I'm normally quite good junk-wise but I am weak for crisps or savoury snacks. WEAK! Once I pop I really can't stop, so to my husband's dismay, I have a household ban on snacks (I won't tell you what he calls me - terribly politically incorrect). I have seen these Yushoi packs on sale but any "healthier" crisp alternative pretty much tend to be a disappointment. However these, made with about 70% of green peas (yes really), are rather delicious. They are a puffed stick and don't taste too much of peas really. The seasoning choices - Sweet Chilli and Lemon, Salted and Soy and Balsamic Vinegar were very nicely balanced. I'd 100% buy these again.
Jim Jams Chocolate Spreads - jimjams-spreads.co.uk
Who doesn't like Nutella right? So naughty though. Whichever way you look at it, the ingredient breakdown is pretty scary, essentially sugar and palm oil. So being the Mama Killjoy I am, I think my kid has had it a couple of times in his 4 years on Earth.
But what do we have here? A jar of chocolate spread with a great fat 83% less sugar flash on the jar front. So, lets analyse the ingredients. Number one - Maltitol. Sounds like a foot fungus treatment so not off on the right er, foot. I started to look into it but science hurts my head and I don't think food should be difficult to understand. It is, unsurprisingly an artificially produced sweetener. Yes, it is kinder on teeth, less calories than sugar and possibly not that bad for you (other than a laxative effect) but I don't know. Processed foods scare me and I'd rather steer my kids free of them full stop. Both Nutella and Jim Jams Spread contain "sustainable palm oil" and the natural emulsifier lecithin.
Taste-wise the Hazelnut Chocolate Spread version is pretty close to Nutella, maybe less of that rich roasted nut taste but impressive and very enjoyable. If you did want an alternative then this would be a good place to start, but in my book, if you were bothered about sugars, then just do without chocolate spread on a regular basis.
Heartsease Farm Drinks radnorhills.co.uk
This is a difficult one. People are either in the fizzy drink camp or not. Aside from the odd San Pelligrino on a blistering hot day, I'm a wine, tea or water gal. The Heartsease Farm range is in the premium soft drink category that wouldn't look out of place in a farm shop or Waitrose. I actually loved the fresh elderflower presse, ginger beer and the unusual edge of rhubarb and apple drinks, but being sensitive to heavily carbonated and sugar rich drinks, they are probably not for me. But if you like a sweet soft drink in the sun, the range is brilliant and worth taking a look at.
Ross & Ross BBQ range - rossandrossfood.co.uk
I was very impressed with all the products from Ross & Ross who hand make British food gifts and I was sent a selection from their BBQ range. The Jerk chicken rub was incredibly fragrant and turned a quick mid-week meal into something really delicious, having the ideal amount of heat and spice. The Smoked salt with garlic and charcoal was really unusual but again, just added an extra dimension to food. I've had smoked rapeseed oil in the past and am already a huge fan and this firey chilli one is great with meats or made into a dressing - I added some to a yoghurt, garlic and spring onion base and made a potato salad.
They sell gift hampers which would be perfect for any keen cook but try and grab these BBQ products whilst the British summer is still hanging around.
The Organic Protein Company - organicproteincompany.com
To be honest, this organic whey protein scared the bjezus out of me when it arrived. Isn't this stuff for body builders? A good thing was that the beautifully designed packaging was more foodie than typical so more approachable, with no skinny people in swimwear or overly health food supplement driven. And it turns out that lots of protein powders have a ton of other ingredients added to them, not all of them good. This one is pure as it gets.
I have been working out actually (thanks for noticing) so after a bit of a read, I started introducing post-workout protein shakes and even breakfast alternatives. I loved this coffee, almond milk and frozen banana shake which sustained me through school uniform shopping which all parents know, is no mean feat (gin also helps). Also a banana, hazelnut milk, spinach shake tastes far better than it should. If you have a sweet tooth you will need to craft the use of this a little more but now I've grasped it's usage, I'll be cooking with it in pancakes and oat bars. It's all about the protein these days so an easy and organic way of introducing it to your diet. Plus Brighton based business - extra points!
Merangz by Flower & White - flowerandwhite.co.uk
You can't beat meringues to knock up a last-minute dessert. Throw in some berries, ice cream, creme fraiche or yogurt...whatever you have to hand and you have a beautiful summer masterpiece. Often supermarket versions are pretty dry, dusty and dull but these were much better. You can get the range in quite a variety. The huge raspberry and white chocolate versions were impressive in themselves although I would have liked a little more chew. The selection of mini flavoured meringues were very attractive, with swirls of vibrant colour and unusual favours. And the basic ones make a very versatile store cupboard hero.
PERK!ER Quinoa Bars - perkier.co.uk
I always struggle with on-the-go food but these could be a good option. I've yet to see a quinoa based bar on the market and these PERK!ER ones tick every on-trend ingredient in the book. But they were really quite enjoyable, packed full of decent stuff and vegan, gluten and dairy free. My favourite was the Coconut and Chia bar, as I love the chew and crunch of seeds, nuts and dates. There is a good flavour range like Goji & Cranberry or Cashew, Chia & Pumpkin Seed. I also like how fun and attractive they are as they can often look too health food store. If your kids are old enough to eat nuts and seeds safely, then they could be a decent option for them too as a treat (the bars got a thumbs up from junior Foodie here!).
Suki Tea - suki-tea.com
We've done coffee and this year has certainly been about the tea. Based in Belfast, Suki Tea is still run by a small team who ethically source and blend loose leaf teas, herbal infusions and fruit blends. You can purchase single blends and gift sets or if you want to discover more tea varieties, you can opt for their subscription service where you are sent four teas to try a month. I'm still trying to find my love for green tea so the steamed Sencha I'm sure was excellent quality, just lost on me. The Apple Loves Mint tea tasted like a unicorn had peed in the cup - too sweet, too much. More to my taste was the elegant White Tea Elderflower and the everyday Belfast Brew - try a proper cup of whole leaf black tea an you'll never reach for those dusty tea bags again. The brewing advice was handy but they could also add if it is appropriate to add milk or not. The packaging and illustration style is beautiful and would make ideal gifting for that tea lover in your life.
Hodmedod's British Pulses - hodmedods.co.uk
We are eating a bit more healthily and consciously in general and these products from Hodmedod's are really handy wholesome store cupboard heros. They work with British farmers to support and develop a fair and sustainable supply of pulses and grains which is a huge bonus. I tend to use these heavily in mid-week cooking and have tried various brands, and these were certainly up there in terms of quality. I replaced chickpeas in a vegetarian stew with the Carlin Peas, that had a lot more flavour and a firmer texture. The kids, including the 15 month old, loved this for dinner! An end of day wine was the perfect time to try the roasted fava beans. These were delicious to snack on for a change and come in a selection of flavours. With free delivery over £30, they are definitely worth looking up to stock up your supplies with. I'd love to try their baked fava beans or experiment with more of the unusual flour varieties.
I received these products for review. Words and thoughts, as always are my own.