How to Maintain Your Summer Glow

I got back from my hot summer getaway last week. I had such an amazing trip, and am definitely already wishing for another holiday- but now I've got to work on maintaining my summer glow.

To begin with, while I do love the sun and being outside, I take care of my skin when I'm out as best I can with lots of sun-screen, a hat, and sunglasses.

So here are some of my tips and tricks to smooth summery skin even after the summer is over!

I always always always get pretty dry skin on my legs if I don't moisturize, or even if my moisturizer isn't strong enough.

So- first if your skin is in a good need of pampering, I love a bath with some bath salts, and a little lavender essential oils to relax. For super dry skin, I make this easy sugar scrub- see here- but it's basically just brown sugar mixed with a liquid shower gel. I like using Dr. Bronner's lavender soap.  

In my current quest to preserve my summer glow, I've been using Aviela 100% shea butter on body. I was using coconut oil before, but it just wasn't cutting it and I needed something more moisturizing.

So- like me, you may have used shea butter before as an ingredient in another lotion. This is my first time using 100% shea butter, and I can tell you it's very buttery. I mean really it's like rubbing a stick of crumbly butter on yourself. Don't be put off- it really works! It's not a great daytime moisturizer as its kind of heavy, but overnight my skin just drinks it up! If your skin needs a little extra TLC, this is pretty good.

Right- face time. I'm very specific about this. I have been loyal to my favorite Kimberly Sayer facial moisturizer with SPF 30 for about 2 years. I don't really experiment with other face moisturizers as I have found something I like, that doesn't feel greasy or heavy, and I love the added sun protection. I apply this every morning without fail.

At night after cleansing, I've been loving a little Moringa oil lately. I like using this because it's rich in antioxidants and makes my face feel bright, glowy, and soft when I wake up in the morning.

I do also like my sleep though, and on nights when I haven't got enough beauty sleep no amount of Moringa oil (or probably any product for that matter) can really conceal that.

Lastly, I take care of my lips. I hate dry lips. In the day I've been trying Hurraw. I am so obsessed with the Hurraw sun balm with SPF 15 (Sun protection is SUPER important to me). I like to use SPF lip balm on a daily basis even in winter- check out more here.

But added bonus of this lip balm is the scent- tangerine chamomile. You may not be able to imagine what this smells like. I can't really do it justice by trying to describe it either. The best I can do is say it kind of smells like a tangerine vanilla sorbet. I mean it smells so good you wish you could eat it as a dessert.

If you like a little more color on your lips though, swap out the SPF for Hurraw's tinted cinnamon lip balm

Lastly- sorry I seem like a crazy lip lady- before bed I like to use Dr. Lipp. This is another product I have used loyally for a couple of years. It really works. It's perfect for overnight lip nourishment before bed. But I also love that this product has so many uses. If my face feels super dry, I use some face oil and rub in a little Dr. Lipp before bed and in the morning it's much better. Same goes for dry cracked hands in winter.

Ok, that's it from me! Hope everyone had great summers.

Love,
N

***Disclaimer: I am part of the LoveLula Accredited Blogger Programme, and the LoveLula Affiliate Scheme. I selected these products to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*** 
Shop the post! I love shopping from LoveLula because they have an amazing range of natural beauty products and FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING on qualifying orders! 
 
 

How to Make a Dairy Free Frothy Coffee 

A few years ago, I was obsessed with cappuccinos. I just loved the ritual, how enjoying a coffee slowed down my day. I'd never get them to go, either having them at home or in a coffee shop. I was so weird about it that I would sometimes wake up 15 minutes earlier just so I could sit and enjoy my cappuccino.

Unfortunately, this drink phase seemed to be the catalyst for finding out I was lactose intolerant after feeling so uncomfortably bloated after having my cappuccino, or other dairy products without knowing what the cause actually was. I did an exclusion diet and I can tell you for sure, I'm super lactose intolerant and I really cannot eat dairy anymore.

