Monday, 18 May 2015

Black Grape Smoothie

There's something special about black grapes. They have a certain deep intensity of flavour and a level of sophistication. The blacker the better - the kind you get from Tesco are so good they're practically alcoholic. Once you're hooked on these other grapes just taste watery by comparison.

And they're amazing in smoothies. This one can be done with either fresh or frozen grapes: fresh yields a refreshing, smooth, zingy beverage, whereas frozen lends itself to a texture thats almost like ice-cream. This one is very filling considering its not got that much in it - perfect for a small breakfast or snack.

Go forth and enjoy!

Black Grape Smoothie

by Shonalika Tilak
Cook Time: 5 mins
Ingredients (Serves 1)
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ½ cup grapes
  • 1 tbsp avocado
  • 1 cup (or less) amond milk,
  • Pinch salt
  • Optional sweetener to taste
1. Blitz ingredients in a food processor or blender.
2. Serve and gulp!
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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Vegan Pizza Night: Morelli Zorelli

Morelli Zorelli are a relatively new pizza place. Situated on Brighton's Western Road, they took over from what used to be called the Gourmet Pizza Club, which was well-known amongst vegans for catering properly to them. The story is that when the new business took over, they found themselves inundated with indignant vegans wanting to know where the pizza they used to get here had gone.

Rather than simply saying "We don't do vegan" (which admittedly would be new business suicide in Brighton, but nonetheless) they sent out an online survey, asking their vegan clients which options they would like to see added to the menu. How good is that? Especially as I like filling in forms and surveys. No really, I find it quite enjoyable. Especially when you get to rate things one to ten and tick boxes. Anyone else understand this? I get a weird sense of satisfaction from it.

Please tell me I'm not alone in the world.

I don't believe I said anything interesting or helpful in my survey. The only thing I absolutely require on a pizza is jalapenos, plus fresh tomato added afterwards, though I don't know if I even remembered that whilst contentedly form-filling.

My favourite pizza of the evening: Smoked Tofu and Artichoke.

A couple of weeks ago, I was randomly emailed tickets to go to a free vegan pizza tasting night. Needless to say I was quite pleased about this. My form-filling fetish actually came in useful for once!

It was a funny arrangement. We all got plunked in the downstairs dining area, seated at tables like we were going to eat there, while for the next fifteen minutes the staff tried to get rid of the last group of pizza-eaters lingering upstairs. Then we all trooped up ourselves.

They'd said it would be "buffet-style" so I was initially hoping that we'd be able to grab the slices we wanted, then smuggle our plates back downstairs. Instead, they brought out one type of pizza at a time as demonstrated in the picture below - three plates being plenty enough for everyone to try each flavour.

This actually turned out to be a lot more fun as everyone got drunk (though they need to get a vegan wine on the menu to match the new pizzas!) and the standing-around-eating-on-your-feet-like-at-a-party thing was far more conducive to mingling and chatting to everyone else there than being at tables would have been.

This is Matt, who kept running home every five minutes to deliver slices to his ill and absent wife, and deserves some sort of medal. 

I'm sure you want to goggle at the pizzas more than you want to read my description of the event, so here they are:

(Photos kindly provided by Justine Turner, who was in the group after me. I didn't get to try all of these, boo shame - look at the ham and pineapple!!) 

Here are the TWELVE new dishes that will now be permanently on the menu. 

They served about 5 of these varieties to my group: Chicken and Pesto, Courgette Aubergine and Mushroom, Smoked Tofu and Artichoke,  BBQ Chicken, and Pesto Mushroom and Asparagus. They were using two brands of vegan cheese and two types of base, one of which was gluten-free. 

I loved the gluten-free base - it was quite firm and had a bit of bite to it, which I actually prefer to the slippy sloppy slithery standard pizza base. On the other hand, I wasn't overly enthused by either of the cheeses (one was Violife, I've forgotten the other), finding them both to be bland and tasteless. However, I'm really not a fan of pre-packaged vegan cheeses on the whole. I think they'd do much better to make some of their own cheese - perhaps cashew-based - and use it as a type of specific topping rather than slather all the pizzas with any packaged stuff. 

That aside, I did really enjoy the Smoked Tofu and Artichoke. The BBQ chicken was pretty good too. The general consensus amongst the assembled was that anything smoked = good. Truth right there. Also, I've not used onions in cooking for so long that I'd come to view them as unnecessary, but this pizza reintroduced me to the joy that is onions that have been caramelised. 

I didn't love most of the pizzas, but this was partly because of the cheese, and partly because they weren't my favourite flavours - however I think anyone reading should bear in mind that being a healthy health healther who didn't grow up eating much pizza, I'm not that fussed about pizza, I don't have pizza on a regular basis and I'm very particular about my toppings on the rare occasions I do eat a pizza. My own particular fussiness didn't matter anyway; this was a great fun evening socialising with all the other vegans and general food lovers who showed up. Also


I'm really impressed with this place's enthusiasm to cater to its vegan customers. It was a well-executed event and the staff seemed to be enjoying themselves as well as the guests. A very nifty marketing ploy too, of course: since I always always prefer my food spicy, the Veggie Hot was the flavour I wanted to try, and the Duck and Smokey Joe sound really interesting too. Both my non-vegan friend and I agreed we'd definitely go back! 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Review: Nakd Nibbles

Today the Pulse reviews Nakd's latest concoction. Teensy tiny mouse-sized pieces, in no less than SIX new flavours.

