Tag Archives: vegetarian

Big Budget Challenge – Weeks III & IV

As it was the half term school holidays last week, which began with a mini break to Sherwood Forest followed by Lil’ L’s 8th birthday, I didn’t get round to posting an update for Laura’s Big Budget Challenge.  Many apologies Laura!  To make up for this, I’ll give a rundown of my ‘money saves’ over the past two weeks vis-a-vis my 5 budget rules

1. Avoid waste. I’m pleased to say that I’ve managed to avoid throwing away any food over the past two weeks 🙂  There was a close call with a bag of spinach that was starting to look sorry for itself, but Laura’s post on Monday inspired me to make a spinach, butternut squash and chickpea curry.  I even roasted the squash seeds (for the first time ever) and we had them with the hemp burger and roasted squash dinner on Monday.  No seeds will ever get thrown away again… they’re so nice lightly roasted! 🙂

2. Shop around for cheapest deals. I’m planning to do another big online grocery shop tomorrow and I’ll definitely be using www.mysupermarket.co.uk again.  It saved me quite a few pounds on my last big grocery shop and I’m intrigued to see what I can save this time round 🙂

3. Make use of home grown foods.  We’ve been eating lots of home-grown apples (still not sick of them 😉 ).  We’ve also had some very generous donations of home-grown produce from friends and family, including these amazing courgettes/zucchinis.

As well as using the zucchini in lots of savoury dishes (roasted veg & pasta; lasagna; fajitas), I made some wicked date and zucchini brownies last week, which I pictured in yesterday’s post.  (I’ll be writing up the recipe and posting it very soon).

All the donated produce has been used up now, so I’ve turned my attention to some rather unusual home-grown produce… dandelion leaves and nettles.  I didn’t intentionally grow these, but as they’re growing so beautifully in my garden, it’ll be fun to see whether I can turn them into something tasty 😉

4. Go foraging! Whilst cycling round Sherwood Forest last week, I couldn’t resist a quick pause to collect sweet chestnuts.   

The cases are so prickly!  I used my feet to squeeze the nuts out of the shells, while M adopted a more hands-on approach.

 

I didn’t have a bag with me, so I crammed as many as I could into the back pocket of my cycling jacket.

You won’t believe how many I actually managed to cram into that pocket!

I absolutely adore roasted chestnuts!  They really remind me of childhood Christmas Eves when my Dad would roast chestnuts, sprinkle them with salt and tip them on a newspaper.  We’d then sit on the living room floor and tuck in!

Today, I decided to use some of the nuts to make a sweet chestnut casserole with herby dumplings.

The dumplings were flavoured with fresh rosemary from the garden.  This is one of the few edible plants that the slugs and snails actually leave alone!  It’s a really easy herb to grow and seems to look after itself.  Our plant has been here the whole time we’ve lived in Bath (11 years now) and it hasn’t need any attention at all. (That’s SO my sort of plant 😉 )

5. Make use of vouchers and deals. We used our Tesco vouchers again on Lil’ L’s birthday, saving us £21 on the entry fee into a sea aquarium.  I’m glad we didn’t pay real money for this trip as the aquarium was awful (in my opinion).  The image of the sea-headed turtle pounding up and down its tiny tank is still haunting me 😦

So that’s my big budget challenge update for weeks III and IV!  Have you had any great money saves in the last month?  If so, I’d love to hear them! 

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WIAW – I’ll bring the hemp burgers

Happy Wednesday everybody!

Yep, it’s Wednesday again, which means it’s time for the lovely Jenn’s virtual WIAW  party where the guests post and share their eats.  If you haven’t visited before, you must check out all the amazing pics!

Okay, so here’s what I ate this Wednesday:

Breakfast

Glass of warm water and a slice of lemon (this week I’ve really been enjoying this gentle start to the day, rather than the big cups of black coffee I had last week.  It’s reassuring to know that I’m no longer dependent on coffee to kickstart my day 😉 ) 

Big bowl of porridge into which I added some blueberry fruit spread, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans and sunflower seeds.  It was lush!  With the porridge, I drank a cup of nettle tea.

