Strawberry and Coconut Energy Bars

strawberry-coconut-flapjacks

I took part in a 78-mile cycling event yesterday and, although I’d bought a Bounce Energy Ball and a Clif Bar to take with me, because I’ve got a bigger cycling event coming up in a couple of weeks and a) shop-bought products are expensive (the Bounce Energy Ball was £1-something and the Clif Bar was a smidge under £2); and b) I wanted to try a variety of different energy bars to see which I liked best, I wanted to make some of my own.

These strawberry and coconut energy bars are based on this Sunshine Bars recipe and they got me happily through 63 miles of cycling. I then had the Clif Bar, felt sick and abandoned the last twenty miles of the ride and got the train home instead. There’s something to be said for the ‘never try anything new on race day’ advice. But if you want something homemade with the right nutrients to get you through a long sporting event (don’t confuse protein bars with energy bars – protein bars contain a high amount of protein and are best after exercise to help repair the muscles, whereas energy bars contain a high amount of carbohydrate to fuel your muscles during exercise), these bars are for you. They taste amazing, too. I used dried strawberries from Urban Fruit because their dried fruit contains fruit and nothing else. I was shocked a few weeks ago after buying a bag of dried cranberries, to find out that cranberries were only about 40% of the ingredients.

Unfortunately, they’re not vegan, as most rice crispies contain Vitamin D, which is made from lanolin – a secretion from sheep skin, found in wool (and now I’ve just typed ‘a secretion from sheep skin’, I feel as sick as if I’d just eaten another Clif Bar) and I also bunged in a bag of Munchy Seeds honey-roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds that I had lying around in the fruit bowl that never contains fruit. However, vegans need not despair – after finding out that all major supermarkets’ own rice crispies contain Vitamin D, I’ve found a vegan-friendly brand: Kallo Organic Wholegrain Breakfast Puffs, that you can get from Ocado or Holland & Barrett.

Strawberry and coconut energy bars

Strawberry and Coconut Energy Bars
Recipe Type: Energy Bars
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 9
Ingredients
  • 50g dried strawberries or other dried fruit, chopped
  • 50g porridge oats
  • 25g puffed rice cereal
  • 40g desiccated coconut
  • 25g cashews or other nuts, chopped
  • 25g sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 60g Golden Syrup
  • 50g butter or spread
Instructions
  1. Mix the fruit, oats, cereal, nuts, seeds and coconut into a large bowl and mix well
  2. Gently heat the sugar, syrup and butter/spread in a saucepan until the butter has melted, then simmer for a couple of minutes
  3. Stir the syrupy mixture into the dry mix and combine thoroughly
  4. Tip into a 8″ square tin and press down firmly (I do this by putting a piece of baking paper over the mixture, then rolling a tin backwards and forwards on top of it)
  5. Bake in the oven at 180C for about ten minutes, or until lightly browning at the edges
  6. Leave to cool, then put in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up
  7. Cut into 9 pices

 




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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.

Green Lentil and Chilli Hummus
Recipe Type: Vegan
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
A gorgeous alternative to the more traditional chickpea hummus
Ingredients
  • 1 390g tin green lentils, drained
  • 1/2 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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My Sugar-Free Challenge

I wouldn’t say I have much of a sweet tooth. If someone offered me a cake or a bowl of olives, I’d rather have the olives. But I’ve seen recently a trend for people saying they want to give up sugar and there are even ‘experts’ such as Sarah Wilson, who can help people give up the white stuff.

But is sugar really that bad and if it is, is it really so hard to give up, you need ‘experts’ to teach you how? I didn’t think it is, so when Benenden asked me if I’d like to join in their sugar-free challenge to help promote their sugar-free hub, I was more than happy to oblige because a) I didn’t think I ate much sugar; and b) I love a challenge.

So, below is a kind of diary of what I ate and – if applicable – what I usually would have had on a normal ‘not bothered about looking out for sugar to avoid’ day.

Sugar-Free Breakfast 

Hot water with lemon

Well, breakfast was never going to be hard to be sugar-free as, although there was a time when I was a five-teaspoons-of-sugar-in-tea kind of girl, I haven’t drunk tea for years and I’ve never drunk coffee (bleurgh) and my hot drink upon waking is always hot water and lemon.  Before anyone pipes up with ‘but fruit is full of sugar – you’ve failed already, loser’, as far as I’m aware, going sugar-free doesn’t mean giving up something perfectly healthy like fruit. So there.

smoothie-collage

Just as I haven’t drunk sugar-laden tea for years, I also grew out of eating sugary breakfast cereals topped with more sugar when I was about ten years old. Nowadays, my breakfast is a smoothie and today’s one was frozen mixed fruit, dried golden berries, acai powder and water. It did occur to me that sugar might be added to the packeted fruit and powder but, hooray, no added sugar. No added anything, in fact. If you haven’t tried golden berries before, please do – they make a great tangy addition to smoothies, or you could add them to flapjacks, energy bars, etc.

