Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Vegan Holiday Gift Guide 2020 | 10 Unique, Ethical and Sustainable Gift Ideas

It’s that time of the year again and I’ve curated a downright awesome Christmas gift guide to inspire you this festive season. If you’re looking to support vegan-friendly independent businesses and ethical companies, then this guide has your name written all over it. From tree planting, to online cooking course vouchers, to superfood skincare, there’s a lot that your foodie / vegan friends and loved ones will appreciate. Happy shopping!


1. Treedom 

A tree is the greatest gift you could give, with far-reaching benefits for our planet and the lives of smallholder farmers. Treedom is a tree-planting company that allows you to plant a tree and gift it to your loved ones. No shipping costs or wrapping paper needed (making it a fab last minute gift idea!) With this gift, you get to support agroforestry projects around the world, restore local ecosystems and provide additional income opportunities for smallholder farmers. It’s easy to gift a tree via email, text or direct message. As far as sustainable presents go, this ticks all the boxes! Gift a tree and use promo code TOMI20 to get 20% off! 

@treedom_trees


2. Zesttt For Life Jewellery 

Handmade real fruit jewellery founded by Abi. Made in London and available internationally. These fruit earrings are fun, unique, beautiful and great conversation starters. The fruit is dehydrated for a few days then coated in resin to preserve its natural state. Gift the Real Orange Earrings

@zestttforlife


3. Online Cooking Course - Traditional Nigerian Snacks

I’m very excited to include my newest online course in this guide because I truly believe that it makes for a unique virtual gift. Your vegan or foodie loved ones will love learning how to recreate a delicious selection of popular Nigerian snacks from scratch. A great way to learn a bit more about our rich food culture. They’ll have lifetime access to the recipes and can work through it at their own pace. Gift the online snack course

@vegannigerian

4. Live Lively: 80 Plant-Based Recipes by Haile Thomas

This vibrant cookbook combines nutrition-packed vegan recipes with advice and insights on improving your mental and emotional wellbeing. A beautiful and uplifting vegan cookbook that leaves you feeling empowered. Gift Haile’s cookbook

@hailethomas

5. Dapaah Chocolate

Luxury, hand-crafted dairy-free chocolate made with coconut milk and cocoa from Ghana. Dapaah Chocolate was founded by Raphael Dapaah in 2016 after returning from a tour of his maternal grandmother’s cocoa plantation in the western region of Ghana. Their long term goal is to build a sustainable chocolate factory in Ghana, in order to create new jobs, opportunities, and better wages for local cocoa farming communities. Gift the Mmiensa Collection featuring the dark, mylk and white chocolate bars. 

@dapaahchocolates

6. The Glowcery 

100% natural, vegan and cruelty-free skincare made from fresh, nutrient-dense superfood ingredients. Founded by Roshanne in March 2020, the brand aims to create products that protect, nourish and soothe your skin. What’s more, the entire packaging is eco-friendly and recyclable. Gift the Mini Skinfood Basket which contains x1 Clean Greens Superfood Serum, x1 Coconut Crumble Superfood Lip Scrub and x1 Sweet Orange Superfood Lip Balm. 

@theglowceryshop

7. Oré Mi Candles

Oré mi means ‘My friend’ in Yoruba. The independent candle company was founded in 2019 by Karen Olla and Stephen Turner, with the aim of spreading awareness around mental health and how candles can promote wellbeing and calmness. All the candles are made from soya wax, making them vegan-friendly, and they come in a range of signature scents inspired by Karen’s Nigerian heritage. Gift the Coconut & Lime 150g Candle

@orimicandles

8. Vegan Sweet Treats Selection

Lovingly hand-made treats that are vegan and gluten-free. Made by Sonya who promotes healthy eating habits through her platform Sonya’s Healthy Kitchen. Choose between a taste bag with 10 items (perfect stocking filler), a small box or a medium box. The recipient will get a selection of mini Christmas-themed goodies such as marzipan sweets, truffles, fudge, waffles, doughnuts, cookies and cakes. Gift these sweet treats

