Sunday, 23 November 2014

Review: The Vitamix Aspire, the must have gadget for Healthy Cooks

The reason why my first review for anything on this blog is for the Vitamix Aspire is because it has literally changed the way I cook and eat. Without it I wouldn't get to try out all the amazing recipes I find on the internets or make a soup in under ten minutes. It’s one of the things I would grab in a fire, replace without question and possibly kiss goodnight.

The Boss
Recently I’ve had a lot of comments on my Instagram about the food that I showcase. This happens particularly with the desserts, of which there are many, because I am on a forever quest to find the perfect healthy dessert for me. In fact, dessert pictures are the ones the get the most attention on IG full stop. Sure, my photography skills are pretty fly, but it clearly has a lot to do with the recipes that I find. When my friends have asked me for these recipes because they're itching to try them at home, I gladly hand them over with a word of caution. This caution comes from my own experience of wasting hours as well as expensive ingredients when I've used equipment that just wasn't up to the task. You see, most of the healthy dessert recipes that I find require the kind of work that only my most favourite kitchen instrument can do. So although I end up sounding like I'm working on commission for Vitamix (I should be so lucky), I advise them to invest in one because I know that, like me, they won't regret it if they do.  

Make no mistake, friends, this isn’t the your run of the mill kitchen purchase. Getting a Vitamix is a wise investment just like buying Mayfair in Monopoly is as long as you’ve got Park Lane. Hold your breath, my Vitamix Aspire was a tidy £400. Again, I point to my cheapo-ness that I referred to in my last post so believe me when I say that purchasing my Vitamix was not a decision that I made without a lot of debate and research. I’m not in a position to drop a couple of hundred quid willy nilly (Probably the most British sentence I’ve ever written) so this bitch had to be worth it. 

But, oh my, it so is. 

At the moment, I’m using my Vitamix about four times a week at least. In the summer, when I have smoothies for breakfast, I use it every day. I’ve made smoothies, ice cream, soups, desserts, nut butters, sauces, and even used it to chop up veg when I can’t be bothered to get the knife and cutting board out (This is really handy when I’m in a rush but still want a juice). I feel like a gangster in the kitchen when I make quick word of almonds for my almond butter or frozen bananas for some quick healthy ice cream. If I was on a desert island experiencing mirages, mine would include a Vitamix along with Ryan Gosling and some coconut oil (I’m sure you’ll appreciate all of the above have multi uses for I am a resourceful girl). 

One of the tasty treats make with the help of my Vitamix
I have the wet container, which was the one that it came. I’ve been meaning to get the dry container but after a year of learning how to get the most out of it, I haven’t seen the need. Yes, I admit that when it first graced my kitchen side with its precence I went straight into processing dry datesand it cut out. After freaking out and having a mini diva strop in the kitchen, I swore that I’d take it back to the store and never again. That is until I actually read the manual and realised that cutting out is all part of the machines design to prevent the motor from blowing up. It’s the machines way of saying: “Back off, bitch!”. Important lesson here: the Vitamix Aspire is not an invincible piece of equipment and you do need to take your time when using it (The same applies to making sure the lids on properly when you start it. Made that mistake once...never again, I tell you!). My Vitamix and I get on just fine now. It hasn’t cut out for ages because I now soak my dates like I probably should do anyway considering I am still using the ‘wet’ container to this day.

If it died tomorrow there is no way I would get a cheaper alternative. Any time I cook at someone else's and use their blender, the quality just isn’t the same. When I return home and use my machine I remember just why I have one. Trust me, I would LOVE to find a cheaper version, but so far no such luck. If you know different, do share. 

It's the bees knees, the dogs bollocks and all that there is in between. All there is left to say is that so far I’m addicted. Vitamix, you complete me. 

x KB

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Fighting colds, the flu and any other winter related snotfest the natural way.

