Summer

Nonsuch Shrubs

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Drinking vinegars are now a top trending topic at The Amazing Blog, I hear you say ‘drinking vinegar, seriously?’ It was not until we received Nonsuch Shrubs that we understood how delicious they could be. Nonsuch Shrubs was founded by Henry Chevallier Guild, the cider entrepreneur (Aspall Cyder), all with the aim to challenge the alcoholic beverage industry. It all started when he noticed that there were very few alcohol-free alternatives on a dry night out.

Nonsuch Shrubs have take their inspiration from ancient Babylonian techniques, creating their sweet and sharp cordial drinks with cyder vinegar and sparkling water. Much as drinking cider vinegar is a hot topic now, adding water to vinegar actually started in ancient times in order to make water to safer to drink. The founder Henry was quoted in an interview “I wanted something that behaved like alcohol, without getting me drunk.” Interestingly, the word ‘shrubs’ is derived from the Arabic work ‘Sharbah’ which means ‘a drink’. Nonsuch shrubs, a.k.a. Nonsuch drinks, are a drinking alternative that behave like alcoholic drinks due to the precise balance of the ingredients. Mainly composed by raw fruits, herbs and apple cider vinegar. Thus out of an ancient formula, a modern elixir was born.

We tasted two out of their four different varieties. They both paired extremely well with food, and we were very impressed with the zesty flavours with their infusions of fruit, herbs and apple cider vinegar. Their Peach & Basil Shrub is an ideal drink to partner with fresh snacks like hummus, almonds, and summery salads such as tomato and mozzarella; pear, walnut and gorgonzola; and more. With a golden straw colour, the vinegar boosts the flavour of the basil and the peach. The Sour Cherry & Garden Mint has a dark red cherry colour and the combination of flavours will transport you to the Middle East. Its blend of cherry, mint and apple, give you a tang of acidity and sourness that is enhanced with the hint of vinegar and contrasted with the minty aroma. We think it works perfectly with lamb or vegetable tagine as well as cucumber salads, fish and artichokes.

Nonsuch shrubs are not only good to the taste buds with their unique harmony of savoury, sweet and sour experience. Quickly added, the beautiful designed packaging make it even more appealing too. Try one of these sparkling, rich in vitamin C, with no added sugars getting your 250ml bottle here for £3.29 and let your mouth experience a burst of flavours. These are a MUST-try!

Friday Favourites - Summer Cookbooks

 

Today The Amazing Blog wants to share with you some of our #amazingfinds with four new cookbooks that have encouraged us to create some fantastic international dishes for our friends. Our gastronomic journey starts with India moves onto to Morocco and then the Philippines and returns back to the UK just in time to put the BBQ on!

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Let’s kicked off by something of a whirlwind of inspiration in the culinary prowess of Asma Khan, who moved to the UK in 1991 from Calcutta without any knowledge of how to cook, but a firm belief in the power of food to bring people together, and the opportunities created through this to forge new friendships, learning of different cultures and traditions along the way. Although it was British constitutional law which focused her attentions to begin with, having finished her doctorate in 2012, she turned her entrepreneurial talents towards the kitchen, and has been gaining awards and garnering attention ever since. As a descendant of the ancient Rajput Suryavanshi Bargujar clan on her paternal side, and pioneering tea planters in Darjeeling from her maternal ancestry, Asma’s heritage is undisputed, and her book ‘Asma’s Indian Kitchen’ is a delicious romp through India’s rich history, and culinary voyage. “Your food should feel like an embrace” she tells us, and such warmth emanates from the pages. Beautifully photographed and with anecdotes peppered throughout, her book really is a delight to enjoy in and out of the kitchen! Her Shahi Kofta - or lamb meatballs in a rich gravy - are a sensation, as are her stuffed bell peppers - or Bharwa Simla Mirch to use the correct terminology … useful to know, especially if you fancy trying out her award-winning restaurant Darjeeling Express in Soho. Published by Pavilion Books for £14.99  and available here .

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If Morocco is more your thing, then Nargisse Benkabbou is offering up “Casablanca - My Moroccan Food” to encourage us to whip out that tagine, and start making magic with the amazing flavours of her culture, but often with a mix of Western dishes too. Again, here we don’t just have a culinary manual to enjoy, but rather more an introduction to how these foods fit within the gloriously colourful culture and traditions. Nargisse began sharing her feasting knowledge originally through a highly successful blog, ‘My Moroccan Food’, and this book is the natural result of those posts. If you are partial to a spot of marinating - and who of us aren’t - then try the Sweet Chermoula Seared Beef, which promises a ‘flavour bomb’, and we love the idea of a dish taking us to far-flung places with the aromas of Casablanca which are promised in the Amlou Rolls.So many temptations to try, and written with a warmth and friendliness utterly reminiscent of Morocco herself. Octopus Books have brought us this one, priced at £20 and available here 

 

