Ben and Jerry’s Berry Revolutionary

England has just had a mini heatwave (34 degrees Celsius which is pretty uncommon for us!) and the heat of England is the heaviest, most humid heat that I have experienced. Even when the wind blows it is like having someone blow a hairdryer into your face, so it does absolutely nothing to cool you down. It was therefore the perfect opportunity to drink a LOT of iced water, avoid any type of cooking and have ice cream for lunch.

Now Ben and Jerry’s is always top tier in the ice cream game. No matter what flavour you pick you are onto a winner. I am still praying to every vegan entity out there that one day soon a vegan version of their Phish Phood will be released because nothing has come close to it even now.

Now I also don’t buy Ben and Jerry’s that often because they are easily the most expensive option out there. They are also one brand that really suffer with the Vegan Tax: A standard tub of their dairy ice cream is around £3 usually, but the vegan options are around £5.50. They do sometimes go on sale for £3, but then the dairy ice cream will be on sale for £1 and…feels kind of half hearted. I therefore only buy Ben and Jerry’s when I want something a little bit extra instead of just basic chocolate or vanilla. This doesn’t happen this often, and one tub could last me at least a month or two as I really don’t eat that much ice cream.

This Berry Revolutionary though was something real special. It is labelled on the lid as a sundae and it lived up to that. The top was a whipped ice cream with caramel swirls and chocolate chunks, while the rest of the ice cream was raspberry flavoured with chocolate chunks and crumbled Oreo type biscuits mixed into it. I have not had whipped ice cream in years – at least I am assuming it’s the same type of ice cream as a Mr Whippy ice cream – but this was a lovely little topping. It was very fluffy and airy and worked so well with the chunky chocolate and caramel swirls. Obviously it is ice cream so is quite sweet but it was the perfect thing to have on a boiling hot summers day.

Little Lola enjoying her own meal in the background…

The raspberry ice cream though – oh lordy! It has been YEARS since I have had fruit ice cream. Most options available are fruit sorbets which are very different to ice creams in my opinion. I forgot how much I LOVE raspberry ice cream. It has such a sharp taste to it that it immediately wakes you up and is just so refreshing when you feel like you are melting. The little chocolate chunks and cookie bits mixed into it also gave you a lovely little mix of chocolate raspberry flavouring and some really satisfying crunches amongst the soft ice cream. Now I truly could have eaten this entire part of the sundae in one sitting, but luckily brain freeze hit first.

I would honestly say that this option is the best Ben and Jerry’s flavour out there, especially from the vegan offerings. I might even go so far as to say that it is better than I remember Phish Phood being! It was honestly all that saved me from the heatwave and no doubt will get me through a lot of this coming summer, which is (as it is every single year) set to be the hottest on record (or alternatively, thanks to global warming, this year will be the coolest year in history) and I will need all the help I can get to cool down. Yes, the ice cream is one of the most expensive options out there, but if you want a true treat that will last you through summer, I would highly recommend splashing out on this. The fruity flavour also means it would work wonderfully as a post dinner party dessert, mixed with a bowl of fruit and left to enjoy in the sunshine.

Overall: 20/10. Best vegan flavour at there in my opinion.

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

Frankie & Benny’s vegan mac ‘n’ cheese

I haven’t been to a Frankie & Benny’s in years. There used to be one round the corner from where I lived but since moving there isn’t one within a reasonable distance. However we took a trip into Wembley (London) the other day and decided to see what new options they had added to their menu. I have seen people rave about their pizzas so I wanted to see what else they offered, if anything at all.

They actually have a surprising amount of vegan options and I did take my time deciding which one I fancied the most. In the end I went with a good comfort meal, of mac and cheese. I also decided to try their vegan milkshake as I don’t think I have had a milkshake in years either and I got too excited.

The mac and cheese was…pretty average. It was very creamy but didn’t have any real ‘cheese’ taste to it. It did have some tomatoes in it which did add a nice bit of acidity to the meal and stopped any of the cheese from being too thick or overpowering. I also appreciated that the portion size was smaller than I was expecting and I felt like it was the perfect amount of mac and cheese. Many times places give you such a large portion that the meal just starts to feel stodgy and heavy with every additional mouthful, but this portion of mac and cheese was the right amount that left you feeling comfortably satisfied without feeling bloated or overstuffed.

The milkshake was a letdown, I hate to say. It was basically vegan vanilla ice cream with some chocolate flakes in it. It was advertised as being ‘chocolate chip’ but there were so few chips it may as well have just been called a vanilla milkshake. I am not the biggest fan of vanilla so I only managed about half of it before I started to feel a bit sickly, and it wasn’t even a big glass. As I say the chocolate chips weren’t even chips, they were more like chocolate shavings – those really thin flakes that are mostly used for decoration in cake making. Barely any chocolate flavour to any of it. Very disappointed.

