Try This: Fuss-Free Overnight Oats

For the last year or so I have been OBSESSED with overnight oats. Super quick and easy to prepare, this delicious twist on your morning bowl is basically porridge, but soaked over night to create a creamy, cake-like texture and means when you are in a rush in to get to lectures or work, your breakfast is already sat in the fridge waiting for you to enjoy.

Just like porridge, overnight oats are also super versatile, with a simple base you can adapt and add different flavours and toppings to mix up your mornings and satisfy your tastebuds.

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Overnight Oats – The Base
Serves 5ish – Depends how big you like your portions!

Ingredients  
1 cup/ 100g Porridge oats
1 heaped tbsp Nut butter (Almond, peanut, cashew etc.)
1.5-2 cups / 375-500ml Milk of choice (Almond, coconut, soya, rice etc.)
2-3 tbsp Chia seeds
2 tbsp Honey/maple syrup
1/2 cup / 125ml Any thick yoghurt- (Optional, it makes it thicker and creamier but if you’re on a budget its not an issue to skip!)
1 tbsp Vanilla extract (also optional, I literally never have this at uni but it’s nice if you do)
Pinch of salt

Method:
1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined
2. Add more milk depending on how thick you want your oats
3. Place in any sort of jar/container/tupperware and whack it in the fridge. Its best left over night but if you can’t wait that long and fancy it for dessert after dinner, around 2 hours should give it time to set enough!

 

 

At uni I put mine in a big tupperware container and take out as much as I fancy in the morning, but alternatively to give yourself even more time you can portion them out into individual pots. That way you can also make lots of different flavours or add your toppings before so you don’t even have to think!

Variations:
You can do SO much with overnight oats to tailor to your individual tastes.

Toppings:
First off, you can change your toppings every day, my choice is normally a banana, or a handful of raspberries and blueberries. But you can also add granola for some crunch, seeds, nuts, coconut flakes and literally any fruit that you can get your hands on.
Top tip: I can’t afford too much fresh fruit at uni so I buy bags of frozen raspberries and then defrost a handful in the microwave for 30 seconds.

 

 

Flavouring:
The easiest way to mix it up is to use a different nut butter or different kind of milk to give you that variation in your life so you don’t get bored, but the ‘world is your porridge-oat’ in terms of stepping up your flavour game. My all time favourite is adding a spoonful of cacao powder (or just regular chocolate powder), and tadahh you have chocolate overnight oats! Add banana and you’re looking at banana, chocolate and peanut butter oats, the perfect combo. Add grated carrot, cinnamon and chopped nuts to get a carrot cake flavour for a morning ‘treat’, or go one step further by having cheesecake for breakfast by adding cream cheese, some lemon zest and then your choice of fruit! For any protein fiends out there, you can also get your fix, add a scoop full of your favourite protein powder and you have super-charged your morning oats with minimal effort.

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So fill your boots, (or your fridge), with delicious, fuss free overnight oats to get you going faster in the morning and see you through till lunchtime!

 

Try This: 2-Minute Vegan Pancakes

So, pancake day is literally almost over and I’ve decided to add to the noise a little too late and give you my recipe, why? Because part of being an adult is realising that you can make pancakes any day of the year!

This recipe is completely fuss free, takes two minutes, vegan friendly, and tastes like heaven on a plate. Now I maintain the real heroes and make-or-break parts of the humble pancake are the toppings, so really, a pancake is what you make it. But it helps to have a good base.

A lot of vegan recipes for pancakes use banana instead of egg, which I personally really like, but I know it’s not for everyone, so I’ve gone for banana-free ones to satisfy all – but if you want, feel free to change the nut butter for banana, or chia seeds etc.

Go crazy and add some broken up dark chocolate or blueberries like I did to pimp-up your pancake, and marvel at how easy and stress free it can be!

2-minute vegan pancakes
(Serves: Literally depends on how greedy you’re feeling, I ate it all, but I went into a food coma, it made about 6 ish pancakes!)

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Ingredients:

150g (1 cup) plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
2tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 heaped tbsp nut butter of choice
1 tsp oil (vegetable, melted coconut, whichever you prefer) – plus extra for frying!
300ml almond milk (or milk alternative of choice)
Toppings/ additions of choice (go crazy)

Method:

  1. Sift (or don’t, I didn’t because 1) I don’t own a sieve at uni 2) who really has time for that) all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl
  2. Mix the nut butter and oil together and then add to the dry ingredients
  3. Add the almond milk and whisk until combined
  4. Add in any additional flavours (I’ve chosen some dark chocolate and blueberries)
  5. On a medium/high heat add a little oil, enough to lightly cover the pan, once hot, pour in your batter to whatever size you want
  6. Once the pancake is coming away at the sides, is producing some bubbles and looks brown on the bottom, flip and cook on the other side (or try your best pancake-tossing tricks!)
  7. Remove from heat, get your pancake decorating on and enjoy!

