Body Beautiful: Healthy Foods to make you Beautiful on the Outside and Inside (Guest)

guest | July 7, 2013 | By

(Today’s guest post is brought to you by Lisa Lowry.)
In today’s health conscious society we are constantly reminded of the importance of health, nutrition and eating well. It is thought that maintaining a sensible, well-balanced diet helps your body to get all of the nutrients that it needs to thrive – this means giving you energy, promoting general health and cell renewal, preventing obesity and lowering your chances of developing dangerous diseases. So as we can see, eating well is a must if you want to stay beautiful on the inside. But you already knew that didn’t you? What you perhaps didn’t know is that eating well can also benefit your outer appearance and it goes a lot deeper than simply suggesting that candy give you acne and burgers make you fat. There are actually a lot of surprising beauty benefits from numerous food products that can leave you feeling more attractive as well as healthier. So next time you’re planning a trip to the cosmetic store or beauty salon then why not pop along to the grocery store instead? Here are some of the areas that you can improve on and the foods you need to do so. Check out our recipe section for some of the ways that you can incorporate these foods into you daily meals.
A lady’s hair if often her pride and joy and to keep those locks looking luscious you need to load up on lentils. Rich in zinc, iron and protein these little legumes can be eaten by vegetarians and meat eaters alike. The best thing about lentils is that they are full of iron which helps the hair follicles process and absorb oxygen. In turn this makes hair fuller, richer and shinier along with preventing or at least delaying hair loss in a safe and natural way. Salmon and walnuts are also great food products for the hair as both are rich is essential oils that can replenish the hair if it is lacking in natural moisture. Too much can leave hair looking lank and greasy but when eaten in moderation foods that are high in essential fatty oils such as Omega-3 can also help increase elasticity in hair and prevent it from becoming brittle and snapping. This is particularly helpful extreme weather such as the sizzling heat of summer and the frostiness of winter – both of which can leave your hair fragile, frazzled and easily breakable.
Over time our skin can begin to loose elasticity and this is when wrinkles and sagging occur. In order to regulate the body’s natural collagen you need a lot of vitamin C in your diet. We all know that oranges and citrus fruits are a great source of this, but did you know that berries are even better? Packed full of antioxidants and nutrients, strawberries and blueberries are hailed as the next ‘super food’ for the sheer amount of goodness crammed into such a tiny piece of fruit. As well as helping with the firmness of the skin, vitamin C can help fight against the redness of acne as it is the number one immune system booster and the immune system is responsible for toning down inflammation in infected areas of the body. If you want a super skin friendly breakfast then add some natural yoghurt to your berries. Full of amino acids, yogurt is thought to eliminate dark circles under the eyes.
If you are deficient in a particular vitamin or mineral, your nails may be one of the first areas of your body to let you know. Brittle nails are a clear sign that you are lacking in something. Because nails are mostly made up of protein, keeping your protein levels high through dairy products, red meat and fruit/vegetables is important. Similarly to hair, nails also thrive with a lot of iron and zinc in the diet.
Nothing will make you look and feel confident like a dazzling smile and to achieve this you need to take care of your ivory. Calcium is important for teeth and this can be found in most dairy products. Cheese is particularly helpful as it encourages the flow of saliva as well as replenishing the minerals that other food may take from the teeth. You should also munch on a stick of celery from time to time as this crunchy, high fiber greenery encourages saliva production which in turn neutralizes acids in the mouth and (as a bonus) freshens breath. FYI, if you are a man then celery also contains a particular compound which is lost through the sweat glands and acts as a pheromone to women making you appear irresistible. True story.
A woman’s worst nightmare: the dreaded orange peel effect, officially known as cellulite. This lumpy looking skin is caused when the under layers of the skin break and fat deposits becomes trapped. In order to prevent this from happening make sure you get your fill of broccoli which contains a substance that firms up the loose collagen responsible for causing cellulite. Hot foods such as chilies and cayenne peppers are also great as they keep blood flow and circulation active and chase them with lots of water which helps eradicate toxins from the body. Two liters a day is the recommended amount.

Top 5 Famous British Dishes (Guest)

beans, fish, guest | July 6, 2013 | By

(Today’s post is brought to you by a guest writer.)

