Creamy pasta recipe and useful finds :)

Heyyyyy folks πŸ™‚ It’s been a little while since I last posted again, due to lots and lots of busyness occurring: it’s been a busy time at uni recently, and I have increased my hours at Lidl slightly. Hope everybody had a nice Valentine’s day yesterday, if you celebrate it! Personally I use it as a good excuse to eat lovely food (and chocolate!)

Jacob and I treated each other to lots of Hotel Chocolat, and I cooked a homemade meal in the evening – I will put the recipe below:

pasta-recipe

Versatile Creamy Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes

A very simple dish, which you can adapt to use whatever flavours you want: Italian, spicy or cheesy…

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • Punnet plum/cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
  • 10 ounces pasta
  • Oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • A bulb’s-worth of garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 600 ml unsweetened almond milk
  • Extra seasonings of choice, such as chilli powder, Italian herbs
  • Vegan cheese, such as Violife parmesan (optional)
  • Fresh basil, to garnish

Method:

  • Put the halved tomatoes onto a baking tray with some oil and salt, and roast at 200C while you make the rest of the dish

  • Put the pasta on to boil for approx. 12 mins

  • Meanwhile, make the sauce in a frying pan: Fry the garlic and shallots in a bit of oil until softened

  • Add the flour, then the almond milk, a little at a time until well combined

  • Let the sauce simmer and thicken for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper, and whatever extra seasonings and vegan cheese you would like

  • When the sauce has reached your desired consistency, stir in the cooked pasta and the roasted tomatoes. Garnish with the fresh basil and enjoy!

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Today’s gonna be good…

I tried out a few new products over these last two weeks:

Linda McCartney’s chorizo and red pepper sausages are awesome! I had them with fried onions, sweetcorn, peppers, avocado and rice, which was a tasty mixture πŸ™‚

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Also, the mock duck is very realistic and tasty in a stir fry (excuse the terribly blurry photo!)

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Remember last time I said I love the newly-vegan Quorn spicy burgers?? πŸ˜€

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I also tried a random marinade sauce I found in Sainsbury’s; Levi Roots’ ginger beer! It is marked vegan on the packet, and had a lovely citrusy, slightly hot flavour: would recommend with a stir-fry and sweet-potato fries:

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Lastly, these pineapple fritters were for sale in the Asian specials recently at Lidl! I love fritters, so had them with Swedish Glace ice-cream πŸ™‚

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And here are a couple of favourites:

Mum’s lovely pizza and salad πŸ™‚ Looked so pretty and colourful I had to take a picture!

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And this was my tea, which I had about 20 mins ago! πŸ˜€ Lidl’s “Simply” garlic bread is vegan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Sorry for the lengthly post! Jacob and I are off to Manchester tomorrow to see the Bat Out of Hell musical on its opening night on Friday. I hear that Manchester is very vegan-friendly, so I’m sure I will have lots of eateries to report on when I return…

Until next time πŸ™‚

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Latest food!

Hi folks! I wanted to post a few food recipes and images from the past few weeks. I have written about a few new vegan-friendly eateries in my Favourite shops & eateries page recently and thought I would post a few images from them all so you can see the sort of things they do:

My dad and I went to a little cafe in Taunton called The Planet, which is entirely vegan and does fresh hot food and lovely cakes πŸ™‚ I had ‘cheesy’ pasta, which tasted very realistic and was very filling, my dad had chilli, and we both had cake for afters:

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Also, for my one-year veganniversary celebrations, Jacob and I went to Las Iguanas, which has recently expanded its vegan menu, and are currently doing 2-for-1 on all vegan main courses to support veganuary! It was delicious there: we had guacamole to start, then curry/three mushroom fajita, then a really yummy blancmange-type thing called ‘tembleque’, as well as some cocktails!

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Also, here are some of my best home-cooked things from recent times πŸ™‚

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This was spaghetti with a sauce made from Sainsbury’s own vegan mince, their Taste the Difference cherry tomato and chilli pasta sauce, and green peppers, topped with Violife cheese and with garlic bread made from par-baked baguettes and spread with ‘Pure’ sunflower, basil and garlic granules. Yum!

