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7 Quick and Easy Tips for your Winter Skincare

Winter Skincare

7 Quick and Easy Tips for your Winter Skincare

Winter just seems to hate your skin, and with the recent cold weather, it’s likely that you’re starting to dry up.
We’ve compiled a list of 7 quick and easy winter skincare tips tp keep your skin looking fresh and healthy throughout.

1. EAT HEALTHILY

Look for high-antioxidant fruits and vegetables like blueberries and cranberries, pumpkins and squash. Think about supplementing your diet with additional vitamin C, E and A too.

Fruit helps with winter skincare

2. PUT A JUMPER ON, NOT THE HEAT UP

There isn’t much nicer than cranking the heat up on a cold day and cuddling up in front of the T.V. However, upping the heating dries the air, and incidentally your skin.

put a jumper on

3. MAKE YOUR SHOWERS QUICK AND WARM (NOT HOT!)

Be a man in this scenario. If he would be yelping under the sprinkles of lava hot water coming out of the shower, it’s probably a good idea to turn it down. Long hot showers strip natural oils out of your skin, drying it out and making it more vulnerable.

4. AVOID HARSH SOAPS

Opt in for mild, fragrance-free cleansers. Harsh soaps, especially on your hands can cause your skin to dry out becoming dry, itchy and uncomfortable.

avoid harsh soaps

5. GIVE YOUR HANDS A LITTLE EXTRA TLC.

Your hands have it rough, try moisturising frequently to replenish the natural oils that are stripped from your skin when you wash them. Also think about trading in your hand soap.

6. EASE UP ON FACIAL EXFOLIATING.

Reduce the frequency of facial peels and masks to avoid irritating your skin. Facial peels and masks strip natural oil from your skin which can lead to dry flaky skin.

7. Wear Soft Clothing

Avoid putting on abrasive or irritating fabrics like wool or polyester directly against your skin, especially the neck. Stick to soft fabrics, such as cotton. You’ll be more comfortable, also it’s a good excuse to start expanding our winter wardrobe.

less facial exfoliating

HOW DO YOU handle YOUR winter SKINCARE REGIME WHEN THE COLD WEATHER DESCENDS?

Share your tips and tricks on our Facebook page!

Don’t forgot your hbb!

They make the perfect companion for all your outdoor winter adventures.

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How to improve your mood and beat the winter blues

How to Improve your mood and beat the winter blues

The dark winter months can be depressing. Sunlight is genuinely linked with our moods, and working a nine to five job means you might find that you go days at a time not seeing sunlight. This can hit us pretty hard.

So, here are five things to consider to help you keep your spirits up through the winter.

vitaminddisc

1. Boost your Vitamin D

“Most people don’t know vitamin D is in fact a hormone, which has a profound effect on how we feel and our mood.” Geeta Sidhu-Robb Nosh Detox Founder

Vitamin D has been associated with mood changes. Low levels of vitamin D leading to low moods and depression. Many individuals living in northern climates become vitamin D deficient in the dark winter months. Consider taking a supplement to boost your vitamin levels.

2. Don’t Give In To Sugar Cravings

Sugars from things like sweets quickly release serotonin which gives a momentary feeling of happiness. However, this is fleeting and the ensuing sugar crash makes everything worse. Avoid sugary snacks, Instead, nurture yourself with healthy foods packed with antioxidants found in dark leafy greens and colourful fruits and vegetables.

Sugar
ath;eisure 5

3. Stay Active

It can be hard to find the get up and go drive in the cold winter months. But exercise is really good, not just for your physical health but your mental well being. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins which genuinely make you happier. So, you will find yourself with a much more positive outlook on the world with regular exercise in your weekly routine. Exercising on a regular basis can also help ease stress and promote relaxation, which can be particularly helpful for those who struggle to fall asleep.

WINTER BANNER

4. Increase Serotonin

When sunlight enters our eyes, it activates the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, our feel-good hormones. If your mood is low, try taking a 5-HPT supplement – a chemical made from the amino acid tryptophan, which the body then coverts into serotonin. Some studies go as far as suggesting 5-HTP may also work as antidepressants, and has little to no side effects. You can’t get 5-HTP from food, so supplementation is necessary.

desktop-backgrounds-fog-hd-wallpaper-1287086
Selection of food that is good for the health and skin, rustic wood background

5. Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are the healthy fats found in cold water fish, raw nuts and seeds, and superfoods such as flax and hemp (you’ll also find that a lot of these foods are high in vitamin D). Omega-3’s are the building blocks for the nerves and brain and are crucial for the proper growth, development and function of brain tissue. Taking an omega-3 supplement has been proven to significantly improve mood and lower the likelihood of depression.

