Chocolate! – VeganMoFo Day 18

Hands up if you like chocolate? Yep? I bet I’m seeing everyone’s hands raised (except my mum’s, but that’s ok because we’ll eat her chocolate instead). Everyone knows I am a huge chocolate fan. I mean, this is my second chocolate post in a row (have you checked out my chocolate truffles yet?). As a kid, people would say they knew my dad and I were related, because we both were such chocolate addicts…and nothing has changed since!

Chocolate is an odd one, being vegan. You hear “…wait, you can eat chocolate?” a lot. Or people who refuse to even try vegan chocolate, thinking it tastes gross. And, OK, there are some vegan chocolates that I’m not a fan of…but I know there are some non-vegan chocolates that also aren’t that tasty. We live in a day and age where veganism is booming, and this means that there are more vegan chocolate options available than ever! I’ve attempted to put together a little guide featuring my favourite chocolates, both cheap and not-so-cheap. Note – I am in the UK and so the chocolate featured in this guide will reflect that. You might be able to get it in a different country, but please check the ingredients first as sometimes sneaky companies change the ingredients for different markets!

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Let’s start with the basics – plain vegan chocolate. This is the one I use most of all. It’s Lidl’s own brand – “Fin Carré” – and sells for 30p per 100g bar, which is a really good deal! It tastes lovely too. I use it mostly for baking with – if you see a recipe on here that has chocolate as an ingredient, chances are it’s this one I use. Sainsbury’s also has a similar bar in their “basics” range that sells for 50p/100g, and Morrisons has one for a similar price too.

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My ultimate favourite chocolate bar is Cadbury’s Bournville. I don’t think I’d ever tried it before I was vegan, because I assumed it being dark chocolate meant I wouldn’t like it – but it’s actually quite low cocoa percentage (35%) which means it’s sweeter and not so bitter. It also has that classic “cadbury” flavour to it! You can buy this in most supermarkets. Sometimes you can buy miniature bars of Bournville, but I often have trouble finding those.

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The final “plain chocolate” I’m featuring is this “Smooth” dark chocolate from Poundland of all places. I never expected to find vegan chocolate there, but here you have it. It won’t win any gourmet chocolate awards, but for £1 for a large bar, it’s tasty and good!

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Now let’s take a look at vegan milk chocolate alternatives. One of the best out there is the Moo Free brand of chocolate, which actually has several different flavours (we’ll come back to that later) but does a lovely creamy milk chocolate bar. You can buy this in some supermarkets, Holland & Barrett, and many other “health food” or vegan stores.

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This photo is not the best, I’m afraid (it’s so awkward taking photos in supermarkets!) but many supermarkets have come out with their own range of dairy free milk chocolate now! Pictured above is Tesco’s range, including milk and white chocolate bars, and milk and white chocolate buttons. You can buy milk chocolate bars at Asda and Sainsbury’s too!

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That leads us nicely onto our next topic of white chocolate! As mentioned above, Tesco do small white chocolate bars and buttons, and now Sainsbury’s do large white chocolate bars! They’re actually very nice, and only £1 per bar, which is cheap for vegan white chocolate.

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This one is possibly the best vegan white chocolate out there. It’s rich, has a strong vanilla taste, and really, just tastes pretty luxurious. It’s not the cheapest out there, but if you’re wanting some special white chocolate, I’d go for this one. You can often find it in vegan and health food shops, and you can buy it online too.

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Finally on the white chocolate front, we have “Organica” white chocolate. This might be familiar if you’ve been vegan a while – it was one of the first vegan white chocolates I tried! It’s sweet and creamy – just what you want in a white chocolate. This can be bought in most of the same places as the above iChoc bar – health food shops, and online.

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Let’s move onto flavoured chocolate! The picture above is not very good I know, of course I had to put my thumb over the brand… (I told you I am not good at taking photos in supermarkets!) but it is Moo Free chocolate once again! They do many flavours including orange, bunnycomb (which has bits like a non-vegan crunchie bar), hazelnut, banana, and fruit and nut. These two mini bars are sold in Morrison’s, but you can find them in the same places as other Moo Free bars (as above).

