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I’m going to keep this one short and sweet because we’re all too busy with December to actually sit down and read anything of length right now. If it’s not after work drinks, some kind of Christmas themed event, dinner with friends or present buying then it’s decorating the tree, putting up Christmas lights and perfecting your mince pie recipe. If, and only if you have a spare moment, then it will certainly be to have a big glass of wine and watch shit tv. So, as I said… short n sweet.

I originally saw this wondrous recipe on Green Kitchen Stories (i.e. my happy place on the internet, after Pinterest) and immediately wanted to recreate them in my own kitchen. I tweaked the recipe a fair amount, depending on what I had in my cupboards, and subbed out the cheese altogether in favour of a dairy-free option.

The resulting quinoa patties are delicious little additions to add to any base for lunch or dinner; I enjoyed them with a simple cabbage salad one day and hummus and carrot sticks the next. Plus if you have leftover quinoa to begin with then these can be made in a snap.

Happy December!

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I’m not one to hide my feelings about pasta, particularly when eaten on a Sunday. I’ll wake up and think, I want a massive bowl of pasta and my day will generally go from there. A classic ragú is usually what we’ll have when we’re visiting R’s mother, but in our house we go all veggie more often than not. And I know, I know that in my last post I yapped on about loving the plant-based only diet but pasta, well pasta just deserves to be slathered in butter, filled with cheese and made with eggs.

Usually if I’m making fresh pasta a simple fettuccine will be my shape of choice, but every now and then the slight extra effort involved in making a stuffed pasta like ravioli is well worth the labour. There is something so rewarding about making a meal from scratch. With these ravioli I put together the flavours I was really craving at that time, and it turns out that the combination of slightly salty, creamy ricotta teamed with smokey aubergine marries perfectly with a classic brown butter and sage sauce.

If you read aubergine and winced then fear not, this recipe is easily adaptable. Sub in blanched spinach, or perhaps some chopped walnuts, or switch the brown butter for a deeply rich and comforting tomato sauce. Whichever way you have it, this is truly a meal to be savoured and enjoyed.

aubgerine

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It’s been a good three weeks since I embarked on my vegan 5:2 journey, and I thought it was about the right time to write a post about it, and why I’m planning to stick to it.

Firstly let me start off by explaining my diet before this started: I would have considered myself a vegetarian with occasional meat-loving tendencies. On the whole I don’t believe that we need to eat meat to survive (not to mention the environmental impact meat consumption creates and the impending food supply dilemma generations to come will see and likely suffer), and have been an advocate of the ‘if your body is craving it, you probably need it’ diet for years, resulting in an occasional roast chicken on a Sunday, or a beautiful fillet of fish for supper making an appearance a couple of times a month. That, to me at least, seemed like a balanced diet.

Perhaps more influential on my diet than my environmental view is that I have been lactose intolerant for 5 years. Though in the last couple of those years I have reintroduced butter, non-fat milk and a small range of goat’s and sheep’s cheeses in my diet, plus a healthy amount of non-fat yoghurt and eggs. However despite my lactose intolerance and continued consumption of dairy, I have thought for a long time that overall, dairy is probably not very good for us. Quite fittingly I read this article in the NY Times about how studies on dairy consumption have proven not only that dairy can cause adverse effects, but that there is little evidence that having a dairy rich diet is actually good for us at all, contrary to the milk = strong bones message being pumped out across Western countries. In contrast, in what is probably the most well known literature on the subject surrounding dairy we hear about casein, a milk protein (also found in many meat substitutes) that has been found to be cancer promoting. When you think of it that way do you really want to be putting that in your body on a daily basis?

Switching to a largely plant-based diet didn’t come without its conundrums at first; what to use other than tofu, is there a limit on how many avocados I can eat each week, can I just eat noodles all the time, why aren’t there any substitutes for a good runny egg; but then once I started to explore different recipes and articles on the subject I realised that I would be making little actual change to my diet, and instead a huge one to what I kept in my pantry. I have had to be so much more resourceful, creative and explorative, I have started taking more time and care in choosing produce and ingredients, and I have even (for the benefit of my previously very pizza-loving beau) started playing with creating homemade vegan substitutes (vegan mozzarella being a good example of my efforts).

So why have I decided to stick to eating a more plant-based diet? This is a question I have had to answer on a few occasions. At first I explained that I wanted to try and clean up my diet a bit, but now having seen the great benefits that have come as part of this clean up I have changed my answer: I really, really like eating this way. I feel energetic, I don’t feel bloated, I have been eating a lot of slow-burning carbohydrates and a lot less saturated fat, and I have found excellent sources of plant-based protein to replenish after working out. I haven’t been so satisfied with everyday meals for so long, and eating well seems to have improved not only my skin but my general mood.

So what have I learnt about myself through this experiment? Eating well has its obvious perks but balance is still key to my general happiness, which is why I will continue to enjoy an egg every now and then, or some thick-strained yoghurt, or put butter in all of my cakes (always). So don’t expect to not see any of my usual recipes on here any more, but do expect to see a few more vegan friendly options.

Now about this salad, this salad is my new go-to. Cold rice noodles, dressed with a super zingy, garlicky dressing, flecked with chilli and sesame seeds and tossed with charred greens and avocado for a welcome creaminess.

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Oh hi!

It’s officially that time of year again; the lights are up, the ads are out, the nights are getting boozier… it’s Christmas whether you like it or not.

Sure, some might say it’s a bit early to get the Christmas paraphernalia out, but I for one am all over it – give me a gingerbread latte with a shot of whisky and I’ll be marvellously content cozied up in my Slanket* with Home Alone 2 on repeat.

(Also, December: the only month where you can get fat gracefully.)

You may remember last year I posted a similar recipe and moaned about how broke I tend to be at this time of year (I absolutely needed three of those cashmere jumpers, didn’t I), so it’s fair to say I get a little resourceful with my gift giving. Enter these beauties, chocolate covered and deliciously decadent. These really aren’t as daunting as they may seem, it’s more a case of patience and trying not to burn yourself, the caramel, or your pan.

So there you have it, I’ll leave you with this bomb recipe to add to your budget Christmas 101 repertoire – plus a pretty great soundtrack to go with it (courtesy of Cereal Magazine)

*the best gift ever received, not giving it up never ever ever

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It was quite the shock when my meat-loving, pizza fiend of a boyfriend declared that he wanted to ‘go vegan’ 5 out of 7 days of the week. I think I squealed a little at the prospect of not having to eat meat as much as we have been doing since we began cohabiting, but inside I could only feel pangs of fear as what he said really sunk in. I realised that his new found vegan-ish-ism would mean two things:

1) all those wonderful things I enjoy daily as part of my mainly-vegetarian diet (honey, eggs, cheese) would be no more
2) this vegan 5/2 thing he had going on in his head was to be conjured up and cooked by yours truly

Well, I do love a challenge.

Over the past week I have embarked on a totally new dining experience, one where I have had to seriously plan meals, seek out vegan friendly ingredients and then… make them taste not vegan at all. I mean, do you know how difficult it is to cook vegan for a man who hates tofu and refuses it in every shape or form? SIGH.

Despite my initial fears he has, thankfully, loved every creation and plate I have put in front of him. And what’s really great about this new lifestyle choice we have adopted for at least the time being, is that I have started exploring and using a ton of different flavours and ingredients.

This salad was pretty much the highlight of my week, and comes from none other than health food blogger Deliciously Ella. Marinating the kale and massaging it may sound a bit cheap porno, but trust me it makes all the difference. Say goodbye to bitter tasting leaves, and hello to the best kale salad you’ll ever know.

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