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Detoxifying Drink: Cleanse and detox your body with this delicious and easy to make juice

This juice does not only cleanse your body but it is also packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals.  A   perfect drink for the  warm coming days, due to its colour, freshness and sweet taste.  The carrots and grapes provide plenty of natural sweetness, which match perfectly with the mild  pungent taste of the celery and the  crisp scent of   parsley. When juicing your herbs, do not remove their individual stalks since they are full of flavour and nutrients.  We suggest that you drink this juice regularly to give your system a complete clean-out and to  keep  light and fit, so you can feel more comfortable in  your favourite summer dresses and swimsuit.  Serve this drink cold and decorate with some celery sticks (to stir). Sip it on a deckchair by the pool while enjoying the sun and a favourite book or a magazine.

To make 1 large or 2 small glasses

Ingredients 

1 celery stick

300g/11oz carrots

150g/50z green grapes

several large sprigs of parsley

celery or carrot sticks, to serve

Method 

1. Using a sharp knife, roughly chop the celery, carrots and grapes through a juicer, then add the parsley sprigs. Add the remaining celery, carrots and grapes in the same way and juice until thoroughly combined.

2. Pour into one or two glasses and serve with celery or carrot stick stirrers.

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Enjoy other juices and smoothies recipes in this book: Juicing smoothies & blended drinks by Suzannah Olivier and Joanna Farrow

Other related links: http://my.blackmores.com.au/fitness-nutrition/detox-juices.html

http://www.thekitchn.com/5-healthy-juice-recipes-to-kickstart-your-new-year-182093

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Food Journal: Quinoa, Prawns and Mexican Salad

The first time I tried quinoa I was quite impressed with its flavour and also its versatility with various dishes. Today was my second try and I started by looking at Food Gawker ‘s mexican salads for inspiration. I started seeing beans, peppers, corn, quinoa.. hmm something was brewing in my head. At one point I saw prawns in one of the recipes and that’s when I knew I could do something with these ingredients.. Here’s some pan fried prawns cooked in garlic and paprika, served with quinoa and a mexican salad. It tastes amazing.. and it’s also super healthy 🙂 (Serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

Bag of frozen headless prawns

1 cup quinoa

3 medium tomatoes

3 small green peppers

Can of corn

Can of red kidney beans

2 cloves of garlic

bunch of parsley

1 lemon

1 1/2 tablespoons paprika

butter / sunflower oil

Parsley-flavoured white cheese (replace with feta cheese if you wish)

2 eggs (optional)

Method:

Cook the quina by putting 1 cup of quinoa in a small saucepan, add 2 cups water.. bring it to a boil, lower the heat & cover for 15 minutes. Then turn off the hob and leave to set (covered) for 5 minutes.

In the meantime put the headless prawns in a bowl with cold water to defrost (unless they have defrosted already) this should take between 30 mins – 1 hour.. change the water every now and then when it becomes too cold.

In a salad bowl mix together: chopped peppers, chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, corn, chopped parsley and a squeeze from half a lemon. Season as needed.

Fry 2 cloves of garlic in butter / oil, then add prawns & sprinkle with paprika.

In the meantime, serve the quinoa on the plates, and in the same saucepan cook the eggs until hardboiled (if you wish to serve eggs).

Leave the rest of the lemon on the plates so one can add more lemon juice if they wish.

Finally sprinkle white cheese/ feta cheese on your mexican salad and you’re done!

Enjoy 🙂

RunWays with Block Colours

The Spring/Summer wardrobe is normally associated with florals whether subtle and dainty or bold and dramatic. Pretty dresses and decorative accessories are also a typical staple for the sunny months. When I was looking through this spring/summer designer collections I was in fact expecting to find the usual patterns and florals, and I did, however I found myself being attracted to block colours, structured geometric shapes and lots of texture.

Block colours are fantastic because they are so much more flexible than patterns, so for someone with a budget, I find it’s better to splurge on something that can be worn in a multitude of ways. Some might argue that they are not as daring as graphic prints and patterns, however I do feel that this really depends on the shape of the piece of clothing. An asymmetric or unusually-shaped outfit can still be bold and daring, and with no graphic distraction from the form of the outfit. Block colours allow for the focus to be put on the lines and curves, the fabric and its texture.

