Category Archives: Drink

Review: Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper

I visited a friend over the weekend to share a few glasses of prosecco and put the world to rights. When she told me that when she usually drinks prosecco, she pops a pastry brush in the top of bottle I was fairly horrified. It is apparently just the right size to keep the bubbles in. However, we are not barbarians, so I told her about my new Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper and which I’d picked up at the UK Wine Hour Live event I went to recently, thankfully I’d brought my new stopper with me to try out.

If you’re anything like me, I often hesitate to open a second bottle of fizz knowing I will only drink one glass and the rest will go flat before I get the chance to finish it off another day. The Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper keeps the bubbles in the bottle and ensures that your fizz stays fresher for longer.

Review: Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper

It has an easy clip and lock mechanism which was a little stiff the first couple of times I locked and unlocked the stopper. Once I’d got the knack it was very easy to use. The stopper has a sleek black and silver matt finish, and once it is locked in place it is completely spill-proof, so you can lie your open bottles down in the fridge if you need to. It also means they are really great for picnics or whatever when your bottle might not always stay upright.

We used it throughout the night, keeping the bottle in the fridge and opening the stopper to pour fresh glasses of prosecco. We were impressed. Our prosecco retained all of its fizz and we tested the stopper was leak proof by turning the bottle upside down. There was a satisfying hissy fizz whenever we opened the bottle and I am incredibly impressed with the Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stoppers ability to keep my fizz fresh.

Review: Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper

The Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper costs around £12.99 but I’ve spotted it on Amazon for a few pounds less. If you drink prosecco as much as I do, this is a great investment. It would also make an excellent gift for any wine loving friends you may have.

To find out more about the Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper, visit their website http://avinawinetools.com

Note: I was given an Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper as a gift, all images and opinions are my own.

UK Wine Hour – Wine Tasting Event in Manchester

Last week I was invited along to the first UK Wine Hour event in Manchester. It took place in the beautiful (beautiful is a wild understatement here) and ancient surroundings of the Baronial Hall at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. It was a small but perfectly formed event in a stunning venue, with lots of new and interesting wines to try.

UK Wine Hour is a “Twitter Hour” where interested people chat along on Twitter, swapping wine tips, asking questions and generally celebrating wine. UK Wine Hour runs 7-8pm on Thursdays with the hashtag #UKWineHour. This was the first UK Wine Hour Live event in Manchester, there have been others in London, but Northern wine lovers got their turn last week.

UK Wine Hour - A Wine Tasting Event in Manchester

The Baronial Hall was packed with wine merchants, large and small, offering their wares for tasting. Some had just two or three wines to try, some had a fairly large number of bottles to choose from. Personally, I found myself drawn to the merchants with just a few well chosen bottles. 

I had decided to start with fizz, then white, red and then fortified wines. I was pleased to see English fizz represented by the Exton Park Vineyard in Hampshire, but my favourite on the day was a Viña Pomal Rioja Cava which I don’t think is quite yet readily available in the UK, but worth pestering your local wine shop about.

UK Wine Hour - A Wine Tasting Event in Manchester

We were spoilt for white wine on the night, I think most of the room were quite taken by the Hungarian wines from Disznókö – one of the largest estates in the Tokaji region of Hungary, located in the shadow of the Carpathian Mountains. The Dry Furmint 2016 (£14.99 from Oxford Wines) was a real find.

I loved all three of the wines offered by Didsbury-based Reserve wines. This delicious Oliver Zeter Nussriegel Riesling Trocken 2016 (above) at £15.99 was a real favourite and one I will be seeking out next time I’m on Burton Road. 

UK Wine Hour - A Wine Tasting Event in Manchester

In terms of good reds, I was drawn to the wonderfully named Gnarly Head from California Wines which was described as having “rich, dark berry flavours with layers of plum, pepper, cola and chocolate”. It certainly packed an enjoyable punch!

I’m not normally a sherry or port drinker, but I was persuaded to try two ports, including a rather good 10 Year Old Tawny, £22.99, available from Waitrose. I also tried an astonishingly rich wine – Marques De La Vega Pedro Ximenez which tasted like Christmas pudding in a glass. I believe it will sell for around £15 a bottle once it reaches the UK. It is utterly delicious, a very good bargain and it’s on my Christmas list already.

