Category Archives: Guest Post

Ash from Viva! and his Vegan Muffaletta

 Today I am delighted to share a guest post from Ash, who works for the animal charity Viva! I first came into contact with Ash after eyeing up his Muffaletta on Twitter! I was so wowed by it that I asked if he’d share the recipe, along with an insight into his work at Viva! Wait till you check out that sandwich. Lil’ L & M are going to be so impressed when I make it for them!
Over to Ash….

Hello Good Stuff readers, I’m Ash and I work for Viva! – one of the few animal charities out there who actually tell the ugly truth and are motivated exclusively by improving the quality of life of ALL animals. Have a look at our current campaigns.

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I am lucky that when I’m not doing techy stuff I get to be involved with other things like fundraising and foodie things. For instance some of us made a series of instructional food videos – showing people that vegan cooking is not rocket science. This is part of our initiative to extent the success of Veganuary, and give people a wealth of cooking tips and recipes for a whole month. It’s called the 30 Day Vegan.

30dayveganlogo

Another awesome thing I get to do is co-ordinate supporters’ fundraising challenges. This comes under the heading of Team-Viva!. This year we are building up the number of people taking part in running events – an activity dear to my heart after training my little legs off last year for the Bristol Half Marathon. It’s not just about running though, so if you want to partake in any sponsored activity (cake bake, sponsored silence, world’s largest vegan sausage, for example) please get in touch!

ash run 500

I became acquainted with BitOfTheGoodStuff through Twitter, after being complimented on a particular food post I uploaded one lunchtime. It was for a vegan muffaletta which (as well as having a funny name) is a deliciously impressive, and speedy dish to whip up.

Thank you so much Ash for guest posting today and sharing your awesome recipe

Viva! is an incredible charity and one that is very close to my heart. I’ve been a supporter for many years now and Lil’ L and I actually volunteered at the Incredible Veggie Roadshow when it came to Bath in 2010. We had such a blast handing out leaflets, chatting to people and encouraging people to check out the event. I promise you, no one could resist that Lil’ cutie 😉

Incredible Veggie Roadshow 2010 - 400

The next Incredible Veggie Roadshow is in Gloucester on Saturday 26 April 2014 so, if you’re within the vicinity, do check it out!

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Filed under Guest Post, Lunches & Light Dinners

Top Ten Tips to Declutter

Spring is here at last! And so comes the time for Spring cleaning and de-cluttering. It’s amazing how quickly we can fill our homes, regardless of how small or large they are!

Today, I am absolutely delighted to share a guest post from Catriona Archer  Based in Bath, Catriona offers hand-on practical and creative styling solutions to maximize a home or business space’s full potential. Here are some of her tried and tested de-cluttering tips to help us get going…

#1  Re-purpose / Up-cycle

Our possessions only become clutter when they no longer serve a purpose. This cushion cover was made using a dress that was no longer worn, after decluttering a client’s wardrobe, thereby re-purposing an item that held happy memories.

 

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[Source: catrionaarcher.com]

 

#2  Keep it together!

Always store like-with-like. It’s a sure-fire way of finding what you’re looking for quickly and avoiding buying items twice (because we forgot that we had it already!) It also makes clearing away so much easier.

 

#3  Get creative

Storage needn’t be expensive. A row of jam jars or adapted milk cartons can be just as satisfying to look at and use as something you can buy in the shops.

 

Pencil Storage
[Source: makezine.com/craft]


#4  Get personal!

Give each person in the household a storage basket or a personalised cloth-bag hung near the stairs: Any loose odds and ends belonging to that person can be deposited there. Make it a regular weekly habit for each person to clear it out and put it away!

 

#5  It’s behind you!

The backs of doors are a fantastic way of storing smaller items. When decluttering and styling peoples houses, I often use hanging shoe organisers on the inside of cupboard doors… Useful for small bathrooms, kitchen cleaning products, bedrooms… actually, ANYWHERE in the house can benefit from this! The beauty of it is that it is easily accessable, discreet and leaves surfaces clutter-free. Clear shoe pockets are also available, should you need to store smaller items.

 shoe organisers 400

[Source: catrionaarcher.com]


#6  Maximise your Storage

Does your open and closed storage maximize the space? By simply adjusting the height of our shelves to work exactly at the right height required for the items on them, allows for extra shelves to be added and even more surface-clutter to be removed!


