Easy Minestrone Soup (GF)

Minestrone is my favourite sort of soup – I love the peppery, garlic-packed tomato taste and it’s a simple staple that can be made quickly and cheaply. Here’s an easy minestrone recipe that’s vegan, gluten-free and oil-free. No stock cube – just goodness.

INGREDIENTS

1 tin of tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
Lemon juice
1 pack of celery
1 bag of rocket
1 onion
1 teaspoon date syrup / maple / agave / sugar
Mixed herbs / basil / thyme
Salt and black pepper

METHOD

Roughly chop the onion and celery and add to a hot pot with a splash of water and cook until softened – you could use oil but I wanted to keep it fat-free.

I then blended the tin of tomatoes with the garlic, for ultimate quickness and laziness, then I added it to the pot with a bit of cold water rinsed around the tin and blender to get all the tomato goodness.

Then cook it all up at a high heat until bubbling before adding a splash of lemon juice, roughly torn rocket, a good sprinkle of herbs and a spoon of syrup to sweeten and balance it out.

You could add a handful of cooked pasta if you want but I don’t think it needs it.

Reduce it all to simmer at a low heat and add a generous sprinkle of salt and a good grind of black pepper, with a splash more water if you wish.

Taste, adjust and enjoy!

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Easy Vegan Scrambled Eggs / Tofu Scramble

Here’s a nice and easy recipe for a simple ‘scrambled eggs’ alternative which beats the hell out of a traditional scramble in my opinion.

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon coconut oil

250g firm tofu

1/4 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/2 tablespoon ‘butter’

salt & pepper

almond milk

METHOD

Drain the tofu of excess liquid and add it with the oil to a hot pan, breaking it up roughly with a wooden spoon but leaving it quite chunky. Add the other ingredients gradually, stirring as you go and finish with a generous pinch of salt, a good few grinds of black pepper and a splash of almond milk to make it a little creamier.

Turmeric gives this its lovely  yellow colour and adds a mild kick to it, while offering amazing anti-inflammatory, cancer-preventing and brain-boosting benefits – all greatly increased by combining it with black pepper to boost its absorption. Amazing stuff.

How do you like your ‘eggs’ in the morning? I like mine on ‘buttery’ rye toast any time at all.

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Glasgow’s Nuts for Vegan Doughnuts

Glasgow has been nuts about doughnuts for quite some time, from the basic Barras fried favourites, to pop-ups, street sales and new shops full of them. While the city salivates over the newest doughnut den and delights in the big brand coming to town, there are far fresher and more exciting vegan doughnuts to be had.

When the chef at Mono Instagrammed that she was making doughnuts last year, I jumped out of bed, texted my pal the urgent news and we were there enjoying them within the hour. We weren’t the only ones – loads of other expectant Instafans were there for their fix and they sold out ridiculously quickly, as they always do. Testament to the chef’s sweet skills and how much Glasvegans love all things fried and fattening.

Mono doughnuts 2015

There’s a new vegan doughnut maker in town who takes desserts so seriously she declares it on her knuckles. Vegan Nomad Chick, Lisa, doesn’t mess about.

cakelife    dnts

Despite a lack of premises, she started crafting fresh doughnuts and selling them on the street in Glasgow and Edinburgh . These pop-up street sales sold out quickly and eager eaters kept their eyes peeled on Facebook for news of where Lisa’s fried offerings would next appear (join the ‘top secret donuts‘ Facebook group to stay in the doughy loop).

You can get Lisa’s doughnuts at the Flying Duck Vegan Fete or you could order some and devour then instantly like I did.

Juice Warrior Edinburgh

A couple of raw juice and food fans have been doing great things for the health and wellness of Scottish folk. Juice Warrior was born out of one couple’s interest in and passion for nutrition and plant-based living. Glasgow’s first raw cold-pressed juice company quickly became a local and national favourite, delivering juice cleanses far and wide, to the corners of the country and popping up at our farmer’s markets, in our yoga studios and even at Vegfest Scotland.

The simple goodness of what they do is appealing. We all want to be a bit healthier, eat a little cleaner and sometimes give our bodies and digestion a bit of a break and Juice Warrior makes it easy and does so with style.

I’m delighted that they will be opening their very own shop in Edinburgh this year and I have no doubt it’ll be warmly welcomed, with Glasvegans, raw food fans and healthy living advocates already enjoying their juice.

I wish these health heroes all the best in this exciting endeavour and I can’t wait to be able to get my greens and vegan goodness at their new home in Edinburgh.

Window-Poster-Coming-Soon

Keep an eye on their website and Facebook for updates!

