Simmons lemon and sultana cake

Simmons is a small chain baking company in my local area, however with no actual store easy walking distance to me I have not actually been able to see their whole selection. They do have an online store, but as with most things they tend to have slightly different things on offer ins tore as well as what is on their website. I was very excited when someone at work actually brought in some of their cakes the other day, as I have heard that they are really good.

They were very right! The cakes are not overly big – more like a loaf cake than an actual round cake – but it was clearly labelled as being vegan friendly. Which is always a plus and I am always surprised that more stores are not as obvious with their vegan products.

The cake was very moist and went perfect with a cup of tea. It had that wonderful lemon zing and the sultanas were a lovely change of texture and an extra burst of sweetness. It also seemed to have a lemon drizzle over the top of it which gave the cake a little bit more sweetness to it, rather than just loads more zing.

I only had one slice, and to b honest that was more than enough to satisfy my cake cravings. Anymore than one slice and I probably would have either turned into a lemon myself or gone into a cake coma.

Overall: 7/10. Will have to try the other options before I can give definitive rankings!

T xxx

Plant Pioneers no sausage rolls

Another week, another sausage roll. Don’t get me wrong I am all for this wide range of options, but could we possible get a few different options now? Would a pasty hurt anyone?

I finally made the trek down to our local Sainsbury’s and I must admit that their vegan range, Plant Pioneers, looked pretty good. They had mine, chicken pieces, sausage rolls, burgers and sausages as well as decent range of ready meal options. If I was a smarter woman I would of taken a bigger bag with me!

I thought the sausage rolls would be the safest option, as I have plenty of reference to compare them to.

I was a little disappointed.

Personally, I found the actual sausage bit to be the same as every other. It was good, but nothing that different to what you can get anywhere else. But the actual pastry bit was SO DRY. I cooked it for the 25 minutes that was recommended, and that felt like a bit of overkill. The pastry did crumble but it also sucked all water from my body in the first bite so…the rest was a struggle.

I think I only managed to finish about 1/3 of it before dehydration began to settle in.

Granted, there are so many options out there now it can be hard to really do anything special with a sausage roll. But this was quite a disappointing addition to the mix. I would like to try the other Plant Pioneer range though to see if this was just a dud.

Overall: 1/10. May as well just lick sand…

T xxx

Alpro mango yogurt

It is currently 27 degrees in England, which is always a shock for us Brits. I also stand by the fact that British heat is not the same as any other type of heat. In the US and the Mediterranean, you at least have a cooling breeze on you (at least form my experience). Not in England. It is just heat….constant, unwavering heat. As someone who is always cold, this is actually a very welcome change, but for most of the people I know this heat is just too bizarre for us to cope with.

Another upside to the heat is that it means I can have cold breakfasts again that isn’t cereal. in winter, I live off of warm breakfasts, but when it is so hot outside you do not want porridge. I am also trying to be a bit healthier in my meals so am looking out for some fun ways to spice up rather dull options.

I am someone who could live off of fruit forever. I would never go so far as to be fully raw, but I would very happily gorge myself on fruit if given half the chance. But in an attempt to spice up my fruit salad in the mornings, I gave Alpro yogurt a try.

I love mangoes, but I always find that when a product says it is ‘fruit flavoured’, it usually means it is barely flavoured like the thing it says it should be flavoured as. This tub was mango flavoured, but I didn’t really get that much mango. It was sweeter than the plain yogurt, but if I had blindly tasted it I would never have guessed mango. It did have tiny little chunks of mango in it, but these were so mushy it tasted just like the yogurt anyway.

It’s also a bit of a weird colour. It is sort of yellow. Kind of beige. Either way it is not the most appealing of colours. My picture doesn’t really show it too well but it is almost a dirty mustard colour. So if you are someone who eats with your eyes just be aware that this colour is not the most appealing. It also gave everything a slightly bitter taste: The fruit was super sweet, while the yogurt was a bit tangy. Which meant it all sort of levelled out to being quite bland.

Overall: 4/10. Probably best to stick with your plain yogurt really…

T xxx

M&S Strawberry Cheesecake

Summertime calls for summer treats! Yet again M&S coming through with their range of treats and their summer snacks.

I was always a cheesecake fan, even if the cheesecake never loved me back. When I went vegan it was practically impossible to find a decent replacement. I am not sure if it’s because vegan dairy can be so hard to whip properly? Either way the only ones I had ended up being very stodgy and heavy, not the light and airy melt-in-your-mouth versions that I was such a fan of.

M&S however have made a very good attempt. The one thing that got me though, is how it is always strawberry! The options available tend to always be strawberry. Don’t get me wrong, I love strawberries, but if you can make strawberry cheesecake surely you can make other flavours too right? OR is strawberry just the safest option as it’s guaranteed to sell?

