Introducing The Prosecco Sessions Podcast

It been pretty quiet on lovedbylaura.com for a while now so I’m very excited to tell you all about the project that’s kept me so busy for the past few months.

Introducing The Prosecco Sessions Podcast!

I’ve started a podcast, The Prosecco Sessions, with two of my friends and fellow bloggers Kat and Pippa!

It all came about when Kat had an idea to produce a new Youtube series for her channel where she’d invite different guests on each time to chat through a topic over a glass of fizz or two. Pippa and I were her first guests and we filmed a really fun but brutally honest look at our own experiences of internet dating.

Since then Kat has continued with her Youtube series but the three of us decided that we really wanted to carry on working together too. This proved to be logistically challenging since we all live different parts of the country but with a shared love of podcasts we decided that the perfect solution was to produce our own. The Prosecco Sessions Podcast was born!

A Steep Learning Curve

Our first podcast was the audio from the Youtube video we’d filmed, but since then we’ve been recording our podcast remotely, so all three of us dial into a call from our seperate locations.

This has proven to be quite challenging – it turns out that there’s a lot more to producing a podcast than just sitting down for a recorded chat on Skype with your friends!

Introducing The Prosecco Sessions Podcast

There are lots of things that we’ve had to learn fast such as what microphones do and don’t work well for audio recordings, what software is needed to record calls remotely and how the heck we can fit everything that we want to say into a very condensed half hour chat each time!

We’ve now released 7 episodes of our planned 10 episode first season so currently each week is a mad flurry of activity. Our episodes are published weekly on a Sunday morning at 10am, so do watch out for the new ones we have coming up.

I absolutely cannot wait for you to listen to episode 8… it’s a topic that we have been dying to talk about but we wanted to wait until our podcast was established and that we’d ironed out any audio issues before getting into it!

Why We Think You Should Listen!

So many good things have come from our recording sessions. It’s actually helped us to open up more to each other in real life and we’re closer friends as a result of it. We’re now much more likely to reach out and admit when things aren’t going so well, which has helped each of us to navigate some tricky dilemnas that we might have just kept to ourselves and struggled along with in silence beforehand.

Some of the more serious topics that we’ve discussed such as our episodes on Body Image and Burn Out were inspired by these off air conversations about things we were going through. By talking about our experiences honestly and openly on the podcast we hope that you, our listeners, will be able to find some useful advice on how to deal with these issues yourselves or at least give you some new perspectives to consider.

It’s not all serious though! We have covered some light hearted topics too and there’s lots of content that we think you’ll find useful if you are a content creator yourself. Our latest topic Instagram vs Reality explores the struggle to produce consistent, high quality content whilst also staying authentic and we really hope that you can identify with our thoughts on it, whilst also being able to chuckle at some of our Intagram faux pas of the past!

Introducing The Prosecco Sessions Podcast

How To Support The Prosecco Sessions Podcast

Our podcast audience is small but growing steadily week by week and we’ve been blown away by the support, encouragement and honest feedback that we’ve received so far. It’s been nothing short of amazing and has spurred us on to keep going and make each episode bigger and better, so thank you if you’ve already subscribed to our channel, taken the time to leave us a review on Soundcloud or iTunes and/or shared the podcast on to your family, friends and followers.

If this is the first time you’re hearing about the podcast, we’d be massively grateful if you could head on over to Soundcloud or iTunes and give it a listen, then subscribe and leave a review as this really does make a big difference in helping our podcast to grow.

Listen on Soundcloud here: soundcloud.com/theproseccosessions

Listen on iTunes here: itunes.apple.com/the-prosecco-sessions

You can also follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/ProseccoSesspod where we will posting regular updates on new episodes, sourcing for future topic ideas and, if all goes well, inviting on some special guests occasionally!

And if you’d like to see how it all started, here’s the original Youtube video we filmed!

Finally, for those of you curious as to what goes into making a podcast, look out for my next post as I’ll be sharing a guide to the production of The Prosecco Sessions podcast!

LovedByLaura

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Bill's Restaurant Cambridge | A Review of the Vegan Menu

I was recently contacted by Bill’s Restaurant in Cambridge asking if I’d like to visit and review their vegan menu.

