Monday, December 30, 2013

Ginger Mango Detox Smoothie

Confession time... I don't like fruit very much. I'll reluctantly eat a banana or apple when I feel like I should be healthy but it would not be my preferred choice. Luckily I love veggies, so hopefully I'm covered. This year I am hoping to get some more fruit into my diet and smoothies are a great way to do that!

After all the indulgence of the holidays I thought a nice detox smoothie would be a good way to start the morning. I'm also dying of the flu and ginger is a great bug fighter, so it seemed to make sense. I doubled the ginger in the original recipe.

I was pleasantly surprised with this smoothie, it's zingy and delicious and not too fruity at all. Definitely a great start to the morning!



Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 4-5 slices frozen mango
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 2 oz water
  • 5-6 ice cubes
Blend all ingredients in a blender and drink! <3

Adapted from here.

Now I'm going to sip my smoothie and sit down with my 2014 Create an Amazing Year workbook and get a start on 2014! 
Monday, December 16, 2013

Gifts for Foodies and Kitchen Junkies

I swear this post isn't a subtle hint for my hubby, but I thought it would be fun to go through the Argos catalog and pick out some awesome gifts that a kitchen junkie or foodie might enjoy for Christmas.

Let's get the expensive stuff out of the way first! What foodie doesn't want a good mixer? Kenwood and Kitchenaid are both known for their fabulous mixers, but Kitchenaid always had the edge on aesthetics. Not anymore! Check out this fabulous Kenwood mixer, I think it looks so slick with the red and stainless combination and if it were in my budget I would totally snap it up.

Now personally I am not a coffee drinker, but himself is and Argos have an amazing range of coffee machines available here for all types of budgets.  Himself being American and quite particular about his coffee thinks the pod machines make terrible coffee and has no idea why they're so popular, but for a country so used to instant coffee I'd say they're quite the upgrade. De'Longhi are well known for their excellent espresso machines and it's nice to see some of them are now very affordable coming in under one hundred quid. Definitely some options there for the coffee lover on your list!

If I had to give up every kitchen gadget I owned save for one, it would be my santuko or chef's knife that I kept. A set of good knives will last a lifetime and is essential for any serious home cook.  Look for a good quality steel, German, Swiss or Japanese are always a good bet and most decent sets will have a very long or even lifetime guarantee. If you like funky coloured ones I hear rave reviews about the new ceramic knives that seem to be flooding the market as well. Again, look for a set that has a decent guarantee.

A few years ago we purchased a soda stream and I have to say it's such a fun gadget. The kids love it and myself and hubby have come up with some interesting cocktail mixers over the years as well. We absolutely love the cranberry raspberry flavour soda stream sells, but other than that we tend to make our own fruit-flavoured simple syrups and use carbonated water from the soda stream. We've had it about 3 years now and have had to replace the canister once a year on average. If your kids like fizzy drinks and you're looking for a healthier and cheaper alternative, this will really pay off! The NY Times recently had a great article on these unique kitchen gadgets.

I keep hearing a lot about slow cookers or crock pots of late. While I have one, I can say I don't use it that much and when I do, I'm usually underwhelmed. I suspect that is because I am at home all day and don't really see the point of over-cooking my food. But if I were still working and came home to a sumptuous smelling house and dinner just ready I don't think I would be complaining about overcooked beef!  If you work outside of the home these can be a brilliant investment and even though I'm not the biggest fan, I would still always want to have one. Being someone who cooks a lot with dried beans, the slow cooker has often saved the day when I realised I forgot to soak the beans overnight. It's also great as an additional appliance to keep things warm on oven-heavy holiday meals. I have been known to make the mash in advance and keep it in the slow cooker to stay warm!

Those are some of my favourites this year. What about you? What could you not live without in your kitchen and what would you love to see under the tree this year?
Thursday, December 12, 2013

Electronic Toys For Kids

With Christmas just a couple of weeks off, you (like me) are probably in high-stress mode, finishing off home decorations, preparing to host guests or cook meals, and, of course, finishing off your gift list! Particularly if you have young children in the picture, the shopping process can be very trying, as you want to find gifts that will make Christmas special for your little ones and keep them entertained and delighted for some time to come. And of course, you have to do it all within your budget!

Fortunately, the toy industry is alive and well, and always thriving this time of year. And what you may notice after a bit of searching is that even for young children, electronic toys are some of the most popular ones out there. We're not talking about gaming consoles, smartphones or cameras - those are for the older kids - but rather, fun and inventive toys that make for perfect Christmas gifts for toddlers and pre-teens. Just to help you get an idea of some of these trendy toy options, here are a few cute ones we're seeing at various stores.

Furby Boom
We all remember Furby - the strange but lovable furry little "pet" toy with various speaking capabilities and personality traits. It's an incredibly fun toy for children, and it's hung around for years now. Furby Boom is the latest version of the toy from Hasbro, and comes with new personalities, new colour schemes, and even an app component that adds a new dimension to playing with the toy.  This is on both the girls list... let's just hope it comes with volume control! :)

Nintendo DS
Arguably the current standard in handheld gaming, the Nintendo DS is a bit more kid-friendly than Sony's PSP line, offering some of the same playful Nintendo games that have been classics for years. Of course, different parents feel differently about introducing a handheld gaming device, but if you're open to the idea and your children would enjoy it, the Nintendo DS is a nice option to consider.  My girls have gotten great fun out of theirs and god knows it makes the 4 hour trip to my parents a lot more bearable.

Angry Bird Helicopter
Angry Birds seem to be just about everywhere these days. Having burst onto the scene in app gaming (with several of the most popular gaming apps we've ever seen), they're now something of a cultural phenomenon. The toy helicopter in the image of the iconic red "angry bird" offered at My Smart Buy is merely one more example of the explosive popularity of this cartoonish theme, but it's also a great toy for kids. Remote control helicopters, after all, are already very popular - throw in a popular character image, and it's ideal!  I'd say the husband might enjoy this one too!

Casio Mini Keyboard
Want a semi-educational gift that's also barrels of fun? A mini electric keyboard like this one from Toys R Us, is perfect! These days it's easier than ever for a kid to learn music at home (just find lessons online - it's shockingly easy), and this will give your child an activity to learn and improve at while having a blast with a new toy.  We're a pretty musical family and love the keyboard. It's even great for the little man who gets hours of fun just banging the keys!