Overall: 7/10, Mac and Cheese is a good option, but nothing overly special or new. The milkshake is a total skip – unless you just want a vanilla milkshake.

T xxx

Itsu veggie sushi collection

Another joy of going into London is that I can finally go back to Itsu. If you’ve had a look through my blog you know that I am a big fan of sushi – it is simple and filling while being a light meal. I have tried a lot of sushi in my time but my favourite is always Itsu – it is roughly the same price as the other options out there but their meals just seem to be of a higher quality: The sushi is always light and fluffy and their hot meals are consistently tasty regardless of which option you pick.

My go to meal at Itsu is always the veggie sushi collection because you get a lot of sushi options for a decent price. Also if you have never had sushi before I feel this gives you a good introduction into what options are out there, so if you do not like one option you know not to buy that moving forward. I, however, love all of these and the sushi box is definitely cheaper than buying each plate of sushi by itself.

Me and my partner did actually share this box because you get a lot of sushi. You get:

  • 4 veggie maki (with the carrots and green beans)
  • 6 baby avocado rolls, ginger
  • fresh avocado on a carrot salad
  • 5 veggie dragon rolls
  • some ginger slices, wasabi packet and a little bottle of soya sauce.

My favourite is hands down the veggie dragon rolls – the sauce and the crispy mushrooms flakes just add something special to these rolls that you don’t get with the maki or the baby rolls. Although I do also love the baby rolls because they are just so tasty and so light, and the avocado always refreshes me.

Now this whole tray was £6.50 (although I am not sure if this varies depending on where you are) which to me is really good value for money. The trays of each individual type of sushi are around £4 each, so it is definitely cheaper to buy the sushi tray than to buy them all individually. Now sushi is always more expensive than the other options out there on the high street, so it will never be the cheapest option if that is what you are after. But if you wanted to try sushi, or wanted to splash out a little bit on your lunch break, then I would highly recommend trying Itsu over the other sushi places. As I say the quality of the food is always consistently good and always tasty, and it always seems to be worth the higher price tag for me.

Overall: 10/10. Anything you order will be great and this tray is always super tasty.

T xxx

PSA: Hotel Chocolat Easter sale!

Hotel Chocolat definitely do some of the best chocolate around, which is most likely why it is also the most expensive out there. But I do stand by their chocolate being the best out there. If I ever want a decadent or posh chocolate fix, Hotel Chocolat is my go to.

They also go all out for Easter and have some of the biggest and prettiest Easter eggs I have ever seen. PLUS they do vegan versions of almost all their ranges of Easter eggs which is always good to see. Their vegan ostrich egg, for example, was literally the size of an ostrich egg (hence the name) but for £85 it wasn’t really something I would ever be looking to buy.

Which is why their post Easter sale is so exciting! The majority of their products are 50% off, if not more, so that £85 egg for £42.50 is a little bit more reasonable and affordable. I could not resist a little trip in to see what was on offer.

They had a lot on offer – with little packets of their bunny shaped chocolate pieces for £2. I however decided to get real bang for my buck and picked up the vegan Sleekster packet. It’s been so long since I have had anything from Hotel Chocolat that I wanted to be able to try a wide range of their selection, and the sleekster was stupid good value for money.

£7!! This huge box was only £7. And that was 70% off and there is so much chocolate in it! You also get a good selection of the different treats, so you can find out which ones are your favourites. I have borrowed what they say on their website and the pack contains the following:

  • Peanut Buche – blends deep roasted peanuts with salted Nutmilk and a sprinkle of crispy cornflakes.
  • Salted Caramel – sumptuous caramel with a mellow Nutmilk base.
  • Dark Raspberry – a rich 70% Nutmilk bursting with tart pressed raspberries.
  • Pecan Praline – naturally sweetened pecan and a touch of sea salt are a dream combination.
  • Gianduja – finely blended praline wrapped in deep 70% dark Nutmilk chocolate.
  • Hazelnut Batons – gloriously nutty, perfect for evening nibbling.
  • Orange Batons –  pairs creamy cocoa with zesty Valencian oil.

Personally, the dark raspberry balls are to die for. These are next level chocolates in my opinion. The chocolate is soft and creamy, but the raspberry coulis inside is so tart and refreshing. It is just the perfect chocolate for me. The chocolate batons are just…slim bars of chocolate. Still very nice but nothing too spectacular. The gianduja balls are also one of my favourites, as they are a lot richer than the nutmilk options and are like little truffle balls.

