The Vegan Who Came For Dinner

Sometimes, my friends or family get rather anxious about what I can eat when I go to visit.  Others embrace the challenge and cook me delicious meals which is so very kind and is always appreciated.  I do not expect people to go to any trouble though and am very happy to either take along something I know I can eat or just eat the bits of their meal I know I can have, such as salad, veggies, potatoes etc.

This Saturday I went to visit my Dad and he wasn’t sure what to get so I said I would bring my own. I did, but Harvey ate it in the car!!  So, I arrived with nothing but easily found a very decent  lunch; avocado mashed on to a toasted ciabatta roll.  Simple and perfectly adequate.

We then continued on to Warwickshire to stay with our fab friends and we had a curry for dinner.  Curry is always easy because there are several good options; I had dal, rice and sag aloo (spinach and potato) and it was great.  As was the wine and bubbles we enjoyed afterwards.  And obviously the company.  Very, very good company.

If you have vegans coming for dinner, a curry is a good option although you would need to check they don’t use ghee for cooking but as many Indians are vegetarian or vegan, they tend to respect dietary requirements and are very helpful if you explain what you need.  Another good option is Italian as they always have a simple pasta in tomato sauce and usually a very good range of vegetable and salad dishes.  
We had a very cosy evening in the playroom because half the house has been packed up and is on its way to New Zealand.  So we made the most of all of the facilities 😃
 I will miss these fab friends sooooooo much.  Including the crazy kids.  

Helen falls in to the category of friends who make a supreme effort to accommodate my eating choices for which I am so touched by.  I did also feel guilty because I succumbed and had some cheese with my wine which I feel terrible about but it is the one thing I find so hard to resist.

On Sunday I was given a lovely smoothie for breakfast with loads of fruit and green leaves in it and it was perfect.  For lunch, my dear friend made soup, a chick pea tagine and a pineapple upside cake.  All vegan and all the more remarkable because she had to go out and couldn’t share it with us.  Thank you so much Helen, it was all wonderful.
 We popped in to Granny’s on the way back South where the younger ones raced round on scooters.

 The rest of us enjoyed a coffee inside where it was warm and cosy.   

 I don’t know when I will next come back to this part of the world, where I have had so many happy times and so have my children.  Every year of their lives they have been up here and we have enjoyed the delightful company of our fab friends.  We will still have happy times together but will have to just travel further next time.   Back to work today and a simple supper.  I had some rice already cooked and leftover in the fridge which I stir fried with some onion, Savoy cabbage and broccoli.  Topped with some cauliflower I oven roasted with za’tar which was an easy and tasty supper. Seasoned with soy sauce, a splash of hoisin sauce and some pepper sauce.

 Vegans are easy to feed.  We eat most edible foods.  Just no animal products ( apart from moments of weakness).  

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The Allure of Fabrique

There have been many temptations along my road to being more healthy and recently I have experienced another one.  Fabrique!

This is a Swedish bakery, based in Stockholm and they recently opened a branch just over the road from the office.   Please move away because I am so weak and I keep being drawn in, like a moth to a bright light.  
    They sell a very limited range of products; sourdough bread a few cakes and biscuit things and ….
 Cinnamon and cardamom buns!!!  I love them ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ Sadly they have no nutritional value apart from squillions of calories as they are loaded with sugar and butter.  I have eaten far too many of these lately and they have added many pounds in extra weight I don’t want.   I don’t want to be eating any animal products either.  They are sweet and buttery, smell cinnamony and are completely irresistible and I dread to think how many I have had recently.  It is so hard to lose weight when you are surrounded by so many temptations and these totally tempt me.  I manage to stick to a vegan diet most of the time but the allure of these has defeated me and I must beat it!

 It hasn’t all been bad eating lately.  I made a chilli in the slow cooker which I thought would be lovely but it was just ok and I threw together a Thai curry I was not expecting much from and it was wonderful.  Life is full of surprises.