6. Set Your Internal Clock

It’s crucial to create a sleep routine that has you seeing sunlight as much as possible. On top of this, getting too much sleep or too little can ruin your mood for the day as you will feel tired and fatigued. Try to go to sleep before 11pm, avoid caffeine for at least six hours before bed and avoid bright lights and screens late in the evening.

Alarm-3

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Is Your Sugar & Fat Intake Out Of Balance?

fat and sugar intake

IS YOUR SUGAR & FAT INTAKE OUT OF BALANCE?

Can you See the Signs?

There are a lot of confusing ideas out there. Don’t eat sugar. Eat some fats, but not others. Don’t eat fat if you’re trying to lose weight. Don’t eat sugar, but fruit is good… Amidst all this conflicting advice, it can be hard to determine what exactly is right when it comes to eating fats and sugars. It’s not surprising that a lot of us are getting the balance wrong.

So, we thought we would do some research and see if we can’t pick from the clutter of advice some of the rights and wrongs and maybe even clear up some of the confusion.

First of all, fats and sugars are a necessary part of our diets. Cutting either out entirely is a bad idea. However, like most things moderation is key.

Some of the Common mistakes people make

Low-fat products

If you normally make a beeline for the low-fat section in the supermarket you may want to just pause. Often when manufacturers remove the fat they also end up removing lots of the nutritional value. And to supplement the lost flavours they often add in sugars or sweeteners.

So check the nutritional values and ingredients. Especially when it comes to the sugar content in things like natural yoghurt, you may be surprised.

Low sugar products

When manufacturers remove the sugar, they replace it with artificial sweeteners. It has been suggested that the use of artificial sweeteners may have a stimulating effect on appetite and therefore may play a role in weight gain and obesity. But research is inconsistent on this front. We suggest erring on the side of caution. Instead of buying low sugar products try cutting down on the amount of sweet foods you eat.

A lover of fruit

Fruits are a great source of vitamins and natural sugars. However, things like dried fruit, smoothies, and fruit juices are highly concentrated in sugar. The NHS advise you limit the amount of fruit juice or smoothies you drink to only 150ml a day as ‘crushing fruit and vegetables into juice and smoothies releases the sugars…which can cause damage to teeth.’

You’re Nuts

On the flip side you may be a nutty enthusiast and find yourself grazing on nuts and seeds throughout the day. Nuts are high in unsaturated fats which are considered one of the good fats. However, they aren’t particularly filling meaning you can end up consuming far more fat than your body needs.

Both nuts and fruits are healthy food choices. But we recommend mixing it up a little. Eat fresh fruits with a tasty selection of nuts to compliment the nutritional values of the fruit. But be aware and try and keep a good balance of both.

Your breakfast choices

Eating a nutritional breakfast with plenty of energy is important to getting a good start to the day.

Unfortunately there are a lot of cereals out there that aren’t all they crack up to be. Be wary of sugar content in cereals. Whilst they may be low in fats, they are often high in sugar content.

You love your red meat

Steaks are delicious. Red meat is rich in iron, zinc and B vitamins, but it’s also rich in saturated fats, which should be eaten in moderation. Choose organic and for red meat opt for grass-fed, which has a better nutrient profile and is higher in omega-3 fats.

Try eating more white meat and fish. Fish is high in omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins A and D and other key nutrients. There is a reason you always see gym junkies eating chicken and rice or fish

Conclusion

Moderation is key. As long as you are aware that some of the habits and foods you are eating are throwing your sugar and fat balance out of whack you can balance it out again by adjusting your diet.

We recommend you do some research of your own along these lines before making any major changes.

Our key points though are be careful of low fat foods that sneak more sugar into your diet. Similarly, be wary of low sugar foods that substitute artificial sweeteners.

 

Sources

https://www.healthy-magazine.co.uk/too-much-sugar-or-too-much-fat-7-signs-your-diet-is-off-balance/

https://www.healthy-magazine.co.uk/superfoods-that-wont-break-the-bank/

https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/5ADAY/Pages/Whatcounts.aspx

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good

https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/the-truth-about-artificial-sweeteners.aspx

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Health & Nutrition: 8 Myths Busted for 2020

health & nutrition

8 Health & Nutrition Myths Busted for 2020

Health & Nutrition: Truth or Myth

Health & nutrition has become one the most talked about topics on the internet. There are more diet plans and advice blogs than you can wave a digital stick at. But do they always have the intended effect? Or are they just nonsense? We took a look at 8 different topics and this is what we found.

1 Going Gluten-free is super healthy

While there are legitimate reasons to avoid gluten, for example if you have coeliac disease,  there’s often a minimal benefit from avoiding gluten. Gluten itself isn’t typically unhealthy but often gets a negative outlook due to its presence in so many things, many of which are unhealthy, think biscuits, cakes, pies and pastries.

