February 2014 trip to Brighton

brighton1

I love Brighton. Although it’s under an hour and a half’s drive or train ride away, I don’t visit enough! Last month, however, we were able to go for the night as my parents had got a free night in a hotel with their home insurance that they didn’t want and we were able to book a Friday night at The Old Ship hotel with it. I tried to book Terre a Terre for the Friday evening but couldn’t get a reservation so instead booked Food for Friends which was a stone’s throw from the hotel.

Food for Friends, 17 Prince Albert St, The Lanes, Brighton

Official Website: http://www.foodforfriends.com

No photos as we were too busy enjoying our meal.

I started with the soup which was some kind of root vegetable medley with a hint of ginger and was very tasty. R went for the cracked black peppered fried tofu with spring onions and saffron dashi, served with kombu seaweed, pickled cucumber and Chinese cabbage. I think this was a stand out dish- so many flavours on the plate, quite peppery tofu, awesome pickles and definitely something that would be hard to recreate but I’d order next time!

For main R had something that wasn’t vegan- a potato cake with a poached egg on top. I think he enjoyed it, especially the sesame onion rings!! They do a vegan version without the egg.

I had another dish that was a vegan-option. It was the Halloumi salad with mango, avocado, wasabi nuts and a mango dressing. I got crispy tofu instead of halloumi which was lovely, as were the leaves, nuts, avocado and slices of mango. However, the mango dressing was far too sweet and overpowering so this one wasn’t a winner!!

For pudding I had to try the coconut arancini with a trio of mango (which works much better in a sweet dish!) The sorbet was lovely, as were the sweet coconut rice balls so I really enjoyed this. We also shared the espresso and truffles for 2 to finish off the meal and had a nice bottle of vegan red wine with our meal too. Service was good and it was reasonably priced (I think mine fell into the 3 courses for £20 category!) so we will be back!

On the Saturday morning, I was a bit annoyed that R had organised for a meeting with our plumbers at 2pm so we didn’t have time to stick around for lunch/afternoon tea. We had a light breakfast in the hotel (I just had fruit and coffee, although there was toast, bread, baked beans etc.) and wandered up the pier,

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bought some treats in Vbites, bought more treats in Infinity Foods and at about 11 settled in Rock’ola café bar for brunch.

Rock Ola, 29 Tidy Street, Brighton, BN1 4EL

Official website: http://www.rockolacoffeebar.com/

I loved this place! It’s like a cool 50s American diner and they have a separate vegan menu but also serve meat and lacto-ovo dishes.

I got the most awesome chocolate milkshake:

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And a vegan breakfast-in-a-bun: Mushrooms, vegan bacon, sausage and a hash brown type patty- which was lovely.

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Simple but hit the spot and I must find out how to make that milkshake. It was gloopy and ice-creamy and exactly how a milkshake should be.

Rock Ola was right near the station so we could just hop on a train back to London and our Brighton trip was over until next time!!!!

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Blueberry Swirl tray bake guinea pigging…

Hello!!

Wow it’s been ages since I last blogged. We bought a flat and have been manically packing/moving/redecorating/attempting to stay married. 2013’s been a big year! But after a month and a bit we’ve finally got a usable living room.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll have a few things to mention in a round-up soon (lots of photos on my phone) but for now just a quick one to mention Blueberry Swirl: https://www.facebook.com/blueberryswirl

I discovered their stall at the North East Vegan Festival on 17th November at the Stadium of Light. I took my parents along to their first Vegan Festival and they loved it! Vegusto did some awesome hot dogs and there was so much cake about! My dad was a particular fan of the Blueberry Swirl savoury muffins and I went away with a coffee cupcake and an earl grey cupcake which were both delicious.

So when I saw that Blueberry Swirl were looking for people to test out postage methods on for a potential mail order service I volunteered immediately!

