Friday, 30 December 2011

Christmas

Christmas has been surprisingly busy this year considering we stayed at home on the actual day and spent our last one as just the two of us.
On the day we had a selection of veggies, stuffing, redwoods faux meats and my star covered en croute.
The past week has been a very lazy one away at the seaside with family.
As I'm back at work in the morning my mind has turned to lunch and the fact I should really be watching what I am eating now I'm 20 weeks pregnant. My lunch efforts are always varied and sometimes not at all so I've treated myself to a few items from the Lunchbots range for motivation. I'll share some lovely pictures with you all once I've actually used it :) I've brought the insulated bowl as well so have many plans for nice soups and stews - maybe even some homemade bread on the side.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas Time

Just thought I'd share a few snaps of Christmas in our house so far this year. The gingerbread lady and Xmas pudding I lovingly made last Christmas and I'm too excited by these Hello Kitty wrapped presents that have appeared under the tree!
With over a week left until I finish work for Xmas @mrflibbletweets and I haven't even thought about food yet (well I certainly haven't) and I have to admit I've been slightly baby brained recently! I'm sure there is much more Christmas fun to come :)

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cafe Soya (Take 2)

On a lovely evening out with @kellykaos recently we popped along to Cafe Soya for dinner. Even though vegan is stated on the bottom of their vegetarian menu (and they do have one, but for some reason you have to ask for this as they only put their regular menu on the tables) I've had a problem in previous visits asking what is vegan and being sure I've been understood. This visit was great and we had veggie steamed dumplings and veggie crispy duck and pancakes for starter and I had a large bowl of veggie dumpling and noodle soup for mains (@kellykaos had some sort of meat fried rice dish - enough said lol ).
The whole meal including two drinks came to around £29, which is very good value considering the portion sizes are huge! I'd actually go so far as to say between two if you have starters it'd be a good idea to share a main - I couldn't even get halfway through my main as I was totally stuffed.
It's not my favourite Chinese place (Veggie World wins that one hands down) but it's good food anyway and handy if you happen to be in Birmingham.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Mama Packs and other such things

So I recently discovered I was expecting this lovely small person on the 27/05/2012.





The first thing some of my friends asked me was "Are you going to stay vegan?". Well ...... Of course! But it did hit home to me I knew nothing about vegan pregnancy. I've since been reading up on the Internet and have read several books on the subject. After my first appointment with my midwife where she informed me she was more than happy for me to continue with my diet I've been happily getting on with things. I've been constantly learning new things the last few months and I'm sure I'll be learning a whole lot more!
Friends told me to be excited about the free Bounty packs of samples I would get- the first at my midwife appointment . I was disappointed - I'm not remotely interested in disposable nappies and yoghurt drops! If you feel the same check out mama packs - a more Eco minded freebie pack :) granted I've had to bin/ donate a few non vegan items but all in all not bad!



Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook

So the title of this book is slightly misleading - it's more like a vegan cookbook (if you ignore the one or two recipes which include honey). I haven't got this down from the shelf in a while so thought it was about time.
If you can get past the hippy 70's vibes (i never said there was anything wrong with hippys!) of this book it's actually pretty decent and I think a little forgotten by modern vegans. It's actually quite interesting - 'The Farm' is and still are a community in Tennessee, USA. I believe they've been around since the 70's and live by a 'pure vegetarian' diet. Some attention on the Internet has been placed on the 'mac n cheese' recipe from this book (which incidentally I don't use, I created my own before I ever set eyes on this book - they are quite similar!) but there are many more hidden gems inside.
Apart from it being a bit of a time warp with pictures of hippy types farming, making soy milk and tofu - there are really great sections about nutrition, raising and feeding vegan children, and basic (but really great!) staples such as tofu cheesecake and many yummy soya bean recipes.
If you've never set eyes on this book before, I recommend you do!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Crazy Rumours Lip Balm

So when I discovered this recently I just knew I had to have some. It's getting to the time of year where my lips need some care and the selection at Lush this year for vegans seems a bit boring.
I ordered the set from Super Smoocher and as you can see they arrived nicely packaged with glitter hearts and a sweetie.
The root beer flavour has got to be my favourite but the others are all fabulous! Their whole range is vegan ( although that website do sell no vegan things, it's all clearly labelled ).







