Nakd Fruit & Nut Bits

Recently we have had a few guest posts, including a couple from our friend and colleague Alyson Shipp, who also got her Dad, Tony involved….

As a keen walker, cyclist, runner and general lover of ‘the great outdoors’ I am always looking for a variety of healthy snacks to help me refuel when on the move. The general criteria I look for being something tasty, nutritious, healthy, plus easy to chew & digest. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when handed three packs of Nakd Fruit & Nut Bits to sample.

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Nakd is a new brand to me and one I have not come across in the usual outlets – supermarkets, health food stores and outdoor shops etc. Manufactured in Great Britain by Natural Balance Foods, a relatively young company producing a variety of wholefoods which include the Nakd brand snacks and Trek protein bars plus several flapjack products.

 So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Is the product any good and would I buy it? Well more of that later. I was lucky enough to be handed three different varieties of Nakd Fruit & Nut Bits, namely Cocoa Orange, Berry delight and Cocoa Delight. The cellophane pack is quite attractive with plenty of information regarding the product and comes in a handy size at 130g weight. Information described on the front of the pack states ‘1 of 5 a day, no added Sugar, wheat, dairy & gluten free’ and ‘Simply Yummy’. Images on back of the pack suggest the bits can be nibbled, shared or sprinkled onto cereals.

On ripping open the first pack, Cocoa Orange, the pleasant aroma immediately wafted upwards, reminding me of the smells from the old Terry’s chocolate factory at York. The bits are quite chunky being about 20mm square and have a soft and chewy texture. The cocoa is very evident but not too overpowering and the orange flavour still comes through. Upon checking the ingredients list, which is surprisingly short, they are:

Dates 40%

Cashews 40%

Raisins 14%

Cocoa 5%

Rice flour and a hint of orange flavouring.

No glutamates or ‘E’ numbers to worry about then!    

Next I tried the Cocoa Delight variety, containing a higher percent of dates and cocoa, but less of the cashew nuts. This was quite pleasant but maybe a little bland compared to the other two flavours.

Finally it was the turn of Berry Delight, this being my favourite of the three varieties. Whilst only having a 3% content of raspberries, the taste and natural sweetness of the fruit made this a very pleasant chew. I can well imagine a few of these chunks thrown into a bowl of morning porridge would make for a pleasant and healthy breakfast, with a different slant to the usual addition of golden syrup.

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Overall I consider these Nakd Fruit & Nut Bits to be of very high quality, made with natural ingredients. The energy content makes them very suitable for a between meals boost when working hard or during extended periods of exercise. The cocoa content is very evident in the taste so if you are not a chocolate fan then perhaps you should look for an alternative. The manufacturers’ web page http://www.naturalbalancefoods.co.uk/ contains plenty of useful information about its products which also include several other types of energy / protein bars, flapjacks and packs of fruit etc. All the products are said to be available in the leading supermarkets and health food shops or can be ordered online in packs from the manufacturer.  The Nakd Fruit & Nut Bits (also available as bars) are supplied at a cost of £18.95 for a box of 8 bags including postage. This makes the product a little pricey in my book @ £2.37 per bag, however if you can find them in the local supermarket I am sure they would be a little cheaper.

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So there you have it, a ‘Simply Yummy’ addition to the many health products out there on the supermarket shelves, but one I will certainly be buying, for throwing into my rucksack for the weekend jaunt.

Tony

Brazilian Blow Dry

Like many people these days living a hectic lifestyle, I don’t really like to spend a lot of time on my hair, unless I am preparing for a night around the town. I would much prefer to grab an extra half an hour in bed before work then sit styling my hair, and when I visit the gym on an evening I am forever having to wash then restyle it again. This just gets too annoying especially when I’d rather be doing other things. My hair can only be described as a thick, uncontrollable, frizzy mess and I have many memories from school of being called Krusty The Clown from The Simpsons, Arnold from Hey Arnold or Linda from Gimme, Gimme, Gimme because of the way my hair looked. Often when I wash and leave it to dry the resulting style can only be described as a “triangle head”. After discussing the state of my hair with my hairdresser (Echo Unisex Hair Studio in Goole;  www.facebook.com/echo.unisexhairstudio) and explaining how hard it is to style and how time consuming, they recommended I give the ‘Brazilian Blow Dry’ a try.

