Posts filed under ‘reviews’

Pulsin power packed snack bars

Pulsin power packed snack bars. That’s quite a mouthful for a post header isn’t it!
It goes some way to describing the virtues of a great new range of snack bars we’ve discovered from Pulsin and Beond though. If you’re looking for a healthy, nutritious post-workout/after school/mid-afternoon slump snack there is something to suit everyone, even baby Luca.

When I say new I actually mean ”new to us” as Pulsin have been around for 10 years making snack bars that contain 100% natural ingredients and no refined sugar. Three University friends started experimenting with recipes for high energy protein balls and 15 years later their current range now includes Raw Chocolate Brownies, kids’ Fruit Oat bars, organic Beond fruit bars, Protein Boosters and a variety of protein powders. All Pulsin products have been designed with guilt-free snacking in mind and maintain energy levels througout the day. Pulsin bars are gluten free and vegan so it’s no wonder they’ve been winning awards since 2010 and are currently in the running for the occolade of Best Vegan Snacks at the VegfestUKAwards2017 (vote here until 1 October).
We first came across Pulsin’s Beond bars in Roots Coffee and Community, our favourite local cafe. Alongside the beautiful home-made cakes and delicious sugar laden brownies sit the Beond Organic fruit and nut bars. We do sometimes indulge in baked yummies but E always knows that if he wants an extra treat for the walk home he’ll receive a no to everything except a Beond fruit bar. When I looked more closely at the wrapper I was intrigued to see Pulsin and Beond is a Gloucester based company. So I contacted them to see if Chief Taster E could review their bars seeing as we’re practically neighbours {wink}. ”Of course, what would you like” came the reply and before we knew it an assortment of snack bars arrived at our door.
E eating Pulsin porridge oat bar_copy 4B

Porridge Oat fruit bars
E couldn’t believe it when I said yes to trying one of the Pulsin porridge oat bars straight after breakfast and before school. Especially as he’d chosen the Orange Choc chip bar (”can I really have chocolate at breakfast?’) he asked aghast. I explained it was a ok because Pulsin use no-added sugar chocolate chips and that a porridge oat bar was really like having a healthy, power packed second breakfast. As he ran off to call for his best friend on the way to school he did seem to have an added spring in his step!
Collage - brothers reviewing Pulsin porridge oat bars_copy 4B
What’s more 17 month old L was delighted (if not a little confused at first) when I allowed him to have a bar of his own. Pulsin porridge oat bars have 30% less sugar and double the fibre of other oat bars. They were nice and crumbly too so no worries about chokey oat bites for toddlers.
L eating Pulsin porridge oat bar_copy 4B

Raw chocolate brownies
”Can I have another Pulsin bar as my after school snack?’‘ E asked eagerly. He chose a Peanut choc chip brownie bar and stopped several times on the walk to school to check it was still in my pocket for later. The Pulsin brownies are pretty hearty for a 5 year old’s tum so E didn’t mind giving L a couple of nibbles. They tasted sweet and crumbly and treat-like despite all their healthy ingredients. The inventing of these vegan brownies is a complete mystery to me as they are free from gluten, dairy, soya, refined sugars and non GM yet taste great (contrary to any attempts I might make to re-create them).
Collage - brothers sharing Pulsin Raw Chocolate Brownie bar copy

The real measure of how nice the Raw Chocolate Brownies are is in getting my husband G to sample them. He generally rolls his eyes at my efforts in the kitchen to ”make cakes without any of the stuff cakes should have in them”. His verdict on the Pulsin brownies? – ”pretty nice, I like that slightly bitter dark chocolate taste. When brownies are really sweet I just want to keep eating them.  I felt satisfied after eating this.”.

Protein Booster bars
Of the three kinds of Pulsin bars we tried the Protein Boosters are my personal favourite. Partly because I know they’re so good for me as an after swim snack choice and as a low carb/high protein option when I’m feeling that mid afternoon slump. But mostly because I like their sweet, fudgy texture and flavour (Mint choc chip being my all time fave). Interestingly enough G was not so keen on the fudgy texture and described them as ”a bit powdery”. I put this down to his hungry scoffing of a whole bar post badminton training whereas E (who also loves them) and I prefer to chop the bar into nibble sized squares to share (sucking and savouring or chewing hungrily depending on how we’re feeling!). Anyway the couple of Protein Boosters we had were scoffed so quickly I don’t even have photographic evidence of us eating them. I do have this pic instagrammed from the pool after my visit on Tuesday though.
Collage - Pulsin protein booster bar
I was curious to see how the Pulsin Protein Boosters compared with other protein bars I’ve tried. They’re definitely a great choice for me after my weekly gym/swim trip and putting this little chart together is helpful for seeing just how sabotaging squares of my favourite mint chocolate are (albeit 72% dark chocolate) for curbing the carbs and keeping within a daily calorie range.  I’ve been keeping a food log using an app called Myfitnesspal and found it extremely helping for making me more aware of the nutrient levels of the food I eat.   I’ve finally shifted some of my post-baby weight just by starting the day with a protein rich egg based breakfast and not snacking in the evening.

