Monday, 1 September 2014

Degustabox August - Surprise Foodie Box & Discount Code


The August Degustabox arrived a few days ago, and as it's the summer holiday, the whole family was at home when I opened up the box - it's funny how eager we all were to take a peek inside! This month's box includes an interesting mix of some of Degustabox's favourite brands; Lindt, Dr. Oetker, and Schwartz, aswell as a few new brands and drinks. This Degustabox also sees the first Degustabox Fridge envelope which contains a voucher for a fresh grocery product.

About Degustabox & Discount Code: 6LB9N

Degustabox is a monthly subscription service that sends out a large parcel filled with a surprise selection of full sized grocery products. The service originally began in Spain (the name comes from "degusta" which means to try or to taste) and was then launched in the UK and Germany. I've been receiving boxes for a few months now and you can check back on my previous Degustabox posts HERE).

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 delivered. Enter the code - 6LB9N 


Here's a closer look at the contents inside the August Degustabox:


Mexican Dave's  - Lightly Salted Tortilla Chips that are made using the best ingredients at a great value price. The ingredients are all free from any artificial colours, flavours or MSG. I've reviewed these previously HERE. The range is now available in Tesco stores.


Schwartz Flavour Shots - I've tried a few of the Schwartz Flavour Shots before, after they were included in previous a Degustabox, and they are very useful for making quick family meals. I was pleased to see the Mexican Fajitas and Spanish Smoked Paprika Chicken Flavour Shots included this month as we've never tried these before but I know they are both meals that will appeal to my family. There are 8 flavours available in this range and they are available in Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Waitrose.


Dr. Oetker Edible Wafer Cupcake Cases - I love baking so I was thrilled to find these new edible cupcake cases. I'd heard about these on Twitter but hadn't found them instore yet. My kids are so excited to try these out - imagine being able to eat the whole cupcake, case and all. I'm reminded of that scene from Groundhog Day where Bill Murray's character stuffs a whole cake in his mouth in one go! 


Lindt Hello Just For You Heart Chocolate Tin - I'm a big fan of the Lindt Hello range (I recently gave their new Salted Caramel bar a 10 out of 10 rating) and this little heart shaped tin looks like another lovely addition to the range. It contains 10 delicious Lindt milk chocolate hearts in a black and pink tin.  


Brioche Pasquier - The Pasquier family began baking brioche in 1936 in a small bakery in the West of France. The Pain au Lait are made using a traditional recipe to create a light, airy, most brioche roll that can be enjoyed with your favourite filling. I've got quite a few new chocolate spreads that I'll be testing out in these! The Pain au Chocolat are made with a brioche dough that is worked into a light pastry and then filled with dark chocolate. I like the fact that these are individually wrapped and they'll be very useful for work and school.


Berry White - There are quite a few drinks included in the August Degustabox. The Berry White Peach & Goji Berry with Echinacea and White Tea Extract, is part of a range of organic drinks that are made with an emphasis on superfruits and healthy extracts. Berry White drinks are made from premium organic ingredients with no added sugar, fruit sugars and no artificial preservatives. The range is available at selected Waitrose stores and includes four flavour combinations including; Cranberry & Guava with Elderberry, Guarana and White Tea Extra, Lemon & Ginger with Acai Berry, Yerba Mate and White Tea Extract, and Pomegranate and Blueberry with White Tea Extract.


Cawston Press Kids' Blend Apple & Pear - These are specially blended for tiny taste buds with a mix of pressed juice with 40% water for a lighter juice drink. As with the rest of the Cawston Press juice range, the juice used is never from concentrate and there's no added sugar or anything artificial.


Caribbean Twist Strawberry Daiquiri - A ready to drink Caribbean style alcoholic cocktail containing 7.5% fruit juice. Summer might be coming to an end but this drink will no doubt extend that summery feeling for a bit longer! This is available in the alcohol option Degustabox. Caribbean Twist can be found in Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Iceland, Savers and will be coming to Morrisons in September too.


Fever Tree - The no alcohol option of the Degustabox includes two bottles from the Fever Tree tonic water range. These are made with the highest ingredients sourced from small specialist producers around the world, resulting in a cleaner and more balanced taste. They're a popular choice in many of the worlds' top restaurants.


Degustabox Fridge - Also included in this months Degustabox is an envelope with a voucher for a fresh fridge product. This month it's a voucher for a Moma! Bircher Muesli multipack, a blend of wholegrain oats, fruit and yogurt. I loved the Moma! porridge pots included in the Degustabox a few months ago so I'm looking forward to giving these muesli yogurts a try.

