Food

Top Herd's Snacks

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Oh yes, groan, it’s that time of year again: ‘New Year, new you, new us’ - prepare to be flooded with gym membership teasers that promise the powers of a total detox, ond a general shedding of the skin belonging to 2018. At this time of year, we at The Amazing Blog are being bombarded with messages to look more closely at what we’re putting into our bodies - which is where the range from Top Herd comes into it’s own.

With Top Herd’s delicious Jerky selection in six flavours (four beef and two turkey) and their two salami flavours to choose from, they give the taste buds something of a workout to decide which to go for. The beauty of these tasty treats is that they are packed full of protein and are therefore brilliant at helping us to boost our energy levels, and fulfil our new year resolutions, whether they be at the gym, the office, or indeed at home. The stand out offering for us amongst the jerky offerings is their Smokey BBQ Grass Fed Beef Jerky, with only 91 calories per packet, it will certainly help to shape that waistline in the right direction. All natural ingredients, gluten-free and without a nitrate in sight. The journey that all their products undertake, is of paramount importance to the Top Herd Team - all meat is responsibly sourced to ensure the animals destined for our snack box have been grass fed, having enjoyed a carefree life, roaming at their leisure and taking good exercise out in the open air. No nasty chemicals are allowed to enter this chain, keeping each ingredient as unadulterated as possible.

The lean salami comes in two flavours - ‘Tomato’ and ‘Mild Chilli’ with 5.7% and 6.1% fat respectively. In our tastings, the ingredients each came through, without being overpowering - especially the chilli options which can sometimes be hit or miss in some snacks. Of course the really interesting test came in whether these yummy morsels actually staved off the hunger pangs - we can report that they did, adding an extra boost of gusto to our step which wasn’t entirely down to the feeling of self-righteousness!

In a world where we are increasingly being lectured on the rights and wrongs of what we keep in our larders, it makes a refreshing change to come across a brand who are fearlessly pushing their products forward, and encouraging us to eat well, and play well. The message from Top Herd is to lay a foundation of good nutrition and well being, and then get out into the fresh air and explore all manner of adventures. It’s the perfect premise for the beginning of a new year, and possibly a new and fulfilling direction for those of us willing to taste something new. Individual pouches of jerky will set you back between £1.59 and £2, but you will also find the Adventure box of Jerky’ bundle priced at £12, and the ‘Go Wild Snack Box’ at £14. These are all available from the Top Herd website here. Happy snacking!

Emma Gunn's Never Mind The Burdocks

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Do you have a passion for flowers or plants? Or perhaps you dream of having a lovely garden one day? While most people aren’t born with a green thumb, there is an increasing interest in nature, especially amongst us at The Amazing Blog. We love having flowers and plants in every room, but jazzing up a space shouldn’t be limited to putting flowers in a vase. This is something we discovered from the wisdom of Emma Gunn’s Never Mind the Burdocks: A Year Of Foraging in the British Isles’ - three books with the aim to encourage a better understanding of nature and survival, offering advice to protect our everyday spaces. After all, the more we understand, the better equipped we are.

The trio compromises of three books for three seasons: Spring (March-May), Autumn (September-November) and Winter (December-February). Each book is split into the number of days relating to the time frame, providing a different edible item each day. These range from mushrooms, to plants and fish. What we particularly like about the books, is the layout, providing a wide range of information, from scientific names, to origins and common uses. By focussing on a different foraging item each day, you quickly gain a vast amount of knowledge, including where to find the item, the edibility (rated from 1-5) and common lookalikes.

The Spring edition focuses on the common young tender leaves and spring flowers. As with the other books, common anecdotes and recipes are provided, with a vast amount of educational photographs. The Autumn edition includes commonly found funghi, fruits and nut, whereas you’ll find the Winter edition includes many root items. All three books contain a glossary of common (and uncommon) terms, and the Autumn guide has a handy tips and tricks section with visual funghi guides. Emma Gunn has thought of it all!

We have certainly enjoyed learning more about foraging! If this is something of interest to you too, then Emma Gunn’s Never Mind the Burdocks trio is available to purchase via Amazon. You’ll find the Spring and Winter editions available for £12.99, and the slightly thicker Autumn edition for £13.99. You’ll be foraging experts in no time!

Cudié Chocolates

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Want to know one of our simple pleasures in life? Chocolate. We can’t get enough of it at The Amazing Blog! Who cares if you had a healthy breakfast, or which strict New Year diet you’re following, it would be rude not to indulge in a few sweet treats once in a while. We recently discovered Cudié, a company that have produced family made chocolate since 1946. Based in Vilafranca del Penedes, Spain, all recipes are a family secret - with a plethora of products, from pralines, to Marconi almonds, premium chocolates and catanies (a combination of nuts and chocolate, signature to Cudié). We therefore couldn’t wait to try the brand - all in the name of research of course!

