Zest For Life Recipes: Lentil And Vegetable Soup.

Credit: Diane Eliza Maccabe

Lentil And Vegetable Soup.

With the cold weather creeping in, it is time to get all snuggled up and keep warm. Here is one of my favourite comforting soups that is both filling and healthy. The perfect recipe to keep you warm this winter.

Serves 5-6

• 1 large onion
• 3-4 carrots
• 2 leeks
• 3 parsnips
• 2 garlic cloves crushed
• 2 chicken stock cubes
• 227g red lentils
• 1 can mixed beans
• 1 can green lentils
• 1 can of baked beans
• Mixed herbs to taste
• Fresh thyme
• 2 bay leaves
• Season with salt and pepper.

Tip: You will need a very large pan or slow cooker.

Peel and chop all your veggies, place in the pan. Add the garlic and stock cubes. Open the all the tins, draining and rinsing the mixed beans and the green lentils. Place the baked beans, chopped tomatoes, mixed beans and green lentils in to the pan. Do not add the red lentils yet! Throw in the herbs and bay leaves.

Fill the pan with water until all the contents is covered, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 45 mins. It is best making this in a slow cooker, then you can put it on in the morning and leave to simmer through out the day. Back to the pan, when all the veggies are soft you can add the red lentils.

Leave it to brew for another 15 to 20 mins. Season to taste. When using the slow cooker, add the lentils about an hour before serving. Season with salt and pepper at this point as well. You may want to add more herbs to flavour. The soup will be quite thick and chunky, really nice with a big pieces of rye bread to dip in!

Have A Stress-Free Christmas.

Credit: Mirror.co.uk

Planning Christmas presents early is a great way to remain calm during the Christmas season. It’s also a great way to set up a budget of how much you would like to spend. Try to start buying at least a month in advance, so you have enough time to return if your unhappy with your purchase.

Tips For Planning

Christmas Budget: In the first two weeks of November, you should set a present budget of how much you want to spend on family and friends. We can all get too carried away in the Christmas spirit and end up spending way too much. By planning how much you want to spent, you will keep your purse/wallet and yourself happy.

Create A List: Once you have your budget in place, start listing who you need to purchase gifts for. Usually the main part of your funds will go to close relatives and friends. Make a list of all the people you have given gifts to in the past or people you’ve received a gift from.

Prioritise: Create a list of people you are buying for and put them in order of what you can buy now and some you can leave till later. Try to shop in stores and online as you can find a lot of sale items which will help with your shopping budget.

Avoid Peak Times: The main reason why Christmas shopping is stressful is due to the amount of people buying presents at the same time. Avoiding peak shopping times can make a big difference to how you feel and how much you actually buy. There are times in the week which are busier for shopping than others, these times are usually when people aren’t working. If you have the option, try to avoid shopping on Saturdays or late night shopping events.

Don’t Leave It To The Last Minute: As tempting as it is to leave everything until tomorrow, it’s not a good idea to think this when Christmas shopping. The sooner it’s completed the better, as the shops get busier and busier the nearer we get to Christmas. Also your perfect gift could sell out, starting early can save you from forgetting or missing out on presents.

Box Or Wrap In Advance: In order to hide gifts from family members and friends who may visit. Create a special box or place in your wardrobe to store your Christmas gifts. If you pre-wrap them; remember, it’s important to keep a list of what you have bought just in case you forget. If you like to save the wrapping for later, keep all your gifts in a box where no one will find them.

Keep Receipts:
Keep all receipts for all gifts until you have wrapped all of your presents, or you can keep them until after Christmas, in case the person wants to send the gift back. You may also need to return any damaged items.

Credit: Bmag.com.au

Gift Ideas

Gift Cards: Gift cards are great if you’re unsure on what to buy the person. Buying a gift card to their favourite store or restaurant is a great way to put a smile on someone’s face. This also helps you to figure out how much you would like to spend on the person.

Gift Sets: Body/make-up gift sets look great when wrapped and it also makes life easier because you don’t have to buy more than one item. You can get gift sets for anyone at any age, which is perfect when you’re unsure of what to buy. The prices will depend on the amount of items the gift set holds.

Stocking Fillers: Sometimes a collection of smaller presents are more appreciated than bigger ones. Everyone loves unwrapping more than one gift, so having a few to open will put a smile on anyone’s face.

Make Your Own Gift: In order to make your own gift, all you need is an empty jar, box or basket to put your presents in. There are plenty of items you can buy from the pound shop and other shops that sell accessories and small gadgets. Creating your own gift is thoughtful and also lets you keep to a budget on how much you would like to spend.

