Fit Bakes Review

Fit Bakes kindly sent me one of their selection boxes to try. Often lower calorie cakes can taste awful so I thought I would write a review of what I thought…

Wholemeal Carrot Cakes

The cakes were very moist (I’m sorry for using that word) but almost slightly too much so. The taste was delicious which the perfect amount of cinnamon. I really enjoyed the filling.

7/10

Blueberry Cakes

I really liked the flavour but the texture was just too heavy and stodgy for me. Although I say this, it didn’t stop me from finishing the whole pack.

5/10

 

Lemon Drizzle Cakes

I saved these until last to try because lemon drizzle cake doesn’t feel me with excitement like other cake does! These cakes had a perfectly soft texture and the balance of lemon was spot on. I think these were actually one of my favourite – I’m a convert!

9/10

 

Apple and Cinnamon Cakes

Again, these cakes had a really nice texture with pieces of apple in. I would definitely buy these in future as they were delicious.

9/10

 

Sweet Potato Brownies

You can taste the sweet potato in these brownies but they have been executed very well. They are very fudgy and chocolatey – the perfect to satisfy a sweet tooth!

8/10

 

Citrus Fudge

I really enjoyed the citrus fudge as the citrus flavour wasn’t too overpowering. The texture of the fudge was smooth and easy to eat – no jaw ache here!

9/10

 

Overall, I was really impressed by the products from Fit Bakes. My favourites were the apple and cinnamon cakes and the lemon drizzle cakes. Fit Bakes are available to buy here.

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Emily’s Guide to Paris

After coming back from Paris, I thought I would write about what Connor and I got up to and our recommendations. We got the Eurostar to and from Paris and stayed in an Airbnb apartment close to the Gard du Nord. If you can’t be bothered to read my rambles, I’ve written a summary list at the bottom! 😉

Day 1

We arrived in Paris on the Saturday at about 5pm and went straight to our Airbnb to drop off our suitcases. We quickly found that although only a 5minute walk from the Eurostar, the Gard du Nord was not the most pleasant of areas. It was ideal in terms of location to get around but it was dirty and the people, rough. Having said that, our apartment was lovely and suited our needs perfectly.

After sussing out the apartment, we walked along Canal Saint-Martin which was beautiful and had a hipster feel to it. We stopped for dinner at Brick Top pizza where we had the most incredible sourdough crust pizza topped with high quality ingredients.  Once we had inhaled our pizzas, we travelled to the Montparnasse Tower. We timed it so that we would be going up before sunset and I’m so glad we did. The views were amazing and I think it was one of my favourite activities that we did in Paris.

Day 2

We started our second day with breakfast at home before heading to the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is the attraction that most people associate with Paris and as a result it was heaving with people from all over the world. I loved going to see it as it was something I’ve always wanted to see but I did prefer the view from the Montparnasse Tower. After being typical tourists and taking 101 photos, we walked to the Bateaux Parisiens sightseeing boat trip on the Seine.

I would definitely recommend the boat trip if you’re planning to go to the Eiffel Tower (which of course you are). The guide pointed out key monuments as we travelled down the Seine but we were mostly left uninterrupted to enjoy the view. The boat trip was a fantastic opportunity to get photos and for us, to soak up the sun as the weather was glorious!

For lunch we attempted to go to Candelma for traditional galettes which are savoury buckwheat pancakes but despite their website telling us otherwise, it was closed. Instead we chose the healthy option, N2 Extreme Gelato! This place was incredible. The lady behind the counter made each gelato to order with liquid nitrogen in a ginormous mixer which was a novelty to watch. I had the crazy cookies gelato pot which consisted of Nutella gelato with cookies on top and throughout with a syringe of salted caramel sauce – a party for my taste buds!

After, we made our way back to the other side of Paris to visit the Arc de Triomphe. If you are 18-25 and from a country in the EU (not us Brits for long…) then you can go up the Arc de Triomphe for free by showing your passport. We then decided to walk to the Bois de Boulogne and tried to go to the Louis Vuitton Foundation but we had missed the last entry. We attempted to try and find a nice place to have a picnic dinner in the park but decided to leave after we saw two prostitutes on the side of the path we were walking down – one of which disappeared into the woods with her next client, ew. This event definitely ruined the park for us and I wouldn’t go back there personally.