This was very disappointing as I loved my cappuccinos and soy milk has never cut it for me. I don't like the taste, and it's not that great for you either. I also tried the regular milk that claims it is lactose free, which probably works for some people but I am too sensitive to lactose for it. It took me about 2 years to get on the almond milk bandwagon. I don't know why I was so late to the party- almond milk is the best! I did try an almond milk cappuccino once around this time and found it didn't froth or do anything, so it me it seemed pretty pointless.

Thing is, I just hadn't found the right almond milk for the job. For a while, I actually completely cut out coffee from my diet because I hate black coffee, and I switched to being a black or green tea drinker.

Currently I now am quite conscious of how much caffeine I have, and try to keep it to a minimum and not everyday as it is better for sleep and my nervous system to skip it.

My newest discovery of the century is that Plenish almond milk is the secret to a frothy coffee. It’s 7% almond content is higher than some of the other brands, which may be why I find it froths better than others.

Top tip- I find this almond milk fantastic in cappuccinos, but I'm less enthused about it in smoothies. The flavor complements coffee really well, but I find it can make my smoothies taste a bit more bitter. My other favorite is iced coffee, which I also think tastes better with Plenish.

But, back to the basics. There's no point making a perfectly frothy coffee with bad beans. I am no coffee expert whatsoever, but I love Footprint Coffee. They make a range of organic, responsibly sourced, hand roasted coffee beans. And bonus, they are carbon neutral! Double bonus- it’s free to print on the label who the coffee is roasted for, so this makes a super cute customised gift too.

To round off my coffee, I don’t take sugar, but I love a good sprinkling of cinnamon on top. How about you, how do you like your coffee? Do you use almond milk, or any other nut milks?

Love,
N

 
 

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies 

So you all know I've got an obsession with mint chocolate- ice cream, smoothies, chocolate, cookies you name it. 

I love these dairy free and gluten free buckwheat chocolate chip cookies, so I thought a mint chocolate chip twist would be fun! If you aren't so keen on mint, leave it out and make these as double chocolate chip cookies. 

If you have any willpower, which is really really hard with cookies, these make a great treat to make a big batch of and freeze. 

Dairy free, gluten free mint chocolate chip cookies recipe: 
Makes 12 cookies 

Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. Peppermint extract 
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup buckwheat flour
  • 1oz (30g) dairy free chocolate chips (I use 70% dark chocolate)
  • 1.5 tbsp cacao powder 

Steps: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C fan. 
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  3. In a medium size bowl, combine the buckwheat flour and cacao powder. 
  4. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, whisk the egg and sugar on the lowest speed. 
  5. Slowly whisk in the coconut oil, followed by the peppermint extract.
  6. Then slowly whisk in the flour mixture, until the flour is well mixed in. 
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon. 
  8. Leaving space for the cookies to spread, make tablespoon-sized cookies and lightly flatten them a little with the back of a spoon. 
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes. 

Love,
N

 
 

Blueberry Muffins 

Who doesn't like blueberry muffins? I mean really, to me they are the king of all muffin flavors. Perfectly simple.

I like these blueberry muffins as a mid morning or afternoon snack, instead of my favourite almond butter flapjacks which is my go to at the moment. Of course, these muffins make a nice breakfast too and aren't too sweet. But I'm hooked on smoothies for breakfast these days so that’s always how I start my morning.

Dairy Free and Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Recipe:
Makes 8 medium size muffins

Ingredients:
  • 1 egg 
  • ⅓ cup coconut palm sugar 
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil 
  • 1 cup almond milk 
  • 1 cup rice flour 
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder 
  • ⅛ tsp. xanthan gum 
  • ½ cup blueberries 
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest 

Steps:
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C  fan.
  2. Line a medium sized muffin tin with about 8 paper muffin cases. 
  3. In a small bow, combine the rice flour, baking powder and xanthan gum. 
  4. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar. Then slowly whisk in the melted coconut oil, followed by the almond milk. 
  5. Still using the electric mixed, slowly mix in the flour mixture to the wet mixture until the flour is all mixed in and there are no lumps.
  6. Stir in the blueberries and lemon zest. 
  7. Spoon in the batter to the muffin cases until each case is about ¾ full. 
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
What are your favorite muffin flavors?

