No Added Sugar Banana, Date and Pecan Bread

Well lookie here, a no added sugar Banana, Date and Pecan Bread I made especially for Marcus Samuelsson. I was very careful not to call it a sugar free banana bread – I think I’ve learnt my lesson with that one;) Nethertheless, I’m pretty confident the lack of refined sugar will appeal to a few of you out there and I can say for sure that the taste and texture was spot on and exactly what I was after. Thick, hearty, flavourful and filling.

Like I’ve said in the Marcus Samuelsson article, this is not one of those cake breads. This is a full on bread bread (not overly sweet) that definitely needs a generous smear of vegan spread to be fully enjoyed at its best. I’ve also recommended it be served with a proper cup of tea.

I’m currently obsessed with teapots. Seriously. Obsessed. I have a large one I use for breakfast (it holds about four cups) and a smaller one that comes complete with its own cup that holds just under two cups. I realise that sounds like a lot of tea and it is but be rest assured I do not consume six cups of tea a day. No, no, no. I usually half fill the large teapot (it’s bright orange you know!) and my Husband and I have a cup each in the morning and I use my weenie teapot about twice a week for a little treat in the afternoon. Well, I do live in England after all!

Okay, I think that’s enough detail regarding my tea drinking habits and I haven’t even entered herbal territory yet so I’ll leave it there for now.

If you fancy an afternoon tea and bread treat then look no further………..here it is!

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Harissa Cous Cous and Roasted Sweet Potato

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about blogs. My favourite ones. Ones I dislike. Ones I’m indifferent to. And, of course, my own meagre offeringAll this musing has led me to discover I like blogs that are personal (maybe a bit too personal), involve food in some shape or form and contain oodles of great photos. Oomph! Photos. That’s a whole other post so let me regain some focus and hone in on personality.

My favourite blogs have personality by the bucketload. Whilst they may not tell you everything about a person, you can learn so much from reading someone’s thoughts. Erm, that didn’t sound as creepy in my head. Ahem, anyway, all of my top rated bloggers have the ability to make the mundane exciting and that is a serious gift. One I admire above anything else.

A good blogger will leave you gagging for more – in fact, I sometimes find myself desperately searching the archives of my fav blogs in the (mostly fruitless) hope of finding a post I have not yet read. I’m like a blogging junkie………..what do you mean they only back as far as 2007?!!!

In the midst of all this musing, I’ve been eating. No surprise there then. Mostly, it’s been throw it together style meals that I don’t have to think too much about – sometimes these are the best kind anyways. There was one exception this week when we had a guest on Thursday and I cobbled together a bit of a Mexican themed meal consisting of guacamole (the best guacamole!), an uber smoky chilli with quinoa and an unctuously chocolatey raw cheesecake complete with a smattering of raw cacao nibs –  so, so good. We washed everything down with a couple of lagaritas courtesy of the queen of kitsch, Nigella Lawson – she didn’t make them, I did, Nigella just provided the recipe: 1 part tequila, 1 part cointreau, top with lager and a good spritz of lime. Me likey mucho.

Before I get back to browsing my blogs I’ll leave you with two of the best…..

Joy The Baker

Bonzai Aphrodite

If you don’t do anything else today, take a look at these two blogs. They rock. If you decide to do something else, like say, a wee bit of cooking, why not try this….

harissa cous cous and roasted sweet potato

1/2 cup cous cous

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp ground coriander

pinch of cinnamon

pinch of chilli

1 tsp vegan vegetable bouillion powder

1/4 cup of freshly podded peas

1/4 cup mixed sprouted beans

1 tsp harissa paste

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt and pepper

1 large sweet potato

salt and pepper

olive oil

to serve

1/4 cup roasted red pepper hummus

juice of 1/2 lemon

pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit. Pierce the sweet potato all over with a fork. Rub with oil, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Place the cous cous in a bowl along with spices, salt and pepper. Mix the vegetable bouillion with 1/2 cup freshly boiled water and pour over the cous cous. Mix with a fork and cover with cling film or a plate (my preference). Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and then fluff with a fork.

