Quick and Easy Vegan Stir-Fry

IMG_20171106_094123_939.jpgI have always maintained a balanced diet and always been conscious of eating lots of fresh fruit and veggies.  Fruit and vegetables are taken for granted and shockingly each year almost half of all fruit and vegetables produced are wasted.  Why does this all go to waste when it is packed with high contents of goodness, nutrients and vitamins?

I always try to consume a large amount of green vegetables to keep my body happy and healthy.  They are high in dietary fiber (helps to grab pollutants and other unnecessary things within the body and dispose of them before they are absorbed), rich in folic acid (vital for growth and development), many vitamins such as A, C, E and K, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of phytochemicals and a hefty source of antioxidants.  Wow… that was a mouthful.  Also, green foods are very low in sugars and because they’re packed with fiber and water, they actually help to regulate your blood sugar levels throughout the day.

So… the idea of this blog post was to briefly inform you all of the wonders of the green world and to inspire you to create meals packed with goodness and what easier way than making a vegan stir-fry?  I absolutely love stir-fry, it is ridiculously simple and you consume a variety of veggies without realising it!  Great for meal prepping, as you can make a huge wok full of stir-fry and save a portion for your lunch the next day (this is what I do when I am only cooking for myself).

I haven’t experimented with making many stir-fry sauces yet… apart from the yummy sauce used in this recipe.  I would always recommend making your own sauce as you can control the sugar levels and you will not add any silly unnecessary extras, homemade is always the safer and healthier option.  But if you are in a rush, there are many stir-fry sauces out there in the supermarkets, but just be sure to check the nutritional information, as the sugar levels can be quite scary.

The sauce I created is super simple and involves minimal ingredients… my main focus was to include Ginger as I am a huge fan and of its benefits… helps with digestion, nausea, great cold and flu relief, pain reduction, inflammation and reduces cholesterol, lowers the risk of blood clotting, and helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.  My other main ingredient was soy sauce, which is not as bad as it is made out to be, if you choose the lower sodium options and believe it or not soy sauce does have some benefits.  After researching the internet I came across this useful bit of information… ‘In 2005, the “Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering” published a review of several studies conducted on soy sauce and found that it was very high in shoyuflavones, a natural antioxidant.  Natural antioxidants protect your body from damage from free radicals, which your body makes naturally as it digests food.  Free radicals can speed up the aging process, as well as potentially increasing your risk of developing heart disease or cancer.  The author of the review concluded that the antioxidants in soy sauce helped reduce the effects of inflammation, as well as improved overall gastric acid production, thus helping with digestion.  Additionally, the antimicrobial properties of soy sauce were found to be effective in protecting the body from certain bacteria.’

I always live by the rule of everything in small doses, do not always fear away from ingredients because they have bad reputation of having high salt high sugar, etc.  As long as you are not over indulging, then I am sure you will still remain perfectly healthy.  Balance is key and having the occasional treat is good for you.

Enough of the facts, I will show you how I made this super speedy stir-fry.

Ingredients:

  • Stir-fry veggies (I purchase the cheap family sized bag that has all the stir-fry veggies prepared)
  • Long stem broccoli
  • Super-snaps (my obsession at the moment and packed with Vitamin C)
  • Rice noodles
  • Vegan chicken style pieces (I purchase these from Tesco as they are vegan, always check the packaging for chicken style pieces as sometimes they contain egg)
  • Sesame seeds (for decoration)
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) toasted sesame oil for sautéing (or substitute  for olive oil or coconut)

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) low-sodium soy sauce (make sure it’s gluten-free if gluten-free)
  • 1 Tbsp (6 g) fresh grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp (27 g) organic brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) agave or maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
  • 1 Tbsp (7 g) cornstarch

Method:

  1. Firstly, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients – keep to one side.
  2. Heat a large wok on medium heat, add sesame oil and swirl to coat. Cook the chicken style pieces until golden brown.
  3. Add all stir-fry veggies and toss around all the ingredients together. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often. When the vegetables have some colour and have softened a little, add the sauce and stir. It should bubble and thicken.
  4. In another pan, add sesame oil and when the pan is heated add rice noodles.
  5. Cook the rice noodles for around 3-5 minutes and the other pan with veggies in will require this much cooking time. Ensure you stir both pans often. When veggies are cooked to your preferred doneness, remove from heat. I prefer to serve my noodles and veg separate, but you can combine them together in the pan if you desire.
  6. Serve the noodles and then place the stir fry veg and fake chicken on top, sprinkle with sesame seeds and you are ready to enjoy! Best when eaten fresh, though will keep in the refrigerator for a couple days.

