Tag Archives: vegan

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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Boostology here to give you and the planet a boost

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

Regular followers of my blog will know that I am passionate about the environment and keen to support small independent UK businesses who are of a similar mindset to me. Boostology+ is a brand who caught my eye recently and they have now sent me a liquid hand soap in a glass bottle free to review.

Boostology liquid soap

These days where possible I buy loose bar soap as the best zero waste option. However there are plenty of reasons when only a bottle of liquid soap will do and I’m not just talking hand wash because of coronavirus. For example how about when you have been touching raw meat or someone in the household has a skin infection or for guests. Or it could just be a space issue, as the wash basin in our downstairs toilet, is too small to balance a soap dish, (see photo further down). Previously I’ve only seen liquid soap in  plastic bottles, so I was delighted to find this in an attractive amber glass bottle.

Boostology packaging

Dispatch was very prompt and the package was carefully packed with a prominent fragile warning sticker. Another label inside described how it is an eco-friendly parcel, telling the customer that the box and brown paper packing tape can be recycled together. Also that the natural starch beads are biodegradable and compostable. Thumbs up!

Boostology packaging

Looking at the glass bottle, I was very pleased to see how easy the pump mechanism is to open and close. Opening pump-operated bottles is something that has defeated me on several occasions in the past. Or it could just be me, as also trigger spray bottles seem to stop working for me about half way through most bottles, but that is a problem to resolve another day. The pump is the only component which is still plastic, so it would be great if Boostology+ could perhaps introduce a liquid soap refill option with a metal lid to the range, for returning customers to purchase.

Moving on to the soap itself, I found it lathers up well and the peppermint and eucalyptus fragrance is amazing. I love it, and big plus point, you would certainly know if your kids say they have washed their hands but haven’t actually done so. They also stock a hand sanitiser in the same flavour.

Boostology liquid soap

I’m a firm believer in using one product for multiple purposes, so I also tried this in the shower as well as for hand-washing. It is absolutely brilliant in the shower, my skin felt really moisturised. And the Boostology+ tagline of each product is designed to give you, and the planet, a boost really comes into its own, as it gave me a fab boost especially the aroma which left me feeling tingly and revitalised, ready for the day. Great feeling for well-being. The product’s name Revive is spot on in this regard. I shall be trying it on my hair next.

It is a convenient 250ml size, made of 100% natural ingredients including 25% organic ingredients, essential oils and coconut oil. Plus it is palm free, vegan, cruelty free and handmade. The coconut oil will provide antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. There are 5 symbols on the bottle for things like vegan, but I’m not sure what the second one down means, so it would be helpful to be able to match these symbols against meanings on the product webpage. Yes it is more expensive than you would pay for soap in a supermarket, but look at all its qualities that I have listed above. I would certainly be more than happy to buy this and support a small independent UK business.

Boostology liquid soap

This product in its beautiful amber glass bottle would make a lovely gift for a friend. Also a helpful nudge in showing options for reducing plastic, if they are not already taking steps in that direction. Boostology+ has lots more great gifts in the range besides natural skincare, like jewellery, candles, face masks, diffusers and essential oils. Do take a look at the full range on their website, which is extra user-friendly with its filtering options by category, occasion, speciality or values. Each of their gifts is kind to you and has minimal impact on the environment. The range encompasses natural, organic, vegan, plastic free, handmade, reusable and made in the UK. They also offer a 60 day refund policy.

Boostology liquid soap

Having tried the Revive soap, I’m now very tempted to try their volcanic potpourri in the same peppermint and eucalyptus scent, a product sold exclusively by Boostology+ I did have to swap to browsing on my phone to discover this, as the drop down list of six scents seemed to be incompatible to view on my MacBook.

