Every month or so, I start eating like an uncontrollable beast who has just awoken from 100 years in hibernation. 

I’m talking second breakfasts, constant inter-meal snacking and supersize dinners with all the trimmings (and by trimmings, I mean chips). And I can’t lie, I start to freak out. I worry that this ravenous hunger will never leave me and that if I continue to eat at this rate, I’m destined for a future as the world’s largest woman.

But then… then I get that pang; that little twitch in my lower abdomen giving me a head’s up that my period is on its way. And suddenly I remember that this always happens, that a few days before my period I am always hit with the most unquenchable hunger. Then I chill the hell out.

Me Want Food 30 Rock gif

You see we’ve all heard of pregnancy cravings (which seem to involve eating pickles with everything), but we rarely talk about period cravings – even though many women encounter them on a monthly basis. As well as just wanting to eat EV-ER-Y-THING for a time, I also get really seriously into cheese. And chocolate. Toasties, cheese on toast, thick chocolate milkshakes and really dense, sticky brownies are my go-to treats – things I usually eat as occasional treats suddenly become essential parts of my diet.

And it’s not just me. I asked around my friends, and everyone agreed that their eating habits changed around the time of their period. Unsurprisingly, chocolate featured pretty highly on a lot of people’s period craving charts, but some of the foods were a bit more leftfield. Not one but two people got back to me saying they craved all things tomato – from plain old tinned tomatoes to baked beans and even tomato & basil pasta sauce straight out the jar – while another friend said she became a crazed carnivore, always fancying loads of bacon, sausages, steak and, I quote, ‘ALL THE CHICKEN.’

But what do these cravings MEAN? Is there any rhyme or reason to them, or are they all just random? And are there any dietary dos or don’ts we should know about? To find out, I spoke to Gaynor Bussell, a dietician and registered nutritionist specialising in women’s health.

First up, Gaynor confirmed that period – or PMS – cravings are totally normal. She explained: ‘Cravings can be one of the symptoms of PMS, and due to changing hormone levels this can happen from two weeks before the period (known as the luteal phase) to the time when the period really gets underway (which could take a few days from when it first starts). Calorie requirements increase for many during this time of the month, and so there is an increase in hunger which may drive cravings.’ Phew.

Mindy Project McDonalds gif

So the hunger is normal, but what about our food choices? ‘Nobody really knows why certain foods are craved and cravings do vary, with some preferring savoury while some crave any carbs,’ Gaynor explained. But when it comes to chocolate, Gaynor told me it’s all about that feel-good feeling: ‘Chocolate has always been associated with comfort, regardless of PMS. This time of the month is associated with increased depression and anxiety so comfort food may be craved.’

Finally, I asked Gaynor for her period dietary tips. Unsurprisingly, seeing as she’s a nutritionist, chips and chocolate brownies didn’t feature too highly. Instead, she advised: ‘A healthy diet throughout the month has been associated with less PMS symptoms. Being generally active too can help reduce symptoms. It is also believed that having regular meals throughout the day that that are made up of low energy release carbs, such as pasta, seedy bread and oats, can help even out swings in blood sugars and hence avert cravings. And in general, you should avoid consuming too much junk food – especially foods and drinks that give you quick energy/sugar boosts which may be followed by crashing lows. These are known perpetrators of PMS.’

So, as ever, it seems that a healthy, active lifestyle with the odd treat is the way to go. I’ll try to remember that next time I’m dunking chips in a chocolate milkshake with a side of double-cheeseburger…

@MissSisiG

Image: Manjit Thapp

It’s International Cat Day! That means – even if you’re a dog person – today is dedicated to adorable fluffy felines all over the world. We’re celebrating by wearing our matching cat-ear hairbands that we bought for Halloween last year (because, why not), watching cat videos on YouTube and eating these puuurrr-fect kawaii kitty cookies. We reckon you should be copycats and do the same…

Ingredients (makes 20-24)

For the cookies:

• 200g soft salted butter
• 200g golden caster (superfine) sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 large free-range egg, lightly beaten
• 400g plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting

For the decorations:

• soft-peak royal icing in your chosen colours, in piping bags fitted with round piping nozzles, for outline
• runny royal icing, in the same shades as the soft-peak icing in piping bags, for flooding
• black edible food pens (fine-tip), for face details
• pink edible dusting powder, for cheeks

Recipe

For the cookies:

1. Put the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl, add the vanilla and beat before mixing in the egg with a wooden spoon.

