HEALTH & BALANCE

Helping you live a healthy happy life


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HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST COCONUT OIL BRAND

As you have probably noticed, I am a huge fan of coconut oil and its beneficial properties for the skin, hair and our health in general. I have mentioned my favourite Hair treatments and also recommend it to my clients for cooking and skincare. The market for coconut oil has exploded in recent years, giving birth to hundreds of new companies, claiming to have the ‘best’ coconut oil and using its beneficial properties to attract more sales. I have tried quite a few brands and discovered only 3 that meet my criteria for 100% goodness and top quality. Here is the list with the reasons to choose each one.

pinksun coconut

1. PinkSun – based in West Yorkshire, the company is committed to bringing some of the finest quality products from around the world, such as wheatgrass, barley powder, goats whey and coconut oil. Their coconut oil is deliciously light and creamy with the natural aroma and taste of fresh coconuts.  It is not hydrogenated, refined, bleached or deodorised.  What makes it superior to other brands is the making process – it is cold pressed at less than 38 degrees so is considered “raw coconut oil” and has all the benefits of the oil preserved.

To produce great tasting, the oil is sourced from the finest organic coconuts in tropical Sri Lanka.  These organic coconuts are harvested at the optimal time when the coconuts are bursting with oil.  The organic coconuts are then husked and the raw coconut meat (white inner part) is separated from the hard shall which is recycled as bio-fuel.

The price is £9.45 for the 500ml glass jar or £9.00 for a tube package – the cheapest from all and being truly RAW makes it a real Winner. the only drawback is the colour of the jar – you must keep it outside direct sunlight, airtight and not at a very warm part of the kitchen. They also offer bulk buying for additional savings.

Lucy bee coconut oil

2. LucyBee – their Extra Virgin Fair Trade Organic Coconut Oil is imported in food grade barrels from the Philippines and is bottled in a BRC Grade A plant in Manchester, producing the finest quality Fair Trade product at a very reasonable price. Choosing this brand gives you an ‘ethical’ benefit of supporting a fair trade product which aims to improve workers’, farmers’ and producers’ quality of life through sustainable community development. The temperature of cold-pressing is not mentioned on the site but they claim to have it 100% Raw.

I personally love their brand engagement and attitude toward customers. They have an interesting blog page and offer lots of delicious recipes on how to cook with the oil. You can also get a free jar if you send 12 labels of your already empty LucyBee jars.

The price is £9.95 for the 500ml glass jar which is again in clear colour and will require you to keep it away from the sunlight.

viridian coconut

3. Viridian – this is the most expensive of all but with the least information available about it. It is sourced from the Philippines and is certified by thy Soil Association. Unfortunately, we don’t know the temperature of cold-pressing and whether it’s fair trade. What I like about this one is the glass jar – dark colour and easy to store.

The price is £15.00 for the 500ml glass jar.

I have given you three options, depending on your budget and purchasing criteria. What I often recommend is a rotation of the three so you try for yourself and see if you find a difference in taste.

Hope this helps and you enjoy your new coconut heaven.

With health & balance,

Maya xxx

 


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UGG FOODS – HEALTHY FOOD MIXES FOR BUSY BEES

ugg foodsThe hardest and most desirable thing for us, the healthy busy bees, is finding time to cook and stay active during a busy schedule. While I am still working on achieving this balance myself, I have discovered a revolutionary food company to help me in the meantime.  UGGFoods – heavenly delicious bread and cake mixes that get ready in just a few minutes. The best part is their nutritional content – gluten & dairy free, no added sugar, high in Omega 3, Soya free, with no additives or any other nasties that we find in the supermarkets ‘ready’ meals.

Here is a summary of their admirable mission:

Ugg Foods’ aim is to encourage natural, healthy eating whilst still offering delicious treats. The majority of consumers believe that it is difficult to find tasty treats that are also truly good for you. For example, in the supermarkets, many gluten-free products contain sweeteners and additives that raise blood sugar which in turn increases insulin and fat storage. Ugg makes sure that their products have no added sugar and use only healthy fats, mainly olive oil rather than toxic trans fats.

ugg logoWhen combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, Ugg foods can also replace high carb and sugary products in the battle to lose weight. Their products are low in starches and sugar, known as ‘fermentable carbohydrates’ which can spike blood sugar, and often contain allergens and plant poisons. These nutrient-poor carbs also promote overgrowth of dental caries-causing bacteria. Moreover, they do not alkalize our bodies which are generally designed to work on a mildly alkalizing diet.

I actually see great potential for the company to expand their product range by offering mixes tailored to different fitness goals – post/pre-workout meals that can have different rations of protein to carbs and fat. Since the mixes are powder-based, whey protein can be added, along with various superfoods, such as macca powder, spirulina and wheatgrass.

UGG-Chocolate-Chia-BrowniesI also have some good news, for those of you, busy bees, who still love to ‘cheat’ and can’t give up cakes that easily. Ugg foods help stabilise blood sugar which reduces the cravings for harmful carbs and cakes. Moreover, if you do get such a craving, they also have a solution – chocolate cake mixes that leave you truly satisfied and guilt-free, making you love deserts even more.

The food mixes are easy to make and all you need to do is add eggs, olive oil and whatever else you fancy in your ‘busy’ bread or cake. They offer plenty of recipes on their website and you can turn into a real chef to impress your guests.ugg foods reviewMy first food experiment was with their Nutty Bread Mix. I turned it into a high-protein Nutty Bread – since it is low in carbs and a bit higher in healthy fats, the bread is ideal for my low carbs days – when I am recovering from the gym.

Here is how the experiment went:

I change the original recipe to cater for my dietary needs.

