Pollen + Grace is a London-based clean eating food delivery service who make healthy lunches and delicious sweet treats. Founded by Stephanie Johnson, their ethos is to find the beauty in nature and apply that to their food. I met the team at Balance Festival earlier this year so I was very excited to try their delicious snacks!
Raw Beauty Bar
The Raw Beauty Bar features antioxidant-rich superfoods like acai and acerola superfruits. Acai berries have more antioxidants than any other berries and boast health benefits such as fighting disease and promoting healthy skin. The acerola fruit is a type of cherry and is rich in vitamins C and A as well as riboflavin and niacin which are often artificially added to foods because of their fantastic health benefits.
The bar itself is very attractive and features a crumbed based made out of cashews, sesame seeds, tahini, and coconut. The base has a great sticky sweet texture and the bar itself is delicious. The berry top adds a lovely tang and there's a subtle crunch from the seeds. I love this little bar and knowing how many health benefits it has!
The Mojo Bar
The Mojo Bar was the treat that I was most looking forward to as I had tried a nibble at Balance Festival and was immediately hooked! This salted caramel fudge bar is totally vegan and is enriched with superfoods like maca and cornflower petals. Maca contains numerous minerals which promote a healthy immune system and it also contains 20 amino acids which aid protein synthesis and promote healthy muscle repair.
This bar tastes absolutely incredible! I couldn't get enough! I previously went on a bit of a rant about products claiming to be 'salted caramel' flavour when they're not, but this bar has the absolutely perfect taste and is just delicious! Knowing that it's vegan means it is a guilt-free treat and is perfect for after a demanding cardio session when you need a sugar-hit to feel better.
Sweet Potato + Peanut Butter Flapjack
The sweet potato and peanut butter flapjack comes in a very generous 100g portion and boasts 10.4g of protein. This flapjack is also vegan (if you don't mind consuming honey) and contains lots of great ingredients. The bulk of the flapjack is made with sweet potato and also features organic peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, and pecans which add a beautiful depth of flavour.
The bar itself is super crunchy thanks to the seeds and it is really filling! It's not very sweet but in this case, that's a good thing, as sometimes flapjacks can be way too sugary and buttery. This has a really nice earthy feel to it from the sweet potato and it's almost like a savoury snack.
Raw Cacao Protein Bar
This gooey vegan cacao bar is protein-packed thanks to pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, hemp protein, and chia seeds. All of these are fantastic super foods which boast numerous health benefits. As with the flapjack, this bar is quite hefty and definitely super filling! It tastes delicious and isn't too dense or chewy like most protein bars! It has such an authentic taste and texture, rather than some which feel like they've just been mass produced in a factory.
VerdictI absolutely love this brand. I love the ethos and their raw treats are not only delicious but they're healthy too! The food delivery service is a great idea and hopefully they'll be able to expand further in the future! It's definitely a 10 from me for these goodies.
Kettle Foods was founded in 1978 in the USA and are now an international manufacturer of several savoury snack brands, n 2006 becoming the largest natural potato chip brand in the US. In this modern world of eating clean and healthy foods, Kettle Foods have brought themselves into the 21st century by producing lighter, healthier snack food options. Their latest development, Kettle Bites, are lentil and whole grain crisps and I was lucky enough to get to try them.
Sweet Chilli Lentil Curls
Kettle Bites only have 94 calories per pack meaning that if you're looking for a light, under 100 calorie snack, you need look no further. They also boast containing 50% less fat than standard ready salted crisps meaning they are a healthy snack which doesn't compromise on taste.
Being made from lentils, the shape and texture of these crisps are really quite unique. They are very light but the seasoning is plentiful meaning the taste is fantastic. The sweet chilli flavoured variation is delicious, and you can really taste the lime flavour shining through. The nutrition values are as follows:
Typical Values Per 100g Energy (kilojoules) 1807 kJ Energy (kilocalories) 428 kcal Fat 11.9 g - of which saturates 1.6 g Carbohydrate 65.0 g - of which sugars 5.0 g Fibre 4.0 g Protein 13.2 g Salt
Maple Barbecue Wholegrain Waves
The Maple Barbeque wholegrain waves stay true to their description in bringing together the sweet tang of maple syrup and the deep, rich flavour or tomato and paprika. As with the lentil curls, these are not like classic crisps and the wave shape holds the flavouring wonderfully and provides a fantastic crunch. The flavour is fairly moreish and they are absolutely delicious!
