Meals made in haste are often the most delicious. Take these ‘fridge-raid’ summer rolls for instance. I was looking to use up all the odds and ends in my fridge before I headed over to Ireland and rice paper rolls seemed like the perfect vehicle in which to do so. Even if you have zero knife skills and simply wish to grate everything, these really are one of the simplest go-to meals – and they taste flipping amazing … even if we did have a laugh as to what the wraps themselves reminded us of. Erm, less said on that the better. This is a food blog after all.
Not really a recipe (seeing as you can use just about anything you have to hand) but I did like the coleslaw-like combo esp. when pared with the avocado and/or cucumber … a nice balance of crunch and creaminess with a fresh mix of flavours to boot. I threw in some chilli flakes and sesame seeds for added oomph but they’re pretty much optional (particularly if you’re a heat-phobe) – although they do make the rolls look rather pretty in my opinion. I’m not the greatest at rolling these suckers I must admit and by gosh are they fiddly so I wouldn’t worry if they are less than picture perfect – once they’re in your gob it won’t matter. Just be sure not to overfill to avoid the rice paper tearing. For the same reason, you won’t want to roll them too tightly either – err on the side of caution until you’ve perfected your skills a bit.
Even though I didn’t include it in these photos (I’ll explain) I actually made a seriously yummy dipping sauce by whisking together sweet chilli sauce, coconut cream and lime. It was heavenly. And to top it off I poured myself a chilled glass of pinot to cheers my last night in Cornwall for a couple of weeks. I know, ridiculously over the top but leaving Cornwall has that effect on me. Oh yes! Dipping sauce. So, I desperately wanted to blog but was limited on time and resources, which is how these super easy morsels came about. I rustled them up in minutes and quickly took some photos before my Husband came home, so didn’t fuss over them too much – and failed to include the dipping sauce, which I actually made much later when we had them with our wine. I’m not sure if this how blogging is done these days … a lot of it seems overly contrived and bears very little resemblance to the food blogging world I so fondly remember. Y’know, where people talked at length about themselves, their lives and blogged about things they actually ate? Ah, I’ve gone all misty eyed. Anyway.
Okay, so things have evolved (or devolved – I can’t figure out which) over the six or so years I’ve been blogging and still I gravitate towards blogs that have an air of authenticity about them. Same goes for my YouTube viewing. Sure, I occasionally get suckered in by a click-bait title or image but generally speaking I try to avoid anything with the word ‘haul’ in the title and I pretty much loathe those ‘response’ videos that are all the rage. I basically don’t get it – but then again, I’m probably not their target audience. I much prefer people that aren’t in it solely for the views and are simply making quality content without any ‘in your face’ agenda. Of course, I love anything food related so recipe or ‘what I eat in day’ vids will always warrant a watch … specifically, I’m currently loving Lauren Toyota and her food channel ‘Hot For Food’ and am still obsessed with Mango Island Mamma who doesn’t post particularly regularly but it’s always worth the wait. I’ve also got a soft spot for Angie and Ryan over at Happy Healthy Vegan and I think at this stage I can officially claim my ‘Tang Gang’ title given the fact my guilty pleasure is indulging in silly amounts of ‘Mommy Tang’. I didn’t realise watching someone eat for an hour could be quite so riveting.
To try and keep some equilibrium in my life, however, I’ve actually been limiting my screen time in general … that includes all phone activity – so social media is being rationed. I’ve also put a phone-ban in place 20mins prior to bedtime (this excludes ‘guided meditation’ on YouTube) and now sleep with it on airplane mode – my Husband’s suggestion and I can tell you it works a treat. Not only that but I now make sure it’s not the first thing I look at in the morning – other than to turn off my alarm, of course. This way, I allow my head-space to be filled with other things rather than cramming in more useless information via twitter. I take time to savour all those little morning tasks and try not to be in too much of a rush to join the ‘real world’ … which can be difficult for my restless hands and mind. To that end, I have finally jumped aboard the ‘colouring book’ bandwagon and a week in I can safely say I wish I’d done it sooner. It was my salvation when travelling back to Ireland and it also means I’m not glued to my phone when I’m here either. In fact, my last two mornings have involved smoothies, porridge – and a bit of calm and collected colouring. Bliss.
