Sesame Noodle Lettuce Wraps

Just popping in with a really easy and delicious recipe for you today. I managed to throw this together in about 10 minutes, so perfect for a quick dinner after a long day. As I’ve mentioned in recent posts…I’ve been exhausted just by existing recently, so I was really pleased that I could get some vegetables in my belly without falling asleep before they reach my plate.

Also a simple recipe to chop and change ingredients around if needed. I had an aubergine that was close to turning, so griddled some of that to pop on top but you could add crumbled tempeh, fried tofu or seitan, avocado, sesame seeds, it will all work well here.

Sesame Noodle Lettuce Wraps

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lettuce
  • a handful of black bean noodles
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • splash of rice vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1/4 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 a chilli, finely sliced
  • a few tbsp of roasted peanuts, chopped
  • coriander
  • aubergine, griddled (optional)

Directions:

  1. First off, cook the noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes before draining and rinsing with cold water.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, heat a little oil in a pan and fry off the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds or so.
  3. Add to the cooked noodles along with the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and lime juice. Use your hands to mix it all through until the noodles are coated.
  4. Line up your lettuce leaves, place a small amount of noodles on before topping with spring onion, pepper, chilli, peanuts, coriander and a sliced of griddled aubergine (I just brushed a little sesame oil on and cooked it through on my griddle pan, easy)
  5. Drizzle a little extra sesame and lime juice on before stuffing in yer gob

Super easy right? Also so tasty. I’m not usually a fan of wrapping things in lettuce over delicious carbs but I will make exceptions for dishes like this.

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I made the error of getting a baby gem lettuce so the leaves weren’t quite big enough, it was delicious and everything but I’m glad I was eating them alone in my bedroom…’cause I pretty much had to shove the whole thing in my mouth in one go and it was so not attractive.

Just a cautionary image for you all there…

Baaiii!

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GRUB Mcr ExtraVEGANza

I’ll be honest, there’s not much that will convince me to get out of the house these days. But, when I heard that GRUB were planning an all vegan street food event for Veganuary…I knew I had to get in on the action.

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So, before I get into what I ate and the event itself, here’s what the line up looked like.

Yakumama – Latin American Street Food! Serving Arepa, Wontons and Plantain Stew

Oh/Mei/Dumpling – Beautiful, tasty dumplings, handmade in Stockport

Otto-men – Mediterranean and Ottoman inspired deliciousness

Manjits Kitchen – Vegetarian Indian Street food

Fritto – Italian Street Food, making jaws drop with their fresh donuts, polenta chips and panzerotti (deep fried calzone to me and you)

In Truffle We Trust – Local chocolatey truffle goodness

Pasta Factory – Local vegan friendly restaurant who I have blogged about already here. They had their amazing homemade cheeses, crackers and pasta for sale

Los Antojitos – Vegan Mexican Kitchen, selling salsas and hot sauce

Blawd – Local bakery who bake over at Common Bar in the Northern Quarter

Coffee Cranks Coop – Awesome Manchester based workers coop, providing tea, coffee and hot chocolate

Just allow yourself a moment to take all that in.

There we go. Doesn’t it sound amazing? I spent weeks drooling over this line up.

Sadly, I couldn’t try it all (saving for top surgery is financially ruining me dontcha know) but my recent lack of appetite gave me enough funds to have a bloody good go at it. Having pals with me to share was also helpful, especially as my belly game is poor right now.

We arrived early  because there was way more interest in the event than Grub anticipated and I take warnings of queuing times and traders selling out very seriously indeed. Also, more time for face stuffing.

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The venue is super cool. I really like The Alphabet Brewing Co. I went to scream along to Iron Chic there last year and it’s a great space run by really cool folk. Sadly I can’t comment on the booze because both times I’ve been, I’ve not been in a drinking place but I hear very good things about it. It is pretty chilly because heat and brewing don’t mix, but if you wrap up warm it’s all good.

I had planned to go round taking loads of pictures but I somehow ended up queuing for dumplings pretty much immediately.

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Oh my LORD. These were good. Really, really good. I did think they sounded a little bit healthy for my tastes but good grief, they were magic. I could eat these over and over again. Both the dumplings were frigging tasty and I really loved the sticky rice.

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As soon as I finished my dumplings, I headed over to Blawd to sort out take home cake because there was no way I was gonna let it sell out while I was there. I went for the Chocolate Fudge Cake and the Chocolate Salted Caramel Brownie because chocolate and caramel beat everything.

