Five easy ways to give back this Christmas

After a few nights of armchair shopping for gifts online (and one stressful evening after work running around the shops then swearing never again... again), I'm feeling uncharacteristically organised this Christmas. But with December arriving in a lovely flurry of festive catch-ups with friends and family, I can't help but think about the people and animals who have more to worry about this month than their overdraft taking a hit. For everyone else who's feeling fortunate and would like to give back, I've rounded up five easy ways to be charitable this Christmas (and all year round):

For many individuals and families living with domestic abuse, concern for their pet is an obstacle which stops them from leaving - either because their new home doesn't allow pets, or they're worried about what will happen if they leave them behind. The Dogs Trust's Freedom Project is a dog fostering service for people who are fleeing domestic abuse in Greater London, Hertfordshire, Essex and Yorkshire. Dogs Trust places dogs into the safe homes of volunteer foster carers for up to 6 months, until their owners are rehoused and can take them back. Dogs Trust covers all of the dog's expenses during that time, including food and veterinary costs.

If you're interested in fostering a dog but don't live in those areas, The Cinnamon Trust is a nationwide charity which provides short term care for animals belonging to elderly people going into hospital or residential accommodation, and long term care for pets whose owners have died or are terminally ill, while Pet Fostering Service Scotland provides a short term emergency care service for pet owners who are temporarily unable to care for their pet because of an accident or illness.

The Letterbox Club is an initiative ran by the Book Trust to deliver a colourful parcel of books, maths games and stationery to children who are looked-after once every month for six months, from May to October. Across the UK, local authorities and schools can enrol children who they think would benefit. For many children, it's the first time they've had a letter or parcel through the post and for some it's the first time they've had books of their own.

This year the Book Trust want to surprise the 9,700 children who are enrolled with the Letterbox Club with a special book gift which they won't be expecting. By donating £10 you can send a surprise book to a child to make them feel special this Christmas. The Book Trust have selected six hardback books for children aged 3-13 years old, and each child will also receive a specially-created festive poster and postcard by illustrator Adam Stower.

Christmas and New Year can be a particularly difficult time of year for many people, with the Samaritans taking nearly 200,000 calls for help over the festive period. With around the clock support available every single day of the year, the Samaritans rely almost entirely on voluntary donations to run their helpline. If you're patient and open-minded, you can also volunteer as a listener for people who reach out by phone, email or letter for help.

The statistics on older people and loneliness are devastating, with a recent UK survey revealing that a million older people have not spoken to anyone in the last month. Contact the Elderly is a charity which aims to combat isolation among elderly people by organising monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people aged 75 and over, offering a change of scenery and regular afternoons of conversation and laughter with friends.

You can volunteer to join one of the 670 groups across Scotland, England and Wales as a host, driver or coordinator. If you know someone 75 or older who you think would benefit from joining, you can refer them through the Contact the Elderly website.

If you can't volunteer or refer someone but would still like to help, Cath Kidston have teamed up with Contact the Elderly this year to launch a beautiful set of Christmas cards, with £2 from each pack sold going straight back to the charity. 

For many homeless people, a dog can provide an essential source of comfort and companionship, but food and vet bills can be a stressful and unmanageable expense for an already vulnerable person. To support homeless people and their pets, the Trusty Paws Clinic provides free essential veterinary care with once a month drop-in clinics.

Carried out by vet students, under the supervision of a qualified vet, the clinics provide: vaccinations; mirochipping; flea and worming treatment; dog food, blankets, toys and other supplies; and referral for advanced veterinary care. To help support the Trusty Paws Clinic, you make a donation through their website, or donate dried dog food to one of their clinics in Glasgow, London or Liverpool.

I hope that's given you some inspiration on how you can help this Christmas! For more ideas (including a couple of really easy-peasy ones), check out last year's post.

Vegan restaurants in Dublin

I flew across to Dublin last week for a whirlwind trip around Ireland, so, of course, I was keen to find out where to go for vegan food in the city. As someone from Northern Ireland, who has ordered the 'vegetarian option' of chips when I'm back visiting family, I'll admit I didn't have high hopes for finding vegan restaurants in Ireland. I was pleasantly surprised then to find that Dublin is bursting with vegetarian and vegan food - in fact, I didn't even get to try  everywhere on my list! Ah well, I guess that gives me the perfect excuse to go back then... For anyone else considering a trip to this wonderful city (and if you're not already, you should be), I've rounded up a little vegan guide to Dublin.


