Sunday, 19 October 2014

All about oils

I'm a big fan of using oils, it's a total misconception that they make you oily - quite the opposite!

One thing I did learn at school in science is that “like dissolves like”, so if anything, the best thing to mop up excess oil is oil.

The problem is that there are now so many 'miracle oils' being marketed at us - it can be hard not to get confused, and to truly know what is best for your skin.

My current faves (pictured above) are CND Solar Oil for my hands and nails, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse for my body, L'occitaine repairing hair oil on my dry ends, and Una Brennan Vitamin C+ Brighten skin Renew Cleansing Oil I use to double cleanse my face in the evening - if I've been wearing makeup.

As much as I love these pre-blended products, I also like the idea of mixing up my own blends too, but there are so many that sometimes it's easy to forget what each is specifically good for, and also to think beyond the obvious i.e coconut, argan, and tea tree.

Instead I'd like to try out some of the less commonly used like pumpkin seed, sesame, and Seabuckthorn - and maybe you would too?

So with that in mind here's a little bit of research I've done to try and help us all work more oils into our beauty routines.

Pumpkin Seed: Similar to coconut oil, pumpkin seed oil offers up a trifecta of benefits for your hair, skin, and diet. It's loaded with all the nutrients that your hair could ever want, like protein, omega-6 fatty acids, zinc, and iron. Plus the high amounts of zinc and vitamin E also improve skin tone, help wounds heal more rapidly, fight acne, and help with skin renewal

Seabuckthorn Berry Oil: This special super-critical extract balances and harmonizes the lipid layers of the skin. It is beneficial for all skin types. Sea buckthorn gets to the root cause of imbalances in the skin by going deep within the lipid layers and healing from the inside out.

Argan: Probably the most popular right now, this oil is packed with vitamin E and essential fatty acids, making it a great moisturizer for hair, skin, and nails. In its natural state, it has a warm, nutty scent that complements any DIY hair recipe.

Avocado: Rubbing down in avocado oil can give you the same omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants that you get when you eat the fruit.

Coconut: Coconuts are packed with protein, vitamin E, and fatty acids that can be absorbed into the skin easily. It also has antibacterial properties. The oil is solid at room temperature, making it easy for travel and a good base for your DIY lotion recipes.

Grape seed: For women with acne-prone skin, grape-seed oil is one of the best picks because of its astringent properties. It contains linoleic acid, which has healing and anti-inflammatory properties. It's quickly absorbed into the skin (and hair) and delivers antioxidants deep into the cell tissue.

Jojoba: Jojoba is naturally similar to human sebum. Therefore women with oily skin and scalp can benefit the most from a moisturizer with jojoba to help regulate the epidermis's natural production of oil.

Olive: Antioxidant-rich olive oil is the ideal DIY-recipe ingredient for women with dry skin and eczema. This heartier liquid is also a good choice for women with aging skin because it contains vitamins A and E.

Sesame: Bacteria don't stand a chance against sesame oil. For centuries, it has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to counteract high cholesterol and viruses. This should be your go-to base oil to remedy skin irritation like wind- and sunburn.

Sweet almond: Almond oil is a natural way to clear dead skin cells. You can apply the elixir to get a more even skin tone and remedy dark spots. However, take note that almond oil should not be used by those with nut allergies.

Carrot seed: The beta-carotene and vitamin A in carrot-seed oil help stimulate cell growth and detox the skin. You can also slather it on to protect your skin from environmental damage (UV rays, pollution) as well as to keep moisture in.

Castor:  This oil has potent anti-inflammatory properties, but is also healing and cleansing. Castor Oil is the best oil for drawing, cleansing, and purging oil from your pores. It also great at helping to promote hair growth - the oil is very thick and can be used to seal in moisture for coarser hair types.

Evening primrose: Eczema sufferers have probably heard of the moisturizing effects of evening primrose. The fatty acids found naturally in this liquid are proven to help soothe itching and inflammation.

Rose hip: Expectant mothers, this one's for you! Rose-hip oil has vitamin C and lycopene to gently rejuvenate skin and help maintain elasticity, making it a great remedy for stretch marks.

