It’s been just over a year now since Vegan Life launched here in the UK and, for me, this magazine just gets better and better. I love the variety of features it covers. This month, I especially enjoyed the interviews with Born Free president Bill Travers OBE, who explained the reasons why he has recently gone vegan,
During our Spring vacation to Andalucia, we were planning a day trip to Malaga. I was even more excited than usual about this trip as I’d recently discovered that El Piano had a cafe there. After a glorious morning of sight-seeing, I couldn’t wait for lunch!
El Piano is a small tapas caféand take-away located on Calle San Juan de Letran. Despite being tucked away down a side street, we had no trouble finding it. There are a couple of small tables inside the café and a couple more outside. Fortunately, we were early enough to grab a table right next to the food counter.
Each month, I eagerly anticipate the delivery of The Vegan Kind subscription box. I love the diversity of products included in the boxes. There’s usually a sweet treat (this month we were spoilt with two high quality chocolate treats), a savoury snack, as well as a fab new vegan beauty, toiletry or cleaning product.
In addition to these goodies, I always get very excited when I see ingredients in a box. My brain immediately starts whizzing with new recipe ideas and I can’t wait to get in the kitchen and start creating.
This month we received a package of Coconom ginger coconut sugar. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how much I love coconut sugar and though I use it all the time, I’d never tried this particular sugar before. It’s infused with real ginger and tastes amazing! My family are huge ginger fans so this product was spot on for us.
As soon as I spied the sugar, a recipe sprung to mind that I knew it would be perfect for – Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I often make these cookies as they’re a family favourite, but this week I decided to add an extra dimension of flavour by adding in some orange zest. Not only did they taste delicious, but they smelt wonderful too. As they baked, the kitchen was filled with the most beautiful orange aroma.
These cookies got a big thumbs up from the family and my Tuesday night study class. I’ve already baked four batches this week and I’ve still got plenty of ginger coconut sugar left for more recipe experimenting. Next up, I’ve got my eye on The Vegan Cookie Fairy’s Banana Ginger Butterscotch Muffin recipe (featured on the TVK recipe card). They sound really yummy!
Makes 9-10 cookies
Hands on time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 12 minutes
Ready in: 35 minutes
45ml / 3 TBSP soya (or almond) milk
35ml / 3 TBSP organic rapeseed (canola) oil (or other neutral-flavoured oil)
40g / ¼ cup coconut sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ TBSP zest from an organic/unwaxed orange
47g / 1/3 cup fine wholemeal (wholewheat) or chapatti flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
70g / ¾ cup rolled oats
45g / ¼ cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) / 350F. Line a large baking sheet with non stick baking paper.
Using a strong fork, whisk together the milk, oil and sugar until fully combined. Whisk in the vanilla extract and orange zest, then set to one side.
Place the flour, spices, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined. Sift the flour into the wet ingredient bowl. Stir in the oats, and lastly the raisins.
Scoop slightly rounded tablespoons of dough and spread them out on the prepared baking sheet. Press the dough balls into cookie shape (these cookies don’t spread much). Bake for 12 minutes, or until lightly golden in colour. Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes (they firm up as they cool) then transfer to a wire rack.
These cookies will keep for about a week stored in an airtight container. They also freeze really well. I often make a double batch and freeze half for lunchboxes and after school snacks.
So far, I’ve had one attempt at a gluten-free version of this cookie. I subbed the wheat flour with oat flour and added 1/2 TBSP ground flaxseed to the wet ingredients. Sadly I found them a bit too dry and ‘claggy’, so I’ll need to try a different GF flour. Lil’ L and M didn’t mind them so much though. They scoffed the lot.
Did you get this month’s TVK box? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. What was your favourite product? Impossible for me to choose a favourite this month as I loved it all!
These past couple of weeks I’ve been savouring my copy of Vegan Life Issue 4. Usually I get through magazines in a flash, but there’s so much to read in this one.
As usual, the magazine gave me plenty to think about and invoked so many emotions… sadness and despair while reading about the plight of Moon bears and Angora rabbits in China…
… to hope and optimism when reading about the plethora of vegan businesses popping up all over the globe.
The feature on vegan cosmetics was timely as my make-up bag is in desperate need of an overhaul. Most of its contents are years old (probably older than Lil’ L!) and from The Body Shop (which I mistakenly thought was natural / cruelty free). It was fantastic to hear there are so many vegan cosmetic brands available these days.
It was also useful to learn about the animal-derived ingredients to watch out for including beeswax and honey; lanolin (wool grease); squalene (shark liver oil); carmine (crushed beetles); tallow (animal fat); collagen (placenta-derived); allantoin (cow urine); and elastin (animal connective tissue).
