20

The Ultimate Veggie Sandwich

I am SO happy that it is finally eating outside weather! I often dream of living somewhere where it’s warm enough to eat outside most days of the year, like California (although I think this might be a “grass is greener” type of dream, since I’m only ever in hot countries when I’m on holiday and  it’s okay to spend 80% of my time reading by the pool.) It feels so good to sip lemonade with the sun on your back. To celebrate what seems to be the beginning of the British summer, James and I made my favourite sandwich and ate it in the garden. It features guacamole (avocados are quickly becoming my favourite food) grilled mushrooms and a big helping of hummus – yum! Here’s how 🙂

Ingredients: 1 small loaf of freshly baked bread, 1/2 carrot, 1 avocado, 4 or 5 mushrooms, 2 tomatoes, a handful of olives, hummus, chilli sauce, salt and pepper 1/2 lime and some balsamic vinegar.

Grate your carrot, and slice your olives into halves.

To make the guacamole, mash a ripe avocado with a fork, and stir in a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Chop up the mushrooms and fry them in a little oil until soft. Chop the tomatoes and add these along with two teaspoons of mixed herbs and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Cook on a low heat until the tomatoes have softened.

This is the chilli sauce that James and I eat with everything. Since cooking together my spice tolerance has improved a lot! This stuff is rather hot, and a bottle doesn’t last us very long!

To assemble the sandwich, spread guacamole on one half of the bread, followed by a layer of grated carrot and a drizzle of chilli sauce. On the other half of the bread, spread a generous layer of hummus, some olive halves and a spoonful of tomatoes and mushrooms. Squidge together and you have the best sandwich ever!

Crisps and lemonade are not optional. Who said vegan food was boring? Here’s to many more meals in the sunshine!

11

Vegusto, A Review

Last month when I first became vegan I mostly ate fresh veg with bread, potatoes or rice, apart from snacks. This month I’ve been experimenting with vegan dairy and meat substitutes! Vegusto are a fairly new company well-known for their vegan cheese although they also do snacks, drinks, vitamins, pet foods and meat substitutes. I was so excited when they sent me a goodie bag full of food to review since I was on the hunt for a good vegan cheese!

Vegusto Review / Jessthetics12The first thing I tried was this Mushroom and Cheese burger. I fried it for a couple of minutes and ate it with tomatoes, extra cheese and chilli sauce! I was pleasantly surprised – it was thicker and firmer than I thought it would be and it was very mushroomy! To compare, it was similar to a Quorn beef burger (which are not vegan), but with more flavour!

Vegusto Review / JesstheticsVegusto Review / JesstheticsI fried the Farmhouse Style Sausage for a couple of minutes and ate it with mash, gravy and cauliflower cheese. Similar to the burger, the sausage had a firm meaty texture. It also had a strong smoky flavour which I wasn’t so keen on, but James loved it! It’s definitely the chunkiest Vegan Sausage I’ve come across.

Vegusto Review / JesstheticsVegusto Review / JesstheticsWe used the No Moo Melty Cheese to make an enormous vegan pizza! This is my favourite meal that I created using Vegusto products. I grated one half of the cheese under the veg and the other half on top. The cheese wasn’t as melty as I thought it would be, but that might be because we put it under the grill. This cheese has a very mild flavour and is the most similar to other vegan cheeses that I’ve tried –  it was lovely on the pizza and would be nice in lasagne and moussakka but it’s not similar enough to cheese for me to eat it by itself. Although, James said he would buy this again.

Vegusto Review / JesstheticsVegusto Review / JesstheticsThe two Vegusto hard cheeses are hands down the nicest vegan cheeses I’ve ever tried. I swear you wouldn’t know that it isn’t real cheese! This No-Muh Aromatic cheese tastes like a medium cheddar and I ate it with apple chutney on a panini. I would eat this cheese by itself straight from the fridge, or on crackers! It cut like real cheese and it was crumbly like cheddar too, with a tangy flavour.

Vegusto Review / JesstheticsVegusto Review / JesstheticsThe No-Muh Piquant was also lovely. This cheese is my favourite! I ate it on top of a panini and grilled veg, and it is most similar to a mild parmesan. It’s more crumbly and has a stronger flavour than the No-Muh Aromatic but I would also eat this cheese straight from the fridge.