Oh my, will you just look at those vegan pancakes?! Pop in to Yogism in George's Street Arcade for a plate of these buckwheat flour and banana pancakes, served with homemade coconut yoghurt, caramelised banana, almond nibs, walnuts, and syrup. Yogism isn't exclusively vegan, but still worth a visit for pancakes, smoothies and coffee (or ask them to skip the honey on their porridge, which is cooked in coconut milk). There's even a peanut butter tap, which, if you ask me, is reason enough to visit Ireland. 

Umi Falafel

Umi Falafel is a vegetarian restaurant serving up fresh falafel wraps and salads, to sit in or take away. I ordered 'The Palestinian Falafel', a pitta bread full of hummus, tomato, cucumber pickles, fried aubergine, flat parsley topped with chilli and tahini sauce, and sweet potato fries. With two different locations in Dublin, including one on Dame Street around the corner from Dublin Castle, Umi Falafel is also really convenient when you're rushing around from one tourist sight to the next (or on your way to a pub crawl and need something to line your stomach...).


Okay, so curry isn't the most attractive food to photograph, but I promise you that this was all so delicious! Govindas is a vegetarian, canteen-style restaurant, with two locations in Dublin, so grab a tray and tuck in. We asked the server what was vegan and he heaped our plates with rice and curry sauce, cauliflower and potato curry, curried chickpeas, homemade brown bread, and insisted that we also try the lentil shepherd's pie. I would like to point out that plate of shepherd's pie was for two to share - I'm honestly not that greedy... 

Antoinette's Bakery

We headed to Antoinette's Bakery on our first day in Dublin, because when I hear about vegan doughnuts I don't hang about! This gluten-free bakery has a counter packed with freshly baked cakes and biscuits, with vegan options clearly marked. I was delighted not only find vegan sugar doughnuts, but also cinnamon or chocolate snickerdoodles and chocolate cupcakes. These were all so creamy, light and tasty but the cinnamon snickerdoodle had to be my favourite. We were also served coffee and tea (with a choice of different nut milks) in wonderfully mismatched mugs - I do wonder if the waitress handed Sam the Scotland mug after hearing his accent!

Sova Vegan Butcher

Not far from Antoinette's Bakery is the wonderful Sova Vegan Butcher. This BYOB restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has one of the most creative vegan menus I've ever seen anywhere. King skallops with beurre blanc sauce, dill potato cakes, marinated cauliflower, black pudding crisps and kelp caviar is just one of the incredible options on the dinner menu, for example. I've shared two photos from Sova Vegan Butcher because, even though I ordered the chia burger (served with red onion marmalade, fermented cucumber, coleslaw and jalapeno mayo), I have to mention the seitan doner kebab. This beauty is served with beef tomato, guacomole, white cabbage, mixed salad and tzatziki, has an incredible smokey taste, and is making me hungry just remembering it. 


I'm going to finish with Cornucopia and their tasty take on a vegan cooked breakfast: sausage, grilled mushroom, hash brown, scrambled tofu with peppers and mushrooms, homemade baked beans, and freshly baked toast. This spread - washed down with a teapot of breakfast tea with almond milk - was exactly what I needed before heading to the Irish seaside for a day of exploring.  Carnicopia is another canteen-style restaurant, so grab a tray and choose from a 'fry up', fruit or granola for breakfast, then a daily selection of soups, salads, wraps, and five different mains from noon until closing. Oh, and cakes and desserts, of course!

Let me know if I've missed out any of your favourite places for vegetarian and vegan food in Dublin!

Lean and green vegan protein

The question every vegetarian and vegan dreads: 'Where do you get your protein?!' While the powerful meat industry might want to us to believe that a plant-based diet means vegetarians and vegans are doomed to be weaker and slower, it simply isn't true. If you don't believe me, take a mosey at just some of the Olympic athletes who shun meat, including the only male US weightlifter to qualify for the 2016 Olympics (look at Kendrick's muscles then tell me vegans don't get enough protein)!

Okay, so we might not all be aiming for the Olympics, but protein is necessary for everyone: an essential nutrient, it's responsible for building tissue, cells and muscle, as well as making hormones and antibodies. While most of us will reach our daily requirement by following a healthy, balanced diet, if you do endurance sports or weight training you may find it helpful to increase your protein intake. Whether you're looking for a new recipe for after your next workout, or just want inspiration for a protein-packed snack which will stop your office biscuit cravings, I've shared three healthy recipe ideas using Bio-Synergy Lean and Green protein powder:

Butterscotch protein pancakes

Makes approximately 10 pancakes


2 scoops butterscotch flavour vegan protein

2 scoops self-raising flour

1 scoop porridge oats

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

2½ tablespoon water 

300ml unsweetened almond milk


Start by mixing the ground flaxseed and water together, then set aside to thicken. 