Sugar-Free Lunch 

Vegan tomato soup and ciabatta

Lunch was going to be slightly more tricky than breakfast as I’d made mushroom jerky the other day that I’d been having in wraps for lunch. No problems with the mushrooms, obviously, but I’d marinated them in Reggae Reggae Sauce which I thought was bound to contain sugar and, upon inspection of the label, saw I was right. No Reggae Reggae for me that day, dammit.

Never mind, I thought – I can have some of the tomato soup I made the other day, that’ll be sugar-free. But – woah, hang on, what about the stock? They put all sort of things in stock – they put milk in some vegetarian stocks, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find sugar in them too. It was fine though – no sugar in the stock. Oh, but then I thought, surely there must be sugar in the tinned tomatoes I used? But still, no sugar there either. My tomato soup was a sugar-free zone. Phew.

How about the ciabatta and Vitalite I wanted with it though? None there either – ha, this sugar-free thing is a breeze.

Sugar-Free Drinks

Hot chocolate made with raw cacao and almond milk

Okay, so obviously my homemade lemonade that I still had in the fridge wasn’t sugar-free – it’s made with just three ingredients, which are lemons, sugar and water – but apart from my beloved hot chocolate, I usually only drink water throughout the day, so cold drinks weren’t a problem. But, what about the aforementioned beloved hot chocolate? I didn’t even have to read the label to know that that would have sugar in it, so what was I to do? Go cold – or should that be hot chocolate – turkey? Na. I’d make my own with raw cacao powder instead. Sorted.

Although I couldn’t see sugar listed on the ingredients for the soya milk I usually use, I decided to make my hot chocolate extra pure by making it with homemade almond milk. Yep, maximum hippy level reached.

Homemade almond milk

Sugar-Free Dinner

Sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, egg-free, courgette and carrot burgers

Luckily, Wednesday is Riverford veg box delivery day, so I had a box full of veg with which to make a healthy, sugar-free dinner. Faced with courgettes and carrots, I made courgette and carrot burgers and served them with purple sprouted broccoli and new potatoes. Because I made them with chickpea (gram) flour, I got a bonus ‘free’ in, as they’re gluten-free as well as sugar-free. Actually, they’re full of ‘frees’, as to give them their full title, they’re wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and sugar-free (this may explain why The Meat Eater said they didn’t taste of much).

As a condiment freak, I don’t usually have ‘dry’ burgers, but tomato ketchup contains sugar, so that was out. The Mayola mayonnaise in the fridge didn’t contain any sugar but at the time I didn’t think courgette and carrot burgers would go with mayo – not when they’re spiced with curry powder, anyway. On reflection though, it probably would have gone well. Ho hum.

Sugar-Free Snacks

I’m not going to lie. I missed my after-dinner mint and I spent the whole of the evening wanting a bit of chocolate or a biscuit or something sweet, so maybe sugar isn’t as easy to give up as I originally thought and it is addictive as ‘they’ say?

As challenges go, this one was easy but, then again, I only did it for a day. Some people give up sugar for life and I’m not sure that would be so easy.

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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
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegan
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
A cheap, creamy, comforting bowl of vegan tomato soup
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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Wild Garlic and Cauliflower Soup Recipe (Vegan)

It’s spring, therefore it’s wild garlic season, hooray! Ha, who am I kidding? I’d never even seen wild garlic before some arrived in my Riverford box this week and if you’ve never seen it either, it looks like this.

Wild garlic

Wild garlic (also known as ‘bear’s garlic’, ‘devil’s garlic’, ‘gypsy’s onions’ and ‘stinking Jenny’) has a milder taste than its bulby counterpart and grows – as you’ve probably guessed – wild, in forests and, as you can see, it’s the leaves that are eaten, not the bulbs.

Wild garlic can be eaten raw in salads or wilted in butter and used like any other leafy green vegetable. Because I’d also received a cauliflower in my veg box, I decided to make a vegan wild garlic and cauliflower soup and very nice it was too. It turned out a beautiful pale green colour (admittedly, it looks slightly like Angel Delight but don’t let this put you off) and, thanks to my new Froothie Optimum G2.1 Platinum Series high powered blender (review coming soon), velvety smooth and creamy. If you haven’t got a high powered blender (I definitely recommend one though; I’ve never had such a smooth soup in my life), you could use a hand blender instead.  This is a thick soup so if you like it slightly thinner, just add a bit more stock. Despite the thickness though, it’s a fresh, light soup; perfect for spring.

Wild garlic and cauliflower soup

Wild Garlic and Cauliflower Soup Recipe
Recipe Type: Vegan
Cuisine: Soup
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
A thick, velvety smooth vegan soup.
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 head (about 400g) cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 50g wild garlic, shredded
  • 750ml vegan stock
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion for about 5 minutes, until soft
  2. Add the cauliflower, wild garlic, stock and season to taste
  3. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender
  4. Transfer to a blender and process until smooth
Wild garlic and cauliflower soup nutrition facts
Please note the nutritional information above is approximate and will vary depending on your own ingredients

For more wild garlic recipes, check these out from my fellow food bloggers:

Wild Garlic Pesto Two Ways – by Tin & Thyme
Cheese and Wild Garlic Scones – by Thinly Spread
Sweet Potato, Wild Garlic and Spinach Soup – by Munchies & Munchkins
Wild Garlic Tattie Scones – by Foodie Quine




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Gousto Recipe Box Review

Gousto recipe box

Gousto recipe boxes are different to the Riverford recipe boxes you might have seen me review here and here. They’re different because not only do you get to choose which recipes out of a changing choice of ten (not all vegetarian) you want to cook that week instead of having them chosen for you, but you can also choose whether to have two, three or four recipes a week, and whether you’d like them to serve two or four people.

Gousto asked me if I’d like to review a box and, well, you know me – I never say no to free food, so here’s my thoughts on what I received.

It took me a while to choose two out of the four vegetarian options; I almost went for a creamy mushroom pasta dish, but then I remembered that although the Meat Eater loves cream, mushrooms and pasta, he hates creamy mushroom pasta dishes, so that was off the menu. I can’t remember what the other dish I discounted was but I was happy with my choices of melty mushroom burger and the spinach and veggie mince lasagne.

My box of food turned up on schedule, with the products that needed to be in a fridge, wrapped up in a wool bag. I don’t know why, but these wool cool bags make me as squeamish as I would be if my food arrived inside an actual sheep and not just its coat.

Gousto recipe box

As is usual with recipe boxes, the food is accompanied by a recipe card, with a list of ingredients, step-by-step instructions and a photo of how it should turn out, if you don’t mess it up too much. All the ingredients are measured out for you and clearly labelled so you don’t get your basil mixed up with your spinach. One of the good things about having everything separate is then you can leave out what you or someone you’re cooking for dislikes – in my case, I left out the olives as the Meat Eater doesn’t like them.

Gousto recipe box melty mushroom burger

Ingredients for the melty mushroom burgers in the Gousto recipe box
Ingredients for the melty mushroom burgers

Gousto recipe box melty mushroom

We both enjoyed these melty mushroom burgers (portobello mushrooms, topped with mozzarella and served in a warmed ciabatta roll), accompanied with roasted potatoes and salsa for which the ingredients were also provided. The quantities provided were perfect for two people and this is a dish I’ll definitely be making again.

Gousto recipe box spinach and veggie mince lasagne

Ingredients for the spinach and veggie mince lasagne in the Gousto recipe box
Ingredients for the spinach and veggie mince lasagne

Gousto spinach and veggie mince lasagne

Gousto spinach and veggie mince lasagne

I thought the next dish – spinach and veggie mince lasagne – was a bit of an odd choice for a company that prides itself on fresh, organic produce. Veggie mince is usually regarded as a processed food so it’s not something I’d expect to be included but there’s nothing to complain about this tasty dish, and it’s definitely the first time I’ve had Henderson’s relish and baharat in a lasagne. In fact, it’s the first time ever I’ve had Henderson’s relish and baharat (a spice mixture used in Middle Eastern cuisine). Gousto didn’t provide the flour, butter or milk for this and I wasn’t sure why this was. Considering other chilled ingredients came in a cool bag, couldn’t the butter and milk be provided too? That’s just a slight quibble and, again, this made a perfect amount for two people and would even serve three or four if you served it with vegetables and garlic bread.

Gousto recipe box subscription service

Gousto recipe boxes work on a weekly subscription basis – you place your order three days before your preferred delivery date each week but you’re not committed to receiving a box each week, so if you want to skip a week for whatever reason or you want to cancel your subscription altogether, you can do this at any time. Gousto boxes cost:

  • 2 recipes for 2 people – £27.49 per week
  • 2 recipes for 4 people – £41.99 per week
  • 3 recipes for 2 people – £34.99 per week
  • 3 recipes for 4 people – £51.99 per week
  • 4 recipes for 2 people – £41.99 per week
  • 4 recipes for 4 people – £59.99 per week

but when you take into account their convenience and how much you’d spend on ingredients just to use a bit and have the rest languish in a cupboard (although I said I’ve never had Henderson’s relish before, I’m assuming you can’t just buy 1 tbsp of it) they’re not bad value, in my opinion.

For more information on Gousto’s recipe boxes, visit the Gousto website.

Gousto provided me with a recipe box to review. All opinions are my own.

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Vegan Pinto Bean Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Vegan pinto bean stuffed pepper

This vegan pinto bean stuffed peppers recipe is loosely based on the Chillies Stuffed With Beans recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s vegetarian cookbook River Cottage Veg Everyday! Although Hugh’s version would undoubtedly be better than mine, his recipe involved grilling and peeling chillies and there is no way I could ever be arsed to a) peel a chilli pepper; or b) stuff something that small, so I bunged a couple of peppers in the oven and stuffed those instead.

The pinto bean stuffing is pretty much the same as Hugh’s except I left out coriander and cumin because I’m not keen on coriander and every time I use cumin, The Meat Eater says it tastes of farts and I wasn’t in the mood for any stupid talk like that (by the way, in case you’re wondering, The Meat Eater is 44, not 4).

I loved the bean filling in these peppers – it’s not dissimilar to baked beans in tomato sauce – and I also thought it would make a good sandwich filling. The Meat Eater didn’t enjoy it as much as I did but I think he was in a moany mood as he also complained about having a green pepper and not a red one (even though I offered to swap) and said the peas were too chewy.

Next time, I’ll tell him to rearrange this sentence: dinner your make own fucking

Vegan Pinto Bean Stuffed Peppers Recipe
Cuisine: Vegan
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 red or green peppers, deseeded
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 150g tomatoes, halved
  • 400g tin pinto beans (or other beans of your choice)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Put the peppers on a baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes at 200C until tender and the skin is slightly browning
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the shallots and garlic for a couple of minutes, until soft
  3. Grate the tomatoes into the pan, and discard the skins
  4. Remove from the heat, add the beans and lightly mash with a fork, leaving plenty whole
  5. Add the paprika and season with salt and pepper
  6. Stuff the bean mixture into the peppers and return to the oven for another 20 minutes

 

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Riverford Recipe Box Review & Giveaway

Back in November, I reviewed Riverford’s vegetarian recipe box. The meals were tasty, quick to prepare and didn’t create much washing up, so when Riverford asked if I’d like to try another recipe box, I wasn’t about to turn it down.

Along with Riverford’s usual recipe boxes are boxes created by guest chefs. The latest chefs to be featured are twins David and Stephen Flynn, who own The Happy Pear shop, cafe and restaurant in Co. Wicklow, and it was this recipe box Riverford sent me to review.

The ingredients for the Mexican leek and black bean chilli
The ingredients for the Mexican leek and black bean chilli

As with all Riverford recipe boxes, everything you need is sent to you in one big box – all the fresh, organic, seasonal vegetables, tinned goods (tomatoes, beans, coconut milk, etc.), with all the herbs and spices pre-measured. Recipe cards with preparation and cooking time and step-by-step instructions are included. You really can’t go wrong with a recipe box.

Happy Pear Mexican leek and black bean chilli
Happy Pear Mexican leek and black bean chilli

The first recipe I made was a Mexican leek and black bean chilli. The recipe card said it would take me 25 minutes to prepare and cook and as I had a cold and really couldn’t be bothered to cook anything, it sounded perfect.

This vegetarian (it had honey in it, otherwise it would have been vegan) chilli was definitely a good choice for a lazy day as it didn’t require much more than a bit of chopping then chucking everything in a pan and letting it simmer for a bit. It made far more than two servings – I served the chilli on top of jacket potatoes and there was enough left over for another two servings.

Happy Pear Spanish chickpea and potato bake
Happy Pear Spanish chickpea and potato bake

I must have been feeling livelier the next day as according to the recipe card, this vegetarian (easily veganised by leaving out the honey and cheese) Spanish chickpea and potato bake with sundried tomato pesto would take 70 minutes to prepare and cook. Given how slow a cook I am, I took this to mean two hours, so I started it early.

Again, the recipe card said it served two but it was huge and could easily serve four. I thought the Happy Pear guys must be the size of the Two Fat Ladies or The Hairy Bikers but, nope, there’s not an ounce of fat on either of them.

This chickpea and potato bake came with a beetroot and pumpkin seed salad but I had it with my own vegetables instead.

Happy Pear puy lentil coconut dahl
Happy Pear puy lentil coconut dahl

Unfortunately, the last recipe of puy lentil coconut dahl was a bit of a disaster. In the instructions, it says to add more water if the dahl is becoming too thick but it should be reasonably dry. I could have left this to simmer for a year and it still wouldn’t have reduced down to ‘reasonably dry’; it was swimming in liquid.

I’d like to say that despite the wateryness of it, the vegetables and lentils were tasty enough but I’d be lying. To be fair, the potatoes were okay but the lentils didn’t do anything for me.

Still, two meals enjoyed out of the three isn’t bad (and because the portions were so large, I’ve got enough leftovers to heat up and have again another day) and on the whole I’d definitely recommend the Riverford recipe boxes. They’re tasty, healthy and easy to make.

The Happy Pear recipe boxes were for a limited time only and are now no longer available. However, the usual Riverford recipe boxes are available in:

  • Vegetarian
  • Original
  • Quick

For current prices and more information, visit the Riverford Recipe Box page on their website.

Win a Riverford Recipe Box

If you’d like to win a Riverford recipe box of your choice, enter my giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Please note: Although Riverford deliver to lots of locations around the UK, they don’t deliver everywhere, so you might want to check they deliver to you before entering the giveaway to avoid any disappointment, as there is no cash alternative.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Vegan Oast Cakes Recipe

Vegan oast cakes

At the end of last year, I took part in a wonderful free food photography course – 30 Days to Better Food Photos. When it ended, I didn’t want to lose motivation, so I created the Beginner’s Food Photography Critique Group on Facebook so those of us who wanted to, could keep sharing our photos and get feedback on them (it’s not just for people who took the course – anyone can join). Each month we set a challenge to photograph something on a theme and this month’s theme was regional/local.

I googled for traditional Kent recipes and fancied making a gypsy tart but decided that with evaporated milk being the key ingredient, it wouldn’t easily be veganised. Then I came across a recipe for oast cakes, which are named after the round pointy-topped hop-drying houses you can see all over the Kent countryside and the oast cakes were eaten after the crop had been gathered. I’d never heard of oast cakes but, as I’m from London, not Kent, maybe that wasn’t too surprising, so I asked The Meat Eater if he’d heard of them but he hadn’t either.

As you can see from the photo, they’re similar to Welsh Cakes and taste like them too, although oast cakes don’t contain spices or egg. What oast cakes do traditionally contain is lard but that’s easily veganised by using vegetable shortening instead. I’ve got to admit, I didn’t know what shortening was but a quick investigation told me that I could use suet or Trex. I thought Trex was something from the 70s but you can still buy it in Tesco, which is what I did as Trex is pure fat, while suet is a mixture of fat and flour.

These vegan oast cakes are fried, but I can’t see any reason why they couldn’t be baked instead.

Vegan Oast Cakes Recipe
Cuisine: Vegan
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 50g vegetable shortening (e.g. Trex), diced
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 75g sultanas or currants
  • 45ml vegetable oil
  • 25g dairy-free spread (I used Vitalite)
Instructions
  1. Put the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl, then rub the vegetable shortening in thoroughly
  2. Stir in the sugar and the sultanas or currants, then mix with 3-4 tsbp water to make a soft dough
  3. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 1cm thick. Cut out 12 rounds using a 5cm cutter
  4. Heat the oil and dairy-free spread in a frying pan and fry each oast cake for about 3 minutes on each side until golden, then drain on kitchen roll

Here are some more traditional dishes from my fellow food bloggers:

Welsh Pancakes by Tin and Thyme (vegetarian)
Cornish Splits by Tin and Thyme (vegetarian)
Bara Brith by Natural Kitchen Adventures (vegetarian)

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Vegan Smoky Bean Hotpot Recipe

Vegan smoky butter bean hotpot

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

Vegan Smoky Bean Hotpot Recipe
Cuisine: Vegan
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Adapted from a recipe in Easy Vegan, published by Ryland Peters & Small
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened
  2. Add the garlic and paprika and fry for 2 minutes
  3. Add the carrot, potatoes and red pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to coat the vegetables in the oil
  4. Add the stock and beans and bring to the boil
  5. Reduce the heat and partially cover with a lid
  6. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked
  7. Season with salt and pepper

 

Veganuary Day 25
Lunch – Vegan chickpea ‘tuna’ mayo wrap with salad 

Vegan chickpea tuna mayo wrap

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.

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