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Apricot & Almond Cake – Who says you need eggs to bake a cake?

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Now that I’m a fully fledged vegan I wanted to get back into baking some good delicious cakes.   I’m a real sucker for a sponge cake, and although egg’s do tend to make a cake light and fluffy this cake recipe is gonna knock that right out of the ball park in one sitting!

It’s a really moist yet light cake, with just the right amount of dried apricots, almonds and sugar – not too much and definitely not too little.  When people ask me what do I eat, as a Vegan. I can’t help but chuckle – “just what you eat, just without dairy and meat” – and it’s true!

It’s all about experimenting.  That’s the joy of all this, it gets you thinking right out of the box and really getting to know what you put into your body.

So enjoy this one folks, you won’t be disappointed!

Apricot & Almond Cake

You’ll need a 9″ inch cake tin, nicely greased (with soya marge or such like) or lining paper.

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz plain flour
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 5 oz soft dried apricots (chopped)
  • 3 oz ground almonds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz soya margarine
  • 2 tbs golden syrup
  • 150 ml soya milk

    Topped with flaked almonds to really drive the almond flavor home!

    Firstly, preheat your oven to 190 degrees.  Then combine the first 6 ingredients together in a fairly good sized bowl.  The melt your margarine, golden syrup and vanilla extra in a separate pan.  Mix the margarine liquid in with the main ingredients and make sure they are all combined.  Spoon the mixture into your pan and pop into the oven for about 30 minutes (I have a fan assisted oven so it normally takes this time, but if you need longer make sure you keep an eye on it. If your cake is browning on top quicker than cooking inside, cover with foil to ensure it cooks evenly).

And voila your cake is done!  Honestly, its absolutely gorgeous. I had a piece a few minutes later, just couldn’t resist – but it’s even nicer the next time – well that’s how long it lasted anyway!!

Paula x

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Why The Real Junk Food Vegan? Warning: this is a long story!

So, I’ve decided to finally come clean on why I decided to start a blog call The Real Junk Food Vegan and why now.

The day I decided to go ‘Veggie’

It was just after my 15th birthday my twin sister and I both decided that we’d stop eating meat; actually it may not have been quite so clean cut as that but I am sure it happened about the same time.   Now, for many people deciding to stop eating meat is a very important time in one’s life; it can be a defining moment and the reasoning behind it a very passionate one.  However, personally it wasn’t like that at all.

I can’t actually remember why, it certainly wasn’t anything to do with the cruelty involved, the barbaric torture some animals can endure I;m sad to say.  No in actual fact it was because I just wanted to and if you’ve ever met me,well you know I don’t normally do things by halves.

Back in the 1990’s being a vegetarian wasn’t as widely known as it is today, perhaps that’s to do with social media, the celebrities that love to tell the world that they are one or the numerous animal welfare charities these days.   I do however; remember BROS highlighting Lynx fur and the unnecessary breeding and killing of them; so it could have been that!  Or I distinctly remember being fed the chewiest meat, taking too big a bite sat at the dinner table desperately trying to swallow it even when the taste had long gone – never a nice way to digest your food – when you’ve chewed the hell out of it and try to swallow it whole.  

Anyway whatever it was, I just remember telling mum that I’d no longer be eating meat and that was that.

Luckily for me and although I’d grown up with meat being the staple food on my dinner plate; my mum was supportive of us.  To her credit she’d always fed us on lots of veg anyway, so taking just one thing off our dinner plate was no big thing at the end of the day!  We’d sit at the dinner table most evenings with a plate of veg, or a quiche or even a Linda McCartney pie if the pennies would stretch that far.  It was a straight forward transition from meat eater to vegetarian, no questions asked.

Yes I did slip ‘off the wagon’

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I guess when there is no real reasoning behind something, no real justification or heart wrenching emotion behind the decision, slipping off the meat ‘wagon’ was bound to happen from time to time.  I’m not averse to admitting that I’d sometimes nick a bit of chicken from someone else’s plate when it was my time to clear the dishes away, just for ‘old time’s sake’.  Yet it never really made much difference to me, there would never be any real guilt because what was I to feel guilty for?  It was just decision I’d made when I was 15, nuff said.

So 9 years I continued to not eat meat, and the majority of that time I stuck to it like glue.  That is until I met a chef, he offered me a Kentucky Fried Chicken (yeah I know – what the? right?) and the rest they say is history.  I have to be honest though, fast food has never appealed to me and certainly not Kentucky Fried Chicken, I think I’ve eaten it twice in my entire life – so I guess once I popped I just couldn’t stop.

