Category Archives: Food/Drink

Shopping Fairtrade Style

It’s September already and here in the UK, harvesting is in full flow.  It’s time to think about farmers around the world who toil endlessly – growing cocoa beans, coffee, cotton, tea, bananas, flowers.  I found out the other day that September is the time to celebrate all things organic.  When I think of “organic”, I automatically think of Fairtrade – The Fairtrade Foundation is the UK based organisation behind the Fairtrade trademark – although, to be fair, not all Fairtrade items are organic.

So, what is Fairtrade? Fairtrade is a global movement with a strong and active presence in the UK. There are over 4,500 Fairtrade products from coffee and tea to flowers and gold. According to Fairtrade’s website, their mission is “to connect disadvantaged producers and consumers, promote fairer trading conditions and empower producers to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control over their lives”.  Fairtrade’s vision: ” a world in which all producers and consumers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfil their potential and decide on their future”.  Fairtrade has strict standards for companies, farmers & workers  as well as ensuring that worker’s rights are maintained, that payment is made of at least the Fairtrade minimum price and that extra money is given to reinvest in business/community projects of the community’s choice. By choosing to buy Fairtrade goods, you can positively help farmers, workers & their communities.

Buying Fairtrade products is easier than you think – products are on sale in supermarkets, independent shops, cafes, restaurants, catering suppliers & wholesalers, as well as online.  I’m lucky, my local village coffee shop/book shop is also the local mecca for Fairtrade goods from companies such as Divine and Traidcraft.  It’s great to see the crafts, products, jewellery and clothes – they make fantastic gifts and it is great to have a browse.

Divine chocolate – I love the plain dark chocolate but I am tempted to try the Dark Chocolate with Himalayan Salt! Divine is the only mainstream chocolate company 44% owned by the farmers who supply the cocoa!  Other Fairtrade chocolates include Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Green & Black’s Organic, M & S, Rawr Foods, Sainsbury’s “Taste The Difference” White, Dark & Milk chocolate bars, The Co-Op; Meaningful Chocolate Company, Raw Chocolate Company, Traidcraft, Waitrose “Seriously” & Belgian range, and Zotter Chocolate.

Traidcraft do some fantastic stem ginger cookies – I devoured packets whilst I was pregnant with my children ( ginger cookies and lemons/limes were my pregnancy cravings!)  Traidcraft itself has been at the fore front of Fairtrade since 1979. The company offers the widest range of fair trade products in the UK.  They even do Fairtrade wine – but I haven’t tasted it yet so I can’t comment.  I can recommend their range of spices, dried fruits and rices; their craft boxes, jewellery, socks, scarves are all pretty and make good gifts. Their clothing range is pricy but having said that the Fairtrade ethos is fair price to the workers and to be honest I rather pay a bit more knowing that the workers are not young children toiling under horrendous conditions to produce a t shirt. I know that they are getting a decent wage for their labours.

I have included some pictures of the Fairtrade items sold in my local shop … if you wish to find out more about Fairtrade or wish to shop/browse Traidcraft’s goods online, here are some websites you might find useful:

http://fairtrade.org.uk

http://www.traidcraftshop.co.uk

Happy Shopping!

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

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Take 4 ingredients – Frozen Chocolate Bites

I enjoy cooking. I enjoy cooking meals for my large family. Over Christmas and other family occasions I normally cater from around 15 family members.  I love cooking main meals … but when it comes to desserts my repertoire is limited.  I can make apple pie, rhubarb pie, summer fruit pudding and… erm… banana and walnut cake.  Year after year, I churn out the same puddings! Looking at a copy of the Slimming World Magazine I came across a recipe for Gold Bullion Bites. These frozen chocolate-toffee treats looked easy enough to make, so I decided to have a dry run to see if they turn out alright and if they do, I thought that I’d make them for the next family do.

I bought all the ingredients, made the bites and all turned out well. So I decided to experiment a bit more with the recipe, and lo and behold I found a new dessert/snack to add to my repertoire – and the best thing is that you need only 4 ingredients!

So here is my version of the recipe…

Makes 14

Ingredients

  • 45g bar  Dairy Milk Chocolate (I used  Cadburys Dairy Milk), broken into pieces
  • 175g pot of SMOOTH yogurt (I used MullerLight Smooth Toffee, Mullerlight Raspberry & Cranberry, Strawberry)
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • Edible gold glitter/ gold cooking spray to decorate
  • Ice Cube trays ( flexible plastic ones that pop out ice cubes easily)

Method

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Once melted, remove from the heat, stir until smooth and leave to cool for a minute.

Quickly mix in to the chocolate 1 tablespoon of your chosen yogurt, to loosen, then add the rest of the yogurt. Add the cocoa powder and mix well.

Fill the ice cube trays – allow about 2 teaspoons per cube. Gently tap the trays to level the mixture. Put in the freezer for around 3 hours, until set.

