Friday, March 30, 2007

My Veganniversary

Inspired by Bazu’s post last month, I thought I would post about how I came to be a vegan as this month is my one year veganniversary. Also like Bazu this is actually my second time around being vegan. I wish I had stuck with it the first time, but here’s how I got there in the end:

I’ve always liked animals and when I was around 15 I used to see animal rights stalls in the city centre of Glasgow and would read the leaflets and sign their petitions. I made sure that my makeup was not tested on animals and discovered The Body Shop. My aunt is a vegetarian so I was always aware of what a vegetarian was, but at the time I never really connected the food on my plate to real life animals.

When I was 17 I studied Hospitality Management at college. Part of the course was a full day’s class in the kitchen where we learned basic food preparation and cooking skills. Some of the things we learned were filleting fish and preparing rack of lamb. I am really squeamish and I hated dealing with this kind of stuff and it was becoming much more apparent to me that the food I was eating was part of an animal that used to live and breathe. I decided to myself that when I moved out my parent’s home I would become vegetarian. But one day at home I was preparing chicken for dinner and there was blood on it and it just disgusted me so much that I decided there and then that I didn’t want to eat stuff like that anymore.

When I told my Mum that I was going to be vegetarian she was fine with it, but said to me, “I hope you’re not going to be one of those vegans”. I think she just gave me the idea, and within a year or two I had turned vegan. I was happy with my choice to be a vegan; I had never particularly liked milk or eggs and didn’t really miss them. When I was questioned about veganism I had a hard time explaining myself because I didn’t really know for sure why I was vegan. Sometimes I liked the idea that I was a bit different and other times I was mortified when put on the spot and questioned about veganism. I continued being vegan for about 3 years, but when Wee G and I went on holiday abroad I ended up eating cheese and eggs because I couldn’t find much else and I didn’t want to cause a fuss. When we came back home I realised that life was much easier being vegetarian. I continued drinking soy milk, but ate cheese and milk chocolate and eggs when they were an ingredient in something else. I didn’t like the idea that these products came from animals, and still thought they were pretty icky, but I chose to not think about it instead of avoiding them.

In 2006 it was almost ten years since I had quit being vegan. Every now and then I thought that it would be “ideal” to be vegan, but was just never motivated to do anything about it. My motivation initially came from reading the news that The Body Shop was taken over by L’Oreal. I still bought all my makeup there and loved their products and had more love for that shop than a person should have for a store selling bubble bath. But I have never bought anything from L’Oreal as they are notorious for testing on animals. I have never forgotten a leaflet I read when I was a teenager about one particular experiment for sunscreen that they carried out on mice. It still makes me ill to think about it so I won’t go in to details. I was hugely disappointed and outraged that The Body Shop would have anything to do with L’Oreal. I began searching online to find somewhere else to buy my makeup and somehow ended up on the PETA web site. There I ended up watching the Meet Your Meat video. Even though I was vegetarian I was shocked at the treatment of the animals and when it was stated in the film that the veal industry is directly linked to the dairy industry I decided right then that I would not consume any dairy again. I couldn’t believe that I had never realised this before. So that was it – I was vegan again!

This time round I’m much better informed and feel more certain about my reasons for being vegan. I know that I’ll be vegan for life now. I spent hours reading about veganism and animal rights on the internet last year. Wee G was very supportive of my decision, but didn’t like that I was getting upset over many of the things I was reading. I’ve never tried to get him to be a veggie, but if I could have changed one thing about him it would be to make him a veggie! One day I left this web site on the pc screen (accidentally-on-purpose :)). He read it and turned to me and said “I don’t want to eat meat anymore”. So, now we have a meat-free, almost completely vegan house and I have never been happier! I don’t miss any animal food products at all, but I still get a little sad when I get a whiff of The Body Shop as I walk by...

