How to liven up a hummus sandwich

Breakfast

Wholegrain malties, banana, soya milk

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Always an energising way to start the day.

Lunch

Wholemeal rolls with hummus and sundried tomatoes, apple, soya yogurt

This is a really great sandwich combination that I’ve recently discovered (although I’m sure it’s not entirely original). As you’ve probably guessed, you literally just spread the bread/rolls with vegan margarine and hummus, then add some sundried tomatoes from a jar. If, like me, you don’t have time to rinse and dry the tomatoes, it’s probably worth using a roll or some crusty bread as flimsier varieties may be subject to sogginess!

Dinner

Broccoli, pumpkin seed  and olive spaghetti, hummus and veg

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This is a super-quick dish that tastes great. Traditional tapenade seems to contain anchovies but Sainsbury’s do a version that’s marked as vegan so is evidently fish-free. It also works well spread on toast (in my opinion at least). Hummus and veg sticks are always a great combination and make a nice alternative to leaf-based side salads.

Ingredients for broccoli, pumpkin seed and olive spaghetti (serves 2):

– 1 red onion

– 1 largish broccoli

– 150g spaghetti

– Olive oil

– 2 garlic cloves (crushed)

– 1 veggie stock cube

– 1 pack of pumpkin seeds

– 2 generous tablespoons of olive tapenade

Method:

1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Meanwhile, chop the onion and broccoli (keeping them separate).

2. When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti along with a splash of olive oil. Simmer until tender (about 10 mins), stirring occasionally.

3. While the spaghetti cooks, heat a good splash of oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic. Sautee gently for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the onion is soft but not brown. Then add the broccoli, stock cube and a generous splash of water. Cover and simmer until the broccoli is tender, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed. This should only take about 10 minutes.

4. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and set aside, then when the broccoli is tender, combine the two. If the broccoli has a lot of liquid left, you may need to drain some of it off.

5. Finally, stir in the pumpkin seeds and tapenade, heating the whole thing through gently and stirring constantly.

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Dessert

Fruit, biscuits

The biscuits were the accidentally vegan chocolate chip hobnobs. They confusingly seem to do both vegan and non-vegan versions of the same biscuit, so I’d suggest just checking the allergy advice section to see whether there’s any dairy (I don’t think they often have egg in).

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How to make a great breakfast without bread or milk

Breakfast

Muesli with soya yogurt, fruit and golden syrup

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This was a bit of an improvised breakfast as I’d completely forgotten to get any soya milk or bread (no idea how!) and didn’t have any obvious breakfast items to hand. This makeshift solution worked really well though and I’d definitely recommend it. I basically just mixed some muesli with soya yogurt, then added chopped fruit (plums and a kiwi) plus a drizzle of golden syrup.

Lunch

Vegan cream cheese and salad sandwich, fruit

Once you’ve opened a packet of vegan cream cheese it’s quite hard not to use it repeatedly in sandwiches as it makes such a quick and easy filling. It’s great combined with tomatoes or leafy salad. I use the Tofutti brand, which you can buy in Holland and Barrett (in plain, garlic and herb or herb and chive flavour).

Dinner

Mushroom pasta, salad

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I had some mushrooms to use up from the previous day’s Bolognese and this is a great recipe for a quick and tasty dinner. You can see the recipe here, although I didn’t use the spinach this time.

A revolutionary way to cook spaghetti?

Breakfast

Wheat biscuits with cranberries and cinnamon, soya milk

I was running a little low on fresh fruit, so opted for this slightly christmassy combination. It worked well though!

Lunch

Braised tofu, tomato and vegan mayo sandwich, fruit

This is a great combination that tastes similar to tuna. For a full explanation, please see the sandwich ideas page and scroll down to braised tofu.

Dinner

Spaghetti with cannellini beans and homemade tomato sauce, salad

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This great recipe comes courtesy of a friend of my Nan’s and is really simple and delicious. I’ve modified it slightly due to lack of time and because I never seem able to follow a recipe without changing it slightly! It includes a nice way to cook spaghetti which saves on washing up and makes it really flavoursome.

Ingredients (serves 2):

– 4 smallish  shallots

– 3 cloves of garlic

– 8-10 tomatoes (vine ripened are a little pricier but much nicer)

– Olive oil

– Mixed dried herbs

– 1 tin cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)

– 100g spaghetti

– 1 Veggie stock cube

Method:

1. Chop the shallots and press the garlic. Chop the tomatoes and set aside.

2. Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a pan and add the shallots, garlic and a good sprinkle of dried herbs. Simmer for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the shallots go semi-transparent (but not brown).

3. Stir in the tomatoes, cover and simmer for about 5 mins, until they begin to form a sauce, stirring occasionally. Next, stir in the spaghetti and cannellini beans, then add a generous splash of water and crumble the stock cube into the pan. Cover and simmer until the spaghetti is cooked, adding more water as needed and stirring fairly frequently. This should take about 10 mins or so. It looks nice served in a bowl and garnished with basil (or a watercress leaf if, like me, you’re running low on fresh herbs)!

Dessert

Blackberries, chocolate chip cookies

I live near a railway bridge where there’s an abundance of blackberry bushes. The fruits vary in quality but probably no more than the ones you buy, so I thought I’d pick my own dessert. They were pretty nice, especially combined with some chocolate chip hobnobs. Confusingly, not all chocolate chip hobnobs are vegan, so do check the packet (the allergy advice section is probably the quickest point of reference) to be sure.

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.

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!).

How to liven up a leafy salad

Breakfast

Wheat biscuits, greengages, soya milk

I clearly need to buy some more breakfast cereals and will be doing so soon! The chopped greengages tasted great, but looked decidedly un-photogenic so don’t appear for that reason.

Lunch

‘Cream cheese’, spinach and cucumber sandwich, apple, flapjack

This was another sandwich using the Tofutti vegan cream cheese (garlic and herb flavour), plus some spinach and cucumber. I used one of the Warburtons sandwich thins again, which are really good for lunch. The flapjacks were one of the Blackfriars range, which includes many animal-free options.

Dinner

Mushroom and Spinach Pasta, salad

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This is always a great dinner if you want something quick and easy but tasty and nutritious at the same time. You can see the full recipe here. I just had a leafy salad on the side with some salted cashews and olive oil to make it more exciting (and less healthy). Other good ingredients for livening up salads include sunflower and pumpkin seeds (especially drizzled with soy sauce and roasted briefly in the oven), sultanas and figs.

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Dessert

Blueberries

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There isn’t always that much room for dessert after a pasta dish, but Sainsbury’s seem to have started doing a Basics range of blueberries which are just as good as the more expensive ones.

A seriously simple spaghetti dish

Breakfast

Toast and marmalade, grapes

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The marmalade was (like the jam), made by my Nan and was really lovely. It had a much more orangey flavour than the shop-bought variety.

Lunch

Pitta with cannellini bean hummus and tomatoes, crisps, apple, biscuits

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You’ll be glad to know that this was the last of the cannellini bean hummus- people must be getting sick of hearing about it! Maybe next time I’ll buy a smaller tin of cannellini beans and bore people less. If you’ve yet to be bored, you can see the recipe here (just scroll down to lunch). The pitta breads were from Sainsbury’s and labelled as ‘Aegean tomato and basil’ (as well as vegan). Despite the slightly pretentious sounding title, they were really nice toasted and spread with some soya margarine and (last mention) the cannellini bean hummus.

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Dinner

Lemon Spaghetti, red cabbage and pine nut salad

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This is a great dish that only uses four ingredients (or five if you’re strict enough to count the oil used for cooking the spaghetti). It has a great flavour and you’d never know it was so simple to prepare. I find that wholemeal spaghetti works really well for this as it’s such a nice light sauce.

I seem to have a huge amount of cabbage left over from the noodle dish I cooked the other day so tried having it chopped up as a side salad with some pine nuts and olive oil. It was pretty nice, although I think red cabbage probably works better as part of a salad than as the sole component.

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Dessert

Sharon fruit, dark chocolate

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I’ve only recently discovered sharon fruits, but they really are lovely. They look really pretty when sliced, and have a very sweet taste with a texture that’s maybe half way between an apple and a pear. These were on offer in Sainsbury’s (3 for £1), so seemed a good dessert  option.

Snacks

Apple, dried figs

The figs were another ingredient left over from the noodle dish I made the other day. I find they make a great snack, although it’s quite hard to stop eating them once you start!