Wrapped in Newspaper


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Hazelnut & Chocolate Truffles

I haven’t eaten any chocolate for three months. Surprisingly I’ve not really missed it – except for the occasional craving. However, Easter is fast approaching, really quickly actually, and there is no escaping the fact that usually around this time of year I would be consuming my body weight in easter eggs. Oh boy, I love easter eggs! So, I’m going to need my fix. I found inspiration for these bad boys via Top  with Cinnamon and Rawsome Vegan Life  (awesome blogs fyi) and came up with this version below.  The nuttiness of them reminds me of a Ferrero Rocher. Perfect to eat yourself or to give as an easter gift.

Vegan Chocolates

Vegan Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Truffles

Easter chocolates

Hazelnut & Chocolate Truffles
(Makes about 20)

100g Hazelnuts
200g Dates
200ml Water
100g Oats
50g Almonds
2 tbsp Nut Butter (I used almond)
3 tbsp Raw Cacao Powder

Toast the hazelnuts in a pan on a high heat for a few minutes, tossing regularly so they don’t burn. Leave to cool.

Roughly chop the dates and add to another  saucepan along with the water, bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes. Leave to cool.

Roll the cooled hazelnuts around so their skins come away and then blitz in a blender (or roughly chop).

Toast the oats (in the same pan the hazelnuts were toasted in) for a few minutes. Add the chopped hazelnuts.

Chop the almonds and add to the oats along with the cacao powder and nut butter.

Add in the dates and mix thoroughly. Shape into balls and leave to set in the fridge.

As simple as that! Happy Easter.

Veronica x


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Sprouting lentils and a sprouted lentil stir-fry

I love growing my own food and I’ve never let the fact that I live in a flat with no garden or balcony hold me back. In fact, normally my growing season goes something like this:

Dream up a list of extravagant things I can grow on my window sill.
Make my boyfriend lug a huge bag of organic compost across town to our flat.
Fill every surface in my flat with pots, troughs and window sill boxes.
Tend to my seedlings lovingly.
Get an invasion of tiny flies and or aphids.
Resist getting rid of my crops and live with an infestation of insects akin to a biblical plague.
End up with a handful of cherry tomatoes, half a salads worth of salad leaves and not enough basil to make pesto.
Sit back in the autumn and admire my success and resourcefulness…

Yeah, not so great.

So this year I’ve decided to start off at a slower pace and sprout some lentils.

what you need to sprout lentils

I had never really considered sprouting lentils as growing my own food. I guess theres no soil involved which, on the plus side means no flies! But sprouting lentils at home is cheap and easy, requires very little equipment and even littler space. It’s definitely the easiest place to start when it comes to growing your own food.

Sprouted lentils are also really good for for you, having a higher vitamin content when sprouted and they are also more easily digestible. All you will need to sprout your own lentils is a glass jar, a piece of muslin, string or an elastic band, a sieve or fine colander and of course some lentils.

sprouting green lentils

How to sprout lentils

I like to sprout 100g at a time as they should be eaten within a few days once they’re sprouted. I find that this gives me enough to make a main meal and have some left over to throw into a salad.

100g green lentils

  • Thoroughly rinse the lentils through a sieve and pick out any stones.
  • Place the lentils in a clean glass jar and cover with water (preferably filtered) by a least double.
  • Cover with a piece of muslin, leave for around 24 hours out of direct sunlight, then drain off the water and rinse them again. Place them back in the jar and cover.
  • Rinse them twice daily for around 2-3 days until tender pale shoots appear.
  • Once the shoots are 1cm or so long, place the jar into the fridge and use within a few days. Remember to keep rinsing the lentils daily once stored in the fridge.

sprouting lentils

soaked lentils

sprouted green lentils

Its amazing how such a small amount increases to a full jar of sprouted lentils in just a few days. You can see mine have just started to go green at the ends which probably means I should have got them into the fridge about half a day earlier than I did. Not to worry as they will still taste great either cooked or raw.

I think they make a great addition to a salad when raw, packing a tasty, crunchy protein rich punch. They are also great when cooked and one of my favourite ways to use them is a stir-fry.

