I had to leave you a little something for the weekend in the form of these Intensely Chocolatey Bliss Balls. They are quite literally to-die-for … so much so, my friend insisted I put them away after scoffing several at lunch but not before enthusing about their intensely chocolatey greatness.They would (and could) be entirely ‘raw’ apart from one small detail, which is that I only had cocoa powder in the cupboard(gah!) – oh, and not forgetting the oat/extract issue… in other words make sure they are authentically raw. Or not. Up to you. Anywho, feel free to do the necessary swaps yourself for an uber decadent raw treat that will have you bouncing off the walls with a cocoa (or cacao) induced grin on your face. No better way to start the weekend.
what you’ll need
1 cup rolled oats
4 medjool dates, pitted
1 heaped tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
1 scant tbsp maca powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp coconut oil
for the chocolate coating
1/2 cup coconut, melted
2/3 cup cocoa or cacao powder
1 tbsp agave
what you’ll do
place all the bliss balls ingredients into a small processor and blitz until it forms a rubble-like consistency. this mixture is drier than most bliss balls but will hold together when pressed firmly.
take a teaspoon-sized amount and roll tightly into ten or so neat little balls.
whisk the cocoa powder into the melted coconut oil along with the agave nectar or any other vegan sweetener. roll each ball twice in the mixture – I do them all once and then repeat… that way you get a nice coating. place carefully on a line tray or plate and sprinkle over a little seasalt – optional but is divine.
refrigerate for several hours until completely firm. store in fridge.
I know what you’re thinking. Not another hummus recipe. And I get it. Really, I do. But (but, but but!!) as hummus recipes go this has got to be my favourite… which is exactly why I felt compelled to include it in the book. Of course, this is a slightly amended version but the basic principle of boil and peel remain. Omit this step and you’ll never get your hummus completely smooth.
I toed and froed when it came to including recipes such as this one in the book, however, I can assure you there was some logic to my ‘who needs another hummus/risotto/crumble recipe’ madness. Sure, it’s a basic recipe that virtually no vegan hasn’t at some point tackled. Me included. However, I thought to myself, this is the book I would liked to have had when I first went vegan and because of that I wanted to lock in place all those easy go-to recipes that you can whip up at a moments notice and still wow. And trust me, hummus still has the power to wow.
And because it was my first book, I kinda wanted to get all those tried and tested recipes out of my system so I would then have the opportunity and freedom to expand upon those ideas in other volumes. Otherwise, I’d be constantly digging into my past kitchen repertoire instead of forging forward with new ideas. Obviously it was impossible to use all my ‘oldies but goodies’ in ‘Keep it Vegan’ but I gave it damn good try… whilst still managing to squirrel away a few classics for another time, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
My attention has now turned to my next book and, as ever, I’m putting myself under extreme pressure to come up with a boatload of exciting, fresh and innovative recipes that will hopefully ‘wow’ – there’s that word again! Whilst simplicity is still at the forefront of my mind, I’m conscious of creating an index of slightly unusual dishes that anybody can cook and enjoy. Not an easy task but one I’m seriously looking forward to. In the meantime, there’s always hummus.
what you’ll need
400g cooked chickpeas
1 large garlic clove
2 heaped tsp harissa paste
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 heaped tbsp tahini (optional)
what you’ll do
drain and rinse the chickpeas and place in a saucepan with 500ml of water. bring to a boil and then simmer for 30minutes. drain (reserving some cooking liquid for later), rinse and once to cool to the touch, peel the skin off the chickpeas.
grind the garlic and 1 tsp salt in a mortar and pestle until you achieve a puree consistency.
place the chickpeas in a small food processor along with a little salt, juice of 1 lemon, harissa paste, garlic, tahini (if using) and 1 tbsp of the reserved cooking. blend until smooth, adding a little more cooking liquid if necessary.
taste for seasoning – it may need a little more lemon juice and/or salt. blend again. serve with a some lemon zest, chilli flakes and a dusting of smoked paprika.
