Thursday, 15 March 2018

delicious, healthy, sticky malt loaf recipe

hey all, this is a much anticipated and highly requested recipe amongst my family and friends, and quite rightly because who doesn't love a good old-fashioned slice of malt loaf loaded with butter or butter-like spread? yum. simple, honest, good food.

it's odd that we've not really spread the delicious malty flavour to many other recipes really, because the flavour of malt extract is one of my favourites. and malt loaf completely takes me back to childhood, and packets of Soreen taken on picnics, or opened in a lunchbox. 

i've made this three times over the last month, and one was for my 2 year old's birthday cake. and since that mini family party, 3 people asked for the recipe and the nieces asked for more slices, so i made another loaf this week when i knew they would be coming over later. 

this is THE perfect cake to make on a Sunday when you have some free time and then nibble throughout the week, or to bring out when you have guests midweek, because it just gets better and better the longer that you leave it, but is also deliciously tasty that very first day too. 

the problem with all delicious cakes is that to try and test leaving it to see just HOW gooey it will go is a challenge, because people just seem to eat it before it gets to day 5...

anyhow, this is a recipe that i initally pulled from a Country Living magazine and twisted to make it healthier - as i seem to do with all recipes! this one has just coconut sugar in, so zero refined regular sugar. and you can also easily sub in different tea flavours and different types of flour to good effect. 

the malt extract can be a little bit hard to find, but i bought my jar from a local health food shop (actually it was Holland & Barrett), and it is simply labelled "Malt Extract" on the side. this is the ingredient that gives it the flavour and the stickiness we so love.

apparently there are a few health benefits to taking malt extract in the cooler months when we can do with the extra sugar as well as the added amino acids and b vitamins.

it's also wonderfully easy to make. so long as you don't mind a recipe that takes a little while, the actual hands-on part of the recipe is pretty quick!

ooey gooey malt loaf recipe
makes 1 loaf

150ml hot black tea
225g raisins or sultanas
100g coconut sugar
150g malt extract
250g spelt flour (or sub buckwheat/light rye into the mixture)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 medium eggs

1. put the hot tea in a bowl with the raisins and coconut sugar. mix and leave to soak until most of the liquid is absorbed and the raisins look plump (about 2-8hours - the longer you leave them to soak the more moist the final loaf will be)
2. heat the oven to 150c/130c fan/gas mark 3/300f. grease/line a large loaf tin. 
3. stir the malt extract into the fruit, then add in the flour, baking power, bicarb and eggs. stir until well combined. 
4. pour into the large loaf tin and bake for about 1 hour. at this point take it out briefly and check if it's done by putting a skewer in the centre - if it comes out clean it's ready, if it comes out with batter on it needs to go back in for another 5-15 mins. 
5. leave to cool. wrap in baking parchment and store in a tin or airtight container upside down for as many days as you so desire.
6. spread with salted butter for a truly British experience.

this is what it looked like the day after it was cooked...

and this it the gloriousness 4 days in...

one last note - this is definitely NOT a low sugar recipe, and so needs to be enjoyed in moderation and with friends and a good cup of tea by the side to be included as part of a balanced diet! i literally have been having a half slice every few days because it's so rich, but it also makes a great post-ride snack for my husband when he comes home on his bike some days too.

i hope you enjoy making this recipe! if you have any questions or comments, please leave them down below and i will get back to you asap. 

have a glorious day x

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

frizz-free, defined natural curls: what i use & what my routine looks like

in my recent post i talked about my curly hair journey - how i straightened my hair for years and have been on a mission to get it curly for the last few. i also shared with you some pics of what my real hair looks like and what type of curl i have.

today i want to share with you what natural and organic products i use and how i use i.them because, when you hit upon a good routine that create curls you've dreamed of for a lifetime you should not be keeping that gold dust to yourself. and i do feel like i've struck gold, i really do.

