Thursday, 28 July 2016
Phew, two M&S reviews in just over a week and I still have more in the archives! I don't actually shop at M&S regularly, but when I do I keep my eye out for those reduced price yellow stickers, you never know what products are going to get the yellow sticker treatment!
One of the latest to catch my eye was this box of After Dinner Coffee chocolates, which were reduced to £1.35. It's a box of white, milk and dark chocolates with coffee truffle fillings. I love coffee and chocolate so I was very excited to see how these would taste...
I started off with the white chocolate one, because white chocolate and coffee is usually a winning combination. It tasted okay, the white chocolate was a bit basic but the filling had a strong coffee flavour, but somehow it didn't work as well as I'd hoped, maybe because these were close to the sell by date...I'm not sure, but it seemed a little unexciting fot a coffee chocolate.
The milk chocolate one was a bit better...the milk chocolate distracted more from the coffee filling, but it was still a bit bland overall.
The dark chocolate one was just as disappointing as the others...a little one dimensional and boring. In fact I ended up giving them away...something I hardly ever do with chocolate!
Overall, this is a rather bland collection of chocolates from M&S, and at the regular price it's way over priced...I'd recommend one of their mixed chocolate collections instead.
6 out of 10.
Tuesday, 26 July 2016
Healthier foods really are the "hip" thing at the moment, unfortunately though peas have never been that hip...but it looks like one company wants to change that...so they've called their new chickpea based snacks Hippeas. Genius! The credentials for these Chickpea Puffs are very impressive indeed: they're organic, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, contain no MSG and are high in fibre and protein to boot. As well as that they're on a social mission to give back for every bag of Hippeas sold.
I found this particular variety "Pepper Power" in Wh Smiths...there's other flavours but this one appealed to me the most. It contains 90 calories per bag, 4g fat, 10.9g carbohydrates, 1.6g fibre and 2.8g protein. They're made with a blend of chickpeas, whole rice, sunflower oil and pepper seasoning.
Opening the pack revealed some Wotsit-shaped puffs...they certainly had a nice peppery aroma.
And they tasted great! They were crunchy, light and moreish, with a good dose of peppery flavouring. Pepper doesn't always work with crisp style snacks, but here it does perfectly. They felt very satisfying to eat, they're more robust and filling than regular crisps, and don't taste too salty or over-seasoned.
Overall, if you're looking for a healthier snacking option that has actual nutritional benefits, you can't go wrong with these! Look out for them in the likes of WH Smiths, Boots etc.
8.5 out of 10.
Monday, 25 July 2016
Nakd Wholefoods have released three new bars onto the healthy snacks market, one being the Carrot Cake Limited Edition I reviewed yesterday, and the others being Apricot Crunch (I'm yet to find one...boo!) and this, Peanut Delight. Like all Nakd bars it's vegan and paleo friendly, as well as gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, raw and vegetarian. This bar contains 149 calories, 7.5g fat and 14.6g carbs (13.6g of which is sugars). The bars cost 75p in Asda's Free From sections.
Unlike most Nakd bars, this doesn't contain cashew nuts as one of the main ingredients...instead it contains...can you guess?...go on, try!
Peanuts of course! Yes, surprisingly this Peanut Delight bar contains peanuts as the only nut ingredient (which technically isn't actually a nut...but let's not go there!) as well as dates, sea salt and a hint of mysterious, unspecified natural flavouring.
Now I'm a big lover of all things peanutty, so I had high expectations of this from the get go. But sadly, it wasn't quite what I'd hoped and expected. It's a nice enough bar, with plenty of chunky peanutty goodness, but somehow it doesn't blend very well with the dates...the flavours clash. I wanted to like it, I really did...but it just wasn't working for me. I can't help but think using some actual peanut butter might have been nicer, but I'm guessing that since Nakd bars are "raw" and never heated, they used unroasted peanuts...which let's be honest, don't taste as nice, even if they're healthier.
Overall, I was very surprised this bar wasn't as great as I'd expected; I enjoyed the Carrot Cake one a lot more, but in hindsight I can see why this was never going to live up to my expectations - raw peanuts just don't taste that nice. Who agrees? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
7 out of 10.
Sunday, 24 July 2016
I've been after this new Limited Edition Nakd bar ever since it came out...sad I know, but I do love me some uniquely flavoured healthy snacks! I've been steadily trying everything Nakd make now for a good while and most of it I've enjoyed, but this new flavour as well as the Peanut Delight and Apricot Crunch have eluded me...it took a trip to one of the larger Asdas in my area to finally obtain one!
