This blog is a celebration of the wonderful world of vegan cooking. Enjoy!

* The title of this blog refutes the dangerous idea that veganism is a weight-loss diet and that all vegans are skinny. Conversely, being a-not-so-skinny-vegan is also not the same as being overweight or unhealthy. All food intake must be part of a balanced lifestyle.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Grindelwald, Switzerland

View of the mountains from Männlichen.
 When travelling abroad I'm always a little apprehensive about what kind of food I'm going to be able to get, especially when the area I'm visiting is famous for dipping small chunks of white bread into melted cheese. I've been to Switzerland a few times but have either been in the cities where sourcing vegan food is quite easy due to the amazing array of vegetarian restaurants or I've been in the mountains, skiing or walking, and have opted for a quick visit to the Coop on my way down the mountain each day to have a picnic on the balcony of our hotel room.

This week we've just been skiing in Grindelwald and our hotel, while convenient to the bus stop and ski lifts, wasn't as convenient to the Coop. As a result we took a rather brave decision to try to find vegan food in the local restaurants. Fortunately, we didn't have to go very far.

View of Grindelwald from one of the runs.
A quick look on Happy Cow and Vegetarious showed that the closest vegetarian restaurant was Davos. It may have been close as the crow flies but not as the trains go. Our hotel, the Sunstar, was able to whip something vegan up with a bit of notice but we had to find somewhere else on the first night. So we decided to go back into the town to find the Coop. Fortunately, we didn't make it very far because as I was waddle wobbling along the icy footpath we spotted a menu with the word 'vegan' on it.

We popped up into Barry's restaurant at Hotel Eiger Grindelwald and, after a rather confusing mix of German and English, managed to establish that there was a vegan option and that there was a table available for an hour. There is only a single vegan option and it is on their winter menu so I have no idea if it will be available in the summer but I can highly recommend the K.L.G. Ragout. I opted for the smaller portion (15 CHF) and also had a small bowl from the salad buffet (9 CHF). The salad was fresh and varied and there were beans and quinoa (quinoa seems to be the new favourite in Swiss salad buffets). The only downside was that the ragout was a little salty for my taste but I did let the restaurant know so hopefully next time it will be OK.

The next evening we had arranged to eat at the Sunstar and were so pleasantly surprised by how accommodating they were for vegans, and how beautifully presented and delicious that food was, that we ate there for the rest of the week. It's not at all cheap (48 CHF per person) but it is for a 5 course meal and the food is specially made for you; it's not just the vegetarian option sans cheese. The starters ranged from antipasti platters to beetroot and orange carpaccio to grilled fennel with a vegetable and rice tower. The soups ranged from tomato to creamed corn to minestrone with olive bruschetta and the salad buffet was always fresh, always had beans and had an amazing range of oils and vinegars available. The mains were always beautifully presented and ranged from a yellow Thai curry with seasonal vegetables and grilled fruit skewers to grilled vegetables and beetroot giant cous cous to even a rosti (a local favourite) with vegetables and a special creamy chive sauce they made from soya milk. But I think my favourite part, by far, was the puddings: grilled figs with mango puree, soya yoghurt and marinated blueberries and even chia pudding with fresh fruit. It was just really lovely to go somewhere where the chef took the time to cater for vegans and didn't just throw together some vegetables and pasta.
The Sunstar hotel in the shadow of the Swiss alps.
I would also recommend the skiing in Grindelwald! I'm not a great skier but some of the routes are absolutely beautiful, especially those from the tops of the mountains back into the towns. A couple of favourites were the routes from Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald, Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg and Kleine Scheidegg to Wegen.

Great skiing and great food: Grindelwald is an excellent place for a vegan skier!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Roasted Beetroot and Caramelised Onion 'Quiche' on Gluten Free Grain Base

Last autumn we bought some recycled railway sleepers and set up some raised beds in our backyard. I gave up my allotment and focused my gardening energy into making a jungle in our backyard. And despite the fact that I'm a beginner gardener, it looks somewhat of an edible jungle out there. And the fruit and vegetables taste so much better than anything in store. I had no idea how much flavour carrots can have or how easy it was to grown kilos of blueberries.

Our garden looking unusually tidy. There must have been visitors on the way!

One of our raised beds, packed full of vegetables. 
Growing your own also gives you a much better perspective on seasonality. I don't think we think enough about where our food comes from, how it came to be on that shelf in the supermarket and whether or not we could substitute it with something in season, local and with a smaller carbon footprint.

Growing your own also means you need to come up with recipes that use up gluts. Potatoes and carrots are easy enough to store and you can grown spinach and lettuce that keeps growing back no matter how much you cut it. However, things like sprouting broccoli, beetroot, berries and peas taste best when you take them from garden to pan.

Freshly harvested beetroot from our garden.
Last weekend I was trying to find some room to plant my spring cabbages so I pulled up a couple of huge beetroot I spotted (brassicas are best to follow root vegetables). I wanted to make something for our lunch for the next couple of days and I wanted to use all of the beetroot (roots, stalks and leaves). So I came up with the following recipe for a Beetroot and Caramelised Onion 'Quiche' on a Gluten Free Grain Base.

You can easily replace the base with any shortcut pastry, I just don't like pastry and like to get a big mix of grains in my diet. I also realise that amaranth and quinoa aren't the cheapest of grains but they both have a huge range of nutritional value that I'm happy enough to give up something else in my life (like a trip to the movies, a cocktail, biscuits, a cup of coffee) for the price of the grains. However, you can just use brown rice for the whole base although the amaranth does help make everything stick together.

You can also completely skip the roasting of the vegetables if you don't have the time or energy. If you have bought pre-cooked beetroot (and sometimes that's all we can get a hold of) then just cut that up and layer it on top of some other greens like spinach or chard and then caramelise the onions in a pan.

Roasted Beetroot and Caramelised Onion 'Quiche' on Gluten Free Grain Base



1⁄3 cup amaranth
1⁄3 cup brown rice
1⁄3 cup of quinoa
2 cups waters

Filling (Beets)

2 large beetroots including stalks and leaves
1 tsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed
1 tbsp rice syrup
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1⁄8 cup olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1⁄2 red onion

Filling (Tofu)

500g silken tofu
1⁄4 cup plain soymilk
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon cornstarch (may sub another thickener such as arrowroot or potato starch)
1 teaspoon tahini (preferred) or cashew butter
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3⁄4 teaspoon soy sauce
Black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of chopped thyme



The cooked grains hold together nicely as a base.
Preheat oven to 180C fan forced. Line pie tin with baker paper and lightly grease.


Put grains in a saucepan with water with the lid and bring to boil then simmer until liquid has evaporated and grains are soft. You may need more water.

Once cooked, spread the grains onto your prepared pie tin and set aside to cool.

Filling (beets)

Cut the tops off your beetroot but don't discard!

Cut beetroot into thin wedges (I don't peel my beets but you can!) and put rest of the ingredients (except red onion and beet tops) in a bowl with the cut beets. Mix well.

Roasted beets and onion.
Bake until just soft. You can do this by covering with foil and baking for 30-60 minutes but I don't like to use foil (bad for the environment!) so I just left them to cook uncovered in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. They get a little charred but it's tasty!

Meanwhile, detached the stalks of the beets from the leaves but keep both parts! Roughly chop the leaves and spread over the grain base into the pie tin.

Finely chop the stalks and thinly slice the red onion. Once the beets are just soft, add the onion and chopped stalks to the beet mix in the oven too. Let them cook for a few minutes until soft then remove from the oven. Leave the oven on.

Leave to cool for a few minutes but be careful to move the vegetables around as they will start to stick are the syrup begins to cool.

