Thursday, 1 November 2012

Vegan chocolate tart!

My number 1 weakness...chocolate. I love it. Any shape, size, colour. Gimme. I cannot seem to get enough.
This tart is so easy you won't believe it, the only hard part is waiting for it to cool in the fridge so you can eat it!! It's rich, creamy and oh so chocolatey. Addictive.



Serves: 12          Prep time: 1hr 15 mins plus cooling time        Cooking time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

175g digestive biscuits
85g butter, melted
300g plain chocolate, broken into chunks (make sure to read the label and check it is vegan- most cooking chocolate is vegan!)
600ml tub of soya cream (I used alpro soya)
25g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Line a 20cm round loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment and line the sides with a long strip.
2. Crush biscuits in a bag with the end of a rolling pin (great anger management therapy!!)
3. Melt the butter and stir the biscuits into the melted mixture. Press the butter and biscuits mixture into the bottom of the cake tin and chill in fridge for 10 mins.
4. Whilst chilling melt the chocolate (you can melt however you choose but the obvious way is in bowl over pan of boiling water)
5. Take pan off heat but leave over warm water and add cream until you get a smooth and thick chocolate sauce.
6. Sift in the icing sugar and stir in the vanilla extract. Take off warm water and leave to cool for 10 mins.
7. Take tin out of fridge and pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the chilled biscuit base. Then return to fridge to chill for at least 5 hrs until firm and set.
8. Remove from fridge, take out of the tin and peel of paper. Move to plate and serve!

Of course if you are pushed for time, this keeps well for a few days in the fridge so can easily be prepared a couple of days beforehand!

Serve with cream or ice cream for a super indulgent taste!

If you are a chocolate addict, this is a must. It would be great decorated as a Christmas pudding or just as a general treat!



Enjoy,

L xo

Vegan Red Dragon Pie

Growing up in a english boarding school, Shepherds pie has always been a staple dish and to be quite honest, not one of my favourites. However, this vegan take on Shepherds pie has captured by british heart! It is not a quick recipe but if you are prepared and have plenty of time, it is a great one!

Serves: 4            Prep time: overnight + about 2hrs on the day            Cooking time: 35-40 mins

Ingredients:

110g aduki beans
50g wheat grains or rice
1.1 litres water for soaking, another 1.1 litres water for boiling
1 tbsp oil (we used coconut oil)
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
225g carrots, scrubbed and diced
1-2 tbsp soy sauce 
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp mixed herbs
275ml aduki bean stock (the water the beans were boiled in)
Salt and pepper to season
450g peeled potatoes
25g dairy-free butter

Directions:

1. Wash the aduki beans and the grains or rice, depending on which you are using, and soak in water overnight.
2. Set oven to gas mark 4/ 350 F/ 180 C.
3. Next day, drain the beans and bring them to boil in fresh water. Cook for 50 mins until fairly soft. 
4. Drain again, reserving the water which they were boiled in for later (called stock).
5. Heat oil in saucepan and fry chopped onions for 5 mins. Add carrots and cook for a further 2-3 mins. Then add the cooked beans and grains/rice.
6. Mix the soy sauce, tomato puree, herbs and stock together. Pour this mixture into vegetable and bean mixture. 
7. Bring this new mixture to boil and then allow to simmer for 20-30 mins until moist.
8. Whilst waiting boil potatoes until soft and mash with the butter. Then season.
9. Take the vegetable/ bean mixture of the heat and transfer to a greased casserole dish.
10. Spread the mashed potato over the top of the bean/ vegetable mixture in the dish.
11. Bake for 30-40 mins until top of mash is crisp and brownish.

Serve with hot veggies like broccoli, runner beans or peas. 



Enjoy your hearty british meal!

L xo

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Every week we have a curry night at home and because chick peas are so cheap and full of protein, they make for great curry ingredients! This is a particularly tasty chick pea curry recipe.

