Oxford City Limits – Gluten Free Vegan Food out and about!

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I think it’s safe to say that gluten free vegan food is not easy to find, and I find myself planning cafes and restaurants where I know i’m guaranteed to find something to eat – sometimes the busy student lifestyle just doesn’t leave me enough time to cook , and sometimes I just need to treat myself.

Oxford is a city full of nifty little cafes and cocktail bars, yet (before I went gluten free and started worrying about shared friers), I always end/ed up eating chips. Or fries. Or fried potato products. It’s a real shame when even living in a city doesn’t leave you with much food choice!

However, I’ve found it is possible to eat gluten-free and vegan, as long as you plan in advance and sometimes have to forego a meal in order to spend time with your omnivorous friends. It’s a real shame for me to go to a restaurant and find I can’t eat anything and the chefs is not willing to sub out an ingredient (soy sauce i’m talking to you!), but not eating is much better than feeling ill for days after eating a meal that will make me ill.

Over the last few days, i’ve been taking in all the food Oxford has to offer – and it’s actually pretty good.

First, I don’t think a trip to Oxford would be complete without sampling G&Ds ice cream, and although their cafe menu is extensive, I don’t need none of that ‘large ice cream with molten brownie slices and a mountain of whipped cream’. Give me a delicious duo of sorbets and I am happy as Larry. I had a scoop each of the raspberry and passionfruit sorbets.

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Next on the list is EAT. EAT is a chain of sandwich shops, originating in London, and specialising in ‘healthy food’. Although I can’t eat their sandwiches, they do offer a great little range of fruit pots and several soups per day – this is the dairy-free gluten-free vegan Thai Butternut Squash soup in small. I found that a small pot was enough and you can check their weekly soup menu online (with allergen information) before you start speeding off for their soup of the day. I teamed my soup with a Mango and Lime fruit chiller – made with fresh lime! What i’ve always loved about EAT is their ingredients and allergens are marked clearly on every item, making it a little bit of a dream for anyone with allergies and/or intolerances.

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Finally, I had to sample the Gluten Free menu at GBK – finally a restaurant that provides it’s own separate gluten free menu! I had the GF Dippy Hippy burger – grilled aubergine, pineapple, satay sauce, tomato, onions and alfalfa sprouts on a gluten-free bun. I also believe the GF Veggie Classic burger is safe for vegans if ordered without mayonnaise, but don’t take my word on it! I really liked how this wasn’t just a burger with ingredients subbed to make it seem ‘meaty’, but an original burger that’s not trying to be meat. However, I thought the bun definitely tasted gluten-free and I wasn’t too impressed with the filling – although i’m sure that’s more a personal food choice rather than it being a terrible burger!

To sum it all up then, it is definitely possible to find food to eat when on the go or in a foreign city, it just takes a little forethought and luck!

Rachel x

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Pure and Simple, Vermicelli

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This ‘recipe’ actually came about trying to use up some leftover ingredients from my Vietnamese Spring Rolls, and I think it works – at least, I think it’s delicious!

I can see this fast becoming one of my student staples in the run up to my final exams, because it’s quick and surprisingly yummy, requiring minimum clean-up and prep.

I bought a packet of Vermicelli noodles (40p, Asian supermarket) and soaked them in boiling water for 5 minutes (these are also readily available in my local regular supermarket in both the fresh and dried versions – the dried version need soaking but the fresh should be ready to go!)

Whilst your noodles are soaking, prep your vegetables – I used my veggie constants – lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes although substitute freely to use up ingredients or to suit your taste.

Pop a teaspoon of oil in a pan or work and heat, adding the noodles and vegetables and stirring. I then added a few splashes tamari (you could use soy sauce if not gluten-free), a sprinkling of garlic powder and ground ginger then stirred together.

Once heated, take the pan off the heat and serve with garlic chilli sauce (I used Sriracha).

Enjoy!

Rachel x

Hot potato, hot potato…

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Maybe this is just England, but growing up vegetarian (and now vegan), I seem to have been built on jacket potatoes. There’s something so wonderful about a classic English caff serving warm, filling food – and no ‘caff’ would be complete without a selection of jacket potatoes.

The creme de la creme of potato fillings has to be the humble cheese and beans, but when you haven’t got any melty vegan cheese in the house (possibly because you’ve eaten the entire packet before even imagining putting it with other food – Violife, i’m talking to you!), a simple can of baked beans will do the trick.

I like my potatoes baked the Delia-way – I wash them, prick them all over with a fork, place them on a foil-lined baking tray and coat them with olive oil and sea salt. I baked mine for 1 hour at 220C (428F) and they were lovely and fluffy on the inside.

Once baked, cut them into quarters and fluff the insides with a dairy-free margarine (I used Pure Sunflower spread) whilst heating up the beans – I used half a tin but you can never really have enough. No baked beans where you live? No problem, there’s a wealth of recipes on the internet like this one from The Guardian which I will be sure to test at some point when I forget to pick up a tin of baked beans and have a hankering for them…

Pour the beans over your potatoes and voila! The humble jacket potato and beans. Perfect served with a simple side salad ‘greasy spoon’-style – I used chopped lettuce, tomato, cucumber and spring onion (scallions).

Happy baking!

Rachel x

Spring Roll-in’ in the Deep

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We could have had it aaalllllll… and now you can, with these impossibly quick and easy Vietnamese Spring Rolls.

I see these babies all the time over at What Fat Vegans Eat on Facebook and everyone swears how easy and yummy they are, and I finally went to the Asian Supermarket today and knew I had to track down some rice paper wraps.

Not going to lie, I didn’t find any – although in a shop filled to the brim with imported produce which i’m both unfamilar with and can’t understand what the packaging says, I did pick up some exciting stuff. A few recipes I want to try out use rice vinegar, sesame oil, tofu and vermicelli noodles, so I picked up a few treats – but I also found some exciting food I didn’t intend to buy but couldn’t resist! I got some japanese mochi ice desserts (will post more on these later) and some lychees in syrup (which i’ve tried at restaurants but now I have a whole can to devour at home!)

I caved and bought a ‘Vietnamese Spring Roll’ kit in Tesco as the only way to get my paws on some rice paper wraps – £1.99 for 6 wraps, vermicelli noodles and a packet of peanut dipping sauce (unfortunately not gluten-free so will lovingly donate to my housemates!)

These would make a really great (and impressive!) lunch for work or school, they’re amazingly simple and pretty cute!

Recipe, as always, after the break!

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Dream a little dream of (ice) cream…

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It seems nowadays that everyone’s jumping on the banana ‘nice’ cream bandwagon, and i’m not one to miss out on a good vegan bandwagon. Especially one as deliciously simple as this one.

This looks like regular nice cream, albeit a bit melty. However, in a fit of culinary madness, I decided to add almost everything from my baking cupboard to my regular old frozen bananas in an attempt to recreate one of my favourite ice cream flavours: the refreshing mint choc chip.

Don’t get me wrong: nothing can go particularly wrong with whizzing up some frozen ‘nanas in your blender and eating straight from the jug, but sometimes it’s fun to experiment (I should know, i’m a chemist).

Recipe after the break.

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“Chili” Love Songs

imageAfter a less-than-hectic Valentine’s weekend, tonight i conjured up one of my staple gluten-free vegan recipes from one of my favourite websites, Oh She Glows. This is simple and quick, packed with protein, and easily rustled up with some store cupboard staples.

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Let’s talk about snacks, baby

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Snacking. I try to stick to three square meals a day, but sometimes you need something to tide you over until you can be bothered to spend an elongated time in the kitchen.

Enter the reigning queen of snacks.

A polyamorous marriage of dips so good you forget all about your pre-conceived ideas of bigamy and revel in the naughtiness of it all.

I’m talking about tomato salsa, houmous, and oh-so-delicious guacamole, with a halo of corn tortilla chips.

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