Posts tagged review
Product roundup... big up the super smoothies!

It's quite rare that I do a review post, and when I do it is usually when I have come across great products that have inspired me at food and wellness shows, and so I have personally asked the brand for some samples to try, instead of the other way round! 

I have been to so many health, wellness and food shows this year and have eaten soooooo many samples!! But now as we are heading swiftly towards the end of the year, and I have no more shows on my agenda, I figured a review post could be a useful thing - with the spotlight on two healthy new and unique smoothie brands in particular!

First up Pack'd Frozen Smoothie Kits...

As taken from their website: 

"Cutting edge frozen Smoothie Kits, designed with nutritionists to bring out your best. Each PACK’D Kit contains a pouch of freshly frozen, whole fruits and vegetables plus a sachet of natural superfoods. Simply blend ingredients with a choice of liquid - coconut water, almond milk, juice or water - for the ultimate smoothie without the hassle."

I drink geen smoothies and blends pretty much every day, I personally don't feel the need to buy kits BUT I appreciate that many people do not have the same flexible lifestyle I have and don't necessarily want to buy a cupboard full of expensive 'superfood' products. 

In that respect I felt that these frozen blends ticked a few innovative boxes- whole frozen fruits and veggies as well as a sachet of 'booster' ingredients. The least amount of processing for the easiest smoothie blend. One downside for some would be space- you need to fit the pacs in your freezer- there are two servings in each pack.

So far I have tried the Detox and Defence blends. I tried both mixed only with water as I want to test the flavour in the purest form. The flavours were great in my opinion, the Detox blend does taste of 'green-ness' which might be too much for some, but I enjoyed it and you could easily make it sweeter with a touch of juice or coconut water.

My top tip- when you open the little 'superfood' sachet and pour the contents in, refill it with water and add then that too to make sure you get all the bits that might stick to the packaging- no wastage that way!

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Second up... Love Your Blender

As taken from their website:

"We combine superfoods, whole nuts, seeds and other tasty ingredients such as vanilla pod and rose petals. Over 90 per cent organic, 100 per cent vegan, and totally delicious! Simply add to fresh produce in your blender to super-charge your smoothies."

What I liked most about these little packets of goodness, when I found them at a food event, was the fact they contained whole foods as well as being very conveniently packaged. I also liked the label which offered suggestions to changed up the flavour to suit all tastebuds (I tried the creamy option with both). The offer another convenient way to portion up your power packed smoothie ingredients.

I did find these blends still had a slightly grainy texture even with my high powered blender, not a problem for me but something to bear in mind if you are a bit sensitive to texture. 

Note: neither of these blends offer you something you can't create for yourself with a little effort and a few ingredients BUT for many it's that little bit of effort too much to fit into a busy schedule and I feel that inspiring yet easy ways to get good nutrition is a good thing. :-)

 

I'd love to hear from you... what are your favourite new products of this year?  What would you like to see more of on the shelves?

Here's a little shout out to some of my other interesting favourites...

In particular (now that I have had a chance to try all of the items in the photo) Savvy Spreads chocolate and sesame spread, Teapigs Matcha tea drink, Pumpkin Tree oat and smoothie blends and Kind Bars.

Plus all the brands in my porridge ebook launch giveaway- there was a reason I asked to collaborate with them after all! :-) I highly recommend OMG Matcha Tea, Steenbergs Organic, Sweet Freedom & Choc Shot, Real Food Source... and last but not least Thrive Magazine.

On that final note Thrive Magazine are offering a special discount for Including Cake readers.... enter #CAKE at the checkout for a discount of £5 off a printed or digital subscription.

This was a haul from one single food show!!! (I then had to carry this lot across London and on the tube and train home!)

This was a haul from one single food show!!! (I then had to carry this lot across London and on the tube and train home!)


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Matcha lemon & blueberry chia pud!

