Wrapped in Newspaper

Ethical lifestyle blog and vegan recipes


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Marking the seasons // elderberry flu remedy

There’s a suspicious tinge of orange on the leaves. The nights are drawing in. It would seem that Autumn is upon us.

It’s hard to put a finger on the start of Autumn, it’s one of those seasons that sneaks up on you. One minute you’re thinking about taking a jumper out in case it gets chilly in the evening, the next you’re trying to figure out where your thermals’ got to.

The appearance of ripe elderberries and sloes, or the first tinting of oak trees is traditionally used to mark the start of Autumn. I found these sloes ripe and ready for my sloe spelt cake recipe two weeks ago and as for the elderberries, well I was too late, they had already past their best.

Blackthorn

London’s microclimate can do some funny things but it has been found that, on average, native trees are producing ripe fruit 18 days earlier than a decade ago. Whilst this might be great news for the forager, for animals it may mean that their food reserves could become depleted earlier in the winter. One thing’s for sure, you won’t notice anything until you actually get out there and look.

Rose-bay-willow-herb

For my Dad, it’s not so much the start of Autumn but the end of Summer. He knows Summer’s on its way out when Rosebay Willowherb goes to seed.

For me Blackberrying marks the transition from Summer to Autumn and this year I was determined not to miss out on a bumper crop. I escaped the hustle and bustle of London and went out to the peaceful countryside of the Chilterns on a little foraging expedition and I was not disappointed.

Blackberries

Blackberries and apples

Sometimes nature is just telling what to eat. Blackberry and apple pie anyone?

Blackberrying

Those couple of degrees change in temperature really can make all the difference, as out in the countryside I found elderberries to be perfectly ripe. With an outbreak of colds at the moment brought on by the change of season, I knew exactly what I had in mind for those elusive elderberries that had evaded me only weeks before. Elderberry syrup.

It’s said that a small amount of elderberry syrup taken daily can immunise you against the flu. It’s quick and easy to make and you can freeze it in ice cube trays so they’re ready and waiting for whenever the flu strikes.

Elderberries

Elderberry-stalks

Elderberry-flu-remedy

Elderberry Flu Remedy

Elderberries
Slice of lemon
Thumb size piece of ginger

  • Pick the elderberries on a dry, sunny day as that’s when they’ll be at their sweetest.
  • Remove the stalks and wash them.
  • Put them in a saucepan and just cover them with water. Bring them to the boil and simmer for around half an hour or until soft.
  • Strain them through a sieve, to remove the seeds and the skins.
  • Place back on the heat and simmer gently to reduce the liquid down.
  • Leave to cool and place in ice cube trays, freeze until flu season is upon us.
  • Place one elderberry ice cube in a cup with a slice of lemon. Grate the ginger and squeeze out the juice between your fingers into the cup.
  • Pour in freshly boiled water and stir.
  • Drink this delicious warming drink when flu is going round to keep it at bay.

Amy x


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Spanish inspired bean stew and patatas bravas

I’m counting down. Counting down until I go on holiday, a much-needed holiday I can tell you. We are travelling around Italy for two weeks and I for one can’t wait! I hate going on about being busy, but I have been. Busy with a new job, busy training for a half marathon, busy trying my best to grown some veg, and busy writing blog posts. I know i’ve neglected relationships whilst I have been going through this hectic period and I’m planning on balancing my time a little better when I get home.

One of the vegetables I have been growing for the first time this year is the humble potato and boy oh boy, what a treat they are! Before you put the seed potatoes in the ground you need to allow them to “chit” which means leaving them in a sunny spot and waiting for them to start sprouting. When it came to planting, I put mine in rows and then mounded the soil up over them, they then pretty much sorted themselves out. The leaves started growing, they developed some really pretty, delicate flowers and then they started dying back and the leaves started yellowing – it is at this point that they were ready to dig up! There is something quite exciting about digging up one plant and seeing the numerous golden nuggets that have formed, all from that one sprouted seed potato!

So, what to do with all the potatoes? I’m feeling in the holiday vibe so I got all Spanish inspired with this delicious dinner.

