Which Coffee Shop Makes The Best Porridge?

Starbucks

This is entitled ‘Perfect Porridge’ on its packaging, so it had a lot to live up to. Fresh milk is added to the dry oats rather than hot water, so you get the option after purchase of either regular or soya milk.

starbucks-porridge

Toppings are included in the £1.99 price tag, and you have a good choice of toppings, from sugar, sweeteners, vanilla, nutmeg, cocoa powder, cinnamon, honey and dried fruit in sachets. It’s nice to have the option of so many toppings included in the price, although something that isn’t hugely sugary would have been nice, such as peanut butter or fresh fruit.

Related: The Best IBS-Friendly Porridge Toppings

Although milk is added, the dried oats just don’t seem to blend properly and you get a synthetic tasting bland porridge without much integrity. Not very nice at all, not even with the addition of the toppings.

starbucks-porridge-2

Costa Coffee

A small 80g pot of packaged porridge – is it really worth £2.10? It’s difficult to think you’re getting your money’s worth when it looks so measly and when you know full well that the oats themselves probably cost around 2p.

costa-coffee-porridge

In the pot is 60% whole grain oat flakes (all good so far), dried skimmed milk (not bad at all), and lots and lots of refined sugar (uhoh). Hot water is added to mix it all together. Because of the dried skimmed milk, you don’t get the usual luxurious creaminess of fresh milk, nor do you get the option of choosing a dairy-free milk so vegans and lactose intolerants can say bye-bye to this morning staple.

Related: “Instant” & “Convenience” Oatmeal: Quaker Oats Aren’t Healthy

The texture is okay at best – the flakes are a bit mealy and it is way too sweet, and it didn’t actually fill me up at all. Fine for a sugary snack, but not really a decent breakfast option.

Caffe Nero

I’m a massive advocate of Caffe Nero so I had all the hope in the world going into this one and trying out their porridge, any disappointment would have felt like a massive blow.

nero-porridge

Like with Starbucks, skimmed, semi or soya milk is added hot to this porridge pot, or you can add water if you prefer. The choice of toppings isn’t as extensive as Starbucks but the options of maple syrup, berry compote or sugar and sweeteners is nice, although a less sugary topping would again be preferred.

This one was really nice and tasted more like the stuff I make myself at home. Smooth, full of large oats and really creamy. I had mine with soya milk and it tasted super luxurious yet light. Really nice even without any toppings and amazing with an espresso.

Pret A Manger

Pret generally make outstanding food so it’s no wonder they go the extra mile with their porridge options, with their Proper Porridge (the usual) and Five Grain Porridge (oats, quinoa, amaranth, golden linseed, brown linseed, cooked in coconut water).

pret-porridge
Proper Porridge

As you might expect, the latter is one of the nicest coffee shop porridges – rather than scolding it with hot water or lumping it full of hot milk, they cook it in advance and then keep in warm in serving pots. This gives the oats sufficient time to soak up their surrounding flavours and liquids – anyone who has made overnight oats knows the majesty of this technique.

pret-porridge-2
Five Grain Porridge

Toppings include the usual sugar, sweetener, honey and berry compote, plus a mango and seed compote which is actually really good. The seed addition is a nice touch as I was getting a bit fed up of only having sweet toppings.

The texture is lovely and because it’s been warmed through properly, every spoonful tastes great. On top of that, you can also eat it straight away out of the tub!


Overall, Pret wins because it actually tastes like some care has gone into making a perfect porridge. The others seem like they just want to make a pretty penny off of a very cheap breakfast staple.

In general, avoid the instant porridges which only use dried oats and hot water – the flavours won’t combine correctly and will taste bland.

On the flip side, too much milk and not enough stirring makes the liquid and the oats separate from one another – they need properly mixing, over a longer period of time, so they can combine whilst capturing all the flavours. A mixture of hot water and hot milk seems to work best for the Pret porridge.

Alflorex Biotics Review: How much does it help IBS?

