My top three tips for aspiring vegetarians

Ever since I fell in love with the vegetarian lifestyle little over a year ago, I’ve been aspiring to convert to a plant-based way of life.

Throughout my journey thus far, I’ve encountered a couple of struggles along the way. I’ve also, of course, made a couple of mistakes.

To save any new vegetarians a ton of time, energy and frustration, take a look at the top three mistakes that meat-free eaters tend to make!

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Three tips for aspiring vegetarians

#1: Don’t replace meat with cheese

Seriously – put down the cheese! Replacing meat with cheese may seem like a no-brainer at first, but it’s a trap – just trust me on that. When I first gave up meat, I panicked and was stressed I’d become deficient in protein, so I turned to cheese to up my intake.

Initially, I thought it was fantastic – I was eating lots of delicious, cheesy things such as cheese fries, nachos, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches and veggie pizzas. If a meal contained vegetables and cheese, I was on it like white on rice. And then, after about three months, I realised that I was piling on weight…

You see, cheese is a processed food and it’s very high in fat. Therefore, it offers very few health benefits. And, because the human body wasn’t designed to ingest other animal’s bodily fluids, it doesn’t quite agree with it. So when you start consuming cheese regularly, you’re pretty much just rebelling against your body’s natural process. In the long-term, this can lead to myriad health problems.

I know that cheese is awesome and hard to resist, but go easy on it!

#2: Fill up on carbs

You might’ve heard the long-standing myth that your body needs massive amounts of protein to drop weight, but this actually isn’t at all true. While your body needs protein to stay in balance, what it’s actually crying out for is carbohydrates. So I say, “bring on the carbs!” (Seriously – forget what the Atkins Diet told you)

Now, when I say carbs, I’m not talking about cake, doughnuts, bread, bagels and pasta. Rather, I’m referring to fruits and veggies, beans, nuts and rice. Such carbs are natural, derived directly from the earth, and aren’t in any way processed. In the case of white flour, it’s bleached, processed and stripped of al its beneficial nutrients. So even though flour is technically vegan and vegetarian, it’s unnatural.

I get it – white flour is cheap and versatile, but there are healthy, natural alternatives that are so much better for your body that won’t up your risk of disease and weight gain. Experiment with almond flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour and rice flour. They’re loaded with nutrients and are just as tasty in your favourite dishes!

Swapping out meat for vitamin- and mineral-rich carbs will keep your cravings at bay. They’ll also promote better overall health and keep your diet healthy and balanced!

#3: Stay away from frozen foods

When you first start your plant-based journey you may be tempted to buy readymade frozen veggie burgers and the like. I get that it’s far quicker and easier to do this then prepare a fresh plant-based meal from scratch, but are you aware of how unhealthy these frozen foods actually are?

That’s right – they may taste great, but just like cheese and flour, they’re processed products, which are bad for your health. And they also kind of contradict one of the main things you should be aiming to achieve by switching over to a plant-based diet. Why, you ask? Because they lack nutrients, vitamins and all the other good stuff that food directly from the garden contains, that’s why!

The bottom line: Make your own plant-based meals!

Don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen – it can actually be lots of fun! Buy yourself a vegan or vegetarian cookbook and commit to making your own natural, plant-based meals. Your health (and your waistline) will thank you!

Share your top tips for succeeding as a vegetarian with me in the comments below!

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Why you should start using coconut oil as toothpaste

You’ve heard it already – coconut oil has endless uses. But one you may be unaware of is that it’s an incredible base for toothpaste!

Conventional toothpastes are packed with harmful chemicals and agents, but alternative natural formulas are expensive.

So why not start using coconut oil as toothpaste as an affordable alternative that’s excellent for your oral health? Here are three reasons why you should make the switch ASAP.

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Three benefits of brushing your teeth with coconut oil

#1: It’s completely natural

As already mentioned, one of the biggest downsides to traditional toothpastes is the harsh chemicals that they contain. Some toothpastes even provide a warning on the label that tells you to call poison control if you swallow some. If it’s not safe to swallow, do you really want to be using it?

Coconut oil, on the other hand, is completely natural. It contains no harmful chemicals and is actually super-healthy to eat, so if you swallow some, it would only benefit your health!