Here is a recipe I've been meaning to post for a while but life too over and my brain got busy with other stuff (go check the coaching blog). But anyway, finally i'm here with this little beauty that makes for the perfect summer breakfast or chilled afternoon snack, or maybe even desert though you might not want to eat matcha to close to bedtime since it helps create an an energising zing!

You may remember I have previously tried out a few matcha recipes here. For someone who is not a typical green tea lover (I find it too bitter and tastes like straw if i'm honest, ha) I actually really enjoy matcha and this time was no exception, matcha it is a much milder, purer, smoother in flavour and the best bit is the fact it is the whole leaf ground into a powder and is packed full of antioxidants. 

I was generously gifted a sample of this lovely matcha powder from OMG Teas to get creative and share with you. This was also in collaboration with Thrive Magazine who, as you may know, I have the privileged to write for.

OMG Teas have also provided a few links to get you started with using matcha powder, here are some FAQs and a link to how to make the perfect classic matcha. There is also a reader discount at the bottom of this post. 

I also created a super simple banana matcha shake that I shared on Instagram a while back, matcha and banana is another beautiful combo, gives a sweetness to the matcha whilst not being overpowering.

A classic way to consume matcha is as a latte, but I fancied something different with this little pud, getting a boost of chia for a super charged breakfast pot! Prep ahead and chill overnight for a breakfast ready to go.  I really loved the combo of lemon and blueberry which complemented the matcha and made the flavours pop!

Recipe: Matcha lemon blueberry chia pud

Serves 1

 Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup nondairy milk of choice
  • ½ tsp matcha powder
  • ¼ tsp vanilla bean powder/paste
  • 1 tsp agave (or other syrup to taste)
  • 1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbs chia seeds
  • Topping - a handful blueberries and a sprinkling of lemon zest

Method:

Mix the pudding ingredients together in a small bowl and allow to sit overnight (or a few hours)

Spoon into a serving dish and add the blueberries and lemon zest to serve.

P.s Just for the record... as with every product review, I was gifted the sample BUT all thoughts, words and creativity is entirely my own :-)

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Big juicing news and review... plus Apple Pie in a glass!

Today I have a new recipe alongside some exciting news about a little project i’ve been involved with behind the scenes these last couple of weeks.

It’s all about juicing!!

Those who have been long time readers may know I go back and forth when it comes to my thoughts on juicing... 

Are smoothies or juices better?

Do we really need to cleanse or detox?

What about the fibre?

Are juices too high in sugar?

What about the ‘wasted’ pulp?

These thoughts have gone round and round in my mind for sometime. But when it comes down to it i’ll be honest with you….. I DO think there is a valid place for BOTH smoothies and juices depending on your bodies needs at a particular moment in time BUT for me it often comes down to practicality day to day. I have always found smoothies much easier to blend up and clean up. Plus I like bulk freezing smoothies in thick portions to defrost and dilute with water in the go. 

That’s it the cold hard truth… I’m a smoothie girl largely because I am lazy, ha ha!

So, when I was approached by Thrive Magazine (who I regularly write for) a few weeks ago asking if i’d be interesting in testing a new juicer, I was curious. Indeed, my initial questions in response to the original email were: 

Is it a slow juicer?   

Is it compact for a worktop?  

Is it very easy to clean? 

I knew that if it didn’t sit neatly on my worktop and wasn’t a quick clean it simply wouldn’t get used. I know this for a fact as for sometime I have had the privilege of using the super duper Tribest Green Star Elite twin gear cold press juicer… BUT (and it’s a big one) it doesn’t matter how amazing the juice produced is if the juicer simply sits unused in the garage most of the time. The best juicer is the one you actually use!  The fact that the Juico juicer is a slow juicer (as opposed to a centrifugal type which typically yields less juice and nutritional value) was of course a huge bonus!

The answers to my questions came back YES, YES, YES…. so I was in!

