Review: Plant Kitchen

Marks & Spencer have come up with a vegan range that they launched just in time for Veganuary. Shocking coincidence or marketing genius? We bought a tonne so we can’t really complain.

Yeah.

We’ll start with the things we don’t have pictures of. Kate tried the Cashew Mac. I wanted to but I can’t eat mushrooms when I’m stressed so I left it to her. Apparently the mushrooms overwhelmed the dish. Disappointing when you want to tuck into a nice cheesy sauce. Kate also had dibs on the Lasagna which was basically just a lasagna although she admits her ambivalence may have something to do with never having had a lasagna with mince in before she went vegan. We tend to make a plain tomato lasagna at home.

The No Turkey Feast appeared before Christmas but now it’s been joined by some other cool on-the-go options. They were all sold out of all the other new bits though. The sandwich is a ready-made sandwich so obviously not the best thing I’ve ever had but the turkey was delicious, the mayo smooth and creamy and the cranberry really brightened things up.

Two-for-one here. We have the No Chic’n Nuggets and the Dirty Fries. According to Kate, an expert in these matters, they taste exactly like the real thing. The dirty fries are covered in tomato sauce and béchamel and cheese. So, so satisfying.

I had the BBQ Pulled Jackfruit pizza one evening before rushing off to a meeting. I liked this one but it was a little too sweet and not terribly filling. Nice but not nice enough for the price.

We grabbed a pack of the No Pork Sausoyges to eat for breakfast. They have a skin on them which makes them really exciting from a texture perspective but they taste of pepper and not much else. Still I bet these would be great on a barbecue, with the skin allowed to crackle and char.

The final product we tried was the tikka masala. It’s basically your standard chicken tikka masala ready meal, only vegan. Like with the sandwich it’s exciting that we have vegan options but never going to be all that exciting. Still, it’s a Marks & Spencer ready meal so it’s still tasty but four minutes in the microwave is never going to result in something amazing.

That’s basically the idea though. It’s the standard foods you’d find in UK supermarkets, only made vegan. There is a block of tofu in the range and a sushi roll but mostly it’s BBQ pizza, ready meal pasta, and microwave curry. You could switch to these foods and not overly change your diet. For me the price is going to stop me buying from the range often but I could see us grabbing a couple of bits a month. And a sandwich, no doubt, when we’re stuck in a service station or train station somewhere.

Reveiw: Asda Pizza with Vegan Cheese

When Asda introduces vegan cheese to their choose your own toppings counter it was big news. It’s been years since I’ve visited one of these counters and I can’t say I’ve missed it but you know what let’s give it a go. We got two 10″ pizzas with vegan cheese, one plain and one with all the veggies.

They were bad. Okay so the base is just basically a biscuit. Hard, crispy and bizarrely sweet. I could’t taste the tomato sauce so I’ll just assume it was okay. There was far too much cheese so at the centre it was just like a pile of white sauce. It didn’t really have any flavour to it at all.

So we’re probably never going to buy these again. But that might be progress. 2018 could be the year when vegans are just as disappointed with supermarket pizza as meat eaters.

Creamy Without Nuts: Fravocado (Vegan Mofo 2018)

I’m going to show off a cool local product today. Made in Dawlish, Fravocado is a frozen treat made of a mix of avocados and coconut. Delicious, soft, creamy and free from all the major allergens.

We sell the original flavour at The Kind Grind. You can taste the avocado, the coconut and a hint of lime. It’s refreshing and decadent at the same time. There’s also a Raspberry Basil and a Raw Cacao flavour. Equally delicious.

If you can get yourself to a stockist I 100% recommend giving this one a go. I love it.

Review: No Bull Burgers and Other Iceland Vegan Treats

UK vegan bloggers, social media users, and just about everyone else has been talking about the meaty-tasting and meaty-textured No Bull Burgers from Iceland. It’s been a big deal, especially at £2 for a 2 pack. I’m not usually one to shop at Iceland because I like to pretend I cook everything from fresh. Which I don’t, but I feel like shopping at a frozen food place would be admitting that. Here we go then, off to try the vegan food of Iceland.

First up, the No Bull Burgers. The texture is reminiscent of a beef burger but softer. I would have liked a bit more bite myself. As you can see from the pan pic they have the look down but it doesn’t really translate when cooked. Only the outside browns so it’s still pink in the middle. I know that doesn’t matter. It’s still cooked but when you’ve spent your childhood avoiding eating meat that’s pink in the middle it messes with your head a little. Because of that it’s not my favourite burger but it’s a solid choice. Especially at the price.

