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PSA: It is nearly pancake day. Yes. February 28th sees that most glorious of all days celebrating all things sweet and pan-fried. Pancakes don’t end there, though. It seems like most countries have some kind of food involving similar ingredients, and it’s really interesting to see how relatively little variation can result in such a huge range of dishes. I needed to kill time between meals, so I looked up some of the best pancake-y recipes you could try.

Good old-fashioned pancake day pancakes

I mean, it wouldn’t be pancake day if we didn’t briefly touch on the reason that we’re all here. Like most people probably are, I am very picky about my pancake toppings. Please do not speak to me if you have anything other than lemon and sugar or golden syrup on yours. We won’t be friends.

Polish apple pancakes

Known in Poland as Placki z Jabłkami, these pancakes involve using yeast. That probably means they are even thicker and more delightful. Just be warned that you need to half-fill the pan with oil, so for the love of god no flipping these bad boys.

American-style pancakes

American pancakes are one of those foods that will always be better if someone else makes them for you, so try to pass this recipe on to somebody who owes you a favour. They would be the perfect breakfast on a Pancake Day extravaganza. Or, indeed, any other day that ends in “day”.

Crepes Suzette

If you want to feel fancy, these are probably the closest to Pancake Day pancakes but with extra steps and a very specific sauce that will announce your cooking expertise to the world without you needing to say anything. Slightly off topic, but does anybody else hear ‘Little Red Corvette’ when they think about these?

Korean scallion pancakes

Amazing Pancake Day idea: Make these as a main course and then have another kind for dessert. These are a great option for people who aren’t so into the sweet stuff. Allegedly it’s for sharing, but serving suggestions are only suggestions, right?

Custard-filled pancakes

On the subject of dreams coming true, these are pancakes of the Pancake Day persuasion, but with added alcohol. They are then filled with custard. If you need any further proof that life is wonderful I’m probably not going to be able to provide.

Roti

Yes, this is technically a bread and not a pancake. But since it basically uses all of the same ingredients minus eggs, and we like to be inclusive of people who can’t eat eggs, and we also just really like roti at HowNow Towers, I’m probably going to let it slide.

Injera

Yes, technically another bread. But it’s still made in a pan, and it’s also great so it’s staying in. This one needs a little bit of forward planning because it involves a couple of days of fermentation. However, if a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing right. And this is definitely worth doing.

Arepas

Fun story – Back in the day, I lived in the USA for a little over a year. I discovered arepas early on, and then I ate them at least once every week for the entire time. Now, I swear there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about them. Guess which one of these recipes I’m making first?

Dutch Baby

Far from being tiny like the name would imply, this is a gigantic delicious monster of a pancake. It can serve several people on a normal day, or one on a particularly hungover day. It’s also cooked on the oven rather than the hob, which is just helpful if all of your pans are engaged in a Pancake Day spectacular.

Blinis

The perfect way to add a sophisticated touch to the pancake day feast I am insisting you have, blinis can most commonly be found in Waitrose going home with people who are also buying cream cheese and smoked salmon. But there’s so much more you can do with them.

So what pancake recipes will you be trying next week? The old faithfuls, or will you be adding something else to the mix?

Valentines day is fast approaching and, yes, it’s a fake holiday invented by corporations to sell extra pink stuff. However, there’s generally still an expectation that if you’re coupled up you’re going to get involved. Luckily, there’s a load of gift ideas floating around on the internet, so we picked some of our favourites because our Valentines gift to you is to save you time shopping for presents. You’re welcome.

Bacon hearts

We could really just stop this whole post here. As everybody no doubt knows, the purest expression of any emotion is through bacon. So if’s only natural that on Valentines day that bacon wold be moulded int hearts, isn’t it?

Candy Heart Bracelet

A little bit like those crappy candy bracelets you used to have as a kid, except this one uses sweets people actually like. On top of that it will have obviously taken time and care to make. And, on top of that, there are sweets out there these days that actually look super cool. You never know, your partner may never remove their Valentines gift. Watch out for the ants, though.