Ah, bread. Or more specifically… ah, toast. It’s a mainstay in most people’s kitchens and nothing says comfort food like beans on toast. At least, if you live in the UK anyway. Right now I am in desperate need of comfort but because I’m ever conscious of providing myself with a healthy alternative I eschewed the usually sugar-ridden tinned variety for this garlicky butter bean option instead.
Possibly the most generously proportioned of all the beans (can you think of a larger variety?) the humble butter bean does not feature heavily in my weekly menu. I am currently questioning my reasoning on this one but I think it goes back to my childhood and being made to eat them in a weird chipolata and butter bean casserole at a friends house. It was not good. In fact, it pretty much scarred me for life. Hence the lack of butter beans in my diet.
However, I’m pleased to report that my prior butter bean blanket ban is about to change and it’s all thanks to this simple toast topper that has quite literally transformed my once unfavorably biased butter bean stance into one of total obsession. As I type this I’m thinking about all the ways I can use them in future, and yes, one may just include a homemade ‘Heinz Baked Bean’ rip-off complete with colossal butter bean inclusion… what can I say, I loves me some beans on toast.
So eager was I to get this in my gob I may have spent very little time and effort getting ‘the perfect shot’ – I usually try not to be so starving hungry when photographing food but today I totally failed. I paired it with some dense rye bread that went perfectly with the creaminess of the butter beans. I also may have slathered it (as in the toast) in marmite too. Gotta get ‘dem B Vitamins! Ideal brunch fodder, or in my case lunch, this easy recipe is the perfect way to let those beans shine whilst packing in your daily protein – I promise I don’t always view my food in terms of nutritional value.
Any other butter bean phobes out there? May I kindly urge you to try this before ruling them out of your life completely? Just in case you’re tempted, here’s how you make ‘em.
what you’ll need
1 380g carton cooked butter beans
1 large spring onion
4 large chestnut mushrooms
handful of young spinach
3 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
flat leaf parsley
what you’ll do
heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a small skillet.
finely chop the spring onion and add to the pan. gently cook over a medium for several minutes before adding the sliced mushrooms. season and sweat for several more minutes.
finely mince the garlic and add to the pan. let the flavours infuse for a few minutes.
drain and rinse the butter beans and add to the pan. season generously and heat through, stirring thoroughly so the ingredients are fully combined.
lastly add the spinach and let it gently wilt before adding a little more salt and pepper.
serve hot with some roughly chopped flat leaf parsley and sliced scallions.
Since moving to Cornwall I’ve become a bit of a Spa pro. There are so many options down here (what with it being a holiday makers haven) it can often be difficult choosing which one to go for… but fear not, I am here to help. Deciphering the veritable wheat from the chaff, as it were, and giving you insider tips on who does what well where. Yes, my love for alliteration knows no bounds.
Let me draw your attention then to St.Michael’s Spa and Hotel in Falmouth – located, funnily enough, opposite one of our favourite Fally hangouts, Gylly Beach Cafe (they do an awesome soya latte and always have a good selection of vegan cakes), and surrounded by the most incredible grounds and one heck of a gorgeous view. I’m a sucker for ambience and St.Michael’s definitely sets the perfect spa scene with all it’s nooks and crannies, super staff and top notch treatments. Of course, me being me went for the full shebang. Namely the AFYNA Ultimate Relaxation. Clearly, I don’t do things by halves.
Being a bit of a massage expert my standards are pretty high when it comes to back rubs – in case you’re wondering I always request firm pressure… it’s the only way to deal with those knots I’m so prone to although I often find masseurs are a bit too gentle for my liking. I needn’t have worried though because Carly applied the perfect pressure and all those weeks of recent stress seemed to melt away in seconds. In not time at all I was totally zen.
After the back rub it was time to work on my face. Eek. Okay, fess up time, as this was my first ever facial (I know!) so I have absolutely nothing to compare it to (but, but , but!) I think I possibly enjoyed this more than the massage. Call it narrow mindedness or sheer stupidity but I’ve never really ‘got’ facials. I realise I’m a total idiot for underestimating the power of a good facial but the thought of having my face pulled and prodded just never really appealed. How wrong I was – and may I just say, weirdly, having my eyebrows gently pinched was perhaps the most relaxing bit of the whole treatment. Or maybe I was just so relaxed by that stage it just felt like it was. Either way. Eyebrow pinching. I highly recommend it.
