Sunday, 14 May 2017

First Impressions | The Vegan Kind Lifestyle Box May 2017

The Vegan Kind Lifestyle Box offers 5-8 cruelty free vegan products delivered to your door every month for £10 per month (plus £3.15 P&P). Generally the items are food related, which is the reason I subscribed to the box in the first place, but lately there have been items such as hair conditioner and hand cream. When I first subscribed there was often a mug or badge with vegan slogans, which I wasn't keen on so I'm glad there haven't been any of late, but other people loved them and it's hard to please everybody all of the time!

This month's Lifestyle Box arrived earlier in the week so I thought I would give you a quick run down on what I received.

The box was quite heavy so I anticipated lots of yummy goodies. I was pleased to find a binder to hold the recipe cards that come with each box. I've been subscribed for a while now but with nowhere to keep the recipe cards I had been putting them in the recycling box. Now, with a binder to keep them in, I'm far more likely to actually make the delicious recipes each month.

The box always contains a run down of the contents as well as information about the chosen charity for the month. This month 10p from the sale of every box will go to Willows Sanctuary in Aberdeenshire.

Organica Hazelnut Nougat Delight Bar 40g R.R.P. £0.99 - Touted as a cross between a Mars Bar and a Snickers I really can't wait to try this. I've amassed quite a stack of vegan friendly chocolate but nothing like this. I can't see it lasting long!

Humble Brush Bamboo Toothbrush R.R.P. £3.99 - I usually use an electric toothbrush but when I travel for work I tend to take a normal brush so I don't have to pack a charger. This will go nicely in my overnight bag! It's fully biodegradable and an eco-friendly alternative to the plastic brushes that will end up in landfill.

Hippeas Cheese & Love 22g R.R.P £0.99 - I am a sucker for anything cheese flavoured as invariably they contain milk so I was thrilled to see these chickpea puff snacks in the box.

Terra Vegane Egg Free Omelett Mix 250g R.R.P. £4.00 - Fellow vegans tell me they miss egg most of all so this should satisfy those who are looking for an egg fix. Although intrigued to try this I'm not really in any hurry as egg is literally the thing I miss least, taste wise, about being vegan.

Bute Island Creamy Original Sheese 255g R.R.P. £2.30 - I love making 'cheese' based sauces and have been impressed with the offering from Sainsbury's, so I'm looking forward to trying this spreadable vegan cheese from Bute Island. It has been recommended so many times on vegan forums but I've never got around to buying it so I was thrilled to find this in May's box!

Angelic Gluten Free Cocktail Oatcakes 150g R.R.P. £2.60 - These will go perfectly with the Bute Island Sheese!

Vita Coco Coconut Oil (sample sachet) (£4.99 for 250ml jar) - Everyone I know swears by coconut oil, either as a makeup remover, moisturiser, hair mask, or even in recipes. Personally I find it too oily for my skin type so I'll probably use this on my parched hair to help restore some moisture.

The verdict? A good selection of products that I'm looking forward to trying. The value of the full size items in the box is £14.87 so not a lot of saving but it's good to have a selection of new products and brands to try delivered straight to my door.

Do you subscribe to The Vegan Kind? Let me know what you thought of this month's box!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

First Impressions | The Cruelty Free Beauty Box May 2017

The Cruelty Free Beauty Box have just launched two monthly subscription boxes that are both cruelty free and suitable for vegans. Their first box has just arrived so I thought I'd give you my first impressions!

The company offer two different boxes: The first, 'The Makeup Box' is the one I ordered and contains, you've guessed it, makeup products only. The second, 'The Beauty Box' contains bath, body and skincare ranges as well as the occasional fragrance and makeup product. I opted for the makeup box because as a new vegan it can be really difficult to decipher the world of cruelty free beauty and discover new products.

The 'About' section of the company's website details why they decided to launch a cruelty free box (the TL;DR version is they're against animal cruelty and wanted to make it simple for customers to enjoy a box without wondering if the products really are CF. Very admirable!)