For a long time, English food has earned itself a bit of a reputation and it’s not been a very positive one. However, times have moved on and today, traditional dishes that were once scorned at are prepared to perfection and served up in many top restaurants – even if they do enjoy slight variations and ways in which they are presented. Below are the top 5 most famous British dishes most people in the world have heard about even if they have never tasted them.

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The Full English Breakfast

1) The Full English Breakfast

Foreigners arriving on British shores often want to try out the Full English Breakfast they have heard so much about, and while some people are never disappointed at what they get on their breakfast plates, most visitors are a little bewildered. The Full English is a hearty meal with bacon, sausages, eggs, fried bread, black pudding, baked beans, mushrooms and fried tomatoes. All this is served up with rounds of toast and a pot of tea or coffee. It’s the sort of breakfast that sets a person up for the whole day – especially if they are not used to eating such a hearty meal first thing in the morning!

2) Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding

The Sunday roast as it is often referred to, consists of roast beef served up with roast potatoes, lots of vegetables and the traditional Yorkshire pudding. All this served with lashings of gravy not forgetting the ‘must have’ horseradish sauce which is a typical condiment to have with beef in the UK. These day’s lots of pubs and restaurants around the country serve up roast beef and Yorkshire pudding on any given day of the week – although traditionally this is only prepared on Sundays. Getting the Yorkshire pudding just right is a real skill that tests anyone’s cooking abilities!

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Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding

3) Friday Fish & Chips!

This is another British specialty that most people around the world have heard about. What they may not know is that chips were first prepared in the UK as long ago as the 1860s or so it is thought. British chips are much chunkier than French fries too! The fish served in Fish and Chip shops is battered and this is rather soft in texture, although there is a newer trend to have a crispy batter too. Fish & Chips have grown in popularity over recent years with some smart London restaurants only having this specialty on the menu!

4) Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie or Cottage pie as it is often called, is cooked meat that boasts a layer of mashed potato on top of it. Again, this is a very traditional British dish that dates back to the 18th century when potatoes were the staple diet for the poor. The meat used was any sort of left over roasted meat and originally the dish was called Cottage pie, only later becoming known as Shepherd’s pie. Shepherd’s pie is normally made with lamb while Cottage pie is usually made using minced beef.

5) Steak & Kidney Pudding

Steak and Kidney pudding is another wonderfully wholesome traditional British dish that consists of chunks of beef, kidneys, onions and gravy which is made into a pie using suet pastry although it can be made with a rough pastry too. When rough pastry is used the dish is called Steak and Kidney Pie. Traditionally, the gravy is made using ale or Guinness making it very thick and rich in flavor.


There are many wonderful traditional British dishes that people around the world have heard of, but never actually tasted. When visitors first arrive, they do love to try at least one of these dishes. The traditionally prepared specialties can be sampled in pubs and a few hotel restaurants although many of the well-known city restaurants do serve traditional British dishes albeit with an ultra-modern twist to them.

Image credits: peasap and Ewan-M

Author bio: This article has been brought to you on behalf of Roast Restaurant, our London bridge restaurants offer a unique dining experience and exquisite food.

Cooking for Queens Day (Guest)

guest | June 29, 2013 | By

(Today’s post is brought to you by a guest writer.)

While the UK recently enjoyed street parties and food fit for royalty for the Jubilee, in the Netherlands, every year there are nationwide festivities on Queens Day.

Not celebrated with such the same gusto in the UK, Queen’s Day is the current reigning monarch’s official birthday when the whole country holds street parties and comes together to have some fun. Orange is the colour adopted by the Netherlands so everything takes on the tangy tone for the day; all is included from party decorations to the food on the plates! 2013 will be the last Queen’s Day for a while as Queen Beatrix will be handing over the reins to her son, Willem-Alexander, so from 2014 onwards there will be a King’s Day instead.

Queen’s Day is a wonderful tradition which everyone can enjoy; here’s some regal recipes which are easy to prepare but are guaranteed to tickle the tastebuds.

