Review: Marley Spoon.

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Marley Spoon*# is a food subscription service that promises to make cooking easier by delivering everything that you need to cook delicious meals directly to your door.

Marley Spoon is perfect for busy people that struggle to find the time to meal plan and grocery shop. By delivering only the exact amount of every ingredient required for each meal, Marley Spoon takes the guesswork out of grocery shopping and allows you to say goodbye to food wastage forever!

I was sent a sample Marley Spoon*# box to trial and review. It contained the ingredients for two meals – Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with Roasted Chickpeas and Mushroom Miso Risotto with Sesame and Spinach.

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The box contained three bags: one bag for each recipe and a cooler bag for ingredients that need to be chilled. Detailed recipe cards were also included explaining exactly what you need to do to prepare each meal.

I decided to prepare both meals on the same night with the soup being the entrée and  the risotto being the main meal. I am pleased to report that the recipes were easy-to-follow and the ingredients were all of very high quality. Since I only have my husband myself to cook for, there were plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

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The Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with Roasted Chickpeas.

I don’t usually make soup, mainly because I have no idea how to get the amount of ingredients and consistency right, but following the Marley Spoon recipe card made preparing the Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with Roasted Chickpeas super easy! My husband and I were both happy with the flavours. It is a very hearty soup and it could easily be a meal on its own.

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The Mushroom Miso Risotto with Spinach and Sesame.

The Risotto was easy to prepare and tasted delicious. I was a big fan of the Miso and Sesame favours. My husband doesn’t usually like risotto very much, but he loved this recipe!

Marley Spoon have kindly offered readers of my blog $35 off! All you need to do is click here# to order and start making dinner time so much easier!

Have you ever tried Marley Spoon? What did you think of it? 

*All products in this post were provided for my review.  This has not influenced my views in any way.  Please read my PR & Disclosure Policy for more information.

#Affiliate link. I will make a small commission from any sales made using this link at no extra cost to you.

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Review: Liverpool St Subscription Box.

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If you’ve ever had a period, you’ll know that the arrival of your monthly visitor doesn’t always sync up with your most recent purchase of tampons.

Hands-up if you’ve ever frantically rushed to the supermarket to buy your monthly supply (or sent a loved one on the mission) just so you can go about your day? I know I’ve been there and it can certainly throw a busy day out of whack.

Imagine if tampons were magically delivered to your door once a month? You’d never have to put your plans on hold to stock-up again!

Well, good news folks, because Liverpool St* does exactly that!

Liverpool St* offers a monthly subscription service in which two boxes of organic tampons (in your preferred absorbency) are delivered to your door each month in a discreet (and very cute) box.

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Why organic tampons? Well, just like how we try to avoid nasty chemicals in the food we eat and the beauty products we use, it is a good idea to make sure that the products we use in our most intimate areas are as chemical-free as possible.

According to the Liverpool St* press release, “the majority of tampons on the market are laden with toxins and chemicals that absorbed into the bloodstream once they are inserted.”

Scary stuff, right?

I was sent two Liverpool St* subscription boxes to trial and review. It was my first time trying organic tampons and I couldn’t help but notice that they are so much more comfortable than other tampon brands I’ve tried. I wonder if my body has disagreed with other brands for years and I just didn’t know that there were better options out there?

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According to Liverpool St*, organic tampons are made from 100% cotton, are hypoallergenic and won’t disturb your body’s PH levels. So it is possible that organic tampons are just a better option for me.

In addition to the products being great, I also love Liverpool St’s packaging*. The exterior cardboard box is very cute and is sealed with a sticker that says “Positive Vibes Only” on it. I love this because menstrual cycles are unfortunately often a taboo topic so I am a big supporter of brands that endeavour to make getting your period a more positive experience. The tampon boxes themselves are rectangular and slender so they can easily fit in any bag or pocket and I love the on-trend pastel colour scheme.

If you’re interested in giving organic tampons a go and want the convenience of a monthly delivery service, all you have to do is sign up on the Liverpool St* website. At this stage, Liverpool St* only deliver within Australia but according to their website, they are hoping to expand to other areas soon.

You can choose between a Mixed Bundle (1 box of super tampons and 1 box of regular tampons), a Regular Bundle (2 boxes of regular tampons) and a Super Bundle (2 boxes of super tampons.) Each bundle costs just $8.90AUD plus $3.30AUD postage.

