My protein collage

Foodstuff review: Beef jerky, cashew butter & dried coconut!

As I bumble my way through my low sugar lifestyle, it’s nice to keep it fresh and try various products that might enhance the experience. After all, variety is the spice of life eh? Over the past month I’ve been trying some new products and so this post consists of a few reviews that you might be interested in trying at some point too.

Just to be clear, these products were sent to me for free. Whilst this a nice perk of blogging there are in fact quite a few products I turn down.  I am super selective about what I review and I am completely honest in my views on things. The other day I was asked if I wanted to review a range of ‘healthy’ cereals that were packed full of sugar. Er, no.

Saying that I have reviewed Nakd bars which I don’t eat regularly, but the review serves a purpose and is very useful if you’re a sucker for squidgy condensed dried fruit in a bar (like I was). Definitely read that one if you haven’t already.

Anyway, onto the reviews…

I was sent these products by www.myprotein.com , a sports nutrition website which sells lots of different health-sport related products online. There were all sorts of energy bars, gels etc. that were not for me (because they contain sugar) but alas I did find some snacks I hadn’t tried before that fitted with requirements, so here they are…

A giant tub of cashew butter

cashew butter

I’ve written about my love of almond butter before but I had never tried cashew butter which is strange because I love cashew nuts. Safe to say this stuff is delicious, almost dangerously so. It’s a great source of fat and protein.  I’ve been drizzling it over my buckwheat (or sometimes just normal) porridge, adding a tablespoon to a smoothie and I also even made these low sugar grain free sweet potato & cashew cakes with it.

A handy trick if you’re suffering post meal sweet cravings is to get a teaspoon of this, sprinkle on some cacao nibs and have it with a cup of tea. It’s a fructose-free treat but feels super indulgent. Make sure you savour every creamy morsel that goes in your mouth!

A 1kg tub is £10.99 , which I feel is quite a good price. Previously I was paying £4 a time for a diddley little 170g almond butter that wouldn’t last very long. Cashew butter…I say thumbs up and give it a go :)

Update: I just want to add that this cashew butter does contain 4% of organic sunflower oil. Now I on the whole try to avoid vegetable oils like sunflower as they are generally overly processed and somewhat ‘toxic’. However, avoiding them completely in life is extremely hard and when it comes to finding a tasty sugar-free foodstuff that you can experiment with, I was prepared to let the small amount of oil here off the hook. It depends where you sit on this.

Dried Coconut

Now I’m sorry, but I forgot to take a picture of this before I ate the whole pack which was slightly irresponsible of me! That shows how much I did in fact enjoy this unusual form of coconut. I recommend coconut flakes and pieces as a sweet-tasting fructose-free substitute, but I have never had this somewhat in-between form. Think thicker than a flake, but not a chunk.

I can conclude that the result is a very satisfying snack or semi-sweet fix, especially if you’re at war with a late night or post meal craving. Yes they are high fat, and somewhat addictive in their own right (if you like coconut a lot), so you do need to exercise control over portions as it’s easy to just pick from the bag. However, I would buy another bag of dried coconut for sure, even if they are £7.99 a pop (note: a bag goes a long way and lasts well).

Beef Jerky & Bitlong

Beef jerky

Now I had never tried this before and I was curious. It’s never really appealed to me and I’m not a massive red meat eater to be honest. Myprotein.com kindly sent me loads of the stuff, in a variety of flavours (Original, smoked, cajun & Teryaki). Now the good thing about beef jerky as a snack is it a mega source of protein and will do a very good job of steadying the blood sugar and keeping you full. The packets are very handy for taking to work or out and about snacking too. This stuff is so substantial I couldn’t eat a whole packet. A pack gives you a whopping 25g of protein in 139 calories which is serious muscle building stuff.

However, these products do contain sugar and other ingredients which don’t quite align to my ‘clean eating’ philosophy. The sugar isn’t loads, we’re talking just 1.7g per 100g which is very little and isn’t going to drive some mental cravings, but it’s important to point out as it is added sugar.  I’d still classify them as a ‘savoury’ snack and in my opinion they’re far healthier than a Special K bar, but personally I’m still not a raving beef jerky fan and won’t be eating this regularly.

Saying that,  I was popular in the pub when I whipped out a packet one evening amongst after work drinks for my colleagues to try – healthier than crisps that’s for sure! My brother was also delighted at them so maybe this is a good option for the sugar-addicted meat lovers out there.

