Arbonne – A Vegan and Gluten Free Company

One of the things that many people struggle with when going vegan is the transfer onto cruelty free cosmetics and toiletries. In the latest issue of Vegan Life magazine Sunny Subramanian from Vegan Beauty Review helped to demystify the changeover with an article on natural, vegan beauty. One of the pitfalls that a lot of people have is the difference between cruelty free and vegan. Many products now are cruelty free which means they’re not tested on animals but this doesn’t guarantee that they are free from animal ingredients such as Lanolin (from wool), Carmine (crushed beetles) or Collagen (from animal placenta). As vegans we are looking for products which fit both the cruelty free and vegan criteria and in the list of vegan beauty brands provided in the article I came across one that stood out above all of the others.

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Arbonne are not only a vegan and cruelty free company. They are also gluten free and free from other nasties such as parabens, formaldehyde, petrolatum, synthetic dyes and artificial colours and flavourings. This makes them perfect for anyone with allergies or even those of us who are just trying to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

I was recently given the opportunity to try some of their products. I highlighted that some of the most difficult things to find as a vegan were hair products for coloured hair and good lip balms and met with one of Arbonne’s consultants, Jo for a chat about their products and what they have to offer. I came home with a thick catalogue of beautiful products, a lip salve and some shampoo and conditioner for coloured hair.

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This lip moisturiser no longer seems to be on their website but is similar to the Liquid Sunshine Lip Balm that is now available. Most well-known lip balms you can buy in the UK are packed full of beeswax and lanolin so I’m always ready to give a new vegan product a go. Many coeliacs are also worried about gluten in their lip products as even the slightest bit of ingested gluten can cause severe problems. This balm therefore covers all bases! It is uncoloured and has a very mild and natural fragrance as would be expected with its natural ingredients. It goes on very smoothly and leaves your lips feeling very soft and also quite tingly! There is a glossy aspect to the balm too so it leaves a nice shine whilst also protecting from the sun.

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The haircare range I tried is called Pure Vibrance and has been developed for use on coloured hair. In the range is a shampoo, conditioner, hair masque, texturizing mousse, serum and a hair spray. I use semi-permanent hair dye so it generally washes out quite quickly. I noticed when lathering this into my hair that not much dye seemed to be coming out which was an excellent sign. There is a citrusy type fragrance in the shampoo and conditioner which leaves your hair smelling fresh and clean. I was impressed with the quality of these products and my colour didn’t seem to wash out any sooner than it usually would with other non-vegan coloured hair shampoos.

All in all the brand covers a lot of bases with cosmetics, skin care and even nutritional products available. It is on the more luxury end of cosmetics with a large bottle of shampoo setting you back around £26 but the products are so good they’re worth it! There is also a sense of safety when using these cosmetics as you know they are fully vegan, environmentally friendly and gluten free.

To find out more about the differences between vegan and cruelty free cosmetics and how to refresh your vegan make up look for Spring grab a copy issue 4 of Vegan Life magazine!

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Chickpea, Carrot & Coriander Falafel Burgers – A Girl Called Jack

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A couple of days ago I told you all about the number of vegan recipes you could find in Jack Monroe’s first cookbook and on her website. I tried my first recipe out of the book this week and since I’d been craving falafel it had to be the carrot and coriander falafel!

Anyone else who is gluten free and vegan knows how difficult it is to find some ready made falafel that is suitable. Most varieties have wheat flour in which I’ve never completely understood! The recipes I’ve seen to make them at home tend to use dried chickpeas and require quite a bit of effort. What makes this recipe different is that it uses tinned chickpeas for convenience and texture. The grated vegetables mix with the chickpeas to create a nice soft inside while the outside crisps up nicely in the frying pan. I made mine into burger shapes and topped them with hummus, avocado, tomato and lettuce.

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I’ve never had better burgers in my life. If you want to give them a go the recipe can be found here.

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?

Individual Bramley Apple Crumbles

It came to my attention over the weekend that this week was in fact Bramley Apple Week! Obviously this was an opportunity to make my favourite dessert, a buttery and spicy apple crumble. It also inspired me to find out a bit more about Britain’s favourite cooking apple.

I grew up with the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” which I used to take literally. Now I know there are plenty of other factors in keeping good health. Apples are well known for their health benefits though and are full of vitamin C and fibre! Does this make my favourite pudding any less virtuous? I don’t think so!

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I actually used frozen apples for this recipe. I’d never used them before so I was apprehensive but they worked fantastically! These only cost £1 from Ocado and they saved us the peeling and chopping that usually comes with an apple dessert. I also decided to make two smaller crumbles rather than a normal family sized one. Me and my boyfriend like slightly different flavours in our apples so this was perfect!

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First I split the frozen apples between the two dishes and we both added our own flavourings. We both used maple syrup then I added mostly vanilla to mine and Steven added mostly cinnamon to his. Then it was just a case of whacking the crumble on the top and putting them in the oven for 20 minutes!

A gorgeous, comforting dessert in half an hour and a perfect way to celebrate Bramley Apple Week.