Stir through the harissa paste until the cous cous is evenly coated.

Pod the peas and add to the cous cous along with the mixed sprouted beans. Lightly season and pour over the lemon juice and a little more oil (optional).

Serve warm in a bowl. Slice open the baked sweet potato and place on top of the cous cous. Mix the hummus with the lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper, dollop on the sweet potato and eat.

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Superfoods Salad

I’ve never posted a recipe without feeling the need to add a lengthy foreword, so today I’m trying out something new. I think I can get away with a short paragraph – just enough room to say I had no lemon (meant to buy one when I was out but forgot – doh!). The dressing could’ve done with a little citrus but still tasted pretty good and really complimented the blueberry, mushroom combo. Fruit in salad. It’s all the rage y’know! Had my handblender not been out of action I would’ve been tempted to make a raspberry dressing – double summer fruit action. Yeah baby!

Okay, now the recipe….

superfoods salad

1/2 small little gem lettuce

1 spring onion/scallion

1/4 cup sprouted mixed beans

1 large closed cup mushroom

1/4 cup organic blueberries

handful of mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, pine nuts etc.)

dressing

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp cider vinegar

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

cracked black pepper

1/2 tsp sugar or a squeeze of agave

juice of 1/2 lemon

Cut the little gem lettuce into small pieces, wash and dry. Transfer to a large bowl.

Finely slice the scallion and add to bowl. Toss in the sprouted beans.

Clean and gently peel the mushroom – slice very thinly and add to bowl.

Put all the ingredients for the dressing into an empty jar and shake vigorously until it emulsifies. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Pour half over the salad and mix thoroughly ensuring everything is evenly coated.

Wash the blueberries, add to bowl along with the mixed seeds and mix. Spoon over a little more dressing, gently toss and serve.

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Review – Seriously Good Spicy Red Curry

I’m not one for jarred sauces but when I was offered the chance to review one for the online magazine I write for I thought ‘why not!’. I hope I gave it a fair review – just because I got a free jar of sauce doesn’t mean I’m going to rave about it, that is so totally not my style. In fact, this was my first ever freebie and in all honesty I have mixed feelings about it; about getting it for free and subsequently semi-promoting it. In some ways I did feel under a little pressure to say nice things but in the end I went with honesty and everything I said was the truth – it wasn’t bad and it wasn’t brilliant, it was fine.

I suppose that’s why they send you out these things – in the hope you’ll big it up and encourage others to buy whatever it is they’re selling. Personally, I really hate feeling like someone is trying to sell me stuff – it immediately makes me think I can’t trust anything they say. You could say I have a huge aversion to advertising in any form but that doesn’t mean I’m not susceptible. I’m probably what you’d call a total sucker. In my opinion though the best advertising is the subtle kind where you don’t even realise you’re being manipulated – for example, there is no way on this earth I could walk past Anthroplogie without being drawn inside only to fill my basket to the brim and pop out the other side having spent a small fortune. Now that is clever marketing ’cause a girl (this girl) can never resist the pretty!

Speaking of Anthropologie, I had a very successful (when are they not?) trip there over the weekend. My excuse for making an unnecessary dent in our bank account (poor Hubbie) is always my blog – I need a variety of props to keep things interesting. Not for me, of course. For my readers. That’s you! So, if you look at it that way, I’ve bought these pretty accoutrements for your pleasure and really, when you think about it, that is a truly selfless act.

Where was I? Oh yes, the sauce. Read the review. Check out the little recipe I put together to bring out the best it had to offer and maybe purchase a jar yourself. Or not. It’s entirely up to you.

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Marcus Samuelsson Recipe – Radish, Watermelon and Bulgar Wheat Salad

Just checking in folks with an update on my last cryptic post, which alluded to some health issues that arose from blood tests we had taken last week. Seeing as it’s been a year since we went vegan we decided it was about time we got ourselves checked out.

I’d never had a blood test before and it was a pretty horrible experience –  I almost passed out and then they couldn’t draw any blood, ick, ick, ick. Finally they managed to get some out of me but to say it was unpleasant would be an understatement. Hopefully I won’t need to have another one for a while yet.

