A good reason to eat lots of chocolate at Christmas

My friends say that one of the good things about Christmas is that you can scoff as many chocolates as you like without feeling the need to make excuses.

I’m not so sure about the ethics of that, but if you are going to be ethical about chocolate at Christmas then you’d be a wise man (or woman) to make Divine Fairtrade Chocolates your prefered choice.

Part of the pleasure is in giving to others
Divine – part of the pleasure is in giving to others

Divine Chocolate is made with high grade cocoa from cooperative farms in Ghana where farm-workers get a proper profit from the sale of the chocolate.

For you it means Chocolate Christmas Trees, Chocolate Hearts, After Dinner Mints (or Ginger Thins if you prefer), Chocolate Coins and Advent Calendars. For the farmers it’s a doubly happy Christmas as they see a fairer share of the income come their way.

If you don’t mind being stung by statistics, it’s all part of an effort that’s helping to lead 1.8 million child workers from cocoa plantations out of often brutal conditions and back into education.

And that’s a good reason to stuff some fairtrade chocolate in your mouth

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Have a dairy free countdown to Christmas

If you’re dairy intolerant it needn’t put a dampener on Christmas preparations… 

Plamil have come up with two yummy dairy free and gluten free Advent Calendars with 24 chocolates… I mean, days to countdown with.

Dairy free Advent Calendars
Dairy free Advent Calendars from Plamil

The first is an organic and fairtrade dairy free calendar which, according to our GoodnessDirect manager, Faith, tastes very much like milk chocolate. It’s a great alternative for those who love milk chocolate but can’t have any.

The other Plamil calendar (also dairy free) comes with no added sugar – but is sweetened with xylitol instead. This one is 70% cocoa, so it’s perfect for those who like their chocolate a little bit darker.

Plamil is proud to be a nut free and vegan outlet so you can reliably buy from them with an easy conscience.

Green & Black’s know how to liven up chocolate

How can you possibly improve on chocolate?

The same way you heighten the flavour of any good food… add salt and pepper to taste.

Green & Black's chocolate... season to taste
Green & Black’s chocolate… season to taste

Green & Black’s take chocolate seriously enough to apply food’s fundamental rules and have produced a Milk Chocolate seasoned with delicate flakes of Anglesey Sea Salt – just enough to compliment its creaminess and underscore the chocolate’s caramel notes.

And there’s a new Dark Chocolate peppered with Spiced Chilli and spotted with juniper berries to bring out a fruity bite combined with chilli warmth.

When normal chocolate seems a little bland, there’s always Green & Black’s.

Looking for a little gift to give away?

Does anyone know which month has the most birthdays in the UK?

This time of year always seems to have an increase in parties and celebrations. There are birthdays and fireworks events and Halloween nights and Christmas countdowns, there’s Divali and Hannukah and sometimes Ramadan. Of course, we’re talking about a large portion of the year but it does all seem to happen at once!

Sweet mangos covered in rich dark chocolate
Sweet mangos covered in rich dark chocolate

So what kind of gifts do you stock up on for these occasions? Something pleasurable you can keep to hand to give away, something indulgent and impressive?

One suggestion might be Divine’s chocolate covered mangos, apricots and brazil nuts.

Divine are a fairtrade company and use 70% rich dark chocolate to clothe sliced pieces of mango, whole apricots and whole brazil nuts. The effect is undoubtedly mesmerizing, and they’re bound to go down well at a party.

For those of you who love tea, when you want it and just how you like it

Nowadays, everyone has their favourite tea, and everyone is different…

It’s no longer unusual for a friend to reach into their bag or drawer to pull out their own individual prefered tea.

clipper envelope teaClipper, purveyors of organic and fairtrade tea, have developed a range of speciality teas (all protected in their own small envelopes) to enable everyone to drink their own special brew whenever and wherever they want it.

There’s…

Rise & Shine – Organic Maté, Lemongrass & Lemon Verbena infusion. A lovely little lemony lift.
Cloud Nine – Organic Elderflower, Lemongrass & Apple infusion. As welcome as a summer breeze.
Love Me Truly – Organic Chai infusion of Cinnamon, Ginger, Cardamom and Cloves. For some well-deserved me time.
Zen Again – Organic Lemongrass, Eucalyptus & Gingko infusion, for that moment of peace.
After Dinner Mints – Organic double Mint & Fennel infusion. Perfect post pudding.
Snore & Peace – Organic Chamomile, Lemon Balm & Lavender infusion. Just the thing before lights out.

Thank-you Clipper, for tea how you want it, when you want it.

Is red quinoa really better than white quinoa?

Red quinoa, white quinoa
What’s the difference between red and white quinoa?

This is an honest open question…

I’ve heard some people say that red quinoa is better than white quinoa, but I keep looking and looking and can’t find anything to support this?

So does anyone know something I don’t?

Quinoa grain is popular because it is very nutritious. It’s a great source of vitamins & minerals and is a source of complete protein – that means it’s a choice food for vegetarians and vegans, but it’s also gluten free, so anyone who is coeliac can eat it too.

The only difference I can find is that red quinoa has more bite to it and has a stronger flavour. It doesn’t soften as easily as white quinoa. But what this means is that different colours of quinoa perform better in different meals, red quinoa might be better in tabouli salads or as a side dish when serving fish, but white quinoa is more useful if you want to make porridge, thicken a soup or add it to a casserole.

Quinoa salad
Quinoa is worth trying if you are vegetarian, vegan or gluten free

Quinoa is very versatile. BioFair use organic, fairtrade quinoa to make gluten free pasta, and turn the grain into all sorts of quinoa variations: pops, flakes, flour or muesli. But the quinoa fans out there (who must know something more about quinoa than I do) will relish the news that BioFair not only sells white quinoa but also the more rare red version, and mixes both with the even more obscure black quinoa for a tricolor option.

Which leads to my next question: does any know how black quinoa differs from the red white varieties?

A coffee for every hour of the day

Clipper Coffees for every moment
Clipper Coffees for every moment

I remember my childhood days when I would go shopping with my mum and we would pass a coffee grinding shop. The smells eminating from the shop door were heavenly. Even though, back then, I didn’t drink the stuff, I often wanted to persuade my mother to buy me some.

Now I am a confirmed coffee lover, so I can’t help but be excited by the deep aroma of Clippers five new ground coffees.

One for the Road is a fine evening coffee with a strong, sultry and slightly sweet taste. It’s difficult to have just the one cup.

‘Anytime Decaf’ is a great coffee for chilling out with. It doesn’t taste like you’re missing the caffeine. A superioir coffee blend.

Wakey Wakey is stong but not too bitter, it has a rounded flavour leaving you with a clean taste in your mouth – which is great if you’ve just brushed your teeth.

Daily Grind is a smooth mild coffee that keeps you going through the day, not too powerful but certainly pleasant enough to keep you smiling.

Sunday Best has a wonderfully rich, smooth flavour. Perfect for the beginning of a relaxed day. Drink it everyday and you’ll have the promise of the weekend on your lips.

Remember Clipper coffees are Fairtrade and made with fine Arabica coffee beans.