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Sunday 26 July 2009

Skip to the end.....

I'm starting at the end of the week's food instead of the beginning - Saturday! Saturday I got the train down to Brighton for the UK PPK Meet up. We had a picnic in the Pavilion Gardens. After a week or 2 of rain and black clouds, we had one day of glorious sunshine. It was so hot that I got sunburn (it's back to rain now though!), we were so lucky.

6 of us turned up in total; myself, Jojo, the_purple_peril, MessyVeggie, holylopez & interrobang?!.

It was great fun and there was so. much. food! Not sure if we even ate half of it, although luckily that meant leftovers for all! So here's a run down (christ it took forever to upload these, I HATE blogger!!)

Cranberry Walnut cookies that I made. I used Dreena Burton's recipe as my base and swapped light spelt flour for the wheat flour, took out the chocolate chips and added in a 1/4 cup each of broken up walnuts and dried cranberries. I also added about 1/4 tsp of allspice.

Peanut butter cupcakes. These were SO good!

I think my deer / reindeer (??) was a bit drunk!

Banana bread - we didn't actually eat this as we'd already had so much sugar!

Fruit! Pretty much the one healthy thing there.

Vegan Brunch broccoli quiche - this was soooo good, I definitely have to have a go at making this soon (so do you if you have the book, ok!).
Quinoa salad
Jojo's epic mint choc cake, with mint Newman O's and chocolate skulls. I'm kind of glad Newman O's are not available over here or I would eat them very often!

Jam donut cupcakes - mmmmmm!
Awesome brownies! I was too sugared out to eat one then & there, so I took mine home and ate it later, it rocked.

VCon Brooklyn Deli Macaroni Salad, this stuff is awesome.

Mezze inspired goodness, tabouleh, hummus and pittas and tempeh bacon. First time for me trying tempeh and I loved it. I was super excited to have a bit leftover to take home with me.

Seitan sausage and peanut noodle salad (my offerings, along with the cookies). Considering I just chucked peanut butter and other stuff in the mini-chop and whizzed until it tasted good, the noodles came out pretty well!

This cute pigeon was a fan of vegan cake!

This birdie preferred to eat the cake wrapper. He actually did eat the wrapper too!

OK back to normal food. This was dinner for me & my friends last week. I got the idea from La Dolce Vegan (I think!) - it was chilli with gluten free cornbread on top. I wasn't sure how it would come out, having only had very VERY limited experience with GF baking but it came out really well, I was so pleased. I forgot to bring my book to work with me - I was going to post the recipe. I'll try to next time, if I remember.
Served with guac - my avocado was not very ripe, even though I'd had it for over a week and it felt soft. Grrr, it was still pretty good though, just not as creamy as I'd have liked.

And another gluten free success. I tweaked my savoury muffins again. I replaced the wholewheat flour with brown rice flour and added 1 tsp of xantham gum. They worked really well, I was happy.
Lastly, I had a go last weekend at the Vegan Brunch omelet, as I got some black salt! They were really good and surprisingly easy to make. Mine isn't as pretty as Jeni's but it was tasty - I sauteed some mushrooms and spring onion in thyme and tamari for my filling. I halved the recipe and froze the other half of the batter, so I'm going to try defrosting it and cooking it up this week - will let you know how it does.
I dunno about anyone else - but the smell of the black salt - ERGH!! Gag me! It was gross, it wasn't too bad adding it to the mixture but when I turned on the blender I almost puked. The smell of it in my kitchen was making me feel sick. But it tasted good so it was worth it.


Thursday 16 July 2009

Healthy crap and ... erm cake!

Sorry UK, I think I jinxed us. Ever since my last post, the weather has sucked!! So yeah the weather sucks!!! Sucks sucks sucks! (maybe this'll bring back the sun?????)

Bright side? I don't have to water the tomatoes.

So I know I've mentioned before I'm gonna be a bridesmaid in October and me & my friend and fellow bridesmaid, Maz, have been going to the gym for a couple of months now and doing pretty well at not quitting it too. But I need shake something up in my diet. I've been feeling pretty tired lately and instead of getting easier, some workouts seem harder! The doc put me on omeprazole for my acid reflux a while back and it turns out that heartburn remedies deplete B12 stores! Something us vegans need to be mindful of, so I’ve started taking a Vit. B supplement.

Also, Jessy's ACT posts really inspired me to try a cleanse and shake my diet up. I’m not following ACT, but for 28 days I am cutting out everything on the NO list – so no coffee, alcohol, gluten, processed foods (except tofu!) …. etc. I’ve been having smoothies for breakfast for a while so I’ll keep that up (I’ve ordered some protein powder, as I’m not sure I’m getting enough protein either!)

I started the diet on Monday but before I go onto that, I have a couple of pics of the last bit of baking I did before I started!! Check out the gloriousness of the Vegan Brunch East Coast Coffee Cake, yes I finally got this book and it's awesome. I did the jam swirl variation, with blueberry jam and also sprinkled some coconut over the jam and put some into the topping too. However, I should have added the extra canola oil the recipe said you might have to, as the topping was really a little too sandy and crumbly. It still tasted awesome though! Before the topping…..

Crumbly goodness, after cutting.

I had to try the green juice, so that's what I kicked off my cleanse with (I bought a juicer). It had a golden delicious apple, some watermelon, a piece of cucumber and a big old handful of spinach. I thought this was gonna be disgusting! Honestly I thought I’d be making this face when I tried it - but it was bloody lovely. The rest of the week I've been having a carrot in my juice instead of watermelon, which is much better, not as sweet.

Then my smoothie was strawberries, soymilk, almond butter, squeeze of agave and cinnamon. yum. It's been pretty much the same all week but today I ran out of strawberries so I switched to mango and ginger instead.

Dinner the first night, I took inspiration from a recipe I saw on sparkpeople for a quinoa chilli. It had quinoa (duh), sweet potato, onion, garlic, sweetcorn, mushrooms and the usual herbs & spices I throw into chillis. I cooked most of it for 25 minutes, then threw in some yellow pepper, courgette and spinach for the last minute so it was still crunchy.

I found these lovely purple radishes in the supermarket - I've only seen pink ones before!

They've been going into my lunchtime salads...... this was today's - leftover avocado, romaine lettuce, tomato, radish, alfalfa sprouts, spinach and wasabi edamames for crunch. YUM.

You know I said leftover avocado? It was leftover from dinner last night. A massive salad with rice noodles, tofu, avo, tomatoes, sweetcorn, lettuce and lime vinaigrette.

This was dinner on tuesday night. Gluten free pasta with a sauce based on the vegan yum yum recipe, only I didn't have any basil or cashews so I used almonds and parsley - still good! I chucked some broccoli and tofu in too.

Tonight I had planned to make bean burgers so I put some pinto beans in the crockpot last night. But I didn't fancy them in the end. So I decided to make Sarah Kramer's bodacious bean & barley soup but make it cleanse-friendly. I replaced the barley with brown rice and used the pintos instead of the chickpeas. It was yummy.

I have tried to find gluten free bread, but I can't find one that doesn't have egg or honey in! Dammit. So I had a go at making GF soda bread. It didn't quite work - texture was ok but the taste was off; I'll work on it!

After dinner we were supposed to do urban rebounding but I couldn't face it - my legs were still hurting from body pump last night because we've been doing more gym sessions this week. So we did water workout instead. It turned out to be pretty entertaining, because as well as getting yelled at by Frau Farbissiner (the instructor) they also played eye of the tiger. This probably would only amuse you if you're a Supernatural fan.
I've been having a larabar when I get back from the gym this week to make up my calories for the day, but I ran out. So I had a bit of my stanky soda bread with some almond butter on instead.

I felt a bit headachy and hungry the first day but I feel ok now and less hungry between meals that I was on Monday & Tuesday. I've dragged out all my cookbooks and am looking forward to trying out some new recipes!! :-)

Monday 6 July 2009

Relight my fire!


Phew has it ever been hot the last week? It's been raining a bit today but seriously, the last week has been so freakin hot. It's gorgeous but not pleasant when you're trying to get some sleep in the hottest flat in the WORLD.

Friday we went to see Take That. I was soooo in love with them from the age of about 12 till about 17 and me & my friends used to draw take that signs on every page of our homework diaries and sign letters Sarah Owen (me) and Emma Williams (my best mate) because we were going to marry Mark & Robbie, respectively. HAHAHAHAHA. I really wish I could find the photo of my room when I was 14, so I could scan it - my mum can attest to this, there was no wall space visible through the posters. I even had a poster on the ceiling! But I digress. They were amazing and the show was visually stunning as well. Plus they all seem to have got hotter with age!!

But enough of that, back to the food. I didn't realise I had so many pictures on my camera that I hadn't posted!

I'll start with breakfast from yesterday. I bought some strawberries last time I went shopping and they were so good, I made some pancakes with them. Also, Bianca posted about Pbu, I was intreagued. So I went to the blog in question and got the recipe and I gotta tell you - this stuff is so freakin rad. I'd just made some fresh almond milk so the timing was perfect. I drizzled it over my pancakes and it was heaven.

And what's better than a big bowl of yummy melon?? A big bowl of yummy melon drizzled with Pbu, that's what!

Last night when I got back from body pump I was starving, so wanted something quick. I went for quick pea soup again, like last week.

I was gonna have a sarnie with it but found that my bread was mouldy - boo. But I had already made some hummus in my swanky new mini-chopper... isn't it dinky & cute??? It is also awesome. I broke the bowl for the mini-processor that came with my stick blender, so bought this to replace it and it's 10 times easier to clean and waayyyy more powerful. I took the pic with my hand in to show you how small he is! I haven't named him yet though.

So in the absence of bread, boo, I spread some hummus on corn thins. These taste pretty much like rice cakes and are not bad. They break REALLY easily though!

Yesterday I made some yummy strawb/almond muffins. Damn I've just remember that I didn't bring one to work with me today! Dumbass. They were made with wholemeal spelt flour, smashed up almonds, the almond meal leftover from making my almond milk and some strawberries. Recipe at the bottom of the post.

This was lunch yesterday, rice noodles, veggies and peanut dressing with some sesame seeds on top. Easy, fast and tasty, but not all that imaginitive.

Saturday, me & my friends and their dogs went to the Hale Carnival (a local town) and entered the doggies in the dog show. I was looking after Luke (aka rentadog!), as my friend's other dog is a hyperactive springer and not that easy to control. He didn't win either of his categories and neither did my friend's poodle Maddie, but Duke (aforementioned hyperactive springer!) did win Waggiest Tail!!

I then had a couple of pints of beer and went on the fairground rides. Silly Sal, silly! I felt a wee bit sick after the last ride and I also got a touch of sunburn. So when I got home all I wanted to do was eat something fast and fall asleep on the couch! So I picked up some ready made stuff from sainsburys. I got Channa Dahl (sp??), bombay potatoes, mushroom rice, onion bahji and veg samosa. They were ok but nothing to write home about. Plus they were the only vegan options in their take-out range!!

This was saturday's brekkie, a yummy smoothie. I'm really into smoothies at the moment as I can chop up all my fruit the night before and then just throw it in the blender before I run (late) out the door to work. This had strawberries, the yummiest mango I've ever tasted, half a banana, a bit of peanut butter, a teeny squidge of agave and soymilk. It was rad.

This was another quick meal. A salad made with a tin of cooked spelt wheat, some green beans and other veg on the side. With it I had one of Redwood Foods' new gourmet 1/4 pounders, which I found in the health food shop. They're really nice and wood be great for a barbecue I reckon, although you'd need to handle with a bit of care, as they break up fairly easily. Really quick to cook as well - 6 minutes in total!!

Dessert was strawberries with a bit of leftover soya cream and a sprinkle of sugar. It was Wimbledon week after all!! (Not that I give a rats ass about tennis - but any excuse for strawberries & cream is ok with me.)

This ugly specimen was actually very delicious. It was some mushroom pate that I made in my cute new mini-chopper! Just mushrooms & onions cooked down for a good long time in a little oil then thrown in the chopper with some thyme & rosemary from my garden, a bit of soya cream and some salt & pepper. Then whizz whizz whizz. Yum on corn thins!

So I have been growning peas on my balcony. My plant is looking pretty much dead now unfortunately. I managed to get a small harvest from it though..... I was so excited!

But I was a little disappointed at the amount of peas it yielded. HAHAHAH don't really know what I was expecting.

I decided not to cook them and throw them raw into a salad. This was yummy, it had peppers, tomatoes, courgettes and cooked brown rice. I threw in some tofu, made a potato salad and had it with a corn on the cob. SOOO good.

The next day was very similar - leftover rice & potato salads, a quick carrot salad, some chopped up seitan and the other corn on the cob.

Speaking of seitan, I made some. Jeni's post about baked seitan made me realise I've never tried baking it. So I gave it a go and I really like it!! I used the same recipe I used last time for patties (again, don't have my book with me, but I will get around to posting the recipe soon!), rolled it into a fat sausage and baked it in foil for 45 minutes at 180C. It was so good - I was having it on sandwiches all week last week.

Ready for being sarnie-fied!

And thrown into a stroganoff (if you're a PPK'er, does stroganoff make you chuckle like a 12 year old too, or is it just me???), with veggies and brown rice. MMMM!

This was breakfast last weekend and was very naughty but oh so good. Porridge with some peanut butter and maple syrup stirred in. Then a few chunks of chocolate added before serving so they go melty. SO good.

OK lastly a bit of a review. A very lovely lady from Jack Daniels emailed me and asked me if I'd like some samples of JD sauces. I of course said yes and was thrilled when they arrived. There are 4 varieties of their barbecue sauce, 3 of which are vegan; original, full flavour smokey and hot chilli.

Over the last few posts you'll have seen these feature on ribs, tofu and also in this one next to the redwoods burger. They are pretty damn good I have to say.

In all honesty, I don't think there's a huge difference in flavour between all 3, but the hot chilli definitely has a nice little spicy kick to it, which I love. That's my favourite of the 3. They have a very loose texture and so are great for marinading. I still need to try barbecuing some tofu that I've marinated with them.

I was struggling with other flavours clashing or being too strong when I tried to be all fancy pants with them, so decided the best thing would be to try them on something easy - chips! Or baked wedges in my case, so that is what I did.

You can buy the sauces in most supermarkets now and they're definitely worth a go if you like BBQ sauce, especially the hot chilli one!

As promised, recipe for the muffins.

Strawberry Almond Spelt Muffins (Makes 6 Muffins)
Dry Ingredients
1 Cup/160g wholemeal spelt flour
1/2 cup/100g unrefined or golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch nutmeg
1/4 cup (scant)/4 tbsp whole almonds - skin on
1/3 cup (generous - about 2 big ones) strawberries, chopped
Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup / 125ml wet almond meal from making almond milk (or okara)
1/3 cup / 80ml almond milk (or other non-dairy)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil

Preheat oven to 180C/350F and spray a 6 hole muffin tin with a little flavourless oil or non-stick spray (or line with paper muffin cases).

Smash or chop up the almonds. Mix the all dry ingredients in a large bowl, making sure to get the almonds and strawbs well coated in the flour mix to avoid them sinking to the bottom.

Whisk together the wet ingredients separately, then pour them into the dry and mix until just combined, don't overmix.

Spoon into muffin tin (about 1/3 cup in each) and bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in tin for a good 20 minutes to make it easier to get them out the tin (5 minutes is fine if you used paper cases).