Sunday, 30 March 2014

Blueberry Banana Ice Cream Pie - Raw Food Recipe

As it's Lent and I'm being good avoiding all the sweetly things that are bad for me, how could I ever manage to eat something so delicious as a Blueberry Banana Ice Cream Pie - without cheating!

I often have a baking day and catch up aka B*tch & Bake with a good friend so as I was being good for Lent she suggested this recipe. I took one look at it and thought 'Nope, sorry - no naughties during Lent for me' but on a closer look I was truly amazed that the recipe only contained raw healthy ingredients.

The recipe came from this wonderful blog With Raw Intentions.

We tweaked the recipe a little to make a bigger pie!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: Approximately 1 hour
Servings: one 10″ pie (6 servings)

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups fresh chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
  • 2 2/3 cups chopped and pitted Medjool dates
  • 4 chopped sun-dried figs
  • 1 1/2 TSP cinnamon
  • 2 TSP grated vanilla pod
  • 4 TBSP walnuts
  • 4 small or 3 chopped large frozen bananas
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Mint leaves to garnish


Directions


Crust:

1. Put aside 3 dates to be used in the filling later. Combine remainder of dates, walnuts, and cinnamon and figs in a food processor and process until the mixture turns to a completely blended, thick dough-like consistency. This may take a few minutes of processing depending on your machine. You may need to add a splash of water to get it moving.

2. Place one layer of wax paper on the bottom of a 10″ pie pan.  Gently press the crust down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie pan. If the dough is too sticky, wet your finger tips with water and continue pressing into the pan. Allow to set in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

Blueberry banana ice cream pie crust
Pie crust


Banana Filling:

1. Using a blender, blend the frozen bananas and the vanilla pod on high until you have the consistency of soft serve ice cream. A dash of lemon will help to stop the banana from browning. Be careful not to over blend, as melting will occur.

2. Remove the crust from the freezer and spread a layer of the frozen banana mixture on top of the crust. Place back in the freezer.

Banana filling
Banana filling


Blueberry & Strawberry Filling:

1. Rinse out the blender and blend 1 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 cup strawberries, blackberries, and 3 large dates, and water on high until the mixture is completely blended and smooth (Using a high-powered blender here is key for getting that super smooth, liquid consistency). Stir in the remaining 1 cup of fresh blueberries and 1 cup of fresh strawberries by hand and pour this filling on top of the banana ice cream layer.

2. Let pie set in the freezer for about a half hour. Garnish with some fresh mint leaves.

Blueberry filling
Blueberry and strawberry filling



The pie is best if eaten right away when the 'ice cream' is smooth and the fresh blueberries are still soft. It can be stored in the freezer but allow a half hour for it to defrost at room temperature before eating.

Slice of pie - ready to eat
Ready to eat!


This really is a tasty pie full of goodness. I might try a piece with ice-cream after Lent.

What's your favourite healthy recipe?


Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day from www.lifeonbalance.co.uk
Happy Mothers Day from www.lifeonbalance.co.uk

Sunday, 23 March 2014

In My Beautiful Neighbourhood

I've mentioned before that I live with my family in the North East of England. I've lived in a few houses but always within a ten mile radius of each other. I've never lived in a totally different area before so I have nothing to compare it to but if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

I love where I live. I think many people have preconceived ideas about the area - especially since the likes of Geordie Shore. We have gone from being a supposed backwater area all cloth caps, coal mines and whippets to a party town full of air heads and fake tan.

The truth is, it has so much to offer everyone. The nightlife is good in the centre of Newcastle and in other nightspots, and yes, there are some Geordie Shore types with bare legs and no coats in sub zero temperatures. I'm not really into that scene but I still like to get out and about to enjoy the place where I live.

Fun at the beach
Fun at the Beach


The Beach


I love to take the kids to the coast. We have miles of beautiful coastline with lovely golden sands. If we had the weather, nobody would need to go abroad for a beach holiday. There's so much to do with a bucket and spade, a bit of imagination and an endless supply of sand, water, pebbles and shells.



Cullercoats Pier
Cullercoats Pier











We go to the beach in all seasons. Obviously more often in the warmer weather, but still, there's great fun to be had watching the sea crashing on the pier in windy weather






Tynemouth Priory
Tynemouth Priory


I love that this is my view after I've dropped the girls off at school - Tynemouth Priory and the fantastic coastline. It's so calming and looks good whatever the weather. The council invest a lot in landscaping the public areas. At the moment, North Tyneside is awash with fantastic spring bulbs - daffs, crocus etc. It looks very striking. 








