Hip Hip Hooray its my birthday day!

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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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….

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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…

Yay.

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.

 

 

Hello Scotland!

I’ve just returned from a weeks break up in Scotland and it was lovely, good gluten free food and lots of new treats found.

Ye olde prepper….

We went to Scotland last year also and we stayed at the same place so I knew what facilities were available in our little chalet. We have a small but totally perfect kitchen just enough for me to keep and prep food ready for my days out.

To be honest, apart from brewing up and a toast production line in the morning, I am the only person to use the kitchen as the others are all “normal” and eat out most days.

We stay at the Barend holiday lodges in near Dalbeattie, on site there is a small pub which serves food, nice food too.

Last year I made a big mistake on the first day and thought sod it i’m on holiday and had their gluten free broccoli and potato bake which had a ton of bloody melted cheese on, it tasted lovely but resulted in one very bloaty and grumpy lady for the entire week!

Why I though my allergies would go on holiday too when I was on holiday beats me!

Anyways, remembering that whopsy from last year this year I ate before going with the others for tea.

But I shouldn’t have.

The pub has added to their menu and now have a vegetable sizzler which contains red hot vegetables severed on a sizzly plate accompanied by rice and salad, yum!

Wakey, wakey rise and hoop….

Before heading up north, I popped into my local Sainsburys to grab some bits and bobs. Breakfast for me, especially on holiday, I find a bit of a nightmare.

I’m not the greatest cereal lover I tend to have porridge most mornings, but on holiday you feel like a change, well I know I do. Also you want to be up and out enjoying your day, so something quick is always good.

So whilst I was in Sainsburys I spotted their free from honey hoops and thought i’d give them a try.

They were worth the risk.

I really enjoyed them, they weren’t a strong honey taste but very tasty. That mix of crunchy cereal and cold(ish) milk was really pleasant.

(FYI I don’t like cold liquids, so I have room temp milk on my cereal)

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When I did have time in the morning to cook there is only one thing you can have on your jollys, a facon buttie!

On our first day we went to the local Tesco as no one else prepped, pfft!

Whilst I was their I picked up some gluten, milk, egg and wheat free bread. It was ok, not the best I’ve tasted and reminded me of the first gluten free bread that came into the shops. But was a good partner for Quorn’s vegetarian bacon strips, which made a well needed bacon buttie after the long drive.

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Out and about….

I’ve been to Scotland several time and each time I always tell myself I’m going to indulge in many battered things including the famous battered Mars bar. However, I’ve yet to try anything to wild and now that i’m gluten free and lactose free its almost impossible to find the naughty stuff.

Whilst out in Dumfries on the hunt for a Starbucks, we seen school kids wandering around with chips. And when the smell of chips gets up your nose you need them too.

We found out the kids were going to Pete’s in the centre of town so thought we would go too.

And what did I find only a gluten free menu!

Nothing to wild, no Mars bars, but they did have Gluten free potato fritters which I haven’t had in years!

So I had to have them, obviously.

It said 5 for £2.20, so I ordered them and was told it would be a 20 minuet wait as they cook all their gluten free options fresh and in a separate fryer. So i didn’t mind the wait.

When then the menu said 5 I presumed it would be 5 small fritters because 5 big ones would be silly, well call me silly because it was 5 big fritters!

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5 big fritters = a challenge. One I attempted to beat but was quickly defeated!

They were just how I imagined them, greasy with crunchy batter on the outside and squidgy hot potato on the inside. And no horrible after effects, except a full belly.

Pete’s is a must for us allergic folks, there attention to separation to reduce cross contaminate is really appreciated and their food is chip shop lovelyness.

Another good place to visit is Nikos’ Greek restaurant in Castle Douglas. My boyfriend’s family is of Greek origin so to find a family run Greek restaurant in the middle of Scotland was brilliant.

These guys serve traditional Greek food to eat in or take out.

I love Greek food, when I went to Greece a few years back I wasn’t Gluten free but was lactose free vegetarian and they have so many options.

Now I know I shouldn’t as I do have an intolerance to dairy, but halloumi saganaki is probably my favourite Greek dish. If you haven’t tried saganaki its a must, its fried cheese!

Nikos’ serve halloumi saganaki with roasted peppers, aubergine and courgettes.

Oh my Batman! It was a taste explosion in my mouth!

Nikos had cooked the traditional dish with green chillies which gave it a tingle but not a red hot effect and they surprised me with a gluten free pitta to eat it with too.

Absolutely beautiful!

A must visit, and seeing as we are going back to Scotland in September I feel another visit coming on. Maybe we will sit in this time and try the dining experience.

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And for pud….

Since visiting the Body power expo this year I’ve become obsessed with sorbet rather than ice cream. I think I may have convinced myself Its better for me as its fruity!

Which it isn’t by the way.

I found a lovely raspberry sorbet in Tesco whilst in Scotland which was perfect for snacking on after tea.

It was tangy but not eye rolling tangy, just right. Really flavoursome and totally vegan which is perfect!

Unfortunately I didn’t finish it, but thought I would bring it home, not thinking about the 3 hour drive home it kinda turned into raspberry soup so I may need to replace it now I’m back.

I also took my Schlagcreme soya squiry cream with me to go with fruit. I love tinned peaches and squiry cream.

It was amazing!

Normal dairy squirty cream is lovely but can make me ill but this stuff is tastier and better for me. Win win!

I don’t know if it was my portion sizing or the can size but it didn’t seem to last a long time. I got about 4 portions out of it, now it might be my portion sizes as I tend to go for a 10:1 ratio, 1 being the fruit so it ran out to quick.

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When in Rome….

As they say “when in Rome do what the Roman’s do”

Well, when in Scotland do what the Scottish do, and they do Irn bru.

I love Irn bru and basically live on it when im up there. I do buy it at home but It always seems better up there. Nothing beats it.

And I managed to get a couple of Crossfit sessions in to at Crossfit Castle Douglas, had to work off those bloody fritters somehow!

Scotland you were a hoot, see you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I scream, you scream, we all scream for gluten free vegan ice cream!

Sadness = empty ice cream tub….

To me nothing says happiness like ice cream!

The cream cold slurpy mixture makes me smile even on my darkest days, and apparently i’m not the only one who feels like this.

Every chick flix has a scene where the sad lady sits in her jammies eating ice cream to cheer herself up and you think pfft that’s a bit stereotypical yet how many of us reach for that little frozen tub of smiles when we need a pick me up, I know I do!