Here’s the details…. I was sent a Juico Uno juicer to trial thoroughly- producing recipes, photos and videos and a review (you are reading it!) and in return for my efforts I got to keep it! So just to be clear, by that I mean I was gifted this juicer in return for my time and efforts BUT please let me be clear that this review is absolutely my own words, thoughts and feelings throughout!

You can check out my mini video having a look around Juico Uno.

(P.s this is my first time making 'in action' videos in my kitchen so they might be a bit cringey, ha ha!)

The other reason I was keen to trial this juicer was that I am always getting asked by friends and clients for juicer recommendations and up until now I have never really been able to give any since I didn’t have personal experience of a high quality yet budget friendly juicer. The Tribest juicer I have used previously is undoubtedly fantastic, but is something I would consider more of a commercial machine or for those who juice constantly and dedicate a large part of their diet and lifestyle (and kitchen space) to juicing.

The Juico Uno juicer really is for everyone. 

At a price point of under £300 (currently much less as it's on sale as I write this post) it is incredibly good value for a cold press juicer. (This blog post by Kris Carr is useful to understand the differences between juicer types). Plus at around 15cm circumference and a height of around 45cm (it fits nicely on the work top under the upper cabinets) and the fact that it’s easy to clean is in a winner in all respects that were important to me.

Any negatives?

Not really- though it took me a while to figure out how to dismantle it. It's not hard but seemed quite stiff and needed a fair wriggle to take the main section off the base. (you can see all the parts in this video though I didn't take it apart there). The pulp is wetter that the very high end juicers, (but dryer than centrifugal juicers) but when you take price point into consideration this is not something I’d mark down as being a negative. 

Phew…. at last I can give a genuine recommendation. In fact there is a little discount code for you at the bottom of this post if you are at all interested.

So… will I continue to juice?  Absolutely, though probably not every single day as it's not part of my routine. I still like smoothies after all. :-)

Even if it was just for the ginger juicing alone it’s worth it’s value in my eyes. (video here on why I juice ginger- it was the first time I actually used the juicer and I got white excited!) 

I enjoy both smoothies and juices and feel they both have a place in a healthy wholefood diet. Juices are perfect for times when you want to give your digestive system a little rest or re-boot or simply for a change of texture. Whereas I drink green smoothies day to day as more of a light meal replacement or snack. 

As with smoothies, I tend to focus on packing in the veggies as much as I can to balance sugars. That said, this little recipe below gives a super sweet kick…. it’s like dessert in a glass! Yum

You can check out the video of the juicer in action creating this juice below...

(Stay tuned for another juicer recipe on the blog shortly….. it’s a quirky concept and if you are a juicing fan you definitely won’t want to miss it!)

Enjoy!

Recipe: Apple Pie Juice

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 fist sized sweet potatoes
  • 2 apples
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (to taste)

Method:

Wash the sweet potatoes and apples thoroughly but no need to peel or core (unless the sweet potato had very rough chunks to cut off). Cut all into the skinny pieces and juice them together.

Stir through the ground cinnamon into the jug of juice or pour juice into a glass and sprinkle the cinnamon over the foam on top.

I was gifted this juicer in return for my time and efforts BUT please let me be clear this review is absolutely ALL my own words, thoughts and feelings throughout!


Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here you might like to check out my 'About' tab up top. To buy healthy nibbles you can also find me over at my sister site Wholeplus. 

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

 

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‘Teatoxes’… what’s the deal?

Towards the end of last year I noticed a new craze seem to be hitting the realms of Instagram and  the internet throughout the world… ‘Teatoxes’. A style of detox in which you drink a herbal tea concoction to help eliminate bloating and aid weight loss etc. 

