Spare Snacks was founded by Ben Whitehead who worked as a Food Innovation Consultant for Unilever and as a freelance sustainability consultant before making the leap to founding his own brand. We were lucky enough to be able to taste test some of his Spare Snacks and give our verdict.
The story behind Spare Snacks is brilliant and is much needed in an era of unprecedented food waste. Shockingly, over a third of all food produced globally goes to waste which equals over 1.3 billion tons and is worth over $1 trillion. This food waste could feed every starving person in the world four times over which is just not acceptable.
That's why companies like Spare Snacks are so important and are paving the way for a better future. Spare Snacks take 'wonky' fruit and veg that would otherwise not be sold and air dry them to turn them into handy, tasty fruit and vegetable crisps. For example, they take beets that are rejected by retailers for being a little damaged when they get pulled from the ground. They use apples that might have the odd blemish which means supermarkets don't want them even though they are perfectly edible.
Spare Snacks are working hard to tackle food waste and for this alone, we immediately fell in love with this brand before we even tasted their snacks!
Beet Root Crisps
Beets are somewhat of an underrated vegetable, especially in the UK, despite being packed full of protein, fibre, and potassium. Spare Snacks pair this super healthy vegetable with apple cider vinegar to make a snack that will easily challenge your favourite bag of crisps or other savoury snacks.
I loved the texture of these 'crisps' as they were a little chewy which worked well. The subtle tang of the apple cider vinegar offsets the beetroot's natural earthy flavour and they make for a very satisfying savoury snack. The beetroots in Spare Snacks' veg crisps are air dried which means you don't get the thick, oily texture that you sometimes get with classic fried potato crisps and you're not left feeling super dehydrated afterwards which is a big bonus. Not to mention the fact that the Spare Snacks beetroot crisps only have a minute fat content (0.1g total fat) compared to 10g of fat in a bag of Walkers Salt & Vinegar crisps. The beetroot crisps also have half the salt content of a bag of Walkers so they are objectively much healthier.
My usual naughty salt and vinegar crisps have a new rival!
Apple Fruit Crisps
The Apple Fruit Crisps come in two flavours: plain or with cinnamon. I'm a huge fan of the match made in heaven that is apple and cinnamon so I was really excited to try these fruit crisps. If you're like me and need snacks throughout the day to prevent extreme hunger and consequent binges, you'll know how important it is to find delicious, healthy snacks like fruit and veg crisps.
The flavour of the apple crisps is really satisfying and kicks that sweet craving right where it's needed. Again, the texture is chewy in a good way and they taste absolutely delicious. They're not overly sweet so you're not left craving more once you're finished and they make a perfectly satisfying snack, treat, or dessert. A lot of people (myself included) are conditioned to craving something sweet after both lunch and dinner, so these are the perfect compromise.
I have tried a few different brands of fruit and vegetable crisps in the past and I am always a huge fan. I think it's such a great, easy way to get more fruit and vegetables into your diet and as they can act as a replacement for less healthy snacks it really is a great win. The fact that Spare Snacks go the extra mile by using otherwise unsaleable produce and are making steps to reduce food waste is hugely impressive. I love this brand and everything it stands for so it's a resounding 10 out of 10 from me!
On Running is a really exciting brand that is breaking through to secure its spot among the biggest players in the sports world. I was lucky enough to be able to test out the On Cloudflyer stability running shoes and give my verdict.
Size & Fit
Even just looking at these running shoes on the floor before putting them on, they look small and compact. My normal shoe size is a Women's UK 7/US 9/EUR 40.5 and I am used to sizing up for running shoes which is standard practice.
My current favourite running shoes are a pair of ASICS Gel Phoenix 7 which have served me incredibly well and I comfortably ran a full marathon in them with no discomfort, no blisters, and I could walk perfectly fine the next day (the sign of a great pair of shoes). My ASICS are a UK 8.5/US 10.5/EUR 42.5 and On suggest on their size guide that you should go half a size smaller than ASICS, so I dutifully went for a UK 8/US 10/EUR 42 for the Cloudflyers.
