Saturday, 30 September 2017

The Primal Pantry Mixed Berries Paleo Protein Bar

The Primal Pantry Mixed Berries Paleo Protein Bar

The primal pantry have unleashed another Paleo and Vegan approved bar on the snacking market...this time with the addition of some plant protein in the mix. I spotted this bar looking for a "healthy" snack in Tesco Express and found it in the Free From section. It cost just over £2 which ain't cheap for a small bar...so is it worth it?

Thankfully it is. If you like Nakd bars or other similar healthier snacks bars you'll probably love this. It contains hemp protein, as well as coconut nectar as the sweetener (probably why these cost so much), goji berries, almonds, pumpkin seeds, raspberry, dates and apricots. There's 12g protein per 55g bar.

The Primal Pantry Mixed Berries Paleo Protein Bar

So how does it taste? Well it's actually quite yummy for a healthy snack bar! Usually my complaint with bars like his is that they're too sticky and based on dried fruit, but this has the right balance of seeds and nuts to sweeteness...the hemp protein gives it a slightly more substantial texture and is actually filling, compared to a regular fruit and nut bar. The pumpkin seeds add a nice bit of crunch and the berries bring some nice fruity bursts to keep things interesting.

The Primal Pantry Mixed Berries Paleo Protein Bar

Overall, I am pleasantly surprised by this bar...I'm not usually one to bother with protein bars, but this one doesn't taste like any regular protein bar, rather it tastes like a real food bar. I would buy one again, despite the high price point. 

8.5 out of 10. 

Friday, 29 September 2017

Madécasse Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Review

Madecasse toasted coconut dark chocolate

Some time back I was sent some Masecasse chocolates to review, and must admit I've never really heard of the brand before. It seems they're new to the UK, and their chocolates are "proudly made in Africa" with fair trade cocoa. I tried the Milk Chocolate variety recently and enjoyed it, but how does this one compare?

This contains 70% dark chocolate with bits of toasted coconut, and is suitable for vegans. The coconut is sprinkled in small pools on the underside of the bar and incorporated into the chocolate.

Made asset toasted coconut dark chocolate

The chocolate had a lovely flavour profile - rich, woody, almost fruity, the sort of thing you expect from fine cocoa. I was surprised at how flavoursome it was for a 70% chocolate - usually you get flavours like this from 80% or higher. The toasted coconut added a subtle, but welcoming toasty sweetness to the bar, but it didn't detract from the rich cocoa flavours at all. And thankfully it didn't leave annoying bits of coconut in my mouth afterwards. This is a bar to savour in small portions with a cup of coffee, or even better...hot chocolate!

Overall, this is a lovely bar of chocolate from Madecasse and exceptional quality, but maybe one for those who prefer the richer chocolates out there than the sweeter ones! Highly recommended.

8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Fini My Octopi Gluten Free Sweets

Fini My Octopi Gluten Free

There's a lot of companies making gluten free goodies nowadays, from the likes of Gullon and Fox's, but I've never tried Fini before. They're an Italian company available in some discount stores like Poundland and Bargain Buys, as well as discount sections in larger Tesco stores. I always assumed most jelly sweets were gluten free, but some can contain glucose syrup derived from wheat, so if you're very sensitive you may have problems with it. Personally, I've noticed I do indeed have issues with glucose syrup in some sweets, so it's reassuring to know there's specialist gluten free sweets out there.

Fini My Octopi Gluten Free

These My Octopi sweets from Fini struck me because they're quite unique and fun for jelly sweets...I've never seen sweets in these fun octopus shapes before!

Fini My Octopi Gluten Free

For Octopi they're pretty cute, don't ya think?!

How did they taste? Well, very nice as it happens, the quality is on par with Haribo and they were super fruity, chewy and with some good range of flavours. It was fun picking apart the little legs as I ate them (sorry!).

Overall, for sweets that are gluten free these are perfect: fun, tasty, chewy and just as good as the leading brand. If you are super sensitive to gluten keep your peepers open for these in discount stores like Poundland!

