Vegan Sausage Stew

Monday, 23 October 2017

It's been a pretty long time since I last posted a recipe on here. That's the thing about having a blog, sometimes you're absolutely full of motivation and are banging out post after post, and other times you just aren't. Recently, I've been on an extended phase of the latter. As much as I love my blog, I also love being outdoors and exploring new places, seeing friends and family, and reading, so while I've been making more time for those things, this little space has been a bit neglected. I really wanted to share this recipe with you today, though, because it's such a comforting and hearty meal, which is exactly what we need at this time of year. Coming home to this after a long walk out in the cold is just wonderful. 

You will need (serves 4-5) 
1/2 a butternut squash (or one small one)
1 carrot
1 courgette
1 onion
1 leek
2 handfuls spinach
2 cloves garlic
4 vegan sausages (I use Linda McCartney's vegetarian sausages)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g tin mixed pulses or beans
1/4 cup red lentils
2 cups vegetable stock (I made this using 1 teaspoon of Marigold vegan bouillon powder)
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon vegan worcester sauce
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon sugar

- Finely chop the onion and garlic and chop the squash, carrot, courgette, and leek into small chunks.
- In a large pot, add a little water and fry the onion, garlic, carrot, and leek for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the herbs, spices, and sugar and fry everything for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Add the stock, squash, courgette, lentils, and beans along with the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, and worcester sauce.
- Put a lid on the pot and leave to simmer over a low heat for 40 minutes.
- While the stew is cooking, cook the sausages according to packet instructions so they are ready at the same time as the stew.
- Chop the sausages into chunks and add to the pot along with the spinach and cook everything together for a further 10 minutes.
- Serve with mashed potato or rice.

The Vegan Treaterie

Monday, 18 September 2017

Today we're talking about biscuits, specifically, The Vegan Treaterie's cookies and shortbread, which I have definitely fallen a little in love with.   

The Vegan Treaterie is a small business started by Madi who, after moving to the UK from NZ in 2015, fell into our very British obsession with tea and biscuits. You can't blame her really because who doesn't love a good cup of tea and a biscuit? Vegan biscuits aren't difficult to find - I mean Oreos are pretty much everywhere, however, the market was somewhat lacking a really good quality vegan biscuit brand, which is where The Vegan Treaterie was born from. 

With cookie flavours including chocolate and peanut, ginger and walnut, and pistachio and lemon; and shortbreads flavoured with lemon, spices, and salted chocolate, The Vegan Treaterie is shaking up the biscuit scene, which is so often forgotten about in favour of donuts and cakes (not that I'm complaining). All the biscuits come in really cute tins too, making them perfect for giving as a gift, something other vegan biscuits are definitely lacking. 

Madi so very kindly sent me two tins of her lovely biscuits to try after I discovered her Instagram and went on a bit of a liking party, commenting how incredible I thought her treats looked. She sent me a tin of the ginger and walnut cookies and one of the salted chocolate shortbread. Let me tell you, when you open a package and are greeted with the wonderful sweet smell of homebaked biscuits, you know what's inside is going to be good.  

The cookies were divine; crunchy but with a bit of a chew, as all good cookies should be, and delicious. The shortbread was also lovely but let me just preface this by saying vegan shortbread is damn hard to make and I think Madi has done a really good job, but as a Scot, it wasn't shortbready enough for me - that melt in your mouth, crumbly goodness just wasn't there. However, it tasted amazing and it took much restraint not to eat the whole tin in one go. 

So, in summary, I'm really loving The Vegan Treaterie and can't wait to get my hands on more of their biscuits (and probs give them to all my friends and family this Christmas...)! 

*Madi very kindly sent me these biscuits to try but, as always, all opinions, thoughts, and gushings of love for delicious vegan food are my own. 

Asparagus and Broccoli Pasta Bake

Monday, 19 June 2017

This is a recipe I created for the lovely girls at Turah Magazine. The first issue has just come out and it's a truly beautiful piece of work which I am so happy to of been a part of. Turah is all about promoting mental and physical wellbeing and focuses on things like mindfulness, ethical consumption, good food (maybe I'm bias), art and exercise. The magazine is filled with beautiful illustrations, insightful words and a whole lot of positivity. I just love it. If you're in Edinburgh or Glasgow look out for this little gem floating around as it's well worth a read if you can get your hands on a copy (plus it's free!). But, in case you can't pick up a copy, the team have so very kindly let me share the recipe here too so I hope you will enjoy it!

