Meridian Pistachio, Cocoa-PB and Cocoa-Hazelnut Butters…

IMG_20170506_071355_428Several weeks ago now (okay, bordering on months) I was sent three amazing new nut butters from Meridian. I planned to create recipes with all of them- however you’ll only be seeing recipes for the last two any time soon. Because I ate all of the pistachio jar. However, one empty jar and two half-empty jars does mean I feel qualified to give a pretty accurate review, before we get down to the recipes. Keep your eyes peeled for those in the next few days …

 

Pistachio

I was fairly hesitant to open this one, mainly because I felt like it would be my least favourite. Turned out to be my favourite. It’s a greenish hue, finely ground, and with some oil separation before you stir it (all good nut butters do this, due to the absence of stabilisers, and more nuts in place of them- nuts of course containing oil, which separates out etc etc ). How did I use a whole jar so fast? Mainly by eating it straight off of the spoon, but also dolloped onto porridge or shredded wheat, or mixed with thick Greek yoghurt, frozen raspberries, and honey or maple syrup (that last one is phenomenal). Pistachio butter has a slightly sweet, subtly nutty flavour, with a little saltiness- which you wouldn’t expect from the smell (it doesn’t really smell of anything). Its fairly runny in consistency, and so I feel like it would also work well in marinades for meats such as lamb, or made into a dressing for a couscous salad with pomegranate seeds, orange, and dried fruit in it. I plan on buying another jar very very soon, because I had a lot of recipe plans for this one.

 

Cocoa-Peanut Butter

Possibly my least favourite, not because its bad in any way, but simply because the other two are so amazing. If you love your classic peanut butter, and don’t like to veer too far from this, then a chocolate-flavoured peanut butter is right up your alley. It very thick, making it great straight off of the spoon, and on cereal or porridge, but it also makes it ideal spread onto toast, or a bagel, blended into a smoothie, or used in baking. I’d add it to muffins for sure. Think a grown-up-reeces-cup. Not sickly in any way shape or form, but instead a rich cocoa flavour, with a naturally nutty undertone.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Butter

This came a VERY close second to the pistachio butter. It does taste Ferrero roche-esque too (Instagram followers: you really wanted to know that). This nut butter can be used in all of the ways the cocoa-peanut butter can, but is slightly runnier in texture, and tends to separate out a bit more due to the higher oil content of hazelnuts. This also means it drizzles onto ice cream (and nice cream) really well. The texture is of very finely ground hazelnuts, so its closer to smooth than crunchy. Its also slightly thicker than the straight up hazelnut butter Meridian make, which I liked. Again, really rich cocoa flavour to it. Meridian definitely do chocolate and nuts well.

 

There you have it, my review of the three newest Meridian nut butters. I’d recommend each and every one of them, but as I think the cocoa-hazelnut will generally have the most appeal to people (the pistachio one isn’t as sweet, and is probably more of a love/hate flavour), then I’d say try and get your hands on that one first…

 

MULTIPLE Chocolate Bars Review?!

Helloooo chocolate!

I know that it has been quite some time since I posted a review (or anything really- damn you essays!), but today I am making up for that. With a review of not one, but FOUR chocolate bars. I also figured out how to create a little collage of pictures at the top of the post- impressive, no? So, below is a quick review of four different chocolate bars, all of which would probably class themselves as “healthy”. But which ones taste great? I’ll leave links to the places you can buy all of these down below, and leave you to read on, because there is an iced coffee with my name on (literally) in the Starbucks around the corner…

Cavalier Hazelnut Milk Chocolate

RATING: 3/5 stars

This was okay. The chocolate didn’t have a weird aftertaste (which was an issue with two of these bars, as you will see). However, as I’m used to dark chocolate I also didn’t think it tasted of much. It was milk chocolate, but wasn’t super-creamy. Perhaps if you aren’t a dark chocolate or a super-creamy chocolate person you will find your perfect balance here. There are pieces of hazelnut in it, they are evenly distributed- they are also VERY small. However, kudos to Cavalier, there is more hazelnut here than in a bar of dairy milk. Sugar free, which for diabetics or the sugar-conscious is always an upside. It wasn’t the best sugar-free chocolate I’ve had (I love The Lite Company, and Discover for sugar-free), it wasn’t the worst.

