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This year, more than ever, we need to find ways to boost our families' immunity.
It's likely that our immune systems have been compromised since the emergence of COVID. Having protected ourselves previously through isolation and social distancing, our bodies may more vulnerable to general winter bugs.
This November it's Take the Veg Pledge, raising money for cancer research as well as World Vegan day on 1st November. Now's a great time to explore more plant based meals, whether you’re going all out or just want to experiment with some new ideas.
We’ve got some great vegan recipes your kids will love!
Here’s a great vegan version of this firm family favourite!
Prep time: less than 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1-2 hours
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small aubergine, cut into roughly 1.5cm/⅝in dice
1 medium courgette, cut into roughly 1.5cm/⅝in dice
1 red pepper, seeds removed, cut into roughly 1.5cm/⅝in dice
250g/9oz small chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g/3½oz dried red split lentils
2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp Italian seasoning or dried oregano
1 tsp sugar, any kind
1 vegan vegetable stock cube
150g/5½oz fresh young spinach leaves
9–10 dried lasagne sheets (ensure they are egg-free)
salt and ground black pepper
For the white sauce
3 tbsp sunflower oil
100g/3½oz plain flour
800ml/1¼ pint unsweetened almond milk
3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 bay leaf (optional)
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick saucepan and fry the onion for 3–4 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned, stirring. Add the aubergine, courgette, pepper and mushrooms and fry for 12 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds more, then stir in the red lentils, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, sugar and crumbled stock cube.
Refill one of the tomato tins with water (400ml/14fl oz) and pour into the pan. Stir well, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the spinach leaves, a handful at a time and cook for 1–2 minutes more.
While the vegetables are simmering, make the white sauce. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. When it is hot add the flour and cook, stirring all the time, for 1 minute. Stir in the milk, yeast, bay leaf and nutmeg and season well with salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly with a metal whisk over a moderate heat for 4–5 minutes, or until smooth and thickened. (Use a silicone covered whisk if using a non-stick saucepan.) Adjust the seasoning to taste – you’ll need more black pepper than you might imagine.
Spread a third of the vegetable mixture over the base of a 2½ –3 litre/4½– 5 pints ovenproof lasagne dish and cover with a single layer of lasagne sheets. Top with another third of the vegetable mixture (don’t worry if it doesn’t cover evenly) and a second layer of lasagne.
Pour over just under half of the white sauce, after removing the bay leaf, and very gently top with the remaining vegetable mixture. Finish with a final layer of lasagne and the rest of the white sauce.
Bake for 35–40 minutes, or the pasta has softened and the topping is nicely browned and bubbling. Stand for 5 minutes before cutting to allow the filling to settle.
You can find the original recipe from BBC Food here.
Who says you can enjoy a vegan pizza? Kids will love this version - and will also love getting involved in making it!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes (simmering) plus 10-12 minutes baking
190g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp fine sea salt
3.5g fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing and drizzling
110ml warm water
For the onion relish
1.5kg onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
200g non-dairy mozzarella, grated (from good health food shops or goodnessdirect.co.uk – if you’re not cooking for vegans, you could use regular mozzarella)
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, yeast and caster sugar. Make a well in the centre and pour in 1 tbsp of the olive oil and the warm water. Bring it all together with your hands, then tip out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Knead the dough for around 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces, then roll into balls andput on a baking tray. Cover with a clean damp tea towel and set aside while you make the onion relish.
For the onion relish, heat the remaining 3 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onions and garlic, then stir well to coat. Cook over a medium heat for around 20 minutes or until soft, sticky and golden, stirring occasionally.
Stir the soft light brown sugar and vinegar through the onions, then season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes more. Taste and season again.
Heat the oven to 220ºC/200ºC fan/ gas 7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough ball into a 15cm disc, then arrange on 1 large or 2 small baking sheets. Divide the onion mixture equally among the discs,spreading to the edge of each. Top with grated mozzarella and drizzle with olive oil, then bake for 10-12 minutes until the base is crisp and golden, and the topping bubbling.
Get the original recipe from Delicious Magazine here.
This is a winter warmer to give you a real sense of comfort - packed full of goodness!
Cooking time:1 hr 25 minutes
600 g Maris Piper potatoes
600 g sweet potatoes
40 g dairy-free margarine
3 cloves of garlic
2 sticks of celery
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
½ a bunch of fresh thyme
350 g chestnut mushrooms
12 sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
vegan red wine
100 ml organic vegetable stock
1 x 400 g tin of lentils
1 x 400 g tin of chickpeas
5 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
30 g fresh breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6
Peel and chop all the potatoes into rough 2cm chunks. Place the Maris Pipers into a large pan of cold salted water over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender, adding the sweet potatoes after 5 minutes.
Drain and leave to steam dry, then return to the pan with the margarine and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Mash until smooth, then set aside.
Peel and finely slice the onion, carrots and 2 garlic cloves, then trim and finely slice the celery.