Tea tree: In recent years, tea-tree oil has become popular for its infection-fighting power. Acne, nail fungus, dandruff, lice, and insect bites can all be alleviated by a tea-tree poultice because it naturally kills bacteria.

Calendula: Acne-prone skin can benefit from a mix made with calendula oil. It can reduce redness and swelling, in addition to being an anti-inflammatory and free-radical fighter. You can also use it to minimize undereye bags.

Chamomile: Azulene is the main component in chamomile that helps calm the skin. It's a key ingredient to soothe irritated areas like psoriasis, spider veins, acne scars, eczema, and sunburns.

Lavender: Is one of the most healing essential oils to use in skin care. It is therapeutic and restorative to the skin in many ways. Lavender is very effective in the treatment of burns. It is also a natural antibiotic and antiseptic. Lavender's anti-inflammatory actions promote healing and prevent scarring. It balances oil production, helps even skin tone, and is beneficial for all skin types.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Potato, Cavolo Nero, Rocket and Pesto Pasta

Tom seemed to whip up this mid-week dinner out of nothing, and it was a surprise hit with Ernest. 

It's what we call - in our household - a store cupboard ready steady cook. 

Here's what Tom has to say…

"Cavolo Nero is deemed the king of cabbage and i had some left over from a roast at the weekend. Ernest was eating it raw before i even started cooking it! I also had a handful of rocket left over from a salad which I finds adds a nice peppery twist to it."


Serves 2-3

300g Cavolo Nero, washed
200g Potatoes, peeled and diced
180g Pasta
1 Jar pesto
50g Parmesan, grated
handful basil leaves, torn
Extra Virgin Olive oil, do drizzle
Salt and Pepper

Preparation method

1. Blanch cavolo nero in salted boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with slotted spoon and slice when cool enough.

2. Add potatoes to boiling water and boil for 10 minutes.

3. Add pasta. Boil for a further 10 minutes.

4. Drain, saving a cup of water. Add potatoes and pasta back to pan with pesto, parmesan, cavolo nero, rocket.  

5. Add saved cup of water to pesto jar, shake and add to pan. Stir lightly. Season.

6. Serve, with basil scattered on top, more parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Monday, 13 October 2014

My Wedding Beauty Favourites

Every bride wants to look beyond beautiful on her big day, and these little gems helped me on my quest for perfection.

On my lips I wore Lancome Rouge In Love lipstick in shade 106M Jolis Matins - it's a great long wear lipstick, and I really liked this soft coral colour. You need something with real staying power - as you won't get many opportunities for touch ups. 

My makeup artist applied Airbase foundation using an airbrush - it's a feather light, long lasting make-up that requires no touch ups, and photographs beautifully.

I contoured lightly with my favourite Burberry bronzer in shade No. 04 Summer Glow, and highlighted with Nars Machu Picchu sparkling pressed powder - it's a universally flattering shade - which can be pared with any blush.

I wore lots of individual lashes, using my failsafe Duo adhesive - it's best to avoid strip lashes as you run the risk of them lifting off if you cry - which lets face it is pretty inevitable!

My signature everyday scent is Chloé eau de parfum, so for my wedding day I thought it would be sweet to wear Love Chloé, which is very similar- but has a more sensual feel.

Something I've always done, but that I'd recommend to any bride would be to start taking Omega fish oils. They're fantastic for your skin and hair. Ideally you should start taking them religiously at least 12-6 months before the big day. They help with inflammation, acne and various other skin problems. 

Nobody tends to drink enough water and while this is the oldest trick in the book, it’s there for a reason. 

If you do nothing else, increase the amount of water you drink. Aim for two litres a day. You'll see the difference almost immediately.

In the run-up to my wedding I stepped this up a level by drinking copious amounts of nettle tea. This stuff is amazing. It's a natural diuretic, so it'll help flush out excess fluids - I found it to be very slimming.

