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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Gloucestershire Holiday, Part 2.

After our day in Bath, we decided to head to the nearby Bristol. The two cities are less than fifteen miles from each other, and we’d originally planned to visit them both on the same day. We soon realised though that since Bath had such a wealth of places to visit, we just wouldn’t have time! So, two separate days it was.

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But first off, we headed for the seaside! Portishead is a town just a little outside of Bristol and although it doesn’t really have a “beach” exactly, it’s still a beautiful little place with some very enviable houses!

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Next onto Bristol itself, where we prepared to explore and shop. We came across St Peter’s Church in the city centre Castle Park, an old church – possibly the oldest in Bristol – which was bombed in World War II after being used as a hospital, and is now preserved as a memorial, with lovely gardens growing herbs and useful plants.

 

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We then went on to have lunch at VX Bristol. Describing itself as “Vegan Junk Food”, it has a little shop selling vegan essentials and more – loads of mock-meats and cheeses – but also a restaurant where you can get some great food. I had the “Philly”, which is a burger and cheese in a cob, grilled! Like a toastie! The cheese went all melty and delicious. Greg had a regular burger which he said was delicious too. We also got cakes to take away (we were too full to eat dessert immediately) and they were lovely but no photos as they did get a little squished on our way back!

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Finally, we paid a visit to the cathedral in Bristol. A beautiful cathedral and mostly empty by the time we got there, it also has some lovely well-maintained gardens which we visited.

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The next day we went on a walk in the Cotswold’s. We followed a walking guide from the National Trail website, taking us along part of the Cotswold Way and through the beautiful villages of Stanton and Snowshill.

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We walked up some enormous hills, but were rewarded by some stunning views of the countryside around us. Apparently from some parts of the walk you can even see into Wales, but we weren’t quite sure!

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We packed a lunch with us – cobs with some “lunchmeat” style slices I made and salad and crisps! Good food for being out walking. We’ve done a few of the walks from the National Trail website and I’d highly recommend them.

We were exhausted when we got home from the walk and stayed in the hotel again (watching Olympics once more!), ready for the next day out, which I will post soon in Part 3!

Gloucestershire Holiday, Part 1.

This past week, we have been holidaying in the Gloucestershire/South West area. We spent five nights in a hotel in Gloucester (complete with a fridge and a microwave – essential for vegans!) and travelled to various places nearby. As always, we took a whole lot of pictures of the area and the food, some of which I’ll share in this post!

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The city of Gloucester is itself quite beautiful, and on our first evening we went for a walk in the sun. We found the cathedral – which was at the time closed due to it being quite late (ah, the deceptively bright British summer evenings!) – but from the outside it was still an awe inspiring sight.

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We walked down by the docks which were very windy and full of seagulls – but again full of lovely sites. Pictured above is the Johanna Lucretia, which starred in the film Amazing Grace (about William Wilberforce and his campaign to end the slave trade). The docks were surprisingly quiet and it was a lovely walk.

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On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by the pizza place Fat Toni’s. They offer vegan cheese on all of their pizzas at no extra cost – which is wonderful news! We decided to try it out, along with a pot of their vegan pesto dip. They also offer vegan ice cream, but it was a rather large tub and with no freezer to store it in we had to pass! I had the “La Franca” pizza, with artichokes, garlic, tomatoes. It was delicious and so good to have a pizza with vegan cheese readily available!

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After a good sleep in the hotel, the next day we decided to have a day out in Bath, since it was only slightly over an hours journey from our base in Gloucester – and having recently graduated with a history degree (and a slight focus on ancient history) I was eager to see the city!

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Bath Abbey is simply stunning, and it’s well worth having a look inside (free entry!) – pay attention to the great windows at the west and east – one depicting Old Testament stories and the other depicting scenes from the life of Jesus. They are very impressive!

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Next we walked up a very very big hill (seriously an endless amount of steps) to Alexandra Park, where we were rewarded with this amazing view of the city. It’s hard to get an idea from photos of the view, but you could see the whole city and beyond – it was well worth the walk.

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I didn’t manage to take a picture of lunch – which was a tempeh wrap from Harvest – but I did get a photo of this lovely drink I had – I love rhubarb and this had a wonderful rhubarby taste to it! We bought our lunch to take away and ate it in the Parade Gardens in the centre of Bath, alongside the river Avon. The gardens do have a small entrance fee (£1.50 per adult) but since our lunch was fairly cheap we decided to pay for the privilege of being able to sit down and eat!

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Finally, we went to the Roman Baths. These are not cheap – a £15.50 entry fee per adult (though I got a slight discount with my student card!) but if you can, they’re well worth it. It seems like they’re going to be packed, and to be honest they are pretty busy, but it isn’t a bad thing. In fact, being busy it kind of forces you to take time to look at the exhibits and appreciate them. Do take one of the audio guides – there are some fantastic commentries by Bill Bryson along the route!

At the end of the day, we were tired and didn’t fancy eating out and so just had food in the hotel room whilst we watched the Olympics – but that was good enough for us! Having a microwave and a fridge made that easy.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the holiday, coming soon!