#2: It’s anti-bacterial

Coconut oil has powerful anti-bacterial properties and is very effective at killing the bad bacteria in your mouth. I like to think of it as Mother Nature’s mouthwash!

Oil pulling, which entails swishing coconut oil around in your mouth, will in fact give you the same effect as a traditional mouthwash. It’s a fantastic practice to adopt to improve your oral health.

#3: It contains no foaming agents

Toothpastes commonly contain a soap called sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). It’s used as a foaming agent to give people the illusion that the toothpaste is cleaning their teeth simply because it’s foaming up.

However, SLS has been linked to canker sores, a very painful oral problem that you surely don’t want to deal with.

Try out these raw superfood bars for a delicious on-the-go breakfast!

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Failing to start your day with a nutritious meal will only lead to a lack of energy, decreased productivity levels and pesky cravings late in the day. And you don’t want that, now, do you?

I came across this downright delicious recipe for raw superfood bars a couple of months ago and have been making them almost weekly ever since. I can’t seem to get enough of them!

These tasty bars are far more budget-friendly than store-bought versions, only take a couple of minutes to make, and are perfect for an on-the-go breakfast. Because sometimes we just don’t have the time before work to cook up a big brekkie, right?

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. Enjoy!

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Raw superfood energy bars recipe

Makes: 6 bars

You’ll need:

  • 8 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp virgin organic coconut oil, softened
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • Dash of salt

Optional ingredients:

  • Coconut butter, softened

What to do:

  1. Combine the dates, sunflower seeds, almonds, shredded coconut, coconut oil and salt in your food processor or blender.
  2. Blend the ingredients on high-speed until a textured batter is formed (should take two to three minutes). If the blending becomes difficult, start with one tablespoon of coconut oil and then add more as needed.
  3. Transfer the batter to a bowl and stir in the chia seeds and cacao nibs.
  4. Use your hands to form the batter into a rectangular shape on a baking sheet. It should be 1 cm to 1.5 cm thick.
  5. Place in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to let it harden, then remove and slice into six bars.
  6. If you’re using coconut butter, drizzle or spread it on top for added deliciousness.

You can store your energy bars in the fridge for up to four days.

A dining experience that’s simply 2Thai4!

A decade ago, the average Joburger would be hard-pressed to name 10 destination-worthy Thai restaurants. However, as our city’s collective palate has expanded, so too have the options for this tantalising cuisine, so I recently made it my mission to find the very best Thai food in Joburg. Unexpectedly, I found it at a tremendously charming little eatery tucked away on Corlett Drive – say hello to 2Thai4!

I arrived at 2Thai4 a couple of weeks ago on a terribly chilly Friday evening with Nik, my boyfriend, for dinner. As we stepped inside, we were warmly welcomed by the friendly staff. I was immediately delighted by the creative yet somewhat homey interior – think lots of bright colours, authentic Thai décor, and a wonderful, big fireplace! It all made for a wonderfully relaxed and cosy atmosphere – just perfect for a freezing cold night.

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To kick off the evening, Nik and I ordered up a round of Singha beers. I’m not a beer drinker as such, but I’ve got to say that I really enjoy those refreshing Thai brews! To eat, we decided we’d share two starters between the two of us; the Po Pia Tord (Thai spring rolls filled with shrimp) and Moo Satay (chicken satay). Our starters came out quickly and hit the spot just perfectly! The spring rolls were crisp with a flavourful filling, while the chicken was perfectly tender and the peanut sauce that accompanied it was ever so moreish.

For mains, I then decided on the Phad Thai Song Keung (stir-fried noodles with prawns, bean sprouts, chives, onions, garlic, eggs and peanuts), and Nik went for the Gaeng Keow Wan (their famous green curry with chicken, coconut milk and bite-size vegetables). All I can is wow … my dish was out of this world! I thoroughly enjoyed the interesting mix of flavours and textures. The base sauce of the dish was simply sublime, and there was a generous portion of prawns in there, too.

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Nik’s curry, on the other hand, was also incredible. I don’t do super-spicy food so I was hesitant to try it at first, but I’m glad I did. Once again, the flavours were perfect and it was such a satisfying dish that I might even consider ordering it the next time that we visit! I might also add that the portions were huge, so we weren’t able to finish our dishes. However, you’ll be glad to know that the leftovers made for a delicious lunch the next day!