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This is another familiar brand – iChoc again! I think this is my husband’s favourite bar. It’s chocolate cookie flavoured – the cookies being kind of like oreos. The chocolate is milk chocolate flavoured (it’s made with rice milk) and it has lovely little crunchy bits of cookies in! You can buy this in health food, vegan shops, and online.  iChoc also do a range of other flavoured bars, including white nougat, almond orange, and super nut flavours.

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The Vego bar has taken the vegan world by storm in the last few years. It’s been touted as the best vegan chocolate bar out there by many, and I’ve seen people say it’s a great alternative to milk chocolate. Well, I disagree that it tastes like milk chocolate, but it’s certainly very tasty. Did you ever have nutella before you were vegan? It tastes like that, only in chocolate bar form. It’s delicious! These are now sold at Holland and Barrett.

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thanks to veganoo.net for the image

Go Max Go bars are the go to vegan snack bars. They make imitations of many popular non-vegan bars, such as bounty, snickers, mars bars, and reeses cups. They are not cheap, unfortunately, but they are certainly very tasty. Check out veganoo’s review to see what they look like inside! These are sold in vegan shops, and online too.

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Fry’s Chocolate Cream bars are a lovely cheap vegan chocolate option! You’ll notice this is the only mint chocolate I have in this guide, I’m sorry, I just really don’t like mint chocolate so it’s not something I try! But the box was next to the regular Fry’s so I thought I’d include it in my photo. These are dark chocolate bars with a creamy fondant filling – imagine the inside of a creme egg. They’re often sold in newsagents in single bars, or in multipacks in supermarkets and budget shops (this photo was taken in B&M Bargains).

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Raspberry Ruffles are also vegan, and another great budget option! These are kind of like raspberry flavoured bounty bars. They have a coconut raspberry filling and a chocolate coating. You can buy them in bars, as pictured, and also in little bags of mini chocolates too. Once again, these are often sold in budget stores, and some supermarkets too.

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I didn’t know whether to include these or not, because they’re not exactly chocolate bars, but they’re chocolatey and I think they’re tasty so there you go. They’re “rice cake bars” covered in orange chocolate, which doesn’t necessarily sound the best, but they are actually really good and would work wonderfully as a quick snack. You can buy them from Aldi for less than £1!

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Now, I’ll talk about chocolate boxes and gifts. The first one, which is pretty widely available, is Choices Caramels. These are little caramel flavoured truffle type things that come in a box. You can buy them in the Free From aisle of many supermarkets, and Tesco themselves have their own branded version of them!

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Chocolate cremes are often vegan! They’re sold more often around Christmas time (if you can call October Christmas…) – Beech’s are the main official brand, but this year Aldi are doing their own version. Whittakers do lovely coffee cremes, and mint ones too (if you like). We even found vegan fruit cremes in the Lake District!

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These rum truffles are a cheap and cheerful gift! I found these in B&M Bargains but they’re also sold in The Range too. They’re flavoured with rum extract and coated in little chocolate sprinkles. They’re pretty small inside, but there are lots of them, and it’s only a pound for a box.

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From cheaper options to very expensive ones – Booja Booja are the luxury  brand in vegan chocolates! They have many, many flavours – check them out here and see them all! These are often sold in vegan shops, health food shops, and sometimes Holland & Barrett. These are really a bit too expensive for me, but they are still nice!

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Onto miscellaneous chocolate items! Chocolate is not all about bars! My favourite chocolate milk here is Oatly chocolate milk. The Oatly brand is really lovely and all vegan, and the chocolate milk is extremely creamy and has a wonderful chocolate taste. Have it cold or heated up and you’ll love it! Sold in most supermarket.

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How about some ice cream? Swedish Glace are a famous ice cream brand – their vanilla ice cream is the most widely sold vegan ice cream in the UK –  and they now have chocolate! It’s a little more difficult to find – I’ve had most luck in Sainsbury’s – but it’s still lovely.

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Hot chocolate, anyone? Yes, Cadbury’s drinking chocolate is vegan! Make sure you get the “drinking chocolate” – the one you add hot milk to – rather than the “instant chocolate” as the latter isn’t vegan. This is sold pretty much everywhere and is lovely. You can even buy vegan marshmallows to have it with!

