Tried & Tested Vegan Suitable Recipes

Even though I no longer eat meat, eggs and dairy I still like to enjoy a varied diet. I love spending time at home adapting recipes to make them vegan, or trying out vegan suitable recipes that I find online.

I thought I’d share some of my favourite tried and tested vegan suitable recipes with you from the last few months so that you can see how they turned out in real life. The great thing about each of these is that they are delicious meals in their own right that just happen to be plant based, so I recommend giving them a go whether you’re vegan or not.

(With the exception of the vegan bacon which I appreciate is a bit more specialist!)

Vegan Ramen with Creamy Sesame Broth by Cilantro & Citronella

I’ve tried out a few recipes for ramen now, this one is my favourite by far.

Tried & Tested Vegan Suitable Recipes

The broth is wonderfully creamy and takes no time at all to make so if you were short of time you could just make that part with some noodles and throw in some stir fried veggies.

Tried & Tested Vegan Suitable Recipes

If you have a bit more time on your hands though I thoroughly recommend making the crumbled tofu, a sweet and salty concoction that I think resembles bacon bits! I find that it takes a long while to get the tofu mix crispy in the pan so once I’ve cooked it as per the recipe instructions I transfer it to a heatproof bowl and leave it in an oven set to 100 degrees C, then I prepare the rest of the dish. This helps it to dry out a bit more which gives it a wonderful texture.

Quick and Easy Basil Avocado Pasta by Nourish Your Glow

I always feel a bit guilty about eating pasta dishes since the main ingredient is a complex carb that in itself isn’t particularly nutritious. However the simple all in one blended creamy sauce used in this recipe is packed full of good fats and nutrients.

Tried & Tested Vegan Suitable Recipes

It helps that it’s an absolute cinch to whip up in a blender too, it takes me less than 15 minutes start to finish, most of which is just time spent waiting for the pasta to cook!

Vegan Streaky Bacon by Avant-Garde Vegan

There are a number of reasons why you might not want to attempt this recipe. The ingredients aren’t all readily available in supermarkets, the ingredients list is long which makes it costly if you’re buying everything from scratch, it takes a long time to put together with lots of steps involved, including upwards of 20 minutes of elbow grease if you don’t have a machine with a dough hook.

Tried & Tested Vegan Suitable Recipes

Having said all that, if you DO decide to give it a go the end result is nothing short of genius and perfect for anyone being tempted off the vegan path!

Thickly sliced, the seitan resembles maple glazed gammon and when cut wafer thin and fried it really does become a convincing copy of actual bacon rashers.

Tried & Tested Vegan Suitable Recipes

Oliver made a ‘bacon sandwich’ from it with HP sauce and is convinced that our friends wouldn’t know the difference if we served it to them that way.

Here are a few tips I’ve found to ensure that your vegan streaky bacon is a success!

  • Ingredients such as the liquid smoke, vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast can be found via Buywholefoodsonline.co.uk or in Holland and Barrett.
  • I use my Kenwood KMix with a dough hook attachment to knead the dough, reducing the kneading time by 4 minutes to make sure it doesn’t get overworked.
  • Make sure to choose a thick grease proof baking paper and wrap the raw bacon as tight as you can, making sure that it’s fully sealed. This is to avoid water getting in whilst it simmers as otherwise it is an absolute pain to get the paper off at the end! I use three generous layers of cling film.
  • Wait until the bacon is completely cooled, preferably refridgerated for at least an hour, before trying to remove the paper and slice it. This lets the seitan rest and firm up which makes things a lot easier.
  • Sharp knives are a must and you want to get the slices as thin as possible for an authentic bacon result. I use a meat slicer (rather ironic since I’m vegan but it is perfect for the job!).
  • Sprinkle an extra bit of salt on each side as you fry the bacon – it makes all the difference!

