Thursday 26 February 2015

February's Parragon Cookbook 'Eat Your Greens' *REVIEW*

This month's cookbook from Parragon is called Eat Your Greens, and is priced at £6. 

It was a relief to receive another cookbook full of healthy and wholesome recipes, rather than a book full of sweet treats tempting me to the dark side - I'm trying hard to eat loads of plant-based foods full of goodness, rather than processed foods which have questionable nutritional value, and make me feel, well, rubbish. 

At the weekend we had a "cheat" ready meal dinner, and boy did I regret it! We'd chosen a Ken Hom Chicken Chow Mein meal, which tasted really nice, but after eating it I got the severest case of 'wheat belly' I've ever suffered from  - within 15 minutes of eating the food I looked like I was 6 months pregnant! It was horrendous. I was bloated and gassy, my stomach was hard and sore, and it lasted all evening. It just goes to show how much my body has changed, and how it now reacts to a lot of starchy white flour. I still have white flour in my diet in small quantities - the odd slice of white bread, a small portion of white pasta if wholemeal isn't available etc. But my diet is no longer made up of mostly starchy carbs, and I think my body is thanking me for it. 

The dreaded wheat belly! 

So, thankfully, my lovely new shiny cookbook is full to bursting with yummy green recipes using left green veggies such as kale and spinach (two of my favourites).

The book explains why greens are so good for us, and which greens are best for cooking, which are best used raw in salads - and how to cook each one to perfection. So, a handy starting point to anybody newly introducing greens to their diets. 

Recipe wise, the book is split up into four sections:

-Light Bites - 15 mouth watering ideas such as Buckwheat Pancakes with Spinach & Feta, Lentil & Chard soup, and Rocket, White Bean & Tomato Bruschetta. 

-Mighty Mains - 12 main courses using greens as the star ingredient such as the wonderfully simple Kale, Lemon & Chive Linguine, or the exciting New Potato Pizza with Spinach & Pancetta. 

-A Bit on the Side - 13 scintillating side dishes from Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts with Almonds, to Spicy Pak Choi with Sesame Sauce - there's a delicious accompaniement idea for every meal. I particularly like the sound of the Steamed Greens with Lemon and Coriander. 

-Green Juices - 8 fabulous green juice recipes to cure every ache and ailment from a thirst rehydrating Lettuce & Kiwi Quencher, to Rocket, Apple & Ginseng Refresher- if you've never juiced before this book will be a fun starting point for you to have a play with drinking your greens as well as eating. 

Putting it to the Test

As ever, I wanted to put the book through its paces. So, after having a good read through the recipes I decided to try out two recipes from the 'Light Bites' section for a leisurely weekend brunch. I invited round my lovely in laws, who are equally just as 'foodie', but also health-conscious as we are - I knew they wouldn't miss the fried bacon and the sausages pooling in their own grease - and would appreciate the good quality, healthy ingredients, cooked simply.

Our brunch menu was:

Kale Potato Cakes with Poached Eggs

and a

Spinach & Pine Nut Frittata

Both recipes were easy to follow, and used mostly ingredients I already buy in my weekly shop. The potato cakes were made up of unpeeled cooked potatoes, kale, spring onions, dill seeds and lemon rind, as well as a knob of butter and some vegetable oil. The frittata contained 8 eggs, shallots, garlic, toasted pine nuts, chilli flakes and grated parmesan cheese. Mmmmmm!

I'm pleased to report both the potato cakes and the frittata were a big hit...there were clean plates all round! The meal worked perfectly for a weekend brunch - but each recipe would be a great addition to any light lunch or dinner too. They are both truly delicious, healthy and versatile recipes. A fabulous way to Eat Your Greens (do you see what I did there?). 

The spinach and pine nut frittata hot from the grill...

The perfect partners: potato cakes and frittata for a weekend brunch

There's nothing quite like a perfectly poached egg...

What's your favourite way of cooking eggs? Are you a perfect poacher or just fabulous at fried, do you make sensational scrambled, or are you a boisterous boiler? Poached eggs are my absolute favourite, and I have to say I'm pretty darned good at them now. A dash of vinegar in the water, and a 3 minute timer is the key for me! 

What have you been cooking up this week? I'd love to know. 

