Friday, 17 January 2014

African Mung Bean Stew

African Mung Bean Stew Title

I have a habit of going into the supermarket, and coming out with something completely obscure that I have no idea of what to do with.

Mung Beans.

Prime example.

I ended up with a 2kg bag of Mung Beans just chilling out in my pantry. What on earth do you do with mung beans?! at the end of the day, they're mung beans!

The other day, however, I stumbled across this post by the lovely, talented Janet on the taste space. (Toronto, somewhere I would seriously LOVE to go. . .but that's for another time!) I posted the recipe to my google+ (something that still bemuses me, I never really got into it, but again, I'm going off topic) with the intention to perhaps try it some time. It couldn't wait. The mung beans were calling my name!

With a bit of tweaking, I sort of superimposed Janet's recipe with one I made at school over 10 years ago. My teacher, Mrs Rogers (she was one of those teachers, you know, who absolutely love you because you are interested in what she was saying) called it African Curry, so I've renamed my version African Mung Bean Stew, but again as with my Mexican Sweetcorn Chowder, my geography is probably a little off! shall we use the word inspired?!

Hope you enjoy!

(the perfect recipe for the end of the week when your veg start to go a little soggy!)

(The veg as the begin to fry off)

(Spice Mix! - the best smell will start to come from your kitchen!)

(Nearly There, ready to go simmer and do it's thing now!)

(letting the spinach just wilt, cooking it too long makes it soggy!)



1 tbsp Coconut Oil (See Note)
1/2 White Onion
1/2 Yellow Pepper
1 Jalapeño
1 large Potato
2/3 cup Mung beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups of Stock

1 tsp Chilli powder
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp Ginger Powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric

2 cloves Garlic
1 Tomato
1 handful Spinach
1 tbsp Chia Seeds (See Notes)
Truffle Balsamic (See Notes)

1. Dice the Onion, Pepper, Potato and Jalapeño.
2. Gently heat the Coconut Oil in a Medium Saucepan and sautee the Onion, Pepper and Jalapeño until soft, and the Onion is translucent.
3. Stir in the Potato and Mung Beans, cook for 1 minute.
4. Stir in all of the spices, being careful not to let the garlic catch and burn.
5. Add the Stock and bring to the boil. Once the mixture has reached the boil place a lid on the pan and put in the oven at 220°C for approximately 50 minutes (See Notes).
6. After 50 minutes, remove from the oven and stir in the diced tomato, spinach and Chia Seeds. Allow the spinach to wilt for 10 minutes then add a few drops (1/4 - 1/2 tsp) of Truffle Balsamic.
7. Serve with Peas and freshly baked bread!



Chia Seeds: I included Chia seeds, because, well, they are magic! I know not everyone likes them, nor has access to them, but I had them sitting next to the stove top as I was cooking, so naturally they are going to get thrown in, oais?! I'm not sure they added anything whatsoever to this dish, so leave them out if you wish!

Truffle Balsamic: As with the Chia, this was next to the stove, but I really think this added a lot to the dish, I love Balsamic (and vinegar in general, just not on chips!) to death, I'm not sure you'd miss it if you left it out, so feel free to do so. However if you wanted to see what it does for the recipe I'm positive any kind of Balsamic would do seeing as we are only adding the tiniest drops.

I've found that this recipe is best done by bringing the mixture to the boil, and then transferring to the oven to do the most of the cooking time, however I realise this requires an oven-proof pan, if you don't own one, don't worry, just bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce to a steady simmer, place the lid on the pan and leave to cook on the stove top for the allotted time.


Coconut Oil: Really the Coconut Oil was only used to sautee and soften the Onion, Pepper and Jalapeño so it could be any oil of your choice. Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil, or Vegetable Oil would all work really well. 

   Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.


Thursday, 16 January 2014

Chatter: Instagrammers who Inspire #1

Happy Thursday everyone!

I know Thursdays, well for me anyway, can be a bit of a drag. It's not quite the weekend.

