Made from the finest responsibly-sourced Madagascan cocoa and crafted by expert Belgian chocolatiers, these dark chocolate chips from Nibble Simply are sweetened with coconut sugar, which the experts say, is better for you! Grown in mineral-rich soil, Madagascan cocoa is one of the very best and one of the most exclusive, cocoas in the world, accounting for less than 1% of chocolate globally.
Another thing, cocoa is full of flavonoids with antioxidant qualities which help protect skin against damage from UV rays and pollution that speeds up skin ageing.
Goodies from the Nibble Group are fabulously different! Their lower-in- sugar, vegan snacks and bites are made with the best all-natural ingredients, nothing at all nasty lurks within! And they contain a fraction of the sugar of other snack bars. The two delicious ranges are:
NIBBLE SIMPLY: Made with a handful of the finest ingredients, the little keto-friendly bites are super healthy with 55%+ fewer carbs, 60%+ less sugar and 160%+ more protein than their cookie counterparts.
NIBBLE PROTEIN: Protein-packed bites are made with antioxidant dried plum purée. No sugar-laden dates or high GI sweeteners here.
I was sent a pack of Nibble's yummy Madagascan chocolate chips to try and yes, they are fabulously rich and tasty! Definitely moreish!
All NIBBLE natural bites are vegan, soy and gluten free. The clever people there have avoided the most commonly used proteins: whey (dairy-based) and soy. Instead they opted for pea protein which
contains no dairy or soy (common allergens) and it is sustainable - so, goodie! no cows required! It is also alkaline forming to help keep your body in balance and since it is a slow digesting protein, studies show it keeps you fuller for longer than whey protein. What's not to like?
Nibble also contains other healthy ingredients including gluten-free oats, toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds and tasty dried plum purée. Now, dried plums, prunes by another name, are in fact, the original superfood. Well-known for being high in fibre, they're also tops for antioxidant power and contain over 40% less sugar than dates. As well as that, nutrient-rich dried plums are a good source of iron, potassium, boron - necessary for strong bones & muscles, magnesium and vitamins K and A. Wow! They are deliciously low GI too. No wonder dried plum purée is the base of the Nibble Protein range.
Kew Gardens orchid festival is back and it's better than ever! Inspired by Cameroon's beauty and bio-diversity, this colourful celebration is sure to brighten up the winter months and it is the first time that this festival, the 27th! has been inspired by an African nation.
Cameroon is home to an incredible number of orchid species, some are so rare that their locations are kept secret. From lush rainforests and volcanic mountains to deserts, Cameroon's huge variety of plants and wildlife are supported by varied habitats, reflected across the ten climatic zones within the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew.
A lot of work went into the displays for the Orchid festival, they took three weeks to create, each one assembled by a team of around 100 volunteers and 12 horticultural staff. The festival runs from 4 February to 5 March, 2023 and also features an array of sculptured animals inspired by the wildlife of Cameroon. There's a larger then life lion, giraffes, hippos and gorillas.
When purchasing a ticket to Kew Gardens, entry to Orchids in included. For best value tickets, book in advance at kew.org. Tickets for Orchids After Hours should be booked in advance.
Photos (c) Kew Gardens & Gilly Pickup
Everyone knows how important a good night's sleep is but unfortunately for many, it isn’t as simple as just getting into bed and nodding off.
Sleep is just as crucial for our health and wellbeing as oxygen and water, but the trials and tribulations of modern life can make it almost impossible for most of us to achieve a full night of quality sleep. Whether it’s worrying about the cost-of-living crisis or stressing about work, you’re not alone. According to The Sleep Charity, 40% of people in the UK suffer with sleep issues and don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours per night.
Never fear. Help is at hand from Claire Logan of boutique bath, body and home fragrance brand, ARRAN Sense of Scotland. Here are her top tips on giving your bedtime routine a major makeover to help calm, relax and prepare for that all-important sleep, as well as sleep-busting products to help improve the quality of your ZZZs.