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From the pictures you can also tell I went a bit ott… to the point you can’t really see the pancakes! So, feel free to indulge as little or as much (as much is encouraged) as you want!

Try This: Ultimate Shakshuka

Mornings are getting darker, evenings colder and for some, freshers week is around the corner. Summer may have only just left us, but as I do live in England, winter is very much making its way in, and I have already lit the fire twice this week. Dreary and wet days mean that a nice cold sandwich will no longer cut the mustard and some warm comfort food is on the menu.

I made this for lunch a couple of days ago and posted it on my Instagram stories and to my surprise, I had loads of people message me asking what it was, and for the recipe. (Side Note: When I say loads I mean 7. But that was enough for me to feel like I was Nigella Lawson and that I might as well make a blog post out of it).

 

Shakshuka is my new love affair. There are plenty of recipes online so you can adapt how you like as I sort of made this one up on the spot. The basis of it is a rich spicy tomato base with some runny baked eggs in the middle, this warming dish is perfect for brunch, lunch and dinner, and works as my personal favourite hangover cure. So if you are in need of a little comfort food, hanging from freshers week or want to mix up your mid-week meals, give this one a try.

Ultimate Shakshuka: 
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1/2 can of chopped tomatoes
1/2 can of chickpeas (drained)
1/2 pepper (chopped)
1/2 chilli (chopped)
Large handful of spinach
2 eggs
1tsp paprika
1tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Bread (toasted)

Method:

  1. Preheat the grill to around 170. Place the chopped tomatoes, pepper and chilli into a saucepan and place over a medium heat to start heating through and reducing the tomatoes.
  2. Add all of the seasoning and chickpeas and place a lid on the saucepan and let it thicken up a little.
  3. Once thickened, add the spinach and stir until it had wilted and combined.
  4. Then transfer the contents of the saucepan into a bowl of choice.
  5. Make two small wells in the mixture with a spoon and crack the eggs into these wells.
  6. Place the bowl under the grill and leave until the eggs are cooked through.
  7. Garnish, and serve with some toasted bread to dip into the egg yolks as mop up the sauce.

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Super easy, and super quick, it probably takes me max 15 minutes to make. And you can play around with your ingredients; sometimes I use a tin of 5 bean mix instead of chickpeas, or you can go one better and get the 5 bean in a tomato sauce and then you have no need for the chopped tomatoes. Frying off some onion and garlic and adding to the sauce also gives some nice flavour, or my personal favourite, crumble some feta on the top after you have cooked the eggs!

 

 

Thrifty Travel: Dublin

 

It always seems to be the way, your lust for travel is much bigger than your bank balance, you feel like you deserve a holiday but your budget says more ‘camping weekend in the back garden’ than it does ‘trip abroad’.

But there are so many ways you can still get your holiday fix without breaking the bank, my first example, Dublin. Granted this won’t be your standard getting a tan, sipping on margaritas style holiday, however if you are up for a bit of culture, a little adventure, and lot of Guinness, Dublin is a great place to spend a few days and it doesn’t have to cost the earth. So here is my guide to Dublin, what to see, what to do and all on a student budget.

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Travel

Flights

Being from the South West, travel is sometimes a bit of a nightmare, and crucially, extremely pricey. However, flights to Dublin are pretty cheap.

From Bristol to Dublin the flight is almost under an hour and by booking only a couple months in advance, a return ticket cost us £59. Having a quick search online this price seems pretty standard and even when I looked to book for as early as next week the prices seem to stay the same, only varying by £10 or so.

So flights are relatively cheap, but use price comparison sites like SkyScanner or Kayak and you can keep an eye on flights and buy them at the best price. Another massive tip is to try and book flights which mean you arrive to your destination early, and depart late, that way you can make the most of your trip by having a good proportion of the day on your arrival and departure to play with.

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From the airport

Fortunately, Dublin airport is pretty close to the city centre and we found it worked out quite well to hop on a coach which took us directly onto O’Connell Street. For a small €12 we had a return ticket which we could use at any time to get us back and it took us straight to the heart of Dublin within 25 minutes.

Day to day

So, if you really want to save money and you are staying in somewhere pretty central then there is no better way to experience the city for free than walking from place to place. In general, much of the tourist attractions in Dublin are fairly close together and so walking shouldn’t be a problem.

