Sunday, 14 December 2014

ITS BEGINNING TO FEEL A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS

So sacrifices have to be made



My bouts of absence from the blogosphere are comparable to my bouts of colds (as in the viral infection rather than the weather): they happen approximately three times a year; appear to arrive when I’m super busy; and leave me feeling a bit down. Well, this is my third bout of absenteeism from blogging this year (although fortunately I haven’t had a cold this winter, touch wood), so may I take this opportunity, again, to apologise for the lack of posts; and instead of cramming in a collection of hastily-written posts just to maintain consistency, I’ve decided to resume the blogging again in the New Year and get on with some other lovely activities that traditionally take over my life during the festive season:
  • Tying up end-of-year loose ends at work so I can enjoy a longer Christmas break
  • Taking on extra projects to afford me some new bags and shoes, and some luxury travel in 2015
  • Shopping for gifts for others
  • Shopping in the sales for me
  • Catching up with family and friends across the UK – wining and dining and exchanging presents
  • Attending work-related and non-work-related Christmas parties and dinners
  • Exercising more to compensate for all the extra treats -  have you ever taken my calorie awareness quiz?
  • Enjoying some me-time after a long day or week

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Healthy and Happy New Year. I’m hoping to find this baby under my tree this year, but I’ll let you know whether my wish came true when I return in 2015 or on Instagram.


Aspinal of London



Later x

Sunday, 30 November 2014

FLAT LAYS

The skin essentials edit

Source: Pinterest
If you follow the fashion bloggers on Instagram, you’ll have probably noticed the currently trending ‘flat lay’ photos displaying Daniel Wellington watches, Chanel Boy bags, Ray-Ban sunglasses, rock-stud Valentinos, YSL cosmetics, the latest glossy and Canon cameras, to name a few blogger essentials. Flat lays have become the new ‘in’ thing on Instagram according to Vogue who declared that ‘they’re a classic, simple and chic way to show off your favourite objects and current addictions in a pretty way’.

With the skin-biting, crisp, wintry weather in full force and all the festive parties yet to come, I thought I’d do my version of a flat lay (I cheated a bit by putting all the pictures together as a collage rather than a traditional flat lay) and show you some of my favourite things and current addictions that I do/use to help me achieve radiant, healthy skin. They include (but not limited to):

  • A diet rich in healthy fats and vitamin E -  vitamin E is an antioxidant and very well known for its skin health properties. As an antioxidant, it can protect the skin from collagen damaging radicals. Key sources of healthy fats and vitamin E include avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil
  • Oily fish – oily fish, such as salmon, is rich in omega 3 fats which are important for skin health because of their anti-inflammatory properties and function in the skin’s cell membranes:  omega 3 fats aid better oxygen delivery to the skin, better transport of nutrients to the skin and enhance the skin’s ability to retain moisture
  • Water  -  for good hydration of the skin to reveal a more plump appearence
  • A diet rich in antioxidants – these are found in many foods but my favourite source is fruit and vegetables, particularly berries. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which can cause damage and degradation of the skin’s collagen fibres, leading to reduced skin elasticity and resilience (=wrinkles) and a dulled, less plump appearance of the skin! 
  • Skin cleansing, skin toning, skin brushing, exfoliating and moisturising - working on the outside as well as the inside
  • Exercising – it’s like giving my skin a mini facial sauna without the artificial heat. Exercise can help open the pores and boost circulation giving you that all important glow


What are your current favourites for healthy skin?

Later x

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A LITTLE SNACK BEFORE I GO

and then I'm ready to party


I wouldn't call myself a party animal, those days are long gone, but I do enjoy all the festive parties and celebrations that appear in my calendar at this time of year, especially the ones that other people are paying for; and as expected, every event involves calorie-laden food and alcohol.

Call me strange but, more often than not, I like to have a little snack before I go out for dinner/drinks. Of course it mops up some of the alcohol, but it also prevents me from being over-ravenous and consequently craving and eating foods and quantities that I would otherwise avoid. If I’m not starving, I tend to be more sensible with what I pick up at the buffet table or what I order off the menu. I do treat myself when I eat out, but it is more of a case of damage limitation rather than an all-out blow-out; Christmas lasts 6 weeks these days so I can’t afford (weight wise and money wise) to be completely blasé about my food choices.

