Dairy Free

Oumph!

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With the average global temperature at an all-time high, at The Amazing Blog we’ve made it our goal to be more conscientious in the products we use and consume. We’ve already begun the shift towards using paper straws, reusable shopping bags and even reef-safe SPF but now we’ve taken on the challenge to switch to a more earth-friendly, plant-based diet that’s tasty yet easy to cook. That’s where the vegan company Oumph! comes along.

Based in Sweden, Oumph! has aimed to make meat substitutes and other vegan frozen foods that are low-impact to the environment. All of Oumph’s six plant-based frozen foods are made with a mixture of soya beans and organic herbs and spices combined into a flavourful vegan substitute. In addition to being gluten and dairy free, Oumph!’s high protein and fibre levels along with its sources of iron and folic acid make sure you’re getting your daily nutrients without having to eat animal by-products. We got to try all six of Oumph!‘s food varieties which we can say made our goal towards plant-based eating much easier (and tastier).

The first product we tried was the award-winning Oumph! Kebab Spiced. Seasoned with spices classically found in kebab, the plant-based strips are a great alternative to the English favourite. Next, we tried the Pulled Oumph! to spice up our weekly Taco Tuesday. Marinated in a vegan BBQ sauce, these Oumph! chunks placed in a taco shell with veggies and some salsa had us feeling moreish. Want a basic Oumph! to add your own seasoning? The Chunk only contains soya beans, water and salt for a perfect base to any dish you want. We tried The Chunk by using one of their recipes for a Tikka Masala on their website, and all we can say is yum! Oumph’s other two plant-based meats Thyme & Garlic and Salty & Smoky were an excellent substitute for a just ass hearty breakfast. If you’re craving a more cheesy alternative, Oumph!’s brick-oven Pizza topped with veggies, vegan cheese, herbs and pieces of Oumph! is a easy and tasty Friday dinner. To join the #greenproteinshift, see Oumph! for stockists, it can be found in the frozen food section at your nearest Whole Foods Market or Tesco.

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!

Myroo Skincare - Gentle Cleanser + Cloth

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As colder temperatures have set in, our skin at The Amazing Blog is beginning to suffer. As much as the crisp air and colourful leaves are a welcome element of the changing seasons, many of us are subject to heightened dry skin as a result of the colder climate. We were therefore pleased to discover Myroo Skincare, a brand that is formulated for sensitive, allergic and problem skin, and gentle enough to solve October woes for any skin type.

Myroo Skincare, based in Harrogate, Yorkshire, was founded by skincare expert Rachael Dunseath. Using her own experiences of allergies, Dunseath sought to create a range of products that leave you "comfortable in your own skin" and "confident in the ingredients". This ethos is embedded in the 100% plant-based products, which are handmade in small batches to preserve nutrients and guarantee freshness - a commendable philosophy that we were keen to try for ourselves.

We tried their Gentle Cleanser, an organic and vegan cleanser that is free from gluten, nuts and dairy ingredients. We found the nut-free formula particularly interesting, as this includes inedible traces which are often found within other 'nut free' products. The cleanser is also free from all common food allergens, and the use of known synthetic irritants (including parabens), is prohibited. Quite an impressive list of considerations I'm sure you will agree! Equally as impressive, however, are the ingredients themselves, with the use of apricot kernel oil, starflower oil and orange blossom, which are packed with vitamin E and omega 6. These work together to create a silky and luxurious formula that helps to protect and repair the skin's natural barrier, encouraging it to regenerate, for a fresher and softer complexion.

Alongside the plethora of carefully considered ingredients, the cleanser is also cruelty-free, free from animal testing and available in a fragrance-free version. The Fragrance-Free Gentle Cleanser doesn't contain any of the common 26 cosmetic allergens, ensuring that even the most sensitive of skin is left looking refreshed and radiant. To use either product, we recommend utilising the double-sided organic cloth that is included in the packaging. When used alongside the cleanser, we found that our skin was both gently cleansed and exfoliated (without the use of microbeads), which encouraged brighter and fresher skin, as well as acting as an environmentally friendly alternative to other exfoliating products. It also allows the product to become a 2 in 1 solution, something we are always keen to promote! If you're continuously searching to simplify your skincare routines, then this may well be the answer.

