Butter Bean Dahl

Monday, 29 August 2016

I love making dahl because of the amazing flavours, but also because it is so easy, only taking about 10 minutes of prep and then it's just a case of leaving it to cook away. The beans and lentils make this a really satisfying and filling meal while the tomato sauce and spices give it a lovely flavour. It's really delicious served with rice but I quite often eat it on its own for lunch because I just love it so much! 

You will need (serves 4): 
1 tin butter beans (400g)
1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (made using 1/2 a veggie stock cube)
1/2 cup red lentils 
1 onion
1 carrot 
1 courgette
10-12 cherry tomatoes 
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules 
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence 
1 teaspoon paprika 
2 teaspoons gram masala spice blend 
a large handful of spinach 

- Finely chop the onion and chop the carrot and courgette into chunks and the cherry tomatoes in half. Drain and rinse the butter beans in cold water and leave to one side. 
- Fry the onion in a little hot water in a large pot for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat. 
- Add the carrot, courgette and cherry tomatoes to the pot and mix everything together. 
- Add the tomato puree, herbs and spices and fry everything together for a further 2-3 minutes, adding extra hot water if needed so the veggies don't stick to the bottom. 
- Put the vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes, butter beans and lentils into the pot and mix everything together. 
- Bring to the boil and then reduce to a low heat and allow to simmer for 40-45 minutes. 
- Stir through the spinach a few minutes before the end of cooking. 

Edinburgh Vegan Festival 2016

Thursday, 25 August 2016

On Saturday, I went with two of my lovely vegan friends to the Edinburgh Vegan Festival and it was incredible. There was so much vegan food and products - vegan eggs that actually looked like eggs (crazy, I know), salted caramel filled donuts, cakes, 'meat', daim bars, chocolate, ice cream, cheese... the list goes on. It was vegan heaven. 

This was the first time I had been to a vegan festival having only been vegan for around six months now. I've been to the vegan market in Edinburgh before and the vegan fete in Glasgow but the festival was on a whole other level. I really couldn't believe the amount of things on offer, there really was everything you could imagine. It was also so great to see some of my favourite vegan businesses and to discover new ones too. 

It was so wonderful being somewhere where I could eat anything without having to ask any awkward questions. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many like-minded people and in such a happy and inspiring atmosphere. I think it's also one of the only times I have actually been really happy to see somewhere so busy. The only vegan friends I have are people I have met online so to actually be in a place where everyone understands and is passionate about this lifestyle was just great. 

After a walk around the stalls, we headed into one of the talks that were on by a wonderful lady called Fiona Oakes. I'd never heard of Fiona before but wow is that woman incredible. She holds three world records for marathon running; runs an animal sanctuary for over 400 rescued animals that would otherwise likely have been killed; is a firefighter; and has been vegan since the age of six. She runs marathons to raise awareness of animal welfare and veganism and to prove that being vegan does not make you weak, which she does despite a knee injury. I was absolutely in awe listening to Fiona talk. She is such an incredible person and so, so inspiring. Everything she does is for the animals, she puts them above everything else and would do anything for them. If you haven't heard of Fiona before then I'd definitely recommend heading over to her website and reading a little about her, she is one vegan that everyone needs to know about and I am so pleased I had the opportunity to hear her speak. 

For lunch, we got falafel wraps from Sharaf and they were so yummy! I love falafel wraps but this may have been one of the best I've had, the wrap was so thick and big, filled with salad, falafels, and sweet chilli sauce. So, so good! Sharaf makes packs of falafel mix that you can make at home by adding water but unlike some pre-packed foods they contained only natural ingredients that you recognise with no nasty additives. I'm not sure why I didn't buy a pack to take home, I think I was too excited by eating it then and there that it didn't even cross my mind. I'd definitely recommend it though if you see the mix in the shops. 

And, of course, I got lots of treats to take home. A salted caramel donut and a chocolate bar from ConsiderIt Chocolate, a peanut butter cupcake from Missy's Vegan Cupcakes (aka, the best vegan cupcakes ever), a Shire Snax bar that tastes like Christmas, and an almond and raspberry brownie from All About Patisserie, which may be the best vegan brownie I have ever eaten. I definitely could have bought more but tried to control myself as best I could!

The festival was so wonderful and I felt so inspired walking away. I've said this before but going vegan is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made and events like this really do show how amazing it is to live this lifestyle and how easy it can be. So many people still think that being vegan is hard and that just couldn't be further from the truth, in this country anyway. There is pretty much nothing that you can't get a vegan version of, there's so much variety and incredibly delicious food out there. Thank you vegan festival for coming to Edinburgh and organising such a great event! I am already excited for next year.

Vegan. There's no excuse not to. 