Caramel Heart Brownies

You know how cake is the answer to everything? Oh, you don’t? OK, well, cake is the answer to everything. Therefore, brownies are almost inevitable. There’s a lot of food involved with Valentines day so it’s best to just lean in to it. Plus, at least this way you probably get to help in the eating process.

Sharpie Mug

We mentioned the sharpie mug idea in our Christmas gifts post, but for the time-poor and uninspired it really can’t be beaten, so it’s worth repeating. You can recreate the designs from this Valentines day-specific tutorial, or you could do your own thing. A thousand points if you use it to propose to someone. Also, you have to invite us all to be bridesmaids. We’re a 75% male team, but we’ll make it work.

Valentines Day Jenga

What better way to let someone know that you love them than by letting them win something? Or than by reminding them that you’re still better than them at the childhood games of your youth. Luckily, with this DIY version of jenga you can charm your other half as you play until they completely forget the fact that they just got pwned.

Heart-Shaped Bath Bombs

A fun gift that includes a little bit of science, and will probably make you look super-impressive. If you need to subtly hint to your loved one that they need to be a bit more vigilant with the personal hygiene, this is also an excellent way to go about it. Who said Valentines gifts couldn’t multitask?

Printables

Printables are amazing. There’s an awesome selection to be found on Landeelu in particular, but they’re all over places like Pinterest these days. Forgot to buy a card? Printable. Need to make a crappy gift look a bit more polished? Printable. Forgot to get anything at all and need to fake your way through it? Printable. Honestly, whatever’s going awry, printables can save the day.

A Year of Dates

If, for whatever reason, you need to in on ths year’s Valentines gift, you could try a years-worth of dates. The idea is, you book an activity every month for a year, and hand over a selection of tickets and entry passes for all kinds of fun stuff. Slightly less organised people could also probably get away with vague promises of days out. It has the potential to get expensive, but it’ll make you look like the thoughtful person you always wished you were.

So what will you be doing this Valentines day? Something thoughtful? Something last-minute? We really don’t have a lot going on in our personal lives, so feel free to share all.

You may not have noticed, because it’s hardly been mentioned at all, but it is now a new year. As such, everybody’s making resolutions and planning on becoming better people. We’re not that into making tough resolutions that make January a more unpleasant month than it already is. However, we definitely agree with making little changes that make life way more awesome. So, whatever positive change you’re making this month, we’ve probably got a class that can help you.

Change No. 1: Have a go at Veganuary

Veganuary is a thing now. It’s pretty self-explanatory, and involves eating vegan in January. It’s healthy, and it’s also good for the environment. If you can stand to be away from the bacon for a full weeks, you might find you can do it forever. There are HowNow teachers who can guide you through the process of cooking a whole host of delicious, vegan recipes, so you’ll never run out of inspiration.

Change No. 2: Get Fit

It’s not the most original, but after several weeks eating nothing but sausages in bacon and quality street, and washing it all down with wine (just me?) lots of people use the momentum of a new year to improve their fitness. It can be really hard to drag yourself to the gym, so imagine if you could exercise with a trainer in the comfort of your own home. As it so happens, we can totally help you to do that.

Change No. 3: More ‘me’ time

Modern life, guys, am I right? We’re forever running around, commuting for hours, getting work emails at all times of the day and night… It’s a juggling act, and it shouldn’t be. One of the easiest ways to start the new year feeling less stressed is to set aside some time every day that’s just for you. For example, you could try meditation. Close the door for a while, switch off your phone, and focus on yourself. Bliss.

Change No. 4: Learn a new language

Maybe you can’t wait to do some travelling in 2017. You might want to try living in a new country. Maybe you just want a new challenge, or to earn some bragging rights. These are all perfectly valid reasons to start learning a new language. The easiest way to start is to talk to people in the language you’re learning, and we know a whole load of awesome folks who can help with that.

Change No. 5: Be my own boss

Picture the scene: You have to go to work. You get out of bed, get dressed, and walk ten paces to your sofa. Because that is your office. Because you work for yourself. It’s the dream but, when you’re running around at the beck and call of your boss, it can feel totally unattainable. Maybe 2017 will be the year that changes. Start learning how to put your plans into action today, and thank us later. Maybe you want to turn your passion into profit and teach your own classes – we could even help you with that.