@sonyashealthykitchen

9. Bespoke Binny 

African print homeware founded by Natalie who has combined her love of sewing with vibrant African prints inspired by her West African heritage. The colourful aprons, oven mitts and oven gloves will put a smile on any passionate home cook’s face. On her platform, you’ll also find a range of tableware, pillows, cushions, lampshades, notebooks and more! Gift an apron or oven glove

@bespokebinny

10. The Essential Vegan Toolkit by Sara Botero

Sara is an activist and illustrator. In her gorgeously illustrated and comprehensive vegan guide, she details the many reasons to make the switch to veganism, offering tons of practical advice on nutrition, clothing, travelling and other lifestyle choices. The perfect gift for anyone who’s considering going vegan and in need of some inspiration and guidance. Gift Sara’s book.

@qitiji

This post contains some sponsored content and affiliate links. They are all companies and individuals I'm proud to share with you.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

5 Popular Nigerian Snacks You Need to Try | VEGAN

First with the exciting news that I created my very first online course! When I tell you that I've been toying with the idea of creating a course for eons, it's no joke. A mixture of procrastination and not fully knowing where to start (kinda...not really...I mean, everything is a Google search away, right?), I finally put my head down and set myself this exciting project, especially with the latest lockdown and having more time on my hands. 

The course features 5 Nigerian snack recipes that are all mouthwateringly delicious. Every single Nigerian (and those from neighbouring West African countries) will be totally familiar with them. In which case, the course is a great refresher and a chance for you to learn how to make these popular snacks at home from scratch, if you don't already know how. For non-Nigerians, the course is perfect for getting acquainted with our snack culture and dipping your toes into the wonderful world of Nigerian cuisine.

The great thing about the course, which I've chosen to host on Udemy, is that you can buy it for yourself OR as a gift for your loved ones. With the holidays just around the corner, it makes for a unique virtual Christmas gift for the foodies in your life. Beyond that, it's an excellent birthday gift for any season!

If you would like to explore or buy a spot on the course, you can do so by clicking HERE.

Now let's get on to listing the top five Nigerian snacks that YOU need to try. If these photos whet your appetite and make you drool even the tiniest bit, then you can take that as a sign that this course is for you ;)

1. Akara

Fried fritters made from brown beans or black-eyed beans. Variations can be found across West Africa and parts of Brazil (due to the slave trade) where it is known as acarajé. Akara is popular amongst the Yoruba tribe, eaten not only as a snack but as a breakfast served alongside ogi or eko. In the northern parts of Nigeria, it is known as kosai.


2. Chin Chin

A crunchy fried biscuit made from a lightly spiced dough that is cut into tiny squares or short batons. The vegan version in this booklet excludes the eggs, butter and milk that you would normally expect in the traditional recipe. The baked version also deviates from the deep-fried cooking method that is normally used.


3. Kuli-Kuli

A crunchy spiced peanut snack that is popular across West Africa. It is made by grinding roasted peanuts into a paste, mixing it with spices and stripping the excess oil from the paste. Stripping the oil guarantees that the kuli-kuli holds its shape and does not disintegrate when fried. It is excellent eaten alone but is often paired with soaked garri (cassava flakes and sugar soaked in cold water). Kuli-kuli can be ground and used for making suya spice which you can use to season grilled or roasted vegetables. 


4. Puff Puff

A fried doughnut that is made with a yeasted batter. The sweet, fluffy morsels can be made plain or seasoned with warm spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.


5. Yamarita

Also known as dun dun oniyeri among the Yoruba, this is a fried yam snack that is traditionally coated in an egg mixture. In this vegan version, non-dairy milk is used to create the spicy batter that will coat the yam pieces. The yam is often boiled first, guaranteeing a soft and fluffy interior to complement the crispy exterior.


I hope you enjoyed finding out a bit more about these snacks and that they make their way onto your dinner table soon! When you've completed the course, I'd love to hear your feedback so be sure to leave a review!

Monday, 23 November 2020

Ginger Nut Biscuit Cake | Vegan Ginger Cake Recipe

ginger nut biscuit cake

To celebrate my sister's birthday over the weekend, I baked the ultimate ginger nut biscuit cake, incorporating her favourite biscuit - ginger nuts - with two layers of scrumptious fluffy ginger sponge cake. I meaaannn... If you're a ginger nut biscuit fan then this recipe is made just for you.

