Vegan Tuck Box – a review


I’ve had the pleasure of trying another fab little vegan subscription box – this time from The Vegan Tuck Box. 

This is a great little box of vegan treats that you can subscribe to and be sent monthly, or buy as a one off box for yourself or as a gift. This is very much a treat box and full of exciting snacks from around the world. They specialise in sourcing the more unusual, hard to find treats. They also offer a gluten-free version of the box so there’s something for everyone. You don’t need to be vegan to enjoy the treat – they’re delicious regardless.

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The selection is a surprise but is a range of snacks, chocolates, crisps and even drinks. What I also love about them, is not only do the products not harm animals, they actually donate 20p from each box to Hillside Animal Sanctuary so are actively helping animals too!

There are various options of box – classic boxes, mini boxes, vegan starter boxes, chocolate lovers box etc (more info here)!  I was sent a mini-box to try.

In that months box I got:

– NoNos – Peanut Butter

– Chia Charge – Protein Bar

– Freedom Mallows – Mallow Choc Dip

– TreeHugger – Gumballs

– Soypresso – Medium

The box arrived safely and well packed and I was excited to try these treats. A treat is so much better shared with a friend so I shared these with my friend Colette from The Pure Form Fitness Kitchen.

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These were like mini smarties I guess, but with a peanut butter filling. I love peanut butter and was excited to try these. There were smaller than I expected which meant we wolfed them down! They were very more-ish and very sweet but not that peanut-buttery really. In fact they reminded me more of a white chocolate/caramel flavour. They were still nice though so don’t be put off if you’re not a huge peanut butter fan as they don’t taste that peanutty! They would make an excellent alternative chocolate treat for kids too  – they’re colourful, fun, sweet and creamy.

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Chia Charge – Protein Bar

I’m a big fan of healthy, natural sources of protein to eat on the go so this was always going to be a winner for me. Love the combo of flavours – cacao and cranberry – choclately, tart but tasty. It’s sweet but not too sweet and packed with fab ingredients. It feels like a treat, but is nice and filling. Both Colette and I loved this but we did spend a fair amount of time picking chia seeds out of our teeth! Worth it though as it’s so good for you :)

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Freedom Mallows – Mallow Choc Dip

How fab to have some vegan marshmallows, and gluten free too! :) These were fun – I really enjoyed sharing them with Colette – they were yummy and definitely felt like a naughty treat! They’re super sweet so definitely best shared with a friend or loved one, but are delish. They’d be even better dunked in toasted coconut afterwards (in fact I may try that next time!).

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TreeHugger – Gumballs

Gosh we had such fun with these! They were a great little treat to have in our box. I hadn’t had bubble gum since I was a teenager so we had a laugh trying these. They are vegan but despite not having any gelatine in them they last just as long as “normal” bubble gum. . The flavours are natural but tasty and juicy. The bubbles weren’t a huge success but I think that may be more to do with the bubble blowers than the gum itself ;)

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Soypresso – Medium

This reminded me of being in Indonesia where cans of coffee drinks are all the rage (you can read more about my Indonesian monkey exploits over on my other blog – here). The cans over there are all dairy based so I was excited to try a Soya version. It’s creamy and has a strong coffee flavour which is fab. It’s rather sweet but in the summer, over ice, this would be a fab treat and if you usually sweeten your coffee you will love this! We were feeling generous so shared this with Colette’s husband Rod too. We all enjoyed it :)

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So all in all I would really recommend these boxes – they’re a fab way to explore and try new vegan treats that you won’t find in the shops. Do check them out (http://www.vegantuckbox.co.uk/) and you can even get 10% off subscriptions by using the code “blog10″ – so no excuses now! :)

Enjoy!

Apple and Coconut Cinnamon Caramel Swirled Loaf – Dairy free, Gluten Free and Vegan


This may be my best loaf recipe yet… This was so good I had to make it twice, in two days.. and it didn’t last long!