Baguette Pizza

This isn't an original idea, just something I can't believe I've never made before. It reminds me of my misspent youth having drunken nights out and heading down to Greggs in the morning for one of these ( during none vegan days ). If you don't know what Greggs is you obviously weren't brought up in the midlands, or have had a lucky escape. It is certainly not a place I miss going.
My version of this is super simple - a baguette ( part baked works best as it doesn't end up too done after cooking, but if you have regular it will work ), tomato sauce, Edam cheezly and a sprinkling of Mexican basil and cracked black pepper. It's assembled and cooked at 200 degrees for around 10 minutes. It's really worth getting your hands on Mexican basil, it's not hard to find and I got my plant at Tesco's and with care has lasted me months.

'Bear' Products

Just a brief post to tell you how much I love these! The yo yo's especially - I know they are meant for kids and come with cute collectible cards, but I love 'em! They've become a daily fixture as a work snack and help me get in some of my 5 a day :)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Burst Juice Bar - Leamington Spa - CLOSED

As this is such a small place I'd not really thought to blog about it before but after taking a trip there this morning I decided it was about time.
They offer a surprising amount of vegan options. The vegan sausage and tomato chutney bagel is my favourite but they do vegan soup (depending what the specials are at the time), salad, baked potato option and baguette option. They are not vegetarian and do serve meat but it's nice they've got the vegans covered. Granted the sausage they use is Linda McCartney but it's great to have the option of somewhere to grab something for lunch whilst out and about.
It's their juices that are really special though. I love the Cherrylicious but I'm reliably informed many of their others are good too. They have expansive lists of options on their blackboards all around the shop and make the juice fresh in front of you whilst you wait. They have 3 small tables inside, but I've never had a problem getting somewhere to sit when I've visited. During August I even took my good friend @kellykaos and she raved about it for weeks afterwards.
They can be found at 77 Regent Street.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Nottingham and a not so Screaming Carrot Bakery

Today @mrflibbletweets gave in to my burger cravings (mentioned in a previous post) and we drove up to Nottingham to visit the Alley Cafe. On the way we decided to stop off at the Screaming Carrot Bakery. As you can see from my photo it's in a strange location - nothing much else around just a bunch of housing in not the most up and coming area of Nottingham.



I am surprised they call themselves a bakery, I mean technically they do make the stuff on site but there is only a selection of 3 or 4 types of cake and the same again in pies/ pastys. It reminded me more of The one Earth shop in Birmingham where it's mostly a health food shop with a takeaway counter. Maybe my assessment is unfair and I went on a day when they had less than usual but going by their website that's not the case.
We brought some bakewell tart, carrot cake, spanakopita pasty and sundried tomato and lentil pasty. I have yet to try either pasty (they're heating up in the oven as we speak) but the cake was genuinely good. I really liked the carrot cake and enjoyed the fact it was iced.
All of their in store made food is vegan and they sell the usual (Fry's, tofu, vegan yoghurt). I did find it slightly odd they also sell packaged products containing honey, so not all shop stock is vegan. In all I really liked the cake, but the small selection and odd location wouldn't be enough to bring me back ( besides it's a 120 mile round trip!).
The Alley Cafe was delightful as last week - however they'd done something different with their burger (spicier). Didn't get the try the cheesecake they had on offer this time as was stuffed from the burger - and besides we had cake in the car :)

Friday, 21 October 2011

Pretty Things <3

Whilst I'm still searching for the perfect pair of vegan winter boots for my birthday trip to Estonia there are plenty of other things I've got my eyes on.