Ginger Nuts is a brand of biscuits by McVitie's which happen to be accidentally vegan. The biscuits are essentially what most people know as ginger snaps, with a fiery ginger flavour and a hard, crunchy texture. You can get it here for 90p.

The recipe below makes a two-layer cake that's big enough to serve about 8-10 people. It is baked in such a way that you get the illusion of multiple layers (8 in total!) and I will show you exactly how to achieve this.

As always, if you make this recipe, please share it with me on Instagram for a repost! :)

vegan nigerian ginger nut cake

A Few Notes

- If you do not have access to this particular brand of ginger biscuits, by all means use an alternative brand.

- Unlike my basic vanilla sponge cake recipe, I have used the creaming method (vegan margarine whipped with sugar, as opposed to using vegetable oil) for this cake as I find that it provides a much sturdier cake that's easier to ice and decorate.

- I recommend using an electric hand whisk for several of the steps in this recipe. Click here to see the brand I use. If you don't have access to an electric whisk, use a manual whisk or wooden spoon and be prepared for a good arm workout :)

- If you struggle to find self-raising flour, you can use a blend of all-purpose flour and baking powder. For 4 cups of all-purpose flour, you will need to add about 4 teaspoons of baking powder.

- Non-dairy milk such as almond, soya and cashew add moisture to the cake that you would normally get from eggs.

- Resist the urge to open the oven midway through baking the cake. Doing so will affect the temperature of the oven and may cause your cakes to sink in the middle. Only check after the 20-25 minute mark.

If you like this recipe, you'll also enjoy these other cake recipes:

- Tie-Dye Rainbow Cake

- Exploding Popcorn Cake

- Orange Cake

- Basic Vanilla Sponge Cake

- Sugar-Free Cake

vegan nigerian ginger nut cake

Ingredients

For the cake

- 1 packet Ginger Nut biscuits (250g)

- 8 tablespoons vegan margarine

- 1.5 cups caster sugar

- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

- 4 cups self-raising flour

- 1 tablespoon ginger powder

- 1 cup non-dairy milk (e.g. almond, soya - I used cashew milk)

For the buttercream icing

- 3 heap tablespoons vegan margarine

- 2 cups icing sugar

- 1 cup non-dairy milk


Method

Cakes

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line the base of two 20cm (8") sandwich cake tins with parchment paper and grease the sides with a small dab of vegan margarine.

2. Place the ginger nut biscuits in a food processor and blend until you have fine crumbs. Alternatively, you can place the biscuits in a freezer bag, seal, lay flat on a kitchen counter and gently hit with  a rolling pin to crush the biscuits. Place the crumbs in a bowl and set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the vegan margarine, caster sugar and vanilla extract together until soft and fluffy. I used an electric hand whisk but you can use a wooden spoon to mix thoroughly.

4. Add the self-raising flour, ginger powder and non-dairy milk to the bowl of margarine and sugar. Work quickly to mix the ingredients together until well combined and it forms a thick cake batter.

5. Take the first cake tin and add 1/4 of the cake batter, use a spatula or spoon to spread it out evenly. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the ginger nut crumbs over the top then add another 1/4 of the cake batter. Gently use a spatula or spoon to spread the batter evenly until it reaches the edges of the tin. Adding this layer of ginger nut crumbs in between is what gives the cake the illusion of having multiple layers.

6. Repeat step 5 for the second cake tin.

7. Bake the cakes for 25 minutes until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in their tins for 20 minutes then transfer the cakes out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely. 

Icing

1. Place the vegan margarine and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon to gently beat the mixture until well combined. Then use an electric hand whisk to continue beating until light and fluffy. (If you start off using the electric whisk, you'll likely get a shower of icing all over your face and kitchen counter! So best to start with a wooden spoon)

2. Stir in the remaining ginger nut biscuit crumbs, reserving about 1/4 cup for decoration later. You will see that the icing will thicken drastically. Start to add the non-dairy milk, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, continuing to mix as you do so, in order to loosen the icing and make it creamier. You likely won't need the full 1 cup of milk to achieve this, so you do need to judge by sight. (See my carousel post on Instagram to get an idea of what the buttercream consistency should look like)

vegan ginger cake

Assembly

1. Place the first layer of cake on a cake stand. Spread half the buttercream icing over the top, using an offset spatula to spread it out evenly.