Lunch

I had to make a quick lunch before I dashed to school to teach my meditation classes, so I grabbed some Scottish oat cakes, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, black olives and cashew nut butter.  I bought a jar of Meridian cashew nut butter for the first time last week, and I’m LOVING it!  I’ll definitely be buying it again 🙂  

Snacks

After school, I enjoyed a 5-minute sitdown with a cup of coffee and a piece of date and zucchini chocolate brownie (which I made last week).  It was a bit of an experiment but it worked out really well (unlike a lot of my experiments 😉 ) 

I’ve never been a big fan of brownies, but I absolutely love this one.  The taste and texture is lush!  Plus, by using no refined sugar, very little oil, and with the addition of dates, zucchini and whole wheat flour, it’s actually a healthy brownie!  What more could we want eh??  Lil’ L has been taking it to school for his lunchtime snack.  I’ve just asked him what he thinks of the brownie and he said “really, really, really nice” 🙂

 

Dinner

I’m really into hemp seed at the moment, and have been using the Good Hemp milk, oil and shelled seeds as a way of adding omega-3 into our meals.  From what I’ve read, hemp is a ‘super food’ as it’s packed with nutrition.  Here’s a few facts I found out about hemp today:

  • It is a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids.  It also has a high protein content (see image below).
  • The globulin edestin in hemp seed closely resembles that found in human blood plasma and is completely compatible with the human digestive system, making it easily digested, absorbed and utilised. 
  • Hemp seed contains phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol.
  • Hemp seed has a high content of antioxidants (all part of the Vitamin E family).
  • Hemp seed has the perfect ratio of omega-3 to omega-6.

What an amazing amount of goodness packed into a little seed! 

I’ve been using the Good Hemp shelled hemp seed a lot lately, sprinkling it into breakfasts and on dinners.  For those interested, here’s the nutritional blurb found on the back of the pot:

Good Hemp also makes a hemp protein powder, which M has been trialling whilst mountain bike training.  I don’t think that I do enough exercise to warrant using protein powders, so I’ll leave it to him to review that one 😉

So, with my new love of all things hemp, on Monday I decided to create some hemp seed burgers.  I had very little time on Monday evening as we were going out trick ‘n’ treating, but as per usual with me, when I get the creative urge, I have to pursue it 😉  So, within 20 minutes I’d made the burgers, cooked them, served them, and we were out the door!  I made 8 burgers in total, so we had them for dinner tonight too. 

Lil’ L’s verdict on the hemp burger… deeeeelicious!!!  Yay another winner!   The burgers had a great texture and I thought they tasted a bit like the sausage meat that you find in veggie sausage rolls.  To make the burgers, I used tofu, hemp seeds, chopped onion, minced garlic, soy sauce, tomato puree, ground oats and a little stuffing mix.  (If anyone’s interested, I can post the recipe).  As accompaniments, we had sunflower and sesame seed rolls, roasted butternut squash, red pepper and crispy kale. Delish!

Dessert

For dessert tonight, I had some stewed apples with natural yoghurt, cinnamon and pecans, while Lil’ L finished up the banana cinnamon icecream that we made a couple of weeks ago.  It had gone before I had time to take a photograph, so here’s the pic from last time we had it.

 

So, that’s me done!  Time to head over to Jenn’s now and check out the lush foodie photos 😉 

Happy WIAW everyone!

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Breakfast and Elevenses, Dinners, Nutrition

Scrummy Vegan Chocolate Birthday Cake

For the past two birthdays, Lil L has asked whether we can make a home-made vegan chocolate cake as his birthday treat, rather than one of those fancy shop-bought birthday cakes.