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Perhaps the Philippines as a gastronomic destination gets your taste buds going? The New Filipino Kitchen is another huge spectrum of different tastes and flavours from the myriad of islands with so much to explore, and brought to us digitally thanks to Jacqueline Chio-Lauri who has edited a collection of fascinating stories, giving extra meaning to each recipe from a wide ranging assortment of cuisine masters - and all for us to try from the comfort of our laptop. Describing the chapters under the heading of simply ‘seafood’, ‘meat’ or ‘desserts’ feels a little like short-changing this extensive jaunt around those 7000 or so islands which make up such a vibrant nation. However, the ‘New Filipino Kitchen’ is a serious contender for our attention if culinary escapism is your thing. Quite unique with the information it relays, this book could send us into a frenzy - imagine if you will ‘Stuffed Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves and Eggplant Salad with Toasted Pancetta’, or to translate that properly and pay due homage, ‘Inihaw Na Isda At Ensaladang Talong’ … Well Imagine it no longer, simply turn to page 36, and enter Tasting Heaven! Both digital and hard copies are available on Amazon here from £15.18

 

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Now, it would seem churlish not to include a cookbook with origins a little closer to home, and of course there is an enormous library of titles to choose from, but one which stands out with an irresistible edge is the “Fresh Veggie BBQ” by David & Charlotte Bailey,encouraging us to embrace the outdoor option of serving up a meal from a vegetarian friendly barbecue menu. Completely eschewing any notion that vegetarian food has to be less colourful or indeed tasty, David and Charlotte give us 60 recipe options like ‘Caramelized Bananas with Vanilla Ice Cream’, ‘Rosemary Sweet Potato Chips’ or - and this one is seriously tempting ‘Wild Mushroom & Artichoke One-Pot Pie’ to dispel those myths completely. However, this time of course our kitchen is found in the great outdoors through the tradition that is ‘barbecue’ which of course is a culture within itself. With advice on the different options open to us, from using dutch ovens to the very impressive discipline of burying our ingredients in hot ash and embers - otherwise known as ‘rescoldo’, we have an encyclopaedia of vegetarian goodies to try out -and with the weather back here at home offering us it’s most favourable conditions (Ok well that was in July perhaps not August!) We can’t be the only ones twitching to get those charcoals burning! Published by Pavilion Books with an RRP of £14.99 here the ‘Fresh Veggie BBQ’ is a must.

…And with all these delicious ideas, we’re preparing to cook up a storm this Bank Holiday weekend!

Urban Cordial

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As the temperature rises, our taste buds are craving something refreshing to cool us down, and the array of choice in the soft drinks sector is greater than ever before. However, with our awareness primed these days to know exactly what we are drinking, the challenge now is to source the perfect taste, but without all those sugary additives which are going to send our glucose levels rocketing. Fortunately, we at  The Amazing Blog only have to look as far as  Urban Cordial who have brought their delicious concoctions to market with a mouth-watering array of pairings. How do Strawberry & Sage , Pear & Ginger, Blackberry & Lavender or Apple, Lemon & Fennel  sound as an introduction to the range? Pretty impressive, when further investigation revealed that these tantalising flavours are just the tip of the iceberg - or should that be ice cube?

Now, a cordial may conjure up images of Grandma’s pantry, but these colourful offerings pack quite a punch in the zing department - both in each bottle’s contents, and also outside on each brightly illustrated label. All of course are alcohol free, and made from the best ingredients, although Urban Cordial are justly proud of bringing these to us with a laudable mission of sourcing their fruit on quality of taste and nutrients, rather than how they may be shaped! In a bid to incorporate a solution to the serious global problem of food surplus, Urban Cordial do not discriminate on appearance and is to be congratulated on saving over 30 tonnes of fruit from landfill.

Each bottle costs £5.50 plus £4.99 p&p, and the complete range is available for the bargain bulk price of £44.00 and with p&p free on orders over £40 here everyone’s a winner! However, some small independent grocery stores and also one or two of the larger high street names are taking up the option to supply, so getting our hands on these wonderful libations, is thankfully, becoming easier for all of us.

Zuii Organic – Certified Organic Flora Gradual Tan Body Lotion and Self Tanning Foam

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In the summer, at The Amazing Blog we not only like to sport a healthy tan that looks like we’ve just returned from some exotic clime, but we also don’t want to spend hours roasting in the sun risking getting skin cancer! We’re big fans of self tan products particularly if they are certified organic. Enter the 2019 Beauty Shortlist award winning Australian brand Zuii Organic’s  with their Certified Organic Flora Gradual Tan Body Lotion and Self Tanning Foam (in both Dark and Medium). Both products offer a great way to get a sunless tan, plus their organic ingredients give you a fabulous golden and glowing skin.

The Australian brand was founded in the 90s by beautician Rose Bessey, who wanted to create “organic products that have you looking incredible, while your skin benefits from wearing them”. This mission led her to create products that are all vegan and cruelty-free and have certified organic ingredients. The company’s tagline ‘wear flowers on your face’ stems from Zuii Organic using real flowers like roses, sunflowers, and jasmine in its products, which have lots of skin benefits and of course smell delicious.

