Homemade Food, Recipes

15 Minute Low Fat Garlic Mushroom Pasta

Fancy having pasta for dinner but want to keep it low fat, low calorie but filling and nutritious? This is the recipe for you!! Approximately this tasty dish is 306 calories per serving and makes enough for 2!

What do I need?

1 cal olive oil spray

250g chestnut mushrooms

200g spaghetti

half a bag of baby spinach

400g chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon tomato pesto

handful of parsley leaves

3 cloves of garlic

1 red onion

salt and pepper to taste

parmesan (optional)

What do I do?

  1. Boil a large saucepan of water and add 4 grinds of salt and 4 sprays of olive oil, add the pasta once bubbling. Follow packet instructions for timing and set your timer.

  2. Heat a small frying pan with 5 sprays of olive oil 

  3. Chop the onion, garlic and mushrooms and pop in pan on a medium – high heat and cook until the mushrooms have browned.

  4. Stir in the pesto and add in the chopped tomatoes, bring the temperature down to low – medium, simmer and add herbs, salt and pepper.

  5. Empty half a bag of spinach on top of the sauce and pop the lid on, turn heat down to low until the spinach has wilted.

  6. Drain the pasta and pop back into the saucepan, pour the sauce into the pasta saucepan and tear the parsley as stirring into the pasta.

Voila you’re done, serve up, sprinkle on some parmesan if you so wish and enjoy!!


Garlic Mushroom Pasta.. YUM!


Beauty and Skincare, Make Up Review

The Truth About KIKO Milano Make Up

KIKO Milano is a seriously understated make up brand. The quality is magnificent, the cost of products are absolutely ridiculous and it is Italian and everything Italian is amazing – the food, the men, the women, the language, the culture, the country…can you tell I am a fan, and Italian?

I discovered KIKO on holiday last year in Santander, Spain in a random shopping centre! I ended up buying a concealer as when trying it in store the texture and consistency was similar if not better than the Bobbi Brown Concealer.

This well loved concealer is definitely in my top 3 favourite concealers ever.


Not only is it extremely long lasting, this has lasted me a year and just reaching the bottom – perhaps not very hygienic  and time for a new one! It is extremely high coverage in close competition with the Lasting Perfection Collection Concealer and not at all drying on the skin. This in shade 03 close to a natural, soft beige colour.

On my first online purchase I discovered their BB Cream, I literally survive on BB Cream as my skin doesn’t take well to liquid foundation when worn often. You might think this looks very similar to the body shop all in one BB cream, and it is, with the same colour adapting technology. However it is a lot more moisturizing and is suitable to oily/combination skin, I found the body shop one a bit too dewy on top of natural dew.


On the bright side, the KIKO BB Cream has SPF 15 which is always a plus in my opinion, as often in the UK if it isn’t burning sunshine which it normally isn’t I would forget to apply sunscreen. In sale it was £2, at full price £7.

The SPF 30 BB Cream is also super but it is a little more like a lightweight foundation than a BB Cream – I have to apply this with a beauty blender to achieve even coverage. However it stays all day and protects from the sun – what’s not to like?IMG_20170830_155258

I have serious oily face problems, and often sweaty face problems particularly in summer and this powder product helps prevent my face from getting that natural dewiness without going patchy and somehow this product has worked its way into my daily make up routine.

sf.jpgIt was on sale at £4, otherwise sells for a pricier £13.90 and looks like it will last me a life time. It is the Soft Focus Foundation in shade 07 – Soft Beige. Admittedly this powder is a little dark for my natural shade therefore I only apply a tiny dusting using a big fluffy powder brush. This powder keeps my face mostly matte from 7am when applied to 6pm when I leave work – this means almost 12 hours of no oily worries. It comes with a handy applicator for on the go or you can use a brush which I prefer for a less orange effect. I will be keeping my eyes peeled for when this comes back in stock.

