Lifestyle and fashion. Posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5pm.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

THE go-to green smoothie

Smoothies; they sound good, right? How about if I said green smoothies? Does it sound as appetising? For some of you the answer is probably no, but when I was a green smoothie virgin I was exactly the same. Like spinach in a smoothie?! Please don't. But as a survivor and now lover of these bad boys, I guarantee you that they taste delicious.  I have one every evening so I'm going to share with you my favourite one.

I'm Liam and I'm addicted to smoothies. I haven't gone 1 day without drinking one lately.

The tropical one:

Fresh root ginger x 1 small teaspoon (grated or finely chopped)
Wheat-grass x 1 teaspoon (not heaped)
Chia seeds x 2 table spoons 
Flax seeds x 1 tablespoon
Coconut milk x 4 table spoons
Orange juice x a big splash
Spinach x 1 cup if fresh. 3 pieces if bought frozen
Mango x 1 handful
Pineapple x 1 handful
Banana  x 1
Oats *optional x 2 table spoons 



Smoothies are such a great way to nourish your body. If like me you don't like the texture of fruit but love the taste; or if you're genuinely struggling to eat enough fruit and veg, then make a smoothie. A GREEN one. They're such a quick and easy way to get in vital nutrition and The Tropical one is packed with a whole lot of it!

Benefits of The Tropical One:

Fibre 
Iron 
Vitamin C 
Protein ✓
Omega 3 
Amino acids  
Filling  
Hydrating  
Aids digestion  
Packed with energy 
Great for the skin 
Antioxidant heaven 
3 of your 5 a day  

We were always told as children to eat our greens, so it's about time we started. The best bit of this smoothie is that you won't even taste any of the green goodness in it but you'll still be getting all the benefits of it. Now you can get on the health bandwagon with me and start to feel the benefits. Let me know how you find it or if there's anything you would change.

What's your favourite smoothie?

Liam
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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Where I want to go Wednesday: Australia

Australia. You hear about it all the time; people move over there, people travel to there, people do working holidays out there. But why does everyone fly over the pond for this place?
Source: here. Snapped by my big brother in Melbourne, Australia.
I'm actually one of those people that are going over there - by January 2018 in fact. As part of my travels I am planning on ending my journey in Australia with a working holiday and I can't bloody wait. A few of my friends have gone travelling over there, and my brother has lived out there for almost 4 years. My friends travelled around Australia whereas my brother did a working holiday out there, but has since ended up living there for good. Hearing their stories has filled me with jealousy and given me the nudge to 'go down under'.

Source: here. Snapped by my friend. 
Source: here. Snapped by the same friend.

Why, why, why? Here are my top 5 reasons for jetting off.

  1. The beauty of Australia. You are surrounded by one in a million sights. I'm not just talking about the great landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, I'm talking about the luminous sunsets; the beaches with clear water; and, the amazing jungles. Plus hello the great barrier reef?! You don't get that sort of thing in the UK.
  2. The wildlife. Yes there are some scary animals over there, don't even get me started on the spiders out there I could cry just thinking about them. I mean the kangaroos, the koala bears and the whales. I could go on. What a treat to the eyes.
  3. The money. If you go on a working holiday to Australia, you can earn around $20 an hour just by being a bartender, need I say more?
  4. The beautiful weather and climate, which is enough of a reason for some people to move out there! It's hot, like really hot, and the sun makes an appearance most days so you can count on getting a tan and everyone knows everything is better with a tan, right?
  5. The healthy lifestyle. Australians are typically very health focused as a society so you can guarantee you will find some good wholesome and organic food - whether you eat out or buy some food from a shop. This is great for us vegetarians and vegans; niche, what niche?
Source: here

There are so many reasons to visit Australia, but above are the most common. Some of the places I plan on a visiting out there are Melbourne; Sydney; Perth; Queensland and, Brisbane but I'm sure I will venture off the beaten path too. 

Have you ever been to Australia? Let me know about it below in the comments!
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Friday, 23 September 2016

Lush Cosmetic's Don't Look at Me

Since I've just got a new pot of Lush Cosmetic's Don't Look at Me, I feel compelled to tell you all about the product. It is one of my firm favourite's, if not my favourite vegan fresh face mask which they sell.  It is heaven to the skin and I use it as part of my weekly beauty routine, not that I really have one of those routine things down yet...


I'm blue da ba dee da ba die.
I normally use the mask once a week, sometimes twice alongside the Cup O'Coffee mask which I have talked about previously here.

