Skinny Chocolate Brownies

So by now you all know I am brownie obsessed, and rubbish at making them.
This is a bad combination.

I have so many different recipes for brownies, but they never turn out just gooey enough.
How do you get the optimum gooeyness in yours?

Is it too much for a girl to ask for a decent low cal, low Propoint, gooey, delicious, chocolatey brownie recipe?
It would seem so until Zest bought out their first dedicated healthy eating magazine, and put this gem of a recipe in it.

It's now my staple recipe for brownies, low fat or not.
Next time I'm replacing the macadamia's with salted cashews because I like that salty sweet combination.

As you can see by the pictures they got eaten quick. I had to grab the camera and snap away.


Skinny Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Zest

Serves - 16
Propoints per serving - 3
Calories per serving - 121

Ingredients:
110g pitted chopped dates
75g plain flour
25g cocoa
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs, beaten
50g low-fat spread, melted
60g macadamia nuts, chopped
50g milk chocolate chips
20g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
15g low-fat spread
20g icing sugar

Method:
Place the dates in a pan with 150ml water and bring to the boil, simmer gently for 5 minutes until soft, stirring until they form a thick, rough paste. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4. Line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment.
Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Beat together the eggs and melted spread and pour into the bowl. Stir to combine and then mix in the nuts and chocolate chips. Spoon in to the tin and bake for 15 - 20 minutes {mine took 17}. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
For the icing, melt the chocolate with the spread and stir in the icing sugar. Spread over the cooled brownie and use a fork to mark lines. Once set, cut into 16 squares. Store in an airtight container.

Go and make them this minute!

You can thank me later :)


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Literary Junkies

It seems like a lifetime since the last Literary Junkies Link-up. 
I've either missed one, or just read A LOT between Feb and March.

Anyway....

At the moment I'm reading 'Children of my Heart' by Gabrielle Roy. 
It's another charity shop buy and so far I'm liking it. I say so far I only have 60 pages to go! 
I connect with it because it's about a teacher and her experiences with different children. Its just nice and sweet. 
Source

The Bible and 'The Five People you Meet in Heaven' by Mitch Albom have both changed my perspective on life.
I life life more now. When I'm going through trials I don't worry so much, and when things are going great I remember to give thanks.

The book I recommend most to people is 'The Crimson Petal and The White' by Michel Faber. It's the book that got me hooked on reading as an adult. I may have also got slightly obsessed with the author and sent him too many e-mails, I was boarding on being a stalker. The writing is beautiful, plot inventive, and characters you fall in love with.
Just don't watch the TV adaptation. I'm a purist, but I hated it.

Source

The three top books on my to-read list are:
Bedlam by Gregg Hollingshead.
The Child That Books Built by Francis Spufford.
In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters.

You can follow me on Goodreads to see more of my to-do list.

Doing other things whilst reading; never!
I just sit. Normally at night, with a single night light on. Cosy with my own imagination.

What do you do whilst reading?

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Following?

So we are back at the start of a new week.

Did you all have a good weekend?
Got anything exciting planned this week?

Can I also just ask where IS March going? Seriously we are halfway through the month already. In fact where is this year going. I feel like there is even less time to get everything accomplished.

If you hadn't heard Google Reader is finally going bye-bye's. This doesn't really matter to me, because I didn't use it anyway, I've always been a Bloglovin' gal.
For those of you who need a knew way to keep coming and saying hi, here are your options;

You can follow by e-mail too. Just enter your e-mail into the box on my sidebar.

I hope you choose at least one of them. I don't want to have to say bye to you.

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Lemon Cake with Raspberry + Yogurt Frosting

So we arrive at the end of the week.

How was yours? 
If anything, what would you have done differently?

Working again has been somewhat of a shock to the system and I think I might sleep for 18 hours tonight, but I have loved ever minute, and I can't wait for next week to start.

It was Mother's Day on Sunday and I knew if I was going to make nice yummies to eat they were going to have to be healthy.

I love healthy food, but when it comes to cakes and biscuits I'm really sceptical. 
Biscuits always seem to be tiny, and not worth the calories. As for cakes, you often get a piece that is so thin you can see through it, and they never taste like you think cake should.

