Saturday, 21 December 2013

Gift inspiration - the dieters edition.

Christmas is only a few days away now! This dieters edition of gift inspiration is rather late this year (sooo sorry. I've been really busy). If you do want any of these things, you could buy some of these little gems as last minute/late gifts or buy them for yourself with the Christmas money you receive this year. Some of these things are online only, but a few will be available in stores too! There's something to suit all budgets. :)

Gifts £10 or less:
1. Lunch Bunch Strawberry Snack Boxes - £7.00, Paperchase. 2. One Body Multi-functional Pedometer - £6.00, Tesco Direct. 3. Shabby Chic Fleur Measuring Cups - £6.00, House of Fraser. 4. Me To You White Bear Polka Dot Flask - £3.00, New Look. 5. Funny Calories Dictionary Quote Mug - £6.99, Amazon. 6. Blue Magnetic Notepad with Pencil (Shopping List) - £3.85, White Shore.

Gifts £25 or less:
1. The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight (Paperback) - £11.99, Waterstones. 2. Dumbbell Alarm Clock - £16.90, Amazon3. Moleskin Recipe Journal - £16.99, Paperchase. 4. Graze Gift Voucher, 5 Boxes - £17.45, Graze.  5. Woman's Health Magazine Subscription (12 month) - £12.00, iSubscribe. 6. Men's Health Magazine Subscription (12 month) - £23.00, iSubscribe.

Gifts £50 or less:
1. Typhoon Novo Mechanical Scale - Teal - £40.00, Lakeland. 2. Crock Pot SCCPRC507CB-060 Digital Slow Cooker, Black - £39.95, John Lewis. 3. Kenwood HM792 kMix Hand Mixer - Almond Cream - £49.99, Currys. 4. Nike Womens Flex Experience Running Shoes - Club Pink/Blue - £49.99, Tennis Nuts. 5. Joseph Joseph Index Advance Chopping Boards - £45.99, Lakeland. 6. Asics Mens GT-1000 Running Shoes - Blue/White/Neon-Yellow - £49.99, Tennis Nuts.

Gifts £50+:
1. Morphy Richards 48822 1000 Watt 16-Litre Soup Maker - Brushed Stainless Steel - £64.00, Littlewoods. 2. Confidence Fitness Magnetic Manual Treadmill Running Machine - £79.99, Amazon. 3. LA Fitness Gym Membership (12 month) - from £35.00 per month (from £420 per year), LA Fitness. 4. Vibram Fivefingers Seeya Men's Running Shoe - £107.99, Millet Sports.


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Healthy pumpkin spice porridge.

I was inspired to try make a pumpkin porridge after making a very delicious pumpkin pie a couple days ago. I made the pumpkin pie for 'Diversity Week' at college - I was in charge of the USA table and decided to make the pie as it was Thanksgiving the day after the event. Anyways, the porridge didn't taste as sweet as I expected it to, but I think that's because I should have added some brown sugar into the spice mix I created, to give it some sweetness - will definitely do this next time I make it (added it into the recipe, although I didn't do it myself)! I enjoyed my pumpkin spice porridge with a "Nescafé Gingerbread Latte" - yuuuuuum! :)

- 150ml water
- 150ml almond milk
- 30g oats
- 70g tinned pumpkin purée
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- agave syrup, golden syrup, brown sugar or granulated sweetener to taste

1. Pour the water and milk into a saucepan and place on a high heat.

2. Meanwhile, create your spice mix by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger together in a little bowl.

3. Once the water/milk is boiling, add in the oats, pumpkin, spice mix and cook until the oats are cooked (approx. 10 minutes).

4. Pour into a bowl and top with the agave syrup, golden syrup, brown sugar or granulated sweetener to taste (I used agave syrup).

Thursday, 28 November 2013

My dieting secretweapon - MyFitnessPal.

Since January 1st 2012 I have been depending on the aid of MyFitnessPal to help me lose weight, by calorie counting. Some may see this as an unhealthy way to lose weight, but it works for me and I can keep it up. I use the MFP app on my iPhone 4S as that way I can keep track of all my foods/drinks on the go.

