Food Diary #2: Sunshine and Rainbows!

Sunshine in a BowlThis second edition of my Food Diary series has a summery theme. Don’t know about anyone else, but as soon as the sun gets its hat on and the weather hots up I go crazy for colourful, fresh food. Over the last several weeks I’ve been really enjoying salad bowls, fruit and anything that requires minimal effort to prepare and eat. Seriously, in this weather, if I can’t just plonk it in a bowl and eat it with fingers or a fork, I’m not interested. I’ve found that making big batches of salad-y things at the beginning of the week and then grazing throughout the week has been the way to go. I thought I’d put together a couple of insta-style collages and give you all some sunshine food-spiration!

Food Diary 1-tile

Lunch…

The chopped salad and cold lentil salad you see in these photos were made in bulk and stored in tubs (as an added blog bonus, I’ll give you the lentil salad recipe shortly). Similarly, having tubs of shop bought olives, beetroot salad and couscous and a big bag of spinach on hand just adds to the laziness of it all. A lot of the time I do make my own batches of seasoned couscous and/or quinoa for my lunch bowls but, at this time of year, any excuse to hang around the chiller aisle in Sainsbury’s will do for me. As you can see I added various different things to my lunches so that I never actually had the same meal twice. Favourites of mine are sweet pickled onions and cajun roasted sweet potato. You’ll also notice that the Coconut Bacon I got in my #TVK9 box made the odd appearance.

Food Diary 6-tile

Breakfast…

It’s not just my lunches that I prefer to eat out of a bowl lately, it’s breakfasts and dinners too. Cereal and fruit has been my favourite way to start the day, with lashings of ice cold orange juice (I wish i could say I juice my own, but my juicer, sadly, is no longer with us) and a cheeky dollop of Alpro choccy pud here and there. The Sainsbury’s Wholegrain Blueberry Wheats pictured really are lovely and they’re marked vegan. Perfect with an extra helping of fresh blueberries. And who doesn’t love a fruit salad with extra chocolate

Dinner…

Just in case you were wondering, I do actually WASH my bowl between meals. I have several of these shallow, poppy-printed bowls (Poundland bargain) and find them the perfect size for my appetite, as well as helping with portion control. Trust me, if I used a big plate I’d be wanting to fill it. These bowls have seen plenty of noodles, rice, veggie stir fries and pastas in the last few weeks. I really don’t like having the oven on in hot weather so anything I can boil or flash fry on the hob is a winner. Particular favourites have been penne with sundried tomato pesto, spinach and grated vegan cheese and that beautiful sriracha-marinated tofu with veggie fried rice. Mediterranean and oriental flavours make me so happy.

*****

So that’s what I’ve been living off lately. I just love how colourful vegan food can be. As they say, the more colours on your plate, the healthier the plate so go ahead and taste the rainbow! Going forward into Autumn/Winter I’m sure my bowl will more likely be filled with warming, hearty soups, stews and gravies but I’m definitely making the most of summer salads while I can. To keep you inspired, here’s that lentil salad recipe i promised you earlier…

 

Recipe: Green Lentil Summer Salad

(No particular quantities, make as much as you like and to your own taste)

Green lentils – Boiled and drained

Raw carrot – Chopped

Red onion – Diced

Celery – Chopped

Parsley – Chopped

Garlic Salt

Black Pepper

Lemon Juice

Combine the cooled lentils and the prepped veggies in a tub and add garlic salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Place in the fridge to rest (I find it improves on resting a while) and then eat at will. Lunches for days!

What do you love to eat when the weather heats up??

 

Recipe: Vegan Banana and Walnut Spelt Loaf

Banana Walnut Spelt Loaf - VeganSincerest apologies for my absence! I can assure you it wasn’t intentional, I’ve just had a few things going on over the last fortnight and blogging has had to be pushed back a little. I have a couple of posts to publish this week, which may help to make up for it. Another Food Diary post is in the pipeline but I thought I’d start with this little GEM of a recipe in honour of the upcoming PETA UK Great Vegan Bake-Off. I’m so excited about it! In truth I NEVER used to bake before I went vegan. I’ve never been a big eater of cakes or puddings in general. I just keep finding these amazing looking recipes (mainly down to my Pinterest addiction) and feeling the urge to tinker with them, veganise them and make them my own. This recipe for Banana Walnut Spelt bread was born of a Facebook post by my bestest (non-vegan) friend that sparked a craving… then a Pinterest search… then a basic recipe… et voila! This loaf looks so rustic and lovely, I almost didn’t want to slice it… almost…

