Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Vegan freezer-friendly meals - A round-up

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It is 6 weeks today until I return to work from maternity leave. As you might imagine, I have mixed feelings about that, but they are not the subject of today's post. Rather, I thought I would share a round-up of vegan make ahead, freezer friendly meals. There are similar round-ups out there so this one has the idiosyncratic quirk of including meals I personally want to make! Consequently, this is also a short-ish round-up because I want to make all of the recipe I list below over the next month and a half. Angela shares a particularly useful summary of freezable vegan options, plus general freezing tips, on Oh She Glows if you would like further ideas.

The list below mostly has recipes from elsewhere, but I'm including a few links from Bite-Sized Thoughts too. As I've mentioned before, I tend to forget about my own recipes so this will prompt me to re-make some of my own tried and tested, and likely freezer-friendly, dinners.

I would love to hear your favourite freezable dishes too so please let me know if there are recipes you would recommend!

Cocoa and paprika split peas

Cocoa and paprika split peas from Bite-Sized Thoughts


Lentil meatloaf from The Live In Kitchen (made in muffin pans!)

Satay chickpea stew with grains from Bite-Sized Thoughts

Singapore street noodles from Once a Month Meals

Thai curry fettuccine from Vegan in the Freezer

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Orange hemp energy balls

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It has been a long time between hemp seed recipes. Indeed, it has been a long time since I have had hemp seeds in my kitchen. I am pleased to have a bag on the go again now and suspect you will see more recipes featuring the seeds before too long.

I like hemp seeds for lots of reasons, including, if I'm honest, their amusing hippy connotations. I feel a bit like I should be living in a commune and wearing tie dyed clothes when I use them. They are also from the same species as cannabis and so (to a closeted, non-adventurous soul) it feels rather daring to pick them up in a local store. Those points aside, hemp seeds are fantastically nutritious - rich in healthy fats, protein, iron, and a whole host of vitamins and minerals. They also have a nutty, earthy flavour that I very much enjoy.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Easy lentil, spinach and tomato puff pastry triangles

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I have previously posted a recipe for Indian-spiced lentil and vegetable pastry puffs. Today's post is basically a simpler and quicker version of that recipe. These lentil-filled triangles are not as extensively flavoured as their Indian counterparts but they are still very enjoyable.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cookbook review + recipe: Earl Grey and Strawberry Granola from Heather Crosby's YumUniverse Pantry to Plate

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I was provided with a copy of YumUniverse Pantry To Plate: Improvise Meals You Love – from What You Have in order to write this review. My opinions are my own.

I think we can all agree that there are a lot of cookbooks out there. What's more, many of us don't use the ones we have - especially if you are like me and struggle to follow recipes exactly. I will bookmark recipes in my cookbooks with the best of intentions, but even if I do make them (and often I don't!), I tend to adapt the recipe and use it for inspiration rather than as a step-by-step guide. In this context, I am truly delighted to share today's cookbook review. Heather Crosby has developed a novel "recipe playbook" that is perfectly suited to those of us who like to mix and match recipe ideas.

© Heather Crosby, 2017

YumUniverse Pantry To Plate: Improvise Meals You Love – from What You Have is a plant-based, gluten-free guide that provides 30 recipe templates as well as specific recipe examples. For example, Heather outlines the wet, dry and add-in ingredients you can combine to make breakfast cookies and then offers two specific cookie recipes for inspiration (Banana Chocolate Chip and Pumpkin-Pecan). In total, there are nearly 100 recipes to go with the 30 templates, across the following categories:

  • Breakfast scrambles
  • Granola
  • Pancakes and waffles
  • Muffins
  • Warm cereals
  • Breakfast cookies
  • Compotes and fruit butters
  • Coconut yogurt
  • Dairy free milks
  • Crackers
  • Amazeballs
  • Probiotic cream cheese
  • Dips and spreads
  • Crunchies (like roasted chickpeas)
  • Fermented veggies
  • Bites and tots
  • Veggie fries
  • Soups
  • Cheesy comfort food
  • Epic salads
  • Mmmaki (sushi rolls)
  • Tacos and wraps
  • 'Banzo bakes
  • Veggie burgers
  • Hand pies
  • Cookies
  • Nice crispy bars
  • Sneaky brownies
  • Nice cream
  • Crisps and crumbles


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mini avocado hot cakes

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These mini hot cakes were inspired by my avocado scones with hemp seeds. They could also be called savoury pikelets (if you're Australian) or drop scones (if you're British) or just mini pancakes. Whatever you call them they are an easy and portable savoury snack or meal accompaniment.