Day 3

Pancakes. That’s all I need to say. We arrived at Holybelly for pancakes at 8:45am and well, by the time it was opening time (9am) there was a queue of people behind us – that’s when you know a restaurant/café is going to be good. We were not disappointed; the pancakes were the best I’ve ever had! I had the savoury stack which consisted of pancakes, two eggs, bacon, maple syrup and butter and Connor basically ordered the whole menu.  After Holybelly, we waddled to the Louvre with our food babies.

Like the Eiffel Tour, the Louvre is one of the museums you have to visit in Paris. I mean, did you even go to Paris if you didn’t take a photo of the overrated Mona Lisa?! The next attraction wasn’t originally on our list but was recommended by my mum and I’m so glad we went. Sainte Chapelle is a small gothic chapel – you look up and just, wow! It doesn’t take long to visit – short and sweet.

With a detour to Le Comptoir de Mathilde for speculoos spread because c’mon, priorities, we then went to Notre Dame. Again, another iconic symbol of Paris and it was beautiful. From Notre Dame, we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg. The park is beautiful and the atmosphere was lovely. We loved it so much we return the day after for a picnic. For dinner we kept it cheap and had street crepes are finding that Candelma was again closed (yes we were pissed off), followed by Amorino ice cream.

Day 4

I was determined to have a croissant in Paris as it’s the proper Parisian breakfast isn’t it? We went Du Pain et des Idées for our breakfast before starting our last day. Again, there was a queue out of the door of this lovely little French bakery – a positive sign. We were extremely lucky to nab one of the last croissants along with a pain au chocolat and a berries and cream cheese escargot. Oh my word, the escargot was unbelievably good and I hope I can find something similar in London!  We choose three pastries to share as I couldn’t decide what I wanted (situation normal) but wanted to try the escargot as it looked pretty (again situation normal).  From the bakery we headed to the Catacombs.

The Catacombs are underground ossuaries in Paris which hold the remains of millions of people. It is not for the faint-hearted but it was interesting to visit. Connor and I thought it was quite expensive for what it is but we did enjoy navigating the tunnels bursting with remains using the audio guides. We booked the tickets in advance which I would recommend as people were queuing for 1.5-2hours to gain entry.

The next museum on the list was Musée d’Orsay. I loved the Musée d’Orsay as it has all the French impressionist painters, especially Degas which reminded me fondly of my late Nanna. I preferred the Musée d’Orsay to the Louvre, as did Connor.

After returning to the Jardin du Luxembourg for lunch, I dragged Connor, kicking and screaming (I joke), shopping to Galeries Lafayette. This is a massive department store spanning across several buildings, divided into women’s, men’s and home. Even if you don’t like shopping, it is worth visiting just for the amazing architecture and fantastic ceiling the building has to offer.

Our last attraction was La Basilique du Sacré Cœur which is a Catholic church. The church was beautiful and I would definitely recommend going to see the panoramic view of Paris.  After, we headed to Sacré Fleur for our last meal before getting the Eurostar home.  Connor and I both had the fillet steaks which came with crusty bread (I love bread so much omg), homemade chips and three different sauces. The steak was cooked to perfection! For dessert we shared the brioche French toast – the only problem was that we wished we hadn’t shared!

 

Summary

Paris was a lovely city to visit and I’m so glad we went. Connor and I both rated the trip 8.5/10. We deducted points for the disappointment of Candelma and for the dirty, rough area we stayed in.

Day1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
Canal Saint-Martin Eiffel Tower Holybelly Du Pain et des Idées
Brick Top Pizza Seine boat trip Louvre Catacombs
Montparnasse Tower N2 Extreme Gelato Sainte Chapelle Musée d’Orsay
Arc de Triomphe Notre Dame Galeries Lafayette
Bois de Boulogne Jardin du Luxembourg La Basilique du Sacré Cœur
Amorino Sacré Fleur

Shake Shack Review

What, another burger review?! Last weekend was a weekend of burgers, after going to Hawker House on Friday, on Sunday I went to Shake Shack. I’d seen Shake Shack in Covent Garden but I’ve always chosen to go to other places instead but Connor (the boyf) assured me it was somewhere I needed to try.

