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

Cadbury’s smooth chocolate plant bar

This is proof that veganism is truly taking off. Cadbury’s – possibly the biggest chocolate maker in the world has released not one but TWO vegan chocolate bars. It is made with almond milk instead of dairy, and I believe the flavours are smooth chocolate and salted caramel. I naturally went with the plain chocolate first to see how the chocolate actually tastes as just a base product.

I could not tell the difference. It tasted EXACTLY how I remember Cadbury bars tasting. It is creamy and smooth and really does just melt away in your mouth. I find that with some vegan chocolate bars they can have that slightly powdery texture to them, but this stuff is super smooth. There really isn’t that much to say about them because they are almost an identical replication of your regular dairy Cadbury bar.

The one downside is that it is a bit thin…I always though Cadbury bars were the thicker of the bars and that’s what made them so good. But this is a lot thinner. Not sure if that is to improve the taste or if it’s just the route they’ve gone with these, but for me I think it would work really well as a proper chunky chocolate.

Here is also hoping that they bring out their full range: popping candy, nuts and…my absolute favourite…fruit and nut! I feel like the chocolate game is about to get serious.

Overall: 9/10. Thicken them up and this is a clear winner!

T xxx

Kings smokey bacon jerky

Now this is a real weird one and not something I would normally ever try. But it is new, it had pretty good reviews online and I fancied being a bit more adventurous. I also hoped that it would stop me cravings sweets in the middle of the day so it was worth a try!

First thing first, the taste: really really good. It does actually taste like bacon – I find vegan bacon can be such a difficult thing to get right and so far brands have not gotten too close to the original. But this stuff tastes really, really good with that rich smokey flavour. So on that front, 10/10. Probably the best ‘bacon’ flavouring I’ve ever come across. I also gave a few pieces to some non-vegan colleagues that they all agreed that you would not be able to tell the difference between this stuff and the non-vegan variety. So definitely a win!

but that texture….oof. So I have never had jerky, so I guess I don’t really have much of a frame of reference for this. I do however know that jerky is basically really, REALLY dehydrated meat that cowboys chew on long horse rides as it lasts ages and yet still tastes like meat. This stuff however, was like chewing an eraser (or for us Brits, a rubber). It was SO chewy, to the point that I actually panicked that I had eaten some of the plastic packaging because even after 20 seconds of chewing, it had not changed it’s shape or consistency at all.

After the first bite though, after I knew what I was expecting, this was actually quite enjoyable. Be warned though after about 3 pieces you do have to take a break because the jaw ache is intense. The pack comes in little chunks of jerky – instead of the long, flat shapes I think jerky usually comes in – but a handful was more than enough to satisfy me for about an hour or two before it was time for lunch.

Price wise it is about £2.50 a packet and the packets are not that big. However you do get a lot of chunks in a packet, so it could easily do you for a good week or so of little snacks. Now on the packet it does say that once opened you need to eat within 24 hours and 1) I don’t know what sort of power jaw you must have to make it through a whole pack in one day without needing medical help and 2) I don’t know if it more to protect the texture of the jerky rather than because it will actually go off. But basically if you plan on buying a packet make sure you can share it with others – unless of course you do have the jaw of a crocodile to cope with that amount of chewing.

Overall: 6/10. Very tasty, but the texture still throws me a little bit.

T xxx

Butterwicks vegan macaroons

One of my absolute favourite foods in the entire world, are macaroons. In my pre-vegan days I could happily eat nothing but macaroons and feel like my life was finally complete. However, the main ingredient in a macaroon is egg white: the egg white is whipped into a soft meringue and then cooked into the little macaroon disks. So, obviously, not suitable for a vegan lifestyle.

To tell you that I have dreamt of this moment would not even be an understatement. There are very few things I have missed since going vegan nearly 6 years ago, but macaroons have always been one of them. While I have found many a lovely afternoon tea, none of them have ever offered a vegan macaroon. So I have sat and stared longingly at the sweet little treats on other people’s plates and prayed to every vegan god out there that one day, a vegan macaroon will come my way.

The wait was worth it. I discovered Butterwicks at a local vegan market and I think I nearly speared the poor owner when I came running over practically in tears I was so excited. They had six flavours on sale that day, however I was informed that they do a total of 16 different flavours online. So yes….you can order yourself some macaroons to come straight to your door. Which is both super exciting and yet (for me anyway) very very dangerous.

