Friday, 28 March 2014

Meridian Nut Butters - a review plus a recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies

Like most families, we are already big peanut butter fans and it features, as a sandwich filling, at least a couple of times a week in my daughters' packed lunches. We were obviously willing to try out a range of nut butters from Meridian Foods and we particularly liked the sound of the cashew and almond butters, as an alternative to the usual peanut spread.

Unlike the major brands, Meridian nut butters are made from 100% nuts. No palm oil. No salt. No sugar.

As we're used to peanut butter with added salt, we did notice the lack of salt in the peanut butter. A real plus point is that there is no added palm oil,  but that meant that the oil from the nuts tended to separate a little, so the butters needed a good stir before spreading (a small price to pay, to avoid the ubiquitous palm oil!). Neither of these detract from the taste, but I thought they were worth mentioning.

The peanut butter was packed with plenty of crunchy bits, while the milder tasting cashew butter was silky smooth, and spoonful or two would make a great addition to curry sauces (instead of using ground almonds or cashews). The crunchy almond butter - made with roasted almonds - was a revelation to us all; a delicious alternative to peanut butter.
"Nuts have been part of our diet for thousands of years. All nuts and seeds are a good source of vegetable protein and energy. Although they contain oils & fat, a high percentage of these oils/fats are mono and poly unsaturated oils which are better for heart health than the saturated fats found in animal products. 
Virtually all nuts are very good sources of the main B vitamins... which help with energy production and carbohydrate metabolism, balancing blood sugar levels, hormones and cardiovascular health..."

As we all also enjoy peanut butter cookies, I thought I'd make a batch up with the Meridian peanut butter. The crunchy almond butter would also work well and would give a completely different taste.

Peanut Butter Cookies (Vegan)

Makes 12
  • 4oz crunchy peanut butter/other crunchy nut butter
  • 2 oz dairy-free margarine/spread
  • 2 oz soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup/agave syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz SR flour
Cream the peanut butter, spread, sugar and syrup together.
Mix in the flour and vanilla extract to form a dough; add just a splash of dairy-free milk or water if the mixture is too dry to hold together.
Squeeze small handfuls of the dough into balls using your hands.
Put onto a greased baking tray and flatten slightly, then flatten further with the back of a fork.
Bake at 170C/160C Fan/Gas 3/325 F  for 10-12 mins, or until golden brown. 
Cool for 5-10 mins before removing from tray and cooling on a wire rack.

Suitable for freezing.

You can find lots more nut butter recipes from Meridian, on their website.

Integrity Statement
I received complimentary samples of Meridian nut butters to review. I did not receive payment, and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family.

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Monday, 17 March 2014

Laimon Fresh - cocktail recipes, a review & giveaway

I first spotted Laimon Fresh in the supermarkets a few months ago. It's a new sparkling soft drink is made from 100% natural ingredients and is available in both cans and bottles. I was intrigued by the sound of the flavour combination (lemon, lime and mint...hence the name!), but wasn't too sure whether to buy it or not.

I was lucky enough to be offered a sample to try, along with some cocktail ideas. On opening the can, the first smell was of fresh garden mint, followed by citrus fruits. As a soft drink, it's refreshing, but distinctly 'adult' in flavour (it would be great served over ice on a hot, summer day).

Both Miss O and Miss K tried it reluctantly, but weren't impressed! Mr O and I on the other hand were more than happy to try out a couple of Laimon Fresh cocktail recipes to see how it compared to other mixers. Served with white rum, it makes a quick and easy mojito. As it's citrus-y and not too sweet, it works as a good alternative to cola, ginger ale or tonic water. I also think it would also be a great mixer with Pimms or in citrus-based cocktails.

The Mojito
  • 50ml of white rum
  • Crushed ice
  • 330ml can of Laimon Fresh
Pour 50ml of white rum into a tall glass
Fill glass 2/3 of the way up with crushed ice
Pour a 330ml can of Laimon Fresh in to the glass and stir

Berry Fresh
  • 60ml vodka
  • 330ml can of Laimon Fresh
  • 4 blackberries
  • 4 blueberries
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar syrup
Muddle two of each berry in the bottom of a shaker, add ice and everything except the Laimon Fresh.
Shake hard. Fine strain into glass over crushed ice. Top with Laimon Fresh.
Garnish with a blackberry and blueberry and a leaf of mint.

Laimon Fresh can be found in Waitrose, Sainsburys and Tesco Extra.
I have one case (12 cans) of Laimon Fresh to give away to one lucky reader. Simply enter on the Rafflecopter widget below. UK only. Closes midnight 27th March 2014.

Integrity Statement
I received complimentary samples of Laimon Fresh to review and to give away. I did not receive payment, and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family.
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Thursday, 6 March 2014

Piri-Piri Mushroom & Halloumi 'Burger'

Piri-Piri Mushroom & Halloumi 'Burger'
This super-easy meal was inspired by a well-known chicken burger chain. I ate there once. I enjoyed the 'burger' but didn't know how they could possibly charge £6 (that's without any side orders) for something so cheap and simple to prepare. I knew I could make a similar meal far cheaper with better ingredients, so I did...

Assuming you have most of the piri-piri/peri-peri sauce ingredients already, this costs around £1.50 per portion for the 'burger'. For 4 servings, I used: Sainsbury's Halloumi £2.25, large, flat mushrooms £1.40, burger buns 70p, lemon 35p, lettuce 60p.

Serves 4

For the burgers:
  • 1 (250g/10oz) pack of halloumi cheese cut into 8 slices
  • 4 large flat/Portabello mushrooms, wiped and de-stalked
  • 4 burger buns (or make your own)
  • Finely sliced lettuce
For the piri-piri sauce:
  • 1-2 red chillis - finely chopped (or use 2 tsp frozen chopped chilli, or hot chilli sauce)
  • 1 lemon, juiced (add zest for more citrus flavour)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • A pinch of salt (vegan version only)
Make up the piri-piri sauce, by mixing the ingredients together in a small bowl, or whizzing up in a mini food-processor.

Brush the mushrooms with the sauce and either fry, grill or barbecue them until soft and golden brown. Keep warm in the oven.
Repeat with the halloumi cheese slices.
Put a little shredded lettuce on the bottom half of a bread roll.
Layer up with the mushroom and 2 slices of cheese, a little more piri-piri sauce and topping with the other half of the bun.

Serve with grilled corn-on-the-cob and/or home-made seasoned sweet potato wedges.

Mushroom alternative: For fungi-phobes like Miss K, use grilled bell pepper instead.
Vegan alternative: Omit the halloumi and top the mushroom with a good dollop of vegan coleslaw.
Camping alternative: Use ready made piri-piri sauce.

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