Graze Snacks Review

At the start 2017, 02 Priority customers were given the offer of 6 Graze snack boxes for 99p including delivery. There was no automatic subscription or hidden charges, so a pretty good deal especially as each box normally retails at 59p.

Inside the box…

  1. Veggie Caesar

The snack contains sour cream and onion kern pops, cheddar cheese bruschetta and edamame beans, totalling at 4.1g of protein. This was one of my favourite snacks, super delicious and flavoursome. The sour cream and onion flavour comes through pretty strong, it is one the reasons I really enjoyed this snack. For a little box, it contains 8.5% of recommended protein intake for women, so pretty good given its size. It is also quite light, so you can have it on your commute home and still have dinner when you get home. Thoroughly enjoyable!

  1. Banana Protein Flapjack

This snack contains three banana-flavoured protein flapjack made with rustic rolled oats and mixed seeds, totalling at 7.6g protein. These snacks are pretty small so it was surprising that I could have this flapjack for breakfast and not require anything else. It goes very well with coffee, as it rather sweet and maybe slightly too banana-y on its own. What I enjoyed the most about this snack is that it was a simple flapjack, not over-complicated with millions of different seeds and dried fruit. The protein level is again pretty high for a little flapjack which could pass for a dessert, so impressed with the snack again.

  1. Lightly Toasted Pistachios

This box contains gently roasted Californian pistachios with a touch of salt, totalling at 3.3g of protein. I don’t have much to say as it is literally a small box of pistachios with a sprinkle of salt. I enjoy pistachios so I enjoyed the box, but if you are ordering from Graze I wouldn’t recommend this as you can get pistachios for a better price on Amazon etc.

  1. Punchy Protein Nuts

This box contains chilli and lime cashews, raw almonds, blanched peanuts, totalling at 8.9g protein. I love spice so for me this box was a delight (very proud of the rhyme)! The box had a lot of flavour just like the veggie caesar one and I found it to be quite filling as well. The blanched peanut compliment the spicy one, so overall great box.

  1. Sweet Memphis Barbecue

This box contains salsa peanuts, wild rice sticks and BBQ flavoured peas, totalling at 6.6g of protein. For a box that was not my favourite, I found this to be pretty addictive and left wanting more when finished.  I didn’t think the flavour was that great of the nuts, it’s more the coating/batter which gave it its addictiveness. The flavour is still savory, although more akin to sweet and sour than traditional savory snacks like the others. Not the best, but still enjoyable.

  1. Salted Fudge & Peanut Cookie

This is the only sweet box, containing baked salted peanuts, redskin peanuts, mini cocoa cookies and Cornish vanilla fudge, totalling at 7.1g protein. This box was great! I loved the flavour, it actually tasted like a salted caramel and peanut dessert. The little fudge squares were to die for and visually appealing. However, I don’t like eating these when I am looking for a healthy snack. This is because it isn’t amount the number or calories or protein but rather  the sources from which they are coming. The mini cookies and fudge squares aren’t exactly what I would call healthy sources. So great product, wouldn’t buy it if I was clean eating and if I did, treasure it for a desert or special occasion.

All in all, Graze offers some great tasting products in some funky packaging. However, I don’t see myself ordering from there again because I just don’t feel healthy eating Graze snacks. I think this is because the snacks like Salted Fudge aren’t healthy and some of savory ones contain sugar and other ingredients I don’t want to be putting into my body. In addition, for snacks that are not uber healthy, Graze is not cheap. Thus, I would rate Graze snacks as a 3 out 5 in respect to healthy eating and 4 out of 5 in terms of the snack in comparison to other foods.

Goodness Project Subscription Box Review: February 2017

This is a review of the Feb 17 Goodness Project Box I received, see photo below.

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1.Deliciously Ella: Cashew & Ginger Energy Ball 

What is this?

“The Cashew and Ginger combination is our simplest ball, with just four ingredients – dates, cashews, oats and ginger – but it’s bursting with flavour, especially with the kick from the ginger. It makes a wonderful snack, especially for that mid-morning pick me up.”

