The end of Veganuary

What a sad time it is. Veganuary is over and therefore the happiest time of the year is now over too.

Vegnuary is always exciting for me, as every year it gets bigger and the new foods on offer become more and more readily available. I went vegan nearly 5 years ago now and even 5 years ago the vegan world was a totally different place: the options were limited and they were also not the best tasting. But with every Veganuary the movement grows in popularity, the food becomes tastier and easier to obtain, and the options are also usually cheaper than the non-vegan options.

I hope that Veganuary continues to grow and I can continue to explore this lifestyle as it does. I have loved seeing all of the new vegan foods that are available and thoroughly enjoyed the little trips out to see what is new. In England, it feels as if we have been in Lockdown for a whole year (which, aside from a few months of semi-normality, isn’t far off from the reality) so being able to see that progress is still being made within the Vegan community and wider society has been incredibly uplifting for me. No matter how tough my week has been or how much I miss my friends and my family, I can still order a massive vegan pizza or easily pick up cheap soya milk whenever I want to.

Thank you all for following along with me this month. I cannot believe that I have managed to post something EVERY SINGLE DAY for this month. I am going to take Yet I haven’t even really tried every single new option that is now on the market for vegan food and that still blows my mind. I hope this has brought you a little bit of joy during these dark months and I hope that it also helped inspire you to try some vegan food if you do happen to come across it all.

Here’s to February, to 2021 and to more and more discovery together. Stay safe everyone and I will speak to you all soon!

T xxx

Itsu teriyaki chick’n gyoza

I made sushi earlier this week and I didn’t have much confidence in my ability to make a proper meal with it all. I thought there would be more duds than there were. So I bought these just in case.

I have always been a big fan of Itsu. I have always found that their food has always been fresh and affordable and really filling. Unfortunately I do not live anywhere near an Itsu so have had to go without until they released their frozen range. I was finally bale to have Itsu at home!

These were very good. There are different ways you can cook them and we went with simmering them in water for 5 minutes. I think I may have had the water a bit too hot, as they cooked very quickly and they did start to tear slightly getting them out of the water. That being said, they tasted identical to the ones you can buy in store. You would not have been able to tell the difference. A little bit if soy sauce to dip them in and I was in heaven!

They were also still very filling. Combined with my sushi plate, it was actually a very big dinner by the end of it all. The gyoza was delicate while still having a nice little spice kick in the middle.

Overall: 10/10. Cannot fault these at all. Would happily live of these for the rest of my life.

T xxx

Magnum Salted Caramel ice creams

Another new find! This time some more good Magnum goodies. Also…please do not judge me for how I eat my ice creams. Something about just chomping into a solid ice cream lolly just….unnerves me.

These were meant to be salted caramel flavour and even though they were definitely sweeter than the plain vanilla flavours, I wouldn’t say it tasted any different at all. It didn’t taste like salted caramel. The chocolate cover was.,..just the usual chocolate. The ice cream was, as I said, very sweet, but it didn’t taste of anything more than just sweet vanilla. Personally I think I’d rather just stick to the plain version, as I really don’t see what these add to anything.

Overall: 4/10. Nice enough ice cream, but not salted caramel whatsoever.

T xxx

Gregg’s frozen steak bake

Iceland announced for Veganaury that they would now stock the Gregg’s frozen pastries so that you can make them anytime at home. Honestly…I was far too excited about the prospect of having Gregg’s on demand in my own home. I only live a ten minute walk from a Gregg’s, but if I can avoid going outside (even if COVID wasn’t a thing) then I will try my hardest to do so.

I first decided to try the steak bakes as I personally prefer them to the sausage rolls. They came in a packet of 2 for £2.50, which I think is cheaper than in store (but do not quote me on that!). They take 30 minutes to cook so probably aren’t the quickest of things, but I guess that is the payoff you take when you cook them at home.

They didn’t crisp up too well, but not sure if that is either a) my poor cooking skills or b) by poor oven. They did come out boiling hot – as in molten lava in the middle – so they were definitely cooked. They did also take a fair amount of time to cool down to eating temperature, so I guess that explains why they can sit out on the Gregg’s counter for so long.

I actually preferred these though. The idea of having Gregg’s on hand in my freezer is brilliant, as it means if I ever have a craving for a Gregg’s it means I don’t have to leave the house or go out of my way in order to pick up a pastry. That may sound lazy, but lockdown, rain and snow, leaving the house is meant to be only for necessary reasons and, as much as I love Gregg’s, it isn’t actually necessary. Although depending on how long this lockdown goes on I opinion may change…

Overall: 9/10. The cooking time is counteracted by the convenience of freezer food.

T xxx

Home made vegan sushi

We are still in Lockdown 3.0 in England and as it has also started to rain and snow most days, I am spending my weekends wrapped up warm inside with the heating on and a cup of tea constantly brewing next to me. What better time to perfect my sushi making skills, especially when I can no longer go to my local store to buy some premade packets.

I have made sushi a few times before so I understand the general idea. I am just not….great with it.

You will need:

  • rice – You can buy proper sushi rice, but I only had basmati rice on hand and it worked fine. I overcooked it so that it was a lot ‘mushier’ than normal so was stickier. For me, one cup of rice was enough to make 5 full nori sheets of sushi.
  • a bamboo roller – I bought mine from tesco for about £2
  • Nori sheets – you should be able to find these at any supermarket.
  • fillings – i used thin slices of carrot, cucumber and avocado but you van get as wild as you like.

