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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Provide 50 Days Of Clean Water With Loresk

I love the oak tree in my parent’s garden, it’s been there for almost 3 decades and it grows stronger every year, despite rain and lightning and that time I almost drove my brother’s quad bike up its trunk! Any time I see oak leaves I think of home.

I am so lucky to live where I do, but others have homes far away from me and they aren’t so lucky. Some don’t have even half of the things I have, let alone basic essentials, like water. Water is the great equaliser – rich or poor, good or bad, we all need it to survive. It’s a human right and so many people struggle to obtain it. Some people need to walk 6km per day to collect clean water. Can you imagine? Something we take so for granted is an every day struggle to people in other countries.

The bad news is that this won’t change quickly, but the good news is that you can help! Loresk is a company I discovered a few weeks back; its mission is to spread awareness and to raise money for people who desperately need clean water.

For every product on Loresk’s online shop sold, a portion of the price is donated to The Greater Cincinnati Foundation who send water purification packets to areas in need. This provides 50 days of clean water.

According to their website, the packets contain “a powdered mixture that removes pathogenic microorganisms and suspended matter, making previously contaminated water clean”. All their products are cruelty free, so you’d be helping humans and animals alike! As if that wasn’t good enough, the company is also an ally of the we are allies of the LGBTQ+ community.

I bought this agate bracelet from them at a cost of €13.73, which isn’t a lot when you take into consideration what that money will mean to a family in need. All the beads are black except the blue one which represents the clean water being provided by the purchase. It just arrived yesterday with a handwritten note thanking me for my purchase and explaining what it meant, as well as a free hat. I’m not a hat girl, but I’ll sure be wearing this one! I was having a really terrible day and receiving this just reminded me how blessed I am and to be so grateful for what I have.

Make Your Own Garlic Dip – Vegan Tip #8

Sometimes you just really crave a pizza; whether it’s when you’re with friends on a night-in or you’re having a Netflix marathon and you can’t be bothered cooking. You can’t go too wrong with pizza!

I was over the moon when I found out that Dominoes’ tomato sauce and base is accidentally vegan and I’ve ordered many veggie pizzas minus the cheese over the last year. Unfortunately, I can’t use the garlic dip, which was something I used to LOVE when I was an omni.

If you’re missing that garlic goodness as well, fear not! You can just make your own VERY easily! All you need is a few teaspoons of vegan mayonnaise (I use Vegenaise cos it’s THE BEST), a sprinkle of oregano and parsley and some garlic purée.

I always have these ingredients in the house for daily meals anyway, so I didn’t even have to run to the shops. Chances are, if you’re a vegan, you’ll probably have these in your cupboard, and if not you can invest in them and always have garlic dip on hand!

All you do is combine them until it looks like the garlic dip you know and love – it couldn’t be simpler! Plus you can add more or less garlic depending on your taste – it’s almost better than the real thing!

Mango Cake & Lentil Spaghetti – A Weekend Of Vegan Eating

This weekend was totally indulgent for me. Saturdays and Sundays offer me the time to cook more varied foods than I would during the week, as I’m not tired from work and in a hurry. My boyfriend came to visit this weekend so I made an even bigger effort with our meals than I usually would. He isn’t a vegan but he always eats vegan when he’s with me, and as we’re soon to move in together, here’s hoping he’ll finally make the plunge and ditch the dairy 😉

vegan eating

He arrived late on Thursday night and he was starving. I wanted to give him a hot meal rather than just a sandwich or something like that, so I threw on some Linda McCartney sausages and sautéed some garlic, onion and red pepper with a little soy sauce and smoked paprika. I plated up the sausages with some potato wedges and ladled on the cooked veg with a hearty dollop of relish and some cut-up grapes. I got the idea for the grapes when I was up at Grianan of Aileach in Donegal; there was a little caravan café nearby that made me a grape and cranberry toastie which was DIVINE!

On Friday I had a craving for pasta so I decided to put together some spaghetti bolognese. I’ve made this before with Quorn mince (this was about a month into my vegan transition when I hadn’t realised it was vegetarian rather than vegan) but I hadn’t had it since. I knew I had some green lentils and some Tesco brand tomato sauce so I got to work.

vegan mango cake

Usually I would make my own tomato sauce but my brother had used up all of my oregano and that’s a pretty essential ingredient for a pasta sauce, so I went for the jar of ready-made! I fried red onion, garlic cloves and mushrooms and added them to the sauce with the drained lentils, peppers and chopped tomato. It was very filling and super tasty!

On Saturday morning I really wanted to pop and get some soup for lunch, so we went to Wholegreens, my favourite café/restaurant in town! Unfortunately the only soup on offer was broccoli and that didn’t really tickle my taste buds so I opted for a mango coconut cake instead.

vegan eating

I know, not exactly nutritious, but the deliciousness made up for it! My boyfriend had shepherd’s pie with beetroot sauerkraut and wedges. You can’t go wrong with Wholegreens, especially for a hot healthy meal or a tasty dessert.

vegan eating

On Saturday evening we met up with some friends of ours (four of whom are vegan – not including two babies who are being raised vegan) and, to our delight, we realised that a local restaurant had just come out with an official vegan menu. Nowhere else in town has an omni restaurant offering a vegan menu (and this one was LAMINATED so you know it’s here to stay!)

vegan eating

I got a veggie burger with tobacco onions and chunky chips on the side, while two of my other friends got a coconut thai curry with cauliflower rice. Both meals were delicious (I had a sneaky taste of the curry – it was fab!) and we rounded off the evening with some banana splits without the cream. It was so nice being able to sit down and have a proper meal that isn’t a stir fry or a fruit salad.

vegan eating

On Sunday I was feeling generous so I brought my boyfriend breakfast in bed; sliced oranges with tea and soy milk as well as some toast buttered with Pure sunflower spread. I also made us a pineapple, orange and banana smoothie, which was perfect for a

vegan eating

sunny day like today! For lunch we had falafel wraps with crisps on the side and a fruit salad and blackberry yogurt. Delish!

Then for dinner we were feeling lazy so we ordered a pizza from Dominoes (the base and the tomato sauce are both accidentally vegan – just order a veggie pizza without the cheese!) and I made my own garlic dip (the one from Dominoes has milk in it!)

Needless to say, we were beached whales this weekend 😀 It was easy to find yummy food the past few days, and it only gets easier, with so many companies and brands coming out with vegan alternatives and creating options for vegan customers. It’s so great to see!

 

Taste Testing Eat Real’s New Organic Range

I’ve been a big Eat Real fan ever since I first tried their Chilli & Lemon flavour Lentil Chips. I’d never seen crisps made out of lentils before – or anything other than potatoes, really – and once I tried them I was absolutely hooked. After that, I kept an eye out for the brand and spotted other lentil flavours and their hummus crisps as well. All delicious!

A representative of Eat Real recently got in touch with me and sent on information about the new organic range Eat Real just launched. I requested a few samples to try them myself and I was delighted to receive six sample packets; two each of Veggie Straws, Hummus and Lentil crisps. I thought this was really generous seeing as they’re 100g each!

The first one I tried was the veggie straws and I polished off the packet myself during a Netflix binge. Seeing as they’re low in sugar, salt and saturated fat, I’ll let myself off the hook there! All of the crisps were ‘Sea Salt’ flavour, and although they were all super yummy, I think the veggie straws or the lentil ones are my favourite. Probably the lentil ones at a toss up!

Eat Real Organic

The range is gluten free and vegan (a combination that’s quite hard to find even these days!) and made of organic hummus, lentils and vegetables! They contain significantly less fat than traditional crisps (hummus crisps 40% less, lentil and veggie crisps 30%) and are certified by the Soil Association.

It’s hard to believe that the Eat Real brand was only launched 3 years ago! I suppose it’s because I first tried their products when I went vegan and I feel like I’ve been vegan much longer than a year and a bit! What this new range represents is that healthy food with good-for-you ingredients is becoming more readily available. And that’s a great thing!

Veggie Straws

Does anyone remember those salt and vinegar stick crisps? They came in a red packet? I can’t remember the name of them but I used to love that they came in stick form! Not sure why, it’s just a shape, but it heightened my eating experience for some reason!

Eat Real Organic

These Veggie Straws are exactly as they sound – they’re green, orange and yellow so they remind you of eating something healthier – and they’re hollow inside like straws! They’re just the right amount of salted – not so much that it rubs off onto your fingers – but just enough to satisfy that savoury craving.

Rating: 4/5

Lentil Crisps 

On first inspection, these crisps look like a holier version than the popular crisps, Snax. And by holier filled with some bubbly holes – they’re not Catholic crisps! Some of them are curlier than others but they’re just as yummy.

Eat Real Organic

I like imperfectly shaped crisps anyway, and that goes for most foods too, as it gives the impression that they’re not all spat out of some machine into cookie cutter shapes on a conveyor belt. Yack! These are very light on the tummy and super yummy – my favourites!

Rating: 5/5

Hummus Crisps 

These were the last ones that I tried (even though I’d be the first person jumping on the hummus bowl if I was at a party!) These are shaped like slightly curved discs and they’re very thin. If anybody tried to steal them on you I bet you could do some damage with the edges alone!

Eat Real Organic

Again, these are really nice but I think they’re even nicer because they’re the lowest in calorie of the lot – 466 calories for the whole bag! Not bad for a binging night, eh?

Rating: 3.5/5

If you’re a crisp fiend like I am, definitely give them a go, particularly because they’re certified organic, better for you than regular crisps and they’re tasty to boot.

Each bag is about £2.19 which is around €2.50 and they’re available from most health stores.