You enter in your details, such as height, weight, age, gender, etc. and how active you are in your everyday life and it then calculates approx. how many calories you need to consume each day in order to lose weight. I am calculated to eat 1200 kcal per day and for the first year-ish that really worked for me. But after starting the gym earlier this year (that I am currently not doing, due to health reasons, but I'd like to go back soon), I have had to up my calorie intake to 1400 kcal per day, as 1200 just wasn't enough and it was making me ill.

Although this way of losing weight works, it can become seriously obsessive. Since starting using the app I have only ever missed about 20-30ish days (mainly my holidays abroad). I calorie count everything. My good days, my average days and my seriously bad, binge-eating days. I weigh myself once a week too to keep track of my progress (naked, every Friday morning and I place the scales on the same tile in the same room each time - I get paranoid if it's in any other place in case it's slightly inaccurate).

I'd recommend this to anyone trying to lose weight. But I wouldn't try it if you know you aren't going to commit 110% to counting all f your calories (even that one-off, sneaky chocolate biscuit you have with your cuppa). You must log everything in order for this calorie counting diet to work its magic.

I personally LOVE this app, and even though I sometimes have my off-days and bingey-days, I don't think I'm going to stop counting my calories for a looong while. I actually enjoy it and love seeing results!

If any of you have any views, success stories or experiences using this app, I'd love to hear them! :)

Saturday, 9 November 2013

My home-grown red onions.

This year I decided to do a spot of gardening. I'm not known for being that good at gardening - I struggle to keep ANY plants alive in my house.. And I have also never grown my own vegetables before. But after receiving some free red onion seeds in the post, I thought I'd give it a go.

Firstly, I planted my seeds into little trays and left them in the greenhouse to grow into seedlings. It was strange because I checked daily with no progress, but then suddenly - like over night - all of them popped up! I felt so proud that I actually managed to successfully grow something from scratch!

Then, once all the seedlings had popped up, they were ready for re-potting. I came up with the issue that I had no land that I could dig up to plant my seeds in... If I dug up a patch in my garden, they'd get dug straight back up again by my rascal of a dog. But I found some old plastic storage boxes, so decided to get to work on those. I got a wireless drill and drilled lots of little holes all over the bottoms of the boxes to allow water to drain out the bottom. I then filled them all up with compost. I watered the compost to make it moist. I then started pulling apart and untangling the seedlings. I placed them evenly spread out into the boxes. Then I had to play the waiting game.

Waiting for any onion-like things to start growing felt like forever. But once the first one appeared, again, it felt like they all followed suit, and soon enough I had 3 whole boxes full of little red onions! I was so proud of myself for not killing them all, which is what I expected would eventually happen.

Personally, I think home-grown red onions are much tastier than shop bought ones! Especially the ones I grow. ;) I made everyone try them and the verdict was pretty much the same. The countless amounts of times going up the garden to water them and waiting for them to grow was well worth it! I'd recommend anyone to give growing their own vegetables a go. I found it strangely relaxing and it helps clear your head, and also gives you something to look forward to. I definitely want to grow some more in the future, maybe something different... potatoes maybe? Not sure yet. :)

Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Graze Brownie (plus FREE codes).

As most of you may know, I am a lover of the Graze Box. But for anyone who has not heard of it or has, but wants an opinion from a regular Grazer before signing up, have a read of this. :)

I have been receiving Graze boxes for almost 2 years now, and I still love them now as much as I did when I received my first ever box! A lot has changed since I first signed up... They now have popcorn, tea and cake, puddings, brownie and even beef jerky (although I have not and will not be trying this, but I'm sure meat lovers will love it) as well as their usual punnets. They also occasionally throw in some new more regular-looking punnets too (I LOVE the 'Eleanor's Apple Crumble' punnet they've introduced).