I’m no expert, but I enjoy tasting and learning about wine. I didn’t feel even slightly intimidated by the event, it was so friendly. It was just the right size, with approximately 60 different wines in the room, so plenty to try but not too many that you’re overwhelmed. I think I tried around 20 different wines and discovered some real gems. UK Wine Hour Live events don’t happen on a very regular basis, but at £15 a ticket, a selection of some really great wines and a really friendly atmosphere I know I’ll be going to the next one.

Find out more, follow UK Wine Hour on Twitter. Join in the #UKWineHour chat on Thursday evenings, 7-8pm.

Review: TropicAloe Aloe Vera drinks

Aloe Vera drinks are one of my favourite things, but they can be fairly hard to come by and I’m yet to see them readily available in my local shop. Whenever I see them I like to stock up my fridge and I’ve been known to buy up all the shop has in stock when I see them. I’m pleased to see that Poundland have started stocking TropicAloe Aloe Vera drinks, which taste just as good as any other Aloe Vera drink I’ve had, but are available at a fraction of the price. 

Review: TropicAloe Aloe Vera Drink - new to Poundland

There are three flavours of TropicAloe available at Poundland; original, strawberry and orange.  I’m a bit of a sucker for the original flavour, which is delicately flavoured with grape juice. It’s really refreshing and light, especially if served ice cold on a hot day.

TropicAloe does contain pulp, so first time drinkers should not be alarmed. The pulp is quite chunky but the benefit of that is you feel quite full when you’ve finished drinking, which is great for filling those hungry gaps between meals.

These new TropicAloe drinks contain no artificial preservatives, no artificial colours and are made from fresh Aloe Vera, not the powdered stuff. Each 500ml bottle contains two servings (250ml each). They contain 32 calories per 100mls (or 160 calories per bottle) and are Vegetarian Society approved.

Review: TropicAloe Aloe Vera Drink - new to Poundland

Aloe Vera drinks are known to contain essential vitamins and minerals like vitamins B, C, E, and folic acid and it’s great for your skin, hair and for maintaining regular bowel movements. Aloe vera is one of the only plant based sources of vitamin B12, making it excellent for vegetarians and vegans.

These TropicAloe drinks are really hydrating and refreshing. I think they’d be great frozen into ice lollies for really hot days. They are currently available from Poundland stores for 2 for £1 which is an absolute bargain. 

We were sent these TropicAloe Aloe Vera drinks for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: The Gin Festival Blackpool 2017, Blackpool Tower Ballroom

In recent years gin drinking has enjoyed something of a renaissance. Although gin has been drunk for centuries, gin distillers have been tapping into the growing trend for small batch, artisan and craft gins for a little while now.

In 2012, in celebration of all things gin, the Gin Festival was born. Since then the Gin Festival has been popping up in fabulous locations up and down the UK. The Gin Festival is a fantastic travelling festival; full of vintage flair and with all the gin you could possibly want. It’s a great place to go and try new gins, meet the makers, sample some new things and pick up a new favourite. 

Last year I went to the Gin Festival Manchester and absolutely loved every second. This year I went a little further afield and spent an afternoon at the first ever Gin Festival Blackpool. 

Review: The Gin Festival Blackpool 2017, Blackpool Tower Ballroom

Photo Credit: Bob Bardsley

Set in the stunning Ballroom at the iconic Blackpool Tower, it was the perfect venue for the inaugural Gin Festival Blackpool. The festival took place on Friday 10th March and Saturday 11th March, I went along to the Saturday afternoon session and had a ball!

The Gin Festival Blackpool served up over 100 gins to the eager Blackpool crowd, including many new and exclusive gins. There were masterclasses with distillers, cocktails, hot mulled gin and toe tapping live music. 

With so many gins on offer, my companion Bob and I tried our best to sample as many of them as we could. After consulting “The Gin Book” we were given on arrival, we variously tried Daffy’s, Poetic Licence – Old Tom, Wicked Wolf Exmoor Gin, Wight Mermaid Gin, Inverroche Amber Gin, Isfjord Gin, Masons Tea Gin, Whitley Neill Quince, we also tried some hot mulled gin and a brand new gin from Yorkshire, Tinker.

