Foodie Friday: Summer Chocolate Ganache Cake with Strawberries & Rose (Vegan/Dairy-Free recipe)

Friday, 13 July 2018

Summer Chocolate Ganache Cake with Strawberries & Rose (Vegan/Dairy-Free recipe)
Since I've been on a bit of a fitness kick lately, I've had the most insane cravings for chocolate, so earlier this week there was only one thing that I could do - make a chocolate cake of course! This one's vegan-friendly, dairy and refined sugar-free, but this is no low-fat version as it's still seriously rich and utterly decadent. 

Out of all of the cookbooks that I own (and I own quite a lot), the Deliciously Ella books are the ones that I keep going back to again and again. Not only are they packed full of healthy, plant-based recipes, but there are some seriously indulgent ones in there as well, so it made sense to have a browse when I was looking for something to satisfy my chocolate craving.

Summer Chocolate Ganache Cake with Strawberries & Rose (Vegan/Dairy-Free recipe)
I stumbled upon the following Chocolate Ganache Cake recipe from the Deliciously Ella Every Day book and I just knew that I had to make it! Luckily, I already had most of the ingredients at home as this cake is made from seven ingredients that I use on a regular basis, so it was mostly a case of simply blending everything together and popping it into the oven - super easy!

This cake is incredibly rich and satisfying. It's wonderfully chocolatey and fudgey, and one small slice with a cup of tea is more than enough to put a smile back on my face after a long and busy week. As it's Summer, I decided to add some fresh Strawberries and a sprinkling of edible Rose Petals over the top to finish it off (these work so well with the chocolate flavour too), so this would be a really beautiful cake to share with friends and family over the weekend.

Summer Chocolate Ganache Cake with Strawberries & Rose (Vegan/Dairy-Free recipe)
Ingredients: (makes 1 cake)
  • 3 ripe Avocados
  • 7 tbsp of Almond Butter
  • 8 tbsp of raw Cacao Powder
  • 11 tbsp of Maple Syrup
  • 140g Ground Almonds
  • 3 tbsp Chia Seeds

(For the frosting)
  • 4 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 4 tbsp Cacao Powder
  • 4 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • Fresh Strawberries & edible Rose Petals (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.
  • Scoop out the Avocado flesh and discard the stones and skins.
  • Add the Avocados to a food processor with all the other cake ingredients and blend until smooth. Gently scoop out the batter into the cake tin and smooth out the surface.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until a knife pressed into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool and bind together for at least 20 minutes before turning it out of the tin.
  • To make the frosting, warm the Coconut Oil in a saucepan over a low heat until it melts, and then stir in the rest of the frosting ingredients (minus the Strawberries & Rose Petals if using).
  • Apply a generous layer of frosting all over the top of the cold cake and leave to set. Add some chopped fresh Strawberries and sprinkle over a handful of edible Rose Petals to finish. 

Summer Chocolate Ganache Cake with Strawberries & Rose (Vegan/Dairy-Free recipe)
Have you baked any cakes recently?

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New In Beauty: PMD Clean Smart Facial Cleansing Device review #SkincareRoutine

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

PMD Clean review
Skincare fans listen up! There's a brand new facial cleansing gadget in town, but is it worth the money? Let's meet the latest innovation from PMD and put it to the test.

Whilst I'm utterly addicted to trying out new skincare products, I don't have quite the same enthusiasm for skincare gadgets. Why? When all the hype around the Clarisonic saturated the blogosphere several years ago, I rushed out and bought one along with everyone else, hoping that it would somehow magically transform my skin. Want to know what happened next?

I ended up selling the damn thing on eBay less than three months later because it ruined my skin. The combination of too-harsh bristles and over-exfoliation was too much for my poor complexion to handle, and I was left dealing with more breakouts than I've ever had in my whole life. Needless to say, I avoided all facial cleansing gadgets for a long time afterwards until a facialist friend of mine used a Foreo Luna on me, and my skin loved it. I've been eyeing up buying one for a while now, but when I received this package from PMD for their latest launch called the PMD Clean last month, I think I changed my mind.

PMD Clean review
At first glance, the new PMD Clean looks suspiciously similar to the Foreo Luna in that it vibrates and is made from silicone, but that's about as far as the comparisons go. When I was playing with the Foreo Luna, I thought it was rather fiddly to hold and it's only since using this that I realised how satisfying it is to hold something that has an actual handle, especially when your hands are wet.

The PMD Clean uses 'SonicGlow' technology' which basically means that it vibrates over 7,000 times per minute. This allows the device to really break down any embedded dirt and impurities trapped within the pores, thus giving the skin a deep down clean and leaving it feeling much softer and smoother afterwards. The vibrations/pulsations also allow you to indulge in a nice anti-ageing facial massage, so it's one to look into if you're after a cleansing device that can also help to tone and boost the overall circulation of the skin. 

PMD Clean review
Looking closely at the head, you can clearly see that there are two types of bristles, all of which are short, but one section has chunkier and bigger bristles than the other. This section can be used to target more troublesome areas like the chin and jawline, though I found it worked just as well when I used it in circular motions all over my face.

This device has four settings so that you can change the speeds according to your skin's needs. I've mainly been using the first mode at it's the gentlest, so I'd recommend starting with that one, especially if you have sensitive skin, and then working your way up to the more intense mode two.  Flip the head over and you'll see three wider ridges (see the first selfie photo above). These can be used with the modes three and four to massage in serums and moisturisers after exfoliating, and they have more of a 'pulsing' sensation, rather than a vibrating one.

As the PMD Clean is made from silicone, it's waterproof, anti-bacterial and far more hygienic than the bristles that you'll find on the Clarisonic. It's also much easier to clean, plus you don't ever need to replace the head so it's more cost-effective in the long run.

PMD Clean review
Overall thoughts?
Having tested out the PMD Clean for about six weeks now, I can say that it's something that I can imagine myself continuing to use on a regular basis in my skincare routine. As I have combination/ sensitive skin, I've only been using it once or twice a week, but it's been doing a great job of blitzing some stubborn blackheads and helping to make my skin look and feel a lot less congested. The ease of using it and how gentle the silicone is has really won me over, and for hygiene freaks like me, I much prefer using something that I know I can clean properly after every use!

It's certainly an investment, but it's not as hideously expensive as similar cleansing devices on the market, so if you're looking for an effective, relatively budget-friendly option, the PMD Clean may just be what you're after.

PMD Clean* is available in three colours and retails for £89 (link)

Do you use a facial cleansing device?

Home Decor: INFINI London Pink Roses review

Monday, 9 July 2018

INFINI London Pink Roses review
Fresh flowers are one of life's little luxuries and a beautiful way to decorate your home, but if you've ever been disappointed by how long they last, INFINI London offer an interesting alternative option.

When I can afford to, I love buying fresh flowers. There's just something so satisfying about bringing home a bouquet, trimming the stems and arranging them in a vase - I'm sure I was a florist in a previous life! However, watching the flowers wilt and wither over the next couple of days is always depressing, and I've never personally liked the plastic gaudiness of fake flowers. 

So what's a girl to do?

INFINI London Pink Roses review
Whilst searching for alternatives to fake plastic flowers, I came across INFINI London who specialise in real roses that last up to a year. I know it sounds cliché but roses are one of my favourite flowers, as they always remind me of the rose garden that my grandparents used to tend to near their retirement home. I have many fond memories of running around the garden as a young child, often stopping to breathe in that classic floral fragrance (this is also why I still love rose-scented beauty products!), admiring the delicate structures of the petals and appreciating the various hues of red and pink.

INFINI London Pink Roses review
Presented in various gift-appropriate ways (the Signature Black Cube box is shown above), INFINI's roses are picked and cut at their most prime state, and each one is carefully treated with a special eco-friendly solution which perfectly preserves them in all their glory for up to a year.

When the box above arrived, I was absolutely enthralled by how perfect these pink roses are. The preservation treatment is truly outstanding as they have managed to maintain their delicate petals and structure, and even their natural rose scent is still detectable - my mind is blown as to how they do this!

With no watering required and only a light dusting needed every once in a while, you can place these INFINI roses anywhere in your home, making sure to avoid exposure to direct sunlight and high humidity so that they stay in tip-top condition. They are so beautiful and would make a wonderful housewarming gift. 

INFINI London Pink Roses review
P.S Although INFINI recommends that you don't remove the roses from their box, I couldn't resist picking one up to provide a better close-up photo!

INFINI London Signature Black Cube Pink Roses* (£59, link)

Have you ever bought any preserved flowers like this?

