One Pot Vegan Muffins: Chocolate & Banana


Since becoming vegan I've found it hard to substitute certain foods. So I set about trialling and testing different recipes to satisfy my sweet-tooth. And these muffins were at the top of my list. They're super easy, can be made in half an hour and the flavour combinations are endless. Now I was dubious as to whether these would be as good as other cakes I've made in the past, but I'm pretty impressed. 

And so was the boy. He did admit that they tasted 'like a healthier version of a cake but they're still good' and I'm taking that as a compliment. 

The idea for this recipe came from a friend of mine. Whenever I stayed at her house we would make these one pot muffins as we didn't want to weigh ingredients. The concept is simple, to keep all amounts relative to each other you take one yoghurt and then use that carton/pot to measure out the rest of your ingredients. It's super quick, super easy and failproof. 

I had seen soya yoghurt being used in vegan-friendly baking recipes and it clicked. So with multipacks of Alpro desserts in the fridge, I decided to throw everything together and hope for the best. But before I started anything I had a problem, the original recipe included eggs, so I had to research substitutes. One thing kept popping up and I just had to give it a go. Apparently a medium mashed banana works similarly to eggs as a binding agent. And low and behold it works! 

You can use any flavour of yoghurt and add any extras like fruits or vanilla extract. I decided that since I was including banana I would try to incorporate that flavour instead of masking it. And opted for the Alpro Silky Smooth Chocolate Dessert. My next baking adventure is going to be classic blueberry muffins, so in that case, I may swap the mashed banana for a traditional egg substitute available at Holland & Barrett. But this isn't a necessity. 

The thing that impresses me the most is the fact that I didn't have to go out to buy anything. I had everything I needed already in my kitchen. In just half an hour I had my tea brewed, a plate ready and 12 glorious muffins ready for me to indulge. So without further ado, I present my Vegan Chocolate and Banana Muffins.


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One Pot Vegan Muffins
A quick and easy way to make vegan-friendly muffins, with simple ingredients that you can find in the average kitchen.
Ingredients
  • 1 Carton Flavoured Soya Yoghurt
  • 1 Carton Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Cartons Self Raising Flour
  • 1 Carton Caster Sugar
  • 1 Medium Sized Mashed Banana
Instructions
1. Empty the flavoured soya yoghurt into a medium sized bowl.2. Using the same yoghurt carton measure out 1 portion of vegetable oil and caster sugar. Beat together with a wooden spoon.3. Now measure out 3 portions of self-raising flour and mix together gently.4. Mash your banana and add to the mix, ensuring that all ingredients have combined together evenly.5. Spoon out your mixture into small muffin cases and bake for 15-20 minutes at 180°. Or until golden brown.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12-15 small muffins


Fellow vegans, have you made any sweet treats recently? Share them below! Vegan or not, if you decide to try this recipe for yourself then tweet me a photo @slightgem and let me know what you think.

Gem. x


7 Goals For 7 Days


If there was one thing I would improve about myself, I would be more goal orientated. I try my hardest to write mini goals and set time frames but the truth is, I'll just write them down in a pretty notebook and forget all about them. It's only recently that I've started keeping everything in Evernote, that way everything I've ever written is in one place. Manageable.

It's something I'm working on, something I want to become a regular occurrence. My aim is to make more of a habit of it, for it to become part of my daily routine and that takes time. I once read a book that said it takes an action 28 times to become natural, to become a habit. And so with that in mind, I've decided to start off with something small, simple 7 goals for 7 days.

I could complete one goal a day, I could complete three, either way by this time next week I would like to be able to tick them all off. I have set them all as reminders along with alarms, in a bid to keep myself in the zone. So here they are:

  1. Drink eight glasses of water a day.
  2. Take five minutes to breathe and relax.
  3. Clear out my wardrobe.
  4. Socialise! Get out of the house.
  5. Use the day to its full potential.
  6. Complete a food diary.
  7. Document the day. How I felt, what I'm thankful for, positives, how to overcome negatives etc.

Hopefully, I will be able to successfully complete the week, and the see what happens from there. There are things I would like to make permanent, like drinking 8 glasses of water as most days I get to 5 and forget. Maybe I'll swap some around, maybe next week I'll add a book into the mix. Who knows.

