The Allotment Vegan Eatery – First Impressions

The Allotment Vegan Eatery, located on Lloyd Street, makes fine dinning simple and relatable (and gluten free too). As soon as you walk in it feels welcoming and cozy, even though it’s quite spacious.

We visited early on a rainy Monday to take advantage of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, which they are continuing through September. I really liked the simple and natural feel to decor and layout. There is an extensive drinks menu offering juices, bottled soft drinks, beer, teas, cocktails and wine.

Small Plates

My bloke’s tiny dish was too tiny to eat out of properly but he found the Edamame Salad, with kale, chilli, spring onions, soy and tamarind dressing was really refreshing.

I found the little boats made from Chicory leaves to be the perfect way to eat tenderstem broccoli with black olive tapenade, toasted hazelnuts and pumpkin and pomegranate seeds. A unique combination which worked really well.

Large Plates

My bloke likes a good risotto but he’d never tried a beetroot risotto with ricotta before. This dish had a lovely flavour but both the maple glazed beetroot and the ricotta were similarly sweet, so it needed another salty or sharp flavour to break them up and help define them both.

I ordered the ‘fish’ and chips. Wow, we’re those chips big and crispy! The minted peas had a subtle flavour which was just right and the homemade tarter sauce was a perfect accompaniment. The ‘fish’ was made from banana blossom which had a texture similar to shredded duck and tasted strongly of lemon. The batter had a nice crunch but the fish was crying out for some kind of salt but there was no salt and pepper on the table, a trend which is becoming more common I’ve noticed.

Dessert

There were only two desserts so we ordered one each to share. Blueberry Cheesecake and a Hazelnut Slice.

The hazelnut slice base was made of crushed hazelnuts, with a thick layer of salted caramel praline, topped with solid Belgian chocolate ganache. The portion of this delicious desert was so big I was glad I was sharing it.

The base of the blueberry cheesecake was made of crushed pea cans and almonds, topped with a vanilla and blended cashew filling, topped with blueberry and chai seed compot. Such skill must have gone into making this as it was wonderful!

The inclusion of fresh fruit and ice cream with both deserts was a nice touch and lifted their flavour, rather than just being sweet deserts.

One thing I have to mention is how uncomfortable the wooden chairs are if you don’t have any back fat. The next day a part of my spine actually felt bruised! There is a settee (which was taken) and I noticed other metal chairs when we were leaving.

Service was timely and friendly although we did arrive early and it got a lot busier later. We wouldn’t eat there again unless it was for a treat like a birthday as we found it to be too pricey for our budget but I can understand why, as it’s evident a lot of thought, skill and care goes into the food.

πŸ–€βœ¨Chrissieβœ¨πŸ–€

Monthly Roundup – August

I’ve taken screen shots from my Instagram to remind me, and show you what I’ve been up to this month.

Skincare and Haircare

I cut my curly hair using tips from Brad Mondo and tips from various natural hair vloggers to style my 2C curls.

I changed my contraception so got quite a few hormonal spots and this Body Shop Tea Tree, Skin Clearing Mattifying Toner was invaluable; as was The Ordinary, Lactic Acid which very gently and naturally exfoliates.

Now it’s the end of August and my skin has settled so I’m using Neal’s Yard Remedies Orange Flower Toner and Orange Flower Moisturiser everyday to keep my skin all glowy and nourished (along with the The Ordinary Lactic Acid twice a week).

Food, glorious food!

Me and my bloke spent our Tesco vouchers on Pizza Express (who will be going into liquidation next month apparently) and order two ‘new’ veggie pizzas and all of the salad.

To take advantage of the governments ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme we went to Ruyi Vegetarian Restaurant. Amazing!

I’ve gotten back into the fake meat brand Vivera and have been making simple stir-fries. Like these Vivera Shwarma Kebab strips with rice and pea and sweet corn and Jamaican Jerk BBQ sauce.

The hot weather made really reduced my appetite so these mezze/tapas style bowls were great to nibble on.

Style

I’ve had purchasing a Nirvana tee at the back of my mind for decades and this month I found an official pale pink one. Cute and grungy!

I got sick of buying summer shoes that were either too flat and bad for my shitty joints or too heavy or that flew off my feet going down stairs. I bit the bullet and bought Crocs. I actually think these look pretty bad-ass as they remind me of late 80’s/early 90’s street style. Here’s my full review of Crocs.

