Veganuary 2018 Top Picks by Forkward Thinking Foodinista

Veganuary 2018 Top Picks by Forkward Thinking Foodinista

Veganism is a hot trend for 2018 and increasingly becoming a lifestyle choice for many.  So much so that the official “Veganuary” charity has been set up to inspire people to try vegan not just in January, but throughout the rest of the year too.

With more vegan product choices than ever before, a growing awareness and concern for Animal welfare, eating with a conscious is easy, enjoyable and exciting, as vegan foods need not be dull and lacklustre.  Excitingly, the following featured twelve brands offer a range of vegan friendly products that are convenient, healthy and vamp up your Vegan menus.

Clearspring have impressively achieved 18 food awards since 2010.  An ethical brand that supports sustainable organic farming which benefits local communities.  Pack out your cupboard with their range of Vegan Organic goodies including; rice cakes, crackers, rye crispbread, snack packs, brown rice flour, brown rice pasta, Pasta sauces, beans, protein powders, apple cider vinegar and omega oil.

The brilliant BFree foods brand have produced products, that are allergen free, meaning that there is no gluten, dairy, wheat, nuts, egg or soy and they are suitable for vegans.  Low in fat and high in fibre means that they are nutritionally sound – amazing! Why not bring on the bread with their yummy mini pitta pockets, pizza bases, sliced bread and their chia seed wraps.

Gosh Free From are all about goodness, impressively, their products are naturally free from the UK’s 14 top listed allergens; cereals containing gluten, eggs, milk, soya, nuts, peanuts, celery, mustard, sesame seeds, lupin, sulphur dioxide, crustaceans, fish & molluscs.  Their range includes the scrummy Sweetcorn & Quinoa Bites, Chickpea, Courgette & Moroccan spiced bakes, Beetroot, Kale & Quinoa burgers, Mushroom, Puy Lentil & Butter Bean burgers, Mixed seed, quinoa, carrot & coriander bakes, Butternut Tomato and Basil sausages and the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Sausages.

Violife based in Thessalonica in Greece have brought gorgeousness to Vegan plates with their range of cheese products minus the cheese that are free from lactose, gluten, nuts, soy, preservatives, cholesterol and GMO.  Get cheesy Violife style with their extensive range of all Vegan products including; on with some fab Blu, Mediterranean style block, after dinner cranberry, creamy spread, original and mozzarella grated, prosociano wedge, mozzarella & cheddar and a range of their fab sandwich slices which come in original, smocked, mature and or course mouth-watering mozzarella.

The Eat Real healthy snack brand has three core product concepts; Taste, Nutrition and Real Ingredients.  No artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives these are seriously super snacks without the added naughty nasties.  Vegans can enjoy a wonderful range of snacks including; Hummus, Lentil or Quinoa chips.  Also, Quinoa and Kale Puffs and organic humous chips, lentil chips and veggie straws.  Ideal for snacking on the go or sofa snacking for a movie night in.

Alara’s brand ethos is dedicated to quality, sustainability and giving back to the community.  All their products are made in Zero Waste factory a stone throw away from Kings Cross, London.  Sourcing local ingredients and where possible supporting organic farmers in the UK. Why not try some of their Vegan organic branberry or delicious dreamy oats chocolate porridge or why not go all out with their lovely luxury muesli and porridge range.

Oatly operates from Sweden founded in the 1990s the brand is based on Swedish research from Lund University.  Oatly, have patented enzyme technology, which turns fibre rich oats into nutritionally rich liquid products.  Oatly’s core ethos is about both human well-being and protecting the planet’s resources.  Oatly products are not made from cow’s milk, but a quality substitute made from oats.  The brilliant barista edition oat drink really is worth a whirl and paired well with both tea and coffee, enhancing the flavour naturally, taking the taste factor up to the next level.

Wild Trail is on a mission to make snacks that give people the motivation and a boost to get outdoors and enjoy what the wilderness has to offer.  These brilliant bars produced in a factory in Wales where natures natural offerings are right there on their doorstep.  Just 5 simple ingredients are used to make these yummy bars that are gluten free, dairy free, no added sugar, high in fibre and are suitable for Vegans.  Ideal to grab and go, so get yours now.

Pulsin are an ethical organisation that are passionate about sustainability and use 100% renewable energy.  Furthermore, a core company goal being to “Contribute to a happy, healthy world filled with happy, healthy people” – Hands up in the air and Pump up the Pulsin Power!  Official sponsors of Veganuary, they have launched a super sensational starter vegan pack which includes their bars of brilliance, that are free from all of those naughty nasties, such as raw brownie’s, porridge oat’s and beyond organic fruit and nut bars along with some Pulsin Pea Protein powder and a booklet with exciting recipe ideas.

Vita Coco are a successful global brand with celebrity followings such as Madonna, Matthew McConaughey, and Rihanna! Respecting mother nature by resourcefully using every part of the coconut, that is used to make their products, and are an ethical brand that have committed to giving back to the communities that help to produce these Coconutty concoctions. Vita coco are taking the world by storm with their dairy free coconut milk alternative to dairy milk and it really ‘tastes like no udder’.

Calling all you modern hippies, now is your chance to unite – power to the peas people – Peace.  The Hippeas brand have created these perfect puff pea snacks which are seriously good for you, organic, high in fibre, a source of protein, gluten free, vegan and no additives or preservatives.  Environmentally friendly, these peas do their share, as they naturally release nitrogen back into the earth as they grow, Man that is cool stuff!  The Hippeas brand also show community spirit and spread the love with the ‘Peas, love and giving back’ scheme that supports the charity – Farm Africa, who work with farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa to help them become self-sufficient, allowing them to grow their way out of poverty.

Hayley, founder of Urban Fruit, started out as a personal trainer and identified peoples struggle to avoid unhealthy snacking during a busy working day.  No refined sugars, concentrates or sulphates these super fruity snacks are Hayley’s healthy alternative to the caloric sugar fuelled snack market. Their range include yummy raspberry, strawberry, cherry, mango and pineapple fruits snacks, as well as the “your drive me nuts” plain and chilli flavoured coconut curls.

Thank you for reading and Happy Veganuary 2018 😊

Melanie xx




Veganuary 2018 with Mia Tui Vegan Accessories

Veganuary 2018 with Mia Tui Vegan Accessories: January 2018

Veganism is a hot trend for 2018 and increasingly becoming a lifestyle choice for many.  So much so that the official “Veganuary” charity has been set up to inspire people to try vegan not just in January, but throughout the rest of the year too.  Why just change your diet, you could look at also introducing ethical Vegan friendly accessories into your life.

Founded by, business women and busy mum, Charlotte in 2010, while living in Vietnam, the award-winning Mia Tui bags are still produced in Vietnam in her friend Van’s factory where team work is a core value and together they aim to provide quality products at affordable process and deliver exceptional customer service.  Their bag range are vegan friendly, as they do not use any animal based products which gets big thumbs up from me.

The Jane stylish shoulder bag is the perfect size not too big and not too small.  Ideal to fit the essentials such as makeup bag, purse, diary, phone.  Inside is an insulated bottle holder, a clip for your keys and slots for both your pen and phone.   Also included is an extra nifty small clutch bag and a detachable long strap.

No need to be stressed and get in a flap with Mia Tui’s fantastic fold up bag range.  The lovely Alex fold up bag, with a floral and butterfly pattern, is made from a lightweight waterproof polyester fabric which is robust and can easily be transported when not in use thanks to the clever design that allows the bag to fold up into the front zip pocket.  There is also a lovely matching butterfly flower purse which has slots for cards, and a zip locked pocket for your change.

Thank you for reading and Happy Veganuary 2018 😊

Melanie xx


Losehill House Hotel & Spa Review

Losehill House Hotel & Spa Review: January 2018

The privately owned Losehill House hotel & Spa is located in an enviable postcode in the heart of Derbyshire’s Peak District.  Perched in an idyllic countryside spot, offering breathtakingly amazing views, the Losehill House Hotel is ideal for a walk to Mam Tor or why not be adventurous like we did and go caving in Speedwell Cavern, but don’t forget your hard hats.  What about Chatsworth house, the lovely villages of Castleton and Hope or the caves of Blue John.  The choice is endless and all conveniently on your doorstep.

First impressions count, and you will not be disappointed. The entrance is impressive with a traditional stone arch way, an enormous wonderful wooden door with an equally large glass panelled window which allows in masses of light and gives an airy yet cosy feel.

The house has that intimate home away from home feel with a clever mix of traditional and contemporary fixtures and fittings, where any renovations, that have been carried out, have clearly been sympathetic to retain the charm and character of the original building.

Our divine deluxe room had the most incredible view, through the lovely country cottage windows we could see trees, hills and greenery for miles.  The cosy and comfortable bed, with a picture of the Losehill house Hotel proudly in place above the bed, alongside a plush two-seater sofa, makes for a cosy stay.

The room was a mix of calm creams with lilac detailing and a lovely wood beam feature which did not affect the storage space, as there was also a huge solid wooden wardrobe. The well-appointed tea tray included the most scrummy biscuits, to enjoy while you chill out and watch the day’s news or perhaps pull a chair up to the dresser and writing desk to write about some your exciting Peak District adventures on the lovely embossed Losehill House Hotel branded paper.

