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Recipe – Sweet and sour TVP

Heads up. This feels to me like a bit of a cheat because I used a pre-made sauce. But it is lockdown. And it is time to use what is in the cupboard. So with those caveats in place here’s what I made.

So I assembled an onion, a handful of mushrooms, some glorious rhubarb chard, a jar of TVP chunks and a packet of sweet and sour sauce.

But before we get a pan on the go let’s wind back to the morning when I began to prep the TVP.

Making TVP taste better – part 1

Previously I’ve always soaked TVP in a bowl. And returned to stir it on a regular basis. But recently I’ve been experimenting with adding it to a jar.

Key things about this:

You can shake the jar up like you would a cocktail shaker to ensure each cube gets a marinade coating.

Or you can put the jar on its side and roll it for a similar effect.

I used some bacon style seasoning because it was what I had and I thought it would go well with the sweet and sour sauce. Previously I’ve experimented with blends of Marmite, stock cubes and various seasoning in powder form.

Make sure you leave enough space for the TVP to expand. The photo of the jar above was taken a few minutes after adding liquid and doing my first shake. If you then look at the first photo in this post you’ll see that it has almost filled the jar.

Making TVP taste better – part 2

It’s time to start cooking! So grab a pan and empty the entire contents of the jar in.

Yes that right chuck it all into the pan. You don’t need to add any extra oil or liquid at this stage. What you’re trying to do is dry out the TVP while retaining all the flavour.

Cook it until it starts to get a little bit brown. I often add splashes of water to stop it sticking at this point. And that’s a splash of water – not a torrent!

Feel free to try a cube at this point so you can find out how tasty they are!

Back to the recipe…

From here on it’s all straight forward.

Add the onions…

Then chuck in the mushrooms. Add splashes of water as needed. Put the chard on top of the pan for a few minutes until it wilts then stir it in.

Then just stir through the sauce and you’re good to go.

Things to note at this point:

You can use splashes of stock or other liquid to keep things from sticking. I never seem to have stock lying around so it’s water. Or the dregs of salad dressing left in the blender jug blitzed up with a cup or 2 of water.

The pre-made sweet and sour had a pleasing ginger note so I’ll be looking to add this to my homemade one in future.

Time to eat.

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Review – Katjes Chocjes

After seeing the awesome advert for Katjes Chocjes I just knew that I had to try this vegan chocolate with an oat mylk base.

Bet you want to try it now as well!

The packaging

Katjes comes in a pretty pink paper wrapper with foil inside. It looks good and it’s it can be recycled. However, the colour has caused a bit of confusion among customers who I’ve shown the bars. Pink evokes thoughts of strawberry or raspberry flavouring. And that’s exactly what they expected.

The product

Hazelnut based chocolates are big in the vegan market. This is not hazelnut based and has a different texture and feel to it. Bars like Vego and Pernigotti tend towards softness. Katjes Chocjes is a much drier bar. The oats give a hint of creaminess to the taste. However, this is not a bar that can be described as ‘melt in the mouth’. It’s rather refreshing (not a word usually associated with chocolate) to try a different style of chocolate. If you prefer your bars less sweet this might just be the one for you.

Good to know

Katjes Chocjes is soy free.

Try it for yourself by ordering from the Vool online shop. Katjes Chocjes is £3 a bar.

Vool Verdict

A different type of chocolate bar with recyclable wrapping a hint of creamy oats. Just remember that pink doesn’t mean berries!

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Review – Rizo by Jeavons

Jeavons Rizo - the vegan toffee crisp - from

Rizo was recommended to me as the vegan answer to Toffee Crisp cravings. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve eaten one. But I have vague recollections of an ad campaign with a bar the seemed to spontaneously contract in the middle while making a crunch sound. So with this image in my head, I sat down to put it to the test. Naturally, the boyfriend assisted me in my work.

