Easy No-Bake Granola Bars

 

Where has this week gone? I feel like I’ve got absolutely nothing done and all of a sudden we’re being hurtled back into another weekend… ugh. Thankfully, I have had some precious time to spend in the kitchen creating this and that for the forthcoming book. These no-bake granola bars were a second attempt because the first batch were a bit too crumbly for my liking (I instagrammed them for posterity though!) so it was immediately back to the drawing board, which quickly resulted in me adding more nut butter and coconut oil – and hey presto, they came out perfectly. My Husband was so taken with them he wanted to bring the lot into work… unfortunately for him I still hadn’t yet snapped the little blighters for the blog so he’ll have to make do with a weekend’s worth of nutty, chewy bars at his disposal. I’m certain he won’t be complaining.

 

You could easily play about with the add-in’s … it would be great with goji berries and pistachios too. It’s such a stupidly simple recipe to whip up and (aside from refrigeration) would make a terrific last minute option for bake sales and the like. They’ve already been put on the snack rotation list here and, in my humble opinion, equal bliss balls in their nummy nutritional greatness – I’m going to have so much fun creating variations and already have my sights set on a full-on cacao version complete with nibs. Yep, this one is definitely a keeper.
 

what you’ll need

150g oats

1/2 tbsp maca powder (optional)

30g almonds, roughly chopped

30g sunflower seeds

30g pumpkin seeds

30g raisins

2 large medjool dates, chopped

30g desiccated coconut

30g chocolate chips

1 ripe banana

4 tbsp coconut oil, melted

3 tbsp peanut butter

2 tbsp cashew or almond butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 tbsp agave

pinch salt

 

what you’ll do

mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

 

mash the banana and whisk in the melted coconut oil, nut butters, vanilla extract and agave until completely smooth. pour over the granola mix and stir to combine.

 

line a brownie tin and tip the sticky granola into it, flattening to the edges with the back of a spatula.

 

refrigerate for at least 6 hours. cut lengthways into long bars and then halve each one – you should get about 16 bars from each batch.

 

tip: melt some dark chocolate chips and drizzle over the top before cutting. refrigerate for about 30 mins before serving.

 
 

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PANCAKE TUESDAY… Vegan ‘Buttermilk’ Pancakes


Photo Credit: ALI ALLEN

 

It’s Pancake Tuesday, which can only mean one thing… er, well, pancakes. As a self-confessed pancake crazed loon I have about a gazillion variations up my sleeve for such occasions but none really top my ultimate “Summer Berry ‘Buttermilk’ Pancake” recipe from my cookbook Keep it Vegan. It’s not too late to grab a ‘nana and some flour on your way home and whip up a storm in your kitchen after work – I know my Husband will be expecting a batch as soon as he walks through the door and I shall gladly oblige. The candied walnuts are my favourite pancake topping too. I just love the added bit of crunch they lend to the dish, particularly alongside the uber-soft pancakes… I’m a texture gal, through and through. Of course, seeing as it’s not summer, I’ll forgive you for opting for a more seasonal fruit although supermarkets seem to stock berries year round these days so you shouldn’t have a problem getting hold of them. What really sets these pancakes apart from the rest is the ‘buttermilk’ element, which is simply soya milk that has been mixed with cider vinegar and set aside to curdle – sounds horrendous, tastes incredible. It really gives this dish depth of flavour and renders them slightly fluffier too… whatever chemical reaction it instigates, I ain’t complain’ – just eatin’ ‘em up and makin’ some more. Happy Pancake Day!!
 

Summer Berry ‘Buttermilk’ Pancakes

Makes 8-10 pancakes/serves 2-4

 

Pancakes are perfect brunch time fodder and a sure-fire way to get your weekend off to a good start as well as impressing guests. This basic mixture can be tweaked and added to as desired (blueberries, choc chips or raisins work wonderfully too), but I just love this candied walnut and nutmeg combo.

 

Ingredients:

For the pancakes

150g plain white flour

40g caster sugar

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

pinch of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

240ml soya milk

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 banana, peeled and mashed

15g soya butter

1 tablespoon sunflower oil plus extra for cooking

 

For the candied walnuts

100g walnut pieces

1 tablespoon agave nectar

 

To serve

fresh berries

freshly grated nutmeg

agave nectar or maple syrup

 

Method:

1) In a large bowl thoroughly combine the dry pancake ingredients. Mix together the soya milk and cider vinegar in a jug, set aside for several minutes and allow to curdle – this will be the ‘buttermilk’ element.

