Health

Friday Favourites: Cookbooks

Cooking is something we're divided on at The Amazing Blog. Half of us are avid chefs, and the rest, well they would prefer never to turn an oven on again. What we do agree on though, is that a good cookbook can ease the battle of turning everyday ingredients into delicious meals, helping even the most unenthusiastic of cooks to rustle up a tasty dish. We have discovered the following cookbooks, each one guaranteed to contain a vast amount of recipes that will make your cooking restaurant worthy in no time!

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Firstly, we came across Eating Well Everyday, the brainchild of chef Peter Gordon. Originally from New Zealand, Gordon's extensive knowledge of cooking has stemmed from numerous culinary travels, through which he has gained inspiration to use Asian, Indonesian and Indian flavours. His passions have also led him to receive an ONZM (the equivalent of an OBE), notably awarded as a result of having organised a "Who's Cooking Dinner" event, which raised over £6.3 million for leukaemia research. We are therefore safe in the knowledge that this cookbook has been written by someone who truly knows how to cook (and has a passion for it).

Written for "home cooks everywhere", this book contains 170 recipes, covering everything from breakfast to dinner party meals. Self-proclaimed to contain “tasty and daring, yet simple and straightforward" dishes, this is something we can vouch for. Even the most inexperienced of chefs amongst us were able to follow these recipes with ease (and perhaps even enjoyment). Our favourite dishes? The Chicken and Peanut Coconut Curry (page 166) and Pumpkin, Ginger, Chickpea and Cheese Soup (page 50) - both guaranteed to warm you up on a cold winter's evening. We also love the Peanut, Pecan and Chocolate Cookie recipe for a sweet after-dinner treat. To purchase Eating Well Everyday for £22, then click here.

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Secondly, we came across The Lazy Weekend Cookbook, a firm favourite amongst the less enthusiastic cooks of the office. Written by chef Matt Williamson, this book contains over 150 pages of delicious recipes for weekend cooking. Williamson explains that the goal of the book is to provide recipes that can be cooked leisurely, as opposed to the usual mid-week rush to get anything on the table. His advice is to choose a particular few meals to focus on, meaning you can rustle up some exceptional dishes, without spending all weekend in the kitchen.

The book is structured into mealtimes and moments, ranging from breakfasts and brunches, to easy dinner party meals, and bakes. Each meal is designed for 4 people; however, we found it easy to scale this up or down, dependant on the situation. There are too many favourites to share, but the Quick Sesame Flatbreads with Honey Butter (page 29) and Moroccan Spiced Chicken Pie (page 54) are two stand out recipes that we couldn't not mention. We also like the weight and temperature conversions at the back of the book, meaning we have less chance of cremating our newfound recipes! To ramp up your weekend cooking, then you can purchase a copy of Williamson's The Lazy Weekend Cookbook here for £20.

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Finally, we discovered MOB Kitchen by Ben Lebus. Known for his online presence, Lebus' YouTube channel has grown a strong following, with an empire of over 250,000 social media followers in just 18 months. His niche? Providing meals for four people that are under £10. More recently, Lebus has extended this knowledge into a cookbook, aiming to encourage people to cook delicious and nutritious meals, that are still affordable. This concept is particularly popular among students and young professionals, proving that delicious meals don't need to cost a small fortune. By creating a cookbook, Lebus' new mission is to educate all ages, whether that be people who choose not to use social media, or those of us who simply like to have a physical copy at hand.

The cookbook is segmented by time and goal, ranging from Brunch MOB to Speedy MOB and Flashy MOB. These contain over ten different recipes, amounting to 140 pages of recipes and visual guidelines. Each page has key symbols, with Spotify Codes on each recipe page, allowing readers to listen to the corresponding playlist/song. This is something we found interesting, tapping into the active social media tie Lebus has. We particularly enjoyed making the Chocolate Chilli Con Carne (page 94), and the Crunchy Vegan Aubergine Katsu (page 122) both of which stopped us from shelling out on unnecessary and expensive takeaways. To purchase your own copy of MOB Kitchen, click here, where you can find ideas to get the mob fed for £14.99.

These cookbooks have certainly helped us to eat better this November, with warming and comforting dishes that are easy to make, and reasonable to rustle up. Try them for yourself or we think these cookbooks would make a great Christmas gift for someone in need of spicing up their mealtimes. Happy cooking!