Although we stayed pretty central, (if we knew which way to walk it would have only taken us about 20 minutes to walk to the centre), Dublin has a super easy and fast tram system that I would encourage you all to take advantage of. For less than €5 we had a return which got us to the centre in 5-10 minutes and once there, we walked the rest. Taking the tram made life so much easier, it’s really simple to understand and felt a lot safer when we were coming home after dinner and drinks out. They also run stupidly regularly. If you’re staying for longer than a couple of days it also might be worth investing in a ‘leapcard’, they sort of work like oyster cards where you can top them up with money and scan it at the tram stop.

Warning: It is super easy to fall into a false sense of security and think that it is not worth buying a tram ticket because there are no barriers or officials on the trams 24/7. However, ‘tram security’ do regularly hop on and check your tickets and issue fines for not having one, which is seriously not worth it when a return costs next to nothing.

Accommodation 

Airbnb have it pretty sorted. For a whole flat only a 5-minute walk to the Guinness Factory and a 10-minute tram ride into the main centre between 3 of us we found a place for £64 each for 2 nights. Airbnb was super handy as by talking to our host we could check in early and check out late and had the entire flat to ourselves. Because Dublin is a major city, there are literally so many places listed on the site so you can go mega cheap and just hire a room in a house, or splash out more and get an entire apartment. But I would look at these as early as possible as all of the good ones can get booked up quickly.

Another cheaper alternative are hostels which are dotted all around the centre at the fraction of the price of a hotel.

Food and drink  

Food and drink is probably the only thing I would say requires a bit more of a ‘splurge’, but that still doesn’t mean you can’t save a few pennies here and there.

If you do what we did and get yourself an Airbnb, you are already setting yourself up to save some money since you will normally have a kitchen in an apartment. If you’re in even more luck like we were, your host might provide some tea or coffee and smaller bits like cereal, and then your breakfast is sorted. If not, it will cost you much less to buy some bread and some cereal than it will to eat breakfast out, and if you are in mega saving mode you could even make packed lunches.

But in general we found it quite easy to have a bit of early morning breakfast at the apartment, head into the city and start sightseeing and then grab some brunch/lunch from a local café. Dublin is full of hundreds of restaurants so grab a couple of guides or just wonder round and there is something for everyone. On our first night we had some really reasonably priced tapas right in the centre of temple bar, and on the second we knew we wanted to have some traditional Irish Stew so went fully traditional and had it in the Brazen Head, Dublin’s oldest pub.

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All in all, food can be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it, the only thing you might need to give on, is if you’re partial to a cheeky pint. Now granted, since we were only staying for a couple of nights we didn’t take the time to branch out and try and find some cheaper places to drink and stuck to the good old Temple Bar area. But you can imagine my face when I asked the bar tender for two glasses of red wine and he replied ‘€15 please’. This is coming from a girl who wouldn’t pay anymore than £7 for a whole bottle back at home, though. That being said, even a pint of Dublin’s world famous Guinness set us back €6.80, and my poor housemate paid €6.30 for the pleasure of a traditionally cheap and cheerful Bulmers.

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Smiling through the pain and savouring every last drop.

So if you’re planning on drinking on your trip my advice would either be bite the bullet, or if your stay is a little bit longer than ours was, have an explore outside of the main tourist traps, prices might be a little cheaper!

Attractions

Top tip: If you are a student TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE, most of the places we went to offered a student discount (so make sure you bring your student card with you), and it makes a lot of difference.

Free:

Trinity College: Dublin’s famous university is free to enter and have wonder round, it’s a really impressive building and has some beautiful grounds. You can also pay for a guided tour which if you’re interested in its history might be a good idea.

Temple Bar: A vibrant and bustling section of the city filled with traditional Irish pubs, restaurants and gift shops. Enjoyed best in the evening where you can drop into one of the many pubs and listen to some live music.

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Grafton Street: If shopping is your thing, then head down to Grafton Street, Dublin’s main shopping area. Filled with well known brands and independent stores it would be quite easy to spend a whole afternoon there. We also visited just to feel like we were part of the Ed Sheeran song.

Paid:

Guinness Factory: So worth the tour if not only for the fact the brewery is AMAZING. The tour is self guided and not only offers a student discount but you can also get cheaper tickets if you book at certain ‘off peak times’. You work your way through 6 floors of the history of Guinness from how its made, to their advertising. Your ticket also buys you a sample and lesson in how best to ‘experience’ Guinness as well as a free pint at the end in their impressive skybar which gives you views across the whole of Dublin. Student ticket: €18 Adult Ticket: Anything from €14-€20 depending on the time you book for and how early in advance you book!

Top tip: So we might have just been lucky, but stick around the skybar for a bit, quite often people get to the top and don’t want their free pint, or are under aged and so hand their free coupon to people who want it – in the 45 minutes we were up there we got offered an extra 4 free pints (but maybe we just looked like poor students who needed it).