2. Place the second layer on top and spread the rest of the icing over the top, using an offset spatula to spread it out evenly.

3. Decorate the top as you please. I used the remaining ginger nut crumbs to form a ring around the edge on top of the cake, then I broke up some ginger nut biscuits and arranged them in the centre, with some decorative flowers studded in as well. Feel free to be as creative as you want!

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Vegan Cameroonian Okra Soup

vegan okra soup

Hey folks, hope you're having a wonderful weekend.  I'm very excited to share this guest post with you, written by the lovely Ngwafu of Gwafu Vegan. Cameroon and Nigeria are neighbouring countries and so it's no surprise that there are a lot of similarities between our cuisines. I was intrigued to note the slight differences in the preparation of this okra soup, as compared to the Nigerian version. Enjoy this post and be sure to show Ngwafu some love over on her Instagram page.

________

Hello! My name is Ngwafu, I’m a vegan Chef based in Manchester. I’ve been vegan now for over 5 years and haven’t looked back. I was born in Cameroon but immigrated to the UK at the age of 5 and have lived over here ever since. My passion for food started with my mother. I didn’t grow up vegan but the bases of Cameroonian food are around fruit and vegetables, and meat is something we ate once or twice a week. I would always want to go food shopping with her and help in the kitchen to learn from her. 

I started to take my eating habits seriously at University, where I learnt that the vegan diet was the most sustainable in the world. I wanted to do what I could to help save the planet and make it a better place for future generations. Shortly after this monumental change, I started an Instagram account to document my vegan journey. I wanted to show other people - especially those in black community - that going vegan and cooking vegan meals isn’t as hard as it looks and doesn’t compromise on taste. 

gwafu vegan

A few years later, with my drive and enthusiasm to spread the joy for vegan food still alive, I started my very own business and launched a website where I share my favourite vegan recipes. I also deliver tasty West African vegan food in and around Manchester, via Get Vegan Grub.

I recently developed this recipe: Okra soup! A delicious Cameroonian dish. Traditionally made with fish. However I’ve substituting it for vegan fish sauce (can use soy sauce if you don’t have vegan fish sauce) and seaweed, ensuring you don’t miss out and still packs a punch of flavour!


Serves 4

Vegan

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


Ingredients

Stage 1

 One medium onion – finely chopped

 2 tbsp rapeseed oil

Stage 2

 1 tbsp smoked paprika

 3 garlic cloves – finely chopped

 1 tbsp chilli flakes

Stage 3

 500ml lukewarm water

 1 tablespoon/1 cube vegetable stock

Stage 4

 2 tbsp vegan fish sauce

 2 tbsp dried seaweed – finely chopped

 1 Maggie cube (optional)

 80g Egusi

 250g Okra - fresh or frozen (ensure to defrost fully if frozen)

Stage 5

 100g fresh spinach

Stage 6 – to serve with -optional

 122g garri - dry

 240ml warm water

 120ml warm water – to add at the end


Prep work:

1. Mix stage 3 together, ensure the vegetable stock is thoroughly mixed in.

2. Cut off the tops & tails of the okra and finely chop. Chop into bigger pieces if you

don’t want your okra soup to be too thick.

3. In a blender, grind the Egusi into a powder.


Method:

1. Add stage 1 (One medium onion – finely chopped, 2 tbsp rapeseed oil) to a pan on medium heat, fry for 2-3 minutes or until translucent.

2. Reduce the heat and add stage 2 (1 tbsp smoked paprika, 3 garlic cloves– finely chopped, 1 tbsp chili flakes) to the pan and cook for a further 2 minutes.

3. Add stage 3 (pre-mixed veg stock in water) and increase the heat to a gentle simmer.

4. Add stage 4 (2 tbsp vegan fish sauce, 2 tbsp dried seaweed – finely chopped, 80g Egusi, 250g Okra, optional: 1 Maggie cube) and cook for 10-15 minutes, still gently simmering. Ensure to stir the soup every 5 minutes.