Smashed Avocado with Lime and Chilli by BBC Food

Tried & Tested Vegan Suitable Recipes

I serve this on it’s own with toast for a filling breakfast or lunch, in tortilla wraps with fajitas as an alternative to proper guacamole, or as pictured above with some vegan bacon. I am generous with the lime juice as I love the zingy tang it gives, and I use a mini food processor instead of mashing it by hand to speed things up even more!

Chocolate and Cherry Cake With Vanilla Frosting by Sainsbury’s Magazine

Tried & Tested Vegan Suitable Recipes

Oh yes – I found a really indulgent dessert cake without the need for eggs or butter! The rich chocolate cake works so well with the tang of the cherry jam and the sweetness of the frosting. I throw an extra handful of chopped cherries into the mix itself before baking it but this is completely optional. It also looks a bit of a showstopper with minimal effort required thanks to the chocolate dipped cherries on top.

Tried & Tested Vegan Suitable Recipes

The recipe requires you to make vegan buttermilk by combining soya milk and apple cyder vinegar together until the mixture curdles, but it doesn’t tell you how long this takes. I recommend leaving the mix to sit for 10 minutes before moving onto the next step in order to get the best end result.

Tried & Tested Vegan Suitable Recipes

I also find pitting cherries a really monotonous task so I bought myself a cherry pitter (this is the one I’ve got which is fab) which makes the task a doddle!

These are just a handful of my favourite tried and tested vegan suitable recipes from around the web. I’ve got plenty more that I can share along with my tips on how to get the best results so let me know in the comments if you’d like me to turn this into a series.

LovedByLaura

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Snacks Suitable for Vegans | March 2018

Giving up meat and cheese to adopt a vegan diet hasn’t proven as difficult as I’d imagined, but milk powder is now my arch nemesis! It’s found in so many foodstuffs that it has made it quite a challenge finding snacks suitable for vegans and I’ve had to give up lots of my previous favourites.

On the positive side though, this has given me the perfect excuse to munch and crunch my way through the month in my quest to find new healthy(ish) nibbles that are 100% vegan, diary free and delicious.

Here are my favourite finds in March:

Doisy and Dam Dark Chocolate*

Although I was gutted to learn that my previous favourite Doisy and Dam flavour Date and Himalyan Pink Salt isn’t suitable for vegans, I was relieved to find that many of their darker chocolate varieties are. My new love is Maple, Toasted Rice and Pink Salt; there’s just something about salt and chocolate that I adore and it’s got a really nice crispy element to it too.

Snacks Suitable for Vegans | March 2018

You can buy it in normal chocolate bar form but they also do ‘Snaps’ sharing packs which contain shards of the chocolate. I had this at Easter instead of an Easter Egg.

Snacks Suitable for Vegans | March 2018

I was kindly sent a couple of the Snaps packs to try originally and enjoyed them so much that I was soon back on the website ordering more. I have a new found appreciation of their website shopping pages now as there’s an option to select the ‘vegan only’ varieties on each page, so you don’t have to spend an age checking ingredients.

I also love supporting this brand because there’s real heart and purpose behind what they do. Not only do they create unusual but seriously tasty flavours of chocolate, but they’re also a small company with big goals to create a positive environmental impact on the world.

Propercorn Sweet and Salty

Propercorn Sweet and Salty has been one of my go to low cal snack options for a long time and I’d have been gutted if I’d had to give it up, especially after the heartbreaking discovery that my beloved Barbecue Popchips contain powdered milk, or as I like to call it, Satan (not that I’m still bitter about it or anything).

Luckily, it’s another one to add to the list of snacks suitable for vegans – halleluja!

Snacks Suitable for Vegans | March 2018

On a side note, we had a movie day over Easter and I’m still finding bits of popcorn around my living room – at least 50% of any handful escapes before it reaches my mouth. I thought it was just a ‘dark cinema’ thing but clearly not!

Itsu Crispy Seaweed Thins*

These Seaweed things are a bit difficult to describe – wafer thin vegetable crisps that almost feel like paper when you first put them in your mouth, but then they melt away leaving you with the salty taste of the sea. They won’t fill you up as such but are perfect if you’re not really hungry, you’re just looking to satisfy a snack craving. At only 24 kcals per packet they are a guilt free option too.

