Monday, 21 July 2014

RICE WITH CARROTS + E-BOOK REVIEW

My super talented blogger friend, Ada, released an e-book today! When I first got into blogging, she was one of the first to welcome me and leave all kinds of lovely, encouraging comments on my posts. Before I get on to a review of her handy guide-book, I have a quick and easy recipe to share.

Don't let the simplicity of this dish fool you. There's something about this combination that I can't quite put my finger on and I found myself wanting to eat large amounts of it. Perfect as a side or even as a main meal.


Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 carrots (sliced)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- water
- salt to taste


Heat the oil in a cooking pot and sauté the chopped garlic for a few seconds. Add the rice and cover with enough water (approx. 3-4 cups). Add the curry powder, thyme, chili powder, stock cube, and season with salt. Stir, cover with a lid and turn the heat all the way down. When the water has nearly dried out and the rice is almost ready, stir in the chopped carrots and cook for a few more minutes to allow the carrots to soften. Serve hot or warm.

--

E-BOOK REVIEW: GET U.G.L.Y.


Low self-esteem. Body image insecurities. These are issues we all face at one point or another in our lives. In her no-nonsense guide, replete with personal anecdotes, Ada gets to the heart of the matter and offers her reader 10 fool-proof tips on how to achieve that sometimes elusive thing called self-acceptance.                                                 
By adopting the acronym U.G.L.Y. (Unconditionally Grateful Looking like You), she deconstructs the superficial label of 'pretty' and emphasises the importance of searching deeper and recognising the innate value we all possess, regardless of our outward physical appearance.                         

The tips range from the very practical (think posture and the power of smiling!) to the more abstract and perhaps more challenging ("stop trying to be pretty, work on being attractive" - a seeming paradox that she goes on to clarify with much nuance). 

The book will take you hardly any time at all to read and it must be said that the beautiful layout also makes the reading experience that bit more enjoyable. 

Why do I think it is worth checking out? Because although some of the tips may appear obvious at first sight, they are timely truths that we need to be reminded of as often as possible. So grab a refreshing drink of your choice, take a few minutes out of your busy day, and get stuck in.                                                            

Click here to subscribe to Ada's blog and get your free copy of the e-book!

Friday, 18 July 2014

SUMMER DRINK #4 - NIGERIAN CHAPMAN

Anyone else sweltering in the heat today? Summer is my favourite time of the year. I really can't get enough of it, because then I get to make tasty, refreshing drinks like this one.

Chapman is a popular cocktail drink in Nigeria which you'll find served at restaurants, bars and most big events. Next to the club sandwich, it exists in my memory as one of those fascinating things grown-ups had at fancy restaurants or sipped by the pool at places like Ikoyi Club. 

It's usually made using Angostura bitters, lemonade, fanta and some sort of blackcurrant cordial. If you run a quick google search, you'll find that there's no shortage of detailed recipes online. What I'm offering here is a healthier version of the drink. I've chucked out the soda and made a few swaps: 

fanta -> freshly squeezed orange juice
lemonade -> fresh lemon juice and sparkling water


Ingredients
- 6 cups blackcurrant juice or diluted ribena
- 6 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 cups sparkling water
- juice of 2 lemons
- lemon, lime, orange and cucumber slices (to garnish)
- ice cubes

I mixed mine in a large punch bowl and threw in a generous helping of sliced lemons, lime, oranges and cucumber. Throw in some ice cubes for some extra chill. 

                                      

                                      

Monday, 14 July 2014

VARO JOLLOF RICE GIVEAWAY WINNERS!

Thank you to everyone who entered the jollof rice giveaway. I've never had this many entries for a giveaway before, which only encourages me to do more like this. I wish I could give a box to everyone who entered but, alas, only 3 winners can be selected.

CONGRATULATIONS:

- Claire Efua Barber
- Akibo Tommie
- Nafisa Shehu

Please shoot me an e-mail at vegannigerian@gmail.com with your contact details.

Thanks again for the continued support. Stay tuned for more EPIC giveaways on the blog! :)

Saturday, 12 July 2014

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE POTS

Credit to Anemistyle for this beautiful creation, which has quite easily changed my culinary life :) I was spoilt rotten when I had lunch at hers this past week. You can check out pictures of the vegan dishes she rustled up on the Facebook page. One of the desserts she made was the very delectable 'bounty in a cup' which was assembled with creamy, home-made, vegan chocolate mousse and a soft coconut layer in the middle. The chocolate bar 'Bounty' used to be one of my favourites in my pre-vegan days and so I didn't even need to taste the dessert to fall head over heels with it. I was blown away by the texture of the mousse, and was unable to guess the secret ingredient to getting it so smooth and creamy. You probably won't be able to guess either, but you will be delighted with the results - trust me! The ingredients are easy to find and are all indigenous to Nigeria, so I hope to hear some feedback from a lot of you who try it at home!

A dose of spontaneity is always good for the soul so when lunch was over, we ventured to the nearby grocery store to pick up some ingredients to experiment a bit more with the chocolate mousse. The experiment involved flavouring some of the mousse with a touch of chilli, and topping with a range of fruits to see what worked and what didn't. Three tropical fruits were selected for the task - mango, banana, and orange. I will be reviewing the mango and banana.

Dried mango - this was probably my favourite combination. The mousse for this pot didn't have any chilli added, which I think was for the best as it would have overwhelmed the flavour of the mango. The mango added some extra sweetness and a chewiness to every bite - a welcome contrast to the creamy mousse and slightly crunchy coconut. It would be worth experimenting with some fresh mango to see if that works as well. If any of you do use fresh mango, let me know what you think.






Banana - the mousse used for this pot was flavoured with chilli. I overdid the chilli in this one, and have adjusted the recipe below. It was wayyy too hot, even for a spice enthusiast like myself. Chilli-chocolate is a wonderful combination when the balance is right, so go easy if you decide to add some. As for using fresh banana as a topping, you can't go wrong with that. I plan to re-make this soon using the amended recipe.







Ingredients
(makes 4)
- 2 ripe avocados
- 2-3 heap tsp cocoa powder
- 4-5 tsp brown sugar (or any sugar replacement of your choice)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
- 6 tsp grated/dessicated coconut
- 1 tsp water
- 1 tsp brown sugar (or sugar replacement of your choice)
- Fruit slices (mango, banana, orange...whatever you have available)

To make the chocolate mousse, blend the avocados in a food processor or mash it by hand with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, 4-5 tsp sugar, pinch of salt, vanilla essence and optional chilli powder. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.

To make the coconut layer, place the grated/dessicated coconut in a bowl, add the water and 1 tsp sugar. Combine to form a soft coconut paste.

To assemble the dessert, start by layering some mousse at the bottom of a small glass cup or ramekin, making sure to smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Next, add a generous layer of the coconut mixture. Finish off with another layer of chocolate mousse, smooth it out, and top with some slices of fresh fruit. Sprinkle on any leftover coconut to garnish.

Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or until you are ready to serve them. It should keep for up to two days.


We also scooped some into tiny cupcake cases and topped them with different things: banana, coconut and mango, cashew nuts. Bite-size portions that can be frozen for a melt-in-the-mouth treat.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

VEGAN FOOD DISCOVERIES

Last weekend was particularly vegan-tastic. I had so much fun going out and about, discovering some awesome vegan treats along the way. The pictures are not great because this wasn't a planned post and so I spent less time being arty-farty about the picture quality... but they will give you a general idea of some of my finds. 

If you haven't followed me on Instagram yet then head on over to get a glimpse at some of the things I get up to when I'm not blogging - and also to check out some other vegan meals I eat (that don't make it onto the blog). www.instagram/vegannigerian 

This post will highlight a handful of my favourite vegan finds from over the weekend. You might want to check some of them out for yourself.

1. Greenwich Market - a surprising number of vegan-friendly stalls and market kitchens.

- Vegan Sweet Tooth (Organic Homemade Bakery)
I bought their chocolate brownie (and ate it before I remembered to take a picture). I had a difficult time picking something to try because everything looked so good - carrot cake, orange polenta cake, muffins, fruit tartlets, savoury pies etc. A really impressive spread. 

- Ngozi's Kitchen
A range of wonderfully healthy hot sauces made with peppers and tomatoes, from sweet/mild to extra hot. Low sodium, very little oil. Full of heat and flavour. I tried all the samples and eventually bought the sweet sauce. It went great with a bit of rice and plantain.

2. The V Delicious Show 2014 - vegetarian and vegan products exhibited under one roof = magical.

- Ruby's of London (Artisan Vegan Patisserie)
If there is any vegan company from the V Delicious show worth raving about, it has got to be Ruby's of London. We had a great conversation with the lovely co-ordinator who was so informative and friendly, as well as incredibly encouraging when she heard a bit about my blog. We were gifted with three gorgeous cupcakes - 2 'triple chocolate' and a 'raspberry ripple'. Apart from the beautiful designs, the cupcakes tasted like everything a good quality cupcake should taste like. Rich, fluffy and indulgent. I couldn't believe how perfect the textures were. Vegan baking extraordinaire.

3. Carnival - sun, music, food glorious food.

I attended a street carnival; spent a good 3 hours walking the entire length of the street and stopping to take in the different carnival attractions - dance performances, DJ sets, face painting, etc. I have decided that there is something indescribably enchanting about getting lost in a crowd. It wasn't that difficult finding something to eat. There were A LOT of barbecues, but also snatches of culturally diverse cuisines with vegetarian/vegan options. I settled on some flavoursome Nepalese vegetable noodles. When in doubt, seek out the less obvious food options.
                   



Friday, 4 July 2014

VARO JOLLOF RICE REVIEW + GIVEAWAYS ! (CLOSED)

Nigerian food going mainstream? Yes, please! I am so excited to be reviewing this product, and even more excited to be giving some packs away to selected readers. Keep reading to find out more.



Varo is a recently established company founded by Omamo Binitie, a Nigerian-born entrepreneur based in London. Their first product launch in February 2013 was ready-to-eat moin moin, available in over 100 shops across Britain and Ireland, including one of the largest supermarket chains, Tesco. 

Their latest product launch is the incredibly moreish jollof rice in two variations - plain and with vegetables. As I've mentioned before, jollof rice is probably my all-time favourite dish and so the idea of it being available to a wider audience across the UK at such an affordable price (it will retail at £1.60) is a thrilling prospect! 

I was immediately impressed with the packaging - clean design, professional, colourful and attractive. There is no way you could walk past it on a supermarket shelf without taking a second glance. I have tried a few rice-based ready-meals in my time and nothing comes as close to how flavourful Varo's jollof rice is. But then again, come on, this is jollof rice we're talking about. It's only the greatest style of eating rice known to mankind, as any loyal West African will tell you :)


Two minutes in the microwave and I had a delicious portion of jollof rice in front of me. At that precise moment, it struck me just how revolutionary this product is. With over 1.5 million West Africans living in the UK, any one of them could be having a lazy day and in the mood for a familiar taste of home without the stress and effort of cooking from scratch. A quick visit to their local Tesco store for a pouch of Varo jollof rice and they'd be sorted! Beyond this core target audience, non-Nigerians will finally get to see why Nigerian cuisine is worth checking out. 

What makes all this even better is that Varo's products are free from artificial preservatives or colours, and are 100% natural. 

I can't rave enough about how fresh the rice tastes, and there's just enough spice to satisfy those who like a bit of heat, but not too much to make it inedible for those with more sensitive taste buds.
Not content with just trying it by myself though, I had it as a meal with one of my housemates, Elisabeth, who is now excited at the prospect of making it a regular addition to her weekly shop. Says it all really.

Would I eat this again? Absolutely. Varo was generous enough to send me a mouth-watering stash and I get to share some of it with you too. 

Before we get to that...

Show some love and check out Varo on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!


GIVEAWAY

3 winners. Each will get a box containing six Varo Jollof Rice pouches.

The rules are simple:

2. Like, Share and Comment on the giveaway post (using the hashtags #varo #vegannigerian)

OR

1. Leave a comment down below
2. Share this blog post on a social media site of your choice (Facebook, Twitter..etc), tag @vegannigerian

Winners will be notified on Monday 14th July. If I don't hear back within 2 days, another winner will be selected.
Do get involved. This jollof rice is the bomb! :) 

                                            

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

SUYA SPICED VEGETABLE KEBABS

We had a bunch of vegetable skewers left over from a bbq we had over the weekend and so I decided to spice some up for dinner last night. 

Suya is a popular street food in Nigeria - a shish kebab usually prepared using strips of skewered beef coated with suya spice (a.k.a. 'yaji') and oil, and then grilled over charcoal. It is normally sold wrapped in old newspaper and is a firm favourite among consumers across the nation. Various spice mixes exist; this is my take on it. 

Here, I had a good mix of chunky vegetables to work with: red onion, mixed bell peppers, and mushrooms. Feel free to experiment with whatever veg you have available. Why not try cubes of parboiled potatoes or carrots...? The options are endless. The key thing is to get your spice right! And hopefully this post will help you achieve that.


Ingredients
(for 8-10 skewers)
- abundant mix of chunky vegetables
- 3 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 cup roasted peanuts (finely ground)
- 1 tbsp corriander seeds 
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp all spice
- 1 tbsp red chilli powder or cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt

To make the the suya spice, place the roasted peanuts, spices and salt in a pestle and mortar and grind to a smooth powder. Alternatively, you could place them in a plastic bag, seal and crush with a blunt object such as a rolling pin.

Place the mix of chunky vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle on the sunflower oil and add 3/4 of the suya spice, mixing well to coat all the vegetables.

Skewer the vegetables and line them up on a foil-lined baking tray. When you're ready to cook them, place in a preheated oven (gas mark 6) for 15 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked. Or place them on a barbecue/grill and grill as normal, turning frequently to prevent excessive charring. 

Sprinkle with the rest of the suya spice and serve hot.



Serving suggestion: with jollof rice

Friday, 27 June 2014

YAM CANAPES

Fiddly little things, but well worth the effort if you have the time. I made these for an end of term dinner party I hosted recently. My first proper fully vegan dinner party, now that I think about it. Not a drop of meat or dairy to appease my non-veggie guests ;) The last time I cooked for a significant number of people, I caved at the last minute and gingerly put a chicken dish together. I tend to have pretty good instincts when it comes to flavouring/seasoning, but with no way of tasting the thing myself, goodness knows what they had to endure. At least there was no gagging... which is always a good sign.

So yes, it was a blissful experience putting the food together this time around... maxing out on flavours and techniques using all my plant-based ingredients. There were about four other dishes on my selected menu including a spicy red vegetable curry, fried rice and a couple of intricate salads. A friend had agreed to handle dessert - a simple, healthy fruit salad to balance the heavy main course.

These yam canapés easily took the longest time to make and were an accidental addition to the menu. I was all set on making just the plantain canapés (which you can sorta make out in the background of the picture below) but realised that I had only one plantain left at home and no time to go out and buy some more. They looked a bit sad on the tray and so these mini yam taste explosions were born. The filling was also an experiment using the ingredients I had lying around. If you've ever had fried yam then you know just how amazing it tastes on its own. But with the creamy avocado-pepper-potato filling...? Pure magic. 

It is absolutely important that the yam is thinly sliced or else the canapés will go from bite-sized treats to full on bricks that are awkward to eat. Just to warn you.


Ingredients
- 10 slices of yam (thinly sliced!)
- sunflower oil
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- 1 medium potato (boiled or baked whole until soft)
- 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
- 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers (I used red and yellow)
- chopped red pepper and spring onions (to garnish)
- salt and pepper (to taste)

Trim around each round slice of yam to form a roughly square shape. Then cut into four equal parts.
Have a tray ready and line it with some kitchen paper. Shallow fry the yam pieces in a little sunflower oil, turning them over until lightly brown and crispy on both sides. You'll need to do this in batches in order to have enough time to turn each one over. Place each piece on the lined tray to drain off any excess oil. 

To make the filling, sauté the chopped garlic and bell peppers in the little oil left from frying the yam for about a minute on low heat. Cut the boiled potato in half and scoop out the (hopefully) soft inside. Add to the pan, along with the avocado. Mix/mash well to combine all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Take off the heat.

To assemble the canapé in such a way that the filling doesn't ooze out when you sandwich the pieces together, spread a tiny bit of the filling on one piece of yam then pierce another piece of yam with a cocktail stick (with the red pepper and spring onion garnish on top, if you wish) just far enough that you can place it on neatly and slightly pierce the bottom half without squashing the filling out. (I hope my poor description makes some sense...)
Lay them out on some snazzy tray to serve.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

GARRI COOKIES 3 - DATES

It's like the food version of a Nollywood movie! All these part 1's and 2's and 3's... All that's missing is the obligatory booming voice and  thunder/lightning-strike sound effect ;) Well, this is the last one I've got up my sleeve for now. A chunkier, melt-in-the-mouth version loaded with chewy dates. Again, I followed the original recipe but took out the raisins and used dates instead. I also used a food processor to mix all the ingredients together, which perhaps accounts for its slightly smoother texture.

Check out Anemistyle's review of these date cookies and the double chocolate-chip version here.

GARRI COOKIES 2 - DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP

I followed the original recipe, took out the raisins and added about 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, a handful of dark chocolate chips and double the amount of chopped groundnut.


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

LUNCH WITH 'ANEMISTYLE'

One of the perks of blogging is connecting with other bloggers. A few of the blogs I love to stay up to date with include: Deserve Your Great Life, Berry Dakara, Vegan Miam, Arike, Labyrinths of Lara, Healthy. Happy. Life., Lohi's Creations, Good Naija Girl, Natural NigerianInterprétations Culinaires, Chef Afrik and of course, Anemistyle. Nemi's site is focused on fashion, lifestyle and nifty DIY projects. You should check out some of her brilliant creations, like this spring/summer chiffon top (I want to make one!).

When deciding what to cook up for our lunch meet-up, my mind may or may not have gone off in all kinds of spirally directions. What can I say - it was such an exciting prospect having someone from the blogging world try out my food! I rustled up two types of salad (kale/tomato/avocado/cucumber, and a couscous salad), a variation on my butter bean parcels (using honey beans this time around), banana-berry ice-cream for dessert, fresh mint tea and freshly made apple/peach/cucumber/celery/parsley juice. And, as promised, a batch (or two...I went a bit baking crazy) of the signature garri cookies (two new versions that I will post up soon), which she will be reviewing on her site!

To the other bloggers I follow: if I ever get a chance to cook for you, there will be no holding back! You've been warned :p

Monday, 16 June 2014

PLANTAIN DUMPLING SOUP

Love plantain and stew? Then you're sure to love this hearty soup. 
It's been quite the kitchen-y day. I have not sat down for a second since I crawled out of bed at *cough* 11 am *cough* this morning. When inspiration hits, you just have to get on, right?

This is another one of those things that made sense in my head. Thank goodness it wasn't a waste of time putting this together. It turned out fantastic and my taste-buds were grateful for it. When you really think about it, it's not like a lot could have gone wrong with this - it's pretty much a glorified bowl of boiled plantain in stew, only jazzed up with some bright vegetables and shaped into cute dumplings.

The flavours are perfectly balanced - a bit of heat from fiery green chillies, sweetness from the plantain, a delicate aroma from fresh lemon grass...Need I go on? Keep reading to discover a new way of eating the ever-versatile plantain. 

Ingredients
- 1 ripe plantain
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 3 green chillies (or 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper)
- handful of fresh basil or partminger
- 1 stalk green onion (finely chopped)
- 1/2 green bell pepper (finely chopped)
- 1 red bell pepper (half of it finely chopped)
- 3/4 cup wholegrain flour or toasted breadcrumbs 
- 4 large tomatoes
- 1 stalk lemon grass
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp olive oil (optional)
- Salt to taste

Start by making the soup base. Blend half the red bell pepper with the tomatoes, lemon grass and a little water. Pour into a large pot, add the olive oil and season with salt. Let it simmer on a low heat as you get on with the rest.

To make the dumplings, blend the ripe plantain with the garlic, chillies (or scotch bonnet pepper) and fresh basil (or partminger) in a food processor to form a smooth mixture. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl and add the chopped green onion, red and green bell pepper, and the flour/breadcrumbs. Mix well to evenly distribute the chopped vegetables. With floured hands, take spoonfuls of the mixture and roll into round dumplings - it should yield about 10-12. Arrange them on a lightly floured surface as you go along. 
Place each dumpling carefully into the simmering pot of soup. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for another 5 minutes with the lid off (this will help thicken the soup slightly).
Serve hot with a generous garnish of chopped fresh herbs.

MINT ICE-CREAM

Three ingredients. 100% guilt-free. Delivers on taste and texture. This was so good that I made it my breakfast this morning. A welcome variation to this earlier recipe.

I went shopping over the weekend and picked up some fresh mint from an eye-catching fruit and veg store. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but the nostalgic fragrance took me back to my short stay in Morocco back in 2012, and before I knew it, it was in my shopping basket. I have since made several mugs of refreshing mint tea, but this ice-cream right here is just... Well, you'll have to try it and see for yourself. 

Ingredients
(serves 2-4)
- 4 ripe bananas
- 2 handfuls of fresh mint leaves
- 1 lemon

Chop the bananas into small pieces and place in a plastic container. Squeeze on the juice of half a lemon (to stop the bananas from turning brown), cover and freeze for 2-3 hours.

Place the frozen banana pieces and the mint leaves in a food processor. Blitz until you have a smooth, creamy consistency.

Serve immediately; it melts fast!


Saturday, 7 June 2014

EATING OUT #7 - THE GARDENER'S ARMS

One of my housemates treated me to a celebration meal at The Gardener's Arms last week. A vegan/vegetarian-friendly pub nestled in a quiet corner of Jericho (Oxford). Quite the little gem. You walk in and it's like your regular pub - down-to-earth, cosy, relaxed, unpretentious. I was struck by the exclusively vegetarian menu and the number of vegan options on offer: mushroom pie, Indian thali platter, vegan burgers and wraps, veggie hot dogs, pitta and hummus, rocket-olives-fresh tomato flatbread calzone...etc. For once, I could take my time selecting what I wanted instead of zooming straight on to the marginal, 2-3 option vegetarian section that you find on most restaurant menus. 

Here's a little extract from the back of their menu:

"The Gardener's kitchen started in 2003 with the intention of serving no-nonsense, quality vegetarian food that was appealing to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. The thinking behind this was that it would be a welcome relief for vegetarians and their dining companions to be able to eat somewhere that guaranteed meat-free vegetarian food with a wide choice of dishes that would be appealing to meat eaters as well..."

With their recognisable, classic pub food, they certainly succeed at appealing to meat eaters. Even my housemate confirmed that the veggie burger was one of the best in town. 
If you're after super-healthy, minimal vegan food then this is probably not your location, but if you want to treat yourself to something hearty and indulgent then this is THE ideal spot.

