Degustabox- The March Edit

Cliche as it sounds, it seems like I’ve barely blinked since I wrote my February Degustabox* post and yet here I am with the March edition. This month’s box looked full of promise with a mix of products I was vaguely aware of as well as some I had no idea existed.
It’s actually Easter Sunday as I write this post, with a belly full of roast dinner I’m still finding the lure of these Smarties and Milkybar mixed mini eggs almost impossible to ignore. In my eyes nothing beats the original mini eggs (recipe change and all) but these come pretty close- the bag claims to be perfect for sharing but I’m finding it hard to be generous with these. By the time you read this the chances of finding these will be slim to none, but if you do see a reduced price bag then grab them- and keep your eyes peeled for next year.
This limited edition flapjack from “Hafervoll” sounded absolutely delightful. Lebkuchen is one of my favourite things ever, and being hand-made without any added sugar, cheap fillers or chemical additives these are undoubtedly better for you. I’ve not been able to try this due to nuts, and I’ve never seen the brand for sale in the shops near to see if they do any other flavours, but if I’d certainly be tempted to try one despite the hefty £1.99 price tag.
As you can see from my photo, these noodles from Mr Lee’s arrived damaged and therefore I didn’t take the risk and try them. I’m absolutely gutted though as I adore noodles and these would have been perfect as a lunch snack. Again, I haven’t seen these in the shops near me- and at £2.99 I’m not sure I’d pick them up if I did- but if I had the chance to try them I’d jump at it.
I’m not, and never have been a big fan of milk based drinks but this one certainly did appeal with it’s fun and fresh packaging. I don’t like the taste of milk, but disguised with chocolate and knowing I could do with a boost of calcium (and the fact it’s free of nasties like refined sugar) I’d pick this up on the go when I needed a snack but didn’t have the chance to actually stop and eat something. I’m a convert.
I’ve pretty much given up energy drinks having found myself relying a bit too heavily on them. Still, it would have been rude not to try Tenzing Natural Energy- it contains just six natural ingredients and has 55 calories per can- definitely better for me than sugar free red bull, and I can stomach liquid calories when I know they come from good, honest ingredients and not a tonne of sugar and additives. It’s not my favourite energy drink ever, but it’s not half bad.
What can one say about a jar of pasta sauce? Well, for starters this is Cirio pasta sauce, and being a big fan of their entire range of products I knew this would be good. This makes for the perfect quick and healthy post-work dinner served piping hot with some wholewheat pasta- at £2.00 per jar it’s more of a luxury than a store cupboard staple but one I’d like to keep around.
I’m all for a bit of nostalgia- it’s a long time since I had a carton of drink like this, but having grown up on a diet of ribena and Roald Dahl how could I resist? I might look a bit odd with one of these at my desk when I’m almost 31 years old, but I don’t care, these are really very tasty little drinks and contain nothing suspicious or artificial- now, where’s my copy of the BFG?
As I mentioned above, I grew up drinking Ribena so I was excited to see a new variant in their no added sugar range. Pineapple and Passionfruit is every bit as fruity as it sounds, deliciously tropical, I finished this bottle in a couple of days and I’m now impatiently awaiting for it to hit shelves locally.
I don’t know if I ever mentioned before, but Bob and I are obsessed with hot sauces, obsessed. We usually buy from independent retailers- at markets and the like and find the bottles you get in supermarkets just don’t live up to the extra hot claims (having survived the experience of the world’s hottest chilli flakes most things now seem a bit tame). We were both impressed by this Encona Carolina Reaper Chilli Sauce, it’s not the hottest we’ve had by any means but it certainly packs a punch. At £1.49 it’s a fraction of the price we usually pay too, and so it’s become a new staple to our kitchens. Heat loves rejoice- and those with a more delicate palette, approach with extreme caution!
Another battered box (my delivery driver clearly wasn’t in a great mood when he dropped this month’s box off)- shreddies max granola. I haven’t been able to try this as there are nuts listed in the ingredients which is a shame as it sounds delicious. I love granola and could easily eat half a bag at a time straight up- let me know if you’ve tried this and what you thought.
There was also a coupon in the box to pick up a Cheestrings Snack Mix which I totally failed to do- I used to love Cheesstrings though and these do look tempting so I will do my best to source one and pop up a mini review on Instagram.

