Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Marks and Spencer Vegan Meal Deal - Cold Pressed Carrot and Turmeric Juice

As part of the recent vegan M&S meal deal I picked up, I went for this carrot and turmeric juice. As I've said, I hate standard meal deals where your choices are limited to basically fizzy drinks full of sugar, diet drinks full of artificial sweetener or boring old water so this is a much more exciting (and nourishing) option.

Cold pressed juices are very on trend at the moment. As they're not heat treated, they retain nutrients more and it's great to see a raw juice in a popular store like M&S. There is no fruit in this just 99% carrot and 1% turmeric so a great lower sugar juice option. The serving at a mere 150ml also means you're getting a good shot of the good stuff but without drinking much too juice. Although a vegetable, carrot juice is slightly sweeter and less earthy than a lot of vegetable juices so I found it very palatable to drink.

It's a lovely golden orange colour, bright and vivid suggesting it'll bring lots of goodness with it. Turmeric is another on trend health ingredient and something I often now add to smoothies and I enjoy a dairy free turmeric latte too. The turmeric here is done well for a mainstream product, it's not overly noticeable but adds a mild warmth to the carrot without making it too savoury or odd tasting.

The consistency is a little thin but then it is a juice not a smoothie and for a healthy choice ticks all the boxes as it's one of your five a day and you're getting a lot of vitamins and natural antioxidants in a nice convenient bottle for the on the go.

Bought at: Marks and Spencer
Nutrition per bottle: 53 calories

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Marks and Spencer Vegan Meal Deal - Nutty Cauliflower Trio Veggie Pot

So just before Christmas I actually decided to go vegetarian and considering I made it through the festive period with no turkey and found it relatively painless, I'm hoping it should be something I stick with. The great thing about January for someone who is into healthy eating, is there's loads of new healthy products and plant based products on the market - it's like a new Christmas for a health freak like me!

One of the really exciting things new to January is that M&S are now doing a vegan meal deal. They've introduced their first vegan sandwiches, there's vegan nourish bowls, coldpressed juices and lots of interesting new snack options, all for £4. One the new snack options in the deal is this nutty cauliflower trio veggie pot. I suppose it's a veggie version of those egg and spinach or crayfish pots you see in all the supermarkets.

It's fairly simple; plain cauliflower florets, spiced cauliflower and a lovely cashew and cauliflower dip along with some seeds and some salad and rocket leaves. It's only 162 calories and makes for a much more nutritious snack option than a bag of crisps. One of the things I hate about the likes of Tesco, Sainsburys and the likes is their meal deals consist of you basically having to have chocolate or crisps. It's great to see healthier and more interesting options out there.

So how does it taste - really nice and fresh! The cauliflower florets are the perfect texture, cooked but definitely al dente and firm but the star is the cashew and cauliflower dip which is like a cauliflower homous, very thick and creamy and adds a nice richness to the rest of the pot. I'd happily buy a pot of this by itself.

At £4 I think this is a reasonable price for the meal deal and I'm happier to pay a bit more for some delicious, vegan and healthier options.

Bought at: Marks and Spencer
Nutrition per pot: 162 calories

Monday, 9 January 2017

New Costa Coffee, Oat and Banana Smoothie

I've pretty much gone vegetarian nowadays and am always looking to go more plant based, eating very little dairy (bar the odd bit of cheese) and some free range eggs. Going dairy free at home is easy, almond milk completely replaces dairy milk for cereal and porridge and there's loads of other milks that work well in coffee - coconut and oat being favourites of mine.

Unfortunately when out and about, you're more restricted unless you have soy milk, which I'm not as keen on. Small independents often have coconut or almond milk lattes but the big chains like Costa are sorely lacking. However, maybe because it's January and people are looking for healthier options or because Costa are embracing dairy free but there is a new dairy free option using oat milk.

It's a nice clean simple mix of a shot of espresso, banana, oat milk , oats and honey - though I asked for mine without honey to make it vegan (and also reduce the sugar content). Although initially the staff seemed a bit confused on how to make it they got there in the end and I appreciated they took the time to make my order right despite asking for something new they probably hadn't made yet.

It's extra cold and iced which makes it really refreshing and the perfect consistency. It's thicker than a coffee but not smoothie thick which makes it relatively liquidy and refreshing. The oats are completely blitzed up so there's no rough or chunky bits and the flavour is spot on.

It's a fairly mild coffee hit with a bit of sweetness but you still get the natural roasted taste of the coffee. It's certainly a lot less sweet than a lot of the sugary rubbish Costa sell and I liked it for this. Definitely a drink I hope sticks around for longer than the new year.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Whitworths Full of Super Coconut Raw Bars

I've picked up some of the Whitworths Full of Super range before (the cayenne flaxseed crisps were very moreish) and so decided to give the coconut raw bars a go as well. I've become a lot more conscious about what I eat and am increasingly picking vegan options for snacking made with natural, wholesome ingredients as frankly there's just as much choice nowadays and without dairy it just has to be better for the planet.

This is a mix of:

Coconut flakes (25%), sunflower seeds (22%), agave nectar, almonds (10%), cashews (10%), buckwheat, golden flax seeds (3%), chia seeds (0.6%), vanilla, quinoa, acai.

So all things I recognise and feel good about putting in my body. The bar is gluten free with no soy and suitable for vegetarians but also has no dairy or eggs in the ingredients so also okay for vegans (although there is risk of contamination). Sugar as we all know is not good and impressively this bar has less than 10g sugars in total all from unrefined sugars.

It's quite high in calories (245) and fat but you would expect that from nuts, seeds and coconuts but it does also mean you get nearly 7g of natural plant based protein, a really good source of fibre (almost 6g!) and it contains 34% of your vitamin B12 of the day, which is something those avoiding animal products can struggle to get enough of in their diets.

