Alpro Ice-Cream Review (Hazelnut-chocolate; Vanilla; Coconut)

1500666268552Its summer and we all know summer means ICE- CREAM. Some of my favourite ice-cream brands are Oppo, Booja-Booja, and Frill  (this happens when one of your best friends is allergic to dairy: many of your favourite brands become non-dairy), and now I am adding Alpro to that list. I made it my mission to try all the flavours available to me (they were on offer), and let you know what I thought.

Overall I was REALLY impressed with the vanilla and hazelnut-chocolate ice creams. The coconut one needs work and tasted a little artificial, but if you have a sweet-tooth then  you may like it. I really hope Alpro develop some more flavours of ice cream. I’m also hoping they’ll eventually find a way to cut the sugar from their ice cream completely, in the same way brands such as Booja-Booja and Oppo have. However, been as the flavours are so delicious I can definitely let this slide, and I have to say that Alpro can really hold their own against these more high-end brands. When you consider that Alpro is £3.50 per pint, and the other two brands are in the region of £5-£6, it was a pleasant surprise to find it had such a lovely flavour and texture. To be fair, the ice cream also has 30% less sugars than it did previously already! Lets get down to the individual flavours in more detail though… Continue reading “Alpro Ice-Cream Review (Hazelnut-chocolate; Vanilla; Coconut)”

Vegan Banoffee Cheesecakes (quick and easy!)

IMG_20170720_185805_776Since the last vegan cheesecake recipe I posted was such a success with you lot, I decided to make another flavour variation of this easy dessert. This particular flavour was actually made for my brother, who can never turn down a banoffee pie- and who told me that these cheesecakes were the first thing I’d made that didn’t “taste healthy” but tasted “like normal food”. Any other banoffee pie fans out there: you’re welcome.

 

Ingredients (Serves 9)

For the base

  • 8 medjool dates, soaked for 10 minutes in boiled water, then drained
  • 1 cup oats
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon – just a tiny one, omit if you don’t like cinnamon

Continue reading “Vegan Banoffee Cheesecakes (quick and easy!)”

A Female Dr Who? About chuffing time…

For anyone who has been living under a rock: Jodie Whittaker is the next Dr Who. Although many have taken to social media feeds criticising this, many have also praised it- and I am about to join their ranks.

This isn’t going to be a long post, but I just needed to say this: my generation grew up with brilliant female companions (I was a huge Billie Piper fan), but they were never the main focus. I grew up never being able to play the hero if we were playing Dr Who. I could be the bad guy or a companion maybe (the former was more fun), but come on, I wanted to be The Doctor sometimes.

Even though shows like GoT have overtaken Dr Who for my viewing of choice, I still have a soft spot for the show. I remember watching Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and a bit of Matt Smith, and when Dr Who was one of the highlights of my day. In the past little boys have always played the hero, and the girls the one being saved. I think the fact that we now have Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and Whittaker as Doctor Who is revolutionary, and its about time little girls grew up with amazing role models on the screen. The show is about discovery, and so it needs to be continually moving forwards, pushing viewers to discover new things too. Continue reading “A Female Dr Who? About chuffing time…”

My University Experience: went for the degree, found a home.

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I’m on the left, and Hannah and Ellie are two of my best friends

I don’t know where three years have gone, but I have finished my English Literature with Creative Writing degree at Newcastle University- and I would go back and do it all over again tomorrow without a second thought. My title is no joke: reading numerous books, writing on them, and writing poetry for three years straight in a beautiful city was absolute paradise. I love my family, but Newcastle definitely provided me with a sense of being at home that I have never had before- I think because I chose it for myself and built what I would go as far as to call my ideal life there. When I finally settle in one place, I plan on it being Newcastle.  Obviously if you have found this post you are probably considering going to university, or you have applied and been offered a place. Congratulations if you have (especially if you’re headed to Ncl). You’re in for what could potentially be some of the best years of your life. My own degree is what I’m focusing on here, as I know a few universities offer it, and I am of course a huge advocate for Newcastle, as one of their alumni. I’m certain that I’m going to forget something in this post, because how do I cram three years into one piece of writing? I’ve tried to cover some of the bits I think you’ll want to know, but if you have any more questions please do contact me via the form filling in thing on this blog, and I’ll get back to you right away. Continue reading “My University Experience: went for the degree, found a home.”

The Handmaid’s Tale: Book Review

1500221125976This book has been on my reading list for a long time, since reading The Penelopiad in a first year uni module, back in 2014. Its taken me three years to get around to it, but I have finally read the book. Now I feel I can start on the TV show!

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel written in 1985, by Margaret Atwood. In the USA, a wave of totalitarianism has swept over the land, creating a place where some women are used as “Handmaids”, an odd kind of surrogate to those in power. This new world is called Gilead. Many women have been left sterile due to pollution levels (it is implied that the rest of America outside the confines of the novel- “The Colonies”-  is barren and toxic, with those living in these areas suffering some kind of radiation sickness where the extremities and even the skin peels away), and STDs. The world inside the borders of what I suppose is a large compound where the characters of the novel live (at least as big as a city), and is a strange echo of a literal reading of the Old Testament views on women. Many references are made to the biblical, but in the most fanatical ways. Women are not allowed to have their own money, read, and modesty is a must. Offred, the protagonist and narrator, vaguely remembers a time before this came to pass, before she had to become a Handmaid. There are implications that outside the world she lives in, war between the fanatics who run the compound, and other religious and social groups, is still raging. Offred knows she has another name from this past, but never mentions what exactly it is. Her memories are brief and fragmented, so that as a reader you understand she had a partner called Luke (previously divorced, and under this new law divorce doesn’t exist, making Offred an adulteress), a feminist mother, a friend named Moira, a young daughter, a rigorous academic education (she often remembers things she learnt in past times), and a job which required a knowledge of technology. We understand that as things worsened in society (all women’s bank accounts were closed and the women laid off of work, the money in the accounts being transferred to the next male of kin), Luke, “Offred”, and their daughter attempted to escape across the borders. Luke was shot (it appears, we have no idea if he is dead or alive), Offred captured and forced to become a Handmaiden, and her daughter taken somewhere else.

There’s all the background you need to know. I want to leave the finer points and weirder little things, and of course THE ENDING, for you to discover yourself. There aren’t any major spoilers above, but from this point on, there will be. There are a few things about this novel, a few messages in it, which I think are very important. Grab a cuppa, because this is a long review/discussion. Skip to the last one if you don’t have time. Anyone who has also read this, please chip in below and let me know what you thought: Continue reading “The Handmaid’s Tale: Book Review”

MissFit’s Protein Powder Review

Okay, it has finally happened. We have a brand producing flavoured NON-WHEY PROTEIN! Until I saw this, I had seen two brands do a flavoured plant-based protein here in the UK. I’m not even sure one was made in the UK, and the other has sadly gone out of business (I bought their powder on offer as a protein shop was shifting old stock). However, we now have a new home-produced protein powder to try.

Overall I was really impressed, been as a flavoured non-dairy powder is hard to come across, and MissFits are definitely opening the door to some more interesting flavours. My only minor niggle is that all of the flavours could use a little less stevia added. I find pea protein sweet anyway, and so didn’t feel like stevia needed to be so close to the top of the ingredients list. However, I did love that they added in green tea extract, B12, digestive enzymes etc. to really help aid the post-workout recovery, energy levels, and boost a vitamin that diets free of animal products can be lacking. Whenever I used the powders in meals they kept me fuller for longer too (a challenge as I’m usually extremely hungry after I workout). I’m hoping MissFit’s release more flavours in the future (salted caramel, gingerbread, peanut butter, cinnamon- hint hint). If you’re going to buy these- or any other powder- I’d say incorporate them into something other than a protein shake, and make sure you aren’t using them to replace real food.

MissFit’s powder comes in four different flavours: Chocolate, Vanilla, Mixed Berry, and Coffee. They’re the best flavoured pea protein products I have managed to find, bearing in mind pea protein has quite a distinct taste. Let’s get down to the review.

Brand Overview:

The sachets are all part of ‘The Multitasker’ range of proteins which are described like this:

‘Gone are the excess calories, sugars and strange chemicals so often found in these kinds of products. Instead you’ll find top quality natural protein and an amazing nutrient blend, with nothing artificial. Simple.’

Sounds great to me so far. You can get all of the flavours in a vegan blend, and you can get the Vanilla and the Chocolate flavour in a whey blend, so there’s so wiggle room if you aren’t a fan of pea protein. The ingredients of each flavour are pretty simple. They seem to all contain the pea protein, a natural flavouring with some stevia, and enzyme blend, vitamin B12 (great if you are vegan), and then the other ingredients vary according to the flavour (e.g. freeze-dried coffee or berries, cacao powder, vanilla…). Each sachet has roughly 70-80kcals in there, maybe 1g of sugar, and around 15g of protein. So far, so good.

Vanilla

I had this sachet just as a shake for a snack, because I felt I did have to try at least one purely as a shake. I was pretty disappointed with it as a shake. Water in protein shakes is plain disgusting, so I used unsweetened almond milk. It was kind of hard to mix with the liquid, and the taste of pea protein does come through quite strongly. However, this is the case with whey protein anyway, and is just a standard protein shake problem. On the upside the vanilla really came through: a little sweet for me, but definite vanilla. My mistake was trying this as a plain shake, and in future I plan of incorporating it into a nice-cream, smoothie, or some pancakes.