As the winter is drawing in I'm also hoping to get back to some crafty endeavours as I have to admit since finishing my design degree a year and a half ago I have been useless.
I am in love with Orla Kiely and love @mrflibbletweets greatly for relenting and buying us the fabulous stem print duvet cover for our bedroom.



He's also set me up a kind of temporary workspace in my office so I need to get making things again soon. I love Boris Bear a character which features with Dick Bruna's Miffy - just a shame I don't have lots of cute prints to decorate with!

It's been a while......

So I realise it has been an age since I last posted. I've been down right blog lazy - I've been no less vegan, and certainly not stopped cooking/ eating out I've just had many good things going on recently which seem to have taken over somewhat.
While I'm here I'll give you a rundown of my favourite things from the last few months and I promise to get back to blogging soon (you may even become sick of my vegan ramblings).
Something I HAVE to tell you about is The Alley Cafe in Nottingham. I had the 'Happy Hemp Burger' and it was seriously good - so good in fact my cravings might ensure I'm dashing back up the motorway for a fix pretty soon! The cheesecake I had here was also seriously good. The strength of the food was very good, although the layout of the place was a little odd.
The cafe, as it's name suggests is tucked up a side alley in central Nottingham - but it's not at all hard to find. I'm afraid I'm once again lacking in photographs as @mrflibbletweets steals them and puts them on his blog first. It's a very small cafe with only a handful of tables inside, I saw posters claiming they have live music but I have no idea how as their bar takes up a third of the inside space!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes





I decided to try and make a cupcake version of the Lemon Drizzle cake I make regularly. The recipe is exactly the same, although I halved it to make enough mixture for 12 cupcakes.
I made up the cake with lemon syrup drizzled on top, then decorated with buttercream lemon frosting.

Twinwood Festival 2011

So, being the fabulous boyfriend @mrflibbletweets is he got us day tickets for the Saturday of Twinwood. Having attended similar (but smaller) events over the last few years I was really excited about it.
We were both totally unprepared - no chairs, food, umbrellas and in my case no shoes!



After arriving with our Sainsbury's picnic and our blanket we settled down to watch the John Miller Orchestra and have some lunch.



I think we did pretty well considering the rush and had an old favourite - hummus and falafel sandwiches with salad. There were many food options there for the omnivores, but not even a single vegetarian food van in sight. I'm not sure I would have risked it even if there had been one although at Isle of Wight Festival 2009 there were loads of really good vegan options all over the place. I've always found festivals a bit hit and miss in that way - during the years I went to Reading I found the choices limiting (2003-2005).



The weather wasn't great and @mrflibbletweets braved the weather and found us umbrellas. I managed to get soaked - and sunburnt! There were loads of traders there - Vivien of Holloway and Heyday being my favourites.



Over our dinner we caught The Hep Chaps and Si Cranstoun while trying to keep dry. We rounded off the evening in the Casablanca Club to watch Maddie Brown before braving the mud and heading home.



Monday, 22 August 2011

Churros

It seems lately after taking in a Lemon Drizzle cake to work I keep getting requests for more goodies. I wanted something relatively quick to make, but something they may not have tried before. So I came up with a veganised recipe for those lovely cinnamon sugar coated Churros I used to eat as a child on holidays to the states.



They traditionally come in star shaped sticks - this can be achieved by using a LARGE star shaped nozzle on a piping bag. The dough is a little tough to press through so it's advisable to use a fabric piping bag as disposable ones will mostly likely burst. If you don't own one of these, don't worry you can just roll the dough with your hands into short sticks.


For the Churros:

1 cup plain flour

1 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 cups of boiling water

1 heaped tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp vegan margarine (Pure Sunflower works well)

For the sugar mixture:

1/4 cup sugar

1tsp cinnamon
You will also need sunflower oil and a heavy bottomed pan to cook

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, and place the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Once the sugar has dissolved add the marg and melt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well until a dough is formed. Leave this to cool for around 15 minutes and heat up the oil ready for cooking.
Prepare some kitchen roll for draining the oil from your cooked Churros and prep the sugar mixture in a bowl.
Using your piping bag create sticks around 4-5 inches long and fry them in small batches of 2 or 3. Drain on the kitchen paper then roll in the sugar mixture.
Serve warm, great by themselves or can be dipped into chocolate sauce.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Ananda's Vegan Marshmallows




During a trip to the Warehouse Cafe today @mrflibbletweets and I stopped off at the One Earth vegan shop in Birmingham and picked up some of these marshmallows.



