Knowing Nut Bars Giveaway
A pack of Knowing Bars wonderfully modelled by my handsome assistant.
A pack of Knowing Bars wonderfully modelled by my handsome assistant.
I had to tell you about an wonderful discovery I made on my latest trip. Just arrived in Austin, I was making my first stop to the local natural foods store in search of a good body lotion. I asked a member of staff to give me a recommendation and without a word she led me over to some beautifully packed tubes sitting on the shelf. ‘This smells INCREDIBLE’, she said, with much animation. I tried it. And it did. I squeezed a blob of the coconut body lotion onto the back on my hand and rubbed the lotion in. I honestly have never smelled any lotion or potion so delicious and intoxicating! I had to take it home!
Showered and slathered liberally in the stuff I smelled so gorgeous, I couldn’t stop inhaling the scent on my arms. Until it just started to look weird in public, so I stopped.
The range from 100%Pure is extensive. Literally has everything you could desire to preen and pamper your lovely self. I tried more products. As you know, if a product excites me I want to know more about the story behind it’s conception. Then I want to tell you all about it. You can read this amazing tale below the review. It is worth the scroll, believe me.
This is what I found.
The Pink Grapefruit body scrub. Intensely citrusy and vibrant. Chock full of luscious ingredients. The cane sugar crystals slope off any dead skin and the oils left my body feeling silky and utterly smooth and hydrated. NOTE: Be very careful when using this in the shower. It is oily and makes the bath/cubicle very slippery!
The real life story of the founder Susie Wang makes like a novel, or perhaps an exquisitely gentle, and beautifully shot movie. She grew up with her Geisha grandmother in Japan. Her formative years sound idyllic. At the age of 5 she was already immersed in the world of flora and loved to garden. She learnt about herbs, teas, trees and flora that surrounded her. She even cultivated her own fruits to make facial masks, perhaps this was as a result of witnessing the purity of the Japanese bath houses.
Despite this happy existence. Her grandmother wanted more for Susie that she had had in life. So at age 15 she sent her off to live in San Francisco. This world was so alien to Susie, so for solace she took to rescuing animals and volunteering at animal shelters. Susie settled and studied at the University of California in Berkerley, just across the Bay from San Francisco. One day, she purchased some anti ageing serum from a store and after just one week, found it oxidising and turning brown, meaning the Vitamin C, meant to be nourishing the skin was actually devoid of any power and was actually applying harmful free radicals to the skin. Susie being Susie, decided to find out how to stabilise the natural ingredients. This led to a patent. This led to some of the worlds largest cosmetics companies buzzing around her. So..she ended up working for them as a skincare formulator and product developer. Her new path was set.
The story then takes another surprising turn. (Quote) Susie was in the lab formulating the “next big eye cream”. She accidentally knocked over a vial of a chemical that was to go into that eye cream onto the lab table. Within a few minutes, the chemical eroded the lab table (I take it not the whole table?!). Shocked that the ingredients used to formulate cosmetics were harsh enough to eat away a lab table, Susie began digging for answers. She soon discovered that many chemicals that were widely used in cosmetics were proven to cause cancer, tumors, irritations, and other skin disorders. In addition to using toxic chemicals, Susie witnessed formulas only having just a dash of the active ingredients they were advertising and that most formulas were diluted with mostly water, thickeners, emulsifiers and other cheap fillers to “economize.”
Then, one day whilst she was in her organic garden picking berries, Susie noticed how the berries stained her fingers. The lightbulb went off. She realised all of the antioxidants and vitamins were in the actual fruit pigments.
The skills gained from her time at one of these huge international cosmetic company, and her outrage at at how these companies were misleading the public, AND her backyard berry picking discovery, compelled Susie to launch 100%Pure. 100%Pure was created to deliver the nutrients directly onto your skin. It’s like bathing and slathering in a fruit smoothie. But cleaner..and in a tube!
100% Pure is 100% Pure, vegan (or vegetarian when cruelty free honey is in formula), synthetic fragrance free, paraben free, toxic free and the most concentrated formulas possible without the use of water, thickeners, emulsifiers or any other cheap fillers. Cruelty-free. Is there anymore to love about Susie and her company? YES! They have even rescued and placed 21 dogs in loving homes last year alone, as well as given financial aid to those who need it for medical aid for their pets. Their long term goal is to open up an animal sanctuary to further help their mission to help animals. LOVE!
Isn’t that incredible?! I love that story! AND, I love smelling and feeling like a goddess!