So, without further ado, let me show you the first 'Makeup Box' from Cruelty Free Beauty.

The box itself is recyclable cardboard (woo!) and just the right size to fit the items. There are so many subscription boxes that send shoebox sized boxes for no reason. Measuring just over 7" across, the company have ensured there is no unnecessary waste. The box has a glitter logo and the brand information card is right there on top when you open the box. The packaging inside is shredded paper which can also be recycled (woo again!)

There are six items in the box, one of which is a 'bonus' item for those who were first to subscribe. The value of the six items is £39.37! Let's take a closer look at what's inside:

Bellapierre shimmer powder R.R.P. £12.99 -  This shimmery loose eye-shadow powder in the shade 'lava' is a deep bronze colour and looks highly pigmented. I've heard great things about this brand amongst the vegan community so I'm looking forward to testing it out. I just hope I don't end up with glitter all over my face!

Benecos sponge applicator R.R.P. £4.95 - Not really anything I can say about this other than it's a sponge applicator. I don't use sponge eyeshadow applicators, but this might work well with the shimmer powder. Again, I'll let you know!

Love Maja Eyelash / Eyebrow Thickening Serum R.R.P. £8.50 - This is the only item in the box that isn't full size but it's still a really good sized sample. Containing coconut oil, vitamin E oil and castor oil this serum is designed to be used as an overnight treatment. I can't wait to use this.

Fairypants Vegan Lip Paint R.R.P. £4.99 - In the colour 'Rita' this looks, in the pot, to be raspberry coloured, with a hint of glitter running through it. The information states it can be applied once for a 'laid back look' or layered for an 'intense hit of colour' but I'm not entirely convinced. When swatching I couldn't get my finger in the pot very well which is a shame. I'll do a full review and report back.

Benecos Natural Black Kajal Eyeliner R.R.P. £3.95 - I don't use black eyeliner at all, only brown and sometimes plum, because I'm very pale. I will however endeavour to give this a go, particularly as it's a nice pencil and I prefer pencil eyeliner as it's easy to blend and create a smoky, natural effect.

Fairypants Lip Balm Cocktail Range R.R.P. £3.99 - I received the flavour/scent 'Mojito' and it certainly does smell of my favourite cocktail! I imagine this will be perfect as an overnight treatment so I'll keep it by the bed. It smells divine and my mouth watered a little bit when I opened it.

The Cruelty Free Beauty Box 'Makeup Box' was £14.95 (inclusive of postage) at the time of ordering. The company have now put the price up to £19.95 for new subscribers due to underestimating the cost of raw materials to begin with. The 'Beauty Box' is still £14.95 and both are available on rolling subscription.

I am looking forward to trying all of the products in the box and I can't wait to discover new brands with future boxes. Did you sign up for The Cruelty Free Beauty Box? What are your first thoughts?

Friday, 5 May 2017

Food review | Toby Carvery

I bet you thought Toby Carvery, self appointed "home of the roast" would be the last place to find a full vegetarian and vegan menu. Well, you'd be wrong! Toby Carvery have been offering vegan options for quite some time now and with the change of the seasons there has been a slight change of menu so I headed to my local Toby with a friend for a catch up.

First things first - the menu! There are three permanent vegan options and one seasonal option at the time of visiting. I didn't notice the seasonal dish at first as it wasn't on the main menu. The allotment pie sounds delish, and I'll be ordering it next time.

On this visit I opted for the portobello mushroom tart. As stated on the menu I asked for freshly steamed veggies as the ones at the carvery station are cooked using butter. The waiter didn't inform me this time that the roast potatoes were suitable, but every other time I've visited I've been assured they're dairy free.

Aside from the leeks, which I can't stand eating on their own, I was happy with the veg selection I was given (and the amount too!) The tart itself was nice, with a rich pastry and tasty filling. It isn't anything to write home about and won't win any awards but it was good home cooking style grub. Sadly once my meal arrived I had to get up to get some (veggie) gravy, so it would be nice if they could just bring you a jug of gravy with your food, to save you wandering around the meat counter looking for it.

The previous Toby menu had a vegan chocolate and cherry torte, which was to die for. The vegan dessert offering is now a rice pudding made with coconut milk. This sounds lovely but it's more of a winter dessert than a spring/summer pudding so I'm very disappointed that the torte was booted in favour of a winter time favourite, not least because the portion size was abysmal.

Upon arrival I thought the bowl it came in looked very small, so I tipped it out on to the plate the dish came on (which was only slightly larger than a side plate!) There was literally three spoonfuls of pudding. I admit I'm a piglet when it comes to food and often eat far more than should be humanly possible, but I was genuinely disappointed with the meagre portion of pudding before me. How did it taste? Like rice pudding! The compote (raspberry, I think?) was very sharp and overpowering. I wouldn't order this again, and appeal to Toby to bring back the torte!

Overall the Toby Carvery vegan offerings are welcome and adequate. It makes it relatively easy to find a casual venue that vegans and omnivores alike can agree on for a pleasant afternoon catch up!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Food review | MOD Pizza

Wandering the new food court at the Metro Centre, Gateshead, weary from a day of work and shopping, I stumbled across MOD Pizza. Glancing at the menu I was astounded to see that it included a choice of dairy free cheese. I enquired as to whether the bases were suitable for those seeking a dairy free pizza experience and was assured they were. And so I had my first vegan pizza!

The menu is made up of 10 pre-designed pizzas which you can MODify any way you like. Or, you can opt to create a pizza from scratch which is what I did. I opted, obviously, for the dairy free cheese over the red sauce. I then went a little bit OTT with the toppings, adding just about every veggie option they had! This made the pizza quite heavy when it arrived and I ended up eating it with a knife and fork because the topping kept dropping off. This was definitely my own fault for being a little piglet! The base was thin and crispy which suited me perfectly, although it was a little soggy due to my overindulgence (hence the knife and fork!)

Aside from the ability to customise your own pizza the best part of MOD is that all pizzas are the same price, no matter how overboard you go with your choices. Cheese and tomato? £7.47. Every meat known to man? £7.47. ALL THE VEGGIES? Yes, you've guessed it: £7.47.

The staff were really helpful and patient with me as I ummed and ahhed over every decision. I was really impressed that not only did they change their gloves, but they used fresh ingredients from under the counter to avoid cross contamination.

11" double crust!

At MOD you can also create your own salad, indulge in cinnamon strips dipped in a number of different sauces, and choose from a delish variety of home-made teas and lemonades. Gluten free bases are also available at an additional cost. The strawberry lemonade was so moreish that I think I drank about three pints of the stuff before heading home in a sugar daze.

The restaurant itself is stylish and modern. The wash-rooms are unisex; there are separate cubicles but the hand washing facilities are shared. The staff are really helpful and are happy to offer advice about dietary requirements. I've been back since and I only wish it was close enough to order a pizza for collection (although my waistline and arteries are probably pretty relieved!)

Inspired by MOD I've been making my own pizza at home using Sainsbury's cheddar style dairy free cheese on their thin and crispy base almost weekly:

And on that note, I'm off to erm... make a pizza!

Monday, 24 April 2017

40 by 40 | Update - row a boat

Due to the fact that I stopped blogging for over two years I have quite a few updates on my 40 by 40 alternative bucket list to get through!

In June 2015 I visited the beautiful village of Pooley Bridge which is situated by Ullswater, the second largest lake in the Lake District. I've always wanted to row a boat (hence why it's on the 40 by 40 list) but I'm afraid of large open expanses of water for reasons I can't discern.

 Our vessel!

At the time it cost £12 to hire the boat for 30 minutes, which was more than long enough for me. I wasn't brave enough to take the oars for more than a few metres, but I did technically row the boat at some point so I'm quite content to say I've done this! Hopefully I'll row a boat again and more convincingly, but it'll probably be on a boating lake in an urban park!

 I took this pic whilst holding the oar, to prove I did it!