31 Jan 2013

Tyrrells Proper Popcorn Sticky Toffee Pudding Review

I've been getting into popcorn a lot recently, even though I never used to eat it as a snack before. There are lots of new flavours being released all the time, and a few excellent gourmet ranges, but they can be quite hard to find. I thought I would try a range that is available in a lot of supermarkets - Tyrrells. Being a sweet tooth I was immediately drawn to the Sticky Toffee Pudding flavour which was released a few months ago. There are also savoury varieties available in the range such as; Sea Salted, Mature Cheddar Cheese, and Sour Cream & Jalapeño

The packaging is similar to the rest of the Tyrrell's range, featuring a jaunty retro looking black and white photograph. Although whatever these two ladies are feeding each other - it's definitely not popcorn. It's either an anaemic strawberry or a roast potato - you decide. But swiftly back to the popcorn itself. The consistency is excellent, with a light and fluffy, almost springy, texture. Most of the pieces are quite large and have a good colouring.They are not overly chewy which is a pet hate of mine when it comes to popcorn. 

The flavouring is delicious too, although it's a much more subtle flavour compared to the gourmet popcorn I have been trying lately. It's definitely reminiscent of a classic sticky toffee pudding without being too over the top. There is an obvious toffee flavour that has a delicious treacle undertone to it, alongside a smooth buttery taste.  The flavours are all quite light, in that they don't dominate the popcorn itself. I could happily munch through most of the bag as it doesn't feel too heavy to eat. Luckily for me there are under 100 calories per serving, although Tyrrell's gives a serving as only 19g. The whole bag on the other hand is 75g and provides 504 calories. Still even that is not too bad as long as I remember to share the bag with someone else...

Overall a very tasty popcorn and I can't wait to try more from the range.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Tyrrells Sticky Toffee Pudding Popcorn

RATING: 9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition (per 19g serving): 96 calories, 1.2g protein, 11.6g carbohydrates (4.2g sugars), 4.7g fat.
Purchased: Waitrose.
Price: £1.50p (for 75g bag)

30 Jan 2013

Walkers Deep Ridged Chilli Beef Review

Thank you to @baobaogeek from the A Simple Geeky Life blog who tweeted me a pic of these new Chilli Beef crisps. The Walkers Deep Ridged range must be doing extremely well for Walkers to bring out a new flavour so soon after the initial release. I have already reviewed the original flavours in the range; Flame Grilled Steak, Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar, and Mature Cheddar & Onion, with the Flame Grilled Steak being my hands down favourite. Check out that review for my thoughts on the range in general.

The Deep Ridged crisps are very aptly named and the mountain range picture on the front of the pack is not a joke - these are impressively ridged crisps. Each vast ridge is packed full of visible flavouring, undoubtedly one of the main reasons why these crisps have been so popular. Chilli Beef seems like quite an unusual flavour choice, the rest of the range is certainly more mainstream. When I think of Chilli Beef, I think of either a chilli con carne type dish, or a Chinese dish made with fried strips of steak.

The Walkers Chilli Beef crisps are not really like either of those dishes. They have their own flavour, which all the testers here (hubby and kids!) agreed was very tasty. There were lots of different herbs and spices at play, but I could especially taste the cumin alongside a sweet chilli. There was a general meaty flavour but it wasn't particularly "beefy". The crisps are actually vegetarian (and vegan too as far as I can tell) but I think fans of meaty crisps will still enjoy the flavour here.

The chilli flavour is quite earthy and sweet, and even though there is a very slight chilli burn that does build, they was no real heat at all. I should know as I'm a complete wimp when it comes to chilli heat, and these were absolutely fine for me. Overall I enjoyed this new flavour, it's a little bit different to a usual beef flavour for crisps. The Deep Ridged range are all extremely delicious and I think this Chilli Beef makes a great addition to the range, however the Flame Grilled Steak remains my favourite!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Walkers Deep Ridged Chilli Beef

RATING: 7.5 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition (large 50g bag): 260 calories, 3.3g protein, 26.0g carb (0.9g sugars), 15.4g fat.
Purchased: Local newsagents.
Price: £0.50p 

28 Jan 2013

Beyond Dark Chocolate Drops Review

I'm sure most people reading this have already heard about the potential health benefits of chocolate. This is due to the natural presence of flavanol antioxidants which have been linked to health benefits such as; lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, improved blood flow, improved skin tone, increased alertness and many others. Unfortunately for us chocolate lovers, a lot of our favourite mass produced chocolate bars, even the dark chocolate ones, do not contain high levels of flavonols, partly because some of these antioxidants are destroyed during the manufacturing process.

