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Wednesday 15 January 2020

Vegan Options in Caffe Nero January 2020

Caffe Nero have been fairly good for vegans for a few years now, but they have upped their game for Veganuary 2020, boasting 9 savoury lunch options and 3 sweet cake / pastry options.

These are the  savoury options we spotted in the Ipswich branch:


Their full current offering can be viewed on their website here:

Brief feedback:
We ordered a tomato soup and the meatball panini.
We enjoyed the tomato soup, which was flavoursome and felt wholesome with a bread roll.
The "meatball" panini was a little lacking.  It was basically a bit of cheese flavour, with some kind of savoury balls inside.  They didn't taste like meatballs (or even like a half-decent vegan version!) They were made of mushrooms and tasted like mush.

These are the sweet options


Brief feedback:
I ordered the cheesecake, which did look impressive, but was somewhat bland and lacking in va-va-voom.
(I've eaten far better in dedicated vegan establishments, and made far better myself! See Apple crumble cheesecake and Coffee cheesecake for recipes!)


Non dairy-milks for tea / coffee / hot chocolate are soya, oat and coconut.

Saturday 11 January 2020

Vegan Whipped Cream

It's been a while...but I'm back to blog!

It's fair to say that a lot has been occurring in the vegan scene in the past few years.

Veganism has expanded exponentially in the U.K, no doubt largely due to the success of the Veganuary campaign.

As a result, mainstream food companies have taken note, and they now all want a slice of that sweet vegan pie!

Enter: Elmlea Plant.

Up until recently, Elmlea solely specialised in dairy products, but in December 2019 they launched a single, and double, plant based "cream alternative."

Previous to this we have been lucky enough to have Alpro single soya cream in the U.K.
Which is all very well poured over a banana.
But sometimes you want something a bit MORE.

Something to whip it.  Eat off a spoon. Dollop onto things. To fill a cake or adorn a trifle.

This is where Elmlea have upped the ante, producing not just a vegan single cream, but also a vegan double cream. (don't make me say "alternative" again -- you know what I mean!)

As soon as I saw the little whisk symbol on the back, I knew I had to try whipping it up!

Lucky for me, I own a pretty decent Kenwood mixer, with a balloon whisk attachment.

This is what I used to whip up the first carton of cream, and most of the subsequent cartons. (I may have practised a fair few times, you know, in the name of research...).

I was pleasantly surprised to find the cream whipped up really easily, within about 5 minutes, doubling in size and becoming quite thick.
The flavour isn't overly sweet, so for my next attempt, I sweetened it using icing sugar and flavoured with vanilla.

This made the cream much more pleasing in taste (for my preferences anyway) and more suitable for using as a filling in a cake (or in other dessert applications.)

I had designs on using it in an old fashioned Victoria sponge recipe and knew it would need to stiffen up to hold its own as a filling.

Google suggested a few options for stabilising dairy whipped cream, and so far I have tried these:

Icing sugar alone
Cream of tartar and icing sugar
Cornflour and icing sugar

The attempt with icing sugar alone didn't hold up very well as a filling, and most of it oozed out of the cake.

The cream of tartar alongside the icing sugar improved the thickness quite a bit, as did chilling overnight, and this batch made the best cake filling.

The cornflour attempt remained quite soft (although was still good enough to top our Xmas day trifle!)

A Facebook follower suggested a cream stabilising product from Dr Oetker, so I'll be trying that next.

I'll update here once I have,  as well as on my facebook page.

Elmlea double cream costs around £1 and can be purchased from selected Sainsburys store.
The ingredients are:

Faba Bean preparation (Water, 1% Faba Bean Protein), 31% Vegetable Oils (Palm, Rapeseed), Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Emulsifiers (Sunflower Lecithin, Sugar Esters of Fatty Acids, Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids), Stabilisers (Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum), Natural Flavour, Salt, Colour (Carotene).

Side note: I have also tried  "Soyatoo" cream whipped up before, and cartons of the delightfully named Schlagfix cream.  Both were good, but are a bit harder to find.

