1. New word: carnism, and how eating animals is a social conditioning.
2. You can very easily get caught out when you are rushing around town, with no time for lunch and need a quick bite. A healthy looking fruit and nut bar and a green juice? Sounds good, until half way through the bar you turn over the packaging and discover skimmed milk powder in the list of ingredients. Why? What does milk powder have to do with dried fruits and nuts?
3.Ginger Nut biscuits are vegan – hurrah. They were my late mum’s favourite, so I think about mum now when I rip open the orange wrapping (her favourite colour) and tip them in the biscuit tin. I like to dip them in Red Bush tea at various times of the day. They do contain palm oil, though – that’s a nasty I would like to be avoiding.
4. I am not very good at making hummus. I thought it would be easy but I didn’t get the texture right nor the balance of lemon and garlic. Better luck next week.
5. Best soup of the week: Roasted carrots from the veg box, with cumin seeds and lemon. Blitz with stock. Delicious.
Every other week the veg box man arrives with a box of organic goodies. There is always a small bag of potatoes but otherwise it is a pot luck of fruit and veg. This week I am going to do something different with the contents. The tomatoes are not looking all that sweet and juicy so they will get roasted with herbs and then blitzed into a pasta sauce, maybe with some red pepper that I know is in the fridge. The tight ball of savoy cabbage I will divide between something hot with a balsamic dressing, and a fresh crunchy slaw. The carrots would work in that too although I fancy roasting them with lemon and cumin and then making a soup. The oranges and clementines, well if they are sweet I’d rather eat them fresh, if not I will poach them and use them for a vegan cake at the weekend
That leaves the potatoes, swede and bananas. For the first I fancy making a warm potato salad, maybe with rocket and capers (see Jamie Oliver), the second will go with lentils and coconut milk to make a daal, and the bananas?As the box comes with some recipe cards, the bananas will be rescued from their usual fate of being sliced into porridge and instead will experience the destiny that is Banana Pickle – a new idea on me.
1. Most common question from curious friends: “Don’t you get hungry?” I suspect when I say plant-based diet they think I am chewing the cud from dawn till dusk in an effort to keep up my calorie intake. I need to invite them to dinner.
2. Carbs, fats and sweet things can be vegan – so when nerves are raw and comfort eating is needed there is no need to feel stranded with a bag of leaves (see above). Vegans do eat cake.
3. Planning. Not just being sure of the basics in the cupboard, fridge and freezer, but browsing recipes in advance of shopping rather than half an hour before cooking, and getting ahead of myself with baking, sprouting and soaking cashews (more on that in another post).
4. Lapses are not the end of the world. They’re just old habits sitting in the exit lounge waiting for their plane out of here. They probably have a lot to tell me if I take a moment to sit down and enquire.
5. Best soup of the week: a sort of spicy parsnip combo. Basically, sweat till sweet some onion, add a teaspoon of curry paste, add chopped parsnips, stir to coat. Add stock and coconut milk. Simmer till parsnips are soft. Cool. Blitz. Bon appetit.
I like smoothies. I like the smoothness of smoothies. They are thick and full of unctuous goodness, but I have to say I don’t especially enjoy smoothies in the winter. Spring and summer, yes. Blitzing chilled fruits to make glassfuls of bright, colourful nourishment is a pleasure. The night before, I just decide on a colour and pick ingredients from the freezer: mangos and apricots for an orange blast, berries and kale for crimson deliciousness. I then get busy in the morning, slightly tense it has to be said, as I press the blender on-switch for fear of waking the rest of the house. I did also succumb last year to adding ingredients that are meant to be good for me like baobab powder, but I am not sure exactly why and if they have made any difference to my overall well-being. Something to examine.
Anyway, extras aside, it concerned me for a time that I might not be getting all the right vitamins and colour in the winter, until I realised that my soups are my winter smoothies. It’s pretty much the same process except I have to cook the veg in some way before blitzing rather than extract it from the freezer. I get my orange blast from sweet potato and pear, my crimson deliciousness from beetroots with herbs and horseradish. This also stacks up with the feeling that I am eating with the seasons, cooling summer smoothies; warming winter soups. Just makes so much sense.
1. Olive oil solidifies enough in the fridge to be spreadable on toast or fresh bread. Pure and tastes fantastic.
2. Avocado also spreads well and with a few drops of balsamic vinegar* has revived occasional breakfasts from the usual go-to winter porridge sweetness.
3. Shock, horror, I don’t need digestive biscuits with tea. If I need a snack at eleven, I take one of the homemade “energy” balls from the fridge. I make them from whatever nuts and fruits are in the cupboard. Bind the mixture with coconut oil and nut butter. Then roll in desiccated coconut. It does the trick beautifully.
4. Check labels on what seem to be obvious veggie/vegan products and don’t assume a vegetable soup is veggie let alone vegan! The take-home? Make more soup and store in trendy kilner jars in the fridge and/or freeze.
5. Miso is back on the menu, not quite daily. Best combo this week: leftover sweet potato blitzed with veggie stock and chopped fresh ginger. Add miso (made into paste first). Garnish with chopped spring onions. Quick and yummy
*balsamic vinegar is a fermented grape product, is it vegan? I do hope so.
Years ago I was fortunate enough to start yoga classes with an Australian teacher, Karyn Chapman, who was studying Alexander Technique in London. Her place of study was the then East West Centre in Old Street (now the Open Centre), the home of Macrobiotic cooking in the UK. My life was opened up to the world of Iyengar Yoga in the 1980s and it eventually took me travelling to Australia myself where I trained to teach with the late, great Martyn Jackson.
Anyway, yoga reminiscences aside, Karyn also invited me into the world of Macrobiotics: the seasonal plate, the balance of grains, pulses, veg and sea greens, and one of the pleasures that I always forget that I love, the intense umami goodness of a bowl of miso soup. You can get a cup of miso in Prets and Yo Sushi (although the former I now discover contains fish stock), and even Jamie Oliver has a recipe, so the pleasure is commonplace, but why I got out of the habit of supping on a daily dish I am not sure. So, time to get the paste out of the cupboard, prepare some wakame, spring onions and silken tofu and enjoy the reviving flavour of magic miso a bit more often.