Tag Archive | vegan

91. Vegan Las Vegas – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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So, the end of August was my birthday. But not just any birthday, it was the big 3-oh! Can’t believe that I’ve been on this planet for 3 decades!!!
(And what’s even more unbelievable is that I ate animals for 2.5 of those decades 🙁 Still, shows it’s never too late to change for the better!)

Anyway, in order to celebrate, my lovely husband had planned a semi-surprise trip to Las Vegas. I ate sooo much amazing food whilst I was there, most of my clothes are too tight now!
#noregrets.

A lot of people had “warned” me that I’d really struggle out there… but they were so wrong, just check out Happy Cow and the PETA “Eating Vegan at Fast Food Chain Restaurants” guidance.

Not all the food was great though, so I have split my review into the Good, the Bad and the Ugly:

The Good

Nacho Daddy
I’ll start with the best, Nacho Daddy was SO good that we went twice!
Although this Mexican restaurant is a bit of a carnist’s dream, it has an entirely separate vegan menu and it is aaaaamazzzing! They even do vegan queso and sour cream <3
On the first visit I went for the quesadillas and a side of chips. And on the second visit I went for the loaded nachos. Holy guacamole, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
They also do tacos, burritos and fajitas. In fact I think the only thing that was missing was a chimichanga (my absolute favourite).
They were open until 1am as well – making it a perfect stop after a few drinks on Fremont Street or after seeing a show.

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Loaded vegan nachos

Quesadila

Quesadila

Ronald’s Donuts
Ronald’s Donuts is a little place that not-surprisingly serves donuts as well as coffees.
What was surprising was that over a third of the donuts were vegan! And it was here that I lost my bear-claw virginity. I also had a gorgeous raspberry and a custard donut. They were REALLY good. But it was a REALLY bad idea to go on the rides at Circus Circus afterwards, eeeeeurgh!
I thought the donuts were very reasonably priced as well – cheaper than a Krispy Crème with the added bonus of being cruelty free.

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Bear Claw!

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Custard donut

Pop Up Pizza
Pop Up Pizza is a little pizza bar located in the Plaza hotel. The plastic furniture and casino surroundings don’t make for a romantic meal setting, but its well worth a visit. Or, they deliver if you’d rather eat in the comfort of your hotel room.
They have various vegan toppings – including Daiya cheese- that you can use to create your own (massive) pizza, or if you are passing by, you can pick up just a slice or two of their “Soho” which is vegan mozzarella, spinach, roasted mushrooms, artichokes, and roasted bell peppers. Bellissimo!

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The Soho

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Komol Restaurant
Another place which is good for pleasing carnists and vegans alike is the Komol Thai restaurant.
They have a really extensive selection of tofu and mock meats – including vegan shrimp which I added to my veggie chow mein (made with rice noodles). It was sooooo tasty and I really like the fact that you are asked how spicy you would like your order. The portions were mega generous too – I had my leftovers doggy bagged up so I could give them to a homeless person (there are a lot of people sleeping rough in LV).

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Chow Mein with rice noodles and faux shrimp

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Red 8 (located in the Wynn Hotel)
The Wynn and Encore hotels are awesome for vegans. Every restaurant has a separate vegan menu!
Red 8 is located in the Wynn and offers an Asian style menu. It is a little pricey but the food is very good and the restaurant makes a great location for a special date night.
I had the Gardein Cashew Chick’n with Celery, Mushrooms and Ginger. The Chick’n was so realistic I had to get the hubby to try it and convince me that they hadn’t messed up my order!

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Gardein Cashew Chick’n with Celery, Mushrooms and Ginger

Rainbows End
Rainbows End is a fantastic vegan and veggie store with a café attached. I spent most of my spending money in here! Unfortunately the café was closed when I visited but luckily they have a chiller full of burritos, hummus pots, potato salad and other yummy treats to take away. I went for the burrito and also bought a ton of treats to bring home, including jerky, blue tortilla chips, Dandies marshmallows, Chao cheese and some Tofurkey sausages (luckily the aircon in the room was so cold that everything kept!)

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Shop front

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Burrito

Einstein Bros Bagels
So no, the vegan friendly bagels here weren’t the most interesting food I ate during my visit, but what vegan doesn’t love PB&J?! (Except maybe one with a peanut allergy…)
I used this site to check out what was safe, there are quite a few options, including hummus 🙂
Don’t be afraid to order what you want if that particular combination isn’t given as an option on the menu.

