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

PSA: Choccy Dodgers!

A lady at work bought these in and turns out they are also vegan friendly! They are basically Jammie Dodgers…but with chocolate instead of jam. They are made by Jammie Dodgers so really there isn’t anything special about them, aside from the fact that they have chocolate in the middle.

Have any of you guys tried BN Biscuits? They are these sandwich cookies from France that are square, have a smiley face on the front and have a chocolate filling in the middle. My family I and used to go camping in Northern France a lot when I was little, and these cookies were a staple of those holidays. They are not vegan friendly, plus I think you can only buy them in France or via Amazon, but these new Choccy Dodgers genuinely take me back and are a nice little reminder of past holidays.

Not really ,much to say about these…they are Jammie Dodgers, but with chocolate. Personally, I do prefer the jam ones as an overall biscuit, but just for pure nostalgia reasons these chocolate ones are good. Give them a go!

Overall: 6/10. Chocolate biscuit, not really much to them, but a fun new addition to the vegan selection.

T xxx

Slug and Lettuce vegan mac’n’cheeze

I have been meaning to go to a Slug and Lettuce for some time, but as the one nearby is the only one for quite some miles, it is always heaving with people. But I lucked out this week, as it seems with the bank holiday weekend, people have had their fill of bars and cocktails and we actually managed to get a table.

They do have a few vegan options (nothing amazing but there are choices) but I decided to try the vegan mac’n’cheeze. As you can see, the portion was huge! It came with the side salad and ‘bread rocks’ which were just very very big croutons. I don’t know how I was meant to eat these because they were literally rock hard. When I did manage to bite down, the rocks did taste quite nice, but I also fear I chipped a tooth so….maybe not again?

The mac itself was brilliant. It was creamy and cheesy and just the perfect comfort food. The downside was though the BBQ sauce drizzled on top. At first, it added quite a nice sweetness to the very savoury cheese sauce, but by about half way through the BBQ sauce was just completely overpowering. By the end it was just very sickly, to the point I couldn’t even finish it. Which is such a shame because the cheesy mac alone was so good!

Now the Slug and Lettuce is, at it’s heart, a pub. It is a very pretty pub and is definitely higher class than your regular pub, but it is still quite pub-like. The main focus is on drinks – they offer a drinks tree, which looked very cool, I have to admit – so it doesn’t surprise me that the food isn’t completely stellar. That being said it is definitely higher class pub food, in that it is clearly cooked rather than microwaved and the food actually has full flavours. Price wise, it is therefore a bit pricier than most other pubs, but I do think it is very reasonable for the amount of food you get and the quality of the food.

Overall: 5/10. Way too overpowering.

T xxx

Plant Pioneers no sausage rolls

Another week, another sausage roll. Don’t get me wrong I am all for this wide range of options, but could we possible get a few different options now? Would a pasty hurt anyone?

I finally made the trek down to our local Sainsbury’s and I must admit that their vegan range, Plant Pioneers, looked pretty good. They had mine, chicken pieces, sausage rolls, burgers and sausages as well as decent range of ready meal options. If I was a smarter woman I would of taken a bigger bag with me!

I thought the sausage rolls would be the safest option, as I have plenty of reference to compare them to.

I was a little disappointed.

Personally, I found the actual sausage bit to be the same as every other. It was good, but nothing that different to what you can get anywhere else. But the actual pastry bit was SO DRY. I cooked it for the 25 minutes that was recommended, and that felt like a bit of overkill. The pastry did crumble but it also sucked all water from my body in the first bite so…the rest was a struggle.

I think I only managed to finish about 1/3 of it before dehydration began to settle in.

Granted, there are so many options out there now it can be hard to really do anything special with a sausage roll. But this was quite a disappointing addition to the mix. I would like to try the other Plant Pioneer range though to see if this was just a dud.

Overall: 1/10. May as well just lick sand…

T xxx

Alpro mango yogurt

It is currently 27 degrees in England, which is always a shock for us Brits. I also stand by the fact that British heat is not the same as any other type of heat. In the US and the Mediterranean, you at least have a cooling breeze on you (at least form my experience). Not in England. It is just heat….constant, unwavering heat. As someone who is always cold, this is actually a very welcome change, but for most of the people I know this heat is just too bizarre for us to cope with.