One of the newer one's I've tried recently is 'The Graze Brownie'. Although not super moist and squishy like a traditional brownie, it has all the chocolatey and nutty tastes of one. Sooooo delicious! Great when you're craving a chocolate bar, or just something sweet, but you don't want to give into temptation - this really satisfies that craving. ;) Although the portion is a little on the small side, it makes up for it in taste. Great for a snack, or even a little pudding after a meal. I definitely think Graze's best punnets are the cake/pudding based ones, the brownie being one of the top three!

If after reading this you'd like to try your own Graze Box, using the code below you can get your FIRST graze box FREE! :D Just go to and enter the code:


(If this code doesn't work, try: N6JMVCHD)

If you're already a Graze customer, don't worry. I also have a code for you. If you want to try Graze's breakfast porridge punnets, and haven't done so already, you can get your first box free. Just go to and enter the code:


(You must already be a Graze customer for this code to work).

If you do sign up, don't forget to rate your boxes (Love, Like, Try and Bin). Also just because you sign up for a free one, doesn't mea you have to get them forever more. You can cancel any future orders if you no long want to receive them. Graze is a very trustworthy company and cancelling is very simple. :)

P.S. My blog has reached 20,000+ page views! I am a little shocked and amazed. Thank you so much to ALL of my readers - regular and even the one-time readers. I'm so grateful for every view. It helps me keep motivated to keep writing my blog. :) Thank you again. <3

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

My new aim.

I'm very sorry for the lack of posts last month.. I have been up to my ears with coursework. I should really be cracking on with coursework right now! I will always have 3 or more assignments on the go at any one time, according to the tutors.. It's a lot harder than I ever would have imagined. Since joining college, I've been struggling very badly with stress, which has embarrassingly caused me to gain a bit of weight (comfort eating... Mainly junk too). In my opinion it is extremely noticeable, especially around my middle... I'm very disappointed and ashamed of myself about it actually.

I received good news today though. My Mum has booked, and paid for, the venue for my 21st birthday (the beginning of next year)! I haven't had anything, since coming back from Magaluf in June, to focus on losing weight for. When I have something to aim losing weight for, such as an event or holiday, I tend to be more determined and have a little more willpower. So I can now aim to lose weight for my 21st birthday party! I want to be looking my best. My weight goal is to get towards the 8 and a half stone mark, give or take a little. Not sure how realistic that will be with Halloween and Christmas happening in between that time (likely to be lots of food, sweets, chocolate and alcohol around...), but I will give it my best shot.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Don't worry, I'm still here!

I'm so sorry for the lack of posts this past month. I have had a lot on my mind and a lot of changes have been going on..

Firstly, I was put on medication. My Doctor reckons I'll be on for the next 6 months or so.. So it was getting used to those to begin with, waiting for them to kick in. I don't think I'm quite ready yet to write on here what it's for and what I've been through, where people I know can easily read this. I'd rather tell the people I feel I want to know about it in person. I might write about it at a later date.. I'm not sure yet. But anyway, before the medication I didn't do much writing on here either, hence the lack of posts this year, compared to last year. It took up a lot of my time. I'm hoping I'm on the mend for good now and that things will start going back to "normal".

Secondly, I have enrolled at my local college. I have been twice previously, but I felt the courses I chose just weren't the right courses/career paths for me.. But I feel I may have found "the one".. Lets hope so anyway. I am doing 'Level 3 Travel & Tourism'. It was supposed to be a two year course, but I've now been told that I have to do and pay for Year 1 and Year 2 separately , which I'm not too happy about, as it's way more expensive for me that way. College is something that I have been preparing myself for, stressing and worrying about for the last 2-3 weeks. This Monday just gone was my first proper day of college. It was induction week this week, but course related work starts this Monday coming. I am so nervous! I've never been the essay writing type, so I hope I cope okay. I am going to try my hardest to do the best I can. I really want to achieve this, do well and make my family proud of me.

