Friday, 8 May 2015

Little rose swirl cake. With a sprinkle of .. sprinkles!


Hello people who probably forgot i'd existed from being inactive for so long..

I thought i'd share with you all a quick cake I had made yesterday!



Since moving house half of my cake equipment has been packed away still, and the other half appears to be lost! I've been wanting to make a cake for ages so I just had to make do with what cake equipment I could find.

I went for a simple vanilla sponge with vanilla buttercream. It was pretty rainy and dull yesterday while I was baking so I decided to use light teal blue to brighten my mood up a little! I was originally going to just cover the cake smooth in the butter cream and put fondant daisies over it but I had decided last minute I hadn't done rose swirls in a while. The cake was pretty little so I kind of made little rosettes or mini rose swirls so that I could fit more of them on the cake :-)

I will admit I rushed the cake a little as it was more of a trial cake to see how my buttercream techniques were after all this time not decorating!

I was pleased with the end result and ended up covering the top with sprinkles, just because everyone loves sprinkles... :-)

Luckily making cake doesn't ruin my healthy eating, surprisingly I don't actually like cake that much.

I'd have done a step by step post on how to do this yourself but anyone who decorates cakes will know how messy buttercream can get. I just didn't fancy juggling my camera and piping bag while decorating. 
If one day you'd like to see a tutorial on this cake write me a comment and i'll consider giving it a go!

Nicole.
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xo



Monday, 2 March 2015

Healthy Creamy Avocado Pasta.

I'm gonna put this out there right away, I love avocados!!!! So I'm forever looking for new ways to add avocados to my meals. I heard avocados actually make you happy?.. yet another reason why they're amazing.

Avocados aren't for everyone though, just like any foods there's going to always be people that hate them. When I first tried them, I wasn't keen but I've grown to love them. Picking out the perfectly ripe avocado makes a huge difference in the way they taste too. Click here for tips on knowing when an avocado is ripe.

This avocado spaghetti recipe is so creamy, filling and extremely easy to make. It's really the perfect healthy comfort food. Who doesn't love a nice big bowl of spaghetti at the end of a long day? Enough blabbing, let's get started on the recipe.

Ingredients

-1 large ripe Avocado / 2 small Avocados.
-Squeeze of lemon juice (optional).
-Garlic powder to taste.
-Dash of milk (optional depending on how thick you want the sauce)
-Wholegrain spaghetti or pasta of your choice. 
-Any extras of your choice (I'm using feta cheese and wild rocket)

Either serves 2 normal sized portions.. Or 1 huge portion. (I refuse to share this with anyone it's that yum)

[2 Small Avocados, Wild Rocket, Wholegrain Spaghetti]

[Avocado Before & After Blending]

How to make: 

1. Cut avocado in half, remove pit, scoop out avocado with a spoon. And dice. 
2. Add the avocado, lemon juice, dash of milk and garlic powder to a blender/food processor and blend until smooth. 
3. Boil a saucepan of water and add the spaghetti/pasta. 
4. While the spaghetti is cooking, now is the time to prepare whatever you're choosing to eat with the pasta. For me it was as simple as cutting up feta cheese in to little cubes (I was feeling lazy)
5. Drain the pasta and add back to the sauce pan. Add the avocado 'sauce' and stir in. 
6. Serve with your choice of extra ingredients. I served on a bed of wild rocket and scattered the feta on top.


ENJOYYYY

[Healthy Avocado Spaghetti]

If you're an avocado lover like me I'm 99.9% sure you'll love this as much as I do. If you're not sure what to have with it I'll give you a little list of ideas. 
- Bacon 
- Mushrooms 
- Parmesan cheese 
- Chicken 
- Salmon 
- Tomatoes 
There's plenty of different things that go well with avocados.


Give this recipe a try and let me know in the comments if you enjoyed it :-) 

It's amazing hot or cold.. Which is pretty convenient since by the time I'd snapped 1000 photos for this I could still enjoy it. 

What's your favourite avocado based recipe?

I'll be posting some more healthy recipes in the next up coming weeks. 
Follow me on Blog Lovin' here!!

Nicole 
x

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Online Support With A Chronic Illness - Rare Disease Day

Hiya!! This post is about something thats very important to me.. It's also rare disease day today so it fits in nicely.

You may not all be aware but I have 3 chronic illnesses called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome and ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Click links to find out more. I was extremely unwell but I seem to have been able to turn my life around pretty drastically throughout 2014. So I try to force myself to live and act as normal as possible now, with the help of medication.. which I do prefer as I don't like my illnesses to defeat me. But I've been struggling lately, so I feel this was the right time to write a post like this.

