Amazing finds

Alchemy Organic Super Blends

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Brace yourselves, boys and girls for a stunning range of goodies that The Amazing Blog are offer up to you this week for your delectation in the form of The Alchemy Organic Super Blends - unmissable in their brightly designed packaging as we peruse the shelves of Planet Organic or Wholefoods, and bursting with  essential nutrients to help boost our health from the inside out.

The thinking behind this fabulous brand is not so much about adding supplements to your daily calorie intake, but more with working naturopathically with your body, and understanding the ways in which we process the nutrients we need and those which, in the modern world we should be looking to reduce. The philosophy here is very much more along the lines of boosting the good, and reducing the not so beneficial. Take stevia as an example - many see it as a worthwhile wholly natural alternative to the dreaded sugar, however Alchemy make the very valid point that the foods we eat, taken in their original state should ultimately satisfy our taste buds without the need to sweeten things up at all, because it is those highs and lows which make us crave the mid-morning or afternoon snacks and jolt our systems into nourishing said cravings, rather than allowing our metabolism to control the natural balance, individual to each of us.

As we have evolved, nature has done a spectacular job of keeping our systems responsive to the environment around us, but this was more along the lines of ‘fight or flight’ when our physical survival depended on our bodies converting the calorific intake into ready energy as and when the adrenalin kicked in, warning us of danger. Of course, in most of our daily lives now, the threat of coming across an aggressor is significantly reduced we hope. However, something is making those cortisol levels to rise and thereby increasing our blood sugar levels … and of course many of us unfortunately know the modern-day aggressor to be that insidious invader known as stress. We cannot defeat it by simply taking it head on in conflict, or fleeing from it and thereby burning off those heightened sugar levels, so we have to accept its presence and work around the challenges it brings.

Fortunately for us, we have these delicious sachets from Alchemy Super Blends to arm ourselves with as we go into battle to sustain our equilibrium. There are four blends to choose from: Morning Elixir , Energy Elixir ,  Beauty Elixir and Sport Elixir - we are literally Elixir rich in our choice! The option which made most impact here at The Amazing Blog was the Energy Elixir, but it was a tightly run race, as everyone had their individual favourites, however, we all could agree that the extra boost that the Energy Super Blend gave each of us, was undeniably effective. Available in handy Voyager Packs which contain four servings priced around £15, or the more cost effective 300g packs giving us 30 servings and priced around £40, they have a range which will fit seamlessly into anyone’s daily routine. Get your skates on though, and head to their shop here to enjoy some sale reductions of up to 50% in some cases of the Voyager packs and begin the process of that well-being reboot now!

 

Friday Favourites – Indie and craft London Dry Gins

Doing a quick poll around the office, we found that the most popular summer alcoholic refreshment here is the classic ice cold and zest gin and tonic. An ideal accompaniment to sitting out on the terrace on a warm and balmy evening. This week at The Amazing Blog we would like to share with you three of our exception #amazingfinds all centred around international indie and craft London Dry Gin brands. The first thing to note is that a London Dry Gin doesn’t have to be made in England. Instead, London Dry (also known as London Gin) refers to that which is made under a series of mind-bogglingly complex EU regulations that were put in place in February 2008. (definition quoted from Ginfoundry.com  )

Something else that you might not know, is that although gin has become somewhat of a British staple, its origins are actually from 17th century Holland, where it was originally used for medicinal purposes. During this period, British soldiers fought alongside the Dutch in the Thirty Year’s War, where they would imbibe in a glass or three of gin before battle, to help them acquire ‘Dutch courage’ - a popular phrase that stills carries through today.

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We’re going to start by going ‘down under’ to the wine region of the Yara Valley, with the Australian brand Four Pillars and their collaboration with Swedish brand Hernö creating their Dry Island Gin . This all started in October 2017 when Swedish Hernö ‘s founder Jon Hilgren visited founder Cam Mackenzie at his Four Pillars distillery. Hernö came to market first in 2012, exactly one year before Four Pillars, and by 2014, they were both appearing on global lists of the ‘new gins to watch’.  The collaboration began by both of them tasting each other’s range of gins, gaining inspiration and then together creating this rather special 42.8% vol Dry Island Gin.