I'm not sure how everyone else operates, but I know that I often find myself gravitating toward Instagram when I'm in need of some Inspiration. When I'm in a bit of a lull, knowing that other people are out there having fun, inspires me to do it myself!

Anyway, I do follow a fair (read: a LOT) few Instagram accounts that are based around mainly Vegan lifestyles, and I thought it would be nice to share with y'all some of my favourites! I love them for different reasons, but I love scrolling through their images - it fills my head with all sorts of ideas!

#1: @Semivegan

 If you want to see gorgeously composed pictures of yummy looking food, this is definitely the page to check out. Nearly every post is of something I didn't know I was craving until I'd seen it! Prime example here of this "acai bowl topped with pomegranate seeds, blackberries, and blueberries." how gorgeously colourful does it look?! yum!

#2: @Collegiatevegan

 I love looking through this account, two college students (Jen & Aus) eating healthily on a college student budget! kudos, because I think when I was at University I lived on bacon sandwiches (no comments needed. blegh!) and cider! So I have a lot of respect for them, and they are well on their way to developing a lifestyle which I think, personally, is one where you can get the most out of what you are given. I also wish them the best of luck with their studies!!

#3: @Healthtyfoodbylara

 Another crazy inspiring account, this beautiful lady lets you see her progress on her personal journey to fitness. Plus she gets mega points for not just posting selfie's all the time, but she shares all aspects. (not that there is anything wrong with the odd selfie!)

#4: @effortlyss

 OK, so not a predominantly vegan account, but I absolutely love the mentality of this lady. Alyssa, from New York (I know this because I follow her blog!!) has the best mindset, and if you read her story here, you will understand why. She's so positive, and yet again a source of endless inspiration for me.

I really just wanted to share this with you because I honestly think that in this day an age, there is nothing like the power of social media. If you think about it I could write something right now, and within seconds it could be being read in Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Prague or all three at once. Never before in history was that attainable. It can have it's bad side, but the good that it can do is amazing. If I could inspire just one person I would feel like I was achieving something.

And these five, well I want to thank them for inspiring me. 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Basics : Vegan Mayonnaise.


OK, so I debated with myself for quite some time whether or not I should actually post this recipe! It's something I use quite a lot, but it doesn't really taste of much.

It's something that comes in uber handy, yet is compiled of predominantly two ingredients smushed together.

I didn't really want to insult your intelligence by posting it, but you know, even if it's just on record here it is. There are many different versions of this flying around, but I thought I'd add mine into the mix!

Sometimes, try as I might, I cannot do without condiments! I will be the first person to tell you exactly how much sugar is in Tomato Ketchup, or how much fat is in Mayonnaise, but you sometimes just need something!

Try French Fries without any sauce! It's wrong! It doesn't work!

We had Burrito's the other evening, and where a burrito made with meat would be more moist(?!), when it's made with beans and rice. . . not so much! This sauce worked really well. I'm calling it a mayonnaise, and I've seen dozens of incarnations of this recipe with different quantities of the ingredients, some adding extras, some not, which name it a mayonnaise. However if you have ever really tasted traditional mayonnaise, you can't quite put your finger on what exactly makes it so mayonnaise-y! It's slightly salty, but I really think that it is the texture which makes it so distinct. Sadly it's a texture which is quite difficult to replicate. I can't promise that this is the most flavour-full condiment ever, but I do find it really useful. As I mentioned I used it in Burrito assembly, I used it to make a coleslaw, I even used it to make a simple dip for carrot sticks by adding some chilli flakes, a tad agave, a pinch of chilli powder and some chilli paste. I think Harissa paste added would make a brilliant sauce.

(Unpressed Tofu, cut into cubes, ready to be obliterated!)

Basically what I'm trying to communicate, in my own, very special way, is that I wouldn't eat this on it's own, as it can be a bit bland, but I use it on loads of different things, which is what it is for, in my mind.