When you are ready to serve as a dessert, turn out the chocolates and arrange on a serving dish, sprinkle with cocoa powder and gold glitter or gold spray.

These were so popular that I made several more batches and once frozen I put the chocolate cubes in plastic bags and stored in the freezer. Whenever anybody fancied an iced chocolate snack, they just helped themselves straight from the freezer.

I am hoping to try the recipe using dark chocolate and some new flavours of yogurt, such as Mullerlight’s After Dinner Mint. If I can find orange yogurt, that might go down well too.  Do let me know if you try the recipe and what chocolate/flavour combination did you use!

Linda x

Photos by Linda Hobden

Inspiration by Slimming World.

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Let’s Talk Strawberries!

In the UK it is currently strawberry season (from end May to July) and although the season is relatively short, strawberries feature heavily in the British eating and drinking calendar – from strawberries and cream at Wimbledon to strawberry jam making; from strawberry teas to strawberry cider! 

Famous UK jam and marmalade manufacturers, Wilkin & Sons of Tiptree, are well known globally for their famous Tiptree jams – I have travelled to far flung places and seen pots of Tiptree Little Scarlet Strawberry jam served at breakfast.  They have been jam & marmalade manufacturers, fruit and arable farmers since 1885. I live not far from Tiptree and Wilkins have purchased farms in my village since 1920 to grow strawberries and other fruits for their range of jams, curds and ketchups.  The farms have produced a mixture of fruit crops over the years: large strawberries (as shown in my photo), little scarlets, gooseberries, red & blackcurrants, plums, greengage, damsons & morello cherries – all picked by local village people and seasonal helpers and transported the 3 miles or so to the jam factory at Tiptree.  The factory is a great place to visit – it has an interesting museum, a gift shop/food shop  and a restaurant/tea room. 

Why is the Tollesbury/Tiptree area ideal for strawberry farming? Tollesbury claims, along with Great Wakering, to have the lowest rainfall in Britain, has more than 1600 hours of annual sunshine and regularly claims England’s top temperature (along with Southend) at least once a week during the summer months.  Thunderstorms occur on average 15 – 18 days a year, which can often cause damage to the fruit crops – although sometimes they are just lightning storms and the rain doesn’t materialise – I have experienced severe thunderstorms in Tiptree which have bypassed Tollesbury 10 minute drive away!

Technically, strawberries are not actually fruits because their seeds are on the outside and the fruits are not produced by seeds. Strawberry plants are actually members of the rose (rosaceae) family.  Each strawberry has on average 200 seeds. 

The modern garden strawberry popular in Europe was actually introduced into Europe by a French engineer in 1714, who, on a trip to Chile and Peru, was so impressed by the size of the strawberries in that region, that he brought back plants to cultivate in France.  Historically, strawberries were always considered an aphrodisiac and were often often served at a wedding breakfast with soured cream!

Nutritionally, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, as well as providing a good amount of fibre, folic acid and potassium. Strawberry leaves can be eaten raw, cooked or used to make tea.  Once picked though, unlike bananas, they do not ripen any further – so any strawberries that are dull, or have green or yellow patches are probably best avoided.

Medically, they have been used to help with digestive ailments, teeth whitening and skin irritations.  Unfortunately, they are a common allergen – especially if you are already allergic to birch pollen, as you are more than likely to develop an allergy to strawberries.  I do suffer from hay fever caused by birch pollen but thankfully, strawberries haven’t given me a reaction ( although raw tomatoes do!) 

My favourite strawberry recipe is : Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.  My favourite strawberry sandwich idea:  slice of wholemeal bread generously spread with soft cheese (Philadelphia style) topped with chunky strawberry jam.  Strawberries & Cream lunchbox style. My favourite strawberry based drink:  Iced Strawberry Cider…. cheers!

Do you love strawberries?  Do share your favourite strawberry dishes!

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

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An Interview With FoPo

In my last post I was talking about some new discoveries, including cauliflower pizza  and Tony Lozzi’s cauliflower bread recipe – using cauliflower in other ways other than a bog standard vegetable.  This week I’ve discovered FoPo – a company that powderises food products that would otherwise go to waste, retaining 90% nutritional value and vastly extending shelf life. Not only was I intrigued by the idea of food powder but the CEO, Vita Jarolimkova, just happens to be a bit of a fashionista too …. I couldn’t let this company pass me by without an interview… Hi Vita, please introduce FoPo…

Hi! Our mission is to give rejected fruits another life by upcycling them into nutritious, sustainable and tasty food products! There are now three of us working full time. Gerald is in charge of finance and marketing, he comes from a very entrepreneurial family and already had two dessert businesses in the Philippines. Ada is heading our operations, she has also background in nutrition and market research and her family runs a funeral company (no shortage of dark humor at the office). I, Vita, am responsible for strategy, management and navigating the complex maze of German bureaucracy – but originally I am a biochemist and I worked mainly in various research projects in Europe and Asia. We all met during of Food Innovation and Product Design master’s program, which gave us a backstage look at the food industry and helped us realize the problem with current food supply chains and the impact of food waste. It also helped us in developing the concept into a viable business and get a great network of great professors and experts in food industry to support us.

