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7 things we grew this summer

7 things we grew this summer

Written by Clare Elson

I think we’ve all had some free time recently, and we have all tried to keep our sanity in check in various different ways. Our team took to their inner gardeners to grow some wonderfully diverse produce, straight from their own homes!

1. Anthurium Clarinervium

We weren’t entirely sure what Darcy, our Digital Marketing Manager, meant when he mentioned he’d been growing this over the summer but his plant is a bit of a show stopper. Also known as ‘Flamingo Flower’ it has striking heart-shaped leaves and a velvety texture. The plant originates from Mexico but clearly is quite happy at home with Darcy and his housemates in East London.

2. Tomatoes

Who doesn’t love home grown tomatoes? Easy to grow in a sunny corner or on a windowsill, they have been brightening up summer salads in Clare’s house. The green ones can be made into green tomato chutney and stored for the autumn when a little summer burst of flavour is needed.

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3. Avocado plants

The most extraordinary things to grow. You’d imagine only the hottest climates would produce Avocados but apparently not. Just take a regular avocado stone, suspend one end in water and just wait for it to sprout roots and start growing. You can buy special avocado vases to do this or just improvise with a jam jar and a few cocktail sticks and enjoy watching as the plant springs to life. Then just plant it in soil and watch it grow and grow.

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4. Lemon verbena

Priscilla has a rather impressive herb garden and aside from the more well known Rosemary, Sage and Mint, she grows Lemon Verbena. Easy to grow in the garden, a plant pot or a sunny window box it’s a perfect for flavouring all kinds of dishes, it can also be used as a herbal tea. An excellent way to detox after a summer of lockdown snacking!

5. Potatoes

Helene is known for her green fingers and spends most weekends at her allotment. She also grows potatoes in sacks in her back garden. Easy to grow, you simply fill an old bin, a grow bag or an old sack half full with compost and plant a couple of whole potatoes inside. Once you start to see the green shoots emerge above the soil, cover with a bit more compost, wait until they emerge again and then repeat. Easy!

6. Strawberries

Karen’s been growing strawberries in hanging baskets. A perfect addition to breakfast cereal, porridge or in a cocktail, her top tip is to make sure they don’t get too waterlogged. And they look so pretty too!

7. Celery

Beate’s growing tip this summer is celery. Amazingly easy to grow – you just put the root of an existing head of celery once you’ve eaten it in shallow water (use cocktail sticks to suspend it like the avocado plant) and after about a week a new head will emerge. Plant it in a pot of soil and within a few weeks you’ll have your very own celery!

Not everyone has green fingers...

This was going to be a list of 8 different things we’ve grown, but then we asked Jack. It turns out that although he may be a digital wizard, plants wilt at his mere presence! It just goes to show that not everyone is suited to the good life.

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5 Original Mothers Day Gift Ideas

5 Original Mothers Day Gift Ideas

Mothers Day, this year, falls on the Sunday 31st March.

Mother’s day is the day where you are supposed to honour your mother and give thanks to all the things they have done for you over the years.
In more recent years, as with all our major holidays it has given way to a certain amount of commercialisation. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re anything like us you may feel like a gift with more thought might be more valuable than the gold and silver that we purportedly are supposed to gift.

So we’ve done a little thinking in the office and come up with a few of the more original and thoughtful ideas to share with you.

1) Afternoon Tea

As we grow older we tend to spend a little less time with our parents. Sometimes it can be nice to just sit down and chat over a cup of tea. Taking her out to high tea, throw in a few luxurious sandwich triangles and a slice of decadent carrot cake, paired with your charming company and you’re onto a winner.

2) The Gift of Laughter

Now we don’t mean go round and rattle off a few cheesy jokes. Rather this gift, like the one before is more about spending time with them. There are number of great female comedians getting onto the stage that could be well worth a visit. There are a number of great venues in and around London that offer affordable hilarious afternoon outings.

3) Homemade Bath Salts

  • What you’ll Need:
  • 3 cups Epsom salt
  • 2 cups sea salt
  • Lavender Essential Oil
  • Rose Essential Oil
  • Pink and purple food coloring or soap dye.
  • Test tube or mason jars

How to:

Step one: in a large bowl combine epsom salt, sea salt, and baking soda.

Step two: Separate the bath salts into different bowls if you want to use more than one scent and color. Add 10-15 drops of essential oil per bowl.

Step three: Add 2-3 drops of food coloring, be careful not to add too much to avoid dyeing the skin. Store in airtight container.

4) Homemade candles

What You’ll Need:

  • Teacups of glassware (jars work well too. We suggest searching your nearby charity shops.)
  • Wax (This is also a great opportunity to use up old candle stubs.)
  • Wax wicks
  • Wooden skewers
  • Candle-making dyes and scents/essential oils (optional)
  • Thermometer (if using scent)
  • Tape
  • Double-boiler (or a can/smaller pot inside a large pot with water in it)

How to:

Step one: Create your wick support by taking your two wooden skewers together with the wick held between them dangling into the cup. The wicks will have little metal disks at one end: those will go at the bottom of the teacup. Use a bit of glue to make them stay down if you need to.

