sweet potato brownies

When I make promises… I keep them!

Last time when I blogged about a baking recipe, I mentioned that I’ll be sharing my sweet potato brownies recipe with you… Today is the day!

We’re on what feels like day ‘trillion’ of lockdown – which came quicker (in days) than it did in $$$ for Jeff Bezos…

I’m still out here (in here, #StayHome) experimenting with my bakes, re-making my take on a Charlotte Crosby classic!

What you’ll need to make the sweet potato brownies

  • 300g sweet potatoes (diced)
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 medium free-range eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp clear runny honey
  • 4 dried dates
  • 120g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 60ml boiling water
  • A pinch of salt
  • Honey greek style yoghurt (to drizzle on before serving)

How to make the sweet potato brownies

Preheat oven to 180°c (or gas mark 5) if you have a powerful oven, but 200°c if you don’t.

Cut sweet potatoes into chunks and sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Spray oil onto tin before adding the sweet potatoes, lightly spray them with oil before roasting for 15-20 mins (or until tender).

Once out of the oven, blitz them in a blender (or mash them by hand) until they reach a puree consistency.

Lower oven temperature to 170°c (or gas mark 3) – because you’ll be putting them in again, and you don’t want to burn them!

In a separate bowl mix together cocoa powder, salt and boiling water until a paste-like consistency forms. Once done, leave to one side.

In another bowl, crack two eggs and add four finely chopped (and de-seeded) dates, whisk in the honey and vanilla extract before adding the ground almonds, cocoa paste and sweet potato mash. Beat well to mix. 

Finally, spray coconut oil (or rub butter) on base and sides of the tray (to stop brownies from sticking to it) before adding the batter to bake for approximately 20 minutes. 

Once baked, leave to cool and then serve alongside honey or coconut greek style yoghurt. 

This is quick, easy, healthy and quite tasty! What’s not to love!?

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gradual tan

I’ve had to cancel two of my summer holidays this year because of Coronavirus and this lockdown

So, 2020’s summer is turning out to be one long ‘staycation’ – which I’d be fine with if I could get a spray tan and at least pretend I’ve been abroad… Alas, tanning salons are closed so, I can’t do that either!

FYI: I wouldn’t normally tan, I just want to make up for the fact that both my holidays have been cancelled by looking like they haven’t…

I’m going to be honest with you, although I’ve used sunbeds before – every time I’ve tried them (three times maximum), I’ve been scared poopless in case I get trapped in them, or they explode with me inside. I’m also scared of spray tans too because of Ross from Friends’ incident

Also – DIY ones need mittens as they can turn our hands and wrists into Tan Mom or Donald Trump… I ain’t about that life either! I’ve always said I’d rather look like Casper the Friendly Ghost than D T.

Instead, I’ve had to resort to at home gradual tan to get that Staycation look… Say ‘hello’ to: St. Tropez Gradual Tanning Lotion With Watermelon Infusion. I used this once and already look like I’d been hit with Instagram’s Valencia filter.

Oh, and it smells divine too. Who doesn’t like the smell of watermelon!? That, for me, is what summer smells & tastes like…

So, if you want to look and smell like summer, look no further than this gradual tanning lotion!

I love how buildable it is. Although, I have already reached my desired tan shade after just one use!

What do I love about this gradual tan?

  1. It won’t leave you looking orange. Instead, you’ll be left with a healthy, natural sunkissed glow.
  2. I am not a fan of using tanning gloves (not that I ever have) so this is a winner! It won’t streak around or inbetween your fingers.
  3. I am also not a fan of fake tan that transfers onto clothes and bed linen. St. Tropez’s Gradual Tan Moisturiser doesn’t transfer at all!

PRO TIP: I would exfoliate before applying just to avoid streaks.

How I applied the gradual tan

To be honest though, I didn’t exfoliate before applying and still couldn’t notice any streaks… Having said that: I do use a body scrub in the bath regularly…

I did read online though that some reviewers noticed streaks after using it, especially on wrists and elbows – so as a precaution and to avoid this please exfoliate before use.

