Teapigs Giveaway!

Hey I am so excited about this giveaway! You guys know that after I was sent some Teapigs tea to try, I have fallen in love with their teas. After drinking all the trial packs, I swiftly ordered some more (including chocolate flake tea to try). My faves are the chai (obviously) the caramel rooibos and the spinced winter red tea.

Teapigs are offering UK residents the chance to win some special wintery teas (chai, spiced winter and chocolate flake)- perfect to warm you up after a run/ walk in the cold winter air. Now, what goes perfectly with a warm cup of tea? Well, that is the question indeed. You all know I am a fan of baking, and baking goes perfectly with tea, so (we have to have some kind of fun competition) I would love to know your favourite recipe to go with a cup of tea in the winter.

The way to enter the competition is simple; use the comment section of this post to either post your recipe directly, or leave a link to where the recipe is (e.g. on your blog). I am looking for winter/ Christmas themed baking, and it has to go nicely with a cup of tea. Entries close at midnight on Sunday 14th November and the winner will be chosen soon after! So have fun getting creative in the kitchen!

If you are unlucky and do not win, do not fear because Teapigs now make Piglets (how cute is that?)- which are little trial 2 packs of tea. Perfect if you fancy trying a new flavour (or perfect as a stocking filler perhaps??). Plus ordering piglets sounds so cute!

Half term is here!

Hooray!

After a fun training day yesterday, I am officially on half term! It has been very busy at work so I am looking forward to recharging my batteries and catching up with friends etc.

I got home and had a mango mule bar

(Like my chocolate nail varnish?)- it was super tasty, very mango-ey. Mmm. I have made a little review page here for all the mule bars I have tried so far.

Then I went on a short run. My legs were not too bad from body pump, so I decided to try and do a short fast paced one, and managed to do 3.4 miles in 32 mins- according to the Nike+ my average page was 9.30 per mile, so not bad. By the end my legs were sore though! They feel fine today.

Then, when I got home, I had a package delivered;

Look at all the different flavours;

Ages ago I emailed Clif bars to say how much I loved them, and how I wished they did a bigger range of flavours in the UK. They emailed back to explain that it took a while to source ingredients, sort packaging and things, and then said they would send me some american ones. So so kind of them!

The flavours I have to try are cranberry apple cherry, black cherry almond, peanut toffee buzz, chocolate almond fudge and oatmeal raisin walnut. By the way, look at the size of them compared to the UK ones;

Baby UK oatmeal, between daddy peanut and mummy chocolate from the US!

OK, I have pottered about enough, time for my long run- later guys!

Nutty about nut butters!

I have always been a fan of peanut butter- still love it in sandwiches, wraps, baking, spread on an apple….

But over the last few years I have branched out and tried all different types of nut butters, so here are a few that I have tried:

Carley’s Organic Rainforest Nut Butter

I found this in my health food shop, but I have seen it online (possible at planet organic). It is made from (organic) brazils, cashews and macadamias, with no added salt or oil or anything. It does not look that appetising- it is quite pale in colour, but it has a lovely subtle, creamy taste. I like the jar because as well as the usual calories and fat it also lists the amount of omega 9 (3.9g) and omega 6 (2.3) oils, calcium (18.1mg), zinc (0.6mg) and selenium (184 micrograms) in a 15g serving. Useful info indeed. And seriously, this stuff is delicious!!!

10/10 cherries

Meridian Almond Butter

This is made of roasted almonds (99.5%) and salt (0.5%), no added oil or anything else. This is very “bitty”- you can see the tiny pieces of almond in it, but is is also quite runny and easy to spread. I think it goes really well on wholemeal toast, or spread on an apple. It is not my favourite flavour, but it is delicious. The oil seperates out quite easily but it does mix back in.

8/10 cherries

Meridian Hazelnut Butter

This stuff is amazing! It is quite thick and hard to spread, but it tastes so good. Hazelnuts go so well with sweet things, and this is no exception.

9/10 cherries

Meridian Cashew Butter

I first got this in Sainbury’s but since then I have only seen almond butter in their stores. It is in Holland and Barrett, other health food shops and online so easy enough to get hold of.

