Before we start this ‘free from favourites’, I want you to know that I am not sponsored by any of these companies, I just like sharing with you all a few of my favourites in the hope it can help. I remember all too well how frustrating and difficult it was when I discovered my gluten intolerance and whilst being vegan seems easy enough, pairing the two started of being quite hard.
Beginning with Chester’s Olive Tree Brasserie, also located in other towns. I cannot recommend this place enough, everything about it was simply delightful. The staff were polite, friendly and approachable. With a new vegan menu, also offering plenty of gluten free and nut free dishes, I could not decide what to order. Luckily my mother is swaying to vegetarianism and so we happily ordered two ‘Nicole friendly’ dishes, splitting them both. Do you ever do that? It is a great way to try more than one dish.
We ordered one ‘Souvlaki’ which was a roasted vegetable skewer, hummus, salad and herb rice. The second dish was the ‘Stifado’, a butternut squash, mushroom stew topped with pistachio nuts and accompanied with seasoned roast potatoes. Both dishes were fragrant, aromatic and light yet still very satisfying. I often find gluten free dishes to be slightly oily, leaving my stomach feeling quite uneasy however, these were just right, not greasy in the slightest. If you are looking for a nice spot for lunch, dinner or even a drink and some nibbles I highly suggest stopping by, my mother and I look forward to visiting again.
Of course my old favourite Las Iguanas also made an appearance in Mays free from favourites. My sister and I popped in for lunch, each time I visit there seems to be a new gluten-free, vegan option and my decision on what to have gets harder. With the weather brightening up, I have been craving fresh salads and Las Iguanas gave me just that.
I chose the ‘Totopos- Spice-dusted corn chips with roasted tomato salsa’ to start and the ‘Fiesta Ensalada- Roasted butternut squash, mixed leaves, carrot, cucumber, pink pickled onions, oven-dried tomatoes & fresh avocado, tossed in a poppy seed dressing. Topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, charred corn & roquito peppers’ for main. Both starter and main could not have been fresher nor more colourful, I mean look at all those colours? Very flavoursome and surprisingly filling to, Las Iguanas is always my trusted go to whilst out, there is something for everybody and the service is always helpful.
A little different than my usual free from favourites but I couldn’t not recommend this lovely shop. I stumbled upon Zingiber Wholefoods, Llangollen, a few months back. To my surprise, having walked the street hundreds of times before, yet never once noticing it. This shop is perfect for anybody looking for a wholefoods here in North Wales, which unfortunately are rather rare. The shop is always beaming with allergy and vegan foods, the prices are reasonable and the staff are friendly, welcoming and very helpful.
Speaking of North Wales, a new favourite of mine is Wild Trail bars. Again, I cannot recommend these bars enough. Far more satisfying than other gluten free, vegan bars I have tried. The bars come in three different flavours: Apple, Cocoa and Seed & Nut, each one flavoursome with a slight crunch, unlike other bars I have tried which tend to be more soft. Although very close my favourite is the Cocoa, being a little different than my usual ‘go to’ bars. Nuts and chocolate are one of my favourite flavour combinations and this is almost like a crunchy nutty, chocolate brownie .
With just the right amount of sweetness, these bars are perfect for an ‘on the go snack’. The first time I tried one, I was literally falling asleep until, I ate it and out of nowhere decided to go for a run, true story. I think I have found my new ‘emergency bag snack’. If you have allergies, are vegan or are just looking for a natural, honest snack look out for Wild Trail bars. You can order these bars in a mixed box of six, perfect if they are new to you to. I love everything about this company and will definitely be taking some Wild Trail bars on my travels.
Another new favourite of mine is Emily Fruit Crisps, only the veg kind, to some these will seem a little strange but be open minded, I promise you won’t regret it. I must admit I find these a little pricy for the amount you get but that is probably just me who would like three packets for the price of one. It is hard to believe these crunchy, flavoursome crisps have ‘no funny stuff’, another great alternative to have on the go.
I have mentioned The Raw Chocolate Co in previous free from favourites posts but this bar is new to me, having come across it at Zingiber Wholefoods. This ‘Goji and Orange’ flavoured raw chocolate bar is my new-found favourite. The chocolate itself is 72% cocoa which seems quite dark however, it tastes a lot lighter and more ‘milk’ chocolate like. Unlike most dark chocolate, the goji berries and orange oil add a sweet flavour, making this the perfect afternoon pick me up. Like always, I honestly cannot believe it is raw!
A sweet favourite and without a doubt my favourite of the month, Ice Shack, Manchester. It is very rare I am able to find a vegan ice cream parlour, my last being whilst in Paris. Ice Shack, is a must if you are in Manchester and are looking for something sweet, with an extensive menu, including over twenty ice cream flavours, there is something for every one, even your dogs! With most of the flavours also gluten free, I felt spoilt for choice. Of course being the chocolate lover I am, I chose one scoop of chocolate, one scoop of chocolate and peanut butter, in a gluten free cone which was surprisingly crunchy and topped with chocolate chips. As you can tell by my face, it did not disappoint. The parlour itself has a relaxed, home comfort type feel with board games and comfy sofas to, not to forget the welcoming and friendly employers. As you can probably gather by this oh so enthusiastic post, I shall be visiting again.
This will probably be my last free from favourites for a while, but I shall return in September bringing you free from food finds from the US! Oh the excitement. If you have any gluten-free, vegan New York suggestions or friendly travel tips please do get in touch!
Thank you for reading,