Friday, 24 February 2017

Fresh Bakery Jam Filled Doughnut (LIDL)

It's that time of year. You know the one, when you only have to get within 100 metres of a supermarket before the sweet hunger-pang-inducing scent of hot cross buns assails your nostrils and suddenly you're making an unexpected detour into the bakery aisle. It drives me crazy, especially as I cycle down the side of Morrisons (and straight under their vents) on the way to the train station every day. In the same vein whilst I don't directly pass LIDL on the same stretch, I often pop in to replenish my Skyr supplies on the way home and more or less have to shut my eyes and nostrils when unavoidably passing their in-store bakery. It's not so much the scent of it, but the impressive array of both sweet and savoury treats that look undeniably tempting. Yesterday though my yogurt mission was unsuccessful -they sell like hot cakes, excuse the pun- which meant that I had enough room in my backpack for a treat or two. Oops.



Just look at that jam doughnut though! Even better, the basket was being refilled just as I picked up the tongs so I knew they were the freshest they could be. At 25p each they're a veritable bargain too, and LIDL even provide individual little plastic boxes to keep your treats safe (it seems that Krispy Kreme and Greggs could learn a thing or two from the German supermarket) .

Are you a powdered sugar or caster sugar jam doughnut fan? For me it's the former all the way, and it's part of the reason that I prefer Morrisons' bakery doughnuts over any of the other supermarkets' versions. This LIDL doughnut looked like it might trump Morrisons though because it was much bigger and so very light!

I couldn't help but feel hugely disappointed when I sliced the doughnut in two. Where was the huge dollop of sticky jam filling hiding? It then occurred to me why the doughnut was so light. It was devoid of jam.



Fortunately the dough was the saving grace. I mean it was everything that I want from a doughnut; unbelievably fluffy with a good sweet flavour and lacking that horrible greasy aftertaste that often lingers after eating one of Tesco or ASDA's. In fact the quality far surpassed both Greggs and Krispy Kreme!

The teaspoonful of jam was pretty good, gooey and sweet with a decent fruity flavour. Goddammit LIDL, if you'd doubled the jam content you'd have nailed the perfect doughnut!

I'm convinced I just bought a dodgy one, so next time I'm in store I'll ensure I leave enough room in my bag for another doughnut, you know, just in case! I'll keep you updated...

8/10

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Multipower 40% Protein Bars: Peach Yogurt, Chocolate Almond, & Blueberry Vanilla (Online)

Last week Multipower's PR company got in touch with me to ask if I'd like to try the new 40% Protein Fit Bars. To be honest, Multipower is a company that I hadn't come across before, but I was informed that their new bars are 'low in sugar, a great source of fibre and come in three amazing flavours'. As you know I'm always keen to try new bars and supplements, so I gladly accepted the offer.


By Monday a parcel arrived containing a selection of bars in all three flavours: peach yogurt, blueberry vanilla and chocolate almond. The protein bar market is already exceedingly saturated and so I was pleased to see that not only have Multipower brought out slightly more unusual flavours -no cookie dough in sight- but also that they're a completely different size to most of the bars currently available. At 35g, each bar contains less than 135kcal whilst delivering 14g of protein -not bad! For info they're also aspartame free (they're sweetened with sucralose instead). 

Peach Yogurt


Well it's not the most appealing looking bar I've ever seen, I don't buy protein bars for their aesthetics. I did give it a little squidge though, and instantly appreciated just how soft this bar was -there's nothing worse than a jaw-breaker. 


Just as I hoped: what the bar lacked in looks, it made up for in taste. It's hard to spot the freeze dried peach pieces in the photo but they packed a delicious punch (surprising considering they only constitute 3% of the bar). The nougat-like texture was remarkably soft too, which made it very easy to eat -sheer relief for my clicky jaw. Perhaps the biggest surprise came from the bar's casing though, which was in fact white chocolate and not yogurt. Lord knows why Multipower doesn't shout about this, white chocolate is always a winner in my book, and would certainly make me much more likely to pick a bar up from the shelf!

Macros: Kcal: 129 P: 14/C: 9.4 F: 4.7

9/10

Chocolate Almond


Having enjoyed the peach yogurt bar so much, I decided to try the chocolate almond bar for dessert last night, warmed up in the microwave with a good helping of Salted Caramel Oppo and sugar-free caramel syrup. Once again I appreciated how soft the bar was, and the addition of real almond pieces was evident once I sliced into it.


The first thing I noticed was an odd, synthetic taste, but this soon abated and fortunately only a moment later I was revelling in one of my favourite combinations of chocolate and almond. In fact, the softness and flavour of this bar reminded me of the utterly delicious Côte-d'Or FudgeNut -high praise indeed. Of course, it's low sugar and high protein so therefore not a chocolate bar, but it's a scrummy alternative. 

