Hearty Vegan Food at Nancy’s of Ardara – Restaurant Review

I often find myself lazing around my house at weekends, and as someone with mental health issues and a habit of hibernating out of season, I felt I needed to get out of the house last weekend. I’m so glad I made a plan and saw it through – that in itself is good for mental health – as I had a wonderful time with my family exploring Donegal.

nancys restaurant review

Naturally, explorers get peckish after a while and I was absolutely ravenous after we got to Ardara. We had driven through Ramelton, Glenties and we had yet to go to Donegal Town, so it was time for food! nancys restaurant review

I was a bit dubious at the prospect of finding a place that offered some hearty vegan food options for me, but after seeing a menu option for a ‘veggie burger’ at none other than a SEAFOOD BAR, I realised Ardara was not quite like other places! It was way ahead!

We decided to pop in to ask if the veggie burger was vegan-friendly and thank God it was because otherwise I might have turned my back and not experienced the delish food on offer at Nancy’s!

nancys restaurant review

The bar/restaurant is like a labyrinth inside; there are so many little hidden hallways and doorways and staircases and it’s so ‘old Irish’ charming. The staff as well are very friendly and they engage you with you at the table, which is always nice.

nancys restaurant review

They had a whole section of vegetarian food available and all of it could be modified for vegans. Their menu also specifically stated that their soup was dairy free (the menu was LAMINATED, so it’s here to stay 😉 ) and it was so refreshing not to have to ask. They also had a vegan carrot cake on offer for the troopers who managed to get through their portions!

I also had a soup to start, which was so thick it was more like a stew than anything else. It was delish! Though it came with Dairygold butter, so obviously I avoided that and just enjoyed the soup on its own.

nancys restaurant review

I had a veggie burger with – wait for it – chilli on the side! I thought this was a bit strange (chips weren’t available), but although I could’ve gotten baby potatoes as a side instead, I really wanted to try the chilli because it’s a main option on the menu as well. Two birds with one stone! Not that I’d excuse violence towards birds, but you get the idea!

I didn’t opt for the carrot cake because I was absolutely STUFFED but I imagine it would’ve have been fab as well. The moral of this review is that you shouldn’t judge a restaurant or café by its name or by the food it specialises in; you CAN be surprised!

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Sova Vegan Butchers | Restaurant Review

As a vegan, nothing is more inviting than the thought of sitting down with a menu at a restaurant and not having to direct a barrage of questions at the waiter. As someone who loves going out to dinner, it can be a bit of an ordeal these days unless I’ve called ahead to ensure there’ll be something for me to eat. Since hearing of Sova Vegan Butchers, a 100% vegan restaurant off Camden St, I’ve wanted to go. The food in the pictures I’d seen looked fabulous and I’d heard nothing but good things.

sova vegan butchers review

This weekend I FINALLY got to go. It was my birthday and my boyfriend was treating me, so why not go to the one restaurant in Dublin where I can relax and not have to worry about what I’m eating? I booked a table a month in advance (not that you have to, but I was so excited I wanted to sort it straight away!) for me, a friend and my boyfriend. We got there in plenty of time so that there’d be no issues with our table and I wasn’t at all shocked to see the place was packed. It isn’t exactly a large venue, but there’s a ground floor and first floor with just enough floor space to shimmy around.

sova vegan butchers review

After walking up the curvy staircase, we were seated next to the stairs, where we were given menus straight away. The decor is very minimal but there are some great art pieces on the wall featuring abstract animals, plus you’re so excited to just be there that it doesn’t even matter. The atmosphere is bopping anyway because of the number of people, but surprisingly it didn’t feel overly crowded despite being quite close to other diners.

We ordered quickly and all of the food reached our table quite fast, which was impressive given the number of people being served. That’s part of the beauty of eating out vegan – you don’t have the same wait times that you’d expect when ordering steak for instance.

sova vegan butchers review

I ordered king scallops on a bed of dill potato cakes with marinated cauliflower and black pudding and the other two ordered seafood chowder. Both starters were gorgeous. I’d never had seafood chowder before so I don’t have anything to compare it with, but it was fabulous. Similarly, I’d never had scallops before but the whole starter was delicious, particularly the dill potato cakes and black pudding. Surprisingly, I loved the cauliflower bites even though cauliflower wouldn’t usually be my cup of tea, as it were.

sova vegan butchers review

We soon moved on to the main event! I ordered seitan steak with pepper sauce and a big dollop of potatoes with toasted kale. Although the texture isn’t steak-y, the meal itself tasted lovely and when I smothered the steak in sauce it definitely brought back memories of that meaty taste. The potatoes, too, were perfect.

sova vegan butchers review

Unfortunately, the soya schnitzels that my boyfriend ordered were not very nice. It was such a pity because the rest of the meal was so tasty and really high quality, plus it was all beautifully presented. I really couldn’t say anything good about the taste of the schnitzels, if I’m honest; I don’t know if it was a bad batch or if that’s really what they’re meant to be like, but I’d recommend avoiding them as the rest of the menu offers much tastier alternatives.