Ridley Park, Blyth
Ridley Park in Blyth

Play Areas


The council has also invested quite a lot in play areas over the last five years or so. We have several quite close to where we live and even sometimes jump in the car to go a bit further afield for some which are a bit more extensive and a far cry from the slide/swing/see saw combinations from yesteryear. The kids get plenty of exercise and fresh air and all for free!








Bridges over the Tyne
City Life

I work in Newcastle which is a wonderful city full of shops (the big names you would come to expect and also some great independent shops and eateries). It has great architecture and mixes old with contemporary with ease. I work on the quayside and the views are fabulous. The bridges (shown here during the Olympics) are iconic. We also have the Baltic arts centre and Sage music venue which is shaped like a sound wave.

We have a good public transport system here with the Metro train going to a wide range of places in the region. It's not perfect but it's good for getting around.



Crook Hall and Gardens
Crook Hall & Gardens




Countryside

If you want a bit of peace and quiet, we have some lovely tranquil countryside within easy reach. Northumberland in particular is noteable. It has lots to choose from with wild forests etc and more formal spaces like Alnwick Gardens.

We went to Crook Hall in Durham last year. It was a lovely day out with beautiful gardens. The girls loved all of the nooks and crannies with various statues and surprises to be found (if you go, look out for the fairies!)









I do think that it's easy to take where you live for granted. It can be the source of much fun and can be very cheap if you use your imagination. Use local newspapers, community centre notice boards etc to see what's on in your region. There are several web sites set up with what's on guides in different areas often with free to attend events going on. It's great fun to discover a hidden gem that you can visit time and time again because it's close by!

What is in your local area that you love?

By Bee

Sunday, 16 March 2014

How to dye your hair with Lush Henna Hair Dye

Lush Henna hair dye is something I've been using for years. It's certainly not the easy option and won't be for everyone but it is very affordable at £8.25, all natural and feels pretty luscious on your hair!

Everyone has their own way of applying the henna and you'll probably have to use it a few times to find your rhythm with it.

What colours are available?

Lush do four different types: Caca Brun (Brown), Caca Marron (Burgundy), Caca Noir (Black) and Caca Rouge (Red). I have brown hair and like to make the colour richer and cover my greys. I have tried Caca Brun and Caca Noir. I found the Caca Brun didn't make too much of an impact and tended to have reddish tones but the Caca Noir is my favourite and I find it gives a dark brown result rather than black.

How do I use Lush Henna hair dye?

I can't claim to be an expert but this is the method that works best for me.
  1. Break off as many bricks as you need. The blocks of henna are made up of 6 bricks. I find 2-3 is plenty for my shoulder length hair.
  2. Grate it into a glass bowl. You can melt the dye without grating it first but I find it gives a better consistency and is much quicker to mix if you grate the bricks first.
  3. With your grated mixture ready slowly add water that's just off the boil and mix with a old wooden spoon (one you don't mind getting dyed!). Mix in water until the texture is like single cream.
    Lush Henna Hair Dye Mixed
    Lush Henna Hair Dye Mixed
    
  4. Get your rubber gloves on (Lush will provide these when you buy Hooray!). Drape an old towel around your shoulders.
  5. Henna is best applied hot so I place the bowl on the floor with newspaper underneath to catch any splashes of dye. Stick your head into the bowl and work that dye into your hair using your hands.
    Lush Henna Caca Noir on hair
    Lush Henna on hair
  6. Wrap your hair in a shower cap or plastic bag. It is advised to leave it open to the air for darker tones and to wrap up for redder tones, but using Caca Noir I've never had an issue with red tones appearing when I wrap up. It's just much easier to wrap up and not worry about the dye coming off and dying your carpet etc. I wrap a dark towel on top to catch any stray drips that might escape. You can use Vaseline on your hairline etc to stop dye transfer but I find it all washes off well anyway so I don't see the need for this.
    Lush Henna Hair dye wrapped in plastic bag
    Lush Henna hair dye wrapped in a plastic bag
    1. Wait. The recommended time to leave the dye on for is between 1-3 hours, but you can leave it on as long as you like and it won't damage your hair. The longer you leave it, the richer the result. Sometimes I sleep in it overnight.
    2. Rinse it well. It takes a while to rinse out so let plenty of water wash over it and give a good scrub. Then you're done!