I feel like I’ve really broken through a bit of a mental barrier of late and I’ll share more over the next few weeks. I’ve been prioritizing nightly walks and trying to integrate guided meditation into my life, which I know sounds like total new-age hippy nonsense but it’s actually helping me on so many levels – especially prior to bedtime. If, like me, you thought you just aren’t suited to this whole meditation melarkey I urge you to give it a go anyway – you might surprise yourself. And even if it does nothing for you, at least you can soothe your sorrows with a little summer roll. Both are equally effective.
what you’ll need
6 vietnamese rice wrappers
1 small carrot
1/2 red pepper
handful finely sliced red cabbage
1 spring onion
1/2 large avocado
handful of rocket
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
1 heaped chilli flakes
1 tsesame seeds
3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp coconut cream
juice 1/2 lime
what you’ll do
finely slice or grate the carrot, red cabbage, red pepper and spring onion. slice the avocado and cucumber lengthways.
soak the vietnamese rice wrappers one at a time in a large bowl of cold water for about 30secs and then transfer to a clean chopping board. you can dab it dry with a clean tea towel but quite honestly, I just fill and roll.
sprinkle over the chilli flakes and sesame seeds before laying on the avocado or cucumber slice followed by the rocket, sliced veg and coriander – ensuring there is a little room at the bottom and either side.
to roll, fold the two sides in first and then fold over the bottom part of the wrapper. continue rolling until the roll is completely secure. repeat process until all the ingredients are used and refrigerate until needed.
for the dipping sauce, simply whisk the sweet chilli, coconut cream and lime juice together until combined. serve alongside the rolls.
Good morning from Cornwall! I’m up bright and breezy (ok, not that breezy), and ready to get this day underway. Like most people, when it gets to this stage in the week I’m wanting quick and easy options for lunch and dinner … yes, I love cooking but that doesn’t mean I don’t love a good shortcut too! *Merchant Gourmet have long since been a brand I love so I was pretty thrilled when they asked me to come up with a few ideas using their handy pouches – mainly because I’m obsessed with them already, ha! Having things like ready-made qrains and lentils in your store cupboard is invaluable, in my opinion – especially if you’re trying to undertake a new vegan lifestyle and need ‘almost instant’ meals that pack a nutritional punch. I tried to cover all bases when it came to the recipes I created, which means there’s something for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a little sweet offering for afters … I really think you’ll love my Creamed Quinoa Pud with an Easy Blackberry Compote – not least because it take 10mins to rustle up. Now that’s what I call fast food.
Another favourite is my Mixed Grain Salad with Roasted Cauliflower & Grapes. And yes, I know ‘roasted grapes’ sounds, well, weird but something glorious happens those little fruits when you pop ’em in the oven – it’s now my favourite way to serve/eat them. The mixed grains are so nutty and satisfying too, this is a lunch that will really power you through to dinner. For the breakfast fiends amongst you I’ve hit a home-run (even if I do say so myself) in the form of my Choco Chai Quinoa Bowl – no word of a lie, this dish is beyond delicious and has quickly become my go-to quinoa porridge recipe. If you’re sick of oats and want to keep things interesting in the morning, this is definitely the recipe for you.
In keeping with the ‘handy vibe’ I tried to keep the prep time to an absolute minimum, which means they all can be made in 30mins or under … my kinda cooking! Other than soaking the cashews overnight (and quite honestly, what vegan doesn’t have some soaked cashews on the go?) the Beluga Lentil Dip can be made in seconds – literally. Whether you have a high speed blender or regular food processor , this little beauty is your pre-dinner party ‘drinks ‘n’ nibbles’ saviour . Simply chop up some crudites and leave your guests to munch whilst you finish up the main – and if you’re lucky enough to have any leftovers then why not spread it on some toast for a super tasty snack.
Speaking of mains though, spelt is a brilliant alternative to rice when it comes to making risotto (a personal comfort food fav) because it’s super robust and really absorbs all the flavours in the pan – my advice is to go large on the garlic front and don’t even think about omitting that coconut cream! I also added a little vegan parmesan because I am obsessed with the stuff and it goes so ridiculously well with the aforementioned Creamy Spelt & Mushroom Risotto … otherwise a dusting of nooch (nutritional yeast) will do an equally good job of finishing off the dish.
Have I forgotten anything?! Oh yes. Poached peppers. Sounds odd but is actually a terrific little cooking hack that’ll save you about 45 minutes in the kitchen … aha, now you’re listening! Instead of stuffing and roasting those suckers, I halved and poached them in a large pot of boiling water before stuffing them with Merchant Gourmet’s epic Indian Flavoured Grains. Et voila … Stuffed Poached Peppers a go-go. In all honesty, these grains don’t really need any additional tarting up, however, I did pan fry them with some spring onion and stirred through a handful of raisins because, you know, texture. The ‘coconut & mint’ dressing is actually what brings the whole harmonious dish together though … and all of that in under 15 minutes. I’ll take those high fives now please.
*This is a sponsored post but all views and opinions are my own
Let’s talk about ethical fashion. We could start where people typically predict your interest in fashion and style usually ends … upon entering the ‘tunnel of doom’ otherwise known as veganism. We could chat a bit about how a lifelong love affair with clothes, design, fabric and just about everything else needn’t cease to exist the minute you embrace a vegan lifestyle – trust me, it is entirely possible to love the planet and its inhabitants, and also obsessively covet that perfectly weathered chambray shirt you’ve had your eye on for age. It doesn’t have to be one or the other – you just have to be a bit more savvy about what you buy and adjust your spending/retail habits to suit. Being vegan does not mean subjecting yourself to a lifetime of unflattering harem trousers and tie-dye tees … and I ain’t even talking about those ironic 90s homages currently available in New Look neither. Ya get me?
There are so many ways around this fast fashion problem though, I almost don’t know where to begin but I guess this ‘Braintree Breton’, as I’ve henceforth dubbed it, is a pretty good place to start. You could say it falls under the category of ‘ethical fashion’ given it’s organic cotton credentials (always a winner in my book), which is all well and good but as Stella McCartney once said (and I paraphrase here, ahem) ‘the designs have to speak for themselves’ – in a nutshell, it can tick all the boxes when it comes to sustainable fashion but if it looks pants, what’s the point? At least, I think that’s what she meant. Thankfully this tee ticks all said boxes and still manages to look chic – quick side note: size- wise it’s quite roomy so in my opinion you should opt for the next size down if poss.
In actual fact it has become something of a staple in my wardrobe since it arrived on my doorstep six weeks ago (I like to properly road-test these things) and my obsession shows no signs of waning just yet. Having paired it with dungarees, skinny jeans and even midi-skirts, I can safely say it’s a versatile little sucker (then again, I’ve never met a stripy top that wasn’t) although my current favourite combo has got to involve these new ‘Happy Birthday to Me’ Monki jeans (balloon legs are where it’s at yo!) and of course, this jaunty cap I bought whilst on holiday in Brittany. Yep, that’s correct, I shamelessly donned a Breton and lorded around the Brittany region like the Sailor Gal I am – or not, as the case may be, seeing I epically-failed to get my ‘sea legs’ whilst on board the ferry and spent the entire journey there and back lying horizontal in my cabin. Pass the sick bag please.
Ferry failures aside I had a pretty relaxing trip visiting my Husband’s folks and even though they were totally bemused as to why I was posing outside their kitchen window pretending to drink a cup of lukewarm tea, they also gave ‘The Breton’ two thumbs up. What more can I say? This one’s definitely a keeper.