Do you set yourself mini goals? If so how often do you stick to them? 


Gem. x

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Instagram Art


Moving into our first home has been wonderful. Collecting things to fill our home is one of our favorite things to do over the weekend. And one thing I wanted to focus on was displaying our adventures, passions and past times. We found a recored player and listen to Sam Cooke in the evenings, we filled a bookcase with our favorite novels, set up my film camera collection and keep the coffee table up to date with our favourite magazines.

I stumbled across something in Tesco that I just has to share. Now I know that this isn't something new but it's the first time for me. I took some of my favorite Instagram photos and got them printed in various sizes. There is a couple of machines that you bluetooh photos to and it prints them right there and then. I do have some of my film prints around the house, but I find it so amazing that I can take memories from a screen into the palm of my hands within seconds. 

Prices start from just 30p, so I've decided to use this opportunity to build a photo album as well. The boy and I have four years of memories to print, so it could take a while. But I'm sure looking back we will be thankful. In this digital age it's easy to forget the little things. We snap a photo on our phone, and a few years later it's been lost by software updates and swapping handsets. When I went to visit my mum for her birthday we sat around as a family and flipped through photo albums, showing my sisters boyfriend silly photos. It was lovely, and I definitely want to keep that tradition alive. Who needs the cloud, I want to be able to hold my memories and be surrounded by them.

Have you ever printed your Instagram photos? How do you inject personality into your home? 

Gem. x

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Buying Plants Locally





There is no greater feeling than a room full of plants. It gives off the nicest vibe of happiness, calm and most importantly positive energy. And today I wanted to spread all of that and talk about buying plants locally. 

I am very fortunate to have a beautiful market just minutes away from my house, open five days a week. But it's not just convenience that has given me a strong belief in local produce. I grew up in Suffolk where houses sold eggs and vegetables on fold up wooden tables in their front gardens. Almost every day is a market day and there are lots of independent shops just minutes away from each other.

There's a sense of community supporting those whose livelihood depend on your custom. You get to know these people, you share their spirit and most of all you contribute to something a lot bigger than a bunch of flowers. 

Here are just five reasons to shop locally:
1. You'll get yourself a good deal, and maybe some good advice.
2. You will learn what's in season.
3. You will be supporting your local community.
4. It's a lot more ethical.
5. You'll be contributing to a person, a family and a lifestyle.


After watching the Chelsea Flower Show this year I am so inspired to introduce more fresh herbs, plants, and flowers into my life. I feel like I've caught the green thumb and I'm loving it.

Do you buy locally? What kinds of plants do you have in your home?

Gem. x

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A First Home | My New Office


Eeek! Words cannot describe how happy I am with this room. Some say being an adult is hard, long hours, lots of responsibilities and a sense of new found independence. And I agree, it is all of those things but one thing that keeps me going is the freedom to really push myself. To take a step closer towards my dreams. 

Some of you may be wondering what this has to do with a room. But it's what the rooms represents. It's the fact that we earned it. We did it ourselves. And that makes me feel very grown up. Even whilst sitting at my desk in miffy pyjamas. 

For those of you that are redecorating, planning to move soon, or gearing up to go to university, I would recommend setting up some boards on Pinterest to see exactly what kind of style you're looking for. I have multiple boards for different rooms and each one contributed to this room in one way or another. I searched for similar items, similar layouts and eventually I managed to locate everything within our budget. 

We both spend a lot of time in front of the computer. And so naturally it was imperative that our office not only look clean and minimal but it also needed to be a hub of organisation and storage. So naturally we went to IKEA. For everything else we relied on the internet and found some amazing online stores. Our favourite is Cult Furniture, it specialises in modern and contemporary designs and doesn't disappoint. I could spend hours scrolling through and favouriting pages.

That's one room down and two to go. With pinning well underway our next venture is the bedroom. Let me know if you would like me to share the finished result!

What do you think of our minimalist office? Do you use Pinterest for interior inspiration? 

Check out my boards and share your links below!

Gem. x

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Loosing My Matte Virginity | NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream


Until recently I had never owned a matte lip product. I think it's because I am always so worried about my lips being dry or chapped that I thought they would look terrible. But one day I saw the mother of all swatch videos from Emily Fox that made my forget my prior worries and I ran to boots to purchase one of the famous NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams.

