The V Spot

A vegan general store

For a kinder, greener world

Coronavirus 17th March 2020

The shop is open

Our shop is open as normal. As a food retailer, we have an important role to play in keeping people fed and we will do this to our best ability. Of course we may get sick ourselves and this may affect our ability to stay open. Even if we are forced to close the shop we will try to keep our delivery service running.

Hygiene

As a food business, we always take hygiene seriously and we are taking extra measures to ensure that we can serve you safely and hygienically. Staff will wash their hands more regularly. The shop and kitchen are cleaned and disinfected more often. We are regularly sanitising high-risk areas such as door handles. These measures will help to stop the virus spreading.

You can help us keep everyone safe. If you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19, please isolate yourself and do not come into the shop – use our home delivery service instead. If you are in the shop and need to cough, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or cough into your shoulder. If you have young children with you, please supervise them and try to stop them touching and picking up items unnecessarily.

Home delivery service and postal delivery

If you are self-isolating or are anxious about leaving the house, we provide a home delivery service. You can order our entire product range from our website and have it delivered to your home around the Nottingham area. There is no minimum order value but there is a delivery charge.

If you are outside our delivery area then you can still receive deliveries by parcel post. However, we do not deliver chilled or frozen items by post and certain items (such as nail varnish) may also be restricted by the postal service.

Changes to the delivery service due to Coronavirus

We no longer deliver to the more far-flung corners of Nottinghamshire but we still deliver to NG1-NG12 and NG14-NG16 postcode areas. We now make deliveries EVERY EVENING and aim to deliver within 48 hours. If you place an order in the morning, we will deliver to you on the evening of that day or the following day. We will contact you beforehand to confirm an approximate delivery time.

Stock levels

The pandemic is causing problems all along the supply chain. There are problems and delays in manufacture and distribution of food, meaning that many products are unavailable, and shortages are being exacerbated by people panic buying and overstocking. All of our suppliers have told us that they are experiencing an unprecedented level of orders and are struggling to dispatch orders on time. This means that it is difficult to keep our shop fully stocked and some of your favourite products won’t always be available. However, please DON’T PANIC. We have a well stocked store room and we are confident that we will be able to maintain supplies for the foreseeable future.

Self care

Nearly everyone who has come into the shop lately has been stressed and anxious and it’s created a weird end-of-the-world feeling. The anxiety is even more infectious than the virus. If you are feeling stressed, please take some time to look after yourself and the people around you. If you feel alone or unhappy then please reach out to someone for support.

I wish you all the best and hope that you stay safe and healthy.

Adrian Bhagat, owner of The V Spot.

Store cupboard items

The government recommends that you have a store of groceries so that you can isolate yourself in the event that you exhibit Covid-19 symptoms. While isolation may be a great opportunity to enjoy trying some new recipes, you may not feel like cooking if you fall ill, so it’s a good idea to have a stock of long-life items in your cupboard. Here are a few things you may want to consider purchasing.

Quarantine Supplies

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Food for travel, camping and festivals 20th March 2019

Although vegan food seems to be becoming more available all over the world, it can still be difficult to get suitable food when you are travelling, particularly if you are struggling with a language and cultural divide. Here we look at some products that you can take with you as emergency rations when you are travelling abroad. In addition, there are some ideas for products that are really helpful when you are hiking, camping, or going to a festival.

Pâté Tubes

These large tubes of pâté are a god-send when you are stuck for a meal or savoury snack. Just buy some bread and squeeze some of the pâté straight onto it for an instant sandwich, or add some salad vegetables for extra flavour and nutrition. They are large tubes that will make a lot of snacks and they don’t need to be refrigerated so they are perfect for travelling. If you are flying, you will need to put them into your checked bag.


Powdered milk

You don’t want to lug cartons of plant milk around the world with you but you DO want milk on your breakfast cereal and a nice cup of tea at the end of the day. Powdered milk is the answer – just mix as much or as little as you need with drinking water when you want it. It’s also really handy if you are carrying your food on a hiking trip or a DoE Award.


Milk sachets

These little sachets of soya milk are great to have in your handbag/car when you are out and about. If you are offered a cup of tea somewhere, you will always have plant milk handy.


Tinned ready meals

If you are camping you will want a hot meal at the end of the day with a minimum of fuss. These meals are really tasty and can be quickly heated over a bonfire or camping stove.


Filled Pasta

These packets of filled pasta deliver lots of carbs to give you an energy boost and they have lightweight packaging so they are fabulous if you are carrying your own food on a hiking and camping trip. They just need to be cooked in boiling water so they are easily prepared on a camping stove.


