As I mentioned before, in an effort to try and minimise any weight gain and hopefully accelerate the healing process while I’m housebound with a gammy leg and can’t exercise, I’m off the alcohol (40 days so far, go me!) Although come the weekend the wine has been calling me from the little Tesco down the road, despite me being able to limp down there, I’ve ignored it and stuck to water. I got bored quickly with water though and started making my own drinks – I made lemon barley water, dandelion and burdock soda, lemon, ginger and mint lemonade, and ginger lemonade. I even bought swing-top glass bottles to store the drinks in. Despite these drinks being refreshing, tasty and healthy, they weren’t really doing it for me on a Saturday night so, when Wise Bartender offered to send me some alcohol-free drinks, I thought I’d give them a go.
Another day, another gadget to review. Oh yes, it’s a hard life being a Froothie Ambassador. My Froothie Optimum G2.1 blender has kept me happy over the last couple of years but when Froothie told me they had a new blender out – the Froothie Optimum VAC2 air vacuum blender – and this was a special one with magical air vacuuming properties and would I like to try it I thought yes please, despite me not having a clue what air vacuuming meant. Was it like air guitaring, I wondered. I can do air vacuuming better than I can do real vacuuming.
Cider’s had a varied reputation over the years. For me, it was the first alcoholic drink I started drinking regularly (42p a half down The George in Wanstead in 1985 when I was 15 [ssh, don’t tell my mum]). After my early years of drinking sweet Woodpecker underage in the pub, I progressed onto what I thought were more sophisticated dry ciders such as Diamond White and Merrydown (okay, I only drank Merrydown to get hammered, like everyone else, but Diamond White and Merrydown came in glass bottles and not tins, so I thought they were posh). But apart from cider being the tipple of teenagers, other images conjured up by cider drinkers are:
After recently being deported to London from Kent while waiting for my house sale to go through, I’ve been living on Tesco Meal Deals for lunch (much better value than the Sainsbury’s one, in case you were wondering) and pizza for dinner. I’ve had the new vegan Giardiniera from Pizza Express (not as nice as the vegan pizzas in Zizzi, in my opinion), a tandoori paneer pizza at Mr Singh’s (an all-vegetarian pizza place that will also sub dairy cheese for vegan cheese but, trust me, it seriously mings. I’d just go without cheese if you’re vegan) but mostly I’ve been heating up frozen pizza and especially ones from Dr Oetker, such as their Spinaci Pizza which has made a comeback after originally being a limited edition pizza back in 2013.
Popcorn: that ubiquitous cinema snack. Personally, I think eating should be banned at cinemas; all that rustling and munching does my head in but, if people really can’t stop stuffing their faces for a couple of hours, then perhaps only silent snacks should be allowed – say, marshmallows, for example.
January is traditionally the time for people to give their bodies a rest from Christmas excess and whether you call it a ‘new year, new you’ thing, a cleanse, a fast or a detox, they all basically boil down to the same thing: ‘I’m a fat, hungover bloater and I need to step away from the cheese and chocolate and put something healthy inside me’.
A steakhouse isn’t a vegetarian’s natural environment and I usually also steer well clear of ‘family friendly’ restaurants but, when the Malta Inn in Maidstone asked me to review their newly-refurbished Beefeater restaurant, I thought, ‘Well, I’m sure I won’t starve, so why not?’ It would also give me a chance to see what a Beefeater is like now as I hadn’t been to one in about thirty years.
A spiralizer has been the must-have gadget for a while now and supermarkets have cottoned on to this trend by selling their own ready-spiralized vegetables for three times the price the veggie noodles would be if you made them yourself. I can see the attraction of the ready-spiralized veg though – no getting any gadgets out, no cleaning up afterwards and if you’ve got arthritis or something else that means your grip’s not great, then it’s the only option available (on the assumption you’re not rich enough to pay someone solely to come around and spiralize a couple of carrots for you while you doss about watching Loose Women on the telly).
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.