Eating Well This January: Eating In

OK, so I’m going to assume that a lot of you are like me in that you may have over indulged a little over the Christmas break; am I right? Well if you’ve done that then you probably also spent most of the Twixmas period trying to eat all the bad things left in the house before January arrives; still on track? Now it’s time to admit that you’ve started making strange noises when you raise yourself out of a chair and to do something about it.

I’m not into that ‘New Year, New Me’ bullshit but I do believe that making lifestyle changes can provide a good platform to being a bit happier and a bit healthier. So, I’m on a quest to find ways to eat well but improve my health at the same time.

Mrs Munkee and I have opted to give the paleo diet a try. Now, I’m not usually a fad-follower but I want to get my mission into print then I will feel more obliged to stick to it and will be publically shamed if I fail! I do want to be clear though: this does NOT mean that I will be neglecting my duties as a Food Adventurer. Instead, what I want to do is find ways to eat great food that fit within the parameters of a healthy lifestyle and food routine.

Please don’t be alarmed though. January’s blog series won’t be preachy and I won’t be turning into a spandex-clad-Mr Motivator-look-a-like. It’s just another leg to my Food Adventure.

Rating: 8/10

Appeals to: healthy, on-the-hoof snackers and early adopters

Packaging

There is nothing else like this in the mainstream marketplace so Bounce needs to stand out and it certainly achieves that. The packaging is vibrant, bright and simple and will definitely appeal to its target market. The one miss, in my view, is in portraying what the food actually is. If I’m honest I didn’t know what I was opening apart from I knew it was a healthy, protein ball. If you’re already bought into the concept of Bounce snacks then you will go looking for it and be able to find it but I’d question whether a teetering shopper would be swayed to trial without knowing what’s inside.

Price

£1.42 – this price point goes further to establishing what the product actually is and where it should sit in store. This would look out of place next to a 40g packet of crisps but sit comfortably in the healthy snacking arena in between nut mixes and baked oat bars.

Delivery

Surprisingly brilliant. I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened my first Bounce ball. I was presented with what I can only describe as a multi-textured, dense pebble. So I was still sceptical.

However, once I’d worked my way through my first bite I could instantly understand the popularity of this brand. The producers have managed to create a symphony of delicate flavours in a very small package; but the best thing about it was: I was full. This is the perfect pre-workout/post-workout/3pm slump at your desk/hungover-need-food snack!

Verdict – in a word, serendipitous! If you’re not familiar with the concept of Energy Balls, as I wasn’t, then it does require a leap of faith but I would urge you to take that dive. There is a huge need for great tasting functional snacks to cater for the lifestyle managing masses and suppliers are following over themselves to meet it; I think Bounce have certainly found their path!

Details: http://www.uk.bouncefoods.com

 Northern Munkee.

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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

Packaging

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.

Price

£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.

Delivery

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.

Details: http://www.pipandnut.com/

Northern Munkee.

Pink and Wight

Nut Butter Mini-Series: Pinks Foods

This is the final installment in my Nut Butter Mini-Series exploring various nut butter brands from brilliant producers around the UK. I am a nut butter nutter – I love the stuff! I can eat it straight from the jar with a spoon, on porridge, in a quick butty or as an ingredient in a fancy meal.

The nut butter market has exploded over the last couple of years and, alongside chocolate, is supporting the entire spreads market in the UK. In recent weeks a catastrophic shift has occurred in mainstream retail that signals how shoppers have shifted their buying habits as Whole Earth overtook Hain Celestial’s Sun-Pat in the nut butter rankings. Now, Whole Earth, isn’t the best example of this new trend as it does contain nasties but this news is a great dipstick into what the modern consumer is now demanding of the fixture.

So what’s driving this surging growth in nut lustings? Well it’s partly due to health connotations and the protein junkies; it’s also partly down to the purists seeking foods provided completely by Mother Earth and, as much as we may not like this fact, we can also thank our cousins across the pond who’s love affair with nut butters is a daily rendez-vous!

Right, enough of that! On with my review…

Product Review: Pinks Foods Peanut Butters

Rating: 7.5/10

Appeals to: this peanut butter has a really different taste to anything I’ve tried before so if you’re a nut butter nutter like me, you need to try it!

Packaging

The packaging and branding is brilliant. The subtle line-drawn imagery oozes handmade qualities with a cheeky winged-orange for good measure!

Price

£4.50– this is what I’d expect to pay for a hand milled nut butter. Caveat emptor need not apply here; you know you’re getting quality because you’re paying a good price.

Delivery

The flavour profile really is intriguing. It doesn’t have the initial creaminess that seep through other nut butters and there is a strong taste of the peanut skin which creates this unique taste. The fact that this is milled into the product fortifies the nutritional value with increased antioxidants, phenolics and fibre. The product still carries a healthy layer of nut oil to smooth the path down the gullet but the eat is very different to the other brands in this mini-series.

Verdict – in a word, intriguing! As a nut butter nutter I love the subtle nuances in flavour differences that the production process of peanut butters can emit and this certainly is an individual example. So if you consider yourself to be nut nobility then you must try this!

Details: www.pinksfoods.co.uk

Northern Munkee.

