Halo Top Review

IMG_20180403_175136_964.jpgHalo Top pints have recently made their way into my local Tesco, in flavours I haven’t seen any other brand make, so I had to try them. I know that Halo Top have some non-dairy options over in the US, and non-dairy is my preference as it agrees with my stomach a lot more, but they haven’t made their way over to the UK yet (damn!). When they do I will be filling my freezer with them, but for now I thought I’d give you all a little review of the flavours I’ve tried.

I was surprised by just how good the flavours were for a low calorie ice cream, and how ice cream-like the texture was. This isn’t to say I loved them all, but none of them were a flavoured tub of ice, basically. They generally weren’t too sickly or too rich either. This meant that they didn’t actually upset my stomach, although (I won’t lie) I did experience some bloating. Eating a whole pint could have something to do with this. I know eating a pint of ice cream isn’t necessarily healthy, but I am someone who loves a lot of food, and so if I did want to occasionally treat myself to a whole pint then I would reach for these again.

 

CINNAMON ROLL

This was the single BEST flavour. Very strong on the cinnamon, but it’s a sweet cinnamon and it is actually in the ice cream. It’s also got chunks of doughy cinnamon roll throughout, which I absolutely loved. Not too sickly, definitely my favourite.

SEA SALT CARAMEL

A bit too sweet for me; very much a sweet caramel instead of a rich caramel. There are swirls of caramel throughout which was a nice touch. If sweet, sweet things are your bag then go for this, but I don’t think I’ll be repurchasing this one.  Continue reading

Advertisements

Yorkshire Provender Soups Review!

1503992846497I was recently sent three different soups from Yorkshire Provender, along with some of their new on-the-go porridge pots to try (read about those right here), and today I’m reviewing those soups for you. All of the soups from YP contain no added sugar, are gluten free, and most of the soups from give you 1 of your 5 a Day in half a pot. With September around the corner, and greyer, wetter weather than we’ve had already in “summer”,  soup will soon be on your radar, and if you want it to taste like homemade, then I can highly recommend these ones…

 

Mushroom Soup with Wholegrain Black Rice

Mushrooms are one of my favourite vegetables, but thanks to canned cream of mushroom soup memories (my dad used to make sauces with it, consequently traumatising me for life), I hadn’t had a mushroom soup in years before I found this one. I had tried this soup before it was sent to me, and I have actually re-purchased it since, it is that good. The colour tells you that this brand places mushrooms top of the ingredients list, and not the cream. Sour cream is used for the creaminess, making it less sickly and much more palatable. Mushroom stock is also added for super-intense flavour, along with garlic, parsley, and mustard. The black rice is also a really great addition texture-wise. This was my favourite soup of the bunch.

 

Moroccan Vegetable Tagine (dairy free)

This soup came a close second if we go by order of favourites. Very rich in warming spices (not hot spice, more aromatic- think ginger, turmeric, cumin, nutmeg…) and also mint. I was unsure as the how the mint would play out in this soup, but it comes through just enough, and really lifts the tomato base. This was the most filling of the soups, containing chickpeas, cous cous and lentils as well as veggies, and so its great for when you want healthy comfort food. However exotic this soup sounds, hot buttered toast and a blanket will still go with it. YP have released this as part of their “Journeys in Flavour” collection, and I think they have a Thai soup, an Indian spiced soup, and a Peri Peri soup in this range. I also want to pause here and comment on the packaging, because I think it’s really beautiful. This particular soup is decorated with a patterned tagine pot, with a window left in the centre so that it brings the soup itself into focus. All of the soups have this kind of design, and as I’m a sucker for packaging I thought I would mention it.

 

Cauliflower Cheese With Kale & Fountains Gold Cheddar

Out of the three soups this was the one I expected to like the least, and though I was right, I was surprised that I didn’t hate it. I’m not much of a creamy soup fan, and I’m also not much of a cheese fan (unless its melted on top of a pizza or in an omelette, but that’s a whole other story). However, I have to admit that this soup had a really nice balance of the different flavours. There are leeks, mustard, and nutmeg in there, which cut through the creaminess, and the kale and cauliflower give it a bit more of a fresh taste. I had no idea what Fountains Gold Cheddar was, so I did some Google-ing, and it turns out that its a cheese made in Yorkshire, which is known for being exceptionally creamy and buttery in taste. So I’m going to assume that if you like cheese and soup, this is basically liquid gold. Its also lovely that Yorkshire Provender clearly source their ingredients very carefully (they use British produce), and from Yorkshire when possible.

 

Before I tried these soups I was a huge New Covent Garden fan, but I think I know I’ve been converted. Despite coming from Yorkshire, I hadn’t seen soups from this brand until a couple of months ago, but they suddenly seem to have appeared in my local supermarkets. Near me I can get them in Morrisons and Tesco, though YP also stock in several fancy health food stores, like Wholefoods. I’m hoping that I continue to see an increase of Yorkshire Provender on supermarket shelves!

 

 

 

Yorkshire Provender Jumbo Oat Porridges Review!