PB&J

PB&J

Chipotle
I never thought for a second that a fast food joint like Chipotle would have a vegan option! But they do and it was yummy! I had a tofu sofritas taco with guac and I loved every second of it.20160830_135017 20160830_135025

Amorino Gelato
These gelato bars are actually all over the place (including Europe) and there is more than one in Vegas itself. But the first time that I ever saw one and realised that they did vegan sorbet was at the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets. They offer various different vegan flavours, including pistachio and blood orange and ginger (the two that I picked) as well as mango, chocolate and banana.
Pricey but definitely made trainer shopping with the Hubby more worthwhile!

Blood orange & ginger and pistachio

Blood orange & ginger and pistachio

American Airlines
So, American Airlines didn’t provide me with the best meals of my life, but the food I received was at least vegan and was neither bad nor ugly. In fact it tasted pretty good!
For dinner I receive a yummy veggie tagine as the main, with a fresh salad on the side, a bread roll, a nice vegan marg (wish I could remember the name – I also had it on my trip to Kos), a jam, some crackers and a reasonable sized bottle of water. Unfortunately the pudding was the dreaded fruit salad (I HATE melon, good people of the world – please use your imagination and stop offering me this as a dessert!!! I want cake dammit!), but otherwise I was very impressed.

Breakfast was some mini hash browns, mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach. Again, not gourmet but I did enjoy it.
Such a shame that we only flew with this company in one direction!

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American Airlines vegan meal

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American Airlines vegan breakfast

Starbucks
Starbucks is Starbucks….. but as far as I am aware, we can’t get the infamous “pink drink” in the UK! Order a Strawberry and Acai Refresher – but ask for it to be made with coconut milk instead of water. This was such a delicious treat 🙂 probably for the best that I can’t get one over here. All that sugar, I’d have no teeth left!

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The Pink Drink!

The Bad

Wendys
Hahah, oh Wendy’s!
I followed PETA’s advice and asked for a “veggie sandwich” – which I thought was going to be a bread bun filled with a bit of salad and pickles. I had planned to fill it with French fries to make a chip butty…
The lady who worked here was so super lovely, she said she would make the sandwich herself to make sure that the new person “didn’t mess it up”. She did mention that the tomato and pickles would be wrapped up in lettuce… but I hadn’t twigged that the lettuce was substituting the bread!
Most.tasteless.lunch.ever! To be fair, I could also have had a plain jacket potato or a salad… but maybe I’ll just not bother with Wendy’s again unless it’s an emergency!

Wendy's

Wendy’s

Ihop
I saw that Ihop did grits and so I told the hubby that we could go there for breakfast. But I couldn’t find them anywhere on the menu!!! So I made do with hash brown, an un-buttered English muffin and some avocado. The avocado was beautiful, but I was paranoid that I could taste burnt meat juice on the hash brown. It didn’t look like it had been cooked on a dirty meaty grill but I just couldn’t enjoy it.

Hash brown, avocado and English muffin

Hash brown, avocado and English muffin

107 Sky Lounge
I got a little bit tipsy when we went to the 107 Sky Lounge in the Stratosphere hotel (where we were saying). I was getting a little peckish whilst looking at the stunning views when I saw that they had hummus and lavosh on the menu…. (Let’s forget that I’m pretty certain that I have a chickpea intolerance!) I ordered and was well excited to see that it came served in a Martini glass! Classy as f*ck!!!! But my excitement was short-lived when I saw that the lavosh bread came with cheese on it 🙁 So I sat there, in a swanky bar eating a Martini glass full of hummus with a teaspoon – not my finest moment!

Hummus cocktail :')

Hummus cocktail :’)

The Ugly

British Airways
We flew with British Airways for the journey home. This airline claims that “your sense of taste changes when you are flying at 30,000 feet” and that “After conducting extensive research we have improved the food and wine we offer, so it tastes even better in the air than it does on the ground.”