    The darker hennas (those that contain indigo) will continue to develop for 24 hours after you've washed it out. So you will see an even richer result the following day.

    Your hair will feel lovely and nourished as the Lush Henna contains cocoa butter to condition your locks. My hair always feels lovely and 'swishy' and shiny afterwards with a touch more volume too.

    It's completely natural so it's perfect to use during pregnancy.

    Here is the result the following morning after a three hour dying time.

    Lush Henna Caca Noir before and after
    Lush Henna Caca Noir before and after


    Are you a henna user? Is it something you'd be interested in trying? Or does it sound too messy?

    By Lee

    Friday, 14 March 2014

    Wednesday, 12 March 2014

    Quick thought: How many of these have you seen....?

    ...minus the phone?

    Vtech walker without phone
    Lately it seems these Vtech walkers are everywhere I turn - on eBay, in charity shops, at a friend's house, in the background of a Facebook picture...and I always have a little chuckle to myself as they never seem to have the phone! In fact I had to double check they actually do come with a phone and I hadn't imagined it.

    Have you been lucky enough to spot one with a phone?

    By Lee

    Sunday, 9 March 2014

    This is a local shop for local people!

    Do you shop locally or are you a supermarket sweeper?

    I have to admit, I'm mainly a supermarket shopper and also buy a lot online. However, my recent experience has made me think again.

    I live in Whitley Bay which is a coastal town near Newcastle upon Tyne. It has a town centre with lots of shops - some small chains, some independent local traders and I live about 10 minutes walk away from the high street. As I work (part time I grant you) and have a young family, I tend to grab as much as I can in one place - i.e. the supermarket. If I can't get it from a supermarket, then my paypal account gets a hammering online. It's easier isn't it? You can get everything you need can't you? It's cheaper too right?

    Well, picture this. The girls school had their annual World Book Day recently. My eldest decided to go as Zoey from her current read 'Dork Diaries' (i.e. just go in normal clothes), and my youngest wanted to go in her bear costume which we have had for quite some time. Easy, I thought. Then, two days before the event, she announced that the bear costume was too small and would be too hot and scratchy to sit in all day.

    Aha! I'll pop into Asda on my way home from work tomorrow. They had loads of costumes yesterday. We went online and she chose an Alice in Wonderland costume.

    The problem was, the whole world and it's dog had bought costumes within that time and Asda hardly had anything left and nothing at all in her size.

    I picked the kids up from school and delivered the bad news. I told her not to worry and that we'd go to the big Asda not so far away. Except they had nothing suitable either. Tesco, nothing. Our local wholesale superstore, nothing. After driving around for 15 miles with a stinking headache and an increasingly disappointed child, we decided to call it a day and go home.

    I tried to order the costume on the Asda web site with collection from our local store but missed the 'next day delivery' by five minutes. We'd resigned ourself to patching up one of the costumes they already have (I'm not crafty at all but it was looking to be our only option left!)when I suddenly had a brain wave.

    www.bananasfancydress.co.uk
    I recalled seeing a fancy dress shop, Bananas on the local high street. I'd never been in before and in my mind, it was more for adult costumes, would probably be more expensive, wouldn't have the stock. How wrong could I be?

    I looked on the website and found the perfect costume. They had the right size in stock - Hooray! And it was cheaper than in the supermarkets - Double Hooray! I called them the next day and the put it to one side for me. When I went to collect, the friendly owners gave me a discount as there was also a sale on so I got it even cheaper again - Treble Hooray!!!




    The shop was an Aladdin's cave of goodies with just about everything you could think of and at a good price. I can't believe I drove around getting all stressed when I could have just gone to the shop on my doorstep. I think you'll agree it is a lovely outfit too.


    It has made me realise that my local town has a lot to offer, if I just took the time to take a look. I will definitely be spending some more time there soon. There are a few places to try for Mothers Day gifts. Not only will I undoubtedly find some nice items but I'll also be doing my bit to help local businesses and keep the town vibrant.

    Do you have good local shops near you?

