The Samphire Brasserie – Vegan Food In Plymouth

Vegan restaurants are popping up all over the joint, aren’t they?! This is great news for plant-based triers like myself… Yes, still a (hard) trier and not quite the complete convert just yet! However, we make it our mission to seek out vegan restaurants whenever we eat out, which is how we ended up at Samphire Brasserie on a trip to Plymouth, last weekend. When a place like this hits Devon, you just know that things are changing for the better.

There is a high population of students in Plymouth, so places like Samphire Brasserie are bound to be on to a good thing right now. Offering up vegan ‘junk’ food, this spot fills any cravings for meat that you might have. I’m still not entirely sure about how I feel eating ‘mock meat’. I don’t miss the stuff; that’s for sure, so when I eat things that are designed to taste like it, I just wonder if it’s worth it for me, personally. However, it’s is incredible how well some places can make this style of food taste.

The Samphire Brasserie seems to have been in Plymouth for quite some time, and I’m not actually sure how we missed it until now. It has had rave reviews online, and we were actually turned away when we attempted to eat there the previous evening because it was so busy. Luckily they had a spot for us on a quieter Saturday night so we could get to see what all the fuss was about.

OK, so let’s start with the bad points… Unfortunately, this place does NOT serve alcohol. Now, we’re no alcoholics (highly questionable), but when you’re kept waiting for an hour and fifteen minutes for your food on a date night, you tend to want more than a fizzy cola. It turned out that the kitchen thought our order was for a takeaway customer, so things got a little delayed and when it finally came, they’d completely forgotten about the starter (which, If I’m totally honest, was not a bad thing in the end because we left pretty stuffed)!

On top of that, the restaurant seemed to lack atmosphere, which was probably due to the fact that there was no music playing and it was hot… Oh, so hot – I’m talking sweat beads on my forehead after a good hour of waiting. However, what really matters here is the food and once it arrived, all was quickly forgiven. Everything was packed with flavour and had a great texture. This was fast (hmm) food done very well.

We  wanted to get back to our accommodation for some booze  were too full for dessert, so opted to take some away as the restaurant was half an hour past its usual closing time anyway. I’m so glad we did because their toffee and popcorn cheesecake was dreamy! We may or may not have also bought a whoopie pie, which we shared on the journey back to London the next day.

Would I go back? Hell, yes! This food is great for your junk food cravings. Just make sure you leave plenty of time and maybe take a good book! If the Samphire Brasserie concentrated on its eat-in customers and less on the takeaways, then things could be a whole lot brighter, but you really can’t fault their good vegan grub.

Alex had the Deep South Burger with Twice Fried Chips…

I opted for the Kruelty Free Cooking Bucket – Soy Based Drumsticks and Popcorn Chicken. 

Until next time x

 

Vegan feasting

Last weekend was full to the brim with vegan feasting… The diet’s going well then! Hmm. After heading to the Picturehouse on Friday night to see Tickled, we popped into Tibits for a late dinner, on the way home. I must admit it was our second choice because the wait for a table at Mildred’s was an hour, and we all know that queuing just isn’t my thing. Has anyone been? Is it worth it?

Anyway, I decided that I wanted to try out a few more vegan spots closer to home, so on Saturday lunchtime, we found ourselves at Love Gift Vegan in Honor Oak – a Caribbean inspired and completely vegan restaurant. There’s nothing flash about this place decor-wise, but the food was delicious (especially the Dahl).

 

We purchased a large platter to share but probably should have either gone for a size up or just had one each, like ordinary people.It was just our luck that we caught the owner a little dishevelled, after having just returned from holiday and as much as we wanted to test out their well-hyped cakes and desserts, there were sadly none quite ready for the tasting. We did, however, get in on the pink lemonade and ginger beer action –  I imagine we’ll be back for more soon, as well as our fill of the cakes.

Having failed to fill my craving for something sweet, we hot-footed it to Greenwich Market. This place is hideously busy on Saturdays… I’m not sure what we were thinking!  We were in and out quite quickly, but not before having a nosey around the vegan stalls on offer. It was great to see such a good selection, with at least four stalls offering mostly vegan food. My favourite by far was Rubys of London – You simply couldn’t tell that they were vegan, unlike a lot of cakes that I have tried. Such goodness!

Vegan Brownies

Vegan Cakes

Peanut Butter Cake

We came away with a few cheeky brownies – raspberry cheesecake for Alex, and my all time fave, Peanut Butter Brownie, which was heavenly!

Vegan Greenwich Market

We may, or may not have (we did) also purchased some Macarons. Sadly, these were a little disappointing. They just didn’t quite hit the mark with our tastebuds. I guess we have tried and tested far too many of the non-vegan variety from Paris in the past –  It clearly is quite hard to compete!