Nut Shot

Nut Butter Mini-Series: Nut Shot

This is the second in my Nut Butter Mini-Series exploring various nut butter brands from brilliant producers around the UK. I am a nut butter nutter – I love the stuff! I can eat it straight from the jar with a spoon, on porridge, in a quick butty or as an ingredient in a fancy meal.

The nut butter market has exploded over the last couple of years and, alongside chocolate, is supporting the entire spreads market in the UK. In recent weeks a catastrophic shift has occurred in mainstream retail that signals how shoppers have shifted their buying habits as Whole Earth overtook Hain Celestial’s Sun-Pat in the nut butter rankings. Now, Whole Earth, isn’t the best example of this new trend as it does contain nasties but this news is a great dipstick into what the modern consumer is now demanding of the fixture.

So what’s driving this surging growth in nut lustings? Well it’s partly due to health connotations and the protein junkies; it’s also partly down to the purists seeking foods provided completely by Mother Earth and, as much as we may not like this fact, we can also thank our cousins across the pond who’s love affair with nut butters is a daily rendez-vous!

Right, enough of that! On with my review…

Product Review: Nut Shot Chunky Peanut Butter

Rating: 8/10

Appeals to: this is the purest of pure peanut butters with (literally) one ingredient so this product will particularly appeal to health nuts (pun definitely intended).

Packaging

Well, marketeers always talk about ‘popping off the shelf’ (apologies, disgusting phrase I know) and this brand definitely meets that brief! The colours are vibrant, it’s fun and it will stand out against the wallpaper that is the rest of the category. This jar will certainly appeal to a younger audience and the tongue-in-cheek branding will have the students gathering and gawping.

Price

£2.95– this is a very reasonable price point when compared against its competitive set. I did pick this up in my local Spar so anything over the £3 threshold would have stood out like a sore thumb and, more than likely, gone dusty. On a side note: I think it’s great that this local shop is doing it’s bit to support artisanal producers and differentiating against the melting pot of generic retailers in the industry – well done you!

Delivery

Really very good! Please don’t be put off by the fact that you have to stir the nut butter before you consume; that’s how you know it’s good. The nut oil has separated from the solids and formed a delightful layer across the top of the jar. Stir it in and get amongst it! The delivery is astounding to say there is just one ingredient. It’s thick and chunky and just how I like it. This has a completely different consistency to the Funky Nut Co I tried earlier as it’s more of a nut pate than an out and out spread.

Verdict – in a word, amazing! I really like this product. It’s doing something different to other nut butters out there and really differentiates on taste. I can see why it may not be everyone’s cup of tea but, as an enthusiast, I’m a big fan.

Details: http://www.nutshot.co.uk

Northern Munkee.

Up Town Funk Your Nut!

Nut Butter Mini-Series: Funky Nut Co

This is the first in my Nut Butter Mini-Series exploring various nut butter brands from brilliant producers around the UK. I am a nut butter nutter – I love the stuff! I can eat it straight from the jar with a spoon, on porridge, in a quick butty or as an ingredient in a fancy meal.

The nut butter market has exploded over the last couple of years and, alongside chocolate, is supporting the entire spreads market in the UK. In recent weeks a catastrophic shift has occurred in mainstream retail that signals how shoppers have shifted their buying habits as Whole Earth overtook Hain Celestial’s Sun-Pat in the nut butter rankings. Now, Whole Earth, isn’t the best example of this new trend as it does contain nasties but this news is a great dipstick into what the modern consumer is now demanding of the fixture.

So what’s driving this surging growth in nut lustings? Well it’s partly due to health connotations and the protein junkies; it’s also partly down to the purists seeking foods provided completely by Mother Earth and, as much as we may not like this fact, we can also thank our cousins across the pond who’s love affair with nut butters is a daily rendez-vous!

Right, enough of that! On with my review…

Product Review: Funky Nut Co’s Honey & Sea Salt Peanut Butter

Rating: 9.5/10

Appeals to: just about anyone in my opinion, you don’t have to be a health-conscious hippy to appreciate this nutty goodness!

Packaging

Now, I happen to know that Funky Nut Co has just undergone a packaging refresh from something very appropriate on the shelves of specialist and artisanal retailers to something that is now equipped to compete in mainstream retail. I love the new packaging. It’s simple, it says premium and it embodies the brand. Good work!

Price

£4.00 – this is exactly where I’d expect the product to be priced. It is more premium than a lot of brands in the peanut world but this differentiates it as a more premium proposition. In my opinion the price, on this occasion, isn’t a barrier to entry for the target consumer, it is an indicator of quality.

Delivery

Fantastic! As a nut butter nutter I’ve tried a fair few different brands so I’d like to think I know a good one when it jumps on my spoon…and this one is bloody good!! The sweet, earthy tones from the honey entertain your taste buds to pave the way for the creamy, crunchy nutty bursts that crowd your mouth. The salt sifts through at the end to release further dulcet tones of a combination of cream, sweet and nut. Brilliant!

Verdict – in a word, hard-to-beat (yes that’s one word!). I have set the bar high by starting with Funky Nut Co in this mini-series. After perusing their website and seeing that they have a cornucopia of variants employing different nut varietals and inclusions, I think I might be making my Christmas list early this year!

Details: http://funkynutco.com

Northern Munkee.