The April 2017 Degustabox

Towards the end of April the latest edition of Degustabox* was delivered to my door. I’m a little bit late in getting my post up this month and admittedly, with the chaos of birthdays, bank holidays and a mostly empty house not all of the products have been sampled at this point.

Nevertheless I’ve popped together this post so you can see what was included in April’s box with some mini reviews of the products I’ve tried so far.

First up we have a new variety of muesli from Dorset Cereals (£4.89). This is the “American Roadtrip” flavour from their Ultimate Adventures collection and is made up of cranberries, almonds and orange zest. This is packed full of flavour and utterly delicious. The perfect start to a Spring morning- preferably with a large dollop of natural yoghurt.

Hemp seed hearts from Good Hemp are one of the products I haven’t tried yet. They are described as delicious, nutty super seeds which are packed with protein, fibre and omega 3. They are nut and gluten free and perfectly for sprinkling over all manner of sweet and savoury dishes. They have an RRP of £4.49 and are currently available from Ocado and www.goodhempfood.com.

On the whole I’m not a big fan of crisps but I do rather like these lattice crisps from Seabrook- sliced both ways to hold maximum flavour these sea salt and black pepper snacks are completely addictive and pack a powerful punch. RRP £1.50-£1.99.

I can’t eat peanuts myself so the hot chilli peanuts from ViPnuts are currently another un-sampled product. These claim to be deliciously hot with a real kick of heat. They cost £1.25 for a very jazzy looking bag and also come in an intriguing sounding Hot Toffee flavour.

As a fan of grapefruit paired with gin (thanks to hoxton gin) I was very happy to see a pink grapefruit flavoured tonic water from Fentiman’s in this month’s box. I don’t have all of the product information for this so I can’t provide an RRP or stockists, but I can say that it is gorgeous with both gin and vodka. One for summer parties!
There was also a bottle of CELIA organic lager in the drinks section of the April box. This is 100% organic and brewed using just three ingredients- Moravian malt, 100% locally sourced (local to Czech) organic Saaz hops and sand-filtered water from the Żatec foothills. It’s gluten free too with an RRP of £2.49 per bottle.
I’ve tried Nothing But snacks before and enjoyed them very much. These are snack packs of freeze-dried fruits or vegetables that are suitable for vegetarians, vegans and those on a gluten free diet. I wasn’t wild about freeze dried grapes but the rest of the fruits are lovely and because they are dried rather than baked or fried the only things the fruit loses during the process is water.

Whitworths full of super range featured in a Degustabox a few months ago and I really enjoyed the Cacao raw bar and was keen to track down other flavours. This month I received the vanilla maca-roons variety which is crammed full of almonds, coconut and flax seeds and I think, that even though I don’t usually like almond flavoured things these might just be a new favourite snack. They cost £1.50 and are suitable for vegetarians as well as being gluten and soya free.

I haven’t yet tried the Garofalo whole wheat penne pasta that came in this month’s box but it sounds pretty fancy! Made with unprocessed whole organic durum wheat the pasta has all of it’s natural bran, germ, fibre, vitamins and minerals intact making it extra healthy. It only takes 11 minutes to cook too. £2.19 per bag and available from Amazon, Ocado and local stockists.
Last but not least we have a couple of sweet treats. Firstly a pot of sugar free polos (£1.49) which I’ve been working my way through. I’ve always had a soft spot for polo mints and these are ultra refreshing and kind to teeth. The pot format is a new look, designed to be taken on the go. Definitely a handbag must have for me and far less prone to getting crushed than the traditional tube packaging.

I was really excited to try the quinoa, smoked tea and vanilla chocolate by Doisy & Dam (£1.75) as I’ve heard amazing things about the brand and their 8 unique flavours. I can’t quite find the right words to describe how this tastes but it is truly, and quite oddly delicious. My next mission is to seek out the rest of the range to see what other crazy combinations of chocolate flavouring exist!

For those who don’t know Degustabox is a monthly subscription box filled with 10-15 food/drink products, most of which are brand new to the market so it’s a great way to try things out. On a month by month basis the box costs £12.99 (with a discount for longer subscriptions) but the contents are generally worth far more than this.
If you’re persuaded to give Degustabox a go (and really, you should) you can claim a brilliant £7.00 off of your first box (making it just £5.99!) by entering the code 6HZJ8 at the checkout. It’s been a pleasure to work with the brand regularly over the last couple of years and it’s without a doubt something that I will continue to purchase long after our partnership ends. I love the monthly surprise and excitement as well as the chance to discover products I’d otherwise pass up on the supermarket shelves.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and what you thought of them.

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Easter With Guylian

It’s less than one week to go until Easter (how?!) and I’ve actually done very little in the way of content around it this year for some reason. I just had to pop up a quick post about some tasty Easter treats from Guylian, a chocolate brand I generally love but for the life of me cannot pronounce the name of.
On the shelves this year you’ll find a selection of gifts that are bound to impress whilst remaining affordable- I love spoiling those around me on any holiday but don’t have £20 to spend on a luxury egg per person, so finding some cheaper but still luxurious options is a real bonus.

