Elizabeth D Bakes – Vegan Baking Masterclass

This time last week, I was enjoying a great masterclass, held by the owner of Elizabeth D Bakes, hosted by the Piccadilly branch of Whole Foods Market.  Elizabeth demonstrated no less than 3 different recipes – pistachio brownie, carrot cake and lime tart.

My absolute favourite was the carrot cake, with it’s wonderful spicy mix and delicious carrots.  The lime icing really brought out the flavour of the gluten-free cake, much better in my opinion than the traditional cream cheese frosting, and for far less calories.

The brownie while delicious, was my less favourite of the trio, partly because as much as I would love to, I still can’t really get my head around chia seeds.  To me they look too much like frog spawn when reconstituted and they don’t match the flavour and consistency of eggs.

In contrast, the lime pie was a lovely treat – delicious, moist, crumbly and full of delicious citrus flavour. It came a close second to the carrot cake, and it’s nice to know that the entire pie can be frozen at different stages, so that you will always have one ready on standby.

The masterclass was a great eye opener for me. Simply substituting just a few inexpensive ingredients can produce cakes and bakes which are just as delicious as the traditional version, if not more so. The added bonus, these recipes tend to be a whole lot healthier and less calorific, due to their free from, gluten free and/or vegan attributes.

We are all given goodie bags, which included 2 Elizabeth D Bakes banana breads. I shall review the banana bread at a later date. I will also try the recipes given at the event and report back.

5-starOne of the best masterclasses of the year so far – fun, informative and generous  yummy samples provided. Eating cake for Sunday brunch can’t be beaten.

Quick Vegan Flat Bread – recipe | Champagne Twist

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for quick flat bread. This recipe is just as quick to make, and perhaps a tad healthier. I even managed to make an extra 2 flat breads with this recipe.

Quick Vegan Flat Bread – recipe by Champagne Twist

quick vegan flat bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 4 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 cup warm water

Method:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a food mixer, until a slightly sticky dough is formed.
  2. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel, and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the dough to rest.
  3. After resting, divide the dough into 14 equally sized balls.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a heavy bottomed saucepan or frying pan over a medium to medium high heat.
  5. Roll each dough ball on a well floured board, into a circle about the size of a tea saucer.
  6. Cook each flat bread in the pan, for a minute on each side.
  7. To keep the flat breads warm whilst cooking, cover a plate with a clean tea towel, and add the freshly cooked flat breads on top. Cover again with another clean tea towel to keep them warm.

Let me know if you try this recipe. Please don’t forget to subscribe for more recipes – Easter is coming up and I have a few treats in store 🙂

Thanks for reading.

320 Mhz Organic Rose Otto Serum oil – review

As promised, here is my review of the beauty product I mentioned in a couple of my previous posts.  Introducing the 320 MHz Organic Rose Otto serum oil.

rose-otto

A brand which is described as 100% natural, the beauty treatment was inspired by ancient botanicals, Botanic science and aromatherapy.  Having tested the face oil serum on the back of my hand, it is very fast absorbing, leaving the skin smooth, supple and moisturised.  I was particularly impressed by it’s rapid absorption and lack of any oily residue.  You only need a drop or 2, as a little goes a very long way.

Using organic Rose Otto essential oil, combined with cold pressed Moringa Oleifera seed extract, the serum support healthy cell regeneration, promotes well being and can help alleviate stress.

320-mhz

At £62 for 50ml, it initially seems outside many people’s beauty budget, however, I disagree. This product has the potential to last at least 6 months, and bearing in mind you only need 1 or 2 drops for your face and neck, after a few weeks you may find that you won’t need other creams and potions.

The only slight grumble I have is with the packaging.  The colour scheme is chic and sophisticated, but if you suffer from poor eyesight, it can be difficult to distinguish which product is which, especially as the text on the label is very small, and doesn’t stand out very much against the dark background.