 

2) Whisk the banana into the soya milk mixture. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture, folding gently until incorporated.

 

3) Melt the butter with the oil in a medium, non-stick frying pan and pour into the bowl, ensuring everything is fully incorporated – I use a whisk. Allow the pancake mix to sit for a while – the pancakes will puff up better.

 

4) Preheat the oven to 100°C/gas mark ¼. Heat a little more oil in the frying pan and add a small ladleful of mixture to form a pancake. Don’t overcrowd the pan – only cook one or two pancakes at a time. They should come to about 8cm in diameter. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface before flipping over and cooking for a further few minutes on the other side. Transfer to a plate and keep the pancakes warm in the oven – try not to stack them or they may go soggy.

 

5) Wipe the pan with kitchen paper, add the walnuts and toast on a medium heat for a few minutes before adding the agave. Allow the walnuts to become sticky and then slightly hard – stir constantly so they don’t stick to the pan.

 

6) Serve the pancakes with fresh berries, the candied walnuts, a good grating of nutmeg and lashings of agave or maple syrup. Brunch time!

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Cooking with Clearspring … Mega ‘Morning’ Chia Matcha Smoothie


 
It’s that time again … yup, ima cookin’ with Clearspring. Or rather, ‘constructing’ with Clearspring, as I’m not entirely sure making a smoothie counts as cooking. Regardless, this is one heck of a nutritious start to day, packed full of  ’em superfoods you hear people banging on about… and not without good reason too, I might add. Chia seeds are the buzzwords on everybody’s lips right now, partly due to their gelatinous texture when mixed with liquid that make them perfect for puddings and smoothies but also because, despite their minuscule form, they are nutritionally mighty. If you’re worried about your protein or omega-3 intake then these are the boys for you. They also happen to possess some antioxidant properties, which I’ve boosted further by the matcha inclusion. But (I hasten yo add) it’s not all about nutrition – it has to taste good too, so I’ve attempted to keep some flavour equilibrium by adding the dates (for sweetness, obvs.), kiwi, blueberries and lime… they have a touch of zesty sourness that work really well with the other ingredients. The avocado gives the smoothie that wonderful creaminess much in the same way a banana would but seeing as I know many of you like your smoothies sans banana, I thought this would be a terrific alternative. Not forgetting the coconut water too – in this instance it lends a much cleaner taste than plant milk. I must admit, I’m pretty taken with this particular ‘King Coco’ variety, which is seriously lush… I was tempted to just stick a straw in and be done with it but I’m glad I didn’t in the end because this smoothie was, well, mega.

 




 

what you’ll need 

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 bottle Clearspring ‘King Coco’ coconut water, chilled

1 heaped tsp Clearspring Matcha powder

1/2 avocado

1/2 kiwi

juice 1/2 lime

3 medjool dates, pitted

large handful blueberries

(optional) few ice-cubes

 

what you’ll do

place the chia seeds in a small bowl and cover with a little coconut water. set aside for 10 minutes to activate.

 

put everything into a high-speed blender (I use a Froothie) and blitz until completely smooth.

 

divide into two glasses and top with blueberries, chopped kiwi and chia seeds.

 

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Dressing for No-one

 

Vulnerability. This (not so) little word has been cropping up a lot of late and for some reason the notion behind it has really resonated with me. Being a self-confessed control freak probably means I am the least ‘vulnerable’ person in the world in the sense that I won’t allow myself to be. But, y’see, over the past year it’s begun to dawn on me that perhaps my lack of vulnerability isn’t doing me any good. In fact, I’d probably go as far to say it’s doing me actual harm. I keep joking with my Husband that ‘I’ve lost the ability to relax’, which would be funny if weren’t so true. Of course, there are things in my life I can’t help but fret about (my Dad’s illness is never far from my mind) but that still doesn’t account for my anxiety levels being continually through the roof. Up until recently I’d never considered myself to be an ‘anxious’ person but perhaps I just don’t know myself as well as I previously thought. Being permanently glued to the internet certainly doesn’t help matters although I have taken measures to combat this, such as not browsing the web before bedtime (yup, my New Year’s resolution is still going strong!) and also having designated internet-free days … we both did it last Saturday and it was bliss.

