Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Aldi Specially Selected Fresh Pasta - Sweet Aubergine and Heirloom Roasted Tomato Cappellacci

So impressed was I with Aldi's Danio copycat yogurt, I went back for some more of them and also decided to be brave and give something else a go. I love fresh pasta especially the filled kinds and if they're done well I don't even serve a sauce with them because in theory they should be stuffed with flavour from the filling. Waitrose do some particularly good ones - if you've never tried their pumpkin and pinenut one you must.

These cappellacci promise 'little bites of sweet unctuous aubergine and tangy tomato all wrapped up in fresh egg pasta'. It is also produced in Italy and from the ingredients list it looked pretty good quality. 70% of the contents is filling s 30% pasta and the ingredients list was all natural ingredients and there is no added sugar.

Like most fresh pasta, it's an absolute doddle to cook ; 3-5 minutes in boiling water and dinner is basically done. I also served it with roasted sweet pointed peppers, mushrooms and courgettes (of which there is quite a lot - I love my veg!)

After cooking the pasta remained intact with none of the filling leaking out. I cut in half and there certainly was plenty of filling in there. I took a bite and I have to say I'm very impressed. The flavour here is spot on. A really good blend of aubergine, creamy mozarella, tangy tomato, garlic and fragrant basil. It's Italy in a bite. The filling is soft and fairly rich and it just oozes and coats your tongue with a good powerful punch of well balanced salt and savoury. It's utterly moreish and passed my fresh pasta test. I would be happy to eat this by itself with nothing else.

My one criticism is the pack serves two but only has 9 pieces of pasta in which seems a bit unfair especially as it's just so tasty. Aldi, you might just be winning me over...

Bought at: Aldi
Nutrition  per half pack: 249 calories, 7.9g fat, 3.6g sat fat, 3.9g sugars, 0.97g salt

Score: 9/10

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Aldi Domio Yoghurt Review - Passionfruit

As I've said before, I like my yoghurts super thick, strained and high  in protein with Skyr, Arla Protein and Danio the types I tend to favour nowadays. I can't be dealing with runny yogurt, I want something I can stick a spoon unsupported. Now I was pretty impressed to stumble on these knock off Danio yogurts in Aldi - called......Domio. Whilst the name reminds me more of Dolmio pasta sauce than Danio, the packs looks pretty similar and the four flavours they do - strawberry, blueberry, passion fruit and cherry - are the exact same ones as Danio.

It's also a 150g pot and high in protein with a thick strained yogurt on top of a fruit compote. These are only 39p so an utter bargain but they needed to be good as well. Opening it up it looked promising, it looks like the passion fruit compote had spilled out a bit but this was due to my careless transporting of these home.

It looks fairly similar to Danio with the piped design on top. Delving in the yogurt has a nice, creamy mousse like texture and is super thick. It's perfectly tasty on its own and blends well with the passion fruit sauce. Aldi haven't scrimped on the passion fruit and it contains a similar amount to the Danio branded ones. There are some passion fruit seeds in there for an authentic look and feel and it all mixes together well.

The sauce is maybe slightly less sweet than Danio, which is a good thing in my opinion but even with these I didn't eat all the sauce as I don't like my yogurts too sweet. I have to say I was really impressed with these - gorgeously thick and creamy with a really fresh tropical taste and nutritionally it's pretty similar to Danio with a good protein content and actually slightly less sugars than the Danio ones.

Danio is maybe slightly better but only marginally and for the price I am sold on these as these are just as good quality. One I will definitely be returning to. Keep up the good work Aldi!

Price: £0.39
Bought at: Aldi
Nutrition per pot: 80 calories, <0.5g fat, <0.1g sat fat, 14g sugars, 0.23g salt

Score: 8/10

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Aldi Cauliflower Rice Review

Well I was surprised (in a pleasant way) to stumble across cauliflower rice in Aldi of all places. I don't shop there that much as it doesn't stock the kind of products and range I want but if they're going to start getting all trendy and expanding their healthier choices then sign me up.

There isn't a huge amount to say about this - it's basically cauliflower that's been whizzed up to resemble rice. You can stir fry or microwave it - either way it's ready in no time at all and quicker than waiting for some rice to boil. It's also an excellent choice for the carb avoiders (although believe I am not one in the slightest!) and at just 27 calories per serve, a lot less calorific than rice.

