Tasty

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!

Friday Favourites: Cookbooks

Cooking is something we're divided on at The Amazing Blog. Half of us are avid chefs, and the rest, well they would prefer never to turn an oven on again. What we do agree on though, is that a good cookbook can ease the battle of turning everyday ingredients into delicious meals, helping even the most unenthusiastic of cooks to rustle up a tasty dish. We have discovered the following cookbooks, each one guaranteed to contain a vast amount of recipes that will make your cooking restaurant worthy in no time!

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Firstly, we came across Eating Well Everyday, the brainchild of chef Peter Gordon. Originally from New Zealand, Gordon's extensive knowledge of cooking has stemmed from numerous culinary travels, through which he has gained inspiration to use Asian, Indonesian and Indian flavours. His passions have also led him to receive an ONZM (the equivalent of an OBE), notably awarded as a result of having organised a "Who's Cooking Dinner" event, which raised over £6.3 million for leukaemia research. We are therefore safe in the knowledge that this cookbook has been written by someone who truly knows how to cook (and has a passion for it).

Written for "home cooks everywhere", this book contains 170 recipes, covering everything from breakfast to dinner party meals. Self-proclaimed to contain “tasty and daring, yet simple and straightforward" dishes, this is something we can vouch for. Even the most inexperienced of chefs amongst us were able to follow these recipes with ease (and perhaps even enjoyment). Our favourite dishes? The Chicken and Peanut Coconut Curry (page 166) and Pumpkin, Ginger, Chickpea and Cheese Soup (page 50) - both guaranteed to warm you up on a cold winter's evening. We also love the Peanut, Pecan and Chocolate Cookie recipe for a sweet after-dinner treat. To purchase Eating Well Everyday for £22, then click here.

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Secondly, we came across The Lazy Weekend Cookbook, a firm favourite amongst the less enthusiastic cooks of the office. Written by chef Matt Williamson, this book contains over 150 pages of delicious recipes for weekend cooking. Williamson explains that the goal of the book is to provide recipes that can be cooked leisurely, as opposed to the usual mid-week rush to get anything on the table. His advice is to choose a particular few meals to focus on, meaning you can rustle up some exceptional dishes, without spending all weekend in the kitchen.

The book is structured into mealtimes and moments, ranging from breakfasts and brunches, to easy dinner party meals, and bakes. Each meal is designed for 4 people; however, we found it easy to scale this up or down, dependant on the situation. There are too many favourites to share, but the Quick Sesame Flatbreads with Honey Butter (page 29) and Moroccan Spiced Chicken Pie (page 54) are two stand out recipes that we couldn't not mention. We also like the weight and temperature conversions at the back of the book, meaning we have less chance of cremating our newfound recipes! To ramp up your weekend cooking, then you can purchase a copy of Williamson's The Lazy Weekend Cookbook here for £20.

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Finally, we discovered MOB Kitchen by Ben Lebus. Known for his online presence, Lebus' YouTube channel has grown a strong following, with an empire of over 250,000 social media followers in just 18 months. His niche? Providing meals for four people that are under £10. More recently, Lebus has extended this knowledge into a cookbook, aiming to encourage people to cook delicious and nutritious meals, that are still affordable. This concept is particularly popular among students and young professionals, proving that delicious meals don't need to cost a small fortune. By creating a cookbook, Lebus' new mission is to educate all ages, whether that be people who choose not to use social media, or those of us who simply like to have a physical copy at hand.

The cookbook is segmented by time and goal, ranging from Brunch MOB to Speedy MOB and Flashy MOB. These contain over ten different recipes, amounting to 140 pages of recipes and visual guidelines. Each page has key symbols, with Spotify Codes on each recipe page, allowing readers to listen to the corresponding playlist/song. This is something we found interesting, tapping into the active social media tie Lebus has. We particularly enjoyed making the Chocolate Chilli Con Carne (page 94), and the Crunchy Vegan Aubergine Katsu (page 122) both of which stopped us from shelling out on unnecessary and expensive takeaways. To purchase your own copy of MOB Kitchen, click here, where you can find ideas to get the mob fed for £14.99.

These cookbooks have certainly helped us to eat better this November, with warming and comforting dishes that are easy to make, and reasonable to rustle up. Try them for yourself or we think these cookbooks would make a great Christmas gift for someone in need of spicing up their mealtimes. Happy cooking!

Lentil Bites - Fairfields Farm Crisps

It's all too easy to mindlessly munch on snacks without noticing just how much you're eating. We've all had that moment, where without looking we reach into a packet of sweets, thinking you have a few left only to discover you have already eaten all of them without realising. It's a problem that all of us at The Amazing Blog have encountered, which is why we always try our best only to consume healthy and filling snacks. As the year has flown by, and summer is knocking at our door, fitting into that killer summer outfit or being beach ready is becoming less theoretical. So, if you're not already familiar with them, let us introduce to Fairfield Farm and their healthier and tastier Lentil Bite crisps. 

Fairfield's Farm produces artisanal crisps, and are always researching and looking for new ways to make our favourite savoury snack healthier. By moving away from the traditional potato and instead using lentils and pulses, the crisps are a healthier option as they are higher in protein, gluten-free, lower in fat and calories! Meaning even if you accidentally end up mindlessly snacking - which with these delicious flavours seems unlikely - it's a guilt free mistake! We tried all three flavours (Fresh Tomato and Herb, Jalapeno and Lime, and Blue Cheese) and can tell you that despite being a much healthier food, no taste whatsoever was lost. In fact, all three are so delicious that it's impossible for us to pick a favourite. 

The story behind Fairfield's Farm is wonderful, a family run farm that has been farming in East Anglia for three generations. In 2016 they were voted East of England Co-operative’s best producer supplier and scooped up a great taste award. This family run company has no gone global, supplying to around 20 countries. What's more, as of this year all their energy will be directed at making the farm use sustainable technologies, such as anaerobic digestion and solar power. With each 20g packet coming in at under 100kcal, means that when you get the mid-day munchies you don't have to worry about not fitting into that new outfit! You can purchase the crisps here for £13.00 for a box of 18 packets.