So that is what I have been doing with myself. I have not forgotten about my blog. I check it every single day! I don't intend to stop writing it either. I have just cut down on the posts so I can focus on bigger things at the moment. As my new busy routine, of college and work, settles a bit, I'm hoping to make up for the recent lack of activity! So keep an eye out. I have two or so post ideas waiting to be written up (one involving real meat, for all of you meat lovers out there), I just need to find the time to write and perfect them!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Banana coffee smoothie.

 As you know from previous recipes, I love a good smoothie for breakfast in the mornings. I also love sipping a coffee or two in the mornings too. Yesterday whilst making my smoothie, I thought why not just combine the two? And I'm glad I did, as it was absolutely delicious! I just wish I used a little more ice cubes or used a frozen banana to make it even colder. I used half a cup of my favourite instant coffee inside of my smoothie, which is Douwe Egberts The Flavour Collective, Enticing Chocolate flavour. It smells very chocolaty and has a subtle chocolaty taste. Although it's chocolate flavoured, each cup, black, is only about 2 calories! You could use any instant coffee though, it'd be just as delicious.

- 200ml unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 cup of your favourite instant coffee, black
- 1 banana, fresh or frozen
- 1 tbsp low-fat peanut butter
- Big handful of ice cubes

1. Place the almond milk, coffee, banana and peanut butter into the blender. Whizz until smooth and well combined.
2. Now add in the ice cubes and blend again, until smooth. Pour into a pint glass and enjoy!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Race For Life 2013 - 5km.

This year, July 14th, I took part in my local 5km Race For Life, to raise money for Cancer Research UK. As always, it was a great turn out and Hudson's Field was a sea of pink! I was number 436. The message on my back was "I race for life for everyone affected by cancer. (Laura's Aunty Barb & Aunty Val)". I offered to add my friend, Laura's, Aunties on my sign as she was unable to run the RFL herself this year.

I was really hoping to beat my personal best time that I achieved last year (32 minutes, 29 seconds), but I didn't quite manage it. I arrived a couple of minutes late and slightly hungover (went to a birthday party the night before) so it was hard to keep an eye on my start time. But my overall time was around 37ish minutes, I think. Of course I'm a little disappointed, but I guess it's not too bad considering I ran/jogged alone this year and the weather was beyond scorching! I had little heat blisters all over my shoulders and almost collapsed in a heap of exhaustion after I crossed the finish line. I could hardly stand up! I didn't manage to run/jog the whole thing without stopping this year, but I was kind of expecting that with the heat.

Although I didn't beat my personal best time for completing the RFL, I beat my personal best on how much sponsorship I've ever raised. Most years I only manage to raise about £20-30, but this year I raised a total of £65! Makes me happy that I've raised that much money for such a great, well known charity.

Well done to everybody who took part in the Race For Life this year! Same again next year? ;)

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

My homemade tangy salsa.

This salsa was just thrown together whilst experimenting and just happened to taste delicious! Experimenting seems to be working very well for me lately, especially when it comes to my cooking (both for my blog and Pie Magazine). This is a lovely chunky salsa with a tangy taste and is very simple to make. Great for spreading in sandwiches, wraps or burgers or piled high on nachos or crispbreads! I naughtily ate the leftovers on its own, as my Mum and sister both aren't very keen on avocado and I had no one else to share it with, but it's not very calorific, so I indulged guilt-free!

This salsa is approx. 150 kcal for all of it! If you share it, just divide 150 by however many people you share it amongst.


- 1/2 a small-medium avocado
- 1/2 a red pepper
- 1/2 a medium red onion
 - juice of 1/2 a lime
- generous squeeze of ready-made sweet chilli sauce


1. Firstly peel the skin off of the avocado. Now dice the avocado, red pepper and red onion and then mix it all together in a bowl.

2. Now squeeze in the fresh lime juice and the squirt of sweet chilli sauce. Mix it all together so it's all nicely coated in the sauce and it's all quite shiny looking. Leave to sit for 10 or so minutes to let the flavours soak a bit, and then you have your chunky, tangy salsa ready to eat!

