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Lasagne five ways… and none of them include mince

A perfect summer’s day lunch or the ultimate comfort food for a cold winter’s evening; it is one of our favourite classic dishes.

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This wide, flat-shaped pasta is one of the oldest types and originated in Italy during the Middle Ages, with the first recorded lasagne recipe recorded in the 14th Century. The word ‘lasagne’ has an ancient origin, and comes from the Greek word laganon, meaning strips of flat pasta dough sheets.

So how has lasagne remained such a popular dish for so long? The pasta sheet, gooey cheese, distinctive sauce and meat is a delicious combination that is easy to make and can be extremely versatile.

To create truly tasty Italian dishes ensure you use the best ingredients and cookware.

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A dish that is constantly reinvented and reimagined with new ingredient combinations, why not reject meat in favour of colourful combinations of vegetables or salmon as a seafood alternative? There are plenty of online food recipes such as those found at

Here are five delectable variations on lasagne… and none include mince!

1 Lasagne with sage bechamel and pumpkin

Sacrificing meat does not mean sacrificing flavour, and this combination is proof! A delightful seasonal recipe of pumpkin and Swiss chard with a sage cream sauce and a blend of parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. This dish makes a dazzling entrée at a dinner party.

2 Salmon and parmesan roll-up lasagne

Although a controversial combination, the pairing of cheese and fish can be incredibly tasty.

3 Parmesan chicken lasagne

Chicken is the perfect alternative to minced meat for a lasagne dish. A lighter option full of protein, a parmesan chicken lasagne oven baked with garlic is a stunning dinner dish. Make a garlic butter creamy sauce instead of béchamel and include peas for a truly tasty lasagne.

4 Lasagne soup

When you crave the comfort of lasagne on a winter evening, try making a warming soup with tomato, sausage, lasagne noodles and cheese. Perfect for any cold day, this dish requires one pot, perfect for a simple mid-week dinner.

5 Roasted vegetable lasagne

Take the opportunity to add extra vegetables into mealtimes and create a healthier lasagne dish with roasted vegetables such as aubergines, courgettes and peas. Add peppers and tomatoes for a tasty and colourful lasagne dish.

5 natural mood enhancing herbs!

There are several effective natural mood enhancing herbs. It is usually necessary to take the mood enhancing herbs daily for several weeks. There is already a continuation to this list, in which we introduce you 5 more natural mood enhancing herbs!

The herbs improve when they work, the general mood. Many plants give you additional energy and alertness, which can be used for the successful mastering of your everyday life. It is, however, always advisable to consult a doctor or psychologist if you have persistent stress or a suspicion of it!

1) Cocoa / Cacao ( Theobroma cacao )

The cocoa called fruits of the cocoa tree are the raw materials for the very popular cocoa drinks and also for the chocolate. In the cocoa there are various active ingredients, but above all theobromine (1-2.5%) and caffeine (0.2%) similar to the cola nut. But that is not all! In the cocoa are anandamides, which are similar to indogeneous (i.e. in the human body) cannabinoids similar substances!

Cannabinoids are known for mood-enhancing, antidepressant effects. Furthermore, in the cocoa is a lot of tryptophan, an important precursor for serotonin production. Serotonin plays an extremely important role in the body for various processes, including for the feeling of happiness.

2) Curcuma / Curcuma (Curcuma longa)

Turmeric is a plant related to ginger, which is also used as a spice plant and colorant. It contains, among other things, the curcumin responsible for the color of the curative root, which, like the other dyes, has very many different healing effects.

Among other things, turmeric acts anticarcinogen (anticancer), antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It also appears to have an effect on the bones. And the antidepressant effects are even scientifically proven! It is a tonic, that is, turmeric must be taken one to three times a day. The effects are felt after a few weeks.

3) Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa)

Kratom is very different in its mode of action; Kratom experience is sedative, euphoric and / or stimulant. The addictive potential is not as high as with pharmaceutical opioids, but daily consumption over months has a physical dependency including withdrawal!

