Top tips for Getting Rid of A Sore Throat (Plus a Sneaky Hot Toddy Recipe for Good Measure)

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So it’s coming into Spring and I thought I’d managed to avoid the generally inevitable winter flu but yesterday, for the first time in 2014, I conceded.  With a head thick as cotton wool and a throat that felt like I was swallowing razor blades I thought I’d share some top tips on how to get rid of a sore throat according to the guys over at Ultra Chloraseptic

Cure The Pain, Not the Virus

Unfotrnately, when it comes to sore throats, a lot of the time they happen to be viral which are uncurable by anti bitotics.  In this case it’s better to try and treat the pain with something like an anti inflammatory tablet or throat spray whilst riding the virus out.

Stay Away from Ill People Even When You’re Ill

When you’re feeling at your worst your immune system will be low.  With this in mind you want to stay away from fellow sickies to help eliminate the risk of you catching a secondary infection

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away (seriously, it does)

When Winter hits our bodies are working over drive to keep us warm and healthy so make sure you give it all the help you can and the easiest way you can do this is by boosting your vitamin intake by ensuring you get your 5 a day every day

Ditch The Vino and Reach for The H20

I know it’s boring and I sound like a broken record but it’s unfortunately true; booze in excess is bad for you and make you pretty dehydrated.  According to pharmacist, Anna McClaughlin, dehydration can be one of the main contributors to a sore throat.  Therefore, maybe ditch that final glass of vino and replace it with a glass of the good stuff (water that is)!    Try spicing up your water with some soothing Manuka honey as a bit of a treat

Why Are We All Shouting! (An anchor man reference for anyone who didn’t get that :-) )

Seriously though, pipe down.  Shouting or using your voice when it’s not necessary only puts further strain on it so keep shtum when you don’t need to be saying anything

Finally, an oldy but a goody and it just happens to be my favourite, Mums Hot Toddy Recipe

This hot toddy recipe dates back a long time as my Grandma and Granddad used to make it and my Mum then passed it down to me.  I experienced my first hot toddy a couple of years ago when my boyfriend and I were living with my Mum in between finding our own flat and we both got a really nasty cold.  Whilst snuffling away on the sofa my Mum went off and made us both a hot toddy, served in a glass, not a mug and even to this day I swear that night sleep was the best I have ever had.  Although I would never suggest alcohol cures any form of ailment, I would definitely say that this hot toddy helps ease the symptoms :-)

Macallan 25Ingredients

Juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
A generous measure of good Scottish Whisky (My Mum uses Macallan 25, SUPER scrum)
A tablespoon of Scottish heather honey (or any other good quality honey you have to hand)
A mug of boiling water
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 Cinnamon stick for stirring
A few slices of fresh lemons for garnishing

Add all the ingredients to the boiling water and stir together with the cinnamon stick.  Leave for a minute or two withe the cinamon stick in the toddy so that it infuses through and then enjoy.

Ginnys final thought – The Winter blues are bad enough without the added burden of a nasty cold but hopefully some of the above tips will help you combat some of the yuckier side effects meaining you can glide blissfully through the harsher months and arrive in the Summer as fresh as a daisy.

There are hundred of variations on the hot toddy recipe out there.  If you’ve got a version then I’d love to hear yours too!


Seal Salt & Cracked Black Pepper Crispy Ciabatta & Scrummy Dipping Oil

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It’s fair to say that I am definitely more of a savoury tooth than a sweet one and my absolute vice comes in the form of our favourite carby friend; bread.

I love nothing more than warm, fresh, crunchy bread partnered with either French style with a lovely soft brie or Meditarannean style with a scrummy dipping oil.

In this recipe I am going to describe how to jazz up a boring old ciabatta and team it with some alternative dipping oils.  Trust me on this one, once you’ve tried this you’ll never serve crappy crisps and dip when friends come over ever again.

Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper Ciabatta

Ingredients

1 plain ciabatta, cut into inch thick slices
Course sea salt, the best quality you can find or are willing to part dollar for
Freshly cracked black pepper
Really good quality olive oil, I particularly love Viannos extra virgin olive oil by Candiasoil

Homemade Chilli Oil1.)  Heat a griddle pan until it’s smoking hot
2.) Sprinkle the ciabatta liberally with the pepper, salt and olive oil
3.) Griddle the ciabatta on each side until the lovely, charred bar marks appear on each side.

Yes that really is it and it’s that simple, yet really effective.

