I don’t know about you but I regularly find my cupboards (and fridge) almost completely bare, and in those instances I try to cobble something together that vaguely resembles a complete meal. This ‘salad bowl’ was the result of one such foraging scenario where I was able to utilize a couple of half-used peppers, a handful of cherry tomatoes, as well as some dried goods in the form of bulgar wheat and whole almonds … oh, and lets not forget that broccoli. Broken into tiny, bite-sized florets and served completely raw … in case you weren’t already aware, I kinda adore raw broccoli – crunch, crunch, crunch!
Griddling the cherry tomatoes was the key to bringing the simple salad dressing to life. I toyed with the idea of toasting the almonds too but thought it might interfere with the taste and texture too much, so raw they remained. Stirred through the bulgar wheat, the dressing really boosts the, er, blandness (?) of this nutty, nutritious grain – regardless, I’m a bit obsessed and use it regularly, hence why I have a glut of it in my cupboards.
So, a bit of this and a bit of that ain’t so bad … I even managed to shoehorn a bit of protein in there too – hurrah! Next time your pantry is in need of a restock, why not have a rummage and see what odds and ends might make a decent (or at the very least, passable) meal.You might be pleasantly surprised.
what you’ll need
1/2 large red pepper
1/2 large yellow pepper
1 small head of broccoli
1 cup bulgar wheat
for the sauce
handful of cherry tomatoes
1 scant cup of almonds
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp agave or other sweetener (optional)
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
what you’ll do
Heat a griddle pan. Cut the peppers into large pieces and place skin-down in the pan … cook until the skins blacken and then remove from the pan. Wrap tightly in cling film and set aside for 5-10 minutes before unwrapping and gently peeling away the skin – do not rinse under a tap. Cut into thin strips, season and toss with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Add the cherry tomatoes and griddle until they become lightly charred and soft to the touch. Pulverize the almonds in a food processor before adding the tomatoes, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and seasoning. Whilst the sauce is blitzing slowly pour in the extra virgin olive oil until it thickens. Check for seasoning and if it needs a little added sweetness, put it in now – blitz again to combine and refrigerate until needed.
Pour the bulgar wheat into a large bowl and add the same amount of freshly boiled water (i.e. 1 cup), cover and set aside until the bulgar wheat has fully absorbed the water. Fluff with a fork and stir through half the sauce.
Cut the broccoli into small bite-size pieces (keep any remaining stalks for soups and stews) and begin assembling your bowl. I used a large platter-style bowl, placing the roasted pepper strips in the centre before spooning the bulgar wheat around the outside. Dot the broccoli florets here and there, and serve with the remaining sauce.
Simple, wholesome – and cheap!
Remember the last time I did an outfit post? Nope, I don’t either. In fact, it’s been so long I’d almost forgotten this was supposed to be a ‘lifestyle’ blog and not just one where I upload recipes from time and time. I guess I haven’t felt like my jeans and tee uniform of late is very blogworthy (although it is mighty comfortable) but sometimes it’s nice to put a spin on things - even if that spin includes a slouchy polka dot blazer you found on the pound rail in a charity shop. Sure, it’s needs the pocket mending but that didn’t stop me from wearing it all over St.Ives on Saturday like the sassy skinflint/thrifter I am. The little blue bag was gifted to me from a terrific new vegan bag company called LaBante (thank you!) and is the perfect size (phone, wallet and keys, bingo!) and style for my laid-back Cornish lifestyle … with just enough pizazz to give me my much needed fashion fix.
