Huel

So I haven’t posted anything in nearly a year! I blame the wonderful vegan Facebook group that I’m part of for distracting me and providing a place to post my pictures and discussions.

I’m really bad for skipping meals, or eating cake for breakfast (I am actually a grown up, okay? I can do what I want). I don’t seem to be getting anything good out of doing this. I’ve been ill for about 80% of the year so far… colds, flu once or twice, potentially an infection. So to try and start eating ‘properly’ again, I thought back to Soylent which I followed for a while back in their development stage. Full nutrition in a drink that is easy to make and doesn’t take up many spoons or time. Only available in the USA and Canada so that’s not really going to work for me.

Then someone in one of the vegan Facebook groups I’m part of posted about Huel. They didn’t even say much about it but seemed very excited so I went to have a look.

The first things you’ll notice are their claims:

Everything your body needs

The future of food

Made in the UK. Free next day delivery*.

Okay, so 1. Nutrition is important here more than anything else so that’s good. 2. I LOVE the future. Is there anything better than faff-free, vegan science served by a robot with an lcd smiley face? DIDN’T THINK SO! 3. Supporting local businesses – yes. 4. Free delivery – I’m sold.

I took a quick journey around their website and watched the most boring (but informative) video ever. I have quite a terrible dependency on sugar, which I am managing to reduce a lot, so I try to avoid anything containing lots of the other white powder. Huel is “very low in sugar – 3.4g per 2000 calories, less than a teaspoon”. I’m still quite confused on the serving sizes, even their scoops don’t measure a round amount for some reason. They suggest using 100g of Huel to 500ml of water, and 2 scoops is like 114g or something. Either way, this is still sounding great. I want some.

I didn’t fancy spending £45 on trying out this magical powder drink, so lucky for me they have 100g sample sizes for £4, free postage and apparently I’ll get £4 off (along with a free t-shirt and shaker) on my next full size order if I email them first. Hurrah.

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and here it is in all of it’s helvetican glory

I immediately opened the packaging and gave it a sniff; all I could think of was vaguely cheap cake mix. I tried to make some up in a glass using a plastic 1/4 measuring cup. Half of the wee glass holds about 3/4 of water, what’s 1/5 of that? How do I work this out with the tools I have? I don’t. Starting again, I do it in tablespoons. 10 tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons of Huel and I’ve got a lovely wee sample glass ready and waiting to try out while my dinner cooks.

I took a photo. It’s gross. If you really want to see it though, it’s on my Instagram feed.

But you know what, it didn’t taste gross. It tasted like watery, cake batter flavoured porridge which is something I can appreciate.

I will be having some in the morning, maybe a yoghurt too. I don’t have enough to make many full meals so I’ll be having snack sized amounts – once I work out what amount this actually is. Who knows??!

Bonus fact: the cats LOVE sitting on the cardboard sleeve it came in. Obviously.

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Edinburgh Festival 2015 vegan roundup

So, as a local I felt obliged to do a bit of research for those that aren’t maybe in the city every bloody day. I’ll post any new vegan spots that I come across in this post.

7/8/15 day 1. I’ve found two food stands at George Street / Castle Street

  
Harajuku Kitchen have a restaurant up Tollcross way. I’ve never been but heard it’s good. All of their food without meat is suitable for vegans, and their allergies list is displayed proudly on the counter for all to see. I forgot to take a picture of that though, sorry!

  
Fresh Revolution seem like a lovely lot. They’re only doing vegan soup and curry, and only a few portions of veggie curry a day. If you can warn them of your arrival in advance though, they will keep some for you.

St Andrew Square

  

The only thing I could see to eat was from Henderson’s. They’re pretty good and have a variety of salads every day. Everything is at least vegetarian, and vegan & gluten-free stuff is marked.
Still searching for more pop up places to eat. If you find one for me to add, please send a photo and short review!

Cafe Class – Tollcross

Bean Pate Sandwich at Cafe Class

I’ve been terrible at updating this blog for a few months. I have taken pictures and saved up some memories so I’ll try get them out over the next few weeks.


I’d heard that Cafe Class was good from a few people but I’m not often in the area. So, on a random afternoon off, I ceased the opportunity to meet up with my pal and have something potentially delicious to eat before getting my hair cut! Quite a momentous occasion, as I’d not had my haircut since September and I’ve been growing out the shaved sides – not fun. I don’t really enjoy going to the hairdresser, I don’t really understand the social aspect of it. I had to go, but first I had to eat.

So, back to the food.

