The Vegan Kind Box January 2017 TVK389

Happy New Years!!

 

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Please ignore the frizzy hair – I didn’t feel it needed doing to watch 13 Going On 30 in my front on NYE

 

Now is the time for resolutions, exercise, feeling crappy about your yuletide excess and healthy snacks! The Vegan Kind has me covered with the latter with a box of healthy snacks.

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Not to bypass the fact you get a nice sturdy box with each #TVK which is great for housing bits and bobs. Me and Cordy (20 months) spent quite a while tipping these packing scrunchies out then putting them back in the box – ah the thrilling activities of toddlerdom.

OK – the bad reviews first I am not the type of person who wears badges, so these vegan buttons are wasted on me, even my kids don’t wear badges as I try to keep their clothes nice and hole free so they can by handed down. These are priced at £3.50 on The Vegan Kind shop.  Blerrgh, to me this nana mylk tasted of really, really overripe bananas, out of me and three kids only one of us liked it – which is still great as things are rarely wasted in this house. I have tried Rebel Kitchen before and the Orange Chocolate flavour is incredible – so I’ll stick with that one. The shakes are £1.10 for 200ml and they do a coffee one that I am looking to try soon.

Mmmm, now on to the GOOD reviews! This Conscious Chocolate bar is raw, orangic and mazing tasting, it was the essential orange flavour (I know, how much do I bang on about orange chocolate on this blog, right?). The texture is both fudgy and melty and it’s really rich, so I ate it in two halves (On the same day though, I’m not some sort of martyr). The bar is 80p for 15g, but because it’s so rich I’d possibly buy it and make it last over two days. Yum, yum, yum!

This packet of Ninas Popcorn was yummy too, in cacao, goji berry and pistachio flavour its a sophisticated flavour and the packaging is #instaworthy this is priced at £1.99 for 30g so I would NEVER buy it. I’m just being honest we are a family of five so our money has to stretch a bit further then £1 per 15g BUT that’s why I like TVK boxes, they give me a chance to try something I’d just not pick up in fear of wasting money if it wasn’t nice or stuff that is quite frankly too expensive for us.

Now this lil’collection of loveliness is stuff I am going to save for a flight I am going on – (TO DISNEY WORLD!!!) to Cordy’s dismay.

At the bottom is a little envelope of green teas – TPlus vitamin enriched Tea.  They blend green tea, botanicals, natural fruit flavourings and 50% RDA in 9 daily essential vitamins (including vitamins C and B12!). The pack came which one of each flavour: raspberry & pomegranate, apple & blackcurrant, orange & blueberry and a lemon & peach. I am actually planning on keeping these for the hotel room so I can keep my vits up after gruelling (amazing) days in the parks. These are £3.69 for 15 tea bags, but the added vitamins do increase the ‘worth it’ factor in my eyes.

Next is a big bag of Yushoi snapea crisps – I buy these whenever I see the 6 packs on sale for £1, I love that they have around 4g protein per 21g bag and Cordy luffs em! Perfect flight snack as the protein makes them so much better than potato crisps. This 105g bag is priced at £1.79, but I often find them on sale.

Lastly there is a bag of Sour Jelly Beans from YumEarth NATURALS, these guys make the best lollypops in the whole wide world, bar non, no backsies, IDST! It took a lot of will power not to rip this bag open and scoff the lot right there but I thought they’d be great to chomp on while the plane takes off to stop our ears popping. These are £3.50 and I wouldn’t be able to spend that on a bag of sweeties every week BUT I’d bet right now that the taste of these is on point. I can’t wait to try them.

I am again really happy with this box as it’s full of snacks I wouldn’t have tried and it’s so fun to open and see all of the new exciting vegan products and brands. The box itself is £10 with £3.15 P&P, and this months contents were worth £12.68 not including the teas which weren’t given a price but by my calculations are worth 98p, bringing the box to £13.66. So you maybe aren’t getting a box of bargains like beauty boxes; but I have so many samples of unused nail varnish and hairspray left over from the Glossy boxes and Birch boxes I used to get, yet EVERYTHING in these boxes get eaten (OK not the badges – they’ll be going to the charity shop). To me it’s an excuse to splurge!

The Vegan Kind Box December 2016 TVK38

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Today I received a TVK box that I had a £5 off code for (VEGAN if it still works), which with shipping cost £8.15 the usual price is £10 for the box and £3.15 shipping. If you order a box mid-month and they have stock left of their past boxes they will offer to send you one straight out or you can choose to start on the 1st of next month.

This is the December 2016, which has a very Christmassy feel, awesome to receive on December 20th!