As a big nakd bar fan you can imagine I was quite inclined to eat all of them at once, but I managed to restrain myself and make them span out a couple of weeks.

Since I am a fan of nakd bars and raw desserts in general, my opinion is perhaps not relevant to everybody. So I also shared some of each packet with a non-vegan two-sugars-in-my-tea human named Dan, to get a more balanced opinion. Both our ratings appear under the name of each item.

No freebies for me here, just doin' it for the laaaav. Enjoy!


The nibbles aren’t at all sticky, which was my one main reservation about the idea of “bitty,” nakd bars. I often like to snack on one while I’m doing work at the computer and the nice sanitary nature of a wrapped bar is convenient for that - happily, with these you can just shake bites out into your palm and chomp/type/whatever else it is you’re doing at the same time, as I’m doing right now.

They’re as filling as the regular nakd bars, which isn’t really surprising considering they’re basically the same thing, but for some reason I was expecting them to be less substantial. If anything, it feels like you get more per packet than you do per bar, a possible mental trick caused by eating "lots," of things instead of one. 

Onto the individual flavours!

Coconut Bliss: 
Distinct dried coconutty texture with clear flavours of chocolate and coconut - definitely one for lovers of the combination! Almost marshmallowy, and sweet enough for someone who isn’t as into nakd bars as I am. Finished the packet feeling satisfied and with a big smile on my face despite not being a fan of coconut in sweets. Yum.
Me - 4.5/5
Dan - 4/5

Fruit Salad:
REALLY a lot like eating sweets - something like Chewits, or even closer, those white powdery stick things in packs with cartoon characters like Tom and Jerry on them, does anyone know what they're called? Those things that you'd stick in your mouth as a kid and pretend you were smoking a cigarette to freak out adults?! Literally identical to those in taste but marshmallowy in texture. Possibly the most confusing raw snack I’ve ever eaten. I don’t know how they’ve accomplished this!?! Have to say, I’m not a “sweetie” fan any more and therefore didn’t like these - the flavour was absolutely convincing, and the texture, by extension, made the whole thing a bit jarring and offputting. I would have expected these to appeal to someone who does like sweets, but interestingly Dan wasn’t a fan either, stating that they had a “funny aftertaste”. Our least favourite of the lot, we couldn’t finish this pack:S
Me - 2/5
Dan - 1/5

Salted Caramel: 
These at least look more like the nakd bars I know and love. Flavour-wise they’re perhaps just a tad lacking - I would have preferred "Salted Caramel" to taste more decadent. I think these could have done with a higher cashew and salt content for more “chew,” and flavour. Nitpicking though, these are very enjoyable, especially if you eat like 4 at a time!
Me - 4/5 
Dan - 3/5

Strawberries and Cream: 
Taste like exactly what they say on the packet. These are not too sweet, but very “creamy,” tasting, quite mild in comparison to the other flavours, perfectly nice. 
Me - 3/5
Dan - 4/5

Tooty Fruity: 
Approached with slight trepidation, expecting it to be really weird like the Fruit Salad. Happily, it’s much nicer - simply fruity rather than “candy,” like. These are really quite nice, in my opinion. Dan pulled a face and said he didn’t like it - but then wanted another one…? 
Me: 3/5
Dan - 2.5/5

Toffee Treat: 
Delicious! To me they don’t taste that much like toffee, but they have a chewier “nakd,” consistency that makes them more satisfying, and they’re perfectly sweet. Dan was able to taste the toffee, though to me they have a certain depth of flavour that makes them more like a toffee liqueur. Again, big mouthfuls is the way forward. 
Me - 4/5
Dan - 3/5

Mint Humbug: 
Left these till last as I was expecting NOT to like these. Natural mint flavouring is hard to get exactly right. However, they're delicious. Sharp and minty with just the right balance between added and intrinsic flavour - couldn’t fault them. Dan rated them only at 3, but wanted more again, so make of that what you will... These also worked perfectly as “bits" - didn’t feel the need to eat a handful. 
Me - 5/5
Dan - 3/5


Nakd have definitely attempted some wacky flavours here that branch far out from what you'd expect of raw snacks, by the addition of weird and wonderful flavours to the basic fruit+cashew mix, and on that front they've on the whole done really very well. The whole nibble thing works too - I do think, though, that they'd benefit from turning the Toffee, Caramel and Coconut flavours into bars, as the the first two are most enjoyable when you have a big chunk of them to chew on. They're naturally pre-dispositioned to be available in bar form. As for the coconut, that works just fine as "nibbles," but is so good that they ought to make a bar out of it too just for the bants.

Have you tried the new nibbles? What do you think of them?