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And finally, some chocolate spread! There are a few varieties of vegan chocolate spread out there actually, including a lovely Plamil version which you can buy from Holland & Barrett, and some chocolate and hazelnut versions which you can buy in supermarket free from sections. Morrisons also do a dark chocolate spread which is vegan too!

 

So there you have it, my huge round up of vegan chocolate. I’m sure I have missed out quite a lot, but I hope I’ve given you enough to go along with. What’s your favourite vegan chocolate? Are there any you can get where you are that I’m missing out on? Make me jealous!

 

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Filthy Rich Vegan Muffins Review! – VeganMoFo Day 13

Today’s VeganMoFo prompt asks us how we would sell our food. I, being the exceptionally lazy person I am, decided not to bother with my own food, and found someone else who sells food to talk about. To my endless happiness they even let me eat their food so I could review it! How great is that? So here you have it, introducing the latest vegan business about to take the East Midlands by storm, Filthy Rich!

review2Filthy Rich, who you can find on Instagram and Facebook, are a company who specialise in vegan muffins of all sorts of amazing flavours – including “Candy Shop”, “Death By Chocolate”, “Lemon Popsicle” and so many, many more.

I got a chance to catch up with founder Chrissie and quiz her about Filthy Rich and veganism in general, before tucking into the muffins pictured above!

E: Why “Filthy Rich”? Where did that name come from?

C: I wanted to create an unapologetic vegan brand that’s strong and memorable. And I always wanted the muffins to be really indulgent and sinful (in terms of calories!), so the name seemed perfect. I think it represents the product quite well.

E: What made you want to open a vegan muffin business?

C: I have been on a gradual transition from vegetarian to being a vegan over the last four years and eliminating dairy from my diet has meant it’s more difficult to find indulgent things to eat. I guess I wanted to be part of what’s a really positive movement and do something proactive, most of all giving vegans great sweet food that they can spoil themselves with!

E: How do you come up with all the flavour ideas you have?

C: I am quite creative by nature so I find it fairly easy to come up with interesting flavour combinations. I consider the flavours that I would like but also try to adapt popular cake classics so there’s something for everyone. They all must have a fun twist though, even if it’s just in the name!

E:  What’s your own favourite flavour? 

C: I think Death By Chocolate. I get a bit sick of trying them myself day in and day out, but this one still tempts me! It’s just so rich and chocolatey with a nice depth of flavour.

E: What would your advice be to anyone looking into veganism?  

C: Adopt a positive view of what you can still eat instead of what you can’t! There is always more choice than you think. Also don’t assume you need to shop at wholefoods or health shops. The supermarket free-from ranges are growing rapidly and it’s important we maintain a continued demand there, as that’s how veganism will become mainstream.

And I agree entirely! Veganism is a lot easier than most people imagine – especially when you can eat food like this! So without further ado, lets get on to the bit you’re all waiting for, the muffins!

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I started with the muffin I was most looking forward to – “Candy Shop“, described as “Strawberry muffin with a strawberry centre finished with candyfloss buttercream, gummy bears, cola bottles & sour cherries”  – sounds absolutely perfect for a sweet addict like me! And it did not disappoint, not at all. The great thing about muffins is that they’re not as sweet as cupcakes – this flavour might have been a little sickly if the cake was super sweet too, but as it was, it was perfectly balanced. The candyfloss icecream was absolutely delicious!

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Next is the “One Of Your Five A Day” which I jumped at the chance to review. It’s described as “Carrot & walnut spiced muffin with vanilla buttercream, caramelised carrot and toasted walnuts”. Now, I really like carrot cake, walnuts, and so forth. I just happen to live in a household where I’m the only one who does like nuts and veg in cake – so I don’t get to have it often. So, when I got to try this flavour, I was so pleased. The muffin itself is perfectly spiced and feels like it should be accompanied with a hot mulled cider and a snowy winter landscape (if only we got that here…) and the creamy icing complements it in a wonderful way.

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Finally we have Death By Chocolate! It’s saying something about these muffins that the chocolate one is the last one I come to – I’m practically made of chocolate myself! Death by Chocolate is “Triple chocolate chip muffin with dark chocolate buttercream & finished with shards of milk, white & dark chocolate“. I’m of the opinion that you can never have too much chocolate, right? This muffin agrees with me, and gives you the best chocolate fix you could ask for!

Veganism is on the rise in the UK, and with companies like Filthy Rich providing great vegan food it’s sure to keep rising. Anyone, vegan or not (me included!) would be happy if you bought them a box of these muffins for their birthday, or any other occasion.

If you’d like to order a box of muffins from Filthy Rich, shoot them a message on Instagram or Facebook, or send them an email! You won’t regret it, I promise 🙂

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How to Shop Vegan in the UK – VeganMoFo Day 11

It can be a little confusing when you first try to shop vegan. What can you buy? What can’t you buy? Do you have to buy everything from the free from aisle? Isn’t it expensive?

I’ve been shopping vegan for quite a long time now, and over the years have learnt a lot about where to find great vegan food and get the most for your money. For this post, I’ll take you through the day, giving you advice on what you can buy and eat!

Breakfast

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Ah, breakfast. The most important meal of the day. Or is it? Well, there’s no real consensus on this, and to be honest I’m not a huge breakfast person – or a morning person at all, really! But I have a husband who is, and besides, you can eat breakfast food at other parts of the day, right?

The one major breakfast problem is cereal. A lot of cereals are artificially fortified with vitamins, specifically Vitamin D – which often (but not always) is animal derived, coming from lanolin, which is an oil found in sheep’s wool. So when you look at some of the major cereal brands, even some supermarket brands, and see the ingredient “vitamin D” – it’s not likely to be vegan. Can vitamin D be vegan? Yes. Usually if it is, it’ll specify – or it’ll be marked as “Vitamin D2” which is a non animal derived version.

There’s a huge list of vegan cereals here on the Vegan Womble, a great website for finding new vegan food! My personal advice would be to shop at “budget” supermarkets such as Lidl or Aldi, who don’t fortify their cereals. That way if you find a cereal that doesn’t contain milk, eggs, or honey, it’ll be vegan – and they have a really big selection, from cornflakes and rice crispies (which I used in my Rocky Roads) to granola, cookie crisp cereal, and much more!

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For milk to have with your cereal, you have so much choice these days! The cheapest option is usually soya milk, which you can buy the supermarket own brand of, in sweetened or unsweetened variety. Remember though, if you want to use the milk for cooking (such as in pasta), you want to use unsweetened! If you don’t like the taste of soya milk, try something different! Almond milk and Oat milk are popular, as are coconut milk and many other types of dairy-free milk. You can even get vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavours now. Try to look for offers such as in the photo above – 2 for £2 – this will save you money.

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If you’re not a cereal fan then there are plenty of other choices! Toast – most bread is vegan, just skim the ingredients for milk, egg, or honey. Some brands, like Kingsmill, say “suitable for vegetarians and vegans” on the back, which is great! Jam is also in general vegan, as is peanut butter – so a PBJ toast would be a nice breakfast. Morrisons have a vegan chocolate spread which I will say is absolutely lovely. And finally, Jus-Rol croissants, pain-au-chocolat, and cinnamon rolls are vegan and make for a decadent, tasty breakfast!

Lunch

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Lunch is not too difficult, I find. You can even buy vegan sandwiches in several supermarkets now! But if you’d like to make your own, remember as I said above, most bread is vegan. For spread, the two main brands are Pure and Vitalite – I tend to buy whichever is on offer at the supermarket. Don’t be fooled by supermarket “sunflower spread” or “olive spread” – unless it specifically says “dairy free”, it usually has milk in. The Vegan Society has a huge list of sandwich filling ideas, too!

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There are also a lot of vegan crisps out there – including some you’d not expect, like many “bacon rasher” crisps, which don’t actually contain bacon at all. Beware of Walkers crisps meaty varieties because they recently started putting actual meat in them – but many other of theirs are vegan.

If you’re more of a dinner-for-lunch person, or a leftovers person, hang on till the next section where you’ll discover some dinner ideas!