Three reasons why I’ve considered this to be great news…

1. It means he actually likes the cakes I make 🙂
2. It’s saved me a small fortune 🙂
3. It means I get to spend some quality time with him in the kitchen 🙂

This year, he got heavily involved in all stages of the cake-making process, including the sieving, the mixing and, of course, the bowl licking. No guessing which bit he enjoyed the most 😉

Last year, he chose to have a plastic Frankenstein stuck in the top of the cake.  This year, we went for something slightly more sophisticated… berry and cherry spread in the middle, raw chocolate fudge frosting on top and 8 candles 🙂

The chocolate and fruity filling flavours went really well together.  For me, the cake also had the perfect consistency (moist, not crumbly, easy to cut).  In summary, this cake was totally delish! And, most importantly, Lil’  L loved it! 🙂

 

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WIAW – What I ate in Nottingham!

Happy Wednesday everybody!  Hope you’re all having a great week 🙂

It’s Lil’ L’s birthday today… he’s 8 already! Where did all that time go?  Scary!

Just  before we head out for his birthday trip, I thought that I’d show what we ate last Sunday for this week’s WIAW event, hosted by the gorgeous Jenn @ Peas & Crayons.  As we were in staying in Sherwood Forest for the weekend, we had totally different eats to my usual WIAW entries.  Apologies in advance for the poor quality of the evening shots.  The photos were taken on my phone (yes, I’ve now worked out how to take photos on the smartypants phone 🙂 ) but the lighting was v. poor in the restaurant.  Anyway, here goes… WIAW on Sunday…

Breakfast
Since we’d forgotten to bring ANY food to our log cabin residence in Sherwood Forest, M nipped to Tesco and bought us each some breakfast treats.  For me, he got some Dorset Cereals Fruits, Nuts and Seeds Muesli, a carton of Innocent Fruit Smoothie, and some Clippers Nettle Tea (he knows me well 😉 ).  This fuelled me up perfectly for our bike ride in Sherwood Forest 🙂

Snacks am
Half way round the Kitchener Trail, we stopped for a snack.  We each had a Nakd bar, which are made of raw fruit and nuts.  They’re pretty expensive, but on offer in Tesco at the moment, so we bought 4 bars.  This time round, I tried the Pecan Pie bar.  It was nice, but Cocoa Orange remains my favourite Nakd flavour 😉 

Lunch
By lunchtime, we were ravenous.  Our all-time favourite lunch when we’re out biking is baked beans on toast.  It fuels us up really quickly and seems to digest quickly (for me anyhow).  Normally when I eat, I have to wait 2 hours before I can exercise otherwise my stomach starts cramping.  However, after beans on toast, I can easily get back on my bike within 15 minutes 🙂

So, after the beans on toast, we got back on the bikes and did the Kitchener Trail all over again 🙂

Snacks pm
Giant pretzels and some dark chocolate 🙂

Dinner
For our evening meal, we travelled into Nottingham city centre.  I was hoping to have dinner at my favourite cafe in the UK… the uber cool Alley Cafe Bar.  Unfortunately, by the time we got into Nottingham on Sunday evening, it was closed 😦 

If you’re ever in Nottingham, you must try this cafe.  It has the most amazing vegan cheesecake and milkshakes that I’ve ever tasted.  Just make sure you don’t turn up there on a Sunday night 😉 

Instead, we crossed the road and went into Las Iguanas.  Though this is a chain (there’s one in Bath too), the food is pretty good.  There was a good ambience in the Nottingham restaurant (great Latino music playing), plus the guy that served us was really helpful… especially when I asked if they could make me some vegan burritos as the veggie ones all had cheese in them.  So, here’s what we ate… apologies again for the dodgy photos.

Bread and olives, which we quickly devoured 🙂 

Then I had the Sopa de Calabaza (spiced up butternut squash and coconut milk soup).  Really yum, but very spicy.  My mouth was totally zinging after this.

For my main course, the kind chef made me a vegan enchilada, filled with spicy roasted butternut squash, peppers and other veggies, and topped with a spicy tomato sauce.  This came with lemon and coriander rice, and refried beans.  Totally delish! (the photo doesn’t do it justice).

Lil’ L had the veggie fajitas, which he quickly devoured.  For dessert, he didn’t choose the fresh fruit option, but instead opted for the other healthy dessert… chocolate brownie and ice cream 😉

We had a great night at Iguanas and it reminded me how long it’s been since I made fajitas and enchiladas at home.  We used to eat them all the time, stuffed with roasted butternut squash, sweet potato, peppers, mushrooms, spinach and refried beans.  I’ll definitely have to make some soon!

