Sunday, 14 December 2014

My Protein £30 Voucher Giveaway

Today I'm playing Mrs Claus and I'm coming at you with giveway for the chance to win some protein packed products to help you have a healthy Christmas and New Year.

My Protein £30 Voucher Giveaway | The Road to Less Cake | #giveaway #competition #protein

The team at My Protein will be giving one of my readers a voucher to buy £30 worth of their products, which include dairy and non-dairy protein powders, nut butters and activewear. They now have a new section on their website which is dedicated to women's fitness

I have some of the company's products stashed in my cupboard, I especially like their hemp protein powder which I used in my superfood protein banana bread which is deliciously soft inside with crumbly crumb and a subtle nutty flavour. It would be the perfect healthy breakfast or snack over the holidays.

My Protein £30 Voucher Giveaway | The Road to Less Cake | #giveaway #competition #protein

The giveaway is open to UK residents only and ends next Sunday. The winner will be announced shortly afterwards.

Enter below and let me know what your favourite protein packed recipes are. Links to the recipes would be welcomed.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Sweet Mince Pie Baked Oats

It's the first of December! When did that happen? It's just snuck up. Every year I feel Christmas comes around quicker and quicker. That makes me sound old and like Scrooge. Christmas is one of my favourite times of year. I just reserve a lot of my excitement until the beginning of December. And today is December 1 and that means I can legitimately start to feel Christmassy!

Cosy jumpers. Spending time with family. Presents under the Christmas tree. Watching loved ones opening their gifts. Christmas pudding. Tinsel. Cheesy festive tunes. Roast potatoes. Christmas movies. Wishing for a white Christmas. I love Christmas. And Christmas is simply not Christmas without mince pies.

Bring Christmas to your breakfast with these sweet mince pie baked oats. They will make your house smell like Christmas. | The Road to Less Cake | #Christmas #mincepies #oatmeal #bakedoatmeal #bakedoats

I think I may have over used the word Christmas in that last paragraph. Christmas. Christmas. Christmas.

Every year I say I'm going to start my Christmas festive shopping earlier. And every year that never happens. Fail.

On Friday, James and I went to his work's Christmas party. It was tonnes of fun and really got me in the holiday spirit. I spent most of the night dancing to the Abba tribute band that was playing. I may have been born in the late 80's but I know my Abba songs. When I was about four, I used to play this video my mum had taped of an Abba concert over and over again. I remember one night when I was at university two of my housemates and I were watching 'Mama Mia' and drinking wine and our other housemate came in to find us all standing up singing, wine glasses in hand, sloshing it everywhere. And not much has changed. I was singing on Friday night, wine glass in hand, trying to dance with James. I eventually got him on the dance floor. He has to learn for the wedding. But maybe not to an Abba song. We've picked our song first for our first dance. We're keeping that one schtum until the wedding though.

After the party, J and I stayed at the hotel, and on Saturday morning we headed into Aberdeen to buy gifts for family and friends. I managed to get most of my Christmas shopping done. I think it was my most successful holiday shopping trip for a few years. And I didn't even buy anything for myself, except a princess bag for life from the Disney store (What? They asked me if I wanted a princess bag. Of course I do!) and some mince pie filling to make this recipe. But that wasn't for me. No, that was for you. I didn't even enjoy eating a slice of the baked oats at all. Not one bit.

Yeah, I'm totally fibbing. I wasn't even a little bit convincing, was I?

Bring Christmas to your breakfast with these sweet mince pie baked oats. They will make your house smell like Christmas. | The Road to Less Cake | #Christmas #mincepies #oatmeal #bakedoatmeal #bakedoats

Mince pies are an integral part of Christmas. They've been making their way into supermarkets and coffee shops since September. I was going to try and make a dairy and gluten-free mince pie recipe, and I may still do that, and then this little gem popped into my head. Mince pies for breakfast. Oh, yeah.

Do you want Christmas all up in your breakfast? (Who doesn't?)