Just so you know:
I spoke to 100%Pure to tell them how amazing their cream was (I like to let people know I appreciate them) and they were so happy to the extent of my gushing about their body cream to them, they sent me some other products to review. This review is based on my totally individual opinion and not at all biased. I guarantee that I will only ever tell you about products that I totally love.
I am in Austin, Texas, right now, attempting to catch up on posts that have been stacking up as I flit from country to country, State to State. Right now, I am happily ticking off another New York dining experience I wanted to share with you. I’d heard a lot about Candle Cafe, from friends and fellow bloggers, so I was eager to give it a try. I went with a friend to celebrate his birthday. He is an NYC native so he had visited many times. This was great as we managed to get a table without pre-booking, and also he had overtime eaten his way around the menu so was a competent advisor.
The menu is entirely vegan, mostly local, seasonal, organic and the cafe is proudly environmentally aware. All elements usually precursors to a splendid dining experience. I was well catered for as the menu had a good selection of gluten free dishes to choose from.
The restaurant is kind of upscale but not grand. The lighting and seating make for a relaxing, intimate atmosphere. The staff were super attentive. The Candle story began in the summer of 1984, when Bart Potenza purchased Sunny’s, a landmark health food store and juice bar located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. In honour of the previous owners’ nightly ritual of lighting candles to bless their establishment, Bart renamed it the Healthy Candle and made it his own. Candle Cafe’s story is an interesting one. You can read more here.
This is what we ate.
All I tasted was very good and lovingly plated. The Indian dish and the artichoke appetiser were my personal favourites. My friend spent much time raving about the raw lasagne.
Candle Cafe West is one of three Candle eateries in NYC. Candle 79 is located on 79th Street in between Lexington & 3rd. I had visited Candle 79 the week before and I think, to be honest, my expectations were a little high. The little place had a really nice welcoming atmosphere and was packed with diners at lunch time when I visited. I arrived after my first walk through Central Park. I had to pinch myself that I was there..in New York (at last!) visiting the most famous and visited urban park in the USA. I headed to the park for a bit of a respite from the craziness of the city. I had to laugh at the irony. The sky had a helicopter zig zagging across the park and about 2 million people and 34,000 runners where in and around the park for the New York Marathon (failed to research that little fact of the day!) It was good fun though, so I couldn’t mind!
With such a wonderful variety of dishes on offer, I went with the proffered tempeh entree as suggested by my waitress. It was nice but not outstanding. The menu listed their ‘famous’ split pea soup. I sampled it and honestly, I was not wowed. It was because of this experience that I was so pleased to eat at Candle again and come away with fonder memories. Of course, unless your debut dining experience at a restaurant is majorly whacked it is always good to go back another time and try something different from the menu. Sometimes you can be pleasantly surprised.
a finisher strolling back through the park.
For a list of Berlin Kollectiv’s
Neukolln has a number of vegan restaurants and cafes. I will be hopefully getting around to visiting them all! Are you signed up for emails? Make sure you don’t miss out on future reviews..and, at some point when the trip is done, recipes!
I spied the cute packaging of Rice Mice at the Allergy & Free From Show, in London this past weekend. I’d been grazing (gorging) for hours and I was getting close to a self imposed food ‘time out’. So, these tiny, size of a 10p, biscuits were a perfect vegan morsel to test.
Listed as being 100% organic and free from all 14 EU recognised allergens (notably free from soy, milk, egg, peanut, gluten) and marketed towards children. Based on rice instead of cows milk. With no preservatives or ingredients with a number or you can’t pronounce. Rice Mice cookies come in 3 flavours. Apple & Cinnamon. Vanilla – Lemon, and good ole chocolate.
I took some packets home to taste test. On Sunday morning, whilst staying at my mother’s house, it is a ritual that I wake up before my mum, take her up tea in bed, then trot back downstairs again for a spot of yoga. This morning, my step-sister was also staying over and had jumped in my mum’s bed. They were busy gossiping and giggling like school girls. I very carefully took up a tray pilled with my mum’s 45 year old tea set. And lay out a selection of the bite sized biscuits for them to try (I felt like I was a school girl again, feeding my dolls and playing with my tea set!). So, seeing as we were all acting like kids, I thought it ok to review them… for kids. Also, I have had first hand knowledge of being a child so I qualify there too.
All of the biscuits had wonderfully bright, non-artificial flavour, and were snappy and crunchy from the texture of the rice flour and the cane sugar. They both loved them and said they were just as good, if not better, than conventional biscuits made from white, gluten containing, flour. Avoiding sugar as I do, I tried these and thought them a little too sweet.
