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Tag: vegananuary

Taco Thursday

 

I love Mexican food and Tacos are no exception, they’re a really great way of using up ingredients that are left in your cupboards and fridge making a really delicious meal. In my recipe I have changed a few ingredients up, I’ve used red and white quinoa (which was from ALDI) to add a really healthy twist to these tacos, there’s also an avocado and mango dip which combines my love for both mango salsa and guacamole with the addition of smoked tofu and vegetables as my filling.

You can pretty much use any vegetables you want to, but the ingredients that I have used are the ones I would recommend. You can also add re-fried beans or mexican salad beans (or any kind of bean that you like.) I kept mine fairly simple, but they were equally as delicious and went down really well with everyone I gave them to.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE FILLING: 

  • 125g diced smoked or normal tofu,
  • Oil for frying,
  • Half an orange pepper,
  • 1 sweet red pepper,
  • Half a courgette,
  • 4 chestnut mushrooms,
  • 2 handfuls of spinach,
  • 1 small red onion,
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of tomato concentrate mixed in with 220ml of cold water,
  • Half a teaspoon of dried coriander,
  • Half a teaspoon of mustard powder,
  • Half a teaspoon of salt,
  • Half a teaspoon of cumin,
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder,
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (this is optional depending if you like spice or not)

FOR THE AVOCADO SALSA/GUACAMOLE:

  • 1 ripe avocado,
  • 100 grams of mango,
  • 50 grams of grated carrot,
  • 4 cherry tomatoes,
  • Chopped fresh coriander (as much as you want to taste I usually use two tablespoons),
  • pinch of salt,
  • 1 bulb of crushed garlic.
  • red Jalapenos (optional)

EXTRAS:

  • Quinoa or rice, (optional)
  • Taco shells,
  • Salad to serve.

 

This meal roughly serves 4 people and roughly takes 30-40 minutes to make.

 

 

METHOD:

 

  1. Take a small bowl and set it aside. Now halve your avocado, remove the stone and scoop out the insides, using a sharp knife cut the avocado into pieces and then put it in the bowl, you want to half mash the avocado with a back of a fork whilst leaving some pieces in there so it’s slightly chunky but creamy too. Dice your mango and cherry tomatoes into really small cubes, then add it to your avocado bowl and then grate in your carrot mixing well. Next crush or very finely diced your garlic, coriander and if you’re adding red Jalapeno’s dice them up here too, add these into your bowl with a pinch of salt and pop in the fridge.
  2.  Chop your tofu up into small cubes and set aside in a small bowl, then cut up your sweet red pepper, orange pepper, red onion and courgette into small pieces (bare in mind they need to be small enough to fit into your tacos). In a small bowl spoon in all of your spices, garlic and salt then mix well.
  3. Grab your frying pan and start cooking your tofu on a medium heat. Saute your tofu until all sides are starting to go crispy, then pop in your diced onion and peppers and keep mixing for about 5 minutes so that none of the ingredients stick and burn, add in your courgette and take two teaspoons of your spice mix and sprinkle it over the top of your tofu and vegetables and fry for a further 3-4 minutes mixing in the seasoning.
  4. If you are using quinoa now would be the time to pop it in the microwave and cook it or pop your tacos in the oven for 5-10 minutes to warm up (follow the instructions on the back of the packet). Add your spinach then pour over your tomato and water mixture and then add in the rest of the seasoning. Mix and cook until all the water has simmered down and you’re left with a thick tomato sauce covering your veges and tofu.
  5. You’re now ready to create your tacos, at the bottom of each mine I placed the salsa-guacamole, then the quinoa, then my tofu and vegetable mix. I served mine with Salad too. Serve warm and enjoy! <3

 

 

 

 

Vegananuary part 2: The everyday vegan

So whilst i’m writing this we’re currently twelve days in to Vegananuary, i’m hoping that you’re enjoying it and are seeing positive changes within yourself, have you found anything so far that has surprised you either positively or negatively?

After speaking to several non-vegans recently, something that struck a chord with me is how many people don’t know that a-lot of the everyday foods that they’re eating can be Incorporated into a vegan diet. Being vegan is definitely easy when you know how and you don’t have to miss out.

When you start looking at the ingredients on products you may find yourself surprised at what ingredients are in your food or even more what ingredients you’d expect to find that aren’t in there.  I used the vegan hive mind to help me come up with a list of foods that are “accidentally vegan” and foods that are “surprisingly not vegan”. Please note when I say that these foods are vegan i’m purely speaking in the sense that there are not any ingredients that you cannot eat in a vegan diet listed.  I am not saying that the brands are good vegan brands however for the purpose of Vegananuary I am stating foods that contain no animal by-products.

Sweets and treats: There’s a surprising amount of accidentally vegan treats out there, a lot of chocolate flavoured biscuits such as chocolate bourbons and Oreo’s, (although in the uk the peanut butter flavour are not vegan, however US peanut butter Oreo’s are vegan) as well as Dark chocolate chip “cookie” style biscuits, beware though some of these do still contain milk but look out for Fox’s cookie mini’s, these are vegan and I know they’re currently sold in Tesco’s in the UK. There are lots of other non-chocolate vegan biscuits such as; the most delicious sugar biscuits Party Rings , Fruit Shortcake and classics such as Hobnobs.

Of course it’s not just biscuits that are vegan the CO-OP’s freshly baked pies, jam and custard doughnuts are all also vegan, they do a range of flavours including cherry and apple, and of course strawberry Jam doughnuts. As it stands at the moment I am not aware of any other supermarket having their own branded vegan doughnuts and pies, please note that they always have to by law state allergens if you are still wary you can always ask.  Mr Kipling’s jam and treacle tarts are also vegan and these can be found in most supermarkets.

Good news for pop tart fans! Unfrosted pop tarts are vegan, however the iced pop tarts contain gelatin and so aren’t vegan! you can always add your own frosting after though for sugary fix. Also make sure to look at the backs of biscuits and cookies that have icing, as often they use gelatin to set the icing.

The biggest issue that you’ll find with sweets is Gelatin or red food dye, which is commonly seen as Carmine, Crimson Lake,  Cochineal, Carminic acid or Natural red #4. These food colourings are derived from crushed bugs and there for are not vegan. There are plenty of sweets that don’t contain these though including gummy/jelly sweets. Jelly tots and most fruit laces are vegan, and there are plenty of others too such as sherbert, flying saucer sweets, parma violets and fizzers just to mention a few.

Along side of sweets lets not forget my personal favourite treat chocolate! I’ve always favoured chocolate over everything else. Normally in the free from section you can buy dairy free chocolate, but you can also buy some dark chocolate found in the usual sweets and chocolate section that is also vegan. I always get frustrated with the dark chocolate section, brands that used to exclude milk such as Green and Blacks now use milk, luckily there are now other brands that don’t use milk products, a brand called Doisy and Dam do several vegan bars and some store branded bars do not contain milk.

 

Crisps and savory snacks: Good news for vegans in the UK, with veganism becoming more and more popular brands are following suit. I’ve recently noticed in Sainsbury’s a huge influx in crisps that are now being labelled vegan and gluten free. On my vegan journey, crisps have been quite surprising, some of the flavours you’d expect to be vegan aren’t and vice versa. Salt and vinegar crisps such as Pringles contain milk powder and some prawn cocktail flavoured crisps are vegan. It hugely varies from brand to brand, so either look for the packets that have vegan clearly labelled on the front or check the back of each packets all allergens such as Milk and eggs will be in BOLD, so they will be easier to see however honey for instance won’t be so you’ll have to scour the ingredients to check. It’s not just regular potato crisps that are vegan you can also buy store branded onion rings, “bacon” rashers and just a sneaky heads up, Aldi do their own version of “Skips” which are absolutely delicious.

Not accidentally vegan, but there’s loads of other varieties of delicious salted snacks that are vegan, such as Yushoi (pea snacks), nuts and Plantain Chips to list some of my favourites.

So as well as snacks there’s plenty of fridge and cupboard foods to keep an eye out for. For instance a lot of packaged Falafels unfortunately are not vegan and contain egg or dairy, I believe it to be a lot of supermarket own branded Falafels that aren’t, but pictured above is Cauldron Falafels, luckily these are vegan and you can buy them in various supermarkets (I found these in Sainsbury’s).

Keeping in line with fresh produce, dips often contain milk. Guacamole for instance is definitely one of those foods that shouldn’t contain dairy, but more often than not contains cream, though in my personal opinion fresh guac is definitely nicer anyway and you get more for your money. 😉

it’s always worth checking tomato sauce (Ketchup) too, I’ve noticed that a lot of store branded ketchup contains milk however Heinz is okay. Just be wary when you’re getting a burger from somewhere that isn’t 100% vegan, and make sure they don’t use cheap branded dairy sauces!

Getting take away or eating on the go can always be tricky, I think this is where a lot of people struggle especially if you have a busy life style. Luckily loads of places such as starbucks and supermarkets are now doing vegan wraps and sandwiches. Only recently Starbucks released new sandwiches including a bbq jackfruit and slaw wrap (I cannot wait to get my hands on this!) As veganism is increasing in popularity and things like vegananuary are happening more and more supermarkets are increasing their ranges of both fresh and cupboard products and it’s come a long way from just chips, salad and falafel being the only vegan options. This leads me on to my last and final check list, be careful of store bought salads. They put a lot of unnecessary ingredients into salad dressings, finding things like eggs and dairy in your vinaigrette unfortunately isn’t too uncommon so just keep an eye out!

I know that this can seem very overwhelming, but being vegan is actually incredibly easy. There are lots of pages that can help you, out check out the Accidentally Vegan page on Instagram and Facebook, they post frequently with new vegan finds. Luckily we’re living in this wonderful age where veganism is no longer just sticking to a home cooked diet  and a lot of new companies are coming forward with new amazing vegan products. Good luck on your vegananuary journey, and look out for more posts and recipes that are coming soon.

 

 

Vegananuary: cupboard essentials.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful festive period full of delicious food, friends and family! And now, as January has arrived, I wanted to take some time to talk about Vegananuary!

Vegananuary is where for the month of January you cut out all meat, eggs, dairy and any animal byproduct, and eat vegan for the month! It’s a great way to try something new and kick start your health for the year (75% of people trying vegananuary last year saw vast improvements to their health) and it also helps save billions of animals lives! and not to mention you can also do it for charity too!

I know it may sound tough but i’m here to show you that it isn’t! you don’t need to miss out on anything at all, it’s incredibly easy in this day and age to be vegan. More and more products are being sold in supermarkets, 2017 was a particularly good year for vegan food in supermarkets with Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s and Aldi all following suit and improving all their vegan ranges…not to mention Pizza Hut, Pizza Express and other fast food chains all released vegan food to their menu’s!

I will be posting recipes over the month as well as blog posts with helpful tips to help you on your vegananuary journey so keep your eyes peeled.

I thought i’d kick start my vegananuary blogs by my cupboard essentials! Of course fruit and vegetables are essentials for a vegan diet, but this goes without saying, but what else might you want to add to your cupboards?

First of all lets talk about milk substitutes. There’s loads of alternative “milk” drinks out there and in my opinion they all taste great in different things. For instance rice milk is sweet, creamy and tastes delicious with cereal, smoothies, hot chocolate or in baking. Soy and almond milk is great in tea (almond milk makes your tea taste like biscuits), oat milk tastes lovely in porridge and smoothies, and coconut milk tastes great with cereal, smoothies and baking! it’s all about trying to find your favourites so don’t be put off if you don’t like one or another, the flavour can also change dramatically depending on brand. There are tonnes of brands out there and you can buy both sweetened “milks” and unsweetened. It’s always worth noting to look out for fortified drinks, this means they’ve added calcium, B12 and/or vitamin D! perfect for being a healthy vegan!

 

SIDE NOTE: Cereals can also be a pain! A lot of cereals in supermarkets specifically cheaper cereals have either milk added in or milk protein! So just keep an eye out! There are tonnes of great vegan cereals, check out the free from section in supermarkets if you’re really stuck.

Of course if you don’t eat cereal you’ll want something to go on your toast in the morning! you can get vegan margarine from most supermarkets now! some such as Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s even have their own branded version other wise there are a lot of others. Brands to look out for are Pure and vitalite, although following suit you also have flora that have started doing their own version and some supermarkets such as Asda and Tesco do a coconut “spread” and avocado too. My personal favourite has to be Pure: olive oil spread though!

 

Nut butters are definitely one of my cupboard essentials! high protein and full of good fats! 🙂 I love adding them to my smoothies or porridge in the morning! (peanut butter porridge is delicious, just add a spoon of peanut butter in and slice some banana’s on top! adding seeds adds another protein boost and they’re packed with tonnes of nutrients!)
My favourite brand is Pip And Nuts, you can buy it in tubs this size or in 1kg tubs. They also sell almond butters (which are delicious, i’m going to do some brownies this month using almond butter! keep your eyes peeled!) and various different types of peanut butter for instance, peanut butter with maple syrup, coconut or agave! it’s available in Most supermarkets, Holland and Barrett’s or online.

 

Whilst we’re talking about proteins one of my favourite cupboard staples is Buckwheat! despite the name it’s gluten free and isn’t made from wheat at all. It’s actually a flowering plant and is related to rhubarb! it contains both protein and a healthy carbs making it great for a vegan diet. You can now buy buckwheat pasta in Sainsbury’s, It’s usually mixed in with the regular pasta’s in the supermarket and looks a dark purple/brown colour or you can find it health food shops. Buckwheat pasta is great with all your normal pasta dishes, it has a great texture and generally it’s just delicious! You can also buy buckwheat flour and crackers!

link to the sainsbury’s buckwheat pasta: buckwheat pasta

SIDE NOTE: also available in Sainsbury’s they sell Lentil and pea pasta! worth checking out, though the textures for me particularly pea pasta, takes some getting used to! I do however absolutely love Sweet potato noodles, butternut squash noodles and zucchini noodles all of which are great substitutes for pasta and you can find them in the fresh section in supermarkets!

 

Okay so I’m going to band these three together, unfortunately I do not have any photos of these as I’m currently away but they’re pretty straight forward.  These are definite staples in any vegans cupboards: Tofu, Lentils and chickpeas! all three are high in protein and perfect for vegan diets, they add essential nutrients, protein and help keep you fuller for longer.

TOFU: tofu is such a versatile tool! it’s a great egg and meat replacement in recipes. You can scramble it, fry it, bake it pretty much anything! I’ve used it as a scrambled egg replacement, I’ve used it to make frittata’s, quiche and flan! also suitable in sauces or you can also just added to a stir fry. There are two main different types of tofu found in supermarkets although there are quite a few different types. Soft/silken tofu is better as an egg replacement in  baking, where as firm tofu is best for frying and a meat substitute.

Lentils: Lentils are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, they’re also a great source of fiber and low in calories! Perfect in soups, chilli and casserole. You can also make lentil hummus! recipe coming soon!

Chickpeas: if you’re a fan of hummus then i’m sure you’re already fully aware of chickpeas and how delicious and wonderful they can be! they’re an essential in the cupboard too, add them to curries, soups or make your own hummus and be sure to save the liquid in the can because this makes a perfect egg replacement in baking.

 

Okay, now if you’re wondering how you’re going to get through without cheese and feeling a bit intimidated with the vegan “cheese” aka “gary” in the supermarkets, then take a deep breath and get experimental! what I will say is vegan “cheeses” do not taste like normal cheese and once you can push past this you’ll be able to accept the delicious nut, soy, rice and coconut blocks in their full glory. Like with the “milks” each of the different blocks are better for different things. Some brands will have their own versions of things you may or may not like, some brands you may not like at all. Some are better in sauces, melted, or just to eat with crackers. Honestly I could write an entire blog entry on my most favourite and least favourite vegan “cheese” blocks so all I can do is recommend that you experiment, both Sainsbury’s and Tesco have their own branded versions so make a great place to start as they’re both affordable and easily accessible, or the most commonly found brand is Violife. I love Violife! it’s a coconut based “cheese” and they do various types including melty, Parmesan, mild and strong. They even did a vegan “cheese” board this past Christmas. I buy violife slices on frequent basis as they’re perfect just to keep in the fridge for either crackers, sauces or just to chuck on top of a salad!

 

 

Lastly on my essentials list is this wonderful product called nutritional yeast. It’s essentially deactivated yeast which you add to food, it has an almost cheesy taste to it which makes it perfect to add to sauces, it’s also delicious in soups, or just sprinkled on top of salads or pasta. I’ve even used it as a sprinkling on top of baked mac and “cheese” to add a delicious crust top. I always make sure to buy the pot with added B12 in so that it adds a real nutrition boost to my food. You can buy it from Holland and Barrett’s, some supermarkets and health food stores.

 

So that’s all for my essential cupboard range, I will be adding lots more to these blogs including recipes, treat favourites and much, much more!

For now good luck on your adventure through vegananuary, whatever you’re reason behind starting. Let me know how you get on below in the comment sections.

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