Category Archives: food

Veo, the sustainable marketplace plus giveaway

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Sustainability is the number one word for me when it comes to shopping these days, but in general it does tend to take a lot more time and effort researching what to buy where, so I was very pleased to hear about Veo World. They have taken out the hard work by liaising with reputable ethical independent brands to bring quality products to the online sustainable Veo Marketplace. I was even more delighted to be selected as a brand ambassador for Veo and to have the opportunity to tell you all about them.

Broadly speaking, the Veo Marketplace encompasses fashion, beauty, food and homeware. They have put together curated selections of these categories of products, in order to showcase some of the brands they collaborate with. I have received their curated selection of food and drink products free to review and promote.

Veo World selection

The contents of my box were as follows:-

75g Cocoa Husk Tea from The Cocoa Concept
Adrift 20cl botanical non-alcoholic spirit from Pentire Drinks
Three 30g packets of Gnawbles snacks from Creative Nature
32g Rich Chocolate Protein Powder from Bodyhero
35g Minty Mylk Chocolate bar from Mr Popple’s Chocolate

All carefully packed in a cardboard box with paper shreddings and then in a home compostable mailing bag.

Cocoa Husk tea

Cocoa Husk tea is a very clever sustainable innovative idea to make tea using the outer shell of the cocoa bean, a by-product when harvesting the cocoa beans, which would otherwise go to waste. We found this tea very refreshing and loved its chocolatey flavour and smell. What a win-win of an idea in developing this product. And after use, the cocoa husk can be added to your compost or garden soil. This is the shortest dated product with a best before date of 30/9/21, which is plenty of time.

Cocoa Husk tea

The tea packet itself is labelled as oxo-degradable, with a rubbish disposal image alongside. I had to look up this terminology and effectively it is a greenwashing term, as although it should degrade within a couple of years, it will only degrade into micro plastics which will then be around for 100s of years, so I assume that will be why it shows the rubbish disposal image. Perhaps Veo will be able to give the brand a nudge as regards their packaging. Such a great sustainable product deserves not to have their credentials dulled by greenwashing. It would be better to just say dispose in rubbish, although hopefully the brand is investigating other packaging alternatives, which can still keep the tea fresh.

Adrift non-alcoholic spirit

Adrift is a distilled coastal botanical non-alcoholic drink from Cornwall. Now I don’t really know much about spirits, either alcoholic or non-alcoholic, so I was hoping that either the bottle or the marketplace would give me some guidance on how to serve, but unfortunately not. I guess they are assuming that their customers would all know what to do, so I went with my instinct and measured out 20ml of Adrift, added some ice and topped my glass up with lemonade. But maybe that was the wrong choice of mixer, as certainly lemon was the dominant flavour although I could detect hints of something else pleasant. I subsequently read that lemon juice was one of the ingredients.

Gnawbles snacks

The Gnawbles were a big hit with all the family although we had different choices as to which of them was our favourite flavour out of Super Salted Caramel, Cheeky Choc HazelNot or Creamy Mylk Chocolate. These have a light crunchy cereal middle covered in chocolate. They are vegan, gluten free, no palm oil and nut free, yes even the HazelNot. According to the marketplace, there is also a fourth flavour called Brilliant Orange Cacao which sounds like it should be just as yummy. Surprisingly the packaging type varies across flavours with Creamy Mylk in 1 PET, whilst the other two are in 5 (polypropylene). Some of the supermarkets are now starting to take these soft plastics for recycling.

Bodyhero chocolate shake

Now I don’t possess a shaker so I did the best I could at mixing the chocolate Bodyhero powder, and I must have made a reasonable attempt, as son1 who had requested this particular drink whilst the adults focussed on the tea and spirits, gave it the thumbs up. And he did let us all have a taste too. This product is vegan with the main ingredient being pea protein. The packet indicates it is also suitable for blending into smoothies or adding to good fats for a keto diet. This is another soft plastic packet, this time 4 LDPE. And I see that there is a Bodyhero shaker for sale on the marketplace for which they plant one tree per order. Another plus point.

Mr Popple's chocolate

The Minty Mylk bar of Mr Popple’s Chocolate also got a very positive taste reaction from all of us. Its credentials are equally impressive with the packet indicating that it is organic, vegan, raw, no refined sugars, no palm oil, gluten free, soya free, ethically traded and sustainably grown, along with home compostable packaging. Plenty of other flavours in the range but you will have to be quick for this one as it is a limited edition.

These are just a small sample of the selection of products available from the Veo marketplace. I certainly recommend Veo for the breadth of ecofriendly brands they have partnered with. Do have a browse around to see the full range. I’m off to check out their sustainable underwear next.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition, courtesy of Veo to giveaway a similar selection of products to one lucky winner!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

I’d love to hear your favourite product on the Veo marketplace or your suggestions of other sustainable additions you would like to see there. My two favourites from those I received are the Mr Popple’s chocolate and the Cocoa Husk tea.