 

Okay, so at least I’m recognising things are not quite what they should be, and again, I keep coming back to this ‘vulnerability’ thing. How can I make myself more vulnerable? What does it entail? I know a lot of what is holding me back is the fear or failure or rejection – I am both a people pleaser and a perfectionist so this is particularly hard for me. Much like the rest of the world I also compare myself to others from time to time but with a seemingly endless bevy of beautiful, talented and witty females floating about this is basically a highway to no-where. So why do we do it? I have my own abilities and unique way of doing things … it may not be the best way but it works for me – and thankfully, a few other people seem to like it too. I’m generally happy with my appearance and have accepted my face and form for what they are although that doesn’t mean I won’t still have a ‘I hate my thighs’ tantrum from time to time. It’s only natural. Like most women I only see the bad bits when I look at images of myself, which is why you’ve not seen many outfit posts on here of late – I just couldn’t face editing photos of myself in various ridiculous poses.

 

However, in the interests of fully instigating this vulnerability melarkey I thought it only too apt to begin by opening myself up a little more on here. No, the shots are not in some fun location (baby steps) but I felt more comfortable easing myself back in, in my own back yard and the outfit is hardly noteworthy either, but again, this is all about offering up the truth and not some styled-to-the-max version of my very quiet Cornish life. Without a doubt my style has changed significantly since moving here – and if I’m being honest with myself, it’s definitely for the better. It’s a more laid back look these days with still the odd pop of colour and print but generally speaking I take my inspiration from places like Toast (I want everything), OSKA (my fav place to browse in St.Ives), Egg (one day I will visit this store!) and Margaret Howell (her ad campaigns are the epitome of cool, casual) than I do looking at trendy fashion blogs or their magazine counterparts. I simply can’t relate to it any more.

 

 

Paired down with a smidge of personality is the way forward for me, and I’m not even a little bit sad about it. It’s actually a relief not worrying about these things although that doesn’t mean I still don’t get excited by clothes – I’m currently obsessed with a denim pinafore I bought recently online and cannot wait to wear it. My eye is drawn to cleaner lines and dramatic shapes, as well as natural fabrics such a organic cottons and linens… ugh, and don’t even get me started on denim. This mustard cardi was a highstreet bargain I picked up on a recent trip to London. I would never normally shop at Forever 21 but it was only place open on Bond Street at the time and I was surprised (understatement) at how nice the range was … not super trendy with loads of nice basics. Who knew? And even though there’s a big part of me that hates to feed the fast fashion machine I couldn’t resist making a purchase – not a great excuse but my meagre budget will only stretch so far and with a price-tag of £6.99 I hadn’t the strength to walk away. It’s immediately become a staple in my wardrobe and I wear it almost everyday – like seriously, every-day.

 

The jeans you’ve seen before and the blouse was a secondhand find from when I worked in Kentish Town. Oh, and the shoes are an ASOS special that have come in very handy indeed. I’m a total mid-heel girl and these give me enough height without crippling me – I love their patent retro vibe too. Comfort is key here and whilst I might switch up the items, my core ensemble of late is resolutely jeans, tops, cardi, go. I may throw a scarf on my head but that’s about as adventuress it gets these days. So, I’ve clearly mastered the casual attire bit, now to work on that over-active mind of mine. Vulnerability, here I ruddy-well come.

 

what i’m wearing…
jeans/topshop
blouse/charity shop
necklace & cardigan/forever 21
shoes/asos

 



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Cooking with Clearspring … Coconut Rice Pudding with Prune Puree & Persimmon


 

Today marks the first in a series of posts I have dubbed ‘Cooking with Clearspring’, which will see me utilising a few of the truly awesome ingredients from their entirely vegan range of foodie goodies. If you don’t know already, I am huge fan of Clearspring products and use them all the time in my kitchen, so when they sent through a gift box full to bursting with noodles, (two different types of) miso, oil … and even matcha (!!!) I did a little happy dance and then promptly got down to cooking. I hummed and hawed what to use first before unleashing the power of the coconut in this Asian inspired twist on a very British classic – the mighty (and occasionally contentious) rice pudding.

 

Now, I’m sure we all have memories (good and bad) of rice pudding growing up – thankfully, mine are all triumphant. My Dad happened to be an expert rice pudding maker so you could say I learnt from the best. It was always unctuously creamy with just the right amount of sweetness. In a nutshell, this dessert spells home, comfort and quiet Sunday nights with a warming bowl of pud in my hand … ah, memories. And because those memories can never be matched, I knew it was time to put my own spin on things and so this coconut ‘sushi rice’ version was born – it certainly helps having top notch ingredients at your disposal too.