Once the beets are cool enough to handle, arrange them in two circles on top of the beet leaves in the pie tin and then spoon on the onion and stalk mix (and garlic, if you are brave enough!).

Filling (tofu)

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. You should just be able to pour the mixture. However, if you didn't use silken tofu you may need to add some more soy milk to get the right consistently.

Once all the ingredients are blended, pour the mixture on top of the beets in the pie tin. Tap the pie tin lightly on the bench to help the tofu mixture settle into the spaces and then very gently (otherwise everything turns purple!) smooth the mixture flat and to the edges. You may want to tap it and smooth it a few more times to make sure the mixture is filling the gaps.

Put the tart back in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until the top starts to go a golden brown colour and it no longer wobbles when you shake it gently.

Once cooked, remove tart from oven and allow to cool. Serve warm or refrigerate to serve cold.

Serves 4.

Roasted Beetroot and Caramelised Onion on Gluten Free Grain Base

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hello again.

Nearly two years since my last post! However, I never really took a break from most aspects of this blog: I still record and tweak favourite recipes, I still take photos of my food in hipster restaurants with a most conspicuous SLR (much to the embarrassment of friends and family) and I still try to hunt out the best vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants in all of the places I travel to whether it be Coventry or San Francisco. But I also spent the last two years teaching part-time (if you believe there's such thing as teaching part-time!), while still working full-time on my PhD, so any spare moments I've had to myself I spend sitting like a zombie in front of the television while refusing to communicate with anyone (apparently it is completely normal for teachers to do this).

There are a couple of reasons why I have started writing again. Firstly, it's summer holidays so I'm back to just working full-time on my PhD. This seems like a piece of easy vegan chocolate cake after trying to juggle it with teaching. I make progress every day (literally unheard of in the world of PhD progress) and, because I sit in my office by myself with not a single soul to disturb me (apparently the teacher voice makes other adults either scared of or very annoyed at you), I come home and actually feel like speaking to my partner or writing on my blog! (Last summer holiday I went to San Francisco to present a paper at a conference so it wasn't prime blog writing time.)

The second reason I was reunited with my blog is due to my lovely Year 10 Maths class. Call me naive, but I had no idea the extent of cyberstalking of teachers that goes on. I'm not that old, the internet was around when I was a teenager. However, I grew up in a small country town in northern NSW where the biggest event of the year is a rodeo and people actually go to line dancing classes for exercise. It is 2015 and local businesses still don't have websites. Just last week my Dad got his finger caught in a bench grinder and managed to grind most of his finger off. I thought I would buy him a cheer-up cheesecake and have it delivered to his work. Did not happen. No one in their lovely little town has a website so I could not find anyone to contact about this. So no cheer-up cheesecake for my Dad.

But back to my Year 10 class. On the last day of teaching them (I am moving to a new school in September) I made them all vegan cupcakes and choc chip cookies as a farewell gift to them for being the noisiest, most raucous but also most talented class of students I've ever taught. And their gift to me was to inform me that they had been reading my blog (!) and know basically everything about my very tiny social life(!). I'm not sure I can describe the jaw-dropping look of horror that came on to my face. Truthfully, I don't mind if they know things about me, they could have just asked. I was more surprised that they spend their free time trying to find out what their teachers do in their free time! So, if any of my former or current students are reading this, I'll tell you what I do in my spare time: marking. If you want me to have a more exciting social life that you can talk about then pay more attention in class, ask me when you don't understand something and get 100% on all of your homework and exams from now on. Simple. Also, go out and get some fresh air and exercise and stop cyberstalking your teachers!

So, thanks to my lovely Year 10 Maths class, I was reminded that people do actually come across my blog and that I should contribute to it more often. Also, I must mention, this shock was not the only gift my class gave me. They also gave me the most awesome maths clock which is currently causing a little bit of grief in the household as I think it should go in the most visible place possible and J thinks the study is more appropriate. I have confidence that I will win the argument by putting a nail in the wall when he's not here.

