Thursday, 21 July 2016

Healthy Recipe: Homemade Nutty Granola

I love granola, it's one of my favourite breakfast toppings. I like to sprinkle it on top of yoghurt, banana splits or smoothie bowls for some added crunch. I have always bought large bags of granola from the supermarket to last me a few months, usually just simple oats and honey or nutty varieties. But after reading the ingredients list on the back of some of the packets, I realised just how much added sugar and nasties can be lurking in seemingly 'healthy' brands. Don't get me wrong, some brands are better than others, but it's the ones with the hidden sugars, salt and unnecessary added ingredients that you need to steer clear of - just because it seems 'healthy' or is marketed as such, doesn't mean that's always the case. It's definitely worth checking the label.

With all of that in mind I decided to start making my own granola - it's actually super duper easy to make, and you know exactly what your putting in to your body. You can also customise it to suit your tastes - Hate raisins? Leave them out. Love hazelnuts? Add more in! After a few trial and error attempts, I have finally perfected a nutty granola recipe that is quick to make, crunchy, sweet and delicious too. Oh, and it only requires four ingredients - win, win!
100g of rolled oats
2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
(Lucy bee is my gal)
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
(I love the Clarks maple carob syrup)
30g of chopped nuts 
(I love hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts and cashews)
You can also add in anything else you fancy - such as seeds, raisins, dried fruit, cinnamon, honey or dark chocolate chips.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (electric fan assisted) and line a tray with baking paper.
Chop the nuts, not too finely as you want some nice chunks in there too.
Melt the coconut oil, I do this in the microwave in 30 second bursts - it usually takes about a minute or so to melt completely.
Add the oats and chopped nuts into a large bowl, then pour the coconut oil and maple syrup into the bowl. Mix well until all of the oats are coated in the maple syrup, coconut goodness.
Pour the mixture onto your lined tray, and spread it out into a thin layer using a spatula. 
Bake in the oven for fifteen minutes until golden brown.
I like to check mine half way through, to make sure it isn't burning.

And that's it! Granola done for the week. My recipe makes between 4 - 5 servings, depending on how much you like to use. Pop your granola once cooled, into a airtight jar and it should keep for up to a week. 

I hope you enjoyed this 'Homemade Granola Recipe' post, Are you a granola fan? What's your favourite flavour?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Health: Finding Your Healthy Balance

As you probably already know if you're a regular reader of my blog, or happen to follow me on instagram - I love to eat a healthy, balanced diet full of delicious and nutritious foods, to fuel and nourish my body inside and out. Don't get me wrong I love to indulge in whatever I fancy, usually all the chocolate/cookies/cake, every now and then, as I am big believer in eating everything in moderation. I have been following the 80/20 rule since losing five stone in 2014. (Catch up on my weight loss journey here) the concept of which is simple - you eat healthy, nutritious foods 80% of the time and indulge in whatever you fancy for the other 20%. It's not a diet, and I use the term 'rule' loosely as I personally don't believe in restricting myself, or classing foods as 'good' and 'bad' - it's a way of living! Life is meant to be full of fun and freedom, not restriction and guilt.
I try to eat a healthy, rainbow of foods on the days that I am working, and I save my indulgent 20% for a lunch date on my day off, ice cream by the seaside or a big bag of pick n mix while watching a film. But I don't plan a 'cheat day', if I fancy a bar of chocolate and a cup of tea on a Tuesday night I'll go right ahead, but I won't have another one on Wednesday night, or maybe I want to have a takeaway pizza and ice cream on a Friday night, then on Saturday I'll have something a bit lighter and more nutritious. It's all about finding a healthy balance that works for you!

Along with eating healthily, I am also an active person. (Believe me, I never used to be! #coachpotato) I actually enjoy working out, maybe not always in the middle of a bikini HIIT workout but on the whole I do enjoy it. It makes me feel strong, confident and full of energy. I work out at home, I don't have access to a gym as the nearest is about 20 miles away, but even if that wasn't the case I actually prefer to exercise in the comfort of my little flat. It's free, it's easy and I can do it any time, any day and for as long as I want to.
I don't really have a set fitness routine (for example, leg day, arm day etc) but I do plan out what workouts I want to do on particular days. For example I like to do yoga on Wednesdays and a dance cardio workout on Mondays, as I have a little more time before work. I prefer to exercise in the morning, but it's not always possible with my work schedule. If I'm starting work at 10.00am, I will do a morning workout, but if I'm starting at 9.00am, I will workout in the afternoon.

I aim to work out about five days per week. I usually have one rest day each week, maybe two if I've been overly active, as I do love to go out for long hikes with my boyfriend, weather permitting. A few weeks ago on my planned 'rest day' we ended up going on a five mile walk by the river, it was beautiful! I do find it hard sometimes to sit still and do nothing, I feel restless and like I should be moving my body in some way. But it is so important to let your muscles have a rest and recover.

The main message I wanted to share with this post is that you know yourself better than anyone, do what works for you, and what makes you happy. Try to eat well, indulge in the things you love, move a little every day and just be happy. Every body is beautiful. There's no point in living your life feeling miserable because you've put on a few pounds after having a fun weekend of ice cream and pancakes with your loved ones, or beating yourself up because you skipped a planned workout to spend some quality time doing something else you enjoy. Balance in definitely the key in my eyes, it's just a question of finding yours. 

I hope you enjoyed this 'Healthy Balance' post, Have you found your healthy balance? Do you also follow the 80/20 'rule'?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Lifestyle: Feeling Fancy With Stone Bridge Hair*

When the lovely Claire from Stone Bridge Hair* asked me if I would like to try out some of their hair accessories, I of course jumped at the chance! I've been following Stone Bridge Hair on Twitter for a few years now, and they have the prettiest hair accessories - from clasps to hairbands, clips and everything in between. Each piece is hand finished, forged and stitched either right here in the UK or across the pond in Canada and the States, by designers who's work appears in Hollywood films and major Television series. How amazing is that! The level of care and passion that goes into these creations, is clear to see in each beautiful piece.

After a quick chat via email, a few questions about my hair type, shape and thickness and a couple of shameless selfies, my accessories were then carefully chosen to suit my hair and then shipped straight to my door. Upon opening the parcel I first noticed the level of attention to detail, from the beautiful silk drawstring bag containing carefully packaged items, to the pretty red ribbon tying the parcel together. The whole experience felt like such a treat. I think it'd make such a wonderful present for a loved one to brighten their day, or even a little gift from you to you.
I absolutely love all of the pieces chosen for me. The bright silk hairband adds a lovely pop of colour, and I think it looks great against my brunette curls. The perfect piece for summertime.
The butterfly clip is just beautiful, it adds a feminine touch to any outfit. I have been wearing the baroque claw in my hair most days at work, it looks lovely pinned back in a half up half down style, which gets my hair out of my face while also looking pretty too.
Hair is something I don't often spend much time or money on, (opposed to jewellery or make up) or try to 'dress up', but with these beautiful accessories I am definitely going to be making more of a statement with my hair style. I would highly recommend Stone Bridge Hair, their service is impeccable, the accessories are unique and stunning, and the ladies who own the company are so lovely! Here is the link to their website if you would like to treat yourself (and your locks) to a pretty clip or hairband. They also have a great section on their site where you can 'tell them about your hair' to help you find the perfect accessories to suit your style!

I hope you enjoyed this 'Stone Bridge Hair' post, What do you think of these lovely accessories? Will you be treating your hair to a new piece?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Laurenx

*Stone Bridge Hair very kindly sent me the hair accessories shown above, to try and test for the purpose of a review. As always all opinions and thoughts are my own. For more information please see my Contact/PR tab.