Sunday, 7 February 2016

Marks & Spencer Gluten Free Brownie Bar

So it's Day 7 of my gluten-free snacks week (I must be setting a record here with having a review 7 days in a row!) and here we have the M&S Gluten Free Brownie Bar. I've already reviewed Costa's Gluten Free Brownie which is the best available in the how does this M&S version compare?

Sadly it's not as good, but that's not to say it's not a nice brownie in its own right. Nothing could compare to the Costa one unless they nicked the recipe, quite frankly!

This brownie is very moist and chocolatey, there's definitely a good amount of dark chocolate in there, but for me the texture was a bit lacking. It was a little too...eggy, or something, I can't put my finger on what exactly was up with it, but it wasn't as moist or melt in the mouth as the Costa version. Presumably it has a different ratio of ingredients, I can't tell unfortunately as I no longer have the wrapper. The white chocolate streaks running over the top of it were a nice touch.

Overall, this is a pretty decent Gluten Free brownie, if you're in M&S and in need of a chocolatey fix you can't go wrong with it, but I actually prefer the gluten free mini chocolate cakes they've recently introduced. Look out for them near the sandwich aisle!

7 out of 10.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Primal Pantry Paleo Bars (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Recently I was offered to review some bars from The Primal Pantry, and since at the time I was on my sugar-free diet I thought I'd give them a try. The Paleo Diet as many will know eschews refined sugars and grains in place of natural fruit sugars, nuts and so on. To that end these Primal Pantry bars are made with mixtures of dates, dried fruits, nuts, coconut, cocoa etc. They're rather similar to Nakd bars, but have less fruit and more nuts. Below are my thoughts on each flavour:

Coconut and Macadamia:

I love coconut, and I love macadamia nuts (despite my on-off allergy to them) so the two in one bar sounded like heaven. And this is indeed a very tasty bar, it's very filling and satisfying, and reassuring to know it contains healthy fats from the macadamias and coconut. Luckily no allergic responses! Very tasty indeed. 8.5 out of 10.

Almond and Cashew:

I love cashews as much as I do macadamias, but sadly they don't always love me back. I chanced it this time and luckily had no problems! This is a very tasty bar indeed, sweet and chewy with a nice creamy flavour from the cashews and slightly nuttier savory edge from the almonds. 8 out of 10.

Apple and Pecan:

This was an interesting one...the fruity Apple flavour was lovely, and even though I'm not generally a fan of pecan nuts they worked very well with the apple. Refreshing and filling. 8 out of 10.

Hazelnut and Cocoa:

The first chocolatey bar of the bunch, this one let me down a bit in that it wasn't quite "Nutella in bar form" like I'd hoped, but it was still a very tasty bar despite that! It's like a richer nuttier version of the cocoa Nakd bars. 7.5 out of 10. 

Brazil Nut and Cherry:

This one was interesting...I'm not a great fan of Brazil nuts but they worked well here combined with the cherry..nice if you like a sharper, sour taste. 7.5 out of 10.

Overall, I have to say these Primal Pantry bars are all very tasty and filling, and a nice alternative to the omnipresent Nakd Bars, but flavour-wise they're a mixed bag. Some of the combinations are perfect such as macadamia and coconut, whilst others don't quite work. I think it's due to the different types of nuts used, some of them don't translate well in bar form. Still these are tasty bars and if you're avoiding gluten, dairy or refined sugars they're a perfect on-the-go snack.

Friday, 5 February 2016

IKEA Blueberry Gluten Free Cheesecake

Whilst visiting IKEA over Christmas I spotted this Gluten Free Blueberry cake at IKEA, in the imported foods section. They had loads of Swedish goodies there but this excited me the most...I've been off gluten for a while now and it's impossible to find a gluten free cheesecake for some odd reason! The closest you'll come to one is Almondy Tarts, which incidentally this is very similar to.

Like the Almondy tarts, the base is made with almonds and apricots. I think perhaps they're made by the same Swedish company.

The filling is very creamy and with a nice cheesy tang, although it wasn't quite the same as real cheesecake. It was tasty though. The blueberry filling on top is sweet and fruity, but perhaps not the best fruit to use in a cheesecake...I think something like Passionfruit would have worked better. Still, this was a very tasty cake and felt like a real treat, speaking as someone who is avoiding gluten. There's a serious lack of good desserts out there for us!

Overall, if you're avoiding gluten this is definitely worth a try, it's a bit different and makes a change from the regular Almondy tarts you can get in most supermarkets now.

7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Marks & Spencer Gluten Free Salted Caramel Millionaire Slice

Recently Marks and Spencer have added a few new products to their gluten-free range, including brownies, cookies, cakes...bravo to them for that! Since salted caramel is still the "in thing" in snacks, it's no surprise they have jumped on the bandwagon. And unlike the Boots Salted Caramel slice I reviewed last year, I can report that this version from M&S was much, much better. Hurrah! (Apologies for the bad pic but I was on the bus - it was hard to get a decent shot!)