Change No. 6: Take more pictures

Maybe you’re about to start a new phase in your life and you want to remember everything. Maybe you got a flashy new camera for Christmas and you need to know how to use it. The best way to make sure you’re creating memories in 2017 is to start now. And a great place to start is by making sure you know what you’re doing.

Change No. 7: Learn to cook

Are you sick of microwave meals and cereal dinners? Do you feel like you might be getting judged by the people who run your local takeaway? It’s time to learn how to cook. Whether you’ve got delicate baking or hearty meals in mind, there are professionals out there who can talk you through the whole process in your own kitchen. Just remember to send us some when you’re done.

Change No. 8: Manage my money better

Oh, money. Some people think it makes the world go round and, whether or not you agree with that sentiment, most people would probably agree that there’s never enough of it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by bills, it might be time to get somebody else to help you. You could chat about budgets and how to manage your cash better. Just remember to send us some when you’re done. (LOL, JK. Unless you’re feeling generous.)

So, what changes, if any, are you planning on making in 2017? Whatever they are, remember to keep it positive rather than punishing. The new year is a great opportunity to do new things, but no man (or anyone else, for that matter) is an island – if you need help, let someone else step in and lend a hand. It just so happens we know a few.

It’s officially getting festive, which means only one thing. The Christmas music is back on the iPod, cinnamon and ginger are everything, and if it isn’t covered in fairy lights and tinsel we don’t want to know about it. Actually, that might be slightly more than one thing. But, look. We just really like Christmas, OK? And while we get ready to mull everything in sight, here are a few bloggers we’ve come across who have created Christmas recipes that are off the charts:

  1. Spoon Fork Bacon

    We all remember that episode of Friends with the turkey sandwich, right? If not, here’s a memory jogger. It only seemed natural that somebody somewhere should have created the turkey sandwich with a moist maker in real life. And, lo and behold, here it is, just in time to make all of our Boxing Day dreams come true. Find the full recipe here.

  2. The Baker Mama

    Sausages wrapped in bacon are a staple of any self-respecting Christmas dinner. They’re never exactly bad, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to take them up a notch. That’s exactly what’s happened in this version with a maple pumpkin spice glaze. Yes. You read that right. Pumpkin spice not just for lattes. Find the full recipe here.

  3. Drizzle & Dip

    Mince pies are an absolute bloody classic. There’s no two ways about it. But does that mean they should be untouchable? Absolutely not. Just because something’s traditional it doesn’t mean it should be immune to being updated. Drizzle and Dip’s apple and mince pie crumble bars are a new twist on an old classic. Find the full recipe here.

  4. The View From Great Island

    Mulled wine is the best Christmas drink out there, but it’s a pain in the arse to make from scratch. It involves a lot of time spent slaving over the hob while everybody around you has fun. However, with this recipe you can just through everything in a slow cooker and have done with it. GeniusFind the full recipe here.

  5. Spend With Pennies

    OK, maybe jalapeno poppers aren’t the most festive of foods, but we love them with a passion. If we were going to throw a party they would be the first thing we served. This jalapeno popper dip keeps all of the flavour but requires a lot less valuable Christmas party time spent getting covered in chilli juice, and that can only be a good thing. Find the full recipe here.

  6. Daisies & Pie

    As far as we’re concerned,the perfect Christmas activity involves a ridiculous onesie, a sofa, and a stack of Christmas movies. Hot chocolate compliments that perfectly. But instead of another night spent with a mug of disappointing instant stuff, this peanut butter hot chocolate is the stuff that dreams are made of. Find the full recipe here.

  7. If You Give a Blonde a Kitchen

    Cookies abound at Christmas time. Whether you have a load of leftovers you want to do something with, or whether you want to dish out some cute homemade gifts, these sugar cookie truffles are a great way to get the maximum amount of sugary, Christmas fun in the smallest possible space. Find the full recipe here.

Christmas Have we missed anybody else who has awesome Christmas recipes to share? Let us know so that we can keep making amazing goodies to wow everybody at the office.

 

There’s a whole host of social media accounts and blogs dedicated to healthy lifestyles, whether that be fitness, nutrition, or a combination of the two. With so many out there, who should you be following? We recommend some of these people:

Jessamyn Stanley

Jessamyn Stanley is awesome. She started documenting her yoga journey on Instagram in order to check her alignment, and has quickly become an inspiration to women everywhere. She now teaches all over the world, and is also a body positivity advocate. Jessamyn encourages people to think ‘how does this feel?’ instead of ‘how does this look?’ while practising yoga.

Chocolate Covered Katie

You know how desserts are the best? Well, Chocolate Covered Katie does. She has loads of recipes for all kinds of sweet treats. The best, though, is that they’ve all been given a healthy twist. Sugar and syrup are replaced by healthy alternatives, and everything is still bloody delicious.

Minimalist Baker

Dana Shultz shares recipes for healthy food which is usually plant-based of gluten-free. So far, so standard. However, the best part about The Minimalist Baker is that she really does mean ‘minimalist’. Every recipe uses 10 ingredients or less, 1 bowl, or less than 30 minutes of your time, so you can make nutritious food without a lot of faff.

Fit Bottomed Girls

Erin Whitehead and Jenipher Walters have a website with everything from recipes to awesome playlists to get you fired up. Their Instagram is funny and full of motivation. They also have a podcast. There’s even an Anti-diet book. Basically, whatever you’re looking for in terms of motivation, you’ll find it thanks to Fit Bottomed Girls.

Deliciously Ella

You’ve probably seen her own brand of healthy energy balls in the shops. If not, you might have seen one of her three healthy eating cookbooks. Or perhaps you’ve seen the deli she’s been able to open in London because of her huge following. There’s no denying that Deliciously Ella is everywhere, and she’s great at what she does.

Fully Raw Kristina

If you like your healthy food looking bright and cheery, there’s nobody better than Kristina Carillo-Bucaran. Her Instagram feed and Youtube channel are super-bright and some of her recipes are super-tasty. She even has her own organic co-op, if you happen to be based around Texas.

Kayla Itsines

Kayla Itsines has a following of 10,000,000 women, and she has that for a very good reason. Users who are signed up to take part in her various programs are given targeted exercises to incorporate into theirworkouts, as well as a selection of recipes to cook every day. It’s like having someone hold your hand and guide you.

healthy

If any of these guys have inspired you, don’t forget that you can find personalised advice on healthy eating and fitness from our awesome HowNow experts. Happy health-ing!

Tea is amazing. That much we’re aware of. Anyone reading this will undoubtedly agree with that sentiment and, if not, we humbly suggest that you might be reading the wrong post. Or maybe you’re looking for intel about how to better understand the tea drinkers in your life. Look no further:

1. We are automatically healthier.

There’s all kinds of news about how tea’s really good for you. That isn’t why we’re drinking it, but it’s still nice to know. We can sit and enjoy a steaming hot cup of health, and watch smugly while the cappuccino and hot chocolate fans of the world nurse their pretty much benefit-free beverages. Plus, all of those antioxidants are basically cancelling out the biscuits.

2. We have the power to fix basically any problem in the world.

Hungover? Tea. Dumped? Tea. Fired? Tea.

And, fine. After you’ve finished your tea there’s always the chance that your problems won’t be 100% gone. In fact, it’s quite likely. But you know what? Even if everything in the world is going all kinds of wrong, tea is still there. Tea is still warm. Tea is still comforting. That’s better.

3. There will always be people who basically just drink hot water, and it will always be weird.

“Oh, I take my tea really weak, thanks. If you just dip the bag in for a couple of seconds, that’s perfect.”

THEN WHY ARE YOU BOTHERING? Seriously. Enjoy your cup of tea-coloured boiling water, you strange person. A noble teabag died so that you could have that. We hope you’re pleased with yourself.

4. There’ll always be time for one last cuppa.

Whatever time you get home on a Friday night, you can still put the kettle on. If you’re on the verge of running late for work, you’ll stick the kettle on quickly. If you have 5 minutes before you need to leave the house to catch a flight? Yup. Kettle on. Priorities.