Damn right I would – I love that place!

I’ve been a normal paying customer at Bill’s Restaurants both in Cambridge and Peterborough for many years so it was an absolute privelege to be invited there in a blogging capacity. It was also the first time I’d visited since becoming vegan so I was keen to see how the experience would compare.

Upon arrival we were given some of Bill’s cocktails to sample. I found them very easy drinking as each contained deliciously fruity flavours which helped to tone down the taste of the various alchols blended through. The English Country Garden, for example, contained Bill’s Elderflower Gin aperitif with a mix of wild Sussex elderflower cordial, lime juice and cloudy apple juice – absolutely perfect for a hot Summer’s day!

Bill's Restaurant Cambridge | A Review of the Vegan Menu

After sampling the cocktails we switched to soft drinks. I went for Bill’s Pink Lemonade which is my idea of a perfect non alcoholic Summer pick me up. It’s made for them by a small French artisan company that’s been around for more than 100 years and the quality shows – it’s super sparkly and refreshing and served in the cutest bottle. Sian chose a Botanical Ginger Beer and I had a taste of it, so I can vouch for that being another good option!

Bill's Restaurant Cambridge | A Review of the Vegan Menu

When it came time to order food I made my server aware of my dietary requirements and she was happy to offer some recommendations. The menu itself was really easy to follow as all vegan friendly dishes were clearly labelled VE. If you have another type of special dietary requirements or need to avoid a certain allergen there’s a more detailed menu that they can bring out to help so if in doubt, just ask. They clearly take it very seriously and are well prepared if you have questions.

Bill's Restaurant Cambridge Vegan Food Menu

We decided to start off with some nibbles, so we ordered flatbread, hummus and nicoise olives to share. The flatbread was fresh and warm from the stove with just the right texture for tearing and dipping into the hummus. The hummus itself was incredibly moorish.

Bill's Restaurant Cambridge | A Review of the Vegan Menu

The nicoise olives were another hit with us, they had a salty tang and happily were already pitted.

Bill's Restaurant Cambridge | A Review of the Vegan Menu

Being gluttons, we’d ordered proper starters too! I chose the Roasted Butternut Squash and Lentil Salad which was a feast for the eyes as well as my tummy. The lentils had a wonderful delicate flavour owing to their lemon dressing and every so often I’d get a little sweet pop from the pomegranate which worked surprisingly well with the squash.

Bill's Restaurant Cambridge | A Review of the Vegan Menu

Sian chose Crumbed Halloumi Sticks which came with a pot of garlic and lemon mayo. This is a vegetarian rather than vegan option so I couldn’t try it myself but Sian assures me that it was delicious!

Bill's Restaurant Cambridge | A Review of the Vegan Menu

Despite already having had squash for my starter, I chose the Rustic Butternut Squash Stew for my main and I’m not overstating things here to say that this dish is an absolute sensation!

Bill's Restaurant Cambridge | A Review of the Vegan Menu

The flavour profile was like nothing else I’ve eaten this year. The freekeh grains were a perfect vehicle to soak up the rich sweet smoky sauce, the chargrilled red pepper and onions added depth, kale kept things fresh and the toasted pistachios provided a satisfying crunch. Honestly – go have this immediately even if you usually prefer a meaty or cheesy option – it’s perfection on a plate.

This look probably says it better than words can.

Bill's Restaurant Cambridge Vegan Food Menu

Bill's Restaurant Cambridge | A Review of the Vegan Menu

Sian chose a meaty option of Gnocchi Bolognese with Basil Pesto and Gran Moravia Cheese. Definitely not vegan!

Bill's Restaurant Cambridge | A Review of the Vegan Menu

We were probably supposed to have completed our review by eating dessert too, but we were so full by this point that there was no way that either of us could have managed another morsel. This actually worked out fine for me because there was only one vegan option on the dessert menu and it contained coconut which I have an intense dislike for.

Thus if I could offer any suggestions to Bill’s on improvements to the vegan menu it would simply be to add a second dessert choice. The same is true for all other non vegan restaurants I’ve been to, the choice seems to stop once you get past the mains and sometimes there’s no option at all.

