I’ve hankered after an air fryer for a few years but part of me thought, ‘yeah, nice idea but would I ever use it?’ Well, I’ve had my Optimum HealthyFry Air Fryer for a few weeks now and so far in it I’ve made:
A self-cleaning juicer? Well, kind of. The JUlaVIE (formerly known as the Juisir) doesn’t need any cleaning. HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE JUICING GODS AND I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT JASON VALE.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
‘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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Win a Tofuture Tofu Press and Tofu Making Kit
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.)
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.
When the postman knocked on the door and handed me the Tofuture Tofu Press, I hadn’t been so excited about a few pieces of plastic since getting my first Spirograph in the early 80s. As you’ve probably guessed, you don’t draw pretty pictures with the Tofuture Tofu Press though; you press tofu with it.
As anyone knows, tofu needs pressing. It needs pressing to make it edible; unpressed tofu is a gungy, spongy, soggy block of slime and I wish I’d learnt about pressing it earlier than I did. Now I have learnt to press tofu, I eat it regularly (you can check out my tofu recipes here) but the one thing I was missing was something practical and convenient to press it with. My method was to wrap the tofu in reams of kitchen roll and then press it between two saucers – either quickly with my hands or for longer with heavy objects balanced on top. Although both methods work to an extent, they have their failings – I had visions of the saucers snapping and slicing my hands with the hand method and the last time I used the heavy objects method, I balanced a cast iron frying pan on the top saucer, then balanced my Nutribullet on top of the frying pan. I was happily playing on my computer upstairs when I heard a crash in the kitchen. On investigation, I found the frying pan had slipped off the saucer and bashed into the wall, breaking a kitchen wall tile. A brand new kitchen wall tile in the BRAND NEW KITCHEN THE MEAT EATER HAD ONLY JUST PUT TOGETHER WITH HIS OWN FAIR HANDS. Oh man, was I in trouble. Luckily, the Meat Eater had had a tax rebate or something and was in a good mood and when I confessed what I’d done (I couldn’t really not confess – there was a big hole in the kitchen wall where a tile should have been) he just shrugged.
Unsurprisingly, ever since then, I’ve been nervous about using the ‘stack a load of heavy shit on it’ tofu-pressing method, so when Tofuture offered to send me one of their tofu presses, I got mega-excited. As in HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE TOFU-PRESSING LORD excited.
The Tofuture Tofu Press is small, compact and no bigger than it needs to be. It comes in three pieces, which all stack neatly inside each other.
I had a block of tofu (just the normal block of Cauldron you can find in all supermarkets) in the fridge, waiting to be pressed and because I’m a geek and wanted a before and after comparison, I measured it first. Please excuse the dirty ruler (and in case you’re wondering what para it’s ruling out, it’s parasites [the ruler was a freebie from the vet]. I have nothing against paramedics or paralegals).
The tofu fits perfectly inside the inner tub.
The inner tub is placed inside the main tub (which will catch the water), then the top is placed over the inner tub and you pull down the elastic bands over the hooks, then pull the clasps back, which will cause the top to press down on the tofu, squeezing the water out.
The elastic bands are quite difficult to get over the hooks but if the bands were slack, then there’d be no pressure on the tofu and no water would get squeezed out and then it wouldn’t be a tofu press; it’d just be a tofu container.
As mentioned above, the tofu press is compact and when your tofu is sitting safely inside it, it fits beautifully in your fridge, nestled in amongst whatever it is you keep in your fridge (mine had a respectable amount of vegetables in it when I took this photo; sometimes it only contains beer and chocolate, but I didn’t borrow these vegetables just for the photo, honest. Although, that’s an embarrassing amount of plastic *makes mental note to reinstate Riverford veg box and stop buying plastic-wrapped veg from Tesco*).
Although I’d planned to leave the tofu pressing for a few hours, after an hour, I couldn’t resist a peek. I took the tofu press out of the fridge and could feel the water sploshing around in the bottom and when I poured it out, there was 100ml of water.
After five hours had passed, I took the tofu out of the fridge and poured out the water that had collected since I’d emptied it and there was another 25ml.
