Tuesday, 16 August 2016

P'S "HEALTHIER" CARBONARA . . .

I have always been a massive fan of pasta.

I sometimes try to limit my carbs, but my love of pasta means that will never last for long. It is just the best. So tasty, and such a comfort food staple in my book.

My go-to current pasta recipe is my own version of carbonara. I've always been a massive fan of carbonara. My version though . . . well, it's a healthier one than the norm, or I like to think it is anyway. Mainly because it doesn't have cream in it. But it does have plenty of other delicious ingredients, it's easy to make, and it tastes ace. If I say so myself. ;-)

So let's get you up to speed on how to produce a plate of this yumminess all by yourself, yeah?

INGREDIENTS (this will serve two)
  • 160g spaghetti (you can use other pasta if you want, but spaghetti is my personal fave)
  • Veg of your liking (I used a red onion, a handful of chopped up mushrooms and around half of a red pepper, but you can pretty much use whatever you want and in whatever quantities. It's a pretty adaptable recipe! I also throw in a garlic clove if I happen to have garlic around.)
  • Diced chorizo (I used about 60g for the recipe)
  • Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt (small tub - 190g)
  • 50g of grated cheddar
  • 1 medium egg
  • Spices - a sprinkling of hot chilli pepper and paprika (optional)
  • Parmesan (to serve - optional but extremely delicious)

METHOD
  • Cook your spaghetti the normal way.
  • In the meantime, chop up your veg and add it to a pan with either some olive oil or Frylight. Fry away.
  • After about five minutes, throw the chorizo in and continue to fry. By this time, your spaghetti should be nearly ready to go.
  • Add the entire pot of Greek yogurt into the frying pan, ensuring the hob is now done to a low heat. If you're planning to add spices, do so at this point.
  • Drain the pasta and then add it to the pan of vegetables and yogurt, keeping on a very low heat, and keeping everything moving so nothing sticks to the pan (add a tablespoon or two of water if necessary). Mix everything together well, then crack an egg into the pan, mixing it in thoroughly.
  • Once the egg is mixed in, add the grated cheddar and keep stirring for a minute or so longer.
  • Serve up onto the plates, sprinkle some parmesan on top, and enjoy.
This is definitely a lovely treat for one of those days where you have had a rubbish day and want a nice big dose of carbs, meatiness and cheese. It also isn't mega-high in calories - when I was adding this into my diary on myfitnesspal last time I was making it, it came to around 650 calories. Which granted, isn't ideal if you're being incredibly strict but if it's that or you go out for dinner and end up having the heavy cream based carbonara as well as a starter and half a bottle of wine . . . it's a decent alternative. ;-)

You could also leave out the meat if you're not a meat-eater. Oh and if you're weird with eggs, rest assured you won't even notice the inclusion of that one egg. Pinky swear.

Let me know if you give this a go. And enjoy!!! :-)

PS. You can check out all of my other recipes here.





Friday, 5 August 2016

ON "CASUAL FRIDAYS" AND WHY THEY'RE NOT FOR ME . . .

Happy Friday!

Always an awesome feeling  . . . well, as long as you don't work weekends, in which case I apologise and will try not to rub it in. This post isn't really about the weekend anyway. It's about something related to Friday in particular, which quite a lot of people will experience in their working life.

Dress-down Fridays.



I don't really *get* the whole concept of "casual Fridays".

It may partly be because I'm not really a "casual dresser" as such. I've only owned about two pairs of jeans in the past five years and I don't really feel comfortable in them. At the moment I don't own any that fit, for a start, so I'm certainly not going to wear them to work on a Friday!

I also just don't understand what makes Friday a different day from the rest of the week, when you're required to dress smartly. Don't the same things still happen that happen every other day that mean you dress smartly on those days? Meetings, visitors coming into the office? I've worked in so many offices over the years that operate a casual Friday policy and this still bamboozles me many years later!

But the main thing that annoys me about it is that I only have a few outfits I actually feel I can wear on a Friday, probably about three outfits that I wear on a rotation - a black top and stretchy mini skirt (I have two in different patterns which I alternate), a grey pinafore dress (pictured above) or  a black jersey dress. Which are also my standard weekend garb. (Seriously, if you look at any Instagram pics of me from a weekend you'll start to notice a recurring theme!)