Vegan Macarons Greenwich

Vegan Macarons

Vegan Macarons

Being vegan has never been so easy, and I’m really looking forward to discovering lots more new places to test out soon.

Until next time x

 

Babaji – Turkish Food in the Heart of Soho

Since finishing chemo last year, eating a strictly vegan diet has fallen a little into the wayside. I’ve tried, believe me, I’ve tried, but it seems that I’m destined to live more of an 85/15 (vegan/vegetarian) lifestyle. This has totally and utterly got to do with the fact that Alex and I love to eat out, and it’s places like Babaji, which make it all the more enjoyable to do so.

Babaji (Baba-juh) is a Turkish restaurant in the heart of Soho brought to you by Alan Yau, who specialises in both fast food and high end, having been associated with, or created restaurants such as Wagamama, Hakkasan, Yauatcha and many more. This guy knows his food and with a Turkish wife, it’s no surprise that he ventured into this area.

Babaji doesn’t take bookings for reservations of under eight people, but being more of a fast food restaurant, this didn’t seem to matter on Sunday when we visited. The staff did mention that we’d caught them on a quiet evening, which is always nice. I have since heard that you can often find yourself queuing for a table – a good sign, but I’m always pretty happy to be shown to mine on demand. Patience is a virtue…  alas, not one of mine. I imagine the wait is never too long though because the service was pretty swift.

At the moment, one of my favourite ways to eat is to have a selection of pretty much everything on the menu and Babaji is the perfect place to do this. Alex and I ordered a lot. Probably too much, but no one was watching, so we just went for it! I’ve never had Turkish food before (or at least I don’t remember it if I have), so I have nothing to compare it to, but I can tell you that everything we ate was delicious. The staff were attentive, but not overly so, and it was a really relaxed atmosphere for an early dinner in the heart of Soho. They offer good fast food for an affordable price (including meat dishes, but with plenty of vegetarian options), in an area that can be tricky to find just that. I’d definitely pop in for more.

This watermelon juice was delicious. Unfortunately, it wasn’t mine.

Watermelon Lemonade

Really nice hummus. I’m not going to say it’s the best I’ve ever had, but it certainly went down well.

Babaji Homemade Humus

This Caramelised Onion and Walnut Pide was pretty tasty. If I’m being picky, I would have to say that I’d have liked it a little more crispy, but I’d happily order it again.

Caramelised Onions & Walnut Pide Babaji

Samphire with red pepper and sun blushed tomatoes with garlic – Strangely, we had never eaten samphire before and loved it so much that we bought a big batch that evening, to cook at home.

Samphire, Red pepper, Sunblushed Tomato

A little bit of everything, including a Beetroot Salad with vine tomatoes, pomegranate and a lemon and honey dressing. 

Babaji

Alex can never resist baklava and he loved this homemade pistachio baklava with vanilla ice cream. I tested it out (for research purposes) and can concur that it was pretty darn good.

Babaji Homemade Pistachio Balklava

Alex finished off his meal with a Turkish coffee and being a novice to the Turkish dining scene, failed to realise that you shouldn’t drink the sludge at the bottom. It wasn’t good – The look on his face told me that. Perhaps something the waitress should have mentioned when she served it to him. You live and learn!

Turkish Coffee

Babaji , Istanbul Pide Salonu – 53 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6LB

Babaji Soho

Until next time x

This post is in collaboration with CitizenMag.

 

Confessions Of A Useless Vegan

I have a confession to make… I know this will upset a few of our buddies, but we have strayed and are no longer one-hundred percent committed to being vegan. On the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I walked out of the hospital and one of the first things I said to Alex was that I wanted to adopt a vegan diet for the duration of my treatment and so we did. I really do think it helped my recovery after each chemotherapy treatment, as well as with my general health. We upped our fruit and veg intake tenfold, Alex shrunk to nothing and I also lost 5 kg. We didn’t really need to lose the weight, but I quite liked it on myself… Alex, on the other hand, needed to learn to eat a whole lot more than usual!

Since we took up the vegan lifestyle back in March, my skin has been so much better. Aside from all the extra fruit and veg I have also been drinking a lot more water, which has also helped immensely. I can’t comment on my energy levels during chemo, but since finishing, I have to say I have a lot more energy than before and generally feel a whole lot better about myself. “So why the change?” I hear you ask…

Well, when I say we are not committed, we are still aiming to eat only vegan produce in our home. However, we were really missing going out to supper clubs and the like, as eating out was a big thing for us before I became ill. It’s just not quite the same going out for dinner when there aren’t many (if any) great vegan places close to home. London is certainly getting much easier for the vegan lifestyle, but I’m talking about just popping out ten minutes from home when you don’t feel like cooking. We don’t always want to trek into the centre of town for a nice tasty meal out. I also struggle quite a bit as I also have to keep my wheat and potato intake as low as possible, due to allergies… Definitely limits my food options even further, but luckily for me sweet potatoes are allowed.

