Home Comforts.

Looking at my previous posts, I am sure you can tell I have had a touch of those ‘post adventure blues’. It would seem my plan to throw myself into all things work did not work as well as I had hoped and searching for employment is no easy task. It is not all bad though, I have had a few weeks to enjoy some home comforts, or at least try to without comparing everything and anything to New York.

But of course, nothing quite compares to exploring the beginning of autumn with my four legged friends! I have loved returning to jumpers, tights and all the autumnal colours. Nothing beats seeing Archie running in and out of the colourful leaves that are quickly falling. Being mindful of my surroundings and seeing the seasonal fruit appearing on the trees and enjoying that cosy feeling of coming in from a crisp walk.

Speaking of cosy feelings, a few weeks ago I went to visit my great grandmother. We popped into a cosy pub, it was a surprise to see vegan options, and gluten free to! I had the lentil cottage pie and it was a lot nicer than it looks. Don’t you think it is becoming easier and easier to be vegan?

With having to purchase a new car, being unemployed and well, trying to be somewhat independent, I am also feeling the ‘post adventure pinch’, as I am sure I am not the only one? Not that I am complaining, I mean I have been forced into getting creative in my kitchen and with the help from Deliciously Ella, forever browsing her app for inspiration, I have made a couple of lovely and very affordable dishes.

These recipes are very similar and simple to make.

Sweet potato and mixed bean stew, serves three
(two medium sweet potatoes, two tins of mixed beans, a handful of cherry tomatoes, one table spoon of tomato puree, one vegetable stock cube, a pinch of rosemary, cumin, chilli flakes, ground black pepper and steamed vegetables to serve)

First peel and chop into squares the sweet potatoes, part boil and roast for around 25 minutes.
Half way through, chop tomatoes and add to sweet potato for 10 minutes.
Whilst waiting for the sweet potato and tomatoes, rinse and boil the mixed beans, once boiled rinse again and transfer back to pan.
Mix in one crumbled stock cube along with enough boiling water just to cover the beans, put on a low heat and add tomato puree and seasoning, stir well and leave simmer for 10 minutes.
Add in sweet potato and tomatoes and leave on low heat for around 10 minutes, stir well and take of heat, allow to cool.
Once cool use a soup pulse or part blend, as if you were making soup, leaving a few sweet potato chunks and beans whole.
Once ready, for a crispy edge place into ovenproof dishes and cook for 20-30 minutes (or around 4 minutes in the microwave or hob).
I served this with steamed spinach, green peas, broccoli, roasted cashew nuts and nutritional yeast.

Warming green lentil and sweet potato soup, serves two
(one tin of green lentils, two medium sweet potatoes, two servings of sugar snap peas, a handful of cherry tomatoes, one table spoon of tomato puree, a tea spoon of gram masala, a sprinkle of cumin, turmeric, ginger, a pinch of chilli flakes and ground black pepper)

First peel and chop into squares the sweet potatoes, part boil and roast for around 25 minutes.
Half way through, chop tomatoes and add to sweet potato for 10 minutes.
Whilst waiting for the sweet potato and tomatoes, rinse and boil the green lentils, once boiled rinse again and transfer back to pan.
On a low heat add just enough boiling water to cover the lentils, stir in spices and tomato puree before adding the cooked sweet potato, tomatoes and sugar snap peas (cut to own preference).
Stir well and leave simmer on low heat for around 10 minutes.
Pulse or blend, adding water until you achieve your preferred consistency, I enjoy this soup quite chunky.
Enjoy straight away or let cool and reheat later.
I served this soup with some crispy kale and sprinkling of toasted almonds.

Like most of my recipes these can be left to cool and transferred into plastic containers, popped into the fridge or freezer until ready to be served.

There is no free from favourites this month but I have got to mention Rhythm 108’s tea biscuits, found in Aldi but also available online. I do not usually enjoy gluten free biscuits as they often taste like they are trying to be an alternative, non-gluten free biscuit but these are a biscuit in their own right (okay slightly over the top, but you should try them). The lemon and ginger are my favourite and are fitting for this home comforts post.

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Let me know if you try any of these recipes or if you also have any allergy and budget friendly recommendations?

Thank you for reading,

Nicole

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Thriving, day two.

Continuing to share my #thrivelive with you all, only not live and with a kind of dairy style post instead. I began my morning determined to get back outside with a short run, unfortunately my knee had other ideas. Without beating myself up, I decided to have a quiet morning, sit in the garden and catch up on some emails.

Just as I was beginning to get a little agitated with myself, my mother came home with three bunches flowers, including my favourite, Freesias. After recently updating my blog introduction and being reminded of my floristry days, I decided to take a few moments to put together the flowers. It is sometimes hard to get out of that ‘what is the point’ mindset but I instantly felt the therapeutic benefits of being a little creative. I may have got slightly carried away as I lined each jar/vase up against my garden wall.

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I was not able to run today but that did not stop me exploring. This afternoon, I found myself and Archie wandering through a near by woodlands.

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The beautiful weather lead into the evening and so my sister and I took Ralph, my sisters puppy, for an evening walk. Both walks leaving me feeling grateful for dogs but also to live by such beautiful surroundings and actually notice them.

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Today its been the little things that have made me feel like I am thriving. What have you done today that has made you feel present and happy?

Wishing you well,

Nicole

Roasted vegetable & chickpea curry.

September is here which means I am back to creating warming dishes for cosy evenings. I love experimenting with vegan curries, that also happen to be free from my allergies; gluten, onions and garlic. This recipe is also free from oil, nuts, mushrooms and coconut. The curry is super easy to make, takes less than an hour, can be made the day before, frozen and will leave even non-vegans wanting more! What more could you ask for?

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Continue reading “Roasted vegetable & chickpea curry.”

Being vegan at a non-vegan BBQ.

This weekend my parents hosted a BBQ for our friends and family, being the only vegan I felt challenged to create some dishes even non-vegans wouldn’t resist. I didn’t follow any recipes, nor do I remember the measurements (ooops). Often the best creations are the unplanned and unprepared ones, that being said, I apologise if you would like to make them to, I shall try and remember what I put in them but just wing it and see what you can create!

First I decided to make a huge quinoa salad, I cooked one whole 300grams packet of quinoa, mixed in some mixed beans, chopped peppers, fine chilli, fresh mint, black pepper, chilli powder, ginger, glugged in some tamari sauce, a little tomato puree and let cool before adding in some spinach, I then let it cool over night and added a little lime juice before serving.

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I also created a ribbon salad by spiralizing three courgettes and two carrots before adding slices of beetroot and radish, a small amount of finely chopped chilli, fresh mint, black pepper, a little tomato sauce, a sprinkling of sesame seeds and served with a little lime juice. I made both of these salads the night before the barbeque, wrapped them in foil and popped them into the fridge, both kept really well to.

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As well as these two salads I also made a standard British bbq salad using ice burg lettuce, radish, celery, tomatoes and cucumber. It killed me not putting any seasoning or dressing on it but it’s always good to have a not so adventures option. (no photograph because boring..)

All credit for this one goes to my mother who made this fruit barbeque complete with fruit skewers and served with a sprinkle of cinnamon or non-vegan cream. A fun and creative way to serve fruit although it looked rather stressful and messy to make, she was over the moon with it aha. My mother also made a vegan salad dressing using, spring onions, ginger, tamari, sesame seeds and fresh chilli, I think that was all.. Of course she baked some baked potatoes to, which always go down well at the end of the evening.

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On the morning of the barbeque I made this guacamole using one whole avocado, chilli flakes, black pepper, finely chopped mint and lime juice. I mashed it and mixed it all up making sure I left a few chunky pieces of avocado, as that is always the best bit! To my surprise this was very popular at the bbq! People topped bread buns and baked potatoes with it, used it as a dip and as a side to the salads.

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As well as these dishes my mother also bought some ‘accidentally vegan’ food for everyone to enjoy, things like tortilla chips, crisps, bread rolls, buns, salsa, sauces, hummus, mixed nuts and crackers. I also created a little dish of my own so that I could enjoy that barbeque taste, I pre roasted some smoked paprika seasoned, chopped bell peppers and mushrooms in foil, before adding a few falafels and popping the foil package onto the BBQ. This worked really well and could be adapted with vegan sausages, burgers and ‘chicken’ pieces.

I really enjoyed making these vegan friendly dishes and of course seeing non-vegans enjoy them to! I am already looking forward to moving out and hosting my own all vegan barbeque. Have you been to any barbeques this summer? If so what has been your favourite vegan dish?

When baking goes wrong..

Yesterday evening I was baking cookies for my local playgroups coffee morning. I had been planing the recipe for weeks, I bought all the ingredients (vegan friendly) and wanted them to be the best chocolate, honeycomb cookies that had ever been. Without even knowing I was doing it, I was putting pressure on myself to be the best, to be perfect. Over the week this had slowly built up into everything and anything- not just the cookies and so my anxiety grew and low mood crept in. The perfectionist in me was no longer that tiny little part but instead fully grown, wishing myself to be something I am not and wishing the cookies to be more than they could be.  Continue reading “When baking goes wrong..”

Reunited and it feels so good.

You are probably expecting some great story about how I have been reunited with a long lost family member or friend, sorry. This weekend saw me reunited with my sewing machine and I have not been able to stop myself singing this song.. I haven’t sewn in around two years or so but I woke up feeling the need to be creative and since I seem to have lost my paints it was left to sewing.

I started cutting the flags the last time my machine was out so finding them was a good starting point. I first cleaned my machine, I am embarrassed at how dusty it was and I am surprised it still worked. I then wound the bobbin, again, surprised that I remembered how. It took me a lot quicker to thread than I thought it would, I pinned each of the flags together and before I knew it I was already to sew.

I first sewn each of the flags together, leaving one side open, I then pressed them and pressed the ribbon in half. Once pressed I put each flag in between the folded ribbon and pinned at each point, evenly spacing them out along the ribbon, leaving a little ribbon at each end.

I then sewn the ribbon in half and attached the flags whilst of course removing the pins. I am very happy with how the bunting turned out and I enjoyed making it, a lot more than I thought I would, it felt like the perfect rainy Sunday task. I have a lot of sewing projects in mind, one I can not wait to begin and share with you, until then, happy sewing!

Nicole

Brown sugar, banana cake.

I think my father has started to cunningly let the bananas get overripe in the hope that I will feel like baking, luckily for him this morning I did, sadly for me I was all out of gluten-free flour. This is a super quick banana bread/cake, if the difference between a cake and a bread is the shape then this is a cake, if there is no difference this is both a banana bread and a banana cake- that makes sense in my mind. Continue for the recipe.  Continue reading “Brown sugar, banana cake.”