Extra note: Dairy Elmlea isn't *technically* classed as a cream either, and is still a "cream alternative." However, rather than using entirely plant-based ingredients, it uses a blend of buttermilk and vegetable oil! Don't get caught out! Make sure yours is the plant-based vegan version, and dairy free cream cake goodness will await you!

Wednesday 31 December 2014

Tips for New veggies and vegans!

So you'd like to eat less animals and more plants--that's great! Maybe you'd like to go full veggie or vegan--that's even better!

I'm not really going to go into the whys, because chances are if you’re considering vegetarianism/ veganism you've heard all that already..!

But here are some tips that I hope might help you on your way!

Includes: Tips & links to useful stuff.

Tip 1:Do it your way!

It’s up to you whether you want to make a clean break and go vegan overnight or if you’d prefer to gradually cut out animal products a bit at a time.  No one is judging your performance or time-scale!  This is your choice and your journey, so do it your way!! The fact that you are trying to make a difference at all is a great thing! 
(It's also up to you what kind of veggie/vegan you may want to be.  Want to make everything from scratch using the freshest ingredients possible?! That's great! But prefer to stick cooking something out of a jar or packet?! Ok--you're an adult-do what you like!)

Tip 2:Start off with what you know...

If you’re the kind of person who is used to sausage, chips and beans for dinner then that recipe for tofu and quinoa salad may not sound too appealing!
You may find it easiest to stick with familiar meals to begin with, ie, swap your meat/vegetarian sausages for some vegan ones such as Linda McCartney (easy to find in supermarkets), swap meat mince for veggie mince and so on...
There’ll be plenty of time to try new and  more unfamiliar foods as you go along.

Tip 3:..don't be scared to try new things! 

Once you've mastered all your old favourite meals, expand your horizons to try new and exciting foods!  Rather than restricting your diet you'll more than likely find that you end up expanding it.
The internet is full of vegan recipe websites and blogs, and Amazon is a good place to find lots of cookbooks. (see below for recommended websites and books). 
Maybe you could try and commit to trying one new food or recipe a week?
*Extra tip!* A lot of the best recipes are in US measurements, so invest in a set of measuring cups (much easier than converting recipes!). They're cheap to buy and will last a lifetime.

Tip 4: Be prepared!

Plan ahead and keep a well stocked  kitchen so that you can always have dinner ready in a flash!
Similarly when out and about plan where you can pick up something to eat, or take food with you.
Also--prepare to be questioned by curious family/friends/co workers!  Do your research so that you'll have all the answers when someone inevitably asks "but where will you get your protein?!"

Tip 5: Prepare to be weaned!

You don't still drink your own mother's milk (I hope!), so why drink milk from someone else's mother?
(We're not baby cows, so there is no reason for us to drink milk meant for them!)
Luckily there are plenty of tasty plant based alternatives to put in your tea/on your cereal.
These days most supermarkets offer an array of plant based "milks" including soya, almond, coconut, hazelnut, rice, and oat.  Some are found in the fridge, whilst others are in the long-life section near the UHT dairy milk. There are sweetened and unsweetened varieties, and many are fortified with calcium and vitamins. Try a few and see which ones suit you.

It’s also easy to find non-dairy custard, yogurts, cream and ice cream. You can even get vegan cheese! 
If you are worried about calcium or any other vitamins and minerals, then there is helpful info about plant based sources on the Vegan Society website, at

Tip 6: Connect!

The internet is swimming with lovely veggies and vegans, most of whom are very supportive and love to chat about food and all manner of related things.   It is nice to know you are not alone!

If you are on Facebook you might like to follow some pages or join some groups where you can ask questions about things you’re not sure of, and get support and advice. (see links below for group and page suggestions).  

If you are on Instagram then search for hash tags like "VeganFoodShare" to see lots of yummy photos of vegan food.  
Pinterest also has lots of inspiring food photos to get your imagination going! (search for Pinboards such as "vegan dinners").

Tip 7: Don’t be put off by the vegan police!!