Each gin was served with plenty of ice, a perfectly matched garnish and you could top it us with one of the six premium Fever-Tree tonics and mixers which were freely available.

Review: The Gin Festival Blackpool 2017, Blackpool Tower Ballroom

Photo Credit: Bob Bardsley

Our stand out favourite was a British made, Spanish style gin called Tinker. Tinker is a move away from traditional, juniper gins and is a fresh and innovative gin. Light on the palate and bursting with juicy berries. It is made by distilling juniper, coriander, orange, lemon, cassia, cinnamon, orris, angelica, liquorice, nutmeg and elderberries to create a contemporary classic. It’s one to watch out for in the future, that’s for sure!

If you couldn’t make it to Blackpool, why not book tickets for the Gin Festival in Glasgow, Manchester, Nottingham, Swansea, Torquay, Bournemouth, Bristol, Ipswich, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Gloucester, Stoke-on-Trent, Leeds or Oxford.

For more information visit the Gin Festival website.

You can read my guest post on the Gin Festival website here.

What are Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks like?

Basil Seed drinks have always been popular across Southeast Asia and India. Many people will have encountered the drink on their travels to Thailand or Vietnam. Basil seeds are similar to chia seeds in that they are packed with nutrients and have a number of health benefits. I’ve been sampling the new Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks and finding out more about the health benefits of this unusual drink.

What are Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks like?

Basil seeds are low in calories and are cholesterol free. They contain high levels of beta carotene and Vitamins A, C and K; as well as minerals including potassium, manganese, copper, calcium and magnesium. Basil seeds are also an excellent source of iron and have a number of antioxidant benefits.

Basil seeds apparently have a cooling effect on your body, so they’re great in the summer mixed into cold drinks. They are also good for maintaining healthy skin, for digestion and bowel regulation, sore throats, colds and respiratory disorders and they are known for being a good mood food.

Basil seeds, especially in drinks like the Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks, are also said to be good for weight loss. I have to say, I feel very full after I’ve had a glass of the basil seed drink, and the full feeling lasts for a while. I think that’s a big selling point for me, they make me feel full and as a result I’m less prone to snacking.

What are Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks like?

The Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks are available in three different flavours, strawberry, peach and pineapple. The drinks come in 350ml bottles and there’s probably enough for two or three glasses in the bottle. I wouldn’t suggest drinking it all in one go as you will feel very full and you might need a nap.

I’m no stranger to unusually textured drinks and these basil seed drinks are no exception. Aloe Vera drinks have clear, fleshy pieces of Aloe Vera in them, and these are in a way similar. The drink is a normal fruit juice based drink and the basil seeds are suspended in a sphere of something like jelly, a bit like bubble tea. 

You can swallow the seeds whole, but if you bite into them the jelly yields easily and you can crunch on the seed if you want. I feel very full when I’ve had a glass of one of the basil seed drinks, and they are quite sweet, but I find them very refreshing especially when they’re nicely chilled.

I would say, if you spot this in your local shop or supermarket it’s worth buying and trying. It is unusual, there’s no getting away from that, but I have enjoyed trying the drink and I like that when I have some I don’t feel the need to snack. I also think (and I’m just free-styling here) it might be nice in prosecco or cava, I think the bubbles with the seeds in will bob up and down in the glass and be a bit of a talking point.

So what are Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks like? Well they’re fruity, filling and a little bit weird, but weird in a good way. Give them a try!

Read my review of Just Drink Aloe here.

Note: I was sent the Just Drink Basil Seed drinks to try for review purposes, all images and opinions are my own. I genuinely think they are weirdly good.

Three Wine Men – fantastic fizz & festive wines for 2016

Over the weekend I went to the Three Wine Men event at Manchester Town Hall. This was a festival of all things wine hosted by the Three Wine Men – Oz Clarke, Olly Smith and Tim Atkin. There were two huge rooms full of wine to taste and to buy. I went along with my friend and fellow wine enthusiast Pippa to discover some new wines. I’ve chosen my favourite wines from the day, some of which will definitely be gracing my festive table this year.