We decided to have them toasted with some chocolate sauce that @mrflibbletweets whipped up fondue style. It's sad to say that we won't be getting these again. They just weren't very nice - they had a strange crunchy outer and a not so good centre. Other brands ( of which not too helpfully I can't remember the name of) we've had in the past have been much better.
Despite this I am glad to see One Earth recently have started to stock a bigger variety of goodies and hope they continue to do so, they even had some items in their deli counter I'd not seen before. We tried the Vanilla Oat Cookies and the always reliable carrot cake.

Monday, 15 August 2011

London - Vx, Saf & Moaz


I wasn't sure I liked London - I spent the whole 3 years of my degree avoiding the place and I was most likely about 15 the last time I ventured there to see a band. So yesterday when @mrflibbletweets suggested me go for the day I was determined to give it another go.
First of all we visited Saf Shoreditch - really enjoyable. I had the mushroom gyoza to start, Tempeh salad sandwich for mains and tiramisu for pudding. Sadly i have no photos but @mrflibbletweets is bound to write a review on this over at his Blog
Even good old Holland & Barrett held some suprises for me - takaway ice cream (I suspect it was british Toffuti) which we enjoyed in the park.
We headed over to Vx on our travels as well. I'd heard so much about this 'vegan boutique' that I just HAD to take a look.





I have to to say, it really wasn't what i'd been expecting. I DO think it's great it exists and they did sell some hard to find goods such as Primal Jerky and Vegusto vegan cheese. I didn't however actually think they had that much stock - i know it's a small shop but with it's location being a little out of the way it'd have to carry more to make the trip worthwhile. Some items were also overpriced - why pay for their vegan condoms when Condomi is available in bulk (or even free at some doctors/ clinics). I also noticed the same jelly i buy in my local Asda (3 for £1) on sale for £2.99.
Primal Jerky is a strange foodstuff that I became hooked on when I visited Ethos Vegan Kitchen a few years ago (they stock it as well as being a cafe and having a takeaway baked goods counter). I was happy to get my hands on some, although I think @mrflibbletweets was of the view it was strange.





We had a passing look inside Planet Organic but I wasn't really impressed. We did however pick up some Cliff bars - they are pretty good and would be a nice change to eating Nakd bars all the time.





For dinner we headed over to Moaz Vegetarian in Soho.





I had an avocado moaz - which consisted of avocado, falafel and whatever you wanted from the salad bar in a pitta bread.






It's a good idea, the food was nice - but it's not the holy grail of falafel and it's 100% still fast food in it's style. Similar to Subway perhaps? @mrflibbletweets wasn't keen on the chips ( I didn't try them ). In fact I was SO stuffed from the day's adventures I had to finish mine off in the car on the way home!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Now, i realise i'm on a diet - and no this doesn't mean i've given up!! It was to take into work I promise. I also realise the photo isn't great - but I took it in haste before it was all eaten! (next time I make it i'll update this)
I make this cake in two 9 inch tins and put it together like a Victoria Sponge with lemon buttercream and lemon syrup drizzled on top.
This recipe is very reliable and has been my go to cake for a number of years.






3 1/3 cups of flour

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

2 1/4 cups sugar

Pinch of salt

3 tbsp lemon zest

2 1/4 cups rice milk

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup + 2 tbsp oil

First - mix together your dry ingredients, then add the wet and mix well. You should also mix in half the lemon zest.
Grease two 9 inch tins and divide the mixture between the two.
Bake at 180 degrees for 55 minutes.
Once cool mix up some lemon buttercream. For this you will need:

1/2 cup vegan marg ( i use Pure )
1/2 lb of icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice

Once you have sandwiched the layers together leave it to set a little for 30 minutes.