The chilli needs work.  I liked the balance of ingredients the flavour needs improving.  The good thing about a slow cooker is you can cook with no fat as you throw in the ingredients, add some liquid like a stock, turn the slow cooker on and then leave it.  We went to watch Spectre and when we came home supper was ready.  

 The best part of this meal was the damson gin which I mixed with soda water as I wanted a long drink, rather than a neat shot.  I made the damson gin 2 years ago and it is very drinkable.  

The cabbage and spinach in red Thai curry sauce was surprisingly tasty and I was only using up leftovers.  For the vegans amongst you, you have to track down a red Thai curry paste which does not contain shrimp or crustaceans of any kind which most brands do but it is possible.

I fried some onion and then added the chopped up Savoy cabbage. I lightly fried it and then added a very heaped tbsp of red Thai curry paste and a can of coconut milk.   Cooked it gently until the cabbage was as soft as I wanted it.

I added a bag of spinach.  
  I simmered it for a couple more minutes until the spinach was just wilted and served it over some quinoa.  I much prefer rice but am trying to eat a varied diet and that includes mixing up my grains.  

I cooked a large batch of the chilli and the Thai curry and a large batch of quinoa so I had plenty of easy ready meals in the fridge for us to have after work and school.   Yesterday I called out a heating engineer because occasionally my boiler went out.  Most of the time it worked well and provided heating and hot water but then it would go out and was quite hard to restart.  Unfortunately, the heating engineer broke a part he was cleaning so I was without heating as the temperature took a significant dip.  Fortunately I have a real fire in the lounge and I lit it for the first time this Autumn and enjoyed a simple supper and a glass of wine in front of it.  I had some oat cakes with seaweed and black pepper with humous and tomatoes.  It was actually rather pleasant.

 Have a happy weekend.

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War On Waste

Have any of you seen Hugh F-W’s ‘War on Waste’?  I think it is one of the best things I have seen for ages.  Not in terms of style or earth shattering research results or many other reasons to give merit to a programme but great because it made me think.  The most shocking statistic, which I have seen elsewhere, is that 1/3 of food produced is thrown away !!!!! In the programme Hugh interviewed householders who are slaves to use/sell by dates who throw away perfectly good food because of the date on the packet.  Or who are sucked in by supermarket “bargains” and buy more than they need and which they then don’t use.  Or because supermarkets refuse to buy ‘wonky veg.’!  I think I am quite good at using what I buy and grow but I can always be better.

I am rarely seduced by supermarket marketing because I shop online. You really spend much less that way.  I write a list and mainly stick to it so I am not tempted by things I don’t need.  No browsing the aisles for me, virtual or real.  I also hate throwing things away and on principle only throw food away when it is visibly rotting or smelling bad.  I work from home on Fridays and usually have a supermarket delivery.  Before that I clear out the fridge and this was this weeks clear out.  Some of this was too limp to enjoy such as the celery and 3 of the apples but not so bad to chuck out.  The other apples I just didn’t like much.  I did throw away the rocket as it was going slimey and the spring onions but I popped everything else in the picture in the juicer and made one of the best juices I have ever had :  celery stalks and leaves, ginger, 9 apples, 1 lime, 2 oranges, 1 ruby grapefruit, half a punnet of red grapes.

It really was fabulous. It made 2 very large glasses which I sipped all morning. 
So not much waste and any that there was, is now on the compost heap so actually nothing was thrown away.  The other item lurking in the fridge which was beyond its best was some broccoli which I steamed for lunch with some pesto potatoes – pesto is not just for pasta.   

 In the middle of the afternoon I snacked on some cashew and walnuts with raisins and Goji berries.  

Supper was quick and easy.  I tried these Moroccan veggie burgers.  The texture was just like a beef burger but without all the fat and rubbery bits.  I rate the flavour only about 5 or 6 out of 10 and it may have been better with a salad but I am not in a salad mood at the moment.  Also Harvey wanted ‘normal food’ so we had burger, roasties and baked beans.  Simple and perfectly adequate.   

 I have not bloged much recently.  I have been in a bit of a funk with my eating which translates as I have eaten very badly.  I have eaten far too much and made poor food choices.  I have put lots of weight on and feel really bad about it.  Today was a good step in the right direction.

I have been busy with life in general and work but also some lovely social things.  Last Sunday we spent the day in Clapham with Lara.  I wanted to see her part of London and we had a lovely time pottering about.  I was there early so first stop was Esca for breakfast.   I had granola with fruit.  It was good and I was pleasantly surprised by the prices.

 We enjoyed pottering about Clapham.

   There was also some relaxing at Lara’s flat which is in a great location between Clapham North and Clapham Common.
 View from the sitting room – lovely big windows.  Then would you believe it but it was lunch time!  We went to Red Dog Saloon for burgers.   

    This was one of the best veggie burgers I have ever had.  It was made with quinoa and was a bit crunchy which I really liked with the soft bun and juicey veggies in it.  Very yummy, eaten with mashed potato and followed by pecan pie.  We were joined by my sister Lucy too but I was so busy chatting I didn’t get any pictures with my sister or niece and nephew.  
 I also failed to take any pictures of my lovely day on Saturday which was spent with Lucy and Sally at Basil in Tunbridge Wells, a fantastic Wholefoods cafe.  The evening was spent at a very interesting location, Nettlestead Place, With some of my lovely neighbours, where we were treated to an evening of music and poetry , telling the story of WW1 and raising money for Heart of Kent Hospice.

The previous weekend I hosted a lunch for BJ, my sister Abi and niece Charlotte and Alison and Andrew.  We had a very long lunch !    

BJ earned lots of Godfather brownie reports for helping Harvey put together his new scooter, grind rail and ramp.    

As it was Halloween we had a pumpkin, beautifully carved by Harvey and we lit some of these lovely Chinese lanterns.  It was a clear and still night and we watched them for ages, floating silently above us.   

 So life has, as usual, been up and down and too busy but with fun and lovely times as well as work and chores.  I must remain focused on my target of losing weight and being vegan rather than vegetarian as it makes me feel so much better and keeps,the weight down.

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5 Towns In 5 Days

The grass has not grown very long under my feet this week!

Saturday – Bridport

I went to one of the most bonkers and unique and utterly enjoyable events.  ‘Onion Jack’ at Wishingpool Farm, Bridport.

It was a bit of an onion festival; we dined on French onion soup with baguette.   
 There was some wine consumption   

There was knife throwing, snail stunts, circus skills and entertainment.  It was bloody marvellous.

 Sunday – Sidmouth
Lara, Harvey and I were staying with my step- father, Ian, at his home in Sidmouth.  Well, Harvey stayed with his cousin, Harry, some of the time and joined us on Sunday evening.  After a very lazy morning and a simple lunch of lentil sambar and salad, we strolled in to town.  

We walked through a large park which had some beautiful trees in it, including this lovely Monterey Pine.  Look at how the branches grown along the ground !   

 Sidmouth is on the South Devon coast.  We pottered about very happily and in the evening, 2 of my sisters joined us for supper.  I ate vast amounts and went to bed feeling rather bloated and uncomfortable.   

 Monday – Lyme Regis

 No visit to the SW is complete for me without a walk around Lyme Regis, one of my very favourite places.  The straw has been harvested and so it is thatching time.  I do love the seaside here.
 The obligatory walk along the Cobb,  which always makes me feel very happy.   


We ate at the Harbour Inn and would you believe that it was warm enough to eat outside?  Well it was and we dined overlooking the sandy beach.   

 We then strolled up to the town and pottered around the shops, eventually getting back to the car and heading to my sister Lucy’s for the afternoon.   

 Tuesday – Chichester

Farewell Sidmouth and hello Chichester.  We went to my sister Holly’s for lunch and then had a lovely stroll around Chichester which is a very pretty town.   

 They have a very ethical and vegan friendly cafe.  Well, actually the flapjack I had wasn’t vegan because it had honey in it but to be honest, I have had very many slip ups this weekend.   

 Wednesday – Edinburgh

I had to,work today and for lunch I went to a great sandwich and salad bar near the office where I had a delicious salad box.  

