Crunchy Granola Cookies

These cookies are my go-to mid afternoon snack. They have a crumbly, crunchy texture thanks to the nuts and toasted oats in the granola. I used my favourite Deliciously Ella granola, but I’m sure any nutty granola would work just as well. These are also very versatile; feel free to add in any other ingredients such as cacao nibs, raisins, seeds, etc.

This recipe makes 6 cookies.

Ingredients:

100g Deliciously Ella Nutty Granola

50g plain flour (I used spelt flour)

35g ground almonds

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1/2 tsp baking powder

75ml non-dairy milk (I used brown rice milk)

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Mix all of the ingredients, except the milk, in a large bowl.

3. Add the milk gradually; keep adding and stirring until fully combined but not too sticky.

4. Separate the mixture into 6 even balls, slightly flattening onto the baking sheet.

5. Place in the oven for 15-17 minutes, until the top starts to turn golden brown.

6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

7. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

Rachel

A Las Iguanas Vegan Dinner

As I had never been to Las Iguanas before, my friend suggested we should go. I am more than ever up for trying new types of foods and am more likely to experiment when I am out, picking something off a menu that I wouldn’t necessarily cook for myself at home. I was a little worried that that the authentic flavours of the Latin American menu would be too strong and spicy for my preference, but I was certainly proved wrong.

The interior was fun and decorative with maximal colour which reminded me of the extravagance of the Rio Olympics opening ceremony. We went straight after work on a Monday evening and therefore it was not overly busy so we could select where we sat. We opted for the circular booth cushioned seats which I think made the visit even more comfortable and warming.

I was very pleased when I was asked at the door whether we required a veggie menu, as this is still rare at most chain restaurants. The vegetarian and vegan options were extensive, so much so that I was almost overwhelmed by the choice which ranged from tapas to main dishes from Brazil, Mexico and Peru; there was also a wide range of sides.

Between catching-up, we managed to select what we fancied off the menu. My friend went for the veggie chilli, which I was also very tempted by, which consisted of sweet potato, butternut squash and chickpeas and came with crispy blue corn tortillas, whereas I selected the smoked chipotle pulled jackfruit burrito bowl. Their presentation of dishes was amazing; mine came in a deep circular bowl filled with black beans, avocado, grated vegan cheese, slaw and salsa. Both dishes were packed full of flavour and the best part of mine was the jackfruit which was sweet and had a soft texture; this combined with the melted cheese, beans and rice made the meal for me.

We also treated ourselves to a dessert. Although I was drawn to the brownie and cookie combo, I wanted to try something new so I had the Chocolate Coconut Tart. This was rich and indulgent but was balanced by the nutty base and scoop of dairy-free coconut ice cream, meaning it wasn’t too sickly. My friend also devoured her Cinnamon Churros with the chocolate sauce.

I mentioned my trip to another friend that I usually explore the Nottingham brunch places and coffee shops with and she has also never been. Therefore we have added it to as seemingly never ending list of places to go when we next meet, meaning I will definitely be back to try out some more of their dishes.

Rachel

Pudding Pantry Vegan Night

An evening at my favourite place with one of my favourite people.

My friend and I decided to go to one of the Pudding Pantry’s vegan nights to try out some of the treats from their vegan alternative menu. There was a selective menu of cakes, puddings, drinks and pancakes.

I was torn between the Biscoff and Oreo cake and the sticky toffee pudding. I concluded that I would try something that I had never had there before and therefore went for the pudding with vegan ice-cream. In a way, it didn’t taste how I expected it to, but it was equally as delicious as I imagined. I’m glad I tried something different and I think it would also be amazing with vegan custard, which was also an option.

Chloe selected the mixed berry compote pancakes and a Biscoff oat milkshake. I was really tempted by the latter, and similarly the dark chocolate or peanut butter one. However, I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish both if I got one with the pudding. Although Chloe couldn’t finish both as I suspected, she loved the pancakes and couldn’t believe how much the milkshake tasted of Biscoff; it was like drinking crushed up biscuits.

The most popular item off the menu seemed to be the Biscoff freakshake. It did look amazing, but we decided that it would be too sickly and filling. It looked like it came with vegan coconut cream and biscuits on top; maybe next time, I’ll just get one of these instead.

I’m not sure why it has taken us so long to go to one of these nights, however I am now sure we will be going back again! The menu had so many different options on so there would be no problem finding something to suit your preferences; it will be interesting to see what puddings are on the vegan night next month.

Rachel

Oaty Breakfast Biscuits

These savoury vegan biscuits would be perfect for breakfast, but equally great as a mid-afternoon snack as they work really well topped with a berry jam or nut butter for example. They only have five simple ingredients and are very quick and easy to make. I tend to make them on a Monday and store them in an air-tight containing so I can snack on them throughout the week.