Ombar Blueberry & Acai

4/5 stars

This was the highest scoring bar of the bunch. Seriously rich, dark chocolate. Really fruity blueberry-acai taste. Its not one I would be eating all in one go (very often) because of how strongly flavoured it is. This could be an all-time favourite chocolate though. Looking at the ingredients this is suitable for vegans, if you’re a vegan on a chocolate hunt, and love berry flavours. Highly recommend.

Ombar Coconut & Vanilla Centres

3.5/5 stars

I didn’t not like this bar. But it did have a slightly odd aftertaste. The texture though, was amazing. Creamy, smooth, super-decadent truffle-y centre (not too much, not too little for me- though I know some of you may find the amount slightly disappointing, I think it would be too sickly with any more). It’s vegan, so its also obviously dairy-free, in-case this is something that you look for. Intense coconut flavour, slight vanilla undertone. It was okay, but I personally would rather buy a different flavour if purchasing again.

Doisy & Dam Toasted Rice, Maple & Pink Salt

1.5/5 stars

This was the most disappointing chocolate I tried out of all of the bars. I bought Doisy & Dam because it has recently been all over my favourite YouTube and IG accounts. Perhaps it was just this one flavour? There are LOADS of beautiful flavours on the website, and the majority sound very appealing. I only went with this bar because I ADORE salty-sweet, and this was available in a small bar. However, this was both too salty and too sweet. I have no idea how they managed this. I usually LOVE super-dark chocolate, opting for around 80%, so this wasn’t particularly too dark- but it was a bit too bitter for some reason. This could possibly be due to the super-sweet maple and the super-salty pink salt throwing my taste buds off. Disappointing. Still ate it. Still going to try the other flavours- but wouldn’t recommend this one. Coconut & Lucuma, or Goji & Orange, or Lemon, Poppy Seed & Baobab (that’s a white chocolate one) are on my to-try list. Fingers crossed that they taste better than this one.

 

 

Cavalier Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts right here

Ombars right here

Doisy & Dam right here

Little’s Coffee Review: French Vanilla, Swiss Chocolate, Rich Hazelnut and Island Coconut Flavours!

wp-1490538662524.jpgToday I am reviewing the instant coffee that rescued the most important relationship in my life so far. Excluding my dog.

I am of course speaking of my relationship with coffee.

A few months ago the unimaginable happened. I went off coffee. I suspect it had something to do with being a bit ill with some kind of infection, dehydrated, and my body telling me to slow down on the caffeine. But my taste buds decided after that after I was well again, we weren’t going to be drinking coffee for a while. Until I found these cool flavours, and began mixing them with 100ml of unsweetened chocolate coconut milk, and hot water- like a much healthier mocha. My taste buds and coffee were reunited. Thank god. Seriously, everyone needs to try the above combination.

I got mine between Holland & Barratt’s and Waitrose, and have waited until I’ve gone through a few jars to cast my judgement. In a nutshell: I am impressed. All of the below flavours taste of what they say on the label, which is some feat even outside of the coffee world. If anyone has ever read a herbal tea packet or the label on a bottle of wine then you’ll know this isn’t always the case (notes of apple and mango my arse Echo Falls).

There’s no added sweeteners, the flavours are all 100% natural, and (if you’re counting) each serving is 4kcal. I pretty much use a ladle to make my coffee so I’m going to disregard that last bit of information.

Now, to the flavours…

French Vanilla – 3.5/5

The most sophisticated flavour I think. Slightly sweet, smells incredible when mixed with chocolate milk to make a vanilla mocha. I feel like this would be great in overnight oats, or used to make affogato (ice cream with coffee poured over the top. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it).

Swiss Chocolate 4/5

I didn’t get a strong chocolate flavour here, though I did have my morning coffee with that unsweetened chocolate milk added, so this is possibly why. All in all, this flavour was more subtle, and simply seemed to bring the smoothness of the coffee out more. If you like subtle then opt for this one over the more out-there flavours (and they make Irish cream flavour, so this selection is pretty vanilla as far as Little’s goes)

Rich Hazelnut 4/5

Slightly sweet, smells amazingly nutty -and almost creamy. It smells like the sugar-free hazelnut syrup at Starbucks, but tastes a hell of a lot better. It tastes how you want Starbucks to taste. Its probably the sweetest of the four I’ve tried, but I adore it- possibly because it isn’t cloyingly sweet. This is fantastic in a banana-nut Frappuccino (200ml unsweetened almond milk, 1 frozen banana, 12g PBFIT or 1tbsp peanut butter of choice, 2tsp this instant coffee, and a dash of cinnamon. Blend. Dance with caffeinated joy).

