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Why being a vegetarian is easier than eating meat

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Over the years I have heard so many people say that being a vegetarian is harder, more expensive and more time consuming than eating meat. “I would be vegetarian, but I can’t afford it.” Or “I’ve thought about it, but I just don’t have the time.”. I’ve never understood what the hell these people were talking about, personally. Just to be clear, I don’t care if you eat meat or not. No one is obliged to cut it out, and if you see my post on vegan ethics and the environment you will see I don’t want the world to turn vegan. However, you should get your facts straight and if you do want to make the change you shouldn’t be scared off because of misinformation, so I’ve compiled a list that will hopefully clear some things up.

1: Being vegetarian is cheaper than eating meat.

My average weekly shop…

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #28 Super easy uber tasty roast vegetables

This meal was probably the easiest thing I have ever made and it was also very, very tasty. It can be eaten as a main meal if your dieting or trying to cut down on gluten, and can also make a great wrap, pie or samosa filling. I made this whilst my stove was broken so this required virtually no preparation.

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What you need: Two or three medium sized potatoes cut into small pieces, one chopped red pepper, two chopped aubergines, a few chopped mushrooms, crushed garlic, half a chopped courgette, one finely chopped chili and an oven.

Spices: Fenugreek, Asafetida, chilli powder, paprika, salt, pepper, herbs de provence, rosemary, a few chilli flakes.

Note: I like my food very spicy, but if that’s not your cup of tea feel free to use less chilli or cut it out altogether.

1: Soak the chopped aubergines in cold salted water for about twenty minutes. Chop the potatoes into small bits and finely chop the rest of the vegetables

2: Drizzle a little olive oil onto a baking tray and add the garlic and spices

3: Add the vegetables and stir until they are covered in the spices. Drizzle a little more olive oil if necessary

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4: Heat the oven to around 180 degrees and bake for around 40 minutes

5: Serve with some soy sauce and enjoy 🙂

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #27 Ratatouille (optionally vegan)

My stove broke last week. For over a week now my household has had no hobs and no big stove to use. I cannot cook pasta, or rice, or boil potatoes or do any of the amazing things we modern humans can do with an electric cooker.
All we have at the moment is a very small microwave size oven. This has posed a challenge as I don’t really use the oven that much and about 80% of my recipes require at least one hot plate. However, this has forced me to cook outside of my comfort zone and over the last week I have made some very tasty vegetable based dishes. The one I am most proud of, and the one I am sharing now, is my first ever attempt at making  ratatouille. Although being able to cook the sauce on the stove first may have helped, it still turned out really well and was also a gluten free, healthy and reasonably low fat dish.

What you need: An oven, a few thinly sliced white potatoes, two thinly sliced aubergines, one thinly sliced courgette, a carton of tomato passata sauce, a few chopped mushrooms, olive oil, a thinly chopped chilli, a few cloves of crushed garlic

Spices: Salt, pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, dried herbs de provence, chilli powder

1: Pre-soak the chopped aubergines in cold salted water for about 15-20 minutes

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2: Chop the vegetables into small, thin circles. Drizzle a little olive oil on a baking tray, add the garlic and arrange the vegetables. Ratatouille should ideally follow the nice spirally shape that makes it so pretty, but if you are lazy like me you can arrange them how you wish.

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3: Drizzle with some more olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, dried spices and a little chilli. To make the sauce without the hob, simply mix the passata, garlic, spices, salt and pepper and stir thoroughly and then pour over the vegetables.  You can also add a little cheese on top.

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4: Put it in the oven for around 45 minutes. Remember to keep an eye on it, stir it a few times and don’t stop cooking it until the potatoes are soft

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5: Enjoy with cheese (optional)

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #26 Return of the Zoodles

I can understand why someone would be skeptical about zoodles, but please try to keep an open mind here. They are better than you would think, but it’s true that they don’t completely pass for real pasta. The annoying thing about zoodles is that when you cook them they shrink a lot, so to get enough you really need to use at least two courgettes and even then you may end up with  less than you want, and it’s also less filling than regular pasta so you may need to eat more to avoid snacking on crisps. That being said, herby zoodles with pasta sauce and cheese is a really tasty meal that looks and feels decadent when really it’s just vegetables and optional cheese, so if you are trying to be healthy but have an aversion to healthy food you should definitely give it a try.

