Monthly Favourites- December

This is the last monthly favourites of 2020 and honestly, I think this one is my favourite. It features some great meat alternatives I've just discovered, as always something good for the shower and finally, a Christmas present that's taken over my life! 

ALT Beef and Chicken 

I’ve spoken about this brand in a couple of recipes but they couldn’t not come into my favourites this month, considering I've made 7 meals in 2 weeks with just their products! 
The ALT Beef is the closest thing to real beef that I’ve found, I've used it fried, stewed and cooked in the oven and each time it’s been delicious. Something I've been really impressed about is that it doesn’t break down in the slow cooker, a lot of fake meats just boil to nothing but this kept its shape! I’m gonna try and describe it as best I can but it might sound a bit gross (trust me, it isn’t). The beef is not like a joint of beef where it could be used in slices, it’s more like softer beef “skirt” which makes it perfect for stews, it also has that life-like chewiness of beef which means it stands up well in stews and pies because you still have that meat texture amongst the veg. 
I made this beef stew a few days ago and I hope you’ll agree that you probably wouldn’t realise this was vegan!

Now for the ALT Chicken, this is still delicious and has a genuine taste of chicken to it, I would say I prefer the beef as a meat substitute with flavour/texture but this chicken is good to add into stir fry’s and pies when you just need that extra bite. I would say this has a texture of chicken bites/ chicken chunks, I’m going to add it into a stew this week and if it’s anything like the beef it should hold up just fine but my favourite way to use it is in a stir fry where it just adds another delicious texture to the meal. 
I recently made a “chicken”, mushroom and kale pot pie to test it out using a real chicken recipe (but obviously not real chicken) and it came out amazing!

If you want to lessen the amount of meat that you eat but aren’t sure how to still eat “substantial” meals then I reckon ALT is a good place to start, the packs of beef and chicken are the same price at Tesco; they’re £3.50 for 400g, and let’s be real a 400g pack makes 2 meals for me (probably more if you have portion control…unlike me), so £3.50 for 2-3 meals worth of meat is probably about the same price (or cheaper) than real meat anyway. Even if you aren’t looking to fully go veggie or vegan and just fancy a change throughout the week, definitely chuck these in a stew or a stir fry and I think you’ll be as hooked as I am! 

Dr Organic’s Organic Cocoa Butter Conditioner 

Ever thought of just rubbing a bar of chocolate on your hair in the shower? Me neither but this conditioner smells like you’re washing in a fresh bar of the finest chocolate! 
I got this at TK MAXX for £3.99 but I’d happily pay full price from Dr Organic’s website. it has made my hair feel a lot softer and shinier especially on the tips which is a hard place to get nourishment! The conditioner is made from aloe vera, coconut oil and natural fruit extracts so I'm sure you can already smell it from there! The conditioner is vegetarian and cruelty-free, as well as being free from parabens and a lot of other nasty chemicals. 
As I say, I paid £3.99 at TK MAXX for this (£6.99 on the Dr Organic website) and it lasted me about 5 weeks, although this might not be as long as some of the conditioners I've had, I think for a 265 ml bottle it’s lasted a long time. 
If you want to treat yourself to something both luxurious and nourishing then I would recommend Dr Organic for pretty much everything to do with body/face/ hair care.

Picture from Dr Organic Website

Nintendo Switch & Animal Crossing: New Horizons 

If you’ve spoken to me in the last 9 months (especially in December) you’ll know how much I've been wanting a Nintendo Switch with Animal Crossing, well, I finally bugged my mum enough for her to agree to get me one as a Christmas present and then we went halves on another Switch for my dad too, as I obviously live away from my mum and dad it’s really nice to have this extra way of spending time with them. 
We bought both of the Switches second-hand from CEX, mine was just under £200 and my dads' was around £175 so although they aren’t the cheapest, they’re certainly much more affordable second-hand than a lot of newer games consoles at the moment *cough* PS5 *cough*. If you don’t know what a Nintendo Switch is, it’s basically a hand-held games console that you’re also able to dock into a TV/monitor to play on a bigger screen, I love the portability of it and can’t wait to while away the hours on a plane with it when we can travel again! We also bought the £30 annual family subscription of Nintendo Online which allows myself and up to 7 other people to have a family account and play games online together, you also get exclusive games/deals as well as access to a free app to voice chat anyone else on your family account AND they re-worked the old 8-bit games to work on the Switch, so with Nintendo Online you get those for free too! We bought Mario Kart 8 for my dad so that we could have races together in the evenings and so far we’ve done that every single day! I think the Switch has made such a huge difference for us to be able to spend just an hour each evening playing a game together even though we live almost 3 hours apart. 

Obviously, the game of 2020 has been Animal Crossing: New Horizons, this is the perfect game to play when you’re confined to your house for months on end, I’m a bit sad I didn't have the game during lockdown but I’m fortunate enough to have the Christmas and new year period off work so I’ve still had plenty of time to binge it! If you haven’t heard of Animal Crossing (then maybe you’ve been deliberately avoiding it?) you play as this little person who helps to create a community from scratch on a deserted island (don’t worry, it isn’t scary and nothing bad can happen to you…except maybe getting stung by wasps), you welcome adorable new residents to the island, catch bugs, fish and dive for sea creatures all the while creating new furniture and decorative items to go around your home and island. I have Animal Crossing: Wild World on the Nintendo DS from when I was a kid and let me tell you, New Horizons is a HUGE step up. Although both games follow the same premise, New Horizons allows so much more freedom and creativity, you also have the option of going to visit your real-life friends on their island or going to a “mystery island” where you can stock up on supplies or invite one of almost 400 islanders to come and live with you! 
I really hope I’ve done this game justice, it’s so much fun, so relaxing and chilled out and is just the perfect way to spend the day. The art style is adorable and every single villager that comes through your island has their own personality that makes it so exciting to find out who you’ll be best friends with!  
One last cool feature is that the game runs on real-time in the hemisphere that you live in, this means not only does the date and time match up to real life but the seasons do too! This is important in gameplay as you catch different bugs and fish during different seasons and you get to take part in special seasonal challenges or celebrations! 
Animal Crossing has really helped to lower my stress levels (which have been sky high almost all of last year) and it’s just given me something else to focus on when everything gets a bit much. If you do have a Switch then I know you’re just gonna love this game and if you don’t but you’re able to get one then this might just give you the break from real life that we all deserve every once in a while. 

There was a lot of talking but I hope you liked it! I’ve had a lot of fun with all the things I've mentioned here and pretty much all of them I hope I’ll continue to use in 2021!
I hope you were able to stay resilient for most of last year but if you ever need a pick-me-up, pretty much all of the items on this list will do that for you! 
Let’s try and make the best of what 2021 can throw at us. 

Happy New Year, 

H x