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Dior Femminine & Bold Blocks, vogue.co.uk / topshop.com / modcloth.com / asos.com

As I’ve just mentioned, the great thing about blocks of course is that they can be worn with almost anything, so you can go for a mix of patterns this season, and then get a really cool block-coloured piece of clothing that can be worn with any of these patterns. Of course, choose your colours wisely, and this doesn’t necessarily mean stick to one colour scheme or go for safer colours, clashing colours offer interesting surprises if you know what you’re doing.

Blocks can be understated & elegant in simple pastels, or bold and over the top in neon colours and matched with hip prints. Curvy girls might shy away from these kinds of straight-cut dresses and tops, however not all of them are shapeless. Waist clinching block shirts and dresses are  a great way to flatter a curvier figure, whilst the so called ‘shapeless’ dresses are better suited for slimmer boyish shapes.

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Waist clinching blocks, vogue.co.uk , topshop.com , asos.com

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Chanel’s chunky accessories, Stella McCartney’s laid back shoes, and a variety of beautifully simple & elegant bags

Below: Block inspiration from “Style’s Inspiration” Board on Pinterest by Chiara Bollecchino

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BODY DIY: Boost your metabolism with natural remedies – Part 1

In this post  I want to share with you some natural remedies that helped me to lose weight and keep healthy throughout the years. Today (part 1 of this post) we are going to discuss chili peper and ginger, both very particular in taste and both very helpful  during cold winters (since they can boost our Immune system). They can make our  dishes and drinks heartier and less boring.  Ginger can also serve as a home-made remedy for cold and flu, by adding it to warm water with  lemon and Hanukkah honey.

Chili: 

Spicing up your food does not only make your meals more adventurous but also gives you a lot of benefits.  Spices like chili are thought to raise the  metabolism by up to 50 % for up to three hours after eating; since it increases the heart rate. I enjoy chillies in everything (most of the time fresh); in savouries, chocolate and also herbal teas.  If you are not  adventurous with hot spices you can start introducing them slowly to some of your favourite meals. You will build your tolerance gradually and you will begin to appreciate its versatility and gain the benefits. If you have tried and you really  can`t take the heat and your body can`t  handle it you should go for other natural remedies.

http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/calories/burning_calories/boost_metabolism.htm

“Eating chillies can have a very positive impact on people that are overweight or suffer from diabetes, say a team of researchers at The University of Tasmania, whose research was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in July 2006”

http://www.chilli-willy.com/chilli-health-benefits/

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My own chili plant:)

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Illustration by one of the world’s first scientific illustrators (and entomologists!), Maria Sibylla Merian
http://www.goplaymagazine.com/

Ginger: 

One of my long time daily rituals is starting my day with a cup of  warm water with lemon and ginger (peeled  and grated). I suggest that you drink this delicious warm drink early in the  morning on an empty stomach.  This will help the bowel move regularly and it will serve as a tonic, thus it is easier to lose weight and avoid having a bloated stomach. Ginger also heals many digestion problems, it is  ideal for people who are going through chemotherapy, due to the fact that it  helps relieve nausea and heartburn. 

“Researchers found that participants who consumed ginger displayed greater levels of thermogenesis — the warming effect of energy produced by metabolising food in the body — and reported lower levels of hunger. While calling for further scientific studies on the topic, the researchers cautiously concluded that ginger could prove to be a helpful tool in managing and losing weight.”

http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/can-ginger-metabolism-5086.html

You can also use ginger in cooking both in savoury and sweet recipes.

We will be discussing other remedies in the upcoming BODY DIY post. Watch out:)

 

Food Journal: Sweet Potato, Mushrooms & Pancetta

I had one of those days when I had absolutely no idea of what I wanted to cook. I was tired, so I didn’t want to make something that would take ages, I was also in the mood for some comfort food. At the green grocer’s I spotted sweet potato. I had pancetta and mushrooms at home… I was getting some ideas 🙂 After a google search on how to pan fry potatoes, I found a couple of recipes that suggest frying them in butter and brown sugar. This sounded a bit too much, especially when some recipes recommended 2 cups of brown sugar. I only added 1 teaspoon with mine, the potatoes are sweet enough!

This recipe serves 2, and here’s what you need:

1 large sweet potato

chopped pancetta (for 2)

Around 6 large mushrooms

1 medium onion

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

2 Eggs

Dried Rosemary

Salt & Pepper

Method:

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add roughly chopped sweet potatoes (do not leave whole otherwise it will take longer to cook through).