Returning to the sustainability angle of the packaging, it was great to read all the eco-information on the label and see how Boostology+ have taken steps for a plastic free delivery. But as a consumer I wish to pose more questions. Does that mean home compostable or would it require an industrial composter? How about an estimate of how long the beads take to biodegrade and what conditions are required. For instance, it partially defeats the purpose if the consumer then tips those beads into a plastic bin bag, ties it up and sends it to landfill. Also stickers are not generally recyclable, as the adhesive can get caught in the recycling equipment, so are the ones used here okay in that regard or not? If not, then how about warning the consumer to remove the labels before recycling. Yes they are probably better than self-inking stamps, but is there an even better solution? Maybe the eco-friendly details could be emailed on the order confirmation and “Fragile” could be hand-written.

Boostology liquid soap

I was very pleased to read that Boostology+ plant a tree for every order placed, no matter how small the order. A good step to help tackle the climate crisis. And they recycle all their office waste and use 100% renewable electricity at their HQ (from solar, wind and hydro-electric power stations).

So to summarise, I highly recommend both this product and brand.

And I’d love to hear your top tips for eco-friendly bathroom swaps you have made.

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KIND2 you, KIND2 the planet

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

Saving the planet doesn’t have to mean bad hair! I recently discovered the natural plastic-free haircare brand KIND2 via the Ethical Influencers network. KIND2 is a small, independent, ethical haircare company founded by Sue Campbell, because she wanted to make a difference for the planet.

plasticfree KIND2 shampoo bars

I received a KIND2 shampoo bar and a conditioner bar free to review. There are two shampoo bars in the range and I chose to test out the sensitive one as my scalp is very prone to dandruff. Their other shampoo bar is a hydrating one, so targeted at dry, curly and coloured hair.

Dispatch was quick and the packaging was also plastic free, even down to using paper tape. I hate trying to remove sellotape prior to recycling so thumbs up for that.

plasticfree KIND2 shampoo bars

KIND2 products are vegan and free from plastic, soap, sulphates, silicones and parabens. They are made in the UK, supporting local industry and lowering their carbon footprint. Plus you’ll see on their website, that all their bars have won awards.

Now I started using shampoo bars over 18 months ago, but I have to say it has been rather hit and miss as to which ones I like and those I don’t. I particularly hate it when one leaves a residue  in my hair which won’t rinse out and then causes extra tangles when combing.

plasticfree KIND2 shampoo bars

However this is my first time using a conditioner bar. Initially I still had open bottles of conditioner left to use up when I first made the swap to shampoo bars. I did donate any unopened bottles to The Hygiene Bank but no point in throwing away what you already have. And since then, I have been making my own homemade zero waste apple cider vinegar from apple scraps as a hair rinse. Something else that I must get round to writing a blog post about.

So putting the KIND2 bars to the test. I made sure my hair was fully wet first, before wetting the shampoo bar and rubbing it into my roots and through my hair. It lathered reasonably well, but note we do have soft water here, so I can’t comment on how it would be in hard water. My hair is thick, but I found it easy to wash through and it rinsed out well too without leaving residue. No need for a second wash.

plasticfree KIND2 shampoo bars

I then followed it up with the same procedure using the conditioner bar. This smelt lovely with a subtle aroma, whilst the shampoo bar was fragrance free. I was able to easily comb my hair afterwards with no tangles. And as it was a lovely summer’s day, I went out to the garden and allowed my hair to dry naturally. The result was soft and shiny, so I am very pleased.

I am sold on these products and not just because they are plastic free, including the box. I am putting it down to them also being soap free. Read this interesting article about pH balance on their website.