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We Are Glow Tea Sachet

The first item I decided to try was this tea bag, which tastes a little seaweed-like, I am sipping on it right now and it’s not to my taste at all, but I like that there is a healthy item in the Christmas box and herbal tea is one of the ways I like to offset overindulgence. Pile of crisps, nuts and chocolate…and a herbal tea. Balance.

Ape Snacks Crispy Coconut Curls Salted Chocolate 20g (RRP £1.10)

Good Full Stop Double Choc Bar 35g (RRP 90p)

Another couple of healthy options! The ‘just launched’ flavour of salted chocolate coconut curls, I know my son loves these so I am going to pop these into his stocking. Another healthy treat is this GOOD Full Stop bar, in double chocolate flavour, it’s a fruit and nut bar but it’s not quite as nice as the chocolate Nakd bars (they are richer, denser and more fudgey) and it’s more expensive so I will stick with Nakd bars instead of switching to these.

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Foods of Athenry Very Fruity Starry Mince Pies 280g (RRP £4.50)

Now we are getting in to the indulgence, a box of very fancy mince pies that are gluten, wheat, dairy free and vegan. I was surprised that a such a big product was in the TVK box, goes to show that they can fit a lot in that little box.  Mark and the kids are going to scoff them with The Nightmare Before Christmas this afternoon. I am not a massive fan of mince pies – one bite is enough for me, but I know I am in the minority and if you are like me – you can’t go wrong with mince pies as a gift to anyone hosting you over Christmas.

Cocoa Libre Chocolate Orange Santas and Reindeer 60g (RRP £2.99)

Ooh now these are my jam! I love orange chocolate and what’s better than chocolate – novelty shaped chocolate!  I told Mark to put these in my stocking. Yum 🙂

 

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Peppermint Candy Cane

How nice, a little festive treat from the TVK team. I am going to use this to stir our next batch of hot chocolate to make them minty, mmm.

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Harpers Bizarre Halo Christmas Candle (RRP £5.00)

I copied the text from the Harper website here ‘This is a clean, drifting candle that is big on the water notes and finished with fresh citrus to ring in the New Year. Halo is a clean, fresh fragrance for those who don’t want anything spiced.’ as I find it really hard to describe flavours and I thought this was a floral and melon smell. It smells good that’s fo sho. I have used Harper’s candles before and they are really strongly fragranced and the smells are lovely.

Well this was an amazing box and I am obsessed with Christmas so if they sent me this type of box every month I’d be pretty happy.I thought it was good value (£14.49 plus the tea bag and candy cane which wern’t valued). As well as the items above they include a list of all f the products with the RRP value, plus information about this box’s charity which each time they give 10p per box sold. December’s charity was Jacobs Ridge Animal Sanctuary in Spain http://www.jacobsridge.com/

Also included is a recipe card and this month’s recipe was for Chocolate Orange mousse, yummers! Once you have stayed with TVK for 6 months they send you a ring binder to keep your recipe card’s in.

If you are interested in trying a box follow the link.

Merry Christmas The Unpretty Vegan xxx

 

 

Next Level Rocky Road

I decided to save money this year and not get the kids advent calendars and instead do an experience advent. So I made little cards that say ‘dress up and take ‘elfies” or ‘send a Christmas card to Santa’, the frugal idea fell to pieces when we made the ‘lets go to a Christmas fair’ and the card for tomorrow says ‘eat rocky road and watch Home Alone’. So far with the massive Muji shop I did while at Birmingham Xmas market I think this advent has cost about £100!

This rocky road isn’t cheap – partly because vegan marshmallows are expensive – like £3 for a small bag which is a bugger because I saw a HUGE pillow sized bag of non-vegan mallows from the USA for £2.50 in Morrison’s cheap bit the other day – damn it!

I started with a layer of halved glace cherries, which is the stickiest substance known to man and once you’ve opened a tub of these you can never become unsticky and the next fourteen generations of your family will be born sticky, just a glace cherry fact for you there.

Instead of using bog standard digestives I decided to use chocolate filled Oreo’s – this is probably the perfect time to say I don’t really like rocky road I find it cloying and over sweet – but this is NEXT LEVEL ROCKY ROAD, which promises to be extra tasty, cloying and over sweet!! The Oreo’s add a touch of bitterness, which balances the sweetness a little.

Then next thing I thought to add is orange extract, I LOVE orange chocolate, but this would also work great with peppermint extract (but I would maybe switch out the dried fruit for candy cane piece – you know for the extra health).