I've been in two minds about posting about my chronic illness online, as I've received hurtful comments in the past about posting how I'm feeling and updates on my health. But in other ways it's been such a help to my life. I've also read and heard about the amazing help, positivity and hope speaking to others online has given them. I've heard of many stories where people feel extremely alone with their illness, and by joining online support groups they've found hope where there was once fear, worry, loneliness.

When you're chronically ill, especially when that illness is rare. Its hard because not many people can understand what you're going through, you truly do not know how hard living with a chronic illness is unless you're going through it yourself. This leaves anyone suffering feeling alone and very isolated. Which then can lead to depression and anxiety. By joining support groups on Facebook or searching for your illness tag on Instagram, you can friend/follow people going through the same things as you. Seeing how others cope with their symptoms, being able to speak to them too share advice and offer support really helps someone who is in a bad place. You can talk to family and friends about the same things, but as much as they can help you, nothing beats speaking to someone who knows exactly what you're going through.

In my experience speaking to people on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr hasn't only just helped me learn to deal with my symptoms and too feel less alone. Its also helped me find a diagnosis. I was firstly diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome but I was having unexplained heart and nervous system related symptoms. I had no idea what was causing it, but by posting online people with EDS reached out to me and told me it sounds like Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, which is commonly associated with EDS. Without me sharing my health issue's online and having the advice of others, I could still be undiagnosed and suffering quite badly from those 'unexplained' symptoms.
(p.s I'm no way encouraging you to self diagnose, if someones suggested an illness to you never assume you have it until a medical professional has diagnosed you)


I've also gotten to know some of the most amazing friends too! I think this is one of the perks of being chronically ill. Because if I wasnt I would have never spoken and got to known some of the amazing, kind, helpful and down to earth friend's I have. They're always there to help. Which is great, they also don't judge when you come up with the most random questions about your new unexplained symptoms. 99% of the time you'll get a reply "omg I get that too" and all of a sudden you no longer feel like the only person in the world with this issue. I love the girls I've gotten to know over the past few years and I'm hoping to meet some of them this year.

So if you have a chronic illness I seriously advise you to have a look online to find support for your illness. It could completely change your outlook on your life. I'm so glad I searched for other's with EDS as if I didn't I would be in a completely different situation as I'm in now. And if you don't have a chronic illness please don't judge other's for writing their story or speaking openly about their illness online.. Its helping them In a way you couldn't even imagine.

Also, in honour of Rare Disease Day please be kind and loving to anyone you may know suffering with a rare disease, not just today. But everyday <3

Follow me on Blog Lovin' here!!

Nicole 
Xoxo




Friday, 20 February 2015

2 Ingredient Healthy Pancakes!!


Hiya. Hope everyone is well this Friday evening!
Since pancake day has passed and I'm pretty sure some of you are still getting a pancake craving. I thought I'd give you a pancake 'recipe' that I've been enjoying for many years now,(if you'd all 2 ingredients a recipe..) ready for your Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast this weekend!



These pancakes are very simple to make. And contain ingredients most people already have in the house. All you need is...

Ingredients:
-2 eggs.
-1 ripe banana. (best with brown speckles on)

I actually usually use 3 ingredients. I add some peanut butter to mine, I just love the combination of peanut butter and banana. If I don't have PB, sometimes I add a dash of cinnamon for extra flavour. But if you don't fancy adding anything else, they taste great with just the 2 ingredients!


How to make.

- First step is blend up the eggs and banana. If you don't have a blender, you can just mash the banana up with a fork (or a potato masher) as well as possible, and add to well whisked eggs. Sometimes warming the banana in the microwave for 30 secs, makes it easier to mash up. If you don't use a blender your mixture will be a little lumpier, but they will still taste the same.

- Next put a frying pan on a high heat, with either a tiny bit of olive oil, a tiny bit of butter or if you can get a hold of it Frylite Olive Oil Spray, this spray is apparently 1 calorie a spray and it works well to prevent sticking. Once the pan is hot pour on the first pancake. It's best to make them quite small so it's easier to flip, cause at times they can be a nightmare when it comes to breaking apart. At this point I usually turn the heat down a little to prevent them burning, as the banana cooks pretty fast.