Snacks Suitable for Vegans | March 2018

I really like the strong Wasabi edition, but you can get them in a Sweet Soy and Sea Salt version, and just Sea Salt on its own too. All are vegan suitable. I absolutely love them, but they are an acquired taste I think. Oliver tried some on my recommendation and was not a fan, he found the saltiness too much.

Snacks Suitable for Vegans | March 2018

Itsu Vegetable Fusion Gyoza

I discovered these in the freezer section at my nearest large Tescos about a month ago and sweet baby cheezus where have they been all my life?! No packet lasts long enough for photographic evidence to exist other than this weird alien style photo that I took for Instagram and then regretted but couldn’t delete because people had already started ‘liking’ it. #InstagramProblems

https://www.instagram.com/p/BgzMALUlaM6/?taken-by=lovedbylaurac

But anyway, if you can find these, try them! They take 2 minutes in the microwave and 8 of them are less than 200 calories. I dip them in lashings of soy sauce and they are so good. SO GOOD.

Snacks Suitable for Vegans | March 2018

So there you have it, the snacks that fuelled my month. Let me know what you think if you try any of them and if you have any recommendations for snacks suitable for vegans please share them below in the comments!

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: Items marked with an asterisk are PR samples. I only ever post those that I enjoyed and would (and do!) repurchase.

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Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

I was incredibly excited to hear that The Ivy was opening a new restaurant in Cambridge and nearly fell off my chair when I received an invite to their opening day breakfast celebration – what a privelege! I’ve been to the original restaurant in Covent Garden a few times and it still remains up there as some of the best food I’ve ever eaten, so it’s fair to say that I had high expectations for The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie.

Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

The interior is just stunning. The emerald green chairs, brass, marble and sparkling glassware evoke an opulent, art deco feel and there are splashes of colour in every corner from the mustard yellow and cerise cushions to the bold and bright art work on the walls.

Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

I wasn’t sure if I’d over dressed for a breakfast meeting in my floral dress and pink blazer, but I felt right at home as soon as I sunk into one of those chairs. This, I thought, is how to do breakfast right!

Since it was a little early for cocktails, I chose a refeshing Beet It Juice made from beetroot, carrot and apple. The rest of my table opted for the Green Juice with healthy spinach and avocado cleverly hidden beneath the delicious flavours of apple and mint.

Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

I’d notified ahead of the day that I was vegan and thus dairy free and The Ivy couldn’t have been more friendly and accommodating. Our impeccably dressed waiter directed me to the suitable options on the menu but also reassured me that if I had any questions or special requests just to ask.

I opted for the crushed avocado on gluten free toast and was a bit worried when it came out that the caraway toast might be a disappointment as it looked very dark and dense, but I was proven wrong. It was full of flavour and a perfectly pairing to the zesty, creamy topping.

Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

I make avocado on toast at home but The Ivy’s was elevated to something much more finely tuned and accomplished. I’m totally stealing the idea to add pomegranate seeds to the top, they gave it a little fruity pop of sweetness that I adored.

Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

It shouldn’t really be any surprise that the food at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie is so good, after all the Head Chef Stuart Conibear was personal chef to Prince Charles for 3 years. The phrase ‘food fit for a king’ has never been more apt.

Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

Other options on the seasonal menu include Eggs Benedict (which Kat raved about), hot buttermilk pancakes and there was another vegan option too – coconut yoghurt and berries with crushed pistachios, chia seeds and basil.

I loved the attention to detail on all of the cutlery, condiments and china. It’s all very discreet but there are little ivy leaves everywhere which somehow made the experience feel even more special. Even my cappucino got ‘The Ivy Treatment’. (It was a damn good cappucino too by the way!)

Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

Feeling happily stuffed, our group were invited to go have an explore of the rest of The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie. It’s a lovely big space which goes back further than I’d have guessed from the outside, with an impressive onyx bar running along one side. I can see myself partaking of a few cocktails when I’m next there – they even have a signature Cambridge cocktail on the menu.

Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

Added to this, there’s a hidden room tucked away downstairs…

Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

…The Boat Room.

Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

Now this is a little bit special, because it’s designed specifically for the Cambridge restaurant with wall to wall prints celebrating the city’s heritage and history. It’s a room that can be hired out for private dinner parties or special events and it’s certainly got the wow factor to it. Can you imagine holding your birthday or maybe even an engagement party in here and sitting down to a 3 course meal surrounded by seasonal flowers and tea lights? They even produce complimentary menu cards and place cards – how dreamy!

Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

Now let’s talk about the prices. My avocado on toast cost £7.25 and a Full English Breakfast is £13.50; mains from the A La Carte menu start from £12.75. It’s certainly not somewhere I could afford to eat every week, but for the exceptional service,  sophistication of the food and the overall experience it fits very nicely into the ‘once in a while as a special treat’ category.

A huge thanks goes to The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie for hosting our group, and a big hello to all the lovely Cambridge bloggers that I met and chatted to whilst there!

Breakfast at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

LovedByLaura

Disclaimer: Our food was complimentary on the day but as always I’ve provided my honest views.

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Tried and Tested - Vegan Meals at your Favourite Restaurants

One of the main things that concerned me about going vegan (which you can read more about here) was whether I’d still be able to enjoy dining out at restaurants. The good news is that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of restaurants in my area that now offer vegan choices on the menu so I thought I’d share some highlights with you. Some of them might just surprise you!

Toby Carvery*

This might seem like an odd place to go to as a vegan but the rest of my family are meat eaters who really enjoy a good carvery. The Toby Carvery have a whole section of their menu dedicated to vegetarian and vegan dishes which means that I don’t have to miss family get togethers!

Oliver and I were invited along to try out the menu during Veganuary but hit upon a snag when we put in our order as our waiter very apologetically informed us that the vegan options weren’t available as they’d sold out over the weekend. However after a bit of a wait we were offered a choice of three other suitable mains which were not on the current menu but that they could make for us – lunch was saved!

All of the vegan and vegetarian dishes were really clearly labelled on the menu and there were guidance notes on anything I’d need to tell my server, such as making sure to ask for steamed greens as some are cooked with butter.

Tried and Tested - Vegan Meals at your Favourite Restaurants

Oliver had the vegan Root Vegetable Roast and I went for an Onion Tarte. Both were tasty, hearty meals that came with unlimited sides from the carvery. I was a bit limited in my choices once I’d discounted anything made with cheese, milk or butter but still managed to fill my plate. I was over the moon when our waiter told us the vegetarian gravy was also suitable for vegans as it brought the meal together and gave it the ‘Sunday lunch’ feel. I’d forgotten how much I missed gravy!

Tried and Tested - Vegan Meals at your Favourite Restaurants

Most restaurants I’ve been to seem to have either forgotten about dessert or just gone with a less than adventurous sorbet option. The Toby Carvery, however have a delicious sounding vegan chocolate and cherry cake on the menu. Due to the slight confusion over the mains we ran out of time for dessert, so I’m going to have to head back and check it out another time.

Verdict: Good hearty food and value for money, great if you crave Sunday roasts!
My top tip: Advise your dietary requirements when booking.

Bella Italia

I love Italian food but it’s something I associate with lots of cheese, cream and butter. A quick check of the menus for my closest restaurants confirmed that Frankie & Benny’s only had one vegan main, Penne Arribiata, but Bella Italia seem to be more on board with providing dairy free options. In fact there are multiple vegan mains in its pasta, risotto, salad and pizza sections as well as a burger.

The starter options are limited to what I’d call ‘healthy options’ of olives, bruschetta and soup, but it’s a start. My bruschetta was really light and fresh actually, and I’m learning that dishes that I’d normally avoid because I’ve always automatically gone for the ‘cheesy’ option are sometimes vastly underrated. This one didn’t leave me feeling too full before my main which a lot of my ‘pre vegan’ choices would have.

