Health

Elements For Life - Hot Chocolate

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Are we all still desperately trying to cling to our New Year’s resolutions to go dry/ give up meat/ drag out the spandex and work each of our muscle groups, and supposedly therefore be a better person? Well, here at The Amazing Blog we may be able to offer you a glimmer of indulgence to ease up some of those more draconian ways to detox, all in the form of a chocolate … We know, chocolate is the root of many a slip up in the new regime schedule. However, there is a tin of gloriously burnished powder which should have a polished halo perched above its silver lid to signify its credentials. We are talking about one of our #amazingfinds Elements For Life – see our recent posts on their other products here.

Yes, we may be talking hot chocolate, but Elements For Life have created one is richly smooth, and sweet. This hot chocolate doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners, GMOs or soya, the sweetness is derived from the sugar from coconut blossom, the evaporated nectar of the coconut tree, adding sustainability and diabetically friendly to the worthiness (because of its very low average glycemic index) As if that wasn’t enough, the Elements For Life team have made it suitable for those who may be lactose intolerant, and vegan by keeping this wonder-drink completely dairy-free and containing no milk solids.

We tried the Original and Spiced versions. The Spiced is warmed up by the addition of the winter spices cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. All we need now is the toasty log cabin with open fire and we have nirvana. However, we aren’t tied to the usual hot chocolate with this blend, as there is also the option of adding some ice and blitzing away to produce a very refreshing tipple. The benefits of raw chocolate, in both health and taste have been known for a while - it stands to reason that a natural product which hasn’t been put through the usual manufacturing processes will inevitably retain more of it’s core nutrients, and therefore with many of us now having to take a serious look at the minutiae of what we eat, a raw chocolate such as this makes clear sense.

And to keep that halo gleaming brightly, the whole team behind the Raw Hot Chocolate brand are keen to show they believe the sustainability of a product in this day and age has to address the issues beyond the contents of our mug. All ingredients used in their range are sourced for their high ecological standards and are agro-chemical/pesticide free from small-scale growers and farming co-operatives to ensure fair trading. The packaging is also made from recycled material or re-used from other sources, including their boxes and printed material. Small wonder then that with such highly prized credentials, Elements For Life have walked away with award upon award for what they offer us in this market place - and most specifically these two tins of delicious warmth! Priced at £6.99 for 175g all available from their online shop here they also offer refills priced at £4.99. And now, back to that log cabin and open fire to keep warm!

Top Herd's Snacks

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Oh yes, groan, it’s that time of year again: ‘New Year, new you, new us’ - prepare to be flooded with gym membership teasers that promise the powers of a total detox, ond a general shedding of the skin belonging to 2018. At this time of year, we at The Amazing Blog are being bombarded with messages to look more closely at what we’re putting into our bodies - which is where the range from Top Herd comes into it’s own.

With Top Herd’s delicious Jerky selection in six flavours (four beef and two turkey) and their two salami flavours to choose from, they give the taste buds something of a workout to decide which to go for. The beauty of these tasty treats is that they are packed full of protein and are therefore brilliant at helping us to boost our energy levels, and fulfil our new year resolutions, whether they be at the gym, the office, or indeed at home. The stand out offering for us amongst the jerky offerings is their Smokey BBQ Grass Fed Beef Jerky, with only 91 calories per packet, it will certainly help to shape that waistline in the right direction. All natural ingredients, gluten-free and without a nitrate in sight. The journey that all their products undertake, is of paramount importance to the Top Herd Team - all meat is responsibly sourced to ensure the animals destined for our snack box have been grass fed, having enjoyed a carefree life, roaming at their leisure and taking good exercise out in the open air. No nasty chemicals are allowed to enter this chain, keeping each ingredient as unadulterated as possible.

The lean salami comes in two flavours - ‘Tomato’ and ‘Mild Chilli’ with 5.7% and 6.1% fat respectively. In our tastings, the ingredients each came through, without being overpowering - especially the chilli options which can sometimes be hit or miss in some snacks. Of course the really interesting test came in whether these yummy morsels actually staved off the hunger pangs - we can report that they did, adding an extra boost of gusto to our step which wasn’t entirely down to the feeling of self-righteousness!

In a world where we are increasingly being lectured on the rights and wrongs of what we keep in our larders, it makes a refreshing change to come across a brand who are fearlessly pushing their products forward, and encouraging us to eat well, and play well. The message from Top Herd is to lay a foundation of good nutrition and well being, and then get out into the fresh air and explore all manner of adventures. It’s the perfect premise for the beginning of a new year, and possibly a new and fulfilling direction for those of us willing to taste something new. Individual pouches of jerky will set you back between £1.59 and £2, but you will also find the Adventure box of Jerky’ bundle priced at £12, and the ‘Go Wild Snack Box’ at £14. These are all available from the Top Herd website here. Happy snacking!

Rawbiotics

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Day-to-day life can be stressful, besides managing core tasks and balancing a social life, we have to make a conscious effort to boost our nutrition. This is something that we’re not always brilliant at here at The Amazing Blog, so to help along, we were recommended to try Rawbiotics’ Liquid Probiotics.