Berry Overnight Smoothie Oats

Monday, 8 August 2016
Berry Overnight Smoothie Oats

I love this breakfast so much right now! I got the idea for it one night while I was trying to get to sleep and thinking about the next morning's breakfast, as I usually do while trying to get to sleep. Does anyone else think the best thing about going to sleep is that when you wake up it's breakfast time? I've made overnight oats lots of times and always really love them so I thought why not try making overnight oats but with a smoothie instead of plant milk? I definitely felt like a genius for this idea, although I have since seen a few similar things on Instagram... I'm still proud though as I did think of the idea before seeing anyone else do it so to me it's original.

This recipe is made with a banana and berry smoothie but you could use any smoothie you like. It's so good and is perfect for when you know you won't have a lot of time in the morning as all the prep is done the night before. You can make it in a jar and just grab it out of the fridge in the morning to take with you. It's also like summer's answer to porridge, and if you're a regular reader then I'm sure you know how much I love porridge by now so you'll know how happy I was when I came up with this one! It's so refreshing and always fills me up until lunch. I hope you will love it too - I'd love to know how it turns out with some other smoothie flavours too so drop me a comment below if you try it. 

Berry Overnight Smoothie Oats

You will need (serves 1):
1 ripe banana
6 frozen strawberries*
a handful of frozen raspberries*
1/4 cup soya milk
1/2 cup oats
2 teaspoons chia seeds
fresh fruit to top

*I use frozen berries because they are cheaper but fresh would work perfectly too. 

- Mix the oats and chia seeds together in a bowl.
- Pop the banana, strawberries, raspberries and soya milk together into a blender and blend until smooth. 
- Pour the smoothie over the oats and chia seeds and mix together.
- Cover and leave in the fridge overnight to set.
- Serve topped with fresh fruit in the morning. My favourites at the moment are peaches, berries or apple chunks.

Berry Overnight Smoothie Oats

Things people ask when you go vegan

Monday, 1 August 2016
Things people ask when you go vegan | vegan food collage

Sometimes I feel that telling people you are vegan is actually harder than being vegan. It can be a little intimidating at first because oh-my-god people are going to ask so many questions and wonder what on earth you are even doing with your life, but you kinda get used to it and some of the responses can be quite funny (or a little bit worrying). I've been vegan for around four months now so most people in my life know about my lifestyle change, here are some of the questions they asked when I told them...

Vegan? What's that? 

Yup, there are still people who aren't really sure what a vegan is. I've just kind of always known but there are some who have never come across the term, or who just aren't sure what it actually means. This question gives you a wonderful opportunity to let people know why you are doing what you are doing and to raise awareness of the vegan lifestyle. Some won't understand but others will be super interested and intrigued about it, which is always a really lovely feeling. And even if people can't understand your choice, at least they are now aware of the lifestyle and what it means. 

What's wrong with being vegetarian? 

There's nothing at all wrong with being vegetarian. I was vegetarian for about six months before deciding to go vegan. I think it just depends on the person. Being veggie is wonderful and by making that decision you are making a huge difference to the lives of animals, the planet and yourself. While I was veggie, though, I started looking more into the vegan lifestyle and realised that for me, vegetarian wasn't enough and that I wanted to do more. I knew from what I'd learned that I just couldn't support the dairy and egg industries any longer and so I made the change. For others, they are content with being vegetarian and that's okay too. In fact, I'm a pretty firm believer that everyone has the right to eat exactly how they choose without question or being made me feel guilty. Always do what's right for you but always respect others choices too. 

Vegan, really? 

This one hurt a little. I almost felt like I was being looked down on, like I was being ridiculous making by this choice. What you will realise though is that some people just don't get it and perhaps never will. Yes, really, I am vegan and, for me, it's the best decision I've ever made. You'll find that sometimes being a vegan means standing your ground, knowing your facts and being able to fight for what you believe in when others try to put you down or make you feel bad. 

Can you just not be vegan for a day so we can go to this restaurant? 

Um, no... I got this one when I mentioned to a friend that I was vegan now and so would need to check the menu before going to make sure there was something I could eat. She then asked if I could just not be vegan for a day so we could go. I never said I couldn't go, just that I wanted to make sure they would be able to make me something first. Eating out as a vegan can be a little difficult, depending on where you go, but almost always they will be able to make you something so it's not a huge deal. You wouldn't ask someone who was vegetarian to eat a steak so why should it be any different for vegans?

But you still eat eggs, right? 

Nope. No eggs. Being vegan means not eating anything that comes from any animal, so although eggs aren't dairy they are still not vegan. I never really liked eggs anyway though so I wasn't too upset about this one.

But omg, cheese. I couldn't live without cheese. How can you give up cheese? 

Cheese used to be one of my absolute favourites so I totally get where this question is coming from. I used to think 'oh god, I could never give up cheese', but it's actually a whole lot easier than you might think. After a few weeks of eating vegan, I didn't crave it anymore and had pretty much forgotten all about it, of course, that was until I tried vegan cheese because, wow, that stuff is good. So, actually, you don't miss out at all. One thing you will find with being vegan is that there is an alternative to almost every single thing out there - think vegan burgers, cheese, ice cream, chocolate, pizza... you really never miss out.

What's the strangest thing you have been asked as a vegan?