How to Make Yummy Dipping Oils

I love making my own flavoured oils because, like a fine wine, they get better the longer you leave them. You can pick up Kilner style pouring bottles from TK Maxx for around £2 a bottle and when filled with homemade dipping oils you not only end up with something scrummy to eat, you also get something fab to look at! Again, the quality of the base oil really needs to be top draw to make it worth it but trust me, it really is worth it.

Once you’ve invested in some Kilner style bottles and you’ve chosen a decent olive oil as your base, the fun bit then starts as the olive-oil world really is your oyster! For me, you can’t beat a classic homemade chilli oil as not only does it make great dipping oil but it also brings pizza and pasta dishes to life. I make mine by simply dropping a handful or dried, red chillies into my Kilner bottles of oil. I specifically choose the red ones as not only do they make the oil taste great, they also give a red tinge which makes it look great too.

Other flavours I like to play around with are garlic and rosemary as well as basil and even lemon. It’s all down to personal choice after all but I can’t recommend highly enough having a go at making some of your own oils. You can buy mini |Kilner bottles too which not only look great in your own kitchen but when you make up your own oil in them they make really cute, personalised presents for people too.

In summary, find that inner Italiano in you and branch out into the word of exotic oils – è bello :-)


Yummy Chocolate Soya Breakfast Smoothie Recipe

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Milk and I have a funny relationship.  I love a little in my tea and even on cereal but when it comes to drinking it straight up then my gag reflex is instantly initialised and all digestive-hell breaks loose.  A while back a friend recommended I give soya milk ago which again, due to the fact that the anti-christ word aka “milk” was in the title, I wan’t overly keen.  However, I conquered my fear and gave it a go and I must admit, I really am glad I have because Soy milk is not one of those rubbish, health food fads, it really is genuinely rather nice.Vive chocolate soy

If you’re still not convinced then I urge you to at least take baby steps and try chocolate Soya milk first.  I’ve been drinking chocolate soya milk for a couple of years now and have tried lots of different types however recently I stumbled across Vive chocolate soy and nothing sums it up better than these two words…Truly. Scrummy.  The real icing on the cake however is the added health benefits vive Soy comes with.  Here are just a few to wet your Soy whistle:

Cholesterol free
Low in calories: from only 88Kcal in a 200ml glass
High quality soya protein
Rich in anti-oxidants and isoflavones
Contains Omegas 3 and 6 and Vitamins A & D
Source of fibre
Can be drunk cold or hot and used in tea, coffee, over cereals and when making desserts
Tastes great!

The difference between Vive and the other ones I’ve tried is that Vive is super thick and creamy and tastes really chocolatey without having that horrid, fake chocolate taste.  Vive chocolate soya is great on it’s own however I also love to use it to pimp up my healthy breakfast smoothies as it thickens them up and makes them quite a bit tastier.  Here’s the recipe for my smoothie of the month, I highly recommend you give it a go:

Ingredients (Makes one smoothie)

Handful raspberries
Half a banana
200ml Vive chocolate Soya Milk
1 teaspoon almond butter
150ml skimmed milk

Put all the above in a blender and whizz until nice and smooth!

I’m currently on the lookout for inspiration for nice healthy recipes so if you’ve got any you would like to share please do get in touch.

Ciao for now,

Ginny


Turkey Meatballs & Home-made Rich Tomato Sauce

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Below is the third and final part of the Turkey three ways series and we’re concluding with a turkey meatballs and rich tomato sauce recipe.  

Once again, for those of you who haven’t seen the basic turkey mince recipe please see below for reference:

Foter / CC BY-SA

1kg Turkey mince
2 tablespoons dried thyme
100g fresh bread crumbs
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 egg
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

This really is the most simple recipe to put together.  Put all of the ingredients together in one big mixing bowl and get your hands in and mix!  Once all the ingredients are combined, separate the mixture into three, equal sized portions ready for making into the different meals.

To convert this from the Turkey mince into yummy meatballs follow these simple steps:

Ingredients for the rich tomato sauce:

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
150ml of white wine OR dry sherry
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 squidge of tomato puree
1 teaspoon of either dried oregano OR dried thyme (dependant on your taste buds, I like either!)
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
200ml good quality chicken OR veg stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for frying onions/garlic
150g dried pasta (I like to use spaghetti or tagliattele with meatballs!)

This recipe is nearly as simple as the turkey mince!

