Primal Pantry's handmade cold-pressed products are all made in the UK with headquarters in Kent. Primal Pantry was founded by nutritionist Suzie Walker in 2013 when she wanted to find some healthy snacks for her kids that weren't packed with sugar and artificial ingredients. I was thrilled when they sent me a box of their goodies to try!
There is up to 10g of protein per bar which is great for those who need a protein boost in their afternoon snack or if you struggle to hit your daily protein consumption. Each bar contains no more than 6 ingredients which is fantastic. In this modern world, snacks can be packed with all sorts of nasty additives and extras, but Primal Pantry strip it back to basics and keep it simple which I love. One of the common ingredients in the bars is coconut nectar which is a low GI cane sugar alternative. It is the perfect natural plant-based alternative to artificial sweetener or sugar used in most products these days. The bars contain nothing artificial or chemical and they are vegan, raw, and paleo. They do contain nuts so are not suitable for those with an allergy. The packaging is very attractive and the branding is modern and appealing.
This bar is from the protein range that Primal Pantry offers and packs 19% protein in a 55g bar. It has a very deep taste of orange and the fact it comes from real dried orange rather than artificial flavouring really shines through. There are tasty little crunches in each bite to keep the texture interesting and it is very moreish! The chocolate taste from the cocoa will cure a sweet tooth craving but it is much healthier than a classic chocolate bar.
Apple & Pecan
This bar is quite soft compared to the others, and the apple flavour is refreshing and tangy. As with the orange bar, you can tell that the fruit flavouring is not artificial and instead comes from organic fair trade apples, which means it's ethical too! Pecan nuts are absolutely packed full of various vitamins and minerals, whcih means that this bar provides numerous health benefits as well as being super tasty!
Coconut & Macadamia
The coconut & macadamia bar is made from dates, macadamia nuts, cashews, coconut and a hint of almond oil. That's it! Just five ingredients, meaning it is completely vegan and paleo. Macadamia nuts are a rich source of Vitamin A and iron meaning they can help contribute to better circulation and support a healthy immune system so there are plenty of health benefits to this bar. The coconut flavour is very strong so if you love coconut you'll love this as a snack, or with your morning cup of coffee.
The cocoa brownie was definitely my favourite flavour, it's so satisfying! Often, after I eat an energy bar or a protein bar, they're so moreish that I'm left wanting more and more, but somehow Primal Pantry has absolutely cracked it as I felt perfectly satisfied after eating this bar! It's lovely and chocolatey, so it cures that sweet tooth or afternoon chocolate craving. And knowing that it's vegan and paleo means it's guilt-free! I predicted that this flavour would be my favourite and it absolutely was.
This flavour was also a personal highlight as it was so fresh and delicious. The mixed berries include raspberries, apricots, and goji berries, so there is a good mix of super fruits in there! Goji berries contain high levels of antioxidants which provide fantastic health benefits, and they also promote healthy skin and eyes so you'll end up glowing if you eat enough! I wondered if this flavour would be nut-free but it does include almonds, so not appropriate for those with a nut allergy or intolerance.
I love how simple these bars are, they really are just made from simple, natural ingredients which could be found in my kitchen, so I know that what I'm eating is healthy and not overly processed. The bars are all true to flavour with interesting textures and combinations of fruits and nuts. They are satisfying enough that you don't find yourself reaching for one and then another and then another, which I can be guilty of! I think Primal Pantry would do well to do a completely nut-free version so that those with an allergy can enjoy them too, so it's a 9 from me!
Primal Pantry On Social
Mindful Chef is a health-focused food box company set up by school friends Giles, Myles, and Rob in 2015. Since then, they've been delivering fresh produce and tasty recipes to thousands of people from small farms in Devon where they grew up. Their ethos is helping people lead a healthier life by reducing the intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates. None of their fresh food boxes contain pasta, bread, or white rice, but instead are packed with fresh vegetables and wholesome ingredients. They cater for all different dietary requirements, including vegan, which is the option I went for when they offered to send me some of their fabulous meals.
Teriyaki tofu, seaweed & brown rice bowl
The concept of Mindful Chef is fantastic. They send out a box full of fresh ingredients, all weighed out perfectly, and a simple recipe which is easy to follow. Now I hate cooking, and I am terrible at it! I'm talking undercooked veg, overcooked rice, and bland everything. But with Mindful Chef, even a rubbish cook like me can whip up a tasty and nutritious dinner with minimal fuss! The other thing that I love about this concept is that I ended up eating foods and flavours that I would never have otherwise. I don't think I'd even know where to find seaweed let alone how to add it to a recipe! So their teriyaki tofu, seaweed and brown rice bowl was a big winner for me. The flavours are fantastic and really clever; they work wonderfully together to create a really delicious dish. Everything you need is right there in front of you so after a long day at work, you can come home knowing that a healthy dinner isn't too far away.