Watermans Hair Growth Shampoo and Conditioner

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Many of us have the same problem when it comes to haircare - we simply have too much. Endless bottles of cremes, mousses and gels litter our shower racks, and we must confess that some of them have never even been opened. We therefore decided to take decisive action at The Amazing Blog, to find minimal products that encourage your natural hair to shine, without the need to buy the entire haircare aisle. Our solution against hair loss, is the UK based company, Watermans, who have created an award-winning hair growth system pack. This includes their Hair Growth Shampoo and Conditioner, both packed with ingredients that make our scalps tingle, encouraging our hair grow to grown both quicker and stronger. Thank goodness for biotin, caffeine and argan oil!

Founded by husband and wife, Matt and Gail Waterman, the brand aims to provide haircare products that promote faster and thicker hair growth. This is something they have achieved, with sulphate and paraben free products that have grown the brand to become a household name. The Hair Growth Shampoo and Conditioner are full of DHT blocking ingredients (dihydrotestosterone, an androgen hormone responsible for androgenetic alopecia and pattern hair loss), which help to combat hair loss during pregnancy, menopause and in some cases, alopecia. With a unique formula which supplies oxygen to the follicles, this range gives brittle and weak hair new strength, fighting dandruff, flaking skin and itchy scalps.

Focusing on the Grow Me Shampoo, we were pleased to see that it is gender and race neutral, giving everyone the opportunity to presume wonderfully thick and long hair. By stimulating the cell metabolism and providing oxygen, the shampoo helps with undiagnosed scalp problems and hormonal imbalances that can cause hair loss. With the use of biotin, caffeine, argan oil, rosemary oil, you’ll need to leave the product on the scalp for 3-4 minutes to reap the full benefits - giving you plenty of time to sing your heart out. The Cholesterol Conditioner, with caffeine and rosemary extracts, contains a special anti-hair loss formula which boosts our hair, by replenishing and nourishing from roots to tip. To achieve the best results, the products are recommended to be used four times a week for 30-60 days.

We’re already sold, but if you're not sure, then this UK based company is listed by PETA as a business friend, highly against animal testing. If you’re as excited as we are about these products, then you can purchase Watermans' Hair Growth System Pack, containing both the Shampoo and Conditioner (250ml each) for £21.95 here.

Nouri Herbal Shots

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You might associate Herbology with Harry Potter fandom, rather than health and wellbeing; and although we love Ms. Sprouts’ classes, the newly growing herbal community is showing us at The Amazing Blog, that it can work it’s magic even on us common muggles. Newly founded company, NOURI is proving it’s worth in this domain, taking us back to our natural roots, with a range of alcohol-free and highly concentrated herbal shots.

Founders, Lia Schmökel and Danielle Sheridan wanted to create products that help us to integrate a healthy routine into busy lifestyles. Their herbal shots make it easy to treat our bodies to some natural goodness without being dogmatic about it, allowing us busy bees to keep our bodies and minds at their optimum. The shots come in different forms, you can buy their Focus, Boost or Lust shots seperately, or you can choose from a ready-made pack. Whichever you choose, you can be sure that the contents have been designed to aid the human biorhythm.

We tried their individual shots, Focus, Boost and Lust. Focus contains energising ingredients, such as eleuthera and Siberian ginseng. These power ingredients help boost physical and psychological performance, without any side effects, while, green tea extracts help to awaken our senses. Limes, liquorice root and bitter orange create a powerful and refreshing taste that makes your mornings feel light and fresh, even if they are packed with invoices and tax returns.

Boost provided us with the will to carry on, after we had our third back-to-back meeting of the day. The use of Inca herb maca is noteworthy, a specialist ingredient when it comes to fighting against drowsiness, which creates an energetic outcome when combined with ginger, oregano, guarana and nutmeg. In addition, it also provides our aching muscles with the uplifting kick they deserve, boosting our energy levels for a sustained period of time, as opposed to the kick that we lose quickly after consuming sugary energy drinks.

Finally, we tried Lust, which contains the South African plant damiana, traditionally used as an aphrodisiac during shamanic rituals. This acts as a natural viagra for men and woman, and with additional ingredients like schisandra and cardamom, balance and stamina are notable. The use of chilli also enlightens inner fire, and rosemary, a known herb of passion, strengthens the libido naturally.

If you too would like to enlighten your senses, then visit the NOURI website here, where you can purchase your own bottles of Focus, Boost and Lust. They’re available either as a single purchase (a minimum of 6 bottles), or as part of a monthly package.

 

Ellactiva Collagen Chews

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Our mothers have always encouraged us to take our vitamins, and here at The Amazing Blog, we take that advice very seriously! We recently came across, Ellactiva, a UK based company who provide Collagen Soft Chews that are easy to take on-the-go. These chews are boosted with 2.5g of bioactive collagen peptides, improving your skin from the inside, and making it feel as smooth as ever, in just four weeks.

