UK Food Favorites

Hello and happy Sunday!

On my trip to London the other week, I spent a fair amount of time in my favorite health food store Planet Organic, browsing, drinking in the good vibes along with my superfood coffee and, of course, stocking up on some foodie favorites. In this post I’m sharing with you some of my favorite food products, both old ones as well as new discoveries from the Health Blog Awards and Lorna Jane Active Nation day. (You can also find previous plant-based food product recommendations here and here 😉 ).

Let’s get snacking! 

Blanxart Chocolate

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This organic, artisanal, single-origin cacao chocolate from Barcelonan company Blanxart is – I’ve officially decided – my favorite chocolate of all time. I came across their bars at Planet Organic a few months ago, and was immediately drawn to them by the understated packaging and the substantiality of the actual product (who can resist a proper, ingot-like bar of chocolate?!). On my trip I stocked up on some 77% Peru and 82% Congo bars, and a square or two (ok, the whole bar on some days) perfectly satisfies deep dark chocolate cravings! I honestly can’t think of any other chocolate brand I’ve ever enjoyed this much. No flashy packing, superfood claims or distracting ingredients – just good-quality chocolate, pure and simple.

 

Moju Turmeric & Ginger Boosters

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(Image from Moju Drinks)

I tried these vibrant little shots at the Lorna Jane Active Nation event and absolutely loved them! Very simple ingredients – pineapple, lemon juice and turmeric / apple, lemon juice and ginger – and such fiery, powerful flavor. I loved them so much that I’ve made my own version back home.

DIY Boosters: For the turmeric one, just combine pineapple juice (I’ve also made a tasty one with mandarine juice) with freshly squeezed lemon juice (try it as you go along until you find the right balance for your taste), freshly grated turmeric and a pinch or two of black pepper (this increases the bioavailability of curcumin, one of the much-acclaimed active components of turmeric). For the ginger one just substitute fresh ginger, and again use lemon juice and another fruit juice of your choice. Just make sure to vigorously stir or shake before drinking. I love having a shot after breakfast, and I like to think it helps my immune system, now that we’re heading towards winter. [Also, I’ve started eating a little chunk of fresh ginger every day and am absolutely loving it – #gingerchallenge if you know what I’m talking about 😉 ].

 

Booja Booja Hazelnut Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

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(Image from Booja Booja )

This vegan ice cream was on my list of things to try during the year I was in London, but (feel free to virtually slap me) I didn’t get around to it. I’m one of those people who is very selective about when they enjoy eating ice cream – definitely not in winter, and probably not if there are baked goods around, as I’ll always prefer those. So, it was the best surprise when my lovely friend (and the perfect hostess) Lauren, whose couch was my much appreciated bed for two nights, reappeared from the kitchen with a tub of the good stuff while we were having a cozy catch-up. I was honestly blown away by how delicious it was, and creamy yet also light at the same time. I also love the straightforward ingredients (water, agave syrup, cashew nuts, hazelnuts and cocoa powder).

Booja Booja ice cream is also available in Switzerland (I’ve seen it at the Alnatura Shop in Zurich and L’Ultimo Bacio in St. Gallen – but I’m sure it can be found in other health food shops as well). I haven’t had the heart to look at the price yet, but at least I know where to turn to when I want a special treat!

 

Rhythm 108 Sweet ‘n’ Salty Almond

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(Image from Leitchy Creates)

It was love at first bite when I tried the Sweet ‘n’ Salty Almond dessert bar from the new range by Swiss company Rhythm 108. Without the kick of salt I might have found the bar almost too sweet, but the two opposing flavors are perfectly harmonious, providing sheer melt-in-the-mouth bliss.

The bars (also in the flavors Super Coconut and Hazelnut Praline) are currently only out in the UK, but I’m hoping I’ll soon be able to get them here in Switzerland!

 

Sun & Seed Walnut Butter

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(Image from Sun and Seed)

If you follow me on Instagram, you may well have seen this glorious golden goodness luxuriously drizzled over a smoothie or porridge bowl. This is probably my all-time favorite nut butter (well, at least if we discount peanuts for technically being a legume). It tastes like liquid walnuts, which, to me, tastes like liquid happiness.

Sun & Seed also have other raw organic nut and seed spreads. Their lightly salted pumpkin seed butter is delightful – and I went through their jar of hazelnut butter in a shockingly short amount of time. (Also check out their black tahini!)

 

Jarr Kombucha

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(Image from Jarr)

While somewhat late to board the kombucha train, I have become a passionate Jarr Kombucha lover ever since attending a workshop of theirs a few months ago. I’ve had one or two other brands, but they just don’t compare if you ask me. I love all the flavors (original, ginger and passionfruit) of this fizzy fermented tea drink, but the BEST one is the newest raspberry flavor, which is only available on tap at Whole Foods in London. If only I could get my hands on it in Switzerland!

Bodyme Chia Vanilla Protein Bars

(Image from Bodyme)

I’ve already mentioned these in a previous post, so I won’t say much more, except that they’re my all-time favorite protein bars. Good ingredients, 16 g of plant protein, delicious flavor – what’s not to like??

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading! Let me know if you’ve tried these, or what some of your food favorites are!

xoxo

 

 

Balance Festival

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Today I was back at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane for another great wellbeing event – reminiscent of Fare Healthy, but with its own awesome vibe. While I had an amazing time at Fare Healthy back in February, I learned a few things that I am pleased to say I implemented at Balance Festival: 1) less talks, more food sampling, and 2) not just sampling, but also buying!

This way I didn’t feel like I’d missed out on some awesome brands, rushing from one talk to the next. The talk I did attend – on brain health and diet by Kimberley Wilson (who proved she is not only great at baking cakes!) – was incredibly interesting. Nothing that I hadn’t somehow come across before, but it was good to hear it all in context, with the emphasis on what’s truly important. (Which, in case you’re wondering, is: omega 3s, lots of fruit and veg – especially leafy greens – nuts, seeds, beans, vitamin D, polyphenols; and did you know: eating berries boosts brain function 90 minutes after consumption! Definitely will keep that in mind for Friday’s exam – might make some energy balls using the Arctic Power Berries I got 😉 )

To keep this post as short and sweet as I can, considering my ability to babble on forever about these kinds of things, I will share with you the two stand out food brands that I came across, and two of my favorite products I sampled.

Stand Out Food Brands

Escape & Bake

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This newly launched gluten-, refined sugar- and dairy-free treats business garnered lots of “ooohs” and “aaahs” by the people gathering around, and it’s no surprise why. There was a truly divine array of desserts, from millionaire peanut butter bars and donuts to red velvet layer cake and an incredibly indulgent looking raspberry chocolate tart. Everything looked an absolute dream. I was literally in a state of distress trying to make a decision! I ended up getting a Raw Snickers Bar (unadulterated bliss) and a Raw Chocolate Peanut & Almond Butter Brownie (can’t wait to have that tomorrow!!). They are selling these two treats as well as some others online. Definitely keep on eye on this brand!

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The Vurger Co

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This was honestly the best burger of my (not just plant-based!) life. I wasn’t planning on having one, as I tend to avoid mushrooms and onion, but I couldn’t resist a bite of my friend’s burger, and was so smitten that I had to get one of my own. (Nevermind the fact that I’d just had a raw snickers bar and wasn’t even hungry). I had the “MLT” Vurger, with walnut pesto, rocket, sundried tomatoes and vegan cheese. Every bite was packed with amazing flavor, and the bun was a dream. I know they also do a truffle mac & cheese (also fully plant-based), which I’m dying to try. Definitely check out where they pop up next – their food is too good to miss!

Favorite Products Sampled

Mindful Bites nut butter – I was really taken by the Almond & Maca and the Hazelnut & Berries nut butter. Especially the hazelnut one, as it was not only delicious, but also truly unique – something that I think is hard in a nut butter nowadays. These nut butters are proper “treat” nut butters, for a slightly more special nutty occasion than your every day quick spoon-in-the-jar fix. The only reason I didn’t buy any is that I have already quite a few nut and seed butters open, to state it mildly, and they are a bit pricey. Definitely on my list of treats though!

Pollen & Grace – I sampled their Sweet Potato & Peanut Butter Flapjack as well as the Raw Cacao Protein Bar and was in raptures! I didn’t get any this time around, as the shelf life is not too long (a good thing, as they’re not full of junky preservatives!), and I felt like I’d bought quite a few things already, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for these in future at Planet Organic. They were super tasty and full of goodness! A fabulous, nourishing treat. (Note: the sweet potato ones are plant-based,  but not vegan, as they contain some honey).

Short and sweet? Definitely sweet for me – so many awesome food memories 😀 But as always, these events are about so much more than just the food. It’s the people you share the food with, the people whose eyes light up with yours at the wonderful things you taste and discover, the people who inspire you and those vital ones who will tell you if your mouth is covered in chocolate.

