Christmas Treats

At this time of year, the treats are everywhere and whereas I try to eat very healthy during the year, I have to admit that I do appreciate and indulge in the not so healthy Treats at Christmas time.

I recently baked this lovely black and white Cake that isn’t necessarily a Christmas cake, but I added the Christmas Spices to it to make it just that.

It was quickly made, is very yummie and can be frozen should you not eat it all at once.

I found this recipe in a book that was given to me by a friend a couple of years ago. The original version is using Soy yoghurt but as I am not a fan of the taste of Soy, I used Coconut yoghurt as an alternative and added a bit more starch to the mix.

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do and have fun baking it!

Recipe:
Preheat the oven at 200 °C
For the dough:

150 gr flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Cocoa
1 pinch of Salt
1/2 Tsp Christmas spices
70 gr vegan Butter
3 Tbsp plant based milk (I used Almond)

Mix all ingredients together (I do this by hand) and roll out with a pin roller to fit into a 28 cm cake tin. Leave approx. 1/4 of the dough to cut Stars (or else) with a cookie Cutter

For the filling:

60 g vegan Butter at room temperature
90 g Sugar
90 g ground Almonds
75 g Starch (I used Potato Starch)
1/2 Tsp Vanilla or mark from 1 Vanilla pod
1 pinch of Salt
grated Lemon zest from 1/2 Lemon
1 pinch of Cinnamon (or to taste)
1 pinch baking powder
500 g plant based  plain Yoghurt

Mix the vegan Butter and Sugar until foamy, add all the other ingredients until you have a smooth consistency.
Add the mix into the baking Tin, place the Cookies on top and bake for approx. 45 Minutes or until golden brown. I covered the cake for 30 mins in the oven and without for the remaining time.

And now enjoy!

 

New Vegan products

I am always delighted to see new Vegan products in the regular supermarkets. My local one (Sainsbury’s) has a new Vegan range in the fridge section. I tried two of these and there were really good!
Whereas I am normally not a “ready made” buyer, I am of course glad to have things like these available as I am a single working mother.
I ate these with Houmous and self made Ketchup. They easily go with Salad as well or as part of a dish with potatoes and veggies.

If you are in Britain, look out for these.

 

 

 

A Vegan Christmas

As the Advent is drawing close and Christmas only a month away, I started my traditional biscuit baking. I love baking and have changed many of my old recipes from the times when I was a Vegetarian to the Vegan version.
My favourite biscuit is traditionally called “Spritzgebaeck” and I bake the recipe that my mother used converted into the Vegan version. I also inherited her old device and it gives me some nostalgic times when using it as my mother sadly passed away in 2004.

This recipe is close to a Shortbread and can either be roll pinned and used with cookie cutters or, as I do it, form them into the shapes that gave them their name “Spritzgebaeck”.

You can certainly use a different flour or sweetener but as I have no experience with that, you might have to go through some trial & error :).

I hope you enjoy making and eating them as much as I do! I store them in a glass container to keep them fresh and they are actually super yummie for weeks.

Here is the original recipe changed to the Vegan version:

500 gr     plain white flour
250 gr     sugar
250 gr     vegan butter
replacement for 1 Egg
50 ml plant based milk

Combine the ingredients (I do this by hand!) and form into a ball which should rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Bake the biscuits at approx. 190°C for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Enjoy this super treat!

 

Vegan Deco

As Advent time is drawing closer and we already see Christmas Decoration everywhere, I thought I would give you an idea of what my vegan Deco looks like.
We still do the traditional four candles for each Advent Sunday before Christmas. Sometimes I use a traditional wreath made of Fir branches, sometimes I take a more modern approach.

This year we decided to go for four different colours for the candles. To do some decoration on them I simply used things I found outside while running or going for a walk and old strings that I always keep when I buy something. So almost free Deco!

I am really looking forward to this time of year. So far up north the days are short in winter time and candles and fairy lights essential.

My next blog will be about Christmas biscuits! I already started to bake them and they are a super yummie treat! Keep an eye out for new blogs 🙂

 

 

 

Fashion and being a Vegan

I am a runner, I love my workout, being outside, clearing my head and feel alert and active.
As a Vegan it is easy to buy cruelty free Sports Outfits. Most textiles are of non animal origin as those are supposed to be best when working out.