Right, that’s me done!  When Lil’ L’s in bed tonight, I’ll pop along to the WIAW party and see what y’all eating!

Happy WIAW everyone! xx

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The Big Budget Challenge – Week II

I’m  now in my second week of ‘The Big Budget Challenge’ hosted by the lovely Laura @ Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish.  I did okay in Week I, but Week 2 has been even better 🙂 

Here’s a run down of my top ‘money saves’ this week:

1. Avoid waste. No food thrown away this week!  

See these sad-looking bananas….

I turned them into this:

It’s banana cinnamon ‘ice cream’.  It’s so creamy that you would think it was proper ice cream!  To make it, I simply cut the bananas into slices, froze them, then whizzed them in the blender on the ice setting until they were all chopped up.  I then transferred them to a bowl, added a dash of nondairy milk, lashings of cinnamon and a tablespoon of ground linseed.  I then pulsed them using a hand blender until they went white and creamy.  The bananas were so ripe that I didn’t need to add any sweetener.  Lil’ L loves this dessert and it makes a nice change from apples 😉

2. Shop around for cheapest deals.  I finally got round to trying out www.mysupermarket.co.uk that a friend recommended way back in the summer.  I was really impressed with it.  It’s so simple to use.  At a click of a button, it allows you to import your online shopping basket from your usual provider (mine’s Tesco). You can then easily edit the basket, deleting items you no longer need and adding new items. 

Then, it does something really useful…

  • It shows you how you can save money by swapping to cheaper items. If you agree with their ‘Swap & Save’ suggestions, you just click to swap.  I saved £6.36 by swapping some items.
  • It then compares the cost of your basket at four supermarkets.  If your shop would be cheaper elsewhere, you just click to swap.  I did a big grocery shop (83 items) and the total was £139 at Tesco.  In Asda, the same shop would have cost me £155; Sainsbury’s £166; and Ocado (Waitrose) a wopping £177. I’ve always done my big grocery shops at Tesco, so it was great to discover that it is actually the cheapest supermarket for me. 🙂 
     
    It’s interesting because the cheapest supermarket very much depends on the types of groceries you buy.  For my friend, Sainsbury’s came out £30 cheaper than Tesco!  Lately, I’ve been disorganised with my grocery shopping and have ended up buying bits and pieces on a weekly basis from the Waitrose in Bath.  By getting more organised and ordering a fortnightly Tesco home delivery, I should save a small fortune! 🙂 

3. Make use of home grown foods.  We’re eating tons of apples and there’s still hundreds left!  After watching Monty Don’s episode on how to ‘over winter’ apples, I challenged M to make me a storage contraption using old scraps from the garage.  He rose to the challenge and made a great storage system…..

… but it took him the whole of Sunday.  He’s now banned me from watching Gardners’ World as he’s fed up with landing Monty Don’s ‘Jobs for the Weekend’. 😉

4. Go foraging!  No foraging this week as I’m still working out what to do with all the nuts we found last week

5. Make use of vouchers and deals. HUGE savings here! Last Friday, me and my good friend J went to London to meet up with our gorgeous friends N and H for lunch.  I converted my Tesco vouchers into tokens for redspottedhankie.com and managed to get both our travel tickets for FREE!  A total saving of £66!  This meant we had more cash to spend on gorgeous eats and drinks 🙂 

So, lots of savings this week.  Good thing too because next week is going to be v. v. expensive 😉 

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WIAW – I’ll bring the falafel and flapjack :)

Firstly, I’d like to begin by saying ‘hi’ to all the lovely new subscribers to my blog and to everyone that’s left me comments this week.  I’ve loved reading every single one of them… so please keep them coming! 

So, how has your Wednesday been?  Hope it’s been a good one for you!