5. The heartbreaking realisation that the person who just got up is not going to put the kettle on.

Picture the scene: You’re in your living room. You see some movement from the corner of your eye. Somebody’s getting up. They look like they could be about to go to the kitchen. Your heart rate picks up. You smile to yourself. And then at the last second that person takes a turn and heads to the front door, or to the bathroom, or out to the garden. Anywhere but the kitchen, basically. Your dreams are dashed. They don’t even realise.

tea-2

If you love a good brew don’t forget to check out HowNow for some top tips that’ll make you fall in love all over again.

Why should anybody learn new skills? After all, we’re all adults here, and there’s that whole adage about teaching old dogs new tricks. That didn’t just come from nowhere, so what’s the point? Right? Well, first off, that’s quite a negative outlook. Learning new skills can be hugely beneficial for a whole host of reasons. Here are just some of our favourites.

Increased self esteem

You’re awesome. We already know that. But sometimes it can be difficult to keep in mind. One way to remind yourself exactly how great you are is to learn new skills. After all, who would have though that you’d be speaking five languages in your thirties when you spoke none as a kid? Amazing. There’s nothing like taking on challenges and smashing them to make you feel like a badass.

The chance to get in the zone

Learning new skills gives you the opportunity to get in the zone. The zone is a great place to be. For the uninitiated, it’s that moment where you’re concentrating so hard on the task at hand that everything around you ceases to exist. That means all of your stress, distractions, other people, everything. It’s almost like magic, but a magic you can recreate any time.

Increased satisfaction

Can’t get no satisfaction? Maybe you need to make a positive change in your life. If you feel stuck in a rut it can be difficult to see a way to improve things, but learning a new skill is a small step in the right direction. Maybe you usually go home and log straight on to Netflix. It’s not so different to go home and then join an online class. The only difference is that you’ve suddenly become super-productive with no extra movement involved, and that’s an achievement.

Increased creativity

You might become an amazing creative genius as you continue to develop in one particular discipline. However, you might also find that adding to your roster of skills can give you a chance to work out problems in another area of your creative life. For example, suffering from writer’s block? Pick up a ukulele or learn to cross stitch, and stop worrying about it for a while. You might be surprised how much it helps.

Improve your memory

Learning something new is a great way to keep your mind active. This is especially important as we get older. Sure, you could just do a bunch of Sudoku puzzles, but wouldn’t it just be that little bit cooler to become a badass guitar-playing rockstar instead? Thought so.

You could literally change your life

Always fantasised about moving to Italy? You could start learning the language. If you do that, you’ve just taken your first step to actually living the actual dream. Similarly, if you’ve always wanted to be a chef, you could start with a few basic cookery classes. The world is so well-connected these days that you can find somebody who can teach you all of the new skills you’ve ever wanted to learn to change your life.

Higher income

Maybe you want to make more money. Firstly, we do not blame you. And secondly, it’s all about adding value, and new skills can do that. Learning a second language, picking up some writing skills, or improving your public speaking could all help you on the road to earning more. And if your current employer isn’t bothered that you’ve gone the extra mile, you might find somewhere else that appreciates your increasingly-abundant talents.

learning

So what new skills are you raring to learn? At HowNow we’re making it possible to learn awesome stuff from experts all over the world. We can’t wait to see what you choose.

The Netherlands is great and, more importantly, the Dutch people absolutely know what’s up when it comes to food. It feels like we hear a lot about more traditionally ‘food-y’ countries (I’m looking at you, Italy and France). But that’s a shame, because Amster-DAMN they have some amazing stuff in the Netherlands. Here are some of the awesome Dutch treats you’re missing out on.

1. Bitterballen

bitterballen

This sounds like it’s going to be describing, well, bitter balls. That doesn’t sound great. But guess again. Bitterballen are actually balls of deep fried gravy. We’ll say that again for the benefit of people who blacked out from excitement at that combination of words. Deep. Fried. Gravy. There really isn’t anything else we can add to sell this. It’s either your dream or your nightmare. There is no in-between.

