Sunday, 2 September 2012

Chewy, nutty, delicious pancakes

I have IBS. It's an absolute pain, sometimes literally. I have to be careful what I eat and often eating dairy produce can make me blow up like a dirigible and causes painful abdominal cramps.

One of the ways that the symptoms of IBS can be reduced is by increasing consumption of soluble fibre. Soluble fibre is, as it suggests, partially soluble in liquid and helps your intestines better process the food that you're eating through your system and improves digestive transit.

The most common way that people with IBS boost their intake of soluble fibre is by taking suppliments. Psyllium husk or ispaghula husk are two good sources of dietary fibre that you can get in powder form from health food shops but I have a problem with them. Once dissolved in liquid, they take on an almost gelatinous texture that makes me gag when I try to consume it. I was advised that you can get it in a capsule, but unfortunately capsules mean gelatine and I'm vegetarian which means I don't want hooves in my pills!

I visited a health food shop yesterday and had a chat with the assistant about this problem and she recommended milled flaxseed. Also high in soluble fibre, it doesn't have quite the same texture as the finely powdered psyllium or ispaghula and is more palatable. When I looked at their range, I came across this one:

(Image from

Seeds with nuts? Perfect! Not only does it up my soluble fibre intake, it also gives me a way to increase my intake of protein which, given I'm a veggie who has a problem with dairy, is not always great.

Today, I had my first go at using the stuff to make pancakes. To further increase the soluble fibre count I substituted half the flour for rolled oats that I blended in the food processor to chop up smaller.

So, this is the recipe.

Chewy, nutty pancakes
50g rolled oats
50g plain flour
35g Linwoods milled flaxseeds with nuts (you could substitute any flax-seed product for this one)
1tsp baking powder
One egg
150ml milk (I used almond milk, which worked beautifully)

Put oats, flour and flaxseeds in the food processor and whizz for 30 seconds to chop the oats down to size.

In a bowl, beat together the milk and egg. Add the flour, oats and flaxseeds with the 1tsp baking powder and mix to a batter with a loose dropping consistency. Leave to stand for 10 minutes or so to allow the oats and seeds to absorb the milk. When you return to it, it should be firmer dropping consistency.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Using an ice-cream scoop, add one scoop per pancake to the oil. When I'm making them, I can fit three pancakes in the pan at a time, but this will depend on the size of your pan.

Cook on the first side until the top is almost set, then flip using a plastic or silicon fish slice. Cook for a couple of minutes on the other side until there's no batter that comes from the sides if you press the top with the flat of the fish slice.

Serve warm with maple syrup. Makes 6-8 palm-sized pancakes.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

How to: ombré nail polish

Ombré seems to be all the rage at the moment. From dip-dyed clothes to ombré hair colour, faded is the fashion right now.

Inspired by a picture I'd seen on the 'net, I went in search of tips to create my own ombré nails. After reading a few sites, I compiled the tips from several sites into the following steps that seemed likely to give the best results.

You will need:

  • Some fingernails
  • 2-4 nail polishes from the same tonal range (I used shades of grey from almost-black to pale grey, shading into a natural pale pink)
  • A cosmetic sponge (I used the triangular wedge kind which seemed to work well)
  • Topcoat
  • Some cotton buds/Q tips
  • Nail polish remover

And it goes a little something like this:

  • Clean your nails and put on base coat and a foundation layer of your chosen colour. This could be the palest of your chosen polish shades or something different. For mine I used a pale pink intended for French manicure.
  • Once your base coat and foundation are completely dry - and I can emphasise enough how important it is for the final result that it is completely dry - open up your pots of nail polish ready for speedy painting.
  • Soak your cosmetic sponge in water and squeeze out. You want it to be damp rather than soaking wet.
  • Paint a stripe of your darkest shade close to the edge of the sponge. Overlap that with the next shade down and repeat as many times as you want for the effect you're going for. For mine, I used three shades, and my fingernails are currently about 2cm long (about 3cm for my thumbnail). 
  • Once you've painted your shades on the sponge, blot it a couple of times on a piece of scrap paper. This will remove the excess polish and help to blend the colours together.

  • Once blotted, dab the sponge on your fingernail, lining up the darkest shade with the tip of your nail. You may need to dab the sponge on a few times to get the effect you're looking for. That's fine. You don't need to be dead-on with your lining-up. Provided you're in roughly the same area, it'll all be fine. In fact, it also helps to blend the colours together a bit more.
  • Of course, you can reverse it so that the darkest shade is closest to your cuticle. This would probably work well as, in my experience, the main problem with dark shades is the fade at the tips as the polish wears. For my  money, I prefer dark tips, though. It's a bit of a departure from the norm.
  • Once you've stamped your Ombré onto your fingertips you'll have swanky nails... and one hell of a mess on your fingertips! This is where your cotton buds and nail polish remover come in. Dip the cotton buds in nail polish remover and clean up around the nails. The other way to do this is to wait til you next have a bath or shower and peel off the excess polish around your fingers.
  • Once the ombré is dry, finish it off with a topcoat. Not only will it help to prolong your manicure, it'll further blur the lines between the colours and improve the finish.

And that's it. The finished result is pretty classy and much easier to achieve than anyone might think. So just keep it to yourself, yeah? ;)