Of course, for us vegans, it’s important to know what products the spa uses, which is were St.Michael’s also comes up trumps. The AFYNA and ESPA ranges are both cruelty free and I was lucky enough to be given an EPSA home spa treatment kit to take away with me. More on that later. Oh, and did I mention they’re British brands – hurrah!
And it doesn’t stop there. Afterwards, I was asked whether I would like to know my skin type to which I eagerly replied ‘Yes’! Now, I always thought I knew my skin pretty well and had already self diagnosed myself as having having combination skin, i.e. dry with an oily t-zone. Not so! I have dry skin. Plain and simple. It wasn’t exactly a surprise but it prompted me to figure out a skincare routine that would better suit my skintype, which I’ve been following rigidly for the last three weeks and guess what?!! It’s working! From making sure I apply my moisturizer to damp skin (not bone, towel dry as per my previous routine) and using a facial oil at night instead of a cream, I’ve noticed a steady improvement in my face and on my body.
I’ve incorporated the ESPA kit into my routine, which has really helped, meaning my dry patches have pretty much cleared up … in a nutshell, my skin has never felt better. I am so excited to give the AFYNA range a go now too (just as little compare and contrast) – in fact, you could say I’ve become a bit of a skincare obsessive of late, especially as I’m attempting to wean myself off cheap high street brands and ensure my products are all paraben free and mostly organic. I shall definitely keep you posted. In the meantime, I cannot wait to get back to St.Michael’s to sample a few more of their treatments. Another facial is absolutely on the cards.
*I was kindly gifted the treatment but my opinions are entirely my own and 100% honest.
I don’t know about you but I can’t drink like I used to. Maybe it’s being in my thirties or perhaps it’s just my body saying ‘enough already’ but my alcohol inclination is simply becoming less and less. Take this weekend for example. As per usual, we settled down with our Friday night bottle of wine, mahoosive bowl of spaghetti and a movie. It’s our tradition and we love it; glass (or three) of red, pasta and a film… you just can’t beat it.
Except that when Saturday morning arrived, and after a so-so night’s sleep, I felt, not necessarily hungover (definitely not enough wine consumed for that), but certainly groggy. It was disappointing to say the least. Like most people I want to wake up refreshed at the weekend, not drained and mildly nauseous – and I’m slowly coming around to the thinking that the wine just ain’t worth it. But then came Saturday night. We were invited around to a friends for dinner (and Hubby wasn’t driving), which meant yet more wine, and yes, another patchy night’s sleep. In fact, after two nights on the trot I felt like I’d been run over by a bus with the only cure being a (vegan) fry-up followed by a blustery walk along the cliffs at Sennen and even then I wasn’t in tip-top shape.
So. Clears throat. Drum-roll purlease. I’ve decided that the next two weeks will be an alcohol free zone. Now, I know that sounds like no biggie (a fortnight is nothing in the grand scheme of things) but it will at least give me a glimpse into what life will be like when I have no choice in the matter – pregnancy prep, if you will (although let’s pretend you didn’t read that, m’kay?). However, in the meantime, I still want to enjoy the odd non-alcoholic tipple, which is why my attention has swiftly turned to the much ridiculed ‘mocktail’. Although it’s not quite as exciting as a Sidecar this fragrant ‘Pomegranate & Thyme’ cocktail alternative has enough layers of flavour to feel like a grown-up drink – crucially separating from it juice counterparts. Served in a vintage cocktail glass and adorned with a sprig of thyme, a few pomegranate seeds and a satsuma peel twist, I can honestly ‘hand-on-my-heart’ say I didn’t miss the booze. Okay, so I missed it a wee bit but I’m still willing to give this booze-free existence a go. See you on the other side my friends.
what you’ll need
several sprigs of thyme
1 tsp agave (optional)
what you’ll do
juice the pomegranate, satsumas and lime and place in a cocktail shaker with several ice-cubes.
gently rub the sprigs of thyme between your fingers to release the flavour and add to shaker along with agave if using.
shake vigorously until thoroughly muddled.
adorn glasses with a sprig of thyme, slice of lime, pomegranate seeds and satsuma peel.
pour and enjoy.
