Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Asparagus noodles with homemade pesto

Summer is finally happening in the UK and I am loving it! I love eating with the seasons and that's pretty hard in the UK because not so much grows in the colder months. During this time of year however seasonal eating really comes into it's own and there's so much fresh food around. Asparagus, in particular has been in season and that really is one of my faves as it's usually so expensive but for a brief time each year it is a bit cheaper and more readily available and sometimes it's even possible to forage for your own if you're lucky!

Anyway I am a long time lover of zoodles as you may well know, remember this and this? I really do think that they're such a great alternative to pasta (even if you're not counting carbs or calories etc) not to mention actually being much quicker to make.

Despite how much I love them I have played around in my mind wondering if there's other vegetables that could be spiralized or at least used as a pasta alternative and this led me on to having a go with asparagus. now obviously asparagus is much to narrow to spiralize but this is a great alternative if you don't have a spiralizer or if you have an abundance of asparagus! It's super quick to make and because of the minimal cooking it's still quicker all in all than actual pasta.

I've served mine here with some homemade pesto, which I made so quickly using my Blendtec

Enough talking, I'll get on with how to make it, to make enough for two hungry people you will need:
  • A bunch of asparagus- pick the thickest pieces you can
  • A big handful of herbs- I used half basil and half mint
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Small handful of pine nuts (preferably toasted)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Small handful of parmesan (optional, you can leave this out to make it vegan)
  • A few cherry tomatoes and some edible flowers to garnish (if desired)

To make it:
  • Start with the asparagus, take a vegetable peeler and carefully peel long strips off it lengthways, you will get to a point where you can't peel any more, that's fine just put those thicker pieces to the side 
  • Once you've peeled it all, finely chop the left over bits of asparagus
  • Next make the pesto; blend 2 tbsp of oil with the herbs, leftover asparagus, nuts and cheese  (if you're using it), if it's a bit dense or thicken just add a bit more oil or some lemon juice to loosen it. The Blendtec will do this super quickly!
  • Then take a frying pan and add a tablespoon of olive oil to it and tip the pesto in, heat a gentle heat for a few minutes until it's warm
  • Once warmed through, add the asparagus and remove from the heat, stir well until it's all coated and serve- I've topped mine with some extra pinenuts and some cherry tomatoes and veggie parmesan but these are optional. 
  • If you prefer you don't have to heat it at all, it's just as nice cold as a sort of pasta salad, in which case you'd just make the pesto the mix it in well with the asparagus and serve- it's easier to mix it this way by tipping it all onto your kitchen surface and using your hands as using a spoon will take ages and doesn't seem to mix it that well


Sunday, 25 June 2017

Cooling low carb cucumber soup

So Well summer has well and truly hit the UK and we've had a few weeks of lovely weather (one and off), As always, when the weather gets hot I get in the mood for colder food like salads. When we're away I always love gazpacho but never tend to have it in the UK, today when it was so so hot I got a bit of a craving for it but without having enough tomatoes I had to think of an alternative which is how this came about. 

I do love a cold soup though I know they aren't everyone's cup of tea, I knew these flavours would work well as I love cucumber drinks (particularly cocktails...) and luckily I was right!

I've made it in my Blendtec which is literally the quickest way ever, I just threw everything in and turned it on and it was ready to go within a minute. I kind of winged it with the ingredients, but it turned out perfectly, so refreshing yet also creamy, I got two smalls bowls out of it with enough left over to take into work tomorrow. 
To make two bowls you will need:
  • One small onion/ a couple of shallots- chopped 
  • One cucumber- roughly chopped 
  • A small avocado- roughly chopped 
  • The juice of a lime
  • A small handful of dill, basil would also work though I bet (it does in cocktails anyway)
  • A cup of Greek yoghurt- coconut yoghurt would work if you're dairy free
  • A small handful of peashoots, and some edible flowers to garnish- optional

Then to make it:
  • Throw all the ingredients in a high speed blender, (I use the Blendtec) I added a cup of ice also to make it really chilled and blend for a minute or until completely smooth
  • I garnished with some eidble flowers and some chopped cucumber and pea shoots but this is entirely optional (though edible flowers do make everything seem better in my opinion)
  • Serve and enjoy!

Hope you all love it, I can see myself making this again and again this summer, also going to play about with a few different gazpacho recipes so watch out for those! Hope you're all enjoying the weather!


Monday, 5 June 2017

Espresso Proteini- low carb Espresso Martini with Blendtec

Hello and firstly apologies for the long long radio silence on here, it's been a mad mad time but I have lots of content to share with you so will be positing much more frequently from now on, I promise! thank you also, to everyone who e-mailed/ messaged me checking I was ok!

Since I last wrote on here there has been the most amazing weather in the UK and I have been absolutely loving it! We've been having barbeques and eating al fresco as much as humanly possible- even when it's quite late as we've just got back from work and actually quite cold and we have to eat huddled under blankets!

Now you may or may not know that I am literally obsessed with frozen cocktails, and anything frozen for that matter. I'm the sort of person who loves drinks to be either really hot or really cold, and nothing in between, I'm so pedantic about it in fact that I even hold cold drinks from the very very bottom of the glass as I'm worried that my hand will warm the glass up.