Among the range of sweet treats, Cudié offer collections of assorted delicatessen chocolates. We tried their Mediterranean Tiles chocolate box, consisting of 6 delicious and gourmet chocolates - perfect as an evening treat, with a cup of tea (or glass of red wine). These chocolates come encased in a stylish black box, with a vibrant pink sleeve. Each chocolate is delicately decorated, with rose, coffee, salt, orange, cinnamon and hazelnut flavours to choose from. Our favourites were the coffee and cinnamon flavours. The coffee had a surprising depth of flavour, and we were thankful that it didn't have the stereotypically bitter flavour often prevalent in other coffee chocolates. The cinnamon flavour was also an interesting one, adding a bit of spice and warmth, and definitely one we weren’t expecting to like so much.

To buy a box of 6 Cudié chocolates for yourself, then click here. You will find the box available for 3,91€. Additionally, you can also buy boxes of 18 or 36 chocolates, we will certainly be purchasing a larger box next time! Click here to see the full range of Mediterranean Tiles.

Fitty London's Paleo Box

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Stereotypical it may be, but we're making a conscious health effort this January. After an extended period of overindulging at The Amazing Blog, we're actively trying to get ourselves back on track to a healthier lifestyle. Through these trepidations, we discovered Fitty London, a brand bringing performance-enhancing products to our doorsteps, with boxes full of nutritional and affordable goodies. This is something we can certainly get behind!

Fitty London's premise is simple, to bring proper nutrition, with specific foods, drinks and workout products. We're not always hot on this, and when we do endeavour to make a better effort, we admit that it is often difficult to find products that are truly good for us. So many promise the world, but instead do the opposite, with a variety of hidden sugars and ingredients that are best avoided. We were therefore pleased to discover that Fitty London's products are all sourced by specialised nutritionists, allowing us to be secure in the knowledge that we're not being sold another hyped and overpromised subscription box.

We tried the newly launched Paleo Box, as we were keen to learn more about the paleo diet and lifestyle. Despite being trusted by millions of people, we were admittedly unaware of the vast amount of health benefits this lifestyle can promote. Although we may not be full paleo converts, we were pleased to try Fitty London's selection of products, our first steps in a healthier direction. This box contains eight specially selected brands and is worth around £60, making it an economical way of trying a multitude of paleo products. We enjoyed the Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee as a morning pick me up, providing a fruity drink that packs a superfood punch! For a mid-morning snack, we have been reaching for the Blue Dinosaur Paleo Bar. The Banana Bread flavour has a cinnamon kick, reminiscent of the past festivities, without the calorific indulgences! For those with a more savoury tooth, the Raw World Company Biltong has proven to be popular. We were intrigued by the crackling black pepper flavour, adding a bit of kick to the 100% grass-fed and dried beef.

Aside from snacking, this Paleo Box also contains the Bare Biology Lionheart Omega 3s supplement and the Symprove probiotic. The Lionheart capsules have helped to boost the appearance of our congested complexions, and the Symprove probiotic has helped to up our gut health, after let's face it, a month of rich foods. Finally, the box also contains a few products to help with your day to day cooking, the Happy Butter Ghee has become a firm cooking oil favourite, and the Cocofina Coconut Aminos has replaced the usual salty soy sauce in our stir-frys. For our New Year salads, we've also been loving the Willy's Apple Cider Vinegar - it's great as a dressing.

So there you have it, we're feeling much healthier and happier, and although we can't completely put it down to Fitty London's Paleo Box, it certainly makes a change to swap our sweet snacks with nutritional ones! To purchase a Paleo Box for £32, visit the Fitty London website here.

Christmas Food

We love the festive period at The Amazing Blog - the time for twinkling lights, mulled wine and time spent with loved ones. As if that’s not enough, Christmas is also the time for gourmet food choices, from the classic roast, to the after dinner cheese board. Tis’ the season for overindulging and treating ourselves, and with the New Year diet looming, it seems only right to make the most of the festive treats on offer. There are also few things we love more than to receive a selection of foodie treats on Christmas morning, so we thought, why not compile some of our favourites, so you too can give the gift of food!

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Firstly, we came across Cottage Delight, a brand based in the Staffordshire moorlands, bringing hand-crafted and innovative flavours to the condiments market. Established in 1974, the vast amount of experience helps the brand to lead the way in providing delicious additions to our meal (which more often that not, are even more delicious than the foods they are paired with). We were therefore excited to try their Gin & Fizz Set, compromising of two jams, a curd and marmalade - perfect to spice up any scone, crumpet or piece of toast.

