Monday, October 31, 2011

Vegan pumpkin and ginger bread

Breakfast: Vegan pumpkin and ginger bread

Lunch: Vegetable noodle soup followed by vegan chocolate

Dinner: A rice and tofu stir fry

After I hollowed out our huge Halloween pumpkin I had about 10 cups of pumpkin flesh. Yep, 10 cups. A whole pan full. I guess we'll be eating pumpkin soup for a week or so now...but the Totoro pumpkin was worth it!

My best friend Sarah sent me the original recipe of this, and she recommended it so highly that I just had to veganise it. The resulting bread is incredibly squishy and doesn't look baked inside, but it's very delicious and goes down a trick or treat. And yes, it's on a pumpkin lid in the photo.

You'll need:
(Makes 1 loaf)
3/4 cup Earth Balance / soy butter / vegan margarine
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup fresh pumpkin, grated
1 tbsp ground flax seed
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 1/2 cups plain flour

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius
Cream together the Earth balance / soy butter / vegan margarine, apple sauce and sugar
Stir in the grated pumpkin
In a small bowl, mix together the ground flax seed and the water until it becomes sticky and gelantinous
Stir this into the pumpkin mixture
Stir in the ginger and sift in the flour, stirring well
Pour the batter into a loaf pan lined with greaseproof paper
Bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean
Cool for 10 minutes then enjoy

This is super heavy so you'll only need small pieces although its so flavourful that you'll be itching for more. The trick or treaters should like it too, in small chunks!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin porridge

Breakfast: Pumpkin porridge and a soy chai latte

Lunch: Tofu fried rice with veggies

Dinner: A veggie burger with fries

It's Halloween weekend (yep, such a thing exists here) and after the epic pumpkin carving contests, you're bound to have a bunch of pumpkin innards hanging around just waiting to be disposed of. And how much pumpkin pie can one person eat, anyway?

This is an interesting and holiday-themed way to get rid of some of that pumpkin while changing up your breakfast routine a little. The cinnamon and ginger also help to stop you getting sick, which is always a good thing when the weather is changing!

You'll need
(Feeds 2)
1 cup pumpkin, chopped into small chunks
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tbsp water
1 cup rolled oats
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp milk / non-dairy milk  
honey / agave nectar

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius
After 15 minutes, place the pumpkin in a roasting pan (still on the skin, if you like) and drizzle with a tiny bit of oil
Cook for 45 minutes, until totally soft
Remove from the oven and scoop the flesh from the skin, if it was on the skin
Place in a blender with the water and cinnamon and blend to a puree
Place the oats and 1 1/2 cups milk / non-dairy milk in a pan on a medium heat
Heat gently, stirring often, for 5-15 minutes, until it reaches the desired consistency, then allow to cook for another minute or so
Remove from the heat, then stir in the ginger and pumpkin puree, reserving a little puree for decoration
Stir in the remaining 2 tbsp milk / non-dairy milk to slacken off the porridge a little
Serve with a small spoonful of pumpkin puree on top and drizzles of honey / agave nectar

You can make this a quick breakfast by preparing the pumpkin puree the night before and keeping it in the fridge, or even by using pumpkin baby food - although, to be frank, the idea of that grosses me out a bit.

Fun fact: the tradition of carving pumpkins began as a way to keep evil spirits away from your home. Now it encourages children to come asking for candy, so if you ask me, they've become somewhat counterproductive.*

*Joke. I love kids, as long as they don't poo or cry.

Friday, October 28, 2011

10,000 Thank Yous!

This is definitely a happy smile.

Right now I am completely flabbergasted. Today this blog reached 10,000 views. 

When I started this as part hobby blog, part inspiration station, part reason-to-cook-something-new, I never thought that it would mutate into this. 

At the time of writing we've inspired at least one person to become vegetarian (hi Astrid!) and had many comments on the recipes, including ones that people loved, ones that they had problems with, and ones that might be improved by adding a little coriander. Even my mum has tried some of the recipes and, I hope, has taken more of a healthy turn in her dining repertoire. Although she's probably still denying she enjoyed that curry once; we all saw you, it happened, admit it.

I love this feedback, and it's why I keep doing this. 

There are new improvements on the horizon; a website is being worked on, albeit slowly, so hopefully you'll be able to click just one thing for breakfast suggestions or something a little Mexicany. The wonderful Mr Bloomfield is writing ever more articles and keeping us nutritionally minded, and even Putin is coming up with the odd recipe or two!

You can find us on Facebook or Twitter, and please say hello on there - I love to hear suggestions and ideas!

As ever, please remember that all these recipes are made in a sparsely-stocked kitchen on a budget. We have only a little more disposable income than we have counter space, which is not a lot. We both work, and now we have a cat who takes up a lot of time with her insistence upon cuddles. Most of these meals take an hour or less, are scrumptious and nutritionally dense, and are made by someone with no formal training outside of Key Stage 3 cooking class. Everyone can cook good food if they want to!

The wider food blogging community is an inclusive, inspirational place, and I wanted to share some of my favourite sites with you, so here they are:

The home of Isa Chandra, co-author of such epic tomes as Veganomicon and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, this website not only looks funky but it's always inspirational and fun to read. I nicked Isa's cookie jar present idea for my friend Jackson lately and she loved it!

Sarah Kramer is probably the world's most stylish vegan. She's also got a vegan curio store in Victoria that I'm really hoping to visit next year on the Road Trip of Dreams. In the mean time, I'll have to content myself with this website and her great book How It All Vegan. 

Since finding out that my lovely friend Hilary could not tolerate gluten, this website has been my bible in creating treats that can be eaten by the gluten-free community. Shauna's advice about mixing flours has not been forgotten and hopefully my gluten-free recipe tally will only grow and grow from now on!

This is another Toronto-based blog, and though it's not vegetarian, their advice on making jams and other preserves really appeals to my growing sense of being a farmhouse housewife by the time I'm 30. I can make jams til the cows come home thanks to this site!

Absolutely nothing to do with food, but I love Space Raoul.

Kayla says thank you too!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Refried beans bagel

Breakfast: Refried beans bagel

Lunch: Vegetable and rice noodle spicy soup

Dinner: Vegan curried chickpeas with spinach on rice

Last weekend Putin went up to Montreal for a few days to celebrate graduating (congratulations Putin!). The upside of this for me is that he, of course, brought back some of those fantastic Montreal bagels. In fact, they were so fantastic that my friend Jack ate all three of his at once.