You can find gluten in a huge number of different foods. And avoiding it completely, has minimal benefit for most people, and can even be a hindrance to creating a balanced diet.

2. Sugar is all Bad

The phrases good and bad sugar get thrown about a lot which can be confusing. So let’s get something straight. Sugar is sugar and, ultimately, all sugar is broken down in our bodies into glucose, which our cells use for energy.

The difference between having a teaspoon of sugar in your coffee compared to eating an orange is that the orange has a host of vitamins and minerals which refined sugar does not. You may be interested to know that an orange has approximately 9g of sugar which is equal to roughly two teaspoons.

3. All Fat is Bad

Some fats are good for you. Contrary to deeply entrenched opinion, a low-fat diet is not a necessarily a healthy one. The important thing is not to cut out fat entirely, but to make sure that you’re eating the right kind. Unsaturated fats are the ones our bodies need and use. They have been associated with lower blood cholesterol, and are found in foods such as oils, nuts, seeds, avocado, and oily fish.

4. Carbs will make you fat

Well pretty much anything will make you fat if you eat too much of it. But that’s the wrong way to think about it. Starchy carbohydrates come in two forms: refined and whole. The latter are the ones to go for – higher in fibre and full of other essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, far from making you gain weight, eating high-fibre foods will help to keep you feeling full, which means you are less likely to overeat.

We need starchy carbohydrates to give us energy, and they should make up one third of our diet. Instead of cutting them out, make some smart switches and cut down on the more unhealthy carbs, like highly refined flour products.

5. Fresh is better than frozen

As fruits and vegetables ripen, their sugar content rises and their nutrient content deteriorates. Often, fruits and vegetables are frozen quickly after harvest, which prevents all of this, and actively preserves the nutrients.

What this means is that frozen vegetables can sometimes be more healthy than fresh ones!

6. Coconut oil is the healthiest oil

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. As we mentioned earlier, unsaturated fats are the ones to go for, think olive oil. Coconut oil is actually a saturated fat. That’s right, it’s a baddy. There is research to suggest that coconut oil isn’t as bad as other saturated fats though, suggesting that it may be metabolised differently, so as to not have such an adverse impact on blood cholesterol and general cardiovascular health. Again, health & nutrition is all about balance.

7. You need protein shakes if you go to the gym

It is true that our muscles need protein for growth – especially if you’ve done anything particularly high intensity. However, most people get plenty of protein from their regular diets. What is important, is the timing of that protein intake, which should ideally be within an hour of exercising. Your body can only metabolise a certain amount of protein at a time, so overloading on the protein shakes is completely pointless.

The goal should be to limit our protein intake to shortly after exercise so that our bodies can use it to help our muscles build and repair, rather than overdoing it on the protein shakes!

8. Snacking is evil

Not necessarily. Once again it comes down to what you snack on and how much you eat. There is evidence to suggest that snacking is actually good for you, eating little and often means you avoid the large glucose spikes that you get after large meals which cause you to produce a large amount of insulin. Whilst you might immediately feel sleepy your body is actually absorbing a huge amount of energy. Once this process has been gone through the spike drops and you find yourself crashing – and often becoming hungry again.
Snacking is a good way to try and avoid this cycle of energy highs and crashes.

You have to choose your snacks wisely though. Go for something dense in nutrients that will help fill you up. For example fruit (not dried) and natural yoghurt.

Verdict?

You have to maintain a healthy balance in all your food groups. We’re certain there will definitely be more myths than truths when it comes to health and nutrition, but a small dose of research will keep you on track.

Take a look at our other
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What Is Intermittent fasting?

INTERMITTENT FASTING

What is Intermittent Fasting?

There has been a lot of interest in the health world around intermittent fasting.

This is the practice of not eating for a certain number of hours a day, or not eating for two or three days out of the week.

The obvious result of this is limiting your calorie intake over the fasting period. If you look across a whole week intermittent fasting generally causes people to consume less calories than they otherwise would. The inherent result of this is going to be weight loss, which means without dramatically changing what you eat you can lose weight. This has made the idea of intermittent fasting very popular.

In the office both Niamh and Bobby have tried it. Niamh doesn’t eat anything before 2pm and claims her energy levels have never been higher.

Bobby tried fasting for 24hours and said he felt a little bit lightheaded and dizzy on the day but after doing it, he felt lighter, refreshed and less bloated.

This is not a particularly new concept. In fact there were several studies in the 30s and 40s that came to the conclusion that restricting calorie intake of certain animals led to those animals leading a comparatively longer life span.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

To understand how fasting works we need to understand how the body behaves when you eat food and when you don’t.

When you eat food your body spends typicaly 3 to 5 hours digesting and absorbing food. During this period it is typically hard for your body to burn fat because of the increased insulin levels.

