Vegans love treats too

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There is a popular myth that vegans have a very bland diet.

That is about as accurate as electoral polls – most vegans I know devour junk food and treats even more greedily than their omnivore friends.

Of course, there’s different types of vegan treats – there’s natural treats, accidently vegan treats and, of course, treats specifically marketed at vegans.

Natural-wise, you can just tear up some kale, stick it on a well-oiled (and I don’t mean drunk) tray season it with salt and pepper and roast it – and you have kale crisps – and very good they are too. Of course, you can eat fruit, roast other thinly sliced veg as crisps and munch on nuts. I spent last Sunday morning in my friend’s garden eating raw beans straight from the pod – and very nice they are too.

But, these are all very healthy options, and, sometimes, the point of treats is to be less than healthy. Although, vegan treats are, in general, more healthy than non-vegan treats. But some things like Oreos and Space Raiders are marked under the banner of “surprisingly vegan” – in other words, they just happen to be vegan. An added advantage with Space Raiders is that they are still only £1 for a packet of 10. The pickled onion variety is still vegan and still utterly divine – it’s not as though you’re eating real alien faces.

It also has to be said that quite often meat varieties of crisps are vegan, but salt and vinegar are sometimes not – it is always worth checking.

If you want post crisps that are vegan and sound a bit healthier crisp-wise, then Eat Real (http://eatreal.co.uk/) have some great offerings and they’re widely available.

Their Hummus chips are a personal favourite, as are the Lentil Chilli and Lemon Chips.

This weekend, I tried the Quinoa and Kale Jalapeno and Cheddar Puffs. The Quinoa Puffs have more crunch than other types of puff crisps, and these pack quite a punch. The kale taste certainly cuts through, but the jalapeno hits you with a nice heat that certainly leaves a memorable taste in your mouth. The various ranges all contain a range of flavours and they are well worth checking out.

As it’s summer, I have to mention the 4 U Free From Chocolate and Vanilla Cones from Morrisons. There are quite a few varieties of vegan ice cream out there now, but these are the first chocolate Cornetto-style ones I’ve tried – and I’m impressed. The chocolate hit is lovely and it complements the vanilla very well, but, they aren’t as luscious as the Tesco Strawberry and Vanilla Cones – the Tesco cones actually retain their crunch, something the 4 U cones lack – the Tesco ones have a bit of chocolate at the bottom of the cone too – a bit of chocolate at the bottom of the cone goes a long way in my view.

I am also a huge fan of the devilishly moorish Lazy Day range of goodies (http://www.lazydayfoods.com/) Their Millionaire’s Shortbread is utterly divine, as is their Belgian Chocolate Rocky Road. The chocolate on the latter is divinely rich and the marshmallows yummily sweet – eating it is a truly orgasmic experience. The Ginger Tiffin is another favourite – the hit of stem ginger will not disappoint any ginger lovers. The only problem with this taste of luxury is that a box is disappears very quickly – a pack can vanish before you’ve got through a whole episode of Dr Who.

I’ve mentioned the Tesco Fondant Truffles before – and they still stand up as a cheaper version of the Choices chocolates, but I must mention Panda Liquorice. I am a huge liquorice fan, and Panda’s Blueberry Liquorice is soft, sticky and very addictive – the perfect vegan sweet.

So there you have a brief overview of vegan treats – and I didn’t even mention Vego bars once…

Vegan fondant delights

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Tesco Free-From Fondant Truffles

It’s brilliant how many new vegan products are gracing the shelves of supermarkets across the UK.

With Easter fast approaching, I have already seen a mass of vegan-friendly Easter eggs screaming “eat me” as I walk down the aisles in search of naughty Saturday night treats.

Seeing the new to me Tesco “Finest” free-from truffles when I only went in for Almond milk made this vegan’s heart skip several beats. I don’t mind admitting, I’m a secret chocoholic. Not so secret now eh?

These chocolates are perfect for those with a sweet tooth. You certainly get a strong sugar hit from them and they are very moreish. I can certainly see why people say you can become addicted to chocolate or sugar, eating one chocolate at a time really isn’t an option here – but do let me know if you have the willpower to pull that off!

The fondant centre is actually quite thick and carries an additional, albeit lighter chocolate hit. It certainly can’t be described as unpleasant.

The base is firmer than the rest of the chocolate, but is by no means hard. This gives the sweet a little more bite, something else I like very much.

Something else I like very much is tea. I’m a huge advocate for enjoying a cuppa and chocolates together and these offerings from Tesco do compliment a good cup of tea very well.

The obvious comparison is Choices Caramel Chocolate. Choices have long been a favourite of mine and I can devour a box within half an hour.

