Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Shake it up

So last Friday I had a cheeky day off work which resulted in me lounging around the house making smoothies and catching up on some much needed TV. There is no denying the fact that I am a huge health freak, a HUGE one, so making smoothies is sort of my forte.. or at least it should be. Just lately I have jumped right back on that healthy bandwagon. I am eating much healthier than I have done in a while and am also working out a lot more too. As I had some leftover spinach and lots of fruit lying around the house, I thought I would make myself some extra green smoothies. Now there are lots of quick and tasty recipes across the internet but me being me, I decided to make up my own (no measurements required).

So to make this super delicious and of course healthy smoothie, you will need:

- A bowl of spinach
- A scoop of protein powder (I used a chocolate and nut one)
- A bowl of raspberries
- One banana 
- A handful of strawberries
- Some ice
- A teaspoon of honey
- A blender
- Some water to liquidise (you can use milk too)

Start off with your spinach
Add this to the blender
Then add the ice to form a mixture
Add your raspberries and some water (or milk) to smooth further
Add your additional fruit - banana and strawberries in my case
Add your protein powder
And blend
So there you have it, one tasty and delicious super green smoothie all made by me. This is such a simple way to use up leftover ingredients and to kick-start your healthy lifestyle. It may look a bit intimidating but honestly it doesn't taste half as bad as it looks! I really enjoy making smoothies if I am feeling run down or if I have a few spare minutes on my hand. I know a lot of people enjoy this for breakfast or as a quick and healthy snack. However you choose to enjoy yours, make it a good one.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Miller and Carter Steakhouse review

So on Tuesday it was my old man's birthday, and what better way to celebrate than by going for a nice juicy steak. This was my third visit to the Miller and Carter and once again, I wasn't disappointed. Well known for it's steak, the Miller and Carter offers a whole range of delectable steaks along with some of the tastiest sauces and sides.I am not usually one for sticking to the same dishes when I go out, but knowing how good the food is here, I simply couldn't go for anything else. Mushrooms in a cheesy sauce with garlic bread to start, and Rib eye steak, chips with a side lettuce topped with bacon and honey mustard for my main. The food was unreal as usual, even though my steak was a bit too rare for my liking.

We arrived at the Miller and Carter around 6pm where there was not a sole in sight. Perfect - I can't say I am a huge fan of busy restaurants. After taking our seats overlooking the lake at Sutton Park, we were greeted by our waitress, the same lady who tends to serve us every time we pay the restaurant a visit. I don't know if that's just luck, but she's a pleasant little old lady nevertheless. In terms of the service, I would definitely recommend the Miller and Carter. A word of advice though, do book in advance if you can as it starts to fill up quickly after half 6 so you will find yourself waiting around for a table. On this particular evening, the restaurant were testing out a new menu so to speak, which didn't go down too well with the group of friends sitting next to us. However, I can't say there were any outrageous changes on their to cause a fuss about. 

Our bill came to a total of £75 which is amazing considering we ordered three starters, three mains and three alcoholic beverages. There wasn't room for a sweet this time round unfortunately but if I had the choice, I definitely would have gone for the chocolate brownie or Belgian chocolate ganache. A great evening with some great quality food; I would definitely recommend the Miller and Carter to those of you who enjoy a steak cooked to perfection along with some delicious extras.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

World Mental Health Week

So last week, we saw people all across the world celebrating World Mental Health week in various shapes and forms. Working for a Mental Health Trust, mental health is a phrase I am exposed to daily and one I am able to speak about openly and confidently. However, the same can't be said for your everyday person, your supposedly 'happy' celebrity. Mental health, it appears, is something many of us are too embarrassed or afraid to speak about. Even though the stigmas surrounding mental health are currently being challenged more than ever today, in the media especially, this is something that needs to be addressed. We are certainly seeing an increase in people opening up about their mental health state. However, I think we still have a long way to go before this is something that is discussed openly and willingly.

I had a great day on Saturday at our own World Mental Health event, speaking with a whole range of people, mainly volunteers and service users who were able to share their experiences with the public, and really challenge those stigmas surrounding mental health. I think raising awareness of it, especially in those deprived areas is extremely important as individuals may not be as knowledgeable on how to go about seeking help. From my personal experience, I now understand what it means to be mentally ill. However, prior to this, I had no idea of the impact of such an illness on your life. 