You will need (serves 2):
around 24 spears of asparagus
1 head of broccoli
2 cups pasta

for the sauce
3 tablespoons vegan butter 
3 tablespoons plain flour 
2 cups soya milk 
1/2 cup nutritional yeast 
1 teaspoon dijon mustard 
1 teaspoon onion granules 
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules 
a little salt and black pepper to season

for the topping 
1 slice of whole wheat bread 
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast 

- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. 
- Snap the woody end off the asparagus - bend it until it snaps and the bottom piece that snaps off is the woody bit you don't want. 
- Lay out the asparagus on a lined baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of black pepper. Pop in the oven to roast for 10 minutes. 
- While the asparagus is roasting, put the pasta onto boil for 10 minutes and then start making the sauce. 
- In a pot, melt together the vegan butter and plain flour until it forms a paste. Gradually add the milk to the pot in small amounts, stirring well, to make a white sauce. Do this until all the milk has been added. 
- Add the rest of the sauce ingredients to the pot and mix well. Set aside until everything else is ready. 
- Add the broccoli into the pasta pot two minutes before it has finished cooking to part cook this. 
- Remove the asparagus from the oven and chop up the spears up into chunks. 
- Drain the pasta and put it back into the pot. Add the asparagus and pour over the sauce. Mix well until everything is covered in sauce. 
- Transfer the pasta to an ovenproof dish. 
- To make the topping, add the slice of bread to a food processor and pulse up into breadcrumbs. Stir through the nutritional yeast and use this to top the pasta bake. 
- Pop in the oven to bake for 15 minutes at 180 degrees celsius. 

Spicy Tomato Beans

Monday, 12 June 2017

Gosh, it's been a while since I posted a recipe on here but I found myself kind of lacking in food inspiration for a little while there, favouring old favourites over experimenting with new things. However,  I'm back with a good one to make up for it. This spicy bean dish has become a regular occurrence over the past few weeks and I don't see myself stopping making it anytime soon. I love it with black beans the most and I've also used pinto beans with the same delicious result, but you could really use any beans you have and I am sure it would turn out wonderfully because the flavours from the sauce and other ingredients are just so good. I think the secret is the tomatoes - definitely use piccolo ones if you can find them, they totally bring this dish to the next level, along with my new found love of jalapenos. 

You will need (serves 2):
1 pack (220g) piccolo cherry tomatoes
1 400g tin black or pinto beans
2 finely chopped sundried tomatoes 
4-5 finely chopped slices of jalapeno 
1 teaspoon paprika 
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules 
1/2 teaspoon onion granules 
1/4 teaspoon caster sugar
2 tablespoons tomato puree
a pinch of salt and black pepper 

- Chop up the cherry tomatoes into quarters and drain and rinse the beans. 
- Add the tomatoes to a frying pan with a little hot water and cook for 4-5 minutes over a medium heat.  
- Add the tomato puree, paprika, garlic, onion, sugar, salt and black pepper to the pan with a little more hot water to make a paste. Stir in the sundried tomatoes and jalapeno slices and cook everything together for a further minute. 
- Finally, add in the beans and 1/2 cup of water. Using a fork, mash up about a third of the beans into the mixture and then leave to simmer for 20 minutes over a low heat. 
- Serve with rice and veggies or add to a wrap with salad. 

Vegan Favourites #3

Monday, 22 May 2017

Since my last vegan faves post was back in November (oops), it is definitely time for a little run down of all the wonderful vegan products I am totally into at the moment. Vegan life is pretty damn good, especially because there are so many amazing brands and people out there making the best vegan products (accidentally or not!). These are just a few of the products I've been loving recently... 

Taylors of Harrogate Rose Lemonade Tea

You know, I never used to like herbal or fruit teas that much but since giving up coffee I just can't get enough. This rose lemonade gem is my fave at the moment. The flavour is so delicate yet strong and totally has a summer vibe. I reckon it would be really good iced too, I need to try that. 

The Herbivore Kitchen

Alison who runs The Herbivore Kitchen (previously known as All About Patisserie) seriously makes the best cakes ever. There hasn't been a single thing I've had that she made that hasn't been out of this world delicious. I think the sticky toffee pudding is my favourite, closely followed by her brownies, and then everything else. She's based in Edinburgh so if you're in the area then definitely check her out for all your vegan cake needs.

Eat Real Cheddar and Jalapeno Quinoa Puffs  

My boyfriend and I are obsessed with these crisps. We only know one shop that sells them and we will, and have, driven all the way there just to get them. They are really similar to wotsits but bigger and a whole lot tastier, with a delicious and super moreish jalapeƱo kick. All of Eat Real's products are incredible but these puffs are definitely top of the table for me. I'm craving them just writing this.

Vivani Rice Chocolate 

This chocolate is divine, and perhaps the best 'vegan but tastes like regular chocolate' I have come across. Normally I wouldn't spend so much on a plain chocolate bar but the packaging is so pretty that it totally sucked us in and I am so happy it did. Made with rice milk powder instead of milk and with hints of hazelnut and vanilla, this chocolate is so heavenly and kinda reminded me of the Milka chocolate I used to love. It's seriously good vegan chocolate - if you spot it you definitely need to try it because it is totally worth the money. (Sorry I don't have a pic of the bar, but it's linked above). 

