Mango & Banana Smoothie Soft Serve Pudding

Los Padres are getting ready to depart so whilst they are busying themselves packing I thought I’d squeeze in a wee bloggy post.

Wow, have these two weeks flown! I cannot believe they are all leaving today:( It’s kinda unfathomable we managed to avoid any major rows (there’s usually one or two humdingers) but we must’ve learnt from past errors and side swerved any tension before it erupted into a full blown argument. Go us!

Yesterday me and Sis had a bit of a tiff over some dates (ah, Families!) but it was rectified reasonably swiftly and we went on to enjoy a guargantuan Chinese meal at the Moonflower in Porthleven. Remember that place? I’ve mentioned it before because it has the best vegan selection I’ve yet to come across in any omni establishment. They are also super helpful, knowledgeable and most importantly serve ridiculously tasty food – always a winner.

I was also tempted by their signature cocktail (unsurprisingly named ‘The Moonflower’), which contained a heck of a lot of alcohol – try vodka and two different kinds of schnapps (yowsas!) – and as I’d already knocked back two G&T’s I was pretty darn merry.

Tomorrow everything will be back to normal though – whatever normal may be; my normal is certainly not what others would constitute as regular life. Hey ho, dats how it goes. I’ve had a fantastic couple of weeks with the Fam but I am looking forward to getting back to my routine, such as it is. First things first, this flat needs a thorough clean from top to bottom. I am a bit of neat nerd and I can’t stand mess but having five and six people living in such a small space for a fortnight means relinquishing control (which hasn’t been easy) and trying not to be so picky. I had a few moments but became more relaxed as the days went on.

Additionally, whilst all my meals have been vegan my diet has not been as clean as it usually is and I’ve felt the affects. In fact, for the first time in a long time I completely crashed out last night after our Chinese meal. As soon as we arrived back I collapsed on the bed and napped for over an hour before getting myself properly ready for beddie byes. I was well and truly zapped and I know exactly what was to blame. Sugar.

Sugar isn’t all bad but in actual fact we need very little of it and even that should be in form of fruits, which give us other benefits as well as tasting wonderful. Next week will see me cleaning up my sugar filled diet of the past two weeks and including much more greens and eliminating soya milk entirely – I dread to think how much I’ve consumed. It’ll be back to my other favourite plant milks including oat, almond and coconut and I’ve no doubt I will feel the benefits immediately.

If I do fancy a treat during the week (and I will!) I’ll turn to my soft serves. I adore frozen blended fruit and there are so many combinations, I never tire of them. I was particularly pleased with this mango and banana combo and it certainly satisfied my sugar craving.

This will be my last ever recipe contribution to BDT but I hope you’ll continue to read and support this cool little online magazine.

Also, I was thinking of trying my hand at a vlog (video blog) – what do you think, yay or nay? The first one would focus on the content of my fridge and cupboards and give you an idea of the kinds of things I rely on in my day to day living. I hope it’s something you’d be interested in because I must say I’m excited about it and I know from my perspective I always love a sneaky peek in other peoples cupboards. Voyeur? Moi?

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Mexican Black Bean Soup

The latest issue of Brew Drinking Thinkings has just been published and my final two contributions are now visible on the site. I’ve been a very bad blogger of late, what with my Family visiting and having to cater for five and six people every evening. I’m sure many would find cooking for five a piece of cake but as I’m used to just feeding me and Hubbie it’s been a real challenge. For the most part though I have enjoyed it immensely and along the way have developed strategies to help me cope.

I must say I’ve really missed my usual dishes – I’ve had to adapt our meals slightly, as I don’t think my parents are quite ready for a Buddha Bowl with Kale for dinner. I’ve managed to squeeze in a few smoothies and have ensured to include lots of nuts, seeds and all that nonsense but not having my usual uber healthy lunches is starting to take its toll.