Overall I was pleased with the selection I received from Degustabox, they are all products that will be useful to have in my store cupboard and I'm looking forward to trying some of the new products too. This month, I'm especially excited to try out the Berry White drink and the Dr. Oetker Wafer cases. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this months Degustabox in the comments below.

For more details:
Degustabox website: www.degustabox.com

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

Friday, 29 August 2014

New Lindt Hello My Name Is Salted Caramel


Is there any better greeting than - Hello, My Name is Salted Caramel...? I think not. I first reviewed the Lindt Hello My Name Is range back in July 2013, and at that time it consisted of four core flavours (see review HERE). I really enjoyed most of the flavours back then so I'm excited to see the Salted Caramel variety join the range in the UK (I believe it was already available in Germany). The whole range is on special offer in Tesco for £1.50p per 100g bar.


I must just mention the lovely packaging. Each chocolate bar is wrapped in gold foil and presented inside a cardboard envelope. I love little packaging touches like this, they seem quite rare in mainstream chocolates, and gives it a more luxe feel.


The Hello My Name Is Salted Caramel bar itself consists of ten large milk chocolate pieces, each filled with a salted caramel centre. 


As you can see the centre is gorgeously gooey, although not as runny as the photo would suggest (I had to cut the segments in half which is always a messy business!). The milk chocolate contains 30% minimum cocoa solids and has a sweet but rich, slightly malty, flavour. It's the ideal backdrop for the extremely delicious salted caramel filling. I absolutely loved the flavour here! It's really has quite a salty edge but this just tastes amazing when combined with the sweetness of the caramel and the chocolate. It's my new favourite salted caramel filled chocolate by far and it probably goes without saying that this is getting full marks from me!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Lindt Hello My Name Is Salted Caramel

RATING: 10 out of 10.
Buy it again?: Yes! 
Nutrition: 516 calories per 100g
Purchased: Tesco. 
Price: £1.50p.

New Review: Coca-Cola Life


Coca-Cola Life is the first new core brand to be released by Coca-Cola since the launch of Coca-Cola Zero back in 2006. Obviously flavoured varieties, such as Coke Zero Cherry, are not counted in this statement as they are simply additions to existing brands of Coke rather than a whole new brand. Which leads to the question - what makes Coca-Cola Life any different to the core brands, original Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, and Coca-Cola Zero, that are already on offer?


Well it all comes down to the types of sugar and sweetener involved. Although it still contains regular sugar, Coca-Cola Life is partly made using Stevia - a super sweet plant leaf extract that has no calories, hence the new leaf design on the can and green colouring. In the UK this green and "natural" theming seems slightly strange, because here, even regular Coca-Cola is made with a natural type of sugar - cane sugar. It's a different story however in the US where their Coke is made with high-fructose corn syrup and I can imagine Coca-Cola Life's natural attributes would make it much more appealing over there. 

For consumers of Coca-Cola Life the inclusion of Stevia extract equates to roughly a third less sugar and calories per can. A 330ml can has 89 calories and 22g of sugar, compared to full fat Coca-Cola which has 35g of sugar and 139 calories. Of course Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero have virtually no calorie content at all so I don't really see Coca-Cola Life appealing to devoted diet soda drinkers. It seems to be a more tempting prospect to regular drinkers of full fat Coca-Cola, since it promises the same taste to go with the fewer calories. It will probably also appeal to people who are worried about the artificial sweeteners in Diet Coke, such as aspartame.



When it comes to my own personal preferences, I usually go for diet drinks whenever I have the choice (I only really drink Coke when I'm out and about), and like most people who opt for the diet options, I now find the full sugared versions far too sugary and sweet. Having said that, I don't actually like the strong artificial aftertaste that comes with Diet Coke, so I was still keen to give Coca-Cola Life a try. The initial taste is quite different to original Coke and I think any regular drinker of Coca-Cola would be able to tell the difference. For a start, it's nowhere near as sugary or cloying, it didn't give me that sugary-tooth-coating sensation that I usually get from real Coke). The flavour is also not as complex as real Coke, which I find has very subtle hints of cinnamon and spices. Instead Coke Life is a much lighter and refreshing drink but happily without any hint of an artificial sweetener aftertaste. This for me makes it a very enjoyable drink and I can imagine choosing Coke Life if I felt like an energy/sugar boost but didn't want the sugary overload of regular Coke. Even more keen is Mr. Grocery Gems (who would normally go for full-fat Coke anyway); for him, Coke Life makes a pleasant replacement to the original version - it still has a great taste, has the bonus of lower calories, but has none of the artificial sweeteners that he hates about Diet Coke.