I’ve basically been living in these trousers too – it almost feels (er, and looks?) like I’m wearing pajamas, which is never a bad thing in my book. I’d tried them on a while back when I was in London but hummed and hawed over them for some reason, so they stayed on the rack. A few months later Monki were having a sale and these little beauties were less than half price, which made them all the more appealing. I was still unsure but at £12 I couldn’t really say no and hey presto, they have quickly become a firm staple. And what I can say about that hat, eh? That ludicrously large ‘i’m wearing a hat’ hat. Yup. Another charity shop purchase from last summer … it’s Laura Ashley and sets off this borderline twee outfit to a tee. It also happens to be the perfect beach hat and as such, has become my requisite summertime headgear of late, lending a rather preppy Hillary Whitney-esque air to proceedings. What can I say … you can take the girl out of the eighties but you can’t take the eighties out of the girl!
p.s. I’m wearing a bikini under this garb, which goes some way to explaining the lumpy bust scenario. perils of living near the sea I suppose.
I read somewhere that it takes 66 days to break a habit. And whilst I wouldn’t exactly call my alcohol consumption a habit, so much as something I enjoy on a weekly basis (Friday nights usually involve a glass or two or vino) I still like to have a break from it now and again. With that in mind I’ve decided the remainder of the summer and into the Autumn (October 9th to be exact) are to be a booze-free zone … although I may continue it long-term. Truth be told, I get less and less enjoyment from the odd G&T or Pinot Noir than I care to admit, preferring to have a cup of tea or sparkling water (San Pellegrino is my current fav) and so I got to thinking, why bother with it at all? I’m probably just turning into a boring old fart but even parties fill me with dread these days – small gatherings with people I know and trust are fine but other than that count me out. I guess I’m not a terribly social person and find certain situations quite awkward – my Husband feels the same way (weirdos unite!), preferring to have intimate dinner parties over major hooplas and usually without copious amounts of alcohol.
Living in the US opened our eyes to our cultural reliance on the hard stuff … our American friends tend to drink much less – not a firm fact just something we observed during our time there. Social events are less geared towards getting blind drunk and more towards eating, chatting and playing games. It sounds corny to say it was ‘good, clean fun’ but it was. I’ve got a few parties planned for the near future … I’ll be hosting a summer BBQ soon and will probably provide Pimms and whatnot for my friends (who, are all moderate drinkers thank goodness) but I will be abstaining and instead reaching for mocktails such as this Summer Quencher – truthfully, it tastes so fab, I really won’t feel like I’m missing out. It would also be terrific served in a champagne glass and topped off with soda water or san pellegrino … oh, and a sprig of mint would be delightful too, I just didn’t have one to hand.
Should anyone wish to join me on my booze-free voyage feel free to let me know and we can do it together – please do send any of your favourite mocktail concoctions my way, I’m eager to keep things interesting.
As a total aside, my new favourite toy also happens to be a blender … not any old blender (and believe me, I’ve tried quite a few!) but the new Kinetex Control Blender by Heston Blumenthal. It is the absolute bomb and I’ll be sure to do a proper review of it later but, for now, here’s the recipe in question …
what you’ll need
1 large orange
1 pink lady apple
1 x 4” piece of cucumber
1 cup coconut water
splash of grenadine
lemon & lime slices
1 x strawberry, quartered
sprig of mint, ice cubes and sparkling water (optional)
what you’ll do
Segment the orange and add to blender. Peel, de-seed and chop the apple and cucumber, and add to the blender along with the coconut water, lemon and lime juice. Blend until smooth and then pass through a sieve to render a colourful, smooth, vibrant drink.
Fill a glass with the lemon, lime and cucumber slices, as well as the strawberries and pour over the summery quencher. Finally, add a splash of grenadine. You could pop in a few ice-cubes and a sprig or two of mint.
To turn it from a long drink into a refreshing spritzer, simply divide the mixture between two champagne flutes and top with sparkling water.
Haircare can be a struggle for me. I have naturally bouffant locks that have a tendency to err on the frizzy side and most products just seem to make my helmet head worse. Cheap shampoos are an absolute no-no because whilst they leave my hair squeaky clean (literally) this also means my hair feels stripped of any any natural oils or nourishment. It’s a continual pain that’s not easily rectified especially when I’m also seeking out vegan friendly products that combine my ethical credentials with my unshakable desire for quality … easier said than done. Now, having already been a long-time Green People fan, I knew when offered their latest quinoa haircare range I was in for a treat – talk about covering all bases, I was (and still am) delighting in this line of paraben-free beauties that render my bob silky smooth and a cinch to handle.