Serves: 4      Prep time: 10 mins    Cook time: 45 mins

Ingredients:

1tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2cm root ginger, chopped
3 tbsp tikka masala paste (you can use any paste you like according to flavours you want!)
400g can chopped tomatoes
100g red split lentils
250g spinach
400g can chick peas
4 tbsp plain soya yogurt (if want it to be slightly milder)

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir occasionally for 3-5 minutes until soft.
2. Add chosen curry paste to pan and cook for 3-4 minutes (can add splash of water if worried about spices burning!)
3. Add tomatoes, lentils and 300ml water and allow to simmer for 30mins.
4. Stir in handfuls of spinach and allow to wilt.
5. Add chick peas and yogurt if you wish.



Serve with rice/ quinoa/ yogurt and coriander/ poppadoms...

Have a great curry night!


Tasty Treacle Tart

There is something so comforting about pastry-anything when the weather outside is windy and cold! Firstly, my thoughts are with anyone affected by Hurricane 'Sandy'. I have been closely watching the news and have heard NYC might be without power for up to a week. Stay safe everyone-remember day to day jobs can wait, your safety is the most important right now!

We had a pastry party the other day and a messy kitchen and treacle tart were the outcomes! This recipe only requires four ingredients and, whilst it is not the healthiest, it is very tasty and a lovely treat for these coming chilly months!



Serves: 4      Prep time: 10 minutes      Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

100g pastry (you could either make your own or buy some but make sure to read the labels very carefully to check for all-vegan ingredients...in England Be-Ro Short Pastry is vegan)
100g golden syrup
25g Soft white breadcrumbs
1/2 lemon (grated- to create rind-and juiced)

Directions:

1.Warm the syrup
2. Mix the syrup with the breadcrumbs, lemon juice and rind.
3. Line mini flan/quiche cases with your pastry.
4. Pour the mixture into the pastry lined flan case & decorate top with spare pastry trimmings if you have leftovers!

Bake for 20 mins at 200C, gas mark 6



Then enjoy! Best served warm with a scoop of vegan ice cream.


Friday, 26 October 2012

A taste of autumn...

Vegan pumpkin scones, glazed & decorated. A little bit of my English routes mixed with my love for the oh-so-American halloween festivities.


Relatively quick, pretty simple, very tasty.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 8 tbsp. dairy-free butter
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (tastiest fresh but can be canned)
  • 3 tbsp. almond milk (other dairy-free milks will work if there is a nut allergy)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp. ground flax + 4 tbsp water)

  • Glaze (flavour as desired, a simple melted chocolate glaze would be lovely but I used a variation of spices):
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp. almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 tsp. cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg- I used this version and it was fab!)



Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment.
  2. In a small bowl mix the flax egg and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger).
  4. Mix the cold dairy-free butter butter into dry ingredients until crumbly.
  5. In another bowl, mix the pumpkin, flax egg, and almond milk.
  6. Add wet to dry ingredients and mix until a ball forms (easiest done with your hands!)
  7. On a flour surface place the ball of dough and kneed a few times with your hands.
  8. Use a rolling pin to roll out dough and then cut into 8 triangles (like pizza!).
  9. Bake for approx 15 minutes (will differ from oven to oven).
  10. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  11. While cooling, make your glaze by mixing 1 cup icing sugar with milk and choice spices/flavouring until smooth.
  12. When scones are cool, decorate with glaze and any other toppings (I used roasted pumpkin seeds & chocolate chips as final touches!)



These were really delicious and my harshest critic (fussy little brother) even enjoyed them. They are easily adapted to taste and can be made sweeter/ spicier/ more savoury or chocolatey with little trouble.



The leaves are floating off the trees, the hedgehogs snuggling up. Hot chocolates are brewing and warm fires are smoking. The children are getting ready to brave the spooks of October 31st. Autumn is upon us, my favourite season. So grab a blanket, a piping hot drink & a tasty pumpkin scone; enjoy the season, it's a good one :)

Happy Halloween!

