Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Top five vegan recipes: part one

Meeting The Boy has changed my life in all sorts of ways, but probably one of the most immediate impacts has been on my kitchen.  I've always loved cooking, but meeting a vegan has meant I've had to change my ways somewhat.  Coincidentally, at about the same time I met T, I was diagnosed with IBS (for which one of my main triggers is dairy), which posed the problem: what's a keen cook and baker to do when suddenly a whole host of ingredients are denied to her?  Find new recipes, of course!

Over the last year, I've become a lot more experimental in the kitchen; having to cook vegan food has been a fun challenge.  I've also had some not-so-great experiences (a fairly terrible apple cake springs to mind).    For me, the best vegan cooking is food that you don't even notice is vegan.  And here are some of my top five recipes which definitely fit the bill.

 Photo via weheartit
American-style pancakes

A breakfast favourite, the addition of fruit lets us fool ourselves that it's healthy.  I think these are easily as good - if not better and lighter - than non-vegan pancakes.

1 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Add the soy milk and oil slowly, stirring until it is all blended into a smooth batter.
3. Lightly oil a pan and heat on medium.  Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the pan and cook until bubbles begin to form on top.  Flip, and cook on the other side until brown.
4. Keep the cooked pancakes warm on a foil-lined plate, and return briefly to the pan to warm through properly before serving with sliced bananas or blueberries and lashings of syrup.

Tex-Mex is probably one of my favourite things to make at home, and when I first met T I was worried about whether I'd still be able to continue eating chillis, fajitas, enchiladas, and nachos.  Of course, with meat substitutes like soy mince (of which there seems to be a shortage at the moment; Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsburys all having empty freezer compartments), soy 'chicken' and tofu, the main bulk of a Tex-Mex meal is easily done vegan-style.  But what about the trimmings?  Sour cream is obviously out, as much for my IBS as for his veganism, although we've found a fabulouse vegan cheese to replace cheddar.  However, almost all mass-produced guacamole contains yoghurt or cream.  And that's where this homemade guac comes in.  Easy to make in ten minutes, it keeps well in the fridge, and tastes so good that you'll never go back to store-bought again.

1 red chilli, partly deseeded
Small red onion
Two very ripe avocadoes
The juice of a small lime
Large clove of garlic
Salt, to taste
Small tomato (flesh only) - optional

1. Whizz the chilli, onion and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.  If you are using tomato, whizz this in the processor too.  We have begun to leave it out recently as it doesn't seem to add much to the overall flavour.
2. Scoop the flesh from the avocadoes and mash in a bowl with a fork.
3. Stir in the chopped vegetables.
4. Squeeze in the lime juice and add salt, to taste.

Photo via The Ethical Chef
Lemon cake

I found this recipe on The Ethical Chef, and absolutely love it.  For very little effort you get a deliciously light, tangy and tasty cake.  We found it very sweet with the amount of sugar suggested on the website, so cut it down a little in this version, which works just as well.

275g self-raising flour
150g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
100ml vegetable oil
170ml cold water

1. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and zest into a bowl and mix well.
2. Add the oil, lemon juice and water and mix until combined thoroughly.
3. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake for around 30 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean) at 200c/gas mark 6.
4. When the cake is cool, make a glaze from 150g icing sugar and the juice of a second lemon (or, at a push, bottled lemon juice).


  1. Wow, thanks for posting these, I may have to make all of them! I'm not supposed to be eating dairy either (although I do eat it more than I'm meant to, and suffer the consequences!) so I'm always loking out for dairy-free recipes that actually taste nice.

    1. I still eat it too! Funnily enough (and luckily enough, cos I love it) cheese doesn't affect me too badly, but cream, ice cream, butter and milk are all really bad for my IBS. I can heartily recommend these recipes - they're so tasty you'd never know they're dairy-free.