Island Coconut 4.5/5

Between this and the above I think I’ve found my favourite (how could we guess it would be something nut orientated). The coconut scent of this coffee is AMAZING. It isn’t as strong when you drink the coffee, but it is definitely there in the aftertaste. I actually love that the coffee still comes through, and that Littles managed to achieve such a great balance of the two flavours. I can’t wait to make iced coffee with this one.

 

There we have it, a whistle stop tour of my current coffee obsession. The next flavours on my list to try and get hold of are the Maple Walnut, Amaretto, and Chocolate Caramel. If you’ve tried any of those and want to advise me, then comments are more than welcomed below…

Meridian PB & Coconut and PB & Pumpkin bars review

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If you’re a regular to this blog, then you’ll probably remember- way back- me reviewing the Meridian Peanut, Cashew, and Almond butter bars. And then the Peanut and Cocoa/ Banana/ Berry bars. Well now I’m reviewing the Peanut and Coconut/ Pumpkin Seed bars, because the others have proven so popular than Meridian have decided to expand their collection even further. My favourite before digging into these bars was probably the Peanut & Cocoa, so be sure to try that one as its already stocked in several health food shops, including Holland & Barratt’s. Out of these two newbies I think that the Peanut & Pumpkin Seed has won me over. The coconut one was equally delicious, but the pumpkin seeds just really did it for me. Both are great ideas for a pre/post gym snack on the go, a study snack, or heated up as a dessert with either some of Meridian’s sugar free jam on top, or (personally) I love the Jim Jam’s chocolate hazelnut spread on top…

 

Taste

PB & Coconut- Subtle coconut taste emerges once you’ve chewed it a couple of times, and you get a good coconut aftertaste. Not artificial coconut, just natural coconut flavour. The base is definitely peanut though, and the more savoury taste of this works really well with the sweeter coconut.

PB & Pumpkin- Mainly peanut, but the bits of pumpkin seed add in some earthier flavour. Seeds have a very specific taste that I’m not so great at describing; I feel like pumpkin seeds have a mild, sweetly nutty taste…slightly similar to a pistachio, but not as sweet, perhaps. Again, works really well with the slightly more savoury peanut.

 

Texture

PB & Coconut- The bar has a slightly looser, chunkier texture than the traditional PB bars, which are chewier. Chunks of desiccated coconut, and pieces of peanut throughout are what causes this, and I personally really liked it.

PB & Pumpkin- Much closer to the traditional PB bars. This bar is chewier, with pieces of peanut and whole pumpkin seeds throughout. As this was my preferred texture this was a huge thumbs up from me.

 

Ingredients & Nutritionals

Again, what makes these bars so great for post- workout is the combination of carbs and protein. If you have one of these with a regular skimmed latte or cappuccino then you’re hitting around 14-15g protein with the coconut bar, and 16-17g with the pumpkin seed bar, from just that combination. Your average protein bar/shake is around 20g of protein per serving, and so although this is fractionally lower, its an ideal alternative for anyone wanting an alternative to using protein powders (I know this is my preference, as I’m fussy with protein powders, and they can also be very expensive- though bear in mind the majority of your protein should be coming from a well balanced diet containing whole foods, not a powder or bar). The coconut bar is obviously higher in saturated fat than the pumpkin seed bar, as coconut does contain higher levels of fats, however considering that 20g is the maximum amount per day recommended for a woman I don’t particularly see this as an issue. If you are watching the sat-fat though, then the pumpkin seed bar only has 1.84g of saturated fat. Fats in total though are an asset of these bars, contributing to satiety value and so how full they’ll keep you (don’t shirk fats people).

PB & Coconut- Peanuts (41%), Brown Rice Malt, Coconut (20%), Rice Bran, Rice Protein, Concentrated Fruit Juice (Grape), Rice Starch, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin

kcal- 207.6kcal

fat- 13.44g

sat fat- 5.64g

carbs- 14.28g

sugars- 9.12g

fibre- 1.96g

protein – 6.76g

salt- 0.04g

 

PB & Pumpkin- Peanuts (52%), Brown Rice Malt, Pumpkin Seeds (10%), Rice Bran, Concentrated Fruit Juice (Grape), Rice Starch, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin

kcal- 202kcal

fat- 12.68g

sat fat- 1.84g

carbs- 12.12g

sugars- 7.6g

fibre- 3.6g

protein – 8.04g

salt- 0.04g

 

There you go, my review of the new bars. Massive thumbs up from me, and I cant wait to get some more pumpkin seed bars. As with everything peanut butter (aka. the elixir of life), I encourage you to get your mitts on these if you can. At the moment they’re only stocked online, but hopefully will be coming to stores in the future.

