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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Riverford Recipe Box Review & Giveaway

Back in November, I reviewed Riverford’s vegetarian recipe box. The meals were tasty, quick to prepare and didn’t create much washing up, so when Riverford asked if I’d like to try another recipe box, I wasn’t about to turn it down.

Along with Riverford’s usual recipe boxes are boxes created by guest chefs. The latest chefs to be featured are twins David and Stephen Flynn, who own The Happy Pear shop, cafe and restaurant in Co. Wicklow, and it was this recipe box Riverford sent me to review.

The ingredients for the Mexican leek and black bean chilli
The ingredients for the Mexican leek and black bean chilli

As with all Riverford recipe boxes, everything you need is sent to you in one big box – all the fresh, organic, seasonal vegetables, tinned goods (tomatoes, beans, coconut milk, etc.), with all the herbs and spices pre-measured. Recipe cards with preparation and cooking time and step-by-step instructions are included. You really can’t go wrong with a recipe box.

Happy Pear Mexican leek and black bean chilli
Happy Pear Mexican leek and black bean chilli

The first recipe I made was a Mexican leek and black bean chilli. The recipe card said it would take me 25 minutes to prepare and cook and as I had a cold and really couldn’t be bothered to cook anything, it sounded perfect.

This vegetarian (it had honey in it, otherwise it would have been vegan) chilli was definitely a good choice for a lazy day as it didn’t require much more than a bit of chopping then chucking everything in a pan and letting it simmer for a bit. It made far more than two servings – I served the chilli on top of jacket potatoes and there was enough left over for another two servings.

Happy Pear Spanish chickpea and potato bake
Happy Pear Spanish chickpea and potato bake

I must have been feeling livelier the next day as according to the recipe card, this vegetarian (easily veganised by leaving out the honey and cheese) Spanish chickpea and potato bake with sundried tomato pesto would take 70 minutes to prepare and cook. Given how slow a cook I am, I took this to mean two hours, so I started it early.

Again, the recipe card said it served two but it was huge and could easily serve four. I thought the Happy Pear guys must be the size of the Two Fat Ladies or The Hairy Bikers but, nope, there’s not an ounce of fat on either of them.

This chickpea and potato bake came with a beetroot and pumpkin seed salad but I had it with my own vegetables instead.

Happy Pear puy lentil coconut dahl
Happy Pear puy lentil coconut dahl

Unfortunately, the last recipe of puy lentil coconut dahl was a bit of a disaster. In the instructions, it says to add more water if the dahl is becoming too thick but it should be reasonably dry. I could have left this to simmer for a year and it still wouldn’t have reduced down to ‘reasonably dry’; it was swimming in liquid.

I’d like to say that despite the wateryness of it, the vegetables and lentils were tasty enough but I’d be lying. To be fair, the potatoes were okay but the lentils didn’t do anything for me.

Still, two meals enjoyed out of the three isn’t bad (and because the portions were so large, I’ve got enough leftovers to heat up and have again another day) and on the whole I’d definitely recommend the Riverford recipe boxes. They’re tasty, healthy and easy to make.

The Happy Pear recipe boxes were for a limited time only and are now no longer available. However, the usual Riverford recipe boxes are available in:

  • Vegetarian
  • Original
  • Quick

For current prices and more information, visit the Riverford Recipe Box page on their website.

Win a Riverford Recipe Box

If you’d like to win a Riverford recipe box of your choice, enter my giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Please note: Although Riverford deliver to lots of locations around the UK, they don’t deliver everywhere, so you might want to check they deliver to you before entering the giveaway to avoid any disappointment, as there is no cash alternative.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Recipe: Citrus Coconut Nutriblast

Clementine, kiwi fruit, pineapple and coconut water nutribulast

I thought I was making a citrus smoothie. But then I found out that a kiwi fruit isn’t a citrus fruit, but a berry, and then I found out a pineapple isn’t a citrus fruit either because citrus fruit belong to the Rutaceae family and a pineapple belongs to the Bromeliarceae family. So there you go. And no, I hadn’t heard of the Rutaceae or Bromeliaceae family either. The only family name I usually hear about is ‘Mitchell’, and I now I’m imagining Phil sitting at the kitchen table at breakfast time, picking up an orange and telling Ben how citrus fruit are from the ‘rutter-see-er faaaaaaaaaaaaaamily, innit’.

