Shakshuka

This is one of those meals that you could literally throw anything in and it would still taste good. I always have it when there are odds and ends of veg to use up in the fridge, you could also add meat or fish if you want to! It super filling if you eat the whole thing, I usually have half of the amount here as a meal, but obviously it depends how hungry you are!

For 1-2 people you will need:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tin of Chopped Tomatoes/Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Mixed Herbs
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • diced Veg (I used 1/2 yellow Courgette, 1/2 Green Courgette, 1/2 Red Pepper, 1/2 Sweet Potato
  • 1/2 tbsp Balsamic Glaze
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Coriander

If using Potato, start by frying off in a pan with a little oil, salt and pepper.

After a few minutes, add the other veg with the herbs and spices then fry for a few more minutes.

Add the tin of tomatoes and simmer for 5-10 minutes, you want there to be enough sauce to surround the eggs when you add them, so add a little water if you need to.

Check the seasoning, add Salt, Pepper and a little Balsamic Glaze for sweetness if it needs it.

Make two holes and crack in the eggs, then turn down the heat to a very low simmer and leave to let the eggs cook through, be patient they will! I pop mine under the grill for 30 seconds at the end just to finish cooking the egg white.

Top with freshly chopped coriander and you are good to go!

Hope you like it.

L x

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Nearly Two.

In a matter of weeks, Isla will be two years old.

I sometimes cannot believe I have survived the last two years. I have never shied away from the fact that they have been tough. Not just because of two tiny, very important, little humans to look after but also a house move to contend with, relationship struggles and a whole other heap of stuff going on.

I think it’s so easy to feel sometimes so bogged down by motherhood, I feel like I HAVE to say here that yes, I am ridiculously fortunate, that my kids are pretty bloody amazing and of course I do know how extremely lucky I am, every single day I thank my lucky stars, but that doesn’t mean its a walk in the park.

Isla is the most defiant, testing, strong willed, kindest, caring, loud, funny, confident and most full of character little girl I know. She is a whirlwind of emotions, she cries and screams when her Daddy leaves for work, she waves me off without a second glance 🙄. She follows around her big sister all day, just copying her and chatting away. She says ‘Sausage Roll Mummy’ if we walk past Greggs, then opens it up chucks the ‘Roll’ to the floor and eats the Sausage. She says ‘Bye Lads’ when we leave shops and makes people melt like she is absolutely no trouble, those blue eyes and blonde curls have a lot to answer for. She will give Abs a wack for no reason then say ‘Abbie what matter?’ with the biggest puppy dog (WTF did I do?) eyes. She bosses me around like no one has in my entire life, I am wrapped around her little finger and I absolutely adore her.

I almost feel like the last couple of months a little cloud has lifted. I feel like I have bonded hugely with her and that despite her feistiness and strong mind (which can be hard work) that I simply cannot get enough of her. I feel like being able to communicate with her more has helped so SO much. I can almost reason* with her (*bribe her) and when it comes to parenting, well lets just say ‘if you stop it… you can have a XYZ’ will get you very far in life.

There is something about being able to understand what she wants and her understanding me more that has just made it all, dare I say, easier. Which sounds a bit thick really, because obviously that helps, but when they are going through certain phases of development and growing up, it can be quite consuming and easy to forget how quickly they do grow and change.

Its so true, that the days are long but the years are short. I just cannot believe that she is nearly two. I have spent some time this week, looking through old blog posts and photos and just reflecting. Reminding myself that I have survived, we have survived, and the girls are more than fine… what is different now to when she was a newborn, is I know I’m doing my best and I know I’m a good Mum, it sometimes makes me a little sad that it’s taken me 5 years to realise that but here we are.

Abbie has continued to be an incredible big sister, they definitely bicker and fight more than they used to but they also play together, they play Drs, Mummy and Baby, and they just run, hide, jump, tickle and laugh together so much, there is absolutely no better sound than hearing them uncontrollably belly laugh together, it makes my chest ache and my eyes water.

If I have learnt anything in the last 2 years its that I’m usually losing my shit because of me and not because of them, that if I just leave the house work, leave the actual work (when possible), let one ball drop… that actually not every ball will drop, but I will be able to just give them a bit more of my attention and this usually helps calm most situations down.  Also to have confidence in my parenting but know I can still pick up the phone to my Mum when I feel like I’m losing my mind.

So there we have it, nearly 2 years of Isla Mae and I simply cannot remember life without her.

