The last week has been very strange for me, I think that’s why I haven’t posted, and each day have been continuing to write posts and send them straight to the trash can never to see the light of day. Its my last day on the Isle of Man today, I’ve really enjoyed my time here but I’ve got itchy feet to be back in control of my own life again.

So that’s what the issue is, control. I like to be in charge of everything, and when I can’t be two things happen – I freak the fuck out, or I literally say fuck it and go the opposite way and abandon all hope. Now these aren’t the makings of a nice wholesome, happy soul, but you know what is?

The fact I’ve identified them, and I can see I need to make changes and learn to adapt.

Tomorrow I fly back to the UK then I have a week visiting various family members before I go to London. I feel ashamed to say I’m not looking forward to seeing my family, I mean, I am looking forward to seeing them, but it’s just one more week where I am powerless over when/where/how things happen, I didn’t realise how much I valued my independence until I went South. I think my best bet, is to give myself permission for one more week, to enjoy myself, not to live by lists, that its okay if I don’t get everything done – or even at all, then once I’m in London I can start to settle into my new life and reorganise myself.

I have been cooking vegan every day for my dad, but somehow pictures failed to appear, I think this might be because of the permanent bad mood I’ve been in over the last week, which is disappointing, but there’s no use crying over spilt milk, lets just say I think I failed at blogging for Mofo, but I’ve definitely improved as a cook over the last few weeks and that’s the important part, eh?

Does anyone else ever struggle with giving themselves too much to do, then feeling miserable when they fail to achieve it? I’m a chronic to-do lister, and sometimes it really interrupts spending time with the people I love. Any tips on how to stop this?

Slight Mofo update fail, that’s not to say I haven’t been eating like a queen and cooking like her little servant but time has got the better of me, I’ve had what I can only really describe as a rather life changing few days – all without leaving the house.

There have been lots of long discussions regarding the future, life plans and ultimately what the next step should be, and I can’t believe it but it looks like, fingers crossed, in January I’ll be studying Nutritional Therapy.

I am actually so excited, I can’t believe I might get the chance to do something I am so firmly passionate about. It literally gives me tingles in my toes. But anyway onwards with the month of lucious food (although I’ll quite safely say I’ll be cooking like this for the other 11, I enjoy never having the same meal twice!)

First of all dinner last night, I told you all last time that Vanilla & Spice was my new cookery crush, well let me tell you she does not disappoint – this time I made my Dad and I her sweet potato bites for a starter followed by her parsnip and beet mash with almond parmesan for the main course which I served with greens and stuffed portobellos. Oh my gosh – taste explosion alert!

Apologies for the photo, I had to snap as I served due to one very hungry father at the dinner table, and if I’m quite honest that sheer fact I wanted to gobble these right up too! I served them with fresh cranberry sauce and they were lovely. A little crispy on the outside, I loved the oat/coconut/walnut crust, and nice an soft on the inside. You can find the recipe over here!

For the main I made parsnip and beet mash, I loved the colour and texture of it, it was just the right level of creaminess and the almond-parmesan was great too. My Dad pretty much helped himself to the whole little dish of the parmesan I put on the table, so that was a winner. I am definately going to try some different nut/nutritional yeast mixes with some different dishes, it was a brilliant idea for a topping that had a little crunch and a slight cheesy taste.

To serve with it I roasted some chunky asparagus and tenderstem brocolli and some stuffed portobellos. I was very aprehensive about the portobellos at first, I used tofutti cream cheese – its the first time I’ve bought vegan cheese, and obviously I was also feeding my omnivore father, but he proclaimed them ‘delicious’ and one of his favourite dishes – I was a little less sold – but I was a philidephia girl through and through before I went vegan.

To make the mushrooms first I marinated the caps in a mix of balsamic vinegar, half a tsp of agave syrup and a tsp of garlic powder. Then I spread the mushrooms with a thick layer of tofutti, following that I topped them with a few slices of stale bread I proccessed up with two cloves of minced garlic and a handful of rosemary and thyme. Then I baked them for about 20 minutes until the top was crispy and the bottom was soft and juicy.