I spread my salsa into a wholemeal wrap with some Quorn 'roast style sliced fillets'. Very quick and easy and extremely tasty and filling! Great for a light, summery lunch.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Homemade gooseberry jam.

Using the gooseberries I picked at Bake Farm (click here for blog post), I decided to use part of my day off to make some gooseberry jam. I have never made any kind of preserve before, so this was very new to me. It was so much simpler than I ever imagined. I thought you'd need lots of fancy equipment, but I was wrong. Do you own an empty jar, funnel, saucepan, saucers, cooker and a wooden spoon? Yes? Well you can make this jam!

This recipe makes about 1 jar of jam. Each tablespoon of this jam is approx. 50 kcal.

- 320g gooseberries, 
- 320g granulated sugar
- juice of 1/3 of a lemon
- 200ml water


1. Although this recipe fills about one jar completely, I would sterilize two, just in case. To sterilize the jars and their lids, wash them with hot, soapy water and then rinse them off with very hot water. Now place them on a tray lined with baking paper and put into a cold oven. Once in, turn the oven on to 120°c. Place two saucers in the freezer, which you'll use to test the jam later.

2.  In a medium saucepan on a high heat, put the gooseberries, water and lemon juice in and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for 10-15 minutes until it turns pulpy.

3. Now, on a very low heat, pour in all of the sugar and stir until it dissolves completely. Once dissolved, turn the heat up high and bring to a hard boil. Boil for about 7 minutes. The jam mixture should start to turn a reddy/pinky colour.

4. To test if the jam is ready, take out one of the chilled saucers and put a little blob of the jam mixture onto it. Leave it to cool slightly. Run your finger through it, if it wrinkles, it's ready. If it doesn't, boil the mixture for a further 3-5 minutes and test again. Keep repeating this until it's ready.

5. Take the jars out of oven and leave to cool slightly. Using the funnel, pour the jam mixture from the saucepan into the sterilized jar(s). I managed to only fill one jar perfectly to the top. Remove the funnel and screw the lid on tight and leave to cool overnight. This jam should keep for about 6 months.

Enjoy your yummy, sweet, homemade gooseberry jam spread on toast, ricecakes or crackers. :)

Monday, 15 July 2013

Trip to Bake Farm & smoothie recipe!

Last Monday, my best friend, Emily, and I went fruit picking together at Bake Farm. I had never heard of this little place before, but Emily goes quite regularly and I asked if she'd come with me one day. The weather was perfect - nice and hot. It's such a beautiful, peaceful place, tucked away from busy main roads and houses. There are rows upon rows of strawberry plants and sooo many different varieties of strawberries to pick from! There's also gooseberries and raspberries to pick too (there's a couple other plants too, blueberries and runner beans I think, but they weren't ready for picking quite yet). It is surprisingly cheap. Coming to the till, I was expecting the fruit I picked to cost at least £10 or more... I picked a whole punnet of strawberries (mixed varieties) and about half a punnet each of raspberries and gooseberries for under £8! I will definitely be getting all of my strawberries and raspberries from here in the future - they are just too delicious to go anywhere else for them now! I have made mini lunchbox fruit salads and smoothies from the strawberries and raspberries (plus a few other ingredients from elsewhere), and I'll hopefully be making either some jam or maybe a tart with the gooseberries, if I get time to do it.

Here's the recipe for one of the smoothies I've made using the fruit I picked. I've called it 'Bake Farm Smoothie':

This recipe makes 1 smoothie (roughly a pint glass worth) at approx. 250 kcal.

- 200ml almond milk
- 1 banana
- 80g strawberries
- 35g raspberries
- 25g porridge oats
- handful of icecubes

1. Put the almond milk, banana, strawberries, raspberries and porridge oats into the blender. Blend until smooth.
2. Now put all of the icecubes in and blend again until smooth. Pour into a glass, serve immediately and enjoy!

I made another smoothie, very similar to this one, using more of the strawberries and raspberries I picked from Bake Farm. I used the same recipe as above, but I removed all of the porridge oats and added in 1 small avocado. It was delicious, very smooth and creamy! Just in case you want to give this a go, this smoothie serves 1 (roughly a pint glass worth) and is approx. 300 kcal.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Sunny Magaluf, June 2013!

