The Friday Five – Healthy eating, no fads allowed

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Healthy eating, no fads allowed

 

I don’t have a great record on healthy eating books, or certainly those of a certain mindset around “healthy” eating. Deliciously Ella lasted about 2 days in my house, and a book with a recipe for unicorn fuel is my worst cookbook of the year.

But, it’s January, and many of us are thinking about how we could eat a bit more healthily, whether for health or vanity. These ones are ones that tick the boxes in that they do have proper recipes in (although one may have avocado on toast as a recipe, close call) and are quite clearly geared up to people who like to eat and like to cook.

Jamie Oliver Super Food Family Classics

 

Jamie Oliver Super Food Family Classics

 

I’m not the biggest Jamie Oliver fan, I’ve had a number of his books over the years but none have stayed in the house too long. I was given this one though, and MGG and I have cooked from it a lot. It’s an interesting read, as well as good recipes, and is definitely geared to busy family life. We loved the pesto and curry paste recipes, these are all in the freezer. The only nay from us was the Butternut Squash Mac’n’Cheese. In MGG’s view, some things are not meant to be healthy.

 

Fitness Food/Fitness Gourmet

 

Fitness Food

 

Took me a few moments to work out this is exactly the same book, just in hardback and paperback. I liked this when I reviewed the original version, other than the incident with the coconut pancakes. Still avoid that one, the recipe looks to be exactly the same between the editions. It’s easy to follow, you can work out how to dial up dishes if it’s just you on reduced calories and you’ve got growing teens to cater for too.

 

Cook Nourish Glow

 

Cook Nourish Glow

 

Amelia Freer’s second book, and I thought that with my history I was straying into dangerous territory here. But I managed to get all the way through without one FFS, so pretty good going. There is quite a bit of raw kale, which is a no go with us, but there are plenty of tasty things like chicken breast with ginger and apricot stuffing, or halibut ceviche. I like her writing style, she talks as a fellow adult, and there are plenty of well known people who will testify to the success of her approach.

 

Ready Steady Glow

 

Ready Steady Glow

 

I’m going to get these two confused. Both second books, this one by Madeleine Shaw is about wheat and sugar free, and well written. Although I can live without a yoga routine in my cookbooks if I’m honest, but it’s right at the back so you can skip it. Apricots and chicken feature again, but also something different like slow roast beef cheeks with celeriac mash. Sounds like perfect winter cooking to me, just with healthy overtones.

 

Tom Kerridge’s Dopamine Diet

 

Tom Kerridge's Dopamine Diet

 

Okay, this one isn’t out for a few more days, and I haven’t seen anything of it other than what is on Amazon. Well, that and the change in Tom’s appearance. Let’s face it, he’s about a third of the man he was, but you can’t imagine he’s been living on rice cakes and almond butter. I’m know he’s been putting in the hours at the gym as well (I have a great story about him and a friend of mine in the sauna at the gym…nothing remotely mucky, all about getting a table at the Hand & Flowers), but I reckon if this worked for Tom then it must be good, and very tasty. I mean, you won’t think you’re on a diet if you’re eating braised beef with horseradish or Chinese pork hot pot. I may well have to order this one and give it a go.

 

Whilst I’m definitely gearing up to eat more healthily this year, I’m also not going to eat joyless food. Finding healthy food with taste is the goal, along with an awful lot more movement. Don’t wish to be a bore but loving my FitBit, really is making me think about how long I’m sat still for. Talking of which, time to move!

 

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My worst cookbook of 2017

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Ok, I know what you’re thinking.

It’s only the 4th, there’s a lot cookbooks to go at this year.

Nope, this is going to top them all. This is my worst cookbook of the year, hands down. It probably will be up there in my all time worst cookbooks ever. It’s probably vying for top spot with Deliciously Ella.

 

Eat With Intention - my worst cookbook of 2017

 

Eat With Intention is just not for me, and here’s why:

  1. Any cookbook that has me saying FFS several times by page 29 is probably not boding well. Although obviously I feel sympathy for the problems her brother faced.
  2. I don’t need my cookbooks to offer up a daily visualisation or meditation.
  3. I don’t need my cookbooks to give me a daily mantra.
  4. I don’t need a recipe for Unicorn Fuel. FFS, I’m not a 9 year old. Although that’s probably because I’m not attuned to my magic, the mantra for that day.
  5. I don’t need a recipe for AB&J rice cakes. I can manage to get almond butter onto a rice cake without a recipe. If you can call spread a tablespoon of almond butter on a rice cake a recipe. But then again I’m already comfortable with the ease and flow of life, so could skip that recipe and mantra.

