My Sugar-Free Challenge

I wouldn’t say I have much of a sweet tooth. If someone offered me a cake or a bowl of olives, I’d rather have the olives. But I’ve seen recently a trend for people saying they want to give up sugar and there are even ‘experts’ such as Sarah Wilson, who can help people give up the white stuff.

But is sugar really that bad and if it is, is it really so hard to give up, you need ‘experts’ to teach you how? I didn’t think it is, so when Benenden asked me if I’d like to join in their sugar-free challenge to help promote their sugar-free hub, I was more than happy to oblige because a) I didn’t think I ate much sugar; and b) I love a challenge.

So, below is a kind of diary of what I ate and – if applicable – what I usually would have had on a normal ‘not bothered about looking out for sugar to avoid’ day.

Sugar-Free Breakfast 

Hot water with lemon

Well, breakfast was never going to be hard to be sugar-free as, although there was a time when I was a five-teaspoons-of-sugar-in-tea kind of girl, I haven’t drunk tea for years and I’ve never drunk coffee (bleurgh) and my hot drink upon waking is always hot water and lemon.  Before anyone pipes up with ‘but fruit is full of sugar – you’ve failed already, loser’, as far as I’m aware, going sugar-free doesn’t mean giving up something perfectly healthy like fruit. So there.

smoothie-collage

Just as I haven’t drunk sugar-laden tea for years, I also grew out of eating sugary breakfast cereals topped with more sugar when I was about ten years old. Nowadays, my breakfast is a smoothie and today’s one was frozen mixed fruit, dried golden berries, acai powder and water. It did occur to me that sugar might be added to the packeted fruit and powder but, hooray, no added sugar. No added anything, in fact. If you haven’t tried golden berries before, please do – they make a great tangy addition to smoothies, or you could add them to flapjacks, energy bars, etc.

Sugar-Free Lunch 

Vegan tomato soup and ciabatta

Lunch was going to be slightly more tricky than breakfast as I’d made mushroom jerky the other day that I’d been having in wraps for lunch. No problems with the mushrooms, obviously, but I’d marinated them in Reggae Reggae Sauce which I thought was bound to contain sugar and, upon inspection of the label, saw I was right. No Reggae Reggae for me that day, dammit.

Never mind, I thought – I can have some of the tomato soup I made the other day, that’ll be sugar-free. But – woah, hang on, what about the stock? They put all sort of things in stock – they put milk in some vegetarian stocks, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find sugar in them too. It was fine though – no sugar in the stock. Oh, but then I thought, surely there must be sugar in the tinned tomatoes I used? But still, no sugar there either. My tomato soup was a sugar-free zone. Phew.

How about the ciabatta and Vitalite I wanted with it though? None there either – ha, this sugar-free thing is a breeze.

Sugar-Free Drinks

Hot chocolate made with raw cacao and almond milk

Okay, so obviously my homemade lemonade that I still had in the fridge wasn’t sugar-free – it’s made with just three ingredients, which are lemons, sugar and water – but apart from my beloved hot chocolate, I usually only drink water throughout the day, so cold drinks weren’t a problem. But, what about the aforementioned beloved hot chocolate? I didn’t even have to read the label to know that that would have sugar in it, so what was I to do? Go cold – or should that be hot chocolate – turkey? Na. I’d make my own with raw cacao powder instead. Sorted.

Although I couldn’t see sugar listed on the ingredients for the soya milk I usually use, I decided to make my hot chocolate extra pure by making it with homemade almond milk. Yep, maximum hippy level reached.

Homemade almond milk

Sugar-Free Dinner

Sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, egg-free, courgette and carrot burgers

Luckily, Wednesday is Riverford veg box delivery day, so I had a box full of veg with which to make a healthy, sugar-free dinner. Faced with courgettes and carrots, I made courgette and carrot burgers and served them with purple sprouted broccoli and new potatoes. Because I made them with chickpea (gram) flour, I got a bonus ‘free’ in, as they’re gluten-free as well as sugar-free. Actually, they’re full of ‘frees’, as to give them their full title, they’re wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and sugar-free (this may explain why The Meat Eater said they didn’t taste of much).