Macros: 134kcal P:14/C:8.4/F: 5.9

8/10

Blueberry Vanilla


I'm not sure why, but I expected a white chocolate covering to compliment the blueberry. Again, this was super soft, and I decided to enjoy this one just this morning with a cup of coffee.


Just look at those freeze-dried blueberries! Unfortunately the primary flavour of this bar was the chocolate. The artificialness of it couldn't be escaped without the ice cream and caramel sauce, and I simply wasn't keen. Luckily the inner filling was pretty good -although nowhere near as tasty as the peach bar. It's the only bar of the three that I probably wouldn't buy again.

Macros: 126kcal/ P:14/ C: 8.5/F: 5

5/10

Summary
On the whole I'm impressed with these Multipower 40% Protein Fit bars. They're soft enough to serve as the perfect on-the-go protein hit, or as part of a healthy low-sugar dessert. You can find more information on the bars and order your own from Multipower's website, simply click here

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Multipower/their PR agency for sending me the samples to review. 




Wednesday, 22 February 2017

NEW! Extra Special Black Forest & Amaretto Desserts Review (ASDA)

I've recently outed my addiction to buying chocolate and ice cream on instagram in an attempt to remind myself that I really need to stop buying more and instead work through my admittedly impressive collection. The trouble is, whilst I love both chocolate AND ice cream, occasionally I'm just not in the mood for either, or I spot something different that I'd rather have. This is especially true when it comes to ice cream, and since promising myself that I'd not purchase any more, my non-frozen dessert cravings have fully kicked in. BAM! All of a sudden I just needed to have the Black Forest & Amaretto Pots that I've been contemplating for weeks.

Even my price conscious nature gave way to the compulsions to try these little desserts. In ASDA Gü are currently on offer for £1.50, yet I still chose their own brand desserts. I must be mad. In my defence, previous experiences with ASDA's Extra Special desserts* have thus far been remarkably positive.

"Amaretto-infused sponge layered with black cherry compote and Belgian dark chocolate ganache."

C'mon ASDA, you seem to have fallen foul of Cadbury's usual trick here and only half filled the pots! The Peanut Butter Millionaire's Dessert was full to the brim, and had much more distinctive layers too.


Digging in to the top I first tasted the dark chocolate ganache, which was as silky and as delicious as expected -there just wasn't very much of it. The little that there was had kind of sunk into the custard below. Talking of which, the custard was a bit of a let down. The flavour was weak against the ganache and so I wished that ASDA had just done away with it and filled the tub with more of the good stuff.


Fortunately the black cherry compote was delicious, offering a sweet tartness against all the chocolate, but again the pot could have done with more. Boo.

The final layer was the main reason why I wanted to try these desserts so badly - the amaretto soaked sponge. The cake was in keeping with the Black Forest theme and was therefore chocolate flavoured. It was a good sponge with a decent amount of cocoa -but I just couldn't taste the amaretto or even almond. Now this might be partly because I was drinking a glass of red wine alongside it, but nonetheless I was disappointed.

I'm aware that I've done a lot of complaining in this review, and perhaps it's not entirely necessary considering I scraped the sides of the tub and really enjoyed it. The trouble is, I know that ASDA sell a much better version of this, and it's cheaper too: their Black Forest Velvets.

7/10

*such as their White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake which was one of my first reviews, and remains my favourite supermarket cheesecake!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

NEW! Nature Valley Crunchy Peanut Butter Bars (Sainsbury's)

Every now and then a supermarket will bring out an own brand product that surpasses every comparative product currently on the market. Take Tesco's Banana Bliss Bars for example, or ALDI's Domio yogurts and HIKE bars. ASDA has produced corkers too, two of which were fabulous peanut butter products. Whilst I was disappointed when the supermarket stopped selling their ingenious chocolate chip peanut butter, I was devastated when they stopped selling their peanut butter granola bars. They were absolutely wonderful little packs, and I even wrote a review on them over a year ago, claiming that they were 'ASDA's best kept secret'. Of course I stocked up on the remaining boxes as soon as I saw that they were reduced to clear, but knew that my stash wouldn't last. I'd already emailed Nature Valley and requested that they produce a peanut butter granola bar, so I was at a loss as to what to do next.

Fortunately, a good 18 months after that email, Nature Valley came up trumps and released a Crunchy Peanut Butter Bar in the UK (the brand has been selling them in the USA for years). The only place I've spotted the boxes thus far is Sainsbury's, although I've patiently waited for them to come on offer (currently £1.50 per box).


"Packed with natural wholegrain oats, real peanuts, and a luscious peanut butter drizzle, Nature Valley Crunchy Peanut Butter Bars are the perfect on-the-go snack, which are there for you, whenever you need it most."