If you have never had Hotel Chocolat pieces before I would highly recommend trying this sleekster pack because you get to try all of their options for a really good price. Even full price this packet is £23.50 (according to their online store at least) which still seems like very good value for money seeing as you get so much chocolate in it. As I say I picked this up for £7 in the sale at my local store, although they did also have smaller versions and bigger versions depending on your budget also on offer as part of the sale. I would therefore suggest taking a look at your local when you next go past, just in case there are any other good bargains!

Overall: 10/10. I think i’ll be eating this collection of chocolate for months with how much is in it!

T xxx

Doughnut Time: Lil’ Dough Peep

It was Easter weekend here in England which means a 4 day weekend! The weather has also been surprisingly wonderful (20 degrees?! In April?!) so was the perfect time to take a trip into London. Which means we had to take a trip to Doughnut Time.

Now when I go into London I do walk everywhere: Started at Baker Street, and from there we walked down Regents Street to Leicester Square, wandered around that area for a while and then around Soho, back up to Oxford street and then back to Baker Street to head home. Overall I walked around 27,500 steps so needless to say I was in need of a little sugar kick by the time we got to Soho.

This was actually the store in China Town which has a really good selection of the doughnuts. They are also have the fan favourites, such as Liam Hemsworthy (red velvet based)and the David Biscoff (lotus biscoff spread based) as well as their seasonal specials. Now these doughnuts, as I have said before, are HUGE and we finally decided to share a doughnut rather than have one each.

I chose the Lil’ Dough Peep because it looked the least sickly. It looked like a nice, basic doughnut that would give me just the right amount of sugar and Easter spirit without sending me into sugar shock. It was also the only seasonal vegan option on sale so I thought it best to try a new one.

This was actually very nice indeed. It tasted like parma violets! For those who do not live in England and have therefore never experienced a parma violet, they are little sugar disc candies that taste like…well…violet. It sounds odd when I type it, but trust me they are just refreshing and sweet without being super sugary or over the top. It was also nice to have a doughnut time that didn’t make me feel sick after a few bites. I think I could have actually eaten this whole doughnut myself, as it wasn’t overpowering and was just a lovely little springtime treat. Compared to some of the others on sale it also appeared to be the lightest and most understated, which is just what I wanted.

Price wise they are very expensive. Each doughnut is around £5, with the most extravagant ones nearing £6 and the plainer ones being around £4.50. I do however stand by the fact that these are definitely worth it as a once in a while treat. The doughnuts are always something special and for me are worth the high price tag for the very limited treat. Even though I live about a 30 minute train from London, I still only manage to go into the city maybe two or three times a year for leisure. I would always recommend visiting a Doughnut Time if you are ever in London.

Overall: 9/10. Definitely one of the best one I have had so far. Shame it is for such a limited time!

T xxx

Wagamama’s vegan fish and chips

So I am super late to this party. The vegan fish and chips was a special Veganuary exclusive meal released by Wagamama’s and is due to come off of their menu in the beginning of February. I have been trying to go for the entire month of January, but the nearest Wagamama’s to me seems to be heaving with people every single day regardless of when I go. There is always a queue down the street and no doubt at least an hour or two wait. Luckily though, we walked past it on the way home from work and decided to jump in while it still looked somewhat empty.

Oh boy was this worth the wait. To me, Wagamama’s is the level that all other restaurants need to work towards and aim for. They have committed to making 50% of their menu plant based and they do all of the favourites as a vegan version too. It baffles me that in today’s age there are restaurants still saying that the only vegan food they have on offer i a Beyond Meat burger and some sort of salad or spicy pasta dish as if that is supposed to impress us. Then you look at the like’s of Wagamama’s who not only have 50% of the menu vegan friendly, they also have some exciting and delicious meals: The Vegatsu is still my all-time favourite dish of any restaurant and in one of their ramens you can actually get a vegan egg made out of aquafaba and sriracha. Take note every other restaurant!

The fish and chips were lovely. I believe the ‘fish’ part is tofu, with a soft and crispy batter. It was served with sweet potato chunks (rather than chips) which were covered in a bang-bang red onion sauce. They also did a mushy peas type side which was tofu, rice and peas and you got the two sides of ‘tartar’ sauce and some vegatsu sauce too. The fish itself was very light and did flake the same way actual fish does. It didn’t overly taste of anything except, well, batter…but when mixed with the mushy peas or the sauces it was just the right balance of flavours. Which is really all fish and chips ever tasted of anyway.