I melted the chocolate with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of coconut oil – this makes the rocky road soft to eat – otherwise you’re just making a fancy chocolate bar.

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Remember to feed your helper

Instead of raisins I had a bag of mixed dried berries and I bought some vegan marshmallows and sugar stars to decorate. I smashed up the Oreo’s into bite sized pieces (yeah I’m kidding, Oreo’s are bite sized really) with a rolling pin.

I know you are supposed to use a bowl over a pan of gently boiling water – but I just melted straight in the pan on the lowest heat, and it was FINE! I then added in the orange extract, Oreo’s, dried fruit and most of the marshmallows to the melted chocolate.

I spread the mix out in a lined dish and sprinkled over the rest of the mallows. Like snow over a …muddy field, I guess. #romanticimageryismystrongpoint

I tried to get Cordy to help decorate with the sugar stars, but she was like ‘nope’ and ate them up. That blur in the picture above was her tiny hand reaching for pure sugar laced with colourings, her entire being became a blur once she’d finished eating them.

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Now we wait…

 

Apples, apple sauce and apple Cookies

Do you see a theme? It’s apples, the theme is apples 😉

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I walked past a basket of apples left out for free on my way to school this morning and what’s better for a frugal month than free stuff? The answer is nothing, NOTHING!

I made the sauce in my slow cooker, it was ridic simple – I mean it could have been simpler and only had apples in, but I add flavour by including a grating of nutmeg, a funky cinnamon stick, a spoonful of sugar and a spoonful of veggie butter. It’s important to put about a cm of water in the bottom of the slow cooker with the apples so it has some steam to start it cooking and the bottom apples don’t burn before they start realising their liquid.

I let this cook on low for about four hours, but I think it would take around 20-30 mins on a hob. I just prefer the slow cooker at the pot is nice and big and I can leave things bubbling while doing ‘mum stuff’ (and watching YouTube).

Of course I didn’t scream when I stirred the cooked sauce and that cinnamon stick popped out!!

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Cookie, cookie, cookie!

Today I watched a video by JessBeautician and she was using Apple sauce to make apple pie cookies. She has such lovely video’s they are so clean looking and her recipes are all healthy and really tasty looking. Check the link below for today’s vid, then stalk through all of her video’s because they are vegan inspo heaven!

The below is Jess’s recipe but I switched it up a little – I only had that HUGE type of cinnamon so I omitted it from the recipe but the apple sauce I made tasted of cinnamon. I also swapped maple syrup for white sugar and added an extra spoon of apple sauce to make up the liquid. Also my blender has broken so I can’t make oat flour so I used some rice flour I have and the recipe worked great with all of the changes.

Apple Pie Cookies (Makes 8):
2 cups oats
1/2 cup oat flour
5 tbsp apple sauce
2 tbsp almond butter
4 tbsp maple syrup
1 chia egg (2 tbsp chia, 6 tbsp water)
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Add all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and give it a good stir until it begins to stick together. Take around 2 tablespoons of the mix and form cookie shapes from each. Line those out on a baking tray and place in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes until they go slightly golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Store remaining cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

All three kids and myself loved these cookies, they are super easy AND without the maple syrup they are also really cheap. Even with the white sugar I would class these as pretty healthy and I wouldn’t mind feeding them to the kids as a quick extra to breakfast for the walk to school.

 

Today’s budget food

I am on a self imposed budget this month to try and save for Christmas, December is a costly month for us as we will be travelling up to Newcastle upon Tyne twice which costs £120 each time, plus the Christmas shopping I still need to buy will add up.

I started the day with some homemade granola which I made with some ginger, black treacle, avocado oil (my mum bought me two big bottles of this from Costco – which I use more than coconut oil because it pours and I am seriously LAZY). I just eyeballed quantities and made this;

I also added dried cranberries for sweetness, it could have used some sliced almonds but this weeks budget only stretched to basic peanut butter. I bought a whole shelf of sesame seeds and dried cranberries for 20p a bag in the old packaging from Sainsbury’s a few weeks ago and we still have those left – score.

For lunch I had a leftover sausage from last week made by following this recipe Jack Monroe’s Smoky Dogs (VEGAN), 10p, with half a tin of Ocado’s 32p Baked beans which are as good as any other baked beans. So that meal cost less than £1 for me and Mark.

