Saturday, 25 March 2017

NEW! Muscle Moose Protein Pancakes & 1 Minute Mug Cakes (Online)

A couple of weeks ago I received a message from Muscle Moose who said that they would really like to send me some goodies. I certainly wasn't going to turn down an offer like that, especially given how much I enjoyed their peanut butter cup protein mousse. I then heard through the grapevine that MM were launching mug cake and pancake mixes. Hmm. I've tried a few protein cakes and pancake mixes over the past few months (including my homemade versions) and so it felt a little like they were late to the game. I found myself wondering what MM could add to the market.

When the delivery arrived early this week I was pleased though on a few accounts:



1. It was the first time I'd come across a large multipack bag of cake mix
2. The macros for both pancakes and cakes were pretty damn good
3. They're GOLDEN SYRUP flavoured!

Good shout MM. Golden syrup is so under appreciated! If by any chance you've read my rant in the Weetabix Additions post you'll know how much we value the golden syrup in my house. Also the flavour makes for a very good base for adding toppings and/or fillings.

Protein Pancakes

"Muscle Moose Protein Pancakes are what breakfast was invented for. These extra fluffy, easy to make pancakes are a taste sensation. The world is your oyster when it comes to toppings – fresh berries, banana, peanut butter and more (not oyster though, no one wants that for breakfast!) – a perfect way to start your day!"

With over 26g of protein in every 50g (dry mix weight) serving and only 194kCal, these pancakes are little powerhouses. Instructions are similar to those on the Flapjacked pack: simply add 75ml water and mix.



The pancakes aerated as they cooked, turning a lovely tan colour. They didn't stick to the pan either and were easy to flip. I made 6 scotch sized pancakes from one serving and topped them with sugar free maple syrup and fresh raspberries.



The pancakes were soft and fluffy, with a good texture and gentle syrupy sweetness. I could taste the protein powder but it wasn't off-putting.

Good macros, easy to make and a decent flavour. They're more expensive than flapjacked but contain more protein and much lower carbs. My only complaint is that they didn't fill me up for very long (flapjacked was better for that due to the oat content) but MM's protein pancake mix is good as a snack.

8/10
Macros per 50g serving: kCal:184 P:26.2 /C: 13.1 / F: 3.7

1 minute mug cakes

"Muscle Moose Mug Cakes are your high protein, gluten free daily treat of fluffy cakey goodness! There’s no need to wait for after dinner to enjoy this cake mix – it’s a great snack any time of day. Even better, no baking is required so you’ll be saving time and increasing your protein intake – everyone wins!"

It's a shame that the old school puddings have fallen out of favour really. Golden syrup sponges and treacle tarts are desserts of beauty but often fall by the wayside in favour of salted caramel everything. I was therefore thrilled when I opened the bag of cake mix and was greeted with the most delicious nostalgic hit of syrup. Mmm.

Each cake serving contains just 186kCal, with 20g of protein. The instructions suggest adding 50-60ml of water to 50g of the mix, whisk, and microwave for 60 seconds. Simple.


Except of course I decided to be fancy and full my first cake with sliced banana and Hershey's caramel sauce.

The smell that emanated was almost unbearable in its in-toxicity. Fortunately I didn't have to wait long to dig in. 60 seconds wasn't quite long enough in my paltry little microwave, but 70 did the trick.



Mmm. The gooey cake was simply scrummy. I was at once transported back to the days of cold winters evenings and comforting puds, and I instantly wished I'd got some Ambrosia to go with it. The texture was soft and squidgy and the flavour was powerful. It was everything I hoped for and more.

9/10
Macros per serving: 186kCal P:20.1 /C:16.1 /F: 3.8

Summary
Bravo Muscle Moose. The pancakes are good but the cakes are even better. I can't wait for more flavours to come out. Both 500g packs contain 10 servings and are now available to buy from Muscle Moose's website.

Thank you for the samples Muscle Moose!











Friday, 24 March 2017

NEW! Jaffa Cake Ice Cream (Tesco)

I'm in the middle of a chocolate orange frenzy at the moment, despite claiming not to be the biggest fan of the combination. This was the last of the four new Tesco luxury pint ice cream tubs that I fancied trying though, and despite the failure of both the Red Velvet & Jammy Ring flavours, I just couldn't help myself. After all there's no quality chocolate orange ice creams on the mass market is there? Please do correct me if I'm wrong.