I hope everyone has had a great weekend and is ready for all of the fun and games which begin on Monday mornings. (I apologise) Remember, every week is a new one, "No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again" - Buddha

Wishing everyone love and light.


Olive Oil (See Notes)
Tofu (See Notes)
water (See Notes)

1. Drain the Tofu, and slice into small (1 inch-ish) cubes.
2. Place into a blender, (See Notes) with the Olive Oil and water.
3. Blend until smooth! Season with Salt if desired. (I like to add approx 1tsp per cup)

The blender I used was of a "magic bullet" style as I find it the perfect size for small projects like this, and I do not require the full power of a larger machine!
I haven't specified quantities for this recipe as it is completely subjective. However I find for every cup full of Tofu, unpressed, 2tbsp of Oil, and 1tbsp of Water is about right, however if this is not smooth enough, or liquid enough just add more water!

I specifically did not press the Tofu before I used it, but I did make sure that it was fully drained and rinsed before I began cutting it. 


Olive Oil - I don't usually like to use Olive Oil, it's just not my favourite ingredient! However I do think it works best in this recipe, and other oils probably wouldn't work as well. Sesame Oil would most certainly be too overpowering, for a mayonnaise, but if you were to adapt this recipe into another form of salad dressing, then it could be used. One of my favourite all time flavours is garlic! A couple of months ago, I made some of my own garlic oil and some chilli oil as well. I used some of the garlic oil in a batch of mayonnaise, which gave it almost an Alliolli-like taste. Allioli is something my family have traditionally had for. . .ever! I was never entirely sure what the difference between Allioli and Garlic Mayonnaise was, however as my brother has intelligently informed me, "where we make Allioli by smashing the garlic with the oil and then adding to the egg and oil, Garlic Mayonnaise is made by emulsifying the oil and egg, then stirring in garlic" Allioli is generally mellower in taste than Garlic Mayo and I find it much nicer. Less Kabab and more Seafood on the beach! I do have plans to try the Chilli Oil, which I have yet to try. I have high hopes though!

   Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Basics : Coconut Butter - With Vanilla.

Coconut Butter with Vanilla Title

Hia everyone, I hope everyone's week is going well!

I've been thinking about this for quite a while. Nut Butters are so useful when baking, and are delish with fruit for an easy dessert. Only where I live it is practically impossible to get any form of nut butter that doesn't begin with a "p" and rhyme with "ski-hut!"

As I think this is a bit of a simple recipe, that can be used in so many different recipes, I'm going to place it in my Basics category. One of the most useful ingredients in my Vegan diet, that can't be easily purchased.

I once came accross some coconut butter, only it wasn't for consumption.(?!) Go figure to what it was actually for!


Here's the thing.

Nut Butters are so damn easy to make. 1 (or 2 if you're being all fancy-like) ingredient, 15 minutes in a food processor and bam! it's done.

I do think we could seriously put a few companies out of business here. . .


I've noticed a lot of people make their own Coconut (etc) butter because they like the rustic home-made-ness, and I'm not going to lie, I enjoy that a lot, but it's not the sole reason I made my own.

It's too much of a challenge for me to find, and when I do find it, it's too expensive for me to warrant purchasing.

A 2kg bag of Dessicated Coconut, actually costs me less than 1 small jar of butter. A bag this size will give you 7-8 decent sized jars full.

(After 5 minutes of processing,  the coconut begins to stick together like this, I knocked the bits from the side of the bowl back into the middle.)

After arguing with the insurance company (car needs rescuing, after the accident), nomming some soy chocolate drinking 2 smoothies and some aloe-vera water later, we have raw home-made coconut butter!


(After 10 minutes of processing,  the coconut begins to stick together like this, again I scraped the sides back into the bowl)

(After 15 minutes of processing,  the oils seep out of the coconut, and it has the traditional nut butter texture!)

                                                                (After stirring in the vanilla seeds)


Perfect for spreading on some freshly baked, warm Pumpkin Seed Bread!


