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The Armchair Personal Trainer

Ways to make your life a bit healthier.

Mel Yates, G&G

Better-for-you ingredients

We’re not the type to worship a loganberry or claim chia seeds have magic powers. But the fact is, some ingredients have more about them than the rest. There a lots, like blueberries, available in a supermarket near you but we like things a little more exotic. Here’s our pick of some better-for-you ingredients that you may not have heard of.

Baobab tastes like a cross between a pineapple and a melon. It has twice as much calcium as milk, three times more vitamin C than an orange, and three times the Bs of the average word.

The South American goldenberry goes by a few different names, and they’re all great: Inca berry, cape gooseberry and Peruvian ground cherry. Its proteins and vitamin A are good for your skin and immune system, and it’s pretty low in sugar.

Goji berries aren’t much to look at (think small, shrivelled, red). Don’t be fooled. They’re high in fibre, vitamin C and minerals, and they have more iron in them than spinach.

Mulberries are dark, juicy and good for you. They help keep your bones, your eyes and your immune system healthy. And they top up your vitamin C and iron. Not just arm candy, then.

There are 24 vitamins and minerals in yerba mate tea leaves. Like caffeine, yerba mate gives you energy and keeps you alert. Unlike caffeine, it won’t give you the jitters.

Rosehips are the fruit from wild dog roses. Once all their white petals have fallen off, the hips are picked. They have half as much vitamin C as an orange, so they’re good for keeping your immune system healthy. And hip.

Lucuma is the most popular ice cream flavour in Peru. When it’s not for pudding, it gives you fibre, vitamin B and minerals. And it releases energy slowly rather than in one big sugar-hit.

Yuzu is a citrus fruit from Japan that’s a bit like a lemon, mandarin and grapefruit in one. So it’s full of vitamin C.

Maca is not a former Beatle. It is full of iron, potassium and calcium: a holy trinity that helps your skin, bones and blood do their thing.

You may not find some of these ingredients in your local supermarket, so to make life easier,...

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Healthier toffee apples

Elderbrook Toffee Apples

We've been busy dipping our Granny Smith's in toffee using recipes without refined sugar. Some were a bit hit and miss but with we found a winner.  To add a little twist, we flavoured our crop with a dash of Elderbrook Orange, Apricot & Goldenberry. 

You will need:

  • 100g coconut palm sugar (available from Holland & Barrett and health stores)
  • 40ml water
  • 20ml Elderbrook Orange, Apricot & Goldenberry cordial
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp date syrup
  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 3 lollypop sticks

What to do:

1. Pierce the apples with the lolly pop sticks and place on baking paper. Set aside.

2. Mix the water and cordial together. Combine with the coconut palm sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and heat slowly. After about two minutes the mixture will start to thicken. Add the butter, date syrup and mix.  

3. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil, stir continuously for two minutes. This is super important otherwise, the toffee won't harden. If you have a sugar thermometer check the mixture reaches 140C. 

4. Reduce to a low heat and stir for a minute until the mixture is a maple syrup like consistency. Remove from the heat. 

5. Pour the toffee mixture over each apple doing your best to avoid the sticks. (Ours got a little messy.)

6. Sprinkle with desiccated coconut. 

7. They should start to set straight away, if not, then your mixture didn't boil for long enough. You can fix this by putting your apples in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Just don't leave them there for too long or you might break a tooth. 

 

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Ethics, alchemy, and extracting chocolate with Blue Sky.

We're passionate about sourcing the best ingredients. It makes all the difference between a good and great tasting drink. One of our suppliers is a company called Blue Sky Botanics. You'll find their ingredients in most of our drinks and we've been so impressed by their ethos that we invited Daniel Jones, head of innovation, to chat about what they do. 

Where do you source your raw ingredients from?

We work with local foraging experts as well as directly with farmers & traders all over the world.  We are experts in sourcing authentic botanicals from fully traceable & ethical sources.  Our botanicals are carefully selected to ensure that we source only the very best tasting herbs, spices and fruits.

You’re a bit like alchemists, how do you magically infuse your extracts?

If we go to that much effort sourcing these wonderful botanicals, it is only right that we treat them with the respect they deserve. We don’t apply any heat, all of our infusions are cold. This helps to capture the wonderful delicate flavour profiles, as well as being good for you by extracting all of the ‘good’ molecules.

It’s basically like magic. We infuse a botanical for a set amount of time, press it, filter it and in the end we have created a fantastic natural liquid extract.  All made by hand on our organic farm, nestled in the beautiful British countryside.

How do you come up with new ideas?

We have an amazing team of passionate people (and I’m a trained chef that helps). We look at trends, history, science and flavour pairing, and basically just play until we achieve something amazing.

If we can source it, we can extract it. So that narrows it down to thousands of botanicals – herbs, spices, flowers, fruits – basically anything that is edible from a plant.

We specialise in bespoke blends and our most recent one was inspired by the aromas of a Poire belle Hélène (or Poached Pear if you are not a chef) … Star Anise, Cassia, Vanilla. And when this is married with an apple or pear juice – WOW!

Tell us about some of the ideas you’re currently working on?

We are currently working on a range of ‘shrubs’ – acidulated fruit based drinks with botanicals. With people's palettes changing and wanting less refined sugar in their diets, we look to naturally sweet botanicals and the use of vinegar to enhance...

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Apple and Blackberry Crumble

This crumble is dairy, gluten, and refined sugar-free but just delicious as one you probably had as a kid. Perfect Sunday lunch pudding. It's delicious with vanilla ice cream or coconut yogurt. Serves 4-6 people (and enough for left overs the next morning). Our thanks to Georgia at Clean Geeg who came out with this delicious recipe. You can find more of Georgia's work at cleangeeg.com and on Instagram @cleangeeg.

Ingredients:

  • 180g of porridge oats
  • 200g of ground almonds
  • ½ a vanilla pod
  • ½ cup of maple syrup
  • 3 tbsps of melted coconut oil
  • 2.5 tsp of cinnamon
  • 6 red apples chopped into 1-2cm squares
  • 400g blackberries
  • 2 tsp of Elderbrook Blackcurrant, Blackberry and Mulberry

Recipe:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. First put the apples, blackberries, 1tsp of cinnamon, the cordial and 1cm of water into a saucepan. Heat on a low flame stirring frequently for 10 minutes. You want the fruit to become soft, with the blackberries mushy and apple pieces just holding their shape.

While the compote is on the heat, combine the oats, ground almonds, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and remaining cinnamon. Once the compote is ready pour it into a baking dish or four individual ramekins. Then using a spoon or your hands, place the crumble mixture on top of the compote making sure it is an even layer.

Place in the oven for 25 minutes till crumble is golden and crispy. Serve straight from the oven.

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Better-for-you skincare with Aurelia Probiotic.

We're all about finding ways to make your life a bit healthier. It obviously matters what you put in your body, but also what you put on it. One brand making waves in skincare is Aurelia. Their unique approach of mixing science with free from ingredients has led to over 50 awards in 3 years and they now have over 20 products available. We caught this week up with Claire Vero, Aurelia founder, to find out more about her story. 

What’s the inspiration behind the brand?

When my skin became dry and started to change during my late 20s and early 30s, I decided I needed to make a serious change to my skincare routine. I wanted a brand that was really serious about helping my skin to age well but that had data to back it up, was for all ages and skin types and that would be a complete delight and treat to use on a daily basis. At the time there really wasn’t one brand that stood out and satisfied all these criteria so I decided to make it my mission to create this ideal range. Through my work in pharmaceuticals, I discovered the power of probiotic technology which is the fundamental science behind the brand.

Why is Aurelia different to other skincare brands?

One of the biggest differences between us and other luxury brands out there is that we fuse scientifically-proven age preventative probiotic ingredients with nourishing, natural botanical ingredients all while maintaining a strict free from ingredients policy. Aurelia’s Probiotic Ingredients continuously protect, restore and balance the skin from within. They calm the natural immune triggers in your skin which can be overstimulated by pollution and stress and they reduce the damage these immune triggers cause to collagen, elastin and healthy cells.  Aurelia’s Probiotic Ingredients activate the skin’s natural ability to repair itself and boost the natural process of restoring collagen, elastin and healthy cells to maintain equilibrium for balanced, glowing skin from within.

Where do you source your ingredients from?

We ethically source a lot of our botanical ingredients from Africa, and are accredited with PhytoTrade to ensure a fair trade and sustainable harvest of the ingredients to benefit the communities. I spent three weeks living with a tree forester while in the development stages of Aurelia Probiotic Skincare and fell in love with the exotic, rich botanicals like...

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