"Chocolate ice cream with an orange ripple, sponge cake pieces and dark chocolate curls."

Removing the lid didn't reveal much appearance-wise, however I could smell the classically Christmas aroma of Terry's chocolate orange. Mmm.

Digging down into the soft but scoopable tub I soon uncovered a plentitude of sponge cake pieces, orange sauce and chocolate curls. Could this be Tesco's redeeming ice cream?


Yes! Comparatively the ice cream wasn't anywhere near as indulgently rich as Jude's but it was chocolatey! I was pleased that Tesco chose to use plain sponge pieces, and they were fluffy & soft -breaking up the texture nicely.


The orange sauce was a winner too, it was bold and zingy, providing a wonderful fusion of flavours with the chocolate. It really did taste just as it smelt- it's the Terry's ice cream!

The chocolate curls were an equally thoughtful touch and made a welcome change from the standard chocolate chips that are nearly always used instead. They cracked as you ate, offering an unexpected crunchiness to the ice cream.


Finally! A Tesco tub that's worth the £2! A better quality ice cream base would have heralded higher marks, but I'll happily buy Tesco's Jaffa Cake tub again. 

8/10

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Skinny Bakery: Less Calories, Fat & Sugar Product Review (Online)

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by The Skinny Bakery who asked me to review their products. This was a very welcome request seeing as I've been pawing over images of their range on Instagram for quite some time. Haven't heard of The Skinny Bakery? Let me fill you in...

The Skinny Bakery is the brainchild of baker Mariella Forte, who set up the company in 2013 with a vision to create delicious baked treats containing a fraction of the calories of their traditional counterparts. Think flapjacks, cookies, tarts, and cakes that even dieters can enjoy. Salivating yet? You should be.

A couple of days later a box arrived. Well it arrived at my neighbour's house actually, who came out running as soon as she saw me return home from uni. 

"Amy! Amy! There's a parcel here for you, and it says to refrigerate it! But there's no room in my fridge!" She cried (she's a good egg).

Luckily it was a cold day and the cakes still all looked in perfect nick. The parcel contained 8 individual packs of treats, each of which contained less than 212kcals or less.


Skinny Beetroot Pearls (169kcals)
There's two flavours in this world that I really can't stomach, and those are beetroot and liquorice. I almost gave these to a friend, but then my curiosity got the better of me.

"Pack of beetroot sponges piped with a quark based low fat cream cheese frosting"

Blow me down. I'm sure I grimaced as I prepared to take my first mouthful, but my expression soon took a change for the better. The cake was unbelievably moist, with a very mild beetroot flavour. I tasted the delicate balance between earthiness and dark cocoa, contrasted with the slight tang from the quark centres. I'm not a beetroot convert by any means, but I can honestly say that this is the first beetroot product I've ever truly enjoyed.

7/10

Skinny Chocolate Pearls (208kcals)
Given the success of the beetroot Pearls, I was very much looking forward to their chocolatey sibling.

"Pack of chocolate sponges piped with our signature tofu-chocolate frosting. Low fat and a good source of protein. 21% tofu, 25% low fat yoghurt."

I was right to be excited. They tasted exactly like a very fudgy chocolate cake. The flavour was rich and dark whilst texturally they were moist and squidgy. I might've double checked the packaging to make sure I hadn't misunderstood and that they were 208kcal per cube. I wasn't, they were 208kcals for all 6 Pearls. Incredible.

10/10

Skinny Coconut Bites (212kcals)

 "Pack of 5 vegan coconut balls with only 5 ingredients. No added sugar and wheat free."

I was looking forward to these because they're made with peanut butter! However, whilst they were soft I found that none of the flavours really stood out and they were a little on the bland side.

5/10

Skinny Sweet Potato Brownies (189kcal)

"Pack of sweet potato brownie bites, gluten and dairy free recipe, made with 46% sweet potato and sweetened with dates – only 38 calories each!"