With three different flavours (blended with minerals and vitamins), the Collagen Soft Chews not only make you look great, but you will also feel healthier. They give you all the energy you need from within, strengthening your immune system, and improving your bone health simultaneously. Additionally, the three different flavours provide benefits that go beyond skin depth.

The first, Collagen & Energy, contain bioactive collagen peptides that help improve the skin's structure and elasticity. They also include high levels of vitamin C and chromium picolinate, which maximise collagen synthesis, as well as prebiotic fibre and resistant starch, reducing hunger cravings and supporting energy release. What makes these chews even more irresistible, is that they come in a sugar-free orange flavour, to enhance our taste buds and boost our energy levels at the same time.

The second superpower is the Collagen & Healthy Bones pack, which comes in a sugar-free caramel cream flavour. With a base of bioactive collagen peptides, they help to give a younger look to our work loaded faces. Additionally, vitamin C maximises collagen synthesis, and with the help of calcium and vitamin D, we are packed with all the good stuff and are ready to take on the day.

The last powerhouse is the Collagen & Immunity package that helps to maintain the skin’s structural integrity and firmness, due to its blend of bioactive collagen peptides and prebiotic fibre. With the aid of zinc, selenium and vitamin C, our immune system gets the boost it needs to keep us healthy and fit, even on the coldest of days in the UK. The best part? These chews have a fruity blackcurrant flavour.

The elegant and light packaging makes it easy to take your vitamins on the go, helping you to live a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. The collagen infused chews give us back what we have lost over the years, allowing our skin and bones to strengthen, reversing the degenerating collagen process. If you want to take your mother's advice seriously, and treat yourself to some vitamins, then the three packages (including 60 sugar-free soft chews) can be purchased here from £29.99.

Friday Favourites: Healthier Sweet Snacks

Snacking, often the cause of many a failed healthy eating attempt, is something we can't live without at The Amazing Blog. Fortunately, the expansion of the health food market has unearthed a vast selection of new and healthier alternatives, so we can snack healthily, without cutting out our favourite snacking foods. Below are a few of our latest discoveries, which have encouraged us to snack more mindfully in recent months!

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Firstly, we came across The Nu Company, a German brand, with the vision of providing cutting-edge health products, that don't cut out flavour. As a company, they aim to change our perceptions, not only about healthier foods but also about the way in which we consume. This includes the desire to enable large-scale reforestation, planting a tree for every product sold. While eating their raw cacao bars, we have already helped to plant eight trees - what better way to help the environment?

Made only from "ingredients you are able to pronounce", these raw cacao bars come in a variety of different flavours that do not contain artificial additives. Instead, each bar contains raw cacao, hemp seeds, coconut blossom nectar, almonds, lucuma and acerola - flavoured with natural flavourings for a delicious pop of Espresso, Barberry, Hazlenut and Coconut. This combination of natural and organic ingredients provides a vast array of health benefits, from adding plant-based protein, to providing a new method of incorporating your daily vitamins and minerals. They also contain omega-3-fatty-acids, and we can confirm that the Espresso bar proved popular on a Monday morning! The Nu Company endeavour to push environmental awareness further - their bars are wrapped in home-compostable foil and are encased in recyclable cardboard boxes, ensuring their packaging is plastic free. What more could you ask from a chocolatey snack? To try a Nu+cao bar for yourself, purchase from a wholesaler (The Health Store, Tree of Life or CLF) or click here to order a 40g bar for £2.79.

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For a non-chocolate based sweet treat, we came across Abakus, founded by Helen Wang, who wanted to introduce the lesser know Jujube Fruit into the UK market. If you're unsure of what Jujube is, then you're not alone - perhaps it is fair to insinuate it as the forgotten member of the date family! That said, we didn't know what we were missing, and the naturally sweet and caramel like flavour has encouraged us to become more adventurous with our snacking.

Jujube has a host of health benefits, it is packed with nutrients and essential amino acids, and is a known adaptogen (proven to help the body adapt to stress). We tried three different variations of Jujube fruit, the first being the original Red Dates. Pitted and dried, they work well as a snack on their own, but we also found them equally delicious when added to our favourite brownie recipes - not so healthy but they say it’s all about balance! They have a chewy texture, and like all of the products in the Abakus range, are gluten and dairy free, and count as one of your five a day. Secondly, we tried the Crunchy Crisps, which, as the name suggests, are sliced into smaller pieces, giving them a crunchy yet chewy texture. These proved delicious when sprinkled over porridge, adding a bit of texture to our regular oats.

