A zero preparation lunch

Breakfast

Peach and apricot balance, soya milk, chopped kiwi fruit

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I think I’ve said before but this is basically just Sainsbury’s own version of Special K which is much cheaper (and just as nice in my opinion). The kiwi fruits are finally starting to ripen, and it was really nice to have one chopped up on cereal. I usually have the ‘light’ version of the Alpro soya milk, but this morning I had the ‘original’ and I noticed it was much ‘creamier’. For this reason, I’d say it’s a more advisable choice for people who are making the transition from dairy milk.

Lunch

Rye bread with banana, pretzels, dried mango

This is a great packed lunch that never really has to be prepared. Just bring a few slices of rye bread, a banana and a knife. When it comes to lunchtime, just chop the banana, put the banana slices on the rye bread and enjoy. The sweet banana and strong grainy rye taste go really well together. This worked especially well with the lovely sunflower seed rye bread that my grandparents bought  me, but I think any rye bread would be fine.

In amongst the crisps, you can usually find mini pretzels, which make a nice change and feel at least slightly healthier, even if they do have grains of rock salt  on them. In fact, the ones I had today weren’t that mini at all but were still light enough to enjoy with some bread. The dried mango was fair trade (another item in the amazing goody bag from my grandparents) and makes a really delicious dessert or snack.

Dinner

‘Creamy’ rice with marinated tofu, salad

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I have to admit that this is still a recipe under construction. It made a very tasty and satisfying meal, but I need to tweak the finer points. Whilst I love marinated tofu (it’s absolutely delicious with salad in a wrap or pitta bread), I think a plainer tofu would have worked better in this particular dish. I felt that the marinated tofu trampled over my carefully concocted blend of flavours, whereas a plainer variety would have been more respectful. Here’s the recipe so far, and I’d recommend giving it a go but sticking to a plainer tofu.

Ingredients for ‘creamy’ rice with marinated tofu (serves 2):

– 140 g rice

– 1 onion (or about 4 shallots)

– A small piece of lemon grass

– 2 garlic cloves

– A few coriander leaves

– Olive oil

– Some plain, firm tofu (maybe half a block)

– 1 small carton of soya cream

Method:

1. Rinse the rice, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and simmer until tender (I used wild rice so this took longer, but I’d imagine other rices would take around 15-20 minutes).

2. Meanwhile, chop the onion, peel and crush the garlic and finely chop the lemongrass. I’m not that familiar with lemongrass, but I treated it like a leek, going for the middle part and this seemed to work well. Chop the tofu and set aside.

3. Heat a good splash of oil in the saucepan and add the onion, garlic, lemongrass and coriander. Heat very, very gently (it will burn easily) until the onion is tender and transparent, but not brown.

4. Add the tofu and continue to stir fry for a minute or so. Add the cream, then drain the rice and add that in too. Simmer until the whole thing is hot through (about 5 mins) and serve.

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I just had a pea shoot salad on the side, topped with some Bombay mix as I thought something slightly spicy would go well. I also finished up a couple of ryvita mini crackers left over from yesterday.

Dessert:

Apple and cinnamon pot

A few days ago I recounted an unfortunate dessert ruined by ‘garlic mango’ resulting from the sloppy practice of using the same chopping board for everything. Whilst it’s something that vegans can do without danger of food poisoning, instances of unpleasantly savoury fruit become a very real possibility. My grandad (who happens to be a fantastic carpenter) read about the garlic mango and kindly made me a beautiful chopping board especially for fruit. It’s too nice to chop on really, but I will anyway!

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The apple I used was a little sharp (Sainsbury’s Basics range), but it made a refreshing dessert  when combined with some raisins, cinnamon, golden syrup and apple juice.  The outdoor background isn’t wholly truthful as I took a couple of pictures, sat down and then decided that I just couldn’t endure the cold. A typical summer evening in the UK.

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I don’t usually mention drinks (tea, coffee, diet coke, juice etc.) but I think the really lovely fair trade cocoa I had after dinner tonight should be an exception. This was yet another item from yesterday’s amazing goody  bag, and I had it with a few squares of dark chocolate (even if the necessity of eating chocolate with cocoa is slightly questionable). I didn’t have a saucepan for heating soya milk (I’m not yet very well equipped, as you’ve probably gathered), so just mixed 1-2 tsp of cocoa with a good splash of soya milk and 1tsp of sugar, then added hot water. The result was lovely- smooth and nice and strong.

Snacks

Spare piece of rye bread, pumpkin seeds

Just a piece of rye bread left over from lunch and some spare seeds. It sounds unbelievably healthy but it’s just what I happened to have in my bag.

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How to start the day softly

Breakfast

Breakfast muffins with jam, tinned mandarins

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Breakfast muffins are yet another great choice for a soft and delicious start to the morning. Some of them do have milk in, but the Sainsbury’s Basics ones are definitely suitable for vegans and they’re just as nice as any of the more expensive ranges. I find that strawberry or raspberry jam is the perfect filling for white muffins. The tinned mandarins were left over from yesterday’s dessert, so I thought they’d be good as a source of early-morning vitamins.