I would have liked these to be greener but the avocado didn't give a discernible colour. In truth, it doesn't provide a strong flavour either, although you will know it is in there. Similarly, you can just about detect the other ingredients (chia seeds, nutritional yeast, tomato paste) but none of them are heavily present. I liked this as the result was a background of flavours rather than a single dominant taste. It also means you could spread these with toppings or serve them alongside a stew or soup if you so wished.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Mexican spiced roast potato and aubergine

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I rarely post side dish recipes, for the simple reason that I rarely make them. I tend to include vegetables within dishes or prepare them very simply if served on the side (unless we are entertaining, but we rarely do that either!). Sometimes, though, I do make a specific vegetable side dish and today's is an example.


This is not the most attractive dish, but it is a tasty one. It's also not strongly Mexican but the use of paprika and dried coriander conjured up, to me, Mexican flavours. Nutritional yeast and tahini round out the flavour mix. If you were to make this truly Mexican, some chillies would be a pleasing addition.

I cheated a little with my cooking of the potato, microwaving it first before chopping and roasting. This cuts down on cooking time enormously and gives the potato a pleasing fluffy texture. If you prefer to cook fully in the oven just add extra time to the roasting stage - at least 30 minutes, or longer if using large pieces of potato.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In my kitchen - May 2017

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I am linking this in to the monthly In My Kitchen round-up, now hosted by Sherry of Sherry's Pickings.


Despite the above photo, in my kitchen there are no more spring flowers. I was delighted to grow tulips for the first time this year, but they are finished and local daffodils are looking rather tired. We are fortunate to have lots of bluebells flowering near us, but it seems spring bulbs flower earlier each year and so finish before spring is over.

My In My Kitchen posts often feature novel products or treat items, and so I thought I'd share an insight into my 'normal' products this month. As the photo below shows, we are not one to have an empty fridge (!) and at any given time there will be several Tupperware-style containers filled with leftovers or washed fruit.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Zucchini noodles with orange and cashews

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I was recently browsing my own Recipes page and was surprised to see, first, just how many recipes are on there (well over 200!) and, second, how many dishes I have made, loved, and then not made again. My various courgette / zucchini noodle dishes are a case in point. Whilst I haven't recreated one of them here, I was inspired to pull my spiralizer out again and make a new zucchini noodle dish to match the spring weather.


This salad is dominated, in a good way, by orange. It features an orange-soy-ginger dressing as well as orange segments. A scattering of cashews rounds out the dish and I also included tofu (ginger flavoured for good measure) that I enjoyed in the mix. If you left the tofu off this would be a nice side dish but with it you can easily consume the salad as a main meal.

My tofu was the new-ish sweet ginger tofu made by Cauldron foods. If you aren't in the UK or don't have access to that, any marinated tofu would work, although one that compliments an orange-soy-ginger dressing would obviously be best.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Make ahead blueberry chia and coconut oats

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It has been a busy week in the Bite-Sized Thoughts household. My mother-in-law is visiting from Australia and we have enjoyed introducing her to Mini Bite. Mr Bite has taken the week off work to enjoy her company, and I took advantage of that to have a 'keeping in touch' day at work on Wednesday. It was the second time I'd left Mini Bite for more than an hour or so and I'm pleased to report that all went well - for her and for me. It was also rather lovely to have a day of adult company, complete with baby-free train rides into and out of my workplace. Reading a book with a cup of coffee never felt so good.


