Mixing decks and a cup of tea – Mr Scruff’s tea shop

Mr Scruff's Make Us A Brew tea shop
Mr Scruff's Make Us A Brew tea shop

It seems a curious British thing to have devoted tea-drinkers at music raves, tea tasting sessions at rock festivals and a DJ who is a master tea-blender, but wonders never cease (at least they won’t if you’ve got a Make Us A Brew cuppa in your hand…)

You may not have heard of Mr Scruff, but you will have heard his music on television shows like The Apprentice and Top Gear, in films, adverts and computer games. Dedicated followers will also know that he likes a nice cup of tea and, like so many of us, can’t stand it when the tea is low quality. Perhaps it was such an experience which inspired him to set up his own tea company.

Organic and ethically traded Make Us A Brew now supply some trendy teas including what’s been titled “the perfect cuppa” and “a caffeinated beverage of the highest order”: The English Breakfast Fairtrade Tea. Also there’s a hedonistic Look Lively Tea (lemongrass, yerba mate & mint), a refreshing Bill Chill Tea (rooibos, pear and cinnamon) and a kicking Mint and Chilli Tea.

Still can’t quite believe it? Mr Scruff’s music’s pretty good too…

How to be Hale & Hearty (especially on Shrove Tuesday)

Sometimes something original stands out about a company in the health food industry. Catarina and Christian’s story could be said of many businesses: it’s more than the design that catches your eye, it’s a sense of authenticity – the recognition that these people really believe what they are doing.

For Catarina, her husband’s complaints about the taste of gluten free food was only half the picture, what really motivated her was not being able to find enough nutritious free-from food for her wheat intolerant child – that was how Hale & Hearty was born.

It seems obvious doesn’t it: nutritious food = tasty food.

Excited about Hale & Hearty's gluten free pancake mix
Excited about Hale & Hearty's gluten free pancake mix

And that’s why Hale & Hearty are receiving rave reviews at the moment. When most gluten free foods replace various grains with potato, cornstarch and additives there’s not enough nutrition in the alternatives to produce good tasting food. What Catarina and Christian did with Hale & Hearty is find the finest ingredients to work with without compromising on the gluten free standard; which is why Observer Food Monthly continue to list them among their top foods.

The Coeliac community is ecstatic about the gluten free oats, and their cake and bread mixes, pastas and breakfast cereals are all designed to the same quality. I can personally recommend their delicious breadsticks and, what with pancake day fast approaching, focus is centering on their new pancake mix.

Pomegranate juice and colon cancer

Colon cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer and is thought to be the most preventable. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry opens in a new window has investigated the chemo-preventive properties of pomegranate juice, high in polyphenols, on HT-29 colon cancer cells.

Previous studies have found that a diet high in fat, meat and fibre can increase an individual’s risk of developing colon cancer. Polyphenols may have the ability to prevent carcinogenesis through the joint effectiveness of antioxidant action plus the effective slowing or stopping  the spread of malignant cells into surrounding tissues. Polyphenols are found in fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains. Pomegranate juice is high in polyphenols  as well as flavonoids. The majority of polyphenols found in pomegranate juice are, it seems particularly efficient at accumulating in our organs including the colon, intestines and prostate gland.  The study by Kasimsetty indicates that the flavonoids in Pomegranate juice inhibits the activation of certain carcinogenic elements and so prevents the beginnings of cancer.

Kasimsetty and his team isolated the active elements of the Pomegranate juice and used them to see their effect on  five human cancerous cells lines, BT- 549 (ductal carcinoma, breast), HT-29 (colon carcinoma), KB (epidermal carcinoma, oral), SK-MEL (malignant melanoma) and SK-OV-3 (ovarian carcinoma). They tested the effect of the juice elements on the effectiveness in preventing cancer development.   The scientists then carried out various analyses including determining the ability of the polyphenols to inhibit cell growth.

Kasimsetty and the other scientists say they found that the polyphenols had a significant effect in inhibiting cancer development. They also discovered that the flavonoids  slowed down the growth of progressive cancers and were effective in inhibiting the proliferation of cancerous cells compared to non cancerous cells. That’s very clever.

The researchers concluded that regular consumption of pomegranate juice may provide a concentration of polyphenols sufficient to inhibit colon cancer development.