Patatas Bravas

Bean stew

Spanish bean stew and patatas bravas

Spanish vegan food

Bean Stew and Patatas Bravas
Serves 4

For the stew:

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tspn paprika
2 tspn smoked paprika
1 onion
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
1 tin of butter beans
1 tin of kidney beans
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
A red pepper
A tspn of dried chillies
500ml of veg stock

For the potatoes:

1 tbsp coconut oil
8-10 potatoes
2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 cloves of garlic

1) Heat the oven to 180C.
2) In a large tray put the coconut oil and place in the oven to melt.
3) In a large pan melt some more coconut oil on a medium heat for the stew. Add the chopped onions and sauté down for 5 minutes until soft.
4) Pull out the tray from the oven and place the chopped potatoes, sprinkle with the smoked paprika and throw in the cloves of  garlic. Put in the oven for 30 minutes making sure to stir them around every once in awhile.
5) Back in the pan, add both paprikas and stir through the onions, add the crushed garlic and cook for a minute. Add the beans, chopped pepper, tomatoes, and stock.
6) Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Add some chilli flakes and stir through, season with salt and pepper.
7) Get your potatoes out of the oven and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

I just put the dishes on the table and everyone helped themselves. Some red wine wouldn’t go wrong here too!

Enjoy!

Veronica x

 


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The bees of Eden

This August I cycled across the Devon countryside and into Cornwall to visit the Eden Project. I’d been meaning to visit for years and despite the challenging psychological battle with the hills, I’m very glad I did. Never before had I seen so many species of bee alongside each other in such numbers as in the gardens of Eden. It truly was Eden for the bees!

The Eden Project

 

The biomes, which house all sorts of amazing plants, were impressive but far more exciting for me were the outdoor displays because of the huge abundance of bees. They were everywhere enjoying the nectary delights of the herbs, wildflowers, heathlands, ornamentals, vegetables, textile and medicinal plants, bringing the displays to life with their dancing from plant to plant.

Bumbles on Lavender

Bumblebees on Lavender [Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso']

The part of the Eden garden that offered the greatest bee spectacle was a vast patch of lavender absolutely packed full of bees. I had never seen so many bumblebees in one place before and as I stood to watch, I counted 5 different species of bumble alongside honeybees who were also getting in on the action. There were 10-15 bees on each lavender plant at any one time so there must have been thousands in the entire patch. The plants were swaying with all the black fuzzy beings nipping across it from one plant to another supping delicious nectar as they went. Beeautiful!

Bees on garlic

Yellow-Legged Mining Solitary Bee [Andrena Flavipes] on flowering garlic

Another charming bee moment was in the vegetable garden with the flowering garlic. Honeybees and solitary bees were all over the flowerheads, taking their time crawling slowly over the surface meticulously inspecting each tiny flower on their way. The bee captured in the photo above is a Yellow-Legged Mining Bee, one of the most common solitary bees in the South of England and that’s a honeybee in mid flight beyond. The Eden veg plot was letting a lot of their veggie plants go to flower, which is a great way to attract the bees into your garden!

Hives at Eden

Honeybee hives at Eden

Sometimes people talk about different species of bee competing for food, the theory being that if you introduce honeybee hives, you are starving bumblebees of forage. At the Eden Project they have these colourful hives packed full of honeybees who were all over the gardens happily foraging alongside the bumbles and others. I’m inclined to think that if you have a good level of plant diversity that there is more than enough to go round for everybee. It certainly felt like the case at Eden where there were plants like this Pineapple sage feeding honeybees and bumblebees simultaneously.

Honeybee

Honeybee on Pineapple Sage [Salvia elegans ‘Honey Melon’]

Common Carder Bumblebee

Common Carder Bumblebee [Bombus pascuorum] on the same Pineapple Sage

The Eden Project is one of the best examples for biodiversity I’ve seen. The huge variety of plants, many of which are favorites to many species of pollinators including bees created a spectacle for anyone visiting … especially bee lovers. They even have a bee sculpture paying homage to the little beauties : )

Bombus sculpture

Bombus sculpture

So why is biodiversity so important for bees and us humans? A diverse mix of plant species growing alongside each other has existed naturally for a millions of years and the bees evolved alongside this, adapting their specialised and intimate relationship with the many different species of plants along the way. Bees need this variety of food and a balanced diet to have healthy immune systems just like we do in our diet.

