Wednesday, November 30, 2011


So Nandos have come to Dublin. We've heard some positive feedback from other people, both vegan and non-vegan, about this chain of restaurants so decided to give the one on Mary Street a shot. It predominantly serves chicken, but also has a lot of vegan dishes on its menu. I don't normally like to go to a place which is associated so widely with serving meat, but as they seem to cater so well for vegetarians and vegans and use separate cooking areas and utensils for vegetarian food, I thought this time I would give it a go.

We were greeted by a really friendly guy who explained how to order food and which sauces to choose. When we mentioned we were vegan he brought over a big booklet explaining what ingredients was in everything, which was great, but I would have preferred if he could have explained to us in person briefly what was/was not vegan, otherwise that booklet would have taken us ages to flick through if we hadn't already done some research prior to our visit.

I went for the Veggie Burger in a wrap with chilli jam (minus the mayo) cooked in mango and lime sauce with peri-peri salted fries on the side. My boyfriend had the same only in a pitta and cooked with a medium heat sauce, with an extra corn on the cob on the side. Our meals fell within the €10-12 range and were very filling, but we had to wait a long time to be served. It could have been because they had only just opened, but I noticed that people who ordered chicken after us got their food served a lot quicker.

Both my boyfriend and I were quite disappointed with the peri-peri fries, we thought they would have been cooked in the spices, but the flavouring was just sprinkled on top. I really enjoyed my wrap and the soya and tomato burger had a great texture. I think my boyfriend regretted getting it medium heat as he found it a bit too hot and lacking in any other kind of flavour. I normally love spicy food but decided to deviate from the norm as the mango and lime really appealed to me and it went so well with the chilli jam, so I had no regrets there!

It's also great that you can refill your glass with soda as many times as you like and the prices overall are definitely reasonable, but I did think almost €5 for some pitta bread and hummus was a little steep so we avoided the "appeteasers". I'd like to try the mixed olives sometime though as they sound like something I'd love. Other vegan options on the menu as far as I can see are the cous cous salad, mixed leaf salad (both available with chicken at extra cost) and some of the sides like their macho peas, ratatouille and possibly their new black bean casserole type dish and spicy rice. I would have to check before saying so for sure though. Their other vegetarian burger, the bean burger, is not vegan as it contains cheese, which is such a pity as it sounds lovely and is stuffed full of pulses and seeds.

We will most surely be paying another visit when we are in town again sometime soon, as the prices and service were very good and the portions were large - the wrap and fries are all I have eaten all day and I am still not hungry and it's gone 7pm!! It's great that there's somewhere for vegans to go and get a decent burger, but I'm afraid that if I am out and about with my fellow vegans/vegetarians I'd be more likely go to Deli O'Delhi or Govindas than to Nandos, for more flavoursome healthy food at better value. However, it's a great option if you are with friends who are meat eaters, so I'd definitely recommend giving it a shot!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heinz Squeeze & Stir and Knorr Mealmaker Curry

I just discovered that two of the new Heinz Squeeze & Stir soups are vegan! My boyfriend bought a couple for us to try the other day, and they aren't bad really. The Mediterranean Vegetable and the Minestrone are vegan but "may contrain traces of egg". Great though for a little snack when it's cold outside!

We also discovered that Knorr's Chicken Curry "Mealmaker" packet is now vegan! It was one of my boyfriend's favourite quick curry sauces before he went vegan, and I always loved the smell of it but it pointlessly contained milk powder! I say pointlessly, as you have to mix it with milk to make it up anyway. We saw it was on offer in Tesco and it said "New Improved Recipe!" on the front, so we checked... and lo and behold, they have taken the milk powder out!! My boyfriend was over the moon about this and made us a big chickpea curry to celebrate :) All he did was add soya milk (or you may add coconut milk if you wish), onions, chickpeas and some extra fresh coriander. I had mine with grated cauliflower rice, which I adore, and the mealmaker packet with one can of chickpeas made a really substantial, tasty, quick meal for two. There may be more in the Mealmaker range that are suitable for vegans but I haven't checked as my boyfriend only really used to like the curry.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Never To Return...

One place I shall never be going back to is L'Officina, the Italian restaurant at Kildare's designer outlet village. I went there at the beginning of this week with my boyfriend's mother and brother, just to check the place out. I'm not even sure why I went, because I'm not into designer anything really, but it was something interesting to do.

I was treated pretty badly at this restaurant. It's the only place to eat there really, so we went in as we were starving and I hadn't eaten anything since the previous night, I thought they must be able to rustle something up for me. I don't think I've ever come across anywhere that hasn't been able to accommodate me in some form or manner - even the local pub once whipped me up one of the nicest vegan salads I've ever had, and I've even had to go to a steakhouse before and been given a lovely meal.