Tips:

I enjoy my veg being quite crunchy, so I do not cook them for too long, but if you prefer your veg softer cook for a longer time.  You could also part boil your long stem broccoli and add to the stir fry pan.

The sauce I have created is quite sweet and mild; if you enjoy spice, just add fresh chopped chillies and maybe a little garlic.  The sauce is very versatile, so if you want to adapt it to suit your taste buds then that is perfectly fine!

Ensure you do use a large wok for your stir-fry, as it can be rather annoying when your stir-fry veggies go flying everywhere.

You can decorate your dish with many things such as chopped nuts, chopped herbs and sesame seeds.

Advertisements

Vegan Halloweeny Cupcakes!

DSC_0087

Who does not love cupcakes?  Finally, I decided to give them a go!

Not only did I bake cupcakes, I made them Halloween themed.  Perfect to make with family and friends and they are so fun to decorate.  They are great if you have any food allergies with dairy or eggs and if you are vegan then they will suit all your needs.

This was my first attempt at making vegan cupcakes and it took me 2 bakes before I perfected the recipe.  What I have learnt with baking and especially vegan baking is not to expect every baking attempt to be super easy and have a successful outcome.  Everything requires patience and you may have to trial things several times before creating a masterpiece.  I personally think when you make baking mistakes, it allows you to really challenge yourself to recreate the recipe and you learn from your mistakes.  Do not give up when you fail and create a baking disaster, stay in the kitchen and try again!   If you are like me and you are not a defeatist, baking is just right for you, because you will continue to strive until you achieve.

As it is Halloween I wanted to make this blog post quite short and to the point so you can put on your little apron, bake these little monsters and give them away to all the trick or treaters… or eat the majority of them to yourself (yes I am guilty of doing that). They are a yummy treat and you 100% know that no dairy and no animal harm is involved.

The buttercream is rather addictive, so if you are maybe trying to be good I would probably hide away the left over buttercream, as I licked the bowl clean.  Or get your baking assistant/food taster to take it away from you!

My biggest tip when it comes to decorating your little cute cupcakes, would be to buy a piping bag to make your life a whole lot easier.  Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way and yes I did make my own piping bags as they had sold out in my local supermarket (everyone had clearly gone baking crazy around this Halloweeny time).  If you are a rather relaxed person in the kitchen, then this will be fine for you, but it does require patience and a delicate hand.  Oh and it did create a little mess… but I always make a mess in the kitchen anyway.  There is nothing wrong with making little shortcuts sometimes, do not feel as if you are cheating yourself purchasing a ready made piping bag… I will not judge you!

Ingredients:

  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 100ml soya milk
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil/coconut oil/vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 ½ – 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp orange food colouring

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream

  • 450g of powdered icing sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 45g vegan margarine/butter
  • 60ml soya milk (or any other plant-based milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 small tube of black food colouring gel (if you are using food colouring liquid, add a teaspoon at a time until you achieve the desired colour)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  2. Place cupcake cases into the hollows of a 12-cup bun tin.
  3. Measure and sift out the flour, sugar and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, measure out the soya milk and oil, then stir in the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk it up until you achieve a smooth texture, ensure you beat lots of air into the mixture as this will allow your little cupcakes to rise.
  5. Whisk in your food colouring, if you feel the mixture does not appear a vibrant orange colour, keep adding food colouring until the desired look is achieved.
  6. Quickly distribute the mixture evenly across the cake cases and bake for around 15-18 minutes. (Check the cupcakes with a skewer once removed out of the oven, if the skewer comes out clean you know they are cooked thoroughly).
  7. Cool on a wire rack and crack on with your buttercream!
  8. To make the buttercream, add all ingredients into a bowl and slowly soften and combine the margarine with the back of a spoon.  Eventually and with a little patience the ingredients will start to all form together and create a thick black buttercream, if you feel the buttercream is not at the correct thickness carefully keep adding more icing sugar.
  9. Once the cupcakes are cool, spoon the buttercream into a piping bag and carefully squeeze the chocolate buttercream out to decorate your cupcakes.  I opted for a swirly pattern and placed edible eyes onto the buttercream.

Tips:

Ensure you really beat your cupcake mixture, the more air you cram into the mixture, the more those little cupcakes will rise.

Do not be stingy with the amount of food colouring you use, food colouring does weaken in the oven, so do not panic when your uncooked cake mixture is illuminous orange… it needs to be a strong colour!

There is no issue with baking alone, but I would always recommend asking for assistance at times, because having others around can help with creating ideas for decorating the cupcakes and you can make it a fun activity for you all!  I realised my boyfriend was a icing pro, so you never know the assistance could be very handy for you… or if not they could always help with tasting and tidying.

Do not panic if the cupcake mixture does not quite stretch over 12 cupcakes, my mix managed around 8 cupcakes.

DSC_0071

DSC_0094-2

DSC_0087

Diwali… With a Vegan Twist

Image result for diwali

Last Thursday I was invited to attend a Diwali get together.  I helped with the preparing of foods, ate lots of food (of course), drank Chai tea and even lit a couple of fireworks… which is definitely not like me as I am the biggest wimp ever!

As I walked into the house the first thing I was welcomed with was the smell of the authentic foods cooking.  The atmosphere in the house was lively, the family were welcoming and oh my they can feed you!  Candles lit the rooms, decorations were everywhere to be seen and everyone attending the get together was dressed beautifully for the occasion.

In the cooking they had used Vegetable Ghee, non-dairy products and a large quantity of chickpeas!  Chickpeas are amazing… Help control blood sugar levels, improve digestion thanks to a high fibre content, boasts high levels of iron, zinc, folate, phosphorus, and B vitamins and a great source of plant-based protein.

For this occasion, they took a more Indian street foody style, which was perfect for me, as I love snacky foods and having the choice of trying little bits of everything (I am greedy and very indecisive, so giving me many different flavours of foods is perfect).  They had even created lots of sweet treats, not all necessarily what would be classed as ‘traditional Indian sweets’ but it was so refreshing to see a modern twist and it was lovely to see that they had even used my cinnamon roll recipe and created a freshly cooked batch of chocolate cinnamon rolls… which were absolutely perfect.

20171024_225121.jpg

Of course I tried every single sweet treat, there was Oreo truffles, Bounty balls, Baklava, Chocolate Cinnamon rolls, Besan Ladoo (popular Indian sweet dish made of chickpea flour or gram flour, sugar and vegetable ghee) and Kaju Katli (cashew slice) in a ball form instead of the traditional diamond shape.

20171024_225008.jpg

Out of all the savoury foods there was to offer, I tried Panipuri, Aloo Tikka, Ragda Petis and Mathiya.  Panipuri is a common street snack in several regions of the Indian subcontinent.  It consists of a round, hollow puri (which I helped create), fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavoured water, tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion and chickpeas.

20171024_224704.jpg

Aloo Tikki is a North Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi snack made out of boiled potatoes, onions, various curry spices, salt and pepper.  “Aloo” means potato, and the word “tikki” means a small cutlet or croquette in Hindi, Marathi, and Tamil.

20171024_225937.jpg

Ragda pattice (sometimes incorrectly known as “patties”) is a popular fast food which forms part of the street food of Maharashtra and Gujarat.  This dish has two parts: ragda, a dried yellow pea stew and pattice, a fried potato cutlet.  Usually garnished with finely chopped onions, coriander leaves, spicy chutney, sweet and sour tamarind chutney and topped with Sev (a popular Indian snack food consisting of small pieces of crunchy noodles made from chickpea flour paste, which are seasoned with turmeric, cayenne, and ajwain before being deep-fried in oil.)

20171024_224115.jpg

Mathiya or Mathiya Papad is a Crispy Crunchy Diwali Delight from Gujarat, made from Lentils flour, which I would describe as a slightly spicy extra crunchy poppadum.

20171024_225531.jpg

Overall, I truly enjoyed my little self and I take great interest in trying different foods from all cultures.  I am always intrigued by others lifestyles, food choices and traditions, therefore the Diwali night definitely ticked all the boxes and inspired me to create all kinds of vegan foods.  I love seeing how people can adapt the vegan lifestyle and even make the most traditional foods vegan.

I hope those who celebrated Diwali had the best time and I hope you enjoyed reading my blog post!