Bye for now

Mrs B


To find out more about books from Parragon you can join them on their social media platforms:

Facebook: Parragon Books
Twitter: @parragonbooks
Pinterest: parragonbooks
Instagram: @parragonbooks

Disclaimer: I received this product from the publisher for free. However, they have not paid me for this review, and they do not exercise any editorial control over my review or anything else on this site.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Rhinoplasty Surgery Explained: Would you go under the knife for a new nose?

I have hated my nose since I can remember. Well, my nose and my chin actually! I used to joke that it felt as if my nose and chin each curved round so much that they almost meet each other in the middle! I've always felt like my nose dominates my face, it is wide and to me just feels like a big comedy triangle stuck in the middle of my face! 

As a teenager I built up a real complex about it, and it made me unhappy, but as I have gotten older and wiser I have learned to live with my dislike of those particular facial features, and accentuate the features I do like, such as my eyes and my cheekbones. 

I have always said that if I won the lottery/came into money that I would undergo surgery to change my nose, to make it smaller, less imposing, 'prettier', but as I age, as I mature, as my responsibilities build, and certainly since becoming a parent, those silly niggles about my body seem to fade, and the thought of putting myself through unnecessary surgery for cosmetic reasons seems somehow irresponsible. My issues with my nose make me feel silly and shallow. Especially since I am now facing the very real prospect of necessary surgery on my back (which scares me). 

Whether I ever decide to have a nose job (rhinoplasty) depends on so many factors, mainly money and my own internal dilemma - Would it be a shallow and selfish thing to do? Would I still look like me? What if I didn't like my new nose either? What if something went wrong? Would I get addicted to cosmetic procedures and want to change more about my appearance? So many questions...! 

I do know that my reasons for disliking my nose are very personal, and come from myself, rather than anyone else ever having said anything to me about it. I don't think I've ever had a derogatory remark about my nose from anyone else, it's one of those things that you notice about yourself because you look in the mirror every day, but no one else ever acknowledges. 

One thing I do know is that if I ever did decide to have the surgery I would want to know absolutely every detail about the procedure, I'd want to know about the healing and aftercare, and I'd want an idea of what the finished article would look like, way before I had the actual surgery itself. 

Here is a basic guide to rhinoplasty, it will give you some idea of what to expect should you ever undergo the procedure...

Rhinoplasty Surgery Explained

Rhinoplasty – plastic surgery of the nose – is a very common procedure. It’s often performed to change the size or shape of the nose to make it fit in with your other features better. This includes making it smaller or larger or changing the shape of the tip, bridge, and nostrils.
The surgery also can help if you have trouble breathing through your nose because of structural defects such as a deviated septum. Sometimes both of these goals – medical and cosmetic - are achieved in the same procedure.

Before surgery

As you consider rhinoplasty, your doctor may discuss the following with you:
  • Your goals
You and doctor will discuss why you want to have the surgery, and what your goals are. You’ll need to make sure that the results you want are achievable. Your doctor may take photos of your nose from different angles and use a computer program to digitally manipulate them to show you what your results are likely to be. You may also be able to look at some other patients’ “before and after” photos.
  • Your medical history
Your doctor will discuss your medical history with you, including any breathing problems or other health issues you may have and any medications you take. He or she will perform a physical examination and laboratory tests like blood work. 
If you and your doctor decide that rhinoplasty is the right option for you, here's an in-depth look at the surgery and what to expect

During the surgery

You’ll be sedated during your surgery, either using local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia. With local anesthesia, you’ll be groggy but not completely asleep, and with general anesthesia, you’ll be unconscious. Your doctor will talk with you about the best anesthesia option for your particular case.
Rhinoplasty can be done inside the nose or through a small incision at the base of your nose. The skin that covers your nasal bones and cartilage is raised to allow your surgeon access to reshape your nose. If the size of your nose is being reduced, bone or cartilage may be removed. Cartilage may also need to be added to certain areas. This cartilage usually comes from the septum – the partition in the middle of your nose.
If you’re having rhinoplasty to correct a deviated septum, the surgeon will realign it so that it’s at the center of your nose. You’ll then have equal airflow through both nostrils.
The structure underlying your nose will be sculpted, skin and tissue will be put back into place, and your incisions will be closed.

After the surgery

After your surgery, you’ll spend some time in a recovery room. You may be able to leave later that same day, or you may have to stay overnight.
You’ll need to rest in bed after your surgery, with your head higher than your chest to help reduce swelling and bleeding. The gauze dressings that your doctor used during surgery may need to stay inside your nose for anywhere from a day to a week after surgery.

You’ll also wear a splint on your nose for about a week to help protect and support it while it heals. You may have some light bleeding and draining during this period. The initial swelling lasts about a week, although you may notice gradual changes for as long as a year as your nose’s appearance continues to refine.

If you have more questions about rhinoplasty or want to find out if the procedure is right for you, contact Cosmetic Surgery Partners


So, what do you think? Would you undergo a cosmetic procedure to enhance your appearance? Do you agree with cosmetic surgery, or is it something you feel strongly against? 

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about your appearance, would you change anything? Or do you embrace your individuality?

I'm learning to love myself and accept my 'quirkiness' - it would be totally boring if we all looked perfect, wouldn't it? I am definitely finding it easier to love myself, to appreciate how amazing my body is (it grew and delivered a tiny human for crying out loud) it is pretty awesome if you ask me...and I might not like my nose very much, but it no longer affects me day to day, and I would have to give surgery an awful lot of thought before going ahead. 

learning to love my individuality

Bye for now

Mrs B 


*This post contains some sponsored material, and a sponsored link. 

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Moose Maple Butter *REVIEW*

Today I'm bringing you a brand new to the UK product that is sure to liven up your weekend breakfasts...

When I heard that Moose Maple Butter existed, I was pretty excited about giving it a try! I was also pretty mad at myself for not coming up with this winning combination. 

Purely and simply it is a delicious mix of Pure Canada No 1 Maple Syrup, fresh British butter and a dash of sea salt - it comes in a big tub ready to spread on your hot crumpets, waffles, toast, croissants, pancakes...the possibilities are endless!

As a huge fan of sweet treat foods such as waffles and pancakes, the prospect of adding something naturally sweet to them instead of lashings of sugary, high fat, processed spreads, was a great one - I'm all for finding natural alternatives when it comes to my food, and am trying to be as health conscious as possible without ruining the enjoyment I get from the food I eat. I've recently made my own natural chocolate & hazelnut spread using raw cacao powder, hazelnuts and maple syrup, and it is utterly delicious, and feels like a really naughty, decadent eat, when it is actually really good for you. The same can be said for Moose Maple Butter - all natural, all delicious. 

Moose Maple Butter originates from the USA and is only available in a few select locations in the UK at the moment...but watch this space, it is being launched nationwide this year!  I'll update you when it is more readily available - but also check out their website and social media pages (links at bottom) for regular news and information regarding the UK launch. 

We have enjoyed our Moose Maple Butter spread over hot spongy crumpets, on homemade waffles with streaky bacon, and I've been having it for breakfast on toast. The balance between sweet and salty is perfect for me: being neither overly sweet or overly salty. The maple after taste is rich and warming, and the butter is unctuous and creamy. It really is a heavenly combination.

Moose Maple Butter melting into a hot spongy crumpet

What an enticing plate of deliciousness: Waffle with Moose Maple Butter & streaky bacon, crumpet with Moose Maple Butter, and another crumpet with my homemade, all natural cacao & hazelnut spread! 

For a 10g serving of Moose Maple Butter it is 72 calories, which is on par with most salted butters on the market - this is brilliant for a calorie counter like me! 

For more information about Moose Maple Butter head over to their website or social media channels:

Moose Maple Butter website
Moose Maple Butter  on Facebook 
Moose Maple Butter on Twitter @FarrahMoose

Bye for now

Mrs B


Disclaimer: I was sent a preview tub of Moose Maple Butter for the purpose of this review - all opinions, words and images are my own, excluding the Moose Maple Butter logo. 

Say ‘Hello’ to a Healthy Lifestyle with Health Food Stores *SPONSORED* & My New Favourite Cookbook 'Deliciously Ella'

With heart disease and diabetes rates soaring, many of us are wondering what we can do to protect ourselves. While there are many medications that a doctor could prescribe, there are alternative ways to reduce your risk. 

