I ate my first ploughman’s lunch last year. I’d seen other people with them on numerous occasions and they looked interesting – all that picky stuff to eat looked right up my street. Whenever I saw it on a menu though I always swerved it for a hot meal instead because who the flipping flop goes out to eat a bit of bread and cheese and pickle? Then one day last year I thought I MUST HAVE A PLOUGHMAN’S and off in search of one I went.
While flicking through my Easy Vegan cookbook, I came across a recipe for Smoky Hotpot of Great Northern Beans. It looked tasty in the photo and the ingredients were all easily available so I thought I’d give it a go and make it as a change to the stew I usually make. Although this hotpot was nice enough, I’ve got to admit I prefer my usual one.
I’d never heard of great northern beans, so I used butter beans instead. There was also a stick of celery in the original recipe, which I left out because I’m not keen on cooked celery. Scooped into hummus, yes – cooked, no.
I served the hotpot with dumplings and crusty rolls.
Vegan Smoky Bean Hotpot Recipe
- 1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 medium potatoes, diced
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 500ml vegan stock
- salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened
- Add the garlic and paprika and fry for 2 minutes
- Add the carrot, potatoes and red pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to coat the vegetables in the oil
- Add the stock and beans and bring to the boil
- Reduce the heat and partially cover with a lid
- Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked
- Season with salt and pepper
Veganuary Day 25
Lunch – Vegan chickpea ‘tuna’ mayo wrap with salad
For lunch, I made some vegan chickpea ‘tuna’ mayo and had it in a wrap with salad. Chickpea tuna is simple to make – just mash up a tin of chickpeas with a potato masher or fork, mix in some vegan mayonnaise, along with some torn up bits of nori (dried seaweed) and season with salt and pepper. How much mayo and nori you add is down to how unhealthy (mayo) and how fishy (nori) you like it.
Veganuary Day 19
I’ve been slacking off my breakfast Nutriblasts recently and the 19th of Veganuary was no exception. A side effect of slacking off breakfast means hunger kicks in mid-morning and today when the munchies kicked in, my healthy choices got pushed aside in favour of the vegan cake that’s on the kitchen worktop.
Even I don’t have cake for lunch though, which was a Warburtons Thin filled with spinach, cucumber, olives, tomatoes and sundried tomato paste.
Vegan Haggis Stuffed Pepper Recipe
For dinner, I made a vegan haggis stuffed red pepper. I’ve made these a couple of times before, although I can’t find any blog posts about them so the photos must have been bad – even for me.
I mixed the vegan haggis up with mushrooms and spinach but you can use whatever you fancy, e.g. leeks, tomatoes, onions, etc. I don’t add any spices or seasonings to Macsween’s haggis, as it’s tasty enough on its own.
I’ve seen on various vegan and vegetarian Facebook groups people saying they’ve bought Macsween vegetarian haggis in Sainsbury’s and Tesco. I haven’t seen it in either of those two supermarkets but I did find some before Christmas in Waitrose (it was by the cheese for some reason). My Facebook friend Cath tried making her own from this recipe in the Guardian but she said it was ‘horrible’, ‘impossible to eat’ and ‘cost me more in ingredients than if I’d just bought a Macsween veg haggis’.
- Olive oil spray
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 250g Macsween vegetarian haggis, chopped
- 50g mushrooms, chopped
- 2 red peppers, destalked and deseeded
- 2 large handfuls of spinach
- Lightly spray the peppers with the olive oil spray and put in an ovenproof dish and bake for about 20 minutes at 180C
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms for about 2 minutes
- Add the vegetarian haggis and fry for another 3 minutes
- Add the spinach and stir until wilted
- Stuff the peppers with the haggis/mushroom/spinach mixture and return to the oven, covered, for 20 minutes, uncovering for the last 10
Veganuary Day 20
As I was off on a walk this morning and there are rarely toilets at the start of the walks I go on, I didn’t want to fill myself full of liquid, so I didn’t have any breakfast (yes, I know there are other things than smoothies/Nutriblasts to have for breakfast but I can’t face solid food first thing). As it turned out, there were toilets at the start of the walk so I could have had a Nutriblast before leaving the house but I’d brought two Tribe Bars with me and had one of those on my arrival (I’d cycled 4.5 miles and been in a car for 35 minutes by then, so I was up to eating something).
After the 6.5 mile walk round Shorne Wood Country Park, a friend and I went into the cafe for a drink and something to eat. I studied the menu and wondered if the veggie sausages were vegan, before deciding I wasn’t hungry enough for a sausage sandwich anyway and diverting my attention to the flapjacky type things on the counter. As I picked up each one and studied the labels for dairy and eggs, I had an insight to how vegans must feel each time they go out to eat. I settled for an apple crumble slice type thing which stated clearly it was dairy-free and I couldn’t see eggs on the label (unlike on the other products they sold) and couldn’t think of anything else I should be looking out for and asked the girl at the counter if she had any soya milk. She didn’t, so I had to go without hot chocolate and have a fruit tea instead. What do hot chocolate drinking vegans do? Take a flask of vegan hot chocolate with them everywhere they go? I don’t drink tea or coffee. I drink hot chocolate. The cranberry and raspberry tea I had was very nice but I WANT HOT CHOCOLATE, DAMMIT.
Still, I never run out of hot chocolate at home (although since doing Veganuary, I’m buying about ten times the amount of soya milk I used to as the instant hot chocolate powder I usually use contains milk) and that’s what I had when I got in, along with the last of my vegan cake (Jacqui, if you’re reading this – thank you again for sending me the gorgeous vegan cake).
Fry’s Meat Free Crispy Prawns
I had planned to make a vegan aubergine and chickpea pasta dish for dinner but I was feeling lazy after the walk so I heated up the Fry’s Vegan Prawns I’d bought from Holland & Barrett a couple of weeks ago.
Part of me had wanted to try these meat free crispy prawns for ages, especially since Linda McCartney stopped making their fish-free prawns and scampi (sob) but, because 99% of the times I’d seen them mentioned on Facebook groups, people had said they’re more like chicken and nothing like prawns, the other part of me didn’t want to try them a) because they’re not cheap (they’re £3.99 in Holland & Barrett) and b) that’s a lot of money to pay just to be disappointed.
Now I’ve tried them I can tell you that no, they’re nothing like prawns and are definitely more chicken-like in texture but there is a slight prawn-like taste so, to put it succinctly – they’re like a prawny-tasting chicken. I’m not disappointed with them and if they were cheaper, I’d buy them. I certainly wouldn’t pay £3.99 for them but if you’ve got a money-off voucher for them like I did, they’re worth trying.
If you haven’t got a Holland & Barrett loyalty card, they’re worth getting. I thought I didn’t go into H&B very often but I keep getting discount vouchers sent to me, so I must spend more in there than I thought I did.
Two weeks of no dairy or eggs. Two weeks of no alcohol. Two weeks of exercising every day. And have I lost weight? NO, NOT A FUCKING OUNCE. Surely my diet hasn’t been that bad? Okay, so I’ve had a few Oreos over the last couple of weeks and a mug of hot chocolate every day but what about the four thousand calories I haven’t drunk in wine and the four thousand calories I’ve burnt off at the gym, huh? DON’T THEY COUNT FOR ANYTHING?
Oh well, maybe this is my body’s way of telling me I’m perfect as I am and don’t need to lose any weight.
I’ll just keep telling myself that.
Veganuary Day 15
Anyway, back to my Veganuary food diary. Yesterday I had wheat grass for the first time. Have you tried it? If you have, you feel my pain. If not, I can tell you it’s not quite as bad as spirulina and doesn’t taste as grim as it smells but the taste lingers afterwards and is as difficult to get rid of as LinkedIn notifications. If you can get over the taste though, it does give an instant energy boost.
On Thursday, I told you I’d planned to go to Caffè Nero and get a hot chocolate with soya milk and hopefully one of their vegan houmous and falafel wraps. My luck was in – there was a houmous and falafel wrap left, I didn’t get a funny look when I asked for hot chocolate with soya milk and there was even an empty table in the corner in which I could go and hide and read my Kindle. Result.
After last week’s success in making tofush to go with my chips from the chippy, I made it again last night. For some reason, the nori didn’t want to stay on the tofu this time and fell off while I was dredging the tofu in batter but that didn’t ruin it. Here’s the photo from last week and if you want the recipe, it’s here in last week’s post.
So, that’s two weeks of Veganuary done. I’m not tempted to eat cheese but I’ve got to admit my resolve when it comes to wine is weakening. And it is Saturday now, after all…
First, I need to share with you the vegan tofush and chips (also known as tofish) I made last night – it was so amazing (even if I do say so myself). As Friday night is chippy night and I usually have battered halloumi, I thought, as it’s Veganuary, I’d just have chips but then I thought why don’t I try and recreate the tofush from the Coach & Horses in Soho and have that with chips from the chippy? If you haven’t a clue what I’m on about and haven’t heard of the Coach & Horses in Soho or their famous tofush and chips, you can read my review of London’s first vegetarian pub here.
This tofush isn’t for the squeamish – the use of nori (sheets of dried seaweed) gives it a distinct fishy flavour so, if you don’t like the taste of fish, leave the nori out. But if you want an authentic fish-in-batter taste, leave it in and tell yourself it tastes of the sea.
Just in case making tofush wasn’t proof enough of my genius, I further excelled myself and made my own vegan tartar sauce by mixing together some vegan mayonnaise and pickle relish.
You may be wondering how I managed to go to the chip shop and make tofush at the same time. Even I’m not that much of a genius and I made the tofush while The Meat Eater was at the chippy, keeping it warm in the oven until he got back.
I’ll share the recipe for the vegan tofush below but I’ll just give a quick run through of what else I ate on Veganuary Day 8.
Yes, it’s the same as I’ve had for the last week – a spinach, apple, clementine and chia seeds Nutriblast. I’ve bought some raspberries now so I’ll be having a different breakfast Nutriblast soon. Get me and my impulsiveness.
A gloriously healthy lunch, knowing dinner was going to be a full-on pig-out. This Nutriblast contains banana, kiwi fruit, strawberries, blueberries and soya milk.
As usual, I spent some of the day drinking hot chocolate and eating Oat Flips and Oreos.
Recipe: Vegan Tofush
- ½ block firm tofu, pressed and sliced in half
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ sheet nori, cut into two (so you have two strips of nori)
- 30ml water
- 30ml soya milk
- 60g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- salt and pepper
Oil for deep-frying
- Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice and salt in a bowl/tupperware dish and marinade the tofu in it for a few hours (or minutes if you forget to do it earlier).
- Whisk together the ingredients for the batter in a bowl.
- Heat the oil for deep-frying (test it's hot enough by dropping a bit of batter into it - if it sizzles, it's ready).
- Meanwhile, wrap the strips of nori around the tofu and secure it with a toothpick or two (just remember to remove them after frying!)
- Dredge the nori-wrapped tofu in the batter and deep-fry for two to three minutes, until golden.
After seeing someone posting this on one of the vegan Facebook groups I’m a member of, I really wanted to make them. There’s quite a lot to it – it’s not something you’re going to whip up in a couple of minutes – but it’s mostly seasonings and the method isn’t difficult at all.
I don’t think we can get Old Bay Seasoning here in the UK, so I found this recipe on the internet which can be made up and used in its place:
Old Bay Seasoning
2.5 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp cayenne
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp thyme
I halved the recipe for the crab’less cakes, cooked two of them, and froze the rest. The nori sheets give it the ‘fishy’ taste and they make a great alternative to the usual ‘meaty’ stuff.
You can find the recipe for the Gentle Chef Maryland Crab’less Cakes on his website.
As the title says, I might as well call Vegan Monday, Junk Food Monday. Or move Vegan Monday to another day – a day when I can actually be bothered to cook something, rather than just see what there is in the freezer to heat up and serve with chips and beans.
Before I get on to what I had with my chips and beans though, let’s go back a bit. Remember last week I realised I hadn’t actually been vegan for any of my Vegan Mondays as my lip balm wasn’t vegan? Even the one I’d got from VegFest? Well, I solved that little problem by popping into Lush after university one day and got myself a little tub of None of Your Beeswax. Problem solved, yay!
So, what did I do this morning? Yeah, got up, brushed my teeth, put on some lip balm … from the bathroom cabinet … which wasn’t vegan, dammit! I’m going to have to buy pots of these to put everywhere although at £5.75 a pot, that’s going to make Vegan Monday quite an expensive challenge.
Anyway, on to dinner. I’d picked up some of Redwood’s (or whatever they’re called now) Fishcakes that I hadn’t had before.
I’d actually wanted some of their fish steaks, that I love, but Holland & Barrett didn’t have any, so I thought I’d give these a go. They were crispy and had a subtle fish flavour that wasn’t artificial or overpowering – I’ll definitely have them again.
Er, yes, they were served with chips (Tesco jacket wedges, to be specific) and baked beans.
Next Monday, I’m going to try harder not to a) use lip balm containing beeswax; and b) eat chips and baked beans.
Pinkie left a comment on a recent post to say Linda McCartney had stopped making their Fish Free King Prawns. I heard rumours on Twitter and Facebook but Linda McCartney didn’t deny or confirm these rumours. So, I emailed them and got this reply:
“Thank you for your recent email and your patience in awaiting our response.
Unfortunately we do not make the Linda McCartney Fish Free King Prawns anymore, this was due to falling rate of sales.”
What a shame – after twenty years, I was able to have ‘prawn’ sandwiches again and no other veg*n food manufacturer makes anything similar. I can understand a company discontinuing a product if it fails to sell well, but it doesn’t seem like the prawns have been around long enough to give them a chance.
Oh well, we’ve still got the scampi. I will cry if they stop making the scampi. [UPDATE: Linda McCartney has stopped making the scampi too. Sniff.]
It was only a little bit of chilli, I even took the seeds out. That didn’t stop The Meat Eater being a complete wuss and sniffing throughout his dinner though.Well, you know what they say: ‘if you can’t stand the heat, make your own dinner’.
If you can stand a tiny bit of heat, make this curry, it’s fab. I adapted this one-pan prawn & tomato curry from the BBC Good Food website and substituted the dead prawns for some Linda McCartney Fish Free King Prawns.
Still on the hunt for prawn recipes, last week I made this prawn laksa from the BBC Good Food website. I substituted the prawns for Linda McCartney Fish Free King Prawns and used vegetarian stock instead of chicken stock.
I’ll have to admit, it was too thin and watery for me and I did end up straining most of the liquid off before I got to the end of the bowl. The taste though, was fantastic and I’ll definitely be making it again – I just won’t pour so much liquid into the bowl.
I bought a slow cooker last week and a Thai green curry is slowly cooking as I type this. I’ll post the results later.