Wholesome Food Review – Primal Kitchen

primalkitchenbarsThere was a time when the only wholesome, natural, not-filled-with-crap snack on the market was a Nakd bar (and even then you’d be lucky to find them in a supermarket of any insignificant size!) – but now there is a huge range of raw, natural snack bars on offer to keep you full and happy and satisfy afternoon sweet cravings or serve as an impromptu breakfast. They’re all free from refined sugars, chemicals, preservatives or artificial sweeteners; best thing for me is, most of them are gluten free (yay!) and for the lactose-intolerant some are also dairy free.

I found Primal Kitchen bars difficult to resist when I came across on particular flavour, cherry and brazil nut. Two of my favourite foods!  A substantial-sized bar too, not at all skimpy on content and packed with good energy. They’re a fab snack but I also think they’d be good for breakfast on the go. I normally have a mix of hazelnuts, coconut, chopped dates and berries for breakfast so in fairness, it’s basically a more portable version of what I usually have!

Sweet and satisfying and full of lovely chunks of brazil nuts – totally in love. As I say, I love brazil nuts, they’re one of my favourites. I’ll eat them raw on their own but sometimes it is nice to have a variation (other than having them with raw chocolate) and this was a really pleasant departure from what I’m used to. I’ll definitely be purchasing the coconut and macadamia version (I LOVE coconut and macadamias) but there’s hazelnut and cocoa and almond and cashew, too.

I think wholesome, natural convenience food is getting better and better as the months go on and I’m really excited to try more. Seen anything you think I should try? Give me a shout!

Rose xx

Wholesome Food Review: Pukka Vanilla Chai


I’m a little divided when it comes to herbal teas. Some I taste and I am absolutely in love – others I feel I’m ingesting an unpleasant hot potion similar to the kind Harry Potter drinks to turn into another person!

So, I can certainly recognise that herbal tea is not for everyone, or at least that there may be likes and dislikes when it comes to tea.

This tea however is like a big warm hug. It’s just the right amount of spicy cinnamon and warming vanilla. I actually think this tea is sweet enough on its own but I reckon it would be really nice with a little honey or agave. Even a touch of milk, although I’ve yet to try this! It infuses really well too – I left the tea bag in and it didn’t go too strong yet when I took my first sip it wasn’t weak or watery either.

I’m going to try some more Pukka teas – so let me know your thoughts or if there are any you’d like me to review!

Rose xx

How to eat well – frugally

fruit-and-veg2-534x356In my post on 13th January, I discuss the expense of living and eating well.

Here are my top tips on eating ‘clean’ and nutritiously on a tighter budget.

  1. Shop Local. I’m not talking about these fancy ‘farm shops’ where a raspberry meringue sets you back £3 (although I do LOVE wasting money in those places). Most people think that going to your local grocer, butcher or fishmonger is expensive in comparison to the supermarket but often they are surprisingly competitive – don’t forget they now have to compete with the price wars going on at top level to keep local custom. You also have the added advantage of the produce being locally sourced and often organic, even if it is not advertised as such. Delicatessens stocking local cold meats and cheeses are also fab – there’s a lot of fairly-priced artisan food out there nowadays which is sourced right here in the UK.
  2. Look Online. Brands stocked in Holland and Barrett, Tesco and Win Naturally are mostly available online for a reduced price or in wholesale packs (ebay is good for this). Often if you place a large order you also get free delivery, so it’s win-win. The internet is also fab for buying dried fruit and raw nuts, which are frankly extortionate at the supermarket and only ever come in tiny bags! Specialist foods such as gluten free flours, oils and natural sugar alternatives are also more readily available.
  3. Buy in Bulk. Whether that’s through a mail order meat site such as Muscle Food or through your local butcher, as I say in my post about prep if you are lucky enough to have the freezer space, it’s easier (and cheaper) to think ahead and stock up with a lot of food at once. It will keep fresh and you can get excellent quality meat and fish at much lower prices when you buy a lot of it.
  4. Don’t discount Aldi and Lidl. So many more people are latching on to the Aldi and Lidl frenzy now but there are still many who are slightly sceptical when it comes to buying produce. I buy loads of basics (such as oats, unsalted butter, whole milk) from Aldi; but it’s also great for genuine specialist continental foods such as big juicy olives, rich cheeses and spicy meats. The fruit and veg is cheap as chips and they’ve even started an organic range now which unsurprisingly is also perfectly priced. Both Lidl and Aldi also do a great range of raw nuts – Lidl even has a ‘pick n mix nut bar’ where you can choose your own.

All in all, eating naturally will always cost you a little more than if you relied on processed foods. However if you can afford it, the benefits are incredible. Your body is your most precious asset!! I hope that this post demonstrates that it can be done on a budget.

Any more ideas I have missed on living and eating well frugally? Share them here!