Pacifica Island Vanilla Perfume 

I fell in love with this perfume quite a while ago after trying some in a store and I was lucky to get some for Christmas (I know we're in May now but this is my first vegan faves of the year). I can't even tell you how good it smells, I adore it. There are lots of other scents too, and Pacifica also does skincare, makeup and candles, all of which is vegan and cruelty free. 

Sam Murphy's So Beautifully Real Cookbook 

I wrote a whole post about this wonderful book a while ago but it definitely needed to be mentioned again because it is so great. I am currently in love with the banoffee porridge parfait (pictured above) and have made the satay tofu quite a lot of times. This book would be a perfect gift, it's beautifully put together and demonstrates just how much incredible food you can eat as a vegan.

What are your fave vegan products at the moment?

Banana and Blueberry Bread

Monday, 1 May 2017

It takes a lot of effort for me to be able to make banana bread; not because it is difficult or time consuming, but because I never have enough ripe bananas to make it. Ripe bananas in my house tend to be used up in smoothies or in porridge long before banana bread even crosses my mind. So, if I do want to bake a banana loaf I tend to have to buy extra bananas and put them aside especially for the occasion, resisting all temptation to eat them sooner when I've run out of beautifully ripe ones. It's always absolutely worth it though as banana bread is definitely one of my favourites.

You will need: 
dry ingredients 
2 cups plain flour
1 cup golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

wet ingredients 
3 super ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/2 cup almond milk

1 cup frozen blueberries

- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix well.
- In another large bowl, mash up the bananas using a fork and then add in the vanilla, coconut oil and almond milk. Mix well until combined.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently fold to combine.
- Mix through the frozen blueberries.
- Transfer the mixture into a lined and greased loaf tin and bake in the oven for 55 minutes to 1 hour.

Five podcasts you need in your life

Monday, 10 April 2017

I used to be one of those people who thought that podcasts were for total losers. Like, no way would they ever catch on; who wants to listen to stuff when you can watch stuff? Turns out I couldn't have been more wrong because podcasts are totally my new thing. I am so sorry I ever doubted them because they really do make my life (and gym sessions) a hell of a lot more interesting. The wonderful thing is, when you get into a pod that's been going for a while you get binge listen back to all the past episodes and it's just the best thing ever. So, if you're a pod skeptic or are just looking for a new listen, here are five I'm totally hooked on at the moment.

This is the podcast that got me into podcasts. If you've had enough of all the nutrition BS around, and let's be honest there is a whole lot of that, and want someone who will tell it as it is then you need Laura in your life. Laura is a registered nutritionist and a kickass woman who takes a no nonsense approach to food and nutrition. It's not all about food though, there's also a really strong body positivity vibe and discussions around things like mindfulness, exercise, and the health industry. The pod is all about having conversations with game changers, so basically incredible people who are doing inspiring things, with a whole lot of ranting and humour. Don't Salt My Game is a good all rounder that covers lots of interesting topics and important issues with a good dose of inspiration, creativity, and fun. Would recommend 110%. 

Evan and Hannah are both vegans so obviously that is a huge part of why this podcast is a winner for me. Aside from that though, they speak to some super cool guests and discuss topical issues in a way that makes you feel like you're just sitting having a chat with some good friends. They talk about the things and ideas that have motivated them to lead more compassionate and meaningful lives, ranging from veganism and ethical shopping to parenting and traveling. I always feel really inspired after listening to an ep of this pod so I'd definitely recommend giving it a go. 

If you're a vegan or would like to learn more about veganism then this is a great pod to start with. Filled with info, facts and vegan food hacks (rhyme totally unintended), each episode of the podcast is only around 30 minutes long so perfect for when you want a little burst of decent chat. The VS pod always covers things that are happening in the here and now of the vegan world and will arm you with a hell a lot of good points for when people ask/question/debate you on veganism. I feel like it gives me the ammo I need to talk about why being vegan is so wonderful, plus you'll learn a lot. 

How to live a more meaningful life with less is the tagline of The Minimalists and after watching their documentary I pretty much became hooked on their pod. I find that a lot of my values align closely with minimalism and although I wouldn't label myself one, I am really enjoying learning more about how to declutter my life and mind and focus more on the things that really matter. I urge everyone to give this podcast a go, even if you think minimalism is a load of rubbish. Give it a chance, because these guys speak a whole lot of sense. 

Another vegan one, but it's another good one. Andy and Paul have some great chats, mostly about vegan issues, although that's kinda obvious given the name. I just love listening to people whose values align with mine and who are so passionate about the lifestyle I choose to lead. The Bearded Vegans pod isn't one I listen to that often but when I do it always makes me smile and teaches me something - whether it's 'segans', 'veggans', an argument about the moral case for eating meat (spoiler: there isn't one) or whether we should stop using the word vegan, the episodes are always interesting, topical and pretty damn funny. Definitely one to listen to if you're vegan.