This cheesecake was good but nothing too special. It was definitely creamy and soft, which is just what you want from a cheesecake, but it didn’t really taste of much. You got a real kick of strawberry on first bite, but it disappeared really quickly and you were left with just a bit of a…milky? creamy? That kind of taste. It was also quite dry, in the sense that it needed a cup of tea to go with it. You know when you put peanut butter on the roof of a dog’s mouth and they sit there trying to get it off, and it can be quite cute and funny to watch? That was me about three bites into this, except I know it didn’t look cute.

Now I did eat both of these. Mainly because my partner doesn’t really like cheesecake and also because they were due to expire during the week, and in an attempt to sort out my diet, I have given up any sweet treats during the week. So downside is you can eat both in one weekend. Upside is though, you probably won’t even notice. They are very light so are not very filling at all, and while they have a slight sweetness to them, they are not sickly. I ate both and felt absolutely fine – no sugar shock or anything! Make of that what you will. They are also pretty small, so while are probably fine for two people, probably not the best option if you’re wanting to cater for a few others too.

Overall: 6/10. They’re alright, but nothing overly special.

T xxx

Moser Roth vegan chocolate

Since the EPIC betrayal of Tesco changing their recipe of their chocolate orange bar, I have been searching for a good chocolate replacement. One that doesn’t cost a load of money but still manages to taste like chocolate. There are a lot of options out there now, so I feel it is only my duty to check these out one by one.

I have never heard of Moser Roth, but they had quite the selection (I saw selection – there were 3 options that I saw, but that’s still a fair amount compared to some other brands) so I thought I would try them. They also state that the brand is rain forest certified cocoa and fair trade, so it also makes me happy to think that I am supporting a brand that is actively trying to do good.

It was unfortunately quite underwhelming. Like it tastes nice….but that’s it. It also tastes powdery. The chocolate itself was actually quite smooth, so I am not sure how it got that weird powdery aftertaste in it. But I find with some of the cheaper brands this does tend to happen. Perhaps it is something to do with the quality of ingredients? Or the manufacturing process? Whatever it is, it’s just a bit meh.

It also wasn’t overly chocolatey. I get that the chocolate has to be watered down (or milked down?) to make it milk chocolate, and so it isn’t super bitter, but you still want it to taste like chocolate. And this one just didn’t really. It tasted like a synthetic chocolate. If you’ve ever had a protein cookie or one of those ‘healthy’ treats that claims to ‘taste like chocolate’, that is the flavour I am referring to.

Overall: 4/10. It shall do for now…but the search for good chocolate continues!

T xxx

Beyond Meat Burger

I finally decided to take the plunge and try the Beyond Meat range. I have heard that these are meant to be amazing and I finally decided, with the weather what it is and social gatherings now allowed, it seemed like the right time.

For starters, these are a weird one. They do not look like meat. They come out of the packet looking quite pale, like most vegan burgers do really. When you cook them they do get quite pink and crisp up very nicely across the top and bottoms where they have been grilled. They also don’t really smell of anything. I mean they smell like tofu? And tofu doesn’t really smell. They also had their own….juices. It was grease (or maybe it was, who knows) but as soon as you started to cook them they started to fry in their own juice, and when you bit into them you actually had ‘meat juice’ come out of them.

But then you eat them and GOODNESS ME are these scary good. The texture is exactly how I remember beef burgers to be. It was almost crumbly, the way that mince crumbles when you’re cooking it. And it tasted like meat. Not fake meat or really well seasoned tofu, but actual meat. To the point that I actually had to recheck the package to triple check I hadn’t picked up the wrong one! Now when I did eat meat I always enjoyed a good burger, so this taste was wonderful to relive that again. But the vegan moral part of my brain just could not compute vegan products being this meaty.

Personally, I like knowing for certain that my meat free products are completely meat free. I prefer the slightly ‘synthetic’ texture and taste of some vegan products, as it reconfirms for me that I am, most definitely, not eating meat. By all means it can taste like meat, but I don’t really like having a direct copy of a meat product. I think that is why I’m still quite uncertain as to whether or not I actually like these.

However, I can see why these are so popular and are so raved about. If you served these at a BBQ of very committed meat eaters, I bet you £1million that no one would be able to tell the difference. These burgers will do wonders to help convert a lot of people to eat more meatless options, and it is quite amazing to see just how far vegan food has come in the past few years.

Price wise, they are quite pricey. £5 for a pack of 2 so if you are hosting quite a few people it can obviously get very expensive very quickly. But that being said these are definitely worth that price. Personally I wouldn’t buy these too often, but as a special meal or a once in a while treat, these would be worth it.

Overall: 15/10. Almost too good….makes me nervous.

T xxx

Snuggle Sundays

I had to work from home for a few days last week (I am one of those people who has been working in an office since lockdown first lifted last June, so working from home is still very novel for me!) and I managed to inherit a little Desk Gremlin.

She sat underneath me for the whole three days I was at home. Occasionally she would nudge my foot out of her way, but otherwise she was fast asleep.

I felt like the Chosen One.

T xxx

Linda McCartney chicken roast

Linda McCartney foods are one of those brands that are always of a really high standard. Their foods are slightly more expensive than most brands, but personally I have never really been disappointed with anything they have released. One of our favourite dishes was the meatloaf roast – I believe it was meant to be a replica of a meatloaf with tons of gravy on it. We had it for Christmas a few years ago and it is still one of the best meals we have had.

Unfortunately I haven’t seen that roast on sale near me for some time, so not sure if it is a Christmas/seasonal exclusive. Hence why I was so keen to try this version when I found it last week. The good thing about Linda McCartney too is that the majority of the range is freezable, so you can really stock up and not have to worry about expiry dates too much.

This was…in need of gravy. Or some sort of sauce on it. It has a very flaky texture to it, but it is still a really chunky meal. It doesn’t look too big while you’re cooking it but trust me when I say that it is PACKED. It’s literally a brick of textured soya on your plate. So the good thing is that it very filling, but the downside is that it is probably just a bit too much for two people, let alone one person. This would do great if you had a few people over though and wanted something easy to shove in the oven for them.

I think because it is meant to be chicken, it doesn’t really taste of much. It isn’t unpleasant in anyway, but if you have ever had plain tofu or plain chicken, you know what I am referring to. I think next time we will definitely try it with a rich sauce or a good thick gravy, just to give it that extra flavour.

Overall: 7/10. A really good base, but definitely needs more.

T xxx

GRO dark choc chunk cookies

I decided to venture out on my lunch break the other day and went into a store that I never really shop in: Co Op. There is only a little one in my town and it’s about a ten minute walk from my office. So I finally made the trip down there. I have heard pretty good things about Co Op’s vegan selection so hoped I would get lucky.

Boy did I get lucky! As it is a small store, they only really stock your usual groceries – mostly grab and go lunch options or meal deals with basic bakery and long life goods. But even with just that they had a load of options! If I ever need a sandwich on my lunch I am definitely checking this little Co Op out again.

I decided to try these little cookies though. They were due to expire on the day so were heavily discounted, so even if they turned out to be awful I wouldn’t really have minded too much.

I use the word little very lightly though as these things were HUGE. They also did not mess around when they say ‘chunky’ on the front. Look at the size of those chunks! The dark chocolate was rich and creamy, but not overly bitter or overpowering. The cookie was also the perfect cookie texture, with a nice hard outside and a lovely soft middle. Now I don’t know if these were technically ‘stale’ since they expired on the day, but even stale these were lovely. I definitely want to buy a fresh packet now to see if they have that warm, cookie-dough type texture.

They were also not very crumbly, which I was surprised at. Again I assumed they may be a bit stale being so close to the expiration date but these cookies held together really well. Their size did make them quite sickly though, as I could not eat them all on my own – I think I actually shared them with some of my work friends so that they didn’t go to waste!

Overall: 8/10. Will need to try these fresh before I can fully comment.

T xxx

This isn’t chicken lemon and herb skewers

I feel British Summertime has finally arrived, which means we potentially only have 5 random non-consecutive days left of it! Time to head to the stores and stock up on as many BBQ goods as you can carry and get to grilling.

The ‘This isn’t’ range is,m for the most part, pretty good. It seems to be consistently good, if not slightly overpriced for some things. I was therefore pretty safe with trying out these new skewers that appeared in my local supermarket. They had two flavours – smokey BBQ and Lemon and herb. I decided to try the lemon and herb, as I thought that would probably be the most complimentary if I was also have grilled veg and a burger or hot dog.

These were, as expected, really good. The chicken has that meaty texture, but is still not exactly the same as the meat version. I personally prefer that, as I like knowing for certain that my food is definitely not meat, but if you are looking for a perfect replacement these are about 80% perfect for that. I guess it also applies on the opposite side of the argument, where if you really dislike ‘meaty’ texture then these may not be for you.

I was a little disappointed at how much you actually got on a skewer, as they are actually quite small anyway. You also only get 4 in a pack it felt quite expensive to pay nearly £5 for it. If you were wanting to do these for a large group of people, I think you’d be better off making them yourself with the This Isn’t Chicken pieces and your own fruit and veg. They were very yummy but 2 skewers is definitely not enough to be a full meal. As a side, along with a burger or some extra grilled veg these would be brilliant, but on their own you’ll still be quite hungry afterwards.

The sauce was also very nice, but I tend to prefer quite a light and bland taste. I shall have to try the BBQ sauce version next and I shall let you know which is the better option!

Overall: 8/10. Needs more. Perfect for a lone meal but not really worth it for a large group.

T xxx