I’m really interested in Pulsin’s range of protein powders too as I’m trying to eat a lower carb diet and increase my plant based protein intake. There are some gorgeous recipe ideas on their website which is helpfully broken down into vegetarian/vegan/snack/lunch/dinner options. Even if you’re not looking to order something the Pulsin website is well worth a browse.  I have pea protein powder and no-added sugar chocolate drops on my new recipes wish list and these simple chickpea and beetroot burgers are top of my recipes-to-try list as I usually have most of these ingredients in the house.  Hoorah for forthcoming food experiments.  I’ll keep you posted on how they turn out!

Disclosure: I received free samples of the Pulsin bars to review. I was not required to right a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own (with a little help from E and G)

September 30, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

1 cup, 2 cup, 3 cup more

Any parent will tell you that leak proof cups are rarely that and waterproof bibs always end up as wet on the inside as they do on the outside. It’s such a talent these small ones have for creating a mess! Baby L is no different of course but, unlike when his brother E was a small baby, we do have a leak proof cup for him to shake about and drop from the high chair. The OXO Good Grips sippy cup withstands all shaking challenges and L only ends up soaked still because he loves to glugg and then squirt the water out through his gappy front teeth!

The OXO Good grips sippy cup has two soft grippy handles which L mastered surprisingly quickly and these simply click onto the bottom of the cup and can be removed easily for washing. In fact our handles are removed several times a day as they ping off when dropped from the high chair but despite the many flings there is no sign of damage to the cup yet (although the force of the impact which is stronger than a sip does make the floor wet).
Our big boy E took to using his blue OXO Good Grips twist top bottle when he was 1.5 years old.  L already loves the green one too, mastering the straw at just 9 months old!  The OXO Good Grips Twist top bottle is really handy for when I can’t give L a sippy cup because there’s no room for him to tip his head back, like travelling in the car. For the same reason E likes it at bedtime because he can drink from it lying down.

Of course the great thing about the twist top bottle is that it’s fab for any age (I take it swimming and would love it in a larger size). E takes a water bottle into school to avoid night time wakings with leg cramps and it’s good to know the twist top bottle won’t leak into his book bag. It has a lovely grippy handle so we do tend to carry it just in case E doesn’t twist the top right round – leaks do happen due to user error sometimes! We notice such a difference in energy levels and concentration on the days E forgets to take a water bottle in so it’s great he loves his bottle so much (especially with ice in which is an easy fun add-in through the wide necked top).

So when L is not flinging his water bottle around you can imagine the flare with which he eats his food. The base of L’s highchair is always peppered with flung food for us to tread into the floor! We keep this OXO compact dustpan and brush close to hand after a quick sweep around. It’s so cute that L likes to try and clean up after himself and it’s just right for small hands! (forgive me for exercising quality control on my photos when I just could not make the daily food mess on our kitchen floor look good!)

When it’s really messy and we have to call in the big guns (this OXO Butterfly mop) it takes no time at all to clean up. This mop makes getting into all the awkward corners easy and with little effort wipes away even the stickiest mess (porridge the prime culprit there). It’s just as well as L’s really perfecting his throwing arm!

Disclosure: I was sent these OXO Good Grips products to try. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

