Vegan cookie discovery!

Breakfast

Toast with loganberry jam, fruit

This was the amazing loganberry jam made by my Nan which really brightens up any breakfast.

Lunch

Hummus and tomato wrap, fruit

This was one of the Warburton’s square wraps (wholemeal), which I find make great sandwiches. Sliced tomatoes are always a really good addition to a hummus sandwich as they add a nice burst of juiciness.

Dinner

Green lentils with pine nuts, spinach and kiwi

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This is a nice quick dish for a tasty protein boost. It works well served with pitta breads or tortilla wraps.

Ingredients for green lentils with pine nuts, spinach and kiwi (serves 2):

– 2 ripe kiwi fruits

– 2 medium shallots

– 2 cloves garlic (crushed)

– Olive oil

– 1 medium packet of spinach

– 1 tin of green lentils

– ½ packet pine nuts

Method:

1. Peel and chop the kiwi fruits, then set aside. Finely chop the shallots. Heat a good splash of olive oil in a pan and add the shallots and garlic. Sautee gently until the shallots are semi-transparent but not brown, stirring constantly.

2. Stir in the lentils and spinach, plus a splash of water. You may need to add the spinach in batches, waiting for one lot to wilt before you add in the next lot.

3. Stir in the pine nuts and continue to simmer for another 5 mins or so, stirring frequently. You may like to add a little more olive oil before serving. Once it’s been served, top artistically with the chopped kiwi fruits!

Dessert

Apple, chocolate chip cookies

To my great excitement, I’ve managed to find some animal-free chocolate chip cookies. They’re hobnobs, and have dark chocolate chips. They ‘may contain traces of milk’ but I tend to ignore this (my reasoning being that buying such products does not give funding to the dairy industry). They’re extremely nice, as you can imagine!

Why animal-free means less washing up

Breakfast

Wheat biscuits, grapes, soya milk

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A nice energising breakfast that will hopefully keep you going until lunch.

Lunch

Hummus and salad sandwich, grapes

Not the most creative sandwich ever recorded but nice all the same!

Dinner

Peanut and broccoli noodles, salad

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This is a good recipe (please click here to see) for creating a tasty, nutritious dish with a minimal amount of effort. It’s also a good washing up saver, as you can do the whole thing in a single pan. Although saving on washing up isn’t one of the most compelling reasons for going animal-free, vegan dishes rarely use more than two pans (very often just one) and you’ll never be cleaning off anything truly revolting- only plants!

 

How to pretend you’re on holiday

Breakfast

Muesli, blackberries, soya milk

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This is normally a really great combination but the blackberries were unbelievably bitter! I was suspicious when I saw that they had little purple patches but decided to be optimistic and give them a go. My optimism was not rewarded.

Lunch

Hummus sandwich, fruit and nut mix, strawberries

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This was a really nice light lunch, and the fruit and nut mix made quite a healthy crisp alternative.

Dinner

Spaghetti with herbs, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. Salad (with dried cranberries and more pine nuts)

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I’m lucky enough to have some amazing ingredients at the moment as my parents have recently been on holiday to Italy and brought me some fabulous edible presents. The spaghetti, herbs and olive oil were all Italian and really did taste special. Even if your ingredients are from the UK (as mine usually are), this is a bit like the Italian spaghetti with oil and garlic dish so you might just be able to pretend you’re on holiday!

Ingredients for spaghetti with herbs, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes (serves 2):

– 150g dried spaghetti

– Olive oil

– 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)

– A generous sprinkle of dried herbs (e.g. oregano)

– Pine nuts

– Cherry tomatoes

– Rocket

1. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the spaghetti, along with a splash of olive oil. I always find it easiest to break up the spaghetti (although this is probably very un-Italian). Simmer for around 10 mins until tender, stirring occasionally.

2. When the spaghetti has about 5 minutes left, heat a good splash of olive oil in a separate pan and add the garlic and herbs. Sautee very gently over a low heat without allowing the garlic to  go brown. After a minute or two, add the pine nuts, rocket and tomatoes.

