Category Archives: Events

Balance Festival

Just so you know…this post isn’t sponsored and I wasn’t gifted any tickets to the event or items (although there’s lots of free samples of yummy goodies to be had at the festival)! I just enjoyed myself, so thought I’d share. 

If you’re in London and looking for something to do this weekend, why not stop by the Balance Festival at the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch. I went with a friend today and we took the kids and had a great day out.

I thought I’d mention some of my favourite vendors we chatted to today. They had no idea I was a blogger, so extra points for just being lovely, generous folks…especially the vegan brownie people who tolerated my daughter eating basically all their brownie samples.

And kudos to whoever hired the DJs. The chill out vibe was awesome and my daughter was dancing like a reckless hippy to all of it. Especially the Avocado & Chill station.

1. First we stopped at Escape & Bake, a healthy bakery who bake delicious refined sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free treats. Lots of the treats (maybe all, I’m not sure) were vegan and I bought a delicious millionaire’s shortbread.

2. Then we stopped by Soupologie who had hot soup machines pouring out cups of delicious vegan soups. I had the squash soup which I think had turmeric in it and it was delicious. They also have a new range of drinks made with fresh juice, probiotics and apple cider vinegar – the strawberry basil was delicious and I can highly recommend it. Though in honesty, I have a great juicer and a bottle of Bragg’s at home so will probably do my own DIY version as a daily drink. But these are great for on the go when you don’t want to buy anything sugary.

3. There were a lot of cold-pressed juice vendors at the fair. I mean a lot. And the juices were all pretty nice. I know that because I sampled ALL OF THEM. But I think my favourite was Daily Dose who had really beautiful blends with nutritious phytonutrient powerhouses added in like turmeric and ginger. Their strawberry juice was amazing. They also do little shots of more therapeutic blends. What makes them special is that they make their juices from wonky fruit and veg right here in London – in Battersea, while most of the other companies are having theirs made in Eastern Europe and shipped here. There was also a company called Revolicious which makes pre-made smoothies which I admit I don’t entirely understand, as someone who makes their own smoothies everyday. But they were super delicious.

4. We stopped for bags of snacks crisp type treats at Emily’s Crisps and Ape snacks, both of which I know because I’ve had them in my Vegan Kind box before. The Emily’s Crisps are nice, although still deep fried , but my absolute favourite are the Ape Snacks which I could probably live on. They were kind enough to give my daughter a bag of their coconut puffs and me a bag of the coconut snacks with sesame seeds which I love. They totally satisfy my sweet tooth cravings for some reason, despite not being that sweet. Hippeas were there too and I also really enjoy their snacks too. But not as much as Ape. Love those guys and their addictive little balls/dics of coconut deliciousness.

5. Califia Farms were there, although I didn’t talk to them. Their stand was pretty busy. But I am addicted to their Cold Brew Coffee made with almond milk and make a concerted effort NOT to buy it every week at the supermarket. After hearing so many cool things about Califia Farms from my fav YouTube channel Happy Healthy Vegan, I was so stoked when they first came to the UK. At first I found them at Whole Foods and it was something stupid like £6.99 for a bottle of almond milk, but now its a far more reasonable £2 (they have a much higher nut content than other brands and are carrageenan-free) at Sainsbury’s and probably Ocado too.

6. The lady at Urban Fruit gave my doe eyed daughter a bag of dried strawberries – little knowing they are her favourite on the go snack. So thanks Urban Fruit people! She ate them while having a chill out session by the DJ.

7. I stopped by Riverford Farms as I have been thinking about switching to a veg box delivery to make the whole plastic-free thing just a little bit easier. I was impressed that for £21 they do a mega huge weekly organic veg box, although they do smaller and cheaper boxes. They are also giving away a lovely cookbook to folks who sign up at the stall this weekend. I didn’t sign up right away, as I have enough cookbooks, but the vendor gave my daughter a cob of popcorn which we made up in the popcorn maker at home and which she is eating right now while watching The Good Dinosaur. It was really good popcorn. (I was allowed to try one piece. Just one.)

8. Having drank my last portion of vanilla protein powder this morning, I was totally out and am trying out all the vegan brands I can. Free Soul isn’t a vegan brand but they do a vegan line and its all clean ingredients. Its normally quite pricy at £24.95 a bag (as they told me) but they had a show special of £15 a bag, so frankly I wish I’d bought two. Meanwhile, as I was chatting to the ladies at this stand, my daughter was next door with her little friend cramming down all the vegan brownie samples at Superfood Bakery who sell brownie, cookie and pancake mixes – all clean ingredients and gluten free.