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These are the fajitas I made last night, using Fry’s chicken-style strips, peppers, onions and the same tomato and chilli sauce as above. I also made a ‘deconstructed guacamole’ with avocado, tomato, red onion and a bit of lime juice and black pepper πŸ™‚

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Last but certainly not least, I made Betty Crocker brownies with Swedish Glace ice-cream!!!! ❀

Cake and things :)

Literally just realised I never posted a picture of my Mum’s birthday cake, that I made a couple of weeks ago! I used Betty Crocker vanilla cake mix (with Orgran egg replacer), Soyatoo squirty cream (which I bought in bulk off the internet to reduce the cost), strawberry jam and fresh strawberries. It was thoroughly enjoyed by me, Jacob and the birthday lady πŸ˜€

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Also some recipes as per usual!

Firstly, a vegetable and Fry’s chicken stir-fry, made with Sainsbury’s own sweet chilli cooking sauce:

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Secondly, spaghetti bolognese made from Sainsbury’s own vegan mince, veg and Lloyd Grossman sauce, accompanied by garlic bread slices made from Lidl’s par-baked baguettes and combined Vitalite spread, mixed Italian seasoning and garlic granules:

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Photo taken with my rubbish camera

Finally, just now in fact, I made baked mushrooms! I had seen a post somebody wrote on Facebook, saying to put Sacla freefrom pesto and grated Violife cheese on top of large field mushrooms, and bake for 15-20 mins at 200 degrees C. Tis worked brilliantly, and we had them with spice sensation couscous, avocado and tomato πŸ™‚

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Photo taken with Jacob’s much better camera

Busy and excited!

Hi folks, it’s been a while again since I last posted, what with organising all our stuff into our new house, working, and preparing for our holidays (just a few days to go now yay!)

I think it’s accurate to say that I am one hundred percent happy and comfortable with a vegan diet now πŸ™‚ Really the only difficulties I have are the inevitable feelings of frustration and anger which come from being aware of where food comes from, and the problems with the world’s environment and animal welfare.

But yes, sadly when you’ve hopped off the proverbial fence on the vegan side, you do suddenly become frustrated with people, and are likely to feel isolated if you’re not surrounded by like-minded ones! I’m very lucky to live with Jacob and my mum. The only non-vegan thing my mum will [begrudgingly!] eat is the occasional egg, when we eat out, because she is very restricted in restaurants, what with not being able to eat garlic or onions :/

Speaking of which, I have a recipe for a yummy pasta dish, which is fully vegan, garlic and onion free! (Judge the amounts depending how many people are eating):

  • Fry some Fry’s sausages in a bit of rapeseed oil for a few minutes until they are pretty much cooked through
  • Add peppers, courgette, mushrooms and fresh tomatoes for a few more minutes until softened
  • Add tomato passata and tomato purΓ©e, as well as a generous mixture of dried basil, oregano, thyme and sage, and a bit of water if needed
  • Allow to simmer while the pasta boils for however long it says on the packet :

Right, on to my favourite part: yummy things I have eaten recently! πŸ˜€

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Shakeaway, made with soya milk and Oreos!

On a very hot and sunny day last week, I met up with a uni friend in town, and whilst I slowly turned a light shade of lobster in the sun, I got a huge, and very cheap, portion of sweet potato fries and salad with sweet chilli sauce from a food stall πŸ™‚

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Hot, in all senses!!
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Grilled ciabatta slices with Sacla freefrom pesto and Violife cheese
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Home-made pizza (well, with bases courtesy of Sainsbury’s!) and salad

Found this in Holland & Barrett, and it turned out to be half price! Should have bought more, as it was amazing:

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Next Tuesday, Jacob and I will be off on our various summer adventures, for which I am very excited πŸ™‚ Firstly, we are heading to London to be assistant production managers for a show in the Camden Fringe, then we are flying up to Edinburgh for the festival! I have booked a great combination of comedy shows and ghost walks for us to enjoy, and I look forward to sampling lots of vegan fare in both cities πŸ™‚

Ciao, until next time! πŸ˜€

Staying determined

Ciao peeps! It’s been a very hectic and stressful few days, mostly due to organising our imminent house move, and having to deal with some ignorant haters on social media. As a result, I spent most of the weekend feeing very despondent with people (which wasn’t helped by a couple of rude customers at work!). Having a caring personality is both a blessing and a curse at times, as it can feel isolating when you encounter a barrage of ignorance, and yet you know that what you stand for is important for everybody!