It seems pretty appealing to many since eating habits don’t change dramatically, you are simply adding in the tea (obviously healthy eating is recommended).  I can see the appeal this holds. Intrigued by the ever-growing 'before and after' photos showcasing ‘amazing’ results I wanted to give a Teatox a try for myself to understand from a personal point of view the pros and cons and also be in a more informed position to advise my clients who may have questions. For me it was not a case of seeking weight loss specifically, but I will say as someone who often has issues with bloating I was curious to see if this could help.

There are a couple of main manufacturers who supply to the UK. Bootea and Your Tea. There are also many other brands word wide (an maybe more in the UK that i;m not aware of).

I decided to opt for Your Tea since their teas DO NOT include herbs with laxative effects- such as senna (whereas Bootea does) more on that at the bottom of the post.

I first contacted Your Tea to ask if they would be willing to send me a 28-day Tiny Tea Teatox in return for a blog review… so now here you have it!

Note: The tea was kindly supplied to me by Your Tea following my email to them, but all words, opinions, photos and experiences are entirely my own. I had no other incentive to write this post other than curiosity and a desire to be better informed!


I think one of the reasons ‘teatoxes’ are so popular is because they seem a lot less scary than other forms of cleanse or detox. The idea of going on a juice cleanse or drinking copious amounts of green smoothies or only eating soups or shakes can be quite overwhelming and also restrictive and impractical in many people’s minds… Whereas the concept of a tea cleanse is ‘adding in’ and not ‘taking away’. This is much more in line with my own philosophy where ‘crowding out’ cravings and unhealthy foods is always my first point of call. I guess that’s why the general concept of a teatox felt more in tune with me, particularly as it's also another opportunity for people to add more liquid into their diet something which I find so many people still struggle with day to day.

Tea drinking is also something of a ritual, an act of mindfulness steeped in culture. I was actually excited about the opportunity to drink the three cups of tea each day as another reason to slow down and take time out for five minutes a few times each day. Regardless of the teatox… we should all do this a lot more!!

Ok, so let’s get down to it! 

What is a teatox?

Tea + detox = teatox. Essentially, it’s a 'supplement' that incorporates various teas/herbs designed to aid weight loss, boost energy, and cleanse the body.

Why I chose Your Tea?

As explained below, The Tiny Tea Teatox does not include Senna Leaf (Fan Xie Ye) in it's ingredients, this is a natural laxative that I wanted to avoid. I also liked the fact that the company is connected with nutritional expert Dr. Nat Kringoudis; who has a lot of sensible advice and a credible nutritional/herbal medicinal background..

Which product did I try?

I tried the Tiny Tea 28 day Teatox (you get 84 teabags per box to drink 3 times per day 30 minutes before each meal). There is also a 14 day version available as well as a gluten free version. They also have other products available such as 'Skin Magic' and 'Fertility Tea'.

What are the ingredients?

A blend of Chinese medicinal herbs: Jue Ming Zi, He Ye, Shan Zha, Lai Fu Zi, Chen Pi, Mai Ya. I researched these herbs in further detail and found that most of them are used to help relieve food stagnation. On other words, help push things along and get rid of 'sludge' and toxins that may not have found there way out of the body.

What does it taste like?

Like a strong 'herby tea'. It's quite a strong taste and the special blend of herbs aren't a flavour I can draw a similarity too to help describe. I may take a little getting used to for some but I actually really quite liked it (i don't like regular tea) and found it a pleasure to drink. I would say that had that not been the case I would have struggled to drink the three cups per day!

What did I experience?

Ok, I'll be honest. If you are waiting to hear me say... "I lost 7 pounds and gained a totally flat stomach" you'll be disappointed. I didn't actually experience much by way of side effects at all. I enjoyed the process, it made me more mindful and the notion of drinking the tea 30 mins before or after a meal meant that I snacked less which for me was a really good thing (I am a picker!). I didn't noticeably see any changes in bloating either. That said I certainly didn't experience any negative effects either.