Not this place. I told the waitress I did not eat meat or dairy and asked if I could have a panini with roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes and aubergines. The waitress looked at me in disgust, as if I was insane and said she'd have to check with the chef. She promptly came back and just said "NO". Just like that, in the tone of voice that those capital letters imply. How rude for such a simple request. It's not as if it was a tall order, as these were ingredients used in all the other paninis on the menu. And what would they do if someone lactose intolerant came to eat there? I didn't want to just ask for one of the vegetarian paninis "without the cheese" because when I've done that in other places before they've just taken the cheese out and do not double up on the other ingredients - and I'd just be left with a weird, empty panini with only two ingredients.

So I had to have the minestrone soup. It was very nice, like a fresh vegetable broth, but that's not really the point, I really wanted something much more filling. I am also beginning to wonder if the paninis were ready-made, and not fresh, which is possibly why they couldn't add/remove ingredients. They did not look like very decent paninis when my boyfriend's family received theirs.

To top it all off, they couldn't even deliver my drink to the right table. Another waitress was wondering around with my drink offering to people on other tables, and when I tried to help when she passed by, by saying "excuse me but I think it might be for me?" she gave me a scornful look and said "no it's not for you"... then came back approximately 20 seconds later and said that I was right.

All in all, a very displeasing visit. Thank god I never plan to return.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Whopper of a Roast!

Nothing beats a big roast dinner, especially before you go out somewhere and need to fill your tummy for the day! This is what I rustled up before we went to see Battles play in Dublin on Saturday:

Fake chicken roast from Granose, with a layer of Tesco's sage and onion stuffing sandwiched in between, along with some dried chopped apricots added into the stuffing mix. I accompanied it with roasted potatoes and parsnips, sweetcorn and sprouts, with a serving of vegan gravy and redcurrant jelly...! It was soooo good! Granose products are really handy if you're pushed for time, like I was that evening, but still want to quickly conjure up something tasty for a roast dinner without going to much effort.

I have used Granose products before. This is what is available at the moment in all Holland & Barrett stores:

- Lincolnshire Sausage Mix
- Nut Roast Mix
- Chicken Style Roast Mix
- Sunflower, Lentil and Vegetable Roast Mix
- Falafel Mix
- Soya Mince

I have tried the nut roast, the vegetable roast and the sausages before and have enjoyed them all. Adding water is all you need to do to most of the products, which is just so simple and handy, and then put them in the oven for around 25 minutes. I think they mostly cost around €3, but they are currently €2.35 on the Holland and Barrett website. There are usually a couple of sachets per pack as well, so if you like to layer them together like I do then it will suffice for two dinners for three people.

The stuffing mix I used was Tesco value, along with Tesco value dried apricots. Yes I am not rich, I am going to buy value products where I can and am not ashamed to admit it!

Here's a very awkward photo of me with Ian from Battles rocking an impressive moustache... it was an amazing gig!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Logi's Been Forever Homed!


The little stray lurcher I rescued wandering on my green and who was subsequently taken in by Erin Hounds and then sent to the UK to be rehomed... has found his forever home!

Logan (or Logi, as he is called for short) has been adopted by an elderly gentleman called Ray, who has promised to spoil him rotten. When Alex, his foster mummy, left him at his new home he was asleep on the biggest dog bed she had ever seen, worn out after playing with Ray's daughter's two bolshie little terriers. Hopefully Ray and Logi will bond quickly and soon be inseparable!

I'm so relieved he has found the happy home he deserves, thanks to several people's hard work and dedication :)

Deli O'Delhi Update

If you remember my previous entries about Delhi O'Deli, the vegetarian and vegan Indian café on Moore Street, you will be glad to hear that the new version of their menu has everything vegan marked on it with a V! It's so useful that they have done this, and cuts ordering time in half! I've been in there quite a few times recently, but mainly to take advantage of their amazing "Five for a Fiver" offer, where you take a large plate to their buffet and help yourself to as much as you want from their five daily specials. You have to ask which ones are vegan, but usually four out of the five are free of dairy.

Yesterday I was doing some Christmas shopping in town and stopped here for a bite to eat. I had a huge plate of curried potatoes and green beans, chickpea saag (spinach), soya chunks with peas, with a little bit of pilau rice on the side and a few mini popadums. There was a vegan-friendly kidney bean dish as well, but I thought I had enough on my plate already!

If you haven't been to Delhi O'Deli yet, you're really missing out!

Also purchased yesterday, my lovely little Maneki Neko.
Hopefully he's going to bring in some good fortune - I really need it!