One of the snacks I enjoy is hummus because it’s a versatile, healthy snack that’s actually quite easy to make at home. Yes I hear you saying, ‘why don’t you just buy hummus instead of making it?’, but I say where possible why buy it when you can make it. It’s just more satiating physically and psychologically when you’re eating your own fresh, home-cooked food, right? And in some cases it’s healthier too because you essentially know what ingredients are going into your own dish.

So here is my hummus dip recipe, which depending on my mood and appetite I eat with pitta break, cracker breads such as Ryvita or crudités. The ingredients in hummus are heart-healthy too: chickpeas provide soluble fibre, which can help lower cholesterol and olive oil is high in the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

What are your favourite snacks -  in general?

                                                      ______________________________

WHAT I USED
A whole can of chickpeas in water
A lemon
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Herbs (salt, paprika, cumin)
Tomato puree
Red onion



WHAT I DID
After draining and rinsing the chickpeas, I put the majority of them in a food processor together with the juice of the lemon, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of cumin and parika and a dash of salt. (reserve some of the chickpeas for the next step).

Once the hummus was blended to a paste, I sautéed some red onions in olive oil, paprika and tomato puree, and then added the reserved chickpeas to fry with the sautéed ingredients.

Once the chickpeas had cooked down, I added the sautéed mixture to the blended hummus.

The whole chickpeas and sautéed onions add a nice texture and flavour to the finished dip.


I served mine with warm pitta bread, and I've had the leftovers with cracker breads the next day too. 









#yum -  now I'm ready to partaaay!

Later x

Sunday, 16 November 2014

TIME TO LOSE POUNDS/DOLLARS/EUROS.........

.......and, perhaps, gain lbs (or kilograms, whatever unit you work in)





When did it all happen? I mean, one minute I’m wearing spaghetti string tops, sunglasses and gladiator sandals, and the next minute I’m wrapped up in my thermals with a hat and umbrella, walking along the streets of Birmingham town centre dodging my way past the hoards of shoppers and a mile-long trail of festivities that decorate the high street. Time has flown by and now it’s official: the Christmas countdown has begun and it seems to kick off earlier and earlier each year, doesn’t it? I don’t know whether the wave of anxiety that has swept across me in the past few days is an emotion of dread or one of excitement about the lead up to the ‘Big Day’ – probably a combination of both.

The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market, also known as the German Market, opened for its 14th successive year last week; this is the occasion that marks Christmas in Birmingham. I’m not a huge fan of this annual event: I don’t drink beer; I don’t like Frankfurters; I hate overcrowded spaces; and I can think of nothing worse (well, maybe a few things) than standing outside in the cold and rain eating, drinking and trying to be merry – give me an afternoon tea in a chic restaurant any day. Anyway, apparently the market attracted five million visitors in 2013 and is reported to be the largest authentic German market outside Germany and Austria so my opinion really counts for nothing and is probably in the minority; I would, however, recommend anyone visiting Birmingham to go take a peek, even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes, like I did this weekend.

Walking through the market, watching people gorge on huge Frankfurters, pints of beer and various sweet treats reminded me why the average person is reported to consume an extra 500 calories per day - equating to a weight gain of around 5lbs - over the festive period. I wrote a blog post last year and the year before about managing your weight over Christmas and I thought I would be a bit of a Scrooge and take the opportunity to direct you back to these posts (here). Of course if you’re one of those people who have decided to forget about your weight and healthy lifestyle for the next month or so and start again in January, then go ahead and leave me a comment anyway, whilst you slurp on your Baileys and indulge on your mince pie.







Biker Jacket Firetrap (old)
Wide Leg Trousers Oasis
Jumper Zara
Trainers Adidas Stan Smith
What do you love and hate about the festive period?

Later x

Monday, 10 November 2014

A RESTAURANT REVIEW

with an opportunity to indulge


It makes me chuckle when people display an air of surprise across their face at what I’m eating. It’s often assumed that because I’m a nutritionist I only eat, what traditionally would be categorised as, healthy food 100% of the time. I don’t believe in healthy/unhealthy foods per se, more healthy/unhealthy eating regimes or diets or lifestyles, etc. I tend to follow, and recommend, a realistic and sustainable 80/20 eating regime – 80% of the time I eat healthily and 20% of the time (for example eating out at the weekend or at an event) I treat myself to the food and drink I would usually avoid eating too frequently: crisps; sweets; chocolates; desserts; chips; Baileys; and creamy sauces to name my favourites. Last week, I decided to indulge at one of my favourite restaurants in Birmingham, Browns, and share afternoon tea with my friend.