In the meantime, start cooking onion and mushrooms in a bit of butter.

Once a fork can easily go through the potatoes, remove from the pot, chop into smaller chunks and add to the onion & pancetta mixture.

Add a teaspoon of brown sugar on top of the potatoes, give it a stir, then add the pancetta, salt and pepper.

Cook the mixture on medium heat until the pancetta is done.

When it’s cooked through, serve with a fried runny egg on top and grated Parmigiano. You could also serve this with toasted baguette or any sort of bread but it’s filling enough on its own.

I also love to plate these kinds of comfort foods in small terracotta dishes 🙂

Easter Sweets and Gifts

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Easter eggs from Belgium…yummy:)

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A really cute sheep soft toy from my sister in law. I named her Doris:)

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A present from my mum. Easter candles. I love the packaging:)

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Lindor Stracciatella Chocolate. Inspired by the classic Italian ice cream recipe. Super delicious.
http://www.lindt.com.au/swf/eng/products/lindor/lindor-gift-boxes/lindor-stracciatella

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A present for myself. Wooden wall hook.

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another present for myself:) NEW LOOK wedge heels

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Quinoa and Chicken Salad

The other day at work I saw someone eating what looked like barley / oats. I’m always curious when it comes to food so I asked what this type of ‘barley’ was. “Quinoa, it’s a super food, it’ s really healthy” was the answer. Quinoa! Of course! I had seen a video of one of my favorite directors (David Lynch) where he was cooking quinoa and raving about how good it was, but I never gave it a second thought.

Now I was intrigued. My colleague described quinoa as “Like couscous, but nuttier”. So quinoa is what’s on the menu for today, amongst other delicious ingredients of course. For this week’s journal I’m bringing you a super awesome superfood recipe! I’m ashamed to say that this is the first time I have tried quinoa, perhaps because it was never a common food in my mediterranean upbringing. There are limitless ingredients that you can add to quinoa. I wanted mine to be healthy, and low in carbs, here’s what I came up with:

Quinoa & Chicken salad (serves 4)

Ingredients:

A Bag of fresh spinach

Chickpeas (add as desired)

Can of corn

4 chicken breasts

Mushrooms (add as desired)

2 cloves garlic

1 spring onion

Bunch of parsley

A few slices of Prosciutto or Parma ham

Parmeggiano reggiano for grating

Method:

Cook the fresh spinach in a little bit of water (only fill about 1 inch or less of the saucepan) and a bit of salt

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In the meantime cook the quinoa.. ( Click here for a really good recipe for cooking fluffy quinoa, easy peasy 🙂 )

If you’re too lazy to click outside the article, basically you need to toast it for a few seconds in a bit of olive oil, then add water. For each cup of quinoa, add 2 cups of water (1/2 cup is enough for two people) Cook for 15 minutes on low heat, covered. Turn off the heat and let it set for a further 5 minutes (still covered). Fluff with fork and it’s ready to eat!

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Ok in the meantime, roughly chop the chicken & mushrooms.

Cook onion and garlic in olive oil, when browned add chicken and mushrooms.

When the chicken is cooked, add parsley, corn and chickpeas.

Season with salt and pepper.

There’s quite a lot of ingredients in this dish, and trick is to layer them nicely. I suggest first stirring the quinoa into your chicken mixture. Serve this on the plate first, add the spinach, layer the prosciutto (don’t flatten it if you want a dramatic effect 😉 ) Finish off with parmeggiano shavings.

That’s it! Enjoy your delicious, healthy quinoa and chicken salad (that will leave you feeling full & no bloated stomachs) 🙂

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Figolli Easter traditional sweets

Today we are sharing a well-known traditional Maltese sweet, perhaps a new discovery for our followers from oversees. One of my fondest memories when it comes to Easter is “helping” my grandma Bice making the Easter Figolli. I will never forget the table covered in flour amongst other ingredients. I used to love that mess and the smell of almonds and dough baking in the oven. Heaven:)

Later she used to place on the table an impressive number of these almond cakes in a variety of forms and shapes (most of the time symbolic shapes) and cover them in chocolate or royal icing. Obviously being a chocoholic  I used to have mine in chocolate:) As a finishing touch she would decorate the Figolli with tiny edible silver balls and an Easter egg in the middle.

