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Becoming Vegan

EIGHT years ago when I decided to become vegan, I was the only vegan I knew.

In fact I hadn’t even met a vegan! My aunty was vegetarian for six years, but that was back in her ‘uni days’ and so it was described as some sort of hippy phase.

I remember making the decision and friends actually betting on when I would crack! (My friend Rachel bet me twenty quid I would break by a week – a lot to a 17 year old!)

Well here I am, unbroken, unwavering, and gladly friends with a more vegans than ever before.

It got me thinking though, when I first began there was no ‘Fry’s Chicken Nuggets’ available at my local Tesco’s – you had to make do, find your own recipes and pray to god you could make Tofu taste like anything other than just tofu!

A lot of discussions on WordPress, Tumblr, Facebook and everywhere else about vegans – seems to be talking to VEGANS. Preaching to the converted if you wish.

So I thought for anyone you know out there who is thinking about being vegan, or anyone who wants to become one, here are some handy links.

After all, this is what we’re all here to do right?

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Check out my new Facebook page!

This year I’ve committed to go big or go home with my blog, so I’ve launched a FB site to help me align it all.

I’ll be doing giveaways, reviews and more in 2016 so please pop over and give me a like.

http://www.facebook.com/veganfriendlyfinds

Plus I promise more #VFF blog posts on a regular basis. 🙂

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Today’s Vegan Friendly Find – Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie

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Today’s Vegan a Friendly Find is – Betty Crocker’s Fudge Brownie Mix

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Ok so Betty Crocker products are a bit of a staple for vegans…I’ve done a few on the blog before, but every time I find a new one I have to test and tell you all about it!

Betty Crocker Mixes are designed to just add milk, eggs and butter and bake, so when you’re trying to find out if this product, thats designed to be used with animal products is vegan, it can be tricky – however the Betty Crocker website was tres helpful:

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Basically just double up on oil, or use a banana as an egg substitute as we do.

For this one I added 3/4 a cup veg oil and one banana mushed. But I found that even after an hour, it wasn’t cooked and there was loads of yucky excess oil! So I whipped it out the oven and stirred in around 50gms plain flour and a tsp of baking soda. This seemed to firm it up and I cooked for another 40 mins.

Even after all that the brownie is gooey – but almost to the point of being raw! I’ve now microwaved it for 5 mins! (Desperate measures I know!)

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Would love to know how you guys get on and if you used a different technique that worked – let me know please!

Ingredients:

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After finding out that the folic acid used was from vegetable origin (it says suitable for vegetarians on the packet) it was just a case of a lot of googling! (Lots of long ingredient names I had to check to see where they derived from). But yes. I cant find anything that I wouldn’t class a s vegan – with possibly the exception of the sugar source (which I still have an ongoing reply waiting from the company for).

The Betty Crocker Cake Mixes that are vegan are:
Sunny Lemon Cake Mix With Glaze
Betty Crocker Maple Syrup Cookie
Betty Crocker Vanilla Cake Mix
Betty Crocker Carrot Cake Mix

PLEASE NOTE: There are undoubtedly more options available out on the market that are vegan friendly, and as Betty’s range and flavours widen – its only good news for us! Just make sure you google the E numbers if the packet does not say vegetarian, or if theres a ingredient you haven’t heard of look it up!

Plus! Betty Crocker (or General Mills) are one of the first big commercial companies to cave into our demands and publicly address the issue of palm oil saying that:

“The company’s new policy respects Indigenous rights, protects rainforests and peatlands and sets a goal for sourcing 100 percent environmentally responsible palm oil by 2015.”

So no need to shy away from palm oil laced ingredients!

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Vegan Friendly Recipe – Easter Biscuits!

Tis the season and all!

Heres my really super- dooper easy, one bowl Vegan Friendly Easter Biscuit Recipe!

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200 g Vegan butter (I used Vitalite) at room temperature
200 g sugar – make sure your Sugar is vegan friendly! (I used 100g SilverSpoon’s Caster sugar and 100 g pure Demerara sugar to add a caramelised taste.)
1 tablespoon olive oil,
400 g plain white flour
100 g raisins – or as many/few as you want.
A pinch of salt
2 teaspoons mixed spice – essentially this is what makes them Eastery!
4 tablespoons Soy milk

Ok I experimented with this batch to make it easier for you all! Aren’t I nice!

