Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: Cacao And Coconut Sugar Brownies

I don't know anyone who doesn't like a chocolate brownie. 

And rightly so. If I'm craving a decadent, gooey, chocolatey treat, a brownie hits the spot every time. Whatever the occasion, a brownie always rises up to it. Satisfaction guaranteed. The perfect pick-me-up. Well - almost perfect.

I'm not going to beat around the bush here; brownies are hardly recognised for their nutritional value. Sure, they may provide us with a few moments of pure unadulterated pleasure but they're not great for our guts. So, today I thought I'd spend the day making healthy brownies. Healthy body, healthy mind and all that.

And it turns out, brownies don't have to be bad for you. There are so many recipe variations out there that are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free or made with beetroot or sweet potato or ground nuts... That's one of the things that I love about them; there are a million different ways to make a brownie and they all taste as fabulous as the next.

Today's brownie is supercharged and packed full of goodness. I've substituted a few key (nutritionally undervalued) ingredients with replacements from Indigo Herbs so they're wholesome and even a little bit good for you. Instead of cocoa, these brownies contain raw cacao powder, which is exceptionally high in essential minerals including iron, phosphorus and potassium. They're also made with organic coconut sugar, a low GI alternative to refined sugar which is better for maintaining blood sugar levels.

As well as a whole load of goodness, my brownie recipe is jam-packed full of texture: raisins, nuts, dark chocolate chunks and chia seeds to make every bite that bit more interesting. I'm sure you'll love them as much as I do - and your body will thank you for choosing a healthier alternative.

Happy baking!

100g of wholemeal flour
100g of coconut sugar
1 banana (mashed)
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g of dark chocolate (70%+)
6 tablespoons of maple syrup 
6 tablespoons of cacao powder
3 tablespoons of coconut oil
4 tablespoons of chia seeds
45g of raisins
50g of pecans
Sprinkle of sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius / gas mark 3. Line a 20cm tin with baking paper and let the sides overhang.
2. Finely chop the dark chocolate and pecans and set aside.
3. Soak the chia seeds in 10 tablespoons of water and set aside.
3. Melt the coconut oil and remove from the heat.
4. Add the coconut sugar, cacao powder, mashed banana and salt to the oil and beat.
5. Leave to cool slightly then beat in the egg and stir in the flour, baking powder, maple syrup and raisins.
6. Pour the batter into the tin and spread evenly, then sprinkle dark chocolate on top.
7. Bake for 30 minutes until firm then cut into squares.

How do you like your brownie?

Me, Myself and I: Sinensis Chinese Herbal Facial

I've never been 100% happy with my naked skin. 

My complexion is overly pink and slightly oily, often blotchy, sometimes blemished with a few enlarged pores and - even at 25 - I still get spots. As much as I try to protect my face from Life, it's not always possible and bearing the brunt of the environment every day, I can understand why my skin sometimes needs a little extra TLC.

There are so many internal and external factors that affect our skin's condition: sunshine, wind, diet, cosmetics, hormones, temperature, air pollution, materials, alcohol, stress and stubble (kiss rash is a real thing, you know). There's not one day that goes by where our faces are not put under some sort of pressure. 365 days a year; that's a whole lot of pressure. 

So once in a while, it can only be beneficial that we seek professional help to keep our skin in check.

I've had a fair few facials in my life but I've never made the commitment to have them regularly. Although they've been pleasant experiences, the general feeling I get after a facial is that it's temporary. My skin feels super soft and hydrated immediately after but I've never noticed any long-term benefits. Having switched many of my cosmetics to natural products in the past few years, I found myself thinking about herbal facials - and that's when I discovered AcuMedic. 

AcuMedic, a leading Chinese medicine clinic based in Camden, recently launched a range of skincare treatments based around their own skincare brand, Sinensis. Sinensis products are cruelty free and packed full of pure, precious Chinese herbal extracts to purify and rejuvenate the skin.

Last week, after a long day of work, I made the trek from East London to Camden - in torrential rain may I add -  to visit AcuMedic for a 60 minute Sinensis Chinese Herbal Facial. The circumstances couldn't have been any more miserable yet, as soon as I entered the AcuMedic reception area, I felt instantly calmed.

I made myself comfortable at a table next to some very large windows and within minutes, I was introduced to my cosmetologist Justyna, who talked me through the Chinese Herbal Facial treatment and assessed my skin's condition. After getting to know my skin a little bit better, Justyna selected the products for the treatment that would be most beneficial for my skin type. 

Before undergoing any treatment with Sinensis products, a skin test is carried out to avoid any allergic reactions to the products. As the products contain a high level of natural herb extracts, the possibility of a reaction is slightly higher for initial treatments as many of us are used to using synthetic products and not accustomed to the botanics.

