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Wednesday 26 August 2009

Foodz, pups, facebook and classic rockz!

Hello all,

I can't believe it's wednesday already, how quick is this week going!?!?

Are you bored of my butternut squash pix yet? Tough tittays, I told you there was some left. I made a sauce out of some of my garden tomatoes, soya yoghurt and a bunch of herbs and spices. I dry fried some tofu and mixed that in at the end to heat it through and then added the last of my squash all roasted up with some courgette on top. All on top of wholewheat noodles.

No more squash in this post I swear.

This was dinner one night last week, when I was totally knackered and couldn't be bothered to cook - my current go to quick meal: soft polenta with sweetcorn, vegan butter and nooch! Not exactly the most balanced meal in the world, but good nonetheless!

So as of this week, I'm now working from home (for now anyway). The good thing about that, aside from not having to get dressed (just joking Mum!!) is being able to make a decent lunch. I roasted a yellow pepper, some tomatoes from my garden (yes yes I know I'm showing off!) and some courgette and put them in a wrap with some hummus.

It also means that I can have breakfast if I choose something other than a smoothie. Today I had porridge, made with soymilk, a splash of vanilla and maple syrup. YUM.

Also, it means that I can go to the gym on my lunchbreak, which I did today. Just a quick session of rower, treadmill and a really tough 20 minutes on the cross-trainer. Then I came home and made another wrap, this time, no cooking involved. Just yellow pepper, tomatoes, hummus and mixed sprouts (courtesy of my mum's impulse buying behaviour!)

Last night, my besties came over for dinner. It's not payday until tomorrow so dinner was basic store cupboard stuff: pilaff made with tinned tomatoes and whatever veg werein the fridge/cupboard. Plus a bunch of spices to make it more interesting and the last of the dying herbs from my garden.

I did do us pud though. As we're all still dieting, I tried to make the cake low fat and left off icing in favour of a strawberry sauce. Unfortunately, the cake was a little crispy and I couldn't get the bugger out of the tin (that'll teach me to forgoe the parchment!), so it fell apart a bit. Still it tasted good, that's the main thing. Also, I have plans for the rest of the cake that fell apart when I wrestled it out of the tin, stay tuned for that next time!

Lastly, but not leastly, at the weekend, me & my aforementioned besties (Em & Maz) went up to Rochdale to visit Maz's twin sister Jackie and her partner Kelly at the weekend. I made us some cookies for the journey, chocolate....

Sandwiched with neon green mint icing (a bit greener than I planned). I didn't get an assembled pic but you get the idea.

We had a great weekend of playing on Kelly's 9 year old daughter's trampoline. We went to the pub and played on swings and slides and then spent some time trying to see if we (I) could still do a handstand and cartwheel. Turns out I can but they come with something they didn't when I was 10 - pain!

Also, I didn't take any food pics, which is a shame because Jackie did us a barbecue and it was awesome. I had barbecue tofu on soft rolls, vegan coleslaw (I took Plamil Mayo with me!), corn on the cob, roasted asparagus and barbied veg too. It was rad.

I figure you'll all forgive me for this oversight though if I post pooch pix. Jackie's pups, Lilly (left) and Dru (right). I love these dogs so much! I always wish I could take them home with me! They are big stinky lovebugs!
I've added a couple of things onto the blog too. I always used to post the music I listen to when I cook but to be honest so often now, I have the iPod on random, or have Planet Rock FM on (gotta love that classic rock*) I thought it would just be better to link to my, which shows what crap I listen too.

Also, you can now follow this crap on Facebook too. I'm all modern and shiz. One day I'll catch up with the rest of the world!


(*I love them but when did the Foo Fighters become classic rock?)

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Squash tomatoes & stew

Morning all.

What a beautiful bright sunny morning it is! According to the radio station this morning, it is going to be the hottest day of the year so far for us (definitely for southerners at any rate!). Shame I'm at work, but ah well, at least I'm not looking at rain through my window.

There's no stew in this post, but there is squash and tomatoes! Hey, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

This week I bought a butternut squash and it turned out to be a right bargain. At £1.30, it has featured in a meal for me & my friends on Monday. Butternut Squash Couscous with spicy tofu, roasted asparagus and grilled courgette. The couscous was soooo good, I was wishing me & my friends hadn't finished it off so I could have had some for lunch yesterday. The recipe is at the end of this post. Sorry for crap pic, I was hungry and had hungry friends at my table too, so didn't have time to get a decent pic.

I had loads of leftovers so last night I made some soup with it. Sorry for the crap pic, I took it after I transferred it to a tupperware to bring to work with me today (and it was about 11pm!). Despite the rubbish pic, this tastes great and it was really easy. I already put it on Sparkpeople so I could just add it into my day planner, so if you want the recipe, it's here.

This was actually the first meal I made with the squash (told you it was a bargain!!). It was roasted BNS & aubergine, with soft polenta and mushroom gravy. I know it looks like it's all gravy but there is actually loads of squash hiding under there. And the polenta was soooo good. It's become one of my favourit things lately.