Finally, we also tried the Red Dates Stuffed with Almonds, perfect for a post-workout snack thanks to the additional energy and healthy fats of almonds. As with the other variations, these Jujube pieces are vegan, paleo, sugar and sulphate free, making them an excellent snack for anyone with a sweet tooth. To try Jujube Fruit for yourself, visit the Abakus website (here), where you can purchase a range of different multipacks from £13.00.

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Thirdly we came across Elements for Life, a brand founded by husband and wife, Dan and Paula Knowlson. After embarking on a health, nutrition and diet journey, through which they discovered raw chocolate, Paula suggested making their own, and the rest is history! What has emerged is a company that is committed to creating products suitable for a wide range of people, with products suitable for vegans, diabetics and coeliacs, as well as those with lactose intolerances. This popularity is proven through the recent celebration of their 8th birthday, and so we couldn’t wait to try their offerings.

We tried their Yummy Scrummy Raw Chocolate Brownie, a delectable and rich product made with Criollo raw cacao, dates, walnuts, raisins, goji berries, brazil nuts and fruit extracts. These ingredients not only taste scrumptious, but they are free from refined sugar, dairy, gluten and soya, meaning we can indulge in a chocolately afternoon treat without feeling too guilty. We found that the use of goji berries provides a welcome pop of flavour to lift the rich nature of cacao, and it’s safe to say that these brownies didn’t last long in the office. To try a Yummy Scrummy Raw Chocolate Brownie for £2.79 per bar, click here

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If you’re more of a pudding lover, then Pudology may well be the brand for you. Founder Lucy Wager took to the kitchen after realising there were few puddings suitable for her dairy and egg intolerance. This emerged a brand that is vegan, suitable for coeliacs and free from gluten and wheat. The real winner here is the creamy and decedant consistency of the puddings, often expected to be lacking in vegan desserts.

Pudology offer a range of seven puddings, we tried their Bannoffee Puds previously, and were excited to try the newly launched ‘Skinny’ versions: Skinny Chocolate and Raspberry Puds and Skinny Lemon and Yuzu Puds, which contain under 60 calories. The Skinny Chocolate and Raspberry Puds contain coconut cream, dark chocolate and raspberry compote, which together give a hit of intense chocolate while remaining light with the zing of fruit - a classic flavour combination that is most certainly a winner here. What’s better, is that despite the creamy texture, the calorific content is much lower than other chocolate puddings. The Lemon and Yuzu Puds were lighter and fruitier, ideal for people with less of a love for chocolate. That said, they proved equally popular with the biggest chocolate fiends at The Amazing Blog. We loved the use of yuzu, which adds a grapefruit like zing without an overly tangy aftertaste, and again were pleased to discover the low calorie content. To purchase two Chocolate Orange Puds for £2.25, click here, or for the Lemon and Yuzu Puds for £2.25 click here.

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Last, but not least, we were fortunate to try Nibble Protein Bites once again. Founder Erin Moroney formulated a range of high protein snacks after discovering a distinct lack of low sugar snacks on the market. We tried Nibble Protein’s offerings last year (see here), and as avid runners at The Amazing Blog, we were keen to find more protein snacks that do not contain counterproductive added sugars. All ingredients in Nibble Protein Bites are dairy, gluten and soy free, instead favouring pea protein and dried plum purée for natural fibre and antioxidants.

Firstly we tried the classic flavour combo of Choc Orange Brownie, made with dark chocolate chips and packed with natural orange flavouring. These scrumptious nibbles contain coconut nectar and gluten-free oats, providing a low GI and fibre simultaneously. They were certainly a welcome treat to power us through our to-do lists. Equally delicious, the Choc Walnut Brownie was a hit with the nut lovers of the office. We particularly enjoyed the pop of vanilla and found this flavour a perfect mid-morning snack to accompany a coffee (or two!) Finally, we tried the Mint Choc Brownie flavour which was subsequently our favourite. Made with cacao nibs and enriched with peppermint oil, we found it hard to believe that these decadant packets could be regarded as ‘healthy’.

To add some scrumptious protein into your diet, visit the Nibble Protein Bites website where you can purchase a 12 pack of your favourite flavour for £16.00

As you can see, swapping to healthier snacks doesn’t always call for bland and boring choices. We hope to have opened your eyes to a new way of adding sweetness to your diet, we are certainly loving it!