Before the treatment:

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They explained the process to me and after seeing pictures showing other client’s results, I decided ‘why not’. Having tried many other products before claiming ‘smoother, sleeker hair’ and not having much success, there was nothing to loose. The process used on me was called ‘Lisse Design Kertain Therapy’ which is a straightening treatment, claimed to last up to three months, depending on your hair type and how often you wash your hair. This version was formaldehyde free which can be seen as a less harmful chemical than that used in some other Brazilian treatments. It is said to give smooth, velvety, glossy, tangle free hair and help to eliminate the frizz, which to me sounds like a dream come true (if it works). I admit I was quite dubious as other products which claim to do similar have never worked before. 

Now for the science:

Keratin combined with the properties of oils:

• Kera-Collagen Complex

Complex containing Hydrolysed Keratin and Quaternised Collagen. The complex that guarantees long-lasting smoothness. With the aid of heat, it reshapes the arrangement of the hair’s keratin chains, straightening them to give the characteristic smooth result. 

• Babassu oil

A precious oil with extraordinary emollient properties from the Amazon leaves hair soft, silky and shiny”

After:

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When I arrived at the salon they first washed my hair with a clarifying shampoo and conditioner, then blow-dried it until dry. The hair was sectioned off and the Keratin treatment was applied through the hair from root to tip; this was then left on the hair for ten minutes and combed through about half way through the time. A ceramic straightening iron is then pulled through the hair and each section is ironed up to seven times, until the steam dissipates as the treatment is sealed into the hair. This is then washed off and a conditioning mask is used and left on for five minutes. The treatment now completed, the hair can be styled as normal, taking a total of nearly 3 hours for the whole process. Immediately I noticed how the thickness of my hair had been reduced and I was left with hair that appeared naturally healthy and straight with no flyaway whatsoever, AMAZING!! The same night I went out on the town and was thrilled to have so many compliments about the condition of my hair. As the night wore on, even after some energetic dancing, it did not frizz up one little bit. I was dreading washing my hair the next day as I was half expecting it to return to its normal state. The manufacturer advises the use of shampoo’s and products that are sodium chloride (salt) free, as this can strip the Keratin from the hair thus reducing the longevity of the treatment.

After washing:

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As you can see from the picture the promise of “cutting styling time down by up to 75%”, was definitely true. I simply now just have to run the straightening irons over my hair just a few times, or just blow-dry to get that straighter look, whereas before it would take at least 40 minutes. This means I am now using less heat on my hair and causing much less damage in the long run.  I am so pleased with the results and would definitely recommend the ‘Brazilian Blow Dry’ to anyone thinking of having the process done.

Love a happy – headed

Alyson x

Spring Has Sprung…(Apparently)

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This year seems to be zooming past! We hope you all had a good Easter and the Easter bunny was kind to you! We have been missing in action for the past couple of months and we appreciate your patience with us. A lot has happened….I (Kathryn) was in Florida on holiday for 11 days, I then lost my job at the Press Association and so was spending my time looking for a new job, I was lucky enough to get one at a company called Croda and so I have been busy starting here and getting back in to a routine, I also now have a boyfriend and he lives 90 miles away from me and so my weekends are often spent visiting him. Emily has been practising like mad for her driving test as well as having a very busy workload and catching up with her friends and family, taking part in a journalism course but we are now back, and once we have sorted through things we will be adding items again much more regularly than that of recent months. We have plenty of new and exciting products for you to read about so keep your eyes peeled.

Lots of Love

Kathryn & Emily xxx

Clarins – Spring 2014

Here at The Kats Paws we love make-up, we are forever buying new lipsticks and the latest blushers, and we love experimenting with luxury cosmetics. We were recently sent some gorgeous new products from the Clarins Spring Opalescence Range, and I loved it that much that I used my Debenhams Beauty Card points towards purchasing a couple of extra bits as well as a Face Mask.

Clarins HydraQuench Cream Mask

This rich mask provides an intensive hydration to the driest of skins, which is perfect this time of year, when this is just what is needed. After cleansing the skin, smooth this mask over the face and decollate and sit back and relax for 5-10 minutes, as you may know from previous posts, I prefer to do this in a bubble bath, with my latest favourite Yankee Candle – heaven! This creamy, non-drying mask helps restore the skin’s ideal moisture balance and promotes a fresher, more radiant appearance and a wonderful feeling of comfort. The mask contains katafray bark extract and hyaluronic acid help to promote an optimal moisture balance. Fine lines caused by dehydration (keep drinking plenty of water girls, to keep your skin dehydrated) are smoothed, the skin feels soft and fresh. 