The next 10 or so years I did eat meat, never a lot mind you, but I did and it was just what I did at the time.  Looking back now, those where the years I didn’t really know much about who I was, what I stood for and my values……..well I didn’t really have any.  I went through a pretty turbulent time from my early 30’s until about 2/3 years ago.

And then…….Then The Real Junk Food Project happened!

If you’ve been following the progress of The Real Junk Food Project, you’d know it’s a project aiming to abolish food waste within the next 10 years.  Starting back in 2013, Adam Smith wanted to turn the whole food waste thing on its head and decided that doing what others did wasn’t going to do it for him anymore.

He was, or rather IS, a man after my own heart.  He’s not a follower of crowds and certainly doesn’t conform; and neither do I!   So in March 2015 I started The Real Junk Food Project Portsmouth, intercepting waste food in my local area and feeding it to bellies rather than to bins!  It wasn’t a scary thing to do, in fact it felt like the right thing to do plus I was going through a pretty difficult time financially so it felt like the ONLY thing I could do with what little I had.

You see, its right when people say ‘you only understand what it’s like to be poor, when you’ve been poor yourself’ and that is too true.   Although what we do at The Real Junk Food Project Portsmouth isn’t about feeding the poor, it’s about three things in my eyes.  It’s about educating people about food waste, that the food labelled by these big corporate companies isn’t really about your health but more about how they can get you to keep buying more and more.   It’s about looking at what you eat, why you eat it and where it comes from.  It’s also about creating a place for anyone to come to with no rules, no judgments and doing it on a regular basis.  It’s also about caring for the planet and sticking two fingers up to the system and doing what we want, when we want to.

The hardest times are our biggest lessons

You see, whilst doing all this I was going through the mill myself. I didn’t have food in my cupboards and yet I wanted to feed others.  I’m no Mother Theresa, but it’s when you have nothing that you finally understand what it is to be grateful for what you have – and that’s how I felt.  Doing this project has not only given so much gratitude for what I have, it’s had a profound effect on how I eat and how I cook.  You see, before I started this project I never cooked for myself. I think my only real ‘signature dish’ was Shepherd’s Pie!   Yet, having little food meant that I had to experiment and make good food out of what I already had.   Plus, I went back to being a Vegetarian.  Again, not through any real sense of injustice but because meat just didn’t figure in the whole food waste thing for me.   You see, I started to appreciate the odd carrot, the apple and even the rotten banana – like I’d never ever done before.  Meat for me just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

So what’s the Vegan bit all about then?

Ha! I knew you’d ask that!   The funny thing is becoming Vegan has meant a lot more to me than becoming veggie.  You see, through the project I’ve met a diverse set of people.  From ethically minded people, passionate people, vegetarians, meat eaters, vegans, parents, the lonely, homeless and ‘ordinary’ folk.  Yet, we all share one common thing we all want to eat and eat good nutritious food (I am going somewhere with this, so please bear with me!)  – Whether they know it or not!

Yes, becoming Vegan this time around, has a lot to do with animal suffering, the cruel way animals are used as commodities rather than seen as the beautiful creatures they are.  But through the project, I’ve developed a heightened sense of compassion, a kindred spirit with fellow human beings and most of all I feel huge amounts of responsibility for my role in this world, whilst I am here.   You see, being a Vegan (for me) is about standing up not only for animals, for the planet but also for all living things.

It’s not about the ‘them and us’ thing, perhaps some vegans do feel like that, I don’t know (just guessing here). But it’s about making sure that if I am going to live this life, and see a big change in the world – then I’ve got to be that change too (yeah that’s not my quote by the way!).  So it means doing, saying and being the person I really am and doing so straight from the heart.   Yeah,  I may be a stubborn, selfish prat sometimes (which I fully acknowledge), but it’s having a moral obligation to the rest of the world that really matters.  Putting aside what I ‘think’ I want, and finally standing up and doing what I am here to do cos ‘this ship aint gonna turn around’ on its own is it?

So The Real Junk Food Vegan is about making a stand.  It’s about making a difference and it’s about living in a way that creates goodness, that no longer accepts ‘the way it is’ and doing it the kindest most loving way.   If we can stop cruelty not only to animals but also to the planet, they why wouldn’t we at least try?

Are you with me?

p.s if you’ve gotten this far thank you for reading…..if not I’ll see you on my next blog post – probably the one where I’m cooking up a nice vegan cake! 😉

Pxx

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French Toast with a Banana & Cinnamon twist!

Call me a ‘French Toast Virgin’ but I’ve never had the stuff, not even in my carnivore days (I’ll explain that one to you some day).

So why now?