Ironically, my Parents and Sister have seen a marked improvement in their energy levels, skin and erm, toilet time. I never would’ve thought my vegan meals would be received so well and I hope they continue in some small way when they return home. I don’t expect my Family to go meat and dairy free immediately but I hope they now have the incentive to gradually wean themselves off the bad stuff.

Perhaps they’ll be tempted to try a few of my recipes now (they like to read the posts but only my Sister has attempted to make anything) and this Mexican Black Bean soup would be a great evening meal for even the most reluctant of cooks. Apart from the blending (which is hardly an inconvenience) it’s as simple as it gets.

Talking of Mexican, tonight I’m rustling up some kale and potato enchilladas courtesy of the vegan bible that is Veganomicon and I have no doubt they’re going to be a huge hit. Almost as good as my Mexican Black Bean Soup😉

Mesa Sunrise Breakfast & My Thoughts On Amy

I’ve had such a wonderful week with my family and we are now entering another week of fun and frolics, which I’m really looking forward to. Tomorrow is Morvah Pasty Day and I shall certainly be documenting all the craziness for your perusal – it doesn’t get much more Cornish than this I can assure you. I’m so glad that Cornwall has had the same effect on the fam as it had on me all those years ago and I think I can safely say they are spellbound. Why wouldn’t they be, this place is magical.

One of the things I love about living in Cornwall is all the fresh produce available around every corner or down every country road. Having lived here for a while now we know exactly where to go for the best veg but sometimes you chance upon a little stall that is brimming with food or flowers, which is how I came about these gorgeous yellow blooms you see in the photograph. Don’t ask me what they are called for I haven’t a foggy clue but I do know they make me smile each time I look at them. They’re even more adorable sitting all snug in my favourite mason jar.

As I’ve had a lot less time to prepare food since my family have been here I’ve taken a few shortcuts particularly in mornings. Shop bought cereal generally isn’t my thing, as I like to know exactly what is in my food, but I do like Nature’s Path’s Mesa Sunsrise. Yes, it does have sugar in it but hey, I’m on holiday so I’m not going to stress about it too much. To add sugar on top of sugar I’ve also discovered Provamel’s new lime soy yoghurt, which is pretty much in the o.m.g. category.

Suffice to say I tried to salvage my sugarfest (I added a chopped medjool date and fresh berries too!) of a breakfast with hemp seeds, mixed seeds, amaranth pops and pecans, which, along with the coconut milk, made for a seriously fantastic tasting morning meal that was super satisfying and a real treat. I would never make this a regular occurrence but once in a while it can do no harm.

Enough about food and onto something that has been weighing on my mind for the past week. Just before the Family arrived last weekend two tragedies occurred. We had the awful terrorist attack in Norway, which seen 76 people killed and then we lost a fantastic talent in the form Amy Winehouse. At the time many people were criticized for showing sympathy for the sad demise of Amy when the Norway atrocity had affected so many ‘innocent’ people. My viewpoint was along the lines of – can we not be sad about both? And I am. Very sad about both.

I want to talk about Amy for a moment though. When Amy first became uber popular I myself was living in Camden – in fact, all three of my Camden flats were never more than a few minutes walk from her home and I frequented all of the same bars and pubs as she did. The Dublin Castle, The Hawley Arms and The Good Mixer to name a few. At the time I also worked at The Roundhouse in Camden and was very much into the music scene. I call it working but getting to see amazing shows and gigs for free did not constitute as working most nights.

The people I worked with quickly became my ‘friends’ and we hung out every night after the gigs finished in the Roundhouse bar (for a short while we were allowed free booze – wahoo!) and then onto whichever bar was open (usually Bartok, The Hawley Arms or The Lock Tavern) and after those bars shut we continued the fun at Marathon (a kebab shop with a hidden bar at the back).

You would think with amount of partying that took place and the places we hung out we would’ve bumped into Amy at least once but actually the only time I ever saw Amy in person was when she performed at The Roundhouse as part of the first ever electric proms series. It was a Paul Weller gig (strangely the very same one Russell Brand talks about in his Amy Winehouse Tribute) and it was incredible. I felt like I had the best seat in the house behind the bar situated parallel to the stage. I remember it so clearly. It’s one of the moments that sticks with you.