Well I don’t think for a second that anyone tested the vegan option before selling it – either in the air or on the ground!!! Bleurgh.
I was given a tray that was marked as vegan, but the main hot dish was labelled as being lacto-ovo vegetarian… also there was a carton of milk for my tea and a salad dressing that contained milk as an ingredient. Good job I am suspicious of everything and checked! So I called the air steward over and asked her if I had received the correct meal. She said “yes, it’s marked as vegan”. To which I replied “no – it’s labelled as vegetarian”. So it got taken away and brought back to me and I was told “It was just the main meal and the milk that wasn’t vegan so we swapped the meal and removed the milk”.
Err no, the salad dressing?!
Seriously, I could have eaten that – what if I was allergic?!

So, alongside my dry salad and cup of black tea, I got some veggies, some rice and some brown stuff. Controversially, I usually quite enjoy airplane food… but this had a really weird aftertaste to it. Not nice at all. And the dessert didn’t make up for the disappointment of the main – whilst everyone else chomped down on a piece of cheesecake, I got the usual crappy token fruit salad. Booooo.
I got excited when I saw breakfast consisted of a huge slab of tofu, spinach and potatoes. But again, there was a weird aftertaste and everything was coated in oil. Seriously, spinach is the wettest vegetable ever, why the heck did it need so much oil?!

Must do better, BA! If you need someone to give you some ideas and taste-test your offerings, drop me a line! :’)

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BA vegan meal

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BA Vegan breakfast

 

 

Whilst I’m still typing, I HAVE to give a mention to the following establishments:

Others:

Veggies House
I’m sooooo sad that we didn’t find the time to visit this place. The menu looks amazing and the reviews I read were really good. If we are lucky enough to visit Vegas again, we are 100% giving this eatery a try! If you’re into your mock meat, I definitely think Veggies House will be a winner!

Vegan Bites Bakery
Another place I’d really wanted to go to. I’d planned to make a stop for some cookies, or maybe a brownie. But after that bear claw I just didn’t fancy it 🙁 I regret it now!

Six Flags Magic Mountain
Ok, so 6 Flags Magic Mountain is most definitely not in Las Vegas. In fact, it is in Los Angeles. It’s a four hour drive away – 7 hours if you get stuck in a horrific traffic jam coming back like we did. BUT I think they deserve a mention for having a clearly labelled vegan option at the “Go Fresh Café” stand – AND ITS NOT SALAD!
I had some Gardein crispy tenders and fries (although I could have had fruit or baby carrots if I’d have preferred). I was well impressed! External food and drink isn’t allowed so I’d honestly thought I was going to starve to death 🙂 Good job Six Flags! I hope you continue to impress us by extending your menu!

 

So here we are at the end of my Las Vegas adventure! Still alive, not protein deficient and once again proving that it really isn’t that hard to remove cruelty from your plate 🙂

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Giant Harley

View from the hotel

View from the hotel

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Along the Strip

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

 

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90. Anzac Biscuits

Mmm, I love these syrupy, coconutty, biscuitty discs of delightfulness <3

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The hubby does too – I’ve had to make these 3 times this week!

My original inspiration for this recipe was off the BBC Good Food recipe. But they were pretty easy to veganise.
And if you can live without harming others, why wouldn’t you?

Anzac Biscuits:
Ingredients
85g porridge oats
85g desiccated coconut
100g plain flour
100g sugar
110g vegan marge (plus a little extra for greasing your baking trays)
1 tbsp. golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 180oC.
In a large bowl, mix the oats, coconut, flour, sugar and bicarbonate of soda.
In a small pan, melt the marge before stirring in the syrup until completely mixed. Stir in the apple cider vinegar.
Create a well in the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the marge mixture whilst stirring. Keep on stirring until all of the marge has been absorbed.
The mixture will seem a little dry but that’s ok. You should be able to roll heaped-teaspoon amounts into balls.
Place each ball onto a greased baking tray and squish down into a thick disc shape (around ¼ inch high). The key is to squash as flat as you can without causing the edges to over crack – you want to maintain a round shape.
Remember to leave room in between each biscuit to allow for spreading.
Put into the oven for 12 minutes.
Halfway through cooking, squish each biscuit with the back of a spatula to flatten them down.
Keep an eye on the biscuits in case they cook faster than the 12 minutes. You can tell when they are done because they will be a beautiful golden brown and won’t squash any flatter when you press them with the spatula.