Keep to a Sleep Routine
Routine is a great place to start when you’re trying to improve your sleep. Decide when you want to wake up and work back from there. You should aim for between 7-9 hours a night to boost your circadian rhythm and get a properly restorative sleep.
Try to get up at the same time every day if possible, including weekends. Being consistent with your sleep schedule helps reinforce your body’s sleep / wake cycle. If you don’t fall asleep in around 20 minutes or so, get up and do something to relax yourself rather than getting frustrated, which can be counter-productive. Go back to bed when you feel ready for sleep but try to keep to your scheduled wake-up time.
It’s also important to think about your activities before bed and incorporate these into your sleep routine. Certain activities like high impact exercise, watching TV or learning a new skill, can be mental stimulants, not only keeping you awake for longer but also reducing your sleep quality. Swapping them for something more therapeutic, for instance, restorative yoga, breathing exercises, meditation or reading, sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to wind down and switch off.
Avoid going to bed when hungry or too full as this can affect the quality of your sleep. Limit alcohol and caffeine as the stimulation they provide can take hours to wear off.
Wash the Day Away
Life can be busy so it’s important to destress and relax at the end of every day to improve your sleep. Start your evening routine by washing the day away with a bath or shower – Claire’s advice is to try to make time for a relaxing bath before bed at least once a week. Hot baths may reduce blood pressure and it’s also thought that a sweat from a hot bath can burn as many calories as taking a walk, a brilliant added bonus.
Adding the right products will enhance your bath time experience, so try a detoxifying face mask and heavenly scented bath salts. Soak in the bath for at least 20 minutes to allow the healing and relaxing properties to take effect.
Transform ordinary bathing into a ritual bath, a ceremony to clear toxic energy and let go of anything that isn’t serving you. Use your bath to help set new intentions. Focus on what’s troubling you and add fragrances that will help deal with that. Lavender and Chamomile is great for relaxing while citrus aromas lift spirits and rejuvenate. You can also try writing your troubles down and burning them with a candle, a physical symbol of letting go, before getting into the bath to cleanse and rejuvenate.
Create a Bedroom Sanctuary
One of the absolute best things you can do to reduce stress and promote good sleep is create a space dedicated to relaxation. Making your bedroom strictly a sleep sanctuary is a great way to sleep train your brain. If you don’t have the time or budget for a full refresh, here are some quick, affordable update ideas.
Start by clearing clutter. Less is definitely more when creating a bedroom sanctuary. It’s much easier to fully relax in a space without clutter; a minimalist style is key for engendering a serene and calm environment without over-stimulating the brain. Banish light-emitting electronic devices that are proven to be disruptive to sleep.
Add clean crisp bed linens in classic white for a luxury hotel feel. Channel tranquil vibes when thinking about bathroom décor, neutrals, pale blues and serene greens are known to promote a soothing atmosphere, whilst nature-inspired colours such as earthy browns, soft greys and sage greens give off an organic and calming effect.
One of the easiest things to do is open the window daily to let in some fresh air. You can also try adding air purifying plants to help focus your mind. Easy to care for plants such as succulents are great for adding a touch of colour as well as being decorative and helping create a healthy environment.
Introduce scented candles; a de-stress double whammy of calming fragrance and soft, ambient lighting. Worried about naked flames? Diffusers have the same effect and you can add in mood lighting with fairy lights or a dimmer lamp. You can also try is pillow or linen spray made from organic or natural ingredients. Spritz on bedding, soft furnishings or towels when required. A lavender pillow spray or pulse point oil can help reduce sleep anxiety and improve sleep quality.
Some Sleep Essentials Ideas to Try
Sleep Essentials from ARRAN Sense of Scotland
Lavender has long since been used to aid sleep, whilst spearmint is said to improve memory and balance hormones. Escape to your own island spa with ARRAN’s Glen Iorsa range. It's the perfect fragrance for soothing anxiety and promoting tranquillity.