With a heavy weekend behind me, I feel like my body is currently treading on that thin line between feeling a bit run down and moving onto full blown snotty sickness. Tis’ the season to stock up on tissues after all, right? Sometimes we get sick and just have to deal with it. Since I’ve been trying to live the healthy lifestyle and be more mindful of what I put in my body, I’ve looked to natural remedies instead of heading straight to the over the counter concoctions to combat the sniffles and help me recover faster. 

Whenever I got a cold when I was young I would shudder in my boots and well as blow my nose because it meant only one thing: Dad was going to make his all natural anti-cold brew. He swore it would be the only thing that would help me feel like a person again. It was part ginger, part lemon, part garlic all yucky, throat burning, hell. But, it worked. I’m not surprised considering that each of those ingredients is a killer for battling the common cold:
Picked this zesty baby up from the FARMacy

Ginger:  Prevents and treats colds, sore throats and inflammation of your mucus membranes. It’s claimed that ginger reduces pain and fever as well as a host of other goodies that you can find here

Garlic: A powerhouse natural antibiotic that is excellent for fighting colds, coughs and the flu as well as boosting your immunity plus so much more. And it scared vampires off...of course!

Lemon: I drink warm water with lemon every morning to kick-start my digestion (And lucky me, I’ve trained my partner to make it for me every morning). Lemons are famously high in vitamin C and great for detox so another natural anti-cold powerhouse. Their health benefit list is crazy amazing.

I guess that ‘Drink from Hell’ was my first lesson in the ‘power’ of real food. No chemicals needed, and for me I feel just that bit better knowing that. 

Other natural remedies I’ve used and will use again when snotty include:

Gargle that salt- Sore throats are a nightmare and one of my real pet peeves. I find that gargling with warm water which has about a teaspoon of dissolved salt in it a few times a day alleviates that horrid feeling like magic. According to the power of google, the salt cuts the mucus and reduces the inflammation, so lessoning that nasty knife swallowing feeling. Just don’t swallow the salt water- something I learnt from an 80s episode of Home and Away- if you do that you may upchuck and that isn’t gonna help that throat. 

Drink up- One word: Hydration. If you’re fighting illnesses you need to keep your fluids up. Whether it’s hot water with lemon and honey, herbal teas, fresh juice or just a simple, beautiful glass of water.  

Gentle Yoga- Being inactive makes me feel poo. But when I’m sick, I know I that trying to beat my squat record when I can’t breathe through either nostril isn’t going to make me feel better. Instead, I take it slow with some light Yoga. Turn to YouTubes Yoga with Adriene, who has a great sequence to do when you’re sick. After completing this short video, I actually felt a hell of a lot better than I would have done sinking into my couch, covered in tissues watching another Vampire Diaries episode. 

Get some rest, idiot. I confess, I’m a bit of a night owl who is sometimes, maybe all the time, checking her phone, playing words with friends or watching a YouTube video. This doesn’t make early nights happen. And we know we need rest when our body is fighting a nasty. So be strong, switched off whatever electronic equipment you’ve got around you and put yourself to bed to catch those Z’s. 

Prevention: Oops, too late? The old saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ is a saying for a reason. Prepare your body for the winter months and you might get lucky and not have to splurge on the kleenex. I am a big user of echinacea, which has been reported to prevent colds as much as it’s been reported not to do a thing. Maybe it’s a placebo affect, but for me when the winter comes in I start adding it to my juice just out of habit. Practical wise, I will be more cautious washing my hands around my colleagues who bring their colds to the office (Cheers) as well as avoid smooching them at the Christmas party (Obvy). And another obvious one: stick to eating foods which are real and not a processed sugar fest that's only going to feed a virus. 

Enough about my experiences, what natural remedies sort you out a treat when you've got the sniffles? 

Have a lovely week,

x KB
Sunday, 2 November 2014

Staying Active in the Winter: AKA no WinterFAIL for you, my friend.

