Two of the three pugs that I had the pleasure to look after. Pugs are hilarious as I had the joy to discover!
Two of the three pugs that I had the pleasure to look after. Pugs are hilarious as I had the joy to discover!
We are giving away prizes all week to celebrate UK National Vegetarian Week. All prizes are still up for grabs. Competitions close at the very last minute of 26th May 2014.
Today a Norfolk based company, passionate about British beans have a large box of beans, peas and quinoa to GIVEAWAY!
Founded by three friends, Nick Saltmarsh, Josiah Meldrum and William Hudson, who share a belief in good, sustainable and local food after successfully running a trial project Great British Beans to stimulate and assess the demand for indigenous pulses. The formed Hodmedods (meaning hedgehog) and are reviving long forgotten beans. They also now have added British Quinoa to their range. As you know, countries in South America who have been eating quinoa (a seed rich in protein..eaten in place of grain) as a staple food for generations, have seen the prices rise considerably due to the growing demand of richer countries in the West who have caught on to the seeds culinary versatility. Growing it locally can only be a good thing for all.
It is all happening this week at A Vegan Obsession’s HQ! We are celebrating UK National Vegetarian Week everyday with great vegetarian/vegan goodies to GIVEAWAY!
You can win with Rebel Kitchen Ovivo Antioxidant Drink Tibits Love Raw (click on the links to enter). ALL competitions are ending last thing on 26th May 2014. We still have many more prizes coming up in the next few days. So sign up for the newsletter to make sure you don’t miss a trick!
I am super excited and a wee bit nostalgic about today’s giveaway. I have always been partial to a crisp. Especially cheese and onion, which I would layer between slices of thickly buttered white bread or a crusty roll and then use both hands to press the crisps down to create a layer of cheesy, salty and very onion-y shards. It was my sandwich of choice. I’d add slabs of cheese too at times, or some chunky pickle. But when I became vegan, all those moons ago I gave up this delicacy and got used to the idea that my days with cheese and onion crisps where to be placed in the vaults of time. Can you imagine how I felt when I opened a bag of Ten Acre Crisps (crisps where no dairy lurks) and crunched down? It was like welcoming an old friend back into my arms! Yes, a tear was shed. And, then I scoffed the whole bag and took all the flavours around to my friends to share and test the others. This task was indeed happy making. As I am sure this competition will be to one VERY LUCKY winner of a WHOLE box featuring bags of 8 flavours (there is even a How Chicken Soup Saved The Day flavour!). Indulgence never tasted so good!
When Bombay Got Spicy
The Story Of When The Cheese Met The Onion
How Chicken Soup Saved The Day
The Amazing Adventures Of Salt & Vinegar
When Hickory Got BBQ’D
The Day Sweet & Sour Became Friends
Secret Of Mr Salt
When The Chili Got Sweet
All these could be YOURS! Trust me, these WILL win friends and influence people.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
London Olympia was host to the Natural & Organics show last weekend. I went along to see what new products were being launched. Also, to just take in the atmosphere. When you get a gathering of people who are passionate about what they do, and care about their consumers AND the planet, the atmosphere is quite electric.
Held over three days Natural & Organic have zoned areas Beauty & Spa, Health, Living and Food. Primarily, my interest was in the FOOD but I did stroll though the other zones to see if anything caught my eye.
I thought I’d share some photo’s with you. I was heartened to see many of the Continental European, and American products I love to enjoy when I am travelling are beginning to make their way over here, together with great ‘home grown’ foods emerging.
There was a feast of exciting new chocolate, more coconut products than you can shake a stick at and a substantial amount of gluten free foods. All making it easier and tastier to be vegan and gluten free. The days of feeling like you are missing out are numbered (not that I do, research and persistance pays off in many ways).
My Award For Best New Vegan Chocolate – Goes to Pana Chocolate With quite a few flavour combinations, the chocolatier from Australia certain knows flavour! Soon to be in the UK.
