27 Feb 2013

New Pringles Roast Chicken & Herbs Review

New from Pringles is this Roast Chicken & Herbs flavour, which I believe is exclusive to the UK. Apparently roast chicken is the sixth most popular flavour of crisps here in the UK, and it seems that Pringles would like to claim their share. Pringles are technically not even potato crisps, they are officially called a "savoury snack", which is because they actually contain less than 50% potato. It's not a brand that I buy very often, but I was tempted by the Roast Turkey variety. Since I never managed to track those down, I was pleased to find this similar (ish) flavour.

Mmmm - carved straight from this strange looking chicken. It's worth noting that a lot of meat flavoured crisps (certainly in the UK) are more often than not completely vegetarian, i.e. they don't contain any meat at all. It's not the case here as "chicken fat" is listed as an ingredient in these potato crisps savoury snacks. It doesn't sound very appetising does it, but unsurprisingly, as soon as I popped the lid, I could smell a strong chicken aroma alongside the usual herby scent associated with roast chicken crisps.

These Pringles have quite a pale colouring, and the seasoning is very evenly spread. Right from the first bite, the chicken flavour is intense. It's full-on meaty, no subtle mere hint of a taste here - this is a chicken flavour that wants to be the main rooster in the chicken coop. The dominant chicken flavour is followed by herby undertones from the rosemary. And then there is salt. A whole lot of salt.

The salty edge means I didn't find these as moreish as other flavours of Pringles. However they are still wickedly tasty, and if the sixth most popular flavour of crisps is your favourite, then you should give these Pringles a try.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Pringles Roast Chicken & Herbs

RATING: 6.5 out of 10.
Buy them again?: I'll buy Pringles the next time they have a new flavour :-)
Nutrition (per 30g)
: 152 calories. 1.3g protein,  16g carbohydrates, 0.7g sugar, 9.4g fat.
Purchased: Premier Stores.
Price: £1.25 (half price offer).

Competition Time! - Cadbury Egg 'n' Spoon

It's competition time again! Enter to win two boxes of the new yummy Cadbury Egg 'n' Spoon! The winner will receive one box of chocolate filled eggs and one box of vanilla filled eggs.

Simply Follow & Retweet the original tweet or Like Grocery Gems on Facebook to enter.

Competition open until 5pm Sunday 3rd March.

Good luck everyone!

26 Feb 2013

Cadbury Wispa Hot Chocolate Review

This is a very welcome new hot chocolate from Cadbury based on their classic Wispa chocolate bar. Remember when Wispas were discontinued and public demand brought them back? And now look at them - all grown up and so popular they even have their own hot chocolate! I don't often drink instant hot chocolate but I'm such a fan of the Wispa bar that I had to give this a try.

Cadbury's have a fair few versions of instant hot chocolate already on the market, but what makes this Wispa Hot Chocolate different is that is bubbles up. Not in a fizzy way - that would certainly be very odd. What we're talking about here is a soft frothy covering of seriously big bubbles on top of the hot chocolate itself.

I followed the suggested preparation method of adding 200ml of hot water to four heaped teaspoons of the powdered drink. The hot chocolate frothed up instantly with the biggest frothiest bubbles I've ever seen on a hot chocolate, and without the need for any effort at all on my part. Not even a bit of whisking required, nada. At first the bubbly layer makes up almost half the drink but this eventually settles down to a thick frothy layer on top of the hot chocolate, as you can see in the photo below.

The flavour of the hot chocolate is essentially the same as the regular Cadbury's hot chocolate; it's super sweet and with a subtle cocoa flavour that builds nicely as you drink. The frothy bubbles add a lovely texture to the hot chocolate, and makes it feel a lot more luxurious and velvety than a standard instant hot chocolate. Usually I would add some cocoa powder or marshmallows to the top of my hot chocolate, but the bubbly effect on the top of this drink is gorgeous enough on it's own.

This Wispa Hot Chocolate (or Hot Frothy Instant Choccy as it says on the front) is a very warming and delicious hot chocolate and it's worth buying for the frothing affect alone! If you don't fancy buying a whole jar then there are also individual sachets available (pictured above) that are only 36p each.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Cadbury Wispa Hot Chocolate

RATING: 8.5 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Definitely.
Nutrition (each serving)
: 105 calories. 3g protein,  20.0g carbohydrates, 16.0g sugar, 1.4g fat.
Purchased: Tesco.
Price: £2.79p (for 246g jar) or 36p per sachet.