Honeybee in geranium

Honeybee on Geraniums

We have been warned for decades that the fall in global biodiversity is in danger of reaching a point of no return and the decline in our bee population is a very visible measure and stark warning of this. A study carried out by the charity Buglife in Cornwall (where the Eden Project is based) showed that in the last 50 years the area has already lost 8 species of bee.

Brown Banded Carder Bumblebee

Common carder bumblebee on ornamental flowers

IMG_3907

White tailed bumblebee [Bombus lucorum]

honeybee approaching

Honeybee approaching!

The more I learn about bees, plants and climate change the more I realise how vitally important biodiversity is for human survival. Healthy ecosystems are equipped to resist and recover from a variety of disasters but monocultures are wiped out very easily.

Plastic bottle bee

Bee sculpture made from plastic waste

The Eden Project is a fantastic example of how people can turn things around by supporting our bee populations and re-building healthy ecosystems. The Eden site was an abandoned quarry but has been transformed into a place buzzing with biodiversity and is an amazing educational base inspiring people to strive for a greener life.

Eden Quotes

So do have a trip to the Eden project, experience how distractingly beautiful and full of bees a biodiverse world could be and get planting some Lavender : )


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Sloe spelt cake

When you eat the seasons you can’t help but rejoice when you reach that time of year when there is food a plenty. Late summer is such an amazing time for food, there are an abundance of vegetables around and at last there’s plenty of fruit to be found. And I don’t mean in the supermarket!

Sloe-berries

Wander outside and keep your eyes peeled in hedgerows and parks. There’s berries galore to be found and this year there is a bountiful crop of sloes to be found!  The hot start to summer followed by a whole load of rain has left the blackthorn bushes dripping with sloes. You’ve endured the rain so you may as well enjoy its fruits.

Sloe-spelt-cake

I know that sloes are synonymous with gin but I have a love for spelt cake right now and I think a little sloe compote makes the perfect accompaniment.

Vegan-spelt-flour-cake

The cake is made with spelt flour, ground almonds, coconut oil and a little xylitol sugar. I won’t pretend its like a Victoria sponge, because its not. But what it is, is healthy, tasty and filling. The high sugar content in ordinary cakes combined with lots of fat and innutritious white flour will give you a sweet fix but won’t leave you satisfied. There’s just nothing in there to nourish you and make you feel full so you keep on wanting more. This spelt cake however will leave you feeling great. Spelt is a whole-food unlike wheat which means it retains all its nutrients which can be easily absorbed by your body due to its high water solubility. See, you really can have your cake and eat it.

Spelt-and-almond-cake

I will let you in on a secret, I was actually going for a slightly marbled cake, using the sloe compote but I didn’t quite put enough in. To get a more marbled effect don’t over stir the compote into the cake batter but also be careful not to add too much as your cake might not come out in one piece.

Spelt-cake-with-sloe-berry-compote

Vegan-sloe-spelt-cake

Sloe spelt cake

125g spelt flour
100g ground almonds
75g xylitol sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
200ml almond milk
80g coconut oil
1/2 tsp almond essence

For the compote:
150g sloe berries
2 tbsp xylitol sugar

  • Start off by greasing a 8″ cake tin and lining the base with baking paper. Pre-heat your oven to 180C.
  • If you’re coconut oil is solid, place it in an ovenproof dish for a few minutes when preheating your oven to melt it.
  • Weigh out all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stir through and set aside.
  • Wash the sloes and remove any stalks. Place them into a saucepan and just cover them with water, bring them to the boil then simmer on a low heat.
  • Once they start to break up, drain off the water and rub the fruit through a sieve into a clean pan.
  • Return to the heat and add 1tbsp of xylitol sugar and stir until dissolved then remove from the heat.
  • Return to your cake mixture and stir in the almond milk and coconut oil.
  • Promptly pour half the mixture into the cake tin as the batter will quickly start to thicken.
  • Spoon in a few tablespoons of the compote, lightly swirl into the batter before pouring the remaining batter on top.
  • Be careful, unlike me, not to let the compote go to the edge of your cake as you will end up with blackened edges to your cake, like I did.
  • Bake at 180C for 40 -45 mins until a knife pushed into the cake comes out clean.
  • Carefully turn the cake out onto a wire rack and cool.
  • Serve with the remaining compote.

Happy foraging. Happy caking.