Once you’ve tried them, then let me know: Team Coconut, or Team Pumpkin Seed?

 

 

 

 

 

The Lite Chocolate Company: Mint Dark Chocolate Review

wp-1489248086265.jpgIf you remember me falling in love with this brand a few posts back, then you won’t be surprised to hear that I had high hopes for the rest of the chocolate bars. Queue mint dark chocolate (I’ve left a link to where you can buy it just there, if you fancy trying it after the review), which is actually my favourite kind of dark chocolate, and so had a lot to live up to.

This bar still has the smooth chocolate of the orange bar that I reviewed, but doesn’t have any bits in it. Which means anyone who likes purely smooth chocolate can rejoice. The mint flavour is delicate, cool, and crisp. The chocolate is rich, being of the Belgium variety. I actually finished this bar in two sittings, which means it greatly impressed me. At approximately 200kcal per half a bar (40g of chocolate), and containing a tiny amount of sugar,  I  still class this as a treat- but a slightly healthier version of a treat. Not to mention that dark chocolate is also a probiotic apparently, and contains some antioxidants. Totally justifiable…

Which brings me nicely to nutritional values, because I know that if you’re looking for a lower sugar chocolate to take care of your teeth a bit more, or because you’re diabetic, or simply to switch up your regular Cadbury’s/Galaxy/Lindtt (have to say, I do love the latter) – then this is probably what you want to know. The chocolate is sweetened with stevia, which comes from a species of plant, and after research is currently considered to be a healthier alternative to regular sugar by the NHS. If you’re a coeliac, then this chocolate is also gluten free. If you track macros (I don’t) it’s low carbohydrate (my love of carbs prevents me from caring about this to be honest, but its a fun fact for you all).

So, the nutritional values, per half of a bar, as that’s what I ate:

195kcal, 15g fat (9.5g saturated), 6g carbohydrates, 1.2g of which are sugar, 14.7g fibre, 2.4g protein, 0.09g salt.

The chocolate is still high in saturated fat, at 9.5g per half a bar. However, a) you don’t have to eat half a bar in one go, I just did because it was delicious, and my diet tends to be low in saturated fats generally so I felt entitled to treat myself (#balance), and b) this is still chocolate, and so of course it will contain cocoa butter, and so will contain some fat.

The ingredients:

cocoa mass, fibre, cocoa butter, sweetener (miltitol), fat reduced cocoa powder, mint flavour, emulsifier, sweetener (steviol glycosides), natural flavours.

Not too bad when you check out the back of a regular chocolate bar! The cocoa content of the bar is 52% (that’s how dark the chocolate is), which did make me sceptical about how much I would like the chocolate itself, being a fan of super-dark varieties. However, the lower cocoa content does work here; still dark, but it allows the mint flavour to come through wonderfully. The lack of sickly-sweet flavour also means that the cocoa flavour itself isn’t lost. Equalling one well-balanced chocolate bar in the taste department.

All in all I would 100% recommend this chocolate as a healthier treat. It is still chocolate, but it’s a great alternative to some of the more artificial flavour/colour packed bars out there. I’d also purchase it for diabetic friends and relatives, should they be looking for a sugar-free chocolate. As with the orange bar though, this has probably become one of my favourite chocolate bars, full stop, in the universe of chocolate bars- whether they contain sugar or are sugar free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lite Chocolate Company; Dark Chocolate Orange Review

wp-1487159551872.jpgThis is one of the only sugar-free chocolate brands I actually think tastes like “proper chocolate”. And since I have diabetic relatives, then I can see next Christmas actually being a breeze. Its also suitable for those who are gluten free, or vegetarians- so if you’re either of those things, this review will make you very happy…

Last week I was sent a bar of The Lite Company’s Dark Chocolate Orange, from the people over at SweetsWithout, and thank god they did, because before now I hadn’t heard of The Lite Company at all.

There are six different flavours on offer, but I was sent the orange bar- which actually tasted a lot like a dark Terry’s chocolate orange. The chocolate is 52% cocoa solids which is a lot lower than I usually opt for in a dark chocolate bar, but surprisingly this works really, really well. The strength of the chocolate allows for a wonderful, zingy orange zest flavour to come through. There are actually tiny pieces of the orange zest in the chocolate, making for a great texture contrast to the smoothness of the chocolate when it melts in your mouth.