The beautiful bathroom had a standalone bath with an overhead shower, mirrors a plenty, a heated towel rail and an expansive sink/vanity area with plenty of room to store all your cosmetics and essentials or why not try the lovely Cole & Lewis toiletries provided for your convenience.

The facilities were exceptional, including the sensational spa, which includes a hot tub on a terraced area.  I enjoyed chilling in the hot tub while looking out on to the fabulous Peak District Views.  Simply sit back, relax and unwind.

There is also a sauna, steam room and a swimming pool, which has lazy loungers and a full wicker seating area, if you fancy sitting back and having a read of the day’s news before or after your swim.

Now, let’s forget about the daily stress and hectic pace of life and make room for a little you time, to enjoy some spa treatments.  My therapist the lovely Laura greeted me in the waiting area and took me to the relaxing treatment room.  The Thalgo face and body discovery included a stress reliving back, neck and shoulder massage which used a blend of Thalgo’s Aromaceane massage oils.  Following this, I enjoyed a tailor made facial and a scalp massage.  Laura’s treatments were so relaxing, I nodded off twice to which she heard some rather strange snores, but this was a testament to how relaxed Laura made me feel and that is no easy task – exceptional!

Dinner at the Orangery Restaurant, where they use locally sourced ingredients, is listed as one of The Times’ ’20 best wild places to eat in Britain’.  Joshua Rooney-Hilton head chef made sure that dinner was a grand affair, beginning with the serving of pre-dinner canapes in the lounge.  The vegetarian options included amazing goats cheese bom boms and artichoke crisps with cheese, raisins and onion.

We were led to our table, which set a romantic scene, including clean crisp white linen, plush bespoke upholstered chairs and a window where you could look up and clearly see the stars and the moon together while enjoying pre-dinner freshly baked breads.

Sensational starters included the Blue cheese mousse in Henderson’s relish jelly on sour dough toast with onion ash and the Goats’s cheese and chive parfait with orange gel, beetroot and toasted seeds.  This was heaven on a plate.  Both worked well, and the colour palate represented Winters changing season.

The mains included, beautiful Butternut squash gnocchi with pesto, grilled young leeks and madeira shallots and the divine Red Onion Tart with kale, heritage carrots, leeks and cavolo nero were like a winter warmer hug on a plate – just what you need to satisfy your hunger, when there is still a chill in the air, comfort food served with style and substance.

Delicious desserts included the Dark chocolate and pistachio ganache with honey comb, honey and yogurt ice cream and the Milk chocolate namelaka and almond streusel with raspberry sorbet and raspberry gel, both disappeared off our plates within minutes.  The finale included coffee with the daintiest, pretty and lip-smackingly perfect petit fois.

Any chef that can create such beautiful tasting food with perfect presentations all with vegetarian ingredients is worth their weight in gold!  Chefs, you did a grand job!  I must not forget the service team who looked after us throughout, Alice and her colleagues were outstanding.

The Lounge was available for pre-or post dinner drinks, with pictures of the Losehill house proudly adorning the walls along with a mix of bespoke furnishings which tastefully and perfectly complimented each other, which was ideal to simply relax, read a book, engage in conversation, or perhaps why not try your hand at some after dinner board games.

As our visit was just after new year, the place was still all decked out in the most gorgeous Christmas decorations including this towering tree and some rather regal looking Rudolph’s decorated with royal red bows.

    A leisurely, lazy breakfast with a Derbyshire view, was the order of the day, so room service it was.  Our breakfast order was whisked up to our room spot on time along with a newspaper, so we could catch up on the world’s happenings since we had been tucked away in this delightful little hideaway.

The amazingly delicious Derbyshire home cooked breakfast, with a rack of toast and the continental offerings included pastries, fresh fruit and the yummiest bowl of melon, yogurt and berry compote.  All washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice and tea.

Paul & Kathryn the owners of Losehill House Hotel and Spa have done an amazing job and along with their team deliver a truly exceptional Derbyshire experience in which you can enjoy and celebrate the true charm, character and beauty of the Peak Disrtict National Park.

Thank you for reading 😊

Melanie xx


Losehill House Hotel & Spa, Losehill Lane, Edale Road, S33 6AF.

01433 621219

Bredbury Hall Hotel and Country Club Review

Bredbury Hall Hotel and Country Club Review: January 2018

Bredbury Hall and Country Club is situated within, the Goyt Valley local nature reserve, an area of natural beauty located in Stockport Cheshire.

