Fry off some finely chopped onion and garlic and add a selection of roughly chopped – chunky – vegetables. We used: courgettes; red, green and yellow peppers and celery. Mushrooms would be great too.
Add chilli of choice, either finely chopped fresh chillis, dried chilli or a chilli powder mix, or maybe a mixture of these.
Bung in a box of passata or chopped tomatoes and add a little water to the mix.
Bring to boil and turn down to simmer.
Once veg is tender add a tin or two of cooked red kidney beans and salt to taste.
Nice served with rice, a baked potato or quinoa or, if you’re feeling a bit trashy, chips.
Cucumber is a good cooling accompaniment. Other optional additions: a teaspoon of sugar stirred into the sauce really brings out the flavours in a different, sweet, way; a few squares of dark chocolate melted through it turn the dish into a darker, richer mole.
Pictured above is a soya mince based chilli, below a vegetable one.
Don’t eat when you’ve been talked into watching a scary fast moving zombie film that will make you consume the hot chilli far too fast and overheat in a bad way.
And, books again: now is the time to get a copy of Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Christmas for 1 pence or 1 cent. The price will inflate hugely through November and December and it’s a lovely collection of recipes. See our review here or visit Amazon in the UK
The Works is a fantastic sources of discounted books, often selling sets of books for the price you normally pay for one. The Works also has great deals on stationery, toys & games, and art & craft supplies.
The cake above was made with the cacao rich vegan cake mix from Creative Nature. The little round sweets are their Gnawbles which are basically vegan Maltesers!
The mix makes a gorgeous, sweet and luxurious cake – you just add oil and milk of your choice – and the Gnawbles are delightfully crunchy and delicious.
Creative Nature also make snack bars which are great too. See the whole range here. It includes many different types of vegan cake mix and numerous varieties of Gnawbles and bars. Particularly innovative is the Hazelnot flavour, containing no nuts.
Use code VEGANFAMILYHOUSE10 at the checkout for a 10% discount.
Everything is gluten free, vegan and nut free too.
Gorgeous Choc Hotlate, a recipe for hot chocolate topped with ice cream, from the equally gorgeous book The Contented Vegan. What could be better on a snowy day?
The book is a satisfyingly chunky hardback with lots of beautiful full page colour photos that reminded me of when my son was a toddler and used to like to look at recipe books. He would point at each picture and say ‘Nums!’ Well, there’s lots to say ‘nums’ about in this book.
Written by a chef who has been vegan for over 30 years, the pages are bursting with great advice for people starting off on the vegan journey and those who’ve been on it a while.
I enjoyed the section on raising vegan children and it also brought back memories. The author advises trying to make the food to be eaten with other children as ‘normal’ as possible. I recall planning such a meal and getting my daughter to check that her friend liked spaghetti, thinking a nice Bolognese style sauce would go down well. Indeed, the initial report came back positive. But I will never forget the look of sheer horror on the child’s face when presented with a bowl of spaghetti and sauce.
‘What is this?’ she asked.
‘Spaghetti,’ said I.
‘But spaghetti comes in orange juice.’
Luckily I did have a tin at the back of a cupboard, so all was well!
Recipe sections include breakfast, snacks, lunch, suppers, family dinners and feasts and celebrations. We’ll be trying the Winter Solstice Pie and the Fennel and Pepper Presto has caught the eye too. In fact I can tell it’s a book of nums that will be dipped into often over many years.
It’s snowing again, may have to make more Choc Hotlate!
There’s nothing quite like a vegan roast dinner, is there? Pictured above is a very delicious Mheat fillet from Sgaia’s Vegan Meats, stuffed with mushroom risotto and wrapped in puff pastry. Everybody loved it. Everybody wanted more. Served with baby broad beans, asparagus and a garlic and rosemary roast tomato, it made a very good meal and would be a good festive choice.
The fillet itself is really meaty, being made with wheat gluten, though less dense and solid than some seitan products we’ve tried, making it simple to stuff and wrap. Unlike tofu, mheat is flavoursome to begin with, savoury and salty. It’s also a good size, easily feeding four people. If you need a mushroom risotto recipe there’s one on the Yule page in the midst of Cat’s ‘Now that’s what I call a Christmas dinner’ mushroom parcel.
We absolutely loved this gorgeous Facon Relish from Janda Food. It’s smokey. It’s bacon-y. It’s delicious in burgers, sandwiches and even as a condiment to dip crudities or chips in. It was sent to us by the equally wonderful Mettalife, an E-commerce Ethical and Vegan Marketplace and a fantastic place to do your festive shopping this year.
Janda Food make other lovely vegan things such as burger relish, mayo and salt caramel spread. See the range here at Mettalife where you can use code FAMILY10 to get a 10% discount on any purchases.
We paired the relished up burger with one of our favourite soups, rice and tomato (recipe here) and a gluten free bun. Yum.
But back to the ethical shopping! And onto the straws 🙂
These reusable bamboo straws from Panda Packaging come in a pack of 5 with a coconut fibre straw cleaner & cotton straw bag included and would make a great gift or stocking filler. See all the bamboo products here at Mettalife, some of which can be personalised, from bowls and combs to brushes and lunch boxes, and, again, don’t forget your 10% discount code FAMILY10!
