Tag Archives: bacon

Veganizing a Mrs Veg classic – breakfast muffins

6 Apr

One of the most popular posts on my blog to date is the veggie bacon and egg muffins from August 2013. It does bother me a little that on a mostly healthy, mostly plant-powered blog, the thing I’m most recognised for is neither of those things. The vegan version is still junk food, still delicious, but just a little healthier. Here’s how I veganized it:

  • The English muffin can obviously stay, just check the ingredients as some contain milk.
  • You can get vegan cheese singles, but I’d much rather use a lovely thick layer of guacamole. Vegan cheese just sounds wrong, I can’t bring myself to try it. The healthy fat from the avocado satisfies my cheese craving, but unlike vegan cheese you can actually see what it’s made out of when you look at it.
  • The fried egg is replaced by fried or grilled tofu. On this occasion I used Cauldron smoked tofu, but plain tofu marinated overnight would work just as well.
  • A rasher or two of veggie bacon. In the original I think I used Quorn Bacon Style Rashers, which contain egg. I’ve now switched to Cheatin’ Rashers, which don’t. Tempeh bacon would also be an excellent choice.

The next stage is to make it classier, but that’s a post for another day.

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A very veggie Christmas

21 Dec

“So, what do you eat for Christmas dinner?”

It’s the one question all meat-eaters want to ask vegetarians and vegans at this time of year. It’s no surprise they’re curious, food seems like one of the most important aspects of Christmas, and for many people the idea of Christmas day without a massive dead bird in the oven seems a bit weird. To answer their question, and to make a few suggestions, here are a few things I’ve had for my veggie Christmases over the years.

Nothing

I don’t mean nothing at all. What I mean is nothing extra. Pile your plate high with roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts, stuffing balls, Yorkshire puddings, and drown the whole lot in some lovely vegetarian gravy. I’ve read comments from other vegetarians complaining about being forgotten at Christmas meals and being given a plate of side dishes, but when the side dishes make the meal you don’t really need anything else!

Nut roast

The mainstay of the office Christmas lunch has a terrible reputation, but when it’s done right it’s a fab choice. It’s tasty, satisfying and super healthy, and it’s brilliant for leftovers. Don’t go for a dull, brown packet-mix. Instead, scour the internet for a festive recipe that has things you like in it. To name just a few:

Pie

I’m the only vegetarian in my immediate family, so when I spend Christmas day with them I tend to make my own meat alternative, usually a pie of some sort. Making something different for just one person does sound kind of lonely, but I see it as a real treat, a chance to have whatever I want. Unfortunately I am a creature of habit and tend to always want the same thing – a brie and mushroom parcel. I’ve recently cut out dairy completely, so next time I’m with my parents for Christmas I’ll probably make a mushroom and something else parcel (pine nuts would be lovely). As a rough guide, 100g of puff pastry to 100g of filling makes a generous pie or pasty for one person.

Speaking of mushrooms, one of the nicest meals I ever had was a beautiful mushroom strudel. It was probably nothing more than wild mushrooms cooked with garlic, wrapped in filo pastry, but despite its simplicity it was so special.

Fake meat

I don’t eat an awful lot of fake meat. It’s high in protein but nutritionally it doesn’t have a lot else going for it. I prefer whole foods. However, it is a fun option if you fancy a nostalgic treat, and you can use it to make a very traditional-looking Christmas dinner. A fake meat extravaganza is the usual choice for Christmas dinner in the Veg household, where the vegetarians (me, Mr Veg and his little bro) outnumber the one meat eater (my mother-in-law, AKA Southern Mum). There are several brands of vegetarian chicken-style roasts now, we normally have a couple of these so there will be plenty of leftovers.

I love making veggie pigs in blankets to go with it. Just brush some vegetarian bacon slices with a little oil, and wrap around your favourite vegetarian sausages, hold together with cocktail sticks and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

A slightly unusual alternative to this that I’ve tried very recently is a shiitake and leek stuffed seitan roast from Isa Chandra Moskowitz: http://www.theppk.com/2011/11/seitan-roast-stuffed-with-shiitakes-and-leeks/. It’s dense and chewy and really tasty, and the best thing is you can adapt the stuffing and other flavourings to suit you.

The only bad Christmas meal I ever had

I’ve written more than once about chefs who don’t have a clue about what to cook for vegetarians and this is probably the worst experience I’ve had in that respect. The vegetarian option for the office Christmas lunch a few years ago was described only as a vegetarian suet pudding. It could have been lovely, but sadly it was suet pastry wrapped around unseasoned, mealy lentils. It probably would have been ok if there was some gravy or other sauce but sadly there wasn’t. It was dry and bland and a real disappointment.

I’d love to hear what other vegetarians and vegans have for Christmas dinner, please let me know your best and worst experiences.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Christmas and New Year!

Two-soup Sunday, part two – vegetarian lentil and not-bacon

18 Aug

Soup can be many things: from chunky to smooth, from elegant to “throw it all in and see what happens”, from creamy to spicy, from a delicate starter to a full-on main course. One of soups most important roles is that of a comfort food. As a child, whenever I was ill my Mum would feed me tinned lentil and bacon soup, and no matter what was wrong it would always make me feel better. I’ve now been a vegetarian for a very long time, and while you can get plain lentil soup in a can that is just as comforting (if not more so), I’ve been on a bit of a mission to create a vegetarian version of the meaty kind from my childhood.

The key to this is liquid smoke. It’s quite expensive in the UK, and you have to buy it online, but a little bit goes a long way. It’s probably not going to fool a meat eater, but a hint of smoke in a soup or stew is just enough to trick a vegetarian brain into tasting bacon. Even without the liquid smoke it’s still a tasty soup though, and just as comforting.

Recipe (serves 4-6)

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3-4 medium carrots, grated
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a good sprig each of rosemary and thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • a pinch of chilli flakes (optional, we put chilli in pretty much everything in the Veg household, whether it’s appropriate or not)
  • 2 cups of split red lentils
  • 7 cups vegetable stock (1.75 litres)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (or more if you want it, but be careful!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan with the lid on, sweat the onion in the oil over a medium-low heat for up to 10 minutes, without colouring.

Add the carrots, garlic, herbs, cumin, and chilli, and sweat with the lid on for another 5-10 minutes, again without colouring.

Add the lentils and stock, bring to the boil then simmer for a further 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through and starting to go mushy.

Add the liquid smoke, then check for seasoning. Serve and enjoy!

Totally un-posh vegetarian breakfast

11 Aug

As a vegetarian and wannabe vegan, it’s very important to me that the majority of my meals are healthy, well-balanced, and mostly plant-based. I don’t like to eat junk food too often (and I do count fake meat as junk food) but when I do, I like to go all out and do it in style.

It has been a very long time since I last went to McDonalds, but I remember that the only thing on the menu that I genuinely liked was the egg mcmuffin. It’s so easy to recreate at home, all you need is:

  • an English muffin
  • a cheese single (the nasty plastic-wrapped stuff, real cheese is too good and will not work)
  • a fried egg, preferably cooked in a non-stick cooking ring
  • either a couple of slices of vegetarian bacon, or some packet sausage mix made up into a little patty

Yes, there are much classier breakfast things you can make with a muffin and an egg (or some tofu), but sometimes only junk will do.

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