It will be interesting to see if Coca-Cola Life takes off in the UK, I wonder how many people will switch to it from regular Coke? The difference in flavour would take a little getting used to but it's not as big a change as switching to Diet Coke. Perhaps if the brand does well enough they could expand the range to include flavoured versions along the same "natural" theme.

Have you tried Coca-Cola Life? I'd love to hear your views and opinions on it in the comments below. Thank you!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Coca-Cola Life

RATING: 8 out of 10.
Buy it again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 89 calories per can
Purchased: Asda. 
Price: £2.50p (8 can multipack pack - special offer).

Thursday, 28 August 2014

New Instore Round Up


Hello all! I hope you've all had a good summer so far. We just got back from a holiday to Portugal a few days ago (I managed to keep up with blogging thanks to writing quite a few posts before I left!). Thank you to everyone who left comments over the past few weeks and I'm sorry I wasn't able to reply to all of them. Anyway, I headed out to do some much needed grocery shopping and spotted quite a few new products so here's a quick round up! As always, if any of these are not actually "new" (as seen in my Who Knew it Was Not So New? features!) then let me know in the comments below.


Llama's Baked Bites Chilli & Lime: Last month my local Tesco was selling off all its stock of Llama Baked Bites as "reduced to clear", and I actually assumed the brand was disappearing. However, it seems to have just been rebranded instead and returns with a new Chilli & Lime flavour. There was also a Cheese flavour available but no sign of the original Sweet Chilli variety. Available at Tesco - £1.00.


Carex Fun Edition Bubble Gum: Following on from their Strawberry Laces and Cola Bottle scented hand washes, Carex have released a Bubble Gum edition. I should look at this with disdain and moan about kids needing this type of incentive to learn to wash their hands properly - but it's just so fun! Available at Asda - £1.78 or any 2 for £2.00p.


Alpro Gingerbread Man Dessert: This is one of the products that I had to buy as soon as I saw it. I like the Alpro range of dairy free desserts anyway so I was excited to see a new flavour. If you've never tried them before they are smooth desserts that have a custard like texture and taste. There is a bit of humour here from Alpro as these actually say "Gingerbread Man Flavoured" on the front - like they crushed up the little guys straight into the dessert. Available at Tesco - £1.00.


Nature Valley Crunchy Bites: These were released a few months ago but I haven't seen these multipacks before. Tesco - £1.99p.


Nescafé Limited Edition Café Menu Spiced Orange Mocha: I think this has been out for a few months now, but the autumn inspired flavours of the Spiced Orange Mocha seem much more appealing now. There is also a Limited Edition Millionaire's Shortbread Mocha available in the range. Asda - £2.98p.


Heinz Fajita Beanz: £1.30 for one tin of beans?? ONE tin. Really?


Heinz Tuscan Beanz: Did I mention that this new range costs £1.30 for ONE tin of beans?


Müller Fruitopolis: These feature a layer of fruit on top of a serving of Müller Greek Syle yogurt. They're available in three flavours; Cherry, Strawberry, and Peach & Passionfruit.


Activia Fruit Fusion:  A similar concept to the Fruitopolis, although these have the separate layer of fruit on the bottom. There are three flavours available; Mango & Passionfruit, Raspberry & Lychee, and Blueberry & Acai. I bought the latter but I'm sure I will try the other flavours at some point too. Tesco - £1.00. 


Activia Multipack: I think this Activia Multipack is only advertised as new because it includes the Pear variety. I often buy these multipacks when they're on special offer and I'd definitely like to give the Pear flavour a try. Asda - £2.50p.
Activia Intensely Creamy Duo: On the subject of Activia, I haven't spotted these yet, but there are a few new releases in their Intensely Creamy range. The new Duo yogurts come in Blood Orange & Passionfruit, Pear & Apple, and Apricot & Nectarine.


Müller Rice Remix: Not sure what these are all about to be honest, the whole DJing Bear thing seems a bit strange to me. The product itself is a serving of creamy rice with a separate corner serving of fruit compote. There are three flavours; Plum, Strawberry and Apricot. Asda - £1.50p.


Coca-Cola Life: Asda has the new Coca-Cola Life in both 1.75litre bottles (on offer for £1.00) and 8 can multipacks (£2.50).


Coca-Cola Life 8 can Multipacks: If you haven't heard of Coke Life, it's the first new brand from Coca-Cola since the release of Coke Zero back in 2006. It's made using Stevia, giving it less calories and a third less sugar than original Coca-Cola but without any of the artificial sweeteners of Diet Coke. Each can has 89 calories. I'll have a review up very soon.


Rocky Big Eat Chocolate: A new addition to the Fox's Rocky biscuit range. These are also available in a Caramel variety. Tesco - £1.00p.


