I Try Vertigo plant based Restaurant

There are quite a few vegan and vegetarian eateries that have opened in Manchester the past few years and first on my list to try out was Vertigo. Located at 1 First Street (a relatively new area including Indian Tiffin Room, Home cafe/restaurant complex, Junk Yard Golf where you get pissed and then play crazy golf and Bunny Jackson’s a dive bar-esque place with live music) Vertigo is an airy, contemporary, yet cozy little place.

Yes, it is a tad hipsterish with it’s glass jars and bottles, mini condiments and teeny clipboard menus but everything is well thought out; functional and quirky.

This is me eying up my food arriving. We snagged a cozy booth for four even though there were just two of us. I ordered the homemade pink lemonade which was lovely, if a little too sweet. All of the beer was local and gluten free and they had a great range of fresh juices.

Small plate (to share)

3 Chickn’ Lollipops with satay and sambal dipping sauce to share. The chickn’ was quite dry but tasty and the satay sauce was one of the best I’ve had. Not keen on the sambal though as the flavour was too sharp for me.

Small Plate (starters)

Eee yuh can’t beat a bit’uh veggie/vegan black pud! This was lovely and rich with the complimentary flavours of black pudding (from Bury Market), beetroot ketchup, a huge heap of mild rocket and a light mustard dressing. I wish the pud was crunchier on the outside but is that even traditional?

Large Plate (mains).

I’m English, it’s been winter and somehow I haven’t had pie and mash for four months, four! This was a well filled mushroom pie, with savoury gravy, mash, pickled cabbage and….where are my crunchy onions!? Now, I love anything pickled but would have preferred peas (mushy or otherwise) with this particular dish. The Bloke makes the creamiest vegan mash, which still has a bit of texture to it and sadly, this slightly bland (and suspiciously smooth) offering just didn’t compare.

Desert (pudding)

Seeing as me pie want gluten free (I’m sounding Northern again), I decided not to push my poor tummy and to order a gluten free apple and plumb pie to go. Our lovely server knocked a quid off because we didn’t want to try and package the ice cream or to carry it around. Perfect pastry to fruit ratio and perfect sweet and tart ratio. Perfect apple to plumb ratio? I reckoned so.

Overall

I really like the sustainable ethics (glass not plastic bottles, paper straws and paper takeaway boxes), the simple cross-cultural menu and the styling of Vertigo and will be visiting again.

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Vertigo, Unit 9, Jack Rosenthal Street, Manchester, M15 4RA

vertigomcr.co.uk

This post is not sponsored in any way.

🖤✨Chrissie✨🖤

Asda Plant Based Tika Masala V’s Wicked Kitchen Tika

I’ve recently discovered that I love Tika ‘curry’ sauce, which is the sweet and creamy Westernised version of an Indian curry (very similar to Red Thai curry as it happens). A few days after my discovery I found that both Asda and Tesco do Tika veggie ready meals so I bought them both.

Asda Plant Based, Tika Masala with Pilau Rice 400g

Vegan (so dairy free) and gluten free this curry is half chickpea and cauliflower Tika Masala curry and half strongly flavoured pilau rice. It Microwaves throughly (in an apparently recyclable dish) within minutes and retains a decent texture.

The tikka sauce is delicious and as authentic as any that I’ve had from a restaurant. Sadly, the perfumed flavour of the rice (which contains a large bay leaf and cloves) totally overpowers it, to the point where I can’t eat the two together.

Sadly, this meal didn’t really fill me up and I was looking for a snack only a few hours after. I seem to metabolise carbs surprisingly quickly and need a decent amount of protein for lasting energy.

Manchester City council only recycles plastic bottles, nothing else so I’m using the bowl as my everyday microwave dish now.

Rating 3/5

Wicked Kitchen Cheeky Tikka 380g

Gluten, vegan and dairy free this is 2/3 Saffron rice and 1/3 curry with pea protein chunks (like chicken), roasted chickpea and sweet potato, with a topping of green beans.

I didn’t particularly notice the sweet potato as it was so similar in flavour to the gorgeous tikka sauce but I appreciated the green beans. I loved the texture and flavour of the pea protein and wished there was more of it. The saffron rice was so authentic and tasty that I didn’t even mind the large quantity of it.

As I don’t need anymore draw separators, storage boxes, microwavable containers, lunch boxes or spare-change tubs, the large plastic container is now in landfill or a giant rubbish heap somewhere. Sad but true.

