Wednesday 20 December 2017

Top 10 Vegan Christmas Recipes

If you're short on ideas for your vegan spread this Christmas season, here are my top 10 picks of wonderfully festive recipes to try, in no particular order (because let's be real, jollof rice would beat brussels sprouts to the top spot every. single. time.). These are dishes that are already up on the blog so simply click the titles to get to the recipe page!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and New Year in advance! xo

1. Brussels Sprouts
But y'know, properly spiced and seasoned so they don't taste like old socks.

2. Beans and Plantain Canapes
So visually appealing that you'll want to hang them up on your Christmas tree.

3. Nigerian Roasted Vegetables
The result of plantain, yam, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables hanging out together in the oven.

4. Jollof Rice and Plantain
What's a party without jollof? I'm waiting for you to tell me.

5. Plantain Fried Rice
What's a party without fried rice? Still great if there's jollof rice, but why limit yourself...

6. Coconut and Turmeric Roast Potatoes
A fancy schmancy take on roast potatoes for cooks who want to show off this Christmas.

7. Pumpkin Spice Puff Puff
Little bite-sized doughnut puffs of goodness, bursting with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Yes.

8. Christmas Pudding
Want to really really really impress? Make this.

9. Nutty Chocolate Truffles
Picture it. You're snuggled up on the sofa with a Netflix movie on the TV screen. You've got a whole bowl of these. And you refuse to pass them round. They're all yours.

10. Raw Vegan Mince Pies
I'll be the first to admit that this one is right on the border of ridiculous. But look at how cute it is though!

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Vegan Christmas Feast [Pictures and Video]

I love it when a good plan comes to fruition.

A few months ago, my friend Elisabeth and I were catching up over lunch and discussing the possibility of collaborating on a pop-up event. Fast-forward to December 9th and we were hosting a vegan Christmas feast! It was festive, it was fun, the food was insane (in quantity and hopefully in taste!), it was everything we imagined it would be and then some. Thank you to all our guests and to all the wonderful people involved behind the scenes.

Relive the night with us by watching the video and then check out these snaps (photos by Alex Shaw):

Sunday 3 December 2017

Everything Vegan | Cruelty-Free Apparel

With Christmas just around the corner, I am especially excited to finally share this review. Whether you are buying for a vegan friend or adding to your own wish list, the high-quality apparel from Everything Vegan make for awesome presents.

The company, based in California and founded by Aaron Seminoff, prides itself on providing 100% vegan apparel printed with organic water based inks.

I had the opportunity to pick out a few items from the store to try and as you can see from the image above, I went with a cute berry-coloured racerback tank top with the message 'You Had Me At Vegan' (catering to my inner romantic, no doubt) and a grey t-shirt that reads 'Powered by Plants' (an empowering testament to the energy you feel when you follow a healthy plant-based diet). As a final cherry on top, I also selected a couple of vegan stickers: 'Be Kind to Every Kind' and 'Save the Planet, Go Vegan', perfect for adorning my laptop, notebooks and any other surface that I can use to cheekily spread the message.

If you've ever wanted to make a bold statement about your vegan lifestyle (and why the heck not? - it's great!), then shirts like these are perfect, because they do the talking for you and act as conversation starters.

I found the items to be well-made and beautifully designed. Even after several washes, the colours are still bright and fresh. I've worn the t-shirt casually with a nice jacket thrown over the top in the colder weather. And the berry tank top is especially great for the gym.

Beyond t-shirts and stickers, you'll also find sweaters, hats and socks in the online store. You'll no doubt be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting one of the quippy messages, some of my other favourites being: 'I Yam What I Yam' (ha!), 'I Get Plenty of Protein Thanks!' (say it louder!), 'Vegan Vibes' (so chill...), and the more seasonal 'All I Want For Christmas Is For You To Go Vegan' (subtle...).