#7  Think Vertically

It’s amazing how much wall space is underused. The trick is to use one wall as the focal point in the room and leave another full wall empty, to give the room breathing space. Here, a simple mesh grid from a building merchants holds everything from pictures to scissors, through paper clips and S-hooks.

 Vertical Storage 500

 [Source: www.stilinspiration.blogspot.se]


#8  Address your Wardrobe

There’s a saying… “We wear 20% of our wardrobes 80% of the time”. We all know that tastes change over time, as does our body shape! The only way of really tackling the wardrobe and drawers is by putting like-with-like together (all jeans, all t-shirts etc.) and get a realistic idea of what you actually have. Setting aside a short, pre-set amount of time with an alarm clock (and a trusted friend if required) is the best way to make a start… I find 1 hour does the trick for the initial session. Remember: You don’t have to do it all in one go!

 

#9  Bulldog clips and Velcro

Is there anything these two bad-boys can’t do? Here is an ingenious way of using bulldog clips to organise office wires. I have also used bulldog clips to hold vinyl record covers as art-work on a living room wall (see my website gallery). Velcro is a great way of keeping items/wires off the floor and maximizing storage space on the side/bottom of a piece of furniture. Most Hardware stores now sell velcro and hooks on a glue-free, removable backing.

 

bulldog clips 500[Source: catrionaarcher.com]

 

#10  Use it, Mend it or Lose it!

A final note… An item that served a purpose in the past becomes clutter when it no longer serves a purpose for your present and future. Mend, re-sell, organise a Swap Shop with friends, advertise it on Free-cycle.org or donate unwanted items to Charity. The satisfaction of a de-cluttered, well organised space is so rewarding and works on so many levels in improving our lives. But letting go of our attachment to certain items and allowing someone else to benefit from it is, I think, the best incentive of all.

Best wishes
 
Catriona x
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Thank you so much Catriona for sharing your tips   I’ll definitely be putting them to good use this weekend!

For full details of Catriona’s services, check out her website. You can also connect with her on Twitter @catrionaarcher.

Are you planning on a Spring clean?
Do you have any of your own ‘tried and tested’ tips?
If so, I’d love to hear them!

Have a great weekend everyone! xx

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Filed under Guest Post

Guest Post: How to Eat a Rainbow

Today, I’m handing over my little space in the blogosphere to Ellie and Sabrina Bedford who are going to tell us about a very special mission they’ve embarked on that involves children, rainbows, food and a touch of magic Before I give too much away, let me stop right there and pass you over to the girls.

We are so excited to be guest blogging for Sharon today!  We are Ellie and Sabrina Bedford, Sisters in Law who have a mission to get a magical healthy children’s recipe book out there! It’s called ‘How to Eat a Rainbow, Magical Raw Vegan recipes for Kids’ and we hope to be bringing to you soon!

Ellie and Sabrina Bedford

Ellie is a plant-based food blogger, food writer and whole food consultant and also mum to two little girls. Ellie noticed a huge gap in the market for a beautiful and healthy children’s cook book – all she could find for her girls were baking and cupcake books full of sugary cookies and cakes. Not wanting her daughters to miss out on the joy of owning their very own recipe book, as she had done as a child, she decided to create her own and sought the help of her artist sister-in-law to make it happen!

Sabrina is a visual artist and illustrator and has created this beautiful magical world for the books theme. The magical theme encourages children to eat just like a fairy would and so it is full of fresh and colourful fruits and veggies. Our book is fully illustrated in a picture book style to truly captivate the child and make healthy eating fun and appealing – they even get a fairy food certificate to complete in their name in the back!

How to Eat a Rainbow

We know how difficult it can be to encourage kids to eat their fruits and veggies and we’ve designed this book to help. How to Eat a Rainbow covers the more problematic areas in children’s diets such as snacks, treats, drinks and sides, so for this reason we’ve made them as virtuous as possible! All of the recipes are refined sugar free, vegan, gluten free and raw so they can be easily added into any child’s diet. We hope we can introduce more plant-based whole foods into the homes of families across the world, and show them how easy and tasty healthy food can be!

