28 Mar 2014

Review: Degustabox March - Surprise Foodie Box & Discount Code!

Well the March Degustabox arrived yesterday and I have to admit that it's still just as exciting opening up the gorgeous box to find out what's inside! Last month's box was quite snack based (see review here), which I enjoyed, but the March box sees a return to more cooking choices and main meal inspiration. Overall, it's a great selection with a good mix of products and once again there several which are new to me! 

Discount Code:

Each Degustabox cost £12.99 a month, which includes delivery, and there is no fixed contract involved. But don't forget you can use the following Discount Code for £3.00 off your next Degustabox bringing the cost to £9.99 delicvered. Enter the code - Q6Q0G

Here's a closer look at the contents inside the March Degustabox.

Mexican Dave's - Nacho Cheese flavour tortilla chips with a quirky design and backstory that are made using the best ingredients and without any artificial colours, flavours or MSG. I've reviewed these previously HERE. The Degustabox also includes a delicious looking recipe card for Dave's Legendary Loaded Nachos, a delicious looking concoction of loaded tortilla chips. The range is available at Iceland, Poundstretchers and other local outlets.

Organico Italian Durum Wheat Pasta - Organico prides itself on sourcing foods from good and fair origins. Their pasta comes from the 'La Marche' region's pioneering organic co-operative, founded to protect vanishing jobs in the countryside, promote bio-diversity and sustain rich agricultural soils. This 500g bag of brown penne is made with 100% La Marche durum wheat.

Organico Tomato & Basil - a jar of organic pasta sauce from Tuscany. I love the simple ingredients listed on this jar, it's just tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, salt, basil and garlic. This sauce comes from another co-operative in Tuscany where the tomatoes are picked and packed within 24 hours to maximise freshness and they can actually track each jar back to a specific field! Organico also follow the Slow Food movements motto which represents good quality, sustainable clean ingredients and fair treatment of suppliers. 

Tyrrell's Proper Popcorn - Tyrrell's Proper Popcorn is made from Weaver Gold corn kernels and all popped at Tyrrells Court Farm in Hertforshire. This Sweet & Salty popcorn is already a product I buy quite regular, especially the handy snack sized multipacks. The bag I received was the small size from a multipack, it would have been good to have a few more packs included or a larger sharing bag instead. 

MOMA! Porridge - Two handy pots of instant porridge in Cranberry And Raisin, and Plain - No Added Sugar, varieties. My husband always starts his day with porridge and he often buys these types of porridge pots, they only need hot water to make a creamy porridge. I've never tried this MOMA! range before so I'm looking forward to giving these a try. Started from a pitch at Waterloo Station, these porridge pots are now available in Waitrose and Sainsbury's. 

Drink Me Chai - The highlight of the March Degustabox for me are these chai drinks, a 250g tub of Chocolate Chai Latte and an individual sachet of Earl Grey Tea: Latte.  Funnily enough I had just spotted the Tea: Latte sachets in my local Sainsbury's and had already picked up a few. I seriously can't wait to give these a try! The Tea: Latte is an infusion of Earl Grey tea with frothy milk, whilst the Chocolate Chai Latte is a unique blend of rich cocoa with warm spices. These both sound wonderful to me so I'll be reviewing them soon. Available at Waitrose and Sainsbury's.

Shaken Udder Milkshakes - in Strawberry, Banana, and Chocolate. I'm already a fan of the Shaken Udder range of milkshakes, they're very handy for lunchboxes but it's also reassuring to know that they contain only natural ingredients. They are made with real fruit or Belgian chocolate and blended with fresh British milk without any nasties such as artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. The March Degustabox also includes two vouchers for free packs of Shaken Udder Milkshakes from Tesco. 

Schwartz Flavour Shots - two each of Spanish Paella and Italian Creamy Herb Tagliatelle. I spotted these in Tesco a few days ago so I was very pleased to find them included in the Degustabox. 

They contain a blend of herbs, spices and seasonings infused in oil to create a tasty meal. I make paella fairly often, it's one of our favourite family meals, so I'm keen to try out the Spanish Paella Flavour Shot first. I'll feature a review soon. 

Overall I was once again impressed with the selection in the Degustabox, I love the fact that all the boxes I have received so far have been so completely different from each other. This month, I'm especially excited to try out the Drink Me Chai range and the Schwartz Flavour Shots.

For more details take a look at the Degustabox website: www.degustabox.com

I received a Degustabox in order to provide an honest review.

