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The Truth About Collagen

collagen creams and pill






You’re bound to have heard all about collagen, especially when it comes to beauty. Collagen is essential for youthful looking skin and when we are young it comes to us naturally as our skin is around 80% collagen. However, once we hit 25 we start to loose this at around one percent per year meaning that by the time most women hit 50 they are left with around 55% of  natural collagen in their skin which is what causes wrinkles and the dreaded sag.


So what is collagen?

Excuse us a moment whilst we get all scientific. Whilst all the cosmetic branding you may have seen for collagen hails it as an essential weapon against ageing, it’s actually way more useful than just being a protector against wrinkles.


Collagen makes up around 30% of protein in the human body and is one of the most common proteins found in mammals (we’ll get to this later – trust us, it has EVERYTHING to do with beauty). Simply put, collagen is what holds our tissues together, it supports our skin, muscles, tendons, teeth and more.


Benefits for health AND beauty – and how to get a natural injection


We mentioned how collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals and we told you that we’d bring this back to the all important issue of beauty. Basically, when you see collagen and elastin named as an ingredient on many skin care products, it’s not by any means human. This collagen is harvested from cows or birds.


When it comes to collagen in the skin our natural reserve can be restored or at least slowed down by our lifestyle. Collagen is what helps keep our skin supple and wrinkle free. It works in partnership with elastin (which is another protein found in human tissue) to make sure that the skin stays flexible and returns to it’s regular shape when we do things like talk, eat, pull faces etc.


As with any beauty regime, if you smoke, use sun beds or over indulge in a high sugar diet then you’re going to find that you age a lot faster than your abstaining counterparts.


So our first piece of advice would be to try to do everything in your power to keep your natural levels topped up.


If you smoke, think about quitting so that your skin absorbs nutrients such as Vitamin C which is key to constructing collagen.  Smoking also interrupts the enzyme matrix metalloproteinase which regulates collagen and will leave your skin full of wrinkles.


When it comes to sunbeds or spending a large amount of time in the sun without protecting your skin, it’s obvious that this is going to age you and do so fast. The intense heat and burning UV rays will zap your collagen levels and leave your skin looking not only brown but like a bit of billatong. Trust us when we tell you that no tan in the world is worth ruining your looks (or your health) for.


And then there’s your diet, if you eat a high sugar diet then you need to put that chocolate bar down and start to embark on a sugar free lifestyle. What happens to collagen when sugar is introduced in to the mix can easily be described as bringing those collagen proteins floating around your system to an almighty halt. Sugar will stiffen the molecules up and stop them from doing their job – which is to keep your skin juicy and flexible.


Now, one of the benefits of trying to boost your collagen the natural way is that by default your health also improves – or at least your diet.


Here are some foods to add in to your diet for that natural collagen boost…


Dark leafy green vegetables: It’s obvious that increasing your vegetable intake is going to make your look and feel better. But dark leafy greens such as spinach, cabbage and kale are higher in antioxidants, packed full of Vitamin C and include a vital element to collagen production: lutein.


Anything red: I know you know this but just to make it clear, I’m not talking about red wine or red velvet cake here. Instead I’m talking about tomatoes, peppers, beetroot and berries. These foods increase the production of collagen because they are stuffed full of yet more antioxidants and lycopenes.


Lentils and Beans: Not only will beans and lentils save you money on your weekly shop but they are packed to the rafters with anti-ageing properties. The are high in protein and contain hyaluronic acid which retains water and in turn keeps your skin hydrated.


Soy: There’s some debate as to whether soy is actually good for you. However, as long as you steer away from processed soy you will see the benefits. Soy helps lower cholesterol and has inbuilt collagen forming effects.


Olives: Help promote collagen formation because of the sulphur. They also go extremely well with a vodka martini which you should be able to get away with on your sugar free diet (don’t ever tell us we don’t give you the best tips!).


Carrots: Rich with Vitamin A these bad boys will also help you see in the dark AND will build up your natural collagen levels.