After about around 8- 12 hours your body is no longer absorbing or digesting food which means your insulin levels are low and this makes it easier for you to  burn fat.

Because we don’t stop absorbing energy and food into our system 12 hours after eating, it is rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state.

By intermittent fasting you choose to force your body into this state which allows you to burn more fat than you otherwise would, without dramatically changing what you eat and how much you exercise.

The Effects of Intermittent fasting

1. Losing Belly Fat

The main argument for intermittent fasting is there is evidence that skipping the first meal of the day and not eating late at night, not only helps you lose weight, but helps you retain muscle mass and increases your energy levels.

2. Increased Energy

This is the main thing Niamh has noticed from her own intermittent fasting. She has more energy in the mornings, and to quote her, ‘no longer falls asleep at work.’

3.  Increased metabolism

Other purported physical benefits of fasting include:

1. Improved mental clarity and concentration.

2. Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels which may help with type 2 diabetes.

3. Increased growth hormone.

4. Lowered blood cholesterol.

5. You might even live longer

The Not so Good

As with any form of dramatic change for your body, there can be side-effects, especially if you don’t plan and structure your fasting properly.

1. Running low on nutrients

By altering your eating habits like this, you may find your body begins to get less of the good stuff that it needs because you aren’t eating properly.

2. Junk food becomes more tempting

Especially when you start, your food cravings may lead you to over indulge in junk food.

3. Not being able to exercise

Exercising without eating properly can lead to alarming fatigue, light-headedness and nausea.

Exercise requires you to massively increase your energy output. Burning body fat is an inefficient way to create energy; the potential energy in fatty tissue is stored as long molecules that are harder to break down than sugars.

However, Niamh, after daily intermittent fasting for nearly a month argues that she now has more energy than ever before!

3. Constipation

Less going in means less going out. You don’t need medications unless you experience discomfort.

4. Headaches

These tend to disappear after the first few times on fasts. Make sure you are drinking lots of water to help with this.

Other possible side effects include dizziness, heartburn and muscle cramps.

Eight tips for successful Intermittent Fasting:

1. Drink lots of water.

2. Stay busy and exercise.

3. Drink coffee or tea.

4. Hunger comes in waves, if you can ride them out you’ll find they quickly dissipate.

5. Don’t tell anybody who is not supportive that you are fasting. It can be mentally challenging to fast.

6. Give yourself one month. It won’t feel great to begin with. But stick with it and let the results speak to you.

7. Follow a low-carb diet between fasting periods. This reduces hunger and makes fasting much easier. It may also increase the effect on weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal, etc.

8. Don’t binge after fasting!

Getting Started

The first thing you need to do is decide what kind of fasting you are going to do choose something that will fit into your lifestyle.

Second, you then need to decide on the length of time you are going to fast.

Thirdly, plan! The key to a successful fast lies in the planning. What are you going to eat, and when? When are you going to exercise and for how long? Which days are going to be feast days? When are you likely going to be in social situations that require you to eat or drink? For example, is your friend having a bottomless brunch party for their birthday? You need to incorporate that into your plan so that you can still go about enjoying life as normal but still stick to your fasting schedule.

When you’re ready, start fasting. If for any reason this makes you feel unwell or if you have any concerns, stop and seek help.

Continue all your usual activities outside of eating. Stay busy and live normally. Imagine you’re “eating” a full meal of your own fat.

Finally, when you break your fast, do it slowly and gently.

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5 Original Mothers Day Gift Ideas

5 Original Mothers Day Gift Ideas

Mothers Day, this year, falls on the Sunday 31st March.

Mother’s day is the day where you are supposed to honour your mother and give thanks to all the things they have done for you over the years.
In more recent years, as with all our major holidays it has given way to a certain amount of commercialisation. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re anything like us you may feel like a gift with more thought might be more valuable than the gold and silver that we purportedly are supposed to gift.

So we’ve done a little thinking in the office and come up with a few of the more original and thoughtful ideas to share with you.

1) Afternoon Tea

As we grow older we tend to spend a little less time with our parents. Sometimes it can be nice to just sit down and chat over a cup of tea. Taking her out to high tea, throw in a few luxurious sandwich triangles and a slice of decadent carrot cake, paired with your charming company and you’re onto a winner.

2) The Gift of Laughter

Now we don’t mean go round and rattle off a few cheesy jokes. Rather this gift, like the one before is more about spending time with them. There are number of great female comedians getting onto the stage that could be well worth a visit. There are a number of great venues in and around London that offer affordable hilarious afternoon outings.

3) Homemade Bath Salts

  • What you’ll Need:
  • 3 cups Epsom salt
  • 2 cups sea salt
  • Lavender Essential Oil
  • Rose Essential Oil
  • Pink and purple food coloring or soap dye.
  • Test tube or mason jars

How to:

Step one: in a large bowl combine epsom salt, sea salt, and baking soda.

