Wednesday 25 September 2019

September 2019 Degustabox review : Family Sharing and Home Cooking

There was much excitement at The Madhouse this week when the postman dropped off our latest Degustabox. The kids couldn't wait to see what kind of goodies would be stuffed inside this month's box. Grabbing the information card, I discovered that this box has a theme that really appeals to me : Family Sharing and Home Cooking. Sounds perfect for our family.

Carefully unpacking everything on the table, I could instantly recognise most of the brand names, but as always, the Degustabox is a great way of trying out new product ideas from well-known brands that may well have passed by under the radar, as well as some new, unknown brands. Time to take a closer look at the contents of this month's box.

First, we pulled out two packs of Chum Fruit Bites (RRP 2 x 79p), in Peach and Berry flavours. As it says on the bottom of the packs, these snacks are 100% Wild, with No Fake Stuff. That means they are made with 100% fruit, no added sugar, they are non-GMO, Kosher, Vegan, Gluten-Free and even count as one of your 5-a-day fruit and veg portions. They are slow baked to retain vitamins, protein and fibre and, best of all, the kids loved them. Great as an after-school snack or for popping into a school lunchbox. The company even donates 15% of profits to, to help save their "chums". We'll be looking out for these again, as an occasional treat, as they have so many good points going for them.

There were lots of oohs and aahs when the kids spotted the next product - two bags of Milkybar Buttons (RRP 2 x 55p). I used to love eating these when I was a kid but I hadn't tasted them for ages, and I loved rediscovering the unique, smooth, creamy taste. The kids loved them too, obviously !  I'd never really thought about it, but as it says on the pack, milk is the number one ingredient in the chocolate, which is great. They are also free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives and these packs have a QR code on them which gives you access to '80 Awesome Things To Do'. I'll definitely be popping some of these in the trolley again too !

Another snack option that the kids already know and love - Hartley's Jelly (RRP 55p per pot). The Madhouse kids love jelly - both making it and eating it ! - so I knew they'd love the fruity taste of strawberry jelly. Having it in ready-to-eat pot form is great for packed lunches or instant snacking, when you can't be bothered to wait for jelly to set !

After lots of snacky things for the kids, I was pleased to find a more grown-up oriented product next, that I could sneak aside for me without feeling guilty ! - Alpen Protein bars in Berries & Yoghurt and Chocolate flavours (RRP £2.69 for a multipack of five bars). I have eaten Alpen muesli for breakfast before, but the bar format was a new idea, so I was keen to see what I'd think. They are designed to fill you up and keep you going for longer than a regular cereal bar, so I thought they'd pack in the calories, but looking closer, I was impressed to spot that they contain less than 130 calories per bar. They provide 19g of protein and are also high in fibre. They're great as a snack mid-afternoon when energy levels are slumping and you still have a couple of hours to get through at work !

Boka Cereal Bars (RRP 79p per bar or £2 for a multipack of four) are another great snack to pop in your bag for when you get the munchies. They come in Caramel and Choco Mallow flavours and, amazingly, they have four green traffic lights, meaning they are low in sugar, low in fats, low in salt and under 100 calories. They taste great and I was very surprised to see how "healthy" they are. Perfect for when you want something delicious as a guilt-free snack.

Back to the kids for the final snack option - Paw Patrol Yummy Bakes from Appy Kids Co (RRP £1). You get 5 bars in a box, making this great value. They are made with real fruit, fortified with fibre and baked with wheat and oats. No artificial colours, flavours and preservatives are added and no palm oil is used either. The kids thought they were nice and if you have a Paw Patrol fan in your midst, they'll be even more appealing.

Moving on to the 'home cooking" ingredients, I was very intrigued to discover a jar of Zhoug Pesto from Epicure (RRP £2.99). This is one of five products available in the box, with the others being Chermoula Pesto, Mojo Verde Pesto, Chakalaka Pesto and Chimichurri Pesto, giving you the chance to try out the flavours of Africa, the Middle East and the Canary Islands. The Zhoug Pesto promises to be a "spicy sauce with coriander and green chili" and can be used in a multitude of ways -stirring through pasta or rice, using it as a dip or marinade or even just dolloping some on the side of the plate (perfect for jazzing up your own dinner while cooking something "plain" for the kids, if they don't like spicy or exotically seasoned food).

Gran Gallo Risotto Arborio (RRP £2.29) offers a plump, stubby grain and a high starch content, which give it the perfect balance of creaminess and bite when making risotto. Riso Gallo bring you the best Italian risotto rice, selected from the best rice fields in Italy. I used to buy this (or something very similar from Riso Gallo) years ago, but I'd switched over to regular long grain rice as a shortcut. This has reminded me that the texture is completely different and you really should buy the proper risotto rice for a genuine, traditional flavour. Delicious - I'll definitely be buying it again.

Another product that I have used in the past - Very Lazy Garlic Paste (RRP £1.85). It's perfect for keeping in the fridge and stirring into everything from curries to spaghetti bolognese. Who needs to waste time peeling, chopping and crushing garlic? Who wants to avoid pongy fingers ?! It's great as a store-cupboard basic, for adding some extra zing to whatever you're cooking with minimum fuss.

Eisberg Sparkling Alcohol-Free Rosé (RRP £4) is lovely if you want a grown-up option for anyone who is pregnant or just trying to avoid the booze. It is bursting with the fruity notes of red cherry and strawberry and each 125ml glass only contains 33 calories. This sounds great as an option for Christmas, birthdays or just a friendly (alcohol-free) drink with the girls !

And finally for this month, Lucozade Zero, in Orange or Pink Lemonade flavour (RRP £1). (Subscribers received one or the other.) My first thought on seeing the name Lucozade was that they would be packed with sugar and calories but no, this is Lucozade Zero, now without the sugar. They taste lovely and are great straight out of the fridge.

This month's card offers a recipe for Pea and Marinated Cherry Tomato Risotto, which sounds lovely - I definitely think I'll be giving that a go. I love everything in this box and the kids have happily munched their way through most of it. I thought there were slightly too many snack bars in there, but the kids said I'm talking rubbish !

 A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which means you'll get the first box for just £7.99 - enter code PKUFE at the checkout.

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.

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