Homemade ‘Naked’ Bars- Cocoa Flavour

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Do you eat those lovely little Nakd bars? Nakd Cocoa Orange Fruit and Nut Bar, 4 x 35g Bars

? I love them, but they’re so expensive- around 75p each where I shop. I decided it was time to try and make my own, since there’s only a handful of ingredients listed on the back of the packet.

I bought a liquidiser attachment for my Kenwood mixer in order to make these (and other dishes). I think you’ll find it quite effortful to make them without a liquidiser or food processor.

Ingredients

  • 100g/ 4oz pitted dates
  • 60g/ 2oz cashews
  • 40g/ 1 1/2oz raisins
  • 7-15g/ 1/4- 1/2 oz cocoa (depends how strong you like it)

Method

  1. Blitz all the ingredients in the liquidiser or food processor, you might need to give them a shake down until they are fairly fine
  2. They wil naturally start to come together but you can press them or knead them by hand
  3. Press into a small tin lined with foil or clingfilm, or you could shape into balls or anything you like really! If you press them flat, like this:

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Then make sure to mark them into bars before you refrigerate, so they’ll be easier to break up.

And there you have it- your very own Naked bars in around 5 minutes! No cooking required and best of all- zero waste! How easy was that? I’m never buying these again.

SWAGO is Back!

Looking for a fun way to get more out of your Swagbucks account? Why not challenge yourself to a game of SWAGO and get up to 100 SB bonus while seeing everything this site has to offer! You know the jingle:

There is a game that has rewards,

And Swago is its name-o

S-W-A-G-O

S-W-A-G-O

S-W-A-G-O

And Swago is its name-o

Swago is BACK!

You didn’t participate in the last round of Swago? Don’t worry here’s what you need to know. We’ve combined Bingo and SB into a whole new earning experience. Here are all the details:

Starting today. Wednesday, January 13th at 12:01am PT/3:01am ET you can pre-register your Swago Board. Go to your Swago Board and hit “Join”. If you don’t hit “Join” you won’t get credit for completing the action items.

The game will begin Monday, January 18th at 12:01am PT/3:01am ET, so sit tight and prep yourself.

Once the game begins, each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete. They can be anything from getting a search win, getting a Survey DQ/OQ, or earning SB in nCrave.

Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will turn blue signifying the action item is complete. 

You have a limited amount of time to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.

Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value. 

Once you’ve achieved a pattern the corresponding “Submit” button will turn blue. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.

The game ends Monday, January 25th at 11:59pm PT/January 26th at 2:59am ET. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus. 

Don’t know what all this Swagbucks buzz is about? Sign up here for your free account and start earning free £3 – £100 Gift Cards or PayPal cash by taking surveys, searching the web, watching videos, or shopping online. They’ve already awarded over $100,000,000 and have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. You won’t regret giving Swagbucks a try!

And Swago is the game-o! 

UK Minimalists or Aspiring Minimalists Wanted for new Channel 4 Programme!

Princess Productions is making a new series for Channel 4 where they basically apply The Minimalists technique of boxing up all your possessions and only taking out what you need. They are looking for participants for a 30 day experiment. You can find out more details and apply here and click on ‘Undressed’. You must be aged 18 or older, a UK resident and at least a 2 person household. You must be a home owner or part of a flat share.

It should be an interesting watch and introduce more people to the concept of Minimalism and owning less. Maybe they will be like me and finally be able to put a name to a feeling they’ve been experiencing.

Have you ever been brave enough to do The Minimalists 30 day challenge on your own? Please let me know in the comments.

Swallow This!

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I grabbed this off the shelf in my local library, as Joanna Blythman is an author/ journalist I really respect. She also wrote a book called SHOPPED: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets

some years ago- revealing the ugly truth about the supermarkets. I was lucky enough to find a copy in a charity shop recently and it’s on my list to read.

Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets

has to be one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. At the end of 14 chapters, I actually wanted to cry. So yes, this is not uplifting reading- I read only one or two chapters a day for this reason. However- it is a subject we should all be educated on- it highlights the massive cover-up operation by the global food industry.

This is a topic I’ve always been passionate about, ever since my days of studying food and nutrition back in the late 1990s. But even I was out-of-date about so many of the innocuous sounding additives they sneak in, under the guise of ‘clean labels’. If I’m using terms you’re unfamiliar with, then I’m not going to ruin it all for you, I’m going to suggest you borrow a copy of the book from your local library. Joanna does a much better job at explaining everything than I do! It is so detailed and everything is referenced in a comprehensive index at the back.

I think that a lot of Minimalist and Zero Waste bloggers have covered some of the topics she talks about, such as BPA in plastics, plastic lined tinned foods and other food packaging, products being pumped with water (particularly raw and cooked meats) and the additives in commercially made bread, to give a few examples. However this book uncovers many more new food technologies that are only just being tried out on the human race.

It makes me more certain than ever that pursuing Zero Waste is the only viable option to maintain our health. It is the only way we can avoid being exposed to these chemicals and manufacturing techniques. The only hazard for me has been spending hours in shops scouring the labels (but as this book will teach you, many of the dangerous processing aids manufacturers use don’t even need to be declared on labels!) At times it leads to a new dilemma between choosing the more Zero Waste friendly option or choosing the safer food option that isn’t laced with so many chemicals.

Since reading this book I have made a concerted effort to steer away from Supermarkets as much as possible- opting for my local butchers, green grocers and health food stores. They are not perfect in terms of Zero Waste packaging, but maybe I can educate them. They are better quality foods and I am supporting local families and businesses. I am also going to buy a bread machine, so that we never eat nasty additive laced bread and bakery products again. I am even more consciously trying not to rely on canned goods and make my own food from scratch. Even if this means that I end up spending more time at home, engaged in traditional ‘homemaking’ type chores- I have decided that I would rather know exactly what I am putting into my body than pay for expensive, potentially dangerous manufactured foods.

I hope that I may be able to cover some of the chapter topics in more detail in future posts, but I just wanted to get this post out there so that you can share in this information. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read this book, so please come back and comment when you have!

Lush

Today I want to write about a local, ethical and sustainable business called Lush. Chances are, you’ve probably heard of them already- I think they’re best known for the bath bombs and the amazing smells that emanate from their stores!

Ever since I read Bea Johnson’s Book about a year ago, I have been looking for Zero Waste toiletries. Lush immediately sprang to mind, as I knew a tiny bit about them- in the recesses of my mind, probably because they are local. I’ll admit that I wasn’t that keen on them- I found the smell in their stores completely over-powering and even walking too close, when passing by was too much for me! I’d even been given the odd bar of soap and not liked the smell, so sold it on eBay.

However, things were different this time- I wasn’t looking just to purchase toiletries- I was looking for a more ethical, zero waste purchase. They are in-fact pretty unique, as most organic toiletries are still packaged in plastic. As shampoo and conditioner were the things I was about to run out of, I tried their solid shampoo and conditioner bars. They were fab, completely unpackaged, free of silicones and very convenient- as they last much longer than bottles. We have never looked back, even though we’re paying slightly more for our toiletries. I now have total peace of mind that we’re doing our bit for the environment and are supporting a local business, thus also keeping our carbon footprint as low as possible. They are actually made about 3 miles from my house- although I have to drive over twice as far to get to a store!

I recently placed my 1st online order as they had a sale and I wanted to share this with you, as a great example of a sustainable company working towards zero waste.

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A recycled cardboard box arrived, sealed with paper tape. The first thing that hits you is the gorgeous smell coming from the box- unfortunately I can’t convey this over the web!

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Inside was a copy of my order and ingredients lists for all the products I had ordered, all printed two-sided on recycled paper. I felt this was a little unnecessary for me personally, as I am perfectly capable of going online to check these things. I am going to contact them and ask if they could provide an option to opt out of paper communications in your order.

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Your order comes packaged in what looks like polystyrene chips, but they are in-fact Eco Chips! They are completely biodegradable and one of their assistants recently gave me a demo in-store, where they dissolve completely in water. They are made from potato starch and also biodegrade quickly in soil. I will be keeping mine for re-use, in one of my many eBay parcels. I will make sure I make a note to tell their future recipient about them.

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This was my order- all safely stowed underneath. As you can see, most of the products I ordered are solid and come completely unpackaged. In the top right are solid conditioner bars, but because I ordered so many (I stocked up at 1/2 price!) that little cardboard box contains 8 more. Disappointingly, it is sealed with plastic tape- another thing I will be contacting them to ask about!

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So here are all my goodies in their unpacked glory. I have got my first unpackaged Lush soap to try- it’s the rectangular one in the middle and is marzipan fragranced. Above this is a yellow, citrus ‘massage bar’- this is actually a solid body lotion. The bright pink and green items are solid conditioners, as you can see it’s stamped on them. I’ve got the pink one to try because at 1/2 price it’s a good opportunity to do so- as Lush recommend. This is also why I bought the gift set.

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The Winter Garden gift set is a giant metal bauble and is packed inside with Eco Chips to protect the contents. I will re-use this to make a gift for someone in the future.