After Justyna was happy that I was not going to react to the products, I was shown to the treatment room. With idyllic sounds beginning to lull me into a relaxed state, Justyna began a light cleansing treatment, using Chinese herbal skincare, to gently prepare my face for my bespoke herbal mask.

Justyna then performed a deeper cleanse using special massage movements and followed with a Chinese facial scrub to draw out any impurities from my pores. After cleansing, the personalised herbal mask was applied and I was left to relax. The mask was removed and Justyna applied a second mask made of natural ingredients to deliver additional moisturisation. Following the masks came an acupressure massage on key areas of my face to stimulate circulation and relieve tension. 

I am a sucker for a good massage anyway but the facial acupressure massage was heavenly! I've never thought about how much stress accumulates in my face but it makes sense: I spend most of my days in front of screens, straining my eyes and screwing up my face but after the massage, I felt like a new woman. The facial ended with a cool Jade Roller, which has been used by the Chinese for centuries to close the pores, tighten the skin and relieve stress from the forehead. 

My immediate feeling after the facial was that my skin felt impeccably clear. I don't know about you but I love the clean-feeling brought about by taking my makeup off at the end of the day. But the clean-feeling I had after the Sinensis Chinese Herbal Facial was another level of clean. Squeaky clean, in fact and that can only be down to the specially formulated botanical products.

I was rather impressed by how deep they penetrated my skin in such a short period of time. 
Please ignore my big. pink face but as you can see from my post-facial selfie, my skin looks youthful, rejuvenated and radiant. Never before has my face felt this relaxed and that is all thanks to Justyna and her wonderful treatment. 

With my head - and my face - in the clouds, I gathered my belongings and just as I was about to leave, I was handed a cup of Amber Mountain tea from AcuMedic's adjacent tea shop China Life, for my journey home. Amber Mountain tea is a rare yellow tea known for lowering stress levels, slowing down the ageing process and boosting the immune system, so drinking this tea after the Sinensis Chinese Herbal Facial, I felt so relaxed that I almost didn't want to walk back to the tube. 

Being a green tea girl by nature, I absolutely loved it and will definitely be making another trip to China Life soon to taste more of their herbal teas. 

Have you ever had a Chinese herbal facial?

To Infinity And Beyond: A Little Surprise From

Infinity is one of those words that we won't ever truly understand. 

We know its meaning, 'to be limitless or endless in space, extent or size' - but how can this definition translate in a world where everything is calculated around us? We live our lives surrounded by metrics, reaching defined endings and creating new beginnings. Forever just a word on our lips.

From birth, Life already has a plan, giving us 2 parents, 2.4 children, 1 house, 2 cars, 1.6 dogs, 2.1 cats, 14 years of schooling, 1 year travelling the world, 3 years at University, 4.7 partners before The One, 14.5 months of engagement, 11.3 years of happy marriage, 33% chance of divorce, 10 jobs, 18 years of retirement....
And approximately 81.5 years to make our mark.

So let's consider the age-old question, the question used to define who we are and what we're to become: What do you want to be when you grow up? Honestly, I could never decide. My answer changed, and still changes, dependent on my mood or passion or level of curiosity.

When I was 5, I wanted to be a mermaid, a decision influenced entirely by my love for The Little Mermaid. When I realised it wasn't physically possible for me to grow a mermaid fin (and even if it were, that my life would be somewhat restricted as a mermaid), I considered becoming a vet. That is, until my cat got ran over one Christmas Eve and I crumbled at the sight of her pain (spoiler alert: she lived until she was 21).

Since then, I've considered the life of a Physiotherapist, a Nutritionist, a Performer, a Copywriter, a Speech and Language Therapist, a Journalist, a TV Researcher, a PR Manager, a Lingerie Designer and a Children's Writer to name a few. And as I approach the wrong side of 20, I still don't have a defined road for my 81.5 years and I don't think I want one. I love to learn and I love to love so I never want to feel confined to one decision, so I suppose that's my infinity.

When we can't understand a concept through its lyrical form, the meaning becomes transient. But a symbol can speak a different language, one that's simple and raw, yet represents all of its complexities. The infinity symbol is one single, never-ending loop; a sideways figure of eight which holds the most powerful meaning inside an elegant design.

When I came across the Rose Gold Dipped Sterling Silver Infinity Necklace on, I had to have it. Packaged in the cutest, paper packaging tied with a black and white string and a printed tag, I can honestly say I've never received such a pretty parcel. After admiring it for about a week, I delicately opened it, trying my best to preserve its beautiful wrapping.

Inside was the daintiest necklace in a soft shade of rose gold, carrying the infinity symbol at its heart. Delicate, effortless and powerful. A necklace that subtly commands attention without being obnoxious. A necklace that symbolises you have the world at your feet around your neck. A necklace that proves you don't have to be confined to a box and that whatever your interpretation of infinity may be, your life, your dreams and your love is limitless. 

What are your thoughts on infinity?

© Rosie Romance

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