It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to ….
Well guys its happened, this gluten free, lactose intolerant basically vegan but still says vegetarian is at the top of 30 mountain looking at the downward slope to 40 town and i’m ok(ish) about it.
I say ok(ish) because for me birthdays are a a bit of a guilty feeling day; especially if I celebrate them. My mam passed away from COPD in April 2008 and I find birthdays partially hard to celebrate as I feel guilty for enjoying a day that without my mam squeezing me out it wouldn’t be actually be celebration day.
Combine that with the effort of finding a restaurant or party buffet planning or just food in general to cater for all my needs it can be a bit of a mental health nightmare.
Just what a girl wants on her birthday: guilt, anxiety and hunger pains!
This year was different however,
This year my delightful boyfriend planned a training course weekend doing something I love, vinyl car wrapping at Hexis training centre!
Now what has this got to do with food you ask? Well the actual course itself, nothing. But I still needed to eat and it is my birthday which means one thing CAKE!
Cake, cake and more bloody cake….
Now like any good girlfriend I did some subtle hinting to the man about my birthday and what I wanted, cake. I wanted cake.
I try normally to keep “treats” to a minimum as I see no point in working my ass off at Crossfit to the fill it back up with rubbish. However, I do have them. As there appears to be no benefit to my mental health by stopping them all together, I’ve tried stopping altogether and it made me sad. I enjoy food and i’m not afraid to say that, even the naughty stuff. So a little bit now and then does do wonders for the soul.
And this birthday my soul wanted chocolate cake.
I did hint/told him I wanted the free from Carl the caterpillar cake from Tesco as every vegan loves nomming on a naughty little caterpillar on her birthday.
Instead, I got the most delicious free from chocolate cake from Sainsburys, oh my Batman it was good!
My boyfriend surprised me with it at dinner break on day 1 of the course, hes such a good one as he did it quietly so no one noticed as he knows I hate attention especially on my birthday.
The cake was a beautiful chocolatey circle of frosting with a rectangle of chocolate just plopped on top which got demolished about 2 seconds out of the box!
It said serves 10, so I offered it out to my fellow car vinyl folks, nope no takers oh well more for me!
No joke when I say it was 9 pieces to me 1 to my boyfriend, I did say I like cake! Obviously the 9 was not consumed in 1 day, it took like 2 ish maybe.
This cake covers everything, wheat free, gluten free, nut free and milk free! Winner!
The cake was really tasty, it had that classic chocolate taste to it, chocolate and nothing else. No fancy flavour combos or random textures just a classic chocolate cake. However, like a lot a store brought cakes it was a little dry. Now I don’t know if its a certain ingredient they need to put into the cake to preserve it so its shelf life is longer or just because its probably sat on a shelf longer than a home made cake would but that’s what I have found with a lot of store brought cakes, even gluten filled ones. This cake however had plenty of chocolate frosting so the dryness was easily managed by scooping some of the cream up too. My suggestion to Sainsburys and all major stores add more frosting! you can not go wrong with a bigger frosting to cake ratio! Well I cant anyways.
Unfortunately, this cake isn’t vegan as they have added egg into the ingredients. But for the effort he (his mum) put in to finding me a cake that’s not going to make me sick or bloat or worse mid-course I can not thank them enough.
Oh and not like I would suggest this but this cake managed to travel there and back to Litchfield in a car in this beautiful hot weather were having, a day in my bag in a lunch box and a day at work in my bag all un-refrigerated and still tasted as good as it did on the first day!
Tonight we dine….
Seeing as we were out of town having a birthday training weekend we decided to go out for tea. One of my favourite big chain restaurants is Frankie and Benny’s. I find my anxiety reduces surrounding food when I know there are certain big chain restaurants around, because the hunt for food is only minuets away.
Since for yonks I have loved this place, unfortunate the love was slightly shattered when I was told I was gluten intolerant as their garlic bread was to die for and now I cant have it.
However, these guys have quite a nice gluten free range and have a gluten free vegan option too which isn’t just a salad! And pudding’s!
I don’t know about you guys but I find starters a nightmare! No one seems to do a good gluten free vegan starter. Except, olives which unfortunately I hate. However, what I have started doing is having a side dish for a starter. This time I choose the tried and trusted corn on the cob!
As I am still trying my darnedest to stay on a vegan diet, so for my mains I opted for their vegan Arrabita, which is pasta with red peppers, red onion, green chillies (which i’m currently obsessed with thanks too Nikos) in a spicy tomato and garlic sauce.
Well, it was nice. Super nice.
I have to admit normally when i’m having pasta with a tomato based sauce in need cheese on top, but this dish didn’t require that. It was really tasty and tbh I think cheese would have spoilt it (never thought I would say cheese could spoil anything!). Now a good crusty bread smothered in butter to accompany it would have been perfect. Good portion size too.
Now for the puds! These guys had quiet a few tasty looking puddings and I’d have probably had several if I hadn’t already demolished 3/4 of a chocolate cake during the day and half of them aren’t vegan. But up to my old tricks again I asked if I could swap a few ingredients around to make them vegan, no problems.
I decided on the peaches and cream sundae, but swapped the vanilla ice cream for the lemon sorbet. I really like sorbet and I like lemon desserts but I’m not 100% sure on lemon sorbet. I’m not sure if it was the mixture between the peaches and lemon or just the lemon but it was a little bit to much for me. The shortbread which was hidden throughout though was lovely. It’s probably not a flavour combo i’d mix again and I can imagine the peaches with ice cream being really nice, maybe the restaurants will start serving vegan ice cream as an option soon, hint hint!
The morning after….
Breakfast makes me anxious! For me its the worse meal of the day to fine whilst out. For some reason people freak when thinking of breakfast options, why? There is lots out there just look and you will find.
For our break we stayed at The Cathedral Hotel in Litchfiled. I booked through an internet site, so once it was confirmed I called and informed them of my allergies as breakfast was included. The morning of breakfast we wondered down to the dining room and set out was a continental breakfast spread. It looked ok actually, not the best I’ve seen but ok. Unfortunately there was only fruit available for me on this spread, which looked a bit dry so I opted out. We sat down and was asked what we would like of the cooked breakfast items. I explained I had called ahead and she stated that they were prepared for me and offered me the vegetarian breakfast, which included eggs, hash browns and veggie sausages. I love hash browns, there a all time favourite of mine. But I know there normally chucked into a fryer which has had Batman knows what in in and is hella cross contaminated! But I asked if i could have any of those items and was informed I couldn’t. The lady serving us was so nice and hospitable, she explained that I could have the beans, tomato and mushrooms and they have some gluten free bread in for toast if I wanted that. So I ended up with 2 slices of dry toast as they didn’t have vegan spread, and this….
Yep, half a tomato, 2 and a half mushrooms, about 2 spoons of beans. Wow.
Luckily the lady was nice and brought me some more mushrooms out, not many probably another 3 though. So I tucked in and tbh what was there was nice, it was just so unimpressive compared to what my boyfriend had which was the whole shebang.
People! If you are offering gluten free or vegan meals make them appealing! If you cant find all the ingredients to match an “normal” meal at least make it big enough to enjoy. A bloody gnome would have been hungry still after this portion!
Hooray? Yay or nay…
It was a lovely birthday spent with minimal anxiety and guilt, my favourite human consuming my weight in cake and pasta, watching films in a heatwave wave and qualifying as a Hexis trained vinyl wrapper. Perfect.