Sock Club Review: Treat your Feet!

In this digital, omniscient, incessant age of retail you can get almost anything delivered straight through your letterbox these days. You can order anything from a cheese toastie to a fully iced and decorated cake and it’ll slide through your letterbox just as easily as some dubious character could slide into your DMs on the social. It’s a sign of our evolving shopper behaviour and it’s being fuelled by rapidly advancing technology. One-hour deliveries are not fantastical but now seen as a consumer rite. What a time to be alive eh?

So, what’s so great about subscription boxes and why are they so attractive to the modern entrepreneur?

Let’s be clear: mail order and subscriptions are not new things. However, it’s clear that we’re experiencing a bit of a golden age; but why is that? Well subscription boxes have enjoyed surfing the wave of the ‘hypertechnology’ and exploded into our homes tapping into our increasingly busy diaries and the need for convenience over cost. We need subscription boxes because we forget to buy shaving cream, or we need someone to curate our fine food collections. It’s not viewed as luxurious but savvy.  The other key macro trend that subscription boxes feed off is our penchant for the personalised shopping experience. When we’re signed up to a subscription that we believe in we feel empowered, looked after and like we have our finger on the pulse. Subscription boxes are able to react quickly to trends and deliver with gousto (pun not intended…well maybe a little) which is a dream for any early adopter.

As for the entrepreneurial populous, they seem to have fallen head over heels for subscription boxes for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, it’s the attraction of disintermediation. We want a personal relationship with brands and the brands have been desperate for us to accept their friend request for years! Secondly, it’s quite easy to get started. You only really need an idea, some boxes, minimal stock and a website and you’re away. Finally, and most importantly, subscription boxes give a platform for the most coveted of marketing territories: loyalty. Brands crave shopper loyalty like a dog in the park craves its shiny red ball. We’ve been pretending to throw it for years and watching brands chase off into the distance only releasing it for an exclusive, salivating minority. Subscription boxes are the equivalent those fancy plastic throwing arms – catapulting our loyalty across the sunny park for brands to eagerly chase and retrieve.

Trends wax and wane in subscription boxes, as with all industries, but one that has caught my attention as being resistant to change is the male fashion trend; in particular: socks! So, when the opportunity presented itself to review a sock subscription box I jumped at it! Thanks to Sock Club Co for thinking of me…

Review: Sock Club UK

Rating: 9/10

Appeals to: trend hunters, business bods, those-needing-a-bit-of-colour-without-a-clue (me!)

Price: £9 per pair or £49 annual subscription


Fantastic! I’ve been trying to find a simile that does these socks justice without sounding over the top and, dare I say it for a blogger, disingenuous; so here goes: putting on these socks feels like you’re dipping your legs up to the shin in a soothing warm jacuzzi. The design on the two pairs that I received were spot on and, if I’m honest, not something I’d pick for myself which is exactly what I’d be looking for in a curated box. In my opinion a good pair of socks shouldn’t steal the show but just add flashes of brilliance – these socks definitely deliver against that.

Verdict – in a word, socksessful! Sorry, but I do love a pun! Most sock subscription boxes are pretty outlandish on price whereas Sock Club comes in at the right level yet still delivering the quality you’d expect. I can’t wait for my next parcel to drop through the letterbox.

If you like what you’ve read or even if you didn’t please leave me a cheeky comment below.

Northern Munkee.


Going Nuts…Over Nuts!

With the focus on healthy eating, there has been scare-mongering within the health PR industry to steer clear of items that are termed ‘junk’. Whether that’s pizzas, burgers and chips or crisps, chocolate and sweets.

So the search to find healthy replacements for these foods has surged with focus on energy bars and protein balls. Yet one of the food groups that has always seemed to balance between the healthy and the unhealthy are nuts and seeds.  This small yet powerful food group have been hailed as ‘superfoods’, ‘miracle-foods’ and everything else associated with ‘clean-eating’.  That is if you have them in moderate amounts of course otherwise they become the epitome of bad eating, unhealthy eating and everything else associated with over-eating!

Whilst nuts have been around for eons, and come in all shapes and sizes – the popularity of these have grown as consumers add pumpkin seeds to porridge, nibble on brazil nuts as an afternoon snack or grind almonds to make almond butter. They can be sweet or savoury, pre-meals or post-meals, starters or desserts.

The variety these little foods offer are endless.