I found I could easily go well over a week between hair washes, with my hair still looking clean and glossy, which was unheard of before I swapped to shampoo bars. The box indicates that one 80g shampoo bar equates to two 250ml bottles, which should be around 60 washes. So great value for money as well as for the environment at £12.50 for a bar. Similarly the conditioner bar should last for 80 washes. Wow that is just 1g per wash.

plasticfree KIND2 shampoo bars

These numbers do depend on you allowing the bars to dry out between washes. When I first swapped to a shampoo bar, I didn’t have a spare soap dish for it, so to keep it dry, I took a Heath Robinson approach. I put elastic bands round the bottom half of a travel soap holder which I already had and balanced the shampoo bar on this. This works fine, but I do love the look of all the sustainable soap dishes that KIND2 also sell. They have ceramic, enamel and wood soap dishes available.

plasticfree KIND2 shampoo bars

And just to let the gents know that the box says that the shampoo bar is great as a beard wash too. Also the ingredients in KIND2 shampoo bars and conditioner bars should be gentle enough for children of 5 years and over. So suitable for all the family.

Regular readers of my blog will be aware from my series of posts on reducing waste that I am doing my best to reduce my use of plastic. So KIND2 scores full marks from me on this front and I am more than happy to recommend this brand. If you haven’t tried a shampoo bar yet, then give it a whirl. Plus if you sign up to the KIND2 newsletter, you’ll get a 10% discount off your first order, along with other special offers.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition courtesy of KIND2 to giveaway a shampoo bar and a conditioner bar to one lucky winner.
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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 what is your favourite product from KIND2 or your suggestions for additions to the range. And how about sharing your top tips for eco-friendly bathroom swaps you have made.

The only thing now for me still to sort out is a post-lockdown hair cut. However I’ve heard several non-eco friendly tales of disposable towels and gowns. So I am torn between wanting a haircut, but not with lots of single use plastic involved. What has anyone else’s experience been?

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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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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.

Free From Fellows sweets review and giveaway

For the last few years, I have become more aware of how bad sugar can be for us. It is known to be one of the worst foods for a variety of common diseases like arthritis, cancer and autism. I enjoy sweet treats far too much to eliminate them, but I do try my best now to reduce my sugar intake. I’m now buying less refined sugar and opting to purchase the likes of date sugar or coconut sugar instead. I’ve made a few little changes like always having fruit with my porridge instead of sugar and sometimes opting for something like a cheese scone or slice of fruit bread rather than cake.

Now although I feel like I personally am gradually winning the battle against sugar, it is a different story when it comes to my youngest son. He is such a fussy eater and so skinny compared to his brother, but he does have a sweet tooth. So we do have sweet treats in the store cupboard for him to help himself to, as I don’t aways have time to bake and sometimes he rejects my lower sugar baking anyhow. And one thing he has always been partial to is the likes of Haribo.

Free From Fellows sweets

So I was delighted when Free From Fellows contacted me, asking if I would like to review their sweet range. They sent me 9 free packs of their sweets along with a Utopia preserving jar. I used this to make a very retro look sweets jar. It looked just like a mini version of what I fondly remember being stocked at the sweet shop when I was a child. I particularly have fond memories of counting out chocolate mice from such a jar.

Free From Fellows sweets

The range includes the following six varieties.
Gummy Bears
Cola Bottles
Midget Gems
Rhubarb & Custard
Pear Drops
Lollipops (packet contains cola and strawberry flavours)

Their sweets are sugar free, gelatine free, gluten free and have no artificial colours or flavours. They are also suitable for vegans which is great as so often gummy sweets can contain pork gelatine. Apart from the lollipops packet which was 60g or 5 lollys, the other packets were all 70g each. All the packets were very long-dated to 2020.

However when I looked at the packets, I found they did contain other sweeteners instead of sugar. The 3 gummy varieties contain maltitol syrup and steviol glycosides whilst the lollipops contain isomalt and steviol glycosides, and the other 2 hard sweet varieties contain isomalt and sucralose. This reminded me that I had planned to do some research into sugar substitutes a while ago, but this is still outstanding.

Free From Fellows sweets

With all the choice of sweets in the jar, the boys took their time choosing which variety to try first. But once they had tried them all, everything got the thumbs up. And I have to say I’m struggling to decide whether cola bottles or rhubarb & custard is my favourite.