Firstly, split your turkey mince into either 6 or 8 equal size portions and roll into golf ball shapes

1.) Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat (you dont want to over heat and burn the onions, you want to sweat them so they go almost clear as opposed to brown and caramalised)
2.) Fry the onions slowly for 15 mins or until they go soft
3.) Add in the garlic and fry for another minute
4.) Turn up the heat and add in the wine/sherry and reduce down until you get a nice, thick consistency
5.) Add in all of the other ingredients and once you’ve added the tinned tomatoes, half fill the empty tin with tap water and add this in too
6.) They key at this point is to cook down the sauce for as long as you can. Ideally I like to cook to it for at least a couple of hours however, if you haven’t got a couple of hours then you can still enjoy the sauce, it just wont be as rich
7.) Once you’re 20 mins from the end of cooking heat a little oil in a frying pan and brown off the meatballs
8.) Once they are golden brown all over take them out of the frying pan and add to the tomato sauce and put a lid on the sauce. Cook for another 15 mins or so until the meatballs are cooked through
9.) Cook your pasta as the meatballs are cooking and enjoy!

To make this turkey recipe extra indulgent add a large handful of fresh parmesan to the sauce and add some to the final dish

You can also add any additional veg to the tomato sauce that you want to, the recipe above is just the most basic version!

That’s the third and final addition to the “turkey 3 ways” series.  I hope you’ve enjoyed these recipes and that some of you have had a chance to try some of them!

I’ll be adding photos to these recipes over the coming days as well.

Make sure you keep checking in for more healthy recipes over the coming weeks!

Ciao for now,

Ginny x


Low Fat Turkey Recipe Round Two: Turkey Burger – Hold the Bun

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Turkey Burger Recipe – Part Two of the Turkey-Three Ways Series

katerha / Foter.com / CC BY

For those of you who didnt catch part one in which I outlined the main turkey mince recipe, here it is again for reference:

Turkey Mince Recipe – Ingredients

1kg Turkey mince
2 tablespoons dried thyme
100g fresh bread crumbs
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 egg
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

This really is the most simple recipe to put together.  Put all of the ingredients together in one big mixing bowl and get your hands in and mix!  Once all the ingredients are combined, separate the mixture into three, equal sized portions ready for making into the different meals.

Now here’s how to turn this Turkey mince recipe into a super healthy yet super tasty burger recipe with ease.

Ingredients
2 Iceberg lettuce leaves
2 slices of beef tomato
60g low fat feta cheese
Half fresh chilli

1.) Take a third of the Turkey mince mix and split into two and form into a burger patty shape
2.) Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot (or frying pan if you haven’t got a griddle but HOLD THE OIL)
3.) Place the iceberg leaves onto a plate so it curves up, forming a bowl like shape. The lettuce is a replacement for our traditional burger bun. By replacing the bun with lettuce we save around 160 calories and don’t end up with that horrid bloated feeling after we’ve eaten
4.) Dry fry the burgers for roughly 4 minutes on either side (or until cooked through and are piping hot in the middle)
5.) Once the burger is cooked place it in the lettuce leave and place a slice of the beef tomato on top
6.) Finely slice the chilli and place it in a bowl
7.) Crumble the feta into the chilli and mix gently. You just want to combine them, not create a paste
8.) Spoon on top of the burger and voila, you’ve got a super tasty version of what can be a calo-rific dinner!

According to My Fitness Pal this recipe has circa 250 calories and is packed with protein so all in all, not a bad shout at all!

If you want to be super indulgent you can be by replacing the feta with your favourite full fat cheese and the lettuce with a real bun but if you’re really trying to watch your weight then this is a great way to fill up and feel like you’ve had a satisfying feast

Feel free to leave any feedback or comments below, other wise enjoy :-)

Ciao for now,

Ginny x


Easy Low Fat Turkey Mince Recipes Designed to Beat the Festive Buldge

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Turkey Mince – The Lean, Mean, Weightloss Inducing Machine

So we’re fully into the New Year now and so far I’ve shed 4 of my unwanted festive pounds and I’m happy and proud to say I am officially on it!!  As part of my New Year diet plan I have taken inspiration from the Change4Life initiative.  They’ve got a great section of their plan called Smart Swap which basically gives you a long list of foods that if you swapped one for the other you’d save a load of calories!  So as my first Smart Swap I’ve ditched the beef mince in favour of Turkey mince as not only is it lower in calories, it’s also lower in cost so all in all, it’s a win-win situation!  Here is the first in my series of healthy recipe ideas to help get you back on the New Year bandwagon.