2 Cups dessicated coconut, unsweetened.
vanilla if desired. (See Notes)

1. place the dessicated coconut into a food processor (See Notes)
2. Begin to process, I switch the machine on and leave it running for approx 5 minutes.
3. Continue to blend in 5 minute intervals, until the desired consistency is reached. (See Pictures)
4. Scrape the paste from the machine, into a clean bowl. Stir in 1/4 tsp of vanilla seed paste if using.
5. Store in airtight container. I like to store in  "kilner" jars as they are airtight, and easy to get in and out of when you want to use the butter. Only I didn't have any, so I used a simple jam jar.



I do own a "magic bullet" style processor, and an older "magimix" style processor. For this you really do need to use a more heavy duty processor rather than the pulse style machines, as you need to leave the machine running for a significant amount of time, and a burnt out motor, is never fun.

If you prefer a really smooth coconut butter, then I'd probably stick to the shop bought stuff, as this method makes it extremely difficult to reach that consistency. But for a "nearly smooth" - homemade style butter, I love this method!

Don't attempt smaller batches than this. The mixture will reduce by approximately half during the processing, which means that you will end up with about 1cup of finished butter. Bigger batches work well, smaller batches will leave you constantly scraping the side of the bowl!


Vanilla - I like to add a dash of vanilla into my Coconut Butter, mainly because I use it for sweet purposes, but you can totally omit this, or add in something else, I hear cinnamon could be nice! really the sky is the limit, and your imagination is your only inhibitor. 

   Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Pumpkin Seed Bread

pumpkin seed bread title

The past couple of days have been a bit up and down for me. I had a brilliant weekend visiting London with my brother and sister, spending Sunday wandering up and down Oxford Street, doing some SERIOUS shopping, and visiting the Natural History Museum. London is such a beautiful place to me, completely unlike the city I grew up in, and some of the architecture is truly stunning. I'd loved to have spent a little longer there.

When it came time to find food, it's always a little difficult when you are out to find something that fits with your (well, my) vegan-ish diet! We had originally planned to go to a Scandinavian restaurant, but by the time dinner rolled around, we were both way too exhausted to find it! So we settled for a Mexican canteen which we just stumbled across. The pricing was brilliant, they catered for vegetarians & vegans and, most of all, it was tasty! I loved the coriander rice I had. Sometimes coriander can be a little overpowering, however it was scrummy! Definitely something for me to attempt, and soon!

After that amazing trip. I had a pretty devastating car crash. My car, is gone, I have to pay a LOT for my insurance excess, my sister injured her hand, and I keep replaying it in my head. Not an experience I wish to repeat. ever. again.

So with that fabulous start to 2014 I was in need of some. . err. . comfort food. Copious amounts of potato (in the mashed form) with peas have been consumed. (everyone has their own comfort food right!? - mines just mashed potato and peas!)

And what better food than freshly baked bread and jam (chilli jam, but that's for another day! I promise) to lift the spirits?

I absolutely adore Seeds, my current obsession are spiced seed mixes, and Pumpkin Seeds are by no means an exception.
I love roasting Pumpkin Seeds with a little salt, straight out of the innards of the pumpkin, I do this because it means you don't have to use oil, which I find you do if you let them dry out more.
This recipe works well with all types of seeds, sesame seeds are another favourite, although I find they have a much more predominant flavour.


I've shown you how to make this bread manually as it is so darn easy, if a little time consuming. On a regular basis, I would use the bread machine* (See Notes) to make the dough, and then bake. (If I could - the heating element is blown in the bread machine! - I would probably make the entire loaf in the bread machine as well!)


The thing which I find makes this bread extra special, is the sweet and slightly sticky Agave Nectar, mild heat from the chilli flakes and the contrast in texture via the pumpkin seeds.

