Saturday, 31 January 2015

Review: M&S Hot Cross Muffins

The M&S Hot Cross Muffin, a fab new product for Easter 2015, is  a cross between a hot cross bun and a muffin. There have been plenty of bakery hybrids in the past few years, such as the Duffin (a cross between a doughnut and a muffin), or more recently the Tesco Mince Pie Cookies, but I think these Hot Cross Muffins are my favourite by far. A big thank you to Frances who emailed me that she had spotted them instore this week. 

The Marks & Spencer Hot Cross Muffins are described as deliciously moist spiced muffins, with juicy Turkish sultanas, Greek Vostizza currants and citrus peel, hand decorated with a cross. Inside the muffins are indeed full of lovely plump raisins and currants. The flavour is delicious too, very reminiscent of a spiced hot cross bun, but as a much sweeter, cakey version. The hints of lemon and orange come through wonderfully too, giving these muffins a gorgeous fruity flavour. The texture of the muffin is not too greasy either, which is often the case with supermarket muffins. 

Overall, I thought the M&S Hot Cross Muffins were just perfection and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I would even say that I prefer them to actual hot cross buns or any regular muffins! 

Grocery Gems Verdict: M&S Hot Cross Muffins

RATING: 10 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes!
Nutrition: 254 calories per muffin.
Vegetarian: Suitable for Vegetarians.
Purchased: Marks & Spencer.
Price: 2 for £2.50p (four packs).

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Degustabox January: Surprise Foodie Box & Discount Code!

January's Degustabox arrived yesterday and it's fittingly called the "January Healthy Box". Thankfully it's still full of interesting products from a selection of different brands - clearly healthy doesn't have to mean boring. If you haven't seen my previous posts, Degustabox is monthly foodie subscription service that is guaranteed to be filled with a mix of foodie surprises from new and established brands.

Discount Code: MTAFQ 

Each Degustabox costs £12.99 a month, which includes delivery. There is no fixed contract involved and you can cancel at any time. Degustabox have kindly provided my readers with the following Discount Code for £3.00 off your next Degustabox, bringing the cost to £9.99 delivered. Simply enter the code - MTAFQ.

Here's a quick round up of all the products I received in the January Degustabox:

Alfa One Rice Bran Oil: A versatile cooking oil which is full of natural antioxidants such as Vitamin E. It also contains a naturally occurring plant sterol, Gamma Oryzanol, which has been shown to reduce cholesterol absorption. I like trying out different types of oils when cooking and I'm sure this will Rice Bran Oil be very useful in the kitchen.

Magners Light Orchard Berries: The premium Irish Cider brand has launched a new range of fruity flavours for its low calorie cider range; Magners Light. At 103 calories per bottle, Orchard Berries Light is the first new flavour to be released and is available at Tesco (in 4 x 330ml packs).

Sukrin Bread Mix: This is an interesting product - a Sunflower and Pumpkin Seed Bread Mix which is free from gluten, egg, sugar, wheat, yeast and soya. Each slice is made up of only 1% carb and has a great fibre content at 21%. I like the fact that is can be used as a base for other bread products such as pizza bases, burger buns and tortilla wraps. I'll  look forward to giving this easy to use bread mix a try!

Koko Dairy Free: This is already a product I buy quite often (I tend to go dairy free for cereal and coffee). Koko is an alternative to dairy milk made from freshly pressed coconut milk. It contains fewer calories than skimmed milk, and has 0% cholesterol. It also doesn't curdle in tea or coffee which is a real plus.

Little Miracles Organic Teas: Little Miracles is a blend of organic tea, juice, and ginseng drinks that are sweetened with agave. They are free from artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners. Degustabox have featured the Little Miracles range before and I really enjoyed the flavours I tried previously. There were two Little Miracles drinks included in the January Degustabox; a White Tea  with Cherry and a Black Tea with Peach.

Simplee Aloe: A blend of aloe vera and grape juice which is made used ethically sourced ingredients without any artificial colours or flavourings. Each 330ml "Grab & Go" carton has less calories than an apple. I've tried Aloe Vera drinks before and enjoyed them, but they've always been flavoured versions. It will be interesting to see how this "Simplee Aloe" drink compares. The range is available at Sainsbury's, Whole Foods Stores and Japan Centre.