As a condiment freak, I don’t usually have ‘dry’ burgers, but tomato ketchup contains sugar, so that was out. The Mayola mayonnaise in the fridge didn’t contain any sugar but at the time I didn’t think courgette and carrot burgers would go with mayo – not when they’re spiced with curry powder, anyway. On reflection though, it probably would have gone well. Ho hum.

Sugar-Free Snacks

I’m not going to lie. I missed my after-dinner mint and I spent the whole of the evening wanting a bit of chocolate or a biscuit or something sweet, so maybe sugar isn’t as easy to give up as I originally thought and it is addictive as ‘they’ say?

As challenges go, this one was easy but, then again, I only did it for a day. Some people give up sugar for life and I’m not sure that would be so easy.

 

 

 

 

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Froothie Optimum P200 Dehydrator Review

froothie-optimum-p200-dehydrator

A big, black, shiny beast came to stay. No, not a black labrador (my cat would pack her bags) but the new Optimum P200 Dehydrator from Froothie. I’ve been happily using my old dehydrator for the last year but that’s a round one and although it did its job, I’d heard square ones were better for the following reasons:

  • The heat in a square dehydrator is evenly distributed – top to bottom and front to back – so you don’t have to keep switching the trays around while whatever’s inside is drying. Round dehydrators are heated from the bottom, so the bottom gets most of the heat, so you have to keep switching the trays around.
  • Round dehydrators have a hole in the middle of each tray which a) means it takes longer to dehydrate the food; and b) means you’re losing space on each tray and makes it more difficult to make things like fruit leathers/roll-ups/crackers, etc.
  • With a square dehydrator, you can take all the trays out and prove bread and make yoghurt inside the machine (no, I have no idea how; I just know you can). If you took all the trays off a round dehydrator, you’d just be left with the base.

So, when Froothie said, ‘Miss Ambassador Cathy, would you like one of our new dehydrators?’, although part of me thought, ‘I already have a dehydrator. I know how big they are. If I get any more kitchen gadgets – let alone big ones – The Meat Eater is going to go nuts’, the other, much bigger, gadget-loving part of me thought, ‘HELL YEAH’.  Besides, I thought I’d be able to sell my old one on one of those Facebook local selling pages. ‘Thought’ being the operative word as, although I’ve sold a slow cooker on there recently, no one wants my old juicer and I reckon if I want to tempt someone to buy my old dehydrator I’ll have to put in the description that it can make chips. I just won’t tell them I meant kale chips.

Optimum P200 Dehydrator

The Optimum P200 dehydrator comes with a user guide with the usual operating instructions and do’s and don’ts. One of the ‘don’ts’ is ‘do not use with an extension lead’, and although it’s not even just a ‘don’t’ but a ‘warning’, I happily used it for a few days plugged into an extension lead because it was too big and noisy to live in the kitchen and so I moved it to the conservatory where there was nowhere near a wall socket into which to plug it. It was only yesterday when The Meat Eater complained about the noise of it (he does weights in the conservatory) that I mentioned it shouldn’t be plugged into an extension cable and did he know why. He did know why. He said ‘because too much power will go through and it’ll catch on fire’. Oops. It’s now unplugged and I’m going to rearrange the conservatory and find it a nice safe wall socket to plug it into.

Also in the user guide is some advice on how to prepare your fruit and veg before putting it in the dehydrator, and also how long to dry it for. As you can see in the above photo, there’s also a little guide on the top of the dehydrator, along with the temperature dial and 40-hour digital timer.

P200 dehydrator meshes and plastic sheets

The dehydrator also comes with 2 x non-stick reusable meshes for placing on top or underneath the fruit and veg being dried, and 2 x non-stick reusable plastic sheets for fruit leathers/roll-ups, cookies and crackers, etc., along with a brush to clean the meshes and sheets with.

Tofu jerky in the dehydrator

Since receiving my dehydrator, I’ve made tofu jerky and mushroom jerky in it, which have both been amazing and only take a few hours. I especially love the tofu jerky, which is simply tofu sliced and marinated in a combination of sriracha, vegan Worcestershire Sauce and liquid smoke, then dehydrated at 60C for about 4 hours (it’ll take less or more time depending on how thick you slice the tofu).