This morning I did a little online research into vegan cosmetic brands and I was amazed at how many there are available here in the UK. I came across an online shop called Honesty Cosmetics which sells 100% vegan products. They stock Beauty without Cruelty, Lavera Trend Sensitiv and Benecos Natural Beauty (the vegan range). Their products really appeal to me as they’re natural and organic as well as vegan. I’m really looking forward to refreshing my make-up bag. It’s long overdue!
On the food front, I was so happy to see El Piano featured in this month’s issue. A vegan Spanish restaurant? Now that’s something I never dreamed I’d see in my lifetime! I’m heading to Spain soon, and my Spanish friends told me that it could be difficult to find vegan options there. From what I’ve heard, Spain sounds a bit like my experience of France, where pigs (ham/chorizo) seem to end up in most dishes, even the vegetable ones :/
So you can imagine how delighted I was to discover that El Piano has branches in Malaga and Granada… two places that I’ll be visiting during my travels. It’s going to be so refreshing to be able to head into a Spanish restaurant and know that I can eat anything on the menu. Happy Days 😀
This issue of Vegan Life is jam-packed with tasty recipes too. We’ve already tried Tara Stiles’ Portobello mushroom burger from the Make Your Own Rules Diet book (featured on the front cover). It was super easy to make, so perfect for a Saturday night movie dinner. My brain is already whizzing with ideas of variations on the Portobello Burger theme.
I’ve also tried Jane Easton’s Indian-Style Padma Pancakes (from the Viva! cookbook). Most weeks I make a big batch of curry and we serve it with rice one night, then the leftovers are stuffed into pitta breads for lunchboxes or flatbreads/pancakes for another evening dinner. I often make chickpea pancakes as they’re rich in protein and iron, but I usually flavour mine with paprika/chilli/oregano, rather than Indian spices. I was intrigued to find out how they would taste.
Chickpea pancakes can sometimes be quite dry or heavy, but these came out just perfect. They were light, yet sturdy enough to flip and roll. The recipe suggested flavouring them with turmeric and ground fenugreek or asafoetida powder. I found a bottle of asafoetida powder at the back of my pantry which I’d not even opened. I thought this would be a good time to dust it off and give it a try.
Oh my word, I don’t think I’ve ever been so repelled by a flavour. Seriously, I nearly barfed! It’s hard to describe the flavour but, to me, it tasted like an intense ‘eggy’ flavour, maybe ‘eggs gone bad’. Argh even now I’m shuddering at the thought of it. Maybe I had a bad batch?
Second time round, I used ground cumin, a little turmeric, fresh red chilli pepper and fresh coriander (cilantro). This flavour combo worked much better for me. For the filling, I used our Sweet Potato, Red Lentil and Coconut Curry leftovers. This was my lunch today and it was so good! I’ll definitely be making it again.
As you can tell, this latest Issue of Vegan Life has given me plenty of food for thought AND for my belly hehe 😉
Did you manage to get hold of a copy yourself? If so, have you tried any of the recipes yet?
If you use vegan cosmetics, I’d love to hear your recommendations. Do you know of any UK high street shops that sell vegan cosmetics we can try before we buy?
Vegan Life is UK-based magazine, available worldwide both in hard copy and digital formats. Check out this link to find out more.
It’s so much fun getting surprise gifts, and the fact that this box is filled with vegan, planet-friendly, cruelty-free products, means it couldn’t be more perfect for me.
TVK has introduced so many amazing brands to me these past 12 months. Snacking moved onto a whole new level of deliciousness, thanks to Landgarten’s dark-chocolate covered raspberries, seeds and nuts, Propercorn’s Sweet and Salty Popcorn and Hoots Pickled Onion snacks.
And how about that almighty Vego Hazelnut Bar in TVK9 and Ombar Coco Mylk Raw Chocolate Bar in TVK11? Pure yumminess ♥
The boxes have introduced some new treats for Lil’ L too. He’s especially loved the Rebel Kitchen Choco Mylks, Landgarten goodies, Vego bars, Hoots snacks, Propercorn, Ten Acre crisps, Choc Shot and Freedom Mallows. Thanks to TVK and Freedom Mallows, last Christmas he enjoyed his first marshmallow topped hot chocolate 🙂
As well as the snacks, I’ve loved experimenting with the ingredients and spice mixes. The Coconom Coconut Sugar in TVK6 and Mr Organic Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto in TVK8 were particular favourites of mine. The recipe cards have been awesome too. I love how they’re printed on quality, wipe clean card and come with a handy storage binder. I was more than delighted to share one of my family’s all-time favourite vegan pizza recipes in TVK8.