A snickers tray bake was put in the post with royal mail on Wednesday and R picked it up from the post office on Friday night. It was packaged up very securely:

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And had travelled very well, with just a few peanuts stuck to the lid (which I imagine would have happened anyway):

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Both R and I enjoyed the bake. It was definitely more of  cake than a brownie and was nice and moist, and the chocolate and peanut topping was tasty too.

Watch out for Blueberry Swirl’s postal service in 2014! And if you’re in the north-east find their cakes at various places including the Farplace Animal Rescue charity shop in Wallsend, the Good Apple café in Sunderland and the Olde Young tea house in Middlesbrough.

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Lovely vegan food swap- September

2012-09-23 05.51.30This month’s vegan food swap came from Jade in Lancashire. She wrote me a really lovely little card about what was in the box and her life as a vegan which was a cute touch. Even better- the card is impregnated with thyme seeds so can be planted and I can grow herbs!!!

Jade mentioned that all the food was from local shops and markets. This made me feel a bit bad about my over-reliance on supermarkets for food swaps and I am going to try to use local shops more in future.

I picked up the box from the  post office on my way home from work one night when I was really hungry so may have eaten a bit of it before I had the chance to take a photo (I really need to stop photographing things on my ironing board) so you may notice that the fruit snack and mini-moo honeycomb are just the wrappers. I do like the real-fruit-mushed-into-bars concept so enjoyed the fruit snack bar and the bear rolls. The mini-moo honeycomb chocolate bar was amazing! How have I not had one before? Granted I was picking honeycomb out of my teeth in a traffic jam but it was so tasty!!!!

There was also a bar of dark chocolate with orange which I think must be buried in the photo but I nibbled on it a bit on my way home too and it was good!

When I opened the box initially, there was this amazing herby fragrance which came from the arabiata mix from the market in the middle of the photo. This stuff is great and I’ve used it in stews, tomato sauces and on noodles.

The pretzels made a good snack one evening and R helped me out with the super hot jalapeno crisps! I loved the provamel almond drink, it was really sweet and like an almond milkshake and was great after the gym one morning. The soyesse black cherry soya yoghurt was also yummy.

Aha, the little blue bag sticking out from under the english breakfast tea was a mini pack of  oreos. Love them.

I haven’t got around to the clearspring miso soup yet but it’s in my work cupboard for a hunger emergency and I like miso soup! I also haven’t had all the teas, one of which is olive leaf which I haven’t quite found an occasion for but I will as Jade says it’s really nice!

So thanks, Jade, for putting in so much effort and sending me lovely treats!

UK vegan food swap link: http://www.tohappyvegans.com/wordpress/uk-vegan-food-swap/

And a guide to being an awesome swapper: http://www.tohappyvegans.com/wordpress/uk-vegan-food-swap-september-2013/

What I ate this week

I have enlisted the help of a personal trainer and he asked me to keep a food diary for a week so he knows what my diet is like before he makes any nutritional suggestions. I thought I’d share this as I always find it interesting to see what other people eat on a typical day. I tried to take photos of most of my food. I haven’t included drink but generally will have a couple of diet cokes when I’m out, several pints of water, tea and coffee during the day.

I started on the Saturday after seeing the PT first thing.

Saturday

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Saturday Breakfast

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Saturday dinner-Sainsburys Taste the difference Tabbouleh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Scrambled tofu with 2 veggie ‘bacon rashers’ and brown sauce. Soy latte.

Snack: Montezuma dark chocolate buttons

Then I went to a cycling lesson to learn how to cycle in London traffic! I was really hungry when I got back so made a very quick meal of

Lunch: Noodles with curry powder and a black cherry soya yoghurt.

We headed into London and met my parents and had a look around a couple of ‘open’ buildings (it was London Open Houses weekend) including the royal courts of justice which was cool. Then back to the parents’ hotel room for:

Snack: Black coffee, a few original pringles and 3 nairns stem ginger oatcakes.

We had to head off to Jurassic Park: The Musical (which was pretty funny!) in Little Venice so picked up some food from Sainsburys.

