Monday, 30 March 2015

Sweet Potato Brownies Recipe

These sweet potato brownies were made using a recipe by Ella Woodward, author of the blog Deliciously Ella and guru of all things natural and delicious. I know using sweet potatoes sounds a bit odd, but when they are steamed and mashed they have a gooey consistency that is perfect for brownies. The dates and maple syrup add natural sweetness and the cacao powder gives a deep chocolatey flavour.

I have to admit, I don't have a particularly sweet tooth, and if you are a real sugar-fiend you might not like these. However, if you prefer the taste of natural sweetness to processed sweetness they are worth a try – it's nice to have a brownie with your cup of tea that you know is full of great ingredients and not going to lead to a sugar crash.

2 sweet potatoes (600g)
2/3 cup ground almonds (80g)
1/2 cup brown rice flour (100g)
14 medjool dates
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 tbsp maple syrup
pinch of salt

Here is a link to the recipe on Ella's blog and below is a video showing how to make them.

Since making and photographing this recipe, my sister recommended Ella's recipe for raw brownies and I have to say I think they are now my favourite! They only contain four ingredients, which you mix in a food processor, put in a baking dish and set in the freezer for an hour. They are so simple and absolutely delicious! The video for that recipe is below and be sure to check out for lots more simple recipes that are all plant-based and free from processed ingredients.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Aveda's Energising Eye Treatment

So, Jen and I have been writing about inner beauty, which for us means a kind heart but also looking after yourself by eating well. However, looking after your skin is also important, which is why I felt the need to share this review. 

Yesterday, I went to 'Treat' Hair and Beauty, which is an exclusively Aveda salon in Battle, East Sussex. I was having the 'Energising Eye Treatment' and simply thought that I was going to rejuvenate my sleepy looking eyes but it was so much more than just the eyes. Actually, the treatment should be called 'Whole Skin Enerising Treatment Whilst You Relax'. Perhaps a tad long for a name but it sums everything up.

Before I go into details, here's a quick summary: 

It is a treatment that is relaxing and although it focuses on the eyes, the feet, back, neck and face get attention too. 
It uses hot and cold techniques to encourage lymph drainage, which reduced the discolouration of the skin under my eyes. 
Rollers and a brush are used, which enhances the experience. It means a variety of sensations encourage relaxation, as well as sorting out the eye area. 
It lasted about 40-45mins, which for me, is a perfect amount of time. 
It costs £32 but Treat had a special offer and it was £24. It was worthy of so much more than £24. 
My skin felt different after the treatment. Not just my eye area, my whole face felt hydrated and as if collagen had come alive! 
My skin stayed moisturised and hydrated for the rest of the day and my makeup applied so smoothly that evening. 

Before and after, no filters used. My skin felt healthier and the darkness under my eyes had been reduced.

The treatment and experience

As soon as I walked into the salon, one of the owners, Jess (who runs and owns it with her sister Sam) greeted me and I went straight into the treatment room. First, I am a big fan of not waiting. I get bored easily...yes, I am a complete child when waiting is involved. Second, it was cold out (where is spring?) and to get all snuggly in a robe and into a heated duvet was the best moment of the day. Third, the aroma in the room was calming and not overwhelming. I can get a bit queasy with strong scents, so this was perfect. 

Jess introduced Aveda's new Botanical Kinetics range, which uses plant extract to stimulate hydration and recharge the skin. There is an Intense Hydrating Soft Creme for normal to oily skin and a Rich Creme for dry to very dry skin. What interested me the most was that organic cupuacu butter (nope, I can't pronounce it either) has been used, which contains lipids, like our skin, which helps to create a barrier and prevent moisture loss. As Jen and I have been looking at a more 'natural beauty' way of life, I am becoming more and more of a fan of ingredients that mirror what our bodies would naturally do, plus the words 'organic' and 'butter' make me happy!

Jess also explained that the idea of the treatment was to rejuvinate all of the skin, but paying attention to the eye area to decrease puffiness, discolouration from lymph blockages and reduce dark circles. Lymph drainage would be encouraged through using products and techniques, which would feel hot and cold on the skin. 

So, after Jess had explained the range and the aims of the treatment, she placed a towel under my feet, for extra comfort and hot towels around my toes. I was loving life at this point! Apparently, this treatment is also about recharging the whole body, which includes the feet, as they touch the earth and, therefore, energy escapes from them. Whatever the reason, I do love to have snuggly toes, so I was all for it. 

Next, I was asked to select an aroma that would be used throughout the treatment. I chose lavender and with that, the treatment began. The hot towels were removed from the feet, and dried with a small massage. My face was cleansed and freshened and two products were applied all over the face. One was fairly cold, which is all part of the treatment. It was explained that hot and cold products would be applied to stimulate the skin, including collagen. 