Hubbie’s test went smoothly (show off!) and we went away thinking we’d both be given a clean bill of health. That was until we received a phonecall the following day from the main Doctor at the surgery (never a good sign) to say there had been concern over Hubbie’s blood sugar levels and he was to come into the surgery first thing in the morning for another blood test. Um, what?!!

We were absolutely stumped and couldn’t believe what we’d just heard. Raised blood sugar levels? It just didn’t make sense. We thought we’d escaped the horrors of diabetes by going vegan. How could this happen? The next 24 hours were extremely fraught with thoughts of our future at the forefront of our minds. Like most people we’d planned to live long healthy lives – of course there are certain things you have no control over but the one thing that we thought we’d nailed was our diet. To be honest I was pretty angry.

The next morning, after convincing ourselves Hubbie definitely had diabetes, we made the short walk to the surgery. All the while we talked about how we were going to cope with this illness, which entailed a lifetime of injections. It would also limit where we could live – we’d always planned to try and move to the West Coast of America but what with the medical expenses we would now incur this seemed like an impossibility. In short, it sucked. Big time.

After the appointment with the Doctor we discovered that if Hubbie did indeed have diabetes it was the type 1 kind meaning it had zip to do with our diet, it was entirely genetic. It was nice to know it wasn’t our fault but truth be told it was little comfort.

What we could not have predicted was the next phonecall…… an apology from the Doctor to say there had been a misreading and thankfully Hubbie did not have diabetes. Quite the contrary. The second blood test confirmed his blood sugar, iron etc were all within a healthy range and we have absolutely nothing to worry about. Hubbie is healthy! When I heard this I could have collapsed from the relief.

It was a crazy few days but we realise how fortunate we are the outcome is a good one. We thanked (and are still thanking) our lucky stars. Never more poignant was the phrase ‘your wealth is your health’ – and boy is it. I’m sure we would have dealt with the diabetes (we would’ve had to) but not having to deal with it is such a blessing. After all the chaos we profoundly know that what we are doing is the right decision for us and we shall proudly continue with our plant based diet because it’s a lifestyle we truly believe in.

Most people celebrate with copious amounts of booze or chocolate, we celebrated with a salad, falafel and a chilled glass of vegan friendly fairtrade wine. It was sheer unadulterated bliss.

Here’s a link to the salad I made, which was featured on Marcus Samuelsson. Hope you enjoy and whatever you do remember to treasure your health xx

5 comments so far. Want to leave yours ?

Avocado Chocolate Pudding

In case you weren’t aware, I’m currently representing vegans over at online magazine Brew Drinking Thinkings. There’s been a few changes of late, as it’s gone from being a weekly publication to a monthly one, which is fine by me, as it gives me a wee bit of breathing space to get my blog under control and donate more time to my weekly Marcus Samuelsson contributions.

This recipe is taken from the most recent BDT publication – one of four recipes I might add, so be expecting a few more blog posts like this. I hope you don’t mind or think I’m being incredibly lazy by just linking to a recipe on another site. After all, it’s still my recipe. Just think of it as an extension of PeaSoupEats. Is that cool? I hope so. I really don’t want to neglect my readers. I love you guys. Too much? Okay, I’ll stop.

Apologies for my inappropriate display of cyber affection. I’m feeling a bit vulnerable at present. Nothing to be overly concerned about and I don’t want to go into details right now but suffice to say whatever the outcome we have been given the push we need to completely cut sugar out of our diet. It’s a relief in some ways because we’ve been aiming to do this for a while now – we tried and failed a couple of months back.

Not that we have an insane amount of the white stuff in our diet anyways – in fact, what sugar we do have is the less processed organic kind and I only ever use it in baking, which is fairly infrequently. Now that I’ve gone gaga over raw desserts, which generally contains no refined sugar, it’s not going to be such a big stretch to cut it out entirely. Hubbie had his first cup of tea sans sugar ever this morning and he actually quite liked it. Sure, it’ll take getting used to (we’re not that idealistic) but being vegan, and healthy vegans at that, I feel we’re three quarters of the way there already.