You looked, didn't you? Same.
Similar to the other fresh face masks Lush sell, Don't Look at Me comes in a small pot weighing at 75 grams. Don't let that put you off though as you can get up to 5 or 6 uses out of it as it is filled to the brim. Plus it lasts for 4 weeks so there's no need to rush through the pot. It does need to be refrigerated within 24 hours of purchase though so make sure to put it in the fridge as soon as possible to lock in the nutrients and keep it fresh.


So. 
Much. 
Blue. 

I'll be honest, the first time I bought this mask it was because I liked the colour of it. Guilty.
BUT after using it once I realised it's pretty good for the skin too, bonus! The mask is packed full of a range of nourishing ingredients and some organic which means it is kinder to your face than some store bought ones.

It smells so 'lemony' you could swear you were surrounded by a field of lemon trees. It's beautiful.
The main benefit I have found from this product are the toning properties of the lemon juice which reduce redness and balance out the colour of the face whilst reducing blotches. It's nothing dramatic but it is a noticeable difference. In addition to this, the lemon and kaolin deeply cleanse your face and draw out impurities and toxins. Lush have underplayed how cleansing this mask is as it's a treat and very refreshing.

With that in mind it's not the smoothest of masks to put on but that's because of the ground white rice in it making it fairly gritty. Unlike other exfoliating face masks like Cup O'Coffee, Don't Look at Me appears to have finer exfoliants in it so although gritty, it is actually gentler on the skin. Having said that, it seems to be packed with more exfoliants than others so has the same impact at smoothing out the face. The exfoliating rice is especially effective on the nose as it can unblock pores and buffer out the rough areas which accumulate here.

Fortunately Don't Look at Me doesn't stop there as it is packed with softening tofu and murmur butter which moisturises your face whilst you sit back and relax. Be warned it is in no way a moisturising mask but it does soften the skin and hydrate it to an extent.

Lightly moisturising  
Toning 
Exfoliating 
Cleansing 
Refreshing ✓
An all in one mask 

Easy peasy really lemon squeezey

As it's quite a thin consistency, don't be shy about spreading on a thick layer of this mask because sadly a little does not go a long way with this gem. Once spread, leave to harden for 15 minutes so it can work it's cleansing, toning and moisturising magic and then wet fingers and massage into face for one minute. Make sure to massage rougher areas or clogged up areas of the face for a little longer. Then rinse, dry and go check yourself out.
*Be aware the mask can get a little flaky after a while as it hardens on your face.

Ingredients:

Glycerine, Kaolin, Water (Aqua), Fresh Organic Lemon Juice, Organic Silken Tofu, Rice Syrup, Grounded White Rice, Rice Milk, Murumuru Butter, Bentone gel, Grapefruit Oil, Neroli Oil, Limonene, Geraniol, Linalool, Farnesol, Perfume, Colour 42090

Face mask rating: 
Price: £6.95 for 75g

Have you got a favourite fresh face mask from Lush? *Alliteration points*

Liam

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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Zinco Lounge: Perfect comfort food

If you're a vegan like me, you might miss one food you used to eat more than anything. In my case it's BURGERS (vegi ones of course). I am a burger connoisseur and when I was vegetarian I ate them religiously when dining out, but now as a vegan I find them really hard to come by as most have egg and cheese in them #VeganProblems. However tonight I was pleasantly surprised to see Zinco Lounge a restaurant near me had a vegan burger on the menu, you read that right. It goes without saying that I was in my element.
Dark and mysterious?
Alternative decor.
The restaurant had a good variety of food. It was nice to see that they took the time to make a menu just for us vegans out there, much appreciated! There was a few options to choose from but without any hesitation I chose the Thai spiced quinoa and edamame bean burger with slaw and rustic fries. As you may know restaurants commonly create bean burgers as a vegetarian burger alternative. And although what I ate was a bean burger, it was refreshing to see that Zinco Lounge put a twist on the classic by using edamame beans instead of the typical kidney or cannellini beans. The edamame beans were paired with Thai spices and quinoa which was very original and tasty. Along with this I also added a side of guacamole to spread on the burger and Sourdough bun. I used this as a mayonnaise substitute and it was delicious and so silky smooth. Overall it was a really tasty meal, but the burger probably could have used a little less spice but that's just a personal preference!

Look how smooth that little pot of green goodness is!

Tastiest fries I've had in a long time and they came in a mug.