8.5 out of 10. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Califia Farms Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Califia Farms Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

There's many brands in the crowded dairy free "Mylk" market now, from the likes of Vita Coco, Plenish, Alpro, and Rude Health...but a new one muscling in on their territory is Califia Farms, a Californian brand made with non GMO ingredients, gluten and dairy free and now available from Sainsbury's and Waitrose in the UK.

The range was reduced to £2 a bottle recently in Sainsbury's, so I went for the Unsweetened Vanilla variety. This is sugar free, vegan, carageenan free and contains 2.3% almonds, and 50% more calcium than cows milk. Quite impressive! I don't drink milk anymore so it's nice to know I can get my calcium from an alternative source.

I do like the curved bottle design...it's very fancy and feels a bit me special than your standard dairy free milks.

Califia Farms Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

The milk certainly has a lovely vanilla aroma, and pouring it into a glass it was a lot creamier than I was expecting. Taste wise it was very pleasant, the vanilla is very noticeable and makes the milk taste sweeter, despite the lack of any sugar. This is a nice milk as far as almond milk goes, certainly better than any others I've tried from the likes of Alpro. It's creamy, vanilla hinted and with a nice thick texture...pretty much all you need from a milk substitute.

It also passes the hot drinks test - it blended perfectly with a cup of chai rooibos I made. Although I still haven't tested it in coffee...I will try that next!

Overall, this is a lovely Almond Milk variation, much better than others on the market like Alpro and probably healthier too. If you see these on offer I would highly recommend giving them a try! I really want to try the Coconut version next, which I've only seen in Waitrose stores so far.

Ingredients: water, almonds 2.3%, flavourings, calcium carbonate, emulsifier sunflower lecithin, sea salt, potassium ctrate, stabilizers (locust bean gum, gellan gum). 

Nutrition (per 100ml): 17 calories, 1.3g Fat, 0.8g carbohydrates, 0.1g sugars, 0.5g protein, 190mg calcium. 

8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Green & Blacks Velvet Edition Orange & Almond Dark Chocolate

Green & Blacks Velvet Edition Orange & Almond Dark Chocolate

I've been skeptical of this new "Velvet Edition" range from Green & Blacks since it suddenly started popping up on shelves over the last month or so. It seems to be a ploy to move away from the Organic ethics of regular Green & Blacks bars, since these are not organic or fairtrade certified. Instead they are part of the "Cocoa Life" program, that supposedly invests in sustainable farming and improves the lives of communities. Exactly how much they pledge towards such projects is anyone's guess.

Velvet Edition chocolate is supposedly crafted by "Taste Specialists" using the delictate character and soft texture of the finest Ghanian cocoa balanced with sweet Madagascan vanilla. It has "a rich cocoa content yet exceptionally smooth flavour".

This variety is combined with Sicilian blood orange oil and chopped caramelised almonds. It contains no soy lecithin, which is a plus for those with soy allergies. I found it in Waitrose on an introductory offer of £1.79.

Green & Blacks Velvet Edition Orange & Almond Dark Chocolate

The bar comes in a different block shape to regular Green & Blacks bars, and is actually a bit easier to split apart. One of the pieces is longer than the others. The chocolate smelled nice enough, although without that distinctive earthiness that regular G&B chocolate is well known for.

Green & Blacks Velvet Edition Orange & Almond Dark Chocolate

It tasted pleasant, the blood orange wasn't as strong as I was expecting, whilst the chopped almonds were most prominent. The chocolate is definitely smooth compared to some 70% cocoa bars, but I wouldn't say that's a good thing as it seemed to lack any real distinctive flavour. It was a bit non descript to be honest. The almonds brought a nice savoury flavour, blended with the orange, although something about it didn't taste quite right. It was neither orangey enough or nutty enough, certainly not as good as the similar Lindt Orange and Almond bar.

Overall, as my first introduction to G&B's Velvet Edition range I can't say I'm too impressed with this bar. It was okay but a bit middle of the road for something billing itself as oh-so-fancy.

Nutrition Information (per 18g row): 8.7g Fat, 5.9g Carbohydrates, 4.9g Sugars, 1.7g Fibre, 1.2g Protein.

6 out of 10. 

Friday, 22 September 2017

Toblerone Ice Cream Sticks (UK) Review

Toblerone Ice Cream Sticks

I've been itching to try these new Toblerone Ice Cream sticks for a while now, ever since they first popped up on Instagram. And at last, just in time for the Christmas season they have appeared in UK supermarkets - hurrah! Or at least they have in Tesco.

These were amongst the other bar ice creams such as Dairy Milk, which makes sense since they're both made by Mondelez. They cost £3 for three sticks, so £1 a stick which isn't too bad considering you would pay that for one in a Newsagent.

Toblerone Ice Cream Sticks

There was no English writing on the front of the box, so presumably these have been imported by Mondelez rather than made for the UK market specifically. Looking on the back of the pack, English was low down on the list but eventually I found the description:

"Chocolate and honey ice cream with milk chocolate with honey and almond nougat 2%, white nougat pieces 2% coated with milk chocolate 33% with white nougat pieces 3%".

Phew, that's a lot of nougat! Nice to see that these remain true to the nature of the real Toblerone bar. I ripped off the wrapper, to reveal...a triangle-shaped bar. How fitting!

Toblerone Ice Cream Sticks

It looked a bit dinky, but never mind this is Toblerone in ice cream form, who cares?

Toblerone Ice Cream Sticks

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the inner ice cream provides a good sweet base, you can taste the honey flavour mixed in with the chocolate. The bits of nougat make an appearance and provide little bursts of chewiness here and there, which is a lovely texture variation. The chocolate coating completes everything, with the swiss chocolate, almond and nougat making for a nice chewy, crunchy and chocolatey experience.

Toblerone Ice Cream Sticks Review
Dissected side view
I really enjoyed these ice creams; the combination of honey, almond and nougat goes really well together as it does in the classic Toblerone bar. It could have been hard to get this right because most ice creams are never the same as their bar counterparts - but it works really and is different from most ice cream sticks out there. My only complaint? The chocolate coating needed to be thicker, and the ice creams should have been larger! Maybe even a swirl of caramel mixed in would be nice, although that would make them less Toblerone-like...

Overall, these get a big thumbs up - try them!

8.5 out of 10. 

Nutrition Information (per 66g stick): 234 Calories, 14g Fat, 24g Carbohydrates, 23g Sugars, 1.1g Fibre, 2.5g Protein. 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Madecasse Toasted Coconut Milk Chocolate Review

Madecasse Toasted Coconut Milk Chocolate

Today's review is one from the archives - I haven't gone back to the dark side of eating sugar again just yet, don't worry peeps!

Madecasse is a range of quality chocolates made in Madagascar with Heirloom cocoa, supporting African cocoa workers. This particular bar is available in the likes of Sainsbury's and Waitrose, and contains 44% cocoa milk chocolate, with bits of toasted coconut added.

Madecasse Toasted Coconut Milk Chocolate

It comes in a gold wrapper, costing around £1.99 a bar. The coconut is sprinkled on one side of the bar as you can see below.

Madecasse Toasted Coconut Milk Chocolate

I've tried both versions of this Madecasse bar now (they also so a Dark Chocolate variety) and I have to say this one is the more enjoyable of the two. The milk chocolate is perfectly creamy whilst being flavoursome and cocoa rich, with a hint of caramel, and some lovely toasted notes from the coconut. I do think it would have been even better if they'd used coconut milk or coconut sugar mixed in with the chocolate (like the Waitrose 1 Indian Ocean Coconut Bar that I adore), but hey this is still a tasty and good quality bar. 

Overall, this is one for the more sophisticated chocolate lover, if you like richer tasting milk chocolates give it a try!

8 out of 10. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Coconut Merchant Coconut Chips 100% Natural

Coconut Merchant Coconut Chips

Whilst reducing my sugar intake I decided to try the various bagged coconut chips now widely available in shops. Many of them do contain sugar, but in lower amounts than most snacks, and some of them like Coconut Merchant actually use coconut sugar instead of refined white sugar. How revolutionary!

I spotted these in a small Sainsbury's Express for just over £1 near the Sandwiches, and grabbed a pack. They contain a lot more coconut chips than other brands such as Ape or Itsu, which was most welcome to me. I don't know why some brands think we want to eat like rabbits...I realize that coconut contains fat, but you still need a substantial amount for it to be filling!

Coconut Merchant Coconut Chips

Luckily these are baked so they contain less fat, and they were nicely golden and super crunchy. Taking a bite they had a lovely sweet, almost treacle like flavour from the coconut sugar. They were delicious, and far nicer than some of the other bands I've tried! The coconut sugar gives them a tasty edge and brings out the toasted flavour perfectly.

Coconut Merchant Coconut Chips

Overall, these are some super coconut snacks that I would highly recommend; if you like those made by Ape or other companies these are even better - try them!

8.5 out of 10. 

Suitable for vegans, gluten free, dairy free and paleo.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

NuttVia Hazelnut Chocolate Spread Review

NuttVia Hazelnut Chocolate Spread sugar free

Today's review is the second time I've reviewed a sugar free chocolate spread made with sweeteners. The last time I suffered the all too familiar "unintended side effects", which scared me enough this time...why did I take this task on? The things I do for snacks research!

This spread contains 97% less sugar than standard chocolate spreads on the market, and is also palm oil free. In comparison, palm oil is the first ingredient in the leading brand Nutella. It's sweetened with a mixture of erythritol, maltitiol, stevia and maltodextrin. It also contains whey powder so unfortunately isn't suitable for vegans or those with dairy allergies.

NuttVia Hazelnut Chocolate Spread

The promise of a sugar free hazelnut spread made with sweeteners had me cautiously excited, because while I'm trying to reduce my sugar intake I don't enjoy being on the toilet all night! Eventually I faced my fears and tucked in with a spoon.

The spread is very lovely; rich, nutty and creamy and despite being sugar free it's still sweet enough. In fact I couldn't tell that it was sugar free at all...there was hardly any difference from this to regular chocolate spread, apart from the fact it tasted a bit less sickly.

NuttVia Hazelnut Chocolate Spread

Overall, this is a great product from NuttVia, definitely worth a try if you need to avoid sugar, and in fact it's just as good as Nutella in my opinion. The balance of sweet, nutty, creamy and rich is all spot on.

For more info check out the NuttVia website: http://nuttvia.com/products/
Available from ocado.com and Amazon.

9 out of 10. 

Ingredients: Sweeteners (maltitol, erythritol, steviol glycosides), vegetable oil (sunflower, coconut), maltodextrin, hazelnuts 10%, fat reduced cocoa powder 7.4%, cocoa butter, emulsifier (sunflower lecithins), sweet whey powder (milk). 

Nutrition Information (per 1 tbsp): 70 Calories, 4.8g Fat, 8.2g Carbohydrates, 0.3g Sugars, 0.5g Fibre, 0.5g Protein. 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Marks & Spencer Achachas Fruit Review

Marks & Spencer Achachas

I've been trying lots of new and exotic fruit varieties over the Summer since reducing my sugar intake, from flavoured grapes to melons, but one fruit I hadn't heard of before were Achahas. I spotted them in Marks & Spencer recently reduced in price so thought I'd give them a try.

Marks & Spencer Achachas Fruit

Achahas are a fruit related to the mangosteen that grow in the southern part of the Amazon basin in the central area of Bolivia, with tough shells that must be split open with a knife...or your teeth. Apparently. Removing the rind reveals a somewhat fluffy looking fruit with seeds.

Marks & Spencer Achachas Fruit

The fruit is awkward to eat, you can bite it and then suck the seeds out. It tasted a bit like banana to me with a slight citrus edge.

Marks & Spencer Achachas Fruit

To be honest I wasn't that impressed with these, they're a lot of effort for not much payoff. The taste is pleasant I suppose, but there's not much in them to eat. I didn't feel they were worth the £1.75 never mind whatever the full price is.

Apparently traditionally you can use the rind to make a refreshing lemonade style drink, so if you're using them that way I suppose you'll get more bang for your buck. But personally I ain't got time for that...

