How a virtually empty cupboard can make a great meal


Blueberry bagel, banana, grapes

The expanding New York bagel range  is definitely great news for vegans. The blueberry ones are a good alternative if, like me,  you don’t have much time to make vegan blueberry muffins.


Hummus and tomato sandwich, salted nut mix, fruit, cranberry flapjack

Afternoon fuel in animal-free form and pretty tasty too. I know unsalted nuts are healthier, but they’re so much more inviting with salt on….


Apple and raisin dhal, mini chilli crackers. Dessert: vegan chocolate (mandarin and ginger), grapes

This is where the empty cupboard comes in. In the outer reaches of South London, there seems to be a mixture of no food shops, or huge supermarkets where a shopping trip turns into a long-distance walk, especially if you don’t know where anything is. At least that was my excuse for cooking supplies being rather thin on the ground; I just couldn’t face a trek round the village-sized Morrisons with a heavy bag.

Fortunately though, the bare essentials of a store cupboard will make you a tasty vegan meal.

Ingredients for apple and raisin dhal (serves 2):

– 1 onion

– Some vegetable oil or a spoonful of vegan spread

-1 mug of lentils (see picture)

-2 mugs of veggie stock

-1-2 garlic cloves (crushed)

-1 apple

-A few raisins or sultanas (but don’t go overboard on these or the sweetness will dominate)

-Optional: fresh herbs (e.g. parsley), sunflower seeds, soya cream or yogurt

 This is the mug I used. Larger than a teacup but not a coffee bucket.

This is the mug I used. Larger than a teacup but not a coffee bucket.


1. Chop the onion and rinse the lentils. Chop the apple and set aside.

2. Melt the spread in a pan or heat some oil. Add the onion (or about four shallots) and sautee until it goes transparent.

3. Add the lentils, stock, garlic and parsley. A little later on, add the raisins and apple. Stir regularly as lentils are prone to sticking to the pan.

4. Simmer until the lentils are tender and a lot of the liquid has been absorbed (but without letting the mixture dry out).

5. If you have it, add a little soya cream or yoghurt and stir in. Allow to cool before serving, as the flavours are easier to appreciate when  it’s not boiling hot.

The dhal makes a filling meal without being too heavy and the lentils are a great source of protein. Chilli crackers are a nice spicy accompaniment, but you could have pitta bread if you feel the need for something more substantial.



Dessert brings me on to the vast subject of vegan chocolate. The range is overwhelming, and some of it very cheap. Even Sainsbury’s now do their own range of vegan chocolate, so you don’t even have to venture into a health food store (where vegans often go to buy chocolate)! If you like milk chocolate, try the Moo Free range. You get the feeling that some of the marketing is aimed at lactose-intolerant children, but it’s cute and I confess to purchasing a Mikey Bunny Easter egg this year. For a real treat though, I haven’t found anything that beats the Booja Booja truffles. I know I mentioned Animal Aid yesterday, but as it so happens, they sell Moo Free and Booja Booja chocolate on their website and both brands have been approved by non-vegans 🙂


2 thoughts on “How a virtually empty cupboard can make a great meal

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