You really can’t go wrong with this product! If you’re going to moisturise your whole body, why not choose a tinted moisturiser that gradually tans your skin at the same time? It’s summer after all!

Have you tried this? Let me know your thoughts. Also, I’d be happy to take any questions from those who are wanting to try it but have queries.

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chocolate orange mayonnaise cake

A lot of people are baking more during the Coronvirus lockdown… (Me being one of them!)

If you know me personally, you’ll know I’m quite an experimental baker – I love making stuff like courgette cake, sweet potato brownies etc. I know they don’t sound great, but they do taste it – if (and when) baked well!

Today, I made chocolate mayonnaise cake… I know what you’re thinking: “Eww!” Well, it actually works! It’s meant to replace the raw eggs… I’m pretty sure this cake makes mayonnaise the most versatile condiment, ever!

Beware: this recipe is quick, easy and delicious. You’ll be making it often!

Ingredients to make chocolate orange mayonnaise cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup Hellmanns mayonnaise
  • 1 cup chocolate tea (yes, seriously).
  • Sprinkling of chocolate chips
  • 5 Terry’s chocolate orange slices (to place on top of batter)
  • Dark chocolate chunks

How to make chocolate orange mayonnaise cake

First, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a baking dish. I used a heart shaped one, because there is a lot of love in my life right now.

Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl.

Pour into prepared baking dish. Add and mix the remaining chocolate chunks, chocolate chips and chocolate orange slices into the batter.

I like to shake it gently on the table to even out the batter before baking.

Bake in oven for about 30 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). We’ve got quite a powerful oven, so it cooks quicker usually.

Finally, once baked – allow to cool completely before removing from the dish and decorating.

Ingredients for summer fruit coulis

  • Squashed 2 blackcurrants
  • Squashed 5 raspberries
  • Finely cut 5 blueberries
  • Finely cut 1 strawberry
  • Sugar

How to make the summer fruit coulis

Mix fruits with sugar until softened – squash with spoon as you mix, then use a sieve to remove the lumps. Leave to the side.

Ingredients for ganache

  • 250ml Cream
  • Crushed mini (snack size) Cadbury Twirl
  • 250g dark chocolate chunks

How to make ganache

Heat cream in a saucepan until it reaches a lukewarm temperature, chuck the chocolate in there and mix on a medium heat. Take off the heat, place on the side to cool.

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ammonia free dye
Josh Wood Ammonia-Free Dye and Sulphate-Free Wash

It’s hard to maintain our healthy tresses during lockdown, especially when all the hairdressers and salons are closed. Enter: ammonia-free dye.

Today, I’d like to share with you my hair-care saviour… Josh Wood! His multiple award-winning Josh Wood Colour turned me from a grandma (98 shades of grey) to 28 (my actual age).

I’d been looking for a natural but permanent DIY hair-dye that doesn’t damage hair for ages!

At what felt like day 4,000,000 of lockdown, I had a brain wave: “what would happen if I typed in ‘ammonia-free permanent hair colour’ into Google!?”. Josh Wood happened. Oh, and I haven’t looked back since.

The problem I had with boxed non-permanent hair dyes was they didn’t last long. I was dying my hair every 3-4 weeks. I wouldn’t advise this at all!

Josh Wood Colour is made from ‘hydrolysed quinoa’ (which sounds like a vegan superhero) and shine complex (which sounds ultra-glam). It’s plant-based and not tested on animals!

The results of Josh Wood Colour ammonia free dye

The result is shiny soft hair, with long-lasting colour.

You’ll notice from the picture above that I bought a shampoo and conditioner too. This is to lock in the colour for longer because: ‘permanent’ isn’t long enough… I need it to last well into the Afterlife (not a documentary by Ricky Gervais).

P.S. I am a frizz ball – something which for years I’ve tried to pass off as “curly”. I’m not worthy of that claim! So, the Frizzy Brunette Shampoo & Conditioner was The One for me.