*All products in this post were provided for my review.  This has not influenced my views in any way.  Please read my PR & Disclosure Policy for more information.

Stay in touch!

– Like on Facebook: here

– Follow on twitter: @ms_clairey_d

– Follow on Instagram: @claire.defreitas

– Follow on Pinterest: @msthisnthatblog

 

 

 

 

2015 Resolutions Progress Report

Image: Google

Image: Google

I started the year with a lot of enthusiasm to make changes to my life.  You might remember this enthusiasm from posts such as ‘My 2015 Resolutions,’ ‘How I’m Making My Resolutions a Reality Part 1: Eating Less and Exercising More’ and ‘How I’m Making My Resolutions a Reality Part 2: Reducing Wardrobe Stress.’  If you read that last sentence in The Simpsons’ Troy McClure’s voice, I salute you.

One of the many promises I made myself was to blog about my progress here monthly to keep myself accountable…that did not happen.  This is my first 2015 progress report post.  Apologies if you’ve been hanging out for updates.

So what took me so long?  Have I failed spectacularly and thrown in the towel a quarter of the way through the year?  I am very pleased to say “no.”  I’ve been very goal-orientated all year and I’m feeling like I’m in a much better place emotionally than I was in 2014.

My progress has had a lot of up-and-downs though and I just haven’t been ready to put everything on virtual paper.  Instead I’ve stuck to fun posts like event recaps, products reviews and book reviews.

Let me finally update you on my progress for each resolution:

  • To eat less junk food and exercise more.

I have managed to do more exercise and eat less junk food every, single week this year so far and I am so proud of that.  There hasn’t been one week when I didn’t get to the gym at least twice (my goal is get there five times a week) and I’ve been planning (and prepping) all my meals in advance using the menu planner I discussed in this post.  

Dealing with emotional eating is still a constant struggle and I know that it sets me back.  I can eat all the right meals and do the hard work at the gym and still crave a bowl of ice cream or too much chocolate after dinner.  The influx of chocolately gifts into our house after Easter didn’t help either.

My weight and measurements have gone down and up again.  I know that, as a woman, hormones play a big factor but I wish I was seeing more obvious results.

Starting today I’m going to really focus on beating my emotional eating habit and ensure that I’m feeding my sweet tooth with healthier options such as Greek yogurt with berries, a small portion of dark chocolate or fruit.

I’m also going to try adding more cardio to my fitness regime and see if that helps.

  • To maintain a better work/life balance. 

Considering I teach part-time, study part time and do the majority of the home duties, I think I’m doing pretty well in this area.  I’ve stuck to cutting back my hours at work, which has allowed me more time to complete my uni assignments at a relaxed pace.

My social life is suffering though and I find it difficult to find the time or energy to go out for a girls’ night.  I spend a lot of my Saturday nights catching-up on homework, wanting to cry every time I check Facebook and see all the fun things my friends are doing.  I know this needs to change.  I need to find more time for fun.

  • To make more time for ‘me’: meditation, Reiki, adequate sleep and pampering.

I’m slowly learning to schedule ‘me time’ and my mental health is thanking me for it.

I don’t meditate enough though.  Whenever I do it I feel amazing, but I always manage to forget to schedule time for it.  This needs to change.

Reiki is a part of my daily life and keeps me sane.

I’ll never be a good sleeper, but I’m learning to force myself to go to bed before midnight on work nights, and as a result I’m feeling much more energised in the morning.

Pampering also keeps me sane, as crazy as that sounds.  I especially enjoy the sort of pampering where you don’t need to talk; it’s almost a kind of meditation for me.  I’ve started investing in weekly massages, which both my back and mind are loving, and I want to start adding monthly facials to my budget and routine.

  • To reduce wardrobe (i.e. I have NOTHING to wear!) stress.

This is probably the resolution I’m doing best at achieving.  I’ve cleared out my wardrobe of any clothes that weren’t serving me anymore and filled it with clothes that make me look and feel great at my current shape and size.

My Outfit Planner, as discussed in this post, has helped me immensely and I still use it every day.  This proves to me that an organised life is a happy life.

  • To graduate university.