The problem is when that little tub causes more harm than good; you need your fix yet the fix will gain you an all assess pass to your bathroom for the next several hours.

However, the lactose free vegan gods have decided to shake up the rest of the land and now there are so many option available to fill our sad space with delicious ice cream.

But why does ice cream make us feel good?

Ice cream boost….

Research has been completed that shows the introduction of fatty food actually changes the chemical balance within your brain, fatty foods including ice cream.

One study showed that several individuals who were exposed to sad music and pictures showed changes in their brain activity when introduced to fatty foods and they changed for the better too.

There has also been a study that showed eating ice cream for breakfast can actually make your brain be more alert, lower your levels of mental irritation and improve your mental performance, win win!

However, lets think about it seriously though if we eat ice cream every time we were sad or each day for breakfast surely the sugar content would have a effect on your weight, also studies show that sugar makes you more lethargic and sluggish.

But could ice cream replace anti-depressant medication?

Maybe not, but I would most definitely prefer to dispense ice cream over medication!

So ice cream may not be the perfect solution to reducing depression but it certainly make people feel better at times, so what if you can’t eat milk ice cream and just fancy a little pick me up?

Vegan ice cream it is then!

To moo or not to moo that is the question….

I have been lactose intolerant for many many years, it came on quiet suddenly and at first I had no idea what was going on. I was having milk in my tea and on my cereal but I was becoming sick after certain milk containing items.

After speaking to my GP they suggested I go dairy free for several weeks and see if that makes a difference then re-introduce dairy and monitor the effects.

I noticed on starting to re-introduce dairy that for me anything hot with dairy in was the worse, tea, coffee, custard and my favourite creme brulee.

Soft cheeses killed me off for days yet harder cheese not so much, I tried to avoid the bad dairy and continue with the ones that weren’t so bad but they then started to affect me so I had to go totally lactose free.

However, after I found out I had an allergy to gluten and have gone gluten free my lactose intolerance has become more tolerant. I can now manage the cold hard dairy items so much better than before when I was eating gluten, however I have chosen to stick, as best possible, to a vegan diet as I feel better for it.

But I still need that fix!

That cream ice cream fix when i’m feeling low or just fancy it. So what’s out there for us gluten free vegans like me.

It’s soy good….

Ice cream can come in many forms, soft or hard, in a tub or on in a cone, on a pancake or going solo. For me I would eat it out of a shoe if I had too ice cream is my love!

My favourite and probably will be forever is soft serve mister whippy ice cream from the ice cream van, but I have yet to find a dairy free alternative for this. But I’ve found a close second in Swedish Glace’s smooth vanilla.

Its so creamy and smooth, with that oaty taste from the soy giving it flavour without tasting to savoury in your mouth.

I accidentally left this ice cream out of my freezer once and just in the fridge so it melted, not wanting to waste it I added a banana and blended them together to make the most delicious milkshake I have ever had!

These guys don’t just do vanilla tub ice cream they have a few different flavours and have ice lollys too. However, I have only ever seen the vanilla tubs in supermarkets; supermarkets tend to have 1 possible 2 items from each company and they seem to only stock Swedish glace’s vanilla tub. I really want to try their raspberry ice cream it looks amazing!

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Sorbet? Isn’t that just posh ice cream….

Sorbet has been around for many years but I’ve never wanted to try it to be honest, my dad told me it was a pallet cleaner used between courses to refresh your mouth. So why would I want it for my pudding?

Why, because it blinking lovely!

I’ve only recently tried sorbet whilst at the Body power convention last month, now I cant get enough of the stuff.

This weekend me a some Crossfit friends went to Cornwall for the One and all games after the competition was over we decided to visit a local beach as the weather was beautiful. As usual I wasn’t expecting to find anything suitable for me to have so was really surprised to find the local ice cream shop had 3 different vegan sorbet and gluten free cones!

Moomaids of Zennor was a little shop full of big surprises.

The staff were really friendly, they separate their gluten free products to reduce cross contamination and were very informative with their ingredients in the vegan sorbet.

I decided on their raspberry sorbet with a gluten free cone, I normal go for a tub but I thought if the option of a gluten free cone is there I should try it really, and so glad I did.

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It was so tasty!

The raspberry was a clean sharp taste but still has a creamy texture to it, I raved about it so much that a friend of mine who is having some issues with dairy chose their dark chocolate vegan sorbet over regularly ice cream and said it tasted amazing!

This shop is a definite stop if your ever at Porthtowen Beach, id go back to this beach just for the ice cream if i’m honest!

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On the go fix….

I don’t know where you are right now in the world reading this but here in the UK were having a lovely time with our weather, its so sunny and what goes best with sun but ice cream.

I had a lovely moment last week when I was in my local Tesco express. I had gone in to buy ice cream for the boys as a treat, not expecting to find anything for myself as I almost never do in express stores. I think everyone had the same idea because the  freezer was empty except for some little green boxes.

Little did I know these little green boxes were filled with Walls Cornetto gluten free vegan ice cream cones!

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Made with soy these gluten free vegan cones were perfection on a hot day in a body shop. Cornetto were always a favourite for me as a kid, more for the cornet rather than the ice cream if i’m honest, especially for the chocolate bit at the bottom!

These Cornetto did not disappoint, it was like I was a kid again. And what made it best was the lads did not mind the gluten free cone or vegan ice cream, they enjoyed it as much as I did.

They weren’t to badly priced either at just over £3 for 4 ice creams in comparison to a single Corentto which is nearly £2!

I may have to stock up in my freezer with these bad boys.

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Lets just hope this lovely weather continues so I can continue enjoying my ice creams.

Like bad weather would stop me!

Ice cream for the win!

 

 

 

 

 

Body Power Expo-Birmingham

I love expo’s….

So this weekend I attended the Body power expo in Birmingham NEC with some crossfit friends. We wanted to go to see the attractions and stalls see what they could offer us.

Me, I went for the food!

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I love expos and conventions as its free sample heaven!

Also it’s where you can normally find really unique stalls which often sell the best goodies.

I was interested in what the expo could offer a gluten free vegan. Vegan diets seem to be the new thing at the moment which is a bit annoying as most folks now when presume when I say vegan/gluten free I’m doing it because it’s fashionable not because I have allergies.

So as it’s the new “fashion” I wanted to see what the fitness communities take would be on it.