Step two: Separate the bath salts into different bowls if you want to use more than one scent and color. Add 10-15 drops of essential oil per bowl.

Step three: Add 2-3 drops of food coloring, be careful not to add too much to avoid dyeing the skin. Store in airtight container.

4) Homemade candles

What You’ll Need:

  • Teacups of glassware (jars work well too. We suggest searching your nearby charity shops.)
  • Wax (This is also a great opportunity to use up old candle stubs.)
  • Wax wicks
  • Wooden skewers
  • Candle-making dyes and scents/essential oils (optional)
  • Thermometer (if using scent)
  • Tape
  • Double-boiler (or a can/smaller pot inside a large pot with water in it)

How to:

Step one: Create your wick support by taking your two wooden skewers together with the wick held between them dangling into the cup. The wicks will have little metal disks at one end: those will go at the bottom of the teacup. Use a bit of glue to make them stay down if you need to.

Step 2: Melt the wax in your double boiler. Chop or grate it for faster more even meting. Once it’s liquid allow to cool. If you’re adding scent or colour wait until the wax cools to around 65 degrees C.

Step 3: While your wax is still nice and liquid, pour it into the prepared vessels, leaving ½ an inch of space from the lip of the cup. Allow this to cool completely (4-6 hours is ideal), then trim your wicks to 1 inch in length, and voila! You have beautiful, handmade teacup candles to give as gifts.

5) A Healthy Back Bag

Last on the list is of course a Healthy Back Bag. Our beautiful bags are stylish, unique, functional and good for you! Our bags make great gifts to show your loved ones that you really care.

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Winter Adventures your Kids will Love

Winter adventures at Ally Pally

Winter Adventures your Kids will Love

When winter comes it can be all too tempting to hole yourselves away in the warmth. Cuddling up on the sofa with a hot cup of tea and Marvel films playing on a loop is all too appealing. However, it’s not the healthiest way to spend the colder months.

Here are 9 winter adventures to keep the kids happy (and you sane) throughout those cold December months.

1. Get Baking

Doing things together is a great way to bond with the kids as well as teaching them valuable skills. Plus at the end of you’ll (hopefully) have some delicious treats. Of course be prepared to clean cake batter off the ceiling and don’t expect them to let you lick the spoon…

2. Arts and Crafts

Get creative, pull out the paints, cover the kitchen tale in newspaper and see if your little ones are going to be the next Monet.

3. Trek Snowdonia

Getting everyone outdoors is always a worthwhile endeavour. Visit one of the UKs most beautiful regions. The stunning landscape is harsh in winter but, in my opinion, the scarcity of the rough mountainous region is more beautiful than in Summer.

4. Indoor Skiing

This may be a little easier to get the kids on board with than a hike through semi-alpine conditions. There are a couple of great indoor skiing companies in the UK.

Check out the Snow Centre at https://www.thesnowcentre.com/ based in Hemel Hempstead

5. Ice Skating

Learning how to glide about on the ice at a young age has stood me in surprisingly good stead over the years, it’s fun, seasonal and good exercise. Be prepared for sore feet and plenty of falling down though…

My personal favourite rink is Alexandra Palace in London https://www.alexandrapalace.com/ice-rink/

Winter adventures at Ally Pally

6. Go Falconing at thetorridon.com

This just sounds like fun. Step into adventure stories marching through forests, hawk upon your wrist. Learn all about the great birds of prey, and how to handle them.

7. Curling

A little bit different this one. A somewhat Scottish past-time it is I suppose a bit like winter bowling. It’s a great way to have a bit of fun on the ice, though a little bit harder to find than ice skating.

Find a rink here http://www.trycurling.com/play/find-a-rink/

8. Coastal walking

The English coast is dramatic, beautiful and variable. My own favourite stretches are along Devon’s Jurassic coast where you can take the kids fossil hunting as well as experiencing one of the most incredible stretches of English coast.

9. Winter Survival Camp

www.woodlandsurvivalcrafts.com.

This one isn’t for all ages, but we couldn’t not include it when we discovered it. Dave Watson developed his skills not in the SAS but living rough as a teenager. His company, Woodland Survival Crafts, runs a winter survival course on the Derbyshire-Leicestershire border, which teaches you shelter-building, foraging in the colder winter and Autumn months, and how to light a fire when all around you is damp (it involves a bow).

Let us know what other winter adventures you can come up with on our Facebook page!

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Our Favourite Healthy Christmas Dishes

healthy christmas with HBB

Our Favourite Healthy Christmas Dishes

OUR STAFF GUIDE TO A HEALTHY CHRISTMAS

When it comes to attempting a healthy Christmas, one of the first things that leaps to mind is the food. The vast quantities of roast chicken (I’ve never been much of a turkey person), vegetables, potatoes, and of course the mince pies, chocolate, and mulled wine.

