Saturday 25 February 2017

Pret Dairy Free Chocolatey Coconut Bite

Whenever I see a Pret I always tend to go for my lunch there as there's not one in my town and I love their on trend, healthy and fresh choices. Pret is also great for vegetarian and vegan food with ever more veggie choices. Along with one of the new coconut lattes (which I fully recommend) and a vegan salad, I bought this dairy free bar on impulse at the till.

Costing a slightly expensive but not ridiculous £1.20, this bar is vegan made only with creamed coconut, dessiccated coconut, dairy free dark chocolate, natural vanilla flavouring, carob syrup, coconut oil and salt so all very clean.

Initially what I expected was a more raw, earthy kind of bar but with my first bar, my expectations were severely overthrown - this tastes literally like a bounty bar!!! I thought it would be dry but it's so rich and creamy, really chocolatey and totally indulgent. No one would be able to tell it was vegan or dairy free, it's that tasty.

The inside is more crumbly than maybe a bounty and you do get in a slight mess with it but that's because this contains so may real coconut that is fudgy and creamy rather than fake syrups with coconut flavour. If you like coconut in any way, you'll love this. The dark chocolate is also very high quality. It's only a thin coating with the focus on the coconut inside but it adds a nice counter point and melts beautifully in the mouth with the coconut.

However, one small word of caution, this little 34g contains a whopping 15g sat fat and 200 calories so don't go thinking they're guilt free. However, it does have less sugar in that a standard chocolate bar with just 5.8g vs around 25g or more.

When vegan food this is tasty, I just wish such choices were more widely available. Nice one Pret.

Price: £1.20
Bought at: Pret
Nutrition per bar: 205 calories, 17.9g fat, 15.4 sat fat, 5.8g sugars, 0g salt

Monday 20 February 2017

Foodloose SMU:DI Raw Smoothie Bar

Bit of a weird snack today. I actually got this bar from a health food in Portugal although it appears to be a German company and made in Germany. Germany has quite a big organic market and this raw smoothie bar is made from organic organic ingredients as well as being vegan and paleo.

What also make this a bit different is its flavour and ingredients. Spinach, mint and orange is a far cry from the flavours we get from Nakd and this is a fruit, vegetable and seed bar with some pretty out there ingredients like moringa and and hemp. Opening it up, it has a nice fruity smell that smells quite refreshing and uplifting - it's less of a sweet sticky date-like smell than the Nakd bars and it's also less squat with a larger surface area and less dense texture that is slightly chewier.

Made up of dates, sultanas, sunflower seeds, almonds, peeled hemp seeds, dried and ground spinach, cold press avocado oil, moringa leaf powder, dried and ground orange and dried and ground mint, it doesn't have the date flavour you get from a lot of cold pressed bars.

But it also doesn't have a green or overly vegetable flavour from spinach or avocado. Instead, it's the citrus freshness and zing of orange and uplifting mint that really shine through. It's definitely feels good for you with quality ingredients and all plant based but tastes really like light and tasty.

I'd love to see these available in the UK as they're just a bit different to other raw bars out there, less sweet but with a more complex flavour and less fudge texture.

Nutrition per bar: 139 calories, 6g fat, 0.6g sat fat, 14g sugars, 0.04g salt
Score: 8/10

Saturday 18 February 2017

Waitrose Kiwi Avocado and Matcha Tea Yogurt - Waitrose Vegetable Yogurts

I've been waiting a while for vegetable yogurts to start hitting the shelves in the UK. It's been a thing in the US for a while now but may be starting to hit our shores. We had the Skyr yogurts with veg last year but these were fairly tame - Apple, ginger and carrot and Beetroot and rhubarb.

Waitrose's new range of yogurts with vegetables are much more extreme. There's

Apple, Carrot, Beetroot and Ginger
Carrot, Mango and Guarana
Pineapple, Butternut Squash and Turmeric
Kiwi, Avocado and Matcha Tea

These are still more sweet yogurts than savoury with 11% kiwi vs 5% avocado but for a flavoured yogurt the sugar is lower at 9.5% when some brands like Onken or Yeo Valley are typically around 13%. And with 11% kiwi fruit there's more fruit than most fruit yogurts too.

