Vegan Double Chocolate Cake

In honour of National Chocolate Day this week, I shared a pic on Instagram of a dairy & egg free chocolate cake I made recently. I had a few requests for the recipe, so here it is folks, enjoy!

Cake Ingredients

  • 340g self raising flour
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 400ml soya, almond or rice milk
  • 160ml light rapeseed oil
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients

  • 75g dairy-free margarine
  • 75g vegetable fat (shortening)
  • 650g icing sugar
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • Around 80-100ml soya, almond or rice milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Cake Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180’C (350’F / gas mark 4) and grease 2 round 20cm cake tins.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl, then stir in the cocoa powder, caster sugar and baking powder.
  3. Add the milk, oil and vanilla, stirring until just combined. Don’t overmix or you’ll knock any air out and your cake won’t rise properly. To stop the rising agents working too quickly, tap the bowl on your kitchen counter and you should see little bubbles popping.
  4. Spoon half of the mixture into each cake tin and tap the tins a final time on the work surface.
  5. Put in the oven and bake for about 18-20 minutes. You’ll know the cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in to the middle of the cakes, comes out clean. They should feel springy to the touch.
  6. Leave the cakes in the tins to cool for about 15-20 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack until completely cooled.

Buttercream Method

  1. Use an electric or handheld mixer to whip together the margarine, vegetable fat and vanilla, until creamy in texture.
  2. Add half the icing sugar, all the cocoa powder and milk, and continue to mix. Start slowly, then bring up the speed until combined.
  3. Add the rest of the icing sugar and mix for about 1 minute until you have a smooth consistency.
  4. If your icing is too firm, add a bit more milk; too thin, add a bit more icing sugar.

Finishing Touches

  1. Spread the bottom layer of your cake with a nice thick helping of buttercream.
  2. Place the second layer on top and smother with more buttercream, covering the sides too.
  3. At this point you can either leave with this simple finish, or perhaps decorate with iced buttercream flowers on top, or even vegan biscuits or chocolate pieces.


Depending on who I’m making this cake for, and whether I want to at least try making it a bit healthier (or just slightly less naughty), you can swap out the caster sugar  for coconut sugar, the self raising flour for a gluten-free self raising blend flour, and the cocoa powder for unsweetened cacao powder.


This is a rich and decadent cake, so I’ve also experimented with different buttercream flavours. If the double chocolate is a bit much for you, try using a simple vanilla buttercream instead – just increase the icing sugar quantity to 750g, remove the cocoa powder completely, whilst reducing the milk quantity to just 40-60ml.


Have a go and let me know how you get on!

Adapted from a Turkish Delight Cake recipe by Ms. Cupcake.

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.

Which Foods to Eat for Maximum Plant Based Nutrition

I don’t know about you, but as a vegan I often get asked if my diet can be complete without animal produce. How do I get enough protein for example, or where do I get calcium or iron from? So I thought I’d pull together a quick, though not definitive, list of plant based foods that pack a nutritious punch.

Essential for all living beings, Calcium is a main material in our bones and teeth. Find it in:

  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spinach

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An Iron deficiency can cause anemia, a decreased number of red blood cells, and leave you feeling weak, tired and irritable. Avoid these symptoms by consuming these foods:

  • Beans
  • Brown rice
  • Curly kale
  • Dried fruits (apricots)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach
  • Watercress

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Beta-carotene is found in colourful fruits and vegetables. Although it is not actually an essential nutrient, our bodies convert it in to Vitamin A, which gives us healthy skin and immune systems, along with good eye health and vision. Find it in:

  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Red bell pepper
  • Spinach

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Vitamin D helps to regulate calcium and phosphate in our bodies. A lack of Vitamin D can lead to bone deformities lick rickets in children, and bone pain called osteomalacia in adults. Keep yourself topped up with these foods:

  • Mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight
  • Sunshine

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Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can prevent free-radicals forming in our tissue. Find it in:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Spinach
  • Wheatgerm

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Vitamin K helps our blood to clot and form scabs on wounds in order for them to heal.

  • Broccoli
  • Cereals
  • Spinach

Vitamin C protects our cells and keeps them healthy, which in turn helps with healing. In extreme cases, a lack of Vitamin C can cause scurvy. Up your intake by munching on these foods:

  • Blackcurrants
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Potatoes
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Strawberries

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Folate and Folic Acid are water-soluble forms of Vitamin B. Folate is the natural form, whilst folic acid is the synthetic form that is added to foods like cereals, flour, breads, pastas, cookies, crackers etc, becuase it is great at treating low levels of folate in our blood, which can cause conditions such as anemia.

  • Avocado
  • Brown rice
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Peas
  • Spinach

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A Complete Protein contains all the essential amino acids that cannot be synthesised by our bodies, but are crucial to help our muscles repair themselves. All you athletes and yogi out there, make sure you eat plenty of these foods:

  • Buckwheat
  • Chia
  • Hempseed
  • Quinoa
  • Soybeans

 

And also a combination of these Incompete Proteins:

  • Beans
  • Cereal
  • Chickpeas
  • Nut and seeds

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Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of fuel, used easily for energy and needed for our central nervous systems, kidneys, brain and muscles (including our heart) to function properly. Found in these different forms:

  • Fiber from the fleshy part of fruits, oats, dries beans, peas and vegetables with their skins on
  • Starch from bread, rice, potatoes and pasta
  • Sugars from fruits

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Fiber can prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and even some cancers, as well as improving our digestive health. Fiber is only found in foods that come from plants. Non-vegan foods such as meat, fish and dairy do not contain any fiber at all! There are 2 types of diaetary fiber – soluble or insoluble – and our bodies deal with them differently. Our bodies digest soluble fiber, whilst insoluble fiber passed through us undigested, helping to move other foods through our digestive systems.

  • Soluble:
  • Fruite, such as bananas and apples
  • Golden linseeds
  • Oats, barley and rye
  • Root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes

 

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  • Insoluble:
  • Bran
  • Cereals
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Wholemeal bread

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Fat Soluble Vitamins vs. Water Soluble Vitamins:

  • Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are found in fatty and oily foods. These vitamins are crucial for optimum health
  • Water soluble vitamins (C, B and B9) cannot be stored in the body, so they need regular replenishment. Many dieticians recommend steaming or grilling these foods, rather than boiling, as these vitamin types can easily be lost through heat or air exposure

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!

How To Up Your Calcium Without Dairy

Another informative emailer from Sheer Luxe today, especially if you’re a vegan who is looking to up their calcium intake through plants!

As a vegan I am often asked how I get enough protein in my dietwithout eating meat, but calcium is also another one people question me on.

So many thanks to Sheer Luxe for speaking to Kris Carr, New York Times and #1 Amazon best-selling author, wellness activist and cancer thriver, and putting together this very thorough list on how to get your daily intake of vegan calcium.

“How To Up Your Calcium Without Dairy

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From strengthening bones / teeth and ensuring normal cell function to regulating muscle contractions like your heartbeat and ensuring blood clots normally, calcium is absolute must when it comes to health. But don’t fret, glugging down gallons of milk is not compulsory if you’re to hit your daily quota.

Women need around 1,000mg of calcium a day, so whether you’re lactose intolerant or just not all that mad on diary, cut out and keep this handy guide to getting your calcium kicks…

🌱 1 cup of Non-Dairy Milk (nut, hemp, flax) = 200-300mg
🌱 Green Smoothie = 517mg
🌱 2 Cups of Raw Kale = 201 mg
🌱 2 tbsp of Chia Seeds = 179 mg
🌱 2 cups of Raw Collards = 167mg
🌱 2 tbsp Tahini = 126mg”

If you’re interested in learning more top tips, you should definitely check out Kris Carr’s website. She offers free tips from her books, and some great looking recipes; I am definitely going to try Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini-Cilantro Vinaigrette and her Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies. She also offers a free “Starter Kit & 3-day meal plan, plus weekly motivation straight to your inbox!”

IMG_2594Kris Carr

Roundup of Veganuary Vegan for 1 Week

As a thank you for helping a colleague out at work, she said she’d be vegan for 1 week during Veganuary. After much discussions, 6 more girls jumped on board, and this is how me +6 meat eaters +1 veggie embarked on 1 week of veganism for Veganuary.