Another powder product find is this lovely blush in 03 Sunset Pomegranate, it is so pigmented and easily blendable this has been my go to pop of colour this summer. It is also in beautiful pearlescent packaging, with a compact mirror – perfect for on the go application.

Sadly I was not as impressed with the mascara I bought, there are 100s of other mascara options which I will try; however I was not impressed with this one – it was flaky from first use and then dried out very quickly and was quite clumpy!

It is definitely unforgettable but not in a good way!IMG_20170830_155748_099

Finally I purchased 2 lip products:

  1. The Jelly Stylo: It is fantastic at moisturising, but the colour is a little inconsistent on the lips but perfect if you want to, add a colour on top and have a glossy lip. Plus it’s vanilla scented.
  2. The Urban Sheen Lip Gloss For £1 this crayon like lip product adds a pretty decent intense colour; however it isn’t lasting on its own, but can be prolonged if used with The Jelly Stylo or a lip balm.

Kiko Milano Rewards:

Not only is KIKO make up a mostly well kept secret so is their reward system.

If you download the KIKO app and show the QR code when you buy instore you can receive reward points. If you buy online, you receive points instantly and if you review products you receive even more points.

  •  800 points = £5 voucher 
  • 1500 points = £10 voucher
  • 3000 points = £30 voucher

This doesn’t sound too bad to me?

Give KIKO ago, you won’t be disappointed particularly as they update their website / stores with hundreds of new products every week.


Homemade Food, Recipes

Deep South Cajun Salmon in 10 minutes

Forget about Salmons high calorie count – this fish is insanely good for you, it is full of protein (good for bone density), omega 3 fatty acids for brain function, cardiovascular benefits like reducing inflammation and full of vitamin D. Salmon provides a great source of Selenium which is a mineral that works as an antioxidant in the body which prevents cell damage and keeps immune system and your thyroid working well!

I found this recipe in a friends cookery book, but for the life of me cannot remember what it was called – I searched Cajun Salmon and there were 100s of similar recipes therefore this is my take on what I remembered from the recipe and works really well with lots of health benefits plus makes for a great 10 minute dish, whether it is for lunch or for a post gym din din.

What makes it deep south Cajun Salmon?  I found this delicious spice when looking for a regular Cajun spice, which you can still use. This spice also tastes great on sweet potato wedges.

Cajun Salmon

For two people:

2 Salmon Fillets          Olive Oil      8 Cherry Tomatoes    Half a Cucumber    1 Lemon

2 Tbsp of Cajun Spice     1 Avocado   1 tin of sweetcorn    1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

Handful of Cashew Nuts     Handful of Fresh Coriander       4 Spring Onions

  • Marinate Salmon in the Cajun spice & a couple Tbsp’s of olive oil in a bowl.
  • Heat up a frying pan and pop in the salmon, 4 minutes approx on each side.
  • Meanwhile chop the cucumber, tomatoes, spring onions, coriander, drained sweetcorn and mix in a bowl with the red wine vinegar, adding chopped avocado last.
  • Serve the salmon on a bed of the salad, with a slice of lemon and decorate with a small handful of cashew nuts & it is ready to eat!

You can bulk up the meal with some bulgar wheat, put desired amount in a bowl with boiling water, and cover with tea towel. Every 60g = 300ml water. Once water has soaked in to the wheat add a splash of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and mix with salad ingredients.

Personally the Cajun spice is enough for me, but you can add a chilli paste, fresh chilli or chilli flakes if you like something spicier.

There you have it easy peasy Cajun Spiced Salmon.

*Hyperlinks are for information purposes only and are not affiliate links

Mental Health

Life on a Psychiatric ward: Role of an Activity Coordinator

“Engagement in meaningful activities is significantly correlated with satisfaction with life as a whole ” – Goldberg & Britnell (2008)

The quote above highlights how important taking part in meaningful activities are in order to improve our wellbeing. For example we have jobs or hobbies; whether it is exercise or music, sports or cooking these may all be things that are meaningful and can improve our well being and mental health.