I’m getting great marks so far.  If I keep up the good work, I’m sure this will happen.

  • To continue to run a flourishing business and find new ways to make it better.

So far, so good!  I’m not going to go into detail because I’m not here to brag, but I know that the positives of both my blog and my teaching business’ growth this year outweigh the negatives.  Considering that finishing university needs to be my first priority right now, I’m really happy with that.

So that brings me to the end of my first 2015 Progress Report.  Hopefully it won’t take me four months to write another one!

Before writing this post I was feeling pretty disappointed with myself for not losing more weight by now.  After assessing the progress of all my resolutions, I see that I’m actually doing pretty well with making changes to my life.  I kind of feel proud actually!

Since my study, business, mental health and style goals are going pretty well, I feel ready to give my diet the focus I need.  Surely this will help me as I work towards feeling better in my own skin.

How are your resolutions going?  I’d love to hear about them!  Comment below or contact me via social media.  If you feel like you’re back at square one, pick yourself up and try again!

There are eight months of this year left, let’s make them great!  We can do this!

Image: Google

Image: Google

RECIPE: Cornbread Pizza

Ever since I included eating better in my New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve been discovering lots of delicious, healthy recipes.  I’ve been sharing my creations on social media and they’ve been receiving lots of attention; so I thought, why not share some of my favourite recipes with my readers?

Let’s face it, everyone loves pizza.  For me it holds special cultural significance due to my Italian background.  Eating pizza reminds me of family gatherings in my childhood when my Nonna would make massive platters of her famous secret recipe pizza which we would all dive into.  Unfortunately, store bought or restaurant pizzas are often covered in fattening toppings and white pizza dough isn’t a great staple food for the carb conscious.

In the past I’ve attempted to make pita bread pizzas as a healthier alternative, but it’s just not the same as a crispy-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside ‘real’ pizza base.

When I stumbled across a recipe for Gluten-Free Vegan Pizza Crust on the Move Nourish Believe website, I was inspired to see if I could come up with something similar.  Please note that my pizza crust recipe is not vegan, as I used Greek yogurt as an alternative to yeast for extra fluffiness.  If you want fluffy vegan crust you could add a teaspoon of baking soda and/or a dash of soda water; adjusting recipes is all about experimenting to find what works!

As I’ve never made dough before, and healthier ingredients can be quite temperamental, I was terrified that I would fail spectacularly at making a healthier pizza, but I was very happy with the result!  Just like a traditional pizza, this recipe is full of flavour and very filling.

Go on, try it yourself!

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Cornbread Pizza [makes about 8 slices] 

INGREDIENTS 

THE BASE

  • 2 handfuls of roasted sweet potato slices
  • 1 cup of corn flour
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flakes
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • Sprinkle of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of LSA powder
  • 1 tablespoon of Mixed Herbs
  • 3 tablespoons of Greek yogurt

THE TOPPINGS

You can recreate any of the traditional favourites or try something new.  I gave my pizza a gourmet twist by using left over Moroccan Tofu Tagine from the night before.  You can see the recipe here (please note I substituted the chicken in the original recipe for tofu and I didn’t use beans.)

I also added a handful of lean leg ham and a handful of grated mozzarella.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. In a good quality blender or food processor, mash the roasted sweet potato slices (I used the small jug of my Ninja Food Processor.)
  3. In a small bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons of LSA with 4 tablespoons of water.  Put it aside to sit for five minutes.
  4. In large bowl, combine the mashed sweet potato with the soaked LSA, corn flour, quinoa flakes salt, pepper and mixed herbs.  Stir to combine.  The mixture should be a little bit dry but sticking together slightly.
  5. Stir through three tablespoons of Greek Yogurt.
  6. Spread the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Aim for a medium sized round pizza and make the edges a little thicker than the centre to hold your toppings in place and create a delicious crust!
  7. Sprinkle your toppings of choice evenly over the pizza base.  I spread the Morrocan Tofu Tagine over the base first then sprinkled the ham and mozzarella on top.  Add an extra sprinkle of salt and pepper, if you wish.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the toppings and edges of the base are crisp.
  9. Once slightly cooled, slice and enjoy your healthy pizza! Nom nom nom nom.
Tried to get a close-up of the deliciousness.

Tried to get a close-up of the deliciousness.

