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.

7 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.