Sprouted lentil stir-fry

Serves 2

100g brown rice (or you could use noodles if you prefer)
100g sprouted lentils (roughly half of the jar you sprouted)
4-6 chestnut mushrooms
50g cashews
A mixture of seasonal veg. I used:

  • 1 medium carrot
  • Half a leek
  • Spring greens

2cm piece of ginger
2 cloves garlic
Small bunch of coriander
Juice of half a lime
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice mirin
1 tsp coconut oil

  • Cook the brown rice as per your packet’s instructions, usually for around 40mins.
  • Whilst your rice is cooking prepare your seasonal veg. I like my carrots thinly sliced, my leeks roughly chopped and my spring greens finely shredded.
  • Crush your garlic and finely chop up your garlic.
  • About 15 mins before your rice is ready, heat up a wok or large frying pan to a high heat. Add your cashews to the pan and dry fry them until they start to brown, stirring regularly to make sure they don’t burn.
  • Whilst toasting the cashews, in a separate pan start to fry the mushrooms in a little oil on a medium-high heat until the water has reduced away and they begin to brown.
  • Once the cashews are nicely toasted, place in a bowl and set aside.
  • Add the coconut oil to the wok and add in the carrot and leek.
  • Stir vigorously to prevent sticking for 2-3mins, adding the mirin and 1 tbsp soy sauce. If the vegetables are starting to catch on the bottom of the pan just add a few splashes of water and this will create some nice steam to help them cook whilst preventing burning.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, spring greens, and sprouted lentils to the wok, mix through and then add another 1 tbsp soy sauce.
  • You only want the vegetables just cooked so once I’ve added everything in I serve up the rice and then return to the wok adding the lime juice, cashews and roughly chopped coriander.
  • Stir everything together once more and pour onto the rice immediately and spoon over the fried mushrooms.
  • Serve with an extra slice of lime and a drizzle of sesame oil if you fancy.

sprouted lentil stir-fry

Amy x


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Roasted Beetroot Risotto

Risotto

 

I was in Venice last weekend – enjoying all things Italian – my Anti-Candida Diet had to go out of the window for a few days as there was no way my willpower was strong enough to say no to all things pizza, pasta and prosecco. But now I’m back on it!

Here I am 10 weeks into my Anti-Candida Diet and I have turned a corner! I have come out of the dark hole that I found myself in for the first few weeks (maybe even a month). Life is all good again and I have made some decisions, life changing decisions.

One thing that I have definitely noticed since doing this diet is how much weight I’ve lost. I have never been overweight, and as a child there wasn’t an ounce of extra fat on me, I was one of those annoying people who could eat and eat and it never showed. In fact I was called anorexic and ripped apart because I was thin – kids are so mean. During my twenties my weight creeped up, I had a handful of flab on my belly and a few extra chins that I was conscious of, I think I did weight watchers once but soon put any weight I lost back on. The weight loss has been a bit of a bonus really as that wasn’t my aim at all.  I have been doing a lot of research around sugar and realising just what damage it does to our bodies. My giving up sugar also coincided with a surge of media interest in the dangers of sugar and how it is the new danger food. I’m not one to usually take much notice of this stories but I have come to realise just how much sugar I was consuming. I’m not just talking the obvious sugary foods here I’m talking bread, yoghurts, sauces, cereal bars – just normal stuff. If you look at your average food consumption and start reading your labels you’ll see how much you are eating too. Pretty crazy. No wonder we are all sugar addicts!

So, back to those life-changing decisions – after this diet is technically over which I think is in about 2 weeks time (that’s right I’m not even counting down the days) I’m not going back. I will be welcoming natural sugars back into my diet, but refined sugar is a thing of the past for me! That’s not to say I will never let it pass my lips with the occasional treat, but there is no way in hell I’m going to let myself become so dependent on that white stuff again.

Anyway, here is a italian inspired dinner for you.

Roasted cauliflour risotto

Roasted risotto

 

Roasted Beetroot Risotto Serves 4

Time to make: 1 hour

250g Pearl Barley
3 Beetroots
1 Cauliflower
2  Leeks
Thyme
Vegetable stock
Chard
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil

Heat the oven to 180C, put a drizzle of olive oil in a baking tray and heat in the oven. Meanwhile, wash the mud off the beetroot and bring to the boil in a saucepan and leave to simmer for ten minutes. Chop the cauliflower to the size you would like it. Place in the oiled tray and stir to cover with the oil, add a couple of cloves of garlic, a sprinkle to thyme and place the drained beetroot in the tray too. Place in the oven and roast for 40-45 minutes – you may need to remove the cauliflower early so that it doesn’t burn.

Whilst that is roasting, soak your pearl barley in cold water for a few minutes and rinse. Make up about a litre of vegetable stock using boiling water. Put the pearly barley into a saucepan and cover with some of the stock. Bring to a gentle simmer, as the water gets soaked up gradually add more stock. The pearly barley will take about 40 minutes to cook, keep adding the stock so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped leeks and chard half way through, season with salt and pepper, add a couple of teaspoons of thyme. Once all the stock has soaked up, it should be ready.

Once the beetroot is roasted, take out of the oven leave to cool slightly and peel the skin using a knife, chop the beetroot to the size you would like, stir in the cauliflower to the risotto. You can add the beetroot to the risotto now or you can add it as you plate it up, depending on how pink you want yours to look.

n.b I used leeks and chard as they came in our veg box this week, you can use any veg you have in your supplies.

Enjoy your italian inspired risotto

Veronica x


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One year and counting

March marks my first veganniversary. Yes, I’ve done it, 26 years an omnivore, 1 year a vegan. I know I’ve got a long way to go to balance out that ratio but I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the choices that led to my first year of a plant-based, cruelty-free lifestyle. And yes, we want to offer you all some more reasons to try out our new years resolution number three, eat less meat and dairy. Don’t think we’d forgotten : )

IMG_3487

Whilst rescuing these lovely lasses was indeed the catalyst for my change in lifestyle, it was by no means the full story. Sure being vegan would mean I’d have a clean conscience when it came to animal suffering but what about the environmental consequences of eating more foods such as soya and could I really justify kicking up such a fuss about animal cruelty but turn a blind eye to issues such as labour exploitation?

I think in the end there were three factors in my decision making; compassion, the environment and lifestyle. Lately, health has also come into play as a factor. I hope by that sharing a bit more about these four things you can get a better understanding of exactly why I feel veganism is right for me and maybe it’ll answer some of the doubts you have about eating less meat and dairy or choosing a plant-based, cruelty free lifestyle.

sugar-free cake

What!? You mean this cake isn’t enough to make you want to be vegan? Yes its vegan! Ok fine, I’ll explain…

Compassion

When I look at that picture of our rescue hens, I don’t see some chickens, I see Rosie, Gwen, Ivy and Ruby, four different personalities, four completely different chickens. I guess in much the same way you might think about seeing your dog or cat amongst other dogs and cats. We view them as individuals, as beings in their own right.

So when I had the realisation that I could get to know an animal I used to eat and when I discovered the health problems they suffer because they have been selectively bred to produce eggs at a rate that their bodies can’t cope with, how could I go on supporting a system of farming and exploiting animals. I couldn’t.

We’re all aware of the awful conditions some animals are kept in and there’s no denying that low or higher welfare animals all have the same fate, being raised and killed for our consumption. But there are also millions of ‘waste’ animals killed each year whose lives aren’t valued because they have no commercial value, such as calves and male chicks. Even higher welfare dairy cows have their calves taken from them and if lucky, the calves are raised for veal. The mothers then call out and cry for the loss of their baby, before being made pregnant again in only 60 days. I wouldn’t say being made pregnant time after time only to have each calve taken from you shortly after its birth is high welfare. Would you?

In this day and age, I have access to an enormous array of food and products which means I can easily get the nutrients I need and the products I need without the need to farm or kill any animals. So why wouldn’t I choose a compassionate, cruelty free life?

The Environment

Protein. Yes where do vegans get it from, the question everyone likes to ask me. Well, things like nuts, seeds, grains, lentils, pulses, including the array of soya products such as tofu and tempeh. I’d heard some bad things about soya that had made me think twice about going vegan knowing that I would probably rely on things like soya milk in my diet, so I set about doing some research.

I found that I needn’t really worry about the environmental impacts of soya production as a vegan because 80% of the worlds soya production is used for animal feed!  But that’s not to say I’m ignoring the issues of deforestation surrounding soya production. Soya based foods only make up a small amount of my diet and as with all my foods I always buy organic when possible so that I know that I am not willingly contributing to unmanaged deforestation and environmental damage from pesticides.