Still, despite the clementine being the only citrus in this citrus smoothie (which isn’t even a smoothie, as it’s more like a juice). it only took a few seconds in my Nutribullet to blend it all together with some Buko organic coconut water.

Buko organic coconut water

Citrus Coconut Nutriblast
Recipe Type: Nutriblast
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
Ingredients
  • 1 clementine, peeled
  • 1 kiwi fruit (I don’t bother peeling them)
  • 1/4 pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 330ml coconut water
Instructions
  1. Put everything in the tall cup of your Nutribullet and blast for a few seconds

Thank you to Buko for sending me some of their organic coconut water to try.

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Review: Diablo Toasted Snack Maker

Baked beans and cheese toasted snack in a Diablo

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.

Diablo toasted snack maker

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.

Diablo toasted sandwich maker

Diablo toasted snack maker

Diablo toasted snack maker

Diablo toasted snack maker
Oops

Diablo toasted snack maker

Diablo - no mess
Only a tiny amount leaked out

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).

If you’d like more information and to watch a video demonstration, visit the Diablo website. The Diablo is available on Amazon for (at the time of writing) about £13 including delivery.

Aerolatte Ltd sent me the Diablo toasted snack maker to review but all opinions (and toasted sandwiches) are my own. 

 

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Review: Beano’s Vegetarian and Vegan Cafe Bar, Folkestone, Kent

Beano's vegetarian cafe bar, Folkestone, Kent

Mention Tontine Street to most Folkestone locals, and they’ll probably think of drug dealing, prostitution, sirens and street fights. They may also think of greasy spoons – there’s certainly enough of those here – but it’s doubtful they’d imagine there’s a lovely little vegetarian and vegan café tucked away next to the cheese-grater-esque Quarterhouse in Folkestone’s Creative Quarter.

An eclectic mix of middle-aged ladies who lunch, bohemian studenty types and couples canoodling over their nachos.

Vegetarian cafés generally fall into two camps. They’re either shabby shacks with menus full of lentils with a side serving of worthiness and shelves heaving with campaigning leaflets, or they’re simply great cafés that happen to also be vegetarian. Beano’s is definitely in the latter category. It’s so popular with veggies and carnivores alike that one of the meat-eating friends I’m with today eats at Beano’s so often, the owner greets him by name. Other meat-eating friends who have been nervous about eating in a vegetarian place have left wondering what they’d been worried about, while another friend admitted she hadn’t known until I’d mentioned I’d be reviewing Beano’s that it’s a vegetarian café, despite her having eaten here several times.

Beano's vegetarian cafe bar, Folkestone, Kent

Despite the weather – it’s a wild, wet and windy day – Beano’s is full. It’s not full of drug dealers or prostitutes, either; there’s an eclectic mix of middle-aged ladies who lunch, bohemian studenty types and couples canoodling over their nachos.  Beano’s may be busy, but the chatter is low, the background music soft, and conversation with my lunch companions is easily achieved.

Beano's vegetarian cafe bar, Folkestone, Kent
The 100% vegetarian and vegan menu, written on blackboards, clearly displays main meals, light bites and side dishes. There’s nothing here you won’t recognise, or anything to scare a carnivore. Chilli, burgers, and macaroni cheese are all on offer, or if you prefer something smaller, there’s a range of sandwiches, baguettes and panini. There’s also a large range of hot and cold drinks, including alcohol. The interior is as eclectic as the clientele, without being pretentious. The walls are painted a tasteful pale green and an electric guitar hangs next to a collection of modern and old photographs. On another wall is a stripped pine dresser brimming with bric-a-brac and cookbooks by famous chefs including Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi. The fact Beano’s is willing to have books by *gasp* non-vegetarian chefs further exhibits Beano’s unpretentiousness – more snooty vegetarian establishments would stick firmly with displaying cookbooks by vegetarians only.

Beano's vegetarian cafe bar, Folkestone, Kent

Jo, who runs Beano’s with her husband Pete (who’s in the tiny kitchen at the back, doing the cooking), seats us quickly, takes our drink order, then leaves us to look at the menu.