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Inside, a tub of hand cream, a rose jam shower gel and an Elder and Bergamot solid soap. Lush pots are made from 100% recycled black plastic (polypropylene) which is far more easily recycled. They have also changed their labels from paper to plastic, so that they can all be recycled together. Lush seek to make their  plastic recycling activities closed loop, in turn creating zero waste and so customers are encouraged to return empty, washed pots to their store. They offer an incentive of a free face mask for every 5 full-sized pots returned. This initiative is mentioned on a sticker on the side of their pots. They also moved production from China to a factory in Poole, 1 mile away from their own- so their carbon footprint has been massively reduced too. this in-turn is further supporting the local economy. There is also a mini brochure containing details of most of their products available in store. Again, I would prefer not to have this but I understand they might want to promote their products to people who wouldn’t normally purchase them and don’t know about their ethics.

This little lot cost me around £50 in the sale, including delivery which was a really good deal. Lush only have a sale once a year and it only contains short-dated products and Christmas gift sets. This is because they believe that they are charging a fair price all year round, for their ethically sourced, handmade and zero waste products. I find it really helps me when I’m shopping, as I’m not tempted to buy things that I don’t need and I’m not (normally) tempted to stock up. As their items are made using minimal preservatives, they are best used fresh. But solid items do have a longer shelf-life, since they don’t have as much water in them. If you go in-store, they will package your solid items in a recycled paper bag or  you can buy metal tins to fit them which you can then re-use. I also take my paper bags back each time and re-use them until they fall apart.

Overall, I feel enormously proud to be supporting this local company. They have been around for over 20 years- let’s hope they are here for many, many more!

Start the New Year as you mean to go on!

The New Year is here! Take a minute and reflect back on all the goals you set your for yourself for 2015. Did you accomplish all of your goals? Great! Did you fall short on a couple? Not a problem, it’s important to always try and better yourself!   New Year’s resolutions are a time-honored tradition. There’s is nothing better than giving yourself an official start date to a new you. And what better time than January?

It’s no secret that better health is at the top of most people’s New Year’s resolution lists. Improving the health of your mind, body, and spirit is an integral part to success in almost all facets of life whether it be in your relationships or business! Hopefully this month’s Search & Learn from Swagbucks is a step in the right direction:

Swagbucks Search & Learn: Mind, Body, Spirit.

For those of you who haven’t participated in a Swagbucks Search & Learn, Here’s how it works (Official rules here):

1. Go to the Search & Learn page (you can get there from the button on top left of the Swagbucks home page) each day from January 4th – January 8th.

2. Each day Swagbucks will have 5 new questions related to one of the following categories:

  • Health Nuts
  • Yogis
  • Meditation Dedication
  • Gym Rats
  • Couch Potatoes

3. You can either click on the category card OR search from your defaulted Swagbucks Search Engine to find the correct answer!

4. Once you find the answers to all 5 questions, click on the button that says Win 500 SB on the Search & Learn page and complete that day’s survey.

5. Each correct answer (up to 5 each day) will enter you into a drawing to win one of 5 prizes of $5*!

6. Swagbucks will announce the 5 winners the following day at 10am PDT/1pm EDT (Friday’s winners will be announced the following Monday).

ALSO – when you use Swagbucks Search as your defaulted search engine during this promotion, you will be entered (up to 5 times per day) into a drawing to win the following prizes:

Grand Prize – $500*

Runner Up Prizes (20) – $5**

All winnings will be paid out in SB. Winners of the Grand Prize and Runner Up Prizes will be announced on Friday, January 15th.

This post was sponsered by Swagbucks. But I fully endorse their website, as I earn £30-£50 every month for very little effort. Please use my link to sign up. Thank you!

Zero Waste Potato Crisps/ Chips/ Skins

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There aren’t many left, as we ate about half already! I was making a fish pie this evening and I happened to have been reading my copy of The Tightwad Gazette this afternoon. I hit upon inspiration, after reading a recipe in there. These crisps/ chips (depending on where you live) are made from potato peelings. I just put some oil on the tray and sprinkled them with salt and pepper before roasting at 220 degrees C for around 8-10 minutes. They are simply delicious and completely waste free! Furthermore, we discard the most nutritious part of the potato when we compost the skins. Or at least that’s what I was always told!

The recipe that inspired me suggested adding onion and garlic powder, taking them out at 10 minutes and sprinkling with grated cheese before returning to the oven for a few more minutes. This also sounds very tasty. After making these, I have persuaded my husband that we can stop buying crisps! This will eliminate possibly the largest part of our household’s waste- from crisp packets and the larger packets they come in.

I have also read about a microwave version which I hope to try in due course. Do you make your own potato crisps/ chips?