It seems rather appropriate then that the recipe I’m linking to here doesn’t contain any refined sugar. Yes, there are syrups and yes, maple syrup has a pretty high GI (glycemic index) so feel free to sub the little amount of maple syrup there is for something more GI friendly like agave or stevia. I realise there is loads of conflicting literature and information regarding agave so if you want to avoid it completely there are plenty of alternatives. Did you know stevia has a glycemic index rating of less than 1? Mental! Xylitol is pretty good too with a rating of 7 and date syrup is another excellent low GI alternative.

Actually, if you can’t get your hands on date syrup then four or five medjool dates should do the trick in this recipe and eaten in moderation can be very good for you. Just remember to remove the stone before putting them in the blender!

Finally, the recipe…… Avocado Chocolate Pudding. Enjoy! Mwah!

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Raw Cherry Bakewell Cheesecake

I’ve dubbed this recipe a ‘Cherry Bakewell Cheesecake’ in honour of that most delightful of pastries (Cherry Bakewell Tart), which hails from, yep you’ve guessed it, Bakewell! If you’ve never been, Bakewell is a gorgeous little town ‘up North’ – the North of England that is. It’s very cutesy, adorable, scenic, picturesque, get the picture? Put it this way, picture postcard. Got it? Good.

Growing up I was never a huge fan of pastries, all except for the Cherry Bakewell. It was those almonds that did it for me and probably prepared me for my later love of frangipane and marzipan and anything remotely almondy – Amaretto anyone? A side note: did you know that some Amaretto (specifically Disaronno) does not actually contain any almonds? I know! I digress.

We’ve established I like almonds and have a penchant for Cherry Bakewells but what with my veganism and everything I can no longer indulge in authentic Bakewell tarts and therefore have had to get a little bit creative. I thought while I was getting all creative I might as well go the whole hog, so to speak, and make it a raw affair.

I’ve become increasingly fascinated with raw cuisine and in particular, raw desserts. If you have yet to try any raw desserts I urge you. This is me urging you. You don’t have to be vegan or raw to enjoy these treats. It’s true. I often get comments and messages from people telling me how much they like my recipes but don’t make them ‘because they’re not vegan’. This always baffles me.  It feels the same as if someone said they love Italian food but won’t cook it because ‘they’re not Italian’! Please, believe me when I tell you, you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy vegan food and you certainly don’t have to take on raw foodist status to indulge in some decadently moreish raw cheesecake.

You may or may not be surprised to discover this ‘cheesecake’ contains absolutely no cheese. None whatsoever. It is made solely from……wait for it…….cashews! Can you believe it? Some of you might be dubious, cautious or even perturbed to learn that cashews make the creamiest, smoothest, luscious(est?) cheesecake that is sure to rival the real thing. Honest. I don’t kid when around when it comes to dessert and once you’ve tasted this cheesecake you’ll know I speak the truth.

raw cherry bakewell cheesecake

crust

½ cup hazelnuts

½ cup ground almonds

½ cup soaked dates chopped

1 tsp almond extract

Cherry Cheesecake Layer

1 ½ cup pitted fresh cherries

½ cup soaked cashews

¼  cup agave nectar

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

Vanilla Cheesecake Layer

1 ½ cups soaked cashews

½ cup agave nectar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Juice ½ lemon

¼ cup filtered water

Topping

½ cup flaked almonds

Place the cashews in a large bowl and cover with filtered water. Allow to stand for 4-6hrs. Soak the dates in a smaller bowl for about an hour or until they are reasonably soft. Otherwise you could just use medjool dates, which are already very soft.

Place all the crust ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until crumbly. Line a cake tin with baking parchment and turn the crust mixture into it. Press firmly to the edges using the back of your fingers. Place in freezer for 30 mins.

Rinse out the blender and add the cherries, agave and lemon juice. Blitz until completely smooth, it should be liquid like. Next add the cashews and coconut oil and blitz until completely smooth and creamy. It should be quite thick. Taste for sweetness, if you prefer it sweeter then add a little more agave.