It is really thick and quite hard to spread thinly, so I always end up with a blob of it instead of a smooth spread. But it tastes amazing, very creamy (as raw cashew nuts do). If it was easier to spread it would be perfect.

9/10 cherries

Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams

This is a treat for sure! It is made up of peanuts, cane juice, cocoa powder and butter, oil, vanilla and salt, so not as pure as the other nut butters. I waa glad when I checked their website that their palm oil is from sustainable plantations, as I am trying to make sure I am thinking about making ethical food choices. I got it from www.americansweets.co.uk along with some pumpkin puree and a few other bits. It is lovely- chocolate and peanut butter are such a good combo- I have had it in a pitta bread with some sliced banana and that was so good. It would also be amazing on ice cream! I am making the jar last as long as possible! It is very runny so you don’t need much to spread around.

I may attempt at making my own once it has run out as it was expensive to order and probably I could add some cocoa powder and maybe agave (to make it more runny) to some smooth PB.

10/10 cherries

Whole Earth Smooth Original Peanut Butter with no added sugar

This only has peanuts, palm oil (from RSPO member) and salt as ingredients.

I wish it didnt have the salt though. I find the crunchy whole earth really salty, but this is not as bad. It is smooth, but you can see little flecks of dark in it (like when you have vanilla ice cream with bits of pod in it)- shows it is made from real peanuts. It is much less oily than some other brands, nice and thick for a smooth spread.

9/10 cherries (it would get 10/10 if it was free from salt)

Whole Earth Crunchy Hazelnut Chocolate Spread

Nutella has nothing on this!  Imagine Nutella, but with lovely chunks of hazelnut throughout and you end up with this! Again not the healthiest, but lovely for a treat, plus the palm oil at least is more ethical.

9/10 cherries

Meridian Crunchy Peanut Butter

This is very chunky indeed- the chunkiest ever peanut butter! It is very thick- the oil seperates out naturally and can be stirred back in, and I find it quite hard to spread on toast or bread. I tend to use this if I am baking because it adds a lovely chunky texture to cookies. Real peanut flavour too. I like that is has no sugar and no added salt (again why it is good in sweet things).

9/10 cherries

Delicious drinks

 

Vita Coco Coconut Water
This has 20 cals and 4g carbs per 100 ml and has more potassium than sports drinks, so it is a good drink for after exercise to stop dehydration. The water does have a faint hint of flavour, slightly sweet, but does not really taste of coconuts. Once it has been in the fridge it is very refreshing. I get it from Holland and Barrett but I have seen it online from a few places too. I really think it is lovely as a post-run drink.
8/10 cherries

Vita Coco Coconut water with Mango and Peach:
This has 25 calories per 100ml, and is made of coconut water with mango and peach juice/ puree. It is so delicious and refreshing, the mango and peach flavours come through and make it much more fruity and flavoursome. Perfect for a hot day or after a run.
10/10 cherries.

Vita Coco Coconut water with Pineapple:
To see it being used in a smoothie look here
This is made up of coconut water with pineapple and coconut puree, and some vit c (probably for a natural preservative). It has 25 cals per 100ml, with 6g carbs, and 15mg calcium among other things. This is much nicer than the plain coconut water(it has more flavour), but not as good at the coconut water with mango. I prefer to use it in smoothies now as oppose to having it on its own.
9/10 cherries

Innocent Lemon, Honey and Ginger Smoothie
Refreshing, not too sweet, nice warming kick with the ginger.
Plus you get some seeds for the bees so what’s not to love?

Whitards Spice Imperial Loose Leaf Tea

I am a big fan of tea, but normally have (fairtrade) sainsbury’s black tea. I have tried a few herbal teas, and rooibos tea, but am not keen. I recently discovered chai tea (black tea with spices like cardamon and cinnamon) and saw this in Whitards last week. It is black tea with orange, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves, and it is gorgeous, it smells like christmas and tastes amazing.