 

HIGH PROTEIN Vegan Waffles

FB_IMG_1508793908465.jpgAfter only owning my waffle maker for a couple of weeks, I have gone waffle crazy and not stopped thinking of creations I can make with this wondrous little machine.  Since making plain waffles and topping them with yummy toppings, I decided to create a waffle with a high protein value.  It is great to be eaten before/after the gym or simply to maintain your protein intake in a day.

As they are high in protein they do keep you full for much longer and I suppose you can justify eating waffles for breakfast if they have the addition of extra protein (that’s what I like to say to myself).  If I am incorporating protein powder into my recipes, I usually stick to Prana Protein or Solo.  With this recipe I used Prana Protein as their chocolate flavoured protein powder is amazingly chocolatey and mixes well into the waffle mixture.  No lumps and no separation… Perfect!

If you are not following a vegan diet, I highly recommend switching to vegan protein as it has many benefits such as: contains a variety of nutrients, plants contain significant levels of nutrients including minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and other phytonutrients which are extremely  important to our health, lower in cholesterol and saturated fat, high in fibre – unlike animal proteins which contain little to no fibre, avoidance of hormones and antibiotics that find their way through animal farming and into meat, environmentally friendly as animal agriculture has an enormous impact on the environment, lower risk of health problems and vegan protein is much easier to digest and will not cause stomach upset/allergies as it is lactose free.

After mastering vegan waffles, I constantly ask myself why you would need dairy or eggs in waffles, as these are so light, fluffy and bouncy.  They are much cheaper, healthier, lactose free and easier on your digestive system than the usual waffle.  Also I find that opting for the vegan version of waffles; it is highly likely you already have 99% of the ingredients hiding away in the kitchen.  The only item you may not have if you are not vegan is soya milk.

I like to keep my recipes fairly simple and cost effective, as I know how frustrating it is when you have the urge to make something and you have to do a special supermarket visit just for the occasion.  Whereas it is great when you can just follow a simple recipe and you already have the ingredients or you only have to buy minimal items.

Let me share with you my recipe and I hope you enjoy the smell of yummy waffles cooking away in the morning, covering them with endless amounts of tasty toppings and eating them up in seconds.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of all purpose flour (156g)
  • 1 scoop of chocolate vegan protein powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 soya milk or any other non-dairy milk (300ml)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Switch your waffle machine on to heat up.
  2. Sift the flour and protein powder into a mixing bowl, add the baking powder and sugar.
  3. Add the soya milk, coconut oil and vanilla and whisk with a hand whisk to remove any lumps.  The batter will appear quite thin.
  4. When your waffle maker is heated, pour out the batter (use as much as recommended according to the waffle maker instructions) and close the machine.
  5. Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes until golden and crispy.
  6. Serve with any vegan topping you fancy.

Topping Ideas:

  • Vegan ice-cream
  • Dairy Free Yoghurt
  • Chopped nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Fruit
  • Banana, pecans and maple syrup
  • Jam
  • Whipped coconut cream
  • Agave syrup
  • Crushed Oreos
  • Be creative and share your waffles topping ideas with me (comment below).

Tips:

  • I have not experimented with other vegan protein powder flavours yet, but give it a go and let me know how your waffles turn out!
  • If you would like to purchase Prana Protein or Solo here are the links: https://www.pranaprotein.com https://www.wearesolo.com
  • If you do not already own a waffle maker and you are looking for the perfect one, I would recommend buying the Salter Deep Fill Waffle Maker, I purchased it from Asda for around £25.
  • Always grease your waffle maker, as this will stop your waffles from sticking.
  • Do not overload your waffle maker with batter, as this may cause a little over spilling disaster.
  • Ensure you whisk the batter thoroughly as this will make the waffles super light and fluffy!
  • In my waffle maker this mix made 3 huge waffles, but with a standard waffle maker it should make around 4.

FB_IMG_1508793914498.jpg

Vegan Waffles

20171007_195608.jpg

How great are waffles?  They can be made sweet or savoury… I opted for the sweet version of waffles, but keep your eyes out on my blog because I have thought of some great savoury options too!

When I thought of the idea of creating vegan waffles after seeing them constantly all over my Instagram feed, I didn’t realise how easy it would be to make them…. I was a little sceptical at first as I worried if they were going to be as light and fluffy as the usual non-vegan version.  But guys, this waffle recipe is amazing and makes the most perfect waffles ever!  I would never have thought they were vegan, there is no difference at all, except they are much healthier of course!  No eggs and no dairy, sounds perfect to me.