It's a pretty cool bright green in my option and the consistency is good. It's runny and moves around when you tilt the pot so not as thick as greek yogurt but it is still plesantly creamy and rich in the mouth. It's got a really unusual flavour which I loved - definitely not as sweet as normal yogurt with a real sharpness and acidity which is aided by lime juice. It's sharp and fresh tasting but not savoury.

I wouldn't say this was for everyone. It's not mainstream tasting but it's unusual with a real complex flavour that I loved. The matcha tea is a bit of red herring - it's such a small amount you can't taste it and you won't get much of its benefits but this is something I would make a trip specifically to Waitrose for. I'd still like to see the sugar content reduced down further but it's a pretty healthy product overall with 6g of protein and added vitamin D giving you 31% of your daily vitamin D which is great with yogurt to help absorb the calcium in it.

Definitely a range I'm keen to explore.

Friday 10 February 2017

Aldi Paleo Bar Review - The Foodie Market Macadamia and Coconut

Although there is a lot of excitement around Aldi's freefrom range, I have to admit I find it a little lacklustre compared to other supermarkets. Don't get me wrong, it's great they're doing affordable health foods but the range is so much less interesting than the other supermarkets - case in point these macadamia and coconut paleo bars. They also have a brazil nut and cherr paleo bar and a cashew crush bar very similar to the Nakd Cashew cookie bar. All very well and good and made with clean ingredients at an absolute steal (these are 39p vs a 75p Nakd bar) but you can't help admit that Bounce and Nakd etc have much more treaty and interesting flavours.

Nevertheless I thought it would be worth giving them a try, a 39p it's hardly going to break the bank. To be fair to Aldi, this is just as good quality as any other raw bar - it's just natural ingredients - dates (49%), cashews (21%) , macadamias (20%), coconut (10%) and almond oil. Macadamias aren't cheap nuts and it's good to see Aldi haven't skimped on the ingredients.

It's obviously refined sugar free, gluten free and it's cold pressed and although listed as suitable for vegetarians, looks to actually be suitable for vegans. Opening it up, it's a nice, chunky bar (45g vs a 35g Nakd bar) with a coconutty smell.

You get the taste of coconut very strongly but a real raw, earthy coconut rather than a sweet, creamy coconut. The dates keep things sweet and it's tasty but not exceptional. It more than fulfils the role of a healthy bar to fuel your day but it's functional rather than a taste extravaganza. I'd probably buy it again as I liked it but it's hard to feel like this is a treat.

Price: 39p
Bought at: Aldi

Score: 7/10

Thursday 9 February 2017

Deliciously Ella Ball Review - Deliciously Ella Cacao and Almond Ball

I'm a big fan of Deliciously Ella - I've made my diet a lot more plant based over the last year and I find her recipes really simple, easy, quick and come up with tasty results. I'm also a big fan of any kind of healthy snack or energy ball and my cupboards are full of Nakd bars, Bounce Balls, Trek etc so I finally got round to buying one of the deliciously ella balls from her cafe, the Mae Deli, when I was in London last week.

The range also includes raisin and hazelnut and cashew and ginger but I went for this one partly as I love anything cacao flavoured and also it had a lower (natural) sugar content than the others. It feels like a premium product with a good quality wrapper, nice design and I love how she gives the recipe for the ball on the pack so you can make them yourself at home if you want to. This is just 3 dates, 8 almonds, 1 tsp cacao, almond butter, coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt - all very clean ingredients, natural, plant based and suitable for vegans.

Opening it up I was slightly disappointed that the ball was smaller than the pack would lead me to believe (I was expecting something bounce ball sized) but nevertheless it looked lovely and smooth.