So expect more blog posts this summer and hopefully into the autumn!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers with Roasted Garlic Sauce

In the past few months I've become a rather obsessed user of Pinterest. It is a fantastic tool for finding delicious vegan recipes that I would never have dreamed of. It's also a great tool for spying on my omnivore friends to see what kind of food they are eating so that I can make similar things and gently introduce them to a plant-based diet. Well, that's not entirely true, I do not do anything gently, but for whatever reason there are now many recipes on my Pinterest boards that aren't vegan but that I've pinned with the comment 'to be veganised'.

One of the other habits I've developed since becoming an avid user of Pinterest is that when I'm cooking with or for someone else I tend to just refer them to my 'Savoury Things to Try' board. That way the person I'm cooking with gets to maintain the illusion that they've been involved in the choosing of the menu but I get to cook something new I already wanted to try.

(I may be a little bit of a control freak.)

Last week The Hipster came across a vegetarian (but not vegan) recipe for sweet potato burgers with roasted garlic cream and avocado from How Sweet It Is during this aforementioned process. With a few substitutions and some tweaking of the process I easily turned the vegetarian recipe to a vegan recipe.

The burgers are delicious served on wholemeal buns with the roasted garlic sauce, sliced avocado and some fresh lettuce. A side salad with green or spring onions in it compliments the dish well and makes sure you get enough greens if you are eating this as a main meal.

I would suggest starting on the sauce first since you need to roast the garlic bulbs. But once they are in the oven you can start on the burgers and come back to the sauce later.

I've given instructions for both frying and baking the burgers. We fried ours but I've had just as much success baking burgers in the past if you want to avoid the oil. Also, frying the burgers will mean they are crunchy on the outside and rather moist and smooshy on the inside. If you prefer a more solid burger then I would suggest baking them.

Roasted Garlic Sauce

2 hands/bulbs of garlic
2 tsp olive oil
2/3 cup plain Greek soya yoghurt*
1 tsp maple syrup**
extra salt & pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 180C.

Slice the tops off the garlic bulbs so that the very tops of the garlic cloves are just exposed. This makes getting the garlic out easier later.

Gently rub the hands bulbs so that most of the loose paper comes away (so it's not so messy to deal with later) but leave at least one layer (to help keep the moisture in).

 Wrap each bulb in foil and place on a baking tray and drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil onto each bulb. Place in oven for 45 minutes. Then remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, remove foil and then allow to cool completely.

Once the garlic is cooled, squeeze each clove into a food processor or blender along with yoghurt and maple syrup. Blend until smooth. Add seasoning and then blend again for a few seconds.

* To make Greek soya yoghurt from your ordinary soya yoghurt, just strain through cheesecloth into a medium sized bowl (I use some leftover muslin from a top I made and hold it on to the bowl with some clean clothes pegs) for at least 8 hours (the longer you leave it, the thicker the yoghurt will be. If you put some on a teaspoon it should be thick enough to hold on for a few seconds when you slip it upside down). You can keep the whey (water that drips through) to make porridge or for baking as long as you keep in a clean, sealed container and use within a few days. Scrape the yoghurt from the cheesecloth and put into a sealable container (I normally wash the container the yoghurt originally came in and then just use that again) and use within a few days.

You could just use the soya yoghurt as it comes instead of making it into Greek soya yoghurt but your sauce will be a bit thinner. 

** If your yoghurt is sweetened you might want to leave this out.

Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers
makes 6-8

2 tsp ground flaxseed (or other egg replacer)
4 tbsp water
2 large gold sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped
400g can of cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (optional, for frying)

Whisk the flaxseed (or other egg replacer) with the water in a small bowl or mug until thick and creamy. Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, put the sweet potatoes in enough water to just cover them and bring to the boil then simmer until soft. Drain, rinse with cold water to cool them and drain again. (You could also cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave to speed things up.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, roughly mash the beans with a fork or potato ricer. You don't need to finely grind the beans, some chunks are OK.