With stunning views overlooking the countryside along with a wonderful water foundation feature, this really is the place for a break away.

The inviting entrance has an eclectic quirky feel with a traditional red phone box, street lamp lights and stain glass windows.

It was time to check in for our twixmas mid-week break, so we stepped into the contemporary reception area, that was all kitted out with a lovely decorated Christmas Tree, where we received a wonderfully warm welcome.

The hotel has 148 bedrooms and our newly refurbished en-suite room was contemporary, cosy and comfortable.  Featuring two beds with snug duvets, with a selection of plush pillows, a relaxing chair, a vanity desk, 2 large mirrors and a large flat screen television and a well-appointed tea tray, all tastefully done in a mix of red and grey colours.

The bathroom fully kitted out in marble tiles with a hot towel rail complete with soft fluffy towels, deep sunk bath, overhead shower and sink area.

The super sparkling Afternoon Tea included a range of freshly made sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and a selection of yummy pastries and cakes, served with tea or coffee and came along with two glasses of the fizzy stuff to make for a sweet afternoon.

Dinner, served in the relaxed and informal Brasserie, was a real delight at Bredbury.  We opted for the Indian Menu, which is created by an experienced culinary team from Bangladesh.  Amazing, authentic dishes included nibbles of Poppadum’s with a range of chutneys, starters of Vegetarian samosas and onion bhajis, mains included Chicken korma, chickpea dhal, a beautiful vegetarian pepper curry, egg fried rice, fluffy rice and nann bread.  As if that wasn’t enough we squeezed in two deserts which included the traditional Gulab Jamun sweet balls and the yummy chocolate brownie.

Breakfast was a relaxed affair with a wide range of offerings including fresh juices, tea and coffee, continental choices such as fruits, cereals, yogurt, pastries, bagels and hot choices of full English, poached eggs and many more.

Overall, we had a delightful stay, the food was fabulous, the room was well appointed, and we found the staff to be genuine, warm and professional.

Thank you for reading 😊

Melanie xx


Bedbury Hall Hotel, Osborne Street, Bredbury, Stockport, Cheshire, SK6 2DH.

0161 430 7421

Leon Restaurants Manchester Piccadilly Review

Leon Restaurants Manchester Piccadilly Review: January 2018

The three musketeers, Henry Dimbleby, John Vincent and chef Allegra McEvedy, aka the founders of Leon Restaurants, have combined their wealth of knowledge and skills to take the world by storm with their fab fresh fast food philosophy and started their own foodie revolution.

In 2008 Allegra was awarded with an MBE for services to the hospitality industry.  He was described as “a caterer with a conscience” by the Independent, has over 20 years’ experience and has worked as a broadcaster appearing on Channel 4, The Good Food Channel, BBC and has published 6 cook books.

Henry’s expansive background includes being a commis chef with Michelin-starred chef Bruno Loubet, a gossip columnist for The Daily Telegraph, appears as a regular panellist on BBC R4’s Kitchen Cabinet, has written for the Telegraph, the Guardian, the Times and the Sun and worked at Bain & Company where he met John.

John did business trouble-shooting at Bain & Company, has created dance events with innocent drinks founder Richard Reed and has led the turnaround of various brands.  If it can be improved John is your man.  Leon was named after John’s Dad, inspired by his mum’s positivity and the “Sunshine that radiates from every LEON team member”

In 2013 Henry and John produced the School Food Plan, where school menus were given their biggest healthy overhaul in generations and due to their combined successes both Henry and John were awarded an MBE in 2015 for services to school food.

Henry, John and Allegra shared the same ethos “why can’t fast food be good food”.  Inspired by this 2004 saw the opening of their very first Leon restaurant in London’s Carnaby Street and has continued to see steady growth ever since with over 45 stores nationwide and plans to open more worldwide.  With cosy and comfy interiors, subdue lighting, family pictures Leon really is a home away from home, so kick back and enjoy their Mediterranean natural, flavoursome, fresh, fuss -free and fabulous cooking which can be seen throughout Leon’s food Menu.

Brilliant breakfast items included the lovely Ruby Red Porridge, which teamed up well with wholemeal toast and a fresh cup of mint tea.  The gorgeous Greek yogurt topped with blueberries, pomegranate and lashings of honey work well with the blueberry & elderflower kefir and a cheeky bar of Leon’s lovely choccy.

The brilliant breakfast box is with a sizzling sausage, bacon slice, 2 eggs, mushrooms, beans and avocado, add on some toast and wash it down with a fresh ginger tea.

