Vegan Birthday Burgers at O’Joy Wellness Bistro, Shrewsbury – Review

It was my birthday recently (no singing, please, no really, it’s fine) and usually it’s the biggest non-event of the year! It’s right smack bang in the middle of a host of family birthdays. Moreover, most family members are often on holiday and we’ve usually already had Mum here for her July birthday, which generally means I don’t see anyone. And to be honest – I’m not telling any family secrets here – my husband is not the most imaginative or proactive when it comes to birthdays or presents or surprises of any kind. It’s just not in his DNA.

Flowers from Mum

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Consequently, when he asked a few days beforehand what I’d like for my birthday, I thought I would prevent the inevitable purchase of some kind of gadget I would never use in a million years and ask for the kitchen to be painted! It is long long overdue, and this is what I opened on birthday morning:

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I had told him what shade I’d like – Apple White – but he thought he’d give me a choice!

I had been cooped up for so long with the floor restoration going on and the decorators before that, so I had hoped we could go out somewhere, but when I got up the weather was cold, wet and grisly and I resigned myself to staying indoors. With my dodgy back, I rarely go anywhere, seating is always a problem. I am used to this, but sometimes I can go out in the warmer summer weather, when we take a picnic and drive around the countryside to see where we end up. (Last year it was Wroxeter – A Roman City on A Beautiful Summer’s Day. )

I mentioned as much to my husband, who suggested we go to a lakeside café he and his cycling pals sometimes stop at, but it wasn’t somewhere I could confidently get food or drink to suit my vegan, gluten- and nightshade-free habits – see last summer’s post Chillin’ on a Chilly Afternoon with Chilli and you’ll see what I mean – so I decided to Google vegan cafés in the area in the hope we could go out for lunch, something I have done only once in 30 years.

We came across O’Joy Wellness Centre & Bistro in Shrewsbury. As I read about it, I remembered that the BBC’s ‘DIY SOS’ and ‘The Big Build’ presenter, Nick Knowles, became co-owner of a vegan restaurant after staying at a retreat in Thailand and subsequently adopting a vegan lifestyle. The centre also offers counselling and psychotherapy. I hadn’t realised it was in Shrewsbury. The photos looked promising, the seating looked manageable, with my back cushion. We phoned them up to get directions and they told us where we could park.

Needless to say, we got lost! Again. No, we still don’t have a Sat Nav, but I aim to rectify that in a few weeks when it’s His Nibs’ birthday! So many new roundabouts with rubbish signage! My husband reckons the highways people expect everyone to have sat navs these days and so anything beyond a basic N, S, E or W is redundant!

IMG_3812We found the bistro eventually, having turned left when we should have turned right! A dark blue frontage and ceiling, rustic oak tables, cheerful yellow chairs and welcoming young and friendly staff greeted us on what had degenerated into a typical chilly blustery Shrewsbury day. We were shown to our table at the back, for which I was grateful as the door was kept open and I was cold. Our bubbly, smiley waitress waited patiently as we sorted out which chair was best and put my cushion in place. She asked if I would prefer to sit over the other side where there was a bench with lots of plump cushions, but I was fine and didn’t want to cause any further fuss.

We later noticed a large sign asking patrons to order at the counter during the day, but the place was quiet when we arrived and the staff seemed happy to wait on us.

Here’s what I ordered:

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Everything is vegan and there are gluten-free options, like the bun with this burger. The Green Goddess salad originally came with croutons, but they were happy to replace them with toasted sunflower and sesame seeds. The raw carrot cake was gluten-free. I also had the Green Monster Burger with sweet potato fries, my husband had tomato and roasted red pepper soup, Cajun burger, and gluten-free raw brownie. There was a selection of herbal, fruit and green teas as well as smoothies and soft drinks.

We must have been there two and a half hours! People came and went, some with young children, ordering falafels or dips and pitta bread; others meeting friends and ordering tacos; all ate at leisure and no-one was rushed out the door. The place has a cosy feel to it and the staff were lovely. When I returned from the washroom, my husband had paid the bill and we said goodbye to our waitress who wished me a happy birthday and laughed at the look of surprise on my face. She had asked my husband what our plans were for the rest of the day and he said it was my birthday, so anything was possible. She replied we should have told her and they would have put a candle on my cake! There was no sign of Nick, he mustn’t have got the memo;-)

I had a lovely day and I was so full, I actually didn’t eat again until lunchtime next day, other than a small juice for breakfast. My husband came home and had to sleep it off for three hours!