I tried it in a couple of different ways - once mixed with mushroom rice (the proper stuff!) and roasted vegetables for a quick and healthy lunch and also substituting normal rice for my chilli. Both times it worked well - a nice firm bite and because of the recipes I chose, the cauliflower taste was masked. It's not quite the same texture as real nice and not quite as satisfying (in the same courgetti is nowhere near real spaghetti) but it is tasty and with a strong chilli on top, not really that noticeable.

Yes, I could whizz up a cauliflower myself and it would be cheaper but frankly it's a real hassle and makes a right mess and also a whole cauliflower would make a ridiculous amount. This is healthy, quick and an easy to way to add to your fruit and veg intake.

Aldi, keep up this kind of premium, healthy stuff and you might just win me over. I see they have cold pressed veg and fruit smoothies in Aldis abroad - get some of them over pronto!

Price: £0.59
Bought at: Aldi
Nutrition per 1/3 pack: 27 calories, 0.7g fat, 0.2g sat fat, 1.4g sugars

Score: 7.5/10

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Graze Lemon Drizzle Flapjack Review

Although I think these Graze punnets are ridiculously expensive when you think about (£1.29 for a single snack when you can buy a multipack of crisps or cereal bars on offer for £1) I can’t help but be drawn back to them. They look really cool and modern, they’re easy to carry out and they are generally pretty healthy. Well generally. Whereas previous reviews of the veggie protein power or punchy protein nuts have snacks with protein benefits and are low in sugar or the herby bread basket is a snack low in calories, it’s hard to justify a flapjack.

Graze seem to be going for being a source of fibre as it’s health selling point although there are much better sources of fibre out there and with considerably less calories, fat and sugar to boot. But then flapjacks are never a diet food and you could argue it’s a good source of energy. It is also slightly less sugary than most other flapjacks at 28% sugars and also less fat than those made with real butter.
Opening it up you get 3 nice little individually cut pieces, which is quite nice as it means you can spread them out should you so wish. They smelt fairly lemony and zesty upon opening and they certainly deliver on the lemon drizzle promise with a nice drizzle of lemon icing on the top.

The lemon drizzle really comes through here and actually pretty similar to the icing on a lemon drizzle cake. It’s sweet and creamy and really tangy and lemony and just generally delicious. Lemon actually works really well with oats and it makes for a fairly indulgent taste with a delicious buttery lemon curd flavour. The flapjack consistency is slightly firm so it does’t crumble or fall apart but definitely on the softer side with a chewy, melt in the mouth texture.

Although it uses margarine rather than butter it tastes rich and is very satisfying although I could quite easily continue eating after it’s finished. I was ravenous when I ate this and  it did plug the gap nicely. Probably one of the tastiest Graze punnets I’ve tried if not the healthiest!

Price: £1.29
Bought at: Boots
Nutrition per punnet: 239 calories, 13g fat, 4.3g sat fat, 15g sugars, 2g fibre, 2.5g protein, 0.32g salt

Score: 8/10

Monday, 22 August 2016

Waitrose 1 Milk Chocolate 49% Cocoa

I've been pretty impressed with some of the newly launched Waitrose 1 range. It is pricey but what you are getting here is well sourced ingredients with authentic provenance, high quality ingredients with ingredients decks that are short and clean. In short, they are just exceptionally delicious food in a more natural state.

I don't usually go for milk chocolate but decided to give this one ago as it's 49% cocoa solids which is extremely high. It also mean it's less sugary at just under 35% , which isn't that far off 70% dark chocolates. It's also fair trade and the ingredients list is just:

Cocoa butter, cane sugar, milk powder, cocoa mass, milk fat, vanilla extract

They do a bigger 85g bar but I bought a treat sized one at 30g which gives you six nice little squares. It smells chocolatey and of real cocoa rather than sugar and I couldn't wait to dig in. It is unbelievably good and maybe because I don't eat much milk chocolate, I might be wrong here but I certainly thought it's some of the best milk chocolate I've ever had.

It's just so milky and creamy and smooth with a faint richness and deep cocoa notes. It is sweet but not sugary and just exceptionally smooth and meltingly good in the mouth. Just divine, I would definitely buy this again.