Generally (not everyone) people who experience mental health problems may lose interest in meaningful activities, have a dysfunctional relationship with activities or have none particularly if they are relapsing or experiencing mental health issues for the first time.

Service users may be admitted to hospital if they find it difficult to plan and organize daily life this could be due to hearing voices which can affect the ability to communicate with other people, may be being exploited or abused, harmfully using alcohol or drugs or behave in ways which may appear threatening resulting in contact with police. Medication may also not be working, or have stopped taking the medication, may be experiencing suicidal thoughts or struggling to manage with every day activities.

The role of an activity coordinator on a mental health ward aims to encourage, motivate, maintain, teach and develop meaningful activities and support recovery for each person who comes into the ward. This may sound like a huge responsibility, but it is not all of yours you are part of a team of multidisciplinary professionals who aim to provide this; however  your role is a huge contribution. You may learn, as I learnt that you are seen and treated entirely different by the service users compared to doctors, nurses or even healthcare assistants (hca) in most cases. However this will also depend on your personality and attitude.

From my experience and knowledge medical staff are treated more negatively than non medical staff as they are medically treating the person and if a service user does not want to be treated with medications, medical staff often experience the frustration from service users. It is an incredibly challenging job and I’ve a hella lot of respect for the medical teams. By developing positive relationships with service users you will help aid magnificently in their treatment plans and recovery outcomes.

To work on a psychiatric ward as an activity coordinator emotional resilience is key, you should be open minded, responsible, hold a degree of common sense, laidback, fun, honest and trustworthy. These are just a few personality traits which are important to have.  I worked on an acute mental health ward, with a huge variety of clients and mental health conditions including; Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective disorder, depression, anxiety, psychosis, bi polar, bi polar affective disorder, unspecified organic psychosis, personality disorders (emotionally unstable, antisocial, narcissistic) and learning disability patients who fall through the gap… it is important to brush up your knowledge so to some extent you’ll know what to expect.

What do I mean by meaningful activities on a psychiatric ward?

Meaningful activities mean the activity will benefit the service user. I believe and particularly in the National Health Service (NHS) care is patient centred. It is important to involve the service users together or individually in what activities they are interested in or will benefit from.

The Community Meeting: Every week a community meeting should be held to offer the opportunity for service users to present and discuss their ideas regarding the ward in general and activities.

The role of the activity coordinator is to manage this meeting, answer queries, raise queries to team managers, deal with conflicts, reassure positives and assess risk of suggestions. The meeting itself is meaningful as it encourages discussion, group work and social inclusion.

Routine is very important in recovery, although sometimes not everything goes to plan it is important to implement some form of routine into their lives. We wake up, shower, dress, eat breakfast, brush our teeth – some service users may have difficulty with planning and organizing this routine or struggle with self care.

Below is an example of an activity timetable which are displayed colourfully and in large print around the ward:


To pin point a few:

Music Groups: Music is engaging, distracting, communicative, physical, social, affects behaviour (North and Hargreaves 2008), affects identities, improves mood and concentration. There is vast quantities of research in music psychology and therapy showing it as beneficial. Surgeons even play music to relieve anxiety and pain for patients (Heijden 2015) this is pretty generalisable research.

Gather a vast collection of CDs; ask for donations, buy from charity or junk shops as just sitting in a room with a service user listening to music can really engage and help them open up to you. Try drum circles (make or buy Congo drums), provide guitars, access to keyboard, provide a harmonica, recorder or find a volunteer to perform an interactive music session if you aren’t able to yourself. Similarly beneficial are art groups and mindfulness colouring.

Cooking Groups: These are always the most popular groups, as the service user will immediately benefit from taking part in the session plus unknowingly develop useful everyday skills. Smoothie group is a good way to introduce healthy eating, many antipsychotic medications increase appetite and often service users may reach for a take away menu; however having a freezer stashed full of frozen fruits or veggies, can be a good way to encourage a healthier snack to avoid weight gain.