We like how Instagram made the straw look like a painting.
These totally gorgeous spices were sent to us by Mettalife, an E-commerce Ethical and Vegan Marketplace, the perfect place to shop this Christmas and to support small business. The spices make up part of a Vegan Spices Recipe Gift Box from The Teaspoon Club. It comes complete with various recipes and all the spices and spice mixes needed to make them.
The Teaspoon Club’s ethically sourced spices are exceptionally high quality, the flavours that come through are rich and strong and far superior to the wee jars obtained in supermarkets. They also arrive in compostable packaging.
Mettalife have given us a code for you to use for purchases from their site. Just use FAMILY10 for a 10% discount.
The Butternut Squash Curry with Coconut recipe that came with the kit sounded absolutely delicious, but as we’re not the best recipe followers, we made our own inspired by it and will leave theirs to purchasers or receivers of the gift box 🙂 Here’s our Butternut Squash Curry, using the provided spice mix:
Coconut oil, 1 tablespoon
spice mix of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and yellow mustard seeds, 1 tablespoon
nigella seeds, 1 teaspoon
ground cumin, 1 teaspoon
ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon
ground fenugreek, 1 teaspoon
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 apple, peeled, cored, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 bag of frozen butternut squash, 500g, or a fresh one, peeled and chopped
1 tin of coconut milk
water as needed
1 and a half cups of frozen peas
salt to taste
Method: pound the seeds up in a pestle and mortar if you have, otherwise skip this step. Fry the seeds, spices, onion, garlic, apple and pepper in the oil for a few minutes before adding the squash and the coconut milk. Bring to the boil and turn down to simmer until almost cooked (about 20 minutes). Add the peas for a further 10 minutes of cooking and salt to taste.
This was so delicious we’re really looking forward to using the Chilli Spice Mix next!
Ethical Christmas Shopping: not handing all over all your money to the likes of Jeff Bezos and Tesco 🙂 And supporting small businesses, many of which have suffered huge losses during this strange time on the planet.
We’re going to be showcasing a few really lovely vegan products from small businesses that would make good stocking fillers or gifts. These were sent to us by Mettalife, an E-commerce Ethical and Vegan Marketplace which is a veritable treasure trove of planet-friendly, animal-kind, healthy goodies.
First up is the utterly wonderful Botanical Whipped Body Butter – Perfectly Pure Apricot from Butterwhips. Formulated for sensitive skin, bump care and for babies from one month up, this arrived in our household at a most opportune time. One of us had just spent some time in hospital with various areas bandaged up. The skin under those bandages was in a sorry state and this stuff worked wonders on it. The fact that apricot kernel oil is anti-inflammatory was fortuitous too. Even the nurses, who happily applied the product when changing the dressings, commented on what a nice cream it was. We’ve ordered another large pot!
Mettalife have given us a code for you to use for purchases from their site. Just use FAMILY10 for a 10% discount.
Look at that purity. Only three ingredients. No perfume.
The next product was also great to come home and freshen up with after hospital. A luxurious, frothy, creamy soap from Zuzka Soap, completely cruelty-free and handmade in the UK, and blasting you with the gorgeous scent of honeysuckle.
Vegan cheese. There’s a lot of it out there these days, from the cheaper supermarket own brands, to old trusty steadfasts made by vegan companies like VBites and Scheese. But sometimes you need something a little bit different, a little bit special.
From Vegan Supermarket GreenBay (online and in store), vegan Camembert and Herbes de Provence! They have many other gourmet and hard to find vegan products… go see!
These were absolutely fabulous on Christmas Day, the cheeseboard being the star of the show. The Camembert was particularly impressive, being a truly pure product with only four ingredients, and so authentic and real tasting. You have to try it. You really really do 😀 Vegan cheese FTW!
Just launched at M&S, with the aim of getting people eating more plants, this range of pickles and kimchi from Vadasz Pickles and Ferments is absolutely delicious.
Our favourite were the fresh pickle with garlic and dill. They were magnificent in a sandwich which went thus: green lettuce from garden, layer of braised tofu, sprinkle of nori flakes, thick layer of pickle (pictured are the red onion, also great here), red lettuce from garden (or shop of course). Yum.
The kimchi is also lovely; we found it great as a component of a salad. From Vadasz: “Importantly, Vadasz Raw Kimchi is live culture, a result of the magical process of lactic acid fermentation, meaning it contains probiotics which are beneficial to the gut and are not found in many existing products that are preserved using vinegar. Similarly, Vadasz Red Onion Pickles, and Vadasz Garlic and Dill Pickles use a traditional cold brine process, keeping them unpasteurised and retaining their crunchiness and fresh flavour. Together, they offer anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties, at a time when awareness is growing regarding the link between gut health and overall wellness.”
A creepy and romantic read for October, Lucy’s novel THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked historical event, the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story. Available in paperback and kindle and free on Kindle Unlimited (Amazon offer a free trial of KU).