We are often too quick to feel sorry for someone with a broken leg or a bleeding nose, but this is only because we can see their pain.  So what happens when you can't see the problem? Does this mean it's okay to ignore it or to not ask them if they're okay? Of course not. Sometimes it is the little things, like asking them how their day is going or if they would like a chat. Those things I have learnt are the most important when helping someone on their road to recovery. Take the #findmike campaign. This went global and rightly so. An ordinary man offering his time to someone who had quite clearly given up on life. Mental health isn't something we can see so clearly, but I would say it is more important to take care of than our physical health. If you aren't feeling well enough to leave the house or carry out day to day tasks, then this may escalate into more problematic issues.

We need to open our eyes more to what mental health really means. Mental health doesn't have to mean suicidal, it can refer to a whole range of problems. Maybe someone is stressed at work or has lost a loved one and isn't feeling too cheerful. If they get help early then they are likely to make a quick and full recovery. It is when the problems aren't addressed, and people don't want to open up when things start to become more complicated. Obviously you have your more severe cases, but everyone deserves to be listened to, everyone deserves a voice. We all experience hard times in our life, but the hardest thing of all, opening up and speaking to someone. Don't be embarrassed, don't be afraid of the unknown. More than likely you are not alone and there will be someone out there to help you. It definitely needs more intervention and hopefully in next year's election, this will be addressed. 

What's your stance on mental health? How did you spend world mental health week?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Why I love Quorn

One of my favourite Quorn dishes - Spaghetti Bolognese
Quorn; a brand that isn't for everyone, but one that has certainly got me excited. I suppose you either love it or hate it as the cliché saying goes and I know too many people who hate it. But why? Does it really taste that bad? The answer to that is no, of course it doesn't else it wouldn't have the success it has had. People are afraid of change, the unknown but most importantly, healthy eating. I have heard too many people disregard Quorn as being a 'fungus', or turn their noses at its 'unnaturalness'. Yes, about as unnatural as that pizza and chips you are eating...

Yes, it's not meat and it is handmade but it's a whole lot healthier than a lot of products you find in the food aisles these days, and that's why I love it. I am no veggie don't get me wrong but I am a health freak so naturally I was destined to fall in love with this brand. Marketed as a 'healthy protein', this isn't just for you none meat eaters, it's for the gym lovers out there (men and women), and even for families too. There are so many delicious recipes to be found over at the Quorn website and no excuse as to what to do with your product. Even I didn't realise quite the selection they had until I did some further research online.

Some of my fave products in the Quorn brand include the Quorn mince and the Quorn sausage. By purchasing Quorn, I am able to make the dishes I love but healthier alternatives, and this is why Quorn works for me. I am sure everyone has their own stories as to why they like using Quorn products. Two of my favourite meals are sausage sandwiches and spaghetti bolognese. I am now able to enjoy a sausage sandwich on a Saturday morning after a night out without the guilt, or cook up one of my family favourites, spaghetti bolognese without the heaps of saturated fat. It's difficult to find a mince that is healthy lets admit it, even the mince with reduced saturated fat is bad for you. It's processed meat and something we need to be eating less of. Sausage, ham and bacon is the same, it's not real meat just like Quorn, the only difference being, Quorn is good for you. Their products may not taste exactly like the real thing but this is another reason why I love them - they are unique in both flavour and appearance. 

The great thing about Quorn products is that you can cook them from frozen and they don't take too long to cook either. Just take them out of your freezer and pop them in the oven for 10-20 minutes. I must also mention how cheap their products are too. You wouldn't think it but you can get a huge 500g bag of mince which is said to feed 6-7 for just £1.50. I have certainly stocked up and am always looking for new products to try. Next on my list is their meat free wafer thin ham and chicken along with their meat free burgers. I have tried their chicken pieces too but I won't be purchasing these again as I eat a lot of fresh chicken anyway and this isn't exactly bad for you.

So for anyone who loves the gym and cares about their health I recommend you trying these products,that's if you haven't already. I am obsessed by the word protein so the words 'healthy protein' do funny things to my body. Protein is not only good for rebuilding our muscles, it forms part of a balanced diet, and something we need to be eating more of.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Opus Restaurant Birmingham Review

This is going to be a fairly short one from me as unfortunately my phone decided to die on me last weekend whilst visiting this beautiful restaurant on one of Birmingham's undiscovered back streets. However, it is definitely one to mention and well worth a visit.

