Sunday, 30 April 2017

Nakd Lemon Drizzle Review

Always a fan of Nakd bars and they're pure wholefoods clean ingredients, I'm always excited to see a new flavour on the shelves. Now on the plus side lemon drizzle cake sounds delicious and it's good to see a more zesty flavour hit the shelves instead of more cocoa, berry or nutty versions but on the down side it replaces the previous limited edition carrot cake Nakd bar, which I loved. So it has a high bar to hit if it is to make me let go of one of my favourite flavours.

We all know the benefits of Nakd bars - no refined sugar, vegan, dairy free, gluten free, clean ingredients and this is no different, made up of 53% dates, 19% raisins, 11% almonds, 10% coconut, 6% cashews, 1% lemon and a hint of natural flavourings.

Opening it up, you instantly get a lovely fragrant zesty smell. I wouldn't say it was lemony and actually it reminded me more of vanilla sponge cake - especially those sharing ones for birthdays that come in big slabs cut into squares.

Initially biting in, it was lemony and sweet and very delicious but I wouldn't say it was lemon drizzle cake. It was just their usual nice soft texture with a lovely lemony twist that works well but the more I ate the more and more it morphed into lemon drizzle cake. It's scarily similar to the real deal, even texture wise. By the end I really couldn't tell the difference between this and the real deal. It's lovely and sweet and zesty and somehow for something made up of dates and raisins and nuts really feels and tastes like lemony sponge in texture. I swear I could even taste the icing of lemon drizzle cake.

Nakd have done it again, another fantastic healthier treat. I'm still really, really sad to see carrot cake (please Nakd bring this back too!) but this is another winner.

My only criticism is I think Nakd are starting to cut costs and bulking up their bars with more dates/raisins, instead of costly nuts. This means the sugar content of this is one of the higher bars with just under 18g (albeit natural sugars). However, considering their gingerbread bar is 11.6g sugars with 50% nut content and their are lots of new players like Squirrel Sisters, Bounce and Deliciously Ella with lower sugar content, I hope they don't keep reducing the nut content.

Price: £0.74
Bought at: Asda
Nutrition per bar: 133 calories, 5.4g fat, 2.3g sat fat, 17.7g sugars, <0.1g salt

Score: 9/10

Friday, 28 April 2017

Arla Protein Greens Mango, Kale and Lime Yogurt Review

I've long been a fan of the Arla Protein yogurts of which I've reviewed several (passion fruit, raspberry, vanilla, ginger) so was delighted to see a new variant on the shelf, intriguingly subtitled Protein Greens that is mango and kale flavoured.

Like all the rest of the range, its super high in protein with 20g per pot and for only 155 calories and its low fat. I've no problem with greens or veg in my yogurt after enjoying some of the new Waitrose vegetable yogurts but I love the thick clagginess of the Arla range and its high protein content so was very keen to try this.

The first thing I noticed is that the texture seemed a little looser than the standard raspberry, blueberry and strawberry ones. This might be because the product has no sugar in it but is instead sweetened with fruit juice like the vanilla and ginger yogurts. I'm not sure if the juice adds a bit of liquid that makes the thickness of the quark slightly diluted. It is still super thick and creamy though, more than any other yogurt , just not as quite as much as the standard Arla Protein products.

Flavour wise, any veg haters will have no problem with this. It's just a sweet fruity mango flavour, that comes through. It's delicious but a bit of shame not too get a bit of kale bitterness in. I was hoping for a green smoothie type of flavour (yes I'm weird).

The kale is a bit misleading really. It's way down the ingredients list so really doesn't add anything. It's a another delicious and high protein product but it's really just a mango variant. As the texture is slightly less thick than the other flavours I'll probably buy more of them but I would still get this again.

For those interested in macros, this version is slightly higher in sugars with 15g per pot vs 12g in some of the other flavours but with the same 20g protein.

Price: £1.25
Bought at: Asda
Nutrition per pot: 155 calories, 1.1g fat, 1.0g sat fat, 15 sugars, 20.2g protein, 0.16g salt

Score: 8/10

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Pastella Protein Pasta

Pasta = carbs = bad right? Well firstly I completely disagree carbs are bad and would never want to rule them out of my life. However, I do acknowledge that a big bowl of pasta isn't necessarily the most nutritionally rounded meal you could have. So how about some protein pasta to up the protein content of your meal, leave you fuller for longer and all from plant based sources?