Mushroom jerky and tofu jerky

The mushroom jerky (mushrooms sliced and marinated in Reggae Reggae Sauce and dehydrated at 60C for about 6 hours) is great in wraps and stuffed in pitta bread with salad. With summer coming (we’ll forget it snowed today, yeah?), that means long walks and bike rides in the countryside and I’ve got it in mind to make some fruit roll-ups to take with me for an energy boost.

If you’re tempted to get a dehydrator but not sure you’d get much use out of one, you can try the Optimum P200 Dehydrator for 30 days and if you don’t like it, Froothie are offering a money back guarantee – including return postage costs – so why not give it a go?

*Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if you purchase a product through, won’t cost you any more but will earn me a small commission. I only endorse products I am happy with and I have not been paid for this post.

 

 

 

 

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Froothie Optimum G2.1 Platinum Series Blender Review

Froothie collage

‘Would you like to be our Ambassador?’ Froothie asked me. ‘We’ll give you a blender that’s more powerful than a Vitamix – it can turn a paving stone into dust in seconds.’ Yeah, right, I thought, but it’s true – it really can, look at this video for another of their blenders.

Obviously you (probably) don’t take into account paving-stone-pulverising abilities when deciding which blender to buy, so what’s so special about the Froothie Optimum G2.1 high speed blender? As I’ve already mentioned, it’s more powerful than a Vitamix, but not only that – it’s better than a Vitamix in other ways, as you can see from the comparison chart below.

Froothie v Vitamix

Froothie Optimum G2.1 blender

Froothie Optimum G2.1 blender touchscreen

The Froothie Optimum G2.1 blender is beautiful. It’s sleek and shiny and has a touchscreen with six pre-set programmes for fruit, grinding nuts and seeds, soup, nut milk, sorbet and sauces. Wait! Did I say soup? It makes soup? Yes, it does make soup but it’s not a soup maker in the traditional sense as it doesn’t have any heating elements inside it; rather it creates heat by the friction of the blades. I haven’t tried it myself yet to make soup, but I’ve used it to blend soup made on the hob (recipes here and here) and it’s resulted in the smoothest soup I’ve ever tasted. I thought my soup maker did a good job at blending soup but after using the Froothie blender, I can see why people rave about high powered blenders – the difference is striking. Another plus the Froothie machine has over my soup maker is the lid. The soup machine’s lid is really difficult to get off but the Froothie lid glides on and off, while still perfectly sealing the jug. And speaking of the jug – because it’s made from plastic, it’s a lot lighter than the glass soup maker jug, which makes it easier to lift off the base and to rinse. Don’t worry about the jug being flimsy though, it’s not – it’s unbreakable, as you can see from the video below (I’m glad it’s strong, as I’ve already dropped it on to my kitchen floor and the jug remained unscathed).

Cleaning

I hate cleaning my soup maker. As mentioned, the soup maker’s jug is made from thick glass, which makes it REALLY heavy and, because you can’t immerse it in water, it makes it really difficult to clean. The Froothie blender is easy to clean – just add a drop of detergent into the jug with some warm water and switch on for a few seconds, then rinse under the tap (which with the jug being plastic and light isn’t cumbersome at all) – job done! And when I say a ‘drop’ of detergent, I mean a drop – I used too much one day and had a jug full of what looked like whipped cream. Which was fun but not really what I was after.

What’s in the box

Froothie Optimum G2.1 accompaniments

So, apart from soup, what else have I used it for? I’ve used it for hummus, smoothies (it even completely blended the dates, which my Nutribullet doesn’t do), vegan cheese (from The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook), chocolate nice cream (cacao powder blended with coconut milk and coconut flower nectar, then frozen for a few hours) and lemonade; all with stunning results. I’m looking forward to making almond milk in it and, handily enough, the blender comes with a nut bag along with a tamper tool, user guide and 104-page recipe booklet.

I’ve wanted a high powered blender for years and, now I’ve got one, I couldn’t be happier with it. If you’re in the market for a high speed blender, then I’d definitely recommend one of these.

For more information on the Froothie Optimum G2.1 Platinum Series Vortex Blender, see what other Froothie products are available, watch video demos and check out some amazing recipes, visit the Froothie website.

*Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if you purchase through, won’t cost you any more but will earn me a small commission. I only endorse products I am happy with and I have not been paid for this post.
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Easy Homemade Lemonade

homemade-still-lemonade

There’s a local cafe/bistro I go to regularly and although I always order the same meal (portobello mushroom in a bun with blue cheese, wedges and salad), my drink order is always different. Sometimes I fancy a hot chocolate, sometimes I’ll have a glass of wine or a bottle of Peroni and sometimes I have their homemade lemonade. Their homemade lemonade is lovely but because it’s so lovely, it doesn’t last long as you can’t help but drink it quickly. As I was drinking some the other day, I pondered how much it cost them to make (they sell it for £1.95 a glass) and decided it probably didn’t cost much and I’d make some myself. Now, before you get all narky and but-you’re-not-just-paying-for-the-ingredients-you’re-paying-for-someone-to-make-it-and-someone-to- bring-it-to-you-and-then-there’s-rent-and-rates-and-wages-and-stuff-to-pay-for; yes, I agree with you and I don’t begrudge them their £1.95; I just wanted to make some for myself. Which is what I did, and very nice it was too.

And in case you are wondering how much it cost to make over a litre of homemade lemonade – a pack of four unwaxed lemons in Tesco is £1.50 (I used 3 so that’s £1.12 [I think]) and a 500g bag of caster sugar is 99p and the water came out of the tap. I tried to work out how much the sugar cost per gram but my maths is so shit, I couldn’t even work it out on a calculator – so, if you can work out how much 140g cost if 500g is 99p, please let me know.

Froothie G2.1 Optimum High Powered Blender
Froothie G2.1 Optimum High Powered Blender

Although my blender (the Froothie G2.1 Optimum) did its thing and whizzed up the lemons, sugar and water beautifully, there was a bit of pulp leftover, which I threw away, despite a voice in the back of my head telling me I could probably use it in a cake or something. You could also, I suppose, leave it in, if you like your lemonade with ‘bits’ in.

Honestly, this lemonade is so simple – you really should give it a go.

Homemade lemonade

5 from 1 reviews
Homemade Lemonade
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 1 litre
Ingredients
  • 3 unwaxed lemons, unpeeled and roughly chopped
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 litre cold water
Instructions
  1. Add the lemons, sugar and half of the water into a blender and process thoroughly
  2. Strain the mixture into a bowl and top up with the rest of the water

 

*Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if you purchase through, won’t cost you any more but will earn me a small commission. I only endorse products I am happy with and I have not been paid for this post.
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Sweet Potato, Mushroom and Wild Garlic Frittata

Sweet potato, mushroom and wild garlic frittata

This frittata must be the freshest thing I’ve made for ages. The eggs were from chickens who roam the grounds of a local house – making them about as free range as it’s possible to be without giving the chickens a railcard, the sweet potato and wild garlic came in my recently reinstated Riverford vegetable box and the mushrooms were grown in our very own dining room from the mushroom growing kit I bought The Meat Eater for his birthday a few weeks ago (I didn’t only buy him a grow-your-own-mushrooms kit; I’m not that tight. He also got a couple of books, a segway experience and some fudge, in case you’re interested. And if you want to know what the books were, one was a Guy Martin memoir and one was a Jeremy Clarkson book. I bought the Jeremy Clarkson book in a charity shop and the woman behind the counter said ‘Oh, Jeremy Clarkson!’, so I quickly said IT’S NOT FOR ME and now I’m scared the lady in the charity shop thinks I’m the type of person who likes Jeremy Clarkson).

Anyway, although I thought my as-fresh-as-fresh-can-be frittata was amazing, The Meat Eater said it wasn’t as good as an omelette. He said it was nice, but if it was an omelette and the sweet potato and mushrooms were on the side, it would be better. He is obviously wrong for many reasons but mostly because:

a frittata isn’t an omelette.

Just because a dish has eggs in it, that doesn’t mean you can call it whatever you feel like, depending on your mood that day. I didn’t call it a frittata because I wanted to make an omelette sound posh; I called it a frittata because it’s a frittata. Not an omelette and not a tortilla – Spanish or otherwise – but a frittata.

The differences are simple:

  • an omelette is cooked from start to finish on the hob and the eggs are folded over the filling;
  • a tortilla is also cooked from start to finish on the hob but instead of the eggs being folded over the filling, the filling is cooked inside it, then the tortilla is flipped over to finish cooking the other side;
  • a frittata starts life on the hob the same way as a tortilla, but is finished in the oven (which probably means my frittata isn’t really a frittata, as I poured the eggs over the filling then put it straight in the oven).

