal Flour
  • 1 large ripe Banana
  • 1 medium-sized, free-range organic Egg
  • 3-4 Medjool Dates
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4 and line a muffin tin with six muffin cases.
  • Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and blend together until you have a relatively smooth texture.
  • Carefully spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and sprinkle over some additional Oats on the top if desired.
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. The tops of the muffins should be a light golden brown and you can check that they're done by inserting a skewer into the middle of one - it should come out clean.
  • Allow to cool and enjoy!


Storage tip: Keep these Breakfast Muffins in an airtight container on your kitchen counter for up to 3 days or you can freeze them individually where they'll keep for up to a month.


Peanut Butter, Oat & Banana Breakfast Muffins (Vegetarian recipe)
Do you like muffins for breakfast?

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Spring Beauty: 5 Green Beauty Products To Try This Month

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Spring Beauty: 5 Green Beauty Products To Try This Month
Need a Spring Beauty pick me up? Here are some of my current favourites from the green beauty world to freshen up your daily routine.

 Bright Nails & A Greener Nail Polish Remover

Spring and Summer are my favourite seasons of the year, and I love embracing all of the brighter colours for my nails. There are so many new collections that have launched from countless nail polish brands recently, but one particular shade that has caught my eye is Glossworks in Last Mango In Paris* (9ml, £12, link). Exclusive to LoveLula, Glossworks is a cruelty-free and vegan-friendly range of nail polishes which all have a glossy, gel-like finish. Everything has a 9-free formula so they are free from the main 'nasties' such as Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Toluene, DBP, Camphor, Paraben, Xylene, Ethyl Tosylamide and Lead. I absolutely love this bright orange shade that really 'pops' against a tan and it looks great on toes too.

I'm often asked about more 'natural' nail polish removers and one of the best that I've tried is Benecos Natural Nail Polish Remover* (125ml, £5.95, link) which is acetone-free and features BDIH certified essential oils for a more citrusy fragrance. It removes nail polish just as well as mainstream brands and being acetone-free, it doesn't dry out or weaken your nails.

CHOBS Organic Moringa Total Cream
 Treat Yourself To A Luxury And Organic Face Cream For Sensitive & Mature Skin

If you're a die-hard fan of K-Beauty but don't want to compromise your organic and ethical standards, CHOBS is a fantastic brand to look out for. Based in South Korea, CHOBS stands for Charm & Health Organic Beauty Store, and as the name suggests, its specialism is in natural and organic skincare with everything being Ecocert certified, vegan and cruelty-free. I highly recommend their Sheet Masks for a quick pampering treat, though for something that's going to benefit your skin more in the long run, their moisturisers are a must-try. 

I've been enjoying using CHOBS Organic Moringa Total Cream* (£49, 50ml, link) over the past couple of weeks, as it's packed full of beneficial organic ingredients such as Moringa Leaf extract, Centella Asiatica Leaf Water and Sunflower Seed Oil. This Total Cream has a beautifully rich, yet easily absorbed texture which feels ultra-hydrating on the skin, and it works incredibly well underneath makeup to create a smooth base, so I've been using it as my main morning moisturiser. It leaves my skin feeling soft, nourished and plumped up - I'd recommend it for sensitive and mature skin types as it's brilliant for smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles.

Try A New Green Beauty Brand

AYAN are a new green beauty brand that I've recently been introduced to, and I've been impressed by their simple natural formulas that effortlessly fit into my daily routine, as well as their affordable prices. Their commitment to high-performance natural skincare ensures that all of their products are made without any fillers, thickeners, harmful preservatives, genetically-modified and animal-derived ingredients, synthetic chemicals and fragrances or colourants, and they use locally sourced ingredients where possible.

