Saturday, 23 April 2011

“Sir, the noblest prospect that a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to London” (Samuel Johnson)

Well I didn't see much of the road that led me to London being that a) it was dark and b) I was trying to sleep.

Bf and I went to London for a 2 day sightseeing trip- got the overnight coach from Tuesday to Wednesday and boy it was rough! My blow-up cushion had a hole in it, the seat didn't recline and the bus was packed- we were lucky to even get seats next to each other. Plus it was noisy and the vibrations of the bus made it even more uncomfortable! So we got to London tired, sore neck-ed but nevertheless in one piece.

Eating vegan in London is easy, and everything I ate was delicious! But I forgot to take any photos of the food. Nevertheless, here is my London food diary:


Breakfast: C likes to eat healthy so at 7.10am on arrival in London we headed to Starbucks for some porridge. We also shared a large vanilla soya latte (C says he doesn't drink coffee but when I get one he'll always have some of mine). The porridge can be made with soya milk and comes with dried fruit:

It was delicious :) Got changed and brushed teeth in the starbucks toilet (which was a big disabled one so at least there was space!) how dignified! But we couldn't check into the hotel until 3.

At 8am we went and got Oyster cards (the special William and Kate edition):

Then we went to the bus stop for the Original Bus Tour and bought tickets using clubcard vouchers given to me by my mum (it's normally £52 for 2 tickets so we wouldn't have been able to afford it otherwise!) It was about 10 degrees by this point (8.30am) sunny and getting warmer, so we sat up on the open top, plugged in our audio guides, sat back and relaxed. The bus tour was an excellent way to see the sights away from all the crowds, it was an easy way to get photos, it wasn't as hot and stuffy as the streets seemed to feel, and the audio guide was really interesting. I now know the origins of the word 'Taxi' and the phrases 'one for the road' and 'falling off the wagon' (the latter two having to do with public executions!). C loved it, it was his favourite part of the whole trip as he hates heat and crowds.

I had quite an ambitious itinerary and had hoped to get to Buckingham Palace by 11.15am to see the Changing of the Guards but the bus got stuck in traffic and at 11.20am we got off near the Houses of Parliament and went to the palace on foot. We didn't get there til 11.40 and the crowds were too big to see much of the ceremony, so we sat on the grass near St James's park and put on some sun cream as it was getting really hot by that point! Then we decided to walk to Covent Garden as I wanted to get lunch from a vegetarian cafe there.

Lunch: The cafe was called Food For Thought:

The menu is only about half vegan and changes every day, and it wasn't that cheap (£4.80 for a pot of food). I chose the brocolli and coconut curry, (C already had a sandwich he bought earlier) and we went and sat in the main square of Covent Garden to eat. The curry wasn't enough so I had a pack of Nairn's chocolate chip oat biscuits which I had brought with me.

After lunch we got on the Museum tour bus (the Original tour has three routes) and went to the Natural History museum. This was a bit of a mistake as there was a huge queue, when we got in it was packed, we were hot, exhausted, and carrying heavy rucksacks. We left after 20 minutes and went back to the hotel

Dinner: After a shower and nap, we headed out for dinner and to see Blood Brothers the musical at the Phoenix theatre. However, I took a bit longer getting ready and the tube took a bit longer getting there than we'd thought, so we didn't really get time to get dinner. We ended up in Pret a Manger and C had a sandwich. I went for a hummus salad with roasted butternut squash that was delicious! (There appears to be feta cheese in that photo... what I had was almost exactly the same but was marked vegan and had no feta).

Then we got some water and grape pots for the theatre. I also visited Holland and Barrett on the way to the theatre (the shops stay open so late!) and got a cherry and coconut flapjack and chocolate soya milk.

Blood brothers was excellent, I had never seen it before and was really impressed, and thankfully C enjoyed it too.


Breakfast- we had breakfast in the hotel. They had soya milk and vegan margarine so I had rice crispies, toast, marg and jam, orange juice and tea.

We spent all morning at the Tower of London, which was amazing, this castle/ fortress/ prison in the centre of London which is home to the Crown jewels, royal armoury, and was the place of both the marriage and the death of Anne Boleyn. C loved seeing Henry VIII's armour and I liked the crown jewels. We used clubcard vouchers for the tickets but you have to pay extra for the audio guides, I would say these are a must though! We spent three hours there but there was a lot we didn't see, you could easily spend a whole day.