Firstly, we tried the Raspberry & Prosecco Jam - a delectable treat to jazz up any morning. Made with 43g of fruit per 100g, this jam is characteristically tangy, but with a depth of flavour thanks to the addition of prosecco. Similarly the Lemon Curd with Gin has a zesty kick, yet an almost buttery texture that is not only indulgent, but also delicious. The addition of gin cuts through the tartness - ideal for any gin lovers in your life. For those who gear towards orange, the Marmalade with Gin has a fruity and juicy flavour - we love it spread across freshly made bread. Finally, for those who like a traditional strawberry jam, the Strawberry Jam with Marc de Champagne is a great option. Made with whole strawberries, this reminded us of our Grandma’s homemade jam. The champagne adds a luxurious aftertaste, solidifying this set as the ideal Christmas present. If that’s not enough, then the box itself is ready made for present giving, so there’s less hassle with wrapping, and more time to indulge in a glass of mulled wine (or two). Purchase a Gin & Fizz Gift Set here for £9.95.

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Secondly, for any chocolate lovers, we recommend Elements for Life. We tried their Yummy Scrummy Brownies not so long ago (see here), and more recently, their Raw Chocolate Making Starter Kit. Founded by Dan and Paula Knowlson, experts in raw chocolate, this brand continues to ensure products are suitable for vegans, diabetics and coeliacs, as well as those with lactose intolerances. This is something particularly difficult to find at Christmas, so we’re sure this set would be popular with anyone who suffers from a dietary requirement. That said, we all equally enjoyed this set, whether intolerant to common allergens or not.

The Raw Chocolate Starter Kit contains 100g raw cacao powder, 100g raw cacao butter, 100ml Sweet Freedom syrup and a reusable silicone chocolate mould. You can also choose your mould design, picking from the spiral swirls (which we went for), or the Valentine’s hearts. Using Peruvian Criollo raw cacao powder and butter, the ingredients are the best of the best, providing a rich and smooth chocolate that has a low GI. This makes it suitable for diabetics, furthermore displaying the inclusive nature of this brand. In terms of making the chocolate itself, we found the process incredibly easily. Simply melt the cacao butter, add the cacao powder and Sweet Freedom syrup and you’re done - pour into the moulds, pop them in the fridge and return to professional looking chocolates. To purchase a Raw Chocolate Making Starter Kit for £17.99, click here.

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Although we’re big sweet lovers at The Amazing Blog, we’re equally enticed by flavoursome and spicy dishes. For the spice lovers in your life, we present SteenbergsMediterranean Mini 8 Spice Box, a set packed with numerous spice blends, heavily influenced by the Arabic side of the Mediterranean. Having tried their Botanicals for Cocktails in October (see here), we were keen to try this set for ourselves - and can confirm that it will indeed be well received by any foodies in your family.

Founded by Axel and Sophie Steenberg in 2003, Steenbergs is passionate about providing top quality and organic spices, with over fifteen years of experience to draw from. You can therefore be safe in the knowledge that by gifting their Mediterranean spices set, you’ll be helping your foodie recipient to create delicious meals, with ingredients they can trust. This set compromises of organic tagine, ras al hanut, za’atar, organic harissa with rose, organic Italian herbs, organic Lebanese 7 spice blend, organic paella spice blend and organic chermoula spice blend - a vast array of flavours to create a multitude of dishes. Our personal favourites are the organic paella spice blend, which helps us to create an authentic taste of Spain, and the chermoula spice blend, which we were admittedly less familiar with - but now cannot be without. To purchase your own Mediterranean Mini 8 Spice Box for £15.99, click here.

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Finally, for something a little more luxury, we came across Haupt Lakrits, a Swedish liquorice brand aiming to bring gourmet products to the market. Having tried a variety of their products, we can confirm that these are far from the packet of slightly squashed liquorice wheels in your cupboard, but instead, provide a new take on a traditional classic. Even those less enthusiastic about liquorice were found sneaking these on our lunchbreak - testament to their scrumptious flavours.

Firstly, for those of us with a penchant for liquorice, SÖT (€9.00) proved to be popular. Thanks to being cooked for 8 hours and stored for 10 weeks, this liquorice is soft and sweet, and has a pleasantly chewy texture. Secondly we tried the Hallon (€9.00) flavour, liquorice dipped in 60% Belgian milk and dark chocolate and coated with raspberry and vanilla. These proved very popular amongst those will less of a liking for traditional liquorice, and we found they work well with rose wine. Thirdly, we tried the limited edition God Juhl: Merry Christmas (€11.00) jar. Coated in Belgian white chocolate and flavoured with a Swedish Christmas spice mix, this liquorice is undoubtedly festive, even covered in a glittery outer layer. Finally, we tried the slightly lighter God Helg: Happy Holidays (€11.00) liquorice. Dipped in Belgian white chocolate, the additions of lingonberry and saffron add sweetness, yet the fruity nature helps to cut the sickliness often associated with white chocolate. Like God Juhl, this Christmas edition liquorice is best paired with a glass of mulled wine. Visit the Haupt Lakrits website here to purchase your own liquorice delights - some flavours are also available as gift sets, smaller jars and refill packs.

So there we have it - four foodie treats guaranteed to put a smile on your receiver’s face. And if you’re thinking ‘I’ve already finished my Christmas shopping’, then why not treat yourself instead? After all, we think the festive period is the perfect excuse to indulge!