(drizzling the agave, chilli and pumpkin seeds over the dough, ready to bake)



4 cups of Strong White Bread Flour (See Notes)
1tsp Salt
1tbsp Fast Action Dried Yeast (See Notes)
3tbsp Sunflower Oil (See Notes)
1/2 tbsp Sugar (See Notes)
Tepid Water (See Notes)
Roasted Sunflower Seeds - Approximately 1/3 Cup.
Pinch of Chilli Flakes
Agave Syrup

1. In a large basin, combine the Flour, Salt, Yeast and Sugar. Make a well in the middle of the bowl.
2. In a measuring jug, measure out approximately 1 1/2 cups of Tepid Water.
3. Pour the Sunflower Oil and then the Water into the well in the flour.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients into a dough, if the mixture is not "wet" enough, slowly add more water, 1tbsp at a time until it holds together well. You should require no more than 1 3/4 cups of water in total.
5. When the mixture resembles a dough, take 1/2 of the Sunflower Seeds and work them into the dough.
6. Continue to knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes,
7. Place the dough in a warm place for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
8. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and "Knock back" (See Notes)
9. Divide your dough into the required amounts (See Notes)
10. Place the dough into greased tins, and cover with plastic wrap, allow to rest for a further 20-30 minutes.
11. Uncover the dough and lightly drizzle with Agave Syrup, and sprinkle with the Chilli Flakes and remaining Seeds. 
12. Bake in an oven preheated to 200° C  for 35 minutes (See Notes).


*Bread Machines!

I love bread machines, and this recipe is totally doable in the bread machine due to the inclusion of Fast Action Yeast!
It is possible to bake the entire loaf in the bread machine, however I like to set my machine to "dough" and then take the bread out, knock it back and let it rise for 10-15 minutes and then bake it in the same way I would if I were making it all by hand. I just find that by using the bread machine, I can go off and do something else until the program expires rather than have to keep a constant eye on dough! (which can drive one crazy!)
I do have a friend who puts the ingredients in her bread machine the night before, then sets a timer on her machine, and wakes up to fresh bread each morning! Imagine that, the smell of fresh bread to wake up to. . . Yum!

The Water, does need to be a tepid temperature, to approximately the same temperature you would take a bath. The reason for this is that the yeast needs to be warm in order to begin reacting, however if it is made too hot, the enzymes are denatured and no longer work. Effectively if the yeast gets too hot it dies, and if it is not warm enough, it goed too slowly!

To knock-back bread is to work out the large air pockets which may have formed during the first rise. I have found that this happens a lot less with Vegan bread than it does with regular bread dought, however it is still an important step.

With this recipe, I made two loaves of bread, however I think it would be nice to make these into bread buns, to serve at a dinner party, where everyone could have their own roll. If you wish to do this, it is advised that you reduce the cooking times accordingly. I would suggest that if you were to make 12 rolls instead of 2 loaves, you should reduce the cooking time by 10 minutes.

If you like your bread with a thicker, crustier crust! - Place a small oven proof dish on the floor of your oven filled with water as you bake the bread, this creates crustier bread!

Lastly, I would also suggest that if you are using a fan assisted oven, you turn the temperature down to 180°C but cook the bread for the same amount of time. 

Strong White Bread Flour - Occasionally I like to swap Strong White Bread Flour, for Wholemeal or even Brown, however it is worth noting, that if you use either of these, they do tend to take a little longer to prove and rise than White Bread Flour does, I'm not sure of the technical reasons why, all I know is that it does happen, so what I tend to do in these cases is to actually almost double the amount of time I give the dough to rise. 

Fast Action Dried Yeast - Sometimes Yeast comes in sachets, in which case I suggest that you read the instructions on the packet. I only really use Fast Action Dried Yeast, as it is the only kind that is advised for use in bread makers* however I know that it would be perfectly awesome to use live yeast, maybe one day I will investigate, or if someone knows of making Vegan bread with different types of yeast I would love to hear about it!