Amy x


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Super easy summer curry

I’ve been asked several times, well actually about a thousand times what I actually eat and I often find it hard to answer without sounding like I eat nothing but nuts and dust! I eat lots of exciting different things, but put me on the spot and all I can think of is oatcakes and almonds, sounds pretty dry! This doesn’t look boring though does it?

vegan curry

I eat lots of yummy things – honestly! One of my favourite things that I eat for dinner is curry. It REALLY is simple to make and you just let it cook away with whatever is in season and in your fridge. To be fair though I didn’t know how to start making a curry from scratch until a couple of years ago, I just thought you opened the jar or called the local takeaway! I mean it all seemed a little complicated, when the list of ingredients is super long, and talk of making a curry paste and you know you have quite a few ingredients missing! No wonder it seems simpler to reach for the “oh hello takeaway menu” option! Fear not this one is for you!

So, here is a simple curry that gets you started on your making your own curry adventure. In my humble opinion when making one there are a few key spices that you need, one being Cumin and  the other Ground Coriander. I like to always add Turmeric because it is super good for you and makes the dish an awesome colour, but be warned it stains! So, those are the three spices you need here, no long list required!

With these perfect Petty Pan summer squashes and still a shed load of courgettes to get through, a summery squash curry fits perfectly on a chilly August evening!

Patty pan squash

I’m being deliberately vague with how many extra vegetables to add in, as it depends firstly on what you have to hand  – I had mushrooms and some broccoli, and secondly how many there are of you eating. You can use any vegetables!

Summer curry

Summer curry

A spoonful of coconut oil or regular oil
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp turmeric
A thumb size piece of grated ginger
A couple of spring onions
1 chilli (unless you don’t like heat)
A tin of coconut milk
A couple of courgettes
3 petty pan squash
A handful of mushrooms
Broccoli
Salt and pepper
A bunch of fresh coriander

1) In a large pan melt your coconut oil and add your cumin, ground coriander and turmeric to cook for a minute. The trick here is to not let them burn, so it is best to not be on too high a heat.
2) Add the onions, ginger and chilli and coat in the spices.
3) Add in the rest of the vegetables and stir.
4) Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Turn it down to simmer gently for half an hour or so.
5) I cooked up some brown rice so it is good to get that on at the beginning because it takes about 30 minutes to cook.
6) When ready to serve mix through some chopped coriander and plate up!

You will be licking the plates with this one!

Don’t be intimidated by cooking from scratch it just takes a little planning and then gradually you will get the confidence to start adding some more spices and experimenting.

Happy cooking!

Veronica x

 


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What’s in your make-up?

IMG_1230

The funny thing about writing blog posts is that they rarely turn out how you planned. From the initial concept, to creating it and then typing it up, all sorts of things can happen that will change the outcome.

When I first thought about setting this blog up about a year ago, this was one of the first posts I had in mind. Having been vegan for a couple of months it wasn’t really figuring out what to eat that was challenging, it was figuring out what make-up and toiletries I could buy.

I had a whole host of products that as they ran out I had to replace with cruelty-free alternatives. It all seemed a bit daunting! I was happy to shake up my diet and found it exciting to think of new recipes and discover different foods but I wasn’t that happy about changing my skin-care routine. I mean I had all these products that I’ve been told I NEED for healthy skin. I didn’t want to suddenly start changing them, what if my skin reacted and flared up?! What if, what it… change… argh!

One year on, I finally feel ready to write this blog post, although it is not quite the guide to vegan skin care I had initially envisaged. I have now completely changed my skin-care routine and I can honestly say I feel great about it!

What I’ve realised, funnily enough, is that I really don’t need all those products that glossy magazine are telling me are must haves! First of all I have stopped reading glossy magazines altogether. Once you remove unrealistic and unattainable “beauty” from your life, you really feel a lot better about yourself!

Secondly I realised that my skin has been evolving for millions of years, a bottle full of chemicals isn’t going to suddenly transform how my skin works. In fact all the exposure to synthetic “skin purifying” lotions is going to do is increase my chances of getting cancer.

Thirdly and finally I’ve realised how harmful and wasteful the cosmetics industry is, all the synthetics and chemicals are bad for your skin and bad for the environment. Animals suffer needlessly at the mercy of our of pursuit of beauty and landfills continue to fill up with the insane amounts of packaging. So why oh why am I a part of this ‘beauty’ system?