I decided to splurge and got myself a pack of 12, with two of each flavour. The flavours I have are:

  • chocolate and orange
  • salted caramel
  • pistachio
  • lemon
  • raspberry
  • double chocolate

These things are just as lovely as I remember. Now if I was to be super nit-picky about it, the shells do not have that standard macaroon texture: The hard outer shell with the soft inner shell (that is almost cakey?), with the ganache in the middle of sandwich two shells together. I found that these vegan ones did not have the chewy middle part of the shell, but honestly that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. The shells have that wonderful crunch when you first bite in, the ganaches are rich and creamy and together the whole thing melts in your mouth. I also believe that these are quite a bit larger than your egg macaroon, which is just an added plus!

Now they are quite expensive – I got £12 for £23. But I would say that macaroons have ALWAYS been expensive because they are such a specialist and decadent little dessert. I have tried to make my own many a time with aquafaba and let’s just say it was a massacre. I have nothing but sheer admiration for pastry chefs who have mastered the macaroon. Personally, I would have paid whatever price they said for vegan macaroons, as they are something I have searched and hoped for since the very start of my vegan journey. I would recommend everyone try these at least once because no matter what, you will feel like true royalty eating such a decadent little treat.

Overall: All time favourite. Hands down winner. Nothing will ever beat this. This is just proof that veganism is a force all of its own. I doubt I will eat anything else but these for the rest of my life now.

T xxx

Fancy Plants salted caramel pots

In an attempt to look after my health, I have been trying to find a healthy yet still tasty treat that satisfies my sugar cravings without causing me to eat an entire packet of biscuits. I found these at Tesco and decided to give these a go.

The texture is not what I was expecting. It is like a really, really thick yogurt. Now there’s nothing wrong with that at all, but when you first put your spoon in it feels somewhat whipped, so you almost expect it to be very light and fluffy. As I say nothing bad about that, just be prepared.

Taste wise, it’s alright. I found it a bit too salty in comparison to the caramel part, so it was a bit too savoury for my liking. And also not at all what I had expected. Like I say it tastes nice, but it isn’t sweet. Make of that what you will. The pots look quite small, but one pot was more than enough. They’re nice, but definitely not something that would get rid of my sugar cravings.

Price wise they are quite expensive – I found these for £3. The pots as I say are quite small, and while the portion is more than enough for one person, they are still quite expensive for how much you actually get. They were nice enough to try but personally, not really mu cup of tea. Also, what is it with every vegan brand out there only offering salted caramel deserts? In this day and age I feel like brands need to start pushing the limits a little bit and trying flavours that are not just salted caramel.

Overall: 4/10. Pretty bland and somewhat overpriced for what you get.

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

NaNaWriMo 2021

It is the 1st November which means one thing…

It’s National Novel Writing Month!!!

NaNoWrimo 2021 - Facebook Banner - Design by Andrea Floren

I was first introduced to NaNoWriMo about 5 years ago and since then every November there has been an attempt for me to write 50,000 in the month. This works out to roughly 1700 words a day – which may not sound like a lot but actually is quite challenging when your brain just can’t write words that day.

If you enjoy writing then I find that NaNo is a wonderful opportunity to really push yourself creatively, and it also allows you to create a writing habit. I have worked out over the years what my writing style is like, and also how I best focus when it comes to writing.

NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organisation and honestly everyone I have spoken to and interacted with regarding NaNo have been absolutely lovely. They have so many resources to help you write, so that even if you have never written anything before you would feel completely prepared to take on a 50,000 word challenge. They have some really useless prep tips and writing exercises to use if you ever find yourself in a writing slump, and the forums allow you to connect with other people who are also attempting to write 50,000 words.

Before Covid struck, regional and local groups would hold face to face ‘write ins’ where you would meet up with a load of people and help encourage each other with the writing. I only managed to go to one of these write ins and thanks o their support and guidance – plus just the really lovely atmosphere of creativity and expression – I was able to write about 10,000 words in just one sitting! Unfortunately Covid has put an end to all of these, however local groups will still be running virtual write ins and social events throughout November so you can still take part in the social aspect of it all.

Personally, I absolutely love NaNoWriMo. Every year I am always so inspired by the talks they bring out, and to see so many others talk so passionately about their stories, that I am always super keen to take part. Last year though, 2020 really did a number on me mentally so while I still stayed informed about everything happening with NaNo, I didn’t take part in it. And I really did miss it. It feels really nice to have a challenge again that is so creative.

If you want more information and want to take part, their website is www.nanowrimo.org. As they are a charity they do ask for donations, but it is not mandatory. You can sign up and access all of their resources completely free of charge. The people who take part (and run it) are all super supportive, and just seem to be passionate about people writing and – most importantly – having fun while writing. Yes this is a challenge, but it is meant to be fun above all else. Who cares if you end up writing 50,000 words of absolute carnage story, so long as you had heaps of fun writing it!?

I hope I can see some of you guys there, but I also apologise if my posts get super sporadic! I shall do my best but…we shall see!

T xxx