Brazilian black bean stew with brown rice
This recipe also got a big thumbs up from me. The macros for each meal are very handily listed on the recipe card, and can also be found on Mindful Chef's website, so for those counting macros or preparing for a competition, the hard work is already done for you. Again, the flavours in this dish were fantastic, with the sweetness of the creamed coconut marrying together with the bitterness of the beans to create a great balance. Mindful Chef also includes raw cacao powder in this dish which is a good source of magnesium, used by the body for energy production and promoting good circulation. Another ingredient which I would never have thought to include in my dinner so I love it!
Sugar snap, chickpea, and cauli rice biryani
One of the main ingredients included in this recipe was cauli rice, which I had heard of but never tried. Cauliflower rice has up to 75% fewer calories than regular white rice and it stays fresh for up to 12 months with no preservatives so it is definitely a healthier option. This recipe was also delicious and super easy to make! Its nutritional information is also very balanced, providing 447 calories, 53g of carbs, 21g of fat, and 21g of protein which is very good for a vegan meal.
I love the ethos of Mindful Chef and the fact that it is a humble British brand just trying to help the nation become healthier. They have so many different recipes that you would never get bored and it also encourages lazy people like me to get more active in the kitchen! It makes cooking easy and they cater for everyone. Their recipes are delicious and healthy, as well as being varied and exotic. I think I might have to sign up for a subscription myself! It's a resounding 10 from me.
Mindful Chef on Social
As a first timer to the 70.3 triathlon distance (half Ironman distance / middle distance) I wanted to find an event within a reasonable distance from home that was nice and flat (no point in adding any extra challenges into the mix) and with a swim in calm water as most of my open water swimming is in the sea, so a nice fresh water reservoir would be a welcome bonus. This left me with the Grafman Middle Distance triathlon in Grafham, Cambridgeshire. Although it is nowhere near Cambridge, it is a lovely little village.
With a few sprint triathlons under the belt, the middle distance really is a new discipline to train for. My first ever half marathon was just 2 weeks before the event and went without too many problems but swimming this distance and staying calm is definitely a challenge.
The registration process the day before the event was very simple and quick; the entire process only took around 4 minutes. It was nice to be able to walk into the transition area, find my number for the next day, and have a look at the swim start and course.
The swim is a mass swim entry, which means running in and plunging into the water and racing off in a pack. I decided to hang out on the left of the pack and take a wide lap to avoid being pushed and shoved too much. The swim also includes an "Australian Exit" which means after one lap you leave the water, run past the crowds of people and the waiting photographers, only to jump back in and swim another lap.
Leaving the water there is lots of support and people to help you out if needed.There are marshals pointing to the transition area and plenty of support in the bike area. It was a really nice atmosphere; very friendly and with a good buzz about it all.
The cycle section is on roads open to traffic; despite the traffic being very light, the few motorists who attempt to drive the same way as the cyclists it causes a bit of bunching. Being a non-drafting ride it is pretty hard when you can not overtake and there are several people in front. There wasn’t too much of the course like this and after 30k the riders seemed to space out.
The drink/gel stations were pretty efficient; you do not need to stop to be passed water or energy gels. Towards the end of the ride, I was worried I had made a wrong turn because I couldn't see any cyclists, but the marshalls are fantastic and I was directed the correct way and eventually saw a few cyclists in the distance.
Finally, the run. The toughest part of the run for me was the last 5 or 6km when you pass the finish line and run away from the sounds of the tannoy and music. It had been a tough race so far, but I was nearly there. Like the ride, the run is a few laps back and forth with water and gel stations at either end.
It was a really well-organised event with a brilliant atmosphere and welcoming athletes.
View the full collection of photos on their Facebook page linked below.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Grafmantriathlon
Further reading on triathlon training.
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT delivers everything you could want from a triathlon watch and more. It is designed for elite athletes and people who are serious about their training progress, but it is suitable for the more casual exerciser too. It provides wrist-based heart rate monitoring, all-day activity tracking, and will take you from one sport to another with just the touch of a button.
The 735XT is more than just a running watch. It records your stride length, time balance, and more while running (although many of the running metrics features are only available when the watch is paired with a chest-based heart rate monitor), and will calculate your VO2 Max and predict race times based on your training history. It also offers lactate threshold estimates but, again, you will need an additional chest-based heart rate monitor for this which is not included in your £399 purchase of the watch.
The Forerunner 735XT is smart and will connect to your phone seamlessly through Bluetooth to provide notifications from your phone, automatic uploads to Garmin’s online community, and live tracking of your training. Syncing the watch with your phone is very easy and has worked every time without any issues for me. The GPS signal is very strong and the watch links up very quickly so that you can get on with your sport without having to wait around for your watch to be ready.
As a multisport watch, the 735XT is not as advanced as some of its siblings like the 935, but it still provides excellent support. It has a triathlon function so that you can time your transitions and switch between sports with just one press of a button. This feature also translates to duathlons and brick workouts for your training. If you only run, then this watch is perhaps too unnecessarily advanced for you, and you'd be better suited to a Forerunner 235.