They got the Liz seal of approval! :D

They got the Liz seal of approval! 😀

 

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89. Spanish Style Sausage

I was in two minds whether to blog about these or not. It was very hard to get a photo that didn’t look like…. Well…. Use your imagination.

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Tastes more appetising than it looks….

However, these sausages taste a lot better than they look! And the skin makes them extra fun to make.

And, they contain both tempeh and seitan! That makes them vegan level 8 – right?!

Spanish Style Sausage recipe

Ingredients:

Dry-

2 x tsp onion granules
2 x tsp garlic granules
1 x tsp sage
1 x tsp thyme
3 x tsp smoked paprika
1 x tsp salt
1 x tsp cumin
1 x cup wheat gluten

Wet-

½ x tbsp. soya lecithin (optional but improves the texture)
½ x tbsp. olive oil
3 x tbsp. port
1 x jar tempeh (230 g)

 
Skin –

2 x rice paper sheets
1 ½ x tbsp. liquid aminos (or soya sauce)
1 x tsp smoked paprika
½ x tbsp. olive oil
2 x tbsp. boiling water

Method:

  • Put the dry ingredients in a food processor and give them a good mix.
  • Add the wet ingredients and whizz until a dough starts to form.
  • Take the dough out of the food processor and give it a good knead for 8 mins.
  • Roll out into 2 x sausage shaped and wrap up each one in Clingfilm.
  • Pop into a steamer and cook on a medium heat for 45 mins.
  • Take out of the steamer and allow to cool before removing the Clingfilm.
  • Make a marinade for the skin by mixing all of the ingredients apart from the rice paper.
  • One at a time, soak the rice paper sheets in the marinade until beginning to soften.
  • Roll up each sausage in one rice paper sheet.
  • Heat up a frying pan with a little oil and add the sausages. Fry on each side until browned.

I sliced up each sausage and added to a spicy tomato sauce to make a tasty Patatas Bravas <3

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Topped off with homemade vegan cheese <3

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88. Popcorn Tofu

20160324_200515Tofu is an excellent source of amino acids, calcium, iron and loads of other good stuff. But who gives a crap, sometimes you just want something deep fried and delicious. Popcorn tofu – all of the taste, none of the campylobacter!

There are various tofu popcorn recipes knocking around, but I didn’t peek! This recipe is all  my own – although I guess the concept is pretty basic 🙂

This recipe comes as three parts: the tofu, the “egg” wash and the coating. It looks like a lot of ingredients but its well worth it. The result is lovely, slightly tongue tingling pieces of tofu which are soft in the middle but wonderfully crunchy on the outside.

Ingredients:

• 250g Tofu – firm, not the silken variety.

“Egg” wash:
● 1/3 x cup non-dairy milk (40ml)
● 1/3 x cup Aqua faba (40ml)
● 1 x tbsp. cornstarch

Coating:
• 1 x cup plain white flour (125g)
• 2 x tsp ground black pepper
• 1 x tsp ground coriander
• ½ x tsp ground ginger
• 1 x tsp salt
• ½ x tsp smoked paprika
• ½ x tsp ground cumin
• ½ x tsp garlic powder
• ¼ x tsp tumeric
• ¼ x tsp ground nutmeg
• 1/8 x tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you’re a hot head!)
• 1 x tsp dried sage
• 1 x tsp dried parsley
• 2 x cloves (ground)

Method:

1. Drain and press the tofu in advance. Once prepared, cut into 1inch cubes. (Tip: For an even more authentic texture, freeze and defrost first. Shaking a few drops of liquid smoke over the cubes adds even more taste.)
2. Whisk up the aqua faba, dairy-free milk and cornstarch until white and fluffy. Pour into a bowl along with the tofu cubes and refrigerate for 30minutes.
3. In the meantime, create the coating by mixing together the flour, herbs and spices.
4. Roll each cube of tofu in the flour mixture until coated and set aside for a few minutes. You will see the coating turn a yellowish colour as the tumeric soaks up the moisture.
5. Add all of the coated tofu cubes into the remaining flour mixture and give them a gentle toss to make sure that they are fully coated. The coating might look a little lumpy but this is good as it gives a nice authentic texture when fried.
6. Deep fry at 190oC for 3 – 4 minutes. The tofu will float when cooked and should be a nice golden colour.
7. Drain on some kitchen roll before enjoying!