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After the disappointment of the single patty disaster of the Bleecker Burger, I went for a double ShackMeister with bacon. The ShackMeister is a cheeseburger with crispy ale marinated shallots and ShackSauce. With my burger I had a chocolate peanut butter milkshake (despite Connor being allergic to nuts, I know, I know, I’m an awful girlfriend but needs and musts n all) and Connor and I shared the BBQ bacon cheese fries.

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The burgers are definitely more of a fast food burger as opposed to a gourmet burger but the combination of the crispy shallots, bacon, double patty and bright yellow plastic cheese was amazing. If only the cheese was of slightly better quality and the bun wasn’t so thin! I was in my element while eating this burger and I didn’t want it to end. The crinkle fries were also pretty good but I think I prefer more traditional fresh cut fries as they did seem like the variant you’d find from the frozen aisle of the supermarket. I felt they could have been more sparing with the cheese but the bacon and BBQ sauce was delicious. The chocolate peanut butter milkshake was nice but no where near as good as others I have tried. The peanut butter flavour was in fact just syrup which was all at the bottom of the shake. I was disappointed to see that there was no cookies n cream shake on the menu!

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Ratings
Burger – 8/10
Fries – 7/10
Milkshake – 5/10

 

6 Ways to Cheer Yourself Up

Truth be told, I’ve been feeling quite stressed and generally down recently as I have quite a lot on my plate at the moment, along with preparations for the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships in South Africa. These are a few things that I find help to cheer me up when I’m feeling down, grumpy and stressed.

  1. Take a long hot shower or bath
    Unfortunately I don’t have a bath in my current flat but a long hot shower is also nice. Take the opportunity to shave, exfoliate and wash your hair with your favourite products.
  2. Apply a layer of fake tan
    I know this sounds silly but applying a bit of colour to my pale, office sheltered skin makes me feel so much better about myself – I just feel like I look healthier!
  3. Cook your favourite dinner
    Cook yourself a yummy dinner that you can enjoy eating and look forward to – none of that Tupperware!
  4. Take a selfie
    Again I know this sounds silly but I find I feel much better and self confident in myself if a take a cheeky selfie!
  5. Write down three positives aspects of your day
    This is something that I learnt from attending the #GirlGains events. ‘There is something good in every day’ and this task helps to clear your mind of negative thoughts.
  6. SMILE!
    It’s so easy to have a pity party but that won’t make you feel any better! Smile – whether it’s to a stranger on the train or to your family and friends.

Wellthos Box Review

Wellthos kindly sent me one of their subscription boxes to review. I find these subscription boxes can be very hit and miss. Sometimes you can be left with loads of things that you don’t like but Wellthos carefully tailor the box to help ‘inspire you to lead an active and healthy lifestyle’. I received the box at work and it really made my day. The box was presented so neatly and looking at all the goodies instantly lifted my mood.

 

Pip and Nut Peanut Butter

I was so excited to see my favourite peanut butter in the box.  I have already demolished half of the jar…

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The Protein Ball Co.

I don’t usually enjoy the taste of cherry and almond together as it’s like cherry bakewell but I really enjoyed the protein balls. I found they were quite addictive…

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Hippeas Organic Chickpea Puffs

I hadn’t tried these before and didn’t really know what to expect. Oh my goodness, they are amazing! So much flavour and so satisfying to eat!

 

The Organic Protein Company Organic Whey Protein

I find the sachets of protein are so useful if you’re on the go. I had The Organic Protein Company whey protein in my oats and it had a lovely milky flavour. I would buy this in the future!

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T+ Drinks Smarter Tea

As a green tea lover, I was happy to see this in the box and I’ve taken it to work to enjoy.

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POW Energy Water

I hadn’t heard of POW before but the energy water was quite nice. It was overly strong but like a subtle lemonade.

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Kiki Health Nature’s living Superfood

I would have had no idea how to use this if the Wellthos box didn’t include a recipe card with a superfood powder pesto recipe. For the recipe, you need a food processor which I don’t have so realistically I don’t think I will actually use this – being completely honest! I think the recipe cards are a good idea and it would be good if the box had more of them.

