Strawberry & Basil G&T Ice Lollies

I’ve probably got a 4 hour window to post this before the weather turns to shit but who needs the sun as an excuse to have G&T ice lollies?!

Although a simple cucumber gin and tonic is pretty refreshing on a hot day, cocktail season is here and something sweet, tart, earthy and alcoholic (being the main thing) creates the perfect twist on your usual strawberry ice pop.

Making the ice lollies is pretty simple as long as you don’t go to town on the alcohol bit (which I’ve had to restrain myself from doing) because we all know alcohol doesn’t freeze.  If you do pop a bottle of gin in the freezer and it goes slushy it’s because the water in it has frozen but the alcohol hasn’t…

So what do you need? Aside from ice lolly moulds…

Strawberry and Basil G&T Ice Lollies (per lolly)
25ml gin (single shot)
1-2 basil leaves
2-3 strawberries  (1 for garnish)
Top with tonic

How to make it? (Multiply the below by how many moulds you have)

Add 25ml of gin to a cocktail shaker
Pop in 4 strawberry halves and 1-2 basil leaves depending on their size
Use a muddler to bash the ingredients together and release the flavours
Shake the cocktail shaker and strain into the ice lolly mould
Add a slice of strawberry and a tiny sprig of basil
Top with tonic

And it’s as simple as that! To make your classic G&T ice lolly it’s even easier. Pop in 25ml of gin into the mould, add a slice of cucumber and top with tonic!

Beki Xo

Talking Interiors: The Woman Cave (*) Photo Credit:

Everyone has heard of a 'man cave' (n) 
a room or other area in a home that is primarily a male sanctuary, designed and furnished to accommodate the man's recreational activities, hobbies, etc but what about a 'woman cave'?

It's not a term that crops up very often but imagine having your own personal hide out. A place you can go to get away from everything, enjoy your own company and just relax without any interruptions. Or if you prefer it could be somewhere to bring the girls, have a fun evening catching up and getting pampered over a couple bottles of prosecco.

Personally I'd love it and if I had an extra room in my house to fill I'd totally do it. I mean with the ideas I have it would have to be a large room but then again who says it has to be a room? It could be a 'woman shed' at the end of the garden.

If money was no option and there was no limit on space I'd have a large white painted room with black wooden (heated) floors, floor to ceiling windows and one large bi folding door to open up the space. 

In one corner I'd have my own gin cocktail making bar with a high table, stools and a huge collection of gin, freshly grown garnishes and mixers.

In another I'd have a large indoor swinging chair, loaded with fluffy cushions and surrounded by dozens and dozens of  plants to create a indoor/outdoor feel. A sort of mini corner green house that you'd relax in, read a book or simply meditate. Propped against the wall would sit a floor standing mirror made of reclaimed wood and draped with fairy lights.

In the centre of the room would lay a huge grey thick faux fur or shagpile rug and on top of that would be a large stand alone black jacuzzi bath that would look onto a projector screen so you can watch movies in the tub! Of course if you're watching movies you'd need a small fridge to contain goodies and keep your gin or prosecco cold!

The whole space would be filled with mood lighting, fairy lights and candles because... hygge.

I've actually created a 'woman cave ideas' mood board so if you're interested in creating your own head on over for some ideas.

Beki Xo

(*) This blog post was in collaboration with Taskers Online
Lidl Hortus Limited Edition Summer Gin Review

With a collection of 20+ gins (to date) I soon learnt that it’s not always about cost. You don’t ‘get what you pay for’ when it comes to gin, it’s more about personal preference and I soon learnt this after working with smaller distilleries.

I’ve always been one to root for the smaller brands however after coming across an article about Lidl’s new version of their ‘award-winning’ Hotrus gin I was both intrigued and sceptical. I’ve always thought of budget supermarkets watering down their gin BUT I also know that bigger brands repackage their products to sell for less as supermarkets own brand… so I had to try it.

The gin itself cost around £15.99 and has been compared to the likes of SipSmith’s London Dry Gin. The packaging is far from looking like a cheap alternative and comparing it to some of the gins I own it does look more of a luxury spirit.

