Blog

I love food. More than that, I love Yorkshire food. And even more than that, I love local, North Yorkshire food! I really believe that good, simple, seasonal produce that hasn’t travelled far to get to your plate tastes better – and is better for you and the environment – than food that’s been transported hundreds or even thousands of miles. So I was delighted to be sent a book to review that celebrates some of the best food and drink from God’s own county.

Cookbook

 

The North Yorkshire Cookbook features not just manufacturers of great food and drink, but also the places that serve and sell it such as restaurants, cafés, delis, pubs and markets. It’s good to see a few of my personal favourites in there: Betty’s tea rooms (fat rascals!), the Haxby Bakehouse (proper bread) and No 8 Bistro in York; the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham (where I used to live), Quayside Fish and Chips in Whitby, plus many more. I now feel I need to make a trip to Harrogate to try Baltzersen’s Cinnamon Buns, which I have been obsessed with ever since I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and discovered that Scandinavian people apparently mostly exist on cinnamon buns and coffee.

Le Caveau 63

There are also over 40 mouth-watering recipes from some of North Yorkshire’s top chefs for you to try at home. I’m very tempted to have a go at the Grange Hotel’s Yorkshire Curd Tart and Le Caveau’s Slow Cooked Yorkshire Rabbit in Cider (pictured above). The foreword is by Andrew Pern, who owns the award-winning Star restaurant at Harome, as well as its sister eatery, the Star in the City (of York). Special occasions only for my budget(!) but well worth it.

Ampleforth Abbey 64

 

This is a great read for lovers of Yorkshire food, being part food guide and part recipe book. There’s something for everyone! To share the love I’m going to give away this copy. Just leave a comment below telling me what’s your favourite Yorkshire food or food outlet and why, and I’ll pick a winner this Friday, 23rd September. Bon appétit!

The North Yorkshire Cookbook is available to purchase in all of the businesses featured, as well as in select local gift shops, book shops including Waterstones and online at www.amazon.co.uk. RRP £14.95.

 

When I was selected for the Runner’s World/Asics Project 26.2 Paris Marathon competition boot camp about 18 months ago I attended a Q&A session with ultra runner Holly Rush. There were quite a few questions about nutrition, and Holly said she always had a glass of milk after a long run, as it contained the optimum ratio of protein to carbohydrate for recovery. Being a fan of natural products whenever possible, I took this advice on board and have followed it ever since. If I’ve sweated a lot I also usually have a pint of water with an SiS Go Hydro tab in it to rehydrate. However, I was recently sent a new recovery drink to test that offered both recovery and rehydration at the same time.

nov14largeposter

 

Billed as the world’s first high protein pure coconut water, CocoPro aims to provide both optimal hydration and recovery all in one drink. We all know that coconut water, which contains lots of electrolytes, is great for rehydration; CocoPro goes a stage further by combining this with whey protein, creating the ‘ultimate hydrating recovery drink’. It also contains 100% of the RDA of vitamin C. The variety I tested contained pineapple juice and the ingredients were listed as follows: Pure Coconut Water, Water, Pineapple Juice from Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, Dietary Fibre, Natural Flavourings, Stabiliser: Pectin, Antioxidant: Vitamin C, Sweetener: Stevia. Pineapple is a great anti-inflammatory that would also aid recovery, and I was surprised no mention was made of this.

Cocopro

 

I drank the CocoPro chilled from the fridge after a long run, and it certainly tasted good; more of pineapple than coconut – a bit like a non-alcoholic Malibu! I thought it would be interesting to see how it compared in terms of carbohydrate and protein with milk (including a non-dairy variety), and also with the High 5 recovery drink that my husband sometimes takes.

 

Per 100ml

Energy (kcal) Fat (g) Carb (g) Protein (g)

CocoPro

42

0.1 3.5

6.1

Whole Milk

68

4 4.7 3.4

Semi Skimmed

48

1.8 4.6

3.5

Soya Milk

36

2.2 0.4

3.5

High 5 Protein Recovery 238 0.3 41

18

 

You can see from the figures above that the three milks are about the same in terms of protein, whereas CocoPro offers quite a bit more. The dairy milks have a bit more carb than CocoPro, but the soya milk having very little at all. The High 5 recovery drink has much more of both, being specifically designed to do so; but of course it isn’t as natural as the milks and CocoPro. Obviously CocoPro also has more electrolytes than the milks, so is better and rehydrating.

