We tried Huel, the vegan-friendly UK-based powdered meal replacement manufacturer. How does it fare? Here's our review.
Kings of the ice cream world, and of doing business differently, Ben and Jerry's have announced they are working on vegan ice cream flavours.
FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement) - a charity organisation that works to end the use of animals in farming - has been badgering Ben and Jerry's in the wake of their annual free cone day which occurred on 14th April 2015. A slew of campaigners have been shown holding placards outside Ben and Jerry's establishments saying why they want vegan ice cream on the menu, and FARM has also been pushing the agenda on Twitter and via a petition.
Ben and Jerry's have responded though. And it's good news.
At this point there's no confirmation on what flavours will be veganised, or how long it'll be until we see vegan Ben and Jerry's on the shelves, but we hope to see some old favourites like Cookie Dough and Phish Food soon.
To support FARM's ongoing campaign to push for vegan options, check out http://demanddairyfree.com/ and sign their petition to Ben and Jerry's, which currently sits at over 21,000 signatures.
The Almond Tree is a small café based in Brighton serving exclusively vegetarian and vegan food. Its modest, unassuming exterior hides some of the best quality and lovingly created food in the south-east of England. The aim is not to impress with long lists of fancy ingredients and decorative displays of food, but neither is it to offer simple and easy dishes to the masses. It's a labour of love, where every single dish feels like it has been made especially for you. Many restaurants aim for that home-cooked meal feeling but fall short, whilst The Almond Tree has you enjoying good food, whilst evoking a hint of nostalgia for familial cooking.
I've been to The Almond Tree several times before, but this review is going to be slightly different. Firstly, the café closed for several months towards the end of 2014, and has recently been refurbished. Secondly, this is taken from their Valentine's Day special menu - the first of their planned event evenings. Normally, they shut in the evenings, so food is a breakfast/lunch affair. But this three-course meal provides an apt opportunity to review the café anyway.
Before headed for the Almond Tree, my partner and I picked up some drinks. This was a BYOB event, which I think is always a plus. You get to choose exactly what you'd like, without paying obscene amounts for a bottle of wine or a few beers. If BYOB isn't to your taste, there were still drinks on offer at the café, so really it's a matter of preference, but you can't deny having the option is a bonus.
When we turned up, the lovely staff greeted, introduced themselves, shook our hands and took our coats. It's that initial personal touch that makes The Almond Tree an experience, and not just about the cuisine.
But it didn't stop there. Just a couple of minutes after we'd be shown to our table, we were offered a (free) glass of Prosecco to start the evening. We sat sipping our Prosecco, and were able to see the chef cooking our meals in the open plan kitchen just metres away. This filled the room with rich aromas of roasting vegetables and gentle spices.
The first course was a parsnip and ginger soup, topped with sliced fried tofu and kale crisps. A warm, thick, wintery soup that was smooth and packed with flavour. The tofu was fried to perfection - chewy yet tender, and marinating before my eyes in the delicious soup, whilst the kale crisps provided a nice contrast to the texture. Initially I thought they may be a bit out of place in this soup, but as soon as I tasted the combination it all felt right, with the kale slowly turning soft as it sat in the soup. A brilliant start.
Our main was being prepared as we ate, ensuring wait times between dishes was minimal. I was unsure what to expect from the main. The menu read 'tofu and spinach bake on a celeriac and nutmeg puree, served with cherry tomatoes confit and crispy vegetables.' I saw the chef finishing the meal, and the other staff armed with cameras taking photos of the creation, again showing the real sense of pride about the dishes that were coming out of the kitchen.
Rest-assured, the food was delicious. The tofu and spinach bake was reminiscent of an omelette. Again, beautifully cooked tofu presented a meaty texture which began to crumble in the mouth. The cherry tomatoes were divine, and the puree added a sweet flavour to the other components of the dish. The vegetables acted as a nice side, but the main event was definitely the bake itself. My tofu misadventures (particularly baking and grilling efforts) have demonstrated how difficult it is to cook with that good ol' block of soya, so this was really quite an impressive dish.
The final dish on the menu was fresh fruit, soya and coconut whipped cream, and chocolate drops. That description does not do this justice. I was fully expecting (and would have been happy with) a plate of fruit and chocolate chips, and a side pot of cream. What came out was more like a sundae; a martini glass with the components layered. Whilst the initial soup was like a farewell to the cold winter months that had just passed, the dessert was like a greeting to summer. Sumptuous fresh berries marinating in juice combined with a thick, sweet cream and shavings of dark chocolate. So simple, yet the superlative point of the meal. Delightful.