Add the cooled sweet potatoes to the beans and mix. Add the flaxseed mixture and then the rest of the ingredients (except the olive oil). Put the mix in the fridge for 15 minutes (optional, although it helps with the stickiness).

Take out of the fridge and form into patties on an oven tray and some baking, greaseproof or parchment paper. This is easiest if you form balls in your hand (somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball) by rolling a handful gently in your palm and then gently pushing the patty onto the tray. You should have 6-8 patties. If you are frying your patties, refrigerate for another 15 minutes (optional, but helps keeps the patties together).

Heat oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Scoop patties from baking tray with a flat spatula and place in pan. Fry on each side for 3-5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180C (this should already be happening because you should have roasted your garlic!). Bake the patties for 15-20 minutes or until burgers start to brown. If you want a tougher burger, leave in the oven for longer (but don't let it burn!).

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vegan on the Isle of Wight

A little while ago The Hipster and I went on a trip to the Isle of Wight. I desperately wanted to get out of Cambridge but we'd just returned from our trip to Berlin so I couldn't really afford another trip overseas. Or could I?

The Needles.
 The Isle of Wight is pretty much its own country except you don't have to bother exchanging any money and they speak the same language (mostly, I still have trouble with some of the regional accents). And it's technically over a sea(-ish) so you kind of feel like you have gone overseas. If you are a foreigner be prepared for the psychological games the locals try to play with you: some stock their front yards with Union Jacks, St George's Crosses and UKIP posters and others are so damn friendly and welcoming you wonder if they confused you with a celebrity. And if you are vegan... just be prepared.

I always like to scope out a place before I visit it to make sure I am going to be able to eat there. My first point of call was the Isle of Wight Vegetarians & Vegans. They have a website with some suggested places to eat but, as these places were mostly on the opposite side of the island to where we were staying in Shanklin, I emailed them directly and they were super helpful (although there wasn't exactly much for them to work with in Shanklin).

The Shanklin coast.
 We stayed in a B&B in Shanklin called The Havelock. Shanklin has some very pretty coastline and a quaint, old part of town and is very much a Victorian-gentlemen-convalescing-by-the-seaside kind of town. And while The Havelock are certainly not a vegetarian establishment (much to The Hipster's delight every morning as he ate all the animals) they provided a hearty vegan-alternative to a full English breakfast for me every morning along with soya milk, vegan butter and homemade bread (although the homemade bread gets eaten quickly so the earlier you get up the better!). The owners, Ann and Dave, are also extremely helpful and accommodating and recommended places in Shanklin that may cater for vegans.

I also did a bit of research myself (and some rather vocal begging) to some of the local restaurants and ended up being overwhelmed by how damn helpful everyone was and then sometimes even pleasantly surprised by the food.

Sadly, I didn't take any photos of any of the food but I hope you find the guide helpful nonetheless.

Places I visited:


The Shanklin coast.

Tue - Sun: 18:00 - 23:00 (change throughout season so call)

This restaurant is located in the old village part of Shanklin. I had phoned beforehand to make sure they could cater for vegans and we booked a table as soon as we arrived on the island. The service was very good although the food was a little bit disappointing. I had a Greek salad for a starter but without any protein or fat in the salad it was a bit lacking. I'm also pretty sure the olives came out of a can.

For the main I had the aubergine and chickpea loaf with a sweet pepper and tomato sauce. This had a lot more flavour and was really quite tasty and satisfying. And it's on their every day menu which means you don't need to phone ahead. There were no vegan dessert options and no vegan wines.

The Hipster had a starter, a main and dessert and wine and our total bill was just over £50.