The vegan box was bursting with colour and included their sensational sweet potato falafel, yummy pomegranate-studded hummus, a mix of peppers, cauliflower, salad and olives.  Packed in a sesame seed topped bun is the chargrilled butterflied chicken burger is served up with fresh tomato, rocket, pickles, and some of their scrummy olive oil herb mayonnaise. Served in a sesame seed topped bun.

All the staff on both my visits were brilliant, friendly and really cared about the customer experience!

Eat fresh, feel fab with Leon.

Thank you for reading 😊

Melanie xx


Cottonopolis Manchester Northern Quarter Review

Cottonopolis Manchester Northern Quarter Review: January 2018

The Japanese inspired Cottonopolis restaurant is located in a gorgeous grade II listed building in the heart of Manchester’s Northern quarter.  Boasting Manchester’s iconic symbolic Bee, as their logo, which is proudly etched on the buildings windows.

The name Cottonopolis, that means a metropolis focused on cotton trading that serviced the cotton mills, has been inspired by Manchester’s historical past, as the international centre of the cotton trade during the 19th century.  This too is reflected in the choice of bespoke décor which combines traditional with the contemporary while remaining sympathetic to the buildings original features.

Exposed brick work, industrial chain features, cast iron columns, plush tan leather seating & booths, original floorboards, cool copper light fittings which add warmth along with the natural light.  A cool, chic and classy grown up hub to hang out in and the open kitchen created a calm yet buzzing hive of activity.  Owner and architect Nick Muir really has done an outstanding job.

Hot of the press was my “off menu” berry mocktail made up with love and tasted even lovelier.  All the way from the royal brewery of Krusovice near Prague in the Czech Republic is the Krusovice tank beer which boldly rests in huge copper tanks above the bar.

Get ready with the chopsticks or a good old knife and folk, if your chop stick skills are some what lacking, and prepare yourself for a taste of foodie heaven.  The masterful mouth-watering menu is sectioned into categories of Ice, Fire, Steam, Oil, Sugar and Sides.

Dishes are sensational, sophisticated and served up with style. Prawn crackers with the avocado dip were delightful our only regret was not ordering one each.  The vegetable futo maki was fresh and fabulous.  The lovely lightly battered vegetable tempura was yummy.

The amazing asparagus yakitori with a soy and mirin glaze, sesame seed and shoryu yolk shows off their fresh quality ingredients and worked well with the sticky sesame rice.  Stand up for the brilliant bao steamed buns stuffed with salt and pepper tofu served up with sensational sesame mayo.

The detail in the desserts dishes was incredible, both the coconut panacotta with a shiso, mango and coconut macaroon and the Yuzu & lime cheesecake with a gingerbread base and yuzu pearl, looked and tasted super scrummy.  Yasmin our lovely server looked after us throughout and was knowledgeable, professional and friendly.

Delicious dainty food made with high quality ingredients and presented with finesse and style, that can be enjoyed in beautiful surroundings, for me this place was a real winner.

Thank you for reading 😊

Melanie xx


Newton Street, Manchester, M1 2AE.

0161 236 5144


The Bay Horse Tavern Manchester Northern Quarter Review

The Bay Horse Tavern Manchester Northern Quarter Review: January 2018

The three brains behind the Bay Horse Tavern, Jobe Ferguson, Ross Mackenzie and Lyndon Higginson have brought this brilliant British boozer into the 21st century.  There was an eclectic mix of clientele, as you would expect in the NQ, who visit for a pub experience with a grown up sophisticated edge.

Now all spruced up, but still retaining its original charm, the decor theme is a mix of navy, subdue lighting, Victorian style tiles, parquet flooring, brass, copper and marble fixtures and fittings. The tanker display, featured the likes of the legendary fab four Beatles. The fire place provides a cosy spot to catch up over a cask ale or two or perhaps spend some time simply reading the day’s news.

Forget the packed lunch instead pop into the bay horse tavern NQ for a slice of the action, as their bread is freshly made daily onsite! We tried their classic chunky chips alongside proper sandwiches, thick slices of bread heaven filled with fish finger & tartar sauce and the halloumi, avocado, tomato, rocket & balsamic, all came with a side serving of crisps.

Why not bang on a dessert and enjoy a pint and a pudding.  We opted for the sensational sticky toffee pudding and tasty tart tatin which went down a treat.  Customer service was spot on, Lydia and Olivia, our wonderful waitresses, both looked after us throughout.  If you are looking for a good honest homemade hearty meal, in warm surroundings with an even warmer welcome get yourself down to the Bay Horse Tavern – a proper pub!

Thank you for reading 😊

Melanie xx


35 – 37 Thomas St, Manchester, M4 1NA

0161 669 5799