VerdictI'm so pleased that a brand as huge and well-established as Kettle Foods are bringing healthy snacks to the mass market. Finding healthy alternatives to well-loved foods is a great secret to changing to a healthier lifestyle and brands like this make it more accessible to the wider public. The lentil curls are really unique and the flavour is unlike any I've tasted before. The maple barbeque waves are also pretty unusual and they taste fantastic. I really hope that snacks like this become more widely appreciated as more people make healthy food choices on a day-to-day basis. It's a 10 from me!
Emily Fruit Crisps was launched in 2014 by Emily Wong and her partner Alex Ascani, after they travelled to the Far East and discovered a way of cooking fruit and vegetable crisps in a vacuum with RSPO-sustainable palm oil. RSPO is the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and has the mission of making responsible and sustainable palm oil the norm on the mass market. At the moment, palm oil is not only bad for our health but it's bad for the environment and human rights, as Indigenous peoples are often forcefully removed from their land to make room for palm oil production and shockingly, slavery still exists on some palm oil plantations. By supporting the RSPO, Emily Fruit Crisps are paving the way for a change in this industry and setting a fantastic example to other companies.
Crunchy Banana Crisps
I've always been a big fan of banana chips, but they often contain lots of added sugar and artificial nastiness. So it was great to discover that with the Emily Banana Crisps it literally is just banana and a little RSPO palm oil! No added sugar, salt, or anything artificial. It's a great way to increase your daily intake of fruit, especially as bananas can be difficult to transport to the office or gym as they bruise so easily and go overripe so quickly.
Crunchy Pineapple Crisps
The pineapple crisps were a really nice surprise. I've never actually tried dried pineapple before and I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's delicious! Raw pineapple hurts the roof of my mouth sometimes, so eating the dried version is a great way to get all the taste and health benefits without that super tangy after taste! I know that plenty of people reading this might be thinking 'but that's the best thing about eating pineapple!' but it's nice to have a change.
Crunchy Apple Crisps
The crunchy apple crisps were my absolute favourite! It looks like Emily has used red delicious apples in this and they're so tasty! Lovely and sweet, nice and crunchy, and devilishly moreish. What a great way of getting more fruit into your diet; this would be so perfect to go into a children's lunchbox instead of a packet of crisps, especially the little 30g bags that Emily makes.
Crunchy French Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, and Black Edamame
I won't lie, these were a bit scary when I first opened the bag! I'm not sure what I expected, but I didn't expect to see an actual bag of green beans! It's not something I've tried before; usually, you know what to expect when you open a snack food. But these were so surprisingly good! The perfect amount of salt has been added - a very minimal amount - so that you're not left with a furry mouth afterwards, but it takes the edge off the raw veg. This really is an amazing way of getting more veg into your diet: Im a nightmare for not eating enough vegetables, and when I do eat them, I just shove them in because I have to, not because I want to. But having a bag of french beans and sugar snap peas in a super attractive packet sitting on my desk made me want to eat them! Fantastic.
Crunchy Sweet Potato, Carrot, and Beetroot
The packaging on these is so colourful and inviting and so is the veg inside! There's the wonderful orange colour of the carrot and deep purple of the beetroot which makes them look fantastic. They have a really subtle salty taste, again, not too overpowering at all. If I were to close my eyes I could probably trick myself into thinking I was just eating ready salted crisps! If you are a crisp addict like me, these are the perfect solution! And there are so few ingredients that Emily can fit the ingredient list on the packet in 7 different languages!
It's so refreshing to find a company who care about the environment and planet as much as Sundried with an equally ethical ethos. I feel really passionately about this brand because they have the potential to change the way we think about snacking. Putting these little packets into a child's lunchbox could mean they grow up loving fruit and veg instead of fat- and salt-laden potato crisps and other unhealthy snacks. It's also a great way for us adults to get more fruit and veg into our diets without even having to think about it because the attractive packaging and moreish tastes will make you want to eat it rather than it being a chore! It's absolutely a 10 from me for Emily!
Easy Bean was founded Christina Baskerville who grew up on a farm and has always appreciated the health benefits of pulses (beans, lentils, and peas). After spending time working in tropical agriculture in Africa and Latin America, Christina realised how simple but delicious beans can be and that they deserve a higher 'culinary status'. She found that there are famous bean-based dishes in many countries, but not so much in the UK, so she set out to change that by producing delicious one-pot meals. Easy Bean's newest products are their chickpea crispbreads which I had the pleasure of trying.