Don’t forget the bones – of an animal that is…


But it’s not just fruit and vegetables that will give you a boost. Another popular way to get a fix of collagen is through cooking with bones. You may think that bones are just for the dog but you’re missing out on a brilliant beauty tip.


Eating bone marrow has become rather popular thanks to many celebrity chefs serving them up at their fancy restaurants, but whilst the marrow is extremely healthy – what about the bones? Well, these are where you’ll find the most collagen fibres and cooking them up can help heal a leaky gut and work wonders for your skin, hair, teeth and bones.


Try a miracle bone broth…


You’re going to need:

Around 5lbs of bone – I’d recommend beef but you can go with whatever you prefer.







Apple cider vinegar


The method is pretty simple and you’ll ideally need a slow cooker for this. Just add a glug of apple cider vinegar to your bones (the acids from the vinegar will release more nutrients from the bones) and fill with water. Leave for around 24 hours on a low heat setting. Once the 24 hours has passed chop up your veg and add to the liquid. Leave it simmer away for a further 8 hours.


You’ll then need to make sure the marrow has left the bone, use a pair of tongs to lift the bones out to check. If it’s still in, just use a fork to push them out.


Let the broth cool down and drain through a colander.


The broth lasts around 7 days and can be stored in glass jars (plastic is never a good idea). Excess broth can also be frozen.


Drink a bit of this broth each day to really reap the benefits.


Going under the knife


Well, not quite under the knife but you can get your collagen fix via plastic surgery. By opting to receive facial injections people who are serious about boosting their collagen can target the areas which are visibly starting to age them. The solution used most commonly is made up of polylactic acid which, when injected in to the skin will stimulate the fibroblast cells triggering the collagen production. Whilst the injections are precise and can last up to two years, they’re also a pretty costly option with the price ranging from £500 – £1,500 for a course.


Over the counter collagen…


But getting more collagen doesn’t have to just be via the natural route. There are also many cosmetic alternatives.  For a start you can go down the over the counter route. Supplements containing collagen are extremely popular at the moment. A lot of these products are designed to help trigger an increase in collagen production.


For example, take Proto-Col collagen skin supplement capsules which have gained huge recognition from beauty editors and celebrities alike. They use type 1 and 2 collagen and work to  release amino acids and proteins to help stimulate the bodies natural collagen production.


Creams are also another source of collagen. Whilst there have been some criticism of creams due to scientists claiming that the collagen molecules find it hard to break through the skin when applied topically there are creams that do work and that’s all down to the chemical matrixyl. Matronly helps skin look youthful by doubling the production of collagen. So top tip: always check the ingredients list before purchasing.




More health benefits



Taking supplements and getting injections isn’t just about how you look it can also have a huge benefit to those who suffer from medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and brittle bone disease. Collagen can help stimulate the growth of new cartilage in joints. This means that daily collagen supplements can give people relief for the agony they’re enduring every day.


Taking collagen capsules can also help circulation because they strengthen the blood vessels and improve the elasticity, allowing the blood to flow freer. And we all know what happens when your circulation is good – your skin looks healthier and more radiant.


So when it comes to health and beauty collagen is an important aspect. By combining healthy living and carefully selected collagen products you can hold back the effects of ageing as well as boosting your overall health.


Rachael Phillips – Editor




Falafel Fast Food Recipe

beetroot falafel








Falafel Fast Food Recipe

Falafel is often considered fast food or street food in the Middle East this dish is actually very versatile. The classic fried version is what’s typically found but there’s no reason it can’t be baked and it consists mostly of healthy chickpeas.

The base of the recipe also lends itself well to adaptations of different beans, spices or vegetables. Beets add a sweet flavour and plenty of nutrition and during baking it helps to keep the food moist.

