My Top 4 Versatile Vegan Recipes

Becoming a vegan wasn't a spontaneous decision for me and 2/3 of our household still consume dairy, and even a little bit of meat, occasionally. I very slowly became a vegetarian when I left home and could never be bothered cooking meat when I was making meals for one. I've never been a huge fan of meat and definitely didn't miss it. More recently I realised the only dairy I was actually consuming was cheese on pizza, so when I decided to cut that out I was eating vegan 95% of the time anyway. Plus although we've occasionally offered Roscoe meat throughout the weaning process he never took a huge liking to it, although I am aware this will change as he grows. Nevertheless, at the beginning of this year we decided as a family to eat vegan the majority of the time, mostly for sustainability reasons, eating vegan is the biggest single change you can make to reduce your carbon footprint, but also because I love how eating vegan makes me feel. I also believe that as a society we have plundered our environment too much for far too long, instead of actively embracing our place in the world, appreciating our surroundings and considering how are actions interplay with nature on this planet we call home. As parents I feel it is our responsibility to raise conscious individuals who are fully aware of their presence in this world and the effects their existence has on it.

Here are 4 vegan recipes I make at least once a week, they are staples in our diet and can be very easily adapted to suit different tastes. Plus they are all super easy to make and take very little time. Between them they cover all the kinds of food I initally struggled with replacing when becoming vegan. I'm talking the most delicious homemade oat milk, scrummy fresh pesto which can be incorporated into a variety of meals and tasty snacks perfect for any day trip. Almost all the ingredients I used for these recipes were sourced low waste and plastic free from a combination of market shopping and from our local zero waste refill stores. I'm putting these recipes out there in the hope they may help anyone else who is transitioning into veganism and looking for some simple, yummy recipes to get them started.

1. Oat milk

Because milk doesn't have to come from cows. I think it's important to teach our kids that we don't have to drink milk intended for baby cows and to show them we can make our own delicious milk using just a few ingredients in the pantry cupboard. We no longer buy dairy milk and usually have a combination of soy, coconut or oat in the fridge, though oat milk is easily my fave. The best bit is you can make it as creamy, watery, sweet or oaty as you like by varying the ingredients accordingly. Works particularly well in porridge, over granola and in coffee.

Ingredients

1/2 cup of oats, 1-2 dates, a drop of vanilla essence and a drop of maple syrup to every 500 ml of water.

Method

Blend all the ingredients together for 1 minute before squeezing through a nut milk bag (I use an old muslin because #reusewhatyouhave) and blending for a further minute. You could also use a cafetiere to strain the blended mixture if you have one, this would also make less mess than a nut bag. The pulp left inside the bag/muslin/cafetiere can be stored ready to pour over cereal or porridge, or just do as I do and scoop it all up with a spoon and eat it straight away.

2. Banana Bread

This is quite possibly one of the easiest bread/cakes to make and should take no lnger than 45 minutes from start to finish. When we started eating vegan as a family I was on the look out for snacks which avoided too much sugar, were easy to make (ain't no parent got time for complex baking) and ones we would all love. I make this banana bread at least twice a week, often more. It serves as the perfect energy boost when travelling or hiking and is also light enough for a small supper on the sofa at 10pm. I've also used variations of the recipe to make all our birthday cakes this year. The recipe is super adaptable and varying the syrup quantity or the type of nut/seed can give the bread very different qualities. For example, although I love making it with chia seeds, adding sunflower seeds instead gives a slightly more crunchy, unique taste.

Ingredients

  • 3 old, browning bananas (mashed)
  • 110 mL olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 100 mL maple syrup
  • 2 cups wholemeal flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds with 6 tbsp water OR a handful of sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Oats for sprinkling

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a loaf tin with baking paper or vegan butter. Beat the oil and syrup together before adding to the bowl of mashed bananas. If using chia seeds, add water to the seeds in a mug and stir rapidly until the seeds soak up all the water before adding to the oil/syrup/banana mix. In a separate mixing bowl add and mix all the dry ingredients, including the sunflower seeds if using. Gradually fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture before adding the salt and cinnamon. Transfer the mixture into the loaf tin and sprinkle over a handful of oats. Bake in the oven for around 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

3. Oat bars

These oat bars are even simpler to make than the banana bread (if that is even possible), as you just mix everthing together in one swoop and bang in a baking tray. Once again they are super versatile as you can add in different nuts, seeds and fruits as you like (I've tried raisins, dates, apricots, cherries and blackberries when they were in season). The only ingredient that wasn't zero waste was the chocolate, but depending on the time of the month that is kinda a key ingredient. Once again these bars are perfect for packing up for day trips or long train rides. Just remember they are made fresh with no additives so will only last a few days, I may have had to pick off mouldy bits in the past when I found a few forgotten bars at the bottom of a tin.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3 large bananas (mashed)
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds OR nuts OR basically any other seed/nut you fancy
  • 1/4 cup raisins OR chopped dates/apricots/cherries/blackberries - experiment
  • 1/4 cup chopped or grated vegan chocolate
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt

Method

Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in bowl by hand, press into a 9-inch square baking tin and bake in oven until browned on top, roughly 20-25 minutes. Cool on wire rack and cut into approximately 8 bars once completely cool.

4. Vegan Nut-Free Pesto

The smell of this pesto is just so fresh and divine and this version is also completely nut free. I make it to put in some fusilli pasta or spaghetti, or sometimes on bread. It tastes amazing on wholemeal toasted bread. Occasionally I sneak in some extra leafy greens, such as kale or spinach, if I feel like I need a little boost. Be careful with the garlic powder though, I'be been known to overdo it leading to Roscoe just turning his nose up at it.

Ingredients

  • A handful of basil leaves from your plant
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • handful of sunflower seeds
  • spinkle of salt and pepper

Method

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend away until the paste has the desired consistency. I sometimes add a few drops of water to ensure it goes that bit further. Once fully blended add directly into fully cooked pasta dish or spread on toast. It's also a great pizza topping!

Thanks for reading.

Emma xx


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