2. Hagelslag

hagelslag-ducth

These little guys are a very special kind of Dutch sprinkle, which are designed to go over bread. You spread it with unsalted butter (not something we have ever willingly done before when salted butter exists, but we’ll make an exception).  After that, you basically just sprinkle away. It’s like the breakfast of your childhood dreams except that in The Netherlands you can eat it as a grown-ass adult and nobody can say anything.

3. Ontbijtkoek

dutch_style_gingerbread_loaf_cut_open

Gesundheit. We’re just playing. But you know who aren’t playing? The dutch and their breakfast-specific cake. That’s right. This is cake that is specifically designed to be eaten for breakfast. It’s made of rye, spices, and molasses, among other things. If you’re into healthy eating, this cake also contains no fat. Anyone who saw us freak out about deep fried gravy earlier will know that’s not one of our main concerns, but it’s still a little extra selling point.

4. Poffertjes

dutch pancakes

You know how pancakes are brilliant. Well, these are tiny pancakes. They pack the same amount of greatness as a normal-sized pancake, but you can eat three times as many. Food maths, guys. You’re welcome.

5. Pindasaus

pindasaus-dutch

In Britain, we tend use peanuts as a sauce only in satay situations. Dutch people, however, have taken a good thing and started using it everywhere. You can dip your chips in it, or bread, or whatever you want, really. No longer does peanut-y goodness need to be reserved for childhood sandwiches and dodgy takeaways.

The best part about all of this food is that we haven’t even scratched the surface of all of the great stuff that the Dutch have to eat. Everyone should take a trip there at one point or another. And, to towards that goal, we have Dutch teachers just raring to teach you some of the lingo. Just make sure the first phrase you learn is ‘please give me all of the deep fried gravy”.

Healthy eating can be tricky to figure out. There’s an overwhelming amount of information out there, from the actually-useful, to the not-very-helpful at all. And, of course, healthy eating is very much about the individual. What’s healthy for one person might be terrible for another. But if you want to take a few small steps that are suitable for everyone, where can you start?

Eat colourful food

Put. The blue raspberry. Down. That is categorically not what we mean when we say ‘eat colourful food’. We’re talking about eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables which pack a vitamin-filled punch. It can be helpful to think in terms of colour as that helps to avoid eating too much beige food. By that, we mean things like chips, pastry, and white bread – things that aren’t very nutritious. It’s not about cutting calories so much as about making sure you’re body gets the hit of vitamins it needs to function properly.

Don’t give in to too many treats

We’re not saying ‘never have another biscuit in your life’, because we’re not horrible people. But healthy eating means focussing more on what will sustainably fuel your body than what will provide a quick hit of energy followed by a crash. We’re partial to an M&S treat tub at HowNow Towers, but we should be aiming to eat more seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. ‘Should’ being the operative word. If you’re looking for help on the healthy eating front, services like Graze can be a great option.

Don’t start fad diets

Healthy eating isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. There’s a difference between choosing to eat more veg and eating nothing but green juice and cabbage soup. For starters, it’s not very good for you in the long run because you’re missing out on getting a full range of nutrients. Secondly, they tend to end in disappointment when the results don’t last. And lastly, well, they’re just a bit boring. Healthy eating shouldn’t be a chore because if you turn it into one you’ll never want to do it.

Stay hydrated

Sometimes when you’re hungry, what you really are is dehydrated. If you’re sitting at a desk all day it can be difficult to summon the will to get up for a glass of water, especially if you don’t feel that thirsty. However,that’s exactly what you need to do. You might also find that you’re able to focus better, so you can tell your boss that regular water breaks are an essential part of your working process.

Eat Breakfast

Breakfast really does help to keep hunger locked up ’til lunch. We actually might have borrowed that from Shreddies. But either way, it really works. If you get the day off to a good start it sets you up to keep eating healthily throughout. You’ll be less hungry and less inclined to absentmindedly snack. All good things, really. Just try to avoid cereals loaded with sugar and daily fry-ups. A nice porridge ought to do the trick. Or avocado on toast if you’re feeling like Instagramming something.

healthy

Like we mentioned at the start of this, healthy eating is very much dependent on the individual. You might want some tailored help, and that’s exactly what you can find on HowNow. We also have awesome cooking classes with healthy recipes from people like Jessie Lane Lee. Get stuck in today!