First up we have a box of filled mini eggs- individually wrapped in an assortment of three flavours; milk chocolate truffle, milk chocolate praline and dark chocolate praline. With an RRP of £4 these are perfect for sharing…or not.

Guylian are probably most famous for their seashell chocolates and they make a great gift year round. Comprised of roasted hazelnuts and creamy Belgian milk chocolate these will put a smile on the face of just about everyone (nut allergy sufferers aside perhaps). For those embracing the Easter theme you can find these coupled with a Belgian milk chocolate egg for a reasonable £4 or for the traditionalists a 250g box will set you back around £5.

Also on the shelves this Easter is an adorable bunny shaped box containing Guylian’s temptations in six incredible sounding flavours; original praline, milk truffle, caramel, dark praline, biscuit and latte. Again this is a very reasonable £5.

I was very kindly sent one of the Guylian milk chocolate eggs complete with seashell chocolates and despite there still being 6 days to go couldn’t resist cracking (terrible attempt at being funny there Laura) in to it. The milk chocolate egg is small but perfectly formed. It’s the kind of size where half isn’t really enough and although you kind of know you probably shouldn’t eat the whole thing at once it’s near impossible not to. Yum.

The seashells are exactly as I recall from years gone by- it’s reassuring to know that some of my favourite chocolates still taste like they should! This is a 65g box so just about enough to share out after Easter dinner. Or to sit on the sofa and eat whilst watching a feel-go film and nursing the bank holiday food baby.

All of these products are available to buy in all major supermarkets, selected independent stores nationwide and online from the Guylian website.
What’s your favourite Easter egg and/or chocolate treat?

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The Easter Degustabox

Last week saw the arrival of Spring, apparently, and with it came the delivery of the March Degustabox*- named the Easter Box. I’m not entirely sure what made the box Easter themed as I didn’t spy a single bunny hopping about but it contained chocolate and that’s good enough for me!
This month’s product of the month were these two chocolate bars from Cadbury. I’ve gone off of Cadbury’s chocolate over the last couple of years but I was still excited by the release of these bars as they combine some of my favourite things. Initially I assumed I would like the peanut butter one the best but in reality it was a little bit of a let down (purely because it had so much potential, I was hoping to get something akin to Reeses) but the mint one is truly delicious. I love mint chocolate anyway, and the addition of the oreo pieces added a new dimension. Each bar has an RRP of £1.49- but you’ll find it on offer for around £1 in many shops right now.
What better to wash the chocolate down with than some cider? Well, not for me personally as despite my West-Country origins I’m not a cider lover. These were passed on to my Dad who dutifully tried them and approved. I don’t have the pricing or stockist information for these but if you happen to see them in the shops then they are apparently worth grabbing!
My dislike of coconut water is probably well known by now, but coconut milk I do like. This Chocolate “Mylk” from Rebel Kitchen (RRP £1.99) is delicious and has a reassuringly short ingredients list too. Probably not a direct substitute for a chocolate milkshake but a refreshing (and healthier) drink in it’s own right.
I’m not sold on the idea of “breakfast in a bottle” but did try a swig of the vanilla Weetabix on the go (£1.39). I can see where these have their place in the market and would be ideal for commuters or people who don’t like to eat first thing but I’m too dedicated to my morning porridge to ever see myself swapping. I didn’t try the protein variant (£1.99) as I don’t like the flavours but I imagine this would be ideal for busy gym-bunnies.
Nothing says Easter more than a share bag of Salt and Vinegar crisps right? These are really, really good crisps- made with good quality ingredients from named and passionate providers these really are “crisps as they should taste”- and this comes from someone who doesn’t generally like crisps. RRP £2.00 and perfect for Easter gatherings!
I’m getting really in to my cooking so it was great to see some new ingredients to play with in the box. I love the Maldon smoked sea salt flakes- they add a deeper flavour to all manner of dishes and I happen to think that they pair perfectly with fish (£1.50). The [Seriously] Good Sauce from Heinz is yet to be tried but has been earmarked for some kind of chicken dish as we’re not big fans of steak, which the jar suggests in this house. I’ll report back but I think these jars of sauce are a great size and there are some really nice sounding flavours in the range! (RRP £1.99 per jar).
A slightly random assortment in this section, first we have an organic lemon energy drink from Gusto (£1.50) which is an energising blend of lemon, guarana, ginseng and astragalus. This is an adult take on lucozade in my eyes and probably much better for you as it’s sweetened with agave nectar, apple and grape juice.
I was excited to try the new “full of super” bar from Whitworths as I love this kind of bar as a snack to keep in my work bag or when I’m out and about. This Cacao Raw Bar (£1.50) has almonds, coconut, chia seeds, golden flaxseeds, quino and acai (phew!) and are gluten free, soy free and vegetarian friendly. All that and they taste good too!
The final product in this trio was the intriguingly named “Naturelly” (£1.19) which claims to be a fun and refreshing juicy jelly snack, drink or dessert full of vitamins and with no added sugar. As curious as this product sounds I couldn’t bring myself to try it- it’s a texture thing with me, but if I do find a volunteer I’ll update this post.
If there’s one sweet I can’t resist it’s jelly beans. As soon as I saw this box of 36 flavours from The Jelly Bean Factory (£1.49 for 75g) I hid it away- there’s no way I was sharing! These have been my favourite brand of jelly beans for years, although I hadn’t had them in a while. I’m pleased to report they are as good as ever- and long gone!
Last but by no means least was a bag of chocolate eclairs from £onepounders (go on, guess the price!). I gave these to my parents to try and they raved about them. I’m not sure where you can buy these from although I’m sure I saw them in a local corner shop but dismissed them as “cheap and nasty”. Knowing now that they are cheap but certainly not nasty I’ll be seeking out more of these as well as other products from the over 65 strong range.
For those who don’t know Degustabox is a monthly subscription box filled with 10-15 food/drink products, most of which are brand new to the market so it’s a great way to try things out. On a month by month basis the box costs £12.99 (with a discount for longer subscriptions) but the contents are generally worth far more than this.
If you’re persuaded to give Degustabox a go (and really, you should) you can claim a brilliant £7.00 off of your first box (making it just £5.99!) by entering the code 6HZJ8 at the checkout. It’s been a pleasure to work with the brand regularly over the last few years and it’s without a doubt something that I will continue to purchase long after our partnership ends. I love the monthly surprise and excitement as well as the chance to discover products I’d otherwise pass up on the supermarket shelves.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and what you thought of them.