I was contacted via twitter to try some Beyond Dark Chocolate Drops, and I was certainly intrigued to try a chocolate that claims to have more than three times the amount of antioxidant found in standard dark chocolate. The Beyond Dark range is the result of a four year quest by the founders to create an antioxidant rich chocolate. They used the "finest cocoa beans from the African Ivory Coast" and a unique production process to ensure the high levels and even claim that their chocolate contains the antioxidant equivalent of 25 oranges, 8 bananas or five apples in every 35 g pack.

I do love dark chocolate but I am a bit fussier about it than milk or white chocolate, mainly because I don't like any dark chocolate that has a bitter edge to it. Thankfully these Beyond Dark chocolate drops are just the kind of dark chocolate that I love. The chocolate is an intense 70% cocoa solids minimum dark chocolate that still manages to be extremely enjoyable to eat. It is rich and smooth, with an additional hint of vanilla that provides just enough creaminess and sweetness. There is no bitterness at all, just a perfectly well-balanced rich chocolate.

These chocolate drops, in moderation, are perfect for anyone who is following a diet or on a health kick. They will provide a little chocolate hit without too much guilt. There are 189 calories in each 35g pack, making each drop slightly less than 2 calories - although I can't imagine eating just one or two as they are quite small! They are very useful for baking too. I make some vegan oat cookies once in a while, and next time I do, I'll be adding some of these chocolate drops.

Beyond Dark drops are available in Harrods, Sainsbury’s, Holland & Barrett, and selected independent retailers. They are also available in Hints of Raspberry and Hints of Orange varieties. They are gluten, wheat and dairy free, and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

And if you've ever asked yourself the question: "which provides more pleasure - kittens, puppies or chocolate?", then check out the Measure of Pleasure experiment. This is one battle that chocolate cannot win!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Beyond Dark Chocolate Drops

RATING: 8.5 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Definitely.
Nutrition: 189 calories, 2.7g protein, 10.9g carb (9.7g sugars), 14.7g fat.
Price: £0.99p (Holland & Barrett)

Ingredients: Cocoa solids 70% Minimum (Cocoa Mass 63.67%, Cocoa Butter 8.95%), Sugar, Vanilla, Emulsifier: Soya Lecithin

PR Samples.

27 Jan 2013

Random Review Roundup 2

A few months ago I did a Random Review Roundup featuring lots of new products that I had bought but never got around to reviewing, either because I didn't take enough photos or I just plain forgot. So here is another chance for some unloved products to get their mini moment of glory:

Shape Delights Vanilla & Chocolate: A low calorie yogurt with a simple vanilla flavour and added dark chocolate sprinkles. The artificial sweetener aftertaste is quite strong. 6 out of 10.

Kettle Tortilla Chips- Cool Sour Cream: These were so good that they were all eaten before I could take any decent photos. A great alternative to Doritos. The Cool Sour Cream variety have a very similar flavour to Doritos Cool Original, but without the MSG. 9 out of 10.

Kellogg's All-Bran Chocolate Crunch: Anyone want to read my fascinating review all about All-Bran Chocolate Crunch?? No - I thought not. 7 out of 10.

Kooks Vegetable & Rice Snacks: These were worth a review but unfortunately my photos were quite dire. It was hard to capture the cuteness of the characters on the packets. They reminded me of the LocoRoco computer game. A healthier alternative to crisps, with less salt, less fat and high in fibre. If you see them buy them. 8 out of 10.

Mila: Looking at this is bringing back some horrible memories. Have you ever taken one bite of a snack and spat it straight out again? Well that's exactly the effect the Mila had on me. I thought this would make a cute Christmas review with it's tinsel and baubles picture on the front, alongside a cappuccino. What flavour could this possibly be? I asked myself. Surely not tinsel and bauble flavour. Hahahaha. Well the joke is on me. Turns out it was sour milk and vomit flavour. 0 out of 10.

*Updated to add - it seems I may have purchased a bad Mila, please see comments section below in which Jeremy, from Milk and Spoon compares the cream flavour to a Kinder Maxi King - now that sounds much nicer!*

Haribo Christmas range 2012: These Merry Snowmen, Jolly Santas, and Stars all look very cute. As with a lot of Christmas junk food, these are still sitting in the cupboard. One day Haribo, one day.