 

The sushi rice kernels are the perfect shape and size for this type of pudding. They won’t loose their shape and disintegrate into mush, and are just brilliant at absorbing all that yummy coco-nutty flavour … they also have a natural sweetness, which, when combined with the coconut milk, means you hardly have to add any sweetener at all. I choose to go down the palm sugar route with this one (keeping with the broadly speaking ‘Asian’ theme and all that) but you could easily sub it out for any sweetener of your choosing (agave, maple, brown rice syrup or even plain ol’ sugar). In my opinion though, quality coconut milk is crucial in this instance and because the Clearspring variety I used here was so smooth and creamy, all the hard work was done for me. I didn’t have to linger over the stove for hours on end like normal rice pudding either – just 30mins and, bingo, you’re done.

 

The biggest revelation for me was actually the prune puree. I could literally eat this stuff straight out of the pot and will definitely be using it again on yoghurt and oatmeal … it is sheer fruity heaven. Because it possesses all that lovely sourness, it was the ultimate antidote to the milky richness of the rice pudding. The persimmon (sharon fruit) was a final flourish on what is already a delightful dessert but feel free to leave it off if you can’t get your hands on one. Personally, I’m obsessed with these maple flavoured fruits, and therefore will use them at any available opportunity.

 

Even if you’re recoiling in horror at the thought of revisiting a school dinner-esque nightmare, I’m hoping this updated version might just be enough to sway you… your new and improved rice pudding future awaits!
 



 

 what you’ll need

1/2 cup Clearspring sushi rice

1 x can Clearspring coconut milk

1 heaped tbsp palm sugar

Clearspring prune puree

1 x persimmon/sharon fruit

desiccated coconut to garnish

 

what you’ll do

thoroughly rinse the sushi rice and set aside.

 

empty the contents of the coconut milk into a small pan and bring to a gentle simmer.

 

whisk in the rice and stir vigorously in the first few minutes to ensure the kernels don’t clump.

 

add the palm sugar and reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. It is vital you stir frequently to prevent sticking, adding a little water now and then if it appears too thick.

 

peel and slice the persimmon.

 

serve hot or cold topped with a spoonful of prune puree, sliced persimmon and dessicated coconut.

 

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Raw Carrot, Cashew & Pesto Tart

 

Work is now well underway with the new book, which means I’m up to my ears and elbows in ingredients whilst I recipe test this and that. Some recipes are ones I stored (not literally) from the last book (we just couldn’t fit everything in) but most are brand spanking new, and everyday there seems to be more – aaarrgghh! The hard task is deciding what ones to use so I’ll be filtering a few out from time to time here on the blog.

 

This raw tart is one such recipe. I absolutely loved it (and so did my Hubby) so I wanted to share it now rather than wait. Now, I know I was ranting on about stews and casseroles not so long along but I feel Christmas is far enough behind us that we can properly contemplate Spring and get our systems officially prepped and ready.

 

Raw food is a bit of a passion of mine and as the months become warmer I try to include more dishes like this in my diet. It’s not so much a cleanse but I can’t deny eating this way makes me feel kinda amazing and maybe a wee bit smug… although I know 100% raw is out of the question for me – I just love my stove/oven too much. In saying that,when summer hits I’ll be back to eating my two raw meals a day and one cooked (usually in the evening – I’m a sucker for a summer bbq), which I’ve discovered is a good balance for me.

 

This triple layered tart (pie, slice, whatever you want to call it) is a great combination of tangy, herby and subtly sweet – that’ll be the carrots for ya – and makes for an impressive little starter or lunch option. The trick here (and with all raw food really) is selecting/using the correct equipment – that is, knowing when to utilise the blender, food processor or, as is often the case with me, my trusty Delia mini chopper. That thing never fails me.

 

I sometimes get messages regarding raw cheesecakes or cashew cheeses saying the texture wasn’t quite as smooth as they had hoped, and usually this can be directly attributed to what equipment was used. That is, for crusts and cheeses, I will always use a processor or mini chopper (depending on the quantities) and for creams I rely on my blender. Now, this doesn’t have to be a fancy high-speed blender but I can’t deny my Froothie does help in getting those creams and cheesecakes especially smooth.