Christ Church Dublin Cathedral:

Founded in 1028 this beautiful cathedral is worth an explore. At ground level the building boasts stunning stain glass windows and an impressive organ. But explore further and you can take a walk through the medieval crypt featuring a mummified cat and rat discovered in the cathedral’s organ and Ireland’s first copy the Magna Carta.

€6.50, Adults, €5, Students

Dublin Castle:

Yet another remarkable building, and a place you can save some money on too! Dublin’s castle is a great opportunity to see how ‘the other half’ lived as you walk around drawing rooms with beautiful ceilings and great halls bigger than your house. You have the option to take a guided or self-guided tour, with the guided you get to see the Viking Excavation and Chapel Royal, so if that is something that peaks your interest it might be worth spending the extra €3. However, for just a peak round the state apartments and exhibitions, it’s a little cheaper to go with a self guided tour. The castle also has some lovely grounds where you can sit and enjoy a bit of lunch.

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Top tip: You can actually download a free app which gives you an audio tour of the state apartments, saving you spending the extra for a guided tour.

Guided: €10 Adults, €8 Students
Self Guided: €7 Adults, €6 Students

Kilmainham Gaol Museum:

This was one of my favourite attractions we visited over the three days. Open from 1796-1924, the Gaol is now open to the public to take a tour round and witness the place where many prisoners of the Irish Civil War and leaders of many rebellions were held. Holding everyone from political prisoners, child thieves and murders, the well informed tour guide shows you some of the most harrowing and impressive features of the building. Getting to actually walk into the cells prisoners spent years of their lives and stand in the room some men and women spent their last nights’ in was such a weird and interesting experience and I fully recommend you take the trip over.

They do recommend that you book your tickets in advance, not only because the tickets are slightly cheaper but also because it gets extremely busy, we were very lucky to get there first thing and squeeze in on an early morning tour, but booking online would be a good idea.

Online:  €8 Adults, €4 Student
Walk-in: €9 Adults, €5 Student

So in 3 short days we managed to do a lot, but Dublin is filled with so many more wonderful museums and boasts a lot of fascinating tours. Dublin is a great cheap get-away for culture lovers and guinness drinkers alike, and I hope my lengthy post also saves you a euro or two!

 

Naughty but Nice: Black Bean Brownies

The weird ingredients continue… more legumes in chocolate based treats, stop messing with what is already good I hear you cry! But I guess at the end of the day I just really like cooking, especially if it’s a bit out there, and bonus if it’s something healthy that tastes so good!

So I present to you, black bean brownies filled with a raspberry chia jam for good measure. The black beans are packed with fibre, potassium, vitamin B6 and actually help to lower cholesterol in the blood. Chia seeds in the jam are literally full of everything good from omega-3, protein, antioxidants, calcium to loads of vital vitamins and minerals. Also, if you use cacao powder in this recipe, it is full of antioxidants, iron, magnesium and calcium – but I realise both chia seeds and cacao powder are expensive, so regular unsweetened cocoa powder will still do the job!

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Once again for anyone who suffers from allergies/intolerance this recipe is completely gluten and dairy free as well as being vegan so almost everyone can enjoy!

I had a major issue with sourcing canned black beans at the time, so had to buy some dried ones and cook them first, which is totally fine, it just takes a LOT longer to make – so if you can, find the canned stuff.

Black Bean Brownies with Raspberry Chia Jam
Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, low-sugar

Serves: 6 ish (or 12 if you use small ‘cupcake’ cases)

Ingredients:
For the brownies:
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp of Cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
½ cup oats (40g)
¼ tsp salt
⅓ cup maple syrup (75g)
¼ cup coconut oil, melted (40g)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup extra dark chocolate baking chips (140g) (optional!)

Raspberry chia jam:
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (140g)
1½ tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp chia seeds

Method:
For the jam:

  1. Microwave the raspberries for 1 minute and then mash them all together
  2. Add the sugar and microwave for another 30 seconds then stir in the chia seeds then place in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours or over nightIMG_0972.JPG

For the brownies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180’c and line a muffin tin with muffin cases
  2. Combine the beans, cocoa powder, oats, salt, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, and baking powder in a food processor and blend until smooth
  3. Stir in the chocolate baking chips.
  4. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of batter in each muffin case, put 2 teaspoons of raspberry chia jam on top of each mound of batter and then divide the remaining batter among the muffin cases to cover the jam
  5. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 18 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely and then transfer to the fridge for at least 1 hour to firm up.

And then they are all ready to go! Packed full of goodness, but just gooey and delicious as regular brownies (and everyone knows raspberries and dark chocolate are just the best combination!!).