I’m naturally sceptical when it comes to probiotic products. Before I was officially diagnosed with IBS, I tried expensive supermarket probiotic drinks like Yakult and Actimel because I imagined they’d fix my tempestuous stomach. Turns out, not so much.

All they did was make me feel more bloated, as well as giving me ‘squeaky teeth’ – the phenomenon of way too much sugar in concentrated form, so I had to stop taking them.

Since being diagnosed and learning more about IBS, I tried a few other probiotics (see my review of Symprove Probiotics here), which were pretty good, so I was less sceptical when this year I was given the chance to try Alflorex probiotics.

alflorex-ibs

Alflorex is a natural precision biotic food supplement which comes in the form of easy digestible small capsules. I was sent 4 weeks’ worth so had plenty of time to work it into my usual routine.

After 1 week I noticed subtle changes, but not dramatic. The bloating I would usually feel after a larger meal felt less uncomfortable, but I wasn’t sure if this was just a placebo effect and you can’t really tell after 1 week alone anyway.

After 2 weeks I did start to see noticeable improvements, mainly in terms of bowel movements and the way I was able to eat larger meals without experiencing stomach cramps. In general, from the moment I woke up my stomach felt calm, whereas before I had to down 2 pints of water just so I could feel like my gut was cleansed.

probiotic-drinks

After 3 weeks I wanted to see if the Yakult drinks I tried and failed with before would work better alongside Alflorex. I’d really not recommend it, it just exhausts your gut and makes digestion even more difficult than before. It turns out that consuming multiple strains of bacteria isn’t good for the gut at all – different cultures target different areas of the gut. Too many targeted areas just over-runs the gut and creates more muscle spasms than normal (there’s more detailed information on the use of multiple strains here).

After 4 weeks I stopped using Yakult and just had the one capsule of Alflorex a day as before and my stomach started to feel normal again. Easy and calm digestion reduced the bloating and made eating a lot more enjoyable.

Overall, I think this stuff works, but definitely give it four weeks to really ride out the full capacity of the product. Oh and don’t mix with other bacterial strains as it simply undoes all the natural good of Alflorex!

 

Are These The Worst Convenience Foods To Buy?

Have we reached peak laziness?

When did it become so difficult to take something out of its packaging, chop it, wash it or, heaven forbid, butter it?!

According to research by the BBC, sales of pre-peeled potatoes went up 40% from 2010 to 2011 and is continuing to grow year on year, whilst diced onions were up 14% and prepared vegetables were up 17%!

I, for one, am not a fan of lazy foods in the slightest.

Not only do they strip the heart and soul from the food by throwing in lashings of chemicals to preserve it/thicken it/make it stay pretty over time, but there is no enjoyment to be had during consumption any more.

We’re cramming morsels down our faces as we rush off to the next meeting, we’re no longer preparing food because our schedule doesn’t allow for it, so we don’t think of food as sustenance or important nourishment any more, all it is is another tick on the To Do list.

The unavoidable outcome of this is that these types of busy on-the-move people are unaware that this is why they’re always tired/stressed out/hungry for more… because what they’re eating, whilst colourful, is vacuous, tasteless and diminishes wellbeing at a horrific rate.

Here are the top 7 worst convenience foods you can find in stores, which will prove just how much we hate our bodies/using cutlery! FYI – This list is designed to showcase the worst of the worst… do NOT buy these if you care about good food!

Pre-buttered malt loaf

prebuttered-convenience

I was shocked and disgusted when I saw this. PRE-BUTTERED?! Has the world gone mad? Next, Soreen will be sending a drone to open the ever-so-hard-to-open plastic wrapping too!

Pre-cooked jacket potato

mccain2Probably one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen, it’s almost laughable that a 5 minute microwaveable potato is considered one of the most revolutionary things to happen in the 2000s.

Oh, and there is How To Cook instructions on their site in case you really were struggling to make sense of your starchy nemesis.

Pre-cut avocado

avo-ms

When M&S launched this in April there was considerable backlash concerning the sheer laziness of the product. Not only is it lazy, avocados are inherently good at a) telling you they’re ripe (the knobbly bit falls off), and b) keeping the flesh firm with its rough outer shell. By taking the flesh out, putting it in a pot, and preserving it with parsley no less, you’ll get a much mushier and mangey avocado experience.

