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This is a soup my mum likes to cook - and is actually one of the few edible things she can produce, not being gifted in the culinary arts. I believe she borrowed the recipe from a friend who said it might help her lose weight. It's a very light soup while still being warm and filling. Anyway, here it how to make it:
1 red pepper
1 red onion
2 liters of water
Peel and halve the butternut squash and remove the seeds. Do the same to the red pepper. Slice the red onion up thinly. Add all the vegetables into the saucepan along with the water and the vegetable stock (my mother usually uses one of those cube ones). Bring it slowly to boil and allow to simmer until the butternut squash has softened up.
Remove from the heat, allow the soup to cool and blitz it either in a blender or with one of those handheld ones. Serves 6-8 people.
This is a very very simple soup, and as such, is pretty low in calories while being high in fiber content. It's very filling and nice with cracked black pepper. It's very much an autumn soup and the rich orange-red colour reminds me of that season (my mother makes it all year round). It can be a little bland, so additions to the recipe could be garlic, chilis, spices, etc. It could also be cooked with tomatoes. But, to be honest, I like it how it is.
I have fibromyalgia, which is basically chronic pain and tiredness that (in my case) can't really be treated with medication or therapies. I'm in a few groups for people with this condition, and one person mentioned in particular how much a magnesium supplement helped them with managing their pain. I thought I'd give it a go.
(It's obviously a good idea to check with your doctor if you can take these before you do.)
These tablets are really big. They must be 3cm long. That's the first thing I noticed. They're also white. They don't taste of anything (thankfully). You swallow them with water.
Magnesium is a metal, surprisingly, and a deficiency of magnesium is related to diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis, and asthma. It's vital for all cells in the body (though don't ask me why). Taking magnesium can help prevent PMS, migraines and fibromyalgia pain.
Personally, I haven't noticed much of a difference in my fibro pain. It's difficult to gauge what difference magnesium supplements have made to PMS and migraines, which I also with, due to some bad effects of the contraceptive pill to those conditions.
Overdose is rare, but possible, especially for people with reduced kidney function. Naturally it's found in leafy green vegetables, cereals, nuts, coffee, tea and cocoa.
I still keep taking magnesium, as I believe it isn't doing me any real harm, even if it doesn't help me very much. I haven't had any side-effects from taking it, but some people do get upset stomachs, as far as I'm aware.
I have hypothyroidism, and I've been told not to take NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen) with my thyroxine medication. I don't know if it's the same for everybody, as looking online people seem to have different opinions on whether these medications clash or not, but I am sticking to what my doctor told me... Which was to stick to paracetamol for pain relief.
Now I also have chronic pain and tiredness (fibromyalgia). Paracetamol doesn't touch this pain. As my liver is kind of weird, I try to stay away from pain medications most of the time, so I almost exclusively use paracetamol for period pains. And it works.
I'm as shocked as anyone that 500mg of paracetamol can ease the horrible cramps I feel in my back and stomach when I'm menstruating. I usually take 2 caplets every 2-4 hours. It's best not to take 8 in any 24 hours. The caplets taste awful. It's almost vomit-inducing. But they work. What else can I say? For 19p or so, they work. You could buy coated ones for more than that and avoid the horrible taste of paracetamol, but... You know, I keep saying this, but they do the job.
I have no idea how paracetamol works. But it can be effective treatment of headaches and other minor pains. They're not over the counter, and you can buy these ones for 19p (as previously mentioned) over at your local ASDA.
I have nothing but praise for these tablets. Other people will need something stronger, but these are fine for me.
This a thermometer. As everyone knows, it's a device to check body temperature. Unlike those little strips you remember from your childhood (don't you?) that you used to hold on your forehead, oral thermometers measure the temperature inside a heat pocket inside your mouth, which should correlate to your actual internal temperature. (Instead of the temperature of your forehead skin.) Digital thermometers do one better. Instead of using mercury (potentially dangerous if it breaks), they measure temperature another way and display the temperature in numbers on the display bit of the thermometer. This makes it safer and harder to misread. It can be inserted into various places to measure temperature in the mouth, armpit and rectum. However, read the leaflet accompanied by the thermometer, as readings in other parts of the body don't necessarily have the same baseline temperature.
This one was £5.99 from Boots. The thermometer comes in a plastic casing inside a box.
Personally I've only used this orally. I can see why it might be useful to use it in the armpit, but I admit I wouldn't be too keen to use this the other way. The instructions show the location of the heat pocket in the mouth (where to aim the probey thing for). Simply press a button, wait for a beep, shove it in and wait 60 seconds for it to bleep again. Then you can read the temperature.
To clean, wash with water and wipe with rubbing alcohol.
This is a good thermometer, everyone should have one. As for downsides, I do notice that I go cross-eyed trying to read the temperature when it's still in my mouth. That's all I really.
