Easy Vegan Waffles & VonShef Waffle Maker UK Giveaway

I have always loved waffles. There’s something about those cute indented squares that makes them such a pleasure to eat. I especially love them this time of year, warm straight from the waffle maker or toaster. They make such a yummy breakfast or mid-afternoon snack.

Lil’ L shares my love of waffles and can easily get through a dozen a week. He says there are two Autumn/Winter foods that he’ll never get sick of and that’s apple crumble and waffles!

Easy Vegan Waffles (GF Option)

These vegan waffles are so easy to make! It’s simply a case of blending up the ingredients (I use my Froothie for this job), scooping the batter into the waffle maker and waiting 3-4 minutes. And then they’re ready to eat!

We use a slightly thicker version of our breakfast pancake batter for these waffles. To replace the egg, we use a banana or two small-medium organic apples. On balance, I prefer the texture of the waffles made with banana as it’s slightly firmer and more robust. The riper the banana, the stronger the flavour will be in the waffles. For the mildest flavour, use ripe yellow bananas rather than brown ones.

The batter also includes wholegrain flour and oats for protein and slow release energy. The waffles happen to be fat free and cane sugar free too. This means they’re scrumptious and healthy, so perfect for treating the kids (and yourself!) Lots of Lil’ L’s friends have tried these waffles and they’ve all given them a big thumbs up.

While his friends tend to prefer them with a simple drizzle of maple syrup, Lil’ L loves to fill his squares with little pieces of chopped walnuts or pecans, for some crunch…

Vegan Waffles with walnuts and maple syrup

… while I love to top mine with raspberries and chopped almonds

The waffles in the photo below were made using GF flour. I was so delighted to find that the recipe works gluten-free too as it means all our GF friends can tuck in too 😀

Vegan Waffles with Raspberries & Almonds

We make the waffles small enough so that they’re easy to pick up, fit in the toaster, and so you can scoff two or three at a time (‘cause one waffle is never enough 😉 ). We often make them as an afterschool snack, then leftovers get stored in the fridge for breakfast the next day. A quick warm through in the toaster and they’re ready to be served.

Here’s how we make our basic vegan waffle…

Forks are optional 😉

Vegan Waffles with walnuts and maple syrup

We purchased our waffle maker last October while it was on sale, and we’ve been really happy with it. It’s easy to use and, even with all our batter experimenting, we’ve yet to have a single waffle fail (which is pretty incredible!) The machine’s simple to clean too… while it’s still warm (but not scorching hot) I just wipe it over with a piece of kitchen towel.

While I’ve seen the waffle maker selling at a range of prices these past couple of months (the RRP is £64.99) you can get some amazing offers if you keep a watch out. It’s currently selling for £24.99 on Amazon and, at this price, you can’t really go wrong. We use ours 3-4 times a week and have made hundreds of waffles, so we’ve definitely had our money’s worth.

Vegan Waffles & VonShef Wafflemaker

Giveaway Time!

I’m not sure how many of my readers have waffle makers, and it seemed a bit unfair to share a waffle recipe without giving you the opportunity to make some yourself, so I contacted Designer Habitat and they have kindly offered to give away a VonShef Quad Waffle Maker to one of my lovely readers

To be in with a chance of winning, simply leave me a comment under this blog post 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 open to UK residents aged 18 and over (sorry international readers)

The closing date is Friday 16th January 2014 at midnight GMT. The winner will be selected at random 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.

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 *

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck everyone! xx


Chinese ‘Egg-fried’ Noodles… Vegan Style!

As part of their Healthy Smiles campaign, SimplyHealth invited me to take part in a competition to design a recipe using ingredients featured in their Infographic for healthy teeth. As soon as I saw the list, the recipe that sprung to mind was my family’s favourite Chinese stir fry

It features three of the six ingredients listed in the Infographic’s ‘Eat It’ column  – purple cabbage, carrot and ginger. If you drink a glass of water with the meal, then follow it with a cup of green tea, then we’ve got all bar one of the ingredients covered (we’ll forget about the last one, salmon!)

Stir fry vegetables

This stir fry takes 20 minutes or less, so it’s perfect for busy week day nights or as a cheap, tasty (and healthy!) alternative to a weekend takeaway. It has a beautiful, distinctive Chinese flavour thanks to the Five Spice seasoning, which is a blend of star anise, fennel, cloves, cinnamon and black pepper.

Instead of eggs, we much prefer the texture and flavour of scrambled tofu in this stir fry. It’s so easy to make. You simply squeeze the excess water from the tofu (no need to press it), and crumble it into a wok…

Scrambled Tofu Stage 1

… then stir in some soy sauce, garlic, ginger and a touch of turmeric to give it a lovely golden yellow hue.

Scrambled Tofu Stage 2

The stir fry vegetables are then added to the wok, along with a sprinkling of Chinese Five Spice, some cashews and a little vegetable stock.

Chinese Stir Fry

After a couple of minutes, the noodles are stirred in. (We prefer to use wholewheat noodles in this stir fry as they have a chewier texture which works well in Chinese dishes, but do sub with rice or other GF noodles if needed).

We add a final drizzle of soy sauce, then it’s done!

Chinese Stir Fry 2

This meal is so speedy and simple to make. It has to be the perfect Chinese Fast Food!

Products used in this recipe (UK Stockists)
Cauldron Foods Original Tofu, available from the chilled aisle in most major UK supermarkets
Kikkoman Less Salt Soy Sauce, available from most major UK supermarkets
Suma Five Spice Seasoning, available from health food stores and via Amazon (Other Chinese Five Spice blends can be found on the spice aisle in supermarkets).
Blue Dragon Wholewheat Noodles, available from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons

Chopsticks are optional 😉

I would LOVE to be able to use chopsticks. I’ve tried so many times but I’m utterly useless. I’m the one in Chinese restaurants that has to put their hand up and ask for a fork. Shame on me!






Purple Haze Salad with Blackcurrant, Hemp and Mustard Vinaigrette

Salads have been noticeably absent from my blog and that’s because I only share recipes that are ‘Lil’ L approved’. Until recently, salad was definitely not on his love list. Last summer in Provence, I started to put tiny amounts of lettuce on his lunch plate and he would eat it… providing it was slathered in hummus or salad dressing. We slowly increased the portion size and, since Christmas, he’s actually been tucking in with enthusiasm. Finally, he’s feeling the love for salad leaves and he’s even enjoying taking them to school in his lunch box 🙂

Unlike Lil’ L, I’ve always been a fan of salad. As a kid, I would munch my way through my Dad’s homegrown salad patch – tomatoes, radishes, lettuces, beetroot, celery, cucumber – I loved it all! However, just like Lil’ L, I much prefer my salads well dressed. Tangy vinaigrettes or creamy mayonnaise can really help to bring a bowl of salad to life and definitely make it more appealing to kids!

When I was invited to take part in a Maison Maille Culinary Challenge, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to devise a new, family-approved salad recipe. We were invited to select two products from their range, and I opted for the Dijon Mustard Originale and Red Wine Vinegar with Dijon Blackcurrant Liqueur. Unfortunately, the vinegar never arrived, however it did provide the inspiration for my recipe.

Blackcurrant, Hemp and Mustard Vinaigrette

While shop-bought salad dressings tend to be high in empty calories with little or no nutritional value, I try to make my home-made dressing the exact opposite. I love to pack them with nutrient-rich ingredients so I can drizzle on the dressing to my heart’s content, in full knowledge that it’s actually good for me and isn’t going to pile on the pounds. The dressing I’m sharing today is actually oil free. And check out that amazing colour!

I absolutely love the flavour of this dressing, and it’s been a huge hit with the rest of the family too (including Lil’ L!) It’s tangy, with a touch of sweetness and beautiful hint of blackcurrant. I’ve used real blackcurrants in the dressing which are loaded with antioxidants. To add a touch of creaminess, I blended in some hemp seeds, which also happen to be a great source of omega 3.

To complement this beautifully vibrant dressing, I’ve compiled a colourful, crunchy, protein-rich salad. I love the contrasting colours of the Ruby Gem lettuce. Like most lettuces, it’s packed with phytonutrients to keep us healthy.

Gem Lettuce 500

And surely nothing can beat red cabbage for vibrancy? As well as adding flavour, crunch and colour, red cabbage is packed with antioxidants, including vitamin C. Just one cup of shredded cabbage contains 85% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C!

Red Cabbage copy

And here’s another antioxidant-rich, immune-boosting, tasty addition to my salad bowl – red pepper. I opted to use a sweet romano pepper, but bell pepper would work fine too.

Sweet Romano Pepper copy

For protein, I added some edamame (soya) beans. I love their fresh flavour and colour. I tend to undercook mine slightly so they’re nice and firm for salads or snacks. Soya beans have great health benefits but have received some bad press lately. If you want to find out more, check out this report from Viva!

Edamame Soya Beans

For an extra boost of protein and slow release energy, I added some chickpeas. This time, I opted for maple soy roasted chickpeas, but my Dukkah spiced chickpeas would also work well in this salad. Chickpeas are a nutrient powerhouse packed with protein, dietary fibre, antioxidants, B vitamins and minerals including iron.

Roasted Chickpeas copy

While not featured in today’s pics, I also highly recommend adding avocado to this salad bowl. It adds another great dimension of flavour and texture, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. Lil’ L is a huge avocado fan and always loves to add a few slices to his salad plates.

After snapping the photos, I couldn’t wait to tuck in!

Easy Gingerbread Blender Pancakes (Vegan)

We’re still loving our ‘special’ Sunday breakfast of freshly made pancakes. Lil’ L now helps me in the kitchen and is enjoying making the pancakes as much (well, almost as much!) as he enjoys eating them. This week, we flavoured our pancakes with the same spices as our favourite gingerbread cookies. We couldn’t wait for the taste test!

Gingerbread Pancakes (Vegan / Dairy-free / Gluten-free)

And the verdict?

They were utterly delicious! And arguably the perfect pancake for this time of year. Spicy, warming and filling

They also happen to be filled with goodness… The Blackstrap molasses fortifies the pancakes with iron, calcium and other trace minerals, while the addition of apple adds a healthy dose of antioxidants and dietary fibre. We used a gluten-free flour mix for these pancakes to see how it would hold up (it worked perfectly!), but they could easily be made with wheat flour too.

Gingerbread Pancakes (Dairy-free / Gluten-free / Egg-free / Vegan))

We like to top our pancakes with chopped walnuts and pecans, and a sprinkling of ground golden linseed. As well as adding a lovely texture, these toppings ramp up the nutrient factor, providing more antioxidants, protein and omega 3. And, of course, there’s the obligatory drizzle of syrup 😉

The first pancake stack was devoured within minutes so, much to Lil’ L’s delight, I made a second batch to photograph. From the look of things, these won’t be around long either 😉

Gingerbread Pancakes (Vegan / Gluten-free)


Products used in this recipe:
Meridian Organic Blackstrap Molasses, available in health food shops and online stores
Doves Brown Bread Flour

[This recipe has been submitted to Ricki Heller’s Wellness Weekend]

Gingerbread Pancakes (Vegan / Gluten-free)

I’m sure these pancakes will make a regular appearance on Sundays now, in rotation with other favourites like Apple Cinnamon and Banana. We also love traditional crepes served with lemon and sugar. Lil’ L reckons that our ‘veganised’ version tastes as good as the crepes he eats in France. Now that’s a statement! I’ll make sure I post the recipe in time for Shrove Tuesday 😉

Do you like breakfast pancakes? If so, what’s your favourite flavour? If you’ve posted any recipes, please do share below.

How to Press Tofu Guide & Braised Aubergine (Eggplant) and Tofu with Udon Noodles

I remember my first attempt at cooking tofu back in the early 90s. I was loving the tofu dishes at my local Chinese restaurant and thought I’d have a try at recreating them at home. Sadly, it was a complete and utter fail!

Back then, I couldn’t Google ‘how to cook tofu’ (it hadn’t been invented!) My mum’s kind neighbour came to my rescue though and told me that I’d missed out one crucial step – pressing the water out of the tofu. Since then, we’ve been happily cooking (and devouring!) all manner of tofu dishes at home 🙂

Braised Aubergine (Eggplant) & Pan-Fried Tofu

Over the years, I’ve tried various techniques for pressing tofu. I started out wrapping the tofu in kitchen paper, but wasn’t keen on the waste it generated. I then tried wrapping the tofu in tea towels, but wasn’t happy leaving soggy towels in the laundry. I finally worked out that you don’t need to use paper or towels… you can simply press it between two chopping boards, and catch the water in a tray. It’s so easy, and requires very little effort at all!

Here’s my quick ‘How to Press’ Tofu Guide:

First off, you need to make sure you buy the right kind of tofu. You want the firm or extra firm tofu found in  the chiller cabinets (and not the silken tofu found in tetra paks on the shelves). The most common brand we see in our UK supermarkets is Cauldron Foods.

Cauldrons Tofu

Split the pack open along one edge and drain off the water. Your block of tofu will look something like this:

How to Press Tofu

The block’s quite thick, so I tend to slice it in half.

How to Press Tofu

Arrange the tofu on a chopping board and place it on a tea tray or rimmed baking sheet. Place another chopping board on top of the tofu, followed by a heavy object to weigh it down. (* Update June 2015 – you can place the tofu straight on the tea tray/rimmed baking sheet; no need to place a chopping board underneath!)

How to Press Tofu

The longer you press the tofu for, the firmer it will become. Ten minutes is a minimum; I tend to leave mine for 30 minutes to an hour.

The water will have collected in a pool round the tofu, so drain it off, then you’re good to go!

Sometimes I marinade the tofu in a mix of soy sauce, maple syrup, ginger and garlic then bake it. I find that baked tofu has a firmer, chewier texture to pan-fried tofu.

Baked Tofu

However, for stir-fry dishes that already have a flavourful sauce, I tend to skip the marinading and pan fry the tofu in a little soy sauce and oil. This gives the tofu a lovely, crispy exterior with a softer centre.

In this post, I thought I’d share one of Lil’ L’s favourite stir fries that uses pan-fried tofu. He’s been eating it since he was about five and he still loves it to this day. This dish is rich in calcium thanks to the pak choy and tofu.

(By the way, it you’re struggling to get your kids to eat their greens, I highly recommend pak choy as it all but disappears when cooked 😉 )

[This recipe has been submitted to Ricki Heller’s Wellness Weekend]

Braised Aubergine (Eggplant) & Pan-Fried Tofu

If you’re rather buy ready-cooked tofu, there are some great options available in the shops. We love the Cauldon Foods Organic Marinated Tofu Pieces and I tend to keep a box or two in the fridge/freezer for quick prep meals and to stuff into pittas & wraps for lunchboxes. Their new Organic Smoked Tofu is really tasty too. It makes a great addition to our Malaysian Coconut Noodle Soup (Laksa). Another recipe I definitely need to share with you!

Just before I go, I know soya has received some bad press lately so, if you’re concerned, or would simply like to find out more about soya and its health properties, I highly recommend Viva! Health‘s ‘The Soya Story’, which can be downloaded for FREE from here. This guide is packed with useful information, as well as some great recipes!

Do you cook tofu at home? If so, what’s your favourite dish? If you’ve got any great recipes, please do link up below xx


World Food Cafe Review & Giveaway plus a Japanese Vegetable Curry Recipe

Recently, I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of the new World Food Cafe book, which launched this month.


This cook book is a compilation of vegetarian recipes that Chris and Carolyn Caldicott collected during their latest travel adventures to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Chile, Cuba, Japan, Laos, Helsinki & Lapland, Namibia, Syria and Vietnam!

Whether it’s crispy rice cakes from Laos, vegetable stew with an avocado and red onion salsa from Cuba or an iced rooibos sundowner from Namibia, every recipe has been carefully conceived to be quick and easy to make at home.

World Food Cafe Book 2 500

Each chapter focuses on a particular country and includes stunning photography and anecdotes from their travels, alongside descriptions of the countries’ cuisine and a selection of the authors’ favourite recipes.  It’s a truly beautiful read!

World Food Cafe Book - Bhutan 500

I’m a huge fan of world cuisine and have already tried (and loved!) two recipes from the book, and bookmarked plenty more for the weeks to come.  I need to tweak the recipes a little to suit my family’s tastes (as I do with most recipes!) but this won’t be a problem at all.

One of the first recipes that caught my eye was the Okayama Vegetable Curry in the chapter on Japan. While I often make curries at home, I’d never tried Japanese curry before. I was intrigued to find out what it tasted like.

World Food Cafe Book - Japan 500

There was one key ingredient in this curry that I knew would make its flavour distinct to other curries and that was Star Anise. This pretty star-shaped spice has a very striking flavour, similar to aniseed. In the UK, you’ll find it on the herbs and spice aisle of major supermarkets.

World Food Cafe Book - Japanese Curry 500

The authors explain that Japanese curry sauces are like a Roux, made with butter and flour. I opted to go down a slightly less authentic route and thicken my sauce with cornstarch in order to make it low fat and 100% plant-based. I also cut down on the amount of curry powder and garam masala to make it a suitable level of heat for Lil’ L.

I wasn’t sure what Lil’ L would make of this curry as it tastes so different to any curry he’s had before.  I’m pleased to report that it received a thumbs up from him. He absolutely loved it! 🙂

Japanese Okayama Vegetable Curry 1 copy

We’ll definitely be making this curry again. Next time round, I’ll make a big batch of the curry sauce in advance and freeze it. That way, whenever we feel like a Japanese curry, it’ll just be a case of cooking the rice and steaming the veggies. Easy!

Here’s how I made it:

This recipe has been submitted to Ricki Heller’s #WellnessWeekend

Products used in this recipe:
Clearspring Organic Tamari Sauce, purchased from the world food section of Waitrose (this is a gluten-free soy sauce)
Waitrose Organic Frozen Vegetable Mix  
Cauldron Organic Marinated Tofu pieces
, purchased from the chilled aisle in Waitrose

Japanese Okayama Vegetable Curry 2 copy


World Food Cafe Quick and Easy: Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey is by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott and published by Frances Lincoln.

International readers, please note that the ingredients in this cookbook are measured in grams/ounces and not in cups.


Would you like to check out the new World Food Cafe book for yourselves? Well, I’m delighted to tell you that the publishers have kindly offered a copy to give away to you, my lovely readers

The main way to enter the giveaway is to leave me a comment below, answering the question featured in the Rafflecopter below. Make sure you tick the box in the Rafflecopter to register that you have done so!

If you’re new to Rafflecopter, you can access a quick demo via this link.  It’s pretty easy… you simply ‘log in’ by entering a name and email address (which won’t be published anywhere) or via Facebook, then you follow the instructions.

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 open to UK residents (sorry international readers!)

The closing date is Sunday 20th October 2013 at midnight GMT.

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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