Pre-mashed mashed potato

tesco-mash

This has been around for years, and it is one of my biggest bug bears. Homemade mashed potato is delicious, fluffy, filling and creamy. Pre-mashed mashed potato comes packed with heavy cream, lumps of butter and way too much salt, making it super unhealthy, and making you wish you’d just had the patience to boil a few potatoes for half an hour instead. Ruin your Sunday dinner with this delight today!

Crustless bread

kingsmill-crustless

This is obviously one for the kids, but really – does this need to be a thing? Assuming the parents opened the packaging themselves (although I’m quite certain they’d deem this too difficult a task), they’re also probably not far away from a knife which, yes would you believe it, CUTS CRUSTS OFF MANUALLY. Unless you live in a cave and the closest thing to a knife you have is the sharp end of an elephant’s tusk, then you really have no excuse.

Grated cheese

cathedral-city

So so commonly used, grated cheese is a prime example of convenience food becoming normalised. To most, it’s far easier to whap out of a bag of grated cheese and sprinkle over your cottage pie, but just remember that by not bothering to grate a block of cheese yourself, you’re also eating heaps of potato starch into your diet (to stop the cheese from caking in the bag). Potato starch is a delicious combination of empty calories, carbs, and sugars. Yum!

Microwave sausages

walls-saus

Sausages are not a food you eat if you’re trying to be healthy, but if you have kids who demand them, serving up microwave sausages is a massive sin that won’t help their health and wellbeing at all. That’s because the guys at Walls pack the ‘succulent’ sausages out with loads of water, rusk and yummy potato starch, leaving only 60% for actual pork meat. A typical good sausages needs at least 80% pork for it to give you the good bits such as protein without making you starve later on.

And here are some of the foods you should DEFINITELY be making yourself at home…

Hummus

Literally chickpeas, water and lemon juice. Throw in a bit of tahini if you fancy it, but you don’t have to if you don’t want the extra fat. Tahini-free hummus recipes are abundant, so don’t fret. Homemade hummus is cheap as chips, with half of the fat of packaged hummus.

Banana bread

Full of butter and sugar, you’re far better off making your own. Not only will it be tonnes healthier (you can add in oats, nuts, seeds, whatever you like) it will also taste so much fresher! See this healthy banana loaf recipe.

Salsa

Literally just chopped tomatoes and spices, you can easily whip up a homemade salsa in seconds from stock items you’ll definitely have in the pantry. Tastes so much better, and isn’t heaping with that nasty vinaigrette supermarkets like to plough their salsas with.

Smoothies

I’m sure this is common sense, but you’ll get so much more goodness from homemade smoothies. You can add in the bits and pieces you like the most and make and eat within seconds. If you struggle with IBS or have digestive issues, there are a list of Low FODMAP smoothies you can whip up super easily too.

Soup

Yes, I know canned soup is cheap, but with the sheer amount of salt in each can your palate will not thank you. Make your own with stock, fresh meat and vegetables and enjoy a whole new soup experience.

 

flpajacks

Clean Eating Protein Flapjack Recipe – Only Four Ingredients!

This recipe came about after relentlessly searching for ‘healthy flapjack recipe’ and getting back seriously unhealthy flapjacks full of sugar (just no butter).

I’m a massive advocate for high protein, low sugar recipes which are full of wholesome ingredients and, if they’re fairly calorie-dense but full of wholefoods, I’m fine with it.

So I decided to give it a bit of a whizz myself to see what could be substituted. After all, a classic flapjack recipe is just oats, golden syrup, butter and brown sugar. The oats are the main bit and are of course the only healthy bit, so they can stay. The rest of the ingredients did, however, need a few tweaks.

The butter I thought could be replaced by coconut oil. It has pretty much the same texture in a bake, with the only downside being the lack of creaminess.

