Friday, 22 August 2014

Review: Gluten Free Vegan Tuck Box

Vegan & Gluten Free Tuck Box
Whilst most bloggers are all over those beauty subscription boxes, I’m more interested in the food ones. Yes, I’m a piggy pants but I can think of worse things. I volunteered to review a gluten free vegan snack box from Vegan Tuck Box.

Let me tell you how the service works. You can buy a single box or a monthly subscription. There are two boxes a mini (5-6 products £10) or standard (10-12 products £20) and the choice between Vegan or Gluten Free Vegan snacks. The price includes delivery, they ship anywhere in Europe and you can cancel at any time. The Vegan Tuck Box website also has a shop where you can buy individual snacks.

Gluten Free Vegan Tuck Box 2

My box (pictured above) included some interesting treats and only two products I was familiar with. I enjoyed most of the snacks especially the Roo Bar which I would buy again. For me, The Cookie Shots brownie biscuits were the one item I was most excited about. They had a great taste but a little drier than I would have liked. The only disappointment I encountered was the Wow Bab cereal bar. The packaging is in German and I can’t find the English translation. Most people would probably just tuck straight in but I spotted the word “orangen” and had to back off. It would be nice to understand the ingredients in this product as my German is a little rusty!

I think food subscription services are great for anyone who does not have access to a well stocked store or they would make a nice gift. The option to obtain gluten free vegan products is a great idea. 

Do you subscribe to Vegan Tuck Box? If you do not, would you consider signing up or buying a single box?

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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

My Story: Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)

In March I finally found a GP who listened to me and agreed I needed a referral to an Allergy Consultant. After a five month wait, I had my first appointment this week and I am now officially on a new journey to re-evaluate my allergies, roll on more appointments and testing. I should explain that my initial diagnosis occurred 28 years ago and my online friends in the allergy community have encouraged me to seek out answers to questions that have bugged me for many years.

This week I have under gone a skin prick test and the results confirmed I still have an allergy to grass pollen and I can also add birch pollen to my list. My initial reaction is pictured above. I forgot to take another photo so you will have to take my word for it when I say those lumps got worse as time went on. The urge to scratch was so intense I had to sit on my hand. Not only did I leave the hospital with a new allergy but I gained a diagnosis for Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). This is the point where you all stare blankly at the screen and mutter to yourself “WTF is OAS?”. Don’t worry I only know about OAS because someone had previously suggested to me I could have the condition. I am now armed with a hospital fact sheet and want to raise awareness. 

The interesting element to OAS is the link with hayfever. According to the information I received, people who have hayfever between *March to the end of July (that’s me!) are probably allergic to both grass and tree pollen (me again!) are more likely to develop OAS but also be allergic to a wider range of foods (hello light bulb moment!).

OAS symptoms are itching and swelling of the mouth, tongue and soft palate after eating raw fruit, vegetables and some nuts but the symptoms do not occur when the food is cooked. I have been avoiding strawberry and orange since childhood and for a considerable number of years I have been complaining of itchy throat and roof of mouth when eating melon, pineapple, kiwi and grapefruit. These fruits have long since been eliminated from my diet and I miss them. I have never been a fussy eater and love fruit and vegetables. When you are dairy and egg free as well, pudding options in restaurants are usually fruit salad, cue my immediate panic! 

Symptoms are caused by a reaction to plant proteins which are similar to pollen. These proteins are usually destroyed when heated so that explains why some people don’t experience symptoms when food is cooked and canned as opposed to raw. 

Which foods may cause OAS? - Apple, Walnut, Peach, peanuts, Pear, Wheat, Nectarine, Hazelnuts, Strawberries, Celery, Melons, Watermelon, Parsley, Tomato, Swiss Chard, Carrot, Cherries, Potato, Plum, Fennel, Honey, Spinach, Almonds, Brazil nuts, Apricots, Spices, Cucumber, Chamomile tea. 

I understand that diagnosis is problematic. The skin prick test for grass and tree pollens is useful but testing for the foods may not work because the allergens could be destroyed in the process of making the testing solution. Skin testing using raw foods may be useful. Unfortunately, there isn't a magic pill to cure OAS you simply have to avoid your trigger food(s) or ensure they are cooked before eating. 

