Sacla Italia Free-from Sauces

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I thought I’d share these with you as I’ve never made a sauce from scratch in my life but I can knock up a pretty decent dish, with these gluten and dairy free sauces. I usually add pine nuts to the pesto when using on pasta or I just add a little pesto on my pizza or on ‘cheese’ and crackers. The risotto I have just the way it is, as it’s amazing. To the tomato sauce, I add some black olives and halved cherry tomatoes and have it with pasta or gnocchi.

Chrissie

Gluten & Dairy Free Veggie Shopping List & Reviews

Tesco Onion Rings

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Tasty and crispy.

Cauldron Marinated Tofu Pieces

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I absolutely love these simply fried up with some white onion and covered in salt, Szechuan pepper, black pepper, a tiny bit of BBQ sauce.

nakd Peanut Delight and Banana Crunch

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I know a lot of people don’t like nakd bars that much because of how squidgy they are but these two bars are crunchy with lots of texture. Whenever I come across the peanut one’s I buy about five at once.

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B Free Fajita Kit consists of some of the best gluten free tortillas I’ve tried, slightly sweet but spicy seasoning and spicy salsa.

Terra Vegane Easy Cheezy is a powder which is really easy to mix with any milk substitute and freshly cooked pasta in a pan. The flavour is very subtle so I use rice milk, a pinch of salt, a flat teaspoon of sugar and some smoked paprika to add a unique cheese flavour.

Cortas Falafel Mix is so simple to make. You just ad the required amount of water, stir  and let sit for two hours. It looks a little sloppy but if you plop a spoonful into a frying pan and leave the underside to fry before you try moving it you will get crunchy falafel where the centre is still soft and slightly moist.

Tesco Curry Noodles taste similar to a curry Pot Noodle (which is a nice change from Thai style curry flavours) and the rice noodles have a more solid consistency than some others I’ve tried. Perfect quick meal that’s surprisingly filling.

Schlar Cream Crackers taste a lot like Jacobs cream crackers but they are rather brittle and end up in pieces every time I try to spread something on them!

Curried Patra

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A roll usually provides two servings. This is easily reheated and rehydrated when nuked in a microwave for two minutes. Really tasty, even more so with a drizzle of sesame oil.

Ten Acre Crisps cheese and onion (I refuse to pretend that a piece of cheese is meeting an onion) flavour

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Me and my friends all read the ingredients because we couldn’t quite believe that these crisps were dairy free. They are delicious! Ten Acres (veggie) Chicken Soup flavour crisps are also amazing.

Meridian Pesto (I drew the ‘C’s’ on it so as not to confuse it with the Bloke’s jar)

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I love how much texture and protein this pesto has because of the large amount of cashews. I do wish it contained more salt and oil though as I always end up adding some.

Mrs Crimbles Bakewell Slices

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These Bakewell Slices along with Mrs Crimbles Coconut Chocolate Macaroons and Jam Coconut Rings have meant I’ve been able to eat cakes again when ever I want. They are so moist and lovely.

Good Hemp, Hemp Seed Hearts

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I was intrigued and a tad baffled when I was presented with these. Turns out they are perfect for adding a mild nutty flavour and a lot of protein to cereal or salads.

Go Falafel

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Yeah, I know this chain is really well known but it’s so good! I don’t know how many years the one just around the corner from Piccadilly on Newton Street was there before I found out about it. They are dairy free and you can ask for the Lunch Box with another piece of falafel instead of bread if you have a gluten intolerance or allergy. The salad is always interesting and fresh and changes slightly daily.

Which one’s do you like and which will you try?

Chrissie

Dairy Free, Veggie Goodies!

As I’m vegetarian with a food intolerance to dairy and I use cruelty free household products I thought it a good idea to sign up for The Vegan Kind lifestyle box. Here is the dairy free yumminess it contained.

 

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Clockwise from top left

Terra Vegane, Easy Cheezy

This is amazing! The texture and the taste is so similar to cheese sauce and it was really simple to use. I added rice milk rather than soy milk, as suggested on the packet as I think it tastes more like milk.

Hoots

I’m gutted to tell you that I’ve lost these. I have no clue where they could be! I love crunchy, savoury foods so I looked forward to trying them all week but they are no where to be seen. Humph.