I will link some older posts here, I genuinely love I having these to look back on. Mum of Two… , 5 months. and Back To Work.

L x

Link for Isla’s ‘Got That Vibe’ Tee Zom Zom Clothing

Chicken, Crushed Pea, Lemon and Pesto Pasta

A couple of weeks ago I worked with Sacla Pesto and created a Pasta dish very similar to this. This blog post is not sponsored in anyway obvs you can use whatever Pesto you like the best… but thought it would be nice to upload how I made it, because it was quite epic, if I do say so myself.

For 2 people you need:

  • 2 Chicken Breasts cut into strips
  • 150g Pasta
  • 150g Peas
  • 150g Light Cream Cheese
  • 2 tbsp Green Pesto
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt and Pepper

Heat a large frying pan and a pan of boiling water. Fry the chicken with Salt and Pepper and add the Pasta to the boiling water with Salt. Boil a separate pan of water for the Peas.

Whilst everything is cooking, zest the Lemon and boil the Peas. Drain the Peas then mash them up, add Salt and Pepper and the Lemon Zest.

The Chicken and Pasta should take around 8-10 minutes to cook, drain the Pasta saving some of the water and add to the Chicken with the Peas, Pesto and Cream Cheese, turn the heat down to low and add a little Water gradually to loosen up the sauce.

Once all mixed together I also stirred in a handful of Rocket for a bit more texture and flavour!

Hope you enjoy!

L x

Food Glorious Food

I love food. My days revolve around my meals, my work is food, a lot of my childhood memories I can remember certain days/occasions because of what I was eating… and despite this I have only come to terms recently to the very negative side to my relationship with food.

I will do a full recap for anyone new here, to be honest I don’t know how I didn’t realise a lot of this sooner but anyway here we are and I can genuinely say I feel more positive than ever towards the way I am eating and thinking about food.

I had an unhealthy relationship with food for as long as I can remember. I was overweight throughout my teens and as a young adult. At 21 years old I found out I was pregnant with Abbie, long story short it was a lonely time, a lot of the friends I had at the time well we would just go out in the week and at the weekend on huge benders… then of course I got pregnant and my life changed pretty drastically. When Abs was born I spent a lot of time indoors, eating, I would walk to the local shop and buy huge bars of chocolate and bags of crisps and just eat and watch tv whilst she slept. I used to cook huge meals for me and Kieran and eat the same amount as him. I have never ever EVER listened to my body when I’m eating, always eating to feel better but actually it always made me feel worse.

Christmas 2013

Despite feeling full or sluggish I would still continue to eat. Despite feeling low because I’d binged, being snappy and miserable to those around me, I would still continue to eat. This is something I was STILL doing up until about 2 months ago!

When Abbie was about 9 months old, I decided to join Slimming World… and I can honestly say it was such a positive decision to make. I thrived on the plan and managed to lose 5.5 stone in total, I felt amazing at 10st7 but I was adamant I still needed to lose 7lbs and be 10st exactly. I love Slimming World and what it has done for me in the long run, but I also developed bad habits in terms of weighing myself too regularly (I had never weighed myself really until I started Slimming World)… and thinking of some food as good/some food as bad etc… I would recommend it as a plan if you have alot of weight to lose but more importantly just start paying attention to your feelings before/after food! Will go into this more later… and link some older blog posts here for anyone wanting to know more about my weight loss… 

Weightloss in Numbers  photos of my Slimming World diary

Pregnancy After Weightloss when I was pregnant with Isla

Trying To Find Balance… Still! general chit chat about my ‘journey’ lots of photos!

November 2013 – Spring 2015

I continued to follow the plan throughout my pregnancy with Isla, after having Isla, I got a personal trainer @chesssmart … I still continued to eat very much the ‘Slimming World’ way but did calorie counting too, I also tried intermittent fasting but realised both of these just weren’t for me. I was still thinking about food all the time, trying to control certain aspects, having obsessive behaviour, feeling guilty if I ate badly for a day or 7… beating myself up and being aggy and miserable! I felt fit and amazing but was still having negative thoughts around food and feeling guilty but not as frequently, it has been quite a gradual ‘journey’ I would say getting to the headspace I am in now.

Summer 2017

When we moved house last year, and as Isla got more active and demanding, I stopped exercising regularly and do regret this because it did wonders to my mental health… but now instead of feeling bad about how my shape has changed in this space of time, I just embrace it and now I’m exercising having PT once a week again with Chess and working out at home 2-3 times a week with Jemmas Health Hub, trying very hard to focus on how it makes me FEEL and not weigh myself.