The final step is the lemon syrup for the topping. To make this you will need:

⅓ cup lemon juice
¾ cup sugar

In a saucepan gently warm until all the sugar is disolved and the mixture has thickened. Using a cocktail stick poke little holes all across the top then generously drizzle the syrup all over. Top with a little lemon zest




Friday, 15 July 2011

'Mcdougall' Mushroom Pate

So, i have been looking for more recipes that fit with the MWL diet. I've looked through those in the book, but really nothing really has jumped out at me. I do however like the idea of making dips and spreads to liven up rice cakes. I've also used this as a filling for sweet baked potatoes, but could be useful for much more.






I should point out- this isn't the recipe from the book. I got my inspiration from it, but made it to my own taste/ recipe.

1lb of mushrooms (i used a mix of types)

200g chopped leek

2tbps frozen chopped garlic

2tbps soy sauce

1/2 cup chopped fresh mexican basil

1/2 tsp dried sage

1/2 tsp dried herbs de providence

1tbsp mushroom ketchup

2tbsp vegan stock

Salt & pepper to taste

To make this it's pretty simple - remember this is oil/ fat free so no marg or oil is to be used in cooking!

Place the chopped mushroom, leek, stock and frozen garlic in a big saucepan with a few cups of boiling water. The aim is not to boil but gently simmer for around 10 minutes until everything is soft and cooked - be careful not to cook it so much as it turns to mush.
Drain this off and place into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients.
Blend until smooth, leave to cool then place into an airtight container and keep it in the fridge.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Getting Used To The Mcdougall Way...

It has been a week since I began the MWL diet and my meals have much improved as i've settled into this new way of eating.
I knew i'd settle into the swing of things - not sure if i've lost any weight yet, want to wait a few more days before I weigh myself!
I've been browsing the Mcdougall forums and have been trying to follow the suggestion of eating salad/ vegetables in a meal first and then starches last to try and fill up on the least calorie dense elements of the meal first.
One of my favorite easy work lunches is baked potato with salad and fat/ oil free dressing. I've been adding more taste to my salad by including chopped Parsley ( or whatever herbs I have on hand).



One of the ways I may have cheated is by having slightly more than my two allowed fruits a day. I haven't done this every day and it's only been by one extra item.
I've also been making up my morning porridge with half apple juice/ half water. Other recipes in the MWL book use apple juice (such as the breakfast apple rice) so figured the small amount was worth it if it got me to eat my porridge in the morning!
The first few days I really struggled with my willpower when in the office. I missed my morning coffee and afternoon snack. The key for me is to have something healthy to have on hand instead. I've been drinking mint tea (with no sugar) and having a plain rice cake if it's the choice between that and slipping up!



Although as you might of gathered from my last post I felt deprived in a way on the first day - but now I'm genuinely finding my food satisfies me. As the plan suggests I haven't let myself go hungry, but I guess the proof of if this works will be seen on the scales over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Mcdougall Maximum Weight Loss Diet


So, deciding to diet i've looked around for something that suited a vegan. I'd heared of John Mcdougall around 3 years ago, but back then I glanced over the rules of this diet and dismissed it as being very extreme/ restrictive.




So here I am those three years later and embarking on the diet. I'd been shopping the previous day and stocked up on the 'allowed' foods. Potatoes, brown rice, lentils & beans, vegetables and salad being the main ones. There is absolutely no fat from any source in this diet (apart from that naturally found in vegetables etc). One of the main things that drew me into trying this was the 'eat until you have satisfied your hunger' rule - there are no portion size rules as long as you stick to the allowed foods.
The first day was a nightmare, i hadn't appreciated just how hard it was to stay TOTALLY fat/ oil free. My oatmeal (porridge to me and you) made up with water instead of the usual soya was bland and horrible and my lunch of baked potatoes with sauted vegetables was dry and tasteless. I suddenly started to wonder what I had let myself in for! (This is purely to illustrate how unappealling breakfast really was).



