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... ;)






Saturday, 18 March 2017

NEW! Walls Feast Sandwich (Tesco Express)

About this time last year I squealed in a lecture when I found out that Walls were bringing out peanut butter Feasts. Get over. My favourite childhood ice cream was being combined with my favourite flavour? I couldn't imagine anything more exciting. I still haven't got over the disappointment of the reality though, those meagre Choc ices were disgraceful. Walls haven't given up hope though, they've just released another new version of their iconic Feast - this time in sandwich format. Now if you've been reading this blog for a while you'll know just how much I love a good ice cream sandwich. Could Walls do a better job with their 2017 addition? I decided to not buy a whole box but purchased a single ice cream from my local Tesco Express for £1.


"Vanilla ice cream between chocolate biscuits (18%) coated in chocolate flavour coating (13%) with nougat pieces (2%)."

More or less a Maxibon then? It seems that it's not only Kellogg's who've been keeping tabs on Nestle!


"Cream flavoured ice cream with chocolate chips (4%) sandwiched in between biscuits (15%) and half covered in a milk chocolate flavour coating (11.5%) with hazelnuts."

They certainly look very similar, although the Walls version is lacking the chocolate chips that stud Maxibons.



As you can see, the chocolate coating was paper thin, and despite my careful transportation it had smashed in the corners. It tasted ok though, nothing special but not like cooking chocolate either. A redeeming factor was the nougat pieces, which had thankfully remained crisp.

It can't just be me who thinks that the ice cream in a Feast should be chocolate flavoured? The vanilla ice cream in the middle was the same stuff Walls use in their Gingerbread sandwiches. It tastes like soft serve, which strangely makes a nice change from the creamier ice creams I usually favour. Still it's not really a Feast is it?


The biscuits were soft, which I expected, and tasted indifferent to the ones used in Maxibons. Their flavour is akin to a very mild bourbon and they're pleasant enough.

To be honest, there's very few differences between Walls' new Feast sandwiches and Nestle's iconic Maxibons. The ice cream is better in the 'Feast', but it's lacking the chocolate chips that add texture to the Maxibons. My biggest bug bear is that once again Walls have relied on Feast's success to brand an unrelated product. It's NOT a Feast. I do however want to try the new Maxibon Cookie (when I can find it) it looks very good!

6/10


Friday, 17 March 2017

NEW! Coco Pops Granola (Tesco)

Q: What's the laziest way to create a new product? 
A: Create a variation of an already successful line and copy your competitor of course!

Last year saw the release of Nestle's Shreddies Max Protein Granola, followed by a few fleeting boxes of Cheerios and Curiously Cinnamon Granola* in January. Kellogg's have obviously been keeping their eyes peeled, as they have recently followed suit and brought out a peanut butter granola (Crunchy Nut Clusters) as well as this new Coco Pops Granola. I'm not complaining really, I love cereal, adore oats and always welcome new choices. I did however wait for the bag to come on offer (currently £2 in Tesco).


"A combination of chocolatey-flavoured granola with wheat shapes and wholegrain oats! A source of B vitamins and iron which helps to release energy throughout the day. Made with no artificial colours!"

I'm not sure why that last sentence warrants an exclamation mark. Perhaps it's surprising. What they have failed to market is that the new granola contains almost half the sugar content per 100g than that of traditional cocoa pops (16g vs. 30g). Of course the serving size and calorie content is higher though.

I hope you don't mind me mentioning that I'm not a fan of the new bag design. Whilst it saves on excess packaging, the bag won't stand up properly, irritating my need for orderly cupboards.



Fortunes turned when I opened the resealable (that's one bonus) bag. Inside was a sight for any chocoholic's sore eyes. Every morsel was covered in chocolate! The bag contained a good mix of (relatively small) oaty chunks and Cocoa Pops' puffs, Moons and Stars.



