Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Everyday Veggie has moved!

As of March 1st 2012, the Everyday Veggie can now be found at

10 months and almost 28,000 visitors means that this blog has outgrown its format - so come over and see us at the sexy new site and join the party!

Happy eating, foodies - and thanks for all the support :)


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Red lentil and roasted vegetable soup

Breakfast: An almond butter and banana smoothie

Lunch: Red lentil and roasted vegetable soup

Dinner: A char sui vegetable and soba noodle stir fry

When I was at Manchester Uni (a period I know affectionately think of as "the glory years", though my liver might not agree), one of the places I was most likely to be found eating was in the vegetarian cafe near the library. Claire and I used to go there often for their soups and their awesome cake - though if we're honest, it was more the latter than the former.

Their lentil soup was fantastic and brilliantly cheap, and kind to both a student budget and a hungover tummy (and the world). I hope that cafe is still there!

Yet still in my 3 years as a vegetarian I haven't really embraced the lentil soup family. I'm not sure why; perhaps it seemed more of a Manchester thing to me. Regardless, I stepped back onto the lentil bandwagon today as the lack of anything interesting in my fridge led me to make this red lentil and roasted veggie soup which was better than I ever expected.

A filling lunch choice with a lot of goodness inside, I'm having this again tomorrow!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2-4)
3 cups red lentils
3 red peppers
1 zucchini
1 large red onion
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp oregano
1/2 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
a little oil

Soak the lentils in water overnight, or for 1 hour before you begin
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Chop the zucchini roughly and quarter the red onion
Toss the onion, zucchini, garlic and peppers on a baking tray and drizzle with oil
Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning often
Allow to cool then chop all vegetables rougly
Place in a large pan with the stock and drained lentils, then add in the oregano, thyme and red wine vinegar
Cook for 20 minutes, then blend
Season to taste and enjoy!

Lentils have classically been the ultimate food for vegetarians; they're consistently rated as one of the top healthiest foods, and their high protein content means they've carved out a niche for themselves in a veggie diet. They also, however, have a reputation for being a little bland, but you won't believe it when you're enjoying this tasty soup!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vegan Valentine's Day; Vegan Irish "Moccachino" Chocolate Mousse

Breakfast: Spicy beans and brown rice

Lunch: Leek and potato soup

Dinner: Vegan chili with red wine followed by vegan Irish "moccachino" chocolate mousse

So Valentine's Day is here again.

I'm not going to pretend I'm a huge fan of this occasion - I  forbid Putin from buying me anything, taking me out, or acting in a way that is any different to any other day at all - but I do acknowledge that for many people, single and coupled, it is a day of much importance.

It's also a day where culinary decadence is all but demanded.

If you're planning to stay home and cook for your Valentine, you'll definitely need a great looking, great tasting, calorific treat that says "OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU SO HARD" so much more than a store-bought tiramisu.

This hits all of those criteria.

Now, I am really not a fan of using tofu in a lot of things, as it's hard to mask the taste, so I was surprised how much I enjoyed this; in fact, after an hour in the fridge, it's damned amazing! The coffee and whiskey flavours are not predominant; instead they bring a warmth to the chocolate flavour and help the finished dish to be utterly decadent and full of love. It's also ridiculously easy to make; it will take you one hour and five minutes, with one hour of that being fridge time. Simple.

You'll need:
(Feeds 2 as a small dessert)
1 cup silken tofu
2 tbsp strong coffee
2 tbsp whiskey
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa

Blend everything together
Divide between cups / small bowls
Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for a minimum of one hour
Serve up to your love and enjoy

If you've just served up a 12-course feast, you might want to serve this as shown in the picture, in a tall shot glass almost like an after-dinner liqueur. Like this, it will serve 4-5 people. If you prefer, though, a small cup or bowl with some raspberries in the bottom can be topped with this mousse for ultimate satisfaction.

Because nothing says "I love you" more than alcohol and chocolate!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Vegan vanilla chai butterfly cupcakes with vanilla-cinnamon buttercream

Breakfast: A full vegan brunch from Fresh

Lunch: A veggie sandwich and coffee from Tequila Bookworm

Dinner: Leek and potato soup with crusty bread followed by two vegan vanilla chai butterfly cupcakes with vanilla-cinnamon buttercream

When I was living in Australia, one of my ultimate favourite things was the Tantric Turtle Chai tent at Playground Weekender festival. Run by what I believe was a cool hippy family, these guys went round festivals serving up their amazing nutmeg cake, putting on open-mic afternoons and generally being lovely. The only low point was when we saw a funnelweb spider in the area once, but that was sorted out pretty quickly.

The best thing about this tent though was their amazing, AMAZING soy chai. Made in giant vats, this stuff was absolutely phenomenal and always made my day. Since then, I've been hooked on chai.

This recipe is double chai-y; the milk is chai-infused, and the flour mix includes ground ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon too. My favourite part, though, is the vanilla-cinnamon buttercream. good.

You'll need:
(Makes 12)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup icing sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups almond milk
2 good quality chai tea bags
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla essence
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Vanilla-cinnamon buttercream:
3 cups icing sugar
1 cup vegan margarine
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a cupcake tray with cupcake wrappers
Heat the milk in a pan until it's almost boiling, then take off the heat and throw in the 2 tea bags
Allow the tea bags to sit in the milk for 5-10 minutes while it cools
Remove the tea bags from the milk and stir in the vinegar
In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, icing sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
Stir the oil and the vanilla essence into the milk mixture
Combine the milk mixture with the flour mixture and stir til just combined
Divide between the cupcake wrappers and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean
Allow the cakes to cool
Whip the icing sugar, vegan margarine, vanilla essence and cinnamon together in a blender
With a sharp knife, cut the top off the cupcake, pointing the knife slightly downwards so you get a UFO-shaped piece of cake
Cut this in half into two "wings"
Fill the hole in the top of the cake with the buttercream then stick the two "wings" in, as shown in the photo
Repeat for each cake until you've got an army of vanilla-chai butterflies

The black tea in the chai tea bags gives this a slight bitter taste that contrasts delightfully with the sweetness of the buttercream. I love the spiciness of these and the smoothness of whipped buttercream; now, if only I can fly to Aus to have another of those amazing soy chais so with this cupcake...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Super simple pumpkin soup with cranberry sauce

Breakfast: Apple-soaked oatmeal with dates and blueberries

Lunch: Cous cous, spinach and black bean salad

Dinner: Vegan pate (thanks Hilary!), bhajis, super simple pumpkin soup with cranberry sauce and vegan cornbread with home made jam

We've has such a strange winter in Toronto; the other day it was +7, which is generally a temperature we don't see from December through to March. However, I woke up today to see a winter wonderland outside - real snow on the ground and a snap in the air. Now THIS is winter!

One of the best meals in any cold period is a simple vegetable soup. I'm all for curried parsnip and apple, and even the occasional daal, but a super simple soup lets the beautiful flavours of the food come through in full force and there's nothing better when you're cold, damp and sneezing all over the place.

This is cheap, easy and fun to make, and the cranberry sauce plays against the taste of the pumpkin gorgeously.

You'll need:
(Feeds 4)
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic
8-10 cups pumpkin, chopped
6-7 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp cranberry sauce
olive oil

Heat the oil in a pan, and throw in the onion and the garlic
Cook until the onions turn translucent then throw in the pumpkin
Cook for 10 minutes then add in the veg stock
Put the lid on and cook for 20 minutes
Allow to cool, then blend to a smooth consistency
Serve with 1/2 tsp cranberry sauce and enjoy!

Pumpkin is a good choice for a winter soup as it contains Vitamins A and C which could help keep you from getting that dreaded lurgy, and potassium, magnesium, and fibre as well.

Plus, it tastes delicious!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Vegan garlic pitta breads

Breakfast: Wholewheat pancakes with sugar-free blueberry sauce

Lunch: "Cream of" leek and potato soup with garlic pitta breads

Dinner: Miso noodle soup with steamed veggies and quinoa

I've realised that when people come over to your house, the best things you can serve are a selection of tasty little foods that go well together rather than one giant meal. I realised this the other night, when my friend Hilary and I chomped down on pumpkin soup, chickpea bjahis, vegan pate, kale chips and wicked little tortilla chips then vegan gluten-free cornbread with home made quick jam, all while we were busy doing stuff and without my customary OHMYGODPEOPLEARECOMINGOVER 3-hour slog in the kitchen. It's perfect.

In order to arm you with the necessary tools to make this happen, then, I should give you some quick and easy recipes for tapas or side dishes that can be put together nicely.

These vegan garlic pittas are so easy to make that it amazes me that more people don't make them. My great friend Fatty (long story - but rest assured, she is in fact a gorgeously healthy person) used to make garlic bread and I learned from her while we were living together in uni. I started making it on the large pitta pockets they sell in Canada just because they look awesome when you cut them up into triangles - see above!

The key to a good garlic pitta is heaps of garlic and a good smattering of oregano, which in my experience brings all the flavours together in a delightful little way.

You'll need:
(Feeds 2-4 as a side)
2 large wholewheat / 7 grain pitta pockets
8 tbsps vegan margarine
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tbsp oregano (more if you prefer)
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Add the garlic and oregano to the vegan margarine, mixing well, then add black pepper to taste
Cut each of the pitta breads in half to make two large half-circle pockets, then divide the garlic butter between them, using a knife to spread it all over the inside of the pocket
Throw in the oven for about ten minutes, until the butter has melted and the pittas are browning
Remove from the oven, cut each pitta half into 3 triangles, and serve!

I absolutely love serving these with patatas bravas or any sort of bolognese, although they go well together with almost any soup and a lot of salads too. A good way to feed many when you're short on time!

And let's not forget that good quality garlic is incredibly good for you - win!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Protein and Omega-3 nutty seed mix

Breakfast: Granola with blueberry sauce

Lunch: Sweet potato and cranberry salad with cous cous

Dinner: Toasted tortillas, spicy beans and rice followed by the protein and omega-3 nutty seed mix

We all get cravings for snacks, especially in the winter time, and though some of us might reach for the first sugary thing we can lay our hands on, some of us prefer salty snacks.

I'm definitely a sweet tooth, but sometimes you just know when you've had too much brownie mix and should have something healthier.

Nuts and seeds are a vegan's best friend. They provide much-needed omega-3s, iron and proteins, as well as antioxidants and other fantastic goodies. They can also stave off cravings and stop you eating buttery popcorns or heaps of chocolate when you go to a movie.

This is one of my favourite combinations, as the sweetness of the raisins just sets the edge against the savoury taste. A great snack for any time!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2 as snacks)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup pepitas (raw, unshelled pumpkin seeds)
1 cup raisins

There is no method. Mix together, eat.

This combination brings you omega-3 fatty acids from the walnuts, protein, iron, zinc and potassium from the pepitas, and antioxidants, protein and fibre from the raisins. It's a veritable powerhouse of awesome stuff!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vegan coffee and ginger cupcakes with lemon drizzle frosting

Breakfast: A cacao, banana and blueberry smoothie

Lunch: Orzo salad with tofu followed by a vegan coffee and ginger cupcake with lemon drizzle

Dinner: Bean and balsamic vegetable fajitas with spicy kale chips

There's nothing I like more than a cake challenge, and thankfully, there is always potential for a new one just around the corner.

A coffee-passionate person in my life is about to have a birthday, and this got me thinking about the coffee cakes that my Gromma used to make when I was a kid. She used to have some sort of mad compulsion to make this and I remember we had to take home at least one a week lest some kind of famine strike the family. It was a fairly basic recipe, with instant coffee and a brown coffee frosting, and delicious though it was I wanted something a little more subtle for my friend's upcoming birthday.

I love the way that ginger brings a subtle heat and spiciness to recipes and, as it turns out, when this coffee and ginger combination is topped by a thin, lemony frosting drizzled on top, it reaches a whole other level of awesome.

Counter-intuitive though it may sound, you simply cannot use good coffee grounds in this. I tried using the fantastic Ugandan Peabody from Alternative Grounds on my second batch of these and there were literally inedible. Trust me; Maxwell House grounds or something along those lines is perfect; don't waste the good shiz.

You'll need:
(Makes 12 cupcakes)
1 cup almond milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 2 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tbsp cheap coffee grounds
1 tsp nutmeg
Lemon drizzle:
1 cup icing sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Pour the almond milk and vinegar together in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and nutmeg and stir well
Add the oil, coffee and grated ginger to the milk mix and stir well
Combine the flour mix and the milk mix and stir until just combined
Divide between 12 cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean
Set aside to cool
Combine the icing sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, then add enough water until it becomes the right consistency; watery but thick enough to leave a trail on the back of a spoon
Beat this well until it's totally smooth, then drizzle over the cooled cakes in the manner shown above. Don't be afraid to drizzle it all over the counter to get it perfect!

I took these to a few people to be taste-tested and they were all eaten within about 5 seconds of reaching their destination. The requests that I make more suggest that these are pretty good.

Remember: don't use good coffee!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bloomfield's Badass Foods: 5 Myths About Veganism

Ok, so we all know that the vegan diet has been much maligned throughout history, from its false association with limp-wristed, noodle-armed non-athletes throughout the 20th Century and the decrying of its cause by the food mainstream. As a child, if you saw a particularly wan, pale and skinny individual, you would remark to your friends, "Why, perchance that fellow has not had his quota of dead animal snacks today? Perhaps half a roast chicken would straighten him up and put a bit of colour in his hide!" I remember this really clearly when I was younger, with the older generation particularly distrustful of non-meat eaters but the younger generation rushed to try to keep up with this jaundiced viewpoint!

With this article I'm going to give you vegan types a chance to fight back against this misinformation and present an argument actually based on science! Logic won't always prevail against a particularly braying antagonist but gosh darn it, I'm going to see you go into battle armed with the most concise arguments against the five most common myths about veganism!

Let the wisdom commence!

Myth #1: "You don't get enough protein from plants and stuff!"

I need to take a deep breath with this one. A very common (and inane) argument that can be surprisingly hard to counter, this is definitely a myth. As I outlined in my previous post about proteins, the essential amino acids can be found in every plant, vegetable and fruit. You can get all of the essential ones easily as long as you have a varied diet of fruits and vegetables, as they will combine together to get you a more than ample amount. No special combinations are required either, as is often thought, so you don't need to fret about matching split peas with pumpkin seeds; just enjoy the food and keep it varied!

Myth #2: "But vegans are just sooooooo pale and skinny, they must not get enough fat!"

Ok, I could trot out some sort of testimonial from some amazing healthsome bodybuilding vegan who is rosy of cheek and packing some serious guns, but this is not necessary - there are plenty of those people out there! Vegan diets do tend to be lower in fat than most conventional Western diets but this doesn't mean a lack of them; often vegans are eating higher quality fats and fats that are traditionally considered healthy (the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated ones). I will defend the often falsely maligned high quality saturated fats to my last breath, but it is true that most Westerners eat poor quality saturated fats from unhealthy animals and since an unhealthy animal stores its toxins and unwanted nasties in its fat, this can often be a problem for any of us higher up the food chain!

As a vegan, you will sidestep that whole issue and can instead focus on getting a healthy amount of fats from the other groups. Again, keep up variety and don't be afraid to chow on the fat. Fat will make you fit, not fat. (Ignore your common sense reading of that, as it will lead you in a completely wrong direction. Mine sounds crazier, but it is true!)

Myth #3: "You must get bored just eating carrots and green stuff?"

I am not vegan, as I have mentioned in previous posts. However, the above statement makes my blood boil so hot, I often want to beat the sayer of nonsense over the head with a half eaten swede and garrotte them with a shallot. Vegetables, fruit, herbs and the like are what give the best meals the most exquisite flavours. If you remove these from the equation, you are left with a poor quality meal that needs artificial flavourings and sugary, gloopy sauces to give it a vestige of flavour. Skip that glutinous, poisonous filth and just get the taste from veg! It really is that easy! The better quality the produce, the stronger and more varied the tastes, and the influence it can have over your food. Trust me; organic garlic, onions and ginger pretty much makes a delicious aromatic dish on its own before you even add anything else!

It is true that vegans will drop whole food categories from their diet but what you might lack in categories, you can make up for in a greater exploration of the ones you have. Try new veg and fruit, explore new herbs and try out alternatives to dairy and meat products. Some of them might taste bland (as any foods can) but most are delicious, as my girlfriend and I found with a batch of dairy-free ice cream we bought. I was a bit sceptical, being an ice cream fiend, but my stomach and brain were completely won over - truly delicious! Keep on experimenting and just try to emphasize the variety aspect when you meet with a doofus!

Myth # 4: "Don't vegans need a vitamin supplement? B12 or something? Humans aren't meant to live like that!"
Sigh. Again, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing! People often think that because vitamin B12 is necessary for optimum human health and that vegans often need to supplement their diets with B12, that somehow this makes a vegan diet completely unnatural and unholy. This is straight up, grade-A hypocrisy! The $25 billion industry for supplements in the United States ALONE suggests that vitamin B12 isn't the only that this is being missed form our modern diets, and that it isn't just vegans buying them (unless they are really big spenders!). A large number of people supplement their diets, especially with Vitamin C (bizarrely, since fruits and vegetables are so widely available) and Vitamin D (understandably, as we have moved away from the equatorial regions that gave us enough sunlight to absorb ample amounts of it). We may as well claim it is unnatural to move away from our species starting point in Africa!

Myth #5: "Doesn't it hurt when you first become a vegan? I heard you get totally sick!"

There is no need for someone to become ill when they transition from carnivore or veggie to full of vegan. The common logic goes that when you change, you are detoxing, releasing loads of toxins that have accumulated for years in your systems and you get a kind of cumulative thrashing as your body tries to sort itself out.

This isn't true.

There is no such thing as a "detox diet". This was invented by marketing men to sell you new things.

Long term healthy eating will help your system run at optimum efficiency, not a fad diet. Your body is full of super efficient organs that will help you out throughout and will work more efficiently as you release them from the strain of taking in poor quality food. You should feel perfectly fine and in fact, if the quality of the food you are eating improves, you should feel much better than you did previously! The old adage is true: you are what you eat, so if you want to feel clean, clear and fresh, start with some delicious high quality organic foods!

Of course, we could write an entire book on the benefits of a vegan diet (and people have; check out the groundbreaking China Study) but here are at least a few bits to help you out in an argument with a particularly ignorant slughead. Feel free to shout "TOUCHE!" as you use it and help stop the spread of misinformation! Go out into the world just a little better armed.

Happy eating!

David Bloomfield

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sugar-free apple and berry breakfast crumble

Breakfast: Sugar-free apple and berry breakfast crumble with a cup of chai tea

Lunch: A quinoa, roasted beet, avocado and spinach salad

Dinner: A mixed veggie stir fry on soba noodles and a vegan coffee and ginger cupcake with lemon frosting

Now, I've had an obsession with crumble since I was a child. If it wasn't the first thing I learned to make, then it was the first important thing I learned to make, and eating it was a regular occurrence; apple crumble every time the apples came off the tree, every time we had a Sunday roast and pretty much every time one of us felt like it and the cake tin was nearly empty. Lovely stuff.

Unfortunately this crumble-heavy diet is unsustainable. For a start, I don't live in Rawmarsh any more and keeping that many apples in the house at all times would probably triple my grocery budget. No, no; these days, crumbles are strictly for treats...

...until now.

Spurred on by the success of healthy quinoa breakfast cake a few weeks ago, I set about this week creating a fat- and sugar-free apple and berry crumble that would actually be nutritionally beneficial to me, meaning I could eat it in the mornings, guilt-free. And I succeeded.

You'll need:
(Feeds 4 for a small breakfast or 2 hungry people)
3 cups diced apple
1 cup water
1 cup blueberries
1 cup dates, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup wholewheat flour
2 tbsp ground flax
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Place the apples and 1 cup water together in a pan and bring to the boil
Lower down to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, until all the water is gone and it resembles apple sauce
While the apples are cooking, place the dates, 1/2 cup water and vanilla essence in another pan and heat for 5-8 minutes
Blend the date mix together into a paste
Remove both pans from the heat and stir the blueberries into the apple sauce
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the chopped walnuts, ground flax, cinnamon and oats
Add the date paste to the mixing bowl and, using the rubbing method, combine it with the dry ingredients until it looks like - well, a crumble topping!
Pour the fruit mix into a ovenproof dish and top with the crumble
Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the top is browning

The great thing about this dish is that you can prepare it the night before and just cook in the oven in the morning - or reheat the leftovers the next day!

Both the flax and the walnuts in this dish bring a good amount of vegan-friendly omega 3s fatty acids to the table, but even better are the oats. As well as being a great source of slow-release energy and helping to regulate the blood sugar of diabetics, oats are actually a good source of protein. Oat protein is considered to be almost equivalent to milk, egg or meat protein, and, along with all the other goodness in this meal, sets you up for a brilliant day!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sandwich week day 5: Roasted beet, caramelised onion and wilted spinach

Breakfast: French Vanilla granola with blueberries

Lunch: Roasted beet, caramelised onion and wilted spinach sandwich

Dinner: Vegan tacos with chickpea and bean salad

My beetroot renaissance has been in full swing for 2 or 3 years now. I only ever used to eat the things pickled when I was younger, but a great recipe for beet soup changed that, and now I can't get enough of them. I've baked them into cakes, made salads out of them and even put them in smoothies - and every single time, it works out fantastically.

The caramelised onions here (made without any additional sugar) bring a great and subtle flavour to the whole proceedings - I always find that onion, beets and tomatoes go together really well. This is a great lunch snack as it's packed full of goodness and feels hearty enough to get you through the day!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
2 large slices good quality wholewheat bread
2 medium beets
1 large onion, chopped
2 handfuls fresh spinach
a little oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Roughly slice the beet into thick slices, with the skin on, and drizzle with a little oil
Roast for 20-30 minutes then remove
While this is happening, fry the onions in a little oil on a medium heat
When the onions start to dry out, add water to the pan
Keep doing this until the natural sugars come out and the onions begin to caramelise
Remove onions from the pan and toss in the fresh spinach
Dry fry for 2-3 minutes until just wilted
Remove from the heat
Remove the skin from the cooled beet slices
Assemble sandwich like this: bread slice, beets, onions, spinach, bread

There's no need for spreads here, as the sandwich contents are so moist, but if you like, you can add a thin layer of salsa or tomato paste. Trust me, they work!

Beets, as I've said before, are a vegan superfood, and spinach is always a good thing to bring to your diet regularly as it contains spinach and other goodies. This might just be the healthiest sandwich we've had all week!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sandwich week day 4: The Gourmet Chip Butty

Breakfast: Molasses pancakes with blueberry sauce

Lunch: California salad with fruit

Dinner: The Gourmet Chip Butty with salad

Some people think that the quintessential British meal is the roast dinner. Some people think it's a curry, or even high tea. They're all wrong; it's a chip butty.

Just to clarify: "butty" is a shortened form of "...and butter sandwich", so this is buttered sandwich made from "fries". I know this can be a confusing concept to those outside the UK.

You'll be hard pressed to find a British person under 40 who hasn't enjoyed a horribly fattening chip butty at 2.30am some rainy morning when they've just poured themselves out of a drinking establishment. Not only are they phenomenally tasty when done right, they're also a good idea: chip butties help avoid hangovers, as both the chips and the bread soak up the alcohol in your stomach. Ask any British person. There may be no evidence for it but it is scientific fact.

The only problem is that they're also horribly unhealthy for you, as the chips are deep fried in fat, and they're also not vegan, as the bread is always buttered.

Thankfully, this recipe is a little healthier and inclusive; the potatoes are wedges rather than thin, fat-heavy chips, they're baked, the butter is soy, and the bread is good-quality wholewheat rather than crappy white non-bread. And it's still as tasty as the artery-clogging version.

You could call this a gourmet butty - in fact, I will.

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
4 slices good quality wholewheat bread
12-14 baby potatoes
soy butter / vegan margarine
olive oil
good quality BBQ sauce / ketchup
eggplant spread or similar

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Leave the skin on the potatoes and chop them in half longways
Cut each half into 3 wedges
Take a ziplock bag and fill it with wedges
Drizzle olive oil into the bag along with salt and pepper and close it, squishing the bag so the wedges end up covered
Repeat until all wedges are done then place into the oven
Bake for 20-30 minutes until crispy
Spread a thin layer of soy butter / vegan margarine on one side of all the bread slices
Spread a thin layer of eggplant spread (or whatever you're using) on 2 of those slices, on top of the butter / margarine
Place the slices with the spread on the plate and top with half of the wedges, allowing some to spill out onto the plate
Drizzle the BBQ / ketchup on top of the fries, then top each butty with the final slice

Now, this brings up a whole other debate: should one squish the sandwich before attempting to eat or should one struggle with the enormity of the thing with no help? Personally, I'm a squisher.

Disclaimer: this is not something you want to eat every day. However, a little bit of what you want does you good, and this is infinitely less bad for you than your standard chip shop butty...and don't get me wrong. This tastes amazing. Just not every day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sandwich week day 3: Chunky hummus and grilled zucchini

Breakfast: Apple and blueberry "crumble"

Lunch: Chunky hummus and grilled zucchini sandwich with gazpacho soup

Dinner: Vegetable noodle soup and kale

I first had a chunky hummus sandwich at the phenomenal Tea Tree cafe on the Danforth. I'd never before thought of hummus as more than a spread, much like butter or pesto, but the idea of layering it on thick and making it the main feature sat really well with me.

With only 2 main ingredients this is a very simple sandwich, perfect for putting together for a lunch when you've pressed the "snooze" button 4 or 5 times too many and you're rushing out the door. It's also damn delicious.

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
4 thick slices wholemeal bread
2 small zucchini, slices longways
6 tbsp chunky hummus, store bought or made according to this recipe
a little oil
black pepper
a little soy butter / vegan margarine if you like

Grill the zucchini slices with a little oil for 5-8 minutes
Assemble the sandwiches like this: bottom layer of bread, soy butter / vegan margarine if using, 3 tbsp chunky hummus per sandwich, black pepper, half the zucchini per sandwich, another layer of soy butter / margarine if using, top layer of bread
Squish down a little and enjoy!

Hummus is a great thing for vegetarians to eat, as its not only rich in Vitamin C and fibre but is a great source of iron, which vegetarians can become deficient in. Zucchini is rich in potassium and Vitamin A, making this a very decent sandwich to have, even if it can be ready in under 10 minutes!

Fun fact: when hummus is eaten with bread, it serves as a whole protein - so this is actually a great post-workout snack!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sandwich week day 2: Baked eggplant, tomato and avocado

Breakfast: Scrambled tofu with asparagus

Lunch: Baked eggplant, tomato and avocado sandwiches with cream of leek and potato soup

Dinner: Veggie pasta with marinated artichoke hearts and peas

For a lot of people, making vegetarian or vegan sandwiches is more difficult than it might be, because they were brought up, as I was, eating ham sandwiches or those made from leftover turkey breast. It makes you think that only things meaty can be put between bread.

Of course, even when we realise this isn't true, a purely salad-y sandwich can still feel a little lacking to some. And therein lies the beauty of this sandwich: the thick slices of baked eggplant are dense enough to feel a little like meat slices without being dead animal. Hooray!

The key to taking this sandwich into the stratosphere is to get some great vegan pesto. I was lucky enough to find some vegan kale and oregano pesto the day I made this, and I can't even begin to describe how good it was. This vegan mint pesto could also be fantastic!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
4 thick slices wholemeal bread
1/2 a large eggplant, cut into 4 slices
1 large tomato, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
good quality vegan pesto
black pepper
a little oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Arrange the eggplant slices on a baking tray and drizzle with a little oil
Place into the oven for 20 minutes, flipping the slices half way
After 20 minutes, remove from the oven
Assemble the sandwiches like this: bottom slice, layer of pesto, eggplant slices, tomato slices, avocado slices, black pepper, layer of pesto, top slice
Cut in half and serve with a green salad, or wrap in foil and take for lunch

Eggplants (or aubergines, if you're British) are rich in potassium and can help lower high blood cholesterol. Combine this with the B-vitamins in avocado and the antioxidants of tomato, and you've got yourself a nutritionally dense sandwich that will leave you feeling great as well as full!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sandwich week day 1: The Vegan Sloppy Joe

Breakfast: A vanilla oatmeal protein smoothie

Lunch: Veggie chili with brown rice

Dinner: The Vegan Sloppy Joe with salad

I recently had a request from a reader to post a couple of good sandwich recipes, and it got me thinking; how could I have neglected such a typical part of a British / North American diet for almost a year? I am shamed - shamed into doing an entire week of great sandwiches!

Of course, being English and all I should technically be starting with something classic of the Isles, but instead I'm going to go all American on you.

Although a sandwich is typically thought of as an easy lunch option, there are certain types that can (and should) be used as dinner. The Sloppy Joe is one of these.

A very popular American dish, the Sloppy Joe isn't exactly gourmet, but it is great comfort food and warms up those cold winter nights when you need something tasty!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
1 cup TVP
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 orange pepper, diced
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp hot sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 large ciabatta buns or breadcakes*, sliced in half
a little oil

Put the TVP in a bowl with a little less than 1 cup water and let it rest for 5 minutes
Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil until the onion is browning
Throw in the pepper and fry for 5 minutes
Add in the TVP, tomatoes, oregano, hot sauce, balsamic vinegar and tomato puree
Allow to cook for 10-15 minutes, or until it has reduced into a very thick sauce
Serve on ciabatta buns / breadcakes / whatever you call them and enjoy!

The texture of TVP is the closest thing to ground beef you can get as a vegetarian, so those of you who sometimes crave meat might find this a nice little treat when you're feeling a bit meaty. It's ok, I won't tell anyone.

*I am from Yorkshire, so I call it a breadcake. If you're in another part of the UK you might call it a barm, muffin, bread roll or bap. In America, you might call it a burger bun or a hamburger bun. In the rest of the world, I've no idea. Hopefully you know what I'm getting at though.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bloomfield's Badass Foods: The Truth About Protein

Hello all! I hope you all have your wisdom brains on this week, as today I'm delving into the often dark and murky world of protein! This is to help clear up some of the inconsistencies that crop up so often when people discuss protein, without people either not knowing exactly what roles protein fulfil, how much you should have, how much is dangerous or when to eat protein after exercise, for example.

I'm hoping to answer all of these questions today, although its worth checking out my last blog post for a discussion of the best protein for after exercise and when to have them!

Ok, so let's clarify what protein actually IS before we start!

Protein is the main building block of the body, making up about 25% of the body's total mass. The name is derived from the ancient Greek word "protos", meaning "first", because it was considered the first building block of the body for many years.

Proteins have many super essential jobs in the body, including repair of tissues, movement of muscles, antibody creation, enzyme creation, hormones, creation of tissues both soft and connective and innumerable others. You wouldn't be here without protein and without a constant and good quality supply of it, there wouldn't be much left of you; just a ragtag assembly of floppy fats, gallons of spilled water and disorganised carbohydrates!

There are two different groups of proteins; essential and non-essential amino acids. This is also our first confusing concept, as people often see adverts mentioning amino acids and think these are wholly different things. Amino acids are simply another name for proteins, just put in there to make advertising guys seem like superscience buffs!

Anyway, there are 8* essential amino acids and 12 non-essential ones. The human body cannot create the 8 essential ones on its own; you need to get these from your diet. However, the other 12 non-essential ones CAN be create by your body as long as it has ample supplies of the 8 essential aminos and is working relatively well. A protein source that contains all of the essential amino acids is called a complete protein.

There are often debates about how to get these proteins successfully; some meat eaters say that a true protein balance can only be achieved by eating meat, whilst others argue that you can get all 20 from vegan sources entirely. What certainly is true is that almost all foods have proteins in them, just in differing amounts. Some have such small amounts that they are virtually insignificant, whilst others have excessive amounts of one or more. My own personal belief is that is harder to get the full range from vegetarian sources, but still possible. It involves being more selective and aware with your choice of foods and combining foods together, such as eating Brazil nuts and pinto beans in the same day to encourage a greater release of different kinds of proteins. Vegetarian options that are available as are counted as whole proteins include spirulina, hemp seed, amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa.

We often hear despairing news about excessive protein intake leading to terrifying sounding conditions such as colon cancer, heart disease, poorly kidneys, high body acid levels and poor bone health! This is typical Daily Mail-esque scare mongering and makes people a bit nervous about over-eating when it comes to protein.

The reason these links have been made is that often, a diet high in protein (especially for the carnivorous amongst us) can be very low in fruit and vegetables and therefore the vitamins and minerals that come along with them naturally. Instead of suffering from excessive protein intake (which is near impossible to do), they are suffering from poor nutrition in other areas, being malnourished when it comes to other essential dietary needs. The big thing to remember, especially for those involve din sports or physical training, is that your body needs lots of protein but that this will be ineffective without vitamins, minerals, essentials fats and other things to help digest, synthesise and funnel protein correctly. To avoid any problems here, eat the right amount of protein AND a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, nuts and other goodies.

I would say that for your average Joe, this calculator is quite useful for working out a base amounts of protein per day. It allows for several different types of body size, lifestyle and other factors and gives a good minimum value of protein. Ultimately, you need to try out the amount of protein you are taking in and see if it is right for you. If you feel you have too much and are feeling sluggish, tired and find it hard to "go", you might be eating too much. It could of course be that you are not eating enough fruit and veg, as mentioned above!

A more common problem is a lack of all the proteins. One way to see if you are protein deficient is to check against these potential mental risks of protein deficiency:

- Depression / anxiety
- Apathy
- Irritability, intolerance and / or moodiness
- Decrease in mental alertness, comprehension and concentration
- Thoughts focussed on eating, weight and hunger
- Self-absorption, decrease in wider interests
- Pre-occupation with your own body and heightened judgement of others

Having one or more of these does not necessarily mean that you do suffer from protein deficiency but it might be an indicator. Getting a serum alubumin diagnostic test performed by your physician is the ultimate indicator and is the most trustworthy way to tell if this is the case or not.

I hope this has been useful for you and that is solves any difficult issues that you might have had. Please feel free to comment below and ask any questions, and I will get back to you! The more controversial, the better!

Happy eating!


*Some sources say that there are 9 essential amino acids, but the WHO (World Health Organisation) usually lists it is 8, so we will go with the slightly less controversial one for now.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Vegan high tea: scones with quick jam and vegan "cream"

Breakfast: Rice and spicy beans

Lunch: Vegan high tea: scones with quick jam and vegan cream

Dinner: Lentil and bean cottage pie followed by a brownie

I should probably admit to something here: my name is Heather, and I am a high tea addict.

Afternoon tea, high tea, British tea - call it what you will, I love it. Whenever I go back home I make sure I have it at least once, preferably at Betty's in York, but in a pinch, anywhere.

There's just something so awesome about that proper cup of tea with the mini sandwiches - also everyone's favourite part is the scones, lovingly topped with jam and clotted cream.

Obviously, going vegan has all but taken this pleasure away from me. I have absolutely no idea why there is nowhere offering real vegan high tea in Toronto. I've heard that the Ritz in London does it, but quite frankly that's a little too expensive for a Sunday jaunt when you factor in the airfare.

Finally, yesterday, I cracked it. Vegan cream is never going to be real Cornish clotted cream, but this is a gorgeous, delicious combination that is more than good enough for me!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)

Scones made according to this recipe, substituting the cherries out for raisins. I like to make some in the week and then just have them handy for Sunday, just in case

For the quick jam:
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/3 cup unsweetened apple juice

Blend everything together, then simmer over a medium heat, stirring often
Remove from the heat after about 10 minutes, when it has almost reached a jam-like texture
Allow to cool - it will thicken up here too

For the cream:
1 cup firm tofu
3/4 cup icing sugar
2-3 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp vanilla

Blend all together, adding more icing sugar to reach the desired consistency

To serve:
Allow 2 scones for every plate, and either serve with a ramekin each of cream and jam or drizzle both over the top, as in the photo
Don't forget the tea! Serve in a teapot if you have one for maximum quaint feeling

It's taking all my effort to not have this again today, especially as there is 1 scones and some cream left over. Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt, would it?

Making the scones,...

...eating the scones!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ochazuke: rice patties in a green tea broth

Breakfast: A blackberry vega smoothie

Lunch: California salad

Dinner: Ochazuke: rice patties in a green tea broth

It's not often that you can eat out for $4 in these days, but there is, in fact, one place left in the world where you can get a fantastic, filling meal for under a fiver.


This Japanese eatery near OCAD in Toronto is a new favourite of mine, and serves this rice and green tea dish for $3.99. Ochazuke actually refers to any dish with rice and green tea, though a variety of toppings can be added. Manpuku shape their rice patties into triangles and fry them, as I did here, but if you're looking for a slightly easy meal you can forego this step.

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
1 1/2 cups sushi rice
2 cups water
2 spring onions, thinly chopped
1 cup mushrooms, thinly chopped
1/2 a sheet of nori, sliced thinly
sesame oil
strong sencha green tea
black sesame seeds
chili powder

Bring the sushi rice to the boil in the water, then cover and reduce to a simmer until fully cooked
Allow to cool with the lid still on. The rice should be a little moist rather than dry
Fry the mushrooms in a very small amount of sesame oil for 4 minutes then set aside
Voluntary: Divide the cooked rice into 4 sections and place each section onto a piece of cling film / Saran Wrap
Voluntary: Compact each portion of rice into a tight triangle using the cling film, pressing together as much as possible
Voluntary: Fry a little more seasame oil in the frying pan, heat on high then toss each rice triangle in, browning on each side quickly before placing into a bowl
Cover the rice with the sencha green tea then top with the mushrooms, shredded nori and sesame seeds
Top with a pinch of chili powder and serve, topping up with green tea as necessary

This is a surprisingly satisfying meal that leaves you filled up with a nice balance of taste. Frying the rice takes a little time to perfect, but even without frying this meal is impressive enough to serve to friends and seriously delicious. Give it a try!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marinated spicy tofu and spinach salad

Breakfast: The largest fruit and granola smoothie known to man

Lunch: Marinated spicy tofu and spinach salad

Dinner: Garlic pita pockets, Russian vinaigrette and spinach and avocado salad, courtesy of Putin

One of the best ideas when you're having people over is to make a few little dishes that compliment each other nicely. This is a great choice for that kind of occasion, and also makes a great little lunch or side dish for dinner, too.

It's stupidly simple to make and full of flavour; just leave the tofu to soak while you make the rest of your meal then fry it up at the end. Easy!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
250 grams firm tofu
2-3 small red chilis, chopped finely
4 tbsp soy sauce
juice of 1 1/2 limes
3 cups fresh spinach
2 large tomatoes
a little oil

Stir together the soy sauce, lime juice and chilis
Place the tofu in a shallow bowl and pour the soy sauce mixture over the top
Allow to marinade for at least one hour, more if possible
After the marinading time has passed, slice the tomatoes and chop the tofu into cubes between 1 inch square and 3/4 inch square
Heat a little oil in a frying pan and toss in the tofu pieces when hot
Allow to brown gently, flipping regularly so both sides cook, then pour in the rest of the marinade
Allow the marinade to mostly reduce then remove the tofu from the pan
Throw the spinach into the pan quickly and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted
Serve spinach with tomato slices on top, topped off with the tofu
Pour any remaining marinade over the whole lot

The ingredients in this dish play gorgeously off against each other despite being simple. This is a great little dish for a summer lunch!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vegan chocolate pomegranate cookies

Breakfast: Fruit tortilla wrap

Lunch: Vegan black bean chili with crusty bread and vegan chocolate pomegranate cookies

Dinner: Vegetable sushi

One of my newest obsessions in pomegranate. It started when Putin started bringing home bottles of Pom, a drink so wonderful and good for you that it's almost bitter. Then I started buying actual pomegranates, and got the art of removing the arils down to a tee. And it is an art, unless you want to hack away at the flesh and get covered in red splatters (which sounds much more morbid than I meant it to).

That fancy word there - arils - refers to the seed-like bits of the pomegranate that are bright red. The seed actually lives within these arils. They contain large amounts of vitamin C, like any good fruit does.

A bit of basic flavour pairing led me to believe that pomegranate would go really nicely with chocolate, and in this recipe it really did! The pomegranate is not the dominant taste, but instead compliments the chocolate taste - much as in this recipe for beet and chocolate cupcakes. These are really easy to make and are a tasty little change from chocolate chip cookies

You'll need:
(Makes 12-14 cookies)
1 cup wholewheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa (make sure its vegan)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a baking tray
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, cocoa, baking soda and brown sugar
In a separate bowl stir together the baking powder, water and canola oil until it becomes gelatinous. This will act as an egg replacer
Stir the molasses, vanilla extract and the margarine into the baking powder mixture and combine with the flour mixture
Stir in the pomegranate seeds until just combined and roll the mixture into 12 or 14 balls
Place them onto the baking tray and press down on each one a little
Bake for 10-12 minutes
Allow to cool on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes then enjoy!

Top tip: when you're removing the arils from the pomegranate flesh, do this over a cup to catch all the juice that falls. Stir this juice into the mixture for an extra little kick of flavour.

If you're trying to be a bit more fancy than normal, these are a nice treat to serve up to guests or even take to the office.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Breakfast week day 5: Vegan sugar-free pomegranate pancakes

Breakfast: Vegan sugar-free pomegranate pancakes 

Lunch: Vegan 3-bean and lentil chili

Dinner: Soba noodle stir fry

It's not often that you'll find me eating American-style pancakes. Living in hostels for 2 weeks when I first moved to Canada and being forced to take advantage of their "free pancake breakfast" everyday means that for me, pancakes are equated with sharing bad rooms with weird strangers and ballooning to an ungodly weight.

I am getting over that, though, and sometimes on a Friday morning, comfort foods are needed.

These pancakes are a far cry from those too-white monstrosities I endured back in 2008. Wholewheat flour and molasses instead of sugar gives these a very hearty, feel-good taste and texture, while the pomegranate arils bring a ton of vitamin C and a fruity flavour. This recipe might just bring my love of pancakes back to life.

You'll need:
(Makes 4 pancakes)
1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup soy milk / almond milk + 2 tbsp
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp canola oil
4 tbsp pomegranate arils

Sift together the flour and baking powder
In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, molasses, vanilla extract, canola oil and pomegranate arils
Mix the two bowls together, adding more milk to get the right consistency. It should not be too runny
Wipe a frying pan with an oiled piece of kitchen roll and set over a medium heat
Once the pan in hot, ladle 1/4 of the mixture into the centre of the pan
Cook for 2 minutes, then flip
Cook for 2 more minutes, serve, and repeat the process

If you boil down 1/2 cup of pomegranate arils and 1/2 cup blueberries with 1/4 cup water you'll have a gritty, delicious sauce to go on top of these, and you'll go off to work with a spring in your step - and no nasty processed sugars in your system!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Breakfast week day 4: Kash Browns: Hash browns made with kasha

Breakfast: Kash Browns with avocado and beans

Lunch: Vegetable noodle soup

Dinner: Chili with spinach and parsnip mash

Some mornings, you just need potatoes.

Maybe you did a crazy long run yesterday and are craving something starchy. Maybe the layers on snow outside your door are making you hanker for something comforting. Maybe you've got a raging hangover and it's the only thing that will satiate you. Whatever; we're not judging!

There are healthier ways to eat potatoes, and there are less healthy ways.

This recipe only lightly fries the potatoes rather than deep frying, and adds kasha in there too- which helps control blod sugar, fends off heart disease and provides a god amount of fibre. I guess you could say we're practising harm reduction here, rather than getting rid of those fried potatoes altogether!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
1 cup shredded / grated white potato
1 cup cooked kasha
2 tsp tahini
soy sauce
good-quality oil

Heat a small amount of good quality oil in a pan, and lightly fry the shredded potato over a medium heat until a little browned
Combine with the cooked kasha in a mixing bowl and stir in 2 tsp tahini and a splash of soy sauce
Shape into 4-6 patties and squeeze mixture together as much as possible
Heat a little more oil in the frying pan
When medium hot, toss in the kash browns and cook on one side
Allow them to brown on one side, then flip over gently to cook on the other side
When browned on this side too, serve immediately

Served with avocado and home-made baked beans, this will satiate your "greasy breakfast" desires without actually being greasy at all. Avocado and kidney beans are great for any vegetarian, and with enough goodness in there we can overlook your desperate need for fried things. Moderation in everything - including moderation!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Breakfast week day 3: Baked apple and walnut porridge

Breakfast: Baked apple and walnut porridge

Lunch: Moroccan cauliflower and green pepper curry over quinoa and brown rice

Dinner: Barley and vegetable soup

Porridge, or oatmeal if you're of the North American persuasion, is a very traditional Scottish breakfast and, it's widely agreed, is one of the best possible breakfasts that a person can have. People who eat porridge regularly get tons of good fibre, stay "regular" and are a lot less likely to suffer from heart disease. It's also great for diabetics, as it avoids sharp rises in blood sugar level, and it gives you heaps and heaps of delicious energy to get you through the day!

The only bad thing about porridge is that if you have it just with milk or even water, it tends to get very boring very quickly. Thankfully it is also ridiculously versatile, and with a smattering of spice and fruits takes on a life of its own!

Baking this porridge after pre-cooking for a couple of minutes gives it a whole new texture and helps to bring out the flavour of the apple juice it was soaked in. It's a revelation!

You'll need:
(Feeds 2)
2 cups oats
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups almond milk / milk of your choice
2 tsp brown sugar (optional)

Soak the oats in the apple juice for at least one hour - overnight is preferable if you're that organised!
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius
Mix together the soaked oats, cinnamon and milk and heat on medium for 2-3 minutes
Remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts
Transfer to an oven-proof dish, and if using, sprinkle the brown sugar on top
Bake for 20 minutes, and if you sugared the top, transfer to the grill for 2 minutes at the end to harden up the topping

The walnuts in this dish bring a decent amount of protein as well as a very unusual type of vitamin E and  an absolute truckload of those elusive omega-3 fatty acids. It also acts as a nice pick me up on these freezing cold mornings!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Breakfast week day 2: Couscous with banana and a quick sugar-free berry compote

Breakfast: Couscous with sliced banana and a quick berry compote

Lunch: Leek and potato soup with hummus and bread

Dinner: A quinoa and veggie stir fry

I attribute my love of couscous for breakfast totally to Martini in Sydney, one of the best brunch places in the city and the only one to have wise-cracking servers that I absolutely loved. There, they serve couscous with yogurt and a rhubarb compote, and the first time I had this in my pre-vegan days, it blew me away.

Nowadays, of course, I do not eat yogurt and my only experience with soy yogurt - a warm, sloppy bowl of horribleness that formed the only blip on the otherwise fantastic gastronomic Glastonbury festival experience - has led me to sort of hate it.

So, what to use instead?

Banana of course!

As I'm making a concerted effort to reduce the amount of sugar I use, in my breakfast foods especially, I made this super-quick compote sugar-free, using only the sweetness of the berries and a little apple juice to brighten the meal right up. I also don't like to spend too much time in the morning cooking, as I am a bit of a lie-in person, so this whole breakfast can be made in just over ten minutes. Hooray!

You'll need:
Feeds 2:
1 banana, sliced
1 cup couscous
1 cup blueberries
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup unsweetened apple juice

Place the blueberries, cranberries and apple juice in a blender and blend to a fairly smooth consistency
Place in a pan and heat on medium high for 10 minutes, until it has reduced to a compote-like texture
In the mean time, place the couscous in a bowl with just enough boiling water to cover it, cover with a tea towel and wait for 5 minutes,
Stir the couscous, divide between 2 bowls, then top with the banana and the compote
Voila! A fantastic breakfast!

I honestly can't tell you how much I love this meal. It's a great pick-me-up in the morning too, as couscous contains more protein than pasta, has a better vitamin set, and is in fact one of the healthiest grains you can eat. Plus the compote is super super tasty!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Breakfast week day 1: Breakfast cake: Sugar-free vegan quinoa and cornmeal berry cake

Breakfast: Breakfast cake: quinoa and cornmeal berry cake with a blueberry reduction

Lunch: Orzo salad with veggies

Dinner: Roasted beet, carrot, ginger and coconut milk soup

This week on the Everyday Veggie I'm going to be showing you some new and healthy breakfast ideas! It's very easy to get stuck in a rut but this isn't a particularly good idea - variety is not only the spice of life but it helps you to get all the different goodies you need over one week! We'll explore some new ideas this week as well as shaking up a couple of old classics.

This recipe was born of my desire to basically eat cake for breakfast. Now, we've all done it - whether it was birthday when we were 6 or a Boxing Day breakfast of leftover Christmas cake 3 weeks ago - but we all know that it generally isn't a good idea. Not only does it usually lead to snacking on sugary things all day long, but a sugar injection that extreme in the morning leaves your metabolism playing catch up all day. Not good.

This cake, however, is packed with healthy goodies. With no sugar, no eggs, no butter, margarine or oil and no frosting, this cake gets its hint of sweetness from unsweetened applesauce and berries, and is largely made up of that beautiful treat, quinoa. The resulting balance is somewhere between sweet and savoury, and when coupled with a simple blueberry reduction is the absolutely perfect meal to wake up to on a snowy Monday morning.

Set some time aside on Sunday night to make this and you'll be thanking yourself all week!

You'll need:
(Makes 1 cake)
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup ground flax
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius and grease a cake pan
Pour the almond milk and vinegar together in a bowl, stir, and set aside for 5 minutes
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl and stir in the ground flax and cornmeal
Add the applesauce to the almond milk mixture
Stir the almond milk mixture into the flour mixture
Gently stir in the quinoa, raspberries and blueberries til just combined, then pour into the cake pan
Bake for 75-90 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean - the insides should feel slightly undercooked when you remove it from the oven
Sit the cake and allow it to cool for 30 minutes. Remove it from the pan and put it straight in the fridge until needed. The insides will firm up when cooled and become the perfect consistency
Keep in the fridge and enjoy all week!

You can eat this cake hot or cold, though my preference is cold with a warm fruit sauce on it. The quinoa in this is so good for you that's its hard to overstate; not only is it a whole protein, but it also contains iron, magnesium and dietary fiber, all great for keeping you regular and at your best. This really is a "cake" that comes guilt-free!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Vegan potato and bean korma

Breakfast: Baked porridge

Lunch: Carrot and orange soup 

Dinner: Vegan potato and bean korma with chickpea pancakes

I don't know why I don't make curries more. I love them, they're great for you and they're relatively easy to make. I think it stems from not having enough spices in the cupboard normally, but this excuse has been removed since I spent $30 on cardamom pods and other goodies at the store last week. Hooray!

Usually Indian recipes tend to be vegetarian or vegan, or are at least easily adaptable. One thing that I've been craving lately is a korma, especially the ones from Manchester's infamous Curry Mile. As I can't really fly back for the weekend, I adapted this fantastic Madhur Jaffrey chicken korma recipe to be a little spicier and wholly vegan. You really cannot go wrong with Madhur Jaffrey recipes and I very much recommend you buy at least one of her books!

This, as ever, is even better the day after and can be easily frozen or kept in the fridge for up to a week.

You'll need:
(Feeds 4-6)
4 inch piece ginger, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
6 tbsp vegetable oil
5 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
10 cardamom pods
6 cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 800ml tin diced tomatoes
3 large potatoes / 10-12 new potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
3 cups green beans, chopped
1 cup coconut milk

Blend together the ginger and garlic with 3 tbsp water to form a smooth paste
Heat the oil in a pan for a minute, then throw in the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves and cumin seeds and sautee for 3 minutes
Add the onions, garlic-ginger paste, ground coriander, ground cumin and stir to coat
Add in the diced tomatoes, beans and potatoes, and bring to the boil
Lower down to a medium heat, cover, and cook for 15 minutes
When the potatoes are tender, add in the coconut milk, stir well and heat for another 8 minutes
Pick out the bay leaves and serve with rice, naan or chickpea pancakes

This is a great warming meal for a winter dinner time, and eating the leftovers for lunch the next day will give you enough energy to get through that Zumba class / yoga class / walk home you do before dinner. If you're English, it will probably make you a bit nostalgic for Brick Lane, but that can't be helped.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Carrot and orange soup

Breakfast: A vanilla Vega, banana, cacao, vanilla almond milk and peanut butter smoothie. Serious win

Lunch: Potato and bean korma

Dinner: Carrot and orange soup with crusty bread

We've recently come into about a ton of carrots. Not in anyone's will, that would be quite weird - someone just brought them over.

My first thought, of course, was "SOUP!", it being the perfect season for it, and I set about making the standard carrot and coriander. Then a thought struck me: it doesn't have to be this way.

I came up with 2 awesome new recipes last night, and this was easily my favourite. The lovely zinginess of the orange sets the carrots off beautifully, leaving a soup that you can inhale in about a second. It's ridiculously simply to make, too, and is lovely when garnished with a little coriander. It has also taken the award for My Favourite Soup, hands down.

You'll need:
(Feeds 4)
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cups veg stock
1 large onion
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice (about 3 large oranges' worth)
the juice of 1/2 a lime
a little oil
coriander to serve

Fry the onion in a little oil until translucent
Add the carrots to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes
Add the stock, turmeric, coriander and orange juice to the pan, cover, and cook for a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring regularly
Remove the pan from the heat
Allow to cool for a few minutes then blend (a hand blender is easiest) to a smooth consistency
Stir in the lime juice and either divide into storage containers for the fridge / freezer or place back into the pan for reheating
Reheat a little and serve immediately, or keep in the fridge for up to a week (will freeze for up to a year)

Carrots, as everyone knows, contain the wonderful beta-carotene, which becomes vitamin A when inside our bodies, as well as antioxidants. Oranges contain vitamin C, so when combined, this soup becomes a powerful tool for keeping winter sickness at bay as well as for keeping a bland soup routine interesting!

Carrots, unfortunately, will not help you to see in the dark. This legend arose due to the ability of British gunners to shoot down German planes in the dead of night. Although in reality this was due to sophisticated radar technologies and red light, the British didn't want the Germans knowing this and so circulated the rumour that the mass amount of carrots eaten by the British military allowed them to see in the dark. It's very likely that the British preoccupation with carrots and their ability to "improve sight" was the only good thing to come out of WWII.

Vegan peanut and almond butter cups

Breakfast: A Vega, banana and blackberry smoothie

Lunch: Vegan potato and green been korma

Dinner: The tastiest falafel I've ever had followed by a few vegan peanut and almond butter cups

I could have called these faux-Reese's Pieces, but that might imply that these are in some way substandard, and they are most definitely not.

If you're North American, peanut butter cups were probably a large part of your childhood. I never really understood the joy of peanut butter until I moved to Canada and had the 100% peanut stuff. Now, as a vegan, peanut and almond butters have an important place in my diet and I can do almost anything with them - we're talking pasta dishes, frosting, you name it!

I was heading to a work function with Putin last week and needed something treatsy to take with me, and so these were born. I'd never made them before and the whole thing, including freezing, took me an hour and a half - most of it waiting, during which I had time to watch Peep Show and get ready. I decided to make half of them peanut butter and half almond butter, and the almond butter ones went down a real treat. Don't be afraid to mix things up a little!

These are seriously simple and fairly cheap to make, and also look pretty enough to impress guests or friends! They also appeal to everyone's inner 7 year old too, so make sure you make enough to satisfy everyone's cravings!

You'll need:
(Makes 12-16 large cups)
3 cups vegan chocolate chips
2 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine / Earth Balance
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 cup organic 100% peanut or almond butter, or 1/2 cup of each to make a mixed batch
a little oil

Grease a cupcake tray with a little oil, making sure you cover the whole inside of each cup
Melt half the chocolate chips in a double boiler - my preferred method is a ceramic bowl resting on top of 1/3 pan of water
Stir in 1 tbsp margarine / Earth balance and stir well
Divide between all the cupcake cups, just about covering the bottom of each one
Pop the pan into the freezer
In a separate bowl, cream together the nut butter and icing sugar. If making a mixed batch, mix half the icing sugar into the peanut butter and, in a different bowl, mix the rest with the almond butter
Roll the nut butter into as many little balls as you need to have one per cup, and when the first layer of chocolate has frozen a little, press one ball into each cup, making sure it doesn't touch the sides
Melt the rest of the choc chips and margarine / Earth balance together as detailed above
Divide between each of the cups, making sure it covers the nut butter totally, and swirl it with your finger to create a nice effect on top
Freeze for an hour or so, then move to the fridge
Remove when ready to eat!

These make large cups, so feel free to cut them in half when you serve. If you have a mini muffin pan or a dedicated PB cup pan, use that for smaller cups!