Haywards Piccalilli: I have a confession to make: I've never tried Piccalilli before, which is strange, especially considering how much I like pickles (and mustard!). I can imagine this would have been great at Christmas time as an accompaniment to cold meats, but luckily it's also recommended for sandwiches, burgers and BBQs. Either way, I'm sure we will get plenty of use out of this Piccalilli and I'm already a fan of the Haywards range after trying their Hot & Spicy Pickled Onions recently.

Finn Crisp Original: Another product that I buy fairly regularly. The Finn Crisp Sourdough Rye Crispbreads have only 22 calories per slice and are made from wholegrain natural ingredients, making them rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and low in fat. 

Kabuto Noodles: I've always wanted to try the Kabuto Noodles range so I was delighted to find a pot in the Degustabox. Unlike other mainstream noodle pots, Kabuto Noodles are made with authentic Asian flavours and quality ingredients. It's described as a "fresh tasting noodle dish with miso, soy and vegetables". I'll update once I've tried it!

Mornflakes Top Porridge Pots: Nutella Porridge!! Without a doubt, the highlight of the Degustabox for me, are these individual porridge pots from Mornflakes. They are available with additional portions of sweet treats on top in either; Lyles Golden Syrup or Nutella. Yes, that's real NUTELLA. 

It's such a brilliant idea! I've honestly never added Nutella to porridge before but I'm more than happy to give it a go. These cute pots are available at Waitrose.

Clipper Green Tea: Included as a special free gift is a sample pack of 10 bags of Clipper Fairtrade Green Tea with Lemon. We're currently drinking a lot of green tea at home (and at work) so this will be very useful for us. 

Overall, I was pleased with the healthier selection in the January Degustabox. I'm sure there will be plenty of chocolates and savoury snacks in the future, but for now it's great to have some more balanced treats in the box. Once again, most of the products in this months box appeal to me and are ones that I would buy and use myself, especially the Mornflake Porridge, Kabuto Noodles, Haywards, and Little Miracles drinks.  

If you're a subscriber than I'd love to what you thought of the January Degustabox in the comments below.

For more details:
Degustabox website:
I received a Degustabox in order to provide an honest review.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Limited Edition Mars Hazelnut and Snickers & Hazelnut

As any Nutella fan knows all too well, hazelnuts and chocolate make the most perfect flavour combination. The idea of a Mars and Snickers bar with hazelnuts is such a simple one but sadly, these are not UK Limited Editions, they're actually from Poland*. Instead we've had the dull recent limited edition of "Mars Extra Choc" - that's a Mars bar with a slightly thicker layer of chocolate. The good news is that these Polish chocolate bars are both fairly easy to find in the UK.

Snickers & Hazelnut: As I'm sure everyone reading this will know, Snickers consists of a thick layer of peanuts within caramel, on top of a layer of nougat. The Snickers & Hazelnuts sees the introduction of hazelnuts within the caramel layer. The ingredients are all in Polish but as far as I can tell, this bar still includes "peanuts" in the ingredients list. The main fillings listed are: nougat (15%), caramel (27%), peanuts (17%) and hazelnuts (only 5.6%).

The chocolate itself looks great, with lots of hazelnuts and peanuts within the caramel layer. Unfortunately when it comes to the flavour it's a bit of a let down. The hazelnuts have quite a soft texture and not much in the way of real hazelnut flavour. Instead, I could predominantly taste the salted peanuts more than the hazelnuts themselves, which were largely flavourless. It's still a tasty chocolate, but it didn't have the hazelnutty flavour I was expecting.

Mars Hazelnut: The Limited Edition Mars Hazelnut (for any US readers the Mars bar in the UK is the same as the Milky Way in the US) differs from the above Snickers & Hazelnut by adding the nuts into the layer of nougat rather than the caramel. The main filling ingredients are nougat (20%), hazelnuts (14%) and caramel (27%). 