This year I have tried to go back in time by making the Figolli with my mum and my sister in law Maria. I couldn’t resist trying a piece with a cup of coffee and it tastes delicious, maybe not the same as my grandma`s but it’s close enough. This time we experimented a little bit with the decoration, but we have tried to keep it traditional as much as we can. Up to a few years ago in Malta, children (including me) used to take their Figolla with them to the procession of the resurrection Christ on Easter Sunday and when the statue was passing by, they would start shouting with the Figolla held up in their hands, “Bless it for me!”. Sadly this sort of enthusiasm for simple rituals such as this is a rarity nowadays, however it is still a sweet and fond memory of mine.

We hope that you will enjoy and try our recipe so you can share it with your families and loved ones, and you have a peaceful and happy Easter.

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EASTER FIGOLLI RECIPE

Pastry

800g plain flour

400g butter, cut into pieces

350g  sugar

4 eggs

1 lemon/orange (grated zest)

dark, milk or white chocolate  (you can decorate your Figolli in the traditional way, with Royal Icing)

Filling 

600g pure ground almonds

2 drops of almond essence and vanilla essence

600g icing sugar (sifted)

Grated zest of one lemon

4 egg whites

Sift the flour into a bowl, add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips.

Add the Sugar and the lemon/orange rind and mix.

Mix in the egg yolk and gather the ingredients into a dough.

Knead the pastry and cover the pastry in cling film and leave it in a coll place for 30 to 40 minutes.

In the meantime mix together the ground almonds, essence, sugar and lemon rind in a bowl. Add the egg whites and mix well.

Roll out the pastry over a floured surface and cut  the pastry into shapes (using figolli cutters)

You will need to pastry shapes for each figolla. Place  3/4 tablespoons of almond mixture on 1 pastry shape . Moisten the edges of the pastry with a little water water and then top with another pastry shape.

Press down to seal the edges together well.bake in a moderate and to slightly hot oven for 35 minutes (until the figolli are golden)

Brush the melted chocolate over the cooled figolli (2 coatings) Decorate with easter eggs, sweets, vermicelli, etc…

Have fun and and be creative when you decorate your Figolli:)

Other related recipes:

http://www.raycalleja.com/gprec06/gp06mar26.html

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Home-made Protein Bars

Protein bars are ideal for a hectic and busy lifestyle and they can be eaten as a healthy snack before or after exercise (approx 1 and a half hour before). However some of the ready to buy bars are not always very tasteful (artificial taste) and  they are quite pricey.  They are candy in disguise;  full of sugars and preservatives and artificial colouring.  Some of these bars contain low quality ingredients such as soy protein isolate, high fructose corn syrup/solids (55% made in laboratory) and trans-fats.

Learn how to make healthy delicious protein bars by following our  recipe which I borrowed from my friend and  professional fitness instructor Alice Galea.  I have tried them myself and I promise you that they taste super delicious; like eating  cake or  pudding but healthier 🙂 These bars contain fibers, protein, natural sugars and other beneficial vitamins.

Ingredients:

8 apples (chopped with skin)
8 pears (chopped with skin)
3 mashed bananas
1 litre egg whites (you can use whole eggs instead but you will be adding much more calories , use 6-8 eggs)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 teaspoons almond essence
15 scoops (3 full mugs) vanilla whey protein powder
200g to 400g  nuts ( any kind)
200g  rolled oats (Quaker oats)
3 teaspoons Cinnamon

Optional Ingredients:  WARNING:) the more ingredients you add the more calories you will be adding

You can add peanut butter, dates, coconut flour or shredded coconut, sultana, dried fruit, concentrated apple juice

You can also add cocoa powder to make it more chocolatey (very similar to a traditional /pudding/pudina)

Original recipe makes 30 to 35 bars (depending on the cutting size)

Method: 

Put the fruit in a blender or chop manually  (do not totally puree)

Stir in  all the other ingredients with the chopped fruit

Pre heat oven on 180° for 7 mins before and bake in a shallow dish for 25-30 mins , the shallower the dish the less time it takes to set and bake

Leave it to cool , cut it into portions , wrap in cling film and freeze

This can be a complete meal , you can eat it for breakfast , lunch or dinner (or before and after exercise/ approx 1 and a half hour before). Bon appetit:) Eat well and Stay healthy.