I still think the simplest thing to wear is a maxi dress. Hides a ton of sins and all you have to choose are shoes and then a jacket/cardigan for evening.

Lifestyle

In the crazy hot weather I’ve been wearing these sandals from Newlook, drinking Rockstar blueberry energy drink, using this light and fruity perfume from Eden and ( even with my limited concentration span) flew through My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite.

The households charity shop donations for the second quarter of the year: A crazy wide pair of linen trousers, a face scrub you have to mix from powder (I managed to spill the first pot everywhere), vest I’m now too big for, too small jeans, a teeny-tiny dress from Japan, shoes which I’ve had over a decade and worn out.

Tips on How Not To Be Constantly Late and a fun checklist to see How Basic Are You?

Listened to

80’s pop and bluesy rock.

Watched

Snowfall about the start of the crack epidemic in early 80’s LA, like a mixture of Breaking Bad, The Getdown and The Wire.

Canada’s Drag Race, love Priyanka!

Galdem (on BBC iPlayer) about women making it in the UK grime scene.

Read

My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite.

Don’t forget to like, comment or subscribe! Xxx

πŸ–€βœ¨Chrissieβœ¨πŸ–€

First Impressions of Ruyi Vegetarian Restaurant

Finally visited Ruyi Vegetarian House (Withington) who do delicious vegetarian and vegan food, specialising in mock-meats.

They are doing the #eatouttohelpoutscheme during the week.

The general standard of cooking was fantastic and the staff (even though they were so busy) were so attentive. Really relaxed, friendly atmosphere too.

I ordered: Peking Ribs (lovely), Salt and Pepper Tofu (quality), Mixed Veg (subtle seaweed flavour).

My Bloke ordered: Peking Ribs, Satay Chicken (amazing) and Stir Fried Mushroom (lovely).

They’re moving to Chorlton very soon, which is a very trendy and unique place to be. I do think it will be such a shame for this part of Withington that another veggie/vegan place has gone, along with the closure of Boho Utopia cafe recently.

πŸ–€βœ¨Chrissieβœ¨πŸ–€

20 Tips for Living a Greener, More Sustainable Lifestyle

TIPS ON LIVING A GREEN LIFESTYLE

  1. Recycle/Upcycle
  2. Reuse/Repair
  3. Buy organic
  4. Reduce plastic consumption (use wooden/fabric/glass/metal alternatives)
  5. Avoid single use plastic
  6. Support independent companies
  7. Buy local produce
  8. Campaign/fund raise for wildlife and nature
  9. Drive an electric car or cycle or use public transport
  10. Use cruelty free and natural skincare, selfcare and household products
  11. Buy from and donate to charity shops
  12. Sell quality items on Depop and donate the money to smaller charities
  13. Use fabric tote bags for shopping
  14. Grow your own veg (growing a little tomato or chilli plant or regrowing veg ends like lettuce on your windowsill counts)
  15. Avoid fast fashion as much as possible
  16. Get clothes altered and learn how to hem and use darts to alter size/shape (fairly easy but makes a huge difference).
  17. Buy your electricity and gas from Good Energy/Ecotricity
  18. Use the phone provider Eco Talk
  19. Turn off the light when you leave the room
  20. Wear another layer, rather than turning up the heating

Just do your best and don’t stress!

πŸ’šβœ¨Chrissieβœ¨πŸ’š

I Try Plant Menu, No Steak Bakes from Aldi

PLANT MENU, NO STEAK BAKES – ALDI

The pastry was the nicest flakey pastry I’ve ever had. Maybe vegan pastry is the way to go for everyone. Generous filing and nice texture. The flavour of the filing was so rich, with red wine and tomato, I felt it would have been better as Bolagnese sauce! This Northern lass prefers her pasties/steak bakes to taste of plain ole’ gravy. My bloke was well impressed however. Shame it wasn’t gluten free but you can rarely have everything.

Rating 4/5

πŸ–€βœ¨Chrissieβœ¨πŸ–€

Sneak a Peak Into My Kitchen to See What Vegetarians Who Are Gluten and Dairy Free Really Eat!

I’ll be showing you what’s in my cupboards and freezer in a moment but first, a little context…

I think because the majority of food that the UK produces is milk and wheat based, it’s easy to think there isn’t anything else. All you have to do is look at other cultures and continents, Asia being a specifically apt example, to realise there is so much choice! Coconut milk instead of cows milk; gram (chickpea) flour instead of wheat flour and pea protein or tofu (bean curd) instead of meat are three of my most used swaps.

Pantry

(Clockwise)

Coop Free From noodles – I add chopped up veggie sausages and tomato pasta sauce with added tomato paste to make Spaghetti Bolognase.

Nairn’s Wholegrain Crackers – Much crunchier than original oat cakes

Grano Vita Mock Duck – Apparently it can be eaten cold on a sarnie or hot with your Sunday lunch but not tried it yet so take take my word for it!

Asda Free From Fiery Chilli Rice Noodle Pot – These are perfect for when you need something really quick.

Alpro Hazelnut – OMG this has to be the best milk substitute ever.

Pine nuts – Adds crunch and flavour to pasta with red or green.

Amy’s Kitchen Chunky Tomato Soup – I cannot believe this is dairy free and it is even richer with nutritional yeast flakes added for a cheesy/creamy flavour.

Free and Easy Chickpea and Lentil Curry – I’m glad they haven’t called this Daal because it doesn’t taste like the authentic Indian curry, more like a Mexican dish but it is lovely and very filling.

Tesco Free From Red Pesto – (I often get Saccla brand as well) for spaghetti bolagnaise or pizza.

(Out of shot)

Huge bag of rice, Genius Seeded Loaf.

Snack Cupboard

(Clockwise)

Kettle Chips, Sheese and Red Onion – I could eat these ALL day!

Eat Real, Lentil Chips, Chilli & Lemon – I love how chunky these are and that you get a robust flavour from the lentils along with the added zingy flavour.

Kind bars (just seen) – These are made of different kinds of nuts held together with dark chocolate, peanut butter or (contains dairy) caramel. Gives me lots of energy quickly.

Roasted Salted Peanuts – Great to put into Satay Sauce or Nasi Goreng Indonesian Chilli Salad or a Waldorf salad but also great to snack on while drinking beer. Cheers!

Pom-bear – Does anyone else buy a huge bag of these when on self-catering holidays abroad?

Tesco, Free From Onion Rings – So much better than those little 20p bags you used to get as a kid. I’m quite gobsmacked by them being free-from actually.

Ten Acre, The Story Of When The Cheese Met The Onion – Apart From the highly pretentious and, let’s face, weird tittle, these are delicious! You won’t believe they are dairy free. Their Pastrami flavour is fantastical well.

Freezer

(Clockwise)

Linda McCartney’s Rosemary and Red Onion Sausages – Not the best veggie sausages but certainly not the worst I’ve had, these are lovely with gravy; not so much for a sausage butty with brown sauce though.

Applewood Vegan Smokey Cheese – Wow! How on earn does a vegan cheese taste this good!? It even grates and melts perfectly.

Oomph! Kebab Strips – The best meat alternative I’ve ever found.

Deliciously Ella, Cauliflower and Lentil Dahl – Nope! Lovely flavour but tastes more like a mild Thai curry made with coconut milk. Tiny for the price but I like them breakfast/lunch on colder days.

Quorn, Comforting Cottage Pie – I add a bit of tomato or HP sauce and have this with steamed veggies.

Amy’s Kitchen, Veggie Lasagne – I add a tiny bit of Sriracha sauce and nutritional yeast to this. Really nice with the spinach inside.

McCains, Potato Smiles – Crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. 😊

What do use as substitutions and/or what tinned or packet ingredients do you mix together to make a meal? Have you tried any of these and do you have any recommendations?

πŸ–€βœ¨Chrissieβœ¨πŸ–€

Can This Jackfruit Ready-meal Really Work?

I decided to get this ready meal as an introduction to Jack Fruit. I’ve tried other things from Tescos Plant Chef range and been woefully underwhelmed so this was more of an experiment for me.

Cooked (supposedly) after only 35 minutes in a pre-heated oven…

It looks so watery! Lets poor some of that away and sprinkle some nutritional yeast on the top. I hope the sauce is a nice flavour and that there’s a load of jackfruit underneath the potatoes….

Oh shit, it’s stone cold in the middle!

After another 15 minutes in the oven…

This tastes really nice! The BBQ sauce has a strong flavour and isn’t overwhelmingly sweet. Some of the potato is crispy with a nice flavour and the red pepper works well, not sure where the onions are though. I wish there were more Jackfruit, although there are some big chunks underneath the potato.

The texture of the Jackfruit is like pulled pork and it’s really absorbed the flavour of the sauce. It cooks much better in big chunks as the smaller pieces are a bit mushy.

The answer to ‘Can this Jackfruit Ready-meal really work?’ is Not without a lot of faffing about!

Rating 2/5

πŸ–€βœ¨Chrissieβœ¨πŸ–€

Trying to Get Naturally Healthy Skin in Just One Month – Week 1

My Skin History

In my teens and early twenties I had terrible skin, with lots of tiny bumps under the surface as well many active spots. I wouldn’t say it was full blown acne but it was close enough for my GP to say it was hormone related and to put me on pills aged 16. They did nothing. Then at 28 the spots were mainly on my T-zone and only around four at a time by now but I’d still look bright red without full coverage foundation, so I went on the contraceptive pill. It helped my crazy oily T-zone and therefore my spots, as well as being a handy form of birth control. Age 30 after a lot of research online about hormones and inflammation and healthy diets etc. I took a food intolerance test. I tested a big positive to milk and gluten. After cutting way down on gluten my tummy and face was less bloated and my eyes less puffy. After cutting way down on dairy my skin cleared completely! I stopped waking up with a bright red face as well, which was such a relief!

These days I usually have fairly blemish-free skin but it’s actually very dry and dehydrated. The texture has always felt grainy (even though you can’t see it) as if my skin doesn’t produce enough natural acids to melt away the dead skin. I also go randomly go bright red every now and then, due to dust allergies and water temperature sensitivity.

Goals

  • Stick to my skincare routine (exfoliation/cleanse, tone, serum, moisturiser, oil)
  • Hydrate enough in general
  • Eat more fruit and veg
  • Avoid ALL dairy for a month (surprisingly tricky)
  • Blemish free skin
  • Even toned skin
  • Moisturised skin
  • Hydrated skin
  • Plumper skin

Products

  • Murad, Age Reform, AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
  • The Ordinary, Lactic Acid 5% Superficial Peel
  • Nip + Fab, Dragons Blood Hyaluronic Acid
  • The Body Shop, Vitamin C Moisturiser
  • Murad, Essential C Moisturiser, SPF 30
  • Herbal Dynamics Beauty, Revit Age, Concentrated Face Balm
  • Love Beauty Foods, Clay Face Scrub

[I will use The Ordinary Lactic Acid Peel if I’m too tired to use the Murad exfoliater as it takes a lot of massaging and rinsing. I also have a weird sensory-avoidance thing about splashing my face with water some days!? I will use the Murad moisturiser if I need any sun protection.]

Week 1

Monday

My skin is very dry and dehydrated. My oil/balm seems to just be sitting on top of my skin. Need to keep on top of my healthy eating better.

Tuesday

Still feel dry and dehydrated, even though I’ve done all of my skincare routine but at least I look a little glowy. Existed on watered down energy drink and takeaway today so not the best but it was vegan and so dairy free.

Wednesday

I have 7 spots which could be due to previous dairy intake. After three days of gentle exfoliation, my skin is absolutely sucking up the moisturiser and facial balm. Had a big protein salad and drank all of my water bottle.

Thursday

Made a fresh banana milkshake with a very ripe banana, some hazelnut milk and a stick blender. Spots are still lingering and I’ve run out T-tree gel and Witch Hazel so I applied a little Savlon antiseptic cream instead!

Friday

It actually worked! Spots look much calmer and smaller. I somehow managed to forget to do any of my skincare. I got up mid-afternoon and just couldn’t keep track of what time or even day it was, all day.

Saturday

Woke up looking rather red, which I think is because I’ve been sat on the sofa that gets four hours of sun all week. This might be a little much for my skin when it’s got the Glycolic or Lactic Acid on it. I’ll be applying the Murad moisturiser with sun protection the next time I do this!

Sunday

Before I’ve even applied any skincare my skin feels softer and smoother (apart from my stubborn nose) than I have ever felt it before, as if I’m wearing a really good primer! I’ve (mostly) been keeping hydrated and I’ve been eating little salads before meals to get some fresh veg everyday.

I’ve no idea what that big chunk of blonde hair is trying to do!?

Week 1 Conclusion

I was so sceptical that I would stick to this routine with my brain fog but I did, apart from just one day. It made me feel better about myself, because I’m actively doing something for my health and well-being.

After just one week, I didn’t expect my skin to feel and look good before I’d applied any products but it’s already working and my eye bags (I’ve had since I was a teen) have virtually gone!

The scar I have below my nose and mouth has flattened out more and looks smoother too.

I’m going to introduce a micellar water from Neal’s Yard Remedies next week to be able to cleanse without water if I wish and to get rid of any left over exfoliator gritty bits left around my hairline, which is where I think some those spots came from.

I forgot to do the face mask oops!

As always I love hearing what you think and if you have any tips, advice or similar experiences.

πŸ’›βœ¨Chrissieβœ¨πŸ’›

Monthly Life Update – March (Yup, I know we’re well into April)

March was a bit of a non-month really. Me and the bloke started our quarantine, apart from him having an hour in the park every few days. It’s a big park with wide paths and wide gates so no need to be anywhere near anyone else. A Submotion Orchestra gig (dub, orchestral, hip-hop) got cancelled which was sensible but sad. Luckily we hadn’t booked anything else or made plans to go anywhere else.

Lifestyle

In January I made a secret resolution to avoid gluten as it effects my breathing and doesn’t help with my naturally challenged memory and concentration skills, as well as making me bloated. I’m doing better with the above which is wonderful and I’ve have discovered I have a little square chin, rather than the two (or even three) rounded chins that I normally have. Bonus!

At first I thought the Jay was screeching at me for food, until I put some out and it ignored it. It carried on screeching right next me. I went into the kitchen at one point and noticed it stopped. I came back and it started. I realised it had looked at me, sat in my living room and decided I was too close to the branch that it had chosen and was shouting at me to go away! Erm…..!?

This is Little Groot, the huge chilli plant we cut right back to a tiny stump when it stopped giving us chilli’s. It’s a tenacious little fecker and has come back with a vengeance, which we hoped but didn’t really expect.

I find the trend of young women shaving the peach fuzz off their cheeks such a shame. It’s natural, your skin isn’t supposed to look as smooth and shiny as a Barbie Dolls and why are we adding yet another step in the relentless quest to look perfect’? Here’s me with my fluffy face (you can see it on the right hand side in contrast with the shadow) which most people find really sweet.

Style

I went through a pastel-goth moment (perfect style to cheer up grey, cold weather) and found this huge metal quote pin from Crazy Crafty Chick Club.

I’m still rocking my custom Airforce 1’s and find that they go with basically everything. I can fit my orthotics in them and I can wear my ankle brace with them too. If you need spacious, stable but fairly light weight footwear, these are dream shoes!

I’ve finally got all of the styles of boots I’ve ever wanted so I will not be buying any more, ever. The chunky pair are from Koi and the slimmer pair are from Newlook (detachable wings from Koi) and everything is vegan.

Beauty

I stumbled across this independent soap brand in Tesco of all places as it was the only soap left but it’s the best soap though, how odd!? Vegan, cruelty free and genuinely natural. They do a range for pets too!

Cheered myself up with a sparkly coral mani.

Food

I bought this beautiful vegan porcini mushroom sauce and gluten free gnocchi in a huge (and perfectly timed) shop from Ocado just before all of their delivery slots got maxed out.

First salad of the year! With Violife Greek Block (supposed to be feta, tastes exactly like goats cheese instead) and Gosh! Mediterranean Red Pepper Falafel. I do get boxes of cheap falafel mix from the corner shop as well but these are quick and easy for when I’m fatigued.

Amy’s Burritos are the perfect size between a snack and a meal. This one is the tofu breakfast scramble and there are several others with rice and one with cheesy baked-beans. So good!

I tried Violife extra cheesy block and ‘ham’ slices, which had such similar textures and even flavours, that they blended together to create one weird flavour in my sandwich. Fail! The ‘ham’ is perfect on a sarny with pickled onion/cauliflower or a teeny bit of mustard. The cheese is perfect on a sarny with spring onions or on a cracker with sandwich pickle.

What a strange, almost surreal month that was.

πŸ–€βœ¨ChrissieπŸ–€βœ¨