We certainly aren’t going to make it our mission to hunt out a non-vegan meal on our one day off, and we aren’t going to the extremes by eating massive slabs of meat. For me, it’s probably going to be a little fish in a sushi meal or a little dairy in a dish that is vegetarian-based. We don’t really miss meat at all and we will still continue to search for more vegan and vegetarian places to eat, but we will, however, still be taking in the odd supper club once every six weeks or so, should we so feel like it. I definitely think this is the best way for us as we have a set day and we’ll stick to it, rather than constantly craving the foods we miss and risking totally abandoning the vegan lifestyle altogether. We did it for health reasons, but I also like to think of myself as a conscious eater and I definitely feel guilt and pleasure at the same time as stuffing my face with the ‘good’ stuff.

Anyway, I just wanted to get this one out there as I feel like I have sinned by not announcing it.

My name is Zoe and I am now 90% (ish) vegan and better for it.

If I’m honest, it’s really all about the cheese… mmm cheese.

 

 

We’ve been eating some great vegan food along the way. Here are a few of my favs…

Polish Soba Noodle Salad – Salad Samurai 

Polish Soba Noodle Salad

Tofu Vietnamese spring rolls, stir fried Chinese cabbage and brown rice

Vegan Food

Vegan and gluten Free homemade pizza…

Vegan Pizza

Tasty take-away treats from Tibits

Vegan Tibits

Love this dairy free coffee drink from Rebel Kitchen…

Vegan Coffee - Rebel Mylk

And finally… Who needs dairy milk when you’ve got this?!

Vegan Chocolate

Delicious Homemade Granola Recipe

I’ve never been much of a breakfast kind of girl, however over the past few months I’ve tried to make a bit more of an effort. I used to drink a juice a day, but it became a little dull and repetitive. Even though it greatly improved the appearance fo my skin (recipe to come soon), I found it really hard to consume on such a regular basis –  So for now, I have reduced my juicing to a few times a week. For a while, I moved onto a breakfast of peanut butter on wheat free toast, but soon discovered that the potato starch in the bread was making my skin react a lot worse than any other wheat based products. Disaster! Yes, I’m allergic to potatoes as well as wheat. Gah!

On a mission to get going with a regular morning breakfast routine, I decided that I’d dig deep into my pockets and stocked up on all of the ingredients that I needed to make some Homemade Granola. I’ve never really been tempted to pay for it in the shops, as there is usually one or more ingredients that I don’t like in the packet – Mainly the raisins… so may raisins. I mean who even likes those things? Yuk! Also, the price of granola can be a little steep in places and I’m a bit tight like that you see. Especially when my shopping basket is already so full by the time I’ve made it to the cereal aisle… I’m alway thinking of ways I can make cut backs, without ditching my favourites.

It did cost me quite a bit to get all the ingredients required to make this deliciously tempting homemade granola, but my cupboards were bare and I needed to stock up. Now that I have got everything that I need, it will definitely come in a little cheaper than if I were to buy numerous packets in the shops. More to the point, it will contain all of the ingredients that I like, and not one single little raisin will make it in. Hurrah!

You can make many variations of this homemade granola recipe, but this version worked a treat for me. The trouble is that it’s so delicious that it has become a little dangerous  – I just keep going back for more…

Granola Recipe

 

You will need: (alternative options in brackets)

3 Cups of rolled oats. (I think a little more for me next time)
1 Cup of pecans ( almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or walnuts)
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 a cup of maple syrup (honey or agave)
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds ( sunflower seeds)
1 cup chopped dried apricots and cranberries (any dried fruit you like)
1 egg white
1 tsp cinnamon

 

Super easy instructions…

Turn oven onto 150 c.
Add the oats, nuts, salt, seeds, coconut flakes and cinnamon to a bowl.

Breakfast Granola

Beat the egg white until it’s slightly foamy and add to the dry ingredients along with the grapeseed oil and maple syrup.
Mix it all together until it is well coated.

Easy Granola Recipe

Spread the mixture onto a tray with a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 mins. Keep an eye on it as all ovens do vary.
Stir part way through.
Breath in the delicious aroma. It’s amazing!

Baked Granola

Remove from the oven and allow to cool full before adding the apricots and cranberries or any of the dried fruit you have opted for. Resist the temptation to eat. Put into an airtight jar or container and voila – Your homemade granola recipe is complete…

Deliciously Tempting Homemade Granola Recipe

Granola for breakfast

Serve with milk, yoghurt and fresh fruit. However you take it, just sit back and enjoy.

Tempting Breakfast

Want to try more delicious homemade granola recipes? Then head HERE: