Vegan Food Blog

  • Which alternative milk is the best? Nutrition, taste, appearance, cost: A blinded scientific(ish…) study. (11/6/2017)

    Summary

    Nutrition Appearance (in coffee) Taste (on own) Total Score
    Cost (if no offer)
    Oatly Barista 30 20 19 69 £1.80
    Hazelnut 25 19 15 59 £1.60
    Rice 25 18 15 58 £1.00
    Oat 30 9 17 56 £1.40
    Almond 25 18 13 56 £1.40
    Cashew 25 10 15 50 £1.60
    Coconut 25 10 13 48 £1.00
    Hemp 26 13 2 41 £1.40
    Soya 25 6 8 39 £1.00

    Introduction
    My boyfriend and I* have been vegan for about a year now and over the course of this year, we’ve tried almost all of the plant-based milk alternatives available in the UK. We’ve found our favourites, but it’s still a topic that comes up time and time again with friends and family. It’s also a topic which seems big in the media at the moment as a lot of people are choosing plant-based options for other reasons such as health, diet or the environment.

    I’ve read a lot of milk reviews, but none of them are truly comprehensive and most are solely based on opinion, which can vary massively. So, in this review, I tried to make it as scientific(ish) as possible (although please take it with a pinch of salt!). I looked at 3 parameters, appearance, nutrition and taste. Milk appearance is based on a qualitative analysis and nutrition uses a quantitative analysis. I did add a taste test which is always subjective, but mainly, I tried to take as many pictures as possible, which can be interpreted by you, the reader, in any way you choose.

    In simple terms, I took each type of milk-alternative available in the UK, one for each plant; oat, rice, soya etc. I didn’t do EVERY milk in terms of every brand, this would have been far too time-consuming and I’m not really sure if the brand makes much difference. Most of the stability/taste comes from the varying plants, not brand… The exception to this is the Oatly Barista, which is the only alternative of its kind (designed to be more stable in hot drinks).

    I tried to make this review informative, but also enjoyable to read. Don’t take it too seriously, and please make your own opinions! I just hope it helps you make a more informed decision about which milk to spend your precious money on and which one to recommend to your non-vegan pals!

    *My boyfriend Pete is the true vegan, I’m a bit part-time (don’t hate me) but getting there slowly.

    Method

    Appearance Test

    Each milk was shaken equally (10 times) before opening.

    Photos of each milk were taken under the same lighting conditions, in the same glass either on its own as the natural milk or as an addition to hot coffee.

    The coffee was made in one single batch and kept at a constant temperature throughout.

    For all kinds of milk, 60ml of room temperature (cold) milk was added to 200ml of hot coffee and an additional, 60ml of warm milk (heated in a Nespresso Aerochino) was added to a separate 200ml of hot coffee to determine if warming the milk had a positive or a negative impact on appearance.

    Appearance was then rated out of 10 following the below criteria:

     Score Appearance (Cold) Appearance (Warmed)
    1 – 3 The milk separates or curdles from the coffee and looks unappetising The milk separates or curdles from the coffee and looks

    unappetising

    4 – 6 The milk separates or curdles from the coffee slightly, but is still drinkable and has less of an effect on taste The milk separates or curdles from the coffee slightly, but is still drinkable and has less of an effect on taste
    7 – 10 The milk is stable in the milk and does not separate or curdle The milk is stable in the milk and does not separate or curdle and the milk is frothy and suitable for a latte with a nice foam

    Taste Test

    The resident vegan (Pete) was designated taster and sampled each milk (blinded) both at room temperature and as an addition to hot coffee. The taste was defined as a score out of 10, where 10 is the best-tasting milk and 1 is the worst. Pete’s criteria were based on flavour, texture, aftertaste, suitability in coffee (if relevant), but was completely subjective.

    Nutritional Analysis

    The nutrition of 100ml of milk was compared. The positive or negative implications of calories, energy, carbohydrate, protein and fat are subjective (some people may want higher calories or protein to help balance their diet, whilst other would want this to be low). So only essential vitamin levels (Vitamin D, B12, Calcium and omega 3) were assessed. The actual values were converted to a score out of 10 which was based on relativity between the milk.

