Category: Food & Drink

Handmade Burger – Vegan Burgers

I realize posting this so soon after the post about the Gardener’s Arms might make me look like a burger addict, but I don’t care. I love burgers. Being a vegetarian and loving burgers was tricky to start with, but it became easier in recent years. You might think that being vegan and a burger lover might be difficult, but it’s not as difficult as I thought it might be. And I’m making it my personal mission to try as many different vegan burgers as I can!

Over the Christmas holidays, Phil and I dropped Poppy at her grandparents and headed to Reading for a dog-free day. After a pit stop at the cinema to watch the final Hunger Games (why did they ruin it by splitting the final book into two films? WHY?!), we headed to Handmade Burger Co., at The Oracle. I can’t remember how I discovered they did vegan burgers (yes, burgers plural!), but I knew I wanted to try them to see how they compared to the Gardener’s Arms and my own VBites burgers that I have at home. Having studied their menu and their allergens menu at home, I knew that I had choices to make, which can be unusual in a mainstream restaurant. All their vegan items are labelled, which is mega in itself. Four out of their seven veggie burgers are vegan. Four. All the chips are vegan and most of the dips. Epic!

Handmade Burger vegan burger Handmade burger vegetable skewersPhil and I both opted for the cajun vegetable and bean burger. Phil added mozzarella to his and I added jalapeños to mine. We ordered a portion of the veggie skewers to try and a portion of fries each, though I had plain fries and Phil had cajun fries. The burger was epic. And I mean epic. It was filling and tasty, though they put too many jalapeños in it for my liking. I like my heat, but I need to be able to pick my burger up without the filling falling out. The veggie skewers were good too, though we didn’t really need them and couldn’t finish them. Next time we go, we won’t bother and we’ll share the fries. Getting a portion each was too much for both of us. They are thick cut chips and were really filling. I still think the Gardener’s Arms burger was better, though this was pretty good.

I was also impressed with the staff. I asked the waiter if the BBQ sauce was vegan, as I couldn’t remember and he said he didn’t think it was but he checked on the allergens menu and let me know it was. Also, the waitress initially brought over veggie skewers with halloumi in, but she corrected it straight away, before we’d noticed and, more importantly, before we’d started eating it! I would recommend if you’re in the area, if for no other reason than to have a choice of burgers!

My 2016 Goals

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions, mainly because they rarely last beyond a week! Also, within teaching, I often feel like there are so many new starts and am often trying to think about ways to improve myself, what I do etc. But there are a few things that I want to be better at by the end of 2016. Here they are:

2016 GOALS1. Sort out my finances. Ugh, every year I think ‘I’m gonna save more and waste less.’ Well, enough is enough. This needs to happen. I want need a new bathroom and more holidays in Cornwall. This is only going to happen if I save more regularly and waste less money. I need to organise a budget for birthday and Christmas presents and decide which charities to donate to, instead of the ‘donate to all’ frenzy that happened this Christmas. I also want to ensure I use a bank and banking products that are ethical and do good, rather than the harmful history some of the banks continue to deal with. I also want to get back to a point that my credit card is paid off in full every month and I can go into the bank without worrying that they’ll lock the doors with me in there!

2. Organise regular fitness. I honestly thought walking Poppy would be enough, and it was, in the summer, when we walked a lot. But as school got busy and the nights got darker, I haven’t been walking Poppy as much as I would like and lots of our favourite weekend walks are, well, muddy and unpleasant. I’m not going to join a gym, as I hate them, and running is pretty much out, thanks to my knees, so I’ve got to organise something that will help to keep me fit and strong. I’m thinking pilates, but want something online or a DVD as I know I will not keep up going to classes. I never do!

3. Expand my cooking repertoire. Since becoming vegan, my diet has definitely improved, though all too often, I find myself sinking back to lazy, convenient ways. While I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy cooking, I want to eat well. In order to do this, I need to cook more, become confident with different vegetables, different herbs and spices and gain in confidence so that I’m not reaching for the take away menu too often.

That’s it. I’m stopping at three. Any more than that and it’ll probably be too much! I have everything crossed that I’m successful with these!

 

My first Vegan Christmas

One of the reasons I loved Christmas in the past was the food. The variation, the amount and the excuse to eat whatever you wanted, whatever the time. As I’ve got older, I’ve wanted to stuff my face less, as I only spend the next few months trying to work it off! As we were spending Christmas here, just the two of us, we knew we didn’t want to spend loads of extra money on crap food that we would only regret later. Therefore, we wanted our first ever vegan Christmas dinner to be amazing. Here’s what we ate:

Breakfast: Pancakes with Tofurkey bacon, fruit & maple syrup. *drools*

Vegan PancakesNow, you know about my pancake addiction so when Phil saw Kirsten Henry tweet this recipe  for 5 minute vegan pancakes, we knew what we would be having Christmas morning. We got up near enough usual time, went out for a lovely long dog walk with Poppy, then came home to get our pancake on. The recipe is very easy, as was the Tofurkey bacon. We devoured them in minutes! Delicious!

Christmas Dinner: Roast potatoes, parsnips, carrots and shallots with sprouts, homemade stuffing and Tofurkey roast.

Vegan Christmas dinnerI’d seen people tweeting about the Tofurkey roast for a while and we weren’t sure if we should have it, go with something else we’d tried before, or just go big on the veggies. When we saw it for sale in Simply V in Cardiff, we knew we had to get it. We decided not to try it before hand and just wing it. If it wasn’t good, we had plenty of veggies to eat. Well, we didn’t need them! We both really liked the Tofurkey roast. It had a good texture and flavour and I loved the stuffing in the middle. Now, it’s not like turkey. It’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be a substitute and it’s a pretty decent one in my opinion. So much so that I’ve bought another one, for the freezer, from my local Holland and Barrett. On sale too! As there were only two of us, we had plenty of leftovers, which I put to good use!

Boxing Day: Tofurkey Sandwich

Tofurkey sandwichI had this Boxing Day evening after having an epic lunch at Phil’s parents house. Thick cut bread, Pure Sunflower spread, a generous helping of cranberry sauce, thick slices of Tofurkey and layer of stuffing. All washed down with a brew and a portion of hummus crisps. It was epic!

Christmas leftovers (day 2): Tofurkey salad

Vegan Christmas leftoversI hate food waste so was keen to eat up anything I could before it could go off. Hello epic veggie salad. I had the final few slices of Tofurkey, left over roasted veg and stuffing and as much salad as I could fit on my plate. Lush.

Christmas treats: Homemade mince pies and stuffing

Vegan mince piesAs we were having Christmas at home, Phil wanted to make our own mince pies. I can see why, as they as much tastier than shop bought. These were really easy to make too. We bought some Jus Roll shortcrust pastry (Don’t judge! Delia Smith uses it!) and Waitrose own mincemeat. The stuffing is a really easy recipe that I got from my mum, consisting of breadcrumbs, sage, onion and egg. I replace the egg with yoghurt and it did an okay job. I think I should have used more though, as it was a bit crumbly. Still good though!

Christmas Treats: Vegan snacks and hamper

Vegan Christmas presentsIf you’re ever wondering what to buy a vegan for Christmas, food is always a winner in my opinion! This is a collection of all the food I got for Christmas. I have Nakd bars at school every day at break, so they are always welcome. I also like to keep a treat box for when I can’t get any vegan cakes or snacks out and about. Phil got me a vegan hamper from Archie Browns, which is pretty much the stuff on the right hand side. If you’re having a go at Veganuary, then it might be worth as it’s got bits and pieces that will come in handy.

So there you have it. I think we did pretty well for our first vegan Christmas. I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything at all and think I ate less as a result, meaning I don’t have to feel quite as guilty as I usually do, post-Christmas. Think I even deserve an extra Round Up!

Go #vegan for January with Veganuary

Back in September, I decided that, after twelve years of living a vegetarian lifestyle, that it was time to become vegan. I could no longer deny the cruelty that exists within the egg and dairy industry, nor the damage that the animal industry does to the environment. Plus, my diet needed a kick up the backside! I could not imagine how becoming vegan would make me feel or how easy it would be. Since making the change, we cook from scratch pretty much every night. As vegan chocolate isn’t available everywhere, I’ve had to stock up and ration my treats (hello incidental weight loss!) and my love for vegetables has increased like I never thought possible. While it has been quite a learning experience (learning to scan labels like my life depends on it!), discovering that supermarkets feel the need to put milk in nearly everything (WHY?!) and the different e numbers that hide animal products, it has been an incredibly valuable experience. I have never felt better!

Cowspiracy
Image via @cowspiracy

 

But feeling better is only part of it. Animal cruelty and the environment are the driving force behind my veganism. You can read about them here if you’d like. If you’re interested in trying our veganism, why not take the Veganuary pledge? Being vegan isn’t always easy and it can be frustrating, but it’s certainly going to be one of the best things you do. If you try it for a month and think it’s not for you, then there you go, but it might just make you think about the different things you consume, maybe make you cut down on your animal products or think twice about your purchases. Who knows, you might even decide to stay vegan!

veganuary
Image via @weareveganuary

Still thinking about it? Take a look at this little clip from Cowspiracy. It stops me in my tracks every time I watch it. If you want to know more, you can find Cowspiracy on Netflix. It’s well worth a watch. It explains the environmental damage animal agriculture is doing to our planet.  It’s probably the scariest film I’ve ever seen and made me realize I’d made the right choice in going vegan.