Miss Nang Treats: Nang Cin-Almond, Nang Sweet Pea-Original, Nang Vee-Cornish

northernmunkeebites.missnang2Rating: 7 out of 10

Appeals to: nut-lovers and those with a sweet tooth who want to (try) and be relatively healthy


These delights come packaged in little bags of equal looking delight. Wrapped in clear bags with tasteful ribbons, the consumer can see the nuts clearly which are attractive.  The colours of the nuts add to the overall look and feel, one can see these presented as favours in weddings or gifted to loved ones for special occasions.  I like the fact that these are small enough to pop into your bag as well rather than being in a box or dividing up a larger bag.  The tasteful sticker details the ingredients, although perhaps the brand could be a little more prominent on this.


For 100g bag, ranges from £2-£3. These can be purchased from the website directly.  Although the price is a steep for one bag, these are intended as gifts and can be bought in bulk for events.  The price though for one bag can be deemed fair as the nuts do last over a few days/weeks and can be shared.  It helps manage consumption that’s for sure!


These little bags of nuts are tasty! The three different flavours I tried were all spot onnorthernmunkeebites.missnang1 with my favourite being the Cin-Almond one.  These were so more-ish, sweet without being too sweet, tasty without being overpowering.  Whilst they were sweet flavoured nuts, at no point did I feel guilty for having one too many.  The Nang Sweet Pea – Original were just incredible too, the ingredients just say sugar and salt but these seemed to have just the right balance of delicious-ness.  There is definitely a certain je ne sais quoi as you can’t quite put your finger on the flavours but whilst popping these in your mouth, all you need to do is savour and enjoy them rather than trying to figure it out.  Although I may not purchase these regularly, I do know where to go now for a tasty nut treat and to order some packets for special friends.

Verdict: in a word –more-ish. Whilst the price can initially cause you to pause to purchase, after tasting it you can see that it’s actually a fairly reasonable price.  The whole look and feel is of something that is quite homely and very personal.


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!


Big Ideas for Small Businesses

So the first thing I need to do here is come clean because I am a massive nerd. I love a good business book and I’ve read a good few. My book shelves are littered with frogs to eat, purple cows and moving cheese and my Audible account looks like an MBA lecturer’s wet dream. I have amassed a multitude of other regurgitateable business speak; but I don’t care. I am fully aware of the stigma that some of these texts carry and they are the root cause of cringeworthy conversations in board rooms across the world as big wigs play buzz word tennis as they seek to understand.

If you’re already in business you’ll know that everyone has an opinion. Everyone will believe they’ve got that silver bullet that you’ve missed in your business. Everyone will have something to say. So you need to be really cautious about who’s counsel you take and a lot of very successful business people will tell you that collecting advice is a road to indecision which can be true. However, I believe that knowledge is power and it’s that pursuit that keeps our ideas fresh and relevant. So, with that pursuit in mind, here’s my review of John Lamerton’s Big Ideas for Small Businesses.

northernmunkeebites.bigideasforsmallbusinessesBig Ideas for Small Businesses: John Lamerton

Rating: 9/10

Key Themes:

  • Ambitious Lifestyle Business
  • F*ck Fear
  • HIIT


This isn’t about stealing John’s thunder…because you should just get the book…but let me give you my humble opinion on why you should get the book.

Can I be honest? I was sceptical. I’ve read my fair share of books claiming to herald ‘advice’ for small businesses and, more often than not, they fall well short of the mark. However this book really delivered. It is full of simple, succinct and actionable advice and it’s not told from a pedestal. John Lamerton’s book combines a biographical narrative with sufficient breathing room for business advice relayed in a no nonsense fashion. This approach forges a bond between mentor and mentee that creates a sense of togetherness which is not apparent in other business literature I’ve read.

I chose to read the book as a linear narrative (starting at page 1 and working through to 236) however it’s structured in a fashion that allows the reader to dip in and out as appropriate. This book represents the opportunity to do the smart thing and learn from someone else’s mistakes and reap the benefits of insight from someone who has been there, done that and probably made profit from selling the t-shirts.

Verdict: in a word – inspiring! I read this book in one evening. I genuinely couldn’t put down. Now I’m not going to say this book will definitely revolutionise the way you conduct your business but what it will do is provide a tried and tested framework that you can implement today.

Northern Munkee.


Foodies in The Den (15:8)

I love Dragons’ Den. There, I said it. I know some business folk are a dismissive of the show because it can glamourise the investment process and potentially mislead around the rigor involved in securing funding – but I just love it! You can also accuse the show of sensationalising some of the issues which could literally make or break a young business but we’re all adults here so surely we know what we’re letting ourselves in for?

There are many reasons to love The Den and if it is used correctly it can be the perfect platform to propel a small business to the next level which is a fantastic gift to the small business world. However, I love it for one reason: the business lessons. It’s a marvellous microcosm for the business world and emphasises some of the amazing abilities and frustrating failings of the entrepreneurial world.

