Sunday, 28 April 2013

Kale Chips

Ever since Christmas, I've been dying to use my food dehydrator, which my Mum and Sister gave me. For one reason and another I haven't had chance to use it until today!

As it was my first attempt I scoured the web for recipes for Kale Chips and found a few which used the same ingredients so I thought great minds think alike I'll do the same.

It wasn't until I checked my kitchen cupboards that I realised I hadn't got the main ingredient (other than the Kale); cashew nuts! I wasn't going to go to the shops just for the one ingredient so I thought I'm going to have to make do with what I've got!

Now I wanted a cheesy taste so I knew that nutritional yeast needed to be one of the main ingredients, the rest was just left overs from the fridge and a few herbs and spices. I was taking a shot in the dark with this one, but I'm happy to report it worked out just fine!

Ingredients
1 large bunch of kale
100ml ground almonds
50ml water
3 sundried tomatoes 
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Agave nectar
½ red pepper 
½ Tsp tumeric
½ Tsp onion granules
½ Tsp salt

Method
Remove the stems from the kale and chop the leaves into smaller pieces. Wash thoroughly and pat dry with a tea towel or kitchen paper. Transfer to a large bowl. Blend the remaining ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Pour the mixture on top of the kale and mix with your hands making sure all the leaves are evenly coated with the mixture. Transfer the leaves to a food dehydrator being careful not to overlap the leaves. Dehydrate at 70°C for 6 hours or until totally crispy.





Thursday, 25 April 2013

April Vegan Food Swap - What I Sent

Four days ago I blogged about the food swap box that I received from Finola, which was delicious. I have now eaten the bittersweet chocolate and the hazelnut cream wafers and started the speculoos biscuits. 

Hopefully my vegan food box of goodies has arrived at its destination and Stephen liked what he received.


I sent a mixture of sweet and savoury items and as usual sent over a box of graze vegan goodies too, my signature item if you wish.




In the graze box was roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds with soy sauce, habas tapas (jumbo chilli corn, roasted corn and chilli broad beans), herby bread basket (basil baguettes, garlic croutons and oregano rice crackers) and last but no means least tomato dipenetti.

The other savoury items I included were a packet of rosemary breadsticks, a carton of rice milk and a jar of tamarind paste.

In my world, to finish off a vegan swap box you need to add some sweet items. I added a slab of mandarin and ginger extra dark chocolate, an original flavour panda liquorice stick, a peanut brittle bar made by Mr Tom and a packet of the goody good stuff sweets, summer peaches. These really taste of summer!

I really hope Stephen enjoys his box of goodies. 



If you want to join in the vegan swap box revolution then sign up with To Happy Vegans, Sasha and Mitsu. They organise it all so all you need to do is make up a box of vegan goodies, spending £10 and send it to your assigned partner, simples!





Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Pizza with Spinach

We eat too much pizza! I've just checked and its not long since we ate pizza, but tonight we were both craving it. Hubby's was loaded with leftovers from the previous two nights dinners and mine, of course was a veggie pizza. I didn't have any vegan hard "sheese" at home but figured it would still taste good without it.



All I did was spread a little herb and garlic soft "sheese" onto a vegan pizza base. Next I mixed some left over salsa, a small carton of passata, mixed herbs and vegan pesto in a bowl and spread this onto the base over the top of the soft "sheese". Add your vegetables on top, I used red pepper, onion, courgette and mushrooms. Sprinkle with more mixed herbs and bake in a moderate oven for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and pile on the spinach leaves. Dress with oils of your choice (I used chilli oil and lemon & dill oil) and stuff your face silly! This was extremely filling but so tasty I ate every last mouthful.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Gardening at last!

I was woken up this morning at 6:18am by Marco, I'm sure he was trying to tell me the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day for an early morning walk! After a cup of Earl Grey and marmite on toast I looked out of the window and had to agree with him, it was a beautiful day and yes we would go on an early morning stroll. We ended up walking miles, even though I have lived here for 10 years I'm still finding more public footpaths to explore. Today we tried out a new path and had no idea where it would lead us. I prefer to do circular walks as I don't like coming back the same way we head out, which means sometimes the walks can be long!

As the weather was good we could see for miles once we got to the top of the hill, but unfortunately I hadn't brought my camera with me this morning, doh! We saw so many spring flowers in bloom and lots of birds singing their little beaks off. It was a great morning for an early morning stroll.