July 17, 2017 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

OXO stocking filler ideas for your favourite foody

I’ve been really organised about Christmas this year (versus last year when I was pregnant) and thanks to on-line shopping from my phone while baby naps I will not need to join any last minute scrums in town this week. If you feel like you’re running out of shopping days/energy/inspiration here are some suggestions for you from the fabulous OXO Good Grips range (and with 2 days left for next day delivery too!).
photogrid_1481548472360
I like to gift practical items that can be loved, used daily or passed on. Sometimes we make edible gifts to enjoy and share (no time for that this year sadly but there’s a terrific Christmas Pudding truffles recipe here!). When the OXO elves sent us this lovely selection of pressies to try out I immediately thought of simple every day uses to bring something tasty to the Christmas table. We used our apple corer, stainless steel bowl mixing bowl, heat resistant silicone spatula and lemon squeeze and store to make a fruit and nut filling for baked apples. The house smelled delicious and baby L was able to share the apples with us. If you have gluten free guests at your Christmas table these would make a simple mince pie alternative (with a big dollop of cream on the side I’m sure they wouldn’t even mind the missing pastry).
collage-baked-apples-dec-2016
The 4 cup angled measuring jug featured in my stocking fillers review a couple of years ago and is still one of our favourite kitchen essentials. I use it most days and unlike every other plastic measuring jug I’ve ever owned it hasn’t cracked from pouring boiled water into it time and time again. This week alone I’ve used it for making gravy, coconut milk from powder, vegetable stock, measuring rice and cooling boiled eggs. E’s favourite use of course is for melting jelly cubes. Yesterday we used it as a receptacle for scooping salt and flour out with our measuring cups. Ours is a 1 litre jug but it’s also available in 1 cup 250ml size and a 2 cup 500ml size.
measuring-jug-copy
I’ve always wanted a set of measuring cups to save the time I spend converting recipes using cup measurements into grams. The arrival of this lovely set was timely as the battery has run out on my kitchen scales and E had asked about making salt dough christmas tree decorations. We used Mommypotamus’s salt dough recipe which was simple with our 1 and 1/2 size cups. Whether upsizing or downsizing recipes these cups are fab – the largest is 1.5 cups and all 6 cups have a convenient half line measurement inside. There’s a handy spreader for ensuring an even level for dry contents which doubles up as the hook for hanging your cups away afterwards.
photogrid_1482186902577You may have noticed the stainless steel mixing bowl in both our makes. We’ve reviewed it before here and it really is the one-man-band of mixing bowls. E no longer wears it as a hat but it’s only a matter of time before L does. I’m sure he’ll happily turn the bowl and spatula into a drum kit soon.  It’s my number one recommendation for a kitchen gift for Christmas, birthdays or weddings.
e-with-mixing-bowl-copy
I know what you’re thinking, a mixing bowl will not fit inside a stocking. In which case my ultimate stocking filler buy would be the lemon squeeze and store and deserves a mention all of it’s own (especially as I forgot to add it to my picture selection above).photogrid_1482228456583

It’s just £4 and strains seeds and pulp while directing the lemon juice out of the holes and directly onto your salad, fish, cooking pan, water and more. When you’re done, the Squeeze & Store will hold the other half of your lemon, keeping it protected until the next time you need a splash of citrus.

All items are available from the OXO website (use links above for details) except for the Stainless steel mixing bowl which is available from several other cookware suppliers. The photo used in my review is from Mamahome.com.  There are a whole heap of other kitchen gadget gifts in the Good Grips range.

Disclosure: I selected these items to try.  I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

 

December 20, 2016 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

making courgetti and squoodles

courgetti-on-fork-for-blogWhen I was pregnant with Luca I felt constantly hungry and found myself reaching for starchy carbohydrates to fill me up and calm the acid reflux that fired as soon as I ate anything vaguely wholesome.  7 months on from birthing my 9lb something boy I’m breastfeeding, sleep deprived and carrying him back and forth on the school run so I haven’t been too careful about what I’m eating and make poor food choices when I’m tired (which is most of the time!)   My  baby weight is creeping up rather than down so I’ve resolved to rely less on sugary foods to get me through the day and get back to a healthier way of eating.spiralizer_courgetti-for-blog
I’ve been trying to use vegetables more to replace lazy bread and pasta options.  I was using a vegetable peeler to make courgetti but finding the result rather mushy.   A cheeky plea to my friends at OXO Good Grips to try their 3 blade spiralizer has since resulted in this divine dish;  made in minutes from just a few simple ingredients (a friend’s home grown squash, spinach, sunblush tomatoes and parmesan cheese).  What’s more E was able to help make the ‘squoodles‘ and I found they were better for being made ahead and left to dry out a bit (which was just as well after spiralizing every vegetable in the house created enough noodles for 3 meals).
e-with-spiralizer-for-blog
The OXO Good Grips spiralizer comes with 3 different blades for two sizes of noodles and one for slicing.  It’s really simple to set up and has a suction pad underneath to help secure it to the table.  I felt happy to let E use it alongside me as the vegetables felt securely attached and it’s operated by turning a handle so small fingers and sharp blades are kept well apart.  We did find that half way through it tipped and lost suction and moved but this may have been due to our technique with E’s body weight coming at it from a different angle than a standing adult would.
collage_spiralizers-copy-for-blog
We worked our way through courgettes, squash, cucumber and carrots and there’s a video here for other vegetables to try it out with (onions, apples even cauliflower to make a low carb alternative to rice).
collage_spiralized-cucumber-copy
spiralizer_lunch-with-halloumi-copy
We also tried the OXO Good Grips hand held spiralizer which is brilliantly simple to use and clean and takes up hardly any room in the drawer.  It’s much more affordable at £15 but a bit more work than the £40 three blade spiralizer.
collage_hand-held-spiralizer
Although the pictures suggest it can be used for harder vegetables like carrots and beetroot I didn’t find it as good.  I think spiralizers are the sort of products where the cautious among us would opt for the cheaper hand held version and not be disappointed by it’s effectiveness but also not realise the endless possibilities and ease that comes with buying the table top spiralizer.  I vowed to only keep one so will be passing on the hand held one to a friend.
squoodles
Tonight’s spiralized butternut squash for squoodle bolognese..