Dinner: Sainsburys taste the difference Tabbouleh salad and roasted salted pistachios.

I was hungry by the time we got home so had some toast and marmalade.

Sunday

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Sunday Breakfast

Mushroom risotto on toast

Mushroom risotto on toast

Chocolate chia pudding

Chocolate chia pudding

Breakfast: Scrambled tofu on toast with 1 veggie ‘bacon rasher’ and brown sauce. Soy latte.

Snacks: Chocolate chia pudding (chia seeds soaked overnight in chocolate soy milk), roasted and salted pistachios, small bar of dark chocolate.

Lunch: 3 slices of toast

Dinner: Mushroom risotto on toast followed by another (espresso cup of) chocolate chia pudding.

Snack: Black pepper popcorn

Monday

Overnight oats (weekday breakfast)

Overnight oats (weekday breakfast)

Monday lunch

Monday lunch

Monday dinner

Monday dinner

Neapolitan Swedish Glace

Neapolitan Swedish Glace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Overnight oats- oats, chia seeds and cinnamon soaked in light soya milk overnight

Snacks: Apple, nectarine and small (30g) bar dark chocolate

Lunch: leftover mushroom risotto and a bag of wasabi glaze popcorn.

Dinner: courgette and carrot ‘noodles’ with arabiata tomato sauce (carrots and courgette spiralized in tomato sauce and arabiata seasoning from vegan food swap parcel) with 2 slices of toast with pure. Followed by a bowl of Neapolitan Swedish Glace.

Snacks: another small bar of chocolate and a sherbet fountain 

Tuesday

Tuesday Lunch

Tuesday Lunch

Tuesday dinner

Tuesday dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Overnight oats

Snacks: Apple, nectarine and small (30g) bar dark chocolate

Lunch: leftover courgette and carrot ‘noodles’ with arabiata tomato sauce

Dinner: Ratatouille with raw cauliflower rice, 2 slices toast and pure.

Snacks: Some Montezuma dark chocolate buttons

 

Wednesday

Wednesday lunch

Wednesday lunch

Toast snack

Toast snack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Overnight oats

Snacks: Apple and nectarine

Lunch: leftover ratatouille with raw cauliflower rice, most of a box of orgran amaretti biscotti, Starbucks soy coffee frapuccino

Dinner: Bento box from somewhere in South Kensington with tofu, rice, root veg salad and seaweed salad. A glass of white wine.

Snacks: Black pepper crisps, 2 slices of toast with pure when I got home.

 

Thursday

Thursday lunch

Thursday lunch

Breakfast: Overnight oats

Snacks: Apple and nectarine

Lunch: bulgar wheat with chopped tofu and raw mushrooms, dressed in sushi vinegar and soy sauce

(I made this late on Thursday night and I think I did an alright job!)

Dinner: Curry Buffet from

Indian Veg Bhelpoori House

Official website: http://theindianveg.wordpress.com/

Address: 92-93 Chapel Market, N1 9EX

Nearest tube: Angel

I always love the food here and have brought a lot of non-vegetarian friends who have enjoyed it too. There are usually at least 2 kinds of curry plus a dal, plain basmati rice, brown rice, or pilau, a salad bar, pakora, poppadum, and awesome poori that taste a bit like vegan Yorkshire puddings. As much food as you like for £5.50 a head. Also it’s BYOB for no extra charge so I had a nice Aspall’s cider from waitrose plus a couple of glasses of red wine.

The décor in this restaurant is also really interesting with facts, articles and statistics about nutrition, mainly along the lines of meat, dairy and alcohol are bad for you, vegans feel healthier. Some might describe this as “vegan propaganda” but I quite like it, as did some of the friends I took this time!

 

Friday

I was a bit ill overnight and was feeling super rough on Friday morning after no sleep. I was inclined to blame the buffet but I think everyone else was fine after the same food so I guess I picked up some kind of bug from using the underground or a cashpoint or something. Anyway, at least it meant I didn’t eat as much as I normally would!