    Test Subjects

    The milks in question were:

    IMG_20171105_121820.jpg

    • Almond (Sainsbury’s own)
    • Cashew (Alpro)
    • Coconut (Sainsbury’s own)
    • Hazelnut (Alpro)
    • Hemp (Good Hemp)
    • Oat (Oatly)
    • Oat Barista Edition (Oatly)
    • Rice (Rice Dream)
    • Soya (Sainsbury’s own)

    All unsweetened ‘original’ versions.

    Results

    Appearance Test

    Natural milks

    There were some observable differences between the kinds of milk, the colour varied slightly from white to beige, but consistency and texture were generally the same. The only exception was hemp milk, which did have some particulate or ‘bits’ in it.

    In hot coffee

    For each picture, room temperature milk is on the left and warmed milk is on the right. Warming the milk before adding sometimes helped to prevent curdling or separating (as with coconut, oat and hemp) but in some cases, it actually made this worse (as with Cashew and Soya). With Oat, soya, hazelnut and cashew, heating the milk in the aerochino (with the latte stirrer) created some texture or foam.

    Appearance (Cold) Appearance (Warmed) Appearance (Total Score)
    Oat Barista 10 10 20
    Hazelnut 10 9 19
    Almond 10 8 18
    Rice 10 8 18
    Hemp 5 8 13
    Cashew 8 2 10
    Coconut 4 6 10
    Oat 3 6 9
    Soya 5 1 6

    Taste Test

    Pete’s favourite milks as a natural milk were oat, hazelnut and cashew. Hemp and soya were his least favourite, with him specifying that the hemp milk left a bad aftertaste too.

    Taste (on own) Taste (in coffee) Taste (Total Score)
    Oat Barista 9 10 19
    Oat 8 9 17
    Hazelnut 8 7 15
    Cashew 8 7 15
    Rice 8 7 15
    Coconut 6 7 13
    Almond 5 8 13
    Soya 3 5 8
    Hemp 1 1 2

    Nutritional Values

    Per 100ml g g g g g g ug ug mg ug mg g g
    KJ kCal Fat Carbohydrate Protein Sugars Fibre Salt Vitamin B12 Vitamin D Calcium Vitamin E Vitamin B2 Omega 3 Omega 6
    Coconut 103 25 1.3 3.1 <0.5 1.6 <0.5 0.11 0.38 0.75 120 0 0 0 0
    Cashew 98 23 1.1 2.6 0.5 2 0.2 0.13 0.38 0.75 120 1.8 0.21 0 0
    Soya 136 33 1.9 <0.5 3.4 0.5 0.6 0.09 0.38 0.75 120 0 0.21 0 0
    Rice 210 50 1 10 0.1 7.1 0.1 0.38 0.75 120 0 0 0 0
    Hemp 112 27 2.7 <0.1 0.6 <0.1 <0.5 0.05 0 1.1 118 0 0 1 3.7
    Hazelnut 121 29 1.6 3.1 0.4 3.1 0.3 0.13 0.38 0.75 120 1.8 0.21 0 0
    Oat 190 50 1.5 6.6 1 4.1 0.8 0.11 0.38 1.5 120 0 0.21 0 0
    Almond 69 17 1 1.3 <0.5 <0.5 <0.5 0.22 0.38 0.75 120 0 0.21 0 0
    Oatly Barista 240 60 3 6.5 1 4 0.8 0.1 0.38 1.5 120 0 0.21 0 0
    Whole Milk (as comparison only) 268 64 3.6 4.7 3.2 4.7 0 0.1 0.4 0 120 0 0 0 0

    Vitamin Rating

    Hemp milk was the only milk to state the levels of omega 3 & 6. Omega 3 is difficult to obtain as a vegan [1,2] unless you eat lots of walnuts or chia, so this is good. However, omega 6 is abundant, especially in almonds, soya and cashew nut, which leads me to believe that these milks simply don’t put their omega 6 levels on their packets… Also, there’s no real need to take omega 6 supplements since most people in the Western world get plenty through a standard varied diet (even vegans) and in some cases, too much [3, 4, 6]. This is why I didn’t include it in the rating.

