Weaning Bean

Weaning the Bean

    Green Eats & Health

    Organic Raw chocolate

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    • On account of it being Organic September, I decided to try a bar of raw chocolate. I chose a bar of Enjoy‘s and opted for their ‘mild dark’ bar. First impressions are that it tastes very similar to regular rich, dark  chocolate, but in this instance, (at least it’s claimed) its a ‘superfood’ and therefore, supposedly a lot better for us than regular chocolate. If like me, you select dark chocolate anyway, which is high in antioxidants, raw chocolate in theory, takes it to the next level, which sounds (and tastes) pretty darn amazing so far!

    Unlike ‘cooked’ chocolate, the Peruvian criollo cacao used in Enjoy’s raw chocolate does now forgo its nutrients during the cooking process, and thus retains them, which is the basis of the claim that raw chocolate is akin to a superfood. This bar also boast ‘no refined sugar’, instead the cacao has been sweetened with coconut blossom, which according to Enjoy has a GI of 35, which is said to be better for us than other sugars. When chocolate attempts to be sold as a healthy option, it makes most consumers dubious of the claim, and they, like me, will probably conduct their own investigation to uncover why raw chocolate is so hip and happening right now!

    The taste factor

    Raw chocolate might claim superfood status, but for most consumers, it will still need to taste good enough to eat, that we  turn to it for pleasure first, and as a superfood second; because, lets face it, its still chocolate! My previous experiences of superfoods/fads (macca powder comes to mind) prepared me for the possibility that raw chocolate might be a bit overwhelming on the old taste buds; however, I was pleasantly surprised.

    I found that when eating this particular bar, was that it was so rich I needed only a few squares, due to its intensity (I did wonder at this point how intense their dark bars might be).  On that basis, I guess it hits the spot and is certainly a different kind of satisfying, to chocolate with little cocoa or cacao solids and loaded with refined sugar. The cacao in raw chocolate also gives you a jolt of energy  (similar to the after effects of a good coffee) which you might appreciate if you have lots of stuff to get on with, or as like me after a wakeful night while the babe teethes.

    So, what is raw chocolate is and how is it made?

    Enjoy’s ‘Mild dark raw chocolate bar contains just three ingredients:

    1. Raw cacao butter
    2. Coconut blossom sugar
    3. Raw cacao powder

    And is Vegan and soil association approved organic. According to Enjoy:

    “The chocolate is “raw” because the cacao is never processed above 42 degrees Celsius allowing the nutrients to remain intact.”

    Which means that the nutrient rich beans retain : iron, zinc, magnesium, copper and vitamin C, that ‘cooked’ chocolate doesn’t.  Cacao has already been identified as a superfood and is commonly found in energy boosting morning smoothies and chocolate cakes found in health food shops. Combined with the coconut blossom in place of refined sugars, Enjoy have made a  compelling case that their bars are a healthier alternative to regular chocolate, and possibly a number of other snacks that contain refined sugars too.

    What is coconut blossom sugar? 

    According to livestrong, coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut palm, not the fruit itself. Coconut blossom sugar contains the same number of calories and carbohydrates, but it is thought to have a slightly less dramatic impact on our body’s sugar levels than white sugar. It also contains some trace nutrients, but its not considered a superfood.  Coconut sugar contains small amounts of vitamin C, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper. And small amounts phytonutrients, such as polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanidin, and antioxidants, as well as mood-boosting vitamin B. The glycaemic index of coconut sugar is notably low, at 35, while regular sugar ranks between 65-70. This index measures the effect of carbohydrates on your sugar levels. The higher the GI, the higher the sugar rush, so its to aim for foods low in GI if you want to avid the adverse effects of sugar and carbohydrates. Therefore, while it is lower than regular sugar, coconut blossom sugar is still a processed sugar that does not contain any noteworthy health benefits other than carrying a lower GI than white sugar.

     

    Have you tried raw chocolate, and if so do you have a favourite? Let me know!

    Green Beauty

    Godiva, solid shampoo

    I’ve been using Godiva shampoo from Lush, it was an impulse buy. Nowadays, I prefer shopping in local shops, or shops that are actively anti-plastic, or at least try their best to cut down.

    There was a time however, when I loved all Lush’s products and would stock up ritually. These days, I am using an increasing number of homemade cleansing and beauty products, or sourcing really natural brands, most recently Zao. I’ll write a review on the products I’m trying out shortly, but to give you the heads – they’re just beautiful.

    So, this Godiva solid shampoo bar was purchased before our trip to France in early July. Meaning I’ve been using it for over a month. The smell is something else and filled the bathroom. Its that strong, I kept mistaking it for potpourri. Not a bad thing; its overwhelmingly floral, which I like, but that I ma aware that this won’t be to everyone’s taste.

    The shampoo bar contains lots of lovely ingredients: jasmine, cocoa butter, hibiscus and macadamia nut. Therefore, its really conditioning too. In many ways I like Godiva. My hair  (at the front?!) always feels clean, looks shiny and thicker, after use. Yet, for some reason, it seems to leave a residue on the back part of my hair, despite, since noticing this, giving it an extra good rinse. So this is obviously a drawback. Of course I might be doing something wrong…Especially as since becoming a mum, brushing my hair is no longer high on the agenda, so much so that a birds nest does frequently form from lack of brushing.

    Even though the sales adviser in Lush said this shampoo would be perfect for my hair type, I think my hair is too woolly in texture, and its always been unruly, that Godiva’s just simply unable to tame it!

    The other thing I noticed is, while it might proclaim to be good at de-frizzing ones hair, in the process, it make ones hair that much oilier. If like me, you’ve got naturally oily hair and prefer to wash it less frequently than more, using Godiva you’ll probably find because of the oil build up, your hair become greasier quicker.

    Overall, I think its a lovely shampoo, with a gorgeous jasmine smell and the perfect answer if you want shiny, soft hair (who doesn’t?) Lush are open about their synthetic ingredients, listing all of these on their website if you were searching for detailed . If you are OK with using these, this two-in-one shampoo could be , conditions your hair as well, so give it a try.

    I’ve got three shampoos from Funky Soap, that I’ve been trialling, all serve different purposes. Coming soon!

     

     

    Green Earth Green Eats & Health

    Cafe Ronak, Bristol

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    Ever since my sister’s almond-milk latte came with an aluminium straw, Cafe Ronak has been high in my estimations. It might sound like a strange reason to like a cafe, but it shows their environmental overtones and hippy outlook, is more than just tokenism. They mean business, demonstrated by their use of reusable, rather than plastic disposable straws. And, this is really refreshing to observe.

    Vegan iced coffee

    Vegan iced coffee

    It is often the case that  a cafe or shop takes on an appearance to appeal to certain clientele, but really it is full of oxymoron’s. I am not claiming Cafe Ronak have it sorted, and is a model cafe for the green hearts to flock to, but it is certainly taking important and noteworthy steps towards a more sustainable business model.

    It does not just boast about the odd ecological act, but actually acts upon it. They offer customers water in a pitchers, that’s flavoured with fresh mint and lemon, with glasses by its side. The cutlery is stored in used aluminium cans. And there’s reminders in the toilet about the number of trees cut down to become paper towels. They suggest customers shake their wet hands twelve times and use just one paper towel. They offer wooden cutlery if you’re taking away. And recycled napkins. These might seem like insignificant things, but it’s all important. And most significant of all, I spied no plastic. Not a bit. Considering corporate models with a lot more revenue and capacity to be more sustainable use tons of plastic packaging  than one comparatively minuscule cafe on the Gloucester Road, this is an incredibly impressive feat and proof that its possible to run a successful business without embracing this planet-destroying material. Are you listening: Pret, Starbucks, Costa, Nero???!

    What’s amazing is, establishments like Cafe Ronak have the ability to subliminally inspire their customer base, who might repeat these small acts of reusing, recycling, and being generally more aware about the environment, in their home and or workplace.

    Secondly, and perhaps more pressingly, it could be that Cafe Ronak is experiencing  a rude awakening. One that forces us to consider the future of our planet, and our need to be more conscious, sustainable, ethical and humanitarian in our daily lives.

    One little cafe in Bristol will not change the world, but it is certainly important that it too, plays its part in what will hopefully transpire to be a global sustainable movement.  I’d say ‘so far, so good.’

    And obviously, they serve great food and drinks. They do amazing vegan caramel slices. I generally order their spiced coffee with a caramel slice whenever I feel the need for a little treat.

    Spiced coffee and vegan caramel slice

    Spiced coffee and vegan caramel slice

     

     

    Green Beauty

    Eye eye! Kajal and liquid liner by #benecos

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    It was early one Saturday morning that Bean and I roamed the streets of Bristol, in search of coffee and new eye make-up. We found both.

    For the coffee we visited a lovely place on Whiteladies road, #tradewind. Its unique in that they’re a coffee shop providing table service. Doesn’t tend to happen much here.

    I chose a cappuccino with homemade almond milk-it was first for me. The milk gave the coffee a slightly fermented, bordering on bitter quality. It was definitely unusual and perhaps an acquired taste. I’m so used to drinking dairy-free milk that I’m always happy to discover something new. If you’re thinking amaretto, think again. This was raw, unpolished almond milk, without any sugarcoating. I think id like to try it again, perhaps next time in an iced coffee. I may even attempt making it myself.

    The Bean’s histrionics meant I didn’t get to nurse and ruminate over my coffee as is apt of a Saturday morning. But pretty much downed it after the first few leisurely sips.

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    We ventured on, to one of my favourite haunts, #betterfoods. It’s a local shop selling local produce, as well as many other well known eco, natural, organic etc brands.

    The time has come to update my makeup bag, and I’m in need of a new eyeliner. Better foods only stock two make-up brands, so it had to be one or the other. Guided by economics, I chose #benecos, the cheaper sister of Lavera.

    Whenever I go makeup shopping, I remind myself that my eyes are blue and my skin is pale. Over the years I’ve come to accept my face cannot do dramatic well, unless its very soft shades of dark brown or am ultra thin line of black liner. I tend to stick with brown. It gives enough drama to my face, without me looking like I’m caked or revisiting my gothic-crazed teenage years.

    Today, I purchased a grey charcoal blue. I’m totally up for using blue eyeliner on blue eyes. In fact, not sure why I ever stopped. It’s a great way to enhance the colour. And blue eye pencil is by no means limited to blue eyes. Blue liners look great on brown, green, black eyes. All look amazing with a line of blue.
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    Natural Liquid Liner, black:

    I can safely report that the liquid liner is not particularly water or smudge proof. Yet in spite of this, I am still fond of it. It gave my eyes a less harsh effect than liquid liners I’ve used previously. Perhaps the black colour is softer than other chemical based varieties. But, I will also keep wearing as the resultant smudges were not too extreme or runny. They actually looked quite nice. I have grown accustomed to a bit of make-up smudges and the imperfections that result from a hasty application Motherhood does not allow much time for make-up application.

    Charcoal eye-pencil, DE.AE.A:

    I am quite in love with my new kajal. The colour is dark grey, and just works really well at giving my eyes a natural lift. It is far more resilient that the liquid liner. This pencil also works well if you want to smudge it, to go for the smoky look.

    All in all, I am really pleased with my latest additions to my make-up bag. Benecos are really good value for money and made using much better ingredient than many mainstream competitors.

     

    Green Homes and Interiors

    A fairtrade basket

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    I found this great website selling beautiful Fairtrade and handmade storage baskets. Instagram can be a world of discovery at times.  I’ve actually come to know about a number of ecoconsious brands simply by clicking, reading and clicking some more.

    I guess a visual portal such as instagram is the perfect platform to market a shops splendours.

    This particular basket is therefore, an insta-discovery. Purchased from a shop called ‘ollieella’ it’s Fairtrade and also ‘handmade with love.’ As it should be, right.

    Bean had lots of little toys that needed their own place to live. This is the perfect solution and size. Plus it’s really beautiful and compliments the theme of our living room (north African) beautifully.  I’ve earmarked it for my bedroom once the Beans no longer needs so many tiny toys.

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    Their website is a real find and full of beautiful children’s toys made out of wood and other sustainable materials. Wood is a far more sustainable option for toys, that will breakdown if becomes unwanted and discarded to the bin in years to come (although hopefully by this point,it will have been preloved over and over).

    While olliella are not predominantly ecoconsious, their shop does align with one whose aspiration it is to become a more conscientious, ethical shopper, preferring to buy products made from organic materials and, as is the case with this basket, fairtrade.

    If you like the sound of the site, go and have a visit.

     

    Green Earth

    Plastic’s not so fantastic

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    Plastic is clearly not fantastic if shoppers are so easily diverted away from purchasing the single use supermarket bags by the introduction of the five pence charge.

    The charges implemented in England last year, that mean shoppers that visit the large supermarkets, pay five pence per single-use plastic bag, has successfully seen 6BILLION fewer bags used, the Huffington Post reports. This is such an impressive feat as this is theoretically 6BILLION fewer bags that could end up floating in our oceans, poisoning our sea life, entering our eco-system or existing in landfill. Power to the consumer, (especially when it’s incentivised by a teeny tiny saving).

    It shows the efficacy of introducing such a charge, and the impact that collective action can positively have on the planet. And clearly, more of the same needs to be introduced. What about junk mail and free magazines next? A colossal amount of paper is delivered through our letters box daily, and most of this will simply be recycled.

    In many ways, other parts of the world were waking up to the dangers of plastic before the UK introduced any measures to curb plastics’s prevalence.For example, in 2002, Bangladesh became the first country in the world to ban single-use plastic bags. While it took until 2015 for England to introduce their own deterrent, shoppers have at least been offered the option to buy hessian and other sturdier shopping bags from the major food retailers for several years. On the whole, we have been slow to react to a problem that should have been addressed on a consumer level much earlier.

    Five years ago,  in 2011, Wales was the first country in the UK to introduce a 5-pence plastic bag charge which applied to all retailers, big and small.  This was an extremely successful move by the Assembly and plastic bags are said to have reduced by as much as 70%. Woohoo!

    What is the problem with plastic?

    Most plastic will never biodegrade. Never, ever, ever. This is a big problem in an age when we are trying to reuse as much as possible. Plastic is also limited to the number of times it can be recycled, therefore it has a limited life. Unlike other materials such as aluminium.

    Why won’t plastic biodegrade like organic materials such as wood and food?

    According to How Stuff Works, in order for a material to breakdown and be ‘useful’ again, it needs to undergo a process known as biodegradation, a process that involves bacteria breaking down a material. Because most bacteria (quite understandably) have no taste for plastic, it is unlikely to impossible, that it’ll breakdown and become ‘useful’. Instead, it will remain buried in landfill, and gradually begin to produce dangerous gases. We need to move away from unuseful materials, and focus on plastic alternatives such as that made from hemp and corn fr example.

    The type of plastic bags that are now chargeable, are  known as the ‘single-use’ plastic bags. ‘Single-use’ anything is not an endorsement for the ecological age we live  in. The movement towards #reusable and #zerowaste is countering the previously normalised throw-away culture that has tried to beguile us for fifty-years.

    The single-use plastic carrier bags were modelled on the sandwich bag that was invented in 1957, and became a popular choice of shopping bag in the 1970s.  Movements, initiatives and laws introduced in the last ten years, have been instrumental in effecting changing. More and more we are reading, listening to and watching environmentalist, ecological and citizens speaking out against the damaging impact petroleum based materials are having on our ecosystem.

    I’ve been using cotton shopping bags for what seems to be an age! I think it was a canny move to create washable bags that can be used to transport your goods, and if or when these become unusable, then they can be recycled or simply composted.

    Here’s to change and a future with only recycled plastic in our midst. And a world that recognises the imperatives of halting all plastic production FOREVER.
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    Coming up:

    -Plastic alternatives

    -Materials that can be recycled