I have watched the show all the way through but this series I decided not to be a passive observer and get stuck in to offer my thoughts on any foodie that makes their way passed Evan’s lair in the basement and through those ominous sliding elevator doors. So this series I’m going to pull out some of the business lessons gleaned from any brave foodie to enter The Den. I’d also like to point out that what follows is not a criticism but a critique; even if it goes badly wrong, anyone that demonstrates the stones to go on TV to bare all has my respect!

northernmunkeebites.dragonsdenbtemptedSeason 15: episode 8

Entrepreneur(s): Sarah Hilleary

Company: B-Tempted

Elevator Pitch: great tasting gluten free cakes with 9 flavours in a range of formats

Asking For: £75k in exchange for 5% equity

What Went Well?

The Product: it’s on trend. The feedback from all the Dragons on taste was very complimentary, which is clearly a must. It’s well packaged and well thought out in terms of market positioning and pricing (which is usually out of kilter with reality on ‘artisan’ foods).

The Plan: the foodpreneur was very clear with her reason for entering The Den: the opportunity to launch in Tesco Express. Not only is it a great selling point but it shows very clear direction which is quite often lacking from pitches.

The Brand: I can’t say it loudly enough: YOU LIVE AND DIE BY YOUR BRAND. This brand was very well joined up; even down to the Temptation Officer living and breathing the brand assets with a cheeky wink every now and again.

What Could Have Gone Better?

The Numbers: Tuker said, ‘rule number 1 in The Den: you’ve got to get your figures right’. Well unfortunately she didn’t. However, Tuker did launch a bit of a financial assault on the foodie. You could argue it was a bit unfair and most people would crumble under that kind of pressure.

Business Valuation: now this is always a contentious issue – it’s the battle ground in an investor/entrepreneur relationship. For me the ball was dropped when the foodpreneur admitted that the valuation was delivered by a third party. Terminal Value calculated on hugely successful (and ultimately very different) business models was a faux pas.

‘Artisan’: I’m sorry but this is a bugbear of mine. The ‘artisan’ label has become far too manufactured and I fear it’s designed to hoodwink shoppers. If this business has designs on expansion that label cannot carry through.

What Other Lessons Can We Learn?

The Power is in the Plan: I truly believe that this pitch was saved because of the strength and clarity of the entrepreneur’s plan. For an investor it’s absolutely paramount that they understand where their money is going and how the entrepreneur is going to deliver the (usually) ambitious numbers. These elements were evident today!

Outcome: Success! 30% given to the new Dragon Tej Lalvani with a buy back option.

Would Munkee invest? Can I sit on the fence? The business proposition and branding are fantastic. However my nervousness is in the product category. It’s a crowded market and scalability isn’t easy without lowering quality or principles. However, if this is possible then B-Tempted might be onto a winner. So would I take a punt? Yeh go on!

Northern Munkee.


An egg-cellent replacer?

Eggs. That one simple word brings me so much joy.  I LOVE eggs.  Scrambled, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, poached, omelleted, mixing it with veg/salads/rice, fried over a crispy gluten-free toast…any concoction you can think of that would have eggs in or on it, I will devour.

Over the last year I have had to cut out a lot of foods but I refused to cut out eggs – I had read about the dangerous effects of eggs – too many will cause you cholesterol, hard-boiled will cause you constipation, non-organic will be pumped full of chemicals, organic eggs are smaller and so forth. However for some reason I never bought into the horrors of eggs as I did with other food products.  I saw them as my one thing that my digestive system couldn’t take away from me and out of sheer stubbornness refused to give them up.

Now as the market trend points towards veganism, with more and more people adopting this lifestyle –I also contemplated it. But the thought of giving up eggs was the one thing I couldn’t quite fully accept.  My mind-set had become so stuck in eggs being a saviour for me that letting go of it seemed impossible.

So I did what any other rational person would do – I googled! Searches showed me of course replacements for eggs in baking and cooking but I couldn’t seem to find an alternative to eating eggs as they were.  Then as the universe would have it, I was offered to review a product that seemed to hear my plea for non-egg eggs. It was also combatting the bad things I heard about eggs such as being cholesterol free and providing fibre as well so was definitely worth a try.

Orgran Vegan Easy Egg

Rating: 7 out of 10

Appeals to: vegans, free-from consumers.


The product comes in a bright yellow (naturally) rectangular cardboard box, large enough to make it feel like a substantial size but yet still small enough to be able to pour/tip the product. My first impressions was that it did not look like an egg carton which made me contemplate how could I make boiled eggs from this?!  The writing on the front clearly pointed out all the free-from benefits (it’s not only egg-free but gluten-free, wheat free, dairy free, soy free and yeast free), however the box was covered in writing on all sides making it a little difficult to read the main pointers you need.  Instructions on the back of the box explaining how to make the product with graphics were very helpful.