They had some non chocolatey stuff on offer, like a Lemon and Lavender Cake and Banana Bread which looked great.

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The Chocolate Fudge Cake was my favourite out of the two, really moist and the icing was super rich and delicious. I loved it. The Chocolate Salted Caramel Brownie was also pretty spectacular, sooo sweet, I think I heard my teeth whimper. I don’t want to be the guy that says ‘too sweet’ but I’ve had to save the rest for later because it was too much for one sitting for me.

As soon as I was caked up, I caught a glimpse of my friends Arepa from Yakumama and was offered a Wonton to try.

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It was so good that I ran back to the queues for more food. It was a long wait, I think I was there for nearly 30 minutes as it had got veeerrry busy by this point. Totally worth it when I ended up with one of these in my hands.

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I split this with a friend of mine to save tummy space. It was incredible. By far my favourite thing at the event. Delicious. It had all my favourite things, black beans, guac, plantain, chimmichurri… I was kind of sad I only had half of one but I also spent that queuing time next to Fritto and had already decided to get their £10 deal..

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So that’s where I ate my Arepa…in the queue for fried food. I’d like to say I do this struggle for you dear readers, but that would be a lie. I queued for a long time. My Arepa was finished within seconds and I lost all feeling in my toes. I got to watch all the doggos visit the dog bar though, so that was good fun.

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I finally got my hands on ALL THE FRIED THINGS! Polenta Chips, a Donut and this BEAST of a fried Calzone (I had to steal the Calzone and Donut pictures from their website because I ate them before I could take my own pictures.)

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I only managed a few of my polenta chips (SO GOOD) before my body gave up. I’m sorry, I told you my belly game has taken a hit in recent months. I took the donut and calzone home though and they were frigging delicious. I can say the donuts are better fresh from the fryer (I’ve had these before at Levenshulme Market y’see) but they were still good and the calzone heated up fine in the oven at home and made a great breakfast this morning.

This was the point where I just had to stop. I couldn’t eat anymore, I had plenty to take home in my bag and I’d spent a lot of money. Also, it was HEAVING at this point and folk were queuing to get in outside. I was sad not to pick up an almond cheese from Pasta Factory or any of the hot sauces from Los Antojitos. I was also silly enough not to load up with a brew or two from Coffee Cranks while I queued…next time for sure.

Because…there will be a next time! Grub have confirmed that the event was a success and they’re planning to do an all vegan event sometime soon. Yisssss!

I was also told on the way out that there is always at least one vegan option at all the non vegan events each week. This is pretty cool… but like I said, it’s hard to convince me to leave the house unless there’s plenty to gorge on, so I’ll need to keep my eye on the line up to see if those tasty Arepa’s are due to make another appearance. I will venture outside for those any day.

So thank you Grub for hosting such an awesome event. I can’t wait to see what you have planned for us vegans in the future. Keep it up!

Feeling all the Feels. Baking all the Cakes

I’m back with an update and some cake, go me!

I’ve finished my second week of work now and as of today I’m back on full hours. I won’t lie, it’s been a super overwhelming experience. Getting back to normality has been hard and I’m still struggling to deal with a lot of strange and unexpected emotions that have been surfacing.

My first working weekend has been and gone, bringing up all kinds of extra feels. In my absence I’d forgotten what it’s like to be repeatedly misgendered all day, so that was painful. I’d finish a 2 hour till stint wishing for the wrath of Dark Willow to free me from the clutches of my skin cage. Warren, you are one lucky bastard.

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But, I persevered. I dealt with crowds, questions and small talk. I pushed through brain fog. I didn’t have a single panic attack, despite feeling on the edge of one for most of Sunday. These are all good positive things that I am trying to remind myself of because when I got home on Sunday, all of the feels in the world hit me…pretty much like this:

It really was enough ‘fun’ for one day. More than enough. I ended up crawling into bed and crying it out for a few hours because apparently I am a child again and that is how I must deal with all the emotions!

I woke up yesterday morning TIRED and not up for doing anything at all. I spent most of the day getting into a new murdery podcast All Killa No Filla and having a bubble bath. I didn’t want to sink back into my old routine of hiding all day, so I pushed myself to get up and do something.

I decided to make cake, because…what else is worth doing in life?

You got it.

Nothing.

I had some free bananas and a free lemon from work, so I decided to use them up. I added lots of coconut because why the hell not?

