keeping your skin soft – a ‘beauty tip’ out of the kitchen drawer from a middle-aged fella

keeping your skin soft and fresh looking and facing the seasons is quite a feat – and with age one needs to look after it even more. mind you, it does not get rid of wrinkles but who cares? wrinkles are part of a person’s maturing process and there is nothing worse than having someone to capture ‘eternal youth’ by having a face botoxed into looking like a fresh plum, whereas your hands and neck look like a prune!

one needs to feel well in and with ones skin and i personally found this exfoliator very reviving! your skin will feel soft and supple after using it (ok, the picture is just a tease) and the best thing is that you can raid your kitchen drawer to make it!

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ingredients:

1 tsp organic honey

0.5 tsp virgin coconut oil

0.25 tsp bicarbonate of soda / baking soda (in Germany also known as ‘Kaisernatron’)

first things first, it is very important that you use bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and not washing soda, as the former can be used in cooking whereas the latter is caustic!!! be careful not to get those mixed up…

moisten your cleansed face with some warm water and, in the palm of your hand, melt the coconut oil and mix it with the honey and the bicarbonate of soda, which is done quickly using your index finger. it will form a paste.

gently rub the paste on your wet face and slighly massage it for a couple of seconds. do not rub with too much pressure. leave the paste on your face for another minute and then wash it all off with lots of lukewarm water.

your skin might look slighly blushed from the exfoliation afterwards, but will feel very soft and not tight at all. best used in the evening as then you can use some more coconut oil on your skin afterwards to moisturise it even more overnight.

obviously as one’s skin is a personal matter, each person’s skin reacts differently. my skin is usually quite delicate (hence my freckles – even though they were much more prominent when i was a kid!), but i found this exfoliator and moisturiser very fitting for my skin’s needs.

please note that even though coconut oil has great qualities for your skin, it is not recommended to be used on your face if you are suffering from rosacea as it might worsen your condition – if you have a skin condition, i would advise you to check with your nutritionist or doctor first … always better to be safe than to be sorry!

 

 

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old vegan news: avocado, the perfect spread!

when nigella lawson (yes, her again! and no, i am not obsessed!) talked about avocado spread on toast, there was an outrage as it was doomed too simple a recipe for such a delicately palated chef to present. but isn’t the most joy to be had from the simple things in life?!

yes it is!!!! this is not low-carb but so very worth it:

avocado

ingredients for one serving:

half an avocado

dash of lime or lemon juice

pinch of salt, pinch of pepper or chili flakes

2-3 fresh basil leaves

good quality artisan bread

preparation time is a couple of minutes and then you are ready to indulge. scoop the avocado out of its shell into a small bowl. add a dash of lime juice and seasoning and mash it all together coarsely with a fork.

toast a slice of a nice artisan bread (i don’t wanna brag, but IMHO nothing beats a good german bread – we are so fortunate here as we have such a great variety of breads! in the picture you see a  sourdough variety made from wholemeal wheat and rye with added sesame seeds) and while it is still warm, spread the avocado mash on top. garnish with some torn basil leaves and some additional chili flakes.

the crunch of the toasted hot bread and the creaminess of the avocado are a match made in heaven so tug in and enjoy. this is a perfect breakfast or snack on any day you want a good boost that is not low-carb (and with an artisan bread it is good carbs in any case)…

ps. should you wonder what that yellowish ‘thing’ towards the right of the picture is: it is a slice of fresh ginger. i do like to start my day by chewing a slice of fresh ginger to give my digestion and circulation a kick!

vegan thai butternut squash soup

this is such a winter-warmer, it is butternutty (if there is such a thing), coconutty, hot and spicy and slightly perfumed by coriander. plus the ginger will keep you healthy! a dish of very few ingredients but lots of flavour.

i love all-in-one-pot recipes, as they are quickly done and you can’t really mess up the recipe as it is so easy to prepare.