So if you are cutting back on your calories and you are not vegan, I would highly recommend you try this recipe if you would like a sweet treat and you could top them with a healthier topping such as agave and banana, or fruit compote and mixed berries.  And if you are vegan, well get in the kitchen and wait no longer to create the best waffles ever!

The day before making these waffles, I was wandering around Tesco and literally jumped for joy when I saw there was the new dairy free Ben&Jerry’s right before my eyes.  I couldn’t believe it.  Perfect timing considering I made waffles the next day, so Ben&Jerry’s helped to make my waffles absolutely delicious!

You can top your waffles with any amazing creations… on one waffle I chose Ben&Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge ice cream, Swedish Glace Vanilla ice cream, melted dark chocolate, chopped strawberries and all topped with chopped hazelnuts.  On another waffle I topped with Swedish Glace Vanilla ice cream, chopped strawberries and melted dark chocolate.  They were both perfect.

I am yet to create protein waffles too.  Since buying my waffle maker I have not stopped thinking of all the adventurous waffles I am going to create and star on my blog!  They are so simple, so there is no excuse to be eating boring foods and scrolling through your Instagram having food envy of everyone.  Follow this simple waffle recipe and go waffle crazy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/4 cups of all purpose flour (156g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 soya milk or any other non-dairy milk (300ml)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Put your waffle machine on to preheat.
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the baking powder and sugar.  Then add the soya milk, coconut oil and vanilla and whisk with a hand whisk to remove any lumps.  The batter will appear quite thin.
  3. When you waffle maker is heated, pour out the batter (use as much as recommended according to the waffle maker instructions) and close the machine.
  4. Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes until golden and crispy.
  5. Serve with any vegan topping you fancy.

Topping Ideas:

  • Vegan ice-cream
  • Chopped nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Fruit
  • Banana, pecans and maple syrup
  • Jam
  • Whipped coconut cream
  • Agave syrup
  • Crushed Oreos

Tips:

  • If you do not already have a waffle maker and you are looking for the perfect one, I would recommend buying the Salter Deep Fill Waffle Maker, I purchased it from Asda for around £25.
  • Always grease your waffle maker, as this will stop your waffles from sticking.
  • Do not overload your waffle maker with batter, as this may cause a little over spilling disaster.
  • Ensure you whisk the batter thoroughly as this will make the waffles super light and fluffy!
  • In my waffle maker this mix made 3 huge waffles, but with a standard waffle maker it should make around 4.

20171007_195702-1.jpg20171007_200717-1.jpg

5 Minute Vegan Chorizo Cheese Toastie

image1-6.JPG

Bubbling cheese on toast with chorizo made in less than 15 minutes, sounds like perfection… right?

After starting my bulk, I have definitely been consuming a lot more food than usual and lots of treaty food and one of the ultimate treat foods is definitely cheese on toast.  Cheese on toast is great to be eaten at any time of the day; breakfast, lunch, quick tea or even a late night snack.

Since trying vegan cheese, I was amazed of how similar It is to dairy cheese.  It melts perfectly and tastes just like cheese if not better, but does not have the high fat content, is not harming any animals and you do not feel like a heavy little hippo after eating it.

There are many positives with vegan cheeses they can be easier to digest, there is no lactose which means no gas and bloating.  Be sure to check the packaging but many vegan cheese are rich in good-for-you vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids like omega-3s.  And if you’re worried about missing out on the gut-friendly goodness that dairy cheese offers, rest assured that some plant-based brands add in probiotic-rich acidophilus.

I always choose to use Violife dairy free cheese…

  • Dairy, lactose, soya, palm oil and gluten free
  • No preservatives
  • Suitable for vegans and vegetarians
  • Contains coconut oil

Here is Violife’s nutritional information:

Typical Values Typical Values per 100g per serving (30g) RI*
Energy 1190kJ/285kcal 357kJ/85kcal 4%
Fat 23g 6.9g 10%
of which Saturates 21g 6.3g 31%
Carbohydrates 20g 6.0g
of which Sugars 0g 0g 0%
Proteins 0g 0g
Salt 2.3g 0.7g 12%
*: of an adult’s Reference Intake (RI) (2000kcal). 100g of product contains 285kcal, 14% of RI.