It has a deliciously rich, fudgy texture and you get both the sweetness of dates combined with earthy rich cacao flavour with a nice salty subtle backtone which complements and emphasises the roasted almonds. It feels filling and like it's giving you energy and it was really tasty. And although I felt it was a little small, it did fill me up nicely.

I was really impressed with this and it would be great to see the Deliciously Ella brand expand and move into other foods as well!

Price: £1.99
Available at: Holland and Barrett
Nutrition per ball: 173 calories, 11.1g fat, 2.2g sat fat, 12.7g sugars, 2.9g fibre, 5g protein, 0.11g salt

Score: 8.5/10

Sunday 5 February 2017

Ryvita Thins Caramelised Onion Flatbreads

Ryvita Thins are something that is always a staple in my household. Ever since they first came out, I've just found them such a handy store cupboard snack - I can use them in lunch, they make an instant snack with hummus and dips and I even enjoy eating them on their own. There has never been one in the range I haven't enjoyed so when I saw they released a caramelised onion flavour, it was a no brainer.

They are essentially the same as all other Ryvita Thins - wheat and rye flatbreads that are super thin with a nice crunch, this time with the addition of toasted onion, nigella seeds and sugar. How odd for a company nowadays to call out sugar - but these aren't high in sugar with 0.5g per bite. Each one is also 27 calories and they are low fat. These Ryvita Thins are also accidentally vegan as well.

Opening my pack it was a rare nice surprise to see every single thin in the whole pack was intact as I usually find these are one of the worst products to get snapped and broken before you open them - not that this spoils their taste and I tend to break them up when I use them anyway.

I had them on their own just to get the taste and indeed there is a pleasant slightly sweet caramelised onion flavour. It's flavourful and impactful when you're eating them plain but also fades away when dipped in things as well they don't overpower whatever you top them with making them very versatile. I quite like the idea of dipping them in a fondue as per the suggestion on the front of pack.

It's another tasty addition to the range - I wouldn't say it was better or worse than any of the other Ryvita Thins out there, just another delicious one to add to the collection if you like them.

Price: £1.90
Bought at: Sainsburys
Nutrition per flatbread: 27 calories, 0.4g fat, 0.1g sat fat, 0.5g sugars, 0.05g salt

Score: 8/10

Nature Valley Popcorn Salted Caramel, Almond and Pretzel

Salted caramel, almond and pretzel - the moment I saw this new addition to the Nature Valley popcorn bar range, I had to try it. Three flavours I loved and when mixed with popcorn, I thought this would offer loads of different textures and flavours - exactly the kind of snack I like. Nature Valley have launched lots of new bars to the range recently with a peanut butter flavour of their crunchy oat bars, this addition to the popcorn bars and a new sweet and salty nut range (in dark chocolate and peanut versions) so well worth checking out if you're a fan of the brand.

This new addition to the popcorn range is another lighter snack bar with only 89 calories per bar (probably because of the airy nature of popcorn) and with 4.4g sugars per bar as well so a nice lower sugar snack. It's a chewy popcorn bar with bits of almond and pretzel in and then a smooth, creamy salted caramel coating on the bottom.

Each bar is only 20g and at 89 calories it does look quite small when unwrapped but not as small as I expected, which was a nice surprise. Biting in it's a fairly airy bar with a slight resistance and brittleness but one that is quite easy to eat - not hard and crunchy but not soft either. Unfortunately I found the bar a real let down.

The salted caramel undercoating is the dominant flavour and whilst not awful, it's not super delicious - just a fairly standard sweet generic caramel flavour without being a high quality smooth rich caramel and I wouldn't necessarily call it salted either. The problem with this is that every mouthful although you do get a fair few textures all taste the same. I could feel the odd bit of almond here and there and the odd pretzel piece but I definitely couldn't taste them and there also weren't enough of them.

It's the lack of pretzel that really disappointed me. I love salty pretzel against sweet things (particularly the Cadbury Chocolate covered pretzels - do they even make those any more?) and this was totally lacking. It's probably better than a lot of light bars like the Alpen Lights which again I find  bit monotonous but I can't helped wishing I just stayed with one of the Nature Valley bars I know I like. This just isn't very exciting.

Price: £2.80
Bought at: Sainsburys (currently at £1.50)
Nutrition per bar: 89 calories, 4.2g fat, 1.7g sat fat, 4.4g sugars, 0.2g salt

Score: 5/10

Saturday 4 February 2017

Aldi Full of Goodness Mediterranean Quinoa with wheatberries, tomatoes and black olives

Whilst Aldi generally isn't the most exciting place for new treats or interesting food finds, I use it a lot for a lot of healthy staples and quite often they do surprise you, such as the day I found this microwaveable quinoa pouch next t the mircrowaveable rice - considering the likes of Uncle Ben's charge almost twice the price for something that is mostly rice with about 2% quinoa in, it was good to find something that lived up more to the quinoa name - although it is 20% quinoa vs 58% wheatberries...

Along with the wheatberries and quinoa, it also contains tomatoes, olive oil, olives, rehydrated tomatoes, ground pepper and sugar (why of why do they have to add sugar to this?). At 179 calories per half pack it's fairly healthy with 5g of protein and not too sugary (1.5g) and not as salty as some microwaveable pouches (0.69g per half pack)

 Opening the bag after microwaving, it looked fairly decent if not a little beige and uninspiring, it had quite strong wholegrain smell with hints of olive.

It made a pretty quick and easy lunch with falafel and salad (and my beloved ChicP turmeric hummus) but in all honestly was a little bland. I like olives but the olive taste in this is really strong and quite sickly after a while (maybe because it's an ambient pouch product rather than fresh products). The texture is a little soft and 'gruelly' and whilst it was fine as a side, you couldn't make this into a main dish. The tomatoes also didn't really come through - partly as the olive taste is so prominent.

It's not an awful product by any means and pretty healthy for what it is as well as being quick and easy and it might be useful for a work lunch but overall it was a little dull and something I wouldn't rush back to Aldi for,

Bought at: Aldi
Nutrition per half pack 125g: 179 calories, 5.1g fat, 0.9g sat fat, 1.5g sugars, 0.69g salt

Friday 3 February 2017

Bounce Protein Energy Bites Review Coconut and Cranberry

Although I wasn't as impressed by the Cacao and Almond Bounce bites I first tried compared to their Bounce balls, I went back to try the coconut and cranberry version. My problem with the first bounce bites I tried wa that they lacked that really dense, fudgy, chewy texture that give you a real jaw workout. However, I did enjoy them as well and as I love coconut thought I couldn't go to wrong with these.

Bounce bites are little flat squat discs made up of natural ingredients and a good mix of carbs, fats and protein without refined sugars. In this case the ingredients are:

Cranberries (Pineapple Juice Syrup, Cranberries, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Oil) (22%),
Whey Protein Concentrate (from Milk) (13%), Cashews (Nuts) (13%), Coconut (12%), Sunflower Seeds (11%), Gluten Free Grain Dextrins (from Brown Rice), Currants, Whey Protein Isolate (from Milk) (6%), Rice Flour, Water, Soya Lecithin (Emulsifier), Vegetable Oil

They smelt quite fruity and coconutty as soon as I opened the packet. Having got used to the texture of bounce bites versus bounce balls, I didn't get that initial disappointment this time around. I do still definitely prefer the texture of bounce balls, they just feel so substantial and indulgent. These are a lot firmer with a slightly odd offmilky aftertaste. But it's not altogether unpleasant just a little odd.

What I have found these incredibly useful for is quick out the door energy burst on the way to the gym first thing in the morning. I can just have four of these and I feel I have the energy to hit the gym without being weighed down. As such the mini bite format and portionability of these with a resealable bag is really useful. Looking back I think I prefer the cacao almond ones but I have enjoyed these as well.

Price: £2.99
Bought at: Holland and Barrett
Nutrition per 30g: 127 calories, 6.3g fat, 2.4g sat fat, 7.8g sugars. 6.3 protein, 0.03g salt

Score: 7/10