They retail at £2.99. You can buy them online at Free From For Kids Amazon and AuraVita among others. Also sold in health food stores.
I also tried their Zero Zebra Rice Choc Bar and their Safari Animal Party Chocolate shapes. The chocolate bars come in Original, Strawberry & Crispy Rice. I acted like a total child and bit the heads off the animals! £1.49 from Ocado
With all of their products I wish they’d also make them sugar free, and use coconut sugar which has a lower GI and doesn’t effect your endocrine system, xylitol, or stevia which is zero calories and doesn’t disrupt the body like white sugar. Making them suitable for diabetics too. We all know sugar isn’t great for us. But, for those just transitioning to allergy friendly, gluten free foods these would be ideal.
I’ve been in Mexico City for nearly 14 days. My determination to source VEGAN friendly products is being RICHLY rewarded. I am FEASTING out here!
HAPPY COW is of course a HUGE source of knowledge. Not just in Mexico City but the world. They list stores and vegan friendly restaurants. In the next few posts I’m going to share with you what I’ve found. I want to help you hit the ground running. I’ll let you know about cool cafes too.
When I was in Buenos Aires, Dieteticas were bounteous. It is not the case in Mexico City. But I’ve visited a few places listed on HappyCow and I’ve found some products in ‘everyday’ supermercados. Of course. A lot of Mexican food is VEGAN. Nature provides an abundance of vegan FAST food. Give me an avocado and some salt and I’m happy!
Here are some products you can find at SUPERAMA in the Condesa area (Walmart Mexico…they have some produce/products from the USA ..you can get AMY’s here..but alas they either contain cheese or gluten. They have a small gluten free and natural section and organic products too). They have a rack of numerous dehydrated (not raw) fruits and veggies, the tomatoes are like thin chips!
You will also find The Green Corner…kind of an upscale Whole Foods. They are 100% Mexican company selling organic food. They have 2 stores in Mexico City – Polanaco and Condesa. They are a fair trade organisation, giving most of their revenue to the providers. They try and make their stores as green as possible. One uses electricity from solar panels. They also have an organic farm/ranch that produces organic fruits and vegetables and their brand La Cocina Verde. An amazing range of sauces and marmalades/jams. I am so hooked on the mermelade tejocote with stevia that I’m eating it out of the jar with a spoon. Tejocote is a native Mexican variety of hawthorn. It has lots of nutritional properties and is thick, subtly sweet and divine.
FAST FOOD – done healthy. Momentos to make. I was keen to try a Mexican delicacy called huitlacoche or cuitlacoche . Basically corn fungus. Yeah, doesn’t exactly make you salivate but I was curious to this new and unchartered flavour.
I’m being a whimp and my overwhelm with all the choice at the food stalls/trucks/cantinas and restaurants, together with my lazy ass to brush up the smattering of Spanish I collected in Argentina is making me swerve around huddles of standing diners and take it at my pace right now.
Anyway, I spotted a can of the stuff in Superama and threw it into my basket. Along with a packet of Mexican made Bacon Bits (vegan and with soya…I do try and steer clear of heavily processed foods but a little is ok), a carton of tomato/passata flavoured with cebolla (onion) and garlic. Oh, and garbanzos. Me and garbanzos are never far from each other. I returned to my studio and assembled a meal.
My recipe for Speedy Huitlache tortillas and Sopa de Garbanzos.
I put a half can of garbanzos, 1/2 carton of passata, garlic clove, salt, and a little water into the blender and whizzed for 30 seconds. Leaving some texture. Poured the mix into a pan and warmed through. I shook on some chill spice, a spoon of ‘bacon’ bits and fresh black pepper. Verdict? Delicious. Comforting. With it I had a stack of corn tortillas containing natural prebitoics and nopal (Mexican cactus), with sliced, buttery avocado. With the excitement of a food explorer, I cracked open the can of ‘corn smut’ (huitlacoche). I ate a little from the spoon first, afraid it might have tasted malo (bad). I found it earthy, mildly sweet and a little bitter. The texture was like cooked greens. It got my vote. I’m keen to try it fresh, home cooked, see how it compares. So, rolled up within a maize tortilla and married with soft and buttery avocado…well, I’m beaming with food love!
My mind is firing with recipe ideas! The simple afternoon feast took all of 5 minutes to prepare and the flavours were intense and wonderfully satisfying. Sitting in a cafe writing this I see the photo is a sad reflection of what it actually tasted like. You’re going to just have to trust me on this one.
I’m scouting out raw foods too. I found these by a company called VerDeSer in a little cafe in Condesa.