The all-day activity tracking is a fantastic bonus feature on this advanced watch. The wrist-based heart rate monitor works all day while you’re wearing it and will provide you with a resting heart rate, recovery heart rate, and a graph of activity over the last 4 hours. This is really useful for heart-rate zone training, especially as the stats provided after your workout will tell you how long you were in each heart rate zone while you were active. The watch also provides you with an estimated VO2 max which is great for serious athletes. Part of the all-day activity tracking also includes step count which can be a great incentive to move more, especially on rest days. The watch also syncs with apps like MyFitnessPal so that your daily calorie burn is automatically taken into account when you track your food for the day.
A Closer Look
The watch itself is light at 41g and the watch face is not as big as some of the other Garmin watches like the 235 or 935, so it is better suited for all-day wear. It has a rubberised strap for comfort, although once you're super sweaty after a tough workout, you don’t really want to keep it on as it gets a bit uncomfortable. The various displays are user-friendly and although the watch has a lot of features, they’re easy to find so you don’t feel like you're missing out on useful training information.
The battery life of this watch could be better, especially as it’s designed to be used for triathlons; I wonder whether it could last a full-length Ironman event.
On the whole, I am so impressed by this watch. Garmin has found the perfect balance between the casual running watch and the advanced athlete's companion. It gives more than its cheaper counterpart the 235 and is more user-friendly than the more advanced 935. It is perfect for serious triathletes but can also comfortably be used by people who may just be getting into the sport or who just like to swim, bike, and run. It has the option of more advanced training stats if you really want to go into them while keeping the useful everyday information at the ready.
Battery Life: 6
Technical Information: 9
Value for money: 10
Overall Score: 44/50
The Oppo brothers have an incredible story behind their brand and their ethos of providing affordable, healthy food to the nation is really inspiring. I was really excited to try their healthy ice cream as I had heard wonderful things about it!
Oppo was developed in 2011 by brothers Charlie and Harry after an adventure in exotic Brazil. They set themselves the challenge of breaking the world record for travelling by kite on land by using kite buggies to travel 1000km from the airport to a popular kitesurfing destination. During this challenge, the brothers lost a lot of their body weight through malnutrition but they stayed alive by eating the foods that grow naturally on Brazil's coastline, such as coconuts and wild super-fruits. This incredible experience inspired the brothers to create their own food using these ingredients and to make it indulgent and healthy all at the same time.
Their hard work and determination paid off, and they soon found that their product - low sugar healthy ice cream - was in high demand! They are now stocked in over 1,000 stores nationwide and they have even had investment from tennis champion Andy Murray! Oppo comes in three delicious flavours - Madagascan Vanilla, Salted Caramel, and Mint Choc Swirl.
Each oppo ice cream flavour is made from fresh milk, cold pressed virgin coconut oil, and stevia leaf for sweetness. Stevia is a healthy, plant-based sweetener which is becoming a popular replacement for sugar. Stevia has several scientifically proven health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and stabilising blood sugar levels. The Madagascan vanilla flavour includes a hint of the African baobab fruit which also has many health benefits! Not only does it add a subtle tang to the flavour, it is also a rich source of vitamin C which boosts the immune system and contributes to better energy levels. This simple flavour is the perfect accompaniment to a raw cacao brownie.
Salted caramel is enjoying huge popularity in the food industry at the moment, so it's great that Oppo has developed a healthy option for this great flavour! 100ml (2 scoops) of this flavour contains only 75 calories which is fantastically low for an ice cream, along with 3.9g of fat, 6.6g of carbs, and 3g of protein, meaning the macro split is fantastic. The secret to Oppo's Salted Caramel flavour is the Peruvian lucuma fruit, which is rich in nutrients such as beta-carotene, iron, zinc, vitamin B3, calcium, and protein. It has a maple-like taste which makes it perfect for this flavour combination in ice cream.
Mint Choc Swirl
The mint choc swirl was definitely my favourite flavour! It's always been my favourite ice cream flavour, and now that there's a healthy version it's ideal! The secret ingredient in this flavour is spirulina, which is big in the fitness world as it provides such a high percentage of protein per 100g. Oppo source their spirulina from the South China Sea continuing the theme of interesting and exotic ingredients.
I am incredibly impressed by Oppo's history and ethos. They are hugely concerned with the obesity crisis in the UK and believe it is partly down to low sugar foods being too expensive, which is why they are petitioning the government to lower the VAT on healthy foods from the usual 20% to only 5%. I am personally in total agreement with this, and I love their selfless ethos. The boys have developed three fantastic ice cream flavours which can confidently boast being not only healthy but delicious too! They make great accompaniments for other tasty desserts, or just to be eaten on their own. The only thing I would say is that the flavours are fairly plain (I like my ice cream to have different ingredient textures and various sauces and crunchy bits running throughout). It's a 9 from me!