Vegusto Review / JesstheticsVegusto Review / jesstheticsDid you know that most dark chocolate is vegan? Now you do! This coconut and raspberry dark chocolate is no exception, and I enjoyed this with a cup of tea and an episode of Buffy 🙂 The sweetness of the raspberry really cut through the bitterness of the chocolate and the coconut was a nice crunch, although the coconut flavour didn’t stand out.

Don’t forget that you could win all of these Vegusto goodies and more by entering my giveaway! Have you tried any vegan meat, cheese or chocolate products?

9

Veganuary – Five Favourites

I’ve been thinking about becoming vegan for a long time. I would be happy to eat eggs and drink milk from animals which I knew were happy and well looked after but the majority of the time that’s not the case or there’s no way of knowing, and since I’m a vegetarian for ethical reasons, becoming vegan makes sense. Plus, it’s good for the planet! I’d been putting it off because it sounded unpleasant (no cheese?!) and also difficult. I thought it would be hard or expensive to buy food at the supermarket and in restaurants. Me and James started veganuary when we moved back to York because it’s a good way to try out veganism without the commitment. I decided I would still eat my Christmas chocolate, and for now we both eat vegetarian meals in restaurants if there’s no vegan option. I believe it’s better to make changes like this gradually!

I’ve actually had a lot of fun cooking vegan food, and I’ve never felt hungry or restricted. In fact, we’ve been trying so many things, I’ve rarely eaten the same thing twice! I thought it would be fun to share with you my five favourite meals from January, and an overview of what we’ve been eating.

1. Sunday Roast! We ate nut roast, roast potatoes, mustard parsnips, broccoli, veggie sausages and lots of gravy.

veganuary 1

2. Peppered Tofu Steak. We baked and then grilled the tofu and ate it with sweet chilli sauce, grilled peppers, burger buns and a green salad.

veganuary 5

3. Quesadillas (recipe from Oh Dear Drea). We ate these with some avocado and vinegar.

veganuary 2

4. Burritos with veggie chilli. We spread vegan cream cheese on the tortillas and it was so tasty!

veganuary 4

5. Quinoa burgers (recipe from Delciously Ella). We ate these with home-made french fries, mushy peas and fried mushrooms (not a healthy combination but a tasty one…)

veganuary 3

For breakfast, we’ve been enjoying alpro yoghurt, fruit, maple syrup, and granola with vegan pancakes and cinnamon bagels on the weekend. For lunch I’ve been eating a lot of bagels with hummus, vegan cream cheese, tomato and basil or guacamole and James has been eating salads with pasta, rice or cous cous. For dinner, as well as my favourites we’ve been eating lots of curry and noodles, soup, pie, risotto, tapas, tacos and grilled vegetables.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! I’m definitely going to be vegan into February and beyond! If you’re still feeling nosy about what vegans eat my blogger buddy Laila wrote a brilliant post about food (here).

12

Environment and Ethics

I spent yesterday writing a new page, “Environment and Ethics” for the blog. Go and check it out! I just wanted to explain to you what it’s about and why I’ve introduced it. I use this blog to share my creative projects – I talk about food, clothes and DIY – but there’s another aspect of my life that’s been absent thus far. I spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to act towards reducing my negative impact on the world (and maybe even having a positive impact!) I don’t want my actions to cause harm to other people, animals, or the environment. Many of my beliefs are a product of the thinking I did during my Philosophy degree. See, Philosophy is a practical degree after all!

robin hood 1

Dressed in all vintage

I dream of working in the environment sector one day, but I also try to make a difference by altering my lifestyle. For example, I’m a vegetarian, I try not to support shops or companies who treat their employees badly, and I reuse and recycle where possible. Lots of my clothes are second-hand, and lots of my projects recycle old materials. I’ve come to realise that these two parts of my life –  my creative side and my commitment to living ethically and sustainably – are not all that separate. So much of what’s involved in making ethical and sustainable life choices requires creativity, and so many DIY projects have a positive impact! I’ve realised that this blog is a wonderful place to talk about ways to make one’s lifestyle more ethical and environmentally friendly.

Jam Jar Lanterns 3Making laterns from recycled materials!

So, there it is. I’ve created the Environment and Ethics page to highlight projects that are ethical and environmentally friendly. I had been worried about writing this page – I don’t want to sound preachy, or worse, like I think I know everything. Jessthetics is a place (hopefully) for sharing and inspiration, not a place for guilt or judgement! I am not always good at following my own rules, there are some things I’m not so sure about (I’ve kept my topshop/primark/leather clothes for example, even though I wouldn’t buy them from new anymore), and there are plenty of issues (probably more than I realise) that I’ve not even thought about. But all I can do is do my best! The introduction of this new page will document what I learn, and I hope you’ll stick around for the journey.

environment and ethics 2Making vegan pancakes!

P.S. Please let me know what you think! You can comment here, or feel free to drop me an email (jessthetics@gmail.com)!

4

Flavoured Water

In case you haven’t heard, we’ve been having a heatwave in England. Even with the recent thunderstorms, it is super warm. I don’t drink enough water at the best of times, let alone when there’s a heatwave! I made myself some flavoured water, and consuming water is now a whole lot easier. I’m not sure if it’s better for you than normal water but it is tastier, and that’s what matters.

You will need:
Any sort of fruit (except bannana.) Citrus fruit works well, as does cucumber!
A tray or two of ice cubes

Step 1: Chop up your fruit and veg, and muddle it (bash it with a spoon) in your jug! I used lemon, orange, cucumber and melon but in the fututre I’d like to try either cucumber by itself or lemon and orange.

flavoured water 1

flavoured water 2

The thermometer proves how hot it’s been. The photo was even taken at 5pm.

Step 2: Pour in your water and ice cubes and leave the jug in the fridge for an hour or two.

That’s it, simple! I think flavoured water would be really fun to have at dinner parties – the colouful fruit makes it look really classy 🙂 When you’ve finished your jug you can just keep on topping it up with water throughout the day.

flavoured water 3

flavoured water 4Cheers! I hope you’re enjoying the summer if it’s summer where you are. I’m enjoying spending some time with my boyfriend in the north east (we’re getting through season one of Buffy pretty quickly, I’m hooked) and trying not to think about the fact that I’m a graduate!

6

Mexican Eggs

I find it really hard to make lunch exciting sometimes, which is why I love this recipe so much. It’s exciting, tasty and quick to make!  I have adapted the recipe from one in this cookery book. It’s quite a hot recipe, so if you’re not good with spice, use less chilli!

mexican eggs 1

You will need:
3 eggs
1/2 a pepper
1 chilli
1 jalapeno
1 tortilla
1/2 a bag of salad
Mixed herbs

mexican eggs 2

Step 1: Chop up and fry the jalapeno, chilli and pepper. When they’re soft, crack the eggs into the pan, and stir until they’re cooked.

Step 2: Whilst the eggs and vegetables are frying, slice up the tortillas into strips and fry them in a pan with a little oil.

mexican eggs 3

Step 3: Place the fried tortillas on your plate, and season the egg mixture with salt, pepper and mixed herbs. Then place a handful of salad on top of the tortillas and spoon the egg mixture on top.

Enjoy with salad dressing or chilli sauce!

mexican eggs 4

Much better than soggy sandwiches, don’t you think? What are your favourite lunch recipes?

2

Kiwi and strawberry pastry

I am not very good at eating fruit. I always buy it, promising myself that then I will eat it, but I end up snacking on crisps instead! This means that I often find myself with a lot of fruit to use up. This easy fruit pastry is a great way to use up a lot of fruit quickly, and it is SO tasty and summery! You could swap the kiwi and strawberry for bannanas, peaches, mango, whatever you like 🙂

kiwi and strawberry 1
You will need:
A punnett of strawberries
3 kiwis
Honey
1 tbsp dessicated coconut
1 packet of puff pastry
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp ground almonds

kiwi and strawberry 2

Step 1: Chop up your fruit, and roll out your puff pastry so that it is rectangular.

Step 2: Spread out the fruit on your puff pastry, drizzle over some honey, and sprinkle on the coconut, sugar and almonds.

kiwi and strawberry 3

Step 3: Bake in your oven on 180 degrees, or until the edges turn crispy.

That’s it! Serve up with a dollop of cream or ice cream.

kiwi and strawberry 4

Maybe in the future I will be better at eating fruit, or maybe i’ll just give up and make lots of fruit pastries instead. This counts as healthy, right? Have a wonderful day 🙂

2

Everything Tacos

Did you know that tacos are traditionally made from soft bread, not those hard shells you get in supermarket taco packs? You probably did, but this information is new to me! I have recently fell in love with Warburton’s square wraps. I’ve been eating too many regular tortillas recently, and the square wraps are the perfect thickness for tacos. They remind me of the bread used in greek gyros wraps – yum!

I’ve called these everything tacos because you can (and should) put everything in them. This is the perfect way to use up leftovers!

everything tacos 1

For my everything tacos, I used two fillings, creamed corn and gujarati cabbage.