Obviously, the Tesco chocolates are fondant truffles and not caramel chocolates, but the idea is the same, if not the centres. I guess there’s enough of a difference to buy a box each – but the Tesco fondants are less expensive.

A box of Tesco Free-From Fondant Truffles costs £2 for 156g, whereas Choices Caramel Chocolates are £3.60 for 125g. A big difference then? Yes, but Choices still have the edge taste-wise – for me at least anyway, however, the Tesco chocolates are very nice and are certainly more than an adequate replacement at a lower cost.

I posted a photo of the Tesco chocolates in the Vegan Friends UK Facebook group and the comments were 100% positive, so it’s clear I’m not alone in being a big fan.

You can buy them online from http://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=293818980

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Screenshot of people reacting to a photo of the Tesco Free-From Fondant Truffles in Facebook group Vegan Friends UK

Every Little Helps for a vegan Christmas

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Tesco Selection Box review

 

Time was, Christmas was a complete horror show for vegans – a dry nut roast for the festive lunch and an apple to follow. Of course, sweets and chocolates were politely declined.

But now, vegans are big business and there are festive vegetarian magazines, an array of festive roasts in supermarkets and health food shops (I noticed one with a used by date of December 17 last week) and chocolate, boy do we have an array of chocolate to choose from!

People have still been excited to see the appearance of Tesco’s own-brand Free From Cho Selection Boxes however, because, now, we have truly hit the mainstream.

Despite the fact it’s only November, and I personally believe the word “Christmas” should be banned before December 24th, I decided to brave the commercial madness on behalf of you lovely people and bought one.

It cost me two quid, which, looking at the contents, is about right. You get three Choc bars – the normal Choc one (a milk chocolate alternative), a Choc ‘N’ Crispie and a White Choc, plus two small packets of choc buttons – a normal milk alternative packet and a white choc packet.

As all of these normally sell for 40p a throw each, it doesn’t take a maths genius to work out that the price is very fair. All the products are palm oil free too, which is important to many vegans.

There’s a small spot the difference game on the back, as, after all, my guess is these a generally not marketed at 40-something cynical blokes.

This is also borne out by the tiny number of buttons in the packets – but with the white ones being sweeter than sugar itself, that may not be a bad thing. The choc ones could be used on cakes as they too are medium sized – those ones are quite creamy, but still carry a noticeable sugar hit. But, again, we need to remember they are aimed at children, and they will absolutely love them.

The Choc ‘N’ Crispie bar is probably the best of the bunch as the crspie bits helps to detract from the sweetness. This means it has more of a creamy taste than its Choc counterpart – I prefer it to the Sainsbury’s equivalent I reviewed in an earlier blog. Talking of which, I have reviewed the other two chocolate bars from this box before too. But here’s a quick reminder for those who are new to my ramblings….

The White Choc Bar has a very sweet smell about it and, in fact, also tastes very sweet – but creamy too. It’s quite heavy and indulgent, but I like that.

The Free From Choc Bar is a little hard when you bite into it, but many people like the crunch effect. It does have an overpowering sugar hit, but isn’t really creamy enough for me. That isn’t to say it isn’t nice, it is a nice treat, it just doesn’t have the chocolaty taste that some of the other bars around possess.

All in all, it’s a good value stocking filler for the young and not so young vegans this Christmas and it’s great to see vegans getting more and more recognition on the High Street.

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The great own brand vegan chocolate review

The rise in supermarkets catering for vegans has been phenomenal over the past few months. The Sainsbury’s vegan cheese release created such a stir, that I wrote my most popular blog thus far on the subject. So I decided to follow it up with a look at something sweet.

There has been a wide range of vegan-friendly chocolate bars on sale for many years, but, recently, supermarkets have picked up on that too. Many dark chocolates are already “accidently” vegan, so I decided to have a look at supermarket equivalents to milk chocolate treats. Most of them are pretty cheap too, at around 40p for a small 35g bar.

 

Sainsbury’s Deliciously Free From… Choc ‘N’ Orange Bar

I love the way Sainsbury’s have decided that their Free From range is “delicious”, the name is slightly presumptuous, but, in this case, pretty accurate. The orange hit here is very strong and is the prominent taste – as should be the case. The fact the chocolate is also quite creamy in texture makes this one a double hit with me.

 

Sainsbury’s Deliciously Free From… Choc ‘N’ Crispie Bar

I quite like the crunch of little rice krispies in chocolate and this one works very well. In fact, it’s the perfect partner for an early evening cup of tea. It certainly doesn’t skimp on the rice pieces and, like it’s orange sister, it has an impressive level of creaminess.