With so many shades to choose from, I decided that my first of many should be something that I can wear every day. I opted for Stockholm, a nude peach shade. Surprisingly it's quite warm against my pale skin, but I like that. Paired with a light base this brings out blue in my eyes and just screams summer.  

I decided to test this at work, with four hours left of my shift and a renoundly destructive air-con it was pushed to its limits. And I'm happy to say it was still intact by the time I took my makeup off that evening.

The formula is almost weightless. You can feel the texture of the brush on your lips, but not the product. It feels silky, in a matte way. And the pigmentation is amazing. Flawless in fact. At first, it has a creamy look to it but within minutes, it dries to a completely matte finish. And gives off an amazingly sweet scent. Not as powerful as the butter glosses, but just enough to notice as you apply.

I can't believe that I avoided matte formulas for so long, it's not drying at all. Of course I make sure that my lips aren't dry or flakey and with a good base this wears like a dream. When drinking this hold up surprisingly well, and after lunch I did have a ring of sorts around the inside of my lips, but this was is no way visible unless I stuck my lips out like the kiss emoji. I simply smoothed it out with a lip balm and I was good to go. You could reapply, but I wouldn't worry about it.

I know that I will be adding more to my collection, in fact, I have a whole list of shades that I'm dying to get my hands on. Firstly Zurich a darker nude pink, Cannes a mauve nude, Antwerp a subtle coral and finally Amsterdam a soft pinky red.

Have you tried any of the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams? What do you think of the shade Stockholm? 

Gem. x

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A Cruelty-Free Wishlist

If you read Wednesday's post then you will know that I have made the decision to go cruelty-free. I've had a massive clear out and got rid of over half of my makeup collection. It's actually quite shocking to see how many brands still test on animals, but the market is changing so hopefully we will see a lot more brands going cruelty-free in the near future.

So with empty draws, It's time to refill them with lots of new products. I've already purchased a few things from NYX, Barry M and a few independent brands but I thought on this lazy Sunday I would show you what else is on my shopping list.


I am already a massive fan of the Pixi Glow tonic so I think it's finally time to delve into their makeup offerings. This is a water based tinted face gel, it's lightweight, moisturising and perfect for summer. It's supposed to even out your skin tone and give a 'flawless' no makeup look. I still expect to have to use concealer with this, but I've read a lot of reviews and this seems very promising.

I don't even need to explain this, who doesn't want Mary in their lives. I have seen hundreds of swatches and each one is breathtaking. I've been umming and ahhing about this for a while but my skin needs the glow. It needs it!

Okay, so I'm not ashamed to say I only want this because Kim Kardashian raved about it. Since then it's exploded and every beauty guru has a hold of it. It's essentially a liquid moisturiser that helps to set makeup and gives your skin a healthy glow. It can be used as a base underneath a tinted moisturiser or on top of makeup to keep your skin looking fresh throughout the day.

This claims to be a miracle in a jar, a radiance boosting powder leaving a luminous finish. I know, insane. I haven't used a setting powder in months just because it tends to set in my under eye creases and leaves them looking heavy and dull. This could just be the miracle I need.

Another cult product that speaks for itself. My lashes have always done their own thing, they're naturally long but it's the volume I look for. This is a collagen-fueled formula that promises full, dramatic, multidimensional lashes. Yes please!

Now this may look autumnal, the cranberry red and deep purple shades may throw you off. But sat next to two shimmery shades of champagne and antique gold they look fresh as a daisy. I will most definitely be experimenting with these over summer. And as a mega plus the palette comes with a cream eyeshadow base, it may not end up being the best but it's the thought that counts.

I have wanted to delve into the world of Josie Maran for so long, and this is the product to introduce me to all things Argan. The oil has been spun into a unique creamy butter to improve skin texture and give it a silky smooth finish. My skin has been so dry recently and I need a some serious hydration to be summer ready.

And last but by no means least, the budget bronzer of all budget bronzers. With four shades this has multiple uses in one pan. Swirl together to get a healthy bronzed glow or mix and match to suit your needs. I can definitely see myself relying on this, If I could use one product to do everything I would. I can't decide whether I'm lazy of just efficient. But I'm happy to run with either. 