It's a shame that the new granola didn't pass my milk soaking test. By the time I'd stopped faffing about taking photos the shapes were soggy and the granola had started to disintegrate. There wasn't really enough oats to call it a granola either really  seeing as they only make up 30% of the ingredients. On the plus side the flavour was good though, and the milk turned chocolatey! Have you ever had Graze's Cocoa & Vanilla flapjacks? Well the oat chunks reminded me of them -which I hope you'll agree is no bad thing.

All in all it's a good product from Kellogg's. It might not me the most inventive cereal, nor is it the best granola I've ever tasted, but I'll enjoy the bag, and will probably buy Coco Pops Granola again - but only when it's on offer.

7/10

*if anyone's spotted either recently please let me know, they seem to have disappeared.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

NEW! Jammy Ring Ice Cream (Tesco)

After many trips to Tesco I've finally found the Jammy Ring ice cream. Well, no actually I fib, Bert found it for me. Given my disappointment with the Red Velvet I didn't have very high hopes for this new flavour, but still desperately hoped that the supermarket would pull it out of the bag.



"Try our delicious 500ml tub of Jammy Ring Ice Cream. Biscuit flavour ice cream with a swirl of raspberry sauce and tasty shortcake biscuit pieces."


Except the tubs only contain 480ml of ice cream don't they Tesco? Starting with a lie is never a good sign. Each of their new 480ml tubs cost £2 each.



Once the lid was removed I was met with a milky coloured ice cream that barely hinted at the prospect of raspberry sauce. Digging in I found the ice cream to be almost mousse-like in consistency. It was so airy that the 96ml portion only weighs 59g (compare that to 82g for the same volume of Ben & Jerry's Strawberry Swirled). I did, however, uncover some bright pink swirl as I scooped.



I'm not exactly sure how to describe the flavour of the ice cream. It's meant to be biscuit flavour, but seeing as biscuits come in such a huge array of varieties and flavours, it's hard to distinguish one determining element. Instead I'll tell you that the ice cream is sweet, and somehow does remind me of shortbread -although that might just be wishful thinking. I also found it to be quite nostalgic, stirring memories of the cheap little ice cream mousse pots that mum used to give us as children.



The sauce was neither here nor there, adding little in the way of flavour. As for the biscuit pieces, they were far and few between - I had a grand total of 3. Texturally they were hit and miss too: two were soft and cake like, whilst one was delightfully crunchy. Humf. Fortunately Siân had already tried the ice cream and given me the heads up on instagram concerning the meagreness of the chunks so at least I'd had the foresight to top my cone with mini Jammy Dodgers.

What a shame. Tesco have created an ice cream with a scrummy flavour; it's just a shame they haven't used quality ingredients and seen the product through. As a luxury tub it doesn't quite work and as such I'd rather pay the extra 50p for a tub of Ben & Jerry's from ASDA.

7/10

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

NEW! Trek Chunks Cocoa Peanut Peak (ASDA)

It's a good time of year when Natural Balance Foods release their new lines, although recently they've been mainly focused around the Nakd branch of the business. This time around though the company have brought out an extension of their Trek range in 'energy chunk' format -as well as the delicious sounding lemon drizzle bar that I've read smashing reviews of by both EatExploreEtc and Erin. The new Trek Energy Chunks are available in three flavours: Toffee Triumph, Cranberry Kick and Cocoa Peanut. But what are they? I'll let Natural balance foods explain:
"Brand new TREK Chunks are deliciously different.
Instead of relying on mysterious additives & syrups, TREK Chunks are packed with a precise cold-pressed balance of powerful wholefoods, delivering sustained energy … when you need it most.
With 12g protein and all important natural slow release energy, Chunks satisfy mid-afternoon grazing, hunger on-the-go and interval fuelling. What's more, TREK Protein Energy Chunks are vegan, gluten free and 1 of your 5 a day too."