Getting my Falafel Fix

Al'Fez make some really good Mediterranean and Moroccan products. Today I tried their Falafel mix, purchased from Tesco. It's ever so easy to make and one packet (which costs under €2) made 12 decent sized falafel nuggets. I shallow fried them briefly, and they tasted much nicer than any pre-made, shop-bought falafels I've tasted before. I would make my falafels from scratch, but at that price and with such a healthy ingredients list why bother going to all that effort?! ;)

I will have to check out more in their range. They have a lot that is vegan - Kofta spice, Tahini, Houmous and Harissa sauce to name but a few... I shall definitely be on the look out for these. In the meanwhile, I think I will be having falafels on a regular basis! They are so delicious in a Mediterranean pocket wrap (like a thinner, but slightly larger pitta), with grated carrot, onion and sweet chilli sauce. Mmmmm!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gerry's Vegan Transition

I can't believe that I have finally done it - I've taken the plunge and bought vegan dog food for Gerry!

In the past it has been difficult for me to find a good enough deal on vegan dog food to justify spending that amount of money when I have only had a part time job. How ironic it is that now I have been made redundant I am splashing out on it! Actually, getting this deal from Zooplus with the discount for first orders brought the total for 20kg of Yarrah down to just under €65, which is very reasonable indeed.

I really hope Gerry likes his new food, and I shall probably supplement it with rice and veggies depending on how he gets on (I've heard some dogs lose weight on vegetarian food, even though it does make their coats and skin a lot healthier), as well as his other treats. Of course, I can always go back to his normal good quality German organic food if the vegan lifestyle doesn't suit him... but it's worth a try for a couple of months at such a good price, isn't it?!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chilli'n Out!

Today I made a lovely black bean, sausage and apple chilli. I found the recipe on my Vegan YumYum iPhone app and it looked so simple and tasty that I decided to give it a go. The recipe can be found below, but I used half a can of chopped tomatoes instead of two diced plum tomatoes. The TSP (Textured Soya Protein) I used was the frozen kind from Tesco so there was no need to rehydrate it and it was already lightly seasoned, and the sausages I used were Linda McCartney. It was really lovely! This made loads and there was no need for any rice as the beans were so filling. The Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce really soaked in and flavoured the sausage and mince, and the black beans and carrots were slightly al dente which contrasted the mushy texture of the meat substitutes. We will definitely be having this again as it's so cheap and easy to make!  

My boyfriend has been eating vegan with me for the past few days, after I had a little breakdown and told him that I didn't think I could cope any more with him eating meat around me. This may seem a little selfish on my part, as I've never been one to tell anyone what to and what not to eat... but he does love vegan food and it's going to make it so much easier for us to eat together. I think it will do him good to eat healthier too! What he does when he's out of the house is his own business, but I am glad that he's done this for me, and he's really taking it seriously as he loves to cook and has been enjoying researching new recipes.

Chipotle Sausage Chilli with Apple and Black Beans 
Makes two hearty servings

- 1 Can Black Beans, mostly drained
- 2 Carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 Plum Tomatoes, diced (1 Cup, scant)
- 1 Cup Rehydrated TSP, see directions
- 1 Veggie Sausage Link, diced
- 1 Apple, diced (any kind, really)
- 3 Tbs Tamari
- 3 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce (make sure the label says it’s veg)
 - 1 tsp Cumin

Heat 1 scant cup of water to boiling and mix it with 1 Cup dried TSP (or follow package directions). While that is soaking, heat a large skillet with some vegetable oil. Add carrot and stir every once in a while to soften. Meanwhile, dice apples, tomatoes, and sausage. Add these plus the beans and cumin to pan. Stir and cover.

Check on your TSP. Dump out excess water as soon as it is fairly soft and add to pan. Add tamari and Worcestershire sauce, stir well, and cover. Let simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes. Serve with fresh cilantro or parsley.


In other news, I've booked my ticket to Wales for Christmas to see my father. It's going to be ever so quiet as it's just going to be the two of us for 4 days, chilling out and eating good food. I can't wait! It will make a change from Christmas at my boyfriend's parents' place where there is usually 11 of us around the table! I think it will be nice to have a more relaxing time, as Christmas is usually so manic. I will definitely miss my Gerry-pups though!

Oh and if you're looking to buy some Christmas treats, Lidl have some wonderful boxes of coconut ice... hint hint!! ;) The Turkish Delight in the picture isn't vegan as it's covered in milk chocolate, but they do sell a version with no chocolate. They are also selling their scrumptious dark chocolate Marzipan bars and raspberry liquor filled dark chocolate barrels again this year - hooray!

I'll leave you with some nice photographs I took recently: