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Thursday, February 28, 2013

What's In My Bag This Week?

The final issue of Grazia Magazine, sad. I don't read any magazines consistently but I've always enjoyed Grazia when I've picked it up and it will definitely be missed.

My new Personalised Planner. I only received this last week but have been busy filling in all my current plans.

Soy Crisps are my current on-the-go snack of choice, a small tub of these lasts me about a week. Carrying a snack with you saves so much money for those mid-afternoon hunger pangs.

Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter from Lush. I've been taking epic care of my cuticles this week, it was getting to the point where they just weren't softening so I've been treating them with love and respect while letting them grow. Growing out your cuticles may sound weird but sometimes it's the best thing for them (even if I can't wait to cut them back again).

Kora Organics Energising Facial Mist. I've only had this for a couple of days but I'm enjoying it so far. I use it as a toner at night after I cleanse my face and also to refresh my make up during the day.

Dior Creme de Rose lip balm is the newest edition to my balm stash and I really like it but I've only had it for a week and I've already hit pan. How annoying..

Chanel La Favorite is my lipstick of choice at the moment. It's a gorgeous coral that leans slightly towards a tangerine colour. It's the perfect shade for these last days of summer.

NOTD: OPI 'Stay The Night' Liquid Sand - Review!

I'm a fan of super glossy cream nail polishes. I don't wear matte, suede or satin finishes and shimmer rarely finds a place to land on my nails. But, being the curious person I am, when OPI released their new 'Liquid Sand' finish in the Mariah Carey collection I jumped straight on it.

Stay The Night is a dark grey liquid sand with a pinkish red fine glitter. It applies just like any other nail polish but as it sets you start to see the 'sand' appear on the surface. It's a little thicker than a standard nail polish but is incredibly easy to apply and dries quickly.

I used two coats to achieve the desired Liquid Sand finish and I have to say that it's actually pretty nice. But personally, I need glossy nails. I wasted no time in throwing on a top coat to all but one of my nails to test out the wear.

Usually I get about 3-4 days of wear before I need to change my nail polish, as soon as there’s a chip, scratch or dent I will remove it all. Stay The Night went for 7 solid days before it slightly chipped on a couple of the corners, I never get that kind of wear from a standard nail polish. The nails with top coat and the nail without all chipped at around the same time, the top coat made no difference to the wear time.

I have to say that while I enjoyed this polish without the top coat, it's such a show off shade when it's glossy. I had countless people asking what nail polish it was or just generally complimenting the colour and shimmer in the polish.

The only downfall was that this polish was such a pain to remove, worse than any of the glitter nail polishes I've tried, it took a good 15 minutes of scrubbing before I had clean nails.

This polish was a pain in the neck to photograph, I tried indoors and outdoors but I couldn't get a good photo of the dimension of the polish, so I stole one.

The picture at the top of this post is mine, the picture below was taken from The Polish-Aholic, with a top coat and without. 
I'm not overly interested in the other Liquid Sand shades available at the moment but if more are released and there's one that appeals to me I would be happy to buy another.

This would be an excellent finish for anyone who's interested in trying matte nail polish but wants something a bit more interesting.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Haul! Kora Organics

I've been looking at the Kora Organics line for a while now (one of my 2012 resolutions was to find a more natural skin care routine) but was hesitant to buy it because I'm allergic to lavender and most of the products are filled with it.

I tested a few of the lavender-free products on my arms and didn't have a reaction so I went ahead and decided to give three of the products a try.

The first one I bought was the Cream Cleanser for normal, dry or sensitive skin. I have oily sensitive skin but I always opt for the sensitive skin products. This one does have lavender in it but it's almost at the bottom of the ingredients list. I tested it out on my wrist and didn't have a reaction to it so I went back to the pharmacy and took a sample of it to test on my jaw line. I still didn't have a reaction so I figured it was pretty safe. I presume that because I'm washing it off pretty quickly it's not having a chance to irritate my skin. I've used it a couple of times and am liking it so far but I'll do a full review soon.

The next product is the Exfoliating Cream for all skin types. I use an enzyme exfoliator every 4 days and a regular exfoliator at the two day period in between (so I exfoliate every 2 days). This one has no lavender in it (yay!).

Then I chose the Energising Citrus Mist for all skin types. This was the only mist without lavender (which was really the entire reason I chose this one).

I adore the packaging of these products and they look great on my bathroom shelf. I'm not a fan of the scent of any of the products but it doesn't linger, once you wash it off the scent goes with it.

I'll do a full review on all of these products when I've used them more.

Have you ever used any of the Kora Organics products? If so, let me know below!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Healthy Haul - LovingEarth.net

I stumbled upon Loving Earth while browsing the internet for Kale Chip recipes, they captured my eye (and my taste buds) immediately.

Kale is a nutrient-dense type of cabbage that goes crunchy when cooked or dehydrated, it's a healthy alternative to potato chips. Making kale chips can be tricky because they can quickly turn from 'oh wow these are delicious' to 'holy bitter batman' if you don't prepare it correctly.

But Loving Earth decided to take the guess work out of preparing and seasoning your kale chips, you can buy it already made from their online store along with a variety of other wonderful snacks.

This is a haul post but I'll review all of the food for you once I've had a chance to try it.

Yellow Kale Chips
Flavoured with organic carrots and raw cashews, organic coriander and organic olive oil

Red Kale Chips
Flavoured with raw cashews, organic carrots and their BBQ spice blend to season.

Salad Sprinkle
A combination of Kale, Styrian Pumpkin Seeds, Raw Cashews, Carrot, Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Sweet Paprika, Tomato Powder, Cayenne Pepper and Coriander Powder.
I eat a lot of salad and am always looking for new ways to spice the, up.

I'm not a huge chocolate fan but everything from Loving Earth just looks so good I figured I had give these a try:

Almond & Purple Corn Raw Dark Chocolate
Made with single origin Certified Organic Raw Cacao (62%) from Peru and sweetened with Organic Agave Syrup, the chocolate bar contains Organic Almonds, Vanilla Beans, Purple Corn Powder and Sea Salt.

Lucima & Maca Raw Light Chocolate
Made with single origin Certified Organic Raw Cacao (60%) from Peru and sweetened with Organic Agave Syrup, this bar also has Organic Lucuma Powder, Organic Maca Powder and Sea Salt to flavour.

All of these products are Cane Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Fair Trade, Dairy Free, Low GI and Vegan.

Check back in a couple of days for reviews on each of the products!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

NEW PRODUCT! Nivea Lip Butters (Review)

I adore a good lip balm, my lips chap easily and I am always looking for products to keep them hydrated throughout the day. I've been a long-time fan of Niveas Essential Care Lip Balm Stick and have used it on and off for the past few years.

It seems like most brands are diving into the 'Lip Butter' trend with all guns blazing at the moment but I was glad to see an attempt by a brand that has a good history with making lip balms.

Nivea released four lip butters and I have three of them. Smooth Kiss is an unscented, unflavoured lip butter, Raspberry Rose Kiss has a strong raspberry scent with a slight hint of rose and a mildly sweet taste, Vanilla and Macadamia Kiss has a creamy vanilla scent with a mildly nutty sweet taste. The other lip butter released was Caramel Cream Kiss.

The scents are really nice, they don't smell cheap or over-fragranced.

After I moved on from my initial disappointment that these lip balms contain petroleum, (a common lip balm ingredient but one I try to avoid) I gave them all a two day spin to test out their power.

All of the lip butters performed in the same way. The texture is fairly thick and creamy but not at all sticky, they all apply clear and the scent and taste wears off fairly quickly.

They moisturised quite well but once they had absorbed there was no lingering effects. They took about an hour to absorb completely (a normal time frame) but I then needed to apply the balm again, it didn't keep my lips hydrated. I like my lip balms to keep my lips hydrated for at least another hour after it has absorbed. This could also be because my lips aren't used to using petroleum based products.

Ultimately, the lip butters are decent for a non-treatment balm. The ingredients are pretty typical of a lip balm but the creamy texture and scents will make these more favoured. However I'll continue using my Nivea Essential Care lip balm on a day-to-day basis. I find it more nourishing and it doesn't contain petroleum.

Each lip butter contains 16.7g of product, by comparison the Nivea Essential Care contains only 4.8g of product. Those in the US can find them at Rite Aid, they will be released in Australia in mid-April with a price tag around $7.

NOTD: Essie 'Damsel In A Dress'

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I'm not really a fan of shimmer nail polish but when I saw 'Damsel In A Dress' by Essie my heart melted into a pile of shimmering purple goodness. 

Damsel In A Dress is a deep, incredibly rich purple with the most beautiful micro-shimmer, making the polish look almost metallic. The texture is smooth and applies evenly. Two coats gives an opaque finish and lets the colour really show off how beautiful it is. 

It wore for 4 days on me without chipping (which is typical wear on me) and the finish was still perfect when I took it off, there wasn't any fading or dull areas like there can be with some micro-glitter polishes. 

I adore this polish, it will definitely grace my fingernails again soon. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hummus! (Don't knock it 'till you try it)

I used to think there was nothing worse than a mouthful of Hummus, that was until I tried a home made Hummus that changed my life (I'm very dramatic when it comes to food). Real Hummus is nothing like the aerated, dairy based froth you buy from the supermarket. It's thick, creamy, delicious and you owe it to your taste buds to give it another try.

Not only is it tasty but it's incredibly easy to make, you just need these ingredients and a food processor.

1 tin/jar of canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, crushed (use less if you don't like a strong garlic flavour)
2 tablespoons of Tahini paste (found in the health food section of most supermarkets)
Tahini can separate and become thick at the bottom of the gar and thin on top, just give it a stir and you'll restore the creamy consistency.
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice
A pinch of salt
50-100ml of Water

Throw everything except the water into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Add the water little by little until you reach your desired consistency, I usually use about 75ml of water.

I'll put it in an air-tight container and it stores well in the refrigerator for about a week.

So, what can I do with my hummus?

Well, it's a brilliant vegetable dip (I personally like to eat it with carrot sticks), or try some light wafer crackers if you really want the full hummus experience, I pack it into small containers and take it to work with me for lunch. The protein and full flavour is a great midday pick-me-up.

It's also good as a sandwich spread instead of using butter or mayonnaise.

You can warm it and use it as a 'gravy' over meat or other proteins.

Stir it through salads instead of using oily dressings.

Why is it good for me?

Chickpeas are packed with protein, which has the obvious nutritional benefits but it also means that you're going to feel full for longer. This makes it the perfect afternoon snack to hold you together until dinner.

The lemon juice helps keep your metabolism active and working well throughout the day, resulting in higher levels of fat burning and a generally active body.

Tahini contains healthy, good fatty acids and very little saturated fat. It contains phosphorus, an essential mineral for strong bones and healthy teeth and also helps stabilise your kidney function.

Try it out, let me know what you think and tell me your favourite way to eat it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Apple and Cinnamon Muffins!

Give me a muffin and I am your new best friend, make it healthy and we're literally going to be BFFs for life.

These muffins are wholemeal, sugar free and only use a tiny bit of fat. They're packed with flavour and are a perfect snack or dessert. You can make them gluten free by exchanging the wholemeal flour for rice flour. This recipe makes 12 so there will be plenty to share (or keep for yourself..)

You'll need:

1 ½ cups wholemeal plain flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking of powder
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of Stevia (I use Natvia)
2 eggs
60g light butter, softened to room temperature
⅔ cup of light milk (or soy milk)
2 cups of grated apple

Firsly, preheat the oven to 180˚c and prepare your muffin tin, I choose to spray it with a little extra light virgin olive oil, you can you liners if you prefer.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and stevia together and stir until combined.

Then in a separate bowl beat the eggs, milk and butter until combined.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and add the grated apple, then stir gently until just combined. The less you stir, the fluffier the muffins will be (fluffy is the goal).

Distribute the mixture evenly into your 12 pans and bake for about 15 minutes.

Hello amazing muffins!

Why are they good for me?

Apples are a good source of calcium and are wonderful at detoxing the body. They're also packing a whole lot of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin A to boost immunity.

Wholemeal flour is low in fat, a good source of protein, vitamins (particularly the B vitamins), thiamine and niacin. It has less calories than white flour.

Let me know if you try these out and what you think of them!

MSG (and all its woes)

Monosodium glutamate or 'MSG' (labeled as 'Flavour 621' on packaged food) is a common food additive, mostly found in savoury snacks, sauces, seasonings and fast foods. MSG enhances salty flavours and it's favoured among junk food brands because of it's lack of after-taste and wide availability.

If you're unaware of MSG, it's almost guaranteed that you have foods in your pantry with large amounts of the additive. Soups, soup mix, gravy, packaged seasoning, flavoured snacks (such as flavoured rice crackers), instant noodles, preserved meat (such as bacon bits), sweeteners (such as nutrisweet), some brown sugars, tomato sauce, mustard, salad dressings, potato chips and corn chips are all wildly popular and more than likely contain large amounts of MSG. McDonalds and KFC thrive on the use of MSG in their salty foods.

 It kind of looks like rice when dry. It dissolves in water.

Different people have different reactions to MSG, some people may not notice anything different about their body or, if you're like me, you start feeling ill straight away. The most common reactions to consuming MSG are headaches, nausia, flushing, sweating, heart palpitations, nervousness, weakened eye sight, lethargy and chest pain. There are also links to suggest that MSG can damage your metabolic rate, causing you to gain weight and experience uncontrollable lethargy.

But here are the symptoms you're more likely to notice

MSG stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin. Your body produces insulin to break down carbohydrates however MSG produces more insulin than is needed for the carbohydrates you're consuming. Why is this bad? Excess insulin makes your blood sugar drop drastically which then makes you hungry. Very hungry.

Have you ever sworn to yourself that you were only going to eat a small bowl of those nacho cheese Doritos you hide in the back of the pantry only to go back for another bowl, then another bowl, then throwing the bowl in the sink and eating the rest straight from the bag? It's because they contain MSG which produces excess insulin which makes you feel hungry.

The same can be said after eating a bowl of MSG laced soup or Chinese take away. You're still hungry when you've finished it, even if you've already eaten too much.

This is obviously a terrible thing for maintaining a healthy diet but it's even worse if you're trying to lose weight.

What can cutting MSG out of my diet do for me?

It depends on how intolerant you are to MSG. You'll be more able to control your hunger and choose how much food you consume straight away. Your energy and metabolic levels will rise and you'll instantly notice these positive effects.

If you have more of an intolerance, which a lot of people do without even realizing you'll notice more drastic improvements in your general health. I no longer suffer from headaches after eating and I don't feel excessively lethargic during the day. My eye sight has improved dramatically (which is linked to lethargy), so much that I no longer wear reading glasses.

How can I avoid MSG if it's everywhere?

Check your packets. MSG is listed in the ingredients list as 'Flavour 621', all you have to do is look for that number on your label and put it back on the shelf when you find it.

Soups, sauces and dressings often contain MSG, but not all of them. You can easily find alternatives in your supermarket. Look out for anything marked 'Low Sodium' or products boasting about 'More Flavour', these products are usually drowning in MSG.

Anything that is artificially flavoured with 'meat' (such as potato chips) will most likely contain MSG. Fast foods most likely contain MSG (McDonalds and KFC are the main culprits), but we don't like to eat that food anyway so it's no biggie!

Here's the challenge:

Go MSG Free for a week and report back with any improvements you've seen in your body and health. Did you discover that you had an intolerance? Did your appetite reduce? Or did you see no changes at all? Let me know in the comments below!

Better than your grandmothers Bolognese

Bolognese is my comfort food, we have a crazy love affair like no other. I make it about once a fortnight and always make enough for 4 servings and will freeze it or keep in my refrigerator to add to meals during the week. The beauty of this dish is in it's simplicity, there are only a few ingredients to let the key flavours come through.

Traditionally, you serve Bolognese over pasta but seeing as one serve of pasta but if you're trying to lower your carb intake there are plenty of other options. I will often steam a broccoli and some diced pumpkin then put a generous amount of Bolognese over the top and a little sprinkle of cheese. I also love eating Bolognese over a baked potato. Or, mix some red kidney beans and butter beans into the sauce and you have a delicious 'Chilli' style dish.

You need:

400g of Mince (I'm using vegetarian Quorn mince, Linda McCartney Vegetarian Mince is another option, alternatively you can use a lean pork or beef mince)
1 medium sized brown onion, diced.
4 cloves of garlic, minced (or you can use preminced garlic)
1 jar of basic pasta sauce (I like Raguletto Classic Bolognese sauce)
1/4 cup oregano, fresh is best but dried is fine.
2-4 button mushrooms, sliced (optional)
Olive Oil and Water

Heat a teaspoon or two of olive oil in your saucepan and saute the garlic and onion until slightly browned. 

Add the mince and the garlic and stir over medium heat until almost cooked (if you're using animal mince, stir until cooked through).

Pour in your jar of pasta sauce, then fill the jar halfway with water, put the lid back on, shake, then pour it into the saucepan. Give it a good stir and let simmer for 1 minute. Add the oregano and mushrooms, stir and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

 All done, amazingly easy (and amazingly delicious) Bolognese.

Why is it good for me?

Tomatoes are rich in niacin, folate and vitamin B6, C and A that are associated with the reduction of heart disease. One study found that women who ate 7 servings of tomatoes a week had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. 

They're also a natural anti-inflammatory so they can help ease pain from exercise and also boost your immunity. 

Tomatoes are also incredibly low in calories, making them a perfect base for any dish. 

Protein (in the case, found in meat or meat replacement products) is what builds your body. It gives you energy, helps with tissue repair and creates strong, healthy bodies.

Give it a go, let me know what you think and if you make any changes to the recipe!