Free From Fellows sweets

Free From Fellows are stocked both in-store and online at Sainsburys, Morrisons, Ocado and Boots plus many smaller health food stores. I was just browsing in a small independent store called Honest To Goodness last week whilst on holiday and spotted all the varieties on the shelf there.

However one thing that was a shame was the packaging. Not only was it plastic packets, but the pear drops, rhubarb & custard and lollipops were all individually packed in plastic again inside the outer plastic packet, so an unnecessary double layer of plastic. How about considering compostable packets like a few brands are starting to move towards? Or since they were keen for me to use a jar, how about selling them in jars in the first place?

Free From Fellows sweets

One word of caution though. However tasty they are, don’t eat too many at one time. There is a little word of warning on the back of the packet that if eaten in large quantities, the sweets can occasionally give some an upset tummy.

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway 12 packs of sweets from Free From Fellows to one lucky winner. That will be 2 packs of each variety. What a sweet treat of a 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 about your favourite reduced sugar treats. Or perhaps you have an idea to share for an addition to the Free From Fellows range?

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

A duo of vegetarian TVP recipes plus giveaway

Regular readers may remember that I made some delicious healthy chocolate puddings earlier this year using ingredients I received free to review from Buy Whole Foods Online. I have now received some more products free to review from their online shop. This time I received two types of TVP (textured vegetable protein) in the formats of mince and chunks.

TVP (textured Vegetable Protein) or soya

This year I’ve been thinking a lot more about sustainability and one thing I’ve been focussing on, is can our family eat less meat and dairy? As an ex-vegetarian, I’ve easily implemented returning to a vegetarian diet at lunchtimes, either at home alone or in our excellent work canteen. However it isn’t so easy when catering for the whole family. My other half is very resistant to the idea plus we’re also restricted by my youngest son being very fussy about what he will and won’t eat.

I therefore decided to take two of son2’s favourite meals, namely spaghetti bolognaise and chicken nuggets and use the TVP to cook vegetarian equivalents. Last year we successfully swapped using shop-bought jars of bolognaise sauce for passata in an attempt to reduce sugar. What would he think this time?

So firstly here is my recipe for the Bolognaise.

Vegetarian Bolognaise

Vegetarian Bolognaise

Ingredients (serves 4)

100g dried TVP mince
boiling water
1 vegetable stock cube
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
500g passata
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
250g wholewheat spaghetti

Method

Place the dried TVP in a large bowl.
Crumble the stock cube into a jug.
Pour on the boiling water and stir until dissolved.
Pour sufficient stock over the TVP to cover it.
(Any spare stock can be stored in the fridge once cool for a few days for use in another recipe).
Leave to stand for about 20 minutes for the TVP to absorb liquid.
Once the TVP is ready to use, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.
Meanwhile peel garlic and squeeze through garlic press.
Add spaghetti to the saucepan and cook for about 11-13 minutes.
Gently heat oil in a wok.
Add garlic to wok and cook for about 1 minute.
Stir in the TVP.
Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
Stir in the passata and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
Drain the spaghetti and serve topped with the bolognaise.
Enjoy.

Vegetarian Bolognaise


And secondly the nuggets.

Vegetarian Nuggets

Vegetarian Nuggets

Ingredients (serves 3)

40g dried TVP chunks
250ml boiling water
1 vegetable stock cube
1 clove of garlic
1 slice of stale bread
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Method

Crumble the stock cube into a jug.
Pour on the boiling water and stir until dissolved.
Squeeze garlic through garlic press and stir into the stock.
Add the TVP chunks to the jug.
Leave to stand for about 20 minutes for the TVP to absorb liquid and double in size.
Meanwhile tear the bread into pieces and put in blender.
Whizz the bread into crumbs.
Tip the breadcrumbs into a flat dish.
Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
After about 20 minutes once the TVP has doubled in size, drain off any liquid which remains.
(This liquid can be stored in the fridge for a few days for use in another recipe).
Dip the chunks in the breadcrumbs, ensuring they are fully coated.
Gently heat oil in a frying pan.
Cook the nuggets for approx 4 minutes on each side, turning once.
Serve with your choice of vegetables or salad.
Enjoy.