I couldn't quite match that, but I did come up with this novel and delicious way to get over not being able to have lox and cream cheese on it, and I dare say it was almost as good (I'm not going to pretend I don't miss smoked salmon!). This is a bit of a cheat's way to make simple refried beans but who really has the time to go the traditional route in the morning? Not me!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
2 bagels - from Montreal if possible!
2 cups tinned kidney beans, drained
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp paprika
1 mini cucumber
2 tbsp capers
olive oil
hot sauce (if using)

Cook the kidney beans in a pan over a medium heat with the water until very soft - about 10 minutes
When all the water has evaporated, throw in a little olive oil and the crushed garlic clove
Fry with the beans for 2-3 minutes
Mash the beans and garlic together with a wooden spoon while heating
Add in the paprika and continue mashing
When the beans have reached your desired consistency (mostly mashed) remove from the heat
Cut both the bagels in half and place until the grill (broiler if you're North American) until lightly browned
Spread 1/4 of the bean mixture on each bagel half
Push capers into the bean mixture until all are used up
Top with thinly chopped cucumber as in the photo
For extra awesomeness, top this with a drizzle of hot sauce

This makes a great breakfast with a coffee and a paper, and it's a great way to get some all-important super healthy beans into you in the morning time. It's also fantastic for pretending you're in Montreal, if you play some le Peuple de l'Herbe, dress nicely and speak French with a slightly strange accent.

C'est bon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Faux-cream of mushroom soup

Breakfast: Hot 'apple pie' smoothie

Lunch: Faux-cream of mushroom soup with crusty bread

Dinner: A roasted veggie sandwich and fries from the Stout

During everyone's first year or so of veganism I reckon every few weeks they find themselves yelling "oh no!" following the realisation of another food they can't eat. This has settled down a bit in our house, mainly due to my rampant dedication to veganising any recipe that dares to not already be vegan.

This time, it was cream of mushroom soup, and it was personal.

As it turns out, this is ridiculously easy and tastes even better with the addition of coconut milk. Eat that, non-vegan recipes!

You'll need:
(Feeds 4)
6 cups button mushrooms, chopped
2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp plain flour
1 litre hot veg stock
1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk
black pepper

Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft and translucent
Add in the mushrooms, stir well and cook for 3 minutes
Add the flour and stir well to coat
Add the stock and bring to the boil
Bring down to a simmer for 10 minutes
Allow to cool, then blend
Season and reheat
Stir in coconut milk to taste and serve immediately

The slightly Asian-cuisine taste of the coconut milk brings life to a dish that can be somewhat tired, and if you'd like your meal to take on more of this, feel free to use coconut cream instead of milk; just add this in just before taking the soup off the stove and make sure it is properly melted into the soup.

This never lasts very long in our house, and for good reason. Mushrooms are full of B vitamins and potassium as well as protein. A winning food all round!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vegan sugar-free apple, banana and almond butter marble bread

Breakfast: Vegan sugar-free apple, banana and almond butter marble bread

Lunch: A grain bowl from Urban Herbivore

Dinner: Tahini soba noodle stir fry

Ah, the bread-masquerading-as-cake genre, how I love you!

We all know and love banana bread, but creating healthier and more interesting versions of this delightful treat are not at all difficult. Coming of the back of a pretty cupcake-filled week I wanted to create something less sweet and much more fruity. And then some almond butter fell in there by accident, I swear...

You'll need:
(Makes 1 loaf)
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 apples or 1 apple and 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup water (unless you're using apple sauce)
2 cups wholewheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup canola oil
1 lrg banana
2-3 tbsp almond butter

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
Pour the almond milk and vinegar together in a bowl and set aside
If you are not using previously-made apple sauce, peel and chop 3 of the apples and boil them with the water
Simmer the apples until very soft (about 10 minutes), then drain and blend to make apple sauce
Peel the remaining apple and chop into 1/2 inch cubes
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg
Add the canola oil into the milk mixture
Mash the banana and add it to the milk mixture
Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until just combined
Add in the apples and stir well
Pour a third of the mixture into a greased loaf pan, then swirl half the almond butter on top
Repeat this step with another third of the mixture and the remaining almond butter
Top with the remaining mixture, even out with a knife, then place in the oven
Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean

I am a complete nut....butter fiend so I eat slices of this with even more almond butter, or with soy butter.  It makes a delicious breakfast that feels like it should be a lot less healthy than it is!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Vegan not-so-Cornish pasty

Breakfast: Flax granola with almond milk and fruit

Lunch: Veggie sushi combo from Aji Sai

Dinner: Vegan not-so-Cornish pasty with kale chips and a bean salad

The Cornish pasty has got to be one of the most British foods there is. As the "national dish" of Cornwall in the south west, it enjoys a warm place in the country's heart as well as a reputation of being a bit of a trucker's meal.

Of course, this isn't your traditional Cornish pasty. As well as the absence of beef and turnip, this pasty is pinched at the top rather than folded and pinched at the side, as the traditional Cornish pasty is. We don't like to play by the rules.

You'll need:
(Makes 4 pasties)
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 cup plain white flour
1 cup soy butter / vegan margarine
1/4 cup water
5 small potatoes
2 1/2 cup spinach
10 baby carrots
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp tomato puree
almond milk

Sift the wholewheat flour and white flour together in a bowl
Add the soy butter or vegan margarine and use the rubbing method to combine until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs
Add in the water, bit by bit, until a soft dough is formed
Wrap this in cling film and put it in the fridge for 15 minutes
Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes into 1-2 inch chunks
Place in a pan with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender
Place the spinach in another pan with water and boil for 4 minutes
Drain the spinach then puree and set aside
In a frying pan, saute the onions, garlic and carrots in a little oil
Add in the oregano and cumin and saute for 4-5 minutes
Add the tomato puree and the potatoes, when done and drained
Cook until carrots are softened (2-3 more minutes)
Whilst the veg mixture is cooking, take the pastry and divide it into 4
Roll each one into a 17cm circle
Stir the spinach paste into the veg mixture, then put 1/4 of the veg into the middle of each pasty circle
Bring the edges of each circle up over the mixture and pinch to seal
Fold the edges up if necessary
Brush each with a little milk
Place on a greased baking tray and place in the oven for 30 minutes

There are a lot of steps in there, but each one is super simple, so this ends up as an easy meal that's hearty and satisfying with a hit of England!