I wasn’t expecting a lot from the expo, food wise, as most people involved in fitness to a high level are on diets which are really highly protein lead. Protein in muscle building is essential. Protein helps with muscle growth and repair so is really important for fitness. According to one site I require approx 184g of protein a day to build and maintain muscle. 

However, you try getting the amount of protein you need when you eat like a squirrel!

Currently I supplement my diet with protein shakes. My go to suppliers are My Protein, they do a soy isolate protein which is both vegan and gluten free and comes in a few tasty flavours. My current choice is there vanilla flavoured on as it can be mixed into lots of things as well as just a shake.

Mmmmm milkshakes, well kind of….

The expo was huge and there was so many stalls to look at but I had my gluten free vegan radar on high beam and was scouting for stalls and goodies!

One of the first stalls I found that produced allergy appropriate food was the Bulk Powders stand. These guys had a huge stand filled with lots of different products but they had one entire side of their stand solely for their new vegan range which is also gluten free!

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Unfortunately their new range only comes in 2 main flavours at the moment; banana and chocolate. They had free samples of their banana caramel shake and their chocolate peanut and obviously I tried both as it would be rude not too! The flavours were nice, not to dominant but enough to make the protein flavour less obvious. However, they both seemed powdery in the mouth. They also had some free samples of their new vegan protein bars, once again they were banana and chocolate coconut. I don’t normally enjoy protein bars and prefer the bars with nuts and seeds in, but these were classic style as I would call them. Both flavours were nice, not to dissimilar to the shakes. The texture of these bars weren’t to my liking I have to admit, they were a powdery texture and tasted powdery too. But ignoring the powdery texture the flavours were pleasant, not to strong but noticeable. On average their gluten free vegan bars have 21g of protein in each 74g serving.

I don’t think I would purchase these for myself but I can see why others would as the flavours are nice and I’m really looking forward to see what Bulk Powders new vegan range will become.

Pulsin are a brand I’ve eaten many times before so was really happy to see a familiar face at the expo. Pulsin make some really nice gluten free vegan protein bars that come in a range of flavours. I’ve tried a few flavours that I’ve brought in my local shops but the expo stand had some I’ve not seen before like vanilla choc chip and maple & peanut. The texture of protein bars are all really similar despite the change in flavours, I haven’t tried the oat bars so couldn’t comment on them, but the protein bars are a squidgy texture and have a similar taste to each other too. The flavours are very subtle; personally I like a more dominant flavour but what flavours come through are pleasant. On average their protein bars have about 12.5g of protein and 6g of sugar per 50g bar.

Well now I have had my protein bar for my starters for my main there’s nothing that can beat a protein packed gluten free vegan pizza and Muscle food has the best!

Beef up the vegan way….

The Muscle food stall was so dominant at the expo, they had huge pizza pictures up which instantly caught your attention because who would think you could clean eat a pizza. The smells coming from there stall was enough to make your mouth water instantly, however the ques were big, but worth the wait.

The pizzas were made in a little pizza oven and served in individual pizza boxes, the only issue was there was no seating are so we had to stand with our boxes. My vegan pizza had mushrooms, tomatoes, vegan cheese and what tasted like caramelised onions, it was so tasty and the base was thin and floppy not dry at all. I’d never heard of Muscle food before the expo but I went onto their website later as we had got some coupons from them at the expo, and they have a really good range of products but unfortunately not the vegan gluten free protein pizza but they do have the bases to make your own which I think I shall be purchasing soon.

Kettlebell kitchen was also at the expo, now I’ve heard so much about these guys and my crossfit friends rave about them. Unfortunately the ques for the food were really long and by this point in the day the hangry monster was out for some of us and ques were not what we wanted. However, I did manage to sneak a few photos of their menu and it looked really tasty. But there was some confusion for me, now correct me if im wrong but I’ve yet to find a gluten free and vegan Quorn meat replacement. I love Quorn but if I want it I have to choose between vegan or gluten free as their gluten free products have egg in them and the vegan ones have gluten. Seeing as I have an allergy to gluten I have to go gluten free.

So how have Kettlebell kitchen managed it?

I really wanted to ask the guys at Kettlebell kitchen but I got whisked away, because if there was a mix up it could be really bad for some folks or if they have found a gluten free vegan Quorn option I want in!

Now for my favourite part of any meal……..the pudding!

I scream , you scream, we all scream for sorbet?….

I don’t know about you guys but I go through phases where all I crave are certain foods and I could eat them all day every day, this time the cravings are for ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream!

But I’ve only even known eateries and especially stalls at conventions to only have sorbet as the vegan option for ice cream which I’m normally not a fan off. There are lots of dairy free ice creams on the market yet sorbet is what most folks offer. But not at this expo the amazing folks at Yogland have magiced up a gluten free vegan frozen dessert which is a sorbet but doesn’t taste like one at all. Its pure magic and tastes like a magic person made it!

Move over Harry there is a new wizard in town!

There was only 2 options for vegans; mango and strawberry and banana. As I have issues with mango so that’s out. Like most expo’s people are giving free samples and coupons out to everyone, I picked up a free topping coupon for these guys so I chose the strawberry and banana sorbet topped with fresh raspberries.

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Blinky yummy is an understatement!

It was so creamy and packed full of flavours, the tanginess of the strawberry was a sharp tingle which match the soft texture of the dessert perfectly. Now I was a good girl and only had a single scoop but I bet I could finish of a tub given the chance. I have been onto their website to see if they sell that particular flavour, unfortunately they don’t but they have many other flavoured frozen yogurts which they state can be made dairy free. All their yogurts appear to be gluten free and low in sugar and on average 10g of protein per serving which I presume is per scoop. Some of the sorbets advertised on their website have between 4g – 10g of protein in them, I’d be interested to see if there advertised yogurts once switched to vegan have the same amount of protein in them as they do with dairy.

I feel a test purchase coming up!

Overall the Body power expo was a super good day, full of new foods to try and lots of great stalls and inspirational people to meet. And I will most defiantly using my coupons for some online discount shopping!

Any day with ice cream is a good day!

 

 

Vegan life, live!

Yay! A trip out….

Today we went to Vegan life live at Event City in Manchester. I have been looking forward to this for ages as its a joy to be able to go somewhere I can (almost) eat anything I want without the worry of meaty bits creeping in!

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Vegan life live was running for 2 days, I found the vegan area of the arena a little small but full of brilliant food, beauty and household stalls. It was in the same arena as the om yoga show and the mind body soul experience. So it was a fantastic mix of my kind of people.