L xo



{Recipe adapted from the wonderful 'Oh She Glows' blog, do please go and check out her fab recipes.}

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Last flavours of summer...

Summer is ending, school is beginning and this salad is begging to be placed on the table. Perfect for a end-of-summer-BBQ or just a casual meal with friends. Healthy, tasty and vegan.

Sweetcorn & squash salad:

Serves: 4    Prep: 10 mins     Cook: 30 mins

Ingredients: 

1kg Butternut squash, peeled and deseeded, cut into 2cm pieces
50g pumpkin seeds
4tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
Zest and juice of a lemon
2 corn on the cobs (or the equivalent in tinned sweetcorn) 
1 tbsp Agave
140g of rocket and spinach 

Instructions:
 1) Preheat oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Place squash and pumpkin seeds on a baking tray, season and toss with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Roast for 30 mins.
2) Meanwhile, mix 1 tbsp live oil with cajun seasoning and half the lemon juice and brush over the sweetcorn. Cook for 15 mins, turning occasionally. Allow to cool slightly before cutting corn of the cob and then stirring into the roasted squash.
3) Mix the remaining oil with lemon zest, remaining juice and agave. Toss into salad leaves. Add butternut squash mixture and serve.



Enjoy the last few glimpses of the sun! 

Laura xoxo




Cookies. Cookies. Cookies.

I cannot get enough of these babies lately. They are so quick, easy and delicious!

Recently one of my best friends went through a break-up and these were our life savers. I would get a call saying 'I need you. Bring tissues. And those cookies, damn bring two lots of the cookies.' They are great.

(Recipe credit to: 'Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar' by Isa Chandra Moskowitz with a few of my own alterations.)



Ingredients:

110g brown sugar
50g white sugar
120ml veg/canola oil
60 ml non-dairy milk
1 tbsp tapioca flour (can sub with two tbsp normal, plain flour)
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain flour (190g)
As many chocolate chips as desired!

Instructions:

1) Combine sugars, oil, milk, tapioca flour- MIX until consistency of smooth caramel.
2) Add vanilla extract, flou, baking powder & salt- MIX.
3) Add chocolate chips (NB: the dough may be stiff, if it's too runny then add more flour and if it's too hard, add more milk)

Spoon mixture on to baking tray (about 8 per tray) and cook for around 8-9 mins at 350F. Leave to cool for 5 mins before moving.



They will mend a broken heart, they really are THAT good. (For best results: eat in cosy winter pjs in the company of a great friend.) Enjoy!

Laura xoxo

Autumn, baking & banana bread...

Autumn is finally here! It's my absolute favourite season. I love the cosiness, the excitement of the lead up to winter, baked goods, halloween & no exams! 

Banana bread. My go-to autumn, heart warming recipe. Everyone loves it. It's moist & reasonably healthy but also filling, warm & makes you want to snuggle down under a quilt with a hot coco and watch a great movie. 

Want that cosy feeling inside? Bake this. 

Serves: 8-10     Prep Time: 10mins    Cooking time: 1 hour

2 cups plain flour
150g white sugar
110g brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 very ripe mashed bananas
1/4 canola/ vegetable oil
1 tbsp maple syrup (can use 2 if want it sweeter)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:
1) Whisk milk & vinegar and leave aside for a few mins.
2) Mix dry ingredients together.
3) Mash the banana and add to the milk and vinegar.
4) Add the milk/vinegar/banana mixture to the dry ingredients (do not over mix, just enough for all ingredients to be combined!)

Pour into baking dish and cook for about an hour at 350F. Check regularly and use a skewer through the middle to see if it baked all the way through- when the skewer comes out clean, it is done. 



Variations:

1) For a chocolatey bread, add chocolate chips.
2) My personal fave: a fruity mixture, add dates and raisins. (about 250g chopped dates, soaked in boiling water until soft, then drained) 


As I said, this recipe is perfect for fall, especially after a nice long walk in the fresh autumn air! The whole family will enjoy and it goes perfectly with a nice warm cup of tea....enjoy!