It contains botanicals such as; Juniper, English coriander, Cubebs, Hibiscus, Rosehip, Bergamot and orange which all create their Hortus Limited Edition Summer Gin. Sipped straight it has a smooth floral note with and citrus kick. I like my gins to have a strong herbal, floral or fresh taste and this surprisingly (for a supermarket brand) packs a punch and fits the bill. 

Served with a slice of cucumber, a few cubes of ice and topped with Fevertree Tonic it’s the perfect G&T that does rival some well-known brands. Equally the botanicals will pull through more ingredients so it's the perfect fit for a Tom Collins, Negroni, Martini or a Singapore Sling... well done Lidl!

Beki Xo
Going Vegan: 3 Month Update & My Top 5 Documentaries

It's been 3 months since my last blog post "I Went Vegan For One Week and This Is What I Learned" and yes, I'm still eating plant based... 99% of the time.

99% Vegan?

I say 99% because eating items that are meat free is easy but dairy/ egg free is a whole different story. Sometimes it's hidden in packaged products you thought were vegan, sometimes you're given a plate in a restaurant you didn't know contained dairy or egg. Then there's pushing it upon other people as I don't expect anyone to cater separately for me. I can't physically eat meat after being educated but if someone hands me a Quorn dish (for example - which isn't always vegan) or the bread around my plant based filling contains milk, it's okay. It's okay because it's a small quantity and I know that the rest of the time I don't consume meat or dairy and there for I'm making an impact. Not only to the environment, not only to my personal heath but to the BIGGEST impact... the lives of animals. 

Hypocritical Animal Lover?
I previously favored the life of a cow or a pig over a dog or a cat. Why? Pigs are equally (if not more) intelligent than dogs, they know what's going on when they're going to slaughter, they can hear it, see it, smell it, feel it. Do we choose to eat pigs over dogs because they're cuter? Pigs can be domesticated pets too? As a BIG lover of animals I turned a blind eye to farmed animals as society says 'this is how it's meant to be' and I'm disappointed in myself for doing so. But since going vegan it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I no longer feel like a hypocritical or guilty.

Veganism Isn't A Religion
Funny thing is, I still cringe when I have to use the term 'vegan' and I'm continuously trying to find different terms to use. Meat and dairy free? Plant based? Herbivore? Cruelty free?

It's because when I mention the term 'vegan' people immediately treat it likes it's either a strict religion or a 'diet'. And quite frankly it's neither. Veganism simply acts on the idea that we should not exploit and harm animals. I didn't convert to anything, it's common sense for someone who loves animals not to want to intentionally take part in unnecessary animal cruelty and that includes eating it.

Society Is Fooling Us 
As a previous meat eater I never associated the plastic wrapped decaying flesh in my fridge with previously being a living, breathing animal. I would block out the cruelty (I imagined) went on in slaughter houses and I was forced (like we all are) by society into thinking 'free-range' meant animals could roam in open fields (this is far from the truth) so I guess it cleared my conscience into believing it was kinder and therefor eating meat was still okay.

However, after reading more into the meat and dairy industry, educating myself on how much society puts a blanket of bullsh*t over things to cover the truth and watching a handful of documentaries on why it's better for the environment, our health and the lives of animals, It all makes sense.

I'll hold my hands up now because I'm not one to preach that everyone needs to adopt the vegan lifestyle however I do like to educate the people who ask questions like "Where do you get your protein?", "What do you even eat?", "Aren't we supposed to eat meat otherwise the word will be over run?". Funny enough I was one of those people 3 months ago. I just wish people would accept that I have my views and you have yours.

Cows Eat Plants To Get Protein
I've noticed that a lot of people (those who he meat in particular) turn into professional nutritionists and get deep into conversation about protein, I mean where the f**k did the craze about getting protein even come from?! Yes animal tissue contains protein but do animals make it from thin air? Nope, they take it from the amino acids (the building block of protein) from plants. Plants are the only living thing that can create their own essential protein from scratch. Think about it, the biggest and strongest mammals on this earth are herbivores; elephants and gorillas. 