It's a shame I'd tried the Pearls first really! These were yummy, but they weren't as chocolatey as the Pearls. They are a good treat if you're gluten and/or dairy free though!

7/10

Skinny Carrot Cake Pearls
"Pack of carrot cake sponges piped with a quark based low fat cream cheese frosting."

These are a new addition to the Skinny Bakery collection, and boy are they good! They're moist, yet fluffy and well spiced. The ratio of cake:filling was spot on and the mini morsels contained currants -Tesco take note. These surpass most of the full fat/sugar carrot cakes I've had. Delicious!

10/10

Skinny Choc Chip Cookies (187kcal)


"Pack of soft dairy-free chocolate chip biscuits – only 37Kcal each"

My pack contained a mixture of mushroom,star and heart shaped cookies, which were texturally somewhere between a biscuit and a cookie. In fact they reminded me of rusks! They were less sweet than I'm used to, and I could barely taste the chocolate. Tasty, but not outstanding.

6/10

Skinny Choc & Orange Cookies (181kcal)

"Pack of soft dairy-free chocolate chip and orange biscuits – only 36Kcal each"

I couldn't really taste very much difference between these and their standard choc chip cookies. Both the chocolate and the orange could've done with being bolder.

6/10

Skinny Double Chocolate Meringue Cookies (141kcal)
The pack contained 7 rather splendid looking cookies. Instead of eating them on their own I decided to make a wicked dessert with them and sandwiches them between Jude's Chocolate with a touch of sea salt ice cream.

"Pack of chocolate cookies made with egg whites and dairy-free chocolate. Crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. 30 calories per average cookie."

Genius. The cookies were exactly as promised. They were crispy, crunchy, chewy and chocolatey! My decision to pair them with the indulgently dark ice cream was a good one, and the added creaminess added a wonderful additional layer of flavour and texture. The double chocolate Meringue cookies are definite winners!

9/10

Summary

I love the idea of The Skinny Bakery, and many of their products are simply scrummy. I'm sure I could live off the chocolate and carrot cake pearls as well as their double chocolate meringue cookies. The packaging is cute and a lot of their products are suitable for those requiring dairy free and/or gluten free diets. The cakes have a short shelf-life but can be frozen for up to 6 months -if you can wait that long! If you love the sound of them and fancy giving them a go please check out their website, where you can receive 10% off your order by using the code STARTER10 at checkout.

**A huge thank you to the team at The Skinny Bakery for sending me the samples**







Wednesday, 22 March 2017

NEW! Häagen-Dazs Speculoos Caramel Biscuit & Cream Ice Cream (Tesco)

Recently I admitted something embarrassing on Instagram. I bought a tub of the Häagen-Dazs Cookie Dough Chip ice cream and acknowledged that I hadn't tried the brand before -or if I had I certainly couldn't remember it. Indeed the reason why I bought the tub was because Sainsbury's were advertising it as new and had it on offer (a combination as a food blogger that is near-on impossible to refrain). I apologise HD fans, but I really wasn't bowled over by it. Ben & Jerry's still got my vote. In came the suggestions of other, better flavours that I needed to try - many of which were caramel based.

Fortunately HD have listened to their customers and have recently brought out a four pack of mixed mini tubs called their 'caramel collection', which launched in Tesco for a princely £4. 


Whilst the idea of trying a selection of the HD caramel flavours was appealing, it was the inclusion of a new-to-the-UK flavourthat really made the pack tempting. When the new HD collection packs* came on offer this week my restraint buckled and I headed straight to Tesco to hand over my £2.50.


"Caramel & Speculoos (11%) ice cream."

HD suggest waiting 10 minutes after retrieving your tub from the freezer before consumption. Ha! I haven't got that kind of patience I'm afraid. Instead I tried to scoop the rock solid ice cream straight away. Badly.


The cinnamon biscuit was immediately evident both from the sweet scent and golden speckles rage permeated the ice cream. I couldn't see a huge amount of biscuit pieces but hoped they were just playing a game of hide and seek.