Banana Coconut Lemon Cake

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Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dessicated coconut (plus a little more for decorating)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a loaf tin with parchment paper
  2. Mash the banana and mix in the oil, milk and vanilla extract
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, coconut and baking powder
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just mixed
  5. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 45-55 minutes
  6. Once the cake has cooled, mix the lemon juice with the icing. Smother the cake in it and top with lemon zest and dessicated coconut

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This was super quick and easy and I like quick and easy rewards. I managed to end the day feeling like I’d done something worthwhile.

I’m always an anxious human, but I have a lot of extra fears now that my safety blanket of a phased return is up. I know I’m not better yet and I’m already feeling the pressure to be “well” again, whatever that means.

For now at least, I have cake to take with me to work this morning, so I’ll get through today. I’ll deal with tomorrow when it comes.

 

Life is Hard but Plantain & Tacos tho

Holy shit it’s 2017 already and I did another Emil classic of disappearing for a few months. I’m so predictable, it’s embarrassing.

I don’t usually go into my mental health stuff a lot here, but I’ve decided to post a little bit about how I’ve been the last few months. I’ve been in a very dark place so feel free to skip ahead to the recipe below if you’re not interested or not able to read further, but writing has always been good for my soul, so I’m going to give this a go and hope I don’t get scared and delete.

My mental state has slowly been unravelling since September and by the time it got to late last year, my brain had had enough. I borked it. I sank to a whole new low in the long history of my depression. And it scared me. I can just about deal with myself when I go into self destruct mode, which I passed through briefly..because why skip out on all the fun? This time it was different.

I sank lower and lower until I just about gave up on myself, hid in my bed and waited for everything to end. I didn’t care enough to hurt myself anymore than I was already hurting, I didn’t have the fight in me to try and push through it. I just wanted everything to stop. It didn’t. The world kept going while I kept myself hidden. For the first time in my life I couldn’t function and be an adult. I  couldn’t do the basics like eating, drinking or getting dressed in the morning. Leaving the house was impossible because everything outside of my bed was terrifying and exhausting. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so completely alone before. I’ve been suicidal and have acted on it in the past, but I’ve ever wanted to die as much as I did then. I know the only reason I didn’t do it was because I had zero ability to act on anything at all.

I can’t describe how frustrating it is to not be able to care for yourself. The humiliation when someone puts food in front of you and pleads with you to eat. Finding yourself in the supermarket, wild eyes, barely able to breathe, tears running down your face because you made it there, but what the hell are you supposed to do next? How did you get there and why are you even there at all? Seeing fear in the eyes of the people who love and care for you, because they don’t even know what you are anymore. Being so fucking bored of the same complaints going round and round in your head. The agony of not being able to just let it all go and move on. The realisation that no matter what you do, you’re always going to end up back in this place and eventually you will find yourself lost in it forever. It will consume you because it’s bigger and stronger than you can ever be. It’s painful and hopeless.

It’s been really hard, but I’ve finally been able to start getting my life back together. I started off small; short walks in the park with the lovely Jenny from Spice Box of Earth and her gorgeous pooch Vulpe, venturing to the cinema with friends, having a conversation with someone (even if I could barely process it). I’m now in a place where I’m back at work on a phased return, four hours a day, three times this week. I’m over halfway through. I’m super tired but I know I can finish this week and I also have some lovely plans with even lovelier people at the weekend. So good things are coming my way. Also Kobi has been amazing during this whole time, lot of love going out to this little guy

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Today I managed to cook a proper meal for the first time in weeks. On my way back from a recent visit to Jenny’s I came across a shop that sells Plantain. I suddenly found myself feeling inspired. A feeling I had not had in a long time. So I bought one and promised to cook with it. That was last Saturday and I only got round to it today, but I’m really pleased that I managed to put something together.

Black Bean & Plantain Tacos

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Ingredients

For the plantain:

  • 1 plantain
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cajun spice mix
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • oil for frying

For the black beans:

  • 1/4 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili flakes
  • 2 tsp mexican oregano (I used the Cool Chile Co brand)
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tin of black beans
  • 1 tsp salt
  • handful of coriander, chopped

Other things:

  • Guacamole
  • Coriander
  • Lime juice
  • Salsa
  • Corn tortilla’s

Method

  1. First, get the black beans going. Heat a little oil in a pan and fry off the onion until golden. Add the pepper and garlic and fry for a few more minutes. Add the chipotle and oregano and fry for 30 seconds or so.
  2.  Add the tinned tomatoes and black beans. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or so before seasoning with salt and fresh coriander
  3. While the black beans are simmering, slice the plantain and coat in the spices and brown sugar. Heat some oil in a pan and fry off until crispy (about 2 minutes on each side)
  4. Heat up a pan and warm through the tortillas because stuffing with black beans, plantain, guac, salsa and a little lime juice and coriander.

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These were really delicious, I actually enjoyed eating them. The plantain was sweet and caramelised which just worked with everything else in the tortillas. I could only manage 1 because my stomach has shrunk to nothingness, but hoping I’ll be able to cram another one in later this evening.

I’m feeling slightly positive that things are on the up for now, and I hope I’ll be posting more here soon. If I don’t it’s because life is overwhelming and I’m tired, but as soon as I’m ready I’ll get back in the blogging saddle for sure. I have lots of things planned.

I hope you all had the best time over the holidays. I’ve missed blogging and I’m looking forward to coming back. Also if anyone has any good recipes for plantain, send them my way. I want to cook with it more.

Slow Cooked Peanut Tempeh

A quick update just to say that Aidah seems to be doing really well since her seizure. We’re still waiting on blood test results for her thyroid but things have calmed down a lot. It has also pushed me to get out of my damn bed and cook some more, so I finally have a new recipe for you!

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After hating tempeh for a really long time, I’ve recently become a convert to it. I had a super bad experience of preparing it myself and thinking it tasted like plastic in my early vegan days, so I avoided it until I realised other people could cook it much better than I can.

A few months ago I started buying pre marinated stuff to add to dishes. I’ve come to love that funky, bitter tempeh taste and decided to venture into preparing it myself again. I’ve made a few lovely stir fries but recently I cooked a really nice dish in my slow cooker that I want to share.

This dish is perfect for tempeh haters as it had zero funky tempeh taste! I was actually a little bit sad about this but it was so tasty that it didn’t matter in the end. It was also pretty simple because the slow cooker does all the work for you!

Slow Cooked Peanut Tempeh

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Ingredients:

  • 200g tempeh
  • 1 medium sized sweet potato, chopped into bitesize pieces
  • 1 bunch spring greens, finely chopped.
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 thumb of ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • generous splash of lemon juice
  • salt, soy sauce, rice vinegar and chilli sauce to season
  • fresh coriander and noodles to serve alongside

Method:

  1. Start off by placing the tempeh in a steamer and steam for 10 minutes. While this is going on, fry off the shallots, ginger and garlic for 5 minutes on a low heat. Add the dried coriander and fry for a further minute or so.
  2. Place the shallot mixture into a blender along with the chillies, peanut butter, stock, and lemon juice and blitz until smooth.
  3. Pop the sauce, tempeh and chopped sweet potato into the slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours. If your slow cooker cooks on a high heat then go for 6 hours.
  4. 40 minutes before it’s due to finish, add the spring greens and a little water if it’s dried out a bit.
  5. Cook the noodles and chop the coriander.
  6. Before serving season the tempeh with a little salt, soy sauce and chilli and rice vinegar if that’s your thing.
  7. Serve alongside noodles and top with chopped coriander and a little extra chilli sauce

Yes it’s a bit faffy having to steam the tempeh and fry off the shallots beforehand but if you’re in a rush in the morning you can do these bits the night before.

I really, really liked this dish. It was a great way of using up the ridiculous amunt of half used jars of peanut butter stacked in my cupboards and it’s pretty adaptable. I only used sweet potato and spring greens because that’s what I had in the fridge, but most veg will work here…I’m thinking peppers and broccoli next time! Just be careful not to add soft veggies to the slow cooker too early or they’ll go mushy.

I’m looking forward to cooking more tempeh recipes, what is your favourite way of preparing tempeh? Let me know in the comments

I’ll end this post with an intense Aidah stare

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Mental Health, Chores, Polenta & Celeriac Patties

I’ve had an on off cold since last Thursday and yesterday I woke up feeling rotten. Whilst I’m relieved that Winter is finally upon us (the mild weather has been freaking me out), the flat was freezing this morning and I was not in the mood to get out of bed. The only thing that managed to pull me out of the comfort of my duvet was determination to get our living space in order. I’ve been on a bit of a downer the last few months…one peek at my flat and it shows. Life has generally gone like this

  1. Wake up. Struggle to leave the bed. Get up late
  2. Go to work
  3. Come home. Go back to bed.
  4. Leave bed for toast/crumpets/crisps.
  5. Return to bed. Sleep.