Clearspring, Organic Sea Veg Crispies

You don’t get very many paper thin sheets of this seaweed here but it is tasty and crispy. I wish they were a little thicker and there were more of it. A good source of iodine but a bit pointless as a satisfying snack.

Melting Pot, Handmade Madagascan Vanilla Fudge

As a kid on holiday my parents would always buy fudge so I’ve fudged my self around the UK coast essentially…Yeah that does sound wrong, ha! Anyway, this is the creamiest, most delicious fudge I’ve ever tried, which is quite a feat considering it’s dairy free!

Sarelle

Yes, this sounds more like a birth control pill than a chocolate bar but it’s absolutely delicious. Think of this as the dark chocolate version of a Bueno or a Forrero Rocher.

Oatly, Oat Drink in Chocolate

It got to a point were I stopped buying chocolate milk shakes because the chocolate flavour had such a bitter taste but this is lovely and sweet. It’s another wonderful example of “I can’t believe it’s not dairy” which all brands can achieve if they bother to try.

Garbanzo (chick peas), Cajun Kick

I completely understand why gram flour is made with chickpeas now. These are so dry and floury that when you start chewing them they absorb all of the moisture in your mouth. Not at all pleasant. I also think Graze have a better idea by mixing crunchy ingredients together like peas, corn and nuts and complimentary flavours (such as chilli and lime) to create snacks which are more interesting in flavour and texture.

Chrissie

 

 

 

Slabs Crisps & Bruschetta (dairy and/or gluten free) review

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I’ve found the crisp equivalent of a Yorkie chocolate bar – giant, chunky Slabs crisps. Each crisp is huge and absolutely full of flavour, literally awesome.

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I don’t think I’ve ever tasted crisps with more flavour than these Sweet Red Chilli one’s, wow!

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Full house, dairy and wheat free! Shame it’s only the sea salt flavour though.

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Here is something to always watch out for, just because the flavouring of something sounds dairy free, such as ‘Salt & Malt Vinegar’ it’s really important to read the ingredients. As you can see these contain lactose, a sugar derived from milk.

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Bread suitable for vegans? Fantastic! When I saw that these were individually cooked round breads I thought the crusts were going to be really hard but they were so light and really easy to eat, with or without a topping of mayo etc. I had to leave these alone after eating 3, 4, ok 6, because of my gluten intolerance but I highly recommend these to any veggie or vegan.

Chrissie

Banyan Restaurant, Corn Exchange

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Me and the Bloke decided to take Banyan up on their offer of an amazing 50% off for black Friday. We booked for mid-week as that was part of the offer and because we like to avoid the weekend crowds for quicker service and a more chilled atmosphere.

 

We found the decor to be that mixture of reclaimed industrial and practical vintage that every newish bar in Manchester displays these days. The lighting and furniture was soft and lent a nice coziness to the place. The tables were a decent size and not too tightly packed – very dyspraxic friendly!

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This Revitalise was the best mocktail I’ve ever tried, with blended kiwi, blueberry, raspberry, passion fruit, apple and lime. Wow!

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Oddly enough this is the first time I’ve tried hipster-bar-staple smashed avocado on toast. The edamame beans complimented the avo perfectly, like they were born to be together. Huge plus – the bread was gluten free and really nice. The Bloke was not impressed with his olives (in a very cute kilner jar) as they were cold, straight from the fridge but how else can you store them?

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I ordered the roasted veg and halloumi skewer, with sweet potatoes and tzatziki dip (you can choose your accompaniment and sauce) which I really enjoyed. The side salad was welcome and refreshing as well. I’ve never been faced with (whisper) too much halloumi before and gave the Bloke a chunk as I thought his red thai veggie curry – although delicious – wasn’t as substantial as it could have been.

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For desert the Bloke ordered sticky toffee pudding as he always does and said it was one of the best he’d ever tried (on a par with Greens in Didsbury) and I went for the salted caramel options as I always do. Salted caramel and chocolate torte which wasn’t gluten free but I didn’t care! It was beautiful, the perfect mix of salty and sweet. If it were a person I would marry it. We weren’t that impressed with the vanilla pod ice cream as it didn’t taste like traditional vanilla but more like an average block of ‘white’ ice cream you used to get from the ice cream van for 50p.