Kratom is a very effective remedy for mood enhancing. It is highly antidepressant and you can forget your worries about the duration of the effect. In order not to become dependent on Kratom should be consumed a maximum of once a week!

4) Melissa / Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

The melissa is a soothing, fear-relieving plant. It is therefore very good in anxiety states and sleeping problems! Very effective is a combination of balm and other similarly acting herbs. A combination of balm, valerian and hops is often used as a sedative and sleeping agent.If you want to achieve an anxious, antidepressant effect, combine melissa and lavender!

You can eat the lemon balm in a tea, which is very good, as it is very tasty. Alternatively, there are also a lot of ready-made preparations that contain melissa extract (and often also other plants) and are usually sold in the form of capsules. From around the balm to feel a proper action must also occupy a longer period of about two to three weeks daily.

5) Genuine Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)

As mentioned above, the lavender is often contained in combination preparations with melissa, hops or valerian. This medicinal plant also has a soothing, anxiety-relieving effect and is very positive for depression!

Even the smell of lavender can produce a light-lightening, anxiety-dissolving effect, but especially the drinking of a lavender tea or the ingestion of lavender oil / lavender extract has scientifically proved some very pleasant ices. Also the lavender must be taken daily over a longer period.

The best wines to pair with seafood

Forget the old-school etiquette that dictated red wine for meat and white wine for fish was the first and only rule when choosing a wine to enjoy with a meal. Although it is true that many whites, which are by their nature lighter than other wines, complement seafood very well, there are plenty of other wines that can be an equally good match for particular dishes.

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The main secret to matching wine and seafood

With a world full of red, white, pink and sparkling wine, why narrow your options when serving seafood? Matching a wine and a seafood dish depends on two things: how the dish is cooked and what it is cooked with. Basically, try to match whites with delicate dishes and reds with more robust plates.

Spice is nice

Any kind of spicy seafood rice dish, such as paella, pairs perfectly with a dry Spanish red rioja or a non-fruity rose wine; on the other hand, prawn curries go better with a riesling.

Pasta-based dishes

Seafood with a creamy or tomato-based sauce is best with a crisper dry white, such as frascati, or even a dry rosé. If you choose a very heavy cream-based or butter-based sauce, a chardonnay would be the wisest match.

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Plain-ish prawns

Virgin prawns served in the shell or in simple salads benefit most from simplicity and are best enjoyed with a glass of prosecco or any Italian white, such as a sancerre or pinot grigio. Adding spicy or tangy dressings calls for something bolder, such as a sauvignon. Moving further away from simplicity and into the realms of prawn cocktails opens the door to fruity rosés and dry rieslings, which are both great matches.

Sourcing the right wines

The most convenient way to order wine is via online wine merchants in Northern Ireland or elsewhere. Companies such as provide a reliable and convenient service, making it easy to choose the best wine for your dish.

The ‘rules’ about wine and food are now much more relaxed – it really is about getting the most out of a dish and enjoying the wine you choose to enjoy with it. From oysters and champagne to seafood stew with a hearty red, raise a glass, tuck in, and delight in the resulting food-wine combinations.

Spring time skin care changes to make in the new season

Now that the cold weather is finally leaving us, it’s time to think about protecting your skin from the heat and humidity. Here are some tips that will help prepare your skin for the warmer weather.

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With the colder months, skin is subject to snow, rain and environmental toxins that can cause dead skin cells to build up. This is precisely why exfoliating is so important. You are scrubbing away the dead skin to make your skin fresh and hydrated. Aim to exfoliate around three times a week and follow it up by using a moisturising mask for maximum effects.

Sun cream

The warmer weather means more sun exposure and more chances of sun damage to your skin. Sun cream should always be applied generously and reapplied throughout the day to help protect your skin. Burnt red skin is not pretty, so be sensible and use sun cream to ensure you don’t suffer from any of the more serious long-term effects.

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Lighter products

When the weather allows you to drop those extra layers, you should do the same with your skincare regime. Look for light lotions instead of heavy creams, which will feel too heavy in the humidity. Products such as Vichy Normaderm Anti-Blemish Hydrating Care, which can be found at, are ideal for protecting your skin and correcting imperfections.