So there’s my lowdown on some new foods that have made their debut in my kitchen the past few months. Have you tried any of them? Have nut butters or coconut flakes helped you overcome cravings in the past? And finally, what do you think of beef jerky? Is it a love hate Marmite type thing?!

Laura x

Advances-in-sugar-free-snacking-laura-thomas-happy-sugar-habits

Advances in sugar-free snacking

I’m impressed. I’ve just walked out of Pret A Manger and was in awe of the latest sugar-free goodies to feast my eyes. So I’d thought I’d write about the advances in sugar-free snacking I’ve noticed today and highlight some of my favourite picks, explaining why.

I think someone is listening!

It seems that things are starting to change when it comes to out and about sugar-free snacking . I’m increasingly noticing ‘sugar-free’ products or low sugar options. Whilst you still need to be cautious of ‘sugar-free’ as a health claim (read here for why), the range of things I can actually buy and eat these days when out seems to be increasing (hooray!). This is mostly down to shifting demand, where our choices as a consumer drive sales and profits which eventually speak to the people at the top. If you’ve been avoiding sugary shop bought affair for a while, take pride in the fact it’s working!

Advances-in-sugar-free-snacking-laura-thomas-happy-sugar-habits

Practical sugar-free snacking

I remember when I put together my low-sugar snack guide in 2012, I walked into Pret A Manager and found hardly anything that I could go for. It was quite depressing at the time. There were nuts and maybe a bag of popcorn, but that was it. Fast forward 18 months and they’ve bought out this cute little range of snack tubs, kale chips and cold savoury soups.

Which products did I like?

Egg and spinach protein pot – Great as a snack or for breakfast on the go. A cheap option too at £1.50 as I know a round in Pret can suddenly add up.

Crayfish & quinoa protein pot – With over 15g of protein, this will keep you mega full as a snack!

A salmon based snack pot – Can’t find it on the website but it was there! Let me know if you find this one.

Kale chips – why buy normal crisps when you have such a tasty healthy option?

Garden pea & mint soup – I love cold soups. You could also check out my easy cucumber and avocado number to make at home.

Pret also have a pretty hefty range of salads are aren’t afraid to add a good portion of avocado to some of them (a super filling fat source) e.g. this crayfish & avocado number.

The salads are colourful (which means nutritionally dense), many have a decent amount of protein (for a shop bought salad at least) and from the ones I’ve tried, they’re pretty tasty. Obviously watch out for sugary dressings, but since they come separately, you can leave these off your salad or just use a smaller portion.

Watch out for this

I did also notice that Pret had some green juices in stock. I had a major success in New York discovering a fab low sugar green juice and so I assumed these were going to be similar…

Being suddenly in a major rush (after spending too long taking flipping pictures – typical me!), I grabbed one that seemed to have mostly greens with a view to trying it out. However, upon my first thirsty sip, I knew straight away this was a sugar bomb. The green colour is deceiving with these juices. This seemingly virtuous ‘Green Goodness’ was predominantly an apple juice (over 60%) with some added extras (cucumber, spinach etc. in smaller proportions). With over 40g of sugar per bottle, despite being ‘natural’, this was not my cup of tea and was way too sugary.

A green juice is of course loads better than a coke and many other drinks. So for those needing more greens in their life (Mum are you reading?) it’s a healthy swap. However, for those who are trying to get a handle on cravings and keep an eye on total fructose, just be aware of ‘Green Goodness’ type juices because they’re not quite as ‘Good’ as they seem.

Anyway, I guess it goes to say, well done Pret. These new products were nice to see and made me very happy one fine Thursday. I know buying on the go can be notoriously hard on low sugar-diet and it’s great to see things developing to give us more delicious & tasty options.

Have you spotted some good low sugar snacks out and about? Would you try any of these Pret options? Ever been a little bit mislead by a ‘green juice’ like me? Would love to hear from you so please share your thoughts.

Munchy Seeds Review

Review: Munchy Seeds Chilli Mix

So, seeing as I seem to be in snack mode this week, I thought I’d stick in a cheeky review of one of my favourite products. I’ve always really loved seeds from a long way back when I discovered their astounding health benefit. Needless to say, I was quite excited when Munchy Seeds kindly sent me some of their Chilli Mix.