ARRAN’s Apothecary collection is inspired by the ancient crafts of the alchemist, tried and trusted remedies which act as an antidote to modern living. Try the Apothecary Seaweed & Sage range created with clary sage to promote restful sleep by helping to reduce the effects of stress.
ARRAN Sense of Scotland creates bath, body and home fragrance collections inspired by and proudly made on the Isle of Arran. For three decades the family-run company has created evocative scents from its Home Farm factory, an old dairy farm near historic Brodick Castle. From the freshwater spring to a pinch of seasoned gorse, there’s a bit of Arran in every single product.
images: all courtesy of ARRAN Sense of Scotland
JRNY shakes are ideal for increasing your protein intake and, for those in a hurry, a healthy on-the-go, tasty meal. Good so far? Read on.....
JRNY shakes comes in two flavours, Madagascan Vanilla and Double Chocolate Brownie. They're vegan, free from GMOs and don't contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners. There is one serving in each sachet and all you have to do is add water and drink. How simple is that?
Protein in the shakes comes from peas and white hemp. Some protein shakes offer a single source of protein, usually hemp, soy, rice or pea, but JRNY go one better to offer a blend of different plant proteins. That way you benefit from different amino acids. The shakes also contain 16 vitamins and minerals essential to women's health and energy and are ideal for vegans who can find it difficult to get enough protein in their diet.
JRNY is a first class way to support a healthy, active lifestyle
How to make JRNY shakes
Add 200 to 400 ml water depending on how thick you want your drink to be and mix it in a blender. JRNY shakes mix easily, so you won't get any yukky lumpy bits.
I really like the fact that JRNY’s website reinforces the message that health is not about a specific body shape or certain size . The company promotes body positivity, so extra kudos to them.
Protecting the environment is important. JRNY comes in paper sachets inside a cardboard box. Everything is recyclable or biodegradable.
My verdict? I REALLY like JRNY Vegan Protein Shakes. They're tasty, convenient, eco-conscious and healthy. What's not to like?
Head to JRNY website where you can buy the plant-based protein shakes. In the vegan line of protein powders, you can choose either the double chocolate brownie flavour, Madagascan vanilla flavour or throw caution to the winds and order a combination of the two.
www.yourjrny.com for more info.
Disclaimer: The lovely people at JRNY sent me sachets for review purposes. My opinions are my own.
images (c) JRNY
Thank you JRNY for sending me this product to test.
Seaweed has been used for wellbeing and in skin and hair care for thousands of years, but why is it special? What are the potential benefits of adding it to your skincare routine? Read on to find out ...
The skincare experts at ARRAN Sense of Scotland share their knowledge on the beauty benefits of seaweed, as well as picking the best seaweed products from their range.
One of the best sellers from its apothecary range, ARRAN Sense of Scotland’s Seaweed and Sage collection is available across a range of hair and skincare products. Sage and Seaweed soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion are formulated with purifying and mineral-rich seaweed extract as well as sweet-smelling lemon, geranium, and orange for a revitalising start to your day. Seaweed extract is an excellent skin and body care ingredient, it cleanses and detoxifies while also increasing moisture and reducing pigmentation.
Cleansing and detoxing
One benefit of seaweed is that it cleanses and detoxifies naturally. In some forms it can be used as an exfoliant to brighten skin clearing build-up of dirt and bacteria to uncover radiant looking freshness.
The Apothecary Seaweed and Sage Bath and Shower Gel is available at £14.00.
Do you suffer from redness and irritated skin? Opt for skincare products containing seaweed which contains natural anti-inflammatories and is rich in vitamin B to soothe and calm skin.
The Apothecary Seaweed and Sage Hand Wash and Hand Cream is available at £14.00 online: https://arran.com/collections/seaweed-and-sage
Helping balance oil production
Seaweed is thought to cut down the oil film on skin, helping it to naturally balance the production of oil, making it great for acne prone, oily or combination skin types.