Being based in Bulgaria, AYAN uses two of the country's most popular and well-loved natural offerings; Lavender and Rose Oil. Their Multi-Lavender Butter* (100ml, £14.99, link) is a deliciously thick and luxurious multi-purpose moisturiser with a glorious whipped butter texture and a divine natural Lavender scent. Made from a blend of Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Macadamia Oil, Beeswax and Vitamin E, this moisturiser is further infused with pure Organic Lavender Oil sourced from AYAN's very own Lavender fields for a super-hydrating and soothing skincare treat. Apply it to dry hands and feet, or slather it all over your body after a bath or shower for baby-soft skin.

Rose fans will adore AYAN Rosa Damascena Organic Bulgarian Rose Water* (200ml, £11.99, link); a 100% pure and organic product that's made from simply steaming and carefully distilling Rose Essential Oil with nothing else added. Not only is it amazing for soothing and calming irritated and dry skin as a toner in your skincare routine, but you can also apply it to your scalp to help regulate sebum and promote healthy hair growth - how awesome is that?!

All products featured are available from LoveLula.com

Have you tried any of these?

Home Fragrance: Africology Natural Scented Candle review

Monday, 20 May 2019

Africology Natural Scented Candle review
There is something about candles that captivates me right from the decadent glass packaging to the unique fragrances, and I've been something of a luxury candle addict for a long time now. I was recently introduced to a new-to-me brand called Africology who have a glorious range of luxurious natural scented candles.

Africology is a high-end spa brand based in Johannesburg, South Africa. They have an interesting origins story which is based upon the founder's (Renchia Droganis) multi-layered professional work as a massage therapist, reiki counsellor, life coach and aromatherapist. It's through this work that she came to truly understand how beneficial aromatherapy can become to someone's life, especially when they are trying to overcome deep-rooted problems or past traumas. Renchia was keen to develop products that were both kind and holistic to the Earth, so Africology was ultimately born.

With a wide selection of products available, this is a spa-brand that will instantly appeal to anyone who enjoys self-care/pampering and natural, luxurious fragrances. Everything is eco-friendly, cruelty-free, contains organic ingredients and is made by hand. When a package arrived with one of their bestselling signature candles, I couldn't wait to open it up!

Africology Natural Scented Candle review
Housed in frosted black glass, this candle exudes a luxurious feeling wherever it is placed in your home and its simplistic black packaging will happily go together with virtually any theme or decor. Made from high-quality soybean wax for a cleaner burn with none of the toxins that arise from petroleum based candles, Africology's candles feature a beautiful blend of essential oils and you'll easily find one (or two, or three...) to suit the ambience that you are looking to create.

The Body Mind Therapy Candle*(£38) has delicate notes of Marula, African Potato, Rooibos and Aloe Vera for a soothing, relaxing and inviting scent that fills the whole room in a matter of minutes. It's such a beautiful, clean, spa-like and sophisticated fragrance that it's easy to see why Africology are fast-becoming one of the leading brands in South Africa when it comes to luxury natural beauty and spa products, and it's great to see them in the UK so that even more people can enjoy what they have to offer.

Discover the full range at uk.africologyspa.com

Have you heard of Africology?

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Health & Lifestyle: Weleda Birch Spring Cleanse 30 Day Challenge #TriedandTested

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Weleda Birch Spring Cleanse 30 Day Challenge
Regular readers will know that I've been a big fan of Weleda for a very long time, so when they asked me if I'd be interested in taking part in their Birch Spring Cleanse 30 Day Challenge, I had to say yes of course!

Weleda is one of those truly amazing natural/green beauty brands that always go above and beyond with their products and eco-friendly ethics. The brand has been at the forefront of sustainable and clean beauty since 1921 and still manages to perfectly balance innovation with traditional, organic and biodynamic farming methods to source their natural ingredients. There aren't many brands that I can think of that I have admired for such a long time and you'll find my countless reviews and features on their products here.

This year, Weleda launched their Birch Spring Cleanse 30 Day Challenge to help customers gently ease themselves into the new Spring season and get ready for the warmer, sunnier months ahead. I really liked this concept because I'm interested in Ayurveda which has many similar holistic approaches on allowing the mind and body to adapt to the natural changes in our environment, all in keeping with the transition of the seasons.