So to perk up the creaminess, I thought to throw in some peanut butter which would not only add that extra bit of texture, but it would also amp up the protein levels.

A flapjack is not a flapjack without super sweetness, which is typically from the brown sugar and golden syrup. And, whilst super delicious, they’re so bad for you that they should never be added to anything, in my opinion.

cranberry-flapjacks

So instead of golden syrup and brown sugar, I added honey which offers the same gooey texture but with less of the sweeteness. To amp up the sweetness I added cranberries and raisins and a sprinkling of delicious ground cinnamon. For me, this gives the right amount of sweeteness without overwhelming my palate with sugar. Some might need more sugar, to which I’d recommend adding a sweetener or some more honey, but the idea is to keep the sugar as low as poss.

I added the protein powder and sesame seeds to give it a little extra protein punch, and that little bit of extra flavour.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (get the raw stuff which actually tastes like coconut)
  • 3 tablespoons honey/maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla protein powder (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons 100% peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon cranberries (I use frozen cranberries because they’re cheaper and can keep them all year round)
  • 1 tablespoon raisins/sultanas
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 200g rolled oats (the bigger the oat the better)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Method

In a saucepan melt the coconut oil, peanut butter and honey until completely blended. Of course, if you’ve used a crunchy peanut butter there will be peanut chunks left over, but that’s fine.

Once this is all mixed, take off the heat and add in your cranberries, seeds and raisins.

In a separate bowl mix together half of your oats and all of your cinnamon (only add half in whilst you’re mixing in the spices just in case you think your mix could use fewer than 200g oats in the later stages).

Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and keep adding in the remaining oats until you’re happy with the consistency. The consistency should be thick, but still sticky so it can be pressed into the bottom of a baking tin without crumbling. You’ll get a good idea of this by taking a spoonful and squishing it in your hand to see if it makes a ball without falling apart.

In a lined baking tray, squish the mixture down so it’s nice and firm like a cheesecake base (because there is no real butter in this, the consistency is more likely to crumble, so this is an important part of the bake!)

Bake in the centre of an oven at 180c for 15 minutes, or until the flapjacks start to brown at the edges.

Remove from the oven once finished, and DO NOT TOUCH until at least an hour afterwards. Cutting into it too early doesn’t allow it enough time to set.

After a long waited hour, chow down on these healthy clean-eating flapjacks!

The Easy Cups To Grams Convertor

Do you know how many grams are in a cup? Or how many cups are in a gram? You may think you do, until the type of flour changes or the type of sugar switches and suddenly the conversion of cups to grams is completely different!

The amount of times I’ve searched for a recipe, found one that’s fab and got excited, only to be disappointed when the ingredients were in cups. The only option after that is a) go through endless websites trying to find out all the gram equivalents for each ingredient, or b) the much easier and most popular option… abandon it.

cupstograms

I scoured the web to find all the converted measurements I could find for cups to grams for the most common baking ingredients. If there are any that I’ve missed that you use frequently, pop us a comment and I’ll try to get that added🙂

Hope it helps! Happy baking!

buttercake-005

Plain Flour, Self Raising Flour, Wholemeal Flour, Caster Sugar, Raw Cacao, Seeds, Dried Fruit

1/8 cup = 16 g
1/4 cup = 32 g
1/3 cup = 43 g
1/2 cup = 64 g
2/3 cup = 85 g
3/4 cup = 96 g
1 cup = 128 g

Cornflour, Ground nuts, Bread Flour, Gluten Free Flours, Crushed Biscuits, Protein Powder, Cocoa Nibs, Grated Mozzerella

1/4 cup = 30 g
1/3 cup = 40 g
1/2 cup = 60 g
2/3 cup = 80 g
3/4 cup = 90 g
1 cup =  120 g

Bread Flour

1/4 cup = 34 g
1/3 cup = 45 g
1/2 cup = 68 g
1 cup = 136 g

Granulated Sugar, Brown Sugar, Palm Sugar, Raisins, Sultanas, Agave Nectar

1/4 cup = 50 g
1/3 cup = 67 g
1/2 cup = 105 g
2/3 cup = 134 g
3/4 cup = 150 g
1 cup = 210 g