I continue to learn so much from the internet and my fellow bloggers. I appreciate all the help and support I have had since starting my blog... so thank you!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Veggie Cashew Soup and Clementine Juice

I recently borrowed Breaking The Food Seduction and Eat To Live from my local library as I had heard good things about both books online. I’m not actually following either programme but since reading Breaking The Food Seduction two weeks ago I haven’t eaten any chocolate which is pretty amazing for me as I usually eat some every day. What’s more I’m not missing it…

Anyway, this soup is from Eat To Live. It’s call Dr Fuhrman’s Famous Anti-Cancer Soup. It’s made from split peas, onions, leeks and zucchini combined with carrot and celery juice with cashew nuts blended in. I don’t have a juicer so I just threw the carrots and celery in the soup without juicing them. I really liked it…it was creamy and delicately flavoured and a lovely colour! What I didn’t like about it is the name…so I’m just going to call it Veggie Cashew Soup. You can find the recipe here. I’ve bought these boxes of Cuties several times from Trader Joe’s and they are usually really good, but this box I bought weren't as great as usual and neither of us were eating them. So, I decided to juice them. As I mentioned above I don’t have a juicer so I threw them in the blender and then strained them. Unfortunately the handle on my sieve broke in the middle of it all, but the juice was sweet and smooth and strangley much better than the fruit as a whole! Yum!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Mexican Weekend

On Saturday for dinner I made some Mexican Rice. I got the original recipe from and adapted it. I love the spices in this and the colours from the tomatoes, green pepper, sweetcorn and green chickpeas. It’s very flavoursome and not too spicy.

Then on Sunday we went out to eat at Sharky’s, a Mexican fast food kind of restaurant nearby. I forgot to take photos, but I had a yummy fajita plate that had spicy tofu, veggies (onions, squash, courgettes), organic rice and beans and guacamole served with flour tortillas. Very tasty and I love that they offer tofu as a fajita/burrito/taco filling.

Mexican Recipe (Serves 2-3)

½ cup brown rice
1 cup water
½ medium onion, diced
2 tsps vegetable oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander seed
2 tsps paprika
1 pinch red pepper flakes
¼ tsp Tabasco sauce
1 green pepper
1 can tomatoes, chopped
1 cup frozen, sweetcorn, defrosted
1 cup cooked chickpeas
Salt to taste

Place rice and water in medium pot. Bring to boil and simmer for around 35 minutes until cooked. In a large frying pan heat oil over a medium high heat. Add onions and pepper and cook for around 5 minutes. Add garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander seed, paprika and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, Tabasco, sweetcorn and rice and stir through until heated thoroughly. Add salt to taste.

Increase Tabasco and red pepper flakes if you like it spicy.

Serve topped with avocado/guacamole or vegan sour cream and chopped fresh coriander (cilantro).

Friday, March 23, 2007

Chickpea Crazy!

Anything with chickpeas is good in my opinion and I’m always looking for other ways to cook them . This Hummus-Quinoa Casserole is from Vive! and although it sounds like a strange mix it turned out really well. It’s a layer of quinoa covered with a layer of hummus and topped with veggies roasted in balsamic vinegar (to which I added garlic to make them extra tasty). It came out a little dry, but I think that was because I loosely halved the recipe and ended up with too much quinoa. I’ll definitely make it again with a few changes and I’m looking forward to it cos it was really good.
It looks quite pretty in the dish, but I made a bit of a mess taking it out so it looked a little different on the plate :)

For my casserole I made Creamy Hummus also from Vive! As I’m not crazy about tahini I substituted peanut butter as suggested by laura jesser and Melody a while back. And it was yumalicious! So thanks for the idea! And it also enhanced the smell of the casserole as it had a lovely peanutty aroma when I took it out the oven.