I decided whilst out walking that today was going to be the day I finally get my ass into gear and get back out in the garden. With the terrible weather we've been having and hospital visits to see S, I hadn't done anything, not even sown a seed in doors! I was well behind schedule. I hadn't bought any new seed let alone looked at my crop rotation chart and to be honest I felt lost, which was ridiculous as I've been gardening for years! I just needed to get organised, once I knew what I wanted to plant and eat I could look at my charts and get planning, so what if I was later than normal.

Then a guardian angel (or gardening angel) knocked on my door! My lovely neighbour, was standing at the door holding a massive tray of plants for me. I could have cried, how did she know how I was feeling? I was overwhelmed with her generosity, I considered my ass kicked and to the garden I marched.

I have two 1.8m² raised beds and I have turned one of my borders into a vegetable patch too. I decided I would concentrate on the border veg patch first, which was overgrown with weed and a toilet for the neighbourhood cats! I sprung into action and cleared the weeds and cat doo doo's in no time. Marco wondered what on earth was going on.

My friend had given me 4 tomato plants, 3 sprout plants, 3 garlic plants, 1 elephant garlic, 3 early & 7 main crop potato sets, 1 chop suey green plant (James Wong), 2 lettuce plants (sorry can't remember the name but I remember that they are from 1800's), 2 cut and come lettuce plants, 15 red onion sets & 1 lemon eucalyptus plant.

I potted the tomatoes in larger pots and gave them pride of place on my kitchen windowsill alongside my faithful basil plant which has lasted for months even though I forget quite regularly to water it! 



In my borders spinach seeds were sown, early potatoes, garlic both the elephant and the normal varieties, 8 red onions and chop suey greens were planted and my herbs sorted out and given a bit of TLC. To finish it off I cast over some net to attempt at stopping the cats using it as a toilet and Marco using it as his digging ground!

After finishing off the border I walked over to my raised beds to take a look if anything had grown other than weeds over the winter. To my amazement I had quite a bundle of purple sprouting broccoli. This will make an appearance in my recipe collection soon.  

Saturday, 20 April 2013

April Vegan Food Swap - What I Received

I can't believe how time flies! It only feels like yesterday when I was blogging about the March Vegan Food Swap Box. For all of you who don't know about this vegan goodies swap box system, it's a fantastic idea. To Happy Vegans organise it and every month you are assigned a partner to send a parcel of vegan goodies to and in return you receive your own parcel of surprise delights! This is my third time and I always get excited about what I might receive and putting together the box for my swap buddy. You really should give it a whirl.

This month I was sent a vegan swap box from Finola, who sent me a box of awesome goodies! Look at what I got.........



As you can see it was a delightful mix of sweet and savoury foods. In my parcel I got the following items:


  • Organic Cha Soba Noodles
  • Minestrone Soup Squeeze & Stir
  • Broad Beans, Roasted & Salted
  • Munchy Seeds
  • Nakd Bar, Rhubarb & Custard
  • Bittersweet Chocolate
  • Panda Original Liquorice
  • Panda Raspberry Liquorice
  • Hazelnut Cream Wafers
  • Speculaas Biscuits


I can't wait to use the Cha Soba Noodles, the packet suggests serving them hot or cold, so the first thing I'm going to try is a noodle salad continuing my work lunch theme.


I would never have guessed that Heinz make a soup suitable for vegans, so this is also an ideal work lunch. I can't wait to try the broad beans, I've had something similar once, on a visit to Cardiff I picked up a packet of satay broad beans which were delicious, so I have high hopes for these. 

I love munchy seeds and they are great as a snack or a topper to a salad or even on a houmous sandwich to give it a bit of crunch.

I always keep a stock of panda liquorice bars in my drawer at work and Finola must be psychic as I ate my last one on Friday and need to restock! Chocolate bars are always welcome and I've not come across this bar before, bittersweet chocolate. I will be delving in very soon. I've not seen the Hazelnut Cream Wafers before either, so I am looking forward to trying those.

Nakd Bars! You gotta love these beauty's, my favourite is chocolate orange but I've not seen this flavour before, Rhubarb and Custard. Will this flavour relpace my favourite so far?

Last and by no means least, the speculaas biscuits, in Finola's note she tells me they are gorgeous and I've seen a few other food bloggers rave about them. Apparantly you can also by them as a spread! I'll let you know my verdict soon.