- Once the pancake is covered in lots of tiny bubbles it means its ready to flip, carefully push the edges of the pancake up all around before putting the spatula underneath to flip. You'll find on some of your pancakes the bottom will be very brown/dark, this doesn't always mean its burnt. Usually it's because the banana browns very fast on the heat. My first pancake on the photo below was a pretty decent colour.


- Pop the pancake to the side (in the oven on a low heat if you want to keep warm). And repeat until all of your batter is gone!

These pancakes like I said, are extremely easy to make. The only downside I find is that making them one by one is a little time consuming. Unless I have a lot of time on my hands, I now enjoy these pancakes in a different way. I make the batter all the same, but instead of making small pancakes - I make one giant pancake. Preheat the grill before hand and once the bottom of the pancake is cooked, instead of flipping. Pop the frying pan under the grill (not the handle! if the handle is plastic.. it will melt.) and just keep an eye on it for few minutes while the top browns off. Pop on a plate - DONE! Making one giant pancake tastes the same but it's just a lot faster if you don't have the time to make tiny ones. I kinda prefer the giant pancake too.

Now your pancakes are ready, serve them with a topping of your choice, more banana, other fruits, dark chocolate chips, maple syrup, honey!

I chose too drizzle mine with maple syrup - mmmmm

You may not find these pancakes are for you. But I love them, if I'm dying for some pancakes while I'm trying to be healthy these never disappoint! If you try them, leave me a comment on how you found them and if they were for you.

Follow me on Blog Lovin' here!!

Nicole 
xo



Thursday, 19 February 2015

Getting Back On Track After Weeks Of Bad Eating Habits!


Hello everyone!! Well Valentines day and Pancake day came around fast since the 'new years resolutions' kicked off. I don't know about all of you but, since it was my Birthday the weekend before Valentines, then it was Valentines day and then Pancake day. I haven't had the perfect diet recently, I've been trying to be healthy in between these events but I've practically been using them as an excuse to eat crappy foods. 
I also know I'm not the only one doing this! Speaking to friends, they've been telling me they need to get back on track since the mid Feb binge too.

I'm going to tell you some of my tips to get back on track. Getting back on track is the hardest part, once you're back in to the swing of it, people find it's not that difficult. Everyone is different, but this is the way I make myself get back on track. And it's worked almost every time since 2011 so I must be doing at least something right..

For your first day of healthy eating chose your, favourite healthy meals!
This one may sound crazy, as a lot of people take the 'straight in to clean eating approach', but it's not always realistic to stick to plain broccoli and boiled chicken breast - blugh!! If you chose your favourite healthy meals for the first day, for example healthy 2 ingredient pancakes for breakfast, nice filling soup for lunch, and a healthy pasta dish for dinner. It will give you that little extra motivation to get started, as you'll be eating meals you enjoy! Once you're started and you're feeling better about yourself, you should find your healthy diet begins to fall back in to place again.

Look at progress photos.
Look at progress photos to remind yourself how far you've came already. If you're only just starting up, look at other peoples progress photos for motivation :-)

Find healthy snacks you enjoy. 
Having these snacks around the house will, make sure you're more likely to pick these over the chocolate or crisps in the house. Things like grapes, carrot sticks, healthy crackers and banana's are my fave's!!

Don't weigh yourself!
You may feel differently about this yourself, but I rarely weigh myself anyway (as I understand how much my weight fluctuates) but I'd say not to weigh yourself at all after a few weeks of bad eating. If you find out you've gained back 5lbs, it's not exactly going to put you in the great, motivated mood you need to be in to get back in to healthy eating.. I also wouldn't weigh myself until atleast 1-2 weeks after I've been healthy eating, giving you time to have lost all the bloat and any water weight you may have gained.

Exercise.
Get moving to feel more energised and happy. You'll find the happier and more positive you feel the more likely you'll feel up to sticking to your healthy diet. I'm also one that, hates to ruin a good workout with a bad meal. So exercising gives me a little extra will power to say no to the unhealthy dinner, that I may of otherwise ate.

Set yourself a target.
Such as, get back in to healthy eating now, to then "wait until Grans birthday meal at mid March for a bad meal". This makes some people feel better, as they know that they get to still eat their fave foods at some point soon. You just need to keep the will power and motivation, to not let that bad meal turn in to a few weeks of bad eating!!

Make a meal plan.
List all of your favourite healthy meals and make a meal plan. Then you've pretty much already made the decision on what to eat everyday. Making it less likely for you to pick a bad meal choice, while you're last minute deciding on your dinner.

