Archive | April, 2011

Rose Hip Oil – The hippest new thing?

26 Apr

With my fair and sensitive skin, I really require super gentle products. Otherwise, I tend to get eczema and irritations which are the last things I want on my face!

About four years ago, I discovered rose hip oil (RHO) after trialling a variety of skin moisturisers. It was love at first contact and I haven’t been a day without it.

Here’s what I have learnt about rose hip oil that makes it so wonderful:

* great for dry, sensitive and, believe it or not, oily skin (apparently, the RHO does not cause your face to be more oily)
* great for treating scars, stretch marks and wrinkles
* full of fatty acids
* regenerates and repairs damaged tissue

How I use RHO:
* I cleanse my face morning and night. Then, leaving my skin just a little damp, I add 3-4 drops of RHO to my palm and apply gently to my face, neck and the backs of my hands.

* In the middle of winter, sometimes RHO isn’t quite enough moisture for me. So, I do need to add a very gentle moisturiser over the top. The thing about RHO is that it seems to provide a barrier between the other moisturiser and my skin. If I just wear the RHO in winter, my skin’s too dry. If I just wear the moisturiser, it’s still too dry. So in the winter, this combo works for me.

* My husby also uses it after shaving as he has very heavy beard growth but extremely sensitive skin. He loves it!

Why do I personally use RHO?
* I love organic products and try to avoid putting too many chemicals on my face (where possible)
* calms my skin, making it less likely to become irritated
* excellent hydration for my skin
* at 27, I’m trying to look after my skin to avoid too many wrinkles when I get older!
* functions as my moisturiser and under-eye treatment
* gives me a ‘dewy’ look (some may not like this, but I think it makes me look a bit fresher!)

Be careful:
* due to its beautiful golden colour, it can stain light coloured pillow cases
* only buy certified organic pure RHO – you don’t want added nasties on your face!
* don’t spill it! It’s not cheap and it’s really easy to knock over!

Where to buy RHO:
* pharmacies
* beauty & health shops, such as Boots
* some department stores
* online
(I’ve used both the A’kin and Trilogy brands and like them equally)

Have you ever tried rose hip oil? What have your experiences been with this liquid gold? 🙂

Hot Cross Buns for Dummies (Even I can do it!)

21 Apr

Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns

One a penny

Two a penny

Hot

Cross

Buns

We’re going to our friends’ house for the Easter long weekend and as a thank you gift, I thought I’d make Hot Cross Buns.

One small problem…. I’ve never made Hot Cross Buns before. As soon as I see the ingredient ‘yeast’ and the instruction ‘knead’, I freak out.

I did, however, find this relatively simple recipe which seemed to produce some yummy (never mind slightly ‘rustic’ looking) buns. You don’t need to have advanced cooking skills, just a bit of time to allow the dough to rise twice.

Check out this video which teaches you how to knead dough: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9KX4KFBj5w

Give it a go! If I can do it, you certainly can!

HOT CROSS BUN RECIPE
(Recipe from http://www.taste.com.au)

Makes
12 – 16 (depending on how big you like them!)

INGREDIENTS
4 cups plain flour
2 x 7g sachets dried yeast
1/4 cup caster sugar
4 teaspoons mixed spice (or to taste)
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups currants
40g butter
300ml milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

FLOUR PASTE
1/2 cup plain flour
4 to 5 tablespoons water

GLAZE
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons caster sugar

METHOD
1) Combine flour, yeast, sugar, mixed spice, salt and currants in a large bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add milk. Heat for 1 minute, or until lukewarm. Add warm milk mixture and eggs to currant mixture.

2) Use a flat-bladed knife to mix until dough almost comes together. Use clean hands to finish mixing to form a soft dough.

3) Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth. Place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.

4) Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Flatten out dough down to its original size. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide into 12 even portions. Shape each portion into a ball. Place balls onto lined tray, about 1cm apart. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes, or until buns double in size. Preheat oven to 190°C.

5) Make flour paste: Mix flour and water together in a small bowl until smooth, adding a little more water if paste is too thick. Spoon into a small snap-lock bag. Snip off 1 corner of bag. Pipe flour paste over tops of buns to form crosses. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until buns are cooked through. (**I made mine too runny by adding a little too much water. Make sure it is thick).

6) Make glaze: Place water and sugar into a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Brush warm glaze over warm hot cross buns. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes
These buns are best eaten on the day they are made. Otherwise, freeze for up to 7 days. To defrost in microwave, place 1 hot cross bun onto a sheet of paper towel. Heat, uncovered, for 45 to 50 seconds on MEDIUM-LOW (DEFROST) (30%) power. Stand for 1 minute.