Thanks Finola for a fantastic selection of vegan goodies, a lot of which I've not tried before.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Homemade Coleslaw

Today is just a quick post. I can't believe how busy I have been this week, time has just flown by.  I've been enjoying salads this week for lunch due to the weather being a little warmer. Now, lets not get carried away we're not talking shorts weather here, but the winter coat may get put back in the wardrobe. Weather reports suggest tomorrow is going to be warm and sunny! I won't get my hopes up, the weather seems to change from one extreme to another at the moment.

Today's recipe is homemade coleslaw and its super easy and quick to make and it beats the shop bought dairy version anytime!

Ingredients
1 Onion
1 Carrot
¼ Red cabbage
Salt & Pepper
Vegan Mayonnaise

Method
Finely slice the red cabbage and onion and transfer to a bowl. Grate the carrot and add to the bow. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add about a tablespoon of the vegan mayonnaise. Stir to combine making sure everything is evenly covered. Add more vegan mayonnaise if you think the mixture is a little dry for your taste.

 I used the vegan mayonnaise (solesse mayonnaise) that Hannah sent me last month in the vegan food swap box and I was pleasantly surprised. Last time I'd tried this mayonnaise I didn't enjoy it. but its amazing how your taste buds can change.

I received my vegan food parcel today too! Yay! I will post what I received from Finola soon. I'll also post what I sent my food swap buddy, Stephen too.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Med Veg Medley Puff

Tonight is another Mediterranean Vegetable dish. I'm craving Mediterranean vegetables at the moment, it must be because the weather has warmed up a little and we are enjoying a little sunshine. I can't wait until I can eat al fresco! 

Tonight I made hubby a salmon parcel which uses puff pastry, and as regular readers of my blog know, Jus Roll puff pastry is vegan so whenever I make hubby something with pastry I can enjoy a slice of pastry too. 

Ingredients
½ Sheet of Jus Roll Puff Pastry
2 Tbsp Vegan or Homemade pesto
1 Red Pepper
1 Onion
½ Aubergine
½ Courgette
4 Mushrooms
1 Tbsp Black olive tapenade
Handful of spinach leaves
Salt and pepper

To finish
Lemon & basil olive oil
Chilli olive oil


Method
Turn oven on to 180°C and while you wait for the oven to heat up chop all the vegetables to a similar size. Score a border in the puff pastry about ½ inch from the edge. Spread the pesto over the pastry excluding the border. Bake in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, this allows the base of the 'puff' to cook a little before we load the vegetables on! Whilst the pastry is baking saute the vegetables in a little olive oil until soft. Add the tapenade, salt ans pepper and stir to combine. Take off the heat. Remove the pastry from the oven and pile on the vegetable medley, keeping the border free. Bake in the oven until the pastry is golden brown, about 5-10 minutes. Remove form the oven and pile on the spinach leaves. Drizzle over the two oils and serve straight away.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta

Tonight, I needed something quick, I had a million and one things to do and no time to do them all. I raided the store cupboard to see what I had. Since turning vegan, every food shop I go in I search for vegan ingredients and my store cupboard has started to overflow because I can never say no, when I find something. 

Looking through my food cupboards I found an ariabetta sauce, a jar of caponata (a Sicilian aubergine sauce), a tin of chopped tomatoes and some pasta. Out of my fridge I found an aubergine, a leek, a courgette, onion, olives and a red pepper.

And so Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta was made.


Hopefully, you will start to see an improvement in my photographs as my birthday present was a digital SLR camera! Woohoooo! Please bare with me though I have a lot to learn. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Ready Steady Cook Challenge 1

A few days ago I asked readers to either facebook me or leave a comment on the blog which listed three ingredients and I would post a recipe which I believed showcased these ingredients. Now I haven't had hundreds of people suggesting three ingredients, phew, but I have had a couple and the first person to challenge me was Kiera.

She listed the following ingredients:
  • Tofu
  • Chickpeas
  • Beetroot
She also told me that she wasn't a huge fan of tofu and wanted something to tempt her into trying it again. The only time she had tried chickpeas was in houmous and beetroot didn't tempt her at all! This was a hard challenge, I needed to make something tasty which included three ingredients that Kiera wasn't very keen on.

Now, you will recall that I have been reviewing ready made vegan burgers and I decided that I should be making my own instead of buying processed food. So I thought I could roll the two challenges into one and make a burger with the ingredients Kiera had challenged me with. Everyone likes a good veggie burger don't they? The ingredients may not be showcased as such in this recipe but I thought to tempt Kiera back to the wonderful world of tofu we had to take fairy steps.

Well, Kiera here is the recipe that I hope tempts you to try tofu again.

BCT Burgers - Ingredients
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Small onion, thinly sliced
150g Tofu, pressed and grated
1 Cooked beetroot
80g Mushrooms, chopped and fried
50g Chickpeas
½ Carrot, grated
1 Garlic clove
2 Tbsp Garam flour (chickpea flour)
1tsp Smoked Paprika
½ Tsp Dried thyme
½ Tsp Chilli flakes
2 Slices jarred jalapenos
Salt and Pepper


Method
Fry the thinly sliced onions in the olive oil until they start to turn a caramel colour, add the chopped mushrooms and continue to fry until they have released their liquid and cooked through. Meanwhile grate the beetroot, tofu and carrot into a bowl and add the spices, garlic, herbs and salt & pepper. Mash the chickpeas and add to the bowl along with the cooked onion and mushrooms. Sprinkle over the garam flour and stir to combine thoroughly. The mixture should start to form a dough like ball, if not add more flour. With damp hands shape the mixture into two large patties and place on a greased baking tray. The mixture does make two very large patties so you may choose to divide the mixture into three or four patties. Bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes turning once.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Birthday Cakes

Its my Birthday! Well it was 1 week ago, but I didn't post anything on my blog, I was off having too much fun with Hubby and Marco. More to follow.....

When it's your birthday it is custom to take cakes in to work for your colleagues and this year was no exception. Although this year the cakes I was baking were all vegan. A few weeks ago I took in a selection of vegan cup cakes from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World: 75 Dairy-free Recipes for Cupcakes That Rule by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope". I was testing the water so to speak and thankfully I had some good feedback.


After my disaster with the lemon drizzle cake I decide to use pre-tested recipes and went searching on amazon. I bought "Divine Vegan Deserts: Over 100 Delectable Dairy and Egg-free Recipes, by Lisa Fabry". This book is amazing and all the recipes look so tasty, so I decided to give a few recipes a go. I ended up doing 4 recipes; Chocolate torte, Coffee & Walnut Cake, Chocolate Cake and Lemon Cake. As with most recipes I didn't follow the recipes to the letter! I made the lemon cake into a lemon drizzle cake and I altered the measurements for the Coffee & Walnut Cake as my cake pans were so much bigger. I didn't have any soy milk so I used almond milk for the Lemon and the Coffee & Walnut Cake and I used Chocolate Coconut milk for the other two cakes!

I only took three of the cakes to work as hubby always complains that he never gets to taste them! Although he was dubious after he thought they might all be vegan. Even though he loved, and I mean LOVED the chocolate cupcakes I made, which were all vegan he really has a phobia with vegan food. If he knows its vegan he won't even try it! It's so frustrating. It doesn't matter how good the food looks he just won't try it. So I have to tell a few white lies and don't eat the same food at the same time he eats it. Strange but true.
I decided to keep the Chocolate 
Torte for home and took the Coffee & Walnut Cake, Chocolate Cake and Lemon Drizzle Cake to work. The Chocolate 'ganache' on both the Chocolate Torte and the Chocolate Cake is made with silken tofu. And I was pleasantly surprised it was beautifully silky and had a rich chocolate taste without being over sweet.

Hubby said that the Chocolate Cake looked lovely but then asked if it was vegan (!). He hasn't tried the Chocolate Torte yet, so i'm waiting on the verdict!

My work colleagues were happy though, and didn't bat an eyelid that the cakes were all vegan. Another success story,, the chocolate cake had the most compliments, all I need to do now is make up my own cake recipe. I fancy adding ingredients that you wouldn't normally expect. 
I'm thinking beetroot ...........

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Lentil & Vegetable Loaf

Today I'm posting another recipe for spinach, the mother of green vegetables in my eyes. The father being Kale of course!

This loaf is full of flavoursome ingredients which are also very good for you, I haven't used salt or pepper as the loaf is packed full of herbs too. To top it all, the loaf also includes green lentils another food that's good for you, lentils are low in calories and high in nutrition. 

Since eating a vegan diet I have felt much better, friends have said I look great even though I've been going through a stressful time with S in hospital and work being mad as ever. I've lost weight without trying and I've got heaps more energy. My headaches have almost disappeared and my skin is glowing.

I'm enjoying a wider range of foods and I'm enjoying experimenting in the kitchen. OK sometimes recipes don't quite make the plate, but most of the time I'm happy with what I've created. I hope you like this power packed healthy nutritional vegetable loaf.

Ingredients
50ml Water
2 Tbs Ground flax seed
1Tbsp Rapeseed oil
1 x 400g Can of green lentils, washed and drained leaving around 260g lentils
100g Oats
1 Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
140g Courgette
100g Spinach
2 Tbsp Vegan pesto
75g Cahew nuts
1 Tsp Dried sage
1 Tsp Dried Marjoram
1 Tsp Dried Thyme

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Add the water to the ground flax seed and stir well to combine. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Add the cashews to a food processor and process until they are chopped very finely, careful not to over process as they may start to form a paste.

Dice the onion and garlic and saute in the rapeseed oil until translucent. Dice the courgette and add half to the onion and garlic, saute for 5 minutes. Shred the spinach leaves (including the stalks) and add to the pan with the dried herbs. Stir over a low heat until the spinach has wilted.

Add half the oats, half the green lentils and the remaining courgette to a food processor and process until chopped finely and thoroughly combined, almost to a paste.

Add the remaining lentils and oats to a large bowl and stir to combine, next add the vegetable mixture and stir again. Add the oat, lentil and courgette mixture and stir again. Add the ground cashes and vegan pesto and mix thoroughly to combine. Finely add the flax seed and water which should have formed into a sticky, gooey mixture and stir again making sure everything is well mixed. The mixture should almost be a dough like consistency, starting to hold together. 

Transfer the mixture to a lined loaf tin and press in firm using the back of a spoon, bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until golden on top.

Allow to cool before slicing, serve with Mediterranean roasted vegetables or salad.



Saturday, 13 April 2013

Bella Italia goes vegan

I know its hard to believe but its true! Bella Italia caters for vegans. Hubby loves the pizzas in there so when we went into town last Saturday, to buy my birthday present, I promised him we could go there. A few days before, I frantically searched the online menu to find out if there was anything that remotely looked like it was vegan, but found nothing bar olives and salad. So I decided to email their head office and ask if one of their restaurants would cater for a vegan. I soon received a reply: 
"At Bella Italia we can adapt our menu to cater for vegan options should you wish to dine with us.  All our pasta (except the tagliatelle) is vegan, as are our pizza bases; therefore you can then choose a pomodoro sauce which is vegan and just add vegetables to your pizza or pasta.
I would also recommend advising your waiter or waitress at the time of ordering of your dietary requirements, as they will be able to further advise you on the available options."

I felt more comfortable after receiving the email, and I was actually looking forward to eating out at the restaurant. The lady that served us couldn't have been more helpful, she was delightful, nothing was too much trouble.

I ordered a pizza which was loaded with roasted red and yellow peppers, courgettes, aubergines, mushrooms and instead of cheese I had fresh spinach leaves. This was drizzled with a basil olive oil and a chilli olive oil.

I don't know why cheese was ever put on pizzas after this experience, the flavours of the vegetables were more than enough. I'll definitely be visiting again soon, much to Hubbys delight.

 It was truly delicious, congratulations Bella Italia. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

The New Facebook Page

I decided to create a face book page for Self Sufficient Cafe as well as the blog. I can't promise this will be updated every day but I will try, honest.

Please feel free to take a look and leave any comments, likes or suggestions for future recipes.


I fancy challenging myself in the kitchen and came up with an idea that tests my cooking skills and creativeness in the kitchen. 

I'm going to run a series of 'ready steady cook' type recipes, where I'll ask you to leave a message either on the blog or on facebook which lists three ingredients, and I will put together a recipe that showcases these ingredients (hopefully). 

Its just for fun and to keep me on my toes, so I don't get bored or stuck in a rut making the same recipes time and time again. I'll follow the 'rules' of the ready steady cook programme and only add store cupboard ingredients to the three ingredients that you list and I will try and come up with a recipe to tempt your taste buds.

This won't be a daily occurrence of course but I'm hoping to do this once a fortnight to start the ball rolling. Try it and see what I come up with. 

Now that's what I call putting me on the spot! 




Thursday, 11 April 2013

ASDA Spicy Bean Burgers

Once again its time for another vegan food review and once again I'm reviewing a ready made vegan burger. "Wait", I hear you cry "I thought this series had finished"! I know, I know and it did finish with me saving the best to last the Goodlife Spinach and nut grill. But I found another vegan burger in one of the local supermarkets. This time the burger is from ASDA and its their Spicy Bean and Nacho Burger. This time I didn't put it on a burger bap but made it in to a tasty sandwich filling which I suppose is the same thing. I cooked all 4 of the burgers and had one for tea with chips and baked beans. You gotta love baked beans they are a vegans saviour! The remaining three I packaged up and had for lunch for the next three days. 



As with the other burger reviews I added lots of ingredients to the sandwich. On the bottom I added a mixture of salad leaves, cucumber, spring onion and beetroot and on the top tomato sauce and slices of pickled gherkins. 

The sandwich was a bit more difficult to eat than a burger in a bap as the 'burger' had been squashed and spread to fill the slice of bread. In fact I got into a bit of a mess every time I ate one! Thank goodness I had a box of tissues to hand.








These are not my favourite of the vegan burger world, but worthwhile to keep in the freezer as a stand by meal. The next burger I review will be one that I make myself, I can then control the ingredients that go into making the burger. I've tested a few now, and I know what I do and don't like in a veggie burger so watch this space for my own recipes.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Green Caribbean Smoothie

You will remember the other day I posted my Caribbean smoothie, this is a slight take on that recipe by just adding spinach! Yes, spinach! The news is riddled with articles about green vegetables and how they are so good for you. I was reading an article in Natural Health magazine about the top 5 nutritionally-dense varieties, which are broccoli, cabbage, spinach, leeks and kale. 

Kale can be an acquired taste, I've used it in stir fries, bubble and squeak and curry's but it also makes a wonderful crisp! Yep you read that right, a crisp, Kale Chips are very expensive to buy but so easy to make. I'll post a recipe here soon. Kale is very easy to grow too so not only is it good for you but cheap too!

Leeks are wonderful, I've used them in everything from stir fries to pies and even on their own as a side dish, I don't know anyone that doesn't like leeks apart from hubby of course who is adverse to vegetables unless he doesn't know there an ingredient in what he's eating! Sshhhh

Spinach is great! Even cartoon characters love it, remember Popeye? What more evidence do you need to know its good for you. I use this vegetable a lot and once again its very easy to grow. Its a win win!

Cabbage isn't my favourite vegetable in the world but it makes a great coleslaw and again I've thrown it into stir fries. In fact I haven't cooked with it much at all, until I bought one in the knock down section of the supermarket and made it the main ingredient. Check out my cabbage rolls, I posted some time back, they were delicious. I must experiment with this bad boy and see what else I can cook.

Broccoli has so many health rewards, its perfect for boosting your immune system, just don't over cook this veg, which is easily done. The best way to cook it is to lightly steam it, or use it in a stir fry. Boiling it will only make it go mushy and it will lose most of its health benefits.


It has been reported that some of the health benefits for these veg include:

Cholestrol-lowering (Cabbage)
Preventing heart disease (Spinach)
Energy production (Leeks)
Some evidence of preventing certain cancers (Kale, Spinach)
Fight of sniffles (Broccoli)

I'm not a nutritionalist or doctor so it's not research I have undertaken myself but there is lots for you to read out there and I think there has to be something in all this fuss - right? You are what you eat after all!


Over the next coming weeks I will blog some recipes that showcase these power vegetables, but for a starter for ten why don't you try my Caribbean Green Smoothie?

To make this green smoothie use the recipe for my Caribbean Pineapple Smoothie and add a handful of spinach and 2 tablespoons of vanilla soya yoghurt. You won't taste the spinach.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Banana Breakfast Mousse

During a stock take of my kitchen store cupboards (yes I do this quite regularly, sad but true) I came across a packet of silken tofu which needed eating as it had passed its best before date. I'm not that keen on silken tofu but I heard that it is used as an ingredient in vegan mousse. So I thought I'd give it a try. Now I was making breakfast so to make me feel a little better I needed to use some other ingredients which I deem breakfast ingredients, so here's what I did:

Ingredients
½ Pack of silken tofu
1 Banana
4 Tbsp Vanilla soy yoghurt
1 Tbsp Agave nectar
2 Tbsp Oats
¼ Pineapple



Method
Put all ingredients bar the pineapple into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Whilst the mixture is blending chop up the pineapple into chunks. Serve the mousse in a bowl and scatter the pineapple chunks over the top.

When I make this again I will let it sit for a while before eating, which will let the oats marinade in the liquid so to speak and become soft.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Artichoke, Butterbean & Olive Pie

I hadn't shopped for over a week, and if I'm honest the thought of driving to the supermarket and then walking round the busy aisles did not appeal to me today! So, once again I raided my store cupboards and fridge of things that I could use and needed using up. I do like a challenge. My cupboards were opened and the items that I chose included, a jar of sundried tomatoes and a tin of butterbeans. Next stop was the fridge, and it was rather bare to say the least, but I found a small jar of black chopped olives, a jar of artichokes, a lemon, 6 garlic and lemon olives, a packet of filo pastry and some bedraggled salad.

The next bit was the interesting bit, what could I make with these ingredients plus any herbs or spices that I had. If I was to use the filo pastry it needed to be a pie type dinner, but I didn't want anything rich and heavy, so a squeeze of lemon should help with that I thought.

After staring at the ingredients for what seemed like an age I decided that the butterbeans would be the main ingredient of the pie as this was the ingredient I had the most of, and the other ingredients would perk them up. And so artichoke, butterbean and olive pie was born.

Ingredients
2 small onions
1 Can of butterbeans
6 Sundried tomatoes
6 garlic and lemon olives
3 Tsp chopped black olives
120g Artichoke pieces
½ Lemon
1 Tsp garlic granules
Leaves from 3 stems of basil
Salt and Pepper
2 Sheets filo pastry

Method
Saute the onions in a little olive oil, until translucent, about five minutes. Whilst the onions are cooking drain the butterbeans and put ¾ of the tin in a food processor and blitz. The other ¼ of the tin cut each bean in half. This gives a little texture to the filling.  Add the beans and lemon juice to the onions and stir to combine thoroughly. Cut the sundried tomatoes into slithers, the garlic and lemon olives in half and dice the artichokes. Add to the butterbean and onion mixture with the chopped black olives and stir to combine. Finely shred the basil leaves and add to the mixture with the garlic granules, salt and pepper. Take off the heat and mix so every ingredient is distributed evenly throughout the mixture. 

Spray a small oven dish with a little oil and place 1 sheet of filo pastry over the dish, pushing the pastry into the sides and bottom of the dish but leaving the remaining pastry hanging over the side. Spray this sheet of filo with a little more oil and place the other sheet of filo pastry on top but at a 90° angle, so you have a cross and there is filo pastry hanging over each of the four sides of your dish. Transfer the butterbean filling into the dish and fold the pastry over the top to incase the filling completely.

Bake the pie in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes or until the filo pastry is golden and crispy on top. Serve with a garden salad, I used lettuce, rocket, cucumber, tomatoes and avocado drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

March Vegan Food Swap - What I received

I was looking forward to receiving my second vegan food swap box as the first was fabulous, and once again I wasn't disappointed.

Hannah from hannahbananabakery sent me my vegan box of goodies this time, check out her vegan creme egg tutorial on her blog.

I received a mixture of sweet and savoury produce which included miso soup, mayonnaise, parsley and chocolate.

The chocolate consisted of mini moos honey comb bars, Vanoffe raw cocao confectionary and a Raw Choc Brownie. I dived straight into the honey comb mini moos! Before turning vegan Crunchy was one of my favourite treats. I've heard great things about the raw choc foods and I'm sure before the day is out I will have tried one of the other chocolate bars!

I have tried the solesse mayonnaise before and I must admit I wasn't a huge fan of it, but that was a long time ago and I'm willing to give it another go. My favourite vegan mayonnaise is made by Tiger Tiger and the garlic version is incredible. I sent my vegan swap box partner one, I hope she liked it. Another item I sent my vegan swap box partner was Miso soup and Hannah sent me one too. Great minds think alike. I always have a packet of miso soup in the cupboard its a good thing to have on hand.

You can never have enough dried parsley, I have a whole cupboard full of herbs and spices as well as 2 (yes 2) spice racks. I don't own one herb or spice twice and I'm always delving into them. The last item Hannah provided was Kallo organic vegetable stock, which I've never tried before.

Thanks Hannah, I shall enjoy eating all of my vegan swap box goodies.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Full English

Today I needed something to fill me up, I'd got a busy day ahead of me and I wasn't sure if I would have time for lunch. I know this is a bad thing and its not something I would ever recommend, but needs must. What else could do other than a Full English Breakfast - Vegan of course.


 I used Linda McCartney sausages, which are vegan and very tasty. As I've said before this is probably the only 'mock' meat I eat along with processed vegan burgers, which is about to change, watch this space...................