THE REVIEW
I’ve always been impressed with the quality of the food, the service and the decadent atmosphere of Browns. The restaurant is perfectly situated within walking distance of the main Bullring shopping area, which makes it an ideal place to eat before or after some retail therapy. It overlooks the stunning St Martin’s Square and offers outdoor as well as indoor seating. Inside is tranquil and has a slightly rustic feel with a modern edge: a piano sits in the centre of the restaurant and photos of Birmingham’s heritage adorn the walls.




Afternoon tea is served between 2.30pm and 5pm and the fixed menu, at a reasonable cost of £16 for two, includes three tiers of beautifully presented, tasty food: a selection of delicately cut finger sandwiches including cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon and crème fraiche and egg and watercress; just enough mini desserts/cakes (salted caramel profiterole, Victoria sponge cake and Eton mess) to leave room for a generous sized fruit scone, which came with all the trimmings you’d expect with a cream tea – clotted cream and jam. You also get a large pot of tea with a choice of large leaf loose tea from Earl Grey to Rooibos, and unlimited hot water refills if you fancy a top-up.






What and where is your favourite restaurant? 

Later x


Monday, 3 November 2014

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW, SOMETHING BORROWED…….

...........But nothing blue



We all have a friend or family member that we like to borrow clothes or accessories from, right, no? Well I do; I may borrow a bag or a bracelet or a hat from my cousin or friend, just so I can wear something 'new' without the expense. It’s perhaps not as common to borrow clothes from your mum though, especially when she's nearly 30 years your senior, but why leave mums out of the equation if their closet contains some stylish pieces too.

Five years ago my mum lost a lot of weight and I noticed that she started to take more pride in her appearance: getting her hair and nails done more regularly; buying new clothes and accessories each month; and venturing out of the house more frequently. In my opinion, the benefit of her weight loss was two-fold: firstly and most importantly, she became a healthier and happier woman, and secondly, she shops more often and tends to ask me to go with her (whoop whoop!), for company as well as advice, and she knows I’d never say no to a shopping trip!

At the beginning of September, mum asked me to accompany her to purchase a new coat that would be suitable for the milder days of autumn (or fall, as the  Americans call it). I happily obliged and chose the Per Una patterned coat that I am wearing in this post; this lightweight, versatile piece is from Marks and Spencer. Call me selfish, but when choosing clothes for family and friends, where possible, I try to select clothes that I could/would wear. I had tried the coat on before my mum even had an opportunity to and when I looked in the mirror the decision was made that this would be my mum’s new coat (that I could borrow from time to time *wink*). The size is one size up from what I would have bought, but with the oversized trend plaguing the high street this season, I didn't see this an issue.

So in this outfit I’m wearing something old (the bag), something new (the Chelsea boots) and something borrowed (coat); I’m just missing something blue and a silver sixpence in my shoe.

Do you borrow clothes/accessories from your friends or family?






Coat  Per Una at Marks & Spencer
Jeans  Topshop
Chelsea Boots Dune at Selfridges
Bag D&G (old present)
Later x

Sunday, 26 October 2014

WHEN IT COMES TO FOOD

You don't have to ask me twice (I apologise in advance for all the foodie pics)





After having to work last Sunday, I was really looking forward to just doing my usual Sunday workout followed by a relaxing session of being chair-bound in front of the TV and fire with a good glossy and some yummy food; so when my friend called me and asked what I was doing, I whimpered and very hesitantly replied, “nothing”, because I knew what was coming next. I was going to have to leave my position, find some clothes to put on and get in the car to some specified destination. I was right!  She wanted to indulge her culinary desires at the Birmingham MAC Food Market, and sought a fellow foodie to accompany her. Well, when it comes to food, you don’t have to ask me twice, and it was an excuse to wear my new Zara skirt and don the Adidas Stan Smiths again.


The MAC Birmingham celebrates the art of food with a monthly food market (last Sunday of the month) and features a host of local artisan producers selling their wares: from coffee beans, fruit,  herbs and preserves, to meats, cheeses, cakes, chocolates and more. It’s not an event you attend specifically for ‘healthy’ food, albeit there is a small selection, but it’s a great way to sample some yummy delights from the various artisans who present their local produce on the stalls.

What's your ideal Sunday?











Jumper Topshop
Skirt  Zara
Bag Mulberry Lily
Shoes  Adidas Stan Smith