FYI: the shampoo & conditioner is free from sulphates and all other nasties that strip hair from natural oils and pigments.

Basically, these products are salon-quality from the comfort of your own home! “DIY glam” if you will…

Few more things… (’cause there really isn’t just ‘one more’ where I’m concerned)

Firstly, I made a post-purchase discovery… The ‘Gloss‘ hair mask, which I absolutely NEED!

Typical ‘mii that right after I made my order, I’d find out that the Josh Wood online store stocks a highly pigmented mask – temporarily dyes the hair – while in the shower!

My hair fades to about five colours – thanks to the previous bleaches and hair dyes I’ve put on it… So, this mask will restore it, to one all over colour – allegedly lasting up to 6 washes! *adds to basket*

Make Josh Wood Colour’s ammonia free dye last longer

Application of the mask, with instant result

This ‘gloss’ mask is supposed to work in-between colouring, to lock in moisture and enhance pigment in our hair. The way it works is: right after shampooing, you’d apply this before rinsing off after 20 mins.

The other thing I wanted to mention was: I also discovered some root touch-up products too!

Although my problem is ‘mane-ly’ my roots (you’re absolutely welcome!), I do have faded balyage… Any time my hair fades, it finds a way to go ginger. I have absolutely nothing against gingers. I’ve never seen a ginger shade I didn’t like!

It’s just- my white/grey roots, black/brown mid-section and ginger two thirds through to the ends is… Well… Exactly!

  1. Root Smudger
  2. Root Marker

I haven’t purchased and/or tried either because I prefer to do an all over colour, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be highly pigmented, completely natural and work well to cover the whites/greys too.

Only down side – limited shades. There’s only a brunette and a blonde range. Sadly, there isn’t a ‘ravishing redhead’ range! I hope that’s coming soon…

Have you tried these products? Let me know your thoughts!

Stay safe, well and blessed. Stay home!

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peri-peri chicken

Due to COVID-19, our much loved restaurants are closed and barely delivering… Luckily, the likes of Wagamama are actually sharing their recipes with the world, ready to be re-created at home.

My first attempt of making a takeaway favourite at home was Nando’s peri-peri chicken with two regular sides of Macho peas and sweet potato wedges.

Ingredients needed to make Nando’s peri-peri chicken breast

  • Chicken (duh!?)
  • Nando’s Medium sauce
  • Nando’s Perinaise
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Drizzle of olive oil (I used chilli oil, works just as well)
  • Third of a cup of BBQ sauce
  • Three tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Two tablespoons garlic powder
  • One tablespoon onion powder
  • Drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • One teaspoon yellow mustard sauce
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Dash of paprika
  • Two teaspoons of pink / Himalayan salt
  • Dash of black pepper

How to make the Nando’s peri-peri chicken

RINSE YOUR CHICKEN! Please for the love of the people who will be eating that chicken… RINSE. THE CHICKEN!

Place washed chicken (I’m a breast gal, ’cause I have none) into bowl with all the above ingredients. Mix well and leave to set in tupperware overnight (to soak all the flavours).

When ready to cook, turn the grill on a high heat (this will give you great char-marks). Spray your favourite cooking oil onto it so the chickens don’t stick…

Place the chicken on the hot grill and toss every few minutes until there are char marks. (You really don’t want to burn them or overcook them. Keep mindful and foccused.)

Ingredients you’ll need for macho pears

You’ll need these ingredients for Macho Peas:

  • Handful of frozen peas (obvs)
  • Teaspoon of butter
  • Finely chopped red chilli (I also used green ones because I find those spicier)
  • Finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Finely chopped mint
  • Salt and pepper

How to make the macho peas

Cook the peas in salted water for around four and a half minutes, then drain.

Remove a third of the peas, place in a bowl for mashing (you can use a fork for this), leave to the side.

Melt a teaspoon of butter in a pan, heat the two-thirds of unmashed peas, add chilli, parsley and mint.

