Afia’s Gluten Free Samosas! – Review

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One of my great summer memories was at Reading Festival a few years ago. I wasn’t gluten free back then but it was still surprisingly difficult to find vegan food. Luckily Waitrose was just a ten minute walk from our campsite and I found massive vegan samosas in their chilled section that I ate all weekend. Sadly a gluten free samosa is hard to come by, especially a vegan one!

Enter Afia’s, a traditional indian company that specialise in gluten free samosas, pakoras, achaar (indian pickles) and chutneys. While their range includes some meat products, five of their Samosa fillings are vegan! I recently had a chance to try some of their traditional vegetable samosas and spicy parathas so I snapped it up!

Their samosas and parathas come frozen and ready to put in your freezer. This means they’re ready to cook anytime! They also come with cooking instructions it’s pretty impossible to get wrong. I oven cooked mine as I don’t have access to a deep fat fryer. I brushed them with oil and baked them for 10 minutes as instructed and they came out absolutely beautiful.

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The inside of the samosa seemed to be mainly potato but there were also peas and sweetcorn in there. It was lovely and soft with a kick from the masala spices. The pastry was something else! I would never have thought it was gluten free! Most gluten free pastry I try turns out dry and crumbly but this was crispy and made a gorgeous contrast to the filling. This is definitely something I’d eat again.

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I have to admit I’d never heard of a Paratha until now. After a quick google I discovered that they could be used like a wrap and eaten with salad or any other fillings. I had mine on the side of my aubergine curry which was a good choice because I needed the rice to cool my mouth down! These wraps are made with gram flour, corn flour, potatoes, green chillis and other spices. They are extremely delicate and mine broke in the pan but this may have been because it had defrosted slightly. It was really tasty but slightly too spicy for my taste buds. I’m not known for my ability to handle spice!

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What makes this company so great is the fact they can cater to all sorts of different dietary requirements. One of the ladies is coeliac herself which definitely puts my mind at ease! Next I’ll definitely be ordering more samosas and some chapatti’s too.

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Have you tried Afia’s? What did you think?

Enjoy Life – Soft Baked Gingerbread Spice Cookies

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I always thought that our local Tesco had quite a good Free From section until I saw the Lifestyle Event aisles full of gorgeous vegan and gluten free foods! I visited a larger Tesco store this week but was disappointed to find that they weren’t running the Lifestyle Event either. Upon closer inspection though I managed to find some amazing cookies.

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Enjoy Life are an American company which produce products free from “The 8 Common Allergens”. On the back of the packet they list these as wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish. Luckily for me this means they are completely vegan as well as gluten and soy free! I always find it extremely frustrating when products in the free from sections of most major supermarkets are free from one allergen but packed full of another. As a vegan my main problem has to be the extra eggs and dairy that gluten free manufacturers add to everything. The approach that Enjoy Life have towards free from foods is both refreshing and exciting. I hope that the British companies can follow suit as it makes sense for a “free from” product to be free from multiple allergens rather than just certain ones!

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As a huge gingerbread fan I was drawn to the Gingerbread Spice cookies first and they did not disappoint. The ingredients list is packed full of things I would use in my own kitchen (a welcome change from that of most ready made biscuits) so I was hoping for a slightly home-made feel to these.

These are definitely on the more cakey side of the cookie spectrum! Their texture is very soft and not the sort of thing we’re used to in the UK with our crunchy choc chip cookies. I like this about them though as they somehow taste slightly more decadent than their crunchy counterparts. They also have a sprinkling of sugar on the bottom which gives a nice crunch.

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The flavour is amazing and is so hard to describe in words! The combination of ground and crystallised ginger gives a very strong and spicy flavour. They have a homey feel to them and remind me of winter months and Christmas. I’ve never tasted such a strong gingerbread biscuit before.

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It’s a shame that these cookies are not more readily available over here in the UK. They are currently on sale in selected Tesco stores for £3 a box. Pricey but worth it!

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Don’t forget about my giveaway for a years subscription to Vegan Life Magazine! Click here to enter!

Chocolate Enlightenment from Ombar

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When I was in Manchester a few weeks ago I took advantage of a brilliant wholefood shop on Oxford Road. My small wholefoods shop near here doesn’t have as an impressive range of vegan snacks and treats so I easily filled my basket with £30 worth of chocolate, hummus chips and nakd bars!

