Tamari Tofu

I tried my first tofu today…pretty nice! I kept it simple as I wanted to taste it properly and see what it was like. I’m sure the possibilities are endless and I’m actually really looking forward to experimenting and seeing what I can come up with.

Keeping it simple:

  • Extra firm tofu (the entire block!!)
  • TamariIMG_5895
  • Hot chilli powder
  • 1 leak
  • half an avocado (are you even vegan if you don’t have avocado with every meal?!)
  • half a pepper( I used a orange one)
  • Rice noodles
  • Broccoli ( as much as you so wish)

 

Method: I marinated the tofu in tamari and chilli powder as gave it a good shake. I boiled the broccoli (only for a few minutes though as I wanted it cooked but not soft) and chopped up the leak, pepper and avocado. I them put the tofu on to fry with some coconut oil. It took a while before it had crispy sides so whilst it was frying I put the pepper and leak in a pan with coconut oil with the lid to soften them up and cooked the rice noodles (which takes around 4 minutes). Once the tofu was ready I threw it in with the leak and pepper, added the broccoli and the rice noodles. I added a bit more tamari and stirred it around. That it! I just popped it in a bow and put the avocado on top. It was very tasty and super quick and easy to make. I am now researching the different recipes to make black pepper tofu with cous cous for tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

Maple Popcorn

When conducting interviews at work the general rules is that everyone brings something yummy in for the panel to munch on in between interviewing potential future employees….ahhh crap, sugar free vegan doesn’t exactly scream fun and delicious snacks!

Naturally my go to thought was popcorn, my second thought was how can I make it better… Next stop…the internet. Bing bang boom *Maple Popcorn*

It really was delicious, exactly like the sweet popcorn you get at the cinema. I honestly have no idea why they don’t make it this way instead of adding all that refined sugar to it

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Ingredient:

  • popcorn kernels: I used 70g
  • maple syrup: I used around 4 tablespoons

Preheat the oven: 180 fan oven

 

 

Method:

Pop the corn and keep lid on to keep the heat in. Put the maple syrup into a pan and heat until boiling. Keep at boil for around 2-3 minutes. Stir to ensure it doesn’t stick to pan. Pour the crystallised syrup into pan with the pre popped corn and stir. I found that it goes a long way and if you keep stirring it around for a good few minutes you can cover all the corn.

Spread onto a baking tray (which you have already put grease proof paper on) and pop into oven for around 2 minutes. It really doesn’t take long at all. When you take it out you will notices that the popcorn has softened. Leave it to cool and it will harden up again. It will be stuck together so just break it up and it’s done! Next time I may try to compact it more and make popcorn bars ūüôā I might add some raisins, desiccated coconut or similar too! Definitely loads of room to experiment anyway!

 

 

 

Golden Milk (Turmeric, Cinnamon, Mixed Spice latte)

In an ongoing bid to rid myself of swollen joints I went to one of my favourite pastimes…scrolling endlessly (endlessly, endlessly…) through Pinterest. What I love about Pinterest is that you stumble across things you didn’t know you wanted or in this particular case, that you wanted to try!

It seemed easy enough and all of the ingredient boast wonderful health benefits. Lets give it a bash then…oh yes, one problem…I don’t like turmeric…meh I’ll just use some additional spices to overpower the turmeric taste.

  • A cup of coconut milk (you can use half a glass and the other half boiling water…not me)
  • Turmeric – a shake of
  • Mixed Spices – a shake of
  • Cinnamon – a shake there of
  • Honey – half a teaspoon

Method
Take the milk, and turmeric, spices and cinnamon, heat in pan bringing to the boil ( I’m sure you can do this in a microwave but I don’t have one). Once heated pout into mug and add the honey.

I found it quite luxurious….as one would a hot chocolate. It was creamy and tasted delicious. It had a slight grain to bit at the end, no more so than a chai latte. It reminded me of christmas, must be the cinnamon but I don’t mind that in the slightest!