Now lets get onto the food!! So I don’t really know where this came from… thinking back to a couple of months ago I think I just felt a bit out of control… I wasn’t eating that great and I felt uncomfortable and sluggish. I was thinking daily about joining Slimming World again but I just knew I couldn’t have any restrictions, I just wanted to eat without feeling bad about any part of it. I had a good think about food, what made me feel good after eating, full, energised etc. So I simply started by thinking before eating a meal ‘how is this meal going to make me feel’ now I know it sounds a bit weird and cringe but let me explain for instance eating a Sausage Sandwich for breakfast on White Bread with lashings of Butter and Ketchup (I mean YAS lovely, I had one at the weekend because I had an adult headache :)) but how will I feel after eating that compared to Yoghurt, Fruit and Granola or Poached Eggs on Toast… or throwing Chicken Nuggets and Chips in the oven instead of boiling up a quick Pasta with so Veg and a bit of Chicken or fish, I would literally sit there and say to myself if you eat this… how will you feel after?

Then of course there are the times that you will want that Sausage Sandwich, that glass (bottle) of wine… that McDonalds… for me that is all part of life, and it was being able to do that without feeling guilty, just saying ‘yep do you know what, if you want that just bloody have it’ but noticing that maybe those meals aren’t quite as nourishing and just enjoying them and drawing a line. And I can honestly say that for the first time in probably my adult life I haven’t binged for nearly 3 months. Almost like just saying to myself you can have whatever you want when you want it, I always worried if I had too much freedom to just ‘allow’ myself to eat what I want that I would go mad and binge, but by giving myself the freedom and actually thinking and listening to my body, I’m eating better than I have done in probably my whole adult life, not just in a ‘healthy for my body’ sense but a ‘healthy for my mind’ sense too.

If anyone else is struggling with food and feeling guilty, restricted or anything… I would honestly say just try and spend some time to listen to your body, notice how it reacts to different food and how you feel, if you have time plan meals that you love that will satisfy you and make you happy, keep it interesting and if you want a takeaway just bloody have one and treat yourself every once in a while.

I won’t pretend I have it nailed, I still have negative thoughts and old habits creeping in BUT I just try and switch those thoughts to positive ones and remember there is much more to life than stressing over having your cake and eating it.

I really hope this post has helped even one person, please message or email me if you have any questions! I know so many of you will be Slimming Worlders or Ex like me and believe me I am not knocking it, it did amazing things for me but I just knew I couldn’t spend my life thinking about numbers on scales, sans, calories… it was all just taking up too much of my head space, I actually cant believe how little I think about what I’m eating/going to eat now. Yes some weeks are worse than others and some old habits and negative thoughts creep in but it’s just recognising that (its usually the week running up to my period!) and just allowing myself to have what ever I want… it really has made the world of difference.

Really hope this post has helped anyone!

L x

Hot Smoked Salmon Kedgeree

I was trying to think of some easy, healthy lunch ideas that I could make up to last me a couple of days. I love Kedgeree and its so filling, sometimes I’ll have it with Hot Smoked Mackerel but I definitely prefer it with Salmon.

For 2 portions you will need:

  • 2 Hot Smoked Salmon Fillets
  • 2 Eggs
  • 150g Rice
  • 100g Peas
  • 1 Onion diced
  • 1 tsp Butter
  • 600ml Chicken Stock
  • 1 tbsp Mild Curry Powder
  • 2 tsp Turmeric
  • Coriander
  • Chilli
  • Salt

Sweat the Onion with the Butter and pinch of Salt in a pan with the lid on for 10 minutes until soft.

Add the Rice, Curry Powder and Turmeric, put the lid back on and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the Chicken Stock and bring to the boil, then simmer until all the liquid is nearly gone.

Check the Rice and add more liquid if it still has a bite to it, once it is nearly cooked, add the Peas and cook for 1 minute, turn off the heat, put the lid back on the pan and leave to stand whilst you cook the Eggs.

Lower the Eggs into a pan of boiling water then boil for 6 minutes.

After 6 minutes run under a cold tap for a minute, then peel and cut into quarters.

Plate up the Rice and top with the Salmon, Eggs, some freshly chopped Coriander and Chilli.

And thats it!