2. Tip in the flour and continue to mix until a dough is formed.

3. Roll it out onto a floury surface then cut with cat cookie cutters.

4. Place in the oven and bake for around 10–12 minutes then cool.

For the decorations:

1. Pipe soft-peak royal icing around the edges of the cookie shapes in your different colours.

2. Flood the centre of the kitty face in a runny royal icing in matching colours. You can make them two or three-tone – just have fun! Leave to dry for a few hours or ideally overnight.

3. Using the black edible pen add the nose and mouth, then some tiny whiskers to make them look puuurrr-fect.

4. Add dots of runny white royal icing to create the shimmer on the eyes. Use pink dusting powder to add sweet cheeks. You can add a little runny pink royal icing for the insides of the ears, too.

5. Keep them as pets or just gobble them all up!

From Kawaii Cakes by Juliet Sear (Hardie Grant, £10) Photography © Jacqui Melville

Image: Jacqui Melville/Katie Edmunds

Hands up if you’re secretly missing school at the mo. Yeah, it’s not like we miss Pythagoras and his theorem or anything, but we’re just not used to being away from our buddies for so long. And no summer job is going to be able to cover the amount of meals, cinema trips or ice cream cones we need to make up for lost time.

So, with the parents’ permission, get the girl gang round to yours! You don’t need a lesson timetable to dictate your bonding time. August’s bettybox is the PERFECT inspo for recreating your own betty sleepover (*hotel not provided. Soz. Wouldn’t fit in the box).

You’ve seen the vids; you know how Grace Victory, SophDoesNails and Just Jodes rocked their betty sleepover hosting, but just incase you need a little tick list…

1. Set the vibes

Ambiance is super-important, so crack out the fairy lights and crank up the tunes. Sort a playlist ahead of time, so you can really nail the mood. You’ll be wanting some proper belters in there, so you can all sing along, plus some good dance tunes to mess about to. The bedroom floor is your stage, Beyoncé.

2. Snackage

Popcorn, marshmallows (try the chubby bunny game, but be careful not to choke), cake and a biccy or ten = sleepover snack goals. The lemon and ginger flavours in Rhythm 108’s biscuit in your August bettybox are a perfect pairing and we want a whole plateful right now.

3. Drinks

If your mum is on to you about your teeth, or your friend is getting all health conscious (erm, hello, it’s the *holidays*), The London Tea Company’s Purple Tea is a fab alternative to fizzy drinks. Now, we’re not suggesting you sit with a hot cuppa in the middle of summer. Oh, no. It’s all about iced tea, baby! And how Instagrammable is a purple drink? Very. First step Insta, next step YouTube and vlogging superstardom!

4. Get yo’ face on

Sleepovers are a great chance to try out new looks without the fear of being judged if it looks crapola. Let your friends loose on your face with your new My Flawless brush (it’s made of soft synthetic fibre that picks up the perfect amount of blusher/bronzer/powder/glitter) and the Colour Switch lippy from Saturated Colour, both included in August’s bettybox. Why not try the ombré lip tutorial featured in this month’s collective booklet?

5. Nails

You’re not hosting a proper sleepover unless nails are getting done somewhere in the room. Raise the bar a notch and expand the art past your nail beds with a Stylondon henna tattoo. It’s really quick and easy to do, and looks oh-so-pretty on your hand.

6. Sharing is caring

A girly sleepover is a great forum to share any worries and get advice from your girls who may have gone through, or are going through, similar things. As you’ve seen at our betty sleepovers, the girls share their experiences with each other, which make them feel less alone. Getting an outside opinion will always put problems into perspective.

7. Wind down

When the credits roll after the 10th film of the evening, it’s probably time to wind down. After the make-up, facemask goo, and 16 new dance routines you’ve choreographed to perfection, don’t even think about committing the cardinal sin of sleeping with your make-up on! Get the gunk out of your pores using your Urban Veda purifying face wash. Squirt into your new Spa For You Konjac sponge for a deep but gentle clean. Now, after all that, go forth and catch some zzzzzzs. You’re on breakfast duty in the morning!