Don't get me wrong I was happily filling my gut with animal produce, unaware of the true reality because the nutritional society has made it seem 'normal' and thought of to be a ' healthy necessity' to consume meat for protein and dairy for calcium (calcium? Hah). And before you even blink I know what you're thinking; "We've eaten meat and dairy for years and years, veganism is a new diet...". Veganism has been around for years and years too it's just taken people to shout loud enough about it and for there to be evidential studies that prove why we shouldn't be consuming animal produce.

Top 5 Documentaries To Watch
But I'm not going to tell you what to believe in and what to eat. Instead I've rounded up my Top 5 videos, NOT to push you to become vegan but to educate yourself on what you're actually eating because we need to start giving a f*ck about what we eat:

Beki Xo
Rose Gin Fizz Cocktail ft House of Elrick Gin

House of Elrick gin is a spirit that originates from Aberdeenshire in the Scottish Highlands.
Being the only spirit made with the freshest water from the Lock Ness it contains 8 handpicked botanicals to create a fresh and floral yet earthy profile.

Botanicals such as; juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, citrus peel, built around a core of heather, pink peppercorns, sweet fennel and rose petals.

The creators of House of Elrick gin believe quality over quantity and there for the gin is distilled by hand in batches of 600 bottles per run which means they can maintain the control of every bottle that leaves their distillery.

When creating a cocktail for this gin I wanted something that would complement the aromatic and fresh profile and embrace those bold infusions of flavours.
After tasting the gin neat and testing numerous garnishes to see which would work best to create a summer cocktail I instantly fell for a floral and fresh taste creating… the Rose Gin Fizz cocktail.

Rose Gin Fizz Cocktail Recipe

50ml House of Elrick gin
25ml Rose Syrup
2 Ice cubes
1 Lemon (garnish)
Top with Prosecco or Champagne

Add 50ml of House of Elrick Gin and 25ml of rose syrup into a cocktail shaker

Pop in 2 ice cubes and shake until the cocktail shaker turns misty

Pour into a flute glass and top with prosecco or champagne

Add lemon peel to garnish and serve

Beki Xo

(*) As part of this review I was gifted the Colombo Gin however all opinions and the recipe itself are my own
Does activated charcoal really whiten teeth? 

I’ve always known activated charcoal (also known as activated carbon) is more porous than normal charcoal and is there for heavily used to aid in the removal of materials. More commonly it’s used to absorb poisons and other substances from the body that have been consumed, poisons that are organic chemicals such as the chemical created from food poisoning. However it’s more recently become very popular in the beauty industry and is being used as an ingredient that can draw out impurities (from the skin) and help remove unwanted particles and stains (from the teeth).

There are so many varieties of tooth whitening charcoal but the Laila London Activated Teeth Whitening Powder interested me the most with it's added ingredients, packaging and high reviews (I picked it up off of as well as the fact it is available in Boots!

The coconut based charcoal tooth whitening powder has added ingredients that change the PH levels in the mouth used to kill bacterial and prevent decay. It contains peppermint and lemon to soothe gums, cloves and cinnamon to not only add taste but also contain natural antibacterial properties as well as calcium carbonate to help strengthen sensitive teeth. 

But does it really work?

I’ve used the Laila London Activated Charcoal Tooth Whitening Powder for a week now and have noticed that it has made a difference. Although my teeth weren’t particularly stained beforehand and did appear quite white I had noticed they weren’t as ‘bright’ as usual and realised that’s probably due to those pesky coffee stains.

The product itself can be a little messy. It does advise to use purely the charcoal and no other toothpaste as apparently the glycerine in your average toothpaste can help prevent the natural process of strengthening and whitening your teeth (but you’d have to search that one!). I did try their recommended way of applying the powder to the toothbrush but preferred adding it to my toothpaste by dipping the toothbrush into the powder with a pea sized amount of paste attached. This made the application a little less messy.