This little gem I stumbled across accidentally in Waitrose and I'm really impressed by it. Packing a whopping 21g of protein in each 125g it all comes from the added pea protein so a great way to up your non animal protein and perfect for vegans and vegetarians. In addition the ingredients list is uper clean with just durum wheat flour, pea protein and wheat flour. There's no added salt or sugar.

It only takes 2-3 minutes in boiling water to cook and I had mine with some beetroot pesto and salad to up the veggie credentials further and it's really nice. The texture is a little different to normal pasta, a little softer, a little less chewy but not enough to question it much. There is no taste whatsoever from the pea protein and because of the 21g protein it just seems a lot more filling and healthier for you.

I'm completely sold on this product and definitely intend to use regularly in the future.

Price: £1.25
Bought at: Waitrose
Score: 9/10

Saturday, 22 April 2017

New treats at Marks and Spencer - Spirit of Summer Cakes and Biscuits

Sadly Easter and all its chocolatiness goodness is over but the good news is that Marks and Spencer is now making way for lots of summery filled delights. I only popped into it today to get some nice dips and hummus but ended up salivating at all these new treats. I'm sure there will be lots of new Spirit of Summer products coming out over the coming months but there's already lots of new M&S biscuits and cakes to tantalise you.

New Marks and Spencer dark chocolate lemon and lime jaffa cakes. Lemon and lime jaffa cakes by McVities are pretty nice but dark chocolate is even better and I love the less dry sponge and more dainty feel of M&S jaffa cakes,
 New Marks and Spencer Spirit of Summer All Butter Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers - M&S tends to use all butter in their biscuits which always makes them extra crumbly and delicious and cinnamon is underused in biscuits,
 Also available as plain Marks and Spencer All Butter Palmiers
 I'm not normally a shortbread fan but I do love coconut so these Marks and Spencer coconut and raspberry homebake style shortbread fingers sound delicious.
 Everyone knows M&S do the best cookies so these M&S white chocolate and sicilian lemon cookies sound nice for the summer. I'm not a white chocolate fan but the lemon might help offset its sweetness.
 There are some delicious new cakes in too - this Marks and Spencer Spirit of Summer Apricot, honey and pine kernel cake sounds really nice,
 And the Marks and Spencer black cherry and almond cake sounds even nicer! I love cherries and almonds and the fact you can try this hot too makes this sound like a delicious pudding,

 This is M&S banana and blueberry loaf cake with spelt and quinoa flour is definitely something I want to try as I love healthier flours.
 And there's Marks and Spencer Chocolate and Date Brownie made with chesnut flour - again this can be served warm as a pudding.
 There's also a vanilla and blackcurrant cake which sounds nice as I love blackcurrant,
 And if you want normal naughty cake instead of these alternative flour ones, there's the new Marks and Spencer Spirit of summer passion fruit cake. Passion fruit might offer a lighter sweetness perfect for summer.
 I love tiramisu but for some reason I think I'd be disappointed by the Marks and Spencer Spirit of summer tiramisu cake - anything tiramisu flavoured always tends to let me down.,

There's also new Marks and Spencer Spirit of Summer tiramisu cupcakes and some M&S valencia orange and almond cupcakes for those who like their cakes under a heavy pile of icing!

So lots of interesting new cakes and biscuits for the summer in M&S - so much for healthier summer eating!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Hotel Chocolat Vegan Gianduja Egglets

I have to say the sheer amount of vegan Easter options this year has been phenomenal. It’s not in any way niche, obscure, difficult to find or more expensive with every supermarket having a good choice of diary free eggs. Hotel Chocolat always excel in dark chocolate so these gianduja dairy free vegan egglets had high expectations.

Priced at a fairly hefty £8.50 for 8 egglets they are presented very nice well in a high quality and attractive tube. These are described as super smooth pralines sealed in dark chocolate and dusted in cocoa powder. They’re fairly substantial feeling, bigger than a mini egg with a bit weight behind them. You probably could eat it in one but this is more of a two/three bite hob.

