Vegan

Esse Protect Oil

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When the weather is bitingly cold, our skin begins to suffer. Coupled with London’s pollution and the pre-Christmas fatigue, we are always searching for new ways to protect our complexions. Esse is a brand that we know and love, having previously featured their Repair Oil, here. We were therefore intrigued to try their Protect Oil The Amazing Blog, an oil that boosts skin immunity and claims to hold in moisture without leaving a thick film of oil on the skin.

Founded by Trevor Steyn in 2002, Esse is a South African skincare brand known for using prebiotics, and producing vegan and sustainable products that cater to bespoke skin types. Esse was certified organic in 2005, and they haven’t looked back since. Their Protect Oil assists the growth of beneficial microbes, providing respiratory and antiviral support to our skin, as well as much needed moisture.

Protect Oil permeates deep into the epidermis and works with your own skin cells keep your skin looking radiant. As oils go, this one is very lightweight – although as characterised by a face oil, there is a glossy finish (for want of a better word). When you squeeze it out of the pipette, you’ll find it’s incredibly fluid, making for easy use. Additionally, it generates a tangible layer of prebiotic nutrients such as ximenia American oil, tocopherol, ascorbyl palmitate, vanillin and sunflower seed oil, all of which help to feed the skin. To get the elusive ‘dewy glow’ just apply a few drops in your hands, and spread evenly over the face, neck and décolleté before moisturising. To give you a heads up, a little really does go a long way!

We definitely recommend this to our fellow city dwellers, for protection on the daily commute. That said, we would equally recommend this oil to those of you who are simply looking for a little extra moisture as the temperatures drop. Suitably convinced? You can purchase Esse’s Protect Oil here for £49.00 (15ml).

Scent Republik - Whoosh Stick

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Children can’t help it; they love running around, climbing up trees and getting themselves dirty. We certainly don't want that to change at The Amazing Blog, but a product to ensure that our children don't smell like wild ones is a concept we can’t argue with. Scent Republik's Scent Sticks for children provide us with just that - six fragrances in a stick form that is easy to handle, and fun to use.

The brand Scent Republik was created by two fathers, Kevinn Hirsch and Alex Theodorou, who wanted to offer children on the verge of puberty a non-sexualized scent. They aimed to create products that make children feel good about themselves, whatever mood they are in, or no matter the daily tasks they face. The different scents are subtle and natural, and as they are manufactured in the UK, and made from cruelty-free and vegan-friendly ingredients, the products are suitable for children even with sensitive skin. The brand offers a variety of six different sticks, each with a fantastic name that underlines the children’s mood: Chill, BFF, Fab, Yay, Zap and Whoosh.

We were sent the Whoosh Scent, a blend of raspberry, strawberry and cassis. Like with all of the range, the packaging is travel-friendly, and the stick can be used up to 1000 times. These fragrances are the perfect cross-over from overly sweet child-like perfumes to adult fragrances, which are pricier and let’s face it, not suitable for children. Little ones can use the Scent Republik sticks as a type of invisible marker, and will be greeted with a non-sticky, and fresh formula. This dries quickly, so it can be applied in an instant - the least time chasing children around with products, the better!

Try these lovely scents here, perhaps as a gift for a loved one - we think they’d be great stocking fillers. Each stick is priced at £4.95.

Foamie Men

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We offer up to you, our Amazing Blog readers, the incredible Foamie - the latest accessory that simply HAS to be tried. This brand ensures that you are getting absolutely every last drop of indulgence from your daily shower routine. Like the best of us, it has hidden qualities which may not be immediately apparent on first glance - certainly us boys may simply look at this as just another sponge - and that would be a huge mistake, for it is what is on the inside that counts … and how many times have we heard that?

The genius of Foamie lies in the fact that the cleansing cream foam is contained within the sponge itself, and as you apply the water liberally, the deliciously scented magic is released. So no need to take any other paraphernalia under that showerhead - all the prep is done for you. The only necessity is to liberally apply water, and then the Foamie Men begins it’s 4 in 1 lathersome repartee: the sponge exfoliates and massages, whilst the soap nourishes and cleanses. We can also expect an extra dose of manliness into the mix, which can’t be a bad way to start the day … or evening!

