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

Ingredients

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

Method

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...


Peanut butter and apple crumble

Every week my office has a fruit box delivered packed with bananas, apples, pears, plums, kiwis and oranges (no avocados yet, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed). Last Friday I noticed there were a lot of apples left over at the end of the day and - hating waste and loving food - I poured them into my handbag and took them home. I knew it wouldn't take much more than peanut butter, rolled oats and brown sugar to turn those leftover apples into something pretty special...







Ingredients

Crumble

64g brown sugar

64g rolled oats

96g plain flour

57g dairy-free butter

113g peanut butter

Filling

6 apples, peeled, cored and diced 

113g peanut butter

96g brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon plain flour 

Method

Crumble

Whisk the flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon together in a large bowl until smooth. 

Add the dairy-free butter and peanut butter, then use a fork to cut into the mix until it resembles small pebbles. 

Scoop into a sandwich bag and freeze for an hour and a half. 

Filling

Preheat oven to 180C.

Whisk the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon together in a large bowl until smooth. 

Spoon in the peanut butter until it's blended with the dry mix. 

Pour in the diced apples and stir until all are well coated.

Carefully pour the mix into a pie dish then pile the crumble on top.

Place in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes until golden brown. 

Don't get too excited and eat straight out of the oven or you will burn your tongue...


The rich sweetness of the brown sugar works perfectly with the tang of the apples, while the peanut butter sticks everything together deliciously (whether it's breakfast or dessert, peanut butter is my favourite ingredient). I had a big bowl of crumble hot from the oven last Saturday and have reheated another couple of bowls as after-dinner treats since then. The recipe is so easy that it's very tempting to permanently keep a fresh tub in the fridge - it's always sensible to have a dessert on standby.

Not bad for a box of unwanted apples, eh?


Crossing the Rubicon

I blooming love curry. As someone who always chooses the spicy option (and who loves any excuse to load her plate with beans, lentils and vegetables), it's a staple dish in my kitchen - a firm favourite and go-to option when I'm 'umming and ahhing' over what to cook for dinner. 

That's why I was so excited to be invited to the blogger evening at Glasgow's newest curry restaurant, Crossing the Rubicon. Instead of serving up belt-bursting plates of curry, Crossing the Rubicon specialise in 'Indian tapas', encouraging diners to 'cherry-pick from a very tasty and diverse range of snacks and meals, depending on your mood and appetite.' I'm a big fan of restaurants which serve up small plates - I think it's a great opportunity to try several dishes in one sitting, particularly when the menu has so many tasty options that you can't possibly narrow them down. Can't choose between the roast carrot and sweet potato korma or the crispy tofu mutter? Order them both!

The restaurant itself is very cool and colourful: the eclectic bar area - a mixture of chalk boards, bright bar stools, glass tables in booths and black and red artwork - is what greets you as you walk in, and a separate dining room up a few steps - with large mirrors, hanging red lights and more artwork in warm tones - make up the two main spaces. Spacious with a relaxed vibe, it's a perfect spot for a laid back date or catching up with friends.












We were each handed a glass of champagne (chin chin!) then shown to our table, which was set with a bowl of spiced onions and a stack of crunchy poppadoms. When everyone was seated, Max, the general manager, explained that they would be serving up a selection of dishes from the menu during the evening, so we could try a variety and get a better idea of what the kitchen can do.

To accompany our spiced onions and poppadoms, a platter of different small dishes was brought out first: steamed basmati rice, chana chat (light salad made with chickpeas, peppers, cumin and lemon), dhal makani (rich lentil and bean dhal), cooling yoghurt and hot buttered chapattis. I was pleasantly surprised that everything was vegetarian or vegan so far - often meat-free dishes can seem like a bit of an afterthought in 'regular' restaurants, so the platter boded well for what we could expect over the rest of the evening!

We were then treated to a bowl of onion pakora and vegan haggis pakora. I've never tried haggis pakora before, so I excitedly tucked into a couple - peppery and rich with a crispy batter, it was a perfect 'Scotland meets India' mash-up. At this point Sam said he could 'happily eat just haggis pakora for the rest of the evening' - but I think what came next made him eat his words!

The staff then served up a light and creamy roast carrot and sweet potato korma - the runaway success of the evening, even meat-eating bloggers were still raving about how delicious it was at the end of the event. It's the dish in the last photo above by the way, but my low light photo doesn't do it justice - honestly, make sure to add this to your order if you visit Crossing the Rubicon; you won't regret it!





After the roast carrot and sweet potato korma, we tried the gobi khali mirch (cauliflower spiced with cracked black pepper), tarka dhal (warming pea and lentil dhal) and tofu mutter (crispy fried tofu on top of peas and curry). The gobi khali mirch was packed with generous florets of cauliflower and was a perfect spicy contrast to the creamy korma. The tofu mutter was a surprise favourite of mine - this was my first time eating tofu in a curry and I couldn't believe how well it worked! The cubes of tofu were crispy on the outside and lovely and fluffy on the inside, melting perfectly into the spice of the curry with every mouthful. If you're a fan of curry with paneer, I think this would be a really great vegan alternative.

By this point we were absolutely stuffed - every dish we tried was genuinely delicious, so we'd had a few spoonfuls of each (it was impossible not to go back for seconds). I can't imagine how full the meat-eaters who were trying the meat and meat-free dishes must have been! When the dessert was served I didn't think I would be able to manage a single bite - but then they told us it was a 'vegan chocolate pot', and I knew there was no way I could leave without trying it. Rich and creamy, if I didn't know it was vegan I would have assumed it was loaded with cream and butter - I couldn't believe it when I asked Max what the secret ingredient was and she admitted it was tofu! For anyone who says tofu is boring, Crossing the Rubicon prove that it all depends on how you cook it. Despite being so thick and chocolate-y, I told myself I would only have one mouthful... Then I had another... And another... And, well, you get the picture.

We left so stuffed that I thought I was going to have to roll home from the West End. In a city which sets a high bar for curry, Crossing the Rubicon offer something different: small plates of high quality, imaginative dishes, perfect for mixing and matching and spending an evening working your way through (it's a hard job but someone has to do it). With staff who are helpful and friendly, great service and a menu which is about 1/3 vegan, I think I know where I'll be suggesting the next time I go out for dinner with family or friends...


* Thank you to Crossing the Rubicon for kindly inviting me to their blogger evening to try the menu. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Stuffed butternut squash

Someone posted a photo of a butternut squash stew in the #veganhour chat (on Twitter every Tuesday from 7pm - 8pm UK time, FYI) earlier this week and since then I've had the biggest craving for butternut squash. I wasn't really in the mood for a stew though, so I decided to 'go big or go home' and just roast and eat the whole blooming thing.




Serves 2

Ingredients

Olive oil

Ground black peppercorns

1 teaspoon mixed herbs

Chilli flakes

1 teaspoon paprika

1 butternut squash, halved and seeds removed

100g quinoa and bulgar wheat mix, rinsed 

400ml vegetable stock

1/2 red onion, diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 red pepper, chopped

400g canned chickpeas, rinsed

Two handfuls of chopped kale

3 tomatoes, quartered

Method

Preheat oven to 180C. 

Cook the halved butternut squash on a baking tray in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes remove from oven and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of mixed herbs, a generous twist of ground black peppercorns and a pinch of chilli flakes. Place back in the oven for another 30 minutes, until soft all the way through.

Bring 400ml of vegetable stock to boil, then pour in the rinsed quinoa and bulgar wheat mix, and let simmer for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. 

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, then add the red onion and garlic and heat until soft. Add the red pepper and cook until soft. Top with the kale, stirring through the mixture for a few minutes, until it reaches your preferred crunch. Sprinkle with paprika, ground black peppercorns and a pinch of chilli flakes and stir through.

Boil the rinsed chickpeas for 4-5 minutes until soft.

Drizzle the quartered tomatoes with olive oil and ground black peppercorns, then add to the baking tray, next to the butternut squash, and cook for 5-10 minutes.

Drain the chickpeas and the quinoa and bulgar wheat mix. Stir together in a saucepan, then add the vegetable mixture and the cooked tomatoes. 

Spoon a generous helping of everything on top of your butternut squash halves.

Try to resist eating the entire butternut squash.



I had a sneaky suspicion this dish would be tasty, but I was still pleasantly surprised at how delicious it turned out to be! For what is 'simply' a big plate of vegetables and grain, there is such a great variety of different textures and flavours, making this simple meal seem more complicated than it is - perfect if you want to cook something easy but still impressive!

With so many vitamins packed in (butternut squash is loaded with immune-boosting vitamin A and C, not to mention the health benefits of kale, red pepper and tomatoes), you can feel good - and not at all greedy - about devouring a huge helping. 

Picnic in Glasgow

When I woke up on Sunday morning to a dreich grey sky and sub-zero temperatures, I was tempted to wrap up in a blanket burrito and do nothing but read books and drink tea all day - but, after spending all day Saturday doing just that, I figured I probably shouldn't spend my entire weekend hibernating...

Thankfully I'd heard about a brand spanking new vegan cafe, Picnic, which has opened in Glasgow - and if there's one thing that can convince me to get dressed and face the world, it's an all day vegan breakfast.







On the edge of Glasgow's fashionable Merchant City area, Picnic is a vegan cafe with a focus on healthy eating. Serving up sandwiches, salads, curries, soups and baked potatoes in a stylish setting, it's the perfect place to while away a couple of hours taking your time over lunch. Order a hot pot of tea or a colourful smoothie (I want to try the Yellow by Yellow smoothie next time) and you might even forget about the miserable weather outside.

As well as lunches, pop in before 11am on a weekday to choose from a selection of different breakfast options, including porridge, a B.L.T., cream cheese bagel, croissants or a yoghurt and granola pot. If you visit on the weekend, you can choose from any of the above, served all day, or indulge with the full breakfast. Healthy and full of flavours, the full breakfast comes with vegan sausages, mushrooms, baked beans, spinach, tomatoes, asparagus, beetroot, avocado and potato scones.

We both ordered the full breakfast, no hesitation - while I usually prefer to order different meals when I'm trying somewhere new, so I can sample a bit of both, there was no way either of us was going to choose something other than this mega-plate of goodness. Also, I've never eaten asparagus for breakfast before and I wanted to find out how well it worked. Spoiler: it's absolutely delicious no matter what time of the day.






When I'd ordered our breakfasts at the counter, I'd had a long hard stare at the fresh cake cabinet, and I knew I couldn't walk out of there without trying a vegan snowball cake. In case you've never tried one before (I think they're a Scottish recipe), 'snowballs' are basically two sponge cakes stuck together with jam and covered in icing and desiccated coconut. I hadn't eaten one in years and knowing there was a vegan version within scoffing distance was too much to resist. In no rush to go back out into the drizzle, we ordered another coffee, a pot of Irish breakfast tea, an empire biscuit and a snowball. What can I say? We can eat.

The snowball was sweet and light - a perfect compromise if you've just eaten a full cooked breakfast but still can't say no to cake... The empire biscuit was my favourite though: moist, soft and stuffed with jam, there's no way even the most dedicated biscuit aficionados could have guessed it was vegan. It was absolutely spot on and I'm already craving another!

Picnic is a brilliant new addition to Glasgow's vegan scene. With a focus on healthy eating (as well as sneaking in some cake), it offers something different - not to mention the very pretty and chilled space to hang out. The staff were friendly, the service was great and the food was delicious. It was definitely worth getting out of bed for.

Easy toast toppings

It might be a stretch to call this a 'recipe' post, but I thought I'd share some easy toast toppings to liven up your slice of Hovis! I usually have porridge for breakfast (at my desk, while reading work emails #glamorous) but I like to mix it up on the weekends - step forward toasted carbohydrates and a whole toast host of different toppings.





For the first slice, spread a thick layer of peanut butter then top with apple slices and a sprinkling of cinnamon. I blooming love peanut butter - tasty, filling and a healthy source of protein, fibre and monounsaturated fats, five days out of seven, breakfast isn't breakfast without a dollop of peanut butter. I usually go for Meridian peanut butter which is 100% peanuts, so doesn't contain any of the nasty sugar, salt or palm oil which many other companies bulk their peanut butters out with.



It's not new but it is clever: you can't go wrong with avocado on toast. This is mashed avocado topped with crushed black pepper and a drizzle of chilli oil. With more potassium than bananas, vitamins and monounsaturated fats, this is another food worth adding to your breakfast table. If you don't like avocado, then please persevere - I used to hate the stuff, but, after stubbornly eating it again and again to understand what the fuss is all about, I honestly crave it now. If you're trying to train your taste buds, I recommend starting with fresh guacamole (adding red onion, red chillies, cherry tomatoes, lime juice and olive oil) then working your way up to avocado on toast.



This is the slice I'll make up when it's cold and grey outside and I want to pretend I'm somewhere more tropical: spread another thick layer of peanut butter then top with sliced banana and desiccated coconut. Sweet but not sickly, this topping is even better paired with a fruity tea.



I've saved the most indulgent till last, but I couldn't talk about toast toppings without mentioning chocolate spread! It's a bit of a childhood throwback but every now and again it's fun to brighten up Sunday mornings with a generous helping of chocolate spread topped with chopped strawberries (watching cartoons in your pyjamas optional but recommended). Just FYI, this chocolate spread is the Nature's Store Hazelnut and Cocoa Spread, which is vegan.

So, there you have it - four slices of toast in four easy ways! All you need now is to put your feet up and pour yourself a mug of tea...