So look, some people will love this book. Cassandra Bodzak is probably an incredibly nice person and, let’s face it, she’s having the last laugh here. She has a book deal, a TV channel, a post as a healthy living guru…and I’m just an overweight, middle aged wage monkey with a little blog and an unmagical approach to cook books.

But then, as the mantra on page 195 says, I appreciate both the sweet and sour in my life. I look forward to the sweetness of good food writing ahead. The bar’s not exactly been set high!

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How to stay out of the dog house this Christmas

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Stay out of the doghouse this Christmas

 

So, here we are, it’s Christmas Eve, you’re all sorted. Nothing to do but maybe take a nice country walk, pop into the pub for a seasonal beverage, head home and light the fire…

Oh, hold on, what’s that you say? No one told you it’s Christmas tomorrow?

Oh come on, not that old one again. I’ve been writing this blog for years and every time it’s the same There’s always someone still looking for a gift on Christmas Eve, even as the rest of us have started sales shopping.

I mean, I could really just suggest you head out and brave the high street or shopping mall, that it serves you right. But you might find that you’ll fare better to find a great gift for a food lover from home than picking over what’s left on the shelves, and might even have something to show for it on Christmas Day. Here’s some thoughts:

 

Opening our minds, and appetites, through travel

 

Go for tickets to something, or somewhere. You could book a full on trip to a great food destination, or even just to something like the Good Food Show. Use your printer, use your crafting skills, get the wrapping paper out and you can still make something of this.

 

Holiday reading

 

Take out a magazine subscription for them (even better if you can pop to your nearest convenience store and find the latest edition too). Quite a lot of them are geared up for you to print out cards and things so again, something for their stocking. Slightly harder to wrap, but gives them huge scope, is to take out a subscription for them to Readly. For a food lover this is amazing, as there’s a huge selection of food and drinks mags from around the world.

 

Afternoon tea and more

 

Many of the gift experience companies do downloadable vouchers, or again you can get busy with your printer, scissors and glue. Red Letter Days are one of my favourites for their range of “gourmet” experiences, from sushi or chocolate making to vineyard and brewery tours. BuyAGift also have a great range, and an e-voucher option.

 

My holiday cookbook reading

 

Steal their Kindle or any other tablet, and load it up with good e-books on food. I’ve written about lots of different books during this year, from the best cookbooks from around the world to cookbooks fit for a Queen, so surely something for everyone and all kinds of tastes.

If they are like me, and the cookbooks are taking over the kitchen and beyond, then give them a subscription to Eat Your Books. It means that they can find any recipe in seconds, as Eat Your Books have done the hard work and indexed every recipe for them. There’s over 1 million recipes listed from a huge number of books, and they might enjoy the setting up as they look at all the lovely books they have just sitting there.

If these are still not quite doing it for you, and you want to give an actual gift, then check out my guide to shopping at St Pancras (other stations are available) or how to do gifts from your local convenience store with style. All of which are better than sitting there tomorrow morning with nothing for your loved one at all.

And no, saying that it’s the thought that counts doesn’t count when you haven’t thought about it! Get to it!

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Get more Greenery into your kitchen in 2017

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It's all about Greenery: Pantone Colour of the Year

I was at the launch of the Pantone Colour of the Year last week, and apparently green is the colour for next year. More precisely, a shade called Greenery.

 

Pantone Colour of the Year Greenery around the home

 

Probably easier to get your head around in the kitchen, than perhaps in your make up bag:

 

Pantone Colour of the Year Greenery in your make up bag

 

But if you want to be ahead of the curve, then here’s a few things I’ve spotted that are in a similar territory.

Chop 2 Pot from JosephJoseph

I think the team at Joseph Joseph have been into this colour for a little while already, as this Chop to Pot is not new. However, these are still an incredibly useful thing to have in the kitchen, regardless of colour.

Kitchen Craft Healthy Manual Juicer

Get ready for the new year, the new colour and inevitable healthy eating resolutions with this Manual Juicer from Kitchen Craft. Makes it sound like you’ll get some exercise at the same time as making your juice, possibly a slightly more peaceful exercise than some mechanised juicers.

 

Asher Tumbler LSA

Update your glassware, whether for water or wine, with this tumbler from LSA International. There is a broad range of colours available but this one is the one if you want to be on the trend.