For the creamed corn, you will need:
1 onion
1 potato
1 chilli pepper
200ml single cream
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
500g frozen sweet corn
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

For the Gujarati cabbage, you will need:
1 red and 1 green chilli pepper
1 cabbage, shredded
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tbsp ground almonds
100g peanuts
1tspn cumin
1 tspn mustard
1 lemon
pinch salt
pinch pepper

Square wraps

Optional: Hot sauce for dressing

everything tacos 2

Step 1: To make the creamed, corn, begin by taking the sweetcorn out of the freezer to defrost. Then chop the potato into cubes and boil in a pan of water. Whilst the potato is softening, fry up the onion and the chilli pepper.

Step 2: When the potatos have boiled and the onion has softened, put the potatos in the pan with the onion and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the sweetcorn, cream, and seasoning and leave to simmer for five minutes. Then your creamed corn is done!

everything tacos 3

Step 3: To make your gujarati cabbage, chop up the cabbage, and fry this in a little oil with the chillis for about fifteen minutes. When the cabbage has softened, stir in the mustard and the rest of the dry ingredients and leave this to fry for another five minutes. Lastly, squeeze in the lemon and stir.

everything tacos 4

To serve, warm up a couple of the sqaure wraps, and spoon in the creamed corn and gujarati cabbage. If, like me, you like to eat a lot of chilli, then add some hot sauce! Try to eat these without spilling any on yourself… it’s a challenge! The great thing about everything tacos is that you can freeze the fillings and save them for a day when you don’t have time to cook. Although the ingredients list looks long, you can cook these with just the basics, or you can improvise with whatever you have in your kitchen.

everything tacos 5

Happy cooking!

0

How to Cook with Tofu: Marinade

When I first became a vegetarian, I did not like tofu. I thought it was tasteless, with a weird soggy texture. I’d even been served tofu in a nice restaraunt and that was gross, so I thought there was no hope for me. I was never going to like tofu. But I was wrong! When cooked right it can be really yummy. It’s not particularly difficult, you just need to remember a few top tips.

Tofu Marinade 1

My personal favourite way to cook tofu is to marinade it. This way it picks up all the saucy flavours. This is my recipe for marinated tofu, but you don’t have to follow it exactly. Once you have the basics, you can use any sauce, and any veggies that you like.

You will need:
Sticky Plum Sauce
Teriyaki Marinade
Black Bean Sauce (I would usually substitute all 3 of these sauces for a sticky teriyaki marinade sauce but I couldn’t find any in the supermarket so I decided to experiment with this combination instead. I think it worked well!)
Tofu!
Veggies (I used 1 onion, 1 aubergine, a handful of baby tomatoes, half a yellow pepper, and half a green pepper)
Rice or noodles
Soy Sauce
Vegetable Oil for cooking
Spices to taste (I used a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and a generous shake of chinese five spice)

Tofu marinade 2

Step 1: Most tofu requires some draining and some firming up first. (If your tofu says “firm” on the box then you can skip this step!) Your family / housemates will think you’ve gone crazy, but trust me, it’s worth it! Open your tofu packet and drain the excess liquid. Then wrap your tofu in a clean tea towel and sandwich it in-between two chopping boards. Place something heavy on top, and make sure that it’s sturdy! You could use a heavy frying pan or a big book. I used a radio. Leave for 2 hours. If you’re in a rush, you could leave it for half an hour, but the longer you leave it, the nicer your tofu will be.

Tofu Marinade 3

Step 2: Make your marinade sauce. I mixed half a bottle or teryaki marinade with two tablespoons of the sticky plum sauce and a small shake of soy sauce. If you want to make your own marinade, a combination of ginger, garlic, chilli, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil is lovely.  Lightly fry the tofu, and then put it in a dish with the marinade sauce. Leave for 2 hours in the fridge. Again, you could leave it for half an hour if you’re short on time, but the longer you leave it the better. Overnight is good! If your sauce doesn’t cover your tofu, make sure to turn them over every now and again.

Tofu Marinade 4

Step 3: Fry your veggies, and then add the tofu and sauce. If you didn’t make much marinade, make up some more to use as sauce. At this stage I added the jar of blackbean sauce. Heat through, and then serve on top of noodles or rice.

Tofu Marinade 5

And that’s it! It might take a bit of forward planning, but it really is a tasty and easy way to make dinner. I hope you enjoy 🙂 What are your experiences with tofu like?