Let me know if you try out the recipe!  Would love to hear your thoughts and see some pics of your creations!

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Keep in touch!

How I’m making my resolutions a reality Part 1: Eating less and exercising more

So, why am I STILL blabbing on about my new year’s resolutions when it’s February?

*Dramatic pause*

…because I am STILL sticking to them and am determined to continue to do so!  Also, I figure if I share my journey of chasing my goals, maybe I can give you ideas to help you achieve your’s.  Maybe, you’ll even feel less alone as I share the honest truth of my ups and downs on my road to success.  If you’ve fallen off the bandwagon of your resolutions already, and trust me I’ve done it many times in the past, maybe this post will encourage you to pick yourself up and try again (bonus points to you if that awesome Aaliyah song is now stuck in your head.) It’d be an honour if this post helps you in any way.

In this post I’m going to share the changes I’ve made in my life which I’m hoping will help me achieve one of my biggest goals for the year – to lose weight and tone up so I feel better in my own skin and like how I look in photos more.  As someone whose weight has fluctuated A LOT ever since hitting puberty, I know what is takes for me to stay slim.  It’s the very basic principle of eating less (especially when it comes to junk food) and exercising more.  When life gets busy, I get lazy and before I know it I’m madly untagging Facebook photos where my [insert body part here] looks big.  As I mentioned in my 2015 resolutions post, I utterly exhausted myself in 2014 so I got super lazy when it came to health and fitness.  I’ve spent my summer break putting some simple new habits in place which should keep me on track when life gets busy again.  Here they are in no particular order:

  • Preparing a weekly Menu Plan, Food Preparation Schedule and Shopping List every Sunday before doing the groceries. 

As Ashy Bines (and Benjamin Franklin, as Google taught me) says (or said in Franklin’s case), “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and I couldn’t agree more.  You know what it’s like, you get home from work after a crazy day and inspect the dinner options in the fridge.  You have no defrosted protein options and nothing but a lone, squishy zucchini greets you in the vegetable compartment.  Suddenly take away seems like the best option.  Or, you’ve finished dinner and feel like something sweet.  Luckily your house is full of chocolate/chips/ice cream and you eat until you’re stuffed while watching a ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ marathon.  To avoid these moments of weakness YOU HAVE TO BE PREPARED FOR THEM and have healthier, easy and delicious options at-the-ready.  This is why I plan my meals at the start of the week.  Sure, it takes the spontaneity out of life a little, but the time and money I save is oh so satisfying.

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An example of a past weekly meal plan

It’s very easy to create a table in Microsoft Word or Apple Pages with the days of the week listed down the side and meals/snacks listed across the top.  Apple Numbers even has an awesome Meal Planner template where you can just fill in the blanks (pictured above.)  Every Sunday afternoon I find the time to sit down with this template open; a list of the protein, veggies and fruit currently in my fridge, freezer and pantry; and my iPhone with a Shopping List app open.

Variety is the spice of life so I am constantly looking for new healthy meal and snack options.  Some of my favourite recourses for finding new recipes are:

  • Ashy Bines Clean Eating Recipe Book.  You can learn more about it here.
  • The Healthy Chef Website. 
  • Organise Yourself Skinny Website. 
  • The Body and Soul lift-out in the Sunday Herald Sun
  • Google!  Seriously!  Put the word ‘clean’ or ‘healthy’ before any of your favourite meals, click search and you’ll find someone has probably already posted a recipe for it.

I make sure I also have my recipes on the table or computer screen so any items I don’t have in the fridge, freezer or pantry can go straight onto my shopping list.  There’s lots of fancy shopping list apps out there but I love ‘ShopShop’ because it was free and by tapping the screen you can cross items off as you buy them, which I find just as satisfying as crossing items off a good old-fashioned paper list.  I never leave my house without my phone so switching to a shopping list app has prevented the frustration of leaving my list at home and forgetting half of it.

Eating healthy can be tough because using fresh ingredients usually involves a lot of preparation such as defrosting meat and chopping-up vegetables.  This is why I look at my weekly schedule (which for me is in my iPhone calander) and work out the days when I have time for prep and when I haven’t.  I make a list of the prep I need to do each day.  For example, preparing two dinners on one night because I know I won’t have time the following night or chopping-up certain vegetables the night before a long work day.  Living this way can be tiring but it will keep me on track and away from the temptation of take away after a long day of work.