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Tip: It is best not to overcrowd the fryer. So unless you have a very large fryer I would recommend cooking in two batches. You can keep the first batch hot and crispy by spreading out across a baking try and putting in a warm oven.

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86. Creme Cheeze

Creamy smooth, mildly cheezy with a slightly acidic twang – Creme Cheeze is super versatile! Spread it on a bagel, stir it into hot pasta or pipe it into a cherry pepper. Just make sure you make it in advance as it will need to firm up in the fridge overnight.

Ingredients:

  • 75 g of vegetable shortening
  • ½ x block firm silken tofu (drained and cut into smaller pieces)
  • 2 x tbsp. non-dairy yoghurt
  • 1 x tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 x tsp salt
  • 1 x tbsp. nutritional yeast

Method:

  1. On a low heat, completely melt the vegetable shortening in a small saucepan (but don’t allow to get too hot).
  2. Take the pan off the hob and carefully add the tofu and mash into the shortening with a fork. It will sizzle but this is fine – the heat will help to take away some of the beany taste.
  3. Add the other ingredients and stir together.
  4. Whizz together using a hand blender until smooth.
  5. Pour into a container, cover and chill overnight.

 

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85. “Bacon” crumbles

This isn’t the most healthy recipe that I’ve ever come up with, but at least none of the ingredients have been classified as carcinogenic like real bacon!

I never liked real bacon anyway, the amount of fat that comes off it is grotesque. If you don’t pour bacon fat down the sink for fear of the drains getting blocked, I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t be adding it to your body. After all, your arteries are much thinner than the kitchen plumbing!

These delightful little crumbles make a great topping for soups and salads, or can be added to a dairy-free carbonara sauce to add a salty, crunchy hit.

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Ingredients (Makes 1 ½ cups):

  • 1 x heaped cup wheat gluten (equal to 160g)
  • 1 x tsp garlic powder
  • 3 x tsp smoked paprika (split into 2 & 1 tsps)
  • 2 ½ x tsp salt (split into 2 & ½ x tsp)
  • 3 x tbsp. vegetable oil (split into 2 & 1 tbsp.)
  • ½ x tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 x tbsp. Maple syrup
  • 1/3 x cups water (equal to 175 ml)

Method:

  1. Add the wheat gluten, garlic powder, 2 tsp paprika and 2 tsp salt to a food processor and whiz until blended.
  2. Add 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, soy sauce, maple syrup and water and blend until “crumbles” form. If the crumbles look too floury then add another tablespoon of water. However you don’t want big chunks as these won’t crisp up as well.ps.2 20160322_183736_resized
  3. Add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil to a non-stick frying pan and heat over a medium flame.
  4. Add the raw crumbles and fry until browned and slightly blackened in places. Be sure to continually stir to prevent the crumbles from burning. This will take 15 – 20 mins.
  5. During the last few minutes, add the remaining 1 tsp paprika and ½ tsp salt and stir well to make sure the crumbles are evenly coated.
  6. They will firm up and become more crunchy once cooled. If adding to a sauce, add last to make sure they don’t go too soft.

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84. Flash’s soft white baps!

Buns, baps or barms?

Buns, baps or barms?

If you want to cause an argument in the UK, ask a group of people what they would call this particular bread product. Is it a roll, bun, cob, stottie, batch or a barm? In this case I’ve chosen to call it a bap, purely for the innuendo.

Baps PS3

Sooo super soft!

This is such a great easy recipe, the hardest part if having the time to let the dough prove. But its well worth making space in your busy schedule for these as they are delicious and don’t contain any of the nasty preservatives found in shop bought bread.

Ingredients (makes 8):

  • 1 x 7g sachet of active dry yeast
  • 150 ml warm water
  • 150 ml room temperature soya milk (or any dairy alternative)
  • 1 x tbsp sugar
  • 1 x tsp salt (plus extra for the glaze)
  • 2 x tbsp. olive oil
  • 300 g strong white bread flour
  • 200 g plain white flour
  • a little oil for greasing the baking tray and glazing the buns (I like to use a low cal spray)

Method:

  1. In a jug, mix the water, soya milk, salt and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top and put in a warm place for 10 minutes or until the yeast blooms.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the bread flour and plain flour and mix to combine. Create a well in the centre.
  3. Gently stir the olive oil into the yeast mixture before pouring into the well of the flour. Using a wooden spoon, mix until all the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Using your hand, knead the mixture until a dough is formed.
  5. Transfer onto a clean work surface and knead for 5 minutes. You shouldn’t need to add any extra flour.
  6. Roll the dough into a ball and put back into the mixing bowl. Cover with cling-film and leave in a warm place for at least 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 180oC.
  8. Deflate the dough and knead for another 5 minutes. Roll into a log shape and divide into 8 equal pieces.
  9. Knead and shape each piece into a ball before flattening into a disc of about 1inch high.
  10. Grease a baking tray and lay out the baps on top. Don’t place too close together as they are going to roughly double again in size.
  11. Glaze the top of each bap with a little oil and a sprinkle of salt.
  12. Move to a warm place for at least 30 minutes or until the baps have doubled in size.
  13. Place into the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes. They should only just be turning a light golden brown but will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  14. Whilst the buns are baking, line a plate or a tray with some kitchen roll.
  15. When ready, remove the baps from the oven and immediately place on the kitchen roll before wrapping in Cling-Film. It is normal for the Cling-Film to steam up – this will make sure that the baps are soft whilst the kitchen roll will prevent them from becoming soggy. 

    Baps PS6

    The Cling-Film ensures that the baps stay soft once cooled.

  16. Allow to cool and then eat! They are especially good served with soup.Baps PS5

Best used up within 1 -2 days of baking.

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83. Chestnut flour pancakes

Hooray, it’s Pancake Day! Apologises for being a bit late with this recipe… but at least I am way ahead of schedule for next year! Or you know, SCREW CONVENTION, make and eat these babies whenever you feel like it!

My lovely (and rather charming!) friend brought me a bag of chestnut flour back from his visit to Italy. He told me I could make “crepes” with it, so that’s exactly what I did :o)

The chestnut flour added a lovely subtle earthy, sweet-but-not-sickly depth to the pancakes. If you like a more traditional flavour, you can swap the salt for Kala Namak to make them slightly eggy.
Ingredients (Makes 4):

1 x tsp Egg replacer whisked into 2 x tbsp. water (I used No-Egg by Orgran)
½ x cup soya milk
½ x cup water
½ x tsp apple cider vinegar
½ x tbsp. oil (veg or melted coconut)
1 x cup chestnut flour
1 x pinch salt
A little oil for greasing the pan*

NB: I would greatly recommend a non-stick frying pan.

Method:

  1. Into a bowl, whisk up the No-Egg and water until frothy.
  2. Whisk in the soya milk, water, oil and apple cider vinegar.
  3. Whisk in the chestnut flour and salt until smooth and combined. You should be left with a thick but pourable batter.
  4. Heat up a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan. You only want a thin film of oil so discard any extra.
  5. Once the oil is nice and hot, add a soup ladle-full of the batter.
  6. Carefully swirl the pan to make a nice thin, even layer of the batter.
  7. Once the edges of the pancake start to turn brown, you can loosen the edges with a spatula. The secret to pancakes is to make sure the underneath is completely cooked before you attempt to lift them – if you are impatient, they will stick to the pan and rip. You can tell when they’re ready when the top looks dry and bubbly.20160209_183449ps
  8. Gently flip and cook the other side until lightly browned.
  9. Repeat! (Is it me or is the first one always the worst looking?!)
  10. Serve with a topping / filling of your choice!

I went for salted caramel Almond Dream ice cream with a drizzle of maple syrup ♥

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81. Dining in Düsseldorf

How awesome is Düsseldorf for vegans?! Seriously!

A couple of weeks ago I flew to Düsseldorf for a boring work meeting. Since it was a Friday I decided to stay on and fly the husband over for the weekend. Originally I had wanted to move onto Berlin, as it has recently been named the “vegetarian capital of the world”, but the flights were expensive so we decided to stay put.
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At first I was a little dubious. I mean Düsseldorf is beautiful and there is loads of amazing buildings and plenty to do… but it was hard to ignore all of the places selling fur, bratwursts and veal. Not to mention the millions of buttery looking bakeries.

