Sunday, 28 August 2016

Ohana Superfoods Hot Chocolate

We recently cycled into Newquay to watch some of the Boardmasters event at Fistral Beach, and arrived in need of some vegan sustenance.  We took turns scouting the many food and drink stalls for something both vegan and enticing, and were left wanting on both counts.  How disappointing that the vegan revolution in Cornwall didn't extend to the foods on offer here (we heard that the main music side of the festival fared better).  Many years ago there used to be a van selling amazing tofu burgers at this event, but we haven't seen it there for a few years now (thinking about it, that might be why we stopped going!).  As usual (for a surf comp. in August) there wasn't a lot of wave action happening, so we resigned ourselves to a bit of hunger while watching the amazing skills of the BMX'ers on the ramp. There were no problems with progress with those guys. Respect.

After a while our gnawing hunger got the better of us, and we wondered where to head to refuel. Enter Ohana. We can't remember where we'd heard of them; it could have been through a friend, or Cornwall Vegans Facebook group.  Either way, when we looked through the menu sat out back on their sun terrace overlooking the expanse of Newquay Bay, we kicked ourselves for not checking them out sooner.  To say that they are vegan friendly would be an understatement. When we saw a vegan 'Superfoods hot chocolate' on the menu, it didn't take us long to start our order with that; also adding a quinoa burrito, a falafel sandwich, and some chocolate cake.  When they asked if we wanted vegan whipped cream on our hot chocolates, well... it would have been rude to refuse!

I don't think we'd have ever come up with the idea for a superfoods hot chocolate ourselves, but we're glad somebody did.  It was delicious.  Made with almond milk, cacao, turmeric, cinnamon, and maca, it was just the thing to re-energize us.  A definite winner.  The burrito was another one.  Packed with quinoa and roasted peppers, with just the right amount of chili heat.  The Falafel sandwich also went down well, but wasn't on quite the same level.  It was good, but could have done with a few slices of avocado or some sauce, as it was a little bit dry.  Put it this way though, none of it was left on the plate.  The chocolate cake was really good too.  It must have been, as there was only one slice left for us to share!  

Ohana means family in Hawaiian, and that's the feel of the place.  You feel welcome, even as a vegan! (we shouldn't have to say that, but some places have yet to catch up).  With great food, great views, great music, friendly and welcoming staff, what's not to like?  They also host live music events in the evenings too, which we really should make more of an effort to attend.  See their Facebook page for details.  Since that first visit we've been back quite a few times, to fill empty post surf bellies, and to top up our hot chocolate levels.  In fact, we've even tried making it at home.  Here's our version...

Superfoods hot chocolate for two

We used Good Hemp Milk, Hasslacher's Hot Drinking Chocolate bar and also their Panela, and added in 1/2 tsp ground turmeric and 1/3 tsp ground cinnamon, simmering for a minute or two, before adding more hemp milk to cool it a little, and whisking in 1/2 tsp Maca.  Who wants to wait 20 mins before it's cool enough to drink?


Thursday, 25 August 2016

Vegan Event Hub

The new & improved website has launched! (I've even handmade an illuminated sign to celebrate.)

SpiritualImagine the situation; you are heading off somewhere and you are all up for seeking out the best vegan opportunities available to you in the chosen destination at the said time (yes even outside the amazing world of Planet Cornwall)?  Enter Vegan Event Hub. What about if you had a vegan event planned and you wanted to shout out to the world that it was happening?  Enter Vegan Event Hub again. 

How lucky are we that the very creation of such an amazing resource has happened within Cornish shores?!  How proud are we that one of our own has come up with such an amazing idea? Very is the answer.  And you know what?; the website looks amazing too!  Love it, love it, love it.  So proud.

Not only is it an amazing resource to bring worldwide veganism together (Viva La Revolution!) but it makes me feel all cosy and warm inside that all that vegan, lovely, kind stuff is happening on our planet.  It's like a big old vegan planetary hug.

If you are looking for the vegan angle on animals, travel, knowledge. sound and vision, health and fitness, campaigns and demonstrations, food and drink, festivals or spiritual ideals, you'd be a bit bonkers mad if you didn't stop off at Vegan Event Hub.  So 'get in there' and please do find, promote and illuminate this wonderful global resource.  It simply has to go global now, especially as the vegan interns have put in such an effort!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Vegan Chick'n and Mushroom Pie

Most vegetarians are more than familiar with the 'orange takeover' of Quorn on the supermarket shelves whilst us long term vegans wondered what all fuss was about and cursed at the non-vegan monopoly that has existed for way too long. No longer though.  In the past year Quorn has introduced a vegan range. I have however been slow on the uptake and Quorn has only really just come onto my radar, probably because I'd spent way too long ignoring the 'orange glow' in the shops already. Processed food isn't a regular theme with us either.