I squeezed in between the tables and buggies to find my friend who had managed to get us a seat at the sofa, very lucky! It’s a very homely place to sit and eat, chat, drink, whatever. The decor is cosy and it seemed well looked after.

I think there is table service but it was really busy so rather than wait, we went up to the bar to order food. I picked a sandwich off the menu, I don’t remember it specifying that it was vegan, but I asked and was assured it was fine.

What I received, was a humongous sandwich full of bean pate, Sun dried tomatoes and rocket, it came with a side salad but I only picked at it because I was so full from this amazingly huge and yummy poppy seed roll. It was probably a good amount of food for most people if you have longer than a lunch hour to eat, I’d maybe have had half later had I not been going to the hairdressers.

My friend had the soup of the day, which I think was mushroom? She said it was very nice and I was slightly jealous that I wasn’t also eating the soup. The sandwich was very very tasty, but hard to eat when you’re trying to have a catch-up at the same time. Given that I ended up with constant sundried tomato oil all over my face it was probably a more “eating alone in a badly lit room” kind of sandwich.

I’ll definitely go back to Cafe Class if I’m ever up in that neck of the woods again, and needing something to eat. From what I remember, they had a few options for vegans or veggies, so if you’re thinking of going, go on an empty stomach!

Castello Coffee- New vegan sandwich

Pestering your local lunch spots to make vegan food does work sometimes. Eventually. 

Castello have always been delightfully obliging with a tasty falafel hummus wrap, Bonsoy soya milk (the good stuff) and vegan soup almost every day. The tiny coffee shop on Castle Street is my favorite place to go get a wee flat white or espresso, and occasionally lunch too. Service and attention to detail is everything I could ask for and I’m starting to sound like a suck-up, but it really is lovely and they’ve introduced a new sandwich which has recently had a vegan makeover.
Introducing, chickpea and avocado mash with pesto and rocket on foccacia!
  

Since Sandro brought this wee treasure into the sandwich cabinet (originally with regular non vegan pesto) I’ve been asking him to get some vegan pesto instead, which he actually bought a wee while ago but was finishing up the normal stuff first. So today I bought one.
Toasted? Oh okay then.

The result? Well, it was pretty good. Considering I don’t really even like rocket. I’d maybe not bother getting it toasted next time, I think it made it a bit too oily – even for foccacia. Still, it was beautifully made, the ratio’s of mash to pesto to bread were great and I’m totally getting another one.

Bonus: quick, reasonably priced lunch (£3.50) that is actually nutritious.

Update!: It’s even better (imho) not toasted. Still really oily but what else can you expect from a super foccacia delight!!

Review: Piemaker

Piemaker interior

I love pastry. I love that a lot of pre-made puff pastry is vegan too – in fact I’ve just polished off my last vegan sausage roll! Today has been a very pastry filled day though: 2 sausage rolls and a Piemaker. Wooft.

Piemaker is a vital part of Edinburgh, situated just round the corner from the National Museum of Scotland, down the road from Surgeons Hall, Brass Monkey, Black Medicine Coffee and of course, the famous Mosque Kitchen.

This place is a little less grand than the others but important none the less. During the festival they stay open until 3am (or at least last time I stayed out that late during August) and always have exactly what you need to either start or end a night of “intense living”. Although it’s been here since 1995, it wasn’t until about 2001 that I first visited. I still remember it like it was yesterday … Chicken Tikka pastry (obviously wasn’t vegan then!) and a can of fanta with my brother who took me there after we had been to Forbidden Planet. It still looks almost exactly the same, and it’s pies are almost exactly the same, although to be fair, most of them are pastries and not pies.

Today I had a late lunch so moseyed on up from work, after a quick visit to the cash machine and a dash between cars waiting at the lights, I was in.

The most thrilling part of going to Piemaker, is not just that the pastries are always tasty, it’s just that I have a choice! “Oh what will it be today??” “I just *don’t* know!” (convo with myself – in my head).  Well, it was a Thai Mushroom please! £2.10, bargain, and it was slid into a paper bag.

Piemaker piemaker make me a pie

There’s a bit of a trick to eating a Piemaker, and that is to get your face right into the bag before starting to eat. That way, you won’t end up covered in crumbs like the ill-fated creatures around you. It’s also a great place to people watch while you devour your food like a horse; and as I mentioned before, spend 20 minutes in during the festival when the place becomes (like most others) a giant Fringe guide. All the acts with posters competing for room and layer upon layer of posters takes over the tiny space. It’s an efficient way to choose a show to go and see without using your hands.