Take the crust out of the freezer and carefully pour in the cherry cheesecake mixture, scraping down the sides with a spatula (waste not, want not!). Smooth with a spatula until it is completely even and return to freezer for an hour.

Meanwhile, rinse out the blender again and add all the ingredients for the vanilla layer. Blitz until completely smooth. This layer will be less thick and almost more like a cashew cream. When the cherry layer has set carefully pour over the vanilla mixture. Smooth with a spatula, sprinkle over the flaked almonds and place in the freezer for several hours.

When it has set, transfer to the fridge for 30mins before trying to remove it from the tin.

 


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Spiced Coconut Lentil Soup

This isn’t one of those quick soups you throw together in a matter of minutes. On top of the prep work it requires forty minutes simmering on the stove to achieve the perfect consistency. That forty minutes can feel like a lifetime when you’ve just had a hardcore yoga session and need food. Pronto. You might have to fill the gap with some cucumber crudites and hummus but the wait will be worth it. Would I lie? Not about food, that’s for sure!

Yeah, yeah, I love soup, I think we’ve established that so I’ll tell you about something else I love – coconut milk. What’s not to love is what I say and yet I know some have an aversion to anything coconutty, which baffles me but also makes me kinda sad. A life without coconut is pretty bleak if you ask me.

Coconuts and Avocados. Two of natures greatest gifts. Who on earth cares about cream, butter and cheese when you have these luscious foods at your disposal.

Technically a fruit, the coconut has become a major feature in my diet and my cooking. I’m a total coconut oil convert, use desiccated coconut in a wide variety of desserts and breakfasts and coconut milk is now a steadfast staple in my kitchen. I’ve replaced soy milk for coconut milk – not the canned coconut milk I hasten to add, the pourable kind.

To clarify, there are two kinds of coconut milk on the market; one is used mainly for cooking (that’s the canned stuff) and the other is for drinking or pouring into tea, coffee or onto cereal. My preferred brand is Kara coconut milk and it is widely available and very reasonably priced. That’s my sales pitch. Onto the cooking variety.

Canned coconut milk is exceptionally creamy, which makes it ideal for making ice-creams, yoghurt, whipped cream and also lends a richness to any dish in which it is used. In my eyes coconut milk can do no wrong. It’s the food that keeps on giving and I’m happy to take, take, take.

The coconut flavour in this soup is not in any way overpowering and I would suggest that even if you’re not a coconut fan you may still like it. Although ‘spiced’ this dish is not particularly spicy – even with the added chilli and paprika. The spice is very mild and subtle but absolutely essential in aiding the soup to be bursting with the incredible flavour it possesses. Personally, I think it would make for an excellent starter to a dinner party meal – a small bowlful should be enough to wet the appetite without over facing people with a gargantuan appetizer before the main. This is how I like to do things anyway.

I first discovered this recipe in a ‘Vegan’ recipe book (it’s literally called ‘Vegan’) and, of course, I’ve tweaked it to my own tastes but then again I do that with pretty much every recipe I’ve ever followed (‘followed’ in the loosest sense of the word).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make myself a very special raw cheesecake. All will be revealed tomorrow – or the day after, depends how I’m feeling.

Ciao, ciao.

ingredients

1/2 large red onion (I used a quarter of a colossal one)

1/2 red chilli

thumbsize piece of peeled ginger

1 clove garlic

1 cup red lentils

1 400g can coconut milk

3 cups filtered water

1 scant tsp vegan vegetable bouillion

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

pink Himalayan salt

black pepper

juice of 1 lime

1 heaped tsp coconut oil

Finely chop the red onion – I actually like to mince mine with a knife.

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan. Add the onion, season, cover and allow to soften for several minutes.

Meanwhile, mince the chilli, garlic and ginger together. Add to pan, cover and cook for a few more minutes until the flavours begin to infuse – your kitchen should be full of wonderful aromas by now.