They came at just the right time too because I had actually been in the midst of a hair crisis – mainly due to the God-awful (and yet totally vegan) ‘poo and conditioner I’d been suffering through because I’m one of those people that loathes waste and was therefore refusing to buy anything new until it was used up. Crazy, I know. Thankfully Green People came to the rescue and (unbeknownst to them, I might add) saved me from appearing on screen with a head resembling Monica’s when the humidity got to her in Jamaica – prior to the braids. I’m rambling.
Whilst I’m crazy about all the products, I must say the styling gel is a particular favourite, and has quickly become an indispensable part of my haircare routine. I usually take a pea-sized amount, rub it between my hands and run it through my hair, paying special attention to the ends before blow-drying and et voila, smooth as you like. If you also suffer from a case of the ‘bouffants’ then I really can’t recommend this enough. Likewise, the entire range (well, the three products I’ve tried) are a seriously super addition to any vegan’s beauty armour – plus, anything that has avocado, quinoa and artichoke listed in the ingredients is already onto a winner with me. I’m either food obsessed or easily pleased, take your pick.
Summer has officially hit Cornwall and I’m about to vacate the county for Ireland. Typical. Not that I don’t love a jaunt ‘home’ but the temperature there never quite reaches the heights it does here and I always feel a slight chill even on the balmiest of days – who am I kidding, Ireland doesn’t do ‘balmy’. Of course, it’ll be great to see the folks, spend time with my Dad who has just finished his third round of chemo, and celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary … quite a milestone by anyone’s standards! Being the creature of habit that I am though, I always find it difficult settling into a new routine – that adjustment period shows me what a home bird I really am. I crave structure and being a writer means I can construct my own timetable – a luxury that is thankfully not lost on me. There’s nothing I love more than splitting my day into palatable little sections … most of which revolve around tea/snack/lunch/coffee breaks – in a way it’s bliss. Unless I’m working to a tight deadline.
Now that the book is ‘done’ (I’ve put it in inverted commas because I don’t think a book is ever really done but at some point you have to move on … plus there’s always bits and bobs that need tweaking) I now find myself in a weird limbo scenario and so my inclination is to return my attention to ‘Keep it Vegan’. To that end I’ll be doing a few little promo things here and there (another IrelandAM appearance is on the cards for the 7th July), as well as continuing to promote my more summery recipes – perfect for the coming months! Keep an eye on my twitter and instagram accounts for details.
And then there’s this blog. The place and vehicle that started this whole ball rolling. I already am feeling a lot more connected to this space than I have done in a long time … so much so, I’ve even dusted off the DSLR in a bid to regain my confidence behind the camera. Slowly does it though because it really would seem that I’ve forgotten how to use the damn thing – settings, schmettings.
Today was a salad day (nothing special but still… ) and so I thought it would be good practice to shoot something that didn’t have any time constraints or pressures. The focus still ain’t perfect but I think I’ve been able to achieve a slightly nicer quality to these shots than I have done in a very long while. Like I said, they’re a long way from being perfect but I won’t go down without a fight. And now for the recipe … creamy avocado, tart blackberries and not forgetting that gingery dill dressing, it really is a wonderfully simple seasonal salad with a difference.
what you’ll need
large handful of mixed lettuce leaves
1/4 yellow pepper, finely sliced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
for the dressing
1 heaped tbsp dijon
1 garlic clove, grated
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, grated
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp hazelnut oil or evoo
1/2 tbsp agave
juice x 2 clementines
pinch of salt and pepper
15g freshly chopped dill
what you’ll do
Arrange the salad leaves in a shallow bowl. Scatter the sliced pepper around over the leaves, sprinkle over the spring onion and dot the blackberries about the bowl.
Separate the sliced avocado into a fan shape and place in the centre of the bowl.