UPDATE 3/8/21
I now have an offer to pass on to my readers – £10 off your first order at Veo using the code: YABM10. This is valid for the first 10 people to use only.

Do you Love Corn? – snack review and giveaway

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I’m feeling very important and special today as I’ve received a large box of LOVE CORN snacks free to review, which the barcode has labelled as a VIP box!

Love Corn

The box contains 12 packets of LOVE CORN savoury snacks, 3 packs of the following 4 flavours along with some promotional merchandise.

Sea Salt
Salt & Vinegar
Smoked BBQ
Habanero Chilli

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

Once I opened the box and saw them, I recognised the branding and realised I had already tried a packet in a Christmas hamper last December, which had been very moreish. I was immediately really looking forward to trying the other three flavours.

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

The whole family put them to the test and three of us agreed that all the flavours were very yummy and delicious. We particularly loved that crunch of the kernels, so their hashtag #ThePerfectCrunch is spot on. However my younger son wasn’t convinced but he doesn’t like popcorn, so I had anticipated that it would be a hard sell for him. The rest of us all had different opinions as to which were our favourites but loved them all. Mine was the spicy Habanero Chilli.

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

These snacks are gluten free, vegan, kosher, sugar-free and non-genetically modified. The packet size is 45g which is enough for a small dish if you’re putting out a selection of snacks or appetisers. Also an ideal lunch box size, but the packets are resealable if you don’t eat them all in one go. We mostly snacked them on their own, but I also tried them sprinkled on a salad which worked perfectly too. They also come in a 20g or 115g size too.

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

The corn is roasted, then seasoned. All the ingredients are natural, with the Sea Salt flavour containing just corn, sea salt and sunflower oil. And a few extra ingredients for the other flavours. The products are all long dated with at least 6 months until the best before date.

Two of the flavours bear the logo of a one star in the Great Taste Awards. Well done.

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

The packets also display a recyclable symbol of a 5 in a triangle. I have looked this up and it means they are made of polypropylene which is accepted by a few councils kerbside recycling collections. You’ll need to check for your area. Ideally I would prefer to see all snack brands move to compostable packaging, like a few I have reviewed.

Now I didn’t realise that they were sending promotional merchandise too, otherwise I would have politely requested them not to include those. Regular followers of my blog will know that I am a keen follower of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra. My opinion of the taste of the products is not going to be impacted by a LOVE CORN hat, bag and stickers, so may I please respectfully request the brand to consider reducing their use of promotional gimmicks.

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

LOVE CORN is stocked in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco or you may purchase online in boxes of 10 or 24 with free UK shipping. They also operate a loyalty points bonus scheme.

The LOVE CORN 3 year goals are to donate 1 million samples, build 50 school 
learning gardens and support local 
communities.

Please note if you have allergies that the packets do warn that they may contain tree nuts or peanuts as they have been made in a shared facility.

In summary, we loved these crunchy healthy snacks, a great savoury alternative to crisps, nuts or pretzels.

If readers of my blog would like to  receive a free sample pack containing 4 packets of LOVE CORN, 1 of each flavour, just paying £1.99 shipping, then please click here.

Plus I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 20% off your purchase at LOVE CORN with discount code: CRUNCH20

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a LOVE care package which includes 12 bags of LOVE CORN and smokin’ LOVE merchandise to one lucky winner. A yummy prize.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your favourite savoury snack?

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

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Who’s hungry for Awfully Posh Lomo Crisps? – review and giveaway

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

With everything going on this year, some businesses are really struggling in these tough times. So with the future still very precarious in the hospitality industry, The British Snack Co. has had to change their focus from the pub to online sales. They produce three brands of snacks which you may have come across previously:- Awfully Posh, The British Crisp Co. and The British Popcorn Co.

I particularly enjoy snacking on something savoury, so I was pleased to receive a box of 5 packs of Awfully Posh Lomo Crisps free to review from The British Snack Co.

Awfully Posh Lomo Crisps

If you haven’t heard of Lomo, it is cured Spanish Pork Loin, which is one of my favourite cuts of pork. I’ve previously enjoyed it as Tapas, but haven’t come across it as a crisp before. These Awfully Posh Lomo Crisps have been air dried, not fried and made using 100% Spanish Pork, cured with a blend of paprika and garlic. And I can affirmatively say that yes they taste as delicious as they sound. Very moreish and definitely crisp and crunchy. Much better than your average crisp.