After that Amy’s popularity soared and her personal life plummeted, as she descended further into drink and drugs. Not that I was ever in the same party girl league as Amy but I too felt at times like I was being consumed by Camden and had to pull myself (with the help of ever patient Hubbie) out of it by distancing myself from so-called ‘friends’. Because that’s what Camden can do if you allow it – it can suck you in, chew you up and spit you out. I can only imagine what it’s like to be flavour of the month with a bit of money about you and a penchant for the high life.

Whilst there were many good times out and about tearing the town up, there were also many low points – usually the next morning feeling like hell – to warrant me continuing living and working there and so we moved onwards and upwards to Clapham (yummy Mummy territory) and said goodbye to our beloved Camden. We’d met there, lived there, worked and loved nearly every minute of it but we knew it was time to grow up.

I feel so sad that Amy wasn’t able to discover a life outside of Camden (apart from her short hiatus to St.Lucia, which also ended in disaster) and up until the end had the usual hangers on and wannabees taking advantage of her. I loathe the criticism she endured for her self destructive lifestyle because I know how easy it can be for anybody to fall foul of the party lifestyle, particularly in Camden and London as a whole. It is not for us to judge or indeed say it was inevitable. I personally don’t think anything is inevitable, we can always change our own paths and futures. I think Amy realised too late that her destiny need not be drugs, drink and death.

Having lost a good friend to suicide when I was seventeen I understand the regret that Amy’s friends will have. They’ll be asking themselves a multitude of questions including ‘was her death preventable’? Unfortunately the answer is yes. I believe nothing is set in stone and we are masters of our own legacy.

Like Amy, I was once involved with someone who was a bad influence and had a hold over me for a long time (one that I cannot fathom now!) but I managed to find the courage to break free even though it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Unlike Amy, I vowed to never see or contact that person again and despite numerous attempts by him I haven’t encountered the bugger since the day I seen him get off the Knightsbridge tube stop I left him at. See you sucker!

Perhaps if Amy had really made a clean break from her ex, maybe of she had weaned herself off alcohol in a safe, medical environment and if only her bodyguard has checked in on her sooner she may still be here. Who knows, this could’ve been the wake up call she didn’t to really kick the habit and get back on the straight and narrow for good. Reading an interview she gave back in 2008 where she talked of having kids and a ‘normal’ life leads me to believe she didn’t want to end up the way she did. Dead at 27.

This club 27 crap is also irking me because it glorifies and normalizes a lifestyle that couldn’t be further from glamorous. Dead is dead. As far as i’m concerned there’s no afterlife and dying young will always be a tragedy and a total waste. Cliched but true. I often think of my own friend and what she would be like now. What she would’ve achieved and the kind of person she would have grown into. I think about the times we might have shared and the moments we have lost because of a period in time where she thought her only way out was to take her own life.

I’m not sure if I’ve made any sense or added anything to an already well documented situation and maybe I should’ve left well alone (my Sister told me to write nought – sorry Sis!) but I felt like I needed to at least acknowledge my own thoughts and put them in print. As my own Sister enters the music industry (she has just signed a record deal) I worry about the kinds of people that will try and steer her down a dangerous path. Of course, she’s of a completely different mindset (always has been) and would rather go for a run than have a glass of wine but that doesn’t mean there won’t be people attempting to sway her clean living ways. Remember, Amy wasn’t always a waster. I can’t be there all the time but I do know that when I am around I will be the best bodyguard she’ll likely ever have.

Amy’s untimely death has reminded me of the wonderful circle I have around me. A supportive and loving Husband and Family and a few caring friends. I take pleasure in the small things and whilst my life may be a lot less exciting than it was in Camden, I am a happier, more secure person now than I ever was. Life is fleeting and for Amy and my dear friend, too fleeting still. I only wish things could have been different but we learn from these travesties to treasure the lives that we have and live every moment to the fullest (preferably sans substances!) and believe me I do. Every single second.

