Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Recent creations

Dark chocolate chip spelt cookies:

Wholemeal pizza with tangy tomato, garlic and dill sauce, with mixed veg, kalamata olives and Bute Island Mozzarella Sheese:

Mushroom, onion and potato soup with whole butter beans and baby kale:

Monday, 12 January 2015

Fruit, Curry + Lunches

My parents were passing through Dundee and popped in for a coffee the other day. We had the remainder of the parsnip cake and had a quick catch up. My mother brought me a bag of treats which was very kind (there was some hummus but it didn't last long!). I'm really enjoying using limes at the moment. They're great on simple salads when I'm rushing about making my lunch in the morning, or even squeezed into some cold tea.
A few days ago I made a chickpea curry. It was pretty simple with onions, mushrooms and green lentils alongside some brown rice and roasted butternut squash (which I managed to get from Tesco for 16p!). I had an idea about an apple based salad to go with the curry because I usually like to have fresh pineapple or mango as an accompaniment. I used a granny smith apple for extra tanginess, lime juice and red cabbage. It definitely was sharp tasting but worked well with the wholesome nutty rice.

With my fairly recent change in employment I now have a shorter lunch break, which means more planning for lunches. It's far too easy just to pick something up over my break but it ends up costing far more than it needs to and it's never the healthiest. I've been really enjoying millet lately. It has a higher amount of protein compared to more expensive grains like quinoa and I prefer the texture too. It is so simple to put it on the hob while I'm getting ready in the morning. I generally put in some green lentils too and a bit of a stock cube (Kallo garlic and herb are amazing!). Alongside some raw veg, fruit and nuts, this keeps me going most of the day.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Pizza + Cake

My good friend, Sarah, had her birthday this week. This was a very good excuse to make some cake! And pizza!
Pizza is one of my favourite things to eat and it was probably the main reason that I hadn't already become vegan. I've never been a great fan of cheese, but I wouldn't turn down a slice of mozzarella pizza. However, I have been experimenting with cheeseless pizzas in the past and I really haven't been missing the cheese.
So, preparing a meal for 5 is fairly easy to do with pizza. I premade the dough the night before and let it rise overnight and throughout the day. I knocked the dough back and rolled out the bases to sit for a further 20mins. I mostly use wholemeal flour but made a 50/50 with plain white flour too. The sauce was made the night before too with plum tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, oregano and pepper. I let this reduce down for about an hour.
Unfortunately I have no photos of the pizza because, in a hunger-crazed frenzy, I forgot. The guests had some mozzarella and mixed vegetables and I used thinly sliced courgette to cover the top of mine.
The cake was a bit of an experiment. I'd been looking up recipes for inspiration and found a few with parsnips. Normally carrot cake is one of my favourites, especially when dairy and egg free, because the carrot keeps the mix moist and never seems to be too stodgy. So I made a parsnip and coconut cake with raspberry jam in the centre and a coconut oil butter icing for the top. Yum yum!


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Hazelnut Energy Truffles

I love sugar! And chocolate! I know it's unhealthy so I've been trying to come up with some alternatives that don't leave you feeling too guilty: dates are the answer!
Dates not only curb your sweet-tooth, they are a good source of iron, potassium and fibre too. I use dates in a lot of baking and don't need to add any sugar (hopefully I'll have a post about some tasty muffins soon!).
Lately I have been noticing a lot of 'energy balls' and raw truffles kicking about in the shops. They are mostly date based and tend to be quite expensive. I figured I'd give it a try making my own and so far I have had two batches. One was a date and cacao (nibs) rolled in coconut, the other was made with dates, hazelnuts and a blend of cacao and guarana powder rolled in sesame seeds. Here is a recipe for hazelnut energy truffles:

  • 150g dates (soaked in warm water for 10mins)
  • 50g hazelnuts
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil (measure then melt)
  • 2 tbsp. InSpiral Energy Mix or other preferred blend
  • sesame seeds for rolling
While the dates are softening in the water, blitz the hazelnuts in the food processor for a few minutes so they still have some crunch. Drain the dates and add to the hazelnuts. Blend for a further minute or so until the mixture starts to bind together.
Melt the coconut oil in the microwave and add this, along with the energy powder, to the main mix. Blend until the powder and oil are incorporated. Now you can start rolling the mix into balls then onto a plate of sesame seeds to finish. Pop the truffles into the freezer to set (it's easy to store them in the freezer until needed). Take them out when you're in need of a treat!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Five days in + tofu