Speaking of slimming, get your hands on some Epsom Salts. Basically, you add one or two mugs to a hot bath. It helps to draw out toxins, taking 1 or 2 of these baths a week will speed up your weight loss.

Once I was in my dress I  applied some St Tropez Gold Skin Illuminator along my arms, shoulders, and décolleté - it's a creamy shimmering lotion that adds definition, and a subtle glow.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Alphabetti spaghetti

It's so easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to feeding a toddler. Tom and I are trying to make a real effort to feed Ernest a wide a variety of textures and flavours - in a fun and friendly way.

We sit down together as often as we can, and eat what we want him to eat - I think that's really important. 

We encourage him by making positive comments about how much we are enjoying our food, there's a lot of, "Mmm, this is delicious" and "Mmm, lucky Ernie isn't Daddies food great!" 

We'll always try to respect his preferences, but we don't want to fall into the trap of cooking him a completely separate meal from ours.

Hence this grown-up friendly Alphabetti spaghetti. 


Sainsbury's Alphabet shapes - 500g serves 2 adults and 2 toddlers
1 Large potato, peeled and cubed into bite size pieces.
200g Frozen peas
1 Jar pesto
3 Rashers smoked streaky bacon.
50g Freshly grated parmesan
Extra Virgin olive oil
Fresh basil leaves, torn
Salt and Pepper.

Preparation method

1. Chop bacon finely then fry until crispy over a medium - high heat. Reserve.

2. Cook the potato in salted boiling water for 5 mins.

3. Add the pasta and continue to cook for 4-6 minutes.

4. Add the peas and continue to cook for 3 mins.

5. Drain everything, saving some of the water.

6. Mix in the pesto. Add the reserved water to the jar putting the lid back on and give it a shake. Add to pasta. This should give you a nice loose consistency.

7. Mix in parmesan. Season.

8. Serve, scattering bacon bits on top, drizzled with oil, extra parmesan and fresh basil leaves if desired.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Postpartum Nutrition

I remember the first few weeks at home, alone with Ernie, Tom had gone back to work - and I barely got off the sofa - I was somehow surviving on snack-a-jack rice cakes, cold tea, and burnt toast.

Oh how I wish I knew better!

Becoming a mother invariably means you no longer put yourself first anymore, taking care of your baby takes top priority, it's hard to imagine a time when this won't be the case, and often the mere thought of cooking healthy meals seems like one task too many, but getting the right nutrients into your postpartum body - surely in this modern age - needn't be stressful.

Next time, if there is a next time ;p, no matter how challenging sitting down to eat a proper meal can be, it's one thing I would try to do differently.

Going from being heavily pregnant to tending to a newborn is a HUGE transition - and nourishing your body with healthful foods is - what I believe - the key to a quick and healthy recovery.

So, my advice to any mummys-to-be is to consider pre-filling your cupboards, and order a supermarket van full of fresh food post-delivery.

Make it as easy as it can be on yourself to sip, eat and graze on small frequent meals, and be sure to drink plenty of water.

A good trick for this is to set up water stations around the house - especially if you don't have someone on hand to help you. An even easier tip is to invest in a handy water bottle with a sports top - so that you can drink from it whilst lying down, or feeding in a reclining chair - just be sure to keep it filled up.

Plus staying hydrated replenishes the fluids lost after birth and will bolster your milk supply if you’re breastfeeding.

Dedicate a snack section in your fridge - think high-protein, whole-grains, and good fats - including good fats in every meal goes a long, long way - think nuts, nut butters, cheese, houmous, whole-fat organic dairy products, avocado, and coconut oil.

Have a good supply of 9 bars at the ready for when your day - and nutrition - goes off the rails.

There are going to be times like this when you forget to eat, and by the time you've realised that you're starving hungry, it's all to easy to head for the crappy quick-to-grab snacks, but if you eat crap, you're going to feel like crap - and that's the last thing you need on you're plate - literally - on top of the sleep deprivation and wildly fluctuating hormones.

It's important to keep your strength up, both physically and mentally, while your body and mind adjust to your new reality. 