The creamy texture feels comforting on the skin and I liked that it felt cooling and soothing upon application. As a rich cream, the texture may not appeal to those with oily skin, although it certainly doesn’t feel heavy. The mask has a delicate floral fragrance which I found pleasant. It’s not a mask which dries on the face so there’s no uncomfortable, tight feeling whilst you wait for it to work its magic. At £32 for 75ml, it’s not cheap but a little goes a long way and I feel that this is a quality product which is worth the money. It feels pampering and indulgent to use, whilst also delivering results. I found this to be a lifesaver in restoring my skin whilst I have been full of cold, especially the dry, sore skin around my red nose!

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Opalescence Face & Blush Powder

As I am due to go on holiday soon, I wanted to purchase a powder foundation rather than a liquid foundation which may slide down my face in the hot sunshine. This also doubles up as a blusher and so once I have a bit of a tan, this will be perfect just to highlight my cheeks. This powder is so pretty, it is in an opalescent gold case, and then powder itself is like a little piece of art, with gold speckles. 

This powder is limited edition and so I wanted to snap it up now rather than waiting to get to duty free and being disappointed. It has an ultra smooth texture which delivers a warm and luminous colour to all skin tones and promotes a matte, even complexion with an instant natural looking glow, which again is perfect for the coming warmer, sunnier (hopefully) months. You can get this from department stores such as Debenhams for £30.

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Instant Light Radiance Boosting Complexion Base in Shade 02 (Peach)

I recently ran out of the Lancome Foundation that I have been using, and as I am hoping to have a little colour on my cheeks soon, I wanted to go for a new foundation in a darker shade. This face base is designed to be a radiance booster and BB equivalent in one. You can use it alone or in conjunction with your foundation and concealer to boost radiance, keep your skin hydrated all day long, protect against pollution and will also balance your skin tone. I really like using this foundation as it feels really light and refreshing on my skin, and not too heavy. The shade is perfect too, as although it is the medium shade, it doesn’t have an orange tone to it and the BB cream side to it covers my red areas on my cheeks perfectly. It costs £26 and you can also get it in the lighter shade Rose (01) and Champagne (03).

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Intense Shine Lip Gloss in Shade 12 (Crystal)

I love trying out different colours of lipsticks and lipglosses, but in the office, it is very casual, and a lot of girls don’t wear make-up and so I tend not to wear lipsticks or glosses as I feel a little overdone sat there. But this new Clarins lip gloss is clear and so is perfect for adding a little plumpness to my lips without me feeling over the top. It has an ultra smooth, gel base texture that doesn’t have that horrid sticky feel to it, and really does make the lips look fuller without the bee-sting look. This gloss can be worn on it’s own for a natural look or over your favourite lipstick to give it a shiny glossy finish. This lipgloss is also available in many other colours, including lilacs, mauves, reds, browns and pinks at £15.50-17.

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Perfect Shine Sheer Lipstick in Shade 19 (Tropical Pink) 

The texture of this lipstick is gorgeous. It feels really moisturising and super soft and it leaves a stunning glossy shine that really makes the lips look lovely and plump. There’s a very soft sparkle running through the luminous pop of colour. These are meant to have a shiny, transparent finish, and a hydrating formula. The finish is translucent, but there is still enough pigment to markedly alter the colour of my lips. The bullet is a weighty silver metal with an oval shape and like most Clarins lipsticks, it smells sweetly fruity. The Perfect Shine Lipstick comes in many other pretty shades which will suit all skin tones and colours and is available for £17-18.

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Multi-Blush in Shade 01 (Peach)

The Multi-Blush Cream Brush is a cream-to-powder formula that contains a mix of Rose, Mimosa and Sunflower waxes to keep skin hydrated, and a Light Optimising Complex to boost radiance. The finish is very natural and blends wonderfully into the skin, leaving behind no edges or horrid textures. I found that it dries quite quickly, so while most cream blushes do very well when applied with fingers, this one definitely benefits from application and blending with a small, dense brush like the Real Techniques Contour Brush. It has an airy quality that makes it easy to sheer out for a delicate flush, but it can also be built up. I felt it lasted about 5-6 hours before I noticed any fading, but is pretty and petite enough to carry in your handbag for touch-ups. This blush can also be used on your lips and comes in three other shades, 02 Candy, 03 Grenadine and 04 Rosewood and costs just £18.

