As we’re now a week in to the new year, and 15,000 people have now signed up for Veganuary, where you can pledge to try Vegan for the month of January (and beyond!), I thought I would share with you what I have been eating over the past 7 days. I haven’t been particularly creative in the kitchen this week, and I was lucky enough to eat out twice, so I thought that it would be an ideal week to show you how easy it can be to follow a plant based diet, especially as eating out as a Vegan can sometimes be a bit more of a hurdle than cooking in your own kitchen.
1. Chinese Style Stir Fry.
This was a variation on my ‘Vegan Chinese Saturday Night Takeaway‘ which is one of my favourite, and easiest, meals to prepare. With this particular one I used ‘Cauldron Marinated Tofu Pieces’ which you can find in the vegetarian section of most supermarkets. Instead of rice, I mixed this in with Merchant Gourmet Mixed Grains, which is a mix of quinoa, lentils, soy flakes and wheatberries, and is also easy to find in the supermarket. This is another regular feature of my shopping basket, and I used it as the base of my Tomberry Salad recipe back in the summer.
2. Sausages, Champ-cannon and Gravy.
‘Champ-cannon’ is a recipe from the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook, a book which I have sung the praises of many times on my blog. It’s a mixture of masked potatoes, savoy cabbage and spring onions, a mixture of two Irish recipes, Champ and Colcannon. The recipe in the book called for 75ml whole milk and 30g unsalted butter, which I just replaced with soy milk and dairy free spread, I used Vitalite, which again is easily available in the supermarket. It tasted so rich and buttery, I really couldn’t tell the difference. I also added a handful of pine nuts to my champ-cannon, because they’re delicious, and for extra protein. I served this with another shopping basket staple of mine, Linda McCartney sausages which are available from the frozen vegetarian food section of the supermarket, and are suitable for vegans. After I took the picture I covered my sausages and champ-cannon with original Bisto gravy, in the red tub, which is suitable for vegans. As is Bisto extra-special onion gravy, which is my usual favourite.
3. Chilli-beef burritos
This was a super easy meal to create, as I used an ‘Old El Paso Chilli Beef Burrito Kit‘ which again is available from the supermarket. It contains tortillas, chilli sauce and salsa and you need to add your own lettuce, tomato, minced beef and cheese. I replaced the minced beef with soya mince, which I got from the freezer section in Sainsbury’s. Most supermarkets have their own version of soya mince and Sainsbury’s is the best one I have tried. Watch out for Quorn mince as this contains egg, and therefore isn’t suitable for vegans. I replaced the cheese with Vegusto No-Moo Mild Aromatic Cheddar Alternative which is absolutely delicious. You can buy Vegusto cheese at the health food shop or online from their website www.vegusto.co.uk. Vegusto have a wide range of vegan cheese and meat free alternatives and are offering 35% off their starter packs this month, and donating £1 for every sale to Veganuary.
4. Falafal Burger and Fries
This was one of the meals out that I was lucky enough to have this week. We went to the Cordero Lounge in Frome, which is one of my favourite places to eat not only because it has a fantastic atmosphere, but also because it has a dedicated vegan menu. The Cordero lounge is part of the ‘Loungers’ chain of restaurants, which are nationwide. You can find your nearest Lounge on their website www.thelounges.co.uk
I chose their Butternut squash and nutmeg falafel burger with red pepper & tomato chutney, wood-roasted peppers, red onion and rocket, in a sourdough bun, with house slaw and fries. To drink I had a large latte made with soy milk. And I enjoyed it very much!
5. Cheezy Tomato Pasta
This was a super simple midweek meal which I made using Sainsbury’s tomato and basil stir in pasta sauce. I added the sauce to a portion of brown rice penne, along with a teaspoon of nutritional yeast. Nutritional Yeast is a wonderful ingredient if you are following a plant based diet. It’s simply flakes of deactivated yeast which have a wonderful cheesy, nutty flavour, and is fantastic mixed in with pasta sauces, stews or casseroles. It’s available from health food shops, but I actually bought mine from Amazon. I topped my cheezy pasta with another Vegusto cheese, their ‘No-Moo Piquant‘, which is likened to a strong parmesan.
6. The Sparkle Nest ‘Chicken’ Stir Fry
Rob came to stay for a few days this past week, and happened to mention what a shame it was that, now I am following a plant based diet, I won’t ever cook my chicken stir fry again. It was the first meal I ever cooked for him, and I call it my own special recipe, even though it isn’t very fancy really, because I entered it into the ‘Young Chef of the Year’ competition when I was about 12 years old. Well, I took Rob’s comment as a challenge, and the next evening I set about making a vegan version of my old favourite. The original recipe contained chicken, a mixture of stir fry vegetables, and a sauce which consisted of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and soured cream. I replaced the chicken with Fry’s Family Chicken Style Strips which I bought from Holland and Barrett. I’ve also seen these in independent health food shops, but unfortunately not in any major supermarkets. I left out the Worcestershire sauce altogether, and used Alpro Soy Cream in place of the soured cream. This was a bit of an experiment, and I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I’m delighted to say that it did, and Rob declared after just one mouthful that it tasted just as good as the original!
Whilst I’m talking about Rob – he is a meat lover, so is a very good tester for my vegan ‘alternative’ meals. And he declared that the Chilli Beef Burritos I’d made earlier in the week were the best vegan meal he had ever had. Praise indeed!
7. Vegan Sunday Roast
This was another meal that I ate out, this time in our local pub. They have a carvery every Sunday, and I love a roast dinner, but I wasn’t sure if they would have any options available for me. I actually called ahead in this instance and asked if they had any vegetarian options, and they told me that they had nut roast. When we arrived I discovered that the nut roast had cheese in it, and that many of the vegetables were coated in cheese sauce or butter. I almost gave in and ordered a plate of chips, but I thought I’d be brave, asked a few questions and they made me a nut roast without the cheese, and I just chose the vegetables that weren’t covered in butter. I was also delighted to hear that the roast potatoes were cooked in vegetable oil, and they provided me with some vegetarian gravy. What an amazing meal it turned out to be! Vegan roast dinners are also very easy to cook for yourself at home, there are a few options that I make when I cook one, which I shall save for another post.
I hope my week of Vegan meals has inspired you, and shown you how easy it can be to eat your favourite, everyday meals with just a few simple substitutions. I’d love for you to let me know in the comments if you have any super simple plant based favourites, or if you will be trying any of mine.