Cacao

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!

Ancient + Brave with their True Collagen and Cacao + Collagen

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It's rare to find a brand with such a passion for inspiring healthy living. Ancient + Brave have captured our attention at The Amazing Blog, encouraging us to take control of our lifestyle choices, no matter the amount of time we have to do so. We're in no doubt that their ethos has had a similar impact on others - by combining naturopathy and cutting-edge innovation, the company's ambition of creating delicious and nutritious products certainly will inspire others to look into their lifestyle choices more deeply. We were also fascinated by the Brave Method, combining intermittent fasting and Ancient + Brave products, to create a simple lifestyle strategy that draws back to the eating patterns of our ancestors.

Conceptualising the Brave Method, founders Annelie Whitfield and Kate Prince used their combined knowledge of naturopathy and entrepreneurial techniques to redefine the fasting regime. No longer must we only drink water to avoid calorific beverages, as Ancient + Brave's products are suitable to consume during the fasting period, providing optimal fat burning, while ensuring that we ourselves, do not burn out. Annelie's story is particularly interesting, as a former stunt woman, who suffered a life-threating injury, she began her nature quest after receiving healing treatment from bone mending monks in Sri Lanka. She chose to develop her newfound knowledge, by spending five years in a back-to-nature barefoot existence, studying indigenous medicine in Costa Rica. It is here that she unearthed the medicinal benefits of coffee and cacao - hence the introductions into her product lines. Upon her return, she teamed up with Kate Prince, who used her entrepreneurial nouse to help innovate a new lifestyle brand, to fuel health and performance simultaneously.

As you can imagine, we were excited to try their products, especially those of us who were collagen novices. The True Collagen powder proved to be a simple way of easing us into the collagen world, a product packed with 100% hydrolysed grass-fed bovine collagen (a welcome addition in comparison with many other products), and high in crucial nutrients to replace proteins. Like all of the Ancient + Brave products, True Collagen is also suitable for those following a paleo diet. True Collagen is both odourless and tasteless, meaning that we can boost our level of amino acids by drinking it on its own, or within a beverage of our choice. Ancient + Brave recommend using 2-4 teaspoons for a potent amount of collagen and suggest adding it to a smoothie of your choice.

Secondly, we tried their Cacao+ Collagen product, a delicious hot chocolate alternative that is antioxidant rich thanks to the use of organic Peruvian cacao. Other ingredients include cocoa, grass-fed bovine collagen, beetroot, cinnamon, carob, Siberian ginseng and baobab (all of which are organic), and a touch of pink Himalayan salt. Together, these ingredients act as a potent delivery system of collagen, that still tastes delicious. In one serving, you can expect 2000mg of nourishing True Collagen for a fat burning and energising hot drink. We recommend mixing it with hot plant-based milk, or it can be made using hot water too. What more could we ask for on a cold Autumn morning?

If you too would like to give collagen a go, purchase Ancient + Brave’s True Collagen 200g for £27 here and the Cacao + Collagen 250g for £22 here.

Hot Drinks Feature - Friday Favourites

Struggling to make it through this winter? Here at the Amazing Blog we have been trying to combat the gloominess with some warming hot drinks. We are sure you'll agree that when it's as wet and grey outside as it is today, there is nothing better than curling up with a tasty and comforting hot drink. So, we thought we would round up some fun and unusual winter warmers, that are guaranteed to make you feel cozy and comfortable.

Akesson’s is a brand that passionate about cacao. Today Akesson’s has grown from a single plantation to haveing buisness with plantations based in Madagascar, Brazil, and Indonesia. The company produces undoubtedly one of the finest forms of cocoa, which they supply globally to famous chocolatiers and chefs.

We loved trying Akesson’s exclusive line of chocolate and we particularly enjoyed the Choco-Tea Cacao Infusion. The tea is a natural product made from cacao nibs and their shells, producing a rich and warm flavour that lifted our spirits after exposure to the damp weather. The cacao in this comes from the Sambirano Valley, in the North-West of Madagascar, and has a wonderfully expressive chocolate aroma, with subtle fruit and citrus notes. The tea is organic and rich in polyphenols, antioxidants, iron, magnesium and Vitamin D, making it a very healthy and natural drink.