Lunch: After the tower we went to Soho, as I wanted to get lunch from a vegetarian cafe in soho called Beatroot:

It's a mix and match salads and hot foods place, and all the cakes are vegan. I had shepherds pie, bean stew, roasted veg and sosage rolls with a coconut chocolate krispie cake. It was all AMAZING, the best food I had while in London, and better value I'd say than Food for Thought. We took it out and found a little park near Leicester Square to eat and relax for an hour.

After sourcing some neck pillows at Boots, we chilled out at Costa with a vanilla soya latte (me) and innocent smoothie (C) for a while. My original plan was to do more sightseeing, but I had learnt my lesson by packing too much in the previous day and not having time for dinner, as well as leaving us tired and grumpy, so we took a chill-out approach. We were running low on funds (transport in London is so expensive) so we went to Pizza Hut for dinner as we had a 2-for-1. Then we headed to Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue and watched Your Highness, which is a bit too in your face but still very funny. Our final London experience was a pint of cider and a game of monopoly on Chris's ipad (we weren't allowed to continue on the bus because I was winning!) then we got the coach back. The return journey was much better as it was quieter, the seats reclined, and the neck pillows were amazing.

It was a fantastic two days, but there is still so much in London that I want to see! There's still lots of veg/ vegan restaurants to try out next time too!

Famous Vegan of the Post:

Kerry McCarthy- Labour MP for Bristol East

Kerry campaigns for animal welfare and has commented on Twitter about the health risks of cows milk.

I will be second voting Green on the upcoming 5 May Scottish Parliament elections, but I haven't quite decided which party will get my first vote yet.

Vegan Quote of the Post:

I chose this quote after hearing in London that 200,000 people used to show up to watch public executions. Death of people may no longer be a sport, but for those campaigning for fox hunting, death of animals still is:

Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself.
—James A. Froude, English historian (1818–1894)

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Healthy Cakes

Is there such a thing as a healthy cake, I hear you ask? Well I am sure that there are really properly healthy, sugar free, fat free, gluten free, raw, low calorie cakes out there, but I'm afraid that that would take all the fun out of eating cake for me. So what I prefer is taking a normal, sweet, fatty, yummy cake and chucking something healthy in.

An example would be banana and walnut loaf- all the goodness of banana and walnut, wrapped up in all the yumminess of cake.

I made some chocolate brownies yesterday, and they had a secret ingredient... they were widely held to be delicious, and nobody realised that in fact they contained a whole courgette!

I found the mix a little dry so added a bit of water, and I didn't get as far as the icing as I had to start eating the brownies as soon as they were ready! It was a good way to jazz up some of the Freedom frozen vanilla desert which is not very exciting. Overall I am very happy with the results! (Often my cakes have 'issues', so I was glad that even though I tampered with the recipe these turned out fine). I'll post a pic when I get a chance to plug in my iphone, it's elsewhere just now charging.

Also a quick update regarding my Easter Egg post below, Divine dark choc eggs with brazils have been found with 50% off here:

Also Animal Aid have some Easter specials on their boxes of chocolate:

I had a couple of thoughts of 'features' I could add to my blog, one being 'vegan quote of the day' and the other being 'vegan celebrity of the day' (Ignoring the fact that I don't post anywhere near daily, but once a month would be too infrequent and sometimes I don't post every week, so it can be 'of the time period between this post and the next'). I'm not too sure I like the celebrity worship culture that exists in the UK/ USA, but nevertheless there are some talented, influential people who are vegan and that's worth celebrating, plus I like to post a little eye candy on my blog now and again... and I'm not talking about the cakes.

I thought an appropriate 'Vegan Celebrity of the Day' for the Easter period would be Casey Affleck, since I found this pic of him [eye candy alert]:

I have no idea why he has a bunny on his shoulder but there ya go!! Casey has been vegan for 12+ years, and his wife, Summer Phoenix is also vegan (the whole Phoenix family are/were). He talks about his veganism in the following video:

Vegan Quote of the Day (again appropriate for Easter!!)

You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I'll buy you a new car. ~Harvey Diamond

I have always wondered a bit about this quote but I assume he is meaning a 2 year old baby, with teeth.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Glasgow Special

A post on the best vegan options at Glasgow based (as opposed to chain) restaurants.