If you haven’t subscribed already, don’t worry! You can sign up for a bettybox here.

Image: Kerri Walter

Me: “Mum, what’s for pudding?” Mum: “Have some fruit.” Eugh. Is that not the most offensive thing your mum can say to you after Sunday dinner? Pretty much. Well, don’t stress, because we’ve got a trump card up our sleeves and yes, you are free to use it too.

The next time you hear those dreaded words, whip out your phone and put this delish cinnamon-baked apple recipe in front of her face. Not only does it count towards one of your five-a-day so your ‘rents will be happy, but it actually tastes like a proper, delicious, sugary pudding, too. You’re welcome.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the banana bread nice cream:

• 3 large ripe bananas, peeled and frozen
• 60g cashews, soaked for 4–6 hours, then drained
• 1⁄2 tbsp coconut sugar
• 1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
• a pinch of salt
• 60g cacao butter
• 60g chopped roasted walnuts

For the baked apples:

• 4 green apples
• 4 tbsp coconut sugar
• 4 tbsp maple syrup
• 4 tbsp vegan butter or coconut oil
• 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Recipe

1. To make the nice cream, blitz the bananas and cashews in a food processor or blender until completely smooth.

2. Add the coconut sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt and cacao butter, then blend again.

3. Spoon the mixture into a freezer-proof container and stir through the chopped walnuts. Freeze for 2–3 hours to firm up (take out the freezer 10 mins before serving).

4. To make the baked apples, preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F/Gas 3). Scoop out the core from the top of the apples, leaving a hole (don’t cut all the way through).

5. Stuff each apple with 1 tablespoon coconut sugar and maple syrup.

6. Place a small piece of butter or coconut oil on top, then place in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with the cinnamon.

7. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until they’re lovely and soft then serve with a dollop of ice cream!

From Guilt-Free Nice Cream by Margie Broadhead (Hardie Grant, £12.99) Photography © Jacqui Melville

Image: Jacqui Melville/Katie Edmunds

We know the rule: you should always eat a hearty breakfast to kick-start your day. But unless you really love cooking or find yourself in a fancy hotel with a magical toaster that provides unlimited avo toast (dreamy), it’s hard to muster up the energy to make something really delicious. Especially on a lazy Sunday.

*Food klaxon* This is why we love overnight oats. Not only do they take five minutes to make as you prep them the night before, but this tasty, oaty recipe actually comes complete with a decadent dollop of ice cream. Wait, WHAT? Yes, you heard us right. We are shaking up the brunch world once again with something naughty, because incase you hadn’t heard… oats + ice cream = breakfast of champions.

Just don’t tell your ‘rents we keep doing this or you’ll be on diet of dry muesli before you can say ‘sultana’.

Ingredients

For the overnight oats (enough for 4 mornings):

150 g rolled oats
420 ml almond milk
60 ml apple juice
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cinnamon ‘nice cream’:

2 bananas, peeled and frozen
1 tsp vanilla extract
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 medjool date
a pinch of salt

Recipe

1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and then leave to soak overnight in the fridge.

2. The next day, if the mix looks a little dry add more almond milk. Then scoop into a small jar or bowl.

3. Now for the cinnamon nice cream! Just pop the bananas, vanilla extract, cinnamon, date and salt in a food processor and blend until thick and creamy, scraping down the sides every 30 seconds.

4. Whizz until the mix becomes completely smooth, like a Mr. Whippy.

5. Scoop the nice cream on top of the oats and add a tasty toppings (we love caramelised bananas, crumbled nuts and coconut flakes).

From Guilt-Free Nice Cream by Margie Broadhead (Hardie Grant, £12.99) Photography © Jacqui Melville

Image: Jacqui Melville/Katie Edmunds

Love ice cream? Ok, silly question, of course you do. You’re human. But do you LOVE ice cream? Like, enough to paint your whole entire face with raspberry ripple then glue waffle cones and sprinkles onto your head? Instagram’s beauty queens do.

