Pizzaria Volare, North London

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love pizza. Pre-veggie/veganism, the boy and I were partial to the occasional (weekly) Domino’s 2 For Tuesday deal.
Switching over to our current veggie and vegan lifestyles, our new go to became Papa Johns, whose original crusts are vegan friendly (and so delicious, even the pups are fans)!
Now, after both experiencing real Italian thin crust pizzas in Italy, our tastes have refined somewhat. And as much as I do love a good Franco Manca or a Pizza Pilgrim, these aren’t local to us in North London, so we have been on the hunt for an authentic and local restaurant to frequent.
And then we found Pizzaria Volare, Bowes Road. We’ve often walked past on our way to other places, but this time we headed there specifically, and we weren’t disappointed.
Here’s what we ordered:
1
A deliciously fresh Tricolore Salad – rocket, avocado, tomato & mozzarella (on the side).
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A side order of Patatas Bravas with a spicy tomato sauce (again, on the side – a theme may be occurring).
And then my absolute favourite (and often cheapest!) pizza of all time…
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Pizza Marinara – tomato pizza sauce, garlic (and lots of it), oregano & fresh basil.
All washed down with a complimentary shot of limoncello and a rather good value bill.
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Oh and did you know that Peroni is vegan friendly? Rude not to, really.
A great little vegetarian & vegan friendly meal in a lovely authentic Pizzaria; a must if you find yourself in our neck of the woods. Attentive staff, only too happy to make slight adjustments to their plentiful menu, delicious food and reasonably priced.
Pizzaria Volare
167 Bowes Road
N11 2JA
020 3105 2662

Protein – the vegan way

January is a time of new beginnings. New Year’s resolutions made, but not so often kept. Two of the most popular being an overhaul of our diets, health and fitness. If, like many others, you have decided to go vegan for Veganuary, you might also have signed up to a brand spanking new gym membership, you’ll be wanting to get the most of your vegan diet.

Most of the time, when someone finds out I’m vegan, they suddenly become concerned that I get enough protein from my diet. No one seems to worry about your protein intake before you become a veggie or vegan!

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And I must admit, pre-veganism, I also thought the best types of protein was in lean meats & eggs. So to help out all you new vegans, I’ve pulled together what I hope is a helpful list of specific types of vegan protein, and what they are good for. Eat away…

 

pumpkin seeds

 

Pumpkin Seeds are a great source of healthy fats, fiber and protein to keep you feeling full, whilst the magnesium, phosphorus and zinc contained in them provide additional energy, great as a pre-workout snack.

 

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Tempeh is less likely than tofu to add on the lbs as it is made from soy beans, rather than soy milk. This makes it more of a whole food and retains more protein, around 50% more than tofu!

 

 

Health-Benefits-Of-Spinach

Spinach wasn’t Popeye’s favourite for nothing! Not only a great source of protein, but also high in vitamins A and C, antioxidants and calsium. Strangely enough spinach is one of the veggies that is best served steamed rather than raw, as it becomes easier for you body to digest and absord the calcium. And did you know that there is almost as much protein in one cup of spinach, as there is in a hard-boiled egg?! Superfood or what?

 

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Guava was an odd one to stumble upon for me, but it is the highest-protein fruit, whilst also containing 600% of your daily vitamin C requirement per cup.

 

 

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Chia Seeds are great for vegans and veggies; not only are they protein rich, but they also contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, something we can often be lacking while others can easily get it from eating oily fish.

 

 

spirulina-in-tablet-and-powder-formSpirulina is not a favourite of mine, I find it leaves a chalky residue in anything I had it to, but its protein content can’t be denied. Made up of 60% protein, like Quinoa it’s complete which means our bodies can directly convert it to muscle! It also contains 50% of your daily vitamin B12 requirement, something some veggies and vegans find themself deficient in when they stop consuming red meat.

