Viva! join the party today to give 2 lucky readers the chance to win a gorgeous T Shirt or a fabulous cookbook!
Viva! are a UK based charity who campaign to end of animal suffering, to protect the planet and cease the killing of farmed animals. Viva’s! director Juliet Gellatley and her dedicated team and volunteers are on a mission to make the world a kinder, saner place. Juliet says,
“The most powerful action you can take to end animal suffering, improve your health, protect the environment and bring fairness to the world’s poor is to stop eating meat, dairy and fish’.
Through research, campaigns, information and support they are helping to do just that. They also have an online shop so you kind find all you need to support an environmentally aware and kinder lifestyle. Food & Wine, Clothing & Accessories, Books, Beauty, Gifts and Homewares. And even publications to help support your greener, cleaner life.
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!
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.
I’m visiting a new town. That new town is Austin. Austin of the ‘keep Austin weird’ fame. I’ve looked about and not found much weird but found lots of wonderful. On the food related side of ‘wonderful’, I have been dashing around on my latest acquisition, a silver and blue preloved bike, to discover what is good, local and vegan in Austin. I will be sharing some of my finds in the next few posts. First up…
I’m going through a beard appreciation phase right now, so when I spotted a little tan coloured packet on a shelf with a couple of bearded guys, I snuck in for a closer look. Not only were the hand drawn graphics of two bearded guys touting a sweet snack, but they also were brothers. Chris & Caleb. Bearded Brothers.
I had to tell you about them. I gave them a whirl, and not only are these vegan, gluten free and made in Austin, but the flavours are really unique. Each one has taken a turn at being my favourite. To be honest, I had become a bit bored of energy bars, mostly they are too sweet or too sticky, but the flavours in the Bearded Brothers bars are unlike any other I’ve come across.
Radical Raspberry Lemon
Bodacious Blueberry Vanilla after much internal debate. my favourite..right now.
Colossal Coconut Mango
Fabulous Ginger Peach
Mighty Maca Chocolate
The guys launched their company back in 2011 with funding and support from a Kickstarter campaign. When not making their bars and thinking up new flavours, I hear the bros are an active duo. I wonder if they came up with their flavour combos whilst griping onto a shear rock face, running an ultra marathon (50miles!) or whilst playing golf with a frisbee (yes, that is an actual sport)? Anyhow, in terms of energy, the bars seem to be working for them.
I asked BB’s a few ? that were floating around my head.
I had to tell you about an wonderful discovery I made on my latest trip. Just arrived in Austin, I was making my first stop to the local natural foods store in search of a good body lotion. I asked a member of staff to give me a recommendation and without a word she led me over to some beautifully packed tubes sitting on the shelf. ‘This smells INCREDIBLE’, she said, with much animation. I tried it. And it did. I squeezed a blob of the coconut body lotion onto the back on my hand and rubbed the lotion in. I honestly have never smelled any lotion or potion so delicious and intoxicating! I had to take it home!
Showered and slathered liberally in the stuff I smelled so gorgeous, I couldn’t stop inhaling the scent on my arms. Until it just started to look weird in public, so I stopped.
The range from 100%Pure is extensive. Literally has everything you could desire to preen and pamper your lovely self. I tried more products. As you know, if a product excites me I want to know more about the story behind it’s conception. Then I want to tell you all about it. You can read this amazing tale below the review. It is worth the scroll, believe me.
This is what I found.
The Pink Grapefruit body scrub. Intensely citrusy and vibrant. Chock full of luscious ingredients. The cane sugar crystals slope off any dead skin and the oils left my body feeling silky and utterly smooth and hydrated. NOTE: Be very careful when using this in the shower. It is oily and makes the bath/cubicle very slippery!
The real life story of the founder Susie Wang makes like a novel, or perhaps an exquisitely gentle, and beautifully shot movie. She grew up with her Geisha grandmother in Japan. Her formative years sound idyllic. At the age of 5 she was already immersed in the world of flora and loved to garden. She learnt about herbs, teas, trees and flora that surrounded her. She even cultivated her own fruits to make facial masks, perhaps this was as a result of witnessing the purity of the Japanese bath houses.
Despite this happy existence. Her grandmother wanted more for Susie that she had had in life. So at age 15 she sent her off to live in San Francisco. This world was so alien to Susie, so for solace she took to rescuing animals and volunteering at animal shelters. Susie settled and studied at the University of California in Berkerley, just across the Bay from San Francisco. One day, she purchased some anti ageing serum from a store and after just one week, found it oxidising and turning brown, meaning the Vitamin C, meant to be nourishing the skin was actually devoid of any power and was actually applying harmful free radicals to the skin. Susie being Susie, decided to find out how to stabilise the natural ingredients. This led to a patent. This led to some of the worlds largest cosmetics companies buzzing around her. So..she ended up working for them as a skincare formulator and product developer. Her new path was set.