Laura xoxo



Friday, 27 July 2012

No more faux meat burgers!

Today's recipe is a super easy 'burger'. They are called lentil croquettes and can be served with parsley sauce. Having been vegan for a year now, I've found my taste buds have changed a lot and that I actually don't want to eat faux 'burgers' made with ingredients that taste like meat because I actually no longer like the taste of meat (also it freaks me out when they taste too similar!)

Lentil Croquettes with Parsley Sauce

Serves: 4      Prep Time: 1hr     Cooking time: 5-7 mins

Ingredients:
225g red lentils
570ml water
1tsp oil
110g vegan cheese of choice
2 tbsp of peanut butter (optional to leave out for nut allergy sufferers, it will taste just as good!) 
50g fresh parsley
A few drops of lemon juice
1 tsp yeast extract

(For coasting): 75g fresh wholewheat breadcrumbs

(For Sauce): 200ml Rice milk or dairy free milk of your choice
                     1 tsp corn flour
                     1 tbsp fresh parsley

Directions:
1) Wash the lentils, then bring them to boil in water before adding a tsp of oil. (Leave simmering covered for 20 mins)
2) Turn down the heat and beat thoroughly until smooth
3) Mix in all other ingredients.
4) Shape them into burger like formations then coat with breadcrumbs.
5) Cool in the fridge for 30 mins before cooking for 5-7 mins. 
6) In the meantime, make the sauce by heating the rice milk, adding corn flour and fresh parsley until warm, smooth and mixed together. Take off heat and serve!



Can be served with new potatoes, sweet potatoes & lots of veggies for a great wholesome meal. Enjoy!

Laura xo
PS: I kept my promise...'Becoming a teenage vegan' blog coming in the next few days & a jolly good cookie recipe, stay tuned...until then, enjoy the Olympics! Go Team GB!



Thursday, 26 July 2012

Aubergines & an apology

First of all I want to start with an apology for my extended absence. I have a tendency to take on too many projects at once and leave them all unfinished so I needed a little prompt to remind me to return to my blog. In the meantime, however, I have been documenting the recipes for all of the dishes I try out so to make up for leaving my blog to get all dusty, I will be posting a new recipe every day for the next 7 days. And if I don't, come and hunt me down on instagram at @teenlauravegan and give me a good telling off!
Aubergines. They are one of my most favourite foods. They taste great in all recipes as they are almost 95% water so tend to take the flavour of whatever dish you are cooking. Not to mention they are incredibly good for you as they are low in saturated fat and cholesterol but provide a great source of Vitamins K, B6, Thiamin and Potassium, as well as dietary fiber. Check, check, check.
Today's recipe is called Aubergines Parmesan. I have made it about 5 times now and loved it more every time I do. It gets bonus points for being approved (and enjoyed!) by my non-vegan father! 
Recipe: Aubergines Parmesan


Serves: 4     Prep time: 30 mins      Cooking time: 20 mins followed by a further 10-15 mins


Ingredients:
150ml oil (olive oil will work although hemp seed oil is much healthier so I tend to use that!)
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
800g tin of tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree (or ketchup!)
2tsp fresh chopped basil 
A bit of salt & freshly ground black pepper
550g of Aubergines
225g vegan cheese (mozzarella/ cheddar style will work but mozzarella melts the best!)
Optional: 3tbsp vegan parmesan/other cheese for the topping


Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 4/350F/180C)
2) Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a saucepan & fry chopped onion and crushed garlic for 5-7 mins.
3) Add tomatoes, puree, basil, salt and pepper- allow this to simmer for about 30 mins with a lid on, stirring occasionally)
4) Wash aubergines and cut into slices
5) Lightly salt and leave for 20 minsrinse, dry and put in a frying pan until soft and lightly browned (alternatively if using an AGA, you can just place them on the plate until brown on both sides without worrying about salting them)
6) Oil a dish to cook in and start layering. Put the tomato sauce in first, then the browned aubergines, followed by grated cheese of your choice. Repeat until dish is full & then top with parmesan/other cheese if desired.
7) Put foil over dish and cook in oven for 20 mins. Then uncover dish and return to oven for 10-15 mins to allow the cheese to brown and melt. 




