Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Monday, 27 June 2016
Vegan Curried Sweet Potato Soup

I first tried curried sweet potato soup a few months ago when I was on a little overnight stay with a friend. We came across a lovely cafe in a tiny village, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It was the cutest place, filled with vintage decor, bright colours, and a really homely atmosphere. The soup of the day was curried sweet potato and it was the most delicious soup I'd tasted in a long time, the contrast between the sweetness of the potato and the spicy Indian flavours from the curry was just wonderful and I knew I had to try recreating it at home.

I love this soup and have been making it every few weeks. I sometimes eat it by itself with some bread as a lunch, but more often I eat it as a dinner, adding rice, broccoli, sweetcorn and spinach to it. That maybe sounds a little odd but trust me, it is so good! It also works out to be a really cheap meal as the ingredients are so basic, and you probably have all the spices and herbs in your house already so you just need to pick up the veggies. It makes a huge pot too so it will last you for the whole week, or you can freeze it and use it at a later date. 

Vegan Curried Sweet Potato Soup

You will need (serves 6):
2 large sweet potatoes
3 carrots
1 onion
1/2 cup red lentils
7-8 cups vegetable stock made with 1 1/2 stock cubes (add more water if you prefer a thinner consistency of soup)
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
ground pepper to taste

- Cut the sweet potatoes and carrots into largish chunks and finely chop the onion.
- In a large pot, fry the onion in a little water for 2-3 minutes to soften it.
- Add the stock, sweet potatoes, carrots, lentils and herbs and spices to the pot and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 40-45 minutes.
- Using a hand blender, blend until smooth. If you find the soup is too thick for you then add some extra water.

Vegan Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Vegan Favourites #1

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Hello, and welcome to my first vegan favourites post! I love watching vegan favourites videos on YouTube but as I am no video maker I thought it would be a nice idea to start making regular little posts on here about the vegan products I have been loving recently. Since becoming vegan, I feel like I am discovering so many wonderful products and also being pleasantly surprised that some of the products I already loved are actually vegan too. Finding all these new brands and products to fall in love with is making me so happy so I really want to share a little of the love on here and hopefully give you all some ideas for some great vegan products you can buy, use and also fall in love with. 

Original Source 

I've always loved Original Source products, mainly because they smell so incredible, but until going vegan I had never actually clocked the little vegan symbol displayed proudly on the front of their packaging. All of their products are vegan, not tested on animals, contain only natural ingredients and smell like heaven. Finding out these products are vegan was definitely a highlight and I know I will be using a lot more of their range now that I know. Their new shower milk range looks so wonderful too so I can't wait to try that!

Lush Herbalism 

I've tried quite a few of the Lush face and body scrubs now but I think Herbalism is my favourite so far. It's not too rough in texture so is more of a gentle scrub, which makes it perfect for using on your face. I love using this every night, it makes me feel so clean and fresh. This one contains rice bran and ground almonds to act as the exfoliator along with nettle and rosemary extracts. The ground almonds create a smooth milky feel when mixed with water so it feels wonderful on your skin. I was using the Let The Good Times Roll scrub before I got this one, which although smelled incredible, I found it to be a little too rough for using on my face so Herbalism is a much gentler alternative.

Salt of the Earth Deodorant 

I swapped to using a natural deodorant a few months ago now and I can hand on heart say that I have never looked back. I wrote a full post about this over on my lifestyle blog which you can read so I won't go into too much detail here but it's just wonderful. I use the Salt of the Earth one which is totally vegan-friendly and I love it. I've struggled with a skin condition that affects my underarms for years, which was part of the reason I wanted to try a natural deodorant, but I'd also been reading a lot about all the harmful chemicals that are in deodorants and how they can affect your skin. Since using this I've had no problems at all. I was a little sceptical at first as it is completely unscented so I wasn't convinced I actually had any on, and how can a natural crystal act as a deodorant anyway? But it does actually work, even for going to the gym and working out. I'll never go back after using this, it's become a firm vegan favourite.