If you cannot eat garlic (like us!) then simply skip the ingredient, it will not impair the end result…

beetroot chickpeas ingredients

  • 1 Red beet, peeled and quartered
  • 1 Cup chickpeas (canned is fine, rinsed and drained)
  • 1 Clove garlic, peeled (we skip this)
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini sauce (bought or home made)
  • 1/4 Cup all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 Teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.

Add the beet, chickpeas, (garlic), tahini sauce, flour, parsley and cumin to a food processor or blender and pulse until the mixture comes together but it doesn’t need to be a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper.

Form 1 oz. balls (use spoon for ease) and place on a baking sheet or in a disposable tray, leave to cook for 30 minutes and serve over steamed veggies, drizzled with tahini sauce.

You can also serve this in a pitta with salad or over pasta instead of meatballs.

Falafel Pitta Sandwich


Be A More Adventurous Veggie

Assortment of fruits and vegetables inside box







Be A More Adventurous Veggie

Artichokes on sale at an outdoor market in France. The artichoke was first cultivated in Italy. The artichoke is the basis of the Italian alcoholic drink Cynar.


OK so you have decided to become wholesome and healthy and join the veggie world! However, one thing that will soon strike you is that it can become somewhat mundane.  Once you have relished the delights of purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages what is next?

purple cauliflower

Kale sprouts

You may be unfamiliar with this veggie, but you most certainly know its parents: kale and Brussels sprouts. This veggie newcomer, which can be grilled, sautéed, roasted or enjoyed raw, contains all the nutrients found in both of its superfood parents, including bone-strengthening vitamin K and immune-boosting vitamin C. And don’t be worried: Kale sprouts are a non-GMO food that’s a result of natural, non-GMO cross-hybridization.

swiss chard

Swiss chard

This isn’t a new veggie, but it is gaining new popularity in the produce aisle. The leafy green is a great source of magnesium and potassium, which helps manage blood pressure and protect bones. It’s also a beauty booster because it’s loaded with antioxidants and vitamins A and C. Try it sautéed with garlic and olive oil, or simply add it raw to your salad or sandwich for extra crunch.



New and clever ways to use the classic pick are the key. It is an ideal stand-in for carb-rich comfort food, like mashed potatoes and pizza. Try cauliflower mashed potatoes or spinach. The cruciferous chameleon light in carbs, and filling fibre. The purple variety is loaded with the antioxidant anthocyanin (which gives red cabbage and red wine their purple hue), and some vitamin C.

tiger nut

Tiger nuts

They are small tubers that have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. They have been used for centuries in Africa as a fix for diarrhoea, gas and indigestion and are a good source of fibre. These versatile goodies can be enjoyed raw, roasted, dried, baked or as tiger nut milk or oil. The flour of roasted tiger nuts is great on cereals and salads etc.

Consult your fave maven chef for recipes, inspiration and more!


















Veggie Lasagna Rolls Recipe

Vegetarian rollatinis







Veggie Lasagna Rolls Recipe

Lasagna rolls or lasagna roll-ups are a growing food trend which is gaining popularity along with traditional layered lasagna. These vegetarian lasagna rolls are made with fresh basil pesto, sweet potatoes and chopped tomatoes.

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 4 cups fresh basil
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic (optional)
  • Salt
  • 15 ounces skinny ricotta
  • 6 ounces grated mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (with herbs)
  • water and salt for boiling
  • 12 lasagna sheets

Prep Time: 20 minutes  Cook Time: 45 minutes Serves 6

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prick sweet potatoes with a fork. Wrap each in a damp paper towel and microwave together on high, until fork-tender, 6 to 8 minutes total. Remove skin once cooled.

Blend until smooth basil, spinach, pine nuts, olive oil and garlic to make the pesto.

Add the ricotta, half of the mozzarella, the parmesan and peeled sweet potatoes to the pesto in the food processor and process until smooth.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Spread 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add the lasagna noodles. Cook until al dente. Carefully remove the noodles from the water and place them side by side on a baking sheet or work surface.

Divide the sweet potato filling onto the noodles and spread to cover them. Beginning at one end, loosely roll each noodle. Place the rolls, seam side down, into the baking pan with the tomato sauce, fitting them as snugly against each other as possible. Top with the remaining tomato sauce.

Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, add remaining mozzarella cheese and then return to oven, uncovered, until cheese starts to brown, about 15 more minutes. Allow to cool for at least five minutes before serving.
















About Food

Sweet Taters


Eat To Live

Easy chicken soup with meatballs, green onions and parsley








Eat To Live

A hearty bowl of soup is perfect at any time of the year, warm or cold. There are multiple benefits – not only does soup help cut calories, it’s also a quick and easy meal. Besides, it’s super cheap one of the 10 foods you can be buying in bulk. Not sure what to put in your bowl? Here is one to get you started.

Many minestrone soup recipes call for beans, usually kidney beans, which adds a small amount of naturally occurring fat. This fat-free vegan recipe, however, fills up with plenty of vegetables – including tomato, carrots, celery, green beans and zucchini – so you won’t miss the beans (though you can certainly add them in if you want). Omit the macaroni if you want this minestrone soup to be gluten-free as well (of course, then it’ll be more of a regular vegetable soup rather than a true Italian minestrone).

This recipe for vegetarian and vegan minestrone soup is filled with healthy and low-fat vegetables, including tomato, carrots, celery, green beans and zucchini. It’s basically your entire garden in a soup! Everything is slowly simmered for maximum flavour along with some fresh basil.

With less than 100 calories per serving and just over 1 gram of naturally occurring fat, this vegetarian minestrone is a great low-calorie and nearly fat-free soup.

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups macaroni pasta



about health

iStock images

Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad







Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 teaspoon rock salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • dash garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup frozen peas, cooked just until tender
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup sliced blanched almonds
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Prep Time: 17 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Heat the oven to 375° F.

Separate the cauliflower into small florets. Line a large rimmed baking pan with foil and toss the cauliflower with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil. Spread out on the prepared baking pan and roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

Put a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring, until they are lightly browned and aromatic. Remove from the heat.

Combine the roasted cauliflower with the cooked quinoa and peas, the toasted almonds, sliced green onions, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more lemon juice if desired.

Serve warm or chilled on salad greens, pea shoots, or spinach leaves.




About Food.


Easy Butternut Squash Soup … Low Cal

butternut squash








Easy Butternut Squash Soup … Low Cal

Here is the easiest mess free instant and nutirionally packed soup for your go-to snack or meal.


Diced butternut squash 100g

Diced sweet potato 100g

2 x strips of red pepper

Half a stick of celery

2 or 3 small cherry/plum tomatoes

Pinch of rock salt and pepper

Grated fresh chilli pepper (to garnish)

Place the ingredients into a saucepan minus the chilli, cover with water and bring slowly to the boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes.

Hand blend (this is optional) to pureed consistency and serve with the chilli garnish.

Serves 2.

Healthy Breakfast for Under 300 Calories

300 cal break







Healthy Breakfast for Under 300 Calories

So we want eat healthily, but we find our mornings rushed and difficult? If you wake up groggy and stressed, a hearty warm breakfast is sure to make you feel better.  But a plate loaded with calories can derail your diet, most healthy breakfasts take too long to prepare, and a low cal breakfast is often too skimpy to satisfy. That’s why this 300 calorie breakfast is the best way to combat your morning blues.

  • Scrambled Tex-Mex Eggs

Saute 2 tablespoons of chopped onion and 2 tablespoons of chopped tomato in a non-stick pan.  Then add 1/2 cup of egg whites and sprinkle cumin, salt and pepper on top.  Scramble the eggs by stirring with a rubber spatula. Then plate the eggs and top them with a heaping spoonful of fresh salsa. Tip: buy egg white liquid to save time.