So what’s going down…

We’re talking a few apricot kernels along with succulent pumpkin and sunflower seeds, coated in a reddish, crispy-spice kick. Yum. I was a fan with my first mouthful, so they certainly passed the taste test. They’re not too spicy, and this comes from me with an average spice threshold (although I can’t say I know how to measure that accurately!).

Munchy Seeds review chili mix

The good stuff

Seeds are nothing but nutritionally ace:

  • Full of the good fats we should be eating on a daily basis
  • A source of zinc which is good for the immune system and your skin
  • A little hot stuff (the chilli) to keep the metabolism revved
  • Blood sugar snack perfect as a source of protein

Conveniently these seeds either come in a big tub or smaller packable snack sizes. I found these lasted 2-3 small portions, making them handy to carry around and wholly versatile for:

  • Adding tasty protein to any other veg snack e.g. carrot sticks, celery etc.
  • Sprinkling on salads
  • Again adding protein to a predominately vegetable based soup
  • Giving a kick to a bland sandwich

The slight boo

The apricot kernels, which provide an unusual sweet spicy taste, are unfortunately not part of the smaller sachet packs. I seem to like picking these out of the tub and saving them till last. I guess in a mini seed dessert style!

Munchy Seeds Review

Munchy Seeds Chilli Mix aren’t as widely stocked as one would like – I usually pick up the snack sizes either in Nature’s Intent or Waitrose, but you can buy the bigger tubs in Tesco. If you turn out to be a big fan, I’d advise ordering online here.

I would recommend giving these a whirl if you like spicy as they’re a good all-round healthy choice. It’s always nice to find good sugar sensible snack options like this because as we know, choices can be a bit limited on the go.

Anyone tried these before or know any other good snacks to try?

CO YO coconut yoghurt review

Review: CO YO coconut milk yoghurt

It’s always exciting to try a new healthy product, so when I took a leisurely break to Piccadilly Wholefoods Store last week, I decided to treat myself to a product I’d had on my low sugar radar for a while – A CO YO coconut milk yoghurt.

 

Let’s start with the facts…

  • dairy free
  • soya free
  • gluten free
  • lactose free
  • no added sugar

Understandably you might be asking what on earth has this yoghurt got in it at this point? Well, it’s nearly all natural coconut milk with a little bit of Xylitol sweetener (a natural alcohol sugar you can read more about here).

If you haven’t noticed coconut is doing the rounds as the latest health food godsend.

I’ve already written about coconut oil and its various benefits. There’s coconut water springing up all over the place which it seems half the celeb world is endorsing. Skin like Rhianna and Miranda Kerr – err yes please!

Needless to say it’s packed with goodness. Picking just a few of the benefits it:

  • Improves immune system
  • Promotes glossy skin, hair and nails celeb style
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Speeds up metabolism and can support weight loss

Personally however, my favourite thing about all things coconut is that they taste naturally sweet and are truly great if you’re looking to cut back on sugar. They’re savoir when you need to satisfy that urge because they feel rich and indulgent.

The verdict

So what does the CO YO yoghurt taste like? I can confirm it’s super creamy, it feels gorgeously smooth and as long as you don’t hate coconut tasting stuff, you’ll like the flavour. It seemed to disappear out of its pot quite fast and I thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful.

I think it’s important to point out the CO YO coconut yoghurt is high in fat with over 20g and comes in just over 200 calories per pot. That appears a lofty amount, but it’s a healthier natural fat and makes this a real tasty ‘treat’ yoghurt that is still sugar free. You can read more on why I think fat isn’t completely evil in the bit about sugar.

They’re not super cheap at £1.99 and are only stocked in limited places (Ocado, Selfridges, Wholefoods and other specialist stores), so granted, these aren’t going to be a daily staple.

If you’re passing by then pick one up to try instead of an unhealthy treat i.e. a cupcake which is likely to cost you more than £1.99 anyway.

Also, make sure you’re subscribed to the Happy Sugar Habits mailing list because in addition to a weekly sugar busting tip, there are soon to be lots of other exciting things coming my subscribers’ way.

Fancy trying a CO YO yoghurt or have you already? Or are you put off by the high fat and calories? As always, open to your opinions, questions or thoughts. If you don’t want all to see, feel free to send me an e-mail to laura@happysugarhabits.com. You will likely make my day!