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What you need: At least two courgettes, a spiralizer (or ready made zoodles), garlic, olive oil, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a few handfuls of chopped mushrooms, two chopped peppers, olives, sundried tomatoes, a chopped white onion, two chopped chillies (optional)

Herbs: Basil (fresh or dried), oregano, herb de provence (or your choice of Italian herbs), chilli flakes, salt, pepper

1: Get two pots (one a bit larger than the other) and heat olive oil in both. After a minute or two add garlic and fry on a medium heat until fragrant (but make sure it doesn’t burn). Then add some basil and chopped chillies and cook for a few more minutes.

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2: Add the mushrooms and peppers to one pot and saute for a few minutes. Spiralize the courgettes if necessary and add to the other pot and stir with the basil and garlic. Add some more herbs to both pots and stir.

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3: Turn down the heat on the mushrooms and peppers and add the tinned tomatoes. Add salt and pepper and cook for around ten minutes whilst stirring occasionally and making sure it doesn’t boil.

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4: Cook the zoodles on a medium heat for ten minutes, making sure to stir occasionally and add extra herbs if desired. After the ten minutes is up turn off the heat and toss with the olives and sundried tomatoes

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5: Add cheese (optional) and enjoy your fake decadence.

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #25 Chickpea and Kale Delight

I love chickpeas. Like, seriously. I could write a sonnet about chickpeas. Chickpeas are cheap, tasty and protein filled beauties and I don’t know what I would do without them, and they are also fabulously cheap! This recipe is my take on the more traditional spinach and chickpea combo; kale has a slightly sweeter taste, but I prefer it personally.

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What you need: A can of chickpeas, about half a pack of kale, olive oil, an onion.

Spices: Asafoetida, fenugreek, tumeric, chilli powder, cumin, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, salt, pepper, chilli flakes

1: Heat oil in a large saucepan and add some asafoetida and mustard seeds. Heat the oil over a medium heat for a few minutes (chop the onion in the mean time) until it becomes fragrant. Then turn up the heat, add the onions and spices and fry for five-seven minutes

2: Add the kale and sauté on a medium heat for a few minutes. Then add the chickpeas and some more spices and fry for about five minutes

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3: Turn down the heat, add a small amount of water (literally a few splashes) and cook for about ten minutes

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4: Enjoy with my delightful sauté aubergines (coming soon)

 

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #24 Tofu stir fry

I know I’ve posted several stir fry recipes in the past, but this one was so tasty I just had to share it. Rather then go through the long process of drying, frying and re frying the tofu I bought some ready marinaded Cauldron tofu pieces. They tend to be slightly more expensive and a bit harder to find, but as they are so much quicker to cook it’s worth it, and they are far harder to cook wrong and end up soggy and horrible in the way tofu sometimes does.
Stir fries are great because its such a quick and easy way to cook your favorite vegetables, and as this meal has the protein factor it’s an all round easy, healthy and tasty vegan meal ideal to ward off the winter germs.

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What you need: A large frying pan or wok, olive oil, one large chopped onion, one pack of ready marinaded Cauldron tofu, a few chopped broccoli florets, half a pack of trimmed mangetout, some chopped cabbage leaves, a few handfuls of chopped mushrooms, two finely chopped chilies, basmati rice. I would normally add peppers and bean sprouts, but unfortunately I was too lazy to go shopping so had to make do with the contents of my fridge. If you have any peppers/other vegetables lying around feel free to add those.

Spices: Salt, Pepper, Chinese 5 spice, Vegetarian stir fry sauce, Soy Sauce, Sesame seeds

1: Heat olive oil in a large wok/frying pan and add the sesame seeds.  Lightly fry them for a few minutes (or as long as it takes to chop the onion), then add the onion and fry on a high heat for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a low heat and saute whilst you chop the rest of the vegetables

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2: Add the marinaded tofu and a few sprinkles of Chinese 5 spice, a few dollops of stir fry sauce and soy sauce and a few more sesame seeds, and fry for about 5-7 minutes.

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3: Whilst your frying the tofu, cook the rice as per cooking instructions. To make sure the rice doesn’t go horribly wrong simply pour the basmati rice and a pinch of salt into a small pot, then and add boiling water until it just covers the rice. Cover with a lid and keep on a high heat until the water starts boiling, then turn to the lowest heat and keep covered for around 10 minutes.

4: After frying the tofu for 5-7 minutes, add the rest of the vegetables and stir fry on a high heat for about four minutes whilst stirring constantly. Add some more of the spices and soy/stir fry sauce to taste, but don’t add so much that you drown out the taste of the vegetables

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5: Serve and enjoy

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #23 Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

When you think of vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese,  do you think of Quorn?

A lot of people tend to assume that if you are making a sauce that would normally have meat in it, such as spaghetti bolognese or chilli con carne, then you must be substituting it with Quorn. The idea that Quorn is the essence of vegetarianism, and all vegetarians must eat the stuff can be a little annoying when every place you go to throws Quorn at you because, clearly, that’s all vegetarians eat. As a lacto-vegetarian Quorn isn’t particularly appealing to me, and even without the egg factor it normally tastes a bit wrong. For those of us who aren’t particularly enthusiastic about this genetically modified mushroom hybrid, there is always soy mince. However, from my experience it often looks like bird food and has a disturbingly chewy texture. I am sure there are better vegetarian mince alternatives out there, but if you haven’t got the time (or the money) to look for them remember that lentils are not only the right shape for traditionally mince based dishes but they are also tasty, healthy and very cheap.

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What you need: A tin of green lentils (I don’t think dry would work in this case), two tins of chopped tomatoes, half a pack of small chopped mushrooms, a chopped red pepper, one finely chopped chilli, a few basil leaves, one chopped onion, a few crushed garlic cloves, olive oil.
Spices: Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, Chilli Power, a sprinkle of chilli flakes

Note: This recipe is really cheap to make. One tin of lentils is around £0.55 and the chopped tomato is around £0.35. Your average decent shop bought jar of bolognese sauce is going to be around £1.00. Even if you don’t normally cook from scratch, just give it a try. You will save money and gain on taste.

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1: Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan and chop the onion and crush the garlic. Drop a little  garlic in the heated oil and if it sizzles (but doesn’t burn, don’t let it burn!) it is hot enough for the onions. Add onions/garlic and fry for about five minutes. Then turn to a lower heat and cook for a few further minutes until translucent.

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2: Add the chilli and basil and cook on a medium heat for about two minutes, then add the peppers and mushrooms and sprinkle in the spices. Fry for a bit longer to let the peppers soften then add the lentils, stir together, and fry for about five minutes, then transfer to a low heat.

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3: Add the tinned tomatoes and some more spices, stir and cook on a low heat for about ten minutes/whilst cooking the spaghetti. Make sure it doesn’t start to boil as that will impair the taste

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4: Cook the spaghetti as per pack instructions. To add some extra flavor to your spaghetti add a stock cube to the water and remember to salt!

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5: Enjoy with cheese and olives!

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #22 Zoodle Stir fry

Image-1 (5)I’m not going to lie, I love grains. I love bread, pasta and rice and I doubt I’ll be anywhere near gluten free for the foreseeable future, although gluten free pasta and bread is actually pretty good. However, I also overdid the eating and overeating and yet more eating at Christmas, so in an attempt to lose 50000 stone and also fight off the winter cold that’s been trying to take me down for a few weeks now, I’ve made an all vegetable stir fry.  I’ve always been a little dubious about zoodles; although courgettes are good, surely they can’t pass for noodles. However, when fully cooked and drizzled with soya sauce they are actually pretty good and take on a noodle like appearance and texture.

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What you need: 3/4 or one whole courgette/zucchini,  chopped mushrooms, two chopped peppers, two chopped chillies, half a packet of bean sprouts, half a packet of trimmed mangetout, one chopped onion, one spoonful of garlic paste, a few chopped broccoli florets, olive oil, a spiralizer, a wok or large frying pan.

Spices: A few dollops of Chinese five spice, a sprinkle of crushed chillies, pepper, soy sauce, vegetarian stir fry sauce, pre-made packet of black bean sauce (optional)

1: Spiralize the courgette/zucchini so it takes on the shape of regular noodles, then set aside

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2: Heat oil in wok/frying pan and chop the onion; spoon in some garlic paste, add the onion and fry for a minute, then add the chinese five spice and fry for a few more minutes. Turn to a low heat and continue to cook whilst chopping the other vegetables

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3: When the vegetables are chopped, turn up the heat on the onions and add the peppers, chillies, mushrooms, broccoli and mangetouts and bean sprouts, fry for a minute or two then add the stir fry sauce, soy sauce and (if using) the black bean stir in, then add the zoodles and fry for a few more minutes.

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4: Enjoy, you healthy fiend.

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #21 Fried Aubergine and Chickpea delight

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If you’ve read any of my previous recipes you may already know that I have a deep love for aubergines. Although I used to think they were really hard to cook, and it’s true that they do require a bit of preparation, when these fabulous fruit/vegetables are cooked right they really are fantastic. This super easy recipe combines two fabulous and healthy foods, aubergines and chickpeas, to make a tasty (if a bit oily) meal that you can enjoy with rice, in a wrap or even as a filling for delicious Indian inspired pies.

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What you need: A large aubergine or several baby aubergines (this was my first time cooking with baby aubergines as our local Tesco ran out of the big ones, and I think they are actually a little nicer than regular ones), a tin of chickpeas, two chopped chillies, olive oil (you will need quite a lot as the aubergines absorb it like a thirsty drunk), one medium/small onion.
Spices: Asafoetida, fenugreek, tumeric, cumin seeds, garam masala, Coriander seeds, a little pinch of chilli flakes, salt, pepper, curry seeds, mustard seeds

1: Thinly slice the aubergines and soak them in cold salted water for around twenty minutes.

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2: Fry a few dollops of asafoetida in olive oil until starting to warm up, then add the mustard seeds. After a minute or two add the chopped onions and fry for a few minutes, then add the chillies. Turn to a low heat and sauté for about five more minutes until the onions are translucent and reduced in size

3: Add a bit of all the spices (I tend to add more than you probably should, but damnit it just tastes so good!) and then add the aubergines. Add oil as required as the aubergines will lap it up, and fry for about five minutes.

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4: Add chickpeas, fry for a few more minutes and then turn to a low heat and cook for a further ten minutes. Season to taste

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5:Enjoy with soya sauce

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A place for vegetarians: Diwana Indian Vegetarian Restaurant in Euston, London

A place for vegetarians: South India in London!

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Diwana Bhel Puri House is one of my favorite restaurants of all time. Located close to Euston train station in the Camden borough of London, this authentic Southern Indian restaurant is cheap (the daily buffet is £6.95, and most meals are under £10), it’s BYOB so you save a lot on alcohol (restaurants normally have ridiculously over-priced beer) and best of all it’s all vegetarian! The buffet only runs during lunch time Mon-Fri and slightly longer on the weekend, but if you miss it don’t be too upset as you can have one of the many menu dishes at a very good price (please see below).

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This isn’t your regular curry house, and you won’t find things like Korma or Masala on the menu. This is Southern Indian food, which includes dosa’s, thali’s and poori’s as well as the more well known dal and bombay aloo. Although I do love a good korma, I personally prefer south indian as a: there is far more choice for vegetarians (in fact it tends to all be vegetarian!) and b: I find there is more variety in dishes and flavor.

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I’ve been going to this restaurant for over 16 years now (I was very young), and I really recommend that all London based vegetarians (or carnivorous that won’t run screaming at the idea of a meatless meal) give it a try. This place will prove that a purely vegetarian diet can be far from boring, and will make you want to visit South India so you can eat this delicious street food every day. The seats are a little cramped and some people have complained about the sparse setting, but the food more than makes up for any complaints.

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The waiters are friendly, the setting is understated but has an authentic feel with Indian music and decorations, and even though whilst you are there you will probably eat so much food you won’t feel human for a few hours, you won’t regret it. This restaurant proves that vegetarian food is far from boring, that there are many things you can do with beans, and it sells delicious dosa’s and thali’s that are unfortunately quite hard to find in most British Indian restaurants.

Image-3This is a deluxe Dosa priced at only £7.05! Dosa’s are rice pancakes which can either be eaten by themselves with an array of sauces or with a potato filling. I remember when I was in Singapoor around 8 years ago we went to this fast food place which, rather than burgers and chips, had dosas and other Indian dishes. I was in heaven! I’ve been meaning to try and make a dosa for some time and even bought a packet batter thing for the pancake, but in the mean time I will make do with these bad boys.

Image-9Thali’s are a set meal with rice, chipatti’s or poori’s, dahl, vegetarian curry and desert. £8.95!

Check them out at http://www.diwanabph.com/ or wonder down Drummond Street in Euston sometime, it has this and at least two other authentic Indian Vegetarian restaurants at delicious prices and authentic quality.