Price: 75p for 30g
Bought at: Waitrose
Nutrition per square: 31 calories, 2.4g fat, 1.4g sat fat, 1.7g sugars, trace salt

Score: 8.5/10

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Jacobs Ciabatta Sundried Tomato and Basil Crackers

As we continue to (needlessly in my opinion) shun in bread, there's been a boom in crackers and crispbreads as we look for lighter options. I buy a lot of oatcakes, crackers and savoury biscuits - perfect any time of the day for a quick less sugary nibble and equally as good as lunch option or just for dipping into houmous and dips.My favourite nowadays are the thins you get, which are perfect for dipping and I tend to favour Jacobs for these. However, thee new ciabatta crackers looked interesting and a bit different.

They had original and caramelised onion version as well but I went for tomato and basil for a more Italian flavour to go with the ciabatta style. Each box comes with five individually wrapped packs of three biscuits - a must have for me nowadays as it helps with portion control, freshness and makes them easy for taking out and about.

The little 'best thing since sliced bread' message on the packs made me smile and the biscuits looked appetising although there is a clear difference in appearance between top and bottom. The top has a more rough, rustic texture, darker in colour with an uneven surface. The bottom looks more like a standard cracker albeit with lots of visible flecks of herb and tomato.

Funnily enough upon eating them you really do get a ciabatta feel, - it has that crunchy, stonebaked, roasted flavour and there's lots of air pockets between the top and bottom for a fairly good representation of the bread. Don't get me wrong, real ciabatta is much more satisfying but these do taste very different to normal crackers. The tomato and herb was a little too subtle and the ciabatta taste was the element that came through more strongly for me.

They were perfectly delicious on their own and dipped in houmous but I'm sure there's all kinds of creative things you could do with them maybe topping them with tomato puree and cheese for a pizza style experience. At 41 calories each, I expect they'll appeal to those looking to lighter options for bread.

Price: £1.39
Bought at: Waitrose
Nutrition per cracker: 41 calories, 1g fat, 0.4g sat fat, 0.3g sugars, 0.2g salt

Score: 7/10

Friday, 19 August 2016

Pret Super Greens and Reds Review

I adore Pret but don't go there that often as I cannot justify spending that much on lunch every day but every now and then I feel I deserve a treat. I also love how they have such a fantastic range of vegetarian and vegan options and not just your run of the mill combos but really interesting and innovative ones. Made fresh every day it's also nice buying something made from real ingredients using tasty, fresh produce.

This super green and red sandwich was fairly reasonable at £2.99 and offered a nice vegan sandwich with lots of frsh veggie goodness. It's avocado slices, covered in a tapenade made from red peppers and tomatoes with more red pepper slices, lots of fresh kale, toasted almond flakes and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Even before opening it looked great - just look at all the vibrant fresh colours - certainly plenty of green here! It's also clearly filled with filling as well rather than skimping on the good stuff and being padded out with bread.

Biting in, it's a nice mix of textures and flavours. The avocado was perfectly ripe, creamy and soft that contrasted nicely against the crunch of kale and crunchy bites of almonds. It was perhaps a little lacking in flavour overall as most the veg is quite neutral tasting. The tapenade is delicious but not quite enough for my liking as I would have liked it in every bite as it complements the veg well adding deep roasted pepper flavours and acting as a lubriant.

Overall it's great to have such healthy options out and about and every one should be doing more of this kind of stuff. It's not perfect as it needs something to add a bit more wow but it was tasty and nourishing and also filling, which is everything I want from lunch

Price: £2.99
Bought at: Pret A Manger

Score: 7.5/10

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Marks and Spencer Active Health Blueberry Live Yogurt with Granola

M&S yogurts are actually surprisingly good quality. Well, not that surprising as it’s M&S and you expect good quality but even on some of their cheaper yogurts the fruit content is really high. I recently tried their blueberry and blackcurrant pot and it was over 20% fruit which is a lot higher than even high quality brands like Yeo Valley which tend to be around 5%. And you do really notice the increased fruit content as you get a much more intense flavour. 