Colourful Haircare: Infuse My Colour Copper & Ruby Wash review

Friday, 6 July 2018

Infuse My Colour Copper & Ruby Wash review
A couple of months ago, I started to experiment with dyeing my hair with henna (see what I used and read about my experience here) and have since re-henna'd it a further two times. I love the results with henna, but find that like most hair dyes, it does quickly fade within a few weeks, so I've been looking for something to freshen up the colour in between dye jobs.

There's been a lot of hype surrounding the Infuse My Colour Washes when they launched on LoveLula recently, so I decided to pick two of them up and give them a go.

Created by two globally celebrated hairdressers, Rob Forgione & Denis Kovalyov, the Infuse My Colour range offers a variety of shades to refresh, revive and tone your coloured hair. These types of products are nothing new as many women use purple shampoos to banish the brassy tones that can build up on coloured blonde hair, but what I did find interesting is that the Infuse My Colour Washes are all free from sulphates, silicones and parabens, as well as being cruelty-free and vegan-friendly, which naturally gets a massive thumbs up from me. With this in mind, I was excited to jump into the bathroom and put them to the test!

Infuse My Colour Copper Wash review
 Infuse My Colour Copper Wash* (250ml, £14.95, link)

First up, I tried the Copper Wash which helps to maintain the brightness of Strawberry Blonde, Copper, Auburn and Warm Brown Hair. As my henna'd hair colour has a rich brown, reddish tone to it, I was hoping that this would perhaps revive some of the warmth of colour that tends to fade after a few weeks, and I'm pleased to say that it did help to brighten it up.

I used it in place of my regular shampoo and found that the consistency was a little thinner than I was expecting, however, it created a light foam and was easy to spread over the hair and massage in. The instructions say to just wash and rinse, and then apply again if required, so I used it twice to see what the full effects would be like. After conditioning and drying, my hair looked noticeably shinier and definitely brighter with a greater depth of warmth coming through, especially when it caught the sunlight. It didn't change my hair colour (not that I expected it to as it's dark to begin with), but I loved the extra brightness and life that it brought back.

Infuse My Colour Ruby Wash review
Infuse My Colour Ruby Wash* (250ml, £14.95, link)

As my henna'd hair has a deep red tone to it, it made sense to opt for the Ruby Wash which has been specially formulated to boost Red, Red Brown and Burgundy hair colours. The formula felt identical to the one above when it came to shampooing with it, and I followed it up with my regular conditioner, then allowed my hair to air-dry. I was a little disappointed when I checked my reflection in the bathroom mirror as I couldn't see any immediate difference, but once I was outside in the sun, I could see that it had successfully revived the red tones and added a lovely glossy shine which made it look like I had just freshly henna'd my hair. 

Overall thoughts?
I was hoping that these Colour Washes would add a bit of warmth and brightness to my hair, and I'm pleased to say that both delivered a subtle, but noticeable result which is really impressive on dark hair. I'll definitely continue to use them alongside my trusty henna!

Do you use colour infusing shampoos?

Luxury Green Beauty: Azara Beautique Oat, Sidr Honey & Madina Rose Soap review #PlasticFreeJuly

Thursday, 5 July 2018

AZARA Beautique Oat, Sidr Honey & Madina Rose Soap review
One of the easiest ways to join in with #PlasticFreeJuly this month is to embrace the original multi-purpose beauty product; the humble bar of soap! You'll always find at least one bar of soap in my bathroom, and if you're in the mood for some serious luxury, why not try this one from Azara Beautique?

The days when soaps were seen as old-fashioned and always smelt like something your Grandmother would use are thankfully long gone, as the traditional bar of soap is undergoing a fashionable revival thanks to changing consumer attitudes that are linked to reducing the amount of plastic that we consume. In fact, if there's only ONE thing that you do to cut down on your plastic waste, ditching your regular bottle of handwash for a solid, zero-waste bar of soap is an easy step in the right direction.

AZARA Beautique Oat, Sidr Honey & Madina Rose Soap review
I've been using soaps for years and I love discovering new brands that use interesting natural ingredients in their formulas. One such brand that has recently caught my attention is Azara Beautique who have a whole range of fascinating Arab-inspired/Middle Eastern soaps that come wrapped in the most beautiful paper packaging. The unique recipes for these soaps have been passed down over the generations, from mothers to daughters, and all of Azara's products are free of parabens, sodium and ammonium sulfate, palm oils, alcohol, formaldehyde, harsh preservatives, lanolin, glycol, gluten, mineral oils, petrochemicals, and microbeads.

