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GIVEAWAY – Vegfest UK Brighton tickets

18 Jan

VegfestBrighton

Update: this giveaway has now ended, and the lucky winner is Nic F – congratulations! – 22nd February 2015

Anyone who read my post from September 2014 about Vegfest UK London will know how much I love their events, so I’m thrilled to announce that I’m giving away two free tickets to Vegfest UK Brighton, on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th March 2015. I’ll be going myself of course, and I’m particularly looking forward trying and buying new vegan products and watching some stand up comedy. Do you want to watch a cookery demonstration and eat some delicious vegan food? Would you like to learn more about nutrition, politics, or how to support wildlife and the environment? Maybe you’re interested in meeting other like-minded people. Whether you’re just thinking about making the transition to vegetarianism, or a long-term vegan, this is the event for you!

I have two weekend tickets for Vegfest Brighton UK to give away to one lucky winner. The festival is on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th March 2015, at the Brighton Centre, BN1 2GR, UK. Travel and accommodation are not included. Entries close on Sunday 22nd February 2015 at 12am. Please do not enter this giveaway if you’re one of my family, friends, or colleagues – sorry! For more information on Vegfest UK Brighton please see brighton.vegfest.co.uk.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS OF HOW TO ENTER
(it takes less than a minute to enter; external site, powered by Rafflecopter)

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Doners, quiche, VegFest, focaccia – a 2014 review

1 Jan

Most-read post – By quite a long way, it was the seitain doner kebab meat that I wrote back in May. I’m a tiny bit embarrassed that my most popular recipe is also one of the unhealthiest, but I’m also so proud that something we put so much thought in to came out exactly how we wanted. I hope that people who search for vegan junk food recipes find what they’re looking for on my site, but are inspired by the healthier articles.

My favourite recipe – The recipe I posted on my one-year bloggiversary in April, it’s vegan quiche with spinach, leeks, and pine nuts. Quiche was a bit of an obsession of mine in my pre-vegan days, so I was really pleased to come up with a recipe that was both delicious and satisfying, without an animal product in sight.

My favourite non-foodie article – It’s a difficult choice, but I’d have to go with the post about VegFest London from September, simply because I had so much fun “researching” it. I wrote the post as soon as I got home from VegFest. I didn’t over-think what I was going to say, so I my enthusiasm and excitement about the event are genuine.

My top foodie discovery of 2014 – the stuffed focaccia we ate on holiday in Italy, which had roasted courgettes, aubergines, and peppers baked right into it. Just a few weeks later I went on a bread-making course and learned how to make focaccia, and I’m now getting the hang of doing it at home. Watch this space, the recipe may well appear on this blog in the near future.

Still to come in 2015 – an easy, adaptable pesto recipe; vegan parkin; and my adventures with home-made tempeh.

Healing lentil and vegetable soup

30 Oct

At the start of every university term all sorts of bugs and diseases spread round campus. All the students come in from all over the world with their different germs, which they give to each other and the academic staff, who then pass them on to the admin staff. It’s now three weeks in to term and all of the support staff in my department are either just recovering or just coming down with something. In honour of everyone who works in a university, college, or school, and is feeling grotty right now, here is my get-well-soon soup. The lentils will give you enough protein to make all of those extra white blood cells you’ll need to fight the infection, and the vitamins from the veggies will boost your immune system so you can beat anything. It’s simple enough to make when you’re feeling at your absolute worst. On top of that, it’s both warm and comforting AND fresh and zingy all at the same time. I’ve used a mix of lentils for a varied texture, you could use just split peas to make it chunkier or just red lentil to be smoother. Here it is:

Chunky lentil and vegetable soup, the best cold remedy I know #vegan

A post shared by Mrs Veg (@mrs_veg) on

 

Recipe (serves four):

  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped as chunky or as fine as you like
  • 1 stick of celery, also chopped as chunky or as fine as you like
  • 1 tablespoon mixed dried herbs
  • 100g yellow split peas or chana dal
  • 200g split red lentils
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • A handful of chopped parsley
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat. Sweat the onion and celery in the oil, covered, for about 10-15 minutes without colouring.

Add the herbs, split peas, lentils, stock, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil then simmer for 45 minutes, until the split peas are cooked through but still retain a little bit of bite.

Add the parsley and season to taste.

Curl up in your duvet and eat the soup out of the biggest mug you can find. Get well soon!