 

Cow on Grass Milk Jug

 

This milk jug definitely looks like it’s got the right colour going on, or you could say that Greenery was inspired by grass. Whichever way, I think this is a great addition to the breakfast table, produced by Hanne Rysgaard Ceramics.

 

Pea Pod Oven Gloves

 

Freshen up the kitchen with a new pair of oven gloves, like this lovely pair from Thornback & Peel. I love the pea pod pattern, colour is definitely right on trend, and oven gloves always make a great gift, for yourself or anyone else who loves to cook.

 

Basil & Mint Candle from Orla Kiely

I think this Basil and Mint Candle from Orla Kiely ticks the boxes, both in terms of colour, and also the natural world inspiration behind the trend too. Great scent to give a food lover, this will definitely perk up any room.

So, you can get ahead of the crowd and stun them with your colourful kitchen, with a colour that’s inspired by rebirth, energy and positivity. It would be very nice to think that that’s what 2017 has in store for all of us!

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The Friday Five – the best cookbooks of 2016 around the world

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Your own library of cookbooks

 

It’s no secret that I love cookbooks, and I love to give cookbooks as gifts. With so much choice though, it can be completely overwhelming, which is why those best of lists are so helpful. My only challenge is that they can be a little bit samey, from the same voices. So, I’ve looked a bit further afield to see what publications around the web have offered their readers, and taken my choices from there.

 

Better Baking: wholesome ingredients, delicious desserts

 

Better Baking by Genevieve Ko – from the Washington Post’s list, starting off with a baking book, but one that focuses on different flours, fats and sweeteners. A Melting Walnut Snowball sounds like perfect Christmas baking to me. Good to see some UK talent makes the list, including Chetna Makan and Diana Henry. Was also a close run thing to make this entry Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten, as I do love these two. Maybe order both?

 

Food52: a new way to dinner

 

Food52 A New Way to Dinner – up to Canada now for this list from the Ottawa Citizen. Again, good to see Diana Henry on the list, but I’ve chosen this one from the team at Food52. This is to tackle weekday dinners, the just feed us all now kind of dinners. Each of the sections gives you the recipes and the shopping lists, and gives you weekday choices, many that riff one off the next so you can always work out what to do with leftover ingredients. Great for busy working people who like to cook for themselves.

 

Meathead: The Science of Great Grilling

 

Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling – this one comes from Wired’s list of cookbooks of 2016, not a publication I would have expected to have this feature but a really interesting list if you’re looking for books that do the science of cooking as well as tasty dishes. If you’ve got a really keen grillmaster or mistress to buy for, this book would up their game to a whole new level, not to mention giving them some new recipes to go at. Expect a lot of conversations about the benefits of reverse searing.

 

All Under Heaven

 

All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China – as you might expect from the Bay area, this is a fabulous book of Chinese recipes from across this huge country, written by a San Francisco based food blogger and writer. From the San Francisco Times list, this is described as detailed and academic, hefty but a pleasure to read. Definitely one for those who love their Chinese food authentic and varied.

 

An: To Eat

 

An: To Eat – finally, from Gear Patrol’s list, comes this exploration of Vietnamese cooking from Helene An. Exploring her family’s story through cooking, this gives over 100 recipes including things like oven-roasted lemongrass chicken and slow roasted pork shoulder. In fact all the books on the Gear Patrol list were a bit different and, with the exception of Tim Anderson’s book, not ones that I’d come across before.

So, some different choices, some different lists and possible extra brownie points on Christmas Day. Or some extra books on your own bookshelves. I consider that a win either way.

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Who would win my great gift awards for food lovers?

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Who would your winner be?

 

Someone asked me earlier this week who I thought did food gifts really well, doing something a bit different.

Well, it’s like my Mastermind specialist subject. And I could have kept them all day, but didn’t. So, these are my definitely the winners in my book, for when you’re looking for something just a little bit different for a special food lover on your list.

Bluebird Tea Co

 

Make your own black tea kit from Bluebird Tea Co

 

I know, I write about these guys a lot, but I love them and what they’re doing, have done since we met on a front lawn of a country house years ago. Their gifting is inventive and imaginative, and their tea is top notch. I think I could find something for everyone from Bluebird, and at every price point. Love them. Buy direct from them, or there’s a large selection on Not On the High Street.

 

Artisan du Chocolat

 

Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel Honeycomb

 

I’ve always had their salted caramels on my wish list (and it’s the one thing that’s always got taken notice of, lucky me). I love that you can do proper, grown up, single estate, high percentage cocoa with them, and you can do things like salted caramel honeycomb. So essentially a posh Crunchie. My idea of heaven. Chocolate for every budget and every taste, but always incredibly tasty and beautiful looking.

