Adventures in semi-veganism

Not a title I ever thought I’d write 🙀

And no, I’m not truly vegan at all, but I had already noticed, not even really a week into these new food restrictions, that “vegan friendly” alternatives are my best bet to satiate dairy cravings.

I’m yet to try the solid “cheese” options, but so far I have under my belt:

  • Cashew milk
  • Coconut and almond creamer
  • Oat based “non dairy frozen dessert”
  • Coconut based “non dairy frozen dessert”
  • Strawberry “yogurt” – made with almond milk
  • Vanilla rice crispie treats
  • Chocolate rice crispie treats
  • Vegan butter alternative
  • One cream cheese style spread

So, I thought I would start (potentially) a series of review posts, as I explore life post anything fun.


Okay yes that is a tad dramatic I know, but it’s how it feels goddammit 🤣😂


Reviews Session 1:

So, buckle up my buttercups and let’s start with the…

Coconut and almond creamer

In a word? Vile. I picked it up because I had previously tried soy and (I think) rice milk in my tea back before and during the hysterectomy period and they were thin and horrid. So I assumed that maybe the viscosity was the problem and tried this.

That’s a no from me. I made a single cup of tea, drank it, and threw the rest of the carton in the bin. It was sweet and all kinds of wrong.

See, I’m an oddity (stop giggling at the back there) I like my tea strong. And not sweet. I basically describe it as;

Builder’s tea but hold the sugar

Which generally translates as: if the spoon stands up by itself? Then we are good.

And the problem with a significant amount of these “milk alternatives”? They are sweetened. Or at least way too sweet for my tea palette.

So my hus-creature, who as I may have mentioned is fairly gosh-darned awesome, did a little research for me and came upon this very informative blog post about milk alternatives for tea drinkers.

So we scrubbed the creamer alternative from the list, and moved on to:

Cashew Milk

I know right? How do you milk a nut? Well I’ve also been asking how you milk peas etc and I am still none the wiser 😂🤣

And honestly? As previously noted, cashew milk has been the best that I’ve tried so far. It makes my tea approximately 80% acceptable to my palette. Which is fine. I’ll go with that. It nothing else, it’s cut down on my consumption a little as there is still a slight aftertaste of “something weird and nutty where there should not be nuts” but I will be making a concerted effort to retrain my palette. It’s just going to take time.

So that’s a tick in the plus column. Oh and as it stays “good for drinking” for 7-10 days post opening if kept refrigerated? It’s not as much of a money sink as some of them.


Seriously, only one week in, and the sheer cost of these things is mind-blowing. So anything that has a vaguely decent shelf life is vital.


Next is…

School Safe Marshmallow Bars

I’m supposed to be cutting all added sugar out of my diet too but come on. That in theory means I’m not supposed to eat too much fruit either. And mostly that is solving my sugar cravings. However, I’m also a sucker for Rice Krispie treats and these were a dairy-free equivalent.

No, they aren’t marked as vegan but they are good. More specifically, the chocolate chip one is delicious. The vanilla one?

The consistency is all “off” and honestly does not taste of vanilla. All in all? To quote the great Prue Leith

Not worth the calories

I mean there’s only 90 of them but still. Also not worth the cost. All in all? Won’t be buying the vanilla ones again.

Next up is

Strawberry Almond Milk Yoghurt

Now, there will be a few of these in the days to come, as I am trying different bases (of the milk substitute) and different brands so first up is

So, as you might imagine, I’m more than a little suspicious of non dairy products of this nature, but I’m a game girl so here we go…

On first look I thought

Oh no, I hate “set” yoghurts

And it’s true, Greek style never ever appealed to me. Also the separation liquid always queases me out a touch. However, then I remembered a nifty little trick from when I was much much smaller.

You just take your spoon and stir like a complete maniac.

