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That’s Easter sorted!

  • 17 Mar 2016

Its the Easter weekend, a lovely family time filled with Easter egg hunts, chocolate, a scrummy roast, chocolate and more chocolate and to top it all off British Summer Time starts on Easter Sunday, lovely lighter evenings as winter fades away!

I don’t know about you but we have got into the tradition of having an Easter tree. Nothing beats a lovely spring walk finding twigs to put in a vase to hang Easter decorations off. I’ll be wrapped up in Needle’s Evie jumper from our new SS16 collection. It’s the perfect Spring jumper, a gorgeous light camel cashmere, with cream cashmere pointelle sleeves and lovely baby blue cuffs!
http://www.needleboutique.com/boutique/evie-relaxed-boxy-cashmere-jumper/  Although in reality, I’ll be in my Evie dashing into our local florist to buy the most expensive twigs known to man (the mark up on Pussy Willow at Easter is unbelievable!) but my children love it and each year we go to our gorgeous local gift shop and buy 2 new decorations so we’re getting quite a collection!

The next step in getting ready for Easter in our household, and most importantly in my children’s minds, is ensuring we have a suitable selection of Easter eggs. This year I am loving these Easter eggs by Auntie Mims from www.notonthehighstreet.com, although in my mind it is hard to beat a classic Galaxy egg! Living in Yorkshire, its always a treat to see the beautiful Easter eggs in the window of Betty’s, their eggs are pretty impressive, check out the size of the imperial egg in the video below, who wouldn’t want to receive one of these! https://www.bettys.co.uk/easter/a-smashing-easter

As an alternative to the endless stream of chocolate, why not make an Easter cake or some cookies, last year I made this cake and it went down a treat! And, this year I’ve got my two an Easter Shortbread Baking Set, less chocolate and something to occupy them – perfect!

If you are struggling to find things to occupy little minds, why not check out one of the National Trusts Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts, there are 300 locations across the country, and the Easter bunny has hidden lots of chocolate as well as clues to help you on your way.

Our Easter Sunday roast is the perfect time for us to all get together as an extended family and this year its our turn to host and so I need to think about Easter themed table settings. I’ve been getting some inspiration from Pinterest, wow, some people really go to town but in my opinion there is something so lovely in the simplicity of some pretty Spring flowers.

I’ll be sitting down to my roast in my Corfu jumper in coral. It will brighten anyone’s Easter and again it is a gorgeous light cashemere, with 2 pockets on the front and little cut out details on the neck, it looks seriously fab with a white shirt underneath and its in our sale! Stylish but comfy, perfect for a family filled Easter Sunday afternoon.
http://www.needleboutique.com/boutique/corfu-boxy-round-neck-jumper-3/

Happy Easter!

Jo

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Too good to be true…

  • 9 Mar 2016

This week, rather than focus on fashion as most of my blogs have done so far, I want to talk about my other great love…. food, and in particular something deliciously decadent…. the chocolate brownie.

Now, whilst I am usually happy to accept the guilty pleasure that comes with biting into a brownie, I thought that this week’s blog was a good opportunity to try out some of the “healthy” options which are being touted around at the moment so I came up with the bright idea of Lizzie, myself and Emma all trying out a healthy brownie recipe and bringing them into the office for a taste test. We each chose a recipe from a well-known health advocate, I went with Ella Woodward, Lizzie did a Madeline Shaw recipe and Emma tried out Lorraine Pascale.

Unless you live on the moon you must have heard of Ella Woodword (Deliciously Ella), she is everywhere. With her fabulous cook books, her gorgeous Instagram pics, her amazing deli and her fit fiancé, she is difficult to miss! Ella suffered from a chronic illness (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome) and despite being on a lot of medication, it wasn’t getting any better. She’d read about people in similar situations who’d had some success after changing their diet and lifestyle. So she thought she’d give it a go. She did away with everything processed, animal products (although honey is not banned) and adopted a plant-based way of eating. She documented it through a blog and now gets around 2.5million hits a month from all over the world and her first cookbook “ Delicously Ella” was the fasted selling debut recipe collection of all time. – She must be doing something right!

I decided that I would make her Raw Chocolate Brownies.

According to Ella …..

“These brownies taste like heaven. They are unbelievably wonderful. Just so sweet, gooey and rich. No matter how many hundreds of times I make them I still can’t quite believe how they turn out and how easy they are – just four ingredients in a food processor. 5 minute brownies. Yet they still taste identical to normal brownies with the same perfectly squishy, melt-in-your-mouth texture. I’d never have guessed that it was possible to make sugar, dairy and gluten free brownies, it surprises everyone I feed them too. They’re always the biggest hit at a party. And they’re so healthy – packed with fibre and protein. Just wow. This is my favourite go-to dessert. Anytime I crave something sweet I throw the ingredients in the processor and 3 minutes later every craving I’ve ever had is sated, it’s perfect. You’ll never ever want refined sugar again.”

So whilst Ella can’t believe “how easy they are” and that they take “5 minutes”, I beg to differ. Two attempts later, I wouldn’t say mine “tasted like heaven”. On my first attempt, I literally threw everything into my nutribullet as instructed by Ella (well she said food processor). I thought I could use my milling blade for dry ingredients and hey presto – perfect brownie mix…. But no, that didn’t work, you can’t just throw it all into the mixer, the dates are too sticky and you have to pulse your pecans first on their own. So off I went back to the green grocers to purchase my ingredients for a second time (much to the delight of the shop owner who had already told me that I’d need to get a mortgage for these brownies!). This time when I got home I watched the fabulous Ella make the brownies on You Tube, I did exactly what she did, but this time, my nutribullet nearly blew up – white smoke was billowing out of it and I hid behind my kitchen island in case of an explosion!! Luckily by this point it was pretty well mixed, so it was time to transfer it to a dish. Ella suggests using your hands to press it in and smooth it out in the dish before freezing for an hour. That would have been great if I could have actually gotten it off my hands…not sure Ella’s “unbelievably wonderful” brownies have this sticky, cement like texture! I finally got it in the freezer for an hour, leaving my husband with instructions to transfer it into the fridge, which he managed, via dropping it on the floor, a fact he neglected to tell me, so when I came to serve it, it was pot luck as to who got a piece of china in theirs!

Now Lizzie on the other hand made Madeleine Shaw’s raw chocolate brownies. In case you don’t know who Madeleine Shaw is, she is another super cool food blogger and nutrition expert. Her first book “Get The Glow” is a collection of 100 recipes that she promises will nourish you from the inside out. And her second book “Ready Steady Glow” has quick and easy recipes as well as show stopping meals! Madeleine guides readers through swapping bad fats for good ones, thinking clean via mantras and meditation, beating the bloat, resting and digesting, and, finally, embracing healthy habits for life.

Finally Emma made Lorraine Pascale’s gluten free and refined sugar free brownies, Lorraine is an ex model who re-discovered baking later in life and realised it was what made her happy, she has had her own tv shows on the BBC and produced many cookery books with her latest being Eating Well Made Easy which contains many recipes which are super tasty but just so happen to be healthy.

So what did all the brownies taste like, I can hear you wondering….

Deliciously Ella’s Raw Brownies
Now I know mine don’t look very appetising, but actually they were tasty, if you like dates! Unfortunately the dates masked all other flavours and made them very sticky – they definitely needed more Cacaou powder for that chocolatey taste. I would also recommend a nice hot drink to go with it (nothing to do with removing it from the roof of your mouth!!)

http://deliciouslyella.com/raw-brownies/

Madeline Shaw’s Raw Brownies
These were our favourite, although they didn’t taste particularly brownie like, more like a chocolate refrigerator cake or a a petit four, they were delicious. You could really taste the coconut in them from the coconut oil, but that jut added to the flavour. I would recommend these if you wanted a healthy treat.

http://madeleineshaw.com/recipes/raw-chocolate-brownie/

Lorraine Pascale Gluten and Refined Sugar Brownies
Lastly these were the closest in texture to a brownie but they weren’t chocolatey enough – they lacked in the taste department!
Our conclusions were….

http://lorrainepascale.com/2015/09/18/gluten-free-and-refined-sugar-free-chocolate-brownies/

Sadly, you really can’t beat a delicious, chocolately, fat filled brownie!!

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