if you'd rather watch than read, then just scroll down to the bottom of this post and watch my YT video all about my tips and tricks.

so, first things first...


i am currently using, and loving my second bottles of, Calia Purifying Shampoo & Conditioner (UK/EU/US) - they are almost completely organic and filled with gorgeous ingredients like rosemary and cedarwood, which are tremendously nourishing for your hair.

i start by making my hair completely 1000% wet. and then with the shampoo (which lathers up really nicely for a natural shampoo), i simply put that into my roots and give it a really good massage all over my scalp. then i rinse it out completely and go in with the conditioner.

i take a really good amount of conditioner in my hand, flip my head upside down and finger it through my hair, making sure it coats all of it and making sure to detangle any knots as i go. then comes the fun part of beginning the all-important squishing. as if scrunching dry hair, i squish the conditioner up the length of my hair into my roots. repeating again and again until the curls look uniform and lovely. if the curls don't look hydrated enough, i add more conditioner.

at this point, your hair should be looking pretty good - you are starting to create the cast of the curl, and so you want to almost start styling it at this point. then i use the shower head and rinse the conditioner very quickly out of my roots, leaving some product in the ends. then i squish out some of the excess water before i leave the shower. i make sure to always squish with my palms facing upwards, moving the palms flat towards my scalp. watch this great video tutorial from the Real Life Curly Girl for a quick guide (love this girl).

the next step is to use a dry cotton t-shirt to blot the excess water out of your hair, being as gentle as you can, and doing it a few times but confidently. a cotton t-shirt is much gentler on your hair than a towel - i was skeptical about this for years, but when i started doing this there was obviously less frizz.

after this i add in some...


i rub a small amount all over my hands and then scrunch it into my hair - upside down of course.

and then i 'plop' my hair into the t-shirt to create a turban to help form the cast of the curl as it begins to dry, and protect it from frizz as you continue getting ready. watch a cute video of how to do 'plopping' on YT.

i've tried both the Andalou Naturals styling cream (UK/US) and the A'Kin Leave-In Conditioner (UK/US) so far, and i adore the A'Kin the most for creating strong but natural curls.

once i've done my makeup and put my clothes on, i take the t-shirt off of my head and add in some...


i rub a small amount all over my hands and scrunch it into my hair. at this point i make sure to style my hair to make sure it dries nicely. because when the gel goes on it doesn't take much longer to dry, and it will also dry pretty much exactly the same way that you style it here, so add a little more water if you need or a little more gel, and keep scrunching at different angles until you get the look you want.

i have only tried the Boucleme curl defining gel (UK/US) so far, and i really am not sure about it - it definitely makes a lovely curl but the smell isn't really my cup of tea, so i'll definitely be trying others.


and then i sometimes add in some curl clips (UK/US)  if i'm going to be letting it air dry - it helps add root volume, and also helps me to not touch my hair as it dries. and other times i will use my Gama super diffuser (UK/US) on my hair dryer, which does a lovely job of getting me out the door faster and looking more glam!


The Innate Life Rose Hair Elixir (International) - this is my absolute HG favourite product to use to scrunch out the crunch from the gel. it smells divine and works on every hair type to add shine and tame frizz (exactly what it says on the packet). it's got a fab ingredients list and you need very little to achieve the desired effect.

simply just put a few drops on your hand, rub your hands together and scrunch into your hair until the crunchiness of the gel has disappeared and your curls look incredible!


the next piece of the puzzle is really important - because it really does help to keep your hair healthy. i do a weekly treatment, and i've tried a few:
  • simply just melting coconut oil and honey together and applying this onto the ends of your hair does wonders for creating definition and keeping split ends at bay.
  • Living Libations Scalp Tonic (UK/US) - the peppermint and rosemary in this help stimulate the scalp and its easy to apply and easy to wash out. 
  • The Innate Life Scalp Treatment (International) - not my favourite, but would be good if you have problems on your scalp.
  • The Innate Life Herbal Hair Mask (International) - a lovely treatment to make your hair feel luscious.

simply apply one, leave on for 30mins to overnight, then wash out - most don't need to be washed out 100%, simply get rid of the product at the root and then rinse off the excess quickly.


