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25 July 2014

Giving YouTube a go - and Grabble #grabamakeover event

Just a quick post today because I know you all would much rather be frolicking in the sunshine and eating a Solero than stuck inside blog reading (and I don't blame you).  But if you do have a spare 8 minutes and 34 seconds - maybe the sun has nipped behind a cloud or you've popped inside to slather on the sunscreen - I have made another YouTube video and I thought I'd post it on here to see if you guys like it.  It's about 50% actual videos of an event I went to and then 50% me trying to film an introduction to the video and basically being a complete goon and whinging about my house not being 'YouTubable' enough.  I bet that's piqued your interest right?



Starting YouTube is a little like starting a blog all over again - hoping people will want to watch it, and hoping they'll enjoy it and not be completely turned off!  Even if no-one watches them though, I think I'm going to keep doing them - making videos has really got my creative juices flowing again and I've enjoyed learning how to use Movie Maker and thinking about how I can make them better.  I have another one in edit mode at the moment of a few bits we've been up to recently and I'm really looking forward to sharing that one too. If you have any ideas for videos or tips or suggestions, please do let me know.

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23 July 2014

Movenpick Ice Cream Recipe Challenge - Peanut butter and ice cream brownie roll

I don't know what's happened, but my inbox lately is less full of emails from fashion PRs or offers of clothing samples, and instead I seem to be getting lots of emails about food.  Clearly, I am not complaining - if there's one thing I love in life and spend most of my waking moments thinking about, it's food.  And whatever has caused the sea change (should I be insulted that I'm apparently currently more suited to chocolate tasting than modelling dresses?) I'm definitely embracing it.

But if there's one food related campaign that's definitely trumped them all of late, it's this one from Movenpick - do I want to receive some yummy ice cream and sundae glasses? YES.  And whip up some recipes with said ice cream for the chance of winning a masterclass with a pastry chef? Well, durrrrr. WAIT - by whip up a recipe do you mean eat it out of the tub with a spoon? Um, no.  Hmm, this one is definitely going to be slightly out of my comfort zone...

So, having established that the most creative I usually get with my ice cream consumption is to eat it out of a bowl rather than straight from the carton, I needed to put some serious thought into my ice cream recipe making, and find out more about the ice cream in question - Movenpick.  Movenpick was a serious case of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon (okay fact fans, here we go - the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is where you come across something new, a word, a band, a name, etc, and then all of a sudden, you go from not happening upon it for your entire life, and then all of a sudden it's everywhere).  ANYWAY - so, uncultured in the world of ice cream as I previously was, I'd never heard of Movenpick, and then all of a sudden it was everywhere I went, and everyone seemed to be raving about this rather dreamy sounding Swiss ice cream.  I needed to investigate.

Movenpick kindly sent me an Ocado voucher to pick up my choice of flavours and start experimenting.  My first challenge was narrowing down which flavours to try.  In the end, I went for Caramelita, Raspberry and Strawberry and Maple and Walnut.  I got stuck into the Caramelita as soon as it arrived - and it was heavenly.  In fact, I got a little carried away and ate half of the carton before I remembered I was supposed to be crafting a recipe...

Inspired by a recipe on MyRecipes.com I decided to make a sort of chocolate and peanut butter arctic/swiss roll.  I figured that by combining three of my favourite things - brownies, peanut butter, and ice cream, what could go wrong? I used a box brownie mix to speed up the recipe but obviously you can use your own brownie recipe if you have a favourite.

Brownie peanut butter ice cream roll

Peanut butter and Caramelita ice cream brownie roll

Ingredients

1 box brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix)
1 pint Movenpick Caramelita ice cream
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven according to the brownie mix instructions.  Grease a rectangular baking tin (I used a 12 x 15" roasting tin - I'd recommend something slightly smaller) and line with baking/parchment paper.  The package instructions will probably recommend an 8"x8" brownie tin but you need a rectangular baking tin in order to achieve the shape required for the roll effect.

2. Prepare the brownie mix according to the package instructions and pour the batter into the tin.  You want to aim for about half of the thickness you would usually use for brownies to achieve the 'swiss roll' effect. Use a spatula to smooth the surface of the batter.

3. Because of the difference in thickness, the brownie mixture will probably take a little less time and you want to take it out when it is just done - mine took between 15 and 20 minutes (the instructions recommended 20-25 minutes).  Remove pan to a wire rack and let brownie cool.

4. Once brownie has cooled, run a knife along sides of pan to loosen it. Place a piece of parchment as big (or larger) as your baking tin and invert brownie onto a baking tray and peel off parchment.

5. Refrigerate ice cream to soften, should take about 10 to 20 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix honey, vanilla and peanut butter. Using a knife or spatula, carefully spread peanut butter mixture evenly over brownie, leaving a 1-inch border on each long side.

6. Using a spoon, scoop out thin slabs of softened ice cream and arrange along center of peanut butter layer. Spread ice cream just down middle of brownie.