Buy a fitness and health magazine.
I love buying a fitness and health magazine while trying to get back on track. Looking at all the people looking fit and healthy inside, reading the motivational stories, healthy recipe ideas, fitness tips and my favourite - cute gym clothes. It just makes me feel really motivated and wanting to recreate these meals, try out the exercises and buy the cute clothes. 


These tips on getting back on track, may not work for you. Of course this is because every one is different and have different things that make them feel really motivated or that help them to get back on track. I love being healthy, and I do generally prefer healthy food now. But even I crave bad foods at times, and I eat unhealthy on events like recently Birthday/Valentines/Pancake day. I also still struggle to get back on track at times, but you'll find once you figure out what works for you, it will be a whole lot easier to get back on track. 

I've heard that if you do something everyday, that after 21 days it becomes a habit. This may or may not be true. But even if it's not, it's still worth a try! So be healthy for 21 days (or more!!!) and try make it a habit!

Follow me on Blog Lovin' here!!

Nicole
xxxx





Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Dirty Dirty Fries - Hobgoblin Bristol


One place me and Curtis pop out for food too every now and then is Hobgoblin on Gloucester road. Pretty much just go for the Dirty Dirty Fries. Which is a pulled pork topped with spiced fries melted cheese and a drizzle of blue cheese/stilton on top. Don't be alarmed, if you hate blue cheese or any kind of strong cheese, you honestly can't taste it like you'd think. It just gives it a little extra flavour.
They do other foods too such as Burgers and Nachos too. 

Portions.. The portions are huge, Dirty Dirty Fries are typically for sharing. Which if I'm honest is more enjoyable to do. But occasionally me and Curt like to have a little food challenge, try and eat it all by ourselves. Which I've never done, but on Sunday I came very very close to eating it all. At just under £10 even if you're eating it alone it's worth the money, so it's a very 'budget friendly' meal if you're sharing it.

[Dirty Dirty Fries - Hobgoblin]
The inside of Hobgoblin is a very relaxed atmosphere, I'd say it has a very student feel to it. Maybe it's because of, all the students that go their for their famously known Dirty Dirty Fries and Burgers. Or because of the fact it's close to Gloucester road's pubs/bars. They're also known for their food Challenge called 'The Kraken', see photo below for info.
[http://www.eatingchallenges.co.uk/the-kraken-burger-in-bristol/]
I'd definitely tell anyone I know to visit this place! Even just once to give it a try, because to me it's worth it. Even if you are so full you can't move for 5 days after...
Below you'll see before/after photos of my almost completely finished Dirty Dirty Fries.. As you can tell I do have a pretty big appetite. 

[(Before) Dirty Dirty Fries - Hobgoblin, Bristol]
[(After) Dirty Dirty Fries - Hobgoblin, Bristol]
Anyone reading this should definitely go visit Hobgoblin soon for a feast. But as for me.. I'm not quite ready to eat these again just yet - maybe in a week or so ;-)

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(Hobgoblin Bristol Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Hobgoblin.bristol)

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Healthy Eating When You're Not Feeling Up To Cooking.


As you may know by now if you've been keeping up to date with my posts. I'm not what you'd call 'well', I have a few chronic incurable illnesses that leave me in feeling exhausted, in pain and generally just really unwell. So eating healthy isn't always easy, from wanting to comfort eat myself 'better', to just not feeling well enough to cook a meal.

So I thought I'd write a post to say even if you don't feel well or you don't have time. There are still fast, healthy foods you can eat that takes the same time as a microwave/oven meal. Not all of these foods are perfect if you're 'eating clean'. But they definitely aren't bad/unhealthy.

I will say, my diet mainly consists of rice... microwave rice that is. Why not? Rice isn't the worst thing you can eat, it gives you energy, it's gluten free and it fills you up! People stay away from things like rice because of fear of carbs.. I love anything that is carbs. So I refuse to give them up!

So on this post I'll be talking you through what I do eat, or what you can eat while you aren't feeling up to cooking too much.



The main thing I eat when I'm really not well is Soup, I mainly just stick to one soup. Heinz lentil soup. With crackers or a slice of bread. There has also been times where I've had left over rice and I've added it to my soup to 'bulk it out' a little.

[Heinz Lentil Soup. With Jacobs 'thins']


Sandwiches are always a good quick meal! Bread isn't supposed to be great for you but I definitely haven't ever eliminated it from my diet, and I have what I'd call healthy eating habits. So if you aren't feeling up to cooking just make a sandwich, ham, egg, chicken, tuna or anything else that isn't too high in fat that you fancy.