Three Wine Men

Very good vino

From decent everyday wines, to something special to go with Christmas dinner, there were hundreds of wines to choose from. Here were six of my favourites – 

Cantina di Monteforte Soave Superiore Classico (Veneto, Italy) from Rude Wines – £8.99 a bottle. This is a beautifully balanced Soave, well rounded with a splash or citrus. An excellent every day drink and perfect for a warm summer evening.

Irresistible Limestone Rise 2015 (Surrey, England) from the Co-op priced at £7.99. I’m delighted to find such an affordable English wine at the Co-op, I love English wines, generally they are dry and a little flinty which is something I like in a wine. The Limestone Rise is produced in the Surrey hills by award-winning English wine producer, Denbies and is made from a blend of Bacchus and Ortega grapes. At £7.99 it is a good value wine and one I’ll be looking out for. 

Three Wine Men

SPAR Gavi 2014 (Piemonte, Italy) priced at £8. Gavi is one of those names you look out for and they can be on the pricey side. This Gavi from SPAR is very affordable and worth seeking out if you have a SPAR local to you.

Spreitzer “Oestricher Lenchen” Riesling Kabinett 2014 (Rheingau, Germany) this was enthusiastically recommended to us by none other than Oz Clarke, who nigh on evangelised about German wines. This flinty little number is available from GK Winehouse and costs £19 per bottle. 

Gran Vista Garnacha 2015 Campo de Borja features in the latest edition of BBC Good Food Magazine. It’s a very easy drinking and wonderfully affordable red which costs just £4.99 from the Co-op. Rich and fruity, it is light on the tannins which makes it easy drinking. This is definitely one to look out for.

Three Wine Men

The last of my wine picks is this cracking red from the Co-op. The Château Sénéjac 2012 (Haut-Médoc, France) is an excellent wine to have with Christmas dinner. Priced at £16.99, this is a bottle with depth. Packed with blackcurrant, cherry and hints of vanilla, this is a bottle which will please red wine lovers.

Festive Fizz

Despite trying all the fizz at the festival, I just kept coming back to the same bottle. It’s pink, it’s girlie looking, but it’s an astonishingly good quality fizz from the Co-op. The Borgo Molino Rose NV (Veneto, Italy) is £9.99 a bottle and is available in just 500 Co-op stores. 

Crisp, refreshing and the most prefect way to kick off the festivities this Christmas this is top of my shopping list (and perfect for my forthcoming spa break with some friends next weekend). It’s even better than the Co-op prosecco, which was until now my favourite fizz. Track down a bottle and treat yourself. You won’t regret it!

Three Wine Men

Something special

Three Wine Men was mostly wine, but there were some fortified wines and spirits. I love a good gin and the Warner Edwards Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin was a fruity favourite. It would be great with prosecco or in a lovely cocktail. It’s around £35 a bottle (though I have seen it cheaper online) and something a little different for your cocktail cabinet.

No Christmas dinner would be complete without a drop of port and a good cheeseboard. The Co-op have once again come up trumps with this 10 Year Old Tawny Port NV (Douro, Portugal) at £13.99 a bottle. I’m not much of a port drinker, but this tawny port is one which suits me, deep and spicy but not over the top. It had me dreaming about wedges of Stilton on good crackers and a roaring log fire!

Three Wine Men

Tickets to Three Wine Men were £27.50 which gave you three hours to enjoy the festival and the chance to sample all of the wines and spirits in the building. If you are a wine lover or a wine learner, it’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon and will leave you rosy cheeked and giggling on the tram home. 

We had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. Three Wine Men introduced me to some new wines and it helped to get me out of my wine buying rut, which is no bad thing.

You can find out more about the Three Wine Men festivals on their website.

What will you be drinking this Christmas?

We were invited guests of The Co-op, but all images and opinions are our own. Each wine mentioned I genuinely loved and will buy again (and again).

What’s Yazoo No Added Sugar like?

