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!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bloomfield's Badass Foods: Post-exercise foods for vegan fitness!

So, you like the exercise.

You're that sweating, jellified heap of humanity that slumps to the floor post-Bikram-yoga-session (like my Veggie host), or perhaps you have that genteel glow acquired from a taxing Pilates session or a long, satisfying run. You crave that feeling! Good on you! But how to recover?

As a vegetarian / vegan you may feel uncatered for when it comes to post-exercise recovery snacks and shakes. Well, worry no more! I am here to illuminate what you can, should and might want to use, as well as the tasty, tricksy ways you can avoid the trap of buying into the unnecessary supplements industry. Hooray!

The PB&J smoothie is a perfect post-workout drink

The Everyday Veggie actually touched on this subject recently, giving some tasty recipes for just such a post-workout situation. Throughout this article I'll link to some of the recipes I think she has that should help you make an awesome recovery, whether it's a snack or a full blown meal.

So, let's say you've just stumbled back from the gym, slathered in sweat like an exhausted equine and foaming at the mouth for something nommable; ANYTHING to satisfy that exercised little tum of yours. To what do you turn? A big bowl of pasta? A chocolate bar, for a quick "fix"? I say neither! There is a very simple way to begin recovery as soon as possible and it goes like this:

  1. Eat some simple carbohydrates, such as fruit, within twenty minutes of finishing exercise.
  2. Keep yourself hydrated, drinking at least 500ml of water after your workout.
  3. Eat a mixture of carbohydrates and protein within two hours of finishing exercise.
There is a hell of a lot of misinformation surrounding these topics, and this can be very tough to cut through for a concerned gym bunny! However, I'll quickly try to explain the advice above and hopefully have time for a rant at the end.

So, why is point 1 important? Well, during exercise, you exhaust the glucose in your muscles (known in the fitness biz as glycogen), giving you that sensation of tiredness. In extreme cases of glycogen deprivation in the muscles, you can end up hitting what runners know as "the wall": that stage of complete muscular failure that looks a bit like this. Exercising to the point of deep fatigue is not a bad thing necessarily, but fatiguing to that point by not eating a simple carbohydrate within twenty minutes is not clever or advisable and will slow down any fitness gains or recovery you wish to make.

To begin recovery, I suggest a small portion of fruit such as a couple of plums, pear or a handful of berries. Any of these will help you recover that lost glycogen and get those muscles ready and restored. This allows them to begin recovery more quickly, meaning less muscular soreness, bigger grains in muscular development and also no more itching for a snack! If you have the time (or a lovely partner to supply you with it), you could try the PB&J smoothie, which hits all of these needs and tastes flippin' delicious at the same time! 

Point 2: hydration. This is absolutely crucial before, during and after exercise. Hopefully you have kept yourself well hydrated (2.5 litres a day is about right, more if you exercise regularly). A good idea for a post workout drink could be something like coconut water; it contains essential electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and phosphorus, which are all fantastic for your recovery rate as well as hydrating the hell out of you - the Everyday Veggie swears by it! Remember that even if you didn't sweat massively during your workout, you will still have lost fluid and nutrients and these must be replenished or you could suffer from poor recovery and an unnecessary headache!

Onto point 3. This is both the most important and most confused area when it comes to recovery advice. We are often told that the best way to recover is to go home, bloat ourselves obscenely with a vat of rice / pasta and eat several million tons of protein. Some people substitute a meal with a protein shake here, a practise which is even worse than pasta bloating, in my mind. 

Let me say this clearly: you do not NEED to eat pasta, rice or other complex carbohydrates after a workout, or overeat protein. A small amount of protein is all that is needed for optimal results, around 10-20gm. You can get this from mushrooms, artichokes, legumes, nutes, seeds and many other types of fruit and vegetables. There really is a huge variety! Add some spinach, sun-dried tomatoes or olives to get an iron boost and you are right on track!

Make sure that this meal is relaxing and enjoyed somewhere quiet and chilled; even watching the TV whilst eating can be a subconscious stressor and can slow down digestion and recovery! Try sitting at the table, eating with a friend or partner and generally enjoying and tasting your food. Make the taste of the food your stimulation, instead of getting outside stimulation that negates the tasty goodness you are chowing down on! I suggest something yummy like this Pad Thai or this Soba Noodle Stir Fry, which are both packed full of protein and yummy simple carbohydrates, which will break down at varying degrees to give your body perfectly timed releases of energy.

Finally, don't feel beholden to eat pasta and rice because "everyone uses them" after exercise. It's not a fashion statement - and if it was, it would be as bland as a biege cardigan. Remember, our cavedude ancestors would have recovered by eating a variety of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, and they were definitely looking for quick recovery. It takes on a different meaning when you are trying to avoid being a sabertooth's aperitif! The point is that selection and variety is always preferable to hammering your body with one single carb, no matter how "worthy" it is considered. Variety: not just the spice of life, it's essential!

As ever, it's been an opinionated pleasure and I hope this helps you. Please leave any questions you have in the comments section at the bottom and I will help where I can! 

Keep safe, eat healthy and try something new!
David Bloomfield, nutritionist type

P.S. Here are a few more suggestions from this here blog:

If you are a sensible little planner bee and want to prepare something tasty for after exercising, I suggest something like these vegan sugar-free choconut energy balls, rich in omega 3 oils and a good source of essential vitamins and minerals.

How about trying quinoa for protein? It's a serious powerfood and tasty to boot, especially when used in this recipe for Leek and Lentil Bake. Delicious and fearsome! 

Because I am such a damn fiend for Squash and Mushroom Risotto, I had to include this recipe too. It's good for you, I swear!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vegan sugar-free choconut energy balls

Breakfast: Apple and coconut oatmeal

Lunch: Black bean soup followed by vegan sugar-free choconut energy balls

Dinner: Seared tofu, mashed potatoes, mushrooms gravy and green beans

Move over Totoro, there is a new love in my life!*

For Christmas, Putin gave to me a 2-week pass for a Bikram yoga centre. In case you didn't know, these 90 minute classes consist of you doing yoga in a room that can only be described as obscenely hot, whilst sweating out abut 40% of your body weight (guesstimate). This is hardcore yoga, like yoga done in one of those sweatsuits that boxers wear to go down a weight class in an hour. Insanity yoga, I like to call it.

Obviously, after such exertion, it's necessary to have something both delicious and full of energy to replenish your poor, aching body. I've always been a fan of those "energy balls" they seem to have at every health food stall on the planet, and this is my version of those.

These are vegan, gluten free and sugar free. And awesome.

You'll need:
(Makes 12 balls)
1/2 cup grated raw cacao
1/4 cup unsweetened grated coconut + additional for rolling
1/4 cup ground flax + additional for rolling
2 tbsp almond oil - I use the oil from my almond butter jar, though you can substitute store-bought peanut oil for this
2 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tbsp peanut butter
Cream together all the ingredients, then place in the fridge for 30 minutes
Remove from the fridge and shape into 12 even balls
Roll each one in coconut or flax, and place back in the fridge
Take out and enjoy when needed!

Just to prove that things can be decadent, healthy AND nutritionally phenomenal, listen to this:

Cacao contains flavinoids which help the blood flow in the body, benefitting both heart and head!
Ground flax brings omega 3 fatty acids, fiber and may help women with cardiovascular problems AND people with diabetes by stabilising blood sugar levels!
Almond butter can help lower cholesterol, and brings many great nutrients and vitamins into the body!
Peanut butter is a great source of protein, vitamin b3, magnesium and good fats!

All of this, and the lack of sugar in these, means that you can happily chomp away on these, safe in the knowledge that you are, in fact, doing yourself a favour...even if you don't do insanity yoga first.

*Totoro, I will always love you.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Vegan transition week day 7: Health tips

If you've ever expressed an interest in going vegetarian or vegan, you'll know that one of the first things most people say is "Oh, you're going to struggle to be healthy" or "You won't get enough protein, you know."

This is not necessarily true.

Sure, if you live on salads and vegan sausages 7 days a week, you won't be healthy, and you won't get enough protein. However, if you have a varied diet and pay attention to certain good things you need in your body, you can be perfectly healthy - even more healthy and less susceptible to many diseases (read the China Study!)

Of course, some good things are more difficult to get than others. Iron, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin b12 and protein can all be problematic when you cut out all animal products, but once you know what to concentrate on, you can easily make sure you get enough. Here are some tips to keep you on the right track!

  • Put ground flax in all smoothies, sauces and soups. It will thicken the consistency a little but not effect the flavour. This will give you heaps of omega 3 fatty acids!
  • Put ground almonds into curries, sauces and anything saucy but lumpy. You won't notice them but they can help bring down cholesterol!
  • Put 1 tbsp of oats into any smoothies you make. This is a great source of energy in the morning!
  • Boil a couple of handfuls of spinach for 3 minutes, drain and puree. This makes a great base for pizzas or curries and gives tons of iron and calcium!
  • Switch between almond, coconut and rice milk in place of cow's milk, and get types enriched with vitamin b12 if possible. Vitamin b12 is difficult to get so this is important!
  • Use TVP in place of ground beef in your favourite recipes. The consistency is the same and it beings heaps of protein!
  • Eat beans and brown rice in mornings before a busy day. The slow release energy will carry you through the day, and this dish contains a whole protein!
  • Whenever you make curry, chili or soups, make 4 times as much as you need and freeze it all for a quick and easy meal!

Also, some foods are supercharged for veganism! Try adding these superfoods to some meals each week and feel the awesomeness!

Vegan superfoods!

Sweet potatoes

If you've just made the push into veganism, or are thinking of going vegetarian into 2012, feel free to post any comments or questions you may have and I'll do my best to help out.

In the mean time, happy eating!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Vegan transition week day 6: Snacks and treats

One of the biggest myths about veganism is that vegans are necessarily super healthy. Most people think we can't eat chocolate or cupcakes or brownies or anything approaching tasty. This is just simply not true.

I have always been a massive sweet tooth, and one of Putin's biggest issues in going vegan was getting a steady supply of treats to keep him coasting on a sugar high after a big bike ride. Thankfully, vegan treats are not only delicious (and in the case of cupcakes, more moist and lovely than their non-vegan rivals) but are in most cases incredibly easy to make too!

If going vegan was part of a push to be more healthy, then I applaud you for that and encourage you in every way. However, remember that moderation in all things is the most healthy way, and that includes moderation itself. Indulge yourself when you need to with one of these ten awesome snack ideas - and as many of them are sugar-free, you needn't feel so bad!

1. Chocolate and beet cupcakes
My all time favourite chocolate cupcake, this recipe marries the superpower of beets with the greatness of chocolate - and doesn't even taste like beets!
2. Ginger and orange cookies
One of my pet hates is the fake flavouring that ruins most of our food these days. These cookies are made with fresh ginger and real orange juice for a zingy cookie that will blow your mind - and the molasses in them is a great source of iron!
3. Cherry scones
These are a real favourite of mine as they remind me of days when I used to drive to Asda just to pick up a bag of cherry scones. You won't even know they're vegan!
4. Sugar- free sweet potato brownies
For the more sugar-conscious among us, these sweet potato brownies retain all the fudginess and taste of full fat brownies without the sugar. Use macadamia oil for a treat to die for!
5. Raw vegan apple crumble squares
If, like me, you grew up on apple crumble and custard, you'll love these crumble squares. They're also sugar-free, using dates and the sweetness of the apples instead of sugar, and they're completely delicious.

6. Raw vegan date squares
Another sugar-free recipe, these squares are full of energy and harness the amazing nutritional qualities of flax, so you don't have to feel at all guilty eating them. They're also great if you're having trouble staying "regular" (ahem)!
7. Hot spiced almond milk
When I'm super sick I long for the days of purple Calpol (loved that stuff) and hot milk when I was a kid. This is a great comforting drink if you're feeling not so wonderful!
8. PB&J smoothie
Peanut butter and jam are as North American as guns and hockey, and a lot of kids I know grew up on PB&J sandwiches. This recipe gives that great combination in smoothie form - great after a workout!
9. Tropicake bars
Oh my days, I felt like Dr. Frankenstein when I created these. Sure, they're delicious, but they're almost too awesome. I think my inability to not eat these will be my downfall...but it'll be one tasty downfall!
10. Putin's Delight: raw vegan almond butter bars
Invented for the aforementioned Putin, these bars are so moreish it should be illegal. Hitting the chocolate, sugar and nut butter needs all in one go, these are great to have on hand in a treat emergency!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vegan transition week day 5: dinner

We've already got through the two most difficult meals of the day, drenched in apathy and laziness. Now we're on the home stretch! It's after work, you've got all the time in the world! You remember dinner, right? Last big meal of the day? The one you can have wine with? Ah, I knew that would get you.

Dinnertime, then, is the most glorious of the day's meals. You have spent all the work day deciding what you fancy, and you'll have those nachos if it kills you. But hang on; don't forget that you also need some goodness inside you!

Here are my ten favourite dinner dishes that taste great as well as being super healthy. Enjoy!

1. Vegan pad Thai
I learned how to make Pad Thai in Bangkok, and made my version vegan with awesome results. Everyone loves this dish and it's easy to see why!
2. Spinach, chickpea and eggplant curry
The spinach base of this curry is rich in iron, calcium and omega 3 fatty acids. The chickpeas, too, bring protein while the spices are just generally fantastic for you!
3. Spicy bean patties
These protein-rich patties make a great meal when served on top of cous cous with a carrot-lime salad. Even Canadian carnivores at BBQs love these!
4. The World's Best Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese
I don't throw the phrase "the world's best" around easily, but these really is the world's best vegan spaghetti bolognese. TVP replaces the beef, and you won't even realise it's gone!
5. Soba stir fry with hoi sin vegetables
Soba noodles are fantastic for you; buckwheat contains heaps of fiber and can lower your blood sugar!

6. Lentil chili
Chili is my meal of choice when it's snowy outside and I want something warming. The lentils and beans are the ultimate protein combo!
7. Squash, mushroom and spinach risotto
Risottos are great for those times when you need a meal seriously filling. This tastes decadent but gives a great dose of iron and calcium from the spinach. The pine nuts, too, contain more protein than any other seed as well as lots of fibre!
8. Triple protein vegan nachos
Let us banish the myth that vegans are protein-deficient with this triple threat dinner: TVP, kidney beans and black beans bring the party and hot sauce brings the fun!
9. Bean and potato casserole
Using seasonal vegetables is always a great idea, and this hearty casserole uses winter veggies for a satisfying and cosy dish.
10. Leek and lentil bake with quinoa crust
It's a matter of public knowledge how much I love quinoa; when coupled with lentils and leeks they become a nutritional powerhouse of epic proportions!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Vegan transition week day 4: Lunch

Ah, lunch. For a lot of us, the most bothersome meal of the day. Though breakfast can be uninspired and rushed, lunch can be difficult; by that time of day we're often hungry and need some sustenance, but due to laziness or a lack of options we end up getting a boring Subway sandwich or the four lettuce leaves scattered with tomatoes that we could be bothered to throw together last night. Not the best.

I get around this by either making something the night before, using some leftovers in a wicked salad or making a quick meal in the morning - making sure that every one has enough good stuff in it to leave me satisfied for the rest of the day!

Below are ten of my favourite lunch recipes to get you started on your first vegan lunches.

1. Black bean burritos
Beans and brown rice are a great source of whole protein, and these burritos make a great meal as they can be made the day before and eaten hot or cold!
2. Jamaican pumpkin soup
Soup is the ultimate lunch food. You can make loads of it in advance, and in winter especially, it gives you enough warmth and deliciousness to get through the rest of the day!
3. Beet soup
Another one to make in advance, this soup is fantastic thanks to multitude of nutrients that beets bring along: potassium, Vitamin C and magnesium to name just a few! (Ignore the feta on this one!)
4. Spinach and mushroom frittata
A great recipe to make if you have a little time for lunch, this can help if you're craving that eggy texture and taste!
5. South American quinoa salad
The avocados in this salad are full of the good fats, and when combined with quinoa, beans and cashews, make for an incredibly nutritious and tasty lunch meal!

6. Black bean and brown rice soup
Gluten-free, easy on troubled stomachs and almost pure awesomeness, this soup is perfect for cold days and has enough energy to carry you through til dinner.
7. Quinoa stir fry with kale, chili and nuts
This is another make-the-night-before lunch, and an insanely healthy one thanks to the quinoa and the kale - which contains many nutrients as well as potent anti-cancer chemicals!
8. Faux cream of mushroom soup
Cream of mushroom soup is one of the classics that it's easy to miss when you go vegan. Coconut milk makes this soup vegan-friendly and also full of good fats!
9. Mediterranean chickpeas with cous cous
Sometimes there's a lunch emergency: we wake up, no time, no change to buy lunch. This is a 5-minute rescue meal that's delicious and full of goodness too!
10. Chana masala
Make a huge batch of curry; freeze it; take out when needed. This lunch could not be easier, and with such a gorgeous range of spices it's great for staving off that winter cold.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Vegan transition week day 3: Breakfast

Of all the day's meals, breakfast has to be the hardest. You're tired, it's cold, you're in a rush, and the cat insists on trying to get in the shower with you even though she hates it, so you end up having quick, crappy, sugar-filled cereal with almond milk or burnt toast with peanut butter. Tomorrow, you say; tomorrow will be more varied, more healthy, more fun! Then your press snooze 3 times on your alarm and end up cramming the same burnt crumbs into your mouth while you run for the bus. We've all been there.

This is something of a travesty - it sounds a bit trite, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It gets your metabolism going, gives you energy and basically decides how your body is going to run throughout the rest of the day. And it sets your mood too!

The key to getting a varied range of breakfasts throughout your week is a little planning; spend an hour on a Sunday night making a batch of quinoa granola, or pre-soak some beans just before you go to bed at night. There's nothing to stop you having a different "petit dejeuner" every single day of the week if you like - each one healthy and full of goodness!

Here are ten recipes for great, easy and tasty vegan breakfasts to get you started!

1. Carrot cake super smoothie
The only way I've found to make carrot juice appealing, this smoothie also contains goji berries to make it supercharged!
2. Apple and date quinoa muffins
Applesauce and dates means that these muffins are sugar-free, and the inclusion of quinoa makes this a breakfast with a complete protein.
3. Tomato and lime scrambled tofu on rice
This Mexican-inspired take on the vegan classic is an absolute favourite of mine. So warm and comforting on a winter morning, and full of energy as well as beany goodness!
4. Quinoa fruit pilaf
This is easy to make, and the blueberries and bananas give a nice dose of antioxidants and potassium respectively. A nice alternative to oatmeal!
5. Spicy beans and rice with spinach
This hearty take on the Latin breakfast classic is cheap, easy and so good for you its almost ridiculous. Beans and rice together give all the essential amino acids, heaps of iron, protein and slow-release energy and might even help fight against heart disease. And it's addictive!

