Peppy Living

Peppy Living for the Eco-Anxious

Aubergine and Black Bean Stew

Aubergines seem to be a bit like marmite – some people like them and others can’t stand them. I believe that many of the people who dislike aubergines simply don’t know how to prepare them. They take a bit of time and patience because they need to get thoroughly cooked until mushy. If you don’t, they are tough and bitter. Yuck.

As always, feel free to add any other veg that you have lying around like peppers or courgettes.

This stew is really nice as a side or served as a sauce. If you want to go low-carb just leave the beans out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 very large or two smaller aubergines
  • 1 red onion
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • a tin of black beans
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 2 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp of dried mixed herbs
  • A pinch of chili flakes
  • Salt to taste

Chop and fry the garlic and onion in a bit of oil until fragrant. Cut the aubergines into chunks and place in a pot or frying pan with a lid. Add a splash of water and tart simmering the aubergines at a fairly high heat but don’t burn them.

Place the rest of the ingredients into a blender and whizz them into a tomato sauce. Check the seasoning and mix into the aubergines. Add the onion, garlic, and beans into the pan.

Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the aubergines are completely soft.

Peanut Butter Chocolate


I wouldn’t go as far as saying that these chocolate chunks are healthy, but the recipe has very little sugar, and it will work with even less if that’s more to your taste.

The peanut butter gives the chocolate a bit of body which I think many other home made chocolate recipes lack. This recipe makes about 35 chunks.

Ingredients:

  • 150g peanut butter
  • 125g coconut oil
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 10g honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder

Whizz all ingredients together in a blender. Pour on a tray lined with grease proof paper. Pop in the fridge or freezer until solid and then cut to chunks.

Peanut Butter Lentil Dahl


I love lentils and peanut butter goes so well with them. The PB adds a bit of oomph to the flavours without making it all taste like peanuts either. This was heavenly.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 0.5 tsp of each: cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, mustard seeds
  • A tin of green lentils
  • 1/2 cup (100 ml) of red lentils
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 generous tbsp of peanut butter
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 stock pot

Sautee the onion and garlic in coconut oil.

Add spices and mix well.

Add lentils, tomato paste, peanut butter, water and stock pot. Simmer until red lentils are cooked.

Courgette Chips

Courgette chips

I found a bag of courgettes from the fridge that needed using. With a little help from my friend Google, I decided to try this recipe by Nadia Lim. This was pretty easy and very yummy.

  • 500g courgettes
  • 250ml almond meal
  • 250ml finely grated cheese. The original recipe uses parmesan, but I sed mature cheddar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage or whatever herbs you have and like
  • Salt

Cut the courgettes to sticks. Beat the egg in one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients in another bowl.

Cover courgette sticks in egg, then coat them in the cheesy mixture.

Place on baking tray an bake for 15-20 in 200C until golden brown and crispy.

Did I mention they are yummy?

Courgette chips recipe

Cashew Cheese


Ok if you actually eat cheese, this doesn’t really taste like cheese but I love this stuff. I use it as a spread on toast and crackers or as a sauce on just about everything.

The special ingredient here is nutritional yeast. It’s used in vegan food to add that “cheesy” flavour to food and yeah it kinda does. You can get it from large supermarkets pretty easily but you can leave it out if you like. I do think that it adds that special something to the recipe though.

The recipe is from Deliciously Ella.

Ingredients:

  • 250ml of cashew nuts
  • 100ml of water
  • 70ml of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt + pepper

Put all ingredients in a blender and whizz into a sauce.

Life is a picnic

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I recently bought a cookbook called Deliciously Ella. It’s vegan but I think finally I’ve discovered a veggie style of eating that is not just about substituting meat with cheese or tofu.

The big idea is to prepare fairly simple little dishes and then compile them into a meal. One of the dishes is rice or quinoa, one is some kind of bean or lentil dish. Then there are roasted veggies and salads. And my favourites: dips and sauces that are just amazing.

Sounds like a lot of work but it’s not. I often cook this stuff on Sunday and we eat it for several days. I just love this style of eating. Filling, delicious and lots of different flavors.

cheesy courgette fritters

Cheesy Courgette Fritters

I spotted this recipe a few years ago from some veggie cook book, and it has stayed in our menu ever since. The original recipe only used courgettes, but I’ve added onion and mushrooms for some extra texture, as courgettes alone are quite watery and not very filling. The original recipe also suggested cooking the fritters on a frying pan, but it makes them very greasy and the kitchen very smoky, so I cook them in the oven instead, which is also quicker as you don’t need to stand there flipping them.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large courgette
  • 3 mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 100g hard cheese such as cheddar or emmenthal
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt & pepper
  • Freshly chopped herbs (coriander, basil, parsley)

japanese-mandolin

First slice all the vegetables into little sticks. I got this rather retro piece of equipment to do my slicing – the japanese mandolin. At first I wasn’t sure it was a good idea, as we have a big table top mixer that has a slicer attachment. Well, this has proven to be a really handy little device as it doesn’t take a lot of effort to whip out or wash clean, unlike the table top machine, which is mostly collecting dust in the cupboard. The mandolin has several blades for different shapes and sizes and costs under £10. So well worth the investment.

cheesy courgette fritters

Right, all the veg has been turned into cute little sticks. Add flour, eggs, herbs and seasoning and mix well.

cheesy courgette fritters

Shape little patties on a baking tray and bake in the oven on low temperature, around 160C was good for a fan oven. A regular oven without a fan will probably do at 175C or so. The temperature needs to stay low to allow the patties to firm up and cook properly without getting too brown on the surface. 25-30 minutes did the trick for me.

cheesy courgette fritters

Served with root vegetable mash.

 

little exfoliating scrubbers

Homemade Exfoliating Scrubbers

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Makes: About 12 scrubbers
  • Time: 30 mins + 30 minutes to set
  • Stores for 6 months

little exfoliating scrubbers

I just adore these little scrubbers. Usually you get your body scrub in a big pot, which probably sits in the edge of your bath tub for months. Each time you stick your hand in it, you add some water to it, which makes it go off quicker. That means your scrub needs to be full of strong preservatives to start with, and I’ve still had mold growing in it before the pot’s finished.

These scrubs are a great alternative. You can store them in a dry area of your bathroom and just use one, when you need exfoliating. They are easy to make, and they look gorgeous in the bathroom. They don’t have any preservatives, so store them in a lidded jar, and try not to get water in the jar. I’ve gone the extra mile and made them in three different scents and colours, but if you want to keep it simple, just one scent and colour will do fine.

Ingredients:

I’m using Rose + red colour, Dewberry + plum colour and Wet Garden + green colour

Chop the cocoa butter to smaller chunks so that it melts quicker. I’m using the deodorised cocoa butter. Deodorised means that the chocolatey scent and creamy colour have been removed, so your cocoa butter is white and neutral smelling cocoa. Deodorised is better, when you’re adding colour and scent of your own.

Cocoa butter

Put the cocoa butter in a double boiler and heat until completely liquid.

little exfoliating scrubbers

I’m using avocado oil for this recipe, but any other light oil, such as sweet almond or grapeseed oil, will work fine. Add the oils into the melted cocoa butter. Also add the polysorbate. This is an optional ingredient, and you can leave it out if you want to keep your scrubbers as natural as possible. Polysorbate will help your oils wash off in the shower, which makes the scrubbers less greasy and your shower less slippery.

little exfoliating scrubbers

What’s a sugar scrub without sugar, eh? You can use ordinary caster sugar, no fancy stuff needed. I prefer sugar to salt, although salt can be used as well. However, I find that salt can be a bit stinging if you have scratches (!) or you’ve been shaving recently. (Or maybe I just need a better razor.)

exfoliating sugar scrub

Wait for the butter + oil mix too cool down a little. Once you can touch the jar without burning your hands, you’re good to go. This is because if you add your sugar in super hot oils, it will simply melt and you’ll end up with very sweet body butter truffles without much scrubbing action. Mix the sugar in quickly, it will help the oils cool further. Divide the mixture in three equal parts in separate containers.

exfoliating scrub

Now it’s time to add your scents and colours.

essential oils

I’ve added about 10 drops of fragrance in each batch, which is quite a lot. Feel free to let your nose guide you here. I’ve also just eyeballed the colours. I think each took about 5 drops of colour, but this really depends on your colours and the depth of colour that you want.

exfoliating sugar scrubbers

Spoon the mixture into molds. I’m using little chocolate molds, but you can use anything that is about the right size. Try silicone ice cube trays, especially the ones that come in nice shapes. Then let the scrubbers set. You can pop them in the fridge to speed things up. They don’t take very long.

exfoliating little scrubbers

Once your scrubbers are completely solid, pop them out of the molds. You can put them in a lidded jar which will protect them from moisture or you can just place them in a nice bowl.