Firstly, places I've tried:

1. Mono
I've been going to Mono for ages, long before I was vegan. It's an all vegan bar/ restaurant/ gig venue with a music shop in the restaurant, located near the merchant city/ trongate, behind the St Enoch Centre. My mum thinks of it as a 'cool student hangout' although really that's just my mum for you! It does have a good atmosphere though and is usually pretty busy.

mono 1

It's a kind of greek/ bar food themed menu, with hummous and baba ganoush as mezze. The starters have changed since I was there, my dad would be chuffed to know there's scrambled tofu as he always tells me about the time he had it in New York and when I try and make it I can never get it quite right. What I have tried that's still on this new menu is the Black Bean chilli, which was good but very filling and the flavour wasn't quite what I was expecting, and the roasted vegetable pie which was a bit undercooked. I've tried he burger too (which is what my brother and boyfriend always get) and it was nice but I'm not really into veggie burgers. The chips and hummous and pita were yummy. The dark chocolate torte had a delicious creamy chocolat mousse topping but the base tasted a bit lemony, like a cheesecake base, and I hate lemon flavoured things so I didn't eat the base. I'd get the banana fritters next time. I'm actually getting the urge to go from just looking at it, I used to go with my family a lot but we haven't been in ages. I'm going for the banana fritters next time!

2. Stereo

This is another vegan bar/ restaurant/ cafe/ gig venue/ club (actually a fair bit of Glasgow's gig/ club scene is vegan run, considering (there's also the vegan club The Flying Duck)) and is one I only discovered more recently, and when I went to look for it I almost couldn't find it, as it's really hidden away down Renfield Lane near Central Station and I actually walked past it while looking for it the first time!

I have tried the VLT which was awesome, with a broccoli and walnut soup of the day as far as I recall, which was nice. I also had the risotto which was a bit flavourless. There are so many other things I'd like to try but I've only been there twice!

3. The Thirteenth Note

We've been frequenting this one almost as long as Mono, and again it's a bar/ restaurant/ gig venue (there are not really many family/ child friendly veg*n places in Glasgow which is a shame) and it's vegetarian but practically vegan and everything is marked out clearly on the menu (bit of a reverse as the Vs are the vegetarian things and the rest is vegan). Great gluten free marking too.

I have tried a lot of the main meals here as many of them have stayed on the menu for a while. My favourite which I've had a few times is the Haggis Neeps and Tatties which is always delicious. I love the creamy coconut and tomato curry too, although I do have to drink a lot of water as I find it very spicy. The risotto cakes were OK, the lasagne was yummy, and my brother always enjoys the burger, plus my whole family adore the spicy chips.

4. The 78

Owned by same people as Stereo/ Mono. Although we have had a bad experience here it is still a place dear to my heart as the first time I went there they were trialling their new menu and we got free food! Sadly though what has sometimes let down all three establishments (Stereo/ Mono/ the 78) is slow and not-very-polite service. When my dad got some money from his work to take us all out to eat, we chose the 78, and it took them over an hour to bring the main course plus my brother's food was burnt, and none of the waiters/ waitresses came over to apologise for the wait. I emailed them about it but after a couple of days waiting I stopped checking for the reply so it might have gone in my junk mail. My parents had a similar experience at Stereo when they went for their anniversary. Food wise though I've always had a good experience. The menu has changed since I was last there, and they don't have what I ate:

I can vouch for the chocolate cake though it was very rich.

5. The Left Bank

My boyfriend's favourite restaurant, ironically since he was so reluctant to try it out (I found it searching for vegan-friendly places). It's an omni establishment in the West End near Glasgow University Union, but with vegan items marked out on the menu, and nice decoration and atmosphere. The chairs and tables upstairs are a bit close together though and my parents went once and had a bad experience with this. When we went in January for my boyfriend's birthday though they put us in a nice wee secluded (actually private it was just our table) bit downstairs though and we had a fantastic evening.

I have been here many a time since I stumbled upon it about 8 months ago, searching for a nice restaurant where I could get something other than cheeseless pizza but where boyfriend wouldn't complain about the lack of red meat choice. The little black dot means vegan or vegan option available.

The sweet potato burger is nice but a bit too spicy for me. I usually go for a few smalls, and get the chickpea and potato chaat (delicious) the basmati rice (ok but I might not get it again) and a flat bread. I sometimes get the chips too, which are nice, although I wasn't a fan of the roast potatoes which were too oily and not crispy at all. The super salad is excellent, really yummy and healthy (although I usually get a side of chips with it!). The thali with cauliflower kofta was good too, but I prefer the chickpea chaat.

6. Tchai Ovna House of Tea

Another vegetarian cafe, just round the corner from the Left Bank. I've been twice.


It's more about the tea than the food, and I can't find an online menu but I remember baba ghanoush and dolmades and curry being on there.

7. The Lucky 7 Canteen

All food is £7 for dinner (£4 for lunch) and they have a separate vegan and vegetarian menu (although we're not fuss pots!)

I have had the stuffed peppers twice and they are very tasty although not filling enough so I tend to get chips too!