What excites me the most, and drags me out of my deep slumber, is the thought of freshly prepared hors d’oeuvres, the bubbling Mimosas, and the smell of a slowly soaking Christmas pudding. It’s not, and I’m being honest, the presents.

However, all this eating and drinking leaves one feeling a little bit guilty by the end of it all. We enter the new year with our trousers a little tighter. So, we thought it might be an idea to ask our staff for their favourite healthy Christmas foods!

soup

KAREN’S Savoury Treats

“I make my own soups full of goodness and 100% vegetarian ! My very favourite though is Butternut Squash Soup.”

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash cubed
  • 1 large onion finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Turmeric
  • Fresh ginger
  • Vegetable stock cube
  • Chilli powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chives

Method

  1. Place the squash, onion, and garlic into a large stock pot, cover with hot vegetable stock, add a pinch of tumeric, and chilli powder to taste.
  2. Grate in some fresh ginger and add salt and pepper.
  3. Leave to simmer for around 30 mins, then blitz with a blender.
  4. Garnish with chives.

DAN’S SAUSAGE TART

“Okay, so sausages…” Dan is a long time fan of sausages and pies for almost any occasion so it’s unsurprising that his input here is a delicious “healthy christmas” sausage tart.

Ingredients

  • 100g reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 220g plain flour
  • 170g whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 220g turkey sausage
  • 4 to 5 mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 small stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread, crumbed
  • A handful of dried fruit
  • 1 stalk of rosemary, finely chopped
  • ½ cup water

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to around 190c and butter your cupcake tray
  2. Beat cream cheese in a large bowl with 1 egg and oil until well combined. Add the all-purpose and pastry flour. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Sautee mushrooms, onion and celery in oil until softened. Add sausage meat and cook until browned. Add the bread crumbs, dried fruit, and rosemary. Whisk the remaining 1 egg and water in a small bowl. Drizzle over the sausage mixture and stir until combined.
  4. Divide the dough into 24 balls. Press each ball evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a muffin cup. Spoon the sausage mixture evenly into the dough cups.
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
pastry
cupcake

PRISCILLA’S Sweet BAKES

Priscilla is a baker at heart, her birthday brownies are longingly looked forward to every year! This recipe though is christmas themed and healthy(ish).

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 170 whole wheat flour
  • 230g brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 110g vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 medium carrots, grated
  • Canned pineapple, drained (you could add dried fruit here if you wanted)

Directions

  1. Line your muffin tray. And Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Stir the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl lightly whisk the egg, then whisk in the vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. Quickly and lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula. Stir in the carrots and pineapple until moist; the batter should be very thick. Divide the batter evenly in the tray cups.
  4. Bake about 30 minutes.

Beate’s POACHED PEARS

“My favourite skinny Christmas Dessert: Rosé wine Poached Pears with a dollop of half fat crème fraîche.”

Ingredients

  • 3 medium ripe pears
  • 350g sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Rosé Wine (your selection)
  • Vanilla Extract

METHOD

  1. Peel the pears, and cut them in half (removing the cores)
  2. Over a medium heat, combine the sugar, water, wine and vanilla bean in a saucepan, stirring while you bring it to the boil.
  3. Add the pears to the saucepan ensuring that they are all covered.
  4. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid, and simmer until the pears are soft.
  5. Serve the pears with a dollop of half fat crème fraîche.
pears

What’s your favourite healthy Christmas dish for the festive season? Let us know on our Facebook page!

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11 Excellent Alternative Exercise Ideas

11 EXCELLENT EXERCISE ALTERNATIVES

EXERCISE IS GOOD FOR YOU

You know this, but it can be hard to motivate yourself. Even with the knowledge that it’ll make you happier and it improves you brain function. It’s been a long day in the office and all you want to do is relax, enjoy a nice dinner and watch the newest show on Netflix. Going to the gym is boring, there isn’t much way round that and it can be hard to feel like you’re achieving anything so you gradually phase out that part of your life.

We understand, so we’ve come up with these 11 Alternative exercise options to help you find your exercise passion.

#1 POLE DANCING

More commonly associated with strippers in American blockbusters this is one of the best exercise classes out there. It requires a huge amount of fitness, strength and core muscles to do those moves.

#2 PADDLE BOARD YOGA

Yoga is about balance, what better way to advance your balancing skills than by decreasing the stability of the surface you are on? This is a seasonal class that you can even find out on the river Thames. Buoyancy aids and wetsuits are available. It would certainly give you plenty of motivation to improve your form.