On days off work I’d generally skip steps 2 & 3 and maybe repeat step 4 a few times.

I have had a few ‘busy’ days, I went to a great Trans Advocacy training day run by Action for Trans Health on Saturday followed by a hilarious shin dig over at my friend Jenny’s place. Plus I’ve spent a few afternoons over at Teatime Collective to try the new menu with friends. But generally, I’ve been super unproductive…unless speeding through Buffy counts for something…does it?

Now looking at that list you might wonder how our flat could become messy, considering most of my time is spent at work or in bed. I honestly don’t know. My partner is a whirlwind of mess so that’s a contributor but apparently doing very little can create a lot of mess. Plus, the bed is more crumb than it is duvet. I’m gross, I know.

So, when I woke up to the realisation that

1. I’ve finished all of Buffy again

2. bed crumbs

I knew I had to get my shit in order.

I did pretty good. I did all the washing up, cleaned down the kitchen (including wiping down the cutlery drawer. Get. Me.), cleaned the bathroom, put cloths and bath mats in the wash, threw rubbish into bin bags and then I hung up some clean clothes.

It was around 11.30am by the time I finished all of this and whilst the flat wasn’t sparkling, I was done with the chores. I didn’t want to stop there though, so I decided to get the slow cooker going. I love my slow cooker, it basically makes me feel productive for no real reason. So when I put some polenta, veg stock and a little rapeseed oil in there, I was feeling on top of the world.

“I’m so productive” I thought to myself “What TV show should I get into now?” and so while my polenta cooked for a whopping 5 hours, I took the opportunity to get acquainted with The 100 over on Netflix. Yeah, yeah, I probably could have gone on a walk or whatever, but it was a miracle I managed to get out of bed at all.

Now, I’m not going to post a recipe for the Slow Cooker polenta (2 cups polenta to 8 cups boiling water and a splash of olive oil if you must know. High heat for 1 hour, low heat for 4, stir a bit) because it’s not really a proper recipe, but I did whip up something pretty simple and tasty to go with.

Almond & Celeriac Patties

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a large celeriac, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium potato, cut into chunks
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 50g oats
  • 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
  •  salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Put the celeriac and potato into a pan of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes and then drain.
  2. While the vegetables are cooking, fry up the onion until golden.
  3. Mash the celeriac and potato, stir in the cooked onion, the almonds and pats. Season with salt and pepper and pop into the fridge for an episode of The 100 (approximately 40 minutes)
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan, form patties out of the mixture and fry for 4 or so minutes on each side until golden.

I made a quick tomato sauce with onion, garlic, mushrooms, pepper, olives and some tinned tomatoes to top these patties with, but something simple like a sweet chilli sauce, hummus or good old hot sauce would work well on these. I liked the combination of these with polenta and the tomato olive sauce though, it was a really tasty dinner and my body was grateful for vegetables. It’s also given me something new to do with celeriac, so yay!

The only thing I’d change is maybe adding a little wholegrain mustard to the mixture as it would compliment the celeriac nicely. They are quite simple without anything added but I guess if you’re jazzing them up with a homemade sauce, simple works.

Also, can I just say that Slow Cooker Polenta is the creamiest polenta I’ve ever had? This so beats stirring the stuff in a pan for forever, I will never make it in a pan again.

Although if you use the quantities I suggested above, it makes a helluva lot of polenta.

Just to warn you.

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…I better start getting creative…

6 Tips to Help New Vegans this Year

[insert Happy New Year, omg time has gone so fast line in here]

Can you tell I’m not big on new year? Anyway…I was browsing the Veganuary hashtags on Twitter this morning and I had an idea to post up a few tips to help folk who are giving veganism a go this month. It’s been a long time since I was a new vegan…over 8 years now in fact, but after a long hard think, I’ve come up with a few things that I hope will help.

So here they are. 6 tips to help new vegans.

Keep it simple

I think it’s easy to overwhelm yourself when making big changes to your lifestyle. When I first went vegan I told myself that it would be hard, that I would struggle to find food. I panicked. I spent the first few months making all kinds of strange meals with bizarre, expensive ingredients. Of course some of it was good, but I prefer simple eating for every day life.

To put it simply, you’ll find veganism a lot easier if you can work it around your usual routine. My everyday meals are quick and easy to make, I save the fancy time consuming cooking for weekends or feeding my friends.

Here’s a few easy meal suggestions: Jacket potatoes and beans, pasta with tomato sauce/vegan pesto, vegetable stir fry with noodles, veggie sausage/burgers with mash, beans/mushy peas, roasted veg and couscous, soup and crusty bread, bolognese with soya mince, lentil dal, bean chilli

Try new foods

Don’t view this as a limitation, I eat a more varied diet now than I ever did before. Take the time to experiment with new textures and flavours, obviously within your own comfort zone. If you struggle to try new things, have a think to see if you’re comfortable to prepare the vegan foods you do like a little differently. Of course there will be things that you don’t like, but there will also be foods that you will love, I promise.

Limiting food can make you feel like you’re missing out and that’s not a good feeling to carry around.

Be kind to yourself

Mistakes can happen. When I decided to go vegan, I spent the first few months eating obscene amounts of Party Rings. I didn’t think to look for gelatine in the ingredients because…IT’S A BISCUIT. WHY? Luckily Party Rings are now vegan, so go grab a pack or two. But, if you do slip up, whether intentionally or not, don’t give up, get yourself some vegan pizza and get back on track.

Also, dinner can go wrong. I’m not saying it will but experimenting with new foods and a different way of cooking can lead to disappointment sometimes. Even normal every day cooking can lead to burning if you’re really into watching Buffy and lose track of time. It’s frustrating but it’s okay. The best way to deal with this is to make sure you have some essentials in your kitchen; baked beans, bread, rice, pasta, pasta sauce, veggie sausages, instant noodles, flavoured packets of couscous. These can be a real time saver in this kind of situation. Having a few takeout menus on hand can also help.

Planning is key

It sucks when you’re really hungry and you don’t have any food on you. The last thing you want to do is wander around shops, frantically reading labels. The best thing in this situation is to have a little something with you. If you’ve got the time, plan your lunches and snacks for when you’re at work or away from the comfort of your kitchen. Carrying some dried fruit, nuts or a few nak’d bars is also a good idea for when hunger hits.

But, sometimes it’s not easy to plan. Life can be busy and stuff gets in the way. Your best option at this point is to find a supermarket or grocery shop. Bread, peanut butter, hummus, salsa, crisps, prepared salad bags and some dressing, carrot sticks, crackers and fruit these are all good lunch/snack options if you’re stuck.

Support is there if you need it

There are lots of vegans out there who are happy to help and listen to any frustrations you might have. We’re easiest to find online, look out for vegan groups on Facebook or search a few vegan hashtags on Twitter. If you’re looking for recipe inspiration, check out the many great vegan bloggers that are out there. Ask around to see if there are any meet ups or events going on near you. If you can’t find something why not organise a vegan potluck or pizza party with your friends? Big changes are easier to deal with when you have a support network around you.

If you’re in the Manchester area there is loads of stuff going on. Check out the Vegan Manchester social group, Manchester Vegan Potluck, Cake Liberation Front and Manchester Vegan Society.

Eating out is not impossible

There are many vegan options out and about if you know where to find them, but at the beginning finding a spot for a quick lunch or a suitable restaurant for an evening meal can feel impossible. Take some time to find out what options are in the area. Big cities will often have completely veggie or vegan eateries and many restaurants now label vegan options or have vegetarian options that can easily be adapted if you just skip on the cheese. Take a look at some online menus and if you can’t find anything, give the restaurant a call and see what they can do. There have been many occasions when I’ve been made something tasty and off menu at a non vegan restaurant and the chefs are usually pretty cool about it, quite often I’m told they’ve enjoyed cooking something new.

Lots of chains cater for vegans; Pizza Express, Wagamama, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Nandos, Las Iguanas, Pret a Manger, Boots, Toby Carvery (yes, really.). Even Pound Bakery offer a vegan sausage roll and Greggs Belgian Buns and Iced Fingers are vegan too. Check out the Happy Cow website to see what’s in your area.

So those are my biggest tips. I’ll finish with a little reassurance…once you get the hang of it veganism is really easy….and I can also promise you that your life won’t be about scanning ingredients lists in the supermarket forever. Enjoy the experience, meet new people and eat as much tasty vegan food as possible.

Can any of my vegan readers offer any tips for new vegans? What did you struggle with at first? What are your favourite blogs/websites for tasty recipes? Comment below with your own tips.

Now go! Go and be vegan!