Credit: Lifehacker

Stay stress-free this Christmas, the best part about starting to plan early is that it enables you to enjoy the holiday season and avoid the Christmas shopping rush.

It means you can focus on the fun things in December, like the Christmas work party or catching up with friends and extra time to decorate the house of course.

Words by Savannah Lloyd-Smith

November 2015: Editor’s Note.

Dear followers,

There is only one thing on everybody’s mind at the moment; the recent tragedy that happened in Paris last week. It’s hard to stay positive when we live in such a negative world, even more so, when an event such as this happens. The world often feels like a cruel and unforgiving place, but the unity and support that was displayed after the attacks, proves that although we all come from different cultures, speak different languages and have different views of the world, we are all on the same journey.

Life can be hard sometimes. The daily struggles that we all face can often become overwhelming and effect our overall happiness, but what you have to remember is that each day, when the sun rises and the moon falls, there are 1,440 minutes to change the direction of your day. The one thing I have learned in my twenty two years is that no matter how dark your day may seem, there is always a ray of light that you can cling to.

Being positive doesn’t come naturally to any of us. We need to fight for our own happiness, even if that means we have to make decisions we don’t want to make. Life is many things but one that we all forget is that life is a blessing. It can be taken away in a second and if we all spent less time focusing on where we need to go, instead of where we are, then the world would be a different place entirely, there would be more gratitude, more love and definitely more peace.

If you do one thing today, let it be this. Write a list of things that you are grateful for. It could be anything from a special person in your life, good health or having all five senses. We all have something in our lives that makes us happy, focus on that. This month, enjoy the little things that make your day brighter. The first cup of tea when you get home from work, putting on your new winter pyjamas or the first kiss from your partner after a long, hard day. Remember that even when the sky is dark, the stars continue to shine.

You might have noticed that the content on the blog has been dwindling for the past couple of weeks, there’s a reason for that. We have started creating the very first issue of Zest For Life and that leaves less time to concentrate on the blog. The magazine is looking great and I can’t wait for you all to see it, only seven weeks until it will be available on this site for you to download to your laptop, tablet or phone.

We are still looking for more writers to not only contribute for the blog but also write some pieces for the first issue. If you are interested in being a part of our team, contact us. I am so proud to be the founder of Zest For Life. It has already exceeded my expectations and I am glad that so many people want to share this journey with me, discover their own happiness and start living a positive life.

Live For Today



The Charcoal Solution For Oily Skin.

Credit: Oily Skin Guide

Everybody has different skin types, and I happen to have a ridiculously oily complexion.

I am skin lucky, in that I rarely get spots and only break-out after excess drinking or eating really badly. But I can see the excess oil glistening on my forehead and nose, sitting on top of my skin in a sheen, and my nose is completely clogged with blackheads.

Tired of having a constantly greasy face, I used Google to find things that are supposed to help and discovered that charcoal, tea tree oil and witch hazel remove oil from your face. The reason for this, is that charcoal attracts dirt and oil, so it pulls it off your face and out from your pores to clean your skin, whilst tea tree and witch hazel soothe the skin and help to keep it clear.

While in my local Boots, I started looking for charcoal based products and I happily stumbled across both a facial wash and face mask from their range that were a combination of all three ingredients I wanted; Tea Tree, Witch Hazel and Activated Charcoal. I’m not suggesting that you have to use the Boots brand, any product that has a combination of these ingredients would likely help, but this is an affordable range with both products priced between £3-£5.

The facial wash is thick and dark grey, not as easy to get off as other face washes because of its thick texture but it can still be used as an everyday wash. I usually put the face wash on and leave it for around three minutes while I brush my teeth, then lather it up with warm water and wash it off. The face mask comes in a little bottle, but because the product is so thick a small amount goes a long way. The texture is similar to the facial wash, except the face mask dries out easily while you leave it for fifteen minutes and has often hardened by the time you wash it off.

I have noticed most immediate results with the face mask, which I use once a week, but have found that both products make a difference to my oily skin. After using both products my skin feels dried out (but in a good way, if you have oily skin too you’ll know what I mean!) and the traces of excess oil have been removed from my skin.

If you have oily skin, I would definitely recommend trying some sort of charcoal-based product to help remove it. I’m not promising that it works for everyone because skin types are so different, but my skin always feels soft and smooth and more balanced after I use it.

Credit: Words by Ally Mclaren