Dinner

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If you’re stuck for what to have for dinner, have you not been reading this blog?! Ha, but seriously, there are loads of vegan recipes out there and a lot of them are actually quite simple! I try to keep mine easy, at least (partly because I am a little lazy myself). If you don’t fancy cooking much yourself, there’s still a lot you can buy. Pesto – in the free from aisle of supermarkets, not the regular aisles (pesto often has cheese in). Tesco now has their own brand vegan pesto which is cheaper than branded stuff! Stir this through pasta for a quick and easy meal. Linda McCartney do a huge range of vegan products, from “chicken” and “duck” to burgers, sausages, and pies. These are excellent to serve with some vegetables. Quorn also now have a vegan range, look for the green “Vegan” corner on their packets to see what you can have! And finally – many supermarkets now have vegan cheese. Tesco and Sainsbury’s even have their own make! This is great for serving with jacket potato, grating on top of pasta, or just having in a toastie.

Snacks

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Ah, my speciality. Stay tuned for a post solely on chocolate later in the month, but today we’ll talk about snacks. I’ve already mentioned crisps earlier in the post, so this’ll focus on sweet things.

Sweets themselves often have gelatine in, which is made from animal bones and is gross. So, you need to look for vegetarian/vegan versions. Thankfully, this is much easier than it used to be! Skittles and Starbursts (formerly Opal Fruits) are both now vegan! You can also buy “fruit jellies” in most supermarkets and sweet shops, including places like Wilko’s, and Marks & Spencer actually have a large range of vegan sweets.

For chocolatey snacks, Raspberry Ruffles are one of the most popular and cheapest – think a Bounty Bar only raspberry flavoured. You can buy them in bars or in little wrapped chocolate packets. Choices Caramel chocolates are a great gift – they’re little chocolate truffles that taste of caramel, and are really nice. Tesco now do their own version of them. Talking of Tesco, they also have chocolate buttons and bars in their Free From section that are vegan – including white chocolate! Many supermarkets will have fairly cheap vegan chocolate in their free from section too.

 

I hope this helps a little bit with shopping vegan – and if you need any more advice, please talk to me and I will be glad to help! Also, check out The Vegan Womble website for many supermarket “vegan lists”, and also the @accidentallyveganuk instagram page, for treats that are vegan in the supermarkets.

 

 

VeganMoFo Day 3 – The Magic of Seitan

“But where do you get your protein?” you cry, and then you hear the collective sound of thousands of vegans rolling their eyes.

Okay, maybe not quite, but it’s a very common question. People have it drilled into them that meat=protein, and so if you don’t eat meat, you will lose all your muscles and wither away. Which isn’t actually true, you know. There are many, many vegan protein sources -more than you imagine! For instance – your regular green peas, a common side dish, have 8g in just one serving. This post, however, is going to be about one of the best vegan protein sources – Seitan.

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Tomato & Basil Seitan Sausages

Seitan. Perhaps awkwardly named for the anglophone, the food itself has been around in China for fifteen hundred years, and the name has its origins in Japanese. It’s made from vital wheat gluten – which is basically wheat flour with all the starches removed, leaving just the protein behind. You can buy it ready made in health food shops, or make it yourself – the flour is sold on amazon or in a lot of vegan shops too. It’s very high in protein – with 75g protein per 100g of flour – and excellent for vegans or non-vegans alike!

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Best Ever Burgers

I’ve got many recipes on my blog that use vital wheat gluten – and around the internet are even more! Isa’s chickpea cutlets are an essential vegan meal – quick, delicious, and easy to make (I like them baked over fried). This vegan “bacon” recipe is made from seitan and is so very good. Here is a great basic seitan recipe, too. And back to Isa – this chicken style seitan works great in everything from pasta to sandwiches to curries!

 

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Pizza Sausages

Overall, seitan is a great source of protein for vegans. If you’ve got any questions about it, feel free to ask and I’ll try to help you get started in the world of seitan!

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Seitan Wellington

 

Take the VeganMoFo 2016 Survey!

Hi everyone!

It’s been a few days since VeganMoFo 2016 ended…who misses it? It seems strange not to be writing daily blog posts or reading the multitude of posts on other people’s blogs, twitters, instagrams…

However, I know I’ve found a lot of new people to follow and I’m sure I’ll be finding lots more great food throughout the year thanks to that.

 

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Take the VeganMoFo 2016 Survey

 

Over at the VeganMoFo headquarters we’re very interested to know what everyone thought to this year’s VeganMoFo and what you think about the future of VeganMoFo. Whether you were a participant or just a spectator – or a mixture of both – everyone is invited to take the VeganMoFo 2016 survey (it’s just ten short questions!) and if you take part, you will be entered into a draw to win a vegan cookbook of your choice – it’s an international friendly so everyone can enter. So, please head over to the VeganMoFo website where you can take the survey, help make VeganMoFo even better for future years, and potentially win yourself a cookbook!

