Our Day at the Liverpool Live A Better Life Fair 2014!

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As you all probably know from my recent postings, I’ve been looking forward the the LABL fair for quite a while! The fair finally took place on Saturday and we managed to spend the majority of the day there. There were so many stalls that it would have been impossible to show you them all but here is a summary of our day.

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One of our favourite stalls was Ananda Foods which sold all manner of vegan marshmallow delights as well as toffee popcorn! I came home with a bag of toffee popcorn and a caramel chocolate mallow lolly. I’ll let you know how I get on!

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You may remember me raving about Mr Popple’s the last time I went to the LABL fair. The raw chocolate he produces is the creamiest I’ve had and the cherry bar went down a treat last year. This time I tried the flower power bar as I was interested in what a flower covered bar would be like. I liked it more than I was expecting to but I wasn’t overly sure about the texture of the flowers. I came away with the safer options of Euphoric Orange and Uplifting Mint & Lime. Watch this space!

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The Vegan Tuck Box stall was very exciting! Here I found some Ten Acre Cheese & Onion crisps as well as the Chicken Soup flavour. If you’ve never tried these you should check out my review as they are amazing. These can be bought on the Vegan Tuck Box website. I also had a chat with the ladies at the stall about how a gluten free vegan would go about ordering a box. They told me that if you let them know you are gluten free they may be able to take out the gluten containing foods and double up on some of the safe options. I’m definitely going to be giving this a go so I will let you know how I get on!

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Koko dairy free were a big star of the fair as they were giving out samples of their three flavours! Unfortunately they sold out of the strawberry flavour in the first hour but I came away with an original carton as well as two chocolate cartons. I already use the original variety near enough daily but I’m looking forward to trying the chocolate flavour in some recipes. The woman behind the stall suggested chocolate custard… something that got me very excited!

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I also came home with two cupcakes from Captain Cakeman and two from Ms Cupcake. Captain Cakeman are a really friendly company which asked their facebook fans which flavours they wanted bringing. Their mint chocolate ones looked amazing but I came back with a vanilla and chocolate and a lemon raspberry which were both gluten free. Ms Cupcake seem like a larger company as they have a huge range of cakes! All of theirs are gluten free and they also make vegan lemon curd. From here I had a sticky toffee cake and a strawberry shortcake one. Watch this space for reviews!

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I decided to be brave and buy my lunch at the fair rather than bringing it with me as I usually would. There was a raw caterer which was serving up a variety of wraps, pizza and cheesecakes. I had a toasted wrap with cashew cheese, nut meat and salad which was extremely delicious! Steven went for a more unhealthy option of some Ten Acre crisps and a big slice of vegan chocolate cake! There were also caterers serving up curry dishes and Vegusto were there selling hotdogs too.

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After lunch we went to an eye opening talk by Neil Robinson on vegan health and fitness. As an ex Everton player he was really knowledgeable about how you can be an sportsman on a vegan diet. Afterwards there was a smoothie demo from Neil and from Tim Barford of Yaoh which was highly amusing and gave us a chance to taste some delicious smoothies! Neil will be talking at some of the biggest vegan festivals this year so check out his website to find out more.

Altogether we had a fabulous day with visits to other stalls including News From Nowhere, Barnett’s Wholefoods, The RSPB, The Green Party and loads more. Now I’m counting down to the next fair which is on Saturday 11th April 2015! As always you can find more photos of our day on my Facebook page.

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Were you at the fair? What goodies did you come away with?

Allotment Adventures

Wow, it’s been a while hasn’t it? I’m sorry I’ve not posted in a while, my laptop no longer works which makes it increasingly hard to blog! I’ve got exciting news since I’ve been gone though. I’ve been working non stop on the allotment which is finally starting to look more like an allotment and less like a forest.

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The photo on the left was taken when we first chose our plot. It was one of the wettest and windiest days of the year… a great day for allotment hunting! As you can see we have made real progress but there is still a lot to be done. We started by cutting down the taller weeds so we could at least get onto the plot. We then began digging down to get as many of the woody roots out as possible. I have also acquired a shed which you can see in the top right corner. We just need to figure out how to put it up now!

I’ll be keeping you all updated with the progress of the allotment and hopefully we’ll have some vegetables planted soon! To see more pictures of our adventures check out the Vegan Beckles Facebook page!

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Liverpool Live A Better Life (LABL) Fair – April 2014!

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You may remember that last year I attended the first LABL in Liverpool where I spent the day sampling goodies and talking to stall holders. I came home with bags full of delicious food to remember it by too! I’m excited to tell you all about the next fair which is taking place on Saturday 12th April 2014! This fair will have all of the brilliant things that the last one had plus some extras. I’m particularly looking forward to the film screenings and cookery demos and it has been announced that ex-everton player Neil Robinson will be talking about how it’s possible to be a footballer on a plant based diet.

Watch this space for further updates!

Chocolate Enlightenment from Ombar

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When I was in Manchester a few weeks ago I took advantage of a brilliant wholefood shop on Oxford Road. My small wholefoods shop near here doesn’t have as an impressive range of vegan snacks and treats so I easily filled my basket with £30 worth of chocolate, hummus chips and nakd bars!

