Vegan MoFo 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014

September 18, 2014

Breakfast for Lunch

I started off MoFo for such great plans...

I was going to post EVERY DAY. 

I had half posts all ready to be finished and posted. 

And then I basically got the flu. 

And started college. 

And it just ain't happening. 

I can GUARANTEE that I will have the required 20 posts all published BEFORE the required September 30th. 12 down, 8 to go. You never know, I may ever surpass the 20 required. 

They won't be brilliant, but I CAN DO THIS. 

However, due to restraints placed upon me as stated above, my packed lunches have been less than stellar. I mean, when you've got 5 minutes to eat breakfast AND get dressed AND make your lunch AND get your bag ready, that lunch isn't going to be all that good, to be honest. 

It's also not going to be that good if you have been sat at the kitchen table for 30 minutes wondering what you are going to have for lunch. If you're brain switches off, it can be real hard to switch it back on again. Trust me. 

My Dad was just reading over my shoulder. Is it the new laptop or is he interested in the content of my blog?

Oh yeah, by the way, I've got a new laptop. To add to all the other problems, all my pictures are on my old laptop. 

So, what did I have for lunch today? 

Breakfast cereal. It's hardly an inspiring idea for you. But that's what I had. 

Do with it what you will. 

If you're looking for an idea that you can take great places, go with cereal. You can't get any more simple. 

If you are looking for the quickest lunch prep ever, go with cereal. The longest bit of the process is finding the right container. 

Mines a Sistema. Anything leak proof will do. But that's leak proof with a capital L. But unless you want soggy cereal, you will either need two containers, or a fancy split container. 

Need variation on the theme, to make it slightly more post worthy? Well, if you are looking for themes on the variation of taking breakfast cereal in your packed lunch, here are a few:
  • Simple, mix up the cereal. Go to the store, choose something new. Or just alternate the cereal you buy. Otherwise theres a possibility that it might get boring. 
  • Mix up the milk, almond, soy, oat, coconut, hazelnut.
  • Go granola. Homemade or store-bought.
  • Go fancy granola; make a parfait. Layer yogurt, fruit and granola in any way that you want. 
  • Muesli and yogurt. 
  • We've already talked about porridge
  • Make the milk more interesting. Make a sort of very thin smoothie from some berries and your favorite milk and use that. (Cherry milk and chocolate cereal anybody). 
  • Forget the milk, just have cereal. 
  • The cereal necklace? (You know, with Cheerio style cereal?)
  • Add stuff. Fruit, dried fruit, vegan marshmallows (if you are craving that marshmallowy cereal), crushed up cookies (if you are craving that cookie ish cereal), peanut butter blobs. 
  • Heat the milk, carry it it a flask, have warm milk and cereal.
  • Chocolate or peanut butter milk. 
So it's not some sort of vegan caviar, its kind of some happy marriage between comfort food and easy to do food (really easy to do food). 

But it's comforting. If you have had a bad morning, eat cereal for lunch, and you're day can have a new start. 

And all your blog posts will magically get published.

Okay, I have tried REALLY hard to add the pictures to this post, but they won't load onto my computer. The next chance I have, I'll come back and add them, but until then, can you use you're imagination please?

September 14, 2014

Can It!

No, I'm not being rude. No, I'm not telling you to be quiet. I'm just telling you to can it. 

As in, open a can, heat it up, put it in your food jar, eat. 

It looks like this:

Except honestly, it's hard to make canned soup look good. It really is. It smelt yummy. Someone invent a way to smell what I smelt, and you're golden. It did taste yummy. It just looks a bit...


Okay, so canned soup doesn't look the best. 

But it's a good alternative to real soup when you've forgotten to take a portion of real soup out the freezer. OR when it's almost soup veggie season, but not yet and you've run out of soup in your freezer. Cause, you don't want a dead sophisticated soup in your lunch. You want something basic but good. The kind of soup I presume would be good when camping. Just heat and eat. Nothing fancy- none of that spring veggie soup with 5" spears of asparagus floating on top. 

You want something that fills you up and warms you up. And comes out of a can for when you need something out of a can. 

It doesn't even have to be soup. Baked bean's, spaghetti, ravioli, veggie chili. But it's soup which will give you the most options. 

