Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Eating Out and Making Healthy Choices: The Indian Restaurant/Takeaway Edition

A good Indian probably one of my favourite takeaways to get and after I went for a family meal to one of my local ones last night I realised that it was a perfect destination for a 'how to make healthy choices' post! I used to be a massive Korma lover which is loaded with calories because of the cream, then I moved onto Tikka Masala which is almost as calorific but since doing Slimming World I've experimented a lot more with what I've been having as a main meal. You'll probably be quite pleasantly surprised by what you can get whilst staying well within your Syns for the day...


I love poppadoms so I always have one (5 Syns) with the cucumber and onion mix (free) that most places do, you can also have some of the other dips but they're obviously synned; Mango Chutney is 2 Syns per tbsp, Raita Dip is 1 Syn per tbsp and Lime Pickle is 1.5 Syns per tbsp. You could also have a Chicken Tikka starter which is pieces of chicken marinated in tikka spices served with salad, I would maybe count a couple of Syns for any oil that might be on it but that is probably what you should go for if you're trying to keep Syns as low as possible. 

Things to stay away from are Onion Bhajis and Samosas for obvious reasons; they're deep fried and they're flour based which increases the calorie/syn content. I also wouldn't go for a kebab that wasn't 'proper' meat, by that I mean things like Sheek kebabs as you have no idea of the fat content of the meat. 


If you think you have to have a dry dish to stay within Syns then you'd be wrong; if curry is your thing then you can have a guilt free Lamb/Chicken Rogan Josh (average portion 550g 10 syns) or a Chicken Dhansak (average portion 550g 10.5 syns) with boiled rice (free). If you are wanting a close to syn free option then Chicken Shashlik is a nice choice (chicken tikka pieces with cooked tomatoes, onions and peppers) or a Chicken Tikka Main (just don't have any of the curry sauce that comes with it). 

Things to avoid would be naan breads, cream based dishes and obviously chips.


Indian restaurants aren't exactly famous for their desserts are they (aside from the cool little ice creams which come shaped like a penguin or a bird) so I won't say much on this front other than fill up on your starter and main!

What's your favourite Indian Meal?

Subscribe: Blog Lovin' | Twitter | YouTube

Monday, 30 March 2015

The Perfect Life as told by YouTube

Right, third time of writing this. It’s a subject which I know could cause me a lot of grief if I don’t get it right so here goes…

Basically I want to talk about YouTubers and Bloggers and their lives that are out there for everyone to see. It’s a relative new concept which has become popular within the last 5 years or so and it’s a weird one. There’s no denying the fact that it’s strange how people want to show their lives for everyone to see on the internet. Can you imagine if we told our grandparents when they were our age that in 2010 people would start writing an online diary called a ‘blog’ and there would be people who were famous for pointing a camera at their own face and broadcasting it on a world wide platform? They’d think you were joking!

The more famous YouTubers seem to have the ‘perfect life’, and I do think this is down to what they are told to post by their management company (you’ll find that there are loads who have multiple channels so they have a bit more freedom). Big house, nice clothes, expensive makeup, the latest games consoles, wonderful holidays, perfect friends and happy family lives; so much so that they have fans who are in complete awe of what they have and they’re constantly receiving proclamations of love on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr… etc. There’s a massive array of YouTube viewers, I know, but the viewers of the most famous ones who have also appeared on TV do seem to be under 18 and this is what worries me a little bit. 

I know youngsters are open to things like TV which can show real life in a very skewed manner but I just think that it’s easier to know that most things on TV are ‘not real’ because they show ‘traditional celebrities’, I say traditional because there has been this shift in what we class as a celebrity due to the rise of YouTube and blog fame. In my opinion, viewers are much more likely to buy into a YouTuber than they are to someone who is on TV because YouTubers seem much more like our ‘best friend'; they’re just normal people who have found popularity by broadcasting themselves on social media. So when sponsorship is rife and YouTubers are under pressure from their management to keep up appearances it becomes increasingly harder to distinguish what’s really real and what’s not. 

What originally brought this into the forefront of my mind is when my 15 year old niece asked me about what I believed on YouTube and I just answered 'take it with a pinch of salt' because I don't want her thinking that what is portrayed on YouTube is 'real life'. Shit happens and although I don't think anyone should broadcast it, I also think it's wrong to make out like everything is perfect, not just for anyone watching it (especially the impressionable teens who make up a vast majority of a lot of audiences) but surely a charade like that is bloody exhausting?! Behind the scenes is obviously a very different thing, other than anxiety (which seems to be the most talked about condition), how do we know what these people are going through? We don’t, and I think when watching YouTube videos, it’s so important to remember that. 

What are your thoughts on the perfect YouTube life?

Subscribe: Blog Lovin' | Twitter | YouTube

Friday, 27 March 2015

Slimming World Ready Meals - My Thoughts

It's been a few weeks now since Slimming World released their ready meals into Iceland, everyone went a bit mental for them and it was proving pretty difficult to get hold of them in some stores (who knew a ready meal could cause such a stir?!) but I finally got hold of two of them the other day so I thought I'd share my thoughts on them. They do 8 different ready meals: Chicken Pizzaiola,  Hot Smoked Salmon Farfalle, Chicken Tikka Masala, Sweet Potato Curry, Singapore Noodles, Beef and Veg Crush, Meatballs with Pasta in a Spicy Tomato sauce and Roasted Vegetable Pasta as well as bags of syn free meatballs and sausages. I came away with Chicken Tikka Masala and Meatballs and Pasta in a spicy tomato sauce simply because the were the ones I fancied at the time (and they didn't have any of the beef and veg crush, otherwise I'd have got that too).