Makes 12 biscuits

Ingredients:

200g oats

80g ground almonds

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

150ml almond milk (or any other dairy-free milk)

Method:

• Preheat the oven to 180C and line two trays with baking paper.

• Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, and then add the milk gradually to combine assessing the amount needed. Keep adding the milk until the mixture begins to stick together without it being too sticky.

• Using your hands split the mixture into 12 and roll into balls. Flatten these onto the lined baking tray.

• Place into the oven for 25-30 minutes, until they start to turn golden brown. Turn the biscuits over half way through.

• Remove from the oven, leave to cool, and then enjoy.

Rachel

Vegan Frittata Recipe

I know a vegan frittata may sound strange seeing that it is typically made from eggs; however this makes such a delicious alternative and has a very similar soft, light texture. I adapted this recipe from Rhiannon Lambert’s YouTube channel.

The base of this recipe is tofu which is so high in protein and I am coming to realise how versatile the ingredient can be. This recipe would be perfect for a weekend breakfast and left-overs could be enjoyed later in the week for lunches. I have listed the vegetables below that I have used, however it would work equally as well with any vegetables that need using up.

The recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 red pepper, sliced

12 cherry tomatoes cut in half

1 courgette, sliced

1/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted

1 pack firm tofu (280g)

1/2 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp mixed herbs

Method:

Preheat the oven to 190C and line a circular baking tray with baking paper.

Slice the pepper, tomatoes and courgette and add to a roasting tray. Bake for 20 minutes. Half way through roasting, give the tray a shake to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile, add the tofu, almond milk, nutritional yeast and mixed herbs into a blender/food processor and blend until completely smooth.

Once the vegetables have roasted, stir into the tofu mixture and pour this into the lined tray. Smooth the top and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the top starts to go golden brown and a knife comes out clean.

Slice the frittata into 8 pieces, then enjoy.

Rachel

Nottingham Cafe Discoveries

Over the last month or so, I have started to go out with friends more for brunches, lunches and coffee and cake. It has not only been wonderful catching up with people, but also to venture out of our usual cafes in Nottingham, allowing us to discovery new and up and coming independent businesses.

Effy Cafe

Although very small and with very little seating, the coffee shop is now one of my favourite spots in Nottingham. It is located down a small side street and is therefore tucked away from the main shops. This makes it have an exclusive feel, adding to the appeal.

The decor is stunning and definitely designed for the Instagram photos: pink walls, neon pink lights, greenery, with the odd insert of black and white. They also have ceramics on display which I loved.

As a result of it being new, the cafe has limited options and because it is a specialty coffee shop, 75% of the menu is the different types of coffee. However, for non-coffee drinks like myself, there were still a couple of options. I was drawn to the golden and pink lattes. I found out the golden one consisted of a warming blend of spices, whereas the pink was a beetroot latte. I had never tried the latter before and so I opted for this with oat milk.

What I enjoyed the most was the fact that they partner with other independent local businesses, such as The Beeston Brownie, Tough Mary Bakehouse and feature a new roaster each month. I opted for the cookie dough brownie which was amazing, so gooey, with the slightly crunchy cookie dough on top.

Blend

I have recently been going down to Blend once a week or at least every couple of weeks. Situated in Sneinton Market, Blend is all about bringing people together and bringing life into an underappreciated part of the city. This space is a lot bigger than Effy and as a result has a more open and communal feel – it is also lovely to sit outside on the benches when it is sunny. They have a great selection of drinks, including the matcha, beetroot and turmeric lattes which I love. But they also serve a range of fresh pastries, handmade cakes, and their famous grilled-cheese toasties.

What I love the most is that they serve a wide range of dairy-free milks and vegan options, including vegan cakes and pastries, which I am still yet to try. When I go for lunch, my favourite toastie is the ‘Sir Parsnip McCartney’ which consists of vegan mozzarella, parsnip and a spiced pear chantey. They are really generous with the filling and their fresh bread is artisan and divine.

On the weekend, I often head to the coffee shop in the afternoon to grab a drink and sit and work. It is so much nicer to work in an environment surrounded by other creatives also on laptops with music and the hum of talking in the background.

Copper

Although this cafe is less niche and is larger being also a bar and lounge, it was still a relaxed place to go, especially in the week in the daytime. They do offer the usual brunch and lunch options; however their menu is unique in terms of the combinations they put together; this is what keeps their menu interesting. Unlike the other two cafes, this one is not hidden away, but is in the centre of town and so I can image it does get busy at times.

I went for the falafel wrap that comes with sweet potato crisps and a side salad. The wrap was warm and crispy and was packed full of hummus, falafel and red cabbage. My lunch from the main menu was a filling portion which unfortunately was unlike some of my friends’ options, which were off the brunch menu. Having said this, we all really enjoyed the food we did order.

Out of the three, this is potentially my least favourite. This is not to say I wouldn’t go back as I definitely would, it just has a darker interior and a less community-based atmosphere. I do however feel that it would be great for an event in the evening or a drink in the bar.

Rachel

Almond Coconut Biscuits

These biscuits may look very plain, but trust me these are anything but boring. They’re the easiest, most delicious vegan biscuits that have that satisfying snap when broken. This is my go-to quick baking recipe when at uni. They are made from just five ingredients: ground almonds, almond milk, buckwheat flour, coconut oil and coconut sugar. This recipe makes six biscuits.

Ingredients:

100g ground almonds

90g buckwheat flour

40g coconut oil, melted

1.5 tbsp coconut sugar

3 tbsp almond milk

Method:

1. Put all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together.

2. When all of the ingredients are combined, press the mixture into a ball, wrap in cling film and then place in the fridge to chill for approximately 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 180c fan and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.

4. After 30 minutes, remove the biscuit dough from the fridge and separate into six pieces.

5. One at a time, roll each section of mixture in your hand, flattening it onto the baking tray to form a biscuit shape.

6. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning the biscuits upside half way through.

7. When they are golden brown, remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Enjoy!

Rachel

Brewbabu

I hadn’t seen one of my oldest friends for a few months as a result of being away at uni and her having a full time job. Charlotte took me to Oundle, to a quirky boutique tea shop style restaurant in the centre.

They appear to specialise in teas – as soon as you walk in, a large selection of loose leaf teas are evident everywhere on the shelves behind the counter. Black boards were also positioned around the space, showcasing their specials and the food of the day. This added to the quirky appeal and personal approach.

We found a table at the front window where we had a lovely view of the quaint town centre. After looking through the food menu and extensive drink list, we went to order at the counter where a great selection of beautifully displayed cakes and tray bakes were positioned.

I selected the goat’s cheese and spinach shortcrust tart and a green loose leaf tea, where as my friend chose the soup of the day, curried root vegetable which came with a choice of either a scone and jam or bread. For a drink, she opted for an iced latte.

My tea came served in teapots on an individual tray, along with a three minute sand timer to show me how long I needed to let it brew for. This was something I had never experienced before. Despite it being a Saturday lunch time and quite busy in the cafe, the food arrived rather quickly. My tart was delicious and what I think worked really well is the fact that the pastry was delicate and thin and therefore didn’t distract from the warm filling. The side salad not only added to the presentation on the slate board, but also tasted great. I was worried Charlotte’s soup would be too spicy for me, however it was only lightly spiced and very warming.

We both enjoyed our time in the cafe and it is certainly somewhere I would like to return to. It is a warm welcoming place with friendly staff and a perfect space to sit and talk with a friend.

Rachel

Dark Chocolate and Oat Cookies

These are easy, wholesome crumbly cookies made of simple ingredients. They are my new favourite snack, especially as they are perfect to make at the start of the week to take to uni. They are made within one bowl plus they don’t need any fancy equipment like a food processor so they’re accessible and very quick to make. I’ve been enjoying a couple of these every afternoon to boost my energy.

This recipe makes 6 cookies.

Ingredients:

94g oats

2tsp ground flaxseed

1/4tsp bicarbonate soda

15g coconut sugar

Pinch of sea salt

40g coconut oil (melted)

30g dark chocolate (or 20g chocolate + 10g cacao nibs)

10g ground almonds

10ml plant-based milk

Method:

• Preheat the oven to 180°C

• Make the ‘flax egg’ by combining the flaxseed with 6 tsp of water.

• Combine the oats, bicarbonate soda, coconut sugar, salt, melted coconut oil and ground almonds into a large bowl.

• Break-up the dark chocolate into small chunks and add to the bowl, along with the flax egg.

• If the mixture is not combining together, add in the milk gradually until it starts to stick together.

• Spoon the mixture onto a lined baking tray in 6 circular mounds, slightly flattening the top of each.

• Bake in the oven for approximately 12-15 minutes, until they start to turn golden.

• Leave to cool slightly and devour!

These are delicious when still slightly warm and gooey in the centre. But they are equally as great cold throughout the week. Store in an air-tight container.

Rachel

Talking Tastebuds with Jack Harries

Being a massive foodie myself with an interest in nutrition and health, talking Tastebuds by Venetia Falconer is one of my favourite podcasts. The podcast is all about food and I enjoy listening to how it fits into the guest’s lives and wellbeing. This episode in particular resonated with me as it explored such a vast number of current issues.

