Raw Vegan Salted Caramel Slices

img_3696img_3697

These Raw Vegan Salted Caramel Slices are heaven! Three layers made up of wholesome, refined sugar-free ingredients but absolutely no sacrifice on taste. The first layer is a soft oaty biscuit, the second is a rich date and tahini caramel and the third layer is dark homemade chocolate. These taste just like the caramel slices I used to buy at school only (in my opinion) better!

Ingredients

Biscuit Layer

100g Ground Almonds

100g Rolled Oats

2 tbsp Coconut Oil

1 tbsp Maple Syrup

Caramel Layer

200g Medjool Dates

1 tbsp Tahini

1 tbsp Coconut Oil

3 tbsp hot water

pinch of Salt

Chocolate Layer

100g Coconut Oil

60g Cocao Powder

4 tbsp Maple Syrup

1 tsp Vanilla Extract / powder

pinch of salt

– Using a food processor blend all of the biscuit ingredients together. Transfer to a lined 8inch square tin, pressing down the mixture evening so that it is compact. Place in the fridge to set while you make the caramel.

– Pit the dates and then whizz them up in the food processor until finely chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to process until a smooth caramel is formed. It should be thick but spreadable. Evenly spread the caramel over the biscuit layer and place back in the fridge while you make the chocolate.

– Melt the coconut oil in the microwave and then add the rest of the chocolate ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Pour over the caramel layer, tap the tin a few times off the bench to evenly spread and burst any air pockets. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until the top layer has compete set and you are able to slice.

Enjoy!! X

Advertisements

Creamy Mushroom & Asparagus Spaghetti

This is my absolute favourite recipe at the moment – it’s creamy, full of flavour and really filling. Cashews are a god send for vegans and can create anything from salad dressing to cheesecake and in this case they are the key ingredient for this delicious pasta sauce.

Serves 4

  • 1 punnet of mushrooms or as many as you like
  • 1 bunch of asparagus (I used the extra fine ones from M&S)
  • 300g dried spaghetti (drum wheat)
  • chopped parsley to garnish

Sauce

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 cups of unsweetened almond milk (add until you reach your desired consistency)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper

Chop the mushrooms and asparagus and stir fry at the same time as cooking the spaghetti. While the veg and spaghetti is cooking throw all of the sauce ingredients apart from the almond milk into a food processor and process until a paste is formed. Slowly add the almond milk until the sauce is smooth and thick but you are still able to pour it easily over the veg. Heat the sauce up for a couple of minutes with the veg (add a little pasta water to loosen the sauce if need be). Drain the spaghetti and mix everything together. Sprinkle parsley over to garnish.

Butternut Squash Lasagne


I’m mainly sharing this recipe with you because I have found the perfect quick and easy Bechamel sauce recipe and it’s all thanks to Sainsburys vegan cream cheese. Did you hear about #garycheese?This sauce is a real game changer and it’s just like the real thing (if not better!). The cream cheese gives the sauce a brilliantly cheesy and creamy flavour and it only needs a little almond milk added to create the required consistency. It is golden once cooked and bubbles up nicely like any other lasagne – very exciting indeed!

Filling

1 glug of olive oil

Soya mince – vegan friendly

1 punnet of mushrooms

1 onion

1 tbsp oregano

1 tbsp maple syrup

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

4 cloves of garlic

1 tsp maple syrup/sugar

Bechamel Sauce

1 tub of vegan cream cheese

2 cups of unsweetened plant-based milk (I used almond milk)

salt & pepper

Lasagne sheets

6 – 9 butternut squash lasagne sheets (Sainsburys) or dried pasta lasagne sheets – drum wheat, egg free

Make the filling by frying the onion, mushrooms and garlic in the olive oil. Add the soya mince and continue to cook for a  few minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, herbs and sugar and leave to cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime make the Bechamel sauce by adding all of the cream cheese to a sauce pan along with 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk and seasonings. Heat and stir everything together until it’s smooth and the consitency of double cream.

Once the filling and sauce are prepared start to assemble the lasagne. Start by putting a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a lasagne dish, then place some butternut squash sheets on top, followed by half of the mince filling. They put another layer of lasagne sheets on top of that followed by the remaining mince filling. Finally top the filling with some more lasagne sheets and cover the lasagne with the rest of the Bechamel sauce. It doesn’t really matter how you decide to assemble your lasagne this is just the way I do it.