The most important thing, I think, is that these are all completely Syn free and absolutely perfect for anyone with a busy life and who really struggles after work to choose something Slimming World friendly when they just can't be bothered to cook. I love them because I can just heat one up when I've finished work at daft o'clock and I can enjoy it without the guilt and without messing around with any meal preparation. I would imagine that a consultant would say you need to have your 1/3 speed foods as well but I'll let you into a little secret... I don't bother most of the time because these are meals for when I can't be bothered to mess around with stuff so to me preparing and adding speed foods would defeat the object. 

I'll start with the Meatballs and Pasta: out of the two I would say that this is the most pleasing to the eye when its on the plate (or in the posh pasta bowl as I chose to put it in). It takes 12 minutes in the microwave from frozen (6 mins, stir then 6 mins again) and it's a good plate/bowl full of pasta. I was pleasantly surprised at how many meatballs were in mine; I counted 6 and they are proper meaty meatballs, so much so that I would say they taste a little bit odd to start with because it's just pure meat (beef and pork). When you look at the meal frozen, it looks as if there's not going to be much sauce but there's more than enough and the cooked cherry tomatoes and spinach are a nice little additive. The sauce is quite spicy so if you're not into spicy foods then this would be one to avoid; I like spicy foods and for me this is a bit of a mouth tingler. Overall I think it's quite nice and would probably give it a 7/10 

Next up is the Chicken Tikka Masala and I'll start by saying that although this might not look as nice on the plate I can tell you that looks definitely deceive with this one. It is absolutely amazing, honestly probably the best Tikka Masala ready meal I've ever eaten. You don't get rice with it which is a bit of a downfall but it's absolutely jam packed with chicken and it actually tastes like proper chicken, not the reformed stuff that you usually get in ready meals. It is a little spicier than most chicken tikkas i've had from takeaways but not mouth burningly spicy and you get plenty of sauce as well. I would say that even though these ready meals are made for one you could easily split this one into two if you added some speed foods and obviously your rice (if you wanted to be really clever you could do cauliflower rice to get even more speed foods on there). One tip I have for this one is that you need to let it stand for 5 minutes or so once it's cooked otherwise it does appear quite watery, trust me the wait pays off because the sauce thickens up beautifully. I'd give this a 9/10 (would have had a 10 if it came with rice)

Overall I'm absolutely loving the fact that Slimming World have teamed up with Iceland to do some ready meals and I can say with absolute certainty that they are in a different league to the Weight Watchers ones in taste, portion size and the fact that they're totally Syn free! The only slight down side is that they retail at £3 each which is on the pricey side for a ready meal but at the moment they're on offer at 2 for £5 which makes them a little cheaper. To be honest, I personally don't mind paying the £3 because I know that the ingredients are the best, the meat is the leanest you'll get in a ready meal and overall they're just superior to other microwave meals. 

Have you tried these yet? I'd love to know your thoughts

Subscribe: Blog Lovin' | Twitter | YouTube

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Simplified Skincare Routine

I think we're all a bit guilty of slapping product after product onto our face with the mentality that more equals better looking skin but just lately I've really cut back on the products I use on my face on a day to day basis and I have to say that not only am I loving not having to spend so much time, I'm also loving how my skin has been reacting to it. I've cut it right back to just two products both morning and night with two midweek face masks.

REN Clearcalm Clay Cleanser (£19.00) - This is an old favourite which I first bought around 2 years ago and I decided to get myself another bottle after I ran out of my Bee Good Cream Cleanser because I just fancied a bit of a change. This is still working just as well for me as it did when I first bought it; removing makeup and leaving my skin feeling fresh and clean whilst keeping it as clear as it's going to be. If you know REN then you'll know that they don't contain any parabens, sulphates, mineral oils or synthetic fragrances so they're generally good if you have problem skin, I also find this really calming on any redness I might have due to the clay element. I did a full REN Clearcalm Clay Cleanser review if you fancy a more in depth read into it.

Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus* (£32.00) - It's been just over a month since I started using this and I've been 100% loving it which has surprised me because if I'd have had to pick from the range of products on the Jurlique website I definitely would not have chosen this. It was actually picked for me by one of the experts at Jurlique because I mentioned that although I have an oily t-zone, I also have dehydrated cheeks which is where this product excels because it addresses both problems. The water-gel formula is brilliantly lightweight and doesn't over moisturise the areas where I don't need it but the Rosehip oil targets the dehydrated areas to leave my face with just the right amount of moisture everywhere.

Superfacialist by Una Brennan Anti Blemish Mask (£8.99) & Jurlique Purifying Mask* (£45.00) - I use each of these on a weekly rotation basis because I like how both of them make my skin feel although I do think that the Jurlique one is a little gentler on my skin and they're both very different in terms of how they apply and what they look like but as I say they both work well for me. I do think the Una Brennan one is marginally better for helping with blemishes due to the salicylic acid content but as for a deep cleanse Jurlique does a great job.

Each and every one of these products deserves a full review so I will get round to that at some point but in the meantime I just wanted to let you all know how much I'm loving my skincare cut backs. It's shown me that less can be more where skincare is concerned and that layering lotions and potions doesn't mean that your skin is going to look or feel any better. I obviously know that cleanser and moisturiser are an absolute essential to me but as anything else is a bit of a bonus really, not that i'm suggesting that I'll never pick up a toner, facial mist or a liquid exfoliant ever again though, that'd be a bit daft.

Have any of these ever been in your skincare routine?

Subscribe: Blog Lovin' | Twitter | YouTube
© Girl Up North. All rights reserved.