I think the first thing that stuck me about this restaurant was it's contemporary exterior. It is very alluring; I certainly wouldn't have been able to walk past without having a nose in. Once inside, I felt completely relaxed. The service was spot on all night and we were made to feel very much at home. The constant flow of wine didn't go a miss either. It is definitely somewhere to visit with friends or your colleagues - serving upmarket food at affordable prices throughout the day. Once inside, we found a mixture of people, but mainly couples and businessmen. Again, the modern interior décor added that extra bit of class to the this simple yet stunning little restaurant. 

My new work colleagues and I all decided to go for the market menu which offered three courses for just £16 which is amazing value for money. As we were trying to be 'good', we decided to skip dessert and just go for the two courses, a starter and a main which was a little cheaper at £14. I decided on the salmon tart to start with, which came with a simple salad garnish and a tasty seafood sauce. For my main course, I had a spinach, broccoli and cheese ravioli. I must say even though the portions were fairly small, the food was really delicious. I am not a huge fish fan but the salmon tart was the perfect starter; very light on the palette and a clean eat too. Again, my main course wasn't something I would usually go for but I really enjoyed this vegetarian option so to speak. I love spinach, and again this was a very light and fairly healthy dish (minus the cheese).

Overall, we had a brilliant night. I would definitely recommend Opus to those finer diners out there, who are searching for some quality reasonably priced food in a quiet and relaxed setting. I will certainly be returning to this restaurant, only next time I will be pushing the boat out that little more and trying the al a carte menu.
Thursday, 2 October 2014

Eyebrow Envy

There is no denying the impact eyebrows have had on the beauty industry over the past year or so. I certainly have eyebrow envy a lot of the time when I'm out and about. Gone are the days when it seemed the thinner the better. Big eyebrows are in and I am always on the lookout for ways to make mine more defined. I stopped threading my eyebrows about two years ago now and have tried to grow them back as best as I could. I like my eyebrows to a certain degree but I do feel naked now without any eyebrow definer on. I can't seem to grow them back to their full thickness, probably because of all the plucking and threading over the years. Thankfully there are hundreds of products on the market now to fix this.

I must say, I have tried my fair few eyebrow definers over the last couple of years and in this post I am going to talk you through a few of my personal favourites.

First off is this Mac crayon. I have mentioned this in one of my previous beauty posts here as it is truly amazing. However, it doesn't last that long if you are using it everyday and therefore not the best value for money. In terms of coverage there are a range of shades to choose from and it is very long wearing. There is certainly no need to touch up your eyebrows throughout the day, the crayon is both sweat and waterproof resistant. If you haven't already tried this product then I would 100% recommend it. Possibly my favourite eyebrow product on the market at the moment.

I would give this product a 9/10.

Secondly is this fairly new product by Benefit called 'Gimme Brow'. After a Benefit makeover in store quite recently I was reluctant to part with £17.50. However, of course I caved in and went back last week to pick one up from store. I have only been using this product a few days but I must say it's as amazing as I remember it to be during my makeover. A wand applicator, it is recommended that you apply this product backwards through your brows for ultimate definition. I am not to sure how long it's going to last me but it's definitely one of the better products on the market at the moment. It's very natural looking and again is long wearing. You can always rely on Benefit to bring you some of the best beauty products on the market to date.

I would give this product an 8/10.

Thirdly is this Rimmel eyebrow pencil. I am not too keen on this product but it's cheap and good for those days when you aren't going anywhere special but still require a bit of eyebrow coverage. Another great thing about this product is that it's very long lasting. I have this one for over a year now and even though I don't use it everyday it is still going strong. A word of advice, there aren't many shades in this product compared to the Mac definer for example, so make sure you test this beforehand to make sure you get the closest shade to suit your eyebrows.

I would give this product a 7/10.

Finally we have this eyebrow palette by ELF cosmetics. Again a different format to the other products in this post, this eyebrow definer comes with both a gel and powder section. I think this may be the cheapest eyebrow definer out of those featured in the post. I ordered this Ebay and I can't say I am overly impressed. I find this product quite difficult to use on my eyebrows for some reason and won't be purchasing it again. The gel which is used to shape your eyebrows rubs off quite easily, whereas the powder which is used to fill in your eyebrows is fairly light. Obviously you can see a difference but it's not a quick process like the Mac crayon which is so easy to use.

What is your favourite eyebrow definer on the market? Do you have any recommendations?


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