I am currently stuck at the airport as my flight is delayed by more than an hour – thank goodness for free wifi.   

 I have had a lovely time in Dorset, Devon and Sussex,  visiting my dear family.  I enjoyed everything we did but I made lots of very poor food choices which included foods either made entirely of dairy, or at least containing them and foods with eggs in.  I now have 4 days at home where it is much easier to control what I eat so I will get back to eating a 100% vegan diet.


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The Morning After The Flight Before

I spent 2 days this week in Edinburgh which was productive, useful and at times great fun too.  I was taken out in the evening to a fantastic cinema in Morningside, The Dominion.  You could sit where you wanted to and all the seats were huge armchairs which reclined and you could have your feet up too.   They also had tables between each seat for drinks and snacks. It was fantastic.  I wish we had a cinema like that near home.

I stayed in a Travelodge.  I wouldn’t recommend it for much except it was cheap – £42 incl breakfast, in a  quiet  location near Haymarket and in an old building rather than a purpose built block.  This was the view from my room, obviously looking over the back of the building.  It was dark when I arrived and still dark when I left the next morning but you get the general idea. I was surprised it was so green, this close to the city centre. I had a hotel breakfast which was uninspiring but ok.  That is a vegetarian sausage, btw.

The best meal in the 2 days was from a small  cafe in the centre, on Fountainbridge called Hanks.  I go back next week and will revisit. 
I walked down to Haymarket and caught a tram rather than a train to South Gyle.

 Building the tram lines created a huge disturbance for many months but Edinburgh now has a clean, efficient tram service which is also cheap.  It only cost me £1.50 and it was a pleasure to use.    
And it had free wifi!  Bonus.  Shame about the rugby, Scotland was very unlucky.
    I got off at Edinburgh Park , crossed the line and walked to the office.  This is looking back down the tram lines to the city centre.
 I enjoyed my visit to Edinburgh but was happy to head home.

 This morning, after the flight and the visit I felt exhausted and had a sore throat so I worked from home and made sure I rehydrated myself.  I added some ginger, turmeric and an orange to 750 ml water.   

 Fruit for breakfast.  A portion of frozen banana and fresh papaya nice cream with a portion of apples which I steamed and then blended with dates as they are cooking apples.  Really yummy.   

   A little snack of cashews, sultanas and Goji berries.  I am hunting for a decent vegan cheese substitute.m I know timeout taste as good but it needs to taste and look and feel like cheese.  This wasn’t bad but I am hoping there is a better one out there somewhere.   

 Very simple lunch; jacket potato with half a can of baked beans and some vegan Parmesan Cheez.  Dinner was even easier.  Pitta bread stuffed with humous, some leftover roasted veggies with avocado aioli, lettuce, carrots and falafels.

 24 hours after landing, I feel slightly rested, well hydrated and well nourished.

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Making Your Own

I mainly ate quite well this weekend which means vegan and plant based and low added extra fat.   I began with a fresh juice on Saturday morning, made with these ingredients.  It tasted ok but it was even better when I added half a melon which just about filled up this glass.

 Lunch was actually incredible.  The flavours were complex and complementary and quite sensational.  I used up some leftovers From the soba noodle dish I made last weekend and added extra vegetables: courgette, broccoli and red pepper.  I also added a splash of Tabasco Chipotle and a small red chilli so there was some sweetness and heat.  I am making this again !  

Then I let myself down.  This would have had animal products and fat and sugar so neither vegan nor healthy nor diet friendly. It tasted lovely but I was disappointed with myself for it.

 I fancied making some bread.  I made a batch of wholemeal bread dough and divided it in 2. The first half I made in to pizzas and the other half I left out to make bread with on Sunday.  I made a sauce with mashed up fresh tomatoes, dried tomatoes, sun dried tomato paste and olives and spread it over the dough.  I added sliced red onions, button mushrooms, peppers and courgettes and a sprinkling of oregano.  I then grated some vegan cheese over it all and baked it.  I have tried several vegan cheeses and not yet found one which comes close to dairy cheese, unfortunately.  This was ok; it was the mature cheddar flavoured ‘melty’ by Cheez.  The rest of the pizza was pretty good.

 Sunday morning, I ate a mango and then went on a dog walk.  For lunch I made a small round loaf with the leftover dough.  

  It turned out quite well.  A bit too yeasty for me but Harvey really liked it so yeasty.  It could probably have had another 5-10 minutes cooking but as it was, the crust was perfect and the leftovers will make wonderful toast.  We spread the bread with humous and ate it with lettuce and roasted red onion and peppers.

For supper I made an avocado aioli to go with the potatoes and salad I prepared.  I have a little Braun blender which is perfect for small quantities and made a lovely smooth aioli , made with avocado, garlic, salt and lime juice.

I added red chili and coriander to mine.  I made the ‘smashed potatoes’ from ‘Oh She Glows’, a cookbook by a Canadian vegan called Angela Liddon.  Oh She Glows is one of the first blogs I started following and I still enjoy it.  The potatoes are made by boiling them, in their skins for 15 minutes.  Set them aside to cool a bit and then lay them in a lightly oiled baking tray and press them firmly with the palm of your hand so they smash open a bit.  It helps give crispy bits.   Bake them in the oven at 200C for 30-40 minutes, turning them half way.  Delicious.

I ate too much fat today with the humous, avocado and roasted potatoes.  Just one fatty thing a day is more than enough so I will try and cut back on that.  I have also enjoyed 2 glasses of red wine each day this weekend, which won’t help with weight loss either.  But it was all very tasty and lots of plant foods so definitely not all bad.

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A Blog From My Cosy Bed

What a day!  Trains were delayed on the way in to London and on the way home and I was extremely busy all day at work.  So after a very long day, I got home at 8:30pm and decided to go straight to bed.  So hello from my cosy bed 👋

On the plus side, every day worked is money earned, I did have the company of my cousin Bruce on the way in to London and I did manage to stick to eating not only vegan but also healthily.  No black tea, no coffee, no crap.  Just good quality nourishing food and not too much of it.

Breakfast was almost a case of déjà vue of yesterday’s : 2 papayas, a mango and some black grapes.   
 I bought lunch in Pod today which has a good range of takeaway dishes and they helpfully mark up which ones are vegan which is so helpful.  I bought the ‘Energising GYM BOX’ with an extra pot of falafel and edamame as the gym box is quite small.   It contains humous, falafel, broccoli, pearl barley, green lentils, dal, shredded cabbage, carrots and a mango dressing.  It was really good.

 I didn’t really have supper. I ate 2 apples in the office late afternoon and 2 more on the train on the way home.  The pod lunch kept me feeling full.  Mind you, I didn’t get round to lunch until about 3:30 so that probably had more to do with me not needing supper.   

 I am ending today early, in bed with a large mug of camomile tea.  Good night .

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Vegan Junk Food

Food today needed to be kept simple.  I was tired today after a bad nights sleep but I was very busy so apart from breakfast which I took to work, I ate convenience food.

 Mango, papaya and black grapes for breakfast.  Sweet, juicey and really yummy.  

For lunch I went to Chipotle, a Mexican fast food eaterie, located conveniently close to the office.  I usually order this ‘Veggie Bowl’.  You have various choices as you fill your bowl: brown or white rice, brown or black beans, vegetables or grilled meats etc.  I had brown rice, brown and black beans, roasted peppers, mild tomato salsa, sweet corn salsa, guacamole and lettuce.  Plus a side of tortilla chips.   I ike the brown bags the food is served in, rather than plastic.This does make a  tasty and easy lunch with a good variety of veggies and plenty of flavour We had soup for supper, half the pot each.  Yes, from a pot rather than homemade but tired people who work full time have to cheat sometimes.   

 With hot dogs !!  Harvey loves frankfurters so I was interested to try these to see how they compared.  We were both very impressed.  Some vegan substitutes, mainly the ‘cheese’, is nothing like the real thing.  But these hot dogs were actually very good.   

We had them in a wholemeal wrap with mustard, ketchup and fried onions with a mug of lentil soup


I am not claiming this is health food but it is much healthier then the fat filled made from the corpse of a murdered animal alternative.

Sipping a mug of camomile tea now and planning an early night.

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Vegan Snacking

Doesn’t Monday come round quickly?  I do wish we could have a 3 day weekend so I could have a day to myself at home.

I was well organised for eating healthily today and did well with my eating but was too busy to do any exercise.  I didn’t even go out at lunch time which is one disadvantage of taking your own food in.

 Breakfast was a mango and an orange with …  A bunch of grapes.
For lunch I had a huge bowl of salad.  Tomatoes from the garden with cucumber, carrot and celery on top of roasted peppers, brown basmati rice and the salsa I made yesterday from avocado, tomato, red onion and sweet corn.  I really enjoyed this and will make it again.
 Supper was really easy too as it was left over rice and the lentil, spinach and ginger curry I had made yesterday. It is so nice to come home and have dinner ready and just waiting to be heated up.  I also added some steamed carrots and peas, to pack in more veggies and to make the portions bigger as we both felt hungry.

  I did have two snack attacks today.  This afternoon at work I felt peckish so I had an apple and some popcorn.
 Harvey wanted ice-cream after dinner so I made some!  This was lovely and was all natural.  Frozen bananas, cocoa powder, coconut and some almond milk.  It did taste like chocolate and coconut use-cream and Harvey couldn’t believe I hadn’t put any sugar in it !  

I also resisted coffee and tea and instead drank water and herbal tea today.   I am very pleased with how I ate today and just need to try and make sure I do the same again tomorrow plus some exercise.

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A Bike Ride And Walking

this morning I did something I have not done at home for a very long time – I went on a bike ride!  The Little Fella and I were up and out early and on the road by 8 am.  We wanted to go early to avoid the traffic.  What a lovely morning it was and just perfect for cycling as it was sunny and bright but not too hot.  The scenery and towns looked charming and we both really enjoyed our bike ride and intend to do it again.

Back at home I prepared breakfast.  Neither of us had eaten earlier and we went out cycling with just water inside us so we were hungry.  While I prepared breakfast I had a mug of green tea and a banana.

I made myself a smoothie with 3 frozen bananas and lots of frozen berries with some Cavolo Nero and sea greens and I made Harvey a pancake using a vegan recipe from’ The Happy Herbivore’.   
Mine was like ice cream and Harvey really enjoyed his too.
    Going on a bike ride was good exercise for us but didn’t do much for the dogs so after breakfast we took them over the road for a walk.  Enthused by the earlier bike ride, Harvey came over on his bike.  Unfortunately he managed to get a puncture which cut the walk short but we all enjoyed the walking we did do.

Back at home it was time for a relaxing bath and a large cup of tea.  I made some more lemongrass tea which is just lovely.  The scent and appearance are wonderful and it tastes so clean and fresh. Really good.
  For lunch I made a Madha Jaffrey recipe with lentils, spinach and lots of ginger.  I also added some tomatoes from the garden.  My tomato crop just keeps on giving this year.
  I added these 2.  I have never grown plum tomatoes before but I will do them again as they seem to have done really well.  Served over brown Basmati rice, this was an excellent lunch
    We went to the cinema this afternoon and watched ‘The Walk’ in 3D.  It’s the true story of the chap who walked on a high wire between the twin towers in New York in 1974.  I could hardly bear to watch!  I failed to resist the sweets and feel really disappointed with myself. 😥😱

A simple supper of roasted peppers and potatoes, humous, a salsa made with avocado, sweet corn, red onion, yellow tomato and green chilli and later some bread sticks to use up the humous and salsa.  Yummy.  

I am really pleased with the amount of exercise I have done this weekend and I made time to relax which has done me good.  I ate loads of very nutritious food  and have had no black tea or coffee – hurrah.  If only I hadn’t had those sweets I would be sitting here polishing my halo.  I must do a bit better.  It is hard but I can and I will do it.

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