Review

I had this as a snack an hour before my gym workout and having saved it as the last item to try from the box, I was pleasantly delighted. Deliciouslly Ella is interesting brand and I was initially a little sceptical of the product as I get the feeling that with these brand often it is style over substance and they are usually more expensive than regular versions of the product. This married with the factor that I am not a huge fan of energy balls as they tend to be largely made up of dates, I was not looking forward to having the product. However, I found the taste of the energy ball really quite delicious, it was very gingery and spicy and even the texture was more course than other date based products. I was also surprised that it kept me going throughout my 30 minute boot-camp workout. You don’t feel full up in the way you would if you had say peanut butter or a protein bar as a snack but it most definitely sustains. All in all, a winning product for me and I do think it deserves all the attention it gets, so 5 out 5!

2. Doves Farm: Lemon Zest Cookies 

What is it?

These award-winning cookies are baked in our dedicated gluten free bakery in Wiltshire that does not use gluten, milk, peanut, egg or soya. We combine zesty lemon and fragrant lemon oil with our special blend of naturally gluten free flours and some sugar. Our cookies are dairy-free so we use sustainable palm oil, sourced from certified Colombian farms where wildlife and habitats are protected. Since 1978 our original organic ethos remains at the heart of our business and is shared by our customers, farmers and suppliers worldwide.”

Review

I had these cookies as snacks, sometimes as an accompaniment to coffee and other times by itself as a breakfast cookie. Initially, I was disappointed to receive these because I thought my box would be full of all healthy snack and cookies aren’t exactly staple health foods. However, I understand that the Goodness Project brand is less about nutritional health food and more  about sustainable eating, trying new foods and pick me up. Actually, this in itself is a  great brand (despite my initial misunderstanding) and as a result, I have sent two one of hampers as gifts and they have been thoroughly enjoyed. Going back onto the cookies now, they are extremely fragrant and that what I think really stands out, I have never had such lemon smelling cookies and I quite enjoyed it. I never normally opt for peanut free or gluten free cookies, so trying them was an experience for me. The texture is different to regular cookies, more grainy if that makes sense! I quite enjoyed these cookies and were a lovely treat. I would rate these 4 out 5, because even though they were enjoyable, I don’t think they are stand out the way in which the Deliciously Ella energy ball is.

3. Hasslachers: Hot Chocolate Kraft Tube 

What is it?

“Luxury hot chocolate drops, made from Cirollo and Trinitario beans, which makes the perfect Hot Chocolate drink, these rare beans are unmatched in flavour.”

Review
I am not a big hot chocolate drinker so I initially thought that this product was going to a fail for me. However, upon opening you find little chocolate drops which look like Cadbury’s buttons. These drops are made of 100% pure cacao which as you will know is a super-food bursting in magnesium and anti-oxidants. This is great because it means I did not need to have this product as a hot chocolate. Also, they are quite bitter so I can imagine having to add honey or a sweetener to make the kind of hot chocolate that one is used too. I used these droplets as toppings to the Haagen Daaz Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream and sprinkled on my porridge. Thoroughly enjoyable but I am doubtful I would every purchase again, thus give it a rating of 3 out of 5.

4. Love Corn: Smoked BBQ

What is it?

A premium roasted corn snack that’s SUPER TASTY, ANTIOXIDANT RICH, SUPERBLY SEASONED AND DELICIOUSLY NON-GMO.Ya’ll ready for some BBQ goodness?  Smothered in smokin’ hickory, it’s all done nice and slow… you just don’t rush into something this good. Ya’ll better be kickin’ off those boots and stayin’ awhile.

Review

I love love love roasted corn, so this product did not last long at all. The quality and texture of the corn tasted just like any other roasted corn products e.g. Corn Nuts. The flavour was different as normally you find salted or chilli and lemon. The BBQ was flavoursome yet not spicy and not BBQ sweet either. I thoroughly enjoyed this product, apart from the seasoning I am not quite sure what differentiates this product from other corn snacks. I ate this product as a snack whilst watching Netflix, a real hit for me! I would give this product 5 out of 5.

5. Meridian: Organic Morello Cherry Fruit Spread 

What is it?

Organic Morello Cherry Fruit Spread, sweetened only with Organic Apple Juice Concentrate. Contains only naturally occurring sugars from fruit.”