Gino Carteciano / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Turkey Mince 3 – Ways

Most of us in the modern working world are seriously time poor during the week and I, for one, am one of those and it’s because of this that I am a big fan of batch cooking. Not only does it save time it also saves money and this turkey – 3 ways recipe also goes a step further as it does not only save you time, it saves you money and calories as well.  These recipes use the same Turkey mince mixture and applies it to three super simple but super tasty scenarios; all of which I will be giving the recipes out for over the next few days. See below for the recipes I will be covering:

Turkey Mince Kebabs with home-made Tzatziki
Turkey Burgers – hold the bun
Turkey Meatballs with home-made rich tomato sauce

(Makes six portions in total)

I’ll start off by giving the turkey mince recipe and then cover the “3 ways” over the next few days, starting with the Turkey Mince Kebabs with home-made Tzatziki recipe which can be found below:

Turkey Mince Recipe – Ingredients

1kg Turkey mince
2 tablespoons dried thyme
100g fresh bread crumbs
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 egg
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

This really is the most simple recipe to put together.  Put all of the ingredients together in one big mixing bowl and get your hands in and mix!  Once all the ingredients are combined, separate the mixture into three, equal sized portions ready for making into the different meals.

Turkey mince kebabs with home-made Tzatziki – Ingredients

Wholemeal pita bread
Spinach, watercress and rocket mixed salad (or whichever happens to be your favourite salad type)

For the Tzatziki:
One small tub of 0% fat, traditional Greek yoghurt
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic finely diced
2 tablespoons mint sauce
50g cucumber, finely diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1.) Warm a griddle pan and place your pita breads on the griddle to warm through. (Don’t worry if you don’t have a griddle pan, you can put them in the microwave for 45 seconds to soften them up and warm them through)
2.) Whilst the pita’s are warming take one of your portions of turkey mince and split it into 4 equal portions. Take each of the portions and roll them into sausage shapes
3.) Take the pitas off the griddle and place the turkey kebabs on the griddle and cook through. I find it usually takes 8-10 mins to cook them through fully. Make sure you turn them at regular intervals
4.) Whilst the kebabs are cooking take all of the Tzatziki ingredients and combine them in a bowl and give them a really good stir
5.) Take a pita and split it open and spoon in a generous helping of the Tzatziki and add in some of the salad leaves
6.) Once the Turkey kebabs are cooked (make sure they’re piping hot right the way through), place them in the pita along with the salad and Tzatziki and enjoy!

To make this recipe extra healthy and extra yummy combine with a cup of Moroccan mint tea

To make this recipe a bit more indulgent add in some crushed pistachios to Turkey mince before shaping into kebabs

Calories

According to MyFitnessPal if you have one pita, with 2 turkey kebabs (circa 100g turkey) and 25g Tzatziki this recipe has around 310 cals per portion which is pretty damn good for a really tasty dinner.

Please do try the recipe and leave any feedback below!

*Make sure you tune in for the next in the Turkey 3 ways series which I will be publishing over the course of the next few days*
Photo credit: Gino Carteciano / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND


New Year Cheer vs January Blues – What Side Are You on?

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practicalowl / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Since the start of 2014 people in general, whether it be friends and colleagues or people on the various social media outlets, most folk seem to be in one of two teams;  Team January Blues or Team New Year Cheer so which one are you?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently with all the chat of new years resolutions, blue Monday, January blues etc etc and  thinking about what it is that gets people down at the start of the New Year and devising a plan to help turn what can generally be perceived at the most depressing time of the year into the Best.Time.Ever.

On my quest to decipher what causes the all-time-January-lows, and basing this on my own personal experience, I have broken the “blues-creators” down into three categories:  health & fitness, work and money.  Towards the end of December these were the three make or break categories for my 2014 and here’s what I did to turn my 2014 frown upside down.

So You’ve Chubbed Up Over Christmas…Three Words…Get.Over.It.

One of the things that really gets on my wick is people complaining about the fact that they’ve gained pounds over the Christmas period.  News flash; the more turkey and chocolate you pile through your cake hole, the more pounds you will gain.  This is not breaking news, nor is it a new phenomenon so when it comes to January and your scales are quaking under your sheer mass (as mine were) don’t cry about it as you did that to yourself!  Instead, think how AWESOME the festive over indulgence was but realise now is the time to sort it.  Shape up and hit the treadmill as, in the words of one of my absolute heroes, Jennifer Saunders, the best thing about getting thin is getting fat again :-)  Seriously though, instead of crying into your non-fat skinny latte and whaling “why God why have you allowed me to gain 10 pounds of pure turkey meat” get your trainers out and start using the gym equipment of the health club that you’re paying a fortune for yet have not walked through the doors of in over 3 months (yes, I am speaking from experience here!)trainers