Vegan options at Wagamama

Last Saturday I took a hop, skip and a jump over to Wagamama at Glasgow Fort with a rumbling belly and craving for Asian food. I hadn't been to Wagamama in yonks - in fact, I hadn't been since I started eating vegan - so I was really excited to try out their vegan options.

If you've never eaten at Wagamama before, just to give you a quick guide: with fresh dishes made onsite in the open kitchen (so you can watch the chefs do that impressive flippy thing with the pan and all the flames) your food comes as soon as it's ready. That means you order sides and mains, instead of starters, which you just eat in whatever order they arrive at your table. With everything made fresh, you have the option to tweak your dish from what's listed on the menu: ask for fewer chillies in your teppanyaki, pick a sauce from another curry or add noodles to your salad - the world is your oyster (or tofu, as we're talking vegan food)!

We ordered a couple of mains and a few different sides to try, so in the end our table was busy with plates, bowls and a whole lot of food...








We decided to start with a fresh fruit each - I opted for the positive juice while Sam had the blueberry spice juice. The positive juice is made from blended pineapple, lime, spinach, cucumber and apple and is so fresh and light that it reminded me of a mojito - which is probably why I guzzled it all without remembering to take a photo! The blueberry spice juice is blueberry, apple and carrot with a pinch of ginger, which Sam really enjoyed (but he did keep sipping mine too...).

For sides we choose the steamed edamame beans with chilli garlic salt, wok-fried tender stem broccoli and bok choi in a garlic and soy sauce, and steamed vegetable dumplings. The flavours of the chilli garlic salt worked perfectly with the edamame beans and honestly I could have eaten another bowl - it's such a simple way to liven up edamame beans so I'll definitely be trying to make these at home. I know wok-fried greens don't sound particularly exciting but the snap of the crunchy broccoli and the soft bok choi worked really well together and the garlic and soy sauce was the perfect accompaniment - if you struggle to eat your greens, frying and drizzling them in soy sauce will definitely help! The vegetable dumplings were definitely my favourite side though - soft and moreish, these were far too easy to eat.

By the way, don't forget that you can tweak your dishes - while the dipping sauce which comes with the dumplings had a lovely mild balsamic flavour, our waitress also gave us the spicy gyoza dipping sauce to try, which I actually ended up preferring.









For mains I ordered the firecracker curry with tofu and Sam went for the tofu and vegetable ramen. The firecracker curry is fiery mix of tofu, mangetout, red and green peppers, onions and red chillies. served with steamed rice, sesame seeds, shichimi and fresh lime. Disclaimer: this is hot. As in, 'you'll definitely want another glass of water hot'. The heat didn't overpower the rest of the flavours though, which were so fresh and zingy. If you're not great with hot food but fancy the sound of the other ingredients, then you can ask for fewer chillies in your curry. In case you've not tried it before, ramen is a hearty bowl of hot broth filled with fresh noodles and toppings (e.g. meat, tofu, vegetables, etc.). Wagamama's vegetable ramen is a light vegetable broth packed with crispy fried silken tofu and mixed vegetables. With chilli added to the vegetable broth, the ramen had an extra kick and was lovely and warming. I should add that the bowl was so huge that Sam couldn't even manage it all (which has never happened before, ever).

When we were offered the dessert menu I honestly don't think we could have eaten another bite. If you do have room for something sweet, you can choose from a variety of fruit ice lollies - while they do look tasty (and sound perfect for when Scotland finally warms up a little!) this is definitely the most limited area of the menu for vegan food. I'm living for the day when they make the amazing coconut reika vegan - although I'll need to learn how not to gorge myself on so many sides before then!

While we ordered a lot of different things, there's still plenty left to try (and even more if you tweak the meat dishes and ask for tofu or more vegetables instead). I think I'll go for the yasai katsu curry next, and the bang bang cauliflower is calling my name...

(Perhaps we should just forget about what I said earlier about not gorging on sides).


* Wagamama kindly invited me to try the vegan options at their Glasgow Fort restaurant, but, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Curried chickpea soup

While the days might be getting slightly longer, it's still pretty cold and dark out there - cue my cravings for comfort food with a fiery kick. I've never been one for traditional British food (sorry, toad in the hole), but I like to think this hearty bowl of curried chickpea soup is a perfect compromise for a dish which will warm your cockles and put some spice in your belly.



Serves 4

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs

400g chopped tomatoes

400g green lentils, rinsed

1 litre vegetable stock

Pinch chilli flakes

Ground black peppercorns

400g canned chickpeas, rinsed

Two handfuls of chopped kale

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Method

Heat a generous tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and carrot and stir regularly until the onion is soft. Stir in the garlic, cumin, curry powder and mixed herbs, then pour over the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.