Over the course of a year I have just about managed to free myself from this system.  I now barely wear any make-up and have significantly cut down on the amount of different products I use. So here is my guide to natural, ethical beauty that follows three simple rules.

Natural, vegan beauty

1. Natural ingredients (no parabens or nasty things)
2. Cruelty free (no testing on animals and no animal products)
3. Minimal / recyclable packaging

Face

One of the main changes to my skin-care routine is that I no longer have use a face wash or cleanser. After battling with acne I realised that stripping my face of its natural oils certainly wasn’t helping things. Now I simply use hot water and a flannel to wash my face morning and night. I use apple cider vinegar as a toner to help control breakouts and around once a week I use my homemade face scrub.

1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Mix together and rub gently over your face, rinse off with warm water, then finish by pressing a warm flannel over your face to remove the coconut oil. I use any leftovers as a foot scrub, why not!

IMG_1227

Make-up

My make-up bag is now pretty empty, I now mainly use just a little eye-shadow and mascara. Neal’s yard have a great range of organic, paraben free, vegan make-up. I also use a little foundation every now and then, unfortunately this Lush one does contain parabens but it is vegan and has a recyclable glass container, so 2 down, 1 to go there.

IMG_1228

Skin care

I have recently started using a solid deodorant from Lush. Having tried many aluminium, paraben-free deodorants over the years, finally, I can say I have found one that works! I use organic coconut oil as a make-up remover, simply rub is gently over your eye lashes then wash off with warm water. Turns out our skin is pretty good at taking care of itself if you keep hydrated and eat well but I occasionally use a little raw shea butter or coconut oil as a moisturiser. One ‘product’ I do still use is suncream, this one from Jason is vegan, oil-Free, hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and comes in recyclable packaging.

IMG_1226

Bath & Shower

All these beauties come from Lush in nothing more than a paper bag. The soap, shampoo and conditioner are all solid bars, they contain no preservatives and are vegan!

IMG_1229

Teeth

Natural toothpaste and mouthwash are easy enough to find at your local health food shop. I really like the Kingfisher toothpastes although the tube isn’t recyclable so I’ve still got some work to do there. The Sarakan mouthwash is great and ticks all the natural, vegan and packaging boxes.

I may have set out on this journey to find like for like replacements for my mountain of products but what I discovered has been much better than I had envisaged. Not only are animals no longer suffering for my skincare routine but I have minimised the use of chemicals on my skin and subsequently on the environment and I am creating minimal waste.

The one, very important thing I have not mentioned is diet and the how that affects our skin, nails and hair. It is of course the most important thing of all and something I’m STILL working on. So in the meantime I’d strongly recommend watching Hungry for Change for inspiration.

Enjoy your natural, beautiful self!

Amy x


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Courgette Cake (refined sugar-free)

Summer has to be my favourite time of the year. I mean I’m a big fan of all the seasons really, but there is something about these long light evenings, walking around with bare feet and there being no need to worry about how many layers you need to wear to stay warm….just what to wear when it pours with rain (ah British summers!) I’ve been on the road this week with work and eating away from home as a vegan, and as sugar free as possible is hard! I couldn’t wait to get home for some home cooking and some naturally sweet treats that keep my tummy feeling good.

I’ve been taking some of these and this to work but wanted to come up with something slightly different. We are currently in the midst of courgette season, if you are experiencing a courgette glut (the courgette plant – a plant that keeps on giving) then you will no doubt become a little tiresome of thinking up different ways to cook them!

So a naturally sweet treat that uses up some of those courgettes and it is super easy too……

courgette cake

courgette cake

 

courgette cake

courgette cake

 Courgette Cake

350g grated courgette
1 banana
2 tbsp flax seed egg(add 3 tbsp of water)
80g chopped dates
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tspn vanilla extract
300g spelt flour
2 tspn cinnamon
1 tspn ground ginger
1/2 tspn mixed spice
120g sultanas
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn bicarbonate powder
80g chopped walnuts

1) Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
2) Mash the banana and in a large bowl add the flax seed egg, dates, vanilla extract, courgette and coconut oil and mix together to form a big slop.
3) In another bowl combine all the dry ingredients, flour, spices, bicarb and baking powder, walnuts and sultanas, when mixed together add to the wet ingredients.
4) Throughly mix together.
5) Line a loaf tin or grease lightly with oil. Spoon the mixture in a spread evenly.
6) Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

This cake taste lovely when it is still warm or pop it in some tupperware and it will make a perfect eleven o’clock snack at work!

