Welcome to the veg files.

As a longtime vegetarian I started this blog as a place to share tips, recipes and general knowhow on maintaining a healthy vegetarian lifestyle. When I first became a vegetarian I was pretty lost and confused about just how to make sure I and my family got the right amount of nutrition, so I hope that this blog will help anyone out there who is feeling the same way. Of course, I hope this blog is useful to the old hands out there too!

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I know I will enjoy writing it.

For money saving tips, articles and even more recipes check out my posts on Hubpages. For online money making opportunities go here. To check out my photography go here.

Friday, 31 December 2010

The best way to cook vegetables.

Getting the very best from what you eat is important. Some methods of cooking vegetables pretty much destroys any of the goodness they contain. Vitamins C and B are the ones most at risk of being destroyed by cooking. Both of these vitamins are very heat sensitive and water soluble, a double whammy when it comes to boiling.

With this in mind the very best way to cook vegetables is by microwaving them until they are almost cooked through and then steaming them right at the end. This method will ensure that not only are your veggies still a little crisp and tasty but they will have the maximum amount of vitamins too.

A different method is needed when dealing with vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes. Both are very high in the pigment lycopene, this pigment is best absorbed by the body when it is cooked. Add a little oil to the cooking water of carrots also helps with lycopene absorption. Stir fry tomatoes for a couple of minutes or use them to make a sauce for pasta.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Hidden dangers of a vegetarian lifestyle.

It can be easy to think that being a vegetarian means you are naturally going to be healthier than a meat eater but being a vegetarian can hold hidden dangers. Many vegetarian friendly foods that are high in necessary protein such as nuts, eggs, cheese and milk are also high in fat and calories. Remember to chose low fat varieties of dairy products wherever possible. Eat no more than a small handful of nuts each day, nuts are surprisingly high in both fat and calories.

A vegetarian diet can also lead to iron deficiency and anaemia. Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables and fruits such as prunes. A surprising way to get a little bit more iron into your diet is to use iron cooking pots and skillets. Making sure that you get plenty of vitamin C will help your body absorb more iron too.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Aloo gobi recipe.

Aloo gobi is a wonderful dish of Indian origin. It is slightly spicy, filling and healthy.

Ingredients for making Aloo gobi.

500g cooked boiled potatoes cut into small chunks, new potatoes are ideal for this dish.
1 red onion, finely sliced.
3 tomatoes cut into cubes.
600g cauliflower cut into florets.
1tbsp vegetable oil.
2tbsp mild curry powder.
80g frozen spinach.
2tbsp lemon juice.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the oil and the curry powder in a large pan or wok. Add the sliced red onion and the lemon juice and fry for five minutes until the onion has softened. Add the cubes of tomatoes and the cauliflower florets and stir well. Add a little water, cover the pan and cook the aloo gobi for fifteen minutes. Turn up the heat and add the cooked potato pieces and the spinach, cook for a further five minutes.Season to taste and serve with pitta bread or nan bread.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Cauliflower cheese recipe.

Cauliflower cheese is one of those dishes that makes you feel good as you eat it. I love comfort food and cauliflower cheese is comfort food at its best. You can make cauliflower cheese with just about any type of cheese you have. It works well with Cheddar but is just as tasty if you use a blue cheese such as Stilton.

1 large cauliflower broken into florets.
1 pint of milk.
6oz cheese.
1 tsp mustard.
3tbs flour.
3tbs butter or spread.
salt and pepper to taste.


Cook the cauliflower florets in salted boiling water for about five minutes, remove from the heat and drain well. You need to leave cauliflower to drain in a sieve over a bowl or plate for at least five minutes, it's surprising just how much water will drain out of it in this time. If you skip this step your cauliflower cheese will be too runny. As the cauliflower is draining put all of the other ingredients except the cheese into a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Keep stirring all the time with a balloon whisk or the sauce will go lumpy. Add all but a handful of grated cheese to the sauce and stir until it has dissolved.

