Rocky Road! (V, DF, LF)

Vegan rocky road

Happy Veganuary! Being lactose intolerant, I absolutely love that more and more places get on board with Veganuary and vegan food more generally as it means more options when eating out. It’s a shame that lots of vegan products don’t make it past Veganuary, so I’m trying to try out a few and blog about them before they disappear. (Any excuse!)

Today, I decided to treat myself to lunch out, with it being a Friday and having being dieting recently. Everyone needs a treat now and then! Costa is really close to my workplace so I decided to pop along to see what was on offer.

I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have the vegan toastie that has been advertised but they did have this delicious rocky road.

One little warning – it is very sickly! But that never stops me and I did manage the whole thing, despite it being quite large. As regular readers of my blog will know, full-sized lactose free lovelies always get bonus points with me, as so often they are much smaller than their dairy counter parts.

The rocky road contained plenty of biscuit pieces, vegan marshmallows and raisins. Despite its lack of dairy, there was no lack of chocolate flavour. It had a very rich, creamy chocolate flavour to it and the fact it was nice and chunky gave it a great texture and chocolate hit. I loved the combination of this with the biscuit crunch. Although us lactose intolerants don’t need to avoid marshmallows, I think the inclusion of vegan marshmallows makes this a really good option for vegans seeking a sweet treat. The ones on this rocky road were really well made, with a nice soft texture and sweet taste.

All in all, this was a well thought-out and delicious product, which I would fully recommend! Sometimes, vegan/dairy free options can feel as though they are a poor cousin to their dairy counterparts, but this is definitely not the case here. Absolutely perfect for my Friday lunch time treat.

And all dairy free milk is currently free at Costa!

Rating – 5/5

Vegan Gu – but actually! (V, LF, DF, GF)

If you have been a follower of my blog for a while (thanks, wonderful people!), you will know that I am always finding substitutes for tasty Gu products. But now, Gu themselves have finally decided to give it a go and create a dairy free version for us lactose free lovelies and vegans.

I am glad they have taken time to get this right, as I had high expectations for this pud. Luckily, it lived up to all of them!

Cheesecake has always been a favourite dessert of mine and I do miss it since I have had to ditch dairy. This chocolate and vanilla version is spot on.

Whilst the cheesecake is made of a coconut cream substitute, it doesn’t taste overly coconut flavoured. The chocolate layer is lovely and thick, and works really well with the creamy layer underneath. As well as being vegan, the cheesecake is gluten free. The biscuit base has quite a buttery taste to it, but is probably more crumbly than you would normally expect in a cheesecake. However, still delicious, so no complaints here!

I’m also pleased to note that the Gu pots are the same size as a regular version, so no missing out. Its the perfect size, as quite rich and indulgent, as you would expect from our friends at Gu.

Here is hoping they bring out some more lactose free lovelies soon!

Rating: 5/5

Spotlight on…Oatly! (V, LF, DF)

It’s been a while since I featured one brand and their lovely lactose free products. Oatly have been around for a while, but I have only recently started using their products more regularly and have been really impressed.

My partner and I often adapt recipes to make them FODMAP friendly in order to still get a good variety. We found a new pasta recipe recently which called for creme fraiche. Unfortunately, I cannot tolerate this at all! Luckily, my local Tesco store had the Oatly version and we decided to give it a try. It was perfect for what we needed. The flavour is very close to dairy creme fraiche, if anything a little less sharp, which in my opinion is no bad thing! It has a lovely creamy consistency and is a dream to cook with – no curdling or any change to texture and taste.

As I have fallen in love with this, I decided to try a few other products from the range and see if they were as good. So far, I have not been disappointed. I have tried their vanilla custard, single cream and skinny milk. Here is a small round up of my thoughts.

Vanilla custard

This one isn’t pictured as I already used it all! But the carton size is about the same size as the cream and it is kept in the fridge. Personally, I think the size is perfect as I tend to be the only one eating it. I love lots of custard on my puddings but still struggle to get through larger cartons before they go off. This one is a perfect size for me. The flavour is lovely and creamy, not too sweet or over-powering. A great accompaniment to any crumble or pie!