Since the long ago days of weaning we’ve always been careful to ensure that the small boy has a couple of glasses of milk a day. Milk is full of nutrients I think are pretty essential for a growing boy (calcium and protein to help maintain bones, as well as vitamin B2). I’ve never been much of a milk drinker myself, but I’ve always enjoyed drinking milkshakes, the problem is they tend to be jam packed with sugar. We were sent some bottles of Yazoo No Added Sugar to put to the test, what did the small boy think?

Yazoo No Added Sugar

Yazoo No Added Sugar is available in three flavours: Strawberry, Banana and Toffee. It is available in 200ml bottles, as well as in packs of 4 from supermarkets. Yazoo No Added Sugar contains only naturally occurring sugars and no artificial sweeteners. It is also suitable for vegetarians. 

After school the boy enjoys a snack before we dash off to one of the many activities which occupy his time. Usually he will have a drink of milk and some snack, such as a piece of fruit, some yoghurt or a piece of toast. He’s a growing boy, he never stops and he’s got “hollow legs” just like his dad.

Yazoo No Added Sugar

The good thing about Yazoo No Added Sugar for me is that it’s not full of sugar and sweeteners, whereas most other ready make milkshakes are. They contain no more sugar than an equivalent amount of semi-skimmed milk. They are also ready made, so I don’t have to faff around making up the milkshake from a powder.

I also like that the bottles are just the right size, 200mls is a big enough drink for anyone. It’s a good size for trips out and picnics and doesn’t need to be refrigerated, though we keep a couple of bottles in the fridge for him.

Yazoo No Added Sugar is not a thick milkshake, which suits us. We always think thick milkshakes (unless you make them yourself with loads of ice cream) feel really artificial in your mouth. 

Yazoo No Added Sugar

The flavours are the kind of flavours he loves – strawberry, banana and toffee. I’m not sure why there isn’t a chocolate flavour (surely chocolate milkshake is the most popular flavour in the world?) but that is probably on their to do list.

The boy seems to enjoy all the flavours fairly equally, he perhaps has a slight preference for the strawberry and the banana over the toffee, but he will very happily drink all of them and give me a big milky moustache smile afterwards.

Yazoo No Added Sugar is available from a range of supermarkets including Morrisons and Tesco and cost around 50p per 200ml bottle (though I have noticed they are on offer in a lot of places right now).

For more information, visit the Yazoo website.

Note: We were sent some bottles of Yazoo to try out for reciew purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Manchester Gin Festival 2016

Over the Easter weekend Manchester played host to the Gin Festival, a touring two day festival of all things gin. I’m a gin enthusiast but not an expert, so I went along to sample the delights of the festival and hopefully sample a few new gins along the way.

Arriving at Victoria Baths, a building I’ve not set foot in for nearly 30 years, my memories were of a rather grotty municipal swimming baths, but I was very pleasantly surprised by its beautifully restored Edwardian features. 

Gin Festival

Once through the door, I was handed a large gin glass (horrah!), a gin guide and pointed in the direction of the gin. My first stop was “The Brand Room”, a room where lots of gin brands had set up stands where gin lovers could go and sample their wares, as well as learn a little more about each gin. It was an interesting room to find out a little more about gin and to suss out any which warranted further tasting and investigation later on.

Gin Festival

Moving on to “The Gin” which was a huge room with four bar areas which housed UK gins, International Gins and Fruit Gin Liqueurs and other novelties. This was where you could consult your gin guide and make your selection. It works just like a beer festival, you buy a number of tokens on a card and when you buy your G&T a token gets crossed off. Each token cost £5 and I bought three. 

Gin Festival

My first port of call was to try a Daffy’s and Indian tonic, garnished with mint and lime. A gin drinking friend had recommended Daffy’s as the best gin they’d ever had, so I had to try it on pain of death. It was a very excellent G&T, the tasting notes say it is woody on the nose with lively juniper and citrus flavours and a buttery finish. It was one of those incredibly refreshing G&T’s and I was sad to finish it. 