    By Bee



    Sunday, 2 March 2014

    Cheeky Wipes - reusable baby wipes

    Before I had my first child I had never heard of such a thing as 'reusable wipes'. Reusable nappies yes! but never reusable wipes. I had a few reservations - won't they be too thin to wash? won't they stain? won't they smell?

    I researched a few different brands and decided to opt for Cheeky Wipes. Reviews were good, price was reasonable (+ they often have offers on) and I could see many second hand kits on eBay - so I figured they must last pretty well to have a resale value too.

    I was given some money as a baby gift and decided to spend it on on The Cheeky Baby Wipes All-In-One Kit (RRP £39.99)

    Cheeky wipes kit
    Cheeky Wipes Kit
    The kit contains:
    • 25 wipes
    • 1 fresh wipes container
    • 1 mucky container
    • 1 fresh wipes bag
    • 1 mucky wipes bag
    • 1 bottle of fresh wipes essential oil blend
    • 1 bottle of mucky wipes essential oil blend

    One of my concerns was staining, but you can purchase wipes in different colours. I opted for the blue to match the kit and they have worked great. I still can't see any staining on my set after nearly a year of use and the colour has kept well too.

    Here's a pic of my wipes one year on:

    Cheeky wipes one year on


    So why use reusable wipes?

    Suitable for newborns: It's advised not to use disposable wipes on a baby until they are 6 months old. I wish I'd had my Cheeky Wipes from the beginning, it would have saved me all those cotton rolls!

    Environmentally friendly: Think of how much landfill you will save by cutting out/down on disposable wipes.

    Handy: No need to worry if you have enough wipes - you will always have some in the house.

    Money saving: Cheeky Wipes estimate a saving of up to £500 vs disposable wipes in the first two years.


    How do they work?

    Using them is actually really easy. You basically have one box for clean wipes which you make up ready with an essential oil solution - that's your wipes ready to use....and one box for used wipes which you again make up ready with an essential oil solution ready to soak those used wipes.

    Simply use a wipe as you would normally and then pop it in the used box to soak. It's as easy as that!

    This video explains in a bit more detail:

    How Cheeky Wipes work


    My experience

    My order arrived quickly but I was gutted when I realised some of the items were missing meaning I couldn't get going straight away. I emailed Cheeky Wipes to query it and they quickly replied saying the missing items were now on the way and they had also sent some extra wipes by way of apology. Can't complain with that!

    First thing I noticed when using the wipes is my house smelt delicious! I remember walking into the house with my hubby and both of us wondering what the lovely smell was and then realising it was the essential oil from our Cheeky Wipes.

    Where they really work well is on the number 2s. Because they are made from thin toweling material, you get a bit more 'stickability' instead of 'smudgability' and usually one wipe does the trick. I also feel like baby is getting a better clean as it's essentially giving them a little wash.

    To make up the fresh wipes there is a guideline fill level on the box to help you with the right amount of water. You don't need to stick specifically to this - I just fill it roughly and if the wipes are too wet I just squeeze away the excess.

    The mucky wipes box comes with a mesh bag you can fit on the inside so you can easily transfer the used wipes to the washing machine. I found this really fiddly to fit and impossible to keep in place so in the end I didn't bother with it and when it comes to washing I just tip the water away and with my rubber gloves give the wipes a squeeze before popping in the washing machine.

    One of the great things is once they have been through the wash, you can literally pop them straight into your fresh box again ready to use. No need to dry them out every time. They dry in no time anyway. It's not recommended you do this every time to stop mold forming so sometimes I just pop a few in the box to keep me going until the rest are dry.

    You do need to wash them regularly as when they are left in the box for more than about 3-4 days they may start to smell a bit foisty.

    I do think the boxes could have a better design. The edges are quite hard and as they are a child's product I think some softer edges would help make them a little safer.

    Once I'd used the wipes for a while they started to become a little hard, but I remedied this with a touch of fabric softener. Ecover is recommended for cloth nappies so I tend to use this. Helps to keep them nice and soft.

    I've never been organised enough to take the wipes out and about me but I have used the bags to hold soiled clothes in my change bag instead.

    This has become our best baby purchase and I'd recommend it for any baby.

    If you want to find out more, head over to Cheeky Wipes.

    What do you think of reusable wipes? Is it a wonderful invention or too mucky to think about?

    By Lee