Vegan Carrot Cupcakes

Vegan carrot cake cupcakesIf you’re one of the tens of thousands of people who receive a weekly vegetable box delivery, you probably spend a lot of time wondering what to do with carrots.

I’ve blitzed them in smoothies, dunked them in hummus, and mushroom pate, cooked them in stews and bologneses but most of the time, because they go limp quickly, a lot of them end up in the compost. Last week after yet again receiving a big bunch of carrots, I decided to do something more ‘carroty’ with them and use them as the basis for something, rather than just added to something to simply use them up.

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Two Ingredient Rhubarb Compote

two-ingredient-rhubarb-compote

I said to The Meat Eater, ‘I’ve got rhubarb coming in the veg box next week’. He said, ‘oh noooooooo, I forgot to tell you there’s rhubarb in the garden’. Having a load of rhubarb is all very well, but what the flipping flop was I supposed to do with it? I knew you weren’t supposed to eat it raw, so I couldn’t juice it or put it in a smoothie, and a rhubarb crumble seemed too obvious. But other than a smoothie and a crumble, I couldn’t think of anything. Then I remembered enjoying the berry compote I’d had when I tried out the Bodychef vegetarian diet plan last year and looked for some rhubarb compote recipes.

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Carrot, Apple & Swiss Chard Smoothie

Carrots, Swiss chard and apple

I took part in a big cycling event over the weekend (although I should probably confess the lure of the train station just half a mile away was too strong and I wimped out of the second day) and, as I was away from home, my diet consisted of carbs, carbs and more carbs in the form of pizza, pasta and flapjacks. I have absolutely no problem with any of these essential food items but after three days of it, man, was I craving some good old fruit and veg.

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Asparagus and Swiss Chard Soup

asparagus-chard-soup

Asparagus season in the UK doesn’t last long – traditionally beginning 1 May and lasting for seven to eight weeks – and although you can buy it imported throughout the year, it just feels more right to be eating it in spring, when the UK crops are harvested. I received asparagus in my veg box delivery last week and usually I enjoy it simply steamed and served as a side vegetable but, as I was away all weekend, it didn’t get used as soon as I would have liked and as it was starting to go a bit limp, I made soup with it, along with some Swiss Chard that also came in the box.

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Courgette & Broad Bean Soup with Chilli and Fennel

Courgette and broad bean soup with chilli and fennel

I’ve made the best soup in the world. Yes, it sounds a bold claim to make but I truly believe this vegan courgette and broad bean soup is the nicest soup I’ve ever had. I used up the courgette and broad beans I had left over in my veg box and to spice it up a bit, I added some chilli and fennel which totally brought the soup to life, giving it a taste not dissimilar to Thai green curry.

If you like a smooth soup, you can fully blend it, or leave it chunky and just blend some of it, as I’ve done here. Blending some of it gives it a wonderful creamy taste and texture without adding extra calories from cream or cashews. As usual, I blended it in my Optimum G2.1 blender – I really can’t recommend this blender enough; it’s revolutionised my soup-making.

By the way, a few weeks ago I bought a big bag of frozen crushed garlic from Asda for 97p. It’s great – it’s 100% garlic and so convenient to have in the freezer on standby in case you’ve run out of fresh garlic (I should probably confess I haven’t bought any fresh garlic since buying this frozen garlic, it’s that good).

5.0 from 3 reviews
Courgette and Broad Bean Soup with Chilli and Fennel
 
Prep time
Cook time
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Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 125g broad beans
  • 1 courgette, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • Chilli powder to taste
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until the onion is soft
  2. Add the sliced courgette and fry for another couple of minutes
  3. Add the broad beans, stock, fennel seeds, chilli powder and season with salt and pepper
  4. Bring to the boil and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the courgette and broad beans are cooked
  5. Pour a third of the soup into a blender and blend on high speed, then return to the pan and warm through

Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if purchased through, won’t cost you any more but will earn me a small commission. I only endorse products I am happy with and I have not been paid for this post. For more information about the Optimum G2.1 blender mentioned in this post, you can read my review here.

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Homemade Almond Milk – Just Two Ingredients!