If you are concerned about OAS seek professional medical advice. If your symptoms include wheezing, rash or abdominal pains that could indicate a more severe type of allergy so get yourself checked out.

So there you have it. A positive outcome of sorts but sadly I am not going to be adding any more fruits back into my diet. In case you were wondering, not every allergen can be tested in a skin prick test so I have to wait for blood test results. This is not the end to "My Story" as I await follow up appointments and referrals to other Hospital departments.

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*If you have hayfever February to May that usually means a tree pollen allergy and apparently you’re likely to only react to fruits and some nuts.

Disclaimer - The information provided is for guidance and is not a substitute for medical advice. My source of information: British Society for Allergy & Clinical Immunology. Further reading: Allergy UK - OAS

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Rose Tree Carrot & Mango Cleansing Balm

The Rose Tree Carrot & Mango Cleansing Balm

If you watched my July Favourites video you would have seen me mention *The Rose Tree Carrot & Mango Cleansing Balm. I know this brand from the Free From Skincare Awards and this year their Radiance Facial Essence with Rose & Marula was awarded silver in the oil & serum category.
The Rose Tree range is luxurious and organic, offering skincare, body care and candles free from synthetic ingredients. You all know that I love cleansing balm and I have thoroughly enjoyed putting this one to the test. The ingredients nourish and rejuvenate the skin with calendula, carrot, coconut, jojoba, lavender, mango butter, rosemary, shea butter, St John’s Wart and vitamin E (FYI not suitable for Vegans contains beeswax). 

The Rose Tree Carrot & Mango Cleansing Balm

This balm is soft, buttery and fragrant, a pleasure to massage into the skin. It removes my mineral foundation which is evident on my muslin cloth. I do not notice any residue after cleansing but since my skin is naturally on the very dry side, I think it likes having the extra moisture. What sets The Rose Tree Cleansing Balm apart from others I have tried? In terms of consistency and results on my skin its performance is identical to others. The difference boils down to the combination of ingredients, carrot seed oil definitely stands out to me.

I am happy to recommend this product to my readers. I also think The Rose Tree range would make a wonderful gift for anyone who adores skincare. Have you tried any products from this brand? If the answer is yes, what would you recommend?

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Sunday, 17 August 2014

A selection of Travel/Trial Sized Kits for Weekends Away

Weekends away and short breaks are the perfect excuse to indulge my passion for travel sized skincare. Does anyone else get excited about mini toothpaste or is that just me? When travelling through airports there are restrictions on liquids. Containers must hold no more than 100ml and should be in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which measures approximately 20cm x 20cm (click here for UK guidelines). The rules are different if your toiletries are packed into luggage which is checked into the aircraft hold. 

Yes, you can easily decant your favourite skincare into smaller bottles but lets face it we all like an excuse to do a little shopping and try something new. I am planning a short break in Spain and have been browsing for pre-packaged skincare kits. As I was noting down products to buy, I thought I may as well share with you what I had my eye on. I have pictured above the following kits - Balm Balm Mini Organic Facial Kit, Nourish Mini Kits, Spiezia Organic Facial Starter Kit, Pai Essential Travel Kit, Trilogy Rosehip Collection, Living Nature Skin Minis, John Masters Organics Travel Kit, Antipodes Moisture Boost Minis and Dr. Hauschka Face Care Kit.

I was asked on my YouTube channel where I buy my products. When possible I try to buy direct from brands but there are plenty of websites that specialised in natural and organic skincare. I usually start off with Love Lula, Big Green Smile, Only Naturals and Naturisimo. Lets not forget my advertisers Vanessa’s Choice, COS natural, Sophia’s Choice (links in side bar). If you browse the Gift, Travel or Sample sections of these sites you will find some of the products I selected for this post. Also, keep an eye out for sites that sell individual samples or freebies with orders because you can put together your own personalised kit. It is stating the obvious but shop around because prices vary across websites. 

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