Jeavons Rizo - the vegan toffee crisp - from

The wrapper

It’s a fairly standard wrapper for Jeavons. Clear plastic with a sticker. It is good to be able to see the product. I stock any number of items that have beautiful wrappers but no indication of what the product inside looks like. Rizo looks chocolatey!

Jeavons Rizo - the vegan toffee crisp - from

The product

The boyfriend and I spilt a bar so we could compare reactions (and because he really wanted to try it).

Him: So it’s rice crispies, toffee and chocolate

Me: That right.

Him: not caramel?

The test is paused for several minutes while I explain the difference between soft toffee and hard toffee. Plus the differences in naming conventions in the UK and the US.

Him: I’m going in. (takes a bite)

Me: I mainly remember it being crispy. (takes a bite)

Him: That’s good. It’s got a nice crunch.

Me: It’s got a great toffee flavour. I don’t remember there being much toffee taste in a Toffee Crisp.

Him: Lovely sweet chocolate.

Me: Ooh the crisp is spot on and the toffee is just chewy enough. Mmm vanilla.

Him: I like it.

Good to know

Free from gluten and nuts and made in England.

You can pick up a Rizo bar from Vool for just £2.60. Order online or visit a Vool pop-up (and hope we’ve got some left).

Vool Verdict

A spot-on blend of soft toffee and crunch with a sweet coating. Satisfying for vegan sweet tooths.

Jeavons Rizo - the vegan toffee crisp - from
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Review – Mallow Out

Vegan Mallow Out bar from,uk

We’ve tried out chocolate-coated mallow before. Remember those glorious mallow puffs with their Belguim chocolate coating? But this time it’s different. It’s in a bar.

Vegan Mallow Out bar from

The packing

It’s a pretty, eye-catching pink wrapper featuring the signature sloth from the Freedom brand. It’s not generally recyclable. Possibly it would fall under the Terracycle scheme?

Vegan Mallow Out bar from

The product

Once again I had assistance in trying out a product. Guess I can’t keep all the good stuff to myself.

Him: I can hear the wrapper being opened!

Me: Yes just cutting you a piece.

Him: What is it? Oh, it’s pink.

Me: It’s chocolate-coated mallow.

Him: Mmmm. That’s good. It reminds me of something.

Me: We’ve had chocolate coated mallows before. (takes a bite) That’s nice.

Him: No those coated things.

Me: (somehow knowing just what he meant) Teacakes?

Him: Yes!

Me: Or those biscuits topped with mallow and coconut.

Him: The ones with biscuits and jam.

Me: Teacakes. But they do remind me of the pink biscuit things.

Vegan Mallow Out bar from

Good to know

Mallow Out bars are gluten, nut and soy free.

Buy yourself a Mallow Out bar from Vool for £2.

Vool Verdict

A tasty vegan treat with a hint of teacake.

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Review – Smootch by Jeavons

Smootch by Jeavons - the vegan rolo -

One of the items I’m regularly asked about a vegan alternative to is Rolos. Well it would seem I now have an answer. Hello Smootch! Delighted to make your acquaintance. Do make yourself comfortable.

And is Smootch up to the job?

The packaging

Smooch are wrapped in a light card tube and clear plastic sleeve. There are 7 Smootchs in each packet

The product

I recruited help to test these (eg it would have been cruel to leave the boyfriend out). It’s been a while since either of us us ate a rolo. Our conversation went like this:

Him: Are we splitting a packet?

Me: Yes.

Him: How many are we getting?

Me: 3? No 3 and a half each. There was one left in the packet.

Him: They look bigger than Rolos.

Me: they do. Did Rolos have toffee in them?

Him: Yes. Can I start eating?

Me: Wasn’t it more like a caramel?

Him (chewing): Mmm they’re just like Rolos.

Me: Oh my mmmm this is just how Rolos were.

Him: Mmm only bigger.

Me: mmm Rolos definitely had toffee.

Him: Are there any more?

Good to know

Smooch are gluten free and made in the UK

Pick up a packet from Vool for £3 either at a pop-up or online.

Vool verdict

Possibly even better than Rolos. Do not be fooled into sharing a packet. Get one each.