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Candy Hero

Along with my love for America, comes American food – snacks, candy, chocolate, the lot! The only problem is, buying it over here can be very expensive, even if you order through an English site. For years I have always bought the odd few bits and bats when money allows, and I really love getting the parcel and trying new items or items I fell in love with when I was holidaying over there. Just after Christmas, my Dad and I went for a day in York, did a bit of sale shopping, had lunch at my favourite place Jamie Oiver’s Italian and then stumbled across Candy Hero. It was so bright and colourful I walked straight in, not knowing what I was walking into. Shelves upon shelves of American food were presented before me, Twinkies, Fruit Loops, Jolly Ranchers, Airheads, Hershey bars, Swedish Fish and lots lots more. I was reaching out everywhere grabbing it all whilst shouting back to my Dad to please pass me a basket. I came away with a variety of treats that barely lasted my two days Oink Oink. Therefore I thought I would see if they had an online store – BINGO – they did! I was able to browse the whole range whilst sitting in the comfort of my own home and Minnie Mouse pyjamas – perfect!

Recently, Candy Hero sent us a selection of treats, not just from America, but from other countries too. Here’s what we thought of them…

Arnott’s Tim Tam

These beauties hail from Australia, and are chocolate covered biscuits, with a chocolate fondant middle, very much like our Penguin biscuits over here. I had never tried these before, and even though they were enjoyable, to me it was just like eating Penguins, which I can get at a quarter of the price. You get about 8-10 biscuits in the pack and per pack it costs £4.50, they also come in Double Dipped and Caramel. It was nice to try something from Oz but I’m not sure I would purchase these again.

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Hostess Twinkie

Twinkie’s are one of America’s most long-standing traditions and have been around FOREVER. They recently decided to stop producing Twinkies, but there was such an uproar that they immediately re-released them. I’ve been to America 12 times and for some unknown reason I have never actually eaten a Twinkie. So basically a Twinkie is a golden sponge cake plumped full with a creamy vanilla filling. It is something that sounds so plain and does honestly look rather plain but they taste absolutely delectable and the filling is beyond dreamy. I will definitely be munching my way through a box of these when I go over to Florida in March. You can buy these from Candy Hero at £1.20 each or you can get a box of 10 for £9.95.

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Grape Fanta

I’m not a huge fan of British Orange Fanta, but I absolute adore anything with a grape flavouring from America and so I was super excited to try this. With all American grape flavoured products, they do have a ‘fake’ kind of grape taste but it is honestly so good, and along with their watermelon flavoured items, grape is one of the best. This Grape Fanta did not disappoint. I literally drank the whole thing in about 15 minutes I simply could not put it down. A bit pricier than a can of Coca-Cola, but not my much these days, you can grab a can of Grape Fanta for £1.20.

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Hershey Cookies’n’Creme 

The first time I went to America, was in 1999 and I really wasn’t fussed about going. My Mum and Dad had booked us two weeks away in Florida and it turned out to be one of the best holidays of my life. We met a lovely family from Stevenage who we still keep in touch with now and unfortunately it turned out to be my Mum’s last big holiday as she died in 2001, but I am so glad we got the chance to go as she had such an amazing time there, as we all did. I fell in love with Florida. I loved the people, the never ending sky, the sunshine, the theme parks, the shopping, the restaurants. Everything seems so much bigger over there, I know a lot of people find Americans rude and brash, but I have rarely come across this. At 15, the age I was when we went there I was a super fussy eater (shame I’m not now as I might not have put so much weight on!), and trying new things was a big deal for me, we went to the little hotel shop one afternoon and Mum picked me out a Hershey Cookies’n’Creme bar. I put a little rectangle of it in my mouth and mmmmm it was scrumptious! I felt like Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! It was so creamy but with yummy like cookie pieces. This since has been one of my favourite pieces of American candy and is one my most repeated purchases, they even sell them in Topshop now! So yes I had this bar last night as I was feeling under the weather and a little bit fed up with daily life and this instantly cheered me up! Still as creamy and smooth as ever! You can purchase these bars for £1.20 or if you’re feeling extra daring (haha), be sure to try the Cookies’n’Cremes drops. I have had them before, and theyre shaped like minstrels but don’t have a crunchy shell, and are shiny yummy pebbles of gorgeousness and are £1.90 for a King Size bag!

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Hello March!

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Hi everyone,

We’re so sorry we’ve not posted anything for a few weeks but it’s been an extremely busy time for us with a lot going on!

It’s finally March, which means Spring! The sun is shining and it’s time to dig out the sunglasses in preparation for warmer weather! (Hopefully!)

We have some brilliant products to tell you about, which will be posted this week, including a bit about the Clarins Spring Collection, some snacks and sweets, some products we were sent for our Daisy’s (our cats!) and a brilliant back massager which we can highly recommend!

Kathryn is also going to Florida next weekend to celebrate her 30th Birthday, which I’m sure she’ll have lots to say about :)

Keep your eyes peeled!

Love, Emily and Kathryn xxx