3. When the spaghetti is tender, stir into the sauce and enjoy.

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Dessert

Time for another blogging confession I’m afraid. I’m running a few days behind and can’t remember what I had for dessert! Fruit and dairy-free chocolate is probably the most likely option and I’ll be catching up on myself at the weekend.

How to create an addictive salad

Breakfast

Muesli, soya milk, grapes

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Not all that creative but reasonably nutritious and very nice. Apologies for the slightly excessive amount of soya milk which rather ruins the picture!

Lunch

Hummus and cucumber sandwich, nuts, fruit, Nakd bar

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A bit more conventional than the previous day’s hummus and beetroot sandwich but it worked well. The green nuts are wasabi peanuts, which are seriously hot but very nice.

Dinner

Courgette and tomato croustade. Pear, watercress and walnut salad

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If you want to prepare a special meal with a minimal amount of effort then a croustade is a good choice. Despite the offputtingly fancy name, it’s actually reasonably fuss-free. The croustade base is essentially a veganized version of a Rose Elliot recipe (with a few extra changes), although the sauce is my own recipe (all three ingredients!) and I’ve used roasted veg to replace the asparagus topping in the original. The salad is seriously quick and pretty addictive (probably something to do with the very sweet walnuts).

I must admit, this isn’t a particularly cheap meal, although I’d imagine it’s much cheaper than e.g. creating a roast dinner for 4 people. Most of the options in this blog are pretty low-cost, but this is more of a special occasion type meal.

Ingredients for courgette and tomato croustade (serves 4):

– 4 large courgettes

– Olive oil

-100g white bread with the crusts removed

-100g ground almonds

– 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)

-100g vegan margarine

-100g pine nuts

– A generous handful of cherry tomatoes

For the lemon and tarragon sauce:

– 1-2 small cartons of soya cream

– A good sprinkle of dried tarragon

– Juice of one lemon, zest of 2

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to gas 7 (220). Slice the courgettes into rectangles, lay out on a baking tray and add a good drizzle of olive oil (mix in with your hands if possible). Roast until tender (around 30-40 mins), turning once and adding the cherry tomatoes about 10 mins before the end. When the veg is ready, remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven down to gas 6 (200).

2. Meanwhile, place the bread in a large mixing bowl and tear into small pieces. Add the almonds, garlic and margarine. Mix with a spoon/your hands to form a sticky dough, then mix in the pine nuts. It will feel implausibly buttery, but don’t worry- this is normal!

3. Lightly grease a flan tin (smallish size). Press the dough in so it’s fairly even and bake for around 20 mins until golden.

4. Meanwhile, place the soya cream in a pan and add the other ingredients. About 5 mins before you are ready to use it, heat it up gently. You may want to warm the veg up in a pan too.

5. When the croustade is ready, remove the side of the tin (don’t panic if it crumbles a little!) then top with the veg. Serve with the sauce.

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Ingredients for pear, watercress and walnut salad (serves 4):

– 1 medium sized pack of walnuts

– Maple syrup (agave syrup is a cheaper option which you can buy in the supermarket)

– 1 packet of watercress

– 1 tin of pears/ 3 ripe pears

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to gas 7 (220). Lay the walnuts out on a baking tray and drizzle some syrup over the top. Mix in with  your hands. Roast for about 5-10 minutes, keeping a very close eye on them to avoid a burnt walnut disaster (never fails to cause extreme annoyance!). Remove from the oven and set aside.

2. Place the watercress in a bowl, then add the pears and walnuts.

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A sandwich that should never work

 Breakfast

Porridge with soya milk, golden syrup and blueberries

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An irresistible breakfast choice that might actually be quite healthy if it wasn’t for the golden syrup!

Lunch

Hummus and beetroot sandwich, nuts, fruit, Nakd bar

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This is another surprising sandwich filling that sounds odd but actually works really well. You literally just make a hummus sandwich and add slices of cooked beetroot (i.e. the vacuum packed kind). Without subjecting you to a dull flavour analysis, I’d imagine it’s the slightly sweet taste of the beetroot that goes nicely with the savoury hummus. Just to balance out the healthiness, I also had some salt and vinegar peanuts (available in Sainsbury’s).