They are high protein and low carb comprising 63g protein, 0.5g carbohydrate, 23g fat and 6g salt per 100g. They are also gluten free. The packet size is 25g. They therefore work well with both the KETO diet and Atkins approach to meal plans. It is always a plus point in my opinion to have high protein products like this which do not need refrigerating.

Awfully Posh Lomo Crisps

Lomo is a new addition to the Awfully Posh range which also includes Pork Puffs, Pork Scratchings and Pork Crackling in a selection of flavours. However Lomo Crisps do seem significantly pricer than all the other products in the range, probably due to it using a premium cut of pork, namely the loin.

You may purchase them via their online store in boxes of 10 packets and they are also stocked in places like Fuller’s and Waitrose.

One thing I would like to see changed is the packaging. It has the dispose in litter symbol. Hopefully they are investigating alternative compostable or recyclable packaging.

For those of you hoping to try them in a pub after lockdown, here is son1 enjoying them whilst taking mask precautions.

Awfully Posh Lomo Crisps

Awfully Posh Lomo Crisps

If you don’t mind the price for a premium product, I highly recommend that you give them a try. Otherwise try some of the cheaper items in the range.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a box of Awfully Posh Lomo Crisps courtesy of The British Snack Co. to one lucky winner. A yummy prize. But you’ll have to be quick as this one is open for less than week.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your favourite savoury snack?

You can find Awfully Posh on social media as follows:-
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Kick a caffeine habit with Barleycup – review and giveaway

Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Although I will quite happily have caffeinated drinks, given a choice I always opt for decaf, so I was interested in the opportunity of trying a caffeine free drink called Barley Cup. I initially received 2 free sachets.

Barley Cup

I think I may possibly have come across this drink once before, many many years ago. I believe I had a colleague who had a jar of it on her desk, but I don’t recall if I ever tried it. The Barleycup website doesn’t have a history page, so I can’t even check if it existed back then.

Barleycup is an instant cereal based powdered product designed to be drunk hot, as a natural, caffeine free alternative to tea or coffee. It is suitable for all the family from age 3 up, although I didn’t get enough to involve my kids in the taste test. The ingredients are barley (47%), rye and chicory, so no artificial additives. Also low calorie and a source of fibre.

Very simple to make. Put 2 teaspoons of Barleycup in your cup. Fill with hot water (250ml) and if desired, add any type of milk. I didn’t try this, but if you have a sweet tooth, add a bit of honey or maple syrup. I was amazed how similar to coffee it tasted. A very nice drink. This could certainly be the way forward for kicking that caffeine habit.

Barley Cup

Besides the Barley Cup that I tried, there are 3 other products in the range. These are Barley Cup Organic, Barley Cup Granules and Barley Cup with Dandelion. Great to note that there is an organic variant. They come in either 200g or 100g jars depending on the variety. Barleycup can be purchased in-store at Holland and Barrett and selected independent health food shops plus various online stores.

There are several interesting recipe ideas on the Barleycup website. I didn’t get enough to try out any recipes yet, but apparently I now have a free full-size jar on the way.

barleycup drink

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a 200g jar of Barleycup to 3 lucky winners.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear about your favourite drink.

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Chicken Fajitas with Spice pods plus giveaway

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

It has been a little while since I shared a recipe post, as I rather lost my blogging mojo lately following my mum’s death. But now that I am confined to my home apart from when I am volunteering to help the vulnerable or a quick essentials shopping trip or a daily run / walk, it seems time to take up the blogging mantle again.

I think I got my love of cooking from my mum, although it had been a while since she had been able to cook due to increasing frailty herself. As a small child, I can remember kneeling up on a stool at the kitchen table beside her and learning to make the likes of jam tarts and gingerbread men. My mum would encourage me to enter the children’s cookery section at the local WI show. And when I unwisely chose broccoli and melon as ingredients for my cookery practical exam, it was my mum who searched to locate them for me. Those were the days before such items became commonplace on the supermarket shelves all year round. And now for a different reason, they may again have disappeared from the shelves.

I’m certainly feeling rather sad about all the panic buying we are seeing currently, as I’m sure it is leading to increased food waste, particularly with regards to fresh food. So it may still be a little while before I feel ready to post again on my series of “Reducing Waste” topics.

The Spice Pioneer

However after turning down a few product review requests whilst grieving, I agreed to do a review for The Spice Pioneer, who caught my attention due to their fabulous tree planting initiative. They kindly sent me a set of their five flavours of spice power pods to try for free. The flavours, which can also all be purchased individually are as follows…..

Fajita
Chicken Lollipops
Chilli Con Carne
Katsu Curry
Peri-Peri Chicken

Spice Power Pods


So I decided to try out the Fajita Power Pod first and cook a tasty Tex-Mex dish of Chicken Fajitas, along with all the traditional accompaniments. The power pod box includes this recipe on the back. However I did adapt it slightly to include an additional vegetable, namely courgette, as due to empty shelves, I couldn’t get three colours of peppers.