Love,
N


 
 

Ethos London 

I love to eat outside whenever I can. I'll sometimes even eat my packed lunch outside on my break in winter when it is sunny; the cold air makes me feel more awake (although I 100% prefer hot weather to the cold.)

But London weather is not always the most optimal for eating outside. Which is one of the reasons why I like Ethos on Eastcastle Street, London. The inviting restaurant is dotted with birch trees inside, bringing some of the outside in. Inside, the vibe is very neutral chic, think lovely greys and marble.

But the food is the real star of the show, and what drew me there in the first place. I highly recommend lunch or breakfast at Ethos.

I’ve been for breakfast and had Raspberry, Maple and Almond Porridge. 

At lunch, you pay by plate weight and can mix and match loads of dishes from a lovely self-service selection. Everything is meat-free, and clearly labeled regarding allergens, which is super helpful. Last time I was there I tried a mishmash of seaweed salad with carrot ribbons and miso dressing, Hungarian style stuffed peppers, chickpea and coconut curry and an Indonesian rice called nasi goreng.

This sounds like an extremely random plate I made for myself, but it was delicious and the perfect way to try everything I wanted to. I'll definitely be back for more of the chickpea and coconut curry and nasi goreng. They were my two favourites!

Has anyone else tried this restaurant? What do you think?

Love,
N

 
 

Dairy Free Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie

Mint and chocolate chips are just meant to be together. It's my favorite ice cream flavor, so naturally I needed to make this into a smoothie for a cup of mint chocolate bliss. What better way to start a morning? 

This smoothie is really creamy thanks to the avocado, but also sweet and minty. I love to swap chocolate chips for healthier cacao nibs. I find cacao nibs quite bitter when eaten alone, but perfect when blended into a smoothie. 

Dairy Free Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie Recipe:
Serves 1

Ingredients:
  • 1 ¼ cup almond milk 
  • 1 tsp. cacao nibs plus extra on top 
  • ½ avocado, roughly chopped 
  • 1 banana, roughly chopped 
  • 20 mint leaves (or 1 tsp. peppermint extract) 

Steps:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Love,
N

 
 

Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream

I'm so obsessed with this dairy free chocolate ice cream. I could eat it every day. In fact, it's been taking some willpower not to knowing there's lots in my freezer. It’s made dairy free with coconut and almond milk, so it is lovely and creamy. When it's fresh, it tastes just like soft serve, and it's perfect for adding toppings. My personal favorite is a little shaved dark chocolate on top. Not in the mood for ice cream? Skip the ice cream maker, leave the mixture to set in the fridge for an hour and eat it as chocolate pudding!

Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe:
Serves 4-5


Ingredients:
  • 13.5 oz (400ml) coconut milk 
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened almond milk 
  • ½ cup coconut palm sugar 
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum 
  • ½ tsp. arrowroot powder 
  • 2 tbsp. cacao powder 

Steps:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 
  2. Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour. 
  3. Slowly pour the mixture into the ice cream machine and churn for about 8-10 minutes. Or follow the machine’s instructions.*



***Tip: In my ice cream maker, I found that if wanted to serve the ice cream immediately, it took about 8-10 minutes to churn the ice cream. However, this would only yield about 2 portions and the remaining would be fully frozen to the sides of the machine, so either remove all the ice cream immediately, or wait an hour or so for the machine to cool down and remove the ice cream that remained frozen on the sides, and freeze for later. Alternatively, if you are serving all portions at once, churn the ice cream for about 5 minutes, and transfer the ice cream to a different container to freeze until ready. If you make this ice cream in advance, I would allow about 20 minutes to defrost.***

Has anyone else tried making ice cream?

Love,
N


 
 

Nude Nails: My go-to color

A way I can instantly feel more pretty and polished is to paint my nails. But lots of nail polish has some nasty ingredients in it, so in my search for non-toxic options, I discovered Kure Baazar. Pricey but worth it for cleaner ingredients, not to mention a range of gorgeous colors. It works just like regular polish, and to me it lasts as long as regular polish too. 