Now let’s compare dairy free cheese to Cathedral City…

Typical Values Typical Values (Typical values per 100g)
Energy 1725kJ / 416kcal
Fat 34.9g
(of which saturates) 21.7g
Carbohydrate 0.1g
(of which sugars) 0.1g
Protein 25.4g
Salt 1.8g
Calcium 739mg (92% NRV)
NRV = Nutrient Reference Value

Can I just point out the huge calorie and fat difference?  Is that not enough to make you want to swap that dairy cheese in your fridge for a non-dairy version?  You can finally eat cheese on toast without the guilt.  I am not giving you acceptance to now eat cheese on toast every day since you have swapped your cheese, but you can definitely enjoy it a little more without piling on the pounds and being a bloated little piggy.

If you suffer from migraines associated with eating cheese, or struggle with breakouts on your skin, I would definitely put the suffering on hold, swap your cheese and see the difference in yourself.

Now let’s get back to the super easy and tasty recipe…

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 block of Violife cheese (or any other plantbased alternative)
  • 2 slices of bread
  • Coconut oil
  • BBQ sauce
  • 2 Linda McCartney Chorizo Style Sausages

Method:

  1. Firstly you will need to cook your veggie sausages, I chose to cook them in a frying pan as this is much quicker than oven cooking them.  They will only take around 8 minutes in the pan on a high heat.
  2. Place a piece of bread into a toasty maker.
  3. Thinly slice the vegan cheese, place on the piece of bread in the toasty maker and lightly squirt BBQ sauce on top.
  4. Once the sausages are cooked, cut into small slices and place on the cheese on toast.
  5. Close the toasty maker and let it sizzle for around 2-3 minutes.
  6. Open the toasty maker, take the toasty out, put it onto a plate, cut into triangles and enjoy!

Vegan Chocolatey Flapjack

image1-3.JPG

I absolutely love oats and how versatile they are, but instead of using them this time for a breakfast creation I opted for a yummy flapjack… which could also be eaten at breakfast time if you’re a little piggy like me.

Flapjacks take me back to being in primary school, queuing up for my school lunch and the only part I was excited for was dessert.  They always seemed to make the biggest chunkiest and chewiest flapjacks… those dinner ladies were fab!  Or walking home from school and my Mum would treat us to a half coated chocolate flapjack triangle.

Well my love for flapjacks still has not disappeared… and they are super easy to make.  To make these flapjacks dairy free all you have to do is substitute the dairy butter/margarine for a dairy free alternative.  Even if you are not vegan or following a dairy free lifestyle, I would recommend trying something new and substituting for a dairy free margarine.  One big benefit of using dairy free margarine is that it does not come from animals, Margarine is an emulsion of vegetable fats and water and is a great cruelty-free alternative to butter.  Margarine also has the added benefit of being cholesterol-free!  And today, there are several brands of vegan margarine that nearly or totally trans-fat free.

Usually flapjacks are associated with large quantities of golden syrup, I chose to use agave syrup as it is a natural alternative to refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.  You can use golden syrup if you like, I just always try to go for the healthier option when possible, without changing the tastiness.

Last thing to mention is how quick, easy and cheap these flapjacks are!  They should only take around 45 mins to prepare and cook.  They definitely are not messy and do not require hundreds of unnecessary ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 125g dairy free margarine
  • 125g demerara sugar
  • 5tbsp golden syrup/agave syrup
  • 225g chunky porridge oats
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1 large bar of dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 190C, 375F, Gas Mark 5.
  2. Grease a 20cm sandwich tin (you can use dairy free margarine or coconut oil).
  3. Melt dairy free margarine in a large pan and stir in the sugar and syrup.
  4. Add porridge oats and ground ginger and mix well.
  5. Using the back of a metal spoon press mixture evenly over the base of the tin and smooth over.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes in the tin.
  7. Whilst the flapjack is cooling, break chocolate and place into a heatproof bowl.  Sit over a pan of barely simmering water (a bain marie) and allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally.
  8. When the flapjack is cooled, you are now ready to top with chocolate.  You can either simply cover the flapjacks with chocolate, drizzle lightly or half dip.  Be creative!
  9. Place into the fridge or leave somewhere cool whilst the chocolate sets, now you are ready to cut the flapjack into your desired shape.  Rectangles, squares, triangles… You decide.

