Pudding Stop vegan cookie dough sundae

Oh damn…

Now THIS is how you do a dessert. I think this gave me enough sugar to last me for a good few months but goodness me was it delicious!

A few weeks ago, during some annual leave, we took a trip to St Albans in Hertfordshire. If you have never been, I would highly recommend you visit because St Albans is a beautiful little city. I mean it is technically a city because you have the amazing St Albans Cathedral, but it feels far more like a village. The high street is packed with little boutique shops, patisseries, book stores and independent restaurants as well as some of your more mainstream chains. It also has some lovely cobblestone side paths that are fun to explore and feels very compact – could easily spend a whole day just wandering around all of the little streets and looking at the adorable cottages that line the streets. It’s also a 30 minute train to London Bridge so can easily make a lovely day trip or long weekend visit. There are a lot of pretty parks to walk around and a lot of roman heritage throughout – most notably being the fact that it is based at the top of a really big hill so you can get some really lovely views at certain points around the city.

Aside from all of the history and cute little boutiques to keep you busy, it also has one of the best pudding places I have ever been to. It is called the Pudding Stop and is always a must visit when we do venture out to St Albans. The city as a whole is really good for vegan options, and they do actually run a vegan market down the main high street at certain points of the year which is always very exciting. The pudding stop have some very good vegan options, and I decided to try once of these.

I will preface this with the fact that I felt like a hummingbird after eating this, but I had also done around 15000 steps so felt it was a reasonable treat. The vegan cookie dough sundae had one scoop of coconut and chocolate chip ice-cream, one scoop of chocolate sorbet, caramel sauce and chunks of cookie dough. Now the coconut ice cream was nice enough but the chocolate sorbet was to die for. It was rich and silky and had a slightly bitter taste to it compared to the other super sweet parts of the sundae, which actually helped offset a lot of the sickly sweetness. The rest is exactly how you would expect: cookie dough was literally small chunks of cookie dough and the caramel sauce was the sweet sauce you’d expect.

I was grateful that they do not give you too many cookie dough chunks as I am pretty certain they were just lumps of sugar. As I say above the chocolate sorbet was the real star of the show and did help to mellow out the overly sweet flavours of everything else. The ice cream was very refreshing and you did get a real hit of coconut with it, which I think I preferred. Sometimes coconut ice cream (at least I feel anyway) can have so many things added to it that it doesn’t actually taste like coconut, so it was really nice to have this creamy and sweet ice cream that did taste like it was freshly made.

This sundae cost £5, which I have to say was an absolute bargain for the amount you get. It does not sound like much but they are very generous with their scoop sizes and I did find it quite the struggle to finish. And not just because I felt like I could see sound I was so buzzed! It was fantastic quality and I feel if you were trying to get something similar to this in London or a much larger main city it would cost you at least double (if not triple) that price for way less actual product. As a special one off treat, this is completely worth the price and I would highly recommend it if you do stop by.

Overall: 9/10. Absolutely delicious, but not something I could eat on a regular basis. But absolutely worth the one off treat.

T xxx

Fry’s Popcorn chick’n

I have heard great things about Fry’s, but unfortunately in the UK the brand is quite hard to come by in regular stores. Usually I only see it on offer at the very expensive and very niche places, such as Whole Foods or Ocado. However in the last few months I have started to see some of their products appear in regular grocery stores, so I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about.

One of our go to meals is our medley. This is usually what we have if we don’t feel too hungry, or just want a load of different comfort foods without it actually being a meal. So this will usually involve chicken nuggets, a sandwich of some sort and some crisps, although we do change the brand and the product every week depending on what we fancy. The majority of the food is frozen, as I think it is always best to have these super easy foods available on days where I either don’t want to cook or don’t want anything massive for dinner. So these little popcorn chicken pieces sounded perfect to just have in the freezer should one of those days arise.

These are also very good. They are light and fluffy on the inside and definitely have that meaty texture. Now there is still a degree of ‘this is clearly fake meat’ because I personally don’t like my meat alternatives to be super meat-like – it always makes me panic that I am indeed eating meat and then I feel guilty even though I know that it isn’t meat. So for me these were the perfect texture, but if you prefer the more meaty texture then you may not like these too much. Now the instructions do say to only cook these for 10 minutes, but I found that 10 minutes was not long enough to crisp up the outside. The first time I cooked them, after 10 minutes the outside was a bit soft still and while it still tasted very nice, I would have preferred it to be a bit crispier. I now therefore cook these for about 15 minutes – until each piece starts to look a darker brown rather than the golden brown – and I find that this makes the outside nice and crispy and also doesn’t dry out the chicken filling. That being said, my oven is not the best oven, so you may need to experiment a bit when you come to cooking these so you can get the perfect time.

