Vegan mac ‘n’ cheese (DF, V, LF, GF)

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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

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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)

 

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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

 

Swedish Glace caramel toffee cones. (DF, V, LF, GF)

What can I say?  I can’t resist an ice cream.  I have always been a lover of ice cream in the summer and I remember enjoying ice cream as a child from the ice cream van, or at the seaside.  As I got older and became diagnosed with lactose intolerance, finding ice cream I could eat became a rare treat, especially when I was first diagnosed, and the market for vegan treats was not as strong as it is today.  It seems that every year, new ice creams for us lactase challenged people are hitting the market, and I, for one, am always at the front of the queue to try them out!!

I came across these decadent cones in Tesco, and thought they would be worth a try, especially as I rate Swedish Glace ice cream in general for its creamy taste.  Although I was initially put off by the price, when I thought about it, I realised that they were not badly priced at all when compared with their cows’ milk counterparts, especially considering dairy free usually equals hilariously expensive!

The quality of the ice creams are totally worth it, anyway.  As can be seen from the picture, they are a chocolate-filled waffle cone (gluten free as well, bonus points), filled with toffee-flavoured ice cream and a caramel sauce centre.  The top of the ice cream is covered in a nice layer of dark chocolate.  The flavours go so well together, and the toffee ice cream has a lovely taste to it.  The sauce inside is quite generous, and adds another texture and flavour, as well as a bit more sweetness to it.  Even thought the cone is gluten free, it still tastes good, and for those who are not gluten free, you would not notice that this is a substitute.  I was quite pleased with the size of the ice cream, too, as often dairy free ones can be a bit on the small size, but there is enough here to satisfy a sweet tooth.

These also come in a strawberry flavour, with vanilla ice cream and a strawberry sauce.  This flavour it also nice, but personally, I prefer the toffee ones.

A perfect summer treat, and hopefully one that is here to stay!

Rating: 5/5

Milkshake without the moo! (DF, LF, V, GF)

 

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Dairy free flavoured milk!

Purchased from: Asda

Dairy/lactose free: Dairy free

Description of product: Flavoured soya milk drinks, available in strawberry, banana and chocolate.  From the ingredients, it seems as though it is vegan, although not stated on the packaging, so please check!

My review:

Missing out on calcium and vitamin b12 can be of concern when entering into a dairy free diet, whether for reasons of intolerance or though becoming vegan.  Fortified soya drinks are a good way to get what you need in the way of calcium and b12.  However, if, like me, you don’t enjoy the taste of milk, a glass of soya is out of the question!  That’s why I thought I’d try some of these flavoured milks from Asda.  It is also useful to know if you are thinking of extending the vegan beyond Veganuary.

So far I have only tried the banana one.  Banana is probably my favourite milkshake flavour, so I was excited to try it.

The banana flavour is quite artificial, but it does have a generally nice taste to it, and I can imagine that children would enjoy this one.  It is pretty sweet also.  The texture is quite thick, which I was surprised about with it being soya milk based.  Unfortunately, it does have quite a strong flavour of soya milk, which made it less enjoyable for me.  However, on the whole, I was quite happy with the product overall.  I would buy it again, and am looking forward to trying the strawberry one next!

Rating: 3/5

 

Alpro soya mango yoghurt (DF, LF, V)

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Purchased from: Tesco

Dairy/lactose free: Dairy free and suitable for vegans – happy Veganuary!

Description of product: A large pot of plain soya yoghurt with chunks of mango.  As the packaging states, it has more fruit and no added sugar.  (Maybe helpful for January dieters, as well!)

My review:

I like having yoghurts as a healthy snack, and to keep my calcium levels up, which is so important when avoiding dairy.  The range of dairy free yoghurts is expanding all the time, but it is still quite narrow when compared to their dairy equivalents.  So, it is always nice to see a new flavour on the market.

I was really impressed with this yoghurt.  I love mango, and was happy with the large chunks that came in this product.  Often, there can be a bit of scrimping on fruit in yoghurt, but not with this one.  Although there is no added sugar, the yoghurt is still sweet enough, probably due to the mango itself.

The texture of the yoghurt was lovely and creamy.  I don’t always find this the case with soya yoghurt, but it was definitely thick like a dairy yoghurt would be.

I like the fact you can get yoghurt in larger pots, as it means you can have a serving size of your choosing.

All in all, I really enjoyed this yoghurt and would highly recommend it.

Rating: 5/5

Hotel Chocolat – Classic hot chocolat (LF, DF)

I thought I would continue on the theme of hot chocolate for my first post of the year.  I was lucky enough to receive some for Christmas.

Purchased from: Hotel Chocolat

Dairy/lactose free: Dairy free.  I cannot see any gluten or dairy containing ingredients on the list, however, it does not say vegan or gluten free on the packaging, so please use caution if these things apply to you.

Description of product: Flakes of 70% dark cocoa hotel chocolat chocolate, which you can stir into hot milk to create a hot chocolate.

My review:

I was excited about trying this hot chocolate, especially as I love pretty much all things hotel chocolat, including a hot chocolate which I had when I visited Liverpool – here is the link if you want to check out my review of that:

Hotel Chocolat (DF, LF, V, GF)

The hot chocolate mix that I received was probably quite similar to this.  I loved that the mix was little flakes of chocolate, as it gave it a really luxurious and special feel to it, and makes it stand out from the usual powders that you buy.

I mixed mine with soya milk, which is my go-to milk alternative.  However, at their café, Hotel Chocolat use coconut milk, so I am sure it would work just as well with that.  In addition, because it is one you add to milk you could just as easily add it to cows’ milk for a friend who does consume dairy, or lactofree milk if you are lactose intolerant but prefer the taste of cows’ milk.

Once mixed, it does make for a delicious hot chocolate.  It has that rich chocolate taste which you associate with Hotel Chocolat and a great texture where it melts into the milk. As this is a dark hot chocolate, it does have a slightly less sweet taste than you might be used to.  If, like me, you are a bit of a dark chocolate addict, I don’t think you will find it problematic!  But if you have more of a sweet tooth, add some regular or vegan marshmallows, depending on your preference, and you will enjoy it just as much. (Tried and tested!!)

As regulars to my blog will know, I like to keep it positive and only add products that I have tried and enjoyed.  Whilst I cannot fault this hot chocolate in taste or texture, there were just a few logistical downsides which I feel I must mention.

As you can see from the picture, the hot chocolate comes in a cylindrical container.  Inside, the flakes ae kept in a small plastic packet.  Getting the flakes out of this packet can be a little bit tricky and a bit messy!  In addition, the instructions are quite precise about how to make it up.  This does make it a little more time consuming than I would like.

So, as long as you have plenty of time, I would highly recommend this hot chocolate.  I have enjoyed having it as my bed time drink.

Rating: 5/5

 

 

Instant hot chocolate recipe (DF, LF, V)

I just have to stress, this is NOT my recipe.  Instead, I include a link to it that I found on Pinterest, because I believe it is so good that every lactose free lovely needs to know about it!

https://livingwellmom.com/2017/01/homemade-hot-cocoa-mix/

Now, if you have been lactose or dairy free for a while, you will know how time consuming making a simple hot chocolate can be.  This is because the instant hot chocolate mixes that you just add hot water to all contain some kind of powdered milk.  So, in order to make one, you can only have drinking chocolate, which you can do one of two ways – with hot milk (bit of a faff) or with hot water (not that creamy).

This hot chocolate recipe has revolutionised all that!  It contains coconut powdered milk, so that you can make your very own hot chocolate mix, that you just need to add water to!  Fantastic for on the go, or if you are short of time.

I have made some, and it was quick and easy.  It makes lots, so if stored in an air-tight container will last quite some time.  And I can confirm it is absolutely delicious.  Lovely and creamy, sweet and, I would say, better than those instant hot chocolates which do contain dairy.  I thought it might be quite heavily coconut flavoured, but it really isn’t.

The only things I would say are, that next time I might use slightly less of the sugar, but that is probably only down to taste.  Also, it recommends adding three tablespoons to hot water to make it up, but I added 4 teaspoons and that was enough.  Here are the conversions from ‘cups’ that I used, in case that is of use to anyone:

1 cup of coconut sugar = 16 tablespoons of coconut sugar

3/4 cup of coconut milk powder = 12 tablespoons coconut milk powder

1/2 cup cocoa powder = 8 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

I found the coconut sugar and coconut milk powder at The Natural Food Company in Nottingham.  However, I later found some coconut milk powder at a larger Holland and Barratt store, so it is probably worth a look online.  One small jar of coconut sugar and one packet of coconut milk powder made one tub of instant hot chocolate powder, which looks like it will probably last me a while!  Also, whilst on my hunt for coconut powdered milk, I found powdered soya milk, so this might be worth a try for an alternative.

Let me know what you think if you give it a go!

Rating: 5/5

 

Wishing you all a dairy free Christmas!

I have to admit, I am really impressed by the amount of dairy free goodies available this year.  This is more of a round-up of what I have found, as I realise Christmas Eve is a little late to recommend these for Christmas!  However, have a look in the sale, you never know what might still be around, and why not enjoy the dairy free goodness into the New Year?

Asda

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Have already been enjoying these chocolate truffles.  A range of flavours, including white chocolate and raspberry, orange, salted caramel and vanilla.  All have deliciously creamy centres which melt in the mouth.  Dairy free.

Rating: 5/5

Tesco

No photo of this, but I did purchase a huge gluten and dairy free yule log.  I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks amazing and is big enough to share with the whole family.  Dairy free, gluten free.

Aldi

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Lovely dark chocolate nougat purchased from Aldi whilst out looking for Christmas treats.  Has a very creamy flavour to it, and is a really indulgent treat.  Would definitely recommend.  It is quite sickly, but at least that means it lasts longer…or you can share it with a dairy free friend!  Dairy free.

Rating: 4/5

Co-Op

Ok, a little disclaimer on these mini chocolate yule logs.  They are gluten free, but not completely dairy free.  They do contain butter, but this is considered low lactose, so some people with lactose intolerance can get away with eating things which contain it.  Obviously, this depends on your level of intolerance etc, so please make sure you check with a medical bod, or only eat if you know you are ok with it!

However, if you are, these really are one of the tastiest treats I have had this Christmas.  They are moist, creamy, indulgent and have a chocolate-fudge like texture to them.  I love the gold decoration on them.  Gluten free, low lactose.

Rating: 5/5

If you are unable to tolerate the butter, Co-Op are also offering cranberry and orange tiffin bites, which are dairy and gluten free.  I have not yet tried these, but if the yule logs are anything to go by, I think you would be onto a winner!

So, whatever treats you have this Christmas, enjoy and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a dairy free New Year!

 

 

Vegan and gluten free Costa Christmas! (DF, LF, V, GF)

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I have enjoyed lots of visits to Costa recently, trying out their Christmas coffee and hot chocolate selection.  I was excited to see this mince pie in their Christmas range and picked it up as an accompaniment to my hot drink.

Purchased from: Costa coffee

Dairy/lactose free: Dairy free

Description: Gluten and dairy free mince pie.

My review:

I have always enjoyed a mince pie at Christmas time, but dietary requirements don’t always make this an easy choice.  However, Costa have all bases covered with this vegan and gluten free version.

The pastry is quite flaky for a gluten free version, which I really liked.  It gave it the texture of an ordinary mince pie, which was definitely a bonus, as gluten free textures can sometimes be a little dense.  The filling was delicious, if a little sweet, and also kept the pastry moist. I don’t think you could tell this was dairy free as the tart as a whole tasted no different to a regular one.  The flavours went well together.

I like the presentation of the mince pie as well with the star on top.  It made it feel very luxurious and on a par with the other kinds of pastries that Costa sell – not always the way with free from versions.  The size of the tart is quite large and it definitely fills you up.  Although slightly more expensive than a regular mince pie might cost, I feel effort has been put in to make it just as good.  For this reason, I would buy it again.

So, don’t feel left out with the Christmas treats!  Have a mince pie at Costa.

Rating: 5/5