Take unmashed peas off the hob, transfer pan of peas into bowl of mashed peas before mixing thoroughly.

Season with slat and pepper, adding extra mint or parsley for garnish.

Ingredients you’ll need for sweet potato wedges

  • Sweet potatoes (of course!)
  • Honey
  • Paprika
  • Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Salt

How to make the sweet potato wedges

Remove the skin of the sweet-potatoes.

Chop sweet potatoes and place in bowl.

Add olive oil, paprika and honey with a pinch of salt to the sweet potatoes, mix.

Place in oven on high heat for 20 minutes.

TIP: cook the sweet potatoes and chicken at the same time to ensure your food isn’t cold. Prepare the marinade for the chicken, leave it overnight to soak. Make sure the chopped sweet potatoes go in with the chicken to cook, leaving you time to do the Macho peas.

Voila! You’ll now be ready to serve! Enjoy.

Please stay safe, stay healthy and stay home.

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blemishes

COVID-19 (or should I say COVID-20)… I don’t about you, but I’m already struggling to keep track of the days/months… Therefore, a little referring to the year we’re actually in never hurt nobody!

Unfortunately, dermatologists and beauty parlours are closed… So, getting a much needed facial or prescribed/specially medicated blemish-combatting lotion isn’t easy. Instead, I’ve been resorting to other ways of treating my acne!

It’s gotta be said that I’ve been battling with acne blemishes for years… Weirdly, it seems to have gotten worse during lockdown – which has made me realise that it’s actually stress and hormone-related more than anything else… A change of lifestyle/routine has thrown me off kilter and taken its toll on my skin.

As my acne blemishes appear in cyst-form across my jawline, it’s hard for me to take photos at the right angle to show you what I’ve been dealing with… Also, highly doubt you’d want to see that!

How I treated my acne blemishes

In desperation, I looked online and discovered that drinking two or three glasses of Aloe Vera juice a day for one week (stocked in supermarkets, Holland & Barrett among other pharmacies / whole food stores) clears up the skin nicely!

I did go one step further, though… I’ve been applying Aloe Vera gel on my face & neck twice a day too!

Yeah, I know… There is so much Vera going on in my life right now that I might as well change my name to it by deed-poll.

Side note: I’m also missing my workplace Aloe Vera plant – whom I’ve affectionately called ‘Sebastian’. Shout out to you, Sebass! Come to think of it, I might even dedicate this post to you my ‘bastypoo!

Video shows a vlogger taking the Aloe Vera Juice Challenge to clear up her acne

Alternative ways to treat acne blemishes

Positives… Let’s focus on the positives! Such as: I did have acne scars which have noticeably been fading – although I can’t confirm if that’s because of the Aloe Vera or The Ordinary’s peel.

Another positive: I’m 100% certain no-one (except for me) will be panic-buying Aloe Vera juice. It’ll be stocked in bulk at your local stores for a very long time to come!

As I mentioned above, I even tried The Ordinary’s acne range, which I’m sure works for most people, but sadly hasn’t worked in clearing it up completely for me. I was still getting fresh breakouts, even though I’d been giving it a go for a month! Once this breakout clears up, I’ll try using the range for maintenance.

To be honest, not even Kiehl’s and Liz Earle (which I’ve sworn by previously) helped this time around… I seem to have had some bionic invincible Coronavirus ZITS!

*DISCLAIMER: my skin was NOT made worse after using Kiehls, The Ordinary OR Liz Earle products, they just didn’t seem to clear them up either*

Final words on treating acne blemisheS

Aloe Vera juice (and aloe vera gel), however, has proven to be great, so much so that I’m planning to carry on with it as there are so many benefits to drinking Aloe Vera juice, such as: cleansing of the digestive system. The disadvantage? Taste. Don’t even get me started!

To summarise, ‘Coronavirus invincible bionic mutant ZITS’ can be cleared with patience… Aloe Vera juice & gel.

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