 

Tesco Free From White Choc Bar

I was so excited when I first saw this. One of my earliest memories was getting a Milky Bar Easter egg as a child, and so, without realising it, I decided I had actually missed Milky Bars – and now there’s a cruelty-free alternative available in many local branches of Tesco! It has a very sweet smell about it and, in fact, also tastes very sweet – but creamy too. It’s quite heavy and indulgent, but I like that, especially in such a cheap bar. My favourite of all the bars in this article.

 

Tesco Free From Choc Bar

Another nice and cheap bar. This one is a little hard when you bite into it, but many people like the crunch effect. It does have an overpowering sugar hit, but isn’t really creamy enough for me. That isn’t to say it isn’t nice, it is a nice treat, it just doesn’t have the chocolaty taste that some of the other possess.

 

Morrisons Free From Choocy Bar

I love the name of this – it will certainly appeal to younger vegans. It’s quite a chunky bar too – impressively so. It’s another one that offers a strong hit of sugar and an overpoweringly sweet taste. This means, again, that the creamy taste is lacking somewhat, but there is still a nice taste of chocolate hiding beneath the sweetness.

The Great Gary Review

Veganism is big business on social media.

Stories connected to vegans automatically get multiple shares and provoke debate on news posts, therefore, the Gary/Vegan Cheese debate shouldn’t really come as any surprise. It certainly hasn’t done Sainsbury’s any harm. You couldn’t buy this much advertising! Several national news outlets even picked up on the debate and it went viral quicker than many cat videos.

If you missed it, basically, Sainsbury’s has released a number of own-brand vegan cheeses – something which got the vegan community instantly excited – it doesn’t take much with us lot! Anyway, one less than vegan social media user became upset over the term “cheese” when it comes to dairy-free products and posted a long rant to this effect.  She ended with “call it Gary or something”. So vegans did. Instantly, and hilariously, the ranter’s joke backfired and sent the products’ new moniker viral. I’m sure non-vegan Garys are over the moon.

It all proves two things: Vegans do have a sense of humour and new vegan products sell themselves in the world of social media.

Personally, I don’t care what you call it. I see it as rather petty to get offended over what a product is named. In fact, Sainsbury’s haven’t actually labelled them “vegan cheese” on the packaging – instead they are presumptuously called “Deliciously Free-From…” then Cheddar Style etc.

 

Much of the publicity surrounding the release centred on the fact that the cheeses are coconut-based. The cheeses actually contain between 22 per cent and 24 per cent coconut oil and they are not soya-free. So if you don’t want soya, you’re better off with Violife or Vegusto. Personally, it doesn’t bother me and claims soya gives men boobs and the such-like are pretty nonsensical – it is certainly no quick fix for sex-change patients. Also, many meat products also contain soya and many animals bred for meat are fed on the stuff.

 

I decided to try the new products, including a cheese spread and new lasagne, so I could share my thoughts with you lovely people.

The lasagne was something I was very excited about, but it really isn’t as good as some of the home-made offerings I’ve tried. It is, however, vegetable and not soya mince-based. It also says it “serves one”, which in supermarket terms, means serves one with chips, a salad, garlic bread and pudding!

I avoided going down the lazy microwave route and cooked it properly. But it still stuck to the bottom. Once out of the plastic dish, It was still a little watery and doesn’t have any real spice kick. But there is a fair amount of tasty veg and the pasta tasted nice and creamy. I’d have it again – probably with lots of chips.

 

The Garlic and Herb Soft Cheese is a lovely breakfast treat on toast. It certainly doesn’t skimp on the garlic, it has a real kick and a nice, light texture. It’s delicious in fact. And, as with the cheeses themselves, there is no underlying coconut taste or, indeed, after-taste. Plus, it’s actually softer and more spreadable than many similar products on the market.

 

Now let’s look at the cheeses themselves. I’ll start with the

 

. This is a white cheese with a creamy taste and soft texture. It has a medium-strength hit and would work very well in a salad. I can’t actually remember what “real” cheese tastes like, so I have to judge the products on their own merits.

The Cheddar Style is probably the most traditional alternative, and I would say it has a cheesy taste given what I’ve said above. It’s the kind of vegan cheese I would have in a sandwich with pickles.

 

I approached the Wensleydale Style with Cranberries with some trepidation, as I, generally, don’t like sweet and savoury mixed. But I was pleasantly surprised. It’s certainly colourful – it looks like ice cream, but the sweet aftertaste isn’t unpleasant and it’s another creamy one. This is something that would work well on crackers.

 

Finally, comes the best – Cheddar Style with Caramelised Onion. This is the one that made angels dance around my mouth and spread glitter over my tongue! The powerful onion taste is to die for, making this one that would rule over the cracker kingdom.

 

At £2.25 each for a 200g pack, they are cheaper than many other vegan cheeses and they come in re-sealable packaging – which is always a bonus. All in all, they are certainly a hit with me.