For dinner I am making dahl – again with a bargain find – the co-op were selling lentils (which are cheap anyway) for 15p a bag, so I cleared the shelf then too! Always grab a store cupboard bargain 😉

It’s just lentils with ginger, turmeric and cumin powder, two chopped carrots and an onion, then once it’s ready to serve I will add miso for salt and fresh coriander and lemon to serve. I will make rice and I am making bread too, which I will make into homemade nans. I just make up a bread mix following the back of the flour packets recipe (swapping honey for black treacle – which was another 20p buy), then I will make into little rounds and fry and a dry, very hot pan until browned. I then gently fry garlic in oil, coat the nans in the oil and place in the oven to cook through. Not traditional, but very yummy!

OMG I just remember the strong flour I bought was 20p too, I am such a bargain hunter! If you are on a budget I think keeping £2 in your pocket can be helpful – not your bank card – then you can pick up REAL bargains when you see them, but not be tempted into buying a 1/2 price juicer 🙂

 

 

Budget Baby!!!

It’s November, which means Christmas is coming, so I am going to try and live by a strict budget this November and save as much as possible.

The budget;

  • £40 to £50 per week food
  • £10 per week extras such as baby groups and things we run out of we NEED like soya milk
  • Two tanks of fuel

It’s going to be hard as although I don’t usually spend money on things like takeaway coffee I do OFTEN nip to the shops during the week for top up shops. Which hands up I have already failed on, I had an hour between picking up my kids from various clubs and headed to Morrison’s to escape the cold and found the discounted veg was all reduced to 22p so I bought thyme, beetroot, pears, samphire (fancy)and two toffee apples and some persimmons for about 45p.

The shop;

  • 6 x soya milk
  • 3 x bags of bananas
  • 1 bag of oranges
  • 1 bag of red onions (more nutrients than white)
  • 2 x 3pk of sweet potatoes
  • Iodised salt (to easily get iodine in diet)
  • 1kg brown rice
  • 500g whole-wheat pasta
  • 2 tins cannellini beans
  • 2 tins kidney beans
  • 1kg oats with wheat bran
  • Jar of sauerkraut
  • 6 tins of baked beans
  • 4 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 700g jar peanut butter
  • 2 loafs of Vogels bread
  • 1 bottle of double concentrate squash
  • 1 bag unwaxed lemons
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 heads of broccoli
  • 1 big Alpro coconut yogurt
  • 2 packets Cauldron tofu
  • 100g coriander
  • 1 bag of apples
  • 1kg carrots
  • 4 x avocados (the cheap ripen at home ones)
  • 1 packet of green beans
  • 1 tub of salsa (this came free with the below)
  • 1 bag of McCain nacho cheese ridges
  • Fry’s polony (frozen vegan luncheon meat)
  • 1 boxes of Fry’s steak pies
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed berries

The shop this week came from Ocado as they sent me a 15% off voucher, plus they had other offers online – the Fry’s food were half price, the yogurt had a voucher and the salsa was free. This mix of foods will make SO many different foods and I don’t live in a vacuum so I had some foods at home already – like sugar, spices, jams and spreads and quite a few frozen meals. Although my fridge was pretty bare before this shop. The shop came to £44 which I can easily spend in two small top up shops so if I can stick to this budget I will be so pleased.

 

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This is an example of one of the meals I’ve made so far – roasted sweet potato covered the tomato sauce, some pickled beetroot (I picked this up for 22p in Morrison’s on a £1.80 shopping spree!) and some kidney beans with nooch, aminos and avocado oil I already had in the cupboard.

 

 

Here’s a bit of a breakdown of the veggies and fruit;

  1. 3 x bags of bananas
  2. 1 bag of oranges
  3. 1 bag of red onions
  4. 2 x 3pk of sweet potatoes
  5. 2 tins cannellini beans
  6. 2 tins kidney beans
  7. Jar of sauerkraut (this is cabbage)
  8. 6 tins of baked beans
  9. 4 tins chopped tomatoes
  10. 1 bag unwaxed lemons
  11. 2 cucumbers
  12. 1 heads of broccoli
  13. 100g coriander
  14. 1 bag of apples
  15. 1kg carrots
  16. 4 x avocados
  17. 1 packet of green beans
  18. 1 tub of salsa
  19. 1 bag of frozen mixed berries

We ended up with loads of different types of F&V which is awesome!

Some of meals I have made so far are;

  • Porridge and granola
  • A Sunday lunch with Fry’s pies, sweet potato mash, carrots and gravy
  • Satay tofu with rice and green beans (satay sauce made with sweet chili sauce, peanut butter and lemon juice)
  • I also made a lovely tomato sauce with all of the tinned toms and some onions, thyme and paprika which will be the base of a few meals this week, I have already tossed it through pasta and made the lunch pictured above and I have two Tupperware containers in the freezer to use too!

Frugally yours, The Unpretty Vegan