 

what-is-the-health-benefits-of-cacao-96451269645126Dubbed the ‘food of the Gods’ in America, cacao is full of antioxidants, healthy fats, protein, minerals like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, iron, zinc, potassium and Vitamins E and B. Full of fiber to help digestion and keep you fuller for the longer, this really is a superfood, the benefits of which have been rounded up very nicely here by The SuperFoods.

 

imagePeanut Butter is an absolute favourite of mine, and a teaspoon of a 100% nut butter, with no added salt, sugar or oil, is great as an after dinner treat, when you’re craving something naughty. Watch out though as it is high in calories, but 2 tablespoons added to a post workout smoothie, provide a great dose of muscle-building protein and healthy fats. Peanuts are also good for your heart, and studies have shown they can prevent both cardivasular and coronary atery disease.

 

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Another nut packing a healthy dose of protein is the almond. Consume before your workout and studies have shown that these little nuts can actually help you burn more fat and carbs.

 

 

Avocado-Recipes

 

A superfood high up on my list of protein packed favourites, is the avocado. Full of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, more potasium than a banana, loads of fiber, vitamins & minerals in abundance, a regular sized avocado will contain around 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats.

 

 

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Popular with those trying to lose weight, mushrooms contain very little carbs or fat. The protein in mushrooms is only small, but is unique and it’s been thought to have anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

 

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1 cup of chickpeas contains 12g of protein, around 24% of your daily requirement. The protein in chickpeas is not complete, so combine with wholegrains such as wholegrain cous cous, or make up a batch of hummus and enjoy it on wholegrain bread or toast to get a complete protein.

 

beans

Not only are beans high in fiber and antioxidants, they aid with weight loss, and in turn disease prevention too! Comparable to meat when it comes to calories, beans are full of fiber and water, helping you to feel fuller for longer; meaning you should be able to cut calories, without feeling deprived. By losing weight you decrease your chances of developing serious conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. So nutritious are these little legumes in fact, that it’s recommended we tripple our weekly intake from 1 to 3 cups.

 

black-riceBlack Rice, also known as Forbidden Rice, has similar nutrient levels to brown rice, but with higher quanities of antioxidants. It is also a great source of fiber and minerals, including iron. A 100g serving of black rice has 8.5g of protein, 3.5mg of iron and 4.9g of fiber. Compared to white, brown and red rices, black rice has the highest amount of protein and double the fiber of brown rice.

 

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Pistachios are one of the lowest calorie nuts, at only 4kcal per average sized nut, you can enjoy around 40 of these delicious nuts for a healthy 160 kcal snack – I also find the process of cracking & eating quite theraputic! They are great sources of protein (around 20g for every 100g consumed), healthy fats, antoixidants, vitamins and minerals; a great all rounder and easy to carry in your bag for an on the go energy source.

 

So there you have it, a thorough but not exhaustive list of veggie and vegan proteins to help you get the most out of your month of Veganuary! Now off to the gym…

 

All images courtesy of Getty Images.