I think most people wake up on a Friday, think "brilliant, I can wear what I want" and throw on a pair of jeans and a nice top and come in and look fab . . . I just always wear the same thing. And if I'm meant to be going out straight from work it's even worse because I'm not wearing anything different than I wear most Fridays. So I feel like people must think "does she have no clothes or something?" on a Friday. Even if I do think the few "more casual" clothes I own are cute.

It's weird because I used to love a "non-uniform" day in school growing up. The difference was though that I was wearing a uniform I hated on the other days. These days I far prefer my "uniform" of non-casual clothes and would rather stick to them!

Maybe I just need to buy more casual clothes.

Any excuse to spend money on more clothes! ;-)

Do you have a casual Friday in your workplace?

Thursday, 4 August 2016

WHAT MAKES ME SWITCH OFF AN EXERCISE DVD . . .

I'm a wee bit of an exercise DVD addict.

I've had wee phases of getting into the gym (emphasis on the "wee phases" part - they normally last a couple of weeks max) and I tried to get into running a couple of times without success... and I'm not a "class person" either - my once a week pole fitness class can be stressful enough for me at times (I am ridiculously possessive over the pole I use and get very upset if anyone beats me to it!), so I wouldn't want to add to that stress. So exercise DVDs are my saviour.

Well, I'm not sure "saviour" is the right word. I am interested in exercise DVDs.

I like to buy them.

Using them is a bit more sporadic, let's just say.

I do however feel I'm a wee bit of an expert in them due to me owning so many of the damn things. So I thought it would be good to do a post about the things that I don't like in an exercise DVD. Y'all ready to hope on board today's rant? Okay, let's do this!


When the people in the DVD don't have their hair tied back
I don't trust people who work out with their hair loose. Either their workout isn't hard enough or they have some sort of ridiculous sweat glands that just don't produce sweat. And how dare they look glam after the same workout that makes me look like an angry tomato with a greasy scalp? They're taking fecking liberties, that's all I can say! Oh, and while we're on the subject of hair, what about the celebrities who appear to have gotten hair extensions purely for the purpose of the DVD so they can have a high swishy ponytail? We don't care about your fecking hair, we are trying to get your celebrity BODY here!

Jumping around
I hate exercise DVDs that involve too much jumping around. I don't mind the odd bit, I know this plyometric stuff is good for me but my legs hate me for it! Oh and lunges, especially jumping lunges are the worst. My knees are my worst enemy (well, after my flabby gut) and this sort of move really does not agree with me . . . and is most likely to leave me walking away from your DVD and never returning.

Strange dialogue
If you find a DVD that you don't mind the exercises for and start doing it regularly, one thing you notice the dialogue going on during it. And sometimes it's really bloody weird. One DVD I do fairly regularly, the Clare Nasir one (I know, I didn't know who she was either) has an exercise they do called "Stir the Soup" during which a very strange conversation goes on between Clare and her trainer "What's your favourite type of soup?" she asks the trainer. He replies "Strawberries and cream . . . but I don't think it's allowed on the diet plan." That is just weird, but I can accept it because the workout itself is okay. Other DVDs have had me screaming at the TV to shut up. Jillian Michaels spouting her self-help crap or telling me not to "phone it in" makes me want to hurl the remote, for example.

Repeating the same moves over and over and OVER again
There's a particular trainer who does this a lot and is behind a few so-called-celeb fitness DVDs. If you don't mind a certain move that's one thing . . . but if you end up having to do more than 300 knee lifts over the space of a 20 minute section of workout (and, yes, this has happened to me!), it seems a bit too much like overkill, even if it does burn a lot of calories. The boredom just ain't worth it!

Long warm-ups which are part of one of the main workouts
I generally like to do my own warm-ups when I am going to do a fitness DVD. This is because I find the ones on most DVDs a bit boring and frustrating. So I hate when a fitness DVD goes to the trouble to split the DVD into sections that you can skip between . . . but attach it at the start of the first workout so you have to try and fast forward through it if you want to do your own warm-up and then launch into that particular section. Very irritating. See also: cooldowns at the end of one section of the workout - this generally happens with ab/core workouts. Sometimes I might want to do the cooldown without the ab part first, you know!

