Toasty warm drinks!

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been so put off any type of dairy (even lactose free, as I am lactose intolerant)! I read an article a few weeks ago about dairy and someone wrote that pus is in dairy and quite honestly, true or not it just makes me feel sick every time I think about milk now. I have been veggie my entire life and don’t often opt for dairy as it makes me quite unwell, but over the years lactose-free substitutes have become readily available and made life a little easier. Alongside this there is (at the moment anyway) a huge interest in being vegan, which for me is fantastic! I walk into a supermarket and am met with about ten different types of milks (or mylk) made from all sorts of weird and wonderful items, (I mean cow boob milk is gross the more I think about it).

Anyway, this blog isn’t about my dilemma with dairy, it’s about warm drinks and the fact I have been drinking as many as possible these last few wintry weeks. One of my favourite since Christmas has been mulled (hot) apple juice. As much as I love a warm tipple now and again, I do prefer my drinks alcohol free for the most and this is just heavenly after a long day at work.

Think Cinnamon, cloves, oranges and mixed spice

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Warm Mulling Syrup

My wonderful friend Emma made me a few different yummy treats as a gift. Mulling Syrup being one of them. I like to drink mine with apple juice from Innocent

I found a wonderful recipe on BBC good foods which you can find below:

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  • 250g caster or granulated sugar
  • 2 oranges halved
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ nutmeg freshly grated
  • small piece ginger sliced

Mix all in a pan with 1 litre of water and voila! I love to then use it with apple juice instead of wine, but I am told wine is equally as good!

Bubbly chocolate in a cosy little mug 

There is nothing I love more than hot chocolate. Everyone thinks you need to have it with warm milk, but I think its much tastier with coconut milk, soya or even just plain hot water.

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Deliciously Ella 

Another thing you need to watch out for if you want a vegan hot chocolate is the powder (if you use instant). Make sure it doesn’t have lactose / dairy or whey in it and you’ll be good to go. One of the best ones I use is goody coco from Lidl. If you want something a bit more up market that doesn’t contain refined sugars and rubbish is to use raw cacao date syrup and cinnamon.

However, for me I most recently discovered sweet free from choc shot which is full of goodness and yummy, but it does taste a little different from normal hot chocolate which I think is a good thing in many ways. It takes the edge off the sugar cravings so if you’re going refined sugar-free then even better! I also think it’s a fab thing for weight loss as its very low in calories coming in at under 15 calories a tsp!choc

I do love my warm drinks if you hadn’t guessed already and I think they are one of the best ways to beat any situation good or bad. If I am feeling down to sad a hot up of tea, mulled apple juice or hot coco. I remember when I was younger and used to get upset or sad the one thing that I could always make myself feel with was probably tea. So next on the list is the magical and famous tea!

There are so many types of tea, some people argue that there is really only one true type which is English Breakfast / Assam or the type you have with milk. For me there are quite literally hundreds of types. Enough for me to start an entire blog on (or Tea-sta-gram page?)! When I worked for Danone Waters I made friends with a great guy who ended up going to work for Tetley. Thanks to him I have lots of types of tea in my cupboard that I got to try before they went out on sale in shops! It really does pay to be a tea lover and know someone in the tea business.

Tea cures everything, good bad or happy

For this very reason, I have decided to end my blog with a selection of mearlgreyy favourite teas starting with earl grey!

Earl grey is a normal black tea with bergamot orange and citrus fruits mixed in together with a little lemon and grapefruit thrown in. It is floral and delicate which makes it a perfect tea for people who don’t like the strong darkness of a builders tea.  It’s a mixture to me of both herbal tea and normal tea. You can drink it with milk, lemon, straight or if you’re a bit odd cold.

Next on my list is the standard chamomile tea. My mum had an enormous bag of this chamomileteain the tea cupboard at my parents house and she gave me a pot full. I love it. All you need to do is sprinkle a few buds into a cup add hot water and drink. It’s a relaxing tea that is full of goodness. It is an anti-inflammatory for the skin, soften lady pains and induce sleep. A few things I am sure you can relate too!

 

Another favourite of mine is Blackcurrant and Vanilla. You can get these from Lidl. 5201350_31They are super posh, so don’t be fooled by the whole ‘Lidl’ thing. They are so yummy and taste great.