For these and many more wonderful designs, visit the Everything Vegan website. If you're quick, you can enjoy 30% in their sale using the code: CYBER30.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Vegan in Zurich, Switzerland | 11 Places to Try [VIDEO]

Took a trip to Zurich to visit an old friend who recently moved to the city and we had a blast exploring and trying out a bunch of vegan places. Below is a list of 11 vegan-friendly restaurants and joints I think you should visit.

Got any recommendations of your own? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below or over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

1. Queen Idia African Restaurant (Badenerstrasse 125)

This was a pleasant surprise. Possibly the only Nigerian restaurant in the entire city (I couldn't find any others online), this restaurant is cosy, beautifully decorated and offers a little slice of home away from home. Several items on the menu are accidentally vegan and most dishes can be easily adapted. Think jollof rice, fried rice, yam and stew, beans and plantain. The food was so good that I went back a second time before the end of my trip.

2. Bona Dea (Bahnhofplatz 15)

Located right next to the main train station, this vegetarian buffet restaurant is definitely worth a visit. The menu clearly draws some inspiration from Indian cuisine and 90% of it is vegan. For a set price you can fill your plate only ONCE. Of course, I went all out to 'get my money's worth' and in the end had to conclude that it was good value for money as I couldn't even finish it!

3. Elle 'n' Belle (Limmatstrasse 118)

Honestly, this place ought to be at the top of your list if you're ever in Zurich. This edgy restaurant and bar is all vegan and utterly delicious. You'll recognise a lot of the food on the menu, like burgers, chips, pizza etc. But they've added their twist to a lot of it, so when it reads 'black burger' and 'red burger', expect the bread buns to be just that. The black burger is infused with charcoal while the red burger is dyed using beets. It's bold food with even bolder flavours. And their carrot cake is bomb.

4. The Sacred/Vegelateria (Müllerstrasse 64)

Apparently the first organic vegan restaurant in the whole of Switzerland. This venue doubles as an eatery and ice cream parlour. We came just for the vegan gelato, and we were not disappointed. The customer service was fantastic and we struck up a lovely conversation with the gentleman who served us. He ended up introducing us to a vegan meet-up group that was parked there in the restaurant, and this led to a long and insightful conversation about the history and growth of veganism in Switzerland.

5. Roots (Am Schanzengraben 19)

It turns out that brunch is pretty big in Zurich and brunch places get booked out quickly. Roots is a healthy juice bar and restaurant with a handful of locations around the city, offering a gorgeous mostly-vegan brunch buffet. Remember to reserve seats a day in advance to guarantee a place. If you forget, there will likely be space to sit at the bar so don't let that put you off from visiting.

6. Hiltl (Sihlstrasse 28)

A ridiculously large vegetarian restaurant with loads of vegan options that are clearly marked. Whether you're after a buffet, takeaway or a la carte dining, Hiltl has you covered. It is also the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe, having opened its doors in 1898. It will be busy when you visit and you do have to weigh your plate to pay, but you will also be spoilt for choice and will enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. There are a couple of branches dotted around the city.

7. Klara's Kitchen (Universitätstrasse 17)

Vegan-friendly takeaway joint near the University of Zurich. The menu changes every day, with three or four organic hot food options alongside wraps, cakes, juices and breakfast foods.

8. Rami 59 (Rämistrasse 59)

I think it's really cool that the cafeteria inside of the University of Zurich is fully vegan. Arrive at lunch time for hot food, and any other time for vegan cakes, drinks and snacks. I had a luscious mango cake - worth the visit if only for that.

9. Tibits

Similar to Hiltl, Tibits has a massive self-service buffet and the charge is by weight. There's a branch right here in London so I was already familiar with the restaurant. Several branches in Zurich so just google to find your nearest location.

10. Alnatura/Migros (Löwenstrasse 31)

I wanted to buy some chocolate to bring back home with me, but wanted vegan brands only. Alnatura was a lifesaver. This organic food/health store has a wide selection of vegan products including biscuits, chocolates, plant milks, ready meals, savoury snacks, and lots more. Reasonable prices too.