Et voila – smooth, unseparated yoghurt 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

And honestly? It truly was very tasty. I would happily eat this one again. I couldn’t tell any difference between this and a “normal” strawberry yoghurt. So this one gets a big thumbs up ☺️

Moving on from fridge to freezer:

Frozen Non-Dairy Desserts

I’ve tried two varieties thus far:

I needed something to deal with lack of chocolate, so the hus-creature picked this one from the coconut base end of the spectrum. Honestly?

I was underwhelmed. I mean, yes it had chocolate flavour, but not enough. Once I broke through enough to get to some of the “chocolate hazelnut swirl” it became acceptable at best.

But it does at least look the part. Next up we have:

The oat milk mint chip variety. I actually tried this one first, as I thought that it wouldn’t upset my pre-conceived ideas of ice cream too much. As it turned out, I was right. This one was pretty darned delicious.

I mean, in the interest of giving a truly honest review, it’s consistency was slightly off, and there’s definitely a porridge-like aftertaste, but overall? A darned good attempt at ice cream made from oats of all things. The chips tasted of bitter chocolate and were a pretty good size and texture and the mint wasn’t overwhelming. I most definitely preferred this to the previous one.

I’m not yet feeling brave enough to venture too far outside of my usual flavour profile comfort zone, but this weekend’s grocery shop has netted me two more varieties to try – one of which is Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia in non-dairy which is a firm favourite of old, so I shall report back later once I have sampled.

And finally, two truly acid tests

Butter substitute #1

I was (and still am really) highly suspicious of all of these. And I drew the goddamn line at “I can’t believe it’s not butter” no really those adverts are stuck in my head from years ago and no I’m not encouraging that. Just no.

But this? Well it looked the part:

However, please note the description? See where it says whipped? Nope. It’s not. It’s rock solid straight from the fridge. However, it does have a consistency that allows me to scrape not-butter-curls to allow me to spread it on toast:

And honestly? It’s a bloody good facsimile of butter. I’ve eaten almost all of this week’s half loaf of Artisanal Bread


Oh dear god what have I become?

Is this now me?!?!?


So last, but by no means least is the one thing I was most scared of:

Cheese substitute

The hus-creature persuaded me that a spread type one was the best way to go, and that going straight for one with a strong additional flavour would probably help best to beat my brain into gear. So, here it is:

Interestingly, it’s the same brand as the first yoghurt I’ve tried and we should note that I did like it. I hadn’t noticed when I chose it though 🤣😂

Doesn’t look too bad does it? And actually? Yes it’s delicious. I mean I scoffed two liberally coated slices of bread yesterday and had to force myself to put it back in the fridge. This tub? Cost six dollars. But I may indulge in my baguette meal with this and I won’t want to stab my eyes out with a rusty spork.

Overall? A win. It could be so much worse.

I do still need to brave the oat milk on cereal, and *whisper it* chocolate brownie hummus.

Yes. I bought some. Yes I’m a sick and twisted (slightly hypocritical) individual but guess what? I understand it’s purpose now.

I’m still not ready yet though….

Letting Go (in a good way)

Bonjour mes amies. I was planning on writing a long post about yesterday’s journey to the seaside, and I will, but I felt this was worth chronicling first.

Warning, hippy dippy potentially New Age-y shite incoming.

(Also swearing)

As many of my readers know, my kids are remarkably picky eaters. To the extent that I often wonder why they aren’t more skinny. In fact, whilst I think they are fine they certainly aren’t underweight.

You know that I’ve tried everything to get them to eat. To eat more, eat healthy(er), to eat variety.

It has, quite frankly, killed me. Both mentally and physically. There has been such an attempt made to:

But it has more often resulted in:

We all know about healthy eating. We know about food groups, vitamins, minerals, “5 a Day” but what do you do when, despite your best efforts, they just won’t?!?!?

Well, if you are me dear audience, you fret, and stress, cry, feel like a failure, and let it beat you down until it becomes (yet another) reason to push you back in your depression spiral/box.

But, the hus-creature loves me, and his kids, and hates to see us like this.

And he read a study on it. A study that showed that forcing picky eaters to eat outside of their comfort zone actually causes way more harm than good.