If you’re reading this in the UK, I’m sure that you are highly aware of the seasonal change thanks to the clocks going back last week (If not, consider this an education as to why you kept being so early for everything). Yes, you gained a new hour in bed in the morning but that excitement may have wore off that first Monday evening as you travelled back from work in the dark. You know, just the same darkness you left your home in hours earlier. Our days are now shorter and it’s getting colder, leaving me to conclude that mother nature doesn’t give a crap about your or my summer fitness routine. It's all change here. 
Embracing the crap out of Winter (Thermals not visible)

So the question is: how in the hell are we supposed to keep up with this healthy living, active thing when our couches and beds have now morphed into alluring cocoons ready to pad our butts right through into spring? After a bit of research, talking to myself in the car and chatting with my mates, I give you my top ways to keep active when it’s so cold outside, your nipples might actually fall off...

Think differently: Yes, it’s cold, dark and probably raining. We can either get really pissed off about it and resign ourselves to couch duty until the clocks change back, or use it to motivate us to try something new. The cold, hard fact here is that exercise is good for our mental health and wellbeing. You’ve heard the reports, you’ve felt the benefits yourself. You know, even if it’s really deep down, it’s not a load of bollocks. So with this in our heads, we know that continuing with keeping active will help us to have a happier, more positive outlook regardless of the weather that lies outside our door. Revisit your goals and inspiration so you can embrace the new season with the same kind of tenacity that you found over the summer. 

Spend some quality time with your TV: Running is my thing. Running in the dark by myself, however, isn’t. Winter is a great time to pull out those dusty fitness DVDs or turn to the numerous YouTube fitness gurus. There’s a massive variety: Yoga, Pilates, HIIT, ballet, dance- you name it, it’s available whenever the time is best for you. It depends on how much room you have, your lifestyle and how many kids will be watching you trying to stand on your head at the time. And the added bonus of having someone yell at you to move from your TV is that you can chose to partake at a time that suits you.  

Become a Gym Bunny: If you’re really against the feeling of an ice block being pressed against your face as you go outside for your endorphin dose. Or you don’t have enough room in your humble abode to end your day to carry out a billions star jumps, then winter is the perfect time to nose about your local gym. Yes, I’m not denying that they can initially be scary places. But I will say to you what my Super Gym Bunny friend said to me: check your ego. The majority of people are there for themselves and are not paying attention to how long you’ve been on the running machine or how many reps you’ve done. Go there for you; they are. Stop looking for excuses and instead say ‘yes’ to new experiences, new social connections and a new shape of ass for the spring. 

Get over it and get outside: It’s really easy to get stuck indoors in the darker months. Just like it’s easy to forget what you look like without clothes on when you’re spending most cold nights in a onesie (No shame). You go from home to car to work to car to home again quickly forgetting what the outside world actually looks like. We don’t want this, so we need to change up our routines. Run on weekends if you can’t get home for the light. Play a winter sport if you think you look good in puffy pants. And if your looking for something that’s less high impact, have you thought about walking outdoors? It’s free, you don’t need any equipment and it’s available to almost everyone. Set yourself a goal to get outside every day and use that time to leave your phone at home, take stock of the subtle seasonal changes around you and be in the moment. Even better if you have a willing partner or children to come with you. Use that time to be together without iPhones, TVs or the to do list. Make it your time to connect and improve yours and your families wellbeing. Getting matching wellies is optional but think of the instagram possibilities! 

Do it to warm up: Let us not forget that increasing your heart rate will warm you up. Those who know me well are more than aware of my penny saving antics in my day to day life. A good friend of mine was in hysterics when I told her last year that I refused to put my heating on before December (A challenge that I failed in). Yes, when I got home sometimes I felt like staying outside was the more temperate option, but some of the positives of being such a cheapo was that being cold motivated me to move my body. Although I don’t recommend that you lot challenge yourself like I did with my heating, I do want to point out that on those evenings or mornings when you say to yourself “Bah heck, it’s bloody cold” remember that going out for a 20 min run, or doing a 20 minute HIIT routine will warm you up better than a hundred cuddling, fluffy, heated teddybears. 

We can do this, people. We can see this winter through and still keep active. It can be done, it’s only you who can make it happen. Let’s stick with each other through this!

x KB


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