Amy will be remembered. Hopefully in the long run for her music more than her hardcore lifestyle. For now though, I mourn not only for Amy but for all those who have had their lives cut short either from their own doing or at the hands of others. It’s been a dreadfully sad week and my thoughts are with also with the friends and family of the victims in Norway.

I’m now off to be with my family.

LLAP to you all x

Matcha Shortbread Cookies

I made these matcha shortbread cookies a few weeks ago for a family bbq.

Not initially intended for ice-cream sandwiches they worked pretty darn well as such I must say – there were lots of positive noises during consumption, which thrilled me no end.

For me, there is nothing more satisfying than having people enjoy the food you’ve made.

Matcha is wonderful stuff but because it’s so dog-gone expensive I use it less frequently than I’d like.

Our local health store has started stocking it and initially I was thrilled thinking I didn’t have to order it off the internet any longer. That was until I seen the price – almost 23 quid!!!

Say wha?

Are you actually having a laugh health store?

Believe me, I don’t mind paying for quality nor do I mind supporting local businesses – in fact I actively go out of my way to so do – but 23 quid is utterly ridiculous for a small tin of matcha.

That’s my gripe. Onto the recipe.

ingredients

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup vegan margarine

1/4 cup sugar and more for sprinkling

1 heaped tbsp matcha powder

1 40g disc (1/4 cup) willy wonky’s Venezuelan dark chocolate or any vegan dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

1/2 cup ground almonds

Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius/350 degrees fahrenheit.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl.

Add the flour and matcha powder and mix until a soft dough is formed. I use my hands to form the dough ball after the flour has been completely combined.

Place in fridge for up to an hour or use immediately if you’re pushed for time.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Tear off small teaspoon sized amount and roll into a ball. Place on sheet and repeat ensuring there is enough space between cookies to allow for expansion.

Bake for 10 minutes and then sprinkle the cookies with granulated sugar before baking for a further 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before transferring them to a cooling rack also covered in baking parchment (you’ll need this for when they are rolled in chocolate).

Bring some water to the boil in a saucepan and then reduce the heat completely. Place a large bowl on top of the saucepan and break in the chocolate. If steam is escaping then turn the heat off completely, as any liquid will spoil the chocolate.

Put the ground almonds in bowl large enough to roll the cookies.

When the chocolate is melted roll the edges of the cooled cookies in it and then do the same in the bowl containing the ground almonds. Place on the cooling rack and repeat.

Eat on their own or use for ice-cream sandwiches – make sure the ice-cream has been softened sufficiently beforehand. Enjoy!

What I Ate Wednesday

This is an uber quick post. Possibly the quickest I’ve ever done. Possibly. We shall see……

My family are here and I’m strapped for time, as we seem to be constantly doing something.

They arrived Sunday and I made a sort of meze type meal with hummus, pita, roasted portobello mushrooms, cous cous and (because my Dad is a bit of a meataholic) faux mini burger bites, which I don’t think fooled him but he seemed to enjoy them anyway.

Monday seen us chow down on a spinach and pepper pasta bake with salad and roasted broccoli. It was pretty good and everyone seemed to like it and that’s the most important thing.

Tuesday was a total mish mash that included basil tofu (it was a jaw dropping moment watching my Dad chow down on that!), spicy courgette salad and bulgar wheat tossed with sauteed leeks. Random but actually very nice.

Tonight was again totally random, as I was trying to use up ingredients I had in the fridge (I loathe waste) – red cabbage slaw, caper and cornichon potato salad, paprika roasted sweet potato tossed with noodles and sesame seeds, black bean and clementine salad and also some shop bought dolmades. It was tasty and satisfying and was just what we needed after a long day meandering around the streets of Penzance.

After dinner we went to the Admiral Benbow, one of the oldest pubs in Penzance, to listen to some folk music. It was pretty freakin’ awesome and bizarrely it transpired my Sisters boyfriend who is also staying with us knew one the musicians and we ended up having a drink and a chat with him.