Rose  xx

Wholesome Food Review – Lick Frozen Yoghurt

It’s still pretty chilly, yet who doesn’t fancy a bowl of ice cream now and again?

Previously there was nothing on the market if you wanted a cool sweet treat without eating a load of sugar and/or preservatives. A truly nutritious, healthy sweet treat was non-existent.

Say hello to Lick – which I found to my delight in my nearest Sainsbury’s Local last summer. Whilst the rest of the office were tucking into ice-cream, I happily opened the lid on two little pots of frozen joy – one Blueberry and Raspberry, one Banana and Honey. Each was so sweet and yummy – and had the perfect taste and consistency. I was full from eating the 2 little pots as well, which is likely down to the protein in the natural yoghurt used as a base for these tasty little desserts.

So why are these better for you than conventional frozen yoghurt?

Well frozen yoghurt, contrary to popular belief, is generally not that good for you. Whilst it may be ‘0% fat’, as with most ‘health foods’ sporting this claim, the lack of fat is made up for with copious amounts of much more unhealthy sugar.

Lick frozen yoghurts however are different – they are 100% natural and are sweetened with beet sugar and honey, plus of course the sweetness you get from the fruit. This means guilt-free, tongue-happy and body-friendly snacking, which is you ask me is a winner whether it’s scorching hot or freezing cold outside!! They’re available in Plain, Banana and Honey, Blueberry and Raspberry and Strawberry and Elderflower flavours.

Have you tried Lick? Let me know your thoughts!


Rose xx

Gluten-free – it’s not for everyone


I talk about fad diets on here and my hatred of anything that encourages you to cut anything out of your daily routine completely or starve yourself as I believe that these are harmful and unhealthy – I think that they normalise a difficult relationship with food.

You may have noticed from the blog that I don’t eat gluten. I don’t eat any foods with gluten in them because I have IBS as a result of my anxiety disorder, which means I struggle to digest food in general because of my constant state of anxiety, but especially ‘heavy’ foods like bread and pasta. It’s not simply an issue with gluten; I wouldn’t be able to eat any gluten free breads and I struggle with potato too. So essentially it’s not intolerance as such and more an inability to process heavy foods rather than an intolerance to gluten in an isolated way.

Some people have gluten intolerances or allergies (known as Coeliac disease), very much like lactose allergies and intolerance. These are serious medical conditions which cause people to become very poorly if they consume the foods in question – in the case of allergies, all precautions must be taken to ensure sufferers’ foods have not at all come into contact with any gluten. In the same way if I eat heavy foods I feel very poorly but Irritable Bowel Syndrome is still an illness with very little known about the causes, triggers and treatments and therefore it’s a grey area compared to the above.

Contrary to the seriousness which is widely associated with nut allergies, we’ve become very ignorant and dismissive about gluten allergies and intolerances and often group them as the same thing, or worse group them with those on fad diets who don’t have intolerance or allergies at all. Similarly, it’s more difficult to tell now whether somebody has a medical issue, or whether they’re just avoiding the food group altogether because they have read an article in a magazine and decided to go on a fad diet. Unfortunately, all those who are avoiding gluten for genuine reasons find themselves subject to disapproval and a fair amount of eye-rolling, tutting, ridicule and sometimes anger (yes anger – it’s happened!)

Gluten-free has become the latest fad diet on the market. Celebrities have taken it up in force and magazines rave about the benefits including a ‘flat stomach’ and the fact that gluten causes undesirable effects in even the most robust digestive system. This often means that when I turn down a sandwich or tell somebody I’m not able to eat that cake or biscuit, they snort and say ‘Oh, you’re on low carb?’ or look at me disdainfully because clearly I’m just being a faddy eater and being incredibly inconvenient (having had an eating disorder, I’m used to this look as I’m sure you can imagine!) Generally, people don’t believe me when I tell them about my IBS and how it affects me (and I really don’t fancy going into detail about my bowel movements to convince them that I am telling the truth!).

I think this misunderstanding is because the popularity and promotion of gluten-free has led to people who have no history of intolerance and who have not been to see a doctor self-diagnosing an intolerance and cutting out gluten altogether in favour of expensive gluten-free alternatives, of which there is now an increasingly diverse range in the supermarkets (isn’t that just proof of the adoption of gluten free?) The problem is that because people see it as a diet and weight loss method, and not as a necessary (or unnecessary for most, as it happens) lifestyle choice, they feel they can consume as much gluten-free produce as they please and that they will be healthy and lose weight as a result. Sadly, they’re wrong.

Processed gluten-free products are often full of the same nasty chemicals and preservatives as are in foods containing gluten – and in fact sometimes they have more because they are not made in a ‘traditional’ way as some ‘normal’ products are. They contain just as much sugar too, so eating a gluten-free pack of biscuits instead of the occasional ‘normal biscuit’ is absolutely no good for your body.