After five days of a full-on-vegan diet, I'd have to say not much has changed for me. I have found myself questioning items that I pick up at the supermarket regularly - it takes a bit more time to reconsider what I'm actually buying (and all that hidden milk powder that seems to be everywhere). I'm eager to see if I notice a difference in myself after a month of veganism.
I love hearing peoples stories about going vegan/vegetarian and have been listening to a fair amount with new job at a health food shop. Recipe-sharing is something I get far too excited about!
Over the past few days I have been trying to fit in some extra cooking, but I seem to have only made quick meals with leftovers. I have, however, made some date truffles, spiced crunchy chickpeas and have tried out some popcorn toppings - really only snacky things.
So tofu! I have a love/hate relationship going on with that stuff. Whenever I've had tofu in a restaurant it always seems to be rubbery and tasteless, which I begin to expect now. It is such a versatile food and you can buy it pre-marinated so there's really no excuse!

Here's a quick idea for tasty tofu:
  • Tofu (firm)
  • Curry paste (I used Pataks)
  • Gram/chickpea flour
Drain the liquid from the tofu and press firmly with kitchen roll to remove the excess water. The block of tofu I used was 450g. I used about a third of this for two servings. If you slice up the rest of the drained tofu then you can pop it in the freezer for another time.
Cut the tofu into small strips and put in a bowl. Add two teaspoons of preferred curry paste and gently mix to cover the tofu. You can leave this to marinate for 10 mins or a few hours if you have the time.
Once you are ready to cook grab a plate and cover it with gram flour. Coat the tofu in the flour and place to the side ready for pan frying.
Use a little vegetable or olive oil and  fry at a fairly high heat until golden.
I served my tofu with brown rice, raw peppers, rocket and a drizzle of hot sauce. Yum!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Amaranth Squares

I had a bit of spare time today for experimenting with a grain that is new to my cupboards - AMARANTH.
For those of you who are gluten free, you may well know and eat it already. A cup of cooked amaranth grains contain 9g of protein, which is one of the highest amounts for gluten free grains. It is also a complete protein, a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acid and full of vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin B, calcium, iron and zinc). 
I chose the full grains as opposed to the flour, mainly because you can pop them like popcorn! Teeny tiny popcorn! During my day, I tend to snack on nuts and fruit but sometimes you just need to mix it up and try out a new idea. At the moment I am loving hazelnut butter and coconut so I thought I would combine the two. Here is a recipe for amaranth squares:
Un-popped grains
  • 100g amaranth grains
  • 3tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 3tbsp sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp. hazelnut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 5tbsp date syrup (or agave)
  • 5tbsp coconut oil (measure then melt)
You'll need a pan with a lid for this recipe, otherwise it could get messy! Set up a dry pan on a fairly high heat - you can test it with a drop of water (if it dances on the surface then you're ready to start popping!).
The grains need to be popped one tablespoon at a time. I made the mistake of burning my first batch! It will only take 10-15 seconds to pop each batch. Remember to put the lid on quickly and put the popcorn in a bowl along with the desiccated coconut and sesame seeds.
Popped amaranth grains
Once the grains are ready, melt the coconut oil in the warm pan. Add the date syrup and hazelnut butter once the oil has melted and stir into the grain mixture. If you feel the mixture is too dry then add another tablespoon of nut butter or date syrup.
Use some baking paper to line the inside of a baking tray (I used a 8x12"). Scoop out the mixture and press it in firmly. Leave to set for at least an hour - you can put it in the fridge or freezer to speed it up. Cut into squares and enjoy!


Monday, 29 December 2014

January Plans

Hello! Welcome!

Over the next month I plan to document my vegan journey - recipes, experiences, etc. And probably take lots of photos.
I have been vegetarian for about 14 years now and have gradually removed dairy from my diet.

There are a couple of events that I am taking part in throughout January. The first is Veganuary. People all over the world are taking a pledge to try veganism for a month. I mostly eat vegan food, apart from chocolate and pizza. Over the next month I am looking to create meals and recipes that are fresh, clean and vibrant. I do have a fair sweet tooth and love making dairy free carrot cake muffins, yum yum!
Stir fried veg with cashews and kale
The second is Fun A Day. I joined in with all the FUN last year and worked on a knitted sculpture throughout the month. This year I have the idea of combining my love of vegan cooking with Fun A Day. The end result may be a recipe book, or a collection of images. We shall see how it goes!
Knitted sculpture for Fun A Day
I'm looking forward to starting the new year on a healthy note, and I hope you enjoy reading about it!