 

Master of Malt

 

Ginvent 2016 Advent Calendar

 

I love these guys for alcohol gifts with edge and interest. I loved them when they started out with the sample sets, I think they’ve been brilliant at the advent calendars, never mind just the mind blowing collection of whiskies, gins, liqueurs and other spirits. They do tasting sets, which can help educate and develop your palate. Or just have some good evenings in. Great choices.

 

The Snaffling Pig Co

Pig N Mix Christmas Gifting

I love businesses with a passion and a focus, and that’s definitely true here. It’s all about the pig, starting with the pork scratchings. The jars look great, and definitely make a great looking, tasty gift. The Pig Night In also includes their own beer, so definitely one to sit back and enjoy. And it’s not too late to get hold of their advent calendar either. Twenty four days of pork scratching gorgeousness.

 

Craved

 

Craft Gin & Tonic Hamper

 

Brilliant source for beautifully curated gifts from the best artisan producers around. Supporting a small business supporting other small food and drink businesses has to be a good thing, and they have such lovely selections. Again, something for every budget and kind of taste. It can be drink, it can be store cupboard, it can be fresh food.

 

So, five great businesses that I reckon could fulfill many of your food and drink gift options for all kinds of people at all kinds of price points. If you could only nominate five places to shop from great food and drink gifts, where would you pick?

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Great gifts for my gorgeous fellow gin lovers

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A shelf full of Irish gin loveliness

 

There doesn’t seem to be a mention of gin on Facebook without at least one of my friends tagging me in it. Now, I do love my gin, though possibly don’t drink anywhere near as much as my reputation seems to suggest!

But gin lovers are being well catered for this Christmas, even without a bottle of the hard stuff being part of the gift. Here’s some of my favourites:

 

Adore Gin Christmas Card

 

Firstly, you’ll be needing a Christmas card for them. This hits the right note.

 

Making a gin putting in ice sweatshirt

 

If it’s cold outside, you’ll need wrapping up warm.

 

Don't come in if you haven't got gin

 

Want to make sure you only get the right kind of guests? Hang this one on the front door instead of the traditional wreath.

 

Anti Stress Remedy Gin Glass

 

Even the thought of guests stressing you out? You’ll need this anti stress remedy glass to serve your perfect gin and tonic in.

 

Gin and Tonic Tea

 

Too early for gin? Is it ever too early for gin? Anyway, gin and tonic tea with your toast anyone?

 

Gin & Lemon Jam

Talking of toast, how about upgrading your normal jam and switching to a Gin & Lemon jam?

 

Relationship status gin mug

 

And you’ll be needing a mug to serve your tea in, and possibly raise a smile or two.

Pickerings Gin Christmas Baubles

Now you’ll be ready to decorate the tree. Gin filled baubles are definitly my kind of thing. Though no one will notice if you replace it with water on the quiet.

 

Gin & Tonic Flavoured Lip Balm

A quick slick of gin and tonic lip balm and you’ll be ready to take on the day.

 

Gin Bunny Gym Bag

 

Time for a trip to the gin. Oh, sorry, that should say gym. But why give up the habit of a lifetime? But I do love this as a gym bag.

 

Drink more gin personalised apron

Time to cook dinner, so you’ll be needing a good apron. This one has my name all over it. Although it could have yours, as there’s a personalised element to it too.

 

Craft Gin & Tonic Hamper

 

So, maybe it’s time to actually get onto the good stuff. I really love Craved and this Craft Gin & Tonic Cocktail Kit is a winner with me. With London Dry Gin or Old Tom Gin, it comes with built in snacks. It’s a night in in a box.

 

Gin soy wax candle

 

Start the wind down, and get your gin and tonic candle lit. Few deep breaths in, and a gentle sip of that G&T you made earlier.

 

Gin hot water bottle cover

 

Now, fill up your hot water bottle (with water, not gin) and head off to bed, to dream dreams of days and nights ahead filled with good gin.

And if you need to find some other gin based ways to fill your day, then check out Gin School. Great way to spend a few hours.

Cheers!

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Christmas Chocolate Choices

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Time for some chocolate indulgence

 

Christmas is such a great time for some chocolate indulgence, for something a bit different and a bit more indulgent than a Wispa. And I don’t mean two Wispas! Here’s some to be considering:

 

The Chocolatier Water Ganaches

 

First up, order anything from The Chocolatier. I love what they are doing, truly delicious flavours, and a really passionate family affair. I met Aneesh and his family at their stand at Cake International where MGG and I worked through quite a few products and flavours, and came home carrying rather a lot of purchases! For something different I would try the Chocolate Peanut Butter, the Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel and any of the water ganaches. You won’t be disappointed!