Self-Care is Selfless

Everyone has those days. You know, THOSE days. Those days when you get a bit overwhelmed, a bit tired or stressed, those days when you just want your bed, your mum, no human contact, a hug, or a combination of them all. It’ll often just be a shocking day at work, a series of unfortunate situations, or in my case at the moment, revision and exam stress.

Days like these are such an infinitely small part of our lives, yet at the time they seem so overwhelming and never ending its really hard to take a step back and realise that, this too, shall pass. With the advent of Mental Health Awareness Week last week, I fully realise that sometimes ‘those days’ aren’t just ‘days’ they can be weeks, months, or even years. And while there is no quick fix for things as all-consuming and often as devastating as mental illnesses, I very humbly offer my small contribution to this matter. I, very fortunately, do not suffer from any mental health issues, and so this post is not directly aimed for ‘people who suffer with a mental illness’, because that would be wrong of me to even attempt to assume I know what you are going through, how could I possibly know! But this, very respectfully, came out of my having a bit of a tough day, and a wish to share some love for anyone else who is having a tough day too.

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Team West always cheer me up x

This is for the people who have had a shocker of a day at work, for the students who feel like exams are getting a bit too much, for the people who just felt a bit under the weather today. I think it is a very British thing to just power on and ware yourself down, to martyr your hard work and never stop to breathe. And so I guess, in particular directed at my fellow revising students at the moment, I preach one message to you today – self-care is selfless.

Its something I have really realised, especially since moving to university, that self care is so so important, and I implore you all today, this week or whenever you feel like its all getting a bit too much, to take a step back and look after yourself.

With that in mind, here are some super easy and mostly free ways to just take some time away to look after number one:

  1. Get some Headspace

Ok, at risk of sounding a bit ‘new-age’, everyone should download this app right now. Headspace is a free meditation app which has genuinely changed my life. The app just asks you to take 10 minutes out of your day whenever and wherever you are, and all you do is listen to ‘Andy’ guide you through breathing exercises and channels you to be more aware of yourself and your surroundings. At first I was sceptical, but by following its guidance this made me feel calm when I have been in my biggest panic modes, and while I might forget it sometimes, it has really changed my perspective on life.

  1. Take me to bed

This is basically my go-to thing to do every day during exam season, but it works wonders. Change your sheets so they’re fresh and get out fresh pyjamas. Take a super long shower, light some candles/ put on some music or a film and then crawl into your clean bed. Simple, but satisfying.

  1. Time for tea

So I might be biased because I am British and I adore tea. But even something as simple as taking time out to slowly and mindfully make a cup of tea and then sit down and enjoy it can occupy your mind for a while, calm your thoughts and just forces you to step back even for 2 minutes. Plus, it just happens to be super comforting and delicious.

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  1. Go on a walk
    (Or do some exercise)
    Things can very quickly escalate and spiral in your mind if you’re stressed and overthinking work etc. When you feel like you are about to reach panic mode, just stand up and leave your desk and go on a walk. Even if its only 10 minutes. Switching your focus even for the briefest of moments will bring down your stress levels significantly and might just give you a clearer mind when you return.

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  1. Food glorious food

Now this tip can go one of two ways. Cooking, for some, can be an extremely therapeutic ritual. Home baking is comfort food at its best, so if you love to cook, take a couple of hours out to bake your favourite treat and after sit and really enjoy it. For others, the thought of cooking after a long day is possibly the last thing that you want. If that is the case, order in your favourite takeaway or even pick up a ready meal from the supermarket. Anything which makes your life easier and helps you unwind.

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  1. Detox, without a green juice in sight

The world online can be a bit of a stressful place sometimes. I do very strongly believe if you are having a bit of a moment, one of the worst things you can do for yourself is scroll through the narrow and deceiving world of social media to make you feel even worse. I have witnessed many times when social media can be a wonderful place for support, however, sometimes taking a step away, even 15 minutes before bed can help you realise that the internet is not always accurate and the world will not implode if you don’t refresh Instagram every second of the day.

  1. Face-mask and chill

Girls and guys, there nothing wrong with a cheeky facemask. Or just a pamper in general. Whack on a face mask, pour yourself a glass of wine and just congratulate yourself that you got through the day. What’s that you say, its only Monday? Even more reason to treat yourself.

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  1. Rhythm is a dancer

A good old dance around in my room to some upbeat music always puts me in a better mood. (If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right). So if dancing isn’t your thing, even if you are revising hard, take 5 minutes to play some happy tunes to keep you motivated.

  1. Treat yo self

Pair of socks caught your eye? Maybe you’ve ran out of your favourite expensive shampoo. Fancy a pint? Whatever floats your boat, treat yourself to something nice just because.

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  1. Sleeping beauty knows what’s up

Simple. The day can’t end soon enough, so get some rest. Tomorrow is a new day, so wake up fresh and smash it.