Between us we devised a cunning plan to make it an easy transition for everyone : 5 of us would make a lunch that everyone could share, the others would provide snacks and vegan staples like almond milk, Pure olive spread, fruit etc.

After much discussion about what is and isn’t considered vegan (honey was a bit of a debating point!), everyone embarked on a weekly shop to stop up on all things vegan, sending me photos for confirmation along the way…

IMG_2307Faye’s shop

IMG_2306Marissa’s stash

Each day we were treated to new recipes, details of which are in separate posts, all the links are below.
Here’s a roundup of our findings, along with everyone’s amazing vegan recipes – Lynne’s homemade sundried tomato bread was a personal favourite!

🍃Monday – Amy’s Roasted Vegetables with Houmous and Salad in Pitta Breads

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🍃Tuesday – Lynne’s Chickpea Stew with Salad and Homemade Sundried Tomato Bread

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🍃Wednesday – Marissa’s Sweet Potato Chilli

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🍃Thursday – Alice’s Green Quinoa Salad

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🍃Friday – “My” Vietnamese Bun-Cha with Hoisin Tofu

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To indulge my love of baking I also made Peanut Butter Cookies.

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There were 3 girls who unfortunately (Faye might say “thankfully”) didn’t have an opportunity to cook. Here are their finding of the week:

🍃First up – Faye :

“My thoughts on the week:

🌿Originally, I didn’t think that I would’ve been able to do it, but I found it relatively easy and didn’t have too many cravings for non-vegan foods e.g. my faves like cheese, cakes, sweets etc…

🌿I enjoyed doing it; it was fun to eat together and discuss our meals and get ideas from each other.

🌿I loved trying new foods – I hadn’t previously had tofu or Quinoa but was pleasantly surprised!

🌿Shopping was very hard, it can be timely and expensive to find alternatives – you really have to do your planning and prep beforehand!

🌿I felt extremely full for the week, to the point of discomfort and felt very bloated. My body didn’t seem to react well to the change in diet for the first few days

🌿Picking up snacks on the go is hard as you have to be really careful of what you can eat.

🌿I didn’t find it all that sociable outside of work as I would have to eat a separate meal to family.

🌿I went out for dinner to Banana Tree based on a recommendation and the Veg Stir Fry was delicious, as was the fried dough. I will definitely visit again and didn’t miss the meat in the meal that I had.

🌿Finding restaurants to eat out at was hard and you have to ensure your friends are on board and don’t mind going somewhere off the beaten track to cater for vegan needs.

🌿I thought it would end up being a bit of a diet – a healthy week but I actually ended up putting on 3-4 pounds!

🌿All in all, an eye opener and I think on reflection I have more vegan meals that I thought…even my lunch today is vegan!

🌿I will definitely be adding chick peas, quinoa, sweet potato chili, coconut milk and Pure spread to my shopping lists in the future”

🍃Next – Hannah :

“🌿Loved trying new things! Had never tried Chickpeas, Tofu and Quinoa and I liked them all!
🌿Surprised at how many meals you can make without meat
🌿Best news was finding out that Oreo’s were Vegan
🌿Was really fun to do it in a group and all have lunches together
🌿The Vegan Flapjacks were amazing
🌿Surprised at how much I didn’t actually miss meat that much. It was more the little snacky things, like a chocolate bar or my daily Mini Cheddars!

The things I found difficult:
🌿The sudden change in diet did make me feel really bloated and quite sick by about Wednesday but that was probably just because it was such a change and only for a short time
🌿I found eating out was difficult! I had planned to go to Nando’s and couldn’t have chicken!! The peri peri houmous and pitta is amazing but not such a fan of the veggie burger – sorry!”

🍃Last but not least – Carly (+ her yummy vegan flapjack recipe) :

“I’ve made some notes –

🌿Being a Vegetarian, I was curious to try a Vegan diet for general Health & Wellbeing reasons.

🌿I thought it would be extremely difficult to find things to eat. As a Vegetarian, I know how limited the options can be, particularly when eating out or in the canteen at work. I also thought some of the Vegan recipes looked/sounded a little dull and unappealing. I love my tea and always drink Soya Milk instead of regular milk so knew that wouldn’t be an issue!

🌿I didn’t find it as difficult as I originally thought when eating out or in the canteen at work. There was always something I could have. When faced with a restricted diet, I managed to resist some of the more unhealthy meals and treats that I would normally succumb to. I was pleasantly surprised by all of the Vegan meals and recipes I tried throughout the course of the week. They were far tastier than they looked and sounded.

🌿I occasionally felt hungry late afternoon during the week, however that is fairly typical for me. I haven’t felt particularly bloated. I did suffer from a sore stomach early on in the week but don’t feel that it was linked to the diet.

🌿I haven’t noticed any difference in my sleep patterns or amounts of energy, however I’m sure that I would over a longer period of time.

🌿I have eaten in the Canteen several times this week, when I ate a Jacket Potato with Lentil Curry and salad, Jacket Potato with Bean Chilli, Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry with Rice. On Wednesday I ate in a local restaurant. I struggled to find anything on the menu that was Vegan so took the Veggie Burger (Brioche Bun and Cheese removed), salad and switched the chips for their famous ‘Rice and Peas’.

🌿My partner is used to eating Vegetarian meals so really didn’t mind the new diet (though he was eating normally at work!) The Design team are guilty of snacking on unhealthy chocolates and sweets on a fairly regular basis so it was difficult not to partake in that! Again, I found it easier to say no on the Vegan diet than if I were simply trying to ‘be good’ and not eat unhealthy treats.

🌿I prepared ahead and found some recipes at the weekend to cook for the week, we are lucky in Crouch End there are lots of lovely Fruit & Vegetable shops as well as Health Food shops with everything you could possibly need. I know I would have found it much more difficult if I hadn’t done that. Walking into a shop like M&S which is mostly Ready Meals, I would have really struggled to pull a decent meal together. All in all, I think I will continue to eat a Vegetarian diet but will definitely continue to eat Vegan meals too so please continue to share your good recipes. :)”

IMG_2316Carly’s vegan flapjack cookies

I have chosen to live a vegan lifestyle and not consume any animal derived products, not only because I want to save animals (practicing yogic Ahimsa – non-violence), but also because I believe it to be the only sustainable diet. I think this was a great experiment and a good way to introduce people to a new type of diet. Often it’s not as scary as you think it is. I’m trying to convince them all to continue doing this 1 day / week, so we only have to prepare something once every 8 weeks, but for now I’m giving them a bit of a break. I think the bloating experienced by most could have been due to an increase in dietary fiber, and so the digestive system having to work harder. I think that over a longer period of time your body gets used to the change and you really start to feel the benefits : a better night’s sleep, more energy, improved sense of taste, clearer & brighter skin… And who wouldn’t want that?

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…

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.

IMG_0870

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 !!!

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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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Vegan (Superfood) Chocolate Brownies !!

So I’m not going to lie, I like sweet things. “Sweet tooth” doesn’t quite cover it, but might go someway to explaining why I jumped at the chance to eat 9 (!!!) consecutive chocolate bars, when challenged by a “friend” at college –  added bonus, my “friend” even provided the bars. This tendency to over indulge in all things sweet might, also explain why I have always been a little bit well rounded.

Since going vegan about 6 months ago, I have eschewed most sweet treats but just recently, my cravings have come bubbling (sometimes quite violently) to the surface. I love a Nakd Cashew Cookie bar as much as the next person, in fact they satisfied my cravings for quite a while, but at the moment they just don’t quite cut it.

My absolute fave (do far) of all the Nakd bars
My absolute fave (so far) of all the Nakd bars

This week I discovered Camden Markets’ Cookies & Scream. I traipsed across town in the rain, to purchase a selection of sweet vegan treats for my boyfriends birthday.

Vegan Birthday treats for the boyf' from Cookies & Scream
Vegan Birthday treats for the boyf’ from Cookies & Scream

Now, delicious as they were, and believe me they really were – I devoured most of them, big surprise! – unless you make them yourself, you can never be entirely sure of exactly what goes in to these delicious morsels.

So I decided to give it a go myself! Here’s the recipe for my “superfood” chocolate brownies. Have a look at the results, give it a go yourself, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and see how your brownies turn out.