As usual I’m doing this arse about tit (excuse my French) and have totally launched in with dinner eats before touching upon breakfast or lunch.

Breakfast was cocoa oats (porridge) with agave, ginger and topped with chopped pecans, sliced banana, a good dollop of peanut butter and some vegan friendly chocolate drops. I made it for everyone except my Dad and Husband who had toast instead. It got a very enthusiastic response from everyone who ate it – an excellent foodie start to the day!

Lunch was a tapas style platter with stuffed olives, hummus, peppadew peppers and mozzarella for my Mum. It was served with a beautiful baguette style bread. Extra virgin olive oil and balsamic also accompanied the dish, which was perfect fodder for poolside eating – we sat by the the wonderful Jubilee pool, which is down by the seafront in Penzance. It’s an art deco salt water pool that is just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. In case you didn’t know, I am an art deco freak so I dig this kinda thing a lot.

We washed everything down with a local raspberry cider. I know. Outrageous.

It was a such a good day. Glorious weather, fantastic company and great food.

p.s. some of the photos were taken on an iphone.

p.p.s. I didn’t take all the photos – my Sis takes credit for the pirate ship and the shot of me and my Mum. Also, how lazy am I not getting out of my seat to photograph the pool. LA.ZY.

p.p.p.s is it just me who loves anything to do with pirates? I’m clearly living in the right place!

I lied. This was blatantly not the shortest post I’ve ever written.

Almond and Prune Finger Cake

Now before you go screwing your face up at the thought of prunes in a cake let me jump to their defense – or at least my defense and tell you why they work in this cake.

When I was a wee girl at school we were lucky enough to have some wonderful cooks that would bake us treats for breaktime (recess) and sell them to us for 10p a pop – even in them days that was an absolute steal. I always, without fail, bought two (one for each hand and all that) and one of them always was what I thought for a long time to be a ‘sticky toffee slice’ (I named it that). I goddamn loved those things; crispy, chewy, sticky, sweet. They were the tops.

The day I discovered my ‘toffee slice’ was in actual fact a date slice (ahhhhhhhh!!) was not a good day. I can’t remember who told me or how I found out what they were made from but it broke me a little and after that I couldn’t eat them. The mere thought of them turned my stomach. You see, I hated dates back then. Loathed them with every fibre of my being.

My experience of dates had been limited to Halloween when my Mother would buy some neglet dates and consume them like they were sweets. Every year I tried a date and every year I screwed my face up and spat the half chewed dirtball in the bin. Bleugh, bleugh, get out of my mouth, bleugh.

Fast forward to the present day and I am date freak. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them, they are a central part of my sweet intake – I use them in raw balls, cheesecake crusts, in smoothies, ice-cream and on their own (now I too eat them like sweets – well they do say we eventually turn into our Mothers!).

Prunes kinda remind me of Grannies – shall we say they have connotations that aren’t exactly the most appetizing? Despite this I have put prunes back on the ‘eat’ list and have been using them in breakfast oats and even (shock) eating them on their own. That’s right folks, I’m now happy to just pop one in my mouth and chew. Like sweets. Kinda.

Actual sweets would be a bit weird in cake but prunes give the perfect amount of chew amongst the moist, crumbly cake. Seriously. Really delicious. The cake would be a lesser cake without them.

Why ‘finger cake’? Because you can pick it up all delicate like between your fingers – great for drinking with a cup of tea. In a teacup. With a saucer. You know my feelings on this one.

If you decide to put the batter in a smaller loaf tin, it probably could no longer be classified as a ‘finger cake’ and that would be disappointing. I want you to get in on the finger cake action. So a standard 2lb loaf tin it is. It will look like there is nothing in the tin but don’t panic. It also won’t rise up much. Again, don’t panic. It’s all good, it will taste fantastic and you will like the prunes.

almond and prune finger cake

1 cup white rice flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

pinch pink Himalayan or rock salt

1 kiwi

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup rice milk

1/4 tsp cider vinegar

1/4 tsp almond extract

5/6 small chopped prunes

Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

Sift the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarb, ground ginger, nutmeg, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Give it a gentle stir with a spatula.