My Wednesday has been a day of two halves… a morning of frustration sorry, read that as ‘challenges’ and ‘opportunities’ brought about by my attempts to embrace technology (unfortunately it just doesn’t want to embrace me back 😦 ), followed by a blissful afternoon spent with the children in my meditation classes.  Today they truly were my ‘little saviours’ 🙂

Since this post is dedicated to the WIAW party, I’ll post later about the other events that unfolded this Wednesday.

For those of you that are new to my blog, I’ll quickly explain what the WIAW party is.  Basically, it’s a virtual party hosted by the lovely Jenn over at Peas & Crayons, where we share what we eat each Wednesday.  This event not only helps us to keep track of our own eating habits, but it’s also greatly inspiring.  Last week I book-marked so many gorgeous veggie recipes, that I reckon I could try out new meals each night for the next year!

So, here we go… here’s what I ate this Wednesday:

Breakfast
Cup of black coffee (I would have chosen the hot water and lemon, but we’ve run out of lemon.  Great excuse eh 😉 )

After the school run, I made myself a huge bowl of porridge, made with Flahavan’s organic jumbo oats, Alpro fortified soya milk, with a sprinkling of  cinnamon, chopped brazil nuts, pecan nuts, ground linseed, goji berries, and a drizzle of Crazy Jack’s organic brown rice syrup.

Goji berries are a recent discovery for me, and I’m absolutely loving them!  I’ve also just found out that they’re one of those extremely nutrient-dense ‘super’ foods.  According to the write-up on Detox Your World, they contain all 8 essential amino acids (so they’re a great protein supplement); they’re a rich source of carotenoids (containing more beta-carotene than carrots); they contain vitamins B1, B2, B6, and vitamin E; and up to 21 trace minerals (the main ones being zinc, iron, copper, calcium, germanium, selenium, and phosphorus).  If you haven’t tried them, you must give them a go!  As well as adding them to porridge, I’ve also been putting them in my energy bars, flapjacks and raw chocolates.

For breakfast, I also had a large glass of Innocent smoothie.  This smoothie is seen as a luxury in our house, but it’s half price in Tesco at the moment so I bought two 🙂

Lunch
For lunch, I had a large bowl of lightly spiced parsnip soup, leftover from Sunday.  This is one of the family’s all-time favourite soups and Lil’ L loves it!   We lightly spice it with garam masala and a sprinkling of smoked paprika. It’s a great soup for Autumn!

Snacks
After school, we had a piece of cherry and coconut flapjack.  I first made this flapjack for the Macmillan Cancer fund-raiser event and it was a big hit!  It was the first goodie that sold out, and we received lots of great feedback and recipe requests.  I’ve finally got round to writing up the recipe and posting it.  Sorry it’s taken so long! 

People were surprised to hear that I don’t include any processed fat or oil in the flapjack.  It’s literally made with oats, dried cherries, coconut, a dash of vanilla extract and Sweet Freedom fruit syrup.  The fact that it’s low GI and low fat makes it a great snack as it helps sustain energy levels.  The dried cherries could be swapped for any dried fruits.  I often use goji berries (no surprise there) and dates.  If you try any other dried fruit combinations, please let me know as I’m always looking for inspiration.

Dinner
For dinner tonight we had falafel.  For the past year, I’ve been playing around with my falafel recipe and I finally think I’ve got it right…. not too spicy for Lil’ L, but still plenty of delicious flavour. 

I served the falafel with houmous, black olives, tzatziki (made with Alpro plain soy yoghurt), raw veggies, salad leaves, pieces of wholemeal pitta bread and wholegrain couscous (my boys eat so much!).  

By the time I served dinner, there was no natural light left, so here’s a shot of the same meal that I served last month.

Right, that’s me done!  Time to head over to Jenn’s party and get inspired 🙂

Happy WIAW everyone! 🙂

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The Big Budget Challenge – week I

With lots of fairly large expenses looming over the next 3 months, last Friday I decided to join ‘The Big Budget Challenge’ hosted by the lovely Laura @ Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish.  We set our own budgeting rules (mine are here) and, for the next 2 months, we’ll post a weekly progress update on how we’re doing on our budgeting adventure. 