Review

This is a product I would never purchase of my own accord because it wouldn’t appeal to me. I am a fan of raspberry or loganberry jam. Nevertheless, I was impressed with the product and found it worked better than regular jam in porridge because it was more chunkier (it has actual pieces of cherry in it). The cherries aren’t very sour and the apple juice makes a great accompaniment mixed into porridge. I am very satisfied with the product, not sure I would use it as a spread on crackers though! I would rate this product 5 out 5.

6. Rude Health: Brown Rice Crackers

What is it?

Brown Rice Crackers. Why are our Rice Crackers so much tastier that rice cakes? Maybe it’s because they’re thinner, so they’re crispier and more satisfying. Maybe it’s the whole grains of organic Piedmontese rice we use – they’re the best we’ve ever had. Whatever it is, Rude Health Rice Crackers are the perfect crunchy nibble with a little something on them, or even bare naked straight from the pack (just keep the curtains shut).”

Review

I ate this product in the same way I consumed the love corn snacks, whilst relaxing and watching a movie. I thought as these were plain brown rice crackers I would need to put some kind of spread or butter, but I actually quite enjoyed them on their own, as crisps. The ones that I received in the box were a bag of mini rice crackers so that is probably what also made having them on their own quite fun and tasty. I would rate this product as 4 out of 5 with the caveat they are not anything special or innovative. They are just mini brown rice crackers which I found enjoyable.;

7. Ombar: Coco Mylk Buttons

What is it?

Everyone loves chocolate buttons, but we’ve created these little bursts of deliciousness that love you back! Amazingly, these totally dreamy and creamy buttons are dairy and refined-sugar free. They are made to the same recipe as our super-popular Coco Mylk bar and even contain probiotics to help keep your tummy happy & healthy. At 25g per bag (and only 149 calories!) they’re the perfect chocolate treat for little kids and big kids alike!

Review

I love chocolate so to find a chocolate that will also benefit your body in some way is a dream. I felt that the quality of chocolate in this bag was high and it tasted delicious. You could not taste the probiotics or to put it another way if you had this blindfolded you would not know that this was a “healthy chocolate”. I had these on my commute home from work as a treat and thoroughly enjoyed it, I would give it a 5 out 5 rating and definitely purchase again.

8. Miracle Matcha: Health Mix-In

What is it?

“USING SOME OF THE MOST NUTRITIOUS NATURAL FOODS FROM AROUND THE WORLD, WE’VE CREATED A DELICIOUS AND VERSATILE SPRINKLE ‘TOPPING’ CRAMMED FULL OF FABULOUSLY HEALTHY INGREDIENTS INCLUDING THE ANTI-OXIDANT BOOSTING GOODNESS OF OUR SPECIAL WHITE TEA MIRACLE MATCHA.”

Review

Until this product, I had never heard of white tea matcha so it reassures me that purchasing a foodbox was a good idea as I have the opportunity to learn and try different products. This health mix in is a powder not dissimilar to the various flax seed ones you can buy at Holland and Barrett. I used it as a sprinkle on my breakfasts and mixed into some juices. You can’t really taste it in my experience of using it, but its good to know you are getting extra nutrients and try white tea matcha. I found the product enjoyable and innovative, I would rate it 5 out 5 and purchase again.

 

Horizon: Is everything we know about the universe wrong? (March 2010)

Even though, I am not a scientist, I found this programme particularly exciting because you look at it from a theistic perspective then the fact that we can’t answer many of these questions is because there is a God out there!

I thought I would share some points I put down;

The first problem with the Big Bang theory…

Is that in any normal explosion, we do not see a uniform temperature forming and all the aspects of the end product look different. However, on Earth we have a relatively uniform temperature range and all aspects look fairly similar.

How was this problem resolved?

The theory of inflation was created. In the theory of inflation the world slowly expands and once a uniform temperature is created, a quick bang occurs and the universe is created.

But what caused the inflation?

Nobody knows.

What is dark matter?

When rotational speeds of galaxies were measured, scientists saw that they were moving way faster than what they expected. This also contradicted Newton’s laws. There simply is not enough gravity for galaxies to be moving at this speed.Therefore, there must be another force like gravity which is causing this.

In particle physics, there are 24 types of particles but according to the concept of super symmetry there are another 24. These other 24 spin in different ways and are invisible (in the sense that they do not emit or reflect light).