I love a bowl of oats at this time of year, they're pretty much my staple breakfast come November and December, and I love mince pies. And my crazy foodie brain managed to smoosh the two together to make a recipe that will make your house smell like Christmas morning,

Bring Christmas to your breakfast with these sweet mince pie baked oats. They will make your house smell like Christmas. | The Road to Less Cake | #Christmas #mincepies #oatmeal #bakedoatmeal #bakedoats

This would a great breakfast for Christmas morning. You can easily bake the oats a night or two before to save on valuable oven space on Christmas Day and then reheat it in the morning. The baked oatmeal will last about three or four days in an airtight container, five if you're lucky.

If you have time you can make homemade mincemeat, but if not, a store bought one will work. I didn't have the time, so I used this one.

Bring Christmas to your breakfast with these sweet mince pie baked oats. They will make your house smell like Christmas. | The Road to Less Cake | #Christmas #mincepies #oatmeal #bakedoatmeal #bakedoats

These oats are sweet, fruity, lightly spiced, warm and not too heavy. It really is like eating a mince pie in the morning. Topped off with a dollop of yogurt and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg, this is the perfect December breakfast.

Bring Christmas to your breakfast with these sweet mince pie baked oats. They will make your house smell like Christmas. | The Road to Less Cake | #Christmas #mincepies #oatmeal #bakedoatmeal #bakedoats

This recipe is dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, wheat-free and can be made gluten-free by using GF oats.
Sweet Mince Pie Baked Oats
Bring Christmas to your breakfast with these sweet mince pie baked oats. They will make your house smell like Christmas. | The Road to Less Cake | #Christmas #mincepies #oatmeal #bakedoatmeal #bakedoats
by Nikki Mitchell
Prep Time: 5 - 10 mins
Cook Time: 1 hour
Keywords: bake breakfast diary-free gluten-free soy-free vegan vegetarian wheat-free oats Christmas winter
Ingredients (Serves 6)
  • 2 cups (240g) rolled oats (Use gluten-free oats to keep the recipe gluten-free)
  • 1 cup (320g) sweet mincemeat
  • 1/3 cup (180ml) pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (50g) flaked almonds (plus a few extra for sprinkling on top)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (Use gluten-free to keep the recipe gluten-free)
  • Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flaked almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and baking powder.
  • Then add the milk and mincemeat and mix everything together.
  • Grease your favourite oven proof dish and pour the mixture into the dish. Sprinkle a few extra flaked almonds on top.
  • Bake the oatmeal in the oven for an hour.
  • Serve with a dollop of your favourite plain yogurt and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg.
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Friday, 28 November 2014

10 Products For Eczema and Dry Skin

10 Products for Eczema and Dry Skin | The Road to Less Cake | #beauty #skincare #eczema #dryskin #winterskin

Tight, dry skin, chapped lips and sore hands - winter is on its way and my skin does not like it. My eczema flared up a bit over the summer due to stress and getting ill, and after going on holiday to Rhodes and having a week in the sun, it started to heal. I have good days and bad days, but now the colder weather is rolling in, my skin has started to pucker and get a little dry and flaky in patches. Some winters I feel like I should slather myself in heavy duty cream to keep the moisture in.

Since my last major outbreak of eczema when I was 19, I have used mainly organic and natural products on my skin as I find I don't react to them and they improve the quality of it. I do however use a couple of products that I get from the doctor. I find that if I eat clean, predominantly wholefoods and not processed foods, drink lots of water and eat healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil then my skin is better.

As the cold weather is here, I thought I'd share some of my favourite products that I use to treat and calm down my dry skin and eczema. I have not been asked to review any of these products, these are my own thoughts and I have included some of my Amazon Associates links to the items in case you would like to try them.

1. Avène Thermale Spring Water Spray -  This spray is made from French spring water, which is used at the The Avène Hydrotherapy Centre. This is an amazing centre in the south of France which uses thermal spring water from the area that has been shown to treat skin disorders (you can read more here). I have been lucky enough to go to the centre twice after two severe flare ups. I saw a massive improvement in my skin after going and in the months that followed. Unfortunately, I can't spend all my time in France (although I'd love to), regularly going to the centre, which is why I'm so happy the Avène Thermale Spring Water is available in a handy spray. I use this daily, usually in the morning after washing my face and then at night or when I get in from work after I've taken off my make up. I tend to spray it on and let it sit and absorb into my skin for a couple of minutes before patting my face dry. I also use spray it any areas that are little angry, red or itchy before I put on some cream. The spray is also great in summer to cool you down. If you have eczema or any skin issues I definitely would look into the Eau Thermale Avène products. I'd highly recommend them.