5. Next add stage 5 (100g spinach) to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, then turn off the heat, cover the pan and leave to finish cooking for 2-3 minutes before serving.

6. This dish is best served with garri. In a small bowl, mix together 122g of garri with 240g warm water (step 6). Place in the microwave for 1 minute 30 secs, remove and add the remaining 120ml warm water and mix well. Place back in the microwave for 1 minute. Mix well and serve hot with the Okra soup.


Go and check out the rest of my recipes! I post new recipes every month, giving a brief history of the dish, as well as adding my own personality to it. Click here.


CALLING ALL MANCUNIANS! Order today: vegan West African meals, cooked by me and delivered straight to your door. Click here to pre-order now.

Monday, 2 November 2020

5 Bonnes Raisons d’Arrêter de Manger de la Viande

Brushing up on my French and sharing five reasons to stop eating meat. Share with your French-speaking friends and family :)

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En consommant des animaux, nous les condamnons à une vie de misère et à une mort terrible. Aujourd'hui, il est scientifiquement établi que manger des produits animaux n'est pas une nécessité pour vivre en bonne santé. Végétaliser notre alimentation sauve des animaux, agit en plus efficacement contre le changement climatique et réduit la pollution.

Voici cinq bonnes raisons d'arrêter de manger de la viande.

1. L'élevage est responsable de 14,5% des émissions de gaz à effet de serre (GES) dans le monde, soit plus que l'ensemble des transports réunis. 

2. Les animaux sont êtres sensibles. Ils peuvent souffrir ou éprouver de la joie, et ils devraient pouvoir vivre leur vie comme ils le désirent.

3. La plupart des animaux en élevage sont enfermés par milliers dans d'immenses hangars. En séparant les animaux de force, en les entassant ou en les isolant dans des cages, ces élevages privent les animaux de liens affectifs et les exposent à des souffrances psychiques et physiques. Des activités essentielles comme courir et jouer sont tout simplement impossibles dans l'immense majorité des exploitations.

4. Dès leur naissance, la plupart des animaux sont brutalisés. Les mutilations douloureuses sont la norme en élevage conventionnel et même en élevage bio.

5. Des alimentations végétaliennes sont saines, adéquates sur le plan nutritionnel et peuvent présenter des avantages dans la prévention et la traitement de certaines maladies. Les alternatives à la viande, aux produits laitiers et aux oeufs sont de plus en plus nombreuses et facilement accessible.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Vegan Egusi Recipe | How to Make Nigerian Egusi Soup


Whether you're eating it with pounded yam (classic!) or with rice, there's no denying the sheer deliciousness of egusi. It's efo riro's blinged out cousin with more texture, more nutrition and arguably more flavour.

Egusi seeds are often sold whole or ground. I usually like to buy it whole and grind it myself, but if you want to save on time then go ahead and buy it ground. The seeds are derived from a gourd plant that is indigenous to West Africa. Other countries that grow and use egusi include Ghana (where it is called agushi), Benin, Ivory Coast, Mali, Togo, Cameroon and Burkina Faso. It is made up of about 70% fat and 30% protein, and is packed with tons of nutrients and vitamins such as A, B1, B2, C and E - making it excellent for skin, hair and bone health. 

Notably, egusi soup is the most popular dish amongst the Ijesha people of Osun state (where my family is from!), where it is eaten alongside pounded yam. Egusi is eaten all the way across Nigeria though, amongst not only the Yoruba but Igbo, Hausa, Edo, Itsekiri, Ibibio and Efik people.

The ground seeds are added to soups as a thickening agent. Egusi soup or stew in particular is composed of leafy greens, palm oil, ground egusi and seasonings. The traditional recipe calls for meat to be added, but as this is a vegan version I have of course left this out. For anyone interested in having that meaty texture though, I recommend adding roasted mushrooms or diced aubergine (garden egg/eggplant). 

Now let's get to the recipe! As always, if you do try it, please share your food pics and tag me on Instagram :)


Ingredients
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 red onion
- 2 tbsp palm oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup ground egusi
- 5-6 cups chopped spinach
- Chopped mixed vegetables or mushrooms (optional)


Start by blending the peppers, tomatoes and onion with a little water. Heat some palm oil in a large pot and add the blended mixture. Season with salt and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Stir in the vegetable stock and sprinkle the ground egusi over the top. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. The egusi should cake and form little air pockets.

Add the chopped spinach, give it a good mix and cook uncovered for a further 5 minutes. At this point you can add in some extra chopped vegetables or meat alternatives (such as mushrooms, aubergine etc).

Serve hot with some pounded yam, boiled yam, rice, boiled plantain or fried plantain. All winning combinations!

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Know Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes



Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce enough insulin or the insulin produced is resistant. The long-term health problems that can arise from diabetes include loss of vision, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, and a greater risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. It goes without saying that it is extremely important to get clued up on how to prevent it or reduce the risk of developing complications.

I was very young when I lost a family member to complications from Type 2 diabetes. It left a deep impression on me, but still I assumed that it was something you only had to worry about later in life. I figured that as long as you didn't overdo it on sweets and sugary drinks, you were mostly in the clear. 

While it is true that you are at greater risk of developing the condition as you get older, it has been found that black people are two to four times more likely to develop it even at a younger age. Other risk factors include your family history, your weight and your blood pressure. Of course, some of these risk factors (such as age and ethnicity) cannot be changed, but other factors are most certainly within our control. Taking active steps to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and eating healthy foods can all assist in reducing risk.

When I went vegan in 2013, my interest in health (particularly nutrition) grew exponentially and I began to see the clear links between lifestyle and well-being. In fact, one of the factors that kept me committed to the lifestyle was knowing that it could help me improve my eating habits and therefore help reduce my chances of developing certain health conditions. A healthy plant-based diet is naturally low in saturated fats and higher in antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetable and fibres. A healthy diet is one piece of the puzzle in diabetes prevention, but by no means the only one. If you do find that you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes then you may be eligible to join your free local Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Program.


So at this point you may be wondering where to even begin in finding out your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Thankfully, the NHS has developed a simple and accessible online tool to assess your risk. In a few simple steps, you'll be able to determine whether you are at a low, medium or high risk. All you need is a measuring tape and a few health stats such as your weight and height. To get started, click here to access the online Diabetes UK tool.

diabetes know your risk

You'll see from the screenshot below that the tool is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Once you've input all your information, you'll be shown your results instantly, along with a detailed explanation of your risk category. On the same page, there's an opportunity to explore further and access healthy tips, recipes and diabetes resources.


Once you've figured out your risk, you can also spread the word by email or on social media by sharing across your platforms and encouraging your friends and family to find out their own risk. Have loved ones who are not active on social media? Be sure to pass on this vital message to them by word-of-mouth. Knowing our risk can make all the difference in preventing or delaying Type 2 diabetes.

This campaign is also supported by the Medical Association of Nigerians Across Great Britain, Nigerian Nurses Charity Association UK, Somali Nursing & Midwifery Group, Ghana Nurses Association and the British Islamic Medical Association.






Wednesday, 21 October 2020

The Best Pizza Crust Recipe | Vegan Pizza


I've made my fair share of pizzas over the years, but it wasn't until this attempt that I felt really proud of my attempt. I wanted the crust to come as close to the crust I remember from Domino's Pizza, with that slightly gritty feel from coarse cornmeal and a thick base. Now I'm sure their recipe and method are probably a closely guarded secret, but I'm pretty confident when I say you won't be disappointed with the version I'm about to share with you.

Before we get to the main recipe, I have a few notes on each element.

The crust: you can leave the dough to rise for one hour and still get good results. But if time allows, leave your dough to rise slowly in the fridge for 24-36 hours as this allows the yeast flavour to intensify.

The garlic butter: this is a hack I encountered when researching the Domino's pizza crust. Brushing the warm crust with garlicky melted vegan butter is an indulgent extra step to up the overall taste of the pizza. 

The toppings: this is where you can go wild and create interesting combinations. You may have some veg at home that need using up. Don't hold back. In this pizza, I used some home-grown green peppers, red onions, vegan sausages and vegan cheese. 