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BODY DIY: Benefits of the lavender plant

“Lavender is native to the mountainous zones of the Mediterranean where it grows in sunny, stony habitats. Today, it flourishes throughout southern Europe, Australia, and the United States. The oil in lavender’s small, blue violet flowers gives the herb its fragrant scent. The flowers are arranged in spirals of 6 – 10 blossoms, forming interrupted spikes above the foliage. The name lavender comes from the Latin root lavare, which means “to wash.” Lavender may have earned this name because it was frequently used in baths to help purify the body and spirit. However, this herb has also been used as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled.”

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/lavender-000260.htm

I have been using lavender for the past fifteen years now; initially I used to burn its pure essential oil in a burner (diluted with water).  The relaxing and fresh smell helped to relax me and make me sleep easier. Unfortunately I have been using this ritual for so long that my sense of smell became immune to these benefits and it did not affect me anymore; now I still use lavender in a variety of different ways. I use it to moisturise my skin; by mixing it with sweet almond oil and frankincense or any other preferred essential oil. I also apply it on any blemishes and small cuts; since it  has regenerative properties, and it is an anti-infection, analgesic and anti-flamatory substance.   I also add dried lavender to camomile and drink it before I go to sleep; actually this is one of my favourite daily habits. Lavender is so versatile and it has so many properties that one can also use it for cooking (sweet and also savoury).

Here I have some lavender recipes, just for your mind, body and soul:)

Recipes: 

Lavender  and camomile bedtime drink:

Add dried lavender (1 teaspoon of dried lavender flowers in a tea strainer) and a camomile tea bag into a cup of boiling water. Drink it before you go to sleep, you will sleep like a baby:)

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dried lavender. It can be purchased from http://www.suma.coop

Body massage oil:

Mix 4 drops of lavender pure essential oil, 2/3 drops of frankincense essential oil and sweet almond oil as base oil.  Massage this mixture all over your body in the morning after showering or bathing. You will feel and smell good all day long:)

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dried lavender. It can be purchased from http://www.suma.coop

Bath oil: 

  Add 6-8 drops of  Lavender essential oil after running  water, stay in it for a couple of minutes while listening to relaxing music. Great for aching muscles, relaxation and stress relief.

Burning lavender pure essential oil:

Add 2-4 drops of lavender with water in a burner. Light a tea light and place it underneath the burner to heat the water and oil so they evaporate and fill your room with a fresh and comforting pleasant smell.

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dried lavender. It can be purchased from http://www.suma.coop
burner from the body shop http://www.thebodyshop.co.uk/

http://www.afternoontea.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=830&Itemid=1#.UTULdzCkq5I

Granny`s Lavender Shortbread

300g flour

50g cornflour

50g caster sugar

50g icing sugar

250g unsalted cold butter, cubed

25g dried lavender

1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until you have a crumbly, almost pastry consistency.

2. Cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper or a baking mat and place the mixture on top.

3. Cover the dough with greaseproof paper and roll it out until it`s about 4mm thick and bake for 15 minutes at 165C.

4. Using a shape cutter cut out the shape 5 minutes after removing it from the oven.

5. Sprinkle  a light coating of caster sugar on top.

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Lemon and Lavender Sugar Biscuits

(makes about 30 biscuits)

200g caster sugar

2 tbsp dried lavender, plus extra to serve

2 tbsp lemon zest

245g plain (all purpose) flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

180g butter, chopped

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

icing sugar, to serve

1. Put sugar in lavender in a bowl. Rub the mixture together with your hands to bruise the lavender petals. Set aside for 20 minutes to infuse. Add the lemon zest to the bowl and mix.

2. In a food processor or blender, add the flour, baking powder and salt and pulse to combine. Add the sugar mixture and pulse again. Add the cubes of butter and pulse until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Transfer to large bowl.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, egg yolk and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until ingredients come together to form a dough. Roll dough into a cylinder and cover tightly with plastic wrap ensuring dough is completely sealed. Chill in the fridge for two hours.

4. Preheat oven to 175° C (345°F). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

5. Remove dough from the fridge and discard plastic wrap. Allow to sit for five minutes to soften slightly and make it easier to roll out. Dust the work surface with a bit of flour and using rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circular shape, about 5mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and carefully transfer to the baking tray ensuring a little space is left between each.

6. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cookies  are slightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Dust with icing sugar and scatter a few dried lavender petals onto each before serving.

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Other related links: 

http://www.allthingslavender.com/