I have a few suggestions for why this could be the case:

  • My diet is already very 'clean'. No sugars or inflammatory foods, plus I drink a lot of digestive herbal teas such as ginger and peppermint already on a daily basis.
  •  I think my bloating/digestion issues are predominately stress related and so tea drinking alone will not alleviate this (the mindfulness may help long term!).
  • In relation to the 'stagnation relief' of the herbs I researched, it seems this is more relevant to heavier foods more prone to stagnation such as animal products, which if course I don't consume, so in that case these herbs did not assist me a great deal. I could see in principle how someone with a typcially rich and heavier diet could potentially experience more significant benefit. 

My conclusion...

I'm undecided about the benefits of the Teatox. I like the idea in principle as a gentle way to cleanse the body, and the way it fits in with everyday life. BUT I don't think that everyone would experience the benefits of the 'before and after' photos as seen across Instagram. I think the effectiveness largely depends on the nature of your diet to start with and also any other ailments (physical or psychological) you may be dealing with.

That said, I do think the ritual of tea drinking and the benefit of increased fluid intake is a good thing. Therefore making up your own herbal tea blends, or drinking a digestive tea in including herbs such as peppermint, ginger and fennel could potentially be just as beneficial in many ways and is something I would recommend (I loooooove my fresh lemon and ginger in the mornings and peppermint tea leaves in the evening!)


...A few extra notes on types of Teatox (if you are still reading and haven't gone to sleep yet!)

It’s also important to make sure the products’ ingredients are safe. An ingredient of some concern found in many other teatox brands (not Your Tea) is senna leaf. This herb is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a nonprescription laxative used to treat constipation and to clear the bowel before a colonoscopy.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there’s insufficient evidence that senna promotes weight loss. But it does irritate the stomach lining to produce a laxative effect and can contribute to stomach discomfort, cramps, and diarrhea. Using it for more than two weeks (as you would following many teatox plans) is discouraged since it can cause abnormal bowel function or changes in electrolyte levels that can lead to heart problems, muscle weakness, liver damage, and other harmful effects. Since our bodies naturally cleanse and purify themselves by processing and eliminating them through sweat, urine, and faeces, using laxatives like senna if there’s no real medical could be deemed unnecessary. 

If you are interested to check out Your Tea for yourself you can find them HERE.

So, tell me...

Have you tried a 'Teatox'?

Would you try one? 

Do you drink your own herbal tea blends and feel any benefits?


Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here check out my 'About' and 'Getting Started' tabs up top. To buy nibbles you can also find me over at Wholeplus. 

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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Wholeplus... the 'Subscription box review'

I mentioned my Wholeplus journey in this post, but I wanted to celebrate a little more and a few weeks ago I had an idea. This Christmas period my Wholplus goodies were featured in four different subscription boxes and since I have four other family members I thought it would be a lovely surprise (and a little proud moment for me!) to wrap up a box from each to put under the tree to share with them on Christmas day!

Can you see the labels on the packages under the tree? …I labelled them 'surprise no. 1, 2, 3 and 4 ..ha ha! My family were very confused :-) We left these until the end and unwrapped them together.

I also felt it was ideal opportunity to review the boxes to show my appreciation for them having supported me on my journey and I in theirs. I have big things planned for 2015 and without the support of companies such as these, Wholeplus could never have been what is today. Seeing my goodies tagged on Instagram and around social media has brought such light to my life that I never could've anticipated this time last year!

Thank you,  thank you,  thank you!!

Please note: this is an objective review as I'm proud of all the companies I have worked with and wanted to show my appreciation for those I was involved with specifically over the Christmas period. They have supported me on my journey as I have supported them on theirs. Therefore this is not a 'which box did I like best' style review. Also note that not all box contents may be vegan.

P.s. the photos are not fantastic quality as I literally shot them the moment they had been opened on Christmas morning, before my family began opening packets and tucking into the goodies!!

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I'll review the boxes one by one, in alphabetical order just to make sure there is no hierarchy or favouritism. ;-) You can check out the links below their company name.... go and show the some love!