Coffee

After the vanilla I was a little sceptical about how much I would like this sachet, but it was great in a smoothie. Again, the pea protein’s natural taste does come through (it has a slightly sweet, nutty flavour), and you definitely need the recommended 300ml of liquid MINIMUM to prevent a powdery texture. But you can taste the coffee too. Subtle, slightly sweet, but it still came through against the banana, maca, almond butter and almond milk I also had in there. Add 1tsp of instant coffee with this for more of a buzz, or more of an intense coffee flavour.

Mixed Berry

Tried this flavour in a different way again: proats. I added the whole sachet to my porridge one morning, and the entire kitchen smelt like super-sweet berries. The smell actually reminded me of strawberry laces. I expected this to be way too sweet for me, and I’m not a berry-flavour fan at the best of times. Adding it into porridge did tone down the sweetness, but I wouldn’t re-purchase this flavour. If you like sweet protein products, and berry flavours, then add this to your shopping list.

Chocolate

I put this powder into another smoothie, and was pretty impressed! I combined it with frozen banana, cinnamon, and PB for a post-workout snack, but I also fancy trying to make a mocha smoothie with it. Out of all of the flavours this was probably the best in my opinion. Still pretty sweet, but definitely chocolate-y. I’d also recommend adding to porridge, or banana nice-cream.

 

There you have it, my review of MissFit’s protein powders. Has anyone else tried these? If you have let me know what you thought down below…

Chew On This: food & drink for your digestion…

First things first: if you have a digestive issue such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, known intolerances and allergies, or anything along those lines, you need to see a medical professional. This post isn’t going to address things like this, just some foods you can include in your diet to help aid your digestion!

Having great digestion does so much for how you generally feel, because I’m sure we all know that the opposite (bloating, cramps, constipation etc.) isn’t pleasant. It is essential for good digestion that you consume enough water, and fibre. Many of us don’t consume enough of these, and so end up constipated, bloated, and thoroughly fed up. Great gut-health is incredibly important as its through the gut our body receives many of the nutrients we need. As a result you want to keep your levels of “good gut bacteria” high. So, without further ado, here are some foods and drinks that can keep things ticking along, and take care of your digestive health…

  1. Ginger- This is great for cramps and gas. It eases the pain and aids the digestion. Grate or finely slice and add to your stir fries. You can also add to hot water with lemon.
  2. Raspberries- All fruit is great, but these are amazing at preventing or getting rid of constipation. Add to porridge or yoghurt, or eat them straight up.
  3. Water- Obviously. Water keeps everything hydrated and helps you to digest your food.
  4. Mint (and liquorice) tea- Again, great for gas and bloating. I’d recommend having this after a big meal, or simply at the end of each day. Avoid the mint with liquorice if you have hypertension though. If you can have mint and liquorice, then Asda’s Mint & Liquorice tea is under £1 and better than TeaPigs.
  5. Dark Chocolate-Good quality dark chocolate, think 75% and up, is wonderful for aiding the good gut bacteria and so avoiding bloating. Packed with antioxidants too, and apparently the good bacteria ferment these.
  6. Kefir- This is a cultured milk drink, packed with billions of gut-friendly bacteria. Its naturally low in lactose, and helps good gut bacteria flourish, whilst keeping harmful bacteria at low levels. Meaning a much happier digestive tract.
  7. Good-Quality Yoghurt (unless you are lactose intolerant!)- Not all yoghurts are created equal, so don’t go thinking your low fat sweetened pot of yoghurt is going to help your digestion. Yoghurts containing probiotics are good for your gut, but just avoid the ones with added preservatives, colours, sweeteners etc. Your best bet is to buy a plain natural or Greek yoghurt and add in some fruit, honey, PB…anything you like to sweeten it and add some flavour.
  8. Chia Seeds– These swell up and absorb liquid, and so add volume when it comes to forming stools as food leaves the gut (just make sure you drink enough water, or you can end up constipated!). Chia seeds are an amazing source of fibre, and so ideal to keep things moving. I like to add about 2tsp of these to porridge as they create a thicker texture with the added benefits above (try a basic mix of 1/2 cup oats, 2tsp chia seeds, and 1 cup of liquids- flavour and top as you like after that).
  9. Oats– I’ve no idea what I’d do without these. Oats are very fibre-rich, keeping your digestion in top condition, working in a similar manner to the chia seeds.
  10. Figs- Throw on top of a salad or a bowl of porridge, or roast for dessert. Either way they’re a naturally good digestive aid – just don’t eat the whole box at once.
  11. Lemon Water – Squeeze 1/4-1/2 lemon into a mug with some lukewarm water and drink up. I like to do this before breakfast if I can, and it just kick-starts things. You also get a boost of Vitamin C, and some people say it gives them more energy. There are numerous benefits to lemon water, aiding digestion is just one of many.
  12. High quality starchy foods such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, wholemeal pasta, quinoa, bulgur etc… – all are rich in fibre, and so aid digestion.
  13. Coffee- If you’re, um, struggling, then a cup of coffee may be helpful!