11. Caffe Spettacolo

Not the best customer service in the world, but they do offer vegan croissants and hot drinks if you've got a hankering for it. Check the labels first as not all the croissants are vegan. There's a branch in the main station and several others scattered around the city.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Chickpea, Vegan Sausage and Mixed Vegetable Curry

Serves 4
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 2 large carrots (chopped)
- 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 yellow bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
- Broccoli (chopped)
- Cauliflower (chopped)
- 4 Linda McCartney vegan sausages (chopped)
- 1 tin coconut milk
- 1 tbsp all-purpose seasoning
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
- Salt to taste

Heat the sunflower oil in a large saucepan and sauté the chopped vegetables and vegan sausages for a couple of minutes.

Add the coconut milk and seasoning. Allow to simmer until the vegetables are cooked through, then add the chickpeas.

Serve on a bed of rice, couscous or bulgur wheat. 

Sunday 12 November 2017

Pop-Up | Vegan Christmas Feast

Ending 2017 with a Christmas celebration and you're all invited!

Click here to book a ticket.

Saturday 11 November 2017

John Lewis Christmas Event 2017 [Video]

As I mentioned in my previous post where I shared a recipe for vegan Christmas pudding, I attended an exclusive blogger event hosted by John Lewis at the Waitrose Cookery School near Finchley Road. At the event, I learned how to make the delicious pudding, enjoyed a masterclass on how to make a festive negroni cocktail, and got to enjoy a beautiful vegan and gluten-free Christmas dinner.

The event brought together vegan, gluten-free and lifestyle bloggers, and it was great to meet new people and catch up with a few of familiar faces.

The event began with a welcome drinks reception where prosecco flowed and we were given a chance to chat, relax and mingle.

Soon after, the John Lewis and Waitrose Cookery School team introduced themselves and split us up into three groups for the Christmas pudding making session - vegan, gluten-free and traditional. Working in pairs, and with all the ingredients provided, we had a go at making our individual sets of Christmas puddings.

Once the puddings were in the oven baking, we then moved on to the cocktail making. Not only did we get to see the process, but we had a go at making some ourselves.

With drinks in hand, the lovely team then came round with a selection of canapés, including mouth-watering tandoori cauliflower wings and sweet potato sausage rolls.

Festive negroni cocktails

Finally, we were treated to an all-vegan, all-gluten-free Christmas dinner. Although the term referred to it as a 'light dinner', it was anything but! The gorgeous spread featured crispy roast potatoes with maple glaze, whole onions stuffed with wild mushrooms, marsala brussels sprouts with chestnuts, roated rainbow carrots with pine nut sauce, and Italian-inspired masterpiece of creamy polenta mash topped with aubergine, lentil and roasted squash ragu. To the talented chef who put this creative spread together, all I can say is: it was heavenly.

(Marsala brussels sprouts with chestnuts; roasted rainbow carrots with pine nut sauce creamy polenta mash topped with aubergine

The night came to a natural close and we were presented with our Christmas puddings, which the team had put into cute cake boxes for us to take away (after taking gorgeous photographs of each type). And that wasn't all we got to take away, as we were also gifted with a tote bag filled with John Lewis goodies.

It was a night to remember and I enjoyed every bit of it. It's only mid-November but I'm ready to crank up those Christmas tunes!

Don't forget to check out the recipe for the Christmas pudding here.

For more Christmas inspiration, visit the John Lewis Christmas shop here.

Friday 10 November 2017

Vegan Christmas Pudding | Easy Recipe

Take a long, hard look at that beaut of a Christmas pudding. This could very easily be sitting on your dinner table this Christmas - let that sink in.

A couple of days ago, I was invited to the John Lewis Stir-Up Sunday event at Waitrose Cookery School.

Stir-Up Sunday is a tradition that dates back to Victorian times when people across the UK would make their puddings in preparation for the big day. 

