Cruel is not cool! Clarks, we want vegan kids’ shoes!

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Every year, parents around the country prepare for the back-to-school shoe-shopping mission to Clarks! After all, they make good quality shoes and they’re fitted by expert staff… it’s a winning formula. But, even in 2016, there still isn’t a single leather-free option for kids’ school shoes in Clarks.

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Maybe it’s because we have put up with it so far. The company says it doesn’t believe that there is ‘widespread interest in these products’. Well, let’s tell them that they’re wrong!

Today thousands of parents have to choose yet again between animal-sourced leather shoes or those cheap alternatives elsewhere (that won’t last and will give their kids sweaty feet).

I am vegan and my children have been vegan all their lives… but their shoes are not! And I’ve got many friends who have to make this ‘unhappy compromise’ every single year!  We know we are not alone.

Please sign and share this petition to show Clarks (and their competitors) that there is a market of keen and willing consumers out there. Let’s work together to get a good pair of animal-free shoes into the shops by next summer!

The petition is already gathering support! Please click here http://bit.ly/VeganKidShoes

Thank you!
Lots of love,
Chava

Here are some of your comments:

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CAKE. VEGAN. YUM

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Every family needs a go-to cake recipe! Here is ours…

Banana Walnut Cakes

Maybe you’ve remembered the school’s cake sale at the very last minute, you may have visitors drop in at short notice, need a Mother’s Day treat or just fancy something sweet and lovely…

In my family there’s banana cake! I could honestly not tell you how many times I’ve rolled out this recipe. Some days I add cocoa and dark chocolate chips. On other occasions it may be dried cranberries and apricot pieces. Blueberries and lemon zest inside with vegan cream cheese frosting on top…. Endless variations!

Whenever there are a couple of bananas in the fruit bowl that start to get a bit over-ripe, covered in specks of brown, my kids know the telltale signs. “Mum, are you making banana cake soon?”

I first shared this recipe in my column for Vegetarian Living. This month I’d love to bring it to the kitchen table for National Vegetarian Week (16th-22nd May).

Happy sharing, happy baking, happy eating!

 

Banana Walnut Muffins
Makes 12

2 ripe bananas
60g soft margarine
140g brown sugar
pinch of salt
100g self-raising white flour
70g self-raising wholemeal flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp water
chopped walnut pieces (optional)
Mix the flax seed and water and place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

In a large bowl mash the bananas finely with a fork and combine well with the margarine, sugar and ‘flax egg’. Add a pinch of salt, the flour and bicarbonate and mix to a smooth dough. Add chopped walnuts and spoon into a lined muffin tray. Bake at 180˚C for 25 minutes.

TIP: Instead of the flax seeds you can also use an alternative egg replacer, e.g. Orgran’s No Egg.
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How about you? What are you all-time favourite veggie/vegan family recipes? You know the ones I mean… those with the most stains in the cookbook, those that evoke happy memories and the recipes that are so much loved that they will still be cooked by your children and grandchildren.

Lots of love,
Chava x

 

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Work with me? I’d love to hear from you.
Keep in touch via Twitter (@flavourphotos) or Facebook
and look out for more scrumptious food photography here: www.flavourphotos.com
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NEW Alpro Fromage Frais

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Great new dessert from Alpro – in Sainburys for just 50p!

Just a super quick post to tell you about these delicious little pots. DSC_0178

They come in three flavours, blackcurrant, mango and passion fruit. I spotted them in Sainsbury’s yesterday on offer for 50p.
The texture is gorgeous! Really thick and creamy, like strained yoghurt. So far I’ve tried passion fruit and it’s a lovely combination of flavours and textures.
Each pot contains around 120 calories and 11g sugar. Compared to their other fruit yoghurts that’s less sugar but 11g is still just under 3 teaspoons! Personally I would save them for an occasional treat… but how cool to wander into a shop and pick up an indulgent vegan dessert!

Have you spotted these already in other shops? If you’ve tried them already I’d love to know what you think.

Lots of love,
Chava

The All Day Vegan Breakfast Muffin

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Imagine you could just walk into any Starbucks, Costa or Subway and get a really fabulous range of vegan nosh!

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During the last 12 months many of the major restaurants and retailers have responded brilliantly to the ever-increasing demand for decent vegan choices…
Choosing vegan really has never been easier! And companies don’t just do this out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s because we, as customers, have shown that there is a growing demand. So, pat yourself on the shoulder… because you’re part of this change!

