Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers - title shot

Okay hands up, who else is struggling with what to get the men in your life for Christmas? When I asked Oliver what he wanted he just shrugged and said “surprise me”, the two words that strike fear into my life. I even put out an SOS on Twitter earlier this month asking for people to link me up with their gift guides for men. There was nothing but tumbleweed. It seems that no one else has a bloody clue either.

Men, this is why you always end up with socks, Calvin K’s or an electric shaver!

One thing that I know that Oliver does always appreciate is a good gin so when Drinks By The Dram offered to send me one of their Gin Festive Crackers * to review, I was intrigued! Could this be the answer to my shopping woes?

The gift set arrived attractively packaged in festive green, gold and red.

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers front of the box
Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers back of packaging

The crackers sit neatly inside festooned with gold bows.

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers birdseye view of open box
Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers reveal of cracker with gold bows

I was slightly worried about pulling the cracker and immediately sending a bottle of gin smashing to the floor. I found the bottle wrapped up safely inside a joke and a party hat though – phew!

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers bottle of gin
Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers unwrapped bottle of gin

There are six crackers in total, each one containing a different wax sealed 30ml dram of gin:

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers alternative view of gin bottle
  • Ableforth’s Bathtub Sloe Gin
  • Ableforth’s Bathtub
  • Gold Infused Yuletide Gin (sadly this one is not suitable for vegans – contains milk and egg)
  • Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin (57% vol!)
  • Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin
  • Tanqueray Rangpur Gin

I know that you could buy one big bottle of gin for a similar price (a set retails at £34.95) but I love all the little details that have gone into this gift set. It’s a fun way for a gin lover to try out some award winning tipples from around the globe.

I’m also rather excited about laying them out on the dinner table, they’re going to look so good!

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers picture of Ableforth's Bathtub Gin bottle

If you’re struggling to buy for the man in your life (or let’s not be sexist here, ANYONE that loves a good tipple!) the Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers are available online at Masters Of Malt and on Amazon. A Spirit and Liquers version of the cracker is also available along with a range of other themed selection boxes.


Remember that if you’re ordering online the last posting dates are:  Thursday 20th Dec (1st Class) and Saturday 22nd Dec (Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed).


LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: Drinks By The Dram kindly gifted me their Gin Festive Crackers. They simply asked me to share my thoughts with my readers if I wanted to!




Follow:

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper

Over the years I’ve sent several gift hampers as Christmas presents. I love the thought of someone’s face lighting up as they discover all the delicious surprises!

This is my first Christmas since turning vegan though and I’ve had to seriously consider what I feel comfortable buying as gifts for other people. I was thrilled to find that the The British Hamper Company offer no less than six beautiful gift hampers curated with entirely vegan friendly contents. Filled with artisan produce from all over the UK, that’s one choice made far easier!

I received their Deluxe Vegan Hamper * to review so let’s take a look inside.

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper

In my opinion a proper gift hamper should come in special keepsake packaging. This one arrived presented in a beautiful box patterned with iconic London images and hand tied in royal blue ribbon. A personalised gift card inside invited me to enjoy the contents. Don’t worry British Hamper Company, I intend to!

In amongst the shredded papper I uncovered treat after treat.

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper -contents of the box laid out

Strawberry and black pepper jam to accompany gourmet olive, walnut and pimenton toast…

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper - Strawberry and Black Pepper Jam

Luxury handcooked Yorkshire crisps…

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper birdseye view of contents

Beautifully packaged Las Trincheras Gold venezuelan chocolate from Wilie’s Cacao…

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper - hand holding Las Trincheros Gold Dark Chocolate Bar

Even more chocolate with a Christmas classic – mint creams…

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper - hand holding Beech's Classic Mint Creams

…as well as air dried apple crisps, red onion chutney and a big bag of garlic and rosemary olives.