Lunch

Spicy potato and chickpeas, a little rye bread, carrot batons, piece of flapjack

I thought that last night’s dinner would make an upmarket potato salad that would be ideal for lunch. It was certainly nice enough, but having experienced the hot version, I have to admit I was slightly disappointed. All in all, I think this dish needs to stick to being a creative comfort food that’s eaten hot, rather than developing a dual identity as a potato salad. The carrot batons were nice to eat on the side, but I found that the rye bread was rather surplus to requirements so only had a small piece. The flapjack was another member of the Blackfriars range (this time date and walnut).

Tea

Khobez with avocado and peppers, crisps

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As mentioned yesterday, khobez are a plain but very nice type of Arabic flat bread. Another of my avocadoes had finally ripened, so I spread some of it over half a khobez and topped with a sliced mini pepper. Cutting the flat bread open would have taken some fairly precise knife work, and given my track record for kitchen injuries I thought I’d opt for folding it over. The sweet juiciness of the peppers really added an extra something to the lovely flavour of the avocado and this made a really good sandwich. A word of warning though, this is definitely a sandwich to be eaten at home, as I suspect that the avocado would soon turn an off-putting colour if it was used in a packed lunch. I found that you actually needed two khobez, but one might be enough if you were eating this at lunch time. The crisps were (again) the salt and vinegar kettle chips, just to help balance out what seemed a scarily healthy sandwich.

Dessert

Instant mango ‘cheesecake’

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I’m convinced that this is a nice recipe (it doesn’t contain anything that isn’t delicious), but a series of unfortunate choices meant that tonight’s dessert wasn’t exactly a resounding success. I crumbled one and a half (fairly small) oaty biscuits from Sainsbury’s into the base of a glass, then built up layers of chopped mango and soya yogurt before topping with the final half a biscuit (roughly crumbled). The most fundamental mistake was preparing the mango on the chopping board that I’d used for last night’s onion and garlic. Whilst garlic mango might sound like an item on the menu of an expensive restaurant, it wasn’t a very welcome addition to my dessert. I’d also used the Sojade brand of vegan yogurt, and although their flavoured yogurts are really delicious, when it comes to plain soya yogurt I much prefer the Alpro version. I will be returning to this recipe once I have a fruit-specific chopping board and a pot of Alpro soya yogurt!

Snacks

Morning: Fig roll

This is yet another nice  biscuit that’s available in animal-free form. Just check the ingredients (or even quicker, the allergy advice section of the packaging).

Evening: Carrot batons left over from lunch, almonds. These two items make quite a filling and nutritious snack.

A frozen food that makes a warming meal

Breakfast

Weetabix type cereal, soya milk, strawberries

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A nice energising combination which I’d definitely recommend.

Lunch

Wholemeal rolls with guacamole and watercress, crisps, apple, peanut bar

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I generally try to be positive about anything animal-free, but I have to admit I’m not a big fan of this Sainsbury’s ‘be good to yourself’ guacamole.  It’s certainly not the only vegan sandwich filling available (there’s no shortage of animal-free sandwich ideas) but I’d never noticed it before so thought I should give it a go.  You can buy the peanut bars (if you dare) from the World Food section of supermarkets, but they’re extremely sugary and highly addictive. They can also be found at AMT coffee stalls.

Dinner

Moroccan couscous bakes with sweet tomato and ginger sauce, asparagus, salad

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When you try to picture the vegan section of a frozen foods aisle, you might either think that no such thing existed, or imagine a lone bean burger looking slightly pitiful. Fortunately though, this isn’t the case, and even Tesco has a really good range of animal-free foods that you can just put in the oven and eat. It’s obviously great to make things from scratch, but occasionally it’s nice to have a rest and fortunately that option is open to herbivores too.

These couscous bakes are just one of the vegan options, but there’s a wide variety of others (falafels, meatless burgers, nut cutlets, veggie grills etc.). In Tesco, some of these items are marked as vegan, and others not (including the couscous bakes). I can only assume it’s due to the factory they’re made in or something along those lines. The totally animal-free options are helpfully mixed in with vegetarian items that do contain eggs and/or dairy, but a quick glance at the allergy advice section of the packaging can usually clear up any uncertainty.

The couscous bakes were really tasty- not at all excessively salty or overpoweringly garlicy. Their spiciness meant that they were really warming too (and we still need warming here in the UK, even in June). The mini peppers were really sweet, and looked so pretty that they just had to be photographed separately!

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Dessert

Ginger Booja Booja ice cream

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This was also from the freezer, but I must admit it’s a bit of a luxury item that’s found in health shops rather than supermarkets. Fortunately though, most supermarkets stock the Swedish Glace brand of vegan ice cream (which tastes really good), so you don’t have to make a special trip to buy it. There’s always sorbet too, which is normally vegan and comes in various fruity flavours. For a real treat though (or for an impressive end to a dinner party) there’s no beating the delicious Booja Booja ice cream.

Snacks

Apples, almonds

The almonds were left over from a batch I roasted the other day and they do make a really great snack.