Now, here’s the science bit, and yes they have covered every aspect of user-friendliness too … the Foamie chaps are nothing if not consistent - there are no parabens, silicones, sulphates, mineral oils or lily aldehydes to spoil the party. Of course, going the extra mile, this amazing product is 100% vegan and has not been tested on animals. It is suitable for all skin types and pH adjusted to maintain the skin’s protective layer.

And yes of course, the whole caboodle is patented, so let’s just celebrate this German ingenuity and their generosity in sharing it with us, whilst we joyously ablute. So ‘where’s the catch?’ we can hear you cry - well even the price is modestly placed at £7.99, and Foamie is widely available through supermarkets, chemists and of course on the Foamie website.

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!

Mount Olympus - Lemon Goat's Kefir + Mojito Water Kefir

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We’ve found searching for an alternative to traditional cow's milk kefir somewhat difficult, and the ever saturated kefir market is a minefield for both new and old kefir drinkers. Add to that the plethora of other healthy drinks, and you're probably equally as confused as us, at The Amazing Blog. Personally, I’m a goats milk drinker; therefore I was very happy to discover that Mount Olympus, a brand that prides itself on produces a range of different kefirs, also include a goats milk one! They kindly sent us two of their signature products, the Lemon Goat's Kefir and also a Vegan Water Kefir.

Conceived on the slopes of Mount Olympus (hence the name) by Greek founder Kostas Kapelas, whose background is as a holistic health therapist. Kostas' ethos is to work with small-scale and family-based Greek manufacturers, to produce the finest organic, natural and sustainable kefirs. Mount Olympus is against artificial stimulating hormones and antibiotics or any other additives. Additionally, while many kefir products on the market contain non-vegan ingredients, Mount Olympus provides kefir waters for the vegan consumer too, so here there is something for everyone.

If you’re not sure what kefir is, then you're probably not alone. Kefir is formed from lactic acid bacteria and yeast which is fermented (more commonly in milk), to provide a consistency similar to thin yoghurt. Milk based kefir is rich in fatty acids and has lower lactose levels than traditional cow's milk, making it easier to digest for our lactose intolerant friends. Typically, kefir of the dairy variety is made from cow, sheep, and goat's milk. It has been proven that goat's milk is easier to digest, and makes a smoother curd when fermented. So what is the added bonus? Drinking kefir restores microbiomes, which know to help heal troublesome skin conditions, such as eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.

We tried the Lemon Goat's Kefir which is delicious with its zingy flavour with a light citrus twist. We particularly like that the 100% natural ingredients come from local producers and suppliers and that this kefir contains Greek free-roaming goat's milk, kefir cultures, frozen lemon juice, stevia with inulin (a prebiotic). Many argue that this beverage is better for you than yoghurt, as goat's kefir contains live probiotics, billions of active bacteria, and is 100% preservative-free. We recommend keeping it refrigerated, as kefir is best enjoyed when chilled. Ensure that you shake it well before opening, to enjoy the full benefits of this healthy and tasty drink. For stockists of Mount Olympus’ Lemon Goats Kefir 300ml in the UK visit here.

Alternatively, as some members of our team are dairy intolerant, the Mojito Water Kefir 310ml proves to be a great alternative. As Mount Olympus explains, there are two kinds of kefir, water and milk. Water kefir is made from ‘good’ bacteria and as the name suggests, it’s fermented in water. We tried the ‘Mojito’ flavour, made from filtered water, sugar, frozen lemon juice, spearmint, mint & lime aroma, and vegan kefir cultures. It’s a refreshing taste with all the added benefits of 29 strains of live probiotics and billions of active bacteria, all critical for a healthy gut. It is also low in calories, 100% preservative-free, and contains 100% natural ingredients. Other beneficial ingredients include a wide range of organic acids, lactobacillus bacteria, vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants. The ‘Mojito’ Water Kefir has a natural fizz, making it a fun non alcoholic drink to sip on. As with the Lemon Goat's Kefir, the ‘Mojito’ Water Kefir is best served chilled, for optimum probiotic power. For stockists of Mount Olympus’ ‘Mojito’ Water Kefir 310ml in the UK visit here.