Last night we had some Morroccan Chickpea Patties that I have blogged about before. They are so good! And great with some potato wedges and a salad. Try them if you haven’t done it already!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Brown Rice and Green Lentils, Baked Portobello Mushrooms, Cornmeal Coated Tofu and Bean Salad

This rice and lentils recipe came from a recipe book I had years ago. I no longer have the book as it, and several of my other cookbooks, met a soggy end when I had the great idea of storing them near the sink. I have pretty much the worst memory of anyone I know so when I thought about making this recipe I remembered there was rice and lentils and ummmm..... Well, I think there was onions, garlic and soy sauce and there might have been thyme. So that’s what I put in and it turned out really yummy. I also had a search on the internet and found a few recipes that had fried, caramelised onions included which sounds really yummy. I am certain that the onions in my cookbook were cooked along with the lentils and rice so I did that to keep the fat content down. I had it with a baked Portobello Mushroom and broccoli. I like some strange combinations sometimes... :)
Next to the Balsamic Strawberries this is my new favourite thing – Bean Salad. Not very exciting, just a mix of chickpeas, edamame, green beans, sweetcorn, red onion, parsley and Simple Cider Vinaigrette from Vive Le Vegan! It is so yummy! I made a ton of Rice and Lentils so I had plenty left over and next day for lunch I had some with the bean salad on top. I added some home grown mung bean sprouts (that is about as green fingered as I get). Delish!
I bought some cornmeal recently for a recipe I was going to make, but I forgot what it was (see what I mean about my memory?!) so I thought I would use some to make this Cornmeal Coated Tofu. Wee G liked that they looked like fish fingers (fish sticks) and wanted to know if I could make them taste kind of fishy. I think I could use some kind of seaweed, but I don’t really know anything about seaweed. We tried sprinkling them with some kelp granules but I think those taste salty rather than fishy. Any suggestions?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Seitan and Strawberries

I made some seitan using the recipe from VWAV. Then wondering what I would do with it I flicked to the next page of the book and saw Jerk Seitan. I didn’t really know what it was supposed to taste like as it’s flavoured with lime, allspice, nutmeg and soy sauce among other things which sounded a strange mix to me, but it turned out really nice. Very tasty, but not the greatest dish lookswise.
Then with the rest of the seitan (I only made half a batch) I decided to make “meatballs”. I didn’t bother with a recipe, just mixed the ground seitan with breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, herbs and a “flax egg” to bind it together. Then I baked them in the oven and then served them with whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce. They turned out a little soft, next time I will need more breadcrumbs or something.
Now, for my new favourite thing in the world! Strawberries and balsamic vinegar! I adapted this from a Jamie Oliver recipe and it is so so so delicious! You can serve them with vegan yogurt or ice cream. I tried with vanilla soy yogurt and lime soy yogurt, both were super yummy, but they are also gorgeous all on their own.

Balsamic Strawberries (Serves 2-4)

1lb strawberries
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2-3 basil leaves, chopped

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and let sit for at least half an hour at room temperature. Do not let sit for more than 2 hours. Serve and enjoy.

Friday, March 16, 2007

More Soup, Biscuits, Stir Fry and Another Eggless Omelette

Even though it’s like the middle of summer here I am still making soup with winter squash... This is Butternut Tomato Soup from How It All Vegan. It’s got a pretty mild taste as the only things flavouring it apart from the veggies are ginger and garlic. It was a nice change from my usual lentil soup.
I made US style biscuits for the first time a few weeks ago and I have started making them quite frequently. They are a bit like savoury scones and are great to have with soup. Plus they only take half an hour (at most) to make. The ones pictured are Fancy Biscuits (with dill and spring onions) from How It All Vegan, but I have also made the regular ones and they are yummy too.
I made another “omelette”, this time with mushrooms, Italian mixed herbs and nutritional yeast added. And again I didn’t add the oil from the original recipe (from VWaV). It was definitely more flavourful than the last one, but also a little flatter because it didn’t have the potatoes and onions to bulk it up. I think I’d like to try again with different veggies. So many variations I could try...
And finally this is a stir fry that I threw together one night for me when Wee G was working late. I wanted to try using up some of my pomegranate molasses that I bought ages ago for making BBQ Pomegranate Tofu so I added it to this stir fry along with soy sauce, garlic and some other stuff that I can’t remember because I didn’t write it down...ooops! I wish I had written it down as it was really nice... I guess I will just have to experiment to see if I can make it again!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Faux Chicken Salad