To try this star product for yourself, massage 3-4 pumps over the face and neck, and remove with the hot cloth (use warm water for maximum effect). Do this twice a day to reap the full benefits. We found that a little goes a long way, so we recommend being economical with the amount applied. If you're suitably impelled to try Myroo Skincare, then click here to buy your own Gentle Cleanser + Cloth, or here for the Fragrance-Free version, both priced at £27. Happy cleansing!

Geosticks by Geobar

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We love snacking at The Amazing Blog. It is our biggest vice, and although swimsuit season is a long way off, it’s all too easy to use layers to hide as our bodies turn into bears. While this may be cosier and on the whole a more enjoyable experience, it is, firstly, fooling no one and secondly makes swimsuit season all the more stressful as we battle against the results of our bad choices. To entirely avoid this we have decided to change our ways and make healthier snack choices. In our research, we found the delicious Rice, Lentil and Quinoa Geosticks from one of our favourite brands Geobar. The crisps come in three moreish flavours Sweet Chilli, Herby and Peppery

Each pack is gluten and dairy-free and contain Fairtrade rice from Thailand and Fairtrade quinoa from Peru.  No matter which flavour you choose the packet won’t exceed 91 calories. Making these not just an ethically right choice, but an excellent choice for your waist. We partularly loved the Sweet Chilli which had a subtle chilli/tomato/spice sauce flavour which came through on these delicious crunchy sticks. All three flavours are utterly addictive, and with their low-calorie content, you don’t have to feel guilty next snack time! 

You can purchase a Geosticks multi pack from Traidcraft here for £21.60. This will include 8 packets of each flavour which will certainly be enough to see you through the next month or two!
 

Friday Favourites - Latest Cookbooks

We love nothing more than making a home cooked meal at The Amazing Blog. We find the process of cooking to be an incredibly therapeutic one, as well as being one of the best ways to make small and easy changes in your life. We’ve always thought that mixing things up in the kitchen is an excellent, if not the best, way to lift yourself from a slump. In fact, many of the best evenings we’ve had, have been sitting around a table with friends sharing a bottle of wine and a delicious and carefully prepared home cooked meal. As such, we are always looking for new cookbooks with exciting, delicious and new recipes for us to try! So here is a review of five of our favourites to help you add a bit of extra spice to the kitchen; from five-star restaurant cuisine to Jewish home cooking,  game day favourites and kitchen hacks! We've even included a special book for all you chocoholics out there!


First on our list is The Mountain Café Cookbook: A Kiwi in the Cairngorms, which was written by the brilliant chef at the Mountain Café in Scotland, Kirsten Gilmour. One of the main reasons we love this book is its inclusivity! In the introduction, Gilmour talks about taking a trip with a coeliac friend and realising how hard it was for her friend to eat food and stay healthy. Despite being told food was safe for her it often wasn’t, and she would suffer the horrible effects later. As such, Gilmore vowed to make food that was reliable for everyone. Her book is filled with mouth-wateringly good recipes and using a key, she takes the care and time to let you know which recipes are gluten-free, vegan, egg free, wheat free and dairy free! It can be a daunting task finding a recipe that is safe or reliable when cooking for a friend with dietary restrictions,  and in our experience has led to less than desirable meals, but with this book in your kitchen those days will be a thing of the past. Having this key takes the pressure off, and you know that everyone will be happy and leave the table feeling safe and looked after.