So there it is, my current shopping list. Some of these products are definitely an online order and others I can pick up on the high-street, perfect for a cheeky little pick me up mid-month. 

What beauty products are on your wishlist at the moment? Anything I should be looking at?

Gem. x

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The Casual Trainers



I've never been the kind of person to wear trainers. My wardrobe is filled with ankle boots, brogues and loafers. But recently I've been leaning towards a more casual offering and bought my first pair of New Balance trainers. 

These are the 420's. A slimmer style with grey suede panels and wedge of burgundy. I have worn these almost every single day and for two reasons. 1. They're super comfortable 2. They go with everything. Honestly, jeans were a given. But I've been paring these with tailored trousers, cotton dresses and mini skirts.

With so many New Balance styles and colour ways the choices are endless. And why stop there? I've dug out my silver Superga's and classic Converse to wear during the warmer months. 

Comfort is king, and I feel like I've been converted.

How do you feel about trainers? Should they remain in the gym, or are they part of your daily staples?

Gem. x

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My Cruelty-Free Journey


Over the past couple of weeks I have undergone a rather significant change in my life. After lots of research I have cut all dairy and meat from my diet and have made the transition to cruelty-free cosmetics. I honestly thought it was going to be hard. I thought I would have to change my entire lifestyle but it's been seamless. 

I have been wanting to make these changes for a while now. I organised my makeup collection and tested alternatives until I set myself a date. So I thought I would share some tips for people wanting to make a similar change. I won't to go into specifics because everyone makes different decisions, improves themselves in different ways and have different ideals. But I am a firm believer that any of these changes can be accomplished with the same mindset and techniques.

Do your research


I watched documentaries, read plenty of books and spoke to people I knew to gather as much information as I could. I wanted to know exactly where I stood and what I believed in. It's been the biggest help for me knowing where I've drawn the line.

One of my main resources is Cruelty Free Kitty. I found Suzi's blog almost a year ago now and have had all of my questions answered by her posts. She explains certain laws, parent companies and updates her cruelty-free lists regularly. I was so happy to see some of my favourites listed and cannot wait to explore new ones. 

Prepare yourself


I did a lot of preparation and planned as much as I could weeks in advance. I stopped eating meat, cut out all dairy, and then slowly stopped eating foods which contained animal products. I tested lots of dairy alternatives and sorted my makeup collection into cruelty-free and not so cruelty-free piles. Pinterest has been my greatest tool during this transition. I have been pinning lots of vegan friendly recipes and found new brands, dupes and cult cruelty-free products. But remember it is a journey, it will take time. 

Inspire yourself


So you've planned and pinned to your hearts content. Now it's time to harness that energy and inspire yourself. I subscribed to lots of vegan YouTubers, found some fantastic quotes and bought a few ebooks for light reading. And by doing that I've started researching so much more. Places to eat, ethical clothing sources, different ways to recycle and outdoor festivals and events. I feel like I've caught the Eco bug and it feels fantastic.

Allow yourself some time.


Nothing changes overnight. It's great to make these changes but it does take time to adjust. For me it's been fairly easy, the only thing I've struggled with is substituting snacks. I'm a very snaky person and dairy is in a lot of things. After reading a million labels in stores I know what I can easily grab, but it has been tough and not all alternatives are readily available. But things are looking up, brands are introducing vegan alternatives, cruelty-free brands are expanding and the high street has become a lot more accommodating.

I am so exited to be embarking on this new journey and I can't wait to share it with you. Expect lots of new makeup looks, reviews and launches. I've made it one of my aims to not only explore high end and high street products but the independent ones as well. 

Let me know of any cruelty-free brands or products that I should be using!

Gem. x


Disclaimer. 

I understand that I posted a review of the Bourjois City Radiance Foundation two weeks ago. This was a scheduled post, and although I stand by the quality of the product (I have several tubes) I will no longer be using it. Bourgois claims to be a cruelty-free brand however they sell their products in mainland China, which by law means they must be tested on animals.

I have been writing on Slightgem for a few years now, and will retain all posts that feature non cruelty-free products. However from May 2016 I will only mention products that do not test on animals and products mentioned prior to this will be marked.

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