In reality, the physical size and dimensions of these shoes are very close to my Nike Free Runs which are a UK size 7.5/US 9.5/EUR 41 so I maybe wish I had gone bigger and didn't size down. When wearing them, my feet did feel a bit squashed and I could only wear my thinnest socks with them. If you like a roomy shoe or have big/wide feet, I'd recommend that you should definitely size up.
When I first put the shoes on, they felt very snug so I had to loosen the laces a fair bit. On first wear, they rubbed my heels and little toes quite substantially. However, I gave them a chance to wear in and this did subside after a while. To be completely honest, they are not the most comfortable running shoes I've ever worn and as you are about to find out, I had to give them a lot of chances to get it right.
First test run
I find that I have to run at least 2 miles but ideally more before I can really tell if a pair of running shoes is going to be comfortable or not. My first run in these shoes was 4 miles and I was really impressed with how they felt. I didn't experience any discomfort and I really enjoyed wearing them. Overall it was a very good run for me performance-wise and so I was left feeling very positive about the shoes.
Second test run
Unfortunately, on my second run wearing them I found that the arches of my feet started aching after a couple of miles and my toes felt squashed. It didn't cause blisters or any real pain, but my feet swell when I run (a common occurrence for many people) and so I don't like them to feel squashed. The aching on the bottom of my feet was perhaps them getting used to the more minimalist design of these running shoes.
The aching arches and squashed toes put me off quite a bit and I was left feeling disappointed at the end of my run, but I decided to give the shoes more of a chance and wait until I've done a few more runs to see if this pain disappeared once I was properly used to the shoes. Plus, I'm all too aware that we all have good runs and bad runs and that it might not be completely down to the shoes. For me, the perfect pair of running shoes are ones that I can forget I'm wearing so that I can focus solely on running and not pains in my feet.
Third test run
My next run in the shoes was a bit longer at 6 miles as I wanted to see how they'd feel over a longer distance and duration. Thankfully, the aching arches didn't seem to be a problem on this run so hopefully my feet had already got used to them. My little toes felt squashed and slightly painful at the start of the run again, however this did subside after a while.
After about 2 miles, I was running pretty comfortably in the shoes and was feeling happy with them. My last mile was on grass and this highlighted how hard the soles of the shoes are. My feet felt a bit battered and running on the grass was pretty uncomfortable, especially compared to my Nike Free Runs which I often use to do sprints in my local park.
When I got home, the bottom of my feet felt very sore, that same soreness you get when you've been on your feet for a very long time. This made me wonder how my feet would feel running in these shoes for longer runs of over 10 miles. So, I decided to test it.
Fourth test run
I really wanted to like these shoes so I gave them a lot of chances. My fourth test run was 12 miles as I wanted to test the shoes over a much longer duration, especially as I am a distance runner and may well be running a marathon in these shoes. Actually, I am hoping to run an ultra-marathon next year but it is a trail run and after the pain I experienced wearing these shoes on grass, I don't know if they'd be suitable.
On this run, my feet felt comfortable at first but then started to deteriorate. The arches of my feet ached as I don't think these shoes give quite enough ankle support for a pair of stability shoes, however this subsided after about 3 miles.
Unfortunately, after about 7 miles the bottom of my feet were hurting again like they did when I ran on the grass and this persisted until the end of the run. The lack of cushioning on these shoes while positive in the sense it keeps them light, unfortunately means they're not as good on longer runs.
I'd go so far as to say that the On Cloudflyer shoes are the best looking pair of running shoes I've ever had. They look very 'professional' and despite being stability shoes, they are very sleek, elegant, and compact. Other stability shoes I have owned have been overly clunky and look awful, both in design and the colourways available.