27 Mar 2014

Review: New Dorset Cereals Tasty Toasted Muesli

The lovely range of Dorset Cereals' muesli has undergone a nature inspired makeover and also introduced two new varieties. I was recently sent a selection of the Dorset Cereals Tasty Toasted Muesli in three varieties; Spelt,Fruit & Nut Muesli, New Hazelnut & Brazil Muesli, and New Raspberry & Apple Muesli. With this new Tasty Toasted range, Dorset Cereals have created a muesli with a lighter texture and crunch, whilst still being packed with wholegrains and fibre. Using only the finest ingredients these cereals combine crunchy flakes with the natural taste of a quality muesli. I was happy to be asked to put the Tasty Toasted range to the test and I've even used them as the basis for a few simple recipes.

Dorset Cereals Tasty Toasted Raspberry & Apple Muesli - The different shades of pink make this muesli look so pretty, it's like a little bowl of sunshine to wake up to in the morning. The pink colouring comes from a mix of dried cranberries, freeze dried raspberries, and raspberry flavoured barley flakes. There are also pieces of dried apple which add a lovely extra sweetness. I enjoyed the crunchiness of the flakes, made up of oat flakes, barley flakes, rye flakes and wheat flakes, combined with the more traditional ingredients of a muesli. It's the fruitiest muesli of the bunch and makes a very delicious start to the day.

Dorset Cereals Tasty Toasted Hazelnut & Brazil Muesli - This is a combination of toasted flakes, chopped hazelnuts, sliced Brazil nuts and coconut with almonds and tiny date pieces. Again, it has a wonderful combination of crunchy and chewy elements. The overall flavour has a delicious caramel and coconut edge that I absolutely adored.

Raspberry & Apple Muesli Cookies

I decided to add the Dorset Cereals Tasty Toasted Muesli to my favourite super easy recipe for oat cookies. These never fail! I've used this recipe for many years, it's adapted from this recipe here. (Note: I usually use 8oz of Porridge Oats but adapted that quantiy to include the muesli).


8oz Self Raising Flour
8oz Sugar
6oz Porridge Oats
2oz Tasty Toasted Raspberry & Apple Muesli
8oz Margarine (I use a vegan spread, Pure)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon Golden Syrup


- Melt the margarine or butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the Golden Syrup and a spoonful of hot water if needed. 
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, sugar, oats, muesli, cinnamon).
- Stir the melted ingredients into the dry ingredients.
- Combine well until the mixture forms a large ball of dough.
-Make balls using the dough (I make mine quite large!), then place on a lined baking tray and flatten each ball gently with a fork.
- Place in a preheated oven at 180c for 12-15 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack.

These cookies are very simple to make and my whole family loves them!

Also a quick serving suggestion, I've been enjoying the Tasty Toasted Muesli range simply served with plain yogurt and blueberries, instead of milk. You could also add a drizzle of honey or use a vanilla flavoured yogurt for a sweeter treat. 

Grocery Gems Verdict: Dorset Cereals Tasty Toasted Muesli

Rating: Hazelnut & Brazil; 9 out of 10, Raspberry & Apple; 10 out of 10.
Nutrition: Hazelnut & Brazil: 243 cals per 43g, Raspberry & Apple; 223 cals per 43g.
Purchased: Available in Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury's.
Price: £3.79p rrp (650g).

26 Mar 2014

New Beech's Fine Chocolate Bars (and a Discount Code!)

Beech's Fine Chocolates have released a lovely new chocolate bar range for 2014. There are six varieties; Lime & Chilli Dark Chocolate, Natural Ginger Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and Anglesey Sea Salt Milk Chocolate. The whole range is made with 100% natural ingredients, gluten free and suitable for vegetarians. All the dark chocolate varieties are suitable for vegans. Each bar is 60g, perfect for sharing or for two individual servings, and costs £1.50.  

15% Discount Code:

Enter this promotional code at checkout - BFC18031410

Beech's Fine Chocolates have kindly offered my readers 15% discount on all purchases until the end of April. Delivery is free on purchases over £12.00. There are some gorgeous ideas for Mother's Day or Easter gifts. Take a look at their online shop:

Isn't the packaging gorgeous? I love the colors used, and the intricate design patterns looks both contemporary and traditional at the same time. My favourite is the Lime & Chilli Dark Chocolate bar (top left corner) which has a gorgeous red and green colour scheme and bold paisley print.

Firstly a review of the milk and white chocolate selections, all made with the finest natural ingredients.