So whatever state you are in today, I hope these help. In general, I think this is just a message of do whatever makes you happy, and you deserve to look after yourself as much as anyone else. Self-care is selfless.

Also, genuinely true, as I was typing this my housemate came upstairs and gave me some flowers she bought from her trip to the shops. It made my evening.

Much Love x

Naughty but Nice: Revision Snacks

Snacking during long periods of revision, hard days at work or when you are just plain bored is the biggest weakness for most of us. It is so easy to reach for a handful of biscuits or a packet of crisps, which gives us a spike of energy, only to make us crash an hour later. I know for a fact that staying relatively healthy around deadline season is near impossible, after I post this I am probably going to dive into my bar of salted caramel chocolate which is just staring me in the face. However, if you’re like me and like to pretend that you can fight the urge and remain healthy for a little while longer, here are two great, easy to make and store snacks to keep you going.

Roasted Chickpeas

Once again my favourite versatile legume takes centre stage for this super easy savoury snack.

They say having a handful of nuts a day is really good for you (so while I’m at it there is a great fuss-free revision snack right there), but if you are anything like me and want to save a few pennies here and there, a bag of almonds or pistachios can be pricey sometimes. Not to mention they’re only really good for you if you get them plain and not swimming in honey or salt.

Enter the mighty chickpea. Packed with protein and fibre, these little wonders are the new, cheaper replacement for nuts, trust me.

Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas
1 tbsp smoked paprika
Pinch of salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200’c, drain the water from your chickpeas and then place them on a couple of sheets of kitchen roll to soak up excess water
  2. Once they’re mostly dry place on a baking tray and cover in the salt, pepper and paprika
  3. Chuck them in the oven for around 30 minutes – you basically want them to dry out, go golden brown and be crunchy when you eat them

Place them in an airtight container and keep them in your bag for the perfect on-the-go snack to see you through revision, work, long train journeys etc.

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The best part about these is you can experiment with lots of different herbs and spices mix up your snacking. For example, try adding some mixed herbs, cayenne pepper, chilli flakes, lime or garlic, the world is your chickpea!

Apple Crisps

Perfect for the times where you just want to reach for the packet of biscuits or a chocolate bar when you are seriously slumping during revision, or 3pm on a work day, these apple crisps are naturally sweet and easy to keep in your bag.

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Ingredients:

2 apples
1 tbsp cinnamon

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 120’c
  2. If you have access to a mandolin/ some form of slicer, then make use of that bad boy now. If not, (like me) using a knife, cut the apple into thin slices, the thinner the better!
  3. Arrange on a baking sheet and dust with cinnamon, and a bit of sugar if you want them extra sweet
  4. Place in the oven for about 40 minutes and then remove and leave to cool. This is the crucial bit, leaving them to cool is where most of the ‘crisping’ will take place, so don’t be tempted to move them straight after you take them out of the oven or they will remain slightly soggy!

 

So whether you are slaving away in the library, stuck at your desk all day or just need some better ways to snack, give these a try. They are perfect in an airtight container left in the bottom of your bag, so when that inevitable temptation to reach for the biscuit tin creeps in, you have something delicious to stop you, at least for a little while!

 

Naughty but Nice: Chickpea-Chocolate Mousse

The bank holiday has ended, Easter is now a distant memory, and if you are anything like me, you may have indulged in the chocolate and wine just that little too much. Easter is quite often the time for a revival of new-years resolutions where people get a little disgusted (and impressed) with how much food their body can consume and decide to hit the gym and cut the crap again.

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But let’s be honest, it is really hard to resist over-indulging every now and again. And so to reconcile myself (and maybe give some of you some inspiration in the process) I have tried and tested some delicious recipes which not only taste oh-so-good and a little bit indulgent, but actually are oh-so-good for you! So here is your first ‘serving’:

Chickpea-Chocolate Mousse

Okay so bare with me – chickpeas, in chocolate mousse? I thought the same, just to weird you out more, on top of that, you don’t actually use the chickpeas, you use the water they’re soaked in, (the technical name for it, I have now learnt is ‘aquafaba’). But after some scepticism I decided to experiment, and these are the real deal. What’s best is the recipe only calls for 3 ingredients, making this treat gluten free, and vegan, (dependant on the chocolate you use), but I only used cheap dark chocolate from Lidi’s and turns out it was vegan anyway!

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I can 100% tell you it is very hard to make a can of chickpeas look ascetically pleasing, and I felt sad enough I was having a photoshoot with a can of legumes…

The chickpea water is packed with protein and everyone knows dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, making this chocolate mousse practically saint-like. Bonus – I kid you not, no one can tell the difference between these and regular homemade chocolate mousse. Believe me, my brother is a sniffer-dog for anything out of the ordinary and healthy and even he couldn’t tell the difference and loved them!