#3 TRAPEZE SCHOOL

Unless you’re scared of heights this sounds like great fun. Soar through the air, flip and twist. It requires good upper body strength and will quickly develop your stamina.

#4 HULA HOOPING

Take your childhood passion and turn it into some seriously impressive skills. Hulafit runs sessions across the city. Soundtracked with bangers from Britney and Beyoncé, they’re suitable for beginners, but will soon have newbies doing hoop tricks like pros – while toning up abs, legs and arms.

#5 BARRE CLASS

This one is a favourite of Nancy’s. It is all about control and strength. These classes involve techniques from dance, yoga and fitness. The specific sequences will encourage muscles to stretch and strengthen, leaving you calm and relaxed. Be prepared to entangle yourself in strangely long and twisty positions.

#6 BOXING (OR ANY MARTIAL ART REALLY)

Not only could this come in useful one day (although hopefully not) martial arts require feats of strength, balance, skill and fitness. There are classes for all skill levels and ages, you can take up contact or non-contact.

#7 JOIN THE CIRCUS

Become a clown… okay, we joke. But you can find yourself one of the many ‘Cirque du Soleil’ style workouts which involve dangling for long periods of time as you try to regain some interpretation of up.

#8 TRAMPOLINING

This may seem like fun and games, and that’s the point, but this is a really serious question of your leg strength and overall stamina.

#9 TAKE THE DOG FOR MORE WALKS, LONGER WALKS – DON’T HAVE A DOG? GET A DOG AND TAKE IT FOR A WALK.

This isn’t so much about the dog as giving yourself a purpose and cute furry companion to go out for a long walk or run. Try and wear your dog out. It will likely never happen, you’ll just get it more excited. Let it run behind you as you cycle or jog along with you. Plan out a long walk at least once a week.

#10 TAKE UP A SPORT

What’s your favourite sport?

Sports are great ways to exercise and it doesn’t have to be some high intensity game like rugby to count. Try tennis or golf perhaps. Great excuses to enjoy some of the outside world and stretch your legs a bit.

#11 HOT YOGA

Get ready to get sweaty. They crank up the heat and put you through a series of vigorous yoga poses. You’ll need a shower after this one there’s no doubt about it. After a few classes though it’ll begin getting easier and you won’t be nearly as stiff. (I don’t think we need an image of sweaty yoga people…)

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE FITNESS CLASS? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.
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11 Best Dog Walker Parks in London

11 Best Dog Walker Parks in London

Dog Walkers in London

Having a dog in the city often seems like it would be unfair. Dogs need exercise. They need to run around manically, throw themselves about, roll in puddles and otherwise behave mischievously.

However, London has a plethora of gorgeous and sizeable parks that are perfect for a doggy day trip.

And of course if you really want, there is a huge amount of space just outside of London, the Chiltern Hills for example, which certainly deserve a thorough explore.

For all you London based dog owners (or any Londoners who like a good walk), we have compiled a short list of some of our favourite parks in London, and they really aren’t that hard to get to.

Grab your HBB, pack your essentials and get going.

#1 Hyde Park – Central London

London’s most famous – and perhaps busiest – park, but dogs are welcomed here with open paws. Hyde Park is one of the Royal Parks and forms a huge rectangular green lung in the middle of central London. It is home to numerous famous landmarks which draw in millions of tourists each year, including the Serpentine Lake, Speakers’ Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.

Nearest station? Queensway, Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch (Central Line) and Knightsbridge, Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line)

Find out more and plan your visit here.

#2 Victoria Park – East

Vicky Park, as it’s known to eastenders, is a social hotspot for outgoing canines and their owners alike. It’s split into two parts: The western half is landscaped with a fantastic organic lakeside café, boating lake and picnic areas in the summer, while the eastern half is more suitable for dogs and has larger expanses to run on.

Be advised to carry a doggie bag though as there’s an open-ended children’s adventure playground (dogs are not allowed) and plenty of green area given over to sport. The Kenton is an excellent local dog-friendly Norwegian pub to pause in.

Nearest station? Hackney Wick or Cambridge Heath, (Overground)

More info on Victoria Park

#3 Richmond Park – West

As the biggest enclosed space in London, there’s no shortage of spots for your dog to explore here in this National Nature Reserve.

This is London’s largest Site of Special Scientific Interest, so dog owners will need to be aware of the precious wildlife here. There are some restrictions in certain areas, and owners are advised to avoid the park during the deer rutting (September to October) and birthing (May to July) seasons to help prevent any potential problems.

Nearest station? Richmond (National Rail and District Line)

Is there a car park? Yes, there are several.

Find out more and plan your visit here.