A good nude nail is sort of a go-to for me. It always looks great regardless of the season. If you’re new to using nail polish with clean ingredients, or wear it so infrequently it's not worth having many colors, I vote for nude. 

The nude color pictured isn't available on LoveLula anymore as I bought it a little while ago, but this "cappuccino" or this metallic "or rose" look amazing too.

Of course, to accompany pretty nails, hands have to look good too. If my hands are feeling extra dry, especially around my knuckles, before bed I rub a little Dr. Lipp on my hands and they are better the next day (blogged about this product here). Or add some over hand cream, coconut oil, or vitamin E oil for extra moisture.

To remove my nail polish, I use this nail polish remover by Zoya. This contains cleaner ingredients than traditional nail polish removers. When I first used it I was nervous it would be harder to remove nail polish than traditional nail polish removers, but it’s not! It’s doesn’t dry out my nails either.

What are your favorite nail polish colors? Has anyone else tried Kure Baazar? 

Love,
N


***Disclaimer: I am part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Programme and Affiliate Scheme, although I did pay for these products myself. All thoughts and opinions are my own.***
 
 

Dairy Free Cheesy Eggplant Pasta

I have been making a lot of this dairy free, gluten free, vegan 'cheesy' eggplant pasta recently for great light, summer dinner, often having leftovers cold at lunch the following day. 

I don't know why, but zucchini is just so much more appealing when it's spiralized! I prefer mixing zoodles with some pasta, instead of just zoodles, for a more filling meal. My favorite gluten free pasta is Dove's Farm Brown Rice Fusilli.

For a "cheesy flavour" without using actual cheese, nutritional yeast flakes are the best. I'm lactose intolerant so cheese is out of the question for me, but sprinkle some nutritional yeast flakes over the pasta and zoodles while it's still warm to dissolve the flakes a bit, and it will do the trick for any cheese cravings.

Vegan Cheesy Eggplant Pasta

Serves 2

Ingredients: 
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced into rounds 
  • 3.5oz (100g) gluten free pasta 
  • 1 large zucchini, spiralized 
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved 
  • ½ bunch basil, chopped 
  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes 
  • 1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for grilling the eggplant)
  • Salt and pepper to serve 

Steps
  1. Cook the gluten free pasta as per the instructions on the package. 
  2. Heat a grill pan, and grill the eggplant rounds for a few minutes each side. Remove from the heat. Then, chop the eggplant into bite-size pieces if desired. 
  3. Remove the pasta from the heat, and strain with a colander. 
  4. Add the pasta, zoodles, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and basil back into the pot. Drizzle with olive oil and stir in the nutritional yeast flakes until they have dissolved, on low heat for a minute or two. 

Love,
N


 
 

Dairy Free Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries are so simple, but so good. You don’t even need to use strawberries- banana, watermelon, and pineapple are all good options too!  Not in the mood for fruit? Try this gluten free and dairy free chocolate covered chocolate loaf cake.  

Of course, you can make this with store-bought chocolate, but sometimes it is fun to make your own dairy free chocolate. I turned any leftover chocolate I had from this into chocolate peanut butter cups.

Dairy Free Chocolate Covered Strawberries Recipe:
Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
  • ⅓ cup cacao butter
  • 2 tbsp. cacao powder
  • 1½ tbsp. maple syrup 
  • 8 oz (225g) strawberries (or more if desired, there will be enough chocolate)


Steps: 
  1. Using a double-boiler pan (or a saucepan with water in the bottom and a bowl on top), bring the water to a simmer. Melt the cacao butter. Remove from the heat. 
  2. Gently stir in the cacao powder and maple syrup until all of the ingredients are combined. 
  3. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes.
  4. Dip the strawberries into the chocolate. Leave to cool, then serve immediately or refrigerate until later. For a thicker chocolate coating, once the initial layer has hardened dip the strawberries in chocolate again.


Love,
N