I hope you enjoy this recipe, it's become a family favourite over here and can be served with quinoa, tagliatelle, vegetables...there are no limits! 




I'll see you all tomorrow for another post...
Laura xo






Monday, 7 May 2012

Traditional English Afternoon Tea

This weekend it was my brother's birthday and we had all the family round. The sun was shining and the oven was calling for me to bake some vegan goodies for everyone to try: income the scones...
These scones are super easy to make and as they are basically just sweet dough, you can add any toppings to suit individual taste buds- they were a huge hit!



Recipe:

225g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
55g butter (I used pure)
25g caster sugar
150ml rice milk (of course soya, almond milk etc would be fine also)

Serve with:
400g fresh strawberries
clotted or whipped vegan creme (tried to whip alpro soya single cream and had cream difficulty so ended up just buying soy whip- if anyone knows how to make vegan cream into whipped cream please tell me!)
Strawberry Jam (or jam of your choice!)

All you have to do is: 

1) Preheat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas7 and lightly grease a baking sheet.
2) Mix together the flour and the salt and rub in the butter to form breadcrumbs.
3) Then stir in the sugar and add the milk bit by bit until a soft dough forms.
4) Place dough on a floured surface (dough is sticky!) and knead gently.
5) Roll out dough to about 2cm and use a 5cm cutter to shape them.
6) Use a pastry brush to lightly cover each scone with a bit of rice (or alternatives) milk.
7) Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden (cut the strawberries and prepare the cream whilst they are cooking!) 

Then...enjoy! 



CAUTION: Always remember, jam goes on the scones before the clotted/whipped cream...I have lived in England all my life and watched the tragic mess which occurs when cream goes on before jam! 

Have a great weekend everyone and let me know how your scones turn out!

The awkward: 'We are trying to eat but have to smile' photo.

PS: Credit due to 'Vegetarian Living' for the fabulous recipe...I recommend any vegetarians or vegans to subscribe to their magazine...it's a life saver! 

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Blissful Brownies!

Yesterday was my best friend's birthday and I wanted to make her some brownies as they have always been her favourite treat. However her family are pretty big meat eaters and although she is a pescetarian and supportive of my diet, she is not the biggest fan of veganism. Therefore I was faced with a dilemma, how do I make vegan brownies taste like normal brownies? Bring it on. 
I looked everywhere for a decent recipe and as always, the hardest thing for me is finding an English recipe that doesn't use applesauce or cup measurements as in England, those things are not in abundance as they are in America. It took a while but I found it...the holy grail of brownie recipes. Seriously. 


Recipe: 
340g self raising flour
4tbsp cocoa
A good pinch of salt
340g golden caster sugar
1tbsp golden syrup 
150ml sunflower oil
 (I did not have this and broke the rules using Olive Oil but could not notice a difference!)460ml soya milk
2 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract


Decoration: 

80g vegan chocolate (chopped into large chunks) or dairy free chocolate chips (if you can find them)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 190c and grease your brownie pan.
2. Sift the flour and cocoa together into a bowl.
3. Add the salt and sugar then stir to mix through.
4. Pour in the vanilla extract, golden syrup and half of the oil, stir slowly until thick and lumpy.
5. Add the milk and the remainder of the oil and beat to combine.
6. Pour into your brownie tin before placing pieces of the vegan chocolate into the mixture for decoration and taste.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30mins. Test with a skewer to see if they're cooked through.
8. Leave to cool for a while before slicing into squares.