Makes:
1 extra large or  2 medium pizzas

Ingredients
For the pizza crust
- 2 cups plain flour or bread flour
- 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup cornmeal

For the topping
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce (from a tin of tomatoes blended until smooth)
- mixed herbs
- salt to taste
- vegan cheese
- vegetables of your choice
- 2 vegan sausages (optional)

For the garlic butter 
- 2 tbsp vegan margarine
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- pinch of salt

Method
- To make the pizza crust, combine all the ingredients except the cornmeal in a large mixing bowl. Use your hand to mix/knead in the bowl until you have a smooth, soft, slightly sticky dough. You may need to add a touch more flour or a touch more water until you achieve the right consistency (different flours absorb moisture differently, which is why quantities can vary slightly). Cover the bowl and leave to rise for at least one hour until the dough has doubled in size. If you can leave it to slow-rise in the fridge for 24-36 hours, even better, as a more intense flavour will develop.

- Preheat your oven to 200C.

- Punch down the risen dough to get rid of excess air bubbles. You may wish to divide the dough into two equal parts if you are making 2 medium pizzas, or you can make one large pizza if you have a large pizza pan or baking tray. Sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal on a clean surface, roll the dough in it and use your hands/fingers to stretch out the pizza dough into a circle. Transfer to a pizza pan or baking tray. 

- Spoon a small quantity of tomato sauce over the top and add your selection of toppings.

- Bake for 12-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

- Brush the crust with a blend of melted vegan butter, garlic powder and salt. Sprinkle a bit more cornflour over the crust.


Friday, 16 October 2020

Vegan Nigerian Fish Stew | Quorn Vegan Fishless Fingers Recipe

 


Making the impossible possible? Something like that!

You've seen me attempt vegan scrambled eggs with yam, and vegan efo riro. I've even successfully conquered vegan peppered 'snails' and egg fried rice. And now, with a little help from Quorn, I reckon I've created a worthy version of Nigerian fish stew. Cue squeals of excitement!

The reason I'm extra thrilled about this recipe is that since going vegan nearly eight years ago, I've wracked my brain as to how to tackle such a dish. Achieving that authentic seafood flavour with the right textured fish substitute to match seemed an unfeasible task.

The traditional recipe (also known as Obe Eja Dindin by the Yorubas) is often made by cooking raw, fried or grilled fish in a tasty blend of peppers and tomatoes. The stew is then served with either a side of boiled rice, yam, potatoes, plantain, and more. My mum has declared several times that it is her favourite type of stew. Let's hope she approves!

One thing I love about our Nigerian soups and stews is that they are often zero-waste. The one pot meals use fresh ingredients that we always have at home. If there are any red peppers or onions that need using up, you can bet that they're making their way into a stew. This recipe is no different, and that's why I'm excited that it gets to be included in Quorn's Zero Waste campaign.

So let's talk the vegan fish element of this dish. I will be using Quorn's Vegan Fishless Fingers. I know what the traditionalists are thinking. I can almost see the eye rolls and hear the mtchewing from a mile away. Please, aunties and uncles, stay with me for a second. Quorn, in my mind, has done the wonderful job of nailing that authentic fish flavour and texture - just vegan! For this recipe, I’ve prepared the fishless fingers differently to create the perfect ingredient for this plant-based fish stew. I’m pretty confident that it’s sure to wow your friends and family.

Let's get into the recipe!

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

- 8 Quorn Vegan Fishless Fingers, defrosted

- 8 tablespoons kombu seaweed flakes (or other seaweed variety)

- 1 400g tin plum tomatoes

- 1 scotch bonnet chilli 

- 1 red bell pepper

- 1 thumb fresh ginger

- 200ml water

- 4 tablespoons sunflower oil

- 1 red onion, thinly sliced

- 1 vegetable stock cube

- salt to taste

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 200C.

2. Split each defrosted fishless finger partway through (don't cut all the way down) and gently fan out to make a flat fillet, breaded side facing down. Sprinkle the top of each fillet with kombu seaweed flakes and gently press down with your fingers. Place each fillet on a baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes until crispy.