With or without soya in your diet its hard to argue with the fact that plant-based diets require about one third of the land space and water usage than an average western diet that includes meat, eggs and dairy. For me it was clear that the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet made veganism a great choice.

Lifestyle

I felt I would be a bit of a hypocrite to use my consumer purchasing power to show my rejection of intensive animal farming and not do the same in other aspects of my life. So I decided that if I was going to go vegan I was also going to do the best I possibly could when buying anything, to make sure it is as ethical a choice as it can be. Now I try to consider the welfare of animals and people, the environment, and a fair economy and society when making purchases.

I switched from shopping at supermarkets, to shopping at local shops and buying locally grown veg from a community-led social enterprise. I stopped buying clothes in high street shops that couldn’t guarantee the conditions of their workers. I switched to a green electricity supplier. I changed my bank. I upped my recycling game and chose products with less or no packaging. And I set up this blog to share these choices and hope that others might be inspired to do the same.

Health

I have always considered myself to have a fairly healthy diet but when I lost a few pounds after going vegan I started to realise just how much saturated fat I have cut out by choosing a healthy, plant-based diet. But of course being healthy isn’t about losing weight really, it’s about nutrition and fitness. It was when Veronica was diagnosed with Candida overgrowth and when my Mum read a book about treating and reversing her osteoporosis that the saying, you are what you eat really dawned on me. I’ve been inspired by other peoples stories on blogs such as Deliciously Ella, The Alkaline Sisters and A House in the Hills, and by films such as Hungry for Change and Food Matters.

Being vegan for only a year I have realised the health benefits of a plant-based diet. I am now pushing it one step further by eliminating as many processed, refined foods as possible and am looking forward to reaping even greater, long-term health benefits.

Looking back over this past year I feel I have made some incredible changes to my life that are benefitting my health, animals, people and the planet. Any regrets about going vegan? Only that I didn’t do it sooner!

Amy x


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Date and Carrot Cake (sugar-free)

First things first, you may have noticed we’ve undergone a bit of a make-over here on our little blog. We’ve brightened things up a bit (with a little help) and added some new navigation tabs to help you find your way around the blog and our archives more easily. We are so enormously grateful to our friend Carly (creator of kids brand Corby Tindersticks) who has produced these lovely illustrations for us. Don’t worry she’ll get a slice of the cake! Speaking of cake…

sugar-free cake

I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading around healthier eating these days. This has been partly due to Veronica’s anti-candida diet but also our Mum’s modified diet to help with her osteoporosis. So whilst this recipe is not a direct manifestation of either of those diets, it is never the less inspired by thoughts of trying to steer clear of processed foods. And by processed I don’t just mean turkey jetters, I mean things like sugar (gasp) and margarine (gasp, gasp!).

In true Wrapped in Newspaper style, a quest to move away from processed foods will not mean going without cake! Being vegan won’t stop us and nor will anything else!

So behold a, bordering on, healthy cake! Packed with fruit and veg and iced with nuts, you can feel pretty happy with yourself for having a second slice of this one!

vegan date and carrot cake

Vegan, sugar-free date and carrot cake with cashew icing

280g wholewheat flour
200g chopped dates
140g raisins
50g grated carrot
50g chopped walnuts
250ml water
100ml orange juice
1 tbsp + 2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp mixed spice

For the icing:
75g cashew nuts (soaked in cold water for a few hours or overnight)
100ml almond milk
100ml melted coconut oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp agave syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract

  • In a saucepan, combine the water, dates, raisins and spices and gently bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the grated carrot and leave the mixture to cool.
  • Once cooled, stir in the walnuts and orange juice.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  • Pour the fruit mixture into the flour and stir until combined.
  • Bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes in a lightly oiled 8″ cake tin, until a knife inserted into the cakes centre comes out clean.
  • Remove from the cake tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Whilst the cake is cooling, prepare the cashew nut icing.

  • Drain the cashews and place into a blender with the almond milk, lemon juice, agave syrup and vanilla extract.
  • Blend to a smooth, creamy consistency.
  • With the blender still running, slowly pour in the coconut oil until combined.
  • Pour into a bowl and place in the fridge to set to a thicker consistency.
  • Once the icing has thickened and the cake cooled, spread the icing over the cake and top with chopped walnuts.

cashew nut icing

vegan cake

date and carrot cake

vegan carrot cake

vegan cake

Amy x


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Bees welcome!

The British Beekeeper’s Association is promoting a lovely approach to beekeeping this year that is all about the forage! They say that even though we all want to be beekeepers, we can certainly all be ‘keepers of bees’ by planting the right plants as sweet, yummy forage habitats to welcome bees into our lives.

As a newbie beekeeper who is unsure about keeping bees of her own in London, I‘m a huge advocate of the keeper of bees approach. Its widely accepted that bee populations have dropped in the UK because they have a suffered a huge loss in habitat over recent decades so more forage habitat is much needed!

IMG_1827

Ideal bee feeding habitats are flower-rich grasslands and clover fields but unfortunately these have been disappearing in the UK due to changes in agricultural practices and intensified land use. The majority of farmers use industrial practices like monoculture where vast areas of one crop are grown year after year instead of using traditional methods of crop rotation where land is purposefully left covered in wildflowers like clover. Crop rotation was great because clover was used to feed the horses working the land but also was excellent forage for pollinators such as bees!

However, awareness is now growing for the need to re-establish bee habitats and its lovely to see wildflower meadows springing up in public parks like this one in London Fields I photographed in the summer last year …

Not only do they look great but they also smell amazing … by September you could really smell the nectar given off by the flowers as you walked past so it must have been like heaven for a bee in there! Over the summer we spotted lots of honeybees, bumblebees and butterflies visiting this patch … even in chilly November there were a few brave honeybees out for some last sips of nectar!

So to join the effort, today I made my task as a keeper of bees to make use of the free packets of wildflower seeds I’ve accumulated over the last year and get sowing a little wildflower patch!

Now that the soil is warming in this beautiful spring weather, it is the ideal time for wildflower sowing. The seed mix I’ve used contains a blend of cornflowers, wild red clover and field poppies. Last year I haphazardly sowed the same mix too close together and it all got a bit messy. This year, with thanks to LBKA and Groundwork for a crash course in wildflower meadow planting last weekend, I’m hoping for a slightly neater result!

wildflower seeds

The key is to prepare topsoil nicely with a rake, sprinkle the seeds evenly across it (the amount I have here is enough for about 4 Square Metres) and tread them in well so they don’t blow away. Remember to give them a little drink of water after sowing too. So hopefully in a few months this patch I’ve sown will be alive with wildflowers.

Also thanks to my brother for the sign … I’m really glad the bees will know they’re welcome to enter the patch ; ) 

Bees Welcome

So if you fancy becoming a keeper of bees then get your paws on some wildflower seed and get sowing. Maybe if you have a big lawn in need of some colour, give a patch up to some wildflowers? I like the look of this website who [very importantly] say their seeds are pesticide and insecticide free … http://beefriendlyseeds.com/our-products/

Happy beekeeping : )


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Spring is here!

Spring has finally sprung! I think it has to be my favourite month of them all. Those long dark days are slowing stretching out, flowers are starting to come to bloom, leaving home in the morning in the light, the smell of the air changing and the promise of bank holidays on the horizon. January and February are miserable months, but March is a big game changer!

Last year I didn’t exactly plan out the whole year at the allotment and so I didn’t end up having a winter crop. But this year I’m on it and now is the time to get organised in the growing veg stakes, working out what I’m going to grow, where and when.

I visited the allotment this weekend, to check out what state it is in after winter. I gave part of it a little dig over, pulling up the weeds and remembering how tiring digging is.

photo 5-34

photo 4-28

photo 1-33

In the next month I will be getting next years winter harvest sown, planting some cabbages, broccoli and onions. I’m planning more than just courgettes and beans this year!

If you don’t have an allotment you can get some things sown in pots. I sowed some lettuce leaves. At this time of year it is still too cold at night to leave them out, so cover them with cling film and leave in a cold frame or on your window ledge. Once the overnight frosts have disappeared they can go back outside.

photo 3-31

I also planted some herbs for our kitchen window sill. Using herbs in your cooking grown from seed provides a little more satisfaction than buying those pots from the supermarket and is cheaper too! If you are a total novice to gardening this is your perfect starting point. Just get some compost and seeds (such as coriander, basil, parsley), sow them and keep them well watered. These could do with a little cling film over them to help them germinate. It is honestly as simple as that!

photo-28

photo 2-34

photo 3-33

 

Enjoy growing your own!

Veronica x

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