 

J Chocolate Rugoso

 

For “simple” chocolate then I’d recommend J.Cocoa for true bean to bar production of some very tasty chocolate bars. I really love the 70% Rugoso Dark Chocolate, this has beautiful, smooth flavours to it. I also love James’ story, he started this as a hobby, is still making this in a shed in the garden and used to be a fishmonger. I don’t know how good he was as a fishmonger, but he’s making amazing chocolate.

 

artisan chocolate making kit

 

If they fancy themselves as a chocolatier, then maybe start them off with a chocolate making kit from Full of It Craft Chocolate. With two different kits, these come with raw cacao butter and raw cacao powder, either from Peru or Ecuador. All the instructions are there, and they can add their own choice of flavourings. Could be a great activity on Christmas Day afternoon, after the turkey and all the other excitement.

 

Rococo Roald Dahl Chocolate

 

I love Rococo, and I love the link up they’ve done as part of the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations. Each bar draws inspiration from different characters, from James with his giant peach, through to Mr Twit’s Beardy Breakfast Bar. These could make great stocking fillers for kids, big and small.

 

Chocolate Avocado

 

Chocolate certainly doesn’t have to be serious, and so this one is a bit of fun. Avocado has certainly been having a moment, and so perhaps you can pretend that you’re being healthy whilst indulging in this chocolate avocado. I might send it to MFL as he loathes avocado but loves chocolate.

 

Craft Chocolat Subscription

 

For a gift that keeps on giving for a bit longer than just Christmas Day, then how about a craft chocolate subscription from Cocoa Runners? Three bars of the finest craft chocolate will arrive every month, along with tasting notes so you really get the most out of the experience. Definitely one for the chocolate connoisseur.

 

Organic Trinidad Sipping Chocolate

 

Maybe they might like their chocolate on the hot side? Hot chocolate forms part of our Christmas traditions, and this sipping chocolate from Luxury Fine Foods would definitely make a very indulgent grown up hot chocolate. Made using single origin organic cacoa beans from Trinidad, this melts beautifully into warm milk and will make a great indulgence on a cold night.

Of course these are all lovely, and I think most people would be very happy to receive any of them. But there’s still room for a Terry’s chocolate orange in every stocking on Christmas morning, possibly even a Cadbury’s selection box. Although I think we might be having a Toblerone boycott going on. What chocolate is part of your family traditions at Christmas?

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Gifts for the flavour and ingredient explorers

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Exploring new flavours and ingredients

 

There are those that love their cooking and are always on the hunt for new flavours, new ingredients, new things to try and experiment with. Christmas is a great time to indulge them, and seek out something a little different for them to play with. Here’s a few to get their imaginations fired up and some experimental cooking ready to go:

 

Spice Drops Baking Collection

The Holy Lama spice drops are brilliant additions in the kitchen, really concentrated flavours in an easy to add way to many dishes. The Baking Kit gives them the flavours of cardamom, rose, ginger and cinnamon in a way that can be introduced into all kinds of recipes. The flavours are really fresh tasting, as these are cold pressed from the best spices, and create these highly concentrated essences. Great for experimenting.

 

Smoked Sugar from Smoky Brae

 

I really love the idea of this Smoked Sugar from Smoky Brae, for the flavour it would add to all kinds of confectionary and sweet goods. A smoky salted caramel sounds like my idea of heaven on a plate. Smoky Brae also do a great gift set that has the sugar as well as their smoked gravalax cure and smokey BBQ rub, so something for all seasons.

 

Aduna Moringa Super Powder

 

There’s been lots of matcha following on from green tea, but if you want to move them on a bit then maybe try them out with Moringa. Aduna do this as a powder, which can be added to soups and smoothies. If it’s anything like matcha then it’ll be quite a challenge, probably quite an acquired taste, but that might be just the kind of challenge they like.

 

Organic brown teff flour from Real Foods

 

How about getting them different flours to play with? There’s such a huge variety available now, this one is organic brown teff flour from Real Foods, who have an incredible selection of different flours. If you want to give them some inspiration about what to do with different flours, then I really recommend Flavour Flours by Alice Medrich.