3. Place the tomatoes, scotch bonnet chilli, red bell pepper and fresh ginger in a blender or food processor with 200ml of water and blend until very smooth.

4. Heat the sunflower oil in a large cooking pot and sauté 3/4 of the sliced red onions for 2 minutes or until they start to soften. 

5. Add the stew blend to the pot and season with a tablespoon of kombu seaweed, vegetable stock cube and salt to taste. Cover and cook on medium-high heat for 6 minutes.

6. Carefully submerge the crispy fishless fillets in the stew and switch off the heat. Garnish with the rest of the sliced red onions.

7. Serve hot with a side or two of your choice, such as boiled rice and peas.


Note: this is a sponsored post, in partnership with Quorn.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Sweet Potato Steamed Buns | Vegan Bao Buns


Chinese steamed buns. Bao buns. Let's discuss.

Baozi or Bao originates from China but is eaten across the different South Asian countries. It is best described as a yeast-leavened filled bun which is then steamed. The variations in fillings are endless.

The first time my Singaporean friend introduced me to bao, I was instantly entranced. Surely this pillow-soft, fluffy lump of goodness was actual manna from heaven. And then when I visited Singapore and Thailand for the first time, I consumed obscene amounts, each one filled with something different - from red bean paste to purple sweet potato to savoury shredded mushroom. Back at home, the desire to make it from scratch consumed me, but I found the idea of it rather intimidating. I imagined you needed years of practice, a blessing from the Chinese ancestors and the skills of a top pastry chef to pull it off.

I'm still no bun making expert by any means, even after a few attempts, and I have a heck of a long way to go before I can make them to the standard that I know they can be. So this is very much an introductory recipe for anyone who wants to dabble and try their hands at a no-fuss version that still satisfies. 

I had white sweet potatoes at home, but of course you can use orange or purple flesh sweet potatoes (imagine the pop of colour!) You can even use homemade or store-bought red bean paste. How about filling it with mashed plantain as I have actually done in the past? Let me tell you, it was the sort of divine fusion you can only dream of!

These buns are perfect for snacking, but also make for a light breakfast or dessert. This particular recipe is not super sweet - you get the natural sweetness from the sweet potatoes and a touch of sweetness in the buns, that's it - so you can adjust as desired.

For this recipe, you'll need a steamer (bonus points if it's a bamboo steamer). Here's a hack: you can also use a rice cooker to steam by filling with a little water and covering the base with a large sheet of baking paper that come up around the sides.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see your attempt. Take a pic and tag me on Instagram - @vegannigerian for a repost!

If you like this recipe, you'll also like:

Manna, is that you?

Ingredients
(makes 8)

- 2 heap tbsp vegan margarine, melted

- 2 tbsp caster sugar

- 3/4 cup warm dairy-free milk

- 2 tsp instant yeast

- 2 cups plain flour

- pinch of salt

- 2 white flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly diced

Method

Whisk the melted vegan margarine, caster sugar, warm milk and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the plain flour and salt. Mix to form a soft dough and knead until it is smooth and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl. Cover with a damp dish cloth and leave to rise for an hour.


Meanwhile, boil the sweet potatoes in plain water until very soft. Drain and mash to a smooth consistency. Leave to cool. 

Prepare 8 small squares of parchment paper and arrange them on a flat surface such as a tray or your countertop. 

Once the dough has risen, knock the air bubbles out and knead for another couple of minutes. Divide into 8 equal parts.

Take the first piece of dough and flatten it slightly in the palm of your hand. Fill the centre with a tablespoon or two of the mashed sweet potato and pinch all the sides up to enclose the bun. Pinch lightly to seal and gently roll the bun in your hands to smoothen out the seams. Place on a square of parchment paper. Repeat this process for the rest of the buns. 

Place the buns in the steamer, leaving a little room between each one. Cover and allow to stand (without heat) for 15 minutes. The buns will grow a little bigger in this time.

Steam for about 15 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the buns to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Hack: place a tea towel over the steamer before covering with the lid. Do this to catch any evaporation and prevent water from dripping back down onto the buns.

Note: this post contains affiliate links.