After eating this I didn’t feel peckish again for around three and a half hours so I would recommend this as a full vegan meal, with enough carb and protein content for my body.

Rating 4/5

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Result

I really need to learn how to batch cook Tikka Masala and Saffron Rice for myself so I can freeze them and make my own ready meals!

🖤✨Chrissie✨🖤

Monthly Life Update – January

My memory is so crap for these type of posts, I need to start writing this stuff down everyday.

Lifestyle 💁🏽‍♀️

Check out these eyebrows! I’ve fully grown them out so I can tweeze them back into a coherent shape easily. Ive given this top to charity as I constantly had to lint roller fluff off it. Ain’t no one got time for that!

Carrying on with trying to minimise my impact on the planet, I bought these Sustainable Essentials from Ecologue.

Me pissing around and doing The Dolly Parton Challenge.

After 1 wrong order (and a correction) and 2 stunning deliveries with flower delivery company Bloom and Wild, I ordered Lillies and white roses. The roses died long before the lillies even opened. I’ve learned my lesson and shall be buying from Tesco…or the garage from now on!

Skincare 🧖🏽‍♀️

The most effective deodorant I’ve ever used is Ohii, Charcoal Natural Deodorant (which I like to think is pronounced ‘Oh, eye?’). It’s vegan, yay! But not refillable, boo!

Glycolic Acid is my friend once again in – the incredibly effective – Pixi, Glow Tonic. Cleanses, brightens and smooths without being too drying.

Stressing Less 💆🏻‍♀️

I’ve noticed that if I don’t pressure myself to go to bed and wake up at a reasonable time, I sleep much better. I go to bed around 1.00am when I’m actually tired enough to sleep and anytime I’ve had enough sleep is when I get up. That’s reasonable for me.

I’m also stressing less about what is supposed to be happening when and tend to just be content with what is happening now. Not caring about being in control of everything and just letting stuff play out is a lot less stressful!

Wearing 👚

I tried to get some style basics in the sales and had mixed success but I like these posts because they give you an idea of various brands sizing and quality etc.

Eating 🥗

Having three meals a day and eating a small breakfast before my body desperately needs fuel, so I have a clear head and the energy to put together something nicer later on.

I’ve gotten back into salad/deli type foods like humus, pickles, roasted peppers and tomatoes, crackers, seeds, nuts, stuffed vine leaves, chilled tofu (fried in toasted sesame oil and then chilled makes it taste like chicken breast for some reason) and so many condiments. There’s half a shelf full of them in the fridge lol BUT I’ve discovered my fave noodle place has stopped doing sushi! 😱

Greggs have launched their Vegan Stakebake and Vegan Sausageroll, so although I’m cheating with the gluten in the pastry, I still HAD to try them. Sadly I ran out of change and could only afford the stakebake, which was Delicious!

Reading 📖

I couldn’t get my head into reading books over Jan so I’ve been reading blogs including Roses Have Thoughts , Square One Notes , Mae Polzine and Cosmopolitan, Red, and Vogue, which was in a two-for-one deal surprisingly. I’ve read some great interviews, features, tips and reviews.

Watching 👀

Better than Human (with English subs) – this was similar to, but better than the Humans. Not as preachy and waster pacing and more relatable characters I thought.

Black Mirror series 2 – I really enjoyed this because it wasn’t as heavy as the first but still very poignant.

Black Lightning – Pop corn for the mind, with extra cheese. The quality of the fight scenes, the character arcs, the editing and the pacing of the story were all wildly uneven. The characters were likeable and the soundtrack consistently good though.

Santa Clarita Diet – featuring Drew Barrymore as a zombie and a wife and Mum. Once you get passed the clunky acting and awkwardly timed jokes in the first series and it just gets better and better. Brilliantly bizarre!

🖤✨Chrissie✨🖤

Is Greggs Vegan Stake Bake any Good?

The Bloke surprised me with this the other day and I HAD to share it with you!

First off, Id never know the flakey pastry was vegan, in fact it holds together much better so you don’t get covered in it. More importantly, it tastes EXACTLY like meat in a thick savoury gravy.

One thing to mention is The Bloke cheated on me and ate one without me! Seriously though, he said his was “…a bit more chunky, like proper little steak pieces.” My two bakes where more mince meaty; you could have had the filling in a (vegan) Cottage pie. Hmmm, not sure what to make of that inconsistency!?

I’m sure all three were vegan though, otherwise our tummies would have let us know very quickly!