The taste of the powder itself is like a sweet, fresh and very slightly spiced flavour which means you don’t get that usual chalky, mud like taste you get from plain old activated charcoal. The powder doesn’t foam up (if you’re using it alone) and you don’t get that satisfying feeling that your teeth have been cleaned to the core (even though they are!). This is another reason why I chose to add it to my toothpaste however it’s really just something that will take some getting used to. 

Another slight negative about the charcoal powder is that although it only suggested brushing your teeth with just water for the last part of your routine (to rid the powder fully) some particles do still stick around and I preferred to use mouth wash to rid those away.

However after using this for 1 week I was surprised to notice a difference. My teeth where whiter and brighter (especially between teeth) but you need to bear in mind that it’s a natural product and not a bleach, so it will only make your teeth as white as they can naturally be. Another positive to it being a natural whitening product is that it’s less harmful than strips, so it won’t strip the enamel or create sensitivity.

Will I continue to use this? Hell yeah. I tend to use it every other day as it’s really helping to rid those coffee stains that can build up daily in between teeth.  

Beki Xo

Strawberry & Basil Gin Punch Cocktail

Bulldog gin is a London dry gin. It is made from 12 botanicals that are distilled 4 times (3 times in neutral grain spirit and the fourth time with the added unique botanicals) to create an ultra-smooth and balanced gin with a citrus base. Those botanicals are; juniper, coriander, lemon, orris, liquorice, angelica, cassia, almond, French lavender, Chinese lotus leaves, Turkish white poppy and dragon eye (longan berries).

When creating this cocktail I wanted something that would complement the roundness of the gin but also add a summer punch feel for the up and coming warmer months.

After testing a couple garnishes to see which worked best with the flavours of the gin I loved the smooth taste of strawberry with the herbal hit of basil at it screamed summer cocktail!

Strawberry & Basil Gin Punch Cocktail Recipe:

50ml Bulldog Gin
1 Sprig of Basil (preferably fresh unlike mine!)
1 Handful of Strawberries
2 cubes of Ice
Fever Tree Tonic

Add the basil and strawberries to a cocktail shaker and muddle together to release the flavour.

Pour in 50ml of Bulldog Gin and 2 cubes of ice

Shake until the cocktail shaker becomes misty

Pop in 3-4 small chopped up strawberries into a balloon glass and pour in the gin

Top with Fevertree Tonic and garnish with a sprig of basil and 1 strawberry

The perfect summer punch cocktail that could be easily made into a larger quantity to serve at a BBQ!

Beki Xo

(Thai Red Chickpea Curry)
(Vegetable Moroccan Tagine with Giant Cous Cous)
(Sweetcorn Fritters with Sweet Potatoe Fries and Hummus)

(Avocado Red Onion Breakfast Quesadilla with Hummus) 
(Perkier Breakfast Bar with Hummus and Vege Dippers)
(Red Pepper Pasta With Olives and Vegan Cheese)
(Vegan Brownie Mix)
I Went Vegan For 1 Week And This Is What I Learned

Okay I know what some of you are thinking, 'oh here goes another one jumping on the band wagon' because honestly I used to think the same. 

I'll be the first person to hold my hands up and admit I used to think that Veganism has simply become a term to describe health trend and in some ways I still think it has but I'd never overshadow those that have their reasons and opinions for doing so.

Many people want to go vegan for the health benefits of consuming more plant based foods and that's okay but there's also more reasons for going vegan than just believing the slaughter and farming of produce from animals is inhumane and cruel. 

Now, I've always eaten meat and dairy but I'm particular about where it has come from. It has to be free range and it has to of had a long enough life (I won't eat a young animal) but something recently completed changed my opinion on an economic activity that's essentially bullshitting us... the meat and dairy industry. 

Last weekend I watched a presentation on YouTube from the Humane Educator of The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, James Wildman. The video is titled '101 Reasons to Go Vegan'. I watched it just out of interest and was completely surprised by my reaction and feelings at the end of the 1 hour 11 minute video.