We infused half of one large teaspoon for five minutes in hot water. We liked the fact the tea is not overly sweet, but of course, if you like your tea sweeter adding a teaspoon of honey or sugar can help round out the flavour to match your cravings.

Try Akesson’s sumptuous Choco-Tea here for £6.95.

            Pure Chimp’s   Super Tea     specialises in  matcha green tea , a nutritional powerhouse produced in  Japan . This tea is different to regular green tea, as it's partially grown under cover helping to fill it with extra goodness. Equally, matcha tea also differs from normal green tea as it has higher levels of  theanine and chlorophyll .  Theanine  offers a wonderful  energy boost  without the crash that usually   follows after a cup of regular caffeinated tea. The higher chlorophyll gives this tea a lovely soft and  smooth flavour  that we can’t get enough of.     We love the  versatility  of this product. You can add it to hot water, juice, smoothies and even bake with it. Our favourite combination was to simply add hot milk and drink it as a matcha latte! The product is also suitable for  vegans  so everyone can enjoy the health benefits of  Pure Chimp Super Tea .    Try  Pure Chimp’s Super Tea    here   for £4.95.     
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Pure Chimp’s Super Tea specialises in matcha green tea, a nutritional powerhouse produced in Japan. This tea is different to regular green tea, as it's partially grown under cover helping to fill it with extra goodness. Equally, matcha tea also differs from normal green tea as it has higher levels of theanine and chlorophyll. Theanine offers a wonderful energy boost without the crash that usually follows after a cup of regular caffeinated tea. The higher chlorophyll gives this tea a lovely soft and smooth flavour that we can’t get enough of. 

We love the versatility of this product. You can add it to hot water, juice, smoothies and even bake with it. Our favourite combination was to simply add hot milk and drink it as a matcha latte! The product is also suitable for vegans so everyone can enjoy the health benefits of Pure Chimp Super Tea.

Try Pure Chimp’s Super Tea here for £4.95.

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Next is PHROOTI, a UK based brand which has created the perfect product for those of us who don't like tea but still enjoy the tradition and comfort that a good hot drink can give. The founders of PHROOTI were frustrated with conventional flavoured teas that smell incredibly fruity but lack any real and discernable flavour. The brand thus decided to reinvent fruit tea to give the people what they want, and we can't thank them enough as the result is delicious. PHROOTI consists of 95-97% natural and dried fruit powder and contains no traces of tea. This gives the product an intense fruity flavour that is guaranteed to tantalise your taste buds!

The faux-tea is caffeine-free, low calorie, and free from added sugar, making it a delicious and guilt-free treat. PHROOTI currently comes in three fabulous flavours, including Sour Cherry and Cranberry, Blackcurrant, Blackberry and Blueberry. Our favourite was Raspberry and Strawberry. This is the perfect option for those who don’t enjoy tea but love fruity flavour infusions.

Try PHROOTI here, you can buy 6 packs for £17.70.

We thought we would end today’s feature on a more traditional and classic note, simply, tea. Here at The Amazing Blog, we love tea and love to try out new and exciting flavours. Tea Shirt is a new UK brand founded by a tea-obsessed couple with a passion for discovering high-quality teas and unearthing original flavours.

After the endless office tea runs we've all done, you know how hard it is to find two people who enjoy their tea the same way. Whether it's an argument over when the milk goes in or type of tea, it can be a nightmare filling out those tea orders! But this isn't a problem with Tea Shirts, as not only are all their teas delicious but they have an extensive selection to choose from; ranging from the typical ‘Irish Breakfast’ to unusual flavours such as ‘Barbados Rum’ and ‘Marshmallow’ there is definitely a flavour for everyone. We personally loved the ‘Apple and Grapefruit’ tea blended with its fresh and citrus flavours, we felt completely revitalised and refreshed after a cup.

The teas are packaged in “Tea Shirts” - labels which mimic traditional textiles and embroidery from the areas where they originated. We think Tea Shirts makes a perfect gift for tea lovers or just a winter warmer by the fire.

You can buy Tea Shirts here from £1.79.