Vegan Friendly restaurants I haven't been to yet:

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Good things come in small packages

Ok, maybe not all good things ;) but mini eggs are certainly an example!

Tomorrow is my veganniversary! I will probably forget to post, but to be fair it's hard to even remember at this time of year. Today is Mother's Day, tomorrow I'm going for lunch with my Mr's parents as it's their 25th Wedding Anniversary, tomorrow is also my Gran's birthday and Tuesday is my Dad's birthday, and my aunt's! Busy few days.

I'm going to cook dinner for my family soon, but here's a quick mini egg roundup since Easter is getting ever closer, just a few weeks to go!

1. Vegan Creme Egg- £1.20 I'm informed that this is where animal aid got their creme eggs from last year, not sure if that's true or not but vegan creme eggs= awesome :)

2. Favorina Marzipan Mini Eggs- £1.37
The mini eggs are on the left and the larger egg (99p) is on the right. I've just bought and tried them and they are yummy- the marzipan is not as high quality as some I've tried, they are definitely very high sugar, but tasty and nice and if I got some of these for Easter I wouldn't turn my nose up! Available at Aldi and Lidl.

3. Dark Chocolate Mini Eggs from Poundland- £1
Item image
Also on Ebay

4. Divine Dark Mini Eggs- £4.25
These are nice, I got some for Christmas. Would be good for an Easter Egg hunt. Available at Oxfam as well as online:$ja=tsid:8751|prd:veganfamily

5. Montezuma's Dark Chocolate Eggs with Almond Praline- £4.85
Montezuma's Chocolate Egg Cube Almond Praline

These I have actually tried!! And they are delicious, I have the empty box on my desk :( Want to fill it up for me? Contained around 8 or 9 eggs I think.

6. Cocoa Loco Dark Chocolate Praline Egg Halves- £4.99
Dark Chocolate Praline Egg.

7. Dietary Needs Direct Mini Eggs- £5.19

8. Cocoa Loco Easter Egg Carton- £5.50
Cocoa Loco Mini Organic Easter Eggs Carton

9. D & D 20 hollow mini eggs (20g each)- £7.88
Hollow 20g Eggs x 10
They also have 12 eggs for £6.79 in a box and various other combos.

10. Rawr Organic Solid Chocolate Easter Eggs- £8.95
Rawr Organic Raw Chocolate Solid Easter Eggs
You get 4 eggs- After Dinner mint, orange Zest, dark Purity, and Intensity- and at 70g each with the added health benefit of them being raw, plus they look amazing, if I still had a job I'd buy them!

More generally I also found this site:

There used to be vegan 'mini eggs' like the cadburys ones from Whizzers but nowhere seems to have them in stock any more... if anyone has seen them recently please let me know!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting wabbits

Nah, don't worry... chocolate wabbits!

1. Cocoa Loco Rabbit Lolly- £1.20

Cocoa Loco Rabbit Lolly

2. Humdinger Easter Bunny- £2.99

Has been seen in Sainsburys, but may well be in other supermarkets (probably at the 'free from' section too.) Also online at various places including:

3. Lindt Dark Chocolate Bunny- £2.99

Gold Bunny Dark 100g by Lindt Chocolate Image 1
Rather elusive, this fellow, but has been seen in Tesco (2 for £7) available in lots of places online such as:

4. Montezumas Dark Mini Bunnies- £4.50 (or 3 for £12)

Montezuma's Cheeky Easter Bunny

5. The Chocolate Wendy House sitting/ standing rabbits- £4.95

6. Gift Bag of 5 Dairy Free Bunnies- £4.95

Dairy-free Bunnies (Gift bag of 5 dark chocolate rabbits)
Delivery is expensive (£3.95) as it's a Finnish company, but it's too complicated for me to include delivery in every price!

7. Plastic Bunny filled with Moo Free Choc Drops- £4.99

Is this cheating? I don't care. It looks like a bunny and it tastes like chocolate so it's good enough for me.

8. Viva! Organic 'Milk' chocolate almond butter rabbit- £4.99

9. D&D hollow dark chocolate bunny- £5.24

Hollow Chocolate Bunny 100g

10. Cocoa Loco Rabbit filled with Dark Chocolate Buttons- £5.99

A Rabbit Filled with Jumbo Buttons.

11. Chocolate Tree Dark Chocolate Bunny- £6


Says dairy free but you may want to enquire as to full ingredients- soooo cute though!

12. Dammenberg Dairy Free Easter Bunny- £8.95

Dairy-free Easter Bunny (Nut-free, Milk-free, Lactose-free, Gluten-free, Egg-free, Vegan)