FoPo food powder is a simple yet brilliant concept – powderising food products that would otherwise go to waste. What inspired the conception of FoPo?

We developed the concept through a design thinking lab organized by the Thought for Food Challenge: How to Feed 9 Billion People by 2050. We were looking at ways to prolong the shelf-life of easily perishable foods, overcome aesthetic problems of “ugly fruits”, and to make a product that would not be at a risk of going to waste itself. We decided on dehydrated powder due to its long shelf-life, easy logistics, and versatility of application. It’s just as god as the fresh fruit, but undestroyable. 🙂

Food powders including olive & mango are among your products and on your website you feature some recipes using the powders. What is your favourite recipe?

My favourite recipes actually come from our customers – it’s amazing to see people being creative with the product. Someone just made homemade mango marshmallows! From our own recipes, O-love Olive Dip is great. You just need to mix a bit of the olive powder with cream cheese and voila, healthy dip for chips, veggie pieces or bread sticks. Also, Injust discovered the magic of overnight oats. Mango, pineapple, calamansi, oats, chia and coconut milk – simple tropical breakfast or healthy treat for afternoon coffee.

Out of the food powders currently available, what flavours are proving popular amongst your customers?

Everyone loves the olive powder, it’s a real best-seller. It has a very intense taste and is so easy to mix with salads, sauces, pasta, cream or cottage cheese etc. Among the fruits, mango is really popular, but it varies a lot depending on people’s interests. For example, our banana powder is great for vegan baking since it improves the dough texture and kids love the fact that by adding a bit of water and grated nuts to apple powder, you get apple dough from which you can make small edible statues.

How do you source products for your powders? What’s the process that the fruit and vegetables go through to become a powder?

We are getting produce from farmers, exporters/importers and manufacturers that has been rejected because of different reasons. For example, bananas cannot go into supermarkets if they are too yellow, a lot of olive flesh is wasted during canning process when the pit is removed, sometimes there is also surplus produce no one wants at the moment. The fruits and vegetables are then checked for quality & safety (no moulds!), washed, chopped or puréed, dried and powderized. We are currently exploring several different drying processes: freeze-drying, spray-drying and solar-drying to get the ideal combination for each fruit and each country where we produce.

What are the benefits of your food powder?

It prevents food waste, which also indirectly means it prevents release of carbon dioxide and saves natural resources that went into cultivating the fruits. At the same time, it preserves the taste, aroma and nutrition of the fruit, making it available for much longer time in very convenient form. Many people do not eat enough fruits and vegetables (86% of EU population to be exact), often because it’s challenging for people to plan purchasing and prepare fruits that need to be peeled and de-stoned. FoPo can be mixed directly to anything from yoghurt and muesli through drinks (juices, smoothies, yogurt drinks…) to creams, pastry, soups and cooked dishes. This makes it a very convenient and delicious way to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables.

As you are based in Germany, are your powders available overseas?

We take orders within EU through our webshop, but customers living outside of EU can send us an e-mail if they would like to get a pack as well. We are also planning to expand our products to distributors and retail overseas eventually.

Have you got plans to expand your food products/ powdered food range in the future?

We have just developed a recipe for crispy 100% made-from-FoPo bars that taste like candy but are made from our powders. We plan to scale-up to industrial production by end of 2017. After that, we have still more ideas in mind – functional powder blends for different occasions and seasoned guilt-free fruit and vegetables crisps. On a more futuristic note, we are looking into the use of FoPo in food 3D printing!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Quite atypical for a start-up founder I guess, haha – I wear mostly skirts, dresses and low heels in very feminine designs and wide range of colors. I’m a big fan of pastels and bright pink too. I worked in Japan and Korea before, and I still get a lot of inspiration from their fashion and make-up trends.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I buy most of my clothes second-hand and I also like to design and make my own. In Germany, eBay is a goldmine for affordable, barely used brand clothes and shoes and it still has the same thrill of digging through piles of clothes in normal second-hand store as you browse and bid. Zalora (online store in the Philippines) features also local brands and young designers, but you have to use a shopping service to order from abroad.  For brick-and-mortar stores, I like Goodwill in the US (e.g. Ted Baker dress for 12 USD), “Beautiful Store (아름다운가게)” in Korea (many local + international brands – I got the mint and black A.P.C. jacket that apparently sold out everywhere since Kim Kardashian bought it – for 8 USD), Don Don Down on Wednesday and Mode Off in Japan. And finally coming from Czech Republic, our local brand Pietro Filipi has beautiful, high-quality clothes for professionals at very decent prices.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Elegant backpack since I have to carry laptop, documents and samples around a lot, comfortable nude mid-heel pumps to replace my dying pair, nicely fitted black dressy jacket since I don’t have one yet, and I’d like to design something inspired by what I’ve seen on the 2017 runway when I have a couple days off during Easter.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes, I feel like they suit me better.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about FoPo.