Lindt Intense Roasted Sesame & Lime Intense: I'm not too familiar with the Lindt Excellence range but I think these are both fairly new releases. Tesco - £1.89p.


Bahlsen X-tra Tasty Caramel: Apologies for the blurry photo. Do these chocolate covered biscuit and caramel sticks remind you of anything? Tesco.


Cadbury Crunchie Rocks: I'll be honest, when it comes to Cadbury I have no idea what is new and what isn't. These could have been released yesterday or last year for all I know. Cadbury have released quite a few new products over the summer but to be honest none of them interest me very much. If you see anything in particular you'd like me to review them let me know! Asda - £1.99p.


Cadbury Giant Buttons: I know Cadbury Dairy Milk Giant Buttons are not new in themselves, but I think this sharing sized bag is possibly newish. Maybe. Tesco - £1.00p.


Cadbury Dairy Milk Chips Ahoy!: Now this one was definitely released recently but I wasn't all that bothered about trying it, despite the fact that I like Chips Ahoy! cookies. However, I recently picked up the (also new) Milka Chips Ahoy! bar which of course meant I had to buy the Cadbury one in order to compare them. In fact I have an epic Cadbury/Milka/Chips Ahoy! face-off coming up in the next few days.


Tesco Custard Cream Biscuit Spread: Now we're getting to the GOOD stuff! Tesco have a very impressive new range of sweet spreads instore. Even though Tesco is by far my least favourite supermarket, BY FAR, I have to give them credit for these biscuit inspired spreads. It's like the suits at Tesco looked at the Speculoos biscuit spread and thought let's have a go too with some British classics. Custard Cream biscuits in a spreadable form - who on Earth would say no to that? NO ONE. 


Tesco Bourbon Biscuit Spread: And if for some bizarre and inexplicable reason you're the type of person that doesn't like custard cream biscuits (such as Mr. Grocery Gems) then perhaps the chocolatey Bourbon biscuit version will be more appealing to your freakish nature.



Tesco Cookies and Cream Flavour Spread: This was the one that my kids most wanted to try. It looks a bit like Milky Way Spread I reviewed previously, although I would expect it to be more biscuity than chocolatey.


Tesco Cookie Spread: And no respectable biscuit spread range would be complete without the classic chocolate chip cookie. I'm really curious to know how this one tastes! It'll either be amazing or really bland (especially compared to the deliciously spiced Speculoos spread). Let me know in the comments if you've tried it! 

Tesco Finest Salted Caramel Chocolate Spread: This looks so good that I want to cry. I didn't buy it because if I did I know I suspect I would want to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner... AND for elevenses... AND as a midnight snack. There was also a new Tesco Finest 30% Dark Chocolate Spread available too. Each of the above spreads is £1.99 at Tesco.


Maltesers Teasers Spread: A Maltesers spread with added malty crunchy pieces. I just want to grab a spoon and dive straight in! Tesco - £2.00.

Let me know if you spot any new products instore and even send me a photo  if you can - I love hearing about them! grocerygems@gmail.com



Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Maggi Chicken & Leek Potato Bake (Degustabox)


There were quite a few Maggi recipe mixes included in the July Degustabox (a surprise food subscription box - see my review HERE) and I decided to give the Cheesy Chicken & Leek Potato Bake a try yesterday. It's not a flavour that I would ever have thought of buying for my family but that actually made it look quite interesting and different compared to the other recipe mixes.


The recipe mix is very easy to follow and simply needs chicken thighs, leeks, potatoes, milk and cheese to complete the meal. I didn't actually have chicken thighs so I used chicken breasts cut into large chunks instead. I also added an extra breadcrumb topping to the bake to give it a bit more crunch!


First step is to fry the chicken and leeks until browned.


Next add the Maggi Chicken & Leek recipe mix (that has been first whisked into the milk) to the frying pan. Then add the sliced potatos and bring everything to the boil. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. 


Transfer the whole lot into an oven proof dish and top with the cheese. I also decided to add some "breadcrumbs"to the top (after the photo was taken!) just to liven up the colours and textures a bit. My breadcrumbs are actually a few blended up Jacob's cream crackers - they gave a nice golden appearance to the bake and a little bit of extra crunch too.


I have to admit that cheese or milk based sauces are not usually my thing at all, I always prefer to go for tomato based sauces. However, the flavours here were very tasty, and won me over completely. It's a simple combination of cheesy and herby flavours, without being overly salty, and everyone in the family enjoyed their meal. I'm looking forward to trying the rest of the Maggi recipes mixes that I received from Degustabox.

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