Hi! I’m Claire, a vegan who likes cooking - quelle surprise! ‘Well I’m vegan and I hate cooking!’ - I hear some of you say. Yeah, I suppose, not all vegans necessarily like cooking, but I am making the ignorant assumption that there are more than a few of us who fell into veganism partly due to a love of cooking.
Before I allow you all to believe I’m about to present you with haute cuisine, I must warn you, my style is anything but. I am a home cook and not a chef with je ne sais quoi - ok, I have no idea why all the French phrases?!
So, like many others, I began my path to veganism after watching a YouTube video - namely The Best Speech You Will Ever Hear by Gary Yourofsky. It’s probably a little out of date now, being over 10 years old, but it posed questions I had never contemplated. I already had an interest in the environment and like a domino effect, one video lead to a documentary, which lead to a book, which lead to a website, which lead to investigating doctors, environmentalists and eventually activists. I started to follow animal rights activists online and this led to me viewing some pretty horrific footage of the lives of the animals we eat, consume their products or use for our convenience. My mind was blown. This all happened just over 2 years ago.
I guess the most surprising part of my story is that I am the daughter of a cattle farmer. My next-door neighbour was a dairy farmer. My brother-in-law is a dairy farmer. In fact, the whole community is made up of predominantly farmers. Without rambling on (which I could easily do here at this point), I still, to this day wonder why I just accepted a man called the ‘A.I man’ to come round to the farm as being normal. [This is the person who brings collected bull semen to a farm and injects it into a restrained cow]. So, without question, I am vegan solely for the rights of innocent beings that suffer horrifically every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day at the hands of humans. I am still finding my way. I have tried activism, but I don’t know if I’m a very good communicator on this topic as I want to tell everything all at once…..and there’s a LOT to tell! This is such a huge passion of mine; it consumes most of my thinking. So, this has led me to meeting Heather and discovering Love Gang.
Anyway, enough about me, and let’s talk about the grub. Being Irish, fine dining is not exactly how I’d describe my cooking. Rough and ready is definitely my cooking and photograph-taking style; sorry not sorry!
Crowd-pleaser sweet potato curry
This is, without doubt, my most requested dish. The spice that tells it apart from other curries is the cinnamon. You don’t necessarily have to like sweet things to like this curry. The cinnamon just gives it a bit of a twist and another dimension; without sounding like a complete cheffy w***er. Who do I think I am?
I always struggle with the oil measurements now that I’m writing for others to read and follow a recipe. I don’t really like to cook with much oil to be honest. I try to avoid it as I don’t like greasy things. My preference is to put olive oil on at the end of cooking actually. This is especially nice to do with cold or warm salads.
You could leave the pot cooking for longer at the end if you please to make it more flavoursome.
Serves: 4/5 Time: About an hour total
2 medium-sized/ 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces.
½ a butternut squash, peeled and chopped like the sweet potato
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chilli powder/flakes
1 tbsp curry powder
2 large red peppers sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
1 large red onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed or sliced
1 tin of coconut milk
Juice of ½ a lime or the full thing (your choice)
200g fresh spinach
200g peas (optional)
Preheat the oven to 240ºC (220º fan)
Put the butternut squash and sweet potato on 1 or 2 trays for the oven. Sprinkle all the spices on top. Add salt and some pepper if you like. Shake them about to mix the spices well. At this point, I’d throw a splash of oil on top - coconut or olive.
Roast them in the oven for about 35 minutes. Add the sliced peppers after 15 minutes. Once they are all cooked you can take them out and leave to the side.
Put a large pot on a medium heat with about a tablespoonful of coconut oil. Add the cumin seeds and peppercorns. Cook until they start to pop (less than 1 minute - be careful not to burn them).
To the large pot, add the red onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and cook for about 15 minutes - add the lime juice in the last 5 minutes.
Add all the roasted veg to the pot and cook for 10 minutes. Add the spinach and the peas in the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
Anyone who knows me, knows of my obsession. It is, without doubt, the best breakfast to be had. So healthy and filling, with endless ways of varying the taste. Some make their porridge with plant milks. That’s fine, of course, but I don’t. I find the more you stir the pot, the creamier the texture is naturally. So here’s my take:
Ingredients for 2 servings:
2/3 fist fulls (yes, you heard me) of jumbo oats - feel free to tip in a bit more if you fancy it
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp flaxseed
200ml water (plus more if you want)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Fruits of choice: Figs/raspberries/blueberries/strawberries/persimmons... (I usually go for what’s in season)
Nut of choice: walnuts/almonds/pecans/cashews/sunflower seeds...
- Pour the oats, both types of seeds and water into the pot.
- Put it on a low heat. (At this point, I jump into the shower and start to get ready for work)
- Stir as often as you can between the 10/15 minutes it cooks. The longer you leave the porridge, the creamier the texture.
- Add water every now and then as it cooks to your preferred texture.
- Add the cinnamon any time after 10 minutes of cooking or so.
- Pour into a bowl and now comes the point where you make the dish interesting.
- You could top with:
- Caramelized bananas (fry bananas in a pan with some agave syrup).
- Mixed berries
- Coconut/soy Yoghurt
- Protein powders
- Mixed nuts
- The list is endless…………………….
- My choice today: persimmons, blueberries, plum and walnuts.
The longer you leave the oats cooking, with as much stirring as you can, the creamier and tastier the oats are. Add as much water/plant milk as you like bit by bit. Also, nutritionists have differing opinions on how we should consume flax seeds. Some say they need to be ground up before eating and others say they should be soaked. I grind mine a little and then as the oats are cooked for so long, I consider that to be the part of the soaking time.
Honestly, I could go into much more detail on this recipe, but I may worry some folk about my strange obsession with my favourite breakfast!
Splash of olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
Large pinch of salt
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chilli powder/flakes
4 large tomatoes, chopped
500g dried lentils, washed
1 tin of coconut milk
- Put the oil in a large pot on medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the chopped garlic and salt. Stir everything together and allow to cook for 2 minutes.
- Add all the spices and stir the contents of the pot.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and stir so that the spices mix well with the tomatoes.
- Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the lentils and stir everything again.
- Finally add the tin of coconut milk. Turn up the heat and bring the pot to the boil.
- Once boiled turn the heat right down and allow the pot to simmer and cook slowly for at least an hour. You may need to add water every now and then in case it dries out.
- Serve next to some rice. Add avocado, soy/coconut yoghurt if you fancy. Cilantro to finish off - y ya está - that’s it! (Bit of Spanish for the Indian-style dish??!!)
Go-to black bean burger:
So easy, so hearty, so delicious. You can use tinned black beans, but these are hard to come by in Málaga for me. So, I use the dried ones and soak them overnight. Some may find that a labour of love; and it is exactly that for me! The positive to doing this is I find them less gassy than the tin – your significant other/family/furry friends will be grateful. This recipe can make a very large batch of burgers - depending on the size of each one. It could be anywhere from 8 to 15 burgers! You decide.
1 Red onion, peeled and cut into ¼’s
2-3 cloves Garlic, peeled
400g Black beans, (from a tin: washed and strained, if dried: soak overnight and cook for roughly 50 minutes until the desired texture)
Fist-full of oats
150g mushrooms, finely chopped
Spice it how you like:
1tsp chilli powder
1tbsp curry powder
1tsp smoked paprika
To dress per burger:
1 or 2 slices of tomato
Some iceberg lettuce/rocket
Slices of cucumber
Sweet potato wedges/burger bun
- The black beans should be already cooked and have cooled down.
- Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix everything well - spices included.If you have time, it’s always good to allow the spices to develop in the mixture so let it sit for a while - even just 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Add the contents of the bowl to your blender and make it blendy blendy! Depending on the strength of your blender, you may need to do this in batches.
- Form patty’s of your preferred size.
- Add a splash of oil to your pan and put it on a medium heat.
- Fry the burgers for about 10 minutes in total. If you want to put a lid on, it speeds up the cooking time and helps cook more throughout.
- Serve the burgers how you like with any of the dressings above.