Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Munch Vegan Falafel and Houmous Sandwich

I do try and eat more plant based / veggie options nowadays so whilst needing an on the go lunch at a train station the other day I picked up this vegan sandwich from WHSmith - a sweet potato falafel and houmous sandwich as part of a meal deal along with a Nakd bar and Smart Water.

To be honest it didn't look that exciting even from the pack but then none of the options in WHSmith looked inviting - very much prepackaged, generic, bland beige food. It is frustrating that some places haven't woken up to the fact that people want fresh, healthy options.

Unfortunately, this was an extremely bland, dry and boring sandwich as I feared. There wasn't enough filling to counteract the extremely dry, bland bread which was a real chore to eat. The falafel were brittle and too crumbly and again overly dry and the little blobs of homous didn't help make this any more moist.

There was barely any salad filling and it just felt a chore to eat - a huge wedge of dry, brown carohydrate. It's hard to get people to eat healthily if this is all you can offer them and it also was pretty salty to boot. Thank goodness I had a cherry bakewell Nakd bar afterwards for some taste and flavour.

Bought at: WHSmith
Nutrition per pack: 394 calories, 8.6g fat, 1.2 sat fat, 6.6g sugars, 1.5g salt

Score: 4/10

Monday, 17 October 2016

Marks and Spencer Red Velvet Cake

I must admit I still don't really fully understand red velvet cake's appeal or even what it is - am I wrong in just thinking it's basically a chocolate cake with some red dye and a cream cheese topping? Someone please enlighten me. But there were cakes in the office today and seeing as I got there too late for any carrot cake, which would have been my preferred option, I tried the new M&S red velvet cake.

It looks attractive and I guess what you would want from a red velvet cake and came out of the box undamaged easily and without all the frosting coming away. It cuts nicely into slices and feels very moist with a good wodge of cream cheese icing filling and on the top.

It's sweet, really quite sweet but not overly so. Maybe a little too sweet for my cake preferences as someone who would rather have something like banana bread or carrot cake but I think for most people it would be nicely sweet. The cake is really moist and not in the least dry and the generous sticky creamy icing helps this even further. I find it hard to describe the flavour of this as it's not overly chocolatey in the same way a good chocolate cake but I did enjoy the cream cheese frosting, which although sweet has a nice tangy, yogurty flavour to it.

Having never really eaten much red velvet I'm reluctant to say it's a great one in case there are bette qualified experts who would shout me down but overall it's a very nice cake. Light and fluffy with a rich tang that works well with the sugary hit.

From: Marks and Spencer
Score: 8/10

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Whitworths Full of Super Cayenne Chilli Flaxseed Crisps

Always on the look out for healthy snacks, I was really delighted to see these new flaxseed crisps from Whitworths. I've always associated Whitworths with cake ingredients, dried fruit and sugar rather than health but they've launched a new Full of Super range composing of raw bars, maca-roons and these flaxseed crisps.

I like flaxseed anyway and add it to my porridge every morning so was intrigued to try a crisp version as I enjoy other health crisps like kale crisps or chickpea flour crisps. My Sainsburys had both the garlic and herb flavour and these cayenne chilli ones which I went for as I like a bit of heat.

These are a genuinely healthy proposition. They're dairy free, gluten free and wheat free, soy free and suitable for vegans. Just look at the ingredients below - it's genuine whole foods.

Flaxseeds (50%), buckwheat (19%), sunflower seeds, quinoa (4%), dried red peppers, dried onion, sea salt, spices (1%) [ground ginger, ground cayenne chilli pepper (0.5%), turmeric], chia seeds (0.3%), dried garlic

Nutritionally this makes them really pretty good.  8g carbs per pack vs 6g protein and 6g fibre and with no added sugar. Flaxseed are also a really good source of omega 3 and each pack of these contains a whopping 3.9g

Pouring them out, they are nice perfect little discs sprinkled with lots of seeds. Whilst these do taste a little wholefood-ey and maybe wouldn't appeal to everyone, I thought they were really delicious and very moreish. A good crunchy texture, similar to seeded crackers with a nice good hit of spicy cayenne spice made for a really tasty snack. I said I was going to split this 35g bag into two servings but I easily ended up scoffing the lot, they were that moreish with a nice savoury flavour.

My only criticism is they are expensive. They were £1 on promotion at Sainsburys but even this is pricey for a single bag of crisps yet alone the £1.50 full price. Considering healthier options are becoming more mainstream and there are affordable options out there like Nakd which aren't inaccessible, I do feel these are overrpriced. But like I said I really enjoyed them so would probably buy them again at some point.

Price: £1.50
Bought at: Sainsburys
Nutrition pr bag: 171 calories, 11g fat, 1.2g sat fat, 8.3 carbs, 0.9g sugars, 6.3g fibre, 6.4g protein, 0.5g salt

Score: 8/10

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Whittards Gingerbread Coffee Syrup

Too soon for something quite Christmassy? I love gingerbread and am already counting down the days until the gingerbread lattes grace the coffee shops again. However, on a recent trip to Whittards, amongst their other delights (they were sampling a peanut butter hot chocolate, which was amazing) I spied their own gingerbread coffee syrup.

At £4 a bottle it's not cheap and pricier than Monin but worth noting that this is the first coffee syrup I've seen that isn't made with sugar but with fruit extract instead (which yes is a form of sugar but at least a natural one). It's simply fruit extract, flavouring and concentrated lemon juice).

The golden glow of the bottle looks warming and wintery cosy alone but the smell when you open it, is even more beautiful. Spicy, sweet - it's smells like Christmas and made me excited for it already and cosy afternoons in front of the fire.

I added one spoon to my latte (with a little Nakd nibble on the side) and it was perfect - as good as any Costa gingerbread latte with a warming, rich spicy scent that added a touch of sweetness withot tasting too sugary or syrupy. It's warming and comforting and just an absolute treat. I might even try adding to porridge and seeing what that's like. My mouth is watering at the thought already. Worth every penny.

Price: £4.00
Bought at: Whittards
Nutrition per 10g: 29 calories, 5.6g sugars

Score: 9/10

Monday, 10 October 2016

Aldi Greek Style Rhubarb and Fiery Ginger Yogurt

As you've probably seen I've been reviewing a lot of Aldi yogurts recently. I'm pretty hooked on the Domio yogurts and was pretty impressed with their Greek yogurt. In my recent trip I also picked up this new range of Greek style yogurts they've launched. They had an apple and cinnamon one which looked nice too but I love rhubarb and I love ginger so I couldn't not get this.

Opening up the tub, I could detect a faint sweet rhubarb scent and it looked a pretty pink colour. Giving it a swirl and dolloping some out, it had a nice thick texture. It's not as thick as actual Greek yogurt but certainly at least comparable to any branded Greek style yogurt and some people will prefer this texture as it's not solid but instead still slightly runny albeit with a very rich, creamy, thick texture. It's certainly a good deal thicker than something like an Activia yogurt.

It's defnitely not a health yogurt by any means with 21g sugar per 150g serving (third of a pot) or 14g per sugar but it does taste very good. It's a sweet rhubarb flavour that works well with the creamy, indulgent texture with a good hit of ginger, which add a nice spicy afterhint that perfectly works with rhubarb.

There's also lots of nice chunk of rhubarb dotted throughout which add extra bursts of juicy sweetness. It's not something I would serve for breakfast due to the sugar content and I would like to see it lowered but it's a delicious, sweet treat and one I would buy again.

Bought at: Aldi
Nutrition per 150g/ third of a pot: 208 calories, 11g fat, 21g sugars

Score: 7.5/10

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Ritz Bakefuls Sour Cream and Onion

After launching their first crisp style product last year, I found these new Ritz Bakefuls in Tesco along with lots of new other crisps and snacks. These crisp style crackers are all the rage right now and marketed as a lighter option to crisps with these bakefuls promoting themselves as 30% less fat.

The individual bags within the pack feels very light and not substantial at a meagre 23g but at 109 calories, this is kind of what you expect when a brand tries to go down the light route. Having said that when I opened the bag there's actually quite a lot of individual bakes in there.

I can't help but draw attention to Mondelez's cost cutting and cheapness. Not only have they steadily been cost cutting and ruining Cadburys but they seem to be unable to fork out for even a full pack design on the bag. Instead it's printed on the front with a blank back of packet. I can't help say but this looks really cheap.

On to the snacks themselves, they have a quite strong cheese and onion flavour both in smell and taste. They're certainly not bland but I almost find a bit too coated in flavour and it is slightly artificial. The coating is noticeable is as well with a thick, creamy, salty powder. The texture is quite nice - light and crisp but at the same time it makes them feel quite airy and not very filling.

These aren't a bad snack by any means but not super exciting. Great, if you want a low cal snack that provides a lot of flavour but if you were going for taste alone, there's so much more out there.

Price: £1.65
Bought at: Tesco
Nutrition per bag: 109 calories, 4.8g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 1.7g sugars, 0.3g salt

Score: 6.5/10

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Aldi Greek Yogurt Review

After being really impressed the Aldi Domio Yogurts, I decided to give their Greek yogurt a go. The first key thing for me was that this is authentic, actual Greek yogurt not those 'Greek Style yogurts'. At £1.29 for a 500g tub vs the £2.39 I would normally pay for Fage Greek yogurt, I thought I had nothing to lose.

Opening the tub I was met with the thickest, most dense, creamy yogurt - proper hold a spoon upright yogurt. It scoops out beautifully and feel substantial and rich and creamy. I tried a little on its own and both the flavour and mouthfeel were perfect. Smooth, super thick, rich and creamy , it's really indulgent in texture with a smooth flavour that isn't too sharp. You can tell it's proper Greek yogurt.

I had mine with some fruit for breakfast along with nuts and chia seeds (all very healthy and worthy!) and it's super substantial and filling. Because this is real Greek yogurt and the full fat stuff it's very satisfying. Taste wise, I would say it's actually as good as Fage Total and actually slightly creamier and a bit less claggy.

However, whilst I enjoyed it, I think Fage still has a slight edge for me just based on nutritionals. Sugar wise the Aldi Greek yogurt is brilliant at just 3.2% sugar (all of which is natural from lactose) making it lower than Fage and the lowest sugar yogurt I've ever seen. However, Fage also do a fat free version and I would prefer a fat free version where a serving isn't 9.5g of saturated fat. I know natural fat from dairy isn't seen as bad any more but I do prefer my yogurt to be not so high in fat. Even the full fat Fage yogurt only has 3.6g sat fat in 100g whereas this has 7.6g.

The other selling point of Fage is its protein - 9% protein vs the 6.4% protein per 100g in this. It's a tough one really as overall I would definitely recommend this yogurt - it tastes delicious, is natural, authentically Greek and a great price but would prefer to see a lower fat, higher protein version.

Price: £1.29
Bought at: Aldi
Nutrition per 125g serving: 165 calories, 13g fat, 9.5g sat fat, 4g sugars, 0.25g salt

Score: 7.5/10