Black-Eyed Bean and Red Pepper Stew

quick-cook-vegetarianThe Quick Cook Vegetarian cookbook is a bargain. Not only did it only cost me about £4 including postage from amazon, each recipe is accompanied by a full-colour photo and each recipe only takes 30 minutes to prepare. And if 30 minutes is too long for you, each recipe also has two other versions of it that take only 10 or 20 minutes.

Last night I made the Creamy Courgette Orzo Pasta (which I didn’t take a photo of) and I’m looking forward to trying out the recipes for

Smoked Cheese, Pepper and Spinach Quesadillas
Asparagus and Udon Stir-fry
Deep-fried Beer-battered Halloumi
Aubergine and Harissa Saute

amongst many others. I haven’t been so impressed with a cookbook for ages.

Tonight I made the Black-Eyed Bean and Red Pepper Stew which was cheap, quick, easy, super-healthy and delicious.


Black Eyed-Bean and Red Pepper Stew (says serves 4, but it’s more like 6)

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 celery stalks, diced (I left these out)
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1 cm pieces
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into 1 cm pieces
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I left this out)
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato puree
75 ml vegetable stock
2 x 400g tins black-eyed beans in water, drained
4 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves, plus extra to garnish (I left this out)
salt and pepper
cooked basmati rice, to serve

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and place over a high heat.
  2. Add the shallots, garlic, celery, carrot and red pepper and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until lightly starting to brown.
  3. Add the dried herbs, cumin, cinnamon, tomatoes, tomato puree and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook gently for 12-15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Stir in the black-eyed beans and cook for 2-3 minutes or until piping hot.
  5. Season well, remove from the heat and sprinkle over the chopped coriander. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with basmati rice.
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Really Interesting Food Co: Spanish Chickpea Casserole

Eating a casserole for lunch seemed a bit much but I had been to the gym for two hours this morning and was hungry. Like yesterday’s tin of pea soup, before heating it up, I sniffed it (I don’t have a fetish for sniffing things in tins, honest). It smelt tomatoey. According to the tin, it contained chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, water, red pepper, green pepper, olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and herbs and spices. Nothing scary there, then (except maybe the unspecified herbs and spices; why can’t they say what the herbs and spices are? Still, better than mystery meat, eh?)

This can be microwaved for 5 minutes or heated on the hob for 7 or 8 minutes. I poured it into a bowl (it’s a bit lumpy for a mug, it is a casserole after all) and put it in the microwave. The casserole was mostly chickpeas (it is the first ingredient in the list, so this was to be expected) with a few lumps of red and green pepper and had a pleasant tomatoey taste with a chilli kick. I really enjoyed this although I would call it more of a hearty soup than a casserole.

The Spanish Chickpea Casserole costs around £2 for a 400g tin, contains 200 calories per tin and is vegetarian and vegan.

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Free & Easy Organic Green Pea Soup

Pea soup. Sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? It does to me, anyway. Still, it was free, so I thought I’d give it a go.

I opened the tin and had a sniff. It smelt like peas. I suppose it would really, but I wasn’t expecting it to. I heated it up in the microwave (on checking the instructions I was surprised to see that it was quicker on the hob but I didn’t want to wash a saucepan) and had another sniff. It didn’t smell of peas anymore, it didn’t really smell of anything.

I had a taste. Pea soup is fantastic, why didn’t anyone tell me this before?! The taste is hard to describe (probably because I am rubbish at describing tastes), kind of earthy without a strong taste of peas. The texture was fine – not thin and watery, but just right and perfect for someone like me who likes to drink soup out of a mug so I have a hand spare for mousing around the internet.

Free & Easy Organic Pea Soup costs around £1.40 and is available from major supermarkets and health food shops. It’s vegetarian and vegan and contains 96 calories per 400g can (which apparently is 2 servings, unless you’re like me and have the can to yourself). For more information, visit

I am now a pea soup convert. Can pea soup be made from frozen peas?


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Provamel almond milk and oat milk

I’ve been drinking soya milk for years, after giving up moo juice. Never having been brave enough to try anything other than soya milk, I was pleased when I was asked if I’d like to review Provamel’s new almond milk and oat milk.

provamel_oat_milkNot being a fan of marzipan, I wasn’t in any rush to try the almond milk so I tried the oat milk first. Pouring it into a mug, I was surprised at the beige, almost brown, colour. Not milk-like at all in colour, although the texture was creamy and milk-like. I brought the mug up to my nose and sniffed it. It smelt nice, the same as soya milk. On its own, it tasted sweeter than soya milk but this didn’t alter the taste of the hot chocolate I made with it.

provamel_almond_milkNext I tried the almond milk. This was the colour you’d expect milk to be, but when I poured it, it was thin and watery (although this may be because I didn’t shake the carton enough). I boiled some of the almond milk to make hot chocolate and it left a lot of scum in the saucepan, although the taste was fine.

If you fancy a chance from soya milk, I’d recommend the oat milk (if you can put up with the colour).

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Tideford Organics Soups

tidefordTideford Organics aren’t a wholly vegetarian company, but out of their six varieties of soups, five are vegetarian and four are vegan. They also produce a range of vegetarian sauces, puddings and jellies.

I tried five of their soups and they were all fresh and delicious (even the carrot and coriander one, which isn’t a combination I usually like) and heated up in their pots after just a few minutes in the microwave. The soups are designed to be drunk on the go and have a cardboard sleeve that keeps your hands from burning. The cardboard sleeve is removable, so you could use the pot for something else, after you’ve drunk the soup (might be best to wash the pot first).

Tideford Organics’ products are mostly sold to independent retailers but some of their range can be found in Sainsburys, Tesco or Waitrose.

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Tweet for a cheap eat!


Over the next four weeks, innocent will be giving away veg pot offers and discounts a-plenty. What the discount actually is will be completely in your hands: the more people that tweet, the cheaper you eat.

As the number of people who tweet #tweetandeat increases, the discounts will too – whether its veg pots for a pound, half price, or even completely free, there will be all sorts of offers available to download.

Collective buying power is where it’s at. So get your friends, workmates, that bloke sat next to you on the bus tweeting now to push up the Tweet-O-Meter and get more discounts.

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Natur Boutique Lotus Green Tea

lotusteaThe man who sent me the ‘beyond minging’ artichoke tea (I’m not entirely sure that phrase will be going out in their future marketing materials but it certainly should be their slogan), also sent me a box of Natur Boutique Lotus Green Tea, which is said to aid relaxation. After almost gagging on trying the artichoke tea, I was a tad nervous about trying the green tea. Searching the box for any sign of strange ingredients, e.g. turtle’s anus (which probably tastes like artichoke tea), all appeared to be ok, and on the assumption that they can’t f**k up green tea, gave it a go. And no, they haven’t f***ed it up. It’s a perfectly pleasant green tea. In fact, I’ll even go as far as saying it’s really rather nice.

On the packet they suggest that you drink a cup of it 2-3 times a day 15-20 minutes before eating for 20 days. I’m assuming they don’t mean eat non-stop for 20 days. They also say this on the box of Natur Boutique Diet Green Tea Blend they also sent [review to come soon]. If drinking a cup of tea means you can eat non-stop for 20 days, then I would suggest Natur Boutique only impart this information to a select few, otherwise there’ll be a stampede of chubsters breaking into their head office to loot their entire stock on their way back from Greggs.

And they wouldn’t want that to happen now, would they?

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Natur Boutique Artichoke Tea

artichoke_teaI got sent some Natur Boutique Artichoke Tea to try.

It was beyond minging.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting a mouth full of artichoke flavoured hot water. I poured it down the sink and made myself a nice mug of hot chocolate instead.

If anyone ever offers you a cup of artichoke tea, just say no.

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Giveaway: Vegan Cookbook – The Essential Guide


Vegan Cookbook - The Essential Guide

Vegan Cookbook – The Essential Guide by Isabel Hood is a new addition to the Need2Know range of books.

Comprising seven chapters, the first two chapters cover an overview and background of veganism, along with a checklist of ingredients every well-stocked vegan store-cupboard should contain and a list of essential equipment.

The next five chapters contain the recipes under headings of:

Fruit and vegetables
Pulses and grains
Nuts, seeds and oils
Fresh herbs
Chilli and spice

I haven’t tried any of the recipes myself yet, but a few that caught my eye as I went through the book are:

Middle Eastern Pitta Bread Casserole (this sounds fantastic – like a lasagne, but with toasted pitta bread layered with spicy, tomatoey chickpeas)
Turkish Stuffed Artichokes
Beaumes de Venise Jelly with Grape and Banana Salad
Butter Bean Ramen
Polenta with Sweetcorn, Roasted Tomatoes, Olives and Capers
Recipe for basic nut cheese or mayonnaise
Pasta with Spiced Cashew Sauce
Walnut and Olive Pâté with Fresh Fig Chutney
Spring Vegetable Laksa
Baked Mushrooms Florentine
Sicilian Aubergine Rolls
Roasted Aubergine with Satay Sauce
Sweetcorn in Chilli and Chocolate Sauce
Wild Mushrooms Tacos
Chili Bean and Potato Turnovers

There are many, many more recipes in this book and I’m looking forward to trying them. All the recipes use fresh ingredients and don’t rely on meat substitutes. Measurements are UK friendly (in grams, tsps and mls, etc.) and, as far as I can see, all the ingredients are widely available, although there are plenty of tips and guidance for ingredients you may not be so familiar with (i.e. Vege-Gel).

The giveaway

I’ve got one copy of Vegan Cookbook – The Essential Guide to give away. All you need to do is leave me a comment and I’ll (well, an internet random number generator will, anyway) randomly choose one lucky winner.

Competition ends 9 September 2011
UK entries only

Good luck!

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Innocent Piri Piri Veg Pot

Innocent asked me if I wanted to try out their new veg pots and this morning a courier delivered to me a big box containing four to try, including their brand new Portuguese red pepper piri piri veg pot and a sneak preview of their Thai sweet chilli veg pot that launches in April.

Also in the box was a hessian bag containing fresh thyme and parsley plants (which can be put into an empty veg pot with some more compost and left on a sunny windowsill [remembering to water them every now and then], four wooden forks and some purple napkins with white polka-dots.



Each pot has a cardboard sleeve wrapped around it with heating instructions and on opening today’s pot of choice which was the Innocent Piri Piri Veg Pot, saw a serving suggestion of ‘try adding some cooked prawns’.



According to the card that also came with the veg pots, since January their entire rage of Innocent veg pots has the Vegetarian Society’s special stamp of approval. The one I opened didn’t display the special stamp of approval, so I’m assuming that when it does, it won’t suggest serving it with a dead prawn or two.

I heated up my veg pot in the microwave as instructed (you can also heat it on the hob but it recommends it to be heated in the microwave: saves on washing up, too) and had a peek in the pot. Cubes of potato mingled with beans and red pepper in an orangey red sauce. I generally avoid cubed potatoes after an unfortunate experience involving some Bombay potato consumed a few years ago, but I won’t go into that now.

On the cardboard sleeve, it says it’s spicy. There was a hint of paprika but no real spiciness and definitely no chilli kick. Then again, I haven’t got much of a palate, and would definitely fail Masterchef’s taste test.

On the whole, it was fresh and tasty and not like a microwaved ready meal at all (apart from the fact it is a microwaved ready meal, obviously).

Recommended if you’ve forgotten your packed lunch and need something tasty, quick and easy to eat in the office (although I’m not a fan of people eating hot food in offices but I work alone at home and can stink the place out as much as I like).

Nutritional bit:

Naturally low in fat
300 calories
3 portions of your daily veg
High in fibre
Source of protein

Suitable for vegetarians and vegans (if you don’t follow their serving suggestion)

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