I cannot take credit for this recipe, the original is on this website: http://www.athriftymrs.com/2012/02/easy-vegan-brownies.html




I use an AGA cooker and they took no longer than 25 minutes. I then left them to cool for a good 15 minutes to make sure they absolutely did not fall apart! 
The brownies turned out crunchy on the outside with a moist and rich chocolate centre and lovely nibs of chocolate chips to spice them up a bit! They were heavenly. The real tester was feeding them to my friend's meat-loving brother- he did not even realise they were vegan...score! Honestly, the recipe made about 30 brownies and within about 2 hours of being baked, they were all gone and the requests for more were pouring in! 






So why not break out the chocolate and apron and get baking. You could serve them with soya cream and strawberrries for the perfect afternoon snack or indulgent dessert! (BONUS: Calories are only around 185 per brownie using Olive Oil so they are almost guilt free as well!) 






Have a fabulous Easter weekend and let me know how the brownies go down with all of your families! 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Pancake Pandemonium!


Cooking on the AGA...they are done quickly so move fast!
PANCAKE DAY!
Everyone loves pancake day. How could you not? It is the perfect opportunity to stuff our faces with sweet, sugary goodness without our motives being questioned...wonderful. 
This was my first 'Shrove Tuesday' as a vegan and being at school and surrounded by people eating pancakes and shoving it in my face that I can't (Bitter? Me? Not at all) I knew I had to figure out a recipe to make my own. I looked up a few recipes and found it was surprisingly simple to make vegan pancakes. In the end, I chose a recipe from one of my favourite vegan cook books: 'Vegan with a vengeance' by Isa Chandra Moscowitz. 
They do fall apart slightly more easily but taste just as good!




First of all, here is the recipe and directions:
1 1/4cup all-purpose flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt 
1tsp cinnamon (You could also use coconut)
2T canola oil (any cooking/vegetable oil will work)
1/3cup water
1 1/4cup soy milk (I used Kallo) 
1tsp vanilla extract


1. Oil a large skillet and preheat over medium-high heat about two minutes.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in one bowl. In a separate bowl combine all other ingredients.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry until just combined. Do not overmix or the pancakes will be tough (a couple lumps are okay).
4. Cook pancakes until browned on the bottom and bubbles form on top, about four minutes. Turn over and cook until the bottoms are browned and barely firm to the touch. Add more oil as needed.


The first pancake...always looks a little strange!
I found this recipe so easy to use and the pancakes tasted gorgeous. Using the ingredients given, it makes 7 pancakes so adjust the amount you need accordingly. The cinnamon was definitely worth putting in although I think it would also be tasty with coconut (she has a seperate recipe for coconut pancakes if you prefer!) They are slightly harder to flip than normal pancakes so be careful not to break them although I personally think that, broken or not, a pancake is a pancake and it will taste just as good! A final word of warning is that you do need a reasonable about of oil on the pan before cooking because they become sticky FAST and you do not want burnt pancakes because you cannot unstick them from the pan to flip them.
Plus, remember...the first one never goes right so don't be disheartened...practice makes perfect (or makes us fat...either one)

Toppings wise (the best bit) I personally love the classics...sugar and lemon or maple syrup but I dared to be a little more adventurous, just for you guys, and tried out chocolate spread...YUM. My mother had brought me some dark chocolate spread and I was super keen to test it. It was fantastic, very dark and slightly bitter but you could still taste the milkiness. It was the perfect combination with the sweet pancakes. Here are a few more photos to make your mouth water...

Stawberries and chocolate


I could eat this with a spoon and...nope, just a spoon will do...
Just a side note that if you want to buy the chocolate spread, it is called 'whole earth dark chocolate spread' and I also used maple syrup called 'Sweet Freedom natural syrup'...sinful but sensational!

I hope you all had a wonderful pancake day...now go on, make all those non-vegans jealous!


Plus, my cope of 'Skinny Bitch' arrived today...will do a review of it later, so excited to read it!