This yogurt from the active health range is a bit more premium and is essentially a breakfast on the go option although I had it as a dessert after dinner. It’s your typical split pot with a side compartment of granola and then low fat yogurt on top of a blueberry compote. Quality wise, it looked extremely promising. As part of the Active Health range you get the added benefits of bone health with vitamin D to help absorb the calcium in the yogurt and the oat beta glucan that helps lower cholesterol. 

But even taking this aside, the basic are spot on. There is loads of granola and it’s made without sugar but instead uses agave. In addition the blueberry compote is made up of more blueberry than sugar as well giving an overall sugar content of 8.5%. This is really low amongst other yogurts especially considering the likes of Yeo Valley and Rachel’s are around 12-15% and they have no compote or granola.

I made a bit of mess of trying to mix it all in as the pot doesn’t  flex that well but I managed and it was a really tasty snack. Okay, it’s a low fat yogurt so not as creamy as other yogurts but the blueberry compote is bursting with flavour, sweet and intense and you can see actual blueberries in it. The granola isn’t overly sweet but adds a nice crunch and textural difference that works well against the smooth yogurt.

At just over 250 calories, it maybe is more breakfast than a snack but I enjoyed it as a snack regardless. It felt like I was getting something that felt a bit of a treat but also had some nutritional value as well. It’s probably too pricey to have everyday but definitely worth trying.

Bought at: M&S
Nutrition per 100g: 158 calories, 4.4g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 8.5g sugars, 5.4g protein, 0.08g salt

Score: 8/10

Monday, 15 August 2016

Marks and Spencer Spirit of Summer Chipotle Chilli and Ecuadorian Dark Chocolate Cookies Review

M&S are the gold standard for biscuits in my opinion and even better than any other brand. They are a little pricier but by no means unaffordable and you do get really ingredients. Sure cookies are by no stretch of the imagination a health food but at leasr with M&S you know the indulgence is totally worth every bite and it’s made from real foodie ingredients. Their cookies are always good, made with proper butter and lots of high quality ingredients. New to the range via the Spirit of Summer brand are these Ecuodorian dark chocolate and chipotle chilli cookies.


I had high hopes for these as I love chilli and chocolate and the ingredients list promised very high quality and a sophisticated taste. Butter is the second biggest ingredient at 25% followed by the Ecuadorian dark chocolate, which is real dark chocolate when cocoa mass is the main ingredient not sugar. Opening the pack, I was blown away by just how chocolatey these smelt. Really deep, dark and intense. They looked delicious too with a dark cocoa colour and a phenomenal amount of dark chocolate chips in.

And they didn’t let me down. I haven’t had an M&S cookie for so long I forgot just how good they were. A crumbly, short texture with a deep chocolate flavour with the most creamy, gorgeous, dark and rich chocolate chips in every mouthful that just melt in the mouth. The chilli is just right as well. At first I couldn’t really taste it and thought it was just (an extremely delicious) chocolate cookie but then a mild heat comes through that pairs well with the dark chocolate.

It’s not overly spicy or savoury and complements the richness of the chocolate rather than detracts from it leaving a nice sophisticated flavour in the mouth. These little beauties are just delicious, plain and simple, and worth every decadent mouthful.

Price: £2.00
Bought at: Marks and Spencer
Nutrition per cookie: 113 calories

Score: 8/10

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Meridian Coconut and Almond Butter Review

Anyone into their nut butters know that Meridian is king. These are nut butters made purely from buts with no added salt or sugar and 100% almond/ peanut/ hazelnut etc depending on the flavour you pick. Free from palm oil, you can't knock their quality and I'm a die hard fan of their almond, peanut, hazelnut and cashew butters all of which I've enjoyed on toast, bagels, oatcakes and in smoothies.

Capitalising on the love of all things coconut, they've introduced a coconut and peanut butter and coconut and almond butter mash up to the range Like the rest of the range, the ingredients list is stunnigly simple - 67% almonds, 29% coconut and 4% honey for sweetening. I had high hopes for this and couldn't wait to get stuck in.

Because of its natural ingredients, this, like all the other Meridian products, needs a vigorous good stir to blend when you first open it as the natural almond oil seperates and rises to the top but this isn't a problem for me. I got the scent of coconut and with the high almond content, it looked deliciously creamy and thick

Spreading some onto some oatcakes for a little energy boost, the texture is fairly thick with a slight runniness - maybe a little looser than their peanut butter but thicker than the hazelnut butter. It's rich and creamy in the mouth and whilst the coconut is obvious and fragrant, you do still get the almond richness as well so you get the best of both blends.

I'll admit I expected these to be the most luxurious nut butter I've ever had but whilst very nice it's no better than the rest of the range (not that that's a bad thing). It's not as sweet as I would have maybe liked so doesn't feel super indulgent or naughty but then again it's really a healthy product - albeit one that tastes divine.

Definitely one worth seeking out but perhaps not as treaty as some of the nut butters that contain maple syrup or cinnamon or blended with chocolate.

Price: £3.99
Bought at: Holland and Barrett
Nutrition per 100g: 647 calories, 56.1g fat, 19.9g sat fat, 7.6 sugars, 11.6g fibre, 19.1g protein, 0g salt

Score: 7.5/10

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Waitrose Omega 3 Chicken Breasts Review

Today's feature is chicken. Yes I'm reviewing chicken, it's not as interesting or fun as snacks and chocolate but I ended up buying the new omega 3 enriched chicken breasts from Waitrose. We all know chicken is a healthy choice, very high in protein and low in fat if you choose the right cut like breastmeat. But Waitrose have done something interesting with chicken by offering these enhanced ones with omega 3 in. Omega 3 is a key part of a balanced diet and something most of the population are lacking in their diet, which is important as it helps maintain normal heart, brain and eye function.

Like other Waitrose chicken, it's chicken and you trust the provenance, welfare and quality of the meat. So how do they add the important omega 3 you ask? Well according to the Waitrose website

Reared on family farms in Northern Ireland, the meat comes from chickens fed on a diet containing algae – the family of aquatic plants that includes kelp and seaweed – that is naturally rich in omega 3. The algae is farmed to avoid depleting stocks for fish in the wild, and the chickens look
and taste the same as birds reared on a conventional diet.

Now you can of course get omega 3 from other sources in your diet, most notably through fish, particularly oily fish. This isn't a problem for me as I love fish but a lot of people avoid it and as said a lot of the population are under nourished in omega 3 of which we need 250mg a week. This chicken contains 68mg per 100g so a couple of breasts of these a work is an easy, alternative way to get this into your diet.

The new omega 3 enriched range covers all your chicken cuts but I went for some breast pieces. Essentially this acts and tastes just like normal chicken so there are no worries about any fishy or algae taste coming through and like most Waitrose meat, it's excellent quality - no gristle, juicy, moist and succulent.

I served it with a thai green sauce and some veg rice and roasted vegetables and it made a delicious healthy meal plus it helps gives more omega 3. It's definitely worth buying if you struggle to get enough in your diet as it is no different to normal chicken but even more nutritious

Price: £8.80 for 4 chicken breasts (prices vary but cut and pack size)
Bought at: Waitrose
Nutrition per 100g: 141 calories, 2.1g fat, 0.6g sat fat, protein 30.6g  salt 0.13g

Score: 8/10 

Friday, 12 August 2016

Nakd Apricot Crunch Review

I’m really back into Nakd bars again now that they launched their three new flavours of peanut power, apricot crunch and carrot cake. I’ve reviewed the carrot cake one previously which was insanely good and today is time for the apricot crunch version. I don’t really buy the crunch variants of the Nakd bars as the flavours are generally quite tame – strawberry, cocoa, banana and when they do cherry bakewell, gingerbread and cashew cookie ones it’s a bit of  no brainer.

However, apricot promises something new and interesting and you don’t see many apricot cereal bars out there. Before even opening the bar I could tell it was going to deliver on the apricot front, the smell is so strong you can even detect it without opening the pack. Once opened it’s even more intense with a lovely, sweet, floral, juicy smell of apricot.

Having not had a protein crunch Nakd for a while, the texture was a nice surprise. It’s a much firmer texture than the others with a crispiness to it that comes from the soya crunchies, which I like. Like all Nakd bars, the ingredients list is short and sweet – dates, soya crunchies, raisins,  cashews, apricot, apple juice concentrate and a bit of natural flavouring and of course it’s gluten free, wheat free, dairy free and vegan.

The taste is really nice with all  the treaty dessert like Nakd bars out there, it’s great to have a really fruity one and this one is really fruity indeed. It’s refreshing, summery and fragrantly sweet and a great addition to the range. Carrot cake still has the edge due to its awesome likeness to the real deal but this is pretty good too.

Nutrition per bar: 105 calories, 2.2g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 14.3 sugars, 5.4g protein, 0.2g salt

Score: 8/10

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Nature Valley Protein Salted Caramel Review

I used to really enjoy Nature Valley bars back in the day and bought them all the time. A nice, crunchy texture, pleasantly sweet and flavours I really like such as coconut, almond or maple syrup. However, with all the new bars and breakfast biscuits that came out, they fell off my radar completely and with over 10g sugar a bar, healthier alternatives also came out.

Since then they’ve launched new lighter popcorn bars and also protein bars, which I never tried. The protein bars seem to have undergone a rebranding with more protein per (10g) and are now gluten free and they have introduced a salted caramel version, which I decided to try.

Opening it up, it looked promising – it’s a big dense, heavy bar with a very high nut content (38% peanuts and 9% almonds) and an attractive yogurt type bottom layer. It tastes really good with a sweet, salty flavour although it doesn’t really taste of salted caramel per se and the caramel didn’t really come through for me. The texture was very firm and a bit of a jawbreaker, which wasn’t a deal breaker as it made the bar feel satisfying and substantial although it is quite a dry eat so a hot drink does help.

I have mixed feelings about its healthiness. Its gluten free, 10g protein and actually a really good fibre content too at over 5g a bar and actually it’s low in sugar too at just over5g bar so significantly less than other bars and with high protein, fibre, it feels like an all round better snack.

But then I look at the ingredients and it just uses too many things which seem a bit odd like fructose, palm fat, maltodextrin and put me off but then again they use a lot of nuts so I don’t understand why they would then compromise on quality here.

If I felt more reassured that these were healthier, I’d rate them a little higher. However, it is filling and tasty and certainly better than anything from the likes of Kelloggs or things like Alpen bars.

Price: £2.89
Bought at: Waitrose
Nutrition per bar: 200 calories, 12.3g fat, 3.1g  sat fat, 5.4g sugars, 5.1g fibre, 10.3g protein, 0.43g salt

Score: 7.5/10

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Fage Total Apple and Blackberry Yogurt

After really enjoying the new cherry Total splitpot from Fage, I also managed to get my hand on the new apple and blackberry version. I am obsessed with these at the moment. They’re super pricey but I don’t feel too bad because I really enjoy them and I think it’s better to buy what you really like. It’s the usual story here – Fage Total’s plain super thick authentically Greek yogurt that’s low sugar and high protein with a side helping of fruity compote.

As always the yogurt is sublimely thick and so satisfying so there’s not a lot more to say here. I loved the cherry compote version so much I thought this would not be as good but still had very high expectations. I’ll get right to the point, it’s sublime. The cherry one is delicious and this is as every bit as good; I couldn’t pick a favourite.

It has all the flavour of a perfect apple and blackberry crumble with the perfect balance of sweet and tang and refreshing apple and the depth of blackberry. The juicy real blackberries in it are plentifiul and it’s so easy to swirl through the yogurt giving a pleasing dark inky colour and tastes wonderful against the creamy richness of the yogurt. Yes, they’re expensive but I  just love the taste of these  and I don’t want to compromise with anything else.

Price: £1.10
Bought at: Waitrose
Nutrition per 100g: 81 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat fat, 11.4g sugars, 8.3g protein, 0.09g salt

Score: 9/10

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Barny ABC Bears Vanilla Review

Although a fully functioning adult, I will occasionally buy snacks clearly aimed at less mature people such as these Barny ABC bears from Mondelez. I actually quite enjy the sponge bears with their madeleine like texture and they're a fairly light little snack and although it's never going to be a particularly nutritious option, there are probably worse things out there and sometimes we all tastes that are probably a bit guilty - Cadbury Mini Animals being another one of my weaknesses.

Barny have expanded the range moving into biscuits. The individual 25g packs come in boxes of 6 in either chocolate or vanilla and I decided to go for vanilla. At 6g sugars per bag and 113 calories, I felt it was a relatively less naughty sweet treat.