The bun is fresh, the burger is firm and topped with sweet caramelised onion chutney, along with creamy Emmenthal cheese and the homemade coleslaw is tangy and crisp.

As I haven’t eaten yet today, the lentil, nut and quinoa burger with chips and coleslaw sounds suitably substantial. My companions declare they aren’t that hungry and order an eggy cheesy bagel each, along with a side of nachos to share.

Beano's vegetarian cafe bar, Folkestone, Kent

Beano's vegetarian cafe bar, Folkestone, Kent

Beano's vegetarian cafe bar, Folkestone, Kent

Beano's vegetarian cafe bar, Folkestone, Kent

Beano's vegetarian cafe bar, Folkestone, Kent

Considering how busy Beano’s is today and everything is freshly made on the premises, our food arrives quickly.

My quinoa burger doesn’t disappoint. The bun is fresh, the burger is firm and topped with sweet caramelised onion chutney, along with creamy Emmenthal cheese and the homemade coleslaw is tangy and crisp.

I ask my friends how their bagels are. ‘Really nice’, ‘egg cooked just how I like it’, ‘the bagel is crisp and soft’, are their replies. Halfway through my meal, I put down my knife and fork, declare myself ‘stuffed’ and say I couldn’t eat another bite. A few seconds later, I pick back up my cutlery and eat the rest of it.

We’re in and out in an hour – satiated and just the right side of full. All for a reasonable sum, too. My hot chocolate, burger, chips and coleslaw came to £8.80.

I email Jo later, asking about her choice of location. She says, ‘There were a few considerations involved, one of them being cost. But, looking back on all the locations we viewed, I would still choose Tontine Street. The area is definitely on the up and there is a sense of community that I enjoy being part of.’ She says her main aim is to make customers feel welcome, well looked after and to serve lovely food and coffee.

I’d say she’s reached her aim.

Beano’s Vegetarian Café, 43 Tontine Street, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1JT

Tel: 01303 211817

Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 08:30-17:30 / Sat: 09:00-17:30

Facebook page

[Please note this review was originally written in 2014, therefore the menu may have changed by now. Please also excuse the blurry phone photos.]

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The Top 5 Vegetarian and Vegan Facebook Groups

Facebook

I’m not the owner or admin of any of these vegetarian and vegan Facebook groups but these are my favourites. They’re all down-to-earth, friendly, unpretentious and non-militant – just how I like it.

What Fat Vegans Eat

Let’s face it; this isn’t just the best Facebook group, this is the best page on the internet for food lovers full stop. If you’re after vegan food porn, this group is for you. Considering there is – at the time of writing – over 36,000 members, it’s an astonishingly friendly place. Just don’t mention palm oil.

Update: Unfortunately, this page has gone waaaaay downhill with the recent updates to the rules with stupid restrictions like no faces or animals in the photos. There’s a lot of arguing now, too. If I were you, I’d head over to The Little Vegan Kitchen (link below) instead – it’s not so little now with over 2,000 members but it’s still a friendly place.

Vegetarian Slow Cooker Fans

Another friendly group. If you want advice on vegetarian slow-cooking, recipe ideas for your slow cooker or just want to drool over what everyone else has been cooking in theirs, head over to this page.

Veganuary

Originally started for those committing to veganism for the month of January, this group is a great place for any vegan newbies.

Vegan Special Offers UK

Found a vegan bargain in your local supermarket? Let others know about it here.

Little Vegan Kitchen 

A fairly new group but another friendly one and welcomes non-vegans and vegetarians as long as you keep your pics and chat about vegan food. Well worth a visit.

So, these are my favourite vegan and vegetarian Facebook groups. What are your favourites?




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Giveaway: The Great Vegan Protein Book by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes

The Great Vegan Protein Book by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes
The Great Vegan Protein Book by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes
Win a copy of The Great Vegan Protein Book

The next time someone asks you, ‘But where do you get your protein from?’ just whack them round the head with this book.

The Great Vegan Protein Book by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes is a cookbook bursting with – in case you hadn’t guessed – protein-rich recipes. These mouth-watering plant-based recipes are categorised into chapters containing:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Grains, nuts and seeds
  • Tofu and tempeh
  •  Seitan
The Great Vegan Protein Book by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes
High Brow Hash

There’s also a chapter devoted to protein – why we need it, where can we get it from etc., in case you want to swot up on the facts and go down a route less violent upon being asked *that* question, other than whacking them over the head with a book.