Cook for around an hour on 190 degrees or until the top is golden and the lasagne sheets are tender. I hope you enjoy!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies 

I’ve got a scrumptiously satisfying cookie recipe for you that makes for the perfect offering when you have friends and family over during the festive period. They are firm on the outside but soft in the middle with a delicious chunk of chocolate in every bite.

Ingredients

1 cup of plain flour

pinch of salt

1/2 cup of sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup of vegan dark chocolate chips (most dark chocolate is vegan but be sure to check the ingredients. I used Waitrose dark chocolate chunks)

1/4 cup of vegetable oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup of almond or soya milk

Preheat oven to 170 degree (fan assisted). Mix all of the ingredients together until well incorporated and a cookie dough is formed. At this point you can taste test because there is no egg! Form 10-12 small balls and place spaced apart on a lined baking tray. Cook for around 12 minutes or until firm to touch. These cookies won’t really change a lot in colour so don’t wait for this to happen as you will risk having dry cookies. Let the cookies cool for at least 15 minutes or longer if you are like me and like the chocolate to have solidified completely. Enjoy!

NB: If you would like to make a more nutritious version why not make a few swaps? Coconut sugar instead of granulated sugar, coconut oil instead of vegetable oil and coconut flour instead of plain flour. Please note that I have not yet tried this version so can’t guarantee quality, but do leave a comment if you try either recipes!

If stored in an air tight container should last for at least 3 days.

Going Vegan: 6 month update


Hello!

As it’s been 6 months since me and my husband made the decision to go vegan, I wanted to share with you some of my experiences, feelings and any benefits/changes I have noticed along the way.

For the most part I have found the transition to be relatively straightforward and I can honestly (hand on heart) say that I have not had any moments of weakness during these months. Any cravings that I have had have been quickly satisfied with a vegan alternative. Yes, the alternative may sometimes take an hour to make but it is available to you nonetheless. What isn’t readily available however, are very many options when you are out and about and have left your lunch at home. There have been a few days when I have not been prepared and tried to find a packaged sandwich and failed. I have since discovered that Tesco do a Falafel and Hummus wrap which is rather agreeable. Waitrose does a delightful Vegetable, Buckwheat and Quinoa pack which you pop into the microwave for 3 mins and Bobs your Uncle – a healthy delicious lunch. On a sweeter note, I’m happy to report that there is a LOT more choice if you have been plagued with a sweet tooth. Green & Blacks and Lindt 70% dark chocolate are great options and totally delicious. Raw desserts from the Naked Deli (Newcastle) are incredible and really satisfy a sweet tooth while containing excellent ingredients and hey, even the Co-op sells vegan friendly donuts! So sweet things are not so much of a worry, which is great news for a dessert fiend such as myself. I think the main change for us is the preparation involved because of the lack of pre-prepared meals out there –  I’m pretty much cooking from scratch what feels like 24-7, but that’s fine by me I love to cook! I tend to make raw chocolate brownies or granola bars every Sunday for the week ahead as well as a couple of batches of pasta or curry for lunch throughout the week. 

I have noticed some changes and benefits during the last 6 months which I know is always interesting to hear about, from a health point of view.

  • My energy levels have definitely increased since I made the change in my diet, I feel less sluggish and lethargic. I’m yawning less!
  • I had pimples on the tops of my arms, they have now gone
  • My digestion has improved dramatically
  • My skin looks brighter
  • I feel more positive and purposeful
  • I don’t feel the need to ‘diet’ anymore. This is a great thing for me as I have been on a diet since I was 19 and now that I eat plant based and avoid processed foods 90% of the time there is no need worry.

I have to say that becoming vegan has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far. I cant imagine eating any other way now – I only wish I’d done it sooner! I hope this post has been helpful, whether you are thinking of becoming vegan yourself or if you are just interested in the lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutty Chocolate Breakfast Bars 

Sweet, nutty, chocolatey, chewy…oh boy, these are good! These breakfast bars are great for when you are on the move, you can just pop them in your bag and eat them on your way to work if need be! They are delicious, filling and nutritious and the best thing is that you can experiment with what fruit and nuts you include. There’s no exact science with this, that’s why I just throw in the fruit and nuts as I please – you can find the combination and quantities that work best for you!