The tube is filled with herbed, dehydrated sprouted legumes and nuez (nuts). Crunchy. Salty. The foiled packet had spirulina and ciltrano flavoured raw crackers and were some of the best I’ve ever tasted. They were not cheap, especially by Mexican standards. $58 pesos or £3. The beautifully flecked pink and sandy coloured discs were an indulgent bag of delightfully crispy fried taro chips. So good! I ate the whole bag whilst walking through Parque de Mexico, enjoying a spot of people and doggy watching!
More coming soon…!
Happy Kitchen were the very first organic, vegan, sugar-free, gluten free bakers that I happened across in London, one warm summer night during the Southwark Festival 4 years ago. The girls were so nice and their cakes a lovely treat. When I recently discovered they had opened a cafe, in addition to their stall at www.broadwaymarket.co.uk I immediately put them down in my ‘go there get cake’ diary. Yesterday, twas the be the day.
You can hop on the the overland train from Liverpool St Station to London Fields map (approx 7 mins). Happy Kitchen are right outside the exit. Or, like me, make an adventure of it. Walk from Liverpool Street, wander through uber hip Shoreditch, stop at Hoxton Square for a breather. Sip a beverage of your choice, marvel at the hipsters creative facial hair adornment, and and then walk up the Hackney Road towards London Fields. I am making it my business to walk everywhere I can so I get to know London and not the inside of tube stations. I’ve never been to Hackney. It’s full of shoe and bag shops. I have no idea why. I love street art. Mr bunny (above) greeted me on my trails.
The HK is like Dr Who’s tardis. Located in an archway under the train line, you push open the door and a bright world opens up before you. Their slogan is ‘building community through food’, it certainly feels like it. I immediately wanted to work there!
I tried their creamy beetroot hummus, a scoop of pad thai salad and a serving of the tagine. All were very tasty and fresh. The staff were friendly and clearly loved Happy Kitchen’s produce.
The waitress raved about the bakewell cupcakes. So, despite my stomach being FULL to bursting. I found room in my ‘cake belly’ to try a mound of sweet gluten-free goodness.
No false advertising here. The cupcake was perfect. Jammy. Almondy. Airy, light sponge, sweetened beautifully, over a thin, melt-in-your-mouth pastry base.
I only thing I wished for that didn’t materialise, by the wave of my wand, was a nice comfy sofa. But then again, I probably would have never left. And when you leave…. it opens up the opportunity to return. Soon I hope. With a ‘bag for life’ shopping bag to fill up with goodies and packets of produce from the bulk bins.
Even though the food in San Francisco had been keeping my mind pretty much occupied I still hankered after sampling the organic, vegan tamales I’d picked up a flyer for in Silverlake, LA. If fact, I carried it around in my bag and would re-read it over and over imagining the flavours! Sad but true.
The first morning of my return to Silverlake I fished out the flyer and rang La Guera Tamalera.
Deborah, the ‘White girl tamale maker’ as her business name translates, remembered me instantly, which of course made me feel fab. I begged her yet again to teach me how to make tamales but she said she had no time right now, but in 2011, ‘exciting new plans’ were being cooked up. I thought well, hey, let’s not jump the gun anyway, her tamales might not be anything to write home about. I ordered the vegan choices; sasquash, sesame kale and spinach shitake. They arrived in a huge foil tray, still piping hot from the kitchen, the lovely Deborah greeted me like an old friend (notice I mentioned the food first! naughty me….but the way I see it, you can get to know people through their food..see I’m not just all about the tucker you know!)
It was 10am, breakfast not yet digested, but I’d waited for five weeks to taste these babies so I figured it was ok to try one whilst it was still hot. I grabbed my camera and carefully unwrapped the husk. Inside was a smooth tube of masa, the colour of caramel, the rising steam scented with corn and cinnamon. I took a few hasty mug shots, for which it posed quite happily as you can see, and sat down to try my first ‘white girl tamale maker’ tamale. It was light, spongy, soothingly sweet, the flour and the baked yam and butternut squash spiced just right.
The red bean filling was subtly sweet, salty and delivered a teeny tiny chilli kick. I kept lifting it to my nose to breathe in the steam. Dense enough to be filling, light enough to be savoured and so bloody perfect that it rendered me a very happy (and full) turtle!
That day I ate three. For research purposes and not because I was being a pink porky. The spinach and kale was my favourite savoury, it has seasoned well and married SUBLIMELY with a bowl of hot black bean soup.
Deborah is a GENIUS tamale maker. Her tamales ignite a burning flame of happiness. If everyone in the world ate one of her tamales everyday there would be world peace. Amen.