Vegans are a passionate bunch and so sometimes have disagreements! Often arguments arise between vegans about whether each other's food choices are ethical enough or healthy enough.Try not to be put off by those arguments!  Remember: this is your journey.  We are all just trying to do our best in a non-vegan world.  Live by your own values and make your own choices. (You’re taking more positive action than most people ever will, so be proud of that.)  As a friend of mine says “vegans should unite, not fight!”

Tip 8: Don't beat yourself up!

If you fall off of the veggie wagon now and then to begin with, don’t be too hard on yourself.  Just remember your reasons for wanting to go veggie or vegan (whether it's to boycott animal abuse or to improve your health).  It might take a little while, but put any mistakes behind you, look forward and  you'll get there in the end!

Useful links:
      Some recipe sites:
      • Post Punk Kitchen: Recipe blog by popular vegan chef, Isa Moskowitz  (author of “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World”).
      • Fat free vegan: Delicious reliable recipes, mostly with a reduced fat content.
      • Vegan Richa- Interesting recipes with appetising photos.
      • Vegweb-over 15,000 recipes, for every kind of food you can imagine! Recipes are uploaded and rated by members.
      • Maple Spice:Extensive directory of sweet and savoury recipes.
      • Parsley soup: Easy recipes with UK measurements and ingredients.
      • Really useful vegan baking website.
      • Gourmet VeganMore easy to follow interesting recipes.

        Suggested vegan Facebook groups and pages:
        • The Vegan Society (Page) Official page of The Vegan Society (UK)-followed by over 220,000 vegans worldwide!
        • Evolve!Campaigns-(Page) UK campaign group that regularly shares inspiring stories, recipes, news and more.
        • Vegan Life Magazine (UK) (page)The accompanying Facebook page to the UK's first mainstream vegan magazine.  Shares competitions, stories etc, and invites discussions.
        • Vegan Cheese Lovers Club (Closed Group) A group to discuss all things cheese related! 
        • What Fat Vegans Eat (open group) A group for vegans worldwide to share pictures of their dinners! (not a group for discussions).
        • Compassionate Cooks (Page) The facebook page of US cookbook author Colleen Patrick Goudreau. Thoughtful insights on vegan diplomacy and how to promote veganism in a positive way.
        • VegNews magazine(Page) Recipes and articles on Veganism (US).
        • Post Punk Kitchen (Page) Facebook page of US vegan cookbook author Isa Moskowitz. Recipes, videos and cooking tips.
        • The Vegan Womble- (Page) A UK vegan giving helpful hints on new products and vegan options in various supermarkets.
        Vegan web stores:
        Cook books (many more can be found on Amazon)

        • Isa Does it -Quick delicious recipes, for every day of the week.  Beautiful book, lots of nice photos. 
        • Appetite for reduction-Delicious healthy recipes, with a lower fat content.


        Good luck on your journey!   If you ever have any questions or would like any advice I am happy to try and help.  (Comment here or on my Facebook page).  

        Sunday 28 December 2014

        Microwave Vanilla Vegan Mug Cake Recipe

        Microwave vanilla and almond mug cake recipe (makes one mug cake) 

        After 4 experimental attempts I finally have a recipe that works! It's definitely not the tastiest stand alone cake, but for a quick fix it gets the job done!
        (note: the recipe uses almond milk and almond extract (by helpful suggestion of one of my facebook friends!), if you were to omit the almond milk and use soya milk instead you'd still get a sponge of sorts-but I found it ended up with a strange taste and smell! The moral being-use almond milk!)

        This recipe is measured in tablespoons and teaspoons-please use proper measuring spoons, not just some spoon that you think is a table spoon!)

        You will need...