However, a recent visit involving my omni/vegetarian/vegan family led me to seek time saving, big family meal ideas which suited the tastes of everyone but didn't compromise my own ethics.  I thought I'd give the Vegan Quorn Pieces a go and, with the help of some equally convenient Jus Rol puff pastry, I decided on making a big old chick'n and mushroom pie. Let's just say that I not only got away with it big style (with a big thumbs up from the two omnis), but Phil demanded I make another after my family had left that he didn't have to share with everyone!  It is now likely to become a regular convenient treat for those weekday evenings when a good old pie is exactly what is required.

Not one to write a recipe down, below I will endeavour to give you (aka remember) the recipe. However, it is more the idea that I hope to inspire with.  After all my friend and colleague Jane went home the very evening that I mentioned it and cooked her own version no problem because 'I'd put the idea in her head'!  When you have to have pie, you have to have pie!  

...and don't worry if you think the pie is too big as it is great the next day cold for lunch!

Chick'n and Mushroom Pie

This filled a 7" x 12" pie tin 

Oil for frying and some for greasing the tin (I used rapeseed oil)

2 large leeks sliced
Garlic cloves to taste chopped or crushed
About 8 large mushrooms (I used organic chestnut ones) sliced
1 packet of Vegan Quorn Pieces (280g)
A heaped teaspoon of mustard
A tablespoon of soya sauce
Half a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
A tablespoon of parsley flakes
Half a pint of thickly made gravy of your choice
2 packets of Ready Rolled Jus Rol Puff Pastry (320g each sheet)

Put sufficient oil in a medium sized saucepan to fry the veg (you could just 'fry' in a little water or broth if you preferred).  Start with the leeks and fry until nicely softened, then add the garlic and finally the mushrooms.  Fry until browning slightly and then add the packet of Vegan Quorn Pieces. Stir and then leave to cook for a further 5 minutes until the pieces have softened.

At this point freestyle it and add in whatever tastes you like and that go with this combo.  I added in a little mustard, a splash of soya sauce, a bit of balsamic vinegar (adds a slight tartness), a sprinkle of parsley flakes and then made up half a pint of thick gravy and stirred that in to the mix.  I cooked the mixture for about another 10 minutes to fully mix the flavours.

Grease your chosen pie dish or tin and then line it with the first sheet of pastry ensuring it goes nicely up the sides to contain the juicy filling.  Whop the filling on the top and then finish with the final sheet of pastry.  Cut any excess pastry (mini pasties or cut nice shapes to decorate the top?) away from this sheet and give it a good crimping around the outside to seal in. I added in a couple of vent holes just to insure against the top blowing off.  Bake in the oven at 200 degrees C for approximately 30 minutes (but our oven is about 30 years old so don't completely trust me and just cook it until nicely brown on top!).

The first version I made I froze in preparation for my family's visit.  I think I really should have then cooked it from frozen rather than defrosted it first as the bottom burnt a little. There was no such problem with the freshly made second version I made though as pictured.


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Cornwall Vegans Celebrate 1000 Amigos Animales

Having been vegan for almost 30 years and very much feeling like a minority back then, it is a glorious feeling to now live in a world where the word 'vegan' is not only recognised but has reached mainstream levels.  I had always hoped that veganism would gain popularity in years to come but I never quite imagined it would have taken off quite as dramatically as it has.  The Internet and social media has had a  major impact on many different levels, including veganism, and I now have a revised and renewed dream that we could see a vegan utopia sooner than we think!

I knew a small bunch of dedicated vegans in Plymouth and the surrounding area during the time I lived there but when I moved to rural Cornwall 12 years ago I wasn't expecting to bump in to many vegans at all.  It took me a while to realise that wasn't the case and to very much prove the point the Cornwall Vegans Facebook group recently reached 1000 members.  I've yet to meet them all but it is certainly a great feeling to know they are all around!

1000 Amigos Animales is an event organised by Cornwall Vegans to celebrate the 1000 members (actually now currently 1022).  It takes place on Saturday 27th August at Whiskers in the bustling centre of Newquay.  With free entry the party kicks off at 8pm - midnight and with Bobby Soul and DJ Schmarkle ramping up the latin/funk/afrobeat vibes it would be worth putting on your vegan dancing shoes and practising your smooth moves. 

Whiskers is a coffee shop, bar and live music venue with a reputation for being 'dog, cat, child, vegan and gluten free friendly'.  They have also picked up 'Winners of Best Bar' and 'Best Overall Service' in Newquay's Bar and Venue Awards. They are a chilled out, fun loving, energetic bunch with a great sense of humour, great dedication to eco-awareness and customer service which makes it even more shameful that this lovely small business was recently burgled.  So if you can't make it to the celebration please do make sure you go along at some point to support them during this difficult time.