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Baking- Mini Egg Cookie Bars

I have fond childhood memories of eating mini-eggs around Easter time, they were definitely a favourite and whilst these days I’m not such a fan [the recipe changed last year and I don’t care what anyone says, I can tell the difference!] my best friend still loves them, and I love my best friend so when I saw a recipe for Mini Egg cookie bars I decided to treat her.

I’m not going to post the actual recipe for it is not mine to post, instead I’ll direct you to it’s creator- the frankly genius Jane of Jane’s Patisserie [recipe link]. This woman’s blog has some of the best recipes I’ve seen and it’s an endless source of baking inspiration for me. I’ve made a few of her recipes now including the chocolate orange cookies and each and every thing turns out perfectly each time.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some pictures of the Mini Egg cookie bars as when I posted them on social media people went crazy for them- my best friend went on to declare them the “best cookies ever” which is high praise indeed and they really are so simple to make, perfect for any Easter themed gatherings you might be going to [even if that gathering just happens to be you and a pot of tea].
The basic recipe would lend itself beautifully to pretty much any chocolate addition and I’m tempted to give it a go with Rolos sometime for a soft and gooey caramel experience. I’ll definitely be making the Mini Egg version at least once more in the run up to Easter though and will be keeping a close eye on Jane’s blog for any other Easter themed bakes she comes up with- these Creme Egg cupcakes look amazing!
Have you got any Easter baking planned? Which are your favourite baking blogs to visit?

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Snacking: Quinoa Crinkles from Burts Chips

I’m going through a distinct savoury phases with my snacking at the moment. It seems to go in cycles where for a month or so all I want is biscuits (rich teas or party rings preferable) and then suddenly the need for something savoury kicks in and I become a fiend for salt. That being said, I’m not really a fan of traditional crisps- I prefer roasted chickpeas, Hippeas and Burts Chips Lentil Waves over a packet of Walkers so when Burts Chips got in touch to announce the arrival of their new “Quinoa Crinkles” and offered to send me some to try I gratefully and enthusiastically accepted.
Made with (the currently very trendy) grain Quinoa these are deemed to be a wholesome and interesting alternative to the traditional crisp and claim to combine delicious taste, a boost of fibre and top quality ingredients. Each pack comes in at around 85 calories making them perfect for anyone who is watching their weight and the Quinoa Crinkles come in two flavours- sweet pepper & chorizo and west country cream cheese.

I still can’t make up my mind on the sweet pepper and chorizo flavour. On the one hand it’s beautifully strong and definitely unique, but on the other hand my palette struggles to make sense of two such bold flavours together with the over-tone of the sweetness. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy these, because I did…they just aren’t what I’m used to- but they have me wanting more which must count for something.

The West Country Cream Cheese was lovely. My experience of cheese flavoured snacks only extends to Quavers and Wotsits so I didn’t have the highest of standards for these to live up to. These are cheese snacks for adults, with a bold yet creamy cheese taste with a slight hint of onion. Out of the two these were my favourite but I’d happily buy and either either of them again. I’m also a massive fan of the Lentil Waves but in terms of flavour and texture the mighty Quinoa comes out on top.

For more information, stockists and the full nutritional breakdown pop along to the Burts Chips website.

Tell me about your favourite savoury snacks in the comments.

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Big thanks to Burts Chips for the samples (and for setting off another snacking addiction).