But, a quick search on Google maps reassured me that I was not going to starve during my visit (seriously, search it!). There were so many fun and tasty places to try out that I think I must have put on a stone in weight! Worth it though ☺

Husband didn’t arrive in Düsseldorf until late on the Friday night, so we stayed at the Maritim hotel which is right next door to the airport. And what an amazing hotel it was! The room was lovely but even better was the choice of 5 restaurants and various bars downstairs.

The Maritim hotel website boasts about its vegan and vegetarian options (even the magazine in the room mentioned vegans) but unfortunately the Düsseldorf Airport branch doesn’t have many choices available. However the staff were very accommodating and went to a lot of trouble to make sure I was well fed.

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Vegans get a mention on the front cover of the Maritim hotel magazine!

We picked the Bistro “Bottaccio” restaurant as it seemed to have the most adaptable menu. After negotiating with the waitress I had a blood red tomato soup (served with bread and plenty of olive oil) followed by a very nice tofu Thai green curry with wild rice.  We were too full for dessert so we headed for the bar and had a few cheeky gin martinis instead, lovely! Overall it was a bit on the pricey side, but we accepted that we were a captive audience and just enjoyed the experience.

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Tomato soup

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Thai green curry

On the Saturday we skipped breakfast, jumped on the train and headed straight into Düsseldorf itself. After dumping our stuff at the hotel, we wandered around the shops and ended up at an amazing buffet style restaurant called Sattgrün. Husband was very reserved and just had a bowl of sweet potato and coconut soup (which was absolutely divine) whereas I went for the buffet and LOADED my plate full of seitan, tofu and vegetable dishes ♥ Every single thing I ate was so delicious that it brought a wee tear of happiness to my eyes. I REALLY wish we had a place like this at home.PS17

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Sattgrün

There are quite a few health shops in Düsseldorf. I visited two – Bio Park and Vita Nova. In Bio Park I just bought some crisps and an iChoc, Choco Cookie bar (which to be honest I can get at home). In Vita Nova I could have spent a million pounds but unfortunately I’d only brought a small suitcase… I got a white chocolate bar which to be honest was disgusting, but I also tried some cheeses I’ve never had before and some veggie bratwurst which were AMAZING. Also I had the best vegan sour cream I have ever tried – it was super realistic.

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Chilled vegan selection in Vita Nova

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Vita Nova – not everything was vegan but there was still a lot of choice

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You can get this in the UK, but sometimes you just fancy something familiar 😉

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Bratwurst, cheeze with tomato and basil, cheeze with mushroom (best thing ever), amazing sour cream and not so amazing white chocolate

All that shopping tired us out so we visited a gorgeous little coffee shop called Carrot Cake. I had a whacking great slice of stodgy pumpkin cake and Husband had a Halloween chocolate cake (with a red raspberry filling). We both had a latte which came with a cute little biscuit. Everything was to die for and in my opinion, ridiculously cheap! No wonder the place was full.

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Pumpkin cake

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Chocolate Halloween cake

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Oat milk latte

In the evening, despite the fact we weren’t particularly hungry, we paid a visit to a place called “What’s Beef”.  I know this doesn’t sound particularly vegan friendly, and perhaps it isn’t the best choice for the more sensitive vegan… BUT they do a veggie beet burger on a vegan bread bun with tomato, lettuce, cucumber, onion and homemade tomato sauce and it was gorgeous!!!  Especially since I asked for extra avocado on top. Win.

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On the Sunday we again skipped breakfast and enjoyed a lovely autumnal walk around the “posh” part of Düsseldorf. We were surprised to find that most of the shops were shut but luckily the weather was good so we enjoyed the fresh air and picturesque views. We cut through a shopping centre where the corridors were being used as a catwalk for some fur-clad models *vomit*. I managed to get myself punched in the face by one of said models – which Husband found hil-ar-ious!

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I was so traumatized that we were forced to head to Space Burger so I could recuperate! Like What’s Beef, this burger place also sells meat so won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. BUT, they have a separate menu for vegans with lots of choices! I went for a Mexican themed burger called “El Vegano” which comes with avocado, guacamole, salsa, faux cheese and nachos. I also had some fries and curry sauce on the side, it was bliss ♥

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Space Burger sign

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El Vegano!

