Slow-Cooked Vegetable & Quinoa Stew

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Being away last weekend meant that I couldn’t create a big batch of healthy vegan food to sustain me during the forthcoming week! Needless to say, I grazed on some not-so-healthy options and yesterday decided that it was time to get back into my weekly routine.

I thought a stew would be a convenient way to pack in as many vegetables as possible and it seemed an appropriate choice now that the colder weather has finally descended upon us. I was contemplating whipping up sweet potato mash to compliment it but opted to bulk it out with protein-packed quinoa instead.

The ingredients below made enough for a HUGE pan-full of stew. I’ve had two portions so far and I estimate I’ll get at least another four portions out of it!

INGREDIENTS
•2 tbsps veg oil
•1 large onion, chopped
•3 cloves of garlic, crushed
•3 celery stalks, chopped
•1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
•3 carrots, peeled and chopped
•2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
•The leaves from 6 sprigs of thyme
• 1 tsp dried oregano
•1 tsp paprika
•1 tin of butter beans
•1 tin of chopped tomatoes
• 200ml red wine
•1l veg stock
•200g quinoa
•1 Bay leaf
•2 courgettes, sliced into circles
•200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
•Salt & pepper to season

Method
1) Heat the oil and gently sweat the onion and garlic for 10 minutes. Add the next 10 ingredients and pour in 700ml of stock, setting the rest aside for later.
2) Add the quinoa, bay leaf and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and leave to simmer gently for 35 minutes. Stir occasionally; the dish will dry up as the quinoa expands so keep adding the remaining stock when necessary.
3) Add the courgettes, mushrooms, salt, pepper and more stock if needed. Continue to cook low for 20 minutes or until the courgette has softened. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, remove the bay leaf and serve.

It sounds a lot to do but was actually really easy to make and just about any combination of vegetables can be used. I served with warm, crusty bread for a cosy feel.

Vegfest London 2014

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Last weekend saw the return of Vegfest to Kensington Olympia, a huge 2 day event for all things vegan and animal welfare related. As a vegan newbie, I was delighted to hear that such an event existed but wasn’t quite sure what to expect and I certainly didn’t imagine it to be so popular. I managed to drag my meat-eating boyfriend along; he’s fairly compliant when there’s any type of food involved!

Upon arrival, I was overwhelmed by the amount of stalls at the event, ranging from delicious smelling food to animal welfare campaigners and charities, I didn’t know where to start!

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It was incredibly inspiring to see so many groups of people coming together for the collective purpose of trying to make the world a better place, one way or another. The Vegan Society was there of course, offering support and advice to current vegans, as well as those contemplating a transition to a vegan lifestyle. Additionally, Greenpeace were at the event, continuing to raise awareness of climate change and global warming.

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Our advance tickets enabled us to pick up some freebies including granola, chia shots, yummy almond milk and not so yummy beetroot juice!

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After a few laps of the venue, it was time to make the all important decision of what food to eat. There was almost too much choice for me to handle. I really wanted the tofu tikka masala from Ruperts Street but they’d sold out!

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Whilst Tom opted for a Vietnamese baguette from The Hungry Gecko, I eventually chose some incredibly delicious Pad Thai from Bang Wok which left me ridiculously full!

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With the food part out of the way, it was time for me to treat myself. I picked up this handmade organic lemongrass and coconut body oil from Heavenly Organics which does, in fact, smell heavenly!

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I then came across the stall of a vegan hair salon, The Rabbit Hole, from west London. I purchased an organic hair treatment which seems to have worked wonders on my dyed hair.

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Knowing that I’ve always been somewhat of a cat obsessive, Tom treated me to this cute scarf from the Mayhew Animal Home.

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Before heading home, I grabbed a load of my beloved Nakd bars, as well as some vegan chocolate treats from Moo Free.

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Finally, Tom and I couldn’t resist the cookie sandwiches from Ms Cupcake but we were far too full to eat them then and there. However they proved to be a wonderful evening treat, washed down with a nice cup of tea!

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What a great, inspirational day it was which showed that veganism doesn’t have to be difficult at all and has such positive benefits to individual health, animals and the planet.

I’m looking forward to the next Vegfest event already!

vegfest.co.uk