Something I have had to learn since going vegan is that, if you are feeling in any way run down, the insulting comments from others can easily bring your mood down. However, once things are a little better, and you speak to like-minded people again, you regain some faith in humanity πŸ™‚

The main point of this post, though, is to share a delicious meal and some more useful vegan finds with you all πŸ™‚

Last Friday, in between house viewings, Jacob and I popped into out favourite The Green Rocket Cafe for lunch, where I ordered something I haven’t tried before: a big mezze selection! I think it’s the yummiest thing I have tried there so far (which is saying something) and includes marinated tofu, salad and dressing, humous, an aubergine-tomato concoction, falafel, beetroot salad and quinoa. It was perfect for a hot day, and I felt very full but healthy afterwards!

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Amazing mezze!

Yesterday, we went on a long shopping trip to town, which included Harvest, Holland & Barrett, Marks and Spencer, Lush and Sainsbury’s, and here are a few important things we picked up along the way:

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  • M&S Spirit of Summer carnival fire cracker sweets – finally back in stock and as sweet, spicy and delicious as everybody has been saying!
  • Meridian yeast extract – a healthier alternative to Marmite (also vegan), tastes just like the real thing
  • Sojade strawberry yoghurt
  • Violife parmesan-style cheese – an incredibly realistic imitation! I was never a fan of parmesan, but Jacob loves it
  • Sainsbury’s own noodles – a very handy snack, totally vegan, and all their flavours are very tasty
  • Vego chocolate!!!!! – oh.my. days. this is delicious. Like honestly, if they can make vegan milk-style chocolate this good, why do they bother with dairy?! πŸ˜€

Birthday week continued!

LENGTHY POST WARNING!

A birthday at the start of the week = using the entire remainder of the week to continue celebrating πŸ˜€

On Tuesday evening, we invited our friend Genesis over to have some dinner and to try the nut roasts that our pals gave us on Monday. We decided to make it a Mediterranean-Greek-randomness-themed meal, so we had mixed roast veggies, olives, baby carrots, and a couple of hummuses. It all went together really nicely, and we had the rest of Jacob’s birthday cake for pudding πŸ™‚

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Yummy spread πŸ™‚

On Wednesday, I’d organised a day out at Airhop Bristol, which was sooo much fun (and also made us realise how unfit we are!). We travelled to Cribbs Causeway on the bus and ate lunch when we arrived. I fail to remember the name of the cafΓ©, but needless to say it was the first suitable place we could find. However, the falafel wraps we had were surprisingly delicious, and filled us up nicely (but not too much before two hours of bouncing!).

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Falafel wrap with salad and chips

After Airhop, it was early evening and we were exhausted and ready for something more substantial. I’d read on Facebook that Zizzi’s have a brand new vegan menu, and we were eager to try it, so we headed into Cabot Circus in search…

I’d been to Zizzi’s before, but never as a vegan, and so I can genuinely say that the vegan food was just as yummy as the “normal” stuff! We had olives and garlic bread to start, then customised our margherita pizzas with loads of extra toppings, then I had baked nectarines and sorbet for dessert. Phew!

Here’s a few pictures, with Jacob’s obligatory face-pulling:

Jacob said a very sweet thing to me at Zizzi’s which was that he’d never eaten such consistently delicious food, or such a wide variety, before we both went vegan. Just some of the foods he’d never tried before were kale, tofu (now a firm favourite), mangetout, and lentil curry. Yet again, the phrase “what do vegans eat?” seems to be redundant!

Yesterday, I was delighted to hear that Quorn are making their entire range vegan πŸ™‚ Even though Quorn is not my favourite range of meat substitutes, it is great that it will soon be an option for us again, as it is used in a lot of restaurants as their go-to veggie option.