Pouring the bag out you get some fairly cool little bear shaped snacks each with an individual letter on. If you were so inclined I'm sure you could amuse yourself trying to make some words although I must admit I couldn't get a lot out of the letters I ended up with. Needless to say I wouldn't be great on countdown.

The texture of the bears was good - crunchy and satisfying with a wholemeal, cereal type grittiness which I enojyed. Unfortunately the flavour and sweetness let them down. Although not overly sgary in terms of amount in the biscuits, they just tasted sickly sweet. The vanilla bears were a bit overpowering and the white chocolate chips in them just meant the whole thing was very one dimensional and lacked any depth.

Maybe my tastes have become more adult but they just let me down when I wanted a simple treat.

Price: £1.69
Bought at: Tesco
Nutrition per 25g bag: 113 calories, 3.7g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 6.1g sugars, 0.15g salt

Score: 5/10

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Marks and Spencer Hot Chilli Con Carne Sauce

I really don't like cooking. Assembling meals is fine and I'm happy to put the time in prepping a salad or noodle bowl or stir fry but making sauces and anything involving a lot of spices....not for me so I tend to stick to classic fish or meat done in the oven with some carbs and some steamed veg. I do make chilli today but today I had a hankering for it but also wasn't in the mood to do it from scratch.

This all sounds terribly lazy and I bet most people are crying out that chilli is one of the easiest things to make. That's true but I was in the M&S food hall and they had a stand with Mexican stuff on that looked so attractive I ended up buying a ready made chilli sauce. What's more it cost me £2. I'm sure I'm pretty the type of person you get on Eat Well For Less who needlessly wastes money on the grocery shop. But time is also pretty important and this is a real doddle. Literally all you need to do is fry your beef in a pan and then add the sauce, bring to the boil and cook. That's it. I did go one step further and fried some diced red onion before adding the meat to at least feel I was doing something!

At least with an M&S product, the ingredients list is pretty safe and you can see by the order of ingredients that it's fairly generous with the kidney beans, onion and peppers and as well as the usual spices it's got ancho chilli and cocoa for depth. It's a very thick sauce and not in the least bit watery.

Now I purposefully picked this hot one over the mild one and I can safely safe this is not hot in any way. That's not to say it's not tasty. The balance of flavours is really good, not one spice is overpowering and it all syncs wonderfully creating a rich, deep, comforting chilli. It actually tastes fairly similar to the M&S chilli ready meal, which I really like.

Whilst tasty, it's not radically interesting or different and I guess it's pretty pricey for what it is. But it did the job in providing a quick and tasty meal on a summer evening when I'd rather be doing other things.

Price: £2
Bought at: Marks and Spencer
Nutrition per half jar: 117 calories

Score: 6.5/10

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Graze Herby Bread Basket

I don't think I've ever had a bad Graze box. They always tick the box of being both enjoyable to eat and are a relatively guilt free snack. I do tend to stick to my favourites though so decided to branch out with this herby bread baskeet, which contains a mix of garlic crostini, sweet basil breadsticks and oregano rice crackers. The idea behind it is inspired by Italian classic flavours but with a modern twist. Visually, it's a very attractive little snack and I think they've got the mix spot on with an even amount of all the different elements as some Graze boxes can be a bit one sided.

Every piece in this box tasted great and it's really hard to pick what the stand out bit of the punnet is. The breadsticks were nice and crunchy but also easy to eat with a nice mild sweetness and savoury tomato and herb flavour. The oregano rice cakes offered a completely different texture - light but also crisp with a good umami kick and a good balance of salt with mild sticky sweetness. The garlic crostini were liked nice little mini bites of bruschetta with that crunchy, baguette texture and a good decent strength garlic flavour - although not in any way overly pungent.

Eaten individually they were all delicious and equally nice in any combination. Usually with these types of mixes I work my way around, meticulously planning the order of each bite to get the best tastes at the end but it's impossible here as every element is as good as the last. And at just 90 calories for the punnet, anyone looking for a light munch can get stuck in without any guilt and it certainly is a lot more interesting than a couple of ricecakes

Price: £1.29
Bought at: Boots
Nutrition per punnet: 90 calories, 4.4g fat, 1.8g sat fat, 1.1g sugars, 0.33g salt

Score: 7/10