My favourite part of the treatment came next. Jess used pressure points on the neck, back of head, temples and forehead and it was as if all tension had just scarpered away. After this came the eye treatment, which had several stages. First, product was pressed into the skin around my eyes, followed by a figure of eight motion, which did not pull at the skin at all. Rollers were then used, which were cool to the touch and felt so rejuvinating. Next, a brush applied product and, again, in a figure of eight motion, which warmed the skin. Product was then removed from all of the skin and final cremes were applied.
Finally, relaxation was amped up through the pressure points and the finale, the bed being raised and essential oil being rubbed into my upper back, with a heat pad placed around my neck and shoulders, whist I relaxed with a glass of water. 

My initial thoughts were: 1. my skin feels puffed up (in a good way) and 2. this is so much more than just an eye treatment (thought whilst snuggling into the heat pad!) 

Aveda has only recently launched this treatment and it is available in a variety of Aveda salons for £32. However, Treat has a special offer that lasts until 11th April, for £24. Well worth it.

I have bought the treatment for my friend's birthday and I am looking forward to hearing what she thinks of it too. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Ruby's of London – vegan patisserie

It’s one thing to eat healthily at home, but when you’re out and about it can be a little trickier, especially when cakes are involved. I might not have a sweet tooth as such but even I appreciate a good cupcake... and why should I miss out on all the fun just because I don’t eat eggs or dairy?! So you can understand my excitement at discovering Ruby’s cupcakes at Greenwich Market. They are beautiful, absolutely delicious, completely vegan and all just a stroll through the park away from my house! 
Ruby has been making her cakes for many years and was even awarded the 2013 British Baker Product Innovation Award. You can order them online or buy them at their market stall on Saturdays and Sundays. They have a fantastic selection that changes seasonally and all the labels are colour coded so you can quickly see which ones are gluten, wheat and/or sugar free as well as vegan. This is extremely useful because, trust me, her stall gets very busy! Seriously though, Ruby is a genius. How do you make cakes without eggs, sugar and dairy that darn delicious?! 
If you find yourself in Greenwich at the weekend (and let’s be honest, it’s a pretty great place to be on a sunny Sunday) go and check them out. Hands down the best vegan cakes I’ve ever eaten. Below is just one of the many Ruby's cakes I love, so for lots more information and mouth-watering images head over to!

Find Ruby's at Greenwich Market, Saturdays & Sundays, 10am - 5.30pm

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Chocolate Biscuit Crunch recipe

This is a biscuit textured treat that gives a chocolate fix without the need for lots of added sugar.

7oz (approx. 1 cup) wheat-free self raising flour 
1 1/4oz (2 heaped tbsp) cocoa powder 
2oz (1/4 cup) Zylitol or any other sweetener. Dates could be used or something like Stevia. Personally, sometimes I cut this out. Yes, it's not as sweet but sometimes my stomach is not in the mood for any kind of sweetness, even natural ones. 
1 egg or flax egg 
5 oz (approx 3/4 cup) dairy-free spread, melted

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl then transfer to a baking tin and place in the oven on 160° (fan assisted) for 25 minutes. I served mine with sugar free, dairy free blancmange.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Clean Eating Chocolate Cakes

This is an idiot proof recipe. I recommend buying cups to measure ingredients if you haven't done so already, it makes it so simple and no weighing is involved.  

3/4 cup of Coconut Flower
3/4 cup of Coconut Sugar
1/2 cup of Cacao Powder (Greens & Blacks does a good one, make sure whichever one you chose that you pick a sugar free option). 
1/3 cup of Coconut Oil
3 Eggs or Flax Eggs for vegan option
Pinch of salt
1 tsp of vanilla extract (Marks and Spencer's has a good one) 
As added extra you can crumble some dark chocolate in, or place one small piece in the middle of each cupcake. I use Conscious Chocolate; it's a gluten free, dairy free, soya free and refined sugar free chocolate, with various fillings. It's tres yummy.

Blend ingredients together. I used a spoon but a food processor will give a smoother consistency. 
Use a muffin tray and equally distribute the mixture into cupcake cases. Bake for 20-25 mins (check regularly) at 150° for a fan assisted oven or 170° for regular. 

Served with a side of blueberries and blackcurrants.

Monday, 2 March 2015

March – Glow From Within

Feeling good is definitely linked with confidence. If you do not feel good, you do not feel confident. But looking and feeling good starts from within. Don't get me wrong, makeup really helps, but clear skin, energy, sparkiness and a zest for life really does make all of the difference. Beauty from within, both health and kindness, is a big deal for Jen and me. 

I mentioned in January that for medical reasons, I have had to stop eating sugar. Devastated was not the word. I love Dairy Milk like it's one of my family but the benefits have outweighed the negatives. Not only do I feel much, much better but my skin has started to look younger, my eyes brighter, my skin tone brighter and my chops more chizzled. Hurrah. Everyone loves a good cheek bone. 

However, I have a sweet tooth. To combat that, I have been doing some home baking and asking Jen for some advice (she's been eating a plant-based diet for a while now and is equally enthusiastic about the benefits of choosing whole foods over processed ones). 

Over the next month, Jen and I will be sharing our recipes that will be easy to make, delicious and a much healthier option than your typical pre-packaged food (#GlowFromWithin!). Whether you are trying to be healthier, looking for new recipes or hoping to help clear up problem-prone skin, we're here to help.

Happy eating beauties!