The sweet potato chunks and the bang-bang sauce really did pack a punch – I was VERY grateful for the tartar sauce as it did manage to calm the sauce down a lot and helped stop my mouth from setting on fire two bites in. I also believe that sweet potato is the best of all potatoes so that was an easy win in my books.

The full vegan menu!

I would say that Wagamam’s is pretty mid-level in terms of pricing: Two mains, a side and two drinks for the two of us cost around £35. You could obviously find somewhere far cheaper but you could also find somewhere far more expensive for no where near as much food. The meals itself was a really good size – I could easily finish the meal and not still feel hungry afterwards, but not so full that I felt like I couldn’t move or that there was too much food on my plate to handle. Also every meal in Wagamama’s is delicious – their standards are high and their food is consistently amazing no matter what you are getting. Pick anything off of their very large menu and you will be in for a very enjoyable meal. It is a shame that the fish and chips isn’t a permanent addition, but they do have such a wide menu perhaps they don’t need any new additions. Maybe they may bring it back later in the year, but for now we shall have to wait and see.

Overall: 9/10. Vegatsu still wins overall, but this was a really fun and exciting addition that I hope we see again!

T xxx

Subway TLS

A new addition to Veganaury that actually seemed somewhat disappointing was the Subway Taste Like Steak (TLS). Now I love Subway – their business model is simple but they do what they do well. They make tasty sandwiches (even if their bread cannot legally be called bread in some places!) that feel like a fast food meal without being greasy or heavy. So far as being vegan friendly, they are probably one of the best fast-food chains out there, because their sandwiches by default are vegan and they offer a variety of vegan products like the veggie patty, the Taste Like Chicken and the Meatless Meatballs.

I was sort of hoping that they would therefore come out with something quite new for Veganuary, but we just got steak pieces. Now as someone who has eaten maybe three bites of a steak in their lifetime – I don’t see the hype around steak. It has never looked appealing, it doesn’t taste nice and it just seems like the most basic and boring meal you could ever cook. But for reasons I will never understand, people go nuts for steak. Even going so far as putting steak into a sandwich. Hence the TLS addition.

To give it credit, I feel like I didn’t really prepare the right sandwich in order to really appreciate the steak. I am a big fan of the TLC pieces so thought that these may be very much the same? The TLS pieces were actually quite nice, as they did add an almost smokey flavour to the sandwich and were a bit tougher in texture than the TLC pieces. But as to their overall taste, I feel I had too many vegetables and sauces on top of it to really get the full affect. So perhaps next time I will try it with just the steak, some cheese and maybe some lettuce – keep it simple and plain and see how the steak really performs.

The other downside is that it appears that the TLS has now replaced the TLC – at least in any shop that I have been to near me. So does it really count as a new addition if it is technically replacing an already existing option? Strictly speaking the number of vegan options has not actually changed. I am also unclear whether the TLS will stay past Veganuary as I cannot find a clear answer online. If anyone knows, please let me know!

Overall: 3/10. Although this may need to be amended the next time I try it…

T xxx

Burger King vegan whopper

Confession time…I have never had a Burger King burger before. This January is actually the first time I think I have ever had a Burger King ever in my life. So I am really branching out now and having what is most likely the first fast-food burger I have had in at least 12 years. I have had McDonald’s burgers before…but again I think the last time I had one was when I was about 12/13? Because I then went vegetarian shortly afterwards.

I have always heard that out of the fast-food places, Burger King was the elite: The fries were the best, the burgers were the size of a baby’s head and the price was a really good value for money. They also tasted ‘not like fast-food’. So we finally decided to test whether that was still true and to see if the burgers lived up to the same level as they had done before going vegetarian.

I decided to go with the vegan whopper, as I think that is the most staple of the Burger King meal. I decided to go for the Whooper over the Royale as the Royale genuinely looked HUGE in comparison and I didn’t trust that I would actually be able to finish it all. I was a little bit nervous of the Whopper as it was indeed….whopper.

The vegan burger patty is a soya based patty, and there had been some controversy around it when first released in 2020 as it was still cooked on the same grill as the meat products were. From reading Burger King’s FAQs and the information available on their website though, they say that they now have separate grill for each type of product, so there is very little risk of cross-contamination. Make of that what you will. I decided to chance it and trust that they were doing all that can to keep vegan products separate from meat products, because let’s be fair – it’s not really that hard. Especially for a multi-billion dollar company that could easily afford the equipment/space/resources.