Ambient meat alternatives

Ready-made meat alternatives usually need to be refrigerated and, as they are high in protein, they quickly grow bacteria and spoil at room temperature. However, these remarkable new products from Veg-In don’t need to be kept in the fridge. They can be eaten as part of a fried breakfast, put in a bun with some ketchup, or added to soups and stews.


Breakfast

It may be obvious but porridge is the perfect breakfast when you are outdoors. Just mix with water (and add some powdered milk for extra flavour), boil up and you have a warming, filling meal that is full of energy to power you through the day’s activities. If you’re not a fan of porridge then you could try the incredible tasty Lizi’s Granola range.


Dr Bronner’s

Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap is a very concentrated liquid soap that you can use to wash your body, hair, clothes, dishes, food, and much more besides. As it’s so concentrated you dilute it with plenty of water so a little goes a long way and you only have to take a small bottle with you. It’s biodegradable so it’s suitable to use when you are travelling in sensitive natural environments.


Friendly Shampoo Bars

Friendly shampoo bars are fantastic for travelling. As they are solid, they can be kept in your carry-on bag on a flight and you don’t need to worry about liquid shampoo leaking onto your clothes! The travel soap is suitable for cleaning both your hair and body. All the bars come in plastic-free packaging.


Travel Mugs

Stojo Collapsible Mugs are really handy when you are out and about. You can get a cup of coffee and avoid using a disposable mug (and sometimes get a discount for doing so). They fold down into a disc so they can be easily be carried in pockets or handbags.


Tissues

Natracare ‘Safe To Flush’ moist tissues are plastic free and biodegradable. They can be used as wet wipes when you are travelling and won’t damage the local environment.


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Veganism and Nutrition 4th September 2018

Tell someone that you are vegan and often they will instantly turn into an expert nutritionist: You’re not getting enough protein! You’ll get sick! You need meat to live.

Ignoring the armchair experts, there is a lot of scientifically valid research out there about vegan nutrition and health and it’s generally good news. Vegans tend to live longer than meat-eaters and vegetarians but there are still some things to look out for. The Vegan Society collates the evidence and keeps their vegan nutrition guide up to date.

It’s a good idea to read it through. It’s much more balanced than the information you will find from pseudo-scientific health gurus who are trying to sell their latest faddy diet product or make people panic about what they eat. Anyone who takes an interest in what they eat is likely to improve their health. It goes without saying that avoiding junk food and eating a varied diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables will be good for you, whether you are vegan or a meat-eater.

One thing to look out for is Vitamin B12. This is produced by bacteria in animals guts but, because our food production methods are cleaner these days, there’s less of it in our diets, particularly vegan diets. Animals bred for food are given B12 supplements to ensure there is enough in their meat but even meat-eaters should be taking B12 supplements as they get older. Luckily, there are lots of foods fortified with B12 and supplement tablets and cheap and readily obtainable. For example, you can get Engevita yeast flakes fortified with vitamin B12.

Most meat-based diets contain a large excess of protein and this can lead to obesity, heart disease and other serious conditions. Plant food such as pulses (beans, lentils, peas) and grains (wheat, rice etc) contain the amino-acids that make up protein. Some plant foods such as soya have all the necessary amino-acids so, for example, tofu is a good food for protein. Other plant foods have only a selection of amino-acids and so you need to combine them to get the full range. Generally, if you are eating some pulses and some grains each day then you will be meeting all your protein needs. This is really easy to do: beans on toast is a good example of combining pulses and grains.

Although at first it requires a little thought to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need, it becomes second nature after a while. Becoming vegan is a period of transition and once you are there, you don’t need to think about it very often.

If you want an easy way to ensure you are getting enough B12 and the various trace elements you need, then this can be done with a daily dietary supplement. Many supplements are not suitable for vegans but Quest make a vegan multivitamin. Also the Vegan Society produce VEG1 tablets which are designed to complement a vegan diet. There are also supplements for individual nutrients such as Vitamin B12 but, again, check carefully that they are suitable for vegans. Although supplements aren’t needed by everyone, they can offer peace of mind that you aren’t missing out on the nutrients that are harder to obtain.

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How to cook with tofu 24th August 2018

What is tofu?

Tofu is essentially a solid block of soya milk which has been curdled. The ingredients used to solidify can be lemon juice or calcium or magnesium salts. Tofu has been used as a meat substitute for centuries and it has many other uses in vegetarian and vegan cookery. Although it is bland on its own, it absorbs flavour and, when prepared correctly, is a delicious ingredient.

It’s quite easy to make your own tofu. If you want to give it a go, we stock dried soya beans.

Types of tofu

Firm tofu

The big white blocks that are sold in plastic trays immersed in water are firm tofu. It may be described as medium firm or extra firm depending on the texture. This is the type that is particularly used in Chinese cookery as a meat substitute (you will often find it described as ‘bean curd’ on restaurant menus). If you are vegan, you need to be careful when ordering in Chinese restaurants as they sometimes make their own tofu and use egg as an ingredient.

Silken tofu

Silken tofu comes in Tetrapaks and is found in shops on the shelves rather than in the fridge. Silken tofu has a very smooth consistency and is wonderful for making sauces and desserts.

Try this recipe for vegan sour cream made from silken tofu.

Smoked and Flavoured tofu

Smoked tofu is flavoured with wood smoke. It has a meaty flavour which makes it great for savoury dishes.

Recently a lot of new flavoured tofu products have become available. These are fantastic in salads and sandwiches. Popular flavours include basil, sundried tomato, Black Forest and almond.

Braised tofu

Braised tofu has been marinated and cooked. It has a tough, meaty texture and a strong flavour that works well in stir fries. It comes in tins so it’s a handy thing to have in the kitchen cupboard.

How to cook tofu

Pressing

Before you cook with tofu, you need to squeeze out the water. The best way to do this is with a tofu press. The press exerts an even pressure on the block of tofu and has a tray to collect the water, so it is mess and fuss free. If you don’t have a tofu press, you can wrap a block of tofu in a cloth and put a book on top. This is a bit more fiddly and less effective than using a press, but will do if you only occasionally cook with tofu.

Marinating

Because tofu is bland and flavourless on its own, the main thing when cooking is to get some flavour into it. The best way to do this is to marinate the tofu so it can absorb flavour. A simple marinade can be made of vegetable oil, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. You can also use liquid smoke, toasted sesame oil or liquid aminos. Put cubes or slices of tofu into a flat dish and pour the marinade over the top, making sure the tofu is covered all over. Leave it for half an hour. You might want to turn the tofu over half way through to make sure it evenly flavoured.

The freezing technique

Here is a great technique to make marinading easier. Cut the tofu into blocks the size of sugar cubes, place them in a storage tub and freeze them overnight. Then, defrost them by pouring water over them. As it freezes, the water in the tofu forms ice crystals which means when it is defrosted it has holes in it like a sponge. You can press down on them gently to squeeze out the water and as you release them and they will soak up the marinade. The freezing also gives the tofu a stronger texture, which is nicer to eat and is less likely to break up when you cook with it.

This freezing technique is used in our Tofu Irish Stew recipe.

Scrambled tofu

Tofu can be used to make a delicious alternative to scrambled eggs. Once the water has been squeezed out of the tofu, it is crumbled up and fried with turmeric. Check out our recipe for scrambled tofu.

For a really lazy way to make really tasty scrambled tofu, get some Vitam Tofu Scramble. It’s a sachet of flavouring that you mix with water and stir into the fried tofu.

Nutrition

As tofu is made from soya, it is high in protein, containing all nine amino acids that are essential in the diet. Depending on the firming agent used, it can also be a good source of calcium or magnesium.

Storage

As is high in protein, it can grow bacteria quickly so it is important to keep it refrigerated. You can keep blocks of firm tofu in the fridge for a few days. It’s best to keep them immersed in water and to replace the water each day.

Tempeh

Tempeh is a similar product to tofu but made from whole soya beans which are fermented. The end product has a much firmer, chewier texture which can be fried as a burger or dropped into stews and stir-fries.

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Vegan Alternatives 8th August 2018

Product Alternative
Bacon
Béchamel sauce (white sauce) Ecomil Organic Almond Bechamel Sauce
Beef
Black pudding VPud Black pudding
Burgers
Butter
Cake
Cheese
Cheese sauce Free & Easy Cheese Sauce Mix
Chicken
Chocolate bars
Chorizo VBites Cheatin’ Chorizo Pieces
Condensed milk Nature’s Charm Condensed Coconut Milk
Cream
Cream cheese
Custard
Eggs (as an ingredient)
Evaporated milk Nature’s Charm Evaporated Coconut Milk
Fish & Shellfish
Fudge
Gammon VBites Cheatin’ Gammon Roast
Gravy
Honey
Hot chocolate
Ice cream
Jelly babies / Haribo / Gummy sweets
Kebab meat Wheaty Doner Kebab Pieces
Mac & Cheese
Marshmallows Freedom Mallows
Mayonnaise
Meat
Meat slices for sandwiches
Milk chocolate
Nutella
Milk Plant milks
Duck Mock duck
Pancakes Vegan pancake recipe
Parmesan
Pesto
Pork
Ready meals
Salad cream Granovita Salad Cream
Sausages
Sausage rolls
Scrambled eggs
Steak Sgaia steaks
Sour cream
Stock cubes
Sweets (boiled) Candy Shack sweets (sugar free)
Turkey
Worcester sauce
Yogurt

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Vegan Cheese

Picture of an artisanal vegan cheese

Introduction

A lot of people say they could never go vegan because they would miss cheese too much. While it’s probably fair to say that vegan cheese doesn’t entirely match up to the dairy version, it has improved rapidly over the last few years in terms of quality, range and availability. There isn’t yet a vegan cheese that melts in quite the same way as the ‘real’ thing but we’re getting close. Read on to find out about the huge variety of vegan cheese.

Popular vegan cheeses

Violife

Picture of the Violife vegan cheese range

Violife is probably the most popular cheese alternative in the UK. It is made from coconut oil, which makes it better nutritionally than soya based cheeses. Violife has a wide range of products. Their basic cheeses come in around 10 flavours in both blocks and slices, and some are available grated. The ‘Violife for Pizza‘ variety is a good melty cheese that’s great for cooking. They also have spreadable cream cheeses, ‘after dinner‘ cheeses, feta-style, Halloumi-style and a Parmesan alternative.

Bute Island Sheese

Bute Island make the ‘Sheese’ range of products. Recently, they have launched a variety of new flavours and are it the process of reformulating their cheeses to be free from soya. They have various flavours but the Mature Cheddar is probably most popular. Their Greek Style Sheese is a great replacement for feta in salads. The Caramelised Onion Sheese and Wensleydale with Cranberries are excellent on their own.

Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart (who also make the very popular Vegenaise mayonnaise) make shredded gourmet cheese – their pizzeria blend is possibly the best vegan pizza cheese out there. Their Gouda and pepperjack style cheese slices are also a very popular choice.

Those are the most common varieties you will find but there are many more. Mozzarisella is a white cheese made from rice. This is the one that Zizzi restaurants are using on their pizzas as it melts very well. Cheezly is another brand that was very popular before being overtaken by Violife, but it still has its fans.

Artisanal Cheese

Picture of an artisanal vegan cheese

Then there are artisanal vegan cheeses. These are generally made from nuts such as cashew and almonds and use the traditional cheese making process where the nut mixture is fermented with bacteria. Often herbs or other flavourings are added. The end result is a very tasty cheese with an authentic flavour and texture which make great after-dinner cheeses. Naturally these products are more expensive but they are worth it for an occasional treat.

Popular artisanal cheese companies include Tyne Cheese, Nutcrafter, Cicioni and Lettices. If you get the chance to go to a large vegan festival, you will probably find a couple of artisanal cheese makers there. Go and try their free samples!

Cream Cheese

There are also many alternatives to cream cheese. Tofutti plain cream cheese is good when you are baking a cheesecake or something similar. Creamy Sheese comes in a variety of flavours and is particularly nice – the garlic flavour is excellent for making savoury sauces. Violife’s herb flavour cream cheese is great for spreading.

Parmesan alternatives

There are very good alternatives to Parmesan cheese. Violife Prosociano is a wedge of parmesan-flavoured cheese which is a great topping for savoury dishes when grated finely.
Grattugiato is a kind of cheese powder that can be sprinkled onto pasta dishes.
You can also use Engevita (nutritional yeast flakes or ‘nooch’ for short). It so good, we have a whole article about nutritional yeast flakes for you.

Advice for new vegans

There are many types of vegan cheese, too many to list them all here. As with other vegan alternatives, it’s a good idea to try a variety of them to find one you really like. If you don’t like the first one you try, don’t be put off – it may be an acquired taste or it may be that you’ll like a different one much more. If you have just turned vegan you may find that you don’t like vegan cheese at all at first, but by sticking with it then over time your tastes will change and you will start to love it.

If you are trying vegan cheese for the first time, we recommend that you start with Violife Original or For Pizza and then work you way through all the other varieties.

Try some vegan cheese

The V Spot is a vegan shop in Nottingham. You can browse our whole range of vegan cheese online or in The V Spot shop.


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How to use Nutritional Yeast Flakes (nooch / Engevita) 6th August 2018

Picture of nutritional yeast flakes

If you are trying a vegan diet, everyone will tell you that you need to try nooch. But what is it and how do you use it? We tell you all you need to know about this vital and versatile ingredient in vegan cookery.

About Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional Yeast (‘nooch’) is made from yeast that has been dried into flakes, which are a pale yellow in colour. It has a cheesy, nutty flavour so it’s extremely useful in vegan cookery and a great substitute in cooked dishes that would normally contain cheese. As you will see from the list below, it can be used in many different ways to replace cheese. It also helps to boost the flavour in savoury dishes. In addition, nooch contains essential nutrients that are tricky for vegans to consume, so it’s a very good thing to include in your diet.

The most common brand of nutritional yeast in the UK is Engevita, made by Marigold Health Foods. They have four varieties available: Original Engevita, Engevita fortified with B12, ‘Super’ Engevita fortified with vitamins D and B12, and Organic Engevita. They come in big cardboard containers that seem to weigh nothing but they are well worth the price. There are other brands available though be careful if you are gluten intolerant as some of them contain wheat (Engevita is gluten free).

It sounds amazing, where can I buy it?

You buy Engevita nutritional yeast flakes from The V Spot. Visit our shop or buy online and collect your order or have it delivered to your home.


What makes it so nutritious?

Nooch is a good source of protein. Protein is made from various types of amino acids and there are nine amino acids that are essential in the diet. Nooch contains all nine of these. Nooch also contains a substantial amount of iron and vitamins B1 and B2. Some varieties of nutritional yeast are fortified with Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential in the diet and difficult to obtain from vegan food so eating fortified nooch is a great way to make sure you are getting enough. Vitamin B12 can survive high temperatures so there’s no need to worry that you will destroy it when cooking with nutritional yeast. Super Engevita is fortified with vitamin D as well as B12.

If you are interested in vegan nutrition, or concerned about your diet, we recommend a thorough read of the Vegan Society’s nutritional information pages. The Internet is full of wild, unproven theories and poor quality health information but The Vegan Society provides reliable, complete, easy to understand, evidence-based advice.

How do I use nooch?

Nutritional Yeast is very versatile. It’s can be used as a substitute for cheese when cooking sauces. It’s not a complete replacement for cheese, though: if you are making a pizza when we recommend trying a vegan cheese such as Violife.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Cheesy Toast

    Toast bread slices on both sides under a hot grill, then spread one side with vegan margarine and sprinkle nooch on top. Put them back under the grill until the nooch starts to brown.

  • Parmesan

    Make pasta with tomatoey sauce and sprinkle nutritional yeast flakes over the top as a substitute for Parmesan. Tastes much nicer than the real thing (not hard to be fair). You can also use it in risotto.

    We also love to use Grattugiato as an alternative to Parmesan.

  • Pesto

    Use nooch as a substitute for Parmesan in fresh pesto. Follow our vegan pesto recipe.

  • Lasagna

    Make a white sauce by frying some flour in a little oil and then slowly stirring in soya milk until you have a smooth mixture. Add salt and pepper and then some nooch to give it a cheesy flavour. You can use the sauce when making lasagna.

    If you don’t have time to make your own cheese sauce, try the Free & Easy Cheese Sauce Mix. It’s very tasty and gluten free too.

  • Sandwiches

    Spread hummus over bread slices, sprinkle on some nutritional yeast and add cress or any salad veg of your choice.

    If you want a really cheesy sandwich, we recommend Violife slices.

  • Seitan

    Add nooch to your dough when making seitan to boost the flavour. Check out our seitan recipe to see how it’s done. We sell a seitan making starter kit that includes some nooch so you don’t have to buy a whole jar.

  • Scrambled tofu

    Scrambled tofu is another dish where nooch is a great flavour enhancer.

  • EVERYWHERE

    Once you start using nooch, you will use it on everything!

Other kitchen essentials

While we have your attention, here are some other kitchen essentials we think you should try.

  • Liquid smoke

    A great way to give savoury dishes a smokey, meaty, barbecue-y flavour.

  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce

    Regular Worcestershire sauce contains fish but the vegan alternatives are just as good. Or, try some Henderson’s Relish.

  • Liquid Aminos

    Another great all-purpose flavour enhancer, similar to soy sauce.

  • Marigold Bouillon

    Another brilliant product from Marigold, the makers of Engevita. Just mix with hot water to make a really tasty stock for use in any savoury dish.

  • Tahini

    Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. It’s used in making hummus but it’s also great as a sandwich spread and a thickener for sauces. Light tahini is most commonly used but whole dark tahini has a richer flavour and is more nutritious.

We hope you enjoyed this article and that you have been inspired to try some nutritional yeast flakes in your cooking at home. If you have any questions, the friendly, knowledgeable staff at The V Spot are happy to help – just pop in for a chat.

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