Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Coconut Milk Ice Cream & Vegan Life Issue 17

It was my blogging friend Aimee Ryan’s 2014 publication that got me hooked on coconut milk ice cream. I’ve always been a big lover of ice cream, but the shop-bought varieties paled into insignificance once I’d had my first taste of home-made coconut milk ice cream.

If you’ve experienced itself, you’ll know just how delicious it is. The texture is silky smooth and creamy. The coconut flavour is so subtle that the ice cream can be flavoured a myriad of ways. Aimee’s recipe book has over 50 to choose from, including fruity, nutty, spicy, boozy, floral and dessert-inspired flavours. And, in addition to being vegan (and gluten-free), her ice cream recipes also happen to be cane-sugar free too. For this, my tummy is very thankful.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Vegan Ice Cream

Coconut milk ice cream is simple to prepare and only requires a few minutes of ‘hands-on’ time. Once the ingredients have been heated, combined then chilled, it’s over to the ice cream maker to do the hard work. Continue reading “Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Coconut Milk Ice Cream & Vegan Life Issue 17”

Quick and Easy Macaroni Cheese. Vegan Life Issue 10

When I was a kid, macaroni cheese was one of my all-time favourite comfort foods. Sadly this childhood favourite turned into the ultimate ‘discomfort’ food for me in my 20s, when my intolerance to dairy became acute. With almost instant flare ups of eczema, stomach cramps and joint pain, the pay off for indulging in this dairy-laden dish just wasn’t worth it.

It was probably a good ten years before I tucked into a cheesy pasta dish again. And it was thanks to the highly creative vegan food blogger community that I discovered how cheese sauces could be replicated using non dairy ingredients.

These past few years, I’ve tried a whole host of non dairy ‘mac n cheese’ recipes and have experimented with a few of my own. I now have a favourite self-devised vegan ‘cheese’ sauce recipe which I use for pasta dishes, which the family absolutely loves (and has hidden veggies inside!) but I’m always on the lookout for new ones to try. So when I saw the tantalizing macaroni cheese shot on the cover of November’s Vegan Life magazine, I couldn’t wait to check out the recipe.

Vegan Life Issue 10

I was intrigued to find that the ‘cheese’ sauce is actually a dry mix that you can make ahead of time and store in the pantry. It was devised by Miyoko Schinner (the blogger behind Artisan Vegan Life) and appears in her recently published book The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples.

The recipe sounded so simple to make. I couldn’t wait to give it a try! It’s dairy-free and gluten-free so this is a great dish to serve to anyone that’s vegan or  gluten / dairy intolerant. Continue reading “Quick and Easy Macaroni Cheese. Vegan Life Issue 10”

Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Rice and Vegan Life Issue 9

Vegan Life Issue 9 Cover collage

It’s been just over a year now since Vegan Life launched here in the UK and, for me, this magazine just gets better and better. I love the variety of features it covers. This month, I especially enjoyed the interviews with Born Free president Bill Travers OBE, who explained the reasons why he has recently gone vegan,

Born Free Collage

and the interview with Earthlings director Shaun Monson. After reading the article I checked out the trailer for his new film Unity. It looks awesome! Has anyone seen it yet? Continue reading “Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Rice and Vegan Life Issue 9”

Vegan Life Issue 4

These past couple of weeks I’ve been savouring my copy of Vegan Life Issue 4. Usually I get through magazines in a flash, but there’s so much to read in this one.

Vegan Life Issue 4

As usual, the magazine gave me plenty to think about and invoked so many emotions… sadness and despair while reading about the plight of Moon bears and Angora rabbits in China…

Moon Bears

… to hope and optimism when reading about the plethora of vegan businesses popping up all over the globe.

The feature on vegan cosmetics was timely as my make-up bag is in desperate need of an overhaul. Most of its contents are years old (probably older than Lil’ L!) and from The Body Shop (which I mistakenly thought was natural / cruelty free). It was fantastic to hear there are so many vegan cosmetic brands available these days.

It was also useful to learn about the animal-derived ingredients to watch out for including beeswax and honey; lanolin (wool grease); squalene (shark liver oil); carmine (crushed beetles); tallow (animal fat); collagen (placenta-derived); allantoin (cow urine); and elastin (animal connective tissue).

Vegan Life Issue 4

This morning I did a little online research into vegan cosmetic brands and I was amazed at how many there are available here in the UK. I came across an online shop called Honesty Cosmetics which sells 100% vegan products. They stock Beauty without Cruelty, Lavera Trend Sensitiv and Benecos Natural Beauty (the vegan range). Their products really appeal to me as they’re natural and organic as well as vegan. I’m really looking forward to refreshing my make-up bag. It’s long overdue!

On the food front, I was so happy to see El Piano featured in this month’s issue. A vegan Spanish restaurant? Now that’s something I never dreamed I’d see in my lifetime! I’m heading to Spain soon, and my Spanish friends told me that it could be difficult to find vegan options there. From what I’ve heard, Spain sounds a bit like my experience of France, where pigs (ham/chorizo) seem to end up in most dishes, even the vegetable ones :/

El Piano

So you can imagine how delighted I was to discover that El Piano has branches in Malaga and Granada… two places that I’ll be visiting during my travels. It’s going to be so refreshing to be able to head into a Spanish restaurant and know that I can eat anything on the menu. Happy Days 😀

This issue of Vegan Life is jam-packed with tasty recipes too. We’ve already tried Tara Stiles’ Portobello mushroom burger from the Make Your Own Rules Diet book (featured on the front cover). It was super easy to make, so perfect for a Saturday night movie dinner. My brain is already whizzing with ideas of variations on the Portobello Burger theme.

I’ve also tried Jane Easton’s Indian-Style Padma Pancakes (from the Viva! cookbook). Most weeks I make a big batch of curry and we serve it with rice one night, then the leftovers are stuffed into pitta breads for lunchboxes or flatbreads/pancakes for another evening dinner. I often make chickpea pancakes as they’re rich in protein and iron, but I usually flavour mine with paprika/chilli/oregano, rather than Indian spices. I was intrigued to find out how they would taste.

Vegan Life Issue 4 Recipe

Chickpea pancakes can sometimes be quite dry or heavy, but these came out just perfect. They were light, yet sturdy enough to flip and roll. The recipe suggested flavouring them with turmeric and ground fenugreek or asafoetida powder. I found a bottle of asafoetida powder at the back of my pantry which I’d not even opened. I thought this would be a good time to dust it off and give it a try.

Oh my word, I don’t think I’ve ever been so repelled by a flavour. Seriously, I nearly barfed! It’s hard to describe the flavour but, to me, it tasted like an intense ‘eggy’ flavour, maybe ‘eggs gone bad’. Argh even now I’m shuddering at the thought of it. Maybe I had a bad batch?

Second time round, I used ground cumin, a little turmeric, fresh red chilli pepper and fresh coriander (cilantro). This flavour combo worked much better for me. For the filling, I used our Sweet Potato, Red Lentil and Coconut Curry leftovers. This was my lunch today and it was so good! I’ll definitely be making it again.

Indian Chickpea Pancake

As you can tell, this latest Issue of Vegan Life has given me plenty of food for thought AND for my belly hehe 😉

Did you manage to get hold of a copy yourself? If so, have you tried any of the recipes yet?

If you use vegan cosmetics, I’d love to hear your recommendations. Do you know of any UK high street shops that sell vegan cosmetics we can try before we buy?

Vegan Life is UK-based magazine, available worldwide both in hard copy and digital formats. Check out this link to find out more.

Useful Supplements for Vegans… and Everyone Else!

In this month’s issue of Vegan Life magazine, there was a useful guide to supplements for vegans. This is something that I looked into myself last year as I wanted to make sure the family was getting all the nutrients needed for tip-top health and not lacking anything vital.

Vegan Life Issue 3

While a varied, balanced vegan diet can meet all nutrients needs (with the exception of vitamin B12), as mentioned in The Vegan Life article, there are four key nutrients to consider supplementing, and these are vitamins B12 and D, iodine and omega 3 essential fatty acids.

However, it’s worth noting that it’s not vegans exclusively that would benefit from taking these supplements. As we get older, our ability to absorb B12 from foods diminishes, so anyone over 50 years old is advised to consume fortified foods and/or take a B12 supplement. The UK government’s health advisers are also proposing that millions of people should be offered free vitamin D supplements as it’s estimated that one in five adults in the UK is at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Worldwide, iodine deficiency has become a major health problem too. To reduce the risk amongst their own populations, countries such as the USA, India, Denmark and Switzerland fortify table salt with iodine (‘iodized salt’). And when it comes to essential fatty acids, people are generally getting too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3.

Let food be thy medicine My number one choice for nutrient intake will always be food. However, for these key nutrients – vitamins B12 and D, iodine, omega 3 (especially EPA & DHA) – I’ve decided to take a ‘belt and braces’ approach for now and use supplements to top up our levels, as and when needed.

Here’s how my family currently accesses these four nutrients…

Vitamin B12
Foods – fortified non dairy milks, non dairy yogurts, nutritional yeast flakes, breakfast cereals
SupplementSOLGAR Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) 1000mg Sublingual Nuggets

Vitamin D
Food – fortified non dairy milks, non dairy yogurts, breakfast cereals
Summer months – lots of time spent outdoors in T-shirts & vest tops
SupplementViridian Liquid Vitamin D drops which have a nice, fruity flavour (we squirt it straight into our mouths or into smoothies/yogurt).

Iodine
Foodiodised salt (from Sainsburys); seaweed (Clearspring Nori Sprinkle is a favourite) UPDATE 2017 – we also love making vegan sushi rolls with nori sheets – another great source of iodine!

Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids
Food – walnuts, ground linseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, greens
Supplements – Since it’s not known how well the body converts the omega 3 in walnuts and seeds from ALA into DHA, I also like to give the family a supplement which includes DHA (derived from marine algae). Our current favourite is  Viridian Vegan EPA & DHA – a lovely orange-tasting liquid that we squirt on smoothies, yogurts or straight into our mouths!

In addition to these four, I also think it’s important to pay attention to Iron and ensure that we eat lots of iron-rich meals. Worldwide, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder and affects a staggering 2 billion people.

Vegan for Life has a useful section on iron, which includes the levels needed by gender and age, ways to enhance iron absorption, and a list of foods and their iron content. I also love this infographic by Vegans of Instagram

 

Iron Rich Plant Sources

 

While the recommended intake for men and post menopausal women is 8mg (which is pretty easy to achieve on a well-balanced varied diet), for menstruating women it’s 18mg – more than double! Considering ½ cup beans and ½ cup cooked greens each contain around 2mg, it can be quite a challenge to reach the 18 mg RDA. And that’s before we even take account of the fact that certain minerals (especially calcium), and beverages such as coffee and tea inhibit the absorption of iron. I’ve had my iron levels checked twice in the past couple of years and both times they’ve been low. Not anaemic low, but lower than optimal.

A few months ago I decided to top up my iron intake during the ‘time of the month’ with an iron supplement. I’ve been taking Viridian Balanced Iron Complex, which contains iron bisglycinate, a form of iron that is gentler on the digestive system than ferrous sulphate. I’ve had no stomach issues at all taking this supplement. As an added bonus, the supplement contains B12, magnesium, folic acid and vitamin C.

For years, I was ‘anti supplements’ but now I understand that they do have their place… just as long as we see them as a ‘supplement’ rather than a substitute for healthy eating 😉

What’s your stance on supplements? Do you take any yourself?

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Christmas Pudding Cakes

When Vegan Life launched in September, I don’t know if anyone anticipated just how well the magazine would be received. It was such a hit that it won this year’s VegfestUK Awards for best publication, and that accolade was purely based on the first issue!

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Issue 2, and was especially excited that it would be the Christmas edition. When it arrived, I was hoping to savour it over a few days but alas, once I got started I couldn’t put it down.

Vegan Life Issue 2 300

Just like the first issue, this one is packed with articles that I found both inspiring and thought-provoking. One feature in particular that caught my eye was the debate on whether vegans should feed pets meat. This is one issue that I’ve been struggling to get my head round. The Vegan Life article prompted a lively debate amongst my Twitter friends. I think I’ve finally decided my stance, but it’s a very tricky issue, and definitely one that people need to decide for themselves ;o)

I’m looking forward to trying all the recipes in Issue 2, but the one that immediately grabbed my attention was the Christmas Pudding Cakes by Harriet Emily. I love Christmas Pudding and Christmas Cake, but I’ve never had a Christmas Pudding Cake before! I was intrigued to see how it would turn out. I had a quick scan down the recipe and it didn’t look too tricky at all.

Vegan Life Issue 2 - Christmas Pudding Cakes

The recipe is gluten free, cane sugar free, dairy free, egg free and soy free, so it ticks lots of allergy friendly boxes. It does include almonds, but I’m sure these could be subbed to make it nut free too.

The recipe uses two of my favourite ingredients – coconut sugar and coconut butter. I tend to buy these online as they’re not always available in my local health food shop. If you’re not so fussed about making these cakes super healthy, then I’m pretty confident you could sub them with cane sugar and non dairy spread. The recipe also calls for millet flour which I couldn’t find locally, so I used buckwheat flour instead. It worked absolutely fine. I’m sure you could use regular whole wheat flour too if you didn’t need to make it gluten free.

And the verdict?
I was so happy with the way the cakes turned out. They were moist and flavourful, plus they made the house smell amazing while they baked! They were a huge hit with the family. Hubbie has already requested another batch, and Lil’ L said they were absolutely delicious (and this is someone that usually avoids dried fruits!)

Hubbie preferred his pudding cake straight up with no toppings, while Lil’ L and I enjoyed it drizzled in salted caramel. We used the Considerit Special Edition Salted Caramel from November’s The Vegan Kind Box, but Harriet Emily also shared a recipe for home-made salted caramel, which looks super easy to make.

Christmas Pudding Cake

The treats certainly live up to their name. I really can’t decide whether they are a cake or a pudding. Definitely somewhere in between. They’re baked in ramekins, so you could serve them straight out of the oven, more like a pudding …

Christmas Pudding Cake

Or you could pop them out of the ramekins and serve them like cake. I did find that the portions were a little on the large side. While hubbie easily devoured a whole cake, I couldn’t manage a whole one by myself (and believe me I tried). Next time I make them, I’ll try baking six instead of five and see how the size compares.

Christmas Pudding Cake

I did make a few tweaks to the recipe. I subbed a couple of ingredients that I didn’t have on hand, and adjusted the spice quantities (I used ¼ tsp nutmeg instead of 1 tsp as I find the flavour of nutmeg really strong, plus I omitted the allspice as I didn’t have any). I also reduced the baking temperature from 200C to 180C and the baking time from 40 to 30 minutes. They came out perfect, so I’m guessing the recipe is pretty flexible.

Big thank you to Harriet Emily for sharing her fab recipe If you’re interested in vegan, sugar free and gluten free cooking, definitely go check out her blog. I can’t wait to try her Chocolate Caramel Tarts. They look amazing!


Products used in this recipe (UK sources)

Biona Organic Coconut Sugar
Tiana Organic Coconut Butter (Aroma Free)
Clarks Original Maple Syrup
Doves Farm Wholemeal Buckwheat Flour (this does contain traces of gluten so use Doves Gluten Free Buckwheat Flour or Millet Flour for a 100% GF option)

In Vegan Life, Harriet Emily also shares a recipe for Caramel Sauce, which uses coconut sugar as its base. I’ll update this post once I’ve had a chance to try it (sadly I’ve run out of coconut sugar, but it’s on order).

I also have two caramel recipes by The Vegan 8 bookmarked, both of which I’d love to try with these Christmas pudding cakes. The first one – Caramel Sauce – has melted coconut butter as its base, and the second one – Salted Caramel – is made with sweet potato and coconut milk! It sounds weird but it’s received rave reviews so I’m excited to try it!

Did you get Vegan Life Issue 2? If so I’d love to know what you thought of it. Have you tried any of the recipes yet?