We didn’t just go to the vegan show we experienced it all, and found some stall mixed in with the other shows that were really nice.

Polly want a cracker….

Oh the food!

There were so many different food stalls; from take home options to eat in to home ordering. And most of the stalls had samples so you could nibble your way around!

We walked around first to see what was what before returning to get a really good look. One of the first stall we went to is one of my go to essentials foods, Nairn’s.

Nairn’s a brand which make oatcakes, breakfast biscuits and little nibbles. I pretty much have a packet of Nairn’s gluten free oatcakes in every handbag I own. As they come in little packets perfect for on the go nibbling.

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These little gems are a brilliant base for cheeses, pâtés and gorgeous for dipping in a nice soup, or just on there own! You can pick a box up from almost all good supermarkets and they make both gluten free and gluten containing products.

The 3 S’s. Seeds, sweeties and sausages….

I love a good seed! Pumpkin… Sesame… Sunflower…

The Toasted Seed company make, as they say, “crunchy snacks bursting with natural flavour” There flavoured seeds come in all sorts of different flavours and can be used to spice up any dish, or just to snack on.

One of the next stalls we bumped into is a favourite naughty snack of mine, Candy kittens.

Not just for the gluten free vegans, my meat eating gluten accepting boyfriend loves these too!

Candy kitten sweets are squidgy and full of flavour; they have sweets that are both vegan and gluten free which is always a welcome. Their stall at Vegan life live was so cute! It had a lovely light and was packed with lots of products in there cute kitty wrappers!

Sweets + kitties = Winner!

I completed a questionnaire whilst I was talking to the girls which landed me a free sample bag of their sour watermelon sweets, which I ate about 2! I did say he liked their sweets!

Heck sausages are something I have yet to try. I have seen them in my local supermarket but haven’t brought them yet. And I have no idea why because the look and smell fabulous! Unfortunately I cant eat one of there products, the super green sausages, due to it containing mint, which I have an allergy too but there Beet goes on sausages sound really nice. And a definitely purchase when I next go shopping. I didn’t get them today I was staying out longer and the need to be refrigerated. They also do a original and with cranberry sauerkraut which is both dairy and gluten free. I haven’t seen this sauerkraut in my local supermarkets and currently its out of stock online but I shall be watching it to come back so I can give it a try.

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The wall of love….

At the show they had what I’m calling the wall of love, it was a wall they asked folks to write on it why they are vegan. I call myself vegan when people ask as it easier to say gluten free vegan than a gluten free lactose intolerant vegetarian.

But I admit, I do eat a cheeky bit of cheese here and there. Which I shouldn’t and am currently suffering due to slipping of the wagon!

I was thinking what could I write that is totally true to me, so this emerge in my brain….

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No lies. All truth. Sorry.

Chocoholic’s anonymous….

Hi, my names Katie and I’m addicted to chocolate.

I was always a sweetie girl until puberty hit and then, oh hello naughty little bars of goodness! Unfortunately, at the same time my lactose intolerance turned up which meant I craved that what made me ill.

At that time, many moons ago, vegan chocolate was almost unknown, well to me it was. Which meant I either ate it and suffered or did without. And would you like to deal with a hormonal teenager craving chocolate? No, me either.

So to find nowadays lots of different gluten free and vegan chocolates its heaven.

I believe that we need to take care of our bodies and fuel them with healthy nutritious food, but I also believe that we need treats too. We cant always be good and shouldn’t punish ourselves for that.

A lot of the vegan chocolates I have found are bars. All different flavours, but in a bar. Which is good but sometimes you crave the different. Well did I find the different….

The Vegan choc shop  have made one of my most favourite non-vegan well known chocolate.

A walnut whip! And it was huge!

Now I understand that handmade vegan chocolates can be a little pricey but these were worth the cost just to try it, but it would have to be a treat due to the cost for me personally. It was so delicious though; super chocolatey and filled with a bubbly interior which didn’t have the texture or taste of the brand walnut whip but really really nice.

And super fun to eat as it melted everywhere and i felt like a kid again!

Another chocolate stall I found and just as we were leaving too was the Conscious organic raw handmade chocolate company. I’ve had raw chocolate before and I really like it, but only in small amounts as I find it really rich. They have many different flavours including an alcohol infused chocolate selection. I’ve had alcohol infused chocolates before, not vegan ones however, and to be honest I really didn’t like them. I spotted their cheeky cherry brandy bar initially as I love cherry foods, but really didn’t fancy the brandy aspect. Then I noticed their non-alcoholic cheeky cherry bar. Yup, a purchase was made instantly! I had a little sample whilst I was paying and it was as expected, rich, full of flavour and melt in your mouth tastiness!

Food glorious food, hot vegan and lovely….

The Vegan life live show had a specific area where you could purchase what I’d call “street food” and sit and relax to eat it. However, it was rammed, as expected, but the smalls were phenomenal!

It was an overload for the nose!

Unfortunately, after walking around and reading every menu, although everything was vegan a large amount of the stalls had very little or no gluten free options. However from a distance I seen it, my most favourite food in the entire world, no universe……tofu!

If I had to live on one thing for ever it would be tofu. Weirdly I only started eating tofu a few years back and kick myself for missing out for so long.

The Herbivorous stall have not so many options and I think all had a gluten free option if not already gluten free but they all sounded stupidly tasty. But, I fell into the love trap from my tofu addiction and went for there satay and smoked tofu burger with caramelised onion, crunchy peanut satay and citrus carrots. Although it stated burger, which wasn’t gluten free they swapped it for a gluten free wrap with no issues. I couldn’t sit down, but didn’t want to to be honest there was to much to see, so I took it as takeaway. What a mixture in my mouth, the squidgy marinated tofu mixed with the sharpness of the carrots and the crunch of the peanut satay was divine.

I ate to my hearts content!

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Whip, whip, hooray!….

I have been searching for vegan squirty cream since I  knew it existed and today they search is over!

The Newcastle vegan health food store had a little random store full of lot of different foods, shoes and bits and bobs. And what did I find there but my Schlagfix vegan squirty cream. I picked up most of my purchased items today from this stall. It had so many different foods I’ve never seen or even heard of before, which means I had to have them! From these guys I got my cream, of course, some Kuhbonbon vegan caramels and some Cleo’s peanut butter cups. The owner of the store was super friendly and actually hugged a customer to thank them for there custom! These guys not only have a shop the do delivery too and anywhere in the UK. I have a feeling I may be a new customer, wonder if next time I’ll get a hug?