I will definitely experience more with different spices and flavors and see what I can come up with!

 

 

 

 

 

Antipasto

I have always been a massive fan as antipasto (“before the meal”) as a main course.¬† I like having lots of things to pick at I suppose rather than just one thing. Whilst Antipasto traditionally contains cured meat and cheese, I pretty sure you can throw a load of things on to a plate and call it an antipasto dish and with this being a vegan blog I had no choice but to get creative!

I fancied some bread today so I took two of the balls of uncooked dough I have stacked in the freeze, defrosted them (obviously), and cooked them. I cooked some spinach with coconut oil, roasted some red pepper with coconut oil, mashed half an avocado and tries to make hummus by hand. I was interested to see if you can do it and how it would differ from whisked hummus. It was actually pretty easy, I used a potato masher and just, well, mashed them! I added coconut oil, salt and pepper. It wasn’t as smooth as hummus I’ve made in a blender but this was also the first time I haven’t used olive or sunflower oil. In the future I may think about added a spoonful of yogurt if I’m making it by hand to try and make it a bit smoother. However, It tastes the same and that is the main thing.

I used sugar free sweet chilly sauce and some soya soft cheese (which I have actually just noticed has added sugar to it!!! Arghhhhh!)

On the whole this was really yummy and so a success (apart from the blummin’ sugar filled soya cheese!!!). Very annoyed that they have to add sugar to everything!! I walked down the confectionery isle at Tesco today…not one thing I could have…not.one.thing didn’t have added sugar / vegan friendly = not one thing was natural. I went to the free from section and bought some yoyo bears to try, they’re lovely and yes I am aware they are for kids, but whatever. Ok rant over. Here are some lovely pics of today’s lunchtime adventure!

 

 

Frozen Yogurt Slab

One of things that is getting to me about this no sugar nonsense is the treats. Yeah yeah I love popcorn and all that but what about the rest!?!?!?!?

I am now on a personal, heart felt, mission to find sweet snacks that “cut it”!

So, first off, I was inspired by ‘The Body Coach’ for this one.

You freeze some yogurt in a try, and add what you like. I added blueberries and chopped nuts. I think in the next one I’ll add some raisins too. This was a pain to get out the tray, think I need to use a bigger tray though, so I can spread it thinner. Anyway, it was really yummy . I actually used almond soya yogurt , so the options for flavours are plentiful. I may try blending it with strawberries next time too, oh maybe some dates too! (I never said this would be low fat!)

So there you have it! Not rocket science and I even took some pretty pictures!

Pad Thai (Thai stir fry)

For me the thing that makes a Pad Thai a Pad Thai is the tamari, tahini and the ribbon noodles. All the other ingredient are interchangeable ( in my opinion). In the traditional dish there is an egg, which I have forgone and found it tastes just as good without. I have made this a few times with different ingredient, pretty much just whatever I have in the veg box in my fridge. I will probably update this post each time I made a new variation. I honestly don’t think you can go too wrong as long as you have the base ingredient (tamari, tahini, ribbon noodles)

Recipe version 1

  • Half a red onionIMG_5438
  • Half an Avocado
  • Full pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini
  • 2x teaspoons of tamari (basically sugar free soy sauce)
  • 5-8 peanuts
  • 80g rice noodles (I use rice noodles as they are sugar free)
  • Handful of spinach

Method: Cook the rice noodles in boiling water (takes¬†IMG_5450around 4 minutes), drain and place to the side.¬†Add some coconut oil to a pan, when warm add a bit of chopped garlic and half the chopped onion. Put in the tamari and then stir in the handful of spinach and chopped pepper (I used a yellow pepper s that was all I had, but there are no rules, I would have used whatever colour I had) and the cut spring onions. After the¬†spinach has ‘wilted’ add the noodles and then stir together with a spoonful of tahini on a low heat. Add salt, pepper and a sprinkle of chilli flakes to taste. and some of thechopped¬†peanuts. Once this has all been stirred together, take off the heat.¬†Add to a bowl and top with the avocado and sprinkle the rest of the chopped peanuts on top.