This Ombar was one of my finds that I was excited to try. I’ve seen other flavours from this brand before but as a huge fan of strawberries, this one really caught my eye. Ombars are raw chocolate bars which are infused with natural ingredients, coconut sugar and bio live cultures. This makes them a healthier alternative to many vegan chocolates and a snack you can feel good about! The coconut sugar is used as it is more sustainable than processed sugar and is collected from trees in Java by the local farmers. It’s also a lot better for your body!

The chocolate bars come in six pieces (I’ve already eaten half of the one in the photo above!) and I thought the bar was quite expensive for the amount of chocolate you get. However the richness of the coconut flavour meant that I could only manage a few bits in one sitting which is great for portion control and for your purse. The strawberry flavour was prominent, unlike some other strawberries bars I’ve tried, and the chocolate had a lovely creamy texture which is very similar to non-vegan milk chocolate.

I’ll definitely be trying the other flavours in the range as this bar is slightly too rich for my tastes. The range includes Cranberry & Mandarin, Coco Mylk, Lemon & Green Tea, Coconut 60%, Goji Berry, Acai & Blueberry and Dark 72%. Find out more from the Ombar website.

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What are your favourite raw chocolates?

Ten Acre Crisps – Gluten Free and Vegan! (Part 1)

I try to stick to a whole food diet most of the time but anyone who knows me will know my one weakness is crisps. I’m a connoisseur of the ready salted variety which is usually the only option to a gluten free vegan in this country. I do often think back to the days when I had a wide choice of flavours, my favourites being cheese and onion, smoky bacon and prawn cocktail. Licking the flavoured orange powder off my fingers afterwards was especially delightful. I was therefore very excited when I came across a brand of crisps called Ten Acre.

Although not widely available, this relatively new brand is available in selected shops. All of the eight flavours are suitable for vegans (even the cheese and onion!) and are also gluten and MSG free. They each have a quirky tale attached to them which you can read on the brilliant Ten Acre website. I’ve never seen such an interactive and intriguing website to advertise food before! A few months ago I was lucky enough to be sent some of these crisps to review and eagerly ripped open the package when they arrived! Here I will talk about four of the flavours I tried but please check back next week for the other four!

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The first flavour I tried was “The Secret of Mr Salt” which would have been the one I’d have picked up first in the shop as it’s my old standby flavour! The texture of the crisps is what struck me most here. At first I thought they were rather on the thin side but once I started eating them I realised how perfect the thickness was. They were extremely crunchy and morish and had just enough salt on them. These would be a firm favourite if they were available close to me! I soon moved onto the more adventurous flavours though…

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“How Chicken Soup Saved The Day” were amongst my favourites of the bunch. I loved Roast Chicken flavour crisps as a child so these were very exciting. Obviously these crisps are vegan and so contain no real chicken flavour. This makes them the perfect replacement for the vegetarians/vegans who are now being deprived of Walkers Roast Chicken flavour due to the real meat juices contained in them! The flavourings in these crisps focus mostly on the herbs parsley and sage. The flavour is deliciously savoury and remarkably chicken like! To see the rest of the ingredients and read the story behind the Chicken Soup click here.

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One of my favourite flavours of crisps used to be sweet chilli (I’m mainly thinking of Walkers Sensations!) so I thought I knew what to expect here. However while Sensations were very spicy to my palate, “When The Chilli Got Sweet” was a slightly sweeter flavour. This meant that the flavour could come through better and you could eat them forever without your mouth burning!

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When Hickory Got BBQ’d” was another of my favourites. These gorgeous crisps are flavoured with paprika, cayenne and smoke flavourings and capture the perfect BBQ flavour! Another example of how a traditionally meaty crisp can be vegan!

Please check back next week when I’ll be reviewing the other four flavours – cheese and onion, salt and vinegar, sweet & sour and bombay.

Have you tried Ten Acre Crisps yet? If not which flavour are you most interested in?

Summer Peaches Gummy Sweets (Vegan and Gluten Free!)

When I first went vegetarian I didn’t realise that I would have to give up my beloved Haribo sweets due to the gelatine inside and the beeswax coating the outside. Once I’d given them up I was already on the search for a replacement and came across a company called Goody Good Stuff. Their range of sweets are all vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free with no artificial colourings. They are therefore suitable for a huge range of dietary requirements and are perfect for children who are feeling left out due to specific diets or allergies.

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At the moment only four of the range are suitable for vegans due to the beeswax which coats the smoother sweets. It took the company 15 years to perfect their recipe and they are now looking into vegan alternatives for their smooth sweets. To find out more about this please have a look at the statement on their website.

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My favourite of all of the Goody Good Stuff sweets are the Summer Peaches. They are covered in sugar and are therefore vegan but they are not sour as the rest of the vegan range are. The gorgeous gummy discs taste of the fruit salad sweets I used to adore as a child and the sugar reminds me of fruit pastilles! These are a delicious sweet treat and are not like any other vegan sweet I’ve ever tried. Goody Good Stuff are clearly the leaders of the vegan sweet market!

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Have you tried Goody Good Stuff? Which are your favourites?

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*Note – These sweets were provided as a sample by Goody Good Stuff but these views are my own.*