My Top Picks of Festive & Winter Vegan Dinner Centrepieces

For the past six years or so, my family has eaten our Cranberry Glazed Nut Loaf as the centrepiece to our Christmas dinner. It’s our favourite nut loaf and I only make it once or twice a year to keep it special. I originally posted the recipe on the blog in 2013 and it fast became a reader favourite. If you have the Bit of the Good Stuff cookbook, you’ll also find the recipe on p141 along with my favourite easy vegan Red Onion Miso Gravy.

The loaf stores really well (in fact I think it tastes even better a day or two after its made) so I’m planning on making it today (Christmas Eve). Then, tomorrow, all we need to do is cut some slices and heat them up either in the oven or in my mum’s microwave. Easy peasy and minimal time spent in the kitchen, which means more time for fun, games, films and forest walks. That’s how I like to spend my Christmas day!

While I have our main Christmas meal sorted for this year, I am really looking forward to trying out some new recipes during our week off. There are a handful in particular that have caught my eye and I thought I’d share them in today’s post in case you’re looking for some recipe inspiration too.

It wasn’t intentional, but all the recipes I’ve picked happen to be pastry-based. I do love a tasty pie or tart this time of year!

Let’s kick off with a couple of puff pastry pies that would make fantastic centrepieces for festive or winter dinners. Continue reading “My Top Picks of Festive & Winter Vegan Dinner Centrepieces”

MattressOnline Monster Drawing Competition

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Lil’ L was recently invited to take part in the MattressOnline Monster Drawing Competition.  The challenge was to design a monster, name it, and explain what it is and what it does. The monsters will be judged on their originality, and the three winners will be able to select their own monster-related prizes. Lil’ L has already got his eye on some awesome Monster Lego sets, if he’s lucky enough to be selected 😉

He’s worked really hard on his monster this past week and is finally ready to reveal him. I’ll hand you over to Lil’ L so he can introduce him to you.

Hello! I’m Lil’ L and today I’m taking over my mom’s blog to tell you about my monster. His name is Curio and he is a problem- solving monster. He helps with all sorts of problems. For example, he can clean up spillages, tidy your room, find something you’ve lost or help with homework. He’s also really friendly and likes to play games and when it’s dark he glows like a little night light.

As you can see in my picture, he has lots of features which make him really useful. He has a body that glows at night, eyes that see in the dark, large ears that can hear everything, a big nose for smelling stuff and a big pocket in his tummy for storing pens, pencils other useful stuff. He even has sponges on his feet for mopping up spills!

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What a helpful little monster eh? I definitely wouldn’t mind having him around the house, keeping everything neat and tidy!

I’d like to wish all the children taking part in this competition the best of luck

The competition closes at midnight tomorrow (Tuesday 16th September). A selection of the entries submitted so far can be viewed in the Monster Gallery. I would also like to express my thanks to MattressOnline for hosting this fab competition! x

Amy’s Kitchen Hamper UK Giveaway (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Vegan!)

Amy’s Kitchen is a family business, founded 25 years ago by Rachel and Andy Berliner following the birth of their daughter, Amy. All Amy’s Kitchen products are vegetarian, and many are also suitable for vegans and those on gluten-free and dairy-free diets. Committed to using only the finest natural ingredients, all products undergo a thorough taste test from the family to ensure each one has a true home-cooked taste.

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Amy’s Kitchen offers an extensive range of quality, frozen vegetarian dishes and canned soups, which are perfect for those days when you don’t have time to prepare meals from scratch. In the UK, they’re available to purchase in major supermarkets and independent health food stores nationwide. You can use this store locator to find your nearest stockist. (Please note that the UK supermarkets seem to only stock the vegetarian frozen meals rather than the vegan ones at the moment, so do make sure you check the labels).

Today I have one amazing giveaway lined up for you! Amy’s Kitchen is kindly offering my readers the chance to win a hamper filled with seven of their tasty meals. Taking into account the dietary requirements of my readers, we’ve made sure that all the products in this hamper are gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan 🙂

Here’s the lowdown on what’s included:

Rice Mac & Cheeze
After years of recipe testing, Amy’s Kitchen discovered delicious dairy-free Daiya Cheeze to go with their tender organic rice pasta. This dish is so tasty that people will no longer have to miss out on their favourite ‘mac and cheese!’

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Vegetable Lasagne
The chefs at Amy’s Kitchen have created a Vegetable Lasagne suitable for their gluten intolerant and vegan customers made with spinach, courgettes, carrots and tofu mixed with luscious Daiya non-dairy mozzarella-style cheese, Amy’s own authentic Italian-style sauce made with vine-ripened tomatoes, all layered between sheets of light tender rice pasta.

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Thai Red Curry
This curry is Amy’s Dad’s favourite dish! It has finely cut vegetables including sautéed onions, broccoli, carrots and butternut squash, slowly cooked in authentic spices and coconut milk, topped off with tofu and served with fragrant Jasmine rice.

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Manhattan Veggie Burger
Firm and hearty, this Veggie burger is inspired by the best of American burgers and is the perfect all-round burger for any occasion. Made with vegetables, walnuts and quinoa, this burger is free from dairy, gluten and soy, but full of flavour.

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Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup
Amy’s original lentil soup is so popular that the family went on to create another delicious lentil soup! This one is full of vegetables including green beans, tomatoes and spinach in a hearty, flavourful lentil-based soup.

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Organic Hearty Spanish Rice & Red Bean Soup
This fresh-tasting soup combines brown rice with red beans, tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, sweetcorn and green chillies. It’s just right for a light lunch or with a salad for dinner.

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Organic Split Pea Soup
This traditional favourite is made with organic green split peas, onions, celery, carrots and garlic has a surprisingly light, delicate flavour.

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To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous hamper, simply leave me a comment answering the question featured in the Rafflecopter below. Do make sure you tick the box in the Rafflecopter to register that you have done so! There are a number of additional ways you can enter in order to increase your chances of winning. You will find these listed in the Rafflecopter. All entries will be verified prior to the winner being selected.

This giveaway is UK only and open to residents aged 18 and over. The closing date is Friday 23rd May 2014 at midnight GMT. The winner will be selected at random using Rafflecopter and notified by email. The winner will have 7 days to respond. If they fail to do so, another winner will be selected at random.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
New to Rafflecopter? It’s pretty easy! Simply click on ‘Use Your Email’ and enter a name and your email address (rest assured it won’t be published anywhere). You can also log in using your Facebook account, if you wish. A quick demo of how to use Rafflecopter can be accessed here.

* If you experience any technical problems when trying to enter the Rafflecopter, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll submit your entry for you *

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Good luck everyone! xx

Guest Post: How to Eat a Rainbow

Today, I’m handing over my little space in the blogosphere to Ellie and Sabrina Bedford who are going to tell us about a very special mission they’ve embarked on that involves children, rainbows, food and a touch of magic Before I give too much away, let me stop right there and pass you over to the girls.

We are so excited to be guest blogging for Sharon today!  We are Ellie and Sabrina Bedford, Sisters in Law who have a mission to get a magical healthy children’s recipe book out there! It’s called ‘How to Eat a Rainbow, Magical Raw Vegan recipes for Kids’ and we hope to be bringing to you soon!

Ellie and Sabrina Bedford

Ellie is a plant-based food blogger, food writer and whole food consultant and also mum to two little girls. Ellie noticed a huge gap in the market for a beautiful and healthy children’s cook book – all she could find for her girls were baking and cupcake books full of sugary cookies and cakes. Not wanting her daughters to miss out on the joy of owning their very own recipe book, as she had done as a child, she decided to create her own and sought the help of her artist sister-in-law to make it happen!

Sabrina is a visual artist and illustrator and has created this beautiful magical world for the books theme. The magical theme encourages children to eat just like a fairy would and so it is full of fresh and colourful fruits and veggies. Our book is fully illustrated in a picture book style to truly captivate the child and make healthy eating fun and appealing – they even get a fairy food certificate to complete in their name in the back!

How to Eat a Rainbow

We know how difficult it can be to encourage kids to eat their fruits and veggies and we’ve designed this book to help. How to Eat a Rainbow covers the more problematic areas in children’s diets such as snacks, treats, drinks and sides, so for this reason we’ve made them as virtuous as possible! All of the recipes are refined sugar free, vegan, gluten free and raw so they can be easily added into any child’s diet. We hope we can introduce more plant-based whole foods into the homes of families across the world, and show them how easy and tasty healthy food can be!

How to Eat a Rainbow

To make our book a reality we’re crowd funding on Indiegogo. We’re thrilled that we are now over three quarters of the way to our goal now, but we need all the support we can get to make out target by our closing date, 2nd March 2014!

If you’d like to support our project, please visit our campaign page and check out and share our campaign video, helping us to spread the word! On our page you can also pre-order your very own copy in print or as an ebook. As well as our book, we have lots of exciting incentives such as being illustrated on the cover of our book, having a fairy portrait made, signed original artwork and family raw food prep packages!

We really hope you love the concept of our book and thank you in advance for helping us make this happen, we couldn’t do it without you and appreciate all your support.

 

Thank you Ellie and Sabrina! Well, ‘How to Eat a Rainbow’ might be designed for kids, but I definitely want a copy! Those illustrations are truly sublime

If you’d like to connect with Ellie and Sabrina, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

UPDATE 24TH FEBRUARY 2014 – After a very successful weekend of fund raising, Ellie and Sabrina are now over 90% of their way towards achieving their goal, which is fantastic news! Today, they would like to share a sneak preview of How to Eat a Rainbow including a tasty recipe to try at home. Check it out and if you like it, please share it!

Sweet Potatoes in a Cayenne, Ginger and Groundnut Sauce

Just before Christmas I was lucky enough to be sent an advance copy of the World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott. In the holidays, I took it everywhere with me… to coffee shops, to my parents’ in law, to my mum’s… It’s a hefty book, but I managed to cram it in my oversize handbag 😉 I have many fond memories of Christmas 2013, and reading this book is way up there with the best of them!

World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible

As soon as we returned home from our family visits, I couldn’t wait to try some recipes from the book, starting with the Sweet Potatoes in a Cayenne, Ginger and Groundnut Sauce. This is the authors’ all-time favourite West African dish, and one of the most popular dishes they served in the World Food Café.

I always adjust recipes to suit my family’s tastes (as I imagine all cooks do!), but I hardly needed to make any changes to this recipe.  I simply reduced the amount of oil from 3 TBSP to 1 TBSP, and cut the cayenne pepper from 1 tsp to 1/4 tsp so it wasn’t too spicy for Lil’ L. Once the dish was ready, I simply sprinkled additional cayenne pepper on the adult portions, to add a spicy kick.

World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible - West African Sweet Potatoes

We absolutely loved this dish, including Lil’ L.  He even ate all the raw carrot and beetroot garnish!

Here’s how we made it…

I’m going to post a dedicated review of the World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible next week, along with details of how you can win your own copy!

I’ll see you back here next week. Have a great weekend everyone! xx

Summer Break ‘Unplugged’

Hi everyone!

I’m just stopping by to let you know that I’m taking a 2-3 week break from blogging. I’m going to totally ‘unplug’ (no FB, Twitter, email, internet) so that I can devote my attention to my lovely boys and my Buddhist practice.

I can’t believe we’re already coming to the end of Week 3 of the school holidays. It has flown by! I’ve spent the majority of my time these past weeks working on the book, refining recipes, making food and photographing it. Lil’ L has been a huge help to me. I really appreciate his direct, very honest opinions! He’s also been far quicker than I have on making decisions about which photos should go in the book. I was shocked to discover today that, in the past 2 years, I’ve taken 7,642 photographs of food! You’ll be relieved to know that only 80-100 will make their way into the book 😉

For the final three weeks of the school hols, I want to make the most of the time I have with Lil’ L before he’s back at school. I’m sure you understand!

I’ll leave you with a couple of pics he designed. This one he drew in my Wednesday Workshop…

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… and this one he created on his return from the Children’s Dharma Festival at the Tara Centre in Derbyshire. He told me that he filled the bird with words he remembers hearing at the festival. It’s amazing how much kids take in!

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Enjoy the rest of August everyone.  I look forward to catching up with you all on my return

p.s. I’ve already got some great giveaways lined up for you 😉