Rinse and sort the red lentils and add to pan along with the ground coriander, paprika and cumin. Mix thoroughly and then pour in the coconut milk and water. Sprinkle in the vegetable bouillion and lightly season with some pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cover, bring to the boil and then lower to a gentle simmer for forty minutes, ensuring to stir frequently.

Juice the lime and set aside.

When the lentils have softened and almost disintegrated to form a thick, creamy soup, take off the heat, pour in the lime juice, taste for seasoning and serve with a few fresh coriander leaves for garnish.

10 comments so far. Want to leave yours ?

Mediterranean Baked Tofu and Crazy Sexy Quinoa Salad

Keeping with the theme of evening meals and my regular eats, I thought I’d do a quick post about last nights dinner. I love nothing better than to come up with my own recipes but sometimes I do enjoy following someone else’s, either from a blog or from a cookbook.

I’m currently enthralled by everything Kris Carr has to say and I just love the Crazy Sexy Diet book she wrote, which is not only inspiring and informative but has a small but superb selection of recipes at the back. Most of the recipes are the brainchild of awesome raw chef Chad Sarno and if you know anything about raw food you’ll know that means they’re rockin’.

I had the privilege to take a raw cookery class at Saf in Shoreditch with David Bailey who was instructed by Chad himself. It was a wonderful day full of outrageous food, interesting conversation and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my 30th birthday.

This recipe isn’tentirely raw although there are many raw elements. I teamed it with some baked tofu because it’s a wee bit healthier cooked this way and lately I’ve been frying most of my tofu so I wanted to shake things up a bit. I was so in love with this marinade and I know I’ll be making it again – the red onion almost caramelized and goes beautifully soft whilst the tofu soaks up the marinade in the oven and becomes wonderfully infused with the flavours. Truly, it was lip smackingly good and in my opinion a dish to convert all those tofu haters out there.

I never quite got the whole tofu hating thing myself. I mean, it’s fantastically versatile – you can have it baked, fried, deep fried, crumbled, cold, hot etc etc. It holds flavour much better than chicken and its texture is as varied as any ingredient I know. There isn’t just one type of tofu, there are lots and they are used in different ways for different purposes. For example, if I were to make a ‘cheesecake’ I’d go down the silken tofu route but if I want to fry it, I’d buy firm, rinse it, press it to ensure it’s not retaining excess water, coat it in flour or polenta, season and fry. For an extra crispy exterior, chewier interior; freeze it, thaw it, toss it in flour and et voila, crispy beancurd on yo plate!

f.y.i. If you’re ever in Porthleven, hit up the Moonflower for some seriously awesome deep fried sweet and sour bean curd.

It may be a lost cause me trying to get some peeps to like tofu but you can’t say I don’t try.

If the baked tofu wasn’t brilliant enough, I went and made the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad from that book I keep banging on about (just buy it already!)…. that’s right, say it with me now, ‘The Crazy Sexy Diet’. Doesn’t that title just make you smile and feel all liberated and stuff? It does to me anyway. Books like these have helped me regain a connection with my body – what goes in it and what I get out of it. Make sense? No, I’m not perfect, I have lumps and bumps like most gals and my rear end has been my nemesis for most of my life. It doesn’t help when you have to be measured more frequently than most (cons of the job) only for people to be amazed how anyone can have a 26″ waist and a 41″ hip width. Thankfully since going vegan I’ve whittled that down to 37″ but I’ve come to terms with my shape and the fact I will always be pear shaped – bottom heavy, boohoo, watcha gonna do.

Not that weightloss or hip measurements were in any way a factor in me going vegan. It was all about the health, baby! Best. Decision. I. Ever. Made. Okay, maybe marrying my Hubbie was the best decision I ever made but it’s up there. Speaking of Hubbie, yesterday he went and surprised me with the most awesome gift – an acme made bowling bag camera case, eek!! I’ve been wanting one of these ever since I first spied them in the local camera shop. It’s just too cute for it’s own good and it’s RED! Me loves red looooong time.

Oh yes, the quinoa salad. Lush. I changed a few things. I usually do. The essence of the recipe remains intact.