I don’t know why I keep making thing that seem to have the main ingredient missing (omelettes without eggs, clam chowder without clams), but I am continuing the trend here with this chicken salad without chicken. This is from How It All Vegan. I was looking for a tempeh recipe so that I could make something a bit more exciting than stir fry and found this. It’s basically steamed tempeh with vegan mayonnaise and celery, onion, soy sauce, mustard and garlic. I didn’t have the dill pickle the recipe called for and I added a grated carrot. The recipe suggests that you can add some curry powder as an option which I guess makes it like Coronation Chicken. I was a bit unsure on the first taste, but it grew on me and the next day when I had it for lunch I loved it.
Calling it faux chicken salad reminded me of an episode of King Of The Hill I saw a while ago. Hank went to a health food store where they sold tofu and faux-fu which was for the “tofu-intolerant”. I’m sure it was meant to be insulting to vegetarians, but I thought it was quite funny… I’d like to know what faux-fu tastes like… :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

French Toast

We rarely have white bread in the house, but after making the no knead bread I thought I would take the opportunity to use it to make some Fantastic French Toast from Vive Le Vegan!
It was really nice with a delicate cinnamon/nutmeg flavour, unlike French Toast we used to eat when we were kids which was more savoury and flavoured with salt and pepper. I remember my Mum making it for lunch for my brother, sister and I. We would eat it faster than she could make it and then hover behind her in the kitchen demanding more! I wonder now if my Mum ever actually got to eat any or if the bread ran out before she even got a slice!
Anyway, this was delish and with the fruit and maple syrup added it was almost more like dessert than brunch. My only problem was that it stuck quite badly to my non-stick pan, but it wouldn’t deter me from making it again.

Monday, March 12, 2007

No Knead Bread

I finally got round to trying out the no knead bread recipe that everyone has been making. Supposedly it’s the easiest recipe ever and it just can’t go wrong. Unless you are me :(

I bought white whole wheat flour recently and thought this bread would be great to try it out on. I used all white whole wheat flour instead of the white flour called for in the recipe. All through the almost 24 hour process I kept thinking that it wasn’t going to turn out well. The whole time it never really looked like bread dough and remained a bit sticky. But I popped it in the oven anyway and kept my fingers crossed. When it came it out it looked okay, but when I cut in to it, it was stodgy inside. And the taste? Yuck! It went in the bin.

Determined to get this to work, I mixed up a second batch this time using only 1/3 white whole wheat flour and 2/3 white flour. I almost made it with all white flour, but at the last minute decided it was just too unhealthy and removed a cup of white flour from my bowl and added back a cup of white whole wheat flour!

This time it actually looked like bread dough throughout and I was a lot more optimistic! I underbaked it a bit because I was scared that it might burn. It came out really nice, but probably with a less crispy crust than if I had just left it in the oven for as long as I was supposed to!! Anyway, it was tasty and soft on the inside and with a crisp crust. And yummy!

I kind of like the kneading part of making bread, but this is definitely a great recipe if you want home baked bread, but don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen. I would like to give it another go and hopefully improve it again, but it won’t be today. It’s supposed to be 34C (94F) and I don’t fancy the oven on for an hour at 450F when I’m not allowed the windows open (because our building is getting water blasted before it gets painted later on in the week).

To eat alongside our bread I made some soup. It’s New England Clamless Chowder from Vegetarian Soups For All Seasons by Nava Atlas. It’s a creamy soup filled with potatoes and sweet corn with tofu instead of icky clams. As with Lesley’s Tofu Noodle soup (which is adapted from a Nava Atlas recipe) it calls for salt free seasoning and baked tofu which I didn’t have so I fried my tofu along with the same spices from the tofu noodle soup and it turned out so good. I also switched a third of the corn for edamame. It was really yummy and I would definitely make it again.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

I saw these Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies from VWAV on Midwest Vegan’s blog the other day and when I had a craving for something chocolatey I thought I would try them out. They taste a bit more like brownies than cookies and that leads to comparisons with Dreena’s utterly gorgeous fudgy brownies from Vive Le Vegan! And nothing that is remotely brownie-like will ever be as truly scrumptious as Dreena’s brownies!
Wee G was also disappointed. When he saw the he exclaimed that they looked like chocolate Jammie Dodgers! Yeah, but they don’t taste like them, sorry...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Eggless Omelette

