I love stuffed peppers! They’re such an easy way to get more vegetables into your diet and this recipe is super-healthy. This was an experiment in changing things up, because I usually make stuffed peppers with rice, but today I wanted something different, so I filled my peppers with a taco-style filling of soy mince (TVP), sweetcorn and salsa, and topped with my vegan no-blend guacamole but you could also add grated vegan cheese if that’s your thing (or if you have any… I don’t, because my local Sainsbury’s has mysteriously stopped selling all vegan cheese since the lockdown began). This recipe is also perfect for when you are craving tacos but don’t have any taco shells.
A big dollop of salsa (you can substitute this for some chopped tomatoes and a teaspoon or two of Piri Piri sauce or a teaspoon of any other hot sauce if you don’t have salsa)
A teaspoon of Vegemite (or another yeast extract)
Cut the bell peppers in half and remove the seeds.
Reconstitute the TVP with boiling water and add the Vegemite, garlic and cilantro. Mix thoroughly to avoid any Vegemite lumps and leave the mixture to sit for 10 minutes to absorb the hot water fully.
Drain off the excess water from the TVP and mix with the sweetcorn.
Put the TVP and sweetcorn mixture into the halves of the bell peppers, taking care not to knock them over. If you have peppers that won’t lie very well in the oven, balance them carefully against each other for support.
Bake for 15-20 minutes in a fan oven at 180 degrees/gas mark 6.
Serve with chilled guacamole and salsa.
What’s your favourite thing to put in stuffed peppers? Let me know in the comments!
Serves 2 as a dip or 1 as a big dip. Scale for the number of people you’re feeding.
I looked through some fancy recipes for guacamole but they all needed ingredients I didn’t have, namely, fresh avocado, fresh cilantro and lime juice. So I’ve come up with this recipe to work with the ingredients I actually have, because I’m not the sort of person to keep limes in my house unless I want to specifically make something unusual with them.
I wanted guacamole to top off my vegan meaty bell pepper tacos, because I can’t get vegan cheese right now and tacos without cheese OR guacamole is just crazy talk. Of course, I only thought about guacamole after the bell pepper tacos were already in the oven, so this recipe is quick and easy.
The bell peppers for the taco recipe take 15 minutes and this guacamole recipe took the time after the peppers were in the oven, minus the time it’s taken to write this article. I can’t put the blender on right now, because the baby is asleep and my Ninja sounds like a Harrier Jet when it’s running, plus I really can’t be bothered to clean the thing, so this is a no-blend recipe, too.
1 Avocado or about 1/2 a mug of frozen avocado (I did this because lockdown).
3 fresh cherry tomatoes. You could substitute this with a tablespoon of tinned chopped tomatoes if you needed to, but it will lose the texture of the fresh tomato skins.
A sprinkle of cilantro (aka leaf coriander), I used dried because lockdown but fresh will give a more fragrant result.
A teaspoon of lemon juice.
Defrost the frozen avocado in a mug. I used the defrost setting on the microwave for 2 minutes, stand for 1 minute, microwave on defrost for 1 more minute, and then I drained the excess water out of the bottom of the cup.
If using fresh avocado, cut around its long equator, twist, and separate the two halves. Dig out the stone with a dessert spoon. Chop into medium-sized chunks.
Chop the cherry tomatoes into fine pieces. The seeds will come out as you do it. Scrape the seeds, juice and pieces into the cup.
Add the cilantro and lemon juice to the cup.
Mix everything with a fork, mashing the avocado and making sure it’s well-mixed.
Chill in the fridge until you are ready to use it. It should be chilled when served, so make it at least an hour before you want it.
If you’re like me, you didn’t make it an hour before you wanted it. So instead of the fridge, put it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to bring the temperature down, especially if you used a microwave to defrost the avocado. Don’t forget about it or you’ll need to defrost it again. Maybe write a note or something.
I’m having serious cafe withdrawals at the moment. I miss going out to cafes and ordering food that I can’t make at home. So today I decided to do what I used to do in China when I felt like this. I decided to bring the cafe to me.
I was craving eggs royale, which is the salmon version of eggs benedict. It requires a bread bun, cut in half, on which a poached egg and a piece of salmon are arranged, and they’re drizzled with Hollandaise sauce.
Hollandaise sauce is notoriously hard to make, and I don’t know how to poach an egg without a poacher, and I have to avoid dairy, but I decided not to let any of that stop me from achieving my dream.
First, I found out that Emma Bridgewater mugs are REALLY well made. You can put one in a pan on direct full heat on a stovetop and it poaches an egg. It does take a few minutes but it gets the job done. That was my second attempt at poaching an egg (my first attempt was a complete disaster and resulted in an egg-splosion because I tried to do a “proper” poached egg where you basically whisk boiling water into a vortex then drop an egg into it. I do NOT have the skills for that, apparently).
Then there was the problem of the Hollandaise sauce. Here’s the recipe I adapted:
1 packet of silken tofu (300g or about 9 oz)
1/8 cup of lemon juice
1/8 cup nutritional yeast
1/8 cup dairy free butter
1/2 tsp turmeric (for colour)
1/2 tsp oregano (flavour)
a good pinch of garlic (flavour)
a good pinch of pepper (flavour)
Blend the tofu until it’s a smooth liquid. Then put it in a pan with the other ingredients and heat on a medium heat until the butter is melted and the sauce starts to turn a bright yellow. Serve over eggs benedict or eggs royale.
This recipe is so much easier than making the complicated emulsion for proper hollandaise sauce. If you want something with a more traditional flavour, ditch the oregano.
The main point to note with this recipe is absolutely don’t use the firm spongy kind of tofu. It won’t blend into a liquid, it will turn into a scrambly mess. The sauce itself is vegan but I obviously poured it over things which were non-vegan.
Lastly, the taste test. I thought it was really nice when it was cooked for long enough, but when I tasted it during cooking, it kept tasting excessively lemony, so definitely simmer it for at least 5 minutes to draw out the other flavours in this sauce.
Okay, so I got this book called Eat Beautiful by legendary makeup artist Wendy Rowe and it was packed full of tips on which foods are good for you and will nourish your skin from the inside. Spoiler alert: It’s totally awesome, BUT they’re mostly expensive and some of them are obscure and hard to find.
However, such things don’t normally bother me. I totally loved this book and will use the info in it when I am in a country where I can acquire the foods it talks about. But for now? In China? I am not. Most of the food here is weird.
So instead, here’s my own list of things I have found that really make a difference, all of which I’ve been able to buy in one form or another in China (except Miso soup… WTF China?!):
Tomatoes. Tomato juice is my favorite, but also passata, any kind of tomato-based pasta sauce or soup, fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes… they all contain antioxidants and lycopenes, which help protect your skin against cancer by helping the cells stay healthy. Healthy cells are pretty cells.
Blueberries. These also contain antioxidants. Now, current research shows that you don’t want to overload on antioxidants because after a certain point they’re not so useful. However, most of us don’t get enough dark blue and purple fruits and vegetables, so I’m still reaching for the blueberries in the store.
Avocado. Vitamin E is SO good for your skin, especially as you age. It gives you a healthy glow. And avocados, along with nuts and olives, are full of vitamin E.
Coconut oil. I’ve talked before about coconut oil. It’s good for you on the outside and the inside. Enough said.
Miso soup. Expensive, but really healthy. Fermented soy beans are the ones that are effective in the fight against cancer. We’re talking PREVENTION here; if you HAVE cancer, go to a real doctor.
Black grapes. As well as making the BEST wine/champagne, black grapes are healthy AF, and like blueberries and tomatoes, they help reverse skin cell damage to ensure your outer layers are in tip-top shape.
Orange juice. Some people buy vitamin C serum to put on their faces. Others just drink more orange juice. I prefer to drink it because I put enough other stuff on my face, lol. It’s not a buzzy fad food, but sometimes the oldies are the best. Also, OJ is WAY cheaper than vitamin C serum, by several orders of magnitude, and if you only put it on your face you’re losing out on all the other health benefits of orange juice.
Shiitake Mushrooms. Got a vitamin D deficiency? These will help. And we’re all more beautiful when we have the inner tranquility of not having nutritional deficiencies.
Spinach, kale and broccoli. If you’re low on vitamin K, leafy dark green vegetables are the way forward. A vitamin K deficiency makes your skin look pallid and washed out, and it also makes you bruise more easily, making blue under-eye circles and veins worse. Consult your doctor if you’re on warfarin.
Carrots. Beta carotene gives you a healthy glow (some people even take tanning tablets with a high amount of beta carotene to make them look tanned, although I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s also the reason that flamingoes are pink– they eat shrimp packed with beta carotene. That’s why they sometimes turn white in the zoo; lack of beta carotene), and pro-retinol of course has boatloads of research to support its effectiveness as a beauty product.
For the third year running, I decided to go to all my local supermarkets and find out which Easter eggs are dairy free and vegan, so you don’t have to waste as much time tearing your hair out over ingredients. I did discuss the US options last year, and they don’t seem to have changed so you can find that post here.
The prize for Most Improved Vegan Easter Egg Collection 2017 has to go to Morrisons; they have really worked hard to develop a vegan Easter Egg range and you can find them amongst the normal eggs in the seasonal aisle (not in the Free From section) which I always prefer because then I don’t feel like a leper. If I had any money, I’d send Morrisons a trophy. They have 4 vegan eggs this year, including three from Moo Free; the “milk” chocolate one, the “bunnycomb” (honeycomb) one which has chunks of honeycomb in it, and the “orange” one which has chunks of orange-flavored confection in it, as well as the standard Kinnerton one. Full points for interesting and unique eggs this year:
ASDA have a nice set this year, there’s their Easter Egg with Choc Buttons for the kids, a nice looking one with orange discs for millennials, and a serious dark chocolate fancy egg for people who like a bit of luxury. Take a look:
Sainsbury’s had their usual lovely collection (and I’m pleased to tell you they also now do the most DELICIOUS dairy free Wensleydale cheese AND a vegan microwave lasagne). The highlights were the white chocolate egg and the Choices egg (I love the caramel chocolates that come with that one), both of which I bought. There were others, too, but I can’t seem to find the photos to show you (really sorry; if I find them I will add them to this article):
Tesco’s dairy free range has been a bit disappointing this year, and I noticed their Christmas range was lacklustre for milk-free as well; they seem to prefer to fill their free from range with gluten free stuff (and there’s a lot of stuff that they’re selling as “gluten free” when there’s a normal, cheaper version that doesn’t actually contain gluten). So their range was relegated to the mainstream eggs that didn’t have dairy in. Here’s the set I found (with ingredients as they’re not explicitly marked as vegan or dairy free):
The Hall of Shame:
And now, for the third year running, it makes me sad and a little angry to discuss those eggs that look vegan and dairy free, but aren’t, in Invoke Delight and Inspire’s traditional Easter Egg Hall of Shame:
And the prize for the least vegan friendly Easter chocolate, 2017, goes to Nestle, for THREE eggs that contain gratuitous milk. Again. Why do I suspect that someone in Nestle has a grudge against dairy-free chocolate? Now, Cadbury’s seem like they’ve been pretty vegan-unfriendly, but I will remind y’all that they own Green and Black’s, which has at least 1 dairy free egg, even if some of their others are not, so each year they make at least some effort in this department, whereas Nestle are stuck in 1982:
Nestle, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Again. And don’t bother to contact me if you’re just going to spout some spiel about needing butteroil in your After Eights or that “consumers tell you they like milk in their chocolate” because I’m a consumer and I don’t want milk in my chocolate, and given how popular this “Which Easter Eggs Are Vegan” series of articles has been, year on year, I know I’m not alone. BTW, readers, unbranded After Eights are dairy free and they taste great; most supermarkets sell them as “after dinner mints.”
I shouldn’t be surprised by Nestle, they have always been a bit regressive. After all, they did run that Yorkie “it’s not for girls”, and later, the “this one is for girls” (get in your freaking corner, girls, OMG, like what are you doing trying to eat chocolate?) advertising campaigns.
Has anyone spotted any other vegan Easter eggs in shops? Let me know in the comments!
When my Dearest and I buy a chicken to eat, we tend to cook it on one day and eat half between us, then we eat the other half on the second day after re-heating the chicken for 45 minutes in a hot oven.
So this time it turned into another cooking disaster. I can’t actually take credit for this one… I mean, I did the right thing and ensconced the remaining half-chicken in cling film (saran wrap?) to make sure it didn’t go bad while it was in the fridge overnight.
However, I wasn’t the person who then put the chicken in the oven.
I was the one who came to take it out and discovered it was coated in melted plastic.
I’d like to be classy and say we threw it away on the spot, but I really wanted to eat something and I’d just spent 45 minutes waiting for a chicken to cook that someone else had put in the oven. So I didn’t throw the chicken away.
Using mad surgical skillz, I very carefully dissected the chicken in such a way that the chicken coated in cling film or any chicken that might have absorbed plastic was all removed.
There was maybe 1/2 a cup of chicken left at the end of it all. I poured some soup over it and ate it.
It tasted funny.
I am not really sure what the lesson is here. Don’t let other people cook? Seems a bit of an overreaction. What do you think? I have learned nothing from this episode.
So I made blackberry jam, and I canned it, which I’ll talk more about at the bottom of this post.
Here’s the recipe I used (it was very simple). This is a standard jam recipe but it’s vegan and gluten free:
1. Go pick some blackberries. I got 300g. Blackberries grow wild on brambles.
2. Weigh them (and wash them thoroughly, throw out any bad ones).
If you didn’t get many (you need at least 200g really – that does an 8oz jar of jam, when you subtract the stuff that will burn to the bottom, but for lots, preferably 500g-900g), freeze them and wait for more to ripen, then pick/wash more.
3. When you’re ready to make jam, weigh all your blackberries together.
4. Measure out the same amount of golden granulated sugar (it’s a 1:1 ratio blackberries to sugar). Maybe other sugar types also work, I used golden granulated.
5. Put the berries in a pan with a big tablespoon of lemon juice (this will help preserve the fruit) and about 1/4 cup of water, and bring to the boil.
6. Simmer straight away for 15 minutes.
7. Add the sugar. It will take a lot of stirring and a lot of waiting to get it all to dissolve.
8. Once it’s dissolved, turn the heat up as high as you can and boil for 10-12 minutes, until the blackberry gloop reaches 105 degrees C (220F) which is the setting point. Don’t stir, but if you smell burning, it’s done.
9. Take off the heat, skim off any white froth from the top, and let it settle for a few minutes (you can put it straight in jars at this point but I wanted to check it had worked.
10. Put in (sterilized with HOT water) jars, seal them if you want to.
About canning, storage times and such:
I used these quattro stagioni jars in 8.5 ounce size, which I found for a good price on the shelf at Homesense (they’re one of those places that has different stuff each week), I liked them because they’re made to take the high temperature and they’re vacuum sealable for food safety (although one of mine didn’t seal) and they sell replacement lids (70mm or 2 3/4 inch is the size for the 8.5 oz jars, although that is NOT cheap for 2 jar lids, so I hope somewhere starts doing them cheaper). You can use any old jar for jam, but you should use a fresh lid each time because you can’t fully clean the lids, which is why I bought jars to use.
If you want to read about home canning in more depth to ensure you’re doing it safely, this free guide from the USDA is phenomenal (I’d start with this section). I highly recommend it for people thinking of canning (which means putting in jars – that confused me for a while) other garden produce, although I’m still undecided on what to do with my carrots when they’re fully grown.
If you vacuum seal the jar with the blackberry jam in it, and don’t open it again, it’s good for 1 year (the jars I linked to have specific instructions to seal them in hot water, I managed to follow them using a bucket as I didn’t have a big enough pot). If it doesn’t vacuum seal (the popper in the lid still pops up) it’s good for 1 month. When you open it, it’s good for 1 month.
Anyone else done any canning or jam making? Got a different recipe/method? Let me know in the comments!
Do you use wheat packs? I got introduced to them a few years ago and I love them! I microwave them, they get warm, it’s a nice way to calm aching muscles or something to snuggle when I’m lonely. I also like using them to open up my pores to clean my face out before I use a face mask. In winter, I go for one of those before I’ll put the heating on because it’s cheaper when it’s just me in the house…
…Yeah, they’re great until you need to clean them. This might be the funniest story of domestic ungodessitude that I’ve ever managed to experience.
Last year, when two of my indoor rabbits were outside for the summer I got them a snuggly dog bed (they don’t make them for rabbits – pet shops are so racist) and it had a removable wheat pack in the middle that you microwave for your bunnies (or dogs).
When they moved back into the house, I brought the rabbit bed back in. The new bunny Timmy managed to confuse it with a litter tray, and I removed the wheat pack and put the rest of the bed through the washing machine. I sorta thought the wheat pack shouldn’t be washed but it *was* part of a pet bed and surely anyone designing a pet bed would know how messy pets are and how their stuff needs regularly cleaning.
That left me wondering what to do with the wheat pack. Anyway, in true MsAdventure style, I managed to forget about it for 6 months, and I found it while cleaning this weekend. It was stained brown and I thought I was doing the right thing by cleaning it. I’d forgot it was a wheat pack, and I chucked it in the wash, thinking it was a bean bag (with those styrofoam beans). I found out after this whole misadventure that it had a care label but I hadn’t read it before I did this.
Oh God that didn’t go well.
I put it in the machine with a load of other pale things, setting the temperature at 40 to get rid of the heavy stains, and somehow the entire load of washing smelled SO BAD, so I put everything back through the washer again (including the wheat pack), with a cupful of vinegar as well as the usual detergent (I was out of my usual favorite, Listerine), and it all smelled WORSE. Like, after 10 minutes in the tumble dryer (and I’d removed the wheat pack by now), the kitchen was filled with the worst decomposing fish smell and nobody ever wanted to smell that. It was disgusting, but I couldn’t work out where the smell was coming from (it stank so bad, I wondered if there was a dead mouse in my tumble dryer, and I don’t have mice in my house as far as I know).
I put it on the radiator to dry (I knew enough to know not to tumble dry it) thinking that a pair of socks had caused the bad smell. Nope. I finally worked out it was the wheat bag. I cut it open to see what happened, and instead of neat little brown balls of wheat it looked like this:
It sorta looks like sprouted popcorn with all the residue from the bottom of the popcorn bag. The smell was so bad I had to brush my teeth after smelling the inside of the bag (it was so much worse after I opened it) because I couldn’t get the smell out of my nose.
So if you’re wondering whether that “do not wash” label on your wheat pack or wheat bag is ignorable, DON’T!! If your wheat pack is dirty, you have two options. Either cut it open, remove the wheat, and wash/dry the bag then replace the wheat and sew it back up, or just buy a new one. The warning on that label isn’t like the warning on cheap clothes that dares you to tumble dry them, that warning on your wheat pack is real.
I threw it in the garbage.
Don’t do what I did (unless you’re trying to attract stray cats, zombies, or you really want to scare social workers into investigating your home)!!