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Side note: When making a Pad Thai or a stir fry I like to chop my spring onions length ways. Whist this make no difference taste wise, it tricks me into¬†I’m back in Thailand and it somehow seems more authentic.

 

Recipe Version 2

  • Big ol’ handful of spinach¬†IMG_5526
  • Half an avocado
  • Beetroot
  • Half a red onion
  • Handful of peanuts
  • 80g Rice ribbon noodles
  • Handful of green beans
  • Tahini (tablespoon)
  • Tahini (teaspoon)
  • 2/3 spring onionsIMG_5534

Method:

Put ribbon noodles and green beans into pan to cook, should take around 4 mins. Add some coconut oil to pan, add garlic (if you want), chopped onion, spinach, spring onions, along with the tamari. Keep on low heat and add the noodles and green beans and stir in the tahini and some of the chopped peanuts. Once heated and stirred, its done!

Add to bowl and this is the point that I like to add the cold ingredient on top, which is usually just what I fancy. In this case its the avocado, beetroot and the rest of the chopped peanuts. Yum! By the time I took this picture I was on my second bowl and have already eaten the one with the beetroot and avocado on top! Oops…must work on portion control!

 

Tahini Chickpea Curry with Couscous (AKA TahPeaCous)

I was planning on having sweet potato nachos and chilli today but on a sweep of my cupboards I discovered I didn’t have any black beans…first world problems. I decided to go rouge and cobble something together. I made a pile of things I like and things I thought would go together.

Exhibit A:

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  • 1 can of chickpeas (in water not salt)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 80g of uncooked couscous
  • 1 red onion
  • I pepper (any colour, they all taste good to me)
  • Massive handful of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini (I love all nut butters and although this is ground sesame seeds it tastes like peanut butter to me)
  • Cumin (To taste)
  • Chilli flakes (optional, to taste)
  • Half an avacado
  • Spring onions (as many as you want, I used two, chopped them up and mixed them in with a mashed up avocado)

The secret to not crying when you are cutting an onion is not to get emotionally attached #lifehackIMG_5369

 

 

 

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Into the pan goes the can of chopped tomatoes, the chopped onion, the spinach, the chopped pepper, the can of chickpeas, the tahini, cumin and chilli seeds. I cooked it on a low heat…It took around 10 minutes. I popped half in the fridge fr tomorrow and put the rest on top of of the cooked couscous, with a coupe of spoonfuls of yogurt and topped it with the mashed avocado and ping onions! Done!

 

 

I am really happy with the dish, not only because it was so nice but because it is packed with ingredient that is now working away in my body giving it so many good things! It is working FOR my body and not against it. I have been doing this for over a month now (with around 2 real sugary cheat meals thrown in there) and I feel good, I have always been active and eaten my greens but stepping things up a notch has really made a difference. I feel good, inside, I feel energetic, I feel awake, I don’t get the mid morning or mid afternoon slump, I feel sharp and my goodness it feels good!

 

Midnight Munchies (by midnight I mean, morning, noon and night)

Breaking the evening sweet treat routine, usually some sort of cake or chocolate biscuit, was a worry for me. If anything was going to break me, I thought that it would be this. I would happily munch my way through a chocolate orange, some giant chocolate buttons or a piece of carrot cake. Seriously what do people eat as a treat of they’re not eating chocolate or cake?

At first I indulge on dates, porridge covered in honey, banana milkshakes etc. Now whilst all this was added sugar free I was starting to notice I had no concept of when to stop and  also dates are not cheap!