Chilli con seitan

16 Oct

Awesome tasty chilli with beans and seitan #vegan

A post shared by Mrs Veg (@mrs_veg) on

Chilli was one of the first proper dishes I learned to cook. When I became vegetarian in my early teens I started helping my mum out in the kitchen by making the vegetarian version of whatever she was doing for the rest of the family. Chilli con carne is part of her regular repertoire, and I have particularly fond memories of her giving me a bit of onion, half a tin of beans, half a tin of tomatoes, and letting me be creative with my dinner while we sang along to the radio together and chatted about our day. Over the years I’ve been making it I’ve learned three important things:

  1. While you can knock up a half-decent chilli in 10 minutes or so, if you simmer it for a lot longer the flavours will develop.
  2. Use more herbs and spices than just chilli powder for a greater depth of flavour. I like to use both fresh and dried chilli, together with cumin, oregano, and cocoa powder.
  3. It’s seemingly impossible to take a photo of it that will do it justice.

This is the perfect way to try seitan if you’ve never had it before, for me this shows it at its best. It’s chewy, meaty, satisfying, and stands up well to the complex flavours without either dominating the dish or getting lost in there. It’s a good way to satisfy any meat cravings you have, and it’s crammed full of protein – the seitan and beans alone give you about 30g.

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Recipe (makes two generous portions):

  • 1 tablespoon or more vegetable oil
  • 200g seitan, cut into approx. 1cm cubes
  • 1 large onion, sliced into thin half moons
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin of kidney beans, drained (240g drained weight)

In a large saucepan over a medium-high heat, fry the seitan in the oil until browned on most sides, about five minutes. Transfer the browned seitan to a bowl and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add more oil if needed. Fry the onion for about five minutes, until it is softened and starting to brown round the edges. Add the garlic and fresh chilli and fry for a further 30 seconds or so. Add the cumin and chilli powder and cook for another 30 seconds. Then add the rest of the ingredients including the browned seitan. Simmer over a low heat for 30-40 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve over rice, quinoa, or a baked potato.

 

In my veg box this week – cauliflower, plums

4 Oct

 

It has been a long summer, the warm weather has just about managed to last into October. Autumn is quite late coming this year, but the signs are there. I may not yet be hunkering down in a big jumper eating stew and dumplings, but the evenings are getting darker and summer cropping plants are slowing down. During the transition between the two seasons I don’t know what to expect in my veg box. Will it be the last of the summer beans, aubergines, and tomatoes, or will it be the first of the autumn squash and cabbages? This week I’ll look at one of each.

This week we have:

Plums
Plums last into autumn longer than any other stoned fruit. They ripen more slowly, which means they last a lot longer in the fruit bowl, and don’t do that annoying thing of looking fine one minute then mouldy the next. On top of this, they’re incredibly fragrant, lending themselves well to jams, cakes, and crumble.

Cauliflower
Poor cauliflower. It has such a poor reputation. Of course it does, people have been boiling it to death and smothering it with bland white sauce for years! With a bit more love and affection you can use its natural creaminess to your advantage without killing the flavour or destroying all of the nutrients. Make vegan ricotta by mashing cooked cauliflower with tofu, nooch and salt. Mix roasted cauliflower with pesto pasta to make it creamy without  being heavy or greasy. Or blend roasted cauliflower with stock and herbs to make a luxurious but healthy soup.

Also received this week: potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, kale, leek, corn on the cob, oranges, apples, grapes.

“In my veg box this week…” is not intended as a product review, simply a description of some of the fruit and vegetables that are in season and what I like to do with them. I pay full price for my vegetable box and have no affiliation with the company that delivers them or any of their suppliers.

 

VegfestUK London 2014

28 Sep

I’ve just got back from a brilliant day out at VegfestUK London at Kensington Olympia. According to their website, 10,000 people went through their doors today, to try and buy vegan products, do some clothes shopping, browse books and magazines, eat some amazing food, meet people from conservation organisations and welfare charities, and to watch talks and stand-up comedy. I could have easily spent the whole weekend there, especially because there were so many caterers selling different incredible-looking meals. Here are some of my photos.

My favourite thing about VegfestUK is that it’s a completely vegan festival. It’s kind of tiring going to an event as the vegan in the room, always having to check and ask what I can and can’t eat. It was exciting to be in a place where I’m normal, where everything I could see was edible. Here are some of the thing we bought. I’m particularly excited about the crazy amount of snack bars, my new favourite chocolate from Ombar, and the Round Up wagon wheels (I’ve had them before and they’re incredible). We also bought some Mr Nice Pie pies for tonight’s dinner from (not pictured), which I’m really looking forward to.

Ok, so despite there being so many caterers offering beautiful, colourful, healthy meals, as soon as we heard that Vegusto were selling hot dogs all good intentions went out the window. Here’s one of their delicious frankfurters with fried onions, ketchup and mustard. It was amazing, I regret nothing.

In true Mrs Veg style, as soon as I saw the bar I had to go for a vegan ale. Here’s me sampling a pint of Eco Warrior from an organic brewery called Pitfield’s.

VegfestUK is a brilliant day out for vegans, vegetarians, and the veg-curious. I’m already looking forward to going back next year.

http://london.vegfest.co.uk/ – VegfestUK London.

http://vegfest.co.uk/ – other VegfestUK events around the country.

Product review – Oatly oat drink

13 Aug

Oatly, the Swedish brand of oat milk, has recently rebranded. Their previously bland, generic packaging has been replaced by a quirky design that proudly shows off their ethical standpoint and the health benefits of oats, as well as their reduced environmental impact. The carton explains how they chose to use oats because they’re “tall and strong and full of goodness” to make a drink that is “like milk but made for humans”. Their independent, principled personality really comes across and that’s something to be admired.

But enough of that, what is Oatly actually like? It might sound a little strange but trust me, it’s lovely! It tastes like the milk that’s left in your bowl after eating muesli, it’s not chalky or porridgey at all. It can be used exactly the same as milk from cows. It’s delicious in a glass with some biscuits dunked in it. It’s perfect for cereal, obviously it’s particularly good for muesli or granola, and it’s Mr Veg’s favourite milk for making porridge.

Oatly really comes into its own when used in cooking or baking, working better than any other non-dairy milk I’ve tried. The flavour is mild enough that it doesn’t dominate the dish, you don’t have to worry about your cakes or sauces tasting of oats (unless you want them to of course). What’s more, Oatly is very stable, doesn’t split, and does a really great job of making things thick and creamy – I can only assume that this is something to do with the soluble fibre content.

As well as regular and organic Oatly, you can also buy chocolate Oatly, which is absolutely divine! As with plain Oatly, you can drink it straight or use it for cereal, porridge, or baking. You can also use it to make a luxurious thick milkshake by blending it with a frozen banana or, if you’re feeling less virtuous, a big scoop of dairy-free ice cream. Delish!

All non-dairy milks have their pluses and minuses, some work much better than others depending on what you’re using it for. The only disadvantage I’ve discovered about Oatly is that it doesn’t work as well in tea and coffee as some other plant milks. The taste is fine, but it separates slightly and tends to leave a strange residue in the bottom of the cup. Still, I think its many advantages outweigh this, and I would definitely recommend you give it a try.

What better way to demonstrate Oatly in cooking than to make some basic white sauce. It tastes the same as the real thing, and is just as thick and creamy, but without having to get any cows involved. My favourite use for white sauce is a good old-fashioned lasagne. The recipe I’ve given here is basic because I wanted to showcase the white sauce, but you could tuck extra veggies between the layers, or jazz up the red sauce with chillies or sun-dried tomatoes or whatever you fancy. I don’t particularly like vegan cheese so I topped mine with breadcrumbs instead, but you could use vegan cheese or ground cashews if you prefer.

Recipe – classic vegan lasagne (serves 2)

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 200g vegan mince
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 20g non-dairy margarine
  • 20g plain flour
  • 300ml Oatly
  • 4-6 sheets egg-free lasagne
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the red sauce, fry the onion in the oil over a medium heat until translucent and starting to colour, about 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute or so without colouring. Add the mince, tomatoes, tomato puree, and oregano, then leave to simmer while you make the white sauce.

For the white sauce, melt the margarine in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add the flour and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add the Oatly very slowly, stirring all the time until you have a smooth sauce. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes until it’s nice and thick.

Season both sauces to your liking and remove from the heat.

Now to the fun part – building the lasagne. Spread one third of the red sauce over the bottom of your lasagne dish (you might notice in the photo that I use a loaf tin – it’s the perfect size and shape), cover with a layer of lasagne sheets, then spread one third of the white sauce over the top of that. Repeat two more times until you have used everything, ending in a layer of white sauce. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and more dried herbs over the top.

Bake in the oven at 200°C for 30-40 minutes, until light brown on top. Leave to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving – it will be easier to dish up whole slices that way. Serve with plenty of garlic bread.

Disclaimer: I have been asked to write this post by Oatly but as with all of the posts on my blog all opinions are my own. For more information on Oatly please see their website: http://www.oatly.com/.

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