Ingredients – makes up to 8 bars

150g oats

5 neglet dates, chopped

Handful of almonds, chopped

Handful of raisins

Handful of pumpkin seeds

3 tbsp peanut butter

3 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp water)

1 tbsp cocoa powder

Simply put all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt the coconut oil and add this along with the maple syrup, peanut butter and flax egg to the mixture. Combine well and then transfer to a lined 20cm tin. Press down the mixture tightly, making sure the sides have defined edges. You might doubt whether the mixture will set at this point but when the coconut oil solidifies in the fridge the bars will hold there shape perfectly. Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours before cutting into bars.

Enjoy!

Eating Vegan in Italy

 

image

We travelled to Limone a small village in Lake Garda, Italy in September and it was hands down the most beautiful place we have ever visited. We stayed at The Hotel Splendid Palace which has the most amazing views of the lake, mountains and Limone. We spent a lot time on our balcony looking out and watching the boats go back and forth from other areas of the lake such as Malcesine and Riva – it was probably the most relaxing holiday we’ve ever been on! With a view like this, if we had spent the week on the balcony it would not have been wasted.

Before our trip we were a little worried about what we would be able to eat in Italy which would be vegan friendly. I had done a little research to see if I could find any blog posts on this subject but  I only came across one or two. I knew that when I returned I needed to share my experience and tips to help other vegans who plan to visit Italy. We were half board at the hotel which meant that our breakfast and evening meal was included. I contacted Thomson Lakes before the trip to ask if they could cater for dietary requirements and they said the hotel would be happy to do so. The hotel were great and made sure we had soya milk on our table each morning for cereal and coffee and on a night there was always something we could have. We usually mix and matched the side dishes such as potatoes, cous cous, salad and vegetables to create a kind of Buddha Bowl if you like. The hotel even made us vegan desserts on 3 on the nights, one of which was a selection of energy balls!

We ate out at various different restaurants in Limone, Malcesine, Riva and Verona for lunch and sometimes evening meal if we wanted a change from the hotel. We were surprised at how many dishes were already vegan friendly, without being labelled as such. On most menus at the top of the pizza section there is the option of a pizza without cheese but this often came without any toppings so we chose a pizza with lots of veggie toppings and asked for ‘no formaggio’. There is quite a few vegan spaghetti options and my favourite was the Peperoncino which was simply spaghetti with chilli oil, garlic and parsley. I loved it that much I recreated it when I got home! There was also the option of Arrabiata in some restaurants which is also delicious. The menus are very detailed in terms of stating what is included in each dish. It will clearly state if there is cheese in something and if you order pasta they bring out a separate pot of Parmesan on the side, so they don’t just presume you will want it or add it on for you. One thing to point out is that the Italians are not shy with the olive oil and all of the pasta dishes are practically swimming in it so if you are not overly fond of olive oil a pizza without cheese would be your best option. Bruschetta is another great option because it is totally deliciously, fresh and light which makes it perfect for lunch. One of the restaurants we walked past actually had an advertised vegan option on their specials menu so we knew we had to come back and try it. We came back the following night and ordered the vegan dish which was a mezze of  polenta, tofu, vegan ‘beef’ burger, millet and aubergine. It was lovely to have something different and you could tell how much thought and effort had went it to creating this option for the menu. It wasn’t cheap at €16.50 each but if you are to create a niché meal such as this with non-mainstream Italian ingredients I suppose this price is justifiable.

Extra Tips

– One thing to be careful of is the cocktails. I noticed that the Strawberry Daiquiri was made using strawberry ice cream and because we don’t include this ingredient in our cocktails in the UK you wouldn’t expect it.

– A lot of the shops sell dark chocolate and crisps so if you are fancying some home comforts they have got your back.

– The pasta is usually dried so it does not contain egg but be careful as some of the pasta is fresh but it should specify this on the menu.

– Contact the hotel or holiday company before your trip to let them know your dietary requirements. Liaise with the rep directly if possible.

– Verona airport has a burger restaurant which has a veggie burger option (minus the pesto and you have yourself a pre-flight vegan delight).

I hope I managed to cover everything food wise in this blog post but if you have any questions please let me know as I would be happy to help – I know how hard it is to find info on this subject on the Internet! Now excuse me while I go and make myself some lunch…

Indulgent Chocolate Cupcakes {vegan}

image

image

These cupcakes are moist and light but still manage to be incredibly chocolatey, I was so happy with the way they turned out I had to share them on the blog! I am going to look into making a healthier version but for now enjoy this decedent treat 🙂

Makes 9-12

Cupcake ingredients

1 cup of soy milk

3/4 cup of sugar

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup of vegetable oil

1 cup white plain flour

1/3 cup of cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

pinch of salt

Icing ingredients

100g vegan butter (I use Flora Freedom)

200g icing sugar

30g cocoa powder

*optional 1-3 tbsp. soya milk depending on how mousse like you would like the icing. The second picture shows the consistency you get using 2 tbsp. of soya milk.

