Six vegan chocolate brands that taste better than dairy ones

Coco Caravan date bar

If you can’t consume dairy products, it’s hard to get a chocolate fix when you need it. Thank goodness for these six artisans of vegan chocolate! Each different in their own way and easy to find, they are supplying the demand for quality, delicious vegan chocolate one bar of rich cocoa at a time. Read on to discover your next best friend.

Divine

Divine Dark Selection

This fair-trade company is owned by chocolate farmers all over the globe, so both you and the farmers get a good deal with every bite. Divine chocolate, available in bars, eggs and cute novelty shapes, is divine by name and divine by nature. A personal favourite is the 70% dark chocolate with raspberries; the cocoa flavour is robust and creamy, while the tartness of the fruit pieces pokes through.

Booja-Booja

Booja Booja Hazelnut crunch truffle

As a vegan, you tend to lose hope of receiving a scrumptious box of choccies on a special occasion. If this sounds familiar, point your friends and family in the direction of Booja-Booja, makers of rich, indulgent vegan truffles. They literally melt in your mouth (I thought this was merely a turn of phrase until I tried these), plus they’re dairy, gluten and soya free with a leaning towards organic ingredients.

Hotel Chocolat

Hotel Chocolat Fruit and Nut frenzy slab

Unlike a lot of chain chocolatiers, Hotel Chocolat have gone to really good lengths to accommodate vegans. The vegan chocolates have much more cocoa and less sugar than their milky counterparts and have won awards for their quality. The fruit and nut frenzy (pictured above) is a heavenly slab of crunchiness, chewiness and sumptuous meltiness.  Yes, it’s so good I made up descriptive words.

Moo Free

Moo Free mini moos

One of the most commonly available vegan chocolate brands (try Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Holland and Barrett), Moo Free makes fun everyday treats that are affordable and satisfy a chocolate craving. They make mini bars, big bars, buttons, advent calendars and eggs. In other words, with their rice milk based goods, they make sure vegans can join in with occasions like everybody else.

Coco Caravan

Coco Caravan

This start-up’s chocolate is so pure it’s almost unbelievable: no additives, no preservatives, no dairy, no gluten, no soy and no refined sweeteners. With just two key ingredients – ethically sourced raw cacao and unrefined raw Coconut Blossom Nectar – Coco Caravan makes and package everything by hand in Cardiff. The bars and sweet treats come in exciting flavours and varieties, making vegan chocolate fun.

Montezuma’s

Montezuma truffle grand collection

Family owned British company Montezuma’s pushes the mould when it comes to vegan chocolate. They specialise in making perfect matches between different spices, herbs, essential oils and cocoa strengths. It’s not just bars here – they have moreish truffles, chocolate engulfed fruits and luxury drinking chocolate, all of which are an absolute joy worth savouring.

Know any other vegan chocolate companies? Share your favourites below or tweet us @Creative_Hacks and we’ll spread the word (and have a nibble).

Amy sig

How to make spicy root vegetable and lentil one-pot


January can be a bit of a miserable month. When it’s wet and windy outside and Christmas is just a memory, sometimes all you want after work is a warm home and some delicious food to cosy up with.

This is the perfect recipe for those nights – a warming one-pot casserole (or stew, depending on how runny you like it) with loads of spicy flavour and wholesome seasonal veg. The lentils bulk it out, add moreish taste and hearty texture. Matt loves his with a dollop of plain yoghurt sprinkled with paprika, but tomato ketchup or balsamic vinegar would also go well with this dish. One thing is a must – a good chunk of wholemeal bread for dipping and mopping up every last bit.

Ingredients

(makes four servings)
4 carrots
4 parsnips
1 swede
1 large brown onion
100g dried red lentils, rinsed
1 vegetable stock cube
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp dark soy sauce
3 bay leaves
3 tsp dried mixed herbs
3 tsp curry powder
Ground black pepper and salt
Plain flour

Method

choppedveg1. Peel and roughly chop all of the vegetables.

2. In a large saucepan or casserole pot, lightly fry the onion on a medium heat for four minutes or until brown. Toss in the chopped vegetables and garlic, stirring every 30 seconds to stop them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Keep this up for about four minutes.

3. While the vegetables are cooking, dissolve the stock cube in a pint jug of boiled water. Add the tomato puree, soy sauce, bay leaves, mixed herbs, curry powder, salt and pepper to the stock and stir.

4. Pour the stock mixture and lentils into the saucepan and stir to combine. Bring the stew to a boil then turn it down to a low to medium heat. Allow it to simmer for around 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

cooking5. After simmering, the vegetables and lentils will be soft and full of stocky flavour. If you want to make the consistency thicker, sieve a tablespoon of plain flour into the saucepan, stir and continue to simmer for three minutes. If it’s still not as thick as you’d like, just repeat this step. To thin down the stew, add a small amount of boiled water and allow to cook for three minutes. Serve in big bowls with warm bread for dipping. Don’t forget to fish out the bay leaves (they’re not edible!).

We hope you enjoy this winter warmer as much as we do, especially if you’re embarking on the Veganuary challenge! Let us know if you have any suggestions for other delicious wintery recipes – we’d love to try them out and share them here on the blog.

Amy sig

23 reasons to get excited about autumn

Today’s the first day of autumn. With summer leaving us for another year, we can begin indulging in all those cosy, comforting things that arrive with the new season.

For me, this time of year summons up nostalgic memories of hunting for conkers, warming up with wholesome foods and enjoying the feel of cold, crisp air through layers of woolen clothing. Here are a few things that you can look forward to this autumn.

1. Kicking up crunchy leaves in the park

leavesThere’s something about the crackle of dry leaves that brings out the inner child in all of us.

2. Mornings cold enough to wear your favourite coat

…but not so cold that you shiver all the way to work.

3. Picking blackberries

blackberriesThe perfect fruit for making moreish crumbles and juicy jams.

4. Trees changing colour

autumnleavesBefore they strip off for winter, we get to watch branches explode with reds, oranges and yellows.

5. Snuggling under a blanket when it’s raining outside

blanketWith the air that much cooler, you can really enjoy the warmth of a duvet as you binge watch Game of Thrones.

6. Spotting silvery spider webs on the hedgerows

spiderAdmittedly not the best pastime for arachnophobes, but you’ve got to admit that our eight-legged friends make some impressive patterns.

7. All the best bands visiting your city

laceyFor some reason, musicians love touring in September and October. Make the most of it by going to lots of gigs!

8. Finding the shiniest conker

conkerIs there anything more satisfying than cracking open a spiny horse chestnut to find a silky smooth conker inside?

9. Carving pumpkins

pumpkinsOne of the most underrated art forms, I reckon.

10. Dressing up like a hideous zombie

zombieForget skimpy outfits and cat whiskers: to really make the most of Halloween, you must repulse your peers with a terrifying costume.

11. Discount sweets and chocolate after Halloween

candyOnce the ghouls have settled for another year, hit the shops and pick up sweet treats for dirt cheap.

12. Buying sticky toffee apples from a local fair

toffeeapplesIf you don’t have sugary syrup all over your face, you’re not eating it right.

13. Oscar contending films getting released at the cinema

gravityGravity was one of our favourites last year. We can’t wait to see what this year’s batch brings.

14. Wearing ALL THE KNITWEAR

knitChunky cable jumpers, bobble hats, scarves and gloves are the closest you can get to dressing yourself in a giant hug.

15. Walking to a cosy pub in the countryside

pubIdeally one that serves real ales and home-style comfort food to feast upon in front of a roaring log fire.

16. Feeling your entire body warm up from a spoonful of soup

soupThis has to be the easiest (and yummiest) way to turn on your bodily central heating.

17. Considering it socially acceptable to spend an entire weekend indoors

indoorWhen the weather’s yuck, dusting off an old jigsaw puzzle or watching a classic film is a commendable use of your time.

18. The smell of bonfires

bonfireCatching the smoky whiff of burning timber is one of life’s awesome little things.

19. Toasting marshmallows

marshmallowSandwich them between chocolate biscuits for the ultimate November snack.

20. Watching fireworks

fireworksExcept don’t buy them, because they’re way too pricey – public displays are much cheaper to attend and usually far more impressive.

21. REALLY enjoying a mug of tea, coffee or hot chocolate

mugHot drinks in the summer months aren’t quite the same… you need a brisk, blustery walk to remember what these miracle beverages were made for.

22. Movember

dogstacheEven if you’re not a fan of the ‘stache, half the male population turning into hipsters is an amusing annual occurence.

23. Meeting new people

friendsWith so many people starting new schools, university courses and jobs, it’s a great time of year to get out there and make some buddies. If you need some ideas for things to do with your new pals, just scroll through this list again!

What are your favourite autumnal activities? We’d love to find out – perhaps we’ll even try them and blog about them in the next few months. Drop us a comment or tweet us @Creative_Hacks.

Matt

Image credits in order: 1. Photo via bonnielegginsplastic 2. Own photo 3. Photo by Jared Smith 4. Photo by Walter Linn 5. Photo by Daviddje 6. Photo by pfly 7. Photo by Brennan Schell 8. Photo by James Bowe 9. Photo by Dov Harrington 10. Own photo 11. Photo by Luke Jones 12. Photo by Ken Banks 13. Film still from Gravity (2013, Warner Bros. Pictures) 14. Own photo 15. Photo via BerkshireFirewoodLogs.co.uk 16. Own photo 17. Photo by Electric-Eye 18. Photo by Abi Skipp 19. Photo by Jamie McCaffrey 20. Photo by EpicFireworks 21. Photo by Michel Bernier 22. Photo by ginnerobot 23. Own photo