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Review – Rabble by Jeavons

Jeavons' Rabble - vegan toffee and peanuts coated in chocolate - - Vool Vegan Cool

Customers kept asking me about products from Jeavons. When was I going to start stocking them? They did look tasty. Then Jeavons began selling to other businesses. I was delighted. My customers would be happy. And in the near future, I would have try all of their products in the interests of research and quality control.

Jeavons also turned out to be absolutely delightful to work with!

Anyway, this review looks at the Rabble bar. Jeavons suggests that this peanut, toffee and chocolate combo will appeal to Snickers lovers. No shortage of those!

Jeavons' Rabble - vegan toffee and peanuts in chocolate - - Vool Vegan Cool

The packaging

The two fingers of the bar are packed in a simple clear plastic sleeve with the brown Rabble label attached. It’s simple and allows the product to be viewed. It’s not recyclable. I’m aware of the challenge that all companies face around packing that is sustainable and affordable. And it needs to protect the product and look attractive.

Jeavons' Rabble - vegan toffee and peanuts coated in chocolate - - Vool Vegan Cool

The product

Inside the wrapper are the 2 fingers of the bar. Jeavons started out making toffee so I have high hopes for this bar!

It’s good. The toffee is chewy and creamy. It works well against the chunks of peanut and the chocolate. While Snickers tend towards caramel this is definitely toffee. It makes for a more satisfying eating experience. I’d cut one of my fingers in half. I chewed away for a satisfying few minutes. And I still had the other half of the finger to enjoy.

Toffee slows things down. Who would have guessed that vegan toffee might be the answer to taking life a less rushed pace!

Good to Know

Rabble is gluten-free.

Rabble is available from Vool priced at £2.75. Buy at a Vool pop-up or order from the online shop.

Vool Verdict

Consider Rabble for toffee/chocolate/peanut cravings and set aside time to chew through the soft toffee.

Jeavons' Rabble - vegan toffee and peanuts coated in chocolate - - Vool Vegan Cool
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Review – Ciocofrutta Chocolate Coated Cherries

Vegan chocolate coated cherries from - Vool Vegan Cool

Chocolate coated fruit. It brings to mind dried raisins (probably coated in carob). Italian Ciocofrutta with their bright packing and higher price point suggest a different experience…

Vegan chocolate coated cherries from - Vool Vegan Cool

The packing

The packaging shows luscious looking cherries being coated with dripping chocolate.

The packet has a recycling number of 7. This means it’s unlikely to be suitable for curbside collection. But it may be ok for the Terracycle scheme.

Vegan chocolate coated cherries from - Vool Vegan Cool

The product

The bag contains a weight of 50 grams. This equates to around 8 cherries. So think of this like a bar of chocolate with 8 squares. The smell is delicious!

The taste and texture are awesome! These are really juicy! And the sour flavour referred to on the packet isn’t much in evidence. The chocolate coating is smooth and not bitter. Each bite needs to be savoured. This is not a case where you can just empty the bag down your throat. Indeed, each bite should be savoured. These would be great to serve with coffee after dinner.

Vegan chocolate coated cherries from - Vool Vegan Cool

Good to know

Cherries in chocolate do not contain gluten or nuts.

You can buy cherries in chocolate in the Vool online shop for £2.

Vool Verdict

A classy treat that will make you rethink chocolate-coated fruit.

Vegan chocolate coated cherries from - Vool Vegan Cool
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Review – Golden Crunch, the vegan crunchie

Golden Crunch bar, the vegan alternative to Crunchie from

It’s December so time for all things glittery. Hence a review of the vegan Golden Crunch bar seems pretty appropriate. Developed by Vegan Store, this honeycomb based bar is intended to be the answer for Crunchie bar cravings.

Golden Crunch bar, the vegan alternative to Crunchie from

The Packaging

Look at this striking gold wrapper. You just know that something amazing is inside! It’s clearly labelled as vegan and plant-based.

However, the wrapper is made from a shiny plastic so probably not recyclable through local collections. However, it could go in an ecobrick – and it looks like it would be accepted by the Terracycle scheme.

Golden Crunch bar, the vegan alternative to Crunchie from

The Product

Golden Crunch looks a bit like a Crunchie but it bigger and not as smooth looking. It weighs in at 49g which is considerably bigger than a standard Crunchie at 32g.

The dark chocolate coating is an obvious difference from the Crunchie. And how does that work out? Time to take a bite.

First, I’d forgotten how hard you have to bite to get your teeth into this type of bar. And how great it feels when your teeth break the surface and splinters of honeycomb dazzle your taste buds. Secondly, the chocolate to honeycomb ratio is absolutely spot on. That it’s dark chocolate rather than a vegan version of milk chocolate matters not a bit. It’s about how the cocoa flavour tastes against the honeycomb.

This is a glorious bar to eat. Each mouthful is filled with great flavour and texture. Also, some customers have mentioned not being able to finish the bar in one go – which is probably a good thing!

Good to Know

Made in the UK, Golden Crunch bars are gluten and nut-free.

You can buy Golden Crunch bars from the Vool Online Shop for £2.

The Vool Verdict

Buy it! Delight in it! Set aside a time to indulge in this worthy successor to a Crunchie bar. Savour the texture, and chocolate to honeycomb ratio.

Golden Crunch bar, the vegan alternative to Crunchie from
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Where to find Vool in December

where to find Vool - the vegan pop-up shop in December 2019 -
where to find Vool - the vegan pop-up shop in December 2019 -

Vool has a packed December coming up. The travelling shop will be popping up in different locations every weekend giving you loads of opportunities to stock up on vegan goodies.

If you are also expecting December to be a busy month then why not order from the ? We can post goodies out to you, or you can pay online and collect from a pop-up event.

The end of November and start of December sees Vool appear 3 times in the town centre. We’re so busy that Saturday 30 November is our last Saturday on Colchester Market until 21 December!

But Vool will be at the Friday market on the High Street every week. You’ll also be able to find us in Colchester on 14 December at the Essex Vegan Festival, and at Caffe Sala on 1 December as part of the South Lanes Christmas Market. And as usual, the Shop-in-a-Suitcase will appear at Colchester Vegan Drinks.

Otherwise, our vegan goodies will be finding their way to Southend, and Norwich – and it’ll be Christmas before you know it! Keep up to date with where to find Vool on our website and on Facebook.

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Review – Schnouggi

Schnouggi vegan hazelnut praline from voo; - Vool Vegan Cool

Meet Schnouggi. Schnouggi is a chunk of hazel praline and is soooo cute. But at 28g isn’t Schnouggi a teeny bit on the small side? Or does he punch above his weight?

Schnouggi hazelnut praline from - Vool Vegan Cool

The packing

Schnouggi is served in a little tray with a clear plastic sleeve and a paper sticker. Given that Schnouggi isn’t that exciting to look at – it’s brown and smooth – a less opaque wrapping would be fine. Or may that’s the point?

Schnouggi vegan hazelnut praline from voo; - Vool Vegan Cool

The product

As previously mentioned Schnouggi is small, smooth and brown. It looks like a naked Miky Way or an escapee block of Vego bar that rejected being filled with nuts.

Happily, it makes up for all this in taste and flavour. The tantalising aroma as the packet is opened was amazing. I couldn’t decide whether to instantly gobble the whole thing or just sit there sniffing the wrapper for the next our.

As far as the taste and texture go it’s rich smooth praline but without out any of the chocolate nonsense that normally coats it. It slips down the throat far too easily. While it’s tempting to take large bites a thin slice delivers the same flavour experience!

Good to know

Schnoggi is free from gluten and soy.

You can buy Schnouggi from the Vool online shop for £2

Schnouggi vegan hazelnut praline from - Vool Vegan Cool

Vool Verdict

Schnouggi is small but powerful. Ideal for serving in small slices and savouring.