And yeah, I know- who knew supermarkets would have vegan canned stuff in their shelves. I'm not talking about the free from "weird food" isles either. THEY ARE OUT THERE. They are on the shelves with the other stuff. Okay, that means you need to do a bit of digging, but it's uplifting. Vegan is mainstream people! 

My top tip for finding these mysterious vegan cans? Don't go out there and look at every can until you find the ones that are vegan- be a boy scout, "be prepared". Get the vegan list. Sainsbury's updates there's monthly- M&S is good too. (Posh, but they have an easily accessible one). If there isn't one on your store of choice's website, don't be afraid to e-mail them and ask. What's the worst that can happen? They ban you from shopping there? Not likely- so go ahead and ask! And read the whole list, even if you are only looking for one thing. Some of the things on there might be a nice surprise! (Any body like ginger nuts- go to Sainsbury's). You do have to make sure your list is up to date- ingredients change, so don't be going around using a list you printed of 5 years ago. 

And if your looking for baked beans- don't go to Sainsbury's. Why, I don't know. 

So- get your list, go pick up some cans, then stick 'em in the back of your cupboard. Mine are on top of my cereal. Forget about them. Don't do what my Mom does and panic and eat anything that's been there over a week cause you obviously don't want it. Then, the morning you've forgotten about lunch, or it's the middle of August but for some reason it's cold and cloudy outside and you want something WARM and something that isn't salad, open, heat, eat. 

I'm not saying do this everyday. But it's called convenience food for a reason. It's meant to be there for those moment's when you need them most. A bit like your Dad when you've left home. Don't see him often, but if you need to be told how to change a light bulb, he's just one phone call away. Always there when you need them. 

And I do know how to change a light bulb btw. Go open, heat, (don't eat) for someone who does. Free food goes far. 

September 13, 2014

Nakd Crunch Bars

Okay people, it's time for a review of some good olde fruit and nut bars. 

These are like the traditional Nakd bars (I really must do a review of those some time) except that they contain soy crispies, making them higher in protein, but not one of your five a day. Depends what your priorities are I guess. 

I've no idea how I am supposed to describe the texture of these bars. I want to describe them as both hard and soft at the same time. The thing that strikes me as most similar in texture is the fudge that my brother likes from Thornton's. The 'harder' type of fudge as opposed to the 'softer' kind, but not hard like a cracker, or a biscuit, or a cereal bar. A solid-y fudge texture. If you try and squeeze the bar between your fingers, it wont give any; and it will bend slightly before it 'breaks' ('snaps' didn't seem to fit here.)

The soy crispies? I admit, I was worried. Really worried. Soy is a very versatile substance- it can be made into many terrible terrible things. (Have you ever tried Aldi soy milk?) Were my deepest fears with these bars realised? Nah. The easiest way to describe the soy crispies is like mini, solid rice crispie cereal. (FYI, I like rice crispies.) They were small enough that you weren't biting into some big hard lump, they blended in nicely to the rest of the bar, but still adding nice 'pops' of texture- I will stick with saying more crispy than crunchy though.

What else is great about these bars? They're made in the UK!

Nakd had 4 different varieties of their Crunch bars, Cocoa Crunch, Strawberry Crunch, Banana Crunch and Apple Crunch. I've tried all of them apart from the Apple Crunch, because I couldn't find that one anywhere. :(

My favorite was definitely the chocolate one!

The taste of the the coco crunch bar was a pleasant surprise! I hadn't tried any of the chocolaty Nakd bars before, I was very apprehensive due to the high possibility of a too dark, slightly bitter, highly powdery coco taste/aftertaste. I need not of worried. It's taste reminded me of chocolate tiffin. Definitely chocolaty, but not overpowering. All the components just happily meld together to make a nice chocolaty tasting bar. Not to 'dark' and bitter, and not too sweet either (so basically the nice medium between how my Dad and my Mom like their chocolate). And their was definitely no powdery aftertaste!

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't disappointed with the taste of this bar. It was really, really really lovely. It's just that I'd just (well, not right that second, I mean a couple of days before) tried the Berry Delight Nakd bar, and the flavour of that bar is really, really, intensely berry-ish. And so after that, the flavor of this bar seemed a bit 'pale'. Which is about right really, it's a strawberry bar, not a mixed berry bar. It is a lovely flavor, but if you want an intense berry taste, go with the Berry Delight. If you want the extra protein, this bar really does taste lovely.