For those who don’t yet know, Degustabox* is a monthly food subscription box that gives you the chance to try new and exciting products on the market whilst providing amazing value for money.
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 as you can see if you do the maths.
If you’re persuaded to give Degustabox a go (and really, you should) you can claim a brilliant £5.00 off of your first box (making it just £7.99!) 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.

Degustabox February 2018

Somewhere in the middle of February I took delivery of the second Degustabox* of the year. I’ve been so busy lately that I did wonder when on earth I’d get a chance to open, let alone photograph the contents and taste, but thankfully now the days are getting longer and the light (a little bit) better I was able to get there in the end.

This box was a visual delight in terms of colours of the products and I was pretty excited by pretty much everything that I pulled out of the box. I had to pull in a few testers from elsewhere thanks to dietary restrictions and personal preferences but I’m pretty confident I’ve covered everything by now.

These Haribo Fruitilicious were passed on to my sweetie loving boyfriend for review, he’s having to watch his sugar intake right now but can never resist the lure of Haribo so the fact these contain 30% less sugar than their standard offerings was a real bonus. He rated the highly too, he did mention that they don’t taste quite like standard Haribo, but he’d certainly buy them again and really enjoyed them. Each bag costs £1.29.
My Mum’s eyes lit up when she saw the Tootsie Roll Midgees nestled in the box. These are one of her favourite treats which I often buy her if I see them in the shops over here. I love the retro look of the packaging, and the taste which I can’t quite describe. These didn’t hang around for long at all. RRP £2.50 per bag (I often pick them up for less in discounters such as B&M).
I think the KitKat is highly under-rated as a chocolate bar, it’s one of my all time favourites be it in it’s standard finger format, or the undoubtedly more satisfying chunky style. It’s always good to see brands come out with new flavours, and whilst New York Cheesecake doesn’t add anything hugely unique to the market (when you think it’s essentially vanilla) this is still a delicious and hefty snack. You’ll find these in all good retailers at around 65p each.
I’ve been a fan of fruit crisps for a while now and Emily Crisps is a favourite brand for the range of flavours and the gorgeous packaging. These crunchy red apple snacks are so good, I’ve been buying them constantly since the arrival of this box and they make an ideal snack to keep at my desk for day time energy boosts. They cost 99p a bag, so a bit of an indulgence, but super tasty.
The February product of the month was this raw granola from Primrose’s Kitchen. I passed this straight on to my Grandad as he is a granola enthusiast and a big fan of both beetroot and ginger- and I won’t lie, I just couldn’t get my head around this as a combination. He however clearly could and when I asked what he thought of this he gave two thumbs up. Packed full of nutrients thanks to the lack of cooking and good and wholesome ingredients I have no doubt this makes for a zingy start to the day (with plain yoghurt perhaps) but it’s not something I can yet convince myself to try. If you have tried this, am I being a massive wimp?
Now here was a product I could get my head around- cherry and almond is such a classic flavour combination and these snacks from The Protein Ball Co. look and sound infinitely appealing. Made from raw pitted dates, free-range egg white protein, sultanas and sour cherries these are a must try for anyone put off by artificial tasting protein snacks. Another luxury product at £1.99 each but a wholesome and delicious pick me up on the go.
I’m a serious savoury snacker and regularly graze on crackers and crisp breads during the working day. Dr Karg’s is a brand I’ve tried in the past and highly rate and these Emmental Cheese & Pumpkin Seed Crispbreads are no exception. I like them just on their own, but they’d be a good accompaniment to a winter salad or steaming bowl of soup too. £2.00 is a fairly reasonable price considering these are a cut above most savoury snack brands I’ve tried and they are widely available in supermarkets and health food stores.
These Pretzel Bites from Indie Bay Snacks are totally new on me- rare to find a savoury snack brand I don’t yet know! These are just like regular pretzel snacks but made from more wholesome ingredients such as spelt and quinoa to give a boost of protein and flavour. Sunflower wouldn’t be my first choice in snack flavours but these are moorish and tasty, although I’m a little put off by the £2.49 price point as the bag is pretty much only two servings for me.
Lastly we have True Nopal Cactus Water- I think by now everyone who’s read my Degustabox posts knows I won’t have tried these, being super fussy about what liquids I will consume. I was almost tempted though- it only contains 29 calories per 330ml serving (less than half that of coconut water) and comes from the juice of the Prickly Pear that grows on the Nopol Cactus. I may well come back to this product and pop a review up on Instagram as I am quite curious as to how this will taste- has anyone tried Nopol Cactus water and wants to give me some insight?
For those who don’t yet know, Degustabox* is a monthly food subscription box that gives you the chance to try new and exciting products on the market whilst providing amazing value for money.
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 as you can see if you do the maths.
If you’re persuaded to give Degustabox a go (and really, you should) you can claim a brilliant £5.00 off of your first box (making it just £7.99!) 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.