I made enough for 2 so I can eat it again tomorrow for Lunch as it keeps fine in the fridge.

Hope you enjoy!

L x

Quorn and Chargrilled Veg Chilli

I have been meaning to make this for weeks! I picked up some Quorn mince in the supermarket after trying it at work and do you know what, it really isn’t so bad! I wanted to use it to make a nice Chilli, I think what I love the most about this is it is packed with Veg and high in Protein with the Quorn and the Kidney Beans. I chargrilled the Veg for extra flavour but you don’t have to! If you aren’t chargrilling, just dice the Courgette and Aubergine and add it to the pan when you add the Sweet Potato.

I made enough to feed the 5000 but it will freeze fine and keep in the fridge for a few days so it is batch cooking friendly!

For 6-8 portions you will need:

  • 1 bag of frozen Quorn Mince
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 2 Peppers
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 Courgette
  • 1 Aubergine
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Veg stock pot
  • 1 tin of Chopped/Plum Tomatoes
  • 1 carton Passata
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Coriander, Chilli and Spring Onion to Garnish
  • Creme Fraiche/Sour Cream

Peel and dice the Sweet Potato, dice the Peppers and Onion. Slice the Courgette and Aubergine into thick slices.

Sweat the Onion and Peppers and start chargrilling the Courgette and Aubergine.

Add the Quorn to the Onions and Peppers, with the Spices, Salt and the 2 cloves of Garlic crushed. Fry off for 2 minutes.

Add the tin of Tomatoes with half a tin of water,the carton of Passata and the Veg stock pot. Stir then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the Sweet Potato, cover and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Slice the Courgette and Aubergine into chunks.

Once the Sweet Potato is cooked, add the Chargrilled Veg and drain the tin of Red Kidney Beans and add this too. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve with the Coriander, Chilli and Spring Onion with a dollop of Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream.

And thats it!

I always think of meals without meat to be a bit ‘meh’ and not for me but this was so good and I loved that it was really healthy, filling and I have enough for Lunches/Dinners through the week if I don’t have time to cook.

Hope you enjoy!

L x

Current Skin Care Routine

I am going to start this by being really annoying and saying I have always had good skin, I don’t know why I feel like that’s annoying but I have family/friends who have suffered with acne and other skin problems and I know how painful that has been for them and how annoying it is when people talk about skincare etc when you have been trying everything to help yourself, we are all so different so I am just going to share what I am using and why, in the hope that someone might try some of the products and see results like I have!

That being said, what works for me, will not necessarily work for you, skin care is such a personal thing but I wanted to write a blog post about my current skin care routine firstly because every single thing I am using currently has been influenced by either people I follow on Instagram or YouTube videos I have watched. I absolutely love seeing people’s recommendations, especially when they are (I hope) genuine and it makes me try things that I wouldn’t of even known existed if I hadn’t seen them online!

Everything below is a genuine recommendation and I will talk through exactly what I have been doing and for how long, this blog is not sponsored in anyway shape or form but includes products that I received in a goody bag after an event so I didn’t buy it.

And secondly I wanted to write a blog post because I have been getting so many compliments about my skin recently not just from my stories but IRL too, which is lovely and I can say myself that my skin is the best it has been in years! After I had Isla, my skin took a huge turn for the worse, I was breaking out regularly and my forehead was covered in bumps that just weren’t going away not matter how much I exfoliated. I would say all of the products I have been using, have improved my skin by making it smoother and brighter, and haven’t been getting many spots, only when I’m due on I just get a few round my chin but I can live with that.

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So firstly, I have been limiting dairy in my diet. I say limiting because there is absolutely no way I would ever give up cheese. I have swapped cows milk in my drinks for Oat milk and I haven’t really been eating chocolate. It’s not something I’m hugely focusing on or worried about… like if I pop to my Mums for a coffee I’ll just have normal milk but I would say I am definitely eating less dairy than I was and just being a bit more conscious of what I’m eating in general.

Sticking with the point of what I’m putting in, water water water. I cannot stress this enough. I try and drink as much as I can, which lets be honest, after two very large baby’s and never doing my pelvic floor exercises can be a bit stressful. So I have a rule that the days I’m at home most of the day (and always near the bathroom) I will drink lots and lots of water. And then alcohol, I’ve been trying to just stick to one day a week if I fancy a drink, not always do able if there is stuff going on but generally I do think the weeks where I don’t have a lot on and I’ve not had a drink, my skin is just that bit brighter!