The Birch Spring Cleanse is based around products that feature ingredients from Silver Birch, a tree that grows throughout much of the Czech Republic (Weleda works with a small family business in South Bohemia who grows their certified Birch). Birch is highly revered for its natural detoxifying properties that are just as beneficial for the skin, as well as for your overall health.

Step One: Get Scrubbing! 

The first step is to incorporate a daily body scrub as a means to stimulate healthy circulation and to help flush out toxins and waste naturally, as it gets the lymph fluid moving around the body. For an easy and gentle scrub, you can use a Bath Scrunchy* (made from recyclable mesh and available in a range of colours, £3.50, link) in the shower or bath with your favourite body wash or body scrub. This method will exfoliate and clear away any dull, dead skin cells without feeling too harsh or causing any irritation, leaving your skin smoother afterwards. To enjoy the full benefits of this challenge, I'd recommend picking up a tube of Weleda Birch Body Scrub* (150ml, £9.95, link) to use with the scrunchy as it has small, natural, plastic-free granules in a skin-friendly pH base and it smells really citrusy and invigorating, so it's ideal to use first thing in the morning.

For ultra-glowing smooth skin, you can also try dry body-brushing which takes the challenge to the next level and makes you feel ready to take on the day! The Weleda Body Brush* (£4.95, link) is affordable, convenient and easy to handle. Made from the Asian tree Schima Superba, it features an organic cotton strap and synthetic bristles which allow you to get a nice and deep brushing action going on. As the name suggests, you use the brush on dry skin with no products and brush upwards towards your heart in long strokes for the best results.

Step Two: Massage 

Once you've scrubbed all over, treat your skin to the Birch Cellulite Oil* (100ml, £25.95, link). Specially formulated to tackle wobbly bits and 'orange peel' textured skin, cellulite can often indicate a build-up of toxins within the body which is stored in the fatty tissue layers known as adipose. The above step of dry-brushing will certainly help to remove this build-up, which can then be further assisted with a regular massage using a dedicated oil. 

The Weleda Birch Cellulite Oil is made from 100% natural ingredients including Apricot Kernel Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Wheatgerm Oil and the all-important Birch Extract, plus a blend of Rosemary, Cypress and Grapefruit Essential Oils give it a wonderfully refreshing and uplifting fragrance. I've been applying it daily to any area that has visible cellulite (so for me, this has been the thighs and bum!) and have noticed a visible difference within the 30 days as my skin is much firmer, smoother, looks more toned and any orange peel texture has vastly been reduced - success!

Step Three: Drink Your Juice

As I mentioned earlier, Weleda's holistic approach believes that what you put into your body is just as important as what you apply on the outside, so their Birch Juice* (200ml, £10.95, link) is a brilliant accompaniment to this challenge. This certified organic drink is made with two simple natural ingredients; 94% wild-grown Birch Leaf Extract and 6% biodynamic Lemon Juice, which completes the tonic effect. 

The taste is somewhat 'acquired' shall we say?! It's obviously much more concentrated than the trendy Birch Waters that you can find in Wholefoods, and has a far stronger flavour as a result. To try to put it into words, it's slightly sweet, slightly sour and slightly herbal/woody, all at the same time - you'll have to try it to know what I mean as it's a very unique taste! Luckily, you don't need to consume much of it to reap the rewards as just one tablespoonful (15ml which is 4.5 calories) a day is all you need, and it can be easily disguised in cold tea, juice or your morning smoothie/yoghurt. Benefits of drinking Birch Juice include improved skin elasticity and healthy blood circulation so it's a good food supplement to add to your breakfast.


Overall thoughts
I really enjoyed taking part in the Weleda Birch Spring Cleanse 30 Day Challenge and once I got into the swing of things, I found it very easy to incorporate the steps into my daily routine with minimal fuss. Dry-brushing has definitely helped my skin to feel softer and more rejuvenated overall, whilst the Birch Cellulite Oil has greatly reduced the appearance of my cellulite, which in turn has boosted my confidence ten-fold, especially with Summer holidays coming up! I'm not sure that I've noticed any significant changes to my skin through drinking the Birch Juice, though it has made me feel a lot 'healthier' in myself. I mainly feel that challenges like this are a fantastic way to get some important self-care steps into your busy lifestyle as it can be all too easy to forget to do them when you're running around doing everything else, so the mindful aspect has been great for my mental health alone - thanks Weleda!