Verdict Amazing! 5/5

🖤✨Chrissie✨🖤

Trying the Autumn Menu from Pizza Express

Me and the bloke decided some Italian inspired food was well overdue and booked ourselves in with Pizza Express in Piccadilly to try their new Autumn menu.

I did a little fun poll on Twitter and Instagram (which got a whole 8 participants lol) to decide what to wear. Urban/Street 20% , Alternative 40%, Mix it up 40% Fancy-ish 20% so I went with a sailor tattoo inspired rockabilly blouse, a little black shrug, kickflare fitted jeans and feminine but chunky-soled boots. I would never have thought of putting all of them together but it worked!

Pizza Express’ new veggie dishes include a starter of Creamy Baked Garlic Mushroom with vegan mozzarella or goats cheese. Battered Halloumi bites are a new side. A main of Calzone Verdure with roasted peppers, aubergine and courgette with spinach and smoky tomato harissa. The Carbonara Romana Pizza with pancetta, mozzarella and garlic oil on a béchamel base, baked with a free-range egg. Risotto con Funghi creamy white wine risotto with Portobello mushrooms. Two chocolate deserts and an Orange & Cacao Gin Buck cocktail.

For starters I got Tomato, mozzarella and pesto (I asked for the vegan mozzarella as I love it but was told it wasn’t an option, even though it was an option with the blokes starter!?). He got the new Creamy Baked Garlic Mushroom which he thought was well balanced and tasty but not worth over £6.00! We got a huge Superfood Salad to share which is always delicious.

 

I ordered the new risotto which was delicious and very filling but not heavy. I didn’t get why it had so much rocket on it though. I had halloumi in the fridge at home so I  ordered (my fave side) polenta sticks with honey and mustard dressing. The bloke got his usual understated and under rated pizza with olives, capers, sultanas and red onions. Sounds weird but it works!

Staff were helpful and friendly and service was speedy as usual. Our only complaint was that the temperature was way too hot, even though me and the bloke were only wearing thin tops and jeans.

What would you have eaten?

Chrissie

Wicked Kitchen Naked Burrito

I noticed this Wicked Kitchen Naked Burrito (400g  £4.00) by chance in Tesco next to the Quorn section. I figured this would be a handy ready meal bursting with flavour.

I liked the different textures of the rice, shredded Oyster mushrooms, kale and beans and found it very filling. Here I’ve added veggie pepperoni slices, a torn up Violife ‘cheese’ slice, sliced roasted peppers, gerkins, lettuce and green and black olives. Considering this is based on a Latin dish I didn’t notice any heat, just very mildly spiced tomato rice and hardly any jalapeños.

Good Points

The fresh lime wedge was a nice touch

Incredibly quick and accessible snack

Full of protein, just half of this is really filing.

Fair price for the large amount that you get and the quality ingredients

Vegan

Gluten free (for me personally this is a huge plus)

Bad Points

Would have been more practical at half the amount and price, in cardboard tray. I think this maybe too expensive for some people to include in their weekly shop and not easily recycled in a lot of cities.

I’ve had 75p boil-in-the-bag Mediterranean rice more piquant than this – snooze.

Rating 4/5

Chrissie

Shopping at Ocado for Free-from Food & Review of Items

Why Ocado?

I’m not able to get out of the house much (especially in the warmer weather) and I feel awful sending my Dad and my bloke out with lists of incredibly specific items that not every individual supermarket stocks. Imagine my Dad asking a member of staff for “This quinowaa stuff in a tub? It was on the Instagram.” “Sounds exotic, try the foreign isle.” (That’s the only thing they ever suggest because they can’t be arsed looking) and my bloke trying to explain that “No, harrisa paste won’t be in the DIY section!”

Is it easy?

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So easy! For a start there’s a ‘Browse Shop’ tab (top left) which reveals all of the different sections of the shop including toiletries, gardening, baby as well as frozen, fresh etc. I chose ‘Free From & Organic’. From the next list I choose ‘vegetarian’, ‘dairy free’ and ‘gluten free’. You can also filter by brands and what’s on offer. Minimum order is £40, which I would say is an average family, weekly shop anyway.

Booking and deliveries

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It’s displayed on an easy to understand grid, with the dates across the top and the 1 hour delivery times underneath. I’m not sure how far into the future you can schedule a delivery but it’s best to bear in mind that a product may be available when ordering but not necessarily available by the time your delivery happens.