Spag Bol Recipe (Spaghetti Bolognese)

20 Apr

I think I was Italian in my past life. I have an obsession with anything Italian and that includes the food!

Last night, I thought I would step into my Italian mama persona and cook my husband and me some Spag Bol (to those of you who aren’t Aussie and don’t feel the need to abbreviate EVERYTHING, it is short for Spaghetti Bolognese).

I’ll confess, in the past, after work, late at night, couldn’t be bothered, (and rightly so) I would turn to my beloved jar of Dolmio to do the job for me….. but it’s just not the same.

This recipe is relatively simple to prepare. The only thing that takes time is the simmering, which is why I prefer to whip up a batch on the weekend and refrigerate/freeze for mid-week consumption (and it always seems to taste better the next day!) Alternatively, you can use the bolognese to make a delicious lasagne. Just add a béchamel sauce and some lasagne sheets and you’re good to go! I also like to use as many organic products in my meals as I can, so I try to buy organic variations of the mince and vegetables.

Now, I’m sure this recipe is probably far removed from the traditional Italian dish, but it’s what really makes my husband’s and my taste buds go wild! You can experiment with different amounts and flavours to suit your own tastes.

Bon apetito!

SPAG BOL RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:

1.4kg lean beef mince

1 cup red wine

2 onions, chopped

3 medium carrots, grated

5 cloves garlic

1 kg tomatoes, chopped

1 large tin (800g) chopped tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

Salt & pepper, balsamic vinegar, bay leaves & dried oregano to taste

METHOD:

1. Add a little olive oil to a large saucepan and cook mince over med-high heat until browned.

2. Stir in wine and cook for a couple of minutes.

3. Add onion, carrots and garlic and stir for 4-5 minutes.

4. Stir in the fresh tomatoes and tinned tomatoes, along with the tomato paste. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low.

5. Add salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, bay leaves and dried oregano to taste.

6. Simmer on low heat for at least an hour. Two hours would be even better if you have time!

7. Serve with pasta, shaved parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.

Get as many vegies into you as you can!!!!

Update: The day after my apple cider vinegar blitz! (Take that, cold!!!)

20 Apr

Sooooo, a quick update on my sinus-y infection.

I went to bed last night after having four doses of my ‘Magic Potion’ (my ACV drink) yesterday, with the last one taken just before I hopped under the covers. My husband said that I sounded really congested, but I reminded him that I had been taking the Magic Potion and that it might ‘knock it’ before the weekend (which is in three days).

Well……

I awoke this morning and sniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiifffffffffffffffff! I can smell! The congestion has cleared by about 95% and I feel fabulous! I was also getting a really sore throat last night, and that has vanished also.

Yesterday, I had a full blown infection (excuse the pun) in my schnoz. Today, I am free to take olfactory advantage of my nose to literally smell the roses.

Magic Potion? You be the judge!

Apple Cider Vinegar – My Magic Potion

19 Apr

A few year ago, I had been suffering from continuous colds and went surfing on the web for a cure. I am a huge fan of anything natural and apple cider vinegar kept popping up in the results.

According to the research I did, it is much better to ingest the most natural form of apple cider vinegar (organic, unpasturised and unfiltered ) with the ‘mother’. I know. A weird term but it actually refers simply to the web-like particles in the fluid that are living enzymes and provide essential nutrients and other goodies. So if you see ‘floaties’ in your apple cider vinegar – that’s a GOOD thing!!

The goodies found in ACV actually help to combat the common cold, aid digestion and stimulate circulation, amongst many other benefits. I also find that my complexion improves and I have more of a ‘glow’ (again, probably due to the boosted circulation).

Ideally, ACV should be taken daily to boost/maintain the immune system. I had kind of forgotten all about it as we had left Australia for the UK two months ago, but have recently been trying to shake a cold. It seems to have turned into what seems to be a bit of a sinus infection. So, off I trotted today to the lovely little health food store near my house and picked me up a bottle o’ goodness!

I like to make a drink which my husband and I call our little ‘Magic Potion’, using 1-2 tablespoons ACV, 1/2 – 1 tablespoon honey, a dash of boiling water to stir through the honey (before adding the cold water) and ACV and fill the rest up with cold water. If I’m sick, I drink up to four of these per day. Ideally, I like to drink one per day if I’m not. Just make sure you rinse your mouth out with fresh water after drinking, as the acid apparently eat away at tooth enamel if you leave it sitting on your teeth.

I’d love to know if anyone else has had the same benefits from ACV. After my first dose an hour ago, I can already feel my congestion starting to ease. Oh, how I love my Magic Potion!