Sunflower Oil - Quite a few of my friends are really sceptical about using Sunflower Oil as they think it is completely tasteless, and to an extent, it is. I think it is somewhere in my very near future to see if I can incorporate coconut oil into a bread recipe. . . What I mean to say is, most types of oil will work just the same, olive, vegetable, sesame . . . etc!

Sugar - Sometimes it is possible to omit the sugar entirely, but not if you use Wholemeal or Brown Bread Flour, however I find that it works best with a little sugar added, plus I don't think it ends up "sweet" bread by any stretch of the imagination, it is there to simply react with the yeast enzymes. I have used Agave Syrup in the past, which works quite nicely!

  Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Mexican Style Sweetcorn Chowder

Mexican Style Sweetcorn Chowder Title

OK! - so it's as Mexican as I am. . . but I love Mexican food, and this to me has a bit of a Mexican vibe to it!

I first came across a Sweetcorn Chowder recipe via Nigella Lawson a couple of years ago, but I have slowly adapted it and changed some of the ingredients to suit my own tastes. I am pretty sure I have said this before but I am a bit of a garlic-aholic so I tend to put a tad too much garlic in everything! That's easily resolved though! I originally didn't add garlic in to the recipe as well, I simply used garlic oil. If you aren't as big a fan of repelling your other half with your breath as I am, just omit the garlic!


As you can see. . . It's still Christmas here! - 5 days until the Orthodox Christmas!!

It has been said that the colour of this chowder is not the most appetising, however I quite like it, probably because I know what it tastes like!


If you take a look in the notes section below the recipe, I mention using Cous-cous instead of Chia seed, which I have made in the past, however we all know the amazing powers of Chia seed!

I do struggle to find Chia seed near me, but it is easily bought on-line, or in some health food shops, which is ironically where I found it. The only problem-o was that I had to bulk buy as they didn't sell it in small quantities, so now I am on a mission to see how many things I can incorporate Chia into! I think it would go really nicely in some form of vegan cookies. . . I'll have to look into that one!



1 cup of frozen Sweetcorn (see Notes)
1/2 Jalapeño (see Notes)
1 small Red Onion (see Notes)
Garlic oil (for frying) (See Notes)
2 tsp Chili Flakes (see Notes)
1 Clove of Garlic (See Notes)
1 Vegetable Stock cube
1 tbsp Chia Seeds (See Notes)

1. Finely chop the onion and Jalapeño.
2. Soak the Chia seeds in 5 tbsp's of cold water, leave to form a gel (approx 5 minutes)
3. Fry the onion and Jalapeño in the Oil until soft.
4. Measure out 500ml of hot Water into a measuring jug and add the Stock cube, mix until dissolved. 
5. Crush the Garlic into the Onion and Jalapeños once fried, don't do before hand as the Garlic has a tendency to burn (and no one likes burnt garlic!)
6. Stir in the Sweetcorn and Chia gel, cover with the Stock and bring to a boil. 
7. Once the mix is brought to boiling point, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly (this is for no reason other than it is easier to handle, and boiling soup on hands. . . hurts!) 
8. Pour the mix into a blender, and blend to required texture. (I prefer it not completely smooth, it should have some texture and you should be able to view the vegetables slightly still.) Place the soup back in the pan and bring back to the boil.
9. Enjoy!!!
      The soup may need more liquid added after it has been blended, depending on how you like it!


   Sweetcorn is best either fresh or frozen, but it is easier if it is frozen. I don't like using tinned sweetcorn as it    is usually soaked in sugared water.


     Jalapeno - Here I used Jalapeno's, but if you can't get hold of any, just add 1tsp of chilli flakes in.
     Red Onion - White onion works as well, but the red tend to be sweeter.
     Garlic Oil - Oils of any calibre work nicely, depending on preference.
     Chilli Flakes - I only used the Chilli Flakes for garnish, but they can be added to the soup as well.
     Garlic - If you use the garlic oil, you may find you don't need the garlic as well. 
     Chia Seeds - I am a massive fan of Chia, but I sometimes make a version using Cous-cous instead!

   Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.

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