The VeganMoFo website also has some great round-ups of posts by people this month so check those out too – you might find some recipes you want to try (I have a ton bookmarked!).

I’m hoping I’ll be back with more recipes to share soon, although posting twenty-seven recipes in one month depleted my resources a little, but I’m always cooking and love to share that with you!

See you soon,

Emma

 

 

Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen – VeganMoFo Day 26

Today for VeganMoFo we’re writing about our favourite cookbooks. Last year, I wrote about the Vegan Taste Of… series of cookbooks, but it was a tough choice between that and Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. So this year I will write about Vegan Richa and her wonderful cookbook.

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I got this book about a year and a half ago, but I’d been following the Vegan Richa blog for a lot longer. Let me tell you, I have never had a dud recipe from Richa. This is astounding as I’ve cooked a lot of her recipes and you’d expect at least one or two to not be to my taste. But no – even ones I wasn’t so sure about  from the name (like Mango Curry Tofu) were absolutely delicious. What follows are some of my photos of food I’ve made from the Vegan Richa book/blog.

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Above is the “Seitan Makhani” from her book. This is essentially a vegan version of “Butter Chicken” and oh it’s so delicious. You can buy seitan or make your own – check out Isa’s recipe for a great one – and the dish is made beautifully creamy with cashews and non-dairy milk and lots of spices.

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This, whilst perhaps not the best photo, is the “Chicken-Free Balti” which I used tofu for. It has vegetables, tomatoes, all in a simmered sauce that cooks down to be thick and beautiful.

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Finally – again, sorry for the poor quality picture – this is African Peanut Lentil Soup. This isn’t actually from the book, but rather from Vegan Richa’s blog. You can find the recipe here! Give it a go – it’s so delicious.

Not only is the book packed full with great recipes, but it’s a wonderful introduction to Indian cooking. If you’re already familiar with Indian cooking – don’t worry, it’s still got plenty for you – but it has in depth guides to spices, lentils, different ingredients that you may need to make Indian food. Including very helpful ingredients lists split into “Must have” “Good to have” and “Nice to have” ingredients – showing you which are essentials to buy, and which aren’t so much. This is great for those of us on a budget too.

Many of Vegan Richa’s recipes are on her blog – but the book comes with many many more that aren’t. It’s well worth buying – at just £11.99 on Amazon it is amazing value for money.

VeganMoFo Day 22 – Food Flops

Today’s prompt is “Silly Food” and while I couldn’t really think of anything silly that I eat, I thought I’d show a different side to being a food blogger. Now, I certainly don’t claim to be the best blogger – nowhere near – and my photos aren’t professionally done, but I can just about make my food look good. Sometimes though, that can make it seem like it’s effortless getting great looking food. Look on instagram at all the beautiful meals everyone eats…and then look down at your plate, and wonder what happened?

Well, it’s not true. My food doesn’t look any better than anyone else’s – I just take lots of photos and learn to arrange my food in pretty ways! I don’t go to the extremes that some do – I know of food bloggers who will photograph their dinners cold, so as to avoid steam, but who has time for that?

For today’s “silly food” prompt, I thought I’d share with you some of my less pretty food photography, my food mishaps, examples to demonstrate just how silly food photos can be!

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Let’s start with one I call “How on earth do they do this?!”. This is from when I made Millionaire’s Shortbread and I was beating the fudge topping after cooking. I thought I’d take a photo to show how it is done. I forgot I only have two hands. At this point, the fudge was thick, the saucepan was sliding all over the counter, and I was also trying to take a photo with my camera. Beautiful, right?

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Here we have “Forgetting about the Blinds”. I could claim the stripes in this photo are trendy, some new light source thing, but really, it’s because I have slatted blinds in my kitchen and I forgot to pull them up before taking the photo. This is from my Banana Muffins, which were tasty and not actually stripey.

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Here is a gross looking one for you. This is my Gooey Cheese Sauce in the making and doesn’t it look delicious? Ok, no it doesnt’. It looks gross. But actually, it’s one of my favourite cheesey sauce recipes, and when I was writing it up for the blog I tried to do a step by step. That didn’t work because it just looked icky in the making. That there is tofu, nooch, garlic, and broth, which gets blended and turns out much nicer.

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Here is one called “I hate this bowl”. This is my Borlotti Bean Soup which is so easy and so tasty. I was given these cute bowls that say “soup” on them (with plates that say “bread”) on them for Christmas. And I was so excited – they’re adorable and surely now I can make pretty soup pictures for my blog! Not so fast, girl. They’re black bowls, very black bowls, and my camera does not like that. It turns out that I can get a great picture of the bowl and never a great picture of what’s inside the bowl…

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Here is one called “All The Steam”. Your camera, you see, like any other bit of glass, will steam up when going from somewhere cold (the living room) to somewhere hot and humid (the kitchen). When I grabbed my camera from the arctic temperatures in the living room to snap these Pea and Courgette Fritters, I ended up looking like I’d photographed them in the fog. Not a great look.

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And we make so much mess. Food is messy, especially when you’re baking, especially when it’s chocolate. These Peanut Butter Cups were lovely but not exactly tidy. Chocolate is a nuisance to wash up too, and you can see it all over my bowl in the corner of this picture! Bonus camera strap also hanging around.

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Finally, here’s an all round terrible photo of my samosas. It’s blurry, for one. The counter is dirty, with bits of samosa crumb and flour on top. My feet are in the picture! As is my kettle, my salt, my kitchen scales, and half the cooker. Bonus for the oily kitchen roll under the samosas.

Now, none of the food in this post tasted bad. In fact, it all tasted really rather good. Sometimes, it can be hard to see past ugly looking food and feel bad that yours isn’t quite pretty enough. But I hope this shows that food can look however it likes and still be pretty amazing tasting!

 

 

VeganMoFo Day 4 – A review of Zizzi’s

For day 4 of VeganMoFo, we were asked where we eat when we want someone else to cook.

Honestly, we don’t go out to eat a whole lot. I know some people go out to eat almost every night, but I enjoy cooking (hence the food blog!) and so we only really go out on special occasions, or when there are vegan events going on.

Sometimes we like to go to the monthly vegan market in Sneinton, Nottingham, where they usually have some lovely street-food and of course plenty of vegan goodies to buy. But other times, a sit down meal is best, and lately we’ve been turning to Zizzi for that.

Back in March, Zizzi unveiled a new vegan menu including a pizza with vegan cheese!! This was incredibly exciting to vegans all around the country, because we are so used to just getting “extra vegetables, no cheese” on our pizzas. Finally, we could go to a mainstream place and get pizza with cheese.

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You can get a plain “margherita” pizza with just a tomato base and the vegan mozzarella, or you can get a pizza with three different toppings for just a little extra. In the one above, I had olives, balsamic onions, and roasted tomatoes. It was delicious, and the cheese is lovely and melty!

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This autumn, they also released a new menu including a vegan lentil ragu, which I had recently. It was also delicious and a lovely addition to the menu.

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They also do vegan side dishes, such as the above “Tuscan Potatoes” which are rosemary roasted and lovely. Plus vegan cider, pictured in the first photo, by Aspall!

One thing that is great about Zizzi is how they put a little sticker on all of the vegan dishes that says “vegan”. For those, like me, who can be a little paranoid about their food, this is a lovely reassurance that your food is indeed vegan. You can get their pizza to take out too, and they even put the little vegan sticker on that!

So, I would highly recommend Zizzi to anyone looking for not too expensive vegan food in the UK.

 

Leicester Vegan Market

It’s an exciting time to be vegan at the moment! With Vegan MoFo 2016  just around the corner (anyone can take part, check it out!) , and “vegan fair” season in my area beginning (there are at least three that I know of in the next few months!) I’m gearing up for a lot of great vegan food coming my way.

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Sunday was the day of the second ever Leicester Vegan Market. The first vegan market in Leicester was not so long ago, in June, and Leicester is a wonderful place to be vegan. I live in Derby, which is a little north of Leicester, but close enough to visit. The market in Leicester is Europe’s largest outdoor covered market, and on weekdays and Saturdays it’s filled with people selling everything from gorgeous fresh fruit and vegetables, to a wide range of fabrics, to music and mobile phones. On Sundays, however, the market is usually closed, but on these special dates it gets taken over by the vegan market. With over fifty stalls this time, the market is a great place for vegans and non-vegans alike to browse and buy.

