Hi everyone! This is My Kitchen Sink, a place for me to let you know about the new products that I’ve been trying out. I’ve received some interesting samples lately, from some crispy crisps to cereals made from a sweet Peruvian root; from amazingly rich oils to a heartrate monitor.
Yacon from Pertwood Farms and Of The Earth Superfoods
Yacon is a traditional Peruvian root that boasts a whole host of health benefits. It’s a tuber that grows in the ground like a potato or Jerusalem artichoke. Yacon is a prebiotic and is rich in inulin, an indigestible sugar, so the syrup that can be made from it is as sweet as honey, agave or maple syrup, but without so many calories. That may be where you’ve heard of it before: it’s the famous syrup from Beyonce’s syrup/cayenne diet a few years back. But don’t let that put you off. Yacon is really popular in the USA and Japan, but Alara have only recently been able to make it available in the UK, after proving it’s health benefits.
Yacon can be used in many different ways, as shown by Pertwood Farms’ range. Their Yacon Muesli, Granola and Porridges are absolutely delicious. Not overly sweet, they’re lower calorie since they’re sweetened with yacon. I was also sent yacon syrup, which I’m looking forward to baking with, but, if I’m honest, I’ve been simply dipping a spoon into so far and dribbling over my porridge. It’s malty, sweet and really good. It does nip a sweet tooth in the bud, too – even though it is low in calories. Another great snack is the dried yacon flakes. I’ve been nibbling at those as well. They’re crispy, sweet and delicately pear-like. Keep an eye out as I’ll be using them on the blog soon.
You can even try growing it yourself! I really wish I was more green fingered…
I’m always rather dubious about sweeteners, but this locally-grown (on an organic farm in Wiltshire) Peruvian root is naturally sweet but low-GI since the sugars aren’t absorbed by the body. As it’s a pre-biotic it’s also good for gut health and healthy digestion. I’m delighted to have been introduced to it. You can get the products at Alara Wholefoods, larger supermarkets and local health food shops and the Yacon Syrup is available from Of The Earth Superfoods.
Walkers’ newest offering are these Sunbites snacks, which contain no artificial colours or flavours and are 30% lower in fat than standard crisps.
The Vintage Cheddar and Onion Pitta Bakes were a big hit with my kids, while the adults really enjoyed the more grown up flavours of the baked Oven Roasted Onion and Rosemary cripsy crackers. Also sent were a packet of crackers with a little pot of Sundried Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Salsa. Providing crackers with a pot of dip is genius, it gives you an extra flavour hit and it helps to stop you reaching for cheese to go with them.
With no artificial colours, preservatives or flavours, these are a great lighter alternative to crisps. I really liked the deeper, multigrain flavour of these crisps and they didn’t taste too salty or over-flavoured. Available in most major supermarkets at around £1.89 per multipack of 5 bags.
Williamson Tea sent me a few boxes of their pesticide-free teas to try. My mum was only in the house for a matter of seconds before she spied the box of Ginger Grove, a black tea infused with fragrant ginger and excitedly put the kettle on.
The cheerfully-named Ginger Grove, Lemon Sunshine, and Mint Garden blends contain teas sourced from a single one of their Kenyan farms, combined with real mint, ginger and lemon pieces, in nylon bags to aid infusion.
I’ve had Williamson Teas before and they’re fabulous. But not only are they tasty, the company are committed to sustainability and funds projects through their Foundation that care for both the farms and the local communities.
Each 20-bag pack of the teas cost £5.50, available at major supermarkets. The aroma of these is amazing. I’m thinking that these would be amazing as flavourings for icing or truffles! Watch this space for tea-related recipes.
Beets Blu Heart Rate Monitor
The people at Beet Blu recently contacted me to try out their Wireless Smart Heart Monitor. This is a really useful gadget that is discreet and syncs up to your smartphone to continuously measure your heart rate while you exercise. This high-tech but tiny monitor uses ECG-based technology, starts in seconds, and is compatible with most smartphones. To get started, you just need to set it up (takes seconds) with a fitness app like RunKeeper, Digifit, Strava, Runtastic, MapMyRun etc… and turn on your phone’s bluetooth. I used RunKeeper and it was a simple process. Then, put on the monitor with the chest strap and get exercising! The strap is good quality so it won’t slide down and you’ll barely notice it at all. When you’re all set up, the monitor will then graph your heartrate, the calories that you’ve burned, current heart rate zone etc… You can compare against previous workouts to keep yourself challenged.
The software is simple to use. You enter your details: sex, age, weight, etc… and it will personalise your results. You can then track your activity, such as running, spinning, crossfit etc… alongside weight loss or gain, and you can also set heart rate “zones,” so the monitor will let you know if your heart rate falls above or below your target – very useful particularly if you’re new to exercising.
I’ve never used a heart monitor like this before, but it’s a great way to get motivated. The Beets Blu Wireless Smart Heart Rate Monitor retails for just under £30.
Beets Blu Key Finder
Beets Blu also sent me their wireless bluetooth key finder. I constantly lose my keys. It’s embarrassing. I’m forever searching for them around the house, only to find that they’re snuggly nestled in the furthest reaches of my handbag. Where they should be. It’s a running ‘joke’ at home. I won’t even start on the time I thought I had lost my passport. This little device is tiny and clips onto your keyring. Sync it up with the iphone or android app and the next time you can’t find your keys, you simply press a button on the app and it will beep to alert you to where your keys are. But what makes this device even more special? You can use it like a remote control. You can remotely take photos, videos and turn music off and on.
It will run down your battery if you use the app all the time, but you only need to turn it on when you want to use the gadget or find your keys. Or, anything you’re prone to losing. Kids 😉 ?
The Beets BLU Key Finder retails for under £20.
Mokhado Oils recently launched in the UK and sent me their starter pack, which includes:
Avocado Cold Press Extra Virgin Oil 250ml/8.4fl oz
Apricot Kernel Cold Press Extra Virgin Oil 250ml/8.4fl oz
Macadamia Nut Cold Press Extra Virgin Oil 250ml/8.4fl oz
These beautifully-packaged heart healthy oils are from the Limpopo region of South Africa and are produced through a skills sharing partnership between established family-owned groves and local small farmers. They use the freshest ripe fruit and nuts, which are hand picked to produce this high quality range of extra virgin, first pressing oils.
I’ve loved these oils. Perhaps unusually, I’ve been using the avocado oil as a facial moisturiser and a hair oil. For years I’ve used edible beauty products, so this fits perfectly. A tiny bit of this avocado oil on dry hair and it really conditions the ends.
Macadamia nuts are a bit of a rarity in the UK, so I’ve never seen the oil before, though it is a real growing trend. It is very very light, and is also great for hair and beauty uses. But I’ve been using this one for cooking mainly. It is higher in oleic acid (a good fatty acid) than olive oil, and is good for cooking at high temperatures, as well as in dressings. Very pale-coloured and only faintly nutty, while a little bit buttery.
I’m saving the apricot kernel oil, since I don’t want too many on the go at once, but I’m looking forward to trying this one as well. It, too, can be used for both cooking and beauty.
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Disclosure: Thank you to the above brands who have provided me with samples. As ever, all opinions are my own, and I was not paid for these reviews.