Chickpea-Chocolate Mousse:
Vegan, Gluten-free

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas (only need the water)
120g dark chocolate (roughly chopped)
2 tbsp maple surup (or agave/ coconut syrup)
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Method:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl which is sat over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water)
  2. Add the vanilla extract and maple syrup and leave to cool slightly whilst you do the next step
  3. Use an electric whisk or blender to mix the chickpea water until stiff peaks form and the mixture is fluffy and white in texture (this step is basically the same as if you would whisk up eggs) – you can hand whisk but you will be mixing for quite a while!
  4. Gently fold the chocolate into the chickpea mixture with a spatula until all is combined
  5. Pour out into bowls/ ramekins and leave to set in the fridge for 30-60 mins (but the longer you leave it the better set it will be).18109902_1470102309708150_478748715_o.jpg

Top with some raspberries or strawberries to balance out the sweetness, and there you have it! Quick and easy, protein packed chocolate mousse. Once you get over the fact you’re using chickpeas and try it, it’s a complete game-changer – and means you have use for something you would usually just chuck down the sink!

Much Love x

Older, But No Wiser?

It is fast approaching my 19th birthday, meaning it has nearly been a year since I legally became an adult, and 19 years since I popped into this world, clueless and crying. I would love to say that the cluelessness and crying has ceased, however as I begin to make my way into the adult world, I feel it has only increased!

I have learnt a lot over my few short years of living, but there are also a plethora of things I am yet to discover and understand so here is a post about the first 18/19 years of my life, lessons I have or have not learnt and I guess advice for those experiencing the same.

  1. Never will you have so much free time

    I am still getting the hang of this one, but between the ages of 0-22 (ish) never will you have so much time and so little responsibly to do absolutely anything you want. In-between the times you are at school/college/uni you have 6+ weeks of summer where 9 times out of 10 you do not have any work to do apart from a part time job which means the world is your oyster. Unfortunately I can remember a few summers where I have worked ridiculous amounts and then on my days off stayed in bed because I am knackered and by the time its up I wonder where all the time has gone. But as I am fast approaching the end of a very intense year at uni, I am ready to make the most of every free day I have in the summer and I advise all those who can to do the same.

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2. You can’t make everyone happy, and not everyone will like you

I really struggle with this one a lot because I always want to make everyone happy and to feel liked. However, I have learnt that it is impossible to be liked by everyone and that is ok. Sometimes people will disagree with you but as long as what you are doing what makes you happy, the people that matter will stick by you.

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3. A postive outlook on life makes positive things happen 

I know this sounds a bit hippy-dippy and like I am advocating karma, but I am not. This is something I believe in quite heavily, even if I do not practice what I preach sometimes – If you have a positive mental attitude, and see the bright side of things, 90% of the time good things will ‘happen’ to you. Not in a karma sense, but in the sense you notice more good and positive things when you think in a positive way. Now I am famous in my family for being good at getting in a grump, but when I do remember to keep positive, it helps.
A smile goes a really long way. 

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4. Admin days are bloody great

If you are in that college/uni stage, you are gradually having to do more ‘adult’ things such as book appointments, write important emails, pay bills, buy essentials etc. Setting aside a day to get all of these things ticked off a list is one of the most satisfying things and makes you feel incredibly productive.

5. Do not pay attention to the media

We all fall victim to it, I do all the time, but if you can help it, stop valuing yourself based on what you see in magazines, on tv, Instagram, Facebook etc. IT IS NOT HEALTHY. Sure the internet and media can be a place of great inspiration and motivation, but it is also a breeding ground for unrealistic expectations and a large kick in the teeth for self esteem. If you want to feel good about yourself spend time with your family and friends, go for a run or eat a piece of cake, whatever floats your boat but the media is not the place to look for validation.

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6. Tea is glorious

I am British, and I am sorry, I have not grown up enough to condition myself to like coffee even if I wanted to, but tea on the other hand is a gift I wish I could give to everyone. Cold? Cup of tea. Feeling sad? Cup of tea. Having a afternoon snack? Cup of tea. Tea is like having a warm hug on the inside, comes in many different varieties and if made correctly is a sure fire way to cheer me and much of England up. Take note.

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7. It is far better to be fool for a minute than it is to be a fool forever 

I can recall more occasions than I wish where I have stopped myself from asking a question to clarify, understand better or just because I simply did not hear which has caused me more grief than it was worth. So I have learnt the hard way, many times, that it really is so much better to be a fool for a minute and as a question than it is to suffer in silence and be a fool forever.

8. Dishwashers are amazing 

For real, after moving to uni halls this year and having no dishwasher I have never appreciated one more.