Price wise these were actually on Tesco Clubcard offer for £1.50, but full price they are £3. We got about 4 servings out of the box (roughly 6/7 pieces for each serving) so not a bad amount of food for the price. However, I do not think it does anything different to the cheaper options out there. Personally, popcorn chicken tastes exactly like a chicken nugget to me, so I don’t really notice any difference on what shape my chicken takes. So while this popcorn chicken is very good and definitely worth a try, there are cheaper options out there in the form of nuggets, strips or plain pieces. Personally, I probably would pick these up again to keep them in my freezer for those days when we don’t fancy cooking, but it isn’t something I would eat every single week.

Overall: 7/10. A solid option out there, but nothing too special.

T xxx

PHD Smart protein mousse

I have tried the PHD range of protein before and they remain one of my favourite ranges out there. The protein mixes well and the taste is very true to what flavour it claims to be on the front. Now that I am starting to work out more and focus on my macros, I decided to start having some protein around the house again for those days when I feel a little bit sore or feel like I need to top up my protein values.

Now the packet does say that you can mix the powder with less water and it will become a mousse. It does actually recommend to do this with milk but I completely missed that part and so did it with just water.

It did thicken up really well and definitely had that mousse texture. It wasn’t as light and bubbly as a mousse, but that may have been my mixing technique and the fact that I mixed it with a fork. Perhaps if I tried it with an actual whisk it may have worked a bit better? Either way the consistency was mousse like.

Texture wise however it did not win. The problem with protein powder is that it is powder – you need a fair amount of water to really make it all dissolve and to remove that horrible grainy texture that so many other powders tend to have. As such, the mousse, while it did taste nice, it was so grainy I may have just been eating spoonfuls of dry powder. Maybe with milk it smooths it out a lot more but the water was definitely not a pleasant experience.

Good news though was that it didn’t thicken it up so much that it wouldn’t mix further once more water was added. I ended up just adding more water and having a regular shake and that solved the grainy issue completely.

Overall: 3/10. Protein good, mousse bad.

T xxx

Oatly whippable vanilla custard

To start with, I have never actually liked custard. I never liked the taste or he texture and no matter what custard always had that gross skin across the top of it, so I made sure to avoid custard like nothing else. HOWEVER, my partner and I had his parents round for dinner the other weekend and as they are a family of custard lovers we decided to try this new stuff.

I also haven’t tried Oatly too much, mainly because their milks are double the price of most other brands and taste no different. But I have heard very good things about them – I think their barista range of milks are one of the few vegan milks that doesn’t split when mixed with boiling hot coffee. Plus their marketing team always come out with genius campaigns that are always a delight to see. My personal favourite being the ‘it’s like milk, but for humans’ which was used to promote their milks.

I only realised this when I got home but our electric whisk has been swallowed by our kitchen and for the life of me I have not been able to find it anywhere. So I did attempt to try and whip it by hand. I have done this before with cream so I thought it would be mostly the same, but let me tell you after about 45 minutes I lost all interest. And feeling in my hand. So if you are going to try this, please let me know how the ‘whippable’ part goes for you because I am intrigued.

Now I remember custard always being a lot more like yogurt – very thick and sweet. But this stuff was a lot thinner in texture and wasn’t overly sweet either. It had the very slight vanilla flavour to it but nothing strong or overpowering. I had this with apple and strawberry crumble, and the custard actually helped to dilute a bit of the sweetness from the apple and the strawberries, without really changing the overall flavour. It was therefore a nice addition to the dessert, but not nice enough for me to want to each it with every single dessert moving forward.

Price wise, it is pretty expensive. Again the vegan tax hits Oatly hard: This packet of 250ml cost £2.50. Which is just….insanely expensive. Now you can buy a ready to mix packet of dairy custard for about 70p in most stores, so the vegan tax is very powerful. That being said, it costs the same as the Elmlea vegan cream and the Food Heaven whipped cream so perhaps it is fairly priced for the product. From looking at my local shelves, this is one of the few vegan custards out there and vegan creams in general seem to be very few and far between. So maybe this price is purely a starting figure, and once demand for the product picks up then the price will slowly be lowered. That may be wishful thinking, but I live in hope!