Visit weleda.co.uk for more info and to shop the full range of products included in this feature

Would you like to try a gentle Spring Cleanse?

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Introducing: Code8 - Blush Mood-Reflecting Cheek Palette in Pink Beach & Iconoclast Eyeshadow Palette in Lustrous Corduroy - Review & Swatches

Monday, 13 May 2019

Code8 - Blush Mood-Reflecting Cheek Palette in Pink Beach & Eyeshadow Palette in Lustrous Corduroy - Review & Swatches
Chic and compact, palettes are an easy throw-in-your-bag option when it comes to packing for holidays and long weekends away. These two beauties from British cosmetics brand Code8, will save you space and ensure that you have all of your favourite shades to hand, regardless of whether you're enjoying a staycation or travelling further afield this Summer.

Code8 - Blush Mood-Reflecting Cheek Palette in Pink Beach & Eyeshadow Palette in Lustrous Corduroy - Review & Swatches
With a stunning pop-up shop located in Burlington Arcade in the wealthy Mayfair district of London, Code8 has received much positive fanfare from the press, which is highly impressive for such a young brand. Launched only late last year, Code8 is founded by two successful businesswomen who wanted to create an inclusive luxury makeup range that's simple and effective to use, for all ages and skin colours. You can read more about their 8 Point Beauty Manifesto here.

Intrigued by their overall vision and concept, I was kindly sent two of Code8's bestselling palettes to try out; the Blush Mood-Reflecting Cheek Palette in Pink Beach and the Iconoclast Eyeshadow Palette in Lustrous Corduroy

Code8 - Blush Mood-Reflecting Cheek Palette in Pink Beach - Review & Swatches
 Code8 Blush Mood-Reflecting Cheek Palette in Pink Beach* (£32, link)
First impressions definitely count when it comes to luxury, higher-end makeup and I wasn't disappointed when I unpacked the Blush Mood-Reflecting Cheek Palette. Housed in a circular metallic gold coloured compact with elegant brand logo engraving on the lid and a satisfying magnetic closing clasp, this palette has a pleasant weight to it and fits neatly into my hand. Opening it up, there's a decent sized mirror and a delightful trio of blush powders, each with a sizeable pan for dipping your brush into. Featuring a 'revolutionary Knead Technology', these blushers have a silky smooth consistency and can be used individually, or you can swirl all the shades together for a pretty punch of pink.

There are currently three different colourways to choose from and Pink Beach is the lightest and brightest of the bunch which makes it perfect for the Summer months. The top two shades are my favourites; on the left is a more intense NARS Orgasm-esque rosy-gold, and next to that is a medium rose pink with a subtle silver shimmer. Both of these are very wearable and can be applied lightly for a softer finish, or layered up for a bolder look - both have such a gorgeous glow to them! 

By contrast, the bottom blush shade is a very pale, mostly matte pink that's sadly too cool-toned for my skin colour. It comes across as quite chalky at first, but once blended in properly it adds a cute hint of baby pink to the cheeks. If you're an avid collector of blush palettes or simply want some new shades for your holiday, you'll love these.

Code8 - Blush Mood-Reflecting Cheek Palette in Pink Beach - Review & Swatches
Code8 Blush Mood-Reflecting Cheek Palette in Pink Beach 

Code8 Eyeshadow Palette in Lustrous Corduroy - Review & Swatches
 Code8 - Iconoclast Eyeshadow Palette in Lustrous Corduroy* (£45, link)
With the Blush Mood-Reflecting Cheek Palette setting a good standard for the brand, I was curious to test out the Iconoclast Eyeshadow Palette, but I must admit that the cheaper looking black plastic packaging didn't feel anywhere near as luxurious as the gold metallic compact that the blush trio came in. Although perfectly functional, there was no immediate 'wow' factor for such a pricey palette. However, the product inside looked promising so let's continue by focusing on the eyeshadows themselves.