Birthday girl:

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Oh, and the kitchen is being painted as I type:

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

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The Benefits of Baobab, a Fruity Protein Smoothie + Review of Aduna Bars.

img_1319Baobab powder may be new to many of you. I’ve only recently begun using it in smoothies and on porridge and I really like it.

It has a mild, citrus almost sherbet taste and contains protein as well as calcium, iron, thiamin, vitamin C, fibre and potassium.

I use Aduna* brand as I like their ethos: they use vegan, organic ingredients and support small producers in Africa, many of them women (here’s a link to a good article in The Guardian about their business and the impact of growing baobab on local African economies).

I also use their moringa leaf powder which is a green herbal-tasting superfood, a bit like spinach, also with a high protein content, vitamins and minerals.

(My first order came with a personal handwritten thank you note and a couple of recipe cards, which was a nice touch).

(Coincidentally, after I had written and scheduled this post, I won a box of Aduna Moringa and Baobab bars! I have to say, the family love them. The 22 month old who won’t eat anything vaguely resembling a vegetable but loves all kinds of fruit gobbled up a Baobab bar. It has pineapple in and is very flavoursome with a strong citrus taste. I love the Moringa bars with their mango and slightly herbal flavour. They are both highly satisfying. My husband takes a Baobab bar with him on cycle rides). 

Ps Since this post was published I ordered some Aduna Cacao bars – they are lush! They have walnuts, cacao nibs and hibiscus in them and it’s a lovely fruity combination with a bit of a bite from the nuts ‘n’ nibs.

The bars are organic, vegan and gluten-free.

Fruity Protein Smoothie

img_2349This smoothie recipe is also vegan, gluten-free and organic.

If you have time, soak the oats and cashews for 15-20 minutes in the coconut water in the blender. This makes them more digestible.

The grapes and plum contain the anti-ageing reseveratrol, banana is a good source of potassium and energy, the oats and cashews have calming magnesium and the hemp seeds are a good source of protein and healthy omega oils.

Ingredients

Half a Banana

1 Plum

Handful Red Grapes (washed well, they are among the most sprayed crops in the world)

2 Heaped Tbsps Oats

Handful of Cashew pieces

1 Tbsp Baobab Powder*

2 Heaped Tbsps Hemp Seeds

Coconut Water – I used quite a lot this time as I wanted a thin smoothie.

Add all the ingredients to the blender and blend well.

https://aduna.com/

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Review: Taste-Testing The New Naked Organic Tiger Nuts from The Tiger Nut Company

I love Tiger Nut Milk or Horchata. It is sweet and creamy and full of nutrients: Tiger Nuts (tubers really, not nuts) contain protein, fibre, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, multiple vitamins and oleic acid, they’re also a prebiotic which makes for a healthy gut environment in which probiotics can grow (see here for recipe).

We usually make Horchata with unpeeled Organic Tiger Nuts from The Tiger Nut Company* and use the resulting pulp residue to make raw cookies or energy balls, but the pulp can be a bit coarse from the skins. So I was delighted when Ani recently announced their new product: Naked (ie peeled) Organic Tiger Nuts!

I couldn’t wait to try them and to see if they would make as good quality milk as the original Organic Unpeeled and also it would be interesting to see if the pulp was any finer or more versatile.

I used the same recipe for both milks, omitting the vanilla extract I usually add, because I wanted to taste them raw.

Here is the result:

On the left is the original unpeeled milk, on the right the new Naked milk. (Stored in my glass Grip and Go bottles).

Firstly, I noticed that the Naked made roughly 100mls less milk than the unpeeled – about 600mls compared with about 700mls – hardly anything (although it looks in the photos as if it’s the other way round, there was some left over that I put into small jars).

Second, the pulp from the Naked was lighter and slightly finer.

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On the left is the unpeeled, on the right the Naked and for comparison the Chufa de Valencia Tiger Nut Flour.

The milk from the Naked was infinitesimally thinner, but only a regular drinker could notice the difference, and only by tasting one after the other and really thinking about it! My husband couldn’t tell. It was still sweet and creamy.

The pulp from the Naked was much better for baking, easy to use with a much finer texture. We made some Dipped Tiger Nut, Mango & Orange Fruit Treats, which I’ll post later in the week, they were smooth and not at all gritty.

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My son asked if there would be a loss of nutrients, which is a fair point, but the Naked still retain a little of their skin and if it it makes the difference between discarding the pulp because it is too coarse or using the finer Naked pulp, I’d say it balances out pretty well.

All in all, I am delighted with this new product and highly recommend it!  

Ps There are other Tiger Nut Recipes here

Home-2016

Copyright: Chris McGowan