Friday, 9 May 2014

'I Quit Sugar'- The sugar detox programme

A change in my diet is something that I have been considering for a long time now and I know it has to be done as I'm constantly just filling my body with rubbish. My unhealthy eating habits are probably why I always feel sluggish and tired, why I have a very weak immune system and the condition of my skin. I'm pretty sure that I am genuinely addicted to sugar. I've tried to cut it out in the past, but I found it way too hard. I recently picked up a book, by Sarah Wilson, called 'I Quit Sugar' as I've seen it popping up on a few blogs recently. As well as eating clean in general, I would love to be able to kick my sugar habit once and for all.
I'm yet to read the book from cover to cover, but I've read quite a few sections and I found it so incredibly interesting. Before reading, it hadn't really dawned on me how poisonous sugar is for the body. I always thought that cutting out sugar would be pretty damn hard as when I've attempted to go cold turkey before I shoved some dairy milk in my mouth after a few hours (seriously!). I find myself always craving something sweet after every meal, I drink a lot of sugary drinks and juices, I'm constantly snacking on chocolate bars and cakes and I've had genuine mood swings if I haven't consumed sugar in a while. The thought of that is quite scary considering the major health issues that have been connected with refined sugar.
After a little skim through the book, I have managed to convince myself to try the 8-week detox programme to try and wean me off sugar. It doesn't seem that difficult as foods are gradually cut out and replaced with others until you go completely cold turkey. I like the thought that its a gradual process, so it won't be as much of a shock to my system. I know I'll probably be seriously grumpy and miserable for a week or two,but I'm sure I can get over it! I love the fact that the book has loads of recipes (108 to be precise) that range from breakfast to baking, so that its not difficult to make healthy, sugar free meals. The thought of cutting out sugar was always quite disappointing in a way as I love baking, but I think with some experimentation, I think I can get back to baking in no time!
I think I'm going to start this on Monday as that gives me time to pick up the main ingredients that I'll need. I'm planning on doing an update each week, telling you how I'm feeling, how the detox process is going and I might show what I've been eating throughout the week if I remember!
Have you ever tried a sugar detox before? I would love to know your thoughts!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Little life update #8: Alex's 21st birthday- Our little trip to London

Now uni is done and dusted for the summer (ridiculously early I know) I'm hoping to get back into blogging all the time yay. 
Easter Monday was my lovely boyfriend, Alex's 21st birthday so the weekend before was full of baking, baking and more baking! I told Alex that I would make him a chocolate birthday cake, and after a lot of stress it finally all came together and I'm pretty please with how it turned out in the end. I also made lots of cake pops- I have a recipe post, here
The day after his birthday, as my present to him, we headed off to London for lots of food, shopping and sightseeing. We stayed for three days and it was perfect. I finally fulfilled all my sightseeing wishes as I've been to London three times and didn't do anything touristy so I was longing to go on the London Eye, see Buckingham Palace and Big Ben etc. 
As a lot of the blogs I read are written by Londoners, I had all the places we had to go for food in my mind (and many lists..). We went to Wahaca, which I knew Alex would love as he is obsessed with Mexican food. Wahaca definitely did not disappoint, it was amazing. Stupidly I didn't take a photo of our Wahaca feast- we were clearly just enjoying getting stuck in haha! Alex and I are massive fans of a good burger so a trip to Byron was a must! We also visited Five Guys and both burger places were incredible. I'm drooling at the thought of the Five Guys cajun fries mmm. 
The Breakfast Club was also a must, the pancakes were incredible, however I don't think Alex was too impressed with the place as it was so so cramped he couldn't fit his legs under the table and we were so so close to the people either side of us haha! He cannot deny that the food and juice in there was way too good though.
We stayed in the Vauxhall Travelodge, which was a lovely, simple and clean hotel. It was in the perfect location for us as it was literally two minutes walk away from Vauxhall station, which was only a stop or two away from proper central London. 
We both had a really lovely few days away and we definitely want to go back soon. We both absolutely love London and would love to live there at some point, so you never know what the future holds! 

I'm not sure if anyone else enjoys reading them, but lately I've really been enjoying writing more lifestyle posts and I love reading them too. If you have a lifestyle blog, I would love it if you could leave your link in the comments so I could have read :)
I hope you all have a lovely weekend. Do you have any plans for the bank holiday?

