Since discovering a few months ago when I made my courgette and broad bean soup with chilli and fennel, how wonderful chilli and fennel is as a combination, they’ve been added to most of my soups. Obviously (to me, anyway) chilli goes with everything and, although fennel isn’t to everyone’s taste, give it a go – just don’t add too much as it’s not a subtle flavour.
Carrots. Flipping carrots. I’m not a fan of carrots (except those ones in a tin – I know, I’m common as muck), so whenever I get carrots in my veg box delivery, they usually stay in the fridge until they go floppy, then they go in the compost bin. I did make some vegan carrot cupcakes a while back but, as I’m trying to cut down on junk food at the mo (not helped by being sent a hamper of Ten Acre crisps), I didn’t want to make them again just yet. Soup is always a great way to use up leftover vegetables but if I didn’t really like carrots much, would I like them in a soup? I decided to find out and I can now confirm that carrots make a perfectly acceptable soup. Especially when you add lentils and some spice. As always, I blitzed this soup to silky perfection with my Froothie blender. I know I’ve said it before but this blender really has transformed my soup into something special, and I’ve been making soup for years.
Vegan cheese and onion crisps? Surely the stuff of myth and legend? But, no, they actually exist, thanks to Ten Acre Crisps. I’d heard about these crisps but never got the chance to try any as they’re not widely stocked in bricks and mortar shops. According to myth and legend though (okay, various vegan Facebook groups), they’d been spotted popping up now and again Loch Ness Monster stylee in TK Maxx but on a visit to my local store, I returned empty crisp-handed.
The first time I had a massaman curry was in a Thai restaurant in Ashford. I was happily tucking away, thinking how gorgeous it was, when I saw a massive lump of beef sticking out of it. Obviously, I stopped eating it and told the staff, who apologised and offered to make me another – meat free – one but, unsurprisingly, I’d gone off the idea of eating. That wasn’t the first time I’d found meat in a meal:
A steakhouse isn’t a vegetarian’s natural environment and I usually also steer well clear of ‘family friendly’ restaurants but, when the Malta Inn in Maidstone asked me to review their newly-refurbished Beefeater restaurant, I thought, ‘Well, I’m sure I won’t starve, so why not?’ It would also give me a chance to see what a Beefeater is like now as I hadn’t been to one in about thirty years.
I love sprouts. Not those overcooked slimy green things you were forced to eat at Christmas as a child, but the sprouts you can grow yourself from seeds, grains and pulses, such as alfalfa and chickpea. Not only are they deliciously crispy and crunchy and a great way to liven up a salad, they’re also stupidly good for you. For example, did you know the nutritional value (including the protein, fibre and vitamin content) of a seed, grain or pulse is improved when sprouted? There are also loads of other benefits to them – read this article at Living and Raw Foods for more information.
So, why not grow your own sprouts – it’s cheap, easy, and, despite what you might think, there’s no need for any special trays or equipment (says she who does indeed have a special sprouting tray).
I have a confession to make. I like – nay, love – those pizza subs you get in the supermarket for £1. Although the ones I buy in Tesco only have ‘normal’ ingredients that you’d find in a pizza you’d make yourself from scratch (wheat flour, tomato purée, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, water, yeast, salt, rapeseed oil, sugar, dried herbs, dried garlic and spices), I can’t help thinking that something in a packet that costs so little can’t be the healthiest of choices. So, I decided to make my own pizza subs but on a panini instead of a baguette and with fresh homemade vegan mozzarella adapted from the moxarella recipe at Vedged Out.
My friend Jacqui (who I interviewed here and who wrote about her stay at Jacob’s Ridge/The Pig Village here) mentioned the other day how much she and her family like the Tesco Free From Soya Medium Cheese. Although there are almost as many opinions on vegan cheese varieties/makes as there are actual vegans, I took her recommendation in good faith, especially as she’s the only vegan in her house. I mean, if dairy-cheese eaters like it, it must be good, right? Wrong. Really wrong. So wrong I immediately unfriended her and asked her for the package of chocolate orange I gave her back, even though I hate chocolate orange (this isn’t actually true (the unfriending bit, that is – the ‘I hate chocolate orange’ is most definitely true) and she’s probably eaten the chocolate already anyway).
This is a sponsored post
There’s a misconception that dairy-free spread tastes weird. I’m not sure why people think this – I mean, yes, it’s not quite as rich and creamy as full-fat dairy butter but it’s usually made with plant oil and there’s nothing weird about that. Flora Freedom is a new dairy-free spread that tastes the same as the regular spread in the Flora range but is suitable for vegetarians, vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. Made from rapeseed oil and sustainable palm oil, it contains 60% less saturated fat than butter and is free from artificial preservatives, colours and flavours. And you can do whatever it is you do with the dairy Flora: frying, baking, spreading, or just eating straight from the tub (really? You do that? Ick).
My friend Jacqui (who I did a Q&A with about becoming vegan last year) spent a week volunteering at Jacob’s Ridge (better known as The Pig Village) and you can read all about it here. Thanks, Jacqui!
My week at Jacob’s Ridge (or Excuse me Miss, but there appears to be a pig trying to get in my tent)
Early last summer, when I was a relatively new vegan, I posted on a vegan Facebook group asking if fellow vegans could suggest suitable food that I could cook while camping in Norfolk. One of the responders, Lynn, told me to forget Norfolk and instead to get myself over to a place called Pig Village, an animal sanctuary based at Jacob’s Ridge in Southern Spain. This vegan idyll offered opportunities to volunteer with the day-to-day care of the animals, sleep in a glamping style bell tent and eat lashings of home prepared vegan cuisine. I didn’t need to be told twice, so I contacted Jacob’s Ridge for more information and, when the dates were announced in September for the upcoming summer season, I was one of the first in the queue to book.