There’s varying schools of thought scientifically as to whether cutting gluten out of your diet is beneficial medically-speaking, however a fair few of these contradict each other ,with some saying it may help, others which categorically deny that, unless you have medical reason to, gluten has any reason to be excluded from your diet. As I always say, eating a healthy, balanced, as natural as possible range of foods is absolutely the best thing for your body. Gluten-based foods have been around for centuries and whilst our variations of them (such as refined breads and processed cakes and biscuits) aren’t the best, gluten itself is only the enemy for a select few who genuinely struggle to process it.

Have you experienced any prejudice because of a genuine allergy or intolerance?

Rose xx

Wholesome Food Review – Beond NEED IMAGES

I’d actually never heard of Beond until I spotted them on Tesco’s Nutribar a few weeks ago. Apprehensive at first, I popped two of their bite-size morsels into my trolley. (I also thought ‘They’ll probably be exactly the same as Nakd’ when I saw they consisted predominantly of dates).

However Beond are very different in several ways to Nakd Bars (I love both, let me just emphasise that!). I chose the blueberry and raw cocoa varieties – both of which were really soft, smooth and chewy and more like nougat than a bar made with fruit, nuts and seeds. They are really sweet and filling – in fairness I ate both but that was enough for a mid-afternoon snack. The cocoa bar is really chocolatey and whilst I love Nakd bars (because I like dates and nuts) I think these are a great alternative for people who dislike the taste of dried fruit or nuts and want to go for something more traditionally sweet. They’re 100% organic to boot so really nourishing as sweet snacks go.

As well as these handy little bites you can also purchase full size bars. They come in Raw Chocolate, Acai Berry, Baobab Pineapple, Apple Cinnamon and Blueberry flavours – currently in Tesco they only had Chocolate and Blueberry but I’m very much looking forward to seeing the new flavours on the shelves as they sound delicious! They’re a little pricey at tesco at over £1 per tiny bar (yikes) but if you look online or buy in bulk they’re much more reasonably priced.

Have you tried Beond? Let me know what you think!

Rose xx

Why is ‘healthy food’ more expensive?


With the emergence of ‘clean eating’ and ‘Paleo’ diets, an increasing pressure to obtain a ‘gym bunny’ physique, and the obesity crisis full in the frame, there’s been a lot in the press in recent months about the quality of our food, and the correlation between quality and price.

It’s no secret that if you want to eat well (that is to say, organic, fresh, local, raw) it will cost you a pretty penny.

Yet others argue that with supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl offering a fantastic range of fresh produce (some of it organic) at bargain basement prices, being on a tight budget is not an excuse for eating poorly or unhealthily.

It is true, however, that the ‘best’ foods, such as local grass fed meat, fresh fish, organic fruit and veg and the numerous health bars and drinks becoming available in mainstream supermarkets are not proportionately priced to their less healthy counterparts. It is much more expensive to shop at Holland and Barrett, specialist online stores and at local butchers and fishmongers than it is to shop at Iceland or Farmfoods.

‘Normal’ chocolate is priced at anything from £1-£3 for a bar, yet the refined sugar-free all natural alternatives start at around £3. Why on earth do I need to pay up to £3 more for nuts in their RAW state than for nuts which have been roasted and tossed with a crap load of salt, sugar and preservatives in an equal-sized processing plant? Those with gluten and lactose intolerances are also forced to pay a premium for suitable foods.

Is this a ‘tax’ on the health-conscious? Is there a rather snobby assumption that those who watch the quality of what they eat have more money than those who don’t?

Whatever it is, I’d definitely like to see the price of what is a relatively new range of products come down over the next year as they are becoming more mainstream.

What’s your thoughts on this? Do you think these foods are justified in their expense? Or is it just a shameful form of elitism to keep these foods available only to those who can afford them?

Rose xx

Wholesome Food Review: Fage Total Greek Yoghurt


So many people tell me they are turning to Weight Watchers or Ski or Activia Light in an effort to ‘lose weight’ (you know my perspective on this!) This makes me want to scream and cry all at the same time.

These yoghurts are full of sugar and preservatives, and whilst they are ‘low fat’, they are high sugar, which is actually worse for you in a number of ways in addition to being counterproductive when it comes to weight loss.

When I tell people this, they say ‘Well, what’s the alternative?’

It’s this!!

Thick, creamy, all-natural. Packed with protein, good fats and calcium, no nasties, no added sugar. It comes in varying levels of fat content but to be honest they all taste lovely; I normally go full fat as I have full fat everything.