Ritter Sport Butter Biscuit:  A buttery biscuit surrounded by a thick layer of alpine milk chocolate. What's not to love? It's more of a thickly covered biscuit rather than a chocolate bar but it's delicious nonetheless. 8.5 out of 10.

Snowy Puffs: I bought these in a discount store and I don't think they even exist anymore. Probably because the meringue balls do not taste very good at all, they're too hard and crunchy. At least it wasn't a repeat of the Party Puffs fiasco. 4 out of 10.

Calin + Vanilla: A creamy yogurt with a delicious sweet vanilla flavour. With added calcium and vitamin D, it's a good choice for reluctant milk drinkers. 8 out of 10.

Pumpkin Pie from Whole Foods: It turns out that my eldest son loves pumpkin pie. Who knew? This pie was so delicious, and the whole family loved it so much, that I even baked a homemade pumpkin pie a few weeks later. My son said he wants the Whole Foods one again next time. 9 out of 10.

The Pantry Chocolate Bread (Aldi): I thought this was quite an interesting product. It came with a foil tray and a basic bread mix which only needed a few wet ingredients to be added (eggs and milk) and then left to rise. The finished product was quite disappointing, very stodgy and with not much flavour. 4 out of 10.

Kit Kat Extra Crispy: Made by Hershey's in the US and obviously similar to our very own Kit Kat Chunky but with some big differences. The chocolate is much thinner (surely the main joy of a Kit Kat Chunky is the super thick chocolate coating!) and is nowhere near as tasty. There are also even more layers of wafer here, making these taste like a rather boring wafer biscuit. 5 out of 10.

I hope you enjoyed this Random Review Roundup and, due to my shopoholic ways, I am sure there will be a few more to come.

26 Jan 2013

New Kellogg's Strawberry Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes

Strawberry seems to be the new go-to flavour for cereal makers. There have been lots of new strawberry cereals in the last year; Curiously Strawberry (the fruity version of Curiously Cinnamon), Weetabix Minis Strawberry and even supermarket own brands, such as Strawberry Squares from Sainsbury's. Kellogg's Rice Krispies Multi-grain Shapes, the perennial kids favourite, is the latest cereal to get a strawberry makeover.

It might not seem the most exciting of flavours but my kids were certainly very keen to try them. They are already fans of the original Multi-grain Shapes, which are fairly simple in terms of flavour. The shapes have always struck me as being quite strange - a Christmas tree, a stickman figure, a star and a fish. So random, but then again, I'm sure it took many kid based focus groups to settle on those four shapes!

In this strawberry version the shapes have a pinkish colouring. They smell strongly of sweet strawberry, similar to that of a sugary strawberry milkshake. The overall taste is very similar to the regular Multi-grain Shapes. The added strawberry is delicious but quite light and is made with natural strawberry flavourings. It doesn't make the milk turn strawberry or overpower the rest of the flavours. I'm sure that most kids will absolutely love them, mine certainly did. I only eat cereal as a snack (without milk) and I thought they were very tasty, not too sugary, and extremely moreish.

They are full of the usual added fibre, wholegrain and vitamins that you would expect in a cereal aimed at children. Although they don't seem to contain the added prebiotic cultures that the original Rice Krispies Multi-grain Shapes used to have. *Update* My mistake these do contain prebiotic, they just no longer advertise the fact on the box.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes Strawberry

RATING: 8.5 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Kids say... yes.
Nutrition (30g serving with milk): 175 calories, 7g protein, 29g carb (11g sugars), 3g fat.
Purchased: Sainsbury's.
Price: £2.00 (on special offer, usual price £2.79).

24 Jan 2013

New York Bakery Co Review: Limited Edition Blueberry Bagels and new Fruit & Oat and Red Onion & Chive Bagels

Good news for bagel fans. New York Bakery Co have released two new bagel varieties, Fruit & Oat and Red Onion & Chive, as well as one Limited Edition bagel variety, Blueberry.

The blueberry bagels are especially exciting news, as it is surprisingly hard to find this flavour of bagel (Sainsbury's used to sell a delicious blueberry bagel but they were sadly discontinued). As soon as I opened the packet I could tell that these New York Bakery Co Blueberry bagels were not going to disappoint, the abundant smell of blueberries was immediately evident.