Place all the dressing ingredients (apart from the dill) into a bowl and whisk vigorously until it emulsifies. Add the chopped dill and whisk to combine. Spoon generously over the salad, paying particular attention to the avocado.
Finish with a final scattering of roughly chopped dill. Serve.
I had intended to post this on Friday evening but I was too lazy to type and then the sun was out in full force on Saturday, which meant it was pushed back to today, Sunday. So, here I am, sitting in bed (even though it’s after midday, ahem) with a cup of tea and a quiet determination to actually write a blog post – no mean feat when your creative energies are at an all time low. I know I’ve banged on about it before but I’m feeling like a bit of slacker these days when it comes to this space but I’m hopeful my blogging will soon be reignited properly … I just think I need to take things slowly.
I’ve read posts before about bloggers hitting a creative wall – and in my case, it is often stunted further by the amount of uh-mazing food and lifestyle blogs that are springing up left, right and centre complete with professional-looking images and all perfectly curated for your perusal. Then again, this space was never about that. It was never about perfection, instead striving for honesty and a glimpse into my far from perfect world. Whilst I always want it to be a pleasant place to visit, I never sugar-coat where I’m at or how I’m feeling … integrity is everything to me. Anyway, you can see that my thoughts are currently quite scattered so let’s move onto the subject at hand – Tropic Skincare.
Full disclosure – I was kindly sent these items by Chelsea at Tropic Skincare who asked would I be interested in checking out their range. Rather fortuitously I had just squeezed the last drop out of my Argan Oil so was definitely in the market for a new face oil – cue, the Organic Elixir Oil of my dreams. I’d heard good things about this oil (and indeed the range) before and I’m pleased to say it matches the online hype. I’ve been slathering it liberally over my face and neck, twice a day now for well over a week and it is simply glorious … if you have dry skin like me, you will be wowed.
Even if I hadn’t been gifted the oil, I suspect I would’ve coughed up the £30 anyway because I’m always happy to invest in a quality moisturiser, particularly when it’s as natural as this one – I won’t bore you with the ingredients list but suffice to say, it’s impressively simple. It absorbs quickly into the skin and is the perfect base for applying make-up … I often have dry patches that are worsened by make-up application but I’ve seen a massive improvement even in the short space of time I’ve been using the oil. Equally, it’s rich enough to be used at night, which means you don’t have to buy a separate product thus saving ‘dem pennies … great news for those of us who are on a meagre budget but still want great skin.
The concealer and brush have also been welcome additions to my routine. I would recommend the concealer for a daytime look, as it’s quite light, giving a nice natural coverage. The (cruelty free) make-up brush has become a bit of staple too now that I’ve swapped my ‘Winter’ blush for a more summery bronzer … the slanted style is terrific for highlighting cheekbones and is super soft – I doubt anyone would know it’s ‘vegan’.
For me though, it really is all about the elixir – I honestly can’t get enough of it. Nothing more to say other than ‘two thumbs up!’
I thought it was time for a YouTube update. Whilst I don’t upload as much as I would like (editing seems to take forEVER!) I’ve been trying to invest a bit more of my creative energy into this little channel. Quick ‘n’ easy recipes work best for this medium (in my opinion) – then again, I’m basing that purely on my own short attention span when it comes to online recipe vids. So, because of that, I’ve attempted to keep the dishes straightforward but would love some feedback on whether you would indeed like more involved recipes – totally open to suggestions so fire away.
My aim is to upload one video a week … they’ll vary between the book and blog with a smattering of super healthy dishes – and not so healthy because, hey, that’s life. I’m really excited about building this platform not only because YouTube has a growing vibrant community but also because I happen to be an obsessive viewer myself. In case you’re interested a few of my favourite channels include Mr.Kate, BeautyCrush, Alli Cherry, Niomi Smart, Nutrition Stripped and Shameless Maya … oh, and, of course, I love Mr.Oliver’s wonderful FoodTube channel too.