Making the sushi

  • lay your nori sheets rough side up on your bamboo sheet.
  • Lay a thing layer of rice on about 1/4 of the nori sheet, leaving a finger width from the bottom of the nori sheet (the end closest to you). Other instructions say to put the rice on 2/3 but I found that this just made the sushi too big to roll and never stayed together. Less was definitely more.
  • lay your fillings down the middle of the rice. Again, less is more.
  • wet the opposite end of the nori sheet before rolling. I found this helps the sheet stick together at the end and prevents it from unrolling.
  • roll the sushi – use the bamboo sheet to firmly roll the sushi away from you. As you roll, make sure to press firmly along the entire width of the sushi so that it is level throughout and maintains a consistent shape.
  • Once fully rolled, place on a hard surface and use a sharp (very very sharp!) knife to cut it into even slices. – I actually have really bad knives, so I found that the serated knife (usually used for slicing bread) was better than the actual cutting knives. I found that moving the knife slowly at an angle to the sushi made a much cleaner cut then going straight down.

My first attempt was…bad. Well it tasted absolutely fine, but it was definitely a sushi burrito rather than a cute little sushi roll. Look at this chonk! Poor thing had too much filing and just…exploded.

I found that adding less ingredients actually made it much easier to roll and they also tasted nicer. It was also much easier to get a consistent size and shape the whole time and made much less mess.

Overall I am actually really happy with how this turned out. If you need extra tips, a quick YouTube search shows a lot of far more talented chefs than I making way prettier arrangements than me. But for an amateur, I feel this turned out really well!

T xxx

Wicked! chocolate muffins

Wicked! have really rolled out the baked goods this year and I feel it is my duty to try them all. The donuts were amazing, so you would think that the rest of the goods would also be of that level.

These muffins were huge and seeing as how you get 2 in a pack for £1.50, they are also really good value for money. I have only ever seen bigger muffins and those are the ones you can buy in a Costco tray where the muffin is literally the size of a baby’s head. These Wicked! ones though are a very generous size and good for one person.

They were, however, really really dry. As soon as I opened the packet I was hit with a soft spray of crumbs. The plastic try that they sit in had a layer of crumbs along the bottom and as soon as you so much as breathe on the top of the muffin, the whole thing starts to fall apart. Definitely need a plate under you when you eat these because the crumb fallout was probably enough to make another muffin with.

They do taste good. Or at least, they taste like a chocolate muffin. Nothing too fancy and nothing too bland. They’re ok. Again the main thing against these is just how dry they are. You will definitely need a cup of tea or smoothie or water on hand to wash down the muffin every few bites because it really does cake itself to your mouth and suck all moisture from it.

Overall: 4/10. For being as dry as the desert.

T xxx

Oggs Chocolate Fudge Cakes

If there’s one thing I love, it’s little cakes. Perhaps it is why I love an afternoon tea as much as I do, because I get endless cups of tea plus endless tiny cakes to snack on. So I was very excited to discover these little beauties.

These little cakes are basically big cakes but miniature. If that makes sense. As you can see they are two little cakes slices that are sandwiched together with chocolate frosting. It may come as no surprise to you that these cakes are THICC. They are soft and spongy, but are very stodgy. One cake is definitely enough for one day. They also have this weird moist-ness to them where they almost feel sticky to touch?

They are very yummy though. Definitely can taste the fudge in them and they are very chocolatey. Almost to the point where they can get very rich and very sickly very quickly. Luckily, they do seem to keep really well: I can have a packet for a week and they are still soft and spongy by the fifth day after being opened. Granted I keep them in a tupperware, but they definitely do not seem to lose any of their moisture.

Price wise they are a bit more expensive. I tend to find them for around £3.50, which is more than most cakes. But you do also get 4 little cakes per packet so it does work out quite reasonably priced. I think these would be perfect for parties or afternoon tea spreads because I doubt anyone could eat more than one of these in one sitting – or at least if they did they either have a sugar addiction or a stomach of steel!

Overall: 7/10. Good for what they are, but not something I would buy on a regular basis.

T xxx

Plant Chef pies

Another winter day another pie…this time from Tesco.

I have found that with the Plant Chef range, the meat substitute they use is the same throughout all of their products. So if you like their mince (which I do) then chances are you are going to like the rest of the ‘meat’ ranges. Personally I think the Plant Chef range is a really good range of vegan food, and is all really affordable and a good option for those who are just starting on their vegan journey. Their mince and burgers are some staples in my household.

These pies were also pretty good. Again, they use the same meat substitute as the whole of the plant based range, so it was a nice texture and tasted good. The gravy was also a good thickness, so kept everything moist without soaking through the pastry or making it all soggy.

The downside was that there was barely any filling. The pie was maybe half full. Which was disappointing as it did taste really good and it would have been nice to have some more filling in to compliment the amount of left over pastry. The pie crust was quite dry, so more gravy would have been good to make it not so bland and flaky.

That being said you do also get 4 pies per packet, and with each packet costing £2, it is pretty good value for money. Downside is they are quite small pies so you definitely need to have something else with the pie in order to make a filling meal. Again, because there isn’t that much filling involved, you do end up with a lot of pastry left over.

Overall: 6/10. These are good to have in your freezer if you are ever caught short and want a quick meal, but they aren’t the most satisfying of meals.

T xxx