The Gardener's Arms is definitely a place worth visiting more than once, if only to work my way through the entire menu. It's a bit of a shame that they are relatively far out from the city centre, but the 20-25 minute walk to get there is so worth it!

I ordered the vegan burger served in a flour bap with toppings of tomato, iceberg lettuce and pickled chilli, along with a sweet chilli sauce. Yum!


This was followed by a home-made banana + chocolate sponge pudding (vegan and gluten-free). I could only manage about half of it as my main meal had filled me up, but it was delicious. It had a soft, fluffy texture with a gooey dark chocolate centre. We agreed that it would have been even nicer accompanied with some extra sauce or something creamy (whipped coconut cream, maybe?)

Be sure to check them out if you're ever in the area.

Friday, 6 June 2014

GOLDEN PAPAYA SALAD

More neon orange than golden, but let's not get nit-picky. 

The sun was out today, I was in a fantastic mood and this bright, luscious salad seemed like the perfect thing to have for lunch. I've used pawpaw/papaya in a sweet dessert recipe before, but wondered how it would fare with other savoury ingredients. Verdict? Absolutely incredible. I chopped one half of it into chunks for the salad and used the other half to make a rich papaya-ginger-tomato dressing (oil-free). Sooo yummy. 
I've used a mix of spinach and lettuce leaves for the salad base, but any leafy greens you've got available will do the trick. Top it off with a mix of other bright vegetables and you're good to go.

This would be great to take along to a summer party or family gathering.

Ingredients
- 1 small papaya (pawpaw)
- 2 big handfuls of mixed greens (spinach, lettuce...etc)
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper (chopped)
- 1/2 orange bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 medium carrot (sliced)
- 4 cherry tomatoes (sliced)
- 2 medium tomatoes
- fresh ginger (as much or as little as you want)
- 1 lemon
- chopped basil or partminger (to garnish)
- ground black pepper

To make the dressing, blend half the papaya with a bit of fresh ginger, the 2 medium tomatoes and the juice of one lemon.

Place the mixed greens at the bottom of a large salad bowl, add half of the salad dressing and mix until all the leaves are coated.

Arrange the chopped fruit and vegetables on top, sprinkle on some ground black pepper and garnish with chopped basil or partminger. Drizzle on the rest of the dressing and serve immediately. If you're making it ahead of time, then don't add the dressing until you are ready to serve (to stop the leaves from going soggy).

GROCERY HAUL #7

Aaaand...breath. Exam season is over. As is my month-long hiatus from the blog. Mind, body and soul slowly slotting back into place. I've swapped the confines of my desk and revision notes for the great outdoors (well...when I'm not catching up on all my favourite TV shows, that is). Food shopping has once more become an exciting endeavour. All in all, I can't wait to try out the new recipes I've been accumulating.

It's been a minute since I've done one of these grocery hauls. To be fair, they were starting to get quite repetitive, and not every shopping trip is accompanied with a particularly interesting back-story. I've decided to revive the ol' grocery haul post on this occasion though, mainly to encourage anyone who might be considering the vegan diet/lifestyle and to show that ABUNDANCE, not deprivation, is the name of the game. It's been well over a year since I gave up all animal products and I honestly don't think I would have stuck with it if there wasn't such an endless variety of fruit and veg to try. I never count calories, almost every meal feels guilt-free, and I've slowly come to appreciate the positive effects of good food on the body and mind. If there is one tip I would extend to anyone who wants to go vegan, it would be to fill your house with copious amounts of fresh produce. I find that when the house is stocked with plant-based goodness, I simply have no choice but to eat it all, in place of the processed foods I could be reaching for (either that, or I watch my money rot away at the bottom of the fruit bowl, and that's not gonna happen!). 