Still, whatever the correct name for my dish is, it was quick and easy to make and incredibly tasty. Unfortunately, there weren’t any leftovers but I’m sure it would be just as good cold the next day for lunch, as it was hot.

5 from 1 reviews
Sweet Potato, Mushroom and Wild Garlic Frittata
 
Prep time
Cook time
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 300g sweet potato, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 50g wild garlic, chopped
  • 150g mushrooms, sliced
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Boil the sweet potatoes for 10-15 minutes, until tender
  2. Meanwhile, fry the mushrooms for 5 minutes, then add the wild garlic and stir for a minute or so until the wild garlic has wilted
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  4. Remove from the heat and add the sweet potato
  5. Put the sweet potato, mushroom and wild garlic into an ovenproof dish and pour the beaten eggs over
  6. Bake in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes or until the eggs have set
  7. Serve hot or cold

For an interesting variation (I’d never have thought of putting chickpeas in a frittata), check out Helen from Fuss Free Flavours’ Red Pepper & Chickpea Frittata and Claire from Foodie Quine’s Fully Loaded Vegetable Frittata.

 

 

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Easy Vegan Tinned Tomato and Basil Soup Recipe

Vegan homemade tinned tomato soup recipe

Aah, tinned tomato soup. Or, more specifically; aah, Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup. Everyone loves cream of tomato soup, don’t they? I have it when I’m ill, when I’m hungover and it was all I could face when my house got burgled a few years ago (well, soup and alcohol, anyway). In fact, it’s more of a comfort blanket than a soup, really. I suspect it’s because I don’t see tomato soup as an ‘everyday’ soup, I don’t make homemade tomato soup very often and, if I do, it’s usually ‘tomato and something’, rather than just tomato.

But I had a few tins of chopped tomatoes taking up room on the kitchen worktop, so I decided I’d make a homemade tomato soup. I wasn’t expecting it to turn out like Heinz because mine would be a vegan version and therefore it wouldn’t contain any cream. I’d thought about thickening it with cashews but, thanks to my Froothie Optimum G2.1 high powered blender, it turned out beautifully creamy and smooth without needing to add any thickeners (I know it doesn’t look silky smooth in the photo but, trust me – it is).

You could, for a creamier taste, replace half the stock with soya milk (or dairy milk if you’re not fussed about it being vegan), but I don’t really think it’s necessary and I only swirled on a bit of soya milk for a prettier photo.

A cheap, creamy, comforting bowl of soup; even if you don’t need comforting.

Vegan homemade tinned tomato soup recipe

5 from 1 reviews
Easy Vegan Tinned Tomato and Basil Soup
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
A cheap, creamy, comforting bowl of vegan tomato soup
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 500ml vegan stock
  • A few basil leaves, torn
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan
  2. Add the onion and garlic and fry for about 5 minutes, until soft
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and stock, then season to taste with the salt and pepper
  4. Stir through and simmer for 10 minutes
  5. Add the basil, stir through and transfer to a blender and blend until smooth

*Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if you purchase through, won’t cost you any more but will earn me a small commission. I only endorse products I am happy with and I have not been paid for this post.

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Zizzi Vegan Pizza Review

Zizzi vegan menu
The vegan menu at Zizzi

Forget Kim Kardashian and her oversized bum, Zizzi almost broke the internet a few weeks ago when they revealed their new vegan menu. Vegans are used to visiting chain restaurants and adapting items already on the menu and asking the staff to omit cheese from their orders but Zizzi is the first (as far as I’m aware) to offer a vegan cheese on their pizzas. The vegan cheese is MozzaRisella, which is made from germinated whole rice made without milk and lactose, making it suitable for vegans and those who are allergic to dairy, gluten and soya.

I’m neither vegan nor suffer from any allergies and although I make a conscious effort to eat fewer animal products, when it comes to eating out in restaurants, ‘without cheese please’ just doesn’t manage to leave my mouth when the waiter comes to take my order. So, when I heard about Zizzi’s new vegan pizza, I had to give it a go.