Puree the kiwi in a hand blender and add the oil, milk, cider vinegar and almond extract and give it another very quick blitz to incorporate.

Chop the prunes into small pieces – I quartered them.

Grease the loaf tin with a little vegan margarine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and thoroughly combine with a spatula ensuring not to over work the batter.

Finally, add the prunes and gently incorporate before transferring to the greased tin. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing it from the tin and transferring to a cooling rack covered with baking parchment (this will help when you cover it with the syrup).

Pierce holes all over the top of the cake using a cake tester or a chop stick.

amaretto sugar syrup

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

decent splash of amaretto

Place the sugar and water in a pan and swirl to dissolve. Bring to a gentle boil for about 5-10 minutes until it reduces to about a quarter cup of syrup.

Add the amaretto, swirl to incorporate and take it off the heat.

Allow to cool for a minute or two before carefully drizzling over the cake using a spoon.

Cover the cake with the baking parchment until completely cool before slicing.

What I ate Wednesday

So here’s goes. I’m taking part in the ‘What I ate Wednesday’ craze – yippee! Except, I’m not sure whether I’m doing it correctly. It’s referred to as a link party and I do love a party. It’s also lucky that today was a particularly great day for eats in this house and I’m more than happy to share the photographic evidence.

To add to my joys I finally got around to replacing my hand blender set, the absence of which has been a royal pain in the behind. I celebrated by making a sprouted bean hummus – everybody loves hummus and even though this isn’t supposed to be a recipe post I thought I’d share the lowdown with y’all anyway….

sprouted bean hummus

1 cup mixed sprouted beans

small bunch parsley

1 garlic clove

1 tsp dark tahini

1/2 tsp harissa paste

juice 1/2 lemon

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Put it in hand blender and blitz until smooth – add a little water (approx 2 tbsp) to encourage it if it’s too thick. The texture should be coarse yet creamy.

Right, back to the eats. Oh yes, then there was my lunch. A quick stir fry of brown rice mixed with some lightly sauteed celery, carrot and purple sprouting broccoli (from a local farm stall no less!) seasoned with shoyu. I threw in some sea vegetable condiment stuff, nooch and some hemp seeds for extra goodness. It was super yummy!

I felt like some fruit later on so I had myself a bowl of strawberries and kiwi. Simple. Delicious. Nuff said.

I didn’t photograph my licorice tea although I should say how good it was – I have it with a splash of plant milk, usually whatever I have in the fridge and today that was organic rice milk.

I also had a thought about having a ‘What I wore…..’ feature on my blog. It immediately became unstuck when I discovered I’m not a very good poser hence the photo of me hiding behind the camera. I poked my head out briefly and then tried to get a full body shot (massive fail). That was as brave as I got. Posing is hard. If anyone is interested I wore some black slacks (the very definition of the word in my opinion), a navy and red stripy blouse, which I tucked into aforementioned slacks and accessorized with a faux leather plaited belt. I pinned a little rosette to the blouse in matching colours (I took it from a different top that I stupidly spilled red wine on and can no longer wear, grrrr) and secured my hair (which is in desperate need of a cut might I add) in an elastic with a vintage scarf to top off the look, which I tied what I like to call rockabilly style. I mustn’t forget my earrings. Red apples. They’re new. I love ’em.

Food.

Dinner.

We had a fantastic dinner comprising of paprika roasted sweet potato (roughly and erratically chopped – I’m into erratic chopping at the moment. Odd shapes and what not), cous cous mixed with raisins, red onion and chopped flat leaf parsley, a grated courgette (I managed to find Cornish yellow courgettes – so beautiful and full of flavour) and carrot salad tossed with lime juice, thinly sliced chilli and coriander and last but not least some shop bought (but good quality) falafel. And hummus. Mustn’t forget the hummus. Not the one I made earlier in the day, a different one.