You can alter your delivery times and edit your basket (you do have to check out again for the latter) up until the day before it’s due to arrive. You get a text the day before your delivery reminding you of the time, then another on the day telling you the name of your driver, the colour of the van (‘lemon’ which had giant lemons all over) and the reg. It also tells you if any item is unexpectedly out of stock. I found it amusing that, of all things they’d run out of my plain old toothpaste.

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Staff are so friendly and will carry your shopping right into your kitchen for you. Everything comes in named and colour coded bags so you can see where everything should go.

It is easy being green!

A little green van symbol indicates ‘greener delivery slots’. These are when an Ocado van is already doing another delivery in your area, so less millage and fuel burnt. You keep your bags and hand them back and any cardboard beer/wine holders on your next delivery.

The Food

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The Good

Everything by Sacla is always perfect.

Biona Fruit Bears are so much juicer better than Haribo.

Nakd Salted Caramel Bars are perfectly balanced between sweet and salty. They are so soft that it’s better to store them in the fridge on hot days.

Livia’s Nuglets are similar in flavour and also better kept in the fridge, for that chunks-of-cookie-dough-in-ice-cream effect.

Gu Spanish Lemon Cheesecakes are absolutely dreamy!

Gosh! Spinach and Pinenut Bites are basically a mild, soft falafel. These taste great with a few drops of water splashed on and warmed in the microwave for 10 seconds, then teamed with humus and salad.

Soulful One Pot, Brazillian Tomato and Black Bean with Cashews and Quinoa was so creamy for something dairy free and the ingredients were all so perfectly balanced, it was a delight to eat.

Violife block of cheese is the best dairy-free cheese I’ve eaten. Like a giant block of Dairylee slices.

Quorn Peperoni slices do contain milk in the flavourings but not enough to have an effect on me. Perfect cold in sandwiches with American mustard or hot on a pizza.

The Bad

Bakery of Main GF Muesli Banana flavour – No where near enough banana pieces!

Warburton’s GF Loaf – Sticks to your teeth like a sponge rehydrating it’s self. schaar white loaf is so much better.

Free and Easy Chickpea and Vegetable Curry – I was expecting something like an Indian daal, what I got was a Mexican chilli. Hmm.

The Meh…

Soulful One Pot, Mexican Bean and Sweet Potato with Quinoa – I thought I might not like the flavour of the quinoa but it was pleasant. I was disappointed that the flavour of the sweet potato was barley noticeable. I found that I was begrudgingly plodding my way through it, simply because I was hungry.

Clive’s Pies – These came out of the oven so damn dry! It didn’t say to microwave them but I did and they came out like a pudding from the chippy, nom! Still not a patch on other veggie pies I’ve eaten as they are stingy on the filling. Sort it out Clive!

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I’ve found the whole experience so much less stressful and time consuming than doing a physical shop. It wasn’t anymore expensive and I now have a fully stocked kitchen of lovely food that won’t make me ill. I accepted my second delivery (filled with more every-day type stuff, as well as a few new things) as I was typing this. After I’ve tried everything I’m going to edit my favourites list online and then just have it as a repeat order every month I reckon.

Chrissie

 

 

 

 

Kirsty’s Classic Margherita Pizza Gluten & Dairy Free review

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It’s unusual for me to find a pizza that is GF and DF, especially one that has a fair amount of toppings. I found this in Tesco.

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Studies have found that our gut health does directly relate to our emotions because they are connected by the vagus nerve, which transmits signals between them. Ever been really nervous and had a slushy feeling in your stomach or received bad news and felt your stomach drop? Ever eaten something you know doesn’t agree with your stomach in the evening and then had really chaotic anxiety dreams? It does make you wonder!

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They could add more cheese around the edge but the sauce is delicious and the thin base is lovely and crispy so I wasn’t too bothered. My only complaint is that the ‘cheese’ was too sweet. Nice flavour to it but I had to add salt and pepper to make it more savoury.

In my gas oven I had to put this on the shelf that’s above middle but not right at the top, rather than the middle as suggested. I also had to put it on gas mark 7 (higher than the temperature suggested) and leave it in for five minutes longer. Frustrating at first but I’m glad I persevered.

The bloke cooked his in a microwave-combi oven and followed the instructions exactly. It came out perfect!?

Rating 4/5 (depending on oven)

Chrissie

 

Gluten and Dairy Free Crisps from Aldi

I think I’ve found the Holy Grail of crisps for people with dairy and gluten intolerance!

Wait, what actually is a food intolerance?