Disclosure: I was sent the spiralizers to try. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

November 29, 2016 at 9:37 pm Leave a comment

when life gives you lemons…

..make lemonade.  And it couldn’t be simpler when you have an OXO Good Grips citrus squeezer in your drawer.  Chief Taster E happily squashed and squeezed our lemons before mixing in some sugar and sparkling water.
”mmm delicious Mummy.  Can I make apple juice now?”.
So we did.
Cold pressed apple juice and plenty of arm exercise to boot!
collage-oxo-lemon-squeezer-copy-4bIn the days before children I would have happily made all sorts of things to try out my new lemon squeezer. For today making lemonade will suffice but other favourite recipes where it would certainly come in handy are:  lemon cream surprise, gluten free lemon drizzle cake , lemon curd sponge cake, Quinoa tabouleh and Elderflower cordial.


Disclaimer: With thanks to Oxo Good Grips who sent us this lemon squeezer to try.
I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

October 10, 2016 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

making cookie pressed biscuits

Chocolate cookies 4BMaking biscuits for friends on Day 3 with the Kindness Elves was so simple thanks to our Oxo Good Grips Cookie Press.
Cookie press butterflies 4B
Dozens of perfect-every-time mini cookies easily pressed into a range of 12 different shapes using a one-click handle that even a 3 year old can manage.
Collage - cookie press 4B
The secret to perfect biscuits is all in the dough, made by following the recipe in the booklet provided to the ounce.  Substituting any of the ingredients (like thinking self raising flour will do in place of plain the first time you use it) will be courting disaster.
Trust me, I know!
cookie press dough 4B
chocolate cookies colling on rack 4B
Disclaimer: With thanks to Oxo Good Grips who sent us this cookie press to try.
I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

January 5, 2016 at 12:10 am Leave a comment

refreshing Taylors Tea ice cubes

Taylors Tea x3 boxes 4B
Gloucestershire is a long way from Yorkshire which could be why I’d never heard of Taylor’s tea before. I have my friend Jennie to thank for the wonderful discovery of Taylors Sweet Rhubarb tea when we caught up recently.
Taylors logo
We nattered for so long my tea was cold by the time I finished it. I could easily have mistaken it for a delicious rhubarb cordial if I’d not seen Jennie boil the kettle to make it.

A quick visit to the Taylors Tea website reveals their herbal infusions are created in partnership with the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and use only natural ingredients and no added sugar. The tangy sweet flavour of the natural rhubarb in this blend is partnered with refreshingly sharp apple and the peppy zing of blackberry leaf.
Taylors Tea ice cubes 4B
Inspired by cold tea and a preference for giving E herbal teas instead of juice or squash I decided to make Sweet Rhubarb ice cubes. One teabag in a mug of tea left to stew and cool easily filled two small ice cube trays. We simply covered our ice cubes with water the first time before experimenting with sparkling water to create a home made version of our favourite thirst quenching bubbly drink.
Taylors Tea ice cubes_trays 4B
Taylors Tea - E tasting 4B
We also sampled Spiced Apple tea from the new herbal tea range. The lusciously fruity apple pieces blended with aromatic star anise, punchy ginger root and the warming sweetness of cardamom and cinnamon was evocative of the sweet smell of Chai tea. It’s become a firm favourite as a caffeine free alternative – I love the Chai like spice blend but dislike the black tea used in other blends (don’t tell anyone but I still sometimes add a drop of milk to this fruit blend!). Taylors tea bags 4B
Finally we tried Green Tea with Strawberry and Vanilla. I’m not a fan of green teas but drink them in a medicinal kind of way on the two days I’m at work (ie. I hear they’re good for you but I can only tolerate the blends that have had some fruit thrown at them). Taylors Tea Green Tea has a distinctly fresh and natural strawberry flavour and smells delightful. Sadly for my palatte it’s still a little too green to buy it again. Nevertheless it’s not going to waste – I’m still making a medicinal morning green tea by pairing it with one of my other fruit blends or mixing some cocoa powder into it!
about-flavour
Disclosure: Taylors Tea sent me 3 tea blends to try. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

August 23, 2015 at 7:55 pm 1 comment

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