A new wave of MUA’s are seriously committed to the sugar-sweet look, using summer’s most delish dessert as colourful inspiration for ice cream make up.

What better way to pay your respects to the school summer holidays (aka the best time of the year, apart from maybe Christmas and National Chocolate Day) than to rock up to your friend’s BBQ fully decked out like a super-cute Mr. Whippy. Sure, it might turn heads, but it looks SO PRETTY.

Better still, why not throw a summer fancy dress party for you and your squad just so you can debut Instagram’s latest hun. It totally won’t be weird if you’re all painted with sugar syrup. OMG, that might even mean that some of it is edible?

The best news about this new trend is that you can actually hide snacks on yourself. Genius, right? (We see that sneaky doughnut you’ve popped on your head for later, @bunnyneedsmakeup…)

So, the next time you’re off to a party, or just want to play around with the brightest shades in your make up palette, use your fave ice cream flavour as your muse. In fact, you should probably just go and buy a big fat ice cream sundae for research purposes RN…

@missblackmore

Remember when we were crushing on all the amazing unicorn food on Instagram?Well, now we’re crushing on some more. What can we say? We’re floozies when it comes to food.

These unicorn poop iced gem cookies are not only so cute we want to draw faces on them and keep them as pets, but their baking level is officially “easy”. Pretty much our favourite word when it comes to anything involving icing (apart from maybe chocolate).

So, scrap your muesli, it’s Sunday, and treat yourself to these rainbow biscuits for breakfast. Maybe lunch and dinner, too. Because why the heck not.

Ingredients

1 batch ready-baked vanilla sugar cookies (we’re not baking whizzes, okay guys)
400 g (14 oz) stiff-peak royal icing, divided into 4 batches of mint green, pink, yellow and blue
4 small, thin piping bags and 1 large piping bag that will contain them
large open star nozzle
bag clip

Recipe

1. To make the rainbow poop topping, fill the 4 piping bags (without nozzles) with each colour of icing.

2. Fit the large piping bag with the star nozzle. Snip the end of each small bag so that you have a 1cm hole and carefully place each bag in the larger bag so that the tips reach evenly into the star nozzle. It helps to put a clip at the end of the large bag to stop the icing from spilling out of the top.

3. Squeeze the icing onto the cookies by holding the bag in a vertical position, and moving in circles around each cookie, starting from the outside edge, winding inwards and building height to create a peak.

4. Leave to dry overnight. To speed up the drying process you can place the cookies in a low oven at about 70°C (140°F/Gas low) for 30 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave for 2 hours.

5. EAT THEM ALL.

From Kawaii Cakes by Juliet Sear (Hardie Grant, £10) Photography © Jacqui Melville

Image: Jacqui Melville/Katie Edmunds

After over a decade of your parents feeding you night after night, the time has come to put your money where their mouth is and cook them a meal. You know where the oven is: you’ve seen things go in and out of it, and the hob looks easy enough. It’s all just button pushing really, and your phone can testify to your tekkers in that department. In fact, come to think of it, you’re not entirely sure what all the fuss is about. How hard can this cooking lark be?

Simultaneous equations

Forget cookery books: if being a phone addict has taught you anything, it’s that the answer to all life’s questions lie in the internet – and that includes recipes. You google ‘family cooking’ (or should, if you haven’t already) and up comes Jamie Oliver. There are family favourites, recipes for feeding a crowd, healthy meals, veggie dishes… jeez, who knew there was so much you could do with food? As you click through them all, your brain sizzles on a low heat with the effort of recalling all your fam’s likes and dislikes and, bearing in mind what’s already in the fridge, calculating the budget of each dish. You feel the first twinge of regret for your offer. You’ve an essay to write, three Pretty Little Liars eps to catch up on before bed time, and you’d give anything right now for your dad’s chicken kiev. Six hours of deep-sea internet diving later, you surface triumphantly with a recipe for Pukka yellow chicken… only to remember spicy food gives your stepmum the shits.