Single cream

I haven’t tried this for a full range of uses yet, for example, as a cooking ingredient, so I cannot comment on some aspects of it. However, I have tried it on my crumble (yes, there is a theme to my blogs!!) and it was lovely. This is now my new favourite. Although the texture isn’t very thick, it is a single cream rather than double so it can be forgiven that. It has a nice subtle flavour to it, but still has that creaminess you would want.

Skinny milk

I had no idea that Oatly did a whole range of milk! I just assumed there would be one kind. Generally, I use Alpro soya and choose the light one, which is really low in calories, so I was pleased to see an equivalent in this range. As I am not a great lover of the flavour of milk, it is not something I would ever drink on it’s own – I tend to use it in tea, coffee or cooking. This Oatly skinny milk went really well in my tea, with a nice creamy taste. There is a difference in flavour between this and soya milk, so if you don’t love soya, it might be worth giving this a go. I found it a bit temperamental in coffee, sometimes curdling, but I have this problem with soya, too, so this is no drama for me, but could be if you are a heavy coffee drinker.

All in all, I’m really impressed with this range, and will definitely be trying out any new products I spot!

Rating: 5/5

Puddings and sweet treats galore! (V, LF, DF, GF)

Check out this lactose free lovely! A vegan hot chocolate made with oat milk and topped with soya whipped cream.

Today I met up with my friend in Nottingham for lunch. We then decided a dessert was required and decided to visit The Pudding Pantry.

https://www.thepuddingpantry.co.uk

I have been here a few times, and the range of lactose and dairy free goodies seems to grow each time. It has a very relaxed atmosphere and serves a range of light snacks, brunch, hot and cold drinks and puddings. Not everything is dairy or gluten free, but as I have already mentioned, there is a solid range.

This is my fully vegan dessert – a Biscoff gateau accompanied by vegan peanut butter and choc chip ice cream. As you can see, the portions of both are generous, and I couldn’t finish it, even though it was delicious! I think having this alongside the hot chocolate might have been a little too ambitious! I love the pretty china that is is served on as well.

My friend chose a banana sticky toffee pudding which was also vegan.


He said it was delicious, which is also a good endorsement from someone who does not intentionally avoid dairy. I thought I would include a picture even though I did not try it to illustrate the range available.

Neither of our desserts were gluten free, but there were gluten free options available, so something for everyone! Both soya and oat milk alternatives were available.

I shall definitely be visiting again…but maybe this time I will have to try and not cram in everything on the menu!!

Rating: 5/5

Perfectly dairy-free afternoon tea! (DF, LF)

Delicious afternoon tea – all for me!

Apologies for the picture on this one as it isn’t very clear. I hadn’t planned to put this on my blog, but then my partner suggested I did and I thought, why not?

Going for afternoon tea is one of my favourite things to do. Some friends suggested we go in the Easter holidays (we are all teachers) and we picked Dobbies Garden Centre. My friend booked and asked for one of the afternoon teas to be dairy free.

Now, it’s fair to say that I have had my fair share of disappointment when it comes to having my dietary requirements met during afternoon tea. The worst I came across was a Christmas afternoon tea where they gave me a hot cross bun (gluten free) instead of a scone! And scones are my favourite part of afternoon tea! So I was wondering how this one would turn out.

I was pleasantly surprised by my experience and would recommend Dobbies for a lactose free afternoon tea!

There was a good selection of cakes, including a meringue with some kind of dairy free cream (may have been buttercream) and berries, which had obviously been put together especially for me. As you might be able to see, there was also a dairy free millionaires shortbread and a chocolate cake – both delicious. Most importantly, I was provided with scones and jam which were perfect, and not a random hot cross bun in sight! Staff came to ask which sandwiches would be appropriate for me and I had a lovely selection from the fillings I told them I could eat. Soya milk available for my tea as well, which was great as I had forgotten to bring my supply with me on this occasion.

Although I did not ask for a gluten free afternoon tea, I would be confident in asking for this if I needed it due to the care and attention paid to my requirements for dairy free. Often, dairy free/gluten free meals out can feel second rate, but I can say with confidence that it’s not the case here.