Basically I made one batch without raisins, one with, and all at different temperatures and times! And I’d like to think out of all this effort, I’ve got the perfect Vegan Easter Biscuit recipe for you all to chomp on next Sunday.

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So here we go!

Preheat the oven to 180 deg.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy.

Add your tablespoon of oil, and fold in the flour, raisins (or not if you don’t like them) mixed spice and salt and mix all together.

Add up to 4 tablespoons soy milk to bind the mixture together and to form a firm but soft dough.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick (1/2 cm). You’ll find the dough sticky, so don’t be afraid to use lots of flour on your rolling pin!

Cut out circles with a large cutter/ cup and use a fish slice to transfer them to a very lightly oiled sheet of oven proof paper so that your biscuits don’t stick.

Bake for 8 minutes, then remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little sugar. Put back in the oven and cook for a further 8 minutes until golden brown.

Take out and cool on a wire cooling rack – This is essential! If you cool on a plate they will go soggy!

Wait till cool and crisp and then decorate as desired.

Enjoy everyone! And let me know how you get on!

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Recipe – Banana Pound Cake out of the box!

I wanted something sweet, but we’re all outta Soy Milk – which means no pancakes! Boooo! So I raided the cupboard and found an old Betty Crocker Pound Cake mix.

I know its not really a recipe – and sorry for all you Delia’s out there who would whip this up from scratch with no problem, but as I said, after a long days work I needed a quick fix and this seemed like the best option with minimal ingredients.

So here we go! Take one box Betty Crocker Pound Cake Mix

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Empty the sachet into a large bowl with 180ml of water and mix.

The pack now ask for 2 eggs – but here we mush two browning bananas in a bowl until they’re all squishy and then add them to the mix.

Stir together thoroughly – depending on how much you mush your bananas your going to see some lumps in your mixture – this doesn’t really bother me as it means pockets of yummy banana moisture coming my way!

Divide into two Victoria sandwich tins and put in the oven at 175 to cook – the recipe says cook for 35-40 minutes, but because it has no egg or dairy I only cook for 30 – 35 as the bananas natural sugars will burn easily.

Whilst you’re waiting for your cakes to cook, whip yourself up a yummy filling by making vegan buttercream!

Just mix 150gms vegan butter with 200gms icing sugar (make sure your icing sugar doesn’t contain egg whites though!)

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Now all you have to do is wait for your pound cake halves to to cool then add the buttercream and a layer of Jam – I used Raspberry.

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Easy peasy and super tasty!

Enjoy! X >

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Recipe – Vegan Spinach, Pesto & Tofu Tarts

I set out to make a Spinach Quiche, but as its nearly the end of the month, and pay day is another agonising week away, funds are running low and we didn’t have half the ingredients in the fridge!

So I improvised and came up with these cute little spinach, pesto and tofu tarts instead.

Unlike my husband, I am not a good cook. He makes everything from scratch, whereas I am a firm believer in a helping hand in the kitchen!

I dream of being a domestic goddess like Glenn Close in the Stepford Wives, or Bree Vandekamp in Desperate Housewives.

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Unfortunately in reality I’m more like Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle.

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But these came out pretty good, and they’re damn tasty.

Ingredients:
2 heaped tablespoons of vegan butter,
2 tablespoons vegetable oil,
4 tablespoons soya milk
300gms Spinach
2 cloves Garlic
1 vegetable stock cube
3 heaped tablespoons Jamie Oliver Spicy Pesto
2 tablespoons cornflour
Salt & Pepper
349gm extra firm tofu
Vegan Pre-made pastry – or make your own if you can!

Preheat your oven at 180.

Fry your garlic in the oil, then add your spinach, butter, soy milk and pesto in a pan then stir.

I used Jamie Oliver Pesto because it was in the fridge and also wanted to add a bit of spice, but you can make your own, or just add chilli flakes if you prefer.

Crumble in your vegetable stock cube – I used Oxo. Then add salt and pepper to taste.

I know theres a method to squeezing tofu between two plates to get the extra water out – but as said – I’m not one for following recipes, so I just crumbled it into the sauce and squished it all together.

Leave on the hob, on low, to cook for about 10 minutes whilst you prepare your pastry.

Line a cupcake tray with your pastry, pushing down in the corners so that you can get more filling in.

And don’t forget to put oil in your cake tray or else the pastry will stick!

I wanted a firmer texture to my filling so used cornflour to thicken it up.

Now fill up the pastry cases with your filling.

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Put in the oven on the medium heat for 20 minutes then its done!

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Leave to cool, then enjoy! If we had the ingredients I would serve these with a refreshing lemon dressed salad and Sweet potato fries.

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Best thing about this recipe is – with the left over pastry you can make Jam Tarts! YAY!

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Benj’s YUMMY Vegan Enchiladas and Cheese

The perfect way to start the weekend.

In the Middle East our weeks run from Sunday – Thursday, so as yesterday was my Friday night, and Benj promised to cook and show you all my favourite meal ever…

Nom nom nom! Its vegan enchiladas!

Ok, so this is a bit of a long recipe, but trust me.. Its worth it.

Not only will you have TWO lots of enchiladas, meaning you can freeze one lot for a rainy day and save cooking it again. (I think thats a basic – cook one get one free) BUT! You’ll have the tastiest, warmest, happiest meal you’ve had in a long time.

So get cooking, pick a good movie and fill your belly with happiness.

Basically you need to make a chilli – a refried bean sauce – and a vegan cheese sauce for this recipe so bear with me!

Ingredients for the Chilli:

1 large red onion,
Oil – to cook with,
Red large Chillies – we used two as I don’t like it that spicy!
Two thirds of a bottle of Corona (if you don’t drink Alcohol replace with a cup of coke – 200-250ml but don’t add the sugar!)
1 teaspoon of sugar,
1 tin of red kidney beans, white beans and chick peas,
2 peppers,
2 tablespoons tomato paste,
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon,
A good shake of Chipotle or hot sauce,
1 tablespoon Cumin,
Salt and pepper – to taste.

To a large saucepan, put on a high heat and add enough oil to cover the base, chuck in your chopped onions, but only cook them until they are soft – not caramelised.

Slice your chillies, (take out the seeds unless you like it nice and spicy!) add to pan and cook. Then slice and add your peppers.

Once softened, add tomato paste and stir, add corona and cook on a high heat until reduced by one third. (Takes 5’ish minutes)

Wash your beans (ooooo errrr) add to pot, then add the sugar, cinnamon, chipotle and cumin. Stir well, cover and turn down to a low heat to continue cooking until it thickens (remember to come back and stir occasionally to avoid your chilli burning to the bottom of the pan!)

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Now make your refried beans, They don’t look the tastiest, but they’re a perfect gooey filling for this hearty dish and full of fibre.

Refried bean filling:

2 x cans of vegetarian refried beans,
One third of the corona from the chilli (if you don’t drink skip this step)
1 level tablespoon cumin

Add refried beans to a saucepan, with the corona and cumin, stir well until cooked through.

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DONE! Easy peasy!

Vegan Cheese:

Vegetable oil,
Flour,
Salt.

This is basically just an over salted vegan roux sauce, but the texture and taste is perfect on vegan pizzas, pasta bakes and these enchiladas.

In a small pan, pour in enough vegetable oil to coat the base and fill by about 1/2 a cm.

Heat gently, then add 15-20g flour and stir on the heat until it forms a liquid.

Add soy milk (add a little bit at a time) and stir until the mixture is the right thickness for you and it no longer just taste like flour.

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Add salt to taste – we always over salt (1 tablespoon) to get that salty cheesy taste.

Please note – the thicker it is the more it browns when baked in the oven. I think it’s best when it’s the texture of a cake mixture.

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Thats the cooking done! Now its time to put it all together.

Add a thick line of your refried beans in the middle of a tortilla wrap,

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roll it up into a parcel,

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And put in a oven proof dish,

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Continue with tortillas until your dish is full. This recipe will fill two medium over prof dishes (or a dish that will fit four rolled tortillas in)

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Add a generous helping of chilli over the top.

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Then your cheese….

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Put in the oven to bake on a medium heat for 20 minutes – until your cheese looks like this:

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Then enjoy!

For the whole Mexican hog, serve with onion rings and tortillas.

Put silver foil over the spare enchiladas and put in the freezer. This dish is OK to leave in the freezer for around a month.

Make sure you defrost the enchiladas for around 6-9 hours in the fridge before reheating in the oven.

So there you go. Yummy enchiladas! X

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