Aimed at all skin types, using 100% natural aromatherapy grade ingredients, the brand excludes additives, chemical processing, synthetic perfume, fragrance or animal testing. As Valentine’s day is approaching, the serum could serve as an alternative to a bunch of over priced roses, or break the diet box of chocolates. The serum along with other products in the range can be purchased at http://plantmebotanics.com

Rating 4.5 out of 5.

 

Niche Co. Tea: Skin – review

I recently attended a Collaborative Store event in Marylebone, where they showcased their beautiful clothes range (which is currently on sale, so go and check them out now), as well as a beauty product, which I will post about on Monday, and a simply marvellous brand new tea range by the Niche Co.

niche-tea-2

The packaging alone is a wonderful feast for the eyes, and is made from recycled card. They are very sturdy, so can be re-used for storage after the tea has been consumed.

niche-tea

A premium tea collection, Niche Tea consists of unique, blended wellness teas, which takes full advantage of the medicinal properties of natural herbs, roots, petals and spices.

A brief conversation with the creator of the brand established that the tea collection was born, like most good things, out of necessity – a need to improve general health and wellbeing, and seeking an alternative to traditional black teas. Marrying the ideology of wellness with an added touch of luxury, the ingredients are ethically sourced globally, and made in the UK.

I liked that this company embraces the notion, what goes inside reflects what happens outside. Having the most expensive creams, lotions and portions will do little without the benefits gained from a healthy diet. I especially like how every aspect of this brand, from the bright environmentally friendly packaging to the ethically sourced ingredients, prove that it is possible to create high-end, high quality products, without it costing a fortune, or the Earth.

niche-3

I sampled the ‘Skin’ tea, and was immediately impressed by its delicious taste. Sometimes, floral or herbal teas have a disappointing bland flavour and a strong, often synthetic aroma that bears no correlation to the actual taste of the tea.  This is not the case with Niche Co. tea, the sample I tried was very drinkable, flavourful and refreshing.

 

For £10 you get 15 biodegradable pyramid bags. The Skin tea is described as a delicate white tea, paired with herbs and flowers thought to promote beautiful skin, including Burdock root, red clover, rose petals and rose hip.

Other teas in the collection are designed to improve hair and energy levels, promote sleep and aid digestion.

I highly recommend the Skin tea in terms of flavour, and hope soon to try the other varieties so I can report back. These teas would be ideal gifts for the tea connoisseur in your life, for people wanting a change from other herbal teas, or for those wishing to supplement their diets with a tea which may aid certain ailments. These teas are most definitely worth a try.

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

January Favourites

Ugh! Can you believe there are only a few hours left of January 2017? It has been an eventfully month, good, bad and very awful for some sadly.  But it was nice to see that a certain orange person isn’t getting all his own way, despite trying his best to spread false news and ‘alternative facts’.

Anyway, here is a short video of my favourite things of January 2017.

As ever, if you have any comments, add them below. Thanks for reading.

 

Vegan Life Live Goodie Bag – Review

Earlier this week I promised a review of the goodie bag I received at the Vegan Life Live event at Alexandra Palace.  Well, here it is …

First, a nice note with the large reuseable and recyclable paper bag. The printed quotes outside the bag were also a nice touch.

The inside of the bag held a number of treats, and proved to be one of the most generous goodie bags I have been fortunate to receive from many a festival or show.

  1. Linwoods: Milled flax, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and goji berries.
  2. Ape: Coconut bites – natural
  3. Vita Coco: Coconut oil, 5ml
  4. Sacla: Free From no.9 basil pesto
  5. Sweet Freedom: Fruit Syrup, 350g
  6. Naturya: Organic wheatgrass powder

Since the show, I have tested the goodies and here are my thoughts on each product;

Vegan Life Live: Linwoods milled flax, sunflower, pumpkin & sesame seeds and goji berries
Vegan Life Live: Linwoods milled flax, sunflower, pumpkin & sesame seeds and goji berries champagnetwist.wordpress.com
  • Linwoods: Milled seed and goji mix

This is a new product for me, and I have to say, I like it. On it’s own it tastes great, adding it to salads and cereals, it’s superb.  I think this would be a useful ingredient in many recipes, especially soups, breads and stews. It could also be used as an alternative seasoning. However, I wonder if making your own seed and berry mix would be more advantageous. It’s a great idea and versatile, but personally I think I would prefer to make my own.