A range of food/delicacies available to buy on Queens Day

Starter: Regal Orange Soup

Orange in colour rather than flavour, this brightly coloured bowl of delights can be enjoyed by all ages and is super-easy to prepare. To make it you will need:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 medium-sized pumpkin
  • 2 large carrots
  • Plain yoghurt
  • 1.3 litres of vegetable stock
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Salt and pepper as desired

Preheat your oven to 250°C then chop the pumpkin and squash into quarters and top and tail the carrots; there’s no need to worry about peeling first. Put the pumpkin, squash and carrot into the oven and roast until soft and tender; this could take up to an hour.

Whilst the root vegetables are roasting, soak the saffron threads in some hot water and warm up the vegetable stock in a large pot. This should be done just in time for the roasted veg to come out of the oven.

You should find you can simply scoop out the seeds and tough inner parts of the squash and pumpkin, leaving you with soft tender flesh. Using a spoon, remove this from the skin and add it to the stock (whilst on the heat). The skin on the carrots should simply peel away; once removed add the carrots to the pot too.

Add the saffron threads as well as the water it was soaking in (no more than a tablespoon should be used). Then remove it all from the heat and using a blender or food processor, simply blitz until you have a silky smooth and creamy soup.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with a generous spoonful of yoghurt.

Main course: Chicken with an orange and mustard sauce

Duck a l’orange is an obvious choice for Queen’s Day and a dish many Dutch people enjoy. However, for something a little different, chicken with a orange and mustard sauce offers a suitably

citrus alternative. The ingredients to make it are as follows:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 75g chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 400ml orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 30g butter
  • 4 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

Start by heating your oven to 190°C. Lay the chicken in a baking dish, cover with the mustard and the chopped onion. On top of this sprinkle half of the brown sugar and add sufficient orange juice to cover the chicken. Place the butter on top of the chicken.

After roasting for 45 minutes, remove from oven and pour the sauce into a separate pan. Use the rest of the sugar to cover the chicken and return to the oven.

Add the flour to the chicken juice mixture and pour in any remaining orange juice. Heat whilst gently whisking until the sauce is smooth and thick.

Take the chicken out of the oven and pour the sauce over for a tangy treat that is perfect served with seasonal veg.

Dessert: Oranjetompoes

A custard slice is a popular delicacy in many countries and Oranjetompoes is the Dutch version, jazzed up a bit to mark the orange theme which permeates every aspect of Queens Day food.

A meal where Oranje Tompoes slices are on the menu!

To make a batch yourself, you will need the following ingredients:

For the slice:

  • 25g flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 250 ml milk
  • 4 slices of frozen puff pastry
  • 40g sugar
  • Half a vanilla pod

For the orange glaze:

  • 100g icing sugar
  • orange food dye
  • some water

Turn the oven on to 220°C to preheat. Take a bowl and combine the egg yolks, flour and sugar and mix until you have a smooth paste.

In a separate pan place the milk and the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Once bubbling remove from the heat, take out the stick and scrape out the inside. Add this back to the milk and then slowly mix together with the egg, flour and sugar and place back onto the heat, gently simmering for around 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool; stir occasionally to prevent a skin developing.

Whilst the cream is cooling, place the four puff pastry sheets on a baking tray, pricking with a fork to stop it rising too much. Bake in the preheated oven for around 12 minutes or until golden.

Once this has been removed from the oven and is cooling, it’s time to make the glaze. Mix the icing sugar with a small amount of water and a few drops of food colouring. Add just a spoonful of water to start with and slowly increase until the glaze is thick but spreadable. It’s entirely up to you how much food colouring you add as it won’t affect the taste; aim for the shade of orange that you like!

Once the pastry is cool cut each sheet in half so you half 8 smaller rectangles. On four of the rectangles spread a generous dollop of the cream mixture. Smother the remaining four with the orange glaze.

All that remains is to pop the glazed rectangle over the top of the cream and voila! four delicious cream slices Dutch-style ready to enjoy for Queen’s Day.


Queen’s Day, or Koninginnedag as it is known in the Netherlands, is a day when the colour orange pervades everything you can see and when the locals party with their neighbours and tourists alike in a glorious day of celebration. The above three recipes are just three of the wonderful culinary treats which you could either enjoy on a trip to the Netherlands, or alternatively create your own mini festivities at home! The article was written by Nicholas Anthony, offering design for kitchens in London and Cambridge.

Image Credits: Michela Simoncini and Nathal