Monday 12 September 2016

That's What I Call New #13

Here is a selection of things I have been sent to try over the past month or so, which I include in my round up called ‘That’s What I Call New’. Have a look and see what you like the sound of...

Lavazza Prontissimo Instant Coffee

This divided opinion in our house. It is a regular instant coffee, from well known coffee sellers Lavazza,  which comes in medio and intenso varieties. It smells lovely when you open the canisters and dissolves well with the boiling water from your kettle.

I thought both types were pleasant enough instant coffees, but my other half did not like it, nor did some of his work colleagues who tried it saying both didn’t have much flavour.

Available in most supermarkets at around £4.70, which makes 54 cups. Give this a try and see what you think!

Clearspring Japanese Umami Pastes

Umami is the name for the ‘fifth taste’ we humans have. We can taste salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. The best way to describe it, is very savoury. Parmesan cheese is umami and so is Bovril for example. The word umami is a common one in Japan where these pastes hail from.

The umami pastes are great to add to your cooking and come with added flavours built in. I tried both chilli and ginger. I used them in stir frys, stock in homemade soups and also diluted in a mug with some hot water for a simple soup.

These are really, really nice and well worth a try. Around £4.49 from the Clearspring website

Milky Mischief from Monty Bojangles

Monty Bojangles sent me some of their milky and chocolatey chocolate truffles to try. And try I did. These are solid, intense chocolatey mounds which any chocolate lover will be devouring very easily if they get their hands on them. Coated in a dash of cocoa powder, these are good chilled with a hot cuppa. They sort of melt in your mouth when you eat them this way. A great indulgent treat. About £4 for a 200 gram box from Monty's website.

Maple Syrups

We Love Maple sent me 4 different varieties of maple to sample. They come in different grades from extra pale to intense amber. I use them in my porridges and also I used some in an apple crumble you might have seen recently. Maple syrup is a huge favourite of mine and as we are jetting off to Canada in the next few weeks, we will be trying even more hopefully!!

Maple syrup is being touted as a the next big superfood and if it is, then I will have a good head start. It's packed with antioxidants, can boost brain health and is a healthier alternative to sugar, as it is not processed and contains essential minerals.


Now, I know this isn’t food related. But it is blogger-related for those folk who sit at a desk regularly. I was asked if I would like to give a varidesk a try. This is something you pop onto top of your existing desk and allows you to either raise your work area up so you can stand at your desk, or you have the option to lower it so you can sit down again.

A friend of mine has one of these at his work and swears by it. When I was asked if I would like to try one out I jumped at the chance.

It is a solid item, around 30kg and can take two monitors along with your keyboard and mouse (I only have one monitor as you can see above). I used mine in the office for a while. Standing up when I could. As you may know it is recommended that we don’t sit all day and should get up and walk about as much as we can. Being sedentary all day can have adverse health effects on us.

I so wanted to like this and unfortunately it’s not for me. I got a sore neck as I was looking at the monitors at a different angle. Ideally I should have raised my monitors higher so I was looking straight at them and got longer cables in the back of my PC. For tall people, I think this could be a real problem. I am only 5’7” tall and felt it wasn’t ideal.

I also found myself standing with my legs crossed, putting my weight on one side. Again, not great for posture. I tried to stop myself from doing this, but kept reverting to that position. And my feet were really sore standing for long periods. You can buy a mat from the Varidesk website which can alleviate any pressure on your feet and knees.

Perhaps with perseverance, the mat and better shoes this would have alleviated. Other colleagues in my office gave it a try and found that they too experienced similar problems, standing cross legged. One person said she didn’t feel her arms were properly supported and were mid-air a lot of the time.

As much as it is good to be standing more through the day and not sitting, I think the varidesk needs to be used in shorter spells than I was trying. Perhaps it is better suited to people who aren’t in front of computers all day long and can vary the amount of time they are at their desk.

But for me and my working life, and I am gutted to say this, it really wasn’t ideal. But the concept is a good one and is perhaps better suited to different types of office workers.

The Varidesk Pro Plus 36 is available for £335. 

That’s my round up for now. Perhaps you have tried a varidesk, I would love to know what you think of standing at work, at your computer. Also have you tried any of the food and drink above? Let me know your thoughts.

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