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Doisy and Dam

The chocolate was very rich. It’s a flavour I wouldn’t have personally bought but it was interesting to try and I think I will use it in recipes.

 

Zaramama Pop-a-Cob Midnight Blue

I haven’t had my popcorn yet but my sister bought me one of these as a present one Christmas. They’re delicious and it’s actually quite exciting seeing it all pop off the cob!

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Team Soda Fitness Speed Rope

I like how the box isn’t just food and drink items. I think the speed rope is a cool idea! The box could use another item that isn’t food or drink related to balance it out. I think that this would also help it to stand out from similar products on the market.

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Overall Verdict

I really enjoyed my Wellthos box. I love how it was all presented – very aesthetically pleasing. My favourite products were the Pip and Nut, Hippeas Organic Chickpea Puffs and the Team Soda Fitness Speed Rope. The box has opened my eyes to products I wouldn’t have bought otherwise, a prime example being the Hippeas! I would be keen to see what products future boxes hold.

Rating 8/10

2016 – a Year in Review

2016 has been a rollercoaster of a year for me. I have had the chance to compete internationally as a powerlifter, I have graduated and started my new job.

In January, I was invited to the GB team squad training which was sandwiched in between my first semester final year university exams. From the training, I was selected to go to the European Classic Championships in Estonia in March. I came third overall in the Junior u47kg category at the European Classic Champs with a silver medal in the deadlift which was also a Junior British deadlift record of 120kg. Under a week later, I competed at the British Universities Championship where I came first in the u47kg category despite feeling horrifically fatigued from being Estonia having travelled back only a few days before. I learnt that doing two competitions less than a week apart is something I do not want to do again – it’s too much!

 

From March to June, I was training, completing my final year project/dissertation and revising for my second semester final year exams at university. I completed my final university exams in June and a few days later, I flew off to Texas to compete at the World Classic Championships. Training for Worlds, completing my dissertation and revising for my finals all simultaneously was extremely challenging but I’m thankful for the opportunities given to me. At the World Classic Champs, I came fourth in the Junior u47kg category and I achieved a bronze medal in the deadlift, breaking the Junior British record again with 125kg. I was so unbelievably proud to be on the podium at Worlds as I didn’t expect it! After Worlds, I travelled to New York to visit my cousin for a few days which was an opportunity of a life time and a trip I will treasure forever.

 

Once I returned from New York, I had approximately six weeks until the All England Championships. After being on such a high from all the excitement, I did feel an anti-climax coming home which I think affected my training. In July, I graduated from Loughborough University with a First Class Honours BSc in Computer Science. I was so proud of myself for achieving a First after such a busy few months. In August, I competed and came first at the All England Championships but I took a different approach to the competition. I allowed myself to be more relaxed and enjoyed it a lot more as a result. After the competition, I went to Mallorca with my family for a much needed holiday.

In September, I moved to London and started my graduate job. It was hard to adjust to a new environment, a desk job and to training after a day at work. Subsequently, a back niggle gradually came on and despite de-loading, it became more of an injury. Although, I did reduce the weight I was lifting, I wanted to compete at the British Classic Championships in October as it was my last competition as a Junior. I came third at this competition and my deadlift was 15kg below my personal best due to my back. I was content with new personal best for my squat and bench. I also had my powerlifting club, my mum, my sister and my coach travel to Newcastle to support me which meant the world.

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Since my last competition, I have been working on my mobility and trying to correct my APT (Anterior Pelvic Tilt) among other postural issues. I believe that this is the reason I have had muscular problems /pains with my back in the past. At the end of November, after four years my boyfriend and I parted ways which was hard but everything happens for a reason. I spent December building up my training slowly again. I also enjoyed the festive indulgences with friends, creating a month of memories so as to end 2016 on a high.

2016 – you were a crazy year, full of ups and downs but definitely a year to be remembered.

 

 

 

The Foodie Fitness Freak Christmas Gift Guide

I LOVE Christmas but sometimes it can be so hard trying to figure out what to buy for your friends and family. I’ve put together a list of items (most of which I own so I can recommend) in different price ranges which I believe would make good presents for the ‘foodie fitness freak’. Some are tailored more towards powerlifting and the gym, others towards blogging and so on!