Overall: 6/10. It is a good option, but for me I cannot justify that price for any weekly dessert. Special occasions only I think for now!

T xxx

Pancake Day 2022

Here in England we have what is known as Pancake Day. It is actually Shove Tuesday and is the last day before Lent starts on the Ash Wednesday. Lent is the 40 day period which leads us up to Easter and is meant to be the time where you give up bad habits for 40 days. Somehow, the religious holiday turned into everybody making pancakes. Traditionally Lent is meant to be a period of fasting, so you needed to use up all perishable goods prior to Lent. This usually meant using up products such as flour, eggs and milk. So naturally pancakes are probably the easiest thing you can make to use those ingredients up.

Now I am not religious in any way, so for me Pancake Day is just a perfect excuse to have pancakes for dinner and nobody can judge you. In many years I may have even had pancakes for multiple meals in a day. What is not to love!?

So in order for you all to also enjoy some wonderful vegan pancakes, I am sharing my two ingredient pancake recipe that I swear by. Now please bear in mind that when I think of pancakes I think of the thick, fluffy American style pancakes. The very thin and big pancakes I always think of as crepes – like the french delicacy. This recipe will work for both but I mainly use this to make the thick fluffy kind rather than the thin crispy kind.

You can add whatever you want to these pancakes too. The batter itself is very plain, in the hope that you can then add fruit, chocolate or anything else you fancy to it without the pancake batter being overpowering at all. My favourite go to is lotus biscoff spread and bananas because…well nothing ever beats banana and biscoff!

I hope you all have a lovely meal and if you are religious and participating in Lent, then I hope your fasting and meditation brings you new clarity and contentment. If you are not celebrating, then enjoy the yummy pancakes and if you come up with any fantastic combinations please let me know so I can too try them!

T xxx

Vegan tuna and sweetcorn recipe

Not sure if this really counts as a recipe as it is literally 3 ingredients and it takes absolutely zero skill to be able to make, but it has been quite the game changer for me so I thought I would share!

This recipe makes roughly 8 servings: If you want more/less, then just amend the amounts.

You will need

  • a standard tin of chickpeas (mine was 300g)
  • a standard tin of sweetcorn (mine was 150g)
  • 4 tablespoons of vegan mayonaise
  • OPTIONAL – two tablespoons of nutrional yeast
I find Follow Your Heart mayo better than the Hellman’s but of course it is totally up to you.
  1. Drain the chickpeas and the sweetcorn. I also give them a quick rinse with cold water just to get rid of any residue liquid on them. If you also wanted another project, you can save the water from the chickpea tin (known as aquafaba) and use it in all sorts of recipes. I hear it works very well as a mousse but I have not yet had a chance to try it.
  2. Once drained, put the chickpeas into a bowl and loosely mash them. You can mash to your own preference, but I personally like them to be quite chunky. I also use a fork as it is much easier than a potato masher to handle.
  3. Once all of your chickpeas are mashed, add in the sweetcorn and give it a thorough mix.
  4. Once mixed, add your tablespoons of mayonnaise. I found four tablespoons to be slightly too little, but as I was having it for sandwiches during the week, I didn’t want anything too wet or it would soak through the bread. If you are using this to make a pasta though, I recommend using maybe 5 tablespoons to get that nice creamy texture.
  5. An optional choice, but nutritional yeast makes everything taste better. It is somewhat nutty in flavour so I find it takes off the vinegary tang of the mayo quite nicely. Nutritional yeast is also very helpful for anyone who is on a vegan or vegetarian diet, as it is high in iron and B12. If you’ve never tried it before, I highly recommend you do. It is absolutely mind-blowing on avocado toast or in tofu scramble!

And there you have it! It takes maybe 5 minutes to prep and as I say I get about 8 sandwiches out of this. Keep it in the fridge to make sure it lasts, and of course feel free to experiment with it. I have seen some recipes that use white beans in place of chickpeas, which apparently gives you a much smoother paste than chickpeas do. As someone who used to be quite partial to a tune and sweetcorn jacket potato, this stuff tastes pretty much identical (at least from my memory!) and it is most likely far healthier for you too.