Here’s a sweet treat that can be whipped up in minutes whilst (crucially) still retaining some nutritional value – yes, I’ve added some (optional) sweetener but I reckon there’s enough good to cancel out the bad… at least, that’s what I keep telling myself. I went through a major amaranth pops phase a number of years back and that obsession has recently reared it’s head again. I just can’t seem to get enough of these little puffs of awesomeness. Whilst I usually opt to sprinkle them on cereal I’ve been wanting to experiment a little by using them in recipes. The chocolate/coconut additions were borne out of necessity, i.e. I simply used what I had to hand in the kitchen. Had I more chocolate in the cupboard I would’ve used it but this meagre amount had to suffice. It was also the perfect opportunity to try out my new Nikon camera – side note: it’s not a DSLR! My Husband and I decided to trade in one of our DSLR cameras for a handier option because I was using my own one less and less… I just hate lugging that thing about when I’m out. And besides, I think one DSLR is enough for any household and I am so excited to see what this little pocket-sized alternative can do. So far, I’m super impressed. Anyway, here’s the recipe (such as it is) and from me to you – Have a wonderful weekend!
what you’ll need
1/2 cup amaranth pops
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
splash of plant milk
1/2 tbsp agave (optional)
what you’ll do
bring a small pan of water to the boil and then turn down to barely a simmer. place a bowl over the pan and melt the chocolate, plant milk and agave until completely smooth.
add the amaranth pops, desiccated coconut and stir to combine.
fill 8-10 mini muffin cases with the mixture and finish with a little more coconut.
leave to harden for at least an hour before consuming. you can also chill them in the refrigerator if you prefer.
Okay, so I’ve started this post twice now – let’s hope third times a charm. Initially I was babbling on about how privileged we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world and how we never take it for granted and blah, blah, blah, you get the picture. Then, I began talking about what’s really on my mind (my Dad’s illness) but it felt kinda strange pairing the horrors of cancer with an outfit post. I guess that’s the existence I’m living right now though. On the one hand I’m trying to get on with things as best I can and retain some sort of normality whilst everything else seems to be spinning out of control. And on the other I’m fixated on trying to make sense of it all. Conclusion being… you can’t.
When all else fails, however, long walks in Cornwall definitely do help clear my mind – but(!!!) only if I’m wearing the right gear. Feeling cold and damp do not make for a pleasant afternoon’s ramble in the brambles (or rushes, as the case may be) so I’ve had to come up with a suitable hiking uniform that does the job of keeping me warm and dry without dispensing totally with the style factor. Of course, style being what it is (personal and subjective) means that I may be the only one loving the turtle neck/lumberjack combo but hey, if it keeps me happy and all that. The classic chelsea boot is universally loved, however, so I reckon I’m safe on that front. Truthfully though, I was just delighted to find a vegan winter boot that didn’t break my bank balance (I adore Wills Vegan Shoes but they’re beyond my budget right now) and fitted like an absolute glove – I’m seriously tempted to go back for the black pair. Husband, you didn’t read that, ahem.
what i’m wearing… black ‘Binx’ highwaisted jeans/topshop … cotton navy sweater and pleather bag/zara … pleather Chelsea boots/new look … beret(old)/h&m … lumberjack coat/vintage (possibly beyond retro) … sunnies/wild pony vintage …
I struck gold (or should that be navy?) when I spotted this Margaret Howell-esque (yes, I’m obsessed) turtleneck in the Zara summer sale (no guesses why it was 3.99) although my only regret is that I didn’t purchase it in cream and grey too, grrrr. It might just be the perfect fall/winter sweater, which obviously means I haven’t had it off my back in the last fortnight. Seriously though, why didn’t I buy it in cream and grey?!!!