[Ham Salad Sandwich... & A Cuppa]


Rice.. Well here we go, the paragraph about how much I love rice. I honestly would eat rice every single day... wait, I think I already do eat it every single day?! I have rice with a lot of things. But my main meals I stick too are rice with, pan fried salmon fillet/bacon & avocado/feta cheese/feta & avocado. 
All of those combinations are with rice and rocket. I always use microwave rice (Veetee long grain). I love this make of rice over others as it's nice and fluffy. I microwave the rice in 2 minutes and then season.. It's really not time consuming and doesn't use up much energy. Of course if you're having the salmon, bacon or avocado, these foods will need cooking/preparing but it doesn't take more than 10 minutes. My point about rice is, it takes no more than 2 minutes to microwave and you can have it with just about anything to make a meal a little more filling. Find a rice based meal you love and you'll have a super quick meal in no time! 

[Salmon, Mixed Rocket Salad & Rice]
[Left - Bacon, Avocado, Spinach/Rocket & Rice.  Right-Avocado, Feta Cheese, Rocket & Rice.]


Banana's and peanut butter is another thing that you can have as either a snack or breakfast. Have it any way you like, in oatmeal, in a sandwich, on toast, by itself is always fine too! It's super yummy. Peanut butter contains good fats and protein, only if you get the natural peanut butter. And banana's are great for you too! (So craving this now)

[Banana & Peanut Butter on Toast]


Stir frys are always a good option, the shops always do a ready chopped stir fry pack which provides enough for two servings. It only takes a few minutes to cook with a pre cooked (or uncooked) meat of your choice, just make sure you use a low fat and sugar sauce. And try to avoid the egg noodles. I usually buy wholewheat noodles and pop them in some boiling water while the stir fry is cooking.. and then stir them in at the end.



 No excuses if you're going to the shop and can only get a ready made lunch or what most shops call a lunch time 'meal deal'. There is always a healthier option sandwich, whether it's just a plain ham sandwich, a low fat egg mayo, tuna cucumber, or a chicken salad. There are healthier options. As for the snack, if I'm craving crisps I'd usually go for the Walkers Sunbites as they aren't AS bad. But otherwise I'll have carrot sticks, apple bag, pineapple or some kind of fruit. I always have water with my meal deal (although in my photo below they had no water left..my boyfriend drank the oasis). You can always find a healthier on the go food option in the shops.
[Left- Egg & Cress Sandwich, Sunbites Crisps (Don't Usually Have Oasis).  Right- Sainsbury's Made Fresh, Pesto pasta, With Mozzarella Salad]


With things like oven foods. There are options that you can pop in the oven and create a fairly healthy meal from. Bake in the bag fish, grilled chicken pieces, veggie burgers etc. They also do some amazing frozen sweet potato chips in Tesco!!! So if you're stuck to only oven foods, have a good look in the freezer sections.. you'll find there's healthier choices than pizza and chicken nuggets.



Eating out, even when you have to eat out, there are still ways to be healthy. And you don't even have to spend much money. There will always be healthy food choices on menus in restaurants and you have the choice to substitute things from normal meals, like fries for boiled potatoes. If I'm trying to be really healthy eating out for food, I order a starter and a side, and ask them to bring them out with the main courses. Things like soups are good on the starters, and salads for the sides. There will always be something you can chose.

[Tomato Soup & Mozzarella with Tomato Salad]



Other options you can have are eggs, eggs are fairly fast and easy to cook. Especially poached or scrambled eggs. Have scrambled eggs alone, on toast or with baked beans. I usually have poached eggs with avocado. But there are plenty of ways you can make eggs and add more nutrients to the meal.
[Left - scrambled eggs. Right - Avocados]

Pizza... yes healthy pizza. Pop the oven on, grab a wholewheat tortilla wrap, cover it in pizza/tomato sauce and add your choice of toppings. Chuck it in the oven until the cheese has melted or the wrap has crisped slightly.. then enjoy!!!



The point in this whole post was to advise you that there are ways to eat healthy in circumstances where you don't want to cook, or you don't have the time to cook. Where you need to eat out at least once a week. Or you're in such a rush that the only thing you can pick up is a sandwich from the shops. If you truly want to be healthy, you will find a way to eat healthy. If you look for healthy options you'll find them.

I hope this post was helpful to some of you, good luck on healthy eating! :-)

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All photos were taken by myself - follow me on Instagram @colemaria_

Nicole 
xoxoxo