Icing Sugar, Rye Flour

1/4 cup = 25 g
1/3 cup = 35 g
1/2 cup = 50 g
2/3 cup = 70 g
3/4 cup = 75 g
1 cup = 100 g

Oats, Desiccated Coconut

1/4 cup = 21 g
1/3 cup = 28 g
1/2 cup = 43 g
1 cup = 85 g

Maple Syrup, Honey, Molasses

1/4 cup = 85 g
1/3 cup = 113 g
1/2 cup = 170 g
2/3 cup = 227 g
3/4 cup = 255 g
1 cup = 340 g

Butter, Margarine, Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese

1/4 cup = 57 g
1/3 cup = 76 g
1/2 cup = 113 g
1 cup = 227 g

Dry Rice, Shortening

1/4 cup = 48 g
1/3 cup = 65 g
1/2 cup = 95 g
2/3 cup = 125 g
3/4 cup = 140 g
1 cup = 190 g

Dry Couscous, Chocolate Chips

1/4 cup = 45 g
1/3 cup = 60 g
1/2 cup = 90 g
2/3 cup = 120 g
3/4 cup = 135 g
1 cup = 180 g

Table Salt

1/4 cup = 75 g
1/3 cup = 100 g
1/2 cup = 150 g
2/3 cup = 200 g
3/4 cup = 230 g
1 cup = 300 g

Chopped Nuts, Dried Breadcrumbs, Grated Carrot, Goji Berries, Chia Seeds

1/4 cup = 40 g
1/3 cup = 50 g
1/2 cup = 75 g
2/3 cup = 100 g
3/4 cup = 110 g
1 cup = 150 g

Fresh Breadcrumbs, Marshmallows

1/4 cup = 15 g
1/3 cup = 20 g
1/2 cup = 30 g
2/3 cup = 40 g
3/4 cup = 45 g
1 cup = 60 g

Cream, Purees, Chickpeas, Beans, Ricotta Cheese

1/4 cup = 60 g
1/3 cup = 75 g
1/2 cup = 120 g
2/3 cup = 150 g
3/4 cup = 180 g
1 cup = 240 g

Mashed Banana, Nut Butter

1/4 cup = 65 g
1/3 cup = 85 g
1/2 cup = 130 g
2/3 cup = 170 g
3/4 cup = 195 g
1 cup = 260 g

Milk

1/4 cup = 60ml
1/3 cup = 80ml
1/2 cup = 120ml
2/3 cup = 160ml
3/4 cup = 180ml
1 cup = 240ml

Are Special K Granola Bars Healthy?

If Special K’s protein shakes are anything to go by (Read here: Are Special K Granola Bars Healthy?) then I’m not too optimistic speculating whether Special K’s granola bars are healthy or not.

For decades, the term ‘granola’ has carried undertones of health and good wellbeing. This all started because Dr James Caleb Jackson, a health spa extraordinaire, invented ‘granula’ from nothing more than a graham flour which was crumbled and then baked until crisp. And ‘granular’ remained this way as a genuinely healthy cereal, all throughout his time during the late 19th century and throughout the 1900s.

granola

This all changed in the 60s when ‘granular’ came to be reinvented into something completely different and ‘of the times’. Whilst the main components remained the same, additions such as sweeteners, sugars, fruits, nuts, and syrups were added to appeal to the new flavour-mad generation of hippies and young children.

The first commercial granola came to fruition in 1972 by Pet Milk, called Heartland Natural Cereal which added cane juice, canola oil, brown rice syrup and natural flavourings to add a little more to the rolled oat recipe devised by Jackson.

The name changed from ‘granular’ to ‘granola’ when John Harvey Kellogg (of the brand Kellogg’s) developed a similar cereal, but for legality reasons gave his the name of ‘Granola’. And so granola was born.
Just a brief look at granola throughout history shows how little we really know about the stuff, and how warped our view of granola’s ‘health halo’ actually is.