All in all it’s a good product, which I did enjoy drinking; the only catch for me is the price. A 330ml carton of CocoPro costs about £2.75, so it’s expensive, even compared to plain coconut water. On the plus side, it does contain 20g of protein per serving. I think it would be very handy to carry if you were out and about – for example to take at the end of a race – but personally I couldn’t afford to drink it after every run.

I’d be interested to hear what other people use as recovery drinks and whether you have any preference as to natural or ‘manufactured’ products?

If you’d like to find out more about CocoPro you can visit their website here.

 

Because I’m a runner people often ask my husband Steve why he doesn’t run too. The truth is he’d love to do some running, but is unable to because he has a dodgy ankle. He can cycle til the cows come home – and indeed recently did that quite literally by riding a 178 mile coast to coast route in a single day – but the impact of running on the legs means it’s not really an option for him. He has a problem with the cartilage in his ankle, and despite having had an operation on it a few years ago, which improved the situation slightly, it still gives him grief if he runs or even walks too much. So when the folks at Flexiseq contacted me to ask if I’d like to review a new product that claimed to help with wear and tear on the joints Steve seemed like the perfect guinea pig.

Me and Steve Cycling

Specifically aimed at athletes, Flexiseq Sport is a product that claims to treat the cartilage in joints and relieve the discomfort caused by wear and tear or injury, improving impaired joint function. It’s applied topically, targeting the affected area directly, rather than simply masking the problem as oral pain relief does. This obviously also avoids the gastro-intestinal issues that some people face when they take strong pain killers. Here’s the science bit: Flexiseq contains tiny lipid phosphospheres called Sequessome vessicles. These are small enough to pass through the skin and into the joint, where they lubricate the cartilage, allegedly reducing friction, stiffness and pain. It’s supposed to be particularly good for osteoarthritis. You can read a lot more about exactly how Flexiseq works here. People generally see an improvement after a couple of days, and the difference is said to  be comparable to certain oral pain killers.

flexiseq-sport-pack

So, how did the guinea pig fare? Steve’s now been on the Flexiseq for a couple of months, applying it first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and has found it very easy to use; it just takes a few minutes to dry completely before you can cover it with clothes or bedding. Although it hasn’t taken away his problem completely, Steve has definitely seen some improvement over time, feeling less pain in general – although he does still have better and worse days. I should say that Flexiseq isn’t cheap to buy – a 100ml tube is currently on offer at Treatments Direct for £29.99 – and you do have to keep using it to maintain the benefits, but I daresay if it helps you and you don’t fancy the idea of living on pain killers it’s worth splashing out on. Steve’s keen to keep using it, and coming from a Yorkshireman that should tell you something about its value!

For more information on Flexiseq, including testimonials from athletes, visit their website.

I should point out I was not paid to write this blog post or endorse the product.

 

I love breakfast. It might even be my favourite meal of the day. I love it so much I sometimes have two breakfasts when marathon training is at its peak! But I’m not a big fan of breakfast cereals, mainly because they generally aren’t very healthy. I like porridge and muesli (with Greek yoghurt), especially as you can always ‘pimp’ those to make them more nutritious, but most cereals are made from highly refined carbs and contain added sugar; sometimes, unbelievably, more than 30%. Not only does this give them a very high glycaemic index (GI), but they don’t keep you satisfied for very long. I once checked in my local supermarket to see which cereals didn’t have any added sugar, and it pretty much came down to Shredded Wheat. So when I was offered the chance to test a new breakfast cereal claiming to be much healthier than the norm I was very interested to try it. Apparently two years of research has gone into the development of new Keep Me Going from Freedom Cereals. Its aim is to be a wholegrain cereal with a low GI plus added health benefits that actually tastes good!