Food intolerances, although not as dangerous as some allergies, can have a very real and detrimental affect on daily life. Sometimes causing severe bloating/water retention, facial redness, shortness of breath, bad skin, serious gut pain, bowel problems and fatigue. As a result of the body seeing this food as alien, it not only raises histamines (very stressful for our immune system) but the body doesn’t absorb much goodness from the food so vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common.

Can’t you just avoid cheese, milk, pasta and bread then?

This is exactly what I thought at first, until I discovered that Lactose (a milk sugar) and Gluten (a grain protein) are often used in flavourings to bulk them out and to get them to stick to the snack. I’ve honestly been in so many supermarkets where I couldn’t buy ANY crisps or flavoured rice cakes or popcorn, not even trusty Salt & Vinegar flavour sometimes because of either Lactose or Gluten in the flavouring. The big bags of ‘posh crisps’ tend to be a little better I’ve noticed but they are so dear!

So do they taste any good?

All of these flavours taste unique and wonderful. Ranging from sweet but spicy Serrano Chilli & Yucatán Honey along with Tomatillo Salsa, to the spicy, smokey but slightly sharper Chipotle and Lime, to traditional Sea Salt and Black Pepper and the more unusual, zingy Sea Salt and Lime. My fave surprisingly.

Any other good stuff?

Both ranges are pleasantly affordable and the textures are crunchy but not too hard, a lot like handmade tortilla chips you would get in a hipster bar.

The Specially Selected range contain 2.5% seeds, including Golden Linseed, Sunflower Seeds, Brown Linseed and Millet. The Tortillas With Spirit are made from Whole White Corn and Green Lentils.

Nom, nom…

A big handful of these dipped into hummus, chunky salsa or dairy free yoghurt are so filling and energy giving that I’ve been having them for lunch (on slower days) rather than just as a snack. Also, very nice crushed and sprinkled over salad for extra protein and texture.

🖤Chrissie🖤

September – Monthly Round-up

Food & Drink

My Bloke got me these posh teas from Twinings so I can have hot drinks that aren’t builders tea (strong, milk, two sugars) which I’m not overly fond of. I can’t attest to their waking and sleeping powers as my brain seems to function in any other way possible, than what’s expected; I can say they both taste lovely though. Fairly subtle and fresh in flavour and not too perfumy.

We are successfully growing chillies! The plant is both male and female so you get a really soft and narrow makeup brush and act like a bee and go around all of the flowers pollinating it. We planted it at the start of summer and now have seven decent sized chillies, with lots of tiny little green globes that will hopefully grow bigger.

I’ve figured out the perfect way of making a vegetarian Roast ‘Chicken’ Salad & Fahita Filling.

Style

This is the one of my trusty styles for autumn, along with a more dressy look I’ll post next month.

Of course there had to be something Halloween related as we near October. Unbelievably some of the things I wanted to include in Halloween Fashion were already sold out!

I’ve never been a big Disney Princess fan, in fact the words used to make me shudder as a kid BUT I’ve always loved a good baddie. Perfect for Halloween Disney Style.

Beauty

Here’s why this GOSH BB Cream was both a hit and a miss.

Ooh pretty! See what I thought of the Barry M Holographic Eye Toppers and what look I created using the green one.

If you want an everyday mascara which will be kind to your lashes and the environment then PHB Natural Mascara is the one you need.

Random

Even though my Bloke has never watched friends he has somehow picked up on the recent resurgence of it and has started saying Joey’s expression “How you doin’?” to me. He started off enthusiastically (and hilariously) saying “How ya doing!!!” while wiggling his eyebrows up and down. Bahahaa! Nope. I told him it’s “How you doin’?” with one eyebrow raise to accent the word ‘you’, that makes ALL the difference. He is now utterly and disarmingly brilliant at it! I seem to have subconsciously picked up on the Joey look too.

Squirrels hate me. Yup. On three separate occasions I have been screamed at by a squirrel. Walking by one on a footpath, walking under a low hanging branch and yesterday one was on a tree, next to the window and I was inside the flat! I’m starting to agree with Carrie Bradshaw that they are indeed ‘Just rats in cute outfits.’ Although, that may be an injustice to rats.

Here’s an honest and lighthearted list of 15 Relatable Ways Brain Fog Effects People. You might think of someone or even yourself as rather ‘ditzy’ or sort of ‘head in the clouds’ but it could be brain fog if they/you have chronic fatigue or various other conditions. I’ve come out with some great one-linners and wonderings while feeling brain-fogged however.

 

Chrissie