first of all, let’s just look at the butternut squash. the divine nigella lawson (has a chef ever brought more sensuality into the kitchen? and let’s face it, cooking in itself is one of the most sensual activities…) once called cranberries ‘plumptious beauties’ – well my plumptious beauties are pumpkins in all varieties. their colour alone is so inviting and their taste between sweet and savoury so satisfactory. just look at those (ok, i admit to using a colour-filter on the photo, but still … that orange is just food heaven):

butternut squash

that was before – here is after:

thai butternut squash soup

ingredients:

one butternut squash (approx. 1kg)

one can good quality coconut milk (400ml)

fresh ginger (approx. 1cm)

2-3 tsp red thai paste

1 tsp coconut oil

a dash of fresh lime juice

a bunch fresh coriander

sea salt, red chili flakes

start by cutting up the butternut squash – first halve it and deseed with a spoon, then cut off the hard peel and dice the orange flesh (the smaller the dices, the quicker the soup will be done – the size of your thumbnail is just about right). cut the skin of the ginger and grate the flesh, do ensure to keep each drop of the juice!

in a high pan, heat up the coconut oil on a moderate heat and fry the ginger and its juices in it for about 30 seconds while contstantly stirring. add the red thai paste and lime juice and stir until it is all combined. add the diced butternut squash and mix together well so you end up with all dices coated in the red ginger-curry-lime mix. add pinch or two of salt and a couple of pinches of chili flakes and stir fry for a minute.

add the coconut milk, stir once. the squash needs to be fully covered by the coconut milk, if there is not enough liquid, add a bit of water or coconut water. cover the pan with a lid and bring to a boil then slightly reduce the heat to keep it gently boiling. stir occasionally. depending on the size of the diced butternut squash, they should be cooked in about 20-30 minutes. Don’t worry to overcook them as they need to be soft in any case.

while it cooks, finely chop up the coriander (both leaves and stems). keep a tsp of chopped leaves aside for garnish.

once they are soft and starting to slightly fall apart, take off the cooker and mash it all together with a potato masher – you can also use a hand-held blender, but i prefer a masher as the soup retains more of a texture that way and does not become too silky smooth.

stir in the coriander and bring to a very slight simmer again before seasoning to taste with more sea salt and red chili flakes. serve it garnished with some chopped coriander.

et voila: it’s done!

(i know that this recipe is quite similar to the curried butternut squash soup from september last year, but this one tastes quite different as it uses less ingredients and a thai curry instead of an indian-style one. IMHO the thai version is cleaner in taste and much spicier!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

frozen red berry prosecco

essentially this is quite a summery drink, but sometimes when the temperatures fall well below zero (celsius!) outside, i find an icy drink quite soothing!

fozen berry prosecco

i was using frozen red berries (i used a mix of black currant, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries – best to use a prefozen mix in wintertime, during summer you can easily use fresh berries and freeze them yourself) and a pink prosecco / frizzante variety made from merlot grapes as it gives the drink slighltly more depth.

ingredients (for one cocktail):

a handfull of frozen red berries (see above)

half a shot of grand marnier (about 0.5cl)

chilled pink prosecco / frizzante / sparkling wine

quickly blend the frozen berries with the grand marnier in the food processor – this should only take a few seconds and you will end up with a sorbet-like mixture. instantly fill it in a cocktail glass and fill up with prosecco. gently stir it together – do not stir with vigor or you will end up with a flat drink and all the fizz gone! serve immediately.

sit back and enjoy as a nice aperitif or even as a boozy dessert after a dinner. it is quick, it is simple and always asks for a second round…

ps. if you want it pip free, you need to strain the sorbet through a sieve. i would recommend putting it back in the freezer again after for a couple of minutes as it will have become too runny after the straining. personally, i do enjoy the added crunchyness of the small pips from raspberries and black currants.

