Say Goodbye To Boring Protein Bars & Hello To M&S’s Rainbow of a Range of High Protein Meals & Snacks - Including Salami Crisps!

£1.50 Each

£1.50 Each

Okay, so there’s no fooling you guys into thinking I’m a protein-shake-swilling gym goddess, but I have drank that stuff in the past, and that stuff tastes like drinking moths. Worse still is my continued self-delusion that if I buy a protein chocolate bar, it’s not really eating ‘badly’, then tasting the thing and wishing I had just bought a big 100g Dairy Milk and got on with it.

Foods labelled with protein as their selling point are showing up more & more in our supermarkets, with new products, and revamped ‘extra protein’ versions of traditional snacks becoming the norm. But why should we care about ‘getting our protein in’ with our diet, especially if we aren’t gym bunnies- is there any advantage?

£5

£5

Research has shown that protein, rather than fat or carbs, has the ability to keep you feeling fuller longer, and reduce cravings, which can help you regulate your weight. It literally acts as the building block for new muscle, so it can help you increase your strength. Animal protein especially has been proven to help bone density, which can be really beneficial for women during menopause. It’s also been shown to reduce blood pressure, which can help with heart disease, strokes and kidney disease. There are several other medical and scientific reasons upping protein in your diet is a plus, but let’s get into the food, shall we?

My top item to seek out on this Marksies’ trip was their new charcuterie-style, air-dried snacking crisps (top image). You’ll find these curious canapés in the fridges, as they are made from salami, chorizo and Serrano ham. They aren’t fried, are surprisingly low calorie per pack (under 150 cals) and are, of course, high protein. Super for those on low carb diets like Keto, these unusual snacks are very crunchy and packed with flavour.

Plant kitchen nourish bowl £3.50 : Beets protein pot £2

Plant kitchen nourish bowl £3.50 : Beets protein pot £2

Next I took a nosy in the takeaway, sandwich aisle, and found some new products that really wowed me. The new Falafel & Chargrilled Vegetable salad (above) looks like something you would be presented with in a fancy little artisan vegan cafe. The veggie and ‘healthy’ options Marks and Spencer has to choose from are miles away from what, to me at least, used to feel like picking a salad was a ‘boring’ lunch. In fact to me the protein pots look more tempting than the sandwiches! If a sarnie is your thing though, they do have a special new range of protein rich sandwiches too.

Chicken £2 : Prawn £2.20

Chicken £2 : Prawn £2.20

M&S was one of the first places I ever saw mini ‘protein pots’ on sale, a few years ago, with their boiled egg and spinach pot. Their range has expanded now with high protein pots like the Beautiful Beets & Feta Cheese variety, Chargrilled Chicken and Edamame, and Chilli & Coriander King Prawn.

For vegans, the Plant Kitchen range also has nourish bowls to takeaway, like the Edamame & Black Rice Salad (above) which is another rainbow coloured dream.

£5

£5

Another new high protein choice is the Free Range Egg & Avocado Salad. The colourful cabbage makes this one another tempting choice.

Lastly, some handy pots to stock the cupboard with for snacking (below). These quick and easy dinners can be whirled in the microwave, and again there’s a high protein option in the Balanced For You Smokey Pulled Pork option. There’s also a Chilli & Rice bowl, or Bolognese Pasta.

£3 each

£3 each

Vegans have several choices too, the Cauliflower, Coconut & Lentil Dahl pot, as well as Moroccan Lentil Stew a Mixed Bean Chipotle Chilli.

There is also traditional favourites like Shepherd’s Pie with Root Vegetable Mash. All these pots are £3 each and will be great lunch options as we head into autumn. I’m looking forward to all the new foods for that season too!

You can also check out some high protein recipes on the M&S website, if you fancy cooking something yourself from scratch.