RECIPE

  • 3 x medium sweet potatoes (the “superfood”!)
  • 12 x medjool dates, pitted
  • 75g brown rice flour
  • 100g vegan dark chocolate, melted
  • 100g cacao nibs
  • 100g pistachios, shelled and crushed
  • 1 x generous glug maple syrup
  • 1 x tsp cinnamon
  • 1 x orange, zest of

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees
  2. Steam sweet potatoes – you can boil them, but I find they retain too much water that way
  3. Once cooked, use a food processor and pulse sweet potatoes and dates together
  4. Then fold in the rest of the ingredients
  5. Place in brownie baking tin of your choice – I lined mine with baking paper, to make it easier to slide brownies out when baked (my boyfriends’ top tip : use some olive spread to stick baking paper in place)
  6. Cook for somewhere between 20-25 minutes, depending on oven
  7. Remove from baking tin, using the baking paper, and cool on a wire rack
  8. once cooled, after about 15 minutes, dust with cocoa powder (& if you fancy it,  desiccated coconut too)
Mmmm - superfood vegan chocolate brownies
Mmmm – superfood vegan chocolate brownies

Store in the fridge – they’re actually better the next day, after they’ve had time to set. Give it a go. Play with the ingredients, maybe add some dried fruit, or different nuts? Let me know how you get on. I’d love to see the results and what other flavour combinations you’ve enjoyed. Oh and by the way, these are a great source of vegan protein. 100g vegan dark chocolate contains 10g protein!

Check back again soon for more more vegan tips and recipes.

BLOG : http://www.isitveganuk.wordpress.com

INSTAGRAM : @isitveganuk

Vegan Cottage Pie Recipe

In my quest to make more interesting and (anything but brown) colourful vegan meals, whilst keeping the protein content high, I adapted this BBC Good Food recipe for a good old comforting Cottage Pie (link to original recipe at the bottom of page).

I made the following substitutions :

For the pie :

  • olive oil – for rapeseed oil, not for vegan purposes but because it is better to cook with
  • beef mince – for soya mince (my first time using!)
  • plain flour – for brown rice flour, just healthier
  • red wine (optional) – I left this out, sober for October
  • beef stock – for Bouillon vegetable stock
  • Worcestershire sauce (not vegan FYI) – for balsamic vinegar
  • Neal's Yard Soya Protein Mince
    Neal’s Yard Soya Protein Mince

For the mash :

  • potatoes – for sweet potatoes, they are a superfood after all
  • milk – for unsweetened almond milk
  • butter – for Pure dairy free olive spread
  • strong cheddar – didn’t use or substitute (I’m not a fan of vegan cheeses)

I also added a layer of Heinz reduced sugar and salt baked beans – any excuse to add in some extra vegan protein, plus it keeps the whole dish lovely and moist.

The full amended recipe :

Vegan "cottage pie" using savoury soya mince!
Vegan “cottage pie” using savoury soya mince!

For the pie :

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1¼kg soya mince (312.5g unsoaked)
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • handful frozen peas
  • handful frozen broad beans
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp brown rice flour
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 850ml Bouillon vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • few thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to season

For the mash :

  • 1.8kg sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 150ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 25g olive butter
  •  salt and pepper to season

And the method :

  1. Soak the soya mince as instructed on packet. Heat the oil into the pan, add the vegetables and cook on a gentle heat until soft, about 20 mins. Add the garlic, brown rice flour and tomato purée, increase the heat and cook for a few mins, then add the soya mince to the pan. Pour over the wine, if using, and boil to reduce it slightly before adding the stock, balsamic vinegar and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 mins. By this time the gravy should be thick and coating the mince & veg. Check after about 30 mins – if a lot of liquid remains, increase the heat slightly to reduce the gravy a little. Season well, then discard the bay leaves and thyme stalks.
  2. Meanwhile, make the mash. In a large saucepan, cover the sweet potatoes in cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain well, then allow to steam-dry for a few mins. Mash well with the almond milk and olive butter, season with some salt and pepper.
  3. Spoon meat into ovenproof dish. Add a layer of baked beans, if using, pipe or spoon on the mash to cover. If eating straight away, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and cook for 25-30 mins, or until the topping is golden. Or allow to cool and then freeze.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/775643/cottage-pie