Here are my December reviews for products that I’ve been sent to try out this month. Getting to try out new foods, gadgets and products is a lovely part of being a blogger. This month I enjoyed raspberry vodka from Aldi, gorgeous apple and ginger juice from Cawston Press and healthy greens powder from Lean Greens, as well as loads of other samples.
Aldi sent me this lovely range of drinks this month. The Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva (£5.29) is a rich, oak-aged rioja that has won loads of awards including the International Wine Challenge 2015 and was commended by Decanter.
Kraken dark spiced rum (£19.99) and I have a bit of a history. My sister brought it for Christmas one year and it all went by in a blissful haze. It’s lovely with ginger ale (our favourite) as well as cola. It is really flavourful and has 11 spices including cinnamon, ginger and cloves – making it perfect for wintery cocktails.
Aldi also sent Tamova Raspberry Vodka Liqueur (£10.99). It’s made with Scottish raspberries and triple distilled British grain vodka and has a lovely flavour. We like it with apple juice and ice or added to prosecco.
The Maynards Vintage 1989 Port (£19.99) is dark and fruity and perfect for Christmastime. Who doesn’t love sipping on a little glass of port with a mince pie? We couldn’t help but open this bottle, but apparently it is best left another 10 years. That’s a willpower I simply don’t have!
Check these out! Pasta has been much maligned lately in favour of spiralised vegetables, but now there’s another option. Explore Asia has turned edemame beans and soybeans into pasta ribbons. They taste very pleasant and stay firm – perfect for topping with sauce. We made a cauliflower alfredo sauce for the edamame and mung bean fettuccine and it was lovely. A really nice alternative that’s organic and gluten-free. Available at Ocado for £3.29, as well as other whole foods shops.
Lean Greens sent me their lovely green wonder-powder that is filled with spinach, wheat grass, barley grass, cholorella, carrot powder, spirulina, broccoli, Siberian ginseng and green tea and it basically allows you to consume a table full of vegetables in seconds. I’ve been taking it for months and I really look forward to using it every day whether mixed with water (it tastes quite pleasant), in a green smoothie, a smoothie bowl, or sprinkled onto my porridge. Lean Greens is great for getting your vitamins and minerals, aiding gut health, helping to beat bloating and for extra energy. It’s helping me get back on track after a bit of a gluttonous Christmas!
Graze do a great range of healthy snacks, and here they’ve made a fab Champagne Christmas pudding (£8) for people who don’t like Christmas pudding. It’s lighter and beautifully flavourful. It’s fruity but not stodgy and is topped with white chocolate and freeze-dried raspberries. They also came out with a delicious mince pie flapjack that’s perfectly spiced and full of fruit and oats.
I’m originally from Canada, so I love a quality maple syrup and I was delighted to receive this maple syrup sample box from the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, with different grades. It’s interesting to see how the grades and colours really make different flavours. From extra light (collected at the beginning of the season), which is sweet and delicate, through to the Amber (last to be harvested) which is rich and stronger in flavour. My pancakes and waffles are very happy with these!
This gorgeous Nudo olive oil is stone ground with sage, infusing it with such aroma and taste. We’ve used it all Christmas on roasted sprouts (I have a serious roasted sprout addiction – I must have made them at least 10 times already!), potatoes and drizzled over stuffing. It was a highlight for our Christmas cooking and we’ll definitely be getting some next year, too. Nudo also sent me this lovely herbal tea, which is made from herbs and flowers from their olive grove and is perfect for unwinding and smells divine. Nudo sage oil (£7) and tea (£5).
When I lived in Canada we used to cook with corn flour and cornmeal quite a lot. I loved cornbreads, spread with honey or dotted with jalapenos, but I haven’t made them in years. PAN sent me a few bags of their harina pan precooked cornmeal – which is treated with steam so it can absorb liquid – making it different to polenta.
In South America they use this flour for their traditional arepas (corn rolls), which I made last night. They’re really easy and I cooked them on a griddle pan to give them a nice char. Rather untraditionally we ate them dipped in baba ganoush. I checked my phone while cooking my first batch and found out that I’m a grand finalist for a food blog award and promptly got all excited, left the kitchen and burned my first arepas. Oops. This flour is also useful for empanadas, pancakes, porridge, bread and even brownies!
The flour is easy to use and is quick. You just have to mix it with water and salt, knead for a few minutes then leave it to rest for three minutes before shaping and frying.
PAN flour is gluten-free and has no chemical additives and is available at some larger Tescos as well as ethnic shops and online.
We’ve loved trying these Wonderful nuts over Christmas. I adore almonds and I’ve whizzed most of these into almond, date, coconut and cacao balls – they’re perfect for it. The pistachios have great flavours and we really enjoyed both the salt and pepper flavour and sweet chilli. They’re definitely moreish and were nibbled quite quickly by our Christmas guests. Available from £1.99 at Ocado and other supermarkets.
Aren’t these party items adorable? They’re from French company My Little Day and are so cute. We used them for my daughter’s 4th birthday party on New Year’s Eve and they looked so sweet on the table – not too girly, not too ungirly. They have an amazing range of quality quirky party goods, from party glasses and balloon cactus to felt fairy wings and flamingo candles, all at reasonable prices. Check out their instagram.
Cawston Press generously sent me a load of their brilliant juices. My family unanimously LOVED them. The kids love the ginger apple juice in particular and us grownups have been making cocktails with them all Christmas. The Apple and Ginger goes beautifully with honey whiskey, while the Apple and Rhubarb has been perfect with both gin and vodka. Yup, we made these lovely drinks naughty.
Cawston Press are known for their healthy soft drinks and blended juices that aren’t from concentrate and we’ve bought these juices often. I was in the supermarket this morning and spied their Beetroot, Carrot, Apple and Ginger juice so that is next on my list to try when we finish these juices. I love that vegetable juices are going so mainstream now and are getting easier to find. Cawston Press 1L juices are available at most major supermarkets.
Two Chicks are shaking up pancakes in advance of this year’s Pancake Day (9th Feb). They sent me this innovative batter shaker to try out and my kids loved it. We have a LOT of pancakes because they love making them so much. For this, they just had to shake it up (which they did while dancing around the kitchen). The bottle has a packet of dry ingredients in the top and liquid egg in the base, so you just have to pour the flour into the bottom, close the lid and dance/shake it up for a few seconds. It’s easy to use and makes tasty pancakes. It’s available at Tesco for £4.00 per bottle, which makes 8-10 pancakes and the mixed batter lasts for a few days.
Until I was sent this Truestart coffee, I hadn’t realised that the amount of caffeine in coffee can vary wildly from 10mg – 250mg! That’s quite shocking. But TrueStart guarantees that you get 95mg of caffeine per 2g serving so you can control your caffeine intake better. It’s 100% pure Colombian arabica and it tastes really nice. We swapped it out for my usual coffee this month and really liked it. It was developed by triathletes as a caffeine controlled alternative to sugary energy drinks. It’s £5.95 a jar and available from Truestart.
Get Fruity sent these gluten-free vegan fruit and oat bars. My kids absolutely loved them and they’re like thick fruit leathers. Get Fruity bars are nicely chewy and not too sweet with no added sugar, just sweetness from the fruit. Available at Holland and Barrett for 85p.
Disclosure: I was sent these products to try but all opinions are my own.