www.myfopo.com
https://www.facebook.com/fopofoodpowder/
https://www.instagram.com/myfopo/
https://twitter.com/myfopo

Some interesting food ideas there using your food powders Vita, and  exciting plans afoot. I quite like the sound of the homemade mango marshmallows!  Dear readers, do you like the idea of the food powders?  What powder recipe would tickle your tastebuds?  Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from FoPo.

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5 Spring Discoveries

Following on from my December 2016 post “6 Discoveries I Made in 2016” (read it HERE) – here are 5 new discoveries I’ve made since the start of 2017. When I say “new”, the discoveries themselves may not be “new” as in “just out in the market new”, but in the sense that I’ve either stumbled across them for the first time or have tried them for the first time.

1. Cauliflower Pizza.

According to the Slimming World magazine, the latest food fad is cauliflower pizza. My first thought was, I admit, “yuck” but thinking about it, I like cauliflower cheese and the ingredients used to make that are essentially the same, just put together differently.  I then came across Tony Lozzi’s blogpost (Fit2Father) talking about cauliflower bread and his yummy recipe gave me hope for the cauliflower pizza.  Here’s the recipe for Cauliflower Pizza (slightly adapted from Slimming World) – serves 2 :

Ingredients:  1 cauliflower, cut into florets; 2 eggs; salt & pepper; 1 teas dried oregano; cooking oil spray (try Frylight’s garlic spray); 3 tab tomato purée; red onion, sliced; yellow pepper, sliced; 4 slices of ham, sliced; grated cheese (optional)

Method: Preheat oven to Gas 5 or 180C.  In a food processor whizz cauliflower florets until very fine. Tip into a microwaveable bowl, cover with cling film and zap in the microwave for 5 minutes. Add beaten eggs, seasoning & oregano. The mixture should be really wet.  Line a large baking tray with nonstick baking paper, spray with cooking oil & pour on the cauliflower mixture.  Shape it using a knife, wooden spoon or your fingers. Bake for 25 minutes, until base has solidified and gone golden. Flip base over & cook for another 10 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven, spread with tomato purée & top with ham and vegetables (and cheese). Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes. Serve sliced.

2. Silvaner Pinot Grigio Wine

No discovery post of mine can be complete without a reference to wine.  The discovery is not actually Pinot Grigio itself – I’ve tasted Pinot Grigio wine from Italy, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa … but not from Germany.  This wine is deliciously light and went well with my chicken dinner tonight.  I will definitely purchase this wine again – thank you mum for the introduction!

3. Italian herb secret

Famous UK cook Mary Berry caused a stir this week when she revealed that she uses an old recipe for making spaghetti bolognese using WHITE wine and double cream (and chicken livers & bacon).  Most people were outraged that she used white and not red wine – some commented on the use of double cream.  Personally, I add red wine if there is any in my kitchen and occasionally Worcestershire sauce. I think I’ll stick to my tried and tested recipe. However, a native Italian pointed out that Italian cooks don’t actually add herbs or garlic at all when making bolognaise….so, now you know….

4. Sheer Knee Highs

OK … knee highs or pop socks are not new.  Despite my day job being a hosiery merchandiser, and knee highs are a mega big seller in the stores where I work,  I actually bought & wore knee highs for the first time ever last week.  Not the sexiest of hosiery items I must say, but it was more comfortable wearing them under my trousers than tights. 

5. Drops Of Youth by Body Shop

When is a face mask peel not a peel? When it is a fantastic liquid peel such as Drops of Youth by Body Shop. This is absolutely fantastic stuff.  My Body Shop At Home gave me a sample to try and I was so impressed that I immediately purchased a bottle. I’m using it instead of a night cream – this stuff works! It not only deep cleans your skin, it works immediately, leaves your face feeling clean, refreshed, moisturised and soft.  It doesn’t irritate my skin either.  To use: after taking off your make up, apply a blob or two into the palm of your hand and rub over your face. The peel immediately gets to work. When finished rubbing, rinse off with warm water and dry.  Add night cream if you wish. My skin gets extremely dry but this stuff does such a good job that my skin is fully hydrated afterwards.  Excellent product.  Give it a whirl.  Apparently use it long enough and your skin takes on a youthful appearance…

That’s all for the moment dear readers! What do you think of my recent discoveries? Do share your thoughts 🙂

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

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6 Discoveries I Made In 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, I’ve decided to make the last post of 2016 one which I share with you some discoveries that I have made across  the board – fashion, footwear, beauty, food, etc.  These discoveries might not actually be “new” but they are new experiences for me 🙂 So, in no particular order, here are 6 things I discovered this year….

