Vlogs in England, UK

One of my favourite hobbies, apart from cooking, is vlogging!

I just love filming stuff...just things we do as a family, places we go etc.  We often like to go away for the weekend to spas, across England, or we take my stepson out for the day in Norfolk, or we visit places of interest.  This means I can combine filming with a fun day or trip out.


It was a big decision I took to start vlogging.  This is because it is a part of my personal life being exposed online...it is almost giving my readers and viewers a little piece of myself.  When I decided to post vlogs online, I gave up a chunk of my privacy, and have allowed strangers the opportunity to comment and give out their opinions of me and my ideas.  Most are overwhelmingly positive comments, but some are negative and critical, where others are mis-guided.  Just remember, I am human and have a family, and try not to judge me on something that you would never judge an extended family member by.

Please feel free to browse some of my vlogs;

I went with my best friend, Yamily to Ely to have a look round:-



My husband took me on a surprise visit to Southwold in Suffolk in April 2015, where I vlogged away:-

Prior to our Southwold visit, we visited Beccles in Suffolk with my step-son:-
We took my step-son out for the day to Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.  They had an event on where I held a snake and touched a Madagascan cockroach, then we went to the owl sanctuary in Fritton, Suffolk:-


My husband takes me on a spa weekend away at the end of every month.  This time, we visited Rushton Hall, Northamptonshire plus I did a Slow Cooked Lamb in Red Wine Sauce recipe:


For Christmas 2014, we thought we would treat my 8 year old step son to some VIP tickets to watch Norwich City Football Club play against Huddersfield Town.  I vlogged the whole thing, and guess what?  We won 5-0!


For my mother's birthday on 1 December 2014, she treated us all to a long weekend at Luton Hoo Hotel.  It was fantastic!


Important lesson here on life and stuff I've learnt:


I went to the supermarket and picked up a magazine that shocked me from the photos of the celebs on the cover.  I then decided to vent my thoughts on youtube! Lol.

My lovely husband, Paul, took me on a surprise holiday to Padstow, Cornwall, to try out Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant. And we made this vlog:-

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Slow Cooker Recipes and the Truth about Slow Cooking

Slow cookers are as cheap as chips, economical to use and you're always going to use fresh ingredients with them. They offer a healthier, lower fat cooking method and they require little effort. If you don't use one already, why not start?
It's great coming home to the smell of home cooked food in the crock pot (or slow cooker).  Every Monday and Tuesday, I religiously cook dinner using my slow cooker.  They always turn out to be hearty winter dishes which are a smash hit for the family. You can thicken the sauces, and the meat comes out tender and soft.  Delightful!
Check out these blog articles with a slow cooker recipe:- 

Duck a l'orange and also chicken a l'orange in one hit

Chicken and Coconut Curry Recipe

Here I take you through some great positives to using a slow cooker:

1. Save time later and prevent stressful mealtimes


While there will nearly always be pre-preparation in general, it's normally just a case of throwing all the ingredients into your crock pot.  You can even prepare everything you need for your slow-cooker meal the night before, put it into the slow-cooker, cover it and store the pot in the fridge overnight. You can take it out of the fridge when you wake up in the morning, leave it for 20 minutes to reach room temperature, then just bang it on! 


An example of a recipe where this can be done, is my chicken with mushrooms in mushroom sauce recipe:-

Ingredients:
3 small organic red onions, 500g of mushrooms, 1 carrot, 4x large chicken breasts, 1 can of mushroom soup, basil, salt and pepper.  Served with a side helping of new potatoes, soya beans and petit pois.
2. Low fat cooking
I never add oil to my slow cooker recipes. The ingredients won't catch as long as there's enough moisture in the pot. You don't need fatty meat either, in fact, it's best to trim the fat off. The dish is still tasty but lighter than if you had used another cooking method.
Here is an example of a very low fat slow cooker dish with no oil or additives:-


Ingredients
4 x chicken breast, new potatoes cut small, 2 sticks of celery, one carrot, 2 onions (1 red, 1 brown), 2 cloves of garlic, chicken stock, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme.

3. Economic cookery

Slow cookers are fantabulous for cooking cheaper cuts like drumsticks and thighs, onglet steak, pork belly, liver and kidney etc. during the cooking process, a meaty, top quality flavour permeates the dish, meaning you won't realise it's low quality meat.