Fine Nammet

Mon: 17:00 - 21:00
Tue - Sat: 11:00 - 21:00
Sun: 11:00 - 16:00

Firstly, don't let the atrocious website put you off. This is a fantastic place to eat. I honestly cannot say enough good things about the fantastic service, the helpful management, the skills of the chefs, the quality of the food and the ambiance of the restaurant. But apparently neither can anyone else on the Isle of Wight. So before you read any further, if you plan on eating in Shanklin and want to eat at the best place, book as far ahead as possible. I don't think they've had a single spare table since they've opened. We watched them turn away dozens of people while we were sitting there eating and heard them do the same over the phone. It's a popular place so get in early.

There is nothing vegan on their menu. But that didn't stop me. I emailed them to ask if they could cater for me and not only did they say they could, they then let me know what local produce was available, what they could do with it and then gave me two choices for each course of a three course menu.

For a starter I had a watercress soup. I chose this because I couldn't possibly see how they could make watercress soup taste anything other than like grass. I was wrong. So very wrong. It was fresh, well seasoned and absolutely delicious.

For the main I had cauliflower 5 ways served with herbed sauté potatoes. Again, I chose it because I was damn interested to see how on earth they thought they could make cauliflower tasty 5 different ways. And I'm so glad I did. This dish was amazing. The different textures and the alternating flavours of each of the parts was just delicious. And it was so colourful! All the meals were beautifully presented but unpretentious.

For dessert I had banana fritter with rum and raisin sauce. I had the option of a fruit salad which, in hindsight, I should have taken. Not because the banana fritter wasn't delicious, because it was, but because I was kind of full by that stage and the dessert made it a little difficult to walk home with a massive belly full of fritter. But it was worth it. It was very yummy and I ate every last bit of it.

The Hipster also had three courses although his final course was a cheese platter which is a little bit more expensive than the other desserts. He also had wine. However, they have a 2/3 course dinner special which he seemed to have ordered from so our bill came in under £50 which was amazing considering that we both had 3 courses, he had wine and that my meals were made especially for me.

So, if you are going to Shanklin, go to Fine Nammet.

The Ventnor Botanic
garden hosts a range
of Australian flora
due to the island's
microclimate. I was
looking for the kangaroos.


The Plantation Room - Ventnor Botanic Garden

Gardens open daily 10am-5pm. Call cafe to check opening times.

We had been told that this cafe had a vegan-friendly chef so on our first full day on the Isle of Wight we strapped on the walking boots and walked the 6 miles from our hotel to Ventnor Botanic Garden. Luckily we had eaten a full breakfast because when we arrived there were no vegan-friendly cakes or scones or any vegan-friendly food at all. They did have a lovely range of tea so I just had a cup of that before we walked around the gardens and then trekked the 6 miles back to Shanklin. And luckily, again, we had only been able to get an early table at Fine Nammet and the meal there was great (see above).

I've contacted the cafe directly to get them to confirm the availability of vegan options and will update this post when I hear back from them.


The Red Duster

Open Tue-Thu for breakfast, lunch and dinner but close between meals so call for times. 

The Red Duster. Not so vegan-friendly.
When you look for vegetarian restaurants on Google or Trip Advisor for some reason The Red Duster pops up. I have no idea why. It is definitely not a vegetarian restaurant and it's definitely not vegan-friendly. The a la carte menu has a whole vegetarian section but this seems to only be offered at dinner time (we arrived at the end of lunch). The staff tried to cater for me as best they could and I ended up with a tasty salad that was fresh and flavourful but it lacked any sort of protein and I ended up walking to the Sainsbury's at the end of the road after the meal to get a banana and some cashew nuts. The restaurant seems to be a bit of a local institution, though, but I'm not sure it's the best place for vegans.



Open daily
from 8am - serves breakfast, coffee, tea, pastries
from 12pm -  serves full menu

The pier at Ryde.
We went to Ryde so we could ride the train along the pier and so The Hipster could look at the hovercraft (for the millionth time). I was hoping that The Orrery Cafe might be open (see below) but it seems to have very strange opening hours. But along the same street are an array of restaurants so I just let The Hipster pick whatever he wanted to eat (since he normally has to eat wherever I say) and I had planned on forcing the restaurant to feed me.