Instead, they use natural, eco-friendly, vegetable based preservatives and olive oil based emulsifying agents to create luxurious soaps that feature key ingredients which are carefully sourced throughout the Arab world. For example, their Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes from Palestine and Syria, whilst fragrant Pink Roses are picked in Saudi Arabia’s second holy city of Madina. The soaps are then handmade with love here in the UK.

Azara have a luxury soap for every skin type and concern, and I decided to try out their Oat, Sidr Honey & Madina Rose Soap which you can see below.

AZARA Beautique Oat, Sidr Honey & Madina Rose Soap review
Specially formulated for sensitive skin, and suitable to use on babies and children, Azara's Oat, Sidr Honey & Madina Rose Soap is a sheer delight to use and such a pampering treat for dry, eczema-prone skin like mine! Made from an exquisite blend that features Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Extra Virgin Sweet Almond Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Pure Madina Flower Water, Extra Virgin Castor Oil, Organic Oats, Sidr Honey and Organic Cinnamon Powder, this soap is incredibly moisturising and has a delicate sweet and floral honey-ish scent.

Packed with natural anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agents, it will instantly soothe and hydrate even the most irritated and dry, cracked skin, and high content of lipids, fats and reparative proteins help to protect and regenerate the skin’s protective barrier. I've been using this soap all over my body in the shower (it's also gentle enough to use on the face) and I feel like I can skip using a body moisturiser afterwards because it leaves my skin so soft. The oats in the soap also give it a slightly grainy texture which offers a little gentle exfoliation for even smoother skin.

It's rare that I'd dedicate a whole blog post to just one bar of soap, but this really is something special! It is on the pricey side but if you're feeling spendy, this would be a lovely luxury treat for anyone who has dry and sensitive skin.

Azara Beautique Oat, Sidr Honey & Madina Rose Soap* (100g, £22, link)

Do you use bars of soap?

Summer Beauty: Lavera Self-Tanning Body Lotion & Self-Tanning Face Cream review

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Lavera Self-Tanning lotion Body & Face review
Let's face it, the only healthy way to get a tan this Summer is to fake it, so I've been putting Lavera's Self-Tanning Lotions for Face and Body to the test.

Many of my regular readers will know that I love the popular German natural brand Lavera, but I didn't realise that they had a self-tanning range until recently. Now, my past experience with natural self-tanning products has been a little hit and miss, to say the least, but having loved pretty much everything else that I've tried from Lavera, I was keen to test these two out.

Lavera Self-Tanning Body Lotion review
 Lavera Self-Tanning Body Lotion* (150ml, £14.90, link)

Most mainstream self-tanning products can be incredibly drying on the skin, but Lavera's Self-Tanning Body Lotion is completely different. Packed full of nourishing natural and certified organic ingredients, it features Macadamia Oil, Jojoba, Shea Butter, Calendula and Aloe Vera, so it feels lovely and hydrating. I found it easy to rub into the skin (it just feels like a regular non-sticky body lotion), and the colour developed in around 5-6 hours, with no streaks or staining the bedsheets issues. It has a scent, but it's not overpowering and doesn't smell like stale biscuits which is always a good thing! 

Colour-wise, it's certainly nowhere near as dark as some conventional tanning brands, but it gave me a light, even and subtle colour that looked very natural - more like a weekend away in Devon, rather than two weeks in the Bahamas if you get what I mean. This would be ideal for anyone who has pale skin as I feel you would get a much better result than what showed up on my light olive complexion, and it's perfect for those who are looking for a more natural tan colour with no orange in sight.

Lavera Self-Tanning Face Cream review
Lavera Self-Tanning Face Cream* (50ml, £11.90, link)

To complement the Self-Tanning Body Lotion, I also decided to try out the Self-Tanning Face Cream, which as you can guess, has been specially formulated so that you can use it on the face. Whenever I fake-tan, I always, always use a separate product for my face because I've experienced a lot of breakout issues with various brands in the past, so it's best to pick up a dedicated facial product like this one instead.

It has similar ingredients to the Self-Tanning Body Lotion, but the DHA comes up slightly higher in the INCI and the naturally derived fragrance is much lower down in the list. It feels like a moisturising face cream, has a pleasant scent, and it's best applied to clean, dry skin (I would also recommend exfoliating beforehand too). The colour develops within 4-6 hours and you can apply a second layer afterwards if you want a darker tan. I really loved the results of this as it looked natural, but gave a much more sun-kissed glow to the skin. Definitely one to try for the Summer!

Have you tried either of these?

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