Step 2: Melt the wax in your double boiler. Chop or grate it for faster more even meting. Once it’s liquid allow to cool. If you’re adding scent or colour wait until the wax cools to around 65 degrees C.

Step 3: While your wax is still nice and liquid, pour it into the prepared vessels, leaving ½ an inch of space from the lip of the cup. Allow this to cool completely (4-6 hours is ideal), then trim your wicks to 1 inch in length, and voila! You have beautiful, handmade teacup candles to give as gifts.

5) A Healthy Back Bag

Last on the list is of course a Healthy Back Bag. Our beautiful bags are stylish, unique, functional and good for you! Our bags make great gifts to show your loved ones that you really care.

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Our Favourite Healthy Christmas Dishes

healthy christmas with HBB

Our Favourite Healthy Christmas Dishes

OUR STAFF GUIDE TO A HEALTHY CHRISTMAS

When it comes to attempting a healthy Christmas, one of the first things that leaps to mind is the food. The vast quantities of roast chicken (I’ve never been much of a turkey person), vegetables, potatoes, and of course the mince pies, chocolate, and mulled wine.

What excites me the most, and drags me out of my deep slumber, is the thought of freshly prepared hors d’oeuvres, the bubbling Mimosas, and the smell of a slowly soaking Christmas pudding. It’s not, and I’m being honest, the presents.

However, all this eating and drinking leaves one feeling a little bit guilty by the end of it all. We enter the new year with our trousers a little tighter. So, we thought it might be an idea to ask our staff for their favourite healthy Christmas foods!

soup

KAREN’S Savoury Treats

“I make my own soups full of goodness and 100% vegetarian ! My very favourite though is Butternut Squash Soup.”

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash cubed
  • 1 large onion finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Turmeric
  • Fresh ginger
  • Vegetable stock cube
  • Chilli powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chives

Method

  1. Place the squash, onion, and garlic into a large stock pot, cover with hot vegetable stock, add a pinch of tumeric, and chilli powder to taste.
  2. Grate in some fresh ginger and add salt and pepper.
  3. Leave to simmer for around 30 mins, then blitz with a blender.
  4. Garnish with chives.

DAN’S SAUSAGE TART

“Okay, so sausages…” Dan is a long time fan of sausages and pies for almost any occasion so it’s unsurprising that his input here is a delicious “healthy christmas” sausage tart.

Ingredients

  • 100g reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 220g plain flour
  • 170g whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 220g turkey sausage
  • 4 to 5 mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 small stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread, crumbed
  • A handful of dried fruit
  • 1 stalk of rosemary, finely chopped
  • ½ cup water

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to around 190c and butter your cupcake tray
  2. Beat cream cheese in a large bowl with 1 egg and oil until well combined. Add the all-purpose and pastry flour. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Sautee mushrooms, onion and celery in oil until softened. Add sausage meat and cook until browned. Add the bread crumbs, dried fruit, and rosemary. Whisk the remaining 1 egg and water in a small bowl. Drizzle over the sausage mixture and stir until combined.
  4. Divide the dough into 24 balls. Press each ball evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a muffin cup. Spoon the sausage mixture evenly into the dough cups.
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
pastry
cupcake

PRISCILLA’S Sweet BAKES

Priscilla is a baker at heart, her birthday brownies are longingly looked forward to every year! This recipe though is christmas themed and healthy(ish).

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 170 whole wheat flour
  • 230g brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 110g vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 medium carrots, grated
  • Canned pineapple, drained (you could add dried fruit here if you wanted)

Directions

  1. Line your muffin tray. And Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Stir the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl lightly whisk the egg, then whisk in the vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. Quickly and lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula. Stir in the carrots and pineapple until moist; the batter should be very thick. Divide the batter evenly in the tray cups.
  4. Bake about 30 minutes.

Beate’s POACHED PEARS

“My favourite skinny Christmas Dessert: Rosé wine Poached Pears with a dollop of half fat crème fraîche.”

Ingredients

  • 3 medium ripe pears
  • 350g sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Rosé Wine (your selection)
  • Vanilla Extract

METHOD

  1. Peel the pears, and cut them in half (removing the cores)
  2. Over a medium heat, combine the sugar, water, wine and vanilla bean in a saucepan, stirring while you bring it to the boil.
  3. Add the pears to the saucepan ensuring that they are all covered.
  4. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid, and simmer until the pears are soft.
  5. Serve the pears with a dollop of half fat crème fraîche.
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What’s your favourite healthy Christmas dish for the festive season? Let us know on our Facebook page!