I apologise if the posts are a bit delayed, it is time for mock exams once again so sadly there is more studying, less cooking but see you all soon!

Happy pancake flipping...:)

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The most wonderful time of the day...:)

Breakfast. Love it or hate it? 
Most of the population skip breakfast, as I used to, simply because they don't have time or energy, or don't like breakfast foods and believe it is one less meal each day and therefore the key to weight loss. WRONG. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I was lucky that my mother made sure that was ingrained in my brain from a very young age; she always told me that my brain would not start working until I had eaten my breakfast and now that I am older I know that your metabolism also slows down without breakfast because your body goes into starvation mode after 8 or so hours of not eating (because you are sleeping!) which actually promotes weight gain. However since becoming a vegan, I have grown to LOVE breakfast. I am a fruit fanatic and I have found so many ways to get my portions of fruits into my breakfast each morning. Now I tend to wake up an hour earlier than I used to, have a shower and get ready then settle down and have breakfast slowly. It is so relaxing and peaceful, gosh, I just love it! 
Anyway so here are a few of the dishes I have been trying out- bear in mind I am a student at school and cooking crazy, complicated things in the morning is just not feasible so these are quick, easy but healthy dishes!


With cooked fruit
First up...porridge oats and berries! This is super quick and easy:
1) Buy any porridge oats (the microwave ones tend to have milk in them, like quakers, so steer clear of those!)
2) Boil the kettle then add boiling water to the porridge oats until they are soft and cooked
3) Add some cold soya milk, as much as you like- depending on how creamy you like your porridge
4) Decorate! Add fresh fruit, dried fruit, chocolate, honey...whatever tickles your taste buds! 
The great thing about porridge is that whilst being really healthy, it never gets boring because you can vary what you put in it so much. Plus, it will keep you full until lunchtime because it has great fibre and carbohydrates, although calories are relatively low, especially compared to sugary breakfast cereals! 
Tip: If cooking with fresh fruit, add it before the hot water so they cook a bit too, they taste much nicer!


Porridge with added strawberries and blueberries


Next on my favourite, quick breakfast dishes is Weetabix chocolate minis/crisp! These ones are a bit of a naughty breakfast but then again, as my mum says, if Weetabix minis are the naughtiest your breakfast gets, you must be pretty damn healthy! Alright so I cannot express my love for these enough. They are HEAVEN IN A BOWL. I love them with cold soya milk and blueberries best but any combination will work, even them on their own or with hot milk for some people! They do not go horribly soggy and fall apart but they do absorb the milk in a way which makes them taste divine. I like to put my milk in first and then add the Weetabix. The one complaint people may have is the amount of calories. They are a cereal so the calories are high and 40g is never enough. However they contain lots of essential vitamins and iron which is so important for vegans and it will keep you full all day so having a 500 calorie breakfast with all those benefits is really a no brainer! 


Heavenly Weetabix minis and blueberries


However for some people the best option in the morning might just be fruit. If you are really not a breakfast type of person and all you can manage is some fruit in the morning then something is always better than nothing at all! Plus, fruit can be delicious and healthy. My personal favourites are strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and persimmons (if you have never tried them...do so...NOW) However as these are all seasonal fruits, they can get expensive and so a good old banana or apple slices can go a long way in the morning. 
If you are just sticking to fruit in the morning, why not try a smoothie? I will be posting more about that later, or maybe even adding a yogurt. Adding a soya yogurt (Alpro soya do some fantastic fruit yogurts and low fat plain or vanilla ones for those watching weight) will give you protein, vitamins and calcium which are all essential nutrients in your diet. 
I hope this post makes you want to at least give breakfast a try and that it's shown you breakfast can be low calorie, simple, filling and super tasty with very little effort required! So wake up and have breakfast...it's going to be a great day!

Some of my favourite fruits...yummy...

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Mountains of Mushrooms...