Hope you enjoyed reading, and if you happen to be going to Balance tomorrow, do check out some of these brands!

xoxo

Goody Bag Gems – Part 2

I’m back with more of some of my favorite new foodie discoveries (you can check out Part I here in case you missed it). Once again I am – obviously – not being paid by any of these brands, but just genuinely love these products and find them worth recommending 🙂

Almond Milk Yogurt – Nush

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Thoughts: Where have you been all my (plant-based) life?? This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! The one thing I truly missed while switching to a fully plant-based diet was yogurt. I loved having a pot of creamy greek yogurt as part of my breakfast or an afternoon snack. Unfortunately, soy yogurt didn’t agree with me and while I do sometimes have the odd bit of coconut yogurt, I just find it too heavy to eat much of. I had some Coyo in a goody bag once but I haven’t included it in this list because I simply didn’t enjoy it. (It was as dense as cream cheese and I couldn’t eat more than a few mouthfuls per sitting). So, what to do? For a long time I gave up on having a nice light plant-based yogurt… until now! This almond milk yogurt that I had in a goody bag from a recent Protein Baking Event by Livia’s Kitchen had the taste and texture of real yogurt!I had the Peach Melba flavor one with granola and berries and it was such a treat! I highly recommend it.

While it may not be the cheapest yogurt out there (at around £2 for a 125 g pot), it’s definitely worth it if you’re looking for the “real deal”.

Ingredients (Peach Melba flavor): 80% live almond milk yogurt (almond milk [almonds, filtered water], tapioca starch, carob gum, live vegan cultures), 20% Peach Melba (peach, raspberries, fruit extract).

Tip: also check out the other flavors: Blueberry (can’t wait to try it!), Natural and Caramel & Hibiscus!

 

Three Cinnamon Tea – Pukka

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[image from http://www.pukkaherbs.com]

Thoughts: I used to hate all things cinnamon-y (the only time I remember liking cinnamon as a child is with waffles and vanilla ice cream) and one of the most horrific things to me was the idea – and smell – of cinnamon flavored gum. Tea would have seemed just as bad if not a worse offender!  While I’ve grown to like cinnamon (especially in Christmas bakes, turmeric lattes and sprinkled on peanut butter covered apple slices), I can safely say I never would have bought it in tea form. However, from my first cup of this I was sold! It’s such a warming, sweet, comforting taste and it’s become one of my favorite ways to end a meal (a square of dark chocolate will always be number one – but who says you can’t have both?).

Ingredients: Vietnamese cinnamon bark (60%), Indonesian cinnamon bark (16%), licorice root, Indian cinnamon bark (10%).

Tip: If you like this, check out other teas from this range. I’ve also tried and loved the Three Ginger and will definitely try the Three Chamomile when I see it.

Extra Tip: the longer you leave the tea bag in, the sweeter the tea gets – after about 10 minutes you’ve got a fantastically, naturally sweet tea that perfectly satisfies post-meal dessert cravings (although I tend to indulge them anyway 😉 )

 

Organic Fruit Blend – Naturya

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[Image from http://www.naturya.com]

Thoughts: This is yet again a product I wouldn’t have bought if I hadn’t tried it first. I would have seen the 50% banana powder and 15% hemp protein powder on the ingredients list and put it back thinking: why do I need to add this to my smoothie when I already add banana and hemp? I have to say, though, that the flavor of this powder is fabulous. As you can see below there are some other great ingredients that give this blend an amazing tropical and sunny flavor that will cheer up even the coldest and darkest of mornings. I honestly find it a great way to snazz up my regular smoothie, as one teaspoon of this makes such a difference! I’ve just run out and I think this will be on my shopping list for my next health food haul!

Ingredients: 50% banana powder, 20% goji powder, 15% hemp protein powder, 10% pineapple powder, 5% acai powder.

 

Chocolate Lip Balm – Hurraw!

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[Image from http://www.hurrawbalm.com]

This last item is not edible, sadly, but I couldn’t help adding it to the list as it was in fact in a goody bag and I absolutely love it! Just lifting the lid and sniffing it – as I repeatedly did just now – makes me simplistically happy. The smell must go directly to my brain and light up happy chemicals. It also feels good on my lips and seems to really hydrate. Just make sure you don’t catch yourself licking it off! (Glad to say that hasn’t happened… yet). Also, I suspect it’s tantalizing for the people sitting near me when I reapply it in lectures – I saw a head turn the other day and someone seemingly sniff the air in an intrigued and puzzled manner.

 

That’s all for today folks – hope you enjoyed it!

xoxo

 

Goody Bag Gems – Part 1

If you’ve had a look at the What I’m Up To section of my blog, you’ve seen that I love attending events centered around plant-based eating and/or fitness. And more often than not I leave them with not just great new memories, but also a little paper bag of exciting goodies. These goody bags are definitely always a nice little cherry on top. (Who doesn’t enjoy, at least momentarily, feeling like a carefree kid at a birthday party again?).