Lunch:  one and a half warburtons sandwich wraps spread with pure (I was in that state of being really hungry but still feeling quite sick so nice plain wheaty food felt like the right way to go)

Snacks: Some strawberries and coconut water, the remains of my Neapolitan Swedish glace.

Neapolitan Swedish Glace

Neapolitan Swedish Glace

Dinner: Pearl barley with summer vegetables.

Friday dinner

Friday dinner

I was out for dinner at the Hawksmoore, Spitalfields celebrating my father-in-law’s 60th. They always make me a nice vegan dish and look after me well, and normally offer an adapted starter and sorbet for pudding too. It’s a very nice place. They also serve amazing cocktails but I still felt too ill for alcohol so just had a few sips of whatever R had (whisky, old-fashioned, red wine, dessert wine) and a diet coke and lots of tap water for me!

So there’s my week of food. I think I definitely have too much sugar but otherwise I think I do ok as a vegan!

Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Another August, another trip to Edinburgh. This year’s recommendations are: James Bran (@ajamesbran)- funny haiku man, Jay Foreman- twee, comedy songs, Luke Wright (@lukewrightpoet) always amazing poetry and Claudia O’Doherty (@ClaudiaODoherty)- I LOVE THIS WOMAN- SEE HER SHOW!

Onto food…

The Auld Hoose, 33-35 St Leonard’s Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9QN

Official Website: http://www.theauldhoose.co.uk/

No photos but this student pub was a winner with me and my parents! Loads of vegan options as well as the standard pub fare, I wish we’d had room to share some vegan nachos! Vegan options on the menu are clearly marked and range from cheesy chips to Burritos, Chilli and a falafel burger.

What I did have, at about 3pm, was the all day veggie breakfast. To make it vegan you substitute the egg in the normal breakfast for one of the other items. R was ordering for me so he doubled up my haggis. Sausages which weren’t a kind I’d had before but were nice crispy mealy ones, awesome veggie haggis patties, mushrooms, hash browns and baked beans. A big plateful and I was stuffed after it!

My mother went for another vegan option, haggis neeps and tatties. Another huge plats with the haggis a bit more broken up than on my breakfast and a good pile of mashed potato and another of mashed turnip, she really enjoyed it too.

Service was pleasant, there was an extensive bar and it was a sweet little pub. I can’t believe I hadn’t been before but it’s up there as a new favourite!

Bonsai, 46 Richmond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DZ

Official Website http://www.bonsaibarbistro.co.uk/

I know, another review of a non-vegetarian restaurant but they do great vegan options and were happy to go and check things with the chef like whether or not the tempura batter had egg in (it didn’t: score!)

I had edamame beans, some nice avocado and red pepper maki rolls, a shitake mushroom hand cone and vegetable tempura:

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Lots to eat and easy to go with friends/family. I always find the waiting staff friendly and they know the food and give recommendations. Also the toilets are really interesting.

The Piemaker, 33 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1LL

Official Website: http://www.thepiemaker.co.uk/

I’m a big fan of this place. On the way to the train station to go home I insisted that we stopped off so I could get a vegan pastie. They normally have at least 2 vegan options on savoury pasties, although I’ve only had fruit ones from there before. I was pretty excited and chose a thai vegetable pastie over the Mediterranean vegetable option.

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Unfortunately, once I started eating this on the train it became apparent that I’d actually been given a garlic mushroom pastie (which were next to the thai veg ones on the shelf) and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t vegan, so R ate it for me and I ate my cake from…

The Baked Potato Shop, 56 Cockburn* Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1PB

*note this is pronounced “Co’burn”, to save your embarrassment…

Official website: https://www.facebook.com/thebakedpotatoshop

I just dropped in at about 10:15am so no baked potato for me but they had a lovely carrot cake labelled vegan and it was indeed awesome. Moist with a slightly lemony creamy topping.

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I’m a massive fan of the baked potato shop. They give huge portions (I think standard is TWO potatoes) have loads of toppings, many vegan including their home-made vegan haggis. Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of this haggis as it has DRIED FRUIT in it and I have some issues with dried fruit in savoury food (I am working on it) but anyway, vegan cake and awesome potatoes and good value. Go there!

Hopefully I will have even more exciting places to eat in Edinburgh in 2014!

August vegan food swap

Another awesome parcel from Sasha

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I requested that it was kept fairly ‘healthy’ this month as I’ve been eating a lot of sugar recently and my body/skin is not thanking me for it. Sasha came up trumps and sent me some lovely healthy snacks.

-Little bag of garlic olives. Lovely, good to have some portion control and easy little bag to carry to work.

-Nims fruit crisps. These were really nice crispy dried pineapple. I hadn’t had them before but I’ll be seeking them out again!

-Amazing white chocolate with freeze dried strawberry. This was so unbelievably good.  And I didn’t feel too bad about eating it as the other stuff was more savoury!

-Seed sprinkles- I ate these from the packet as a mid-morning snack but they’d also be good sprinkled over a salad or houmous.

-Saviour snacks nut and berry mix- with almonds, raisins, goji berries and pumpkin seeds. Great mix. It says on the packet ‘Keep yourself bouncing with this mix’ so I did some bouncing.

-Mushroom ketchup- This is great on baked beans and R used it in a sausage casserole the other day in which it went very well. I also think it would be good in a mushroom risotto. I had tried it once before ages ago and forgotten how good it was. New store cupboard staple.

-mini lovehearts ❤

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

-The best almonds I have ever had!!! They were home soaked-, juicy, succulent and so so tasty. The most satisfying nuts I’ve ever had. I assume that something like tamari was used to flavour them and I must work out how to do this myself.

Thanks, Sasha!

xxx

 

Diet ruined- July’s vegan food swap

I’m a little late on this one, mainly because I lost the photo of my box from @MrsREJC and have been desperately trying to get the picture off my phone memory card to no avail. I can’t quite remember everything that was in it because there was so much! Rachel seems to have got herself a bit of a reputation for sending ridiculous amounts of treats and included a little note promising me that she hadn’t gone over the spend limit and is just a very good bargain hunter! We got the confirmation email one day, I replied to Rachel with my address the next morning and the day after that my awesome parcel arrived!

I will probably have missed some things off but here’s what I received:

luna

White Chocolate macadamia luna bar. I love luna bars and this is my favourite flavour!

oreo

mini bag of oreos. I LOVE OREOS.

Strawberry ‘pencils’– the ones I was sent were definitely vegan but the ones I see in tesco and sainsburys don’t seem to be. They were lovely anyway- strawberry chewy licorice stuff on the outside and a sweet white filling.

nuts

Walkers  sensations smoked paprika nuts- these were really awesome. Just a slight kick and a lovely paprika taste and I do much prefer cashews and almonds to peanuts. Great snack.

pots

2 little pots of topas pate– these were lovely spread on crackers and really handy pots to take in my handbag to work.

Another popcorn cob– I’m not sure where these are coming from but they’re great.

Chocolate ice-cream mix– I haven’t made this up yet but I’m excited about it.

dipdab

A sherbert dip dab. When I’m sad or stressed, R always buys me one of these. Sherbert is amazing!! I loved it.

A pack of dark chocolate digestives– These were amazing! I hadn’t had chocolate digestives before as I’d never found vegan ones. I’m kind of ashamed to admit I managed to eat 6 of them the evening they arrived!

couscous

Merchant Gourmet Moroccan cous cous- This made a quick easy lunch. It was really nice with whole chickpeas in and a pleasant spiced tomatoey sauce.

Some nice chai teabags too.

Great box!! I just wish I could find that photo as it was so hard to angle everything so you could see it all in the picture!

Vegan food swap link