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients (serves 4)

Fajita seasoning
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp oil
1 onion
3 mixed bell peppers
4 skinless chicken breasts

Method

Peel and slice onion.
Peel garlic and squeeze through garlic press.
Slice pepper, (saving seeds to sprinkle in a salad).
Slice chicken into 1cm strips.
In a large bowl, mix the fajita seasoning, garlic, oil, onion and peppers.
Add the chicken, mix to coat evenly and marinade for 10 minutes.
Stir- fry in a large frying pan on medium to high heat for 10-12 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Add more oil while cooking if needed.
Enjoy in heated tortilla wraps with guacamole, salsa, sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese.

chicken fajitas

I made a batch of tortilla wraps and you can see my guacamole recipe below. But I did cheat with the salsa and used a shop-bought jar. However part of the joy of power pods is the simplicity with the spices being perfectly portioned, so I didn’t feel at all guilty for cheating. In fact, I wished that I had cheated with guacamole too, as my avocado was rather under-ripe for the recipe. The power pod spice mixes aim to make cooking an easy, stress-free and enjoyable experience.


Chicken Fajitas

Guacamole

Ingredients

1 avocado
Juice of half a lime
1 small clove of garlic
Half a spring onion

Method

Cut avocado in half and remove stone.
Scoop out avocado flesh, with a fork, roughly mashing it.
Squeeze the juice from half a lime.
Peel garlic and squeeze through garlic press.
Mix together avocado, lime juice and garlic.
If the avocado isn’t that ripe, blend the mixture in a blender.
Serve and enjoy.

guacamole

I was pleased to see that the power pods are 100% natural ingredients. They are free from oil, preservatives, additives and refined sugar and are also gluten free. The products were all long-dated, best before December 2021 and they have been handmade in the UK. The boxes indicate that you can make your meal for 4 people in just 30 minutes. And they also show how mild or spicy each mix is.

The outer box was nicely sized to fit through a letterbox, so no missing a parcel if your delivery arrives when you are out. And look how well packed it is, certainly no excess packaging.

Spice Power Pods

It is a nice touch to have a recipe suggestion on each packet, plus there are plenty more recipe ideas on The Spice Pioneer website. The power pods can be purchased individually or as a subscription. All are reasonably priced.

Do take a look at The Spice Pioneer website to see the rest of their products. They also sell a range of recipe boxes and gin infusion kits. Great gifts for foodies. Every purchase contributes to their tree planting in the Scottish Highlands, which definitely gets my seal of approval.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a starter set of spice power pods like I received from The Spice Pioneer to one lucky winner. You’ll certainly be able to cook some great easy meals with these.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your recipe suggestions using any of these products. I’m going to make chicken lollipops next, so check back soon to see that recipe.

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Macadamia Energy Bites

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I do enjoy cooking, so I was very pleased to receive the following selection of products from Buy Whole Foods Online free to review.

Organic Carob Powder 500g
Ceylon Cinnamon Powder (True) 250g
Organic Amla Powder 125g
Raw Wild Flower Bulgarian Honey 900g
Macadamia Nut Halves, Raw 250g

I had already formulated a tentative recipe idea in my head when I chose this selection which was to make some healthy raw energy snacks.

I do like this brand and have previously blogged some TVP meal recipes and my healthy yummy chocolate puds, made using their products. However this was back near the start of this year, so I was keen to see whether they would have taken on board my packaging suggestions, as I hadn’t had any feedback.

I was also pleased to see that everything was long-dated, with best before dates of October 2020 and beyond. Even the nuts, which was quite a pleasant surprise to me.

Buy Whole Foods Online products

Now let me tell you a little about these products, especially if like me, you get confused between cocoa, cacao and carob. Carob powder is produced by grinding the dried carob pods into a powder. I have now discovered that unlike cacao and cocoa, carob is naturally caffeine-free and much lower in fat than other forms of chocolate, plus it has a naturally sweet flavour. And 2 tablespoons contains almost 20% of your fibre RDA. It is also a form of calcium, which is great news for the bones as well as the taste buds!

Amla powder is something I hadn’t heard of previously. I have now discovered that it is made from drying Indian gooseberries and grinding them down to make a powder. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and has had Ayurvedic uses for centuries.

Raw honey, unlike your average honey, is unfiltered and unpasteurised, so it retains all the precious nutrients which are normally lost through heating and filtering. Plus raw honey is a natural sweetener free from additives that other conventional honeys may have. And raw honey contains a considerable amount of bee pollen, which is a complete source of protein.