The hazelnuts are again quite soft, and it's a shame they're not crunchier, although they still add a little texture and interest to the nougat. As there are no peanuts to compete with the flavour, I could taste the hazelnuts a little more in this Mars edition, although it's still a fairly subtle taste overall. I probably shouldn't have mentioned Nutella at the start of this review as it's clear that neither of these chocolate bars can reach those levels of hazelnut perfection.

Despite that, these are still far more interesting than our recent UK Limited Editions so I don't mean to sound too negative. I still think these Hazelnut Limited Editions are worth a try if you spot them. If you've tried either of these bars then let us know what you thought of them in the comments below!

Grocery Gems Review: Mars Hazelnut and Snickers & Hazelnut

RATING: Mars Hazelnut - 7 out of 10, Snickers & Hazelnut - 6 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Probably.
Nutrition: Mars Hazelnut (47g)- 229 calories, Snickers & Hazelnut (49g) - 240 calories 
Purchased: Large newsagent.
Price: £0.69p each.

*The Snickers & Hazelnut has Mars Polska on the packaging and the ingredients are all in Polish. The Mars Hazelnut has less information but the languages on the back are German and Polish.

New Instore: Mars Extra Choc, Mars Hazelnut & More!

Maryland Soft Baked Cookies: Available in two varieties; Caramel & Choc Chunk and Double Choc Chunk. I wonder if Maryland have released these in response to the Chips Ahoy! UK release? They certainly look like an improvement on regular Maryland cookies and I'm sure I'll give them a try at some point. If you've tried them then please leave a comment as I'd love to know what you thought of them! £1.50p at Sainsbury's.

McVities Deli Choc Biscuits: I've seen these in quite a few different shops. They are biscuits made with a thick layer of Belgian milk chocolate in either white, milk or dark chocolate. £0.98p in Asda.

Limited Edition Mars Xtra Choc: I finally found the latest UK Mars release in my local newsagent. Here's my review → it's a Mars chocolate bar with slightly thicker chocolate *yawn*. THAT'S IT. £0.70p at local newsagents.

Limited Edition Mars Hazelnut & Snickers & Hazelnut:  These new Hazelnut editions for Mars and Snickers look FAR more interesting. They're actually from Poland but they seem to be easy to find in UK shops. Thanks to Richard W. for spotting these in a train station shop. Check back later today for my review. £0.69p each in large newsagent.

Cadbury Dairy Milk Hoppy Bunny: The lastest Limited Edition Cadbury Dairy Milk sees the return of the Hoppy Bunny. It's a similar to the Cadbury Dairy Milk Winter Wonderland, with it's simply milk and white chocolate combination, but I still think it's a cute chocolate bar for Easter. £1.00p at Sainsbury's.

Müller Corner Hawaiian Dream Pineapple: I mentioned these before in a previous round up, but it's the first time I've seen them instore. I'll have a review soon. £0.70p at Sainsbury's.

Milka Corn & Choco Forever: I couldn't resist picking up this crazy combination of corn nachos and chocolate from Poland. Review coming soon! £0.99p at an "international grocery store".

Don't forget if you spot any new products in store please let me know via email - or Twitter etc. Thank you!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Quick Review: Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddo Sprinkles

Cadbury have added a new Dairy Milk Freddo Sprinkles to their Easter range for 2014 (but don't worry Freddo is still made of real Dairy Milk chocolate!). I found them in Sainsbury's at 5 for £1.00.

For some reason I imagined the chocolate would have the sprinkles on top (and look really cute!), but actually the sprinkles are all within the chocolate, which means they are not very noticeable from the outside. There are plenty of sprinkles mixed into the Freddo shaped bar, adding a crunchy texture to the chocolate which is quite fun. In terms of flavour, they are just pure sugar, so the end result is an extra sweet and sugary chocolate. Overall, I prefer them to the previous Freddo Popping Candy, and I'm sure the new Freddo Sprinkles will be very popular with kids at Easter!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddo Sprinkles

RATING: 7 out of 10
Buy them again?: Yes (I'm sure I'll buy a few for Easter).
Purchased: Sainsburys.
Price: 5 for £1.00.
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