February 2015 archive

It’s all about the statement necklace

necklace5You’ve probably picked up by now on the fact that fashion is one of our biggest passions

We just love how clothes can make us feel and look. We’re definitely not slaves to fashion, but we do like to have some fun with it. One of our favourite ways to add a bit of va-va-voom to an outfit is by adding a statement necklace. In fact, we love accessories full stop. Adding a fabulous piece of jewellery – whether it be a ring, a necklace, a bracelet or a great pair of earrings – can really complete a look.

Here are a few of our favourite ways to wear a statement necklace:

  • Wear it over a boyish t-shirt and jeans, add some ballet pumps or heels and you’re good to go
  • Wear it with an all black outfit – it breaks up the black, and gives a look that’s slick, stylish and modern
  • If you’re colour-shy, add a colourful necklace to add a bit of vibrancy to your outfit. Don’t be afraid to be bold, clashing colours can look great: if you’re wearing blue, why not add a bright orange necklace.

This photo is of one of my favourite statement pieces and I always get asked where it’s from: H&M, £12.99. It goes with everything and injects a bit of glamour, transforming every outfit. The high street is full of shops selling great value costume jewellery; a few of our favourites are Zara, H&M and Top Shop.

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Delicious sweet treats without the sugar – really!

sweet_treatWe all love a sweet treat now and then (probably more ‘now’ than ‘then’ if you’re anything like us)

But if you’ve read our blog Let’s Talk Sugar, you’ll know just how bad for you sugar really is.

Before you plummet into the depths of depression envisaging a life without cake (and reach for the Haagan-Dazs to lift your spirits), read this week’s blog to find out how you can get a regular sweet fix without damaging your health.

It’s all about clean ingredients. No, we don’t mean donning your best pair of Marigolds to wash a bar of Dairy Milk. We mean avoiding processed and refined foods and basing your diet on healthier whole foods. If you replace sugar with medjool dates and chocolate with raw cacao, coconut oil and maple syrup, you can enjoy delicious, guilt-free sweet treats.

Here are a few of our favourite clean sweet treats by some of the best health and wellness experts around – Dale Pinnock, The Medicinal Chef; Rachel Holmes, Kickstart Fat Loss; Sarah Wilson, I Quit Sugar and Deliciously Ella.

Sweet potato brownies by Deliciously Ella

Makes 10 brownies

• 2 medium to large sweet potatoes (600g)

• 2/3 of a cup of ground almonds (80g)

• 1/2 a cup of buckwheat or brown rice flour (100g)

• 14 medjool dates

• 4 tablespoons of raw cacao

• 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup

• a pinch of salt

Start by pre-heating the oven to 180C, and then peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into chunks and place into a steamer for about  twenty minutes, until they become really soft.

Once they are perfectly soft and beginning to fall apart remove them and add them to a food processor with the pitted dates – this will form one of the sweetest, creamiest, most delicious mixes ever!

Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl, before mixing in the sweet potato date combination. Stir well. Place into a lined baking dish and cook for about twenty minutes, until you can pierce the brownie cake with a fork bringing it out dry. Remove the tray and allow it to cool for about ten minutes – this is really important as it needs this time to stick together! Remove the brownies from the tray, leaving it another few minutes before cutting them into squares – then dig in and enjoy!

Pure Chocolate by Deliciously Ella 

Makes 20-30 chocolates

• 1/2 a cup of cacao butter

• 2-3 tablespoons of raw cacao powder

• 3-4 tablespoons of rice syrup or pure maple syrup (the rice syrup gives them a more caramel like texture and flavour)

Simply place the three ingredients in a sauce pan and heat really gently until the three have melted together, don’t let them come to the boil though. Then spoon the mix into your moulds, freeze for about thirty minutes to an hour and then store in the fridge – if you don’t eat them all at once! Enjoy

Find more of Ella’s fab recipes a http://www.deliciouslyella.com

Gorgeous Granola Bars – Dale Pinnock 

• Bake 180 x 20 mins

• 180 g porridge oats

• 3 tbsp ground flax seeds

• 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

• 1 tbsp goji berries

• 2 tbsp chopped dates

• 1 tbsp chopped figs

• 2 tbsp coconut oil

• 2 tbsp peanut butter (a good quality one without added salt or sugar)

• 1 tbsp honey

Melt the honey, coconut oil, and peanut butter together in a pan. Stir in all other ingredients and mix well to form a sticky mixture. If you find the mixture a little too sticky, you can add more oats to firm it up a little. This will make slightly crumblier bars though. Press the mixture firmly into a greased baking tin (about 8inches x 8 inches should be big enough). Place the tin at the top of a hot oven (200c/gas9) for 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool fully before cutting into bars.

