Food- Get Buzzing*

One of the most liberating things, for me, in recovery from an eating disorder is the new found freedom to try things that previously just wouldn’t have been “allowed”. I love food (there, I said it) and I’m a serial snacker to any excuse to try something different and broaden those horizons is welcome. Therefore, a box jam packed full of snack bars from Get Buzzing was INCREDIBLY welcome.

Get Buzzing is a company who makes 100% natural, nut free flapjacks which includes a protein range and a gluten free range. They are all about real food and real taste and with a wide range of exciting flavours available I was desperate to get stuck in despite flapjacks being one of my few remaining feared foods.

Obviously there are a lot of bars to get through here so this post is mostly brief notes on each flavour and variety…

Mint chocolate high protein bars: This was a flavour I was quite unsure about. I love mint and I love chocolate but how does it translate to flapjack? Very well as it turns out, this was a really unique snack and is both nut free and gluten free. Not my favourite of the bunch, but really rather good.

Wow butter nut free flapjacks: This claims to have the flavour of peanut butter minus the peanuts and really, it does. I really enjoyed this flapjack- I generally love anything peanut butter flavoured anyway and this really hit the spot.

Date and seed bars: This was one of my favourites despite not generally liking seeds. The dates give this a deliciously rich sweetness and the seeds add a great texture contrast.

Mixed berry flapjacks: Berry flavoured anything is never my first choice and as a rule I avoid it. Whilst not my top pick of the Get Buzzing bunch I really enjoyed these flapjacks and would definitely purchase them if I saw them in a shop.

Protein and cherry flapjack: Another protein bar and a real winner! This was hands down my favourite out of the bunch with a good, strong cherry flavour and no strange protein after taste. Each bar packs a decent 14.7g protein, perfect for anyone looking for a boost.

Banana nut free flapjack: I had expected this to be my favourite bar but it actually fell somewhere in the middle. It’s not bad, really it isn’t…but I didn’t find the banana quite to my liking and I can’t put my finger on why. I’d still buy these and will happily eat my way through my samples but I do feel like it’s missing something, somewhere.

If you’re interested in trying Get Buzzing bars for yourself then you can purchase them through their website as well as selected other stockists.

Flapjacks are never going to be the healthiest snack option in the world but with ingredients such as rolled oats and dried fruit as well as their nut free, gluten free and high protein credentials I certainly feel like you could do worse. I think it’s safe to say I’ve conquered my flapjack fear!

Which flavour takes your fancy the most? I love that you can buy a little sampling pack to help you make up your mind. Let me know if you try any and what you think.


Products sent to me for blog consideration, I was under no obligation to post.

Spreading Summer Fun with Macabella

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of a delivery from Macabella, the makers of the most divine chocolate base spread ever. I’ve featured, and baked with the brand before as well as giving the spread itself a glowing review so I was more than excited to get the chance to work with them again.

By way of introduction for those who don’t know, Macabella spread is a heavenly fusion of chocolate and macadamia nuts which comes in two varities- velvet smooth and crunchy. It’s now available to buy from Ocado at £3 for a jar- and trust me, it’s well worth every penny.

This time the package included a curious selection of baking accessories along with the spread, including some silicone ice lolly moulds that just begged to be used. Therefore the first recipe I present to you today is for some Macabella ice lollies that use just two ingredients- so simple it can barely be called a recipe!
For these I quite simply took 1/3 cup of Macabella Crunch and 2/3 cup of milk the blended it all together until well combined. I then divided this between four ice lolly moulds- although I could have got six from it and popped in the freezer. I think probably these would have worked better with whole milk rather than semi skimmed but it’s really down to preference- they’d probably also work well with cream for a more indulgent treat! I left mine to freeze over night but did take some out after a couple of hours to pop on some decorations.
The second thing I made was these swirly muffins, inspired by my boyfriend musing about marble cake after we saw it in a coffee shop one Saturday. These turned out so well- the spread makes the cakes super moist and provides a good contrast to the sponge and they’ve already been requested again by aforementioned boyfriend. I used a recipe I found online here but obviously used Macabella (velvet this time) instead. They were really easy to do and I strongly recommend both this recipe and incorporating Macabella in to just about anything you might be planning to bake!
Let me know if you try either of these ideas out, or what else you think I should bake with the spread.


Crazy for Ice Cream*

I’ve always said that should I ever get married then my one requirement is that I can have an ice cream van at the reception. I’m an ice cream obsessive- although it’s only recently I’ve felt able to admit this (anorexia banned me from admitting to liking any type of food for far too many years). Childhood holidays are punctuated with memories of Mr Whippy, getting covered in ice cream and red sauce and laughing at my Nan as she inevitably was the first to spill hers down herself, so when this graphic about the evolution of the ice cream van came along courtesy of Van Monster I knew I had to share. Fellow ice cream fanatics read on…
I’m a bit of a history geek so it’s great to finally know the origins of one of the greatest inventions of all time, as well as how things differ around the world. It’s definitely true that there are far less vans on the streets these days, although where I live appears to have quite a dense population of them still- there’s always one parked up near work seemingly all year round!

What was/is your favourite thing to get from the ice cream van? For me it’s a 99 flake with a good squiggle of red sauce…I do recall a place in Cornwall that had a whole rainbow of different sauces though, that really ought to be a thing nationwide!


Should we return to the kitchen?*

How many meals per week are you eating away from home? Over the last few decades more and more people have been ordering takeaways as they become easier to access and more affordable. However research published by the John Hopkins School of Public Health has claimed that people who frequently cook meals at home eat healthier and consume fewer calories. Thankfully (I think) for me I live in a very small town with few takeaways available meaning I’ve only caved to temptation perhaps twice in my life. Not going to lie though, I do feel like I’m missing out sometimes, especially when only a piping hot Dominos will do!

Join five-star kitchen splashbacks supplier The Plastic People as they explore just how popular eating out and ordering takeaways has become, as well as why we should consider putting the menus away and instead get back to cooking in our kitchens:

(Christopher Flowers)

Our love for takeaways
Digital takeaway specialists Just Eat previously shed light on how popular takeaways are for UK families when considering research commissioned to celebrate the launch of the 2015 British Takeaway Awards.
According to the study close to half of people aged under 35 years old will serve their families a takeaway meal for a get-together. Reasons for doing so included both parents having to work longer hours as well as trying to fit their children’s extra-curricular activities into the day.
The same piece of research also found that over 25% of survey respondents admit to passing off takeaway meals as their own food when inviting guests round. In this regard more than a half of those who admitted to doing this said that they simply didn’t have enough time to cook.
Just Eat’s Graham Corfield pointed out: “Modern lives are incredibly busy and often both parents work long hours. So increasingly people are looking for ways to be more effective with their time so that they can spend as much of the day as possible with their families and doing the things they love.”

A spotlight on Just Eat
Just Eat has marked it’s place as one of the main companies associated with the takeaway scene of the 21st century — with this particularly evident when looking at the firm’s 2016 full year results.
Founded in 2001, Just Eat completed last year with 17.6 million active customers — up 31% from the 13.4 million active customers in 2015 — who were connected to more than 68,500 restaurant partners. This huge group of customers also placed 136.4 million orders through Just Eat in 2016 which works out a 4.3 orders per second and is a considerable rise from the 96.2 million orders placed through the service in 2015.
The UK is Just Eat’s largest market, with the market for delivered takeaway food for this country expanding from £5.5 billion in 2015 to £6.1 billion last year and Just Eat finishing 2016 with 9.2 million active UK customers.

The case for home cooking
A study carried out by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has suggested that people should reconsider their eating habits going forward.
This is because after analysing data from the 2007/10 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey which involved over 9,000 participants aged 20 years old and over the researchers concluded that those who frequently cook meals at home eat more healthily and consume fewer calories than those who cook less. This conclusion was reached as…

48 per cent of participants cooked dinner between six and seven times a week and consumed 2,164 calories, 81 grams of fat and 119 grams of sugar on an average day.