And before we could leave, we were brought a plate of homemade truffles - thick, sticky dark chocolate to end a brilliant meal.
As mentioned, The Almond Tree is a labour of love. Every ingredient to the experience, both literal and otherwise, is provided with the sole aim of creating dishes that can be deemed as perfect. It'll never win awards for innovative cooking, or gastronomic brilliance. But instead it offers something much more important: a sense of passion in everything they do.
Vegan but missing your peanut satay Chinese takeaway? Look no further. Tasty, easy and full of protein.
Preparation time: 5 minutes.
One Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
One teaspoon of your favourite chili sauce
Garlic powder to taste
Two tablespoons of soy sauce
Microwave the seitan pieces until they're warmed through in a bowl.
Add the peanut butter, chili sauce, garlic powder and soy sauce to the bowl and stir.
Microwave for a further 30 seconds/minute.
Put on kebab sticks and grill until brown.
Orange and Ginger Edamame with Baked Tofu
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 40-60 minutes
Calories: 535 (without oil)
One Small Red Onion
100g Chestnut Mushrooms
25g of Miso Paste
One or Two cloves of garlic
Ginger to taste
One teaspoon of orange essence
Salt and pepper
A Tofu Press or some kitchen roll and heavy books
1: Press the tofu for 20 minutes
2: Add salt and pepper to the tofu and bake on a high heat until brown and slightly crispy or to your preferred texture. (Alternatively you can fry the tofu in coconut in oil and cut down on cooking time but up the calories.)
3: Finely chop or grate the ginger, onion, garlic and orange essence. Simmer in a pan along with the miso paste and a dash of water until the onion and ginger softens. Then set aside.
4: Meanwhile coursely chop the courgette and mushrooms.
5: Once the orange and ginger mix is cooked and the veg is ready you can about your day while the tofu bakes in the oven, sae in the knowledge that the flavours are blending nicely in the orange and ginger mix.
6: When the tofu is ready, fry the courgette and mushrooms. Either dry fry or use water or oil.
7: Add the Edamame and tofu to the ginger and orange mix and simmer until cooked through. Deglaze the pan with water as needed. I find this helps the orange and ginger flavours be absorbed into the tofu.
8: Once the courgette and mushrooms are browned off, add these to the ginger mixture and serve.
Deciding on a logo is hard. In your head you hold your hopes and aspirations for what your business will be. In your hand you hold a poorly sharpened pencil, hovering just over a scrap of paper. Between your right frontal brain, the pencil nib and the paper is the potential to draw the best, most awesome logo the world has ever known. Sadly, what comes out looks more like the ravings of a prisoner of Bastille.
But you draw and you discuss and you drink more coffee than you should. And eventually, caffeine jitters setting in, and you give up. Or at least that’s our experience.
Fortunately, there are people out there who can help. People who make logos and corporate brands for a living. Our man was Kurt Henderson.
Kurt listened patiently as we nattered on about what it is we sell, about our ethics and spluttered out half-formed ideas of our own.
After a little back and forth, we’ve happily arrived on what you see before you. First and foremost True Icon is about fashion - our logo needed to look good. But crucially, we also want to spread the word about ethical consumer choices. We aim to prove that you don’t have throw your morals out the window in search of looking and feeling good. It is from the idea of spreading the word that we arrived upon our speech-bubble inspired logo.
As True Icon grows, we hope the logo will grow with us. No brand ever comes complete with brand identity and values, these are attached as the company progresses. Logos are vessels to be filled. For now, we’re just pleased to have a fine looking vessel.
A big thanks has to go to Kurt. What you see before you is the result of his patience, keen eye and understanding of our needs as clients.
All the best and now that our logo is sorted, expect further news on our first range of products shortly.
Kai and Rob
P.S. We like to interview everyone we work with at True Icon and Kurt was kind enough to oblige.
Kurt Henderson: An Interview
How did you get into graphic design?
Design entered my life from creating custom forum interface graphics for gaming clans. From there on I focused on mastering photoshop thus tailoring my designs towards all the different industries. It's been a fascinating experience.
What past experiences/clients do you have?
The Hugo Boss simplicity design was quite interesting to work with when I was in my teens. Throughout University I carried out some work for M&S, Spotify, Reading & Leeds festival which were all great opportunities to express my creativity.
Which project have you most enjoyed?
I think there where milestones for me where I could easily say I enjoyed a project far more than another. They are all equally important to me and all play a huge part in my life. I mostly enjoyed being a 13 year old boy with many dreams and aspirations, that was the project I enjoyed most, and still do, I'm still that 13 year old boy deep down.
What inspires/influences you?
My inspiration derives from many different sources, I have my favourite designers who inspire me of course, but my belief to think outside the box grasping onto various elements that make that ever so curious side of my brain light up.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into design?
Yes, plenty, but there's a very important lesson for all of us we need to learn. If you want to excel, finding a synergy that binds your love for design with a personal experience or aspiration. Then you'll find you naturally 'need' to design.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
My work can be found on my website: kurthenderson.com or Deviantart.com with the user name Ckygfx. Hope you enjoy what you see.
I've wanted to do a piece on the Depressed Cake Shop for a while, so it was great to get the opportunity to interview Charley - one of the people directly supporting this movement with a Depressed Cake Shop in Brighton. Before you ask, no, this isn't about a cake shop that's suffering from mental health issues, but rather an innovative, grassroots, pop-up movement sweeping the globe from the US and UK, to India, Canada and more. Its goal is to tackle mental health by targeting people's sweet tooths - awareness raising and charitable fundraising through the sale of cakes. But I'll let Charley tell you more about the movement below. Charley's shop is doing its first run on 16th November in Brighton and you can check out www.depressedcakeshop.com to find out when your next local DCS pop-up is happening.
Hey Charley! Tell us what the Depressed Cake Shop's all about.
The Depressed Cake Shop was a concept started by Miss Cakehead - pop up shops, organised locally, selling grey cakes and giving their proceeds to charity. 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer from mental ill health at some point in their lives and yet it is still such a taboo subject. It seems to be something that people are on the one side scared of finding out about and on the other side have a real fear of being judged for. The idea of the DCS is to help break down those barriers and give a safe platform from which to discuss these matters - cake! So on one side, the DCS is about raising awareness and breaking down barriers, but I think it is worth noting that there is also another side to this. Many of the people involved have been affected by mental illness and many use baking as way of helping to manage this and find joy in their lives (because lets be honest, when is cake a bad thing!?) and the DCS is also about supporting them and giving them a space to display their creations.
Depressed Cake Shops have been popping up in loads of places (literally, as most of them are pop-up shops) since the idea first came about. What made you want to take part in the movement?
Baking has always been a part of my life. Some of the first memories I have are of baking bread and cupcakes with my grandparents and the immense sense of satisfaction that came from sitting down together to enjoy something marvellous that you have created with your own hands. When I first heard about the DCS it was something that really resonated with me. To be perfectly candid I have suffered from depression and anxiety for a number of years and have first hand experience of other people's mental ill health. I remember when I was first diagnosed with any mental health issues and I was pretty much embarrassed to tell anybody. Even now, having suffered for a number of years and built a wonderful group of friends around me who really understand, I still struggle to talk to my friends when I am having bad days. Quite simply, nobody wants to seem crazy. That's why I think things like the DCS are so important. You wouldn't be embarrassed to ask a friend to get something off a high shelf for you if your leg was broken, so why it is then embarrassing to ask for a cuddle or a shoulder to cry on when your head is a bit blue? It is through platforms like the DCS that we can start to break down those barriers, build understanding and support those who need it without fear of judgement.
How do you feel baking is linked to mental health?
As I mentioned before, many of the bakers involved use baking as a way of managing their condition. It has long been acknowledged that creative outlets can massively help people to work through mental health issues and baking is no different. To not just be productive but to then create something out of that time which you and other people can enjoy is a wonderful and fulfilling thing. Aspirations and dreams can be stripped away from you through mental illness and bringing joy back in small ways is the first step to getting better. I also find baking amazing - it is like creating something out of nothing!
You're aiming to do your first pop-up on 16th November - any clues as to what cakes we'll be seeing on the day?
The bakes will all be thematically linked to mental illness, either through colour or design. I think its important to not get too bogged down in the seriousness of it all so expect some tongue in cheek names like 'not so jammy dodgers' and 'when life hands you lemon drizzle cake'. Other than that, you'll have to come and see!
The proceeds from Depressed Cake Shops go to charity - which charities have you chosen and why?
We've chosen the charities Mind and Right Here. Mind does phenomenal work and have incredible links to national and local schemes. Right Here promote mental and emotional wellbeing for young people aged 16-25 in Brighton. I think in Brighton young people are particularly at risk, with many having moved away from home and unsure of how to get any help. The work that Right Here do is crucial to giving support and advice.
What's the future of the Depressed Cakes Shop movement and what do you hope it will achieve?
Ideally the Depressed Cake Shop will continue to run pop ups to provide a platform for discussion and education. In the future we'd like to run baking workshops and there are plans to set up a charity in order to help those who would like to use their baking skills to set up a business.
Finally, what's your absolute favourite cake/pastry/baked goody?
Ooooh, now that is a toughie. For me I think it has to be a fairy cake straight from the oven (well, maybe 5 minutes after). It was the first thing I learnt to bake and evokes happy memories of my grandmother's kitchen. Plus, they are ready from scratch in 25 minutes!
A big thanks to Charley for taking the time to speak to us about the Depressed Cake Shop. If you're in Brighton then visit her shop on 16th November. If not, consider starting your own! Find out how you can get involved.
Welcome to my long overdue explanation of what True Icon means to me. When Rob and I started the site we agreed we’d each write what the site was about and what it meant to us as our first posts.
Well, Rob stuck to our promise while I wrote my post months ago and subsequently scrapped it. I’m a perfectionist who eventually, grudgingly, settles for less than perfect; this time in the form of a stream of conscious blast of blogging.
So what does True Icon mean to me? When Rob first came up with the name and the tag “Become the Icon” it grew on me over the space of the next 5 minutes to encompass a lot of what I wanted the site to be. I’m not sure if it came endowed with meaning that took me 5 minutes to understand (It’s a strong possibility) or if I subscribed my own meaning to it. At this point it probably doesn’t matter.
So what is it? In short, we want True Icon sell ethical and stylish clothes. Both Rob and I have been vegan for a number of years and we’ve found ethical ‘fashion’ to be at best highly suspect. We’re hoping to provide organic, fair trade and fashionable clothing for both men and women as soon as possible. As you can probably tell from the state of the site at the moment, neither of us our web designers; we’re working on the shop functionality and going over every aspect of our products to make sure they’re as ethical as they can possibly be.
In the meantime, we’re throwing out material on anything and everything that we care about. Loosely broken into categories:
Culture: be that books, games, music, films or what have you. It’s a broad title but if it’s good enough for the Guardian, it’s good enough for me.
Fitness: We’re both fitness obsessed and we think everyone should be. Expect posts on workouts, diets, Martial Arts and how to generally make yourself into a superhero.
Essays: In which we cover topics in depth that we have been thinking about recently. This is a bit of a “File as Misc.” section.
Food: Always vegan. Nearly always healthy, fitness focused, quick and convenient. Apart from the odd indulgence including Oreo Ice Cream and Raw Food Vegan Snickers (both coming soon!). Check out the True Icon Rule of 7 for an explanation of the types of food we cook.
Technology: It has a larger and larger part in all our lives and almost everyone is fascinated by some part of it – we fall under the category of ‘almost everyone’, so here it is.
Fashion: Last but by no means least. We’ll cover brands and products we back as well as debates around just what exactly ethical fashion is anyway.
The link in all this is that we will cover things from an ethical standpoint. So if you’re an ethical dude or dudette, or you’d like to be, you’re in the right place
Finally getting onto the subject of the name, it’s easier to approach from our tagline “Become the Icon”.
I’ve heard a lot of vegan jokes over the years. But my favourite?
How do you know if someone is vegan?
Don’t worry. They’ll tell you.
We’ve all met the preachy vegan types. They’re so stoked with themselves and their attitude to life.
“Would you like a crisp Mark?”
“Umm... no thanks. I take my crisps cruelty free.”
This is a slight exaggeration and in reality things are a little more nuanced. But no matter what way you look at it, no matter what type of vegan you are - it’s so very, very true.
It’s true about any ethical or moral choice. I wouldn’t be vegan if I didn’t think it was the right thing to do. And if I think it’s the right thing to do it would follow that I want others to be vegan as well. And what better way to get people to be vegan than telling them about it, right?
But there are different ways to let people know.
1) You can bombard them with facts.
Facts about why meat is bad, why diary is bad, why animal testing is bad. Facts about how these things damage the environment, global society and perhaps even your health.
Facts about how bee’s numbers are critically low, how we’re over fishing to the brink of disaster, how inefficient beef production is. Ad infinitum, ad infinitum, ad infinitum.
The reaction is unlikely to be a favourable one. It’s a bit like telling someone their hair is crap and that you don’t like their music taste and then asking them to buy your latest record. It’s not going to work.
Option two then.
2) You can set an example.
Live your life to its fullest and live it ethically. Be an informed, healthy, attractive individual.
People might comment on your food, your clothes, your energy levels or physique. At this point, if you like, you can mention you’re vegan or vegetarian or that your clothes are fair-trade, ethical and just downright awesome in every way.
They’ve asked, so let them know. Let them know that being vegan is one of the best things you’ve ever done for you.
Over time they’ll see how you live your life and they’ll start to see that maybe they could make some changes. Maybe how you live will work for them too.
I’ve seen this with so many of my friends, family memebers and collegues. They come to making ethical choices in their own time and in their own way. They might not go vegan but they might shop more locally, eat less meat or avoid animal tested products.
Anyone with an ethical conscience wants immediate change. And it can happen. We will fight for it with pen and with fire, with protest and with boycott.
But first we need to set an example of how life can be.
That’s what True Icon means to me. I hope to set an example of just how easy and enjoyable it is to live a compassionate and considerate lifestyle. Most importantly, I hope you’ll join me.
If you’ve read this far – major props. Please get in touch with us and let us know how we can make the site better and what you’d like us to cover. We’d love to hear from you.
Recipes at True Icon follow a bit of a philosophy. Below are the 7 commandments of True Icon Food. 1: Our recipes are always vegan.
2: They won’t be overcomplicated or make use of ingredients you couldn’t find at your local farmers market or supermarket. This keeps things cheap and convenient.
3: Our cooking is fitness based. Which means a high protein content, healthy fats and wholesome unrefined carbs.
4: We won’t use processed sugar in anything. Sweetness comes from fruit.
5: We will try to only use whole foods. In our weaker moments we might use some fake meats– like in our ‘Chicken’ Sate recipe.
6: We will try to give a breakdown of macro-nutrients and or calories (we may get lazy on this one at times).
7: Lastly, meals should take up the minimum amount of time to prepare and most importantly be downright irresistible.
If you have a recipe that you'd like featured that follows these rules, get in touch and we'll hook you up with a guest spot!
Vegan Blueberry Chocolate Hemp Ice Cream
This no sugar protein-rich ice cream is fantastic if you're looking for a delicious way to get more protein in your diet. Each batch has 48g of protein for a mere 480 calories.
- 350g of silken tofu
- 200g of frozen blueberries
- 30g of Chocolate Flavour Vegan Blend Protein Powder
- 200g of soy yogurt
- One teaspoon of almond essence (optional)
- One teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)
- Blend all ingredients together until smooth.
- From here either put in the freezer for 3 hours, stirring halfway through to avoid the edges freezing completely.
- Or place into ice cream machine for 10 minutes until the mixture reaches the consistency of ice cream or stops rotating.
- And you're done!
Cucumber is underrated. On holiday's in Cyprus I've had it served as an appetiser with a pinch of salt. It's eaten with toothpicks while you wait for the main course to arrive. This recipe takes that as a starting point and adds mint, basil cider vinegar and chili to the mix.
Preparation time: Under 5 minutes
400g cucumber sea salt pepper one small chili a tablespoon of cider vinegar Fresh mint leaves
Finely dice the cucumber, chili and mint and toss together. Add the cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and serve. Easy!
Chili Lime Butter Bean Salad - made in less than 5 minutes and fantastic for sharing, the chicory leaves act as edible spoons.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
200g butter beans Two Tomatoes One head of Chicory The juice of half a lime One small Chili One tablespoon of olive oil Salt & pepper to taste
The Salad: Coarsely chop the tomatoes and add to the butter beans in a large mixing bowl.
The Dressing: Finely dice the Chili and mix with lime juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
1: Add the dressing to the salad and toss together.
2: Peel the chicory leaves from the head and place in a flower shape around the outside of the serving bowl.
3: Lastly, pour the beans, tomatoes and dressing into the centre of the serving bowl and enjoy!