One thing I do really like about HD is the indulgent creaminess that somehow tastes more refreshing than other brands. The caramel was relinquished to the back of the flavour queue but lingered in the background to allow the gentle spice to shine through. The cinnamon wasn't as punchy as it is in Ben & Jerry's 'Speculoos? Specu-Love', but admittedly the HD version is smoother and more refined.


I loved the little biscuit pieces which -despite my initial reservations- were in abundance and crunchy. To me they tasted more like shortbread, but the ingredients list gives little away as to the reality of my supposition.

If you're a HD/caramel ice cream fan I suggest you head to Tesco and buy the collection whilst it's still on offer. I would buy the Speculoos Caramel Biscuit & Cream as a full pint if HD launched one, but only on offer... otherwise it's back to Ben & Jerry for me!

8/10

*there's also fruit, sorbet and vanilla collections available, all currently £2.50.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

NEW! Carrot Cake Muffins with a Cream Cheese Centre (Tesco)

Chocolate orange and carrot cake are the flavours of the season it seems. Every man and his basket have got on the choc orange hot cross buns bandwagon this year (stay tuned for the last in that series very shortly!) and all of a sudden the carrot cake craze is popping up. Hoorah! The humble carrot cake has been vastly under appreciated until now, and it's lovely to see such a summery flavour appearing on a shelves - it certainly makes a welcome change from dulce de leche/salted caramel everything. What's even better is that these companies are filling these products with cream cheese. I always find that cupcakes are a bit lopsided on their ratios. Yes buttercream is tasty (when done right) but the cake should always be the star of the show, and somehow it gets lost under showy icing when part of a cupcake. That's why I think filling cake is a better concept. Anyway, as soon as @productsinstore alerted me to the new Tesco muffins the hunt began. 

The first store I visited wouldn't sell me any because they were "waiting for a manager to set them up" (your guess is as good as mine) but fortunately the nice manager that I found in the bakery department of Hereford's smaller Tesco retrieved me some from the freezer. Thank you kind sir! The four pack cost £1, and I just prayed that they were better than their Christmas Red Velvet muffins

"Spiced carrot cake with a tangy cream cheese centre." 

The muffins were a decent size and colour, speckled with sugar crystals on their tops. 


I sliced through and discovered how close crumb it was. Was that all of the filling? I thought M&S were stingy, but this was ridiculous, there could only be a teaspoonful of cream cheese at the bottom there.


The cake was well spiced with a strong cinnamon flavour and a slight warmth from the ginger. There were hints of carrot throughout, but it wasn't as prominent as one would expect in a home made version. The texture was soft, but it was so moist that it was claggy and almost raw in places. 

It wasn't just the cream cheese that was missing either. Where were the raisins at? Surely a carrot cake has to have dried fruit in too? Humf. One of the qualities I love most about carrot cake is the plump raisins that break up the texture and burst in your mouth as you munch.  

I did enjoy the sugar crystal topping however, which reminded me of country cake (albeit without the raisins). 

As for the cream cheese at the bottom, it was fairly good, but its location and meagreness meant that it was impossible to enjoy some with every mouthful of cake. 

Tesco' Carrot Cake muffins are kind of the anti-cupcake I suppose. Let's hope M&S carrot cake muffins are better, and if not I'll be sticking to their buns

6/10

Monday, 20 March 2017

NEW! Reflex Amino Fusion® (CNSport)

Have you seen Reflex's new packaging yet? The company announced last year that they were overhauling their exhausting branding, and it's "look for the future" is starting to roll out. Reflex have restructured their product categories from 5 to 3, making it easier to choose products depending on your goals. All existing products are staying but will come under either: strength & performance, high protein or vitality (previously weight management).

It's not just the labels that are experiencing change either, there's a few new products on their way too. The first of which is Reflex's Amino Fusion - an extension of their successful BCAA intra fusion. Now I don't claim to be a body building expert, but I certainly enjoy lifting and so I didn't really know what to expect when offered the chance to try the new Aminos. Apparently my other half did though: "eurgh, BCAAs are disgusting, they'll make you sick" I think we're his exact words. That was before I reminded him that the last ones he tried weren't made by Reflex, and he was talking 10 years ago. Given how much protein products have come along in the last few years I took his thoughts with a pinch of salt. More importantly I wanted to know what BCCAs were, and what they could or would do for me.