 - i occasionally brush my hair - i think it's important on the day before you shower to brush, with a wooden bristle brush (UK/US), your natural oils through the length of your hair. it will add shine and boost the health of your scalp and hair follicle.

 - i sleep with my hair up in a pineapple, this is the most protective way for me to keep the hair off my face, as i am a pretty lively sleeper. i use Clear Invisibobbles (UK/US) to make sure the hair band doesn't snag my hair.

 - i use a water spray bottle (UK/US) to refresh my hair on the second day, and simply spritz it around my hairline, or anywhere the curls has gone fluffy. then i wet my hands, add in a bit more leave-in conditioner and scrunch until the curl looks good.

finally, here is the video where you can see the products closer up and in more detail, and hear me talk at length about maintaining the curls:

i know that i'm very much at the beginning of this curly girl journey and i have a long way to go. so look out for more reviews and updates on my youtube channel as well as the blog and instagram.

please do let me know your favourite tips and tricks, and if you've any favourite products you'd like to share please let me know below.

thank you so much for reading and watching! x

Friday, 9 March 2018

a close up of my REAL curls

hey dearest reader, today i want to show you all some snaps of my REAL hair...

for the longest time, let's say 10 (yes, 10!!) whole years (yes, years!!) i straightened my hair every  time i washed it. of course the straightening led to damage which led to more straightening to keep the frizz in order. but, i've been trying to turn that habit around over the past few years with mixed success. 

from the age of 11-14 i scraped my curls back into a bun every day for school, until GHDs were invented and my life changed. straight hair was easy to create and easy to maintain. my hair looked glossy and gorgeous. i felt confident each day i went in. BUT i was a slave to my straighteners and i was terrified any time it might rain (which in England is quite a lot). 

fast forward to my early twenties when i really started getting into natural beauty - i wanted so badly to get my natural curls back on track, but i really had ZERO idea of how to do that! social media wasn't so easy to navigate and google didn't seem to give me the right answers. i really needed a video to show me what to do and how to treat my curls... but i couldn't find any good ones! 

coupled with a lack of information, every time i wore my hair naturally curly i would get mixed reviews, with quite a lot of negativity from my grandmothers, who loved my curls when they looked 'done' but not when they were 'wild'. so for the most part, i started to use the straighteners to add a big bouncy curl to my hair, and did that for another several years.

fast forward to the year i met and married my husband Pete. i remember very clearly the first day he saw me with my natural curls... we were set to go out on a speed boat around a lake, and i knew we would be getting soaked, and that there also wouldn't be a place for me to 'do' my hair afterwards. i knew he would see my frizzy curls, and his reaction would mean everything for us. it sounds silly doesn't it? but i felt SO vulnerable with my natural curls on display.

his reaction was absolutely perfect. he said 'i always thought i'd marry a woman with hair just like that'.

and from that day on i've increased in confidence with my curls and i've been a lot more experimental about the different ways that i try to style it and products that i try. 

now, i wouldn't go so far as saying that i love my curls every day. but i'm getting there.

and i'm spending time actually learning about curls - for example, my hair is a mix of 2c/3a/3b curls - although i suspect in time the 2c waves will really be 3a curls... i'm learning terms like 'plopping', 'scrunch the crunch' and 'squish to condish'.

looking after long curly hair is a MISSION. and in some ways it would be easier to keep on straightening it all the time. BUT on a good curl day, i feel the most "me" i could possibly feel, the most confident and the most sexy.

so, what am i doing to keep my curls looking healthy, bouncy and frizz-free? what am i doing to promote growth and volume?

well, you'll have to read my next post for all that info!