Baking group encourages team work and is a good way to identify their skill level in order to feedback to the Occupational therapy team if they need further assistance at home or not. Suggestions: cookies, chocolate or blueberry muffins, fruit cake, ginger biscuits, flapjacks, lemon drizzle loaf cake… print out and laminate an easy read recipe, keeping instructions simple, break down the tasks so each person has a role.

Sports: Exercise is an active solution, a vast amount of research reports the beneficial effects of exercise it can improve social skills and behaviours, self esteem and attitudes (Bailey 2006). The National Institute of Care and Excellence (NICE) recommends people with moderate depression should take part in 45 minutes of exercise 3 x a week for a minimum of 3 months to see an improvement in mood.

Even if you just go for a walk or jog  round the garden, buy a football and have a kick around a few times a week, depending on your budget table tennis is an excellent activity involving team work, hand eye co-ordination, low intensity exercise and suitable for all ages and abilities. If you have the budget buy a Wii Fit or reach out to other wards to see if they have old equipment you can borrow.

Obviously you cannot be there all the time therefore it is important to have low risk available activities such as jigsaw puzzles, board games including scrabble, printed word searches, Sudoku puzzles, daily newspapers, books; language, fact and fiction, printed mindfulness colouring sheets, spare pieces of blank paper and a box of felt tip pens.


Motivating service users is a huge part of the role, motivating some will be easier than others, with others it may take time – do not be disheartened if only 1 – 3 people attend your groups as every week will vary depending on the clients on the ward. If someone finds being in a group difficult, find an activity they enjoy – puzzles  – and sit together to do a small task for 30 minutes. A small task is better than no task. They may gradually over time become involved in smaller groups of 2 or 3 people. You may find service users motivate their peers to attend groups or will organize a game of scrabble or football within themselves.


Finally one more key thing to remember is risk. Be aware of risks in activities, have a record of sharp objects; scissors, knives, can openers etc, be aware of using certain materials in art such as long pieces of string, wire, glues, strong smelling paints or hairspray. scissors

Be risk aware of the service users you work with, every service user will have a risk assessment based on risk to self and risk to others – find these out before you work in a one to one setting. If ever worried about risk do not be afraid to ask other staff to support you in a session. If no one is available run the activity in a communal space or somewhere you can be visibly seen by other staff. Finally be aware and incident report violent or sexual behaviours towards staff or other service users.

The role is complex, exciting, interesting and you will learn more than ever about mental health and people. You will develop experience of working in a dynamic team of nurses, doctors, HCA’s and work very closely with Occupational Therapists. It is an educational and creative post and definitely worth giving a go if you want to work in mental health, it is an ideal stepping stone role for a future occupational therapist or psychologist/therapy role.

If you enjoyed this post or have feedback please let me know – this is not completely extensive or completely generalizable but it is a guiding introduction into activity coordinating in a psychiatric ward.



Breakfast Ideas, Homemade Food, Recipes

10 minute “jazzed up” Banana Bread Cupcakes!

This is going to be quite straight to the point recipe (not too much babbling) – banana bread is a great choice of snack for a boost or to have as a breakfast as keeps you full and gives you energy!

This recipe is not just your average banana bread, I jazzed it up a little from the original recipe I used. This makes 24 cupcakes or 1 loaf cake.


For cupcakes: A cupcake tray, cupcake cases, mixing bowl, small bowl, tablespoon, teaspoon, mixing spoon, fork, knife, measuring jug.

For loaf cake: A loaf tin, greaseproof paper, a extra lump of butter, mixing bowl, small bowl, tablespoon, teaspoon, mixing spoon, fork, knife, measuring jug.


110g of unsalted butter

225g of  caster sugar

4 ripe bananas

Cinammon (optional)

2 eggs

85ml of buttermilk or normal milk with a tsp of lemon juice

1 tsp of vanilla essence

1 tsp of baking soda

285g of plain flour

 A pinch of salt


Pre heat oven to 180 Celsius.

Combine softened butter with sugar until there are no lumps of sugar left / light and fluffy. Put this mixture to one side.