Again, in the evening we were far from hungry but we couldn’t resist trying out What’s Beef’s sister company, “What’s Pizza”. This place does a “meatless Monday” but what really caught my attention was the option to have “vegan mozzarella” on my pizza! Unfortunately the mozzarella just turned out to be silken tofu, but it still worked really well with my mushroom, spinach, olive and chilli combo. The pizza bases were lovely as well – it was a joy to eat my crusts.

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It was very fortunate that we ate so much during our stay because on the Monday we headed straight to the airport where our flight ended up being delayed. Luckily our newly acquired fat reserves kept us going for the journey back, ha!

So, if Düsseldorf is this amazingly fantastic for vegans, I really really really can’t wait to pay Berlin a visit!

Bis zum nächsten Mal….

Flash-Gordonette…X

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80. Homemade spaghetti hoops

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I’ve not blogged in ages! Been so super busy… 2 weeks in Zanzibar (saw the birth place of Freddie Mercury, yay!!! ♥) a week in Rotterdam, then rat-sitting my friends’ 16 rescue rats.

So busy in a good way ☺ and I’ve had some really good vegan friendly food whilst I’ve been at it! #noexcuses.

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Ratties!

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Food and drink consumed in Rotterdam

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What Zanzibarbarians eat!

Anyway, sometimes when you’re super busy, you just want to grab something quick and easy for tea. Maybe something from out of the freezer or from a tin.  I often fall back on the English classic of “Something, chips and beans” as I call it. Or sometimes, to introduce a bit of variety, we’ll have “something, chips and spaghetti hoops”. The “something” could be veggie sausages, a tasty pre-made pie or maybe some breaded “chickn nuggets”.

I’ll admit that I’m rather fond of tinned spaghetti hoops. I prefer generic own-brand to the market leader stuff (rhymes with “shmienz”), I think because they tend to be a little less sweet. But you have to be careful because some brands – like ASDA – are not vegan friendly and others are full of scary sounding ingredients.

However, as with most things, if you make them yourself at home you can monitor exactly what goes into them. So although I won’t pretend that this is the healthiest recipe in the world ever, I think it’s fair to say that my homemade spaghetti hoops are much better for you that the shop-bought stuff!

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Obviously this recipe takes much longer than the time it takes to open a tin, but you can make up a batch in advance and keep it in the fridge. It might even freeze well too… but I have never had enough leftovers for long enough to try.

Please note that I have intentionally made this recipe so that it tastes authentic and like the stuff from a tin. If that’s not your thing then you could use more tomatoes, and fresh garlic and onion… but to be honest if you’re going to do that then you might be better off just making pasta and marinara sauce!

Homemade spaghetti hoops recipe (makes about 2 tins worth):

Ingredients:

200g / 1.5 cups dried pasta hoops  (I found mine at the International Supermarket in Liverpool)
570g / 3 cups fresh tomatoes*  (diced)
1 x veg stock cube (make sure its sfv!)
3 x cups water
1 x tsp salt
2 x tsp sugar
½ x tsp garlic powder
½ x tsp onion granules
½ x tsp paprika (I used smoked as it was all I had – it worked!)
1 x tsp nutritional yeast (optional but inspired by the cheese powder included in some brands)
3 x tsp cornflour dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water

*make sure you use nice, fresh, tasty tomatoes! If you end up using watery-rubbish ones, you may find you need to add a tablespoon of tomato puree to the sauce to make up for it.

Method:
Cook the pasta hoops according to the instructions on the packet. For authenticity you may want to slightly overcook the pasta to make it go extra soft (don’t do this if you plan on re-heating).

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In a medium-sized pan, add the diced tomatoes, stock cube and water. Put over the hob and bring to the boil before reducing to a simmer for 15 – 20 minutes (or until the volume has reduced by about half).

Add the salt, sugar, garlic powder, onion granules and paprika. Stir well and leave simmering for a further 5 minutes.

Take off the heat and stir in the nutritional yeast before blending until smooth with a hand blender (you can use a food blender if you prefer). Take care not to spray hot sauce over yourself!

Whisk in the cornflour-water mixture and put back on the heat whilst continually whisking. Heat until the sauce is thick and opaque.

Stir in the cooked pasta and heat until piping hot.

I served mine with some purple veg casserole and a freshly baked bread roll (which just so happened to have a melting Violife “cheese” centre).

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Hellz yes!

Flash-Gordonette…X

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