There was more to it of course, but it’s what it boiled down to.

That it is better that they are given what they will eat, rather than not.

So, that’s what I have been doing.

Peanut butter and jam sandwiches are now a daily meal staple. I sometimes vary it like the above, sometimes not.

And this is the result of careful theorising. I’m always left with a small amount of boxed macaroni and cheese after I make it for them.


Probably because I add the peas!!!


But it’s never enough for an additional two meals on its own.

Voila! Side dish. And yes, one child has broccoli (TT) and one child has cucumber (#1 Son) because of preferences. But I am working on that too. Do you see the tiny amount of each on the other’s plate? It works.

And no, they won’t accept home made macaroni and cheese sauce. I tried.

So yes, their diets are limited, bland and (to me) frankly appalling. But they are happy. They are eating. Meal times aren’t a battle anymore. No more tears.

They have a set “routine” of meals now:

  • Boxed mac ‘n cheese with added peas. At least it’s the organic kind.
  • PB&J
  • Hot dogs
  • Chicken nuggets (hidden veg brand whoo) with shaped potato of some kind.
  • Tinned spaghetti with meatballs – but that is significantly less successful than the boxed type.
  • Cheese quesadilla (again hidden veg) and that is #1 Son more than TT.

There might be more, but I forget.
Thankfully they do also eat:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Ham
  • Cheese
  • Grapes
  • Cucumber (more #1 Son)
  • Broccoli (TT)
  • Carrots (TT)

I’ve excluded the “junk food” they will have when we go out but even that is predetermined and a small list.

  • Cheese pizza (more #1 Son than TT)
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Chicken tenders

Rarely they will accede to a pasta dish.

But gummy multivitamins are aces, and now I’ve embraced my reality? I’m much calmer.

TT also likes to stand on the scales after we do once a week, so that allows me to keep track of her weight, and she’s fine. She even gained a little last week.

So to any haters out there I say, walk a mile in my shoes before you judge. And until then:

What is it about this country

And weird and bizarre food?

I mean it can’t just be Massachusetts right?

The hus-creature did the weekly shop, and one of the items on the list was “baguette fixings” as this is one of the few ways of getting both children to decently fill up for at least one meal.


I think it’s the independence and choice aspect personally.


And whilst trying to hunt for spreadables he sent me these contenders:

Let’s break this down shall we?

  1. Old world chopped chicken liver with onions and eggs – on what planet does this sound like a good idea?!?! Okay I’m the first to admit I like pâté but this? No, this is an abomination.
  2. Vanilla, walnut and raisin cream cheese – okay on the surface it is almost acceptable. Take away the vanilla and maybe we will talk. But all together? No. Just… no.
  3. Crumbled goats cheese with apricot and thyme – you know what? I would have been willing to at least try that. But apparently according to the hus-creature this would make me a perverted deviant (😂🤣) so he did not buy this.
  4. Snickerdoodle hummus – look I’m all in favour of new experiences, but dessert hummus?! God no! And for those of the audience unfamiliar with American flavours, snickerdoodle is cinnamon not nuts.
  5. Brownie batter hummus – this would actually be a secret shame. I’m pretty certain that, had the hus-creature bought this, I would have tried it. And I would probably have loved it. Fortunately this has not come to pass, and so I can retain my dignity.

Food decisions

Since mom has been staying we have been trying to expand the food repertoire of both children. On Monday we made home made pizza.

Yes on these pizzas were:

  • Tomato paste
  • Taco cheese
  • Ham
  • Pepperoni
  • Peas
  • And on TT’s only – mushrooms

He tried everything before putting it on the pizza. Everything got the thumbs up.

Then once cooked? Nope. Nothing. Nada. Outright refusal. We then had to persuade him to eat 3/4 of it based on the fact that he had made it himself.

I’ve reached the end of my tether with #1 Son now. Since before he turned two he’s been beyond ridiculously picky about food. It’s been four years.