The January Degustabox

With the madness that was Christmas and an overall manic month it’s only just dawned on me that I failed to review the December Degustabox*, a first in all of the time I’ve been reviewing them. It completely slipped my mind until the January 2018 box arrived at my door, so apologies to the Degustabox team for that- here’s a fresh start for the new year. The January box had a “New Year, New Me” theme to it, and whilst I don’t buy in to that ethos I was still eager to get stuck in to a selection of great looking products.
I can’t actually review these LighterLife Fast Ready to drink shakes (£2.49 each from Superdrug) as I can’t bring myself to sample such a diet targeted product whilst in recovery from an eating disorder. What I will say though is that these look good and the flavours sound good- they are designed to be used as a meal placement for those following the 5:2 diet, or as a quick protein hit.
This year I’m on a mission to cut my Pepsi Max habit so for once I eyed the soft drinks selection with excitement rather than a flat out refusal to try. The Mahtay Yerba Mate Sparkling Tea (£1.49) is a lightly sparkling drink that combines energy giving Yerba Mate tea with coconut water and acai berries to provide a natural energy boost- I can’t say I’ve actually tried this yet, but I do like the principal and it’s packed in my work bag for sampling this week.
The Robinsons Fruit Cordial (£2.49) is a product I’ve been eyeing up in the supermarket lately so getting to try it as part of this months box was a real bonus. It comes in three flavours- I was sent the Raspberry, Rhubarb and Orange Blossom variety which is the one I’ve been most eager to try and it definitely tastes as good as it sounds. I dilute it with sparkling water and have it in place of my daily can or six of fizzy.
There were loads of products in this month’s box that got me excited to get busy in the kitchen, the Ramen Noodles were a particular hit, I just added chicken for a healthy dinner for two, and whilst I haven’t tried the Santa Maria products yet I’m itching to whip up a Latin American feast.
The Explore Cuisine Edamame and Mung Bean pasta might look scary but I love this! It’s full of plant based protein (three times more than regular pasta) and has a unique taste. I use this with a portion of meat free bolognese for a quick after work dinner, and whilst it’s pricey at £3.00 per box I’d definitely buy it.
There’s not much I can say about a tin of tuna other than it’s damn good tuna. At £3.49 a tin you’d expect it to be, but it doesn’t hurt to be able to confirm it!
I’m almost as much a tea drinker as I am a coffee one these days and Clipper is one of my favourite brands. Their everyday organic tea is one of my go-to black teas and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone.
It’s no secret that I’m an absolute snack fiend so this is always my favourite part of the un-boxing process. This month I was most taken with the Mallow & Marsh coconut marshmallow bar (£1.35) which is absolutely delicious and gooey AND comes it at under 100 calories for anyone who’s counting.
Frusli bars have long been a staple of mine and at 45p each are an affordable on the go option. I really enjoy the red berry variety, probably more than any of the other flavours (and I’m not usually a berry lover). Perfect to keep on my desk for a mid afternoon “feed me” moment.
For a sweet treat I usually opt for my childhood classics like jelly tots or a milkyway, but these Hersheys Cookies N Creme bars are taking over. You get five snack sized bars in a pack for just £1 and whilst they might not be gourmet, for a quick hit of something sweet you can’t go wrong.
Finally a couple of products from Pulsin’ which I’ve been eyeing up for a while. The Vanilla Choc Chip Protein Booster is an affordable protein bar at £1.59 (most seem to be over £2) and delicious. It has a cookie dough like texture and taste which makes it feel like a treat whilst packing 13g of plant based protein meaning it keeps you fuller than say, a chocolate bar for a similar amount of calories.
The Protein Powder (£1.99) has 22g protein in a 25g serving and is rich in amino acids thanks to it’s Whey protein. It’s suitable for vegetarians and is made using low fat, hormone free milk from UK cows. It’s also low in sugar and whilst it might sound mighty boring and good for you, it actually tastes pretty good- I’ve been using some in my morning porridge for an extra boost of protein and energy.
For those who don’t yet know, Degustabox* is a monthly food subscription box that gives you the chance to try new and exciting products on the market whilst providing amazing value for money.
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 as you can see if you do the maths.
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.