Well, according to research:
"BCAAs (branched- chain Amino acids) are made up of three essential amino acids that the body is unable to produce on its own: leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three amino acids have a branched side chain of carbon molecules that simplifies the energy conversion during intense exercise. Muscle tissues in the body are about 35 percent BCAAs and—here’s the key—the more BCAAs present in the muscle tissue, the more they will be used for energy; thus, slowing the breakdown of muscle cells and preventing muscle loss.
BCAA supplementation provides two avenues aimed towards improving endurance performance—both by providing our bodies with additional energy source and by altering the mental perception of fatigue." 

So the key is, if you're working out, they help you prevent muscle loss. Sounds good to me. But what's Reflex's Amino Fusion all about?

"Amino Fusion® is formulated to be the market leading amino energy formula; it provides up to 40% more amino acids than some other formulas, tastes amazing, contains zero sugars and provides great caffeine kick.
Amino Fusion® only contains research supported amino acids along with science based dosages of citrulline malate, beta alanine and l-carnitine tartrate."

It's available in four flavours: green apple, pink lemonade, fruit punch and watermelon. I received the green apple to try, and boy did it smell strong. I felt like I'd walked into an old fashioned sweet shop -it was that potent!


The serving suggestion is 3 mini scoops (9g) of Amino Fusion with 300ml of water. The drink is designed to be taken before or during exercise so I decided to take it to the gym with me instead of my usual squash.


Ha! In your face Bert! I knew I could trust Reflex to deliver the goods. The Amino Fusion blended easily in my state-of-the-art water bottle 😉 and tasted incredible! Like, seriously good and much better than Robinson's fruit and barley. I drunk it yesterday alongside my first training in a week (I've had a chest infection, boo) and don't even ache too badly today (day after leg day, you know what I mean). Perhaps I didn't work hard enough, or perhaps it's the Amino Fusion, who knows? In any case I'm not risking it and it will become my new gym staple - every bit as important as headphones!

9/10

Amino Fusion is available to buy direct from Reflex's website, or through reputable sports retailers such as CNSport. Don't forget to enter my instagram competition before midnight tomorrow (21st March) to be in with a chance of winning 12 cans of Reflex's Protein coffee too!

Thank you to Reflex Nutrition for the samples.


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Art of Mallow: So Strawberries & Cream (Online)

I think I've mentioned before about my Dad's talent for finding interesting foodie treats for me to try. He's a horticultural expert and lecturer so spends the majority of his time scouring the country, often popping into different garden centres. It's in one such place that he came across this bag of Art of Mallow 'So Strawberries and Cream' gourmet marshmallows. Marshmallows are another treat I go through phases of being addicted to, but admittedly I hadn't had any since trying Mallow & Marsh's Dark Chocolate Coated Raspberry Marshmallow bar last year. So who are Art of Mallow?


"Art of Mallow marshmallows are an evolutionary step away from the pink and whites that we are all used to.  They are full of delicious natural flavours including real raspberries, strawberries, lemon juice, Belgian chocolate, madagascan vanilla and natural extracts and are as light and puffy as a wonderful pillow."

The 75g bag contained six bouncy large cubes. They emitted no identifiable scent other than the sugary sweetness.


The marshmallows managed to deliver a real strawberry flavour that really tasted of fresh fruit and was a far cry from the milkshake taste I was expecting. Of course Art and Mallow only use real strawberries in their marshmallows so this shouldn't have come as a surprise. Still, strawberries aren't always that flavourful and yet somehow they've harnessed the taste of our classic summer treat.

Texturally Art of Mallow also fulfilled their promise of pillow softness. Each marshmallow was gooey and squidgy, without that dusty reside that coincides with their mass produced counterparts.

My only sticking point is the price. As a student I can't warrant £3.50 for 75g of sweets* - even if they are delicious and handmade. If, however, you're a sweetie fan and fancy a real treat then please pop on over to their website, where you'll find plenty of fancy flavours including their new (and delicious sounding) salted caramel and peanut rocky road.

8/10

Thanks Daddio for the marshmallows.

*chocolate on the other hand... ;)