At the John Lewis event, food bloggers and enthusiasts were brought together to do just that. We were split into groups to make either vegan, gluten-free or traditional versions of this classic - a sure reflection of the ways in which our diets are evolving. Brownie points if you can guess which group I was in! 

By the end of the night, we all went away with our mini puds, boxed up and screaming to be consumed (...that's as violent as it gets for vegan food imagery).

In a follow-up post, I will be going into a bit more detail about the event itself, but you're here for the Christmas pudding recipe, and that's what you'll get.

(serves 4)
25g dairy free margarine
1 tbsp milled flaxseed
60g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
25g coconut oil, melted
40ml black treacle
55ml stout (e.g. Meantime London Irish Stout)
1 tbsp dark rum
Finely grated zest 1 unwaxed lemon
40g peeled, cored and coarsely grated bramley apple, mixed with lemon juice
10g blanched almonds, roasted and chopped
75g currants
20g mixed peel
20g Forest Feast Sour Cherries

200g mincemeat (vegan)

Preheat the oven to 180 C, gas mark 4.  Grease 4 mini pudding basins and 4 small circles of baking parchment with the soya spread and set aside.  Mix the flaxseed with 3 tablespoons cold water and set aside for at least ten minutes or until it becomes jelly-like and makes ‘flax-egg’.

Sift the self-raising flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves into a medium mixing bowl, then add the “flax-egg”and the melted coconut oil.  Mix the treacle with the stout and rum in a measuring jug.  Pour this mixture into the bowl and whisk everything together thoroughly. Stir in the lemon zest, apple, almonds, currants, peel, cherries and mincemeat.

Divide the mixture between the prepared basins and top each one with a circle of greased parchment.  Wrap each basin in an 18cm square of foil and fold under the edges of the basins.

Place the basins into a roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to come 2.5cm up the sides of the basins.  Carefully place the tin in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the puddings are springy and firm to the touch in the centre. Remove from the oven, unwrap, remove the parchment and leave to stand for 10 minutes.  Carefully run a small knife around each one and turn out onto warm serving plates.

Thursday 2 November 2017

OBE SAUCE [REVIEW] - Jollof Rice in 15 Minutes? [Video]

My dad was the first to rave about this product and so when I was sent a couple of pouches to try, you can only imagine my excitement. Nope, this is not a sponsored post. Just me putting the sauce to the test and sharing my discovery with you. If you like what you see/hear, perhaps you'll try it for yourself the next time you spot one on the shelves at Shoprite or other grocery stores around Nigeria.

Obe Sauce is a wonderfully simple but genius idea by the Nigerian food company Easy Sauces Ltd. If you've read my blog for long, you'll know that at the core of most Nigerian savoury dishes is the iconic blend of red pepper, tomatoes and onions (check out my red pepper mix post). It is the base for jollof rice, stewed beans, moin moin, my version of yam pottage, and all kinds of stews. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. 

Regular vs. Hot
What Obe Sauce does is to take the stress out of chopping and blending these ingredients yourself. Perhaps not ideal for the seasoned cook who doesn't mind spending an extra few minutes making everything from scratch, but for those who crave convenience or want to cut their cooking time in half, this is pure perfection.

Vacuum packed to retain freshness, the sauces contain zero preservatives and do not require freezing or refrigeration. They can pretty much sit in the cupboard for months on end and still be good to go. If you think I'm exaggerating, I received these pouches way back in July and only just got round to testing them in the past month. The moment I tore them open, I was hit with that familiar smell of just-blended pepper. If only I could have captured my expression of awe and disbelief on camera... Each pouch contains the right ratio of vine-ripened tomatoes, red bell peppers, onions, hot peppers (ata rodo), water and salt. 

In the short video below, you'll see for yourself how I was able to make my beloved jollof rice in about 15 minutes. Less time cooking and more time chowing. For that alone, Obe Sauce gets a thumbs up from me. Talk less of the satisfyingly familiar taste which confirmed that the mixture was spot on!

Note: One 450g pouch was enough for 2 cups of rice (4 servings).