Well there you go. Of course I opted for the Cocoa Peanut. I'm a big fan of both the Cocoa Chaos and Peanut Power Treks, and I really hoped that the new chunks would be the perfect amalgamation of the two. 

Inside the pack were 12 cube shaped chunks, which were dark in colour and firmer than expected. They smelt more of cocoa than peanut and I wondered how Natural Balance would have pitched the flavour balance. 



It turns out that they did a pretty good job. The cocoa was indeed the more prominent flavour, but the chunks contained a resonant nuttiness. Texturally they were quite crunchy, a point of differentiation to the Trek bars and more similar to Nakd's crunch range. Another plus point.

In fact, I'm not sure I could find anything to moan about with the Energy Chunks save for the high -but natural- sugar content. Considering I don't pay too much attention to my sugar intake this wasn't an issue for me, and I'll be buying them again in future -especially if I find them on offer!

9/10

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

FlapJacked Mighty Muffins: Maple Pumpkin, S'mores and Apple & Cinnamon (Online)

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about FlapJacked's Buttermilk Protein Pancake & Baking Mix and also promised to review their Mighty Muffin range. Today I'm reviewing 3 of the 6 flavours -so you'll have to come back again to find out how the peanut butter, chocolate, and peanut butter & chocolate flavours fare. But first, let's get to grips about what Mighty Muffins are all about...


"FlapJacked Mighty Muffins are a delicious, certified gluten free, protein packed and high fibre muffin developed with scrumptious flavour, balanced nutrition and convenience in mind. Bursting with pockets of flavour in every bite, Mighty Muffins pack 20 grams of protein and 240 calories in each serving (1 container). The patented probiotic GanedenBC30 has been added to help you support immune health as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Simply add water, microwave for up to 1 minute (time will vary depending on the power of your microwave) and you have a delicious meal or snack on the go."
Gluten free, high in protein and scrummy to boot? Surely not. 

Maple Pumpkin
As usual I opted for the flavour that I thought I'd like least (although they all sounded good to me). I peeled back the lid to find a fair amount of powder, before adding 60ml of water using the provided container as suggested. 



As I stirred the mixture my nostrils were greeted with an array of spices which instantly made me even hungrier; it's a good job I didn't have to wait for this cake to bake in the oven! My microwave took a little longer than the advised 60 seconds to make the muffin peak out the top of the tub (but it is only low watt).



I was still too eager to eat my muffin and soon found that it was still gooey in the middle - but I pretended it was supposed to be a fondant. The flavours were really delicious though, maple and pumpkin are underutilised in the UK, and I loved the combination of spice and sweet. I wasn't expecting the little crunchy maple bits in the muffin either, but enjoyed the contrast in textures.
Maple Pumpkin Mighty Muffin was every bit as scrumptious as FlapJacked promised, and it's certainly a treat I'll happily enjoy over and over again.

9/10

S'mores 
This time I knew the drill: I added my water and mixed, before attempting to give my muffin a sufficient amount of time in the microwave.



The S'mores muffin was packed full of chocolate chips and marshmallow pieces. The cake had a fluffy texture this time (thanks to my patience), but I found that without the spice that the protein flavour was much more prominent. I primarily use whey protein to bake with and haven't ever tried Pea protein before. All of FlapJacked's products are made using a combination of both. It didn't taste bad, but it certainly wasn't your usual sponge cake flavour. 

6/10

Apple & Cinnamon
I was in need of some comfort food after a long day yesterday, so opted for cake and ice cream for pudding. This was much healthier than it sounds though, thanks to the Mighty Muffin's low sugar and fat content and OPPO's low sugar content. Is my healthy halo glowing yet? I think not.


The heavy dose of cinnamon in this cake was scrummy, although now I'd detected the protein taste in the S'mores muffin I couldn't ignore it in the background of this flavour too. The combination of warm cinnamon cake with ample apple pieces and salted caramel ice cream was wonderful though, and I felt like I was eating a hug in a bowl. Serious noms.