My latest recipe is for Homemade Hazelnut Milk but there’s also a recipe for my Carrot Cake Bites and Macaro-no Cheese on the channel too – enjoy! And before I forget, please do ‘like’, ‘subscribe’ and ‘share’.
So, I can’t actually remember how long it’s been since I last blogged – maybe a month, maybe more? My excuse is that I’ve been in the depths of book no. 2 and couldn’t come up for air, let alone a blog post and am only just getting back to normality after submitting my manuscript on Sunday. Now though, I’m ready to ease myself back into the swing of things with a simple but delicious smoothie … it’s the long drink I needed after pouring myself into my latest cookbook, which is due for release in January 2016. Yep, it feels like an age to me too. After writing ‘Keep it Vegan’ I felt an enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders but that short-lived relief was quickly followed by an insurmountable dread that nobody would like or buy it. Thankfully my fears were unfounded but that doesn’t make releasing this one into the ether any easier – in fact, it feels as if more hinges on this publication being a success. Go figures.
With that said, I am so excited to reveal bits of the book to you guys, however, at the moment even the title is under wraps. What I can tell you is that I am over the moon with how it’s shaping up … the images are simply stunning, and I think there’ll be a little something for everyone – vegan, omni or otherwise. As ever, my recipes will be super straightforward (old habits die hard) with a good balance (gluten-free alongside sugar-filled is my style) and plenty of scope for you to adapt them to suit your needs and tastes. These are dishes I truly love to make myself, and although many were created especially for the book, they’ve now become regular features on my weekly menu too. Very few of the recipes are time consuming and, perhaps more importantly, I’ll be offering up tips on how to make your vegan lifestyle that wee bit easier with the inclusion of some non-foodie chapters outlining my approach to veganism. In a way, I write my books with me in mind – that may sound odd, but I kind of feel if I wouldn’t buy it, then why should I expect anyone else to. It’s also my only way of staying true to myself … something that is really, really important to me.
Okay, so enough waffle and onto the drink. If you really wanted to, you could totally pop some rum in this and turn it into a more grown-up affair but in my opinion it actually makes for a refreshing change to its usual boozy counterpart. Come Summer I am all about the pineapple, and try to secrete it into just about anything … salsa is a current top fav. Here though, it takes centre stage and rightly so – all we need now is for that predicted heatwave to hit.
what you’ll need
250g fresh pineapple, chopped
100ml coconut cream
100ml coconut milk
1 large medjool date, stone removed
what you’ll do
Place all the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until completely – for an even smoother finish, pour it through a fine mesh sieve.
Divide between two or three glasses and garnish with some pineapple. Serve immediately.
Oh hai! Suffice to say this book writing business is overtaking everything at the mo, hence the lack of recipes on the blog – it seems every time I have a good idea I feel compelled to save it for the publication. I can’t even claim this one was intended for this space, as it was originally created for the current issue of WED Mag (go buy it!), along with two other equally delightful dishes. Call it laziness or just my eagerness to share but this borrowed (from, er, myself) recipe is all I have to offer right now … although I have two blog posts lined up for the very near future (you loving that vagueness?) that I hope will make up for my persistent peasoupeats neglect.
This particular Banana Bread recipe is (no lie) an absolute lifesaver thanks to its gluten and (refined) sugar-free status … in fact, you could go as far as to say, it’s good for you – disclaimer; it’s probably not ‘good for you’. Moist, crumbly and ridiculously delicious, it flies in the face of everything you have ever thought about gluten free goods, which, let’s face it, are often bemoaned for their dense, stodgy texture that taste more like sand than cake – not appealing, not now, not ever. So, even if you think gluten free isn’t your thing, I urge you let this banana bread change your mind because healthy eating or not, this recipe officially ‘rules’.
what you’ll need
130g Gram Flour
70g Ground Almonds
1 tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder
½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2 Ripe Bananas
3 Medjool Dates
1 tbsp Maple Syrup
1 tbsp Coconut oil
30g Flaked Almonds
what you’ll do
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and prepare a medium-sized loaf tin by greasing it with a little coconut oil.
Place the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a bowl and whisk together.
Soak the medjool dates for 10 minutes in warm water.
Meanwhile, mash the bananas with the back of a fork to form a smooth puree.
Remove the stone from the dates and place in a small chopper or hand blender along with the maple syrup and blitz to form a thick, sticky paste.
Melt the coconut oil in a small pan on the hob … this will take mere seconds, be sure not to let it boil.
Whisk the pureed banana, date paste and melted coconut oil together, along with two tablespoons of water, until thoroughly combined.
Stir the raisins into the flour, ensuring they are evenly dispersed. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the banana mixture. Fold gently until everything is combined before transferring to the loaf tin. The batter will be quite thick so spread it out using a spatula before sprinkling over the flaked almonds.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin. Place on a cooling rack for a further 30 minutes. Cut into thick slices and serve.
I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to be able to follow a recipe instead of creating one. In the midst of this book writing business, receiving this gorgeous offering in the post was a welcome relief and meant I could forget about my own creations for at least one meal. Although they probably don’t know it, the writers of this heavenly vegan cookbook were the first ‘real-life’ vegan cooks I ever encountered. Four years almost to the day, I was booked into a raw cookery class at Saf in Shoreditch (sadly now closed), which was led by the magnificent David Bailey who was accompanied by his lovely wife Charlotte. A newbie vegan at the time (I was about a year into my journey ) this was a real eye opener for me and I learnt so much… and tasted some pretty incredible food in the process – so you could say I’m already a bit of fan girl when it comes to this duo. Since then they’ve gone on to win awards for their scrumptious street food (keep an eye out for their WholefoodHeaven van at festivals) and, of course, release a wonderful cookbook.
Not only is it a stunning book to simply browse through but offers a range of dishes from the very basic (dips, dressings and soups) through to more adventurous fare that all have something of an Asian twist. I went for something moderately easy to begin with in the form of the New England inspired Corn Chowder … mainly because my fridge and cupboards are pretty bare right now so it was a bit of a make-do situation. I’m rather ashamed to say I had to use (don’t judge!) canned (cough) sweetcorn and I didn’t have any coconut milk (or stock) to hand either, however, despite my embarrassing modifications it was still a resounding success.
What I’m most excited about getting my chops around next is the Hot Aubergine Salad, which looks sensational, with the Churros a very close second. Hot, crispy, sugary goodness – you’re talking my language! What I love most about this book is the balance it strikes between uber-healthy recipes and more indulgent dishes that don’t shy away from things like flour. There’s something for everyone whether you’re raw, gluten-free or, like-me, dabble in a little bit of everything. It’s easy-going flair is its biggest selling point … I predict it’ll be a book I’ll come back to again and again. In a nutshell, it’s fuss-free food, full of flavour that will inevitably put a smile on your face.
adapted from The Fresh Vegan Kitchen
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small carrot, chopped
200g sweetcorn kernels
4 salad potatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp hot sauce
juice 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup soya yoghurt plus more for serving
salt and pepper
for the herby croutons
1 slice of bread, cut into 1cm squares
1 tbsp olive oil
1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
1. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sautee for 3-4 mins, then add the carrot and sweetcorn, season and saute for another minute or so.
2. Cover the saute mix with water (about 1ltr) and add the potatoes. Season generously, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15-20mins, until all the vegetables are tender.
3. While the soup is simmering make the croutons. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Put the bread in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and rosemary. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 10 mins until lightly golden, moving the croutons around every couple of minutes. Set aside.
4. When the soup is ready transfer to a blender and pulse until smooth. Return the soup to the pan, stir in the yogurt (or coconut milk), lemon juice, generously season and reheat for 10-15 minutes over a very low heat.
5. Divide into bowls and garnish with a few reserved sweetcorn kernels, sliced radish, spring onion and not forgetting the croutons, which I served alongside .