    Vitamin E, listed on the back of cashew and hazelnut milk, is also not really required since again, most people in the Western world get plenty in a varied diet as it’s found in almost all nuts and seeds, as well as spinach, broccoli and a huge range of foods [5, 6]. Could it again just be missing from the almond milk packaging? Again this is why it’s not included.

    I’d say the only real vitamins required in this list are calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D, which is why I based the scores on just these (and omega 3).

    Vitamin D is made when your skin is exposed to the sun. Applying even a suncream as low as SPF8 can prevent this mechanism and in the upper Northern hemisphere, winter especially can lead to vitamin D deficiencies [7, 8]. It’s one of the leading vitamin deficiencies in the UK [9] (and US) so a little extra of this always helps!

    Calcium is also something which UK people are likely to have lower levels of, but milk and dairy isn’t actually the best source [10, 11]… dark leafy greens, broccoli and even water [12, 13] are often better sources of calcium. Calcium taken together with vitamin D is usually recommended, so it’s probably most convenient drinking these fortified milks.

    Finally, vitamin B12 is another one on the low intake list [9] and is often linked to a vegan diet as B12 is only available naturally in dairy, meat, fish and poultry [14]. Fortified food or supplements are the only ways for vegans to get adequate B12 [15], so it’s no wonder the majority of plant-based milk alternatives fortify with B12. I’d like to point out here that hemp milk has no B12 present.

    Vitamin B12 Vitamin D Calcium Omega 3 Total Nutritional
    Oatly Barista 10 10 10 0 30
    Oat 10 10 10 0 30
    Hemp 0 7 9 10 26
    Soya 10 5 10 0 25
    Coconut 10 5 10 0 25
    Almond 10 5 10 0 25
    Cashew 10 5 10 0 25
    Rice 10 5 10 0 25
    Hazelnut 10 5 10 0 25

     

    Conclusion

    Best for a glass of milk

    Oat, Hazelnut or cashew milk. They have great tastes and subtle flavours.

    Best in coffee

    Oat (barista edition) or Almond. They stand up well in hot coffee and don’t curdle or separate. Oat has a more subtle flavour which enhances the coffee, but the almond can add it’s own flavour if you want something different.

    Best for nutrition

    Any of the milk. As you can see, most plant-based milk is fortified with the essential vitamins and calcium, usually the recommended daily allowance (RDA) so they are all very good for nutrition. Oat milk has additional vitamin D, which is great if you live in the UK where sunlight is rare in winter!

    Best for cereal

    Cashew, hazelnut or oat. Although not assessed directly here, milk which is best for drinking is the best for cereal.

    Best for baking

    Oat, almond, hazelnut or rice. These are the most heat stable and do not separate or curdle.

    Best all-round milk

    Taking into consideration cost, nutrition, suitability in coffee (which is how we drink our milk most often), taste in cereal and baking, oat milk is our outright winner. We would have gone for the oatly barista, but the price of this milk is quite high. Furthermore, warming oat milk before adding to coffee helps to eliminate curdling anyway…

    Further Comments on individual milk

    Almond

    Pale coloured, stable in hot milk with no separation. Tastes of Almonds (no shit) and the taste develops more in coffee. Tastes much better in coffee – and not warmed first. It also has the lowest calories if this is important to you.

    Cashew

    The colour is nice and the flavour doesn’t taste like nuts. Out of all the alternatives, this is the one which tastes the most like milk. It does ok cold in coffee, some separation, but curdles very badly when it’s heated up. Especially when left longer. It tastes better as its natural milk than in coffee.

    Coconut

    Coconut milk tastes and smells strongly of coconut, it’s white and has a thinner consistency than most other alternatives. It is pretty unstable in coffee, both cold and pre-warmed. It’s best to drink on its own.

    Hazelnut

    Hazelnut milk has the darkest colour and it very creamy with a distinctive taste. It holds up really well in hot coffee and when warmed goes nice and frothy,

    Hemp

    Hemp milk is our least favourite milk. It’s not completely smooth and often has bits in it. It has a strong taste, doesn’t stand up well in hot coffee and is high in fat.. It does have added omega 3, but that’s about the only benefit of this milk unfortunately… and I think vitamin B12 is probably more important than omega 3 for vegans and this is missing.

    Oat

    Oat milk is our favourite everyday milk as it’s great for coffee, cereal, drinking, foams well in lattes and works well in baking. The milk is off-white and has a creamy consistency. The downside is that, as a cold milk in coffee it separates quite badly, but when warmed, foams well and doesn’t curdle. It’s also higher in vitamin D which is great as D-deficiency in the UK is quite common, especially in winter.

    Oatly Barista

    Although more expensive than standard oat milk, even normal oatly, the addition of dipotassium phosphate (an acidity regulator) helps to prevent the milk from curdling or separating in coffee. It does not change the taste or appearance at all. It works find and is stable when it’s cold in hot coffee, but when warmed in an aerochino gets a tasty froth. Definitely worth the additional cost to make the best latte, although we usually wait until there’s an offer on and buy as much as we can carry for £1 a litre! The only downside is that it has the highest amount of calories, although still less than dairy milk.

    Rice

    Rice is another milk stable in hot coffee and in cooking, it doesn’t separate or curdle. although it isn’t the nicest tasting in a coffee, we find the best use for this milk is in baking and pancakes (or Yorkshire puds!). It’s flaw is that it’s relatively high in sugar, despite have no added sugar.

    Soya

    Soya milk is the most commonly available alternative milk out and about in cafes, bars and restaurants, but really, it’s not the best in terms of stability in coffee or cooking. Also, I find it has quite an acquired taste. It’s high in protein but that’s about it’s only positive in my opinon… I hope more places will start to offer more alternatives than just this.

  • Quick and easy Quorn korma (11/3/2017)

    This dish uses a meat substitute and was one of the first dishes I made vegan as it was just a simple substitute of chicken to Quorn. Whilst substitute meats aren’t the most healthy compared to fresh food, Quorn is not too bad. It’s relatively high in protein, low in fat and has a much lower impact on the environment than meat. Unfortunately, you can’t get away from the fact that it’s still processed food and its overall nutritional value is quite low per gram compared to say kale or quinoa. I personally think it’s great, especially if you are new to vegan and looking for some quick meal options to get you going – just substitute this in and that’s it…

    I also don’t really mind that it’s processed; I used to eat much worse things… For me, vegan isn’t about being healthy per se, it’s about not killing animals, and anything that helps you do that is a big plus in my opinion! One final thing to note, too much Quorn makes you very gassy  – all that mycoprotein! So don’t substitute every meal with it or your house will stink!! lol

    Here’s everything you need for the meal:

    IMG_20171102_174959.jpg

    • Bag of vegan Quorn
    • Red onion
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    • Carton of coconut cream
    • Cashew nuts
    • Oil
    • Cinnamon
    • Cardamon pods
    • Chilli flakes
    • Ground almonds
    • Tumeric
    • Jaggery (cane sugar)
    • Rice
    • Salt

    Step 1

    Get the rice on following my perfect rice recipe.

    Step 2

    Slice and fry the onions in a little oil, then add the Quorn pieces, some cashew nuts and a piece of cinnamon and fry until golden.

    Step 3

    Bash open some cardamom pods and discard most of the shells (keep some shells as the shells have a lot of flavour too). Add those to the pan along with some grated garlic and ginger, chilli flakes, salt, ground almond powder and turmeric. Fry for about 5 minutes.

    Step 4

    Add the full carton of coconut cream and mix in before adding some jaggery and mixing well. Simmer on a low heat for about 2-3 minutes.

    Step 5

    Serve and eat!

  • Perfect basmati rice, every time! (11/3/2017)

    A lot of my dishes are served with rice – I genuinely love rice, it’s cheap, easy and this recipe means it’s super tasty too!

    The recipe is also versatile as I’ll discuss at the end.

    Please enjoy!

    Ingredients:

    • Basmati rice – get some good quality rice, it makes a difference, honest!
    • Coconut Oil
    • Salt
    • Water

     

    How to:

    For 2 people use about 150g and measure out in a small beaker. Add this to some coconut oil and lightly fry the rice for 1 minute before adding an equal volume of water to the rice along with a pinch of salt. Pop a lid on the pan and cook the rice on a high heat until the water comes to a boil (about 2 minutes), then drop it down to a medium heat until almost all the water has gone (about 8 minutes). At this point stir the rice, turn the hob off and leave the lid on for the rice to steam until ready (about 2-5 minutes). The whole process takes about 12 minutes, but I think it tastes nicer after ‘resting’ for a bit in the steam so I leave about 15-18 minutes to cook it.

     

    See, super easy, if you’re making more rice, that’s fine, just measure it out and add the same amount of water as rice.

    Note: I never wash my rice, I don’t see the point. If there are any bacteria floating about, they’re just about to get boiled at 100 degrees for 10 minutes. Plus, I read a lot about this and the majority of people say a lot of nutrients are in the rice dust.

    If you want to spice up the rice, it’s really easy to do, here are some inspirations:

    Cumin rice

    Add some cumin seeds to the coconut oil before adding the rice and fry for a few minutes, then add the rice and fry for another few minutes before adding an equal volume of water and completing the steps above.

    Coconut rice

    Add some coconut cream to the measuring beaker – the more you add, the more strong the coconut flavour will be, then top up to an equal volume with water before adding to the fried rice.

    Dill rice

    Once the rice is cooked, stir in some chopped dill.

    Pulau rice

    Fry some cumin, coriander, cardamom, fenugreek and any other seeds you like in the coconut oil. Then add some ground turmeric and fry quickly before adding the rice to fry for a few minutes, then the water.

  • How to make the most of your pumpkin: Vegan pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds and Jack o lanterns! (10/31/2017)

    How many times have you bought a pumpkin for Halloween for the sole purpose of scooping out the inside and chucking it away just so you could put a candle inside? I know I’ve done it too many times… But, no more! If you want to make the most of your humble pumpkin this year, this post is for you.

    A word of warning, not all pumpkins are equal. Cooking-pumpkins should be smaller than your standard carving-pumpkin. Like any squash vegetable, the larger it gets, the more watery and tasteless it becomes. So go for ones labelled either specifically for cooking or a little smaller.

    I don’t usually put a full recipe on my posts, but I think baking should be an exception, as accurate weights and measures make the difference! This recipe/post has 3 parts, the first is leading to a vegan pumpkin pie, the second, roasts the seeds for snacking and the third is carving the hollowed out pumpkin for decoration. However, they are all one and the same to some extent, so I’ll keep them together 🎃😁

    Here’s everything you need:

    For the pie pastry

    • 275g plain flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
    • 115g vegan butter spread
    • 75ml vegan milk (oat milk)

    For the filling

    • 2 cooking pumpkins (enough to make 500ml pumpkin puree)
    • 3 cloves
    • 250ml coconut cream (1 carton)
    • 100g light brown sugar
    • 50g cornflour
    • 3 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp allspice
    • 1 tsp ground almonds

    Step 1

    Make sure your knives are super sharp, I sharpened mine just before I started.

    Step 2

    Cut the top off your pumpkins.

    Step 3

    Remove the seeds and discard any ‘stringy’ pulp.

     

    Step 4

    Now cut with a sharp knife or scrap with a spoon as much pumpkin flesh from the inside as you can and place in a pan.

     

    Step 5

    Boil the flesh, with 3 cloves, for at least 20 minutes before blending and allowing to cool slightly.