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper - arial view of box contents

What a gorgeous selection! I’ve been so tempted to make a start on them but I’m trying my best to save them for Christmas. I think they’ll be perfect nibbles to lay out on the table in the evening. I intend to tuck into mine whilst watching a festive movie or two!

If you’re struggling for a last minute Christmas gift or just want to treat yourself I recommend checking out British Hamper Company’s website. The vegan options are available here: https://www.britishhamper.com/uk/theme/vegan-hampers/


Just remember that if you’re ordering online the last posting dates are Thursday 20th Dec (1st Class) and Saturday 22nd Dec (Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed).


LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: The Deluxe Vegan Hamper was gifted to me by The British Hamper Company in exchange for sharing my honest review.

Follow:

When Polly Met Fergie: Peterborough's First Vegan Restaurant

It was serendipity that just as I exchanged contracts to move to the city, Peterborough’s first vegan restaurant When Polly Met Fergie opened. A week later I completed my house move and we headed straight there to celebrate.

When Polly Met Fergie: Peterborough's First Vegan Restaurant

Located in the Westgate Arcade, the main restaurant is located downstairs and has a relaxed cafe feel. Meanwhile upstairs there is a cocktail and jazz bar with regular live music. The decor certainly sets the mood with dark walls, a centrepiece chandelier and a grand piano in the corner.

I can only describe how good my first meal there was as my camera was still packed away in a box at home. I started with arancini balls served with a punchy tomato sauce, followed up with a rich and stewy red wine bourguignon. The accompanying dill mash was so smooth and pillowy that I cleaned my plate!

Oliver chose a nacho starter topped with a convincingly meaty fragrant ‘mince’. His main of ancho chilli, tortilla and rice was fresh and filling, but we both would have loved some kind of sauce with it to add a little moisture. We were very impressed overall and vowed to return.

No Ordinary Avo

When Polly Met Fergie: Peterborough's First Vegan Restaurant

Fast forward to a few weeks later and I popped in for breakfast. I’d been hoping to try their signature eggless benedict but it wasn’t on the menu that day. I’m glad in retrospect because the avocado on toast that I had instead was exceptional. The creamy avocado was generously piled atop a slice of fresh baked focaccia and given a sumptuous earthy, unami twist with the addition of truffles. For extra oomf, there were also sweet but tart sun dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts. Definitely not your average avo!

When Polly Met Fergie’s Christmas Menu*

Maybe it’s over the top to visit the same restaurant three times in a month but hey, it’s not often that an entirely plant based restaurant launches a Christmas menu and welcomes you inside to taste it all is it?

I arrived with the other Qbloggers, eager not only to taste the new menu, but also to find out what my non vegan friends thought. The verdict was unanimous: whether you’re vegan, vegitarian, flexitarian or a carnivore, this is food everyone will love!

Peterborough's First Vegan Restaurant When Polly Met Fergie (8)

Starter: Mushroom and Pecan Ravioli on a TO DIE FOR Butternut Squash Puree

Peterborough First Vegan Restaurant When Polly Met Fergie

Nut roast served in filo pastry with potato dauphinoise, cranberry dressing and gravy

In a Christmas menu full of highlights, I’ll give a special mention to the potato dauphinoise. I haven’t tasted anything so creamy and cheddary since I gave up those very things! My friends said that if they’d walked in off the street and eaten this without knowing that they were in a plant based restaurant, they’d be none the wiser.

Peterborough First Vegan Restaurant When Polly Met Fergie Peterborough First Vegan Restaurant When Polly Met Fergie

Also, it’s an absolute pleasure to have a choice of multiple vegan desserts, something rather lacking when visiting other restaurants. Here, the festive option of a berry crumble with vanilla cream ticked all the boxes for me. It was warming, fruity and homely.

Peterborough First Vegan Restaurant When Polly Met Fergie

Berry Crumble

“It’s just honest plates of fresh food that are aromatic and full of flavour. They just all happen to be plant based.”

