Eat Seasonally Through The Apocalypse With A Veg Box

I really, really hope that one day when I grow up, I’ll have a garden of my very own with a vegetable patch where I can grow my own produce.

It’s so satisfying being able to yield your own produce and cook with fresh ingredients straight from the garden.

One of my fondest childhood memories is of being in the garden, helping my dad to harvest what he’d planted.

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Oh yes, I was a natural blonde. Butter wouldn’t melt . . . 

Bus alas, I live in London, Zone 2 to be precise and I’d have to be a multi millionaire to be able to afford my own house here, which unfortunately I’m not so for the most part I have to go to the supermarket for my veg and then it’s hard to know what’s in season.

One of the best ways to make sure you’re eating seasonally, eating food when it’s actually meant to be eaten is with weekly veg boxes.

I used to get one every week but as I live alone and don’t always eat at home, I was struggling not to have waste but I did love the surprise element of not knowing what was going to be in the box every week until I’d opened it, it’s was like the vegan equivalent of a kinder egg but without the toy and also the challenge of cooking with ingredients that sometimes I’d never even heard of before. 

Before I discovered veg boxes, If I’d have heard the word salsify, I would have thought it  was something that might be yelled at you if you were taking part in a duel at Hogwarts and I remember the first time I saw a kholrabi in my box and was convinced it had landed on the farm in a spaceship and stowed away in my box.

Well, due to the current Corvid 19, Corona induced panic buyer infested supermarkets at the moment, venturing back to one after standing for 50 minutes in a queue last week amidst the madness isn’t overly appealing so next week it’s Tower Green Hamlets to the rescue!

I have a medium box on order, it will be delivered straight to my door, no queues, no stress and all locally grown, seasonal, organic goodness.

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Boxes come in 3 sizes, there’s the option to add fruit supplements if you want and you can order weekly, fortnightly or monthly boxes or alternatively just order one off trial boxes whenever you fancy!

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If you’re East London based, check them out, they either deliver to your door or you can pick up from various drop off points.

The Best Vegan Burgers – BBQ Season

With demand comes supply and the shop aisles have never been better than right now for vegan burgers!

Vegans fall in to two categories, the ones who don’t eat meat and won’t eat anything that even mildly resembles it, whether it’s taste, texture or shape and the ones who don’t eat meat because they love animals but won’t deny they like the taste.

I fall in to the second category, before being vegan, I quite liked the taste of some meats but my love of animals was stronger than my desire to eat them and I found it easy to give up eating meat for that reason but as well as my diet now mainly consisting of lentils and vegetables, I welcome plant based substitutes to things like sausages and burgers, especially now with it coming up to BBQ season, well, you can take the girl out of Oz . . . 

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Of course there has been plenty of variety when it comes to vegan burgers for a while with bean burgers, jackfruit burgers and veggie burgers and generally I’m a fan of most of them but when it comes to throwing a burger on a BBQ, I personally want something that tastes real.

With the launch of the incredible Beyond Meat burger, the bandwagon was well and truly jumped on by all of the leading supermarkets and brands and as a result, the choice of vegan burgers that taste just like the real thing is mega!

Here are a few of my favourites!

1 Beyond Meat Burger

£5.50 for 2

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Tesco

These are just to die for, and the best thing? Nothing died to make them!

2 No Bull Burger

£2.00 for 2

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Iceland

The Iceland No Bull range also features Asian Burgers and Jalapeno Burgers and they do No Porkies Pulled Pork burgers, all of which are out of this world.

 

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3 Move Over Meat Revolution Burger

£4.00 for 2

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Waitrose

Waitrose rarely get it wrong and these are mouth wateringly good.

Linda McCartney Quarter Pounder

£2.00 for 2

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Most UK Supermarkets

As one of the first big meat free brands, it’s no surprise that these are tasty!

5 Quorn Ultimate Burger

A new product added by Quorn to their vegan range

£3.00 for 2

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Most UK Supermarkets

These are good but to live up to the ‘ultimate’ in the title, I was expecting more. They’re not all that different to the normal Quorn vegan burgers other than in size and don’t have the juicy realness that some other the other vegan burgers have.

For me, BBQ burgers are best served with salad, a slice of vegan cheese and ketchup in a seeded bun, yum!

Sweet Like Vegan Chocolate

Before turning vegan, I have to say, I was never really a chocoholic, I was always more in to pic n mix style sweets but there’s definitely something in where when you can’t have something, you want it more!