     

    Step 6

    Meanwhile, make the pastry. Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix together the dry ingredients, flour, salt and sugar.

     

    Step 7

    Weigh out the chilled butter and then mix into the flour with the back of a fork.

     

    Step 8

    Once crumbly, add the milk and mix until just combined.

     

    Step 9

    Roll out on to a tea towel which is well dusted with flour.

     

    Step 10

    Grease and flour your dish and the transfer the pastry to the dish. Make a nice Crust and decorate with the back of a spoon.

     

    Step 11

    Combine all the filling ingredients together and blend with a hand blender briefly to combine.

     

    Step 12

    Pour the mixture into the pie. Decorate with pecans for some extra flavour.

     

    Step 13

    Bake for 50 minutes. After which the centre mixture will still be wobbly and wet. Remove from the oven and cool before chilling for few hours. But I found it tastes much better after chilling overnight.

    IMG_20171029_204540.jpg

    Step 14

    Serve on it’s own or with some vegan cream.

    IMG_20171029_204810.jpg

    Step 15

    Now rinse and wash the seeds I plenty of water. Spread evenly onto a baking tray and drizzle with oil and salt. Bake for 15 minutes at 180 or until golden. Cool and serve.

     

    Step 16

    Carve your hollowed pumpkins and place a tealight inside! I decided to try a two-faced pumpkin, and Pete went for one a lot more elaborate than mine!

     

    IMG_20171029_205300.jpg

    Please let me know how you find this recipe!

    Happy Halloween!!

  • Possibly the easiest vegan pizza ever… (10/26/2017)

    For us, pizza is fast convenience food. Something we used to order in a takeaway on Monday night (Game of Thrones pizza and beer night!). Just because we are vegan now doesn’t mean I don’t want Monday night pizza… It also doesn’t mean I want to slave away in the kitchen making pizza dough, letting it rest, keeping it warm and rolling it out.

    This concept keeps the pizza quick, easy and convenient, whilst also allowing us to choose our own toppings, most importantly, vegan cheese.

    And on the topic of vegan cheese, if you want an honest review of vegan cheeses available in the UK, that’s a post Pete and I are currently working on 😉

    The concept is simple; I buy premade pizza bases, often available in the fridge section of a supermarket. I know the Sainsbury’s bases are definitely vegan. I then buy a pre-made tomato sauce (usually whichever one is on special offer that week), some tasty toppings and cheese. The pizzas take about 5 minutes to assemble and then about 10 minutes to cook. That’s faster than any delivery!

    Here’s everything you need to make this particular pizza:

    • Sainsbury’s pizza bases
    • Tomato sauce (jar is usually the best flavoured, just make sure the recipe is definitely vegan and has no sneaky dairy in it)
    • Mixed antipasto (artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, olives)
    • Vegan pesto
    • Sainsbury’s free from coconut based alternative to cheese, cheddar style
    • Olive oil
    • Chilli
    • Spinach

    I’m hoping the steps are self explanatory… But let’s go over them briefly anyway 🙂

    Step 1

    Spread some olive oil over the crust of the pizza. We like the crispiness and extra flavour it gives.

    Step 2

    Spread out tomato sauce as a base.

    Step 3

    Arrange the antipasto on the pizza (Pete’s not a fan of olives or sun-dried tomatoes, so I get all those, I trade them in so he gets most of the artichokes and peppers). Add some dollops of pesto as well as sliced chilli.

    Step 4

    Grate over lots of cheese, the cheesier the better, especially since vegan cheese doesn’t stand up to heat quite as well. We also add a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.

    Step 5

    Cover with spinach and Bake for 10 minutes or until done.

    Step 6

    Serve and eat (with hummus :D).

  • Tarka Daal (10/16/2017)

    This dish is one I don’t often make as a main course, but usually as one of several dishes in a thali (a plate of rice and several curry dishes). However, it is definitely tasty enough to be a solo showstopper, so here it is in all it’s glory…

    Tarka Daal literally means ‘fried lentils’ but it’s actually not the lentils which are fried. They are simmered in stock seasoned with spices until soft. The “fried” bit refers to onions and spices which are fried and added to the daal before serving.

    Ingredients:

    • Soaked chana daal (split chickpeas) (I usually soak in cold water in the fridge overnight)
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    • Chilli
    • Tumeric
    • Ground ginger
    • Curry powder (or fresh curry leaves)
    • Vegetable stock cube
    • Red onions
    • Mustard seeds
    • Cumin seeds
    • Coriander seeds
    • Cardamom pods (green)
    • Salt
    • Oil
    • My perfect rice!

    Step 1

    Rinse the lentils in fresh water and prepare the garlic and chilli (save 1 clove of garlic for later).

    Step 2

    Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the daal, garlic, chilli, tumeric (2 heaped tbsp), ground ginger (1 heaped tsp), curry powder (1 heaped tsp), a vegetable stock cube and a generous pinch of salt. Reduce the heat and simmer with the pan lid on for about 30 minutes.

    Step 3

    Prepare the rice as described here.

    Step 4

    For the tarka, thinly slice the onions and grate or finely chop the garlic and a small piece of ginger.

    Step 5

    For the spice mix for the tarka, firstly remove the cardamom seeds from their pods. Then toast the cardamom, coriander and cumin seeds in a dry wok.

    Step 6

    Once toasted, grind the seeds to a powder either in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.

    Step 7

    In the wok, fry the onions in some oil for about 5 minutes. Add some black mustard seeds and fry for 3 minutes, then add the garlic, ginger and spice mix and fry for a further 3-5 minutes.

    Step 8

    By now the daal should have cooked for 30 minutes and be soft, use the back of the spoon to crush some of the lentils and the garlic and ginger.  Add the tarka to the daal and mix in.

    Step 9

    Serve and eat!

    This dish also works well with a roti or chapati, which I hope to add a recipe for soon! 😉

  • Meat-Free Balls in Tomato Sauce with Tagliatelle (10/9/2017)

    This dish is extremely tasty and simple to do. It’s a dish of mainly vegan substitues which means it might not be the healthiest in terms of processed food etc. But it is ideal for someone transitioning to vegan cooking. Or for someone reluctant to change because of their love for cheese… The dish is very

    The dish is very cheesey and, for those who live in the UK, very easy to source ingredients as the vegan cheeses sold in the chain “Sainsbury’s” are genuinely delicious. For us this is a real comfort food. The level of skill varies meal to meal. Most of the time I make my tomato sauce from scratch, but since the jar featured here was on special offer for 75p (you can’t buy tomatoes that cheap!) I used that. On weekends I may also make my own pasta, pesto or garlic bread, but after a busy day working, dried pasta and a jar

    The level of skill varies meal to meal. Most of the time I make my tomato sauce from scratch, but since the jar featured here was on special offer for 75p (you can’t buy tomatoes that cheap!) I used that. On weekends I may also make my own pasta, pesto and/or garlic bread, but after a busy day working, dried pasta and a jar or pesto is good enough!

    Ingredients:

    • Meat free meat balls
    • Dried tagliatelle (fresh often contains eggs)
    • Red onion
    • Red pepper
    • Chilli
    • Garlic
    • Tomatoes (fresh, jar or tinned)
    • Tomato puree
    • Pesto
    • Cream cheese alternative
    • Oil
    • Salt and pepper
    • Cheese alternative (to serve)

    Step 1

    Pop the meatballs in the oven as instructed on the packet.

    Step 2

    Boil a pan of water with some salt and oil before adding the pasta. Reduce to a medium heat then simmer for 12-15 minutes. 

     

    Step 3

    Whilst the water is boiling, prepare the vegetables; chop the onion, pepper and chilli and grate the garlic.

    Step 4

    Fry the onions in a hot pan with oil for 3-5 minutes. Add in the pepper, chilli and garlic and fry for another 3-5 minutes. Add the jar of tomatoes, puree and a tsp of pesto. Allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes.

     

    Step 5

    Stir in the cream cheese and turn to a low heat.

    IMG_20171009_193456.jpg

    Step 6

    By now the meatballs should be cooked so take them out of the oven and mix into the tomato sauce. The pasta should also be ready so drain and cover with a little oil and black pepper.

     

    Step 7

    Serve and enjoy with or without a cheese alternative grated over!

    Such a comfort food! And it makes fantastic leftovers, I always do enough for both our lunches the next day! Mmmm!

  • Tofu and Broccoli Stir Fry (10/9/2017)

    This dish is probably the most simple vegan meal I do. It also happens to be my Boyfriend Pete’s favourite so we have it very regularly! We love the fresh, steamed broccoli texture with a subtle flavour that enhances the vegetables. It’s also very nutritious with tofu being a great protein source and broccoli providing essential vitamins and minerals. It’s also very good value for money, but if you wanted to splash out you could add more exotic vegetables.

    Ingredients:

    • Firm tofu
    • Broccoli
    • Red onion
    • Red pepper (optional – we just had one that needed eating)
    • Mangetout (optional – we just had some that needed eating)
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    • Chilli
    • Soy sauce
    • Rice vinegar
    • Sugar syrup (carob syrup)
    • Oil
    • Basmati rice

    IMG_20171008_185227.jpg

    Step 1

    Get the rice on following my recipe here.

    Step 2

    Whilst the rice is cooking, prepare the tofu by pressing out most of the water and cutting into good-sized chunks. Fry this in a fair amount of oil – I prefer to fry in a grapeseed or groundnut oil.

    IMG_20171008_185809.jpgIMG_20171008_190726.jpg

    Step 3

    Whilst the tofu is browning, prepare the veg: slice the onions, red pepper, chilli and mange tout and grate or finely dice the garlic and ginger – I have a small josephjoseph tool which grates them. Also prepare the brocolli by cutting into small florets.

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    Step 4

    Once the tofu has browned and gotten a little crispy, add the onions for about 3-5 minutes, then add all the rest of the veg and fry for 3-5 minutes (apart from the brocolli). Once everything has fried off, add the broccoli, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp syrup (or more to your taste) and 1 tbsp water. Pop a lid on the wok and steam for about 5-7 minutes or until the broccoli is done.

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    Step 5

    Serve and eat!

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    As I said, this dish is nice and simple and that’s why we love it. If your broccoli is fresh then it will be the star of the show and strong flavours can overpower it. However, if you fancy spicing it up a bit more why not try adding:

    • 5-spice powder to the tofu,
    • Marinated tofu (marinated overnight in soy, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, chilli),
    • Sweet chilli sauce,
    • Thai curry paste and/or coconut milk,
    • More exotic veg – bok choi or pak choi, Chinese broccoli, choy sum, Chinese water spinach etc.
  • An Introduction to Plant-Based Cooking (10/8/2017)

    So when I met my boyfriend Peter at Christmas in 2015, we were both oblivious meat eaters. Peter decided to turn vegetarian not long after I met him for animal welfare and ethical reasons. I supported him in this and instantly changed all my cooking habits and stopped buying meat completely. I must admit that it took me a while to transition. Although the change was instant, to learn new skills in the kitchen and increase my recipe repertoire took some time – and a while eating mainly meat substitutes – but I love a challenge and gladly accepted it…

    About one year ago today, after a year of vegetarian enlightenment, Peter made the decision to live completely animal-free and start eating a plant-based diet. I again fully supported him in this and although I do sway from this when outside the home, our fridge and cupboards are 100% plant-based.

    Once again I was faced with a new challenge, especially in terms of baking, but over the last year we have both adapted our habits and now vegan cooking at home is pleasurable and instinctive.

    This post will be continually updated with a variety of different meal options which I will add separately in individual posts with more detail and basic recipes. I don’t want to post full recipes in terms of perfect weights and measures, because I believe that cooking is a personal endeavour and requires flexibility and intuition to suit a meal to your personal tastes.

    I hope you can use my posts as inspiration in your own cooking! Enjoy!