Best Museli I’ve tasted. Made with raw vegetables. It has the perfect balance of sweet and crunch. Filling too! from Primrose Kitchen
Seitan made from spelt that SOME people with gluten sensitivities are able to tolerate. If you know you can then you’d enjoy these products. I cannot so I did not try them.
Delicious cookies. Soon to be sugar free. Punku Quinoa cookies.
Food For Life are coming over from the US with their vegan and gluten free breads.
Look out for these new products. MANY of which will be in the large UK supermarkets. The big stores have caught on. Which of course is great but I am also wary of larger companies getting on the band wagon and touting foods as health foods but when you look at the label they are stuffed full of processed sugar, crappy fats and fillers. All the above are both delicious and healthy. The best combo!
BB cream was a bit of a buzz word in 2013. At the time, I briefly wondered what BB meant and what the fuss was all about, then promptly ignored it. I figured, as the cream was made by huge well known cosmetic companies with reputations for using decidedly unnatural ingredients, or testing on animals, I definitely did not want any of that on my skin. Then, whilst on a recent trip to the USA, I saw a vegan Beauty Balm. Now this time I was intrigued. What was it the cosmetic companies were banging on about? Well, I ignore those that say a product is good for you and one look at the synthetic ingredients has me sure that they are not. But a VEGAN, paraben free, tinted, SPF15 beauty balm!! Now that has my attention.
It is made by a totally vegan and paraben free skin care company called Devita. They have an extensive range of cosmetics and toiletries used by top make up artists who are now embracing vegan products. This is such a huge leap forward.
So what is in it? Here are the ingredients listed:
ACTIVE INGREDIENT: Zinc oxide 9%. INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Aloe barbadensis (organic certified aloe vera gel), Purified Water (aqua), Capric/caprylic triglycerides (derived from coconut oil), Glycerin (vegetable), Pomegranate extract, Japanese green tea, Hyaluronic acid (vegan source), Glyceryl stearate SE (derived from vegetable oil), Stearic acid, Lecithin phospholipid, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Allantoin*, Vitis vinifera* (grape) seed extract.
Packed full of quality ingredients. One of which is Hyaluronic acid. It helps to retain over a 1000 times its weight in water within the cells of skin, making it an excellent moisturiser. It is reported that no other biological substance can retain as much water. Fabulous! The only question I had was about the addition of zinc oxide. What is that? Is it safe? Am I going to look like I’ve covered my face in chalk, like some sun protection products do? Why does it contain zinc and not titanium dioxide (both physical sunscreens that deflect the sun rather than chemically producing a barrier on the skin (less effective for both types of A & B spectrum rays)? I did some delving.
After much research I discovered that zinc is thought to be superior in UVA & UVB protection then the other minerals used in sunscreens,
here is a report by EWG to highlight different sunscreen methods
Then, as I slipped further down the rabbit hole, concerned that I only recommend safe and effective products to you, I read that some cosmetic companies use nano particles to deliver their mineral sunscreens. Scary sci-fi stuff! Nano particles are so tiny they are absorbed into the blood stream and accumulated systemically in the bodies organs. Tests performed at UCLA showed that (in mice) the particles actually genetically altered the DNA within 5 days! Can this be safe for humans?
The Environmental Welfare Group answer this question on their FAQ page.
Could nanoparticles cause internal damage if they penetrate skin or are inhaled?
Yes. Though sunscreen lotions do not pose penetration concerns, inhalation of nanoparticles particles is dangerous for many reasons. EWG strongly discourages the use of powder or spray sunscreens using titanium dioxide or zinc oxide of any particle size.
I decided to make a call to DeVita to ask them about their product. They told me that they use micronised zinc oxide which is nearly transparent and has a particle size of 250nm, whilst nano is considered UNDER 100nm. You can read about their micronised zinc oxide here.
It seems that more research needs to be conducted on humans but another check under the product list hazard rating at the EWG website listed DeVita’s sunscreen product as a LOW HAZARD.
Enough of the science and research. So, aside from all that, what did I think of the beauty balm?
