Honest Burgers, Reading - Something New at the Reading location {restaurant review}

Honest Burgers hasn't been in Reading for very long, but it's one of the few places in town that I re-visit over and over again. The menu is basic, but I use that term in a good way not in the slang way it is used by the youth of today. Because I have found that the best places to eat are the ones that do a few things really well.

Saying that though the menu has something for everyone, vegetarians and vegans included. Every month they have a special burger that celebrates locally sourced ingredients and keeps the menu interesting.

The other thing they do that helps keep things interesting is that each Honest Burgers has one burger that you can only get at that location. Each one of those burgers usually reflects the area of the location of the restaurant. And that is why I am writing today.

Reading's signature burger has changed.


It has changed to, are you ready for this...... a Jerk Chicken Burger - free-range jerk chicken thigh, smoked bacon, double American cheese, Calypso Fusion jerk sauce, mango slaw and lettuce

Yesterday I took my girls into town to see a movie and then to dinner at Honest Burgers where I tried this Jerk Chicken Burger. I gotta say it was one of the best chicken burgers I have tried in recent times. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the spices perfectly balanced, in my opinion it had just the right amount of heat.

The burger was created by one of the team members in Reading. She worked as a prep chef and made her way up and is now an essential part of their management team. She came to to join the Reading team through a program called Working Chance; the UK's only recruitment consultancy for women leaving the criminal justice and care system.

The Jerk burger uses her family's jerk rub and sauce and a portion of the sale of every burger sold goes to the charity Working Chance as a way to say thank you to them and to help them continue the amazing work they are doing.


If this burger isn't enough for you to visit Honest Burger, I should mention their rosemary salted chips, they are the best and their cocktails are some of my favorite! But not only that as I mentioned above there is something for everyone including veggies and vegans.

In January they launched their vegan burger, which uses a Beyond Meat patty and I tried it when I took part of Veganuary and I have to say I really enjoyed it - I wrote about it in my blog post Top 5 Vegan Recipes & Products and it's still available!

It also has a kids menu that reflects kids tastes. The burgers are sliders and were the perfect size for little people. My eldest daughter loves pickles, like her mom does, and when ordering her veggie burger asked for lots of pickles. Their pickles are made there and so we were brought a bowl with some to try and we were fighting over them! Just another way that they show their dedication to great ingredients.



There are several locations check out their website to find one near you and if you are local to Reading it's located - 1-5 King St, Reading RG1 2HB 

My original review post can be found here.

* I was invited to visit Honest Burgers, I was not compensated in a monetary way for my review, all opinions are my own, please see my contact/policy page above for more information.

Social Media - Do you have niche?

When I first started blogging it was about baking and I titled my blog accordingly and all my social media channels were named accordingly. I only followed other baking accounts and joined in foodie group chats on social media. 

Which was great at the time. However, things change and people change and grow and it's hard to stay within a niche. It's hard to put limits on creativity and it's hard to stay within the boundaries of that niche, to live in a box.

It's not hard I suppose if you don't grow or change.

A few years back now I attended Food Blogger Connect and one of the workshops I attended was all about blogging, not about food just blogging and why we blogged. At the time it felt like there was a simple answer, I liked blogging because it was my little corner of the internet were I got to share something I was passionate about. A place were I could express myself and put words down where someone might actually read them.

But within the confines of baking.

When I posted anything besides a recipe or it got half the views of the ones that did. However, having had a few major things in my life change and my "passion" for baking ebbed my blog has pretty much gone on the wayside.

I spend most of my time now on Instagram and it's there that I now mostly share images of books and follow loads of book lovers and take part in daily photo challenges with prompts all to do with books. It's weird to remember that actually I started blogging not with this blog, but a book blog, one my sisters and I wrote together along with our cousin (pagesofthemind). We stopped blogging about books but, our love of books didn't go anywhere. We just stopped fitting into the niche of "book blogger."

I still read as much as I was baking, but it wasn't always something I shared or talked about because I felt like I couldn't mix the two. It's a little like that now on social media, if you don't have a niche or a theme for your page then you might as well forget it.