9. Finally in terms of non-food items, there were so many activities to do at the festival. I wasn’t able to take advantage of them because I had my daughter with me, but there were yoga classes and there was a TRX session in full swing as we went by and I must admit, I really really wanted to try out that workout as it looked pretty intense. But instead I put my name in to win something or other from one of the great workout clothing brands there – Every Second Counts and I really want one of their running sets, frankly. And lots of skincare and make up companies designed for people who like to be fully made up when they exercise I guess. If that’s your thing.

10. We finished off the show by stopping by at Optiat, a company which uses used coffee beans from London coffee shops to make a delicious-smelling range of body products. I bought some vanilla coffee bean body scrub. I mean, why did people stop making vanilla scented body products in 1998? I love vanilla and am so excited to have this. I’m kind of all stocked up on face care at the moment but am going to try their coffee face serum at some point. I also made one last spur of the moment purchase, getting this lovely glass flask from Noble Leaf to make tea with loose tea leaves. Perfect for taking to school and student clinic.

I lie. I forgot about the vegan Baileys. We stopped and I did try the vegan Baileys. And it was delicious.

Anyway, the event is on for the rest of the weekend, so stop by for a couple of hours, load up on free samples of yummies, chat to some of the lovely vendors and stock up on healthy goodies. And if you’re not in London, but in the Netherlands in September, they’ll be holding a second Balance Festival there. Just check out their website for details.



 

Tribal Hearts Festival – 12-14 August 2016

Sometimes a mama’s just got to help out a fellow mama.  So when fellow blogger Vanessa unnamedtold me she was organising a natural parenting festival here in the UK, I knew I had to share the love, support this wonderful event and tell you all about it.

The Tribal Hearts festival is about natural living and family life, brought together with workshops, activities for children, stalls, live music and entertainment.  It will take place from 12-14 August 2016 at Green Park in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire.

“I wanted to help parents give children the gift of happiness, self-confidence, emotional wellbeing, compassion and responsibility.”

Workshops will include Mindful Parenting, Nutrition, Empowered Birth, Yoga and there will be make & take natural skincare classes.  Also on site will be a sensory baby tent, a breastfeeding area,  a marketplace selling handmade and natural products, a sling library and a wellbeing area offering holistic therapies.

“By choosing these workshops I hope to inspire and support visitors to my festival in creating a peaceful home where children are respected.”

Headlining the event will be parenting expert Sarah Ockwell-Smith, the author of The Gentle Parenting Book, co-founder of The Gentle Parenting website and a mother of four.  She will provide an introduction to gentle parenting for newbies and will provide deep insight for those already committed to this parenting approach.

Activities for babies and children will include Bushcraft & Wilderness Skills, Tribal Crafts, Woodland Playgroup, Baby Signing, Storytelling and Imaginary Play.  Your children will also be free to run around the beautiful fields and woodlands and reconnect with nature…as well as discover all the surprises awaiting them there, such as an enchanted tree and a natural playground.

“Child-led play, nature and shared enjoyment of the festival will be a chance to reconnect with one another whilst giving children valuable learning opportunities.”

Delicious food will also be available (uh, yes, including ice cream), catering for various dietary requirements (including vegan and gluten free).

Finally at the end of each wonderful day, families will be able to gather around the campfire for a pyjama party.

Tickets are on sale now, go to www.tribalheartsfestival.co.uk but you also have a chance at winning a pair of tickets in a contest being run by fellow blogger, Attachment Mummy.  Check out her website to enter and win! [COMPETITION NOW CLOSED]

I’m only just gutted that I’ll be out of the country when it takes place and won’t be able to go…so please make this year’s event a success so I can go to next year’s!

BBC Good Food Show – Summer 2016

So yesterday my friend Amy and I headed over to the ExCel centre in Docklands here in London with our babies to check out the BBC Good Food Show.  I had very kindly been invited by Umi from new start up kefir company, Little Bird Kefir to come visit her at the exhibition and it seemed a wonderful opportunity to see what new foods and producers were out there.

My overall impression of the show was that there are a lot of ‘healthy’ drink companies out there now.  Like, a lot.  These days people know they should avoid sugary soft drinks but they seem to just not want to drink water and there were a plethora of sweet herbal tea and juice or flavoured stevia type drinks on the market.  There also seemed to be a lot of companies selling products to make ‘fat free, sugar free’ baked goods.  Kind of reminds me of the Olestra days of the 1990’s, but these products were marketed as ‘natural’.  I love the catch all marketing use of ‘all natural’ which is essentially meaningless.