Last month (5th June - 13th June), my boyfriend, Jago, and I went to sunny Magaluf together. We booked it only three weeks before we left for the holiday (very last minute for us)! We booked a week, self-catering, in the Mallorca Rocks Hotel. I hadn't read any reviews on it, but out of curiousity, two days before leaving, I decided it'd be a great idea to read the reviews about the hotel on TripAdvisor... Seriously bad move! I then got myself in the biggest panic as every other review seemed to be extremely negative and talked about getting their rooms broken into, getting their money/passports/etc. stolen, being mugged on the way home, prostitutes hanging around the front of the hotel, etc. etc. I wish I never read them! I get pretty nervous when leaving home without my Mum anyway, so having this to worry about too felt awful.. Having come back now though, I'm not too sure why I got so worked up, as I had an amazing time!

Whilst rather intoxicated at the 2wenties welcome meeting (hard to turn down free, unlimited jugs of cocktails) we bought a package deal. The package included a foam party, a carwash party, tickets to the Pirates Reloaded show (which was AMAZING to watch!), tickets to BCM, a pub crawl and a booze cruise. This made us really start to get in the mood and excited for the week ahead! Also as we were staying at Mallorca Rocks Hotel, we had access to their gigs and W.A.R. nights. We saw Baauer, Rizzle Kicks, Ms Dynamite, Mistajam, etc. live, which were all pretty good! All things we booked with the package were epic and so much fun! I have never drank so much alcohol in such a short space of time. 8 days in a row I was drinking... I blame the free bars for this (after midnight, until 6am)! Outside of the package deal, we went down to the beach, went on a banana boat, dipped in the hotel pool, spent hours and hours sunbathing, went for meals together, went on the bungee ball ride thing (not sure what it's called), went on a 'bucking bronco' ride (which I was totally awesome at) and went to Western Water Park. The water park didn't have many slides, but the ones that were there were a tad crazy! One was terrifyingly high, but I managed to push myself to do it (after having a panic about how high we were half way up the stairs to the top). I'm proud that I did it, but I doubt I'd ever do it again!

Being a pescitarian, I did not have much choice in what food I had to eat. Most days we just bought food from the Spar shop to eat at lunch times, and then we ate out for tea. For lunch, every single day, I had brown bread sandwiches filled with tinned tuna and sweetcorn, mixed up with mayonnaise and slices of cheese. By the end of the week, I was sick of the sight of tuna! Meals out had a bit more to pick from, but nothing that exciting... The majority of most menus were meat dishes. I tried calamari, which I'd never tried before, but that was about it. Everything else was things that I could easily find in England. There was so many takeaway places! We had a takeaway most nights (bad, I know.. But I mainly blame the alcohol for this).

All the food and stupid amounts of alcohol throughout the week made me gain a total of 5 and a half lbs! I was a bit upset by this, but wasn't expecting much else really, considering the amount I drank each night. I have now lost all of this weight since coming home, so all is good again, and I am back on track! Last year, after returning from our holiday to Turkey, it took me a seriously long time to get back on any kind of track... I didn't manage to get back to the weight I was before leaving for Turkey at all. But this year it's going a lot better. I also came back from Magaluf with the worst chest infection (I think I may have caught it on the plane as their were a lot of sick/coughing people on the plane back). It's pretty much gone now though, thank God!

Overall it was a really fun, fantastic holiday. The mega-hangover I suffered when I got back was well worth it. We made some really great friends whilst out there too, which is a bonus! Only tiny downside is that the tan I got is rather pathetic compared to tans I've had from previous holidays, despite frazzling in the sun for hours on end.. Oh well. I would definitely love to go somewhere like this again! I really don't know what I was worrying for. Note to self: Next time, don't judge holidays by just focusing on solely the negative reviews on TripAdvisor - go experience it for yourself and make your own opinion on it!