It is hydrating, non-greasy and has no trace of white sheen. I found the medium a great tone for my olive..y skin. The coverage is light to medium. It didn’t clog my skin or feel heavy, it was whipped and light. The SPF is only 15, but, as I tend to love the sun but seek shade, this is sufficient for the climates I am currently spending time in.
In short, I’m very happy to have it in my vegan beauty box!
UPDATE: The product has just won an award.
Kale is king. It has reigned for a few years now as the supreme raw food chip. Of course, other vegetables were going to want a slice of the action. So kale got competition!
I love brussel sprouts. I love parsnips. I heard they were being ‘chipped’. I had to sample them.
Wonderfully Raw chips were developed by a chef named Sequoia, a graduate of the Living Light Institute who began making raw foods after healing herself of Type 11 Diabetes through diet.
Generally, they were good. But, honestly, not all of the flavours rocked my world, but some defiantly generated a tremor! All of the line up contain raw coconut among their ingredients. Coconut is not only delicious but a metabolism boosting super food. Guilt free healthy snacking. Each pack is only approximately 120 calories and 8g of fat (but it is easily digested, healthy MCLA – medium chain fatty acids). According to Dr Oz coconut improves thyroid function, too. Vegan. Gluten free. Soy Free. Sugar Free.
Brussel Bites – Chili Pumpkin Seed Crunch
The chipotle heat is so good mingling with the slightly bitter brussel and the toasty flavour of the coconut. Loved!
Brussel Bites – Tamarind Apple Crunch
I could not detect the tang of the tamarind but the ginger and coconut were a divine mix. Loved!
Snip Chips – Cheezy Herb Truffle
I was excited about this flavour combination. However, I didn’t love this one. Too ‘parsnippy’ for my liking and not enough truffle and cheeze flavours.
Snip Chips – Chipotle Lime Cilantro
More chipotle flavour, please! If you don’t like heat then you may enjoy the subtlety of it. Otherwise, a good flavour.
Snip Chips – Dill Pickle
a lovely buttery taste with a gentle dill flavour. Loved!
So..the clear winner..does King Kale need to be nervous?? No. Competition is good. I think the healthy snack market has room for them all! I will definitely be buying these again.
Wonderfully Raw sell their Snips and Bites in many natural food markets, Whole Food and grocery store locations in North America.
I arrived in Austin, promising myself I would lay low so I could complete a project I’ve been meaning to do for some time. But, I guess my curiosity for vegan artisans runs too deep. I was at the natural foods store, filling up my basket with ingredients for a recipe I was creating and I could not help but notice, in the chilled foods section, a local Texan company making Tempeh. After a brief search on the internet I find it is made by The Hearty Vegan, and run by a mom and daughter team, right here in Austin. With numbers of people adopting a plant based diet increasing steadily year on year, and the increasing population highlighting issues of landmass, meat alternatives are becoming ever more popular (and innovative with flavours and their uses), I’m all for spreading the word. So,I wanted to meet them. I sent a message and asked if they would like to get together. Thankfully, they replied that they would.
We arranged to meet in the cafe I ended up frequenting the most whilst I stayed in Austin, Counter Culture. It is a homey, vegan cafe. The painted bright turquoise interior is as bright as it’s servers. The owner, Sue, is a fellow world traveller who has put down her backpack and tied on her apron to share her love of food. I was sitting watching the world go by and sipping on hot tea when Beth and Becky breezed in, armed with a box of their tempeh goodies for me to try. They had that typical Austin warmth and easiness about them as I probed them with a million questions about their mutual tempeh obsession.
For those that don’t know. Tempeh was first made in Indonesia as a food protein, made from fermented beans. High in fibre, low in saturated fat and zero cholesterol, Tempeh is now becoming more and more popular as people seek tasty meat alternatives. It is incredibly versatile, ‘meaty’, with a firm texture that absorbs flavours well. Many prefer it over tofu for it’s firmer, more substantial texture. If you’ve not yet tried tempeh ‘bacon’ then do. You’ve got a treat in store.