#4 Regents Park – Central

Designed by John Nash, Regent’s Park covers 395 acres and is perhaps the most picturesque of central London’s parks with glorious flower beds and the famous Queen Mary’s rose garden with over 1000 varieties. There are plenty of places to let your pooch run free (especially on Primrose Hill) but dogs should be kept on leads in the formal gardens and sports areas.

Nearest station: Regent’s Park (Bakerloo line), Great Portland Street (Hammersmith & City, Circle & Metropolitan lines), Baker Street (Hammersmith & City, Circle, Jubilee, Metropolitan & Bakerloo lines), St John’s Wood (Jubilee line)

Plan your dog walk at Regents Park here

#5 Peckam Rye Park – South

This Victorian Park has recently been restored to its former Victorian glory with lottery money. At 113 acres, it is south east London’s biggest green zone and it has loads to offer: woodlands, a lake, formal garden and the Café on the Rye.

The arboretum is a canine-free zone but the lovely Japanese garden isn’t, and there are plenty of other trails to take: Southwark council even provides a handy trail map.

Nearest station? Denmark Hill Station (Overground)

Plan your dog walk in Peckham Rye Park here.

#6 Hampstead Heath – North

As far as views of London go, they don’t get much better than when perched atop Parliament Hill, the summit of hilly Hampstead Heath. Sometimes known as ‘kite hill’ due to its popularity among kite flyers. Spanning a huge 320 hectares (790 acres), this wildlife-rich parkland is among the biggest in London and features woodlands, vast heaths and swimming ponds, including one dedicated to dogs that enjoy a dip in the water. As you’d expect from an ancient heathland, there’s plenty of history, too – there are at least 55 historical features, monuments and archaeological sites to explore.

Nearest station? Golders Green, Hampstead or Kentish Town (Northern Line) and Hampstead Heath or Gospel Oak (London Overground).

Is there a car park? Yes, several.

Find out more and plan your visit here

#7 Battersea Park – Central

This Thames-side gem spans 200 acres with lakes, woodland areas, designated nature spots and open space. The park, which opened in 1858 on reclaimed Thames marshland, has a colourful history – including that of The Brown Dog affair. A statue of the same name was placed in the park in memory of dogs used in research experiments at the turn of the last century and was the subject of huge political controversy. The terrier figurine sits on a plinth in the park’s woodland, beside the Old English Garden.

Nearest station? Battersea Park (National Rail)

Is there car park? Yes

Find out more and plan your visit here.

#8 Lee Valley Park – East

This enormous 10,000 acre, 46 mile long linear park along the leafy banks of the River Lee runs from the East India Dock Basin on the River Thames in east London and up through Essex and Hertfordshire to Ware.

The park’s towpath through London takes in Walthamstow Marsh Nature Reserve, one of the few remaining pieces of the capital’s once widespread river valley grasslands. There’s also Coppermill Fields, Leyton Marsh and Tottenham Marshes, as well as plenty of reservoirs, as the park makes its way out of London. Once the park hits Waltham Cross, it opens up to the vast expanse of open spaces and lakes of the River Lee Country Park, which even has a free 500 metre dog agility course located just north of Cheshunt Railway station.

Nearest Station? There are many, it depends on where in the park you want to go.

Find out more and plan your visit here.

#9 Wimbledon Common – South West

Who wouldn’t want to romp around on Wimbledon Common, the largest expanse of heathland in London? Encompassing Putney Lower Common and Putney Heath, the conversation area covers 1,140 acres and supports a variety of wildlife, areas of mature woodland, ponds and bogland. You’ll cross paths with horse riders here as well as school children on nature trails and foragers in the autumn. If you start out from Putney, there’s a lovely walk to Wimbledon windmill with dog-friendly tea rooms to reward the foot-sore.

Nearest station? Wimbledon Park or Southfield Station (District Line)

Plan your dog walk on Wimbledon Common here

#10 Thames Path – South West

A well-trodden path by well-heeled dog owners who live locally but little known about outside the postcode. The walk offers the most pleasant, leafy views of the river, and is lined with fabulous trees which have grown huge due to the abundance of water. If you’re feeling energetic you can walk all the way from Hammersmith to Twickenham, – there are plenty of riverside pubs to stop at, several of which allow dogs on the lead.

Nearest Station? It depends where you want to start.

More info on dog walking on the Thames Path from Barnes

#11 Highgate Wood – North

A short walk from Hampstead Heath will bring you to this 70 acre ancient woodland. It’s a haven for wildlife and accessible scenic walks and, come spring, you’ll find a beautiful carpet of bluebells there. Evidence of its history dates back to prehistoric times. There are good facilities here, including a cafe, on the edges of the woodland’s central field.

Nearest train station: Highgate (Northern Line).

Is there a car park? Yes.

Find out more and plan your visit here.

What’s your favourite walk in or around London? And your favourite HBB to take with you?

We’d love to know in the comments section below.

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