What I like about these raw bars is that Whitworths make two smaller bars in each pack so you can eat them in two sittings if you like, which makes it last longer. They're fairly filling and after lunch, I find one bar is enough to curb a sweet craving.

These are much more solid than say a Nakd bar with a sturdier, thicker texture and feel more substantial. It's a little sweet with a really strong coconut flavour, which you would expect. It does taste quite raw and wholefoods-esque rather than the more mainstream options like Nakd but nutritionally this probably holds up better and contains less sugar. The coconut flavour is very full on and might not be to everyone's taste, especially if you're used to sweetened fake coconut in things like Bounty or sugary coconut yogurts but I really enjoyed it.

The only thing that stops this being a regular to my snack bar box is the price. £1.50 is a lot for one bar and even on £1 is still much more expensive than a lot of other options out there. For a big well known company like Whitworths I would expect these to be more accessible - there are loads of bars in Holland and Barrett cheaper than this. Nakd Bars are also much cheaper and offer multipacks too so this is kind of where it falls down. It's a very nice bar and nutritionally good but also rather pricey.

Price: £1.50 (bought on £1 promo at Tesco)
Bought at: Tesco
Per Bar: 245 calories, 16.4g fat, 6.4g sat fat, 9.9g sugars, 5.7g fibre, 6.9g protein

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Aldi Foodie Market Veggie Burst Review

It's January and we're all trying to eat healthier. Luckily I tend to be healthy most of the time so I don't really go overboard over Christmas. I'd rather eat in moderation 12 months of the year so I can still have treats in January rather than swing back and forth between dieting and splurging.

One nice thing about everyone else wanting to eat healthily in January though is it means all the shops have loads of tasty healthy snacks in, including Aldi. I spied their take on a Graze box at the tills for the ridiculously cheap price of I *think* 30 something pence. Considering a Graze punnet is over £1, this is really good value.

Like Graze, this is a mix of healthy ingredients (cashews, almonds and edamame beans but with a tasty twist with salt and black pepper cashews and spicy paprika almonds. It's pure, natural ingredients and a really good source of protein with between 5 and 6g per pouch.  It tastes really nice with a good spicy flavour, a good combination of textures and flavours and the portion size is spot on  - filling and satisfying but also energising with a wholesome feel.

The pouch format isn't as nice as Graze's little punnets but at this price , who would complain?!

Bought at: Aldi
Score: 8/10

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Marks and Spencer Mini Stollen Bites

It's that weird period between Christmas and New Year where we all lose track of time, what day it is and start to get cabin fever. Desperate to get out the house, I've been to the gym today and been on two seperate walks as well despite how cold it is where I am. Braving the bitter cold and bracing winds is all worth it though when you get back into the warm with a nice cup of Aldi Mulled Wine teabags and one of these little beauties from M&S.

Now I used to love stollen probably about 7 or 8 years ago back when it was new to the UK and found in Aldi or Lidl. However, since then I decided actually it's really rather bland - or at least the Aldi/ Lidl ones I used to get - just dry, flaovurless bread with the only good bit that smidge of marzipan in the middle. However I was buying some party food from M&S in their 4 for 3 deal for some picky bits between Christmas New Year and got these for something sweet.

Although pricey at £4 for 9 mini bites, this is very much quality over quantity when you compare it against the big breeze blocks of dry stollen. These are amazing. So soft, so moist - all squidgey with not a hint of dryness. They're bursting with currants and sultanas and there's a huge chunk of marzipan in each one - beautifully soft and moist with a rich and creamy almond flavour.

The sultanas are also rum soaked and this is what maybe makes these so delicious. It's not overwhelming but you can taste a rich, booziness and with the soft, melt in the mouth texture and sweet juiciness, the flavours and textures all marry together for the perfect bitesize treat.

They never get overly sweet - I find two is just enough to satisfy a sweet craving and they taste festive but light too. An absolute winner here and my love of Stollen has been rekindled.

Price: £4.00
Bought at: M&S

Score: 10/10

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Aldi Mulled Wine Teabags

From Christmas coffee yesterday to Christmas tea today. I have been searching desperately for these mulled wine teabags from Aldi ever since I first saw posted on social media. I've made a number of trips to Aldi, desperately looking for them but returned each time empty handed. However, my local store finally got them 5 days before Christmas - a mini Christmas miracle.

I love mulled wine but I love all Christmas food and it's to do with all the spices - nutmug, cloves, cinnamon, ginger...stollen, mince pies, spiced red cabbage, Christmas pudding - I find you either love all Christmas food like this or you hate it all. Well I'm definitely in the former camp.

Priced at £1.89 these are reasonable for 15 pyramid 'luxury' tea bags and part of Aldi's Specially Selected range. The packaging is maybe a little cheap versus genuine high end teabags and the bags themselves are a little flimsy but hopefully the taste would be great. Fruit teas can be disappointing at the best of the times - promising the taste of cherry bakewell or whatever and then tasting like a weak, insipid water with a hint of fruitiness.

Now these certainly smelt amazing when I added hot water. Genuinely with my nose over the mug, it was genuinely mulled wine. The bag said brew for 3-4 minutes but I left the bag in for longer and left it in whilst I was drinking. Initially I thought it was a little watery tasting and not delivering on the mulled wine front and was particularly lacking the mouthfeel of mulled wine - which you have to expect as it's a tea.

However, the longer I left the bag in, the more the flavours came out. Syrupy, slightly sweet with warming spices and a genuine red wine fruitiness, it really did taste like mulled wine. Aldi, you have surpassed yourself here, this is the perfect drink for a cold evening after a day out Christmas shopping. Just add a mini mince pie and this is the taste of Christmas without the alcohol

Price: £1.89
Bought at: Aldi

Score: 8/10