What are your favourite pods to listen to? 

Tuscan Bean and Lentil Soup

Monday, 3 April 2017

Before we get into this week's recipe, I really need to tell you guys about the most delicious vegan afternoon tea I had at the weekend. I went with two of my lovely blogger friends, Charlene and Mimmi, to the Hidden Lane Tearoom in Glasgow to try out their veganised afternoon tea and it was just wonderful. I could probably write a whole post about how good it was but let's just say when you get a stand filled with vegan sandwiches, scones, and cakes it's pretty heavenly. The cakes were perfect (banana, carrot and raspberry flavours) and I honestly think that if they'd given this afternoon tea out to everyone nobody would have known it was vegan, apart from maybe the lack of meat and cheese in the sandwiches. If you're ever in Glasgow the Hidden Lane is definitely worth a visit - you do need to book in advance for the vegan tea though so give them a call beforehand. Plus it was only £12 each which is pretty unheard of for afternoon tea. Yup, I'm going to be dreaming about it for weeks.

Enough talk about cake though, onto soup...

Whatever the weather, soup is always one of my favourite dishes to eat. Call me crazy but even on a really warm summers day I can still enjoy a big bowl of soup with crusty bread. It's just one of those meals that always makes me feel wonderful so I tend to always have some stored away in my freezer for when the soup cravings hit. This recipe is one I am really into at the moment and (as usual) I've made it a lot of times in the past few weeks. It's adapted and veganised from The Soup Book by Sophie Grigson, a book that I used to use a lot but which isn't very great when it comes to vegan recipes. The original recipe uses chicken stock and cheese, and no lentils so I've changed it up a bit but it's still pretty similar to the soup I used to make a few years ago. I love having this one for lunch because the beans and lentils keep me full up for ages, and it's full of veggies so packs in quite a few of your 5/7 a day. Serve with lots of warm crusty bread (optional but totally recommended!).

You will need (serves 4): 
1 onion 
3 carrots 
1 leek 
2 cloves garlic
400g tin borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/3 cup red lentils 
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock (made with 2 stock cubes)
200g spinach 
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
ground pepper

- Chop up the onion, carrot and leek into small chunks. 
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a low/medium heat and add the veggies. Fry for 10 minutes to soften. 
- Very finely chop up the garlic cloves, add these to the pot and fry for a minute. 
- Mash up half the beans with a fork and add these to the pot along with the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, vegetable stock, and lentils. Season with black pepper to your taste. Bring to the boil and then simmer over a low heat for 40 minutes. 
- Add the rest of the beans, spinach and nutritional yeast to the pot and simmer for a further 15 minutes. 

Creamy Coconut and Vanilla Rice Pudding

Monday, 20 March 2017

The memories I have of rice pudding as a child are not the best, probably because it involved the type that comes out of a tin, generally served with fruit (also from a tin) and it's juice which kind of created a weird separation situation between the warm rice pudding and cold fruit juice. I didn't like it. This rice pudding, however, is exactly what I deem to be a bowl of heaven.

Ever since I visited All Bar One back in January to try out their special Veganuary menu, I've been dreaming about their coconut and vanilla rice pudding. The obvious answer would be to go back and get more, and I wish I could, but the delicious dessert was only there for Veganuary and is now gone from the menu. With cravings that could only be solved by creamy rice pudding, I had a bash at creating my own and I am pretty damn proud of how it turned out. I love having this as a lazy Sunday super indulgent breakfast or as a dessert. The coconut and vanilla go so perfectly together and it's just so creamy I kinda can't believe that it is vegan. Topped with a sweet blueberry compote and some coconut and pumpkin seeds, it makes the perfect bowl of deliciousness. You guys are going to love it. 

You will need (serves 3-4):
for the rice pudding 
3/4 cup pudding rice
1 cup tinned coconut milk
2 1/2 cups soya milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons caster sugar

for the blueberry compote 
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 tablespoons water

- Add all the ingredients for the rice pudding into a pot and mix well. 
- Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat right down and simmer for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.
- 10 minutes before the rice pudding is ready, add the blueberries, sugar and two tablespoons of water to another pot and leave this to simmer over a low heat for 6-7 minutes to make a compote.
- Top the rice pudding with the blueberry compote and some pumpkin seeds and desiccated coconut.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous

Monday, 6 March 2017

I'm pretty happy this week because I have the week off work. Not that I'm unhappy otherwise, I'm just really excited about having a little break and getting away for a few days. It's going to be a bit of a digital break too because where we are going has no wifi so it's a good opportunity to just cut off and escape the internet and social media for a while. I'm looking forward to days filled with long walks, evenings spent by the fire with good food and better company, and the absence of the pressures of everyday life and constantly feeling like you need to be doing something. The country is definitely where I feel most at home, walking through beautiful woodland, climbing to the top of hills and seeing the world from above, getting your shoes muddy and being able to find pure silence and peace. The cities may have the best vegan food but the country has the beauty that will forever capture my heart.

This week I thought I would share one of my go-to lunch recipes. Roasted vegetables are such a simple pleasure and this is a recipe I've been making for a while now, and one of my favourites to make in advance to take to work. Make a big batch on a Sunday and you're set for a few days, which is my favourite because ain't nobody got time for prepping lunches every night. If you fancy something a little different this also works really well as a filling for a wrap (I am so into wraps right now), or on the side of a main dish.

You will need (serves 2): 
for the roasted veg 
1 large sweet potato 
1 carrot 
1 courgette 
1 red onion 
2 sweet peppers
mixed herbs 
olive oil 
salt and pepper 

for the couscous 
1/2 cup whole wheat couscous 
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon mixed herbs 
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules 
1/2 teaspoon paprika 
1/4 teaspoon dried chillies
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast 
10 cherry tomatoes 
3 sundried tomatoes
the juice of a thick slice of lemon  

- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. 
- Peel and chop the sweet potato and carrot into small chunks and put onto a baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and mixed herbs and pop into the oven to bake for 40 minutes. 
- Chop up the onion, peppers, and courgette into small chunks and put onto another baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and mixed herbs. Put into the oven to bake for 25 minutes. 
- Once the veggies have all roasted, transfer them into a large bowl. 
- To make the couscous, add the 1/2 cup couscous to a pot with 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Bring this to the boil for 4-5 minutes and then remove from the heat and leave to sit for a few minutes. 
- Add the tomato puree, mixed herbs, garlic granules, paprika, dried chillies, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice to the couscous and stir through with a fork. 
- Chop up the cherry and sundried tomatoes and add these to the large bowl along with the couscous. Mix everything together well.

Blueberry Pancakes

Monday, 27 February 2017

Obviously I couldn't let Pancake Day slip by without sharing another one of my favourite recipes with you guys. My banana and cinnamon pancakes recipe from last year was one of my most popular on here for ages so I'm glad you all seem to love pancakes as much as I do. Perfect for a lazy weekend morning snuggled under a blanket with a cup of tea, pancakes will always be one of my most favourite breakfasts. Blueberry pancakes tend to be my first choice when I decide I want a little something special to start my day and these ones taste just like a blueberry muffin, lovely and sweet with little pockets of blueberries bursting with flavour. I just love them, especially when topped with a lemony blueberry compote and lots of maple syrup. 

You will need (serves 1):
1/3 cup plain flour 
1/3 cup oats 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 ripe banana 
1/2 cup soya milk (or other plant milk)
1/2 cup blueberries 

- Put all the ingredients, except for the blueberries, into a blender and blend the mixture until smooth. 
- Transfer the mixture into a jug and stir in the blueberries. 
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat until hot. Pour the mixture into the pan to make the pancakes. I can usually make two at once but this will depend on the size of your pan. Cook each pancake for 2-3 minutes on each side. You'll know the pancake is ready to flip when lots of little air bubbles appear on the surface. 
- Serve with your choice of toppings and syrup. I like to make a simple blueberry compote to pour over mine - just add a handful of blueberries to a bowl along with a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle of caster sugar and pop in the microwave for a minute. You could also make it in a pot on the stove if you don't have a microwave (I'm just lazy). 

Beautifully Real Food by Sam Murphy

Monday, 20 February 2017

If I was ever to have my own cookbook (a girl can dream), then Sam Murphy's new book is kinda exactly what I would have pictured. It's pretty beautiful and all vegan and it doesn't really get much better than that in my eyes. 

Sometimes I look through recipe books and feel like everything sounds so fancy and a bit too posh for my liking, like it's trying just a bit too hard. I love Sam's book because everything is recognisable, there are lots of old classics, and it just feels really down to earth. There are recipes for 'bacon' and mushroom carbonara, sweet and sour tofu, lemon honey tofu, loaded vegan hot dogs, lots of pizzas and burgers, and cheesy nacho sauce, to name just a few I've been drooling over. Classic faves but with a plant based twist; it's like a guide for how to make all your old favourite dishes vegan. And the thing I love most about this book? Every single recipe has a photo. I don't know why, and I think a lot of people are the same, but I hate when recipes don't have photos, like yea okay I need to know how to make it but I want to see how it looks first.

So far, I've only made two recipes from the book but they've both been really good. The raw cookie dough cereal was divine, although I did end up eating most of the little balls as snacks rather cereal, and honestly, most of the dough just went from the food processor into my mouth... It seriously does taste like cookie dough. I've also made the satay tofu, which was delicious, although it was a little too garlicky for me. I'd just reduce the two cloves to one next time and I reckon it would be perfect for my taste, my boyfriend did love it as it was though. I do love a good peanut satay sauce so as soon as I saw that recipe I knew I had to make it. 

The only thing that really bugged me about the book was some of the words and phrases it used, 'guilt free' and 'real food' being the main ones. We need to stop the whole guilt vibe around food because it's not okay. It comes along the same lines as the whole good foods, bad foods chat. Food isn't good or bad, you shouldn't feel guilty for eating certain foods and view others as innocent. Likewise, what makes some foods real and others not real? How can food not be real? I'm assuming real means filled with lots of fruit, veggies and whole grains, but does that mean than something more processed isn't 'real'. Processed isn't bad, tofu is a processed food and it's bloody amazing. We definitely need some more positivity around food, to stop being scared or scaremongered into believing certain things are good or bad. Eat what you love and stop feeling guilty about it. The book hasn't jumped on the whole 'refined sugar free' trend though, which I am super happy about - check out this post for more 'refined sugar free' ranting. Don't get me wrong, I think this is a fab book, I just have some personal dislike towards certain words surrounding food having been fooled by them before and I think the book would have been able to stand itself without them because it's so great.

Beautifully Real Food is a wonderful book filled with a collection of creative and mouth watering vegan recipes. I know for sure it's going to become a go-to in my kitchen and it's definitely overtaken the other cookbooks I have as my fave. If you want to introduce more plant-based eating into your life, or to show someone just how easy being vegan can be, this is the book to get. 

You can get your hands on this gem from Thursday (23 February) - I'd most definitely recommend it. 

[Beautifully Real Food: Guilt Free, Meat Free Recipes to Indulge in by Sam Murphy. Out on February 23rd, RRP £16.99, Blink Publishing.]

I was kindly sent a copy of Sam's new book to review. As always, all views and opinions on here are totally my own. 

Three Easy Vegan Lunchbox Ideas

Monday, 13 February 2017

I feel like my blog is always lacking in lunch recipes but that's because most of the lunches I make are super simple and totally not blog worthy because they just involve throwing a few ingredients together, or they are dinner leftovers (leftover chilli for lunch is possibly the best ever). I work full time and always bring my lunch with me so I like things that are easy to prep the night before and can be popped into a tub. Nothing fancy, just good filling food. These are a few of the lunches I'm really into at the moment. I kinda go through phases with lunches, I'll find one I really like and keep making it over and over until I can't stand it anymore, hence why soup is taking a backseat at the moment. The hummus sandwich never gets old though, it's amazing and the easiest thing to make ever, especially if you're lazy like me and use store bought hummus - the Tesco organic one is the best.

Rice, Kidney Bean and Broccoli Bowl 

You will need (makes enough for two lunches): 
1/4 cup whole wheat rice
1/4 cup mixed quinoa
1/8 cup pearl barley
1 tin red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 grated carrot
1/3 cup sweetcorn
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 head broccoli
black pepper and chilli flakes

- Rince the rice, quinoa and pearl barley and then put into a pot with around three cups of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes over a low heat until all the water has been absorbed.
- Chop the broccoli into florets and put this into a pot with boiling water. Simmer over a low heat for 2-3 minutes. 
- Transfer the rice and quinoa mix into a bowl and mix through the grated carrot and sweetcorn. Season with soy sauce, a sprinkle of chilli flakes and black pepper.
- Split the rice, beans, and broccoli between two bowls/lunchboxes.

Hummus and Carrot Sandwich 

You will need: 
2 slices of whole wheat bread
1 grated carrot
a handful of cherry tomatoes

- Generously spread hummus onto each of the slices of bread. Fill the sandwich with the grated carrot and some tomato slices. Serve the rest of the cherry tomatoes on the side.

Simple Avocado Salad 

You will need: 
for the salad
1 bag salad leaves (I like the Florette superfood salad)
1 grated carrot
1/4 cup sweetcorn
2 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped 
4 cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
toasted pine nuts and hummus to serve (optional)

for the dressing 
1 ripe avocado
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup water

- Add all the ingredients for the salad to a large bowl and combine together.
- To make the dressing, add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. Top with some toasted pine nuts and serve with a dollop of hummus.

What are your fave lunchbox lunches?

Sneaky ingredients to look out for as a vegan

Monday, 30 January 2017

I found out recently that the M&S veggie Percy Pigs aren't vegan and, I'm not gonna lie, it broke my heart a little. I'd always thought they were vegan and they taste so bloody good. Turns out they contain a sneaky E number, (E901, aka beeswax), disguising their non-veganness in the ingredients. I'm totally not up to speed on all the E's so definitely wouldn't have noticed this on my own (thank you Twitter), so I wanted to write a post with all the ingredients that can sneak into things under names that you wouldn't immediately recognise as being animal products.

We all have slip ups as vegans and that's okay. Don't beat yourself up about it. The thing is, once you make a mistake you know you won't make it again. I might never be able to have those delicious Percy's again but I'm okay with that because I'm not contributing to animal suffering by doing so. I feel like I've said this a million times on here but being vegan is about causing the least amount of harm possible, it's not about being perfect.

Gelatin - derived from animal products and never vegan. Commonly used in gummy sweeties. 

Lactose - a type of sugar found in milk. 

Rennet - this one caught me out back when I was vegetarian as Parmesan and Grana Padano cheeses are produced using rennet, which comes from the stomachs of animals. 

Honey/Beeswax - made by bees, for bees. 

Propolis - also known as bee glue. Contains beeswax and is made by bees. 

Whey - is kind of the leftovers of milk once it's been curdled and strained (gross). 

Casein - a protein that comes from milk. 

Vitamin D3 - often derived from animal products. The only vegan source of D3 is vitashine so unless this is specified then avoid the product. 

Lanolin - also known as wool wax or wool fat, a wax that is found on wool-bearing animals that is used to protect their wool. 

Isinglass - comes from the dried swim bladders of fish, often used for filtering beer and wine.  

Shellac - a resin produced by female lac bugs.  

Cod Liver Oil - it's in the name, comes from the liver of a cod fish. 

Cochineal - a scale insect that is crushed to used to create red dye. 

Bone Char - a material that is produced by charring animal bones. Can be used in sugar production, although this is less common now, and also as a black pigment in paint and ink. 

Pepsin - an enzyme produced in the stomachs of humans and animals. 

Tallow - a form of animal fat. 

Lard - pig fat. 

Down - goose or duck feathers used for insulating purposes, commonly found in jackets, duvets, and pillows. 

And a shit tonne of E's - the main ones to look out for that are never vegan are E120, E542, E901 and E904 but there are lots more that can be derived from animal products. Check out The Vegan Society for more info on these. 

I hope you guys found this post useful! I will try to keep it updated as and when I discover other sneaky ingredients that are not okay for vegans. Let me know in the comments if you've come across any others that I have missed. 

Vegan Lunch at All Bar One

Thursday, 26 January 2017

So because it's Veganuary things are pretty good for us vegans right now. There are lots of two for one deals floating about, new vegan options are popping up and there's a lot of chat going on around veganism. I love it.

Teaming up with Veganuary, All Bar One have created a whole vegan menu for January and they invited me to come and try it. We really need to talk about how good it was because it was seriously good. As I wanted to try pretty much everything, my boyfriend and I got different dishes each course and split them so we got to try two things from each course off the menu. 

For the starter, we had the patatas bravas (mini crisp roasted potatoes with a spicy tomato and red pepper dip) and the crushed avocado and tomato bruschetta topped with kalamata olives. Both were divine, especially the bruschetta, those olives on top were just perfect. We were pretty damn impressed with the starters but actually, by the end of the meal, they turned out to be our least favourite (but still amazing) course. That says a lot for what's to come though...

For mains, we opted for the superfood salad and the kale and hummus flatbread with kale pakora and jackfruit chutney. The pineapple and ginger dressing on the salad was delicious, and although we are pretty sure we got rocket instead of baby kale, it was so good. I really want to recreate this salad at home now because I just loved it. The kale pakora on the other dish was incredible and went perfectly with the jackfruit chutney and hummus. It tasted just like I remember veggie pakora tasting. Also, the flatbread wrap it came in was one of those big thick ones, which are totally the best kind (side note: if anyone knows where I can buy them please let me know!).  

And finally, dessert, forever the best course. We had the coconut and vanilla rice pudding with a blueberry compote and the chilli, chocolate and cardamom cake. The cake was good, especially dipped into the chocolate sauce (although looking back I think you're probably meant to pour the sauce over the cake), but the rice pudding. Oh my god. We need to talk about the rice pudding because it was maybe the best thing ever. It was so creamy, sweet and probably a million times better than any rice pudding I've ever had before. I really liked how they had rice pudding on the menu as well as it's something a little different to what you normally get. Honestly, incredible.

Guys, All Bar One have nailed the vegan food. 10/10, you need to go before it disappears at the end of January, so like this weekend! Some of the dishes are on the main menu, like the superfood salad and bruschetta but the kale pakora and rice pudding, which were the best, won't be around for long (cry). I really wish they would keep the vegan menu all year round, it's incredible and I think everyone would love the food on it, not just vegans.

The only thing I will say is that the main meals are pretty light so probably more a lunch deal, unless you have all three courses (for only £13, by the way). By the end of the meal I felt comfortably full, not like how I usually feel after three courses when I can barely move. Maybe the light mains is a good shout, it just gives you an excuse to definitely have dessert.

All Bar One invited me and a guest along to try their vegan menu but all thoughts, opinions and rants of delicious food here are entirely my own. 

My Everyday Porridge Recipe

Monday, 9 January 2017

This is the porridge I make almost every morning. It's the one that never fails me and the one that is a really good base for pretty much any toppings. I do love a fancy flavoured porridge every now and again, but this is the simple and pleasing one that I always come back to because it is so good. Turns out, cooking the banana into the oats is a total game changer, trust me.

You will need (serves 1):
1/2 cup oats 
1/2 cup plant milk of your choice (oat milk is my favourite!)
1 ripe banana 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

- Add the oats to a pot along with the plant milk, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds and 1/2 a cup of water. Chop the banana into coins and add this to the pot too. 
- Simmer over a low-medium heat for 6-7 minutes until thickened. I usually need to add a little more water as it cooks but this depends on how you like your porridge.
- Serve with all the toppings of your choice. My faves are peanut butter (obvs), frozen berries, banana, maple syrup, almond butter, jam and granola (but not all at once!).

Looking to fancy up your porridge a bit? You might also like these:
Mango, Banana and Coconut Porridge
Apple, Blueberry and Cinnamon Porridge 

Why you should try going vegan this year

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Hey guys and Happy New Year! I'll spare you the 'omg, did 2016 even happen?!' chat because although it was a ridiculously fast year, it was also the year I decided to go vegan, which I'm still saying is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I admit that I used to be a skeptic, one of those types who said I could never go vegan because how on earth would I ever live without cheese. However, I was wrong. It was around this time last year that I started to become interested in veganism. I'd followed a few super cool people on Instagram who were shaking up everything I believed in and I became hooked, drawn in by their knowledge, passion and cruelty free way of living. I watched all the documentaries, read lots of articles and followed inspirational vegan people until one day I thought, I just gonna go for it. I couldn't ignore it any longer and pretend that what I was eating wasn't, in fact, the product of so much suffering.

January tends to be cluttered by diet culture, detox vibes and a whole lot of crap about restriction and how to lose weight. Don't get sucked in by it. It's a load of bull and won't leave you feeling very satisfied or happy. Instead, this year, try going vegan. You don't need to do it straight away, you are allowed to make mistakes and it quite possibly will be the best thing you ever do. Veganism is getting huge making it easier than ever before to dive right in and embrace it. Being vegan isn't a fad diet or a quick fix to lose a few pounds, it's a hugely fulfilling life choice that has so many massive benefits so if you want a goal for this year that really counts then give it a go.

Why you should try going vegan this year:

For the animals.

Because it's not fair for one species to suffer at the hands of another when we know better. Eating meat is no longer necessary. Yes, humans have eaten animals for thousands of years but it is no longer a necessity, we don't need it for survival. We have so much wonderful plant food at our finger tips, food that doesn't cause suffering or harm to animals. We now have a choice. You have a choice. 

To help the planet. 

The impact of animal agriculture on our planet is immense, shocking and completely unacceptable. One of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to go vegan. I'm totally overwhelmed by the damage that livestock farming is doing to the earth, it's heartbreaking. If you want to learn more about why you should most definitely be vegan for the planet then I'd recommend watching Cowspiracy because I can't even begin to get into it here.

For your own health and wellbeing. 

Eliminating animal products from your diet can and does make you feel wonderful. I've definitely found that I have more energy, feel less tired and am just generally happier eating a vegan diet. Plus, there are a shit tonne of actual scientific medical reasons why eating vegan is the best thing you can possibly do for your own health. I'd recommend reading Dr. Michael Greger's Hot Not To Die if you want to swot up on why plant-based diets are pretty much the best medicine going. 

To feel better about yourself. 

There is a certain peacefulness that comes with veganism. A contentment that you are not causing pain or suffering. You are doing such a wonderful thing by going vegan, you deserve to feel bloody fabulous about it, and you will.

To save money. 

Myth buster: being vegan is not expensive. Whole plant foods are some of the cheapest you can buy, especially when we're talking about things like beans, lentils, and rice, as well as fruit and veggies. Yes, I love a bit of fancy vegan cheese or some delicious Fry's chicken style nuggets every now and again but they are not everyday things. Day to day, you'll be eating the cheapest foods going. 

Because you've got nothing to lose. 

What's the worst that could happen? You miss meat? You can't shake those cheese craves? At least you are trying. If at first, you need to stock up on the meat replacements and vegan cheese that's fine because you have stopped causing harm. It can be hard and you will slip up but that's okay. It's a journey and a learning curve. Hell, even if you're eating one vegan meal a week instead of your usual meat and dairy based one then that's a step in the right direction. Being vegan is about causing the least amount of harm possible, it's not about being perfect.

['Animals are not products. Life doesn't have a price.'] 

More on veganism:
Why I went vegan
Things people ask when you go vegan
Is veganism a trend?
Being vegan - six months on