As soon as you bite in you just taste pure high end chocolate. The praline is properly hazelnut flavoured, really nutty, rich and roasted and creamy. The dark chocolate casing is your usual high end Hotel Chocolat affair,  rich, dense and very dark. I just think dark chocolate is so much nicer nowadays, it’s just so more interesting.
These are super rich and creamy and sinfully indulgent. I ate two and that was pushing it, there was no way I could have a third but the two I had were just pure bliss. Rich, nutty and super chocolatey, these are real high end chocolate treats. You would never guess they were dairy free or vegan and they are also much lower in sugar than other chocolates. Utterly divine, it just shows how delicious vegan options can be.
Price: £8.50
Bought at: Hotel Chocolat
Score: 9/10

Monday, 17 April 2017

Marks and Spencer All Butter Easter Cookies

Another M&S Easter related review as we sadly get to the end of the Easter bank holiday weekend. Still a good M&S biscuit makes the thought of work tomorrow a little more bearable and it is only a four day week.

M&S cookies are always pretty good although seasonally themed biscuits can be a little disappointing. These are easter cookies in the sense they are spice flavoured with currants and dried cranberries and lemon peel and then dusted with sugar for that artisan feel. Opening the packet p they smell fruity and you get that little hint of spice. They're good size cookies with a firm, chunky texture and are the shortbread kind of hard cookie rather than the flapjack sort.

M&S don't skimp on quality of ingredients and the all butter feature really pays off. The cookie's texture is delightfully short with a lovely shortbread taste - really crumbly and the perfect bake. It's a fairly understated biscuit and I think M&S did well to just generically call them easter cookies with spice rather than label them as hot cross buns flavoured for example.

Although fairly simple and plain, there's a delicate hint of spice throughout and I got some lovely afternotes of almond. Coupled with plenty of currants and cranberries means yo get a good fruity burst in each mouthful which complements rather than dominates the gorgeous buttery base.

They're maybe not the most exciting or indulgent cookies M&S have ever made but they are tasty, very high quality and sometimes simple works well. With all that chocolate over Easter, sometimes a bit of simplicity is all you need.

Price: £2.00
Bought at: Marks and Spencer
Score: 7.5/10

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Marks and Spencer Easter Chocolate Muffin

Happy Easter eve! I have to admit I've really not embraced it that much year, I haven't bought or eaten a single egg (though expect a couple tomorrow), haven't had a creme egg or even mini eggs. I didn't have my first hot cross bun until last week even though I love them and it's all kind of passed me by a bit this year.

In an attempt to get a bit of seasonal treatiness into my life, I found these Easter chocolate muffins at the in store bakery in Marks and Spencer for the pretty reasonable price of £1. They really do look something special and I love mini eggs so anything adorned with a colourful candy shell always looks pretty appealing to me.

I don't think I've ever had anything bad from an instore bakery in M&S and the muffins looked plump and perfect with a generous splodge of chocolate ganache on top and crowned with an egg. Muffins can be disappointing sometimes but M&S have nailed this. It's so moist, ridiculously so with a gorgeous dense, rich cocoa flavour and infused with more chocolate filling so you get a delicious rich, creamy burst of extra chocolatiness in every bite.

It's everything a good muffin should be, utterly delectable, not crumbly or overly airy bur rather gooey and creamy with a deep cocoa flavour rather than just being overly sweet. The chocolate egg on the top is a nice touch. These were reviewed on Kev's Snack Reviews and although I only got to try the one on top of my muffin, I completely agree they are nicer than Cadbury mini eggs and I will try and get a whole bag of these if there are any left after Easter!

Price: £1.00
Bought at: Marks and Spencer
Nutriton per serving: 572 calories

Score: 9.5/10

Sunday, 9 April 2017

SCI MX Pro2Go Protein Cookie Oatmeal and Raisin

I'm not normally one for proper protein bars and cookies. I do look for protein in my snacks but prefer it to feel more natural. This kind of protein product always feels a bit steriody bodybuilder for my liking. I've bought things like Quest bars in the past, which everyone raves about but I just find them so artificial.