Friday, 8 September 2017

Polo Sugar Free & Extra Strong Pots

Polo Sugar Free Pots

Polo has been put in pots! Yes, the iconic "mint with the hole" is now available in this handy new recyclable pot format, containing approximately 44 mints, perfect for popping in your bag or handbag. I was offered some to review, and since I'm doing a low sugar diet recently these were just what I needed!

These contain 10 calories per serving and are toothkind, accredited by the Oral Health Foundation, and can be enjoyed without the risk of tooth decay.

Polo Sugar Free Extra Strong Pots:
Polo Sugar Free Pots

These pack some mighty punch in the mint department, and are super duper strong but not unpleasantly so. They're the sort of thing you'll be needing when the weather gets a bit colder and on frosty mornings! 8 out of 10. 

Polo Sugar Free Regular Pots:

A bit tamer in the mint department, these had a gentler, sweeter mint flavour. I ended up crunching on quite a few, as is the tradition with Polo mints! I would probably go for the Extra Strong as my favourite but these are still good. 8 out of 10. 

Overall, there's not much to say about Polos other than it's nice to see them still on shelves after all these years, they've no doubt been part of everyone's youth...who doesn't remember buying them from vending machines at high school? (Are vending machines even allowed these days? - probably not!) Anyway it's nice to have them in this handy format and they certainly help with reducing sugar and calorie intake.

Nutrition per serving (3 mints): 10 Calories, 0g Fat, 0g Carbohydrates, 0g Fibre. 

Monday, 4 September 2017

Seed & Bean Lemon and Cardamom Dark Chocolate

Seed & Bean Lemon and Cardamom Dark Chocolate

Today's review is for Seed and Bean, a brand I have featured on occasion before - I particularly loved their White Chocolate, Lemon & Poppyseed Bar. This time I've been trying out some of their dark chocolate varieties.


Their dark chocolates are suitable for vegans, fairtrade, dairy free and gluten free, as well as organic. This one contains 58% Cocoa and is flavoured with lemon and cardamom, a bit of a unique pairing for chocolate!


It tastes nice, with rich, good quality dark chocolate that has a slightly acidic edge. The cardamom certainly makes for an interesting flavour profile combined with the lemon. I enjoyed this bar, it's not something you'd want to eat on the regular, but for "something a bit different" at Christmas it would make a nice variation. I would recommend this to vegans or anyone dairy free looking for something a bit different.

I also like that it's organic since Green & Blacks seem to be downplaying their organic range now with their Velvet Editions, which surely isn't a good sign for the organic chocolate market. Please people, support organic products, not only are they good for the environment they're better for your health too!

8.5 out of 10.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Cadbury Dairy Milk Tiffin New Size Bar

Cadbury Dairy Milk Tiffin New Size Bar

It's taken them a while, but Mondelez have finally graced the UK market with Dairy Milk Tiffin after a long absence. It was brought back as a limited edition last Summer in small tablets, but now due to popular demand has been permanently brought out in a larger 200g sharing block.

Cadbury offered me a bar to review, which although I couldn't eat myself due to gluten, I did share amongst friends to ask their thoughts.

Tiffin is of course the classic combination of shortcake biscuits and raisins combined with Dairy Milk, first launched in 1937, discontinued in 1972, brought back in 1985, and withdrawn again in 2003. Phew, this bar has had a lot of ups and downs!

I've previously reviewed the Irish Dairy Milk Tiffin bar, available in some UK supermarkets in a small size, and found it to be very tasty owing to the use of the traditional Dairy Milk in the recipe. Unfortunately, the UK version seems to use a different recipe...no one knows why, but it seems they use differently sourced milk vs the Irish version.

According to my friends who tried it, it still tastes pretty darn good though, with the biscuit and raisin combination making for an addictive and tasty treat. And thanks to the larger size it's perfect for sharing with friends or saving to eat over a few days. Good with a cuppa!

Overall, there's not much to say other than hurrah, Cadbury have listened to what consumers want and brought a classic nostalgic bar back to the shelves!

On a related note - let's just see how the latest Mondelez ploy to mess with Green & Blacks bars - by bringing out new flavours and removing the Organic tag - plays out. This is not good Karma, Mondelez!