2. Raw Organic Coconut Oil - After my recent flare-up, I went back to basics with my skincare routine, mainly just using cold pressed coconut oil as a moisturizer, which I tend to just pick up at my local health food shop. I have found that using coconut oil on my skin helps to instantly calm it down, it is less inflamed, less itchy and less dry. Coconut oil has really helped to heal my eczema. If you're a regular reader you'll know I also love to bake and cook with it.

3. Aveno and Avene Trixera + Moisturisers - I typically put coconut oil on my face and body at night, on a morning I tend to use a cream as it dries quicker and it is easier to apply make-up to my face after using cream than coconut oil. Having said that, if I'm not going anywhere that morning and am not in a rush I will use coconut oil over the moisturisers. The two main moisturisers that I use on a regular basis is the Aveeno and the Trixera + emollient cream from the Eau Thermale Avène range. Both of these creams are made for people with eczema and what I like about them is they don't sting when I apply them to my skin, they make it feel softer and absorb easily so I don't stick to my clothes or bed linen after applying them.

4. Fermented Cod Liver Oil - When my eczema broke out I did a little research and one product a number of blogs and sufferers said to try was fermented cod liver oil, so I thought I'd give it a go. I'm not going to lie, this is not the nicest tasting supplement, I bought it in the orange flavour but it still isn't the nicest thing to consume. I take 1/2 a teaspoon a day at breakfast time. The fish oil is rich in omega-3s, which are not damaged by high temperatures as it is cold pressed, and contains Vitamin A and D, which both contribute to skin health, I did find that my skin improved in terms of redness, dryness and itching once I started taking it.

5. Maca Powder - Maca powder, made from a Peruvian root vegetable, has many benefits. I find it helps to clear my eczema, it was less inflamed and dry once I started taking maca. Maca decreases sensitivity (my skin is very sensitive), so in hot or cold weather, your skin may withstand extreme temperatures better. Maca is said to reduce stress hormones (stress is an eczema trigger for me), balance hormones and increase fertility. I add it to my smoothies and porridge most days. The two brands I would recommend are the Naturya and Organic Burst.

6. Oilatium Plus Bath Emollient - One product I have been using since I was a little girl for my eczema it is the Oilatum Plus Bath Emollient. It is not the most natural of products, but every time I have a flare up I always go back to using this product and have always had great results. It helps to calm down the redness, itchiness of my skin and clear dry patches. Oilatum replaces natural skin oils and forms a waterproof barrier on the skin surface to keep moisture in and prevent water loss. I find it moisturises and softens my skin. I try and have bath using Oilatum at least once a week. It's also really nice to relax in the bath and destress as stress is a big trigger for my eczema

7. Epsom Salts - If you want a more natural bath additive why not try Epsom Salts? The salts are rich in magnesium and sulfate, which are both readily absorbed through the skin, and magnesium can help reduce inflammation. I try to take regular baths in the salts because I find it helps to reduce redness in my skin and makes it feel softer. I've also found Epsom Salt baths are great after exercise as they can help achy muscles and joints. 

8. Antihistamines - I try not to use antihistamines daily but when I've had an outbreak of eczema they really do help to calm down the itching and stop me scratching as much. Over the summer I was put on some strong antihistamines by the doctor as I wasn't sleeping very well because I was itchy. I am now just using milder ones as and when I feel the need to. My favourite antihistamines are these ones.

9. Licorice Tea - If you don't want to use antihistamines in tablet form, licorice is a natural antihistamine and I have found drinking licorice tea, especially before bed, can really helps to calm down my itching. You can drink straight up licorice tea, I personally like this peppermint and licorice tea blend and there are plenty of other blends out there.