This cost 75p, which is about standard for a Nakd bar, and was situated in the Free From section alongside the new Peanut Delight (review of that one due shortly!) Sadly they didn't have Apricot Crunch...boo :(
It's vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, 1 of your 5 a day, contains no added sugars and is completely raw. The specific ingredients comprise of dates, walnuts, raisins, almonds, cashews, carrots, cinnamon and a hint of natural flavouring; pretty much all the things that make carrot cake unique. For once the cashews were lower on the list at 5%, with the walnuts at 20%, which makes a nice change for a Nakd bar since cashews are usually most predominant. The bar contains 148 calories, 7.6g fat and 16.2g carbs (15.6 of which are sugars).
Onto the most important thing, then...the taste! As you can see in the pic above there were actual carrot pieces visible in the bar, making it look as authentic as it tasted. And it did taste of carrot cake! It was pretty much the same dense, fudgey, nutty, spicy amalgamation as a regular carrot cake in bar form, which is quite the achievement! I loved it, and soon scoffed the whole bar whislt wishing I had another one...
Overall, I have to say Nakd have really struck gold with this new flavour...it's the nicest I've tried in a while, and such a unique flavour that I think it deserves to be more than just a limited edition. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a very high demand for it...stock up while you can! (It's available on their website at eatnakd.com if you can't find it in Asda).
8.5 out of 10.
Friday, 22 July 2016
When this Made Without Wheat Blackcurrant Ripple Cake appeared in M&S recently I was practically elbowing people out of the way to buy one...okay, not really, but I was in spirit! It's mighty hard to get good gluten free cakes but this one looked and sounded amazing...it's a moist gluten free loaf cake with Blackcurrant sauce running through it, topped off with buttercream and extra Blackcurrant ripples. What could be better?
I must admit I do find it odd that M&S chose Blackcurrant as the main flavour for this cake, after all it's not a very common or popular flavour...raspberry or lemon are usually the go to cake fillings with good reason. I guess they wanted something that would stand out!
And stand out it does! This is a very rich, heavy going cake. The buttercream is sweet and buttery, but it was almost a bit too much for me. The Blackcurrant sauce gives a nice fruity kick but to be honest, combined with the rich buttercream it was all just a bit too much. Something lighter like raspberry or even passionfruit might have been more appropriate. The cake itself was just okay...it wasn't as dry as some gluten free cakes but it wasn't brimming with moisture and lightness either. I can't help but suspect the heavy buttercream and strong Blackcurrant flavour were meant to deflect attention from it.
Overall, I really don't mean this to come off as a negative review because as it stands, this is a tasty gluten free cake compared to what most supermarkets are offering. But it could be much better, and I hope to see yet more innovation in the Free From world...us gluten free folks demand cake, and we demand it now! I hope to see a gluten free Red Velvet cake one day...please consider it, M&S!
7.5 out of 10.
Thursday, 21 July 2016
It's Summer, so ice cream season is officially upon us! If you're vegan or allergic to dairy however it can be mighty hard to find a decent ice cream alternative...I mean there's the Dairy Free Swedish Glacé desserts, but if you're allergic to soya they may also be off the table. Luckily there's Tesco to the rescue (perfect advertising slogan right there, they really should pay me!) with their legume-based lupin protein iced dessert. I do enjoy Tescos Free From cones, and have always wondered what the filling might be like in a tub of its own.
This is a simple vanilla flavoured iced dessert, and so far is the only tub version I'm aware of that Tesco produce. I do think it'd have been better with some raspberry ripples running through it, but it was very delicious all by itself. These cost £2 a tub although according to Tesco's website, this product is currently not available.
The dessert melts very easily and has a great creamy texture, it's very similar to regular vanilla soft scoop ice cream in fact. And it's very yummy! It melts in the mouth and is just the perfect texture. It does seem a little boring after a few mouthfuls, so it's definitely meant to be jazzed up with extras such as berries, syrup, sprinkles, biscuits or whatever you fancy. But as it stands it's the perfect creamy base for a tasty dessert.
Strangely, these have been absent from my local Tesco since I initially purchased this tub, and even Tesco's website states they're not available...either they're very popular or they've stopped producing it...if anyone knows please do leave a comment!
8 out of 10.
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
M&S have been reducing a lot of bars in their chocolate range recently, and thanks to this I've had the chance to try a few I otherwise wouldn't bother with due to the high prices. This week, it's the turn of The Milk One and The Dark One to get reductions; they're down to 30p rather than 60p. I actually wanted to turn to the Dark Side and try The Dark One but alas, The Force was strong and prevented me from indulging on this occasion...(aka there weren't any left!)
This bar is described as simply a "Solid Creamy Milk Chocolate bar" and weighs in at 32 grams. Opening the wrapper, it has curved shape blocks, a bit like the new Dairy Milk block design (they're clearly copying the same idea), with the last block helpfully saying "the last one"...perhaps propesizing the fact that I won't be buying another one of these bars!
I've tried "The White One" before which I thought was quite nice, so I had hopes this one would be good but alas, it left me disappointed. It's okay, it's sweet and creamy and what you'd expect from milk chocolate, but it's hardly mind blowing. In fact it's rather boring and I didn't feel it differed in taste much from Tesco's Value branded milk chocolate bars, which are also 30p. It was perhaps a tad creamier, but that's about all.
Overall, I'm glad I only paid 30p for this because I'd feel a bit shortchanged paying any more. It's an ok bar of chocolate, but it's not really upto the perceived quality standards M&S would like us to have of their products.
7 out of 10.
Monday, 18 July 2016
Being gluten free, it's hard to find good gluten free cakes, but luckily the choices are slowly expanding. One new gluten free product I've been itching to try are these "Authentically French Classic Madeleines" from Mrs Crimble's, who are perhaps better known for their Coconut Macaroons.
These come in both classic and chocolate varieties, and are available in Tescos Free From aisles for around £2. I didn't fancy paying that much for them, but when they appeared on a local market stall for only 69p I really couldn't say no!
The Madeleines are individually wrapped, making them perfect to take out and about for a quick snack.
Opening the wrapper, it had a nice fresh, vanilla cakey aroma. I couldn't wait to eat one with a cuppa!
I took a bite...the cake is very nice, with a fresh vanilla hinted flavour - you can tell this is an authentic Madeleine recipe. However what let it down was the dryness of the cake...at first it's not too noticeable, but after chewing it for a while it becomes quite evident. I don't know if that's due to these being gluten free or if they were slightly spoiled, but it did take away my enjoyment of them.
Overall, it's nice to see some gluten free cakes like this, but personally I won't be buying these again as they're a bit too dry. I'll stick to Mrs Crimbles Macaroons instead!
7 out of 10.
Thursday, 14 July 2016
I've been eyeing up these new "Almond & Raisin Raw Choc Brownies" from Pulsin Foods for a while now, ever since they appeared in the Tesco Free From aisle. They were reduced to £2 a box recently (still expensive!) so I thought I'd give them a whirl. They're gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian, soya free and contain no GM ingredients.
Each box contains 3 individually wrapped 35g bars, and the ingredients consist of cashews, dates, chicory fibre, almonds, raw cacao, raisins, brown rice bran, cacao butter, grape juice, rice starch, sea salt and green tea extract. Phew, that's a lot of ingredients...thank goodness they are healthy ones! Each brownie contains 149 calories, 8.3g fat, 12.8g carbs and 3.6g protein.
I was disappointed when I removed one of the brownies from it's wrapper...it was a tiny, squidgy looking thing. I had expected these to be small but I didn't expect them to be this small! The smell reminded me of other similar products such as Nakd bars, not chocolatey as such but there was a definite raw cacao aroma.
Despite being described as brownies, these didn't live up to the name...they were stodgy but not Cakey, and surpringly not that chocolatey, the cashews and dates were far more prominent. They're more of a glorified Nakd bar really. There were pieces of chopped nut throughout which I found unpleasant in texture, they were too jarring for what's supposed to be a brownie.
Overall, I hate to be negative about such a healthy product, but I do feel these are overpriced and don't deliver what they promise. Firstly the high price doesn't really justify the amount you're getting, secondly they're not remotely brownie like and shouldn't pretend to be (I've had raw vegan brownies before that were much more authentic than these). They're still rather high in sugars at 9.7g per 35g bar, even if they're from dates rather than refined sugar.
If you've tried these I'd like to hear your thoughts...were you as disappointed as me? Let me know in the comments!
6 out of 10.
Wednesday, 13 July 2016
I was recently offered to review the new Extra Strong Sugar Free Polos, and as I haven't had Polos in years I thought why not...I'm always trying to reduce my sugar intake so I can't pass up a new sugar free product!
I was sent some regular Sugar Free Polos as well as the Extra Strong for comparison purposes. Those tasted just as I remember; a pleasant sweet minty flavour that is all too easy to eat too many of. Which you wouldn't want to do, since eating too many has "unintended effects", and you all know what I mean...
The Extra Strong ones definitely had an edge over the regular variety, they were a lot bolder in their minty flavour, very strong indeed. These are sweetened with sorbitol, a type of polyol sweetener. I did like these but to be honest, sugar free mints annoy me simply because they'e so addictive and easy to mindlessly suck on all day...yet the "unintended effects" of the sweeteners mean you have to be careful of doing just that.
Overall, these are nice mints and a good alternative if you need to avoid the sugar...just be careful of eating too many!
7.5 out of 10.
Monday, 11 July 2016
It's summer, which means it's supposed to be ice cream season...yet in true British style the weather has been constantly changeable and you need a brolly with you just in case of a downpour. Still...that doesn't mean we can't enjoy ice cream right?!
I found this Truly Irresisible Sea-Salted Caramel with Cornish sea salt in The Co Op when it was on offer for around £1.75...it contains ripples of salted caramel sauce running through caramel ice cream, which contains West Country whole milk and double cream.
It was a very rich and creamy ice cream, with plenty of salted caramel goodness. This doesn't skimp on the salt yet it isn't too overpowering either...it's got the balance just right. It's a very moreish ice cream, rich and creamy, and could just about rival the big boys of the ice cream world like Haagen Dazs.
Overall, a very tasty ice cream, look out for these on the inevitable special offers over the next few months. The Co Op also do some interesting ice cream varieties like Colombian Coffee, Rhubarb and Ginger and Lemon Curd...I'd love to try the Coffee one!
8 out of 10.
Sunday, 10 July 2016
Recently my local Poundstretcher has been selling bags of these Mega M&Ms at two for a Pound, which seems like an absolute steal. After all not only are you getting M&Ms, but M&Ms that are three times bigger than standard...what more could you want right?
Opening the pack revealed the usual brightly coloured chocolate beans, albeit much larger.
And they tasted pretty much as you'd expect, a bit more chocolatey but still very sweet thanks to the crunchy coloured shells. In fact the larger size highlighted just how sweet the chocolate in M&Ms actually is...I'd never noticed it before but it's very sweet indeed. These were a nice snack, but did become a bit one dimensional after a while.
Overall, these are a nice novelty but not something I can see sticking around...the original and peanut M&Ms are still the best. It did make me wonder though...why don't Mars UK bring out a more interesting M&Ms variety for us...oh I don't know...the peanut butter variety perhaps?! You know it makes sense Mars UK!
7.5 out of 10.
Saturday, 9 July 2016
This costs £1 a bag and is made by Toad-Ally Snax, one of the oddest company names I've heard in a while...it's a company originating from Bristol, PA (that's Bristol in Pensylvania, not Britain!). You get 85g popcorn per bag and it's described as "white chocolate drizzled birthday cake flavoured popcorn". It's also got baking sprinkles all over it too (complete with food colourings that "may have an adverse effect on attention in children").
I poured the popcorn into a bowl, it had a very sweet aroma, more so than most white chocolate does. Suspiciously reading the ingredients list, I found that it's "fake" white chocolate made up of palm oil, whey, vanilla and birthday cake flavour (how on earth can you make birthday cake into a flavouring anyway?)
I scooped up a small handful and took a bite...wow, this is very sweet, but addictive popcorn! I don't know if it was the birthday cake flavour or the sprinkles, but it was like popcorn crack...seriously, seriously addictive! The crunchiness from the sprinkles and the popcorn, combined with the sweetness of the vanilla birthday cake coating is simply the perfect combination.
What can I say...I'm so glad I caved in and tried this popcorn, it's super sweet and sickly and full of colourings, but it's also highly moreish and addictive and may just be one of the best new snacks around. Forget your low calorie, wholegrain "healthy" popcorns and go for this instead...you won't be sorry!
8.5 out of 10.
Thursday, 7 July 2016
I recently reviewed the new Thorntons Fruit Collection, and at first I wasn't going to bother with any more, until I noticed that this Toffee, Fudge & Caramel Collection also contains some new chocolates! Yes, this pack contains the new "Granola Fudge" as well as a white chocolate "Nutty Caramel", plus a dark chocolate Fudge, a milk chocolate "Gooey Caramel" and a "Tempting Toffee". These cost £1 a bag at WH Smiths or two bags are £1.60 mix and match.
First up is the Tempting Toffee...this one had a truffley toffee flavoured centre coated in milk chocolate. It was very pleasant and rich, with a nice creamy flavour.
Next up was this Nutty Caramel, which is a white chocolate containing praline and gooey caramel. It was very yummy indeed..the perfect balance of sticky flavoursome caramel with a creamier white chocolate coating. The praline wasn't as noticeable, but it did give a faint nutty flavour that complimented the rest of the chocolate. Very yummy indeed.
I'm not sure if this one is new or not, but I've not seen a dark chocolate Creamy Fudge from Thorntons before. It was very nice, in fact better than the milk chocolate variety as the darker chocolate gave it a more flavoursome edge that balanced out the sweetness of the fudge.
Last but not least, the new Granola Fudge...this is a simple fudge containing oat flakes for the granola, coated in milk chocolate. Initially I couldn't really taste the oat flakes but as I chewed the fudge they were there in the background giving a slight chewy texture. Nice, but it could have been better...I'd have expected some raisins or something to make it a true granola.
There were also some milk chocolate Gooey Caramels in the bag, which I didn't take a pic of since I ate them so quickly! Needless to say they were lovely; soft and buttery with a rich flavour.
Overall, I have to say this is a lovely collection of chocolates from Thorntons, and I feel like they've stepped up their game in terms of quality and new varieties. All the flavours and textures offer something worthwhile, making this bag a worthy purchase for the price.
8.5 out of 10.
After reading One Treat aka Marmey's review of this special fruit and nut mix from The Co Op, I decided I just had to try it...I'm a big coffee lover and am yet to find a good coffee and chocolate combo. But the search continues...and this fruit and nut mix may just be the answer! These cost £1 for a 50g bag in The Cop and are suitable for vegetarians as well as gluten free.
The mixture is made up of raisins, roasted hazelnuts, coffee flavour milk chocolate buttons, and plain chocolate coated coffee beans. And it's a winning combination! It's just the right amount of differing flavours and textures; there's the creamy coffee flavoured buttons, which are probably better than most coffee flavoured chocolates I've tried - not too bitter and not too sweet, the richer coffee beans with their intense roasted coffee flavour, and the welcoming nuttiness from the hazelnuts, all finished off with some sweet fruity bursts from the raisins.
This is a surprisingly effective combination...who needs sugar bombs like Revels when there's something like this that's both tastier and healthier!
8.5 out of 10.
Wednesday, 6 July 2016
A big thank you to One Treat aka Marmey for alerting me to these new Free From Iced Desserts at Sainsbury's recently! I've reviewed quite a few dairy free desserts now and am always on the lookout for more, I do much prefer dairy free stuff for its lightness in taste so I was looking forward to these!
They're part of Sainsbury's new rebranded free from range, with new packaging and healthier products. They're gluten, dairy and soya free, suitable for vegans and vegetarians... and pretty much everyone! There's three flavours of Iced Desserts, Strawbery, Chocolate & Vanilla, they didn't have the Vanilla ones when I was there so I'm just reviewing Strawberry & Chocolate for now.
The strawberry one is made with water, coconut milk, strawberries, sugar, inulin, coconut cream, dextrose and guar gum.
It had a nice, fresh and fruity flavour, but tasted more like a sorbet than an ice cream. The coconut milk gives it an odd taste that's somewhere in-between creamy and sorbet...it's not bad, in fact it's very light and refreshing, it's just not really ice cream. They haven't billed these as an ice cream alternative, so fair enough. This would go perfectly with some fresh fruit as a light dessert.
The Chocolate Iced Dessert had a similar mixture of coconut milk, water, cocoa powder, inulin etc, with the addition of xylitol as well as sugar.
I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the strawberry variety, the sorbet-like texture doesn't quite work as well with chocolate.
It's still a nice, light and refreshing dessert, with a good cocoa flavour, but again the coconut milk gives it a somewhat odd taste that doesn't quite pair up with the cocoa flavour.
Overall, I feel these new Free From desserts from Sainsburys are a mixed bag. As a creamier version of sorbet they work perfectly, the strawberry one is one I'd enjoy again with fresh fruit, but ice cream alternatives they are not.
These are a good dessert if you're dairy free or vegan, it's always nice to have more alternatives, but to be honest I'll stick to Tesco's Free From iced dessert (review due soon).
7 out of 10.