Protein Salad using Gosh falafel and Violife Greek White Block.

I know blogging about a salad is a little like when Carrie in Sex and the City resorted to writing ‘Men are like socks…’ because she’d run out of shit to say BUT we are on lockdown and to be fair it is a great salad, with two of my fave products, hopefully still available from your local supermarket.

Gosh Mediterranean Falafel

Black olives

Red and green bell pepper,

Ice berg lettuce

Rocket

Cucumber

Humus

Violife Greek White Block

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Sprinkle of mixed seeds

The Violife block wasn’t remotely salty or crumbly enough to be feta but Is was uncannily similar to goats cheese, yum!

I always steam falafel for a minute in the microwave to warm and soften it up a little. Gosh falafel is always tasty and never dry but if you get a brand that is, steaming will also help with that.

What are your fave salad additions?

🖤✨Chrissie✨🖤

Monthly Life Update – February

I’ve broken my record for often being ten minutes late by being ten days late as I thought I’d already posted this. Here’s everything I’ve been doing and reviewing!

Sorry I’m a bit grainy. Manchester doesn’t get much daylight in February.

Lifestyle

I created a list post called Self Imposed Ban on Buying and wrote down everything I have a lot of, the reason why I have a lot of it and why I shouldn’t buy any more of it. It’s a lot easier to realise what’s going on and to harden your resolve when you can see it in black and white.

I reposted Spring Cleaning My Beauty Cupboard from last year because I’ve done so well with keeping it ordered and thinking thoroughly about my purchases, that I’ve not needed to do it again this year.

Food and Dinning Out

Me and the Bloke have decided we are going to take it in turns to choose where we want to eat out for the evening (and who pays), at least once a month. The bloke chose Sai Spice an Indian place in Chorlton.

We ordered the veggie starter platter to share and four smaller curries. One spinach and dumpling based, one chickpea dahl, a nutty yoghurt based one and a spicy but not too hot Kolhapuri. Everything tasted amazing! It’s a brightly lit, affordable, family style place and I think Lilly’s would have some competition if they were closer to each other. Couldn’t resist grabbing a kulfi to go.

Here’s my review of Vertigo, the plant based restaurant at First Street, Manchester, which was my choice. I’d been wanting to go for a while but waited until I heard some good reviews as I’m not exactly rolling in cash.

I bought some ‘facon’ in the form of Coconut Bacon by Pimp my Salad, which I’m throwing on pretty much everything or just eating straight from the jar.

We made English Gluten Free Pancakes for pancake day or Shrove Tuesday as they call it.

I sampled one of Clive’s Tarts which I realised tasted lovely chilled or heated up. I was surprised it was both dairy and gluten free.

I’ve finally discover how wonderful Tika is! Tika panner, Tika broccoli (Yeah, I wasn’t expecting to come across that one either) and tika mock chicken. I reviewed two very different Tika Masala Veggie Readymeals, one from Tesco and one from Asda.

Skincare and Makeup

On my never ending quest to find a base that makes me look all glowy and healthy, rather than matte and a bit sallow, I bought Pixi Beauty Balm. Did it do the trick? You’ll have to click!

I’m trying to reduce my carbon footprint bit by bit, so I was pleased to find Zao essence of nature, a natural beauty brand that uses refillable bamboo packaging. I bought the essentials: Concealer and Mascara.

Thank you lovely people, for catching up with me.

🖤✨Chrissie✨🖤

Clive’s Vegan Tart, Tomato and Olive Provancale

Clive’s Vegan Tart, Tomato and Olive Provancale is gluten free and obviously dairy free as it’s vegan. It has such a thick, almost creamy filling, that I thought I must be eating dairy by mistake!

I either eat this tart hot and just in its own for a warming breakfast or I have it chilled (like quiche) with salad for dinner. I’ve not found a way to eat it for my tea yet as it doesn’t go with gravy. Any ideas lovely people?

Rating 5/5

🖤✨Chrissie✨🖤

Gluten Free English Pancakes

I call these English pancakes because they are thicker than French crapes but no where near as thick as bread-like Scotch or US pancakes.