  • Nutty Steel Cut Oats

Dieters may want to skip the flavoured or pre-packaged oatmeal varieties. These generally contain added sugars and more calories. Serve with the eggs on the side for a crunchy satisfying balance to the spicier eggs. Tip: make a batch of your own and freeze.

  • Sweet Green Smoothie

To prepare the smoothie, combine these ingredients in a blender:

  • 1/2 apple (chopped)
  • 1/2 banana,
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup of water

*Fo an extra protein boost, add one tablespoon of vanilla protein powder.

Blend your smoothie while you’re scrambling the eggs and warming the oats.

Tip: Freeze bananas in advance so they are easy to grab and always available.  Just take 6-8 ripe bananas, peel them and cut them in half.  Lay them on a tray and stick them in the freezer for about an hour.  When they are frozen throw them together in a baggie and put them back in the freezer.  They won’t stick together, and since they are already frozen they help keep your smoothies cold when you prepare them.

So what makes this meal so special?  This healthy breakfast will satisfy your sweet tooth, curb your cravings for carbs and tame your hunger for salty, savoury protein. And if you follow the time-saving preparation tips, the entire meal takes ten minutes or less to prepare. Tip: If you don’t have time to make all three parts of the meal, just make one item on the list. Each part of the meal makes a satisfying breakfast on it’s own. 

You Need A Spiralizer


I’m just going to get straight to it and tell you that you NEED a Spiralizer!

What is one and why?

Well, a Spiralizer is most definitely gadget of the year and we’re only 20 days in. A Spiralizer will help you ditch the pasta and swap it for a healthier version.  You can make spirals, linguine, noodles, capellini and spaghetti – all with vegetables. So no more having big, carb tests with your Bolognese sauce, instead you can fill up on butternut squash, beetroot, courgette , carrots, cucumber and celeriac and make those dishes which we associate most with heavy, carb loaded pasta.

Our favourite healthy duo Hemsley + Hemsley have just launched their own Spiralizer and it’s is a must-have kitchen utensil for turning your favourite vegetables into spirals in minutes.


You can purchase the Hemsley + Hemsley Spiralizer from Juiceland for £29.95


Mirrorball copy

OK so apologies if you’re currently undertaking Dry January but we suggest that you ring in the New Year at Simmons Fitzrovia on a happy, healthy note with these refreshing, light and yummy low-calorie cocktails. These cocktails are better for the waistline while still helping you to face 2015 with vim and vigor.

Try this simple, refreshing cocktail Mirrorball which is a mixture of gin, lemon juice, organic agave syrup and soda water. It’s a refreshing option that feels healthy and light. The zingy concoction provides you with your daily burst of vitamin C.






25ml Gordon’s Gin
25ml Sloe Gin
1⁄2 Lemon Squeezed
12.5ml Organic Agave syrup Soda Water to top

Method: Put the ingredients in a cocktail shaker half-full of ice
and shake well. Strain into a tall glass with ice. Garnish with a few small lemon wedges.

This guilt free Mojito is the perfect drink to keep you in a healthy and fit mode. Full of fresh and revitalising ingredients, it’s big on flavor but low on everything else.

Mojito Glass


6 fresh mint leaves
20ml freshly squeezed lime juice 1 tsp organic Agave Syrup
35ml Golden Rum
Splash soda water, to top up
1 sprig mint, to serve

Method:Place the limes, mint and sugar into a sturdy highball glass and mash, to bruise the mint and release the lime juice. Add the ice and pour over the rum. Add soda water to taste and stir well.

Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.

Celebrate without adding to your weight with this delicious Cosmopolitan. It’s the perfect low-calorie cocktail you can indulge in guilt-free.

Cosmopolitan Teacup


35ml Vodka
2 – 3 drops of Cointreau Twist of Lime
30ml Diet Cranberry Juice

Method: Put the ingredients in a cocktail shaker half-full of ice. Shake well. Strain into a Martini glass or teacup.

Garnish with a small lime wedge or curl of lime peel.