Piemaker is a place for the people, from folk like me just looking for a quick bite to eat, poor students, tourists looking for a bite between the museum and the castle, even posh types. I once saw a woman with two children, one in a buggy – all in Harris Tweed and riding boots, one child was wearing a tweed flatcap (poor thing), and THEN she called them Hamish and Sebastian in a VERY Morningside accent. In the least judgemental way possible, I did not think I would witness anything like that in my life considering the fancy coffee shops nearby.

Anyway, the Thai Mushroom is lovely, topped with poppy seeds and just the right amount of crunchy. As can sometimes happen, it wasn’t very hot, but I didn’t mind. The staff are usually very happy to warm your pie up in the microwave if it needs it. I was almost going to buy a fruit pastry too but I am trying to cut down on sugar so I decided not too, but again, there would have been a choice! How luxurious.

Thai Mushroom Pastry guts

I don’t think their new location in Leith has many vegan options, I’ll need to go check it out, but the vegan choices that are available at the North Bridge shop are:

  • Thai Mushroom
  • Moroccan Vegetable
  • Balti Curry
  • Apple
  • Apple & blackcurrent
  • Apple & raspberry (oh yes!)
  • Red Cherry

Except from the red cherry, and I can’t think why, I’ve had them all and they are all tasty, fresh and have a decent amount of veg/fruit and sauce in their fillings. Oh, and for dairy consumers, the pizza rolls are totally amazing too.

I hope this place never closes because if they do I will be very sad. 20 years is pretty good going – here’s to the next 20 years when the pies will be cooked in seconds and we’ll all scoot up on hoverboards. Oh, and EVERYTHING will be vegan because, why no eh?

If you need it – Piemaker’s website (FYI: they take catering orders online)

Making choices

I read this article about how 84 percent of vegetarians go back to eating meat at some point, which I think is okay. I’ve had some people ask me about how they can eat more eco friendly without making massive changes or going full vegan. The way I see it is about making educated choices, you don’t have to always be vegan or vegetarian, or only buy fair trade products.

If you know about what you’re buying and you have a reason to buy it, then it’s okay. Even if the reason is you just really want it. If a lot more people made more “upgraded choices” day-to-day then it would make as big an improvement to the state of things as a few people going full-on ethical living.

So, if you want to make a difference you could try a few of these:

  • Try a temporary vegan or vegetarian diet, even if only for a day every week, a full month, or every day while the sun is up! What about a vegan Christmas dinner?
  • Buy fair trade whenever the option is there
  • Buy local rather than from big businesses
  • Avoid evil corporations like Nestle and Coca Cola

Easy peasy vegan pancakes

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I flippin LOVE pancakes (Hah – pun not intended). Especially on a Saturday morning/afternoon/whenever.

I usually just make up a recipe depending on what kind of pancakes I’m after. This one is so easy though, you have to go make it now, for everyone in your house.

Per person (makes 4 small slightly puffy crepe pancakes)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk – today I had oat milk so I used that
1/2 tsp each of baking powder, baking soda and vanilla essence

If you don’t have any of the last stuff it’ll probably still work alright.

Heat up a pan with a wee bit of oil in, it’s important that the pan is hot all over so do this for 5 mins while you make the mix.
Mix the milk into the dry ingredients a bit at a time, until it’s all smooth and joyful.
Pour some mix into the pan and swirl the pan around so the mix isn’t too thick. If you want blueberries or some kind of fruit, add it now.
Wait until the bubbles start to appear and then flip! If you’ve not used baking powder and soda you might not see many bubbles so just wait a few minutes until the edges look cooked.

When the bottom is cooked you can start piling them up. Douse liberally in maple syrup. Amazin.

If you’re quite hungry, one person could manage at least double these quantities. Enjoy🙂

Please let me know how it worked for you.

Vote with your wallet

It’s a huge problem trying to spend money sometimes. Shopping ethically and conveniently enough for it to be possible is really tricky if you’re not lucky enough to have a good array of shopping options around you.

This article, although US orientated, is pretty good at explaining some ideas on how to “Vote with your wallet”. The way I think about it is, every time you spend your hard earned cash, you’re making a choice on who gets that money. If you can buy your bread at a local bakery rather than get it at a supermarket – then do it. If it’s not going to be possible, don’t stress it! Just do what you can when you can.

You never know how far your money and good intentions can go and how many people they can affect. We all have to make that small effort if possible and let’s see if we can get our cash flowing away from the mega rich and back into the local communities pockets.

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/09/spend-money-like-an-activist/