Banana Walnut Bread3This recipe is dairy free, egg free and, most impressively, oil free! In fact, I’ve worked it out that one decent slice of this badboy contains just 0.4g saturated fat (5.5g in total, mainly due to the walnuts, but that’s all good, healthy fat). It could also be made gluten free by way of some stealthy flour switching. I always seem to have Spelt flour hanging around in my cupboards so that is what I generally use but you could sub gluten free flour or possibly oat flour. I’ll tell you a little secret… this was my first ever attempt at banana bread, which is probably why I’m so excited. I’ve been trying to switch up my breakfasts a little bit and wanted something sweet, but not too sinful that I could enjoy with my morning cuppa. This loaf has the fruit, the nuts and the fibre.

Recipe

Adapted from Food.com. Yields 8-10 Slice Loaf

2 cups spelt flour

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2tsp salt

1tsp baking powder

4 medium bananas – ripe, mashed

Approx 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (use as many or as few as you like) with extra for decoration

1tsp vanilla extract

4tbsp water

Banana Walnut Bread1Method

- Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.

- In a separate bowl, mash bananas then add the water and vanilla and mix to combine.

- Add the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.

- Add the chopped walnuts into the bowl and mix again (you could also add other things, or omit the nuts completely and leave plain).

- Lightly grease a loaf tin (or do as I did and line it with greaseproof paper) and add in the mixture, spreading evenly into the corners

- Garnish with more chopped walnuts

- Bake at 350f (175c/Gas 4) for 55-65mins or until the tip of a knife comes out clean

- Allow to cool completely before slicing (this is the hard part)

Banana Walnut Bread2I think this is a ridiculously simple recipe and I can tell I’m going to make it a LOT. It’s quite dense in texture, which I personally like. I had worried that 4 bananas would have made it a little on the gooey side but it came out just about perfect after an hour in the oven. It’s also utterly delicious and not too sweet. The walnuts bring down the bananas and sugar just enough in my opinion. I’d recommend it for breakfast with a nice brew or if you’re having friends or family over for a guilt free afternoon tea. You don’t even have to tell them it’s vegan, just say low fat and they’re guaranteed to go in for seconds!

image

 

The Ghosts in Our Machine – London Premiere

The Ghosts In Our Machine - Movie Poster

In my first ever entry on this blog I mentioned that I became vegan (as opposed to vegetarian) quite suddenly and unexpectedly at the beginning of 2014, whilst writing a campaign analysis as part of my PR and Communications degree. The campaign I chose for that assignment was for the award winning 2013 documentary The Ghosts in Our Machine by Liz Marshall and Ghosts Media. Long story short, I completely fell in love with the campaign, its messages and the sheer amount of passion and heart that is evidently at the core of this project. All this was before I had even seen the full documentary! I had a little bit of a wait but I finally got to see the full length feature at its London premiere last week at the Hackney Picturehouse along with the team from PETA UK.

Dairy-Sonny3The documentary focuses on the work of photojournalist and activist Jo-Anne McArthur of We Animals, who has spent the last decade travelling the world, bearing witness the plight of the invisible victims of our modern machine, the animals. They are the Ghosts and they are the ones whose flesh fills our bellies, whose skins keep us warm and who provide us with’ entertainment’. With her camera lens, McArthur brings these sentient beings out of the shadows where they languish in fur farms, factory farms, laboratories and zoos and into sharp focus so that we may see who they really are and consider the role we, ourselves, play in their suffering.

My thoughts on the film…

I can’t lie, I packed an entire roll of tissue for this movie as I was expecting tears, and lots of them. The reality is, this is a film that is as heart warming in places as it is heartbreaking. This film is intended to be seen by everyone and, if you were put off, assuming it was ‘Earthlings, Part II’ you would be wrong. It is a gentle film, not designed to shock, but to inspire. The animals are at the heart of the project, along with McArthur and their stories are moving, heartbreaking, joyful and enlightening. The focus is not on ‘what humans do to animals’, it is on the impact we have on the animals as individual thinking, feeling beings. Liz Marshall created it this way. It’s not poking blame at anyone or incriminating specific companies, it’s asking you to look inward at how your own actions and choices directly affect other non-human individuals.

McArthur is what really pulls this film together. Her story guides you through and not once does she tell you how you should feel about what you are witnessing. It is for the viewer to contemplate this based on the questions being brought forward by the images. Some might say that The Ghosts in Our Machine is too ‘softly softly’ but I say it is extremely watchable. I never once wanted to look away and the stunning imagery and haunting soundtrack really add to the cognitive experience. Marshall takes you through the full compendium of emotions with this film and, despite this, you will want to watch it through to the very end unlike other, more harrowing animal rights docs that may have you wanting to forget. It draws you in and we desperately need more animal rights films that can do that in a non threatening way. These messages can be understood by viewers of all ages because of the empathy it invokes. Marshall recommends it for viewers aged 14+ so it has the potential to inspire the next generation as well as making our own stop and rethink.

Ghosts Panel

After the screening ended we were invited to stay for a panel Q&A session with Liz Marshall herself and representatives from Viva, Animal Equality and PETA UK’s own Mimi Bekhechi who all did an amazing job at fielding questions about the film, giving advice on transitioning to a compassionate lifestyle, sharing their own stories and generally educating on the importance of a ‘Ghost Free journey’. We were also treated to a bag of goodies on the way out containing dairy-free chocolate and coconut milk as well as literature and information on how to help animals. Liz Marshall was also interviewed on BBC World News this week which is a massive achievement and such great news for the Ghost Free message.

If you get an opportunity to go to a screening of this film, my advice would be to grab it with everything you have. It’s enjoyable (for vegans as well as meat eaters), insightful, thought provoking and a pleasure to watch. The highlights for me were definitely the scenes filmed at Farm Sanctuary. If you can’t find a screening near you you can purchase it on DVD from the official website, arrange a screening of your own or (in selected countries) watch it online via iTunes. You can also watch the trailer and explore the interactive online companion to the movie on the official website.

Find out more at

theghostsinourmachine.com

For more information and resources on going vegan for the animals and starting your own Ghost-Free Journey PETA UK has an excellent Vegan Starter Kit with shopping tips, recipes and advice for making the change.

 

Bunny Friendly BB Creams

Vegan BB CreamsEvery year when the sun starts to come out and Summer sets in I always, without fail, turn straight to BB creams. They’re just a great all in one product that is lighter in texture and comes with added SPF protection. My skin, although combination, is prone to dehydration, especially during the warmer months, and I find heavy foundations to be a flop in the heat. This is my first summer as a vegan so I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find cruelty free options to suit my skin, and my student budget. I needn’t have worried though. After a bit of internet digging and a mooch around in Superdrug I emerged happy.

Gosh BB Beige

GOSH BB Cream – Beige

This is a product I loved last year that I was over the moon to discover is vegan! In fact, a HUGE chunk of GOSH’s range is vegan friendly (see their full vegan list here) and the brand is also free of animal testing. I think they will be one of my drugstore go-to brands from here on out. Their BB cream is among my favourites, and I’ve tried a few. It is designed as an all in one primer, foundation and moisturiser. The formula is quite wet so a little goes a long way. The shade is actually quite cool in tone so I might go a step up to Warm Beige when I next repurchase. The shade range is perfect for summer tans and dark skin tones. This product is long lasting, hydrating and also contains SPF15.

Superdrug BB Medium

Superdrug 5-in-1 Skin Perfecting BB Cream – Medium

This is a great budget option at under £5! As Superdrug are 100% cruelty free and Leaping Bunny certified, I know I can always fall back on them for vegan skincare options. I must admit that, as a beauty blogger of 3yrs, I had a bit of brand snobbery to get over when choosing a Superdrug own brand over higher end options which, I know now, more often than not, usually have something to hide when it comes to animal testing and ingredients. This product comes in two shades, light and medium, and Superdrug also do an Anti-Age SPF 30 version. The formula is quite thick compared to GOSH but spreads well and sinks in really quickly. I find I have a constant urge to touch my skin when wearing this product, it’s so soft! Active ingredients include Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid and Caffeine with mineral pigments. It’s also paraben free!

I am going to continue to update this post with new finds as I find them. I’m not done digging yet! I really can’t be without a BB cream for daytime wear in the summer. I love having a light product that will look after my skin and not go all gloopy and melt off my face in the heat. I’d love to hear any recommendations. I think it’s fantastic that cruelty free and vegan products are becoming more accessible and that more and more companies are taking the compassionate route. It’s so important to support them.

What are your top cruelty free Summer skincare/makeup products?? Which brands do you prefer?? Why is cruelty free makeup important to you??

The Vegan Kind #TVK9 – A Thing of Beauty

The Vegan Kind TVK9

I love The Vegan Kind. I look forward to my box every month and I’m usually so pleased with my goodies that I just have to shout about it. TVK, for those not in the loop, are the only vegan subscription box service currently in the UK and for £10 a month (£2.99 P&P) they will send you a box brimming with vegan treats, toiletries and household products. Anything from fudge to shampoo all the way through to washing up liquid. You also get get recipe cards and discount codes for some of the featured companies. Great for vegans old and new and anyone interested in incorperating more veg options. This month’s box is particularly exquisite and I’m not ashamed to admit that I did a little SQUEE when I opened it. TVK were teasing us about it on their Facebook page for an entire week with how amazing it was going to be and they weren’t joking.

CocoBacon TVK9Coconut Bacon…. YES, you read that right. Coconut. Frickin. BACON! Flakes of coconut with a savoury/sweet smokey bacon seasoning. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a complete coconut-phobe and there are very few coconut based/scented products that make it into regular rotation in my house. I was, however, feeling very positive about trying this product by US company, Coconut Organics. I opened it almost immediately and dunked a handful all over my supper. It’s different, I’ll give it that. I don’t think I’d ever sit and snack on it on its own but I certainly enjoyed it as a salad topping. Perhaps I’ll experiment a little with it and get back to you.

As much as I love to pile spinach and spirulina into my morning smoothies, I’m a complete wheatgrass virgin. This is pretty hardcore healthy even by my vegan standards. I’ve popped this Squeeze wheatgrass juice shot in the fridge, ready for my next killer hangover or when I’m in need of a major boost.

TVK9 ShampooIn my 3+ years of beauty blogging I have NEVER come across a powder shampoo before. You just need to add water to this Heavenly Organics product and lather it into your hair. The base ingredient here is baking soda and it’s the sort of thing that could be so easily homemade. Just goes to show how unnecessary some of the chemicals and ingredients that go into some products are! It has a cookie-like scent to it and I’ll be interested to try it and see if it can penetrate my great, thick mop!

TVK9 VegoSTOP PRESS! I have now experienced my first ever Vego bar! I’ve spotted these mammoth chocolate treats before when I’ve been in Vx getting lunch. And when I say mammoth, I really mean it. They’re HUGE! One square of this chocolate bar with whole hazelnuts weighs the same as the ENTIRE Frank protein bar below it. It’s about the same size and thickness as my TV remote. And it’s DELICIOUS. I’m so proud of myself that I’ve been keeping to one square a day. I’ll be sad when it’s gone.

The other sweet treat in the box seems to have been completely (and literally) eclipsed by the Vego. I’m keeping this strawberry/chocolate protein snack bar from The Frank Food Company on one side so that it will get its moment in the spotlight once I’ve powered my way through the last of the Vego. I’m really looking forward to trying it though.

TVK9 Vita Coco

I think everyone is familiar with this last product. It’s the Marmite of the health drink world, Vita Coco. I’ve been a fan for a while, despite my aversion to coconut, mainly because it doesn’t taste of coconut. I find it pleasant, refreshing and hydrating. I’m so glad this is the original variety, as I’m not so keen on the flavoured ones. I feel they taste a bit artificial. This carton is a whopping 500ml size. I’ll be saving it for work tomorrow.

Delicious vegan treats aside for a second, TVK are an extremely compassionate company run by lovely people. Each month they donate 10p from every box sold to a featured charity. The donation from TVK9 will go to Blind Dog Rescue UK . They’re also dedicated to raising awareness and spreading the message of living compassionately. These boxes are a great way of introducing more eco and animal friendly products into your diet and lifestyle. They’re also a great way for vegans to discover new products.

Make sure you give them a follow on Facebook and Twitter for vegan gossip, news and updates. They’re super friendly and always happy to answer questions. To subscribe to the TVK service you can visit their website at

www.thevegankind.com

Recipe: Auntie P’s Vanilla Cream Pie

Vegan Cream Pie Recipe

You may remember me mentioning my lovely Auntie P in my previous post. Auntie P has a particular talent for making SPECTACULAR desserts and I had the pleasure of visiting her for Sunday lunch a couple of weeks back. She’s been brilliant since I’ve been vegan and always provides me with a delicious home-cooked vegan alternative to whatever the rest of the family are eating. On this occasion though she completely blew me away by bringing out this breathtaking homemade egg custard-style Vegan Cream Pie on a shortbread base. I fell in love with it and, after sharing the foodporn on one of the vegan Facebook groups and receiving high demand for the recipe, I persuaded her to pop it in the post. It’s like a cross between a creme brulee and an egg custard tart and I love that it’s sweet, creamy and comforting yet not too sickly. So here it is!

Shortbread Base

8oz Plain flour

8oz Vegan margarine (she used one from Lidl)

1oz Sugar*

- Rub margarine into the flour.

- Add the sugar and knead until combined.

- Press into a 7 inch cake tin (bottom and sides)

- Bake for 10mins at 180c

Filling

4Tbsp Vegan margarine

4Tbsp Cornflour

3/4 Cup of sugar*

2x 250ml Cartons Alpro soya cream (you could use any thin vegan cream alternative, or perhaps homemade cashew cream)

Vanilla flavouring to taste (essence, paste or straight from the pod)

Half teaspoon of nutmeg

- Melt margarine in a saucepan and add cornflour, sugar and cream.

- Stir constantly until mixture boils and thickens (approx 5mins).

- Remove from heat and add vanilla.

- Pour into the part-baked shortbread in the tin and sprinkle with nutmeg.

- Return tin to the oven and bake for 40mins at 180c until set.

- Allow to cool then refrigerate overnight.

- Serve cold.

I’d serve this with lashings of dairy free vanilla ice cream but it is delightful even on its own. Sorry I don’t have many pictures to tantalise you with (it didn’t last long enough among my family). It’s a great vegan take on a classic dessert and doesn’t seem too complicated to make either! Plus, the upshot of it being vegan is that there’s no cholesterol and even the full fat soya cream has 40% less fat than regular. It also serves as yet another reminder that a delicious creamy pud needn’t require the suffering and exploitation of animals on dairy farms. I’m so grateful to Auntie P for going making that extra effort for me. I will always look forward to her Sunday lunches. Just a shame I live so far away! I’m going to have to work on her for a vegan version of her famous Rocky Road Cheesecake because that is just OUT OF THIS WORLD! So watch this space for more from Auntie P.

Does your family have a signature vegan dessert?? What is your ultimate vegan pud??

(* Here in the UK our sugar is made without using the bone-char method and is suitable for vegans, US readers may want to double check before using) 
 

Vegan Food Diary #1: Visiting Family

Summer2014 086

I thought I’d start a series of different food diary posts so that it might give new, seasoned and aspiring vegans alike a few tasty meal ideas and demonstrate how I eat as a single vegan student on a budget. I also want to prove to a few people that a vegan diet can be varied, exciting and satisfying and how you can eat vegan in all manner of different situations and circumstances.

Mock Duck, carrots, spinach and rice noodles, stir fried in garlic and soy sauce with a drizzle of sweet chilli

Mock Duck, carrots, spinach and rice noodles, stir fried in garlic and soy sauce with a drizzle of sweet chilli

Leftover nut roast from Sunday Lunch with my Auntie with beetroot salad, spinach and baby plum tomatoes

Leftover nut roast from Sunday Lunch with my Auntie with beetroot salad, spinach and baby plum tomatoes

 

I’ve been on my hollibobs for the last week. If you could call it that. I haven’t set foot out of London since March and, since exams are over and I deserve one hell of a break, I really wanted to spend time with my family and friends back home in Derbyshire. Of course, being on my holidays, I haven’t paid much attention to how much I’m eating, I’m just eating ALL OF THE THINGS! Luckily, the foods I enjoy most as a vegan are pretty saintly which makes for less guilt when treating myself to extra puddings, vegan cheese, sweeties and alcohol.