What do you think of the new Cadbury Wispa Hot Chocolate? I'd love to know your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment below.

25 Feb 2013

New York Soup Co Smokey Bacon & Herby Tomato Soup Limited Edition

My Hubby bought this Limited Edition New York Soup Co Smokey Bacon & Herby Tomato soup at the weekend. I think it was the word "bacon" that lured him in rather than the "limited edition" part! We've been eating a lot of soup recently, especially for dinner. It's usually of the home made variety but it's useful to have a ready made soup in the fridge for busy days.

I love the Limited Edition star and the whole American style of the packaging. This Limited Edition soup is a combination of vegetables, bacon and spices and looked slightly more watery than I was expecting once opened. There were lots of "bits" in the soup but they were mostly very small pieces, with not enough larger chunks.

The tomato flavour was good, and there was plenty of seasoning and herbs. The bacon part was slightly more disappointing. Even though there was a nice smokey flavour to the soup, there were too many little stringy strands of meat rather than chunks of bacon. However, it was still a very satisfying soup and I always prefer tomato based soups to creamy ones. I like the New York Soup Co range but this limited edition soup probably won't be added to my list of favourites from their range.

Grocery Gems Verdict: New York Soup Co Smokey Bacon & Herby Tomato

RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again? I'll be trying one of their new "skinny" soups next.
Nutrition (per half pot): 140 Calories, 3.6g sugar, 8.1g fat, 1.3g salt.
Purchased: Tesco.
Price: £2.20p.

23 Feb 2013

Metro Deco Matcha Green Tea Review

I was delighted when Brighton based tea specialists Metro Deco offered to send me a sample of organic matcha green tea. As a green tea fan (I usually drink several cups a day) I have always wanted to give matcha green tea a try.

Matcha green tea, which has been used for centuries in Japanese tea ceremonies, is made from shade-grown tea leaves that are ground down to a fine powder. It has all the health benefits of green tea but in a more concentrated format; with matcha powder you ingest the whole leaf as well as the brewed water. It is said to have ten times the amount of antioxidants compared to green tea. There are a multitude of health benefits which are associated with matcha green tea; energy boost, weight loss, heart health, liver function and many others.

Metro Deco were also kind enough to send me some samples of their Rockerfella Cleansing blend, which is a delicious mint infusion in a "tea temple" rather than tea bag. This mint tea has a very similar taste to Tea Pigs peppermint tea, which is, without doubt, one of my favourite teas. I brewed one of the Metro Deco mint tea temples and added a small teaspoon of the matcha powder to make a "minty matcha" tea. This made the tea a slightly darker colour and gave the mint a slightly earthy quality without impairing the clean fresh mint flavour at all. It was still a delicious cleansing minty tea, and a combination that I would happily drink again and again.

My husband is also a fan of green tea and peppermint tea, and he thought this "minty matcha" tea was just delicious - energising and cleansing at the same time. Matcha green tea powder is high quality and organic, which is reflected in the price, but I think it's a worthwhile purchase, not just because of the health benefits, but its many different uses.
Image: Metro Deco
Metro Deco sent me some lovely suggestions such as adding the powder to some cocoa to make a "matcha mocha". It can also be added to other drinks such as smoothies and lattes, sprinkled onto porridge or cereal, and even used as an ingredient when baking. A quick look at Pinterest shows all sorts of fab ideas for using matcha powder in baking: cupcakes, cakes, cookies, desserts - the list is endless. In Japan you can even buy a matcha flavoured Kit Kat! I've already added some matcha powder to make a delicious matcha latte and I'm planning to make some gorgeously green matcha cupcakes next!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Metro Deco Matcha Tea

RATING: 9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Absolutely.
Available: Sent to me for an honest review by Metro Deco.

22 Feb 2013

Sainsbury's Red Nose Day Doughnuts

I picked up these Red Nose Day themed doughnuts at Sainsbury's. They cost a very reasonable £1 for four doughnuts with 15p donated to Comic Relief.

The doughnuts are covered in a red (well really it's a pinkish colour) icing and crunchy white sprinkles. 

Even though they don't look much like a red nose, they still have a fun bright look which is perfectly in keeping with the Red Nose Day theme. 

Supermarket bakery doughnuts can be a bit hit and miss in terms of taste, it often depends on what time of day you buy them as to whether you get a delicious treat or a stale/soggy mess. As I bought these in the morning and they had just been baked, they were very tasty, the doughy part was very soft and light, with a lovely golden colouring. The icing on top was quite firm with a nice crunchy texture from the sprinkles. They're cheap and cheerful and made a lovely half-term treat.

The last time I did a Red Nose Day review (for the Limited Edition Red Nose Day Pez) I felt it fitting to end the review with a joke. This time I'll leave the jokes to the doughnut addict that is Garfield:

Image: Garfield.com

Grocery Gems Verdict: Red Nose Day Doughnuts

RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Worth a buy.
: None given.
Purchased: Sainsbury's.
Price: £1.00p.

21 Feb 2013

Angry Birds Lagoon - Apple & Pear Drink (CyberCandy)

I recently reviewed the Angry Birds Space Comet cola and orange drink and found it to be a very tasty twist on a classic cola. I also bought another drink from the range - this Angry Birds Lagoon. It's not a cola this time, but an apple and pear fizzy drink. Originally made in Finland, these official Angry Birds drinks are available to buy from CyberCandy.

You can probably tell by now that we are a household of gaming fans, and yes, we do seem to have a rather large number of Angry Birds toys! I love the design of these cans; they are bold, fun and appealing, much like the gaming characters they represent. It turns out that the drink inside the can is colourful too, being a bright green shade.

The drink has a lovely taste too, the flavours are very fresh and light. There is a lovely burst of apple flavour at first which is sweetened by the subtle pear aftertaste. There is no sour edge to this drink, as I sometimes find with fizzy apple drinks, just a delicious fruitiness. Overall, this is a very refreshing drink, perfect for keeping hydrated during an epic Angry Birds playing session (is that just me?), and I will certainly be trying even more from this Angry Birds range.

There are four Angry Birds drinks available: tropical fruit flavoured ‘Angry Birds Tropic’, the mandarin and pineapple-flavoured ‘Angry Birds Paradise’, orange and cola flavoured ‘Angry Birds Space Comet’ and this apple and pear flavoured ‘Angry Birds Lagoon’.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Angry Birds Lagoon drink

RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition (330ml can): 124 Calories.
Purchased: CyberCandy.
Price: £1.85p.

Other Angry Birds Reviews:
Angry Birds Space Comet cola
Angry Birds Gummy Sweets (Finland)
Angry Birds Ice Lollies (Portugal)

20 Feb 2013

Activia Pear Yogurt Special Edition

The Activia range of yogurts is great for anyone who likes to try something a bit different from the usual flavours of yogurt, and the latest addition to the range is certainly not a common one - Pear flavour.

Does Special Edition mean the same as Limited Edition or does it mean it's a new flavour with extra bonus features? Whichever it is, I was interested enough in this new special edition to give it a try. I haven't bought Activia yogurts in a while; my yogurt of choice is the Muller Light Coconut & Vanilla, but as you may have noticed I do like the word "new". Pear is also one of my favourite fruits and not one that I have ever tried in a yogurt before.

The pots look slightly different to other fruit yogurts I have had in the Activia range, they are more curved and all green. The design suits the pear flavour very well.

The yogurt itself is nicely thick and creamy in consistency. There are large and small pieces of fruit within it which have a good texture, not too soft or hard. The pear taste is very strong, it's sweet and full of flavour, possibly even more full of flavour than most actual pears! This means the taste can border on being slightly too reminiscent of pear drops. I loved the creamy flavour of the yogurt combined with the rich sweetness of the pear. Needless to say, I'm always pleased to see bold new flavours and I'm glad that Activia have added to their range with this new Pear flavour.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Acitiva Pear Yogurt

RATING: 7.5 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Probably.
Nutrition (per pot)
: 129 calories. 4.8g protein,  17.0g carbohydrates, 16.9g sugar, 4.3g fat.
Purchased: Asda.
Price: £1.89p

19 Feb 2013

CyberCandy Takeout Box (Valentines Lovemix Version)

I recently blogged about the awesome US version CyberCandy Takeout Box and I mentioned that I had won a Valentines version in a Facebook competition - well look what arrived over the weekend! A gorgeous takeout style box filled with Valentines themed sweets - and it even comes with a pair of heart print chopsticks. Last time I gave the box a 10 out of 10 for the design alone and even though it's mathematically impossible, I want to rate this box even higher just because of the super cute chopsticks!

