Monday, 25 September 2017
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
It looked a bit dinky, but never mind this is Toblerone in ice cream form, who cares?
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.
|Dissected side view|
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
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.
Monday, 4 September 2017
Today's review is for Seed and Bean, a brand I have featured on occasion before - I particularly loved their White Chocolate, Lemon & Poppyseed Bar. This time I've been trying out some of their dark chocolate varieties.
Their dark chocolates are suitable for vegans, fairtrade, dairy free and gluten free, as well as organic. This one contains 58% Cocoa and is flavoured with lemon and cardamom, a bit of a unique pairing for chocolate!
It tastes nice, with rich, good quality dark chocolate that has a slightly acidic edge. The cardamom certainly makes for an interesting flavour profile combined with the lemon. I enjoyed this bar, it's not something you'd want to eat on the regular, but for "something a bit different" at Christmas it would make a nice variation. I would recommend this to vegans or anyone dairy free looking for something a bit different.
I also like that it's organic since Green & Blacks seem to be downplaying their organic range now with their Velvet Editions, which surely isn't a good sign for the organic chocolate market. Please people, support organic products, not only are they good for the environment they're better for your health too!
8.5 out of 10.
Friday, 1 September 2017
It's taken them a while, but Mondelez have finally graced the UK market with Dairy Milk Tiffin after a long absence. It was brought back as a limited edition last Summer in small tablets, but now due to popular demand has been permanently brought out in a larger 200g sharing block.
Cadbury offered me a bar to review, which although I couldn't eat myself due to gluten, I did share amongst friends to ask their thoughts.
Tiffin is of course the classic combination of shortcake biscuits and raisins combined with Dairy Milk, first launched in 1937, discontinued in 1972, brought back in 1985, and withdrawn again in 2003. Phew, this bar has had a lot of ups and downs!
I've previously reviewed the Irish Dairy Milk Tiffin bar, available in some UK supermarkets in a small size, and found it to be very tasty owing to the use of the traditional Dairy Milk in the recipe. Unfortunately, the UK version seems to use a different recipe...no one knows why, but it seems they use differently sourced milk vs the Irish version.
According to my friends who tried it, it still tastes pretty darn good though, with the biscuit and raisin combination making for an addictive and tasty treat. And thanks to the larger size it's perfect for sharing with friends or saving to eat over a few days. Good with a cuppa!
Overall, there's not much to say other than hurrah, Cadbury have listened to what consumers want and brought a classic nostalgic bar back to the shelves!
On a related note - let's just see how the latest Mondelez ploy to mess with Green & Blacks bars - by bringing out new flavours and removing the Organic tag - plays out. This is not good Karma, Mondelez!
Thursday, 31 August 2017
A big thankyou to the team at Kind Snacks who recently sent me a couple of their bars to review with updated packaging. The particular varieties are Coconut and Almond and Mocha Almond - two of my faves from the previous lot they sent to me!
Kind Almond & Coconut:
Containing a mixture of almonds, coconut, honey and rice flour, this bar was full of chunky almonds which made it very satisfying to crunch. The coconut gives it that nice mellow tropical flavour, with the honey bringing a light natural sweetness. Overall, a very satisfying and tasty bar! Compared to the previous packaging for this one I do prefer this updated version a lot more - it stands out nicely with the blue colours. 8.5 out of 10.
Kind Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond:
This is one I didn't get around to reviewing from the last batch that Kind sent me, so here it is! With funky updated purple packaging, the colours certainly fit the flavours on offer. This contains 58% almonds, 18% dark chocolate coating, cocoa nibs and 1% coffee, all giving it a rich, nutty mocha like flavour. It was very satisfying and made for a perfect snack along with a mid morning coffee. 8.5 out of 10.
Overall, these bars from Kind get a big thumbs up and it's nice to see them becoming more widely available in the UK. The new packaging makes them stand out a lot more and I'll certainly be purchasing them more often. They're popping up in most shops now so aren't that hard to find at all.
Mocha Almond: 199 Calories, 15g Fat, 16g Carbohydrates, 5.3g Sugars, 7.2g Fibre, 5.4g Protein.
Coconut Almond: 194 Calories, 4.8g Fat, 21g Carbohydrates, 12g Sugars, 2.8g Fibre, 3.3g Protein.
Tuesday, 29 August 2017
Aldi do a fine range of food nowadays, you can find pretty much the same things as most larger supermarkets, and oftentimes better quality. I'm a fan of their fresh fruit and veg in particular. But they also do some quality British meats, and by chance I was sent a voucher to review some of their steaks recently. My Aldi didn't have some of the fancier cuts in stock but they did have these 21 Day Matured steaks in, of which I chose Ribeye. Not something I eat very often so I was pretty excited to try it!
I cooked it under the grill, not bloody, not medium rare, but well done. That's how I like my steak! Despite being well done is was still very juicy and bursting with flavour. I have to say it's one of the best steaks I've had in a while, and beats the quality of stores like Tesco, whom I've tried Ribeye Steak from before and wasn't too impressed. The price point of these is also ideal - less than £4 - so you don't need to break the bank for some great quality meat.
Overall, I would highly recommend not only this steak but all the meat sold at Aldi - I've not had anything bad from there and the prices are very affordable. In fact a friend has told me that even butchers recommend Aldi's meat as it's the best quality. I'll certainly be making more regular purchases from there from now on, I just wish I had an Aldi closer to me!
8.5 out of 10.
Monday, 28 August 2017
Another day, another grape review...and slowly but surely I am joining the "let a grape just be a grape!" team, led by Nibbles 'N Scribbles, since most of the "flavoured" varieties have been such a disappointment for me. This time, I'm reviewing a darker variety, one that was recommended to me in the comments of my review of Marks and Spencer Tutti Frutti grapes.
I do love some darker grapes, especially when they are not just any grapes, but "expertly sourced for Marks and Spencer" grapes. At £3 a box these promised to be something rather special indeed.
I have to say, they weren't quite as amazing as I was expecting but they were certainly very tasty. Full of flavour and not as sweet as most varieties, I did enjoy these a lot but I guess I was looking for seomthing "more". Maybe that's my problem - a grape should just be a grape! Albeit good quality grapes. Compared to the Tuttu Frutti ones I would say these are just as nice, but I did prefer those slightly more for the sweeter flavour.
Overall, would I recommend these? Yes, absolutely, and while you're at it try the Tutti Frutti ones too! They're worth paying an extra pound for when compared to grapes from Tesco.
8.5 out of 10.
Friday, 25 August 2017
As well as various varieties of grapes I've been busy trying lots of different melons recently, you could say I've developed a slight obsession with the delicious fruits. Going sugar free does that to you! One intriguing melon I just had to try recently was this Orange Candy variety "expertly sourced for Marks & Spencer", which seems to also be available from Waitrose under a different name.
It's basically a Honeydew melon but with a darker orange colour, and is smaller in size.
The taste is very different from a Honeydew. I do love Honeydew's, they're so sweet and satisfying, but it's nice to have something a bit less sweet now and then. This one has a more muted sweeteness and a slight tartness, more flavour than a Honeydew and less empahsis on its sweetness. It's hard to describe really, but it's a very refreshing and tasty melon!
Comapred to a Honeydew, this certainly makes for a lovely change, and if you can get them at the reduced price of £2 I would highly recommend trying one! I probably wouldn't pay the full price of £3 but if they stay at this price I'll certainly go for one over a Honeydew.
8.5 out of 10.
Tuesday, 22 August 2017
Following on from my review of Marks and Spencer's Tutti Frutti Grapes last week, I thought I'd try out some more "candy inspired" grape varieties, one of them being Tesco's Candy Floss Seedless Grapes. These cost £2 a box for 400g and are widely available from most Tesco stores. There's also a Strawberry flavoured grape variety.
After the disappointing fact that the Tutti Frutti ones didn't taste of tutti frutti whatsoever, I wasn't really expecting much from these except sweeter than average grapes. And that's exactly what I got! Most white grapes are usually pretty sweet anyway - they're practically nature's candy - but these babies are even sweeter than regular. So if you're trying to curb your sweet tooth with natural foods, they might be delightful for you, but I personally found them too much and the sweetness detracted from them being enjoyable. I would much rather a good box of black grapes with some actual flavour in them as these had very little. They were just very sweet.
Overall, these aren't bad or anything they're just not much different to regular grapes. I've heard other brands such as M&S and Waitrose do better ones so I may check those out, but I won't be holding my breath.
6 out of 10.
Tuesday, 15 August 2017
Today's review is for Plenish, a new Dairy Free Nut Milk brand stocked in the likes of Sainsbury's and Waitrose, whose milks are made with clean ingredients and zero fillers. Which is impressive since almost every brand has some kind of stabiliser added! I picked their Organic Coconut M*lk to try when I saw it on offer in Sainsbury's, since I'm avoiding nuts at the moment. I don't know why the word "milk" has an asterisk in place of the "i"...it makes me think it's a swear word or something!
This variety is unsweetened and made from a mixture of filtered water, organic coconut milk, rice and sea salt. Pretty simple ingredients right? Apparently this is the only coconut milk on the market made without additives. I shook the bottle well as advised on the carton, and poured some into a glass.
The milk looked very creamy, but there were some worrying lumps floating about in it, seemingly from the coconut. This didn't bother me too much since I've experienced the same with other coconut milks before.
The milk tasted very nice, and it might sound gross, but the coconut lumps were actually rather pleasant to chew on! The milk itself is creamy and slightly sweet from the rice, and would be perfect in drinks or smoothies. It's kind of light in texture, but creamier than regular rice milk. I'm not sure if I prefer it to Rude Health's Coconut Milk as it's pretty similar...maybe I should do a head to head taste test of them both.
Overall, for a coconut milk made with organic, clean ingredients this is excellent. Whilst not perfect due to the lumps, I would still buy it again over any other coconut milk with stabilisers in! If you're vegan or dairy intolerant I would recommend giving this a try.