As you can see I piled on the mushrooms, which are probably my favourite food, they are so versatile, baked beans, a good vegan staple and Hash Browns. It was truly delicious and I was stuffed, I could hardly move! Thinking again I would have been better having a smoothie and making some wraps to take with me! Oh well as I said it was delicious!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Caribbean Pineapple Smoothie

Today when I awoke, bearing in mind its very early (even on a weekend) because of one fluffy friend, the sun was shining for a third day in a row and I thought Spring has finally arrived!


Today, the marmite or strawberry jam on toast would not be a suitable for breakfast for a spring morning. I needed a smoothie. I still had some coconut milk left from making the satay sauce so I used that as a base for the smoothie. 

Ingredients
1 Banana
1 Kiwi Fruit
½ Pineapple
½ Can of coconut milk


Method

Add all the ingredients to a blender and press the button after you've put the lid on of course!

[Edit post: - Although as I found out on my morning stroll the sun was playing tricks on me, it was freezing!]

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Satay Stirfry

Hubby has gone pizza mad since the night we made pizza. He had some friends round the other day and they went shopping and bought lots (and I mean lots) of pizzas. He is still scoffing his way through them all as they didn't manage to eat them on the day! He's going to look like a pizza soon!

I on the other hand wanted something loaded with veg, quick and of course tasty. What else could it be other than a stir fry. I didn't want to use a packet of stir fry sauce as I wanted it to be fresh, crisp and unprocessed!

I decided to make a satay sauce, now when I've made this in the past its turned out stodgy so I knew what NOT to do. Today it turned out brilliantly and I still have some left to use for another day. OK so its not 100% unprocessed as I used ready made peanut butter, but it sure was tasty.


I also made some garlic bread to go with the stir fry, this time I used olive oil instead of a vegan margarine and, my oh my it come out so garlicky and buttery it was untrue. It was truly delicious. I will definitely make garlic bread this way again. Plus its much quicker than the margarine version I have done previously.

Ingredients for stir fry - serves 2-3 people depending on how hungry you are
2 nests of wholewheat noodles
1 onion, finely sliced
1 red pepper, finely sliced
1 green pepper, finely sliced
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 courgette, cut into matchsticks
Handful of green beans, top and tailed and cut in half length ways
Packet of marinated tofu pieces (OK these are processed, but they're organic)
1 chilli
Knob of ginger
2 Garlic cloves

Ingredients for Satay Sauce
5 Tbsp crunchy peanut bitter
2 Tbs Soy sauce
3-4 Tbsp Warm water
3 Tsp Red Thai Curry paste (OK this is also processed-but you could make your own)
½ Can of coconut milk

Ingredients for Garlic Bread
1 Baton of crust white bread
5 Tbsp Olive oil
4 Cloves Garlic
Fresh Parsley

Method
Before you start cooking the stir fry you need to make your garlic bread. Cut into your chosen bread and split open. I chose to do diagonal cuts but this wasn't that successful and I ended up cutting through the bread completely and working with the round pieces of bread individually!

However you choose to do it, all you need to do is finely chop the parsley on a board, then crush the garlic onto it and finally pour over the olive oil. Give everything a mix with your fingers and stuff the mixture into the bread. Use the bread to soak up any remaining oil. Or if you're like me rub each piece of bread in the mixture on both sides. 

Get a rectangle of baking paper and wet it under the tap scrunching it at the same time. Wring out the water with your hands and transfer the bread onto the paper. Fold the paper over the bread and transfer to a baking tray. Pop it in the oven that's been preheated to a moderate temperature about 180°C. It will be ready by the time you've chopped and stir fried all your veg and made the sauce.
Bring some water to a boil in a saucepan and when the water has reached a rolling boil add the two nests of wholewheat noodles. Cook for 4 minutes and drain.

Finely chop the garlic, chilli and ginger and stir fry in a little olive oil with the onion. After 3 minutes add the carrots and green beans and continue to stir fry for another 3 minutes. Next add the green and red pepper slices and stir fry for another 3 minutes. Add the courgettes and tofu and stir fry for another 3 minutes. 

Whilst you are stir frying the vegetables make the satay sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add more water if its too thick for your liking, and more peanut butter if its too thin. You won't need all of the satay sauce for the stir fry. 

Add the drained noodles to the vegetables and toss to combine. Pour in the satay sauce, I used about half of what I made and using tongs carefully mix through. Serve straight away with the garlic bread.