Another upside to the heat is that it means I can have cold breakfasts again that isn’t cereal. in winter, I live off of warm breakfasts, but when it is so hot outside you do not want porridge. I am also trying to be a bit healthier in my meals so am looking out for some fun ways to spice up rather dull options.

I am someone who could live off of fruit forever. I would never go so far as to be fully raw, but I would very happily gorge myself on fruit if given half the chance. But in an attempt to spice up my fruit salad in the mornings, I gave Alpro yogurt a try.

I love mangoes, but I always find that when a product says it is ‘fruit flavoured’, it usually means it is barely flavoured like the thing it says it should be flavoured as. This tub was mango flavoured, but I didn’t really get that much mango. It was sweeter than the plain yogurt, but if I had blindly tasted it I would never have guessed mango. It did have tiny little chunks of mango in it, but these were so mushy it tasted just like the yogurt anyway.

It’s also a bit of a weird colour. It is sort of yellow. Kind of beige. Either way it is not the most appealing of colours. My picture doesn’t really show it too well but it is almost a dirty mustard colour. So if you are someone who eats with your eyes just be aware that this colour is not the most appealing. It also gave everything a slightly bitter taste: The fruit was super sweet, while the yogurt was a bit tangy. Which meant it all sort of levelled out to being quite bland.

Overall: 4/10. Probably best to stick with your plain yogurt really…

T xxx

Moser Roth vegan chocolate

Since the EPIC betrayal of Tesco changing their recipe of their chocolate orange bar, I have been searching for a good chocolate replacement. One that doesn’t cost a load of money but still manages to taste like chocolate. There are a lot of options out there now, so I feel it is only my duty to check these out one by one.

I have never heard of Moser Roth, but they had quite the selection (I saw selection – there were 3 options that I saw, but that’s still a fair amount compared to some other brands) so I thought I would try them. They also state that the brand is rain forest certified cocoa and fair trade, so it also makes me happy to think that I am supporting a brand that is actively trying to do good.

It was unfortunately quite underwhelming. Like it tastes nice….but that’s it. It also tastes powdery. The chocolate itself was actually quite smooth, so I am not sure how it got that weird powdery aftertaste in it. But I find with some of the cheaper brands this does tend to happen. Perhaps it is something to do with the quality of ingredients? Or the manufacturing process? Whatever it is, it’s just a bit meh.

It also wasn’t overly chocolatey. I get that the chocolate has to be watered down (or milked down?) to make it milk chocolate, and so it isn’t super bitter, but you still want it to taste like chocolate. And this one just didn’t really. It tasted like a synthetic chocolate. If you’ve ever had a protein cookie or one of those ‘healthy’ treats that claims to ‘taste like chocolate’, that is the flavour I am referring to.

Overall: 4/10. It shall do for now…but the search for good chocolate continues!

T xxx

Easter Egg Chocolates

Yes, I am aware that I am very late to this. But one of the harsh realities of adult life is that no one buys you an Easter egg anymore. You have to make an active effort to go out to the shops to pick one up. And did I do that in time? No I did not.

I was, however, slightly spoiled as I was actually gifted both of these by some lovely bigger adults in my life. But I also didn’t actually get to eat them until Easter had already passed because…again….adult life really gets in the way sometimes.

Now is it just me or is Easter egg chocolate different to actual chocolate. I don’t know if it’s how it is made or how it is only brought out once a year, but it just tastes different to your regular every day chocolate. Sometimes this is good, and sometimes this is bad. I don’t know what it is but Easter egg chocolate always seems like a really special, treat chocolate that you only get once a year. Maybe that’s how they keep demand up?

I love Nomo chocolates. Their chocolate bars are easily my favourite around so I was very excited to finally break into this. Oddly enough, it doesn’t really taste of much. Like yes it is chocolate but…not much of it. The Egg did come with a regular chocolate bar, and that was the usual creamy melty goodness that I love Nomo for. But the Egg was just…just a bit meh. Not really much of anything. That being said it did taste exactly like regular dairy milk Easter eggs did, so I suppose that is a good thing if you want something identical to the original.

Now M&S….very quick question…why this shape? Why would you make an Easter egg shaped like an eggplant?! We all know what the eggplant emoji means. So why would I want a chocolate version? Can’t quite wrap my head around that marketing idea.