Zizzi, Charlotte Street, London

A friend and I visited Zizzi in Charlotte Street, London and I’m hoping the smiley-but-slow service isn’t indicative of all their branches. The friendly waitress seated us immediately, handed us a couple of Zizzi’s usual menus but rushed off before I had a chance to ask for the vegan one. A long time passed until she came back for our drinks order, which gave me the chance to ask for the vegan menu which she immediately brought to me, but then we had a long wait for our wine to arrive (by the way, most of the wines are vegan and the ones that aren’t are listed on the menu).

To be fair to the waitress(es) though, there did only seem to be two of them but, even so, the restaurant was empty and even the chefs were standing around in the kitchen not doing anything, so I’m not sure why the service was so slow. Slow service is one of my bugbears and the reason I no longer go into my local Pizza Express (I gave them four chances but the service never got any better).

Starter – Vegan Garlic Bread

Zizzi's vegan garlic bread
Vegan garlic bread

Still, we eventually managed to order and our shared starter of garlic bread arrived. Despite – as you can see – the bread being covered in lumps of garlic, it wasn’t particularly garlicky and it was also a bit dry. I did like the green ‘vegan’ sticker stuck to the plate though (that’s as in ‘liked Zizzi thought of doing it’, not ‘mmm, yummy sticker’).

Main Course – Zizzi Vegan Pizza with MozzaRisella Cheese

Zizzi vegan pizza with MozzaRisella cheese
Zizzi vegan pizza with MozzaRisella cheese

But I didn’t go to Zizzi for their garlic bread, I went for the vegan cheese I’d heard so much about. Zizzi offer a vegan Margherita (including a gluten-free option), onto which you can add your own toppings. Unfortunately, my pizza was a bit burnt and I considered sending it back as I hate burnt food even more than I hate slow service but given how long my pizza had taken to arrive, I kept it. Luckily, only a part of it was burnt and the rest of it was fine and I soon cheered up and enjoyed the rest of my pizza. The vegan ‘cheese’ was more of a sauce and not the stretchy mozzarella pizza lovers have come to expect on their pizza but there are no complaints from me as it was tasty, cheesy and not artificial tasting at all (unlike a lot of vegan cheese). As someone who loves sauces and hates dry food, a sauce-like cheese on top of my pizza is fine with me.

Price/Value

My vegan Margherita cost £7.95 and I chose toppings of olives, green chillies and mushrooms so, with toppings being 80p each, this meant my pizza came to £10.35 which is excellent value in my opinion, especially when a lot of pizza restaurants charge around £12 for a pizza and extra toppings at £1.50 a pop. Unfortunately, I can’t gush about the garlic bread and, at £4.50, I won’t be getting it again.

I’d definitely go back for the vegan pizza though and hopefully more Italian/pizza restaurants and chains will follow Zizzi’s example and start offering vegan cheese on the menu.

For more information about Zizzi, view their whole menu, find your nearest branch and book a table, visit the Zizzi website.

If you’ve been to Zizzi to try their vegan pizza, I’d love to know what you thought about it.

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Wild Garlic and Cauliflower Soup Recipe (Vegan)

It’s spring, therefore it’s wild garlic season, hooray! Ha, who am I kidding? I’d never even seen wild garlic before some arrived in my Riverford box this week and if you’ve never seen it either, it looks like this.

Wild garlic

Wild garlic (also known as ‘bear’s garlic’, ‘devil’s garlic’, ‘gypsy’s onions’ and ‘stinking Jenny’) has a milder taste than its bulby counterpart and grows – as you’ve probably guessed – wild, in forests and, as you can see, it’s the leaves that are eaten, not the bulbs.

Wild garlic can be eaten raw in salads or wilted in butter and used like any other leafy green vegetable. Because I’d also received a cauliflower in my veg box, I decided to make a vegan wild garlic and cauliflower soup and very nice it was too. It turned out a beautiful pale green colour (admittedly, it looks slightly like Angel Delight but don’t let this put you off) and, thanks to my new Froothie Optimum G2.1 Platinum Series high powered blender (review coming soon), velvety smooth and creamy. If you haven’t got a high powered blender (I definitely recommend one though; I’ve never had such a smooth soup in my life), you could use a hand blender instead.  This is a thick soup so if you like it slightly thinner, just add a bit more stock. Despite the thickness though, it’s a fresh, light soup; perfect for spring.

