Cookbook Review: ‘Nourished’ by Tanya Alekseeva

Long-time readers will know that I have tried and failed when it comes to raw foods. The idea of living on a completely raw diet sounds like the height of hipster to me — but it’s just not me. I like traditional bread and baked porridge and a good, moist cake. But I like raw foods, too; I loved having a raw burger or superfood salad at InSpiral Café in Camden Town, London.

So when someone offers me a simple way to try raw foods at home, I am not one to say no. Reading through Tanya Alekseeva’s e-book, Nourished, I kept thinking, ‘Oh, I can do that!’ and ‘This actually looks tasty.’ I couldn’t wait to get home and try out some of her recipes.
A word of warning: many of the recipes in this book require a dehydrator. Now there are ways to create impressive raw dishes without a dehydrator, but I’m not rich enough to leave my oven on for 4.5 hours at a time, so I just skip those recipes or adapt them to make them semi-raw.
This is where I tell you that you must not buy into the hipster hype that any given diet is the be-all, end-all. Just because you don’t like raw foods or can’t afford a dehydrator doesn’t make you a pariah, ok? You are allowed to eat cake and enjoy it. Tanya’s book is approachable and helpful, and not at all patronising or condescending, which I truly appreciate.
Besides the recipes Tanya includes a handy guide to seasonal vegetables (for the UK; there are bound to be some overlaps with other countries, but that’s something you’d have to see for yourself) as well as a list of the necessary tools you’ll need (not many: a food processor, grater, knife and such — and the ultimate raw kitchen tool, a strong high-speed blender). All in all, it’s a fairly comprehensive book with tools and recipes that I can see myself making quite regularly over the winter months.
I’ve tried some of the recipes from the book in the last few weeks:

I loved the apple & ginger shots. So simple to make — I didn’t even have to chop the apples, they fit right into my juicer — and they absolutely delivered. I made them in hopes to cure a nasty cold I had recently during a particularly stressful week, and wouldn’t you know, within a couple of days I felt so much better. I must point out the typo in the ingredients list, though: it’s 1″, not 10″ of fresh ginger root you should be using. (Don’t use 10″, I beg you. You’ll burn your throat.)

I was very curious about the chia seed breakfast pudding. I tweaked the recipe to use up ingredients in my fridge: I added a peeled clementine to the apple and milk blend, and topped the pudding with sliced banana, spices, seeds and a dollop of peanut butter. The PB turned out to be necessary to cover the slighty bitterness of the clementine; next time I’ll leave it out. Otherwise, it was good, and I look forward to trying chia puddings more often. I expect it’s divine with a blend of bananas or other tropical fruit.

I loved the raw ‘hot’ chocolate! You know me, chocolate is always a winner. It hit the right spot and felt quite warming and cosy, even in wintry Scottish temperatures. (WINTER IS COMING, LADS.) One tip Tanya shares to beat the cold is to add spices to your food. A pinch of cayenne in your ‘hot’ chocolate does just the trick. (No picture, sorry.)

All in all, I think this a comprehensive e-book, and I know I’ll be taking lots of information from it. I look forward to trying more of Tanya’s recipes in the future. Someday, when I have a fulltime job, I will invest in a dehydrator, because I do think for a reluctant raw vegan like myself, they make the job easier. I’d be able to make raw vegetables crisps and other good things. But it’s not an essential tool, and if you don’t have one you can still enjoy this book.

For more information on Tanya Aleskeeva, visit her website
Her e-book is available from her website.

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review, however all opinions are my own and 100% truthful.


Brecknock Road Vegan Festival

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know this Saturday I was at the Brecknock Road Vegan Festival. Organised by Fat Gay Vegan.

brecknock flyer

I arrived at about half past twelve on a rainy Saturday, hungry for some good honest grub and impatient to meet Emma from Coconut & Berries. We found each other in The Third Estate, which sells Will’s Vegan Shoes. I had a poke about but the shoes were all way out of my price range. 

We then had a tough decision before us: The Mighty Fork or Rupert’s Street? I’d already tried the former (as you may remember) so went for Rupert’s Street; Emma went for the Plain Jane hot dog from TMF. My lunch was a scrumptious cashew and mushroom veggie burger with a bland salad on the side (didn’t eat it); I also bought two slices of spiced apple cake – one for The Cookie Monster, one for me. I ate it later, each spoonful dipped in my hazelnut hot chocolate. Divine. 

 Their little kitchen in a van was adorable. 

 We didn’t get a look at Bumblebee natural foods (not from the inside, anyway) though it looked very well stocked and full of happy customers. 

We did, however, get a cup of Ethiopian tea at Muya. Emma assured me that I must try Ethiopian food; another time! 

It was a tiny festival but hopefully next year it will be bigger. It’s good to see more food markets and festivals popping up across London and other towns. It not only means better food but also encourages people to support small, local businesses. 

Have you gone to any good food markets lately? Which ones would you recommend?

‘Skinny Bitch Bakery’ by Kim Barnouin {Book Review + GIVEAWAY}

Hello hello! I have another great book for you guys. As you may know, Skinny Bitch was one of the first books I read when I decided to inform myself about veganism. Skinny Bitch is a wee book full of hard, undeniable, and sometimes pretty gruesome facts. It convinced me that if you want to live a life honest to your values, you just can’t hide from the truth: animal-derived products simply aren’t good for you or the planet, let alone the animals. 

If you like a witty, tongue-in-cheek guide in the kitchen, like baking with a best friend, Kim’s new book, Skinny Bitch Bakery, was made for you. Kim stays true to her style with plenty of jokes and banter and no-nonsense attitude. 

The book contains heaps of helpful information for budding vegan bakers. In fact, even I can learn loads from it – I’ve been vegan for over two years, and though I do cook and bake a lot for the average person, I still struggle a lot with substitutions. Especially when it comes to eggs, proper rising in cakes and muffins, and creating pastry (still a fearful activity in my kitchen, alas. BUT NO MORE.)

Kim has a detailed chapter on baking swaps with measurements for each ingredient: milk, creams, cheese, butter, etc. plus pantry staples. Obviously she’s done her research, which is a huge relief for those readers (and you know you’re out there) who simply don’t have the time to experiment. One thing I hear a lot is that people get discouraged at the very idea of having to invest so much time, money and energy, and failed cakes that only end up in the bin, in their attempts to create old-time favourites. 

The ‘Shit Every Baker Should Know’ is the second-best part: it answers every question you may ever have had from ‘Why don’t my muffins rise properly?’ to ‘How do I ensure flaky pastry?’ Basically, this book is your go-to guide for everything related to vegan baking. And I mean everything.

The best part? you ask. The recipes, duh. German Chocolate Cake, Heavenly Blueberry Pie, Glazed Cinnamon Rolls, Curried Butternut Calzones (I know, right?!), Matcha Green Tea Almond Cookies… It’s just a food pornfest extravaganza all the way through. 

(Obviously, eating cake does not make you skinny. Don’t let the title deceive you. Books are meant to sell, and the marketing teams will give the books titles that sell. Just thought I’d put that out there.)

I’m sorry, I lied. The REAL best part is that I am giving away a copy of this book to one lucky reader. All you need to do is tell me in the comments below which recipe you which dessert recipe you haven’t been able to make since going vegan. Something you used to love but now can’t eat anymore, something you’ve desperately tried to veganise but failed every time, something you wish you could order in restaurants/cafés but can’t because it’s never vegan. You have to be a resident of the UK. Oh and please also tell me your full name and one way that I can reach you (such as your Twitter name, Pinterest, Facebook, email, Tumblr, …).

Based on how much I feel your pain, I will pick the winner and announce it on Facebook, Twitter and this little ol’ blog. The contest ends on November 15 at midnight, UK-time.

Have I whetted your appetite yet? No? I’m sorry, we’ll need to remedy that. Here’s a free recipe from Kim’s new book for you:

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

Anybody who knows me knows that I have a soft spot for cupcakes and soy chai lattes, so combining these two creates my own piece of heaven. These cupcakes are moist, tender, and lightly spicy, thanks to the combination of ginger and cardamom. Go ahead and pair with a steaming hot chai latte . . . you won’t overdo it.
Makes: 18 cupcakes
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 cup Earth Balance, at room temperature
11/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vanilla soy yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners and set aside. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the almond milk and vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the Earth Balance and sugar and beat with an electric mixer until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add in the yogurt and vanilla extract and mix on low until combined. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the almond milk mixture to the creamed butter, mixing on low speed until everything is mixed together.
Pour the batter into the cupcake liners until each liner is about two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

(Recipe courtesy of HarperOne)

I personally think these would taste amazing with a chocolate frosting, don’t you?

Kim’s new book is out this 24 October in the UK, published by Harper One. 
Photographs by Jon Edwards, cover design by Nancy Campana, recipes by Kim Barnouin. 

Home-Cooked Vegan Comfort Food by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman {Book Review + Giveaway}

I hope you all like these book reviews that I’ve been doing on the blog, because I have another coming up for you. And this is one that I am ecstatic about – I’ve been waiting for a book like this for ages.
I’m proud to be reviewing Home-Cooked Vegan Comfort Food by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman, two brilliant American vegan cookbook authors. I don’t know about you, but in my new home in Stirling, Scotland, autumn is in the air. The wind is nippy, showers intersperse the day, and I often wake up to moody clouds pregnant with hail. Yep, hail.

So even though I know it’s good to be eating salads and raw foods, really, all I want is stick-to-your-ribs, warm and cosy food. Which is where this book comes in.
And this is one bad-ass vegan cook book. Every possible argument you have ever heard from a fervent anti-vegan (‘You can only eat rabbit food’, ‘It’s not nourishing’, ‘You won’t get all your vitamins/minerals/protein/etc.’) finds the perfect in-your-face-sucker counter-argument in this book. It’s impossible to make hearty filling vegan food? Serve ‘em up some I Would Do Anything For Meatloaf or some Stewtatouille. No such thing as downright filthy vegan street food? Stuff a Sloppy Jo-Ni in that gob.
Oh and for those who thought salads can’t be comforting, think again. Salad haters will be converted to fervent preachers. I personally can’t wait to try Kale With A Kick.
It is a very American-inspired cookbook, of course. Peanut Butter Fudge, S’mores Pie, Fruity Creamsickle Whoopie Pies, are some interesting recipes you may not be too confident trying at first, but I’m sure we’ll be praising the new American cuisine soon enough.
There is something for every moment, every mood – times you feel unsociable, and times you feel generous and want to make a feast for your friends. Food for winter and for warmer seasons. Food for tears and cheers and cosy film nights. Lazy Sunday mornings and rushed but sweet breakfast on the go.
Mostly I love this book because it was written for every-day use. For food to nourish you Monday to Friday when you need it fast without compromising on nutrition, and through the weekend when you need to indulge after the long week. It was written for all vegans, newbies and veterans alike, and non-vegans too. You will impress everyonewith the meals you’ prepare from this book.
But most of all, you’ll show the non-believers this is a sustainable, do-able, and – gasp! – fulfilling lifestyle.

To whet your appetites, here is the recipe for Sloppy Jo-Nis, one that I simply cannot wait to try. My stomach is rumbling just thinking about it. Enough talk, to the kitchen!

{Recipe by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman}

Sloppy Jo-nis
Weeknight meals made easy, thanks to the use of the versatile TVP and everybody’s favorite condiment . . . KETCHUP! You can replace the ketchup with barbecue sauce for a tangy twist.
Note that if using certified gluten-free ingredients this dish is indeed gluten free.
1 cup (96 g) TVP granules
1 cup (235 ml) vegetable broth
(Not-Beef broth works best here, but any will do)
14 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
14 cup (40 g) finely diced onion
14 cup (40 g) finely diced green bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon (15 g) prepared yellow mustard
34 cup (204 g) ketchup
1 tablespoon (15 g) steak sauce
1 tablespoon (14 g) packed brown sugar (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 hamburger buns
Reconstitute the TVP in the broth. To do this, either place the TVP and broth in a microwave-safe bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and microwave on High for 5 to 6 minutes or pour the boiling broth over the TVP, cover, and let
stand for 10 minutes. The TVP will absorb all of the liquid.
In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper. Sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes longer.
Reduce the heat to low and add the reconstituted TVP, mustard, ketchup, steak sauce, and brown sugar. Stir to coat, and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve piled sloppily onto the hamburger buns.
Yield: 4 servings

Home-Cooked Vegan Comfort Food is out in September 2013 and is published by Quayside Publishing. Recipes by Joni Marie Newman and Celine Steen, photographs by Celine Steen. 

You have till 30 September 2013 to enter the giveaway competition by leaving a comment below. The winner will be selected at random. 
Good luck 🙂
This contest is now closed and the winner has been selected. Congratulations to ASHLEY!

World Food Café: Quick and Easy Recipes From a Vegetarian Journey – Book Review

I was recently very lucky to be sent a copy of World Food Café: Quick and Easy Recipes From a Vegetarian Journey (Chris and Carolyn Caldicott) to review. Though it’s a vegetarian book, it is loaded with vegan recipes – I would say over 80% of them are vegan and the rest are easily adaptable to suit a totally plant-based diet. 

A delicious balance of travel writing and recipes, World Food Café is just the best of both worlds. I am a firm believer that food is one of the best ways to get to know a culture (though not the only one, of course.) Food is at the centre of every single culture in the world and people take great pride in the traditional meals that their families have been preparing for generations. Through this book, and the meals you will cook from it, you will catch a glimpse of life in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Chile, Syria, Lapland … It is such an eclectic mix of countries and cuisines, and I am very excited to be cooking from this book in the next few months. 

It really is as if Chris and Carolyn have tucked us into their pocket and we are travelling along with them. The book is full of inspiring photographs of sweeping landscapes, the beautiful people who live in these exotic places. The only thing I would have liked to see more of in this book are photographs of the actual food (I do like to know what I’m cooking is supposed to look like); instead copious photos of sky-kissed mountains, rice fields and smiling street vendors adorn the pages of the book. But that’s not so bad, really. 

The recipes are divided by chapters according to countries. I would strongly advise you to read the introduction to each chapter as it will provide you with a short but thoroughly detailed understanding of a given country’s food culture. It’s fascinating stuff. 

As I mentioned, this is officially a vegetarian cookbook, but you will find most of the recipes are naturally vegan if not vegan-friendly. You only need make simple substitutions, such as agave nectar or maple syrup for honey, coconut oil or vegan margarine for butter, soy(a) yogurt for dairy yogurt, etc. 

I’ve already bookmarked loads of recipes I can’t wait to try (so many, so little time!), such as Buddhist ‘meat’ stew, Iced rooibos tea sundowners, Oven pancakes with strawberry and blueberry compote, Fresh mint and yoghurt borhani, and Apple, saffron and honey butter rice. 

If you easily get bored of the same food every day, I can’t recommend this book enough. Each recipe is more colourful and curious than the next, making cooking a real adventure, and all from your own kitchen. In fact, if you’d like to purchase the book, I’ve teamed up with the publisher, Frances Lincoln, to offer you a special price! 🙂

To order World Food Cafe: Quick & Easy (9780711232969) at the special offer price of £16.00 (inc UK p&p) please call Bookpoint on 01235 400 400 and quote the code 46WORLDFOODCAFE. (Only valid till 20 September)

World Food Café: Quick and Easy Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott is published by Frances Lincoln. 

Frances Lincoln Limited
74-77 White Lion Street
London N1 9PF

The Mighty Fork – Venn Street Market

Look. At. This. Beast.

If you follow me on Twitter you will have seen that I went to Venn Street Market a couple of weeks ago to enjoy something I’d greatly been looking forward to: The Mighty Fork vegan hot dogs.

But let me first quickly show you how lovely Venn Street Market is:

I happened upon this stall, which I’d also seen at Brixton Market. I tried a few samples and was instantly convinced of the quality of the breads (which are more like really dense, moist and super flavourful cakes) but restrained myself because, well, money’s tight these days (isn’t it always, though…)

And more veggie temptation…

And look, the adorable cupcakes by the one and only Ms Cupcake (again, if you follow my Twitter, you’ll know that I also worked at her stall at Lambeth Country Show two weekends ago – it was FAB.)

But this day was all about hot dogs. Anticipation had built up to an almost unbearable point but finally, finally I was rewarded.

The prices are really decent for London (4 quid for a hot dog, 4 QUID), and for fresh vegan food – especially considering that each hot dog is bursting with flavour and heat. These hot dogs are bold and messy but oh-so-satisfying.

Having tried a forkful of sauerkraut and barely managed to swallow (ew is all I can say, but then again I was never one for sour foods) I went for the Brew Dog: spicy, downright dirty, and simply epic. I was not disappointed.

Indeed, I loved every single bite.

I can’t recommend The Mighty Fork enough. It’s the ultimate veggie treat for a successful weekend, and if you have any sceptical meat-loving, veg-hating friends, this is what you want to serve them to convince them that plant-based does not lack in flavour and does indeed pack a serious punch. Head down to Clapham Common this weekend for a taste of this epic food.

Crockford Bridge PYO Farm

In June, the Cookie Monster and I took a train to Byfleet & New Haw to visit the nearest Pick-Your-Own farm in London. It was a blistering 30ºC or so, and we sweated like sinners in church, but it was such an enjoyable experience. 

A local advised us to take this picturesque path to the farm, which was such a lovely surprise. When you live in London you sometimes forget how charming the English countryside can be; I couldn’t think of better way to spend my weekend. 

When we got to the farm, we set to picking the freshest produce. 

Beautiful chard and spinach for my green smoothies? Yes please. 

The red currants weren’t quite ripe yet (sad face) but it’s now high season, so go picking! 

But the strawberries were simply divine. Just look at their colour – the photos are unedited

We met this adorable family who had just picked several pounds of strawberries. They were too cute not to photograph. 

After a couple of hours, this was our booty: strawberries, rhubarb (for a crumble I made – recipe coming soon!), a bunch of spinach and chard, TONS OF PEAS (I’m in love with peas – forever and for always), and some gooseberries for the mister (ew gooseberries).

And on the way back, along that same canal, we passed this majestic dog:


It was such a splendid day, and nothing compares to picking your own ingredients, fresh from the earth. I believe that this is how we were meant to be living, and sometimes I miss that lifestyle so much I feel a pinch in my heart. I was so blessed to grow up on a farm. Someday I will live like that again. 

If you would like to visit Crockford Bridge Farm yourself, here is what you need to know:

* Click here for their website. 
* Contact: 

New Haw Road, Addlestone, Nr. Weybridge, Surrey KT15 2BU

Info Line: 01932 853 886  Farm Shop: 01932 852 630

* The nearest station is Byfleet & New Haw. Trains leaving from Waterloo to Woking will stop there (check
• It is a good 25 minute walk along the road from the station to the farm, and about 40 minutes via the dirt path, which starts some way along the road, on your right. You need to go around the lake, then follow the path along a field, which then leads to the farm on your left. Print a map of the area before leaving. 
* Check which fruits and vegetables are in season at the moment to avoid disappointment. 
* Walking a bit further down the field to where the crops haven’t picked as much will ensure you get good ripe produce. Most people tend to be a bit lazy and not walk too far into the fields, but that’s how you miss the good stuff. 
* They have a lovely farm shop with heaps of homemade jams, cakes, breads and freshly picked produce, and an ice cream parlour in the summer.

Do you ever eat food fresh from the farm? What do you think about growing your own food, or supporting your local farmers?