After consulting the gin guide (I fancied everything in the gin guide, but I had to ration myself), I opted to try Curio Cornish Gin, which contained hand foraged botanicals from the Cornish cliffs including rock samphire. The tasting notes suggested that it would be reminiscent of the sea, gentle and citrussy with an aniseed finish. It was paired with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic and garnished with chopped fennel, not something I’ve ever had in a G&T but it was a delicious and almost savory combination which I enjoyed tremendously.

Gin Festival

Needing a sit down and something to set me up for a bit more gin, I headed to the “Still & Stove” area which had a number of food stalls offering the now ubiquitous pulled pork. I opted for a hearty Spanish stew of spinach and chickpeas served with cous cous which was very tasty. 

Suitably replete I was ready for a masterclass in gin. I opted to find out more about Masons Yorkshire Gin, having sampled their three quite different and quite beautiful gins earlier in the brand room. I was especially taken with their gin which had been infused with Yorkshire tea, which was delicate and unusual and possibly my favourite gin at the festival.

Gin Festival

Held in another beautiful room complete with stunning stained glass, a full room of gin lovers listened to the history of Masons gin as told by their brand ambassador Sophie. Sophie then passed around samples of the gin to an approving crowd, many of which I’m sure headed straight for the shop in the gin hall and bought a bottle (or two) to take home.

Gin Festival

I had one G&T token left so I had to choose wisely. On the recommendation of Laura, one of the Gin Festival team I selected the Edinburgh Rhubarb & Ginger Gin Liqueur, a beautiful and delicately flavoured gin which was garnished with apple. I was told to try it first before adding soda water because the flavour changed when diluted, and I’m glad I did, it was gorgeous. I regretted adding the soda water as it really watered down the delicious liqueur, I’ll know better next time.

I can’t actually think of a better way to spend a Bank Holiday Sunday than in the beautiful surroundings of Victoria Baths drinking and enjoying gin. It’s such an amazing venue for the Gin Festival. The Gin Festival itself was very relaxed, well laid out with the stands and bar areas having plenty of space around them for the gathering crowds of gin lovers. I can’t fault the selection of gin on offer and I’ve discovered a gin or two I’ll be searching out in the future.

I’ll be watching and waiting for the Gin Festival to swing back into town again, it was so interesting and a lovely social and civilised afternoon, if you like gin then this is an event not to be missed. This weekend was a sell out so you do have to book your tickets (£7.50) early to avoid disappointment. 

To find out more about the Gin Festival and to see if there’s one in your area, visit their website for more information.

Five ways to beat hunger with my Healthy Snacks round-up

We have a hard and fast rule in our house about snacks. Healthy snacks are fine, fruit and rice cakes, that kind of thing. But if you want a biscuit or some crisps you have to put your shoes and coat on and walk to the shop and get it. The thought of making an effort to get a treat is often enough to put us off and turn to something healthier, and if you do put your coat on and go and get your treat, then you’ve earned it, enjoy it.

But try explaining that to a 5 year old. A hungry 5 year old who has to wait a few minutes to be fed is essentially a tornado of rage. The living embodiment of “hangry”.

healthy snacks

Top tip: A hungry (hangry) 5 year old will happily eat carrot sticks and other normally shunned fruit and veg if they are hungry enough. A bag of carrot sticks to munch on the way home from school is a good way to deal with the tornado of rage and the 5 a day problem at the same time.

Having some healthy snacks on hand for when your family need a little something to tide them over is incredibly useful. I’ve picked out some healthy snacks which we enjoy at home.

1. More Cheese Please!

Cheese is in the small boys top 3 favourite foods, we always have a handful of Babybel in the fridge. It’s easy for me to slip a couple in my pocket for him to munch on the way home from school and I don’t mind him snacking on cheese because it’s full of calcium and other good stuff.

2. Fruit Bowl Snacks

We discovered Fruit Bowl about 6 months ago and the boy has been enjoying sprinkling their fruit flakes on his yoghurt ever since. The Fruit Bowl peelers and school bars are great little snacks for nibbling on the way home from school, contain no added sugar and count towards your five a day.

healthy snacks

3. Chocolate!

Yes really. Sometimes you really NEED something sweet and often a couple of small pieces of good dark chocolate is enough to satisfy your craving. Of course my son won’t even contemplate dark chocolate, but having some small individually wrapped pieces of good chocolate, like these from Drop Dead Chocolates is enough to stop you accidentally devouring a 1kg bar of Dairy Milk. Sometimes. 