Cinnamon is a spice which I often add to the likes of cookies and buns, but it also works well in savoury dishes too. However I didn’t realise there are variations in the grade of cinnamon. Apparently this Ceylon cinnamon is the purest form of cinnamon you can buy. Packed with nutrition, there are a number of health benefits associated with consuming Ceylon cinnamon on a daily basis including anti-inflammatory properties and easing digestion issues.

Macadamia nuts are something that I buy on an adhoc basis for snacks. Ideal as they are high in protein, fibre and healthy fats. But I’ve also now discovered that they are great for creating your own macadamia nut butter. That is something I’ve never tried yet.

So let me share my Macadamia Energy Bites recipe with you.

Macadamia Energy Bites

Macadamia Energy Bites

Ingredients (makes 10 – 12)

125g macadamia nuts
2 tbsp carob powder
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp amla powder

Method

Grind the nuts in a blender.
Tip ground nuts into a mixing bowl.
Mix in the carob, cinnamon and amla powder.
Mix in the honey.
Break off walnut-size amounts of mixture and roll into small balls.
Serve and enjoy.
These may be stored for upto a week in the fridge.

Macadamia Energy Bites

These were absolutely delicious and didn’t last long. I used half the macadamia nuts in the recipe, so there is only enough left to make one more batch. After that, I need to come up with some more recipe ideas for the other products, particularly the cinnamon, which is a huge packet. I’ve got about a year to use 250g, when a small spice jar usually lasts me about that length of time. I’ll have to see if the boys like cinnamon toast. I used to eat that quite regularly, but haven’t had it in years. So please hit me with your recipe suggestions.

The honey is one standard size extra large jar, but all the dry products come in a wide range of sizes from 50g to the bulk 25kg.

Unfortunately no change in the packaging as yet. Apart from the honey, the products are all in plastic, even if it is labelled as BPA free plastic. I’m still hoping Buy Whole Foods Online will review their product packaging and switch to a paper-based solution. Or the fact that some of them can be purchased in sizes upto 25kg, maybe they could start selling those via bulk stores, so we could take our own containers to fill.

I do recommend that you take a look at the Buy Whole Foods Online store. There is a huge amount to choose from.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway the same selection of products as I received from Buy Whole Foods Online to one lucky winner. You’ll certainly be able to make some tasty treats with these.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your recipe suggestions using any of these products.

I’ve subsequently seen the most beautiful recipe for Rose and Almond Nougat on the Marvellous Mrs P blog, which I’m wondering how well it would adapt to using macadamia nuts. I’ve got a rose bush in the garden and had been considering the possibility of using the rose hips to make a cordial, but had never considered the potential of the rose petals.

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An eco Christmas Gift Guide ad

Disclosure.  This post mentions products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.
This post is classed as an advert because I have been requested to include a specific URL

It is getting to that time of year to start thinking about Christmas presents, so I would like to share some of my gift guide ideas. Regular readers will know that I’ve tried to adopt a much more sustainable philosophy this year, so I’ve been keeping an eye out whenever I’ve been in the charity shops. I’ve got quite a few toys, games and books as stocking fillers for the boys. Some of them even look brand new. Of course I still plan to get them at least one thing that they each specifically request.

Sous Chef salt plate

However you can also get some nice new sustainable gifts and when I was browsing the cookware section of the Sous Chef website, I discovered some great finds, which they kindly sent me for free. First up is this fab Himalayan salt plate. It comes in two sizes and this is the smaller 21cm x 10 cm. Salt is naturally antibacterial, so there is no need to use soap to clean the plate. Just wipe with a damp cloth, and dry well before storing. You can heat the plate in the oven or chill it in the freezer, and it will season the food you are serving on it. Just imagine frying scallops on it or using it to serve your caramel ice cream. What a wow factor at the table!

Sous Chef grow your own sunflowers and kale

And for the gardener in your life, there is a great range of grow your own products. I chose these grow in the bag Towering Sunflowers and Gigantically Good Dinosaur Kale (cavolo nero). The instructions on the reverse indicate that you start the seeds off in the natural biodegradable jute bag, then transplant the whole thing outside to mature. See I’m also thinking about the bees with the sunflowers, as I had been contemplating making my own bee bombs.

Sous Chef grow your own sunflowers and kale

I’m planning to make some homemade foodie gifts for the extended family, so the final two items I chose from the cookware range are early Xmas gifts to myself to assist in that process. There is a large Cook’s Muslin Square 93cm x 100cm that I’m hoping to use to strain jellies and steam Christmas puddings. Two things I’ve never tried previously, but I can remember as a child watching my mum tie her jelly bag onto a kitchen drawer handle overnight when making crab apple jelly. You never know, I might even try making my own cheese with it. Muslin is a natural fabric which can be washed and reused time after time.

