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Veganuary 2019 | Sweet Potato Peanut Stew, Fake Nando’s and Food Shame

*taps mic*.. this thing still on?

If anything was going to bring your old pal Cate out of the woodwork, it was going to be Veganuary. I’ve delved into the depths of my brain LastPass folder to recover my WordPress password, I’ve dusted off my keyboard, I’ve remembered how to string a sentence together. Let’s do this.

So, how’s it going?

By far the easiest transition to Veganuary I’ve had to date. I don’t know if its down to the mass uptake of the challenge nationally, the delight I find in novelty of any kind or just my body’s sheer desperation for an increase in vegetables after a month of surviving on whisky and crisps, but it’s been entirely painless.

I’d like to say that a widened availability of vegan products has contributed to how I’ve found my first week as it has for many others, but to be honest I’ve hardly touched them. I haven’t even gotten a Greggs vegan sausage roll down my gullet yet. I’ve rediscovered my love of food prep and signed up for weekly Riverford veg boxes. I’ve gone all in.

One drawback? The bloating. Fuck me, the bloating. My friends are all sick of the sight of my belly after a week of nightly WhatsApps to the tune of “Look! Look at how pregnant I look! Can you believe that! I’m not even pushing my stomach out! This is just what it looks like now!!”

If you’re taking part in Veganuary for the first time: please be reassured that no, you’re not alone and yes, this does stop eventually. It’s your body getting used to an increase in veg and pulses and just flipping out a little bit over such a drastic change. If you’re still bloated or uncomfortable this time next week, it might be worth breaking down what you’re eating and seeing what’s going on.

Vegan Nando’s

Pretend meat products are an expensive (and packaging-heavy) route to go down during Veganuary, so I don’t tend to veer in their direction particularly often. However, I’m a firm believer in following ones food cravings all the way to the freezer aisle and when I had a right hankering for a Nando’s, that’s exactly what I did.

Pictured above are vegan Quorn nuggets, chips with peri peri salt, peas with grated garlic, lemon juice and rapeseed oil stirred through and a generous helping of Nando’s peri peri sauce.

Verdict on the vegan Quorn nuggets: they don’t taste like chicken any more than chicken nuggets taste like chicken, but they have the same warm, familiar, stodgy, beige quality that chicken nuggets have, and are therefore a perfectly acceptable substitute.

The Great Sausage Roll Debate

It’s unlikely to have escaped your attention that this week, there has been a lot of feuding across social media sparked by – but not limited to the subject matter of – the Greggs vegan sausage roll.

I kept my head below the parapet for most of this week where internet beef (or internet beef substitute) was concerned (who has the time??!), but when I saw a journalist utter the words “What is the point of anything that isn’t healthy?”, I couldn’t help but weigh in a little bit.

Even as I write this, I’m still struggling to get past the fact that somebody involved with food professionally could hold such a stance. I wanted to share my response to that view here, to serve as a permanent reminder that food goes beyond sustenance and nutrition – two things that I’m suddenly questioned about relentlessly during Veganuary.

Food is quite literally life. Be it fresh, local organic vegetables or cold chicken balls dipped in questionable, slightly congealing sweet chilli sauce leftover from last night’s Chinese. It can, and should, spark joy and be respected and celebrated for more than just its nutritional content.

Peanut, Garlic, Ginger and Sweet Potato Stew with Coconut Sticky Rice

This is a meal I knocked up before going back to work to see me through dinner times on my 12-8 shifts. I posted it on Twitter and a lot of you asked for the recipe, at the time I gave out some half arsed instructions and the ingredients, here’s the real deal:

Serves 4

3 sweet potatoes, 1 red pepper, 3 cloves garlic, two thumb sized pieces of ginger, 3 tbsps peanut butter, 2 tbsps chilli bean sauce, 1 tbsp bouillon powder + 750ml water (or 750ml any veg stock)

Thinly slice the garlic and ginger into slivers. Heat 1 tbsp oil (I used rapeseed) in a heavy set pan and fry gently. Peel and chop sweet potatoes into small chunks. Add sweet potatoes to garlic and ginger. Chop red pepper into 1 cm chunks and add to the pan.

In a measuring jug (or other convenient receptacle) mix the peanut butter, chilli bean sauce and stock until combined. Pour over the vegetables. Bring to boil then simmer very gently until the sweet potatoes are cooked and the sauce is thick and delicious. Check after twenty minutes or so.

Sticky coconut rice: 

1 small mug rice, 1 can coconut milk, 1 small mug cold water, pinch salt

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer until rice is cooked. Refer to pack instructions on rice cooking time, but keep a close eye on it yourself – once all the moisture has been absorbed and it looks done, it’s probably done.

Thanks for still paying any attention to what I have to say about anything when I abandoned you for 9 months without a word

I’ll be back this time next week with more of the same, I hope. Until then..

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  1. This all looks delicious. I’ve never tried quorn nuggets before so I think I’ll give them a go! Food IS life, although I need to step away from the Lindt balls! 😂 Angharad x

  2. FIrstly, I reeeeally want vegan Nando’s now. Secondly, your reply to that silly Twitter comment is absolute gold – it actually almost made me a bit emotional! Food is so much more than it’s health value!

  3. Amen to that response to Blythman – her joyless and holier-than-thou attitude to food has been making me face palm for ages… As you say, it makes me sad that someone who writes about food for a living could honestly think that 😦

  4. Great post, thanks for sharing. Embarked on a year a a vegan starting 1 Jan, didn’t get the bloating you mentioned but pretty funny stuff reading your blog about it

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