As soon as I have finished my Menu Plan and Meal Preparation Schedule, I print them out and stick them on the fridge so I can check them whenever I need too.  Also, having them on the fridge makes me feel INCREDIBLY guilty if I slip-up and I’m determined to follow the plan for the next meal or the next day.

It is important to know your food weakness or regular cravings and organise healthier options as part of your food preparation schedule.  For me, I have a massive sweet tooth, so I make healthy muesli bars and muffins and always have a jar of Stevia Hot Chocolate on standby.

  • Allowing myself cheat/treat meals

I refuse to live the rest of my life feeling deprived and tempted to binge eat, so I schedule my cheat meals in advance and savour every bite.  Scheduling my treats insures that I don’t overdo it or try to sneak them in every day.

  • Staying well-hydrated

I’m sure you’ve heard of all the benefits of staying well-hydrated so I won’t list them all here.  I make sure that I drink two to three litres of water a day and I carry a reusable BPA free drink bottle wherever I go.  I also believe in the power of Alkaline Water and I love my Kangen Water machine.  You can learn more about Kangen Water here.  

  • Scheduling workouts as if they are appointments 

We all live busy lives and personally, if an event isn’t in my iCal (iPhone calander), it doesn’t exist. Why should workouts be any different?  I’ve created workout events in my iCal which repeat weekly and set alert alarms for one hour before.  I also include a short description of what I’ll be doing at the gym in each iCal event so I have a plan of attack and use my workout time effectively.

For me, the trickiest part of scheduling my workouts was figuring out when I can realistically get to the gym.  If you’re thinking of setting time apart on the same days/times each week for your workouts, you need to have an honest conversation with yourself.  Make sure you at least ask yourself the following questions (feel free to swap the word gym for park, bootcamp, lounge room, backyard, or wherever it is you work out):

  1. At what time of the day do I enjoy working out the most?
  2. Can I fit in a workout at that time of day (including travel time)?  If not, when is the next best time that I can fit a workout in?
  3. Will I need to go to school/work/uni straight from the gym and am I comfortable doing that?
  4. What do I need to bring to the gym so I can go straight to school/work/uni? (Clothes, towel, toiletries, lunch, books etc.)
  5. How will this affect my morning/afternoon/evening routine?  How will I need to shuffle other activities?
  6. How many times do I want to/can I workout?  Which day will be my rest day?

If you find this list a little crazy, that’s cool, maybe I am a little crazy!  BUT, I have failed at getting to the gym SO MANY TIMES and some of the reasons why were due to crappy scheduling.  I know myself better now and I know that my workouts need to be in the morning or early afternoon so I’m not too tired to enjoy them and, with my current work schedule, I don’t deal well with getting-up before 6.30am.  I also can’t stand showering and getting changed at the gym, so I need to allow time to go home and get ready for work.  My schedule is working well for me so far, so give my crazy questionnaire a go.  Give yourself no room for excuses to skip a workout.  Honesty is always the best policy, especially when it comes to self-talk.

  • Surrounding myself with inspiration and fitspiration

Find a motivational quote that cliques with you, or an image of your dream body type (make sure it’s a realistic goal ie. if you’re short, you’ll never wake up with legs that go for days no matter how hard you workout and eat well; trust me, I’ve tried).  Stick this image or quote anywhere that it could motivate you; such as on your fridge, in your wardrobe or set it as your phone and/or computer wallpaper.  My fitspo is an image Kourtney Kardashian before babies because she is short and curvy like myself so I feel her body type is a realistic goal.  I’ve put a picture of the beautiful celebrity on my fridge; on the box of junk food at the bottom of my cupboard and on the drawer where I keep my gym clothes.  Her image reminds me that no matter how much I want to eat that ice cream or chocolate bar or avoid that workout, I want to feel fit and healthy much more.  I also follow lots of clean eating, health and exercise pages on social media to ensure my newsfeeds are full of good influences.

Thanks for reading this post about how I’m making my resolution to get fit and healthy a reality.  Comment below if you have any other ideas for me, I’m certainly not an expert!  I hope I’ve given you some good suggestions on how to tackle your diet and fitness goals.

Till next time,

Claire x