4. Stick the kettle on

Sometimes you can feel hungry but you’re just thirsty. I always give the small boy something to drink and have water freely available to him. If I’m feeling especially hungry I find a nice cuppa can fill the gap for an hour or so, or sometimes I’ll have a glass of juice which I usually add a splash of water to so it is slightly diluted, but that’s a personal preference.

I do enjoy drinking aloe vera juice and I’ve tried for a while now to have a small glass of aloe vera juice on a daily basis. It’s not for everyone in the same way that orange juice with bits in isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth trying if you like the sound of the many health benefits of drinking aloe vera.

healthy snacks

The aloe vera juice from Grace Foods UK contains 50% less sugar than other brands I’ve tried. These handy 500ml bottles (I drink 100ml per day) are available in three flavours, Original, Strawberry and Mango and contain real aloe vera pieces. They are gluten free and suitable for vegetarians, with Original and Mango containing 100% RDA of Vitamin C. It’s available from a wide range of retailers including Tesco and Waitrose. I love aloe vera juice, I think it’s very underrated. 

5. Rice Cakes and peanut butter

This may seem very dull indeed, but I always have a packet of Co-op unsalted rice cakes in my cupboard. They’re just 25 calories each and if I’m ravenous and simply cannot wait, or if I’ve no time to make myself something more exciting for lunch, a couple of rice cakes with reduced fat peanut butter are enough to tide me over until tea time. In fact the small boy is also a big fan of this as an after school snack, so we’ll often indulge together. Rice cakes are remarkably filling and contain very few calories. Trust me, I didn’t think I’d like them either.

What are your go to healthy snack choices? I’m always after munchable inspiration!

Thirst quenching things to do with Robinsons Squash

With the central heating on pretty much all the time I’m finding that I’m thirsty a bit more than usual and that my skin is drying out. The obvious solution to this is to drink more water, but I’m not that keen on drinking tap water and will only drink bottled water if I’m out and about with a bottle in my bag. Water is boring, tea and coffee fill me full of caffeine, so I try an limit those to a couple of cups a day, so I tend to drink copious amounts of cordial.

Since I was a girl I’ve always drunk cordial, or squash, whichever. Hot or cold – they help keep my fluid levels topped up, and if it’s sugar-free cordial there are very few calories to worry about. In the summer I make myself a refreshing pint of cordial (my favourite is usually apple and blackcurrant, but I’m also fond of lemon barley water), I fill the glass with ice and if I’m feeling fancy I’ll throw in a bit of fruit to nibble at once the drink is gone.

Robinsons squash

In the winter I like to make a hot flask of cordial for the family for our trips out. It’s something we all enjoy and when Jack Frost has nibbled at your toes it helps to warm your cockles. Likewise I always have a jug of cordial on the table during family meals. The great thing is you can dilute it to taste, we prefer a weaker cordial, but you can always add more.

Robinsons squash

I don’t really know why I tend to add fruit to the jugs of Robinsons squash, I suspect in the back of my head I’m imparting additional nutrients into the drink, and knowing what I’m like with a jug of sangria I know the family will eat the fruit once the drink is gone, more so than if I just gave them some apple to eat. It doesn’t have to be fresh fruit either, a handful of frozen berries would be a great addition to a nice chilled glass of squash.

I think that hot squash is a thing of beauty, and the best thing is if it goes cold then I can still drink it without grimacing. In the winter especially I drink mug after mug of hot squash, often keeping a flask on my desk so I’ve got a steaming mug of orange squash at hand. If I’ve got a cold I often add a bit of powdered turmeric and give it a good stir, or a drizzle of ginger syrup which gives it a nice kick and the bit of fire feels like it’s fighting off some germs.

Robinsons squash

Robinsons squash is a really versatile product, with lots of flavours to choose from there’s probably one to suit everyone. What’s your favourite Robinsons squash and how do you drink yours?

= In collaboration with Robinsons squash =