In what I was coming to learn was typical Isle of Wight style, the restaurant was very friendly and tried to be as accommodating as possible. There was nothing vegan on the menu but our waiter went and spoke to the chef and they decided to make me a pizza. And when the pizza came and it looked a little bland, our waiter went back to the kitchen to fetch some rocket to make it a little more interesting (it actually tasted quite good without the rocket but I appreciated the gesture).

It wasn't spectacular food but it was tasty enough and I appreciated that they could feed me at such short notice.

Recommended places I did not visit:


The White Lion

Open daily 12pm - 9pm

A pub located in Arreton, between Shanklin and Newport, it has a good range of vegetarian options although it's not clear from the menu if any of these would be suitable for vegans. Recommended by IWVV website.


Cowes main street.
Brawn's of Cowes

Mon - Wed: 6pm – Late
Thu – Sat: 12pm - 2.30pm, 5pm - Late
Sun: 12pm – 2.30pm

Tapas bar with lots of vegetarian options. Hummus and falafel may be vegan. Recommended by IWVV website.


Quay Arts Cafe

Mon – Sat 9:30am – 4:00pm. Lunches served 12:00 – 3pm

This was recommended by IWVV, and they actually claim on their website that they cater for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian diets, but unfortunately we never made it to Newport. It will be one I will make sure I visit next time.


The Orrery Cafe

Open 11-4ish Monday -Friday and from 11-5ish on Saturdays

This cafe seems a little... odd. It was closed when we tried to check it out and from their website it's not entirely clear that they are even still open or even serve food. But it's also recommended by IWVV and appears to be the only vegetarian-only cafe on the entire island.

The Ventnor coast.

El Toro Contento Tapas Bar

Open daily from 4pm.

Tapas bar with vegetarian options on the menu, some look like they could be vegan. Recommended by IWVV website.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Vegan Egg-Free Mayonnaise

Since moving to a share house I've had to come to terms with sharing cupboard and fridge space. This means that I can no longer collect vegan-friendly condiments with the enthusiasm that I used to. Now I make my own sauces and dressings and there is less packaging and less waste involved and I'm seeing what goes into my food. And I think that can only be a good thing.

In the past few weeks I had made falafel and falafel burgers on a couple of different occasions and used something like this Yoghurt-Tahini Dressing to accompany it. Then last week our MCR had a long-weekend BBQ to celebrate the final emergence of the sun after months of absolutely horrid (typically British) weather. So I decided to make a potato salad and to make my own mayonnaise.

If you like your mayonnaise a little creamier then I suggest straining the 1/2 cup of yoghurt through muslin or cheesecloth (or a clean dishcloth) for 24 hours to remove excess water. You'll be left with a thicker yoghurt (kind of like Greek yoghurt) and you can then add all of the other ingredients from there.

You can tinker with the measurements according to taste. Sometimes I also like to add a 1 tsp of miso paste for a little extra flavour if I have some around. It makes enough for about 750g of potatoes. I only used half for 500g of potatoes and then stored the rest in a jar in the fridge to use later as a yummy creamy dressing for a vegetable salad.

At any rate, as the weather slowly gets warmer and BBQs become a little less painful to endure in the cold, I hope the recipe is of some use. Luckily, it can be served hot or cold! Enjoy!

Vegan egg-free mayonnaise in a potato salad.

Egg-free Mayonnaise

1 cup soy yoghurt
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp soya sauce
2 tsp cider vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

For a warm dressing, pour on warm potatoes/vegetables and serve immediately.

For cold potato salad, allow potatoes to cool, stir in dressing and refrigerate until needed.