Saturday, 3 May 2014

How to: Cake pops without candy melts

Hello you lovely lot, after I tweeted about making over 40 cake pops for my boyfriend's birthday party, I received quite a few tweets asking for recipes, especially since candy melts are hard to get hold of in the UK and are pretty damn annoying to use in my opinion. I did have a bag of candy melts but I ended up not using them because they were so thick and hard to work with. I have sub-situated candy melts for chocolate flavoured cake covering as it has a very runny consistency and sets quickly. You can't use ordinary chocolate for cake pops as it will need tempering etc. and it is much thicker in consistency to cake covering or cooking chocolate. The chocolate flavoured cake covering was so easy to use and dip my cake pops as the consistency was so thin and runny. I was worried that they wouldn't taste as nice as normal chocolate but I didn't notice any difference. So here's how I made my cake pops, they're quite strange in consistency as they are quite 'truffle' like in a way and are surprisingly rich (due to the frosting etc) so it's obvious why they are so small. I think next time I would probably use left over cake or buy a cake and just crumble it rather than baking one as it obviously made the process longer and it does seem quite wasteful.

This recipe makes approximately 20 cake pops
For the cake I used: 
120g unsalted butter (I used stork as I prefer it for baking but ordinary butter is fine)- leave out of fridge to soften
150g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs- at room temperature
180g self-raising flour
4 tbsp milk- at room temperature

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180 degrees C.
  • Lightly grease baking tin- size and shape of the tin doesn't really matter. However I used a medium sized tray bake. You don't want the tray to be too long as it will end up mostly crust which you will remove anyway.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until it becomes light and fluffy- this should take around 3-5 minutes by hand (this feels like a work out in itself- you have been warned!)
  • Add in the vanilla extract and mix together
  • Add in the eggs on at a time, mixing well in between. Be careful not to add them in too soon as this will make the mixture curdle. 
  • Add in half of the flour and half of the milk. Mix well. Then add the remaining milk and flour. Mix well again
  • Pour mixture into baking tin and bake for around 25-40 minutes depending on the size of your baking tin. It's best to keep checking it and check if its done by using a skewer to test it.
  • leave to cool on a wire rack.

Making the cake pop balls:

  • Once your cake has cooled, cut your cake into four sections
  • Cut off the edges
  • Take two sections and rub them together to make crumbs, repeat with other two sections
  • Take a fork and ensure all cake has dissolved into crumbs
  • Take your frosting (I found shop bought is actually better than home-made for this) and add a desert spoonful to your crumbs
  • Mix well with a fork and blend with your fingers
  • Your mixture should form into a dough- like texture- don't add too much or it will create gross soggy cake pops!
  • Add frosting a little bit at a time if you find it isn't forming together well, but one desert spoonful was fine for me- it shouldn't be crumbly, you should be able to mould it 
  • Gather all the dough into one piece, wrap in cling film and refrigerate until firm- usually about an hour

Once your dough is firm enough to hold it's shape easier, it's time to form your cake pop balls..

  • Take small pieces of dough at a time and form into a ball using your hands
  • I found wetting my hands a little bit helped the dough roll into balls easier
  • Repeat until you've used all your mixture
  • place onto a plate or in a container and place in the freezer for 15-20- we don't want to freeze them we just want them to be really firm.

Egg holders are an amazing way to store your cake pops upright whilst you're decorating and dipping! Just carefully add a hole into each section using a skewer.

Dipping and decorating:
  • Melt your Chocolate flavoured cake covering in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure you stir well and heat it up slowly to avoid burning the chocolate
  • Take a cake pop stick and a cake pop ball.. Dip the stick into the melted chocolate and insert it into the cake pop ball- only insert it less than half way as you don't want it to break
  • Repeat with all of the other cake pop balls until they're all on sticks. The chocolate sets pretty quickly so you don't have to wait longer to dip them fully
  • Dip the cake pops into the chocolate gently, do not stir them in the chocolate as it will loosen them off the sticks. You need to fully submerge the cake pops into the chocolate and gently move from side to side if needed.
  • As this chocolate is very runny, you will need to gently tap off the excess. Do this by gently tapping your hand that's holding the cake pop for a minute or so. 
  • Before the chocolate coating sets, decorate with sprinkles etc. Act quickly and do this as you go as they set pretty quickly.
And that's it! What a long blog post.. These little cute sweet treats seem really difficult as they have quite a few steps, however they are pretty easy. Using candy melts just makes things so much more difficult in my opinion! I hope you found this blog post helpful if you are interested in making cake pops. 
 As I was making these for my boyfriend's birthday, I wanted to make a holder that was pretty simple and would look nice on the table. My dad found some styrofoam so I just wrapped it up in pretty wrapping paper and punctured holes in it with a skewer- easy peasy! Have you ever made cake pops before? I'd love to see how yours turned out!