Jack Harries is someone who really inspires me; he is a filmmaker, environmentalist and passionate storyteller and overall just a humble individual. I admire him for being driven, ambitious and for fighting for what he believes in; he recently got arrested after protesting with Extinction Rebellion, at the International Petroleum Conference in London.

He chose to take the quite radical act of protesting as a result of being terrified for the state of our future. I agree that we are running out of time and this annual conference where the biggest names in the gas and oil industry meet to network and figure out how to make more money is destructive. I personally put this down to power but the government needs to start thinking about our planet over profit; I really feel that we have the resources, we just need the right people in charge to put a stop to the negative impacts.

As a result of reading about the destructive results of our behaviour, I often overthink every action when it comes to sustainability. Jack put it perfectly stating that you have to be realistic when it comes to making changes – it is near impossible to live on the planet without making an impact. Whereas, I now feel that as long as people have a good intention then that is a great place to start.

I loved how honest and open Harries was in the interview, sharing his experiences openly. It was amazing hearing a male talk about veganism and mental health which are often taboo subjects, especially for males – it is often seen as diminishing masculinity. I have found that the hardest part of dealing with a mental illness is the stigma attached to it, but listening to open conversations like this one could really help to spread awareness and stop people from suffering alone. We all have a secret life in a way, one where we are dealing with different difficult things but no one speaks about it even though so many others are going through it as well.

Rachel

Filmore & Union

Image result for filmore and union nottingham

I have walked past John Lewis’ Filmore & Union union cafe a couple of times previously, however I have only recently had the chance to go in. Filmore & Union offer the brand’s wellness-inspired juices, organic coffees, healthy breakfasts, gluten free cakes, salads, wraps, bagels signature soups and tagines. I feel that it is a perfect cafe to attract a health conscious consumer who likes to treat themselves to a pure, natural and wholesome meal or drink.

It is certainly a feel good space with a calming ambience where mum and I were able to relax and enjoy what was on offer. The interior was all bound with natural light, live plants which I loved as it showed their connection to nature and love of organic produce.

It is often hard to find a healthy restaurant outside somewhere like London, especially one with both eat in and take out options. That’s why I appreciate their ethos, believing in a balanced lifestyle as the core to a healthy lifestyle.

At lunch time, mum chose the egg mayonnaise roll from the deli counter and I went for the vegan burrito wrap which came toasted and warm. We both very much enjoyed our choices; we were served fresh, unprocessed food which was also delicious. The food was nourishing and packed full of flavour. The dishes were vibrant and used seasonal, locally sourced and nutrient dense foods that we were delighted with. The portions were perfect for a lunch time meal and we also liked how they both came with a side salad.

We enjoyed the cafe so much that we went back later that afternoon for coffee and cake. We opted to share a slice of their fudgy chocolate brownie. We were amazed it came served with thick Greek yogurt. They have nailed the perfect gluten free and vegan brownie. It had a rich taste, but was balanced out perfectly with the creamy, yet light yogurt; it was delicious.

Rachel

St Martin’s Coffee Roasters

My friend wanted to take me to an independent cute cafe for lunch went I visited her in Leicester. Decorated with wooden beams and benches and fairy lights, St Martin’s seemed like the perfect location. It was very popular as we went on a Saturday lunchtime, however we didn’t mind waiting for a seat. The coffee shop, burger restaurant and coffee roastery is located in the beautiful surroundings of St Martin’s Square. It had a very hand-crafted feel to it which appeals to my arty side.

The lunch menu was packed full of different sandwich and toasted sandwich options, catering for both meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans. I always love to see an open kitchen to know that food is made and prepared fresh by hand which was the case in this cafe. The menu used seasonal ingredients and artisan bakery bread which was soft and delicious.

Their drink menu was extensive with coffee that is freshly roasted at their roastery, a 10 minute walk away, hot chocolates and a detailed tea menu. I have previously had a chai latte but the only dairy free milk available was soya which I have since discovered I do not like. However I wanted to try it again, this time without milk and it was delicious. It had a lovely warming cinnamon taste. My friend went for a hot chocolate and it came with chocolate swirls on top which looked so lovely and well presented.

For food, I chose the avocado, mozzarella, pesto, spinach and sun dried tomato sandwich which came on fresh ciabatta bread. My friend chose the soup of the day, which I was also tempted by. It was leak and potato and it looked so warming and satisfying, also coming with thick granary bread. My sandwich was packed full of the ingredients and was the perfect portion size for lunch.

Rachel