And as you can see, the tofu had shrunk by about half (in case you can’t be bothered to scroll back up, it was 4cm high before being pressed).
And guess what I made with my newly pressed tofu (after marinading it in the press – another use for it)? I’ll give you a clue – it was on a Friday. Yep, tofush! I’m not lying when I say this is the best tofush I’ve made so far – whether that’s down to the Tofuture Tofu Press or my immense tofu-battering skillz or a combination of both, I don’t know. All I know is that I’m very happy with the press and will be using it to press all my tofu in the future. No more broken kitchen wall tiles, yay.
How to get your hands on a Tofuture Tofu Press
Okay, so now you want one of these tofu presses, don’t you? You’ve got a few options: you can either:
a) buy one direct from the Tofuture website for £25; or
b) buy one on Amazon for £25; or
d) enter the competition on the Tofuture website to win one for absolutely no money at all (I’d go for that one if I were you). (Update: The competition is now closed.)
The Tofuture Tofu Press is Vegetarian Society Approved and Vegan Society Approved. For more information, visit the Tofuture website.
I’d like to give Tofuture approximately twenty-six billion thanks for sending me one of their tofu presses to review. All my gushing is genuine. I fucking love this thing.
After months of watching Nutribullet demos on the Ideal World TV shopping channel, I finally *ahem* bit the bullet and bought one. I’d put off buying one because I thought the Nutribullet was just an expensive blender – no matter how much they advertised it as a ‘nutrition extractor’ or whatever it is they call it – and I already had a blender to make my smoothies in.
Although the Nutribullet is just basically a blender (whether it’s expensive or not is relative; it is, after all, about £400 cheaper than a Vitamix), it’s a flipping good blender and it doesn’t seem to matter what combination of fruit and veg you put in it, the resulting smoothie is always delicious, unlike when you put a random combination of fruit and veg into a juicer and the output is akin to swamp juice.
I’m sure you all know the basic premise behind a Nutribullet: Fill half the cup with leafy greens, the other half with fruit, top with nuts and/or seeds and – if you really hate yourself – a ‘superfood supplement’ such as spirulina, then top up with liquid such as water, milk or coconut water.
Unlike a juicer, you’ll have to peel some fruit such as oranges and lemons first (although I left the skin on a kiwi fruit and the Nutribullet didn’t mind at all) but its 600 watt motor will pulverise most things you chuck at it, including nuts and seeds, leaving a smooth, creamy smoothie. The only thing I’ve found it doesn’t break down is strawberry seeds.
When you’ve bought your Nutribullet and opened the box, inside you’ll find the power base, a tall cup, two smaller cups, a lip ring, a handled lip ring, two lids, an extractor blade, a milling blade (for grinding nuts, making breadcrumbs, etc.), a user manual/recipe book and a pocket nutritionist.
I’m now a total Nutribullet fangirl convert and below is a slideshow of a few of my concoctions.
For more information on the Nutribullet, visit the Nutribullet UK website. The 12-piece set is currently £99 on there, but I bought mine from Curry’s for around £80, so it’s worth shopping around.
Everyone likes toasted sandwiches but no one likes cleaning the toasted sandwich maker afterwards, so Aerolatte Ltd invented the Diablo toasted snack maker. Unlike a traditional sandwich maker, you heat the Diablo on the hob so, as it says on the box – no plugs, no mess, no problem.
When I first opened the box, I thought, ‘blimey, that’s small’ and it is small but, as you can see in the photos, it holds a lot of filling. I had planned to make a baked bean and cheese toastie using normal bread but there was none in the freezer, so I used a tortilla wrap instead. I placed the tortilla wrap on one of the Diablo plates (after heating it up first for a couple of minutes), piled my filling on top, then folded the wrap over to make an envelope. I clipped the handle of the Diablo, trimmed off the edges of the wrap and heated it on the hob for a few minutes, turning it over frequently. Because I’m a der-brain, I scorched the chopping board by placing the hot Diablo on it after pre-heating it. Which isn’t a big deal to me but if you like to keep your chopping board pristine and un-branded, you should probably put the hot Diablo on a trivet or something.
