Simple Seasonal Lunches / Vegan Week Two

Throughout November I’m joining in with World Vegan Month. It’s aim is to celebrate the vegan food movement and encourage others who may not be vegan to try to add more plant based meals into their diet. As someone who has been vegetarian for thirty years and eats a lot of vegan meals already, I wanted to take part as I do feel strongly that we could all do with eating a little less dairy and of course, meat if you choose to eat that. It’s also my goal to share some recipes on here as hopefully it will inspire you to get a little more creative with lunchtimes or eat more plant based meals.

The first week of November, I found myself struggling at lunchtimes to find simple and relatively quick meals to fill me up. It was my aim on the second week to come up with a couple of options that would work for both eating at home or popped into a lunchbox for my husband. We don’t rely on alternatives to meat for mealtimes, only occasionally having Quorn or ready made falafel and it’s always my goal with food to embrace seasonality.

Both of these recipes below are quick, super nutritious and celebrate Autumn’s produce - cauliflower, kale, potatoes and spinach. Making up a big bowl of either the chickpea wrap mixture or the roasted cauliflower salad will provide you with lunches for several days, so it’s worth spending a little extra time on a weekend cooking.

Spiced Chick Pea & Potato Wraps - I’ve used curry paste here to add some warming spiciness but these would work just as well with a little pesto mixed through the yoghurt and using roasted aubergines and peppers for a more Mediterranean flavour. If you don’t fancy the non-dairy yoghurt then simply replace it with some natural yoghurt or greek yoghurt. These wraps are also a great way to reduce food waste as you could throw in any leftovers like potatoes, carrots, kale, chard, swede, sweet potatoes, parsnips etc.

Ingredients - One tin of chickpeas, drained (conserve the water to make pavlova), potatoes, frozen peas, kale, cashew nuts, coriander and two wraps. For the dressing - non-dairy yoghurt (I use Alpro plain) and a jar of Balti curry paste.

Boil the potatoes for around five minutes then add the kale and frozen peas. Once cooked, drain and leave to cool. Chop the cashew nuts into small pieces. Chop the coriander. Pop the cooled potatoes, peas, kale into a large bowl. Add the chickpeas, cashew nuts and coriander. Mix to combine. In another small bowl, mix the non-dairy yoghurt with a spoonful of the Balti curry paste. You may need to add more paste if you want the dressing to be spicier. Pour over the vegetable ingredients and mix well. Fill wraps.

Roasted cauliflower salad with lentils, hazelnuts, spinach & grapes -

Ingredients - A cauliflower, 1 red onion, olive oil, seasoning, curry powder, 100 g green lentils, vegetable stock cubes, baby spinach leaves, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, red grapes. If you don’t have hazelnuts or pumpkin seeds, substitute for an alternative - walnuts would be great in this recipe. If you are not vegan, a little feta would be lovely added too.

Chop the cauliflower into florets (mine was a green cauliflower from the market garden) and a red onion and toss in some olive oil, a pinch of salt, a little black pepper and a teaspoon of curry powder (you can add more if you like more spice). Roast in the oven (200 degrees C) for around 30 minutes. In a large saucepan, place 100 g of green lentils* and cover with hot water. Add two vegetable stock cubes and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid, turn the heat down to simmer the lentils for around 20 minutes until they are tender (keep an eye on the pan as you may need to add more hot water if the lentils soak it all up too quickly). Drain and then pop in a large bowl. Add the roasted cauliflower and red onion. Toss in a handful of shredded spinach, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts and red grapes. Mix well. I also made a simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and seasoning.

* Rinse well under cold water before you use them.

Thoughts on Week Two:

  • Vegan cheese smells like my teenage son’s feed. It also tastes like I imagine his feet would. It’s truly vile. Making my son’s pizza with real cheese the other night was torturous and almost broke me, but I was good and only had a sprinkling of nutritional yeast flakes on top of my pizza.

  • My embarrassing wind problem appears to have eased and I feel pretty good.

  • Even though I’ve simplified lunchtimes, I’m still spending lots of time in the kitchen with meal prep in the evening as I’m having to make variations of meals to keep everyone happy. This also means more money is spent on the food budget which might not work out so well in the long term.

  • I’m enjoying getting creative in the kitchen again as I did feel I was in a bit of a slump before and was resorting to making the same meals every week.

Last week I ate:

Saturday - Breakfast - Bowl of overnight oats with pear, blueberries, dates, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds. Lunch - Lentil soup with spinach and crusty bread. Dinner - Potato, chick pea, kale and green bean curry served with rice.

Sunday - Breakfast - Bowl of overnight oats with pear, blueberries, dates, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds. Lunch - Lentil soup with spinach and crusty bread. Dinner - Aubergine ‘meatballs’ with tomato sauce and spaghetti, with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast.

Monday - Breakfast - Two slices of toast with almond butter. Lunch - Cauliflower & Hazelnut Soup (recipe from here). Dinner - Aubergine ‘meatballs’ with tomato sauce and spaghetti with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast. Snacks - one piece of date and pear crumble slice.

Tuesday - Breakfast - One bowl of overnight oats with pear, blueberries, dates, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds. Lunch - Cauliflower & Hazelnut soup. Dinner - Homemade pizza & tomato sauce with kale, red onion and mushrooms.

Wednesday - Breakfast - Bowl of overnight oats with pear, blueberries, dates, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds. Lunch - spiced chick peas, potatoes, peas, kale and cashew nuts wraps (see above for recipe). Dinner - Linguine with vegan pesto made from walnuts, basil, broccoli, spinach and sundried tomatoes.

Thursday - Breakfast - Bowl of overnight oats with pear, blueberries, dates, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds. Lunch - spiced chick peas, potatoes, peas, kale and cashew nuts wraps. Dinner - Linguine with vegan pesto made from walnuts, basil, broccoli, spinach and sundried tomatoes.

Friday - Breakfast - Bowl of overnight oats with pear, blueberries, dates, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds. Lunch - Roast Cauliflower Salad with Lentils & Grapes (see recipe above). Dinner - Puff pastry tartlets with roasted veg and ‘egg’ mixture made with flax seeds and water, served with potatoes and green veg.