The restaurant also accommodates for gluten free and vegetarian so has covered it's back on a range of diets out there and we both know how hard that can be. As for the vegan menu, take a look at it here:
You're not reading the menu wrong, that does say vegan cakes.
If finding vegan dinner out isn't hard enough, hearing about vegan desserts is almost unheard of. I was so excited to see this wasn't a problem at Zinco Lounge who offered a fruity flapjack as well as a ginger and dark chocolate torte, both of which would normally have honey and dairy in. I ended up buying both because my card 'accidentally' slipped into the card machine? Whoops. Not normally a fan of dark chocolate but always up for trying new foods I surprisingly enjoyed the dark chocolate and ginger torte. The ginger in it wasn't overpowering and I found the dessert very moist and moreish. It was very sweet just like the flapjack which was also very tasty. Unlike the torte, I did find the flapjack extra sweet, but luckily I have the world's biggest sweet tooth so didn't mind.
Dark chocolate and ginger torte.

Fruity flapjack.

Would I go back? Yes.
Total cost: £14.35

Restaurant rating: 


Where do you go for your burger fix?

Liam

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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Sweet, sweet lickable lips

There's a face exfoliator, a body exfoliator, a foot exfoliator and all thanks to Lush Cosmetics there is now an exfoliator just for your lips. Not only will Lush's lip exfoliators treat you to soft luscious lips, but they will make you taste as sweet as sugar. All Vegan friendly, they come in 3 tastes: Popcorn, Mint Julips and, Bubblegum. Compact, effective, 100% addictive and in the words of Lush they are "Lip-smackingly good".

I use the popcorn flavour.

Weighing at only 25g a pot, I never thought these scrubs would last very long but Lush proved me wrong. I have over 3/4 of a pot left and I bought this scrub around 8 months ago, that's with me using a pea-sized amount once to twice a week. Another plus is how full they make this pot - it is literally to the brim. You could compare Lush's lip scrubs to Pringles who are the only crisp company out there to pack up their pots. Well done Guys.

How to and what.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you don't need a thorough step by step for this one! 

Using a small amount scrub your lips in a circular motion and leave to sit on for about 30 seconds to let the oils soak in, at least that's what I do. Then follow up by using a lip balm like the one I talk about here. Kissable lips? Check! The popcorn scrub is full of sea salt and caster sugar which act as great exfoliators for your lips, and as the materials are fine it's not very abrasive. Something which I was initially worried about. As a bonus, the scrub is also a tasty treat so just lick your lips when you're done and enjoy (note: do not treat this scrub as a snack as tempting as it will be. Willpower people).

Besides the smooth lips, the jojoba oil and coconut oil in the popcorn scrub act as a natural moisturiser, which can be a little oily but the oils soon absorb after about 10 minutes.

When I first bought this little guy, I was applying it like every hour.  I. Love. Sugar.
The only downside to this scrub is that it is very messy. Sugar EVERYWHERE people. I've learned my lesson of not using this in bed or out and about because it gets everywhere and people notice...whoops.  Would I purchase again though? 100%.

Ingredients:

Caster Sugar, Organic Jojoba Oil, Fine Sea Salt, Polenta, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Popping Candy, Flavour

Lip scrub rating: 
Price: £5.50 for 25g


What's your favourite lip balm?

Liam
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Monday, 12 September 2016

Sticky stir fry Sunday

Quick, easy and very cheap. Before you get ahead of yourself, I'm on about my stir fry! I'm addicted to it and make it religiously - anywhere between once to three times a week, mostly on the weekend. It's just so satisfying and full of nutrition so you can't go wrong. Make it with an array of vegetables, meat substitutes, seeds or whatever you want. It's also good for getting food out of your fridge that's going to go bad soon. Plus, no matter what your cooking skills you're sure to not mess this one up!


I like to team up my vegetables with my home made sticky peanut satay sauce that will keep you coming back for more! I use peanuts, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce for this, and occasionally I add  extra garlic, orange juice and ginger for a bit of a kick.  As for the veg, this dish can involve any of the following:

Carrots  / Peppers / Beansprouts / Broccoli / Cabbage / Cauliflower l Edamame beans / Onions / Mangetout / Water chestnuts

I use coconut oil to lightly fry the food.
For protein I always add tofu, vegan quorn 'chicken' pieces, chia seeds and sometimes cashew nuts - and for carbs, I boil wholegrain rice in vegetable stock.


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
*Lasts for around 2 days so long as it is in an air tight container in the fridge.