I won't push for you to just watch it but just give it a chance because you'll completely rethink your own opinions and realise how gullible you've been. I personally thought I'd need to see the extreme slaughter or mistreatment of animals to rethink eating meat or dairy but in that whole 71 minute video there's only a 3 minute insight into the animal industry and there's no blood in sight. Just facts. Facts that make you question how we look at animals we consume to those we keep as pets, why we're farming them, what it's doing to our health and how the meat and dairy industry is painting a picture to make us feel like we need it.

But aside from it completely opening my eyes to a fabricated trade, it's also changed a lot more than that...

What I learned from going vegan for 1 week... 

I fell in love with cooking again
Taking meat and dairy out of my diet meant that I become more experimental in the kitchen. My previous diet was the usual commercial influenced plate of protein (meat), vegetables and carbohydrates which lead me to eat the same combination of foods and meal times had gotten incredibly boring.

I ate more
Because my consumption was mainly vegetables, lentils, legumes, grains and seeds I was able to eat high quantities of these or spread them out and snack more throughout the day without any worry.

I didn't need condiments
My fridge was previously stocked with every condiment under the sun and I'd always have more than one with my meals. But James Wildman's point has stuck with me; "I'd got to McDonalds and get a slab of meat, that meat would have herbs and spices...then it came with a bun, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard and onions and a pickle. We put those on the meat to make it taste better, what would meat be without plants? It would just be a dead animal"...

I stopped counting calories
I never counted calories by writing them down but I know the average calories in certain foods and therefor know how much I should eat. When I dropped meat and dairy and started cooking more with vegetables I never gave calories a second thought.

I felt lighter 
Meat is a heavy form of protein. You can consume a steak and instantly feel twice as heavy. By cutting that out and getting my protein from greens, quinoa, lentils, beans, nut butters, soy milk (which contains the same amount of protein as milk without the cholesterol) and bananas, you instantly feel lighter.   

I had a clear conscious 
I love animals and the way in which James Wildman describes and questions the way we look at a pig compared to the way we look at a dog made me completely rethink my view.

My food shop was cheaper 
I was surprised that my food shop came in 1/3 cheaper than normal with 1/4 more meals and food purchased. Some vegan foods like vegan cheese, vegan mayo  aren't as cheap as the animal based alternatives however if you're no longer picking up that £4 pack of chicken then than £3 jar of vegan mayo is still cheaper...

My meals became more varied 
I try to eat as healthy and possible but that usually means that I get stuck in the same old boring circle of salad, fruit, chicken and vegetables. By taking meat and dairy out of my diet I've become more creative with food and my meals have become incredible varied.

I never felt restricted 
I previously thought the vegan lifestyle was too fussy. "What do they even eat?!" I used to ask myself. I'm such an idiot. There are so many alternatives to your usual meat based meals that throughout the 7 days I've actually felt like my mind has been opened to more foods than it was when I ate meat and diary... weird right?

I had more energy 
I noticed that even though I'm still mentally tired when I get up in the morning I had more physical energy throughout the day. I also noticed that my usual afternoon brain slump happened later on in the day.

My meals where tastier 
I started to use more ingredients in my meals, put together different varieties of food that brought out the flavour and made my meals tastier. In the whole 7 days I've never once wanted to eat meat or missed eating anything dairy. I've had milk alternatives in my tea (soy, almond and oats milk) and actually preferred the oats milk in particular to cows milk.

After watching that YouTube video there's no way I can go back to tucking into a beef burger or gulping down a large cow's milk latte but on the other hand I won't box myself off under a dietary term. By not consuming large portions of meat and dairy I feel healthier, I enjoy my food more but I'm also not fuelling a cruel industry and therefor feel as though I have a clear conscious. 

I may tuck into a bag of crisps (that contains milk), nibble on some milk chocolate or have a cheese pizza, but by being aware of what I'm consuming, knowing what's happened to produce it, and considerably reducing consumption on the whole, I'm being less of a contributor and feel better about it.

Beki Xo
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