Here is a slow cooker dish using chicken thighs and drumsticks; chicken in honey and mustard sauce:-
Ingredients:
  • 8x chicken drumsticks and thighs,
  • whole pot of honey (400-500g)
  • 4 tablespoons of coarse grain mustard
  • 200-300ml of white wine
  • salt and pepper to season
Method:
Lightly brown the chicken pieces in a frying pan with no oil or fats.
Add chicken pieces to the slow cooker.
In a saucepan, add the honey, mustard, white wine and seasoning.
Gently bring to the boil.  Just before it reaches boiling point, add the sauce to the slow cooker. 
Leave on 'high' for four hours, or on 'low' for 6 to 8 hours.

4. Thickening the sauce
The liquid neither reduces nor thickens in your slow cooker. I sometimes separate the liquid to thicken it with flour in a separate saucepan at the end, just before serving it up. 

Here is my lamb stew in red wine sauce where I separated the sauce from the meat and veg at the end to thicken it:-
Ingredients:
Half a leg of lamb, or lamb diced up already, 2 organic red onions, 1 celery, 1 carrot, 100g of button mushrooms, 1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar, salt, pepper, 1 whole bottle of any quality red wine, 1 tbsp of tomato puree, 1 beef oxo cube, 1 or 2 bay leaves, flour to thicken. Serve with petit pois and light mashed potato.
5. Let it be
Slow cooking is designed to get on with it by themselves so it's important not to lift the lid. It is also unnecessary to check the ingredients as no stirring is needed. Everytime you remove the lid, it releases heat, increasing the cooking time.

 Ingredients
  • Chicken Breasts x 5
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 5 tablespoons of dessicated coconut
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato paste/puree
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons garam massala
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • one teaspoon of sea salt
  • one teaspoon of chili flakes
  • Optional cornflour to thicken the sauce

6. The slower the better 

I always try and use the lowest heat setting, if I have enough time. This is because a longer, gentler heat brings out the best flavours. Also, it means I can have a full 8-9 hours away from home, if need be.


Ingredients
  • 6 pieces of skinned chicken breasts
  • 7 oranges
  • 8 generous tablespoons of honey
  • chicken stock
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • A dab of pepper
  • Sieved flour to thicken the sauce
7. Slow cooking times
If a dish usually takes: 

  • 15 - 30 mins, cook it for 1 - 2 hours on High or 4 - 6 hours on Low
  • 30 mins - 1 hour, cook it for 2 - 3 hours on High or 5 - 7 hours on Low
  • 1 - 2 hours, cook it for 3 - 4 hours on High or 6 - 8 hours on Low
  • 2 - 4 hours, cook it for 4 - 6 hours on High or 8 - 12 hours on Low

Potatoes and root vegetables take longer than meat and lighter veg, so put them at the bottom, near the source of the heat.
Here is an example where the potatoes and veg are at the bottom of the pot in my Chicken in Almond Sauce Recipe:-

Ingredients
2 carrots, 3 medium sized potatoes, 1 clove of garlic, 2 red onions, around 5 spring onions, peas, around 10 pieces of chicken thighs and drumsticks, salt, pepper, paprika, thyme and basil. 1 chicken oxo cube, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of coarse grain mustard, 2 tablespoons of chopped almonds, flour to thicken. Plus a sprinkling of almonds on the final dish.

Happy slow cooking!

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Everything you need to know about Smoothies

Where smoothies play an important part in your healthy lifestyle, there are some key things you need to know, so as to make sure that smoothies are going to help you lose or maintain your weight, instead of gaining any.

Try this Very Berry Smoothie Recipe:-


  1. Ingredients
    • 2 cups of frozen spinach
    • 1 cup of strawberries (or 100g)
    • 1 cup of blueberries
    • Half a cup of almonds (50g)
    • 1 banana
    • 2 cups of water (or 240ml)
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • A handful of ice

1. Smoothies are a natural energy booster.
2. Natural weight loss can be a great side effect of slurping these instead of a typical breakfast.
3. Stay healthy all year long! Smoothies boost your immune system and peak your energy levels.
4. They are jam-packed with disease-fighting antioxidants which keep your body functioning properly.
5. They are hands down the best fast food! It takes 5 mins or less to make a smoothie (and clean up!) and they’re super easy to take on the go.