Wild garlic and cauliflower soup

5 from 1 reviews
Wild Garlic and Cauliflower Soup Recipe
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
A thick, velvety smooth vegan soup.
Author:
Recipe type: Vegan
Cuisine: Soup
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 head (about 400g) cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 50g wild garlic, shredded
  • 750ml vegan stock
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion for about 5 minutes, until soft
  2. Add the cauliflower, wild garlic, stock and season to taste
  3. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender
  4. Transfer to a blender and process until smooth

Wild garlic and cauliflower soup nutrition facts
Please note the nutritional information above is approximate and will vary depending on your own ingredients

For more wild garlic recipes, check these out from my fellow food bloggers:

Wild Garlic Pesto Two Ways – by Tin & Thyme
Cheese and Wild Garlic Scones – by Thinly Spread
Sweet Potato, Wild Garlic and Spinach Soup – by Munchies & Munchkins
Wild Garlic Tattie Scones – by Foodie Quine

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Gousto Recipe Box Review

Gousto recipe box

Gousto recipe boxes are different to the Riverford recipe boxes you might have seen me review here and here. They’re different because not only do you get to choose which recipes out of a changing choice of ten (not all vegetarian) you want to cook that week instead of having them chosen for you, but you can also choose whether to have two, three or four recipes a week, and whether you’d like them to serve two or four people.

Gousto asked me if I’d like to review a box and, well, you know me – I never say no to free food, so here’s my thoughts on what I received.

It took me a while to choose two out of the four vegetarian options; I almost went for a creamy mushroom pasta dish, but then I remembered that although the Meat Eater loves cream, mushrooms and pasta, he hates creamy mushroom pasta dishes, so that was off the menu. I can’t remember what the other dish I discounted was but I was happy with my choices of melty mushroom burger and the spinach and veggie mince lasagne.

My box of food turned up on schedule, with the products that needed to be in a fridge, wrapped up in a wool bag. I don’t know why, but these wool cool bags make me as squeamish as I would be if my food arrived inside an actual sheep and not just its coat.

Gousto recipe box

As is usual with recipe boxes, the food is accompanied by a recipe card, with a list of ingredients, step-by-step instructions and a photo of how it should turn out, if you don’t mess it up too much. All the ingredients are measured out for you and clearly labelled so you don’t get your basil mixed up with your spinach. One of the good things about having everything separate is then you can leave out what you or someone you’re cooking for dislikes – in my case, I left out the olives as the Meat Eater doesn’t like them.

Gousto recipe box melty mushroom burger

Ingredients for the melty mushroom burgers in the Gousto recipe box
Ingredients for the melty mushroom burgers

Gousto recipe box melty mushroom

We both enjoyed these melty mushroom burgers (portobello mushrooms, topped with mozzarella and served in a warmed ciabatta roll), accompanied with roasted potatoes and salsa for which the ingredients were also provided. The quantities provided were perfect for two people and this is a dish I’ll definitely be making again.

Gousto recipe box spinach and veggie mince lasagne

Ingredients for the spinach and veggie mince lasagne in the Gousto recipe box
Ingredients for the spinach and veggie mince lasagne

Gousto spinach and veggie mince lasagne

Gousto spinach and veggie mince lasagne

I thought the next dish – spinach and veggie mince lasagne – was a bit of an odd choice for a company that prides itself on fresh, organic produce. Veggie mince is usually regarded as a processed food so it’s not something I’d expect to be included but there’s nothing to complain about this tasty dish, and it’s definitely the first time I’ve had Henderson’s relish and baharat in a lasagne. In fact, it’s the first time ever I’ve had Henderson’s relish and baharat (a spice mixture used in Middle Eastern cuisine). Gousto didn’t provide the flour, butter or milk for this and I wasn’t sure why this was. Considering other chilled ingredients came in a cool bag, couldn’t the butter and milk be provided too? That’s just a slight quibble and, again, this made a perfect amount for two people and would even serve three or four if you served it with vegetables and garlic bread.