His sister (who is two) was, I thought, just as picky. But no. She’s just been copying him. I cannot deal anymore.

So we’ve decided that we cannot simply cater to the lowest common denominator anymore, as she is suffering for it.

I’ve had a rule in place for at least the last year, that if you just try the thing on your plate, and you cannot eat it, I will make toast to replace it BUT YOU HAVE TO TRY.

So last night he went to bed both early AND hungry, because he refused to try potage. It was basically just highly blended down slow cooked beef stew with pasta. We had made it into a sauce dammit.

He just had to TRY IT. And he refused. While his sister wolfed it down. Followed by a dessert of oven baked banana, with a topping of natural yoghurt and a shall amount of melted (Hershey) chocolate. No, he didn’t get any.

I’m at the end of my rope. It’s not purely sensory as he eats things of various consistencies.

I also feel guilt because he’s been recently complaining that meals are “boring” but what am I supposed to do?

This morning we had a breakfast treat of chocolate cherry pie. He REFUSED. Then when finally argued into it claimed it made his tongue “minty”. It wasn’t a sour cherry pie, he’s eaten frosted cherry pop tarts and loved them.

He has particularly been grumping about breakfast being boring. But when I actually try and get him out of his rut? Meltdown.

He did have cereal first, so it’s not like he has gone to school hungry – that would be academic suicide – but lord.

I’m just exhausted from the daily battles. If it’s not food, it’s school, if it’s not school it’s some other perceived unfairness.

Can I have booze yet?

Gastronomy Wrongness (yes, again)

Today we needed to pop to Shaws to pick up some last minute missing items from the normal weekly shop.


Missing because #1 Son had another party yesterday – apparently March is a month of many birthdays in his class, and so the shopping trip needed to be cut short.


So away we went.

And our first stop was hummus.

What could possibly be done to make hummus wrong I hear you ask.

Well dear audience may I present:

Yes. Yes it is. Chocolate. Hummus.

🤢🤢🤢🤢🤢

Can I also point out the spelling as well?!?!?

Argh.

So I picked out some regular hummus, and some nice cheese, and we then headed over to the Easter end cap where I could, I hoped, get some more Peeps.


I love Peeps


Well, guess what I found instead:

What. The. Fuck. Is. This. Abomination?!?!!?

Leave it alone America. Leave it alone.

I was most grumpy about this.

Then tonight I ventured over to the dark side as part of our dinner and I cooked grits.

Appetising

Actually, to give them their dues, paired with the Salsa Verde pork that was our dinner, they were remarkably edible.

(I still felt like I was eating porridge with my pork though 😂🤣)

Protein is good for you after all

Sometimes gastronomic adventures are good. Sometimes they are bad.

This country has an interesting fascination with protein. So many adverts have “eat this snack it has Xg of protein in it

I’m not too fussed, I don’t follow any of the diets where this is necessary.

But when the new Wegman’s opened in Malden (and this was big news) the hus-creature discovered something amazing:

Meat. Wrapped. Cheese.

💕💕💕💕

There are other options but the one on the left is just delicious. Deli meats at that!

To accompany it:

Mead:

Today we purchased Desire and Fling. I may report back.

There is also a local barley wine that I have been happily sampling:

All in all, a good evening.

Breakfast – USA Style

I think anyone who knows me well in real life probably knows I have a teeny tiny obsession with Froot Loops.


Also American candy, but right now I am yearning for an old fashioned creme egg, or Hotel Chocolat pralines


But as it’s bloody cold, and I used to love flavoured porridge (I was gutted when Graze stopped doing their breakfasts) and I was watching the Cinnabon Undercover Boss episode where it came up, I thought I would try this:

This is Brown Sugar Maple flavoured Cream of Wheat.

I admit I was a little sceptical, but thought I’d treat it like Ready Brek and give it a go.

It’s like semolina pudding.

I love semolina pudding!!!!

Basically, this is my perfect hot breakfast food and I’m thrilled.

For once, a positive change!

I’m still bitter about bacon 😫😂🤣