Greenwich Market

Having lived in London for over 5 years, I was amazed to have only just heard of Greenwich Market. After friends telling me tales of vegan cake stalls, I knew a visit was long overdue.

What amazed me most was the sheer abundance of vegan food available. Not only exclusively vegetarian and vegan stalls but mainstream stalls offering vegan alternatives of their signature dishes. The choices for vegans at Greenwich Market hugely surpasses the likes of Broadway and Borough Markets.

After several laps of the market, I eventually opted for the vegan world food stall, Return to Shashamane.

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For £6, I received a large box filled with a little bit of all the dishes listed in the menu below:

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Delicious, refreshing, filling and healthy, I was a very satisfied customer.

Despite being ridiculously full, there was no way I was going to leave without paying a visit to Ruby’s, a vegan cake stall!

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I sampled one of their salted caramel cupcakes and I can categorically say that this was one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever tasted-vegan and non-vegan!

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So if, like me, you’re always on the lookout for new places to sample some vegan delights, look no further than Greenwich Market.

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http://www.greenwichmarketlondon.com

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Caffi V @ Gwledd Conwy Feast 2014

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I’ve just returned from spending a relaxing weekend in my native North Wales, the first time I’ve been back there since becoming vegan. Growing up a vegetarian, I never considered it to be the most progressive of areas in terms of food and meal options for me were somewhat thin on the ground when eating out. So this weekend I never imagined that I’d be taken somewhere I’d be able to gorge on a load of vegan food!

My brother and sister-in-law took me to a food festival in Conwy, a walled market town along the North Wales coast. Situated in the grounds of a B&B, against the backdrop of the castle, was Caffi V, a volunteer-led vegan cafe serving up a range of plant-based, ethical foods. The beauty of this organisation is that their food was actually FREE; donations were all that were requested!

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First of all, I virtually inhaled this delicious plate of vegetable korma and rice; it barely touched the sides!

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The group had even created a clay wood-fired oven in which they cooked their vegan pizzas. Despite having just eaten a curry, I couldn’t possibly leave without having sampled some pizza!

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Cashews and tapioca were blended to create the creamy, cheese-like topping, a refreshing change to soya cheese.

Great food, atmosphere and scenery made for a lovely afternoon. I might just have to start visiting the homeland more often now!

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http://www.conwyfeast.com/feast-fringe/

https://m.facebook.com/CaffiVegan?_rdr

Roasted Red Pepper & Lentil Soup

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I love a hearty bowl of soup for lunch during the week and there’s nothing more satisfying than making your own, free from the high levels of salt, sugar and preservatives that the shop-bought varieties contain.

I made a massive batch of this delicious soup on Sunday afternoon and it has provided me with lunch for the entire working week.

Several red peppers are required in order to bring out the flavour in the soup but I can guarantee it’s worth it. I used a mixture of bell peppers and sweet pointed peppers.

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Roasting them for an extended period with thyme brings out immensely sweet flavours and the added red lentils give that hearty feel to it.

INGREDIENTS (4-5 portions)
•4 red bell peppers
•4 sweet pointed peppers
•4 tomatoes, halved
•3 cloves of garlic, crushed
•The leaves of 7 sprigs of thyme
•1 tsp black pepper
• Pinch of salt
•1tbsp olive oil
•700ml veg stock
• 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
•200g red lentils

METHOD
1) Pre-heat the oven at 180c. De-seed and roughly chop the peppers, placing in a large oven-proof dish along with the tomatoes. Sprinkle on the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, drizzling over the oil.

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2) Place in the oven and roast for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, rinse and boil the lentils, drain and set aside.
3) When removing the peppers from the oven, leave to stand and cool significantly. Add the majority of the stock and blitz with a hand-held blender. Examine the consistency and add more stock if necessary. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, lentils and serve.

I drizzled a dash of soya cream on mine and served with a sprig of thyme. The rest of the soup was then dished out in tuppeware boxes, ready for the week ahead!

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Spinach & Lentil Harissa Burgers

Served with rosemary-infused sweet potato chips.

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I had my best friend round for dinner last night and gave her some options as to what we could eat. She chose the burger and chips option so I took the opportunity to throw together a new recipe (any excuse)!

When I’ve made nut roasts before, I’ve found that blending lentils has always created a moist roast that naturally binds itself together so decided to to use lentils as the main component of the burgers. The spinach adds another level of texture and colour, whilst the harissa packs a punch of flavour.

As I’d never made these burgers before and was completely improvising, I did endure a near cooking catastrophe. I’d envisioned shallow frying the burgers but once added to the oil, they just formed a gloopy mess! Luckily, this happened with only a small sample of the burger mixture. I ended up cooking them in the oven instead and all was fine and dandy.

INGREDIENTS (8 burgers approx)
•300g red lentils, boiled and drained
•1 tbsp oil
•1 onion, finely chopped
•3 cloves of garlic, crushed
•100g fresh spinach
•3tsps ground cumin
•1/2 tsp tumeric
•1 tbsp harissa paste
•juice of 1/2 a lemon
•A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
•Salt and pepper to season
•A small cup of plain flour

METHOD
1) Heat the oven to 180c. Heat the oil and gently sauté the onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the boiled lentils, followed by the spinach, stirring until it begins to wilt.
2) Add the cumin, tumeric, harissa paste, lemon juice and coriander, mixing until it resembles a very thick paste. Remove from the heat and season.
3) Stir in the flour and use your hands to mould the mix into burger shapes, adding more flour if necessary. Place on a baking tray and cook for 15 minutes on each side. Leave to stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

For the chips, I peeled and chopped sweet potatoes into chunks and very lightly coated in olive oil. I then spread the chips out on a baking tray and sprinkled on generous portions of salt and black pepper, as well as a few sprigs of fresh rosemary.

I cooked in the oven for 15 minutes, turned and cooked for a further 10 minutes, removing the rosemary before serving.

I placed the burgers in buns, added some vegan mayo and enjoyed! My meat-eating friend praised the burgers as well so I highly recommend these for a comforting weekend treat!

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What’s in the bag…?

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Since making the transition to veganism, Holland & Barrett has become my new favourite shop. I’ve popped into their stores sporadically for vitamins and various herbal remedies in the past but I don’t know why I’ve only just noticed their refrigerated and frozen section! I visited the Moorgate store yesterday and picked up a few treats…

•cereal bars
•vegan flapjack
•Provamel soya yogurts
•vegan sunflower spread
•Cheezly Edam- style cheese

And best of all…

•Booja-Booja hunky punky chocolate ‘ice-cream’!

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Made from just 4 ingredients (water, cocoa powder, agave syrup and cashew nuts), this organic concoction tastes unbelievably sweet and creamy. I don’t think anyone would be able to tell that this isn’t the real thing.

And I just loved the back of the carrier bag, almost as much as the contents inside…!

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Vegetarianism to Veganism: The Switch

Yes, it’s official. After nearly 16 years of vegetarianism, I’ve finally done what I should have done years ago and ventured into a cruelty-free lifestyle. By being vegetarian, I thought that I was doing enough to relieve myself of the guilt of the torture and suffering caused to countless innocent creatures. If I’m entirely honest with myself, my love of cheese and desire for an easy life shrouded the deep-down knowledge I had that egg and dairy farming are inflicting just as much suffering on animals as the act of slaughter itself.

For years I was of the misguided belief that veganism was a highly extreme and near enough impossible way of life. It was only last year when I started up this blog and began linking up with inspirational vegan bloggers that I realised that this is not the case. Whilst the basis of many of my recipes involved cheese or dairy, I started experimenting with vegan ingredients, feeling a lot more creative in the process.

Last year, I made a conscious decision to reduce my dairy intake by cutting out eggs in their pure form, limiting the amount of cheese I ate and switching to soya milk. When I used to consume milk in large quantities (such as a venti latte), I would often become plagued with feelings of bloatedness and indigestion. Soya milk soon put a stop to this. My decision was further cemented upon reading the book ‘PopCo’ by Scarlett Thomas which further raised the ethical issues surrounding the consumption of animals and their by-products.

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I managed a few vegan weeks at the start of the year for the Veganuary pledge but found myself falling short once again. However the knowledge of what is inflicted on cows to produce dairy weighed heavily on my mind and I started to lose any enjoyment in it.

It was the ‘Horizons: Should I Eat Meat?’ documentaries that finally clarified what I already knew. Seeing images of chicks on conveyor belts in factories and a farmer with his arm inside a cow’s digestive system made me realise that this is an inhumane, greedy and exploitive industry that I do not want to be a part of in any way, shape or form. When scrutinising what milk is, the fluid from inside a cow filled with hormones, antibiotics and who knows what else, the transition has been an incredibly easy one!

Now nearly a month in, I’m feeling better than ever before, as if a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’ve still got a lot to learn in terms of which products are vegan but I know I’m going to enjoy exploring new ingredients. I’ve already ventured into a spot of vegan bakery and thoroughly loved these heavenly brownies served with soya cream.

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There are many reasons to go vegan, from health to environmental and ethical ones. People who claim that it’s difficult and unhealthy clearly need to do their research. And if you haven’t already seen the Horizons documentaries then I strongly recommend you do. I challenge even the most cold-hearted of people to not be affected.http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fhbrt

Further Reading
The Vegan Society

Environmental impact of the meat industry

Veganism linked to lower cancer rates

http://veggiesoup4thesoul.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1