Eye creams

When the sun comes out, more people are susceptible to squinting, which means that lines and wrinkles may form around the eyes more so than in any other season. Look for a good eye cream; those with a high level of antioxidants and peptides are particularly good as they protect and repair the skin to help combat those wrinkles.

Refresh your collection

You may already have several separate products that you will need to use in the warmer months, but buying products that combine the effects makes for a much simpler and quicker routine. Look for products that will give you even coverage and protect your skin at the same time, such as a good BB cream. These help to rejuvenate your skin and often containing a tint to give your skin a healthy glow. It’s worth doing your research and buying a cream that does it all. It may cost more, but it will be well worth the investment.

Why is iron so important for pregnant women?

Everyone needs iron to keep healthy, but it is even more important for pregnant women because there are extra demands placed on the body during pregnancy. More iron is needed particularly after the first trimester to ensure that your baby develops healthily and goes to full term.

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Why extra iron is needed in pregnancy

Iron is needed to make haemoglobin in the blood to carry oxygen around the body. In pregnancy, the amount of blood in your system is increased so you have nearly half as much again. This means that more iron is needed to make more haemoglobin. The baby also needs iron for its development, and the growth of a healthy placenta. Many women who become pregnant do not have sufficient stores of iron to begin with, so they need extra iron in the form of supplements.

The World Health Organisation recommends that pregnant women should have daily iron and folic acid supplementation to prevent them from becoming anaemic, having puerperal infections, producing a low birth weight baby or a preterm birth. This can be taken in tablet form or as a liquid iron supplement.

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Pregnant women need 27 milligrams of iron a day, compared to the 18 milligrams needed by women who are not pregnant. This does not have to be a specific amount each day; it can be averaged over a few days or a week.

Sources of iron

A varied and balanced diet should contain enough iron for most people, but supplements can be needed during pregnancy. Some of the best sources of iron are red meat, seafood and poultry. Although liver contains a lot of iron it is best avoided during pregnancy because it also contains high levels of Vitamin A. Iron can also be found in vegetables, legumes and grains. Some animal protein added to a meal helps with the absorption of iron from other foods and Vitamin C, in the form of orange juice or broccoli, can also help with the absorption of iron from foods such as beans. Iron supplements are available from companies such as

Iron supplements are most easily absorbed when the stomach is empty so they should not be taken with meals. They should not be taken with tea, coffee or milk either because this can also inhibit absorption.

Does sweat resistant sportswear really work?

When playing sports or exercising, you’re bound to work up a sweat. You’re getting hot and so your body is sweating to help maintain your body temperature. However, there’s no need to feel too uncomfortable. The important thing is to choose the right clothes and materials which can help to absorb the moisture so you are not left looking like a soggy wreck.

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Materials to keep you cool

Natural fabrics such as cotton and linen breathe better and help you to feel cooler because the fabric is absorbing the moisture. However, these materials are not perfect because they retain the excess moisture which hasn’t evaporated, so everyone knows you’re sweating – and often you’ll see sweat patches under the arms, back or chest.

Fabrics to avoid include viscose, which feels light and breezy but tends to be water-repellent, silk as it can get unpleasantly moist and retains body odour, polyester that allows sweat to build up inside the shirt and nylon except in swimwear. Whilst traditionally it has been best to avoid man-made and synthetic fibres because they cling to your skin when you sweat, now manufacturers are designing sweat-resistant clothes from these materials.

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Soaking up the sweat

Sportswear containing these sweat-fighting fibres, known as performance apparel, is big business. Instead of feeling damp as your shirt or shorts soak up the excess sweat, performance apparel wicks away the sweat. If you think of the way a candle wick absorbs liquid and draws it upwards, these shirts pull perspiration away from the skin to leave you feeling dry. The material is a clever mix of polyester blends and chemical treatments which push sweat through the surface of the clothing where it evaporates.