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The service we got was friendly and our server pointed out gluten free options for me on the desert menu but I have to say the pace of the service – although not quite glacial – was rather leisurely. This was mid-week from 7.30, with only two to three other tables occupied upstairs so I can’t imagine what it would be like later, on a weekend. I got an apology for how long it took her to bring the bill but it was no slower than the speed it took to get anything else that evening so I was barley noticing by that point. Banyan is not a place you quickly pop-in for a snack but rather a place where you go to kill time, apparently.

I was quite impressed with the value for money regarding the portion sizes as I’ve payed similar prices for much smaller servings. I’ve payed less for portions that are a similar size but the food wasn’t as good a quality, nor the dishes as interesting.

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Clear indications on menu of foods which are veggie, gluten free and ones containing nuts. (V) (N) (GF)

Gluten free menu available on request

Vegan menu available on request

Banyan, Manchester
Exchange Square
Manchester
M4 3TR

0161 832 4798

Have you been to Banyan?

Chrissie

 

Christmas Gifts for Foodies

Christmas Gifts for Foodies

 

#nom

It’s My 3rd Blogversary! Thank You ^_^

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An absolutely mahoosive thank you to everyone who has been with me since the start or found this blog a while ago or have just discovered it. Your comments and likes have spurred me on to keep blogging and have been the highlight of my day when I’ve been having a bad one. Your support and enthusiasm has made me feel like I’m actually good at something when Dyspraxia has made me feel otherwise. You have made me laugh (with you, not at you), you’ve been as excited about geeky things, urban things and cruelty free things as I have and really made me think about life with your observations and advice. You are all awesome!

It is so strange to think that three years I finally took peoples advice and started a little unassuming blog. A blog which turned into something that a lot of lovely strangers actually started to follow and commented on and then some of my fave brands which I’ve used for years started to gift me their products to review and invites started arriving for blogger events, meals and cocktails!

The most surprising thing however, is that I’ve actually kept this up for three years and yes, people leave but new people follow every week. When ever I’ve felt bored because of illness or Winter weather or I’ve felt lonely, this has been a little sanctuary that I can visit, with a cuppa and snuggly wrap around cardigan, which always makes me smile.

To anyone who’s followed this blog for a long time, I appreciate you putting up with the early days of back-to-front structured sentences (thats how my thoughts sound in my head) and under or over exposed photo’s. I never realised that as a blogger I would become a copy writer, an editor, a photographer of all sorts of subjects, a photographic editor, a creator of layouts and an organised (gasp!) person capable of meeting deadlines, tagging and scheduling blog posts and the owner of several busy and successful social media accounts. Phew!

To anyone reading this who isn’t a blogger, why ever not? Give it a go, what have you got to loose? Even if you only get a small amount of followers, you will still have a creative journal of your life and maybe learn some new skills along the way.

Now give me some cake!

Genuine thanks from the bottom of my heart

Chrissie

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Making blogging events look glamorous since 2013.

Dinner at the Metropolitan – Didsbury

On Friday we decided to go for a drink and then for a meal. We visited The Metropolitan as they have a chilled atmosphere in the pub and a nice restaurant offering several interesting and well considered veggie options.

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I wish I’d have known how nice the outside area was before now, as we’d have visited regularly over the Summer with cocktails from the incredibly well stocked bar. As you can see, I was eyeing up the cakes from the moment we sat down in the restaurant lol

Starters

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Goats cheese and chive hash brown with apple puree and mixed leaves. This was absolutely lovely. The apple puree really complimented the goats cheese and was a nice twist.

Mains

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Asparagus tagliatelle, asparagus spears, Gran Moravia cheese, white wine & asparagus sauce. I very rarely see a mains with a white sauce as a veggie option so I was really looking forward to this, so much that I started eating it before remembering to take a piccy – oops! The sauce was delicate and well balanced and the asparagus was al dente just the way it should be. The only addition I would have added were pine nuts possibly. 

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I love skin-on sweet potato fries so ordered them as a side. The portion size of my mains and the side were so generous, I had to ask for a doggy bag for half of the fries!