Mix the protein powder, flour, oats and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl, then pour in the almond milk until the mixture is thick and smooth.

Stir in the flax 'egg'.

Cook on a medium temperature, flipping carefully.

Top with chopped fruit.  

These pancakes are thick, filling and sweet. I had mine topped with mashed banana after a morning workout and felt full right up until lunch time. However, if you fancy pancakes for dessert, this recipe is from the Bio-Synergy website, where they've topped their stack with dairy-free fudge and ice cream!

Butterscotch, cacao and peanut butter protein shake

Makes 2 large glasses


1 scoop butterscotch flavour vegan protein

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 cup cold water

1 cup ice cubes

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 tablespoon cacao powder


Whizz all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. 

Drink straight away while still ice cold. 

I'm not lying when I say if I'm feeling unmotivated this protein shake could convince me to work out: creamy and sweet, it tastes like a butterscotch and peanut butter chocolate bar blended together in a glass. Also, who doesn't love an excuse to eat more peanut butter?!  

Butterscotch and coconut protein bites

Makes 20 balls


1 scoop butterscotch flavour vegan protein

1 cup oatmeal

2/3 cup desiccated coconut 

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 ground flax seed

1/3 cup agave nectar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cacao 


Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until well combined

Place the bowl in the fridge for an hour to let the mixture firm up.

Roll into 1 inch balls. 

I can't believe this is my first time making protein bites at home, despite a rather pricey addiction to the shop-bought versions... The flavours in this recipe blend together really well, which means the protein bites taste lovely and sweet, without any one flavour overpowering the rest. These can also keep in your fridge for up to a week, so are a perfect snack to take to work in case the mid-morning hunger pangs kick in!

As part of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet, protein powder can be an easy - and tasty! - way to hit your daily protein requirement, or supplement your workouts. However, I should stress that protein powder alone won't get you into shape, especially if you skip the workout and just glug down another glass of butterscotch, cacao and peanut butter milkshake...

Bio-Synergy kindly sent me their Lean and Green vegan protein powder to try, but all thoughts, opinions, and peanut butter addictions are my own.

Cacao 'chocolate' porridge

I usually eat porridge for breakfast every day at work (at my desk, while checking emails, oh the glamour!), so by the time the weekend rolls round, I fancy something different. But this Friday I had the biggest craving for chocolate porridge - which is particularly strange because I haven't eaten that since I was little and tucked into microwaveable bowls of Ready Brek. For whatever reason, the belly wants what the belly wants, so I caved and decided to make a slightly more grown up version of my childhood favourite. 

Serves 2-4 (depending on how hungry you are!)


120g porridge oats

800ml almond milk (or substitute for your own favourite dairy-free milk)

2 mashed bananas

1½ tablespoons cacao powder

2 tablespoons agave nectar

Raspberries and chopped banana to serve


Mix the oats, milk, mashed banana, cacao powder and agave nectar together in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes, stirring regularly to stop the porridge from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.

I poured in about 500ml of almond milk to start with, then topped up as the porridge simmered to reach the consistency I prefer - you may find that you need more or less milk depending on if you like your porridge thick or runny!

Spoon into bowls then top with raspberries, chopped banana and a sprinkle of cacao powder.

Sweet and filling, this chocolate porridge is a perfect weekend breakfast which feels a little indulgent. With oats, nut milk, fruit and cacao powder, it's also actually better for you than the name suggests - did you know cacao powder has more antioxidants than blueberries, is the highest plant-based source of iron, and has more calcium than cow's milk?! So, go on, treat yourself and heap another spoonful into your porridge...

By the way, cacao powder might sound like something you need to hunt through health shops to find, but I bought mine in Tesco. It's pricey but you need very little for a lot of flavour, so one tub will last for ages. 

Butternut squash, sweet potato and carrot soup

It's now officially spring, but I think the newspapers might be lying to us. Scotland woke up under a thick blanket of snow this morning and I made my way to work wrapped in my winter jacket, scarf and gloves. With the weather in sub-zero temperatures (I'm writing this while wrapped in a fleecy blanket) I'm back to craving comfort food, preferably something packed with vitamin C to stave off any spring colds threatening to make an appearance...