For my main I tried the Lenticchie on my first visit which is a smoky lentil ragu that I highly recommend. It was packed with rich complex flavours and left me full, happy and with a massive food baby, just the way Italian food should! It was a fabulous dish in its own right that just happened to be vegan.

Tried and Tested - Vegan Meals at your Favourite Restaurants

Upon my return a few weeks later, I opted for the Risotto Funghi (mushroom risotto with tomatoes and a balsamic vinegar glaze). Again, this was a lovely little dish in its own right but this time I did think ‘this would be even better with a bit of cheese’. Not dairy cheese of course, but maybe a grating of some Violife (a vegan cheese which I’ve come to adore) would have given it that extra something to satisfy my craving.

Tried and Tested - Vegan Meals at your Favourite Restaurants

You can veganise your pizza at Bella Italia by asking for it without mozzarella, but it would be great if they could offer a vegan alternative instead.

Verdict: A great option if you want plenty of choice, go here for proper comfort food.
My top tip: Maybe bring your own vegan cheese until they add it to the menu? I’m tempted to next time! Also there are no vegan dessert options, so bear this in mind.

Wagamama

My friend Sian got a promotion last week (woo hoo!) so we celebrated with a feast at Wagamama.

Tried and Tested - Vegan Meals at your Favourite Restaurants

First of all, let’s give a round of applause to Wagamama for having a vegan starter which isn’t just vegetables or bread and olives! I had Yasai Steamed Gyoza, which are served grilled to give them a crispy outer coating which is perfect for dipping into the mildly spicy dipping sauce.

Tried and Tested - Vegan Meals at your Favourite Restaurants

They too have a diverse range of mains to choose from which makes the experience so much more enjoyable. Part of the pleasure of going to a restaurant for me is that time spent deciding what to eat, and at some places due to the severely limited options for vegans it’s just not there. Not so at Wagamama thankfully.

I opted for the Kare Burosu for my main, an absolutely delicious dish consisting of shichimi coated silken tofu and grilled mixed mushrooms on a bed of udon noodles. This all sits within a curried vegetable broth which I drank every last drop of, it was just so good!

Tried and Tested - Vegan Meals at your Favourite Restaurants

Sian, a meat eater, also went for a vegan option in the end, the Yasai Samla Curry. It’s a vibrant dish of fragrant, spicy lemongrass and coconut curry with tofu, peppers, shiitake mushrooms and baby plum tomatoes which is good if you like things a bit spicy!

Tried and Tested - Vegan Meals at your Favourite Restaurants

Verdict: These guys know their way around a block of tofu and use it in all kinds of inspiring ways.
My top tip: If you struggle with chopsticks ask your server for cutlery when ordering your food to avoid any messy mishaps!

Pizza Hut

Whilst it’s easy enough to make a vegan pizza at home, it’s just not the same as a proper deep pan fresh from the pizzeria. I was excited to see Pizza Hut announce that they’d introduced a pizza with vegan cheese nationwide just in time for Veganuary – my heroes!

Tried and Tested - Vegan Meals at your Favourite Restaurants

There’s currently only one vegan option available on the main menu but if you don’t like the toppings you do have the option to customise your pizza and choose your own for a bit extra. Plus you get to load up your side bowl at the salad bar and they have ‘bacon bits’ which, ironcially, are completely vegan, so I was happy before I’d even started my pizza!

Oliver tried some of my pizza and amazingly, his comment was that it tasted more cheesy than his non vegan version, just not quite the same oozy texture as with regular cheese! It certainly hit the spot for me. Who says vegans just eat leaves and chickpeas huh?