It was all excellent. Two thumbs up from Hubbie. That made me happy.

I guess that’s it. I know I forgot about breakfast so if you’re curious it was a toasted bagel with pb & no sugar black cherry jam. It’s not a typical breakfast for me but I enjoyed it.

This was fun. I hope we do it again. Until next time party people xxx

Pb, Banana & Chocolate Baked Oatmeal

Hello! Good Morning! How are ya? Good? Good good. I’m pretty good myself, as you can probably tell. I’m feeling…..chipper. Yep, that’s exactly the word I’m searching for. Chipper.

My chipper mood might have something to do with 1. my Parents coming to visit this Sunday for two whole weeks (very excited), 2. my Sister getting her degree results (she did very, very well – so proud of her), and 3. I just ate a yummy breakfast (good food always makes me happy).

Breakfast.

One of my favourite times of the day.

The other two are lunch and dinner;)

I honestly don’t get why people skip breakfast. If you are one of those breakfast skipper people then shame on you. Shame on you for a. poo pooing the ‘most important meal of the day’, b. missing a great opportunity to eat (there are three meals in the day – why would you voluntarily eliminate one?) and c. your body needs fuel dudes (even if you don’t feel hungry, you need to break-that-fast and prepare yourself for the day). Gosh, when did I get all grown up? And cranky?

Rewind.

I’m chipper today. Let’s keep it that way.

If this recipe doesn’t alter your mood then maybe a gander at this fantabulous website will do the trick. I discovered this mental (in a good way) girl on Hello Giggles and I can’t get over how brilliant she and her wicked website is – quirky, funny, stylish and best of all Vegan! In fact, I loved it before I even knew she was vegan so it was a bonus when I discovered this crazy cool lady was a no meat and dairy girl too. Snap! It helps that she’s incredibly pretty and wears the cutest outfits ever – check out the bow ring she dons in a few of the Mr.Kate web tv episodes. I have a similar red plastic one, which always gets compliments whenever I wear it.

Another thing that gets compliments is this baked oatmeal. Okay, so the compliment usually comes from my Husband but in my world that still counts.

pb, banana & chocolate baked oatmeal

1 cup porridge oats

1 ripe banana

1 heaped tbsp smooth peanut butter

1 tbsp agave

1 scant tbsp cocoa powder

1 medjool date

pinch pink Himalayan or rock salt

1/2 cup coconut milk

small amount of vegan margarine

to serve

cacao nibs

strawberries

Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, mash the banana and stir in the peanut butter and agave.

Add the oats, cocoa powder and stir to combine.

Chop the date into small pieces and add to the oats along with the coconut milk. Thoroughly combine.

Grease two oven proof dishes with the margarine and divide the mixture between the two. Bake for 15 minutes.

Serve with sliced strawberries and cacao nibs.

Two Minute Tapenade

This is a supremely easy tapenade recipe that I’ve taken from my recent recipe contributions to online magazine BrewDrinkingThinkings. In fact, this selection of recipes is to be my penultimate publication with the mag. Yes, that’s correct, I’ve recently handed in my notice, as I feel I’ve been neglecting other areas of my life including my blog. I needed to regain some balance and I felt this was the best way to do so.

Now I’m free to build my blog and make it better than it currently is. That plus my Marcus Samuelsson gig (Mondays and Thursday’s peeps) is more than enough to be getting on with. I also have my ambitions set on getting published in a wholly vegan magazine that will remain nameless until I’ve finally had my recipes approved – fingers and toes crossed! Also, I’m finally (after a lot of procrastination) going to start work on my recipe book, which I’ve been putting off for way too long. Now that I’ve run out of excuses and distractions I can hop to it and get that sucker off the ground – yippee!!

For now though, I’ll leave you with this tapenade recipe. It’s mega versatile; spread it on bruschetta, use it in sandwiches, stir it into pasta, drizzle on salads, eat straight from the jar. Okay, that may be going a bit far.

Moroccan ‘Meatball’ Casserole

You won’t find many recipes requiring faux meats on this blog and I’m a wee bit loathed to post one even now. However, I feel I must give a little focus to The Redwood Wholefood Company who have recently extended their range of vegan convenience foods to include everything from tuna pate (which is surprisingly good and would work really well in a vegan ‘tuna melt’ – ooh er!) through to soy free yoghurts (I love the black cherry flavour).

Even though their meatballs have been available for a while now I was never tempted to try them for some reason – like I’ve alluded to before, my opinion of faux meats is generally ‘meh’ and so the meatballs have remained unchartered territory. Until now.

My recent trip to Holland and Barrett seen me fill my basket (my hand was forced by their buy get one half price deals – what a sucker) with half of the redwood range. Okay maybe not half but a lot of it. Including their chicken style pieces (which I previously used in this dish), quarter pounders (which look unnervingly real), breaded pepperjack style cheezly bites (remember this?) and of course the meatballs.

What then was my verdict on said meatballs?

Not too bad. Not too bad at all.

More Swedish meatball than Italian, i.e. not chunky but with a delicately meaty essence – I’m not sure if that’s a good thing? What I do know is that Hubbie enjoyed both of the dishes I utilized them in – there are over twenty meatballs in each pack so more than enough for a family of four or two meals for a couple(that’s us!). You can oven bake them, grill them or do what I did and just pop them in the sauce. They don’t take very long to heat through but be sure not to leave them in too long as I fear this might negatively affect the texture.

I enjoyed my Moroccan Meatball dish and my Spaghetti and ‘Meatballs’ and I probably will buy these again. Just not for a while. Faux meats are totally cool every so often but in my opinion shouldn’t regularly feature in anyone’s diet. They have been described by some as being a transitional food and I would kinda go along with that. I mainly don’t like to eat them much because they make me feel a bit sluggish – not the same as when I ate meat but similar.

Wholefoods are without a doubt the best way to go but that’s not to say you can’t indulge in some faux meat action when the urge takes you. Luckily they last for a pretty long time in the fridge (that worries me too but whatever) so I can space out my remaining faux meat meals. I must say though, if I had a choice (and I do), I’d reach for the smoked tofu (also in my fridge) quicker than the ‘quarter pounders’.

Cripes, I really am vegan!

Moroccan Meatball Casserole

1/2 onion

1 carrot

1 courgette/zucchini

1 sweet red pepper

4 closed cup mushrooms

3 garlic cloves

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp vegan vegetable bouiliion

1 tsp harissa paste

4 sprigs Thyme

Olive oil

pink Himalayan salt and black pepper

1/2 pack Redwoods Meatballs (10-12)

1/2 cup cous cous

juice 1/2 lemon

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp finely chopped dill

salt and pepper

Heat a little oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Roughly chop the onion, carrot and zucchini (courgette). Add the onion and carrot to the pan, season with salt and pepper. Clamp the lid on and sweat for several minutes.

Mince the garlic, remove thyme leaves from the stalk and finely chop. Add the courgette, garlic and thyme to pan. Stir, put lid on and allow to soften for a few minutes.

Roughly chop the red pepper and add to pan. Soften for a few minutes before adding the spices. Allow the spices to infuse for several minutes before adding the quartered mushrooms.

Add the harissa paste and stir until all the vegetables are coated before sprinkling in the vegetable bouillion and topping with water until the vegetables are just covered. Clamp the lid on again and simmer for 10-15minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a kettle. Put the cous cous in a large bowl with a little salt and pepper. Measure out 1/2 cup freshly boiled water and pour over the cous cous, give it a quick stir and place a plate on top of the bowl. Set aside for ten minutes until all the water is absorbed.

Pop the meatballs in the casserole to heat through for about ten minutes with lid on.

Fluff the cous cous with a fork, pour over lemon juice, oil, seasoning and chopped dill and stir to incorporate. Place lid on bowl again to keep warm or until the meatballs have sufficiently heated through.

Serve!