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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 #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 #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 #17 Baked Macaroni and cheese: Broccoli edition

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Since my original macaroni and cheese recipe I have experienced great success and great failure in the mac and cheese department. Whilst it is such an easy meal to make, sometimes I leave the preparation too late and then end up trying to whisk, chop and  drain things at the same time and so the sauce ends up a bit over-cooked and grainy. The key is to not over-complicate the dish and remember not to over-cook the white sauce, and I think I’m on the right path to becoming the English master of Macaroni cheese. I originally meant for this to a stove-top version of the recipe but it turned out too soupy. However, with a bit of baking it reduced, kept its creamy texture and turned out great.
Whilst Mac and Cheese is one of the most decadent meals ever, you can health it up with some broccoli and a nice green salad.

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What you need: Pasta (I used a combo of shells and penne), about half/three quarters of a 2 pint bottle of milk (use less if you don’t want to bake it), three and a half table spoons of butter, three table spoons of flower, lots of mature cheddar cheese, chopped broccoli florets, finely chopped mushrooms, olive oil, one vegetarian stock cube, one teaspoon of mustard, a few handfuls of bread crumbs, two tea spoons of garlic (see below), two large pots, a frying pan and a whisk
Spices: Salt, pepper
Note: Whilst I am sure fresh garlic would work just as well or better, this little tub of garlic made cooking a lot easier and I really recommend it if you cannot be bothered chopping and preparing the garlic from scratch:IMG_1277

1: Chop the broccoli into small florets and finely chop the mushrooms. Heat two tea spoons of garlic in olive oil in the frying pan until fragrant, season with salt and pepper and then sauté the broccoli and mushrooms for a few minutes until the mushrooms are browned and the broccoli is shiny and a brighter shade of green. Then set to one side to be heated a bit later.

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2:Add one vegetarian stock cube to a sauce pan and pour over boiling water, when the cube has dissolved add pasta and cook per packet instructions

3: In a large sauce pan heat three and a half table spoons of butter on a medium heat. When it has melted almost all the way add three table spoons of flour and whisk for a few minutes until the roux is a nice golden colour, then turn to a lower heat and slowly whisk in a bit of milk at a time. Remember to whisk pretty much constantly whilst doing this to make sure the sauce is smooth, and add one tea spoon of mustard and sprinkle with salt and pepper

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4: Turn to the lowest heat whilst keeping your cooker on and add the cheese whilst continuing to whisk until the cheese is melted. Then add the vegetables and pasta to the source and stir until everything is covered

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5: You can just leave it there, but if you would like to bake it just  tip the mac and cheese into a baking tray. Don’t worry if the sauce seems quite runny and soupy, it will reduce very quickly in the oven! Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 15-25 minutes until golden. Add some home made garlic bread (coming soon!) and green salad. Enjoy!

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Mhmm…

 

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #16 Penne All’ Arrabbiata

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Penne  All’ Arrabiata is a a fantastic recipe. It’s cheap, tasty and incredibly easy to make, and it doesn’t even require that many ingredients! As Arrabbiata literally translates as “angry” in Italian you can imagine that this sauce is meant to be quite spicy, but if you prefer a milder taste I am sure adding less chilli would work just fine. There are loads of different variations of this recipe, some use onions and some require sugar and even red wine, but if your just looking for something warm and easy after a hard day at work/uni/procrastinating, this is the one for you.

What you need: A tin of chopped tomatoes (or passata, but I find it doesn’t have as nice a taste), about 6 cloves of garlic (crushed or minced, I prefer crushed), two chopped chillis, a few handfuls of fresh basil leaves (chopped), extra virgin olive oil, penne pasta

Spices: A few sprinkles of oregano, salt, pepper, a sprinkle of chilli flakes

1: Heat olive oil in sauce pan and when slightly warm add the chopped chilli and garlic. Stir on a medium heat for a few minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn.

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2: Add the basil leaves and chilli flakes and stir for a few more minutes to infuse the oil with lots of lovely flavours

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3: Add the tomato, oregano, salt and pepper and stir on a low heat. Make sure it doesn’t boil as that will impair the taste. Let it simmer for about ten minutes (until the penne is cooked) and stir frequently

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4: Cook penne pasta as per cooking instructions

5: Serve with cheese and enjoy! I just use cheddar because I’m lazy, but you can buy vegetarian hard cheese in the traditional parmesan style if you prefer.

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #12 Macaroni and Cheese: Kale and Mushroom editon

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I’ve been meaning to make macaroni and cheese for ages and on Thursday I finally got around to it. This is the first time I have ever made macaroni and cheese or a cheese sauce, and it didn’t end up as.. saucy.. as I was expecting, mostly because I used too much pasta and too little milk, but it still tasted really nice and for a first attempt I am very happy with it. I added mushrooms and kale in an attempt to add some health to the layers of carbs and fat (because kale makes everything healthy, right?) but you probably shouldn’t try and eat this every day or you will become humongous.

What you need: Spirally pasta (or actual macaroni), two and a half table spoons of flower, three quarters of a small pint of milk (I used semi skimmed), some butter, grated maturecheddar cheese, breadcrumbs, three mushrooms, a few handfuls of kale

Spices: Salt and pepper

1: Cook pasta as per cooking instructions, and heat some butter in a sauce pan

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2: Add the flower and some salt and stir thoroughly until it is all mixed together

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3: Add some milk, a small amount at a time, and stir with some more salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then simmer for 7-10 minutes

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4: Add the grated cheese, again a bit at a time, and stir in. Leave for five minutes and prepare mushrooms/kale

5: When the sauce smells cheesy enough and all cheese is melted, stir in the vegetables and pasta

6: Add to a baking dish topped with extra cheese and breadcrumbs and leave for 20-25 minutes

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7: Serve and enjoy!

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Lazy Vegetarian meal ideas #11 Fabulous tomato, basil and pine nut pasta sauce

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I got the idea for this meal idea from an awesome blog post I saw today: http://foodfulife.com/2015/08/12/pasta-with-easy-fresh-tomato-sauce/, and although I added a bit to the recipe and changed some of the ingredients I totally owe the author for this fabulously easy, cheap and delicious meal. This was a little hard for me, even though its so easy to make, because I love spices and I didn’t use any (apart from pepper) for this recipe, but sometimes simple is better and it is definitely the case here. This is also the first time I’ve used fresh basil and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it at first, but it worked out really well.

What you need: Tinned chopped tomatoes (although fresh would probably be better), fresh basil (chopped), a medium white onion, fresh garlic (to taste, I didn’t use that much), pine nuts, olive oil, spaghetti

Spices: Salt and pepper

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1: Chop the onion and fry on a medium heat for about five minutes, then add the garlic and fry for a few more minutes

2: Add the pine nuts and fry together on a medium heat for a few minutes (make sure to stir and not burn the pine nuts!)

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3: Turn to a low heat and stir in the tomato and finely chopped basil. Keep on a low heat and make sure it doesn’t start to boil

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4: Cook spaghetti as per cooking instructions whilst keeping an eye on the sauce

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5: Stir the spaghetti into the sauce and serve with olives (optional). Enjoy

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