I found this recipe on the Weight Watchers website, and I was pleasantly surprised.

I'm not going to tell you that it stands up to a 4 layer frosting clad monster, it doesn't, but you get a decent sized slice, it tastes great and its not dry!


Lemon Cake with Raspberry and Yogurt Frosting
Adapted from Weightwatchers.co.uk

Serves - 8
ProPoints per serving - 4

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
3 eggs
75g caster sugar
Zest from 2 lemons
75g plain flour
Pinch of salt
200g medium fat cream cheese
2tbsp Greek yogurt
2 tbsp lemon curd
75g raspberries

Method:
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5. Spray a 26x16cm, or 9 inch square cake tin with cooking spray and line with baking parchment.
In a large bowl whisk the eggs, sugar and half the lemon zest together until very thick, light and airy; about 5 minutes. Gently fold in the flour and salt using a large metal spoon. Spoon into the tin and level the surface.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until risen and firm, yet springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.
Beat the cream cheese, yogurt, lemon curd and remaining lemon zest together. Spread over the cool cake, and then top with the raspberries.
Cut into 8 and serve.


Meet someone just as sweet, in fact sweet than this cake.

Malorie from The Daily Frenchie



She's getting married in just over 150 days! Go and wish her good luck and congratulations. Also you should definitely join in with her film club.

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The Simple Things

Source

I love this time of year. 
The sun starts shining through the sporadic flurries of snow.
Layers start to come off.
The morning dew is sparkling on blades of glass like diamonds.
Birds start singing.
The world becomes colourful again.
It is a time for renewal, celebration, and taking that big deep breath that makes the world seem right.
Closing your eyes and walking bare foot through long blades of grass.
Laughing with friends.
Making and wearing daisy chains as if you are the princess of Spring.
Rolling down hills until you are covered in grass stains.
Kissing in the rain.
Spontaneous picnics in the late evening sunshine.
Hours spent in beer gardens just soaking up the atmosphere.
Walks through the countryside.
Sharing good food.
Trying new things.
Running away from bees and wasps.
Waking up early just so you can see a new dawn rising.
Singing so loud people start to look at you funny.
Getting off work on time so you can go out in the sun.
Dreams of holidays start seem a little more real.
The morning light streaming through your window,
as you slowly rise to begin another day, enjoying:
the simple things.

Meet



Winter is the editor of Christ Centred Home Magazine.  I LOVE their website. Seriously, it's one of the reads that I know is going to uplift me every single time. You can even download the first issue of their magazine!

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Pork Patties and Radish Tzatiki

How is your week going?

It's Wednesday! You're half way through!

I am LOVING being on work experience. To be honest I just want to pick one of the children up and bring them home with me, but I really don't think that's allowed.
I'm grateful for the opportunity though, as it has really focused my mind onto what I actually want to do and what I've been praying for. I honestly think providing me with the chance to do this is God's way of answering my prayers. We're SO blessed to be loved by such a wonderful God.

I guess we should get onto this recipe.

You have to have a Greek night this week. I absolutely insist. Partly so you can try this recipe, and partly so you can eat family style. Who doesn't love digging in to lots of yummy looking bowls on the table?



Greek Pork Patties with Radish Tzatziki

Serves - 4 
Propoints per serving (3 patties and 1/4 of the tzatziki) - 7

Ingredients:
For the pork patties
500g very lean pork mince
large handful fresh breadcrumbs
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
finely grated zest of 1 lemon (use the juice in the tzatziki)
2tsp dried oregano
2 egg
cooking spray
For the tzatziki
200g low -fat Greek yogurt
1tbsp chopped dill
16 small radishes, roughly chopped
garlic clove, crushed
juice of a lemon

Method:
Put the pork, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, lemon zest, oregano and egg in a bowl and season generously. Mix together well and form into 12 patties. Chill until ready to use.
For the tzatziki, mix all the ingredients together and season. 
Heat a pan to high. Spray the patties with cooking spray and cook for 2-3 minutes each side.
Serve with tzatziki alongside.

I served mine with the flat bread I made a few weeks back. 

Go on plan a night in Greece!

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Get Clickin'


I've found so many great new things this week:

The lovely Danette has set up a new blog looking at plus-sized fashion and living healthy. Check out Perfectly Pear.

A sweet reminder to keep smiling.

I'll be making time to do these 4 things everyday.

I tried this simple side messy bun for short hair and LOVED it.

I use the portion plate I made all the time.

I love reading people's bucket lists. They give me so many more ideas.

What great links have you found recently?

I have one last link for you today.

Meet Erica from We Three Crabs

On her blog she shares reviews, recipes and anecdotes of her everyday family life. I definitely trying her recipe for spinach dip!



You're going to see her round here a lot lately, so go and say hello and get to know her.
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Weekend Make - Portion Control Plate

Let me indulge myself for a second. 9lbs, 9lbs, 9lbs are gone! Yay!

OK self-indulgence over, on with this weekends make.

DIY Sharpie Portion Control Plate


I'm sure many of you have seen portion control plates around. Well I've been wanting one for a stupidly long amount of time, but they are always SO expensive.

Thank goodness for the Sharpie writing on everything phase that has been happening over the past few months.

You'll need:
A single colour dinner plate
A Sharpie
An oven

How to:

Make sure the plate is clean and completely dry.
Heat your oven to Gas Mark 6.
Write whatever you wish on the plate. I made one half and then 2 quarters on the plate, and labelled them fruits and veggies, protein, starch.
Bake for 30 minutes. 
Test the plate by washing it and if the Sharpie rubs off, just dry, draw again and put it in the oven for a little longer. 30 minutes should do it though!

Super simple right.

A plate that would have cost me £15, cost me £1 instead.

Have a wonderful and blessed weekend friends.
UK sisters, don't forget to treat your Mother tomorrow!

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Top Apps

The title explains everything about this post.
I'm about to unleash my favourite apps on you for Android. I have both an Android phone and tablet and will admit I am constantly on them. I have a rule though; I cannot just mindlessly gaze through the internet. If I'm going to use it, it has to have a direct purpose in my life.


Photos

Instagram - love it! I don't really need to say any more  I don't use it enough and I certainly don't harness its full potential, but it allows me to share snippets of my daily life with you lot so I'm happy.

Travel

Tripit - whoever thought of this is clearly a genius  You just e-mail your flight, hotel and car rental confirmations to Tripit and it keeps track of all the vital details you don't want to lose whilst your away.

Fitness

Fitocracy - who doesn't love an app that turns your workout into a game? You even earn points for each activity you do and every time you visit. As far as I'm concerned competition is the ultimate motivator.

Foodie

Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner - just search by cooking time and ingredient, give your phone a quick shake and as if my magic you have lots of different options for dinner. Fantastic to keep variety in your diet.

Boredom Busters

Goodreads - create virtual bookshelves, make bookworm friends, review books and create challenges for yourself. A book lovers ultimate delight.

Flipboard - rather than spend money on several different magazines just so you can read the different articles, download Flipboard. Just pick a few topics/publications that you are interested in and it will show you a selection of beautifully organised news stories for you to read at your leisure.

What is the one app you don't think you could live without? Disregarding e-mail, twitter, facebook and pinterest!

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Living A Fulfilled Life

Last night I went to small group at church for the first time.
Now, believe it or not I am inherently shy, and I find it difficult to walk into a room of people I don't know.
So I got there and everything was fine, and we started discussing what had been said at Church on Sunday. 

I didn't say a thing. I whole meeting I just sat in silence and listened. 
Listened, because I knew what was being said was something I wanted to share with you.

Our discussion was based around John 10:10

"The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life."

I've had a heavy heart for the past few days and it was only in that moment that I realised what the thief in my life is. Trying to blind me from my faith.

My thief is the importance I put on other people's opinions on me.

What's your thief in life?

You can overcome the thief's in your life sweet one, by placing your heart with the one who speaks the truth. Don't give your heart to a false sheperd, their aim isn't to glorify Christ, but themselves.

What is a fulfilled life?

I thought this discussion was really interesting, as I think we all struggle to understand what a fulfilled life is, never mind about living one.

Here's my take on it all.

Living a fulfilled life doesn't mean going wine tasting in California one weekend and scuba diving in New Zealand the next.
It is a completely individual thing. 
You can sit at home all day every day and still have had a fulfilled life, if that is what gives you joy.

To me a fulfilled life is:
Praising God and reading his word every day.
Connecting with people at church.
Having a job I love.
Service.
Blogging.

Your things may and probably will be totally different and that is OK.
I encourage you to write your list brave girl.

When I got home from small group my mind was full of ideas and I knew all I wanted to do was read further, and really form my own opinions. That is when I came across Luke 2.
Here the bible tells us the attributes Jesus was born with and that God's favour was on him.

"There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God's favour was on him." Luke 2:40

Then were encouraged to grow in these things in order to stay in God;s favour.

"Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and all the people." Luke 2:52

Look through Romans 13 and you are given guidelines for how to live a fulfilled life.

"Love fulfils the requirements of God's law." Romans 13:10

"Clothe yourself with the presence of Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 13:14

Find out what gives you a fulfilled life beautiful girl and don't let the thief's in your life steal that away.

A Royal Daughter

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Stress Head

Morning sweetness!

Before you start reading this post I want you to take a deep breathe and promise me the next 24 hours of your life are going to be stress free. OK semi-stress free.

I'm sure you've all had that moment where you're sat at your desk and work/family/friends/just life is stressing you out. It gets to the point where you can actually imagine pulling your own hair out in frustration. 

How do you stop these moments?

Sometimes the things that stress us out are things we can't avoid, but we can learn how to deal with it all better.

I read in Zest magazine recently that "today's average level of anxiety is equivalent to what was considered clinical in the 50's". I know times have changed drastically, but that is still a worrying thought.

Are you a stress head?

I wouldn't count myself as a major stress head. There are moments when projects aren't going right and I get frustrated, but these moments pass.
Over the past few months I've learnt, and honestly I'm still learning to appreciate the little things. Like you beautiful people. 
Do I get stressed out sometimes because I can't think of anything to write? Yes. 
Do I get annoyed with myself when I forget to take a photo for that recipe post and have to recreate the whole thing? Yes
Do I also know that you're not going to stop reading just because I miss a couple of posts? Yes

Do you have any tips for the stress heads in your life?

My big one is EVALUATE.
Really think about what is causing that stress. Is the outcome of not finishing it right now going to be that earth shattering. If it does need to be finished right now, break it down into manageable chunks, get rid of distractions and focus on the task in hang. 

Switch OFF technology.
Getting a good night's sleep is vital to being at your most productive the next day. If you're one of those people who checks their e-mails in bed - switch it off. There are only certain people who HAVE to answer an e-mail after 9pm i.e. people who run countries!

Take TIME.
Even if it's only 5 minutes, take time to do something for yourself.
My thing?
Reading. Whether its a fiction book, magazine, blogs, or the bible. If I can feel myself getting worked up I take 5 minutes out to do something I love.

What is your 5 minute thing?

Have a wonderful day beautiful girl and take your advice from Annie,


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Meet this months featured sponsor

Mocha Brownie Bites

As you can see via the button on my sidebar right over there ------->

6lbs have gone from my body :) Sexy lady right here!

I haven't given up anything. I just couldn't. I know there's things I can't eat LOADS of, but have I given them up? Nope!

I've also upped my fitness, but this is thanks to the two MASSIVE hills I have to walk up to get back from work.

What are you doing this month to be/stay healthy?

Whatever your doing, make sure you include these brownie bits in that plan.

TO. DIE. FOR


Mocha Brownie Bites
Makes - 20
ProPoints per serving (1 brownie) - 1

Ingredients:
100g self-raising flour
15g cocoa powder
40g light brown or caster sugar
1 egg
40ml sunflower oil
70ml milk
1 tsp dried coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp of hot water
Icing sugar to dust, if desired.

Method:
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and prepare 2 12 hole bun tins with cases. If you have mini bun tins great, if not don't worry.
Sift together the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl. Mix in the sugar.
In a separate bowl beat together the egg, oil, milk, and coffee mixture. Add to dry ingredients and mix until it resembles a thick batter; don't over mix.
Divide the batter between the cases and bake for 12 minutes, until risen. Cool on a wire rack, dust with icing sugar and devour!


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Meet this month's sponsor

Working Girl

As I sit writing this I am working out just exactly how many months I've been unemployed for.

The answer's 8. 8 months of not working a single day. 

Some of you may be sat there thinking 'oh my goodness how amazing would it be if I didn't have to work for 8 months!'

The thought of it is fantastic, but the reality; not so much.

Anyway I didn't mean to start off this post being a self-pitying unemployment rant.

I got a job!

Well work experience. It counts right? After sending out many letters I've secured myself a months work experience in a local primary school.

This post serves as a warning.
If I don't post, my posts make no sense, or I take AGES to reply to you; I have worker brain.

Working full-time after 8 months of nothing is going to be hard. Add to that that fact that I've never been a full-time worker and blogger at the same time, I expect the next 4 weeks to be tiring, hard, crazy, moody, and utterly amazing.

My Mum bought me a quote card about 9 years ago and it still speaks to me now. As I was writing this I felt that its words might help one of you.


Whatever great adventures are happening in your life this month. Make it loving, faithful and happy, and just remember; don't quit, ever!
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Weekend Make - Cucumber and Almond Face Mask


I'll admit it.
It does't look like something you want to put on your face, right?
Do you also agree that looks can be deceptive?
Then promise me you'll try it.

Who doesn't love a completely home-made pamper session?

I don't what your skin is like, but mine is SUPER oily. This mask is perfect for combating it.

Here's why the ingredients are SO good for your skin;

Cucumber - reduces puffiness and redness. Make sure you are using it straight from the fridge to get all the cooling effects.
Almonds - are full of vitamin E, which is great for your skin. Using ground almonds in this recipe also acts as a abrasive.
Witch Hazel - is anti-inflammatory, moisturising, and can protect against sun damage!
Milk - contains vitamins A and D, as well as probiotics.

You'll need:
4 tbsp peeled and mashed cucumber
3 tbsp ground almonds
1 tbsp witch hazel tincture
2 tbsp organic milk, any type you normally drink.

Mix all ingredients together.
Leave on your face for 10 mins and wash off.

Go on, pamper yourself tonight.

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Meet this month's featured sponsor

His Promise To You

I spent most of today just sat at my desk staring, wondering what to write here.

I have the ideas.
I was originally going to pose a new link-up idea to you all, but I'm not feeling it. Then there is always that recipe for mocha brownie bites I keep meaning to post, but that isn't it either.
I feel like there is something God wants me to say to you today sweet friend, but I'm not sure how to say it.

Yesterday was special for me, I felt something. Things happened yesterday that I couldn't have foreseen  but someone did; God.
I woke up, made 'proper' coffee, sat with my bible and read. Then listened to Moriah Peters whilst writing a blog post. In the afternoon Mum, Matt and I took the dog for a long walk. The evening ended with dad and I going out for a meal and a show.
All that sounds like a pretty packed and wonderful day. It was. The most wonderful thing about it though was that I couldn't stop smiling.

You all know how turbulent things have been for me over the past 18 months, and its been a long time since I genuinely smiled for no reason. Well yesterday, whilst listening to music and writing for you here I did. I smiled that genuine, infectious, hurts your cheeks kind of smile. During the walk I saw the beauty in everything, I mean EVERYTHING. I felt like someone had turned a light on in my world, lifted all the weight off my shoulders and allowed to to step into my future.


All this was amazing, but I didn't know why it had happened.

That is until this morning.

I was laid reading my Woman Alive magazine and came across the article 'God's Promise When We Commit'.

That's when I realised that things aren't happening in my life because I was taking the weight of the worry, and that is not meant for me. I needed to hand everything over to God and trust in his promise that his judgement and authority in my life is beautiful and true.


I hope you take something away from my story today sweet friend. I want to see that infectious smile spread across your face when you give all your worries to God.

I urge you beautiful girl to put everything into his hands. It really doesn't matter how big or small it is, he wants it all. You are so blessed to have his love. 
Be true to the Lord, and make sure everything you do is for him. 


Thank him for the amazing events and people he is putting in your life, you may not even know what these are yet, but trust me they are there.

Have a blessed day sweet friends.
God is good.
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