KMG Pack

 

You certainly can’t argue with the health credentials of Keep Me Going. It’s composed mainly of whole grain barley, oat flour and rye, so is wheat-free (for those who are concerned about that sort of thing). It also has added vitamins and minerals, including chromium (which helps to balance blood sugar), magnesium and biotin. I was particularly pleased to see the magnesium content, as many people are deficient in this important mineral, which can cause fatigue. I usually take a magnesium supplement myself when I’m marathon training. Even the salt used in it is a special low-sodium sea salt. Yes, it does contain some sugar, but far less than most cereals, and this is probably offset to some extent by its low GI of 50 (compared, for example, to a GI of 82 for cornflakes). If a food has a low GI it releases its energy more slowly, so keeps you satisfied for longer. Out of interest, here’s how Keep Me Going compares nutritionally to some other popular cereals.

There’s lots more information here on the Keep Me Going website if you want to explore this further. Here’s what it looks like out of the pack.

But what does it taste like? Actually it’s surprisingly tasty in a malty sort of way. The texture is quite crunchy, but not too hard. I liked it. And does it really keep you going? I tested it by having it for breakfast on a morning when I knew I’d be really busy and probably wouldn’t get a chance to have elevenses, and it was probably about four hours before I began to feel peckish again. I wouldn’t say it kept me as full as, say, muesli and Greek yoghurt, but it certainly contains a lot less fat than that. If you’re trying to moderate your fat intake it’s probably a decent option for breakfast.

A lot of people seem to give their kids cereal for breakfast – probably because it’s quick and easy on a school morning – and the manufacturers of Keep Me Going have gone to some trouble to try and make the product appeal to children. Each pack contains some trading cards that can be used to play a Top Trumps type of game based on countries of the world, and you can go onto the Keep Me Going website to download a world map and mark the countries you’ve collected. There’s also a secret code cracking game to play.

I wouldn’t say Keep Me Going is a cereal children would choose for themselves, but if you’re the sort of family that already eats quite healthily I’d say they’d probably enjoy it. Weaning kids off the likes of Coco Pops or Frosties might be more of a challenge!

 At the moment Keep Me Going is available via Ocado, priced at £2.65 for a 375g pack. Not cheap, but it is made with top quality ingredients. Apparently there’s a high protein version called Keep Me Strong in the pipeline, so it will be interesting to see how that turns out.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on breakfast cereals? What are your favourites and why? I’d be interested to know.

 

Soreen

I have a friend who recently ran his first marathon in under four hours. As someone who’s been chasing the elusive sub 4 for a couple of years now I was a) very jealous and b) eager to know how he’d done it. What training plan did he follow? How did he hydrate and fuel for the race? His answer regarding fuelling surprised me somewhat – buttered malt loaf. “Malt loaf?” I thought. “Running at nine minute mile pace? Is he having a laugh? Did he take a flask of tea too?!” Now I’m not averse to a bit of malt loaf. My dear old Irish nana was a great fan of the stuff, so I was weaned on it as a nipper, and it’s still often my go-to afternoon tea snack of choice (unbuttered) instead of proper fatty cake. I love its squidgy fruitiness, which goes down a treat with a big mug of Yorkshire Tea. But I’d never considered eating it on the run – couldn’t imagine coping with anything other than gels during a marathon.

However, when I recently entered my first ultra I realised I was going to have to suck it up and find some real food I could eat en route, because your stomach can only take so many gels before it starts to rebel. Then by sheer coincidence the lovely people at Soreen sent me a hamper of their wares to test and review. It was a sign – a sign that I should go forth and fuel a long run with its fruity goodness.

The Soreen box of delights contained various types of loaf, as well as a Soreen pen and notebook, plus something that looked like a house brick on legs wearing pants, but which turned out to be a replica of the Soreen Loveable Loaf mascot. It feels a bit like a stress toy, so now I keep it on my computer and squeeze it very hard when I see people on social media running sub 4 marathons.