So I after some thought ( no thought, just googling) I decided to give popcorn a whirl. I cant remember when I last ate home popped popcorn, I would usually get toffee coated popcorn for a movie night or to take to the cinema. As this is now off limits

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I had no choice but to go caveman. Took me a while to find it in the supermarket but once sourced I got to it. The instructions tell you to put oil in the pan first but this isn’t true, (in fact it can remove many of the benefits if you do add it, apparently) you can just add the kernels straight into a heated pan and cover with a lid, turn the heat down though otherwise it’ll burn. I think that one of the best things about home popped popcorn is that your house smells delicious and the “popping” becomes one of the most welcome sounds you can hear. After its popped add whatever you like, I either add salt or stir a teaspoon of honey into it. (Please note the picture my hand posed for, I have about 20 more on my phone with my hand at various stages of hovering over the bowl, to help create the anticipation / excitement of a good old bowl of hand popped popcorn!..did I over think it…100% I did)¬†

Right, real talk, despite the fact that its delicious there are many benefits to eating popcorn

  • Its anti-inflammatory! Woohoo!!
  • Contains a large amount of antioxidant capacity, which help prevent cancer and prevent ageing,
  • Its full of protein. Apparently ounce for ounce more than spinach or eggs. (surprising if true!)
  • Low fat. As long as you don’t cook it in oil, and cover in sugar or butter. Yes I sometimes add honey but only around a teaspoon so I think I’ll pass (hope so!).
  • Its a wholegrain, so lots of fibre so will improve / is good for your digestion
  • May seem obvious but its gluten free
  • Cheap! I usually have around 50g (pre popped) a time and there is 500g in my bag, at ¬£2 a bag that’s 20p a serving. You cant even buy a Freddo for 20p these days!

Keeping it “good for you”:

  • Don’t add oils or lots of sugar / butter to it,
  • Check its organic (mine doesn’t say it is so I am assuming that means its not,
    I will look for organic when I restock. Also stay away from microwave popcorn too as there are chemical in the packaging which you can do without.

Disclaimer: I have gathered the above information by searching the web and cross referencing health claims. Obviously I haven’t tested popcorn myself in a lab or conducted my own research / trials so I cannot be 100% sure all of this is true (especially as I am beginning to think that everything we are told is just a conspiracy theory). I hope they are though!

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Nachos with Black bean chilli

Today I woke up feeling heavy and lethargic, after a family party this weekend, I consumed a good ol’ portion (or 5) of sugary foods. I go by the 95/5 split, where I eat plant and sugar free based 95% of the time but I don’t begrudge myself a sugar tipple should IMG_5312the occasion call for it. At this point I’m still a beginner and may go 100% sugar free in the future. However I really felt like I paid for it yesterday and this morning, it almost felt like a hangover. The thing with feeling “hungover” is that you crave carby / sugary foods, so whilst that was what I wanted I knew that what I needed was plants and lot of them! I decided on nachos and chilli, oh yeahh! As this is a plants based / sugar free blog I decided on a tasty plant based alternative. Sweet potato nachos and black bean chilli! It was so good I already planning on having it again tomorrow

Black bean chilli: 

This makes enough for around 4 portions. I like to make enough to keep in the fridge or feed a few people.

Garlic clove (I use about 3 as I love garlic, but you can alter according to your taste)

1 red onion

Canned sweetcorn

1 can of chopped tomatoes

1 can of back beans

Cumin / Paprika / chilli flakes: Add to taste, I put a good old shake of each

Method: heat a small amount of oil (I use fry light or olive oil), add chopped garlic and then a minute later add the chopped onion. Add the can of chopped tomatoes, can of drained black beans, half a can of sweetcorn (or all of it if you want! I like to add half and then have half in the fridge to eat straight from the ban or add to a baked potato / salad¬† / falafal etc) and spices. At this point I also like to have a sweep of my fridge and see if there is anything else I can add…spinach, actual tomatoes, peppers (red, yellow, green)

Once you have had a taste and you’re happy, take off the heat and set aside or pop into a tub to cool before you pop in fridge if you are making a batch up.

Sweet Potato Nachos

Pre heat oven. I gave a fan over and preheat it at 250.

Slice a sweet potato up, one per person should be enough if you are having other things on the plate, if you want a heaped bowl full Id do over a potato each.IMG_5303 Once slices put on a tray with oil, I use fry light or a drizzle of olive / sunflower. Salt and pepper to taste. These should take around 20 minutes, I keep checking on them as you want to keep turning them.

 

 

Once done take out, cover it in cheese and pop back in for the cheese to melt. I have startIMG_5305ed to try out vegan cheese. Violife do soft cheese and blocks. I think this one is pretty nice. I got this from Tesco. It tastes, slices and grates like a regular cheddar. I’m not a cheese connoisseur so I’m sure others will be able to give you a more specific review but I like this one. It melts well too, which is a big plus. I took a recording of the melted cheese to demonstrate of stringy it gets but I would need to upgrade my version of wordpress to upload it… sorry I’m feeling too frugal to do that this month!

I also mashed an avocado and added a few dollops of yogurt to made a guacamole, because if you ain’t dippin’ you trippin’. Yum.IMG_5297

So now you just put it all together, nachos, chilli and guac. I also added beetroot, as I absolutely love it and a few more dollops of yogurt. Obviously you can load this up with the chilli on top but I like to have my different food in piles. Also I am definitely gong to add more cheese next time (tomorrow!)

 

 

Milk

I bought a selection of milks to trial them out and see what goes best coffee, tea, porridge etc. 

I have tried: coconut, almond and Oat. 

My reviews: 

With coffee- I think coconut milk goes really well with coffee, I absolutely love coconut in any situation so I am aware that this will not be everyone taste

With porridge: My go to breakfast / late night snack is porridge. I think that oat milk is the perfect match, for probably the obvious reason!

Almond milk I can take or leave, for me the coconut and oat milk meet all my needs so I wont need to get it again, unless I want a change of course. Benefits are that it is high in vitamin D and low in fat. I was a little surprise when I looked at the ingredient as the brand I got is only 1% organic Italian almonds. Other ingredient include; spring water, organic rice, sunflower oil and sea salt. All good stuff I suppose.

Oat Milk: I really like it, it taste the most similar to cow milk in my opinion. However with the brand I bought the ingredient list was also surprising: water, oats 10%, rapeseed oil, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphates, iodised salt, vitamins (O2, riboflavin and B12). So it contains chemicals, hmm that’s annoying. I think I’ll have to try other brands. I assumed because it was “healthy” it wouldn’t have chemicals in, if there is one thing I am learning fast it is that YOU HAVE GOT TO CHECK THE INGREDIENTS BEFORE YOU BUY!¬†

Coconut Milk: I love coconut milk, I have never taken sugar in my coffee but I love the sweetness this adds to my brew. OK, now to the ingredient: Water, coconut cream (whats that>??…just googles it, it is coconut milk but with less water), rice flour, calcium phosphate, flavouring (why> doesn’t coconut have a natural flavour?), stabilisers (Xanthan gum, gallan gum), salt, vit B12, Vit D2). Oh great, more chemicals…*rolls eyes* *Gives up*

I also tried coconut water, just for fun and I’m not really a fan, I prefer normal water. However, 100% coconut water has many benefits, if I can believe everything I’ve read. It boasts lowering cholesterol, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure. Apparently it is good post exercise as it help to hydrate you and replace electrolytes. However it is not as good at replenishing you as a banana or raisins. I’m not a nutritionist, but from what I can gather it is not a replacement for other foods but good to use as an addition to say a banana, along with your breakfast and coffee.¬†

So in conclusion I am going to check the ingredient of EVERYTHING FOR EVER and also probably just have coconut water in my coffee as its the only thing I can guarantee is natural or I can start making almond and oat milk myself…hmm I think I ll shop around to see if I can find some brands without chemical first. Realistically, I’m not at the point where I’m making my own milk¬† *walks to kettle and makes a coffee with coconut water instead of milk.*

Who knew I have so much to say about milk… just realised I have no life and the most important thing to me right now is milk *wow* *kills self*¬†

Disclaimer: I have not killed myself. That was purely for dramatic effect. Please don’t be offended.¬†

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