This performance apparel is suitable for all sports and is particularly useful for athletes who compete in the summer months. If you’re in a stadium on a hot day, you can feel how the heat is building up, so imagine what it feels like if you’re actually competing. If you’re looking for football kits, for instance, you can check out designs at

Performance apparel can help to regulate your body temperature, keep you comfortable and boost performance. It is a multi-billion-pound industry as athletes benefit from keeping cool and dry. Materials that wick away sweat will make you feel drier than those which absorb perspiration.

How Effective Are Condoms at Preventing Pregnancy and STIs?

No method of contraception is 100% reliable, but condoms are very effective if used correctly and have the added advantage of protecting you and your partner from STIs too.

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Follow the Instructions

If you use a condom correctly every time you have sex, you are very unlikely to get pregnant or contract an STI such as gonorrhea or herpes. The NHS says that condoms are 98% effective when they are used properly, which means that just two per cent of women whose partners use a condom will get pregnant in a year.

However, there is room for error, and statistics show that condoms are really only about 82% effective because they are not always used in the right way. The best way to keep yourself safe and not get pregnant is to use condoms correctly every time you have sex. This means using it from start to finish and making sure it is rolled on the penis in the right way before there is any genital contact.

Using condoms and another form of birth control such as the pill or and IUD is a good way of getting extra protection against pregnancy and STIs. Condoms should not be worn on the penis at the same time as a female condom, as they are designed to be used on their own.

Worried About STIs?

If you have had unprotected sex or sex with a condom which has failed, either due to human error or because it has split, you may want to get tested for STIs as well as pregnancy. While it is easy to buy a pregnancy kit at a pharmacy, you may feel anxious or embarrassed about visiting a sexual health clinic. Thankfully, you can now send off for a home testing kit. If you are looking for London STI testing kits, you can get them free online from and other sexual health sites like

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Other Useful Tips

Condoms are not just for vaginal sex: they can also help to protect against STIs during anal and oral sex as well. You can get free condoms from some GP surgeries, sexual health clinics and contraception clinics. They need to be stored at room temperature and away from sharp objects or surfaces that could tear them, and you must always check the use-by date.

A Perfect Mother’s Day Menu In Italian

Of course, everyone loves their mother, and we’ll all be looking to spoil her on Mother’s Day with a thank you of some kind. For Italians especially, ‘Mamma’ has a special place in the heart of the family, and she is the glue that holds everything together. Take a leaf from the book of our European neighbours, and give your Mum a meal to remember, and one she doesn’t have to prepare herself! Don’t forget that it’s not her turn to do the dishes either.

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Starter – Zuppa del Giorno

According to the chefs at Toscana, an Italian restaurant in Dublin, homemade soup of the day can be as complicated or as simple as you choose. You’ll be making it in your own home, so you decide what ingredients to use. As a starter, keep portions small. A classic vegetable soup would do well with this menu, using fresh seasonal vegetables, such as watercress or Savoy cabbage. Serve it with rustic homemade bread for added authenticity.

Main – Salmone

Not everything in Italian cooking is pizza or pasta! For a sophisticated alternative, try this classic dish of fillet of salmon and prawns, in a creamy sauce of lemon and white wine to complement the delicate flavours of the fish. To serve, boil some new potatoes and peas. Simple but elegant, and something even a beginner can create. If you’d like to choose wine to go with the meal, a full-bodied white pairs well, so look at a Chardonnay or Viognier, or perhaps even a white Rioja.

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Dessert – Tiramisu

Contrast the subtle flavours of your main course with the ultimate Italian dessert, the “caffeine hit” – Tiramisu. The sponge is soaked in coffee and mixed with chocolate and mascarpone cheese. Serve it with proper Italian coffee, and you have the perfect end to a delicious meal. You might even try a Limoncello, too.

For more ideas on cooking up the perfect Italian Mother’s Day menu at home, try the BBC website for ideas and inspiration.

If you’d prefer to dine out in an Italian restaurant in the heart of Dublin Toscana is centrally located on the edge of Temple Bar.

Whatever you’re planning for Mother’s Day, don’t forget that the most important thing is spending time with your Mum. Buon appetito!

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