17
Jul
2016

6 Tips For Meal Prep

I still get a lot of questions about meal prep on my instagram when I post my pictures every sunday.  I know it can seem like a huge hassle when you first start doing it but over time you learn how to make things much quicker and more efficient. You also learn a few little tricks to make sure your meals turn out delicious every time. I did write a general guide on meal prep a few months ago but I thought I would do a revised one because there’s a few new things I have learnt and also for anyone who is a new reader too.

Some people choose to make their breakfasts AND lunches (with snacks) in their meal prep but as I work from home, time isn’t such an issue for me in the mornings.  There are lots of breakfasts you can prep in advance like overnight oats or baked oatmeal, yoghurt, fruit and granola, homemade protein squares, protein muffins, boiled eggs etc.  The options are endless!

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The Basics

The first thing you’ll need is a pack of cheap tupperware boxes – I get mine from tesco.  I would advise not putting them in the dishwasher after you’ve used them as this can warp the lids and means they don’t fit on properly afterwards. I always make sure I buy in things like individual greek yoghurt pots, Nakd or Pulsin bars are great as snacks and I also buy Trek bars for when I need a big boost of energy. I sometimes make my own protein snacks and there are loads of recipes on places like pinterest or instagram.

Avoid Food Poisoning 

I’ve been asked a lot about food poisoning with regards to reheating chicken or rice. Firstly I always buy Uncle Bens or Tilda rice sachets and put them straight into the tupperware without cooking them first. That way you’re only cooking it as it reheats. Always make sure you heat the meal until it’s piping hot and this will guard against any problems with the cooked chicken. I keep the first two lunches in the fridge for Monday and Tuesday and the rest go in the freezer (to be taken out first thing in the morning each day). That way it’s fully defrosted by lunchtime and ready to be reheated.

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Make your life easier

I often find it’s easier to cook a whole chicken and shred it to make my lunches.  Making a whole sweet potato cottage pie is also a great option. Both of these save on time and washing up. Another option would be making a pan of chilli and serving it out with rice or sweet potato to add a bit of variety. Boiled eggs are also easy to prepare and fantastic for snacking on for a good protein hit. I’ve found that spinach doesn’t reheat very well in the microwave and goes a bit slimy so I prefer to use broccoli.

Cooking your veg

I only ever par boil my vegetables to avoid them going all mushy when I reheat them. When I’m roasting the sweet potato, I also just undercook it slightly to stop the texture from going too soft when you reheat your meal.

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Keep it Simple

I don’t go too complicated with my meal prep because I like to get it all done within a 1 hour window. No one wants to spend half a day cooking in the kitchen! I make sure I have spice mixes put aside for my meat and sweet potato. I have tried using fish for meal prep but for me, it just doesn’t taste that great after being in a tupperware container for a day or so…even after freezing it. It’s just hard to judge the cooking time to get it just right and not overcooked. I sometimes add a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce or Waldens BBQ sauce just to change up the flavours. It’s important you don’t get bored of what you’re eating or you’re less likely to stick to it. I always keep my snacks very simple and I make sure they’re things I can just chuck in my bag when I’m on the go.

Be Efficient With Time

I find it really helps for me to choose a specific time to start my meal prep then give myself an hour window. It means you don’t mess around and you don’t get distracted by other things. I always get things done a lot quicker when I;m under a bit of pressure! Also, consider if there are things you can cook together such as roasting all of your veg together while you bake sweet potatoes or grilling sausages and burgers at the same time for example. I sometimes buy a bag of shredded carrot or courgetti just to save time on prepping my veg. It’s also a good idea to make chilli or casseroles in the slow cooker.

My last tip is to make sure you double check that your tupperware is sealed properly before you put it into the freezer otherwise the food will get freezer burn and won’t taste very good.

30
Jun
2016

My Favourite Swimwear Style

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No matter how many times I try on a bikini, I’m never 100% comfortable in them. Maybe one day I will be but for now, that lingering self consciousness prevails.  I much prefer cut away swimsuits (or monokinis are they are also known) because they offer just that little bit more coverage and you just feel more…secure.  There’s not much extra material involved but somehow I feel much more comfortable wearing one.  My problem area has always been my stomach and I’m still working on my core – I think most women struggle with this area after having a baby.  That’s why cut away swimsuits are so great…they offer that coverage over the stomach area to hide stretch marks or that little pocket of fat that most mums are left with. There’s a large selection to choose from including swimsuits with cutaways sections offering more coverage or something that looks more like a bikini with a strip of material connecting the two sections like the style I’m wearing below.