Enjoy cake time!

Veronica x


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Rainbow chard abundance // Cauliflower base pizza

Living in a flat I don’t exactly get the chance to grow and harvest my own food. Even my window sill gardening has come to an abrupt end after that outbreak of flies! So I couldn’t wait to get out of London and head to a pick your own farm with Veronica, and this weekend I finally got the chance.

chard growing

There’s something about harvesting your own food that makes it taste better. And nothing beats eating a sneaky just-picked strawberry. We headed straight to the soft fruits and found some amazing redcurrants that seemed to glow in the sunlight. The strawberries however had pretty much come to an end and the raspberries weren’t quiet ready. The vegetables, well they were in full swing!

rainbow chard

The beans and peas were plentiful but nothing compared to the aptly named rainbow chard. Abundance doesn’t even describe it. It was a bit like being a kid in a sweet shop, so many exciting colours, which one to pick next?

I hadn’t even planned on harvesting any chard as I often get it in my veg bag and its not a particular favourite of mine but when I saw it all growing, I couldn’t resist.

Rainbow chard stems

So what to do with all this chard? I decided on wilting it down with some onion and garlic to get that deep, rich irony flavour. I quite fancied rolling it all up in a crepe but having still not mastered the vegan crepe I opted for topping a pizza with it.

With cauliflowers back in season I thought I’d share a cauliflower pizza base recipe. If you don’t have a cauliflower to hand you can always use Veronica’s spelt flour base.

IMG_1176 IMG_1175

Rainbow chard pizza with a cauliflower base

For the base:

1 cauliflower
100g brown rice flour
2 tbsp flax seed
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
large pinch of  za’atar (or dried herbs)
salt and pepper

For the topping:

1 tbsp tomato puree
1 green onion
2 cloves garlic
Large bunch of rainbow chard
Nutmeg
Rapeseed oil
Mushrooms
1/2 block of tofu

  • Start off by making the base. Grind the flax seeds to a fine powder and whisk together with 2 tbsp water until it starts to thicken, then set aside.
  • Roughly chop up the cauliflower and place the florets into a food processor and blend until the become fine breadcrumbs.
  • Place the ground cauliflower into a large piece of muslin and squeeze out the water from the cauliflower.
  • Measure out the rice flour in a large mixing bowl and add the cauliflower, nutritional yeast, za’atar, salt and pepper and mix together.
  • Give the flax seed mixture another whisk and pour into the cauliflower mix and combine with your hands.
  • Add in 2 tbsp of water bring the mixture together to form a dough like ball.
  • Place the dough in a pizza tray lined with baking paper and flatten out using your hands to about 1/2 cm thick.
  • Bake in a pre-heat oven for about half an hour until golden brown. After 15 mins take the base out of the oven and place another sheet of baking paper on top of the base and another tray or large flat plate. Very carefully flip the base over and transfer back onto the pizza tray. Bake for the remaining 15 mins.
  • Whilst the base is cooking, prepare the topping. Finely slice the onions and fry off in a frying pan in some olive oil until they start to brown and caramelise.
  • Add in the crushed garlic cloves and the finely chopped chard stems. Cook for 5 mins until the stems start to soften.
  • Add in the finely shredded chard leaves and cook until they most of the water is cooked out.
  • Grate in some nutmeg and season to taste.
  • Whilst the chard is cooking, finely slice the mushrooms and break the tofu up in a bowl using a fork.
  • Remove the cooked base from the oven and spread 1 tbsp of tomato puree over the base.
  • Spoon on the cooked chard mixture and spread out evenly.
  • Sprinkle on the tofu, scatter the sliced mushrooms and season again before putting back in the oven for around 10 mins.
  • Remove from the oven and carefully slice and serve the pizza. The cauliflower base isn’t as robust as a bread base but if you have this in mind and handle it carefully it will hold together nicely.