Another thing (yes, majorly rambling today – apologies), I’ve re-discovered this incredible blog. When I said rediscovered it’s because I chanced upon it a while back and foolishly didn’t put it on my blog roll and subsequently forgot about it – there are so many great blogs out there I lose track. I’m so glad I found this one again though because there is masses of pregnancy information on there, as well as recipes, fashion and photos of very cute vegan babies:) This lady also recently wrote a comprehensive vegan pregnancy guide– so buying this! Don’t  panic (Mother, I know you’re reading!), I am not pregnant but I want to be up to date and 100% informed when the time eventually comes – which is a while off yet, so STOP PANICKING MOTHER!

If it’s not obvious I’ll point out how inspired I’m feeling right now. All these amazing people get me super excited and less depressed about the state of the planet, our collective health and all the horrible, nasty happenings in the world (too many to even list and plus I don’t want to bring the mood down). It’s exhilarating. With pioneering people like these there is hope. It’s not a lost cause and we might just have a chance of saving ourselves from well, um, ourselves. What I’m trying to say is, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Now go take a walk, smell a flower and when you get back, treat yourself to a dish of love (any vegan recipe on my blog should fit the bill). You deserve it. Be the difference. Namaste.

mediterranean baked tofu (original recipe here)

1 280g block of firm tofu/bean curd

1/2 red onion

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

1 tbsp malt syrup or agave nectar

2 tbsp finely chopped dill

sea salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 degrees fahrenheit.

Drain, rinse and press the tofu. Slice into four rectangular sized pieces and place in a baking dish.

Finely slice the red onion. Put all the marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix. Add the red onion and thoroughly coat.

Pour the marinade over the tofu ensuring it is completely covered. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until dry and the onions are completely soft and caramelizing.

crazy sexy quinoa salad

1 cup quinoa

2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp capers

zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1 lemon

1 or 2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/3 large cucumber

1 celery stick

3 tbsp chopped dill

sea salt and pepper

Cover the 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water. Clamp a lid on, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until all the water has absorbed – about 10mins. Take off the heat and leave to cool with the lid on. This salad will be warm.

Peel, halve and deseed the cucumber. Quarter each piece and cut into small pieces. Wash and peel the celery and cut into very small pieces.

Roughly mince the capers. Crush the garlic using a garlic press (I normally prefer to mince by hand using a knife but the press is better in this instance).

Zest and juice the lemon. Finely chop the dill.

Heat a skillet/frying pan and lightly toast the pine nuts – a few minutes, give them a frequent shake and keep an eye on them. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Transfer the quinoa into a large bowl. Toss all the ingredients together including the olive oil and seasoning (a good grinding of salt and pepper). Taste, season further is necessary and serve warm alongside the tofu and some broccoli.

I had loads leftover so I ate a huge bowl for my lunch along with some avocado toast – hell yeah!

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Chickpea and Aubergine Stew

This is the kind of food I eat a lot. This is everyday food, y’see. PeaSoupEats food.

Simple, quick ‘n tasty is the name of the game and that game is played pretty much everyday, three times a day.

I desperately wanted to get back to my everyday eats because that’s exactly how and why this blog started – a catalogue of my daily food. Somewhere along the line though I got carried away with gluten free cupcakes and interrupted by ideas for the online magazine I contribute to and I forgot about what PeaSoup actually eats.

I mean, of course, I didn’t forget what I ate because that would make me mental but rather I forgot to blog about it. Get me?

I eat this. Or at least dishes similar to this because it would get pretty dang boring if I had this every night. I’m babbling. I’ll stop.

This. Wholesome, effortless, warming stews (it may be Spring but the weather here begs to differ!) that fill yer boots and your belly (I think I got confused there…) and best of all doesn’t even really require a recipe. Well, it requires a template of sorts but you know what I mean.

I could make this dish blindfolded – a bit of this, a bit o’ that, wham, bam, forty minutes and you’re sitting down to dinner, preferably without the blindfold (that hand to mouth co-ordination is tricky sans sight).

I feel like I’m coming across very politically incorrect today totally without intent. To clarify. Nought wrong with being mental or blind. Okay? Okay.

You can tell from the focus in the photos  I was putting little to no effort into the photographing of this dish – quite literally I was in autofocus mode. Because this is real life. I actually ate this food. Sometimes that means make it, serve it (squeeze in a few pics along the way) and eat it. It’s also been a while since I’ve blogged about my evening meal so I was a wee bit out of practice and it transpires my patience has been lost somewhere along the way. As soon as that stew was served I was in no mood for arranging a beautifully styled shot. I was hungry. It happens.

Being a blogger has its pros and cons. One of the cons is that you can never make a meal without thinking ‘I should probably take a few photos of this’. It can be a lot less contrived than that. Sometimes I just find myself getting snap happy without even realising and before you know it I’ve filled my memory card with mostly sub par photos – but hey, it was fun and surely that’s the point, right? If blogging becomes an effort or tiresome maybe it’s time to find a different outlet for your creativity. Thankfully for me that is a long way off – I’m still having way too much fun.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t or shouldn’t up your game or push yourself to do better. I’m constantly comparing myself to other bloggers and sometimes looking on Tastespotting or Foodgawker can mean the death of my creativity for the day or at other times can inspire and challenge me to get in that kitchen and cook my little heart out. Like everything, it’s all dependent on your attitude and I’m not afraid to admit I occasionally possess a sucky attitude – that sulky teenager lives on!

At the moment what I’d most like to do is a neat little collaboration with someone. When JoytheBaker announced her new project not only was I super impressed and excited but I was also insanely jealous. I’m a big girl, I can admit these things. Oh, how I would love some foodie friends (vegan or non) that live near to me, want to eat food, talk about food and maybe do a joint foodie thingy – podcast, video blog, something silly, I don’t care but just somethin’. I want to share my foodie love with somebody, several people, anybody. Any takers?

Hmmph. I guess living in the depths of Cornwall doesn’t help but I’m ever optimistic and I can’t say I don’t have my heart set on living somewhere like San Francisco. I bet I’d find loads of foodie friends there. One day perhaps…..

At least I still have my virtual cyber friends – (waving madly) hello virtual cyber friends! See, it’s all good really. Food, blog, photos, virtual cyber friends. Life’s not so bad after all and maybe, just maybe, when I read this back it won’t sound as sad it does whilst I’m writing it. Then again, pigs may just fly.

Ciao ciao:)

chickpea and aubergine stew 

(3-4 portions)

1 onion

2 aubergines (eggplant)

2 courgettes (zucchini)

1 400g can (or cup and a half) chopped tomatoes

1 heaped tsp tomato puree

1 400g can chickpeas

2 large garlic cloves

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp chilli powder

generous shake of dried chilli flakes

olive oil

1 tsp sugar

pink Himalayan salt and ground black pepper

1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander

to serve

1 cup bulgar wheat

2 tbsp freshly chopped flat leaf parsley

zest of half a lemon

2 tbsp lemon juice

Heat a little oil in a heavy based saucepan. Finely chop the onion, add to pan, season with salt and pepper and cover. Leave to sweat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mince the garlic and add to pan. Allow to cook for several minutes.

Wash and cut the aubergine into small pieces. Add to pan and stir to incorporate the onion and garlic. Season and cover.

Wash and slice the courgette. Add to pan, mix thoroughly, cover and leave to soften gently for a few minutes.

Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, chilli powder and chilli flakes. Give a thorough stir and clamp on lid for a minute or two before adding the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes. Stir. Sprinkle in the sugar, season and leave to simmer for twenty minutes until everything is soft but not mushy.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add to the pot for a final ten minutes.

Whilst the stew is simmering, boil a kettle, place the bulgar wheat in a large bowl. Add one cup of freshly boiled water to the one cup of bulgar, stir and cover with a plate or clingfilm. When the water has been completely absorbed (about 10mins), fluff with a fork and stir in the chopped parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Finally, check the stew for seasoning and serve.

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