Category Archives: Vegan

LOOK WHAT I MADE

Making bread is one of my weaknesses, but so is falafel. I’m sure I am not the only one who attempts falafel, only for it to fall into nothingness in the frying pan. I’ve seen many falafel recipes in my time which call for egg as a binding ingredient, which could help me avoid this problem. I SAY NO EFFING WAY. Traditional falafel recipes do not use egg. And JESSICA don’t use egg. I will avoid egg at all opportunities. No to egg.

If any of you know Paris, you know that Le Marais is home to THE BEST falafel stores in the world. This is evidently an exaggeration on my part because I have ventured little outside France and Italy, however judging by the extremely long queues, you would think that these falafel stores are selling substances other than Mediterranean snacks….

Anyway, it’s therefore always been a shame that I love falafel and have tasted some of the best falafel that can be offered, yet I can’t (couldn’t) seem to make my own. Until I realised I was making a stupid error. I was ignoring flour and baking powder. You wouldn’t think they were so important for binding, well, they are.

To sum up, falafel is great and now I can make it and wont have to go to Paris or wherever in order to have it. Basically, I love falafel, what better food could you possibly have? I’m not even sure what makes it so good, it’s chickpeas…fried…

I was also extremely happy to omit a lot of fresh things from this recipe, which makes it easy on the wallet. Yay. However, you WILL need a food processor. Enjoy.

Ingredients

-1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained.

-1 onion, chopped roughly

-2 cloves of garlic

-1 tbsp of lemon juice

-2 tbsp of flour

-1 tsp of baking powder

-1 large handful of spinach (optional)

-2 tsp of dried flat leaf parsley

-2 tsp of chilli powder (I used one, cos my mum is a wimp)

-2 tsp dried coriander

-2 tsp ground cumin

-1 tsp salt

-5-6 tbsp olive or sunflower oil (I used a mix).

Method

-Process the chickpeas until broken apart, but do not process for too long.

-Add the remaining ingredients and continue to process until the mixture comes together to resemble mashed potato almost. You will need to stop the processor from time to time in order to move the ingredients about in the container. Do not over-process, it still needs to be slightly chunky. 

-Take a teaspoon amount of the mixture, and then using your hands roll into balls. Place on a plate ready to fry, you will probably need to do it in batches.

-In a large frying pan, ideally a wok-like one, heat up the oil.

-Add about four to five balls to the oil, ideally the oil should come halfway up a ball.

-Leave the balls to cook for about 3 minutes or until dark brown, and then turn the balls over. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and then drain on kitchen towel.

-Do not overcrowd the frying pan! Enjoy warm, with hummus, salad, pitta or ANYTHING, FALAFEL GOES GREAT WITH ANYTHING!

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Filed under Mediterranean, Pulses, Quick, Snacks and Starters, Vegan, Vegetarian

How to be Healthy: Italian Dressing Tofu Stew

Sorry for the over-exposed and saturated photos, I was having an off day and the lighting in my bedroom is extremely bad so my editing of photos can be distorted.

So I said I would try roasting tofu, but I wanted to make a stew instead, because I’m only human and I change my mind. I’m still not so sure about tofu. I think (and let me stress that this is just an opinion) that tofu is eaten by vegetarians/pescetarians/flexitarians(those who limit meat) as a meat substitute. It certainly has that meat-like appearance and texture, and that is not what I want. I gave up meat for a reason, and the resemblance tofu has to it is slightly off-putting. Sure it acts as a good flavour enhancer, but if I had to choose between a tofu or butter bean stew? I would choose butter beans, because not only does it absorb the flavour like tofu, but has a greater distinguishable flavour and it is not detrimental to the environment. That is the the fundamental reason I don’t eat meat, so why should I eat a soy-based product which is equally as bad as meat environmentally just because it is health-giving? There are better/healthier/cheaper alternatives. It’s not that the tofu didn’t TASTE nice, it was just that it is not for me and this would have tasted just as nice with something other than tofu.

My journey with tofu has at least taught me how to use the ingredient, and more importantly made me realise that I love being a pescetarian and in no way do I miss white or red meat.

Anyway, I loves me a stew. What we have here is a stew, with the tofu, carrots, red onions and garlic cooked in a sort of Italian dressing like mixture, and then the mixture is covered with plum tomatoes and left to simmer for about an hour until the tofu is soft. I think it took about an hour? In the time it took I had a shower, put on my lenses, did my face, got changed, went to Sainsbury’s, mopped the floor, got it dirty, mopped it again and emptied the bins. HELLO MULTI-TASKER. Enjoy the recipe, because I don’t think there will be much tofu on this site again if I can help it.

Ingredient

200 g tofu

-1 red onion

-1 carrot

-1 mushroom (optional, I just had loads leftover)

-2 cloves of garlic

-2 tbsp oil

-2 tbsp vinegar

-1 tsp french mustard

-1 tbsp of lemon juice

-1 tsp of dried herbs, cumin, coriander and paprika

-1 tin of plum tomatoes

-60 ml water

Method

– Wash tofu and wrap in clean towel, put a heavy weight on top of it such as a couple of plates or heavy cookbooks. This squeezes out all of the moisture.

-Whilst you are draining your tofu, chop all your vegetables and fry in the olive oil in a saucepan on a medium heat. Add some salt so that they don’t stick to the surface. Cook and simmer until brown and soft.

-After ten minutes of soaking, unwrap the tofu and chop into cubes. Add to the vegetables.

-Add all the ingredients BAR the tinned tomatoes AND water. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring from time to time.

-Add the chopped tomatoes and cover and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes. You might need to add the water to stop the mixture from drying out. So keep on checking and stirring the mixture to check

-Serve with some rice or some bread!

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Filed under How to be Healthy, Italian, Vegan, Vegetarian

How to be Healthy: Making Salad on a Budget

I am salad addict. I love it. Or I love them. I used to HATE salad, I would physically retch when eating it. It wasn’t a neurotic thing, I didn’t like the earthy taste or the dry texture that kind of clung to my throat, and I don’t really like the taste of the rocket that formed the basis of my mum’s salads. My mum was/is also awful at making dressings (well, she likes her dressings, but they still make me feel sick, she just adds too much mustard), when I found out how to make dressings my experiences with salad greatly improved.

I want to continue the mission of this man, Salad Pride, and transform the way people feel about salads. People think salads are comprised of lettuce and tomatoes, and placed on the side of your plate to fill up space. Not for me. I’m not gonna list the various things you can put in a salad, but I want to state that my salads are actually FILLING. People say salads can’t sustain you. THEY EFFING SUSTAIN ME. If you add the correct ingredients that provide the suitable nutrients, there’s no reason to not let salads be the centre of your life. I’m not sure if it’s me being feeble-stomached, but I can honestly say that salads FILL ME UP. Just look at Salad Pride to see how you can add grains, pulses, cheese etc to makes salads filling.

SO why salads? WHY THE HYPE? Salads are extremely healthy, the fact that the bulk of salad is made from fresh, raw vegetables (and fruit) means you’re receiving the nutrients at their optimum condition. I’m not condoning a raw diet, but eating a lot of raw food is extremely beneficial to your health. AND I KNOW people think that people who think/eat like this are weird and obsessive. And there is a common assumption that salads lovers are tired and gaunt, but I always feel great, full of energy and I never get ill.

Salad can be an expensive habit, but I stress ‘CAN’. I live on a small budget but have salads almost everyday, I always have produce that is easily grown in Britain (onions, spinach, lettuce, carrots). But recently I went to a restaurant and they introduced me to the wonders of red cabbage.

Previously I didn’t like red cabbage, it has a taste doesn’t it? It’s a bit bitter, or something. But the salad in this place was SO good, I realised that if you give cabbage a good dressing to let it soften and take away its acidity, it can taste amazing. So here is a red cabbage, apple, rocket and carrot salad. Perfect for lunch. The apple takes away the harshness of the cabbage, and the sweet carrot also counteracts this. I added the rocket to add a bit of greenage, but it’s not necessary, maybe add some lettuce, spinach, or just cut down the ingredients to cabbage, apple and carrot salad. Top with a dressing, I’ve chosen a red wine vinegar one, and it’s done! Red cabbage is very filling, something to do with its genetic make-up means it takes longer to digest, and thus it’s a low fat way to  keep you feeling fuller for longer.

AND IT’S SO CHEAP.

Ingredients- Serves 1 (the plate in this picture is MASSIVE) 

For the salad

-150 g red cabbage

-1 small braeburn apple.

-1 carrot, peeled

-1 handful of rocket

For the dressing

-3 tbsp of  red wine or balsamic vinegar

-1 tbsp of olive oil

-1/4 tsp salt

-2 tsp of lemon juice

Method

-For the salad, chop the cabbage into ribbons, and with the carrot use the peeler to create ribbons as well.  Chop the apple to whatever formation you wish. Mix in a bowl with the rocket.

-Mix together all the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad.

-Leave to sit for about 5-10 minutes so the cabbage has time to soften up.

-Eat. This would be great as a make ahead lunch however the apple will turn brown, but that doesn’t mean the salad will be ruined. In fact,   the flavours of the dressing will have a longer time to be absorbed by the cabbage.

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Filed under How to be Healthy, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

How to be Healthy: Tofu Nuggets

I honestly hate snow. Look at it, being all present and debilitating. How can anyone do anything in this sort of weather? Luckily this melted within a couple of days. Global warming-1 Snow-0.

I have never really eaten tofu by myself before. I mean, I have tried others’, but I personally had never tried to cook it because I found it flavourless. That is not necessarily a bad thing, it means it can absorb all the flavours of other things, hence it is really effective in a curry or stir-fry. I got the idea for these tofu nuggets from the one and only OhSheGlows (link will open in new window). Angela has had the same experience with tofu as me, and she highly recommended these.

They did remind me a lot of chicken nuggets, my former favourite food, but eating them just didn’t feel that great. Their exterior was delicious, really delicious, but the tofu still maintained that flavourless-ness. Hmmmm. My next recipe with tofu will be roasted tofu, because I love everything roasted, and I think it will help to allow me to examine tofu’s real taste and texture.

Nonetheless, this recipe was great and I will definitely be making it again. Tofu is extremely beneficial to your health, and thus the reason why I put it in my shopping basket this week. If you’re looking for a healthy, meatless sandwich filler-choose this. If you’re looking for a chicken nugget replacement-choose this. If you’re looking for a quick, salad topper-choose this. But if you’re looking for a recipe that will enhance the taste of tofu, don’t pick this. I feel the flavours of the tofu were hidden.

Ingredients-serves 2

-200g tofu- wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen cloth, and place a couple of heavy objects (i.e plates) on top, leave for about 10-15 minutes.

-250ml of milk (soya milk etc if wanting to be vegan)

-50ml of white wine vinegar (optional)

-1/2 cup of breadcrumbs

-1/3 cup of polenta/cornmeal

-1 tsp of each: ground cumin, paprika, dried herbs, coriander and salt.

Method

-Pre-heat oven to 180 c. Lay greaseproof paper on a baking tray, or grease a baking tray.

-Whilst the tofu is soaking, in a bowl mix together the milk and vinegar.

-In another bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients (bar the tofu, obviously).

-Once the tofu has soaked, cut into strips just under 1cm thick.

-With one hand, dip a tofu strip in the milk and then into the crumb mixture. With the other hand, sprinkle a bit more of the crumb mixture on the tofu making sure the entire strip is covered and then place on the greaseproof paper.

-Continue with this with the remaining strips. You might run out of crumb mixture, if so make some more. Common sense really!

-Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the exterior has browned. Enjoy with some home-made fries or on top of a salad!

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Filed under How to be Healthy, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

How to be Healthy: Mexican Roast Bean Salad

I recently read a blog, I wont name which one, the writer of which is a holistic nutritionist. People read her blog, and use her for advice. She recently made a series on  healing her digestion, which resolved to having a juice-fast for 3 days before she undertook her ‘repair’. Basically, drinking smoothies for three days. It doesn’t take a nutritionist to tell you that this is crap. It will leaving you clutching your stomach in hunger. I believe this writer has a lot of issues with her digestion, and she explains the various restrictions she has tried (low-carb, or low-fat), and they didn’t work. She in turn is seeking various therapies to help her.

I am not denying digestive problems. at. all. But I think the human mind these days reads too much into their body. People love to have problems, I think they tend to exaggerate discomfort. The first instruction I would give anyone is to relax. Don’t limit, don’t try fads, just use your common sense. It’s very easy me saying this, I do a lot of sport and I don’t have issues involving self-control. I’m slightly underweight, but it works for me. The doctor said so. Isn’t the best thing that I feel sprightly and happy? The perfect way of being healthy is tricking. Trick the body into thinking its indulging. You will therefore have a delicious meal, which is good for you.

This roast bean salad is perfect, because it tastes as if you’re indulging in some Mexican, but’s it’s not indulgent at all. Me and my house mate have fallen into a state of routine in which we only eat roast vegetables. ‘It’s SO EASY, and it’s HEALTHY’. We roast everything, sweet potatoes are a must but I like to roast pulses, she likes to roast celery. ONE TIME (everyone loves an anecdote), I bought what I thought was romaine lettuce for 50p, bargain I thought. URM, well it was actually cabbage. I threw into the roasting tin, and believe it or not roast cabbage is delicious.

Analysis of Mexican Roast Beans.

  • Olive oil is very high in protein, and is essential in muscle growth and repair.
  • Beans are really high in fibre, fibre is great for many things, helping digestion and keeping you full are some of its benefits.
  • Tomatoes are a super-food, extremely high in vitamin C and they’re healthier when cooked.

Ingredients-Serves A LOT

1 x 400g tin of black beans

-1x 400g tin of kidney beans

-1 x 200g tin of sweetcorn

-2 tsp of each: cumin, coriander leaf (if possible), ground coriander seed, Salt, paprika, chilli powder.

-3 tbsp olive oil.

-3 tbsp tomatoe puree

Method

-Preheat oven to gas mark 7, or 200 c (if my conversions are correct).

Drain all the beans and rinse well.

-In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together.

-Place in a roasting dish and place in the oven for about an hour. Remember to stir about with a spoon after half an hour.  It’s ready when the beans have started to split.

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Filed under How to be Healthy, Mexican, Pulses, Store Cupboard, Vegan, Vegetarian

How to be Healthy: Cheap Couscous Stew

Sorry about the poor photos, I hope they give credit to the meal, because it was really delicious, and filling. And I don’t think the photos do it justice. This photo was taken in Harrogate on a luvly winter day. Well it wasn’t that lovely, it was fricking freezing but the sun makes it look as though we were having a summer walk.

How’s the injury you ask? (I like to vent). Well, these past 2 months I have learnt many things:

  • Back pain  leads to every other pain in the entire body.
  • Backs take ages to heal. Patience is the key.
  • Don’t think that a foot injury is just a foot injury, it is probably a back injury.
  • I don’t value my mobility enough.
  • Almost everyone doesn’t value their mobility enough.
  • I genuinely do love running, and without it I am a shadow of my former self.
  • BACKS AND EVERYTHING RELATED TO SPINE PROBLEMS SUCK SO MUCH. 
  • Injuries happen, that’s life, and more often than not people recover.

What we have here is couscous cooked in chopped tomatoes, with some kidney beans, peppers, carrots and onions. Easy, cheap, healthy, filling. It’s really comforting and can be frozen/made ahead. I chose couscous because it served as a good way to bulk up the meal, without having rice. I don’t have any brown rice, and white rice would have made it too stodgy. The couscous is so soft and gives the dish a really creamy texture. Couscous has a greater flavour than rice. Other alternatives can be used, I was thinking bulgur wheat or buckwheat groats, but chose couscous to give it a great Mediterranean flavour.

Analysis of Cheap Cousous

-Couscous is one of the healthiest grains, having more vitamins that pasta, the same amount of protein and a lower glycemic index and fat content. It’s a slow energy releaser, so it beats white pasta and rice in that sense.

-The kidney beans are stuffed with fibre, giving you slow release energy. And they absorb flavours really well–very yummy.

-Chopped tomatoes–SUPERFOOD.

Ingredients-serves 3-4

-1 red onion, chopped

-1 clove of garlic chopped

-1 carrot, chopped (I did mine into discs)

-1 yellow pepper chopped

-2 x 1/3 cup of couscous (about 3/4 a mug).

-1x 400g tin of kidney beans, drained

-500ml water

-Mixed herbs

-paprika

-vegetable bouillon(optional)

-salt and pepper

Method

-In a saucepan, fry  the chopped vegetables in some oil until soft. About 10 minutes, but just use your judgement. Add about 1 tsp of herbs, paprika, bouillon, salt and pepper.

-Add the remaining ingredients, and leave to cook for about 15 minutes until the couscous tastes soft, stirring every so often. You might need to add a bit more water if it seems that the ‘stew’ is becoming a bit dry. Unlike a normal stew, do not leave this simmering for hours, otherwise the couscous will burn the surface.  Serve hot or cold.

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Filed under Grains, How to be Healthy, Mediterranean, Pulses, Quick, Store Cupboard, Vegan, Vegetarian

How to make Pizza Dough

Wanna make a pizza?

This is how to make pizza dough. I’ve taken photos, but bear in mind I don’t have a tripod, and it was a Sunday morning so I couldn’t get any of my housemates to help me so please excuse how awkward looking they are…

For a pizza that serves one, you need FOUR obligatory Ingredients:

-180g /1.5 cups of flour, plus extra for dusting.

-125 ml of WARM water

-1/2 7g sachet of yeast (I only use this yeast, so I can’t offer advice for the yeast that is bought in tins, which seems less refined)

-3 tbsp oil (45 ml).

AND two extra ingredients, which simply help to enhance the flavour, but they aren’t necessary:

-1 tsp dried herbs

-1/2 tsp of sugar

Okay, let’s go…Method

1. Wash hands

2. Wash and dry a surface.

3. Mix Yeast, Oil and Water(YOW) in a jar and shake up. Or just put in a beaker and mix well. Set aside.

4. Put flour in a mixing bowl.

5. Add herbs and sugar

6. Add half of the YOW, and stir with a fork, until the mixture starts to collect into clumps.

7. Add the rest of the YOW and continue to stir with fork. As you can see, your mixtuer should be starting to form into one mass. When the fork seems to prove redundant, use your hands to make sure all the flour and water are well combined. You should been able to form one dough ball that is soft and elastic.

8. However, you might have added too much YOW, and your mixture will be very runny like this(click image to enlarge), it is too sticky to touch and is more like a liquid:

9. If so, add about 3 tsp of flour, and mix with your hands until the mixture is stretchy like so. If your mixture is too dry and not elastic. Add a tsp of oil and mix with your hands.

10. Take out of bowl. Your dough should be sticky, but can pull apart from your palm without leaving crap all over it.

11. If not don’t worry just yet, dust your hands and surface with flour (very liberally if your dough is still a bit too sticky to handle) and start to knead.

12. Put the palm of your hand in the middle of the dough, pushing it away from you.

 

Imagine the dough as a clock. Bring 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock, i.e fold the back of the dough back over to the front.

Schmush down and flatten with your palm. You’re trying to get as much air into the mixture as possible.

(Mole-y arms. Must learn to put on sun-cream this summer.)

Continue with the process of constantly folding the mixture.

Just fold and flatten. Do this for 3-5 minutes.

13. The dough should have a lot of elasticity and be very soft to touch.

14. Place back in the mixing bowl. Cover with cling film and place in a warm area for 2-4 hours. Alternatively you could use it straight away.  But let it rise, it’s more authentic that way.

Preferably use cling film THAT IS NOT UNDER £1. Like mine is, and evidently is not clinging at all.

USING YOUR DOUGH

-Sorry for the awful photo, just wanted to show the dough in action.

-When ready to use, preheat oven to 180 c.

-When the dough has doubled in size, tip it out onto a floured surface, and use rolling pin to roll into some sort of shape.

-Using your hands, or whatever utensils you can get your hands on, lift your rolled dough and place on a greased piece of foil or on some greaseproof paper.

-Then top with your favourite toppings. Tomato purée, mozzarella, mushrooms etc. and cook in oven for 30-40 minutes until the crusts are brown. Enjoy!

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Filed under Bread, Pastries and Pizza, Italian, Vegan, Vegetarian