Snug as a bug and happy as Larry walking across the wilds of Cornwall (kinda – does a well kept path still count?) has got to be the best way to spend any Sunday… in my humble opinion. Here’s to many more.
I’ve got a tiny confession to make. My cookbook library is kinda small. Make that very small. In fact, count them on two hands small. Little as it is though, I do use actually them, which is why I tend not to buy in bulk when it comes to recipe books, instead preferring to get good wear out of the ones I do own… however, that’s not say more aren’t welcome on my bookshelf (Christmas is nearing, hint, hint). Food blogs probably have a lot to do with my meagre cookbook collection too although I will admit there is nothing like leafing through a hard copy filled with dreamy images – in my opinion, computer screens will just never match the tactile beauty of a book.
My other confession (can you tell I was taised Catholic?) is that I never seem to be able to stick rigidly to a recipe. Of course, that helps when one is transforming a Nigella dish into a vegan friendly affair but baffles even myself when the recipe at hand is (a.) vegan (b.) delicious. Why mess with something that already works and tastes, well, fab? I guess sticking by the rule set was never my strong suit. So, even when I discover a recipe like this one (that’ll be Joy Wilson’s ‘Vegan Pumpkin Everything Bread’ I’m referring to), I can’t help but tweak it to suit my own tastes and needs (cue sugar reduction, vanilla extract addition, rye flour substitution etc.etc.) Like I said, me and rules never did mix very well… even when the rules were (read are) perfectly good ones. With that said, the basic recipe has been a firm favourite round these parts for years (literally) and we now enjoy it every year on Christmas morning with a cup of tea , as we sit around exchanging gifts. You could say it’s become something of a family tradition.
And even though I have pumpkin bread recipes of my own, which are darkly spiced and equally yummy, I really wanted to share this Joy The Baker favourite of mine because it’s kinda where my love for pumpkin bread really began. Yes, I’ve changed it up a bit throughout the years but it’s such an infallible recipe, any amendments you wish to make yourself will not affect it’s ultimate awesomeness – trust me, I’ve done all the experimenting for you.
Whilst it’s not exactly a Halloween recipe (more like a general autumnal offering) I still feel the need to say…
what you’ll need
adapted from Joy The Baker
11/4 cups plain white flour
1/2 cup rye flour
3/4 cup unrefined caster sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave or other vegan sweetener
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 small apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
what you’ll do
pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.
grease a medium-sized loaf tin.
mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl (flours, sugar, bicarb, baking powder, salt and spices).
whisk together the puree, oil, extract, agave and water until thoroughly combined.
make a well in the centre of your flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. fold gently until everything is almost combined before stirring through the pecans, apple and cranberries.
transfer to the loaf tin, top with whole pecans and dust over a little more sugar and cinnamon before baking for around 1hr or until a skewer comes out clean.
let the loaf cool for around 10mins before gently removing from the tin and cooling completely on a rack. once completely cooled, slice, eat and smile.
Remember those pumpkin seeds I told you to hang to? Well, now we’re gonna roast ‘em. I’ve got several tried and tested methods for doing this including ‘keeping all the gunk on’ (I like the added flavour it gives them), ‘rinsing them thoroughly’ (I realise many of you are averse to the pumpkin gunk) and then this one, which is a ‘boil/rinse scenario’ (which ensures maximum gunk free-ness and therefore optimum mass appeal). Even though you can totally skip this stage I thought it best to hedge my bets here and offer up a roasted pumpkin seed recipe that would appeal to most people… i.e. even those amongst us who don’t share an obsessive love for all things pumpkin. Yep, they do exist.