Right let’s get to the fun stuff, the products. I will just talk about this in like a step by step way and try not to waffle too much.

Cleansing

I have been using Clinique Take the Day Away for quite a while now. It was one of those products I’d heard of but was like really does it live up to the hype?… I had some Amazon vouchers to use so I bought it… and would say I noticed a positive difference to my skin fairly quickly. All the bumps on my forehead which I’d had since having Isla are now practically gone and it is absolutely amazing at removing makeup. I use this as my night time cleanser for my first cleanse. You can buy it from loads of different places but I order online, will pop a link here.

Then for my morning cleanse and my second evening cleanse I use Superdrug Cleanser. I feel like I’m not explaining this very well so just to clarify, I cleanse once in the morning using just the Superdrug cleanser and in the evening I cleanse twice using Clinique first, Superdrug second! I get mine direct from Superdrug, and it’s usually always on offer either 3 for 2 or half price.

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I have about 12 flannels in my airing cupboard, they are cheap as chips from Primark and I use a new clean flannel every morning and every evening, and another thing I always do is make sure I wash my hands before I wash my face, clean clean clean.

I would say that cleansing is probably the most important and beneficial thing I have been doing. I used to be so lazy at washing my face and now if I’m feeling lazy and can’t be bothered I will at least make sure I’ve cleansed.

Tone

Is this even actually a thing anymore? I don’t even know what to call it… I kind of think of this as like a third cleanse or an acid cleanse but whatevs I’m just going to call it ‘tone’.

I use the Superdrug Glycolic Toner, morning and night after my cleanser.

I have found this to really help the texture of my skin and just think it’s a lot smoother since I have been using this product and best part is it is so cheap!

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I just squeeze a load onto a cotton pad and swipe it all over my face and neck.

Another product I have been using to tone, is Alpha H Liquid Gold. This has quite frankly been a game changer for me. I noticed results pretty quickly and I just love how my skin looks and feels in the morning the night after I’ve used this. I use it every other night as it is quite acidic, my skin is really tingly after using it and I don’t use anything after it on the nights that I use it. I just cleanse twice, swipe the Alpha H Liquid Gold all over my face and thats it. I will pop a link of where you can get some from here. It’s on the pricier side of skin care, but I’ve had it around 2 and a half months and would say I definitely have another 4-6 weeks left before I would need to re purchase (which I will 100% be doing).

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Serum and SPF

I recently went to an event with Murad Skin Care, I honestly have never heard of them before but after using their Rapid Age Spot Correcting Serum  for a couple of months, I would be swayyed to try other products of theirs. I was kindly gifted their Serum and also their City Skin SPF which not only protects against sun damage but pollution too. I have been using both of the products and loving them. The Serum is really light and I use it in the morning after I’ve cleansed and toned, I find it really brightens my skin, then I pop a bit of the SPF on after that. If I’m wearing makeup I don’t use the SPF as all of my base products contain SPF, I just hate the feeling of too much stuff on my skin so I will leave it out. Both of the Murad products are probably a lot more than I would normally spend on skincare, but if skincare is your bag and you like high end, I would definitely recommend. As alternatives I’ve been looking at other serums high in Vitamin C like the Murad one and really like the look of The Ordinary’s version (very cheap) and also want to try Elizabeth Arden’s Prevage City Smart, as I’ve heard great things.

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Night Oil

This is something I’ve wanted to treat myself to for a very very long time! I have naturally oily skin and was a bit sceptical but I always see others using Oils at night and saying great things, so I took the plunge, which I always think it feels like a bit of risk when you spend money on skin care just incase it doesn’t agree with you, but this particlar brand, I generally always see very positive things about so I knew I wanted to try it. I went for Sunday Riley Luna , my skin is always glowing and smooth in the morning and I use this on the nights that I don’t use the Alpha H Liquid Gold. I will definitely be re purchasing this, it comes in a small or big bottle, just make sure you screw the lid on properly, I had an incident with Isla where I hadn’t screwed the lid back on the night before, in the morning she grabbed it off the side saying ‘bot bot’ (its got like a teat/dropper on the top) and spilt some of it… that being said its lasted me around 2 and a half months.

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And thats the lot!

I am definitely spending more time and effort on my skin now than I ever have, but can honestly say I’m reaping the benefits! If anyone else uses these products and loves them please let me know or if you know any great dupes of the pricier items, I would love to know that too!

L x

This blog post contains some affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.