 

For the pesto part, it can go either way but my preference here is to go down the mini chopper route because you’ll want to retain a little coarseness to aid the overall texture – crucial with raw food, in my humble opinion. You might need to scrape down the sides a few times with a spatula but that’s no great hardship in the grand scheme of things.

 

You could achieve a firmer consistency overall by popping each layer into the freezer in between but seeing as I currently don’t possess one (although hopefully that will soon be rectified) I made do with the fridge and it turned out pretty great. To ensure the layers don’t bleed into one another, do make sure each one is fairly well set (it will never be solid) before adding the next – the coconut oil addition definitely helps.

 

I love serving tarts like this on a rustic wooden board in the centre of the table and let everyone help themselves. The vibrant colours go a long way to dispelling those longheld myths that raw food is all ‘rabbit food and deprivation’ and gives it more of an inclusive, accessible feel – not some holier than thou cuisine that serves to alienate half your guests. Not my style. I’m all about winning people over through delicious, wholesome, attractive food… and, thankfully,  I’ve not had any complaints yet.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Your raw food future is just a slice away – you might be surprised how good it actually tastes.

 

 

what you’ll need

for the crust

2 small carrots

70g walnuts

1 tbsp mixed seeds

1 heaped tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

salt & pepper

 

finely grate the carrots and squeeze out any excess juice into a bowl – reserve this juice for the sauce.

 

place everything into a processor or mini chopper and blitz until it forms a fine rubble. taste for seasoning and add a little more salt & pepper if necessary.

 

line a small tray or loaf tin with baking parchment and press the crust evenly into the bottom.

 

freeze or refrigerate for half an hour.

 

for the cream

130g soaked cashews

juice 1/2 lemon

50ml water

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

salt & pepper

 

place everything into a blender and blitz until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as you go.

 

check for seasoning and then pour over the carrot crust, reserving one heaped tablespoon for the carrot sauce. Smooth out with a spatula.

 

freeze or refrigerate for around an hour.

 

for the pesto

30g basil Leaves

30g spinach

2 tbsp mixed nuts (walnuts and pecans work best)

juice ½ lemon

1 small garlic clove

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp flaxseed oil

salt and pepper

 

place the pesto ingredients into a small food processor or chopper and blend until coarse but spreadable. taste for seasoning and add a touch more salt and pepper if necessary.

 

refrigerate for 20 minutes.

 

for the carrot serving sauce

reserved carrot juice

1 tbsp cashew cream

1/2 medjool date

 

place the reserved carrot juice into a blender, add the cashew cream and date and blitz until completely smooth.

assembling the tart

 

carefully lift the tart out of the tin and ease it onto a serving board. spoon over the pesto and carefully spread out using a spatula.

 

drizzle over the carrot sauce and adorn with crushed hazelnuts

 

et voila, your raw vegan tart is served!

 

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Currently Coveting


 

I am just about clinging on this month so I need every materialistic comfort I can get my hands on to see me through. Surrounding myself with pretty things is just the ticket to beating these January blues and a good book (namely ‘Not That Kind Of Girl’) is also required, especially during this so-called ‘digital detox’ I’ve imposed upon myself. Luckily for me Lena Dunham’s witty writing style is perfect bedtime fodder and the make-do tea lights (more on those in a minute) are on point too in setting that sleepy-bye-byes mood.

 

A couple of things here are Christmas gifts from my Husband (that man truly gets me) but before I wax lyrical about my latest Mary Quant scarf let me draw your attention to the cute personalised stamps I acquired from NotOnTheHighStreet. I must confess, I’d never ordered anything from there before although I’ve always been intrigued by their wares. I’d intended to give out edible gifts at Christmastime (hence the stamp) but unfortunately due to my absolute self-confessed stupidity I listed the wrong postcode meaning it (along with the requisite cellophane bags) didn’t arrive in time. Ugh. Idiot. Thankfully I’ll still get good use out of them but I was infuriated (at myself) at the time.

 

Onto the scarf then. Another absolute beauty sourced online and given to me by my wonderful Husband… I adore Mary Quant and this colourful option is going to get so much wear during the summer. I’ve been playing around with different ways to style it although I think I’ll probably end up using it most as a headscarf. What can I say? J’adore.
 