Vegetarian Nuggets

So verdict on the recipes. Son2 was happy with the Vegetarian Bolognaise but the Nuggets did not hit the spot for him. Son1 liked both though as did I. In fact I found the nuggets delicious with my salad. The boys have agreed going forward that we will alternate between a traditional meat bolognaise and a vegetarian version.

In fact, both these recipes are not only vegetarian, they are actually vegan, so long as you don’t serve grated cheese with the bolognaise.

Here are the links to the two products I received. They come in a range of sizes from 500g to the bulk 15kg.

Textured Vegetable Protein – Plain Chunks (TVP) 500g – made from 100% soya beans.

Textured Vegetable Protein – Plain Mince (TVP) 500g – made from 100% soya beans.

I was pleased with both these products and am now thinking up my next recipe. I did ask the boys for recipe suggestions. I wasn’t too convinced when son2 said how about in a banana milkshake but son1’s idea was to put some of the mince on a pizza. I’ll certainly give that a try as I usually make him a pepperoni pizza, whilst son2’s pizzas are already vegetarian as he won’t try anything except Margarita.

I can’t comment on cost comparison, as I haven’t seen these products elsewhere previously. It is great how versatile these can be. It is like having a blank canvas as the TVP absorbs the flavour of whatever you choose to cook it in.

And one other point to note. Don’t misread the chunks pack like I did initially. I thought it was implying that one cup of chunks would need 7 to 8 cups of water. It actually meant seven eighths of a cup, so in the end I decided it was simplest to do a 1 to 1 ratio. However that was after deciding to only rehydrate a small quantity of chunks, as I assumed they were going to massively increase in size. In fact they hardly increase at all.

Finally a mention about the packaging. As it hasn’t been that long since my earlier post, I wasn’t expecting any change yet. And true enough both of these products were again in plastic, even if it is BPA free plastic. I’m still hoping Buy Whole Foods Online will review their product packaging and switch to a paper-based solution.

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 a pack of both TVP products from Buy Whole Foods Online to one lucky winner. You’ll certainly be able to get creative in the kitchen 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 either of these products.

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Family Fever

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

Have you heard of Wallaroo?

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

I’m always on the lookout for healthy snacks, particularly as son2 is always ready for a snack on the bus on the way home from school. He would very happily munch on biscuits or crisps, but I do prefer him to have something more healthy. So I was very pleased to be offered the opportunity to review some natural snacks from Wallaroo for free. And I love their unique name. When I googled it, I wondered how I hadn’t spotted the obvious – a wallaroo is a marsupial size in-between the kangaroo and wallaby. I wonder how they came up with that identity for their snacks?

Wallaroo snacks

I received one pack of each of the current range as follows:-
Gently dried mango slices
Gently dried pineapple chunks
Toasted organic coconut chips

So firstly the mango. Son2 was very pleased to see this as he already loves mango, whether fresh or dried. And this packet certainly lived upto his expectation. He reluctantly let the rest of us have a small taste. From my point of view, it is great that it is in a portion-controlled size, as son2 has been known to take a 100g pack of dried mango from the store cupboard and quickly scoff the lot.

Wallaroo snacks

I’m the only one in our household who loves coconut, so I took this pack as a snack to work with me. It was yummy and very moreish. However I managed to only eat a few at a time, so that it lasted throughout my entire shift. Great result therefore avoiding eating additional snacks. And the coconut is 100% organic.

Wallaroo snacks

Similarly, I am the only one in our family who usually eats pineapple, but son1 gave the pineapple flavour a try, seeing as son2 had hogged most of the mango. He was very surprised to find that he did enjoy it, although he said he preferred the mango.