Details for the 1000 Amigos Animales event at Whiskers are available on the Facebook Events Page and in the meantime, here's to another 1000 members to Cornwall Vegans in the coming months!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Go On Have Some Blackcurrants

The fig tree in our garden may be stubborn at producing edible fruit but one thing that never fails to deliver is our blackcurrant bush.  I'm pretty fond of this particular plant too as I've had it for almost 25 years.  Friends gave it to me when I moved into my first house in Devon in 1992 and when I moved down to Cornwall 12 years ago, although I couldn't dig up the large bush, I took cuttings and planted them in our garden.  It is now taller than Phil and each year produces branches that are positively groaning under the weight of blackcurrants. Even the local blackbirds can't make a dent in the supplies.  Bees, butterflies and hover flies also seem to enjoy hanging out with it too!

Blackcurrants are powerhouses of nutrition. For a start there is the obvious one; vitamin C. 100g of blackcurrants contain 300% of the recommended daily allowance so chuck a few in a smoothie and you are well on your way with that one. The same amount also contains 20% RDA of your iron too.  As vitamin C helps absorb iron it will also boost the intake of your iron from other sources too.  

Blackcurrants have a great amount of health boosting antioxidant value, indeed one of the highest of the fruits after elderberries and cranberries.  Vitamin C is a contributing antioxidant here but blackcurrants also contain others such as vitamin A and anthocyanins. In fact blackcurrants contain 6 to 8 times the concentration of antioxidants than the much shouted about blueberries. Antioxidants help protect cells and other structures in the body from free radicals, so they can guard against various cancers and heart disease.

Add to this a high amount of calcium, good amounts of B vitamins (including the potentially cancer fighting B17) and a good quantity of omega 3 and the little blackcurrant suddenly becomes an extremely powerful but overlooked fruit.  I knew blackcurrants were good for you but I have to say that even I was surprised by the amount of nutritional benefits I discovered just with a quick search on-line.  Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease, eye strain, menopause, rheumatoid arthritis were, among others, all mentioned as conditions that could potentially be protected against with the nutritional benefits of blackcurrants.  Take a look yourself and, apart from the fact that they taste pretty good, perhaps you too will consider growing your own blackcurrants?  Sadly for some reason it seems they are difficult to come by in the shops.

So you may ask what we do with all those blackcurrants?  I've made everything from blackcurrant muffins,  to my very own Ribena and a sauce for a raw cheesecake.  I do also lock in that nutrition by freezing a load so that in the depths of winter I can still enjoy a handful in a smoothie (a chocolate based one with blackcurrants is really nice!).

Alpro Go On Blackcurrant
We have recently however discovered a shop bought product from Alpro that perfectly marries the tartness of blackcurrants with a smooth creamy strained yoghurt alternative. Alpro Go On Blackcurrant was an instant hit with us with the added benefit of providing a good amount of plant protein along the way too. Other useful nutrients included are B12, calcium and vitamin D.  

In addition to the blackcurrant, the Go On range also includes passionfruit and mango flavours, of which we are yet to try but no doubt will also impress.  So if you fancy a shop bought healthy treat, we recommend looking out for the Go On range in the shops now.  

And don't forget, if you have space, consider planting a blackcurrant bush.  If our bush is anything to go by, it will reward you with years and years of tasty nutrition as well as become a welcome addition to the garden for the birds, bees, and insects.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The V Cream Tea

What could be more Cornish than a lovely cream tea?  If you're from Devon then no doubt at this point you will have reached for the phone to call up BBC Cornwall's Laurence Reed to shout obscenities about the audacity of the Cornish claiming the Devon cream tea as their own. Then the whole jam or cream first debate will ensue and before you know it your tea's gone cold. Serves you right for being weird if that's the case, especially if you really believe the jam should be on top.  That's clearly wrong and you know it.

Next will come the shout from the non-vegans out there thinking they've finally caught you out.  "You can't eat that!" they exclaim incredulously.  Wrong again.  Scone, jam and cream; they can all be vegan along with a lovely cup of tea made with the plant milk of your choice instead of moo juice.  Healthier and cruelty free to boot!

However, if you want a vegan cream tea in Cornwall you would normally have to make your own, unless of course you are heading westbound this coming Sunday, and jump off at Camborne Railway Station and join Cornwall Vegans on the platform.  A lovely lady called Julia runs a cafe from the platform and it is here that Cornwall Vegans are hosting the Vegan Cream Tea.  Baked by Cornwall Vegan members the scones, jam, cake, and cream on offer are free (donations appreciated) with Julia serving the tea from the counter.

So if you are local or down on holiday why not join Cornwall Vegans for a 'propur' treat Cornish style this Sunday as well as meeting up with some like minded folks?  For full details take a look at the The V Cream Tea Facebook event page.  Just remember to put the jam on first to avoid being chased back across the Tamar under a hail of pasties!