The first product we tried was the Gradual Tan Body Lotion. Infused with organic bamboo juice, raw cacao, shea butter, and sunflower oil; the lotion hydrates and softens the skin so much so that you can use it alone as a body moisturiser. However, be advised that it does not contain sunscreen if you go out during the day. These nourishing ingredients leave your skin glowy while the product creates a gradual tan on your skin. We were very impressed with the colour that it gave, as it was extremely natural looking and is customisable by you. After using the product 1-2 times per day (morning and evening in our case) the gradual colour begins to emerge on your skin, and what we liked was that you can build the product up, until you achieve your desired tan. Have no fear, this lotion will not leave your bed sheets an ugly colour the next day and has a light citrus scent. Also it was long lasting and faded evenly.

The second product we tried was the Certified Organic FloraSelf Tanning Foam which they very kindly sent us both their Dark and Medium versions, but it also comes in four shades: Light, Medium, Dark and Ultra Dark. Having had basal carcinomas, I’m a regular all year around self-tanner, so my choice was the Dark version. I was impressed with the ease of application and performance.. I am extremely fussy about my tanning products and this truly gave me just the darker sun-kissed colour that I like! Unlike the lotion, this foam has a colour guide, so as you apply you have an instant tan that when dry will last for a week or more. The unique foam texture is lightweight and dries quickly. However, make sure you apply this product on evenly with a mitt to avoid streaks. The formula has bamboo juice, raw cacao, and grape skin, and doesn’t leave you feeling sticky. With its smooth application and rich colour, we can see why it is a winner achieving awards from Pure Beauty Global Awards Finalist too. It is perfect for achieving an optimal tan, with minimal effort. Exfoliate your skin before applying the lotion or foam. You can purchase the Gradual Tan Body Lotion (250ml) here for £31.50 and Self Tanning Foam (200ml) here for £36. Certainly one of my #amazingfinds for this summer and I can’t wait to try more from Zuii Organics

Love Sun Body - SPF 50 Fragrance Free

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With the UK experiencing its hotter and hotter summers apply a high SPF is an essential part our daily routine, not only our faces but also our bodies. From recycling to using reusable straws, we can change little things in our day-to-day lives for the better, including changing what sunscreen we use. According to the Environmental Working Group,  the chemical-filler oxybenzone which is widely found in non-mineral sunscreens can cause bleaching and deformation to the ocean’s reefs. With that in mind, many began talking about the need for reef-safe SPF, including the state of Hawaii who recently banned any sunscreen that is not deemed safe for the ocean. Once we heard this, at The Amazing Blog we started the hunt for a summer sunscreen that is free from these harmful chemicals. When we read all the rave reviews about Love Sun Body’s range of natural mineral sunscreens, we knew that we had to try.

The founder is Dr. Terry Zickerman is a former banker who returned to his passion for science, biology and healthy living. Love Sun Body was born out of a conversation at the beach in Point Pleasant in New Jersey. After six years dedicated to research and formulation, this US skincare brand Love Sun Body made its debut last summer. Instead of the chemical UVA and UVB filters found in most sunscreens, Love Sun Body’s sun protectants contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to physically block out the rays instead of turning the UV into heat as chemical filters usually do. The ingredients found in their sunscreens are water-resistant and safely yet effectively protect you from the sun. Love Sun Body are also the first U.S. sunscreen brand that is internationally certified by Ecocert Cosmos Natural. While we wished we could try all of Love Sun Body’s products, they kindly sent us their SPF 50 Fragrance Free sunscreen to try. Known fact: Mineral sunscreens do not penetrate the skin – they sit on top and act as a barrier – whereas chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin. Oxybenzone, one of these chemical sunscreen ingredients, is added to 70% of non-mineral sunscreens and, in a study of 2500 Americans, the CDC found Oxybenzone in 96% of the participants bodies.

In addition to being fragrance-free, Love Sun Body’s SPF 50 sunscreen contains 100% natural ingredients that won’t irritate eyes or break out your skin. Unlike other mineral sunscreens, the SPF 50 sunscreen isn’t chalky and dries into a sheer matte finish. Inactive ingredients found in the sunscreen like almond and sunflower oils also make sure your skin stays moisturised. The sunscreen has also proven to be non-comedogenic, so no need to worry about your pores clogging or forming acne. Before taking a dip this summer, make sure to use Love Sun Body’s SPF 50 as you would any sunscreen and re-apply every 80 minutes. SPF 30 sunscreens filter out up to 97% of the sun’s UV radiation while SPF 50 sunscreens filter out up to 98%.For everyday use, we like to apply a small amount of the sunscreen over our favourite moisturiser or serum. If you want to protect both your skin and the environment, purchase a 100 ml bottle for $21 or a 200ml bottle for $32 on the Love Sun Body website here or on Amazon here.