These bars are 85g, which is eight squares of chocolate. I’ve been having two squares after my evening meal most nights, and so this bar is nearly all gone. Unlike a lot of other sugar-free brands, I found two squares was enough: it’s a super rich chocolate, and incredibly satisfying.

The other flavours I’m eyeing up for the future are the dark chocolate & raspberry, dark chocolate and mint, or the milk with hazelnut. Bearing in mind that each bar is £1.97, and yet I felt this tasted better than most regular chocolate, I don’t think it’ll be long before I’ve tried them all.

Embrace The Cake’s Rawreos, Review

wp-1487157855190.jpgA little while back I found an amazing account over on IG. Where they make ridiculously healthy- and also ridiculously tasty- cakes. I know. It’s called Embrace The Cake, and they make superfood cakes and treats- packed with nutritious goodies like dates, oats, nut butters, nuts, and fresh vanilla. Beckie Bird started the company in 2015 after loving the raw food cafés over in New Zealand- thank god she came back to the UK though, or I wouldn’t have been eating these rawreos…

Unfortunately, they are based in London, and I live between Newcastle and West Yorkshire. However, the lovely ladies at Embrace The Cake offered to send me their newest invention: rawreos. I was expecting something good, but I wasn’t expecting them to arrive on Valentine’s Day in pink packaging, to be heart shaped, and to taste this amazing… I think that the chocolate one was my favourite, but lets take a look at each of them. Because I can’t go neglecting the Salted Caramel one either. Before that though I’ll do an overview of what applies to both of them: packaging and ingredients.

Packaging:

Simple, beautiful- you can see it on the picture above. I love the Embrace The Cake logo, and the little bags the biscuits were sealed in kept them perfectly fresh during their journey up to me. Each bag contains 80g of biscuit, which is two biscuits.

 

Ingredients & Nutritional Values:

Okay, the general points I need to make on ingredients (before looking at what’s in each biscuit) is this:

  • Free from refined sugar
  • Free from dairy
  • Free from gluten

If you’re interested, then all of the nutritional values are also listed on the packaging, which I felt was a nice touch for anyone wanting to know. Both of the biscuit flavours were roughly 167kcal per biscuit, with around 18g of carbohydrates, 10g all natural sugar, 5g of protein, and 0.1g of salt. If you’re looking for a comparison, then these are similar values to a nakd bar- but the rawreos are much, much tastier.

Now the best bit…

 

Raw Chocolate Biscuits

These had a cakier texture, and were soft and almost…I don’t know- fluffy? It reminded me of the texture of soft gingerbread biscuits (coincidentally, one of my favourites), when I bit into it. I was not expecting this, but my god it was good. The layer of cream in the middle appears to made from blending up cashews, and it has vanilla seeds scattered throughout. Rich chocolate taste in the actual biscuit. Not overly sweet, just right. I was very impressed. The sweetness comes from the dates, which are first in the ingredients list, and I think the fluffier texture comes from the oats that have formed the biscuit dough. The richness is probably the combination of the cacao and the almond butter. All of the ingredients are listed below:

Dates, gluten free oats, cacao powder, almond butter, lucuma powder, coconut nectar, cashews, vanilla seeds.

That’s it. How much better does an ingredients list get?

 

Raw Salted Caramel Biscuits

Okay, I know there’s a HUGE buzz around salted caramel. This biscuit was chewier than the chocolate one (well, “caramel” people, caramel), but equally as pleasant. Rich, slightly salted (my only suggestion is that it could have taken more salt), and a delicate caramel flavour. This is for people who like their caramel more grown up than cloyingly sweet. Again, great ingredients list:

Dates, gluten free oats, lucuma powder, almond butter, coconut nectar, cashews, vanilla seeds, salt.

The lucuma powder is higher up the ingredients list here because- fun fact-  that’s where the all-natural caramel taste comes from. It’s actually a sub-tropical fruit with TONNES of antioxidants in it. Although, antioxidants is the last thing you’ll be thinking of when you eat one of these.

 

There you have it, my first taste of Embrace The Cake’s rawreos. They go into retail soon, so keep your eyes peeled- because I expect they’ll be snapped up quickly. A massive thank you to Beckie and Camilla over at Embrace The Cake for sending me these- guys, you’ve definitely made me want to embrace some cakes.

 

Here is the website if you’re interested in trying these too (they have recipes!!) http://embracethecake.co.uk/