Vegan Spicy Tomato, Vegetable & Bean Soup

Vegan Tomato, Vegetable & Bean Soup
Vegan Tomato, Vegetable & Bean Soup
I have 2 delicious & exciting new recipes to share with you this week.
First up is a warming wholesome spicy tomato soup, packed full of winter veg and nourishing white beans.
I quite often throw together a vegetable stew but in the interest of value, and wanting to make it last all week for lunch at work, I decided to put my thinking cap on and try something a little different this time.
What I didn’t want was a watery, flavourless soup so this one is jam packed with herbs, spices & tasty vegan stock.
Here’s what you’ll need :
The Ingredients
* 1 x large white onion, diced
* 300g x carrots, peeled & sliced
* 3 x garlic cloves, peeled & minced
* 1 x large red chilli, finely chopped
* 1/2 x large or 1 x medium sweet potato, peeled & sliced
* 1 x medium butternut squash, peeled & sliced
* 1 x courgette, sliced
* 100g x curly kale
* 1 x tin of white beans (I used haricot)
* 1 x tin chopped tomatoes
* 500g x passata
* 1 litre x vegan stock (I used Bouillon)
* 1 tsp x dried basil
* 1 tsp x dried oregano
* 1 tsp x dried thyme
* 1 tbsp x smoked paprika
* 1 x tsp ground cayenne pepper
* Salt & pepper to taste
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I know what you’re thinking & you’re right, that is a lot of ingredients. Feel free to leave out or substitute whatever you fancy. I used what I had in the fridge but this is such a versatile recipe that you can pretty much use what ever veg you have. Next time I might even add some wholewheat fusilli pasta too!
Here’s how you make it :
Ooh one more thing first; I’ve been trying not to cook with oil recently. I know some have a lot of health benefits in them (rapeseed oil for example, is low in saturated fats, packed with omega 3 & vitamin E, high in monounsaturated fats and contains no artificial preservatives and is trans fat and GM free!), but they contain so many calories that I’ve been looking for a lighter way. Bear with me here, I’ve been using water. Just enough to coat whatever I’m cooking, and create a little steam. You don’t get that crispness or chargrilled skins that you might when cooking with oil, but it works just fine & is absolutely calorie free!
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The Method
1. Heat about 5mm of water in a large, deep casserole dish
2. Once bubbling add diced onion, sliced carrots, minced garlic and red chilli
3. “Fry” for a few minutes, until the onion starts to soften
4. Next add the sliced courgette, sweet potato and butternut squash, along with all the herbs & spices, and season with salt & pepper
5. Add the stock, passata & tinned tomatoes then simmer for 15 minutes
6. Add the beans and simmer for a further 10 minutes
7. Add the kale and cook for a final 5 minutes – you can adjust seasoning at any point so make sure you taste as you go
8. Serve!
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I split mine in to Tupperware for the week’s lunches, but you should be able to get about 6 portions out of these ingredients.
Next up Avocado Courgetti + Balsamic Vegetables…

Valentina Fine Italian Food – East Sheen

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If you ever find yourself in East Sheen – I know, it’s a long shot, but that’s exactly where I found myself this Wednesday evening – I can highly recommend Valentina for some fine Italian dining.
I decided to show my love for one of my beautiful best friends, Hollie, by making the 3 hour round trip to East Sheen, to see her beautiful new flat. In return she showed her love for me, by contacting a few of her favourite local restaurants, to see if any of them could rustle me up some vegan delicacies.
The first to respond was Valentina, and so that’s where we found ourselves, plus another of our best friends, the lovely Kate, at 210 Upper Richmond Road West.
After a quick study of the menu and a brief chat with the waitress and the chef, we made our selections.
Valentina
HERE’S WHAT WE ATE :
Starters to share :
* OLIVONI £2.95 (V) (GF)
Giant green olives from Puglia
* PRIMAVERA £2.95 (V)
A selection of mushrooms, olives, sun dried tomatoes, garlic and artichokes marinated in olive oil
* CIPOLLE £2.95 (V)
Baby onions pickled in balsamic vinegar
 And then the pizzas:
VEGETARIANA £9.75 (V)
A selection of mixed vegetables on a tomato base, finished with extra virgin olive oil (ME)
 * BIANCA VALENTINA £11.95
San Daniele ham, mozzarella, rocket and parmesan shavings with a black truffle dressing (KATE)
* CALABRESE (Piccante – Spicy) £10.45
Mozzarella, basil and tomato topped with spicy Ventricina salami and finished with chilli oil (HOLLIE)
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The food was all delicious. I wolfed down my whole pizza, whilst my 2 besties struggled – I put it down to all that cheese! Less cheese, more pizza ladies, it’s the way forward.
No room for dessert, so we called it a night – I had a long journey ahead of me. All in all, a very enjoyable meal and the kind people at Valentina went over and above by recommending things that were suitable for my vegan diet.
Valentina is also an Italian deli, so would be a great place to pop for a morning coffee and maybe pick up something yummy for lunch.
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I would recommend – if you ever find yourself round that way!
Come back soon for more vegan recipes, tips, brands and products. In the meantime check out my Instagram – @isitveganuk.