Further research details on Pomegranate Juice and it’s affect on colon cancer

Valentine’s Day Ideas

Every year about 1000 love letters are sent to Juliet in Verona. I can only wonder why poor Romeo misses out on all the fun? Does he know his amorous partner is being wooed by all these other men?

The event is to honour the annual celebration when every heart hopes for someone to be their Valentine.

So who will your Valentine be this year?

Here are a few ideas to help you make your special someone feel totally loved.

Ethical Valentine's Ideas
Ethical Valentine's Ideas

1. Tea – This suggestion comes straight from our office where a certain colleague (not me) would love you for days if you brought her favourite cup of tea to her, perhaps with a piece of marzipan on the side… (it’s Mr Scruff’s Make Us A Brew by the way). But it’s those little things that count isn’t it.

2. Imagination – Whether it’s dancing together in public, carving your names in a tree, or meeting at a secret rendezvous, doing that one thing that shows you think about them speaks volumes. No last minute dashes to buy a box of chocolates (seriously below standard fellas). The first rule has to be plan the perfect day around the things they love.

3. Flowers – A bunch of roses on is still the traditional way to say ‘I love you’, tulips and orchids are popular too. If you can, buy ethically sourced flowers indicated by some a fair trade label (most supermarkets will stock some). You can buy from arenaflowers online. But, be careful, remember Valentine’s is on Sunday this year – don’t get caught out by the shops being closed.

4. Dinner – A candlelit dinner for two will delight your lover, especially if you use the time to tell them how you feel about them. If you’re cooking a special meal at home, a little knowledge about aphrodisiacs will make the evening more exciting. Many foods are believed to increase libido (eg. avocados, asparagus, bananas, truffles, figs, chilli, sweet basil) but most of these are selected for their suggestive shape rather than any love-inducing properties. Something more effective is likely to be the smell of vanilla or chocolate on your Valentine’s skin; a deep scent is profoundly sensual.

5. Gifts of indulgence – You could order a hamper filled with your loved one’s favourite foods, or how about a basket full of luxury bathing items so they can pamper themselves. Dead Sea Spa Magik have some amazingly soothing products to try.

6. Chocolates – Confections, such as sugar plums, marzipan and sweetmeats used to be sent on Valentine’s Day because sugar was a highly valued commodity. Fortunately a gift of chocolates are still guaranteed to bring your sweetheart pleasure. Among the many chocolatiers out there perhaps the name The Chocolate Heart lends itself most to a day like Valentine’s Day with it’s truffle bites and mini bars – and if your lover’s a vegan they will go down a treat.

7. Fun – One great way to spend time together might be to actually make some chocolate yourself. The Chocolution has brought out a Mayan Magic Chocolate-Making Kit, an imaginative gift which will lead to great times of experimentation, creativity and delight.

8. Make their day – Finally, it’s not only romance which counts on Valentine’s Day, everyone appreciates an affectionate message, even if it’s just from mum or dad. Sending a gift to a friend just because you love their friendship can be a very loving thought.

Amazing bread for coeliacs – Genius bread

Genius bread. The name sounds distinctly Scottish (for some reason) but the bread has become an instant nationalfavourite, sold right throughout the British Isles. It’s not surprising, this Scottish success story is delicious; even though it is gluten free the first time I had some I kept going back for more and more, and it works toasted too!

Genius Bread - truly scrumptious

The inventor is a mum with a food-science background who wanted to make a tasty bread for her sons, Angus and Robin, who is coeliac. After many failures Lucinda’s perseverance broke through (and so did her ovens, she broke two of them): she was finally able to present her children with a tasty bread – they liked it and so has the rest of the country, in under a year Genius bread has become the UK’s best selling item in the Free-From category. So if you’ve been put off by gluten free bread before please try again, this bread truly is absolutely scrumptious.

But that’s not the end of the story. Watch this space for Genius rolls, sliced bread, ciabatta and possibly even croissants.

Say your piece

Want your 15 minutes of fame? I’m writing this after just coming our of a marketing meeting, so right now I’m full of inspiration and ideas. We are just putting together our advertisements for the rest of the year and thought what better way than to give you a guys a chance to say your piece about what you think about GoodnessDirect. Tell us why you shop with us along with a little picci of you, we would like the best ones to feature in one of our advertisements, and if your picked as a way of thanking we will send some goodies through the post.

Start your email with I love GoodnessDirect because……. and send it to me, catriona.campbell@goodnessdirect.co.uk , along with your picture.

I look forward to hearing from you all.