10/10 cherries

My fave snacks

I have been asked by a few companies to review some of their products (for free), which I have done. As I tend to eat them during the day all the reviews have gone in the normal blog section, and they have got a bit lost. So here is a concise version of all the reviews so far (plus some stuff that I just LOVE and want to share!). I will keep on adding to this as I try more so check back! I am going to introduce a rating system; a scale of one to ten cherries, ten being the best (as cherries look fab on the top of cupcakes).

Trek Peanut and Oat:
See a photo here

These are so tasty. The bars are made of more ingredients than the Nak’d bars, (dates, raisins, oats, peanuts, soya crispies, peanut butter, apple juice, maize starch, ginkgo biloba and ginseng extract) but still a much better list than most cereal bars. Each bar is 68g, with 239 calories, 11g protein (super filling) and 33g carbs (good for before a workout). Good for a vegetarian (with the protein) and have just read on the pack that they are vegan also. The bar is dense but moist, tasty and filling, and totally delicious! I do love anything peanut butter flavoured and these bars live up to that expectation.
All in all they get ten out of ten cherries.

Trek Cocoa Brownie:
See a photo here
One word; yum! It is similar to the Nak’d cocoa bars but I think it seems more dense. With 11g protein it seems a good choice for veggies, and the soya crispies give it a bit of a different texture. The chocolate/ cocoa flavour is quite strong so chocoaholics need not be disappointed, It does have a similar texture to a brownie that has been baked longer (e.g. more cake like than gooey). Very good though.
All in all it gets 9 out of 10 cherries.

Trek Mixed Berry:
To see a picture look here
The bar has a good short list of ingredients; dates, oats, soya crispies (soya, tapioca starch, salt), raisins, apple juice, maize starch, raspberries, strawberries, ginkgo biloba extract, ginseng extract, natural flavours. The bar is 68g and had 204 calories, 11g protein and 38g carbs, so a good balance of nutrients. The bar is fairly moist but not squidgy, and has a nice berry flavour that is quite sweet. You can see little flecks of the strawberries and raspberries all through the bar. Compared to a flapjack it has way less fat but still moist (due to the dates I suppose). I definitely recommend you to try one if you haven’t already, especially if you have a sweet tooth.
For me it gets 8 out of 10 cherries.

Trek flapjacks- Oat crunch and Cherry crunch
Picture in the wrapper here
Ten grams of protein in a very tasty flapjack bar, the cherry crunch has Nak’d cherry raisins in it and had a strong cherry flavour. The bar had 240ish calories so much lower than a “normal” flapjack and way tastier (in my opinion). My boyfriend had the Oat Crunch Trek Flapjack and this also received thumbs up on taste. I always used to think that a flapjack was a healthy option (due to the oats) and it was only a few years ago (when I started reading labels) that I realised just how syrupy and fatty some of them are. A Blackfriars Cherry and Coconut flapjack has 441 cals and 20g fat per 100g. The original one has 457 cals and 21g fat (I chose these are they are similar flavours to the Trek ones, but some of the ones I looked at have 24g per 100g, and the bars are a pretty hefty size), and apparently these have won a Healthy Magazine Readers Choice award (that’s the Holland and Barrett magazine). I imagine that was for flavour possibly and not because it is a healthy option, but the trouble is things like this are marketed as healthy.
Anyway after that tangent I would say that for me the cherry crunch gets 9 out of ten cherries, and the oat crunch gets 8 out of ten cherries.

Nak’d Gluten Free Gingerbread:

See a photo here
Made of dates, almonds, pecans, ginger, cloves and cinnamon it smells so good, like the Disney Christmas shop. It is soft and dense and chewy and delicious……
I love the fact that the Nak’d bars have such a short list, no added salt of sweeteners or syrups or anything. The oat bars can seem drier, but the gluten free ones are so moist as they have more nuts. This bar is heaven. Fact. The spices make it so delicious, the texture is amazing. If I could I would rate this 20 out of 10 but that doesn’t make sense so it gets 10/10 cherries- top marks! More like this please Nak’d!

Nak’d Cashew cookie (gluten free):
This is made from cashew nuts and dates, so it is quite creamy in taste due to the nuts. If you love cashews you will probably love this. However they are not my favourite nut, and I prefer the bars with added spices. The whole bar has 143 calories and 4g protein so it is a much better choice than a couple of biscuits. Plus the dates in it count as a fruit portion.
So for me it gets 7/10 cherries.

Nak’d Cocoa Orange (Gluten free):
These are amazing! Dates, raisins, cashews and cocoa and mooshed together into one wonderful bar of chocolaty soft chewy yumminess. Each bar is 131 calories and tastes like a bar of chocolate orange, only with a proper brownie chewy texture. Yum Yum!
10 out of 10 cherries!

Nak’d Gluten Free Pecan Pie;
These are made of dates, pecans and almonds, so another good short ingredient list. The pecan flavour does come through, and the texture is moist like the other gluten-free bars. The bar is 156 calories, and it is filling due to the fibre and good fat content. I think it could be improved with some cinnamon, or mixed spice to make it more like a pecan pie.
8 out of 10 cherries.

Nak’d Cherry Raisins:
They are super tasty; the cherry flavour is pretty strong, more like cherry sweets than actual cherries. As they are made with raisins and natural flavours they are way better than sweets. I often have a pack with me when I am on a long run for a burst of sugar (instead of jelly beans). As they are sugary (natural sugar) I don’t think they would keep you going for as long as one of the bars with nuts in, but for a burst of energy they are fab.
9/10 cherries

Nak’d Lemon Raisins:
These taste like lemon and raisin pancakes; bright and refreshing. I prefer some of the other flavours but they are tasty.
8/10 cherries.

Nak’d Pineapple Raisins:
These are tasty too, they do taste of pineapple, not quite like dried pineapple and are a welcome refreshing taste.
8/10 cherries

Nak’d Orange Raisins:
Picture here
They are basically raisins infused with orange flavour, so they are like sweets! The pack was 75 cals so not bad for a bit of sugar for pre-run energy. They tasted really like orange ice lollies; quite a strong orangey flavour but tasty.
8/10 cherries

Nak’d Berry Cheeky Bar:
It is made of dates, oats, raisins, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, apple juice, raspberries and strawberries all “smooshed” together. It tastes sweet, but not overpowering, and I think that the addition of nuts means it isn’t giving your blood sugar levels a massive spike due to the dried fruit. It comes in small 30g bars (around 100 cals) or larger 68g bars (220 cals). I prefer the small size as the larger ones get a bit sweet towards the end, but they are very filling and a great afternoon snack to get you through to dinner.
8/10 cherries

Nak’d Cocoa Loco
The 30g ones are the perfect size for a nibble, plus because they have oats in them (I do love oats) they are filling and give you longer lasting energy. They are made of Dates, Oats, Mixed Nuts, Raisins, Apple Juice, Cocoa and Natural Flavourings. They also come in larger 68g bars, but I think that the 30g size (100 cals) is perfect for a snack.
8/10 cherries

Nak’d Apple Pie bar:
It tastes like a cross between fresh apple juice and dried apple slices with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled in. They are a similar texture to the other bars; nice and soft, like a soft baked cookie or something. The 68g bar has 221 cals and 4.6g protein per bar, not bad for a snack (again also comes in smaller 30g bars). Thumbs up for top running fuel!
9/10 cherries (my fave normal Nak’d flavour due to the cinnamon and the fresh apple taste).

9 Bar Original:
Picture here
It’s made up of different seeds (some sugar and oil to combine) and then coated in carob (which tastes like chocolate). It was very tasty, the seeds made it nice and chewy. I think the bar was around 280 calories, and was a lot more enjoyable than eating a pile of seeds!
8/10 cherries

9 Bar Nutty:
See a photo here
It is really tasty; I prefer it to the other 9bars. It is a lot more chewy- it seems to be held together better. It also tastes lovely and nutty (duh)- it has cashews, pistachios, almonds and hazelnuts as well as sunflower and hemp seeds. It does have some added sugar and vegetable oil, but generally it seems a better choice than other bars (e.g. Eat Natural Bars that are full of high GI rice and sugar syrups and things). It does have 279 calories, 7.7g protein, 16g carbs and 20g fat (mostly good fats) per bar. It is so filling I think I could probably eat half of it for a snack and it would enough.
9/10 cherries