3 Ingredient Vegan Breakfast Cookies!

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I’ve always wanted an excuse to have chocolate for breakfast, and actually just recently I’ve been adding just a smidge of 90% organic dark chocolate to my breakfast overnight oats. So here’s a quick and easy “breakfast” recipe for you all. I’ve actually knocked these babies up this evening for a vegan dinner party I’m going to tomorrow night. I didn’t have many ingredients or time, but these treats don’t need much of either.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 x cup of oats (gluten free is you can find)
  • Chocolate chips (cacao nibs are ideal, however I mixed things up a bit and used 3 x packets of Tesco dairy free “chocolate buttons”

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EQUIPMENT (so minimal, just like the ingredients!):

  • A bowl
  • A fork for mashing and mixing
  • A baking tray
  • Cookie cutter, but not absolutely necessary

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 175C
  2. Mash bananas
  3. Add mashed bananas and oats to a bowl and mix well
  4. Add cacao nibs, “chocolate buttons”, whatever sweet vegan treat you are using, and mix well again
  5. Grease your baking tray
  6. Place cookie mixture on your greased tray, about 1 x tablespoon of the mixture at a time – I used a heart cookie cutter to shape mine (though the boyfriend told me they looked like mice heads)
  7. Bake for about 15-20 minutes

Remove from the oven and leave to cool. You might like to “ice” your cookies with nut frosting or sift cocao powder lightly over them, it’s completely up to you. I’ve also added dried fruit in the past, or perhaps some cinnamon might be to your taste.

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Quick and oh so easy cookies.

Come back soon for more vegan recipes, tips, brands and products. In the meantime check out my Instagram – @isitveganuk.

Vegan Carrot & Walnut Cupcakes

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I have been meaning to tell you about my carrot and walnut cupcakes for quite a while, and promised I would do so in a recent post. This is a recipe that I’ve adapted and veganised. Originally I made it as a whole cake. This time around I wanted to give it a bit of the “cute” factor, and seeing as vegan cupcakes aren’t readily available at my local bakery or cake shop, I decided to do it myself.

I also intended to take them to share with my yoga foundation course girls, and I must say they went down a treat. A few of these lovely ladies have been asking me for the recipe; Mohini, Saffee, Harriet, Nicole – here it finally is. I hope it was worth the wait!

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INGREDIENTS:

For the cake:

  • 2 & ¼ x cups of brown rice flour (you can pick your own flour, but choose wisely. I went with brown rice as it makes my recipe gluten free!)
  • 3 x teaspoons baking powder (someone once gave me a great tip – always buy new baking powder when baking without eggs, don’t use the old stuff that’s been in your cupboard for years, or your bake won’t rise)
  • 1 x teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 x teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ x teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 x teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup applesauce (see my vegan recipe here : vegan homemade no added sugar apple sauce)
  • 1 x cup almond milk
  • 2 x teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 x cup unrefined cane sugar
  • ½ x cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3 x large carrots, grated
  • 1 x cup walnuts, crushed

For the “icing”:

  • 1 x cup cashews
  • ¼ x cup almond milk
  • ¼ x cup maple syrup
  • 2 x tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 x teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 x teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ x teaspoon salt

Carrot and Walnut Cupcakes

EQUIPMENT:

  • High powered food processor, Magimix, Vitamix or similar
  • Kitchen Aid or similar
  • Cupcake baking tray
  • Cupcake cases

METHOD:

  1. Preheat your oven to 165C and place your 12 cupcake cases in your cupcake / muffin tray in preparation
  2. Sieve your choice of flour in to a mixing bowl and whisk together with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt (I used a Kitchen Aid for this, but you can just as easily do it by hand)
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the applesauce, almond milk, vanilla, sugar and coconut oil
  4. And these wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the Kitchen Aid, or whatever you are using
  5. Fold in the grated carrots and crushed walnuts
  6. Fill each cupcake case about 2/3s  full with the cake mixture
  7. Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes (when ready you should be able to pull a toothpick out clean)
  8. These little beauties need to cool completely before you “ice” them, so while they’re cooling, you can mix up the “icing”
  9. You’ll need a powerful food processor for this – blend all the “icing” ingredients together. You may need to add a little dash of extra almond milk to get it going. Start off slow and increase the blender speed as you go. Sweeten with sugar, or make it more tangy with lemon juice, it’s your preference.
  10. Keep blending until very smooth and then chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. You want it to firm up enough so you can spoon or pipe it on to the cupcakes
  11. Decorate as you wish. I used extra crushed walnuts to sprinkle on top, but lemon peel might also be a nice touch.

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Make sure to store anything you don’t immediately scoff in the fridge, or your delicious icing will likely melt. This will also keep your cupcakes fresher for longer.

Some nut “icing” recipes will suggest you soak you nuts (cashews, macadamia or whatever) in water over night. I did this the first time I made this kind of “icing”, but have since found that as long as you have a powerful enough processor, and perhaps blend in batches, soaking isn’t really necessary and will actually only make it harder to blend your “icing” in to a smooth paste.

So there you have it. Another vegan treat recipe. As always, let me know how you get on. Any suggestions for recipe amendments, I’d love to hear them, all feedback welcome.

Come back soon for more vegan recipes, tips, brands and products. In the meantime check out my Instagram – @isitveganuk.

Vegan (almost raw) Chocolate Orange Tarte

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I made chocolate brownies not so long ago, and whilst I loved them – chocolate, what’s not to love, right? – the boyfriend wondered if they might have been better as a pie/tart/torte, something to do with the density. So I have created my Chocolate Orange Tarte and am going to share the recipe with you.

Although not strictly “raw”, this recipe doesn’t require any baking, but does involve some steaming and melting, plus some of the individual ingredients themselves already been cooked in their production.

INGREDIENTS :

For the “tarte” :

  • 500 – 600g sweet potatoes, steamed
  • 4 x tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 150g organic vegan dark chocolate, melted
  • 3 x tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 x pinch of salt
  • 1x handful pistachios, crushed
  • 1 x orange,  juice and zest

For the base :

  • 150g almonds, ground
  • 100g walnuts, crushed
  • 100g cashews, crushed
  • 250g medjool dates, blended
  • 3 x tablespoons coconut butter, melted
  • 1 x tablespoon maple syrup

EQUIPMENT :

  • Blender
  • 8 x small tart tins, or 1 x large tin
  • Small saucepan, to melt coconut oil
  • Steamer

METHOD :

  1. First make your base. You can actually use any combination of nuts that you so desire. I like to grind my almonds up to make a “flour”, whilst leaving the walnuts and cashews in bigger pieces, to give my base more of a crunch
  2. Grind or blend your nuts and mix together in a large bowl, adding the blended medjool dates, melted coconut butter and maple syrup
  3. Grease your tart tins, I used Pure Olive spread, and add your base mixture. You’ll need to push the mixture down firmly to form a crust
  4. Place your tart tins in the freezer and start to make your tarte mixture

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  1.  Steam the sweet potatoes until soft, this will take about 10-15 minutes
  2. Whilst your sweet potatoes are steaming, melt your dark chocolate and place in a big mixing bowl
  3. Once the potatoes are nice and soft, mash up and add to the melted chocolate, along with the rest of the” tarte” ingredients – cacao powder, maple syrup, salt, pistachios, orange juice and zest
  4. Mix all the ingredients together, take your bases out of the freezer and add tarte mixture. I’d recommend you pipe the mixture in as it will be quite thick. Piping will giving you a neater finish. I did not pipe mine and so, according to the boyfriend, they had a “rustic” look
  5. Place “tartes” in the fridge and let the mixture set

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Once these little beauties have set, it should be easy to remove them from their tins. I then dusted mine with more raw cacao power, crushed pistachios and orange peel.