8/10

Flapjacked's Mighty Muffins are available to purchase from their website, where you will receive 10% off by using the code AMY10.

If you want to be in with the chance of WINNING 6 Mighty Muffins AND a Protein Pancake Mix amongst many other goodies, please enter my instagram competition.

Thank you to FlapJacked for the samples!







Monday, 13 March 2017

Ginger Pepsi Max (Sainsbury's)

Pepsi Max. It's addictive. Like ridiculously so. I know I'm not the only one who's had to wean themselves off the sweet, bubbly nectar either. It's taken a lot of effort to clamp down on my 2-3 litre per day vice to the treat of a can once or twice per week. If you're also a Pepsi Max fan do you agree that whilst the original is delicious, cherry is better? It's been a choice between those two for a long time, but now the company have introduced a new edition. Rather than sticking to Coca Cola's relatively safe flavour extensions of lime or vanilla, Pepsi have bravely punted on ginger. As a lover of ginger beer -and almost everything else ginger- I was a keen bean to try this one out.

I even broke both my Pepsi rules, and:
1) paid more than £1 (£1.50 in Sainsbury's) and 
2) bought more than a can.
Oops.


Pepsi's characteristic caramel tone was the first flavour to greet my tastebuds, followed by a smooth ginger aftertaste. It wasn't enough to deliver the spiciness of a ginger beer, but it was there, offering a little warmth in the background. I wasn't sure if the combination would work, but somehow the flavours fused and didn't fight against each other. 

I then had a brainwave. Rum. 

I'm a big fan of the classic Cubre Libre, but occasionally I switch things up and opt for a Dark'N'Stormy. Could the new Pepsi Max offer a mid way -a stormy Libre or Dark Cubre perhaps?


Yes, yes this works! Ok so I didn't have the lime wedge to finish the job properly, but by heck this is a good cocktail. Hic. 

On a week when arguably the U.K's most famous redhead broke records and dominated the charts, it seems that ginger is winning all round. I'm not sure I'll always opt for this new Pepsi Max, but it certainly makes for a refreshing change! Bravo Pepsi.

9/10

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Oatein Brownies (CNSport)

I'm very fortunate, our tiny little city may miss out on many good shops, but what we lack in doughnut outlets (ahem Krispy Kreme) we make up for in Sports Nutrition. Hereford hides a little gem within its central Buttermarket and that, ladies and gentlemen, is CNSport. Owned and managed by Conor, it's a tiny but extremely well stocked haven of every feasible nutrition product. That's not even the best bit though. Really it's not. Instead the company's best asset is Conor and Dan who run the shop. I remember the first time I paid a visit, new to working out and not sure where to start, but being instantly welcomed by the duo. Conor is not only passionate about Sport but his ethos revolves around giving his customers the best service experience. As such he is happy to offer genuine advice. Isn't that all but lost in this digital age? To boot he'll always price match wherever possible too. Does it get any better? CNSport will also deliver, so it's not just Herefordians who can benefit - so please do pop on over to their Facebook and say hello.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well it was during a recent visit to the shop that Conor gave me a couple of Oatein's new brownies to review. I hadn't tried any of Oatein's products before but had read many a good comment on Instagram about their flapjacks. I've really got into making my own protein cakes recently, so I was looking forward to finding out how Oatein's brownies would taste.


Both the white chocolate chip and double chocolate chip brownies weigh 60g and contain 17g of protein, coming in at just under 255 kCals. Not too bad for a protein treat. 

White Chocolate


The square shaped bar was loaded with a decent amount of large white chocolate chunks and smelt inviting. Forgive me for being pernickety but shouldn't it be called a blondie seeing as the 'cake' itself isn't chocolatey? The packet shows the brownie with ice cream, and that sounded good to me, so I heated it slightly in the microwave and served it with Jude's new Chocolate with a Touch of Sea Salt


Ooh I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but I was met with a deliciously sweet flapjack-brownie hybrid. The oat flavour was prominent and well matched with the white chocolate. Texturally it was dense and moist like a brownie; can you tell I loved it? There was no horrid whey grittiness either. I could've quite happily enjoyed this cool and on the go (I nibbled the corner before serving) but it was scumdiddlyumptious warm.