Daily shots of these friendly bacteria-based probiotics work for your health, providing you with a balanced start in the day, and delivering you your daily dose of life in the easiest way possible. This 100% vegan, raw, all natural and gluten free liquid is contained in entirely recyclable PET plastic bottles. This proves the company doesn’t only care about your body being in balance, but also about sustainability and their impact on the environment. We like that they are 100% raw and natural, dairy, lactose, gluten, GMO, egg, milk and soya free. Rawbiotics also have 14 live cultures – more than any other brand!

The bacteria used are in a live liquid form, meaning they do not need to be freeze-dried in order to survive. This makes them a natural, raw and effective form of probiotic. With 14 strains contained in each bottle, Rawbiotics’ Live Prebiotics are one of the most effective liquid probiotics on the market today. Using the modern method of non-freeze drying has the benefit of ensuring that the products can be kept for up to two years, and can be stored at room temperature, as opposed to in a fridge. Additionally, once opened, they can last for up to 60 days. Delivered in two separate bottles, Rawbiotics Gut and Rawbiotics Daily both contain the same 14 strains of bacteria. What makes them different? The herbs are mixed with these bacteria strains. Both defeat the symptoms of numerous illnesses, such as diarrhoea, hay fever and bloating, as well as supporting your immune system and general wellbeing.

The main function of Rawbiotics Gut is to balance the function of your gastro-intestinal tract. It addresses diverse causes of digestive issues and restores a long-term healthy balance. Each herbal extract has its own effects on your body. Using lemon balm, peppermint, rose hip and slippery elm, this particular probiotic doesn’t only improve your digestive health, but also has positive effects on anxiety and insomnia, as it increases the levels of GABA in your brain (which controls the fear or anxiety experienced when neurons are overexcited). In addition to that, it tempers symptoms of cold and flu and supports healthy weight loss. We also tried Rawbiotics Daily Balance which aims to create, as it says, an improved balance within your whole body. Simply said, it restores natural beneficial bacteria that are needed for an optimal digestive and immune function. Herbs such as astragalus, olive leaf and rose improve your general energy and overall health, while boosting your immune system and strengthening your bones and heart. This probiotic also helps to kill infections, and can relieve both anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

With numerous excited and thrilled customers reporting their own positive experiences, we found that we had more energy, were able to maintain a healthy weight more easily and had an improved mental state. This is a revolution that we are glad we haven’t missed out on! To join yourself, then you can purchase Rawbiotic’s Probiotics here for £29.95 (per 1 litre).

Fitty London's Paleo Box

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Stereotypical it may be, but we're making a conscious health effort this January. After an extended period of overindulging at The Amazing Blog, we're actively trying to get ourselves back on track to a healthier lifestyle. Through these trepidations, we discovered Fitty London, a brand bringing performance-enhancing products to our doorsteps, with boxes full of nutritional and affordable goodies. This is something we can certainly get behind!

Fitty London's premise is simple, to bring proper nutrition, with specific foods, drinks and workout products. We're not always hot on this, and when we do endeavour to make a better effort, we admit that it is often difficult to find products that are truly good for us. So many promise the world, but instead do the opposite, with a variety of hidden sugars and ingredients that are best avoided. We were therefore pleased to discover that Fitty London's products are all sourced by specialised nutritionists, allowing us to be secure in the knowledge that we're not being sold another hyped and overpromised subscription box.

We tried the newly launched Paleo Box, as we were keen to learn more about the paleo diet and lifestyle. Despite being trusted by millions of people, we were admittedly unaware of the vast amount of health benefits this lifestyle can promote. Although we may not be full paleo converts, we were pleased to try Fitty London's selection of products, our first steps in a healthier direction. This box contains eight specially selected brands and is worth around £60, making it an economical way of trying a multitude of paleo products. We enjoyed the Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee as a morning pick me up, providing a fruity drink that packs a superfood punch! For a mid-morning snack, we have been reaching for the Blue Dinosaur Paleo Bar. The Banana Bread flavour has a cinnamon kick, reminiscent of the past festivities, without the calorific indulgences! For those with a more savoury tooth, the Raw World Company Biltong has proven to be popular. We were intrigued by the crackling black pepper flavour, adding a bit of kick to the 100% grass-fed and dried beef.

Aside from snacking, this Paleo Box also contains the Bare Biology Lionheart Omega 3s supplement and the Symprove probiotic. The Lionheart capsules have helped to boost the appearance of our congested complexions, and the Symprove probiotic has helped to up our gut health, after let's face it, a month of rich foods. Finally, the box also contains a few products to help with your day to day cooking, the Happy Butter Ghee has become a firm cooking oil favourite, and the Cocofina Coconut Aminos has replaced the usual salty soy sauce in our stir-frys. For our New Year salads, we've also been loving the Willy's Apple Cider Vinegar - it's great as a dressing.

So there you have it, we're feeling much healthier and happier, and although we can't completely put it down to Fitty London's Paleo Box, it certainly makes a change to swap our sweet snacks with nutritional ones! To purchase a Paleo Box for £32, visit the Fitty London website here.

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!