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Everything and everyone else….

I’d love to sit here and tell you guys every stall we visited and all the interesting people we spoke too but unless your up for read the next volume of war and peace I will just add some photos and websites for you to peruse at your leisure.

Oh, and I won a free meal at Wagamamas!

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www.slabfudge.co.uk

www.bigjuiceltd.net

 

Team vegan for the win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate eggs all round!

HAPPY EASTER FOLKS….

And like all good festive occasions around hear its a day of eating, drinking and stretchy pants!

We have been invited to a friends house this Easter for dinner, but due to work it was a last minuet job so I am bringing the gluten free stuff and topping it up with there vegan extras. So its a good job i’m a happy prepper and always have something I can take to a friends last minuet.

Tasty nibbles….

Our friends live in a little town up in them there hills with no big shops, so I wouldn’t expect to find a shop that specialises in vegan and gluten free foods, yet there is one. I have yet to go being Easter and only just finding out about it but trust me a trip there is in the pipe line.

My friend however, went and stocked up!

For nibbles and from the shop of dreams I had kale crackers and mushroom pâté.

I love pâté I could eat it with everything, so to be able to find a gluten free and vegan option is amazing! It was so creamy and tasted of mushrooms, not a fake taste but the real deal. The kale crackers were crunchy but not dry and made a perfect partner for the pâté and were lovely just on there own too.

The nibbles are meant to be that, just nibbles before the main meal but the crackers and pâté were so good I basically woofed them down.

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A roast for all…

Normally when I have a roast dinner I don’t bother with a meat alternative because lots and lots of veggies suits me fine. But this time I happened to have a Quorn roast in my freezer which is a delicious alternative to a roasted meat. I cooked mine before heading out to our friend, for no other reason than it was easier to do that.

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Quorn roast has a sweet but subtitle taste, however it can be a little dry due to its denseness so I would advice a little moisture to go with it, be it gravy, mayo of any other sauce.

I made my other half try it as everyone was picking on it due to its lack of colour and it shape (you don’t want to know what they were saying!) but once they tasted it apparently its just like chicken!

Wouldn’t know can’t remember that taste

all I know is that a Quorn roast is delicious hot and cold!

To go with our meal my friend searched the supermarkets for a suitable drink. I shocked her at Christmas by saying I would have a cup of tea with my meal so this Easter she has found me a gluten free, vegan non-alcoholic wine.

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My friend is a wine expert and loves Co-op wines and I have to agree their non-alcohol wine was beautiful. It was a crisp and refreshing drink to accompany a quite heavy meal.

Eggs galore, or not…

For many years the family have swapped Easter eggs, this year they have struggled to find a suitable egg for me one that has no allergens in and is worth the money. I know they are around but those I have seen are either very expensive, mini or both!

I cant understand why gluten free vegan eggs are so expensive.

I have seen some in several of the big supermarkets, but there very small vegan/gluten free chocolate eggs with nothing in it, so just a thin piece of chocolate basically and they were nearly £3. Or you can get a medium and sometimes a large size non-vegan egg which are normally gluten free with extra bits for the same price if not less.

I just don’t get it!

So instead of eggs I decided to make cakes for everyone and myself in turn.

Cakey bakey….

When I think Easter I think cute bunnies, baby chicks and carrots. Lots and lots of carrots.

So what to make for everyone but a nice and chunky gluten and lactose free carrot cake. I was going to make it vegan but i’m still trying to find and egg replacement that works for what I need.

I don’t often make carrot cake, i’m more of a sponge cupcake kinda girl, but after this little beauty I think I will be making it more often.

It was a beautiful mix of moisture and flavour, most gluten free cakes are crumbly in nature compared to “normal” cakes but this recipe worked really well with my gluten free flour.

For this I used Asda’s free from self raising flour, but any of the free from flours would work perfectly. For the cream cheese topping I used a mix of lactose free and vegan alternatives from Arla and Pure free from.

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And what goes best with cake?

Well more cakes obviously!

So to accompany the carrot cake I made cornflake cakes using Asda’s free from cornflakes. Unfortunately they were made with dairy chocolate so there not for me, well not in the masses anyways. I added little extras in the chocolate including caramel, cherries and the best one peanut butter, yum yum!

Cornflake cakes are such a simple but tasty cake, 2 or 3 ingredients and that’s it. Not all tasty treats have to be complicated to make.

I will be looking out for vegan cooking chocolate or larger bars of vegan chocolate that wont cost the earth so I can make them again and scoff!

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This Easter was just how I imagined it, full of delicious foods and drinks, happy family and friends and what better than finding a new shop to explore!

I shall be visiting the shop soon for a visit and no doubt a big shop but if you want a nosey find these guys online;

 

Happy Easter folks….

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Will my shampoo make me poo?….

A question I’ve been asking myself for a while now after seeing multiple TV adverts stating their products are now free from gluten. But does this really affect those of us with allergies or intolerance to gluten or is it just a marketing thing.

I have been nursing for many years and I know your entire body is linked up, including what you put on your skin effecting what goes on on internally. We use topical pharmaceuticals regularly for issues on the inside, so its not un-questionable that the beauty products we use could be causing issues inside too.

But can a shampoo containing gluten really make us sick? And does it make a difference depending if were allergic or intolerant?

So whats the difference….

People with a allergies to gluten will often say there “allergic” and go no further with the conversation, that’s what I do. I don’t have the time to explain to folks about my past with the anaemia and the failed Coeliac’s tests leading me to a gluten free lifestyle. However, there are several different gluten “allergies” each with a different range of symptoms and reactions.

  • Coeliac’s Disease: Firstly this condition isn’t actually an allergy. Although most people will say it is because its easier for others to understand it that way. Its actually an autoimmune disorder; if digested, gluten will trigger a immune reaction in the lining of the small intestines causing damage. There is no “cure” to coeliac’s the symptoms and damage are reduced by eating a gluten free diet.

 

  • Gluten intolerance:  Is a phrase people tend use when they have a negative result to the coeliac’s tests yet are still have issues with gluten. Folk’s like this are now being diagnosed with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.

 

  • Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity:  Coeliac Disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity are not the same. Those with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity will  have a negative blood test result for coeliac but have all the same symptoms. However, it does not cause major damage to the small intestines but some will have minimal damage that will reduce with a gluten free diet.