I was sent a bottle of this fab Coconut Syrup, which I was already a big fan of, and I’m really enjoying playing around with date caramel at the moment, so I thought why not combine the two in an appley-caramely-coconutty-squidgy loaf! The coconut syrup adds a lovely richness to the loaf which is fab. The syrup is great for drizzling over yoghurt, sweetening smoothies or pouring over your finished slice of loaf too! You can find out more here – Bali Nutra Coconut Syrup.


I’ve even done a little video too! :)


You will need:

2 cups Gluten-free flour or spelt flour
1 cup coconut palm (or any unrefined) sugar (plus a little extra to sprinkle on top)
1/4 cup Coconut Syrup
1/4 cup and 2 tbsps almond oil or olive oil
3/4 cup apple purée (make your own – instructions here)
1/2 cup desiccated coconut (plus a little extra to sprinkle on the top)
1/2 cup date caramel (recipe here)
1 tbsp Cocoa powder
1 small apple – diced
1/4 cup soya milk mixed with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp himalayan rock salt

Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C. Line and grease a small loaf tin (approximately 8 inches x 4 inches).

Mix the flour, baking soda, coconut, cinnamon, allspice and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix the oil and sugar together until well combined. Add the apple purée and the soya milk (to which vinegar has been added), the coconut syrup and the vanilla extract. Add this mix to the flour mixture and stir well. Add the diced apple and stir well.

Remove about one cup of this batter and put it in a separate bowl. Stir the date caramel in to this mix. Add the cocoa powder and mix well – this adds a lovely richness to the batter and also darkens it to make the swirls more obvious, without giving a Chocolate flavour :)

Start by adding a layer of the plain batter in your loaf tin. Drop a few spoonfuls of the caramel batter and use a fork to marble it, then add another layer of plain batter. Continue to layer and marble the batters until you’ve used it up! Sprinkle with a little coconut sugar and desiccated coconut.

 


Place in the oven for an hour, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Once cooked remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5 mins then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

This is absolutely divine when warm and if you have any spare date caramel I highly recommend smearing some on top!

You can easily freeze this too – it keeps brilliantly.

A host of Easter Treats


With Easter upon us I thought I’d share a few of my favourite, slightly healthier but equally yummy Easter recipes.

So if chocolate is your thing then why not try some quick, raw chocolates like these chocolate coconut treats, or the raw chocolate filled eggs and fruit eggs, or if you fancy something with a little more kick – why not try the chilli chocs.

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Or how about whipping up some quick, cute, marzipan bunnies!

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What about creating a quick batch of Easter spiced biscuits, or some fresh, light lemon and chia cookies to dunk in your afternoon tea on Easter Sunday.

If you’re feeling adventurous you could try my coffee and amaretto cupcakes (using any instant coffee you have to hand).

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And finally..it wouldn’t be Easter without some hot cross buns right? Try my better bun recipe for some hot cross fun! :)

Happy Easter! :)

 

 

 

 

 

Caramel Buckwheat Crispy Squares – Dairy and Gluten free


When I was at school I used to take a Kellogg’s Rice Krispie Marshmallow square with me every day for my breaktime snack. Does anyone else remember them? I was addicted! All gooey and sweet… and delicious…but so full of rubbish…..

So I thought I’d recreate a healthier version of them! So I’ve had a play and come up with  Caramel Buckwheat Crispy Squares. Super easy to make and really scrummy! You could use any puffs you like – buckwheat, spelt, quinoa, rice…. These are better than the originals I think and not half as bad for you :)

You will need:

10 -12 medjool dates

2 tbsp Cashew or almond butter

1 – 2 tbsp warm Water

1 – 2 cups of Buckwheat (or any) puffs

Optional Chocolate for decoration:

1/2 cup Coconut oil (melted)

1/3 cup Cacao/cocoa powder

1/4 cup Coconut syrup

Start by making your caramel. Pit and chop the dates and pop them in to your blender together with the nut butter. Add a little of the water and blitz. You want to nice smooth caramel which is thick enough to hold the puffs together, so you may need to add a little more water but not too much. I have to say, watching the caramel in the blender is very pleasing… look….