7. With one long side of pan facing you, carefully lift parchment under brownie and roll brownie into a swiss roll, laying it seam side down to seal. Put in freezer immediately and freeze for at least 2 hours. Dust with unsweetened cocoa powder, if desired.

I took this out of the freezer after a few hours and sliced it up like swiss roll and it was incredible. The hard crust of the brownie, the smoothness of the peanut butter and then the creamy ice cream were the perfect combo!

Movenpick caramelita challenge Movenpick Caramelita
Brownie peanut butter ice cream roll

Even though I just ate some more of this about half an hour ago, just looking at those photos is making me want to head to the freezer again!

I'm excited that I still have two more flavours to try - do you have any recommendations for recipes I should try with these? (Or shall I just go back to my old ways of spoon and tub....?)

Movenpick

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21 July 2014

Supercharge your smoothies

Over the last few years, fruit smoothies have seen a huge boom, with a smoothie maker being a staple item in most people's kitchens (whether or not it gathers dust alongside the breadmaker remains to be seen!) Most people accept that whizzing up fruit, milk and yoghurt in the morning is a pretty good way to start the day. Previously the territory of bodybuilders and gym addicts only, protein shakes also seem to be incredibly popular lately, with lots of people picking up protein powders to throw in smoothies or even mix into pancakes and baking.

I'm definitely a huge smoothie fan, and my staple smoothie recipe usually involves soy milk or coconut milk, banana or frozen fruit, protein powder and a glob of peanut butter.  So when Indigo Herbs got in touch about whipping up some smoothie recipes, I was excited to try out a few new combinations.  Little did I know that they'd be sending me some ingredients that would change my smoothie making forever!

Smoothie

Indigo Herbs are a family run business based in Glastonbury who are passionate about organic, wildcrafted and quality assured health products, including herbal teas, powders and tinctures, superfoods, whole foods and lots more.

They sent me a hamper full of smoothie ingredients - including a banana and a mango, but also some rather intriguing super-foods to add to my smoothies to really supercharge their health benefits.  I've listed some of these, along with their amazing benefits (I know this might seem a bit like a yawn-some science lesson but I wanted to include their benefits so you can see just how much of a punch these powders pack).

Wheatgrass ~ is a natural source of Antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, the B group vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and panthothenic acid and minerals manganese, zinc, magnesium and iron.  Many claim that wheatgrass has a higher nutritional content than any other vegetable, protects against inflammation, builds red blood cells and improves circulation (Wheatgrass Powder, £4.39)

Acai Powder ~ helps to increase your antioxidant levels to aid in neutralising damaging free radicals, boosts your energy levels, supports your immune system and helps to promote a healthy digestive system. (Acai Powder, £7.99)

Spirulina ~  is a nutrient rich blue-green Algae with many health benefits.  It is a natural source of functional vitamins & minerals, high in Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and a good source of B12.  It is also high in protein with 64.2g per 100g, and to add to that a vegetarian source of protein! (Spirulina Powder, £8.99)

Purple Corn Extract ~ contains a variety of plant nutrients including massive amounts of phenolics and anthocyanins.  Studies show that a diet rich in polyphenolic compounds is associated with reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Recent research in both animals and humans have shown that increasing polyphenol intake can protect against atherosclerosis, lower blood pressure, reduces blood clots and elevate antioxidant capacity of the blood. (Purple Corn Powder Extract, £9.99)

Banana Powder ~ made from Red Bananas, banana powder includes B vitamins, is a source of carbohydrates, provides an energy boost, and is a good source of potassium (ensuring healthy nervous system, brain and heart function) and a concentrated source of nutrition. (Organic Raw Banana Powder, £4.49)

Beetroot Powder ~ contains high levels of important vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. Rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, A, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, calcium, copper, phosphorous, sodium, iodine, boron, soluble and insoluble fiber. Beetroot is a rich source of carbohydrates and protein. (Beetroot Powder, £7.99)

You can add this powders easily into smoothies - when you think that putting a tablespoon of powder into a smoothie in the morning could help lower cholestrol, improve circulation, promote healthy digestion, reduce the risk of cancer and give you an amazing hit of nutrition and vitamins, I think it's a bit of a no-brainer!

Smoothie ingredients Smoothie

Here are a couple of my favourite smoothie recipes, adding some ingredients to supercharge them courtesy of Indigo Herbs...

Green smoothie 
Small avocado
Handful of almonds
150ml coconut milk
1 tbsp wheatgrass powder
1 tbsp banana powder
1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Berry and banana bonanza
One banana
250g blueberries
75g plain yoghurt
1 tbsp wheatgrass powder
1 tbsp Acai powder

Bounty 
One banana
Handful of cashews
150ml almond milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp purple corn extract
1 tbsp raw cacao (or organic cocoa powder)

This morning's was a chopped peach, a chopped nectarine, coconut milk, strawberry flavoured protein powder, banana powder and acai powder.  It was so fruity and delicious - perfect for summer!

Smoothie

What are your favourite smoothie combinations? Have you tried any of these superfood powders? Make sure you check out Indigo Herbs so you too can supercharge your morning smoothies!

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