I’ve opted to keep the coating a tad more traditional too for the purposes of this post (it’s essentially a ‘pumpkin spice’ mix) and leave it up to you to do some experimenting in your own kitchen should this combo not appeal. You could easily go down the savoury route … why not try a spicy cayenne pepper mix or even a simple salt and pepper one, which will really let those seeds shine. Whatever you choose, the basic method stays the same – boil, rinse, dry, roast. The rest really is yours to play with.
what you’ll need
raw pumpkin seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp muscovado sugar
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch sea salt
what you’ll do
pre-heat the oven the 200 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.
separate the seeds from the pulp, discarding any that look hollow or too small – you should yield about 1/2 cup from each medium-sized pumpkin.
bring a small pan of salted water to the boil, add the seeds and simmer for 10minutes. drain and rinse thoroughly. dry with a clean tea towel and transfer to a baking dish.
mix the spices, sugar, oil and salt in a pestle and mortar until thoroughly combined. sprinkle the spice mix over the pumpkin seeds and stir until everything is completely coated.
transfer the seeds unto a baking sheet and spread out until they separated. roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently – after 25minutes be sure to check them every few minutes as they can turn from perfectly roasted to perfectly burnt in minutes.
remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving. eat, crunch, repeat.
Today marks the first post in what I hope will be a regular feature on the blog… the ‘How To…’ series. I may be setting myself up for a fall even by saying this but (wait for it) I think I’m ready to throw myself back into my blogging in a big way. Sure, I post here and there (and I always try to make sure it’s quality content) but I sometimes feel like I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties (consider my knuckles well and truly wrapped) so this is me doing my best to make up for all those squandered would-be blogging hours and rectify the situation pronto as best I can. Usually it’s my incessant (and probably incurable) over-thinking that prevents me from posting more frequently, which is why a format like this one might be a good way of getting me over this ‘but is it really blogworthy?’ hurdle.
With that said, it recently occurred to me I often don’t cover the basics here on PeaSoupEats and seeing as it’s nearing Halloween (and I loves me some Halloween!!) I suspected a mini tutorial on all things pumpkin related would be useful and hopefully welcome by those of you who reach for the can of Libby’s more often than you care to admit.
My own pumpkin puree days began during our stint in the States – ah, ChiTown, you did give me some sweet, sweet pumpkin memories. Prior to that I was completely unaware of anything of the pumpkin variety and that includes pumpkin spice lattes (hurry up and make them vegan already!), pumpkin pie (oh Lordy) and, my personal fav, pumpkin bread… Ob.Sessed.
One thing I would like to make absolutely clear at this stage, however, is that no two pumpkins are made equal. I roasted two for the purposes of this post (that brings my current seasonal tally to four) because the first was way too pale in colour and unusually watery in consistency. It’s not a typical occurrence by any means but as soon as I opened her up I knew she wasn’t a goodun – nothing goes to waste in this house though so the puree (as anemic looking as it is) will absolutely be put to good use. Thankfully Sainsbury’s came up trumps with the next pumpkin, which yieled a beautifully vibrant sunset orange puree that I’ve already used to lipsmacking effect in a risotto. Don’t say I never suffered for my craft.
So. Here I am. Pumpkin puree offering in hand. Ready for the week ahead when I’ll be transforming all that luscious golden nectar into some delicious (I tried to think of a more descriptive word but these early mornings are difficult enough as it is) sweet and savoury dishes for your perusal. Okay then, enough of the babble, let’s get to it.
What you’ll need
1 small/medium-sized edible pumpkin
What you’ll do
pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.
halve the pumpkin using a paring knife (I find that large knives are much more difficult to manoeuver in this instance) and scoop out all the seeds… I invested in one of those little carving kits this year and the mini shovel thing was a godsend although a dessert spoon will also suffice.
put the pumpkin seeds/innards in a bowl and set aside for later (I’ll be showing you ‘How to… ‘ roast these suckers in the next tutorial) and place the halved pumpkin pieces flesh side down in a large baking dish… as you can see I roasted two pumpkins and the smaller of them fitted snuggly in one dish.
pour about 1/2 cup water over the pumpkin halves to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. roast in the pre-heated oven for around 60minutes or until the skin pierces easily when poked with a knife.
remove the pumpkin from the oven and turn them over immediately so they are flesh side up and let them cool for around 10mins before scooping out the soft flesh. let the the pumpkin flesh cool further for around 30-40minutes before blending (I use a Froothie Optimum 9400) until completely smooth. place the puree in a tupperware container and refrigerate overnight.
et voila, you’ve just made pumpkin puree!