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.