Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Veganuary: quick and easy vegan meals

For those of you out there who are contemplating dropping meat and animal products from your diet (even if just for the month of January -something apparently named "veganuary") but aren't sure where to start (especially if you live in Ireland -the bigger chains are getting better, but finding things like vegan snacks and frozen goods can still be hit and miss), here's 3 quick/ idiot proof vegan meals. Simple, ridiculously quick to cook, and nutritious too. Making the transition (even if just for the month, or simply "meatless Monday") doesn't have to be complicated.

I often hear people say they would be veggie or vegan, but they "can't afford it", or "don't have the time to cook like that". And I'm over here nibbling on me Tesco value potatoes, like:


You'll notice I am both terrible with keeping track of portion size and relaying recipes (Bicky can contest to this, the "I don't know what happened, I made it like you said but it tastes shite"). But just be thoughtful -think about how many people you are cooking for. If you accidentally make too much, you can freeze it or refrigerate, and will know for next time! The main thing to note is that because there is no meat, you will want to have extra vegetables. So take that into consideration -you should be replacing your meat, not simply going without it. In some cases this can be done with the carbs portion, if not the vegetable portion of the meal, but I would suggest a balance. E.g., you're having your Sunday roast, but with no meat. If you don't fancy any meat alternatives like Linda McCartney or Quorn (FYI, Linda McC is nicer), then simply have some extra spuds and some extra vegetables (not just extra spuds, on top of extra spuds... as tempting as that sounds).

While on the subject of meat alternatives -you might hear (especially in online groups) some silly noise about it all. Look, they aren't super healthy, you know that. They're mostly frozen foods, same as most frozen, convenient foods. But they aren't the devil either. Some believe "pretending to eat meat" or anything that looks like meat (like when we say veggie burgers, or vegan cheese) somehow takes away from our efforts. Seriously, it's dumb. Who cares what you call it. Plus this thinking gives outsiders the impression that they could never be veggie and vegan, that somehow you aren't allowed miss meat. Just because I don't, doesn't mean I can't understand why some would indeed miss the taste of meats. Honestly, most people who turn to vegetarianism or veganism do so because either a love of animals or they are an environmentalist -rarely simply because they don't like the taste of meat. So it's ok to say you miss it, to find alternatives that might taste similar.  If they help you transition, all the better! Worry about tofu and seitan later (nom nom). You'll get there, you little veggie rebel you!

But for now, lets cheat. On the cheap. These recipes are not only designed to be super quick to make up, but I also reference easy to find ingredients anywhere in Ireland...


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Veggie Curry


Ingredients:

Rice
(Go for brown, sure go on. Be daring. Use boil in the bag if you're really not used to dishing out portions).

Your Chosen Veggies
I like red pepper, yellow pepper, onions and loads of mushrooms. If you want something more filling, add in sweet potato (OMG)... Again, portion control is up to you, but remember you are using them to replace meat -so double the amount of veggies you would usually have in such a dish.

The Sauce
Vegan jar sauces exist, but can be hard to find -Just check the label. Alergins like dairy or egg are always in bold. Unlce Ben's medium curry is vegan if you fancy going that route, but this one is also a good option And you'll have loads of the ingredients left over to make more in the future -even better value.
- Lidl's gravy granules for chicken (the darker one contains milk)
- Dry curry power (also available from Lidl, as well as Tesco, and just about any where -look by the dry herbs)


Method:

  • Make up the gravy granules according to recipe. Add in curry powder and stir. Keep adding curry and tasting until you have a spice you like. To make it hotter add in whatever extra you fancy - cayenne pepper, black pepper, etc. 
  • Boil rice according to instructions and leave to side.
  • Fry up veggies (trying to be extra healthy? Go for FryLite instead of oil or fats).
  • When cooked add rice and curry sauce to the pan, and stir.




Creamy Pasta



Ingredients:

Pasta
Most is egg free! Just avoid fresh pasta which will have egg, but just check the pack. Luckily the cheapo crap is grand. Again, go brown (you'll feel less stodgy afters).

The Sauce
The base is simple hummus/ houmous -this is your new god! If you're on a diet, go low fat (just as nice). Readily available in Lidl, Tesco, etc. Whatever dry herbs and flavours you happen to have lying about your kitchen. A vegan spread is also optional, to make it less thick -sauce will be mixed together into the actual pasta, no pre mixing needed (see below under method).

Veggies
Again, ones you like. Pasta is always best with Mediterranean style vegetables, so think peppers, tomatoes, white or red onions, maybe some mushrooms. Even spinach -or add a side salad with rocket (that's the stuff right there).


Method:

  • Fry veggies in FryLite and leave to side.
  • Boil pasta, drain.
  • Quickly before pasta goes too cold -add your veggies, blob of hummus and stir. Add in some dry herbs, maybe some garlic salt. Want it spicy? Add chilies (dry or fresh), black pepper, kaiyan pepper, whatever you fancy.
  • If you feel it's too thick, add some vegan spread (such as Dunnes Sunlite or any of the Pure brand spreads). 

And that's it! Lovely cold as a pasta salad too.


Cauliflower and Asparagus Soup


Ingredients:
  • Cauliflower (fresh or frozen, but fresh is nicer if ya have any) -around 3 cups worth.
  • Asparagus (fresh) -around 7 spears. 
  • Spring onion -around 4.
  • Soya milk (either sweetened or unsweetened, although the sweetened one adds a nice little extra taste to it if ya fancy that) -around 3 cups.
  • Garlic (fresh or the dry granulated stuff) -As little or a much as you like.
  • Salt and pepper -Again, whatever amount ya think tastes good. 

Method:
  • Place the cauliflower in a pot with your garlic, cover with water and bring to the boil on full heat.
  • When this begins to boil, add the asparagus and spring onion and turn down the heat.
  • Cook for about a further 2 minutes, or until the vegetables have soften slightly.
  • Take off the boil and blend up the mixture using a hand blender. Blend until smooth. 
  • Add in the soya milk, salt and pepper -How much depends on your own preference and how thick/ thin you like your soup.
  • Whisk again and ta-da! Shit easy, healthy soup!



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Euuuugh, but brah, I still need to get my snackage on! Well, mon frere, here's a brief list of regular, ol' snacks that are accidentally vegan:

  • Oreo cookies
  • Star Burst
  • Jelly Tots
  • Hunky Dorey crisps -Cheese and onion (yep, really!) and salt and vinegar
  • Manhattan popcorn (most brands really, but we all know Manhattan is the best popcorn in the universe... If they would like to send me a box for saying so, I'm not against the idea... - Just look out for cheese flavoured ones)
  • Chocoalte bourbon biscuits (most brands -check pack just in case)
  • Soya yogurts (taste same as dairy ones. Look for the Alpro brand, Tescos also have their own version available in most stores)
  • Most brands of ready salted crisps


For more totes vegan snacks and shiz, check out one of my older posts:

How to be vegan in Ireland: Food


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Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post (I'm really not that important, and don't like being told what to write... and bit of laziness, perhaps). Although as mentioned, if Manhattan wana hook me up with shit loads of popcorn, I'm cool with that.

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