The book is full of exciting flavours including your favourite classic dishes with restaurant quality twists; such as beef, chorizo and mushroom stew, lamb kofta kebabs and sweet potato, spinach and caramelised onion quiche. The salads in the book were definitely among our favourite recipes, and were so much more than your everyday garden variety salad; our two favourites were the seared lamb, halloumi, orange, roasted carrot and almond salad and the sweet potato, red pepper, pine nut and feta salad. These are delicious as light summer dinners as well as healthy lunches to take with you to work.


You can purchase these wonderful recipes and much more here from £20.00

Diana Falk’s cookbook, The Hungry Fan's Game Day Cookbook: 103 Recipes for Fangating, Eating, Drinking & Watching Sports, is the perfect book for those days when everyone comes over to watch a big game or race. The food is not only fun but delicious, and each recipe is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser!

The book is a mixture of healthy and decadent ideas, that will all help with the festivity and excitement of your next sports event. From Bacon, Cheddar Spud Nachos to panko and coconut crusted prawns to lentil salad – there is a delicious recipe in here for every sports lover you know. What we think is fabulous about these recipes is that, whether your guests know everything there is to know about sports, or are completely uninterested, both will have a fun time – even if your team loses!


You can purchase this cookbook here for £18.22 and be the MVP of the day!

 

We cannot think of a more appropriate title for a cookbook, as in Yiddish the word Fress means “to eat copiously and without restraint.” This is exactly what you’ll want to do as you peruse the recipes in this book. Emma Spritz was a finalist on BBC1 Masterchef, and her cookbook brings together a melting pot of Middle-Eastern and Eastern European tastes to create big flavours that are happy and sociable dishes to feed to friends and family. 

We love how unfussy Emma’s style is, her food is all about extracting maximum flavour from the simplest ingredients in the easiest way.  Embracing recipes from Poland, Russia, Israel, North Africa and Algeria, there is bound to be a delicious recipe for you in here. Whether the recipe brings back a homely familiarity or an exotic new flavour you cannot go wrong with these meals and are sure to wow your friends. 

you can purchase Fress: Bold, Fresh Flavours from a Jewish Kitchen here for £17.00 to start cooking these delicious Jewish flavours at home

Next, on our list is Mastering Chocolate: Recipes, Tips and Techniques from a Master Chocolatier - we would be monsters if we didn’t give you at least one indulgent dessert-centric cookbook! If you want to wow your chocoholic friends and be revered as the master of all chocolate, then this book is for you. With twenty recipes from simple truffles to awe-inspiring tiered cakes, this book explains the essential equipment and provides complete step-by-step photos of each stage of every recipe to help you make the most perfect desserts possible.


The book was written by award-winning pastry chef and chocolatier Mark Tilling.  In case you don’t know who he is, he is the twice UK chocolate master and winner of the first series of BBC2’s Bake-off: Crème de la Crème. These recipes have been tried, and tested and are easy enough to tempt beginners while having the perfect range and creativity for professional chefs! We are still on the lookout for another excuse to make the utterly divine chocolate berry tart!


If you fancy becoming a master chocolatier, then you can purchase Tilling’s cookbook here for £20.00.

Now, while this final book is not technically a cookbook, we simply had to share it with you as Kitchen Hacks: Uncommon Solution to Common Problems is a definite must have! The book teaches you brilliant and easy ‘kitchen hacks’ such as how to professionally hull of a strawberry using only a straw, how to easily peel a hard boiled egg, and how to preserve herbs by freezing them in oil for easy and quick use the next time you need them. What we loved about this book is how it has completely revolutionised the way we move around in our kitchen and how we prepare the food we make. It’s taught us new, better and more time efficient techniques. So now when we have a dinner party, it’s an effortless occasion, and we get to spend time with our guests! We cannot imagine our lives without this handy book being within reach.

You can purchase your very own kitchen helper here for £7.99

So what are you waiting for? Anyone of these books will spice up your everyday cooking or impress at your next dinner party or family lunch. So whether you are trying to get out of a slump or looking to dazzle someone, you'll be able to do it with these in your kitchen.