Something for the Weekend – Pineapple Sunshine Deepcrust Pizza

When the sun’s shining, June has got to be the most glorious month of the year in England, don’t you think? The countryside is lush and green, the roses are out in full force, and gardens are a hive of activity.

Roses in June - By the K&A Canal

And after all those months of rain, it’s so refreshing to go out running without an umbrella (yes, I did actually resort to that, much to the amusement of others!) and head out on my beloved bike.

Countryside around Bath

It feels so liberating to travel around on the bike. No queuing in traffic, no waiting for a bus or driving around looking for a parking slot, no expense. Just lots of fresh air, exercise and a chance to take in the beautiful views along the way

Kennet and Avon Canal with Swans - June

Swans and cygnets - K&A Canal - June

I much prefer to take the scenic route into the city centre rather than along the main roads. It only takes a couple of minutes extra, but it’s so worth it. I get to see lots of gorgeous creatures along the way, like these beauties.

Cows and Calves - Bath Countryside

I always give them a wave and often stop to say ‘hi’. They’re very patient with me and this one in particular politely feigns interest in my incessant chatter 😉

Cows in Bathampton

Along with my exercise and travel routines, this time of year, my appetite changes too, and I’m craving lots of fresh salads, fruit smoothies and frappuccinos.

Though my appetite for pizza is year-round, the toppings change to suit the season. To celebrate the arrival of summer, for me, nothing beats our ‘Pineapple Sunshine Deepcrust Pizza’.

PineappleSunshine Deepcrust Pizza (Vegan Style)

This is my vegan take on the classic Hawaiian pizza. The ham’s been removed, and replaced with an array of tasty, sunshine-filled veggies. If you wish, you could sprinkle on some vegan cheese, but these days me and the boys prefer to leave our pizzas cheeseless and let the veggies take centre stage.

Vegan Pineapple Sunshine Deepcrust Pizza

If you’re a subscriber to The Vegan Kind Monthly Subscription Box (TVK), you’ll have spotted this pizza on the June recipe card. It was tucked in with a whole bunch of fab vegan and eco-friendly goodies, including a jar of Mr Organic Italian Sun-dried Tomato Pesto. It was the first time I’d ever tried this brand of pesto and I seriously loved it! It has the most amazing flavour and it works beautifully on the pineapple pizza.

TVK8 Collage

For those of you that don’t receive the TVK box, I thought I’d share our pizza recipe here. I’ve also added some notes about gluten free and speedy options, as well as my vegan cheese recommendations (just in case you still love your pizzas cheesy 😉 )

 

Notes
GF option – I haven’t made a GF pizza myself yet, but ready-made bases/crusts are available to purchase in stores and online. In the UK, the Venice Bakery gluten free pizza bases come highly recommended (I’m looking forward to trying them myself!)

If you wish to add some vegan cheese, I can recommend the Violife brand. It tastes incredibly similar to dairy cheese, yet it’s made with coconut oil! In the UK, you’ll find it in independent health food shops and online.

For a super speedy dinner, we love to make French bread pizzas using a large multigrain baguette or ‘Grand Paysan’ loaf. Roast the veggies for about 15 minutes in a little olive oil. Slice the bread in half and lightly toast on both sides. Spread on the pesto, then pile on the veggies and serve.

What are your favourite things about June?
What kinds of foods are you enjoying right now?

Fresh Vegan Magazine Issue 3 & My Blog’s 3rd Year Anniversary

Wow, is it really June already? I can’t believe how quickly this year’s going! This month is a particularly special one for me… it’s the 3rd anniversary of my blog, it’s my birthday month AND I’ve had my first feature in a magazine!

When I started blogging three years ago, never did I imagine that I would be where I am today. It’s been such a joyful, rewarding process. Without a doubt, the most precious part of blogging has been the opportunities it’s given me to connect with beautiful, compassionate souls across the world (and yes, that most definitely includes you! )

As you may already know, this week saw the launch of Issue 3 of Fresh Vegan magazine. Sporting a fresh summer vibe, this issue is jam-packed with interviews, seasonal recipes, restaurant and product reviews, stunning photography, competitions and much more.

Fresh Vegan June 2014 Issue

Yesterday, I read the magazine from cover to cover and it left me feeling both inspired and humbled…

…inspired by the passion and sheer hard work that the contributors, interviewees and Fresh Vegan team are dedicating to the promotion of compassionate, healthy, planet-friendly lifestyles…

…and humbled by the fact that I’d been invited to contribute to this issue. I still feel such a novice when it comes to recipe development, cooking, blogging, social networking, life in general. I’m still way down there on the learning curve, but I’ll keep plodding away at it. I just feel fortunate to have access to so many amazing role models

In Issue 3 of Fresh Vegan, I share two of my all-time favourite summer recipes: Malaysian Coconut Noodle Soup with Smoked Tofu (my family-friendly plant-based version of the traditional Malay soup Laksa Lemak)

Malaysian Coconut Noodle Soup with Smoked Tofu

and for dessert, Pina Colada Dairy-free ‘Cheese’ Cake. This is one of my favourite desserts ever! It’s a no-bake dessert and so simple to make!

Pina Colada Dairy-free 'Cheese' Cake

For both recipes I’ve given the quantities in grams, ounces and cups so I should have everyone covered, whatever their measuring preferences 😉

Fresh Vegan is available as a PDF download for £3.95. If you fancy taking a sneaky peek before you buy, for a limited period the magazine can be sampled for FREE on ISSUU.

To celebrate me and my blog’s birthdays, I’ve got some fantastic giveaways coming up. The first one will launch next week so keep a look out!

Here’s wishing you all a fabulous June xx

 

Lake District Camping, Mountain Biking & NKT International Buddhist Festival

We last camped three years ago. The three of us spent five nights squashed in my ‘3 man’ tent in the Lake District. It rained a lot, the tent leaked, I woke up to find my pillow was soaking wet and vowed that I would never camp again.

Three years later, here I am again, camping in the Lake District. It wasn’t exactly my preferred choice of accommodation but it was super cheap and all the B&Bs in the area were full (yep, as usual, I left planning to the last minute). 

We borrowed our friend’s slightly bigger tent and pitched it in the middle of a farmer’s field. After a night of relentless rain, I woke up to find that the rain had flooded in on my side of the tent and I was laying in a pool of water. You see, me & camping just don’t get along 🙁

But, despite the less than favourable camping experience, we had a fantastic time in the Lakes. Me & Lil’ L had a very special day at the NKT International Buddhist Festival in Ulverston. Thousands of people from all over the world attended the festival and the atmosphere was incredible. Everyone was so friendly. I never seen so many smiley faces 🙂

A lovely diary of the festival with video clips and photos is available at http://kadampafestivals.org/summer-2012/.

While we were at the festival, M went mountain biking. He had a fantastic day of exhilarating riding and beautiful scenery. 

Here are some of his favourite shots of the day…

When the three of us met up at the end of the day, we were buzzing from our experiences and had lots to chat about over dinner.  For our evening meals, we went to Ambleside which has an array of restaurants and cafes with menu options for vegetarians and vegans.

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 This small town has two highly popular vegetarian/vegan restaurants – Zeffirellis and Fellinis – and we sampled the menus in both.

The food was fantastic, especially in Fellinis. There are three dishes in particular that I’d like to try and re-create at home:
–  Sweet potato, broccoli and lentil sambar served with coriander and lime flatbread
– Chestnut, leek and wild mushroom filled pastry with baby roasted vegetables (Lil’ L loved this)
– Sweet potato and chickpea tagine with lemony couscous

We’re now back in the South where it’s actually been hot and sunny for a couple of days. It’s been perfect weather for the start of the Olympics. Let’s hope it continues!

I hope you’re having a great summer wherever you are. And if you’re camping somewhere in the UK, make sure you don’t forget your waterproofs. Next time I’m going to take waterproof pyjamas. Knowing my luck, I’ll need them 😉

School’s Out! Planning Summer Activities on a Shoe-String Budget

The school summer holidays officially start for us today. I can’t believe that another school year has finished already. These years are flying by!

I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time with Lil’ L over the next six weeks. However, as I’m not working at the moment, I need to make sure that we keep spending to a minimum. 

We did lots of great free/ low cost activities last summer that we’re hoping to repeat or improve on this year. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far…

– Bike Rides
Inspired by the Tour de France, we’re going to devise our own ‘Tour de Bath’ where we explore different areas of the city by bike and record our ‘stages’ on a map, noting the distance and time.

– Hiking
There’s so much local countryside that we’ve yet to explore.  We’re going to pack some sandwiches, binoculars, a map, and waterproofs, and hike along footpaths and bridleways in the hills around Bath. Luckily my ‘smartphone’ has got GPS, just in case we get lost 😉

– Photography
Lil’ L loved the challenge I set him over the Jubilee weekend of photographing red, white and blue images. This summer I’m going to set him some more photographic challenges and show him how to edit photos and make online albums.

– Creating in the kitchen
Lil’ L has already devised a list of 15 new smoothies and milkshakes that he’d like to try making. During the holidays, we’ll work our way through his list, photograph the successes and blog about them.
I’m also really looking forward to teaching him how to make other treats, such as granola bars, chocolates, ice cream sundaes and so forth.

 

– Summer Reading Challenge
Last weekend, the children’s summer reading challenge was launched in Bath by Olympic Gold Medallist Amy Williams. It was such a pleasure to meet her! I didn’t get to hold the Olympic torch (like my mum did!) but I have now held an Olympic Gold Medal. It was beautiful… and way bigger and heavier than I imagined it would be!

The library reading challenge has really fired up Lil’ L. The first thing he wanted to do when he broke up from school today was to go to the library and borrow some more books!

– Maths Challenge
To keep our ‘maths brains’ ticking over, we’re going to take part in Carol Vorderman’s Online Maths Factor Summer School (I need this as much as Lil’ L 😉 ). The school costs £15 but is so worth it. Carol Vorderman has got to be the ultimate Maths teacher. Not only is she fantastic at explaining maths, but she actually makes maths fun. Her online schools are perfect for kids like Lil’ L who are yet to develop a passion for numbers.

– Summer Diary Writing
Lil’ L has recently started to get interested in writing and his stories are way more creative than anything I’ve ever written! I’d love to encourage him to keep writing over the holidays, maybe in the form of a summer diary or scrap book. As well as writing, he could add photos, ticket stubs, drawings and so forth.

– Family Activities at Local Museums and Galleries
There are lots of drop-in activities on offer at the museums and galleries in Bath which are free for residents, and I’m planning to make the most of them!  Does anyone fancy investigating Roman gods and goddesses and making Minerva’s wise owl? Or how about learning some Roman language and make a Roman book mark? I know I do! 🙂 
If you’re planning to be in the Bath area over the school holidays, you must check out the family activity programme. Here’s the link.     

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– Play Dates
It’s really important that I arrange some play dates for Lil’ L so he gets to spend time with his friends during the summer. I need to do this ASAP as I know diaries get filled really quick.

– Quality time with grandparents
Lil’ L rarely gets to have one-to-one time with his grandparents and this is something that he mentioned he would really like this summer. Next week, he’s going to spend a couple of nights with his nan and her two dogs in Dorset and he’s really excited about it! Hopefully, at some point during the summer, he’ll be able to have some one-to-one time with his other grandparents too.

– Family quality time
The three of us (me, M and Lil’ L) are really looking forward to spending a couple of weeks’ of quality time together during the school hols, which means switching all the gadgets off (phones, computers, etc) and giving each other our full attention. We really value our quality family time. For me, it’s priceless 🙂

– Buddhist Festivals and Daily Meditation
There’s lots of Buddhist festivals in the UK this summer, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to attend at least a couple. As well as inspiring teachings and meditation sessions, there’s always lots of fun activities arranged for the kids. Lil’ L made some great friends at the festivals last year and hopefully they’ll meet up again this summer.


I’m also hoping that we’ll get into the habit of daily meditation, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. With Lil’ L’s help, I’ll set up a dedicated ‘meditation space’ upstairs. We’ll make it cosy with cushions and blankets, and light incense and candles. It’ll be great 🙂

 So that’s just a few ideas of what we’ll be able to do this summer on my shoe-string budget.  I can’t wait to get started!

I wish you all a wonderful summer. 🙂 xx

p.s. If anyone’s got a bit of sunshine to spare, we would really appreciate it if you could send it over here. Thank you 🙂

The Amazing Spiderman, A Birthday Party, the Tour de France & Key Lime Bars

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a great week 🙂

Still no signs of Summer here in Bath! (Will it ever arrive I wonder?) Last Saturday it rained non stop all day so we decided to go to the cinema and watch the new Spiderman film. It seemed like the perfect way to spend a wet, rainy afternoon and we hadn’t been to the cinema in ages.

 

We all thoroughly enjoyed the film. It’s very different to the previous Spiderman trilogy. The new film seems to be more targeted at teenagers than the previous films but, despite it being a 12A, Lil’ L absolutely loved it and didn’t find it too scary at all.

 On Sunday afternoon the sun made a rare appearance! It was perfect timing as it was our lovely friend Joni’s birthday and she had a little gathering at her house to celebrate.

Me & Joni (pic taken by Lil’ L)

It was so lovely to see Joni and all her family. Lil’ L had a great time playing with Joni’s 3 grandchildren.

Joni & Derek put on an amazing spread of buffet food, including a roasted vegetable dairy-free quiche which I must have a try at re-creating. It was delicious!

During the afternoon we kept popping into the living room to check how Andy Murray was doing in the Wimbledon final. Needless to say he lost, but it was a great match all the same.

In our house, the most popular sporting event of the year is the Tour de France. As well as enjoying the race itself, I love all the spectacular scenery you get to see as they make their way across France. 

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Bradley Wiggins is currently in the yellow jersey and he’s a strong candidate to win overall. If he does win, he’ll be the first Englishman to win the Tour ever! Go Brad!

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So what have I been up to since the weekend? Well, I’m still busy working on the family cook book.  I’m hoping to get all the writing drafted before Lil’ L breaks up from school so I really need to get a move on!

I’ve also been enjoying reading Ani’s Raw Food Desserts which my sister bought me for my birthday and trying out some of Ani’s recipes, as well as my own raw dessert creations.

The first recipe I tried from Ani’s book is one of her signature sweets – the Raw Lime Kream Bars. The ingredients are very similar to those I using for making raw cheesecakes. I quartered the original recipe and made 28 Lime Kream Mini Bars. They are really refreshing, especially if you eat them straight from the freezer. Perfect as an after dinner treat.

After taking this pic, I coated some of the mini bars in raw chocolate. They’re yummy but, for me, the chocolate detracts from the zingy lime flavour. In future, I’ll stick to the original version.

Here’s how I made them:

If you find cashew nuts are a little pricey, check out Indian supermarkets or the Indian aisle in larger supermarkets. Asani’s 750g bag of cashew nuts is currently selling  for £4.99 (66.5p per 100g)  which is half the price of any other brand. I’m definitely going to stock up on my next shop!

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone! I hope the sun is shining wherever you are! 🙂 xx

This time last year…. I’m Running a 10K to Raise Money for Macmillan

Weekend Highlights – Spray Painting, Bike Riding & Roasted Vegetable Risotto (with Recipe!)

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend 🙂

We managed to fit in lots of fun activities this weekend, starting off with a trip to the library on Saturday morning where Lil’ L returned his book and came out with another seven! You can guess who ended up carrying those round Bath. Luckily he had lots of books to keep him occupied while we went for coffees in Neros 😉

I’m still getting a real kick out of how much Lil’ L is enjoying reading.  In addition to the library books, he’s also currently reading a chapter of Lemony Snicket to us every night and, on his own, he’s reading Philip Pullman’s ‘The Subtle Knife’ (both books that he picked up from the charity shop for a couple of pounds each).

In the afternoon, after a quick visit to a local village fete, Lil’ L and his friend T did some stencilling and spray art with M in our garage.

T did a space-inspired picture, while Lil’ L sprayed an underwater scene with a scary looking fish!

On Sunday, it actually stopped raining for a few hours and the sun came out. We decided to grab the opportunity to go out for a bike ride along the Kennet & Avon Canal.

To make it more interesting for Lil’ L, we said we’d cycle to the Angel Fish Cafe at Limpley Stoke for lunch.  That sure got him moving!

Both the boys fancied baked beans on toast but we were surprised to find that the Cafe only served white bread. No wholemeal, no granary, no seeded bread.  That’s no good! Bike riders need big chunky doorsteps of wholemeal granary bread to refuel them, not thin anaemic white slices 😉

Lil’ L asked if he could have an ice cream for dessert. I told him he could have one at the Canal Boat Cafe in Bathampton (back where we started our journey). This was a sneaky move on my part to make sure he peddled fast rather than dawdled all the way back. It sure worked 😉

We’ve had an unbelievable amount of rain lately but, on the plus side, the countryside is looking beautifully lush and green!

The muddy bike bottom really isn’t a good look is it? I’m so glad I’ve finally had mudguards fitted to my bike.

The face was pretty muddy too (and chocolatey!)

And look at those legs!

Back home, Lil’ L headed straight to the shower while I made the most of our sunshine and did a little gardening. I was amazed to find that we’ve actually managed to grow some strawberries that haven’t been eaten by a slug … or snail … or blackbird!

And look what else I came across… a beautiful shimmering blue damselfly taking refuge on Buddha 🙂

He stayed there for ages!

After a great day out, I cooked us a large pan of roasted squash and red pepper risotto. It was very yummy indeed. Unfortunately, Lil’ L isn’t a huge fan of risotto (he isn’t keen on the texture of Arborio rice) but I pre-empted any negative comments by serving it with some toasted wholegrain tortilla segments. He then proceeded to tuck in with enthusiasm, piling the crispy tortilla high with the risotto, and ate every last grain!

I often find that the addition of a ‘bready’ side dish, like a flat bread, tortilla, or piece of garlic bread can transform a meal for Lil L. I wonder if this is the same for all children?

At the weekend, I made the risotto with an old packet of Arborio rice that needed using up. Next time I make the risotto, I’m going to try the Riso Gallo 3 Grains Risotto Rice which consists of Italian Rice, Spelt and Pearl Barley. As this rice contains wholegrains, it will have a lower GI than regular white risotto rice, as well as other nutrients such as Iron and B Vitamins.

With the butternut squash and red pepper pieces, our risotto did look quite pretty. I also added some peas to add more colour and lovely nutrients 🙂

Here’s how I made it:

Have a great week everyone! 🙂 xx

This time last year… Glastonbury!