Eight per cent of participants cooked dinner once or less a week and consumed 2,301 calories, 84 grams of fat and 135 grams of sugar on an average day.

Julia A. Wolfson, MPP, a CLF-Lerner Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the study’s lead author pointed out: “When people cook most of their meals at home they consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all – even if they are not trying to lose weight.”
There was also a suggestion from the research that those who cooked at home six to seven nights a week also consumed fewer calories whenever they did decide to spend a night away from the kitchen and eating out instead.

Wolfson added: “The evidence shows people who cook at home eat a healthier diet. Moving forward it’s important to educate the public about the benefits of cooking at home, identify strategies that encourage and enable more cooking at home, and help everyone, regardless of how much they cook make healthier choices when eating out.”

Lucky for me both my boyfriend and I love to cook and find greater satisfaction in preparing something ourselves than order in, we’re also trying to save money so limit eating out to a couple of times a month no matter how great the temptation. I can see where the appeal lies though and personally I would like to see healthier takeaway options available (Pizza Hut for example don’t offer their delicious flat bread pizzas as a takeaway option) and better awareness/labelling of nutritional information to help people make informed choices.


July’s Summer Degustabox

I feel like a broken record saying this- but where has the month gone? It seems like only a few days ago I was last sitting down to write my June Degustabox review and yet here we are again with July’s box- this time on a Summer theme.

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.

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.

First up, some of the drinks included in this month’s box. I was really excited to see the Blossom Hill Spritz in Lemon and Elderflower as to me that is the ultimate Summer flavour combination. This is designed to be a fresh and fruity twist on wine and it really is. Perfect with ice and a slice!. There were also some soft drinks included from Thor- I don’t have the product information on these but I’m sure I recognise them from previous boxes and they’ve been well received.
Regular readers will know I tend to skip over the drinks part of the box as I’m not really a soft drinks or juices person but even I couldn’t resist trying some of this Mango and Passionfruit juice drink from Crafted. Again, a complete winner of flavour combinations and there is no added sugar or sweetener in the drinks. A serving of this counts as one of your five a day and it’s a great soft drink to break out at a BBQ.
There was a voucher in this month’s box for a big tub kids yoghurt from The Collective. I’m yet to find this available locally (small town life) but I hope I do as the banana and vanilla flavour is right up my street. There just aren’t enough banana flavour yoghurts on the market so I can’t wait to try this one.
The product of the month was these Rowntree’s Randoms 30% less sugar sweets which I have tried before. They pretty much taste just like the sweets we know and love but contain less sugar as well as no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners. These are pretty good sweets- sugar addicted boyfriend approved!
One of my favourite things about Summer eating is putting together snacky plates of crackers, olives and hummus. These new Ryvita thins in three cheese haven’t been opened yet but look very appealing based on the packaging and perfect as part of a picnic or snack platter. The olives from Oloves were one of the first things to be eaten from this month’s box. I love olives and these snack pouches are just so handy! Seasoned with chilli, garlic and oregano they are a perfectly portable healthy snack.
These are the products I’m yet to try- Maille Dijon Original which apparently makes a good accompaniment to steak. I’m not a fan of mustard or steak so will pass this on to someone to try out, but it does look good! I’ve had the merchant gourmet simply cook red and white quinoa before so can vouch for this! It’s ready to eat but can be heated as well and makes a great base for a summer salad, or a side dish as an alternative to rice. We use Frylight a lot in this house as I have an aversion to the texture of actual oils so I’m looking forward to trying this new Avocado variety. You can use this for pan frying, roasting, stir fries etc and to me it’s a store cupboard staple.
I love Weetabix and I love their new additions range. Coconut and raisin is a really lovely, summery flavour combination that I’ve been enjoying as both breakfast and as a snack. Served with ice cold milk (but not too much, they can’t be too soggy!) I highly recommend these.
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.