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The Armchair Personal Trainer

Ways to make your life a bit healthier.

Mel Yates, G&G

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...

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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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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 and...

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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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Better-for-you plants

The story of plants is long. They first appeared on earth about 700 million years ago and have since evolved into the weird and wonderful. Take Nepenthes Attenboroughli as an example. It looks like a green kitchen jug, harmless enough until you take a peek inside and discover a concoction of acids and enzymes.  Unlucky mice and rats fall into it, are digested, never to be seen again. And yes, it was named after the far kinder natured David Attenborough.

Lucky for us, most plants are not the carnivorous type and make a nice addition to the office. According to NASA, some even have the ability to purify air and eliminate certain airborne impurities. Sounds good, so here’s our top pick of better-for-you plants.

1. Areca Palm

Like donning on Versace and making an entrance? Then the Areca Palm is for you. They grow big, bold and command attention. Most are purchased as pups and then add an iPhone in height every year until they could give Usain Bolt a run for his money. They love bright airy rooms so make sure you have enough space for them grown up in.

2. Peace Lilly

Keep things posh, pretty and do your bit for a harmonious world with a Peace Lilly. They’re very popular and great if your green fingers are a little forgetful since they rarely need watering. They may be small but are excellent at keeping air fresh. Keep them sparkling with the occasional damp cloth wipe down.

3. Snake Plant

Remember the “If everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagon” adverts in 80s? Well, if VW made plants, this would be it. Stick one in the corner, water every fortnight and it will purr away as happy as a kitten’s first encounter with catnip. And while it’s not bothering you, NASA has shown it’s one of the best plants to remove some of those not so friendly impurities in the air. 

4. Philodendron

Become a plant whisperer with a Philodendron, they (kind of) talk to you. They love the indoors and will love you more if you place them in bright, indirect sunlight. Place near a window but where the sun never catches its leaves. If they...

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