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Vegan recipes for National Picnic Week

Photo credits – Andy Smart (@smartsnappers)

As National Picnic Week starts on Monday 21st June, what better way to celebrate than by trying out these four delicious vegan recipes, perfect for any picnic in the sunshine! Taken from our upcoming release ‘Feeding Your Vegan Child’ by Sandra Hood, available for pre-order now, launches 29th June.

 

Vegan sausage rolls (makes 8 sausages, 4 servings)

There are many shop-bought vegan sausage rolls now available but home-made sausages are worth the trouble and are very quick and easy to make.

For the sausages:

  • water or oil for cooking
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove (optional)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 50g oats
  • 400g tin of beans of choice
  • 40g of ground almonds (or nut of choice)
  • seasoning to taste
  • oil for frying

For the pastry:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 100g margarine
  • 5 tbsps very cold water

Method:

  • Heat a little water (or oil) in a pan, add the onions and garlic and cook until soft
  • Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • Stir in the oats and add the paprika and cook for a few minutes more
  • In a separate bowl mash the beans (or blitz in a blender), add all the other ingredients and form into sausages
  • Fry in a little oil, *or baste with oil and bake in a hot over for 20 minutes, turning half way through
  • Rub the margarine into the flour to form fine breadcrumbs
  • Sprinkle on the water and gently knead until it starts to form a soft but firm mixture
  • Roll out into an oblong and on one side of the pastry lay the sausages
  • Fold over the pastry and seal the edges with water. Cut into sausage rolls. Brush with plant milk and cook for 20-30 minutes at 200o C/400o F/gas mark 6

 

Nori rolls (GF) (4 servings)

Ideal for parties and picnics. Instead of the filling in the recipe, you can use other popular fillings such as tofu and avocado, beans and sweet potatoes, sweetcorn and nuts.

  • 4 large sheets dried nori
  • 50g rice
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 3 tbsps peas
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 50g grated soya cheese

 

Method:

  • Cook the rice in boiling water but 5 minutes before it is going to be ready, add the diced carrot and cook for 5 minutes
  • Add the peas and onion and bring to the boil, then drain off any remaining water
  • Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese. Allow to cool
  • Spread it onto the sheets of nori, moisten the edges with water and roll up. Cut each roll into four pieces

 

Chocolate brownies (makes 16)

No picnic is complete without some delicious chocolate brownies!

  • 225 g dates
  • 60 g wholemeal flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 100g margarine
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • 75 g nuts (optional) of choice e.g. pecans or walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180o C/350o F/Gas 4
  • Place the dates in a medium saucepan with just enough water to cover them
  • Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft, then drain off the water, run them under a cold tap to cool and purée the dates
  • Cream together the dates and margarine until light and fluffy
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into the date mixture
  • Add the banana, nuts (optional) and vanilla essence
  • Pour into a lightly oiled tin (18 x 25 cm), spread evenly and bake in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the brownies start to come away from the sides of the dish
  • Allow to cool, then cut and serve

 

Scones (makes 20)

Finally, some classic scones to complete your picnic spread! Try them with coconut cream and jam for a delicious fruity number.

  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 100g margarine
  • 25g sugar (or replace with dried fruit)
  • 235ml water
  • pinch salt

 

Method:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 450o F/230o C/gas mark 8
  • Grease a large baking sheet with vegetable oil
  • Sift the flour and rub in the margarine until fine breadcrumbs are formed
  • Stir in the sugar or dried fruit
  • Add enough water to make a soft dough
  • Knead gently and roll out until about 1 cm/½ inch thickness
  • Cut into 20 rounds, brush with plant milk and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes

 

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How I came to write ‘Feeding Your Vegan Child’

Blog post written by Sandra Hood, author of ‘Feeding Your Vegan Child’. Available for pre-order now, launches 29th June.

 

When I first became vegan I was bombarded by friends and family who were really worried that I would become ill!  But this was back in the 1970’s.  There were no vegetarian, let alone vegan, ready meals available then. Meat and two veg was the norm with the Dairy Council diary being found in most households and adverts for the daily pinta and ‘go to work on an egg’ rife!!   I remember making cheese with the only vegan margarine available – melting it and stirring in soya flour and yeast extract and waiting for it to go hard – it was surprisingly tasty!