Gousto recipe box subscription service

Gousto recipe boxes work on a weekly subscription basis – you place your order three days before your preferred delivery date each week but you’re not committed to receiving a box each week, so if you want to skip a week for whatever reason or you want to cancel your subscription altogether, you can do this at any time. Gousto boxes cost:

  • 2 recipes for 2 people – £27.49 per week
  • 2 recipes for 4 people – £41.99 per week
  • 3 recipes for 2 people – £34.99 per week
  • 3 recipes for 4 people – £51.99 per week
  • 4 recipes for 2 people – £41.99 per week
  • 4 recipes for 4 people – £59.99 per week

but when you take into account their convenience and how much you’d spend on ingredients just to use a bit and have the rest languish in a cupboard (although I said I’ve never had Henderson’s relish before, I’m assuming you can’t just buy 1 tbsp of it) they’re not bad value, in my opinion.

For more information on Gousto’s recipe boxes, visit the Gousto website.

Gousto provided me with a recipe box to review. All opinions are my own.

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Tofuture Tofu Press and Tofu Making Kit Giveaway

Tofuture Tofu Press

It has come to my attention there are people out there who don’t press tofu. If you’re one of these people, then please read on because you NEED what I’m giving away today. If you’re someone who’s seen the tofu light and already presses your tofu, then you should also please read on because you probably press your tofu by balancing books and other heavy shit on top of it and therefore you also NEED this tofu press. If you’re one of the people who read my review the other week and have already bought one of these presses, you should also read on because you probably know someone who doesn’t press tofu and therefore you can give them this tofu press and be their best friend forever.

Or you can just flog it on ebay.

Tofuture tofu press

Either way, this giveaway is for A Very Good Thing Indeed. You might have seen me gushing about the Tofuture Tofu Press a couple of weeks ago but if not (or if you want to refresh your memory), you can read my review of it here. And not only am I giving away a Tofuture Tofu Press, Tofuture are also chucking in one of their tofu making kits too, which contains:

  • 500g soya beans
  • 35g nigari
  • 2 cheesecloth squares
  • a set of instructions
Tofuture tofu making kit
That strange looking substance is nigari – don’t try to smoke it

See that bag of white stuff in the photo? I thought Tofuture had also chucked in a bag of crystal meth for me, but that’s the nigari – a coagulant used in making tofu. Although, obviously I was disappointed not to get the chance to recreate a scene from Breaking Bad (ideally with a semi-clad Jesse), it was probably just as well, as I would have no idea how to declare Class A drugs on my tax return.

Tofu press

Anyway, semi-clad Jesses aside, what makes this tofu press different from others (not that there are many; I’ve only seen a couple, and they’ve only been available from the US) is that this press completely contains the tofu (middle container) and the water it’s pressing out (container on the left), so once you’ve pulled the bands down over the hooks (the container on the right goes on top of the middle container holding the tofu, squeezing the water out into the container on the left), that’s it.

Then you can put the press out of the way in the fridge and you don’t have to worry about having to keep adjusting the springs or putting it on a plate or in the sink to catch the water. After you’ve pressed your tofu, you can then use the container to marinate it in. Genius.

This tofu press is brilliant and you NEED one.

The Tofuture tofu press fits neatly in your fridge

Win a Tofuture Tofu Press and Tofu Making Kit 

Tofu press and tofu making kit
The prizes (your tofu press will be in a box the same as the one at the top of this post)

Do you want to win one of these Tofuture Tofu Presses and Tofu Making Kits and promise to do tofu justice by pressing it, therefore improving the texture and its capacity to soak up all the lovely flavours of whatever it is you’re cooking it in/with?

You do? Okay then, you can enter via the Rafflecopter thingybob below. Good luck!

p.s. I don’t condone the use of drugs.

p.p.s. Not crystal meth, anyway.

p.p.s.s. Not that I’ve had it.

p.p.p.s.s. I’m going to stop here before I get myself in trouble. (Actually, I’m going to stop here because I don’t know if p.p.p.s.s. is correct and I can’t be bothered to look it up.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks to Tofuture for providing the prizes. For more information about Tofuture, their tofu press or their tofu making kit, visit the Tofuture website. They’re also holding their own competition to win one of their presses, which you can check out here. If you can’t wait to get your hands on one of these presses, you can:

a) buy one direct from the Tofuture website for £25; or

b) buy one on Amazon for £25.

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