 

  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis: Also known as “gluten rash”. Dermatitis herpertifomis is a red and very itchy skin rash that appears when gluten is consumed. Most people would associate a rash caused by something as a allergy, but like Coeliac’s disease it is a autoimmune reaction to gluten. A gluten free diet will help reduce the rash.

 

  • Wheat allergy: Is an allergy to wheat, not gluten. Gluten free contains no wheat, rye or barley. Those with wheat allergies cant have wheat but usually have no issues with barley or rye.

 

So will your gluten beauty products make you ill….

Simple answer is no.

However, as most allergies, auto immune reactions and intolerance are due to digestion of gluten maybe avoid lip balms, dental products and products that go around the mouth that contain gluten just in case. Dermatitis herpetiformis is a skin reaction to gluten but has shown it wont be affected by topical gluten containing products.

Gluten is known for its ability to hold together and provide elasticity so is perfect for hair sprays and other products. But is not needed. There are many gluten free beauty products that work just as good as those containing gluten.

So its a personal choice.

I have issues with gluten, lactose and many other things but so far i have had no issues with beauty products including shampoos and hair dyes containing gluten. However, I am now more vigilant about the ingredients used in my products and have become a beauty product label checker.

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If you do have any issues with beauty products, gluten free or containing gluten please see your health care professional for a formal assessment.

Your safe to use what you like to achieve your perfect hair do, just don’t eat it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m confused….

My love….

Dining out is one of my greatest loves, always has been. So when I had to change my diet to include gluten free as well as my choice to be vegetarian and my lactose intolerance I genuinely thought, well that’s my dining out stopped!

It was hard enough to find places to eat to accommodate 2 restrictions, adding in the 3rd was really hard. However, it appears the UK and the rest have the world have caught up and now can provide vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options.

The problem is its becoming a minefield of folders and tablets, gluten free and non-gluten and hundreds of “oh, you’ll have to speak to the manager” conversations!

So whats the issue….

So far I’ve bumped into 3 different terms when dining out:

  • Gluten free
  • Very low levels of Gluten
  • non-gluten

So what is the difference?

The law….

In 2012 a new law was put in place that stated all products must be labelled with their gluten contents. The law covered all food from factory packed to cafes.

According to the law any product described as “gluten free” must contain less than 20 parts per million or less of gluten or less; “very low gluten” must be 100 parts per million of gluten or less; “non-gluten” foods are food that do not contain gluten deliberately but may have it in due to cross contamination, manufacturing processes or preparation areas.

So depending on your severity of your gluten allergy depends on how ridged you need to be.

For myself, as I am currently not formally diagnosed as having Coeliac Disease I like to be very careful about the amount of gluten I have. I try to stick to gluten free or low gluten choices. However, I have eaten from establishments from their non-gluten free menus with variable results.

The confusion….

All these different terms can be confusing, not helped by a folder being shoved under your nose or a tablet to scan through, the pressure can be annoying!

However, we need to know the differences as for some it can be dangerous to be contaminated. Recently I took a trip out with the fam and we stopped at a road side Starbucks. I have had many a Starbucks in my life as its my favourite coffee shop, but this day the establishment we went to was very busy and the servers appeared rushed off their feet. We ordered coffee and I always like to order mine because I then know I’ve remembered to say soya and decaf, then I always re check after the order has been taken and made. This day I didn’t re ask after it was made and as you can guess they gave me caffeinated coffee, which I have a big problem with. I spent the next several hours feeling super unwell and away from home anxiety ridden as I was at first unsure why I was feeling so unwell. So its not just us that can get confused, so we need to make sure we are hyper vigilant when It comes to our allergies.

Obvious? I think not….

One of the best ways you can make sure your meal is within the law for gluten free is by looking for this symbol:

GF accrediation

This is the Coeliac’s UK Gluten free label. This symbols means the menu is gluten free in the eyes of the law and the eatery meets all the standard required to make/prepare gluten free food and the staff have the appropriate training. I have seen this symbol in a few restaurants but most just gluten free or non- gluten on the menus.

What I have found is that when I am ordering some place I can not order from a “normal” server I have to order from the manager, which can add to the embarrassment and sometimes the waiting time. I understand that they want to make sure that my order is dealt with thoroughly but jeebs how to make someone feel even more different!

Due to the changes in the law all food producers must clearly write if there is risk of contamination, for example no separate areas for gluten free preparation, therefor at risk of contamination.

Which they do, occasionally.

I’ve found most of the bigger establishment do write in small writing on there menus, however smaller establishment either tell you on ordering or don’t and you have to ask.

Either way I tend to ask.

 

 

I love dining out and am super happy that I can as restaurants and eateries are making it easier and safer for us with allergies to do so with support from changes in the law. However, with changes in the laws comes added confusion, so be vigilant and be wise in your choices and if your unsure don’t risk it.

Eat safe and be merry!

 

Amsterdam baby yer!

New year New travels….

So this year, right at the very beginning of it to be honest, me and 3 friends decided to go to Amsterdam on a mini cruise. My friend booked it as it was her idea and i’m poo at planning stuff. We planned to train it up to Newcastle to catch the ferry over to Amsterdam, stay there for the day and then ferry and train it back.

Sounded lovely, few days away with friends travelling on trains, which FYI are my favourite mode of transport, and a ferry trip on top of that to visiting Amsterdam.

However, knowing I was going to be away from my food securities of my kitchen and local shops was a little anxiety provoking.  But I did as all good allergic eaters do I prepped; and I prepped better than when I went Disney, lesson learnt!

The prep….

I wasn’t to concerned with the train aspect of our travels as it was still in the UK and we did have a few change overs so good pick up some goodies at those stops. It was the ferry that was worrying me the most.

I asked my friend about the facilities that were in our cabin on board the ferry, but she was unsure. We knew we’d book a window room but that was it. On checking the DFDS  site our cabin did not have tea making facilities, so no kettle. Nor did it have a mini fridge or anything like that.

Which limited my food choices right down.

I could only take food which didn’t require hot water or a fridge. Thinking about it now I probably could have taken food which need hot water, I bet if i’d asked they would have filled it up for me at one of the restaraunts even if I had to pay for the water.

But, thinking the worse I prepped accordingly.

So in my bag I had:

Love Corn BBQ flavoured, tasty little corn nibbles in a resealable bag,

Beeches vegan dark chocolate bar,

Meridian peanut and cocoa bar, I got mine from Aldi,

Morrisons moroccan falafals,

Oranges, apples and a banana.