So, enjoy a lovely lactose free afternoon tea at Dobbies, complete with delicious scones!

Rating: 5/5

Happy healthy tummies!

20180608_1854021932521224535180651.jpg

20180608_1854186579966659891245216.jpg The dairy free of the Yakault world!

Having had IBS for most of my life, one of the things that often gets recommended is probiotics. I am no expert in this at all, but safe to say that the dairy versions of yoghurt drinks containing probiotics are not suitable for me. I’ve tried probiotic capsules, but I find I never keep up with them.

In Sainsburys, I came across Biomel, which is a dairy free probiotic drink, so I thought I would give it a go.

Originally, you could only get plain and dark chocolate, but recently I have tried a salted caramel one, too. Personally, I like the chocolate one best. I wasn’t keen on the plain one and the salted caramel one is a bit sweet for my taste. But at least with a few different flavours in the range you can try them and see which you like best!

I haven’t been using these long enough to know if they are having an effect yet. I bought some recently as I am having some tummy troubles, despite my low fodmap diet and exercise. I would also caution the cost – they are quite expensive and can only be bought individually. However, it is nice to see that us lactose free (and vegan) lovelies are being thought of with our gut health at last! Let’s hope this catches on and more affordable options become available.

Muller corner lactose free (LF)

A few months ago, I saw online that Muller were going to be releasing a lactose free corner yoghurt in Asda, and have been looking for them ever since! On a recent trip to my local Asda, I finally found them, and decided to give them a try. They currently come in a pack of four (see pictures), in two flavours – strawberry and cherry. The two different flavours are a good choice. I follow the FODMAP diet and find cherries are often a problem for me, so strawberry is a perfect alternative choice. You probably can’t see from the photographs, but I do want to point out the great news that these are about the same size as a standard Muller corner, which is not often the case when companies decide to bring out a substitute for the lactase challenged among us!

I was so excited to peel back the lid and see the two compartments of delicious yoghurt and strawberry pieces! I decided not to put the whole lot of strawberry in the yoghurt at once, so that I could try the individual parts of the yoghurt as well as what they were like combined.

This yoghurt is definitely one of the tastiest I have had in a while. As I have mentioned before on this blog, daily yoghurt is one way that I ensure my calcium intake stays up, so I tend to try out a lot of different ones! The yoghurt was everything you would expect from Muller – thick, creamy and delicious. As a lactose free lovely who tends to stick to dairy alternatives (e.g. soya milk), I sometimes find lactose free dairy products to taste too creamy or too ‘animally’ (for want of a better word). I was expecting that with this yoghurt, but it was not the case at all – it just had a lovely taste to it, almost vanilla-like. The strawberry part also had a good flavour – sweet, but not overly so. The flavours went really well together, and the best way I can describe it was like a strawberry split ice cream flavour.

It was so nice to have such a luxury yoghurt for a change, and add something a bit special to my meal, without feeling that I had over indulged. I would completely recommend these. Hopefully Muller will continue to make them and being out a few more flavours, too.

Rating: 5/5

Vegan mac ‘n’ cheese (DF, V, LF, GF)

20180528_1935345293821187269365124.jpg
Delicious mac ‘n’ cheese without the dairy

This year has been a busy one. I am currently studying and working, splitting my time between two different cities and always backwards and forwards. I like to eat healthily, and due to having food intolerances, I tend to have to cook everything from scratch anyway. However, I have noticed a few more lactose free ready meals creeping onto the market recently. This has been really useful for when I am dashing between one thing and another, and its great to see these new ranges – previously there were a few gluten free, but very few dairy free.

I came across this ready meal in Tesco, and, at first was unsure about whether to give it a go. This, again, comes down to the vegan cheese element! But I am glad I gave it a go, as it turned out to be really tasty. You can cook the ready meal in the microwave or the oven. As I was in a rush, I cooked it in the microwave, which was both quick and easy, as you would expect.