1502734519014The first thing that attracted me was the fact that it was porridge. I was trying to figure out if I could eat it cold, when (lo and behold) it said it could be eaten hot or cold on the label. Ingredients check: oats (gluten free, if you’re interested), water (self-explanatory), whole milk (nice and filling- BUT one of the pots is dairy free so read on if this is an issue for you!), honey (I do love honey). No refined sugar. Nice, simple ingredients label with no unpronounceable additions- it was practically what I made at home. I was staying in Birmingham when all this went down, and these pots were £1.50 on introductory offer, as opposed to £5 for a breakfast box from the hotel. Problem solved.

Skip forward a few days, and Yorkshire Provender have sent me one of each of their delicious porridge pots! I mean, I like to think I make amazing porridge myself, but I’m also lazy at times. These pots have encouraged me to be lazier. And I thought I’d let you guys in on what I made of each flavour, because I know this time of year a lot of you are zipping around the UK, and are picking up quick food on the go. These pots are a great option for those times…

 

Honey

All the pots have this AMAZING thickness and creaminess to them. Literally, they are like a rice pudding made of oats. I prefer to eat these cold, and recommend you try this before heating them up! From other reviews I have read, it isn’t just me who feels this way. If you’re away from home you also genuinely have no option. Anyway, the cold texture is just incredibly creamy, so why mess with something already pretty good? This particular pot was smooth other than the oat pieces, so if you aren’t a chunk-age fan, then opt for this one. Slight sweetness to it, not too overpowering. It just felt wholesome to eat, and super-filling. I threw in some raspberries, to add in one of my 5 a Day.

 

Honey, Apple & Cinnamon

Very similar to the honey, but with chunks of tender apple, almost as if they had been poached. This pot contains the ingredients I have listed above in the introduction, with apple and honey added in. Now is possibly a great time to mention that these pots all use gluten-free oats. This pot could well have been my favourite, as I love the combination of sweet apple, and warm cinnamon- I feel like it’ll be a great breakfast for when you’re running late in autumn/winter.

 

Cranberries & Pumpkin Seeds (this one is DAIRY FREE!)

My second favourite pot- a close second too. The ingredients list is slightly different for this pot, as dried cranberries are used, and also pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin seeds added a beautiful crunch now and again, great for anyone who usually adds nuts or seeds to their porridge. There are pieces of the cranberries which have re-hydrated in the oats-and-milk mixture, making them juicier than your regular dried cranberries. YP threw a bit of a curveball here, and also threw in red quinoa. It adds a little more flavour and texture, and made this pot extra thick in consistency (we all know I like my oats so thick you can stand a spoon up in them). This is also the pot which is dairy free, using coconut cream, for anyone vegan or lactose intolerant.

I would definitely recommend these pots, and not just for breakfast. If I’m hungry in an evening I’m usually found rummaging around in the cereal tubs, but when I had these in I was headed straight for the fridge. You can buy them in Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, thought my local stores don’t seem to have them in yet. I’m really hoping they come in store soon! You can also take a look at them on the YP website for further information.

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

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…

 

Cake Stories: Jesmond’s equivalent to Heaven.

IMG_20170516_213258_206

 

If you live in Newcastle then chances are you have heard of Cake Stories, on Brentwood Avenue. For my final year of uni I have lived literally seconds from this place, and for a good month (I like to change this up regularly) it was probably my favourite creative writing spot. Tea, cake, creative writing. What more do you need?

Cake stories is adorable. Literally, it makes you want to go ‘awwww!’ every time you walk in. It’s not fluffy and pink by any strength of the imagination, just cozy and welcoming. There is a cabinet of cakes laid on trays at the back of the shop, each cake cut into a square and decorated elegantly. They once made unicorn cake, which I am told was very colourful, but I unfortunately didn’t get to try it. The staff are more than happy to recommend you a cake, because trust me: you will struggle to decide. I recommend the Maple-Pecan, the Red Velvet, Zesty Lemon, Cherry Bakewell, or Mocha. That sounds a lot of options, but there are many, many more than that. They make cake sundaes too. And you can get ice cream with anything. Anything. Cake Stories also serve breakfasts and lunches, including avocado on toast or beans on toast, which are two of my personal favourite options when eating out for breakfast or brunch.

Teas. Cake Stories does tea really well. Try the Cherry-Almond Rooibos (I think that’s what it was called, whatever it was, it was delicious). Expect a cute cup and tea pot, and loose leaf tea- and milk in a miniature milk bottle too. Coffees taste great, and I recommend the cappuccino. Before I leave Newcastle I am determined to get myself an iced coffee from here too, as I hear they are extremely good.

If you can then get yourself to Cake Stories on an evening, then this is when you should go. Most evenings they are open until 9:30pm. At this point the fairy-lights and bulbs hanging from the ceiling are on, and everything becomes 100x cosier- from the massive shelf of tea jars, to the mismatched vintage-y furniture, to the smell of cakes and coffee. A lot of students seem to bring work here on an evening for a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere, or dump the work and come to catch up with friends after a long day. But in-case you can’t get a table, they do cake to go, so there’s really no excuse not to try it.

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