 

Under £5under5

  1. Grenade Carb Killa Protein Bar (my favourite flavours are White Chocolate Cookie and Caramel Chaos) – £2.50 from Grenade

  2. Heart Shaped Bowl – £3.00 from Wilko
  3. Pip and Nut Coconut Almond Butter – £4.59 from Holland and Barrett

 

Under £15under15

  1. Hard Spiky Massage Ball – £7.00 from 66fit

  2. Eat Well Every Day – Clean Eating Alice – £9.00 from Amazon (pre-order)
  3. The Goddess Revolution by Mel Wells – £10.68 from Amazon

  4. STRONG by Zanna Van Dijk – £11.04 from Amazon (pre-order)

 

Under £25

  1. Chilly’s Bottle – 500ml £20 from Chilly’sunder25

  2. Tobisha FlashAir WiFi SD Card (basically allows you to get photos straight from your camera to your phone) – 16GB – £23.99 from Amazon

 

 

Under £50under50

  1. JM Posner Waffle Maker – £26.95 from Amazon

  2. Strength Shop Fractional Plates – £39.99 from Strength Shop

 

More Expensive Giftsexpensive

  1. Lululemon Leggings – £88-£108 depending on style
    (I like the Align Pant II and the Wunder Under Hi-Rise styles) from Lululemon

  2. Inzer Lever Powerlifting Belt – £100 for 10mm, £124 for 13mm(excluding shipping) from Inzer

  3. Apple Watch  – £269 for series 1, £369 for series 2 from Apple

  4. Olympus PEN E-PL7 Camera – £399 from John Lewis

 

 

Champneys Spa Day

Last weekend I went to Champneys, Tring, for a spa day with my mum and sisters. I organised it as an opportunity to bring us together as we are all living in different places which means it can be hard to find time when we are all free. I actually managed to find the spa days on Groupon for slightly cheaper than usual but it was still in the price range of a special treat! One of my sisters and my mum had already been to Champneys for a spa day several years ago but I wasn’t old enough to go with them at the time (yes, a very long time ago) so it’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years!

When we arrived at Champneys, we were promptly greeted and ushered to the front desk where the itinerary for our day was explained to us. We were also given our complementary flip-flops! The staff were lovely and led us to our light breakfast which was first on the agenda.

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I was so impressed with the breakfast buffet. There was a range of fresh fruit, greek yogurt with a berry compote topped with granola and smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels. To drink they had multiple teas, coffee, orange juice, cranberry juice and a ginger, cranberry and apple drink. My favourites were the smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels and the ginger, cranberry and apple drink, both of which were divine.

After breakfast, we went and found the lockers which we had been allocated for the day. The lockers contained our Champneys bath robes/dressing gowns which most of the guests spent all day in – including us! The lockers were plenty big enough for our bags and coats but the only problem we had was that my sister’s locker was jammed. After finding someone at reception to unlock it, we got changed and went to the swimming pool.

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The swimming pool was empty when we went in and we never found it to be busy (with the exception of a fitness class in the pool) which meant that you could have a leisurely swim. My mum, myself and one of my sisters also had Thalassotherapy in the Thalasso pool included in our day. The Thalasso pool had five stations which had water jets in different places and of different styles. During the Thalassotherapy treatment, we rotated between the different stations. It was quite relaxing having the jets massaging your body while having a chat! The spa kindly allowed my other sister to swap her Thalassotherapy treatment for a facial as she is pregnant and it is not recommended during pregnancy. After the Thalassotherapy, we went in the jacuzzi which was outside. This was my favourite out of the ‘pools’ as the air was cold and fresh but the jacuzzi was boiling hot – perfect.

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After drying off, we went to lunch. All of the meals were balanced and healthy but still plentiful. The lunch buffet was beautifully arranged with an array of hot dishes, bread, soup, salads and desserts. I really, really enjoyed the lunch. The food was so delicious – I only wish I had a second stomach. My favourites were the fresh crusty bread with whipped beetroot butter, the lamb and apricot tagine with couscous and the chicken fajitas with guacamole. From the puddings, my favourite was the lime and coconut rice pudding which I am desperately going to try and recreate!

