Sunday, 12 April 2015

OHSO Chocolate

Supermarkets and health shops are inundated with products claiming to contain "good bacteria" which are designed to improve gut health. These products are often referred to as pre/probiotics. 

For those who don't know, PROBIOTICS are products which contain the live bacteria, instantly increasing your gut numbers of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. 
PREBIOTICS are products which feed your gut to promote the multiplication of the existing bacteria (that nutrition degree didn't go to waste after all then...).

Whether they are prebiotic yoghurts or probiotic drinks, there's plenty of products to choose from. One in particular that most would've heard of by now is Yakult. A probiotic daily drink, this has an acquired flavour, to put it kindly. The good news is, the days of swallowing down something that resembles sour milk every morning are long gone. This is all thanks to the geniuses behind OHSO chocolate who have managed to formulate a healthy yet delicious way of getting your daily dose of probiotics into your body.

I was lucky enough to be sent a few samples of some of their range. which is currently available online and at selected supermarkets.

The bars come in a variety of delicious flavours. The original chocolate flavour and the orange flavour contain 72kcal whilst the sugar-free raspberry, orange and lemon bars come in at only 63kcal. That's pretty damn good for a chocolate fix. Each box contains 7 individual bars, designed with the idea that you have one a day to boost your healthy gut bacteria levels. However, these are so genuinely guilt free that if you ate more than one, you can still sleep easy!

The thing I personally find so great about these bars is that the ingredients list doesn't read like some advanced chemistry paper. All the ingredients are easy to understand and all flavourings are natural. Flavour-wise, they're something special. You don't get any sort of synthetic taste like you do with cheaper chocolate brands and, apart from the orange flavour, the cocoa content is above 70%. This is perfect for those who, like me, don't have a massive sweet tooth but sometimes just want a small dose of sweetness. The orange flavour is much more like traditional milk chocolate so is probably better for the hardened chocolate lover. 

So whats the point in them? Coincidentally, I actually did my dissertation research into a product very similar to this. I have seen first hand how increased levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can improve gut health.  Gut health may not be something you think too much about but, trust me, if you didn't have enough levels of these friendly bacteria in your gut, you would be incredibly prone to illnesses such as diarrhea, constipation and IBS to name a few. I often recommend probiotic products to friends who have IBS in particular as daily consumption of them tends to ease the symptoms dramatically. 

The unusual thing about OHSO products is they are chocolate based. Not only does this taste great, but it's also for a much more functional reason. The chocolate matrix surrounding the bacteria is much more efficient than yoghurt drinks at protecting the bacteria from being affected by stomach acid which is vital as the bacteria need to reach the intestines whilst they are still live. 

So there you have it. If you've read my juice detox review then you will know that I'm pretty honest in my opinions. I can truthfully say that I think OHSO chocolate is a revelation and I would highly recommend this product to anyone, whether it was because they were specifically looking for an effective probiotic product, or if they just wanted some great tasting chocolate!

At £3.99 per box, these aren't the cheapest product on the market but it also doesn't totally break the bank. Personally, I would happily pay slightly more for chocolate that I know is also going to benefit me health wise. Considering OHSO contains around a billion bacteria, you've got a billion great little reasons to invest in some. 


Sunday, 5 April 2015

Warm Sweet Potato, Mushroom & Spinach Salad

I don't know about you, but I feel like we've got to that awkward time of year where you don't know if it's going to hot or cold. The sky may be clear blue and picturesque, but the temperature is near freezing. We're definitely moving from Winter into Spring which is why I think this warm salad is perfect for the changing seasons. It's warm and comforting which suits the Winter months, but it's also light and healthy which is perfect for those starting to get into the Summer mode! 

I've stolen this recipe from Deliciously Ella. If you haven't heard of her, she's a London-based food blogger who found her passion for healthy, nutritious eating after being diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome. By her own admittance, her diet was pretty shocking before her diagnosis. Thanks to an overnight switch to a whole foods, plant-based diet, she was able to control her illness and was able to come off all her medication quicker than any doctor could've predicted. Inspiring stuff!

The ingredients in this salad are clean and simple and provide you with a whole bunch of the good stuff. Spinach, as most know, is packed with iron and the mushrooms give you a boost of Vitamin B6 which is essential for the metabolism of amino acids, lipids and glucose. Even the jalapeño peppers have their benefits as an antioxidant. So, to serve two people, here's how it works...

You Will Need:
-1 large sweet potato
-a dozen chestnut mushrooms
-2 bags babyleaf spinach
-2 jalapeño peppers
-a dozen cherry tomatoes, halved
-apple cider vinegar
-olive oil

Slice the potatoes into bitesized chunks (skin on), and spread them out on to a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, paprika and cinnamon. You can play with the flavours here. I added much more paprika than cinnamon to give it more of a smokey flavour. Bake for 15-20mins at 190C/gas mark 5 until they're cooked through and soft.

Whilst the potatoes cook, slice the mushrooms and stir-fry them gently with olive oil, salt, two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and the chopped jalapeño peppers. If you don't want any spice, then remove all the seeds from these. This should take about 7 minutes, at which point, add the spinach and allow it to wilt down for a couple of minutes. Finally, add the halved cherry tomatoes and sweet potatoes, mix together and serve!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can easily increase the volume of ingredients to cater for more people. You can play around with the level of spices to your own taste and you can easily add other flavours. This would be a great addition to any BBQ (although that might be a bit ambitious for April) but can also be made as a main meal, or as an accompaniment to something else. It's so easy and healthy so you've got not excuse not to try it.