All in all, I had an incredible meal at 2Thai4 and will certainly be back time and time again to satisfy my Thai food cravings that tend to hit around this chilly time of year. The menu is extensive with a mouth-watering variety of authentic options, the food is honest, simple and pure quality, the service is attentive and friendly, and the place itself is sure to have you feeling as if you’re dining in one of those glorious Thai eateries in the heart of Bangkok.

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The next time you find yourself dying for something spicy or soul-warming, head over to this awesome little place. It’s the perfect spot to keep warm this winter – trust me on that! If you’ve already paid them a visit, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

PS: 2Thai4 “spiced” up their menu last month. Be sure to visit soon to try out some of the yummy new additions!

DETAILS:

Address: 59 Corlett Drive, Melrose, Johannesburg

Phone number: 011 440 3000

Website: http://www.2thai4.co.za

Indulge in an evening riddled with romance at Maximillien Restaurant

When last did you and your partner treat yourselves to a romantic date night? I’m not talking about the mediocre kind, but rather the kind filled with top wines, fine food and live jazz in an intimate setting … for my partner and I, the last time was just last week at the ever-so-classy establishment that is Maximillien Restaurant situated in the Da Vinci Hotel and Suites right in the heart of Sandton – let me tell you all about it!

Nik, my boyfriend, and myself arrived at Maximillien Restaurant last Thursday at around 7pm. Upon arrival, we were served a round of champagne, which was the perfect way to set the mood for the evening ahead! I mean, who doesn’t just love a glass of bubbly? Our very kind and professional waiter then showed us to our table. The table for two was elegantly dressed with all white and was lit up by the glow of a candle … can you say intimate?

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To start off, I opted to order the Caprese salad (complemented with cherry tomatoes and bocconcini cheese drizzled with basil pesto), while Nik went for the flash-grilled baby calamari with garlic butter (paired with crispy mozzarella risotto). Our starters arrived at our table rather quickly and were both simply sublime! My salad was light and fresh, while Nik’s calamari, which I was lucky enough to steal a bite of, was remarkably tasty and I just loved risotto balls that came with it.

For mains, I then ordered the seared salmon with sesame crust (complemented with vegetable ratatouille and pesto mash) with a glass of my favourite chardonnay to go with it. Nik went the meat route, and decided to have the lamb chops (infused with rosemary and garlic BBQ basting) paired with a glass of merlot. When our mains arrived at our table, I was also tempted to tuck in without snapping photos first – that’s how divine they looked!

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My fillet of salmon was sumptuously fresh, and the sesame crust was something truly unique, which added a glorious texture to your normal old salmon dish. I also enjoyed every last mouthful of the sides that accompanied it. Nik said that his lamb chops were just as impressive, and that the BBQ basting that they were done in was something completely different that surprising complemented the dish amazingly well.

After finishing our mains, Nik and I decided to sit back with another round of wine and simply drink in the wonderfully elegant décor and the soft sounds of live jazz that filled the air. Sadly, we were too full to tuck into desserts, but we’ll sure we back soon to try some of the restaurant’s decadent offerings!

All in all, Nik and I had a fabulous evening out at Maximillien Restaurant. It really is one of the most elite spots in Sandton to indulge in a top-notch meal – the atmosphere is incredibly intimate, the décor and feel to the restaurant is elegant and exclusive, the food is sure to please even the most discerning palate, and the service is faultless!

PS: On Thursday evenings, Maximillien Restaurant has amazing local musicians perform who are sure to delight you and your date, so head on over for a pre-weekend razzle! If you’ve visited this divine restaurant already, please let me know what you thought of it – I’d love to hear from you!

DETAILS:

Address: Legacy Corner Mall, 2 Maude Street, Sandton CBD, Johannesburg

Phone number: 011 292 7111

Website: http://www.maximillien.co.za

My ten-minute morning make-up routine

I don’t know about you, but between finalising my outfit for the day and scrambling to make breakfast, I never find myself with loads of time to spend on primping in the mornings!

If you can relate to this everyday struggle, you’ve come to the right place. I’m spilling some of my best make-up secrets to get you prepped and pretty in less than ten minutes!