Well, do not fear, vegan chocolate is on the up and here are, in no particular order a few of my favourite brands.

vego

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For me, maybe best of the bunch, A German brand available in most health food stores, it’s one I’d definitely like to see available in the more mainstream supermarkets.

Full of hazlenuts and rich in flavour, Vego is not only vegan but also organic, gluten free and palm oil free!

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Vego also do a crunchy alternative to the non vegan and full of palm oil nutella – the only problem is trying to resist attacking the pot with a spoon!

Having said that, if you were to eat your way through 6 pots, you’d have 6 nice new drinking glasses . . .

moo free

Another of my favourites, British brand, Moo Free have a great range and are also vegan, organic, gluten free, palm oil free and also soya free.

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Moo Free are also really good when it comes to Easter with Easter eggs and themed bars and Christmas with specialty selection boxes and advent calendars all of which can be found not only in health food stores but in most supermarkets now too.

i-Choc

Exciting flavours, organically farmed cocoa and sustainable packaging put these in my top 5.

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I’m particularly fond of the white nougat crisp form this German brand!

So free

Chocolate produced by one of the oldest, established vegan brands, of course so free have gotten it so right!

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Again vegan, organic, gluten free and this time nut free as well as ethically sourced and British.

Sweet freedom

OK, so not technically chocolate as in, in bar form but I could leave this British brand off my list.

From fruit syrups to choc shots and choc pots as well as shake makers, I can’t get enough of Sweet Freedom.

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100% natural fruit syrups, low in calories, I have no idea how hey are made to taste so good, they just are!

If you’ve ever heard of ‘death by chocolate’ – this choc pot is literally to die for, it’s heaven in a tub!

And now for a limited time, there a mint choc shot available at Aldi, I was of course one of the first to rush out and make a purchase, I even got stuck in traffic because I forgot to look out of my window before I went out but was it worth it? Hell yes!!!

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Say Cheese

When I first made the vegan transition, the thing I thought I’d struggle the most with was cheese.

These days though, there are so many vegan cheese brands on the market, you’re really spoiled for choice.

Of course some are better than others and they’re not always cheap but then saying that, neither is normal cheese.

With cheeses made from coconut milk, cashew, macadamia and all other kinds of dairy free alternatives, there’s so much variety out there, from supermarket own brands to more artisan brands, going vegan doesn’t mean you have to go without!

In no particular order, theses are my top 5 vegan cheese brands.

Violife

A little plasticy in texture although I’m a fan of that, if you liked the texture of cheese strings then you’ll love this. The only problem for me is I can quite easily made my way through the block just by cutting slices off and nibbling . .  .

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Also with a Greek style cheese, perfect for crumbling over salads, a grateable Italian style hard cheese and mozzarella as just some of their range, Violife is one of my favourite brands.

 

Tyne Chease

A little more expensive, this artisan brand have 100% gotten it right!

Lots of variety and creamy textures, Tyne Chease is perfect for an after dinner party cheese board.

 

Personally, I love the pink peppercorn and mustard cheeses but you can get everything from Ethiopian spiced for an exotic flavour to macadamia truffle and sundried tomato cheeses.

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Bute Island

Long established brand Bute Island not only produce their famed range Sheese but have also teamed up with some of the UK’s leading supermarkets to make their own brands too.

 

The slightly crumbly texture of real cheese is there although the flavours tend not to be as strong. I find these work better when melted or in a sauce rather than on their own.

 

 

Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda’s ranges in conjunction with Bute Island all differ slightly in flavour with jalapeno chilli, smoked, blue and Wensleydale style cheeses as some of their offerings.

You can certainly make up a cheese board with them.

My absolute favourite of the supermarket own dairy free cheeses though is by far Tesco’s soft cheese with peppercorns. Pass me the table water biscuits right now!

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VBites 

Founded by Heather Mills, I’m a big fan of a slice of the pepperjack thrown in a bun with a meat free burger and the mozzarella is lovely sliced in a salad. 

 

The edam doesn’t quite have the texture of the real Dutch cheese but is flavoursome and at least you don’t have to peel off the wax!

Follow Your Heart

Maybe a little harder to find in a normal supermarket, this brand is up and coming and if like me, you love already sliced cheeses for sandwiches or to go in a bun with meat free burgers then there are lots of flavours to chose from and this brand get it right.