Which brings us back to Kellogg’s Special K granola bars. Are they in the original health halo we expect of a granola bar, or are they just another candy bar in oat-y clothing?

Related: Why Breakfast Biscuits & Granola suck for IBS sufferers

Corn syrup is the 2nd ingredient (after rolled oats) in all of their fruit bars, with sugar, fructose, dextrose, glycerine, fruit concentrate, molasses, malt extract and fruit puree the main components that make the bar palatable.

Their dark chocolate granola bars do not use the healthy 85% or more dark choc we might expect either – with sugar the 1st ingredient in the dark coating, followed by palm oil, soy lecithin and salt). The only cocoa used is processed and barely noticeable in both ingredients list and taste.

You may be surprised to know that the worst Kellogg’s snack bar in terms of calories and sugar is the Chocolate Caramel Protein Meal Bar (170 calories, 15g sugar), closely followed by the Cranberry Almond Chewy Nut Bar (150 calories, 12g sugar). To put it into perspective, this is around the same calories as a Mars bar and the same sugar as a Kit Kat. The amount of fibre is limited per bar as fibre-rich ingredients such as wholegrains, nuts and seeds fall to the bottom of the list.

kelloggs-chewy

If you’re so loyal to Kellogg’s that you know you could never part from them, I’d say their cereal bars are probably the healthiest way to go. Although their cereals do contain a bit of sugar, there is wheat fibre, whole grain wheat and wheat bran added to these bars. They also have on average fewer calories and sugar than any of the other snack bars in Kellogg’s range.

kelloggs-cereal

Personally, I’d steer clear of Kellogg’s as their friendly branding and bold product names are largely misleading. Instead, make your own granola bars (recipe here for Buckwheat Cranberry Granola), or buy low-sugar granola products such as Diablo’s bars or The Food Doctor food bars.

Quick Vegetarian Dishes: Halloumi Pesto Rice Noodles & Chargrilled Veg

Rice noodles are something I’d never tried until a few months ago. I’d never really seen them in shops and, to the honest, if you want rice you eat rice, if you want noodles you eat noodles, right?

rice-noodles-dish

Well, not if you’d rather avoid bloating. Rice is starch on steroids and egg noodles, whilst aren’t half as bad as pasta, The Great Gut Destroyers, they are still majorly wheaty and gluten-rich.

Rice noodles, on the other hand, are my new King. Made with rice flour (rather than wheat flour) they’re filling without causing any digestive discomfort. Plus, you can throw in all kinds of vegetables to add that extra crunch you need.

ilumi-noodles

Take a look at the recipe for my Pesto Rice Noodles with Chargrilled Veg for a healthy and INCREDIBLY healthy dinner. I eat this most days after work as it’s a great way to quickly get your nutrients, with barely any prep or long cooking times! I actually made this and ate it so fast the only photo I captured was pre-veg!

I add in the pesto as spice isn’t really a great thing for my IBS, but any seasoning or sauce should work equally well (although the pesto is very highly recommended!)

cottage-delight-pesto

Ingredients

  1. 170g Ilumi Singapore Rice Noodles – I cook them in the pot like a Pot Noodle, it’s so easy and mess-free.
  2. 2 slices Halloumi
  3. 180g Cottage Delight Sweet Pepper & Ricotta Cheese Pesto
  4. Several handfuls of your favourite veg. My favourite veg to chargrill are peppers, aubergine and onions.

Method

  • All you have to do is spread out your veg on a baking tray and lightly brush with olive oil.
  • Cook the veg under a hot grill for around 8 minutes or until the edges start to brown (but not burn!)
  • Add your slices of halloumi to a dry frying pan and fry on each side for around 2 minutes each.
  • Whilst you’re waiting, boil the kettle and full your Ilumi pot to just below the fill line and leave to stand for several minutes.
  • Once cool, drain the noodles well until completely dried out otherwise the pesto won’t hold.
  • In the frying pan, chop up the halloumi, add the veg once it’s grilled, and add half the pesto and smash it all together.
  • In a large bowl, pop the cooked noodles in as the base and add the remaining pesto, and then add the contents of the frying pan on top.
  • Leave to stand for a few minutes to let the pesto season the noodles.
  • Slurp up as soon as it’s cool enough to eat! Yummmm.