One of the easiest, and yet hardest ways of doing so is by adopting a plant based diet. This is an easy step to take because it just involves food. It is difficult because it requires a commitment to changing the way you eat, and habits can be difficult to both create and break. 

There are many benefits of eating a plant based diet, including some that are not heart related. 
  • Research indicates that adopting a plant based diet is extremely effective in preventing and treating type two diabetes.
  • Hypertension can be brought under control with the adoption of this way of eating.
  • Enormous amounts of research has shown that this way of eating goes a long way in preventing heart disease. In fact a recent study showed that people who eat eight or more servings daily of fruits and vegetables reduced their risk of developing heart disease by 30%.
  • Have a trimmer figure by eating more plants. Vegetarians tend to eat fewer calories, and while you do not have to be vegetarian to embrace this diet, eating more plant based meals will automatically cut the amount of calories that you are eating.
  • Plants are loaded with fiber, which prevents constipation, as well as lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It also keeps you feeling fuller for lengthy periods of time which aids in weight loss.
  • Fruits and vegetables that are brightly colored like kale and carrots are full of antioxidants that can delay or prevent macular degeneration, and may help improve vision.
  • Animal products have saturated fats which can clog pores and contribute to an oily complexion. Plants contain many vitamins and nutrients that improve your skin, and give you a clearer and brighter glow.
With so many benefits it is hard to say no to this way of eating. Some people have a hard time transitioning to a plant centered diet, and do not want to give up many of the meals that they have grown accustomed to. 

To get the benefits of a plant based diet, realise that you do not have to give up the foods that you love completely. Most of the dishes that are popular in a typical western diet are filled with saturated fats and cholesterol. Think of them as feast foods, the foods that you eat for special occasions, such as birthdays. 

Another way to transition is to replace certain ingredients in dishes that you love with healthier alternatives. For example you could try making replacing the beef mince in a chilli with a mixture of beans, or the meat in your curry with vegetables such as potato and cauliflower.

Finding some health foods is difficult in a regular supermarket, so shopping at a health food stores online like Evergreen can really be helpful. For example, instead of having meat based gravy on your potatoes and carrots, try a great vegetarian version like Marigold's powdered vegetarian gravy. 

If you are adopting a plant based diet to treat conditions like heart disease, you could also try various herbal supplements which you can find at health food stores online. Evergreen stocks quite a few of these products, including ones with CoQ10, which is proven to help.  

There are also several books on the market that will give you even more information, with most being sold at a health food store online. I can whole-heartedly recommend food-blogger Ella Woodward's beautiful plant-based, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free hardback, full colour recipe book 'Deliciously Ella' currently priced at just £7.99 on Amazon.

Ella Woodward's new book 'Deliciously Ella'.

Ella embarked on her strict diet change after being diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome while at university, and suffering horrendous side effects from the illness. After trying conventional medicine, which didn't seem to help, she switched to this new plant-based diet and found it helped to eliminate most of her symptoms! She has never looked back and encourages her readers to embrace plant-based foods and cooking into their diets too, even if only on a small scale. 

Her book is not only full to bursting with exciting plant-based recipes such as sweet potato brownies, and key lime pie, but it also gives you all the information you need about buying, storing, cooking and enjoying plant-based foods and the health benefits you can expect. 

So far I have tried making her homemade almond butter, cacao & hazelnut spread, almond & chia balls, black and kidney bean chilli, and her potato and cauliflower curry - all of which have been so delicious and filling. Her recipes, and plant-based recipes in general are easy to fit in to a normal balanced diet, the changes you make to your eating don't need to be as drastic as going completely vegan, gluten free, or dairy free in order to reap the benefits. 

I'm excited to try more of Ella's recipes, and urge you to give them a try too! 

I'm starting to embrace more plant-based eating thanks to 'Deliciously Ella'! 

I will update you on how I'm getting on with more of Ella's plant-based recipes, and would love to hear from you if you are also giving them a try.

Here's to a happier, healthier and more exciting way of eating! 

Take control of your health by watching what you eat, because you are worth it.

Bye for now

Mrs B 


This post contains sponsored material and a sponsored link. I do wholeheartedly believe in adopting plant-based eating habits to improve health, and have been using the 'Deliciously Ella' book for a few weeks. I purchased the book myself after recommendations from online friends and combined the sponsored material for Evergreen with my own words.