 
The charm bracelet was a ridiculous (like, five quid ridiculous) bargain I found at a terrific vintage jeweller’s in Derry called The Whatnot. They have sooooo much incredible stuff in there, I could seriously spend hours browsing the shelves. We were actually on some official earring business (my Dad was buying my Mum’s Christmas gift) when I spied it out of the corner of my eye and knew I had to have it. I kind of feel like it’s an homage to our London days, even though it wasn’t actually bought in London. And I can’t deny, I did come over all nostalgic for those happy years we spent in the capital although I’m not sure how much fun it would be now. Rose tinted glasses, eh?

 

Herbal teas are where I’m at and Yogi is a fav brand of mine – this one was Sweet Chai and it has a real spicy kick to it. Sometimes I add a splash of soya milk and a teaspoon of agave but today I enjoyed it ‘au naturale’. I also love how each bag comes with a philosophical saying or quote. This one read:

 

In distant travel you learn about yourself

Too true.

 

Having just recently discovered my skin type is ‘dry’ (and what with this winter weather wreaking havoc with my skin) I was desperate to find a natural solution. I did some research (YouTube is a wondrous thing!) and Argan Oil came up a lot, so I knew I had to try it. I’ve been using it solidly since before Christmas (I apply it after removing my make-up in the evening) and now I’m a total 100% Argan Oil convert – it really does live up to the hype. Whereas before I was waking up in the morning with a tightness in my skin, it now feels soft and supple and totally hydrated. If, like me, you also suffer from dry skin then I honestly can’t recommend this stuff highly enough. The brand I went for was Dr.Organic, which can be purchased at Holland & Barrett. Go try it ! Now!

 

Oh, and those simple glass tealight holders once contained scented candles. All I did was wash them out and I must say I really am quite taken with them. That’s my kind of recycling! What are you currently coveting? Leave me comment below.

 

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‘Keep it Vegan’ at Waitrose Cookery School


 
PHOTO CREDIT – ALI ALLEN

Okay, so January isn’t exactly whizzing by but maybe that’s not such a bad thing … after all it gives us time to really adjust to those resolutions. If you’ve decided to give Veganuary a whirl or are just looking to tweak your diet for the better then why not join me for a full day of vegan cooking at the Waitrose Cookery School in Finchley on Saturday 24th January between 9.30am and 4pm. There are still some spots left on the course (but you best hurry before they sell-out!) where I’ll be taking you through some specially selected recipes from my book ‘Keep it Vegan’.

 

The price for the full day is 150pounds, which will supply you with all your ingredients and equipment plus wine with lunch. The course is not aimed directly at vegans either – everybody is welcome at my table and I am so excited to connect with you all in reality. So, even if you’re just a teeny bit curious or simply want to expand your vegan/veggie menu (especially handy when you have vegan guests!) I have endeavored to tailor the day to be as expansive and inclusive as possible.
 
Here’s what you can expect…
 
When you arrive you will be met with freshly prepared Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins and Bircher Muesli, which you will then learn to make yourself.
 
Afterwards we will begin preparing our lunch, which will include my Macaro-no Cheese followed by one of my personal favs from the book – the Indian Spiced Tacos. Next up I’ll be offering some tofu tips before taking you through my Sweet ‘n’ Sour Tofu dish step by step. This will be accompanied by my Green Bean Salad with Lemon, Garlic & Chilli as well as the ever-popular Cumin Spiced Carrots - because, in my opinion, side dishes are equally important as the main!
 
Dessert dishes will include my easy-peasy Carrot Cake Bites (for the health conscious amongst us) as well as my super-rich Fudgy Brownies (for those of us who don’t mind a little sugar in our lives). Yikes, I don’t know about you but I’m full already, haha!
 
To cap the day off I decided to go with my No-knead Carrot & Courgette Bread alongside my Balsamic and Black Peppercorn Cashew Cheese because they’re great ones to have up your sleeve. And that’s that!
 
I will, of course, be available to answer any questions you have so feel free to ask away on the day – look forward to seeing you there!
 

BOOK YOUR PLACE ON THE ‘KEEP IT VEGAN’ COOKERY COURSE HERE

 

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‘New Year, New You’ Cannellini Bean & Spring Green Stew


 
It’s a new year folks and I for one am ready to wipe the slate clean and start anew. Sayonara 2014, I’ve seen enough of your sorry ass and I’m more than ready to move on. In honour of this fresh beginning we have laid out before us (please be kind 2015!) I’ve decided to strip things right back to basics. Nothing fancy. No unpronounceable ingredients or long-winded instructions. Simply a straightforward stew. Comforting. Familiar. Seasonal. And super easy to make. I (and I hope you) approve.