New Chef on the Bloc (Glasgow)

There’s a new chef in town and she’s here to give the Mad Chef a run for his money! Bloc has been smashing it with the vegan options lately, with brilliant burgers and two whole menus of vegan goodness from two different chefs. Danny nailed the first round of Bloc Wars – can new chef Sue compete? The new contender in the kitchen is a qualified nutritionist and accomplished chef, so I was keen to see what she had up her sleeve!

First up: perfect polenta chips with chipotle mayo. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with a creamy but fiery moreish dip, served with a melt-in-the-mouth salty kale chip on top. Absolutely delicious, every bit of it.

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The main meal was a beautiful noodle bowl, with a sliver of ginger curled on top and fine noodles twirled together. Despite its delicate appearance, it was hot stuff baby this evening and my tastebuds were prickling, my face warm, my eyes wide and my senses awakened. Some sweet carrot calmed the dish down but the spicy sauce packed a pickled pepper punch. No messing with this dressing and I loved it.

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Tastebuds tingling and with fire in my belly, I needed something sweet and the hazelnut chocolate cheesecake didn’t disappoint. It was like a little Ferrero Rocher and I could indeed have eaten a tower of them like the one in the swanky advert. Small but perfectly formed, this was a treat and one I’d love to see as a regular on the main menu.

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The new chef on the Bloc knows how to handle herself and can certainly stand the heat in this fiery kitchen. I look forward to seeing what else she brings to the table and I can’t wait to see what’s next from Bloc’s brilliant brains and creative kitchen.

PET Peeve: Plastic Ain’t Fantastic

A cheesy pop song once said life in plastic is fantastic but it really is not. While it may be convenient and cheaply made and bought, the cost to the environment and your health is far greater. Plastic is toxic. It leaches toxins into your food and drinks, causing hormonal imbalance and contributing to cancers and fertility problems.

Not all plastics are created equal and it’s worth getting clued up on the little numbers on the bottom of bottles and packaging, to make an informed decision and know what you’re inadvertently eating.

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1. PET/PETE is what drinks bottles are made of and it releases hormone disrupting chemicals and antimony, which is a poison that can cause headaches, depression and vomiting in large doses. PET products should only ever be used once and they are recyclable.

2. HDPE is used in milk jugs, cosmetics packaging and food storage containers. It’s made from petroleum, is recyclable and is less reactive than most plastic.

3. PVC is extremely toxic and releases poisonous chemicals constantly. It’s widely used in clothing, furniture and even toys. It’s not easily recycled and doesn’t biodegrade.

4. LDPE is used in plastic bags and food packaging. It’s relatively safe but not very environmentally friendly.

5. PP is used to make yoghurt pots, margarine tubs and takeaway food containers. It’s one of the safer plastics and is easily recycled.

6. Polystyrene is commonly used for takeaway food and drinks containers, but it should be avoided as it leaches cancer-causing chemicals into the container’s contents and even more so at warm temperatures.

7. ‘Other’ plastics are the worst of all as they can contain a combination of all of the above, as well as other unspecified materials, which may not have been tested for safety and pass on a cocktail of chemicals to consumers. Some plastic bags come into this category and even some baby bottles, shockingly enough. One chemical created in these types of plastics is BPA, which disrupts hormones and has been linked to asthma and reproductive abnormalities.

Of course it’s impossible to avoid plastic entirely, but opt for greener and cleaner alternatives if you can. Glass is the perfect container as it won’t affect the contents within and is endlessly reusable and recyclable.

Be mindful of the impact of plastic, as a health hazard and burden on the environment. Check recycling guidelines with your local authority or recycling centre and, as always, be smart, savvy and always read the label.

Lasting Guacamole

My guacamole is still going strong after a few days and, far from being brown and bin-bound, it’s still good and green. There’s a lot of love for avocados at the moment and rightly so – it’s delicious, creamy, full of good fats and loved by the absolute goddess that is Nigella – an admirable advert for avocados if ever there was one. Unfortunately, we don’t all earn the big bucks Nigella does and avocados aren’t cheap, so I like to make mine last and spread it out, so to speak, by making a jar of lasting guacamole.

I always keep my avocados in the fridge, to make them last as long as possible and with the addition of a few preserving ingredients, you can make it last a little longer when opened.

1 avocado

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp fresh chilli (or flakes or powder)

1/2 tsp salt

Mash and mix it all together until smooth and creamy. The lemon juice helps preserve the avocado, keeping it green and giving it a sharp freshness. The chilli adds a nice kick, while the olive oil calms it all down and makes the creamy avocado velvety, with a bit of salt pulling it all together.

It’s only guacamole but it works and it’s wonderful so try it and avo toast to its success.

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