29 Aug 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 review the new Coca-Cola Life. 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).

28 Aug 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

26 Aug 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.

25 Aug 2014

Müller Corner Bliss - Whipped Greek Style Yogurt with Raspberry

I previously reviewed the Müller Bliss Whipped Greek Style Lemon yogurts (see HERE), so this is just a quick additional review for the Rasberry Fruit Compote flavour. The Müller Bliss range consists of lightly whipped yogurts with a separate sweet fruity serving. There are three flavours available so far; Strawberry, Raspberry, and Lemon.

The bright Greek inspired packaging is very summery and appealing.

The consistency of the yogurt is very light and airy but still retains a super creamy flavour. This is because the yogurt is partly made with whipping cream. It gives is a rich flavour despite the light consistency. The raspberry compote has a great flavour, sweet and fruity, with a slight crunch from the raspberry seeds. Anyone who's a fan of creamy flavoured yogurts should give this range a try. I've actually been eating quite a lot of dairy free yogurts at the moment, so I found this Bliss range a bit too creamy for me. However, my hubby and kids really enjoyed them.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Müller Bliss Raspberry

RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: I would try the other flavours.
Nutrition: 161calories
Purchased: Asda. 
Price: £1.00p (four pack - special offer).

24 Aug 2014

HEMA Bolognese Chips

HEMA is a Dutch bargain homestore that has recently opened several branches around the London area. It's quite similar in style and pricing to the popular Tiger Stores from Denmark, although with an even bigger range of products. It's been compared to a budget Ikea and even called a "Posher Poundland", but even though the prices are quite low, the stores are all very bright and appealing. 

I happened upon the Kingston brand of HEMA on a recent visit to some family in that area and I was really impressed with the gorgeous kitchen items and office stationary. I bought quite a few household bits and bobs but being the foodie obsessive that I am, I couldn't resist trying out a few items from the HEMA branded food range. 

There was a large range of snacks, included pastry cheese whirl, Italian bread sticks, and plenty of sweet treats too, but in the end I decided to get these Bolognese Chips. I have a weakness for unusual crisp flavours and I don't think I've ever tried Bolognese flavoured crisps before. The first thing I noticed was that the crisps themselves were all a nice colour and shape. They're just the right thickness, not too thin or too crunchy. The seasoning is a mix of tomato, onion and garlic, and funnily enough those flavours combined to make these taste a lot like beef flavoured crisps. My husband even said they reminded him of beef flavoured Monster Munch! I actually served these up at a recent family get together and they were very popular indeed, especially judging by how quickly they all disappeared. It's one of those situations were I really regret not buying more from HEMA whilst I was there!

Check out their website for location details: www.hemashop.com

Interesting article and video about HEMA on the BBC news website: www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27806767

Grocery Gems Verdict: HEMA Bolognese Chips

Rating: 8 out of 10
Purchased: HEMA.
Price: £0.50p each (large 125g bag!).

22 Aug 2014

New Walkers Cheesy Beans on Toast

I'll admit I wasn't sure if I even wanted to try these when I first saw the flavour. It reminds me of the Walkers Builders Breakfast crisps from a few years ago that I thought were horrible (although that was because they were too eggy!). These are part of the new Walkers Do Us A Flavour range that includes the flavours; Hot Dog with Tomato Ketchup, Pulled Pork in a Sticky BBQ Sauce, Sizzling Steak Fajita, Chip Shop Chicken Curry, Cheesy Beans on Toast, and Ranch Raccoon. 

Even though I didn't really have high expectations for the Cheesy Beans on Toast flavour, I still found them a bit disappointing. They didn't really have the baked beans flavour that I was expecting. Not that I think it's a particularly great flavour for crisps, but if that's the inspiration then I would expect it to be more prevalent. They definitely have a cheesy flavour, that's milder and less pungent than Walkers usual cheese flavoured crisps. The baked beans flavour does provide a subtle sweet and tangy background flavour that reminded me a bit of ketchup flavouring, but it wasn't really strong enough here. At least these Cheesy Beans on Toast were much nicer than the Builders Breakfast crisps I remembered! 

Grocery Gems Verdict: Walkers Cheesy Beans on Toast

RATING: 6 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Maybe (my son really liked them!).
Nutrition: (per 40g bag) 210 calories.

Vegetarian: Suitable for Vegetarians.
Purchased: Local newsagent.
Price: £0.60p.

21 Aug 2014

Fox's Mint Choc Crunch Creams - Limited Edition Collection

Thanks again to @amywoodger who Tweeted me about these new Fox's Crunch Creams Mint. It's part of a "Limited Edition Collection" which includes various ice cream inspired flavours; Raspberry Ripple Party Rings, Neapolitan Jam & Cream biscuits, and Viennese Clotted Cream flavour. 

The biscuits themselves are described as chocolate flavoured but I have to admit I couldn't actually taste much chocolate there. They have that golden sugary crunch that is common across the Fox's Crunch Cream range. Their darker colouring and crunchy texture actually reminded me a bit of the ginger crunch creams. 

There is a thick layer of the inner mint cream which has tiny chocolate chips (so small I'm not sure they actually count as chips) within. The mint flavour here is very strong, sweet at first but with quite a refreshing punch at the end. The little chocolate chips (shards? shavings? dust?) provide the only real chocolate flavour but it makes a minuscule impact - these cookies are all about the mint. If you like mint flavoured biscuits, chocolates or desserts, then these are definitely worth a try.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Fox's Mint Choc Crunch Creams

RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: I'd try the Raspberry Ripple Party Rings next.
Nutrition: 78 calories per biscuit
Purchased: Sainsbury's. 
Price: £1.15p.

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