Wallaroo snacks

Wallaroo snacks are 100% natural with no added sugar, salt, preservatives or sulphites. They are also vegan, gluten free and non-GM. And the mango and pineapple packs are each equivalent to 1 of your 5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables. However I must warn you that the packets mention that they have been packed in a facility which handles nuts, peanuts and sesame.

One feature that I was especially delighted to see is that the packaging is home compostable with no plastic waste. I’ve not come across such a feature before, so full marks to Wallaroo. We’ve all got to do our bit to beat plastic pollution. I’ve popped the empties in my food waste bin, but I can’t stop to watch them biodegrade before I post my review. That could be ages, as the best before dates range between January to March 2019. I just hope, that unlike my food bin liners which are already biodegrading on the roll and splitting, that the packaging really does last until that date for anyone who can hold out that long before munching these tasty snacks.

Wallaroo compostable packaging

Wallaroo snacks are available online with a current RRP of £1.45 per 30g pack and are also sold in boxes of 10 for £12.50. I do not know where you can purchase them in-store, although I understand that they are also sold in-store. And certainly their eye-catching packet designs are very attractive. In summary, a great snack in my opinion and I hope they add some more flavours to the range.

Also as a runner, it was nice to read that Wallaroo had sponsored a running event in their local community. Their snacks would be an ideal energy boost after a long run.

And I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 15% off all purchases at Wallaroo with discount code: AUTUMN15

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway one pack of each of the three Wallaroo varieties to one lucky winner. That is 3 packs in total.
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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 what other flavours you think should be included in the range? Son2 has suggested apricot.

With only one pack of each variety, there wasn’t enough to think about saving any for a recipe. However I would be keen to hear your recipe ideas using any of the flavours.

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Nim’s Kids Fruit and Vegetable Crisps plus giveaway

Regular readers of my blog may remember when I promoted Nim’s crowdfunder campaign last year. Well I am pleased to say that they reached their target and have launched their new kids range. And I was very happy to now receive some free samples of the Nim’s kids range to try.

Nim's kids crisps

I received one pack of each of the kids range as follows:-
Apple
Pear
Carrot
Cucumber

The boys shared the packs with me, so that we could do the taste test together. The apple and pear flavours were declared very popular all round. Son1 also enjoyed the carrot crisps, but son2 who is very fussy about what he will try, had already made his mind up that as he doesn’t eat fresh carrot or courgette, that he wouldn’t enjoy these. Meanwhile I enjoyed them all.

Nim's kids apple crisps

And I love that Nim’s Kids Crisps are 100% natural and are air-dried, not fried. Each pack is equivalent to 1 of your 5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables. They are fat, gluten and dairy free and are suitable for vegans and coeliac sufferers. They retain fibre and vitamin C. They are made in the UK using British fruit and veg where available.

Plus Nim’s have pledged to donate 1p from the sale of every pack of its kids range to the Hope Children’s Charity.

Nim's kids carrot crisps

Nim’s Kids Crisps are a great healthy snack either to send with the boys to school, or to have when I pick them up after school, or just at home.

Nim's kids pear crisps

Nim’s Kids crisps are available online with a current RRP of 75p per pack and are also stocked at some local independent retailers, cafes, garden centres and farm shops.

Nim's kids courgette crisps

Meanwhile, as I had courgette crisps going spare, I decided to experiment, by breaking some into smaller pieces and sprinkling them on my salad just before serving. They gave it a lovely crunch boost.

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a full set of the kids range of Nim’s Fruit and Vegetable crisps to one lucky winner and a full set of the original range to a second winner. To clarify, there are currently 4 flavours in the kids range and 7 in the original range.
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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 what other flavours you think should be included in either range? Son2 previously suggested apricot.

Or let me know your recipe ideas using any of the flavours.

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Family Fever

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

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