The prep:
  • Start by grabbing you utensils: Sharp knife; cutting board and cooking spoon.
  • Now you'll need your veg. How much is completely up to you but I tend to use about 400 grams. Once you're ready, wash it all and cut it julienne, alternatively grab a ready stir fry pack if you're in a rush. Just as good.
  • Cut up 300 grams of tofu into cubes and put aside.
  • Measure out 2 mugs of brown rice and place in a boiling hot pot of water for 20 minutes on a high heat, along with 1 cube of vegetable stock. Stir every few minutes to make sure it doesn't burn.
The sauce:
  • In a small bowl, mash up one tomato with a folk until smooth and add in 2 table spoons of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of grated ginger root and 1 teaspoon of grated chilli (or two teaspoons of chill powder). Now whisk. 
  • Next add 1 teaspoon of paprika, half a clove of fresh grated garlic (or half a teaspoon of garlic powder) and finally, 2 table spoons of brown sugar. Now do a final whisk of this and put aside. This is your sweet chilli sauce.
  • In a separate bowl, add in 2 and a half heaped table spoons of peanut butter like this one and 4 teaspoons of soy sauce like this one and whisk. Melt this in the microwave for 20 seconds before mixing in the sweet chilli sauce from your other bowl.
The fry bit:
  • In a wok, heat two tablespoons of oil until very hot and then pour in all your tofu and make sure to fry it so every side goes golden brown. 
  • Now pour in your vegetables and reduce to a medium heat and continuously stir. After 5 minutes, reduce cooking heat again to low so the veg lightly cooks for a further 10 minutes.
  • During the final 5 minutes of cooking pour in your peanut satay sauce and mix it in with 3 table spoons of chia seeds and a handful of cashew nuts.
  • Finally, drain your rice in a sieve for several minutes and then serve along with your veg whilst it's hot.
This meal is both filling and delicious and everyone loves stir fry. Not only will it taste great, but it's packed with fibre, protein, magnesium, vitamin c and iron. Score! Now give it a try and let me know how you get on in the comments section below.

What do you put in your stir fry?

Liam
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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

For the love of lip balm!

Okay let's talk lips, shall we? If you're like me, you don't leave the house without your keys, wallet, phone and most importantly, lip balm. It's a necessity and you can't go a few hours before spreading some onto your lips. My all time favourite is Lush Cosmetic's vegan Buttered Brazils Lip balm.


This balm costs a hefty £6.75 for 12g of nut oils, waxes and butters - and although it's slightly pricey, it lasts for a long time. I made my second purchase of it after I sadly run out of my previous one last week. It lasted for around a month and a half, but that's with me applying it around 3 times a day. Really.


You only need to rub the balm 5 or 6 times with your finger to melt it before you have a perfect layer to smother on. It's quite oily so will leave a lovely shine, perfect if you need to pucker up for someone.  It also smells delicious, so everybody is going to be asking you what you have on. If you're after something with a subtle smell though, I would not advise using Buttered Brazils as it is so pungent. No exaggeration but people know I'm in a room because they can smell this balm on me. They say "Liam's definitely here". As for the taste, you may have guessed it tastes quite nutty - but with a hint of cocoa and golden syrup for added sweetness.

I've found this balm to be super moisturising and as someone who gets dry lips this is my perfect companion. 
The added cocoa butter and shea butter leaves a slight layer but it is absorbed in around 10 minutes, and after that you are left with super moisturised and soft lips. The only con of this product is that when you get to the bottom of the tin it is quite grainy so acts as more of an exfoliator than a moisturiser. With that in mind, it is still very moisturising but has a crumbly texture instead.

When I was vegetarian, I used Honey Trap from Lush which was great so when I recently became vegan I needed something of the same quality. Buttered Brazils hasn't disappointed me and I'm sure it won't disappoint me.

Ingredients:

Fair Trade Shea Butter, Organic Brazil Nut Oil, Candelilla Wax, Organic Castor Oil, Cupuacu Butter, Water (Aqua), Coconut Wax, Dark Chocolate, Fair Trade Organic Cocoa Butter, Flavour, Cetearyl, Alcohol, Golden Syrup, Cocoa Roasted Extract, Fair Trade Vanilla Absolute, Almond essential oil

Lip balm rating: 
Price: £6.75 for 12g

What's your favourite lip balm?

Liam


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Monday, 5 September 2016

The perfect hangover cure: Urban Zen Cafe

So you wake up after the night before; all your clothes are still on, you smell of alcohol and regret -and your head is pounding. Oh wait, is that just me?  At least that was me last Sunday morning.  All I wanted to do is stay in bed and feel sorry for myself all day long, but I was determined to fighting 'the lazy' in me and doing something. Doing something in Liam land generally involves eating, so my cousin and I decided to get some grub to help cure the worst hangover I have ever had. We went to Urban Zen Yoga Studio & Cafe.
Urban Zen cafe sharing the cacti love.
Urban Zen's cafe is very local to me but somewhere I've never ventured to. I've been meaning to go for SO LONG though. 
Nothing like a quick read whilst you eat. There were a whole bunch of magazines and recipe books to gaze your eyes on.
The cafe serves divine home-made whole-food which is organic, locally sourced, has unrefined flour and sugar in it and is plant based. This is a refreshing change from all the food chains in Swansea, as many don't offer vegan and those that do aren't the best. The fact that Urban Zen Cafe is all vegan makes me wonder if I'm dreaming?  The world needs more places like this, don't you agree? If you're wondering if the food was tasty though, the answer is yes, yes, and yes again.  You can really tell the team have put a lot of thought into what food they're creating as it goes beyond the basic salads and falafel dishes that many vegan places offer. 

When I saw the menu, my heart immediately chose to eat one of their wholemeal wraps, which was filled with marinated tempeh, vegan mayo, avocado, tomato, hummus, lettuce and leaves. This was served with a beetroot and red cabbage coleslaw and a simple salad of spiralized cucumber, lettuce, red pepper, grated carrot and spring onions. I was so excited to eat the wrap specifically as I've never eaten tempeh. I know, I know, I'm a vegan who's never eaten tempeh? WEIRD.  Turns out it's pretty tasty! Teamed up with all the other ingredients, the wrap was moist and packed with flavour and their vegan mayo was to die for. The salad was also very tasty, and that's coming from someone who stays far away from salad. Just hearing the word is blasphemous usually. Urban Zen's salad has made my taste buds think otherwise as they are now craving it all over again.
Lunch.
Dessert.
Along with my meal, I ordered a "Tropical Trip" smoothie which was the perfect companion to my meal. It was a sweet blend of mango, coconut, banana and baobab, but the ingredient I tasted the most was coconut but that certainly wasn't a bad thing.  All together in this one meal, I got approximately 5 of my 5 a day, boom.  By the end of it I was pretty full, but they had desserts so I didn't stop there. My sweet tooth was saying 'Get one Liam. Do it' and I couldn't say no to the little guy. Plus it was vegan and had no nasty ingredients like cane sugar and white flour so it was guilt free and cruelty free. Sold. I decided on a gluten free chocolate peanut slice. It was super tasty, sweet and full of crunch, the only downside was the size of it as I could have eaten a whole tray of them. 1 is never enough, right?  They used coconut sugar for sweetness and it really worked.



Contrary to belief, you don't need greasy food to cure a hangover, at least that's what I've learnt from coming here. But I don't need to be hungover to return. As Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, "I'll be back".

Cafe rating: 

Where's your favourite place to eat at to nurse a hangover?

Liam

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Thursday, 1 September 2016

#OOTD

My outfit of the day was simple and cool, perfect for a summer night's walk down Swansea Bay after work.  When you need to unwind, the beach is the place to go. With my nearest beach being only a 15 minute walk away, I'm a very lucky man!

Smart-casual for when you want to dress down, but want to be 'ready' in case you bump into somebody you know or like.
When you want to look decent after a long day, but you really don't want to dress up BECAUSE it's been a long day the 'open shirt' look has got you covered. 

Unisex. Quick. Easy. 
I teamed up a green checked shirt, white top and a pair of light blue stretch-skinny jeans, then topped them off with some black skater style shoes and a pair of white sports socks.


Not normally a fan of green, but always a fan of checked shirts I gave into temptation and bought this item a while back - and I'm glad I did as it's my favourite (and only) green item. The pale colour gave me that summer look I was hoping to achieve; sported with a pair of light blue jeans it was an easy combo. I rolled up both the shirt and jeans as I do religiously with all my clothes as I feel it puts the smart into 'smart-casual'.

As for my shoes, they pretty much go with all my casual outfits as you would expect from any skater brand of shoes. Whenever any of my black shoes come out with me like the ones you see above, my white sports socks make an appearance too!  I love showing a bit of sock and I love the contrast in colours between black and white. Occasionally I wear black socks instead and roll them up so there's a bit of ankle on show. Cheeky.

What I wore today:
Total cost: £113
*All items have lasted over a year. All good quality. *Shoes are not vegan as they were purchased at a time when I was not following this lifestyle. They have suede in them.

Are you a fan of the open shirt look too?

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