Which is so hard as no single person is just one thing. We have many things that we are passionate about or that bring us joy. I love books and I love the bookish community I have found online. I also still enjoy baking, but as I have stated recently and more then once, I just don't bake like I used too.

I still buy and devour cookbooks and that's the one thing I feel like I can share here because it fits in my niche of baking and food. If I couldn't tie in baking or cake or food I thought it would automatically be rejected.


However, it's was pretty presumptuous of me to assume that I had enough regular readers to care. According to my analytics my bounce rate was high, people would pop into my blog via a link or google search for exactly what they were looking for and then leave again. Nothing keeps them here. And that's okay too.

In today's world there is a lot of quick information and once that need is satisfied it goes again and it's not something I am immune too.

It was just a topic I have been thinking about a lot lately. Does my blog have to be just one thing when I myself am not one thing? I am a mother, artist, expat, book lover, plant killer, and I love musical theatre.

I am not just a baker and cookbook addict.

Both of which I still love, but I don't love them more or less then the other things I enjoy. The last few years haven't been easy ones and I felt like I no longer had anything to say. This post was relevantly easy to write harder to decide if I would share it or not.

Point of all my ramblings is that the idea of having a "niche" is restricting, but to be honest it helped when I was starting out. It's just now I don't know where to go or how to change the blog and that's not easy. It's hard not to wonder where my blog would be if I hadn't put myself in a box?

Top 5 Vegan Recipes and Products {veganuary - five on Friday}

Veganuary may be over, but there are a few recipes and products I have added to my weekly shop or recipes I have added to my repertoire also one place I will visit again for their vegan menu.

Not in any particular order:



1. Falafels & Hummus wraps: I was making this recipe for years before I decided to try being vegan and it is still a go to lunch option. Falafels with hummus and spinach, shredded carrots, and either mint sauce or sweet chilli depending on the falafels.



2. Vegan burger from Honest Burgers - are made with Beyond Burger patties, they are the first restaurant in the UK to have these vegan burgers and let me tell you they are good!! I know it might be a bit weird to go to a burger place to get a vegan burger, but the rosemary salted chips are the best so it's always a win-win!



3. Banana bread recipe from bosh! - I have written a separate post for this so check it out here!


image belongs to violife

4. Violife original flavour block: vegan cheese - Cheese was my biggest fear,  I was afraid how it would taste and worried about the texture . Cheese how can vegan cheese hold up against regular cheese? But this one did and I am still using it for recipes and sandwiches.



5. tofu with spicy peanut sauce - this recipe I actually made in February but it was so good even my children liked this one and both ate it right up! Best part is that it goes in the slow cooker and can be left to it's own devices as you sort the rest of your life out.

recipe:
675g extra firm tofu
2 tbsp veggie oil
85g smooth peanut butter
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
dash of lime juice
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, choppped
1-2 red chillis, depending how hot you want it
350g baby spinach
chopped fresh coriander
brown rice to serve

Cut the tofu into thin squares or rectangles or whatever shapes you want and pat dry to remove any excess moisture before frying in a pan over a medium-high heat flipping until browned on both sides.
While the tofu is doing its thing mix everything except the spinach and coriander in the slow cooker and when the tofu is ready mix it all together and leave on low from 2-4 hours depending on your slow cooker. 15 minutes before serving add the spinach and cook the rice, if using 10 minute rice, and serve with rice and coriander as a garnish.

*note I only used one chilli as my kids don't like it too spicy, but if you like it spicy use another one!
**note two I chop up the coriander stalks and mix them in with the sauce
There were so many other things I tried and tested in my month of being vegan a few honourable mentions are the Goodfella's Vegan Pizza found in the frozen section and also found in the frozen section Ben and Jerry's vegan ice cream and last but not least the Heck vegan sausages.

Being vegan was definitely an experience and it has taught me a lot and as already stated changed a lot in how I do my food shopping and cook!


Vegan Chocolate Banana Bread from Bosh! {recipe review}

The best part of being vegan was this banana bread. I am just sayin'.


It's not the first time I have baked vegan, but it was always with varying results this loaf turned out great and I ate it for days and now make it whenever I have any old bananas lurking around.

The recipe is really simple and easy to make. It's literally just throw everything into a bowl and mix it together and then throw it in the tin and bake! Finding a recipe as simple as this, but tastes just as great is always a winner and the added bonus as that no animals were harmed in the making of this baked good!

If you are looking for a great baking vegan recipe to test the waters I recommend starting with this one!


Banana Bread

250g plain flour
75g light brown sugar
75g white sugar
1½ tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground allspice
110g dairy-free butter
3 ripe bananas
60ml almond milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g dark chocolate
50g pecans/walnuts

Preheat oven to 170C fan (190C/gas 5) and line a 1kg loaf tin with parchment paper.

Pour all the ingredients except the dark chocolate and pecans into a food processor or free standing mixer and beat them to a thick mixture. Scrape any excess mixture back into the bowl.
Break the dark chocolate and pecans or walnuts into small pieces and tip them into the bowl. Fold until just combined.
Pour the mixture into the lined loaf tin and put it in the oven.
Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted at the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Take the tin out of the oven and leave the bread to cool to room temperature. Remove the loaf from the tin and cut it into slices to serve.




Veganuary - a month later

Vegan: 
/ˈvi:ɡ(ə)n

noun
1. a person who does not eat or use animal products.

adjective: vegan
1. using or containing no animal products.


Everyone wanted to know how I was getting on and would say things either like "Bacon, don't you miss bacon?" or in a sympathetic tone "Oh yeah, I forgot you can't have meat." 

It was really hard explaining to people that I didn't miss bacon or any meat to be fair. It was literally only a week ago that I had meat again for the first time since December. 

Saying that it's clear I did not continue being vegan, not because I didn't enjoy it because I did and I found it fairly easy. It's just that restricting your diet so much is hard. 

There are things in life that if you feel really strongly about it if it is hard you still do it because it's something you want or believe in. I don't feel strongly enough about being vegan to continue to do so. But that doesn't mean I didn't learn something and that I haven't changed my ways even if it isn't as strict as a full on vegan diet.

Vegan shakes from Miami Burger located in the Oracle Reading Berkshire

Things that have changed for me;


  • I use milk alternatives in my coffee
  • started buying vegan cheese, butter, and mayo
  • less meat, once a week if that
  • cooking at home more, experimenting in the kitchen
  • I am still checking labels of food products and choosing vegan or vegetarian options when available 


Because I haven't cut meat out completely I don't nor will I ever try to label myself as a vegan. I can label myself as more aware and conscious of the choices I make around where my food comes from.

Even though I didn't stay vegan it did remind me how much I love exploring food and experimenting in the kitchen; as I mentioned in my list above. Recently cooking and meal planning had become a real chore and my weekly meals had started to become repetitive and boring. A few of the recipes I tried have become family favourites.


*I used the Bosh! cookbook most, if you want to learn a bit more about that then check out my blog post on the cookbooks I picked up and used!
Overall Veganuary was a success, I was proud of myself that I made it through the month without ever being tempted by meat or milk products. And learning enough to defend my choices against everyone who wanted to question me and give me crap about it. If you want more information I would recommend visiting the veganuary official website as they were my go to any time I had questions!   

Miami Burger - Reading Berkshire {restaurant review}


It may be because I decided to try out Veganuary this year or just that plant based diets are becoming more common, but it seems like vegans have more choices available to them than they had in the past.

So, many restaurants have jumped on the band wagon offering a vegan option, I am skeptical that after January that these options may not be there and that makes me sad. However, I know that there will always be one place in Reading that vegans will have a place to turn too. Miami Burger has recently opened their doors in a prime spot in the Oracle.


I don't want to put people off by saying it is a great place for vegans, because it's a great place for everyone. Miami Burger gives junk food a new meaning! The menu is fully plant based, but has a variety of choices; there are 'burgers,' wraps & dogs, super bowls, and a nice selection of side dishes. Although the Mac Cheeze is listed as a side dish, I could have easily eaten it as my main.

Not only is the food good, but it has a very fun laid back atmosphere. With a foosball table and basketball games what more could you ask for when dining out?




My friends and I tried a few different things on the menu just to get a feel for it. So, after the recommendation from the lovely staff we went with The Louisiana Chick'n, The Spicy MB, and The Double MB. All three were lovely and each has it's own merits. I do believe it all comes down to individual taste, but we all really liked the Spicy MB it has just the right amount of spice, a real nice kick to it. And we were surprised by the Louisiana Chick'n the texture and flavors were spot on! If you were really hungry I would definitely go with the Double MB, it has it's own burger sauce which complimented it perfectly!


We also each got a side of the Mac Cheeze, each of us trying one of the different seasonings which there is a choice of herb garlic crunch, bakon bits, or smoked paprika crumb. Each one was good, but we all loved the herb garlic crunch the best!

We also all grabbed a shake, completely dairy free, and a side of fries; although I should note they aren't fried but baked and at the counter you can choose how you want it salted! I almost forgot we snuck in some onion rings too, they are also baked and not fried. If you like onion rings I would definitely try them, the batter was nice and flaky perfect when dipped in the vegan mayo!


There is a breakfast menu, a kids menu, and a short selection of desserts. Which I will have to maybe try next time I visit, because we were absolutely stuffed and couldn't eat another bite!

We only tired a percentage of the menu, please go check it out for yourself because there is more then what is shown here! If you do go I would love to hear your thoughts - leave a comment below or find me on social media and send me a message!


If you would like to learn more about Miami Burger UK visit their website www.miamiburger.co.uk!

Miami Burger UK
The Oracle Shopping Centre,
10 Broad St, Reading RG1 2DP
0118 950 7337

Opening hours
Monday–Saturday 08:00 to 21:00
Sunday 09:00 to 18:00


* I invited myself to Miami Burger! I was curious as I have been vegan now for a couple of weeks it was nice to be able to go out and not have to stress about the menu and figuring out what I could or couldn't eat. It was a lovely visit; it was busy and just had a nice atmosphere. I will be visiting again even if I don't continue being a vegan because the food was good!

** I wish my photos did the food justice!

My Top 5 Vegan or Plant Based Cookbooks (Veganuary)


There are many different reasons someone might want to be a Vegan, a term that was coined not all that long ago for people who don't eat anything that comes from an animal; some vegans even cover everyday products as well. But a group of them got together and said hey let's make January Veganuary, let's give people the information that shows how being vegan can benefit you and the world, and let's show them how it's not all that hard! 

That isn't what this post is all about and as I am a newbie to this Vegan stuff and honestly probably not all that qualified to give it. If you are looking for more of that information veganuary.com is a good place to start. 

This post is to show the four new cookbooks I picked up and one I already had living on my shelf. I don't need much of an excuse to buy a new cookbook, but I think learning to cook and eat a plant based diet is a pretty good one! 

The first two books I picked up were Bosh! and Feed Me Vegan for All Occasions, shortly followed by a much recommended book The Green Roasting Tin and then of course Leon's newly released Fast Vegan. It's early days, but I have already tried a few recipes from the these books as well as read them almost cover to cover .... only picked up Fast Vegan a couple days ago. 


Bosh! 

by Henry Firth & Ian Theasby 
- At first glance you wouldn't even know this book was plant based the recipes are all ones you probably recognise! It isn't until you look closer you see the differences and by differences I mean one glaringly obvious difference and one slightly less so. There isn't any meat in any of the recipes, but more so there isn't any dairy. There are dairy substitutions when needed and it's when you recognise that you recognise what this book is all about. 

I think this is my favorite out of the ones I have, I have already tried two of the recipes and bookmarked more! I would also recommend this book to any one of any diet because you don't need a label to use this book! It literally has everything you could want from a cookbook.

Want to learn more about Bosh! - visit their website bosh.tv 



Feed Me Vegan for All Occasions

by Lucy Watson
- One of my secrets is that I used to watch a lot of Made in Chelsea, not as big of fan now, but love the older episodes because of the people on them, including Lucy Watson. I follow her on social media and she talks a lot about her vegan lifestyle and it's always made me curious. So, it was a no-brainer for me to pick up a copy of her book. This is actually the second book, the first I flipped through at the store and nothing grabbed my attention like it did in this one. So, having to watch my wallet as I don't live in Chelsea I just bought the one. 

What I liked about this one compared to the others is that most of the ingredients and recipes are straight forward. These are the recipes I will be using when needing to make something quick, delicious, and fuss free. She also includes weekly meal planner to help those just starting out and a section on vegan pet food. 

Want to learn more about Lucy Watson's Feed Me Vegan - follow Lucy on social media 
writing this it is 99p on amazon kindle 



The Green Roasting Tin 

by Rukmini Iyer
- This was recommended by two people I follow on instagram (I live on instagram so if you don't follow me already - go do it I will follow back if you make yourself known to me) one a vegan and another a vegetarian. Both parents that have busy lives with kids and jobs and lives... I already said lives. Although the recipes may take longer in the oven there is little to no prep. Just throw it in the tray and pop in the oven, do chores, helps kids with homework, read a book, drink a cuppa or whatever and let the oven do the work and still have a delicious tasty meal on the table! 

This is one of those books that suits anyone's lifestyle and any time of year. The book is broken down first into Vegan and Vegetarian and then the recipes for each are broken down by speed: Quick, Medium, Slow. You just can't go wrong with this one! Bonus for me was the infographics showing how to combine/cook different vegetables. I am a sucker for a good infographic though. 



Leon: Fast Vegan

by Rebecca Seal, Chantal Symons & John Vincent 
- One of my favorite cookbooks is my Leon: Family & Friends cookbook. Already a company that values good food, not just good as in tastes good because that you can get a lot of different places, but food that tastes good and is good for you. They have restaurants across the UK and several cookbooks and it's natural after publishing Fast Vegetarian that they would go that step further with Fast Vegan! 

This book I only picked up recently as it was only published recently so haven't read through the whole thing like I have the others, I'm about half way and it's everything I expected and more. I can't wait to try some of the recipes from this book. 

Want to learn more about Leon visit their site leon.co 


Last but not least a book I have had many years now - 


Ms. Cupcake - The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town! 

by Ms. Cupcake aka Melissa Morgan
- I had a friend who was allergic to dairy and eggs and never could enjoy cake. There was no way I could allow that! And it was that thought process that lead me to think: well vegans don't eat dairy or eggs so what do they do for cake? It was when this book came to my life. There are not words to express how great this baking book is.

If you live in London you can just visit her shop, but if you don't then I suggest you pick up this book. I have made cupcakes and muffins and various other things that all turned out great for me! I also met Ms. Cupcake at the Cake & Bake show years ago. Being Vegan isn't just about eating vegetables - which sounds so very boring - but it's being aware of what you are eating and the bigger picture of where our food comes from and how it's produced. 

Want to know more about Ms. Cupcake and the delicious treats visit her site mscupcake.co.uk 


> These cupcakes were made from a recipe from Ms. Cupcake for my daughter's birthday as my vegan friend and her son were attending and not a single one of the party goers realised they didn't have any eggs or dairy in them! 


Last note - It's interesting how we use meat as the focus of our meals and vegetables as a side dish. These books, even if you aren't vegan, are a great way to look at vegetables as the star not as a side act. I may not continue to be strictly vegan after the 31st of January, but I know I will be adding recipes from these books to my repertoire from now on.

I hope to share a bit more on here this month as I attempt a vegan diet/lifestyle. Anything you'd like to see or that I should try let me know in the comments! 

*all books were purchased by me - all opinions are my own please see contact/policy page for more information

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