1. The Jack-it Bag   –  I love it as a jacket but it can easily convert into a bag.  Catch my interview with the brand HERE.  The jacket I’m wearing is made of velour and has a strong satin lining.  I’m looking forward to wearing it more in 2017.

2. Salted Caramel.  Since the end of 2015 when I discovered Tesco Salted Caramel Cream Liqueur and Wilkins Salted Caramel Spread, I have had an indulgent love affair with salted caramel throughout 2016 – cheesecakes, ice creams, chocolate – and then, at the beginning of December, I found this ultimate shower cream from Avon ….. Yes, it’s “salted caramel & almond” …..

3.  Chocolate Red Wine.  This year, courtesy of my darling husband, I discovered chocolate red wine.  It is a combination of 2 of my favourite things – chocolate & wine!  It is pretty sweet, smells divine and tastes heavenly – it is akin to port rather than your standard glass of red.  My new favourite “liqueur” to date.

4.  Contouring.  I was a little late in embracing this make up look and couldn’t quite “get it” until I came across this delightful contouring stick by W7.  It is a 2-ended stick with a highlighter at one end and a bronzer at the other – plus clear and handy instructions on how to apply on the box. 

5.  Slippers.  OK – not quite a “discovery” BUT I used to hate wearing slippers as I always received furry ones or memory foam style slippers which I felt were uncomfortable, made my feet sweat and I couldn’t walk in them! I needed to find a pair that I could wear indoors – and I found these leather Moroccan style ballerina style slippers from NEXT.  They not only look stylish but they fit well, are comfortable and I now wear slippers indoors! No more stubbed toes that used to occur when I walked about barefoot.

6.  Fitbit.  Coming home on a flight from Madeira in August I was listening to a podcast on my phone that was talking about the health benefits of walking 10,000 steps. It motivated me to move more.  A Fitbit was on my Xmas list but my lovely husband treated me to a Fitbit beforehand.  I love it.  I have gone from being a slob to being on the move and although I don’t always hit 10,000 steps every day I am pleased with the 8000 steps + a day I  do currently hit and my twice weekly 10,000 steps +. Love the turquoise colour strap too.

What did you discover in 2016?  Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos by Linda Hobden

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An Interview With The Sweety Guy

Is there anybody in the world who doesn’t like sweets (candies)?  From mints to fruit drops, chews to Haribos … a car journey is just mundane without a sweet to suck; on an aeroplane, sucking a sweet helps ease ear ache; sucking a mint helps to ease indigestion; sucking a sweet helps to distract when experiencing a panic attack….. as well as being a naughty but nice treat that puts a smile on everyone’s face.  My guest on the blog today is definitely smiley … he works surrounded by sweets of every description …welcome Damion, aka Sweety Guy….

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Hi my name is Damion Elson and I am known as the Sweety Guy, bringing a SMILE to everyone’s face. I deliver sweets locally and across the UK.

What was the inspiration behind the setting up of The Sweety Guy?

My inspiration for setting up Sweety Guy was from my dad. My dad is a confectionery wholesaler and as always been motivated to keep on going no matter what it takes. Also I love to bring a smile on peoples’ faces when they come home from a hard day’s work.

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From assorted mints, old fashioned boiled sweets to haribos and jellies, you have quite a wide range of sweets to offer. Early days yet I know, but what sweets are proving most popular amongst your customers so far?

The most popular sweets this week have to be Midget Gems and Fruit Salads. These are made by Lion, a sweets manufacturer based in the North of England. There are other sweets the same shape but they don’t have the juicy flavours that these have! These are the real deal!

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I’m partial to chocolate limes, mints & haribos (especially when travelling!) What are your favourite sweets?

My favourite sweets have to be Vidal, which are spanish gummy sweets.

What do you look for when sourcing sweets for your company? What is the most unusual “sweet” you’ve come across?

When sourcing sweets for Sweety Guy, I particularly look for good quality and they have to be very yummy! I have to be chief tester too!! The most unusual sweet has to be cough candy for me at the moment, here is a link to it http://www.sweetyguy.co.uk/product/cough-candy/

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Apart from the sweety shop where you can order what you like online, you have also launched the monthly subscription box for sweety fans – those who would like their sweets regularly delivered to their door!Have you got any plans to expand your range in 2017?

My range of sweets will expand every week from now and right into 2017 and beyond. I love sweets and I know a lot of people do too. Each month the Sweety Guy Subcription box will have different, surprise selection, so not only you won’t know what you get but you know they will be yummy!

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As you are based in the UK, are your sweets available for ordering/shipping overseas?