Dark matter is almost like an invisible gravity and these invisible particles are claimed to be dark matter. However, the problem is these particles are said to pass normal matter like us all the time so how can they be measured.

Well currently research is being done half a mile underground and last December two unusual incidents might be indicating there is dark matter, However, two incidents is too few to prove anything.

If you are wondering how all of these theories has come about and how scientists know all this – it relates  to maths. Dark matter is the missing piece to what maths predicts and it puts the standard model back on the scene.

However there is another fundamental problem.

Rather than slowing down, as the standard model suggests, there is now evidence that the universe is accelerating in expansion.

The big bang is still banging. And yes you’ve got it there is another dark element to be added. Dark energy. This is the new force powering the universe.

With this as well they do not now what it is. All they know it is dark and expanding. One suggestion is that is could be a type of odd gravity that is making two distant thing repel. And yet this was something that was created to make sense of the mathematical modelling of the Big Bang theory in real terms.

There must be something in nothing. Vacuums and the mere emptiness between galaxies is now said to contain dark energy. It has a weird property too. As it causes the universe to expand, all the gaps are being filled with more dark energy. It is actually increasing.

Sounding simple, here is the creation story so far;

1) Universe starts with a bang

2) Then it suddenly inflates

3)Dark matter forms

4)This helps galaxies emerge

5) Then the universe starts to expand slowly

6) Dark energy takes over – stretching the universe further

Yet, there is another challenge…

There appears to be a distortion in the light coming from energy backgrounds, it seems to be coming from a kind of movement. This does not fit the standard model in the mathematical model and in reality.

All the galaxies appear to be moving in an inexplicable way towards one another on a particular point. It is caused by a mysterious and unseen force. Cosmologists call this the Dark Flow.

It suggest that the universe is part of a multiverse. It also supports the theory of inflation because inflation never completely ends. So what it is trying to say is that in some areas inflation has finished but in others it is still happening.

Could this be evidence that we are not alone?

Is the cosmology changing?

Is the standard model correct?

The programme discusses all of these points in further detail. (Please note I am not a science student and my knowledge of science is limited so some of my information may be wrong. USE THIS INFORMATION AT YOUR OWN RISK!)

The Secret to Healthy Living

 

I recently heard Jessi Pavelka live; he is an American fitness expert who often appears on Sky TV channel in programmes about weight loss. What I liked about Jessi is that he is realistic guy that focus on holistic life changes. His model involves dividing being healthy into 4 quadrants: “Eat, Sweat, Think & Connect”  and by focusing on the individual’s particular lifestyle he looks to bring small changes in each quadrants that in the long-term make a difference as well as encourage individuals to take further leaps.

The  “Eat” quadrant as you would expect concerns food and what we eat. Of course, his recommendations will vary person to person as he doesn’t belief in a one-size-fits-all model, he gave some generic tips. First, he stressed the importance of drinking water to all. This sounds very basic and no matter how many times I hear it, I still have days where I have had two cups of coffee and no water. The second tip is to make your meals more green, where possible when you see your meal whether it’s ramen or a burger add more greens. If this is not possible as you are not a fan of greens, seek to make your meal as colourful as possible. The idea being if you have a meal that you can’t or do not find anything green to add to it, add more colourful fruit & vegetable e.g. tomatoes, orange or beetroot.

The “Sweat” quadrant concerns movement and exercise. He suggests that you take time to look at your lifestyle and implement small changes, could that be getting off a tube stop earlier? Adding a walk in your lunchtime break? He is all about small about that get you moving without you even noticing and building on this model.

The “Think” quadrant refers to mindfulness. He was fairly brief on this quadrant, highlighting the need for anti-stress practices such a meditation to reduce stress, Mental health is equally important and a key contributing factor to physical health and thus needs to be included in the healthy living quadrant model.

The last quadrant “Connect” refers to the individuals you surround yourself with. So if you are on a journey to weight loss or a dramatic lifestyle change, it is important to connect with those on a similar journey so as to keep you motivated.

I really liked this four quadrant model, I think it effectively covers the whole idea “healthy living” and is a great to think of it especially when you are at the start of your journey. However, I found his specific comments a bit generalist, hard to maintain in reality and unnecessary. In my opinion, the secret to healthy living is two words: fun and convenience! I will explain this with particular reference to every quadrant below but the general idea is if you want a healthy lifestyle make it fun and convenient to YOU. This will become clearer as I discuss the quadrants below.