Tips:

  • Ensure you do not go over the required cooking time, as the edges of flapjack can darken quite easily.  They may even need slightly less cooking time, depending on your oven.
  • Always check the ingredients for the dark chocolate to be sure it is dairy free.
  • You could sprinkle dessicated coconut over the melted chocolate to break up the colours and make them even more visually appealing.
  • If you prefer a fruitier flapjack you could add sultanas, raisins or even chopped dates into the mixture.
  • If you would like to pack the flapjacks with protein and make them more filling, chopped nuts are a good addition.

image1-5.JPG

Vegan Spicy Meatballs

DSC_1940-1

Possibly the easiest weekday meal I have made so far, which is still nutritious, healthy and is packed with a good balance of protein and carbohydrates.

When you work full time and lead a busy lifestyle sometimes you just really do not want to cook and spend what feels like your whole evening in the kitchen.  How many times have we said to ourselves that we wished we had our own personal chef, a vegan takeaway outside our house or we could just click and a yummy meal would be cooked and prepared right before our eyes?  But life just isn’t that easy for us all, so I try to create quick and easy vegan meals that should not take you more than 30/45 minutes to prepare and cook.  There are no excuses!  Since I have turned vegan I have found meals do not take as long to prepare or cook, as there are no long meat cooking times and cleaning up doesn’t seem to be such a chore as it requires very little mess.

When creating this dish I did opt for the super lazy route and even bought readymade vegan meatballs from my local supermarket (I recommend Asda or Sainsbury’s vegan meatballs), but you can create your own and I will definitely be looking into this soon, so keep an eye out on my blog!  Sometimes there is nothing wrong with buying supermarket made food items, especially when their macros are good and they are only £1.50!  Per quarter of a pack, they contain a whopping 14g of protein, only 5.9g of fat, 4.9g of carbohydrates, 4.7g of fibre and only 137kcal?!  To be honest, because I am rather greedy and I can consume a lot of food, I usually eat half a bag of these meatballs so that is 28g of protein in one meal.

When making this yummy dish, I tend to use Passata for my go to super quick sauce.  Passata is great when you are being lazy and it creates a much thicker and flavoursome sauce rather than using canned tomatoes.  I tend to not use canned tomatoes as they have lots of bad stigma regarding BPA’s, acidity and possible bacteria.  If you are not sure what the effects of BPA’s are, here is a brief insight:

  • hormonal disruption
  • reproductive harm
  • malformation of organs in children
  • risk of miscarriage
  • sperm defects
  • increased risk of mental disabilities in babies.

Not very pleasant… right?

You can also make your very own tomato sauce very simply with some tasty fresh tomatoes, just depends how much time you have on your hands.  I am definitely going to experiment more with this meal, but I have given you the easiest possible way of creating it so far.

Ingredients (enough to serve 2 hungry hippos):

  • 1 bag of vegan meatballs
  • 1 carton of passata (I usually buy passata with basil)
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder (or you can opt for 1 teaspoon of freshly crushed chillies)
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of oregano
  • 2 good sized handfuls of spaghetti (when I say handfuls, I literally put my hand into the packet of dried spaghetti and grab 2 servings… you can never have too much spaghetti)

Method:

  1. Cook the meatballs in the oven for around 18 minutes at 180C.
  2. Whilst the meatballs are cooking, in the last 10 minutes of cooking you can prepare your sauce, chop all vegetables and soften them in a large deep frying pan.
  3. Once softened, add a carton of passata into the pan, reduce the heat and let the pan simmer.
  4. Add all required herbs/spices and if you love experimenting feel free to add more!
  5. Whilst the sauce is simmering, fill a pan with boiling water and cook your spaghetti until al dente.
  6. Once the meatballs look slightly darker brown on the outside you know they are cooked, I prefer mine slightly crispy so sometimes I leave them in the oven a little longer.
  7. Serve your required portion size of spaghetti, layer on meatballs and pour over the sauce.

You now have your own quick and easy vegan spicy meatballs!

Tips:

I only use a very basic amount of herbs and spices, but feel free to add more.  Cumin, mixed herbs or a hotter chilli powder work perfectly.  I personally, prefer to use freshly chopped chillies, but powders are fine too!  You could even add chickpeas/kidney beans if you would like the meal to spread further and up the protein value.  Or if you have fresh vegetables that need using up, why not throw some chopped mushrooms in.

I try to cook with ingredients I already have in the cupboards, this makes it affordable, easy to cook without little preparation and minimal supermarket shops.

If you prefer your spaghetti to be more coated in sauce, you can add the spaghetti (once cooked) straight into the pan with sauce and stir it around.