Vegan egg-free mayonnaise on some lightly steam vegetables is just as delicious!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Oil-Free Sugar-Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

I recently went to a vegan baking evening hosted by the Cambridge Carbon Footprint group who put on a variety of events to raise awareness about climate change and sustainable living. Unfortunately, the evening was aimed more at omnivores who wanted an introduction to vegan baking rather than vegans who had been baking for quite a while. Also, the two recipes we made (Sticky Toffee Pudding and Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles) were packed full of refined sugar. But I met some lovely people and still had a great evening so it was well worth it.

I've recently been trying to avoid eating sugar as part of a regime to stabilise my blood sugar levels in order to avoid migraines. Any slight addiction to anything seems to be enough to put me in some sort of withdrawal which can start a headache which can then turn into a eleven day head pounding marathon. So despite the pudding and snickerdoodles being rather delicious, I wanted to try to come up with a recipe that did not use sugar.

The recipe I came up with uses dates to sweeten the cake and dates and maple syrup to make the toffee sauce. Now, I'm not suggesting that maple syrup is better than sugar. However, I figured that it would be better to come up with a recipe that doesn't use sugar so that I get out of the habit of using it. The maple syrup could easily be replaced by agave nectar, brown rice syrup, date syrup etc which tend to have lower glycemic indexes (although that does not necessarily equate to them being better for you). I used maple syrup because I had it on hand.

The recipe also uses quite a lot of maple syrup for the toffee sauce. This is mostly because the original recipe had both sugar and golden syrup with melted butter and so it was difficult to get the right consistency with the dates. You could easily double the amount of dates and add 80ml (1/3 of cup) of water in with the dates and milk when you boil them for the sauce and then only add a small amount of maple (or otherwise) syrup to taste. You could also easily halve the amount of toffee sauce and still have enough to complement the cake.

The biggest problem with me baking by experiment is that I end up eating all of the experiments. So I decided that perhaps it might be best to try to cut the vegan butter out of this recipe too hence why it's an oil-free sugar-free sticky toffee pudding. I will post another version that I adapted from the original recipe with all of the tasty, naughty stuff in it (although still not as much as in the original recipe!) at a later date.

The recipe uses soya milk and soya yoghurt so will only be sugar-free if your soya milk and soya yoghurt are sugar-free. It's easy enough to get unsweetened soya milk but it might be a little bit trickier to get unsweetened soya yoghurt unless you make your own. Alternatively, you could use 1/4 cup mashed silken tofu or more soya milk instead.


Oil-Free Sugar-Free Sticky Toffee Pudding


250ml (1 cup) unsweetened soya milk
100ml (slightly < 1/2 cup) water
200g pitted dates*, halved
1 level tsp bicarb soda
50ml (1/4 cup) unsweetened soya yoghurt
200g (1&1/3 cups) self-raising flour
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Toffee Sauce:

75g (approx. 8) pitted dates
150ml soya milk
80ml maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence


Preheat oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5/375F.

Line a 20cm x 20cm shallow cake tin with baking paper.

Put the dates in a small saucepan and cover with soya milk and water. Simmer until dates are soft then take off heat and stir in bicarb soda. It should froth. Leave to cool.

Mix the spices into the flour in a small bowl.

Place the yoghurt into a large bowl and stir in the cooled date mixture. Sift and fold in the flour. Spoon cake mixture into prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until cake springs back when touched.

Allow cake to cool then prick the top of the pudding all over. Pour on the toffee sauce incrementally, allowing the sauce to seep into the cake before adding more.

Toffee Sauce:

Roughly chop the dates and cover with soya milk in a small saucepan and simmer until dates are soft. Leave to cool slightly, add maple syrup and vanilla essence then transfer to a food processor or blender**. Blend until smooth.

*I prefer medjool dates.
**Please make sure your food processor or blender can handle hot liquids and is not glass. If it cannot, wait for the dates to cool completely and then carry on as per instructions.