This promises a whopping 23g protein and promises to deliver it in cookie form. Sounds too good to be true. I wasn't sure what to expect and when opened up, initially I thought it didn't have that proper cookie with a kind of anaemic colour and texture and odd slightly artificial milky smell (from the protein). It's also very soft - soft enough to smush with your thumb but it also holds together - it's not a dry, crumbly cookie but instead quite like a dough.

However, it actually taste pretty decent for a protein cookie and a million times nicer than the likes of Quest bar. It's not as good as a real cookie but it doesn't taste overly sweet or artificial and it's not chalky or hard going to eat.

It's a nice soft eat with a mild sweetness and generic oat taste. The raisins are nice and sweet and juicy and with a good mix of spices (cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and caraway), it's actually fairly tasty. I guess my only concern is the use of artificial sweetness sucralose but having said that it's lower in sugars than a cookie and the ingredients list is quite short for this kind of product.With the whopping 23g protein (albeit at a hefty 300 calories) it's got to be better than a standard biscuit. Not necessarily my kind of thing but one for weightlifters for sure

Nutrition per cookie: 300 calories, 9.2g fat, 3.3g sat fat, 5.3g sugars, 23g protein, 0.53g salt

Friday, 7 April 2017

Leon The Ruby Red Porridge Review

Pret is always my go to when grabbing a breakfast on the go but on my latest venture through Birmingham New St, I decided to give Leon a while purely on the base of this new ruby red porridge they've introduced. It's dairy free and made with cashew milk instead along with organic oats. Cashew milk is one of my favourite nut milk and I've made porridge with it myself and it's delicious so thought this was onto a winner.

In addition it comes a strawberry, blackcurrant and raspberry compote and a splodge of almond butter for even more nutty goodness. Mine didn't come out anywhere near as pretty as the store photo but it smelt yummy and looked good. I also bought an americano and was pleased to see Leon offer cute glass bottles of almond milk you can add to it for a dairy free option.

My goodness, this porridge is amazing! Something about the thick, stickiness of almond butter in conjunction with a sweet compote that is so fruity works amazingly. It feels so naughty and indulgent yet it's all wholefoods. The porridge itself is creamy and warming and just all comes together for a really filling and nourishing breakfast.

This coupled with a lovely lady who served me means this will be something I will definitely be going back for,

Price: £4.25 for a breakfast deal of porridge and a hot drink
Bought at: Leoon
Nutrition per serving: 294 calories, 8g protein, 9g sugars, 11g fat, 2g sat fat, 0.6g salt

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Planet Organic Energise Raw 46 Bar - Goji, Pumpkin Seed and Hemp Protein

I love a raw bar so when I saw these Planet Organic bars in my local Boots I had to have them. I've never actually been to a Planet Organic as they are all in London so was eager to give these bars a go. Like most of these healthy bars in the market, these are vegan, raw, gluten free, paleo and organic. What makes this difference? Well firstly the ingredients list is a bit different -unlike Nakd bars which rely on natural flavours, this is made of dates like other bars but also contains cashew butter, almond butter, pumpkin seed paste and hemp protein.

This means the bar is lower in sugars than many of these raw bars at only 9.1g (natural) sugars per bar and it means it has more protein with 4.6g per bar. Flavour then comes through from goji berries and vanilla.

Opening it up, although smaller in weight at 30g vs a 35g Nakd bar, it looks bigger due to a flatter and wider surface. It smells appetising and there's lots of texture in it and pieces in it,

It's maybe not as flavoursome as a Nakd bar as it's not an exciting flavour like carrot cake or bakewell tart but I really enjoyed it. It's fruity but with more texture and little crunchy bits of seed in. The nut butters add a creaminess and thick mouthfeel that feels more substantial. It feels like you're getting more of a bar and with its better nutritionals, it's maybe a good choice for a pre gym bar (which is what I've been using them for) rather than a treat bar.

Nutrition per bar: 126 calories, 6.4g fat, 1g sat, 9.1g sugars, 2.9g fibre, 4.6g protein
Score: 8/10