I can’t express how good it feels to finally have a place in my hometown where I can walk in and have the freedom to order anything I like off the menu. Peterborough’s first vegan restaurant has arrived just in time to make my Christmas!

The thing with When Polly Met Fergie though is that it isn’t ‘gimmicky’. It isn’t trying to convince everyone to go vegan with a menu full of meat substitutes. It doesn’t even make a big deal of it being a vegan restaurant! It’s just honest plates of fresh food that are aromatic and full of flavour. They just all happen to be plant based.

When Polly Met Fergie is situated at Westgate Arcade, Queensgate, Peterborough and can be accessed from inside or outside the shopping centre.

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: I was invited to preview the Christmas menu as part of my duties as a Qblogger for Queensgate Shopping Centre. That meal was complimentary. I made the other visits as a paying customer.

Follow:

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

“You’re vegan? But… what about Christmas?”

The classic question! Personally, I don’t miss any of the traditional festive dinners half as much as I expected to. I do however feel a bit left out when it comes to all of the festive sweet treats that get passed around. Whether it’s after dinner chocolates, a festive tipple or a selection box of chocolates, I usually have to politely decline.

Luckily the high street is starting to get on board with the growing demand for vegan friendly sweets, chocolates and edible gifts. I attended a Christmas taster evening at Queensgate Shopping Centre in Peterborough last week and was absolutely chuffed at how much they had to show me. I even got to have not one, but TWO festive meals, all entirely vegan.

With that in mind, I’ve rounded up some of the best vegan friendly christmas treats and gifts available on the high street this year and where to buy them.

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats

For watching Christmas movies in your pj’s…

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

Vegan Vanilla Marshmallows | The Naked Marshmallow Co | Lakeland

Vegan marshmallows! My goodness how I’ve craved a super indulgent hot chocolate since going vegan, but until now I haven’t found a high street retailer that stocks vegan marshmallows. Finding these in Lakeland made my day!

After Dinner Treats

Still in Lakeland, I found these chocolate covered cherries which really are the perfect after dinner christmas treat. They are slightly sour with a dark chocolate coating and a lovely chewy inside. They come gift wrapped in cellophane so would make a nice gift to take round if you’re visiting someone else for Christmas.

Growing up, we always had a box of After Eight at Christmas. Sadly I checked and they aren’t vegan, but I discovered that Lakeland stock Beech’s After Dinner Mints which are a conscience free alternative and delicious in their own right.

For the Prosecco Lover

It’s almost time to start opening our advent calendars, but to be honest I have found the vegan chocolate ones I’ve tried hugely disappointing. For a fun alternative, Popaball have a ‘Pimp Your Prosecco‘ 12 day advent calendar containing 11 bubbles of different flavours and one shimmer.

For Impressive Christmas Gifts

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

I’ve always loved using Hotel Chocolat for gifts as everything is so beautifully packaged. Now I love them even more, because this year they have a huge vegan friendly selection that non vegans should adore just as much. You need to avoid the milk chocolate (obviously!) but as well as their dark chocolate range, many of their alcohols are also vegan (oh hello Salted Caramel Cocoa Vodka Liqueur).

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

Some of their Christmas sweets such as their Rose & Lemon Turkish Delight are vegan too – it’s worth checking the label or asking a member of staff for help if you’re not sure.

View the full vegan range here: Hotel Chocolat Vegan Range

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

For A Buzzing Christmas Party

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

Once finished shopping for vegan friendly Christmas treats and gifts I also headed to Turtle Bay, Peterborough’s fun and lively Caribbean restaurant where the atmosphere is always buzzing. If you’re sick of Christmas music and want somewhere a little different for a festive get together, this place is a winner.

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts I tried the Spiced Chickpea Ital and Sweetcorn Fritters. Both were super tasty but be warned these are SPICY dishes that build heat over time. If you’re sensitive to spices, you might want to ask your waiter for guidance on how hot the dish is before you choose!