Nutritional yeast – usually £3 in supermarkets

If anyone has any other fun recipes for me to try please let me know! I am trying to get more into cooking and experimenting more with my food, so any help will be greatly appreciated.

T xxx

Wicked Kitchen shittake ramen broth kit

I know I know…I am not usually a fan of Wicked. Every other product of theirs I have tried has used far too much spice and has, for the most part, been pretty uninspired. However I have found that while their pre-made food leaves much to be desired their sauces, desserts and spice kits tend to be pretty passable. So in an attempt to try some new meals I decided to give this a go.

Now we have a pretty sturdy home recipe for a great ramen meal (recipe coming soon I promise!) but wanted to see how it compared to other recipes out there. You would assume that anything you can buy in store must have something special added to it so that you buy it rather than making it yourself. Right?

So the pack came with the broth packet and a packet of dried mushrooms and extra dried vegetables to add to the broth. You still have to supply your own noodles, protein and any other vegetables that you may want to add to it. The instructions are easy to follow and it was a quick meal that didn’t taste like a quick meal. We added our usual favourites to the ramen broth (pak choi, extra mushroom, some What the Cluck chicken pieces, and some tenderstem broccoli) and let it simmer away as we waited for the noodles to cook. The broth packet, in my opinion anyway, didn’t have enough liquid to it. We ended up adding an extra cup of water just to give us some actual broth as it was looking quite thick just on its own.

The overall taste is very earthy – it is mushroom based so obviously it is very rich. Now we did add some water to the broth and yet it still tasted very rich, so can only imagine how strong it would have been just as it came in the packet! That aside, you do have to add a lot of your own stuff to it which is both good and bad: Good as it allows you make a dish that you know you’re going to enjoy because you’re adding what you like, but it is bad in that all you are really getting with the packet is a broth base and you can find n easy to follow recipe online for free. Also if you have never tried making a ramen before, you may not know to add other vegetables or a source of protein (tofu also works well in ramens) to the mix and therefore it could be quite a unsatisfying meal.

This packet (plus our added water) made roughly 3 servings – two normal sizes and then two far smaller sizes if either of us wanted seconds. The kit itself cost £3 so it isn’t exactly expensive. So if you are looking to try making your own ramen at home than this kit is a really good starting point to experiment with what you enjoy and what flavours you aren’t too keen on.

Overall: 6/10. It’s fine as a base, but can still be adapted to suit your own preferred flavours.

T xxx

Garden Gourmet burgers

I think I may have found the best burger…

I had not seen these on sale before, but had heard good things about the range as a whole. So I gave them a try, wanting something different to my usual Meatless Farm burger. Oh boy were these a treat and a half!

I found these to be the perfect medium between the Meatless Farm burger and the Beyond Meat burger. Personally, I found the Beyond Meat burger TOO meat-like. It was very juicy and the texture was almost too close to actual meat for my liking. So while I can attest that the Beyond Meat are indeed very good burgers, as someone who doesn’t like the texture or look of actual meat they were a bit too realistic for my liking. The Meatless Farm burgers are also very yummy, but do run the risk sometimes of being a little too dry – they definitely need cheese or a sauce in order to make them an elite burger.

But the Garden Gourmet were amazing! They were just the right amount of juicy, so you didn’t end up making a massive mess down yourself when taking a bite, but not so juicy that they almost ‘bled’ when they cooked the way the Beyond Meat burgers do. The texture was also perfect – slightly chewier than the Meatless Farm Burgers but not so chewy that you actually question if it is real meat you are eating. As I say, for my own personal preference, this is exactly what I want in a burger, so I would highly recommend you try these if you enjoy the Beyond Meat but don’t want to pay the Beyond Meat price tag for hem.

I bought this pack for £3 so it is on the slightly pricier side of meat-free burgers out there, but when compared to the £5 price tag of the Beyond Meat option this actually seems like a true bargain! You also get two burgers in a pack, so if it is just you you’re cooking for, that’s two very tasty meals sorted. I also feel that this would be the right type of protein that you could have just on it’s own – similar to how you may have eaten steak I guess? – with just some veg and chips or something like that. It really doesn’t need much added to it for it to be tasty so anything you do add just amplifies it up another level. I had it with some This Isn’t bacon strips and some Violife mozzarella squares and – OH MY – words cannot express how good these are.

Overall: 10/10 so far as I am concerned, but 9/10 for those who like their meat-alternatives to be as close as possible to the original meat version.

