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

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…

The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter (Book Review)

1498738436270My latest book purchase was on a bit of a whim, as recently I’ve been spending more money on poetry than prose. Here, I made an exception.

Little bit of background on my kind of fairy tales: I am Grimm girl, not a Hans Christian Anderson girl. I used to have a book of fairly gruesome English fairy tales when I was about twelve, and they were brilliant too. I would say Carter leans more towards the Grimm versions of the tales most people know, but with definite modern twists. If I had to sum up her style in one word? Refreshing.

The style of writing is very elaborate in most of the stories. Its much more convoluted that I’m used to, and I swung wildly between loving and hating it. In some stories it made the whole atmosphere gothic and strangely beautiful, in others I found it made the tale harder to follow. The tone is definitely reminiscent of the classic fairy tale mode of story telling. There really is something magical in many of the stories, but with a grittier edge that makes them more adult. They’re more focused on the female body and sex for one. Continue reading

Book Review: Brain over Binge

From the end of April until the end of May I was struggling with some of the most hard-core binge eating I have ever experienced (I know I owe you all a recovery update soon, because I’m now doing pretty well!). Nothing I was doing was improving my situation, meaning that I was ready to try absolutely anything- including buying this book. I had heard amazing reviews, and reports of people stopping binge eating immediately after having finished it. I was not one of those people. I have some severely mixed feelings on this book, and am still not sure entirely what I think of it, so this could be a long review.

Before buying Brain Over Binge I had a good long browse of the responses from readers on Good Reads and Amazon. They were overwhelmingly positive, but a few stood out to me as swinging the opposite way, claiming that the book was frustrating and disappointing, that the author (Kathryn Hansen) lacks the expert knowledge of the functioning of the brain to make the assumptions she makes, that the style of writing is awful, that the writer tells her story in pointless detail- and that the overwhelming message of the book was insulting to those suffering from binge eating. Because the message was : just don’t binge! Now, I don’t entirely agree with these reviews. I didn’t find the style of writing annoying, I found the details of Hansen’s journey interesting, and it was comforting to know someone had gone through close to the same thing as I was in that moment. I know that the author isn’t a brain scientist, but although her book is mainly theory based it does all make sense. She also does signpost the fact that she is drawing on her own experience and rookie research. I thought she had made links between other addictions and their treatment very well. However, I do have to agree with two things:

  • There wasn’t enough advice on handling the urge to binge, and so stopping (I did some research here: Hansen runs a podcast and has numerous blog posts and YouTube interviews, where she addresses additional questions such as these).
  • The “now you know this you can just stop binging” message did bite me in the arse further down the line.

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.

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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.