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UK Swimwear

Vacanze Italiane Blue Leopard Monokini

The most important thing, as with all swimwear, is to make sure you get the right size. This is especially important with this style of swimsuit because buying too small can cause the top section to be dragged down and no one wants that! These swimsuits generally come with adjustable tie sides on the bottom half so you can adjust as necessary. They are a little more tricky if you vary greatly in sizes i.e. you’re a 12 on top and a 14 on the bottom but as long as you buy one with adjustable sides then you should be fine. I absolutely love the blue leopard print on this particular monokini because it’s so summery and looks great with a tan.

I know a lot of people swerve this style because it leaves weird tan lines but the same could be said of a lot of clothing nowadays…I’m thinking about those tops with multiple straps across your back or chest! So really, it’s not a swimsuit you’d be sunbathing in but it would look just as awesome with a lovely sophisticated blouse-style cover up on the beach. I’ve seen loads of fantastic colours and styles on the high street so go and try one on! I’ve seen everything from higher coverage, sporty styles to super brights perfect for places like Ibiza to more toned down, sophisticated options. There really is something for everyone and the best part is that you can eat a little extra and not have to worry about sucking your stomach in on the beach because the suit does the work for you!

To see more swimwear from UK Swimwear, click here.

*PR Sample

22
Jun
2016

My Current Favourite Beauty Products

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I haven’t that many beauty posts recently and although my blog used to be predominantly about that, it’s much more varied now.  I have had a few people telling me that they would prefer me to post more about beauty and less about fitness and food, but my blog is a reflection of my lifestyle.  My lifestyle has changed and grown and I will always stay true to who I am in the present.  I am passionate about fitness and nutrition so there will be a lot of posts on that subject, but I also want to share all of the awesome products I use which really work for me. So today’s post is a run down of a few products which have impressed me in the last month or so.

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Xen Tan Transformation Ultra* – Now this first one is a bit controversial because although it’s a fantastic product, it’s extortionately expensive in my opinion (£49.99 for 236ml).  But I really liked it and thought I’d leave it up to you guys to decided whether you love a good fake tan enough to spend that amount. The up side of this product is that the tan lasted a good 2 weeks on me whilst most self tanners only last about 5-7 days.  So I guess that’s reflected in the price given it’s longevity. It gives a really nice medium-dark tan but still appears natural. It faded really well – evenly with no patchiness or streaks on application. It’s so easy to apply with a mitt and because it only has a very slight guide colour, it won’t ruin your bed sheets if you decide to sleep with it on.

Windle & Moodie Thickening Cream – I was first introduced to this product after it was used on my hair at Linton & Mac salon in Aberdeen. I’m not usually one for styling creams as more often than not, they weigh down your hair and give it a greasy look.  I have fine hair and prefer products to be ultra lightweight.  However this thickening cream is absolutely fantastic and gives great hold.  It feels a bit gloopy and sticky as you apply it but it disappears once you’ve blowdried your hair, leaving it lightweight, manageable and soft to the touch. It gives really good volume too so it’s a massive winner in my b look and I now use it every day.

The Sanctuary Wonder Body – It’s that time of year when you’re going to be putting more skin on show and preferably you want it to look healthy, soft and radiant. That’s where this product comes in. It gives your skin that healthy gleam but in a really subtle way without being glittery or overly shimmery.  It just makes your skin look really nourished and healthy. It also won’t rub off on your clothes leaving weird stains because it’s only slightly tinted. Often if I’m wearing a skirt I slap a bit of this on and I’m good to go!

Rodial Instaglam Airbrush Primer* – I’m very fussy about primers because I hate it when they interfere with the application of my foundation. Sometimes they can cause your foundation to not adhere properly or they rub off as you’re applying it. Very annoying indeed! However this primer doesn’t feel overly ‘silicon-y’ and it just seems to blur out everything, perfecting the skin’s surface. My foundations go on like a dream when I apply this first and I never need as much concealer. It’s lightweight, hydrating and it just really helps to make your skin appear flawless.