Amy x


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Update from the allotment

Flowering potatoes

 

Potatoes

I may be a bit behind in terms of where things are in their growth development, but i’m slowly getting somewhere this summer. I have found it pretty tricky this year, what with the weather and mega slug problem and things haven’t gone as simply as they did last year, I’m told that I’m not the only one having problems though. But I have got to a point where the potatoes, broad beans, runner beans and tomatoes are flowering and I’ve even spotted some tiny tiny tomatoes – hooray! I may get to eat some vegetables after all this hard work!

Flowering broad beans

These were my second batch of broad beans after the first lot were obliterated by the plague of slugs that I had gone into battle with. I have lost count of how many runner bean plants I have lost to the little blighters, and I’m still growing some more in the hope that I will get a decent harvest.

afterlight-7

My Rhubarb plant is flourishing and growing brand new leaves! (Ignore the weeds)

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

 

I love to wear sensible gardening shoes!!

My onions are starting to look the size of onions and i’m going to have to start thinking about when to pul these beauts from the ground and start drying them out.

Red onions

I had a mini allotment breakdown a couple of weeks ago when things were not going my way, I couldn’t see any fruits of my labour and all I seemed to be doing was pulling out eaten bean stalks and had nothing to see for my efforts. I came home telling everyone that I hated it and that I quit! Apparently this is a normal phase to go through and I have managed to come through the dark allotment days! I usually go up there on my way home from work and spend a bit of time watering my crops and finding that little bit of peace and tranquility usually after a manic day at work – nothing can really beat it! It definitely makes me appreciate where my food comes from, when I eventually get to eat some beans or tomatoes I will savour every mouthful knowing that I put my blood, sweat and tears into that bite and having the satisfaction that I stuck with it, you can’t get that when you buy your veg at the supermarket that have  been flown in from who knows where can you?

Also, check out this beautiful wild flower garden that grows on someone else’s patch – I absolutely love it!

Wild flowers

Happy growing your own!

Veronica x


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Vegan in training (porridge addict)

It seems that both Veronica and I have jumped on the exercise band wagon and run with it, or in my case cycled alongside it. We’re feeling pumped and energised from eating well – keeping fit and being vegan is definitely part of that story.

cycling in yorkshire

It’s one of those key lines I always hear from people when they find out I’m vegan; “I don’t think I could get enough protein being a vegan” or “I have quite an active lifestyle and I just don’t think I would be able to eat enough if I went vegan”. Well as usual, we’re here to smash this vegan myth.

A few weeks ago Veronica completed her first half marathon and in the very respectable time of 2 hours 13 minutes. Now its my turn to step up and next week I’ll be cycling my first ever 100km ride. I’m cycling it as part of the Women’s 100 where over 5000 women all over the world will all cycle 100km on the same day. Talk about a bit of inspiration to keep me going.

So how on earth can a vegan fuel their way round those 100km, burning around 1600 calories?

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On the day of the ride, my eating will focus on three things, protein, slow release carbs and sugar, sugar lots of sugar. I’m cutting out refined sugar as much as possible theses days so I rely on dried fruits with a high sugar content like figs and mango to keep my going and fuel me up the hills.

cycling snacks

snacks for cycling

I’ll start of the day with a massive bowl of porridge made with soya milk and either berries or banana. I always top my porridge with seeds for that extra protein hit and some raw cacao for that extra bit of crunch. I honestly swear by porridge, the slow releasing oats, the protein from the soya milk and extra seeds combined with a bit of a sugar hit is exactly what I need on the day of a big ride. I’ll then continue to snack during my ride on dried fruits, the odd banana and of course my best friend, homemade energy bars. Of course I’ll be drinking plenty of water along the way and once I’ve completed the ride I will no doubt be eating a massive portion of anything I can find, keep an eye out on instagram for my post 100km meal!

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So wish me luck for the big day and enjoy this delicious bowl of blackcurrant and raspberry porridge.

blackcurrant porridge

Blackcurrant and raspberry vegan porridge

Serves 2

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup soya milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup blackcurrants
1/4 cup raspberries
Seeds for spinkling, hemp, sunflower and pumpkin
Raw cacao nibs

Combine the oats, milk and water in a saucepan and heat over a low/medium heat.
Add in the fruit (I always freeze mine so I can enjoy it all year round) and gently bring the pan to a simmer.
Keep stirring to make a nice and creamy consistency and the fruit begins to break up.
Serve and sprinkle with protein rich seeds and some raw cacao nibs.

Amy x

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