 

Hot banana ketchup from Sinclairs Condiments

 

I had never heard of banana ketchup before this year, but keep seeing it cropping up now. This one from Sinclair Condiments could just go on a burger or sausage, but it’s also good for trying out in a marinade or glaze. Something like this that gives them plenty of ways to try and use it have to be a good thing.

 

White Aged Balsamic Vinegar from Gourmet Spice Co

I’ve written a few times about Gourmet Spice Co over the years, and they always have something different to tempt with. I would try out the White Aged Balsamic Vinegar, because it tastes delicious but also brings some conversational bragging rights as not many people have heard of white balsamics. They’ll find it has lots of uses, and sure they’ll have lots of ideas. Gourmet Spice Co also have a good selection of different gift boxes if you can’t choose just one product. I usually have that problem!

 

The Flavour Thesaurus - perfect gift for a food lover looking to explore flavour combinations

 

If they don’t have it already, then I also recommend buying them a copy of the Flavour Thesaurus, as that has so many combinations of flavours to inspire them. There are combinations in here that you just would not think of, or get bored of trialling. Fascinating reading, even if they never actually get round to doing anything with them.

Of course, there is a fine line here, try not tip into the territory of most loathed food lover gifts! These are not the people to buy giant pepper grinders for! Less is definitely more with them, finding stuff that’s unusual but not unusable.

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The best Advent Calendars for food and drink lovers

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The countdown is on!

 

Advent calendars have come along way since I was a kid, and the excitement of finding you got a picture of a robin, or a snowman. Then we upgraded to chocolate, and that was that for quite some time.

And then all of a sudden there’s every kind of calendar around, and I think they just get more interesting each year. So, here’s my roundup of the ones I love this year:

Christmas Chocolate Lovers CountdownHow about advent and then some? Simply Chocolate’s “Countdown to Christmas” adds some extra chocolate into your advent countdown. I mean, who doesn’t want to celebrate a few half days? That could brighten up your lunchtime. Not only that, but you get some interesting chocolate flavours, including Crunchy Coco and Misty Martha. Which is something to do with hazelnuts.

 

Snaffling Pig Pork Scratchings Advent Calendar

 

Who says advent calendars have to be about sweet stuff? Snaffling Pig have created what I think is the first pork scratchings advent calendar. Six different flavours to work through, a mini bag behind each door. If it’s their kind of thing, then this is going to make their December.

 

Bluebird Luxury Tea Advent Calendar

 

The calendar also doesn’t have to generate huge calorie counts before the big Christmas feast. I love Bluebird Tea’s advent calendar, packed full of amazing tea as you’d expect but also some nice surprises (also low calorie) such as mini candles and pin badges. Oh, and some chocolate. But just a little.

 

Ginvent 2016 Advent Calendar

 

There again, could have a daily indulgence, and in my case my favourite option would be gin. The Ginvent Calendar is right up my street, and perfect for any fellow gin lover. The selection includes some more unusual artisanal gins, and gives you enough to work out if you want to splash out on the full bottle or not. Possibly it’s not quite the done thing to sample these ones first thing in the morning though.

 

Charbonnel et Walker Advent Calendar

 

Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good chocolate advent calendar, and Charbonnel et Walker have a rather lovely one.  A little more than a chocolate shape each day, you’ll be treated to things like their classic English rose fondant creams, or even some fudge for a change. Beautiful looking too.

 

Craft Beer Advent Calendar

 

Maybe beer is their thing, and maybe just a small indulgence each day is a good thing. Honest Brew has produced a calendar of craft beers, containing a whole range of beer styles including pilsners, porters and stouts, and from a variety of different small brewers. Again, a nice way to sample a variety of different producers.

 

Fortune Cookie Advent Calendar

 

Finally, combining two trends, Cracking Cookies offer something a bit different, in that this is an advent calendar of fortune cookies, and then personalisation, as each cookie contains a message from you. I guess you could build this up into revealing a big surprise, so a series of clues perhaps, or just 24 things about the person eating the cookies. Different, but not cheap at £44.99, so maybe leading up to a surprise is the best thing. I’m thinking a very big, good kind of surprise…though Eastenders could rewrite this as a lead up to a Christmas Day departure in a taxi kind of surprise.

I think these are lovely, but I do slightly struggle with these a bit, in terms of some of them are quite expensive, for something that isn’t actually a gift to give on Christmas Day. It’s one heck of a treat to yourself in the run up to Christmas for sure. Maybe if we do end up back in austerity measures then we’ll all be back on lovely picture calendars by next year. Love to know your thoughts on these.

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