The Milk Chocolate and Anglesey Sea Salt Milk Chocolate bars are both made with 30% cocoa solids, which has a wonderfully smooth and creamy flavour. The addition of the Anglesey sea salt in the second bar provides a salty edge which really highlights the sweet flavour of the chocolate. It can be an acquired taste but personally I love the combination of sweet and salty flavours in chocolate, and it's been wonderfully executed here by Beech's. Even my husband, who doesn't usually like this type of flavour, very much enjoyed this bar.

Milk Chocolate: 109 calories per 20g. Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Anglesey Sea Salt: 109 calories per 20g. Rating: 10 out of 10.

The White Chocolate is a supremely creamy and sweet bar with a delicious vanilla flavour. It's a great choice for anyone who is a fan of white chocolate, the all natural ingredients used really elevate this into the highest quality white chocolate. Even though it's the sweetest bar of the bunch, it's not overly sweet or too sugary, emphasizing the natural vanilla flavour within.

White Chocolate: 112 calories per 20g. Rating: 9 out of 10.

Next up, the gorgeous trio of vegan approved dark chocolates.

Like the two milk chocolate bars, these dark chocolates bars all have the same outer appearance, very glossy and inviting. The flavours however, all provide quite different experiences. The dark chocolate used in each bar has a 55% minimum cocoa solids base. I've always enjoyed Beech's dark chocolates, they have a rich depth of flavour and a sweet edge without any bitterness at all, and I was pleased to see that this continues in their Dark Chocolate. The Natural Ginger bar builds on this delicious dark chocolate base with a warming spicy flavour that fans of ginger will love. The Lime & Chilli bar might sound like a flavour too far but it actually one of my overall favourites from the range, mainly because of the gorgeous sweet lime flavour which comes through from the outset. The chilli flavour comes through as a secondary flavour with an initially mild heat that builds slightly in intensity, but perfectly compliments the dark chocolate. 

Dark Chocolate: 110 calories per 20g. Rating: 9 out of 10.

Natural Ginger Dark Chocolate: 110 calories per 20g. Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Lime & Chilli Dark Chocolate: 110 calories per 20g. Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

Overall we were all impressed by this new chocolate bar range from Beech's Fine Chocolates. I've always enjoyed the high quality of the chocolate they use in all their confections, so I'm pleased to see this extended into this gorgeous range of chocolate bars.

Products sent for an honest review.

25 Mar 2014

Review: Fox's Party Footballs

Fox's Party Ring biscuits have been given a fun football update, presumably to coincide with the World Cup this year. It's a simple twist but a clever one too, turning the usual ring shaped biscuits into circles. There are 20 biscuits in a pack and each one has only 29 calories.

I like the pastel colours used for these biscuits, especially the new blues and peach.

The icing design on the biscuits looks slightly different to the packaging. These don't have that marble effect. But if you're thinking that they don't look very football insprired then take a look at the backs of each biscuit.

Each biscuit has one of five football designs engraved on the back. They all look very effective but I especially like the patterned one. The biscuits taste exactly like a classic Fox's Party Ring, a nice golden biscuit with a crunchy icing topping. My boys really enjoyed these football biscuits and I'm sure they would be popular at a children's party, especially a football themed one! 

Grocery Gems Verdict: Fox's Party Footballs

Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition: 29 calories per biscuit. 
Purchased: Sainsbury's.
Price: £1.15p.

24 Mar 2014

New McCain Special Roast Potatoes

I was recently sent a few packs of McCain Special Roast Potatoes to review. They're described as being made with the best quality King Edward Potatoes and basted in beef dripping for a sumptuous taste and texture - great if you're planning an Easter lunch for the whole family or simply for a weekday meal with a difference. 

I used them to accompany a quick midweek meal of roasted red pepper chicken drumsticks with steamed broccoli. The potatoes were all of a good size, with a few smaller or very big ones in the mix too. They take 30-35 minutes to cook in the oven. The texture was excellent, crispy on the outside but still fluffy and tasty on the inside. The beef dripping coating gives them a very traditional and authentic flavour that would go very nicely with a meat roast and lots of gravy. Overall I was impressed with these McCain Special Roast Potatoes and they certainly help to take some of the work out of making a roast dinner. I'd love to see a vegetarian version available too, perhaps with olive oil instead of the beef dripping. 

The McCain Special Roast Potatoes are available in Asda and Tesco at an RRP of £2.50.

Grocery Gems Verdict: McCain Special Roast Potatoes

Rating: 8 out of 10
Vegetarian: No. 
Purchased: Sent for review, available at Asda and Tesco.
Price: £2.50.

21 Mar 2014

Review: M&S Toffee Fudge & Belgian Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

I'm always on the lookout for hot cross buns that don't contain raisins, as that's the only way to guarantee my husband and kids will eat them. The Double Chocolate Hot Cross Buns from Tesco were already a big hit with my family so I suspected that these gorgeous looking Toffee Fudge & Belgian Chocolate Hot Cross Buns would be a success too. 

These are hot cross buns made with toffee, Belgian dark chocolate and fudge pieces, enriched with butter and spices - and absolutely no raisins. I was slightly surprised by just how sticky these buns were on the outside. However, once cut and very lightly toasted, they seemed to lose some of their stickiness, but regardless, the flavour here is absolutely scrumptious. They have a lovely and buttery toffee taste running through them that is enhanced by the slightly soft fudge pieces. The dark chocolate chips are rich but not too intensely flavoured, and add plenty of extra sweetness. The toffee and chocolate flavours are joined by a warming, but lightly done, background of spices that still gives these the familiar flavour of a hot cross bun. I will definitely be picking up more of these buns to enjoy at Eastertime. 

Grocery Gems Verdict: M&S Toffee Fudge & Belgian Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition: 207 calories per bun.
Vegetarian: Suitable for vegetarians. 
Purchased: Marks & Spencer
Price: 2 packs (of 4 buns) for £2.50. Apologies I forgot to note down the individual pack price.

20 Mar 2014

Lidl Deluxe Coconut Spread

The elusive Coconut Spread from Lidl! I'm not sure when or where I first heard about this spread, but I knew it existed and had always hoped I'd be able to track it down. Luckily enough, last week I happened to spot the Coconut Spread in a Lidl promotional leaflet for this weeks offers (starting 20th March). There are lots of other fabulous products in the Deluxe range which are only available this week, so I'd advise a trip to Lidl pronto! 

Don't worry about the above photo, I'm not recommending eating this with a spoon. It's purely for illustrative purchases *ahem* to show just how thick and creamy this spread is. The main ingredients are; sugar, vegetable oil, skimmed milk powder, dried coconut flakes and some cocoa butter. So it's basically a thick white chocolate spread with coconut - now doesn't that sound like something you need in your cupboards? 

The flavour is completely gorgeous, so creamy and coconutty - just like the centre of a Ferrero Raffaelo. Think Kinder Bueno meets coconut - absolutely divine. Last week Hannah from The Review Addict reviewed the M&S Buttermilk Pikelets, and I thought that their pancake-crossed-with-a-crumpet flavour, would be the perfect base for the Coconut Spread. And it really was! I only needed a little of the spread to have an indulgent creamy coconut treat. Even my kids who are not fans of coconut, but love Ferrero Raffaelo chocolates, loved this spread on the pikelets. 

Now I just need to head back to Lidl to pick up a few more jars! I can imagine it will be great eaten straight from the jar with a spoon for using in baking and even as a cupcake topping. My end of year Grocery Gems Best of 2014 list will have a new category of "Best Spread" just so I can include this gem!

There were also other varieties available in this range; Toffee Spread, Mocha Spread, and a Chocolate & Hazelnut Spread with Hazelnut Pieces. I took a photo but my phone is not happy at the moment, will try to upload it a bit later so check back! 

Grocery Gems Verdict: Lidl Coconut Spread

Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition: No information.
Purchased: Lidl
Price: £1.29

19 Mar 2014

Crisp Review Megapost: Metcalfe's, Tyrrells & McCoys Ultimate

Metcalfe's Skinny Corn'ers: I'm a big fan of the Metcalfe's Skinny Topcorn range so I've been wanting to try their healthier version of tortilla crisps. I bought two quirkily named flavours; Chilli Tweet and Cheese Louise. There is also a flavour called Corn Off The Cob available but I haven't seen that one yet.

They had quite an unusual texture, not really similar to a tortilla crisps, they're more like a rice cake. They're still crunchy but have a slightly puffed feel at the same time. The Cheese Louise flavour has a medium cheddar type taste with a background onion and herby flavour. They're well flavoured and extremely moreish! 8 out of 10.

Tyrrell's Apple Crisps: These were included in last month's Degustabox (see review here). I'd been looking out for these crisps for some time now and was especially excited to try the Smashingly Cinnamony variety.

I don't think I've ever tried apple crisps before and I was surprised by just how sweet these are. After the initial crunch they become almost toffee like in consistency which is quite strange! They're unusual but tasty, and the cinnamon flavour is lovely. 7 out of 10.

McCoys Ultimate Sizzling BBQ Chicken: I picked this large sharing sized bag in Asda recently. There were a few other flavours available; Steak & Peri Peri Sauce, and Sea Salt & Black Pepper. 