Onto this drink then, I've got a thing for cocktails and they're one of the things I miss the most so I'm always trying to think of low carb ways that I can enjoy them, remember my low carb moscow mules and low carb French 75 cocktails? This one, anyway has got to be one of my very favourites so far, not just because it tastes so so good, but also because it's so quick and easy to make, and best of all, is frozen! 

Now frozen cockatils are pretty hard to make at home unless you have the right kit, I've used the Blendtec 725 which literally smashes through the ice in mere seconds and produces a smooth icy drink you'll want to enjoy all summer long! Even better, it's motor is so strong that if you blend things for longer, soup ingredients for example, you can even heat food in it, I'll tell you more about that another time though! I also used my Nespresso Machine as they're more reasonable than you think, both for the machine and for the pods as you can get compatible pods from nearly all supermarkets now and the coffee is so so good.

To make this beauty you will need (makes two)
  • Two shots of coffee- I used two shots from my Nespresso, you can sweeten these if that's you you'd normally enjoy your coffee
  • A scoop of chocolate protein powder- 30g
  • A big cup of ice
  • Two shots of vodka- I won't judge you if you want to slip a sly extra one in though...
Then to make it:
  • Add everything to your blender, pulse several times until the ice is completely broken down and it's well blended. 
  • Enjoy!
You could add some peanut butter if you wanted to make it peanut butter cup flavoured, or you could of course mix up the flavours of protein powder you use. 

I am looking forward to trying lots of other cocktail recipes soon, so hopefully you'll be seeing lots more of them from me!
Hope you're all enjoying the weather! 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Charlotte Tilbury magic cream-worth the hype?

Hello and so sorry for the long gap since my last post. If you follow me on Instagram you may know that I have been battling with a bad back which has put me out of action for much of the last month. As a result I haven't been feel overly motivated to post, or do very much in fact. I had thought I would achieve lots if I was ever off work but in reality I did very little: sat and watched a lot of YouTube, read lots of blogs and felt jealous that other bloggers are doing so well while I feel stuck in the same place that I was last year, and was generally clingy and waiting each day for Mr Vatkinary to come home from work so I had someone to make me cups of coffee. Oh I also did a LOT of online shopping. 

Said shopping took lots of forms; a lot of homeware, not many clothes, some food and lots and lots of beauty products. The upside of this for you is that I've spent the last month trying lots of new bits and am now starting to feel ready to tell you all about them!

First up Charlotte Tilbury magic Cream. I had heard a lot of hype about this cream, and was so so excited to find that Charlotte Tilbury was cruelty free. A girl on the counter in Selfridges actually told me it was named because Charlotte used it on lots of supermodels and they used to ask her for her 'magic cream' as it made such a difference. That was basically me sold, I had been thinking about it ever since and then finally took the plunge and spent £70 on it which was the most I've ever spent on a face cream before (though the By Terry CC serum wasn't far behind and I'll talk more about that another time...)

Now, if I spend £70 on a moisturizer I expect to be impressed big time. I say this not being exactly sure how I expect to be impressed. I'm not desperately wrinkly so I'm not really expecting a huge change from that perspective, my main dislike about my skin is open pores on my nose, but I would never expect a moisturizer to fix those. My skin always feel dry and tight after I wash it but in the morning once I have put face cream on (usually Neal's Yard thus far FYI), it usually feels nice for the rest of the day. So that goes back to the question of what a expensive face cream can actually do to really impress me and I am little bit sad to say this cream didn't fully answer that question...

Most of Charlotte Tilbury is average priced for a premium range, the magic foundation comes in at just under £30, so at £70 this is more than I would usually spend, so I was expecting, well, magic I suppose! Not that this cream isn't lovely, it really is. It smells amazing, is thick but feels lovely and light and sinks in quite quickly, though does take several minutes. After application, my skin didn't feel tacky, and my make up went on really nicely, (not that I've been wearing much make up recently). It also has SPF 15, and perhaps mostly importantly to me (though it's a bit embarrassing to admit), has the most glamorous, luxurious packaging, with a box that makes you feel like you're opening a present when you open it!

After all that you might wonder what wasn't magic about it and that's hard to answer. I suppose all I would say is that while it had so much going for it it just didn't wow me any more than any other product does. It really is a lovely product but perhaps not one I would repurchase as I couldn't tell that much difference from my normal Neal's Yard one which is less than £30. I also didn't get any comments about my skin looking any better, though to be fair I've looked rather rough recently with being ill, and have never used a cream that was transformative to the extent that people notice and comment!

So that's my review, hope it helps if you are thinking of buying it, I am excited to try some more of her products as have heard so many good things about them, especially the pillow talk lip cheat, so watch out for that one! 

I would love to hear your experiences if you have tried it, or if you have any other Charlotte Tilbury recommendations as I'm new to her brand. 


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Huge cruelty free, luxury beauty International giveaway!

Hello! I've been promising a giveaway for a while, I've spent a bit of time thinking about what exactly to give away. My beauty posts have been so popular recently and I have a few PR samples going spare so I ordered a few more bits, all products I love, and have put together this bundle of goodies for you!