But Amy and I had a great time walking around the exhibition and sampling all the goodies.  I always really enjoy chatting to small producers and hearing their stories of how they came to create their business and what they have to say about their products.  They’re so passionate and bursting with pride about what they’ve made.  There were a few products that really stood out for me for various reasons and I thought I’d share them here.

I should also say that I’m not sponsored, paid or compensated in kind by BBC Good Food Shows or any of the producers below, aside from Little Bird Kefir who gave me my ticket, no strings attached, to come sample their kefir.  So a particular thank you to them for giving this mum & blogger a fun day out.

Little Bird Kefir

I love my cultured foods (think sourdough bread and yogurt) and this was – I’m pretty sure – the only cultured food producer at the show.  Umi and her husband have set up this company making kefir, a delicious cultured dairy drink, very similar to yogurt, but with up to 5 times more strains of bacteria than are found in yogurt.  They are really friendly, genuine people.  They don’t hard sell their product at all and are happy to explain a million times to people what kefir is and its benefits.  And their kefir is delicious.  I’m a bit funny about kefir when its over-cultured and gets too sour or bubbly (I’m not one for the carbonated milk thing!) and I’ve run into this a lot with some of the other brands on the market here in the UK, but Little Bird Kefir is very similar to a drinking yogurt.  Unfortunately they’re not quite yet certified organic, and as their kefir is produced in Poland I don’t know quite what that means in terms of the dairy being used.  But when they’re able to clarify that their product is organic, I’ll be ordering it regularly because now that my daughter is moving on to drinking cow’s milk in a bottle, I’d like to introduce a bottle of watered down kefir to her each night, to maintain healthy gut bacteria.  Oh and I think the best part of their business model is that if you live on the UK mainland, you can order their kefir online for home delivery and its priced reasonably enough at 1.5 litres for £8.50, so that you can enjoy it as a daily drink and not just as an expensive occasional treat.

Sukrin Peanut Flour

Where has this been all my life?  Seriously.  I mean it.  Where has peanut powder been all my life?  This stuff is delicious.  And not just ‘healthy’ delicious.  Really delicious.  If you’re familiar with the Mexican candy ‘de la Rosa’ – a little disc of powdery peanut-ey deliciousness, generically called mazapan – it tastes like that.  Concentrated peanut buttery-ness.  I guess you could bake with this like a coconut or almond flour, but where this really comes into its own is when added to frozen banana smoothies or when you use it to make a reconstituted peanut butter by adding water or almond milk. Its more delicious than any actual peanut butter and its completely smooth like the fake, sugary Jif, Skippy type peanut butters.  And I bought a bag of it for only £3 at the show.  (Its normally £5 at Sainsburys or £5.85 direct through the Sukrin website.)  Oh yeah…I guess I should mention the nutrition part now…this powder is 50% protein and a whopping 11% fibre.  So, fill your boots.

Bart ‘n’ Lainy’s Canadian Wild Blueberries

These folks are ADORABLE.  And after chatting to Lainy (Elaine) one of the owners, I can see this business is both a leap of faith and a labour of love for them.  I mean, people here have never seen our small wild blueberries before.  Their berries are imported from Nova Scotia and Maine (not all Canadian then!) and are packaged in glass bottles in a light syrup (which you could stir into yogurt or spoon into the bottom of a champagne glass and top up with prosecco).  I sampled some of their berries and they tasted exactly as they should – nothing like the big cultivated blueberries I’ve become used to.  They’re tiny and delicious and full of that sweet, concentrated, real blueberry flavour.  They’re available at various independent delis and health food shops around the country, but you can order them direct from the owners with free shipping!

Ginger Love

This company is based in Belgium.  They started out as a popular restaurant called Lombardia in Antwerpen, where they serve fresh, raw juices, but realising they couldn’t export their juices and maintain the raw enzyme benefits, they decided to concentrate them into a powder so they could be reconstituted.  Ginger Love is the most popular blend, but they have others as well.  I think there are plenty of sweet drinks on the market, but I like ginger and these have that strong, fresh ginger flavour and they can also be blended with hot water to make a sweet fruity, herbal tea…and I kind of like that. EDIT 2018: I am still buying this stuff occasionally from Holland and Barrett when I see it there.  I love it and it makes a lovely iced tea.