The slice consists of a base of buttery polenta style shortbread, salted caramel, chopped hazelnuts and a layer of milk chocolate. All I can say is...this slice tasted fantastic! The base is rich and buttery, softer than regular shortbread but just as nice. The caramel layer is also buttery sweet with a nice lick of salt that is neither overpowering nor was "just right". The hazelnuts brought a bit of crunch and nutty flavour but didn't overpower the caramel at all. The chocolate tops everything off perfectly with a creamy cocoa kick, making this slice the perfect combination of buttery, salty, creamy sweet flavours.

Whether you're gluten free or not, this is one seriously tasty Millionaires Slice that I'd recommend to anyone! You can find them in the sandwich section of M&S, there's also a gluten-free brownie bar and a Chocolate Cake slice.

8.5 out of 10. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Costa Gluten Free Belgian Chocolate Brownie Review

It's here...part 3 of my Gluten Free Snacks Bonanza Week! Today's review is for the deliciously squidgy, gooey Belgian Chocolate Brownie sold in Costa stores all across the country.

I've been eating these brownies for years now so I don't know why it's taken me so long to actually review them....I guess other snacks got in the way!

You can find these Brownies near the tills at every Costa in the country - even the smaller ones, which is mighty handy if you're in need of a gluten free fix! - they're plastic wrapped to differentiate them from the regular "gluten" brownies sold underneath the pastry counter. They cost £1.70 and are rectangular rather than square. The ingredients are a mixture of dark chocolate, eggs and ground almonds, with some tasty white chocolate chunks added in for good measure. They even have a hint of coffee!

These are hands down the best gluten free brownies I've tasted, and taste just as good as - and even better than - regular brownies! They're gooey and fudgey with a deep chocolatey flavour, which is nicely balanced with a little creaminess from the white chocolate. The added coffee compliments the chocolatey flavour but doesn't overpower it, bringing a nice rich, toasted finish to the brownie.

Overall, I have to say this is the best gluten free brownie out beats all supermarket brands hands down and I wish I could buy them in bulk! (Dear Costa; please give me the address of your supplier!) All my friends agree this is as good as a regular gluten-containing brownie, some even said it was better! If you're gluten-intolerant and haven't tried one of these yet what are you waiting for...make it a priority!

If youv'e tried these please share your thoughts in the comments...are they the best gluten-free brownies around? Is there better out there? Let me know!

9 out of 10. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Udi's Peanut Butter & Coconut Cookies

So for the second post of my gluten free snacks week, here we have another Udi's Cookie variety: Peanut Butter and Coconut. I know a certain coconutter who would no doubt loooove these cookies if it weren't for the peanut butter in them that would make her go pop :(

Like all Udi's Cookies they come in a plastic tray with two sections of five cookies. The cookies are super chunky and thick. These were a tad more crumbly than the Pecan & Maple variety.

However they tasted a lot better! The coconut flavour was delicious, with a delightfully light, toasted flavour. The peanut butter flavour didn't come through as strongly, which is a good thing as it meant the coconut had more of a chance to shine. The cookies had a lovely buttery, indulgent taste, and I thoroughly enjoyed them dunked in a cup of coffee (which proved tricky since they're so thick and chunky!) Overall, these are a definite gluten free winner!

8.5 out of 10. 

Monday, 1 February 2016

Udi's Gluten Free Dark Chocolate, Pecan & Maple Cookies

So this week I've decided to review only gluten free snacks. I'm sensitive to gluten and have been off it for a while now, and have been a bit disappointed with many of the gluten free choices out there. It's mighty hard to find a good gluten free cookie in the shops, in fact it's impossible to find the gooey, buttery fresh ones, so we're left with only the dry, shelf stable kind to nom on :(

One of the new kids on the (gluten free) block is Udi's, a brand popular in America that has only recently made its presence felt on UK shores. They make various bread rolls, bagels, toaster pastries, and more. My local large Tesco stocks a few of their Cookie varieties, which usually cost £3.50 (too much for my budget!) but when they're half price I sometimes buy a pack.

They're currently half price in Tesco again and for £1.75 I decided to give this "Dark Chocolate Chip, Pecan Nut & Maple Flavour" variety a try.

You get ten cookies in a plastic tray split into two sections. This may not sound a lot, but the cookies are quite fat and chunky, more so than regular cookies that contain gluten.

They had a pleasant maple aroma although I could tell they were  "factory" made cookies rather than fresh...they just had that smell about them.

They tasted pretty decent...the texture was soft rather than crunchy or crumbly, with a strong vanilla edge. I could taste the maple and the pecans but oddly the dark chocolate chips didn't come through very well. Somehow, the flavours didn't really work together, maybe it's just a duff combination but it didn't taste all that fresh or moreish to me, I didn't really feel that urge to keep eating after one. I know Udi's make better flavours though because I've tried their Salted Caramel cookies before which are LOVELY. I think I must have got either a duff batch or a duff flavour here. Udi's also do a peanut butter and coconut variety, which are also nicer than these.

Overall, I have to say Udi's do make some nice cookies, they're different to most "crunchy" shelf stable cookies and most "chewy" fresh cookies, they have a soft, comforting texture which is entirely different but very nice when you get the right flavour combination. I wasn't a fan of this particular flavour, but I do like the Salted Caramel ones so my recommendation would be to try those first. I'll have a review of them up eventually!

7 out of 10.