Loveable Loaf

 

My husband, who like most cyclists, is a total cake monster, couldn’t get into the box quickly enough. We tested the Orange Fruit Loaf and Apple & Sultana Fruit Loaf, which were both really tasty and made a change from the classic Original. The orange one has a nice tang to it, and the Soreen website recommends having it toasted with chocolate spread. With my love of Nutella this was a must-try and turned out to be divine! The apple one is really nice and cinnamony, great with coffee. However, for my run I stuck to good old Original, wrapping a chunk in greaseproof paper and tucking it into the front of my Camelbak.

 I had a long slow run of 18 miles to do, so thought that would be a good opportunity to test eating on the hoof. The Soreen actually went down really well and I had no digestive repercussions. I’ve since heard that quite a few ultra runners eat malt loaf because they find it gentler on the stomach than ordinary bread, and it gives slow release energy due to the dried fruit and fibre. A tenth of a loaf (a smallish slice) apparently contains about 15g of carbohydrate, so I guess a couple of slices an hour would be enough to keep someone of my size ticking over. Depending on what’s on offer at the Calderdale Way Ultra I’ll certainly consider taking some Soreen with me – possibly the lunchbox loaves, which are conveniently wrapped in small portions. I must say I’d never thought of Soreen as food for athletes before, but it seems to fit the bill nicely.

I would love to know what real foods other people eat on long runs, so please let me know if you have your favourites.

From time to time we all reassess our fitness goals, and recently I’ve been considering doing less road running and more trail running next year – taking a break from road marathons, thinking less about times and distances and more about just enjoying the ride. So when the lovely folks at Salomon kindly sent me a pair of their new X-Scream to try and invited me to their Citytrail event in York it was like serendipity – a perfect opportunity to dip a toe into trail! I have many trail and ultra running friends who are completely devoted to their various Salomons, so was really looking forward to trying them out.

My first impression of the X-Screams was that they were very pink – and I don’t normally subscribe to the ‘pink and shrink’ school of women’s sportswear. But I can make an exception for this pink, as it’s a bright, flouro one rather than a pale, girly one. And many of my friends were very jealous I’d received them, which was a bonus! X-Screams are the nearest thing Salomon has ever produced to a road shoe, designed for gentle off-road running on urban trails. The upper is very light and breathable (like a road shoe), but the sole is really supportive and grippy (like a trial shoe). It’s a kind of crossover shoe! The Salomon Sensifit/Sensiflex system combines with the unique Quicklace closure system to provide a really snug fit. I recently had a stressed joint in my upper foot, and my sports therapist said I should wear a shoe with plenty of arch support; the X-Scream certainly offered this and has felt really comfortable on the runs I’ve had in them.

Salomon’s Citytrail events are a brilliant way to try their shoes. Basically they come to a venue near you, spread out lots of different shoes and offer expert advice – then you can test the ones you like by going on a short guided run. It’s much better than just trying them on in a shop. The York event was held in association with Up & Running, which is coincidentally where I bought my first ever pair of proper running shoes about five years ago. The run was a lovely trot along the river in the city centre. 

York Parkrun

I would definitely recommend the X-Screams for anyone who does most of their runs on gentle, off-road trails – They’d be ideal for a parkrun too. The combination of comfort, support and grips is perfect for this sort of terrain. They are sized quite generously, so bear this in mind when trying or ordering them.  I also imagine I’ll be wearing them quite a bit when I’m not running too, as they also look great with ‘normal’ clothes! And I can’t wait to take them on my holidays to the Pyrenees in July. Steve is doing L’Etape du Tour, but I’m hoping to find lots of great mountain trails to fit in some Berlin Marathon training runs.

Happy trails…

A few weeks ago the very kind folk at Salomon sent me some of their Sense Mantra W trail running shoes to try. At the time I was in full-on Yorkshire Marathon training mode so haven’t really had an opportunity to test them until now. I’ve been taking things a bit easy since the marathon, just doing a few short, gentle runs, but with the Leeds Abbey Dash coming up this weekend I thought I’d better remind my legs what 10K feels like. So last Sunday me and the Salomons went for a run that incorporated a couple of miles of off-road along a river flood bank.