Missy's Vegan Cupcakes 

Okay, this one is probably only going to be of interest to people who live in Scotland, sorry! These cakes were just too good not to include in this post though. This month I went to the Flying Duck Fete in Glasgow for the first time, which is held once a month and involves a lot of seriously yummy vegan cakes. Missy's Vegan Cupcakes was one of the stalls and all the cakes looked incredible. It took me a long time to choose but I eventually decided on the peanut butter cupcake (no surprises there) and oh-my-god, it was the best cake I have ever eaten ever. I was so upset I only bought one because I could easily have eaten 10. I'm definitely going to become a Missy's stalker, following them around everywhere they go to buy all the vegan cakes. If you live near to Glasgow or Edinburgh you need to check them out! They go to the Flying Duck Fete every month in Glasgow and also the Leith Market Vegan Quarter every month in Edinburgh, plus a few others listed on their Facebook page. SO GOOD.

T Plus Teas

I've loved these guys for a while now so they absolutely had to feature in my first vegan favourites post. T Plus make green teas which are filled with vitamins and different fruity flavours. I never used to be a fan of green tea but after discovering this brand through Twitter I have become a total convert, swayed by all their fruity flavours. My favourite one is the orange and blueberry but they are all so yummy. And, they contain 50% of your RDA of essential vitamins, including B12, so they are extra vegan-friendly - yay! I also guest blog over on the T Plus website once a month so be sure to pop over to read my posts (and buy lots of tea) - this month I'm sharing my tips on how to drink more water this summer.

Vegan Aminos 

Vegan Aminos is a vegan community-based app that I have recently fallen in love with. It's basically a whole lot of passionate vegan people coming together and sharing their food, recipes, stories, questions, suggestions, advice and love. You have your own profile and can post blogs to it, which can be whatever you fancy - photos, recipes or just text. You can also search for people posting near you which is great for finding other local vegans and you can get involved in discussions, chats and polls. This was one of the first apps I downloaded when I got my new phone having been eyeing it up for ages (my phone before was so old I couldn't download any new apps!). I've just loved speaking to other vegans and getting lots of new recipe ideas, food tips and advice. If you are vegan then this is the perfect app for you! 

What vegan products have you been loving recently?

Banana Granola

Monday, 20 June 2016
Vegan Banana Granola

I think bananas are possibly my most used ingredient. You can just do so much with them, plus they taste incredible and add so much delicious sweetness to things. I also love granola so it was really only a matter of time before banana granola became a thing. Now, I think this may be my favourite granola ever, so much so that since creating this recipe a good few months ago I've constantly had a jar filled with it in the house, baking up big batches when it runs out to keep me going. I really just can't get enough, sometimes I even eat it out of the jar with a spoon because it's that good.

Vegan Banana Granola

You will need (makes one large jar): 
2 1/2 cups jumbo oats 
1/2 cup almonds 
1/2 cup pecans 
1 very ripe banana 
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons maple syrup 
1 cup sultanas (optional) 

- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. 
- Roughly chop the almonds and pecans using a food processor. 
- Add the oats, chopped nuts and seeds to a large bowl and mix together. 
- Mash the banana using a fork and combine this with the maple syrup in a small bowl. Mix until a smooth liquid forms. 
- Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well, ensuring that everything is coated. 
- Split the mixture between two lined baking trays and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, stirring halfway, until the granola is golden brown and crunchy. 
- Leave to cool and then mix through the sultanas if you are adding these.

Vegan Banana Granola

Lentil Bolognese

Monday, 13 June 2016
Vegan Lentil Bolognese

This recipe has been one of my favourites for a long time now. I first made it shortly after becoming vegetarian last year and it's become a regular go-to meal, and luckily it was vegan too so I didn't need to change the recipe at all when I changed my diet. It's one of those ones that I just make time and time again because it's so easy and tastes so good, and it freezes really well so I always make it in big batches and freeze the leftovers in portions for another day. You can serve it with pasta, spaghetti, salad or rice and it makes a really good lunch for taking to work too. I always feel that you can never go wrong with a really hearty and satisfying meal like this one, and I'm sure you've realised by now if you are a regular reader of this blog that I have a soft spot for anything that can be cooked in one pot with minimal fuss, which luckily for me, so many vegan dishes can be.

Vegan Lentil Bolognese

You will need (serves 6): 
1 courgette 
2 carrots 
1 onion 
2 cloves garlic
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes 
5 tablespoons tomato puree
1 cup red lentils 
1 cup green lentils 
5 cups vegetable stock/water (made using one stock cube)
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes 
pepper to taste 

- Finely chop all the vegetables and mince the garlic. 
- Fry the onion in one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute. 
- Add all the rest of the ingredients to the pot and leave to simmer for 45-50 minutes, stirring regularly. 
- Serve with your choice of spaghetti, pasta and veggies. I love mixing a handful of spinach leaves through the sauce just before serving and serving it with lots of spaghetti.