Sous Chef Cooks Muslin

And after any cooking, there is the cleaning afterwards, which is where this copper washing up sponge will come in very handy. It is made by Andrée Jardin, a traditional French family business where everything is produced in small batches, using artisanal techniques. The company’s motto is Simplicity, Quality, Sustainability.

Sous Chef copper sponge

Do take a look at the Sous Chef site here https://www.souschef.co.uk/collections/cookware. There are so many more fabulous items. I’ve got my eye on the dehydrator. It would be great to make my homemade fruit snacks and vegetable crisps, avoiding all the plastic packaging that they tend to be sold in. The trays are stainless steel, so no need to worry about toxins from plastic either.

My other big sustainable gift suggestion is to give someone a memory. I’m thinking of paying the entry fee for a swimming race for my partner, but it could be buying a membership of say Woodland Trust or adopting an endangered animal via WWF or tickets to an event. The list is endless.

I’d love to hear what you would like to give or receive for Christmas. I’m especially looking forward to hearing about sustainable ideas.

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Move over hot dog, introducing the Chickfurter

I’ve been buying sausages from the local butcher this year, as I can take my own container to avoid any packaging, but I have previously purchased HECK sausages from the supermarket. Both the boys enjoy sausages. So when I heard that HECK were launching a new product, the Chickfurter, I was interested in the concept. Son1 is quite a hotdog fan, but it is a treat that he doesn’t often get the opportunity to try. Meanwhile son2 does not like hot dogs.

HECK Chickfurters

So I received two free packs of HECK Chickfurters to review. How would these go down with the boys?

First the nutritional side. They are gluten free like all the rest of the HECK range and contain 97% British chicken. Apparently the HECK Chickfurter is the only frankfurter on the market currently made of chicken breast, rather than mechanically reclaimed meat. That sounds good. I was also pleased to note that they had 9 days until the use by date, which is pretty impressive for a refrigerated product. Plus they are suitable for home freezing.

HECK Chickfurters

Each 320g pack contains 4 large chickfurters. I’m used to the method of cooking hot dogs in water, but the packet said to pan-fry for best results or to grill. So I opted to pan-fry them, serving them in traditional long rolls with ketchup and optional fried onion.

HECK Chickfurters

HECK Chickfurters

Son1 loved them and wanted two which at 72g each was a huge meat hit. I certainly couldn’t have eaten a second in one sitting. But son2 lived upto expectation and did not like them. He was in the minority though as the rest of us enjoyed them. I loved that smoky flavour.

HECK Chickfurters

And now to discuss the packaging. I knew that I would be compromising my ideal by receiving a packaged product but what type of packaging? It was a plastic tray covered with film in a cardboard sleeve. And at least the tray was not black plastic, as sorting equipment cannot detect the colour black. So all recyclable apart from the film, which could be eco-bricked, but it would be preferable to swap the tray and film to a more sustainable material. For instance when I buy frozen vegetarian sausages, those are just sold in cardboard.

Also by receiving the product via post, there was a lot of additional packaging in order to keep the product chilled during transit. So I would recommend purchasing in-store rather than online, although currently, the chickfurter has only been launched in Morrisons.

HECK Chickfurters

Do take a look at the HECK website to see the rest of their range. I was particularly interested to see they make a wide range of vegan sausages too. I was unaware of these previously. I’ve been eating meat-free more regularly recently and often adapt a sausage recipe to be veggie sausages for me, whilst the rest of the family have butchers sausages.

And I’d love to hear your recipe ideas for chickfurters.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The new way to drink Coffee plus giveaway

I’ve always thought that are basically two ways to make coffee at home, either using ground or instant. Of course there is a lot more choices to the ground method. Are you going to grind your own beans? Do you have a coffee machine, a percolator or a cafetière? We’ve always kept it simple by just having a cafetière, but it broke last year. I’ve been trying to see if we can get by without replacing it, since we usually only got it out when we had guests. And I certainly wouldn’t wish to upgrade to a coffee machine, as I imagine there must be a lot of waste with all those pods.

Therefore I was very interested to find out more when I heard via the Ethical Influencers network that there was such a thing as coffee bags. These passed my deal-breaker test with no plastic in the bags, so I put my name forward to review New Kings Coffee gourmet coffee bags. I had been putting teabags in the food waste bin for years when I first heard that most brands of teabags contain plastic. Now I either buy loose tea or better still, cut a sprig of fresh mint from my garden, and then compost the waste.

New Kings Coffee gourmet coffee bags

I didn’t even know coffee bags existed, but they definitely sound the way forward, being biodegradable. I was pleased to receive 3 free boxes of New Kings Coffee gourmet coffee bags to review, each containing 10 bags. These currently retail at £6.99 for a box of 10. There was a dark roast from Indonesia, a medium roast from Guatemala and a light roast from Ethiopia. They also do a decaffeinated roast from Peru, which unfortunately I didn’t get to try. Slightly ironic since my coffee of choice whenever I’m in a coffee shop would be a decaf skinny latte.

Plus points for the packaging they used to post me the coffee. The box had been sealed with paper tape. No sellotape in sight. I think this is the first time I’ve received a delivery using paper tape. So no need to remove the tape for recycling. Ideal since it can be so frustrating trying to pull plastic tape off parcels before the boxes can be recycled.

New Kings Coffee gourmet coffee bags

Their coffee is organic and fair-trade, two more ticks. The coffee bags are made from Bioweb, which is a 100% biodegradable product made from a totally renewable and sustainable source of corn starch. These can go in your food waste bin. Or home composting is possible for the bags but the temperature required to fully decompose them is not always sustained in home composters, especially as we enter the colder months.

But they are currently using individual sachets made from a mixed foil and plastic laminate to help keep the coffee fresh for longer. I’m not so happy whenever I hear about mixed materials like this. However they have taken the initiative to team up with TerraCycle, so that these can be recycled by sending them back. As they are a fairly new start-up company, I don’t believe there are any local drop-off points yet, like the way I take my old pens to our library. Plus the outer boxes are made of 75% recycled cardboard. And since they are currently working with their suppliers to find a more environmentally friendly alternative to the foil sachets,  I’d say that still adds upto 9.5/10 on the environmentally friendly front. So well done.

Hopefully they will come up with an alternative idea to the foil sachets soon, which doesn’t compromise on freshness. Perhaps the bags could be sold loose in a jar, as there is always plenty of reuse options for jars.

New Kings Coffee gourmet coffee bags

Simple to make. Pop a bag in your cup. Add hot water, stir, leave for 3-5 minutes, stir again, squeeze and remove bag, add milk if desired. And of course, you have been waiting for a verdict on the taste test. I enjoyed all three varieties, but I’m not a connoisseur of coffee, so although each pack describes what notes the flavour comprises, I personally couldn’t pick those out. I’m similar when it comes to wine.

However I experimented and came up with a variant that I absolutely loved. I tried adding one of the light roast bags to a cup of very hot milk instead of water. For me this was perfection, a real comfort drink. I’m also planning to try the same with both the medium roast and dark roast for comparison.

New Kings Coffee gourmet coffee bags

You can purchase the bags in varying quantities from 4-100, either on a one-off basis or with 10% off via a monthly subscription. The boxes I received have varying best before dates ranging between June 2020 to October 2020, so again thinking about those pesky foil sachets, even if they are needed for keeping the larger quantity boxes fresh, a box of 10 is going to be drunk relatively quickly. Even one foil inner packet containing all the bags which the consumer clips shut after opening would be a step in the right direction, rather than individual sachets.

New Kings Coffee gourmet coffee bags

Also I was very pleased to read that New Kings Coffee support the people and communities in the coffee growing regions, by making a donation to the charity, Grounds for Health, who provide screening, treatment and training to support cervical cancer patients in developing countries.

And I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 20% off any order at New Kings Coffee with discount code: YABM20.

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway 3 boxes of coffee courtesy of New Kings Coffee to one lucky winner. That is one each of dark roast, medium roast and light roast, each box containing 10 bags.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

Now to enjoy my next cup of coffee whilst I browse online to find some environmental projects which I could consider contributing towards to help offset the carbon footprint of coffee being flown halfway across the world for my consumption. Coffee is not a plant that can be grown here in the UK.

I’d love to hear about your favourite cup of coffee.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Organic Cacao Butter Buttons recipes plus giveaway

Cocoa butter (also known as cacao butter) is well known in skincare for its moisturising properties but did you know that it can also be used in the kitchen. I didn’t so I was intrigued when I saw it listed as one of the products that Indigo Herbs were looking for bloggers to review.

Once I realised that it is a raw by-product in the cocoa Industry which can be used to make my own sugar-free chocolate, I immediately applied. I’ve always loved chocolate and I have tried to convince myself that it is good for me, due to the iron content, as I easily get anaemic. However over the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to reduce my processed sugar intake, but chocolate is one of the areas I’ve particularly failed to reduce. Nearly every visit to my local Co-op, I still come back with a bar, patting myself on the back because it is fair-trade and wrapped in foil and paper, ignoring the high sugar content.

Cacao butter buttons

So I was very pleased to receive a 500g packet of Indigo Herbs Organic Cacao Butter Buttons free to review.