Through TVK, we’ve also got to try products that aren’t yet readily available in the UK. I’d heard a lot about CocoBacon in ‘foodie world’, so I was beyond excitement to find it in TVK9. I especially loved it sprinkled on BLT style salads. I was so gutted when I came to the end of the packet. Not everyone enjoyed the Cocobacon as much as I did though. It definitely seemed to have the ‘Marmite effect’ on TVK readers 😉
The TVK boxes are not all about food though. They also include toiletries, beauty, personal care and household products. In TVK2 we received a full-size bottle of Greenfrog All Purpose Natural Cleaner. Its neroli scent is so lush that I actually look forward to cleaning my kitchen and bathroom now.
One of the biggest ways TVK has impacted my life is on the home laundry front! I’d tried and failed with so many ‘eco friendly’ laundry detergents and ‘solutions’ in the past, that I wasn’t holding out much hope for the soap nuts that arrived in TVK1. I was really surprised and happy with the results though. Not only do they clean our clothes, but they seem to soften them too. For the best part of a year now, detergent and softener has been ditched in favour of soapnuts and a few drops of lavender oil 🙂
It’s been a real privilege to share in TVK’s first year. And what an incredible journey it’s been! From starting in their kitchen, sending out a couple of hundred boxes in the UK, they moved to warehouse premises where they now mail out thousands of boxes worldwide! Did anyone see the video footage on Instagram of the boxes stacked floor to ceiling? Honestly, my jaw dropped!
Whether you’re already vegan, just starting out, or simply curious to find out more, the TVK community is a great place to connect with like-minded folk. You’ll find them on Facebook, Twitter,Instagram and Pinterest.
As part of its month of celebrations, TVK has kindly offered to send an anniversary box to one of my lovely readers. It’s an international giveaway, so everyone can join in ♥ To be in with a chance of winning, simply leave me a comment under this blog post answering the question featured in the Rafflecopter below. Do make sure you tick the box in the Rafflecopter to register that you have done so. There are a number of additional ways you can enter in order to increase your chances of winning. You will find these listed in the Rafflecopter. All entries will be verified prior to the winner being selected. This giveaway is open to residents aged 18 and over.The closing date is Thursday 13th November 2014 at midnight GMT. The winner will be selected at random and notified by email. The winner will have 7 days to respond. If they fail to do so, another winner will be selected at random. New to Rafflecopter? It’s pretty easy! Simply click on ‘Use Your Email’ and enter a name and your email address (rest assured it won’t be published anywhere). You can also log in using your Facebook account, if you wish. A quick demo of how to use Rafflecopter can be accessed here. * If you experience any technical problems when trying to enter the Rafflecopter, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll submit your entry for you * a Rafflecopter giveaway
And if you’re already a TVK subscriber, you could always be super generous and pass on the prize. It would make a fab Christmas present for a veggie friend ♥
Of all my kitchen gadgets, hands down it is the blender that gets most use. At least once a day I use it for blending smoothies or soups, as well as for grinding oats, nuts, seeds, making ice cream, chia puddings and much more besides.
Until now, I’ve always used mid-range blenders but, since the beginning of this year, I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with them. I don’t know if it’s just bad luck, but I’m finding that after about a year of use (usually just as the warranty expires), either the motor burns out or the jug starts leaking. I need a blender that’s powerful, reliable and going to last a good few years. After all, it’s not great for the environment (or my bank balance) if I’m having to buy a new blender every year.
When the jug on my latest blender started leaking a couple of months ago, I seriously started to wonder whether it would be worth taking the leap and investing in a high-end professional blender. I started to look around at options and was excited to discover that the Australian company Froothie had just launched in the UK.
I’d heard great things about Froothie, and their Optimum 9400 blender has been pitched as the number one rival to Vitamix. While it has a similar spec to the Vitamix 500 series (even slightly better!), with a price tag of £399, it’s over £200 cheaper. Though double or triple what I’ve spent on blenders in the past, if the Froothie lasts even a few years, then it would actually be saving me money in the long run.
As well as looking for reliability and longevity, I also had a few niggles regarding the performance of my mid-range blenders which would hopefully be resolved with a professional high-end blender.
I was recently in touch with the Managing Director of Froothie UK & Ireland and he kindly arranged for an Optimum 9400 to be sent to me so I could check it out for myself. For the past month, I’ve been using the Froothie and comparing it with my existing blender. It’s now really obvious to me what you get for the additional investment. Here’s a lowdown on the main differences I’ve found…
Power My mid-range blender is described as having “an incredibly powerful 1,200W motor”. With a 2,238W motor, the Froothie has almost double the power. In fact, it is so powerful, that it can blend stones! You can imagine how Lil’ L’s eyes lit up when I told him this. He was dying to try it out but since I didn’t fancy filling my Froothie with stones, he had to be satisfied with watching the video demo instead.
“The Optimum 9400 has an extraordinary 3 Horse Power motor able to easily withstand the toughest ingredients and outlast most other domestic blenders”
Noise With my mid-range blenders, I’ve found that more power = more noise. My existing blender is so noisy that it makes my ears ring. The Froothie is noticeably much quieter.
The Blade All my mid-range blenders have had a four prong blade which, in my experience, hasn’t been wide enough. Food gets stuck around the sides of the jug and I have to keep stopping to scrape down. The blades also tend to sit too high from the base of the jug, which means that unblended food gets stuck under the blade. Compare this to the Froothie blades which are so wide that they almost touch the sides.
The Froothie also has two extra blades positioned underneath the four blades, which means that nothing escapes the blend. Never again will I finish the pouring of my smoothies with a ‘plop’ as rogue pieces of banana land in the glass.
Speed I’m not sure of the speed of my existing blender, but I know it’s not fast enough to blend cashews into a smooth cream. I can never get beyond a ‘gritty’ texture, which isn’t nice for frosting or ‘cheesecakes’. The Froothie has a speed of 44,000 RPM, which is even faster than the Vitamix. There’ll be no gritty creams in this kitchen from now on.
The Jug Mid-range blenders tend to come with a plastic (BPA) or glass jug. Since I’m not a fan of BPA plastic, I chose glass jugs for my last two blenders. The trouble is, they’re extremely heavy (2kg). When full, I have to use two hands to lift them and it’s tricky to pour. The Froothie comes with a BPA free plastic jug which, at 1kg, feels positively light compared to my glass one.
Tamper Tool My mid-range blenders have never come with a tamper tool, which means that I can’t add large amounts of light ingredients like spinach, nor can I fill them with frozen ingredients, as the blade just whizzes round and never touches them. I’ve used the Froothie tamper tool so much this past month that I can’t imagine going back to a blender without one. In the Froothie, soft whip ice cream and frosted smoothies are blended in a flash.
Heating and Freezing Incredibly, the Froothie has the ability to heat soups and freeze ice cream. My mid-range blender doesn’t have these magical powers.
Reliability As I mentioned at the top of this post, I’ve wasted a lot of money on blenders that have lasted little over 12 months. My latest blender lasted even less time. It started leaking from the base of the jug within 10 months. It was still under warranty so I got the jug replaced. I’ve only been using it for a few months, and the new jug has already started leaking. Though I’ve only used the Froothie for a month, I have confidence that it’s going to last years. It’s a commercial grade blender that’s used by juice bars and cafes to churn out hundreds of smoothies each day. Though I’m classed as a ‘heavy domestic user’, I’m sure it’s going to cope with my 1-2 times daily usage.
“While ordinary blenders have a fan motor that runs at maximum power at all times, leading to rapid motor burn out, the Optimum 9400 uses a proprietary carbon brush motor optimised to only use the power demanded – so you get a motor life of decades rather than months.”
Here are a few of the extras that have given me further reassurance…
One Month Trial – Froothie offers a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee (including postage). No questions asked.
5 Year Warranty – This comes as standard but can be extended to ten years (for a fee), or an additional two years for free (see end of post for details).
Support – An expert team is available by phone, Monday to Saturday, 9am – 7pm, with plans to extend the opening hours to 7 days a week, 6am-5pm.
I am so impressed with the Froothie – the design, the quality of the build, the power, the speed, the customer service. When they invited me to become one of their Ambassadors, I was happy to jump on board. I’m very careful about the companies I promote on my blog (hence why there are so few adverts) but I’m proud to display my association with Froothie.
Bit of the Good Stuff Reader Offer
As a Froothie Ambassador, I’ve been able to negotiate a couple of great offers for my readers. If you purchase a 9400 blender via a link on my blog, you can receive an additional 2 years warranty. That means a total of 7 years warranty! To qualify for this offer, at the time of purchase you need to mention in the comments section that you’ve been offered an extended 2 year warranty via the Bit of the Good Stuff Ambassador (Code 1946).
As a Froothie Ambassador, I’m delighted to pass on a special discount code for you… enter code AMB20 at checkout to receive £20 off 💫 This offer applies to any blender, juicers, vibration plate and pressure cooker on the Froothie website.
In return for introducing my readers to Froothie, I will receive a commission which I’ll re-invest back into Bit of the Good Stuff. Many thanks in advance for your support.
If you’d like to find out more about the Froothie Optimum 9400, and watch it in action, check out the video below. They even show a fork lift truck driving over the jug and it still doesn’t crack!
More Bit of the Good Stuff Blender Reviews and Offers….