sova vegan butchers review

For dessert we had lime cheesecake. Full disclosure: I HATE lime. Like, I hate it. It’s the beetroot of fruits! However, I really wanted to check out the texture of the cheesecake on offer at Sova so I decided to give it a go. Although the lime taste was awful (not Sova’s fault, just my tastebuds), the texture was great and it was well presented just like the rest of the meal. So next time when they have a different flavour on offer, I’ll happily get the cheesecake again! The other dessert offered was a chocolate avocado mousse, but I’ve had that a hundred times so I took the chance to try the cheesecake texture. No regrets!

sova vegan butchers review

My two guests had a great time and we all plan on coming back again soon. The only problem they brought up was a €6 corkage charge for wine and €1 for beers, as it’s BYOB. To be honest, I didn’t think this was a problem because so many restaurants in Dublin do this and you can actually end up better off. For example, you could pick up a cheap bottle in Lidl/Aldi and bring that instead of having to opt for a very expensive bottle in-house. Look at the glass half full!

Overall, Sova gets a solid 4 stars from me. It has friendly staff, a varied menu, reasonable prices for the quality of the food, and a 100% vegan menu. Although the experience wasn’t perfect, I really enjoyed my night and I loved the food. Do yourself a favour and visit Sova. Your tummy will thank you! If tummies could talk, which they shouldn’t. If yours does, get that checked out.

Have you been to Sova? What did you think? Do you agree? Let me know in the comments! 

Address: 51 Pleasants St, Dublin 8

Tel: 085 727 7509

Pure Chimp Vegan Face Cleanser And Soap Review

I received some Pure Chimp products as a present a while ago, and as I’m nearly finished them, I figured now was a good time to write a review!

First, a little about the company:

All of Pure Chimp’s products are suitable for vegans and have been registered with the vegan society (this is always a huge plus for me as it’s a bother having to email companies individually to find out if they’re vegan!)

The company has a strong ethical stance as they give 5% of their profits to charity and every product on the website is 100% natural.

They also help look after the planet by using recyclable glass jars, recyclable plastic pouches and recyclable paper when packaging the products.

pure chimp vegan products review

They’re best known for their matcha green tea (which I haven’t tried yet!) but they also have a range of other products on offer, including the soap and cleanser that I received!

I got the Super Cleanser which is suitable for people with sensitive skin (not a problem I usually face, but it’s great that it’s inclusive of all skin types!)

In the mixture, extra virgin olive oil is used to lock in moisture and kaolin clay draws out impurities. The ingredients are completely natural including ground almonds, vegetable glycerine, dried marigold, banana extract, sea buckthorn oil, vitamin E oil as well as the extra virgin olive oil and clay I mentioned above.

pure chimp vegan products review

I thought it was very similar to the Angels On Bare Skin cleanser from Lush, but with a much stronger scent (the banana). It also broke apart easier in my hands when mixed with water (a good thing!) and left my face feeling clean and hydrated.

On the website, it’s being sold for £11.95 (which is approx. €14) so it’s quite steep for just 80g. I think this is more of a luxury cleanser (one I can’t afford myself right now) but I’d be delighted if I got it again as a gift.

The soap I received is £4.95 from their website but it’s quite a big bar so you get your money’s worth from it. It smells like banana and vanilla, which is quite pleasant, and leaves your hands feeling moisturised after.

pure chimp vegan products review

I would definitely use this in the shower rather than wasting it on my hands as it is really moisturising and better suited to a body prone to dryness (like my own). It has absolutely no chemicals which is fantastic. The ingredients are olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and banana extract so it’s really luxurious.

Both of the products I got last between a year and 18 months so they have a natural shelf life rather than the chemical filled crap that you could probably still use 10 years from now.

I’d definitely recommend them if you have the money to give them a go, particularly if you have sensitive and dry skin! It’s also great to support genuinely vegan companies like this one!

 

 

 

Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg – Review

vegan egg

I went vegan in April and I’ve been feeling great ever since (it’s hands down the best decision I’ve made in my life), but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t things I missed, like eggs. I was a fiendish egg eater in the past and it’s probably the reason my cholesterol was so high at the start of the year. I know I won’t be eating eggs again, which is why when I heard the vegan egg had landed in shops in my hometown, I was ecstatic.

Since April, I’ve been baking without any eggs at all and, although they’ve turned out great (most of them anyway!), it’s good to know I now have the option of a vegan egg to tackle dishes that kind of require egg, like meringue. I know a lot of vegans use aquafaba (the liquid in a tin of chickpeas) or soaked chia seeds as it works the same way, but I’m excited to see how desserts turn out with an actual egg alternative.

The Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg is pegged as a plant-based, sustainable egg alternative for the masses. According to Followyourheart.com, a dozen chicken eggs = 6.6 miles worth of greenhouse gas emissions. And 1 year of US chicken egg consumption = 48 billion miles worth of greenhouse gas emissions.

Production of 1 egg uses 52 gallons of water. One year of US egg consumption (that’s JUST the US) equals 4.5 trillion gallons of water. That’s enough to provide drinking water for every person in the US for 77 years.

vegan egg

It’s pretty shocking, and I found it hard to get my head around these kind of numbers when I learned about the damage animal agriculture is doing to the planet, but it sinks in eventually.

I first tried making regular old scrambled eggs for a fry up (what can I say, I wanted to treat myself!) with Linda McCartney sausages to go with it. I totally messed up at first as I used a saucepan rather than a frying pan and it wasn’t hot enough to start with, so my eggs were more rubbery mush than anything else.

However, I got a frying pan started again, making sure my pan was sizzling hot before adding the egg mixture (which, by the way, is super easy to make – you just add cold water). Thankfully, it worked the second time, though it cooks differently to regular eggs so don’t be alarmed when things don’t look the same.

The box said to cook the eggs for between 6 and 8 minutes and I felt that was about right. You really just have to scrape the pan while you’re mixing the eggs round in the pan, otherwise you won’t be left with very much product. Two level tablespoons equals one egg, so be wary of that when you’re making them.

You get between 10 and 12 eggs in the packet with the mixture but I find that a little hard to believe as my packet looks half empty now, but we’ll see.

As for the egg itself, it certainly smells eggy when you’re mixing the liquid but that flavour is quite muted once the egg is done. However, add black pepper and some salt and it tastes good all the same, but nowhere near as eggy as a real egg.

The vegan egg gets a big thumbs up for me but expect to have a practice run with that first egg as there’s a learning curve with this product!

Have you tried the vegan egg before? Let me know in the comments!

SynerChi Live Kombucha Drink – Review

I was in The Natural Way in Donegal today to pick up a few things and I noticed that they were stocking SynerChi, a new kombucha drink by a company from Donegal. I first heard about the brand from Green Leafy Gael who, like me, is a vegan blogger from Donegal. She wrote up a great review lately about the brand and the drinks and I made a mental note to try them if I saw them around.

I’m delighted that I finally get to give them a go! I picked out the Oranges & Lemon and Original Sencha Tea flavours, although there was another Lemongrassy one available in the shop as well. I’m a huge fan of green tea, so I figured kombucha is the next logical step for my taste buds!

What exactly is kombucha? 

According to SynerChi’s sales executive, Nick Mulhall, kombucha is a fermented green tea with real live cultures present.

Created by brewmaster Laura Murphy, SynerChi is certified organic, raw and vegan and is naturally gluten, dairy and soy free. It is 100% natural with no artificial colours, additives or preservatives and is just 59 calories per bottle (330ml).

SynerChi live kombucha

Not only is SynerChi naturally carbonated (which makes it a healthy soda alternative), it’s also great for gut health and is an excellent aid for digestion.

I tried the Oranges & Lemon flavour first, as it seemed the safest bet, and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t expect the smell, as it had a faint cider kind of scent, but it was really pleasant after getting used to it. I’d definitely buy this flavour again as it was refreshing and it really was like drinking a regular soda.

SynerChi live kombucha

The Original Sencha Tea smell hit me like a freight train. I really wasn’t a fan of the smell but the taste is fine, it’s just a little plain in comparison to the Oranges & Lemon flavour. I think it’s a bit of an acquired taste, but it was still nice and refreshing. I can see these being great for picnics and I already plan on bringing a bottle to the cinema this weekend.

Here is a list of healing properties from drinking kombucha, according to Whole Lifestyle Nutrition: 

  • Probiotics – healthy bacteria
  • Alkalizes the body – balances internal pH
  • Increases metabolism – rev your internal engine
  • Improves digestion – keep your system moving
  • Rebuilds connective tissue – helps with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism
  • Cancer prevention
  • Alleviates constipation
  • Boosts energy – helps with chronic fatigue
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Relieves headaches & migraines
  • Reduces kidney stones
  • High in antioxidants – destroy free-radicals that cause cancer
  • High in polyphenols
  • Improves eyesight
  • Heals eczema – can be applied topically to soften the skin
  • Prevents artheriosclerosis
  • Speeds healing of ulcers – kills h.pylori on contact
  • Helps clear up candida and yeast infections
  • Aids healthy cell regeneration
  • Reduces gray hair
  • Lowers glucose levels – prevents spiking from eating

That’s a lot of benefits! I plan on trying all the flavours on offer so we’ll see if I experience the positive side effects touted above. I’m really looking forward to trying Raspberry & Rosehip as raspberry is one of my all-time favourite flavours.

Overall, I’m happy with my purchases and I love that the company is local; it’s really important to support independent businesses so buy local when you can!

Although these drinks seem to deliver some great health benefits, I’ve come across a few articles that warns against drinking them if you’re pregnant or nursing. As a fermentation process is used, that makes sense, and although there’s no solid evidence that it’s harmful, I’d rather be safe than sorry if a baby’s health could be negatively affected.