 

 

My family have commented several times in the last week on how easily I’ve fed myself and how well I’ve eaten. I think I surprised them actually. My wonderful mum buys in rice milk, dairy free sunflower spread, fresh veggies and a few convenience foods like Linda McCartney sausages when she knows I’m coming just so she knows she has something to feed me with on arrival (and trust me, I love me some Linda McC) but, what I tend to do is wander to the supermarket once I’ve settled in a bit and pick up a couple of bags of shopping to live off for the week, supplemented by the staples my mum provides. I didn’t spend a fortune and it lasted all week!

AMAZING Vegan Creme Brulee Tart with shortbread crust made by Auntie P (she's giving me her recipe to share with you all soon)

AMAZING Vegan Creme Brulee Tart with shortbread crust made by Auntie P (she’s giving me her recipe to share with you all soon)

Here is my basic shopping list for the week…

- Houmous
- Nairns Oatcakes
- Spinach (LOTS of Spinach)
- Baby Plum Tomatoes
- Sweet Potatoes
- Supermarket Beetroot Salad
- Couscous
- Rice Noodles
- Mock Duck (Holland & Barrett – Currently on offer)
- Basic Home-Bake Baguettes (Sainsburys – Marked Vegan)
- Tiger Tiger Mayo
- Oreos (because…obviously)
- Alpro Soya Chocolate Puddings
- Vegourmet Swiss Jeezo (which I brought with me from LDN c/o Vx in King’s Cross)

I also ate out a couple of times. I’d highly recommend the vegan selections at Thailand No1, Matlock. They were extremely knowledgeable regarding ingredients and boast several Vegetarian Visitor Awards. Sadly, I gobbled up everything on my plate before I could take photographs on that occasion but I had crispy Tofu and veggies in a gorgeous Sweet & Sour Sauce with coconut rice.

Warm baguette with grated Vegourmet Jeezo and Sainsbury's Piri Piri Houmous

Warm baguette with grated Vegourmet Jeezo and Sainsbury’s Piri Piri Houmous

 

The real star of the week has to be my Auntie P, who we visited for Sunday lunch last week. None of my family are vegan so I’m extremely blessed that she not only made me my own nut roast but ALSO the dreamiest creme brulee shortbread dessert I’ve ever had in my life. Everybody agreed that it tasted amazing and she’s agreed to share her recipe with me so that I can share it with you lovely people! Watch this space for that.

 

Stir Fried Veggie Chow Mein with Quinoa

Stir Fried Veggie Chow Mein with Quinoa

I’m so lucky that so many of my nearest and dearest seem to want to feed me. The food shopping that I did provided me with various lunches and dinners throughout the week and I never had the same thing twice. I think my family realise now that I really am not that hard to feed now that I’m a vegan. They’ve even commented on how good my food looks (but I’m not sharing). I’m really hoping that it will come to a point that I can cook vegan meals that we can enjoy together.

Left: Sweet potato roasted in olive oil, salt and pepper with couscous, houmous and salad leaves. Right: Baked potato (somewhere under that mountain of Jeezo) served with 'buttered' carrots and broccoli.

Left: Sweet potato roasted in olive oil, salt and pepper with couscous, houmous and salad leaves.
Right: Baked potato (somewhere under that mountain of Jeezo) served with ‘buttered’ carrots and broccoli.

I really hope that this food diary of my week proves that we vegans don’t have to nibble lettuce in the corner when we visit our non vegan families. I also think that it’s very inspiring for non vegans to witness how well we eat. Definitely food for thought! This isn’t everything I ate this week by any means (seriously, I think this post would go on forever if I photographed EVERYTHING) but a few highlights. I’ve actually managed to lose 2lbs this week, regardless of all the food!

What are your tips for eating Vegan away from home?? Have you converted any family members yet??