6. Quinoa granola
Almonds, pecans, flax and quinoa: this granola could not be better for you unless it was a beetroot.
7. Savoury crepes
A great weekend brunch option, the filling of these crepes brings together the nutritional powerhouses of miso, onions, garlic and ginger. And they're super tasty!
8. The Full Ukrainian breakfast
A healthy alternative to the full English, this breakfast is gluten-free and the kasha in it brings a nice amount of magnesium. It can also help to control blood sugar levels.
9. Avocado and mint smoothie
I know it sounds weird, but stay with me; the apple juice in this smoothie sweetens it, while the avocado helps to lower cholesterol and gives a whole shed load of vitamins. It's a great summer breakfast!
10. Bagels with refried beans
Ok, bagels might not be the healthiest thing in the world, but the refried beans here give enough energy, fiber and iron to make this a dish worth having!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Vegan transition week day 2: Shopping list

One of the biggest challenges in going vegan or vegetarian is knowing what to buy. For most of us, food shopping is something we do on automatic, only realizing that we've bought 4 packs of Oreos and no milk when we're bagging everything up. Even worse is shopping when you're hungry; all rationale goes out of the window and you buy a whole loaf of bread and crap hummus, only remembering about the toilet roll when you get home. We've all done it.

In your transition to vegan week, you might just have to pay a little bit more attention. Put down that cottage cheese and pick up the almond butter instead! And don't go near that whole roasted chicken!

To make things a little easier, here's a sample shopping list of my own. This is a great help when first restocking your kitchen for your new diet, but can also be used after that - you'll know what to add to it once you've got into your groove and have discovered that you simply cannot live without goji berries. In the mean time, let this be your shopping guide!

Vegan shopping list
Oils, butters, spreads and sweeteners:
Canola oil
Sesame oil
Peanut or sunflower oil
100% peanut butter
100% almond butter
Miso paste
Agave nectar
Vegan margarine (if necessary)
Baking goods:
Unbleached sugar
Baking powder
Baking soda
Vanilla extract
Cocoa powder (make sure it's vegan)
Raw cacao
Ground flax
Unsweetened grated coconut
Whole wheat flour
Vegetable stock cubes
Mushroom stock cubes
Fortified almond milk
Soba noodles
Rice noodles
Rolled oats
Tomato puree
Rice paper
Grains, pulses and legumes:
Brown rice
Arborio rice
Cous cous
Red lentils
Yellow split peas
Canned goods:
Coconut milk
Coconut cream
Black beans
Kidney beans

Fruits and vegetables:
Sweet potatoes
Bell peppers
Fresh ginger
Nuts and seeds:
Sunflower seeds
Herbs, spices and vinegars:
Ground ginger
Ground nutmeg
Cayenne pepper
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Black pepper
Soy sauce
Sweet chili sauce
Balsamic vinegar
Apple cider vinegar

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Vegan transition week 1: Becoming Vegan

Vegan treats are as decadent as their non-vegan counterparts!
Happy new year!

It's finally here - the year in which we're all supposed to die. Calm down though, we're not going to* - although I'm sure many of us feel like we are this morning!

If there's a day in the year more filled with hopefulness and resolution than January 1st, then I don't know what it is. Many people this year - more than ever before, maybe - will be starting this year with a new diet. I sincerely hope that the popularity of yo-yo diets or unhealthy fad diets is waning, and that people are committing to more healthy, long-term dietary changes instead.

Of course, for me, the healthiest, more energetic, most sustainable diet is a a vegan one, and having gone vegan 4 months ago, I haven't looked back. Though I'm a huge believer in finding the diet that works for you, whatever that may be, more and more people around me have expressed an interest in going vegan, vegetarian, or cutting hugely back on their consumption of animal products in the last year or so and those who have done so have all come back with positive results. 

So, as many of you might be following their path this year, I figured this would be the best week to share some tips and tricks on Going Vegan! 

I'll be sharing ten recipes each for quick and easy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes, as well as my suggested shopping list and a few health tips that can keep up your intake of certain important nutrients and vitamins, like iron! 

We'll start with the shopping list tomorrow - in the mean time, do some research and be sure that you've made the right decision:

Stay tuned and remember, beet juice helps hangovers!

*This is actually due just to a huge misunderstanding of the Mayan's base-20 number system and end/restart of their counting. Basically.