That's 3 things I've done with the squash already - there's still another cup or so left! So I guess I'm having it roasted for dinner tonight! :-)

Last night's dinner was just a quick mish-mash. A seitan sausage, some steamed green veg and corn on the cob and some roasted sweet potato & tomatoes from my garden! YAY.

Here's a pic of the first crop of tomatoes. My chilli plant has also given me some chillis! I'm so excited to use them in something, I dunno what yet though.

And because sometimes you need fast trashy foodz! Friday when I got home from work I wanted something easy & quick before I met my friend for the gym. So I had a Redwoods Food burger with ketchup, mustard, gherkins and tomato. Easy, fast, trashy & awesome.

The fixings....

Assembled.... YUM.

I kinda wish I took a pic of my smoothie this morning cuz it was so awesome. A frozen banana, a cup of chocolate soymilk, a tbsp of protein powder and a dash of cinnamon. YUM.
Lastly, here's the recipe for the couscous. I think the same seasonings would work great with quinoa or brown rice, if you're gluten-free, but obviously the cooking method would have to change.

Roasted Butternut Squash Couscous
2 cups of butternut squash
1 tsp olive oil
1 smallish onion, diced finely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1¼ cups (310ml) veggie stock
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Pinch of red chilli flakes (optional)
3/4 cup dry couscous
Salt & pepper to taste

Start by preheating the oven to 200°C/400°F.

Peel & chop the squash into bitsize chunks, put in a roasting tin and spray with a little olive oil and a scant dusting of salt & pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender.

Saute the onion, over medium heat, in the olive oil for a good 7 minues or so then add the garlic and cook a further 2 mins or so. Add the stock and spices and turn down the heat. Leave the stock to simmer for 10 minutes.
Put the couscous in a large bowl and pour the stock over it. (You may need to add some more water, you should have about the same amount of couscous as liquid, by volume.) Mix it well and cover the bowl with a plate or clingfilm. Leave for at least 5 minutes.

Fork through the couscous to fluff it up then add in the cooked squash, mix well with a fork and check seasoning.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Tuesday 11 August 2009

28 Days Later......

So Sunday was day 28 of my 4 week cleansey diety thing. It's now over and I’m happy everyone – HAPPY!!! WHY? Because it’s over you’re thinking, right right?? No! it’s because I weighed in as I said I would and I lost 9 pounds. WOOP!! I lost 2 inches off my waist and one off my hips.

I’ve still got a fair way to go but eating healthier and keeping up with the gym has definitely made me feel better about myself.

I alread avoid refined sugar where I can but I won’t stay gluten-free, as it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference to the way I feel. When it comes to wheat, I'll use it still but only occasionally (like today!). I usually use spelt flour for baking now anyway as I like the fact you can still get fluffy cakes / muffins etc even if you use the wholemeal version.

My favourite change I made is cutting out my usual toast & vegemite for breakfast and having juice and a smoothie instead. I find this holds me over way better. I'll probably also stick to having salads for lunch most days, unless I have leftovers!

But back onto the food and my last couple of days of G-free etc.... I made soup on Sunday night. It was minestrone with gluten free pasta in it. I can't honestly say it was all that great, but the roasted asparagus and hummus I had with it was pretty damn good!

Friday night and I looked forward to this all day at work. Pizza!! I bought some Dove's Farm Gluten Free bread flour to make the crust (I've just seen on their website they do a brown bread flour, I've never seen that in shops but would definitely buy it if I did). I used 1.5 cups, added a sachet of instant yeast, some herbs, onion powder and salt & pepper, then added about 1.25 cups of warm water mixed with a tsp each of agave and olive oil. It was a pretty sticky dough, I added enough flour to be able to pick it up. But instead of trying to roll it and pick it up, I rolled it straight onto the pizza stone.

Instead of tomato sauce, I used red pepper hummus and topped it with fresh tomato, sweetcorn, spring onion, mushrooms & asparagus. Then sprinkled it with oregano, black pepper and nooch! It was really good. I wouldn't say it was the greatest crust ever but still .... good.

Saturday night I went to visit my friend in Banbury but between the gym and travelling I only really had time to cook something quick for lunch. I made baked polenta fries! They were sooooo good, but a bit too soft. I'm working on them so recipe coming soon.

Today I had a wheat-ified meal. Wholewheat noodles and a lazy spin on my Alien on Pasta. I used coriander pesto (didn't have any basil) and half a tin of tomatoes instead of fresh. I also added in a pinch of red chilli flakes for a bit of heat. The other changes I made was leaving out the yellow pepper, tomato puree and nooch (I put some in the pesto and sprinkled some on top as well instead) and used a finely sliced onion instead of the shallot. Good!!

I tried to get a decent pic of my smoothie this morning because it was so damn ugleh! But pretty damn tasty - banana, soymilk, agave, allspice, peanut butter and hemp protein powder. Protein powder makes everything ugly!