Then I got myself thinking. When I first turned vegan it took me a while to get into the groove of things and find out what I liked. Maybe this would be the same? Remotivated I decided to cook from some of the recipes in the book for dinner and find something better than oatty slop for breakfast.
For my dinner I had brown rice and vegetables in a tomato sauce. While this wasn't amazing, it was a massive improvement on my lunch!
For breakfast I made the 'Breakfast Apple Rice' - this has been my favorite thing so far. I'm guessing this is going to be a regular feature for the next few months.



So I guess i'll keep you updated - we'll find out if this thing actually works and i'll share with you the best of the recipes I find along the way.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Final Word on Graze

So today i had the last Graze box i'll order. I do think it's a great idea, however slightly limited - it would need to be better value for me to continue.



I sent @mrflibbletweets a box last week and he was also left slightly unimpressed by it. I have only had around 4 and already I am becoming bored of the selection!
I think perhaps i just got really lucky with my first box that i liked all of the selection so much - i've not had such a good box since. I'm going to stick to my bags of Suma apple rings and nuts, much better value for money.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Graze round 2

So this is just a quick note on what I got in my latest box. It arrived a day late! But thats due to the postman and not them.



Haven't enjoyed the contents as much this time - i think i'm just more of a savory person and I got all sweet.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Nakd Bars: A non post


I know everybody most likely already knows about these, i'm not claiming to have found exciting new vegan products years after everybody already has - i just love them and find them SO useful for work.



I'd never tried these flavours before, i'd always stuck to my favorites - gingerbread, apple pie and cashew cookie. I wasn't so keen on the Berry Delight, but the Cocoa Delight is great! I keep a few boxes in my desk at work and eat them as brekkie - they stop me snacking in the *free* doughnuts and buscuits!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Style Me Vintage: A Book Review


Now, I realise that this doesn't have all that much to do with vegan food - but I just love vintage style and as a fashion graduate i feel it's my prerogative.
I've had this book a little while but only this week rediscovered it. 'Style Me Vintage: Hair' by Belinda Hay had lots of negative reviews on amazon when i purchased but i'd heard good things about it from Vintage Life magazine so didn't let them put me off.






This is a great beginners book in my opinion, and was great for somebody like me who has always been awful at doing anything other than a very simple roller set. In short - i've learnt many new techniques and very effective tips that actually work. Most of these styles also are VERY achievable for everyday wear after a little practice. Perhaps thats why I like this book so much other some others which teach more advanced techniques.
I believe there is a new vintage make up book soon to be realised by the same author which i'll be snapping up.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Warehouse Cafe - Again

So on Friday I once again visited The Warehouse, I'm going to keep this short and sweet as I know I have blogged about them before.
I was all ready to order the same as usual when I noticed - theres been a menu change!! It's not a massive change, most of the light bites, puddings and drinks are the same. There are however several new starters and mains - you can have two courses for £13.95, or three for £18.95.
I had the Peking Tofu Pancakes for starter.






This pleasantly suprised me. I usually have gluten 'duck' if I eat this, and I am completely taken by the onces they serve at Veggie World. It was nice to have something a little different, especially since the tofu was well cooked.






For my main I had the Summer Sausages. This came with carrots, cabbage, chive & horseradish potatoes and real ale gravy. I really enjoyed this, the sausages were pretty good - although I wasn't a big fan of the potatoes (possibly as i'm not keen on horseradish).
Kelly had the Warehouse Pate Selection for starter. I have had this before and really enjoyed it. My only comment is that more of the crispy bread things are needed for the amount of pate.






For mains she had a Malaysian Laksa. I wasn't sure what to expect from this- but i tried some and it was really good. A little to spicy for my tastes (but i'm a wimp when it comes to heat) but had a great coconut flavor to it.






In summary i'm really glad they've mixed up the menu a bit, it has given me new things to try when I undoubtedly will visit in the future.