The Seaweed and Sage Body Lotion is available online at £14.00.
Fight free radical damage
Seaweed aims to deliver antioxidants to protect against external damage caused in our everyday exposure to external factors such as UV rays and pollution.
The Seaweed and Sage Soap is available at £8.00 online.
Strengthens hair from within
Take advantage of the fruits of the sea ARRAN Sense of Scotland’s seaweed infused products.
The Apothecary Sage and Seaweed Shampoo and Conditioner are available at £14.00 each at https://arran.com/collections/seaweed-and-sage
Claire Logan, of ARRAN Sense of Scotland, said: “Being an island, Arran is surrounded by the sea and it’s healing properties, not just the fruits it bears but also the benefits it has for general wellbeing. Reflecting summertime and seaside visits that often ensue, it’s a great time to take a look at the benefits of seaweed for skincare and haircare, uncovering just what’s in this special ingredient that makes it so nourishing. Thanks to its unique combination of wholesome properties - antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and fibre, seaweed is one of our favourite ingredients that goes into our naturally nourishing skin and hair care products.
I did not receive products in exchange for this write-up - I ljust like them!
Many of us have problems with our hair - whether it's lacklustre, skimpy, falling out or just simply doesn't have the - 'oomph!' - that we want. No need to fret though, because Hair Gain says all that could be a thing of the past .... read on for more
Backed by trichologists, Hair Gain hair care range combines the clinically-tested AnaGain™ ingredient . Derived from organic pea shoots, biotin, selenium and zinc all contribute to the maintenance of normal hair. Yes, the pea shoot is small but jolly mighty when it comes to hair loss. Its super powerful phytonutrients are clinically proven to stimulate fuller and thicker hair at the root.
Why does our hair fall out or get thinner as we age? It isn't unusual and happens to lots of people. There are many reasons. It can happen when we are stressed and of course starting to lose our hair makes us more stressed. Bad situation. When stressed, different things happen to our bodies, not just the outward signs that you might be aware of like poor sleep and the familiar frazzled-brain feeling but it can affect your appetite which often has a knock-on effect on our hair health too. Calories, ie energy, are required for new hair follicle growth and if you experience extended periods of inadequate calorie intake, this can make horrid things happen to your hair. If you find yourself eating less, your body starts to conserve calories you eat for vital bodily functions - that's the brain, heart and liver. Not hair growth, that isn't at the top of the list.
Some real life, 'before and after' stories are on site here > Hair Gain
Taking time to de-stress is important for mood, sleep and hair. Try to give yourself an hour every day to unwind and relax. This should help alleviate unnecessary adrenal strain and help keep your hormones balanced. Read a book, have a bath, practise mindfulness or yoga. Sleep can help improve hair health, too. Try to sleep in a cool, dark, well-ventilated room and add warm milk or herbal teas to your bedtime routine to help you relax.
And here's a thing. Did you know, water plays a key role in the health of your hair? Not only does water make up approximately 55% total blood volume, the key fluid for nourished hair; it is also necessary for hair follicles to grow optimally - new proteins can only occur in the presence of well-hydrated cells. Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water, experts say at least two litres daily.
Then there's tea or coffee, a different story. Try and keep a check on how much you’re drinking, because too much isn’t good. Tea and coffee act as diuretics and drinking more than three cups daily could be more dehydrating than hydrating. if it's a problem for you, swap your caffeinated cups for herbal teas and non-caffeinated brews.
Hair Gain has lots of useful information about hair health on their site, do take a look. I'm giving some of their lovely goodies a try and will report my findings in a couple of months or so.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist /author of 13 books. Credits incl: Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, CNN, BBC mags, The Scotsman, Daily Express, Country & Town House, Metro, Countryfile, Tatler, trade & consumer cruise titles etc.