I joined the Vegan Society and as a member I received a small A5 magazine every month full of tips and recipes.  I loved the holistic approach, providing information on diet, animals and the environment.  It included a contact list so one could link up with other like-minded people – there were very few vegans back in the 1970’s!  Fortunately, there was a local vegan group near where I lived and my younger sister, who had been vegetarian since a child, and I went along.  I remember food was the main focus, with cakes and dishes being shared with great enthusiasm!  Those groups were so important back then to be able to spend time with others.

What’s cooking?

It was at the local meetings I met the wonderful Eva Batt.  I was so lucky to have a ‘celebrity’ living near me!  Eva wrote the first vegan cook book – ‘What’s Cooking’.  Eva inspired me to cook wonderful vegan dishes – back then everything had to be cooked from scratch, no ready meals then!  Her dishes were nutritious, colourful and tasty.   I still use Eva’s recipes to this day.

The first plant milk in the UK

As a member of the Vegan Society I was invited to attend the Vegan Society AGMs.  Back then, as the membership was so small, the AGM’s were held in the garden of Kathleen Jannaway, secretary of the Vegan Society. It was there where I met the late Arthur Ling.  There were no milk alternatives in the UK in the 1960’s and Arthur and a small group of other vegans tried unsuccessfully to get non-dairy milks imported into the UK.  Failing to achieve this they decided to produce their own and in 1964 Plamil was produced.  Check out the Plamil website to find out more about its fascinating history.  The company went on to produce other vegan products and is still going strong.  Arthur’s son Adrian, vegan from birth, runs the company and is known as the vegan Willy Wonka.

Children’s case histories

I worked with Arthur for a number of years. Whilst working at Plamil I was able to indulge in its other vegan products including peas pudding, rice pudding and delicious chocolates.  The soya milk came in tins and later moved to tetrapaks.  It came concentrated and you diluted it yourself with water.  The thought was that it was practical, not having to carry the extra weight of water, and also saved on packaging.  Wouldn’t it be great if this was the case today?  More environmentally friendly and really practical!! Arthur was way ahead of his time.

Arthur was so passionate about appropriate nutrition for children and adults.  He meticulously kept records of children whose parents were raising them on vegan diets and I was involved in researching these case histories.  I was fascinated by the simple whole foods that the parents were giving their children and how they thrived.  Plamil Foods produced 4 copies of these case histories over the years, with the first one produced in 1973 and the last one in 2000.

I wanted to learn more and I decided to study nutrition.  I also wanted to find out for sure whether a vegan diet was ‘safe’ and be able to answer the ongoing criticisms from friends and family, the majority without any nutrition knowledge, who said that the vegan diet wasn’t ‘natural’ and was inferior to an omnivorous diet.

Becoming a dietitian

University was tough and I was known as ‘the vegan’.  However, I thrived and decided to do the extra year’s study to qualify as a dietitian.  After qualification I was fortunate to secure a full-time post as a community dietitian.  I kept in close contact with the Vegan Society who welcomed my knowledge and asked me to become their gratis dietitian.  As such as I provided a nutrition page, answered questions and was generally available for any nutrition queries.

My first book

The Vegan Society was regularly being contacted by parents and health professionals alike asking nutrition questions about raising vegan children.  I suggested to the Vegan Society that we produced a book to support parents and health professions and in 2004 I wrote ‘Feeding your vegan infant – with confidence’.  The idea was to produce a complete guide from preconception through to infancy to reassure parents and health professionals alike that it was possible to raise children happily and healthily on a vegan diet.

Today

Over the last couple of years there has been such a growth in plant-based eating.  Vegan diets are now something to aspire to.  Evidence is clear that raising children on plant-based diets not only meets nutritional requirements but indeed can benefit health.  In addition, it is the way forward for the planet.  As my book was still the only UK version on raising vegan children, I thought this was the perfect time for an update.  I wanted it to remain a practical but readable book to assist both vegan parents and health professionals. I am really hoping my book will do this.