Add the lentils and vegetable stock, then season with a pinch of chilli flakes and a few twists of ground black peppercorns. Tip in the rinsed chickpeas. Turn up the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then cover and simmer for around 30 minutes. 

Spoon a quarter of the soup into a separate saucepan and use a hand-blender to puree the mixture. If you prefer a smooth soup, puree a larger amount of the liquid - I only pureed a quarter because I like soup to be thick and chunky. Pour the pureed soup back into the pot and add the chopped kale. Stir the kale through and cook for 5 more minutes to soften. 

Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and another twist of ground black peppercorns.


Perfect for anyone craving comfort food with a twist, this soup will keep you warm and fill you up from head to toe - I didn't even have room for crusty bread with my bowl, which is pretty much unheard of in my kitchen!

Quick Reads

As an unashamed bookworm, I can't imagine a life without reading. Whether it's the novel in my bag for long train journeys, my straining living room bookcase which offers escapism on rainy weekends, or the stack of books next to my bed which beg to be read until my eyelids are drooping, my world would be so much smaller without books in it. 

Which is why I was sad to read that one in six adults in the UK struggles with reading and one in three doesn't read for pleasure. People's reasons for not reading are varied: some say they find books intimidating, that they struggle to find the time or that books are difficult or boring.

The Quick Reads campaign sets out to challenge these beliefs and to show that everyone can enjoy reading. Every year those clever sorts behind the campaign commission big name authors to write short books that are specifically designed to be easier to read. While the books are largely the same as mainstream editions - including special abridged versions of big titles, including I Am Malala and Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway - they have been tweaked slightly to make them shorter and more accessible. 



This year's Quick Reads books, released on Thursday 2nd February, are:

• Dead Simple crime anthology - a crime collection bringing together eight bestselling authors;
• Looking for Captain Poldark - a road trip novel about four people who meet online and drive to Poldark set in Cornwall to find Aiden Turner;
• A Very Distant Shore by Jenny Colgan - a romantic novel set on a remote Scottish island, where a Syrian refugee goes to work as a doctor;
• The Other Side of You - a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast, set in London;
• Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway - a specially adapted book drawing on the late Susan Jeffers'
landmark self-help book.





I'd never read a self-help book before - always assuming 'they weren't for me' - but Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway is such a famous title that I was undeniably curious. Plus the special abridged version seemed like the perfect way to dip my toes into the world of self-help.

The book addresses the fears which we all face in life - whether that's public speaking, finding the courage to leave a relationship or job we're unhappy in, or learning a new skill - and provides ideas, exercises and tips to help you learn how to face your fears with enthusiasm. With a refreshing take on how fear can be a positive force in our lives, Jeffers explains why we shouldn't be embarrassed of our fears and how we can actually harness them to achieve the goals we really want in life.





Dead Simple is a collection of specially written short stories from some of the UK's best crime writers. With each story only 10-15 pages long, it's the perfect collection for dipping into on your commute or for reading a story before bed (if you're not easily freaked out, that is). 

The stories ranged from clever, to funny to just plain gruesome, but all were quirky and compelled me to keep turning the pages - in fact, I read the full book in one sitting. This is a perfect collection for anyone who likes crime fiction - or has an addiction to Scandinavian TV crime dramas - or a newbie who's curious about the murky worlds hidden within their pages...





The Other Side of You is a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast, set in a London estate torn apart by gangs, violence and drugs. After witnessing a murder, teenager Will has to run for his life, leaving him homeless and vulnerable. Forced into petty theft to survive but with bigger aspirations, Will has to choose between his good and bad sides.

The book draws on Craig's discussions with gang members and her experience of fighting a burglar in her own home ('He was someone who had taken a wrong path in life, and I kept wondering what had led to this'). Tackling class, race and religious divides, The Other Side of You is so much more than your typical coming-of-age story.



Reading is a hobby which is chock-a-block with benefits - whether that's escapism, inspiring people to make a life-changing decision, comforting someone when they need it most or providing a window into someone else's world - which is why I think Quick Reads is such a wonderful campaign. I genuinely think reading enriches lives - and makes it a lot more fun! - and anything which encourages more people to take part should be celebrated.

All six books are now available for just £1 from most major bookshops or can be borrowed from libraries. The campaign has published over 100 titles, sold more than 4.8 million copies and enabled over 4.6 million library loans since it was founded in 2006. It will continue to work with prisons, librarians and retailers to bring the benefits and pleasure of reading to everyone.


* Post is in collaboration with Quick Reads but all opinions are my own. I really blooming love books.
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