This Aussie x Swedish collaboration includes particular botanicals given to native Australia such as river mint, roasted wattle seed, strawberry gum, lemon myrtle, and meadowsweet. Although the base is made up European juniper (of course), coriander and fresh lemons. This international gin fusion is definitely one not to be missed.  We think best enjoyed as a dry martini with a lemon twist and a sprig of thyme to bring out all these beautiful citrus notes and a lovely floral cut-grass character.  Or as per their suggestion as a Dry (Island) Martini which consists of 60ml Dry Island Gin, 20ml Cocchi Americano (a quinine-laced aperitif wine) and a dash Angostura Orange Bitters. Stir the ingredients over plenty of ice until appropriately diluted (about 15 seconds of stirring). Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel, twisted to express the oils. Delicious! But be warned as we found that this cocktail really packed a potent punch!  You can purchase the 70cl of Dry Island Gin for £37.75 here .

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Next, we go to the emerald isle, for an Irish craft gin, Dublin City Gin.  Launched in 2016 by the couple Jim O'Connor and Sheila Cooney, two gin enthusiast who came up with the idea that Dublin needed a hometown gin, hence Dublin City Gin was born. Their efforts have certainly paid off with awards such as Gold ‘Super Premium’ at Global & World Gin Masters and a Gold medal as the overall Best European Craft Gin 2018 at ICSEA in Netherlands – great accolades for such a new contender.

What we love about this gin, is that it is Irish to the core, with their Irish milk spirit as the base, which helps to give it their smooth and silky finish, and the organic rhubarb grown along the Grand Canal in Dublin.  All loving prepared by hand in small batches of 600 with only a total of seven different botanicals. As they say this is their “Irish gin with a Dublin accent” In summary, they suggest pouring their gin over ice, with tonic “…all with a soft citrus ruby-red grapefruit, orange or slice of fresh ginger to make it sing!”  So popular is Dublin City Gin, that the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Dublin has even created three signature cocktails exclusive to them. Given the botanicals we decided to try this gin in a Negroni, 30ml Dublin City Gin, 30ml Campari and 30ml Vermouth Rosso. Add all ingredients together, shake well with cracked ice, strain into glass over cubed ice and garnish with a twist of orange peel. Very moreish, so much so we all just had to have another! To buy your 70cl bottle of 42 % volume Dublin City Gin for £37.95, see here .

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Back to the UK with Fatty’s Organic Gin , this is amongst only a handful of certified organic gins that are now available here in the UK. The brain child of former sports agent Phillipa ‘Fatty’ Gee, who self-funded her start-up: “I knew if I was struggling to find a certified organic gin that was uncompromising on taste, others would to.” Cleverly she saw a gap in the market and took her inspiration for her key ingredient from her native Dulwich, which means ‘meadow where dill grows.’  Organic Soil Association approved, they also believe in Fair Trade Produce for sourcing all their 100% organic ingredients. Even their bottles are sprayed with organic ink and screen printed at low temperatures in order to be kinder to the environment. It is also an award-winning gin, achieving a Gold at the Global Gin Masters 2018, and the only organic gin to achieve this.

 

Apart from the dill it also has the finest organic grain and botanicals all carefully selected from around the world. A combination that creates a full flavour and a crisp refreshing finish and noted for its herbaceousness with the dill and citrus. We found it to be the lightest of all three featured London Dry Gins on the palate. We also think that it lends itself perfectly to slightly more subtle flavoured cocktail. So, we tried their recommended Cucumber & Dill Gin Mojito: 50ml of Fatty’s Organic Gin, four lime wedges, two slices of cucumber, two springs of fresh dill and one teaspoons of sugar.  Add the Fatty’s Gin, sugar, dill and lime wedges in to glass and muddle. Dice one slice of cucumber, half fill the glass with crushed ice and diced cucumber. Stir well and top up with soda. It was bottoms up all round and we’re ashamed to say that it didn’t touch the sides! Get your 40% Volume 70cl bottle of Fatty’s Organic Gin for £45 here .

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Finally, we’d like to round off by introducing you to The Gin Dictionary. This 256 page A-Z compendium of gins is an indispensable guide for all gin drinkers. With more than 200 of entries covering everything from history, ingredients and distilling techniques to flavour notes, cocktails and the many popular varieties of gin from all around the world. All researched and penned by the award-wining gin expert David T Smith. Covering the explanation of ABV to the history and instruction of making a Zanzibar cocktail; we found it comprehensive without being overdone or pedantic. Published by Octopus books and available for £15 here .

With the current ‘gin revolution’ sweeping the world, there has never been a better time to explore craft gins and their new botanicals. We hope that these featured three London Dry Gins will give inspiration be a great starting point for you. Bottoms up!

Far Side Cold Brew Coffee

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Do you ever get the feeling that the very human need to enjoy some of our simple daily pleasures, is being slowly eroded away by reports that we shouldn’t be eating this or applying that because if it isn’t destroying the planet, then it is probably destroying us? Take the glorious indulgence of our routine grabbing of the 'first thing in the morning skinny latté with an extra shot’ - and judging by the desperation on some faces at The Amazing Blog we should perhaps make that ‘the glorious addiction…’ whichever noun applies here, the concept remains the same.

However, what if we were to tell you of a coffee company that could sweep away any feelings of guilt in one delicious and prolonged gulp, meet Far Side Coffee. For with every sip that is savoured, we are supporting an incredible initiative, engaging with members of The International Women’s Coffee Alliance which brings ‘every woman together in the coffee sector from Crop to Cup, by transforming their lives and wellbeing through strong relationships at regional and global levels’. However, maybe some background on Far Side Coffee would be appropriate here, as the company clearly shares their mission with this global movement of the empowerment women across the board. Founded by Kadie Regan just two years ago, Far Side Coffee began from a need to swig a really good brew … does that sound familiar? Some of us, simply pop in to grab a cup from our favourite barista, but Kadie went a whole other route further, brewing her libation from fresh, and distributing it locally throughout the South West of the UK. In order to expand to further markets, Kadie needed to prolong the coffee’s shelf life, but without compromising the cold brew process or adding any ‘nasties’. In 2018, the process was completed, giving a stable shelf life and no changes to the process or indeed flavour.

The results speak for themselves, and at our fingertips, we have a choice of two to enjoy - the Peruvian Cold Brew which offers up some intriguingly bold flavours and the Rwanda Cold Brew, which is an altogether more mellow journey with hints of maple nectar and a burst of lemon. However, the Peruvian probably nudges to the top of our chart for it’s darkly bold taste, with an unexpected top note of orange peel. For those who believe their coffee can only come hot in a cardboard cup, we urge you to give one of these two beauties a try. Despite their very different flavours, with each bottle containing the equivalent of 3 shots of espresso in caffeine content,.they are wonderfully refreshing (obviously drunk cold), which gives us the hit we need at whatever time of the day.

Priced at around the cost of our aforementioned latté, these goodies can be purchased in a pack of 12 for £36, or a pack of 4 for £13 from their online shop here where there is also an option to order a box of 12 containing a handy mix of origins. And in case the Taste Police are watching, they are all vegan, sugar, dairy AND gluten free, meaning a hit of the rich stuff comes without the pangs of guilt.

Bare Faced Skin – Face Revival Cream

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We know from experience how sensitive skin can be, especially on the face. This is why we were happy to discover Bare Faced Skin, a high-performance, luxury skincare brand, with a range made from organic botanical ingredients. Bare Faced Skin was created by Helen Taylor, who has sensitive skin and has suffered from eczema herself. Helen's brand statement is: "The range was designed to create skin you'll be confident in; skin you want to be seen.” At The Amazing Blog we're all about finding and inspiring self-confidence. Having a clear complexion is a magnificent start and a boost for anyone. What we love is that Bare Faced Skin do not test on animals, and that the products have no hidden ingredients. It seems we're not the only ones impressed by the brand, as Bare Faced Skin were nominated in both the Face Care (Take Off) and Bodycare (Leave On) categories at the 2018 Free From Skincare Awards. To see a full breakdown of their ingredients, click here.

We’ve found that their Balance Shea & Thistle Face Revival Cream is excellent for normal to combination skin due to the hyaluronic acid and lupine peptides it contains. Together, they help to protect, while leaving you with a bright complexion. This winner of a 2018 Beauty Shortlist Award for Editor’s Choice contains shea butter, thistle seed oil, lavender oil, blood orange peel oil, rosehip oil, sweet almond oil, pomegranate seed oil, black seed oil, and sea buckthorn. This combination results in a sweet floral fragrance, highlighted by the lavender and blood orange oils. Palmarosa essential oil is also added to balance the T-Zone. The Face Revival Cream is light on the skin and absorbs quickly to work its hydrating magic. You can purchase Bare Faced Skin’s Balance Shea & Thistle Face Revival Cream 50ml for £48.00 here.

We also had the opportunity to try Bare Faced Skin’s 15ml travel sized creams. This is a premium brand, so it’s nice to be able to try their face and body lotions in their affordable travel sizes. The big plus is that they can fit into any plastic carry-on bag. The Hydrate Sea & Macadamia Face Revival Cream is lightweight and lovely for skin that is lacking moisture and nourishment. The list of ingredients is as follows: shea butter, white poppy oil, rosehip fruit oil, black seed oil, blood orange peel oil, mandarin oil, and sea buckthorn oil.

Fantastic for refining and mattifying the complexion, the Mattify Sea & White Poppy Face Revival Cream moisturises and nourishes the skin. This face cream contains thistle, shea butter, white poppy seed oil, grapefruit peel oil, cardamom seed oil, sweet almond oil, and sea buckthorn fruit extract. The Lift Pumpkin & Borage Body Lotion contains borage oil to protect the skin from external elements, while the pumpkin seed oil soothes. It's excellent for tired-looking skin. This body lotion also contains sweet almond oil, shea butter, sea buckthorn fruit extract, thistle seed oil, and pomegranate seed oil. Enticed by the lovely ingredients? Each of these lovely travel sized creams can be purchased for £14.50 here.

O.Moi – All-In-One Multi-Purpose Balm (Fragrance Free)

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Why use several products when you could use one? O.Moi is back with their All-In-One Multi-Purpose Balm Fragrance Free. The Amazing Blog are big fans of o.Moi Skincare; in fact, we like the brand so much, that we’ve recently written about o.Moi Skincare’s Botanical Cream Deodorant here and have a few more products to come...

The All-In-One Multi-Purpose Balm Fragrance Free was launched in 2017, as a derived version of the original All-In-One Multi-Purpose Balm. It was formulated without any essential oils, and has a higher content of vitamin E, in comparison with the original balm. It is thus fragrance-free and allergy certified. As winners for two years running in the international 2017 & 2018 Beauty Shortlist Awards, this balm is perfect to heal dry, itchy and irritated skin on the face and body. What sets this natural balm apart from the others on the market, is its ability to heal psoriasis, burns and wounds and we think that this balm's qualities are second to none. It can also be used on the hair to repair, nourish, reduce, and prevent split ends. The balm doesn’t leave the hair greasy, but hydrated and soft. When o.Moi says 'multi-purpose' they truly mean it!

The All-In-One Multi-Purpose Balm Fragrance Free contains only four simple ingredients: Certified organic shea butter, coconut oil, peach kernel oil and vitamin E. NB: In the heat of the summer, we recommend keeping this balm in the fridge so that it doesn't liquefy. For us, this is our number one SOS go-to balm, and we cannot recommend it highly enough. You too can purchase O.Moi’s All-In-One Multi-Purpose Balm - Fragrance-Free 50ml for £48.00 here.