This a recipe for a no-hassle fruit smoothie. All you need are the ingredients listed and a blender. It's extremely refreshing - and it's also pretty healthy, being full of fiber and dairy. However, make sure to get FAT FREE yoghurt, as it's incredibly easy to eat 2x the recommended daily allowance of fat with full-fat yoghurts in this smoothie. So without further ado, this is how to make a fruit smoothie, miwa style.
450g bag frozen berries
450g pot yogurt (fat free)
2 tsp honey
You can also supplement plain yoghurt with strawberry or raspberry flavoured yoghurt. Don't bother defrosting the fruit (let alone boiling with sugar, lol), but make sure you only add manageable chunks of frozen berries into the blender, and not the whole punnet, or it might break.
Add the milk, yoghurt and frozen berries into the blender. Turn it on. And there you go. Though it may be a little tart for some, so adding honey to taste is allowed. Blend until everything is smooth and serve. This makes 4 glasses of smoothie.
One idea which I've tried before is adding porridge oats to the mix to add more fiber content. For this, you need about 25g of porridge oats. I don't actively blend these into the smoothie. Don't cook them as you usually would, just stir them through the finished smoothie while still in the blender until nice and smooth, and serve.
For vegans, supplement milk and yoghurt with the soya equivalents. I have tried this a few times as I am lactose intolerant (I usually take medication for it), and the taste is a little different, but fine.
This is what my mum calls a milk loaf. It's a white bread loaf but would also be OK with wholegrain flour, I guess. The recipe uses golden syrup and milk.
Here's a quick write-up on how to make your own.
15g golden syrup
25g melted butter
350ml milk (must be warm)
10g yeast (fresh is best)
250g plain flour
250g strong bread flour
How to make it:
Gently heat up milk in on the hob. Take it off and add it to golden syrup and butter in a large bowl until all is melted/combined.
Slowly dissolve in the yeast.
Mix both flours and the salt into the bowl and mix until everything is smooth. This is your dough. Clingfilm the bowl and let the yeast rise for 5 minutes or so. Do not put in the fridge.
Flour your work surface, and knead the dough til soft but still elastic - or usually about 10min.
Cover and let the dough rest again for about an hour.
Grease and flour a typical bread tin. Add flour to the dough, divide into two equal balls and place into the bread tin. Leave to rise.
Preheat the oven to 220C/410F/Gas 7.
Place into the oven, but turn the temperature down after 10 minutes (to 180C/350F/Gas 4) and bake until the bread is golden-brown or around 25 minutes.
Leave bread to cool. This serves around 5-7 people. It's also nice with sultanas added to the mix in the first step. As it is, it goes well with cheese.
This is a recipe for homemade macadamia and white chocolate chip cookies. It includes ingredients and cooking times. So you have no excuse not to try them out as soon as possible.
I got the recipe online many years ago, but I can't remember where. I believe it's been tweaked enough anyway to be considered personalised.
250g unsalted butter, softened
A pinch of salt
220g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1-2 handfuls of white chocolate
1-2 handfuls of macadamia nuts
You'll also need a large bowl, spoon, clingfilm, sieve and an oven. Probably an oven glove is a good idea as well.
How to cook
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar together.
Add in a beaten egg, a little at a time, until thoroughly mixed.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and mix until smooth.
Pour cookie batter onto large sheet of clingfilm. Fold over cookie dough. Refrigerate (or freeze for later use).
While waiting, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
When dough has firmed up, cut 1cm round slices from it and arrange on a baking tray. Make sure to leave adequate spacing - cookies will expand as they cook!
Bake for 8-10 minutes. You can bake as they are. Alternatively, add a sprinkling of ginger, or more chocolate chips and nuts.
Cookies should be a golden brown when removed from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before digging in.
Not suitable for people with allergies or food intolerances, unfortunately.
In the Elizabethan age, women applied tinctures of belladonna (deadly nightshade) to their eyes, thinking it made them look brighter and sparkly. The same ethos compels these eye brightening drops by Optrex. But instead of containing belladonna, they contain...
Ingredients (taken from boots.co.uk website):
Witch Hazel, Naphazoline Hydrochloride, Purified Water
Now doesn't that sound slightly healthier?
I use my computer a lot, and I also have distichiasis. The latter is a rare genetic mutation (heh) that I share with Elizabeth Taylor. It means I have multiple rows of eyelashes. 3 rows on the top eyelid, 2 rows on the bottom. This also means I have 2-3 times the number of eyelashes that want to fall into my eye. Thus, I am one of those freaks who not only can apply eye drops quickly and efficiently, but actually rather enjoy it. These eye drops are fairly useful, though not indispensable for the task of removing eyelashes and generally making dry and tired eyes feel a bit cooler and more lubricated.
If you wear contacts, don't apply these eye drops while wearing them; wait for 15 minutes before inserting contact lenses after using these eye drops.
Users are also cautioned:
"You can use Optrex Eye Brightening Drops often, but not daily. Don't use the drops more than 4 times in any 24-hour period."
The drops also contain a whitening agent, which is a bit odd (I didn't know about this). It seems a bit weird to want to bleach your eyes. Maybe just using the computer less is a better alternative to these drops. After all, we don't want to get all Elizabethan, do we?
When I had a nasty cough a while back, I asked my doctor what cough syrups or mixtures were most effective. She said that basically none of them were medically proven to help cure coughs. Keep this in mind when reading this review of Covonia chesty cough mixture... mentholated style.
Ingredients (taken from the boots UK website):
Peppermint oil, anise oil, capsicum tincture (capsicum oleoresin, ethanol), sucrose, liquid glucose magnesium aluminuim silicate, sodiam methyl, ethyl, and propyl hydroxbenzoates (E215, E217, E219), glycerol (E422).
This can cause allergic reactions, as well as low potassium and increased sodium.
Not for children under 5. Must be aged 16 or over to buy.
You know when you have a nasty cough. It's tickly and exhausting. Even though my doctor said cough mixtures and syrups do nothing medically, even if it's just the psychological benefit of doing something to treat the cough, it works for me. And if you're going to pick cough mixtures on a psychological basis, you have to get something strong. And this is strong. It tastes horrific, like some of Satan's unmentionable body fluids, but the feeling of warmth in the chest is incomparable. Even the horrible taste itself adds to the experience. So yeah, I have no problem with taking this.
I was surprised at the number of, well, E numbers in ingredients. Presumably these are preservatives or colourants. It might be worth reading around on how to make your own herbal tincture, for people bothered by this (like me). However, you probably aren't going to be thinking about this when you're sick as a dog - which might be why you're willing to pay £6.29 for 300ml.
When I was growing up, we never used brand-named medical products, for some reason. We always used Superdrug's own antiseptic cream. Savlon was a relatively new purchase for my household, though it may be a staple in many other people's.
Savlon is an antiseptic cream that you apply to a cut, graze, insect bite, or boil to disinfect the area and aid healing. It can also be used for nappy rash and sunburn and minor burns. It's white in colour, smells a little medical, and when applied to a wound usually does not sting.
The wound should be washed before applying the cream. Hands should also be washed, as Savlon is usually applied by the finger, but I guess can also be applied by cotton bud or cotton wool.
Ingredients (from boots.co.uk):
Also contains: Cetostearyl Alcolhol, Liquid Paraffin, Methylhydroxybenzoate, Propylhydroxybenzoate, Perfume, Purified Water.
The price is £2.18 for a 30g tube from Boots shops or boots.co.uk
Personally, I don't find this any more effective than Superdrug's own brand antiseptic cream. But as I have it in the house, I do use it whenever the need arises. I would balk at the price for using it to treat nappy rash, however.
Savlon antiseptic cream should never be used on the eyes, ears, or inside the body. The Boots website also reminds us that continued use should be discontinued if any irritation occurs. But I've really had no problems with Savlon - I've never had an infection either, so I imagine it's doing the job. If only it were a little better than store-brand products, it might justify the price more.
TCP is a well-known antiseptic product in the UK. Unlike creams or gels, this TCP product is in a liquid form as an antiseptic.
This liquid antiseptic can be applied to wounds like cuts, scrapes, grazes, boils, insect bites, spots, etc. It can be used neat and diluted with water for whatever treatment.
I've also heard of people using it for coldsores and sore throats, but this doesn't seem like a good idea to me. Unless something is marked for internal use, it's probably just best to use it topically / externally. And obviously keep it away from the eyes as well.
The smell of TCP has always been distinctive and this product is no different. It's extremely medicinal.
There is some stinging when applying it to open wounds, such as a cut or graze. But again this has a very medicinal feeling to it, like using hydrogen peroxide. However this liquid does not fizz. The stinging is only minor, but you may want to use something else for very young children.
I apply it with a cotton pad, such as one might use for make-up remover. The liquid dries fairly quickly when applied.
The bottle is dark coloured glass and should be stored in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
This TCP liquid antiseptic is available to buy for the princely sum of £3.79 at Boots. That's for a bottle of 500ml. A bottle does last a long time as you only use very little at a time, so is good value.
I had bad eczema as a child, and occasionally have flare-ups. I used to have it most prominently on the crooks of my elbows and the back of my knees. I was prescribed this Eumovate cream for this eczema, though I understand it can also be used to treat dermatitis.
The cream is available in a pretty small tube (15g) and is applied to skin topically. It can't be applied to broken skin, or on the genitals, face or between the toes.