The falafals stated they must be kept in a fridge, however, it was freezing outside and I though I would take the risk. I kept them in my bag and in the cabin and they were lovely, but I would not advice people to store them incorrectly, always follow the labels storage advice.

Its travelling time…

I met my friends on the West Midland train up to Liverpool, our first stop, we weren’t in Liverpool that long but the girls went into the Marks and Spencer in the station for some nibbles, I had a look but there was nothing for both a gluten free and vegan diet, good job I food prepped!

Then we got our Virgin train up to Newcastle, the train up to Newcastle did have a tea and coffee cart but I didn’t look at its contents so not sure if the carts are allergic friendly.

In Newcastle we decided to grab some dinner before heading onto our ferry. We stopped at Frankie and Bennys  and trying to stick to my gluten free vegan diet I chose the mushroom burger. The burger was goats cheese, mushroom and red pepper and all the fluffy stuff.   So I asked for it without the goats cheese and mayo, no issues. On paper you’d think it would be a bit dry with no mayo or cheese but it was surprisingly moist and blinking delicious!

Ahoy mateys….

My friend booked us on the DFDS mini cruise from Newcastle to Amsterdam and back. The ferry its self seemed really spacious, we booked into a seaview cabin for 2. However, our cabin was really small, it was in need of a freshen up and appeared dirty.  However, we were only in the cabin for a few hours so we headed out to explore the rest of the ship. There was several restaurant and diners to eat in so it didn’t seem an issue initially to find me something to eat, as were all now starving form the travels so far.

On  the crossing over to Amsterdam we decided to visit a few of the restaurant before choosing which one to eat in. We had chatted about the ferry and all knew it was going to be expensive to eat on there, another reason I food prepped, but I don’t think we expected it to be as much as it was. The all you can eat buffet in the Explorers kitchen was nearly €30 per person, so we decided to go to another restaurant. I think it was called the Lighthouse cafe.

It was a small restaurant but a busy one, it server items like burgers, chips and sandwiches. There was no options for me apart from chips, what a shocker.

I asked about the chips and they were gluten free, so I ordered them. I know i’d food prepped but it was the 2nd of January freezing cold and raining and you know when you just need hot food even if it is chips, again.

And blinking heck did I get some chips!

The bowl was massive! It was about €7 I think and it could have been 4 peoples meal, and they were lovely. So lovely that I took the rest I couldn’t finish up to the cabin and ate them throughout the evening.

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The Dam….

We reached port at 9am in Amsterdam, oh it was a loooooong night. We hit a terrible storm which made the journey less than smooth so I was happy to be on land. The girls didn’t want breakfast, and to be honest neither did I after that journey we had, so after passport control we boarded a bus to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is a beautiful city full of hustle and bustle, I’ve been there once before as just vegetarian and had no issues as they have all the big eateries being a city. But I’ve not been as a gluten free vegetarian currently vegan due to her body hating her and stopping her eating milk, diet.

Firstly I must explain, we booked this cruise understanding it was overnight travel and a day in Amsterdam and over night travel again. However, what we didn’t realise or understand is that yes its a “day” in Amsterdam but that day is cut down dramatically by passport control and travel. Meaning by time we had got off the ferry and been through passport control then a bus trip into the centre we had all of 3 hours to visit Amsterdam before having to head back.

So, to save time the girls popped into McDonalds. I can eat in McDonalds but no shocker only the chips and having eaten my weight and everyone else’s weight in chips last night I needed food. Proper food.

So whilst they were in McDonalds I noticed a shop called Albert Heijn which looked to be filled with fruits and salads and yummy stuff.

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I did do some research on how to say gluten free, vegan and vegetarian in Dutch and saved them to my phone, but what I found made me smile.

In the store they had the ingredients in Dutch but they also had pictures of what was in it on the packaging!

As I already had some “food” in my bag I decided on a smoothie, some water and a tub of strawberries.

Also in the store was lots of salads, pastas, more fruit drinks, fresh bread (not for me obviously but it smelt amazing!) and snacks. Initially I brought just the one smoothie and as we were walking around Amsterdam I was enjoying it so much I decided on getting another 2 on the way back. Throughout the day I was nibbling on my falafals, corn and snack bars but thought I would try another restaurant on the ferry back so didn’t search out any proper meals.

There are lots of little streets in Amsterdam with vendors which sell pancakes and waffles, hundreds of chip sellers and the big eateries like McDonalds, Subway and KFC. As we were so short for time I didn’t search for any specific vegan, vegetarian or gluten free places to eat but i’m sure there will be some. But if you are in Amsterdam Albert Heijn is definitely a place to pop into.

Home awaits….

So after our short trip into Amsterdam we headed back onto the ship. If i thought the journey to Amsterdam was bad this one was horrendous. The journey was so bad it made me that ill that I couldn’t leave the cabin, nor could I eat anything. I drank water and rested that’s all I could do for many hours. The girls wanted to grab some breakfast, I did not but felt well enough to walk to the buffet with them. The buffet opened about 7am but we headed down around 8am, I asked if I could see what options they had before paying. I wasn’t going to eat but I wanted to see their options.

I was shocked.

I understand we were 1 hour into the serving but I read the labels to see what would have been there on the missing trays and it was the same as what was left. There “gluten free station” consisted of rice crackers and cereal which would have cost me €14! Erm….nope!

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Once we had docked we headed back to Newcastle train station, by this point I felt somewhat better but I knew I needed to eat so we popped into the Sainsburys shop at the station to pick up a few items to snack on. There wasn’t much options but what I did get was just enough. I picked up a Alpro protein yogurt (my new addiction!), a banana and some hummus to go with my 2 last falafals.

How I made 9 falafals last 3 days i have no idea!

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The Alpro protein yogurt must be the nicest yogurt I have ever tried. Its the thickest creamiest yogurt ever.

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It is a little expensive for the size of it as you can get a 500g yogurt from Alrpo for almost the same price in some stores. However, I can justify the cost for the taste and texture it was perfect for a post ferry snack.

So lessons learnt….

Amsterdam is a beautiful city and definitely needs more than 3 hours to explore. If you sail with DFDS you can eat your weight in chips for a good prices, 9 falafals can last 3 days and don’t mix smoothies with choppy seas!

Oh and I met a cat who was asleep in some socks in a shop!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety, food and the fight….

Why?….

When I tell folks what I do for a living they seem to always ask why mental health? Why not “regular” nursing? Like mental health nursing is a bad thing to have studied.

My answer is always, I like to help those with less obvious issues. I can see a broken leg and fix it with a plaster cast, I cant fix schizophrenia with a plaster cast. People then appear to understand. But they don’t.