One potato, two potato

Fish cakes it is! Looks lush and seems, from the number of steps involved, pretty simple. Now you just need to adjust whatever quantity the recipe says it serves with the number of people in your family. Why, oh why, didn’t I listen in Maths? Gah. With potatoes it should be simple – if 300g serve 4 people, 600g serve 8 etc – but things grow a little more complicated when it comes to grams of smoked haddock fillets. What do you do with the leftover third of a fish? Or the mountain of parsley you end up buying because you misread 15g as 150g and you’ve basically bought a tree?

Stick it to me baby

A word of warning here for anyone planning to take this stuff literally and actually cook fish cakes: raw smoked fish smells pretty savage. As will your hands after you’ve reduced five of them to flakes and mixed them with that mound of potato it took you half your lifetime to peel, cube and mash. The fishy mash will stick to your fingers. The parsley will stick to your fingers. Your hair will fall in your eyes, you’ll go to brush it away – and it, too, will stick to your fingers. OMG, please try to resist the temptation at this point to pick up your phone. It’s true of fishcakes, but in any recipe there will come a point when all you can see is vegetable peel before you, oil slicks behind you and mess everywhere else — and that’s before your eyes cloud over with the mist of onion tears.

Help! I need somebody

And not just anybody. Trust me when I tell you that at a certain moment in the proceedings, you will need your parents, AS to the P. Maybe your onion is burned; maybe your fish cakes are soggy AF; maybe you’ve broken a glass into the mix (if you do this, ABORT ABORT. There’s no going back from that) or forgotten to add a vital ingredient. Whatever it is, when you realise you’re facing less of a cook up, more of a cock up royale, it’s okay to call mum or dad.

Dishing up

Your doting parents are gunning for your first dinner to be the GOAT, your siblings may have other ideas – but so long as your brace yourself for a solid trashing, the only way is up. It’s a great feeling, feeding people – particularly those you love. It’s the fastest way to anyone’s heart, and great practice for when you’re flying free. However not okay your first experience was, trust and believe me when I say, you WILL get better – and you’ll learn to, if not love it, at least be able to put something edible together one day. You hope.

@clare_finney

Image: Hailey Hamilton

The summer starts out so brilliantly, doesn’t it? The sunshine, the Frappuccinos, the holidays, the Frappuccinos…

But then suddenly, it’s the first week of July and you’ve burnt through your entire allowance on frappuccinos. Luckily though, there’s a solution: you can make your own at home! It may not have the mystery green Starbucks lady on the cup, but that doesn’t mean isn’t Instagram-worthy.

Check out this recipe from Super Golden Bakes for what might just be the ultimate DIY iced coffee. Their Gilmore Girls-inspired creation isn’t for the faint of heart (it features condensed milk, coffee and whipped cream) – but it is delicious. And will definitely keep you awake.

Whip one up this weekend while listening to some chilled tunes, why don’t you? And – top tip – hold your thumb to the roof of your mouth to stave off the inevitable brain freeze.

Living as we do in the age of green juices, Instagram wellness gurus and friends who just happen to turn gluten intolerant overnight (except for, mysteriously, Colin the Caterpillar cake?) it’s easy to feel confused about food.

On the one hand: diets suck. Body positivity is the way forward, ‘strong not skinny’ is so now and we know it’s so much healthier to have a cookie when you fancy one than to live a life of obsessive calorie-counting. But on the other hand, when you’re fed up of bad skin, feel like hormones are taking over your body and need all the energy you can get to keep up with your busy, busy life, food could hold some answers.

“Teenage years are BIG years for your body – there’s a lot of change and development,” says Alice Walker, a registered dietician (which FYI is a legal title, whereas anyone can call themselves a ‘nutritionist’ without professional qualifications). “Your body is calling out for good nutritious food.” So how do we sort the true superfoods from the trendy fads? Ask a professional, that’s how.

Here are Alice’s top five nutrients to be eating more of in 2017. Tuck in!

1. Fibre – keeps things moving

“First up is fibre, which we don’t seem to be consuming enough of these days and we need it to keep [lol] regular. Fruit and vegetables are an excellent source of fibre and have the added benefit of being rich in other vitamins and minerals too – so if you aim to meet your 5-a-day of fruit and veg then that’s a good target. A portion could be an apple, two satsumas, two broccoli spears or a banana. Wholemeal carbs (oats, bread, pasta and rice), nuts, seeds, lentils and beans are also great sources. Long-term low intake of fibre can cause digestive problems later in life, so it’s important to get your fill.” 

