Posts tagged May

Degustabox May 2014

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I’m a little bit late with it this month, but here is my review of the May Degustabox, which unlike this post arrived on time towards the end of last month! The May box was a lot more savoury than April’s, but it contained some really lovely stuff, most of which I’d never tried before.

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May’s Degustabox contains ten brands, and thirteen individual items, with a total value of £21.46. However, the box costs just £12.99, so you’re making a pretty big saving whilst getting to try some new, exciting foods! Here are my thoughts on each item…

Cawston Press Cloudy Apple Drink (RRP £1.00)

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Cawston Press featured in April’s Degustabox with their Rhubarb and Apple drink, which was absolutely gorgeous, so I was happy to find another offering from them in the May box.  Like the Rhubarb drink, this Cloudy Apple version contains no preservatives, additives or artificial sweeteners, and is made from fruit juice combined with sparkling water.  The drink isn’t overly sweet, rather, it has a slightly sour tang, but it’s nice.  I don’t like it as much as the rhubarb flavour, but I’d still have it again as it’s lovely and refreshing when chilled.

Taylors of Harrogate Blackberry & Elderflower Tea (RRP £2.99)

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I really enjoy trying new teas and infusions, so this was another addition to the box that I was happy to see.  Taylors of Harrogate have a range of teas created in partnership with experts at Kew Gardens in London, and this Blackberry & Elderflower blend is one of them.  The box contains twenty individually wrapped tea bags, so they’re ideal for popping in your bag when travelling, or going to work.  The flavour mix is really pleasant, offering a kick of blackberry with a subtle aftertaste of elderflower.  Perfect for summer when you fancy something light, rather than a big mug of breakfast tea with milk.

Raw Energy Chewing Gum (RRP £0.99 per box)

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Raw is a sugar-free gum, which contains taurine and vitamin B, to give you a boost of energy on the go.  I absolutely hate energy drinks, especially those containing taurine as it makes me feel funny, so when I saw that these were basically a condensed version of an energy drink I was quite worried.  However, I decided to give them a go anyway.  They smell like Red Bull (yuck), but they taste slightly fruity (although that energy drink flavour is there too…), but to be honest they’re not that bad.  They keep their chewy consistency for a long time, and they didn’t make me feel any different despite the taurine.  That, for me, is a bonus, but if you actually want an energy boost from them you may struggle to get it.

Hornsby’s Crisp Apple Cider and Strawberry & Lime Cider (RRP £5.00 for 4)

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I haven’t yet tried these ciders, but I’m looking forward to enjoying them one evening with a nice meal.  Hornsby’s is one of the leading ciders in the USA, and according to the bottle is an ‘American Classic’, best enjoyed straight from a chilled bottle.  The Degustabox contained two flavours – Crisp Apple, and Strawberry & Lime, which I imagine will be my favourite.  If I like these I’ll definitely repurchase them, as at £5.00 for 4 bottles they’re really affordable.

Kettle Sweet Chilli Sweet Potato Chips (RRP £2.49)

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Kettle crisps are fab, and root vegetable crisps are fab, so combine the two and they’re a winner from the start.  Kettle’s Sweet Chilli Sweet Potato Chips contain 50% less fat than their usual potato crisps, and are free of MSG, and artificial flavourings and colours.  Sweet chilli happens to be my favourite crisp flavour, and combined with the sweetness of the sweet potato it works really well.  The chips are thin and crispy, and very moreish, and are a great alternative to potato crisps if you fancy something healthier and different.

Finn Crisp Original Sourdough Rye Crispbread (RRP £1.29)

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I wasn’t exceptionally excited by these when I first discovered them in the box, but they’re surprisingly tasty.  Finn Crisp are a Nordic brand who use only natural ingredients to create healthy snacks.  Their sourdough rye crispbreads contain wholegrain, are low in fat, are packed full of vitamins and minerals, and are only 22 calories each, so they’re guilt-free and healthy (depending on what you top them with!)  Unlike a lot of rye crackers, these aren’t at all dry, and are satisfyingly thin and crispy.  I’ve been eating these as a snack topped with Lotus caramelised biscuit spread (yum), or soft cheese and cucumber, but they can also be used in baking and cooking to make crispy crusts.  I would 100% buy these again!

Elizabeth Shaw Dark Chocolate Cocoa Crunch Flutes (RRP £2.59)

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Elizabeth Shaw always reminds me of Christmas at my grandma’s house, which is a good thing.  These slender flutes consist of rich, dark chocolate, and are studded with tiny nibs of crunchy cocoa.  The chocolate is already full of flavour, but the nibs add an extra depth and crunch that make these an extremely luxurious treat.  And only 23 delicious calories each!  When I eat chocolate, I tend to eat quite a lot of it, but these are so rich I can only manage one or two, which I suppose is a good thing as it means I can savour them.

Dr. Oetker Cake Release Spray (RRP £2.28)

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I’m yet to use this Dr. Oetker Cake Release Spray, but it is a genius idea!  The spray is oil-based, and can be sprayed on the inside of cake tins and trays to grease them before pouring in the cake mix, making it easier to remove the finished product once it’s baked.  For some reason I’ve always disliked rubbing butter around cake tins to grease them, as it can be messy and somewhat time-consuming, so this quick and easy greasing spray is the ideal addition to my baking cupboard.