Of course I couldn’t just stop at the burgers. While I was in there I picked up four dishes from the Mumbai Street Co range. 4 for £2. Why not? The rice in the range has milk in it so instead I made some in the Instant Pot to go with my selections. Let’s start it’s the Tandoori Shashlik. Because it’s worth starting with. Packed to bursting full of lovely veggies in a rich sauce. The bhajis, apparently from Calcutta, are crisp and satisfying.

Next up I piled Gobi Dhansak and Chennai Dhal onto a plate. The Chennai Dhal is good, I can’t say a bad word about it. The Gobi Dhansak however is amazing. Perfect sweet and sour sauce, lentils and more of that lovely, lovely veg. There’s some good stuff in Iceland right now and I’m happy to support them as they’ve made a commitment to reducing plastic packaging and have a yummy vegetable Dhansak.

Review: vegan fudge from Roly’s

Before we went vegan I loved fudge. Not the sickly sweet, strangely smooth substance made by Cadbury and the other confectionery giants, but the crumbly stuff the Scots call tablet. I learnt how to make it one summer, and treated my workmates to a different flavour each week. I’ve experimented with different oils to try to make vegan fudge: coconut oil fudge was too brittle and greasy, while cocoa butter fudge showed promise but needs works. Fortunately you don’t have to wait for me to perfect the recipe: Roly’s Fudge have beaten me to it.

fudge

As they describe on their blog, it’s made from coconut oil, soy milk, and cashew butter, and comes in two flavours: maple and cashew, and salted maple and pecan. The pecan one has pieces of pecan in it, while the cashew one is just fudge. They have same crumbly texture I remember from their non-vegan fudge, and the price is the same too. Clare picked up a bag of each in Dartmouth, and as she doesn’t like fudge I had the whole lot to myself; they lasted almost a day, as I alternated between them trying to work out which was more delicious. I think I might need another couple of bags before deciding. If there’s a Roly’s near you then pop in for some (tip: they also do vegan ice cream), and if not you can order online.

Sampling Linda McCartney’s Christmas Offering: Vegetarian Beef Roast With Red Wine & Shallot Glaze

Christmas is coming and the pestering has started. We’re asked almost ever other day what we’ll be having for Christmas dinner. We’re going to my in-laws this year. That means spuds and vegetables are taken care of and we just need to provide a meat substitute. So it’s time to get sampling.

This week we’ve tried the Vegetarian Beef Roast that’s new to the Linda McCartney range this year. It comes in it’s own roasting thin so it can easily slide in the already full Christmas Oven. When it’s done you turn it out and out plops your beefy roast, glazed and ready to be carved. I was pleased to be able to get the slices nice and thin, like roast beef.

cookedbeef
Beefy?

So what of the taste? Fairly beefy, though it still has a beady texture. If you looked at the picture and think it looks like a loaf shaped version of the sausages then you would be right. I wasn’t a fan of the glaze, I found the red wine overwhelming, but you can’t really taste it unless you are nibbling along the bottom edge.

beef
Roast Dinner

It’s edible, and it’s not unpleasant but it didn’t exactly blow me away. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t the worlds greatest fan of beef in the first place. I wouldn’t mind eating this again and unlike a lot of the other Christmas roast options it’s easy to find in regular supermarkets but it’s not going to win a spot on out Christmas plate.

The White Rabbit Pizza Co. Smokin’ Vegan

When we hear about a vegan product being launched in the UK we just sort of assume it will take a while to filter down here to Devon. So I heard about these pizzas long before I got to try one. The White Rabbit Pizza Co. makes gluten free pizzas, two of which are vegan. One of them has made it onto the shelves of our local Sainsbury’s.


Okay, let’s get one thing out of the way. This is not a low cost vegan option. When I got mine it cost £5 which is about the same as a chilled Pizza Express pizza. It’s the same sort of size too. As it’s vegan, gluten free and organic it’s going to cost a bit more to make but that does mean I can’t afford it all that often. 


Let’s talk taste, then. I was pleased with the amount of toppings. Pepper and olives will always make me happy. The cheese didn’t taste all that smokey to me, disappointing because I love smokey cheese, but it is nice and creamy. As for the base, well you have to remember that it’s gluten free. It’s not a chewy, bready base. It’s rather cracker like but it is tasty. 

All in all it’s a solid weeknight meal option.