  1. To make the cupcakes put all of the ingredients in to a mixing bowl and combine well.
  2. Put mixture into cupcake liners and cook for around 15 minutes in a 180 degree oven.
  3. While the cupcakes are baking you can make the icing by combining the butter and cocoa powder together then gradually adding the icing sugar. Add the soya milk until you get the consistency you require.
  4. Put the icing in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up. Once the cupcakes are completely cool, put the icing in a piping bag with your preferred nozzle and pipe the icing onto the cupcakes. Please note that the icing will hold its shape and design better the less milk that is added and the longer it is kept in the fridge.

These cupcakes are best kept in an airtight container in the fridge for no longer than 4 days.

 

Blueberry Cheesecake {Raw, Vegan}

image

I’ve been making the most of the bank holiday weekend and spending some time doing what I love to do most, cook! Or in this case blend lots of raw ingredients together. I had some blueberries I needed to use up so I decided to create a raw vegan cheesecake that also happens to be incredibly nutritious.  The great thing about this recipe is that you can change the fruit to suit your taste. I think that raspberries and strawberries would work really well or why not mix different fruits together to make a summerfruit cheesecake!

Crust

1 1/2 cups of raw cashews

8 Medjool Dates, pitted

1/2 tbsp chocshot 

pinch of Salt

Filling

2 cups soaked raw cashews

pinch of salt

Juice of 1 lemon

1 1/2 cups blueberries

8 medjool dates, pitted

1 cup of water

20cm Spring form cake tin

– blend the crust ingredients in a food processor until the mixture sticks together between your fingers. Press down the mixture tightly to the base of the tin then put in the fridge while you make the filling.

– put all of the filling ingredients apart from the water in the food processor. Slowly add the water until the mixture is smooth.

– put the filling on top of the crust and then freeze. Take out of freezer 10 minutes before you wish to serve. It’s best to slice the cheesecake when it is still half frozen to keep the slices neat.

Enjoy! Katy X

Faux Leather Fashion

My vice before becoming vegan was leather handbags and shoes and I had invested quite a bit of money on these items. I have since sold a few of these pieces on eBay but for the most part I made the decision to wear out what I already have and ensure all future purchases are faux leather. Over the last few weeks I have been on the hunt for some fashionable faux leather items which cut the mustard in replacing leather. I wanted to share these findings with you today.

New Look Tan Sandals £19.99

I found these 70’s inspired sling back mules on ASOS and immediately flung them in my basket. I wasn’t sure what size to get as I’m an awkward 5.5 UK size and my shoe collection ranges from 5 to 6 as most places don’t do half sizes. I opted for the 5 in these sandals and they fit perfectly, so I would recommend going for the size down if you are inbetween sizes like me. They arrived this weekend and I paired them with this whistles jumpsuit and they worked really well together to create a chic retro look. The quality of the shoe is really quite amazing for the price and the faux suede is lovely. They are not the most comfy of shoes and I definitely wouldn’t do extensive walking in these but they are great for a day-time meal or house party.

image

Zara Bucket Bag £19.99

I couldn’t quite believe the price of this bag when I saw it online. I then saw it in person in my local store and discovered it was just as nice up close and bought it there and then. It’s a really light bag so it’s easy on the shoulders and I love that you can carry it by the handle and take the long strap off if you wish. It’s the perfect size, it appears on the small side but can surprisingly fit a lot in. I managed to get my lunch for the day, a big purse and make up in it. The material is really nice and a few people have said that they thought it was real leather. Only time will tell how durable it is but I think that if I don’t go crazy with over packing it should last well and for the price it isn’t the end of the world if it only lasts a year or so!

image

Primark Ankle Boots £15

I used to love Dune Ankle boots but it’s very difficult to find a non leather pair in there so I have been keeping my eye out for a pair of ankle boots to take me into the Autumn months. I saw these in primark for £15 and thought they were a bargain and fit the bill; they are super comfy and look great with dress and jeans. On reflection I wish I had got the black pair as these are really quite blue in person and obviously black would go with more clothes and be less jarring but sometimes it’s nice to mix things up a bit. I know – wild right?

image