This Ombar was one of my finds that I was excited to try. I’ve seen other flavours from this brand before but as a huge fan of strawberries, this one really caught my eye. Ombars are raw chocolate bars which are infused with natural ingredients, coconut sugar and bio live cultures. This makes them a healthier alternative to many vegan chocolates and a snack you can feel good about! The coconut sugar is used as it is more sustainable than processed sugar and is collected from trees in Java by the local farmers. It’s also a lot better for your body!

The chocolate bars come in six pieces (I’ve already eaten half of the one in the photo above!) and I thought the bar was quite expensive for the amount of chocolate you get. However the richness of the coconut flavour meant that I could only manage a few bits in one sitting which is great for portion control and for your purse. The strawberry flavour was prominent, unlike some other strawberries bars I’ve tried, and the chocolate had a lovely creamy texture which is very similar to non-vegan milk chocolate.

I’ll definitely be trying the other flavours in the range as this bar is slightly too rich for my tastes. The range includes Cranberry & Mandarin, Coco Mylk, Lemon & Green Tea, Coconut 60%, Goji Berry, Acai & Blueberry and Dark 72%. Find out more from the Ombar website.

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What are your favourite raw chocolates?

Ten Acre Crisps – Gluten Free and Vegan! (Part 1)

I try to stick to a whole food diet most of the time but anyone who knows me will know my one weakness is crisps. I’m a connoisseur of the ready salted variety which is usually the only option to a gluten free vegan in this country. I do often think back to the days when I had a wide choice of flavours, my favourites being cheese and onion, smoky bacon and prawn cocktail. Licking the flavoured orange powder off my fingers afterwards was especially delightful. I was therefore very excited when I came across a brand of crisps called Ten Acre.

Although not widely available, this relatively new brand is available in selected shops. All of the eight flavours are suitable for vegans (even the cheese and onion!) and are also gluten and MSG free. They each have a quirky tale attached to them which you can read on the brilliant Ten Acre website. I’ve never seen such an interactive and intriguing website to advertise food before! A few months ago I was lucky enough to be sent some of these crisps to review and eagerly ripped open the package when they arrived! Here I will talk about four of the flavours I tried but please check back next week for the other four!

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The first flavour I tried was “The Secret of Mr Salt” which would have been the one I’d have picked up first in the shop as it’s my old standby flavour! The texture of the crisps is what struck me most here. At first I thought they were rather on the thin side but once I started eating them I realised how perfect the thickness was. They were extremely crunchy and morish and had just enough salt on them. These would be a firm favourite if they were available close to me! I soon moved onto the more adventurous flavours though…

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“How Chicken Soup Saved The Day” were amongst my favourites of the bunch. I loved Roast Chicken flavour crisps as a child so these were very exciting. Obviously these crisps are vegan and so contain no real chicken flavour. This makes them the perfect replacement for the vegetarians/vegans who are now being deprived of Walkers Roast Chicken flavour due to the real meat juices contained in them! The flavourings in these crisps focus mostly on the herbs parsley and sage. The flavour is deliciously savoury and remarkably chicken like! To see the rest of the ingredients and read the story behind the Chicken Soup click here.

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One of my favourite flavours of crisps used to be sweet chilli (I’m mainly thinking of Walkers Sensations!) so I thought I knew what to expect here. However while Sensations were very spicy to my palate, “When The Chilli Got Sweet” was a slightly sweeter flavour. This meant that the flavour could come through better and you could eat them forever without your mouth burning!

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When Hickory Got BBQ’d” was another of my favourites. These gorgeous crisps are flavoured with paprika, cayenne and smoke flavourings and capture the perfect BBQ flavour! Another example of how a traditionally meaty crisp can be vegan!

Please check back next week when I’ll be reviewing the other four flavours – cheese and onion, salt and vinegar, sweet & sour and bombay.

Have you tried Ten Acre Crisps yet? If not which flavour are you most interested in?

Summer Peaches Gummy Sweets (Vegan and Gluten Free!)

When I first went vegetarian I didn’t realise that I would have to give up my beloved Haribo sweets due to the gelatine inside and the beeswax coating the outside. Once I’d given them up I was already on the search for a replacement and came across a company called Goody Good Stuff. Their range of sweets are all vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free with no artificial colourings. They are therefore suitable for a huge range of dietary requirements and are perfect for children who are feeling left out due to specific diets or allergies.