How to Eat a Rainbow

To make our book a reality we’re crowd funding on Indiegogo. We’re thrilled that we are now over three quarters of the way to our goal now, but we need all the support we can get to make out target by our closing date, 2nd March 2014!

If you’d like to support our project, please visit our campaign page and check out and share our campaign video, helping us to spread the word! On our page you can also pre-order your very own copy in print or as an ebook. As well as our book, we have lots of exciting incentives such as being illustrated on the cover of our book, having a fairy portrait made, signed original artwork and family raw food prep packages!

We really hope you love the concept of our book and thank you in advance for helping us make this happen, we couldn’t do it without you and appreciate all your support.

 

Thank you Ellie and Sabrina! Well, ‘How to Eat a Rainbow’ might be designed for kids, but I definitely want a copy! Those illustrations are truly sublime

If you’d like to connect with Ellie and Sabrina, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

UPDATE 24TH FEBRUARY 2014 – After a very successful weekend of fund raising, Ellie and Sabrina are now over 90% of their way towards achieving their goal, which is fantastic news! Today, they would like to share a sneak preview of How to Eat a Rainbow including a tasty recipe to try at home. Check it out and if you like it, please share it!

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Filed under Guest Post, Uncategorized

How to Take the Stress Out of Christmas Dinner

There are many constants that come with the Christmas season, most of which include the positive, holiday spirit-inducing traditions that we enjoy with our loved ones every year. But this season can also leave us feeling a little overwhelmed. In this post, Jemima gave us some great tips on how we can avoid stress in the lead up to Christmas.

In my experience, one of the biggest stresses this time of year is cooking the family’s Christmas dinner… especially if you’re in charge of making the entire meal!

Christmas dinner table

But fret not, because there are steps you can take ahead of time to make sure your dinner is a success and reduce any possible stress that comes with it. As outlined by the Stress Management Society, there are plenty of ways to create a relaxing environment in the home, especially during the holidays. Some of the more dinner-related suggestions are to make sure you plan ahead, and to create a calming atmosphere with laid-back music and relaxing aromas. This month, I’ve been listening to lots of London Grammar and James Blake, and making great use of my aromatherapy oil burners and scented candles. All of which have helped to keep me relaxed whilst I’ve been beavering away in the kitchen.

And when it comes to making a stress-free Christmas dinner, I personally suggest ditching the ‘typical’ Christmas dinner main course of oven-roasted turkey for something a little different. As I wrote recently, my mum introduced me to nut roasts when I was 12 years old—and I’ve enjoyed them as the centrepiece to my Christmas dinner ever since. My latest take on the recipe is to make it with a base of red lentils and cashews, which is then topped with a festive cranberry glaze.

Red Lentil and Cashew Nut Loaf with Cranberry Glaze

But the best thing about this dish, apart from the taste, is that you can make it up to three days ahead of time. You could even do it earlier than that and freeze it if you wanted, because it’ll keep for weeks that way. Preparing it in advance will also free up space in your oven because let’s face it, we’ve all struggled with trying to fit all the Christmas dinner components in there at once. But don’t let that lead you to believe that you need a bigger oven or that you need to spend more time swapping food in and out. As My Smart Buy points out, you can simply grab a new oven rack (or two) and you’ll be able to expedite your meal-preparation process.

With that in mind, all you’ll need to do on Christmas Day is get started on those veggies. You are obviously free to use whichever ones you like to accompany the nut roast, but my favourites are roasted potatoes, maple-glazed parsnips and carrots, and Brussels sprouts. This year, I might also try cooking some vegan Yorkshire puddings (from Viva!’s Mini Guide to a Veggie Christmas) and some herbed chestnut stuffing balls, so an additional oven rack will definitely come in useful!

In previous years, I’ve made the nut roast 1-2 days in advance, then on Christmas Day, I start preparing the veggies about 1.5 hours before I’m planning to serve the dinner.  Here’s how I usually prepare the roasted veggies…

While the veggies are roasting, I prepare the Brussel sprouts and gravy. I usually just boil the sprouts in a little salted water. Last year, I made the gravy from scratch but, this year, I’m going to use the Colman’s Instant Gravy Paste with Roasted Onion as it’s less hassle and has a great flavour!

When the roasted veggies are almost ready, I slice the nut roast and either heat it up in the microwave (covered with a plate to prevent it drying out), or pop it in the oven for a few minutes.