Desert

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Lemon posset with lemon shortbread biscuits. This was delicious! Imagine the thickest, creamiest, smoothest cheesecake you’ve ever had. The biscuits were crunchy and buttery. I’ve tried a lemon posset and biscuits before at Greens restaurant and this was as amazing as that.

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The bloke ordered the same starter and desert as myself but chose sticky toffee pudding, toffee sauce and ice cream. He said it was perfectly cooked on the outside and slightly gooey in the middle and really complimented by the sauce and fresh berries.

The only negative aspect of the night was that every time I ordered a cocktail I had to wait ages for it to arrive and flag someone down to inquire about it. I ordered one straight after my starter and had finished my main dish by the time it had arrived! Oddly, later as I went to the bar I got served instantly and was asked by two more people if I was being served. Maybe best to go to the restaurant on a weekday instead!

Chrissie

 

V Revolution Manchester – Vegan Cafe

 

For the record let me state I’m a part time vegan. I do add honey to sweeten things if it’s already in the cupboard, I do buy leather shoes but also lots of pleather ones and I eat pizza with real cheese sometimes and fake cheese a lot of the time. Glad we cleared that up.

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The best way to describe V Revolution in the Northern Quarter is to say it’s a vegan version of a 50’s American diner, with a retro look and really creative junk food. There’s no juke box but the staff play seriously good tunes all day ranging from rock, hip-hop and dance. iPod’s on shuffle maybe?

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I think this menu is fab, even though it oddly lacks an option for fries or onion rings on the side. Me and the bloke chose the Barbecuban Missile Crisis which came with nacho’s.

The crispy onions (the little brown pieces) added a really nice crunch to what was a very tasty, slightly soft and incredibly slippy burger. The ‘cheese’ melted and tasted like regular cheese and the burger was a great consistency also. Both me and the bloke agreed it would have been easier to eat if the slaw was on top of the natcho’s rather than pilled on the burger. I liked the taste of the facon but would have preferred it fried so it was firm rather than floppy.

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There were four indulgent looking cakes at the counter but I didn’t get a slice as I would have preferred something a little lighter like a scoop of vegan ice cream. The staff had prepared lemon infused water and there were also a selection of teas available. I chose jasmine tea which was lovely and refreshing, the bloke chose of cup of builders tea and didn’t moan about the soy milk for once! I was able to stock up on a range of meat and cheese substitutes while I was there, which was really convenient!

Rating ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

V Revolution, 88 Oldham street, Manchester

Open 12.00pm – 6.00pm (except Tuesday)

Lilly’s vegetarian Indian restaurant – Ashton

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Lilly’s Indian vegetarian restaurant in Ashton (Thameside/Greater Manchester) can make substitutions to all dishes so they can be vegan and Jain rather than just veggie. The menu is extensive and covers Indo-Chinese dishes, South and North Indian dishes. They know exactly what ingredients go into their food and tend to use traditional gram (chickpea) four instead of wheat, so a great place to go if you have food intolerances or allergies.

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I recently went to Lilly’s with my bloke and our friend L and we all chose similar starters as it was a hot day and we wanted something cooling. I chose Dahi Puri, Crispy puri filled with puffed rice, sev, potatoes, onions, chickpeas, yoghurt and tamarind sauce. My three faves: Puri, yoghurt and tamarind combined!

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Our friend L ordered The Sizzla, a literally sizzling dish with grilled green peppers, panner cheese, spring onions and a meat substitute which was amazing, the whole dish was amazing actually. The bloke ordered a Vegetable Lasinya, mixed veggies cooked with butter, garlic and traditional Indian spices and a (very strong) garlic bread. I ordered Paneer Makhani, Paneer cooked in creamy sauce with onions and spices along with the best vegetable pilau rice I’ve ever tasted.

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All of our dishes were wonderful but that’s no surprise. We’ve all visited 4 four times together (we do tend to avoid the South Indian dishes as we generally don’t like that style of cooking) and we’ve never found anything which we didn’t like. I’ll be trying the Indo-Chinese section on my next visit.

Rating ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Lilly’s 75-83 Oldham Road, Ashton, Tameside, OL6 7DF Tel: 0161 339 4774

Open: 11.00am – 8.00pm (7.00pm Sunday)

Chrissie