Verdict: It’s the Pizza Hut pizza you know and love, just vegan. Hooray!
My top tip: Plan ahead to make sure you know which salad bar options are vegan friendly, as it’s not so easy to tell with sauces and dressings. Veganuary have a list of what you can eat here: Pizza Hut Vegan Options

Why we should support restaurants, even when choices are limited

Whilst the number of vegan choices at restaurants is still most definitely limited, I think it’s great that so many popular restaurants are now providing some options. If we all support the vegan menus and, like with Toby Carvery, they see an increase in demand as a result it can only lead to good things – more vegan choices and greater understanding!

LovedByLaura

Disclaimer: We were provided with a £20 voucher towards our meal at the Toby Carvery in return for providing an honest review. All other meals were paid for by ourselves.

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Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

I once spent an evening smashing and scoffing Easter Eggs in the name of a blog review and I thought that life couldn’t get any better. Oh how wrong I was! Queensgate Shopping Centre in Peterborough topped it by inviting me to their headquarters to sample all of the festive food and drink the major retailers and restaurants have on offer this Christmas.

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

It was a super fun evening and I discovered all sorts of delectable festive food and drink. I’ve whittled it down to my top picks below and have tried to include a little of bit of everything, from dinner party treats to Christmas Day must haves and even some festive restaurant menus too!

Warning: the following post contains an excessive amount of photographs of highly delicious food – reading on an empty stomach is not advised! 🙂

John Lewis

I’m going to start with alcoholic drinks because John Lewis have gone above and beyond this year!

First off, they have baubles containing Pickering’s Gin. Yes that’s right – gin! They look pretty enough to get away with being regular decorations, but unscrew the top and you have an instant tipple!

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

Keeping with the gin theme, how awesome does Unicorn Tears Gin Liqueur sound? The liquid is iridescent and shimmers as you swirl it in your glass to add to the festivities.

(I’ve been assured that no unicorns were harmed in the making of this product.)

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

Food wise, if you eat in a John Lewis cafe this Winter you’ve got to try the Chocolate and Orange Cake! It’s like an amped up version of a Jaffa Cake Bar and the flavours are insanely good.

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

If you’re not a big fan of chocolate orange they have a whole range of other cakes and slices too including millionaire shortbread and lemon drizzle. (I’ll repeat again though, you MUST try that chocolate orange cake!!!)

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

Lakeland

Moving on to Lakeland, these guys take the prize for having some of the most fun and innovative treats this Christmas.

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

My favourite find this year has been Lakeland’s Candy Cane Peppermint Bark – white and dark chocolate with minty candy cane shards sprinkled on top. It is just divine and totally moreish!

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

There are actually four whole bars inside the pretty tin packaging so it would make a great gift to give you your hosts if you’re going somewhere for Christmas, or you could just as easily make four lovely presents from the chocolate bark by rewrapping each seperately in cellophane and ribbon, then keep the tin for yourself!

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

I also made a beeline for their Rose Gold Shimmer Popaball For Prosecco because you should all know by now how much I love ANYTHING rose gold! Seriously though, at my friend Tiffany’s wedding earlier this year they had a ‘pimp your prosecco’ stand with some of this stuff and we all loved it.

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

Another great idea I picked up from Lakeland is to use a slow cooker for hot chocolate, something I’ve never thought of doing before but it makes perfect sense really! Rather than making individual servings that can go cold quick, you just make up a batch with hot chocolate and milk/dairy free alternative and keep it gently bubbling away to serve as and when needed. PLUS, Lakeland have only gone and made a hot chocolate version of the peppermint bark – hallelu!

Marks and Spencers

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

You can’t beat a good mince pie at Christmas and whenever I eat an M&S one I have to put on the voice and do the: “This isn’t just a mince pie, this is a MARKS AND SPENCERS mince pie!” quote because it’s true, they are always that extra bit delicious!

As always they have a massive amount of buffet style nibbles that promise a quality table spread. At our festive feast we were treated to turkey and cranberry sausage rolls and a seasonal sandwich selection with delicious sounding fillings such as Turkey Feast, Brie and Grape, Prawn and Smoked Salmon and Ham Hock and Golden Beetroot Piccalilli.