end

Healthier Baking for Christmas*

December is notoriously a month of over-indulgence- all those parties, meals out, chocolates, tins of biscuits and homemade treats. Most people find that by the end of the month they’ve packed on a few pounds and feel decidedly sluggish, especially if like me they love to bake and can’t resist filling the house with the sweet and spicy aromas of festive bakes. With that in mind I thought I’d explore a few ideas for healthier baking, mostly simple ingredient swaps to serve as inspiration for myself and also to inspire my fellow baking addicts- and nab your ideas for healthier cakes and biscuits too!
One simple swap you can make is to reduce saturated fats by replacing butter with an ingredient like rapeseed oil. The added bonus of Rapeseed oil is that it has a pretty neutral taste so it won’t detract from your delicious treats.

Obviously baked goods are notoriously laden with sugar and it’s hard to avoid it completely- and at this time of year why would you want it? What you can do though is look for sweeteners that have more nutritional benefits than refined white sugar- honey, apple puree, banana or sugar alternatives such as the SugaVida I previously featured are all good substitutes.

You can improve the nutritional content of cakes and bakes by adding in ingredients such as flaxseeds (also a great alternative to egg in vegan baking) to boost fibre content as well as providing a good source of vitamins and minerals. You won’t necessarily taste the difference but the benefits will be there. Adding plenty of dried fruit and nuts to your recipes, and less chocolate (or dark chocolate) will also help- and with the right blend of spices are just perfect for this time of year.

Using alternatives to standard white flour will also boost the nutritional content of your bakes- buckwheat or spelt flours will increase fibre whilst almond flour will add a protein and vitamin E boost.

Finally when it comes to topping your bakes try switching regular cream or icing for greek or natural yoghurts- you could also use fruit, nuts and spices to decorate with in place of icing, and make open topped mince tarts in place of the all out pastry fest that are traditional mince pies.

I’d love to know what smart-swaps you make for healthier baked goods, both for the run up to Christmas and for the new year when everyone is trying to be good and watch their weight.

end

The November Degustabox

Another month has passed us by, and another delivery from foodie subscription service Degustabox* has arrived. Unless you are brand new to my blog (in which case, Hi!) you’ll know this is a regular feature. As with last month I’ve done my absolute best to try everything in the box, but time constraints and wanting to get a post up in a fairly prompt manner means that there are a couple of things I’m yet to sample. I’ll pop up some mini reviews of these on social media when I do try them for anyone who is as curious as I currently am to know what they were like, I’m getting really quite adventurous with my food trying lately so with each month the arrival of this box brings a whole new level of excitement! This month the box had a distinct festive feel, and has to be one of my favourite boxes, contents wise in a long time.
Kicking off with some Kallo organic stock pots- I was sent the chicken variety which makes a great base for a hearty pan of soup, or a comforting stew. I always have stock pots in my cupboard and these ones are organic and all-natural which is a real selling point.
There was also a really rather fancy looking tin of tuna in this month’s box- I’m not a massive fan of tuna these days and I’m phobic of olive oil so I haven’t tried it yet. I have it earmarked for making some tuna pate in the coming weeks- my Nan and I used to make this all of the time and it’s delicious (and full of enough other ingredients foe me to be able to ignore the oil!
The tuna has a RRP of £3.00 and the stock pots are £1.80
Included in this month’s drinks selection was some rather fancy coffee from Taylor’s of Harrogate- a brand I often turn to when I want a touch of luxury. The Cacao Superior Colombia blend is truly magnificent and I highly recommend this to any coffee fan.
I haven’t tried the other two drinks included- the Alo water I just can’t get my head around if I’m honest. The Dalston’s Fizzy Apple appeals more, but, as long time readers know I’m not a big drinker of these kinds of things so I’ll be passing this along to someone who will appreciate it.
RRPs are £4.49 for the coffee, £1.99 for the Aloe Water and £1.89 for the apple fizz.
Pasta and pesto is such a great standby meal and one of my favourites too. This Filipo Berio Classic Pesto is really one of the best I’ve tried and well worth picking up as a storecupboard staple. I don’t have price information for it, but I imagine it to be around the £2.00 mark.

I actually reviewed a large selection of The English Provender Co’s products last year and loved them- their caramalised red onion chutney was a favourite so I was excited to see a jar of it nestled inside this month’s box. Perfect with goat’s cheese in a toasted sandwich, this jar won’t be lasting me long! RRP £1.99

December isn’t really known as being the month for healthy eating, but I do like to try my best. With the current freezing temperatures I’m enjoying a lot of soup and the Ryvita Multigrain Rye Cakes are the perfect thing to dunk in it. Equally they’d be great as part of a cheeseboard over the festive season, unless, like myself you aren’t a fan of cheese.
Having an allergy to peanuts meant I couldn’t try the Planters Fruity Chocolate Crunch but given that the bag has since vanished from the house I’m guessing they were a hit. This kind of product seems synonymous with this time of year- and this pack with it’s mix of peanuts, cranberries and milk chocolate buttons sounds wonderfully festive. RRP £2.00
Finally on the savoury snack front we have Filipo Berio Formaggio Crostini- I haven’t tried these yet but you can expect a review over the coming weeks. It should be noted that Degustabox subscribers will only get one of the three Filipo Berio products mentioned.
I’m a huge fan of Popcorn and Propercorn is my current go-to brand when I’m on a snack mission at work. The Perfectly Sweet variety is a welcome addition to the range- sprinkled with unrefined, fairtrade sugar it’s utterly addictive and I’ve eaten about a dozen bags of it since my Degustabox arrived.

When it comes to sweets Jelly Beans are my ultimate favourite so I carefully hid this bag of super sours from The Jelly Bean Factory. Made with natural colours and suitable for vegetarians I’d be delighted to find these hiding in my Christmas stocking.

Finally we have Cadbury Picnic Bites which my Dad devoured due to aforementioned peanut allergy. I used to love Picnic bars so I was saddened I now can’t have them, it might be a bit of a gimmick but I can’t resist a minature version of anything.

Last but not least we have Weetabix Additions in apple and raisin. I’ve reviewed other products in this range before and really enjoyed them, but this one, with it’s warming hints of cinnamon is my favourite- perfect with hot milk on a cold morning. RRP £2.99 for a box of 24.

For those who don’t yet know, Degustabox* is a monthly food subscription box that gives you the chance to try new and exciting products on the market whilst providing amazing value for money.
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 as you can see if you do the maths.
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.

end