Having a good sling - like the Ergo one - and wearing your baby is also something I'd do differently in hindsight. Not only is it a great way to bond, but it leaves you hands-free for those all important snacking sessions. Hence the massively apt illustration above by Secret Agent Josephine.

Being able to multitask is invaluable if you have days on your own during the first few weeks - I bought a not-so-good 'nearly new' sling that did my back in - so I ditched it - that's why investing in more structured carriers that bear weight on your hips and not just on your shoulders is vital to baby wearing success.

Other thing's to bear in mind nutrion wise after having your baby are:

Protein: Try and have a substantial portion of protein in every meal. Increased protein is essential to help repair stressed tissues after delivery and to support the energy needs of breastfeeding.

Fiber: During pregnancy and after birth, your intestinal muscle capacity is reduced and remains impacted during the first 2-3 months postpartum. Adding more fiber to your diet will help shift any constipation - and remember fiber needs fluids to work efficiently.

Iron: You're going to experience around 4-6 weeks of postpartum bleeding. It’s perfectly normal, but it can leave you feeling a little weak. Incorporating iron-rich foods can help, but you could also consider taking a supplement like Spatone, a natural iron rich water from North Wales, which helps replenish iron stalls and can be taken on its own or added to a smoothie.

Sugar: Sugars are quickly broken down by the body, spiking your insulin levels and giving you a temporary rush. This spike is followed by a sudden slump, leaving the body exhausted, which isn’t the best when you’re keeping up with a new baby. If you need a sugar fix, consider using sugar substitutes like raw honey, coconut sugar, or using raw sugar moderately. For more sweet and healthy fixes check out my post on how to satisfy breast-feeding cravings here.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Toddler friendly pancakes

These protein packed pancakes went down a treat with Ernie, and I love them too.

Sometimes it can be a struggle to try and feed a fussy toddler healthily, including yourself - especially when you're feeling overwhelmed or - whisper it - just a bit bored.

When cravings turn towards anything sweet and carby, having a recipe like this in your arsenal can really help. 

It's quick, easy, and guilt free - whilst still providing that all important pleasurable sensation - without the crash.

The same goes for your toddler.

We like to top ours with almond butter, but you can add any toping you like, or they're perfectly good served plain.


1 Large banana
2 Large eggs
1 Pinch of Gluten free baking powder (optional)
1 Tablespoon of coconut oil 

Preparation method

1. Mash the banana up either with a fork or in a blender.

2. Wisk in the eggs, and add a pinch of baking soda.

3. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan, spoon in the mixture and cook for a couple of minutes each side until golden brown.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Peaches in Strawberry Champagne

We've had a pretty good summer weather-wise here in the UK - because of this - and in spite of it being Autumn now, I've noticed that you can still buy reasonably priced strawberries in the supermarket. 

This won't be for much longer though - as the end of September is pretty much the cut off point for the UK strawberry season.

So with that in mind, here's a recipe to kiss goodbye to my favourite fruit, and celebrate the end of a fantastic summer in style.


1.5kg Strawberries
3 Tablespoons caster sugar
Juice of 1 small lemon
800ml Champagne or other sparkling wine (if you're pregnant you can use a non-alcoholic alternative)
500g ripe peaches, pitted, skinned and finely sliced
Double cream, whipped, or creme fraiche, to serve
Muslin - I used an old one of Ernie's (a clean one I might add!)

Preparation method

1. Put the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice into a large saucepan. Place over the lowest heat possible and gently stew for 1 hour. The process is complete when the fruit has turned to an unattractive grey mush and has exuded all its juice.

2. Line a conical sieve with muslin and place over a saucepan. Tip the contents of the pan into the sieve and leave for 2 hours to let the clear red juices run through. Do not be tempted to squeeze the fruit to extract the last few drops. Alternatively, tie up the muslin into a bag, put a wooden spoon through the knot and suspend it over the pan.

3. Discard the muslin and its contents. Add the champagne to the strawberry juice and warm through over a gentle heat. Add the peaches, let cool, pour it all into a kilner jar and then chill. 

Serve with double cream or creme fraiche.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...