You can also use vegan parmesan cheese to sprinkle over the meatballs, looks amazing in pictures and I have heard is very tasty… I am yet to try this.

If you have a spiraliser and fancy a change from normal pasta, feel free to make courgetti spaghetti which goes perfectly with the meatballs.

If you have any additions or changes you made, please comment below and let me know what you thought of the meal!

Soya Chilli Plantain

image1-2Another simple savoury dish… can you believe it?!

This meal is nutritious, high in protein and takes very little effort to make.  If you love the mix of sweet and savoury you will love this!

I had only ever tried fried plantain before, but baking plantain is amazing and is definitely healthier.  I have always been interested in creating new recipes and trying new foods… So incorporating plantain into easy meals was my new mission. 

Plantains are full of all kinds of health benefits such as: great source of potassium, beta-carotene, calcium, vitamin C, help regulates the digestive system, reduces the number of harmful free radicals, boosts the immune system, promotes healthy brain function and a great source of magnesium.

The chilli I used to accompany the plantain was soya mince based.  The health benefits of soya mince outweigh the usual beef mince, which are: soya is a great source of good quality protein, dietary fibre, full of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium & manganese, vitamins B6, E, K & folate and many soya foods are fortified with extra calcium and with vitamins D and B12.  Soya is also naturally low in saturated fat and salt and contains healthy omega-3 fat.

Perfect for lunch or tea, it will not break the bank buying the ingredients and should not take you longer than 45 minutes to make including cooking time.

Ingredients (enough to serve 2 hungry people):

  • 2 plantains
  • 1 packet of soya mince (I usually buy this from Tesco or Asda)
  • 1 carton of passata
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly crushed chillies (or can use 1 teaspoon of chilli powder and 1 teaspoon of paprika)
  • salt/pepper
  • olive oil

Method:

  1. Prepare your plantain by peeling it, putting it on a non-stick tray and coat the plantain with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cook this on 180C for 25 minutes.  Half way through cooking, turn the plantains over so they are evenly crisped on both sides.
  2. Whilst this is cooking you can prepare your chilli, start by chopping pepper and onion and throw this into a pan with olive oil to soften.
  3. Next add your soya mince and brown this off, soya mince cooks relatively quick so make sure you are continuously moving it around in the pan.
  4. Once the soya mince starts to look darker brown, add the passata, then start to season with the freshly crushed chillies.  This is your simple chilli mix done!
  5. When the plantains start to look goldeny brown, you know they are ready.  Bring them out of the oven, cut the plantain down the centre from top to bottom and fill with your yummy soya chilli!  How easy was that?!

Tips:

This is a very simple and versatile meal.  If you prefer more spice you could add extra herbs and spices, paprika and cumin go with the chilli well and if you wanted to make the meal even more nutritious and filling, you could add chickpeas and kidney beans to the chilli.

 

Spicy Lentil and Tomato Soup

image1

Can you believe I am posting normal food and not something sweet for once?  Yes it has been a while since I have posted something savoury.  After having requests to post some more every day meal ideas, I decided to share with you all my super easy soup recipe.  Nutritious, filling and doesn’t take a long time to cook at all.

This soup is perfect to be eaten for lunch or tea, it is also great to take to work with you.  I am never a fan of prepping my lunches, because nothing tastes the same at work… but this soup makes me feel like I am back at home and it keeps me full until my next meal time.

Enjoy with a nicely warm wholemeal bun, rye bread or even sweet potato fries… sounds odd but it works I promise!  Perfect for those cold wintery nights which will be approaching us very soon.

Ingredients:

  • 300g red lentils
  • 1 carton of tomato passata
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 medium sized potato (can be sweet potato or a white potato)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika powder
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sage
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly crushed chillies

Method:

  1. Start by putting the lentils into a large pan and cover with water which should be at least an inch over the lentils.
  2. Chop all vegetables into small chunks and blanch them for around 10 minutes in another separate pan.
  3. Transfer vegetables and the water into the pan with lentils and give it all a good mix.
  4. Start by adding all the herbs/spices into the pan and mix.
  5. Let the soup simmer for around 30 minutes.
  6. Once all vegetables are soft, you can take the soup off the heat and use a hand blender to carefully blend the soup (you can blend the soup into a very smooth consistency, or leave small chunks if you prefer a chunky soup).

Don’t forget your crusty warm roll to dip in and enjoy!