Seriously - just how cute is this box? I think I'm in love!

The CyberCandy Takeout Box is a really adorable idea, it's been modelled on American style Chinese takeout boxes, complete with little wire handles and lots of bright images printed on the outside (that look like they really do belong on a Chinese take out box).

Dig straight in and practise those chopstick skills!! Once again the inside of the box is crammed full of sweets but this time they are all "love" themed. There is a great mix of alphabets, rings, and white chocolate jazzies - and of course lots of hearts and kisses!

I much prefer the sweets in this selection to the US version I had last time, they are all enjoyable to eat and were a hit with my whole family.

Oh and did I mention how cute the whole thing is? Being filled with Valentines themed sweets makes the CyberCandy Takeout Box even more adorable! And yes I do realise just how many times I've used the words cute and adorable in this review!

Big Sister and Little Sister
The CyberCandy Takeout Box comes in three different versions - US candy, UK sweets and this Valentines Lovemix. There are also different sizes available - the Lovemix version comes in a smaller box, which is still a generous size and a good price too. I still have the larger box from my last purchase - there's no way I'm throwing these takeout boxes out!

Many thanks to CyberCandy for running this fab competition with such an awesome prize!

Grocery Gems Verdict: CyberCandy Takeout box (Valentines Lovemix)

RATING: 10 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Absolutely.
Purchased: Only available at CyberCandy.
Price: £2.69.

18 Feb 2013

New Cranberry Belvita Breakfast Biscuits

I've reviewed lots of new breakfast biscuits since I started this blog but I've never actually reviewed the most established brand on the market: Belvita. I've enjoyed their breakfast biscuits many times and my husband is quite a fan of the Honey & Nuts variety. I was delighted to be asked to review this Cranberry version which has recently been added to the Belvita range.

The biscuits come in the usual format; each box has 6 individually sealed packs of four biscuits. Belvita Breakfast Biscuits are made with a combination of five wholegrains, (wholegrain oat flakes, wholegrain malted rye flakes, wholegrain spelt flour, wholegrain barley flour and wholegrain wheat flour) which help provide a slow energy release. They also have added vitamins and minerals and each biscuit has 55 calories.

I love the appearance of these biscuits, even though they have an oat pattern imprinted on the top, they are still very rustic looking with an appetising golden colouring. There are plenty of visible fruit pieces and a generous sprinkling of oats. The fruity cranberry smell is immediately evident from these biscuits, alongside an appetising wheaty biscuit aroma.

The biscuits have a great texture, crunchy but not too hard, and very slightly crumbly. The taste of the cranberries lives up to the promise of the initial scent - the sweet berry flavour is prevalent throughout the entire biscuit. There is a generous amount of dried cranberry pieces which add a lovely chewiness to the otherwise crunchy biscuits. The satisfying fruity flavour really sets these biscuits apart from other dried fruit breakfast biscuits on the market, they have more depth of flavour and are very moreish. I find four biscuits to be a very generous portion, I would usually eat two and save the rest for later. Whether you like eating these for breakfast, or as I do, as a mid morning snack, they're just perfect with a cup of tea or coffee!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Belvita Cranberry Breakfast Biscuits

RATING: 8.5 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition (per biscuit): 55 calories. 1.0g protein, 8.4g carbohydrates, 2.4g sugar, 1.7g fat.
Purchased: Product was sent to me for an honest review.
Price: Available at most supermarkets for £2.45.