To use, pick one scrubber and wet it under the shower or in the bath. Press the scrubber to make it crumble and use the pieces to exfoliate arms and legs, or wherever you feel a good scrub is needed.

Exfoliating scrubbers

handmade body mousse

Homemade Body Butter

Difficulty: Fairly easy
Makes: 4 x 200ml pots
Time: 1 hour + 5 hours for cooling
Storage: 6-9 months

Body Mousse

 

Ahh the body mousse, one of Peppy Galore’s most popular and most loved products. This handmade body butter version of the body mousse is wonderful for very dry skin or for any skin during the dull winter months.

The body mousse is a bit of a tricky product, which is why you can’t get it from just any shop out there – it really needs to be handmade. The success of your handmade body butter really depends on the quality of it’s main ingredient – the mango butter. As a natural product mango butter can vary in texture and colour. Sometimes it can be very creamy, and doesn’t want to fluff up easily. At other times it can be very dry and feel grainy to the touch. It doesn’t have a strong scent in itself, but sometimes it can absorb the scent of your essential oils. Talking about a moody ingredient!

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Homemade Diva Face Moisturiser for Sensitive Skin

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Makes: 4 x 50ml pump bottles or jars
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Stores for 1 year

Homemade Diva Moisturiser for sensitive skin

If you’ve never made lotions before, then this may take a couple of attempts to get right. However, this is not rocket science so once you get the few basics right, it’s going to be pretty straight forward.

Now, why would you want to make your own moisturisers when the shops are full of pots filled with promises of eternal youth? It’s a bit like cooking. When you make your own you know exactly what goes in them, and you can always adjust them to your own liking.

The Diva Face Moisturiser was one of Peppy Galore’s best sellers, and I keep making it for my own skin. It has top quality ingredients which make the skin feel amazing.

There are two ingredients which are a must when you make lotions – an emulsifier (which mixes the oil with the water) and a preservative (which keeps your lotion from growing mold and fungus). I’m using Olivem 1000 as an emulsifier and Geogard Ultra as a preservative. These may be tricky for you to find, so you can also use the more commonly available Emulsifying Wax and Optiphen Preservative. Both work fine, and if you already have your favourites, then feel free to use them instead.

Ingredients:

  • 128g of boiled water
  • 16g Macadamia Oil
  • 16g Evening Primrose Oil
  • 16g Calendula Oil
  • 14g Olivem 1000 (Emulsifier)
  • 6g Vegetable Glycerin
  • 2g Geogard Ultra (preservative)
  • 2g Vanilla Extract

Oils and emulsifier

Measure the macadamia oil, the evening primrose oil, the calendula oil and the emulsifier in a heatproof container. Place in a double boiler and heat until the emulsifying wax has completely melted into the oils.

 

While the oils are melting, measure the glycerin in another heat proof container. If you are using Geogard Ultra, measure that in a separate container. Boil the water and let it cool a little.

When your oils have melted, add the hot water into the glycerine, then add Geogard Ultra in the water. Mix well. If you are using another preservative, don’t add it at this point. You probably need to add it as the very last step, as it can’t handle very hot temperatures.

Next comes the exciting part! You’ll need a whisker. For this amount of lotion, a milk frother is ideal. Start your whisker and start whisking the oils. Then pour the water into the oil slooowly.

Your lotion will turn lumpy and look quite weird for a while, but just keep whisking. It takes at least 3 minutes for the lotion to form and for the lumps and bumps to smooth out. Keep whisking. I usually go for at least 5 minutes, if not longer. When do you know it’s time to stop whisking? Simply stop whisking and wait for a minute or so. If the oils seem to rise to the top of the mixture, that means they are not properly mixed with the water and you need to keep going. Once you have a smooth white cream in your jar, you know you’re done.

Your lotion may start to thicken as it cools, although this may take quite some time. If you are using Optiphen, then you need to wait until your lotion is about body temperature before adding it to the mix. Otherwise the heat will kill its preservative powers.

This is also the point when you can add your vanilla oil. Vanilla is not very delicate, so it can be added before the lotion has properly cooled.

Once your lotion is ready, it’s time to bottle it. I’m using pump bottles, but you can use jars as well. Bottles are better because you don’t have to stick your finger into them in order to get your cream out. That means, you won’t be adding germs from your finger into the lotion, and that way your face moisturiser will stay fresher for longer.

You don’t need to sterilise your bottles or jars, but do give them a good wash first.

Fill the bottles or jars with a spoon, or if your lotion is still warm and runny, simply pour it in. This can be tricky, and jars are definitely easier here! Add the pumps and let the moisturisers cool completely before using.

 

Handmade Body Buffer Bar

  • Level: Easy
  • Makes: 1 large or 2 smaller bars
  • Time: 15 mins for preparation + 1-2hrs to set
  • Stores for 6-9 months

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At winter time the skin gets easily dry and dull, especially my legs tend to get really itchy and scaly. Not a good look. I created this body buffer bar to tackle just that! It’s super moisturising, with tons of cocoa and shea butter. It also contains a few oats, which give a gentle exfoliation and have skin calming properties. To make it extra delish I scented it with chocolate, so that shower times can now be a gorgeous indulgence for all senses.

Ingredients:

  • 55g Cocoa Butter
  • 25g Shea Butter
  • 10g Oatmeal
  • 10g Polysorbate 80 (optional)
  • 10 drops of chocolate fragrance oil (optional)

 

 

Cocoa butter is widely sold in undeodorised and deodorised form. The undeodorised cocoa butter has a yellowish colour and smells faintly of chocolate. It’s actually exactly the same stuff that’s used in making chocolate. The deodorised cocoa butter has been treated to remove the colour and the scent. It’s a better choice if you don’t want that chocolatey scent in your product. I’m using undeodorised cocoa butter, as this buffer bar can smell as much of cocoa as possible. I also think that the undeodorised cocoa butter is a bit richer.

Take your cocoa butter, chop it roughly and place it in a heat proof container. Also add the shea butter to the mix. Shea butter is also available in undeodorised form, but it’s more rare. Usually you’ll get a deodorised version if you buy it from the usual outlets and that’s fine for this recipe. Place the jug in a double boiler and melt the butters until they have become completely liquid.

Give the oats a quick whizz to make them a bit finer. Just a quick one or you’ll end up with oat porridge!

Add the oats, the polysorbate and the fragrance oil into the melted butters. Polysorbate is a liquid emulsifier. It helps oils mix with water. So when you’re using your body buffer bar in the shower, it will wash off much easier and not leave your shower or tub deadly slippery. (Caution is still adviced, though). If you want to keep you body buffer bars completely natural, then feel free to leave the polysorbate and the fragrance oil out. You’ll still get a lovely buffer bar, but with just a hint of a chocolatey scent.

 

Pour the mixture into a mold. You can use any mold that you have around, but I’d recommend a silicone mould. It’s really easy to pop the buffer bar out of a silicone mold without breaking it. Cake molds work really well, and that’s what I’m using.

Let the mixture set until the butters have completely solidified. You can put the mold in the fridge to speed the process, but if you have a cool pantry or a particularly drafty window, I think these work better. I find that sometimes the fridge doesn’t cool the bar evenly, so it crumbles or caves in the middle, as it solidifies quicker on the outside than in the middle. But try it out if you are impatient, often it works fine. Once the butters are completely solid, pop the buffer bar out of its mold. It smells beautiful and will make your skin feel equally lovely.

To use, simply wet the buffer bar in the shower, then rub all over those scaly legs and anywhere else that your skin needs a bit of buffing and pampering. Then wash off. The butters will turn milky on your skin, as the polysorbate mixes them with water. You’ll still be left with softly moisturised skin.

Homemade Facial Toner

Natural floral waters can be used to make lovely homemade facial toners. They contain all the wonderful skin loving properties of the flowers and herbs that were used to make them. Use floral water toners to finish your skin cleansing routine, to remove any remaining cleanser or makeup, and to calm and tone the skin.

Many shop bought toners include all sorts of ingredients that might irritate your skin. They also often include alcohol, because of it’s astringent properties, but alcohol can really dry your skin.

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