£4.45. I was kindly provided some samples but a quick search online showed me the price range and it felt quite high.  Although the packaging details that the product is equivalent to 15 eggs, it still seems vegan/free from products will continue to carry the high price tag as it’s not a mainstream lifestyle.


The product itself is a flour-based mix. You need to add water and oil to it, to then be able to make a mixture.  This you would then cook as you would normally cook scrambled eggs, an omelette or even make a frittata or quiche.  However if you fancy boiled or poached – this obviously isn’t the answer for that!  It is as quick and easy as it is to whisk eggs.  The taste however is not quite as straight-forward, it tasted a little stringy.  On a second batch I added in some other herbs and spices which whilst covering it up could not deter from the rubbery taste.  Looking at the ingredients I could understand why there was a chewy-feel to it – with a host of stabilisers in the product it may not be the most nutritional of products but for a quick breakfast or evening meal it does the job.  Add a few spices or flavourings to it and it’s a go-to product on those days when you just don’t have enough time.  Whilst not quite tasting the same as eggs, I can see how this can be a replacer for those who don’t want to or cannot tolerate eggs.

Verdict: in a word – easy. This is a go-to quick and easy food item.  However if you’re looking for taste then it maybe doesn’t quite hit the mark.  Spice it up with herbs and flavours and it may just be enough.


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!


Free-From Fudge Fun!

As a free-from eater I have grown used to passing (also read as – missing out) on food items. Whilst there are now an abundance of free-from items available , there are still many branded goods that I cannot eat – wagon wheels, walkers crisps, cadbury’s chocolate fingers to name a few.  Alternatives are of course available, but sometimes you want the real mccoy.

However one growing trend of the free-from market is the up-take of established brands to cater for the variety of food consumers that now make up the marketplace. Many branded food manufacturers are now going the extra mile to make their popular edible products available in dairy free and/or gluten free options too.

This is great news for ‘fussy-eaters’ like myself – we actually do get to have our cake and eat it. But alongside the obvious benefit of enjoying the real deal, there is a deeper benefit to this trend.  By companies going out of their way to include free-from eaters as part of their clientele, they are making their own attempts to create a more inclusive society.  The amount of times I have felt ‘left out’ because I couldn’t enjoy the same items as friends or family from gifts or eating out are too numerous to count.  So when companies expand their range – they are doing much more than building their own business, they are giving joy to thousands of free-from consumers who have for far too long not been able to enjoy branded products.

northernmunkeebites.fudgekitchen2Fudge Kitchen – Dairy-free fudge, Dairy-free drinking fudge and sugar-free peanut brittle.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Appeals to: dairy-free consumers and fudge lovers!


All 3 of these products come packaged slightly differently…

A selection of the dairy-free fudge in 4 different flavours came wrapped up in a luxury deep chocolate brown box – making it a perfect gift, for others or yourself. With gold lettering and minimal detail, it adds to air of mystery. Ingredients are listed on the bottom – so discreet. Each slice of fudge was individually wrapped in tissue paper, and the smell as you opened the box….sigh!

The dairy-free drinking fudge was a selection of again, different flavours, in a small boxnorthernmunkeebites.fudgekitchen3 with strips of colour dripping down the white coloured box. Pleasing to the eye and again giving off an air of luxury it would not go amiss in a gift hamper, or displayed proudly in your kitchen.  Each sachet is carefully packed inside making it easy to select which flavour you fancy.

The sugar-free peanut brittle is boxed in a light tan colour with minimalist writing. northernmunkeebites.fudgekitchen1The golden writing makes this a luxurious product but on a more accessible level.  It feels like it’s a box you would reach for when you have a few hours to yourself to indulge.


£16.00 for a 4 slice dairy-free fudge box.

£10.00 for dairy-free drinking fudge

£6.50 for sugar free peanut brittle

The price points for the products are aimed at the more discerning consumer. Whilst they are appear at the higher end of the price range, these are artisan products and considering this, the price range seems fair.  What makes it fair value as well is that these products are not to be consumed in one go but rather to be enjoyed slowly and over time.  This makes the price points far more reasonable.


Each of these products are exquisite. There’s no two ways about it – the care and craftsmanship gone into produce these products make your taste buds come alive.