As a side-note...did anyone else mistake the name as "Penis" rather than Plenish? Now there's a scary thought!
Nutrition Information (per 100ml): 46 Calories, 1.6g Fat, 7.9g Carbohydrates, 4.6g Sugars, 0.2g Protein.
Ingredients: Filtered water, Coconut milk 9%, Rice, Sea Salt.
8 out of 10.
Monday, 14 August 2017
Today's review is another departure, for once I'm reviewing actual food - grapes to be precise! I've been eating a lot more fruit recently since cutting down on refined sugar, so when I saw these Tutti Frutti grapes in Marks and Spencer I couldn't resist giving them a try. "Grapes that taste of sweets?", I thought. I was rather excited indeed.
They're expertly sourced for Marks & Spencer from vineyards around the world, and the grapes are ripened longer on the vine than regular grapes. Yes, these are not just any grapes...
I was disappointed to find that they weren't in fact tutti frutti flavoured (whatever that is) they were simply a sweeter, juicier variety of grapes. Which isn't to say these didn't taste good - they tasted DELICIOUS. Seriously some of the best grapes I've ever had. But they weren't tutti frutti flavoured.
After trying a few varieties of "flavoured" grapes now from Candyfloss to Strawberry, I've come to the realization that they're just descriptions for various sweeter variations of grapes. I suppose it's similar to how wines have different descriptions for their flavours ("woody", "tobacco" etc) that have nothing to do with the actual wine.
Overall, should you buy these grapes? If you fancy a treat in grape form, yes absolutely! They're excellent quality and very tasty. Just don't go expecting the flavours promised from them.
What's your experience of flavoured grapes? Have you discovered one that tastes of what it's supposed to? Let me know in the comments!
Friday, 11 August 2017
Being on a low sugar diet it's hard to find many interesting chocolates, yes there's the lovely Montezuma's Absolute Black but sometimes you want some added crunch or flavour. Luckily Montezuma's have come to the rescue with not one, but two new Absolute Black varieties - the first 100% cacao bars on the market with added flavours. These are not available in major supermarkets just yet, but you can get them online from www.montezumas.co.uk. Luckily Montezuma's kindly sent me boith to review.
Absolute Black 100% Cocoa Solids with Almonds:
This bar is sugar free, vegan, and contains 80% chocolate and 20% almonds. Opening the wrapper the bar has the standard Montezuma's design - blocks make up half of it, with a thicker piece on one end with the Montezuma's logo. I've said it before but I do love the block design, it's nice to have the smaller pieces as well as a nice thicker piece to munch on!
The almonds are clearly visible when you snap off a block, although not evenly distributed throughout the bar unfortunately. I suspect it's difficult to make sure there's a piece in every block since they're whole rather than chopped almonds.
Taking a bite of a piece with the almonds in, it was lovely; the chocolate is rich and flavoursome, with a slightly fruity cocoa edge. It's not bitter like some 100% chocolates can be. The almonds bring a bit of chewiness as well as a creamy, nutty edge that really compliments the chocolate, and in fact tones it down a little. I loved this bar, it's the perfect mixture of more intense cocoa flavours with sweeter creamy almonds. My only gripe is that there weren't more of them distributed throughout the bar, but overall this was my favourite out of the two! 9 out of 10.
Absolute Black 100% Cocoa Solids with Orange & Cocoa Nibs:
This bar is also sugar free and vegan, containing 93% chocolate, 7% cocoa nibs and orange oil. The nibs are fairly distributed throughout the bar so you get plenty in each bite. The chocolate had a pleasant zesty aroma when I opened the wrapper.
Taking a bite, this was a very crunchy bar indeed, the nibs give it the perfect texture. The orange oil gives it a welcoming citrus flavour, that almost reminded me of Chocolate Orange, but much better. The nibs are a little harsh in taste so it's good the orange oil counteracts their bitterness. I enjoyed this bar, and the crunchy texture is great, but I did find the nibs a bit too harsh to properly appreciate it overall. It's a shame because the orange flavour is lovely. I was torn between this and the almonds bar as to my favourite, because I love this one for the orange flavour and the almond bar for the lack of harshness. I think an almonds bar with orange oil and no cocoa nibs would be the ideal combination - but that's just me! I will still buy this if I see it in shops for a sugar free treat. 8 out of 10.
Overall...I have to congratulate Montezuma's for creating these two bars for those of us who are sugar free, they sure make life a lot more interesting! I hope this is the start of a new trend towards 100% chocolate with added flavourings, it's one that would be very welcome to many and would help people stick with lower sugar and low carb diets longterm. I'd like to see a bar with coconut or perhaps dried berries added...there's so many options to choose from. Please keep up the good work Montezuma's!
Available from: Montezumas.co.uk.
Nutrition (per 25g):
Orange & Cocoa Nibs: 13g Fat, 2g Carbohydrates, 3g Protein, 4g Fibre.
Almonds: 14g Fat, 2g Carbohydrates, 3g Protein, 4g Fibre.