Another type of tea you can try is mixed fruits, Tetley do a huge range of teas which are fantastic. Some are full of vitamin C and for colds and flu, others are fruity and just for flavour so I would recommend going over to their website and checking them out!

 

However, don’t feel like spending lots of money of these teas, as they can get pricey. If you have time and want to know exactly what you’re drinking then you can make your own teas with dried flowers, fruits and all sorts! It’s very easy, you can air dry them over time or on a low heat in the oven if you don’t have a dehydration machine!

Continue reading “Toasty warm drinks!”

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Winter chocolate

It’s a thing, winter chocolate is most definitely a thing. We have hot chocolate, advent calendars, Lindt Christmas decorations and teddies not to mention warm melting lava cakes (curtesy of Kaja)!

When I was in France last week I had so much hot soya chocolate (and normal milky chocolate as apparently dairy-free isn’t a well-known thing out there?) I could burst! I am so in love with hot chocolate or as the French say, chocolat chaud.

Since maturing into a fine young lady and moving away from my girly hot chocolate days of whipped cream and sprinkles, I moved over to chai latte, which in itself is a little cup of cinnamon happiness. I can’t quite explain what made me have a hot chocolate almost every day in France but I’ve got the bug now and even bought myself some chocolate powder to make it at home.

As a lactose free (which means dairy free for the most) individual due to lactose intolerance, I don’t get to eat as much chocolate, dessert or tuck into hot drinks as often as I’d like too, so I’ve come up with alternatives to help me manage which you can read about below!

This is the most adorable of hot chocolate designs I was presented with in France! Look at his little face!

So you ask, what do I do to manage my choco cravings and how do I cope? Well, for the most part I just have alternatives. I drink lactose free milk, try to have more coconut milk, soya and juices when I can, but find the transition to vegan more difficult than I anticipated.

When it comes to treats I have dark chocolate a lot and found I didn’t mind the change much as I was feeling better due in myself as well. There are so many types of vegan chocolates out there that you wouldn’t even know were vegan and taste just as yummy!

For Christmas Jon’s Mum got me some adorable dark chocolate stars covered in raspberries from Cocoa Loco! These aren’t advertised as being dairy free, which I think is good, so in a way they’re accidentally dairy free. They were so yummy and the raspberries on them just added to the yumminess! They are a fair trade company too which makes it all that tastier in my opinion.

I also had a Mini Moo vegan chocolate Santa which meant I didn’t miss out on any festive treats!

Pets at Christmas

I am pretty sure our dogs, cats and small little pets don’t have the faintest idea what we are doing come December. We cover our house in lights, tinsel and all sorts of decorations not to mention adding a beautiful green (or pink perhaps) tree for our cats to jump on and burry themselves in.

Dogs Basil decorates himself

If you haven’t noticed from my previous blog posts already, I am completely festive crazy and I love any excuse for wrapping up presents, a good party or cooking a fancy dinner (also, give me a blanket and a cosy cup of hot chocolate, a movie and my best girlfriends and I’m good to go)!

Most years my dogs have to put up with my festive frivolities, I love to cover them in tinsel or LED lights and make them sparkle for however long it takes them to rip off the decorations and chew them up. My childhood German Shepherd Basil however, put up with my love of all things sparkly. As you can see in the picture above he would quite happily sit there and let me decorate him Capturewhereas Henry, our German Shepherd Puppy (the newest addition to the family) would prefer to take baubles off the tree and eat them (as caught in the photo to the left). 

When Christmas comes about at the house, my dogs take to helping themselves to all sorts. We currently have three beautiful dogs who have very stubborn and individual personalities.  Since getting Milly, who is my younger brothers dog almost three years ago now, we have moved the Christmas tree into the dining room at the front of our house opposed to the Living-Room, where the dogs are allowed freely! This prevents them all destroying the decorations and gives some breathing space to the room we use the most. It also means that the log burner in the Living-Room doesn’t droop the tree so its a win-win for us, not so much the dogs who think Christmas has quite literally come early and they have a big green bush to destroy!