The cheddar crunch crispbreads boast fantastic nutritional values, with nearly 15g of protein per 100g. The biscuits are a great thickness and texture, they are not so thin that they just break apart and they are not too crumbly. They are delicious on their own, but Easy Bean also have plenty of topping ideas available on their website. These crispbreads are incredibly moreish and before long I found I had eaten the entire packet! They'd make great party foods topped with different spreads and vegetables, and it's good to know there are no nasty surprises or artificial ingredients in them.
Seaweed & Sesame
I was dubious about the seaweed flavour before I tried it as I don't have a great track record with this flavour! However, these crispbreads are absolutely delicious, and like the cheddar flavour they're great to eat even just on their own. The flavour of the seaweed creeps through in a subtle way without being overpowering, but it's definitely there. Seaweed has some great health benefits, including a rich supply of minerals such as calcium and iron, and it is also rich in protein and folic acid. The crispbreads are so moreish, but thankfully they are a guilt-free treat as the ingredients are all natural.
I love that Easy Bean shares Sundried's ethos of caring for the planet and sustainability. I think it's great that Christina has set out to promote the benefits of beans as they are quite an underrated ingredient in the UK. This unique concept is sure to be successful, and Easy Bean's flavoursome and interesting recipes mean that they stand out from the crowd in the frankly saturated health food market. These crispbreads are delicious and make the perfect snack, so it's a 10 from me!
Metcalfe's Skinny was founded in 2009 by Julian Metcalfe at a time when the nation was beginning to wake up to the need for lighter, healthier snacks. They were the first company to sell sweet & salted popcorn together as a flavour combination, which is now one of the most popular on the market. They now offer a wide range of light snacks including rice cakes and popcorn thins and at the beginning of 2016 announced their business partnership with Kettle Foods. Ashley Hicks, Managing Director of Kettle Chips UK, described Metcalfe's Skinny as "an incredibly innovative, dynamic, fast-growing, premium brand appealing to ‘foodie’ consumers looking for lighter great tasting snacks.” They launched their newest flavour, salted caramel, a few weeks ago and I was lucky enough to get a chance to taste test.
Salted Caramel is still a very trendy flavour, with everything from brownies to protein bites being available in this flavour. I was pretty excited to try a popcorn variation, especially as the flavours of salt and caramel are pretty classic in the popcorn world so surely it was bound to work!
The flavour is a little artificial-tasting and I wouldn't particularly describe it as 'salted caramel'. There are certainly hints of caramel, but the spark of salt was lacking a little. However, all that being said, salted caramel is a very difficult flavour to get right if you are not literally pouring the real thing onto something fresh, like a brownie, so to that end I would commend Metcalfe's on a good effort. I have tried other 'salted caramel' flavour products in the past which, upon reading the ingredients, don't even contain salt or caramel or anything resembling the two!
Not taking into account what the flavour is or is not supposed to be, the actual popcorn tastes great and is incredibly moreish! I love that it's now possible to buy popcorn in flavours other than just sweet and salt and that it is becoming more of a popular snack, following in the footsteps of crisps. I wonder how long it'll be before we have cheese and onion popcorn!
The ingredients in this product are largely natural which is a big plus for me. There is added sugar and a fair few dairy derivatives, but the nutrition could be worse. With only 114 calories per 25g bag, it certainly is a light snack. Popcorn itself is fantastically healthy and boasts numerous health benefits, so by making it more accessible and widely available Metcalfe's are definitely promoting a more healthy lifestyle to the general public.
I wasn't really sure what to expect when I first tried this product, as I have a long and complicated love/hate relationship with products that claim to be salted caramel flavour. I do think that sometimes it's just a marketing ploy, but in this case, it pays off. There is indeed salt and caramel in the flavouring, but it's not an authentic taste. This popcorn is hugely moreish and I managed to polish it off with no complaints! Popcorn is a light, healthy snack no matter what, so by adding light flavourings it appeals to more people who may end up choosing this snack over a heavier, more oil- and fat-laden snack like crisps. I'm a big fan of the Metcalfe's skinny brand, especially as I compared their ingredients and nutrition information to other popcorn brands and they are miles ahead. It's a 7 from me for their salted caramel popcorn.