2. Protein – power up

“A teenage body requires plenty of protein. Having good skin, hair and nails could all be down to having enough protein in your diet – but that doesn’t mean you need to go and drink protein shakes. Lean cuts of meat, fish, yoghurt, milk, eggs, quinoa, soya and tofu all are good sources of protein. Be savvy and include a portion of protein at each meal – that could be a palm-sized amount of the above, a chicken fillet, a salmon steak, an individual pot of yoghurt or a couple of eggs.” 

3. Calcium and Vitamin D – besties for bones

“These two together make a heavenly pair for strong bones. Teenage years are crucial as it is when bone strength peaks, and a diet lacking in calcium and vitamin D could lead to Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). Calcium is, famously, found in dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese – but if you’re vegan or don’t like the white stuff then oily fish, calcium-enriched breakfast cereals and green leafy vegetables can also help. Again, aiming to have a portion at each meal would be a good start. Meanwhile vitamin D is added to lots of breakfast cereals, milk and margarine but the best source is actually direct from sunlight. As well as eating a balanced diet we should also have an active lifestyle, so fresh air and safe sun exposure [remember your SPF] for at least 15 minutes per day also benefits those bones.”

4. Iron – for inner strength

“We lose iron every month in our menstrual cycle, so it’s extra important to make sure you get enough once you start your period. Found in red meat, green leafy vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals, dried fruit and nuts, iron also helps to carry oxygen around the body, giving our muscles energy to move – so there is some truth in Popeye downing the tins of spinach to make him strong! If you don’t think that offal is awful then liver or kidneys are fab sources of iron. Vitamin C can also help the absorption of Iron from plant sources – so a perfect breakfast could be breakfast cereal with a glass of orange juice to wash it down with.

5. Fats – oil’s well that ends well

“Finally, let’s talk fat. Good fats are essential – our bodies can’t make them, so we need to eat them. Let’s not worry about the long complicated names but oily fish (like mackerel, sardines or salmon), avocado, nuts, seeds, rapeseed and olive oil all contain essential fats that can help give you great skin. Fats found in processed products – like cakes, crisps, biscuits and pastries – contain the less brilliant fats that it’s better to eat only in moderation.”

“But most importantly,” says Alice, “enjoy your food and be creative with it – variety is the spice of life!”

So there you go; proper, medical permission to fill up your plate with all kinds of food. Because there’s so much more to life than green juice.

Alice Walker is a registered dietician.

Image: Manjit Thapp

Haven’t got your July bettybox through the post yet? This month’s delivery will get you through the season of unicorn pool floats and ALL THE SUNCREAM. From battling PMS spots and sweaty skin (we’ve all been there, girl) to stocking up on cute summer jewellery, picnic sweets and sanitary pads (obvs), we’ve thought of everything to see you through your period and beyond.

ERRRYTHING inside…

candy kittens sour blueberry

hairon zero crease hair ties

balance me pure skin facial wash

lisa angel shape bracelet

korres bergamot and pear body milk

anatomicals deep conditioning hair pack

scrub love coconut affair coffee scrub

l’oreal colour riche nail polishes

People put cinnamon rolls in the same category as croissants. The “sure it would be nice to have homemade ones, but I also quite like having a life and not dedicating my entire weekend to crouching in front of a hot oven for a pastry that will inevitably be less good than the ones I can get from ASDA” type of breakfast foods.

But no more! This recipe from Add a Pinch only has seven ingredients and while it takes an hour and a half all up, tbh a lot of that time is just waiting around for dough to rise so you can totally go back to bed for a bit if you fancy. AND LOOK HOW DELICIOUS THEY ARE. LOOK. They have icing and everything!

And while you’re baking your cinnamon scrolls, you might find yourself wanting to spice up your life a little more. Ginger won’t cut it, you need the whole gang. That’s right, pop on some 90s cult tunes from The Spice Girls and slow it down baby, you gotta have some funnnn…