Cats

I don’t own a cat myself, but I did grow up with a big fluffy black cat called Gladice! I’ve read lots of stories online and in papers about cats climbing Christmas trees, knocking them over and all sorts of funny things.My older brother and his wife have a cat, she’s the most I spend with a cat until I get my own and when it comes to Christmas trees she’s particularly dull. I know in the future Jon would quite like a cat (hoping we can get a dog first to be honest, so I can walk with purpose more). If we ever did get one, I’d probably be that person who takes a photo of my cat with an antler headband on or try to wrap it up if it sat on my paper!

Pet gifts

My parents have almost always given gifts to our pets for birthdays and Christmas, and why not! Our pets are part of the family and make us happy 365 days (unless they poop on the rug…) of the year, so why not treat them (and us) to extra toys, treats or a special day out walking somewhere!

I’ve noticed in upmarket food stores such as Whole Foods, they’re selling pet advent calendars, Christmas dinners and the cutest stockings for our pets. Little things like this are adorable and something I’m all for, but I’d much rather make my own Christmas foods for my pets as they’re cheaper and often much healthier!

Small pets

Last but not least….

There are so many types of pets people keep nowadays, more so than ever before and also different to ever before! I have a pet hamster called Walter, my best friend has a hamster also (who is almost the same age as Walter). I have other friends with guinea pigs, lizards, snakes, hedgehogs and even tortoises!

For us, Walter gets spoilt every day of the year (usually by Jon)! At Christmas he gets a little hamster cake which is homemade and always a hamster version of a roast dinner (raw vegetables and a slither of fruit)! I swear if I ate as well as my hamster ad ran in a wheel for half the night, I’d be my dream body shape.

Don’t forget, if you get a pet for Christmas it’s for life! Love and care for it constantly for the remainder of its life and if you can’t, I’m always here to help.

Have a woofing good Christmas,

love Lucy x

Home comforts

Cosy home comforts for most of us are more or less the same.

  • Hot drinks in pretty mugs
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Warm fires
  • Cookies
  • Warm muffins
  • Wine
  • Pet snuggles
  • Friends and family …

The list goes on and on! So for this cold weekend in November, be you in England at home, Norway sledding or Canada reading a book here’s my favourite blueberry muffin recipe for everyone to try!

You will need need the following ingredients and utensils…

Utensils:

  1. Mixer OR strong arm and wooden spoon
  2. 1 mixing bowl
  3. 2 other spare bowls (can’t have enough)
  4. 1 sieve
  5. Muffin cases
  6. Muffin baking tray
  7. Scales
  8. Wire rack
  9. Spoon or three (I like soup spoons for this)
  10. Apron
  11. Oven / dragon

Ingredients:

  1. 110g butter / vegan butter
  2. 250g plain flour
  3. 250g golden caster sugar
  4. 2 eggs / vegan ‘no-egg’
  5. Splash of milk / vegan alternative
  6. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  7. Half a vanilla pod
  8. A pinch of teaspoon salt
  9. 200g + fresh blueberries (more the yummier)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180ish degrees / gas mark 4. Set out the muffin cases in the muffin tray and put on the side.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the golden caster sugar, a dash of salt and mix it all together.

Eat a blueberry (vital)

Then mix together the butter / milk and vanilla pod extract until smooth.

Eat another blueberry

Pour both bowls into one and add in the remaining blueberries!

Mix all up together gently so as not to mush the blueberries.

Get yourself two spoons and scoop up a big dollop of mixture and then use the other to push it into the muffin case. I’d suggest filling them around half full and make sure there are an even number of blueberries distributed throughout.

After you’ve done this and licked any remaining ingredients off the spoon, give the bowl to a child or dog to lick of you feel generous, or like Jon and I, sit down and lick the bowl whilst the muffins cook.

Bake them for around 15/20 minutes or so. Set a timer to check them after 15 minutes as some ovens vary. My mums for example is a big range and can take minutes, it’s literally a dragon!

When they’re done you’ll know as they’ll start to crack on the tops and go a beautiful golden brown.

Leave them to cool on a wire rack, or like me an upside down pizza tray, as I left my wire rack at my friends house!

It’s vital you leave them to cool, you may end up with blueberry burns if not and trust me, that’s not something you want to be explaining to your friends at lunch the next day…

So whilst waiting for them to cool, tidy up, pop on the kettle and get ready to cosy up under a blanket and eat some scrumptious muffins!