Vegan Life Live: Linwoods milled flax, sunflower, pumpkin & sesame seeds and goji berries
Vegan Life Live: Linwoods milled flax, sunflower, pumpkin & sesame seeds and goji berries champagnetwist.wordpress.com

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Ape coconut snacks
Ape coconut bites champagnetwist.wordpress.com
  • Ape: Coconut bites – natural

The actual coconut bites in this sample pack are tasty, but I find the brand name very off putting. Dont really understand why anyone would call a food product aimed at the vegan market after an animal, but hey! Also not sure many people would be comfortable purchasing a product often used as a term of racial abuse.

Ape Coconut Bites natural coconut snacks
Ape Coconut Bites champagnetwist.wordpress.com

The bites are the size of 2, 10 pence coins, have a crunchy texture and a very coconutty flavour. There is some sweetness, but it’s not overpowering.  It would be easy to eat a normal sized pack of these in a sitting.  However, personally I would stick to raw, fresh coconut pieces, but if you like potato crisps, these could be a viable and healthier alternative.

Rating 3 out of 5

Vita Coco Coconut Oil
Vegan Life Live Vita Coco Coconut Oil champagnetwist.wordpress.com
  • Vita Coco: Coconut oil 5ml

It’s coconut oil! It’s brilliant! Nuff said! Nice and useful pocket size I can use as a hand cream whilst travelling. A fabulous thing I discovered at the Vita Coco stall was fresh popcorn cooked in coconut oil. It was delicious. The money off vouchers included are an added bonus.

Rating 5 out of 5

Sacla no 9 free from basil pesto
Sacla no 9 free from basil pesto champagnetwist.wordpress.com
  • Sacla: Free From no.9 basil pesto, 190g

As a pesto loving eater, I was very excited to try this tofu version, cheese free version, especially as I just happened to use the last of my pesto stash.  Yes, I usually have a pesto stash. It’s a thing. Don’t judge!

I tried it on a baked potato, and it was lovely. Plenty of basil flavour and has a good creamy consistency. With a sunflower oil base, I do miss the flavour that comes with organic olive oil and I think it could have done with a higher amount of pine nuts and a lower amount of cashew nuts.

http://www.sacla.co.uk/products/pesto/free-from-pesto/no9-free-from-basil-pesto/
Sacle Free From No.9 Basil Pesto Picture source: http://www.sacla.co.uk/products/pesto/free-from-pesto/no9-free-from-basil-pesto/

That said, as a full sized product, I think it was a rather lovely sample size and I have made room in my fridge for this little gem.  Nice to know I have lunch sorted for the next couple of days.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

fruit-syrup

  • Sweet Freedom: Fruit Syrup, 350g

A very generous size, I found this syrup extremely sweet, so a little goes a long way. I used it over unsweetened breakfast cereals and found it very enjoyable.  It’s nice to know that there is only 13 calories per teaspoon, but I only needed to use 1/2 a teaspoon. I hope to try baking with it, but over pancakes this should be great.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

 

Naturya organic wheatgrass powder
Naturya superfood boost organic wheatgrass powder – champagnetwist.wordpress.com
  • Naturya: Organic wheatgrass powder, 7g

I’m new to the whole wheatgrass vibe, somehow it missed me. So I’m particularly glad to give this a try.  I added a teaspoon to a glass of coconut water and the verdict – I would happily do this again. It gave a fresh ‘green’ taste to the coconut water, and I would say it would be lovely with apple juice, lemon water and an elderflower drink, I can’t imagine this being nice with orange juice, but I’d geive it a try and let you know.