Put the cooked cauliflower into a deep sided ovenproof dish and pour over the cheese sauce.Top with the retained cheese and bake in a moderate oven for twenty minutes or until the top has browned and gone crispy. Serve with crusty bread for a great supper dish or use as a side dish for a main meal.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas leftovers.

I hope everyone had a very good Christmas, I know I did. The only trouble is I seriously over bought on food. I seem to have enough food left for another week! A good way to use up leftover cooked veg is to put the lot in a big saucepan and heat it up with some vegetable stock, milk or half and half and then blitz in the blender. Makes excellent soup. Or simply fry cut up veg and potatoes in a little olive oil until crisp on one side then turn over and cook until crisp on both sides. Serve this mixture with runny fried eggs for a quick and easy lunch or supper dish.

Leftover Christmas pudding can be warmed through in a frying pan and served with cream, custard or ice cream.

If you have any small cooked potatoes cut them into chunks and mix with mayonnaise and a little wholegrain mustard for a great tasting potato salad.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Mulled wine recipe.

For all those people out there wanting to get even further into the Christmas spirit here is a great vegetarian friendly recipe for making mulled wine.

1bottle vegetarian red wine.
3floz veggie sherry.
3tbl honey, leave this out for vegans.
2tsp ground allspice.
1/2tsp nutmeg freshly grated.
1 sweet apple.
12 whole cloves.


First stud the apple with the whole cloves and bake in a moderate oven for ten minutes. Pour the wine, honey if you are using it and the sherry into a large pan. Add the spices and the apple and heat through but do not allow to boil. Simmer for five minutes and serve hot. Have a wonderful, happy Christmas.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Recipe for making Chow-Chow.

Chow-Chow is a type of pickle or relish typically associated with Nova Scotia and the southern states of America. Chow-Chow is a great store cupboard stand by that taste wonderful and goes well will just about anything, from cold meats and cheeses to fish and roast dinners. The unusual name Chow-Chow is said to come from the French word chou meaning cabbage. Then again Chow-Chow could also have its origins in China or India. The real origins of this spicy relish are lost in the midst of time, as with so many great tasting things people want to claim it as their own. Of course, the real origin of this and many dishes like it was probably the very real need to preserve vegetables for use in the long cold winter time. Chow- Chow is very similar in appearance but not taste to the English relish known as piccalilli.


4 green peppers, deseeded and chopped.
1 whole white cabbage, shredded.
4 sticks of celery, chopped.
6 white onions, chopped.
3 tomatoes, skinned and chopped.
1 large cucumber, chopped.
2 tbs turmeric.
2tsp ground ginger.
2tsp ground cloves.
4oz mustard seeds.
1 lb soft brown sugar.
1 ½ pints brown vinegar.
Salt and pepper to taste.


In a large pan filled with salted hot water par boil the shredded cabbage, chopped peppers, celery and onions for about ten minutes. Drain and set aside to cool slightly. In large sterilized preserving jars layer up this mixture with the remaining vegetables. Put all of the other ingredients into the pan and bring up to the boil, simmer this mixture for fifteen minutes. Pour this liquid over the vegetables in the preserving jars to within ½ inch of the top of the jar. Close the lid and store in a cool dark place. This Chow-Chow will keep for weeks if sealed.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

How to make a basic vegetable stock.

A good quality vegetable stock is easy to make and very versatile, use it as a base for everything from sauces to soups.


1 large white onion.
4 carrots.
4 sticks of celery.
1 small sweede or turnip.
2oz vegetable oil.
4 pints of water.
Fresh ground black pepper to taste.
Either a good bunch of fresh mixed herbs or 3tsp dried.


Chop all of the vegetables into roughly the same size. In a large stockpot heat up the oil and then fry the vegetables for ten minutes. Cook until the onion has browned. Add the water, herbs and seasoning. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer the stock for an hour. Strain well before using. This stock will freeze very well, use within six months.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Vegetarian and vegan beers.