Recipe

Ingredients:

One packet of frozen apples or 4-5 fresh apples

2 cups of gluten free plain flour

1 cup of vegan margarine (I used Pure Sunflower)

1 cup of sugar

Cinnamon to taste (around 1/2 tsp)

Vanilla sugar

Cinnamon sugar

Chopped nuts (optional)

1 tbsp maple syrup (for each pie)

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Method:

1) Split the apple slices between the dishes and add 1 tbsp maple syrup and cinnamon/vanilla to taste. Give a mix to coat all of the slices.

2) Add the margarine and flour to a bowl and crumble together with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar with a wooden spoon.

3) Cover the apple mixture with the crumble mixture and sprinkle with cinnamon/vanilla sugar and chopped nuts.

4) Place in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or until the apples are bubbling and the top is golden

5) Enjoy while warm!

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An Apology and Some Christmas Cupcakes

 

 

I’m sorry I’ve been away since the end of Vegan MOFO! Last month I took part in another challenge called Nanowrimo where I wrote 48,199 words in the whole of November. Every minute I wasn’t sleeping, eating or working I was writing my novel! You can see my results in the graph below, I’m very proud of how I did.
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Now I’m back though and in a vegan Christmas mood! I’m here today to share some Mulled Wine cupcakes I made yesterday.

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Some of you may remember the exciting time I had at the Northern Vegan Festival where I met the lovely Ms Cupcake and came home with a signed version of her book. She did a brilliant talk on how to make gluten free and vegan cakes taste amazing so I couldn’t wait to try out one of her recipes and use her tips. The main tip was that the cakes should be mixed as quickly as possible and put in the oven before the baking soda gets to work. She also said that it was better to measure ingredients in grams rather than cups.

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She must have been right because these cakes did everything I’ve not been able to manage up until now! They rose, they had a gorgeous golden colour and my boyfriend said they were the best things I’d ever baked. I used the Vanilla Cupcake recipe but used Mulled Wine flavouring instead of Vanilla extract so they had a hint of orange and spice. I found the flavouring in Lakeland and the sprinkles were in ASDA and were labelled vegan.

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I’ve found a new favourite baking book! Have you tried any of Ms Cupcake’s recipes?

Thank you for 2 years!

Today is the 2 year anniversary of Vegan Beckles! Thank you for reading and commenting, it’s been amazing. To celebrate here are some posts that you guys seemed to love the most!

1) Vegan Life – A New Vegan Magazine in the UK!

2) Vegan Four Seasons Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust

3) Bees and Honey – A Vegan Perspective

4) Pakistani Lentil Balls in Fragrant Stew

5) My Journey to Plant Based Milk

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Here’s to more vegan years!

 

 

Tuesday Tips (MOFO #14) – Top Ten Essential Ingredients For Your Cupboard

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My theme for this year’s Vegan MOFO is making ordinary recipes vegan and gluten free. For today’s  Tuesday tips I’m going to give you a list of ingredients that are a must have in your cupboards to convert your recipes!

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Gluten Free Flour

A good gluten free flour blend is a must have. I always have a bag of my favourite Dove’s Farm plain flour in the cupboard for the obvious baking as well as making gravies, thickening sauces and making Vegg omelettes!

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Stock Cubes

I’ve already done a post on stock cubes which you can find here. A good supply of a few different flavours of stock cube is essential for making soups, stews and sauces. Always bear in mind that general stock cubes tend to have gluten in!

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Nutritional Yeast

I sprinkle these little cheesy flakes on anything from pasta to soup and you should too! It’s also useful in making cheese sauces. I use the one with added B12 as it is a vitamin that is more difficult to get on a vegan diet.

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Non-Dairy Margarine

These are available all over the place now and don’t cost more than normal margarines! My favourite one is called Vitalite and is available in most supermarkets. Your favourite spread can be used in any recipe that asks for butter. It also makes gorgeous toast!

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Unsweetened Plant Based Milk

Soya, almond, hazelnut, coconut or rice. The varieties of this are endless now! While normal almond milk tastes absolutely gorgeous in tea and hot chocolate, I recommend and unsweetened milk which can be used in any recipes that ask for milk. My favourites are unsweetened almond milk and Koko coconut milk.

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The Vegg

There are recipes all over the internet using this vegan egg yolk replacer. My favourite way to use it is to make omelettes or just a runny yolk to go over my breakfast. It’s useful to have a tub of this in the fridge to adapt any recipes which use egg yolks. Note though that this is just the yolk and not the white of an egg!

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Gram Flour/Besan

It’s a shame that I only discovered Gram Flour after I’d gone gluten free because it’s a gorgeous nutty alternative to normal flour. This can’t be used in place of plain flour because of the texture and flavour but it can be used to make a nice chickpea omelette!

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Tamari

I don’t know about you but I was devastated to discover that soy sauce contained gluten. Tamari is an excellent substitute though and is needed for stir fries and flavouring other dishes too!

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Worcester Sauce

Gluten free and vegan Worcester sauces can be found in a few places now including ASDA’s free from section! Now you can add it to your cheesy beans on toast just like you used to! I also use this for adding a bit of flavour to soups, sauces and rice.

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Vegan cheese

A must for any cheese based recipe! You can now get a large variety of cheeses including mozzarella substitutes, powdered parmesan, melty cheese and your normal blocks. My favourite is violife which tastes just like the real thing and actually melts!

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If you are going vegan and gluten free then filling your cupboards with the above ingredients will see you on your right way! What’s your must have ingredient?