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Three high end beauty brands you probably didn't know were cruelty free

As I spoke about before here, I've been trying to make a big effort to use only cruelty free make up and skincare and I won't lie, it is hard. It's been hard finding brands that are completely cruelty free in terms of their practice but are also not being owned by a bigger brand who isn't, (hello Body Shop). It is also hard finding brands that don't look like they'd only be sold in Holland and Barrett or similar- no offence to Holland and Barrett, I love that shop, but it isn't where I want to go to spoil myself with new beauty treats. Also I had a few cult favourite products that have been almost impossible to find cruelty free alternatives for. That being said though, there have been a few pleasant surprises along the way, mainly in the form of brands who I never thought were cruelty free but was then pleasantly surprised to find were, so surprised, I couldn't resist sharing them with you.

Without further ado then, let's get to it...
1. Iconic London
I am reasonably new to this brand and have so far only tried their evo brushes but I am literally obsessed. They are probably the softest brushes I have ever felt and are so so dense that they blend your foundation in better than any other brush I've used (and I've tried a lot). They even manage to pack product into my usually impossible to fill huge open pores (attractive), and I've never found any brush that could do that before!The only down side is the amount of time it takes to clean them- they are so dense that at one point I literally could not remember my life before I was cleaning the foundation one.

They also do a reasonably limited face make up range with contour products and an illuminator which people have been raving about everywhere, so definitely one to watch. Even better for me they're sold in Harvey Nichols and having just moved to Liverpool there's one right here!

2. Hourglass
I'm only really familiar with one product from this brand- the ambient lighting palette- it's a cult favourite with three shades which, when worn on top of the luminating CC serum above gives the illusion of 8 hours sleep. I am still trying to master using a highlighter in a way that looks natural and glowy rather than greasy and this is the first that's made me (almost) master that.
I also recently got hold of the new lip stylo and I already love it, super moisturising and long lasting, though I still have to reapply several times per day- maybe because I eat and drink more than is average? Trying to summon up the courage to post pics with it on, but not sure I'm quite there yet...

I was looking at their products in Harvey Nichols last week and saw their ambient lighting powder and the lady on the counter said it makes you look like you're wearing a snapchat filter which I sort of dismissed, however later that evening I was playing around on snapchat and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since... If there is even a fraction of truth in that statement then I am pretty much going to be obsessed. 

3. By Terry
Again another brand I am reasonably new to and another brand I am obsessed with. I got the luminating CC serum for Christmas and it is such a gamechanger. It is basically a serum supercharged with bronzer that makes your skin literally glow. As it's a skincare product it's not as heavy as bronzer and also makes your skin feel amazing! I have quite a dark shade- sunny flash which is perfect when you've fake tanned your body and don't have foundation to make your face match your body!

I also got a Baume de rose tinted lip balm, I can't say this is head and shoulders about other lip balms but it's certainly up there and the packaging does give it an edge over pretty much every other lip balm I can think of. It does also go a long way as it really lasts meaning you apply it far less frequently than with other cheaper brands. I love using it especially right before bed, brushing my Lush lip scrub onto my lips with a toothbrush (I have a separate one for this!), then applying a thick layer of the balm and I wake up with my lips feeling lovely and staying feeling that way all day.

That's it for now, I am so enjoying discovering new cruelty free beauty brands and am considering roping my make up artist sister into a mammoth make up playing/ blogging session so she can show me how to really use the products to their potential!

I also have a VERY exciting giveaway coming later this week so keep your eyes peeled for that one...

*Contains PR samples*

Saturday, 25 February 2017

5 minute very low carb pizza bites

Last weekend when I was playing about with these parmesan crisps, which btw you simply must try if you haven't already, I had the idea for these little babies. They're pretty much an extension of the crisps, though they're made a different way- incidentally you could also make the crisps this way it turns out.

These will make the perfect canapé, but are equally lovely for a cosy weekend treat or for when you don't have the energy/ inclination to make a big meal. I've topped mine with tomato and basil but you could go mad and put anything on that you'd normally put on a pizza, I'm thinking of goats cheese for next time, cheese on cheese has to be the ultimate treat!

Anyway, enough of that let's get onto how you do them. You will need (makes 8 mini pizza bites):
  • 50g finely grated parmesan
  • Sundried tomato puree- you can use normal tomato puree but sundried is lower in carbs, and more intense tasting
  • 4 cherry tomatoes
  • a few basil leaves

You can make them right before you want them if you're having them hot, but they equally work well cold:
  • Heat a large flat frying pan*
  • Put spoonfuls of the cheese onto the pan and leave for a few minutes until starting to come together and harden
  • Use a spatula flip over and pop a teaspoon of the tomato puree, followed by your cherry tomato and leave for a further 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove, season, top with basil and enjoy!
*If you use a large enough frying pan you can do about 5 at a time.

I can see we'll be making these a lot they feel like such a treat because you get the strong cheesey taste and really do feel like pizza, but actually as well as being very low in carbs, they're low in calories as well because you're hardly using any cheese each time, a little really does go a long way.

© The Vegetarian Atkins Diary

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