Marks & Spencer Little Shop - Miniature Collectable Versions of Their Classic Food Hall Products: And They Are Free! (One With Every £20 Spent)

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M&S Little Shop quite possibly has to be my favourite thing they’ve launched all 2019 so far, and it’s not even edible. My secondary school aged son and I are both older than the intended age bracket for this fantastic educational, fun venture, but both of us got a little carried away when we came across all the Little Shop products in our local M&S a week or so ago.

In fact he bought himself a tiny M&S replica trolley, and I bought myself a miniature shopping basket, as they were £3 each and we both thought they were too cool to pass up. Our local store had the full Little Shop display that day, with the accessories which go along with the blind bags which are given out, one free with every £20 you spend in the Food Hall.

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Little Shop is a fun and educational event for kids (& big kids alike) where you can collect 25 different miniatures of classic Food Hall products. There’s Percy Pig, Cauliflower Popcorn, and the famous favourite Prawn Cocktail Sandwich. Each little miniature comes with a collector’s card with information about the product. For example if it’s fresh produce it could tell you where in the U.K. or Ireland Marks and Spencer sources it.

There is also a dedicated Little Shop corner of the M&S website, with more for kids to learn about sustainability or print out and play games related to the Little Shop theme.

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The 25 products are blind bag items, so you will maybe have doubles, but there have been Swap Shops set up for this very occasion! M&S are having in store Little Shop Swap Meets where you can finally gets your hands on that tin of tuna, or bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice, and they are listed in every region of the country- including Northern Ireland! Full listing here.

The Little Shop world plans to be around until about mid-September, but I did spy on the FAQs section that they say if you have an idea for a product that would make a good miniature version, to let them know… so some how I don’t think this will be the final set of tiny takeaways for my trolley.

In the meantime, I still need the Little Shop loaf, the curry, the pizza……

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Challenge Your Dad This Father’s Day To Take On M&S’s ‘Daddy of All Burgers’. The 1kg Hunk of BBQ Beef That’s So Big, They Had to Bake A Special Bun To Hold It.

Tomato Mix £2.50 : Sauce £1.50 : Steak 3 for £10 Offer (or £5)

Tomato Mix £2.50 : Sauce £1.50 : Steak 3 for £10 Offer (or £5)

 

It’s Father’s Day this Sunday, June 16th 2019, and usually this time of year when we gather at my parents’ house at the weekend, the BBQ is whipped out with the weather being so nice. That’s when it hasn’t been raining for three weeks straight. I don’t know what’s up with our spring this year, but I’m just hoping that once July rolls around surely it’s got to stop.

Halloumi £4.25 : Sauce £1.50 : Burgers 3 for £10 Offer (or £4.50)

Halloumi £4.25 : Sauce £1.50 : Burgers 3 for £10 Offer (or £4.50)

 

 

M&S has so many delicious BBQ products in their the Grill range, which is packed with 3 for £10 mix and match offers, and I’m dying to try them actually barbecued! They invited me to pick up some of their new for 2019 products, which I will be trying this weekend, come rain or shine, with my family. If they aren’t being BBQed by my Dad, everything can be easily cooked on the grill, or in the oven. The halloumi, which I got the pesto variety this time around, I had bought the chilli variety two weeks ago and grilled it myself and it turns out just great.

Daddy of All Burgers £8.50

Daddy of All Burgers £8.50

 

 

Their show-stopping product, which could almost be a Father’s Day present for a real BBQ-loving Dad, is their ‘The Daddy of All Burgers’. It’s a 1kg BBQ beef burger with a creamy cheese sauce in the centre, which is wrapped in bacon. That’s the size of eight quarter pounders. It costs £8.50 and there are special hamburger buns to go with it which cost £1.50. If your Dad has ever wanted to compete in one of those food challenges, now is his chance! Alternatively the whole family could share one, just pick up some sides like M&S’s Deli Coleslaw and a side salad.

The Grill 3 for £10 mix and match offer extends over burgers, steaks, chicken and fish, so you can pick up tastes that will please everyone, and there’s also and offer right now for 2 packs of premium sausages or bacon for £5. It’s a smart time to buy and stock the freezer, as most of these items can be frozen on day of purchase, so if there’s an item you really love, you could get yourself a few for over the summer for future BBQs.