As per usual we’d had a stack load of banana’s from our latest, Real Junk Food Portsmouth collection/interception at The Fruit Basket in Stubbington (a little village not far from me).   Most week’s we get shed loads, and Banana Bread (albeit scrummy) does get a bit boring after the third slice or two…..

So, in my limited capacity as a new vegan; I wanted to use up the banana’s in my breakfast rather than in ‘just another cake’.  So I Googled it, saw a few idea’s and rather than copy completely I took a snippets of ideas from a great blog by the name of Fettle Vegan – just on this very theme!

So here it is – looks good right?

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If so check the recipe below – and let me know what you think – or if you’ve made any additions or changes!

French Toast with a Banana & Cinnamon Twist!

Ingredients (you’ll deffo need)

3 ripe banana’s (very ripe in my case – they taste better that way)
177 ml of soya milk (or any vegan milk – I reckon almond would be even better!)
1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence
4-6 slices of vegan bread

Additions:

A squeeze of lemon juice
A sprinkle of chopped almonds (flakes I used)
A drizzle of maple syrup (yep used that again!)

What you’ll need to do:

Mash the banana’s (peeling them first of course!), pour in the soya milk and the vanilla essence and mix all together.  Then dip and cover both sides of the bread, whilst you grease up a non-stick pan or griddle heating it gently.   Once dipped and fully covered place on the pan and let it cook each side for about 5 minutes, until the edges stop bubbling and both sides are golden brown.  It’s up to you how much you cook, I left mine a little bit soggy (truth be told) as I quite like the bread and butter feel to the dish – but if you like it crispy then go for it!

Once done on both sides, drizzle with the flaked almond and the maple syrup!

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did – I’m off to make a little batch now – it’s 8.30pm and I’m feeling it again after writing this!

Px

 

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Tinned Peach & Chickpea Curry (you know you have them in your cupboard!)

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Now if you’re about my age (40) you would have probably grown up with always have ‘afters’ after your dinner every night – right?

Without fail my lovely mum would whip up either a delicious rice pudding, semolina, instant whip of some kind (butterscotch was my favorite) or the one that she never failed us on was tinned fruit (usually peaches) with cream.

These days, since we started intercepting food via The Real Junk Food Project Portsmouth and using it at our ‘Waste Not Want Not Cafe’ night, we are inundated with TINNED PEACHES!

Most are out of date, but many in date – which kind of raises the question: “are kids missing out on ‘afters’ these days?’  Perhaps they are, or perhaps they aren’t – who knows – yet I wanted to find something that would put these wonderful fruits into fruition (pardon the pun!) together with a few chickpeas and other essentials!

So here it is!

Tinned Peaches & Chickpea Curry

This recipe was taken from a brilliant book by Jack Monroe.  Whilst not a Vegan book, she includes lots of recipes you can use to a Vegan advantage – of which I’ve done so here!

Serves 2 (and some!)

1 Tin of chickpeas (250g drained weight)
1 Onion
1 Clove of garlic
1 (or 2) shakes of chili flakes or 1 chili (whichever you prefer)
Bit of oil
1 shake (or 2) of cumin
1 shake of curry powder
1 Tin of peaches (halves or quarters)
a handful of sultanas
1 Tin of chopped tomato’s (or plum but chopped up)
A handful of fresh coriander (or a shake or two of the dried stuff)
1 Veg stock cube (I used gluten free, vegan, vegetarian)

What to do:

Start off by draining the chickpeas and then popping them into a pan and bring to the boil – just to get rid of any toxins (esp if they are ‘out of date’ which I have used)

Whilst that’s happening peel, chopped the onion and garlic.  Put oil in the saucepan and sling in the onion, garlic and a couple of shakes of chili flakes (or the chopped chili).   Then add the cumin and cook it all gently (not frying) so the flavors can latch hold of the onion and really infuse it.

Drain your peaches (keeping hold of the juice in a jug) and chop up into bite size pieces.  sling them in with the juice you’ve retained.  Your chickpeas should have boiled now, so take off the heat and leave to one side.

Pour over the chopped tomato’s together with the coriander crumble in your stock cube.  Then reduce the heat and leave on a low setting for about 20 -30 minutes so it all blends in together (stiring occasionally).  Whilst this is happening you can cook the rice (I just used boiled white rice), but you can also use mash potato or pasta if you fancy it that way too – or on it’s own.

Once it’s all done, nicely thickened up, add the chickpeas to your curry sauce and then serve!

Let me know what you think – remember you can add any variations of fruit too if you so wish – let me know what you’ve tried!

P x

p.s here’s Jack’s book – I’ll be referring to this little gem lots!

 

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5 Minute Banana Ice-Cream!

All you need are some frozen pieces of these….

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One of these…..

 

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And voila you’ll end up with Banana Ice-Cream!

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OK my photography skills aren’t the best but if you are looking for an instant hit either for you, your kids or for friends/family then this is the one to serve up!

And it’s perfect if you’ve got a few banana’s going black in the fruit bowl. So no longer throw them out, use them for this quick and easy pudding.

Banana Ice-Cream!

Blended banana’s are a perfect Vegan alternative to dairy ice-cream. Why? Because banana’s have a natural sugar and less water, they provide the perfect consistency for this kind of desert – once blended of course!

So how do you make it?

Simple!

You’ll need 3 very ripe banana’s (the more ripe they are the more tasty they become). Chop them up into 1 inch pieces.  Then place them into a sealed freezer safe container and leave them to freeze overnight.   One frozen, take them out and let them stand for a few minutes just so they soften a little (well that’s what I had to do due to my blender not quite taken the force of completely solid banana’s). Place them into the blender and then whiz away!  You’ll have to keep pushing the banana back down the sides of the blender, but after about 5 mins or so you’ll have a nice ice-cream looking dessert! (just so you know I served mine up a little bit lumpy, but you can blitz away til your hearts content!)

Pop them into a bowl and eat!

You could also add some little extra’s to the bowl if you so wish. Like raisins, coconut, apricots or some sprinkles. Treat it just like you are having dairy ice-cream, but you’re being a bit more thoughtful about the environment and compassionate about animals…….

Enjoy!

Paula x

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Tomato Rice (without the furry bits)

Do you have slightly furry Tomato’s back of the fridge?

I normally do.  I don’t know what it is about them, but I just can’t seem to use them up.  I can eat and use chopped tomato’s till they are coming out of my ears but those very ripe, juicy tomato’s, well that’s something a little bit harder to cope with.

Well, that’s a thing of the past.  Since deciding to finally go vegan, and the fact that our ‘waste food’ collections from our local Fruit Basket always (well nearly always) we has the odd tomato or two lolloping about.  And if you know anything about what I do at The Real Junk Food Project Portsmouth, cutting off the odd furry bit on a Tomato isn’t something to be afraid of!  So there I was, slicing off the furry bits, I finally decided it was time to find something good and proper to use them in.  As with most of the food I cook, I like it simple, quick, cheap (well it’s waste so it’s gonna be cheap!) and easy.

Being a new vegan, I am finding rice a great thing to utilize with most of my cooking – plus it’s a good , quick, easy and filling ingredient!    This dish is a Tomato Rice recipe, I’ve tried it a couple of times and both time’s I’ve polished both portions down in the same night!   With a few simple ingredients that you’ll no doubt have in your pantry (or cupboards as I don’t think many people have pantry’s anymore!) you’ll crave this one again and again.

So here it is!

Tomato Rice (after the furry bits have been cut off!)

Make’s enough for two portions:

1 Tablespoon of Oil
2 Pinches of Salt
Cooked Rice ( 4 handfuls of the stuff)
Tomato’s (about 4/5)
1 Pepper (if you have one)
1 Onion
1 Shake of Ground Ginger
2 Cloves of Garlic
Bunch of Coriander Leaves (fresh) or 2 shakes of Dried Coriander
1 and a half Shakes of Turmeric
1 Shake of Chili Powder
1 Shake of Cinnamon

In a hot pan add the oil. Add the cinnamon and then the onion. Let them all come together so the flavors bind together to give a good intoxicating flavor, allow it all to fry.

Now add the gorgeous tomato’s (cutting them up in quarters) and allow them to fry really well.  Add the turmeric and salt.  Now add the chili powder, add as much as you wish (don’t always listen to me) as you know best how hot or spicy you like it!

Now that’s all added, fry it all up together until it all becomes a mushy consistency – it will take 5-10 minutes depending how firm your tomato’s are.   Once they start to look like a chutney, or thereabouts, add the handful of coriander leaves, or 2 shakes of dried coriander.   Mix it all up and once it’s all mashed up together (looking a bit like an orange mash potato) then add the cooked rice (about 4 handfuls of the stuff) turn off the heat and mix it all together.

Once it’s all mixed together and heated through serve with a garnish or two of the coriander.  Or failing that it’s even better served the next day.  You can eat it cold for lunch, or keep it in the fridge overnight and re-heat in the microwave (remembering to ensure you heat it as hot as you can).

I normally serve it with a nice bit of soya buttered bread (Soya and Linseed is my favorite if I can get my hands on it!)

Let me know what you think!

Enjoy!

P x

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