The spices give this a vaguely curried feel as well as a warmth that makes this a great winter time dinner. Serve with some fresh veggies or kale chips for maximum awesomeness.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mango and beets smoothie

Breakfast: Mango and beets smoothie

Lunch: Couscous and spinach salad with potatoes

Dinner: Pesto pasta and a fruit salad

When I worked at Smoothie World we had a tried and tested hangover cure in smoothie form. Saturday after Saturday, haggard looking people would come in, only to return an hour and a half later looking full of life and thanking us for banishing the aftereffects of their good night. The secret? Beets.

Now, I don't have a juicer, so when I made yesterday's chocolate and beet cupcakes I kept hold of the red water in which I'd boiled the beets. This still retains all the flavour and colour of the beets, and it's a passable substitution when you can't get proper beet juice.

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
1 cup beet puree/ juice
1 cup mango juice
3/4 cup strawberries
1 banana

Blend everything together until smooth

Now, I understand your scepticism, but honestly, give this a try! Beets are fantastic for you, containing several vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and iron. The taste is mediated by the banana and strawberries in this drink so it's not too overwhelming.

Strangely enough, it's also been found to enhance the performance of athletes, so it will probably be banned at the next olympics.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vegan chocolate beet cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting

Breakfast: Flax granola with banana and strawberries

Lunch: Balsamic salad with one (ok two) vegan chocolate beet cupcakes with buttercream frosting

Dinner: Vegetable rolls with noodles at Green Earth

All credit for this idea has to go to one of my very best friends, Scouse Claire (alright, la?). She requested (nay, demanded) that I make a chocolate and beetroot cake having had one in Edinburgh, and though it took me months to wait til beetroot season to get round to it, this recipe is very much for her.

Of course, it's never quite as black and white as that. I had to make these vegan, and due to my general impatience with baking whole cakes, I made the much quicker cupcakes instead. I should really have gone the whole hog and deep fried them, to get the real Scottish flavour, but perhaps next time.

My immediate response to the idea of beets in a cake was mild revulsion, but you'll be amazed at how the beet flavour assimilates into the chocolate flavour, leaving you with incredibly decadent cupcakes that also contain a superfood!

You'll need:
(Makes 12 cupcakes or 1 cake)
2 large beetroot
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups wholewheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa (make sure it's vegan)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup soy butter (or vegan margarine)
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius and line a cupcake tin with cupcake cases
Peel the beetroots and chop them into small chunks
Boil for 15-20 minutes, or until tender
Drain and puree with the water
Pour the almond milk and apple cider vinegar into a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa, sugar and nutmeg
Stir the beetroot puree into the almond milk mixture, along with the vanilla extract
Stir the beetroot and almond mixture into the flour mixture until just combined
Divide the batter between the cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes, or until cupcakes and risen and a toothpick comes out clean
Allow to cool before frosting
Place the butter into a mixer / blender along with 1/3 of the cocoa and icing sugar
Mix, adding more and more cocoa and icing as you go
Stop once the perfect consistency is reached*
*You can add 2-3 tbsp of almond milk if necessary

This recipe can still be used to make a whole cake; just pour into a cake tin rather than a cupcake one and extend the baking time by another 15-20 minutes, bringing the cake out of the oven when a toothpick comes out clean. You might also have to make another half as much frosting, depending on how much of thick swamp of frosting you want to get through before you reach the actual cake.

These are just food porn, let's be honest.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Peanut kale slaw

Breakfast: Scrambled tofu with bread

Lunch: A veggie burger with home fries and peanut kale slaw

Dinner: Lentil shepherd's pie with sweet potato mash

Kale is one of those foods that's really come to the fore in recent years. It's actually a form of cabbage, and it's currently enjoying a huge surge in popularity because it is so damn good for you, while tasting a lot more interesting than its boring cousin. It contains beta carotene (for night vision!), and vitamins K and C as well as calcium, which makes it a great choice for vegans worried about their calcium intake.

I had heard many good things about Fresh's new kale slaw, only to be somewhat underwhelmed a couple of weeks ago when I actually got to try it. It's rare that Fresh meals aren't a hit with me, so I can only assume it's because of my hatred of mayo and its vegan incarnation Nayonnaise.

With that in mind I set about making a slaw without this horrible ingredient, and turned to peanut butter to do so. Obviously this tastes different to normal slaw, but I love it!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2-3 as a side)
2 packed cups kale, chopped into thin strips
1 cup carrot, grated
1 heaping tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
juice of 1/2 lime

Dry fry the kale for 2-3 minutes, until beginning to crisp
Remove from the heat
Mix the peanut butter, vinegar, water, olive oil, sugar and lime together in a bowl
Toss the kale and carrot together in a bowl
Toss well with the peanut dressing and serve

This serves fantastically in the fridge and even works as a side for a savoury breakfast the next morning!

Interestingly, kale also contains sulforaphane, which has great anti-cancer properties. Gotta love foods that taste great and might save your life!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tropicake bars (vegan)

Breakfast: Rice and spicy beans with spinach

Lunch: Potato and chickpea curry with naan bread

Dinner: Vegetable noodle soup followed by a Tropicake Bar

In my never-ending search for vegan goodies that will satiate Putin's need for sugar, I've recently branched out into cookies and bars; two arenas that have always taken a back seat to cupcakes with me, if I'm honest. I'm not sure why it is, but I've simply never gone down that road, so the whole concept of bars is the road less travelled on this blog.

These were born due to me being sick of brownies and having half a papaya in the fridge that wouldn't seem to go away no matter how much I ate. I added banana as an egg replacer, and coconut because I liked the tropical foods theme, and because everything is better with coconut.

I never expected these to turn out so fantastically. Not only did I almost make myself sick eating the frosting (which was oddly reminiscent of a roadtrip to Anglesey where I got carried away in an old school sweet shop and ate so much candy I puked...when I was 19) but even after this episode I couldn't keep my dirty mitts off these succulent, moist and fruity bars. I hope you like them as much as I do.

You'll need:
Cake bars
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup papaya, pureed
1 banana, mashed
2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup canola oil
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup vegan margarine / soy butter
1/3 cup coconut milk
Cake bars
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius
Sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into a bowl, then stir in the coconut
In a separate bowl, mix together the papaya, bana, vanilla essence and canola oil
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined
Pour into an 8x8-inch greased baking tray
Place in the oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is slightly browning
Cream together the icing and margarine, then add the coconut milk in to reach desired consistency
Spread evenly over the top of the cooled cake
Place in the fridge to set
When set, cut into 16-20 bars, depending on what size you prefer

These are the kind of cake bars that you eat for breakfast because you know they're there and you can't stop thinking about them. I did that this morning; don't judge me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Miso curried vegetables

Breakfast: Vegan crepes with cherry jam

Lunch: Vegetable and rice soup with ciabatta bread dipped in balsamic vinegar

Dinner: Miso curried vegetables

I've said a few times on here that I find myself making the most inventive recipes when the cupboard is quite bare. This recipe was created in that situation, with the added idea that I wanted something with spinach and potatoes. I was seconds away from making spinach, chickpea and eggplant curry when I noticed that Putin was making miso soup, and a thought was born.

If you're not a massive fan of miso this might be a little too strong for you, so feel free to use slightly less miso and a little more water. If you like miso soup, I think this will be perfect.

You'll need:
(Feeds 2-3)
5 small potatoes
2 heaping tsp miso paste
1 tsp red curry paste
3 tbsp water
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup red pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups green beans, chopped
3 cups spinach, torn
oil to fry
Cut the potatoes into 1 inch cubes, leaving the skin on, put them into a pan of water and boil for 10-25 minutes or until tender
Mix together the miso paste, red curry paste, water and olive oil in a bowl
In a frying pan, heat a little oil then add in the red pepper
Cook for 5 minutes, then add in the green beans
Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often
While the beans and peppers and cooking, boil the spinach for 3-4 minutes in water
Drain the spinach, rinse with cold water, then place in a blender and blend into a paste
When the potatoes are tender, drain and add into the frying pan with half the miso mixture
Stir to coat and cook for 2 minutes
Add in the rest of the miso mixture and the spinach paste, and stir to coat
Heat for 1 minute then serve

This is a lovely meal that doesn't take long to make and leaves you feeling totally satisfied. While the potatoes are mostly to thank for that, the spinach is full of iron and the miso contains both protein and zinc, and has been reported to contain vitamin B12, though that has been contradicted in some studies. Either way, this is a filling and nutritious meal that I'll definitely be making again!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tomato and lime scrambled tofu on rice

Brunch: Tomato and lime scrambled tofu on rice

Snack: A Gypsy cookie from the fabulous Bunner's Bakery

Dinner: The Energy Bowl with a juice and a cupcake from Fresh

Oddly, the thing that sparked the idea for this recipe was capers. Putin fell in love with capers in Sydney when Louise used them in a pasta sauce, and he went on about them for months until he eventually bought some in Toronto. There they were, sat in the fridge, daring me to do something interesting with them for brunch. So I did.

Scrambled tofu usually involves cumin and coriander and a hint of India. I decided to go more Mexican with this, combining tofu and beans to get that nutritionally awesome beans-and-rice combination that's fantastic in the morning. Throw in some tomato, lime and, of course, capers, and you've got a zingy brunch that's a little different.

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
1 cup white rice
1/2 onion, diced
4-5 large tomatoes
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 cup kidney beans
2 tbsp capers
juice of 1 1/2 limes
250-300 grams firm tofu

Boil the rice with 2 cups water, then bring down to a simmer with the lid on the pan, for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked
While the rice is cooking, fry the onion in a little oil until just browning
Add the tomatoes and crush them with a spatula as they cook for 4-5 minutes. They should end up totally smashed
Add in the paprika and oregano and stir well
Add in the kidney beans and capers and stir
Keeping the frying pan on a high heat, allow to cook until the juice from the tomatoes has mostly reduced. This could be anywhere from 2 minutes to 8 minutes
In a bowl, break up the tofu with a fork until it looks like scrambled eggs
Add the tofu and lime juice to the pan
Stir well and continue to cook on a high heat until everything has reduced
Serve on top of rice and enjoy!

This meal goes particularly well with a glass of cold mango juice, or water with some lime slices in it.

One of the main problems with brunch in a lot of places is that the meals are heavy but nutritionally sparse, so although you leave feeling totally stuffed you've still got that nagging hungry feeling after an hour or so. You definitely will not get that feeling with this brunch!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Vegan cherry scones

Breakfast: Almond butter and banana smoothie

Lunch: Kasha salad followed by vegan cherry scones

Dinner: The special protein burger with kale slaw from Fresh

On long weekends you've got to bake something special, and its been so long that I had these that I just had to try making some myself. I used to buy cherry scones every time we went shopping, and this recipe had me remembering all those delicious tastes in every mouthful. Definitely a great autumn treat!

You'll need:
(Makes 8 scones)
2 cups wholewheat flour
2 tbsp icing sugar
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup glace cherries
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
Sift the flour, icing sugar and baking powder into a bowl
Add in the vegan margarine and combine using the rubbing in method
Once the mixture reaches the consistency of breadcrumbs, add in the almond milk
Add a little of the water and mix until the mixture becomes a moist but still thick dough
Chop the cherries and add to the dough, kneading slightly to blend them evenly
Turn out onto a floured surface and flatten to a circle a few inches thick
Cut this across the middle, then again across the middle, to create 4 quarters
Cut each quarter in half (cutting the circle across the middle twice more) to create 8 wedge-shaped scones
Place these onto a lightly greased baking tray and brush with almond milk (and brown sugar, if you like)
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the top is slightly browning
Allow to cool, then serve with jam!

These are also delicious with vegan margarine, nut butters or just plain, with a cup of chai tea.

I find it slightly perplexing that no one has thought to do vegan high tea in Toronto; I know for a fact that I'd be there on a weekly basis!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bloomfield's Badass Foods: Food!

Ok kids, I consider the following rant to be a Public Service Announcement; a ranting, snorting, saliva-flecked Public Service Announcement. Please enjoy.

I've noticed recently that the supplement industry has been booming. It has been estimated that this industry is worth $50 billion a year, a figure that was taken from stats before recent growth was taken into account. In other words, this industry is worth big bucks - and this, in a time where people complain that it is often too expensive to eat healthily. But what are we getting for that absurd figure? What are vegetarians and vegans, who traditionally spend a lot of money on vitamin and mineral supplements, getting for their cash?

Well, in the eyes of this sceptic, a few things of differing value.

First, and most cynically, I believe we're receiving a very expensive placebo.

People often don't know enough about a mineral of vitamin beyond a general awareness that it is "good" or "makes your skin better". In my experience, vegetarians and vegans tend to be a little more clued up on the benefits of these supplements, but can still get lost in the haze of information that surrounds them. We know that Vitamin D is a useful thing to have, but how do we know when we are getting an ample supply of it? Relying on the information of someone trying to shill you a product is usually not a great idea in any marketplace, especially one like this where customer knowledge often not as in depth as it needs to be.

Secondly, still with my cynical hat on, how are we sure of the quality of the supplements presented to us? Just because a supplement says that it is made up of pure iron or magnesium or whatever it happens to be that you "need" doesn't mean it can deliver it efficiently. The quality of the original materials might be poor, the manufacturing process could have damaged it, and the packaging may not be sufficiently secure or may even leach into the contents (as is the case with lots of clear plastis in sunlight and heat especially). Ultimately, you don't want to spend $30 on a plastic barrel of Omega 3 capsules only for the oil to have been extracted from unhealthy, unnaturally farmed fish (especially if you're not pescetarian!) and for the contents to be half carcinogenic plastics!

Thirdly, I notice that lots of vegetarians and vegans tend to have a much more varied diet than the majority of us carnivores. They tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and a far wider array of products than your standard meatosaurus. It seems strange to me, then, that people who have this awesome dietary variety would need to supplement that at all.

My point, for fear of it getting lost amongst all this ire, is this: Just because someone tells you you need a Vitamin C pill, it doesn't mean that you actually need it.

The good thing about food is that it can provide almost all of our essential vitamins and minerals, even if we have restricted diets - that's why we have evolved to eat the stuff, after all. If it was all about taste and pleasure, we might have evolved to survive on beer. It's been tested, and we can't.

Food is a bounteous wonderland of goodness, and often foods contain more amazing vitamins and minerals than you might think.

If you think you need more Vitamin C in your diet, have a few good quality chili peppers with every other meal, and add herbs like parsley and thyme to winter dishes. Yes, Vitamin C is not just in oranges! Save yourself a trip to Holland & Barrett or Shoppers Drug Mart and try to get everything you need from your diet, or as much as realistically possible.

I honestly really, really want people to look at their foods and the goodness they can get from them, and realise that supplements should be a last resort; something that you turn to ONLY if you can't get what you need successfully from your diet. It might take a little more effort to cook more adventurously, and with better quality ingredients, but if you tally up how much money you spent in your drug cabinet and spend that on good food instead, I'm sure you'll agree that it's a much better investment.

I know these are dark financial times for people (I'm talking about the 1 million unemployed under 24s in the UK, and the others around the world) but thinking that a supplement is going to change your life is simply misguided. It's a much better idea to purchase quality, organic foods that are more easily absorbed into your body than a concentrated, isolated supplement.

Your body is designed to get the most benefit out of an accumulation of varied foods ingested at a similar time, the most efficient way. If you take a pill or powder, your body might waste up to 80% of the contents just trying to break it down and use it properly. Foods work best together, not in isolation, so give your gut a break and make yourself something with mad variety and lots of ingredients!

The bottom line is this: your body wants foods, not pills.

Below I've compiled a list of the things that vegetarians and vegans are most likely to have deficiencies in, and some natural, nutritional ways that they can get more of each one into their body. Don't buy into the hype that says if you don't eat meat or animal products you need supplements. What you need is a varied diet, rich in whole foods - and a love for eating that food!

I hope you've enjoyed this post, and please feel free to pose any questions you might have. I'm here to help, friends!


Some things vegetarians may be low in:

Vitamin B12
Probably the most obvious vitamin to put on this list, B12 can be a real problem. Deficiency symptoms include but are not limited to: irritability, inability to focus, depression with suicidal tendencies (yikes!), anemia, irreversible nerve damage and low energy levels. That's quite the doom-laden list!

B12 comes from animal sources mainly, but don't despair; it can only be obtained by eating tempeh, miso and sea vegetables, although not in huge quantities. Fortified food and drink products such as almond milk and Marmite can be a great option. Of course, if you're in dire need, you can turn to B12 supplements, but let's pretend I didn't say that so I don't feel like a massive hypocrite.

Vitamin D
This is needed to absorb calcium, and deficiency may cause bone or dental health problems as well as rickets (soft bones!), asthma and muscular spasms.

You can get Vitamin D from sunlight directly and in dietary form from mushrooms (especially white button mushrooms), as well as fish, if you're a pescetarian.

This is probably the mineral most commonly attributed to the stereotype of vegetarians being weak and feeble types, as iron deficiency can lead to anemia and reduced stamina.

There are many non-meat options to provide iron in the diet, such as lentils, quinoa, tofu, pumpkin seeds, blackstrap molasses and the gas-inducing Jerusalem Artichoke. Eating these foods with Vitamin C promotes far better iron absorption.

Happy eating!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Almond butter frosting

Breakfast: Scrambled tofu with spinach and mushrooms

Lunch: A couscous salad followed by vegan cupcakes with almond butter frosting

Dinner: A falafel wrap from vegetarian's friend, Gazhale!

I have extolled the virtues of nut butters on this site for some time now, and I'm unlikely to stop anytime soon. What I am likely to do though is to find new ways to use them until every single one of my recipes contains almond butter to some degree. Well, maybe it won't go that far, but I've already got that particular one into a cupcake recipe.

It was my lovely friend Jackson's birthday last weekend and I made these vegan cupcakes with almond butter frosting, which was adapted from a peanut butter frosting recipe I had long ago. Due to the unseasonal heat and the oiliness of the almond butter I used, this frosting was less viscous than I'd hoped, but if you're hoping to create designs with this, just add more and more icing sugar until the desired consistency is reached.

Oh, and you really do need a mixer for this; or at least a coffee grinder, which is what I used!