 

I talked of resolutions in my last post and I’m pleased to inform you that one in particular has been something of revelation. The whole ‘no internet before bed’ thing is having a staggering effect on my sleep. Not forcing stimulation on my already tired, social-media sensitized brain is like a magic cure for overactive minds that tend to worry into the wee hours of the night. It’s quite literally like turning off the light in my head. If you haven’t made such a resolution yourself, I seriously urge you to give it a go – especially if you’re in need of a good nights kip like myself.

 

Back to the stew then. Straight-up comfort food is what I’m after during these dark months – not least in January when my morale is at an all time low. Just when I think I have a handle on things, boom, something else sidles out of the woodwork just to add an extra level of stress to my day. Hence the ultra pared down images with minimal accessories, which kinda reflect my current need to focus on the job at hand without any major distractions. Chance would be a fine thing.

 

I realise this probably all sounds like I’m talking in code but suffice to say the second book is underway meaning the next few months are going to be cra-zy. Not least because the current book is yet to be released in the US (it’s launching in Feb, by the way) so it’s all systems go. I’ll be blogging as much as I can during this hectic period – I actually find a lot of solace here and it’s also a great way for me to flesh out ideas. For now though, a soothing bowl of spring green stew it is.
 


 

what you’ll need

1 tbsp olive oil

2 brown onions

2 large carrots

3 celery sticks

1 sprig rosemary

several sprigs of thyme

a few sage leaves

4 cloves garlic

5 salad potatoes

1 vegetable stock cube

380g drained cannellini beans

two large handful spring greens

salt and pepper

30g flat leaf parsley

 

what you’ll do

heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan. roughly chop the onion, carrot and celery and add to pan. season, cover and sweat for several minutes until they begin to soften.

 

finely chop the rosemary, thyme and sage. add to pan and stir to coat. sweat for several more minutes. finely slice the garlic and add to pan. cover and let the garlic infuse for a few minutes.

 

roughly chop the salad potatoes and add to pan. stir to combine before covering with water and adding the stock cube. bring to gently simmer and cook for around 10-15minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.

 

add the spring greens followed by the drained and rinsed cannellini beans, season and cover. let the greens wilt into the stew before stirring to combine, then simmer gently for around 10minutes. check seasoning and serve with a generous scattering of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley. a hunk of crusty bread would be perfect to mop up any juices too.

 

 

 

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2014… the year that was

 

Well folks, that’s a wrap. For 2014 anyway. It’s been a mix of the very good (I released my first cookbook and signed a deal for the second) and the very bad (my Dad was diagnosed with Brain Cancer) – I think that’s called irony or perhaps it’s just ‘life’. Thankfully we have rallied together at this traumatic time and even though we’ve been essentially knocked for six, we enter the New Year positive and full of hope. Heck, what’s the other option?

 

I thought it would be an appropriate time then to take a look through the blog and pluck out a few of my highlights. As ever, I’m always looking to improve my content and I’m still refining my style (whether it be food or fashion) and the yearly blog review is a great way of tracking my tastes and how they continue to evolve. Being self-critical is par for the course in this game (as my fellow bloggers will verify) and whilst I’ll be the first to point out my failings, I find it nigh impossible to take a compliment graciously. So, even though I’m not one for resolutions I’m hoping to take it a little easier on myself in 2015… well, I’ll certainly try.
 


 

Other ‘resolutions’ (such as they are) include (1.) Eating our evening meal at the table (2.) Not using our phones before bedtime and (3.) Spending more time in the sea. In between I’ll be squirreling away on my new book (whilst still trying to promote this one – the US launch is in Feb!), getting back to Derry as much as I feasibly can to see my Dad and living my beautiful Cornish life. From me to you then I wish you all a peaceful, happy and successful New Year – see you on the flip side!
 

from the top…
 

1. Living the Dream

2. Vegan Beetroot Chocolate Cake

3. Spring Uniform

4. Keep it Vegan

5. Pomegranate & Thyme Mocktail

6. Vegan Wholemeal ‘Buttermilk’ Scones

7. Keeping it Real

8. Power Smoothie

9. In the Rushes

10. Eggplant Involtini
 

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