Cold-Pressed Protein Balls

One of the great things about the focus on food trends are the innovative new products that appear on the shelves. Sometimes it can be overwhelming with the amount of choice, yet the fact that there can be so much choice now is truly a positive change in the retail food industry.

For me, the most exciting thing of this trend is the combination of healthy yet tasty food products. Now there are numerous ‘super-foods’ out there and companies have tried to make these ‘super-foods’ into tantalising products – kale cupcakes, beetroot brownies, courgette loaf – and whilst some do succeed, others just don’t seem to hit the mark to be sustainable but are part of a fad phase that goes as quickly as it came.

However I love finding those products that are not necessarily ‘super-foods’ but are healthy everyday ingredients that firms have combined to provide nutritional value. Whether that benefit is more protein or less cholesterol or lower carbohydrates, it’s interesting to witness the innovation and passion of companies to do good for consumers.  Of course, there are those mavericks who just say their products are healthy but actually really aren’t!

Much of the trend for this are energy balls which seem to be taking over the market to provide nutritional value in a snack-bite manner. The energy ball market seems to have exploded recently within the fitness world – however these are starting to seep into the mass-consumer market due to their convenience for time-constrained consumers; think breakfast-on-the-go or mid-morning snacks.

Vigor Protein Balls – Sample Pack (Date & Cacao, Peanut Butter, Lemon & Blueberry)

Rating: 7 out of 10

Appeals to: gym-goers, healthy-conscious eaters, time-restraint consumers!


I love the packaging of these – they’re brightly coloured, small enough to hold in your hand and easy to store. My bug-bear with energy balls is that they usually come in a bag or a plastic tub and I always think they are going to get squashed in my bag.  However the sturdy cardboard material of this product lets me just throw it in my bag safe in the knowledge that when I dig it out later they will still be intact and not all squished together.  I also think the shape of the packaging is helpful too – easy to grip and hold in your hand.  I’m a huge fan of colour and love how the bright colours are eye-catching and pop out on a shelf or in your bag/cupboard.  The nutritional information and ingredients are easy to read and the fact you can see the product too is always a tick in my box.


£5.99 for a sample pack of three via the company website. I think this is fair price as in each pack you receive 2 or 3 energy balls, plus a range of flavours.  If I just bought one pack for roughly £2 I would think I’m getting fair value for money in terms of quantity, and it’s in line with the price range for other products of the same ilk.


I have tried a lot of protein based ‘treats’ during my time when I was really into my gym and work-out sessions. Quite frankly I found them difficult to eat and digest as they tasted like cardboard.  So I was slightly wary of trying these energy balls, especially as they are meant to be protein based.  However, although not totally bowled over I was pleasantly surprised as you could taste the flavours (peanut butter has the strongest).  However there is still the lingering dryness that is associated with many protein promoted products.  I don’t think many protein based products can get away with letting go of the dry taste,although these energy balls do try to at least have some genuine flavour in them rather than the majority which has either chocolate or caramel to try and cover the bland taste.  The peanut butter flavour is definitely the most flavoursome but the lemon and blueberry comes a close second- it’s refreshing to have a protein product with a fruit flavour.

Verdict: in a word – worth-a-try (3 words in 1!). These are a really good attempt to offer something different in the protein-based energy ball market.  There are a lot of protein products available yet these do stand out for packaging, different flavours and for appealing to all for a quick snack on the go.


I would love to hear your thoughts if you have tried this product – feel free to leave comments below.

Guest Blogger: Mrs M.

About Me

As a person with a recently diagnosed sensitive digestive system, I’m now on a path to make sure I eat well whilst still enjoying myself. Having been fearful of food, I now love finding new products, going to new restaurants to try new twists on dishes and am constantly looking for quirky items to consume.  I’m a huge supporter of simple food that is made tasty with the right combination of ingredients and more importantly enjoying your food and diet in a balanced way.  That means I always have room for my favourite item – chocolate!



Improve Your Workplace Coffee Game!

I wrote a post recently about how I was changing my coffee habits to stop punishing my taste buds and banish the bland freeze-dried rubbish in favour of proper coffee; and I’m pleased to say that I have made that change. However I’m still not coffee satisfied – I’m ashamed to admit that my coffee game at work is average to poor at best. So I need to make another stand.

When you think about a brew at work you think of a battered tea tray, chipped mugs and a shared tea spoon; not the kind of thing that’s going to make anyone leave their desk. If you’re lucky you might have a machine that was installed in the early 90s with some incompatible cartridges that produce a bitter, foamy sludge as opposed to anything that has ever been introduced to a coffee bean. Surely we don’t have to put up with this crappy coffee? Even Maccy D’s has a more impressive coffee craft than most busy workplaces.

northernmunkeebites.honestcoffee1This set me off on a mission. A mission to find a better brew. A mission to find something that would make me get up from my desk rather than bury my head in my laptop through the 3pm slump! Then I came across Honest Coffees.

Honest Coffees share my disgust (although they’re good people so probably wouldn’t use such a visceral word) at the workplace coffee scene and have made it their mission to place foamy smiles on the faces of middle management with a better quality coffee from their machines. I appreciate that there can be a stigma around a coffee fuelled day and I’m certainly not advocating creating an office environment in a caffeine frenzy but I do have a dream.

