Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Pumpkins and spice and all things nice

Edit: I just realised this is my 100th post:)
After yesterday's post, I did actually make something I enjoyed!
First, though, here's some cake I made last week:
That's spiced banana cake. I used Steenberg's pumpkin pie mix. yum! I served it with vanilla soya yogurt.

Continuing the pumpkin theme, I steamed a huge butternut squash last night and made my squash pancake. It's Nigel Slater's recipe in Tender v.1 , doubled and veganised. Instead of adding thyme leaves, though, I used my Steenberg's laksa spice and used coconut oil on the pan instead of olive oil. It was so delicious!
Sorry for the awful photo...I keep meaning to do something about the terrible lighting in my dining room.
As there was some leftover steamed squash, I put it to use tonight. I lifted the bowl of squash out of the fridge and chucked in a handful of rolled oats, plus some nooch, salt and more Steenbergs loveliness- herbes de provence and smoked paprika. I didn't even shape them, just plopped lumps onto a hot skillet. The herbes de provence and smoked paprika combo gave the burgers a lovely deep savoury flavour but also brought out the sweetness of the squash. I had mine in a warmed pitta with tomato, cucumber and olive salad with a balsamic dressing.
I haven't had that much salad in a long time! My tummy was very happy to see the veggie goodness.
Oh, I should note, I don't work for Steenberg's or anything. I just love their products:)

Monday, 22 November 2010

Down Time

I've been struggling to find both time and inspiration for my foodie interests and therefore the blog. Not only that, but I'm also devoting more time to other interests of mine, and my job is taking up more of my time these days too.
While I don't intend to shut my blog down or anything, I think it's only fair to let any readers out there know what to expect from this tiny corner of the food blogging universe, and at the moment I can't promise I'm going to be updating with any regularity or degree of quality. While it would be lovely to have more time for all my interests, that's just not possible while holding down a full time job, and I have to pick out those interests that give me the best 'return' for the investment of my time. I'm being deliberately cryptic for now, by the way. Other interests have taken a hit too- I have given up my allotment (but keep a veg garden at my parent's house) and I haven't been hiking in ages:(
Anyway, when I have free time outside of the interests I'm getting a bit more serious about, I will do my best to blog about tasty vegan food, managing IBS and running/swimming/hiking/cycling. I also hope I'll be able to continue following some blogs and keep commenting on my favourites.

While I'm here, I'll update on my low fibre diet and how it's affecting my IBS. Generally, it has helped my symptoms. Bloating, cramps and wind were noticeably reduced right from the beginning of the trial, and eventually my constipation got better, even though I was eating not only less fibre but a fairly reduced volume of food (1. to help reduce the bloating and 2. to keep my weight stable as low fibre food means higher energy density). However, I look forward to my meals less eagerly, because I just don't enjoy food with fibre as much. I actually like the taste of fibre. I am also a little worried that my current diet, while much gentler on my tummy, is a lot lower in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients. I'm not sure what to do about this at the moment. I am beginning to think that my diet may have been 'too healthy' for me (I know a lot of other people out there who eat much more fibre, even more wholefoods, more raw who actually find their diets help their tummy problems) and that while I do want to add some things back in to my diet, I think I'm going to adopt a more carefree attitude about what I eat, because it does seem to help my IBS. That said, I'm not going to compromise on veganism, and I do prefer to emphasis whole foods over refined, and to prefer organic, seasonal and local food.

I really hope I'll be around more often than I think. And I'll do my best to keep up with the more faithful bloggers whom I love to read:)

Monday, 15 November 2010

Tea Times and Training

I spent the weekend in Dublin with my mum, we booked it a while ago as an early winter pick-me-up; the right mix of chilling and shopping before the Christmas rush. We travelled down through the rain on saturday afternoon and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in front of a log fire having our tea topped up. I got a rhubarb and vanilla infusion, I'm constantly trying out unusual tea flavours. After some vegging out, we headed down to the pool. I had a great swim, as it was a small pool with only two other swimmers in there at its busiest. That's what I love about hotel pools. I was able to put my head fully under the water a few times, although I hadn't taken my contacts out, so I didn't trust my goggles to hold them in place, and I had no spares with me.