Try out this quick and easy Avocado Creamy Smoothie:

Ingredients:
80g pomegranate seeds (half a pomegranate), 80g-100g blueberries, 1 avocado, strawberries, 2 pears, 1 banana, 500ml or 1 pint of almond milk, 1 table spoon of chia seeds, ice, 1 tea spoon of cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Smoothies can, in fact, serve as a meal replacement, as they are loaded with fibre which should help you feel full. The principal difference between smoothies and juices is the fibre.
Try this kiwi and kale smoothie recipe out as a meal replacement:-




Ingredients
Two Kiwis
Kale (bowlful)
One pineapple
One mango
One banana
One avocado
2 cups / 500 ml coconut water
One teaspoon of cinnamon
One teaspoon of vanilla extract


Greeeen smoothies are called so because you add a green veg to them - the most popular green veg to add to smoothies are kale or spinach.  The formula is simple: leafy green veg + fruit + a liquid base = green smoothie!  The science behind them is that leafy greens contain high quality amino acids, vitamins, important minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. Phytonutrients are chemicals hidden in plants that support your immune system, improve longevity and health and aid in the fight against cancer and cardiovascular diseases.



Try out this delish green pomegranate smoothie recipe:-




Ingredients
  • 2 pomegranates
  • 2 cups or handfuls of spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 orange
  • 1 mango
  • 2 cups or 240ml unsweetened almond milk (or coconut water or normal tap water)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
And also try this Black Grape Green Smoothie Recipe Idea:-
Ingredients
1 punnet of black grapes, 1 punnet of strawberries, 1 carrot, 1 banana, half a fresh pineapple and a handful of fresh spinach leaves.

And try this out for size; my nectarine and kale smoothie as it has beta-carotene in it:-



Ingredients
  • 2 cups or 2 handfuls of kale
  • 500ml coconut water
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange
  • 2 nectarines
  • 1 mango
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A handful of ice (optional)
For smoothies:

  • It’s great to use whole fruits, because the fibre will slow down the sugar entering your bloodstream and it is metabolized differently than when we drink fruit juices. Smoothies shouldn't cause weight gain even if they are loaded with fruit.
  • Avoid dairy products like milk,yoghurt, eggs and protein powders because animal products are acidic in the body and can detract from the health-promoting properties of the smoothie.
  • Use frozen fruit, nuts, seeds, and even cooked grains to get a creamy and satisfying texture.
  • For additional protein, use nuts, seeds and a plant-based protein powder.  
  • Here is a high protein smoothie recipe; I have named it 'The Oddest Smoothie Recipe in the World' as it contains almonds, goji berries and turmeric amongst other ingredients:-

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsps of cashew nuts
  • 2 tbsps of chopped almonds
  • 2 tbsps of dessicated coconut
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 6 pears
  • 1 apple
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tbsps of goji berries
  • 1 banana
In the following smoothie recipe, I decided I would focus on potassium as an essential mineral for improving general health, including relief from stroke, blood pressure, heart and kidney disorders, anxiety and stress. It also enhances muscle strength, metabolism, water balance, electrolytic functions and the nervous system.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups or 2 handfuls of kale
  • 1 banana
  • 150g blueberries
  • 1 mango
  • 1 orange
  • half a lemon
  • teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 500ml (2 cups) coconut water
I have harped on so much about the health benefits of goji berries (a very fashionable superfood)!  I add them to almost any recipe that I think they would compliment.  I even invented my own goji berry smoothie recipe.  It has an unusual taste that you have to already like to be able to enjoy it:-

Ingredients
  • 100g goji berries
  • 1 cup or a handful of frozen spinach
  • 250ml of water (or one cup)
  • 1 mango
  • 1 orange
  • 1 apple
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Leave a comment if you've learnt something new and will be changing your smoothie regime.

Happy blending!

Oh ok, then, just one last quick smoothie recipe for good measure - called my 'melon, blueberry, carrot and kiwi smoothie':-
Ingredients
  • Half a honeydew melon
  • 1 punnet of blueberries
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 kiwiws
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A handful of ice
  • 1 pint or half a litre of water

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