New Year New Career…The Truth Behind the Cliché

For most of us, we spend 9 hours out of our 24 per day at work, if not more.  We spend more hours per week with our colleagues than we do with our families and spouses so if you’re not happy at where you work then a massive portion of your life will be affected.  As I am sure we are all aware, if we’re stressed at work this spills over into the small but precious amount of family time we have. Whether it be via doing over time so we’re not actually at home or via us brain-dumping our work related stresses onto our partners, it all contributes negatively in terms of how we feel on a day-to-day basis so, in a nutshell…sort it out!!  It can be a very terrifying and daunting feeling when you realise that the time has come for you to move on from your current place of work, especially if you’ve been there for a while, however, once that decision has been made it is imperative that we take the plunge and crack on for fear of being miserable forever.  If you’re reading this thinking, “yep that sounds like me” then please, for God’s sake do something about it.  Make it your New Years Resolution to be happy at work as I’m telling you, it is the most incredible feeling when you are and, just like when you’re unhappy, if you’re happy at work it then pours over into your home life and overall makes yours and your partners existence that little bit sweeter!

Show Me The Money

Finally, the “M” word is a big hitter in terms of people’s January blues.  Along with eating too much, we’ve spent too much on said over indulgence and the general furore that surrounds Christmas and New Years so everyone is feeling the financial pinch!  This year however, as opposed to getting down in the dumps about our finances, the boy and I sat down and made a plan (which included a spreadsheet might I add) of what we need to do to survive financially whilst enjoying life and saving a few pennies along the way.  There is something quite cathartic about dissecting your finances and organising them as well as it giving you focus for the months to come.  Obviously, it’s all very well and good creating the plans but it’s the sticking to them which is the tough part, however, by creating them you’re already half way there!!

Ginnys final thought:  Yes the New Year can be perceived as being depressing but this year I’m making a one-man-stand against the January Blues and going all out to champion the New Year Cheer.  If I can do it then you can to so come on people, join me….Yes to The New Year Cheer – Down With January Blues…That is all.

Ciao for now,

Ginny x

Photo credit: practicalowl / Foter.com / CC BY-NC


My “Reasonable” Christmas Wish List…

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Christmas Wish List...

New Gym Equipment News Flash – I Heart My Heart Rate Monitor

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One thing I’ve always been a bit dubious about is how accurate the gym machines are when they tell you how many calories you are burning during your work out so I decided to take matters into my own hands and have invested in a brill heart rate monitor.

You know those days when you look down at the time on the tread mill as it literally feels like you’re dying inside, only to be met with “time spent running: 32 seconds, Calories burnt 4″?  Well I’ve been having a few of those of lately due to my ever increasing “off the band wagon” stage.  To get me back in the mood for pounding the pavements as opposed to filling my face I have invested in a heart rate monitor so I can see exactly how many calories I am burning so I can keep reminding myself that every step I take on the treadmill is a step closer to my fitness goal and is a step closer to burning away my ridiculous levels of festive over indulgence.

heart

The Hunt Was On

I’ve been on the hunt for a while now for a heart rate monitor and the two things that the one I found had to have were the ability to tell me calories burned as well as heart rate and secondly, to look nice because so many heart rate monitors come in black and are really big and chunky.  After a good few hours of research I came across the Sportline 660 Cardio Women’s Heart Rate Monitor available at Argos.  It comes in at under £50 and not only looks great, it’s super light weight and is really easy to use.

I think this is one of the most reasonable heart rate monitors I came across that also lets you set up your personal height/weight/gender details into the watch itself meaning that your calories burnt readings should be pretty accurate.  The watch works alongside a heart rate belt type thing that goes around your ribs and sits on your heart to give the readings.

All in all I’ve been really happy with my new found piece of gym gear :-)  The one thing I will say is it can take a while for the heart rate belt to sync to the watch if it’s cold however if you wet the back of the belt it can help speed up the syncing process.

What I love most about this is the look of it.  I love that’s it’s white as it makes it much more feminine than other ones on the market an at £50 I think it’s pretty damn good value for money.

Ginnys final thought:  If you’re a girl looking for a nice piece of gym gadgetry to help rekindle your love affair with the treadmill and want to make sure you’re fighting the flab accurately then this is heart rate monitor is defo a great investment!

Ciao of now,

Ginny :-)