        1 tablespoon of  vegan margarine
        1 and half tablespoons sugar
        1/4 of teaspoon arrowroot powder (or egg replacer powder)
        1 teaspoon water, 
        4 tablepoon plain flour, 
        1/4 teaspoon baking powder,
         1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda,
         1/8 teaspoon salt,
         3 tablespoon almond milk,
         1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
         1/4 teaspoon almond extract

        1.Cream the  marge and sugar in a mug.
        2.Whisk arrowroot and water in a separate mug using a fork. Mix this in with the marge. 
        3.Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix well.
        4. Add the almond milk and extracts and mix again. It will be quite runny. 
        5. Microwave on full power for 1 min 20 to 1 min 40, depending on the strength of your microwave. When it comes out of the microwave it will look quite sunken! But just tip it out of the mug and break it up with a fork, and eat it with custard! (and maybe some jam!)

        Saturday 29 November 2014

        Vegan Friendly Gift Ideas!

        ~Chocolates~Toilettries~Accessories~Homemade gifts~Charitable gifts~Hampers~Vouchers~Drinks~Magazines~Books~Memberships~Animal Adoptions

        A friend asked me recently "what's a good gift for a vegan?" 
        Obviously vegans are as varied as anyone, and all like different things! Nonetheless I thought I'd write a post to share a few ideas (both shop-bought and homemade!!)

        From the shops/internet:

        • CHOCOLATES
        Some fancy schmancy chocolates:

        -Booja Booja truffles, available from Holland and Barrett, Waitrose and independant health food shops (Booja Booja website)
        -Montezuma vegan truffles, not an exclusively vegan brand so beware if searching the rest of their website (Montezumas vegan items)
        -Hotel Chocolat not exclusively vegan brand. (This links to the vegan stuff:Hotel chocolat website)
        More chocolates...

        From Animal Aid: Animal Aid shop
        From Vegan Store:
        From Supermarkets: Some dark chocolates by  brands such as Lindt and Green & Blacks are suitable.  Just watch out for lactose, whey powder or butterfat on the ingredients list.

        Raw chocolate, for healthy foodies who like a treat..

        • A nice cook book
        Some recommended books:

        -Isa Does it  easy, tasty reliable recipes. (US measurements)
        -Vegan Eats World- fancy recipes for world cuisine. (US measurements)
        -Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen tasty Italian recipes (US measurements)
        -Ms Cupcakes, Naughtiest cakes in town decadent easy to make cakes and bakes (UK measurements)
        -Vegan Cupcakes Take over The World, Vegan Pie in the Sky, Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar more great recipes for sweet, tooth destroying treats :) (US measurements)

        • A restaurant voucher
        Find out where your friend likes to eat, and buy a voucher for their favourite restaurant. A few chain restaurants that cater for vegans reasonably well are Pizza Express, Wagamama, Las Iguanas.
        • A food hamper/gift box
        Buy a nice box or basket and fill it with foods and drinks your friend might like!  Some hamper ideas:

        Hot Chocolate Hamper: Could include a mug, a spoon, "choc shot" liquid chocolate, vegan squirty cream, and mini vegan marshmallows!
        Sweeties Hamper: Could include: Vegan Fudge, Goody Good Stuff Sweets, Sweet Freedom Marshmallows, other sweets such as ones sold here:
        Coffee and cake hamper: Could include: Some nice fairtrade coffee, soya cream, cake such as Mrs Crimbles apple cake, or these loaf cakes from the co-op
        Tea and biccie Hamper: Could include-a selection of nice teas, and biscuits such as Lotus biscuits, fruit shortcake biscuits, or Lazy Days Millionaires Shortbread 
        A fruit basket: ...loads of lovely fresh fruits!  
        Snack attack hamper: Many crisps, pretzels, and tortilla chips and dips, are vegan.  Could also include nuts, popcorn, hummus chips
        Healthy/wheat-free snack bar hamper: Nakd bars, dried fruits and nuts, kale chips
        Favourite Cuisine Cooking Hamper-
        Vegan ingredients to make your friend's favourite kind of cuisine, ie for Italian.. posh dried pasta, nice olive oil, jars of sundried tomatoes/roasted peppers, sea salt and pepper grinder.

        • Wine
        Some vegan wines:Co-op and M&S label their vegan wines.                
        More can be found listed at

        • Beer.
        Some vegan beers: Heineken, Stella Artois and Budweiser.
        More at
        • Toiletries

        Just because a brand says it doesn't test on animals it doesn't mean it's vegan friendly (it may contain animal products/by-products)
        However the following items are all safe...

        Make up:
        Any items from Superdrug's "B" range.
        Any items from Beauty without
        Any items from Vegan Faces:
        Barry M-their website labels vegan products with a white "v" inside inside a green heart
        Any items from Arbonne: (Note: these are more "high end" products)
        Make up brushes-many cosmetics brushes are made using animal hair-Eco tools aren't! (Also available in Boots, and often TK Maxx)
        Bath/shower products
        Items labelled vegan from Lush, Superdrug, Faith in Nature, Marks and spencer (check the product info on their website listings..some of these are listed as vegan)

        Hair care products: "Tara Smith" range, available from Marks and Spencer, certain items from Paul Mitchell (available from hairdressers), certain products from Lush.
        Perfume-certain perfumes from Lush, Pacifica , these from M&S.

        For men:
        Hair care products: Items labelled vegan from Lush, Superdrug.
        Male Grooming-All Bulldog products
        available from Waitrose, Sainsburys etc. 
        • Clothing/accessories
        If your friend is vegan for ethical reasons (not just dietary reasons) they will more than likely avoid anything made of: leather, wool/animal hair (inc. cashmere, angora, alpaca and mohair), silk and feathers and down. (and obviously no fur!!)
        So, if giving knitted items make sure they use synthetic yarn, if giving purses/wallets/belts/jewellery make sure they are all synthetic, with no leather trim, or feather decorations. 

        For guaranteed vegan belts and wallets visit these sites:

        Wills Vegan

        If your friend likes to advertise their veganism loud and proud, maybe they'd like a vegan themed bag or T-shirt, from one of these sites:

        -Blood Tight Apparel

        For vegan themed jewellery visit:
        -All Glamour No Guts
        (or search Etsy)

        Some homemade gift ideas...

        • A home cooked meal
        • A hamper of homemade vegan cookies/candied nuts/truffles, fudge etc (1000's of recipes can be found
        • A muffin basket 
        • Handmade knitted gloves/hat/scarf, (using synthetic yarn)

        Thinking outside the (gift) box... 

        Charitable gifts

        Most vegans have an affinity to animals, so may appreciate a donation to their favourite charity in lieu of a gift, or an animal adopted in their name.

        A note on charities to avoid:
        Most vegans tend to: 
        -Avoid charities schemes that send live animals to third world counties (as it can further impoverish the family looking after the animal, as well as harming the animal.  Some info on it can be found here:
        -Avoid charities that fund animal testing (you can check which charities do test on animals, here:

        Some vegan friendly charities/groups that you could donate to:

        -Animal Aid (Animal rights campaign group)
        -Viva! (Farmed animal campaign group)
        -The Hunt Saboteurs Association (funds groups who sabotage hunting)
        -Dr Hadwen Trust (non animal-based medical research)
        -VegFam (helps third world famine without using animals)
        -Hillide Animal Sanctuary (run a "gift of hay" scheme)
        -Five Valleys Hedgehog and Bird Rescue (small rescue caring for sick and injured wildlife)
        -Tower Hill Stables (caring for abused dogs/cats/farm animals)

        Animal adoption schemes 

        A couple of sanctuaries with animal adoption schemes are:
        -Hillside Animal

        Memberships and Magazine Subscription

        Animal Aid membership  includes quarterly copies of their magazine "Outrage". Membership can be purchased here:

        "Vegan Life" -The UK's first and only mainstream vegan magazine.  Subscriptions are available to buy here:


        I hope this guide is helpful! 

        If you have any other nice ideas for vegan-related gifts, if you sell vegan gifts, or if you've received a particularly thoughtful gift, please comment below, or on our Facebook page! :)

        ps... I've mentioned lots of different brands and products in this post.  None of the companies/authors/websites or shops mentioned are paying me to advertise their products.  
        (I'm just trying to be helpful by sharing links) :)