Once we had finished all of our helpings of lunch, we went to the Terrace cafe for hot drinks. There was a bit of a mix up and we ended up with three drinks instead of four and the lady behind the counter wasn’t particularly helpful or in a rush to serve anyone. Despite this, my hot chocolate was perfect and warmed me up as I hoped it would. As you can imagine, we were all feeling quite full after all the food so we went for a walk to explore the grounds. The walk was refreshing and it was so relaxing to be in the countryside without a busy road in earshot.

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Our next treatment was a 25 minute massage. The lady who did my massage was lovely and made me feel so comfortable. The heated massage bed was like a massive hug and I didn’t want to get up after! I felt that 25 minutes is definitely not long enough for a massage and I felt the massage could have been firmer even after telling masseuse to be so. I thought it was very well organised that the spa managed to book the four of us to has massages at the same time as it meant that we could organise our day as a group.

We also booked additional treatments while we were there. One of my sisters and I had manicures and my mum booked a facial. I thought the ability to book more treatments on the day was handy and it meant we could fully indulge in the spa experience.

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As part of the spa day, fitness classes were also included. Our set lunch time and massage times meant that we were limited to what we could do. I would have liked to have gone to Pilates and Fighting Fit but it would have meant we that we would have rearrange our lunch and our treatments (not worth the hassle). To end the day, we did all go to a Stretch and Relax class. This class was a combination of yoga and stretching which was taught at a level accessible to all. The instructor was brilliant and kept on reminding us to work at our own level.

Overall, I would recommend the Champneys spa day and I hope to return. The whole experience oozed luxury and class. It was the perfect opportunity to relax and spend time with my family (with the except of my poor dad). A spa day would make an expensive but amazing Christmas present *cough cough, hint hint* (I’m so subtle). You can find out more about the Champneys spa days on their website.

 

JimJams Product Review

JimJams sent me their Milk Chocolate Spread and Raspberry Jam to review.

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As an avid lover of the JimJams Hazelnut Chocolate spread (I’ve bought a ridiculous amount of jars from H&B now it’s so easy to get hold of), I was interested to see if the Milk Chocolate spread and Raspberry Jam were as good.

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Milk Chocolate Spread

The spread has the same silky smooth texture as it’s hazelnut sibling – divine. It definitely tastes like milk chocolate and I wouldn’t have known that it contains 83% less sugar. At £2.79, I think the spread is well worth it considering I’ve paid more than £6 for a jar of peanut butter before (don’t ask, I know it’s ridiculous).

Overall rating 10/10 – I have no negative comments

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Raspberry Jam

I was a bit apprehensive about trying the jam after seeing mixed reviews – one saying that it lacks flavour. I’m not sure if this person received a faulty jar because it looked and tasted like normal jam to me. I think if I was being extremely picky, I would say you could slightly taste that it is bit different from normal jam. I will definitely buy this flavour again though.

Overall rating 9/10

Healthier Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Protein Brownies

Now that it’s nearly Christmas, salted caramel flavoured products are everywhere. Here is a recipe for healthier peanut butter salted caramel brownies which also will help you to your daily protein and fibre goals.

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Ingredients

Brownies

 

Filling – peanut butter ‘salted caramel’

  • 15g peanut butter
  • 7g date nectar (Beloved)
  • approx. 2 drops of salted caramel essence

 

Method

  1. In a bowl, mix together the beef protein, whey protein, coconut flour, oat flour, sugar substitute, VitaFiber, psyllium husks, baking powder and cinnamon
  2. Add approx. 50ml of water and the coconut oil to the mixture and whisk
  3. Add in the egg and continue to whisk
  4. Mix in the peanut butter and salted caramel essence
  5. If the mixture is too stiff to whisk, add more water
  6. Transfer the mixture to a greased tin and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 12-15 minutes
  7. While the brownies are in the oven, mix together the peanut butter, date nectar and salted caramel essence in a bowl with a few drops of water until smooth
  8. Once the brownies have cooled, slice into six and then slice each one again horizontally
  9. Sandwich the brownies together using the filling and enjoy!