Serves 3-4


1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1.5 - 2 litre vegetable stock (depending on how thick you want it)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

4 teaspoons coconut cream

Salt and pepper

Handful toasted pumpkin seeds


Heat olive oil in large pan.

Add butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot, onion and garlic. Fry for five minutes.

Add vegetable stock, stir, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Take off the heat and - carefully! - blend with a hand blender until smooth. 

Season with smoked paprika, chilli flakes and salt and pepper. 

Pour into bowls and stir a teaspoon of coconut cream through each.

Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds, and more chilli flakes if you like your food spicy.

Serve with warm, crusty bread. 

With butternut squash, sweet potato and carrot all serving up healthy portions of vitamins, potassium and fibre, this soup is worth eating whatever the season. In fact, did you know that one cup of butternut squash provides 437% of your daily allowance of vitamin A, and 52% of your vitamin C?! With the added heat of smoked paprika and chilli flakes, you might even be tricked into thinking the sun is shining outside as well...

Spring menu at Zizzi

I'm obsessed with Zizzi. Ever since I tried the vegan options when they launched in March last year, I've lost count of how many times I've been back for another gooey, 'cheesy' pizza. With a full dairy-free menu and seasonal updates, Zizzi have given me - and other pizza scoffing vegans out there - the perfect excuse to keep going back. When I spotted on Twitter that their new spring menu includes a sticky chocolate and praline torte, I knew where I wanted to go for dinner this weekend...

For starters I ordered the vegan bruschetta, which has been updated for spring with Isle of Wight mixed tomatoes, red onion, roasted garlic, super green pesto and purple pea shoots. The tomatoes are a mixture of sweet and tangy and contrast perfectly with the roasted garlic and pesto. For anyone craving a little extra heat, I recommend drizzling some of Zizzi's chilli oil on top. As a self-confessed olive fiend, Sam chose the Nocellara giganti olives - these giant olives sourced from Trapani in Sicily are served 'naked', and, according to the menu, are the most sought after olives in the world. I'm not an olive fan so didn't try them for myself, but judging on how quickly Sam demolished the bowl, I'd guess they were pretty tasty!

Oh baby, those pizzas! I ordered the vegan classic margherita with butternut squash, caramelised balsamic onions and fire roasted peppers. I've tried other toppings which were all delicious, but these three are my absolute favourite - if you've never tried pizza with caramelised balsamic onions before, stop reading this blog post and go eat one immediately. The 'cheese' on top is a vegan mozzarella alternative called Mozzarisella, which is really creamy and soft - it's not stringy like some other melted cheeses and is more of a cheese sauce. The last time I ate in Zizzi with meat-eating friends, one of them ordered the vegan margherita to try and she said she wouldn't have known it was a vegan pizza if she hadn't read the menu, so Mozzarisella is a convincing dairy-free alternative! The pizza comes with three toppings as standard, so Sam opted for artichokes, roasted red onions and black olives - I told you he's an olive fiend!

Drum roll, please... Despite being stuffed, of course we had to try the sticky chocolate and praline torte! A dairy-free chocolate torte with a date, hazelnut and walnut base, served with coconut and chocolate ripple gelato, this was every bit as good as I'd hoped. Rich, creamy, and thick, if I didn't already need a lie down with my belt unbuckled before dessert, I did after eating this! I'd suggested to Sam that we order one to share, but he wasn't having any of it - when I couldn't manage all of mine, he polished off what was left, which I think might have been his clever plan all along...

If you haven't been to Zizzi before then get yourself along, pronto. If you have, then the launch of the new spring menu is your perfect excuse to go back. The chocolate and praline torte alone is reason enough to book a table. 

By the way, this post isn't sponsored or anything, I just really love that pizza...

Irish stew

Happy St. Patrick's Day! If you take a peek inside my baby book from back in Northern Ireland, you'll see that my favourite food was Irish stew. To celebrate today, I thought I would create a vegan version of an old favourite - I can't promise it will be as tasty as my mammy's though!

Even if you're not celebrating on March 17th, make a pot of Irish strew for the health benefits alone: while often labelled 'comfort food', don't forget that root vegetables are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, iron, fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, antioxidants, calcium... The list could go on and on! 