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At the moment only four of the range are suitable for vegans due to the beeswax which coats the smoother sweets. It took the company 15 years to perfect their recipe and they are now looking into vegan alternatives for their smooth sweets. To find out more about this please have a look at the statement on their website.

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My favourite of all of the Goody Good Stuff sweets are the Summer Peaches. They are covered in sugar and are therefore vegan but they are not sour as the rest of the vegan range are. The gorgeous gummy discs taste of the fruit salad sweets I used to adore as a child and the sugar reminds me of fruit pastilles! These are a delicious sweet treat and are not like any other vegan sweet I’ve ever tried. Goody Good Stuff are clearly the leaders of the vegan sweet market!

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Have you tried Goody Good Stuff? Which are your favourites?

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*Note – These sweets were provided as a sample by Goody Good Stuff but these views are my own.*

The Benefits of Raw Chocolate (A Review of The Raw Chocolate Co.)

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Many of us have adopted new ways of eating at the start of this year. For a lot of people this means giving up their little treats but I want to show you a whole new way of looking at your mid afternoon chocolate bar!

Eating raw is one of the best ways to ensure that none of the nutrients leach out of your foods before you’ve had a chance to eat them. I’m sure some of you had some horrible mushy brussels sprouts over the Christmas period and I can think of no better endorsement for the raw food diet. Sprouts are beautiful when added to salads or lightly stir fried when they not only keep their texture, they keep their nutrients too! Raw foods are also helpful to our digestive systems as they contain higher levels of enzymes as well as friendly bacteria.

While the health benefits of raw food are well known (it’s no coincidence that dieters choose the salad over other foods!), what you may not know is that one of your favourite treats is also available in a raw, less processed package.

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The Raw Chocolate Co make a large range of raw chocolate bars as well as chocolate covered mulberries and goji berries. They also sell “supreme foods” such as raw cacao powder, cacao nibs and chia seeds.

I bought one of their raw chocolate bars at Christmas and was very excited to try it out. Other raw chocolates I’ve tried have often been gritty and slightly bitter but this was so smooth I never would have guessed it was raw. The Raw Chocolate Co grind their ingredients for three times longer than other raw chocolate companies, leaving the finished product lovely and creamy. The flavour was delicious, a combination of vanilla and toffee that was reminiscent of the white chocolate I used to love as a child and there was no hint of bitterness in there.

These bars are available in Holland & Barratt as well as some wholefoods shops and online. To find out more about The Raw Food Co. have a look at their website here.

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Have you tried raw chocolate yet?

Vegan Mofo #27 – A-Z of Gluten Free Veganism (Yummy Zero Zebra Bars)

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OK guys, I’m aware that I am cheating twice here!

1) The last day of Vegan MoFo was yesterday

2) I’m doing Y and Z together

I’m sorry for missing the last day of MoFo! Hopefully this chocolate review will make up for it!

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Zero Zebra are a small brand that make dairy and allergen free chocolate aimed at children. Their products are all free of allergens, fair trade, vegan and organic and so are perfect for vegan or lactose intolerant kids. I bought one of each of their three chocolate bars to give a try.

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Their original bar is a gorgeous rice based milk chocolate. Many vegan milk chocolates can be too bitter or grainy but this is soft, creamy and delicious.

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I expected the Crispy Rice Pop bar to be reminiscent of the Nestle Crunch Bars that I used to adore before I was vegan (and before I gave up eating Nestle!). It is not like these bars at all but don’t let that put you off! The rice pops are scattered through this bar but there aren’t so many that the quality of the chocolate is hidden. It’s a creamy bar with small crunchy bits.

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This is the bar I was most excited to try. My favourite flavour in everything used to be strawberry so a vegan milk chocolate with strawberry is right up my street. This bar wasn’t what I was expecting at all but it was delicious nonetheless. It actually contains dried bits of strawberry so the fake sugary strawberry flavour I was expecting was replaced by a more realistic sweet strawberry flavour. This is sure to be a favourite amongst kids!

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Overall I think these bars are fantastic. They are a lot bigger than most vegan milk chocolate treats at 35g and I didn’t feel like eating another bar once I’d finished! I think the cute packaging and the shape of the bars will stop children from becoming jealous of the kids with the milky bars and parents can be sure that they are allergen free!

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What are your favourite vegan chocolates?