So clean and white…

 I must admit that in the past I’ve always thought of Salomon more in the context of walking and hiking rather than running. I’ve had a couple of pairs of their walking boots and found them really good. I used to do quite a bit of long distance walking and many years ago bought a pair of their Exit Lo boots that really were as comfy as a pair of slippers. We walked zillions of miles together and I only recently got rid of them when they were virtually falling apart! I replaced them with another pair of Salomon walking shoes with Gore-Tex that are great, but I still kinda miss the old ones…

Muddy walking shoes

The Sense Mantras were so pretty and pristine it almost seemed a shame to take them out and get them muddy! I really liked the Quicklace system, which was very neat. So how did the shoes perform on the run? Well, what I liked most about them was that they’re very lightweight. Each shoe apparently weighs 210g, considerably less than my Brooks Cascadia trail shoes which are almost 300g. So even though the Salomons were supportive as I tested them by dodging potholes and running up and down the flood bank they felt no different to road shoes when I was running on the road. I imagine they’d be a good shoe to wear for winter road training as well as off-road running. Admittedly this wasn’t a very long run, but I’m hoping to get up to Dalby Forest in the near future to give them a proper trail workout. I really wish I’d had these shoes when I went on holiday to Brittany in August and did some running along the coastal path, they would have been perfect for that.

Muddier running shoes!

I also decided to canvass opinion on these shoes amongst my running friends. One of them, a fast runner who does loads of trail running, already uses Sense Mantras and loves them. Another friend who completed the Al Andalus off-road stage race in Spain this year is full of praise for Salomon trail shoes in general. So people who are much better runners than me are obviously big fans! I’m hoping to do some 10K off-road races as part of my training for the Manchester Marathon in April, so I’m sure these shoes will be seeing a lot more action over the next few months. They will certainly be the perfect holiday running wear in the future, ideal for both on and off-road.

Thank you so much for sending these to me Salomon. Lovely as York is, I am still very jealous that you all get to work in beautiful Annecy! I was there on a cycling holiday a few years ago and tackled the nearby Col de la Colombière. I hope to come back soon. Merci beaucoup!

 

 

 

 

Regular readers of this blog will already know that I love coffee. My lifestyle is, by and large, pretty healthy, but coffee is the one vice I haven’t completely given up. I’ve certainly cut down a lot – when I worked in an office I was pretty much a caffeine addict – but I still do enjoy one cup of good quality coffee every morning; and I do this without guilt because coffee does have alleged health benefits.

However, I also love tea too. I start each day with a cup of lemon and ginger tea to give the old digestion a bit of TLC, and in the afternoon I’ll often have apple and cinnamon or, if I need a bit of a lift, a cup of good old Yorkshire tea. If I’m feeling a bit under the weather or feel a cold coming on I always have some echinacea tea. But apart from these I haven’t been very adventurous in my tea drinking so far. So when the lovely people at LuLin Teas in York sent me two of their special Chinese varieties to try I was really looking forward to broadening my horizons a bit.

 The teas are beautifully presented, and the packaging was coincidentally designed by a friend of mine, Owen Turner of United by Design. The brand has a really modern look rather than the traditional ‘dragons and Chinese characters’ look of most oriental teas. I must admit I rarely brew tea in a pot, and the one I usually use is made of metal, which is apparently a bad thing. So down from the shelf came the only ceramic tea pot I have – one shaped like a cottage that used to belong to my Nana. Now there was a woman who liked strong tea – preferably with a drop of Irish whiskey in it! The brewing instructions on the LuLin website said to use 3-4 grams of tea per pot, but as my kitchen scales only weigh in units of 20g I had to guess how much to use. It seemed to turn out OK though.

Nana’s teapot!

First up was Long Jing (or Dragon Well) Green Tea. Now I don’t normally like green tea, so this was interesting. I normally find it really bitter and can’t drink it without adding a bit of. Long Jing is from Hangzhou, the tea capital of China, and is apparently considered by many to be the best green tea there is. Like all green teas it has a high level of healthy antioxidants, but also contains Vitamin C and amino acids, and has the highest concentration of catechin antioxidants of any tea.