So “Eat”, rather than always finding ways to abide by rules such as have I added something green in my plate.  Sit down and have a real think, for every meal of the day what are things you like to eat. For example, I really enjoy pan fried fish and veggies at dinner. After you have done this, go through the list and cross out those that are unhealthy such as say fast food, pizza etc. Finally, with the food left over put a star next to the ones that are convenient to organise. For example, if you enjoy a couscous salad at lunch, (this would not be crossed out as it’s healthy), is this convenient for you to organise? My answer would be yes, the night before it takes 5-10 mins to make it, as couscous grains need to just be added to hot water for 2-5 mins. Remember, this has to be specific to you, Pavelka, me or anyone else cannot give you this list. You can then use that final short list of food to prepare meals for say 60% off the time. When I used to be really into health and fitness about two years, I would clean eat using the foods that were healthy, tasty and convenient for me for two days and then have one day of where I eat what I like, the cycle would continue.

I think Jessi’s ideas on Sweat are not particularly challenging or ones that you would actually see real results from because you need to be constantly assessing small things to add and subsequently either forgot to add anything new or give yourself too much. I think the way to make sweat for you is to understand yourself and your body (this is why I think healthy living has a lot to do with finding yourself). What is it that you enjoy doing that is physical? And nothing is a definite lie. Do you like lifting weights? HIIT sessions? Circuit training? Dancing? Yoga? There is only one way to find out what you like – try them all. This is exactly what I still do till today, I try something new once a month (of course when you start out you will probably try new things every week). Last month I tried “Beyoncerobics” out, an aerobics/dance class to all Beyonce tracks and I had a ball! Also, another important thing to remember is just because you did not enjoy say running or lifting weights does not in the future or as your grow these preferences would not change. When I first got into gym-ing, I hated yoga, I found it slow, boring and ineffectual on me. However, now three years later I love yoga, probably because I discovered this great yoga school, dedicated 6 consecutive weeks to it and since that point my goals have become more about well-being than body transformation.

Once you start discovering what you enjoy, what is fun for you, you can seek to put these into your routine. In order to do this in a sustainable way, make it convenient for you to do. When I was a student living at home, my gym membership was at a local gym. Then I started working (about 40 mins tube away), I realised my gym attendance tailed off. The reason being it was too much effort for me to make it to this local gym even though my favourite body attack class was held there. Thus, I moved my membership to a gym near work. So my exercise became part of my workday, I did it after work and then went home. I went on a learning curve of discovering new classes, for example spin at this gym was awful so I no longer went spinning.The combination of exercises you enjoy and the convenience of participating in those exercises, is going to make you sweat and add more than adding a small walk at lunchtime.

The third quadrant Jessi was pretty vague on as I mentioned before. This is an interesting one because when I started off my journey into health and fitness, the only mindful activity I engaged in was praying. I believe in God so praying and lighting a candle every night was part of me. I never did this as part of my lifestyle as I have done this for over 5 years now; I never even concerned this to be part of mindfulness. Over the year, I tried things like ‘Headspace’ app out but nothing really sustained until it dawned on me that my act of praying is how I got my peace/mindfulness. The point being, I think this is a personal quadrant and again I will stress the need to dabble in different programmes till you find that part of your routine that gives you peace and space. It could even be that extra 10 minutes early you wake up to have tea and sit in silence or a meditation track you listen to on your way to work.

The last quadrant is “Connect”, I would go one step further than Jessi on this one. I think we all are time scare with pressure to do lots of different things. Healthy living is another pressure on your time from meal prep to exercising. That’s why i think a more extravagant strategy should be opted in the connect quadrant. Think about who are the people that are adding positive value in your life or are living a lifestyle you admire/connect to. Hold onto those people and focus on those relationships. Any relationships where you see the person’s views as backward looking or not bringing any positivity in your life, just cut it out. As an absolute I say this, there is no need when we are all time-scare to waste time on such people. If that leaves you lonely or bored or feeling like you have empty time, great! Look online, find events, meeting-ups and happenings around you! This is great way to surround yourself with thoughts, people and ideas that you aspire to or want to be a part of. Eventbrite is great, I habitually find events that look interesting and sign up, and the best thing is you can filter by location and time so as to make it convenient for yourself!
So remember the secret to healthy living – make it fun and convenient for you to do it! Make it specific and unique to your characteristics and needs and remember this will be continually growing and changing, so have a refresh once in a while!