I can eat this straight from the pot, but I understand that many are used to the sugary, artificial-tasting Muller Lights of the world and that this yoghurt on its own may taste a little funky to those who aren’t accustomed. However I have combined this with all sorts of tasty extras to make it into the perfect breakfast, dessert and even used it in savoury meals. It’s so versatile, very healthy and good value for money if you buy a large pot of it.

Here’s a few of my favourite combinations:

  • With fruit and seeds/nuts – I often make my own compote using fruit and agave syrup, then drizzle it into the yoghurt and sprinkle some nuts or seeds over. Almonds, pine nuts, macadamias and chopped hazelnuts are all lovely. Alternatively chopped fruit (fresh or dried) and nuts with a drizzle of honey or agave is equally as tasty.
  • Mix it with thick cream, lemon juice and agave for a cheesecake-like dessert (this is yummy!).
  • Add flakes of dark chocolate with some compote.
  • Add protein powder.
  • Honey and almonds – the classic combination!

There’s loads of fab recipes on the Fage site – visit it here. http://uk.fage.eu/

Are you a fan of Total?

Rose xx

Wholesome Food Review – Food Doctor Seeds

fooddoctor seeds

I always say that eating well should be for life and I don’t believe in diets. People often ask me how I eat ‘the way I do’ without missing ‘nice food’. In all honesty I think I must be the only person who doesn’t think I’m missing out! And of course I have cheat days where I can eat all the crap I want.

Everybody tends to get the munchies mid-afternoon, especially if you do the 9-5. I found myself wanting something crunchy and savoury and since I can’t have crisps due to my IBS (not that they would be very nutritious, anyhow) I was a little lost as to how to satisfy my craving.

I’d heard of Munchy Seeds but on this particular occasion I couldn’t find them anywhere in my local supermarket – instead I spied these, thought they looked delicious and decided to give them a go.

The Food Doctor range of seeds come in a few very different flavours which is great if you want a bit of variation but also want to know that they’re definitely going to taste nice. My personal favourite is the spicy seed mix but I was also surprised to find myself impartial to the apple and  flavour.

What’s good about the Food Doctor brand as a whole is you know you’re getting good quality ingredients which are all natural and inarguably good for you. These seeds are roasted, so puritans may argue they’re not the best, but they’re certainly better than a pack of crisps or some salted peanuts!

Better still, you’ll readily find these products stocked in your local supermarket so you don’t have to worry about ordering 100 packets in advance online (not that I do that with any of my food…!)

Have you tried these seeds yet? What are your thoughts?

Rose xx

Should we have nutrition advice in our schools?


I talk about this in the book and include a section on basic nutrition – that’s how important I think this is! Largely because I lacked this rather simple education when I was younger and instead my head became filled with ridiculous harmful advice peddled by diet companies and magazines. In light of the recent funding which is being pumped into the NHS to help tackle Eating Disorders, I wanted to see if anybody else agrees with me when I say I feel that some of the money should go into prevention as well as treatment.

Perhaps the budget is so tight that it cannot afford for any portion of it to be siphoned off for preventative causes, but in an ideal world where we had plenty of money to spare I’m certain that at least a quarter of it should be invested into better education and preventative measures to bring the number of actual cases down before they get to a critical point in an already strung-out NHS, not to mention a massively under pressure mental health structure.

The NHS has been investing in preventative medicine and preventative education for some time; campaigns and adverts in newspapers or on television you see such as Stop Smoking, Dry January and Change 4 Life are examples of this. They’re usually educative or encouraging people to make positive choices in their lives which should mean that the NHS has to spend less later because people are generally healthier than they would have been had they not been given that advice.

With the NHS budget under massive strain, I think it would be intelligent and financially sensible to look to schools to administer education to young people at grassroots level, when so many of them are developing important ideas about themselves, about life and about food.

A lot of Eating Disorders tend to manifest themselves in these early years of our lives and that was especially true in my case. When I speak to others who are going through an Eating Disorder or who have poor body image many also talk of being bullied at school for being fat or ugly or not fitting in, and as a consequence turning to fad diets to improve the way they looked and developing an Eating Disorder further down the line.

I’m certainly not saying that diets and the media are wholly responsible for Eating Disorders. They’re complex mental illnesses with their roots in many facets of our lives and personalities. Many sufferers know that what they think and feel about food isn’t fact but they of course are compelled to continue anyway. I know this more than anyone.

However cases seem to be emerging at younger and younger ages. These children cannot have a proper understanding of food and how it works in our bodies; and any education they do have tends to be confusing and incorrect because it comes from their exposure to the diet industry, who as you know I think are a pretty irresponsible bunch.

I’m not saying that education of this kind would stop all cases, but certainly a few might be halted by a better understanding of our bodies, coupled with advice on self-confidence and self-care.

What do you think? Should we look at introducing nutrition education into schools at Secondary level to help them to understand their bodies and make more informed choices?

Rose xx