As you can see, the loose tea looks very much like pine needles. With both of the teas I was really struck by how much they swelled up on brewing too look like actual leaves off a bush. Sounds obvious, but you don’t get that with most teas! You could see that there was nothing else added to the tea leaves in the packet.

Long Jing in the cup

The brewed tea was a lovely pale green colour; it smelled sweet and fragrant but not flowery. The taste was very delicate and refreshing, and not at all bitter like other green teas I’ve tasted. I would certainly drink it again without having to add honey to it!

 The second tea I tried was Fujian Oolong. The origin of this tea is delightful. It’s grown in a garden in the Wuyi Mountains that is surrounded by jasmine flowers, which naturally scent the tea, making it completely unique. Like the green tea, Fujian Oolong contains many antioxidants; it is also very good for the digestion and metabolism, and helps to repair the body. Apparently people use it as an aid to weight loss as it has an alleged effect on fat burning too!

 To brew this tea you cover it with water for 30 seconds, then discard this initial infusion and brew it again with fresh water before drinking. The leaves are dark green and tightly curled, but open up massively on brewing. The infused tea is more golden in colour than the green tea, and the scent of the jasmine is immediately apparent – it smells amazing! The taste is also very flowery – a bit too much so for my personal taste – but I know a couple of people who really like jasmine tea and I’m sure they’d absolutely love this. I can see why it won two gold stars in last year’s Great Taste Awards.

Fujian Oolong in the cup

Personally I preferred the green tea, which was quite a revelation to me. It just goes to show that buying tea and coffee is rather like buying wine; there are so many different types out there to discover, and it pays to buy good quality stuff. I think the green teas I’ve tried in the past were probably just too cheap to be nice!

 If you love tea, or would like to find out more about it, I’d really recommend a visit to the LuLin website, which has a wealth of information about the many different types of Chinese tea they sell, including their origins, health benefits and how to brew them correctly. I’ve really enjoyed trying these two samples and look forward to exploring some of the other teas in the future.

Easter’s on the way, and that can only mean one thing can’t it? Chocolate! People are often surprised to learn that I eat chocolate. Chocolate’s bad for you, isn’t it? Well yes and no. Bad chocolate is bad; good chocolate is… not exactly health food, but a lot better! Cheap and nasty milk chocolate contains hardly any cocoa and is full of fat and sugar – no health benefits there. Good quality plain chocolate, on the other hand, is made with less fat and sugar, and supplies some of those all-important antioxidants from its high cocoa content. It’s also far more satisfying so you tend to eat less of it when you indulge. My particular favourites at the moment are Green & Black’s Maya Gold and Lindt Touch of Sea Salt. I also add a square of plain chocolate when I’m making chilli, it really lifts it to a new level!

Mmmm…

So, just as I was pondering about Easter chocolate last week, the good folk at Ohso sent me some of their special chocolate to test and review. What’s so special about it? Well, it’s probiotic dark chocolate with ‘good’ bacteria added, so you have another reason to justify eating it! Ohso is an alternative to those little shots of bacteria-filled yoghurt that many people take each morning to keep their digestive system healthy, but claims to be three times more effective at delivering good bacteria to your intestine. Each treat-sized bar of choccy weighs 13.5g and contains around a billion Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria – mind-boggling really! The bars come in handy packs of seven, which is a week’s supply.

But does it taste good? Well yes, actually, it does. Ohso is made with 53% cocoa so really delivers a good chocolatey hit. It comes in either plain or orange flavour. For my taste, I would have liked the orange version to be a little more ‘orangey’, but both varieties were very tasty. I also liked the way the bars are divided into tiny squares, so you can break them off a couple at a time to make it last as long as possible! At £3.99 a pack it isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s good quality and no more expensive than buying an ordinary chocolate bar each day – and certainly better for you! I think it makes a really good treat for that mid-afternoon time when many people feel they need something sweet to pick them up. Each bar contains only 72 calories, which is less than a chocolate digestive!

