Sunday, 29 January 2017

UGLY drinks review - Grapefruit and Pineapple

I don't really drink soft drinks at all bar occasionally using them as mixer for alcohol. I just don't really see the point of getting calories and sugar from something that isn't very satisfying when I could use them for food instead. I'll have a diet coke with vodka but wouldn't drink them daily as I don't really trust artificial sweeteners either.

So what do you do when you don't want sugar or artificial sweeteners? Have neither! I found this new brand of soft drink called UGLY which is sugar free but also no nasties or preservatives either - it's simply carbonated water with flavouring - no calories and no sugar. I think the pack looks good - really striking, cool and modern and definitely a brand that makes me smile.

Opening it up, you can smell the lovely fruity aroma of grapefruit and but on my first sip, my taste buds were little confused. You get the same refreshing flavour and fruitiness you get from something like Lilt or Sprite but there's no sweetness and it's less fizzy so initially you think it's a little flat and not as interesting as normal fizzy drinks but this is just our palates being so used to overly sweet fizzy drinks.

The more I drank, the more I liked it. It's subtle through natural flavours but you get the grapefruit and the pineapple with a nice mix of tang and a hint of sweetness. Iced cold, it's really refreshing with a lovely tropical taste and it's nice to have a soft drink that is natural and genuinely not bad for you.

It is pricey at around £1 for a single can so I would want to see a mulipack of this come out but nevertheless this is a lovely drink from a cool new start up and one I'll continue to buy.

Bought at:Holland and Barrett (£1.49)

Friday, 20 January 2017

Chic P Hummus Rreview Chic P Carrot, Ginger and Turmeric Humms

One of the best things about going veggie is all the delicious, colourful lunches you get to make. All my work colleagues comment on how vibrant and interesting my lunches and I think once you start moving away from bread and start filling a container full of plant based wholefoods, it automatically just looks so instagram worthy. One thing this week, which has added a lovely burst of sunshine to my lunchboxes this week is this carrot, ginger and turmeric hummus from a lovely new brand called Chic P.

I came across this in Wholefoods where the lovely lady sampling showcased a variety of interesting new takes on hummus - including a cocoa and banana one! Chic P stands for sustainability and reducing food waste and all their hummuses are made from rejected vegetables because they're imperfect looking. In addition, the products are made from raw vegetables with no added sugars and are vegan as well.

Just look at that amazing golden colour! I know turmeric always brings a sunny glow to whatever it touches but this is still the most healthy looking dip I've ever seen. Made from carrots, chickpeas, tahini, ginger and turmeric, it's just natural ingredients that come with lots of health benefits. Turmeric is a bit of a superfood with supposed anti inflammatory and anti cancer properties and is something I add to everything nowadays from curries to smoothies - and of course I love a turmeric latte! Ginger is great for digestion but also adds a lovely depth of flavour marrying the natural sweetness of the carrot with the creaminess of chickpeas and fragrance of turmeric,

Although this has a very distinct, strong and powerful flavour, I've also found it wonderfully versatile. It's been a staple in all my salad bowls and boxes this week, I've served it with falafel, with Thai sweetcorn fritters and of course it works simply as a dip as well. I've even used it on spelt bread for toast in the morning for a punchy wake up call.

It is more pricey than your average hummus at £2.49 for 170g but one I really think is worth it as it adds something very different to what's out there, is natural, healthy and has a really good ethical background.

Price: £2.49
Bought at:Wholefoods Market

Score: 9.5/10

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Aldi 0% Fat Greek Yogurt Review

After liking the genuine Greek yogurt from Aldi I tried earlier in the way it seems they listened to one criticism of wanting a 0% fat variant as well. I know fat isn't bad but it's great to have a fat free option as well so long as it's not full of sugar.

And this isn't. With a minimal 3.5g sugars per 100g, no fat, a whopping 10g protein per 100g and all for 62 calories, this product is a nutritional powerhouse. It's really useful for someone wanting to up their protein intake especially if you don't eat meat.

For a fat free product, you wouldn't know it's fat free - it's super thick, super creamy and tastes rich. It's also genuine Greek yogurt from Greece, not Greek style and oh did I mention it's a mere £1.39. I had it with some cocoa nibs and some Graze protein granola topping for lots of good stuff in the guise of a tasty dessert and it was lovely but would be just as good for fruit or with cereal for breakfast as well or adding protein to a smoothie.

I'll admit Aldi isn't my favourite shopper as their health offering isn't as varied, expansive or as interesting as other places but for healthy basics like this, you can't fault them.

Bought at: Aldi
Price: £1.39

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