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.
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!
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)
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!
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:
Curry paste (I used Pataks)
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!