Now, you may be aware that today, April 1st 2016, there’s been much talk of Starbucks increasing their vegan options – big time. Tony Bishop-Weston has been playing April Fools tricks to raise awareness on a large scale.
Please don’t be too disappointed that there’s still some work to do! Let Starbucks, Subway and their competitors know that we do want to see so much more vegan choice on their menus. Twitter, Facebook, emails… all great ways to let your voice be heard.

I wanted to create this scrumptious muffin picture to show just how many amazing vegan products are easily available in the shops now. For today, let me share the recipe for this mouth-wateringly gorgeous Breakfast Muffin with you.

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The All Vegan Breakfast muffin

Serves 2

2 vegan muffins (e.g. Sainsbury’s own. Check ingredients)
dairy-free margarine (e.g. Pure, Vitalite…)
1 tomato, sliced
watercress
a really good chutney
2 slices of violife cheese
4 slices of vegan bacon or hickory smoked Tofurkey
2 vegan ‘egg’ patties (from the Vegan Recipe Club)

To make the vegan patties blend all of the following ingredients until smooth:
90g silken tofu
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 heaped tbsp chickpea flour (aka gram or besan flour)
1 heaped tbsp cornflour
pinch of smoked paprika
pinch of Himalayan ‘black’ salt (for a slightly eggy flavour) or sea salt
1-2 tbsp aquafaba (chickpea brine)
1 tsp olive oil

Add a little oil to a non-stick pan, make two patties and gently fry them until golden on both sides.

Toast the muffin and spread with a little vegan margarine. Place an ‘egg’ patty on the bottom half of the muffin, top with a piece of vegan cheese. (I placed mine under the grill for a minute to warm the cheese)
Add some chutney, vegan bacon or savoury slices, tomato and watercress. Top with the other muffin half and enjoy… with a big smile on your face and a soyaccino!
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Check out a few other ideas with some of the best vegan alternatives on the market…

Sausage Bap with Vegusto Farmhouse sausage, Violife cheese, tomato and ketchup. YUM!
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Ciabatta roll with lettuce, vegan coleslaw, red onions and Farmhouse sausage…
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Wraps with Deli Sandwich slices (Vegusto), tomato, red onion and mixed leaves.
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If your business needs bright and beautiful photographs/recipes I’d really love to help and make your products stand out!
Find more scrumptious, vegan food photography here: www.flavourphotos.com

Lots of love,
Chava

 

Top ten tips for perfect VEGAN meringue

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There’s nothing like a good challenge to ‘veganise’ a classic dessert. If you love meringue and don’t eat eggs you’re exactly in the right place.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Most of you will know that I put together the recipe pages for Viva!Life magazine. There’ll be an exposé of the egg industry in the spring issue. Surely it’s fitting to include really ‘eggy’ and very egg-citing vegan recipes… Yes, there will be an amazing cheese and onion quiche, omelette and the holy grail of vegan desserts: Lemon meringue pie. Phew, sounds easy when you write it down like that😉 Well, we had talked through the ideas, my mission was set and I was prepared to accept it!

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As soon as Tony (Wardle from Viva!) mentioned Lemon Meringue I knew my feature was going to be all about Aquafaba! Essentially, Aquafaba (or liquid gold as I like to call it) is the liquid you drain from a can of chickpeas. It’s the strange stuff we’ve always poured down the sink in the past because… well, why wouldn’t you?! Somewhere, someone very experimental came up with a completely random idea though: ‘Hey dude, why not whip up that stuff? Never tried that one before!’ And the rest, as they say, is history! The process has already changed vegan cooking, baking and dessert making…
Today’s post is all about my hits and misses with using Aquafaba on my path to meringue success! Hopefully it can be your guide and will give you all the info you need to get started.

For vegan meringue you will need:
100ml aquafaba (unsalted chickpea water)
1 tbsp lemon juice
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

A good food processor or electric whisk

Put the chickpea liquid in your mixing bowl and whisk, whisk and whisk some more.
Some brands whip up faster than others but basically you just keep going until you end up with fluffy white clouds (like the picture below). It really is quite magical!
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My steps looked like this:
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after five minutes

Vegan meringue10
after 10 minutes

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after 15 minutes – add the lemon juice

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after 20 minutes

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after 23 minutes – time to add the sugar. Slowly, one teaspoon at a time.

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And voila, a big bowl of fluff.

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Transfer the meringue mixture into a piping bag and get piping.

Line a baking tray with non-stick paper and pipe small circles. Bake at 100˚C (200˚F) for two hours! I know it seems like forever but basically it dehydrates the meringue slowly. You’ll be left with amazing crispy, pavolova-type meringues that melt on your tongue.

Meringue drops

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My Top Ten Meringue Tips (for perfect Lemon Meringue Pie):
1. Don’t stop whisking the Aquafaba too early. When you’re finished you should be able to turn your mixing bowl upside down and nothing will slide out. Patience really is one of the key ingredients in this recipe.

2. There are different ways to help ‘stabilise’ your meringue. I’ve tried cream of tartar. Apart from the fact that you probably have to buy it especially, I also found that it adds a slightly tangy flavour to the meringue. Lemon juice seems to do the trick for me.

3. The sugar is really needed! (I think we can all agree that meringue is not health food.) There are websites that explore the chemical explanations and how the sugar and proteins build the structure in meringue.

4. Moisture and humidity are your enemy when you’re making meringue! I left a batch of meringues on the kitchen worktop while I was cooking pasta. They started to absorb moisture from the air and got sticky and chewy.

5. Heaped mountains of meringue in a large diameter don’t seem to work as well. Anything over 10cm in diameter and I’d rather not risk it. The middle can get soggy and collapses…  a real disappointment after 1.5 hours in the oven.

6. After a couple of hours in the oven, switch it off, open the door and let the meringues cool down fully. Place them in an airtight container until you want to use them.

7. The meringues are ready when they come off the baking paper easily. If you try to take one off and it still feels gooey they need more time in the oven.

8. For my Lemon Meringue Pie recipe, I prepared the meringue topping separately by piping small dollops in a large circle shape. (The bottom of the tart tin makes the perfect size guide.) Once baked I placed the meringue on top of the chilled pie just before serving. That way, if your first meringue attempt doesn’t turn out perfectly, you’ll still end up with a delicious Tarte Citron. Also, make sure that any tart filling is completely chilled first. If it’s still a tiny bit warm the ‘steam’ will melt away the lovely, crispy topping. (Yep, I’ve tried that!)

9. Individual tarts with smaller diameter work really well too. Maybe I’m just biased. I love mini desserts and anything that’s an individual serving. They’re just so photogenic! Because you need to eat a meringue-topped dessert on the same day, individual servings are useful too.

10. And finally, there are two different types of meringue toppings. The crispy, melt-in-your-mouth variety and also the fluffy topping that’s not dehydrated but instead soft and creamy. Take your pre-prepared lemon pies. Scoop some of the meringue straight from your mixing bowl and top the pies. Place them under a hot grill and watch like a hawk! You definitely don’t want the tops to burn so don’t answer the phone, don’t try to take a photo, don’t even turn your head for a second…  ;-) When the tops are a lovely golden brown quickly grab the pies and let them chill in the fridge for half an hour. Don’t be tempted to dig straight in as the freshly caramelised top will stick to your fork. If you wait until they’re chilled it will be so much better, promise!

Lemon Meringue Tarts

These days, you will find whole Facebook groups and websites dedicated to the joys of Aquafaba… A special thank you to Justine Butler from Viva! who got me started. She has done lots of experimenting and written about it on her blog too.

Enjoy experimenting and good luck!
Lots of love,
Chava x

 

Photo shoot with Our Lizzy

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A couple of months ago I had an incredible day shooting food with Lizzy Hughes from Our Lizzy Cookery School in Malvern.

Our Lizzy Cooking (Large)

Nestled on the foot of the stunning Malvern Hills in Worcestershire is a cookery school with a difference. Lizzy has converted her house into a wonderfully welcoming space where she teaches vegan cookery classes – from stunning Christmas centrepieces to Meals in Minutes, Mezze, Mexican dishes and just about everything in between.
Lizzy used to be a teacher and her patient, organised approach really shone through during our photo shoot. From the moment I walked through the door we had a great time working together! It was such good fun spending time with a fellow foodie, whilst discovering some of her go-to ingredients and favourite recipes.
I have never photographed so many dishes in a day and Lizzy, perfectly organised, had prepared an amazing spread. Tiramisu, truffles, cakes, falafel, curry, Christmas mains, pies, breakfasts… seriously, you wouldn’t believe all the things that kept appearing from fridges, freezers and store cupboards.

Lizzy and I were both delighted how beautifully all the photos came out and it’s so nice seeing them on the website already. Here’s just a very small selection from our day:

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Imagine our scrumptious lunch break! I even got to take a selection of delicious goodies for dinner. (Perks of the job!)
If you’d like to find out more about Our Lizzy have a look at her website. Her courses would make a lovely gift for Valentine’s Day, a birthday or to treat yourself. If you don’t fancy driving home afterwards you could even make a mini break of it, stay at her B&B and sample an award winning breakfast the next day.  Lizzy really is a lovely, lovely lady and if you book on one of her courses please do tell me all about it!🙂

Lots of love,
Chava

Pass the pasta – vegan, homemade

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Whenever I read posts about homemade pasta I thought ‘Yeah, right! That looks way too much like hard work – it’s just not going to happen in my kitchen.’ Turns out I was wrong!

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A couple of days ago, I was experimenting and playing with a new open ravioli recipe for a magazine article. Unfortunately, I discovered that you can’t precook a whole bunch of shop-bought lasagne sheets at the same time. Some stick together and some fall apart… grrrrr! The fact is, when you write a recipe you want to be absolutely sure that it’ll work! And because I couldn’t buy fresh vegan pasta sheets I decided to give the whole ‘pasta making business’ a go…

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Officially FUN! I’d probably describe it like a mixture of playing with play dough and cutting out cute biscuit shapes …. Exactly! That’s pretty good fun in my book.  When I served the pasta shapes with a creamy porcini mushroom sauce, Sam informed me that it was the best pasta he’s ever eaten. Nice one, son!
I’ll let you take a tiny little peek at the picture of my open ravioli and if you fancy to give it a try the recipe will be featured in the April issue of Vegetarian Living. It’ll come out at the end of March and will definitely get you in the mood for lighter, spring cooking.
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Have you ever been tempted to make pasta from scratch? Or have you ever tried something that looked wayyyy too complicated and it turned out really well? I’d love to hear your kitchen successes (or disasters?)

Lots of love,
Chava

 

 

 

Win two Vegfest London tickets

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Who wants to join me at Vegfest London?

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In less than eight weeks Vegfest takes over London’s Olympia Central again.
Last year I went along as the official event photographer and I can already promise you that it will be the most amazing weekend. I am, as always, in awe of the hard work and dedication that goes into organising an event of this scale.

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Organiser Tim Barford with Jamijn de Boo (Vegan Society) – Vegfest Superhero Alan Lee with Karin Ridgers (VeggieVision)

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Seeing the latest vegan products, sampling fantastic food, countless workshops, talks and cookery demonstrations… these are just some of the highlights! Fancy coming along? One lucky winner can grab two free tickets for the weekend. Say Hi by dropping me an email (via www.flavourphotos.com) or comment below for your chance to win. The draw will take place on Monday 31st August 2015.

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Lots of love,
Chava

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Vegan BBQ

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Today I’m willing the sun to come out by sharing these super tasty BBQ ideas.

 


My latest feature for Viva!Life magazine is all about a proper Grillfest, as we call it in Germany. While my family and friends have been struggling with temperatures of up to 40˚C in Germany and France we’ve spent our last weekend wallowing in the mud and pouring rain at WOMAD festival. I’ve been to a few music festivals but this was my first wet and muddy one… and boy, did it rain!
As experiences go, we won’t forget this one in a hurry🙂

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Enough of the British summer weather so far… let’s dig out those BBQ recipes. There’s always the grill indoors!
These recipes will all arrive on your doorstep in the latest Viva!Life magazine, so it’s well worth joining Viva!. As the lovely Jane from Viva! has already uploaded the recipes to the Vegan Recipe Club today I’m happy to share them with you on the blog as well.

 

Marinated Mushroom Bruschetta

Serves 4
This delicious Bruschetta makes a fabulous starter or you could serve them as part of a BBQ buffet.
Mushrooms

125g dairy-free cream cheese (e.g. Sheese or Tofutti)
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
8 slices baguette or sourdough bread
4 shallots, quartered
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
400g button mushrooms
1 tbsp of fresh rosemary needles
¼ tsp paprika
zest of ½ lemon
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and black pepper
8 olives, without stones
8 marinated tomatoes (semi-dried)

Firstly, blend the cream cheese with the chive until smooth and set aside. If you do
this step first the flavours have time to really develop.
Sauté the shallots in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. If your marinated olives/tomatoes come in flavoured oil you could use some of this instead.
Add the mushrooms, rosemary, lemon zest, sliced garlic and paprika. Keep stirring occasionally until the mushrooms begin to soften.
Mix in the olives and tomatoes and season with the chopped parsley, salt and freshly ground pepper.
Toast the bread slices, spread liberally with the cream cheese and top with the marinated mushrooms.

 

Cauliflower Tabouli

Serves 8 as a side salad

Tabouli (or Tabouleh) has a wonderfully fresh flavour. It’s usually made with couscous or bulgur but this wheat-free version is a lovely alternative.
You could use more herbs if you like but I really enjoy the subtle flavour of the cauli couscous. Feel free to vary and experiment with the quantities.

Tabouli

500g cauliflower
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil
50-75g fresh parsley
20g fresh mint
1 red onion, finely chopped
15 cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ cucumber, in small pieces
10-12 kalamata olives (optional)
3 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1½ lemons
sea salt
pinch of sugar

Wash and roughly cut the cauliflower into smaller chunks. Place them into a food processor and use the pulse function until you have coarse grains, about the size of couscous.
Place the cauliflower into a large saucepan with the oil and water. Keep stirring well and gently sauté until the cauliflower is tender. Set aside to cool down.
Chop the herbs finely and place in a serving bowl, together with the chopped onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber pieces and olives (if using).
Stir in the cauliflower, olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt to taste and served chilled.

 

Mock Duck and Shiitake Skewers

8 skewers plus extra seitan.

If you’ve never tried to make your own seitan, here’s your chance! It is incredibly easy to make and the results are brilliant. You will probably need to order the vital wheat flour online but it’s really good fun to do and very tasty too. There are various ways to prepare seitan, including steaming and simmering in flavoured broth but this baked version is quick and easy. If you’re pushed for time you can of course use tinned mock duck from Asian supermarkets or health food shops (e.g. Granovita).

Skewers

150g vital gluten flour
2 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp onion salt
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp Thai 7 spice blend
200ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp ketchup manis (sweet soya sauce)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp vegetable oil
16 shiitake mushrooms
2-3 small red onions
2 yellow peppers, in small pieces
3 tbsp Hoisin sauce
2 tbp vegetable oil
8 wooden skewers

 

For the seitan:
Combine all the dried ingredients in a large bowl. Blend the liquid ingredients and stir them into the bowl with a large spoon until the mixture come together. Tip the seitan onto a clean worktop and knead for 2-3 minutes.
Use a sharp knife and cut the seitan into small pieces.
Line a baking tray and brush it with a little oil. Place all the pieces in a single layer on the tray and cover with kitchen foil.
Bake at 180˚C for 30 minutes. Done!

Cut the onion into wedges and the peppers into bite-sized pieces. Alternate shiitake mushrooms, seitan, pepper and onion for each skewer and brush them with a mixture of the Hoisin sauce and vegetable oil.
Grill then until they are cooked from all sides. You can serve them with cucumber and spring onion on thin pancakes (like crispy duck) or as part of a BBQ feast.

 

Tofu Burger from the Vegan Recipe Club

Every home needs a good vegan burger recipe! Click straight through to the recipe here.
I added some chopped parsley to my batch – yummy!

Tofu Burger

So, now you know my favourite kinds of BBQ foods. How about your summer favourites… what do you love to see sizzling on your grill? Please share all your delicious foodie ideas with me so that I can sit here feeling hungry all over again!

Lots of love,
Chava

Easter was a long time ago…

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Anyone who’s visited my blog recently was greeted by a round-up of the best vegan Easter treats. Sorry, that really isn’t at all what you guys want to see in July. Melting bunnies anyone?

Okay, let me make it up to you with some mouthwatering photos and recipes… it’s been a busy time in so many good ways. From National Vegetarian Week to extending my column for Vegetarian Living, more tasty dishes for Viva!, a campaign for Plamil…

Let’s start with the fabulous National Vegetarian Week and some of my favourite photos  from this year’s campaign. I’m including links for each recipe – all three of these below are outstanding!

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This Artichoke and Asparagus Paella from the Vegetarian Society has become a firm favourite in our house already. It’s great for entertaining – easy to make, very tasty and it looks very special too.

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A Lemon and Lime Dal with quite a zing. I adjust the amount of lemon juice to taste, depending on how I feel that day😉

Wonton Double
And how about this Thai Mushroom Soup with Crispy Wontons? The wonton filling of shiitake mushrooms with smoked tofu, ginger and chilli is mouthwateringly good. Sounds far too simple to create such a great flavour. I’d definitely recommend the Taifun smoked tofu with sesame and almond (e.g. from Waitrose or health food shops).

If you’re super organised and already thinking ahead for next year’s Vegetarian Week please remember that the Vegetarian Society is able to offer small grants to stage events. They very kindly sponsored our Big Veggie Picnic and the food, colouring-in competition and games were a great success with everyone!
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Big Veggie Picnic

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Part-way through the week I received an email about a special feature:
I mean Hello! magazine!! To see these vegan feasts go mainstream really got me excited. There was a three page feature all about NVW and it will have reached thousands of people that week that may have never thought about trying a vegan meal before in their life. I read that their current print circulation number is just under 270,000. Wow! I will confess to going out and buying my first ever copy😉
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I’m going to update the blog with more news in the next few days. It certainly feels good to show some blog presence again.
Lots of love,
Chava