 

West Midlands Vegan Festival

Last weekend was the West Midlands Vegan Festival, held in Wolverhampton Civic Centre, which turns out to only be an hours drive from us – so we decided to go along and have a look! It was the first vegan festival I’ve been to – sure I’ve been to vegan restaurants and shops, but never a festival!

It was a nasty, rainy day, and parking was admittedly difficult (we payed £6.70 for a 4 hour stay!) but once we got to the Civic Centre, it was lovely and warm and we soon dried off.

The event started at 10am and we arrived probably about 10:30 and it was already packed full! There were people in the streets of Wolverhampton holding signs pointing to the “Vegan Festival” so I’m sure that attracted more! At just £1 per person entry, it was great value.

Note: I apologise for the poor quality of the photos – I only had my phone with me!

First of all we stopped off at the Change Kitchen stall and my husband bought a samosa – for just £1 again! I found things were surprisingly affordable at this festival, I suppose I still had the idea that vegan food must be expensive, but it wasn’t for the most part. We then went on and I, being still cold, got a cup of hot Vanilla Chai Tea – which was milk, sugar, and caffeine free, but still so tasty!

I bought some makeup from the Beauty Without Cruelty stand which was great to see – so many vegan cosmetic companies seem to be only available online, and I hate not being able to try products first!

We stopped by the Harper’s Bizarre Candles stall – I won’t say too much about this because I have to keep some of it secret from prying eyes, but their candles have the most amazing scent! I can’t recommend them enough. We also went to the Handmade By Erica Jayne jams & chutneys stall, which had a little taster section where you could test the lovely food!

Next, we bought a box of cupcakes from Care for a Cupcake?, which I have to say were absolutely delicious! We shared them with Greg’s family who also liked them.

We bought some cashew cheese from a stall called “Annie Mae” and it was lovely – the person behind the stall was also very helpful with letting me know the ingredients of the cheese when I asked because of my intolerances!

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We also stopped at the Vegan Store website’s stall where we bought chocolates! Honeycomb toffee and some iChoc white chocolate – mm.

Next it was lunch time! We were so spoilt for choice here. There were so many stalls selling food and I wished I could have tasted them all! We actually bought some samosas and pakoras to take home from the Centre for Conscious Awareness because we couldn’t miss out!

But in the end, we decided to go with a hot dog from Shambu’s, which was slathered in lovely onions, mustard, and ketchup, and a “Loaded Nacho Plate” from Mex It Up – nachos, beans, pulled jackfruit, salsa, cheese sauce, and jalapenos!

The food was absolutely delicious and I wish I could have it every day!

After that, we headed home. And got soaked in the rain on the way to the car, but it was well worth it!

So my recommendation is – if you have a vegan festival anywhere near you? Go to it!

Road Trip Snacks! – Vegan MoFo Day 29

The penultimate prompt for Vegan MoFo 2015 is “What would you bring on a vegan road trip?” Now, if hypothetically I was going on a vegan road trip and had unlimited funds, I’d probably buy expensive vegan chocolate and snacks from specialist stores. But…although that’d be super tasty, I can’t afford that and I haven’t done that! So I’m sticking with what I know.

When we go on “road trips” (there’s only so much road to trip in the UK!) I tend to stock up on cheap and easy snacks. Mostly sweets and things that aren’t so great for you – but who cares, are holidays really meant to be healthy?

So here I have a selection of the treats I like to buy, all of which clock in at £1 or less!

First lets start with the savoury. These Rosemary & Olive oil Ritz crackers are awesome, and I get them from any supermarket. Bring along a pot of hummus to dip them in!

I love Pringles – and they’re great because they have a little “tick” next to the word vegan on their ingredients list if they’re safe! But these are also really good and only £1. Tesco’s version. Their plain ones are also vegan.

Marmite crisps!! Make sure to get the Walkers brand, as the other older brand of marmite crisps are not vegan. These are recently back and are strangely good. Can buy in packs of six from supermarkets.

Ok that’s it for the savoury, on to the sweet. Where would a vegan snacks list be without Biscoff? These Lotus biscuits come in handy snack-size packets, ideal for dipping in tea or coffee. Found in packs of 16 in pound shops.

These little fruit flakes are actually kind of healthy. You can get them in all different flavours, they are made from condensed fruit purees and are like mini gummies. From supermarkets or pound shops!

And of course Oreos! These are a pack of 10×2 packs I got from a pound shop. You can get rolls of them too, but here in the UK only the regular and the Golden flavours are vegan.

Bon Bons! Tesco’s own make and delicious. Blue Raspberry is such a nostalgic taste.

Skittles! Skittles are now vegan – they didn’t used to be vegetarian either but they changed the recipe and made it suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. My favourite is the sour flavour.

Talking of Skittles…these are basically Vimto flavoured skittles – you can get them from pound shops. Delicious!

So there you have it, my cheap and cheerful road trip list!