17 Feb 2013

3 Musketeers Coconut Review (CyberCandy)

My husband picked up this imported chocolate bar from CyberCandy, knowing that I love most coconut flavoured bars (apart from Bounty, but more about that later!). I've never actually had a regular 3 Musketeers let alone a flavoured version so I was intrigued to give it a try.
The 3 Musketeers Coconut comes in two separate pieces, a feature that always appeals to me. I don't always want to finish a chocolate bar in one go and this is perfect for that! As soon as I unwrapped the chocolate the sweet coconut smell was full of promise. The wrapper describes it as a "chocolate coconut flavoured centre" but I would have assumed the coconut was also in the outer chocolate as the scrumptious coconut smell was so prevalent.

I wasn't sure what the "chocolate coconut flavoured centre" would be like but I suspected it might be a Bounty type filling. I was very happy to discover that in fact this bar has a whipped centre. The texture and taste of the filling is just like a Milky Way, which is not too surprising seeing as both bars are made by Mars, but with the added benefit of a sweet coconut flavour. What you have here is essentially a coconut Milky Way - and I thought it was just delicious. The coconut flavour is just as strong as the tempting scent suggested and it combines perfectly with the fluffy nougat.

Tthe filling is of course extremely sweet, but because of the it's whipped nature, it's also a very "light" experience at the same time. The outer chocolate is quite bland, which means the whole bar is dominated by the inner filling. A bit more balance from the chocolate would have improved the overall flavour but, even without that, it was a very enjoyable bar, and one that I can imagine buying again. Yes, it's a very simple confection but it's one that I found very appealing. Another bonus is that there are only 180 calories for the whole bar, that's just 90 calories in each segment. It's also advertised as having 40% less fat that standard chocolate bars.

 Grocery Gems Verdict: 3 Musketeers Coconut

RATING: 8 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Definitely.
Nutrition (per 42.2g bar): 180 calories. 1g protein, 32g carbohydrates, 6g fat.
Purchased: CyberCandy.
Price (each 160g bag): £1.55.

A quick note on the whole "Bounty" thing. How can I love coconut but dislike Bounty bars? It's mainly because of the gritty texture of the centre. I like coconut as a flavour in chocolate and cakes but that doesn't mean I want to eat a sugary mass of coconut on it's own (I'm ignoring the thin chocolate covering). I'm only mentioning that because my husband also bought me another coconut bar called Mounds. 

Again I wasn't sure what to expect but even though I like the packaging, and especially the coconut instead of an O, I was again suspicious that this would be too similar to a Bounty. 


Unfortunately for me it's basically an American version of a Bounty bar, so not something I could enjoy. However I thought it was worth a quick mention here and if you're a fan of sugary coconut then it's definitely worth a try!

16 Feb 2013

Joe & Seph's Valentines White Chocolate & Strawberry Popcorn

My husband visited Whole Foods Market last weekend and spotted this limited edition Valentine's popcorn from Joe & Seph's. There are two varieties available; "For Him" there is a is Caramel, Macchiato & Whisky flavour, "For Her" there is this White Chocolate & Strawberry. 

The packaging has been updated to incorporate the Valentines theme, with a special heart shaped label.

I've reviewed several of Joe & Seph's flavours before and I have previously marvelled at the way the flavours seem to shift and build in exactly the way described on the packaging. The different ingredients have been added with to ensure the flavours are released at different stages whilst you are eating creating a layering. There are three main flavours here; caramel, white chocolate and strawberry. This Strawberry & White Chocolate popcorn has a slightly less obvious layering effect of flavours than the varieties I have tried before. The flavour here seems more consistent as a strawberry white chocolate taste rather than of white chocolate first and then strawberry.

That's not a criticism of the flavour itself as I found it absolutely delicious. There are dried strawberry pieces studded on the outside of the popcorn and seem to flavour the whole popcorn, it's fruity and fresh and just scrumptious. The white chocolate adds an initial sweetness and creaminess to this popcorn, and then, seemed to give way to the caramel flavour at the end. I seem to say this every time I review Joe & Seph's, but this White Chocolate & Strawberry has become my new favourite flavour from their range, it's so simple and moreish.

As ever the ingredients are 100% natural and high quality (there is 29% cocoa solids in the Belgian white chocolate used here). I know this flavour was released last year for Valentines Day and I hope they bring it back next year too!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Joe & Seph's Gingerbread Popcorn

RATING: 9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: None given.
Purchased: Whole Foods Market
Price: £2.99p
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