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I didn’t use any flour in this receipt as I didn’t want to do any actual baking. However, next time I am going to try baking the bases before adding the “tarte” mixture, to give it a nice crunch and a bit of a different texture.

If you don’t eat these all at once – I tried, but they’re too rich even for me – they’ll need to be kept in the fridge or they will melt. Although, thinking about it now, they might be quite delicious as a melted mess, with a bit of vegan ice cream… mmmmm…

I took these to my yoga course this weekend and I think they were a hit. As promised guys, here’s the recipe, and the recipe for my carrot & walnut cupcakes (with cashew frosting!) will follow soon too!

So that’s that then, my Chocolate Orange Tartes. Make, eat, enjoy, let me know what you think.

Come back soon for more vegan recipes, tips, brands and products. In the meantime check out my Instagram – @isitveganuk.

IsItVeganUK Goes to Barcelona – Day 1 : Friday 31st Nov 2014

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If you follow my Instagram (@isitveganuk), you may have noticed that I have just spent a beautiful and delicious weekend with the boyfriend in Barcelona.

I thought I’d share my vegan findings with you, in the hope of inspiring some vegan travelling, to this, my favourite of all cities – where we hope to move one day.

This was our second visit to this historical and foodie city, however this was a very different experience for us both. We were meat eaters the first time around and so this trip required some intense research and planning. We both suffer from a very common affliction – Food Strops! – and so being hungry in a fairly unfamiliar city, with no vegan offerings in sight, simply could not happen. I actually took a stash of Nakd Cashew Cookie bars (which the boyfriend is now sick of, while I remain absolutely smitten) to keep on me at all times, in case either of us felt the irrational anger that comes with hunger creeping up on us.

Before I get started on Barcelona itself, I must point out that we were able to get a very green and rather lovely sandwich from Pret A Manger at Stansted Airport. Enticed by the name – “Super Greens” – I was so happy to discover it was vegan and contained some rather healthy ingredients : wholegrain bread * avocado * kale dressing (wild mushrooms, lemon juice and tofu) * spinach * red peppers * toasted almonds (ingenious) * Pret seasoning. I’d reccommend if you’re ever out and about and need something quick and safe – a very good vegan option that’ll keep you going. Check it out : http://www.pret.com/menu/sandwiches/super_greens_PUK5336.shtm

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  After a quick flight, most of which I slept through given the ungodly early hour, and a brief pit stop at our hotel, we went in search of nourishment and stumbled upon Teresa Carles’ Flax & Kale – the boyfriend commented “that must be vegan with a name like that”. I had actaully read about this place beforehand, as the Teresa Carles restaurant itself had been reccommended to me on Instagram by @bcnfoodies. Flax & Kale is 1/3 of Teresa Carles’ food empire and despite what the name suggests, is not actual vegan, or even vegetarian, but is a healthy “flexitarian” restaurant – 80% plant based + 20% oily fish. We didn’t eat here, but luckily attached to Flax & Kale is another 1/3 of the empire, Teresa’s Juicery whose moto is JUICE BETTER > BE HAPPIER > LIVE LONGER, and serves a mixture of cold pressed juices, purees and mylks. All vegan, all cleansing and all refreshingly delicious. I stuck with my current green theme and ordered “Green Medicine”, while the boyfriend ordered a very colourful “Antiox”.

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These nutricious juices kept us sustained as we strolled down to the Gothic Quarter, perused some of the stalls selling general knick knacks, then sought out somewhere to enjoy some olives and coca bread with tomatoes (something we enjoyed most nights as an appetiser).

Next on the vegan hit list was Cat Bar, which I had read about from another blogger, that apparently serve not only the best burgers in Barcelona, but the best burgers (“vegan or not”) this particular blogger has ever eaten – http://keepinitkind.com/vegan-travel-barcelona-spain-part-1/ . Hidden down a quiet back street, Cat Bar took much searching to find, but eventually we did and took a table in the back. This place has a huge selection of vegan beers, we even found Brew Dogs’ Punk IPA here, despite being brewed in Scotland! The food however, despite being tasty enough, with HUGE portions, seemed to be an after thought to accompany the alcohol.

Here’s what we ordered :

  • “Crazy” Nut/Seed Burger (me)
  • “Mexican Red” Spicy Burger (the boyfriend)
  • 2 x spicy houmous + potatoes + salad (both – this was a mistake)
  • Pumpkin Ale (the boyfriend)
  • Weiss (wheat) beer (me)

  Now there wasn’t really anything wrong with the food. The houmous was nice and spicy, but you know, it’s houmous… The potatoes were lovely and hot, which is just how I like my chips/wedges etc, but again, just potatoes. I might have been expecting too much from the burgers, and while they were nice enough and definitely filled a hole, the buns were far too big and drowned the burgers patties. And what of the patties themselves? I can’t really remember, kind of says it all really doesn’t it? Needless to say we couldn’t finish everything, and left full but not overly impressed.

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We didn’t go back to Cat Bar. In fact I think there was only 1 place we did go to more than once (multiple times!) – Gopal, but more on that later. There were far too many other vegan hot spots that we wanted try try, and we were only there for a few days. I cann’t say for sure that I definitely wouldn’t go back to Cat Bar the next time I’m in Barcelona, but next time it might just be to sample more of their amazing beer selection, rather than for a full meal.

So that wraps up the first day of our vegan tour of Barcelona last weekend. Come back to find out how we spent World Vegan Day on Saturday 1st November !!!

Follow my Instagram (@isitveganuk) for more of my vegan musings, recipes, visits, finds and of course images.

Malibu Baking – Rum & Raisin Cake – Banana & Rum Bread

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My friends over at Mailbu HQ sent me a bottle of their original rum and asked me to bake something special for World Vegan Day – which is November 1st by the way, and kicks off a whole month of celebrating all that is good and vegan in the world, check it out :
I kicked off a weekend with a lovely little vegan rum & raisin cake recipe. I’d usually use rum extract in this recipe but this time I substituted it for the real stuff. I may have taken it a little easy with the rum, so feel free to add a little more if you really want to get that beautiful coconut flavour coming through nice and strong. A deliciously moist fat free vegan cake – give it a go. As delicious enjoyed with a cup of tea of as an afternoon snack, as with ice cream (vegan of course) for dessert.
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Vegan Malibu and Raisin Cake
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 ½ x cups brown rice flour
  • ½ x cup light brown sugar (I use Tate & Lyle as it’s vegan friendly)
  • 2 x teaspoons baking powder (this has to be fresh in order for the batter to rise)
  • 1 x cup almond milk (can substitute for other nut milks)
  • 1 x pinch of salt
  • ¼ x cup apple sauce (I use homemade, check out my post for the recipe – http://isitveganuk.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/homemade-no-added-sugar-apple-sauce/ )
  • 1 x cup raisins
  • 2 x tablespoons Malibu Original

METHOD

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
2. Line a loaf tin with baking paper
3. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and stir well
4. Add the almond milk and applesauce and stir again
5. Add raisins and Malibu and stir for a final time
6. Pour your batter in the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes
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Second on my weekend venture in to all things Malibu, was a variation on a classic loaf of Banana Bread – with added Malibu for good measure, obviously.
I went all out with this recipe and added in double the quantity I’d previously used in the Rum & Raisin Cake. I thought the strength of the banana and cinnamon would even it out. Indeed it did, once again you can probably add a little bit more if you so desire.
This recipe is seriously simple, I don’t like complicated bakes. Made with only a handful of ingredients it’s so easy to throw together, though it does take a while to bake.
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 Vegan Banana and Malibu Bread
INGREDIENTS
  • 5 x large over-ripe bananas
  • 1 x cup of almonds
  • 2 x cup of pecans
  • 1 x cup of brown rice flour
  • ½ x cup of maple syrup (you can substitute for agave syrup or similar, but the maple syrup adds to the sweet nutty flavour)
  • 3 x tablespoons flax seeds (you can swap for chia seeds if you prefer)
  • 2 x tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 x tablespoons Malibu Original

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METHOD

1. Pre-heat your oven to 150C

2. Blend the almonds and pecans in a food processor to form a flour. I had to do mine in batches, about a handful at a time

3. Once all your nuts are blended to a flour, put in to a mixing bowl and along with the brown rice flour, maple syrup, flax seeds and cinnamon, and mix everything together.

4. Peel and mash all the bananas the bananas until smooth, then stir into the bread mix

You’ll end up with quite a wet sticky mixture, don’t worry, this is the right consistency

5. Use coconut oil to grease your trusty loaf tin and pour the mix in

6. Bake in your pre-heated oven for about 1 hour

 

I use a toothpick or skewer to check my bakes are cooked the way through. Stick it in to the centre of the cake / load, if it comes out clean, you’re done. If there’s mixture or batter left on the toothpick or skewer when it comes out, pop it in for a little longer – this will have to be a judgement call.

I had a slice, ok 2 slices, of this delicious bread after dinner this evening, with a thin layer of Meridians Crunchy 100% Peanut Butter. It can however be enjoyed on it own as it has so much flavour, but always accompanied with a cup of tea.

 

So there you have it, my weekend spent indulging in Malibu, though not in the way I usually would! Try out these recipes for yourself and let me know what you think. Too much or not enough rum? That’s the important question!

Oh and just to note, I used brown rice flour in both of my bakes, as its naturally gluten free, but you really could substitute for any flour you like.

Come back soon for more vegan recipes and keep up to date with my vegan life in London on my Instagram page – @IsItVeganUK

Vegan Homemade – no added sugar – Apple Sauce

Apples 23.10.2014Apple sauce 23.10.2014

This weekend I will be baking vegan carrot cake cupcakes, to give to my local coffee / cake shop, a bit of an experiment – and I might even share them with my yoga gang during our course on Saturday.

Now usually I would use shop-bought (shhhh!) apple sauce, this time however, as I had a little extra time on my hands this evening, I decided to make my own. I like to do this when ever possible, so I can always be absolutely sure what goes in to my food, and ultimately in to me!

This is a simple recipe and method, so I’ll get straight to it :

RECIPE

Should make about 3 – 4 cups of apple sauce

  • 5 or 6 apples – Completely your choice here;  pick some organic apples up from your local farmer’s market, or grab some from your local supermarket
  • 1 cup water
  •  1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

METHOD

  1. Peel, core and chop the apples
  2. Pour water in to a large-ish sauce pan and bring to the boil
  3.  Add all the ingredients in to the sauce pan and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, giving it a good stir every now and then
  4.  Blend to your preferred constancy

And that’s about it. You can add sweetness if you think it needs it, but it is actually quite sweet already. I’ve kept mine quite chunky for the moment, as it will break down further when I cook it in to my yummy little carrot cake cupcakes tomorrow!

More of that to follow, recipe, method images etc. But just as a final little note, don’t throw your apple peels away. This is where most of the nutrients are! Find another use:

Compost if you don’t want to consume, Or…

Beetroot etc smoothie - 23.10.2014

… Make a delicious and cleansing juice :

  • Apple peel
  • Leftover water from the apple sauce
  • Beetroot
  • Ginger
  •  Cucumber
  •  Carrot
  • Orange

Give it a try, let me know how you get on. I am always on the hunt for the perfect vegan beetroot smoothie or juice. I have the most amazingly simple beetroot juice (ingredients not that dissimilar from above) from Total Organics in Borough Market. I’ve not quite cracked it yet so suggests are always welcome!

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