Tonight my mother and I tried making a new recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's vegetarian cookbook called: Mushroom Risoniotto (with only 391 calories per serving and you get A LOT in a serving.) Here is the recipe:

Mushroom risoniotto (serves 2)
2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil (we used fry light oil, keeping it healthy!)
A knob of butter (Not needed, I did not use it but if you want to then of course, vegan butter required!)
500g mushrooms, thickly sliced
150g risoni or orzo pasta
2 garlic cloves, chopped
A few sprigs of thyme (leaves only)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
About 175ml dry white wine
About 50ml double cream or creme fraiche (obviously adapt this part, I used alpro soya cream)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (again, not needed unless you want more flavour)
A good handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve

It is really simple and easy to make but it tastes fabulous. I am a huge fan of mushrooms and mushroom risotto so for me, this was heavenly. The pasta which looks like rice is called orzo pasta and for those in the UK, it can be found cheaply in Waitrose. The dish was surprisingly filling and I did not miss cheese in the way that I often do when eating risotto. It is easy to prepare (about 30-40 minutes preparation time) - the longest part is chopping up all those mushrooms but I find chopping mushrooms to be quite relaxing...maybe that is just me- and easy to serve. We served it with a plate of rocket (underneath the pasta in the picture!) and then topped it with the parsley. Perfect.


The finished product
Unfortunately, as hard as my mother and I have tried to wean my father and brother off meat, today they went to the meat market and came home with a pheasant EACH. It was horrific. The only good thing I can say is that at least they went to a proper farmers market where they are wild birds that are killed, not factory farmed birds. It does not excuse the killing, but it could have been worse I suppose. Anyway, the reason I mention this is because I felt rather smug, whilst completely horrified and disgusted of course, when they were picking bullets out of their roasted pheasant and the worst I was  picking out was the parsley in between my teeth...god, I'm such a vegetable shipper!


Either way, enjoy this recipe and be sure to check out more of Hugh's recipes, I adore them! 
Have a great weekend :)

Lordy Lord how I love chocolate...

Hello again...yes, another post involving chocolate, I'm sure there will be a lot of these! However I think it's very important to find delicious chocolate that my fellow vegans can enjoy and I am more than happy to trial and test it for you all...you are welcome! 
When I was a meat eater or even a vegetarian, chocolate was a huge part of my life. And no, not proper chocolate, I'm talking galaxy, celebrations, fox's chocolate chunk cookies, Maltesers...all that. I was so worried that when I became a vegan, chocolate would be off limits and without chocolate, how would I survive? But thank goodness I followed my heart, not my taste buds, and became a vegan for it taught me to love the taste of true, rich, pure dark chocolate. Now I wouldn't even think of trading my dark chocolate for a piece of galaxy...PAWS OFF!...and believe me, both my transformed taste buds and healthier body are thanking me for it, not to mention all those smiley cows who are very grateful they are having to provide milk for one less person!
Anyway so, as naughty as it is, this half term I have been testing out a new chocolate each night. So far, we have tasted three: 1) Green and Blacks 2) Divine dark chocolate and 3) Montezumas dark chocolate. I got my brother and dad to taste them and whilst they are all fabulous, the winning chocolate came out as Montezumas. It is so delicious- slightly bitter yet with a hint of sweetness and not nastily milky but not too strong either...perfect! 
The next step was to dig further...try out all their flavours suitable for vegans! (Not all of them are so read the labels carefully!) Tonight I tested out the 'Dark chocolate Lordy Lord with cocoa nibs'. Heavenly. The cocoa nibs give it that extra pang of chocolateyness -yep, pretty certain that is not a word. Nevertheless, the chocolate is fabulous and even more perfect coupled with a nice cold glass of soya milk, mmmnnn...so go ahead, indulge...(oh and for those watching calories or anything, dark chocolate releases endorphins and makes you smile :) besides the calories aren't that high, not really...)


So naughty you can't resist