So all in all a tasty dinner success.

And what of food today? Well to say thank you to my Dad for helping me so much in organising my future I decided to make an unproccesed (and of course vegan) version of a standard what I would refer to as a Dad lunch (usually some combination of baked beans/toast/bacon) and made this little plate.

I made some home-made baked beans following this recipe, and another one of the mushrooms mentioned above because it went down so well and served it on toast. The beans required not very much prep time (about 15 minutes) but a lot of forethough as they need to bake for about 2 1/2 hours before lunch, but hopefully it was worth it. Yay for baked beans without chemicals and e-numbers!

Also anybody heard of the singer song writer Beans on Toast? If you like Billy Bragg and political, guy and a guitar vibes, give the dude a listen, he is pretty mint.

I think I’m going to try a thai green curry for dinner, what are you all having tonight? (Note:I did this, recipe and pictures to follow later, yum!)

I’ve ordered Appetitie For Reduction, I know I shouldn’t have but I couldn’t help it what with everyone posting gorgeous pictures of the treats from within during Mofo but no recipes. Has anyone got any favourites I should consider for my weekend cooking marathon?

Sunday inspiration time y’all, on a Monday morning too because I was a sleepyhead and didn’t press post to last night. Oops!

Thanks to the joy that is Vegan Mofo, I can’t even begin to list the recipes & bits and pieces I have saved that have inspired me over the last week – they are literally coming out of my eyeballs.

I can however tell you that Vanilla and Spice is now in my top recipe blogs ever – I actually ended up making two of her recipes today – for lunch I made Butternut Squash and Apple Quinoa and for dinner the Ginger Peanut Noodles.

The quinoa was amazing, beautiful mix of different flavours and textures, I actually served mine with grilled portobellos and a side salad. One of the things in my salad happened to be some left over beetroot and every time I managed a bite of that combined with the apple and butternut squash it was like a pure mouthgasm, so what am I trying to say here? Well firstly, this recipe was ridiculously amazing – but secondly I need to locate some apple and beetroot recipes because that is a flavour combination I thoroughly enjoyed.

For dessert I made some raw ‘truffles’ from Vegan Culinary Crusade but had to sub in some peanut butter because I’m out of almond – the finished product was still super tasty.

Finally for dinner it was back to Vanilla and Spice for the Ginger Peanut Noodles. This was perfect because as usual my Dad wasn’t ready on time for dinner, and it was so much less stressful that serving hot food because I could just leave them to chill – and let the flavours mingle so it was actually beneficial. I loved this sauce, it had all the right flavours, my only criticism was that I wanted more sauce – I actually cut the recipe in half because I was only feeding two but next time I’ll make double the sauce because it was beautiful. The cilantro and lime gave the peanut a gorgeous tang, it was first class to say the least.

Now after the success of those two I have my eye on a few more of her delicious concoctions; this week I’d like to make the Beet-Parsnip Mash with Almond Parmesan, the Sweet Potato Bites and Raw-Beet, Carrot and Apple Salad (see what two ingredients are in there together, hello beets’n’apples!)

Do you ever get super happy when you find a new recipe book or blog and everything you make turns out so tasty that you just know the rest is going to be just as good?

I’m really enjoying vegan mofo (although I don’t think it’s having the greatest impact on my studies due to the 1000+ posts of my googlereader begging to be read) but I haven’t actually really posted about quite what else is going on.

So last Tuesday I arrived in the Isle of Man for the beginning of ‘study bootcamp’ as my Dad keeps calling it. I’ve powered through a lot of studying for sure, but it’s also been a break from the everyday stress of life – being this far out into the sticks of the countryside isn’t something I’m used to but it’s very relaxing.

I feel less stressed than I have in years, my muscles feel less tense, I’m sleeping better – through the night – I’m using an alarm to get up now for the first time in ages, it’s actually an achievement considering how little I ended up sleeping at some points in Leeds. Overall I feel so much healthier, the fresh air is really doing me good.

We’ve been on a few lovely excursions to heritage sites, waterfall walks and other lovely parts of nature which has given me a lot of time to think about the future and start to formulate tentative plans – the path splits a few ways; powering on to do a degree at the OU in a subject I’m not committed to, looking at nutritional therapy courses and finally the impossible dream – the national gourmet institute. Tomorrow my dad wants to sit and help me write a five year plan, I think I need it.

But just so this isn’t a completely food free post, here is some gorgeous roasted red pepper hummus I made the other day – standard hummus, smoked paprika and some juicy roasted peppers all blended into a lovely mix, although this one has no oil in as my dad is looking to eat better and with the amount of hummus he puts on each carrot stick – it’s nearly possible to make hummus a little bit unhealthy, and I don’t think personally it compromises the taste – the tahini keeps the texture and the peppers added some more moisture. Today I think I’m going to have a go at one of the beetroot recipes I keep seeing floating round the blogosphere.

Yesterday I fancied treating my dad to a veganized version of one of his favourite meals – shepherd’s pie and roasted veggies although I think maybe it should be called gardeners pie. I was extra spurred on to make this gems due to my dad treating me to a couple of heart-shaped ramekins & a new super sharp chopping knife – even this massive pile of veggies were no match for its speedy skills!

The recipes itself was nothing special, all I did was saute some onions & garlic in a saucepan, once slightly golden added a tomato and some mushrooms, covered with 2 cups of vegan stock. Then I added some chopped celery, sweetcorn & peas and left to simmer down to thick gravy. I then put this into the ramekins and refrigerated.

Next I boiled some potatoes and mashed with some soya margarine, fresh parsley, salt & pepper and spread on top of the chilled mixtures (I cool them down to stop the potato sinking into the gravy mixture and becoming a soggy mess!) Then throw in the oven at 200 C for around 25 minutes or until a little browning appears.

I served with a side of roasted carrots, cauliflower and brocoli and a red wine, leek & mushroom gravy.

I love my little heart shaped ramekins so much I even made my oats in it this morning – today I had banana and baby poach pear oats with cinnamon and bear granola nibbles to top with a side of soya yoghurt (I really like having my yoghurt separately now, it keeps my oats hotter for longer I find and I hate luke warm oats at the end of the bowl!)

Its Sunday today, whats everyone treating themselves to for dinner? I’m thinking either a curry or a stir fry I’m feeling oriental!

What does everyone in the whole land of blogging adore….peanut butter! After my super tasty peanut skewers I knew my lunch had got to follow in spirit and thus came African Sweet Potato Soup.

Now I’m a fan of sweet potato soup from square one, in fact this recipe from Vegan Yum Yum was one of the first vegan recipes I made when cooking for guests, so I knew this would be a success. This recipe is for two portions.

 

Ingredients

1 tsp olive oil, ½ white onion, 1 clove garlic, 1 tsp grated ginger, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 chopped tomato, 1 sweet potato (mine was 250g), ½ carrot, 1 ½ cups water, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter, 1 tbsp creamy peanut butter (extra tsp to finish)

 

First heat up the oil and sauté the onion for about 10 minutes before adding the garlic, ginger and spices. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

 

Then add chopped tomato, sweet potato & carrot chunks, cook for two minutes and add the water. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer for half an hour.

 

After the veggies are cooked move to the food processor and whirl, baby, whirl, then add your PB, salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Finally move back to the pan to reheat (or microwave if your lazy) then plate up and drizzle with a little smooth PB to finish.

 

Ahhhh this soup really ticked all my boxes, it had a gorgeous nutty after taste and I put just enough cayenne to give a real kick with each mouthful.

 

And in other amazing news….guess what came to my door at 10am yesterday morning? My prize from Rachel’s Shine Marathon giveaway. That’s two amazing packages in one week, although this was by far the tastiest. I quickly tore open the packaging and tucked into a half a conscious fruit fantasy raw chocolate bar – naughty but the best kind of nice! I went for a long walk yesterday, and cafe’s on the isle of man aren’t very vegan friendly so I took my nutz-about-chocolate luna bar with me as a mid-aftenoon pick me up when we went for tea. Thank you so much Rachel, and well done on your run!

On Thursday we went on a lovely mountain walk then afterwards we stopped for a cup of tea and at the cutest little bistro, which we are definitely going back to for dinner, its all run – food, waiting service, cleaning – by one little retired old man, he obviously has a passion for cooking, the menu looked divine and best of all he said he was completely veggie friendly and just ask to customize dishes so I shouldn’t have a problem finding something delicious to eat there, so excited!

We also went to the coolest shop called ‘Jurby’s Junk and Book Yard’ which was literally like a treasure chest of things you would never need and books as far as the eye could see (with added chickens)

Yesterday we went to a village called Cragneash, which was like going back in time – we went to tea room then climbed up to the top of a cliff to enjoy the view, isn’t it gorgeous?

What are you all up to this weekend? Has anyone got any nice plans?

Are you a fan of going for walks? I never used to like it growing up, I’m sure as a kid I demanded to sit in the car rather than go for a walk, now I find it so serene in the countryside!

 

 

 

Good morning munchkins, I’m feeling super productive today – 3 hours studying down and a batch of cookies for my daddy made.

Now what I wanted to make with these cookies was something he could enjoy after his lunch – requirements from his end – to contain chocolate, requirements from mine – low in sugar, full of things that are nutritious and easy to make an ickle batch of and thus was born my cranberry & choc oat cookies :)

Ingredients

75g mixed oats, 25 g plain flour, 35g brown sugar, 45 ml sunflower oil, 45 ml water, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp all spice, then to mix in a handful of cranberries, vegan chocolate drops, sunflower seeds and cashews. Then a drizzle of Sweet Freedom after cooking for each cookie.

Just combine the ingredients however you fancy, yup it’s that easy and shape into six little cookies, then bake at 200 C for about 12 minutes until you see the first hints of brown, then rescue from the oven and place on a baking tray to cool, they will firm up as this happens.

I wanted to make sure I got some nuts, seeds & healthy fats in there as for someone who is used to a meat based diet, the food my dad is eating with me is very nutritionally different. The cranberries also help sweeten it. After they’ve cooled I drizzled half a teaspoon of sweet freedom over each one to make it shiny and pretty!

Oh and notice I said shape into six cookies, and only five made it into the pictures? My tummy appreciated the mid study snack.

What are you favourite oatmeal cookie add ins? I adore simple cookies but you know what I could stick ever nut, seed, flavour of chocolate into an oatmeal cookie – I get so greedy!

Frustratingly I’ve written up a whole post about the delicious stuffed butternut squash and cranberry walnut salad I cooked on Tuesday but my phone is being ridiculous and not letting me upload via USB and I don’t have wifi connection on the island, dilemma! However my new camera arrived yesterday, so fear no more – vegan mofo will be caught on film.

Yesterday I had the cutest little snack – MINI PEARS. Seriously that cuppa was teeny-tiny too, but look at the ickle things!

And is mofo recipe time, today for dinner I cooked peanut marinated veggie skewers, super quick and easy after a hard days work.

Ingredients

Sauce: 1/4 cup Soy Sauce, 1/4 Cup Crunchy Peanut Butter, 1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice, 2 Minced Cloves Garlic, 1 tbsp Fresh Ginger

Veggies: Onion, Courgettte, Brocoli, Mushroom, Baby Corn, Snow Pea, Yellow Pepper

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl, one tip is to microwave the garlic for 30 seconds on a plate until it is all squishy, then its super easy to mix in – or shove it all in the blender then add as much water as you need to get it from a paste into a medium – thick sauce.

Chop up the veggies, use anything you like – just nothing to cooking times too radically different otherwise you’ll end up with burnt/uncooked veggies, and place on skewers, then lay in a glass dish. Pour the sauce over then cover with tinfoil and leave to marinate for half an hour or so.

Then all you need to do it give them a quick blast on the grill, remember to keep turning and serve with brown rice (if your my daddy) or steamed spinach (if your me) and pour the remaining marinade over the finished dishes.

Another vegan success in the eyes of the omnivore father, hurray!


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