Camembert £1.75 : Peppers £1.80

Camembert £1.75 : Peppers £1.80

In the 3 for £10 offer I chose the new BBQ Beef Sizzle Steaks, they are simple but look absolutely delicious (very top photo). For something a little more exotic I chose the Masala Salmon Burgers with red chilli (second photo down, above). I like trying something a bit different. I’ve had basic fish cakes before, but nothing like this, I’ll be nabbing one of these for myself on Sunday for sure.

Beetroot £1.75 : Pork Belly £3 for £10 (or £4.50)

Beetroot £1.75 : Pork Belly £3 for £10 (or £4.50)

The Pesto Halloumi Kebabs in the same photo above are £4.25 and are separate from the offer. If you haven’t had a cheese kebab before you are missing out. Halloumi is a firm cheese that doesn’t completely melt like cheddar and cheeses we are more used to. So it can be used in cooking and heated up. Just give it a try, it’s a real treat.

Buns £1.50 : Burgers 3 for £10 (or £4)

Buns £1.50 : Burgers 3 for £10 (or £4)

Camembert is another cheese that is traditionally cooked, and the Grill also has one available in a really intriguing sweet chilli variety. This would be a scrumptious snack in the evening to heat over a campfire or mini BBQ grill, and to have with a crusty loaf. It doesn’t need much more with it because it is sure to be bursting with flavour on its own. I will let you know over on Instagram

Back to the 3 for £10 the Grill offer and I picked up Spanish Style Pork Belly. I love these boxed meat joints as they are really good for sharing and they just easily pop in the oven, and they are packed with juicy flavour. This one comes with a roasted pepper sauce on the side. 

I also chose some Blue Cheese and Bacon Jam Burgers. I think these will be my favourites when we cook them on Sunday, I am a big blue cheese fan, especially on a burger. The M&S Brioche buns are a super accompaniment to any BBQ and you can get a pack of four for £1.50 from their bread and bakery department. 

Texan Slammers 3 for £10 (or£4) : Crisps £1 (on Offer)

Texan Slammers 3 for £10 (or£4) : Crisps £1 (on Offer)

 

 

The last two items from the Grill I picked are the Texan Style Slammer sausages, and the Thai Kebabs. The Texan Slammers are cheese stuffed jalapeño peppers which then get wrapped in bacon, which then get wrapped inside a sausage, tasty madness! The Thai Kebabs I chose because they come with a satay sauce, it’s a nut-free blend which means all families can enjoy it, and you can bring it along to all BBQs you may be attending without effecting anyone’s allergies which is handy. 

Kebabs 3 for £10 (or £4) : Crisps £1 (on Offer)

Kebabs 3 for £10 (or £4) : Crisps £1 (on Offer)

The fresh fruit and vegetable section of Marks and Spencer is bursting with lots of happy, in season goodies to accompany all these BBQ mains. I spotted the multicoloured Summer Selection Tomatoes (very top photo), the perfectly crisp Sweet Red Pointed Peppers (fourth main photo), and the Cocktail Sweet Chilli Beetroot (fifth main photo) which are sure to impress BBQ guests. There are also a range of the Grill table sauces to compliment your summer dishes, like the Piri Piri, or House BBQ in this blog, but also Smokey BBQ and Burger Sauce that I featured previously. They can be used as dipping sauces, or marinades. 

The very colourful, funky crisp packets are new in store too and just £1 a pack right now. There are a couple of other flavours but I grabbed the Chicken Katsu Curry, the Habanero Hot Wings and the Asian Pulled Pork. The packaging alone wins me over, I love it, very summery and they will brighten up this Father’s Day BBQ even if the sun doesn’t shine.

If you are looking for some last minute Father’s Day gift inspiration, the Marks and Spencer website has you covered from fashion to food to accessories, and don’t forget a card! 

Bao Buns & Their Best Burger Ever- M&S Food Hall Gears Up For Summer 2019, Let’s Check It Out!

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We had a few sunny days about a fortnight ago where many a dad around the country could be seen sneaking into the shed, and the squeaking wheels of BBQs could be heard being tested out to see if they were fit for the season, or if a brand new MAX GRILL DELUXE could be on the books for summer 2019.

But this week, and this morning especially, it’s fair to say that spring is definitely here to stay and there will be a few bbqs fired up for the first time this evening.

The change in the weather means a selection of the summer food has arrived in Marks & Spencer, including their Best Ever Burger, which is included in the 3 for £10 meat offer across sausages, burgers and various cuts of meats. Last summer M&S sold 4 million of these burgers!

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I picked up the new version of the Best Ever Burger which includes a cheesy melt. It’s a mix of moreish cheese, gherkin, tomato sauce and mustard. Sounds delicious. I will be trying everything from this blog post this week, so keep up to date on my Instagram to find out what I think.

I also spied The Grill Special Burger Sauce, which is only £1.50 and is an excellent Big Mac sauce alternative. The bread and bakery department has a wealth of delights when it comes to baps for your sausages and burgers. From the ordinary floury or sesame seed variety, to brioche buns and these flavoursome Fried Onion Burger ones which are £1.50 for four.

Another new product I’m really excited about, because I’ve tried them at Yo Sushi before and adored them, is the M&S Bao Buns (up top).  Now I can make them at home! It’s £2 for a pack of six buns, and you can then pack them with whatever meat and fillings you desire.

I picked up the Slow Cooked Mexican Pork Shoulder for £6, which would shred down really well and be a fab filling for the bao. With spring onions and a little spicy mayo it’ll be yummy! Watch out for my results on Instagram, most likely on Sunday. The bao buns are vegan and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, so get creative.

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When I was grabbing the Burgers I couldn’t help but notice another new product that tempted me, and even better was part of the 3 for £10 offer- doughless pizzas! My Bangor Marks and Spencer had both Margherita and the Spicy Pepperoni versions of the Meat’zza, and I’m very keen to try them out. Toppings are the best part of the pizza and now you can literally just get a whole pizza that’s just topping. Marks and Sparks, making dreams come true.

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They’ve also a selection of fresh salads in with nice mixes of vegetables which are more refreshing than your usual tomato and lettuce staple summer bbq salad. These make really super sides for bbqs along with their coleslaws and potato salads, and if you didn’t see my blog post earlier this year, M&S now have completely vegan versions of coleslaw and potato salad, so now you can have something for everyone in your extended family. 

The summer salads I chose to try were Chargrilled Courgette & Green Bean, because I grow courgettes so it was a must buy, Asparagus, Pea and Potato, and Roasted Aubergine & Sweet Potato. These salads are £3 each and there are many more to choose from. They also come with a little drizzle pot.

Also worth noting that apart from the salads, everything in this blog post is freezable, including the bao buns and burger buns. Very much looking forward to firing up the bbq on Sunday and trying everything out with my family. Hoping the weather holds until then. Remember to check my Instagram for my taste tests!

 

I Tried The New M&S Sushi Sandwich - Does It Sink or Swim?

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Supermarket sushi. Any connoisseur of proper traditional sushi, or even a fan of the Westernised take on the raw fish & sticky rice cuisine that you’d find in Yo Sushi, if you’ve ever grabbed a tiny tray of takeaway sushi from any of the big supermarket chains, it’s somewhat lacking.

Sushi is one of those foodstuffs that is best consumed freshly made. The elements of rice and fish are not simple to preserve over a matter of hours, never mind days, to get to a supermarket fridge and wait there to be bought. That’s why I have the theory to explain why most mass produced sushi ends up being so plain & tasteless. The very ingredients that make sushi’s flavours & textures so unique are stripped away in favour of a longer lasting product, to the detrimental outcome that, well, its inedible.

However there is one place where you can get takeaway sushi with your shopping, and it actually comes closer to the real deal, Marks & Spencer

Their sushi a few years ago was comparable to the other supermakets in the variety of rolls they were offering, but over time their chefs and food creation team must have put their attention on this little corner of the ‘sandwich fridge’, because the M&S range has been bolder with flavours and the reward is delicious.

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That brings us to the brand new 2019 launch of Sushi Sandwiches, a High-Street first for M&S. The sandwich-shaped sushi is known as ‘Onigirazu’ in Japan, originally designed for kids for ease of eating, but perfect for on-the-go lunches for adults too.

Right now there are two choices of this lunching phenomenon, Soy & Ginger Chicken, and Bacon & Avocado. There is no bread involved, the sandwich part is made from sticky rice held together with seaweed, as is traditional for rolls. A handier way to eat sushi on the go, without chopsticks or pieces falling out of your roll. You also get a dipping sauce. I tried the Soy & Ginger Chicken sandwich and loved it. The team in the M&S kitchen have made sure this can’t be classed as dull supermarket sushi by infusing flavour-packed ingredients and adding that typically missing ‘crunch’ with shredded beetroot.

The second launch comprises of two fancy new Dragon Rolls, Katsu Chicken or Firecracker Prawn. Each are packed with flavour, drizzled with either curry mayo or spicy mayo, and topped with onions and chives. These really impressed me, and came closest to my favourite Yo Sushi choices. In fact after trying the rolls for this blog, I’ve been back since at the weekend to buy them again. The spicy mayo on the Firecracker Prawn Dragon Roll is especially tasty.

The new sushi selections cost £4 each, and if your local M&S doesn’t stock sushi, you can always place an order of one of their sushi platters online to be delivered to your store.  There is a 38 piece platter on offer for £18 right now.

A Most Marvellous Mother’s Day at M&S -plus Free Delivery For Mum’s Bouquet

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Mummies love a good trip to M&S, don’t they? So Marks and Sparks is a safe bet for a Mother’s Day present.

That could mean your main gift, like a gorgeous, sumptuous bouquet of Mother’s Day flowers, where M&S has a whole curated range to choose from, with some including a free box of Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles, and every bouquet promising free UK delivery.

Or, you might be taking Mum out for a family dinner on the 31st, and want a pretty gift to present her with as an extra ‘thank you’. 

M&S has gifts in each of their departments, clothing, beauty, homeware, and the Food Hall, and a whole online Mother’s Day Gift Guide if you want to browse for some inspiration before you step inside your local branch. 

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I visited Bangor’s Marks & Spencer to see what the Food Hall had to choose from. Gifts started from £3 for dinky and surely divine boxes of Sea Salt Caramels. An ideal choice for a little one for their Mummy.

The range of boxes of chocolates are at various price points, with something for those with pocket-money budgets, like the funky ‘Just To Say’ box which is only £5 (see image below).

Some of this selection’s sweets have striking geometric graphic designs and patterns decorating them, with other pieces being metallic dusted globes. The flavours are equally intriguing. We have a Clementine & Pomegranate Caramel and a Speculoos Biscuit Truffle amongst the offerings. Very cool for only £5, and you can choose a gift card which slides into the top of the box displaying a message for your Mum.

There are also some of the more traditional boxes like Peppermint Creams, and my personal favourites a box of Violet & Rose Creams which is £4. You can also pick from a choice of classic Belgian Chocolate Truffles. Or you can spoil your Mum rotten with one of the larger selections which is £10. I also spied the exotic Marzipan Spring Fruits, which are £4.

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Another one of my personal picks would be the £8 box of Mini Cupcake Chocolates (top photo). This dainty little selection with the cute pink bow has flavours including Mocha, Hazelnut Praline and Strawberries & Cream. 

They go very nicely with the real Mini Rose Cupcakes (very first photo, on the pink plate), which are £4 for a box of nine. Perfect for sharing after Sunday Lunch on Mother’s Day if you are all gathering together at home. Also the quintessential cupcake for putting together your very own ‘Fancy Afternoon Tea’ for your Mummy, you know with little sandwiches and cute mini-desserts exactly like these cupcakes, which have a glittery sheen to them which makes them even more special.

Lastly from my own M&S picks for Mother’s Day, I spotted these unusual biscuit tins (top image). They are tall, upright biscuit tins, something I’ve never come across before, not a strict Mother’s Day line in-store, but if you’ve got a waste-not-want-not Mum who would be doubly pleased with the Belgian Milk Chocolate Vanilla Cream Biscuits, and the handy tin for storing pasta, knitting needles, coffee machine pods, bits & bobs in afterwards- this could be your gift inspiration. The tins are only £3 and come in the deep purple/pink colour in my photograph, and also green or orange.

Don’t forget your Mother’s Day card! M&S has you covered for that too.  

Non-Vegans Are QUAKING! Dirty Fries, Cashew Mac, No Chic’n Nuggets - M&S New Plant Kitchen Range

£3.50

£3.50

I reviewed some of M&S’s vegan range two years ago, burgers and sausages, which are two of the staple foods that vegetarians and vegans get ‘recreated’ in non-meat form first. Even two years ago Marksies were ahead of the game and didn’t just have the usual reformed burger, mystery non-meat veggie burger.

They had beet burgers and crazy green sausages, and like the rest of my taste in life, I also love novelty in food, so I was more than happy to try those out. Their range back then was great and we had them around BBQ season and loved it so much I bought their vegan, golden orange, sweet potato sausages for many BBQs to come.

 

 

£3

£3

The vegan range expanded slowly but surely since 2017 as more and more families adopted vegetarian and vegan tastes, whether it be by moral stance, or by dietary needs (approx 20%). Someone in my close family has a dairy allergy, so I often look for vegan desserts as they are the superior option to find something that hasn’t scrimped on taste quality because they automatically start from a point of not using any dairy, rather than trying to just exclude it.

 

So here we are at the beginning of 2019, and some people may want to give veganism a go for health reasons, or for the environment.

 

Fries £3 : Mac £3 : Nuggets £2.50

Fries £3 : Mac £3 : Nuggets £2.50

M&S launched their Plant Kitchen range on 2nd January, with over 60 different products, which you’ll find easily within your local store thanks to the distinctive teal packaging. There are what they call ‘dirty vegan’ comfort food, like the Cauliflower Popcorn with Buffalo Dip & Cashew Mac, and two amazing looking, artisan, sourdough pizzas.

There are healthy versions of ‘ready meals’, using fresh vegetables, not frozen, like the Thai Green Curry, or the Katsu Curry. There are even non-chicken Chic’n Nuggets- we are living in the future, people! 

£3.50

£3.50

 

 

Everything in the Plant Kitchen range is meat-free and dairy-free, entirely vegan, and made from plant proteins. There are also basic ingredients like Tofu, and Grain Packs like Non-meat Meatballs, Non-meat Mince etc, for you to make your own recipes. 

Those tasty burgers and sausages from the original vegan ranges are still around too, and I imagine when BBQ season swings by the range will be expanded even further. In store now, but ideal for picnic times ahead are the vegan Coleslaw and Potato Salad, both priced at £1.50 which I believe is the same price as the regular Deli Coleslaw.

£3.50 : £1.50

£3.50 : £1.50

The newest foodie word on the street being ‘flexitarian’, someone who occasionally eats meat. I heard it last week for the first time, but it’s been around for quite some time, being voted the year’s most useful word by the American Dialect Society in 2003. I always thought giving up meat completely would be impossible, but with ranges like Plant Kitchen, and thinking how it could expand in the future, I could see a time when I could be a No Chic’N Nuggets girl. What do you think?

Take a closer look at the Plant Kitchen range on the Marks & Spencer website.