9 Bar Flax:
See a picture here
It was nice- the carob topping tastes like chocolate and there is a nice mix of seeds. I think the nutty one was nicer than this one, but still filling and tasty with all those seeds.
7/10 cherries

9 Bar Pumpkin:
For a picture look here
It has not got carob on top, and I was more apprehensive, but actually it was really tasty. The honey flavour (honey and a little vegetable oil holds the seeds together) came through much more, whereas with the carob ones it just tastes sweet. The pumpkin seeds were lovely (they make up 20% of the bar).
8/10 cherries

9 Bar Organic:
For a picture look here
This bar was also chewy, the carob topping was tasty (I cant tell it apart from chocolate) and the seeds make it a much better choice than a chocolate bar. Like all the 9 bars it is higher in calories than some other snacks, but the majority of the bar is healthy ingredients so it has more benefits than drawbacks.
8/10 cherries

Meridian Organic Peanut Butter and Oat Bar
Look here
If you have had meridian peanut butter then you would recognise the texture- its very chunky with real lumps of peanut in it (their PB is just peanuts ground up, no oil or anything so it’s quite thick). It is made from organic peanut butter, organic oats, organic honey and organic molasses and was filling and tasty, and although you could taste the molasses it wasn’t too overpowering. It is 204 cals for a 50g bar,6.3g protein, 25g carbs, plus the packet lists each bar has 11% RDA iron, 24% magnesium and 19% vitamin E (plus some healthy fats in there too). Yum.
It is a drier texture than the Trek bar (no dates) but still nice and chewy and satisfying.
9/10 cherries

Seed Stacked Flapjack

The ingredients are honey, oats, seeds, nutmeg and vanilla extract. No oil or anything else to bind it together. In a 50g bar you get just under 200 calories, nearly 6g protein, 5g fibre and about 28g carbs. Pretty good stuff, not to mention all the goodness from the seeds. It tasted lovely too- you could taste the nutmeg, it gave it a nice spicy hint. The texture was lovely, not too seedy, nice and chewy. Altogether fab and may in fact replace 9bar as my fave seedy snack.

10/10 cherries for me.

Seed stacked yoghurt topped flapjack

This has the same ingredients as the plain bar, plus the yoghurt topping, which although contains sugar and vegetable oil, also contains actual yoghurt. The flavour was similar to the plain bar, and although I could taste the topping it wasn’t a strong flavour. I prefer the plain one, but then I would not normally choose a yoghurt topped bar anyway. It was nice to try though. The bar has a few more calories than the plain one (down to the topping again) but for 214 cals it is pretty filling and good for on the go snacking too.

8/10 cherries (as I am not keen on any yoghurt topping)

Seed Stacked Carob topped bar

This is as tasty as the plain seed stacked bar, with the addition of carob, which I always think tastes the same as chocolate. Yum. You can still taste the nutmeg, and the seeds give it such a lovely texture.

10/10 cherries for this one too

Bear Granola nibbles- cocoa cherry pie

The ingredients are oats, maize, cherry pieces, coconut, cocoa beans, apple, grape and carob extract. Each bag is 99 cals and I love to have half sprinkled on some yoghurt (or a chocolate soya pot- divine). The cherry pieces are so delicious and chewy.

10/10 cherries

Bear Granola Nibbles- Apple crumble

Simple ingredients- oats, maize, baked apple pieces, coconut, cinnamon, apple, grape and carob extract. Again 98 cals for the bag, the cinnamon flavour is so good with the apple, and the apple pieces are delish!

9.5/10 cherries (before I do slightly prefer the cherry flavour, but these are scrummy too).

Clif bars- Oatmeal, raisin and walnut

These are soooooo good! They taste like an oatmeal raisin cookie, and the texture is lovely and soft.  The bar is quite small, although it is 50g, but it is very filling. It has under 200 calories, around 7.5g protein and 31g carbs per bar. It also has added vitamins so is a good energising bar.

10/10 cherries

Clif bar- Crunchy peanut butter

This again is nice and filling, and it has a good peanut flavour. I preferred the oatmeal one, but this one is still pretty tasty.  Again it looks small but is very filling.

9/10 cherries