Ingredients for normal pancakes is always equal amounts of:

Eggs

Milk

Flower

Ingredients for gluten free pancakes is equal amounts of

Eggs

Milk

Cornflower

You will need to keep slowly adding more cornflower and blending until you get your desired consistency.

Top with masses of sugar and lemon juice.

Here’s The Bloke being a right tosser. 😉 I managed one perfect flip and then tossed the second one so enthusiastically, it landed on the floor – on the other side of the kitchen! 🤣

Hope you have a flipping good time!

🖤✨Chrissie✨🖤

Coconut Bacon by Pimp My Salad

This is a vegan and gluten version of bacon bits, made mostly of dried (not baked) coconut so it retains all of the nutrients. They are fairly thin, crunchy flakes and have a strong bacon flavour, like Frazzles crisps!

The seasoning on the coconut bacon is slightly powdery and dry, so it’s preferable to eat with sushi and salad or to top stew and buttery baked-potatoes.

This brand originates from Australia and is also widely available the US. There are some health food shops which stock it the UK though, like Holland and Barrett, Planet Organic, Alternative Stores and Healthy Supplies.

If you adore bacon, this is not for you. If you’ve been veggie or vegan for a while and like various brands of ‘facon’ then I think you will appreciate this.

Rating 3/5

🖤✨Chrissie✨🖤

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.

————————

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

….

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✨🖤

Best Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Dairy Free Products & Places 2019

Best Meat Free Options

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Oumph! Kebab Spiced (soya based, gluten free) Incredible flavour, very filling, really easy to stir fry or grill, chunky and chewy!

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Like Meat, Like BBQ Chicken (soy based, gluten free) Ah-maze-ing! Similar taste and texture to a BBQ thigh but nicer. Another very versatile replacement but this time not as chewy.

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Quorn Fishless Fingers (Vegan, Not gluten free) Better than the fish fingers that I remember; these are lovely on a butty with citrusy or vinegar flavoured crisps or on a plate with beans and chips.

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Aldi No Sausage Rolls (Vegan, Not gluten free) If I didn’t already know these were vegetarian I would never have guessed. My only complaint is that the filing only fills 2/3rds of the width.

Best Dairy Free Ice Cream

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Perfect World, Caramel Pecan Ice Cream (Vegan, gluten free) This is full of flavour and vitamins and minerals. Personally, I’d have made the pecans chunkier but I’d still buy it again.

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Cornetto Vegan (Vegan, gluten free) The only noticeable difference between these and the usual ones are that they’re quite a bit smaller.

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Ben & Jerry’s, Coconutterly Caramel’d Ice Cream (vegan, gluten free) Gorgeous! As good as Chunky Monkey, almost as good as Cookie Dough :op

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Bouja – Bouja, Caramel Pecan Praline Ice Cream (dairy free, gluten free, organic) Very strong – almost smokey – flavour, really creamy consistency but the pecans and pralines are too blended. I add broken up digestive biscuits for more texture.

Snacks and Treats

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Manomasa, Tortillas (gluten free, dairy free) – Full of flavour and perfect for scooping up dips.

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Bouja-Bouja Chocolate Truffle Collection (dairy and gluten free) – Vanilla and rhubarb, cherry, salted caramel, caramel, hazelnut, ginger, rum, Champaign, espresso are the flavours in these truffle selections. Possibly the best dairy free chocolate in the world.

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KIND Snack Bars Caramel, Almond & Sea Salt (gluten free, NOT dairy free). Dark Chocolate, Nuts & Sea Salt (gluten free, dairy free). Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate (gluten free, dairy free). These are expensive at £1.50 each (!) but they are full of complementary flavours and really substantial.

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Genius Double Chocolate/Blueberry Muffins (gluten free, dairy free) Nommmmmm, that’s my breakfast and supper, right there.

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The Coconut Collaborative, Banoffee Pots (dairy free, gluten free) If you are getting these teeny pots of joy for your kids, you’ll want to buy a second lot for yourself – believe! Similar to creme caramel that’s been stirred around but with the addition of banana.