The texture of the sauce was quite thick, which I personally liked, as it gave it a really authentic feel. It was just the right amount of creamy, without being too over powering. The same was true of the cheese flavour. It wasn’t too artificial and had a really good flavour to it for a vegan cheese. In the cheese sauce were little pieces of parsley, which was a fantastic touch. It really added another nice flavour to what could have been considered quite a plain dish.

I think you could use this as a bit of a base for other dishes if you wanted something more, for example, adding vegetables such as sweetcorn or some veggie bacon or veggie ham. Although I haven’t yet tried it, I imagine it would be a nice way to make the meal a little more interesting or substantial. However, on its own, it is still flavoursome and perfect for a quick go-to meal.

So, busy vegans and lactose free lovelies of the world – this is definitely one for you! And great news – Tesco often has an offer on these kind of ready meals, which is pretty rare for dietary requirement foods.

Rating: 5/5

Cheesey vegan bakes (DF, LF, V, GF)

 

Crispbakes with vegan cheese

When I first suspected that I was lactose intolerant, I decided to have a go at giving up dairy to see if it would help.  Back then, there was nowhere near the ever-growing range of dairy free or vegan products on the market.  And as most people will tell you, it is the cheese that you really miss!  Lactose-free dairy products were not a ‘thing’ back then, so it fell to the very few vegan options on the market to satisfy cheese cravings.  I have to say, these were not amazing at the time.  Recently, there has been a lot of new vegan cheese products launched onto the market, and I have decided to be brave and try a few of them!

I saw these on a trip to Sainsbury’s and was surprised to see that they were vegan as well as gluten free – usually these kind of bakes are gluten free, but made with dairy cheese sauce.  These crispbakes are made with potato, vegan cheese and spring onion, covered in gluten free breadcrumbs.

The texture of the crispbake was fantastic.  The outer coating was lovely and crispy, with a soft, melting middle.  Often, the melting properties of vegan cheese are not great, so the fact that this was more of a cheese sauce inside really helped with the texture.

Onto the all important flavour!  On the whole, I was quite impressed with the flavour.  You could taste all the different ingredients, such as the onion, potato, breadcrumbs and all-important cheese.  Together, they made a nice combination.  The cheese itself had quite a strong artificial cheese flavour, almost like you would find in a cheese-based crisp.  It did become a little sickly after a while, but as the crispbakes are not too big, this was not off-putting.  The fact it was an artificial cheese flavour is to be expected, with it not being dairy cheese, and I was pleasantly surprised by it all in all.  I definitely feel that vegan cheese has come a long way from when I first had it all those years ago!

I think it is great that more options are coming onto the market, especially ones which try to create new meal options and improvement of flavours.  Although I can’t say it is exactly like dairy cheese, it is definitely coming along nicely and is worth a try if you fancy something a bit different, that you don’t have to cook yourself from scratch!

Rating: 3/5

 

Refreshing ice cream for a hot day! (DF, V, LF, GF)

 

20180421_1649137803182228200176807.jpg
Delicious vegan ice cream – coconut and passion fruit Swedish Glace 

We have been blessed with a few hot days recently, so I thought it might be time for another delicious ice cream review.

As I have mentioned before, I am a huge fan of Swedish Glace and recently there have been a few new additions to their range.  This ice cream is one of them, and it was so delicious I had to share it with you.

I purchased the ice cream from Tesco, and it is vegan as well as gluten, dairy and lactose free, so can be enjoyed by all!  Additionally, it is made with coconut, rather than soya (although, please check the ingredients yourself if you are unable to eat soya products).

The fact that the ice cream is made with coconut gives it a different flavour to usual Swedish Glace, or other dairy-free ice creams.  It has a very creamy and refreshing flavour to it.  Although I was a little unsure how the passion fruit would taste with the coconut, I was pleasantly surprised.  The two flavours went well together, and neither flavour over-powered the other.  All in all, it was a refreshing blend. As always with Swedish Glace, the texture was soft and creamy.

When lactase challenged, you often have to miss out on luxury ice creams, such as Carte Dor, and settle for more plain flavours.  The fact that this ice cream had such an exotic flavour combination made it a real treat and gave it a luxurious feel.

I would recommend this ice cream, particularly with summer fruit, such as strawberries.

Rating: 5/5