9. “I am only going to have a couple of drinks tonight” is the biggest lie ever 

Everyone has good intentions when they have stuff to do the next day or are short on money, so we vow to take it easy on the drinks and have an early night. Oh how we lie to ourselves. 90% of the time this is the night you get so drunk that you end up with half a burger in your bed and not a clue how it got there (guilty). And so accept it and quit lying to yourself, its ok that you spilt that tequila down your top at 2am, everyone does.

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10. Enjoy the little things 

I may have stolen this from Zombieland, but it is still valid. Enjoy the little things in life that make you happy and you will appreciate life and everything that comes with it.

So here are a few of the many things I have learnt over my short existence. Some were a lot more soppy than I intended but life is great and we should all take the time to reflect every once in a while.

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Much Love x

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”

So this is a post about something I have read a lot about lately and really feel passionately for, and that is food waste. I feel as a privileged person surrounded by many privileged people that much of the world has become complacent about food consumption and just how much we waste.

Every year one third of the food produced for human consumption (that’s 1.3 billion tonnes) gets lost or wasted, living in the UK it genuinely shocked me that out of the 21.7 million tonnes of purchased food, 7 million of it is just thrown away. This is while 1 in 9 people (795 million) do not have enough food to lead a healthy or balanced lifestyle.

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We are living in a world where people buy more than what they need or want and have no problem with throwing it away if it is past its sell by date by a day or they cooked too much for dinner, while in many disadvantaged areas, people would kill to eat what was in our bins. And what is in our waste is more than edible, as 61% of that food we could have prevented being thrown away, a further 20% was only chucked due to consumption habits such as having the crusts on your sandwich removed. This waste not only denies those in need from receiving it, but also contributes significantly to the worlds water footprint, landfill sites and also your own wallet as wasting food is wasting money!

But this is not a doom and gloom message, as I wish to highlight some amazing projects and companies who are challenging food waste in any way they can, which I hope inspires you to do the same.

France

The French have been the leading pioneers for preventing food wastage, much like they have with banning underweight models, as they recently became the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food. This caused a huge increase in donations of food to charities and food banks. This increase has a significant impact as even a small 15% increase in donations, 10 million more meals could be handed out each year.

Tesco

Much like the French, this month Tesco announced that they too will be sending their unsold and unwanted food to charities across the UK after their trial period last year.

In addition to this, 200 stores will now also stock ‘imperfect’ veg, which would normally be rejected, at half its regular price in attempt to encourage buyers and reduce waste. Asda also introduced something similar previous to Tesco offering a 5kg box of seasonal ‘wonky veg’ to customers for around £3.50, over a third cheaper than standard lines.

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Pret Charity Run

Pret the well established food and coffee shop have also contributed by partnering charities across the UK with their local store allowing them to collect unsold food from the shops at the end of the day to distribute to those in need.

For more information – https://www.pret.co.uk/en-gb/pret-charity-run

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Real Junk Food Project

This is a project I have become in awe and inspired by over the last year when I first discovered it and they continue to grow. Founded by Adam Smith, the Real Junk Food Project was set up as ‘pay as you feel café. This café cook delicious, hearty meals and desserts using only intercepted food from supermarket bins, allotments, food banks and town markets. Anyone can come in and enjoy a sit down meal and afterwards pay in whatever way they wish to, be that helping around the shop by cleaning, preparing food, fixing things such as the electrics or simply cash for what they think the food is worth. Set up first in Leeds the Junk Food Project ethos has started to spread across the UK and the world and in their first year alone 10,000 people were fed with an intercepted 23 tonnes of food waste.

Check their website and their Facebook page for more information – http://therealjunkfoodproject.org/about/

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All of these initiatives are incredible leaps forward in preventing food waste to help our climate, society and our pockets. But we can do much at an individual level too:

  • Make sure you only buy what you need, and not what you think you need – make a meal plan and stick to it.
  • Don’t trust sell by dates, trust your judgment. If it smells, looks and tastes ok, it is good of a little while longer.
  • Made too much for dinner? Tub it up and have it for lunch or dinner the next day.
  • Don’t think you are going to eat all of something before it goes off? Freeze the rest and it will be good to use another time over the next few months.

Here is where I got a lot of my facts and stats from; they also give a lot of tips about saving waste so have a look if you want to do more:

United Nations Environment Programme: http://www.unep.org/wed/2013/quickfacts/
Love Food Hate Waste (UK): http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/node/2472

And if you are still interested there are also so many amazing documentaries such as ‘The Cowspiracy’ on Netflix or “Just Eat It’ http://www.foodwastemovie.com to help you become more aware of the world we live in.

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Thank you for reading if you go this far.

Much Love x