Bill's Restaurant Cambridge | A Review of the Vegan Menu

Before leaving the manager at Bill’s very kindly gave me a goodie bag from their own range of produce to take away and try at home. They are very proud of the items and rightly so – everything has been carefully sourced and developed with independant suppliers and artisans. I was very happy to find another bottle of Pink Lemonade in there which lasted approximately 2 hours at home (it didn’t even have time to chill properly!) as well as a big tin of Sevilla Green Gordal Olives, a delicious Raspberry Jam, Slow Baked Granola and a bar of White Chocolate Eton Mess. Sadly I had to give the last one away as it wasn’t suitable for me but that made me very popular at home so I’m not complaining!

I thought I’d leave you with a short video of our visit so that you can see what went into the making of this post – basically a lot of standing up in the middle of a restaurant to take photos and rearranging the table… no wonder we were there for about 3 hours!

Videography and the photos of me in this post are by the wickedly talented Sian’s Photography

Food photography is by me, as seen in the video!

Music by Eme Hache: http://freemusicarchive.org/…/EME…/Chasing_Time/Help_me_1484.

LovedByLaura

Disclaimer: I’d like to extend a big thanks to Bill’s Restaurants for providing some wonderful hospitality. As stated above my food and drink on this occassion was complimentary, but this just meant was that I got to try out a few more things than I would normally order on a trip there to give a more comprehensive review of what’s on offer there. The friendly service and the quality of the food lived up to my past trips as a paying customer and I’d thoroughly recommend a trip to Bill’s in Cambridge if you’re in the area, or your nearest local branch if not!

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The Classic Trench Coat (In Pink!) | Fashion

It feels like for months now I’ve been seeing people post pictures of themselves casually strolling in bare legs and the cutest little Spring and Summer outfits. I can’t help wondering if Instagrammers who hit 10k followers get a ray of warm sunshine along with the ability to post links, because every time I’ve looked out the window it’s been raining sideways and all I’ve wanted to wear is my festive Christmas pyjamas because: Fleecy.

Thank goodness then for a bit of sunshine this week so that I could finally join in the fun and debut my new Spring coat. I bought it over a month ago and was so excited about my purchase that I couldn’t wait to show it off. However although it’s fully lined it’s quite a light material so I’ve been waiting for the temperatue to hit double digits.

The Classic Trench Coat (In Pink!) | Fashion

Isn’t it a beauty? I found it on ASOS and was so happy to find it available in Petite sizes because it was exactly what I’d been looking for. I’d had my heart set on buying a pink coat but I know that my body shape suits classic cuts and most of the ones that I’d been finding in Petite were either like long slouchy cardigans, or where in quite a boxy blazer style which wasn’t what I had in mind.

The Classic Trench Coat (In Pink!) | Fashion

This one, however, is in a classic trench coat style with detailing on the pockets, sleeves and buttons. The belt can be cinched in to help create definition around the waist or it can be tied for a more casual look.

The Classic Trench Coat (In Pink!) | Fashion

It’s a dusky rose pink colour which is neither too girly or too bright. I like to play up the tones with light accessories and neutral heels, but it works just as well in a casual look with jeans and white sneakers.

The Classic Trench Coat (In Pink!) | Fashion

My other treat for Spring is this new necklace from Tatty Devine.

The Classic Trench Coat (In Pink!) | Fashion

I’ve coveted one of their iconic Name Necklaces for years but never could quite allow myself to spend the money. Then they released a new designs in collaboration with the Museum of London to celebrate the Centenary of the Suffragettes the very same weekend that I attended a live recording of The Guilty Feminist Podcast. I took it as fate and here we are. I absolutely love it!

The Classic Trench Coat (In Pink!) | Fashion

The Classic Trench Coat – Outfit Details

The Classic Trench Coat (In Pink!) | Fashion

ASOS Petite Classic Trench Coat | Here (Also available in Regular)

Tatty Devine Feminist Necklace | Here

HotterUK Blossom Scarf* | Here

(All other items pictured are old)

Photos by Sian’s Photography

LovedByLaura

Disclaimer: Items marked with an asterisk were kindly gifted.

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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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