A crispy pie-like sandwich, with sealed edges, slipped out of the Diablo easily, leaving only a tiny amount behind and no mess on the hob. You can unclip the two parts of the Diablo for easier cleaning – either by hand or in the dishwasher.
A Diablo makes a great little snack and the filling combinations are endless (you just know I’m going to make a pizza one, don’t you?) You’re not even confined to using it on the hob, as it’d be great for camping or used on a woodburner (which I’m going to be doing).
Aerolatte Ltd sent me the Diablo toasted snack maker to review but all opinions (and toasted sandwiches) are my own.
At university, a couple of lads kept exclaiming, ‘You’ve never seen Star Wars?’ (Although, it was more along the lines of ‘You’ve never seen Staaaaaaaaaaaaaar Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaars?)’ I have no idea why they kept saying this and upon Googling, it doesn’t seem to be a thing either, so it must just be something they liked saying.
They never directed this at me; not because I have seen Star Wars but because I kept quiet about whether I’d seen it or not as I didn’t want them yelling their catchphrase at me.
I probably have seen Star Wars though, as I seem to remember someone waving some kind of light-on-a-stick thing around and I definitely remember Chewbacca and R2D2 but then again, I can name a couple of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I’ve definitely never seen that. I could probably also – at a push – name a Teletubby too.
Despite my knowledge of Star Wars being limited, I am not so completely out of the loop that I don’t know there’s a new Star Wars film coming out soon and, to tie in with this, Bluw have launched the Official Star Wars X-Wing Knife Block.
I may not know much about Star Wars (please don’t ask me how many times I’ve typed ‘Star Trek’ instead while writing this post) but this knife block pleases my inner geek. It also pleases my love of shiny things.
As you’d expect from a knife block, it contains: that knife you use for everything; the small knife you use when the knife you use for everything is in the dishwasher; a bread knife; and those two big knives I’m too scared to use.
The polished chrome effect protective sheaths feel a bit plasticy. This is probably because they’re made of plastic. The base, however, has a quality weighty feel to it and the knives themselves are sharp and, upon testing, cut through a tomato cleanly.
Star Wars lovers and geeks alike or just lovers of shiny things for the kitchen will love these knives and if you want some, you can buy the Official Star Wars X-Wing Knife Block online from Bluw (trade customers only) or Amazon (or other online retailers).
I can’t tell you how much I wanted a Tefal Fresh Express when they first came out a few years ago. I mean, I really wanted one. Really, really, REALLY wanted one. I didn’t get around to buying one though because although I really wanted one, the sensible part of me knew it wasn’t cheap enough to buy unless I knew I was going to use it loads and I didn’t think I was going to use it loads. In fact, I had no idea what I would actually use it for, I just wanted one anyway.
And then I forgot all about it.
But then, hurrah! House of Fraser asked if I wanted to review a small kitchen appliance and, while scrolling dreamy-eyed through their website lusting over all the shiny things, I saw the erstwhile object of my dreams.
And here it is. Please excuse the state of the kitchen.
As you can see, it comes with four cones – each designed to give a different thickness of grate. (Hey, if Paul Hollywood can turn ‘bake’ from a verb into a noun, I can do the same for ‘grate’, okay?)
It’s simple to use. Just attach the cone holder/feed tube to the main unit, then add your cone of choice. The instructions let you know which colour-coded-cone to use for which food/thickness required, i.e. red for carrots (yes, I reckon it should be the orange cone, too). Put your fruit or veg down the tube and while pressing the on/off button, push the food through with the pusher. Easy peasy carrot squeezy.
Switching cones is easy enough and I grated some red pepper, cucumber and cheese to go with the carrot.
You know, usually, if you just slice your veg then try to wrap it and it all falls out? Not so when it’s grated. Grating your veg like this makes making a salad wrap super-simple. It wraps beautifully and stays together.
You know at the beginning of the post I said I wasn’t sure what I’d use the Tefal Fresh Express for? Well, I know now.
Tefal Fresh Express is available online at House of Fraser for £34.99 (price correct at the time of writing).