2 carrots, sliced

6 potatoes, cubed

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1 turnip, peeled and cubed

1 onion, sliced and quartered

2 leeks, sliced

½ small cabbage, finely chopped

150g pearl barley

60g soya mince

1.5 litres veg stock

2 tbsp wholemeal flour, to thicken

1 parsnip

1 tsp thyme

½ tsp coriander

Cracked black pepper 

2 tablespoons olive oil


Simmer the barley in stock.

Fry the onion, carrot, and parsnip in oil for five minutes, then add turnip, cabbage, and chopped leek and fry for another 5 minutes.

Add sweet potato and potatoes, then pour in the stock and barley.

Simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes, then add soya mince, flour, and herbs.

Stir occasionally for 10 minutes.

Finish with a twist of black pepper.

Serve with warm soda bread

To thicken the mixture and give it a more 'meaty' texture, I also added soya mince from Tesco. I can't remember what the stew from my early days in Largy tasted like, but I hope this recipe is a worthy copycat - perfect if you're hosting dinner for any meat-eaters this weekend.

Whether you cook it tonight for a proper St. Patrick's Day dinner, or eat it tomorrow to soak up the hangover, let me know if you have a bash at making a big pot of vegan Irish stew. 

Irish soda bread

Saint Patrick's Day coming up on Friday is the perfect excuse to indulge in thick slices of homemade Irish soda bread with lashing of butter and jam. A dense, unleavened bread made with flour, buttermilk, salt, and baking soda, Irish soda bread has been eaten in Ireland since around 1845. While the traditional simple ingredients were perfect for a country stricken with famine, modern bakers often 'dress up' the recipe with add ins, such as raisins, sugar, caraway seeds or Guinness. 

Irish soda bread used to be a favourite of mine but I haven't had a loaf in over a year - with a breakfast craving which I knew nothing else would satisfy, I set out to make a vegan soda bread recipe. With the buttermilk swapped for almond milk and apple cider vinegar, and added sugar and porridge oats, this recipe definitely isn't for any soda bread purists out there, but it's still blooming delicious. 


1½ cup almond milk

1½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 cups white flour

4 cups whole wheat flour

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons baking soda

1 tablespoon salt

4 tablespoons dairy-free butter

Handful porridge oats


Preheat oven to 180C.

Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Whisk the almond milk and apple cider vinegar together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Mix the white flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. 

Use two knives to cut butter into the dry mixture. 

Create a well in the mixture and pour in the almond milk and apple cider vinegar.

Gently knead the dough together on a lightly floured surface. 10 turns should be enough.

Shape the dough into a neat circle.

Cut an X into the top of the dough with a serrated knife.

Sprinkle with porridge oats.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Once cooled, cut into thick slices and heap with butter and jam.

While my personal preference is to sweeten soda bread with sugar and jam, keep savoury and it's also a perfect accompaniment for soup, stew or gravy. 

By the way, while the X on top will help the bread cook evenly, traditionally it's also to let the fairies out, so don't forget it!

Go Vegan World campaign

You may have already read about the Go Vegan World campaign online or in the news. With advertising - on buses, taxis and billboards - appearing in major cities across Ireland and the UK, you may have come face-to-face with their striking message. I first discovered the campaign when Go Vegan Scotland shared photos of the Go Vegan World adverts projected from the huge digital billboards outside the St. Enoch Centre in Glasgow. It is incredible to see a vegan message in such a prominent place, with the potential to change the minds - or at least start an important discussion - with a large audience.

The campaign was founded by Sandra Higgins, whose interest in animal rights stems from her previous career as a psychologist specialising in trauma. In 2008 she was asked to care for two orphaned lambs, which had a profound change on her life and work and lead her to further research just how animal products are sourced. Before the Go Vegan World campaign, Sandra founded the Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary in Ireland, which provides a lifelong home for approximately 100 rescued farm animals.

Sandra says 'If you asked most people if they think it is wrong to unnecessarily harm other sentient beings, they would answer that it is. This is because we all know that other animals feel. They have the capacity to experience pleasure... They experience physical and psychological pain when we hurt them. Like us, they have an interest in continuing their lives and do not want to die. Therefore, most people already hold the values that underpin veganism. Socio-cultural inheritance of animal use along with careful deception by the industries that profit from it, combine to enable us to behave in ways that are inconsistent with our deeply held ethical beliefs and values.

The aim of Go Vegan World is to expose this inconsistency between our values and our behaviour... We claim, as humans, to be humane, courageous and open minded, yet we refuse to look at the consequences for others of how we live our lives. As a result, our everyday lifestyle choices about what we eat for dinner, wear to work, or do in our leisure time, destroy them individual by individual, in their trillions, year after year. The Go Vegan World campaign aims to bring to light the processes involved in bringing a sentient being into this life, through their objectification in laboratories, zoos, circuses, and farms, into the slaughterhouse and back out as the commodities we use. These are the processes that we are responsible for, that we pay for, every time we make a choice that is not vegan.'

Go Vegan World launched in Ireland in October 2015 and is now touring the UK. The campaign is raising awareness of veganism on an groundbreaking scale: after launching on the largest billboard in Europe, on the M6, it has become the first vegan campaign to have adverts feature in national newspapers, as well as the first vegan campaign to ever be placed at an international sporting event, with an advert appearing at Stadio Olimpico in February during the Italy vs Ireland Six Nations rugby game. Last month, the campaign also took over the entire digital escalator at London Euston station, the sixth busiest railway station in Britain. 

With powerful, thought-provoking messages (such as 'Dairy Takes Babies from their Mothers', 'Humane Milk is a Myth: Don't Buy It' and 'Vegetarianism is Not Enough') and striking imagery, the campaign is designed to encourage people to question the notion that humans are better than other animals, and to get them to think seriously about the ethics of continuing to use animals as food, clothing, entertainment, and for research. 

Ran by volunteers and funded by donations, the campaign has already won a media award, and has hopefully inspired change. Sandra says 'Since I opened the sanctuary in 2008 I have been humbled by the character, personality, complexity, sophistication and courage of the individuals who have lived here. I have come to understand that they live for their own reasons, not ours, and that our objectification of them is utterly unjust. I witness how they treasure every day of their lives and I am heartbroken on their behalf that we take those lives from them before their natural end. I am appalled by the harm we inflict on them by our use of them. I am horrified by the hidden nature of this harm. Everyone needs to know about it. It is my hope that this campaign will bring public awareness to the truth of how they live and how they die.'

You can download Go Vegan World's free guide - which explain what veganism is, why we need to be vegan, and how to be vegan - from their website. 

Vegetable and bean chilli

As much as I love trying new recipes, there are certain dishes which I come back to again and again, and this vegetable and bean chilli has to top my 'tried and trusted' list. I am guilty of regularly eating this a couple of times a week for dinner, as well as reheating in work the next day for lunch, I like it that much. I thought it was about time I shared the recipe - not only because it's such a favourite of mine, but every time I reheat a bowl in work, people will 'ooh and ahh' over the smell and ask what I'm cooking!

Serves 4


320g brown rice, rinsed

Olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

140g Quorn meat free vegan pieces

2 green bell peppers, roughly chopped

Half a punnet of chestnut mushrooms

3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 pack chilli con carne seasoning mix

400g can of baked beans

400g can of mixed bean salad

Dairy-free butter

250g can of corn

1 avocado, sliced

A pinch of dried chilli flakes


Pour the rinsed brown rice into a large saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Heat a spoonful of olive oil in a pan then add the Quorn pieces and stir until evenly coated. Add the onion and fry until soft. Mix in the bell peppers and bean salad, fry for two minutes, then add the mushrooms, garlic and tomatoes. Cook until everything is softened.

Add 1/3 of seasoning mix and stir well. Pour in the baked beans and another 1/3 of the seasoning mix with a generous pinch of chilli flakes. 

Cover with a lid until the rice is cooked.

Heat a teaspoon of dairy-free butter in a saucepan then add the canned corn and cook for several minutes until hot. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 of the seasoning mix and stir through. Either dish up in a separate serving bowl or add directly to the vegetable and bean chilli mix. 

Once the rice is ready, spoon into a bowl and top with the vegetable and bean chilli, then finish with 1/2 sliced avocado. 

Serve with tortilla chips (and a frozen margarita). 

Tip: many own brand tortilla chips are vegan-friendly (I was munching on these lightly salted chips from Tesco when I cooked this chilli) and so are Chilli Heatwave Doritos, if you fancy something spicier! 

I know this doesn't look like anything that special, but I promise you it's delicious! Even better, it's super simple and can't be 'dressed up' easily - throw into a tortilla wrap for a delicious burrito (I don't know why, but burritos are scientifically 72% tastier than plain chilli) or ditch the rice and pour over the tortilla chips for amazing loaded nachos. 

Also, I wasn't joking about that frozen margarita...

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