Someone really buff doing the "easy" version of the moves
It's always nice when there's an easy version of some of the moves, especially when they are particularly hard. When it's someone who is quite clearly in extremely good shape and more than capable of doing the harder moves, it winds me up. I feel a bit patronised.

Including burpees in the workout
Main reason here is that burpees are the devil, they exhaust me, and I can't bloody do them properly! Is it just me who hates them? Am I the only person who finds their body won't actually work correctly when I try to do them? How the hell am I meant to make my legs jump out behind me and then propel me upright in one swift move? My body can't do it! Burpees make me feel like a failure. Please don't add them in! I can try and fail at them on my own time, 'kay?


Are you a fan of fitness dvds? What puts you off them?

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

P REVIEWS . . . SCHWARZKOPF LIVE LIGHTENER + TWIST (IN COOL LILAC) . . .

Guys, I am beyond obsessed with pastel hair.

Ever since I discovered Bleach London's range of pastel colours about a year ago, I have sporadically been using the rose and lilac colours, usually mixed together. But they wash out so quickly!


So when I found out about Schwarzkopf's Live Lightener + Twist range I was immediately intrigued. But a bit scared. Because the dye claims to lighten hair up to four shades while also providing a pastel tone.

Permanently.


Now, I did a wee bit of research prior to purchasing it, and I couldn't find any reviews of it - if it wasn't for the fact that I knew a girl in real life who had used it (the girl who told me about it in the first place), I would have been trying it completely blindly. So I figured I would document my experience for anyone who is curious about the product. (You are welcome.)

First of all, the box states that the dye is not suitable for use on coloured hair. Now, I did not realise this until now, as I type this review up! It is intended for blonde hair, but I guess they are trying to say it is only for natural blondes. Now, I hardly know any natural blondes myself so they are probably limiting their market somewhat with that statement.

I am obviously not a natural blonde. My (naturally brown) hair is probably medium blonde and usually darker at the top than the bottom, and I had about half an inch of black roots prior to using this hair-dye. So I don't even have white blonde hair that could potentially act as a blank canvas for a pastel shade.

But I decided to go for it anyway. Because I wanted pastel hair that much.

I opted for the cool lilac shade as I thought it would potentially be more subtle than the pink. It was simple to mix up and then it was just a matter of applying it to the roots, followed by the rest of the hair for a much shorter time near to the end. (Weirdly, this was following the instructions for previously dyed hair - so totally contradicting the advice on the box, no?)


I did find it a wee bit difficult to apply to the hair - it wasn't as easy as one of my usual blonde hair dyes, it didn't rub in as smoothly. Plus I was very paranoid about it going wrong, especially as my roots were looking a worrying bright orange colour under the dye!


I left it on slightly less time than advised, once again because I was paranoid about it going wrong. Then it was just a matter of washing it off, and massaging the colour after-treatment into my hair before washing that off too.


I was pleasantly surprised (and relieved) with the results - I just wish I'd left it on longer now.  My hair is definitely a bit lighter, with a definite pastel lilac tone to it. I really like it, and I like that it's not going to wash out straight away like the Bleach London ones. I'm sure you'll agree it doesn't really look much like the model on the box - but then remember I'm working with already dyed, unnaturally blonde hair - and my hair is in nowhere near as good condition as the model on the box, but we'll pretend it looks just as glossy and amazing, OKAY??? ;-)

I will probably use the dye again very soon, to try and get more of an all-over effect, now that I know what I'm doing and what to expect.

It's currently only £5.49 in Boots, so it's a pretty good deal - if you are looking for lilac hair and don't mind a bit of bleach in your hair I would personally recommend it, although I guess results will vary depending on the original colour and condition of your hair. It worked for me anyway and I'm happy with the results!

Update: as nice as the results are, they unfortunately don't last long. I have used it another time since the first time and both times the pastel was gone within a fortnight. (I do still plan to use it again though, and I also found the Bleach London dyes have taken better in my hair as a result on account of it being lighter).


What do you think of the pastel hair trend? Is it something you have tried or would try?