Wednesday, February 3, 2016

In my kitchen - February 2016

I am linking this in to the monthly In My Kitchen event, hosted by Maureen of The Orgasmic Chef.

In my kitchen this month, I have a surprising number of coconut products. I've obviously been in a coconut milk phase without even realising it. There are two flavours of the Rebel Kitchen coconut mylk drinks (chocolate and banana), which aren't cheap, but are nice to have in my handbag or on standby in the fridge at work.

My kitchen has also housed my favourite coconut yoghurt, the chocolate flavour by CoYo. It is delicious and very satisfying. 

To round out the coconut products. Tesco have a new coconut rice pudding with strawberry puree. I like it a lot, and also like that the puddings come in sturdy plastic tubs that are good enough to wash and re-use.

Another new and exciting product is vegan Quorn pieces, which some of you may have seen me mention on Facebook. I've been waiting for the vegan Quorn range for months and this is the first product I've seen. I love the pieces, which mimic chicken in texture exactly, and from memory taste pretty similar to it too. I've used them in a tomato-based spaghetti dish and had some plain with soy sauce (they're that good!).

Also in my kitchen, as well as elsewhere in the house, are new books. By 'new' I mean 'second hand'; my grandparents are trying to downscale their belongings and I visited on the weekend and took some 60+ books away with me.

Our bookshelves are now at capacity, but we're delighted with the new reading material, and it's a bonus to have these books linked with my grandparents.

In my kitchen there have been several melons. I seem to be in a melon phase - honeydew and cantaloupe are featuring regularly.

Last but not least, in my kitchen there have been English muffins with marmalade. Joey of Flicking the V's mentioned eating them in one of her recent posts, and it sparked off a major craving in me. They're delicious.

What is happening in your kitchen this month?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mexican couscous bowl

I'm not sure how a week has passed since I last sat down and opened Blogger. 2016 is certainly proving to be another year where time flies by. It's also hard to believe we're at the end of January!

I was pleased this week to find the time to make vegan lamingtons, in honour of Australia Day last Tuesday. I took a large plate of them to work and they disappeared in a startling fashion. I think I've converted more than a few Londoners to the delights of lamingtons.

With busy days and often long ones too, I've been glad of more easy meals (let's face it, I'm always glad of easy meals). You can make this couscous bowl in hardly any time and it will fuel you through whatever the day throws at you. Unlike most of my bowls, the bulk of the vegetables come separately - mix up a green salad to pair on the side - but you'll still be taking in a mix of vegetables, protein and carbohydrate with every mouthful.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

M&S-style nutty super wholefood salad

I mentioned in my last post that my favourite Marks and Spencer salad is their nutty super wholefood salad. Featuring green beans, peas, broccoli, carrots, black-eyed beans and quinoa plus peanuts, almonds and pistachios, it is absolutely packed with delicious ingredients. A dollop of hummous and a soy and ginger dressing finish the everything off.

Whilst I have no qualms about buying prepared salads on occasion, it's obviously nice to make them at home when possible. It saves money, for one, but it also allows you to customise ingredients and portions - and make up a batch to cover lunches for several days if you're so inclined. With salads like this one, it's also a good way to use up leftover grains or vegetables.

There are a few takes on this M&S salad online already, some following it extremely closely and others using it as a springboard for inspiration. My version is somewhere in between. Like the M&S original, my salad featured green beans, peas, broccoli, quinoa, almonds, hummous and a soy and ginger dressing. I omitted the carrots, black-eyed beans, peanuts and pistachios, but added butter beans, pecans and brown basmati rice (a half-half mix with the quinoa because I had some already cooked). In truth, small beans (black-eyed or otherwise) are probably better suited to this than butter beans, but you can use whatever you have to hand.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Vegan eating at Waterloo train station

If you are going to be stranded at one of London's major train stations, and you are keen on vegan food, then I can recommend London Waterloo. One of my routes to work travels through the Waterloo East / Waterloo terminus and it is a very handy spot for picking up lunch or evening snacks. As I now live quite far out of London, there are also times I want something substantial to eat on my train ride home. Whatever the situation, Waterloo can provide. (And if you really are stuck there for a while, there is a branch of Foyle's Bookstore to browse too.)

BootsOne of my favourite take-away food options is the Boots meal deal, based around their vegan hummus, carrot and coriander sandwich on tomato bread. It is probably my favourite commercial sandwich and whilst in theory I can make it at home, Boots does it so well that my efforts don't quite match up!

You can buy the sandwich on its own for £2.50, but for £3.49 you can get the sandwich, a snack and a drink. In an example of good marketing I tend do that when I'm making a purchase. There are heaps of vegan snack options, including Clif bars, Trek bars, Naked bars, crisps, popcorn, dried fruit and nuts, and also fresh fruit. Their sugar free jelly is also vegan and I like that on occasion.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Vegan orange hot chocolate, for snowy weather

Last night brought our first real snow of the winter. It is still not particularly heavy - it is rare for snow to be heavy in south-east England - but it is more than the light scattering we had in early December.

After exploring the snow in many layers of running gear, it seemed like the sort of day for hot chocolate. I rarely make or drink hot chocolate, not because I don't like it, but because usually I am just as happy with tea. However, with all the seasonal hot drinks advertised across winter, the idea of an orange hot chocolate lodged in my mind some time ago. Today the idea turned to reality.

I made this using three forms of chocolate (!), which, if you can do it, I recommend: dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and the orange flavoured sugar-free Choc Shot syrup. I am a little abashed to be mentioning Choc Shot again, but it is such a useful product that I do use it an awful lot. I ought to get some sort of sponsorship deal with the company. However, if you don't have access to the syrup I am listing a way to make this without it. My orange flavour came primarily from grated orange zest, but you could use orange extract / essence if that is easier.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Vegan protein-packed almond pancakes with berries and chocolate sauce

I make no secret of loving carbohydrates. I am fortunate not to have difficulties with wheat or gluten, I don't fear the fullness that comes with eating a bowl of pasta, and I find that carbohydrates give me steady energy that supports running, working and playing. At the same time, as a vegan, I am aware that it is easy to eat lots of carbohydrates and not necessarily enough protein. (Actually, I suspect that applies to meat eaters too, given the steady stream of processed carbohydrates available to us.)

Welcome, protein pancakes.