Vegan Life Live show bag cover Eat. Sleep. Save Animals. Repeat

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.

 

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Ask yourself these 3 questions for a productive 2017

It’s the start of the year, and naturally many of us look for tips for how to keep motived for the next 11 months of 2017.

I recently came across Marie Forleo’s YouTube channel and thought I should share one of her vlogs. In it, she suggests asking yourself 3 questions when reviewing your 2016.

 

The 3 steps or questions, and my answers, are as follows:

Question 1: One thing I did in 2016 that I was proud of?

I somehow managed, against much adversity from many sides, co-hosted a photo exhibition. To say that I’m proud of myself is an understatement.  It was a lot of hard work, stress and anxiety, but I have achieved a long held dream, and it has reminded me that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

Question 2: One mistake did I make and what did I learn from it?

Not focusing on myself as much as I have focused on others. I often sacrifice my dreams for the good of others – be they in my work team, social group or just people I see down the street. However, I have learnt that is completely the wrong way to go about things. If you suddenly find yourself in a position where your dreams are pushed to the back burner, whilst everyone else around is progressing, having positively gained from you, ask yourself this – is everyone around you looking out for your best interests in the same way you are looking out for theirs? If the answer is no, you need to move and quickly. Sadly, there are many takers in this world, and fewer givers. You are too important to be a door mat.

Question 3: What am I willing to let go of?

I am willing to let go of many and varied possessions which I have absolutely no need for.  Rather than these ‘things’ being a safely blanket, they have become a burden, prohibiting me from seeking the future I want. Hence, over the coming months, I’m boosting my inner KonMari and letting go of materials (not the fabric kind, I do have my limits!) that are physically, mentally and emotionally holding me back.  My recycle bins are going to be working overtime from now, until the foreseeable future.

What are your plans for 2017?  Please share in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, and please don’t forget to subscribe to this blog for more info and tips.

Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorialv

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?

3 quick and simple DIY Christmas centrepieces

In case you missed it, and well done if you have, Christmas is nearly here. It can be a very expensive time of year, so if you would like to save some cash but still want to participate in the season’s festivities, why not try these 3 quick, simple and affordable Christmas table decorations?

  • Candle and Cones

candle-and-cones

Years ago, I purchased a bag of pine cones from my local florist, for the grand sum of 50p. Of course you can collect them for free if you are lucky enough to live near a forest, but note you may have to seek permission first. Pine cones last for years, I keep mine in a cardboard box along with my other Christmas decorations.

Using a large candle, with 3 wicks to represent the holy trinity (it is a religious festival after all), I centre it on a heat proof glass plate, then I cover the plate with the pine cones.

As with all candles, never leave lit candles unattended. Be extra careful as pine cones are great tinder material!

For an alternative, try using a ring oasis, which can be purchased from Wilkos for around £3.50. Ensure that you give the oasis a good soak and then decorate with a mixture of evergreen foliage, baubles, pine cones and other Christmas decorations. Place on a plate, and add a large pillar candle in the middle.

oasis-foliage

  • Vases and Fairy Lights

If you have 3 or 5 vases of varying heights and widths, you can create a stunning centrepiece.  Fill one of the vases with evergreen foliage, one with pine cones, another with baubles, one with battery operated fairy lights and one with tinsel.

vases-fairy-lights

Here I used 3 vases – one was filled with different types of pine cones, another with foliage from the garden and the middle one with baubles and battery operated lights. Instant centrepiece using items I already own.

vases-lights

  • Bauble Cake Stand

Bauble Cake Stand.jpg

This is cake stand came from IKEA.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-17-47-44

Picture source: Ikea.com.

At under £10, it is an affordable centrepiece in it’s own right. Add some baubles, and hang some decorations from the lid and you have made a festive treat for the eyes. Hey, it’s healthier than filling the stand with cake.

Did I just say that?

Febreze Candle Frosted Pine -Review

Febreze Scented Candles review by Champagne Twist. champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Febreze scented candle – review by Champagne Twist. champagnetwist.wordpress.com

frosted-pine

Perhaps I received a dud candle. Maybe the scent is so subtle I can’t detect it. But after several hours of burning time, the room has yet to smell like pine, frosted for otherwise.

This is a huge disappointment as I was really looking forward to my living room smelling like an winter alpine forest.

The colour is a lovely shade of pine green.  The candle melts evenly, and the art work on the plastic surround looks really festive.  There is plenty of after use with the glass votive, and the minimum packaging is a plus. The main problem I have with this candle, is the total lack of scent, and as an item marketed as a scented candle, that is very disappointing.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Febreze Odour Eliminating Scented Candle, Spiced Apple – Review

febrezeIf you like anything spiced apple scented, I recommend you give this candle a try. At around £3.50 for 100g, it’s settles in the lower price range, but the quality surpassed that of many higher priced candles.  The scent throw is very good, filing the average sized room in a matter of minutes, and lasts for a good hour or so after the candle has been extinguished.

If you need something to cover up cooking smells, the odour eliminating properties of this candle does the trick, without producing an over sweet, chemically aroma. It produces a rather lovely, cosy and welcoming fragrance.

spiced-apple

The colour is a very festive berry red, and the glass votive can remain useful long after the candle has melted.

The slight grumble I have is the decorative plastic surround on the votive, which I think cheapens the look, but thankfully it can be easily removed.

Spiced Apple Candle, Febreze Review by Champagne Twist
Febreze candle – Spiced apple

In all, one of the best candles in the price range I have used in a long time.

Rating 4 out of 5.

My next review will be Febreze’s Vanilla Latte, so please subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out on this or other posts by Champagne Twist.

Thanks for reading.

Febreze Scented Candles review by Champagne Twist. champagnetwist.wordpress.com

Febreze Scented Candle Reviews

With the Christmas season soon upon us, candles are proven to be useful as gifts, covering cooking scents, and for helping to add a cosy, welcoming feel to the home.

Febreze Scented Candles review by Champagne Twist. champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Febreze scented candle – review by Champagne Twist. champagnetwist.wordpress.com

With this in mind I have selected 3 popular options from the Febreze scented candle range:

  • Spiced Apple
  • Vanilla Latte
  • Frosted Pine

Over 3 posts, I will review each scented candle and suggest which is the best. Make sure to subscribe to Champagne Twist, so that you don’t miss out.

Thanks for reading.

Lindt Coconut Milk Chocolate Truffles – Review

Lindt chocolate truffles with coconut review by champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Milk chocolate truffles with coconut filling

Packaged in a beautiful sea green box, these coconut truffles are an absolute delight. You don’t get many in terms of weight, but for the current sale price of £3.50, if you’re looking for a last minute gift for the coco-nut or the chocoholic in your life, you could do far worse.

The coconut filling has a pleasant flavour, if a little over sweet in it’s aftertaste. The milk chocolate is smooth in texture and delicious – what you would expect from the Lindt chocolate house.

Coconut truffles with milk chocolate by Lindt
Milk chocolate truffles by Lindt, with coconut filling – review by Champagne Twist. champagnetwist.wordpress.com

The box weight is 200g, for which you will get around 16 truffles, or in my language, gifts for 2 people! (more on this later). Normally retailing for about £4.90, I suggest you take advantage of the current offer and treat yourself, or a loved one with these spherical delights.

I would have liked a few more in the box for the retail price, but for the sale price, I think it’s reasonable.

Rating 3.5/5

I shall be posting gifting ideas soon, including how to make presents for 2 people, out of 1 box of chocolates. For gifting ideas, subscribe to this blog to make sure you don’t miss out.

As ever, thanks for reading. If you have any comments or would like me to review other food and drink items, please share them in the comment box.