The story then takes another surprising turn. (Quote) Susie was in the lab formulating the “next big eye cream”. She accidentally knocked over a vial of a chemical that was to go into that eye cream onto the lab table. Within a few minutes, the chemical eroded the lab table (I take it not the whole table?!). Shocked that the ingredients used to formulate cosmetics were harsh enough to eat away a lab table, Susie began digging for answers. She soon discovered that many chemicals that were widely used in cosmetics were proven to cause cancer, tumors, irritations, and other skin disorders. In addition to using toxic chemicals, Susie witnessed formulas only having just a dash of the active ingredients they were advertising and that most formulas were diluted with mostly water, thickeners, emulsifiers and other cheap fillers to “economize.”
Then, one day whilst she was in her organic garden picking berries, Susie noticed how the berries stained her fingers. The lightbulb went off. She realised all of the antioxidants and vitamins were in the actual fruit pigments.
The skills gained from her time at one of these huge international cosmetic company, and her outrage at at how these companies were misleading the public, AND her backyard berry picking discovery, compelled Susie to launch 100%Pure. 100%Pure was created to deliver the nutrients directly onto your skin. It’s like bathing and slathering in a fruit smoothie. But cleaner..and in a tube!
100% Pure is 100% Pure, vegan (or vegetarian when cruelty free honey is in formula), synthetic fragrance free, paraben free, toxic free and the most concentrated formulas possible without the use of water, thickeners, emulsifiers or any other cheap fillers. Cruelty-free. Is there anymore to love about Susie and her company? YES! They have even rescued and placed 21 dogs in loving homes last year alone, as well as given financial aid to those who need it for medical aid for their pets. Their long term goal is to open up an animal sanctuary to further help their mission to help animals. LOVE!
Isn’t that incredible?! I love that story! AND, I love smelling and feeling like a goddess!
Just so you know:
I spoke to 100%Pure to tell them how amazing their cream was (I like to let people know I appreciate them) and they were so happy to the extent of my gushing about their body cream to them, they sent me some other products to review. This review is based on my totally individual opinion and not at all biased. I guarantee that I will only ever tell you about products that I totally love.
A day or so ago I told you all about vegan snacking, in my attempts to make it much easier for you to be healthy and satisfied on a plant-based (and gluten free..should you need) diet. Today I hope to make it even easier, not just for snacks but for all your food shopping needs.
When I am staying in a super vegan friendly city like London, Brighton, Berlin, San Francisco, even, to a lesser extent, Mexico and Buenos Aires, I have found it easy to access whole food shops (even totally vegan stores), that cater for mostly all of my whims. However it is far from the case in most cities in the UK to have a good grocer/produce market where I can find artisan or even generic vegan products. I’m staying with my mother right now, in between trips. In a commuter city only 20 mins outside London. It has not got one healthy food store. Being here has been frustrating to say the least. So, when I got an invite from Ocado to come chat about their vegan range, I was sceptical to say the least.
I met with some super nice members of the Ocado team, and some fellow bloggers. Karin Ridgers from Veggie Vision was there..I was so excited to finally get to meet a woman I’ve long admired for her commitment to bringing fun and entertainment to the veggie world, via her TV shows. Also, Claire, a vegetarian blogger for FoodIFancy.com, to name but two. We were presented with a feast, dreamed up by the Ocado team and created by the chefs at Tibits. Whilst we were happily chowing down and getting to know each other, the Ocado team were telling us about how they feel it is so important to cater for all dietary requirements and tastes and how open they are to expanding their range. It was a real eye opener. What was so surprising is that I never thought of Ocado as a retailer who could deliver really good vegan fayre. A search for ‘vegan’ products currently grabs up 251 products.
As I was enjoying the company and the food, I was thinking of you and the implications having a well known online-delivery grocery store be so interested in making sure they have a well rounded stock of vegan and gluten free foods. Yes, independent and co-operative stores will always remain uppermost in my choices, but to know we can all get these foods so easily now filled me with much excitement. Our dietary choices impact the world and our loved ones in so many ways, we are all now waking up to this. It is all making a difference. My vision for a vegan world by 2035 is steaming ahead!
I sampled a few of their range of convenience foods and condiments.
Vegan Pesto so tasty I was eating it straight from the jar!
Holy Cow Spicy Bombay Ketchup oh mama, a slow, sexy burn
Booja Booja Champagne Truffles so good. A sure fire vegan seducer.
Granovita Mayola Egg Free Mayonnaise where would life be without vegan mayo?
Belazu Tomato & Smoked Paprika Sauce excellent for a speedy mid-week pasta dinner
If you remember, I recently reviewed gluten free wraps. You can now get those from Ocado too.
They are just a taster of what you can find. If they don’t have something that you’d like to see them stock they told me they welcome your suggestions.
I hope this makes life a little (or a lot) easier for you.
All opinions are my own. No thumbscrews were used. I just want to help.