Vegan Lentil Bolognese

Should vegans take B12 supplements?

Thursday, 9 June 2016
Should vegans take B12 supplements?

Vitamin B12. It's something we all need, although it is something that is talked about a lot more among the vegan community because it's the only vitamin that you cannot get naturally from a plant-based diet. Before I started to consider going vegan and began researching more into the vegan lifestyle, I really wasn't aware of vitamin B12, and I'm sure many others aren't too. If you eat meat, dairy and eggs then you will get your B12 from these sources without even realising it. Vegans, on the other hand, don't and so it's something that is a lot more important for us to think about and be conscious of.

I wanted to write this post to try and share a little of what I've learned about B12. There is so much information out there about this vitamin and, like most things, all the guidance tells you different things. I've read a lot and I've pulled this post together using the sources I consider to be the most reliable, plus a little of my own personal experience. I hope it will be helpful, but I would encourage you to go and do your own research too if B12 is something you would like to learn more about. I will leave links to all the sources I have used at the bottom of this post so you can have a look at those too. 

Why is B12 important and where do you get it? 

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in our bodies, including making red blood cells, keeping the immune system healthy and helping to release energy from the food we eat. The NHS list good sources of B12 as being: meat, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, eggs and some fortified breakfast cereals, which of course, aside from the latter none of which us vegans eat. 

The reason for these products containing good amounts of B12 is because it is created by bacteria within the animals bodies. Many animals are also given B12 supplements. Both of these sources then make their way into the animal products that humans eat.

B12 Deficiency  

A deficiency in B12 can make you pretty damn unwell if your levels are dangerously low. Symptoms of B12 deficiency can include: tiredness, a feeling of not having enough energy, a sore tongue, irritability, personality changes and poor memory. Low levels of B12 can also cause anemia, nervous system damage and complications during pregnancy.

Your body can store vitamin B12 for between two and four years (crazy, right?!) so it might take a while for you to show any symptoms of a deficiency after you have changed your diet. Because of this, you might not make the connection between your vegan diet and how you are feeling, so it's super important to start getting good vegan sources of B12 as soon as you change your diet to ensure that you maintain your body's supplies.

Should vegans take B12 supplements?

Vegan sources of B12

The two best ways to ensure you are getting enough B12 as a vegan is to either eat fortified foods throughout the day or to take a supplement of the vitamin. Vegan foods that are usually fortified include non-dairy

There are lots of different types of B12 supplements that you can take whether it be in tablet form, a spray or an injection. I personally choose to take a daily supplement pill, which you can almost always pick up from your local health foods store, alternatively, there are lots of options available online. The ones I buy usually cost around £5 for 100 tablets so they aren't expensive at all, and it is always worth spending money for good health.

A little about my experience 

Before I became vegan (although I had been eating a mostly vegan diet for many months prior to finally cutting out dairy and eggs completely), I went through a period of feeling like I had no energy at all. I couldn't understand what was wrong because I was definitely eating enough and getting enough sleep. After a few visits to the doctor, I was put on iron supplements as my levels were very slightly lower than normal but this made no difference at all. It was only once I started learning more about the vegan diet that I stumbled across the importance of B12 and thought that it was quite likely I was running a little low on the vitamin as I was vegetarian, didn't drink milk or eat eggs and rarely ate cheese or yoghurts, and had eaten a diet like this for over a year. I started taking a supplement a few months ago and I actually do feel quite a bit better now. I wouldn't say I am 100% where I would like to be but I definitely feel a lot more energised than I did before. I can't say for sure that it was a lack of B12 that was causing my symptoms as I was never tested but it's really the only thing I've changed so it must have had a little something to do with it. I'm totally no expert though. 

So, B12 is pretty bloody important and is definitely something that vegans need to be aware of. It's nothing to worry too much about though as it is easy to get enough and put your mind at ease. The main thing is that you are taking steps to keep your levels up in whatever way works best for you.

What are your thoughts on B12? 


The information contain within this post was gathered from the following sources as well as from my own personal experience: