Why being vegan doesn’t stop you eating pizza

Breakfast

Wholegrain malties, soya milk

A repeat of yesterday, I know, but this cereal does make a nice light start to the day. It’s labellled as vegan and available in Sainsbury’s.

Lunch

Salad, pitta breads, fruit, vegan chocolate

These salad pots from the Co-op only cost £1 and make quite a nice lunch if you add some olive oil and have something a bit more filling on the side (i.e. some sort of bread). The vegan chocolate was the Plamil brand which is one of my favourites and can be bought in Holland and Barrett.

Dinner 

Animal-free pizza, salad

You might think that going out for a pizza was something that vegans couldn’t really do, but you’ll be relieved to know that this definitely isn’t the case. Pizza Express have said that their pizza bases are animal-free and they always seem happy to leave the cheese off. It seems that some other pizza restaurants might be equally willing to offer animal-friendly options, and this was certainly the case at Pizza Luxe in Stratford, London. The waitress confirmed that their pizza bases were egg and dairy free and they left the cheese off.  It was a great pizza too- lovely and moist with a spicy tomato passata and lots of veg on top. In fact, a pizza restaurant in Oxford (Pizzeria Trattoria Mario), has a pizza that’s actually advertised as vegan so maybe awareness is growing. I guess the next step would be restaurants adding vegan cheese to pizza, but it’s still pretty nice just with tomato and a veg topping!

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What to ask people to cook

Breakfast

Wholegrain malties, grapes, soya milk

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The wholegrain malties are one of the many vegan cereals available in Sainsbury’s. As long as you don’t mind reconnecting with you childhood (the packaging reassures its consumers that reading is cool), then it makes a nice start to the day.

Lunch

Falafel and hummus wrap, mini chilli crackers

This particular lunch has become a bit of a habit as the wraps are really nice and the mini chilli crackers seem like a great accompaniment.

Dinner

My Grandparents had kindly invited me to dinner and prepared an amazing animal-free meal. As it happens, my Grandparents eat a lot of vegan food and are fabulous cooks so didn’t need any pre-dinner hints, but I thought this great menu would be ideal for suggesting to dinner hosts who aren’t used to preparing animal-free food.

Starter

Orange and radish salad, oatcakes

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Main course

Bean casserole, salad, bread

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Dessert

Fruit

Details and recipes

The starter was really refreshing and made with chopped oranges and shredded radishes. You could use a food processor for the radishes, but I’m sure you could finely chop them instead. The salad also had a tasty dressing which was made from soy sauce and olive oil.

The bean casserole was delicious- so many amazing flavours. Thank you to Muriel for letting me post the recipe 🙂

Ingredients for scrumptious beans (serves 2-3):

– 1 red pepper
– 1 onion
– 1 garlic clove
– 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 tin of tomatoes
– 1 tin of red kidney beans (pref in water)
– Big handful of mushrooms
– Sultanas
– 1 tsp mild curry powder or paste
– 2 tablespoons mango chutney
– Pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper

Method:

1. Wash the pepper in cold water, remove stalk, scrape out seeds and cut into small chunks. Peel garlic and onion and chop into chunks.

2. Cook these ingredients in the oil for about ten minutes, stirring well to prevent sticking.

3. Prepare the mushrooms by cutting a thin slice off the the stalk, wipe with damp kitchen cloth and then chop any old how (!).

4. Rinse kidney beans, shaking well. Now add the mushrooms, beans and everything else. When well heated turn heat right down, put on  lid and cook very slowly for about an hour, stirring occasionally..

5. Serve with crusty bread and crisp salad.

The lovely bread was from the Co-op bakery and had olives in. If bakery products have a label listing allergens, this should tell you whether they’re vegan or not as egg and dairy will appear on the allergen list (and you’d hope that bread is free from meat/fish derivatives and honey).

Fresh fruit is always a lovely dessert. We had different coloured grapes which were really sweet and came from a market stall.

Snacks

Just a little vegan chocolate (not the height of healthy snacking I know)! This was mint chocolate (the Plamil brand), which you can buy in Holland and Barrett.

A Sunday roast with a difference

First of all, apologies for the lack of pictures. I don’t have my camera with me and can’t upload them. They will be added at a later date!

Breakfast

Sesame seed bagel with jam, mango, melon

Although they’re great with vegan ‘cream cheese’, sesame seed bagels are also ideal for jam. I find it’s always nice to have a bit of fruit for breakfast as it helps to give you a reasonably healthy sugar boost.

Lunch

Roast vegetable tortillas, lime and ginger dip, salad, tortilla chips, hummus

Roasting vegetables is a great way to create a plant-based Sunday roast. If you prefer something closer to the meat-based version, Redwood do a vegan celebration roast which comes complete with ‘sausages’, ‘bacon’ and ‘gravy’, all in animal-free form. I’ve never tried it but it looks pretty good. You can order one at Goodness Direct (please click here to see).

The lime and ginger dip is really lovely for drizzling over the top of the tortillas.  It’s seriously easy to make- you just add about 2 tsp of lime juice to around 100 g vegan mayonnaise along with around 1 tsp of finely grated  root ginger. It’s satisfyingly tangy and refreshing. You can buy vegan mayonnaise from Goodness Direct or from various health food stores. This was the Plamil brand, which also makes great vegan chocolate.

Dessert

Strawberries, fig and dark chocolate

You can’t go wrong with the combination of fresh fruit and dark chocolate. The fresh figs were left over from Friday, as they seemed to have appeared in Tesco and are a really unusual and lovey tasting fruit.

How to veganize two traditional English favourites

Breakfast

Fruit pot

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This wasn’t a sudden drive for healthiness but I knew I’d be having an early lunch so decided to stick to something light. I just used up some mango and melon that I had in the fridge and it made a surprisingly filling breakfast.

Lunch

‘Cream cheese’ and tomato bagel, crisps, fruit, cocoa and orange Nakd bar

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Since discovering this lovely vegan ‘cream cheese’ (the Tofutti brand), it has become a bit of a lunchtime staple, especially on a bagel. A few basil leaves always go well with cherry tomatoes, and you can even add a drizzle of olive oil for the full effect.

Dinner, 

Vegan Sausage Rolls, homemade chips, salad

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These sausage rolls are seriously easy to make using Jus’ Roll puff pastry and vegan sausages. These ones puffed up a little over enthusiastically and ended up looking more like hot dogs, but they still tasted great- really light and crispy. For the recipe, please click here.

I must admit that homemade chips aren’t ideal for anyone in a hurry but they’re definitely worth making every now and again as they taste really special. If you never have time (and I know many people don’t), then it’s pretty easy to get frozen chips that are vegan. To make homemade chips for three people, just peel four potatoes and slice them into chip shapes. Brush them generously with rapeseed or olive oil, lay them out on a baking tray and roast them on gas mark 8 (230 C) for about an hour, turning them at least one. They’re lovely with some malt vinegar drizzled over them.

Dessert

Vegan trifle

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Continuing the with the veganization of traditional English food, this is a lovely dessert that couldn’t be easier to make. You can buy great vegan jelly in Holland and Barrett (please click here to see), and I personally find that the Alpro brand of soya custard has the best taste (you can normally find this in the supermarket). The jelly sets fairly quickly, but I’d suggest making it at lunchtime (or earlier), if you’re aiming to have the trifle that evening. Once the jelly has set, you can just top it with some soya custard. Vegan chocolate buttons are ideal for a finishing touch and you can find these in the ‘free from’ section of supermarkets (i.e. along with all the gluten free products).

How to make a great dish from spare veg

Breakfast

Muesli, soya milk

This breakfast seems to have been on repeat a bit too often this week so I’ll be sure to branch out in future!

Lunch

Wholemeal sandwich thins with salad and hummus, crisps, figs, peanut bar

I’d say that the Warburtons wholemeal sandwich thins are even nicer than the white ones and presumably a healthier choice. They’re ideal for making a light sandwich. I just spread them with some soya margarine and hummus, then added some chopped cucumber and cherry tomatoes for a bit of refreshing juiciness. The result was really tasty, although I’d suggest using at least two sandwich thins to ensure sufficient levels of afternoon fuel.

Fresh figs are definitely worth splashing out on if you can find them as they really do taste special. These ones were from Tesco, but I’m not sure that they’re in stock on a permanent basis. The peanut bar was the Cofresh brand, and you can usually get them from the World Food section of supermarkets or from AMT coffee stalls. They’re basically just sugar and peanuts, so delicious but probably not ideal for teeth.

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Dinner

Mediterranean pasta, salad

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This was basically a version of Mediterranean tagliatelle, but I used fusilli rather than spaghetti and added in some celery. This recipe is extremely quick and good for finishing up any spare veg. It also has a really lovely flavour and tastes a bit like something you might get in Italy.

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Dessert

Ginger and chocolate brownie, melon

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This was another of the sticky chocolate brownies. They certainly keep really well and maintain their sticky texture. Apologies for the melon arrangement- I had envisaged something slightly less naff but this is how it turned out. It didn’t affect the taste though and melon and ginger is definitely a winning combination.

Snacks

Banana

It’s amazing how a single fruit can make such a great snack that’s ready-wrapped in eco-friendly form!

Sticky chocolate brownies: 100% plant

Breakfast

Muesli, soya milk

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Always an energising start to the day!

Lunch

Couscous salad, apple

The couscous salad was from Marks & Spencer, which shows how easy it is to eat animal-free food on the move. This was the salad with wheatberries and butternut squash, but you can also get a couscous with roasted veg that seems to be vegan. M&S seems annoyingly fond of adding honey and yogurt to foods that would otherwise be animal-free, but nice vegan options are available, even at tiny branches. Rather an expensive lunch solution I know, but quite nice to splash out every now and again.

Dinner

Sweet potato and carrot crumble, cucumber, hummus

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This shows how a few simple, low budget ingredients can make a lovely dish with a delicious taste. I must admit that the chopping provides you with a bit of a workout, but after that it’s pretty easy going and mainly just a case of vaguely monitoring some veg while it simmers. Please click here for the recipe.

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Dessert

Chocolate and ginger brownie

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This recipe has been veganized from Blissful Brownies, a Marks & Spencer cookbook (excessive promotion of M&S an accidental feature of today’s post!) In fact though, I just needed to use vegan margarine instead of butter so I can’t really claim any great work of veganization. The results are satisfyingly rich and sticky, and you’d never know that they were 100% plant.

Ingredients:

– 4 pieces of stem ginger in syrup (I used the Opies brand, which you can hopefully find in the home baking section of supermarkets)

– 225g plain flour

– 1.5 tsp ground ginger

– 1 tsp ground cinnamon

– 0.25 tsp ground nutmeg

– 115g brown sugar

– 115g vegan margarine

– 115g golden syrup

– 100g dark chocolate

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to gas 2 (150 degrees). Grease a baking tin with some extra vegan margarine (I normally use a square tin for these).

2. Finely chop or grate the stem ginger. Sift the flour and spices into a bowl, then stir in the stem ginger, followed by the sugar.

3. Melt the margarine and golden syrup in a pan, then stir into the flour mixture.

4. Roughly dice the chocolate and stir that in too. Press the dough into a tin and cook for 30 mins.

Although this is fairly quick for a brownie recipe, it’s obviously not instant. If you don’t have time for baking, a good option might be the Vegan Cakery which has an incredible range and offers mail delivery. I’ve sadly never tried their cakes, but they certainly look delicious. Maybe I’ll have to make an order in the name of research!

Snacks

Rice coated peanuts, apple

You can buy the rice coated peanuts in Tesco and they’re seriously addictive. They’re also a nice crisp alternative to have with a sandwich.

‘Buttery’ baked potatoes the plant based way

Breakfast

Peanut butter bagel, nectarine

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This was a nice combination of sweet and savoury flavours, and bagels are really light but also give you plenty of energy to start the morning.

Lunch

‘Cream cheese’, tomato and basil bagel, crisps, fruit

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The second bagel of the day I know, but I think they’re reasonably healthy. Tomato, basil and olive oil is a lovely combination of flavours that makes you feel a tiny but like you’re on holiday in Italy.

Dinner

Jacket potatoes, tomatoes, beetroot, avocado

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Hopefully this picture shows that an animal-free diet doesn’t stop you enjoying ‘buttery’ baked potatoes! This was the Pure brand of vegan sunflower margarine which also comes in soya form. I find that both the soya and sunflower margarines are great for spreading, baking, and sauteing veg if you don’t have any oil to hand. They have a really good flavour that’s actually quite ‘buttery’ and seem to be readily available in Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

The pear and walnut salad looks really impressive and tastes great but actually takes hardly any effort to prepare.

Ingredients for pear and walnut salad (serves 3):

–  1 packet of walnuts

–  Maple or agave syrup

–  1-2 packets of rocket salad

–  3 fresh pears  (or one tin of pears)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to gas 6 (200 degrees)

2. Drizzle some syrup over the walnuts and use your hands to mix it in. Spread the walnuts out on a baking tray and roast for about 5 mins until golden.

3. Meanwhile, put the salad in a bowl, chop the pear and mix in. When the walnuts have finished roasting, sprinkle these over the top and serve.

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Dessert

Alpro soya dessert, biscuits

Not the healthiest dessert on record but it was nice! The biscuits were the Tesco fruit shortcake ones which seem to be surprisingly vegan.

Snacks

Fruit flapjack, apple

This was a flapjack from the Blackfriars range which seems to include a lot of vegan options. I would say that they’re the next best thing to homemade.