Find more fab recipes at http://www.dalepinnok.com

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Let’s talk sugar

SUGAROkay ladies, let’s talk sugar…This has to be one of the most universal love/hate relationships that exists – so don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone

You know it makes food taste good. And you probably know that it isn’t very good for you. But do you know just how bad it really is?

This week’s blog is all about what sugar does to our bodies – it’s pretty scary, so read on and it might just help tip the balance in the battle between you and the white stuff.

When we eat sugar, we get an instant high…weeeeeeee! We’re happy and full of energy for about an hour. But after the high, comes a low – a lack of energy, tiredness and mood swings, following by cravings for more of the sweet stuff. We become slaves to this awful rollercoaster of highs and lows. Is this ringing any bells?

Let’s delve a little deeper. When our blood sugar levels drop after our sugar fix, our body automatically releases hormones called insulin and cortisol. The more we ride the sugar rollercoaster, the more of these hormones we secrete. These are the hormones that cause weight gain, especially around the middle…and premature ageing…and water retention…and tiredness…and spots…and mood swings…and hunger pangs…And if you’re over 40, sugar can even intensify menopause symptoms, eek!

But you can take control! If you kick the sugar habit, you’ll lose weight, have more energy, experience fewer mood swings, enjoy great looking skin, feel more motivated, suffer milder menopause symptoms, and feel empowered that sugar is no longer ruling your life. Doesn’t that sound amazing!?

Sugar is an addiction, so I won’t pretend that kicking the habit is easy. The first few days will be tough. But I promise that once you get through the induction period, you’ll feel fantastic and wonder why you didn’t give it up sooner.

A few little tips that really helped me:

  1. eat three protein-rich meals a day to stabilise those hormones
  2. drink plenty of water (including herbal teas)
  3. keep sugar-free strawberry gum handy for when you really fancy a sugar fix.

And don’t worry, giving up sugar doesn’t mean giving up delicious sweet treats altogether. We’ll post a few fabulous sugar-free recipes that you’re sure to love.

Now, LET’S DO THIS! C’mon, what are you waiting for…?!

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Nail it

nailsHere at HC-HQ, we love making a fashion statement by adding a wash of bold colour to our nails

There’s nothing nicer than having a set of well-manicured nails. Plus it’s a cheap and fun way to experiment with colour.

Colourful nails always make a statement, and the colour possibilities are endless – from pretty pastels to bold brights and neon hues.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try some nail art? We love mixing up the French mani by replacing the traditional white tip with hot hot pink. The end result is a modern and edgy take on an elegant classic.

With summer looming, why not go tropical with a variety of bright summer hues that will compliment any outfit and add a pop?

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Finding time to exercise

exerciseOkay ladies, who here would love to exercise, but just can’t find the time? Quite a few of us, right?

I totally get it, sympathise with it, and struggle with it myself. We’re all busy working, cooking, cleaning, food shopping, trying to be all things to all people, etc. Phew, we really are amazing!

But chicks, we all need a little ‘me time’ every now and again – time to de-stress, to breathe, to enjoy thinking about, well, nothing. Bliss. I know the appeal of a cup of tea in front of the TV after a long, hard day as well as anyone, but if you can possibly bring yourself to put down the remote and put on your trainers, you’ll feel so much better.

Exercise releases all those happy endorphins which will help you to cope with stress, sleep better, feel more energised, and generally make you look and feel gorgeous. A cup of tea and a couple of Digestives will do exactly the opposite.

I’m not saying you should never veg out in front of the TV, but just think how much less guilty you’ll feel about it – and how much better you’ll feel about yourself – if you do it knowing you’ve also managed to squeeze in a bit of exercise.

So how to make the time?

Chick tips:
  1. Set the alarm 15 minutes earlier to do a quick workout
  2. Convince a friend to join a gym with you – great for motivation, as well as giving more opportunity to catch-up on the gossip
  3. When collecting the kids from school, leave home 10 minutes early and power walk the longer route
  4. Find ‘at home’ workouts on YouTube
  5. Make use of your stairs – try taking them two at a time and repeat three times every time you need to go upstairs to build up your stamina and tone your bottom and legs
  6. My personal favourite – engage in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which involves 10 minute blasts of exercise, which really help you to burn calories and get those endorphins flowing.

Whatever you decide to do, DO IT TODAY. You can do this, you’re amazing, and you can achieve anything.

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Struggling to stay awake? Could vitamin B12 be the answer?

VITAMIN BLOGWe here at HC-HQ were recently bemoaning how tired we are, blaming our lack of energy on that pesky menopause

However, after a bit of Googling, we were surprised to learn that our symptoms could in fact be down to a lack of vitamin B12 in our diet.

What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 helps produce the red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. If you’re not getting enough of this vitamin, you may well experience some of the following symptoms:

✓ Fatigue

✓ Irritability

✓ Depression

✓ Headaches

✓ Lack of appetite

✓ Memory problems

✓ Constipation

Tick, tick, tick – all of the above sound familiar.

Which foods contain vitamin B12?

It was when we found out what the main sources of vitamin b12 are – meat, eggs and dairy – that the penny dropped. We don’t eat a lot of these types of foods, so no wonder we’re often tired, irritable and constipated – eek!

Although many of these symptoms could be due to the menopause, we’re keen to challenge that diagnosis and see whether incorporating more vitamin B12 into our diets might help. We’re firm believers in the importance of nourishing your body with wonderful foods to stay healthy.

If you don’t fancy eating a lot more meat and diary, you could try taking a B12 supplement instead. And it’s worth noting that some of the symptoms of B12 deficiency can also relate to Foliate (B9) deficiency, so add some more of these yummy foods to your diet too: spinach, broccoli, green beans, peas, chickpeas, brown rice and kidney beans.

We chicks are now on a mission to increase our B12 intake, so will report back soon on our energy levels.

Happy B12 eating, chicks!

P.S If any of the symptoms above are severe or prolonged, we would always recommend that you talk to your GP.

 

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HIIT… high intensity interval training

TRAINERS BLOGTina here and it’s my pleasure to talk about one of my favourite subjects.. FITNESS!

I’m going to share with you my favourite way to get fit, burn body fat, and feel fantastic all in 10 minutes, are you ready?

HIIT training, (high intensity interval training) which basically means you do short bursts of intense exercise followed by a short recovery working from 4 minutes to a 30 minute session. However I have found 10 minutes to be so effective, it really works and you feel amazing afterwards, ta da!

Other benefits of HIIT Training are

Your metabolism is increased for up to 48 hours afterwards

No equipment needed

So effective at stripping stubborn body fat

It’s Fun

Suitable for all levels as you work at your pace and level

If you want to try a session you can watch on You Tube or google your local area, I’m sure you will find plenty of local classes that offer this type of training.

Heres a quick workout for you to try

Make sure you warm up first

10 Jumping Jacs

20 Press ups

10 Jumping Jacs

30 Tricep dips

10 jumping Jacs

40 Sec Plank

10 jumping jacs

50 Squats

Repeat x 2

Let us know how you get on, we love to hear from you xxx

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Operation Flawless Skin – Mission: Possible? Part 2

So, I’m now six weeks into my new skincare routine, using Aspect DR products. Here’s what I’ve found:

dr-aspect-skincareDeep cleanse – I really, really, really love the deep cleanser. It has the consistency of a gel, which makes it easy to apply to damp skin. Please don’t worry that it doesn’t foam up like a lot of cleansers – your skin will still feel like it has had a really good clean and, best of all, it leaves none of the tightness that you can get after washing your face.

Serums A, B and C – like the cleanser, these have a lightweight consistency meaning that they glide on, and feel really nice on your face. I prefer my skin to be slightly damp when using the serums. They don’t really have much of a smell, and all melt beautifully into your skin. Although the manufacturer claims that the serums alone should provide enough moisture, my skin didn’t agree. I really needed the added moisture from my usual moisturiser which worked well with the serums.

Unfortunately, the vitamin A serum made my face red, and I didn’t like the feeling of my skin after I used it. I do nevertheless love the vitamin B and C serums.

Moisturiser – this is an odd colour (grey/lilac) and the consistency is a little unusual, melting the moment you touch it. I didn’t find that it benefited my usual skincare regime, and I still needed to add my usual moisturiser because my skin felt tight.

Overall strengths – the brand is expensive because it’s formulated with the highest concentrations of pure, naturally-derived botanicals and high octane cosmeceutical correctives. It’s also free from the following nasties:

  • Propylene glycol
  • Mineral oils
  • Parabens and other harsh preservative systems
  • Articial fragrances
  • Animal-derived ingredients
  • Animal-testing.

The products do have a high-quality feel about them – the cleanser is one of the best I’ve used, and I’m a big fan of the vitamin C serum.

Weaknesses – the cost. This is a high-end brand so it doesn’t come cheap. The bottles are pretty small in the starter kits so only last a couple of months which, given the cost, is disappointing. I didn’t like all of the products on offer, buy trying the sets is a good way to see what works and what doesn’t work for you. You can only really purchase this online as the brand has limited stockists, so this isn’t great if you want skincare advice.

Buy or say bye bye? It took a while for me to see any differences but, after six weeks, I must admit that my skin looks clearer and, dare I say, smoother and fresher looking. Woohoo! I’ll definitely buy the vitamin C serum and deep cleanser again.

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