Yes, I am based in the UK. My sweets are available for overseas ordering/shipping if required.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

My outfit is usually yellow Levi cords with a checked shirt and black shoes for meetings. My casual outfit consists of jeans and usually a super hero t-shirt or my Sweety Guy one! 😉

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

My favourite shop has to be TK MAXX because of the unique products they sell and the fact they only get a select few of the same product. One of my favourite online shops as to be Lomography. I love the nostalgia of the cameras and I am really keen on video production.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

I really could do with a new winter coat but thinking of going for something totally different than my standard parka.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes seem to be more comfortable for me.

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Your Links:

Sweety Guy website http://www.sweetyguy.co.uk/
Sweety Guy Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/SweetyGuyDamion/
Sweety Guy Twitter https://twitter.com/sweetyguybfd
Sweety Guy YouTube https://www.youtube.com/c/sweetyguycouk

Thanks Damion! We wish your business the sweetest success for 2017 and beyond! So, dear readers, do you have a favourite sweet (candy)?  Drop me a comment, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Damion Elson.

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An Interview with The Goodness Project

Is there such a thing as a healthy office snack? In the office I worked at as a teenager, the tea lady came round with our morning coffee & afternoon tea with a range of calorie laden cakes, biscuits, crisps & sandwich … with a few pieces of fruit that had seen better days! My guest on the blog today is Anna Szanto, co founder & MD of The Goodness Project, the ultra convenient healthy office snack & fruit delivery service.  I caught up with Anna recently to find out more…. Hi Anna!

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Hello, my name is Anna Szanto and I am the Co-founder & Director of The Goodness Project. The Goodness Project offers monthly Healthy, Gluten Free and Vegan subscription boxes, gift hampers for individuals and healthy snack & fruit boxes for offices. To sum up our mission in one sentence, our aim is to help people to make the right decision towards a more conscious eating and lifestyle and to connect health-conscious brands with their customers.

The Goodness Project is a simple yet brilliant concept. What inspired the conception of The Goodness Project?

I have always been very passionate about healthy eating and in late 2013 me and my business partner have decided to launch the first healthy subscription box service in the UK, that focuses on organic and natural products. This proved to be very popular within the wellness scene and in time our customers started to ask for one-off gift boxes that they could gift, so shortly after, we have launched a range of vegan and gluten-free gift hampers. Using our expertise, this year we have also started tapping into the corporate market and we are determined to change unhealthy snacking habits of employees by supplying healthier snack alternatives and fresh fruit boxes to offices across the UK. We also have big plans: In the next three years we would like The Goodness Project to become the UK’s biggest food gift service in the free from segment and see our gift boxes and hampers stocked by mayor retailers.

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From assorted nut mixes to protein bars & healthy alternatives to crisps; as well as catering for all dietary requirements – vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free – What snacks are proving most popular amongst your customers?

Our customers are very health conscious, so they love everything that is not only tasty, but also good for them. However raw vegan chocolate and popcorn are proving most popular amongst our customers – they can’t seem to get enough!

I’m partial to the granola & protein type bars. What are your favourite snacks?

Great choice Linda, granola & protein bars are great to curb the 3 pm carvings and also really popular at the moment. I personally love nuts and absolutely adore anything with peanut butter. A few apple slices with nut butter – you can’t beat this healthy snack!

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What do you look for when sourcing products for your service? What is the most unusual “snack” you’ve come across?

Our whole team is always on the lookout for the latest snacks. We have very good relationships with our wholesalers and we constantly search the internet, social media for new products. We also get many companies approaching us with their products, so we always have the newest snacks in stock. Over the years we have developed a unique set of guidelines for our curation process to ensure only authentic products are featured in our boxes and hampers. Each product must fall into one or more of these categories: organic, vegan, gluten-free, fair-trade, environmentally-friendly, chemicals-free, cruelty-free, people and planet positive.

Most unusual snack we have come across? It has to be flavoured crickets. Edible insects such as crickets and mealworms have become popular in the last year or so and are now available in some health food shops. Although it is an environmentally-friendly alternative to meat, as a veggie/vegan business, we won’t be stocking them I am afraid.

How does a company order snacks etc – are there set contracts or plans? Is it possible for individuals to order or is it mainly offices/corporations purchasing, in effect, wholesale?

Our healthy subscription boxes and gift hampers are available for everyone to order on our website. For offices/corporate clients we offer a bespoke service, whereby they let us know their requirements and we tailor a package to suit their needs. There are no contracts or set plans – companies can easily order one-off snack or fruit boxes for events or set up a regular delivery with us; we offer a transparent and flexible service. What I think is also important to mention is that we have a constantly revolving snack selection, so our clients won’t get bored when it comes to our deliveries.

As you are based in the UK, are there plans afoot to expand overseas?

