So, the idea here was to buy some Quorn mince to make myself a big batch of vegan chilli and spaghetti Bol – I just had plans to make these as I would normally and instead of using turkey mince as I would have in the past I’d use the meat free mince instead. The first hurdle I had to jump was finding the right mince, I was really shocked to learn that Quorn mince is not vegan! It contains egg white (it’s a good job I’m checking all the ingredients still), so I spent some time in the freezer aisle finding an alternative which is where the Tesco meet free mince stepped in.
I am pleased to say this is vegan, was very easy to cook up (just like normal mince meat but takes less time) and tasted great as both a chilli and a bolognese. For most people I’d recommend this as an alternative to normal mince meat however, for me it raised some really bad stomach issues. I know this is likely just something that flares up my IBS but I am quite gutted not to be able to have this as a staple part of my diet.
I’m 99% sure this was the culprit and I will definitely be avoiding in the future which is a real shame but the diet so far has been having a positive influence on the tummy issues I’ve experienced in the past so I will continue to search for the right foods for my body. Lentil / chickpea bolognese is the next test and I’m sure it’s going to be just as tasty!
I know this isn’t going to be ideal for all those vegan or dairy free-er’s out there but I was very excited about this and felt it deserved a post. So, I spotted this in Tesco and I have no idea how I missed it before – its right there with the lactose free spread and milk which I visit at every shop!
It was only the other day that I was saying how much I missed brie, it was always a favourite of mine when out for lunch especially with cranberry at this time of year. I had quite a feast on it and although I can’t say that all the cheeses in this range are as good as the real thing I quite honestly don’t think you would notice the difference when it comes to this brie. I’ve had it on crackers with grapes and melted in with pasta and the flavour is great, like I say just like I remember the real thing.
I have also spotted mozzarella balls in the same range so I can guarantee that will be on my next shopping list!!
We decided to try out Sophie’s Kitchen next, although I hadn’t been in here before I have always peered in on my way past and it looked nice and I thought it would be a good spot for some people watching. I couldn’t find a menu online which I always find frustrating especially when I like to know if places can cater for dairy free luckily, I got a picture of the menu sent through to me which at least gave me a chance to see what was available. I spotted the “play it safe” baked beans on toast as a soon as I viewed the menu although it wasn’t long before the Breakfast Bowl jumped out at me. Greek yoghurt served with mixed berries, granola and honey – right up my street. I knew it was unlikely that they would have a dairy free yoghurt but I wanted this breakfast so much I brought my own and hid it in my handbag.
We arrived around 9:30 / 10ish and the place was empty, there is plenty of seating and I have often seen it full at lunch times so I was surprised that there was no one else in there. The bonus of this was that we could choose any seat we want which meant we were positioned against the window with the view of the High Street to people watch the morning away. It also meant I didn’t feel so silly for asking them to use my own yoghurt. I also had a pot of fruit tea which is a great option to have with breakfast and not always available so I was pleased with this. I really enjoyed the breakfast, I thought the menu was great as there was lots to choose from and the breakfast bowl is something that is not usually available.
I couldn’t help but look at the cakes available behind the counter, there were so many to choose from all looking delicious but I do find it disappointing that there wasn’t any dairy free or vegan options. This is something that a lot tearooms lack in and I’d like to see this improve which I am sure it will over time, just like the gluten free availabilities. I would like to come back here again, perhaps for lunch or another breakfast although I am not sure what options would be open to me so would need to consider this further.
Because the menu was so good and the layout and set up of the tables was nice I would like to give this an 8/10, however due to the lack of options for dairy free / vegan customers I am going to put this down at a 7.5/10.
Inspired by our numerous afternoon teas out my mum arranged to do myself, my sister, my Nan and her two sisters (Aunty Shirley and Janet) a homemade afternoon tea. I was very much looking forward to this until I had the news that I would be unable to eat the majority (all) of the foods included within an afternoon tea. So, I took my own lunch round and watched the family enjoy a very lovely looking afternoon tea –not able to rate this one myself I have conferred with my sister for the grading.
The table was set very nicely, just like a tea room with a pretty table cloth and the sandwiches and cakes were set out on special afternoon tea plates. Flowers were presented in the middle of the table inside a cardboard tea pot which I thought was a nice touch. The sandwiches were filled with a great selection of prawns, egg mayo, ham and cheese with an onion chutney and were crust less and cut into cute triangles. Next up was the scones, now – these weren’t homemade or warmed up but they were from the local bakers and not only did they look delicious but they were also a great size. A large pot of cream was provided with Tiptree strawberry jam, a discussion took place regarding how this should be put on the scones and although we all know which way is the correct way, the outcome was pretty split. Prosecco was served whilst the afternoon tea was being enjoyed and this seemed to go down really well with everyone. The cakes were bought out on a tiered cake stand all looking yummy – a selection of butterfly cakes and cupcakes all in different flavours ranging from chocolate to strawberry and vanilla and a slice of carrot cake was also available (these were all purchased from M&S).
In between the cakes my mum had placed a variety of chocolates and some grapes and strawberries which looked great and I thought it was a nice idea to have these to break the cakes up a bit. I have to say I thought the presentation was really good so this began the marking off at a high level, my sister was very pleased with everything provided and it all tasted great. I think the only things that I could mark down here is that the scones weren’t warmed up (we all know this makes a difference) and the cakes weren’t homemade and therefore we will grade this at 9/10, maybe mum can do this next time to get full marks.
OK, searching for Rachy friendly treats is perhaps the least of my worries right now. As it turns out this is going to be quite a learning curve and I am going to have to begin to cook the majority of my foods from scratch. I am not saying this is going to be a bad thing, in fact it is a good time to turn my diet around and start that ‘cleaning eating’ malarkey I have been talking about for quite some time.
I think the reality hit when I had a negative reaction to some MacDonalds Fries, having gone in there for ease I was hoping for a plain chicken salad but unfortunately they had run out of all salads. I thought opting for some fries was safe, it turns out I could not be more wrong.
Lesson learnt from this is that I am going to need to plan my meals and snacks in a much better fashion to what I am currently doing, I have had a visit to Holland and Barret with some purchases made but this is not going to be cheap. Instead I think my best option is to search for some homemade recipes – google is my friend.
Today was my first attempt at a dairy free Lasagne. I grabbed a recipe from google and went with it, having never made a white lasagne sauce from scratch before this was actually quite brave for me! OK, I admit it needs some work – the presentation isn’t the best and the white sauce looks non existent now that it has been cooked. The pasta wasn’t as soft as I would like it but these are all things I will work on for my next cook up. I have got to say though, it tasted pretty good!! I am pleased to have another portion in the freezer for another time.
I am not going to lie, this is going to be quite a funny, frustrating search with a lot of learning to come with the cooking from scratch – never been a strong point of mine but hey – we’ve all got to start somewhere!