Out of the 4 flavours, I have only tasted the dairy-free sea salted caramel fudge as yet, but it took a lot of willpower not to devour this in one go. The mix of crunch on the first bite with a soft centre makes this a tasting sensation. There are also pieces of sea-salt mixed within the fudge which provides different textures as  you let this sit on your tongue to melt slowly.  It surprised me this was dairy-free as the rich taste of it made me think there must be milk in it but there definitely isn’t – so there was no difference in taste of this versus a dairy-full fudge.

The dairy-free drinking fudge is no different. A rich luxurious hot drink this oozes flavour and warms the whole body – with serious contentment.  I had the cinnamon spice flavour and although its summer, it just made me wish for winter so that I can enjoy this again in front of a roaring fire!

Sugar-free peanut brittle – this was the surprise product for me. Although not a fudge-based product, the company are clearly trying to cater for different tastes.  The snap of peanut coated in a sugar-free caramel base provided me with a moor-ish new snack that had no different in taste despite using sugar alternatives.  Letting this melt in your mouth literally allows you to truly experience the different textures of crunch against gooey-ness.

Verdict: in a word – exquisite. These products are for luxury moments.  The self-indulgence of the fudge and the peanut brittle makes these ideal for treating – yourself or others.  What makes these extra special is the fact that you can consume these knowing you are not missing out on taste but can experience the same delight as a dairy-free consumer.


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!


Purchasing For Disordered Eating Habits

This is going to be a rather vulnerable and personal post.

 From qualified specialists to social influencers – I am tired of the buzz words that become le mot du jour – wellness, intuitive eating, clean eating, healthy eating, paleo, low carb, keto diet and so the list goes on.

This is quite a revelation for me, someone who has over the past 18 months (not to mention on and off across the years) restricted their food intake, both in terms of calories and types of food to try and solve health issues. Only to find out those health issues have not got better but instead deteriorated.  So I have decided to stop listening so much to others and start tuning into my body and listening to what it needs.

But boy is that hard. I am currently going through a tumultuous time with food.  From guilt to elatedness to over-bingeing back to guilt.  It’s hard work and it’s taking its toll – on my mind and my body.  But I am determined to listen to myself – no one knows your body better than you know it.  Yet what I’ve realised is that this needs to be in baby steps.  Disordered eating and unhealthy relationship with food is not something that can be undone overnight or with one week of eating whatever you want.  Instead it needs to be approached slowly as you’re dealing with various different elements – the conscious and the sub-conscious.

So I will still be looking at the ‘healthier’ sections of the store no doubt as this will be the first step. As much as I’d love to go get a box of hobnobs, my mind and my body is not there yet.   I’ll still be eating gluten free for the moment as my body does react to this but I won’t be looking at any more ingredients list but instead allowing my body to choose my food shopping.  I may still also choose free-from foods but in the vein that they sound tasty.  The aim is to purchase (and eat!) a packet of gluten free hobnobs without feeling the guilt.

northernmunkeebites.cru8_1CRU8 – Paleo Banana Courgette Loaf

Appeals to: Everyone!

Rating: 8 out of 10


I found the packaging a little flimsy in that it’s in cellophane packaging with the sleeve covering most of the product as a sticker. The product itself feels heavy so having this in a bag didn’t add much confidence that it could be protected in a bag but rather be squashed.  I didn’t read through the nutritional info nor the list of ingredients but from a quick glance at the sleeve this was easily available to read.  The logo of the 8 also wasn’t that obvious as to what it was, it just looked like two circles and the name of the brand folded over the packaging so not the easiest to read.  It’s also quite difficult to open the bag without scissors.  I had to store this wrapped in foil in the fridge as the bag just ripped.


£4.99 (Planet Organic). The clever placing of this product next to smaller treats which are similarly priced does make you think you’re getting more value for your money.  It is a large-ish size so again you’re fooled into thinking this is substantia, yet when you compare it to loaves of bread or other similar products it does seem slightly steep and perhaps not as large as you first think.


The product delivers on its flavours. I was expecting a dry cake but it was actually really soft and moist.  I was also hesitant about courgette in a sweet food product but it actually tasted great and it was more so the banana you tasted as the main flavour.  It felt just like you were eating banana bread even though it was gluten free, grain free etc.  It is extremely more-ish and with a dollop of almond butter is a filling snack in between meals or as a dessert.  What’s more it lasted 3 – 4 days and that was with good sized slices so I was impressed with that.  I’d definitely recommend this with a good cup of tea.

Verdict: In a word – fulfilling. You don’t feel at all deprived when eating this version of a banana cake and it’s really tasty, so much that I bought it again after I’d finished and it was enjoyed by non-gluten free members of my family too.


I’d love to hear whether you’ve tried this and what you thought! Please feel free to leave your 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!