Donat Mg Water

Most people are deficient in magnesium.  And the magnesium in most supplements is in its least bioavailable form, meaning your body isn’t absorbing any of it.  So I liked the idea of this natural magnesium water from Slovenia.  Okay, that’s a lot of food miles for bottled water and for that reason I probably won’t be buying this water very regularly, but as little as 300 ml of this water is enough to meet the RDA for magnesium.  Which is easier than choking down those huge, chalky Cal-Mag ‘horse pills’.   And I also like that its naturally balanced with calcium as well.

The Olive Shop

Okay, I don’t think anybody takes as much pride in sharing how great their food is, as do the Greeks.  And John, the owner of The Olive Shop was no exception.  He had me trying everything they make, just so I could see how delicious it was.  And it was.  They don’t sell a million types of olive oil; just two, an extra virgin olive oil and an organic version.  I bought the litre size tin of EVOO, only realising afterwards that I don’t think it was the organic one, but that’s okay.  They also sell olive pastes, honey, balsamic vinegar (balsamic vinegar with honey…yum!), olives, wild organic mountain herbs and some organic olive oil and botanical based toiletries which their friend makes.  They also sell what they call ‘rock salt’, which isn’t what we would call rock salt (crushed mountain salt), but is in fact, hand scraped from the rocks along the shores of the Peloponnese (Mani, to be specific) during the hottest months of the year.  Although I didn’t taste John’s salt, I can say with confidence that I think this is the most delicious salt in the world, because my Greek friends who live a short distance across the water from Mani buy this same salt harvested from their shoes and it is the only one I use at home now.  I also bought some of the Akess Hamamelis & Helichrysum eye cream (only £9!!!) made by John’s friend and I look forward to trying it in a couple of months when I run out of my current eye cream.

EDIT 2018: I’ve had to remove the link for this because sadly I don’t think they exist anymore.

MaxBurn Fitness Plate

These aren’t a food, but I was kind of intrigued by these vibrating boards.  There were a couple of companies selling them at the show and so I went to the one which looked to be the highest quality in appearance to give them a try.  I always used to enjoy the PowerPlates when I went to the gym, and this is a similar concept, except you don’t hold on to anything.  You can do lower body, abdominal and upper body work on them and they were super easy to use.  The only downside I could see was the staff they’d hired to help customers try them out.  There were two members of staff on hand.  Their booth was empty of other customers and the first staff member I made eye contact just gave me an irritated, dull look and turned around and the second staff member begrudgingly came over and helped me after I asked her to, and answered my questions with as little care or energy as she could possibly do.  I’m not quite sure why or how a new mum in her 30’s with a few pounds to lose WOULDN’T be their target demographic, but apparently not.  Anyway, despite their lackadaisical and zombie-like approach to selling, I liked the product and will give some thought to researching the various brands and perhaps getting one of these for home workouts at some point, because who doesn’t want to burn up to 500 calories in a half hour workout session?

So the BBC Good Food Show is still on all day today here in London, in case you want to go meet some of these people and try out their goods.  Check out their website as they’ll also be at the NEC in Birmingham next month and at Hampton Court Palace in August.  I’m hoping to check out the Taste of London show next month as well, so will share my thoughts on that if I make it.

There were other sellers I haven’t mentioned above, like the big organic company, Seeds of Change, who had an adorable little faux garden with fresh vegetables plopped on the earth in little terraced beds and little watering cans for kiddies to pretend to water the plants.  There were also some beautiful, brightly glazed natural terracotta ceramics designed by the owner at Bristol-based Collectively Artisan (I’m afraid I didn’t catch his name) and then made by potters in Spain and Greece.  (We both bought some little tapas bowls for serving snacks in at home.)  And my friend Amy couldn’t stop raving about the Limpopo Biltong stand selling biltong and drywors which she had to visit twice and then stocked up on their dried meats to take home with her.

Overall, I wish there had been more organic producers and I wish I’d arrived earlier in the day because there were a few stalls I just didn’t get to see and had wanted to (such as Arctic Power Berries with their powdered berry food supplements, as I’m quite fascinated by the idea of them and Oppo ice cream made with milk, coconut oil and stevia) but by 4.15 we simply had to leave to avoid the Friday rush hour traffic.  (Think getting a large stroller onto the Jubilee Line at Canary Wharf!)  We had a nice time and I’d like to thank all the producers and sellers who took the time to chat to us.