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Apply foundation

Who’s got time for prepping and priming their skin in the mornings? I know I don’t! That’s why I skip that step and head straight to applying foundation. I use a stipple brush to apply it because they get the job done fast and evenly.

Add a dab of concealer

If your skin still needs a bit more coverage in some areas, add a dab of concealer using your fingertip. It’s also a good idea to apply to under your eyes to brighten up tired eyes in a snap.

Brush on some blush

Using a large blush brush, apply just a dusting of a neutral tone blush to the apples of your cheeks, down your nose and the centre of your chin to give your face some dimension.

Set your brows

Filling in your brows with a pencil or powder can take serious time out of your morning, so opt to simply brush a tinted gel through your face-framers to get them looking chic instead. A brow gel will also set your brows to keep them in place all day.

Apply mascara

To perk up your eyes even more, apply mascara to your upper and lower lashes. If you’re a fair-toned girl, you may want to use a dark brown mascara instead of a black one to go with the rest of your toned-down look.

Add a touch of lipstick

Make your lips the star of your look by applying a bright or bold lipstick. If you’re not a loud lip kind of gal, you can choose to apply a clear lip oil or tinted lip balm instead.

Do you have any quick and easy steps to add to my morning make-up routine?

Travel-ready skin and hair products you’ve just got to have

If you’re anything like me, you often catch yourself dreaming of jetting off to somewhere fabulous for the weekend. You know, somewhere where you can soak up some sun, sip on delicious cocktails, take long walks on the beach, indulge in spa treatments and enjoy romantic dinners … you see, there I go again!

Okay, so maybe you’ll just be visiting somewhere local for a weekend away or a quick business trip and not a dreamy private island, but either way you’ve got to take your beloved beauty products along to stay fresh and fabulous.

These are my favourite travel-ready skin and hair products that are perfect for tossing into your carry-on so that looking glam will be on your itinerary no matter your destination!

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Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser

If you’ve got sensitive skin that’s prone to redness and irritation like I do, your skin is sure to adore this creamy gel cleanser. It’s especially ideal for using on those days when you’ve spent lots of time out in the sun or swimming in saltwater.

Essence My Skin Refreshing Toner

I love this toner because it’s light, hydrating and suitable for all skin types. It also smells like grapes, which is awesome, too! It’s handy for refreshing for your skin at any time of day as well as for removing excess make-up that’s left on your skin after using a make-up wipe.

Ordinary Skincare Day Cream SPF 30

For a healthy dose of hydration, all you need is one pump of this day cream that’s formulated with only the most skin-friendly all-natural ingredients. The sun-protective formula is a little thicker than most day creams, so I find that if you apply it early in the morning it keeps your skin fresh and plump all day. Plus, it doubles as a make-up primer!

Beauty Fix Radiant Makeup Finish Spray

This gorgeous-smelling make-up spray can be used in three ways – to prime your skin before applying make-up, to freshen up your make-up throughout the day, and to set your make-up to kept your look intact for hours. I personally love using it to freshen up my look the most – it lends skin the most beautiful glow, so there are no need for constant bronzer touch-ups!

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Mineraline Aloe Vera Mud Mask 70%

You never know when your skin may decide to break out, so it’s always handy to have a soothing facemask on hand! I love this one because the formula is enriched with genuine Dead Sea black mud, which calms and clear problem skin in a snap.

Moroccanoil Dry Shampoo

Every girl needs a bottle of dry shampoo stashed in her handbag … you don’t want to waste precious time washing and styling your locks, do you? I love this formula because it smells heavenly, degreases strands, and comes in two tints so it doesn’t leave behind that chalky cast that other types do.

Hask Keratin Protein Smoothing Shine Oil

Factors like too much time out in the sun, swimming in a chlorinated pool or too much heat styling can leave your hair looking drab and lifeless. This luxurious keratin-rich hair oil will hydrate your hair while lending it a gorgeous shine minus any oily residue. Using it regularly will also strengthen your hair in the long-term (bonus!).

Fudge Urban Iced Coconut Cocktail Hairspray

Sometimes it’s just more fuss-free and quicker to put your hair up, whether it’s in an elegant updo or a sleek ponytail. This natural-feeling hairspray provides a strong hold with anti frizz to keep any style in place. Plus, it smells just like a pina colada – can you say dreamy?

What are your go-to skin and hair products when you’re travelling?