Life Box

Website, Facebook, Twitter

Prices from £12.95 - £21.95. There are five boxes to choose from and you buy either as a one of on on subscription (ladies, mens, junior, everyday and cleanse) Taken from the website: "Delivering current and wannabe “healthies” with the latest super health foods, clean eats and refreshments, providing a convenient and affordable way of discovering new and delicious wholefoods". There were so many goodies in this box! I was particularly excited to see maple 'Wahta' as i'd seen it on Instagram and was curious to try! (we also had a little sip). There is also a recipe card.

This box (the November edition) featured my Wholeplus Cinnamon Toppers.

Box contains:

  • Raw ecstasy activated chocolate walnuts
  • Rountons coffee sample sachet
  • Aronia berries pukka teas sachets 
  • Maple water
  • Emily fruit crisps
  • Raw bite coconut raw bar
  • Conscious organic chocolate bar
  • Wholeplus cinnamon Toppers
  • Pukka clean greens sachet
  • Apricots kernels 
  • Miso soup sachet
  • Lifebox amaranth trial bag
  • Lifebox digestions spice mix
  • Lifebox Chia seeds trial bag

Primal Snack Box

Website, Facebook, Twitter, 

Prices £19.99 for the meat-free version of £21.99 for the regular (inc. P&P) Taken from the website: "The uk’s first paleo snack box service, all of our snacks are free from grains, gluten, dairy and refined sugars". Lots of festive flavours and there was also lots of other raw style goodies... yummy and also good to check out my competition! :-)

This box featured my Wholeplus Choc-Orange Squares.  

Box contains:

  • Mulled Apple leather
  • Wholeplus Choc Orange slices
  • Cinnamon kale crisps
  • Figberry balls
  • Chocolate mulberries
  • Gingerbread bar
  • Cranberry chocolate
  • Rawbite cinnamon
  • Yummy scrummy
  • Fig and orange pudding bar
  • Apple crisps

The Vegan Kind

Website, Facebook, Twitter

£10 (plus £3.15 P&P) for the lifestyle box. TVK also have a quarterly vegan beauty box for £15 (plus £3.15 P&P).  One of the things I like about this box is that it features home products as well as foodies bits. I nabbed the toothpaste before the rest my family could get there hands on it! :-) There is also a recipe card with binder holes (you get a free binder with your fourth box- I think!)

This box featured my Wholeplus gingerbread Toppers.

Box contains:

  • Harpers bizarre jingle bells Christmas candle
  • Wholeplus gingerbread Toppers
  • Olive branch gluten-free sweet biscuits
  • Teatonics mind awakening yerba and laid-back botanical tea
  • Green people toothpaste

Vegan Tuck Box

Website, Facebook, Twitter

Prices- £8.50 for the mini (5-6 treats) or £19 for the classic (10-12 treats). They also offer a gluten free box option.  This was the special Christmas box and was most festive themed of them all... with lots of indulgent treats in festive shapes- snowman and holly leaves! There was also a recipe booklet with festive vegan alternatives for Christmas classics.

This box featured my Wholeplus gingerbread Squares.

Vegan Tuck Box have also generously offered a discount for my readers for 10% off all boxes during January (as I am to be featured in one of their January boxes also!)  Enter Wholeplus10 at the checkout for 10% off all of box options.

Box contains:

  • Mint chocolate holly leaves
  • Chocolate pralines
  • Wholeplus gingerbread squares
  • Milk chocolate star
  • Gluten-free white chocolate pretzels
  • White chocolate snowman
  • Viva vegan Christmas recipe booklet

 

Now it's over to you... have you tried any of these boxes... or maybe others?  Share with me in the comments your thoughts or where else you might like to see Wholeplus featured this coming year!

 

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here check out my 'About' and 'Getting Started' tabs up top. To buy nibbles you can also find me over at Wholeplus.  

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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