I'm back home for the week, so all of this fruit and veg isn't just for me. I may or may not be on the verge of convincing a fellow family member to go veggie...

So, here's what we got...

Vegetables: 3 heads of lettuce, green beans, garlic, fresh basil, spinach, spring onions, cucumber, mixed bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, potatoes, carrots.

Fruits: apples, bananas, papaya/pawpaw, lemons, melons.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

THE VEGAN NIGERIAN STORE

I get quite a lot of e-mails from readers asking where to find specific ingredients or appliances that I've used in creating some of my dishes. With that in mind, I've incorporated an online store (courtesy of Amazon - you will need an Amazon account btw) into the website, which I hope you will find useful and convenient.

I've hand-picked a selection of food items that I use fairly regularly - beans, rice, almond milk, peanut butter, egusi etc, along with other items that you're guaranteed to find in the [vegan-friendly] Nigerian kitchen. It's basically a one-stop place to find your kitchen cupboard/fridge essentials. I'll keep adding to the inventory as time goes on.

Aside from food, you'll also find some kitchen items, such as the amazing julienne peeler I used for my "Vegetable Spaghetti" recipe, and regular ol' blenders for whizzing up those smoothies or making a batch of red pepper mix.

Lastly, there are sections for Books, DVDs and other fun miscellaneous items. The books and DVDs in particular are resources that have personally helped me along my vegan journey. Guides, recipe books and hard-hitting documentaries that explain why veganism makes sense ;)

Just scoot on over to the 'Shop' tab at the top of the page and take a look. Got any product suggestions? Get in touch! (vegannigerian@gmail.com)

Happy browsing!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

VEGAN SNICKERS

Who says you have to give everything up once you go vegan? This post is inspired by This Rawsome Vegan Life's all-natural raw snickers candy bars. I've changed it up to create my own version, with fewer ingredients and with peanuts instead of almonds and pine nuts. Dates are naturally sweet and have a caramel-like taste so they mimic the caramel and nougat layer in the regular snickers bar perfectly without the need of added processed sugar or syrup. 

These turned out fantastic - gooey, crunchy and chocolaty all at once - but they are sooo rich that I think I'll only make them once in a blue moon. Snickers bars happen to be a family favourite, so perhaps I'll be able to convince my family to switch to this vegan version.

*Also, check out this interview I did for Vegivoirienne's blog recently :)


Ingredients
(makes about 10)
- 2 bars dark chocolate (about 100 g each)
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1/4 cup fresh pineapple
- 1/2 cup salted peanuts

Start by lining a rectangular plastic container or small tin with some greaseproof paper.

Melt the first bar of chocolate. Simply break the bar up into small pieces in glass bowl, place the bowl over a saucepan of steaming hot water and stir until the chocolate has melted completely. Pour the melted chocolate into the greaseproof-lined container/tin, making sure it spreads out to form an even layer and covers the base of the container/tin completely.

Evenly distribute the salted peanuts onto the melted chocolate. Place in the freezer for a few minutes until the chocolate hardens.


To create the caramelly-date filling, place the dates and fresh pineapple into a food processor/blender and whiz to form a gooey paste. (The pineapple is added to provide a bit of moisture, but you'll hardly taste it in the finished product)

Take the container out of the freezer and spread the date mixture evenly over the first layer of chocolate. Place in the freezer for another few minutes.

In the meantime, melt the second bar of chocolate in a clean glass bowl (repeat the process outlined above).

Take the container out of the freezer again and drizzle the second layer of melted chocolate over the top, making sure to cover the date filling completely. Don't worry if it looks a little bumpy or whatever, it's all part of the home-made charm ;)

Place the container in the freezer one last time for about 20-30 minutes so that all the layers harden sufficiently. 

Lift the chocolate out of the container/tin and peel back the greaseproof paper. Use a large knife to cut the chocolate into 10 little bars of roughly equal size. You can trim the outer edges if you want it to look all neat and extra fancy. Share and enjoy!