The First Degustabox of 2017

The January Degustabox* always tends to feature a healthier selection of products than most of the other monthly deliveries and it is always a box I look forward to. The first box of 2017 was no exception and from a first glance it looked as if this was going to be one of my favourite boxes to date…was I right to be excited? Read on…
Little’s Coffee (£2.69 in Waitrose) is a brand I’ve been buying for a few years now. I don’t drink nearly as much coffee as I used to but when I fancy a change from my default black Americano I look to a flavoured instant to get my fix. French Vanilla is a wonderfully smooth tasting drink and the flavours work perfectly together- ideal for anyone who loves vanilla lattes (try it with half milk and half water, I urge you). Also in the box was a chocolate disc from the Real Hot Chocolate Company for whom I don’t actually have any information about for you. But hot chocolate is always a winner and I’m saving this for a chilly day.
Also in the drinks selection this month was a can of Crabbie’s Scottish Raspberry alcoholic ginger beer (£1.89 from leading supermarkets for a 500ml bottle). I’ve passed this on to be sampled by someone else and don’t have much feedback yet- I personally don’t like ginger beer at all but this is an interesting idea and I’m sure it’s lovely if you have the right tastebuds.
I’ve always loved Fruittella sweets and it’s nice to see a lower sugar variety on offer. With the same delicious taste as always but 30% less sugar than the original these are really tasty and didn’t hang around long! (RRP £1.25)
This sweetener from Natvia is 100% natural and sweet like sugar but has only 0.4 calories per serving. Made from stevia and natural nectar this is a healthy sugar alternative and diabetic friendly. At £4.99 per tub it’s fairly pricey but will be used in more adventures in low sugar baking in the near future.
As my current food intake is ever increasing I’m always looking for things that I can use to boost up my lunches and these Finn Crisp snacks (£1.89) are perfect. I happily munch them on their own but they are also rather nice dipped in to soup or hummus. Another snack I rate are these new ridged snacks from Popchips (£1.99). Although bacon wouldn’t be the flavour I picked off the supermarket shelf these are un-deniably more-ish and are under 100 calories per serving so perfect for anyone watching their diet.
I don’t have much call for protein drinks with my current lifestyle so I passed this Protein Boost strawberry shake on to my friend’s sports mad brother. At £1.29 per bottle with 20g of protein this seems like a good value boost for when you’re on the go.
I’m loving the Quinola Mothergrain pouch (£2.49) which is a blend of ready cooked organic and fairtrade pearl quinoa and split peas. It can be eaten hot or cold, and both ways are delicious. This is a good lunch time option as part of a salad (with feta cheese and beetroot, yum!) or as an accompaniment to your evening meal. Gluten free and suitable for vegans. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for this in the shops. I’m still not brave enough for the chia seeds from The Chia Co. It’s a texture thing for me, but for those who are a fan then these handy little sachets are only 66p each and great for adding to breakfasts and lunches on the go.
I’m afraid I don’t have any information on the firey ginger hibiscus drink that came in the box and it’s not a product I have tried either (see ginger beer section). The Aspire Drinks I have sampled though. Aspire make healthy energy drinks that are calories and sugar free containing a premium grade green tea. These were nice, once I got over how un-sweet they are! I wasn’t expecting a Mango drink to not be sweet but once I got over that it was delicious! £1.45 each
I’ve reviewed Yushoi snacks on the blog before and was intrigued to see their latest flavour offering of coconut and chilli. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy these as although I love coconut I wasn’t convinced it’d work in a savoury snack but it does. It does brilliantly and I am addicted to these now. £1.79 per back- and so worth it!
Finally there was a voucher in the box to pick up a tub of yoghurt from The Collective (£2.00). These are gourmet yoghurts with a double layer of fresh fruit compote. I went for the spiced plum version which also has ginger in it and presented it to my grandad who loves that particular flavour combination. He’s a bit of a fusspot when it comes to food but declares this lives up to it’s gourmet claims. Having tried a mouthful (or two) myself I wholeheartedly agree and I may have an expensive new yoghurt habit forming.
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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Valentines Treats and Giveaway with Holly’s Lollies

Ah, Valentines day…I’m not a huge believer in having a specific date for showing someone that you love them but I’ll admit there is something a little bit magical about it whether you’re in a relationship or just want an excuse to round up your best girlfriends and have some fun.

This year will be my first Valentines day spent single in a while and whilst I once assumed I’d be bothered, I’m really not. I actually have some really fun plans for the week with some of my favourite people and I’m more excited about that than I am worried about moping around on the 14th Feb.

If you’re looking for a gift idea for your loved one then may I point you in the direction of Holly’s Lollies (read this post to find out more about Holly and her magical creations). Holly has come out with the most beautiful selection of boozy love themed treats that are perfect for showing your partner, or your best friends just how much you love them.

Heart Shaped Lollipop duo* | Trio of Boozy Lollipops* | Prosecco and Elderflower Rock Sweet Jar*

Holly very kindly sent me a selection of the Valentines Range to try out- so far I’ve only tried the prosecco and elderflower rock sweets (which might just be my new favourite sweet, ever) as I want to share the lollipop love with my friends and family but from previous experience I can assure you that anything you buy from Holly’s magic kitchen is going to be an absolute winner.

Speaking of winners…Holly has also offered up a trio of boozy lollipops (worth £11) for one of my readers/followers to win- with delivery in time for Valentines Day too! If you fancy your chances then just follow the simple steps below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

UK only, giveaway runs from 2-2-17 until 9-2-17 and winner will be picked and contacted by the end of that day. If no response within 24 hours a new winner will be selected and contacted.

Good Luck!

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Healthier Baking Ideas*

January is not a good month to be someone who loves to bake for other people- everyone is either on some kind of new year diet or so over-saturated with the rich foods of Christmas that they just can’t face any sweet treats. With that in mind I thought I’d explore a few ideas for healthier baking, mostly simple ingredient swaps to serve (mostly) as inspiration for myself and also to inspire my fellow baking addicts- and nab your ideas for healthier cakes and biscuits too!

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One simple swap you can make is to reduce saturated fats by replacing butter with an ingredient like rapeseed oil. There are a whole host of healthy baking recipes if you click the link- I especially like the look of the date and walnut cake which of course carries the added benefits of the dried fruit and nuts.
Obviously baked goods are notoriously laden with sugar and it’s hard to avoid it completely. 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 recently 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.
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. There are plenty of recipes out there for healthier toppings and you’ll gain the calcium, vitamin B12 and probiotics that yoghurts provide.
I’d love to know what smart-swaps you make for healthier baked goods, I’m getting bored of not baking and would love to get experimenting on healthier treats that both myself and those around me can enjoy. I’m notorious for not eating my own creations and it’s about time I started!

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Degustabox: December review and discount code

Some time amidst all of the madness of Christmas I took delivery of the December Degustabox* which was rammed full of new treats to try out. I’m a little late with posting my review, the last few weeks have been quite busy and my procrastination game has been strong, but here I am with my thoughts on the last box of 2016 as well as a hefty discount for anyone wishing to give this foodie subscription a whirl.

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.

