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Knebworth House Garden Show

Knebworth House Garden Show

Last weekend I headed to Knebworth House for their Garden Show. I am a sucker for garden shows, events and centres. I do have one slight issues however, I can’t garden.

My Granddad was a keen gardener, focusing mostly on fruits and vegetables. He was a pro at it, trying to teach me for many years but I never did pick it up. Without getting my hands dirty I am pretty terrible, I don’t think my Granddad ever trusted me to lay my hands on his crops. I always let him work his magic whilst I sat and watched, then ate the rewards afterwards.

My Nanna is a pro in the flower department. Now my granddad is sadly no longer with us, the vegetable patch has reduced significantly and the rest of the garden is my Nanna’s colourful paradise. In an attempt to live on my Granddad’s skills, I started with a very small patch of herbs and kale (obviously). The flower department however, I think I will leave that to my Nan.

Whenever I have tried to grow plants I simply kill them off in a matter of weeks. I had a beautiful in-house plant that needed watering once a week; killed that off. I even had a cactus once. I wouldn’t say I killed that one, but fair to say it had it’s way with me. After far too many pricks in my hand, legs and arms, he had to go.

Now I go to garden shows, centres and events just to admire the pretty plants and dream of one day being able to grow my own plant paradise. The thought of being able to grow all my own vegetables, at least, would be absolutely amazing. Call me quack-ers, but it’s true. Nothing beats home-grown produce. Satiety, nourishment and fulfilment, let alone money saving! The flower department would be beautiful, but I think I’ll start with the produce. If you have any tips or advice I would be very grateful.

 

Why I’m not giving up food for lent

Why I’m not giving up food for lent

Why I’m not giving up food for lent.

Each year lent comes and goes, many don’t succeed and for some they do. Most of those who take part in lent have no religious beliefs what so ever, however they want to challenge themselves to give up something to see if they can do it. I am all for supporting peoples desires and if you do this and succeed at it then that is super creditable; good on you!!

I just wanted to share why I won’t be giving up anything for lent this year, and haven’t done for a good few years.

Lent is a religious event where Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. In his honour people give up something for this period of time, mostly a food item. I’m not aware of the “rules” but I know some people chose to give up a behaviour, which is great!

I questioned lent for a few days in the run up thinking, what should I give up? I googled lent and saw the reasoning for it and I knew straight away I wasn’t going to give up a food. Firstly, I’m not religious, but I always like a challenge. The thing that occurred to me however is that for once in my life there isn’t one item of food I want to give up!

I am finally in a great place with my diet and my mind and this means that I can eat anything I desire; no limitations! Coming from an eating disorder it was always about giving up a food, restriction, eating good and eating bad. There was no balance. Fast forward to March 1st 2017 I can say that there is not 1 item of food (or drink for that matter) that I feel I need to give up!

For others you may feel you need to give up something for whatever reason, but if this is the case then don’t let Lent be your reasoning. Do it for you and your health, this doesn’t need to start tomorrow, or at New Years, start now and for the long term.

If you are religious, then go for it! Your beliefs go way beyond just giving up a food for health, it’s your religion. I am just going on why many people I know give up a food for lent, and that isn’t for religious beliefs.

Good luck to all those giving up something for Lent and do what you love, follow what you love, and be happy in doing so.

 

How chocolate is made: Amazon Rainforest

How chocolate is made: Amazon Rainforest

 

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Hello you beautiful people !!

I have just returned from four days in the Amazon Rainforest and I had such an amazing time. During my time exploring the jungle I was fortunate enough to learn all about one of my favourite foods ever, cacao. It grows wild here in the Amazon and everywhere I walked I stumbled across it; heaven. To be honest, before entering the Amazon I couldn’t have told you what cacao looked like before being crushed into a powder or nib but now I can.

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I have spoken about it before but in case you didn’t know, it is one of the best sources of vitamin C you can get and contains the highest amount of Antioxidants than any other food! They also contain the highest natural source of magnesium, zinc, copper and iron, all of which are essential for a healthy metabolism.

I wanted to share the process of making the chocolate with you because I thought it was pretty amazing and I think you’ll like it too, so let’s get into the process.

Firstly, did you know there are actually three types of cacao plant? They come in three varying colours: red (can turn deep purple also), yellow and orange. Before they ripen they are green in colour; colourful plants hey?

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Inside the cacao plant sit the beans in their pod, encased with a white soft and sweet coating. You can suck on the beans and eat the gooey coating, it’s delicious, but do not bite as you will bite into the raw bean and it will be extremely bitter.

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The seeds are dried in the sand and stored there for a few days to dry and become the beans you see below.

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They are the dry fried on a hot heat for about 3-5 minutes to cook; they make a popping sound as they cook.

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After the cooking process the bean is separated from a very thin shell and set aside; the chickens peck away at the shells so there is no waste, ha ha! This is where cacao nibs would be made as the beans easily crush under little pressure between your fingers making nibs. I ate so many beans whilst helping de-shell them as I kept crushing them too hard and I didn’t want to waste the bean did I? They were warm, crunchy, light and rich in taste. So delicious.

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Next, the de-shelled, toasted beans are put into a grinder which heats the beans whilst grinding them and forms a warm chocolate paste. Here you could stop the process, leave this to dry and that is how cacao powder is made, however I will continue with the process into making the chocolate.

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Once all the beans are ground, the warm paste that’s produced is added back into the pan on the heat and this is when you will add cocoa butter, milk of choice, sugars and flavourings etc. Bubble away and a thick creamy chocolate is produced. Dip away, leave to cool and solidify or make a hot chocolate drink. Absolute dream.

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Cacao, you rock my socks. I continue to be fascinated, obsessed and in awe of you. My favourite superfood ever: Cacao.

I also just want to add that after taking part in the making of this chocolate and witnessing the process that goes into the making of it, I can fully appreciate why organic, fair trade, high cacao content chocolate is that extra bit pricey. It’s all made by hand, locally produced, no additives or junk added in and it’s made with knowledge, heart and passion of the Rainforest.

I will never question the cost of great chocolate ever again.

I hope you enjoyed 🙂

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