Cirio Supercirio Tomato Puree (RRP £1.10)

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A tube of double concentrated tomato puree…  Not that exciting I know, but Cirio’s Supercirio is surprisingly good quality.  I’ve used this on homemade pizzas and in pasta so far, and it has a vivid colouring, authentic tomato taste, and it isn’t acidic like some purees.  A sound example of a good quality tomato puree.

Cirio La Classica Passata (RRP £1.35)

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Passata in a plastic bottle seemed a little strange to me at first, but once I used it, it all became clear.  There’s too much passata in this bottle to use all at once, but the plastic bottle makes it easy to pour and store, compared to the usual cardboard cartons that get messy and don’t keep well in the fridge.  The passata itself is beautiful – packed full of flavoursome Italian tomatoes with a delicate sweetness.  A lot nicer than the watery, bland stuff I’ve tried in the past!

Garofalo Pasta (RRP £1.89)

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Yay!  Pasta!  One of my favourite ingredients to use in hearty evening meals.  Garofalo is an Italian brand from near Naples, and have been making pasta since 1789, using durum wheat and bronze dies for shaping.  I’m pretty sure these pasta tubes are rigatoni, as they’re large, ridged, and slightly curved tubes, and they are delicious served al dente.

Here’s an easy recipe for a summery pasta dish, using Garofalo pasta and Cirio passata…

Summer Vegetable Pasta

(Serves 2 people)

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Ingredients:

200g Garofalo Pasta

250ml Cirio La Classica Passata

1 Courgette

1/2 Red Bell Pepper

1/2 White Onion

1 Garlic Clove

4 or 5 Sundried Tomatoes

1 sachet Oloves Olives

Method:

– Boil the pasta for 10-12 minutes.

– Meanwhile, chop and fry the courgette, pepper, onion and garlic until soft.  Add the olives and sundried tomatoes.

– Add the passata to the vegetables to make a sauce, and simmer for a few minutes.

– Stir in the cooked pasta and serve immediately, with a sprinkle of cheese.

This is my third Degustabox so far, and though it isn’t as packed full of sweet treats as the last one, this is still a brilliant box, and once again everything in it is vegetarian!  It was a pleasure to try so many new products and brands, and I’m pleased to have discovered a few new items to add to my weekly shopping list.

If you fancy giving Degustabox a go, you can get a £3 discount by entering code MZIIQ at the checkout.  You can also follow Degustabox on Twitter and Facebook for more exclusive offers.

Naomi x

PS. You can check out the rest of my Degustabox reviews here.

*This Degustabox was sent to me by Degustabox for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*

National Vegetarian Week

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This week, Monday 19th May until Sunday 25th May, is National Vegetarian Week.  All around the country individuals, companies, educational establishments, and communities are taking the challenge to go vegetarian, and in the process are having fun discovering new foods, and learning how to adapt their everyday favourites into easy vegetarian alternatives.  As a vegetarian myself, National Vegetarian Week is something that I completely advocate, and I hope some of you will be taking the challenge too!

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I stopped eating meat, poultry, and food containing gelatine thirteen years ago when I was eleven years old, and a year later, aged twelve, I stopped eating fish.  The thought of mass animal slaughter sickened me, and I just couldn’t bring myself to support it anymore, so I made the decision to go veggie.  Luckily I didn’t find the transition too difficult, as my mum was very supportive, and to be honest I’d never liked meat anyway, so I didn’t (and still don’t) miss it at all.  In fact, I disliked meat so much that I was a fairly fussy eater as a child, and becoming vegetarian actually broadened my horizons and encouraged me to try new foods, and ultimately improved my health.

Since then I haven’t looked back, and I now spend my days experimenting with new foods and recipe ideas.  I use a lot of Quorn products in my cooking, and will often make traditional meat dishes with Quorn instead of meat, so I never feel like my options are limited.  Halloumi cheese is also an excellent ingredient to use if you want a meaty texture, and is especially great in the summer when grilled or barbecued.  Being vegetarian helps me save money too, as meat alternatives and soya products tend to be cheaper than meat, and you can get quite a few meals out of one packet/bag.  A definite positive when you’re on a tight budget!

As those who follow me on Instagram will know, I post a lot of images of my vegetarian creations, so I thought I’d share a few with you, just in case you’re taking the veggie challenge and want a bit of inspiration.

Veggie MealsAubgergine, Potato and Chickpea Curry (Vegan) / Sunday Roast / Quorn Moussaka / Grilled Halloumi with Mint and Coriander Cous Cous, and Tomato and Chickpea Salad / Courgette, Sundried Tomato and Mozzarella Creamy Pasta Bake / Jerk Quorn Chicken with Rice and Peas / Homemade Tomato, Basil and Olive Pizza with Salad / Christmas Dinner / Tempura Vegetables with Noodles and Sweet Chilli Dip

If you’re interested in getting involved with National Vegetarian Week, you can visit the official website here, where you can find out more, and download useful literature to help with your quest.  You can also check out what local vegetarian events there are in your area.  I’ll personally be visiting one of my favourite vegetarian cafés, who are offering a free dessert with every main course!

Also, keep an eye out later this week for another installment of my Vegetarian Eateries posts!  In the mean time, you can check out Vegetarian Leicester: Lunch, for ideas of where to get a yummy vegetarian lunch in Leicester.

Will you be taking part in National Vegetarian Week?  How are you doing so far?  I’d love to hear your stories!

Naomi x

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