  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 scoops of natural whey (60g)
  • 50g Total Fat Greek Yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp mild/light olive oil
  • 100ml almond milk
  • 1 tea spoon coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp red or white wine vinegar (i actually used white wine as I did not have any vinegar)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat fan assisted oven to 160°C/320°F/Gas 4. We need the low degrees to preserve the benefits of the healthy fats.

Beat together eggs, vinegar, yoghurt, whey and oil then add packet of dry UGG Chia Seed & Nut Bread mix.

Stir vigorously together. Mix will thicken and become sticky.

Pour into coconut oil greased silicone or non-stick loaf tin (10 x 20cm approx).

Bake for 45 minutes. Leave to cool. You make 500g of bread and I cut it in 5 portions.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

TYPICAL VALUES PER 100g per portion
Energy kcal 340
Protein 27g
Carbohydrates 13g
Sugars 0.8g
Fat (heart-healthy) 20g

INGREDIENTS of the pack

Almond meal, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, coconut flour, bicarbonate of soda, xantham gum, pink himalayan salt.

As you can see the ‘flour’ for the bread comes from grounded nuts and seeds – all great for your heart. Chia seeds make you feel fuller for longer because they absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel. This “chia gel” hydrates the body which is very beneficial for athletes. There’s evidence to suggest that they can reduce blood pressure and they are the richest plant source of Omega-3.hymalayan saltPink himalayan salt is the new superfood for all salt lovers.  This salt is millions of years old and pure, untouched by many of the toxins and pollutants that are found in ocean salt. Known in the Himalayas as “white gold,” it contains the same 84 natural minerals and elements found in the human body. It is believed that regular consumption of this salt balances electrolytes, supports proper nutrient absorption, eliminates toxins, balances the body’s pH, normalises blood pressure, and increases circulation.

As you can see, my busy bees, there is a lot of natural goodness in just one little pack. Purchasing these products will not only help YOU but also make the world a better place – 20% of all Ugg net profits are donated to charities. I am so happy to finally see a company, not heavily focused on profit, but committed to share knowledge and make healthy eating more accessible. There are so many companies out there, claiming to offer healthy food…but in reality when you look at the ingredient list, the content is far away from healthy!

After my rigorous inspection, however, UggFoods have passed my healthy quality criteria and I can officially welcome their products to my Health & Balance world.

With health & balance,

Maya xxx


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HEALTHY PIZZA – NOT JUST A MYTH

The phrase ‘healthy junk food’ has always been considered a myth and even though many pizza companies are trying to reduce fat and salt content to attract the increasingly health-conscious consumer, the majority of them still can’t get it right! Reduce the fat and salt but increase the sugar or harsh additives – that’s not they way forward! Thus, on my hunt for innovative healthy ideas and businesses passionate about our well-being, I discovered the first nutritionally healthy and utterly delicious pizza – a treat that’s good for you!

eatbalanced pizzasDuring the Social Media Week in Glasgow last year, I met the inspiring team of Eat Balanced – a Scottish enterprise, committed to cleverly combine the best quality ingredients to deliver a nutritious version of our favourite foods – with all the vital  nutrients (protein, fats, carbs, salt, sugars and even fibre) for a gild-free delicious meal.

Winning a number of prestigious awards, such as Best New Idea at Food & Drink Expo 2012 and the “Business with the highest impact” at Entrepreneurial Spark, 2012, the company has teamed up with professor Mike Lean, Head of the Human Nutrition section at the University of Glasgow to create pizzas that are nutritionally balanced and still having a great flavour. They use the UK’s guideline daily amounts to ensure that each of the pizzas contains about 30% of our guideline daily amounts. The base is also made with 50% wholemeal flour and the crust is thin and crunchy – it’s like the mastery of the Italian pizza makers.

bert pepperIn addition to the great taste and health benefits, the brand itself is very interactive, lively and fun to be around. As a marketer, I have thoroughly inspected their website design, brand development and marketing communications. And the Bee Verdict…they tick all the boxes for a successful brand equity despite their small-scale team and initial stage of business development. The company has created an engaging character – Bert Pepper – a Chief Vegetable Officer who explains the truth behind mainstream pizzas, emphasising the uniqueness of the Eat Balanced pizzas.

There is also a full explanation of all their ingredients which are further giving a personal and enticing human touch, making this healthy treat a truly fun and interactive experience. From a marketing communications perspective, they have also jumped successfully on the latest digital bandwagon by having strong and engaging presence on the main social media platforms and providing customers with prompt replies. Hashtags are widely used and customer testimonials are in abundance to give new consumers assurance and confidence in the quality of the pizzas.

And my favourite part of this engagement… their blog page which provides health advice and encourages people to share their experience. I was also lucky enough to participate as a guest blogger in their Christmas initiative for healthy recipes where I offered my healthy on-the-go oat cookies. This idea achieved great success and showed one of the most important pillars for today’s successful marketing – blogging about content relevant to your business and connect with other bloggers for a viral reach.

Where to find this Treat?

eat_balanced_pizzaAs a dedicated health enthusiasts I am often critical when I hear food producers trying to make health claims about their products and thus I tend to give these claims a full inspection before proceeding into buying. However, Eat Balanced has won my admiration and ranks as my favourite pre-workout meal. If you want to be part of this healthy experience, you can find their products in the Asda,  Sainsburys stores in Scotland and Ocado.com in England and Wales.

The team is working hard to launch the pizzas nationwide and I am looking forward to seeing this soon. Considering their current progress and marketing activities thus far I am confident that this unique idea will continue its viral spread and I am glad to have been part of it.

With health & balance,

Maya xxx