The overall flavour is just delicious, full of sweet fruitiness. They tasted amazing with some added blueberry jam on top! There was also quite a lot of fruit in each bagel. The blueberries were all different sizes, there were some whole large pieces of fruit and other smaller bits. I loved the the sweet burst of flavour from the larger blueberries! The only thing I don't like (and I don't often say this!) is that they are only a limited edition. I would love these to be added to the permanent range as I can see them being very popular.

The Fruit & Oat bagels are a mix of raisins, cranberries, sunflower seeds, all topped with oats. The fruit pieces were all succulent and sweet, but I couldn't particularly tell the raisins from the cranberries. Despite that, these bagels are extremely delicious, and if you like fruity bagels or oats then you will definitely enjoy these.

Fruit & Oat
They don't contain any cinnamon or spices, so they are very different from the Raisin & Cinnamon bagels that New York Bakery Co. already sell. The oats and sunflower seeds give the bagels an added crunch and texture which I loved.

The only savoury option in this batch of new additions are these Red Onion & Chive bagels.  They have visible bits of chive throughout but I couldn't detect too many pieces of onion, apart from a few small flecks.

Red Onion & Chive
There is no doubting these are onion bagels when it comes to the taste though, as the onion flavour is very strong! It's not the most original of bagel flavours, as it's fairly easy to find onion bagels. The chives, however, do add a little extra flavour which comes through after the initial onion flavour. These would be absolutely delicious with various fillings, especially cheese.

L to R: Fruit & Oat, Blueberry, Red Onion & Chive
The texture in all three of the bagels was fantastic. Once toasted, they stayed soft in the middle and had a delicious and slightly chewy outer crust, without being too chewy. All of these bagels are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Grocery Gems Verdict: New York Bakery Co: Blueberry, Fruit & Oat, Red Onion & Chive

RATING: 9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: I'm stocking up on the blueberry!
Nutrition (Blueberry): 255 calories, 9.7g protein, 49.3g carbohydrate (8.2g sugars), 1.3g fat.
Nutrition (Fruit & Oat): 262 calories, 9.7g protein, 48.1g carbohydrate (10.5g sugars), 2.4g fat.
Nutrition (Red Onion): 250 calories, 10.4g protein, 47.2g carbohydrate (7.2g sugars), 1.3g fat.
Purchased: Sainsbury's.
Price: £1.65 or 2 packs for £2.50 (4 bagels in each pack).

23 Jan 2013

New Tesco Eat Live Enjoy Range - Mango & Passionfruit and Peach Yogurts

My local Tesco has this new Eat Live Enjoy range prominently displayed instore. All the products have the same minimalistic white packaging and logo. The actual range is quite extensive ranging from dairy products to desserts, all clearly aimed at dieters, claiming to be healthy and high quality. I was quite surprised by the diversity of products all sharing the same shelf, there were Reduced Fat Cheese & Turkish Raisins Snack Packs next to Chocolate Muffin desserts, clearly Tesco wants to display all of the new range together for the time being.

I decided to try the pack of four fat free yogurts in Mango & Passionfruit and Peach, just because mango yogurt is one of my favourite sweet treats. The yogurts are fat free and only 65 calories each, which is less than half the calories of my usual mango yogurt. The consistency of these yogurts was good, they are not watery, like some other low calories yogurt ranges I've tried but they are not thick either. I don't mind yogurts that are not too creamy so this wasn't a problem for me. I would describe the texture of this yogurt as almost lightly whipped, it felt like they were slightly airy.

The fruit flavours were good, more so in the peach variety, which had a lovely sweet fruity flavour. The mango and passionfruit had a slightly sharper taste to it so, despite my usual preference for mango, it wasn't my favourite of the two flavours. Surprisingly the peach yogurt is lower in calories, with only 60 calories per pot. Both flavours have an artificial sweetener aftertaste to them which is to be expected from the ingredients. These products are clearly aimed at dieters, they even have the Weightwatchers Pro Points listed (2 in each pot) and, given the low calories, it's a perfectly decent yogurt which will help curb a sweet craving.