Imagine the scene: it’s month end and you’ve got a pile of ominous, looming invoices casting a shadow over your desk that need completing by yesterday; your boss has just sent you the third passive aggressive email reminding you of your inadequacies and that you haven’t realised your childhood dreams. So you push yourself back in your chair and slide over to a coffee machine that is beaming and northernmunkeebites.honestcoffeeshiny and not covered in dubious, aged stains. You push the button and wait for the unmistakable, sensual coffee aroma to envelop you as you take a few seconds to forget the world. You take the first sip of your brew and exhale as your boss’ email melts away from your memory. Going back to your desk doesn’t seem so bad now.

So finding solutions like Honest Coffees machines has given me some hope for the workplace and better still these guys pride themselves on ethical sourcing, meaning you can enjoy great-tasting coffee safe in the knowledge that it’s better for the farmers too. I’m a huge advocate of ethical sourcing to create a sustainable and realistic supply chain and this should be a big focus wherever you are.

For too long bland, unethical brews have ruled the roost in the workplace being favoured for convenience and expense amongst the overworked and underpaid. Join me in making a stand and banish the bland brew!



Pipped to the Post!

Product Review: Pip & Nut

So it’s official. I’m an addict, but that’s ok right? The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem…but my problem is I don’t want to admit, not yet. Hi, my name is Northern Munkee and I’m a Nut Butter Nutter.

Not much has changed in the market place since my peanut butter series but this blog opens up something completely new to the category: on-the-go.

On-the-go is a very trendy category and it’s one that a lot of suppliers and retailers are desperate to get right. The beauty is that the on-the-go category is so expansive and subjective. What is it? It’s impulse, it’s snacking, it’s portion-control, it’s portable, it’s handheld, it’s over-priced, it’s…not easy to define. What this shows is a shift in eating habits that started in the early 90s and is driven by our time poor society. Take breakfast for example. When I was growing up breakfast was a meal taken at the table or at worst in front of the TV but I was definitely sat down. It wasn’t a chilled, oaty, yoghurt drink gulped down as I’m reminded to ‘Mind the Gap’ as I alight the tube! This movement in the breakfast category has been a long time coming with breakfast bars first introduced with Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain in 1996. The category has developed since then but the pace has really picked up in the last 5 years and handheld is certainly the present and almost certainly the future!

One issue this does present is competition. All of a sudden, as a supplier, you’re not just looking left and right at competitors within your category. You’re now watching your back from, well, almost anyone; even nut butter manufacturers brands…

I’m going to assess the Squeeze Packs in their own little review at the bottom of this, just to make sure I do them justice!

Rating: 9.8/10

Appeals to: nutbutter nutters, peanut fans, those against boring toast


This is spot on. The most obvious thing about the packaging is that the brand values and personality shines through. It’s fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously which will really appeal to the excited generation of nutbutter nutters.


£2.29 (250g Jar) – this is actually really reasonable for the category and, potentially, undervalues the product slightly. However this price point does allow Pip & Nut to establish itself as a credible premium option and steal some share from the palm-oil loving Whole Earth.


So, what makes Pip & Nut different? Well it has the mark of quality that all good nutbutters should, the separation of the nut oil. It has familiar and appropriate flavours. But for me the thing that makes it stand out, and achieve the best score I’ve given so far as a blogger, is the consistency; it’s not smooth but it’s not crunchy. Your mouthful is interrupted just the right amount of times by variation in texture and nutty goodness.

Peanut Butter

This was brilliant. It had an initial creaminess presented by the nut oil that was embraced by a sticky, nutty aftertaste. I usually like my peanut butters a bit more crunchy than this but the taste was just superb.

Almond Butter

This butter is superb. It’s sweet but has a really rich texture so what it gives to peanut butter in terms of earthiness it makes up for in texture and creaminess.

Coconut and Almond Butter

These flavour combinations work perfectly well together. The oaty hit from the initial coconut flavours merge into a sweet almond paste that makes for a really light and delicate spread. This has to be my favourite of the bunch!

Honey Cinnamon Cashew Nut Butter

This jar delivers three layers of flavour. First you get a smooth sweet honey which builds in intensity as it passes onto a sweet, creamy cashew nut and the last out of the blocks is the light heat of cinnamon. What a brilliant creation.

Squeeze Packs

Quite simply brilliant. The flavour delivery was exactly the same as the jars. The packaging was absolutely appropriate to the audience and on-trend. This will appeal fantastically well to the main growth drivers of the nutbutter category: fitness fanatics. I think this is a very shrewd move by Pip & Nut and they’ve listened very closely to their customers and delivered a pack that’s more appropriate for their mission which is absolutely on-the-go. They’re priced at £0.99 RSP so, again, I believe that Pip & Nut are doing themselves a disservice here because the fitness category is expensive with protein bars commanding a premium price point. So if you’re a gym-goer, a cyclist, a runner or just one of those characters with all-the-gear-and-no-idea then you need to bin that Cyclone bar and pick up a Squeeze Pack!

Verdict – in a word, fantastic! The delivery on the nutbutters is fantastic but for me the real gem in this review is the squeeze packs. It’s absolutely bang on trend and what the category needs. I’m excited to see how the story develops with squeeze packs but I can only see it get bigger and bigger.


Northern Munkee.