Available in three colourways, this one is named Lustrous Cordoury and it will instantly appeal to neutral lovers like myself who can't get enough of these versatile and easy to wear shades. A mix of matte and metallic/shimmer colours allow you to create everyday natural looks, as well as more dramatic smokey-eyed evening looks, plus there's a mini diagram on the back of the palette to help consumers to achieve three different finishes by showing you exactly where to place each shade.

Like the blushers above, the Iconoclast Eyeshadow Palette is also formulated with Code8's patent-pending Knead Tech which blends pre-baked pigments with Sweet Almond and Jojoba Oil, for a silky smooth texture and enhanced longevity and they certainly have these traits. Performance wise, this palette is kinda comparable to similar offerings from NARS and Urban Decay, but a few of the matte shades let it down a little as the colour payoff isn't as strong as I was hoping, though they work better when applied wet. That said, I can see myself getting a fair amount of usage out of this palette for the sheer convenience and portability factors alone. 

Code8 Eyeshadow Palette in Lustrous Corduroy - Review & Swatches
Code8 - Eyeshadow Palette in Lustrous Corduroy

Overall Thoughts
Pros
  • Innovative and promising British brand
  • Inclusive colours - all skin tones catered for
  • Products are vegan-friendly and free from parabens and paraffin
  • Palettes are super convenient and travel-friendly
  • Nice selection of colourways available
  • Guidance on the back of the eyeshadow palette for extra usability & makeup beginners
  • Metallic/shimmer shades for blushers and eyeshadows are highly pigmented

Cons
  • Not as luxurious as other brands of a similar price point
  • Eyeshadow palette packaging looks and feels a bit cheap
  • Matte eyeshadow shades are a little weak and chalky in terms of colour payoff


Code8 Beauty - shop the full range online at codeeight.com

Have you come across Code8 before?

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Foodie Friday: Easy Scrambled Tofu (Vegan / Dairy-Free recipe) #WeekendBrunch

Friday, 3 May 2019

Easy Scrambled Tofu (Vegan / Dairy-Free recipe) #WeekendBrunch
Brunches are made for long weekends, so why not treat yourself to a special vegan style fry-up and add this tasty Scrambled Tofu to your plate?

A lot of people seem to be scared to use Tofu but you needn't be! My top tip would be to look out for an extra-firm version - all of the major supermarkets now stock this which means that you don't have to press it yourself, so it's ultra convenient if you haven't got much time on your hands. 

The very first time that I made Scrambled Tofu, I was completely dumbfounded by how realistic it looks, and even tastes, compared to real scrambled eggs. I'm a vegetarian, but I've been looking at simple ways to cut down on things like eggs and dairy and this Scrambled Tofu is such an easy swap to try out. It's also a good source of plant-based protein, calcium and iron, and it's low in fat too.

Serve this Scrambled Tofu on some toasted sourdough with your favourite veggies or add some vegan bacon/sausages for a brunch made in heaven!

Easy Scrambled Tofu (Vegan / Dairy-Free recipe) #WeekendBrunch
Ingredients: (serves 1)
  • 100g extra-firm Tofu (I used Tofoo)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • Pinch of Smoked Paprika
  • Pinch of Ground Cumin
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper (to season)

Method
  • Open the pack of Tofu over the sink and drain any excess water. Place in a bowl and with a fork, mash up the Tofu to resemble a 'scrambled' egg style texture. 
  • Add the Turmeric, Smoked Paprika, Ground Cumin and a tiny amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, combining everything together. Let it all soak in for about 5-10 minutes.
  • In a frying pan, heat a little Olive Oil and add the now scrambled Tofu. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat, making sure to move it around the pan regularly so that it doesn't burn.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Are you a fan of Tofu?

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