These are described as Twice Flavoured but I was pleased to find that this did not mean that they were overly seasoned or too salty. Instead, the flavour seemed to be infused within the crisp aswell and not just sitting on top. These were meaty, but not particularly chickeny (apologies for that horrendous word), and had a subtle barbecue sauce type flavour. I liked the deep ridged shape and thickness of these crisps, they're very satisfying to eat. It has to be said that Mr. Grocery Gems especially was a fan of these. 8 out of 10.

If you've tried any of the crisps featured then feel free to add to these reviews by leaving a comment below!

18 Mar 2014

Review: New Carte Noire Espresso Collection - Nespresso Compatible Capsules

Before I owned a Nespresso machine Carte Noire was my favourite brand for instant coffee. I still keep a jar of their instant Espresso in my kitchen just in case, so I was quite excited to hear that they have launched their own Nespresso compatible capsules. I picked up a box of N.7 Espresso Aromatique from my local Waitrose at the weekend for £2.69* for 10 capsules. It's obviously slightly cheaper than Nespresso and it's certainly a lot more convenient to be able to pick up your coffee from a local supermarket rather than waiting for an online delivery.

The capsules are packaged in an individually sealed foil packet. I liked the gold and black colour scheme of the packaging and capsule itself. The capsules worked fine with my machine, although it's worth checking the Carte Noire website for compatibility with your machine.

The N.7 Aromatique is described as an aromatic Arabica coffee with hints of cocoa. I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this coffee. It has excellent strength and depth of flavour, whilst also being very smooth and easy to drink. Although I couldn't detect the cocoa notes, it does have the barest hint of sweetness as an end note, and despite the intensity of the coffee flavour there is no bitterness at all. 

The other editions in the collection are:

N.3 Elégant - Arabica with a a smooth and subtle taste enhanced by cereal notes.
N.5 Délicat - Arabica coffee with fruity notes and a silky texture.
N.9 Intense - Rich, intense blend of darkly roasted Arabica coffee.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Carte Noire Espresso Collection N.7 Aromatique

RATING: 8 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.

Purchased: Waitrose.
Price: £2.69p (box of 10 capsules).

*UPDATE: I've just seen these on offer in Tesco for only £2.00 a box, definitely worth a try at that price!

17 Mar 2014

Review: Our House Of Spice - Ground Spice Mixes

Hello all, hope you had a wonderful weekend and enjoyed some of this glorious weather! I practically spent the whole weekend in the garden, apart from taking some time out to cook up some lovely Indian food using Our House of Spice spice packets. Based in Cambridge and set up by sisters Nadia and Julia, Our House of Spice offers a range of frozen Indian Ready Meals and Spice Packets created from family recipes and methods passed down through generations. Their spice mixes are made with the highest quality spices and come with step-by-step instructions. Take a look at their range online: www.ourhouseofspice.com

I was sent two ground spices packet mixes, one for a Medium Masala Curry with a Tomato and Onion Sauce and a Raita Spiced Yogurt Dip. I've mentioned before on this blog that my husband is British Indian and I'm lucky enough that my mother-in-law has taught me some amazing authentic Indian recipes. I love making these meals from scratch but they can be quite time consuming, especially when freshly grinding the spices like my mother-in-law does, so I was more than happy to give these spice mixes a try! The recipes on the back are very simple to follow and really most of the hard work has been already been done for you, simply by having all the spices needed for the meal already prepared.

The Medium Masala Curry was really easy to make and simply needed a tin of chopped tomato, tomato puree, a chopped onion, and diced chicken breast (prawns, lamb or beef can be used instead). It was very simple to do and with very little effort created an extremely tasty and quite spicy curry.

I also made the Raita Spiced Yogurt Dip using potatoes (optional), cucumber and fresh coriander. Again, this is a very simple dish to put together using the spice packet. The spices are wonderfully fragrant and created quite a spicy base for a Raita, we all found the heat quite intense but in a good way.

I served the Masala Curry with some of the raita, basmati rice, naan bread, and some fresh coriander on top. The kids got an extra serving of plain yogurt stirred in to cool the flavours slightly. The results were fantastic! Everyone enjoyed this delicious feast, it was full of fresh spicy flavour and even my kids didn't leave a single scrap on their plates. I would recommend Our House of Spice for anyone who wants to recreate their favourite Indian dishes at home with half the effort and none of the stress!

Find Our House of Spice shop online here. Prices start from £2.50 for packet mixes which serve 4. They also have full meal kits with all the spices you need to create a whole curry night. Check out the The Review Addict where Hannah has tried out some of the other spice mixes here

Products sent for an honest review. 

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