It’s my first week into the challenge and I’ve been filled with enthusiasm about finding ways to cut our household food-related costs.  Here’s a summary of what I managed to achieve in the past week:

1. Avoid Waste.  I’m pleased to say that I’ve used up all fruits and veggies before they went brown, turned to liquid or grew fur. 😉  I also rummaged around in the kitchen cupboards and used up anything that was past its sell-by date, including 2 packs of ground almonds:

I was in foodie heaven when I saw these almonds on special offer. Please don't look at the BB date! They were fine, honest!

With these almonds, I made some vegan cocoa fudge (featured in yesterday’s post) and 4 fruit puddings made with home-grown apples, foraged blackberries, and an oaty-almond topping.  They were totally delish… although Lil’ L freaked at the purple coloured apple and said the dessert wasn’t attractive enough to eat! The cheek of it!

The idea was to freeze 3 puddings and eat 1 this week.  Instead, 1 found its way into the freezer, and 3 got eaten in less than a week!  Aren’t we a greedy bunch?

2. Shop around for the cheapest deals. I haven’t done an internet shop this week, so I’ll try www.mysupermarket.co.uk for price comparisons next week.

3. Make use of home-grown foods. On Saturday, we picked apples off our cooking apple tree.  M and Lil’ L had loads of fun, with M balanced up the tree throwing apples down to Lil’ L.  The idea was to carefully catch them and place them in the box, so we can overwinter them.  Unfortunately, most got dropped, some bounced off his head, and the picked apples definitely got mixed in with the windfalls!  I’m not holding out much hope for the overwintering now. 😦

We filled up 3 boxes and there’s still hundreds of apples up the tree.  If anyone that lives near me would like some apples, please give me a shout as we have way too many for a family of 3.

 So far, I’ve made all the puddings mentioned above, plus lots of apple sauce, which I’ve been using to make apple cinnamon breakfast pancakes. 

I normally buy at least one bag of organic apples a week and a couple of jars of organic apple sauce per month, so this little harvest is going to save us a fair fortune!

4. Go Foraging! I couldn’t wait to go foraging, so straight after school last Friday, Lil’ L and I put on our wellies and went to see what we could find.  Just a short distance from our house, we found a small strip of land literally covered with cob nuts!  We gathered them up, brought them home and weighed them.  In total, we had 2 kilos’ worth of nuts!  In Waitrose, cob nuts are currently selling for £3.99 a kilo!

Fortunately, I know someone who absolutely loves cracking nuts. 😉

So far, I’ve used the nuts to make veggie burgers.  This weekend I’m going to try roasting them with a little sea salt.  Again, if anyone living near me would like some cob nuts please let me know as we have way too many.

Last weekend, we also combined a bike ride along the Bath-Bristol cycle route with a foraging trip to gather blackberries.  We managed to gather 3 containers’ worth.  Some went in the puddings, the rest I stewed.  I adore stewed blackberries and ate 2 bowlfuls today.  I should be zinging with nutrients now! 🙂

5. Make use of vouchers and deals.  This is where we made a huge saving.  In preparation for our Friday night out, I exchanged some Tesco vouchers for reward tokens and we went to Pizza Express.  We asked for the £10 for 2 course menu (in our local P.E. you don’t get this menu unless you ask for it!) and Lil’ L had the children’s menu.  For drinks we had tap water (P.E. must hate people like us 😉 ).  The bill came to £27, which was paid for in tokens… thus FREE!  Normally we spend £35-£40 on a night out, so a bargain all round!

Outside of my 5 rules, we also came up with another way to save significant amounts of money… by parking 10 mins out of the city centre and walking in.  This week, we’ve needed to go into the city twice by car (normally we cycle).  By parking a little out of the centre, we saved £10 in parking charges!  I also enjoyed walking through parts of Bath that I never normally visit.  I especially enjoyed stomping through the crunchy leaves. 🙂

That big leaf in the middle just had to come to come home with me 🙂

It’s amazing how many ways you can save money with a little bit of thought.  I’m going to pop over to Laura’s now and see how everyone else is doing on The Big Budget Challenge.

What’s your favourite money-saving tip?  I’d love to hear it! 

 

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