On Thursday evening, I had booked a table at The Green Rocket Cafe for us and a few friends to have a proper birthday meal. Many of the group had never eaten at a vegetarian/vegan restaurant before, but everybody was keen to try the food and, for the most part, they enjoyed it πŸ™‚ Particularly the chocolate cake I had ordered everybody for pudding! πŸ˜€

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The table set up πŸ™‚ It was a lot messier when we’d finished!!

Finally, yesterday I watched a video on Facebook about how to make an easy Mexican-style ‘lasagne’ and decided to try making a vegan version after work. We invited Jacob’s cousin over, and the dish got his seal of approval too πŸ˜€ Here’s a recipe:

Serves 3-4

  • Chilli mixture (either made fresh or ready-bought)
  • plain nacho chips
  • 2-3 tortillas
  • Violife cheese
  • jalapeΓ±os
  • Salsa and vegan sour cream
  • Spring onions (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius
  2. Put a layer of chilli mixture into a baking dish
  3. Follow with a layer of nacho chips and a layer of Violife
  4. Put the tortillas on top and press down gently
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3
  6. Top with a few jalapeΓ±os and bake for 25 mins
  7. Serve with the onions, salsa and sour cream
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Mexican-style ‘lasagne’ πŸ™‚

What a fab birthday week! Roll on the next one πŸ˜€

Because vegan pizza!!!

Today, Jacob and I tried a new cooking venture: assembling our own pizzas! We got pizza bases from Sainsbury’s and topped one with their veggie mince and green pepper, and the other with Fry’s chicken-style strips and mushrooms. Both also had passata, Violife cheese, onions and seasoning on them, and it was fairly straightforward assembling everything and cooking in the oven πŸ™‚

Obviously, you could put whatever combinations of toppings you want, but basic instructions are:

  1. Pre-cook any toppings which need it (meat substitutes, hard veg, leafy greens, mushrooms and onions)
  2. Layer the passata, toppings, Violife and seasonings onto the base
  3. Cook according to instructions on the pizza base packet
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A poor photo of yummy-looking pizzas straight from the oven, with salad as a side πŸ˜€
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One happy hubby! (and camerawoman)

Nachos night!

Phew! I’ve been so busy over the last few days, what with uni work, Lidl work and general life work!

However… I did manage to have a nachos night with two friends on Thursday πŸ˜€

Obviously I knew I’d have to bring my own cheese (mozzarella-style Violife) and guacamole (the home-made one I posted a recipe for the other day), but the nacho chips and salsa were fine. The Violife took a little longer to melt than my friends’ cheese did, but the result was pretty awesome:

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Slurp!

My friends were curious about how the Violife tasted, so I gave them some to try. Perhaps because they are fans of strong cheese, they said it didn’t taste like cheese, and the texture was different, but was OK.

But that’s why Violife suits me perfectly, because I only like cheese for added texture and very mild flavour anyway πŸ™‚

I was so full by the end, but I kept eating cause I didn’t want to waste any! πŸ˜€

“But what do vegans eat?!”

I have previously mentioned that, for most meals, I just put a few ingredients together, rather than cooking from scratch every single time. So I thought I would post a couple of “put-together” meals we had this week…

Whoever asked “but what do vegans eat?!” πŸ˜€

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“Cheese” and “ham” pasties with sweet potato fries, salad and avocado
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“Cheeseburger” with salad, avocado and corn-on-the-cobs

I can pretty much guarantee that most non-vegans would not suspect these meals of being vegan, and they involve such popular foods! The meat and cheese substitutes taste so ‘real’ that I often suspect Linda McCartney, Holland & Barrett, and Violife of fraud! πŸ˜€

A few people we know have been puzzled as to why a lot of vegans enjoy eating substitutes which taste ‘real’. The very simple answer is this: most people go vegan because of morals and ethical reasons, not because they dislike the taste of meat! Personally, I was not the biggest meat- and dairy-eater anyway, but I did find it incredibly difficult giving up chicken and some mild cheese. Therefore, it is so comforting to know that there are these cruelty-free options available.