A few festive highlights

Having taken an awkwardly long break from blogging, I thought the best way back in might be a few festive highlights, some of which are hopefully still available in the shops if anyone feels in need of yet more food.

Sausage rolls 

These are incredibly easy to make, but you can also buy them ready to cook in Holland & Barrett. You only need two ingredients to make your own though- a pack of Jus’ Roll puff pastry (a sheet makes life even easier) and a  packet of vegan sausages. I really like the Vegetarians Choice brand (available predictably enough in Holland & Barrett), but it’s normally possible to find a vegan sausage option in the supermarket. Frozen sausages work fine for this- you just space them out on the pastry sheet, form them into rolls (more detailed description here) and bake them in the oven on gas 8 (230 C), for about 20-25 mins.

476

Cream-free cheese

Not strictly a festive item but great on crackers as part of a Christmas tea. My favourite is the Tofutti brand, which comes in plain or herb/garlic flavour, and can be bought in health food shops. Other great items for an animal-free Christmas tea include mini spring rolls, nuts (unsurprisingly), crisps and dates. You can also buy lots of different types of vegan cheese, the Vegusto range being the nicest in my opinion. (Nessie the cat likes to warm her ears under the lamp and didn’t see any reason to move just because food was on the table.)

475

Winter vegetable mash

This goes really well with a flan, pie or vegan sausages, and makes a nice change from mashed potato.

Ingredients (serves 3):

  • 4 shallots
  • 3 large carrots
  • 3 large parsnips
  • 2 potatoes
  • Cooking oil
  • Herbs e.g. parsley
  • Veggie stock

Method:

  1. Peel and dice the veg, keeping the shallots separate.
  2. Heat a good splash of oil in a large pan and add the shallots. Sautee gently until they go semi-transparent, stirring frequently, then add the veg and continue to sautee for a few more minutes.
  3. Add a generous splash of stock, plus the herbs.
  4. Simmer very gently, stirring frequently, until most of the stock has been absorbed and the veg forms a mash-like consistency. Add more stock if it starts to look dry at any point.
  5. When the veg is ready, mash as required and serve.

468

Vegan Christmas cake

The brand is Lazy Days, and it’s available in Holland & Barrett. The slices are very petite (you need a few for a decent cake fix), but they have a nice spicy taste and a satisfyingly thick layer of icing. Christmas decorations optional!

481

Hotel Chocolat Tiddly Penguins

Extremely cute and marked as suitable for vegans. Actually not so tiddly- the chocolate is nice and chunky.

002

Advertisements

How to make a great breakfast without bread or milk

Breakfast

Muesli with soya yogurt, fruit and golden syrup

005

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

006

008

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.

How not to miss meat

Breakfast

Wheat biscuits, blackberries, soya milk

001

The blackberries were left over from the previous day’s attempt to be resourceful and pick my own dessert. The combination worked really well.

Lunch

Vegan cream cheese and tomato sandwich, fruit

This is a reliable option for a great animal-free sandwich. I really like the Tofutti brand of vegan cream cheese, which comes in plain or garlic and herb flavour and can be bought in Holland and Barrett.

Dinner

Veggie Bolognese, tortilla wrap, salad

002

004

This is a really nice recipe that’s ideal for introducing people to the great taste of faux meats. You can buy the soya protein in Holland and Barrett and I think it has a pretty realistic mince-like flavour and texture. This is probably a good point to mention the excellent range of faux meats available in health food shops, which are ideal if you’re missing the taste of the real thing. You probably won’t find that they taste identical to real meats, but they’re pretty similar and opting for a small change in taste has a huge impact on animals!

To get back to the soya protein, you’re apparently supposed to soak it before use but I didn’t bother and was very happy with the result. The Bolognese would go well with spaghetti although I just had a tortilla wrap on the side. The salad was just some lettuce, celery and Thai flavour rice coated peanuts (or something like that). They’re from the Co-op, come in a pinkish packet and are marked as vegan.

Ingredients for veggie Bolognese (serves 2-3):

– 4 medium shallots

– 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)

– 8-10 tomatoes (on the vine ones are ideal)

– A generous handful of button mushrooms

– 2 red peppers

– 2 large sticks of celery

– Olive oil

– 80g dried soya protein

– 1 veggie stock cube

Method:

1. Chop the shallots and set aside.  Roughly chop the tomatoes and put them somewhere else. Chop the rest of the veg and put in a third location (the 3 groups of veg need to go into the pan at a different time).

2. Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the shallots and garlic, then sautee gently, stirring constantly, until the shallots turn semi-transparent but not brown (this only takes a few mins).

3. Add the rest of the veg minus the tomatoes and continue to sautee for a few more minutes, stirring constantly. Next, add the tomatoes, cover and simmer for another 5 mins or so, stirring occasionally. Once they’ve begun to form a sauce, add the soya protein, a good splash of water and the stock cube. Cover and simmer for as long as you like, 10 mins probably being the minimum. Stir occasionally and check regularly that it’s not getting too dry, adding more water as needed. Season to serve.

Dessert

Fruit and biscuits (I think!)

I’m running a bit behind on the blog so can’t honestly remember how accurate this is. I’m in the process of catching up!

An unconventional salad

Breakfast

Wheat biscuits, strawberries, soya milk

005

A great combination, although I really will be branching out with breakfast cereals in the near future. Wheat biscuits can lead to breakfast-related apathy as the packets last for ages and you end up working through them for days on end in a very un-creative way!

Lunch

Tortilla wrap with butternut squash dip and cherry tomatoes, fruit (apple and greengages), licorice

This was the butternut squash dip that comes from Sainsbury’s and is quite a good option for packed lunches with minimal morning effort. I used a square, wholemeal tortilla wrap (not that I think the shape makes a huge amount of difference!). The licorice was the Panda brand (raspberry flavour), which seems to be highly addictive. I’ve been foolishly keeping a packet in my bag and it inevitably surfaces every lunchtime.

Dinner

Bean, banana and cashew salad, tortilla wrap with ‘cream cheese’

006

This was pretty much a repeat of the previous day’s salad in my continued effort to finish up the contents of the fridge before going away. It was just a leafy salad base, plus some bean shoots, tomatoes, banana and salted cashews (drizzled with olive oil). The ingredients do sound a little unconventional but it works really well and tastes great. If you need a side bread, tortillas spread with vegan cream cheese are a great option. I used the Tofutti brand (garlic and herb), and I do think you’d have trouble detecting that it’s not dairy cream cheese.

008

The new system of writing up previous days’ blogs certainly works better from a practical point of view, but it does have drawbacks. One of these is that it’s easy to forget what you actually ate. This applies to dessert, but I would imagine that dark chocolate and fruit came into it!

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

005

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.

016

Dessert

Blueberries

017

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.

Store cupboard ingredients + 20 mins = delicious meal

Breakfast

Wheat biscuits, raspberries, soya milk

002

The raspberries were slightly on the sharp side, so perfect with some sweetened soya milk. I always find that wheat biscuits and berries are a great breakfast combination.

Lunch

‘Cream cheese’ and salad sandwich, crisps, sharon fruit, flapjack

003

This was the lovely Tofutti brand of vegan cream cheese and I’ve recently discovered the garlic and herb flavour. It’s really tasty without being overwhelmingly garlicy and works well with spinach and cucumber. I used the Warburtons sandwich thins (wholemeal version), which are definitely a useful lunchtime ingredient.

005

Dinner

Homemade potato salad. Green lentils with spinach, cranberries and cashews.

001

The homemade potato salad was left over from the day before and kept well in the fridge overnight. For the recipe, please click here and scroll down to dinner. I had some green lentils and spinach to finish, so made a super-quick dish to go with the potatoes. The result was really good, and I don’t honestly think it could take longer than 20 mins to throw together.

Ingredients for green lentils with spinach, cranberries and cashews (serves 2):

– 1 onion/two large shallots

– 2 cloves of garlic

– 1 tin of green lentils

– Olive oil

– 1 packet of spinach

– Generous handfuls of cranberries and cashews (salted are tastier, unsalted are healthier!)

Method:

1. Dice the shallots and press the garlic. Rinse the lentils, drain and set aside.

2. Heat a good splash of olive oil in the pan and add the onion and garlic. Sautee gently for about 5 mins, stirring constantly.

3. When the onion is soft and semi-transparent, stir in the other ingredients. You may need to add the spinach in batches- stirring one lot in until it has wilted, then adding the rest.

4. To serve, you may like to add some extra olive oil and seasoning. Pitta breads would be a good alternative to the potato salad.

Dessert

Greengages, dark chocolate

These are the greengages I bought from a local fruit seller which were definitely a good purchase.

How to veganize two traditional English favourites

Breakfast

Fruit pot

011

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

012

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

015

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

016

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).