Macros per brownie: kCal 254 P:17/C26.5/F8.6


9/10

Double Chocolate Chip


Given the success of the brownie & ice cream combo I thought I'd repeat it with the double chocolate flavour - this time pairing it with Oppo's Mint Chocolate Swirl.


Again the oaty flavour was strong and sweet, but the chocolate wasn't as dominant as I'd have liked. For some reason it was overshadowed by the oats. This brownie wasn't as moist either, and I was grateful for the ice cream alongside. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it, I did, but Oatein haven't quite nailed this flavour to the same effect that they have the white chocolate version.

Macros per brownie: kCal 248 P: 17/ C 24.2/ F8.5

7/10

I'd definitely have the white chocolate version again, but probably wouldn't bother with the double chocolate chip. Oatein have stirred my interest though, and I'm eager to know how their cookies and flapjacks compare. Are any of you Oatein fans? Is there any of their products that I simply have to try? Leave me a comment below or via Instagram/Twitter and let me know!

Thank you Conor for the samples.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Chocolate Smiths Birthday Cake Bizarre Bar (Online)

Normally I like to hide from my Birthday and pretend that I'm not really getting any older. It helps that I spend most of my week at uni with my fellow students who are mostly 8 years younger, and can forget that I've got a mortgage to pay (until I come home to the bills). This year however has been an exception, and I've managed to extrapolate my celebrations for a full week and counting. Well, the Birthday food anyway.

So what could be better than Birthday Cake? A Birthday Cake chocolate bar of course! It's not just me who has cause for celebration, gourmet chocolatiers and creators of the Bizarre Bars The Chocolate Smiths are turning 3 this year and have such brought out a special Bizarre Bar, and I was lucky enough to receive one to review. Thanks guys!


"It’s our Birthday, so it’s time to celebrate! Delicious crumbly milk chocolate with a chocolatey filling, topped off with white chocolate and sprinkles. Yum! We’ve supplied the cake AND it’s your chance to win a party! If you find a lucky ticket inside the bar, you will win an amazing chocolatey party pack!"

Now my only experience of The Chocolate Smiths thus far hasn't been great; if you'll remember, I reviewed the Cookie Dough Pie bar last year. The Pudding Parlour did admit though that the bars had been kept in warm temperatures however, which had led to the blooms and spoilage on the bar. I really hoped the scrummy sounding Birthday Cake Bar would fair better.



What a beautiful looking slab! Given my recent disappointment at not being able to rekindle my nostalgia and buy Cadbury's Top Deck in Kuala Lumpur, I was extremely happy to discover that The Chocolate Smith's bar was similarly layered with white and milk chocolate. There wasn't any white spots of death to be seen either. So far, so good.

At first my tastebuds were confused by the combination of chocolate. The flavour was just a very sweet milk chocolate with crunchy bits in. But then, I realised that I could peel the top from the bottom and that's when things got really interesting.



On their own, both types of Belgian Chocolate were delicious, and I especially loved the white. What I hadn't acknowledged beforehand was the canals of chocolate sauce that ran between the layers. Once apart I was able to taste it on its own, and it was good, but I think a praline would've been punchier and therefore more noticeable when the bar was intact.

Dear The Chocolate Smiths, you have more than redeemed yourself. I now desperately want to try all of the other bars in their range - especially the Americana (peanut butter & pretzel), Cheese & Cracker and Maple Bacon Bizzares. All of the bars are available to purchase from their online shop, and you can even mix and match 3 bars for £10.50. What are you waiting for?

9/10

Thank you to The Chocolate Smiths for my Birthday bar!