You'll need:
(Frosts 12 cupcakes)
3/4 cup good quality 100% almond butter
2 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp vegan margarine
2 tbsp milk

Place everything in a mixer and blend until your desired consistency is reached
Frost both vanilla and chocolate cupcakes for ultimate almond frosting experience

These went down a treat, and the leftover frosting got eaten very someone else (ahem).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Strawberry and granola smoothie

Breakfast: Strawberry and granola smoothie

Lunch: Roasted veggies panini with salad

Dinner: Tofu and broccoli stir fry with rice and steamed greens

When I first moved to Toronto I worked at a smoothie store (let's call it Smoothie World) and though there were many things making the job not exactly fantastic, I had great workmates, great customers (for the most part) and I got to drink free smoothies all day long.

When I was trying to decide yesterday whether to have a smoothie or some granola, I remembered the Breakfast Smoothie we used to make then and realised I didn't have to decide! Putting granola straight into your smoothie gives it weight, texture and a lot of energy. Plus it sweetens it, so there's no need for honey, making this 100% vegan!

You'll need:
(Feeds 1)
1/2 a banana
1 cup strawberries, chopped
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup almond milk
1 cup Flax Plus granola (or other granola of your choice; make sure its vegan if you are!)
Put everything together in a blender and blend!
There's a lovely sweetness to this that plays off against the slight tart taste of the blueberries, making it the perfect morning kick to get you going. If you're into supplements, smoothies can be a great way to take them; just throw them into the mix and drink it down!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sweet potato oregano fries

Breakfast: Rice and beans with spinach

Lunch: A terribly delicious vegan Pad Thai followed by tofu chocolate cake from Fresh

Dinner: Mushroom burgers with sweet potato oregano fries

I feel like sweet potato fries are a fairly modern invention. There's just something about them that makes me a little excited every time, as if I've been initiated into some special club that knows where the good shit is. I can't believe I've never made them at home before. I definitely will be again!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2 as a large side)
1 large sweet potato
olive oil
black pepper

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius
Wash the sweet potatoes and chop, with the skin on, into whatever size fries you prefer
Put some olive oil, black pepper and quite a lot of oregano in a Ziplock bag
Add some of the fries into the bag, close it, and smush everything together so the fries become covered in the oil and the herbs
Repeat for all the fries, adding more oil and herbs where necessary
When all of your fries are covered (and your hands are amazingly still clean), put them all onto a baking tray
Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes, shaking and turning them every 10 minutes
The longer you leave them, the crispier they will be
When they've reached your desired crispiness, serve!

I absolutely love these. They're sweet but herby, and would be fantastic with miso gravy or a more savoury sauce to dip them into. Delicious!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Vegan Thanksgiving: Quinoa with candied yams

Breakfast: Coffee and a vegan muffin

Lunch: Grilled veggie panini with salad

Dinner: Vegan nut roast, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy and quinoa with candied yams, peas and carrots

So you think Thanksgiving, you think turkey, potatoes, yams (or sweet potatoes if you're British) and gravy. Then you think, "Dammit, I'm vegan."

Then you think "Hang on, lose the turkey and we're set!"

Yes folks; vegan Thanksgiving CAN be wonderful! Not only do you not pass out after dinner due to Turkey Tiredness, but you can have much more exciting flavours and still enjoy that feeling of decadence that Thanksgiving is all about.

For our first vegan Thanksgiving we made nut roast, mushroom gravy, creamy mashed potatoes (yep, that's them there in the back of the photo) and this: quinoa with candied yams, peas and carrots. I loved this as it's got some nutritional value but still includes the staple vegetables of this holiday. Thanks to Andy for the inspiration!

You'll need:
(Feeds a few when paired with everything above!)
1 large yam / sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups veg stock
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius
Put the yam cubes in a baking dish
Mix together the olive oil and sugar, then drizzle it over the yams
Shake the grated ginger over the top
Put this in the oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring often, and remove when done
Place the quinoa in heavy bottomed pan, and set this on a medium heat to toast the quinoa seeds
After 5 mintes, add in the carrot and the stock
Stir and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the stock is almost absorbed
Add in the frozen peas and cook until all stock is absorbed and the carrots are tender - another 5 minutes usually
Take off the heat and stir in the candied yams
Stir in the lemon juice, sprinkle the pine nuts on top and then serve with the above foods

You would think that it would be difficult to overeat at vegan Thanksgiving. Thanks to dishes like this, you'd be wrong.

Of course, the traditional thing to do would be to get a pumpkin pie, but honestly, I would have imploded had I tried to eat any more food after this meal. There's always tomorrow though.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Spinach and zucchini soup

Breakfast: Oatmeal with banana and dates

Lunch: Spinach and zucchini soup with crusty bread

Dinner: Vegan lasagne

I don't often post other people's recipes on this blog any more, but I just had to post this one. I found this on a great website called 101 Cookbooks when I was looking for an inventive new soup recipe and a way to use up the zucchini in our fridge. I am all about spinach due to its iron content, so this sounded great - and it was!

It might not sound filling, but it actually is. I'm not sure if this is due to its nutritional density or the potatoes in it, but either way, its a lovely fall time dinner or lunch when paired with crusty bread and hummus!

You'll need:
(Feeds 4-6)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 large zucchini, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 cups veg stock
4 cups spinach, chopped
1 cup coriander, chopped
1 lemon
3 tbsps olive oil

In a large pan, heat the olive oil, then add in the onions and garlic
Saute for a few minutes, then add potatoes and zucchini
Add the stock and simmer for 15 minutes
Stir in the spinach, wait 10 seconds, then stir in the coriander too
Puree with a hand blender or a stand up blender until the soup is smooth
Stir in the juice of one lemon
Season and serve!

Eating such a bright green soup feels a little strange at first, but it does have the psychological effect of making you feel mad healthy before it can have logically hit your stomach. Such is the power of suggestion!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Triple protein vegan nachos

Breakfast: A vegan apple and cinnamon muffin with chai tea

Lunch: Roasted red pepper and ginger soup. Thankfully it was the final batch!

Dinner: Triple protein vegan nachos with home-made pico de gallo and guacamole

The funny thing about going vegan is that you don't think of the things you can't eat until they come up in conversation and then you go "oh NO!". I've found a way to tackle this though; consider it a challenge, not a fact.

When the subject of nachos came up, I realised that rather than complaining about 'missing out' on cheese, we could in fact take this chance to make nachos a great, nutritional meal, rather than something that leaves you bloated and gassy and wishing you'd eaten less. Well, to be fair, there are 2 different kinds of beans in this, so the gassy part is maintained, but at least there are three great protein sources too!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
1 cup dehydrated TVP
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup kidney beans, drained
1 cup black beans, drained
2 large tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
balsamic vinegar
hot sauce
tortilla chips to serve

Put the TVP in a bowl and add in just under 1 cup of water
Leave for 5 minutes to rehydrate
Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil til the onions are browning
Add in the kidney beans and the black beans and stir well
Add in the tomatoes and crush into the mix with a wooden spoon
Add in the tomato puree and a little balsamic vinegar for colour and flavour
Cook for ten minutes to allow to reduce then toss in the TVP
Stir to combine, then add in hot sauce to your taste (lots, if you're me!)
Add more balsamic vinegar if necessary
Allow to reduce to the consistency you like, the serve on top of tortilla chips

You can add vegan cheese to this if you like (or even normal cheese if you're not vegan) but I find that with the home-made pico de gallo and guacamole from this recipe there is enough creaminess to the overall dish.

These are not only filling and satisfying but they're incredibly moreish, so try not to make too much or you run the risk of overeating horrendously.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Patatas Bravas

Breakfast: A blueberry and flax seed smoothie

Lunch: Wheat grain salad and rice and cranberry salad

Dinner: Patatas Bravas with corn on the cob and an almond and black bean salad

I first came across this dish in a tapas bar on Deansgate in Manchester. I was blown away by the flavours and the depth of taste, despite such simple ingredients. I was also blown away by the fact that it was 4 quid, but that tells you more about tapas bars in the UK than the dish itself.

Anyway, all this happened before my Cooking Renaissance, and by the time I did decide to start cooking actual meals rather than living on crap salads, rose wine and Angel Delight I'd perfected this dish enough to impress the whole family at Christmas - when I'm sure they were asking themselves why the hell I was cooking them a Spanish dish on Christmas Eve.

You'll need
(Feeds 3-4 as a tapas or side)
3-4 large white potatoes, skin on, washed and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
400g chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
black pepper
tabasco sauce or other hot sauce

Fry the potatoes in a little oil, turning over regularly, for 20-30 minutes
Meanwhile, fry the onion and garlic in a little oil til browned
Add in the tomatoes, tomato puree and stir
Bring down to a simmer and add in as much oregano, paprika, black pepper and tabasco sauce as you see fit. I put 1 tbsp oregano, 1 tbsp paprika, a shake of black pepper and a few shakes of tabasco
Allow the sauce to reduce until the potatoes are crispy and cooked through
Add the potatoes into the sauce and stir to cover

This is quite a heavy little dish and eating nothing but this can result in the dreaded post-potato-massive-belly problem, so I really enjoy this with a salad or with some lighter Spanish accompaniments. A great one for winter time... with red wine.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vegan cashew butter and oatmeal cookies

Breakfast: Scrambled tofu with garlic pita bread

Lunch: Carrot and coriander soup

Dinner: Lentil chili followed by vegan cashew butter and oatmeal cookies with almond milk!

You know, I'm surprisingly crap at making cookies. Maybe its a British thing - we seem to buy biscuits and bake cakes - but I never quite feel like I'm in control of the situation when I'm making them. An attempt at gluten-free cherry and cashew cookies yesterday, despite producing an amazing tasting dough, resulted in one large, flat, solid 'cookie' that had to be hacked off the baking tray with malice.

Thankfully these turned out alright. We've gone a bit mad with the nut butters in my house, having almond, peanut and cashew at the moment, so the time seemed right to experiment. These cookies are nice and fat, and very filling thanks to the oats.

You'll need:
(Makes 10-12)
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 cup oats
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cashew butter
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup molasses
3/4 cup almond milk
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius and either grease a baking tray or line it with baking paper
Sift together the flour, salt and sugar then stir in the oats
Mix the baking soda and molasses together in a bowl
Add the cashew butter, almond milk, oil and vanilla essence into the molasses
Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined
Divide the mixture into 12 sections
Roll each one into a small ball, then place on the baking tray and flatting to about half an inch
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the top is golden brown
Remove gently and allow to cool and harden
Enjoy with a glass of almond milk!

Cashew butter is fabulous as it has tons of protein and heaps of essential fatty acids. Go nuts!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Char Siu TVP

Breakfast: Vegan granola with soy milk, and a cup of lemon, honey and ginger

Lunch: Roasted red pepper and ginger soup with potato wedges

Dinner: Char Siu TVP on white rice

A recent meal at the new Hogtown Vegan on Bloor Street here in Toronto piqued our household's interest in TVP. To be honest, we'd never even heard of it before, let alone eaten it, and didn't really understand what it was either. Growing up in the UK, the only acronyms to do with food that I heard of were BSE and CJD, so you can understand if I was slightly concerned.

It turns out that TVP stands for Textured Vegetable Protein, which, if its not the most appetizing sounding thing in the world, as least isn't a disease. It's made from soy flour or soy concentrate, and is dehydrated before packing and then rehydrated before use. When it's in chunk or flaked form, it has the look and texture of meat (though not the colour) and can be used as a meat replacement, or if you're a carnivore, as a relatively cheap way to make meat go further.

Using it is actually ridiculously easy - and although I would warn against using soy products too much, it can certainly be a good cupboard stable for when there's little else in the house.

You'll need
(Feeds 2)
1 cup dry TVP
1 large chopped carrot
1 onion, chopped
1 cup green beans, chopped
2-4 tbsps char siu sauce
1 tbsp pine nuts and sunflower seeds
soy sauce

Put the TVP into a bowl with just less than one cup of boiling water. Stir then let stand for 5 minutes
Meanwhile, in a wok, fry the onion in a little oil for 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent
Add in the carrot and green beans and fry for 2 or 3 more minutes
Add in the TVP and a little soy sauce
Mix 2 tbsps of char siu sauce with a little water, to thin it out a little
Add this into the wok and stir to cover everything. You can add more char siu sauce if you prefer!
Cook until the carrots are tender, then serve over rice
Top with a few pine nuts and sunflower seeds

I find that this dish is delicious because they're aren't too many flavours or ingredients; its simplicity lets the char siu flavour stand out, and the addition of the pine nuts at the end may seem strange but it works! Pine nuts are expensive, so if you prefer, just use sunflower seeds. Either taste great!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bloomfield's Badass Foods: Honey

I find it quite odd, sometimes, that being healthy is seen as a chore; that a lot of people believe we have to sacrifice tasty noms and treats in order to eat healthy foods. This is an especially strange viewpoint when you consider that one of the most common food and drink sweeteners is also amazingly good for you!

Honey is probably one of the most nutritious foods out there, as well as being a super sweet treat! It's fantastic for many reasons but I think we should start with considering how easy it is to eat - which is surely the most important aspect of all foods. Amazingly enough, it comes to us ready prepared by our industrious little bee chums. Just think about that - it astounds me just as much as it astounds Eddie Izzard.

I absolutely love honey. I have it in my earnest and wholesome porridge every morning and it really livens up what could otherwise be a dull and dreary breakfast routine. Yet honey isn't just a tasty sugar substitute to sweeten up Scottish foods; it's much more than that.

The Energy Source
Honey has an average calorie count of 65 per tablespoon, compared to 15 per tablespoon of ordinary white sugar. Whilst this might alarm some hardcore calorie counters, please don't start tossing the honey aside yet; the sugars in honey are much more easily digested due to it being a combination of the natural sugars glucose, fructose, maltose and sucrose. It also allows the body to absorb the minerals it has in it far more easily than refined sugar would (if refined sugar has any mineral value at all!)

The Vitamin and Mineral Monster
That's right: honey not only maintains the mineral balance in your body, which is crucial for proper functioning of processes like digestion) but it also contains several of the B vitamin complex, which help with sugar metabolism and promote a feeling of wellbeing, especially in the case of thiamine. it also commonly contains vitamin C, calcium and iron, regardless of regional difference in the flowers that the bees visit.

The Healer
Honey has always been used as a traditional medicine, both inside the body and out. It has been used to treat sore throats, coughs, cankers of the mouth and lips, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure and lastly (but never least) constipation. That's right; if you can't go, get some honey down you! It has a therapeutic effect on the mind as well as the body, soothing and calming, especially when eaten with hot water and lemon. The hot water allows for better digestion, the honey gives a pleasant taste and a vitamin injection and the lemon gives the classic vitamin C boost as well as being an antiseptic. Put stock in old wives cures, because sometimes they work!

The Hayfever Fighter
Locally-sourced honey is an excellent way to bolster your immune system, especially if you suffer from hayfever and other irritations. By exposing yourself to low amounts of local pollen within the honey, most people will desensitize themselves to those particular pollens before spring's brutal onslaught on the olfactory regions! Getting some locally-sourced honey will help your sniffles as well as supporting local producers too, which is super important now that honey production is decreasing worldwide as the bee population takes a hit. You can try manuka honey too, which is famous for its echinacea and ginseng-gathering bees, but I find that locally-sourced honey works better. My girlfriend's severe hayfever symptoms have been greatly reduced since we upped our honey intake from a local farm!

The Fungus Foe
Honey is a fantastic enemy of the overgrowth of internal bacteria, and can help promote the correct and stable growth of the "good" bacteria in your gut. This will help keep your digestive system working well and getting the most from the B vitamins that come in with the honey, as they are partly digested by bacteria on the body's behalf.

You're Pollen My Leg!
Bee pollen is a tremendous food: 30% protein and packed full of a large concentration of minerals such as vitamins A, C, D, E and the B complex. The protein contained in it is complete and offers more essential amino acids than meat! Vegetarians, toss aside that soy nonsense and give yourself a decent amount of pollen every week. Not only is it a dietary powerhouse but it is also far less allergenic than airborne pollen. You can take 20g or so for a normal supplement or 40g for a therapeutic dosage.

I'm sure my honey bleatings have become tiresome by now, so let me wrap this up by offering my top tips for getting good quality honey, wherever you are in the world:

1) Buy local! This will increase the quality generally and mean that you have more chance of reducing hayfever symptoms. As with most locally-sourced foods, it tends to be tastier too, with a more varied and subtle flavour than the coarse, overly-sweet offerings from the big producers.

2) Buy multi-floral honeys and avoid mono-florals! This will increase the type of pollen you are exposed to and will also avoid your immune system being hammered by single-flower honey!

3) Try a variety! Find some tasty honey that suits your tastebuds. It's well worth the effort and will add a lot of punch to your day. Keep on giving yourself this tasty treat and you'll find that a change in perception is not far off!

The simple way to describe honey is this: it is good for you, and will give your body a serious helping hand to feel great every day!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bloomfield's Badass Foods: Introducing David!

David likes the good bread.

One of the biggest problems that vegetarians and vegans face is eating the right stuff.

In fact, scratch that; one of the biggest problems that people face is eating the right stuff.

That's right; it's not just us herbivores that can be lacking in the nutrition stakes. Although we may get probed by omnivores on our protein and iron intakes, the people asking the questions are often also missing something important in their diet, or focusing on the wrong thing - like the amount of protein they're consuming rather than the type.

There's a reason for this though. It can be difficult to decipher the mixed messages we receive regarding the  contents of food and not many people have the time to read through the myriad of conflicting studies on nutrition to figure out what's right. I know I certainly don't have the patience to (especially when the vast expanse of the Internet is a constant distraction).

With that in mind, the Everyday Veggie is stoked to introduce our very own nutritionist, David Bloomfield! David is a personal trainer and nutritionist based in Eastbourne, UK, and he's a great friend of the website, having moved to Australia on very flimsy advice from yours truly over a year ago. Not only is he amazingly passionate about good health (and bizarre internet videos), he's a great writer and one of those few people that knows how to balance health and happiness at the same time. Sure, he buys 12-grain bread and milks his own cow but he is partial to regular scoops of gelato too. He may have a mild addiction to banana milkshakes, but we let that slide.

David will be covering a range of topics on the site, and busting some ingrained myths about the foods we eat along the way. Watch out for his first post tomorrow, and if you've any questions for Mr. Bloomfield, post them here!

We're happy to have you, David!