Not to make anymore jokes about it….but this ‘egg’ was pretty thick. Usually with chocolate eggs they are quite thin so that they are easy to break, but this one really did take quite the beating (not like that, you nasty!) to crack it open in the end. It was very rich too. Like a true, dark chocolate richness that I feel most vegan chocolate now steers away from. It was really nice to actually have a vegan chocolate that wasn’t trying to be a copy of dairy milk chocolate. It wasn’t an overpowering bitterness but just enough of a kick that you didn’t feel super sick after eating a load of it. M&S are hard to fault with their vegan bits so I am not surprised at all that this one was my preferred option.

In summary though, I think Easter Eggs are a bit of a scam. I believe the Nomo was about £10 and the M&S one I can only imagine to be roughly the same price. Now you can buy a normal Nomo bar for 99p usually. If given the option of one egg, or 10 chocolate bars, I think we all know which we would prefer! Now hopefully these prices will go down as demand for the vegan alternatives increase, and it is for that reason alone that I would suggest buying one of these next Easter. But if you can not afford the Easter egg, or aren’t sure if someone will even like it, I suggest just buying the regular bars. Not only will you get way nicer chocolate (with nuts and berries and crispy bits too!), but you also get way more chocolate overall.

Overall: M&S wins in the Easter battle, but I am also glad that this was only around for a limited time. Much better options available for a fraction of the price throughout the entire year.

T xxx

M&S Southern Fried Chicken Strips

I think it goes without saying that M&S are absolutely killing it with their vegan range. It seems every time I go in, there is a new product for me to try. And being the kind vegan that I am, I just have to try it all.

These were a pleasant find, mainly because you don’t find many meat substitutes in M&S. At least not on their own. They do a few vegan ready meals but I haven’t really seen any stand alone vegan meats: Like chicken or ham or mince. Those sort of things. So finding these southern fried strips was very exciting.

These are, again, very good. M&S is quite consistently high standard, so honestly it is hard to find anything in there that won’t be good. These chicken strips are…meaty. They are definitely thick and they do have that very meaty texture to them. Personally, I don’t overly mind the texture – it has been so long since I actually ate meat (I think i’m coming up to about 12 years meat free!) that I don’t actually remember what animal meat tastes like. So make of the texture what you will.

The downside to them is that they do not hold together very well. The ‘skin’ is really nice and crispy, and the inside ‘meat’ is thick and flaky, but no matter how we cook them the skin will always fall off of the meat. I am not sure if that is a deal breaker or not, as both parts taste great anyway. But when you compare it to the other options out there (Such as the Linda McCartney chicken strips) it does seem a bit lazy that the coating can’t even stay on. Especially when you only cook them in the oven. No frying or movement at all short of going on and off the baking tray.

They also do not taste of much. You don’t really get that ‘southern fried’ flavour of them. They just sort of taste like fried chicken…but minus the actual chicken flavour. I have found that these are actually very nice to add to meals: salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes. Because it doesn’t taste of much it doesn’t add any overpowering flavours, while still adding a nice texture and a load of protein to any meal.

Overall: 6/10. These are yummy, but nothing too spectacular.

T xxx

Lidl Choco Hoops

No matter how crazy the world gets, it seems I can always count on two things: Lidl and cereal. Lidl has quite the reputation for having a goldmine of super cheap vegan products that are scarily similar to more expensive and well known brands. Their cereals are so cheap and as someone who appreciates a good choice of cereals, I for one am a big Lidl fan.

They also clearly label all of their vegan products, which is how I came across these chocolate hoops! As a kid I never really liked chocolate cereal because it never really tasted like chocolate – it was always that weird, powdery tasting ‘chocolate’ that just left a funny after taste. But as I have grown older I occasionally get quite a craving for high sugar breakfast cereals. Probably to help fuel me through the day during these horribly dark, wet and depressing winter days here in England.

There isn’t much else to say about these: They are hoops and they taste like chocolate. That’s all they are and they do actually taste chocolatey. They can get quite sickly if you have too big a bowl of them, but that also may just be the sugar shock setting in. The packet was also huge considering that it only cost £1.

Overall: 8/10. These are a great option if you want a breakfast cereal that actually tastes like what it is meant to.

T xxx