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Gu, Strawberry & Rhubarb/Lemon Cheescakes (gluten free, dairy free) Not quite as solid as traditional cheesecake but equally delicious, these two flavours are both sweet and refreshing.

Manchester Vegan Takeaway/Dinner

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V Revolution This is the place for an incredibly creative take on traditional American junk food. Vegan mains, sides, milkshakes, cocktails and cake. The atmosphere is pop-culture with a twist. In the photo above my expression is a mix of excitement and wondering how the hell I’m going to fit this burger in my mouth!

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Zad’s Vegan with very little gf options but incredibly well thought out food. The ZFC (rather than KFC) fried cauliflower is an utter revelation, the pizzas and burgers are well balanced and not too sweet and they sometimes give away free cupcakes. Hardly any remote customer service but lovely and friendly in person.

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Vegan Shack This is the place to order from if you are either dairy free or vegan and gluten free as they have gf options of pizza (including the above topping) and one of their kebabs (on request). Their online customer service is fantastic and delivery times are reasonable. My only complaint is that the cheese is on the sweet side as is the sauce. More salt please!

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Pizza Express They have many gf, df and veggie option for mains, sides and deserts and can be flexible (up to a point) with changing food to suit dietary needs. It will be such a shame when they cease trading late next year.

Bonus

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Aside from the Gu, these are free-from items I like but don’t absolutely love. Clive’s gf pies are surprisingly good microwaved (like a chip shop Pudding); This Gosh! falafel is the best falafel I’ve tried; Dragon fly make small but substantial gf burgers; Soulful pots make two wonderful nut curries/meals that I would happily pay for in a restaurant. Their other options have the usual veggie/bean tangine flavours.

I hope you found this helpful and it gave you food for thought – sorry!

🍔Chrissie🍔

 

 

GOSH Veggie Cocktail Sausages

These are not like the ones you’d get at 1980’s parties on sticks with pineapple, these are like mini Cumberland (UK) sausages.

They are very soft and almost bread-like unless you grill or fry them as they don’t have a skin around them. I really like them in a sun dried tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad.

These taste very strongly of sage, so if you just warmed them up (rather than properly cooking them like I have here), they could make a good gluten free alternative to stuffing balls.

Free From

  • Egg
  • Dairy
  •  Nut
  • Soya

Rating (as actual cocktail sausages) 1/5

🎄Chrissie🎄

Vegan Shack Review Manchester

I first heard of Vegan Shack from the Manchester Vegetarian and Vegan Group on Facebook. MVVG are a friendly bunch and so helpful (anyone who gets arsey and argumentative, rather than constructive, get called out by moderators or other members)   they are worth checking out.

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Menu

Vegan Shack provide all of our vegan junk food desires, including kebabs, pizzas, burgers, ‘chicken’ poppers, frickles (fried pickles) garlic dough balls and loaded fries. They deliver around a large radius of Central/South Manchester so Chorlton is included and I think they just about cover Denton, I’m not sure about North Manchester, sorry!

The five gluten free offerings on the menu are three pizzas, basic fries and on request kebabs too! I chose the Chick n’ Chunk with a 10″ stone baked base (my fave) tomato and herb sauce, ‘cheese’ and strips of ‘chicken’.

Ordering

I used the website on my iPad and it kept saying there was something wrong and to try ordering something different (even though what I’d chosen wasn’t ‘sold out’). I gave up in the end and asked the online customer service person. They were incredibly helpful and told me to give them my order and they would do it for me. My food arrived so fast, I’d not even sat down on the couch and got settled for the evening!

The Pizza

The problem I’ve always had with vegan cheese is that it’s too sweet and when paired with a fairly sweet (but tasty) tomato sauce you have a very un-savoury pizza. The ‘chicken’ strips had a realistic texture and really balanced out the overall flavour. I ended up scraping off half of the cheese (which they were almost too generous with) and adding a lot of salt. Then it tasted awesome!

Verdict

I would say Vegan Shack is up there with V Revolution and Zads when it comes to creativity but a hot dog option and some deserts would be great additions.

Chrissie