Is Oven Rack Positon Important?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself every time I’ve baked – and regretted not thinking the answer through before consequently ruining my bake!

It’s easy to assume that no matter where you place your bake, the oven’s heat circulates just the same. But much like how fruits ripen at different points depending on the other fruits in the bowl, it’s much more variable than that and there’s no one-size-fits-all for oven racks.

oven-racks

Top Rack

Ideal for baking: crisps, potatoes, casseroles, pasta bakes

The top rack is where the majority of the heat settle as the heat rises to the top of the oven whilst it’s turned on. However, some foods shouldn’t be heated TOO quickly, so only foods which need to be browned and cooked quickly, rather than an overall bake, need to go on the top rack.

Middle Rack

Ideal for baking: lasagnes, cakes, cookies, sweet pies

The middle rack is the most loved amongst bakers making sweet stuff which requires the whole product to be baked evenly. Also good for stodgy foods which need to be cooked all the way through and not just on top.

If you have two sheets on the middle rack, however, it’s usually best to spread them out on the top and bottom thirds as they both won’t be baked evenly if they have to share the rack.

Bottom Rack

Ideal for baking: bread, pizza, savoury pies

The bottom rack cooks the bottom of the dish moreso than anywhere else, so things which don’t strictly need the topside baking or browning are the ones which need the bottom rack. Here is the closest position to the source of the heat.

Are Special K protein shakes healthy?

Although not available in the UK just yet, it’s sure to be no time until we see Kellogg’s Special K Protein shakes [https://www.specialk.com/en_US/products/shakes.html] in stores.

special-k-protein-shakes
After a succession of protein-rich food stuffs from the Big Bad Kellogg’s such as Special K Protein and Granola Protein Bars, it’s obvious where their efforts are being channelled right now.

Related: Mars and Snickers Protein Bars Review

But the real question is – are Special K’s protein products any better for us that their notoriously sugary, high-carb cereals and snack bars? If you don’t believe me, take a look through the nutritional info on specialk.com.

Their Blueberry Bliss snack bar, for instance, has a whopping 7g of sugar per bar (8% of your RDA sugar) and only 4% of your RDA protein, thanks to heaps of corn syrup, sugar, fructose, glycerin, mollases and more.

special-k-blueberry-bliss
I think it’s fair to say Kellogg’s Special K weren’t quite meeting the needs of health-conscious gym-friendly consumers with products like this, so a swathe of protein products have suddenly come aboard to fill the gap… and make more money.

Special K Protein Shakes Review

Unfortunately, whilst the range of protein shakes is huge – thirteen flavours in total – none of them are anywhere close to being healthy.

From French Vanilla to Vanilla Cappuccino to Chocolate Mocha, these protein shakes are promoted as a healthy way to ‘shake up your morning’ and really do sound too good to be true. A healthy but tasty dessert-like breakfast I can have on the go that will fill me up for hours?! Wow – sign me up!

And whilst this all sounds great, the proof really is in the breakfasty pudding – because the only boost being you’ll get from these protein shakes is an instant sugar/caffeine high… followed by the ultimate sugar low.

Related: Are protein bars actually good for you?

Irritatingly, half of the range are marketed as ‘breakfast shakes’, which is only going to heighten the obesity epidemic our generation is currently going through.

It’s products like this, packaged nicely and promoted for their convenience, which busy and lazy people alike will think are the answer to their prayers. What happens here, however, is people either end up replacing a wholesome breakfast (which would increase a person’s metabolism), or replace their typical breakfast-less starts for a super sugary shake that’s chock full of empty calories… and which inevitably leads to an 11am rumbling tum and a huge lunch to fill the void.

chocolate-mocha-protein-shake

So let’s take a look at Special K’s Chocolate Mocha Breakfast Shake and see what’s being served up for brekkie.