Once you have a smooth but sticky caramel remove it from the blender. You will probably have more caramel than you need but that’s ok as you can use it for some other yummy treats like my apple cinnamon smoothie or homemade toffee poppets.

Put your puffs in a bowl and add a few spoonfuls of caramel. Stir it through and keep adding caramel until you have a sticky mess! Line a tupperware pot or tray with some baking paper and press the caramel puff mess in to the tray and push down well.

Pop in the freezer for at least an hour to set. It won’t set firm – it will be all sticky and chewy :)

Once set remove from the freezer, slice and serve!

If you want to decorate with raw chocolate then combine the coconut oil, cacao powder and coconut syrup and whisk with a fork. Drizzle the chocolate over the bars and then pop back in the freezer briefly to set. Enjoy!

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Apple Cinnamon Protein Smoothie


Perfect afternoon pick me up! I’ve been playing around with date caramel a lot lately and happened to have some homemade apple purée in my fridge so thought I’d whip up a caramel apple protein smoothie!

You will need:

1/2 Apple or 2 tbsp apple purée

2 tsp date caramel

1 cup non-dairy milk of choice

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Pure Form Fitness protein powder)

1 heaped tsp cashew butter

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup ice

For the date caramel – take 10 – 12 medjool dates, 2 tbsp almond or cashew butter, a dash of water and blitz in a blender until smooth.

Whiz it all together in a blender, and then top with little pieces of apple and a dusting of cinnamon!

Primal Snack Box – A wonderful box of delicious goodies! A review


I am lucky enough to get some pretty awesome things to review and this is definitely right up there with my favourites.

If you haven’t heard of them Primal Snack Box are the UK’s first monthly paleo snack box delivery service. You can sign up for a regular delivery or you can just buy a one off box and they have two types – Forest or Savannah (Savannah contains meat products). Now although I’m not “paleo”  the Forest box is vegan so totally ticks the boxes for me and they were lovely enough to send me one to try. They were even lovelier and also gave me a special code for you guys to get 10% off your first box! Just use the special code PUREANDSIMPLEBAKES on check out – just click through and place your order! (after you’ve read my review of course ;) )

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Now first off – the presentation is fab! It arrives in a lovely sturdy box, well packaged and really feels like you’re opening up a little gift – it’s so beautifully put together and there’s even a little menu! I think I’m in love already!

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This box arrived at a time when I was about to dog-sit for my friend for 2 weeks so I was constantly on the go and often needed something to grab and eat as I took the dogs out – this box was perfect. That also explains why most of the photos are in the woods!

Primal snack work with small producers which is another thing I really love  and it’s a great way of introducing you to products you may not otherwise have come across.The box contained all these wonderful things!

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Fit bites – these were really good – little balls of fruit and nut – like little power houses of energy. You get two in a pack, they’re generously sized and they tasted delish – great shot of energy for the walk.

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Lifebar – Berry, Maca and Baobab –  now this was a surprise  – never tried one before and wasn’t sure what to expect but it was lovely! Tangy yet creamy, chewy and really filling. Will definitely get these again!

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SAF Raw sweet potato crackers – I had these for my lunch, spread with wasabi hummus and tofu and they were fab! They’re a nice thick cracker, not super crunchy but with some crack and not soggy at all. They held up under the hummus too and didn’t go soft. Loved the flavour and they are super filling. Another one I will definitely get again.

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Roo’bar – inca berry – another delicious tangy bar – a good size for a snack and really tasty. Look how happy I am with it! :)

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MadeGood – almond apricot – now to be honest I was expecting an overly sweet, bog standard cereal-type bar here… but no – not at all. This is all nuts and fruit (naturally as it’s Paleo) and was really tasty. Sweet but not overly so and full of good stuff – tasted great!

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Wyldsson Italian Promix – This was probably the most unusual thing in there for me – I’m not used to savoury snacks like this. It was good – I downed half of it – it’s not too tomato-ey or salty but it is tasty. I sprinkled the rest over my salad :). Really nice and I wouldn’t have tried if it hadn’t been in the box as it’s not the sort of thing I’d go for in a store.

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Nothing But – Beetroot and Parsnip – these are exactly that – nothing but.. dehydrated beetroot and parsnip crisps. They’re really yummy – no added salt or flavour and make a perfect vessel to dip in to hummus! As a savoury snack on their own I think I’d want a bit of salt however, but that’s easily done. No nasties in them at all and the beetroot ones weren’t overpowering in flavour.

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Two bags of mixes from Primal themselves – the mulberry mix (almonds, mulberries and pumpkin seeds) and the good fats mix (cashew, macadmia and coconut) – perfect snack sized bags of 40g and both delicious. A great way to control your portion size too. Lovely combinations of flavours.

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Finally – Ombar – cranberry and mandarin. Now anyone who follows this blog knows I have a penchant for orange chocolate so this was bound to be a winner. This raw choc is lovely – and even nicer dunked (quickly!) in a cup of tea! Creamy smooth chocolate, but not too melty to the touch and a lovely hint of flavour – definitely the thumbs up from me!

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So all in all a pretty amazing box of goodies! What I really love is the way you get a great range and selection of snacks for your money – and things you may not otherwise have tried. There’s a good balance of sweet and savoury, slightly naughtier and also healthier treats and all packaged so beautifully. A box would make a fantastic gift for someone, or a great way to introduce someone to healthier snacking. I’m going to order myself another box right now!

Thanks again Primal Snack Box for keeping me going on those dog walks and vastly improving my snacking over the past few weeks!

Now don’t forget – you can get 10% off your first box by using the special discount code PUREANDSIMPLEBAKES – just click through and place your order!

You can order your own here: http://primalsnackbox.co.uk/

And find them on facebook, twitter and instagram!

 

Homemade Toffee Poppets! Raw, dairy-free Chocolate Caramel Balls!


When I was little my grandma (Nannie :) ) would come to pick me up on a Friday night from school and as a treat she’d take me across the road from our house to the newsagents to buy some sweets. I could have whatever I wanted… More often than not I went for a packet of Poppets – either mint, or the toffee ones (also known as Toffets). For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure – they were a little cardboard box full of nuggets of chocolate covered mint fondant or chewy caramel. I always associate them with those friday night treats and my Nannie and so they hold a special place in my heart :)

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I’ve been having a bit of a caramel craving lately so I thought I’d better try to recreate those yummy little balls of goodness. (I’ll have a go at mint ones too at some point :) ). As well as plain ones I also thought I’d try adding some coconut and nuts to the outside – you could coat yours in anything you like!

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You will need:

For the centres:

10 – 12 Medjool dates

3 tbsp Almond butter or Cashew butter if you don’t want the almond taste

(water as required)

For the chocolate:

1/2 cup Coconut oil (melted)

1/3 cup Cacao/cocoa powder

1/4 cup Coconut syrup

Desiccated coconut/chopped roasted nuts to decorate if desired

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Pop the dates and almond/cashew butter in a processor and pulse until blended and smooth. Add water if you want a softer texture. Take small spoonfuls and roll into balls with your hand – this is easier if you can chill it in the fridge for a while first. Pop the balls in the freezer for as long as you can wait!

To make the chocolate combine the coconut oil, cacao powder and coconut syrup and whisk with a fork.

Take the balls out the freezer and pop in to the chocolate to coat. Use a fork to move them around until coated and then pop on some greaseproof paper to set. Once set a little bit turn so the bottoms don’t stick.

IMG_2738 If you want to coat them in coconut or nuts then as soon as you’ve coated in them in chocolate roll in the coconut/nuts and then place on the greaseproof paper.

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Then place in the freezer until ready to eat! All I need to do now is recreate the little cardboard box!

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