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

Ever one for pretty packaging however, my top picks are this beautiful Christmas cone filled with yummy shortbread biscuits that we made VERY short work of, and Gold Creme Brulee Liquer which I can imagine enjoying in front of the fire after Christmas dinner.

Some of the restaurants at Queensgate Shopping Centre had also sent along some of their festive menus for us to try on the night. Here’s a roundup of my favourites!

Carluccio’s

Carluccio’s have a Christmas menu available until the 3rd January with 2 Courses for £17.95 (or add £3 to include dessert). I can highly recommend the Pere e Gorgonzola, a starter of pears & gorgonzola served with radicchio, green beans and walnuts, tossed in a lemon dressing. It’s light and fresh and yet at the same time gave me all the festive feels.

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

The Tomato Bruschetta was also absolutely delicious with slices of grilled ciabatta topped with fresh baby plum, yellow cherry and beef tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, baby basil and garlic. I want the recipe for the tomato dressing, it was so good!

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

If you can fit in dessert the Coppa di Limoncello Mascarpone is another winner – mascarpone limoncello cream drizzled with limoncello syrup and served with raspberries, crumbled amaretto biscuits and mint.

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

The Handmade Burger Kitchen

As someone about to transition to a plant based diet (read more on this here) I was absolutely delighted to see a festive vegan burger on the Handmade Burger Kitchen menu, the Veg-Mex. Well done guys, this made me extremely happy and gives me hope that once fully transitioned, I’ll still be able to enjoy Christmas meals out!

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

It’s a veggie patty with handmade Mexican salsa, hand crushed avocado, jalapeños, lettuce, tomato & red onion and I tell you what, as someone who has eaten their fair share of meaty burgers, this one holds up against them! It has a bit of a kick to it, it’s packed full of flavours and textures and is extremely filling.

For the meat lovers there are PLENTY of festive burgers to choose from – the avocado and bacon burger seemed to go down a treat with the non veggie bloggers!

Pret A Manger

Pret are also complete stars in my book this year for putting out a vegetarian Christmas lunch consisting of roasted chunks of butternut squash, spicy rocket and nutty Christmas pesto made with walnuts and pecans. It’s served with a spoonful of yoghurt & mayo dressing and a sprinkling of crispy onions on malted bread.

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

Excuse the blurred picture of Melvin The Melted Snowman but isn’t he so fun? Made with a marshmallow head, a puddle of icing and a gingerbread cookie base, he was adorably cute but not enough to stop me giving in to temptation and scoffing him before I managed to get a decent photo!

Hotel Chocolat

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

Hotel Chocolat assortments are always epic and The Christmas Gift Box is no exception with 42 of the finest truffles, pralines and caramels to choose from. Each chocolate in the selection is so beautifully detailed with little extra elements such as a crunchy topping for the Treacle Tart and a liquid centre for Mulled Wine, ensuring that there are no duds in this box! My favourites are the ever classic Champagne Truffle and the Christmas Mess!

Grasmere Farms

Last but by no means least, the artisan family butchers at Grasmere Farms had provided a selection of freshly handmade sausage rolls, pork pies and scotch eggs (including a ham and scotch egg version) for us to enjoy. I didn’t partake (being the awkward veggie at the party!) but I know that a lot of you enjoy a good sausage roll so I’ll pass on the other blogger’s comments and tell you that these were exceptional!

Queensgate Festive Food and Drink This Christmas

For anyone local to Peterborough you can find them in Queensgate’s Westgate Arcade but a good selection of their produce is now available online for those of you further afield too.

So there you have it – my 2017 Festive Food and Drink Roundup! My thanks go to the wonderful hospitality of Queensgate Shopping Centre and all of the lovely stores who plied me with food and drink all evening!

Have you spotted anything here that takes your fancy for Christmas?

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: As noted above I attended an event held by Queensgate Shopping Centre to sample the festive food and drink available in stores this year. I was not paid for this post and all items selected are hand picked by me because I absolutely loved them! (In the case of meat items I was given reliable reviews from my fellow bloggers on the night!).

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