But I digress…

So right off the bat, this is the perfect meal to justify ‘vegan for the animals’. The burger alone was around 320 calories. Which I suppose on it’s own isn’t the worst meal you would choose but if you include the chips – which are around 385 calories!! – it’s a pretty big meal. Which isn’t bad because 700 calories for a meal is probably considered quite small. BUT – and this was the big issue I had – even after 700 calories of food, I was still STARVING. I could have eaten at least three of these burgers and even then I don’t think I would have felt satisfied.If you were to eat 700 calories of any other food, you’d notice it. But these felt like eating air because I was hungry maybe 5 minutes after finishing.

It also didn’t taste that great. I mean it tasted like a fast food burger. It was exactly how I remembered it tasting: slightly fake while still being quite sweet. Aside from the fact that it looked quite sad and squashed when I took it out of he wrapper, it tasted the exact same. I would like to say that you could really notice the vegan patty, but honestly I didn’t. If you have ever had a fast-food burger, then you have tasted what this whopper tasted like. Pretty basic and nothing special, but exactly what you were expecting.

Price wise it is on the more expensive end for a fast-food meal. Especially when you factor in how it tastes (i.e exactly like every other fast food product). That aside though it is still pretty cheap, at £7.50 for a whole whopper meal, with fries and drink. That is also the price if you pick the large size of everything, otherwise it is slightly less the smaller the meal. But even with the price, you could make a way better burger yourself at home for maybe £5: Meatless farm burgers (for example) are around £3, a 4 pack of vegan brioche rolls from Aldi is £1 and the toppings and sauces maybe work out to be about another £1. This also gives you more than one meal so most likely works out even cheaper in the whole. SO while the whopper scratched a curiosity itch to see what fast-food was like, but I really don’t see what the benefit is to having this over a home made burger? Aside from the time it takes to cook it.

Overall: 4/10. Fine if you’re really stuck but definitely not worth it when you can make far better options at home for a fraction of the price.

T xxx

Veganuary 2022

It is the best time of the year…Veganuary!

Honestly the period between Christmas and New Years is normally so exciting because it is the time when brands and restaurants announce what new items they will be releasing for Veganuary. Obviously some are more exciting than others but the main thing is just how many brands announce new things – too many to really keep up with! But I thought it might help to list a few of the announcements that I am most excited for, and naturally as more are announced throughout the month I shall keep things coming!

For starters though, if you want to learn more about Veganuary, the month challenge, or for inspiration and starting points on how to begin your own vegan journey, please do check out the official Veganuary website for all the information you need. You can then go through my blog and see which vegan items currently on sale are worth a try, and which you need to avoid.

Krispee Kreme

First off, I think Krispee Kreme are super late to this party – as one of the LEADING doughnut companies in the world it is laughable that they have only JUST come out with more than one vegan option. Shameful really. That being said, I am so excited to try these new flavours that I don’t even care how long it took them to get them out! They have released Fudge Brownie Bliss, Caramel Choc Delight, and Apple Crumble doughnuts. Judging by the other non-vegan options they have, I am fully expecting to go into diabetic shock after one bite of each…but some things need to be done. Once I find a store near me that actually stocks them I will definitely let you know my thoughts!

Lidl

The supermarket has gone ALL OUT with their vast vegan range. They have released about 10 (although this could be way more, I haven’t counted since their first announcement) new items, including gnocchi, burgers, pizza and broccoli nuggets. No doubt there will be more as the year goes on, as Lidl are probably the best supermarket for the affordable vegan options. I intend to slowly make my way through the entire Vermondo range and let you all know the winners.

Meatless Farm chicken breasts

I am a BIG Meatless Farm fan. Their burgers are my go-to favourites and their entire range is consistently high quality, tasty and affordable. It wasn’t until the announcement though that I realised that they don’t appear to have done a chicken style meat yet – I have only ever seen red meat alternatives – so it will be very interesting to see how a chicken style meat replacement option compares to the red meat options. If they are as good as the rest of the range has been, then these could potentially be a meal staple for my household and a true game changer for our meals.

Babybel

Yep. You read that right. Babybel – a true staple of Britain and cheese – is releasing a vegan version. Now I have not had a Babybel for….well…years. At least 6 years at this point anyway. But even now I hear people talk about how Babybel cheese is on a different level to other dairy cheeses, so my expectations are high for a plant-based vegan version. I also believe this is one of the few cheese brands that has made a vegan option available – most vegan cheeses are either from specialist vegan brands, or are a supermarkets own version for their own plant-based range. My hope is that if Babybel can come up with a vegan option, then maybe other big brands like Philadelphia and Cathedral will also bring out their own vegan options. We shall see….

Watch this space everyone, and if you have seen any other announcements that you are super excited about please let me know in the comments and I shall make sure to check them out!

T xxx