And that’s dinner sorted!

Now I just need to get on with the Christmas card writing, present wrapping, Christmas cake decorating and cracker making. With the assistance of one of Santa’s little helpers, I’m sure all tasks will be finished in good time and in good spirits 😉

What veggies are you planning to serve on Christmas Day? If you’ve got any lovely recipes, please do link up below xx

Disclaimer: This is a guest post that I wrote in collaboration with author, Dora Stevens.

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Filed under Dinners, Guest Post, Holidays

Three ways to stay stress-free this Christmas

Today, I am delighted to share with you a guest post from a special friend of mine, Jemima. She’s a yoga teacher and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner, who specialises in stress reduction. Like me, Jemima is also passionate about nutrition and meditation, recognising the positive effects they undoubtedly have on our physical and mental well-being.

In this post, Jemima is going to share some tips on how we can maintain a sense of calm in the busy weeks leading up to Christmas. You’ll also get to meet Jemima as she’s kindly made a short video tutorial for us on how to do a simple breathing meditation. It may be simple, but it’s extremely effective. If you haven’t tried meditating before, I hope you’re encouraged to give it a try!

With no further ado, let me pass you over to Jemima…

Boxing Day Shoppers

 

So, here we are…Christmas lights have been officially switched on in town, adverts are bombarding us at every opportunity and the great race to consume as much as possible before the 25th December has begun.  Many people would rather not be drawn into these manic and soul-less preparations but how do we resist?  How do we avoid the prickling panic sensation of not having bought enough for our families?  How do we banish the temptation to over-eat, over-drink and over-spend when that is the norm at this time of year for so many?

 

Whenever I face a tough question or emotion, I have found it useful to ask – what do you want instead?

 

What do you want instead?

It’s really easy to list all the things that we DON’T want and to become caught in a negative cycle of constantly trying to push things out of our way, creating more problems for ourselves as our brains don’t have the capacity to process a negative.  (Try this – don’t think of a red box, you can’t help it can you?)  So instead of thinking – “I don’t want to overspend this Christmas” or “I don’t want to put on weight this Christmas” – try stating what you DO want.

 

As if by magic your brain will then look for all the ways you can make those things possible, because the brain wants to find evidence to support what it believes to be true… So you could have “I’d like to give heartfelt gifts this year and stay within my planned budget” or “I’d like to eat food that nourishes and energizes me”.  You’ll be amazed at how many solutions seem to appear out of thin air.

 

Stay in the moment

There is a saying that goes “Anxiety is born of living in the future and depression is born of living in the past”.  While I think this is oversimplifying to some extent, I do believe very much in the benefits of tuning into the present moment.  An easy way to do this is to focus on the breath.  Take a quick look at the video below and I’ll show you exactly how to start right now…

 

 

Gratitude

This is one of my favourite ways to feel good when I am in need of a boost.  Take a pen and pad and find a comfy spot.  Make a list of everything in your life that you are grateful for.  No thing is to big or too small, get it all down.  From your house, food in the fridge to the smile your daughter gave you this morning, from indoor plumbing to the love you share with a special person.  Run with it, keep writing even if you get stuck.  This exercise can be very profound and may cause leakage from the eyeballs which is absolutely 100% OK.  After 5 minutes stop and read your list back to yourself.  Relish the feelings that come up, all the sensations, let the gratitude fill you up until it starts to overflow.  Tomorrow, make another list.

 

These 3 specific tips have helped me stay grounded and calm and you may find that they help you to tune into your true nature again and fill up on all the good stuff whenever you want (– not only at Christmas!) the stuff that we can never over-consume and that is truly nourishing, namely love, gratitude and peacefulness.

 

Wishing you all an amazing Christmas and with special thanks to Sharon for asking me to guest blog here.

Love

Jemima x

Jemima jpg

And thank you Jemima!

If you’d like to connect with Jemima, you’ll find her here: Sunshine Yoga Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube.

 

Do you find that your stress levels rise over the festive period? I know it’s the most testing time of the year for me. There always seems so much to do and the days fly past quicker than ever!

Do you have your own methods for avoiding stress at Christmas time? If so, please do share below.

Also, I’d love to hear whether you’ve tried meditation.

 

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Filed under Guest Post