Bash the coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar until fine, then add it all to a medium pan over a medium heat with a good splash of oil. Pick in the thyme leaves, then cook for around 10 minutes, or until softened.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, then add to the pan along with the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the sun-dried tomato oil from the jar.
Cook for a further 10 minutes, then add a splash of wine, turn up the heat, and allow it to bubble away. Stir in the stock, lentils and chickpeas (juice and all), then leave it to tick away for 5 to 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened and reduced.
Pick and roughly chop the parsley leaves, then stir into the pan. Season to taste, then transfer to a baking dish (roughly 25cm x 30cm).
Spread the mash over the top, scuffing it up with the back of a spoon.
Finely slice the remaining garlic clove, then place into a bowl with the rosemary leaves, lemon zest, breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon of oil. Mix well, sprinkle over the mash, then place in the hot oven for around 10 minutes, or until piping hot through.
Place under the grill for a further 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden, then serve with seasonal greens.
You can get the original Jamie Oliver recipe here.
Forget the usual meat feast, kids will enthusiastically dive in to these veg-packed burgers!
Cooking time:30 minutes (plus chilling time)
1 x 400 g tin of chickpeas
1 x 340 g tin of sweetcorn
½ a bunch of fresh coriander , (15g)
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
3 heaped tablespoons plain flour , plus extra for dusting
1 small round lettuce
2 large ripe tomatoes
4 wholemeal burger buns
Drain the chickpeas and sweetcorn, then tip into a food processor. Pick the coriander leaves, adding half the leaves and all the stalks to the processor.
Add the spices, flour and a pinch of sea salt, finely grate in the lemon zest, then pulse until combined, but not smooth – you want to retain a bit of texture.
On a flour-dusted surface, divide and shape the mixture into 4 equal-sized patties, roughly 2cm thick. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
Heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the patties and cook for 10 minutes, or until golden and cooked through, turning halfway.
Meanwhile, click off, wash and spin-dry four nice lettuce leaves, then finely slice the tomatoes horizontally.
Squeeze a large dollop of ketchup onto the base of each bun (toast them if you like), then top with the burgers. Layer over a couple of slices of tomato, a lettuce leaf, a few coriander leaves and finally the burger tops. Delicious served with a fresh green salad.
Get the original Jamie Oliver recipe here.
This vegan version is good enough to challenge our favourite winter warmer! Just serve with rice and/or vegan flatbread.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
70g raw cashews
Optional: 1.5 tbsp protein powder (Soya and Pea Protein both work well)
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
30g root ginger chopped finely
2 celery sticks, diced
1 large carrots (approx. 250g), peeled and sliced into thick discs
220g cauliflower, cut into florets
350ml vegetable stock (I use bouillon powder)
16 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
60g baby spinach
Salt and pepper
180ml cold water
1/2 tbsp coconut oil or rapeseed oil
4 plump garlic cloves, minced
1 or 2 red chillies (depending on how hot you like it), finely chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes (approx 320g), peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
320g squash, sliced into chunks
2.5tbsp-3.5 tbsp curry powder (depending on how spicy you like it!) I used hot madras curry powder
1 tbsp tamari or soya sauce
200g tofu (or substitute for more veg if preferred), diced into about 1.5cm cubes
20g fresh coriander, finely chopped (reserve some for garnishing)
To garnish: chopped fresh coriander. Optional: a sprinkle of ground flaxseed
In a small bowl, cover the raw cashews with cold water and allow to soak for 3-4hrs at least or overnight. The cashews will puff up. Drain the cashews, then place them in a blender or food processor with 180ml of fresh water. Blitz to form a cashew milk. If using protein powder. Add to the cashew milk and whizz for a few seconds. (You can see the cashew cream is creamier).
In a big pot, melt coconut oil or add rapeseed oil. Add sliced red onions, crushed garlic, chopped ginger, chopped red chillies and diced celery. Brown for about 4 -5 mins on a medium heat. Add the chopped sweet potato, carrots, squash. Cook for about 5 mins. Add the curry powder and coat the vegetables for about 1 minute; taking care not to burn the spices (otherwise the curry will taste bitter). Add the vegetable stock, tamari or soya sauce. Bring the pot to the boil, then reduce the heat (approx. 3-4 mins).
Now add the halved cherry tomatoes and tofu chunks (if using) and cook for 7-8 mins. Then add the cauliflower florets and pepper slices. Cook for about 3 mins, until vegetables are soft. Stir in the cashew cream. Heat through for about 3 mins. Turn off the heat and stir in the baby spinach and most of the chopped fresh coriander (reserve some for garnish). Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Plate up & serve with a garnish of freshly chopped coriander. Optional: a sprinkle of ground flaxseed.
Get the original recipe from Veganuary.com here.
If you’re tempted by these savoury recipes, why not take it a step further with these great vegan dessert ideas from BBC Good Food.