10. Rescue Remedy - This little bottle is hand to carry around with you and grab when you need a moment of calm. My eczema is heavily linked to my emotions, if I get flustered, upset or stressed I am more likely to have a flare-up or feel itchy, so I carry Rescue Remedy, which was made by Dr Bach to help people deal with emergencies and crises, in my bag and I always have a bottle in my draw at work for when I need it. You just take a few drops when you feel the need to. I've also used Rescue Remedy to get me through exams and my driving test.

Do you have eczema and/or dry skin? 

What are you favourite products to use for your skin?

Do you find your skin is worse in the winter?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Slowing Down Isn't Failing

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! I'm sure we've all seen that mantra posted on social media sites and blogs across the world, right? But what about when your plans and good intentions fail? Are you a failure?

Even with the best intentions and the best plans, things don't always go the way you want or expect them to. 'The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry' and all that (jazz). That is life. It often throws you some curve balls and you've just got to roll with the punches.

I like plans. I'm a planner. I've got lists about everything. If it's not on a list, I'm probably going to forget it. I've even got lists about my lists. I've totally turned into my Dad. So it's safe to say that when my plans...well, don't got to plan, it throws me off. It had taken me a while after moving up  Scotland to get into a routine, but I was getting there. I was going to the gym two or three times a week, going horse riding once or two, a bit of yoga in between and eating clean around 80% of the time.

But the one thing I've not been able to get into a routine is my blog schedule, no matter how hard I've tried to. For that, I am sad. I want to continue to post when I can. Being a journalist means that I often have to work extra hours or cover evening meetings.

I often work in a pressurized environment, sticking to deadlines and always thinking about the next one. That is the line of work I chose. But as well as demands at work, I was putting far too many demands on myself. I wanted to be everything for everybody. But there simply weren't enough hours in the day to do everything I was expecting myself to do.

So my plans went awry. I tried to keep to my schedule, but that meant forcing myself to go to the gym or do yoga when I truly felt rubbish. Yoga teaches you not to push or force yourself into poses, ease into them in time. That is not what I was doing with my life or my practice. I work forcing myself to exercise when all I wanted was a bath, a book and my bed. I was trying to be full-on all the time, doing everything.

Where did it leave me? Burnt out, my eczema flared up and I got sick and ended up in bed to the point where I couldn't move. I'd gone too far. I had to slow down.

If you are run down that could be a sign that you need to slow down. And that isn't failing. That is listening to your body. Being busy has become a status symbol in modern day life. We're always nipping here, popping there, doing this and then doing that. I don't think it is healthy. Rest is important. Getting enough sleep is important. When you've worked out, letting your muscles is good for your body because it repairs and strengthens itself in between workouts.

I'm no longer stuck in bed, but my energy levels have been left hit. But as my strength started to come back, I went and started doing too many things again, trying to fit lots of things into my days and weeks, and I ended up with my first migraine attack in more than a year.

I'm taking every day and every week as they come now. I have gone back to the gym and I'm doing yoga a few times a week. I tried my first body balance class at my gym last night with a friend. I really enjoyed the class, being with other people as much as the exercises. We even had a cup of a tea with some of the ladies from the class afterwards. I really enjoyed myself.

Trying to do everything at once meant my social life took a nose dive, and I'm a sociable person. I'm not talking about partying all night long. I love being around people. I'm a fun, bubbly and friendly person. My mental health was affected as much as my physical health by getting ill and running around like a headless chicken because I was stuck in my little busy bubble. Since I've started to feel better, there have been times when I've missed going to the gym in favour of having a coffee, drink or dinner with friends. And I'm ok with that. That is balance to me (which is how I try to live my life). Seeing my friends makes me feel happy. I can go to the gym the next day or try slot in 15-20 minutes of yoga before I get ready to go out. I've realised that it is ok if my plans change. 

In the run up to getting sick and while feeling ill, I'd stopped laughing, I'd stopped smiling. And I'm starting to laugh and smile again. In all of our engagement photos I'm smiling or laughing. I'm starting to be me again. Just because I slowed down it doesn't mean I'm a failure, it meant what I was doing didn't work and I had to try something else, 

Slowing Down Isn't Failing. Being busy has become a status symbol in modern day life, but it isn't healthy.
Slowing Down Isn't Failing. Being busy has become a status symbol in modern day life, but it isn't healthy.
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