We are London based and we ship our subscription boxes and hampers worldwide.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I have a functional, minimalist wardrobe. Most of the days you’ll probably find me skinny jeans, white or black T-shirt and multicoloured trainers (my ‘signature style’ at the moment) as I move around a lot in the office and give a hand when our deliveries go in our out. If I have a meeting or presentation to attend I like to keep it smart casual, so I’d probably be wearing a combination of heels and jeans.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I absolutely love Cos, I always find something in their store! I adore their modern minimalistic approach. They offer edginess and clean lines for an everyone-can-join price and I find their garments comfortable and the fabrics long-lasting.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

As mentioned, I am obsessed with funky trainers, so it will probably be a new pair.

Boots or Shoes? ( & Why?)

Shoes every time! If you see me wearing boots it means it is very grim outside.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about The Goodness Project.

https://thegoodnessproject.co.uk/

https://thegoodnessproject.co.uk/shop 

https://www.instagram.com/thegoodnessprj/

https://www.facebook.com/thegoodnessprj

https://twitter.com/TheGoodnessPrj

Great to chat with you Anna and I wish you continued company success!  So, dear readers, do you favour a nutty healthy snack like me? When it comes to 3pm, just what do you crave to eat? Please tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission from The Goodness Project.

 

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An Interview With Infruition Water

Water! If my sons complain of  headaches or feeling tired or nauseous, my answer has always been “Drink Water!”  Luckily for me, they enjoy a glass of water and 9 times out of 10, it does cure their ailments.  However, I must hold up my hands and say that I find plain water just … well …. plain boring!  My guest this week, Carmen Hubble of Infruition Water, is on a mission to convert me! Hi Carmen ….

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Hello I’m Carmen and I’m the Brand Development Manager for Infruition fruit infusing water bottles.

Infruition Water is a simple yet brilliant concept – water bottles with an inner capsule that you pack with your choice of fresh fruit & herbs. What inspired the conception of Infruition Water?

Infruition’s message is simple; we want to help people drink more water, naturally. We launched the brand with this idea in mind and immediately knew that fun and creativity was at the heart of Infruition. Everyone knows they should drink more water and Infruition makes it easy.

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There are currently three styles of water bottles – sports, classic and kids. All made of 100% BPA free plastic apart from the classic,which is made of glass. Which style is proving most popular among your customers?

The Infruition Sport is the most popular as many of our customers like to use their bottles on-the-go or at the gym! We have only recently launched Infruition Kids but are already seeing alot of pick up amongst the little ones and hope that this continues, as it is so important to get kids drinking and enjoying water.

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A normal water bottle you can just fill up – so, can you explain how you can prepare your infruition water? Any handy hints?

It really is as easy as 1-2-3: choose your combo, load the chamber, top up and go! For a stronger flavour, slice fruits or leave the bottle in the fridge to chill overnight.

There are so many fruit & herb combinations to try from strawberry & basil to the more exotic pineapple with cucumber & mint. My favourite combination is lime & mint. Have you got a favourite? What was the oddest combination you’ve come across?

Lime and Mint is actually our most popular combination; if we have events we always make sure we have this on offer. The oddest combination we have come across is famously featured in our recipe booklets:  Avocado and Kale.

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Infruition Water is a great way to get the message across about the importance of drinking water – from the new children’s bottles with their cute designs to the sports bottle that fits snuggly into bicycle holders. Just how important is it to keep hydrated?

Our brains are composed of 85% water, and studies have shown that even mild dehydration can have a significant impact on mood, energy levels and mental performance. Researchers at the University of Connecticut found that mild dehydration in study participants led to alterations in mood, headaches, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. These findings, published in The Journal of Nutrition, were found to be more pronounced in women than in men (ladies take note!); and occurred both at rest and during exercise. Check out an infographic by nutritionist Naomi Mead on the importance of drinking water: http://www.infruition.co.uk/happy-hydration-10

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As your company is based in the UK, are overseas customers able to purchase your water bottles?

Yes – we ship worldwide. If you are having issues finding your city, town or country on our website,  just drop our customer services team a line and they can help you.

Are you planning to expand your bottle styles/range in the future?

Absolutely; we have jugs, drinks dispensers and frui-tea bottles coming up!

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Infruition Water.

www.infruition.co.uk
https://twitter.com/InfruitionWater
https://www.facebook.com/infruition/

OK …. You’ve convinced me Carmen!  I may pass on the avocado & kale combo, though! So, dear readers, what water combo would tickle your fancy? What are your water thoughts?  Do tell!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Infruition Water.

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The Life Negroni

Few cocktails have achieved cult status – but Negroni is one of them – probably due to its stylish Italian association, seductive taste and its fascinating history.  This week on the blog, I’m honoured to welcome Leigh and Nargess Banks, authors of the fabulous book “The Life Negroni”.  This book uniquely delves not only into the history of the Negroni, but also gives tips on composing the classic Negroni and the culture that surrounds the Negroni cocktail.  So grab yourself a Negroni and read on….