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Some of the stalls at the market – Clockwise from top left: Mithaas, sign at the Veggies stall, Vegan Pizza Co, Ananda Foods

There were lots of food stalls, but also lots of non-food stalls, including books and leaflets, artwork, toiletries, clothing and many more.

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I had lunch there – Pulled jackfruit chimichangas (deep fried burritos) from Mex It Up who always do delicious food! They were also selling vegan corn dogs, which looked really good.

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Followed by dessert from Whipee Gelato, which is an ice cream & dessert shop on Granby St in Leicester. I had three flavours of the gelato – chocolate, cherry, and passion fruit – they also did vegan waffles and other flavours of gelato, all of which they offer in their shop!

We got three varieties of cheese from the market – the first two from Lettices, a fairly new vegan cheese and meat company (they offer online ordering too, if you’d like to try them) and the third from The Naturally Vegan Food Company, who are based in Northampton and did a vegan Brie! Complete with the rind!

I got some marshmallow items from Ananda Foods who are a vegan marshmallow company – they make vegan wagon wheels! And so many other things, including a “make your own marshmallow” kit.

Finally, some extra treats we got. Clockwise from top left – some Organica chocolate bars from Lakeside Ethical Treats, who have stalls and a website selling all sorts of vegan chocolate, sweets, and snacks. Next, cupcakes from LuVegan. We bought a big box but gave most to family – these are ours, on the left a Neapolitan cupcake, on the right an Oreo cupcake. Bottom left, crisps from Ten Acre Crisps, bought from the Currant Affairs stall. Finally, a delicious samosa from Sona Foods who did some delicious Indian snack foods, including a very Leicester “Samosa Cob!”

 

It is always lovely to go to an event where everything is vegan. To see it so popular too is even better! The market was brimming with people eager to try the vegan products – many of them non-vegans themselves, which makes it even more special.

Gloucestershire Holiday, Part 3.

So, here goes the final episode in our holiday to Gloucestershire.

The day after our Cotswold’s walk, we decided to venture a bit further from our base, and head down to Wales. Cardiff, to be specific. A long time ago when we were dating, we had a holiday near Swansea but neither of us have ever been to Cardiff before and it seemed like a good place to visit.

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The day was a little grey and chilly, but we walked through Bute Park, which contains the walls of the castle. We didn’t go in the castle as it was quite dear, but we saw the outside at least! After getting a bit cold, we headed inside to the National Museum, which had a lot of art exhibits including a very harrowing one on Mametz Wood, the battle in the First World War. It’s free to enter, so if you are going to be in the area, definitely pay it a visit.

 

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For lunch, we headed to the Cafe Atma in the centre of Cardiff. An all vegetarian, egg free cafe, almost all the menu items can be made vegan (and they’ll let you know too!). I don’t usually order curry when I’m out – probably because I figure I can make curry myself – but this looked too good to pass on – and it was amazing! Mild in heat but not in flavour, I had a chana dhal and a peanut butter subzi, with puri, cauliflower pakora, and rice. It was lovely! And the drink you can see in the background – strawberry & blackcurrant – was also very tasty.

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The next day – our final day – we went on a last walk around Gloucester before we checked out of the hotel. Fresh and early in the morning, the docks were absolutely beautiful. We also got to have a look inside the cathedral too, where the organist was playing some warming up music.

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We then headed to Cheltenham, where we found there was a farmers market going on with not one, but two stalls with vegan options! First was the Veggie Deli where we bought a polenta bake to eat for lunch, and then we came across Flamingo’s Vegan Bakery, which was a lovely stall! They had millionaire’s shortbread and I had a nice chat with the owners about how they make their caramel (they condense their own soy milk! That’s more work than I can put in!) and of course I had to buy some to sample. I also got the pictured wonderful chocolate and peanut butter cookie sandwich. I am not sure I’ve ever had a cookie sandwich before (unless you count Jammy Dodgers and Bourbons) but this was delicious.

Finally, we headed home – and were quickly greeted by the neighbour’s cat, who seemed to have missed us!

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