When it comes to your day-to-day clothes or going out, things are different. Obviously most shoes are made of leather, so are many handbags or wallets. Wool it used in many clothes for the Winter months and coats often have “fake fur” attached to the Hoodie.
Fake fur often is fur from dogs and cats. Not many people know this, so check the labels. Only if the fur is labelled as synthetic, it really is.

Now again, it is up what kind of choices you would like to make when it comes to your lifestyle.

In the past 10 yrs the only Vegan shoes I found where “plastic” shoes. So how about the footprint of CO2 while those were produced? What happens after I don’t wear them anymore and throw them away? How long will it take for them to dissolve? And: Do I want plastic on my feet?
In the past years, I have seen some companies coming up with a solution to this issue. There is now plant based “Leather”. One company uses Pineapple Leaves, the other Mushrooms. Their product looked really nice! Unfortunately I have not seen any of this in the UK, so I am waiting for this to develop.

Buying woollen products seems to be a big concern as well. Whereas cutting off the wool will not hurt a sheep, it is again the raising of the animals and the abuse often involved in this that is the problem. Especially wool from Australia seems to be produced under horrific circumstances.
In Scotland we do have sheep, lots of sheep. If you live here or have ever been to the Highlands and Islands, you will see them walking around in the hills, fields and lying on the streets. They are marked with a spraying paint so all the shepherds will know which sheeps is whose. On the Isle of Skye I have seen sheep taking over the streets 🙂
And some of them rubbed off chunks of their wool as if “naturally” shaven.
Scottish sheep are only shaven in the summer months and there is no big temperature difference here (like in Australia). You might even be able to watch people do it when you pass by (I once came across this on the side of the street).

 

The issue with Leather is most certainly that it comes from mass produced animals. Also the production of leather involves many chemicals which the workers (in Turkey for example) are exposed to and produce toxic waste.
Again, there are sensible approaches. Some companies (like El Naturalista) try a different approach and there was a company that would only use leather from naturally deceased animals. A friend of mine has two handbags that are made out of old leather seats from the car industry.

What I would recommend when it comes to fashion: Do your research, try to make the amends you would like to do. You can buy second hand, you can buy Eco Fashion, you can buy from companies that offer great transparency when it comes to their products (also in terms of human exploitation like the factories in Bangladesh).
Follow your path as you want to and can afford. Maybe less fashion that is good and ethical high quality is better than having too much?

 

 

Travelling in Germany

Travelling in Germany as a Vegan is a walk in the park! The Vegan lifestyle had a boost in the last 10 years and you will find many shops, Cafés or Restaurants catering for Vegans.

If you are on a budget or in self catering accommodation, those (organic) supermarkets will offer a huge Vegan variety:

Denns
Alnatura
dm

You will find that supermarkets like Aldi, Lidl, Edeka, real etc. also offer a Vegan range.

Almost every Café will have a Vegan / Gluten Free option and being a travelling Vegan in Germany is no problem whatsoever! Whereas you’d be looked at as if you were an Alien 15 yrs ago, asking for Vegan options, it is very common today.

I am just travelling in Germany and went to a very ordinary, big Café / Restaurant today and found a Vegan Burger on the menu. I completed it with a self made Blueberry / Pomegranate Ice tea and had a most delicious meal.

There will be areas of Germany where being a Vegan can still be tricky (Bavaria or East Germany for example) but places like Berlin, Cologne and Dusseldorf are very Vegan friendly.

It is great to see how the Vegan market has grown!

 

 

A true Vegan?

When you embark on your journey to become a Vegan, the starting point very often is food. Cutting out all things Vegan is a challenge for some people and an easier switch for others. I have met people who were Vegan for a while and switched back to being a Vegetarian or Omnivore. They all have their own reasons, sometimes excuses more like, but in the end we all make our own choices.

Of course Veganism isn’t solely about Food. It is about exploitation of animals, health views or environmental impacts.
From my experience, people who started a Vegan journey would, straight away, or more often after a while, also look into different areas of their lives to make amends towards a Vegan lifestyle.
Animal content is almost everywhere. Animal testing is still a big thing in today’s industry, the Cosmetical and Pharmaceutical.

After I made the transition in the things I ate, I went into my Cosmetics and made changes there. Then in terms of household cleaners, washing liquids etc.

Fashion is another topic. What do you do with everything you already own? All your shoes, your feather beds? Your wollen Coat?

Again, it is your choice and yours alone. If you throw away all those things, no animal is saved or helped as you already own and use these things and might have done for some time.

In my early years of becoming a Vegan, I often was confronted with this question by (mostly) non Vegans. In some heated debates I was accused of not being a “true Vegan” if I wasn’t giving up everything the other person considered I had to give up.

I am and always was of the opinion that there is not such thing as a “true” or “right” Vegan or a “correct” way of being one.
When you are Vegetarian, people are very flexible in what your options are. You can eat fish or not, eat eggs or not, eat dairy or not.
As a Vegan, you do have the same choice. It is solely up to you of how far you want to go with all things Vegan in your life. You can go as far as asking yourself if the company owner you buy your products from is Vegan himself or his employees or do you support someone who isn’t?

It always comes down to: YOU.
You have made the choice for yourself for your own reasons. No one is the judge of why and how you follow this decision. You might falter in between, you might not. You might “only” follow a Vegan diet. You might go down all the road and not even use a car as you might kill insects on the motorway.
Whatever your choice, follow it with your whole heart. Make amends if you need to, make amends if you want to, but never make amends because of other people’s expectations.

I once heard an interview with a Vegan Chef, confronted with the statement that Veganism was only a fashion. His reply was:
“The animal doesn’t care why it is not being killed.”

And they don’t.

So be happy, be the Vegan you want to be, in the way you choose 🙂

Vegan Pancakes

On Sundays I often make Vegan Pancakes as they are easy to make, I usually have all ingredients in the house and my son loves them.
To replace eggs I use “Veganegg” which is a powder. It can be used for Scrambled Eggs or Omelette as well – personally I only use it for baking. It binds the ingredients together and gives them a yellow-ish colour.

So here is my recipe for Vegan Pancakes (serves 2)

110 gr. Self rising Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Pinch of Salt
Veganegg (please see instructions on the package of how much to use – 1 used 1 Tbsp)
175 ml Almond Milk
Sunflower Oil or Coconut Oil

You simply place all dry ingredients in a bowl, add the Almond mil and whisk them thoroughly together. When using Veganegg, you will smell some sulfur, that is normal 🙂

Preheat a frying pan with the oil, place half of the pancake mix into it, fry for approx. 5 minutes then turn around for further 3-5 minutes. Depending on your hob (electric or gas) it might take longer or shorter.

Top with your favourite jam, marmalade or simply Maple Syrup or any other Syrup. I used Raspberry jam today.

Now enjoy!

Lazy Sunday

As autumn is now on our doorstep, the days get colder, the wind picks up and the green turns into yellow, gold and red. I love autumn!
It also means we stay inside longer and the drive to do something might fade. There will be days when the world outside is grey with clouds and rain or we had a party the night before and feel like having a lazy Sunday.

What I do on those days is just taking it easy, do what I fancy doing, which normally is reading, knitting or listening to music. I am also lazy in the kitchen on those days 🙂

One of my favourite Breakfasts or Brunch is the “Tomato-Avocado-Sandwich”. So easy to do. Just slice up some tomatoes, crush some Avocado, Pepper & Salt – done!
Super tasty, quick to make and healthy as well.

As you see, there are super easy ways to eat Vegan without any hassle or long preparations.

Sunday often is Pancake Day – I will soon give you my pancake recipes! Keep following 🙂

Food to go

I will be travelling again soon by car and ferry and already tried to get my head around what food I need to take with me. But today I saw this in my local supermarket. Really happy as sometimes it is necessary to have an “quick & easy” meal.
I am not a fan of ready made food as some of you might have gathered already, but there are times when the options are limited. Maybe you go camping or you just recover from a bad cold or flu and are not back to shape to be in the kitchen yet.

All of those are Vegan and 12 p go to a good cause (Farm Africa). If it were organic, it would actually be perfect!

I have tried other brands as well and liked them. It’s very easy to add your own Veggies or spices and make it a bigger meal, if you’d like to.

So now I am taking my small kettle with me and will have a nice meal when taking the ferry without paying a lot of money 🙂

I don’t know if this product is available outside of the UK, it is made by a UK producer and I found it in Sainsbury’s. So you might have to do a wee research if it is available in your area.