This festive season and in fact anytime throughout the year, if you want to make sure that the beer you are drinking is veggie friendly then always go for a German one. The German purity law which has been in operation since the sixteenth century ensures that all German beers are only made using water, hops, barley and yeast.This means that they are vegan, all of them which makes shopping just that little bit easier.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Griddled eggplant or aubergines recipe.

Aubergines or eggplants are a wonderful and filling meat substitute for a main course. I always think that griddling vegetables and fruit improves the flavour. I have a very old griddle pan that I use almost everyday and this recipe in particular cooks very well on it.


4 small aubergines cut into halves.
4oz toasted pine nuts.
4 oz vegetarian hard cheese.
a large bunch of fresh basil leaves.
salt and pepper to taste.
Extra virgin olive oil.
Grated rind and juice from two lemons.


Place the aubergines cut side down onto your hot griddle pan. Cook for four minutes each side. Keep the cooked aubergines warm in a dish in a moderate oven until they are all done. In a blender mix the remaining ingredients together until smooth. To serve simply drizzle the sauce over the aubergines. Serve with a mixed green salad and some warm crusty bread to soak up all of the wonderful sauce.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

A perfectly balanced vegetarian meal.

Making a perfectly balanced vegetarian meal doesn't need to be complicated.
Toast some wholegrain bread, butter with a little olive oil spread,top with a tin of hot baked beans and a handful of grated cheese. It makes a quick and easy lunch or supper dish and in my experience children really love it.

Follow with a little fresh fruit and you can't go wrong.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Baked bananas recipe.

For a quick and easy dessert slice bananas lengthwise and place onto a piece of lightly buttered foil. Drizzle over some honey and a teaspoonful of dark brown sugar, wrap up tightly and bake in a moderate oven for fifteen minutes. Take out and open very carefully, serve with ice cream or cream. You can leave them in the foil packets and just place the whole thing onto a small plate. These cook really well on the bar-b-que too.

For a more adult version add a little rum and some chopped nuts before cooking.

Bananas are a great source of potassium and give a real boost to energy levels.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Top Tip.

When using avocados in a recipe , always use a stainless steel knife to cut them. This will stop the avocados from discolouring and give you time to prepare your recipe. A little citrus juice rubbed into the cut surface works well too, if you leave the stone in one side that will prevent that side from turning colour too.

To ensure that you have a ripe avocado gently press the rounded end of the pear, if it yields slightly then it's ripe. Don't buy any of the fruits that have blotchy or dry skins and reject any that feel too soft.

Bread and butter pudding recipe.

If you find yourself with some leftover, slightly stale bread this is a great recipe for using it up.

a little butter.
2 eggs.
1/2 pint of milk.
2 oz sugar.
Dried fruit, raisins, sultanas, prunes whatever you have in the storecupboard.
Pinch of grated nutmeg.

Remove the crusts from the bread you have and then butter each slice well before cutting them into four triangles. Grease a shallow ovenproof dish and layer up the bread, spreading the dried fruit and a little sugar between each layer. Beat the milk and the eggs together and pour over the bread, leave to stand for thirty minutes. Sprinkle some sugar and nutmeg over the top and then bake in a moderate oven for thirty minutes. The top should be brown and almost caramelised. Serve hot with cream, ice cream or hot custard.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

How to make potted cheese.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year but it can also be a time of waste. Most of us are guilty of buying too much food in the festive season and as someone who hates to throw anything away, I am always looking at new ways to use up old food. If you find you have left over bits and pieces of cheese, it doesn't matter how many different kinds you have they all mix well in this recipe, then make a potted cheese. Potted cheese can be spread on toast for a light lunch or supper dish. It also goes great with crackers for a buffet, just spread it and then top with slices of cherry tomatoes and a basil leaf or olives.

Weigh the cheese you are going to use and measure out half that weight in softened butter or vegan spread. Grate the cheese into a large bowl, add the butter or spread and a couple of spoonfulls of sherry. Add a little mustard, salt and pepper to taste. This dish tastes really good if you use wholegrain mustard as the seeds give it texture and interest. Now beat the whole lot together until it is very smooth, use a food processor or stick blender, or a simple wooden spoon and a lot of effort! Pot up the cheese mixture in a dish and keep in the fridge until about thirty minutes before you are going to use it.

My family like to have this potted cheese on warm croissants and my meat eater husband tells me it taste wonderful with ham in a sandwich or roll.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

How to make a basic vegan sponge cake.

Making a decent vegan cake can be a tricky business, this is a good basic cake recipe that I have found to be tasty and simple to make.


200g super fine or caster sugar.
400g self raising flour.
200ml sunflower oil.
300ml soya milk
1 tsp lemon juice.
1 tsp good vanilla essence.
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda.


Mix the caster sugar and the flour together and then stir in the oil. In a jug mix the soya milk, the lemon juice, vanilla essence and the bicarbonate of soda together. Add the liquid to the flour mix and stir well. Pour the better into a greased cake tin and bake in a moderate oven, 180 - 200 c for around 40 minutes. If a knife pushed into the middle of the cake comes out clean then the cake is cooked.

You can add cocoa powder to make this a chocolate cake, or lemon zest and a little extra juice to make lemon cake. Let your imagination run wild and use this basic recipe to make any cake you fancy. Let me know how your cake turns out.

Monday, 13 December 2010

How to make nut brittle.

This is another one of those simple little recipes that tastes delicious and looks really impressive, this nut brittle goes great with a coffee after a meal, and they make wonderful presents too. Cut the nut brittle into small squares and put them in pretty petit four cases, before wrapping in some cellophane.

Roughly chop a selection of nuts, brazil, cashews, walnuts and if you want to make it really special some macadamia nuts. Spread the nuts out on a baking tray covered with some non stick baking paper. In a heavy based frying pan or skillet gently heat around 250g of fine white sugar. Don't stir the pan just gently swirl the sugar around until it caramelises. Pour over the nuts and leave to set. It really is that simple. Take care as the sugar gets very hot!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Butternut squash bake.

This is a wonderful filling dish that is good enough for a quick supper dish but also fancy enough to go with a dinner party at Christmas time.

2lb potatoes, thinly sliced, I leave the washed skins on but you can peel them if you prefer.
2lb butternut squash, deseeded, peeled and thinly sliced.
2tsp butter.
1 pint semi skimmed milk.
1/2 pint single cream.
salt and pepper to taste.
1tsp mixed dried herbs.
2 spring onions,sliced (scallions).

Butter a large flat baking dish, a lasagne dish is perfect, and then layer the squash and potatoes in it. Sprinkle the herbs, salt and pepper between the layers. In a saucepan warm up the milk and the cream and then pour over the vegetables and top with the sliced spring onions. Bake for around forty minutes. You can put a little grated cheese on the top for added protein but cover the dish with foil for the first twenty minutes baking time.

My family like to serve this with some warm crusty bread and a tossed green salad. If you want this dish to look a little less rustic, bake it in individual gratin dishes. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Soup, glorious soup!

Nothing tastes better than a nice big bowl of steaming hot soup and few things could be easier to cook. Two of my favourite soups are stilton and brocoli and leek and potato. Both have the same basic start, fry half of a finely diced onion in a little olive oil or butter until it is softened but not browned. Add about two pints of liquid, this can be vegetable stock, water, milk or any combination of the three depending on what you have to hand. Add salt and pepper to taste. For leek and potato soup fry two sliced leeks with the onion and add four or five large potaotes to the liquid, bring to the boil and cook for about thirty minutes, remove from the heat and liquidise. For the stilton and broccoli soup add a head of broccoli to the liquid and cook for twenty minutes then crumble in some stilton and cook for another ten minutes then liquidise.

Monday, 6 December 2010

How to make chocolate truffles.

Nothing could be better than a huge pile of homemade chocolate truffles, except maybe two piles. This is another great recipe that's quick and easy to make, looks wonderful and tastes even better. These chocolate truffles make a very good homemade present, they don't keep too well, so leave it to the last minute before making them.


10 oz good quality dark chocolate.
2 oz unsalted butter.
10 fl oz double cream.
4 tbs brandy or rum.
2 tbs creme fraich.

Grind up the chocolate in a food processor, or grate it on the finest blade. It should look like grains of sugar, it really does need to be that fine. Put the butter, cream and brandy or rum into a saucepan, bring this mixture up to a simmer. Take off the heat and add slowly to the chocolate with the mixer running on medium. You can do this by hand, just drizzle the mixture into the chocolate and keep stirring like crazy! It should look smooth and creamy at this stage,add the creme fraich and set aside to cool. Cover with cling film and put it in the fridge overnight. Next day simply roll small amounts of the truffle mixture into balls and coat with cocoa powder. Put the truffles into small paper cases and put back into the fridge to firm up again after handling. These truffles can also be rolled in chopped nuts, grated white chocolate, or dipped into melted chocolate. Use a cocktail stick to hold the truffle ball, dip it into melted chocolate then set it aside on some greaseproof paper until it has set before transfering it to a paper case.

You can make these chocolate truffles in advance and freeze them before defrosting them and putting them in their cases. Make up small bags to give away to friends and family or keep them all to yourself. Let me know what you think of this recipe if any of you make them. It's always nice to know that someone, somewhere is finding my blog helpful or interesting.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

In a Christmas mood.

Having just come home after spending a very pleasant few days in Stratford on Avon I am in a Christmas mood. Stratford is a beautiful place at any time of year but with snow still glistening on the thatched roofs,the water in the lock frozen solid and the abundance of Christmas trees and festive decorations it was picture postcard perfect. So in honour of the fast approaching holiday I am going to start posting some Christmas recipies.

Brandy butter recipe.

8 oz softened unsalted butter.
6 0z light brown (muscovado) sugar.
4 fl oz brandy.


Place the room temperature butter into a large bowl and whisk with an electric beater until it is light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar a little at a time whisking continually, then drizzle in the brandy. Keep whisking until the mixture is smooth and creamy. If the mixture starts to separate simply add a little more sugar. This brandy butter will keep for a week in the fridge but remember to take it out an hour before you want to use it. You can make a vegan version of this by using vegan spread, but I won't lie to you it really doesn't taste the same. You can improve it a little by adding a small amount of cinnamon to the sugar.

Monday, 29 November 2010


Fresh basil is a wonderful, fragrant herb that goes really well with tomatoes. It is quite a delicate herb, and as such can bruise very easily. Always tear rather than chop the leaves. Basil is best added at the end of cooking time as the flavour can be impaired if overcooked. For a very simple pasta sauce try adding cherry tomatoes and olive oil to cooked pasta and stir through over a gently heat until warmed through then add a few torn basil leaves. Sprinkle over some grated cheese for added taste, calcium and protein. Serve with a tossed green salad and crusty garlic bread.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Is it that time of year already?

Today my youngest daughter asked me for help, not a thing that has happened all that much these past couple of years. She's seventeen, so of course, she knows everything about everything.I can't remember where the quote comes from but I remember someone saying that they only employed teenagers as they wanted to catch people whilst they still knew everything. But today she did ask me for help. She has lots of friends and this year she want's to be a bit more independant and buy Christmas presents for them out of her own money. Which is wonderful but the trouble is she doesn't have any money. So she asked me what to do.

I won't decribe the look she gave me when I suggested homemade gifts but a baby sucking lemons comes to mind. But after a quick session cooking honeycomb and wrapping the little golden treats in some fancy celophane and tying them up with gold ribbons she was won over. Later I am going to show her how to make some chocolate truffles, I will share that recipe later in the week.

Recipe for honeycomb.
600g fine caster sugar.
2 pinches of cream of tartar.
4tbsp white wine vinegar.
4 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda.
400g golden syrup.

Take a shallow baking tray and line it with oiled tin foil.Put the sugar, 1/2 pint of cold water,cream of tartar, vinegar and the golden syrup into a heavey based saucepan.Cook over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Swirl the pan from time to time but do not stir. Bring to the boil for ten minutes until the mixture reaches 150c on a sugar thermometer if you have one. If you don't then take a very small amount of the mixture and drop in into a a saucer of very cold water. It will go hard and brittle when it is ready. As soon as it reaches the right temperature remove the pan from the heat and cool it by putting the pan into a sink half filled with cold water. Quickly stir in the bicarbonate of soda, and a dessertspoonful of cold water. Swirl the pan as the mixture foams up but be very careful it is hot! Let it bubble away for about a minute then pour it into the foiled baking tray. Leave it to cool until it has set and then turn it out onto a clean surface and break into chunks.

This will only keep for a few days so if you want to give it as a pressie then make it just before Christmas. It taste wonderful and looks great too, I will post some pictures when my camera is fixed, or better yet replaced. Are you listening Santa?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Leeks in orange and ginger sauce.

This is a wonderful little side dish that is fancy enough for Christams dinner.


80g butter or vegan marg.
1 1/2 lbs sliced leeks.
Zest of one orange
1tsp chopped ginger.
salt and pepper to taste.
9fl oz fresh orange juice.
1 tsp cornflour.


Melt the butter in a heavy based pan and saute the sliced leeks for ten minutes, season to taste and add the ginger. Sprinkle the cornflour over the leeks and cook for another minute or two,add the orange zest and most of the orange juice. Bring back up to simmering and cook for two minutes. Add the remainung orange zest and the rest of the juice just before serving.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

How to make creamy green pea soup.

This recipe helps provide calcium, which can often be lacking in a strict vegetarian or vegan diet. It looks and tastes good, is quick to prepare and keeps for a couple of days in the fridge, so it can be made in advance.

2 onions diced.
15oz frozen peas.
10floz milk
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
21/2 pints of vegetable stock.
2tsp vegetarian margarine.
2tsp corn flour.
2tsp sugar.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Gently fry the onions in the olive oil until they are soft. Add half the corn flour and stir for a couple of minutes, remove from the heat and add about a quarter of the stock. Whisk briskly until very smooth and then add the rest of the stock and the sugar. Return to the heat, add the peas and simmer for ten minutes. Slowly add the milk and the remaining corn flour, season to taste and then heat until almost boiling. Liquidize the soup in a blender or pass through a fine sieve. Serve in warmed bowls with garlic bread, you can sprinkle a few chopped herbs over the top just before serving.

This dish can be made vegan if you use vegan spread and soya milk.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

How to make mushroom and chickpea curry.

This is a tasty little recipe that takes less than twenty minutes to cook, it's great for supper served with rice or some warm pitta or nan bread.

1 large chopped onion.
2 crushed garlic cloves.
1 tin chickpeas, drained.
1lb of sliced mushrooms.
1 small tin chopped tomatoes.
vegetable oil for frying.
2tsp curry powder, whichever you prefer.
salt and pepper to taste.
1 small red chilli, sliced.
A few coriander leaves to garnish, optional.


In a deep frying pan or wok fry the onion in the oil until soft, add the tomatoes, garlic and curry powder and cook for another two minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and a little water, season to taste, cover and simmer until the mushrooms are cooked. Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Top tip.

These days saving money and cutting down on waste is even more important than ever, throwing away perfectly good food is just plain crazy. Use up left over cooked veg, or veg that has seen better days by making soup. Homemade soup is cheap, quick and easy to make and tastes just as good as, if not better than, the shop bought variety. Simple put the leftovers into a blender with a little stock, water, or milk and blitz until smooth. Curry powder added to cooked parsnips tastes amazing, coriander goes well with carrots and leeks make potatoes zing. If all you have left in the store cupboard is a couple of onions then make french onion soup.

French onion soup recipe.

Dice the onions and sautee them slowly in a little butter or olive oil until they turn a golden brown colour. Add some vegetable stock, some made using a stock cube is fine, and cook for a further ten minutes. Serve with crusty bread, or as the french do with a slice of french stick floating on the top covered in a little grated cheese. This soup is perfect for cold winter nights and keeps well in the fridge for days.

Sunday, 21 November 2010


Walnut, date and banana loaf cake.
This is a wonderful loaf cake recipe for using up ripe bananas. In our house we like this cake still warm from the oven with a little honey drizzled over the top. It is just as nice cold and will keep well for days if stored in an airtight container.

180g unsalted butter.
210g self raising flour.
3 free range eggs.
90g caster sugar.
3 ripe bananas.
90g chopped dates.
50g chopped walnuts.
3tbsp honey.

Pre-heat the oven to 160c, grease and line a 10inch loaf tin with baking parchment.Put the flour,butter,sugar and eggs into a large bowl and beat until combined. Now stir in the dates, nuts and mash the bananas then add them too. Put this mixture into the loaf tin and bake for around 1 hour. The loaf cake is cooked when a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean. Make a few holes in the top of the still hot cake and then pour over some honey and allow it to soak in. Allow the cake to cool slightly and then turn it upside down on a plate and remover the paper.

Friday, 19 November 2010

An apple a day.

There is a well known saying 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away',which would appear to be true. Apples contain high levels of pectin, a particularly useful type of fibre.Pectin is believed by doctors to help lower cholesterol levels.So the best thing to do is eat more apples, at least one a day. Why not have one sliced on top of breakfast cereal in the morning and another for dessert later in the day. Try this great tasting and very simple recipe for baked apple.

Take one large cooking apple, bramleys are wonderful but any large apple will do. You can use a good sized eating apple, but I find them a little too sweet for this recipe but that is down to personal taste.Wash the apple and remove the stalk and core, you can get a special tool for this but a small sharp knife also does the job quite well. Now cut a shallow groove all around the widest part of the apple to allow for expansion during cooking. If you don't do this the skin will burst and make a mess, it still tastes great but doesn't look good. Pour a little lemon juice into the hollow core to prevent the apple turning brown.Place the apple in a shallow ovenproof dish and then stuff the empty core with fruit such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or with a little sweet mincemeat. Bake in a medium oven for around thirty minutes or four minutes in a microwave. Serve hot with custard, cream or ice cream. If you want to be extra healthy serve this dish with a nice sorbet.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Top tip.

When cooking whole ears of sweetcorn by boiling them, don't add any salt to the cooking water. Salt reacts with the corn and can make the kernels tough,if you want your sweetcorn to really be sweet and delicious add a pinch of sugar to the water instead. Allow the corn to rest in the hot water for about ten minutes before you serve it and it will be the best tasting corn you've ever had.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

How to make vegan satay sauce.

Satay sauce is a wonderful tasting sauce that can be used to spice up vegan meals. Try dry frying some cubes of tofu then threading them onto satay sticks before covering them in this satay sauce and warming them in the oven, serve hot and provide additional satay sauce in bowls for dipping. Goes great with some boiled rice or in pita bread with shreded iceberg lettuce, remember to take the stick out first, of course.

1 cup of white onion finely chopped.
2 tbsp sesame oil.
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice.
2 tbsp maple syrup.
4 crushed cloves of garlic.
6 tbsp rich dark soy sauce.
1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter.
1/2 cup vegetable stock.
1/2 cup of vegetable oil.

Fry the onions and garlic in the sesame oil until softened and slightly golden in colour. Add the remaining ingredients and blitz in a food blender until smooth.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Getting enough calcium.