The cream contains hydrocortisone, which is a kind of steroid and should not be used very much, as it could cause side-effects. But for minor use on non-broken skin there shouldn't be any side-effects. You can't use this cream with any other steroidal treatment. Here are the other ingredients:
Ingredients (from boots.co.uk):
Other ingredients: Glycerol, Glycerol Monostearate, Cetostearyl Alcohol, Beeswax substitute 6621, Arlacel 165, Dimeticone 20, Chlorocresol, Sodium citrate, Citric acid monohydrate and purified water.
The cream itself is clear-ish, and doesn't really smell of anything. It's fairly thick, and can take a while to absorb into the skin -even dry skin. So probably best to do this before you put on clothes, in case it stains them.
I've used this very sparingly since I was a child (not the same tube, obviously). It's always managed to clear up any flares of eczema I had, with no adverse effects.
I got it free on prescription, but it's available to buy over the counter from Boots for the price of £6.29.
As soon as the nights start drawing in, my mother, without fail, brings out the olbas oil + tissue + radiator treatment... I've always hated the smell, as I associated it with sickness. But after a few wretched months of sinusitis, I had to admit... Olbas oil kind of does works. I am begrudgingly converted.
A bit more about the smell: my niece described it succinctly. "Poo." Now it may not remind anyone else of, erm, manure, but the smell of olbas oil really is cloying and overpowering. But therein lies the mechanism of action. It is so strong your sinuses have no choice but to smell it. I have a theory that the scent itself makes snot run for the hills, but maybe that's just me.
So what's in olbas oil to make it smell?
"Olbas Oil is a special mixture of pure plant oils, with ingredients including clove oil, eucalyptus, juniper berry and cajuput."
But how does it work?
The idea is the vapors released in the extremely concentrated bottle of oil open up the sinuses and help you to breathe. I don't know the science behind it, but hey, it works.
It is expensive for what it is, but cheaper than many similarly small bottles of essential oil. Olbas oil is £3.25 for 125ml. If you want to smell like your nan (or more importantly, breathe like a normal person when you have a blocked nose), you could spend a lot more on products that may not work as well.
These Fast Aid antiseptic clear plasters are apparently for people who get a bit embarrassed over a cut or graze and wish to conceal it - while still having optimum protection from infection.
I'm not really sure these plasters do the job, though.
First of all, kudos, they're clear enough. They have a pad in the middle (to go over the wound), though, which is fairly obvious. This will not conceal anything! The same brand do 'clear film' plasters, which seem a bit misguided (imagine peeling a scab off along with your plaster!)
Secondly, they aren't too sticky. This might be good for super hirsute among you - and I have to admit I really dislike taking off plasters. I'm the kind of person who scratches a little bit of plaster up, runs it under water, peels it back a little more... in a way that can be described as torturous at times. But these plasters will fall off before you know it, by getting caught on clothes or by getting wet. This leads to the horrible "pruney finger" effect, wherein one washes their hands or bathes and the water is caught under the plaster, making the pad swell and prune up. I'm not really sure if this phenomenon affects other parts of the body... Hit me up if you have any info...
On chemistdirect they are £1.66 for 100 plasters. This makes them probably quite expensive. They aren't very good for that price, in my honest opinion, but the decision is yours!
I have a 3 year old niece who isn't in nappies anymore. However, she does still suffer with rashes in that area still, probably from those "dry nights" pull-ups she wears to sleep in. As she isn't my child I can't exactly advise my brother and his wife to perhaps look for alternatives. However, we do use Sudacrem on her nappy rash, which seems to help.
Sudacrem has always been packaged the same way, a small grey tub with red lettering. It's iconic, really. A 125g tub will set you back £2-£3, but a little goes a long way and you may find it's good value for that price.
Ingredients (taken from boots.co.uk)
Zinc oxide, EP 15.25
Benzyl alcohol, BP 0.39
Benzyl benzoate, BP 1.01
Benzyl cinnamate 0.15
Lanolin (hypoallergenic) 4.00
All Other ingredients:
Heavy Liquid Paraffin
The ingredients contain more natural ingredients than I thought they would - lavender, beeswax (OK, synthetic beeswax) - but the main selling point of Sudacrem is that it's an antiseptic.
It's a white cream, looks like any other. Unlike a moisturiser or other antiseptic creams, I find it's intensely sticky and hard to remove from your hands or fingers. I guess it's intense steadfastness may form a barrier in the area its used in.
I've used this myself on rashes, insect bites, and so on in a pinch. I find it doesn't sting like some antiseptics do. It has a lingering medical scent and doesn't seem to absorb, as I said, forming a kind of barrier.
It's pretty much a mainstay when it comes to medical products, especially for children. But it's alright for adult use as well, and lasts a long time.