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A vegan visit to Planet Organic and Caffe Nero

My university's not a million miles away from a branch of Planet Organic. I couldn't remember popping into one before, so during a break in lectures I decided to pick up some supplies.

I love a good rummage around a health food shop, don't you? I always like to find some weird or wonderful new vegan delight that you've never seen before.

Case in point: check this cheezy kale popcorn! Could this be the most vegan popcorn ever - kale and nutritional yeast, all in one happy bag?

I can't help but wonder what genius at Planet Organic's own-brand-product creators came up with that one. Obviously, when I saw what could possibly be the most vegan flavour combination for popcorn in the world, I had to buy a bag and try it out.

There was no kale flavour to speak of, but the nooch was there in full effect. Not a bad effort on Planet Organic's part, I'd say, but sadly that was as far as my relationship with the store was due to go.

Because then I started looking around at the prices, and wondered if I'd wandered into a joke shop and not a health food shop. The prices had me clutching my sides with laughter, because if I didn't laugh, I'd cry.

Case in point  - £8 for a packet of biscuits. Eight pounds. I was almost tempted to buy a bag just to find out quite what £8's worth of biscuits tastes like. Needless to say, I resisted the urge.

Another comedy pricing moment: a bag of broccoli poppers (raw dehydrated flavoured broccoli) for more than £4. From what I could ascertain, the broccoli poppers were like those kale chips you make at home, only with broccoli instead of kale - same sort of sauce and dehydrating involved.

I did a mental calculation of how much broccoli I could buy with that £4 and decided against indulging in the poppers. Instead, I brought a couple of heads of broccoli and cauliflower, dug out this recipe from Olives for Dinner, and tried making said poppers at home for the first time.

Here's how the cauliflower turned out:

Success! After more hours than I care to think about in the dehydrator, I had my very own cauliflower raw poppers! Crispy, cheezy, and moreish, they didn't last long. I was glad they were far cheaper than the Planet Organic version, because I'm going to be making more of these. A lot more.

Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the broccoli version I made (same Olives for Dinner recipe). That's a real shame, because the broccoli version was way better - while cauliflower doesn't bring a great deal to the taste table, broccoli's strong irony flavour is a lovely match for the cheezy tang of the sauce.

Of course, I didn't walk out of Planet Organic empty-handed: I picked up this Pudology tub and a pumpkin Rude Health bar:

The Pudology pot was much nicer than I remember it being the last time I tried it, and the Rude Health bar didn't taste of much in the way of pumpkin (a bit disappointing, given how their beetroot bar really does taste of the eponymous muddy-flavoured veg).

Moral of the story: if you're going to Planet Organic on a student's budget, go there to pick up ideas, not your shopping.

After making a special detour to Planet Organic to find cool vegan stuff to stuff in my face, I was chuffed to find that Caffe Nero has now added a new vegan item to their line up.


Apart from the fact this looks less like it's been dusted with icing sugar and more like it's been buried in a snow drift, it really was a very good mince pie (and gluten free too, if you're avoiding the stuff). I'm almost wishing Christmas was a few more weeks away, so I'd have longer to gorge on these.

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  1. Thanks for the heads up on the new Caffe Nero option! Definitely a more manageable purchase than Planet Organic goods, which are scarily priced. I didn't know anywhere could exceed Whole Foods, but PO manages it :P

  2. Caffe Nero! I have such good memories of that place from my trip to London 10 years ago. I don't remember them having any vegan treats back then, but they made a damn good soy latte :)

  3. Your poppers look amazing. It's a shame so much of that kind of stuff is so expensive. I do wonder who has the disposable income to afford it!

  4. Ah, great minds do think alike! I just made a batch of dehydrated cauliflower "popcorn" myself, and now I feel rather silly planning a post around it. Clearly not as original an idea I had hoped... But truly delicious, as you know.

  5. I hate how expensive shops like that are. I'm always so excited about trying new products, but it's hard to justify those prices.

    I'm impressed that there's a vegan mince pie in a highstreet cafe, that's great news!

  6. I'm not surprised to see the high prices at the health food store, it's the same way over here. I usually just wait for it to go on sale for a more reasonable price. :-) The poppers look interesting, I'll have to give it a go some time.


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