If you have a similarly busy schedule, this blueberry oat mix is a useful way to make a breakfast (or snack) option ahead of time. It is also adaptable and with a few small tweaks you could turn the recipe into one for blueberry oat balls instead - just omit the milk and use a little more oats to give a sturdier texture.

This does use a food processor and you may be wondering why you would bother with that when freshly made oats and blueberries provide a delicious combination without any meddling. Simply put, this is delicious in a different way. The blended mix is pudding-like and reminiscent of bircher muesli. It is also thick, easily portable, and (or course) can be made well in advance.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Vegan Life Magazine - issue 26 {April 2017}

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I receive complimentary digital copies of Vegan Life, which allows me to post reviews with screenshots included. My reflections on the magazine are entirely my own.


This month's Vegan Life edition is jam packed with recipes I am keen to make. I often admire the ideas shared, but this month is particularly full of inspiration!

To start with savoury, I love the sound of these roasted vegetables with a lemon tarragon sauce. I imagine the sauce would make a delicious marinade for tofu too.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Banana, carrot and sultana mini muffins {vegan, no added sugar + non fat}

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I was hesitant to put 'fat free' and 'sugar free' in the title of this post, because those labels may conjure up images of bland, flavourless muffins. The texture of fat free baked goods is often different too. However, these muffins are fully flavoured and beautifully textured. The use of lots of bananas and natural sugars simply removes the need for added fat or sugar. (For the sticklers among you, there is some fat in the oat milk and oats.)


I recently had lots of bananas to use up, thanks to my clumsiness when unpacking shopping and a bag of bananas being dropped on the floor. They all went a bit mushy and prematurely brown - good for freezing, smoothies and baking but not so good for eating in their natural state. These muffins used 3 of the bunch so they are good and banana-y!

Whilst I made these as mini muffins, you could, of course, make regular sized ones instead. Just increase the cooking time accordingly (adding 5-10 minutes at an estimation).

Friday, April 14, 2017

A carob recipe round-up {vegan}

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I know, I know - if you aren't a fan of carob, you will be wrinkling your nose at this post (or skipping it altogether!). Carob is one of those products that seems to divide people into love/hate categories. Personally, as this post highlights, I adore the stuff. I have my mother to thank for this, as she gave us carob as children when trying to ration our chocolate intake. I love chocolate too but carob has a firm place in my heart alongside it.

Hazelnut and cherry carob cookies

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Herby lemon and pea fritters

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At the risk of tooting my own horn, I am rather proud of these fritters. I made them on a whim, without a recipe, and surprised myself with how well they turned out. They taste of spring: fresh, lemon-y, light yet satisfying, and a little bit fluffy.


These take some of my staple ingredients (like besan flour and chia seeds) and give them a new twist, thanks to the lemon and fresh basil and parsley. The fritters come together quickly and make an easy meal if paired with salad. 

I used mashed sweet potato in these, but in future I would probably use regular potato. You can't really detect the sweet potato flavour and potato seems a better match for the other ingredients. However, either would work and you could even try mashed squash or celeriac.


I think these are best warm from the pan, but they will also keep for a few days in the refrigerator and are enjoyable cold or reheated.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sweet potato and spinach nuggets

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'Tater tots' are one of those American products that I have heard of for many years without quite knowing what they are. (Other examples, although I set these ones to rest when I visited America a few years back, include graham crackers and Twinkies.) It turns out, according to Wikipedia, that they are "pieces of deep fried, grated potatoes". I am saying all of this because I adapted today's recipe from these spinach sweet potato tater tots on Physical Kitchness. I could have called my adaptation tater tots too, but as I am such a novice to the term and these don't feature frying or grated potato, I am using the more generic 'nugget' instead.


Terminology aside, these are delicious whatever you choose to call them. Since making them the first time, I have done a repeat batch with kale instead of spinach and they were just as good. They are a very easy side dish and, if you have children, perfect for little hands to grasp.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Loving this week {April 2017}

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It has been too long between these posts. To make up for lost time, here are six things that I am loving at the moment...


1. Spring scenes. I think Spring may be my favourite English season. It is certainly glorious at the moment, with blue skies, sunshine and flowers everywhere. I am delighted to have flowers re-blossoming on my apple tree and tulips growing in my garden.


The longer daylight hours are wonderful too - the photo below was taken at 7.50pm!


Monday, April 3, 2017

In my kitchen - April 2017

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I am linking this in to the monthly In My Kitchen round up, currently hosted by Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things.

Another month and another peak into my kitchen, thanks to the fun round-up currently hosted by Bizzy Lizzy.

It is officially spring in the UK and with the warmer weather comes an embarrassing amount of ice cream in my freezer. No, really, a truly embarrassing amount:


In my defense, all of the above items were new-to-me options that were dangled in front of me by Ocado. In an example of good marketing, Ocado offered me 3 months of free home grocery deliveries and, like a good consumer, I have made multiple orders that I otherwise wouldn't have done. (To non-UK readers, Ocado is an online grocery chain that offers lots of gourmet and vegan items.) I love all of the above ice creams, although the two Fry's tubs are not very sweet and Mr Bite was not a fan.

In addition to new ice cream flavours, the Fry's company have released some new frozen savoury items. I loved their stir fry strips made from rice protein and chia seeds (you can't detect either in the flavour, which is of rosemary and sage) and also enjoyed their Asian spiced burgers. Both are very faux meat-y and so aren't something I'd eat too regularly, but as faux meat products go they are excellent.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Coconut rough chocolates

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Easter is on the horizon and with my love of chocolate, that provides a good excuse to indulge in chocolate making. I got in early with sharing my vegan creme bunnies / creme eggs and today's recipe provides an alternative Easter treat that would also go down well at other times of the year.


These chocolates were inspired by my recent discovery of the Waitrose dairy free Indian Ocean Dark Chocolate with Coconut. I mentioned in my March In My Kitchen post that the chocolate reminds me of a Golden Rough, but without the crunchy texture. (For non-Australians, a Golden Rough is a round milk chocolate disk studded with desiccated coconut.) Today's chocolates blend the crunchy texture of a Golden Rough with the dark chocolate tones I favour as an adult. The use of coconut oil adds an extra coconut tone and means that these are very easy to make.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Banana chia coconut bread

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I will say upfront that I didn't expect to share this recipe. I made it on a whim, to use up bananas and some of my recent fig paste. Even by my standards it is very minimally sweetened. I hoped it would be suitable for Mini Bite and edible, but not necessarily exciting, for me. In the end, I loved the bread so much that I hastily scribbled down the recipe so I could post it here.


The star of this bread is not the banana or coconut, and in fact neither are a strong presence in the loaf. Instead, it is the chia seeds that make this wonderful, giving the loaf a fantastic texture and reminding me of poppy seed cakes. I will definitely be baking more chia loaded breads now!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Lentil potato cakes (version 2)

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I have shared a recipe for lentil potato cakes before. This one makes a few tweaks to the original and offers much better photos! I am pleased to update my Recipe index with this new version.


My previous recipe involved cooking the cakes on the stove top in a frying pan. This version bakes them in the oven instead, which frees you up to do other things while the patties are cooking. I also used dried green lentils for these, although if you prefer the tinned variety it would be easy to swap back to using a tin. Dried red lentils would be nice too.

The potato cakes are seasoned with nutritional yeast, paprika, coriander, parsley, lemon and tahini. Most of these are regular seasonings in my kitchen and they come together beautifully here. The patties work well on top of salad but could be included in a burger for an even heartier meal. They are complemented nicely by chutney or tomato sauce, but will stand up on their own if you are condiment averse.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Satay chickpea stew with grains

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This recipe is really an adaptation of Angela's Oh She Glows 'Soul Soothing African Peanut Stew'. I mentioned last November that I had tried and enjoyed that dish, and realised on making this that I was channeling Angela's flavours. My version is a little simpler than the hers though, and is designed to be served with grains rather than as a stand alone meal. I liked it a lot and am documenting it for my own future reference as well as to share with you!


To me, meals like this are the ultimate comfort food. As is obvious from this site, I love chocolate and desserts and they are comforting too in their own ways. However, there is something warming and comforting about a big bowl of full-flavoured vegetables and grains. It's like a wholesome hug.

I used tinned chickpeas for this, in part from laziness and in part because I wanted to use chickpea water to thicken the stew. If you cook yours from scratch, just reserve a little of the cooking water to add to the mix.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Life with a 7-month-old, baby led weaning, and four adult and baby friendly recipes

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I have noted before that I have no intention of moving Bite-Sized Thoughts to a baby or family-focused site. However, it has been 4 months since my last baby-related post and much has changed since then. I thought I would share some updated reflections, as well as experiences to date with baby led weaning. For those of you who aren't interested in either topic, I also share four recipes that would suit adults and babies equally well - porridge fingers, carrot-chickpea mini pancakes, chickpea scramble with turmeric and paprika, and a simple avocado salsa. Simply scroll to the end if you want to skip ahead to those!

Chickpea scramble

In November, I spoke of the enormous adjustment that pregnancy and parenthood had required. My expectations of both were completely off and I will readily admit that the first three months of motherhood were, for me, hard going at times.

Fast forward to March and things look very different. It is probably obvious that life with a 3-month-old (as Mini Bite was in November) is different to life with a 7-month-old, but I didn't understand what those differences would look like until I navigated through them. These days, Mini Bite is a mini person as much as a baby. She is interactive, knows what she does and doesn't like, will smile and giggle, and shows great interest in her surroundings. I find the days infinitely more enjoyable now that this is the case - we are no longer in a loop of feeding, changing and settling with little feedback from her except basic cries. I take genuine delight in her laughs and smiles. We have a structure to our week, with most mornings featuring an activity (baby swimming lessons, parent/baby groups, parent/baby fitness classes...) and this makes a difference too.

Courgette noodles with avocado salsa 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Figgy banana soft serve parfaits

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Today is one of England's glorious spring days. The sunshine is warm (but not too warm!), spring flowers are out, the sky is blue, and I am consciously and joyously grateful that we live where we live. It is a good day to be outside, and consequently, a good day to be on maternity leave and not in an office.


I can't share our weather with you, but I can share this easy ice cream recipe that will help you herald in your own spring sunshine. If you are in the southern hemisphere, it can help you cling on to summer instead!


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Scenes from Somerset

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We have just returned from a week in Somerset. It's a part of the country I hadn't visited before, but it proved to be a delightful one. Tucked into a south-west corner of England with the Bristol Channel to the north and Devon and Cornwall to the south, the county has gorgeous scenery and plenty to see and do. We were fortunate to have (mostly) spring-like weather, which facilitated lots of walking and outdoor exploring. I share some photo highlights below...

Typical Somerset scenery

The Tarr Steps clapper bridge

Walking near the Tarr Steps

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Vegan Life Magazine - issues 23 and 24 (February and March 2017)

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I receive complimentary digital copies of Vegan Life, which allows me to post reviews with screenshots included. My reflections on the magazine are entirely my own.


I always enjoy downloading the latest copy of Vegan Life and am pleased to share highlights from the last two editions. Back in February, I was inspired by a mushroom twist on Vietnamese Banh Mi...


...as well as this recipe for apple bircher muesli with spelt and rye flakes as well as oats.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Sweet potato overnight oats

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Some of you may have seen recent findings that link 10 serves of fruit and vegetables a day to reduced rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as overall mortality. The current UK guidelines advocate 5 serves a day and that level offers protection too - but 10 gives significantly greater benefits.


There have been predictable responses to these results, including comments about it being too hard to achieve a 10 per day intake, and I enjoyed this lighthearted Guardian commentary on the topic. I grew up with the Australian recommendation of 5 vegetable and 2 fruit serves a day, so 10 of both food groups isn't such a shift for me, especially as plant-based eating naturally gives a higher intake than meat-based diets. However, it can be tough to get enough serves in when you're busy and/or if buying food on the go. Thus, getting off to a good start at breakfast can make a big difference.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In my kitchen - March 2017

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I am linking this in to the monthly In My Kitchen round up, currently hosted by Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things.

Spring flowers - visible from my kitchen

Happy autumn to my Australian readers. We have a few weeks until spring officially starts in the UK, but it is starting to feel spring-like as the days grow longer and spring flowers start to appear. Indeed, some are visible from my kitchen, thanks to the bulbs I planted last year starting to sprout.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pecan pie squares

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I am surprised to see that nearly a week has passed since my last post. Alas, our household has been ill again this week and it seems that illness affects one's sense of time. We have had a poor winter when it comes to bugs. I had hoped that child-related illnesses would be held at bay until Mini Bite was a bit older, but I suspect our baby groups and activities are a hotbed for germs. Hopefully all of this exposure will be good for our immune systems in the long run!


Fortunately, these pecan pie squares are easy to whip up even if you aren't feeling entirely well. I actually planned to title them 'fruity pecan squares' as it seemed unlikely they would actually taste of pecan pie - and yet, somehow, they do. With a simple, whole food ingredient list they make for excellent snacking.

The topping for these is made from mixed dried fruit - the type that comes with multiple fruit varieties in the one bag. Mine had roughly equal parts of dried pears, dried apricots and prunes. I imagine different mixes would work just as well, with associated variations in flavour profile..


Monday, February 20, 2017

Vegan creme bunnies (or eggs)

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With time whizzing by, Easter is on the horizon again. We have had mild sunny weather in the UK this week and so spring is on the horizon too. It is a nice time of year. It is also a time of year for chocolate (although, for me, any time of year is a time of year for chocolate!). 


Lest you think I am impressively organised with an Easter post, I will say upfront that I am actually very disorganised. You see, I made these creme bunnies last Easter but didn't have time to post them before Easter Sunday. They were so enjoyable that I saved the recipe and pictures in a draft post, and so, nearly 12 months later, I can share them with you now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Triple chickpea stack

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I had such fun making and naming this dish. There is something about three layers of chickpeas, in three different forms, that appeals to my kitchen creativity. If the photos don't immediately give it away, the three forms here are chickpea flour (besan flour) pancakes, whole chickpeas, and hummus.


This can be as easy or complicated as your life permits. I cooked chickpeas from dry and made the hummus myself, but then took a short cut with ratatouille and used a commercial tin for that. If you needed a meal in a hurry, you could use tinned chickpeas and store bought hummus; if you are more organised than I was you could whip of ratatouille yourself.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Blueberry and sweet potato mug cake {vegan + fat free}

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Mug cakes are excellent for when time is short and/or you want cake in a hurry. They are also handy for making single serve treats and, in this case, using up small amounts of leftover ingredients. I don't really need help with using sweet potato or blueberries - both are foods I'll happily snack on plain - but they are given a boost in this easy recipe.


In truth, this should probably be called a mug pudding as the texture is softer than a traditional cake. With a third of a cup of sweet potato in the mix that is perhaps not surprising. Happily, as you will eat this from the mug with a spoon, a pudding-like texture presents no problems.

This is not overly sweet, which allows the natural sweetness of the sweet potato and blueberries to shine through. However, it would be easy to increase the added sugar if you so desire. As I made it, this could almost be served for breakfast, which I think is a winning outcome.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mango chutney roast cauliflower and broccoli

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From mango cookie balls we move to mango roast vegetables! In truth, I made these recipes a few weeks apart but my blogging places them in rather closer proximity.


With thinking about starter foods for Mini Bite, I have had broccoli and cauliflower on my mind lately. This particular recipe is not very baby friendly, but it is a delicious way to boost your intake of the vegetables. Indeed, this reminds me that I don't roast cauliflower and broccoli often enough as they are delicious with an oven-lent crisp.