Lots of full-page colour photos accompany the recipes, which range from breakfasts to desserts, along with soups, salads and sandwiches.

The Great Vegan Protein Book by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes
No Bake Choco Cashew Cheesecake

Giveaway: Win a copy of The Great Vegan Protein Book

If you’d like to win a copy of The Great Vegan Protein Book, simply leave a comment below with the answer to this question:

Which of these is not a good source of protein? 

a) Tofu
b) Traffic cones
c) Kidney beans

Terms & Conditions:

UK entries only.
One winner will be drawn at random after the closing date of Midnight, Saturday 4 April 2015.
The winner will be announced on this website no later than Saturday 11 April 2015. If the winner doesn’t come forward within a week after this date, a new winner will be announced.

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Review: Genius Gluten Free Cupcakes

Genius gluten-free cupcakes
Genius gluten-free cupcakes
Genius gluten-free cupcakes

Although I’d never pretend to be a cake expert (a cakespert?), I’ve got to say, these gluten-free cupcakes from Genius don’t appear to be any different from their un-gluten-free counterparts. I’ve only tried the lemon one so far which had a sweet lemony frosting on top of a light, fluffy sponge with none of that cardboard texture you can sometimes get with gluten-free products.

Genius gluten-free lemon and chocolate cupcakes
Genius gluten-free lemon and chocolate cupcakes

If you’re thinking they look a bit squished, that’s because they were sent to me, so I’m sure they’ll be in a more pristine condition in the shops. If you do want to check them out, also in Genius’ gluten-free range are other cakes and treats (including muffins and crumpets), bread and rolls, and pastry and pies.

Anyone who loves cupcakes but needs them gluten-free should definitely give these a go.

For more information:

Visit the Genius website
Following Genius on Twitter
Like Genius on Facebook

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Review: Yu!’s New Fruity Chews

Yu! 100% fruit chews
Yu! 100% fruit chews

Do you like tasty, healthy snacks? You do? Then Yu! is for you.

Yu! have brought out a new snack range of 100% fruit chews suitable for vegans (except the ones coated in yoghurt), vegetarians and those intolerant to lactose, wheat and gluten. They also contain no added sugar, are high in fibre and make up one of your five-a-day.

Mini and heart-shaped chews are available in mango, raspberry and strawberry flavour, while Yu!’s fruit pieces with a light yoghurt coating are available in apple, mango, strawberry and raisin flavour.

Yu! Apple pieces coated in yoghurt
Yu! Apple pieces coated in yoghurt

I’ve tried most of the range and I don’t think I have a favourite – they’re all deliciously sweet, tangy and chewy. My only complaint is there isn’t enough in the bag as they’re incredibly moreish and I don’t want to stop eating them.

For more information:

Visit Yu!’s website
Follow Yu! on Twitter
Like Yu! on Facebook

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Cookbook: A Salad For All Seasons by Harry Eastwood

You’d have thought I’d had enough of salad after doing the Bodychef diet plan for a week but, being keen to keep up my healthy eating, I took a look at A Salad For All Seasons by Harry Eastwood that had been sent to me recently.

A Salad For All Seasons by Harry Eastwood
A Salad For All Seasons by Harry Eastwood

Harry’s book is divided into seasons, with each recipe stating its calorie count, along with how many of your 5-a-day it contains. Although this isn’t a 100% vegetarian cookbook, most of the recipes containing meat or fish are followed by a note at the bottom giving a suggestion for a vegetarian version. At the back of the book are recipes for glazings, pestos, dressings and vinegars.

Lebanese Fattoush recipe
Lebanese Fattoush recipe

I made the Lebanese Fattoush but left out the pitta bread and instead of using a cos lettuce, I used a bag of Florette salad (Florette also have plenty of salad recipes on their website).

Lebanese Fattoush
Lebanese Fattoush

The sumac (I found it on the ‘ingredients’ shelf in Tesco) gave this salad a wonderful lift, as did the simple suggested dressing of 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Buy A Salad For All Seasons by Harry Eastwood at Amazon
Visit Harry’s website at www.harryeastwood.com

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