Cacao has been harvested from the bean for centuries and dates back at least to the days of the Mayan, Inca and Aztec cultures. It has many health benefits. Cacao is the highest wholefood source of the mineral magnesium, an important mineral for heart health, which is rather lacking in most modern diets. It is also a valuable source of iron and an extremely antioxidant-rich superfood. Plus raw cacao is a great mood enhancer due to the abundance of feel good phytonutrients it contains.

The packet states that these organic buttons are 100% vegan, a natural source of healthy fats and an excellent source of essential fatty acids. On opening the packet, the aroma was absolutely divine, like a rich dark chocolate. And here is a birds-eye view into the packet. You can see that they look very similar in appearance to white chocolate chips, but that is where the similarity ends as these buttons are sugar-free. They are smooth to the touch, and melt easily over hot water.

organic cacao butter buttons


I currently have lots of apples and blackberries to put to good use, so I decided to come up with a recipe using these.

Apple and Blackberry Traybake

Apple and Blackberry Traybake

Ingredients (makes 16 slices)

100g cacao butter buttons
300g cooking apples
100g blackberries
250g almond flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
25g date sugar
200ml oat milk

Method

Preheat fan oven to 160 degrees C.
Line a 20cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.
Boil a saucepan of water and then turn off.
Melt the cacao butter buttons in a bowl placed in the pan of hot water.
Meanwhile peel, core and dice the apples.
Stir the almond flour, baking powder and date sugar into the melted cacao butter.
Mix in the oat milk.
Stir in the blackberries and chopped apples.
Spoon the mixture into the baking tin.
Cook on middle shelf of oven for about 40 minutes, (until a skewer comes out clean).
Cool on cooling rack.
Cut into 16 pieces.
Serve and enjoy.

This was very tasty and shows how cacao butter can be used in a non-chocolate recipe. However the texture was rather soft, so it would probably have been better to serve this as a pudding rather than as cake. I’ve deliberately kept the recipe vegan and gluten-free, but you could easily adapt it.

Apple and Blackberry Traybake


And of course, I wanted to try my hand at making my own homemade chocolates. Having been tempted to taste one of the buttons straight from the packet, I knew I was going to have to sweeten the cacao somewhat, but to keep it reasonably healthy, I wanted to add as little of the date syrup as possible, so I gradually added 5g at a time, until discovering that 20g was optimal.

Homemade Chocolates

Homemade Chocolates

Ingredients

50g cacao butter buttons
35g cacao powder
20g date syrup

Method

Boil a saucepan of water and then turn off.
Melt the cacao butter buttons in a bowl placed in the pan of hot water.
Mix in the cacao powder.
Stir in the date syrup.
Spoon the mixture into moulds.
Place moulds in fridge for an hour.
Gently press chocolates out of moulds.
Serve and enjoy.

Homemade Chocolates

Wow. Thumbs up. These yummy treats both tasted and looked amazing. A nice slightly bitter dark chocolate flavour. I shall definitely be making these on a regular basis. I used moulds which I had repurposed from advent calendars and Easter, but you could alternatively make a bar.

A 500g packet of Indigo Herbs Organic Cacao Butter Buttons currently retails at £12.99 and is also available in 250g or 1kg sizes. They have a long shelf life being dated best before December 2020, although mine will be long gone before then. Unfortunately there is no mention of the cacao being fairtrade. Perhaps that is something that could be looked into.

I also want to talk about the packaging. Regular followers of my blog will know that I began this year with the aim of reducing my household waste, in particular plastic. I’ve gradually broadened this to think of the whole carbon footprint in terms of my purchases and trying to buy more organic and more local products with low food miles. So the buttons get a big tick for being organic. I know the cocoa bean doesn’t grow in the UK, so can’t do much about the fact of the cacao coming from Peru. Just got to accept that. It is the same with other products that I intend to continue purchasing like bananas. One of the things I plan to look into going forwards is how I personally can offset my carbon footprint of these products having been flown halfway across the world for my consumption, with a view to contributing to some environmental projects.

So back to the packaging. Unfortunately there is no mention on the packet of how to dispose of it, which is information I would like to see all food packaging display. I think it looks like either a plastic or a mixed material, probably not easily recycled. It seems reasonably robust, so I will probably be able to repurpose it temporarily as a freezer bag. But what about after that? How about selling them in glass jars instead, or even better loose though refill stores.

I couldn’t actually work out where my nearest stockist is as there seems to be a glitch with that page. Every store on the map seems to currently be listed with a Bristol address.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a 500g pack of cacao buttons courtesy of Indigo Herbs to one lucky winner. Think of all the tempting treats you could make with this.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

Right I’m off to browse the Indigo Herbs website to see what other products they sell. It is thanks to them that I previously discovered my love of chia seeds, something that I now use almost daily. You may check out my chia seed review here.

I’d love to hear your recipes using cacao.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.