Tuesday 4 August 2009

Singin' in the Rain


Can you believe it's already August? You wouldn't think it if you looked out the window though, the Great British Summer - gotta love it, eh! Although yesterday it was actually pretty sunny, but I was ill so spent most of my day on the couch watching episodes of Huff and Jeremy Kyle! haha.

Well I am in the final week of my diet. I'm not calling it a cleanse because I've been rubbish at eating raw stuff, aside from juice & smoothies for brekkie with salad for lunch. I am gonna weight and measure myself friday to see if I've lost any weight (cross your fingers people!!). So here are some eats from the last week....

Dinner on Sunday for me and my friends. I made lasagna, got it all ready then finished it off and stuck it in the oven when we got back from the gym. I used gluten free (corn) lasagne sheets, sauteed up some veggies, made a tomato sauce and a tofu layer. I was gonna make tofu ricotta but I was way too lazy to dig out Veganomicon. So I just threw a packet of thawed cauldron plain tofu (250g) into the blender, along with the water it came in, added 1/3 cup of cashews, a couple of tbsp of soymilk and a pinch of salt & pepper and blended it super smooth. So it wasn't really like tofu ricotta, just a lovely smooth creamy sauce. It rocked.

The top was a sauce I made out of 1 cup (250ml) of soymilk, mixed with 3 level tbsp of cornflour, a tsp of paprika and a pinch of salt & pepper. Then I boiled it stirring constantly until it went really thick and then added a tbsp of tahini and 2 tbsp of nooch and checked seasoning. It made a perfect cheezy topping. The whole thing then got baked for 30 minutes and went with some steamed greens and a True Blood marathon! :)

I also had my best friends round last Thursday (and again tonight!) and I made the chickpea sensation patties from ED&BV, but I didn't get a photo! They were not bad but did fall apart a wee bit. Maybe because I subbed gluten free breadcrumbs for the oats, to keep them gluten free? But anyway, I cooked WAY too much brown rice for these so had loads leftover. Some went into....
Rice salad, just rice, veggies lemon juice and an avocado and some salt & pepper. Easy but yummy.

This was breakfast on Sunday. I really was craving porridge, but as oats aren't gluten free, I decided to use up the leftover brown rice. I just cooked 3/4 cup of cooked brown rice in 1 cup of soymilk, with a tsp of arrowroot for 15 minutes (arrowroot added last 5 minutes) until thick. Then I added some agave and some Dark Chocolate Dreams (gluten free and no refined sugar - woop!!). This was SO good. I got some of the White Chocolate Wonderful in my swap and I found the Dark Chocolate Dreams in Sainsburys (I did a massive SQUEEEEE when I saw it and had to stop myself buying 6 jars of it!). I just wish they sold more flavours in the UK!! Get on it PB&Co!!

As well as brown rice leftover from the patties, I had leftover chickpeas. YAY - this means Punk Rock Chickpea Gravey from VWAV. I had it with mashed butternut squash/sweet potato, peas and some awesome tofu. I just dipped it in cornflour, then (gluten free / low sodium) soy sauce, then in Orgran's Gluten Free crumbs (these have come in really handy lately!). Then I baked them at 200C for about 20 minutes. Yum.

One night I really couldn't think of what to have for dinner. I haven't had many tofu scrambles lately, I used to always have them on a Saturday but it's rare that I fancy them lately. But I had this for dinner one night and it was awesome. Baked sweet potatoes with a scramble - I threw all the the veggies in right at the end (except the onion) so they were crunchy and awesome! Topped with an avocado tossed in lemon juice and a dollop of low fat hummus. Tasty good.

I got this idea from Jessy's eggplant parm! I just dipped two pieces of aubergine in cornflour, then soymilk then the Orgran crumbs mixed with some nooch. Then fried it in a little cooking spray. To go with, I made a rice mixture with veggies and some more nooch and tahini. I stuff this into a big fat tomato and baked it for 20 minutes at 180C/350F. Delicious!! SOOOOO delicious.

That's it for the food - but something I'm excited to share.... my newest ink!! I have been dying to post this since the 6th of June when I got it done, but I only had a bloody, just taken pic and kept forgetting to get my friend to take a better one.

This was my 30th birthday present from my best friends. I wanted a fairy sitting on a sunflower. I wanted the sunflower to represent the vegan society logo, but I wanted it prettier than that logo (which is a bit boring), I wanted it to be a realistic sunflower. When I discussed it with my artist, we agreed the stem would be too long if she was sitting on top of it, so this is what she came up with. I just showed her 2 pics of fairies, one of the sort of style I liked and one with the wings I liked. For colours, I just said greens and blonde hair please. I was in love with her sketch but the finished article was even more awesome than I hoped for.

A close-up. I wish I could get you a better close-up because the detail's she's put in the face is awesome. She has green eyeshadow and pink lipstick - she is one hot (vegan) fairy!! Plus these pics do not do the colours justice but you get the idea!