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Urban Decay Revolution Lipgloss in Liar* – I’m much more of a lipstick kinda girl than lipgloss as all too often the formulation is sticky and seems to collect on certain areas of your lips.  But this lipgloss is simply divine! It has a wide variety of shade options with a nude to suit every complexion and this Liar shade is perfection on me. It’s a gorgeous everyday colour that keeps my lips hydrated and looking plumper.  I love the packaging too – it seems the brand keeps on getting better year on year.

Nip + Fab Dragon’s Blood Hyaluronic Shot* – When I feel like my skin needs a hydration boost and a bit more nourishment, I reach for this little bottle.  I apply it after my cleanser and before my moisturiser to keep any dryness at bay.  I feel like this extra step keeps my skin looking and feeling a lot healthier and smoother.  It has a plumping effect too and I love that the brand is placed at a more affordable price point.

MaxFactor Skin Luminizer Foundation – I’ve spoken about this foundation before because for me, it beats any of the higher end natural skin-mimicking foundations that are out there including YSL and Charlotte Tilbury offering. This affordable little gem gives a really natural, subtle finish and adds a gorgeous glow to your complexion. It has medium coverage and evens out skin tone beautifully without making your makeup look heavy.  It lasts really well and is particularly great for normal and dry skin. I’d say if you’re skin is on the more oily side, you’d have to keep on top of the powder application as it is a glowy type of base. I’ve gone through 6 bottles of the stuff now and a few of my friends now use it daily…it’s that good! (I use the Natural shade in winter and mix in the Golden shade for summer).

Orly Epix nail polish in ElectroPop* – I had been looking for a nail colour like this since forever so I was really excited to try this. It certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s one of those nail polishes that is super easy to apply, quick to dry and lasts really well. Pretty much the dream, right? The colour is just as impressive as the bottles suggests and it’s perfect for the summer months!

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Too Faced Love Flush Blush in How Deep Is Your Love* – I am a big fan of Too Faced as a brand as I use their highlighters, eyeshadow palettes and lip products A LOT. This absolutely beautiful blush looks just as good on your face as it does in the packaging. The colour screams summer and adds that lovely peachy glow to your cheeks. It’s not shimmery or glittery and looks really natural. I’d say this shade is best for medium skin tones but there’s some other pretty shades in the range. You can definitely judge this book by it’s cover!

MaxFactor Colour Elixir Lipliner in Brown Nude – I had been looking for a cheaper alternative to the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lipliner and this one is a pretty good dupe! It’s creamy, easy to apply and it lasts really well for a cheaper product.  The brown nude shade is fantastic for slightly overlooking the lips without looking obvious or weird. It’s the perfect base for any nude lipstick.

Mac Lipstick in Brave – If you’re looking for that slightly darker 90’s nude lip then this is a fantastic shade to go for without going too brown in tone. I find that the really brown shades just drain my complexion and make me look ill. This satin finish lipstick lasts really well and isn’t too harsh in tone for the daytime.

*PR products

 

9
Jun
2016

Review of Sweet Deceits Baking Kits

I love baking some sometimes with all the food prep I have to do for my lunches for the week, I find it difficult to find the time to bake as well.  The thoughts of getting all the ingredients out, measuring them and getting out various apparatus and bowls, not to mention all the washing up afterwards isn’t a very appealing thought.  So when I discovered Sweet Deceits, a company who make healthy dessert kits, I couldn’t wait to see if their “deceivingly good for you” tagline was deserved.

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I picked up the Chocolate Fudge Brownies, Peanut Butter Cookies and Raw Caramel Slice kits to try from this online store for £7.99 each.  I do think this is pretty pricey for a dessert kit but it’s not something I’d be buying every week…more something I’d make to mix up my usual snack routine.  There’s always a premium attached to health foods anyway and because this is a convenience product, it’s to be expected. Either you spend the money or the time I guess.