 

vegan overnight chia oats

what a satisfying way to start the day … no need to fuss around with breakfast preparation much in the morning as you prepare it the night before! hence all you have to do is to get up, brew your tea and take brekkie out of the fridge (plus cut up some fruit).

it is easy, yummy, versatile and you can play around with it the way you like by adding flavours!

the basic recipe is as follows:

4 tablespoons rolled oats

2 tablespoons chia seeds

2 tablespoons ground nuts (i used hazelnuts)

ca. 300ml coconut water

mix the nuts, oats and chia seeds in a sealable container. pour the coconut water on them and stir once. put a lid on the container (or use a kilner jar) and put in the fridge overnight.

in the morning, take out of the fridge and enjoy with some freshly cut fruit or just on its own. no additional sweetening needed as the coconut water is lightly sweet in taste, as are the oats. it is a nice mixture of nutty flavours and has a comforting consitstency – pudding like but chewy! if it is not creamy enough for you, just add some more liquid in the morning. also, using fine rolled oats (also known as quick oats) will give it a more creamy consistency than using the regular coarse rolled oats.

the picture on the left is the ‘pure’ version, which i ate with kiwi for an extra boost of vitamin c. the picture on the right has a teaspoon of cocoa powder added to the mix while soaking, which gives it a chocolatey tang and goes well with banana. but as ever, play around with what you like … serve with blueberries or strawberries, use almonds instead of hazlenuts, use rice flakes instead of rolled oats (to make it gluten-free), add vanilla or cinammon or use a different liquid (any nut milk will do – i would not recommend the use of cows milk though, as it tends to give the mixture a slightly slimy consistency! soy milk is not such a great idea either as it has too strong an aftertaste).

chia seeds are such a wonder. they are very high in fibre and eating this ‘puddingporridge’ for breakfast will get you going for at least 8 hours without feeling hungry…

ps. spoonfuls are heaped spoonfuls 🙂

time for a low carb breakfast feast

time flies, time flies … and 2016 is here. the festive season with all its riches calls for a bit of low carb time! and some resolutions with more regular posts again (i shall hold myself liable to post once a week!)

low carb breakfast (non-vegan … but with a vegetarian option)

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obviously the fried eggs are hiding something beneath, so let’s look at the eggs and the ‘interior’ separately:

it is a quickly prepared dish of hot smoked salmon, avocado, fried eggs and tomatoes and is a very filling breakfast that will keep you satisfied until well after lunch!

ingredients:

1/2  avocado

60g hot smoked salmon

3 cherry tomatoes

2 organic eggs

a couple of rocket leaves

(avocado) oil, sea salt, chili flakes, lemon juice

preparation is quick and easy. chop up the avocado (as you only need half, ensure to leave the stone in the remaining half, as then you can store it in the fridge without it turning brown) and tear the salmon into pieces. mix together on a plate. drizzle some fresh lemon juice on top and sprinkle some torn rocket leaves on top.

take a cold (!!!!) frying pan, preferably non-stick, and drizzle half a teaspoon of oil in (avocado oil is perfect but coconut oil works wonders too), then rub it across the pan’s interior surface with your fingertips. add 3 sliced cherry tomatoes and crack two eggs into the pan. sprinkle with some sea salt and chili flakes.

put the frying pan on the hob and only after you put it on the hob turn it on a moderate heat. this way the eggs will cook slowly and it will not splash – you will also end up with fried eggs that are slightly crispy on the bottom but still have a lovely runny yolk! the eggs are done once the white has completely set – ensure not to move the pan around in the first three minutes (or so) as you don’t want to break up the eggs by moving the pan too early. actually, if it is a non-stick pan, you will not need to touch it at all until the eggs are done.

once they are done, slide the eggs on the avocado and salmon and enjoy with a nice cup of green tea! yum!

for a vegetarian option, just leave out the salmon and use more avocado. instead of the rocket, a sprinkle of dill works wonders too … as does a sprinkle of fresh tarragon on the eggs while they cook.