Homemade almond milk

Since switching from non-vegan instant hot chocolate to vegan not-instant-but-worth-the-tiny-extra-bit-of-time-it-takes-to-make-it (not its official slogan) Cadbury Hot Chocolate, I’ve been through a lot of soya milk. While I don’t believe the scare stories about soya being bad for you and if you eat or drink it you’ll grow an extra head or whatever the latest rumour is, I still like to make my own versions of shop-bought products when I can because a) they’re purer; b) I get to use my kitchen gadgets; and c) it gives me something to write about on this here blog.

Going back to ‘b’ for a moment, when I received my Optimum G2.1 high powered blender, one of the first things that came into my head to use it for was nut milk, especially as it came with a nut milk bag and the blender itself has a pre-programmed setting for nut milk.

Froothie Optimum G2.1 blender touchscreen

Nut milk bag

I had a nose around the internet for an almond milk recipe and a lot of them involved dates and vanilla and stuff, so I decided to make my pure almond milk purely out of almonds and water – nut milk doesn’t get any simpler than this. As you’ll know, almonds aren’t cheap, so this almond milk isn’t as cheap as a carton of almond milk you can buy in the shops but you can keep the almond pulp to use in other ways, so there’s no wastage. And in case you’re thinking, ‘I bet the nut milk bag is a pain to clean’ – it’s not. I thought it would be but it’s not like muslin/cheesecloth and it rinsed clean in a bowl of soapy water in a few seconds and if you haven’t got a nut milk bag, you can get one on Amazon for a few quid.

Homemade Almond Milk - Just Two Ingredients!
 
Prep time
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Author:
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 750ml
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
  • 3 cups water
Instructions
  1. Put the almonds and water in a high speed blender and process on high for 2 minutes (or if you have an Optimum G2.1, choose the 'nut milk' option in the menu.
  2. Strain through a nut milk bag, keeping the pulp for another use and store the milk in the fridge
Notes
If the almond milk is too bitter for you on its own, you can sweeten it with a couple of dates and/or a tsp of vanilla extract. Also, you can soak the almonds in hot water for an hour or two instead of overnight if you're in a hurry.

This almond milk is lovely in hot chocolate – just be prepared to be asked ‘how do you milk an almond?’ if you tell your friends you made it.

 

Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if purchased through, won’t cost you any more but will earn me a small commission. I only endorse products I am happy with and I have not been paid for this post. For more information about the Optimum G2.1 blender mentioned in this post, you can read my review here.

 

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Green Lentil and Chilli Hummus

Green lentil hummus with garlic and chilli

Riverford sent me some celery. I don’t hate celery, per se, but I don’t like it cooked in stews or anything like that and I certainly don’t want to make a soup out of it and I don’t really like it raw in salads either. As far as I can see, celery’s only role in life is to be an edible spoon for hummus. Which, as roles in life go, isn’t a bad one – in fact, it’s to be commended, but I didn’t have any chickpeas with which to make the best hummus in the world ever so I was stuck with celery and nothing to eat it with.

So, as I knew I had a tin of green lentils, I pondered on Twitter whether green lentil hummus was a thing.

and received this reply from my Twitter friend, Healthy Hornett

and I reckoned she (actually, I have no idea if it’s a girl or boy Hornett so, if you’re reading this, @healthyhornett, sorry for assuming you’re a she) was right and, after promising to report back, I went off and made some green lentil hummus.

Well, two days later I did, anyway. And, do you know what? Green lentil hummus is most definitely a thing and an excellent alternative to the more traditional chickpea one.

I made this hummus in my Optimum G2.1 blender which whizzed it into smooth and creamy hummusy perfection in a minute but if you haven’t got a high powered blender, you might want to add a bit more olive oil to help it along.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Green Lentil and Chilli Hummus
 
A gorgeous alternative to the more traditional chickpea hummus
Author:
Recipe type: Vegan
Ingredients
  • 1 390g tin green lentils, drained
  • ½ cup (150g) tahini
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 whole dried chilli
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until everything's combined
  2. Add the olive oil and process until smooth

For other alternatives to chickpea hummus, try this beetroot and cannellini bean dip from Fuss Free Flavours, or Tin and Thyme’s smoky red pepper dip and chive guacamole.

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Easy Homemade Lemonade

homemade-still-lemonade

There’s a local cafe/bistro I go to regularly and although I always order the same meal (portobello mushroom in a bun with blue cheese, wedges and salad), my drink order is always different. Sometimes I fancy a hot chocolate, sometimes I’ll have a glass of wine or a bottle of Peroni and sometimes I have their homemade lemonade. Their homemade lemonade is lovely but because it’s so lovely, it doesn’t last long as you can’t help but drink it quickly. As I was drinking some the other day, I pondered how much it cost them to make (they sell it for £1.95 a glass) and decided it probably didn’t cost much and I’d make some myself. Now, before you get all narky and but-you’re-not-just-paying-for-the-ingredients-you’re-paying-for-someone-to-make-it-and-someone-to- bring-it-to-you-and-then-there’s-rent-and-rates-and-wages-and-stuff-to-pay-for; yes, I agree with you and I don’t begrudge them their £1.95; I just wanted to make some for myself. Which is what I did, and very nice it was too.

And in case you are wondering how much it cost to make over a litre of homemade lemonade – a pack of four unwaxed lemons in Tesco is £1.50 (I used 3 so that’s £1.12 [I think]) and a 500g bag of caster sugar is 99p and the water came out of the tap. I tried to work out how much the sugar cost per gram but my maths is so shit, I couldn’t even work it out on a calculator – so, if you can work out how much 140g cost if 500g is 99p, please let me know.

Froothie G2.1 Optimum High Powered Blender
Froothie G2.1 Optimum High Powered Blender

Although my blender (the Froothie G2.1 Optimum) did its thing and whizzed up the lemons, sugar and water beautifully, there was a bit of pulp leftover, which I threw away, despite a voice in the back of my head telling me I could probably use it in a cake or something. You could also, I suppose, leave it in, if you like your lemonade with ‘bits’ in.

Honestly, this lemonade is so simple – you really should give it a go.

Homemade lemonade

Homemade Lemonade
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 1 litre
Ingredients
  • 3 unwaxed lemons, unpeeled and roughly chopped
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 litre cold water
Instructions
  1. Add the lemons, sugar and half of the water into a blender and process thoroughly
  2. Strain the mixture into a bowl and top up with the rest of the water

 

*Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if you purchase through, won’t cost you any more but will earn me a small commission. I only endorse products I am happy with and I have not been paid for this post.
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Easy Vegan Tinned Tomato and Basil Soup Recipe

Vegan homemade tinned tomato soup recipe

Aah, tinned tomato soup. Or, more specifically; aah, Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup. Everyone loves cream of tomato soup, don’t they? I have it when I’m ill, when I’m hungover and it was all I could face when my house got burgled a few years ago (well, soup and alcohol, anyway). In fact, it’s more of a comfort blanket than a soup, really. I suspect it’s because I don’t see tomato soup as an ‘everyday’ soup, I don’t make homemade tomato soup very often and, if I do, it’s usually ‘tomato and something’, rather than just tomato.

But I had a few tins of chopped tomatoes taking up room on the kitchen worktop, so I decided I’d make a homemade tomato soup. I wasn’t expecting it to turn out like Heinz because mine would be a vegan version and therefore it wouldn’t contain any cream. I’d thought about thickening it with cashews but, thanks to my Froothie Optimum G2.1 high powered blender, it turned out beautifully creamy and smooth without needing to add any thickeners (I know it doesn’t look silky smooth in the photo but, trust me – it is).

You could, for a creamier taste, replace half the stock with soya milk (or dairy milk if you’re not fussed about it being vegan), but I don’t really think it’s necessary and I only swirled on a bit of soya milk for a prettier photo.

A cheap, creamy, comforting bowl of soup; even if you don’t need comforting.

Vegan homemade tinned tomato soup recipe

Easy Vegan Tinned Tomato and Basil Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A cheap, creamy, comforting bowl of vegan tomato soup
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 500ml vegan stock
  • A few basil leaves, torn
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan
  2. Add the onion and garlic and fry for about 5 minutes, until soft
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and stock, then season to taste with the salt and pepper
  4. Stir through and simmer for 10 minutes
  5. Add the basil, stir through and transfer to a blender and blend until smooth

*Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if you purchase through, won’t cost you any more but will earn me a small commission. I only endorse products I am happy with and I have not been paid for this post.


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