The banana taste of this bar mixed together with the other fruits and nuts nicely, so that although you could definitely taste the banana, it wasn't overpowering, and you could taste everything else in the bar too. This means that the banana taste isn't too 'fakey'. It was a nice banana-ry taste. 

These bars are kind of high in sugar. However, they are mostly dried fruit, which is high in sugar. There is no added sugar, just the sugar that comes from the fruit. And if you are going to have a load of sugar, dried fruit is the way to do it, because it's full of good stuff, like iron. And fruit sugar is better than sugar sugar. And to be honest, they contain about the same amount of sugar as most cereal bars anyway. They aren't "low fat" bars- they contain good fats from the nuts- but they are kinda low in fat. 2.6g per bar really isn't that much. Also, unlike many other "snack/cereal" bars, there is no added salt. Again, just that that occurs naturally. They are (for a snack bar) fairly high in protein. 5.5g per bar, although not 'high' like half a block of tofu, is not to be laughed at! (I'm using the numbers from the Cocoa one btw). And there is no artificial stuff, which is always nice. 

Okay, they are not cheap. Bout 70-90p per bar. Yeah, not cheap, but worth it. Not something that I could afford to eat everyday, but sometimes, yeah. 

So, to sum up, nice texture, convenient and portable (no bruised fruit syndrome here, nor is it obliterated into crumbs). Good taste (Cocoa is my fave). A bit expensive for a snack bar, but worth it for a not-every-day thing. No added horrible stuff, and good for you. So- all good, yeah?

I mean, it would be nice if the apple one would be more widely available so that I could try it, but we can't have everything, so just go try which ever one you can find, and be impressed. 

September 10, 2014

Porridge New Man

One thing I would say is pretty essential if you are going to be doing this vegan packed lunch thingy? A good (i.e. one that actually works) insulated food flask. That means one with a wide mouth, not that type with slits you pour thin liquid out of. 

I, if any body is interested, use a Thermos Foogo. It's the right size, it keeps food hot, and it doesn't leak (though if it did leak the laws of physics suggest that it wouldn't keep food hot.) It cost me just under £20. There were cheaper ones out there (I saw some for about £5) however, this one had received constant good reviews, and I could buy it in a store. (I got mine in Boots, though it was in the Baby section.)

Of the many things that go in Foogo, the two most common are soup and porridge. The good thing about porridge is I can use the same bowl to make the oats/milk mixture once, then use different add in's  to mix it up enough so that I can have it for breakfast and lunch and not get bored. 

Saying that, I really like porridge. You might get bored of it. 

So, even if you don't love porridge enough to have it twice a day, it's still a good option for lunch. It fills you up till tea time. It's warming on a cold miserable day (and that's most days round here). It's very customisable- there are so many possible combinations for add ins. It doesn't stain like tomato soup. It doesn't spill as easy as tomato soup. It doesn't have an overpowering smell for those who like to be discrete with their lunch choices. As long as you have oats (cause you can technically make porridge with water) than it doesn't matter what else you have in the kitchen- you are all set to go. It doesn't take up any precious freezer room. It is a one pot meal. It's cheap. It's easy to eat out a food jar. 

The combination that I have most often in Foogo is the New Man combination. 

1. Chop up a load of dried apricots. When I say a load, I mean about 3-4, depending on size. I chop them up fairly small, but not minuscule. 

2. Cook the dried apricots in along with the porridge, to whichever recipe you like best. If you don't have a favorite recipe, the instant stuff is fine. You do need to make sure that you add about 2 tablespoons more liquid than you would normally though, as it will thicken up by lunch. 

3. As you are cooking the porridge, cut up a peach or a nectarine. Not as small as you cut the dried apricots, but still small enough to fit on the spoon. 

4. When the porridge is cooked, transfer it into your flask, then add a spoon of peanut butter (unless you are taking this to a nut free environment). Don't try and stir it in, leave it in a blob. 

5. To finish, layer the peach/nectarine on top. By lunch time, the heat and steam from the porridge should have made the peanut butter go all melty, and just started to "cook" the peach/nectarine so it goes softer and juicer and a more vibrant color. Ready to enjoy. (P.S. enjoy layered, not mixed in. Like a porridge parfait).