Naturya superfood boost organic wheatgrass powder - champagnetwist.wordpress.com Coconut water and green wheatgrass drink
Naturya superfood boost organic wheatgrass powder – champagnetwist.wordpress.com

The only slight quibble, the powder is so finely milled, it does tend to go everywhere. But as the colour of the year is Greenery, I’m not too bothered as I can say it’s part of my new decorating colour scheme 🙂

Naturya organic wheatgrass powder - champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Naturya superfood boost organic wheatgrass powder – champagnetwist.wordpress.com

Rating: 4 out of 5

Did you go to Vegan Life Live? What did you think of the goodie bag? Have you used any of these products? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading, and please subscribe for more.

 

Wednesday thinking – editorial: Bees, butterflies and beige food

January 2017 Health and Wellbeing January 2017 Champagne Twist champagnetwist.wordpresss.com
Health and Wellbeing January 2017 Champagne Twist champagnetwist.wordpresss.com

We’ve reached the halfway point of the 2nd week of 2017 and so far from my perspective, it’s looking good.  But then again the UK is still in the EU and President Obama is still in the White House. With daily reminders of the impending doom and gloom in the socio-political sphere, I’m trying to keep my mind on more positive events. Hope the first few days of 2017 are treating you well.

The recent Vegan Life Live show is still foremost in my mind.  Examples include rethinking how I feel about bee conservation.

For years I have tried to do my part to save the little bumble bees. I have planted bee and butterfly friendly shrubs, provided safe watering stations, I have even thought about getting my own bee hive. But then I read this post on the Vegan Society website, and now I feel – well a little confused and very guilty.  I like honey, it’s one of my key ingredients in my home made cosmetics. I enjoy cooking and baking with honey, often as a ‘healthier’ substitute for sugar.  So how do I reconcile this with the negative aspects of the honey production industry? Answers on a post card please.

One of the substitutes recommended by the vegan society is golden syrup. Now I have an big issue with this, as I try to (but admit I don’t always succeed) avoid using or buying from any company that has or had historical dealings with the African slave trade.  So somewhere there is going to have to be a difficult trade off.

I shall research this issue further and will get back to you with my findings.

Beige food by any other colour would taste as sweet?

Another thing that got me thinking, was a comment made by London Afro Vegan on her Instagram feed.  She posted a photo of some beautiful food she made and shared with the audience during her cooking demo at Vegan Life Live. Esme, the lady behind London Afro Vegan wrote, “Please forgive … the fact that every gosh dam thing in the pictures looks beige”. It was a type of comment that we all say, that doesn’t have any deep, hidden meaning.

london_afro_vegan
Picture Source and Credit – london_afro_vegan (Instagram)

Oddly though, the comment stuck in the back of my mind. Why would anyone feel compelled to apologise for delicious looking and tasty food? Then it hit me in the middle of recipe developing a meal based on chestnut mushrooms and chestnut puree (recipe coming soon). You can’t get much more beige that this!

rice-mushrooms-chestnuts-recipe-idea

There are many misconceptions about vegetarian and vegan food being bland, boring and beige. However, there are many beige or brown foods in many a meat eaters recipe book – soups, cakes, stews, curries, pies, etc. Yet few seem to complain that these foods are bland, boring or beige.  In most cases, it’s the vegetables, herbs, spices and fruits that gives these popular recipes any notion of colour and flavour.  So why, still, do so many people believe that vegan and vegetarian food is beige, tasteless and boring?  And what is wrong with beige anyway?  If beige was removed from any form of diet, we would all soon be in trouble.  Our daily bread would literally be snatched from our mouths. If I turned around and said to my family, you can’t eat bread anymore because it’s beige, you know I think they would cry. Can you imagine a world without cashew nuts, almonds or pistachios? I think I might start crying too.

Maybe it’s just basic respect, I could never understand why someone would actively disrespect another’s diet. I would rather enjoy a conversation about food, especially if there’s a chance to swap recipes and gain knowledge of another cuisine and ideology.

As much as I adore Instagram, it concerns me that society as a whole have pre-described notions of what is good and what is bad colour-wise.  We spend so much time and effort on decoration and image, at the expense of how food tastes, or how it was produced in the first place. Yes, the more colourful a picture is, the more noticeable it becomes. However, we are also transferring this idea towards notions of what is good food. There is already a proven correlation between beauty and race in terms of colour, should we travel down this negative path with food too?

So please London Afro Vegan, don’t apologise for your beautiful food and your kind, generous nature. Thank you for your lovely ‘beige’ food and sharing your knowledge and wisdom.  Anyone who shares their food with friends and strangers is in my book, the owner of a beautiful soul. And the world can do with more people like you.

And to everyone else, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to continue enjoying my meals, whatever colour they happen to be. Anyone for seconds?

The CT Show, Episode 7 ~ Vegan Life Live, now live

Check out my video highlights of the Vegan Life Live Show.


And, check out my review here

Thanks for reading, please subscribe for more!

Vita Coco – Coconut Water with Pineapple – review

vita-coco-w-pine

I recently reviewed the Vita Coco coconut water and thought I should give the pineapple version a try.

I actually prefer this to the plain coconut water, for 2 reasons. 1, this product, unlike the coconut water only version, doesn’t contain any sugar.  I was surprised and disappointed to discover the addition of sugar to to the Vita Coco coconut water, and admit it has made me conscious as to how healthy these coconut water products really are.

2, the flavour is simply lovely – like sipping a non-alcoholic pina colada on a golden beach on a hot summer’s day. The sweetness is provided by the pineapple, adding a fresh flavour dimension without the saccharine aftertaste. I found it very easy to polish off half the 1L carton in one sitting.

Rating 4.5/5

Have you tried this drink? What do you think? Please comment below.

Thanks for reading

Battle of the Coconut Waters – Innocent vs Vita Coco

This is the ultimate battle of the brand leaders of the coconut water –

Innocent  vs Vita Coco.

Review: Innocent and Vita Coco coconut water
Battle of the Coconut Waters – Innocent vs Vita Coco champagne twist champagnetwist.wordpress.com

Which will win?

Disclosure:

The Innocent coconut water was sent for me to try.  However I purchased the Vita Coco version out of my own pocket.

Coconut water has become the staple beverage for healthy eaters for a few years now. It’s increase in popularity has sprouted a number of companies, all claiming their water is the best.

Coconut water boasts many attributes – it is a source of potassium, which contributes to healthy muscle function, and there are claims that it aids hydration – although I would suggest that most drinks aid hydration, but I won’t split hairs.

But, is there any real difference between one brand of coconut water and another?  Isn’t 1 glass of coconut water pretty much the same as another glass of coconut water? Now it’s time to get to grips with these 2 leading brands of coconut water, and find out – let the battle commence.

 

Innocent Coconut Water
Innocent Coconut Water

Innocence

Source: Thailand

Contents: 100% pure coconut water, from 4.5 coconuts

Shelf life after opening: 2 days

Taste: Nice, clean refreshing taste.

Comments: It is definitely worth adhering to the shelf life date, as I detected a slight bitter aftertaste after the 3rd day of opening.

Price: 1L carton £3.69 (Ocado)

Rating: 4/5

Brownie points: 10% of Innocent’s profits goes to charity.

 

Vita Coco

Vita Coco natural coconut water
Natural coconut water

 

Source:

Contents: 99% coconut water, 1% fruit sugar, vitamin C

Shelf life after opening:

Taste: Like Innocent, a nice, clean refreshing taste, but with a sweet aftertaste.

Comments: This is slightly sweeter than the Innocent brand, however after 3 days, I didn’t detect a bitter after taste.

Price: 1L carton £3.49 (Ocado)

Rating: 4/5

Result: Score Draw.

Overall, I couldn’t detect a huge difference in taste between the 2 coconut waters. However, if I had to pick I would choose Vita Coco based on the fact I could get away with using this on the 3rd day after opening and it’s about 20p cheaper.

But that slightly troubles me, Vita Coco seems to last longer because of it’s sugar content. Do I really want to add to my sugar consumption? As much as I like the taste and the convenience of a longer lasting coconut water, I’m wondering if perhaps the Innocence version is the healthier alternative.

What do you think?  What’s your favourite coconut water and why. Please leave your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to champagnetwist.wordpress.com for more.

Thanks for reading.