Introductions over and it’s on to the contents…

First up are these Bahlsen Akora biscuits, a traditional German heart-shaped lebkuchen. Spiced jam filling, soft gingerbread and signature chocolate are combined to make one of my favourite festive treats. I’ve loved lebkuchen for as long as I can remember and this is up there with some of the best I’ve had. Sadly only available at Christmas but at £1.99 a bag it’s well worth stocking up on when you can.
It took me a while to get my head around this snack from Bite+. Essentially a savoury cereal each pack contains two servings with an RRP of £1.69. It comes in an assortment of flavours and are high fibre, low fat and packed with taste. Once I got my head around the fact that these were a snack and not some strange alternative to cornflakes I broke in to my pack and really enjoyed them.
This apple and cinnamon fudge from Oh Fudge was delicious- creamy and rich with an apple and cinnamon flavour that was perfect for this time of year. I don’t have the exact price information to hand but a quick google suggests this goes for around £3.50 a box which for the size of it isn’t bad at all. The packaging is gorgeous too so would make for a lovely gift.
Quick meals are my thing and what’s more comforting than a steaming bowl of risotto? This rich four cheese risotto from Gallo and risotto box with cheese and vegetables both cook wonderfully in the microwave and make for the ultimate comfort food dinner in minutes. The pouch costs £2.29 and the box £2.00 (perfect for a work day lunch).
I think Hoots is such a cool name for a snack! These are baked multigrain snacks designed to be an alternative to crisps. I especially enjoyed the salt & pepper flavour (I wish more things came in that flavour to be honest) and at £0.69 per pack they are pretty good value. Also suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
Maggi 3 minute noodles (£0.75) make for another quick and easy meal. The chicken flavour is pretty decent and being ready in only three minutes they appeal to my impatient nature. They are also available in beef and curry flavours and would make a good desk drawer emergency lunch.
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and whilst I am a creature of habit with what I choose (porridge and toast usually) I can be tempted in to trying something different from time to time. Nutri-Brex gluten free coconut and crispy rice are similar to weetabix in principle and really tasty especially with hot milk. At £3.79 I wouldn’t pay full price for them but would pick up a box or two if I saw them on offer.
I’m not much of a soft drinks person myself but do like to keep a few bottles of something in for when guests pop round. The alcohol free wine by Eisberg (£1.39) is ideal for drivers or those watching their weight. Made in the same way as normal wine but with the alcohol gently removed this has only 28kcal per 125ml serving. Also included was Newton’s Appl Fizzics (£1.29). This is a blend of apple juice and sparkling water which is all natural with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Crisp and refreshing even I enjoyed this!
Finally on the drinks front we have some What A Melon watermelon juice (£2.00) which I admit I am yet to try. This claims to be hydrating like coconut water but with extra anti-oxidants and amino acids. It sounds lovely I’ll admit so I’ll be sure to give it a go soon! the a2 milk (£1.39) is a long life cow’s milk which is free from the a1 protein that can trigger symptoms associated with lactose intolerance (although it isn’t suitable for anyone with a cow’s milk protein allergy). There’s not much I can say about this, it tastes like milk but has added benefits. Useful to have in as a stand-by!
If I’ve tempted you to treat yourself to a Degustabox subscription then you can claim a brilliant £7.00 discount off of your first box with the code 6HZJ8 making it only £5.99. I’d love to know if you do sign up and what your thoughts are! I look forward to getting my box every month as it’s a great way to try out new things that I’d otherwise overlook or never otherwise find.

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Degustabox provided for review purposes, all opinions and reviews are my own.

Super Snacking with Planet Hemp

When I was given the opportunity to review a new snack product I was pretty excited, I much prefer a little and often approach to eating and snacks happen at least three times a day for me. I admit I was less excited when the snacks arrived- despite kind of knowing what I was getting in to by accepting a product containing hemp, when faced with the reality of actually trying it my confidence wavered. There are lots of benefits to consuming hemp though, and in a bid not not rely solely on biscuits for my daily snack intake I decided to just be brave and get stuck in.

So, why eat hemp? Where to start! Firstly hemp seeds contain more protein than chicken and it’s high in omega 3 and 6 as well as iron, magnesium and manganese. Hemp is easy to digest as it contains no enzyme inhibitors (unlike many grains, legumes and nuts) and is also an excellent source of essential fatty acids. Hemp also contains all of the essential amino acids that our bodies require but can’t produce- never before has a snack of mine been such a nutritional powerhouse.

Super Mini Bouchées c/o Planet Hemp

These Forbidden Fruit flavoured hemp snacks come in an attractive pouch and promise a big taste as well as a big nutritional punch. A two piece serving contains 110 calories and is an excellent source of protein which is something I’m trying to be mindful of when it comes to my food choices.

I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about these to be honest. This is no bad thing, it means they aren’t terrible but I do find the texture for me has taken some getting used to (but I am an odd creature with many food texture aversions). If you can get past the texture- kind of crunchy but also kind of chewy they taste pretty good! The fruity flavour comes through well and there is no plant-y aftertaste which was probably my main concern for some reason.

With their short and simple ingredients list (of which you can pronounce everything, always a bonus!) and the fact they are gluten free, raw and vegan these are well worth a try if you’re trying to eat healthy or are looking for a nutrition boost over party season. As they are quite a dense texture and not crumbly they transport well and would easily slip in to your handbag. The protein fills you up nicely, perfect for all of the dashing about that comes with this time of year!

Planet Hemp is brand new to the UK and there are many other products in their range including hemp protein, hemp oil and hemp seeds. I haven’t been able to find an awful lot of UK stockists at present but you can order online at Dolphin Fitness who I’ve used before with success.

Let me know if you’ve tried any hemp products or have discovered any healthy new snacks- I’m on a food discovery adventure right now and I’m game on for pretty much anything.

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