Image: Tesco

Also included in the range are; individual yogurt pots (100 calories each) which are made with Greek yogurt, a chocolate muffin dessert (150 calories - but it's quite small), tiramisu dessert, vanilla rice puddings, breakfast smoothies and many others that I forgot to note down!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Eat Live Enjoy - Mango & Passionfruit and Peach Yogurts

RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: I would try more from the range.
Nutrition (Mango): 65 calories, 4.8g protein, 10.2g carbohydrate (7.1g sugars), 0.1g fat.
Nutrition (Peach): 60 calories, 4.4g protein, 9.8g carbohydrate (8.3g sugars), 0.2g fat.
Purchased: Tesco.
Price: £1.49 or 2 packs for £2.00 (mix and match with some of the other products).

21 Jan 2013

Zagnut Review

Last week I reviewed the American Take 5 bar, which had been sent to me by Hannah aka The Review Addict. She also sent me this Zagnut, which is another American bar - so a very big thank you to Hannah for her generosity. Zagnut is a really unusual bar - from it's name, to the way it looks, to the actual taste.

The Zagnut bar has been around for a long time (there are some great details about it's history on this fab review by CandyBlog). It's origins go back to the 1930's when it was manufactured by a company called Clarks but it's now owned and made by the US giant Hersheys.

Is it just me or does the Zagnut look like a large fish finger? I could totally prank my husband by serving one of these on a plate with chips and peas on the side *maniacal laugh*.

The slightly bizarre appearance comes from the crispy layer of toasted coconut which completely cover this bar - there is no chocolate coating, or indeed any chocolate within it. This outer layer is quite crumbly and has a deliciously sweet coconut flavour.

The inner filling is made of a sort of peanut butter brittle, it's crunchy at first but soon turns very chewy in the mouth. The flavours of coconut and peanut butter go together really well and make me wish that I could buy an actual jar of coconut peanut butter. The salty edge of the peanut butter provides a delicious contrast to the sweetness of the sugary layers.  The textures are crunchy, crumbly and chewy all at once. It's a very special one-of-a-kind bar and I really enjoyed trying it - thank you again Hannah!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Zagnut

RATING: 8 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 220 calories, 3g protein, 35g carbohydrate (25g sugars), 9g fat.
Purchased: A gift from The Review Addict - check out her blog!
Price: £1.44p (available from CyberCandy).

18 Jan 2013

New Müller Kids Corner Footballs & Lots of Love Hearts

They might be called Müller Kids Corner but I think these yogurts are going to appeal to many adults aswell - they are both absolutely adorable and very tasty too. They are full sized pots (the same as a regular Müller Corner),  made up of a creamy yogurt with a portion of fun novelty shaped white chocolate covered cereal on the side.

The Müller Corner Lots of Love yogurt has pink and white chocolate coated cereal hearts - I know little kids will love them but I think they are super cute too.

The strawberry yogurt portion is very similar, if not identical, to that of the Strawberry Shortcake Müller Corner. It has a lovely sweet strawberry flavour and is creamy without any "bits".

The pink and white chocolate coated cereal hearts don't just look lovely, they are also very tasty. They are quite small but give a sweet chocolate crunch to the yogurt. There is a generous portion of the chocolate hearts too, so there is enough to justify nibbling some, or quite a few, before you try the yogurt.

And just so the sports fans don't feel left out, there is also this awesome Football version.

The yogurt is a super sweet and creamy vanilla flavour - which just happens to be my children's favourite kind. I can see that I am going to be buying these yogurts a lot. The footballs are also made of white chocolate coated cereal - obviously a very kid friendly choice.

It's quite hard to capture just how brilliant the little cereal "footballs" look. There is no real picture of them on the packaging so I didn't expect much, but they look fantastic. My boys said "whoooah" as soon as they opened it - and they thought they were absolutely ace.

I bought the yogurts in these multipacks of four full sized 135g yogurts. They have no artifical colours, sweeteners of preservatives and provide 20% RDA of calcium. However they are also fairly high in sugar and calories for a yogurt. Definitely more of a treat/dessert. If you like Müller Corner yogurts then give these a try - they are fun and delicious!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Kids Corner Footballs & Lots of Love

RATING: 8.5 out of 10
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition per pot (Footballs): 197 cals,
4.9g protein,  26.7g carb (23.6g sugars), 7.4g fat.
Nutrition per pot (Lots of Love): 207 cals, 5.5g protein,  28.3g carb (24.8g sugars), 7.4g fat.
Purchased: Tesco.
Price: 2 packs (of 4 yogurts) for £3.50 or £2.39 each.

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