I was never really in to eggs before I was vegan so they are not something I miss. But I wanted to try this Spanish Revolutionary Omelette with Saffron and Red Pepper-Almond Sauce from VWAV out of curiosity and because I love tofu.
In the recipe you are supposed to oven cook potatoes and onion in ¼ cup oil before putting them in the omelette, but I didn’t like the idea of all that oil, so I boiled my potatoes and cooked my onion with a little spray oil. Then you are supposed to add more oil to the tofu mixture and I forgot…oops! So my version is a lot less fattening which I am happy about, however I think the oil does help with the flavor and my omelette was a little bland. I did also half the salt in the recipe, but I always do that because I don’t like salty things. I don’t think it would pass for a “real” omelette, but I didn’t want it to taste like that anyway.

The sauce is really yummy and I did put a lot on my omelette to flavor it up a bit. It was sweet from the red peppers and sugar, while lemon juice added a little zing.
I ate some the next day and I definitely think the flavour had improved and I think that the saffron seemed more prominent. While I don’t think my omelette turned out great this time, I would like to make it again and add some extra veggies and spices/herbs.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Dinner For One

I might have mentioned before that Wee G can get lunch at work (paid for by the company) and sometimes he gets so much that he brings it home for dinner too. So, when that happens I take the opportunity to make myself something that he wouldn’t want. I came up with this pasta dish with courgettes (zucchini) as he’s not really in to courgettes.

It was so easy and really yummy. It was ready in the time it took to cook the pasta.
So, there I am sitting eating my pasta and Wee G is munching on his pizza (yes, he ordered a WHOLE pizza for lunch!) and he goes:
“That smells good, let me try it”
Grabs fork out my hand.
One mouthful goes in, “Mmmmm”
“You like it?” I ask, but he’s too busy shovelling in the second mouthful.
“Mmmmm” is all I get back.
When he’s on to the fourth mouthful I snatch the fork back, worried I might end up with no dinner.
And Wee G comes to the conclusion, “I don’t mind courgettes, y’know”. No kidding.

Here’s the recipe for one, but you could easily double for two, as I think I will be doing next time.

2 small courgettes (zucchini), sliced
6 cherry tomatoes
½ small avocado
1 small clove garlic
2 tsps lemon juice
2 tsps olive oil
Few basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup wholewheat pasta


Cook pasta as per packet instructions.
Meanwhile mix remaining ingredients apart from courgettes in a bowl.
Heat a frying pan over a medium high heat and coat with spray oil. Cook courgette slices for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown.
When pasta is done drain and return to pot. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Place over a low heat for a couple of minutes to heat through, stirring often. Serve.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Spag Bol

What do you cook when you need to go shopping and there’s barely a fresh veggie to be seen? In this house spag bol is the meal of choice in that situation. The only fresh veggies required are an onion and some mushrooms (and if things are really dire it can even be made without…I know, I’ve done it). We used to eat this all the time, but have been eating it less since November when I had a wee shopping spree on Amazon and got 6 vegan cookbooks and have been trying out new recipes ever since! But the other night we just fancied a bit of Spag Bol.

According to Wikipedia Italians tend to eat their Ragu alla Bolognese with tagliatelle rather than spaghetti and some sources suggest that Spaghetti Bolgnese is a rather un-Italian invention. As you can see I served my Bolognese with fusilli, but Fus Bol just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
My recipe has varied over the years, but the one below is what I stick with as Wee G and I love it.

Spag Bol (serves 2)

2 tsps Olive Oil
½ medium onion, diced
1 cup mushrooms
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 can tomatoes, diced finely
1½ cups soy mince (soy beef grounds)
½ tsp Tabasco Sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp raw sugar
2 tbsp tomato puree (paste)
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
½ cup water

Heat oil in large pan over medium high heat. Add onions and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Ad garlic and cook for further one minute. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with whole wheat pasta. Sprinlkle with nutritional yeast if you wish.

This sauce tastes great the next day and can also be used to top a baked potato. You can substitute lentils for the soy mince, if you prefer a less “meaty” tasting Bolognese.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Johnny Rockets and Vegan Factory

Over at the you can pick up a coupon for a free veggie burger at Johnny Rockets. We are always up for some free food, so on Saturday we printed off a voucher and headed over to our nearest Johnny Rockets. We have never been in before as I’ve always assumed that there would be little chance of getting anything remotely veggie friendly there. As it happens, their veggie burger and fries are vegan.

The restaurant we visited was tiny and the majority of the seats were at the u-shaped counter. Never having sat at a counter in a diner-type place we thought it was pretty cool…seems very American to us! We ordered our veggie burgers and within minutes we had fries in front of us and these cute plates of ketchup and mustard. Flowers for the girls and smiley faces for the boys. No mustard for the girls…seems a bit sexist to me :)
Not long after that our burgers arrived. They were Boca burgers in a white bun with mustard, tomato, grilled onions, pickle and iceberg lettuce. They were ok, just nothing special. The fries though were really good…straight from the fryer, hot and crispy. Not very healthy, but very tasty! I liked the service, the fries and the cute ketchup plates, but I don’t think I would go back because I could make a yummier veggie burger at home…with Vegenaise and a whole wheat bun…mmmm!

Then on Sunday we ordered takeout from Vegan Factory our favourite local vegan Thai restaurant. We got “fish” and chips to start. Chips twice in one weekend…we are so bad! They are so good though! Then for our mains I got Tofu Green Curry......and Wee G got Kung Pao “Chicken”. I love the food from this place and the service is great too.
Sorry, photos are not great. I took the photos at Johnny Rockets on my phone and the Vegan Factory ones were taken in a major hurry cos we were starving!!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Sultana Scones

I can’t remember what we were watching on tv recently, but we saw someone eating scones and Wee G bemoaned the fact that he had not eaten scones in ages. So I set about finding a recipe. Unfortunately I didn’t think to look at Vegan With A Vengeance like Brooke did when making her lovely scones the other day. I found a recipe here and changed it slightly to use oil instead of margarine and I also used half whole-wheat pastry flour. They came out nice, but I would have liked them a little lighter. With enough jam slathered on they were pretty decent! These should be served with a wee cup of tea for best results :)

Friday, March 2, 2007

Chickpea Broccoli Casserole

Chickpeas and broccoli are two of my favourite things . So put them together in the same dish and it’s sure to be a winner, right? Well, kind of :) I’ve flicked through Vegan With A Vengeance so many times and paused at this recipe and then decided that I’ll make it another day and moved on. I keep getting put off by the blurb before the recipe where Isa admits “it is a little bland”. Hmmm, that’s not really enticing me. Anyway, I saw it on Eat'n Veg'n and Don't Get Mad Get Vegan recently and it got mixed reviews so I thought I should just finally try it for myself.
When it came out of the oven it wasn’t the most appealing dish. I served it over quinoa with some greens in Mustard Tahini Sesame Sauce which I’m not sure was the best combination. When I put it in front of Wee G I was not greeted with a joyful face. It seemed kind of dry and stodgy, but I forgot to set the timer when I put it in the oven so I think it might have been a little overcooked. The first few bites I wasn’t too sure, but by the end of it I thought it was pretty yummy!! I suppose it’s the taste that matters so I will be making it again, and trying not to overcook it this time :)

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Far East Spicy Tofu and Green Beans

What could me more fun than testing recipes? Not much, that’s why when Melody at was looking for recipe testers I volunteered straight away! She is hoping to publish her own cookbook in the future, and if all the recipes are like this one then I expect she will do very well!

This is a simple to make, spicy dish that was filling and aromatic. We loved it and had it for dinner one night and then lunch too the next day. The only thing I will do differently next time is that we will probably have some other veggie in place of the green beans as Wee G isn’t too keen on them. Head over to to see Melody’s pic of this delicious dish.