For the companies providing the contents of these bags it’s obviously a great advertising strategy. This way they are ensuring that their products are falling directly into the welcoming hands of the very people most likely to buy them again (as I have) and spread the word about them (as I am about to do here 😉 ).* For me it’s definitely been a fun way to discover and try out products that I probably wouldn’t otherwise have bought. The ones that I’ve been most impressed with I’d like to share with you here.

The goodies in this first part are all from a Christmas Yoga Supper Club that my friend Lauren invited me along to. Besides being a truly lovely event it probably had the most memorable goody bag, as I discovered the following great products:

 

Birch Water – Sibberi

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[Image from: http://www.sibberi.com]

Thoughts: I’ll be honest, when I first saw this I was more than a bit skeptical. Birch tree water? I’d never heard of it and was unsure why I should be drinking it. Probably just another expensive but overrated product out there clamoring for the attention of health-conscious consumers, or so I thought. While I was right about the first point (at £2 per 250 ml bottle it costs the same as a liter of Rude Health almond milk), I have to say I was genuinely and positively taken aback by this drink. The best way I can think to describe it is that it was like drinking the purest, clearest, cleanest most refreshing water you could imagine – with a slight hint of sweetness. If only regular water tasted this amazing!

While this definitely doesn’t go into my basket every supermarket trip, I like to treat myself to a bottle every now and again.

Ingredients: 100% birch tree sap.

Note: Also check out the sister products, Maple and Bamboo Water.

Tip: Try this at room temperature. The second time, I had it straight from the fridge and I felt like some of the flavor was lost. (Just a personal preference.)

 

Sweet Potato & Cacao bar – Rude Health

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[Image from: http://www.rudehealth.com]

Thoughts: How can one not be intrigued by a bar containing sweet potato and cacao??  I’ve tried many different brands of such fruit and nut based energy bars and this one is the only one I know of with this genius combo. Now, you wouldn’t know there’s sweet potato in there, if that’s what you’re wondering, but the addition of this tasty tuber creates a really moreish texture and also intensifies the cacao flavor, making the whole experience truly satisfying. Definitely getting these again!

Ingredients: dates, cashews, sunflower seeds, sweet potato (8%), cacao powder (7%), cacao butter (6%), vanilla.

Note: There is also a pumpkin snack bar– not with pumpkin purée, as I originally thought, but with pumpkin seeds and apple and ginger – which is also highly recommended!

Tip: If you’re craving this combo but can’t get your hands on these bars, check out these sweet potato brownie recipes from Deliciously Ella (original – really delicious, but maybe not quite chocolatey enough, which is why there is now a “new and improved” version).

 

Wyldsson Promix

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[Image from http://www.wyldsson.com]

Thoughts: These little test tubes of goodness are an awesome way to treat yourself if you’re looking for something fun to eat on the go or sprinkle over your food for decoration. They’re little portions of trail mix intended for healthy snacking, but to be honest I mostly just use them for my smoothie bowls, as I find they add a really nice touch (not just aesthetically but also to the taste and texture). I had the Strawberry & Raspberry one in a goody bag and liked it so much that I ordered the sample tube package of 10, which comes with other exciting flavors like Organic Mulberry, Californian Pomegranate, Cherry & Dark Chocolate and even a savory one: Chilly Picante. I was also super happy with the service – the tubes arrived promptly and came with a short personalized message on the box and a free tube of the new Strawberries & Belgian Chocolate mix.

Ingredients (Strawberry & Raspberry mix): Argentinian peanuts, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, Californian almonds, Greek Zante currants, pumpkin seeds, strawberries (6.6%), raspberries (2.2%).

Tip: sprinkle these over your morning smoothies, porridge or add to your cereal for extra crunch, nutrition and color 😉

 

Chia Vanilla Protein Bar – Body Me

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[Image from: http://www.bodyme.co.uk – seems they’ve changed the packaging]

Thoughts: I love a chunky, generous protein bar with good ingredients and good flavor – and this one ticks all the boxes! I was seriously impressed, as not only was it absolutely delicious, but it also has the highest protein content I’ve yet had in a vegan protein bar: 16g. Not much else to say here except big thumbs up!

Ingredients: [all organic] plant protein blend (pea protein, sprouted brown rice protein, hemp seed protein), cashews, dates, coconut nectar, chia seeds, cacao, coconut oil, vanilla extract, water, sea salt, and – apparently – “a lot of love”! definitely felt it 😉

Tip: check out the other flavors too – cacao mint and cacao orange – as well as the vegan protein blends.

 

Stay tuned for more recommendations!

xoxo

 

* It’s almost too embarrassing to add the disclaimer that I haven’t been endorsed by any of these companies, as I should think it’s obvious 😀 but let me just clarify all the same: I have no personal interests tied up with these brands or products and I am recommending them purely because I enjoyed them and think they are worth sharing with people who may not be aware of them.