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All of the kits are gluten free, dairy free, contain no refined sugar, have good fibre content and 100% natural ingredients. I found the kits incredibly easy to use – it’s literally the most simple task to make them and takes no time at all.  They even provide the trays to make the dessert in so there’s minimal mess or washing up. You can melt a lot of the ingredients in the microwave so there no need to mess around with pots and pans.

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The brownies in my opinion are the best of three kits I tried.  They are very rich, chocolatey, fudgey and just plain delicious. They taste very sweet so you really only need a small piece. They would be incredible with some salted caramel almond milk ‘ice cream’ or with some crunchy peanut butter drizzled on them! They really don’t taste like a ‘healthy snack’ and you feel like you’re treating yourself. You get a minimum of 8 slices from the kit but I ended up getting 12 out of mine as I cut them smaller. They aren’t something I’d eat every day but they’re great for when you get that craving for something sweet.

Per 35g serving: Energy 616kJ, 147.4kcal, Fat 7.4g, of which saturates 7.1g, Carbohydrate 17.0g, of which sugars 14.4g, Fibre 1.5g, Protein 2.3g, Salt 0.1g

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I found that the Peanut Butter Cookies were too sweet for my liking – I think the natural sweetener was just too overpowering for my taste. It’s all down to preference though and other people may think differently.  The raw Caramel slices were nice but I did find that the date ‘caramel’ filling was really dense and I would have preferred a more squidgy texture for that particular dessert. It tasted good but just didn’t have the texture I would have liked.

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So if you fancied trying one of these kits, I’d definitely recommend the Chocolate Fudge Brownie one! They also do Jumbo Oat Flapjacks which I would love to try as I think they could be a winner.

3
Jun
2016

Skincare: Where To Spend And Where To Save

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If I’ve learnt one thing over the years of being a beauty blogger and trying out products from the full spectrum of cheap to expensive, it’s that dishing out more money doesn’t always equal a better result. I think we can all get caught up in the sparkly advertising that promises us the world and more. It’s also very possible to overload our skin with things it really doesn’t need and can lead to irritation and allergic reactions. We are sold this idea that the more money we spend and the more products we have, the better our skin will be.  We live in a society of excess after all so it makes sense that this filters through into our beauty regimes.  But maybe it’s time we all stopped to ask ourselves whether we really need all of these state of the art lotions and potions. Maybe the key to better skin is more about our lifestyle – what we eat, our exposure to the sun, how much water we drink, whether we smoke and how much exercise we get.

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Cleanser

I have used so many ‘cult’ cleansers and generally speaking, they are often a let down.  I think sometimes we convince ourselves that these products are amazing to justify the price tag we pay for them and because some magazine decided to give it a beauty award.  However, the only highly recommended cleanser that really lived up to my expectations was the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser (£14).  But…I actually prefer the Soap & Glory The Ultimelt which is £4 cheaper and is often on offer at Boots. In my opinion it performs just as well as the Liz Earle product and is actually more effective at keeping my skin blemish-free.

Exfoliator

I would say that if you’re looking for a granular scrub exfoliator then you could go cheaper as there isn’t much difference over the price spectrum.  But bear in mind that granular exfoliators can be quite harsh on your skin and you’re probably better using a hot cloth cleanser with a damp muslin cloth to achieve a more gentle exfoliation.  When it comes to more chemical based/acid exfoliators I would tend to spend a little more cash as I’ve had great results from products like Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel or the Ren Glycolactic Radiance range. These can make quite a bit of difference to the clarity of your skin as well as it’s glow factor! As for body exfoliators, I really rate The Sanctuary Body Scrub which is just over £5 or the L’Oreal Exfotonic which is great for use to prep your skin for fake tan.

Toner

Toner is a product which is really better suited for people with enlarged pores and excessive oil production. Also, if you have Rosacea-prone skin, a gentle toner can help to calm this. I have used very expensive toners and haven’t found they make much difference at all because ultimately, they are really just an extra step to remove any left over cleansing product from your skin. Therefore, I would always buy a cheaper, mild toner from somewhere like Boots.