Cinnamon Soho Review

I have recently founded a Dining Club with am to try as many new restaurants around London and to have fun! The first event was help at Cinnamon Soho, which is a not so new venture by celebrity chef Vivek Singh which brings together Indian Cuisine in an anglo light i.e. it is a fusion between Indian and English. Unlike their other restaurants, Cinnamon Soho provides a more casual place to dine over two floors in the mid-price range. In this post I thought I would talk about my experience of running a group dinner party with them and the food! (I wish I took photos in hindsight!).

Juggling a party of 20 is not easy, but I found the service by Cinnamon Group and the care in which the dealt with the booking very impressive. They required a deposit of 25% of the minimum spend which is subtracted from your total bill. In return, we were given the whole basement floor with a restaurant representative that came to tell us about the group. I liked their level of service as I was quite nervous, my first time organising a professional dinner of this size, and they were always there to answer my queries as well as amend restrictions such as total bill has to be paid by a maximum of 4 cards. They also allowed us to have different seatings plans per course, which many restaurants had a problem with.

We opted for the £25 per head menu called the “Soho Joho” and had a special rate of £5 for any cocktail because of the size of our group. The food was good, but personally I prefer Dishoom or Kricket as I didn’t think there was enough spice/masala. Others found the food to be too spicy or just the right amount, so I guess it is one of those hit/miss things. For me as an Indian though, I’d like the dishes to have more flavour or to be more innovative in the way that we see in other restaurants.

In our menu the starters came shared, which was a good way to encourage networking among the group and to try a range of their dishes. Our shared starters included:

Green Pea Hummus with Flatbread

This was delicious, but we did not feel it tasted largely different to normal hummus. It would’ve been great to have more green pea in it.

Crab & Curry Leaf Balls

This is one of their most popular starters and it is simply divine, I really enjoyed this. The crab comes through quite strong and there is a lot of flavour and fragrance in this starter.

Indo-Chinese Style Chicken

This was my favourite dish, the spice are very strong. It has a beautiful fragrance of burnt chillies and the chicken is tender. I definitely recommend this and the crab balls as starters.

Quinoa Salad

This quinoa salad is accompanied with watermelon and hoisin sauce is a bit of a dark horse, it sticks out because it isn’t necessarily indian, english or ubiquitous combination. However, combined with the Indo-Chinese Chicken & the Crab and Curry Leaf Balls it was a delight. The dish offered a cool and refreshing contrast to the other dishes and was a real success.

Garlic & Plain Naan

There isn’t very much to say about this dish, it was simply a naan. There was no special flavour or taste to it, the way in which the Masala Kulcha at Kricket is. It went down well with the food.

For mains, everyone was allowed to individually order their dish and there was a selection of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes on offer. The most popular dish among our group was the Old Delhi style chicken curry with rice. I did not opt for this main, but did try it and the consensus among most people was that it was too fiery.  

I went for the Paneer 65 which is a stir fry paneer with chillies and curry leafs (yes they love curry leafs at Cinnamon!). The dish was a bit dry and I don’t think ordering a naan or rice on the side would have improved it. I think I would need a more wet curry or vegetable dish to accompany it. Also, as it is just paneer it can get a bit much without anything to break it. Again like the dish, the paneer was pretty spicy. Perhaps the quinoa salad would make a grand accompaniment to the dish!

There is also a good selection of dessert, something that even Dishoom seem light on. I opted for a plum cake, however, I don’t think that is what  I got (!)  The others who went for the plum cake got a tart of some sort with a plum topping. I received a chocolate based tart with berries (not complaining!). The dessert was my favourite part and I could’ve eaten too, it was simply chocolate-y and divine!

All in all a great venue for group parties, the staff were attentive and co-operative. I think the food works really well where you order the right thing like the Indo-Chinese Chicken, overall I would give a 4.5* out of 5 rating!