The Hearty Vegan
Beth, the mom, told me how she turned vegetarian in college after choosing a topic to debate in class. She had to convince her classmates that being vegetarian was not only beneficial to health but morally responsible. She researched this subject that she had previously known nothing about, and formed her argument so well that she ended up convincing herself and became a vegetarian. Taking up many causes to help educate others to the vegetarian lifestyle. It really opened her eyes and made her live far more consciously. When Becky was born, she fed her a vegetarian, then vegan diet. She also decided to ‘un-school’ her for the majority of her education. Becky is a breath of fresh air. Her confident, passionate nature is obvious and infectious. My reserved British counterparts could benefit from her outlook and worldliness. Un-schooling obviously did her no harm, or judging by her sparky exuberance, neither does her being vegan.
Beth had been making tempeh for 25 years for herself and her family, and generously giving it to friends. Just over three years ago in 2010, she and Becky began forming a dream of selling their tempeh and their business becoming part of the local economy. So they founded The Hearty Vegan which is steadily growing as word spreads. They sell in many of Austin’s vegetarian friendly and vegan restaurants, food trucks, natural markets, local CSA’s and Whole Foods. Perhaps one day the big red heart logo of The Hearty Vegan’s Texas Tempeh will be as synonymous a lighted sign as that big old M used to be. It doesn’t take too much of a paradigm shift to see this as a possibility. The Beth & Becky team obviously is working. The girls have their own personal strengths that they bring to the company, and they clearly have a relationship that many mothers and daughters might wish they could have.
Over the years that awesome ‘at home’ baking and cooking has created a long list of recipes loved by many. Beth and Becky decided it was time to share them, and so put together the Vegan Duet cookbook. This news is fresh off the press, so I promise I will let you know when you can go buy the book for yourself. I think you will want to, with recipes like Asian Meatballs, Spanakopita, Southern Fried Tempeh, Blackened Burgers and Beth famous and delicious Dill Tempeh (‘Tuna’) Salad. They pride themselves on keeping it simple but delivering flavour with few ingredients. Tuna salad and meatballs are Beth’s particular pride and joy. I tried the salad and I’d have to concur it is pretty darned good!
They believe in offering people more choices. Alternatives to meat. They promise that they are never putting any weird stuff in their food and keep as close to the original Indonesian methods as practically possible. Their beans are non GMO, gluten free and 100% organic. I wondered what made their tempeh so delicious Becky told me,
‘We don’t pasteurise our tempeh. Instead, we sell it frozen. Freezing doesn’t kill this amazingly healthy fungus and so our tempeh is still alive. Our tempeh is white because it’s completely covered with mycelium. Beans are delicious by themselves, but the mycelium adds a a layer of rich, complex flavour that puts tempeh in a class by itself’.
After exhausting the girls with my barrage of questions it was time for us to part ways and for us to go back about our business. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It is heartening to me when I see that businesses can be ethical, profitable, employment generating models, that can be a touchstone for all. I’m sure you will agree that’s happy making. The Hearty Vegan are one of several local food artisans I came across in Austin that are run by families, couples and friends. Their food served up with the characteristic joy and pride, bordering on obsession that food artisans usually embody.
I used the garbanzo tempeh for my original vegan and gluten free Haggis Neeps & Tatties recipe.
Their spicy sausage tempeh was turned into sausage crunches and topped my vegan breakfast tacos (I will share this recipe soon!)
Do I really believe that tempeh can be the high protein choice of many that can eventually overtake consumption of animal products? After tasting the likes of tempeh ‘bacon’, chewing down on a BBQ ‘rib’ made from The Hearty Vegan Garbanzo Tempeh, and my recipes of my own of Haggis, and Breakfast Taco’s with Sausage Crunchies, among others (not to mention the health benefits of plant based eating)…I’d have to shout out a whole hearted..’you bet ya’. And, I am sure Beth & Becky will be doing their darndest to make it happen.