AHA – These shakes give you the option to trade in your delicious heart-healthy porridge or on-the-go potassium-rich banana for a slurpy calorie-laden shake filled to the brim with sugar, gellan gum, cellulose gum, sucralose, artificial flavours and canola oil.

Sounds tasty, right?

Yeyyyy – oh and that 20% (per bottle) protein content you were hoping would make you feel good is cruelly counteracted by 10% of your RDA carbs and, wait for it, a whopping 20% of your recommended sugar intake for the day.

Drinking a Special K protein shake and considering it healthy is like eating a banana split and telling yourself it’s potassium-rich. Just because elements of the finished meal have a little bit of something doesn’t mean the whole product ends up being so. And these protein shakes, unfortunately, are just like drinking a can of Coke or an energy drink for breakfast – so what’s my advice?

Avoid daft protein shakes and actually eat breakfast – you know, using your teeth and biting down on something – and drink plenty of water during the early hours. You’ll be hydrating yourself PROPERLY and won’t be starving hungry either.

It’s really not that hard, as long as you’re mindful that not everything with the word ‘protein’ in is inherently healthy. Far from it, actually.

Gluten-free Trdelníks (Doughnut Ice Cream Cones) Recipe

I don’t know if everyone will have seen trdelníks in the news (http://metro.co.uk/2016/02/25/these-doughnut-style-ice-cream-cones-are-the-stuff-of-dreams-5717454/) this year, but ever since I saw these beautiful creamy cones, I knew I had to recreate them myself somehow.

If you’re still perplexed by what trdelníks means, it’s basically a wrapped-up doughnut cone with ice-cream thrown in the middle. They’re amazing to look at, but unfortunately I could never get my hands on one as they’re (sadly) not available in the UK, and only in Prague by Good Food Coffee and Bakery.

LOOK AT THEM! *kisses screen*

doughnut ice cream cone recipe

Much like its predecessor, the Cronut, there have been many imitations popping up all over Instagram, but all seem to be equally calorie-laden (as you’d expect) and full of stuff which you just wouldn’t have to hand at home (such as emulsifiers and thickeners – ick!).

cronut

So what’s a doughnut+ice-cream fan to do?

Recreate a faux version with healthy ingredients instead!

Gluten-Free Trdelníks Recipe

Because it’s SO difficult to make a doughnut-style pastry without it being inherently bad for you, I switched out the dough for a puff pastry.

To make sure it wouldn’t bloat me or incur any nasty digestive discomfort, I switched out regular ready-rolled pastry for gluten-free pastry from Silly Yak.

Their stuff not only tastes great but binds together much better in a cone than homemade or commercial gluten-rich puff pastries do. They’re also suitable for vegetarians, so double winner!

Related: Homemade Oatie Ice Cream Cones Recipe

With the pastry, all you have to do is roll it out in a long, thin strip that’s about ½ inch thick.

Give your cone the classic doughnutty look by wrapping it around a cone-shaped mould (you can make one your own using sturdy paper), starting from the bottom and swirling it around until it reaches the top. Make this fairly tight so it remains in place but not so much that you won’t be able to remove the mould in the morning.

homemade doughnut ice cream cones recipe

Make sure you leave the dough on the mould in the fridge overnight. In the morning, remove from the mould and bake for 3 hours on 160c, turning over halfway through. If the cones aren’t looking browned yet, turn up the temp slightly. You want a final pastry cone which is soft but still has bite to it.

Leave to properly cool so that the ice-cream doesn’t melt into it. I pop them in the freezer for about an hour so that they definitely set.

Then all you have to do next is find some healthy ice-cream to finish your masterpiece. For my trdelníks I only use Coppa Della Maga ice-cream, purely because it’s tastes so milky & creamy, yet is made of completely natural ingredients, is low in sugar because sweetener replaces the sugar and there’s no gluten in this either!

I adore the Sesame & Honey flavour because it works so well with the pastry, but I’m sure any of their flavours work just as well! Now take a cheeky pic of your amazing faux trdelník & eat to your heart’s content! Delicious-o.