Serums

The only serum I’ve used that has tackled every single skin woe I’ve had all in a oner is the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair.  I usually baulk at the price when I have to buy a new bottle and I generally try to pick it up in duty free if I can OR on the rare occasion I’ve built up enough Boots Advantage points to treat myself! Yes it is very expensive but it also works like a dream.  It seems to hydrate, repair and clear my skin like nothing else. When I run out, I really notice the difference. On the plus side, a 75ml bottle lasts me for about a year so it does last the distance. The only other serum that impressed me was the Ren Glycolactic Radiance serum.

Eye Cream

You should definitely start using eye cream in your 20’s to make sure that area is constantly hydrated. The more dehydrated that area becomes, the more lines you’ll start to notice as you age. Look for formulations to  with ingredients like aloe vera or cucumber help de-puff your eye area, cocoa butter to keep the area hydrated, and green tea to help constrict your blood vessels to lessen the appearance of dark circles. Also remember to ONLY apply the eye cream to the orbital bone area under the eye, NOT directly below the eye or on the eyelid.  This can cause the eye cream to build up under the delicate skin and make the area more puffy! I have dark circles and this is hereditary so nothing I apply will ever make this disappear completely.  I find that when I get a good nights sleep and stay really hydrated, this makes much more difference than an eye cream. So I’d advise addressing more lifestyle factors and save on this product.

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Moisturiser

I am going to be completely honest and say that I switch up my moisturisers all the time but when I use the Estee Lauder serum, I don’t need to use an expensive night cream because the serum does all the work. I tend to use a really simple night cream because anything heavy just clogs my skin up. I’ll often just use a simple Vitamin E cream from somewhere like Superdrug.  However, for my day cream I really prefer to use something like Origins Ginzing or my ultimate splurge item is Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream as it’s simply divine.  So for my skin, I save on my night creams and splurge a bit more on day creams that protect my skin whilst I’m out and about. I have sensitive skin which can be dry in the winter months but I think if you don’t have a specific skin issue then you can go basic with your moisturiser.

Facial Oils

I don’t use a facial oil every single night because I find they can begin to clog my skin with daily use. However I do like to use it once or twice a week as an overnight treatment and I use them more in the colder months when my skin is drier. There are a lot of fancy facial oils out there that are very expensive but there are cheaper alternatives that you can add to your nightly moisturiser such as rosehip oil. If you apply a facial oil before your night time moisturiser, it actually allows the ingredients of the moisturiser to soak into the skin more effectively. The oil molecules are like tiny Trojan horses, duping the skin into letting active ingredients—like retinol, glycolic acid, and vitamin C—penetrate deeper into the skin. My favourite facial oils are Origins Skin Refining Oil and Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate.

Face Masks

I only use a face mask once a week to give my skin a boost so I can afford to splash out a little more on them. I’ve used cheaper face masks and not been hugely impressed by them.  My favourites are all on the more expensive side including IndeedLabs Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Mask which is usually on offer in Boots, Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask, Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask and Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Skin Clay Mask. All of these have a noticeable effect on my skin.

Bodycare

There are so many products which promise to eradicate your cellulite and tone your skin. Every woman has a bit of cellulite as we naturally have a higher body fat percentage compared with men. It’s a hard pill to swallow but there are currently no products on the market that alone can make those places firmer and less cellulitic. Watching your carbohydrate intake and working out regularly is still the only natural way to get a firmer body. Many of these ‘firming’ creams actually only work on a very temporary way and so they give the illusion of firming the skin for a short period. My favourite body lotion is Aveeno Creamy Oil Moisturiser because it’s awesome and keeps your skin baby soft.

Suncare

When it comes to SPF, it doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. Everyone should be wearing SPF on a daily basis all year round to protect from sun damage. If you are prone to break outs then look for one that’s non-comedogenic and make sure to wash it off thoroughly at night. SPFs over 30 are a bit superfluous. All sunscreens have to be reapplied after swimming or sweating so an SPF15-30 is usually fine. Many moisturisers and foundations now come with an SPF anyway so you can combine the two and save money!

So in conclusion, I have sensitive skin that suffers from dry patches and I also have mild psoriasis.  This spend/save strategy might not be the same for every skin type but this is what works for me and having tried so many skincare products over the years, I have been able to decipher which ones I need to spend extra cash on.  I hope this has helped anyone who wants to spend more wisely on skincare!