Dinner

Chickpea salad, crusty bread

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I was in the slightly ridiculous situation of finishing lunch at about 4pm again, so opted for a late and fairly light dinner. To make the salad, I just put some watercress in a bowl, then added a few spoonfuls of chickpeas (from a tin), cherry tomatoes and a handful of raisin and nut mix, plus a drizzle of olive oil. It worked really well, especially with a par-bake baguette.

Dessert

Neapolitan ice cream

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I’ve been eating this a bit too regularly but it is very good. It’s the Swedish Glace brand, and you can buy the Neapolitan flavour in large Sainsbury’s stores or health food shops. Even if you’re not in one of these places, ice cream loving vegans rarely have to miss out, as even small supermarkets tend to stock at least one flavour of Swedish Glace. Failing that, sorbets are normally dairy-free, so it’s unlikely you’ll ever have to go without a sugary frozen dessert!

How to veganize a traditional English side dish

Breakfast

Muesli, soya milk

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This is a great option if you’re in a hurry as it doesn’t even require any toasting. This time I added a sprinkle of Maple Sunrise cereal for added sugariness.

Lunch

Bagel with avocado, tomato and vegan mayo, nuts, blueberries, sesame snaps

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This is another variation on the avocado-based sandwich filling. Chopped cherry tomatoes are a good addition, as the juiciness goes nicely with the creamy avocado. Cucumber is another good choice for creating a similarly juicy result. Sesame snaps are definitely addictive and their lightness makes them a tempting way to satisfy your sugar cravings!

Dinner

Falafel, sweet potato mash, salad

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The plan was to bake the sweet potatoes, but decreased time and increased hungriness resulted in a definite shortcut. Any kind of mashed potato makes a great side dish, but sweet potatoes have an especially lovely flavour. Whether sweet or standard, mashed potato doesn’t need dairy to make it creamy as you can stir in vegan margarine and/or soya cream for delicious results. I cooked my sweet potatoes in veggie stock for added flavour but this isn’t crucial. I didn’t have any vegan sausages to make the traditional English classic, so opted for some falafel instead. Falafel is generally a pretty reliable vegan staple, although the Cauldron Moroccan Spiced Falafel Bites do have honey in. I used Tesco’s own brand of frozen falafel which is an ideal ingredient to stow away for emergency meals. The dips (essential for falafel) were hummus and Vegan mayonnaise (the Plamil brand).

Dessert

Chocolate soya dessert, blueberries

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I just put one of the Alpro soya desserts into a vaguely attractive pot and topped it with some fresh blueberries. The Alpro soya desserts are one of my favourite products and you can find them even in small supermarkets, next to the gluten-free products. Unfortunately the photo is rather dominated by the blueberries, but the chocolate dessert was very noticeable at the time of eating!

A vegetable that deserves the lead role

Breakfast

Muesli, soya milk

Always a good breakfast for generating maximum morning energy.

Lunch

Bagel with avocado, cucumber and vegan mayo, nuts, sesame snaps, fruit

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Although traditionally more of a sandwich component than a filling in its own right, chopped avocado can work really well as the main focus. I just toasted a sesame seed bagel, spread it with soya margarine, then topped it with avocado, cucumber and egg-free mayo, plus a good sprinkling of black pepper (essential in my opinion). If you’re a regular reader, you’re probably sick of hearing about where to get egg-free mayo (I use it rather a lot), but you can buy it in health food shops (including Holland and Barrett), or on Goodness Direct. This is a great option for a substantial sandwich, although you’ll probably need a knife and fork to eat it with. Just a word of warning though- I don’t think it would travel well as avocados turn offputtingly brown at an alarming rate!

Dinner

Aubergine and lemon pasta, salad

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This is a really delicious dish that only needs a minimal amount of effort. It’s pretty much just a case of of putting an aubergine in the oven, cooking some pasta and throwing together a quick sauce. For the full recipe please click here.

Dessert

Neapolitan ice cream

This exciting variety of vegan ice cream is made by Swedish Glace and sold in large Sainsbury’s stores as well as health food shops. It’s much lighter than dairy ice cream (so you may find yourself getting through large quantities!).