As that statement is only partly true.

The real reason I studied mental health nursing is I wanted to support those in the mental health system, as I am in the mental health system too. I chose mental health nursing because I can relate, I know (to a degree) how some people feel when they say certain things, I can see there struggle and understand.

I suffer with an anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and been told, but not formally diagnoses, that I am on the autistic spectrum. And I am currently in what I like to call a “anxiety blip”. I’m trying to sell my house and recently started a new job and the combo has thrown me.

I don’t do change well.

Change to me is horrendously anxiety producing; its totally confusing to my mind and not my regular comforting safe place I have built to support me.

 

There are multiple schools of thought on how to face/challenge anxiety, some will work for you some wont. And you need to find what does and these techniques help.

The challenge….

When I feel anxious or concerned for some reason or no reason at times, I want to challenge it.

I tell myself  “right miss, pull up your sleeves and take it on like its the biggest bully in the school and you’re about to whoop its arse!”

It says “no you cant go Asda today it’s to anxiety provoking” I say “pfft, i’m going” and yes I feel like utter poo and most definitely look it and might need a buddy to come with me at first but I will challenge you.

It cripples me with fear at times with the thought of going into the kitchen to prepare food and eat it, I question why, there appears to be no reason so I challenge it.

However,

The acceptance….

The best way I have come to understand me is I’ve accepted me.

I accept some days will be worse than others, I accepts that my brain doesn’t appear to understand somethings other people do, I’ve come to accept that there will be days where I need more support than normal to challenge it and I don’t feel bad about myself for that.

And for me this works.

I don’t eat….

When I am anxious I don’t eat and I barely drink. Now as a nurse and a general human being I understand the risk of not eating and drinking but at times the logical person inside is over ruled by the anxiety. I can go for hours and at time days without eating a proper meal when I am unwell.

And I see this also in the people I support; its as if there is a unseen barrier just stopping you from getting up and making food.

It is understood that those suffering with mental health problems are at higher risk of neglecting there physical health. And at times I can see why. If you cant make food you will just eat whats available or easy to obtain.

And I don’t know of any take-away salad bars yet, do you?

Fortunately, so far I am aware of my mental health declining and I can prepare. I can prepare food which is re-heatable, easily obtainable and no hassle to make.

Fridge lasagna….

Last week knowing I wasn’t feeling to well I decided to make gluten free vegan fridge lasagna. Now normally I would make it gluten free and vegetarian but I have been trying veganism since before Christmas and its been going okish so I made this one vegan.

Fridge lasagna was an idea I came up with few years back to use all the left over stuff in my fridge, never 2 are to alike and there bloody yummy! I make them quite regularly so I know even when i’m not feeling 100% I can knock one out quickly and it will last for a few days so I haven’t got to worry about making food each day.

For the one I made last week I used Asda’s free from lasagna sheets and free from white lasagna sauce, Violife vegan cheese, some pasata and tomarto puree from Aldi and fridge stuff. Which included a courgette, half an aubergine, a onion, half a tin of chickpeas, a tin of mixed beans, some baby corn and a few frozen spouts left over from Christmas.

I cook the vegetables for a bit first before mixing them with the pasata, tomarto puree and seasoning then start to layer. Asda’s free from lasagna sheets do not need to be cooked first so you can just start to build on the veggie mix. Vegetables, pasta then white sauce and repeat till you’ve filled your tray. Then I topped it off with Violife vegan cheese, which initially smell a little funny have to admit and alone didn’t taste the best, but I am new to the vegan cheese market, once I grated it on top and it tasted perfectly fine with the lasagna.

I made quiet a big one but it will last a couple of days if you keep it in the fridge. To re-heat I placed some on a microwaveable plate and heated for 4 mins test then a further few minuets depending on your microwave. Make sure it is piping hot before eating.

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Vegan curry….

Once again trying to stick to my vegan diet I tried free from korma from Asda. It was just the sauce so I added some mushrooms. Now I was feeling a bit better that day hence the effort to make and cook fresh mushrooms but you can buy lots of different types of vegetable that are frozen or pre-cooked just needing a ping in the microwave. And I always have frozen veggies in my freezer as an essential item.

I peeled and chopped my mushrooms, yes I peel mushrooms, and cooked them in the tiniest amount of Pure soya spread, then added them to the korma sauce, cooked until hot then poured over some rice. I used boil in a bag rice that day, however, the day after I used a 2 minuet rice bag in the microwave as the effort of cooking was not in me that day even if it was just watching a pot and re-heated the korma in the microwave too.

Microwavable rice is always a good store cupboard essential. It can be used for many dishes and there is no effort to it.

Asda’s free from korma sauce was delicious, however, on cooking it seemed a little watery and lacking in thickness. I like my curries thick and fully of flavour. Now the Asda korma wasn’t lacking in flavour one bit but it was in texture. So I added a smidgen of flour paste (a tea spoon of free from flour and water mix into a paste) and some Alpro single cream. Oh boy was it tasty! thick and tasty!

4 ingredients a little bit of effort and you have a super tasty meal for 2 days.

 

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The taste of gluten free Italy….

Now I haven’t made this recently or vegan yet but It is one of my quick and easy meals where I don’t have to think I can just cook.

It’s a gluten free lactose free carbonara. Its made using Quorn bacon strips or as we call them facon, free from pasta, Arla lactofree soft cheese and whatever you wish. Maybe mushrooms or sweetcorn or I like avocado.

Its simple to make and super tasty.

Boil the pasta, whilst that’s cooking spray a tiny bit of cooking spray onto a frying pan and cook the facon, which takes a minuet or so each side. Chop up the facon, once the pastas cooked, drain and add the facon and a scoop of cheese, season and cook until the cheese has turned into a sauce like consistency and is hot of course. Now I add the avocado right at the last minuet as I like the mix of hot pasta and cold avocado but If you were adding vegetable you would need to cook them first then add when you add the facon.

And that’s it. 2 pans about 10 minuets and one big old bowl of loveliness. And I will definitely be trying this very soon vegan style!

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I hope me sharing my story has aloud you a peep inside the mind of someone with a mental health issue and that it shows you that the minimalist of tasks others take for granted can be the greatest of achievement for many people. Mental health is not embarrassing and should not be shamed. If you need to talk to someone please do.

Here are some numbers and website you can find help, support or just someone to talk to:

 

Stay strong, if you cant be safe….