T xxx

Wok’N’Go sweet and sour vegan box

This is a totally new brand for me! They have just opened a new restaurant near me and the other weekend we finally decided to pop down and try it out. I have heard that the food is pretty good, and that it works in the same way as Subway, but for noodles instead of sandwiches. The restaurant also had a massive ‘vegan’ sticker across their front window so I was very easily sold!

Looking at the menu they seem to have pre-made boxes that you can just select, or you can completely make your own. It seems that each ingredient is a different price (so if you wanted vegan chicken and vegan duck, you would have to pay for each one) but they do have a huge selection of ingredients. I think I saw at least 4 different types of noodles and too much veg to even look through. As I mentioned they also seemed to have vegan chicken, duck and beef, as well as the proper fried tofu – the type that you can never recreate at home that is super light and fluffy but also chewy? That type of tofu.

I decided to try the sweet and sour vegan box to start with. I find that is normally a very safe option to start with if you’re ever unsure. They did have a green Thai curry which sounded very nice, but being the wimp I am I wasn’t quite ready to face the heat just yet! Maybe next time?

For one thing the boxes are HUGE. I only had a regular and it was a struggle to finish. My partner chose a large and I think he nearly went into a carb coma there was so much food packed into the box. One of the cool parts though is that you can watch them cook your food in front of you: You select what you want, they add all the ingredients into a box and then someone will stir fry it all together is a massive wok in front of you. Which is a lot more entertaining than watching someone make your sandwich! It also tasted lovely, so added even more to it.

I had my box with rice noodles, tofu, broccoli, peppers and carrots which was then all stir fried with the sweet and sour sauce. It was BOILING hot when I first tried it – to the point I actually had a brunt lip for about 4 days afterwards – so don’t be impatient like me…definitely wait a minute for it to cool down slightly. As I say it was TON of food but it was delicious. It also tasted really fresh, as though it had all been freshly prepared that morning. The only downside was I would have liked a little bit more sauce, as the flavouring was quite dull with the amount they used. But otherwise…big fan!

As I say the food did taste very fresh, so while I felt full after I finished the box, I didn’t feel greasy or bloated. I also found it kept me full until about 8pm that night when we actually started to think about dinner. When compared to the likes of Subway or Tortilla, I think the Wok’N’Go options are probably slightly healthier than the others. Price wise though, they are the most expensive. We got two boxes and two drinks and it cost about £20. Which for a takeaway is still quite pricey, but I also think I would rather pay slightly more for the better quality than to cheap out and feel hungry again in about 3 hours. I believe the boxes seem to range from between £8-£11, but if you go for a ‘build you own’ type box then the price seems to skyrocket to about £13-£15 depending on what ingredients you add to it.

Now this is literally the only one I have tried so far, but will definitely be going here more often!

Overall: 7/10. A really great find, and will definitely be back to test some of the other flavours!

T xxx

Linda McCartney’s tomato and basil meatballs

I think I have found the meatball of all meatballs. The best of the best. In the ranking of vegan meatballs, these are currently top of the board.

Linda McCartney is normally a pretty sure thing: No matter what you choose from the entire range, it’s going to be good. The food isn’t amazing, but it is consistently high quality. I always make sure to have some of the mince or the chicken pieces in my freezer because they add that little bit of protein and little extra something to a meal without much effort.

These were tomato and basil flavoured meatballs, so in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have used them in a tomato and basil sauce. They are really good though. They taste like spaghetti (probably easiest way to describe the flavour) without having any overpowering flavours. The texture is also a lot lighter and softer than most other meatballs: I find with meatballs they tend to be really solid, chewy balls that can end up being very stodgy and filling. But these ones almost crumble when you eat them. They maintain their shape really well so don’t worry about them falling off your fork or anything, but they really do seem to melt in your mouth and are very light and airy meatballs.

Price wise, Linda McCartney is a bit pricier than others on the market. Being one of the first brands to even offer vegetarian food (let along vegan!) meant they could charge whatever they liked and people would have to buy them as they were really the only option. But nowadays there are so many options out there, they need to start being a bit more competitive. Now you do get 15 meatballs in a bag, and as they are frozen they can easily do you about 4-5 meals, without any need to eat them all quickly before they go off. Definitely a good thing in my book and will definitely be picking these up for those emergency meal plans.

Overall: 10/10. So far the winners in the meatball race.

T xxx