Calcium is an essential mineral for building healthy bones and teeth.It helps to keep the heart regulated and blood clotting properly. Getting enough calcium is most important in young people under the age of twenty five, after that time bones start to lose density as part of the natural aging process. Vegetarians and especially vegans can be at risk of having too low a calcium intake.It's very important to include the following in your diet if you want to remain healthy.

Dried fruits.
Dark green leafy vegetables.
Sesame seeds.

This is a great tasting recipe that helps to boost your calcium intake.

Iced berry fool.

10oz frozen mixed berries.
20floz plain soya yogurt.
Juice of half a lemon.
Juice of half an orange.
3tbsp toasted almonds chopped into small pieces.
A little superfine (icing) sugar to taste.

Place all of the ingredients, except the almonds, into a blender and blitz until smooth, pour into glasses and sprinkle the toasted nuts onto the top.

Healthy and delicious, enjoy.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

How to make vegetarian pesto.

Pesto is a great tasting, versatile paste that can be spread on bread, toast or crackers. It makes a wonderful filling for jacket potatoes and if you mix it with a little extra virgin olive oil it can be used as a salad dressing. But by far the best way to use pesto is as a sauce for pasta. Cook your favourite pasta and drain it, add a handfull of cherry tomatoes cut in half, a few torn basil leaves and then stir in some pesto, return to the heat for three or four minutes then serve. Goes great with some nice hot crusty bread.

For this vegetarian pesto you will need.

100g fresh basil.Tear the leaves into smallish chunks.
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled.
90g toasted pine nuts.
Toast them in a dry pan for a few minutes.
300ml extra virgin olive oil.
100g grated vegetarian hard cheese, parmesan is perfect if you can find a veggie one, but any hard cheese will do just fine.
Whiz the whole lot up in a food mixer until it is spread able but still a little bit chunky.
This pesto will keep in a jar in the fridge for several days or you can freeze it for up to a month.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Top tip.

When using vegan alternatives to cream or milk in sweet recipes try adding a couple of drops of good quality vanilla essence. It really improves the flavour. As an alternative to milk or cream in curries why not try using coconut cream instead, it tastes great and even dedicated meat eaters like it. Don't overdo it though, as it is packed with fat and calories!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Vegetarian fish and chips.


I-2 packets of Halloumi cheese
125 g plain flour
¼ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp salt
Few drops of vegetable oil for the batter and enough to cover the ‘fish’ as it fries.
125 ml warm milk and water, about half and half
1tsp baking powder
400g potatoes


Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, make a well in the middle of the flour and then add the oil and a small amount of the half milk, half warm water mixture. Stir slowly bringing down more and more of the flour mixture until it is all combined. Beat well until it is very smooth, you can do this by hand or use an electric beater.

Wash the potatoes but do not peel. Cut them into wedges and spread them out onto a lightly greased baking sheet, sprinkle them with salt and pepper to taste. Place the baking sheet onto the middle shelf of an oven pre heated to 180c, they will take approximately forty minutes to cook depending on how chunky you have made your wedges. Once the wedges are cooked and golden turn the oven down as low as it will go and leave the wedges to keep hot. They won’t burn but will stay hot and crispy until you are ready to serve them.

Cut the Halloumi into either thick finger shapes, wedges cut to resemble fish filets or simply cut into chunks. Pat the cheese shapes dry with kitchen towels or a clean tea towel and then dip them into the batter mixture making sure that they are completely coated.

Heat the oil to 150c, this dish is best cooked in a deep fat fryer, but if you don’t have one of those you can use a large heavy based saucepan instead, be careful not to overfill it as the hot oil can easily bubble over with disastrous results. Drop the battered cheese pieces into the hot oil one at a time, do not overload the pan as it’s better to cook the cheese in batches than risk it burning or sticking to the pan. Once cooked drain well onto absorbent kitchen paper. You can always put the cooked pieces onto a tray and keep them hot in the oven with the wedges.
Serve with peas or salad and garnish with fresh parsley, lemon wedges and a little tartar sauce. Delicious.