As always, each individually wrapped pack contains two biscuits. For info, the peanut butter flavour is lactose free and contains no colours or preservatives.

They looked prettier than the ASDA version with their topping drizzled on -as opposed to a slathering. Given the quality of Nature Valley's other flavours, I was looking forward to tucking in.


The beauty of Nature Valley's Crunchy bars is that whilst they're crispy like a biscuit, they're not hard enough to require the dentist's telephone number close to hand -as perhaps one would with Jordan's or NutriGrain's Oat bars. In fact they're like a lower fat Hobnob really aren't they?

I prepared myself for the incoming salty-sweet hit from my favourite spread, but it never really came. Whilst the bar promises of 'real peanuts', it actually only delivers a measly 2% within its ingredients. As for the peanut butter, it was unfortunately just too sweet. The primary flavour of the biscuits was the honey, which knocked the nutty balance off kilter so much that I was tempted to get my salt grinder from the cupboard to help matters.

The main reason why I love Reese's so much is that they've utterly mastered the harmony of salinity and manage to counteract the sweetness within their products wonderfully. Nature Valley haven't been quite so clever, and although they're new Crunchy Bars are admittedly delicious and moreish, they're not quite as good as ASDA's delisted versions. Boo.

7/10

Monday, 20 February 2017

Double Choc Brownie R Bar Review (Reflex Nutrition)

It's been a while since I reviewed any of Reflex's protein bars The last one I tried was the white chocolate and raspberry ripple R Bar, which I was impressed with primarily due to its softness. I've continued to munch the bars on a regular basis and find them to be just the ticket on the train home from uni.

I was fortunate to receive a package of treats from Reflex just before I went away which included the double Choc Brownie R Bar as well as their Banana & Custard Casein (review coming soon). I wanted to make the most of our trip and knew I'd be up to all sorts of energetic activities (get your mind out of the gutter now please) so packed a few for those "just in case I get hungry" moments.

For those of you who aren't au fait with Reflex or their philosophy, then you need to know that their sole objective is to create quality sports nutrition products. Whilst taste is important, they aim to deliver the very best supplements and as such the bars are made in their very own factory here in Blighty using the "highest quality whey protein", almond or peanut butter and natural sweetener gluco-fibre (as opposed to IMO, dextrose or glucose syrups which cause spikes in blood sugar levels).

I found the RBar to be more enjoyable than their flapjack based bars and so was looking forward to trying their double chocolate brownie flavour.



It turned out that taking a few bars with me was a cracking idea. On only our second day we visited Batu Caves -home to the gold statue of Lord Morugun, the largest religious statue in the world- and hiked the 272 steps in the heat to visit the monkey ridden temple cave at the top. Breakfast suddenly felt like a long time away and we weren't sure how long it would take to get back to Kuala Lumpur, so out came my first R Bar of the trip.


*


I regularly eat Quest's chocolate brownie bar so it was easy to draw comparison between the two. The first thing I noticed was the softness of the bar, which could be easily bent. The second I noticed was the cubes of chocolate that were embedded throughout. Quest's chocolate brownie is one of their non-chunky bars and so I found Reflex's addition to be a welcome treat.

Biting into the bar rendered a pleasant surprised. Whilst it didn't taste exactly like a non-protein, full fat brownie, I didn't expect it to. The chocolate fused with the undertones of almond well to provide a well balanced flavour that was sweet despite containing only 1g of sugar. It tasted less of whey than I thought it would too, and the sweetener was also less apparent. Even my protein supplement avoiding other half asked to try a bite and then promptly asked if he could nab a bar. 


*

As with the white chocolate & raspberry R Bar, the malleability is remarkable. There's nothing worse than chewing a bar until it makes your jaw or having to retrieve bits of one from between your teeth - and that's thankfully never going to be an issue with these bars.

If you want a high quality, chocolatey, soft protein bar with excellent macros then you can't go far wrong with a Double Choc Brownie R Bar. For me, it's far superior to Quest's version. 

Macros per bar: Kcal: 209 P20/C9/F9

R Bars are available to buy from Reflex's website. As always, a huge thank you to Reflex for the samples. 

8/10

*Can you tell the rest of the photos taken in my garden instead?

Sunday, 19 February 2017

NEW! Weetabix Additions: Apple & Raisin Review (ASDA)

Whilst I can't live without my daily dose of porridge in the mornings, my other half struggles to start his day without a bowl of trusty Weetabix. Or at least that was the case until the Golden Syrup flavour disappeared from supermarket shelves towards the latter end of last year. He was so gutted that we couldn't find his favourite cereal anymore that I contacted the company back in November to ask if they were coming back. They said:
"Recent high demand has meant that we have had an increase in orders and we hope are hoping to be back to full capacity in the next few months. Please accept our sincere apologies, we do hope that you will continue to enjoy our products and are assured of our best intentions to get this back on the shelves."
With Bert's hopes intact, we eagerly awaited the return of the Golden Syrup Weetabix and were therefore somewhat surprised to see the two new Weetabix 'additions' lines that launched last month. I guess the company told porkies. Humf.

I tried to see the bright side in all of this and reminded Bert that although he doesn't like coconut (so the coconut and raisin flavour are out of the question) he does like apple and raisin. Maybe this new variety of Weetabix could serve as a valid replacement?

"Delight your senses...
with a nutritious breakfast that's packed with delicious apple, juicy raisins & warming cinnamon ensuring temptingly tasty goodness in every bite."

Whilst I'm not a huge Weetabix fan, I do love apple and raisin and was therefore intrigued to discover how their new flavour fared so purchased the box of 24 biscuits from ASDA for £2.

Whilst their banana and golden syrup (RIP) flavours are strongly scented, I couldn't particularly smell anything other than wheat when popping my biscuits in the bowl before drowning them in cold milk.


Oh. Was that it? Where was the flavour? Cinnamon is a pretty pungent spice -and my favourite one at that- but I couldn't detect it at all amongst the wheaty mush. The apple flavour too was non-existent and I was grateful that I'd had the foresight to top my cereal with cubed apple so that I could at least pretend I was eating flavoured Weetabix.


The only promise that Weetabix delivered on was the inclusion of raisins, but unfortunately I can't say this was a welcome addition. I really love dried fruit, but not like this. Have you ever eaten shrivelled, bullet-hard raisins before? Well that's what is lurking in amongst these biscuits. Rather than the moist, squidgy, flavoursome fruits, these were little dry rascals that stuck between my teeth in a frustrating fashion. Not good.

It wasn't just me either, Bert wasn't a fan either. If we weren't so reluctant to waste food they'd have ended up in the bin by now, but instead I've promised to buy him a couple of boxes of his new favourite cereal (Golden Syrup Wheats) from Sainsbury's when he's got through the Weetabix. You should never have to "get through" food though, should you?

2/10

Saturday, 18 February 2017

NEW! Cadbury Egg 'n' Spoon Oreo (Tesco)

Even though I got stuck straight into the hot cross bun reviews almost a month ago, I've somehow resisted the call of the Easter chocolates until now. It might have something to do with the fact that I still have an excessive amount of chocolate, some left over from Christmas as well as the countless bars I brought back with me. Oops. When I spotted the insta-famous Oreo Egg 'n' Spoons half price in Tesco this week however, my self-restraint evaporated and somehow I ended up at the till with a box.

I remember being utterly disappointed with the chocolate Egg 'n' Spoons when they first came out a few years ago. Since then I've stayed clear of mousse filled Cadbury chocolates (bar a lone snowman reduced after Christmas). It was the addition of Oreo swayed me. I'm not even sure why I'm so infatuated with anything Oreo, but after the disappointment of the Peanut Butter Oreo filled Dairy Milk this week I hoped that Cadbury could go at least a little way to redeem their sorry selves.


"4 Milk chocolate eggs with a soft vanilla flavour mousse filling (42 %) with biscuit pieces (4.5 %)."

At least the packaging design is smart, and although it hasn't changed since the eggs were first launched, I still think it's a nifty little concept. The box contained four purple wrapped eggs and two very dinky plastic spoons.



I unwrapped my first egg and spotted the lines where the top could come apart from the bottom. I'll be very honest here and admit to indulging my perfectionistic streak by separating the top from the bottom with a veg knife... Sooo satisfying.

Inside the chocolate casing was the milky white Oreo filling, flecked with cookie crumbs as expected. Digging in, I discovered just how soft and light the centre was. For some reason I thought it was going to be a similar substance to the centre of the Dairy Milk bars, and I'm still not sure if I was initially pleased or disappointed by my findings.



The flavour of the mousse was plain vanilla, and it was super fluffy. The gritty nature of the Oreo crumbs were a delightful addition however, and helped to provide a contrast in terms of both flavour and texture. I really enjoyed the lightness of the mousse, and was pleased that I'd chilled it in the fridge beforehand to give the egg a more dessert-like feel -perhaps next time I'll freeze it.

As for the chocolate around the outside, it was pretty thin, but I really enjoyed it. I've heard that Australian Cadbury is better than ours, but having tried a couple of bars of their Dairy Milk recently, I'm inclined to disagree. The quality of our chocolate has gone dramatically downhill -I'll give you that- but it still outstrips many of the foreign versions.

I think I may have to stock up* on these Oreo Egg 'n' Spoons whilst they're on offer!

9/10

*Actually I've just taken another peek at my chocolate hoard, and decided that that may not be the greatest idea.