 If you’d like to try Ohso for yourself you can order a pack for half price with free postage if you sign up to their regular weekly delivery service, which you can cancel at any time. Probably best to get it delivered weekly otherwise you might be tempted to eat it more often! There’s also a handy gift delivery service, which would make a great Easter present for a healthy person – they’d probably appreciate it far more than a fatty supermarket Easter egg… so if anyone wants to order some for me, feel free! For further information on Ohso visit www.ohsolovesyourtummy.com

I like surprises – well, nice surprises anyway! One of the things that irks me about the festive season these days is that people always ask you what you want for Christmas, so you always know what you’re getting. Where’s the fun in that? So when I was asked to review a box of foodie surprises I was well up for it! FoodeeBox is a brand new concept whereby you can sign up to receive a selection of gourmet treats to try each month – then if you like what you taste you can buy them from the FoodeeBox website. All the products are made by independent artisans from all over the country, and of course it’s always good to support people who take pride and trouble in the food they produce. But that’s not all; for every box purchased FoodeeBox donates a meal to the Trussell Trust, a charity that operates food banks throughout the UK – so you can feel good about treating yourself! The sample box I received contained the following:

Paganum Yorkshire Chorizo Sausage

Womersley Foods Raspberry Vinegar

The Harrogate Preserves Company Lemon & Lime Marmalade

Bonny Confectionery Mint Choc Marshmallow Melts

The Nut Free Chocolatier Chocolates

So a good balance of sweet and savoury items to try. I felt it only fair to involve my husband Steve in the testing process (well he insisted actually). Unfortunately I didn’t manage to hide the choccies before he’d spotted them!

 

 First up was the Yorkshire Chorizo Sausage, with which we had with some ciabatta bread and a beer. As far as I can tell it was very good – I got about an inch of it before Steve snaffled the rest, which I think we can take as a seal of approval! Apparently there’s also a spicier version of this, which I would love to try some time. As well as being tasty on its own, I think it would also be great in a pasta sauce or a frittata.

 Next was the Womersley Foods Raspberry Vinegar, which came in a beautiful bottle. I’d heard of this before but never actually tried it and made a Yorkshire pudding so we could test it in the traditional way. What can I say? It was fantastic! Less ‘vinegary’ than I’d imagined it would be, the taste of raspberry was amazing. It lifted the humble pud to previously unexperienced heights! I believe this combination is traditionally eaten as a starter, but it would also make a brilliant pudding, much like a clafoutis. The vinegar would also be fab in a salad dressing, maybe with some duck or warm chicken livers. Apparently it also makes a great Champagne cocktail, which I can well believe! I would definitely buy this again.

 On to pudding! First we tried the Bonny Mallows. These were certainly a cut above any other marshmallows I’ve tried before, simply melting in the mouth in a lovely squidgy way. They’d be fantastic on top of a hot chocolate. The Nut Free Chocolatier Chocs didn’t say what they were on the box, but the ingredients listed raspberry purée and orange oil, and they were like a really fruity-tasting truffle – absolutely delicious. They looked so cute too, with their little orange hearts, and would make a lovely present. I still have one left and I’ve hidden it, ha!

 For the testing of the final product, The Harrogate Preserves Company Lemon & Lime Marmalade, we waited until breakfast the following morning, as I felt that it deserved the appropriate accompaniments of some nice granary toast and coffee. This is a marmalade not for the faint-hearted! It’s properly zingy and has lovely big bits of peel in it, which not everybody likes, but I love. It’s the food equivalent of standing under the shower to wake you up in the morning! Really good stuff, and the jar is beautifully presented too. On the whole I think the FoodeeBox represents great value, especially as the twelve month option is only £10 per month, including free delivery. Obviously I usually advocate eating healthier food than sausage and sugar, but we all deserve a little treat now and then, and this is a great way to get it. Far better to have a couple of really good quality treats per month than buying naughty foods at the supermarket every week! A FoodeeBox subscription would make a great Christmas present for someone who appreciates the finer things in life, and of course it keeps on giving throughout the year – much more exciting than a magazine subscription. If anybody fancies buying one for me, please feel free!