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Hi! We are Leigh and Nargess Banks and The Life Negroni is our first husband and wife team work! Leigh is a design and branding expert, working alongside companies around the world through Spinach (Spinachdesign.com) forming unique brand identities. He specialises in food & drink culture, luxury lifestyle and has worked with a wide range of companies from financiers, to boutique bars and restaurants, and fashion labels. I’m a writer of design, a cultural critic and founder of Design Talks (d-talks.com) making a living as a journalist, author and luxury brand specialist for publications including Wallpaper* and Esquire. I’m passionate about all things creative – be it art & design, cars & car culture, food and increasingly, cocktails!

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Your excellent book, The Life Negroni, published by Spinach Publishing offers an unique perspective on the cult cocktail Negroni. What inspired you to write your book on this iconic cocktail?

It all happened one hot summer’s night in Formentera. Intrigued by the sight of a deep red cocktail in a cool bar on this paradise Spanish island, we asked the bartender for the name. ‘The Negroni,’ he smiled as we watched him expertly combined sweet vermouth, bitters and gin over ice cubes, adding a juicy wedge of orange. The colour was intoxicating, as was that first taste. We immediately fell in love with the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, the challenging first note, the botanical aromas that followed… On our return to London, we began researching this drink, its history, its composition, the world that it inhabits. Each bar we visited and every aficionado we encountered – and there were many – unravelled further intrigue. We saw that the Negroni represents far more than a drink. The cocktail expresses a time in history… call it liquid history. It tells the story of architecture and design, of art and aesthetics, of fashion, of passion and free spirits.… And so The Life Negroni journey begun…

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Your book is very thorough and leaves no stone unturned – delving into the cocktail’s history, its ingredients, tips on how to compose the classic Negroni, interviews from aficionados and hotels/bars from around the world that champion the cocktail – accompanied by stunning photography. Was it hard to compile a book of this nature? Have you got a favourite part or chapter that you really enjoyed writing/researching?

Our mission from the start was for it to be completely unique to us, to be authentic, meaning we had to meet, visit and photograph, where possible, all the people and places mentioned in the book. We wanted to sample all the drinks, taste all the food we document. This was at the very heart of our project and something we are passionate about. So yes it did take just over a year to research, write and edit the book as we had to fit it into our other work commitments. It was, however, a hugely rewarding and enjoyable journey that took us to distilleries and bars around Italy, France, the US and in London where we met with some incredibly passionate and talented people. We hope the sense of adventure and discovery comes through the pages.

Do I have a favourite chapter? I love art and design and to be taken behind the scenes at the Campari headquarters in Milan to see the most incredible collection of Italian Futurist art work was behind thrilling… That said we are both crazy about road trips and our research for the ‘Negroni Grand Tour’ was pretty special especially behind the wheels of the stunning Bentley Continental GT convertible.

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How many cocktails did you have to sample as part of the research for the book?!

Ha! Too many to disclose 🙂

Spoilsport! 😛 OK then, so out of all the bars/hotels which was your favourite spot to enjoy a Negroni and why?

It is difficult to say as each and every bar we mention in the book offers a unique experience. For instance the bar at the St Regis Hotel in Florence, formally the Grand Hotel, is where, allegedly, the Negroni was first made popular in the 1920s so the experience is unique to the location. But then Bulgari Hotel Milano cocktails are perfection, Agostino Perrone makes a delicious Negroni at the Connaught in London, as does Aaron von Rock at the Lincoln Centre in New York (where our reporter got so excited she did a head stand!), and Frank Boxer creates fantastically simple ones at Frank’s Cafe & Campari Bar, the hip summer pop up in Peckham Rye car park. We suggest trying them all!

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Are you planning to write any more coffee table style books in the future?

Oh yes! We have a whole series planned…

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love human interaction! And as we live centrally in London, in Notting Hill, there are so many unique boutiques to browse through it leaves little time to shop online. I do, however, check out fashion blogs for inspiration, and in terms of following design trends worldwide, I am always online.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about The Life Negroni

Our book is on sale from Spinach at Thelifenegroni.com, and we’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Thelifenegroni where we post daily updates. Please #Thelifenegroni.

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Thank you Leigh & Nargess for the interesting chat.  I think this has to be the ultimate Valentines Day gift for your stylish sweetheart and a must have coffee table book for Negroni fans.  Who knew that a cocktail could be so interesting?! So dear readers, now that I’ve got your tastebuds going, tell me … What’s your all-time favourite cocktail? Have you got any cocktail based stories to tell? Where is your favourite cocktail bar? I’d love to know, so comment below!

Until next time, ciao! 

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Leigh & Nargress Banks.

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