super salad

"Superfood" salads are everywhere, you can't escape the wrath of M&S's mungo bean filled, "mooli" fake sushi stuffed, edamame scattered lunch aisle due to the overwhelming popularity of health foods. It's not all smoke, mirrors and hyperbole though, many of these foods really do pack a healthy nutrition punch, and we could all (if we're not already) benefit from swapping the all-day-breakfast sandwich and crisps for a healthier alternative.

Introducing the perfect lunch date, she has all corners covered. A brilliant source of healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and slow releasing carbs, this is just what the doctor ordered!

You will need:
Baby lambs lettuce a perfect salad base, containing omega 3.
Baby pea shoots have a wonderful, distinctive flavour and are packed with vitamin c, vitamin a and folic acid.
Watercress known as an anti ageing food, contains enzymes that aid the liver, can aid in eye health, and is full of antioxidants.
Cashew nuts rich in monounsaturated fats, an excellent source of calories and energy.
Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein, touted as the super grain of the future it contains amino acids, riboflavin and is rich in complex carbohydrates.
Pomegranate kernels a bit of an old timer on the super foods block, pomegranates are a fantastic source of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Their seeds are also a great source of fibre
Sunflower seeds contain selenium, magnesium, copper and are a fantastic source of vitamin e.
Caper berries contain various flavonoids but included mainly for their delicious flavour punch!
Lemon juice too many health benefits to even start on, lemon's medicinal properties have been noted for millennia.
Olive oil again, I could write pages on its health benefits.
Cayenne pepper known to aid in the fight against cold and flu, it also relieves head aches, aids digestion, is an anti-inflammatory, and supports the metabolism, amongst many other things.
Violas (optional) the flowers are eaten as a breath freshener, and make a beautiful garnish.

This is a "placed" salad rather a the toss-it-in-a-bowl-and-shake one.

Start off by cooking about fifty grams of quinoa per serving according to the instructions on the packet, then put to one side.

On a large white plate or pasta bowl, lay a bed of lambs lettuce, watercress and peashoots, then sprinkle on your salad goodies, including the quinoa, before placing your violas around the bowl.

Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, a glug of olive oil and some cayenne pepper.

The salad is delicious served with some cured meats and a hunk of whole meal bread with softened butter. It's so pretty it almost resembles a little miniature rock garden, and looks like a lot more trouble to make than it actually is!



Wash Bag 101

It's the first of June, summer is in the air, and most of us are getting ready for the yearly horrors of exposed skin (whether our own or other's unsightly wobbly bits) and trying to look our most mid-summer-radiant.

I - unlike some of you lucky fellows - was not blessed with stunningly clear, sun-glare-ready, "normal" skin. I've inherited a textbook combination complexion, oily in parts, dry in others, and I'm prone to blemishes to boot.

Over the years I've tried dozens and dozens of products, my most tested area being exfoliators and cleansers. I'm pretty obsessed. From St. Ives to La Prairie, Clearasil (facial skin's natural born enemy) to Clinique. You name it, I've probably rubbed it on my face at one point or another.

Naturally, I eventually discovered my favourites, and these products are my skin care heroes - lotions and potions that I believe let me put my best possible face forward to the world. I'm going to share them with you just this once, as I don't for a moment think any of you gorgeous lot need beauty advice from me!

Let's start off with the basics - the cleanser. I use Liz Earle's Cleanse & Polish (I think everyone else does too). It's effective, natural, and gentle to skin. Removes all the grime of the day, but absolutely does NOT strip your skin. After using cleanse & polish your skin will still feel soft and subtle - unlike some cleansers that leave you feeling like you've scrubbed at your face with wire wool and white spirit.

Body Shop's Vitamin C Microdermabrasion scrub has got to be my favourite exfoliator. The problem with exfoliators is a lot of them are way too harsh on our skin. In their desperate attempt to clean away oil, sebum, and other face rubbish, they end up stripping our faces of all their natural oils so determinedly that our body reacts by creating oil on over drive to counteract what we're doing to it. This offering from body shop is a less abrasive exfoliator, it has Shea butter inside to nourish, crushed garnets and micro exfoliating particles that lift away grime without drying us up. The vitamin C kick leaves you looking just a but more radiant than you did before.

I first used this after stealing it off my mother's medicine cabinet when I was eleven. I remember going to school later on that day and insisting that my best friend feel how soft my face was because of it. I've been hooked ever since! Origins Never A Dull Moment is a face polisher - something in between an exfoliator and a moisturiser. Massage onto skin and rinse off using a facial cleansing brush, it leaves you looking dewy and bright. Only whip this one out once or twice a week, and go easy on the moisturiser afterwards. To the sinners out there who are given away by mornings - this will wipe away all the evidence!

THIS is where it's at.

If you take on board just one of my suggestions (and when it comes to this I implore that you do), then buy this. Avène Eau Thermale or thermal water is my skin care super hero. My best beauty buy. It has so so many uses. From calming nappy rash to soothing cuts and scrapes.

I use it after cleansing and exfoliating. Just spray a load onto your face (it comes out as a beautifully fine mist), leave for a couple of minutes and then pat dry with a towel before moisturising. The water has calming, anti inflammatory properties and leaves your skin looking visibly relaxed. Apparently you can use it to set make up, nurse puffy eyes, or even cool down on a hot day.

The moisturisers. Probably skin cares biggest seller.

I have tried tonnes, expensive and cheap, and No.7 Beautiful Skin day and night creams in "normal/oily" are my absolute favourites. Non-greasy, they absorb into the skin almost instantly and leave a matte finish. Your skin will feel wonderfully supple. They are also non comedogenic, paraben free, and are very understanding and supportive of our need to not to have our faces clogged up with cream.

Aēsop is a fantastic, back to basics, Australian skin care brand that is really results driven. I love their calming shampoo & conditioner it works wonders.

This is their Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque, it's less potent than their Camomile concentrate masque, but still works wonders. A fantastic weekly face mask.

Once a week I use Kiehl's Over-Night Biological Peel. It contains various botanicals and compounds that are proven to speed the exfoliation process over night. Your skin will look much clearer in the morning, and the peel loosens up dead skin cells to be easily swept away during your morning exfoliation. As you all know, you can't go wrong with Kiehl's.

This was a gift from my friend Harriet. I don't know how fantastic it is as a lip balm compared to others, as generally I don't use them. However I've been applying Molton Brown's Vitamin Lip Saver at night and it's made my lips very soft, moisturised and chap-free by morning.

Ren is another favourite brand of Harriet's, on her recommendation I plumped for this Morrocan Rose Otto Body Wash. It's made with Otto Rose oil, which is valuable and highly praised for its botanical properties. The shower gel is lightly cleansing but doesn't strip so no need to moisturise afterwards and smells beautifully of Turkish delight!

I have fairly soft hands, but they do get quite dry sometimes. This Lemon Hand Wash by C. O. Bigelow is moisturising and brightening. A couple of pumps leaves hands soft, bright and well maintained.

When a good, moisturising hand wash isn't quite enough, turn to Neal's Yard. Their Garden Mint & Bergamot Hand Lotion smells gorgeous, is completely natural and organic and leaves hands literally as soft as a babies behind! Keep a bottle of this and a bottle of Bigelow's lemon hand wash by the bathroom sink.

So that's it! Like I've said, I'm not a skin care blogger, and I don't for a moment claim to be an expert. But, I have tried a lot of what's on the market and these are the products that I've got along with best. So if your skins anything like mine, you might have some luck of your own with them!


Ps: Buy that thermal water on the double!