I like that On don't assume all women want bright fuchsia and purple running shoes and instead offer these shoes in a range of subtle, stylish colours. My friends and family also commented on how good these shoes look and I wouldn't feel out of place wearing them on a day-to-day basis as part of a casual outfit.
Stability shoes, which are designed to give support for people like me who have flat feet and overpronate, can be very chunky and I find that this can slow me down. My current ASICS running shoes are guilty of this so it was a breath of fresh air to run in the Cloudflyer shoes which were so much more lightweight. Their selling point is that you're supposed to feel like you're 'running on clouds' and this was certainly true for me!
Despite the discomfort mentioned above, these shoes helped me to run with very good form and encouraged me to be much lighter on my toes and lift my legs more when running. They actually felt like they were making me run faster! Perhaps this was just a placebo effect. Although, any good runner, physio, or coach will tell you that your running form starts with your feet and so having these shoes support me so well, perhaps they really did make me run faster.
I wasn't sure how the grip would handle wet roads but these shoes were perfectly grippy and I felt confident running in the rain while wearing them. My second run in them saw me running over some gravel and I was very impressed with the grip, my feet didn't slip at all and I felt very confident running over different terrains.
I had to give these shoes quite a lot of time to get used to them and to wear them in fully. My first run with them was awesome but then my second, not so much. As a distance runner, I need running shoes that are going to be very comfortable over countless miles and that I can forget I'm even wearing.
I found these shoes to be a bit too snug so I'd recommend sizing up if you want to be super sure. The rigid upper rubbed my feet and the very solid soles felt a bit harsh so I would mark them down for comfort.
However, I'm hugely impressed by their appearance and performance-enhancing qualities. When I received them, I was hoping they could replace my current running shoes and become my new go-to for my next few hundred miles of running. While they're ideal for shorter tempo runs and interval runs, they're not so good for long runs. So, I'll wear them for shorter runs and wear my ASICS for longer runs.
I'd rate these shoes a solid 7/10 as I think they have the potential to be an amazing pair of running shoes, but the comfort (or lack thereof) let them down.
“The Revolutionary 30 day Fitness Plan”
The Accumulator promises to take you from 0 to fit in a matter of 30 days with its online programme that gets progressively tougher as you do.
How it works
The Accumulator works via a membership tier scheme, with varying levels of knowledge and feedback available at each level. You can try the programme for 7 days free or sign up for the full course. This provides you with a month's worth of workouts, sent to you on a daily basis, access to the blog, Facebook group, expert nutritional advice and a recipe library.
After filling out a brief health questionnaire, you’ll be ready to go!
Sundried met the owner of The Accumulator, Paul Mumford, at Fitpro and were drawn to his positive nature and enthusiasm. His team are a group of like-minded, qualified personal trainers who are all very friendly and feature with Paul in the daily videos.
Paul is more than just a friendly guy though, he has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the fitness industry. As well as mentoring a vast array of clients, Paul teaches other fitness professionals, talks at seminars and fitness events and writes for several national and international fitness publications. His first book, all about The Accumulator™ was published by Bloomsbury in January 2016.
The 30 days begin easy; you’re guided in with a welcoming email from Paul, who guides you through what the process will be for the next 30 days and introduces his blog called “The Knowledge” as well as an exclusive Facebook group for other members of the challenge to share advice and motivation. There is also an online exercise directory in case you need to go over any of the moves.
The programme works by gradually increasing your workout time by adding an exercise a day until you end up with a full 30 minutes worth of training.
Every day you are emailed the next workout and knowing Paul, he’ll have this sent out ready for the early risers at around 6am. All of the workouts are body weight only, so all you need is time and a workout space. Reading Paul’s email should get you motivated and ready to go, so it's very simple and easy to get along with.
The moves progress as the 30 days goes on from push ups to plyometrics, but Paul keeps his emails lighthearted and chirpy to keep you going. The videos feature himself and one of the team completing the moves with you so you can be checking your form as you go and won’t forget what you’re doing.
As one exercise ends, the next is queued up in the corner of your screen, so you’ll always feel comfortable with what’s to come. The exercises are always kept simple and explained clearly, plus of course you can refer to the exercise glossary whenever you need to if a particular move troubles you. All the exercises will have variations so you can work up to the full move if need be. As the course goes on, the exercises and routines get a little more challenging, with plyometrics and double sessions, but you still only need your body weight and some space and of course, your fitness is improving as you go, so you’re perfectly capable of the tougher moves.
Who is The Accumulator for?
As a stand alone programme, this is great for beginner to intermediate, or for those who struggle with ideas for routines as it takes out the guesswork. If you're someone who is motivated by being part of a team, you’ll benefit from Paul’s team's encouragement and round-the-clock guidance in the Facebook page, where you can talk with other members.
Those with intermediate to advanced levels of fitness will find the routine too easy and will need to find a more complicated training regime which includes compound lifts to achieve their goals. If you’re training at a competitive level, already regularly training or looking to gain muscle, then try a more advanced training routine.
You can try our Sundried workouts here.
Overall, the routine is simple and fun and great for those who may be fearful of large gyms. Paul's daily emails are friendly and educational and the site blog is filled with plenty of training tips and knowledge.
Stryyk is a drinks brand founded by entrepreneur Alex Carlton who first founded Funkin Cocktails back in 1999. Carlton successfully sold this business in 2015 and set his sights on a new venture: alcohol-free spirits such as zero-proof rum and gin. We were lucky enough to be able to try Stryyk's 'Not Rum' drink and give our verdict.
Stryyk is a drinks brand for those who might be tee-total for health reasons or simply because they are the designated driver that day. Stryyk aims to allow those who aren't drinking traditional alcoholic drinks and cocktails to still enjoy their outing just as much as their friends. One idea that Stryyk is working on is to encourage bars and venues to denote drinks that work with Stryyk gin or rum with an 'S' on the drinks menu, in the same way a 'V' on a restaurant menu denotes a vegetarian dish. The idea is that patrons can choose to 'stryyk' the alcohol and still enjoy a delicious, balanced drink.
Founder Carlton generally believes that "a mocktail menu is typically quite sweet, which is not sessionable." He believes that those who don't drink alcohol should be able to enjoy a premium, quality cocktail instead of having to opt for a plain orange juice or other sugary soft drink.
As a health and fitness brand, here at Sundried we certainly champion those who choose not to drink alcohol for health reasons but might still want to go out and enjoy an evening with friends. Being able to 'stryyk' the alcohol out of your drink allows you to not make a fuss about not drinking alcohol which we think is a big bonus.
When we were sent our bottle of Stryyk Not Rum, we were advised that it pairs excellently with ginger beer as well as lime. Classic rum-based cocktails such as a Mojito are always a winner, so we started with that. We muddled lime, mint, and sugar into a glass, added ice, and then poured over the Stryyk Not Rum to complete the cocktail. A Mojito is traditionally made with white rum where Stryyk's is golden, but as this is just an added colouring we figured it shouldn't matter too much! We also made a traditional Mojito with 'real' rum to compare notes.
As soon as you open the bottle of Stryyk's Not Rum, you're greeted with a delightful, spicy aroma which makes your mouth water instantly. The flavour is light and fruity thanks to the grapefruit while the clove helps it stay robust and flavourful. The Not Rum tasted fantastic mixed into the Mojito and actually tasted better than the 'real' Mojito made with traditional rum!
When drunk neat on the rocks, this spirit is quite the stand-out and is very delicious. It pairs wonderfully with ginger beer and drives the flavour through the roof. To think that it is perfectly healthy, there's no risk of hangover, and you can drink it all day, we think it's an absolute winner!
Stryyk Zero-Proof spirits are available from their website www.stryyk.com
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.