Mash up the 4 ripe bananas with the back of a fork. Add a shake of cinnamon if using into the bananas.

In the creamed sugar and butter mixture, add the vanilla essence, milk, eggs and stir then add the bananas.

Then fold in the flour, baking soda, salt and extra cinnamon (optional).

Either then line cupcake tin with cupcake cases and spoon in mixture to fill half of each case. Pop in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes.

Or line loaf tin with greaseproof paper and grease with extra butter and pour mixture in evenly. Pop in the oven for 1 hour.

To identify that the banana bread is cooked insert a knife into the cake and if it comes out clean it is cooked!

Leave this to cool for a few minutes and then transfer to wire rack and then serve.

Or store in an air tight container for up to 2 days!

Hope you make amazing banana bread & if you do don’t forget to tag me in pictures on social media! @natbat91x

The original recipe is from BBC good food: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/bananabread_85720

Baking, Brownies, Chocolate, Easter, Easter Treats, Recipe Ideas, Recipes

Epic Mini Egg Gooey Chocolate Brownies

These 10 step epic easter themed chocolate brownies are so incredibly easy and fun to make!

Check out the video below for a step by step visual instruction… or just keep reading!


*makes approximately 30 small brownie pieces*


250g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter

4 eggs

60g cocoa powder

60g plain flour

200g dark chocolate

Optional: 2 handfuls of mini eggs & 2 handfuls of twirl bites.


  1. Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Melt your dark chocolate: – heat up a small saucepan with approx an inch of boiling water in the bottom and place a heatproof bowl over the pan on a medium heat and break the chocolate in the bowl. Stir gently until all the chocolate has melted and take off the heat & leave to cool.
  3. Pop a large mixing bowl on your weighing scales and zero your scales, weigh out 250g caster sugar.
  4. Next weigh out 100g softened unsalted butter.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  6. Crack 4 eggs into the mixture and gently mix together.
  7. Your melted chocolate should be cooled by now, add this to the mixture and stir together.
  8. Add the 60g of flour & 60g cocoa powder and stir thoroughly together.
  9. Add the mini eggs and twirl bites.
  10. Line your baking tray with greaseproof paper (see video for size if necessary) & pour mixture evenly in the tray, pop in oven for 20 minutes. Leave to cool and then chop into chunks.

Voila! Perfect gooey chocolate brownies perfect for parties or a cheeky snack!!

Food, Homemade Food, Uncategorized

Healthy, easy (but just as good) Pancakes!!

Pancake day has come and gone but who says we can’t have pancakes everyday?!? This recipe is so versatile and you can have it as a delicious breakfast, brunch or snack.

Equipment: You need a bowl, a fork, a pan and a spatula or a food blender.

Food wise you need 1 small (preferably ripe) banana, 40g porridge oats (7.5 level tablespoons), lump of butter or coconut oil and 1 egg, then any toppings you love such as berries & maple syrup as a healthier option or you could grill some bacon or add a drizzle of chocolate sauce!! Yum.

Lazy way: You could throw all the ingredients: banana, oats and egg into a food processor until smooth. *There is nothing wrong with being lazy.  Then follow on from step 4 in the Manual way.

Manual way:
1. Mash up the banana using the back of fork, it doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth.
2. Add the egg and whisk together.
3. Next add the porridge oats and stir together. Add extras: 1 tsp cinnamon/protein powder.
4. Heat up the frying pan to a medium heat and melt some butter or coconut oil (1 teaspoon).
5. Spoon 2 tablespoons of mixture per pancake into the pan.
6. The pancakes should take about 2 minutes to cook on each side but this will vary based on your cooker.

This recipe should whip up 6-8 small tasty pancakes & then you can pop them on a plate and sprinkle your ingredients all over the top and voila!

In case you want to know 6 small pancakes (not including toppings) are approximately 360 calories. 

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 21.53.21

Hope you enjoy your pancakes with a cup of tea or coffee & tag me in any instagram posts I’d love to see your creations @natbat91x