After our pool session, we got dressed for dinner. We ate in the hotel's restaurant. The menu had no vegan options, but I ordered the poached fig, rocket and walnut salad without blue cheese, which was rather bland- the figs were pretty much flavourless but the walnuts were nice and so was the balsamic dressing. For a main, I got a pea and broad bean risotto minus the dairy. As I've been keeping my diet quite low fibre recently, the amount of legume in the risotto was rather hard on my tum. Dessert saved the night, my mum got a chocolate mousse served with poached pear and chantilly cream, I ordered the pear with blackberry sorbet and melted dark chocolate on the side. When it came, they had put fresh blackberries out too, and it was a fantastic combo, blackberry, pear and chocolate. Yum! We had Pouilly Fume and I had Tokaji as a night cap. Unfortunately there are no pics as the restaurant was VERY dark (it's called The Cellar).

The food upset both of us, I got really queasy earlier in the morning and had bad tummy cramps all the next day. My poor mum came off worse, and actually threw up in the early morning. While my mum lay on to recover, I went down for another swim. Despite my tummy being a bit off, I had a GREAT swim, I remembered to leave my contacts out and swam properly, putting my head under for the whole session for the first time ever. This has totally inspired me to get back into a regular swimming habit and get fit again.
I headed back to the room and mum was feeling better. We went down for breakfast, me armed with a mini soya milk so I could have some muesli, which was delicious with lots of dried strawberries, yum! I followed up with some grilled tomato and portabello mushroom on toast.
We checked out and left the hotel for the first time since arriving. It was a beautiful morning, so we walked around the park for a while before hitting the shops.

Foodwise, I picked up some treats- this unusual tea:

And some King Soba products: the tofu and ginger miso (dried) soup, the pumpkin, ginger and rice noodles, and the brown rice and wakame noodles. I've been trying to track down those noodles forever! I'm so excited about using them. I also picked up some hazelnut dark chocolate.

Back at work today, my order from Steenbergs arrived in the post. So tonight I tried out the laksa spice mix I got in a coconut sauce with tofu and greens, served with limey rice.
Oops, sorry about the shakey shot

A very good weekend for all things liquidy; tea and swimming. And with a whole new set of spices in the kitchen (including a beautiful Herbes de Provence mix and some smoked paprika), I should hopefully be churning out some more solid consumables. I am still keeping my diet pretty low fibre at the moment, it seems to help a lot with bloating, gas and cramps, and I definitely noticed how much worse it got with all the legumes, salad and muesli over the weekend.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Tofu Fried Rice- Super quick and easy dinner

This is a great nutritious and tasty dinner made from mostly store cupboard/long shelf life and freezer ingredients for when you get home from work, want something nutritious but don't have much in the way of anything fresh. Unlike many store cupboard creations, it doesn't take too long to throw together. I promise this is quicker to make than running around the corner to a takeaway:)

Tofu Fried Rice
1 extra firm tofu ~8oz, pressed if you have time
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp hot spice/chilli of your choice, smoked paprika is nice
1 tbsp olive oil or oil of your choice
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 red pepper, chopped into small cubes
Two handfuls frozen green beans/petit pois
1 cup white rice (for speediness, you can use brown if you have more time- it's my preference, but I'm doing a low fibre trial at the moment)

Mash the tofu with the nutritional yeast, turmeric, oregano and chilli. Stir in the onion, garlic and pepper.
Get the rice on to boil.
Heat some olive oil, add the tofu mixture. Fry on a moderate heat, stirring it around.
When the rice is halfway done, throw in the frozen peas/beans. This adds a little green to te dish to lift it.
When the rice is done (it should take 10 minutes or so if it's white), drain and add to the frying pan, adding a little more oil if necessary. A few minutes will do it.
Serve up, season with salt if you like, but with oregano and chilli I find it doesn't need salt. If you have fresh parsley, that would make a nice garnish. Or even better, a generous squeeze of lemon. You could use cooked small beans or lentils for a soy free version.

And a speedy store cupboard dessert
1 tin pear quarters
Vanilla soya yogurt or custard (blended agar set rice or almond milk pudding if you avoid soy)
Dark chocolate, melted although you can just break it into chunks if using hot custard, it'll melt.

Easy. Put the yogurt or custard in a bowl, top with pears, pour over a little melted dark chocolate or put some chocolate drops or chunks into hot custard.

Neither dish is very fancy, but it's good food that's quick to throw together yet good enough to ease away a hard day's work.

As you can see, I'm finally eating more or less normal food again. But I am so behind with VeganMoFo! I hope to make up for it throughout the month with plenty of recipes:)

Friday, 5 November 2010

No Bake Survey from I Eat Trees

I'm being lazy today and doing the survey from I Eat Trees because I haven't cooked anything for a while. I'm still feeling a bit queasy but I hope to get back to eating beyond farley's rusks, tinned spag, mash and toast over the course of the weekend.

What is one food you thought you’d miss when you went vegan, but don’t?

Artisan cheeses- the smell of cheese disgusts me now

What is a food or dish you wouldn’t touch as a child, but enjoy now?
Olives, mushrooms, dried fruit, beans

What vegan dish or food you feel like you “should” like, but don’t?
Hmm, apart from fake cheeses, mock meats and some vegan milk chocolate attempts, I'm not keen on some aubergine dishes (don't mind thin roasted slices, but big chunks are yucky)

What beverage do you consume the most of on any given day?
Water, followed by black coffee, following by herbal tea

What dish are you “famous” for making or bringing to gatherings?
Spicy one pot things or dessert, either incredibly chocolately tarts or apple/pear tart

Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?

The only real rule I have is no compromise on veganism. I have a few guidelines like eating very little processed food, eating vaguely macrobiotic, eating only when I'm hungry etc, but I do break them in the name of pleasure every now and again.

What’s one food or dish you tend to eat too much of when you have it in your home?
Granola and other naughty breakfast cereals, non dairy ice-cream

What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available prepackaged?
Bread- I don't eat a lot but prefer to make the no knead stuff in my Le Creuset when I fancy some. I never buy pre-made salad dressings either.

What ingredient or food is worth spending the extra money to get “the good stuff”?
Wine, spices, chocolate, proper bread

Are you much of a snacker? What are your favorite snacks?
I don't really graze at all, more of a 4-5 small meals throughout the day girl. Although I like peanuts, peanut butter and pumpkin seeds.

What are your favorite vegan pizza toppings?
Roast veggies, homemade pesto, black olives

What is your favorite vegetable? Fruit?
Any brassica (espescially dark cabbage or cauliflower) and raspberries are my favourite fruit

What is the best salad dressing?
Homemade pesto or vegan tapenade thinned out with balsamic vinegar

What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread?
Crunchy peanut butter

What kind of soup do you most often turn to on a chilly day or when you aren’t feeling your best?

What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Frosting flavor?
I don't get the world's obsession with cupcakes, and get even less why vegan bakers have jumped on this short lived bandwagon. I hear we're on to whoopie pies now (wtf). I'm more a classic un-iced cake fan- like banana loaf cake, chocolate and nut cakes, fruit cake etc.

What is your favorite kind of cookie?
Not a big cookie lover either. PB and dried cherries would be good.

What is your most-loved “weeknight meal”?
Coconut curry with rice noodles or quinoa and loads of spring greens/collards.

What is one dish or food you enjoy, but can’t get anyone else in your household to eat?
Roast turnip is really the only thing my SO will not finish off his plate. We have differing tastes; he eats more stodgy carbs and I prefer creamy things like chocolate and ice-cream

How long, in total, do you spend in the kitchen on an average day?
An hour

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

First proper Mofo post

My examination was today and it went fine, although my tummy is still suffering the effects of strong laxatives and barium. Yucky! I'm also supposed to be following a low residue diet. I read potatoes were a good starch to help ease diarrhea, and peeling and mashing them makes the starch even more gluey, which is supposed to help.
Voila, first food since Monday afternoon's porridge:

I'm quite a fan of that tinned spaghetti. It's one of my favourite comfort foods although I don't eat it very often at all as I try to prepare the vast majority of my food from scratch. It's Sainbury's Organic brand, and it's the only tinned spag I like. I find the Heinz and other stuff much too sweet. The sauce in this one is much more tomatoey than normal tinned spaghetti. I figured if I have to eat low res and diarrhea proof, I may as well do my best to enjoy it!

Other favourite comfort foods of mine:
Mashed potato (nice with stewed apple)
Chocolate rice cereal with rice milk (left to soak so it's nice and soft)
Soya custard and apple sauce/stewed apple
Veganised rice pudding

Anyone else got any favourite comfort foods for when you're feeling a bit delicate? When I was a child, I would always get flat cola and Jacob's cream crackers once I started recovering from a tummy upset. The cola was such a rarity in our house, the other kids would be jealous of the sick one because they'd be allowed coke! I can't say the charm stayed with me though. I detest fizzy sugary drinks these days, especially cola.

Anyway. That's enough sick talk. My plan with Vegan Mofo is to post more recipes, as it's not something I regularly do on the blog. That's usually because I'm not a big recipe person. I throw stuff together that I like, and I don't really do amounts. But cake is one of those things you have to be a bit more precise about! Here's my favourite cake-

Chocolate chip banana bread
200g golden caster sugar
200g vegan butter/spread/margarine- I used Sainsbury's Free From spread, you could use Pure or Earth Balance
4 small overripe bananas, mashed
250g wholemeal self-raising flour- I used Dove's Farm. It's really lovely stuff. You could use gluten free flour, but I've not tried it gluten free before
15g (3 teaspoons) egg replacer
100g dairy free chocolate chips or chopped up dark chocolate. I used Divine's Orange and Ginger chocolate and it was gorgeous!
A splash of non dairy milk if the mix is a little dry

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line and grease a loaf tin.
Beat together the sugar and margarine. Stir in the mashed bananas, flour, egg replacer powder, flour and a little fake milk if the mix is very dry. Get everything thoroughly combined but don't go at it too long. Pour into the lined tin and bake for an hour.
And that's it!

It's not something I make very often, as there's a whole cup of sugar involved. But it's a great way to use up neglected bananas. You can freeze overripe bananas, thaw and mash to make this if you don't want to make it when your bananas are past it.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Still Hungry

At the moment I'm sitting here rather anxiously for the super strength laxative I took half an hour ago to work. Eep! I haven't eaten anything today and have been eating less over the last few days, so I'm hoping it won't be too nasty.
This morning I saw a dietitian- the GI doc referred me to investigate my IBS. Her conclusion was that since a high fibre diet doesn't seem to help my IBS, I should try low fibre. I understand that less fibre will probably ease bloating and wind, but I can't see it helping my constipation. And for a vegan, the allowed foods are pretty grim. White bread and pasta, limited fruit and veggies (no lentils or berries:( ), soya milk, most sauces and condiments, chocolate and yogurt. I'm supposed to avoid legumes, wholegrains, nuts (including peanut butter), seeds, a lot of types of fruit and veg and tofu(!). Apparently, I should take linseeds though. I find this really weird since I know linseeds irritate me, but tofu doesn't. Anyway, I only have to do it for four weeks, so I may as well use the opportunity to make lots of vegan mofo vegan cakes! Although I think I'm going to have to eat some tofu so I don't die of starvation. I will try to blog recipes for yummy vegan things to do with tofu.
Cake or tofu won't be my next meal though- on the way home from the dietitian I went shopping for flavoured water for today, and chocolate coated rice cereal, soya yogurt and baby's Farley's rusks for tomorrow afternoon, when the examination will be over and I can eat again.
Over and out until then! I promise a mofoing recipe next time x

Monday, 1 November 2010

A Hungry Start to Vegan Mofo

It can only get better from here on! Although today is World Vegan Day, I haven't been sampling many vegan delights. I had a slice of banana bread, some soya yogurt and a few raspberries. I then ate nothing until I had a kinda second breakfast, some very soft porridge. Tomorrow I'll be liquids only, then wednesday will be nothing until the examination is over. Once everything's over, THEN I'll be getting into the swing of Vegan Mofo. I'm excited because this will be my first:)