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

If you have a Christmas party to organise, two courses from the Christmas Lunch menu are £14.95 and two courses from the Christmas Anytime menu are £19.95. You get a £20 gift card as a thank you for booking a table of 10 people or more (£50 gift card for tables over 30).

I have to thank Queensgate and their stores for once again being wonderful hosts and showing me that there are plenty of vegan friendly Christmas treats and gifts to enjoy this year!

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: All food and drink consumed on the night was complimentary thanks to Queensgate Shopping Centre and the participating retailers. I have shared my personal highlights from the evening to share with you here.

Follow:

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

Since adopting a plant based diet I’ve discovered some absolutely delicious recipes online. However as much as I love to spend time cooking, sometimes I just don’t have the time to follow an elaborate recipe. Sometimes all I want is proper back to basics food, the kind that I can grab all the ingredients for in a quick dash around the supermarket and then rustle up at home confidently in less than 30 minutes.

That’s why I’ve decided to start sharing what I eat on those days. These aren’t recipes as such, quite often they’ll use store bought sauces or frozen items, I just make them a little bit more exciting and maybe a touch healthier too by making a few little additions or tweaks.

I hope that this helps give you some simple ideas for what to make when you’re getting a bit hangry!

First up, my 20 minute pesto pasta:

20 Minute Pesto Pasta

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

My 20 minute pesto pasta hardly needs any prep at all and if you keep using the same saucepan, you can limit the washing up too. I’ve included some lower cost/higher protein swops that you can make, but I encourage you just to play around and see what works best for you!

Ingredients (per person)

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

75g fusilli pasta*

A handful of broccoli tips

1 to 2 tablespoons vegan friendly pesto (I used Sacla Free From No.9 Basil Pesto)

A handful of pine nuts

About 7 or 8 cherry tomatoes (I like to be a bit fancy and use on the vine ones, but any will do)

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

*Low cost version: Use normal dried pasta.

*Lower carbs/higher protein version: use vegetable pasta. There should be some in the ‘free from’ section of your local supermarket, I used Morrison’s ‘green pea pasta’ for this recipe.

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 200c (180c fan assisted)
  2. Put a handful of pine nuts in a medium sized saucepan and toast them over a medium heat. This will only take a few minutes so keep moving them about in the pan. Keep a close eye on them so that they don’t burn!20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan
  3. Put the pine nuts to one side in a small bowl and then fill the saucepan with water. Bring it to the boil.
  4. Whilst your water is reaching temperature, line a baking tray with tin foil (you can skip the foil if your tray is non stick). Place your cherry tomatoes in the tray and drizzle over some olive oil. Shake the tray to make sure all your tomatoes get a coating. Season with a few grinds of salt and pepper.20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan
  5. Put your tomatoes in the oven to roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until the skin is just beginning to char and split.
  6. When your water has boiled, add some salt and then your pasta. Follow the instructions to cook it through. (Vegetable pasta is super quick, usually about 5 to 8 minutes, dried pasta takes a little bit longer).
  7. Once your pasta is cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove it into a bowl, keeping the pasta water reserved in the saucepan.
  8. Add your broccoli to the boiling pasta water and leave it to simmer for about 6 minutes. If you prefer your veggies on the softer side, cook for a little longer.
  9. Once done, drain your broccoli and keep it to one side.
  10. Put the pasta back in the saucepan, add the pesto and warm it through over a medium heat. Then add the broccoli and warm through for another minute.
  11. By now your tomatoes should be ready. Spoon the pasta and broccoli onto the plate and sprinkle over the pine nuts. Top with the cherry tomatoes and season with a bit more salt and pepper.
  12. Enjoy!

 

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

If you try my 20 minute pesto pasta please do get in touch by commenting below or tagging me on Instagram @lovedbylaurac or Twitter @lovedbylaurac and using the hashtag #EasyV. I’d love to see what you come up with!

LovedByLaura

Follow: