Mini Margherita Muffin Pizzas with Jalapenos

Pizza! Mmmmmmm!

We love pizza, don't you?

Scientists have recently discovered why. They've come to the conclusion that we have a sixth sense, no not a spooky child who can see ghosts, but a sixth taste sense. One that explains our love for pizza.

Originally they thought we had four taste senses: sweet, salty, sour and bitter. In 2009 they added umami to the list, which is a strong savoury flavour and now they have added starchy as our sixth sense which explains our love of carbs.
Quick but delicious mini pizzas made on an English muffin base with simple margherita toppings and a kick from jalapenos. The jalapenos come from the new Baxters Deli Toppers range and the recipe is vegetarian and vegan. #GetTopping


Shell Pasta with Samphire, Spinach & Sausages

Shell Pasta with Samphire, Spinach & Sausages

Pasta dishes don't have to swim in sauce. Don't get me wrong I love penne completely coated in a freshly made tomato and basil sauce, spaghetti drowning in bolognaise and macaroni rich with cheese sauce, but sometimes it's nice to keep the pasta quite plain and let the other ingredients sing.

In this dish, the pasta shells are coated in a little pesto and tossed with spinach, samphire and well cooked sausages.


Meat Free Mondays - 7 Recipes for the Week Ahead (25 September 2016)

Happy Monday everyone!

How do you start the week? With a smile on your face or dragging your feet? I have to admit it's a mixed bag for me. I'm not sleeping well at the moment and a Sunday night seems to be even worse, so I have to drag myself out of bed on a Monday morning and today was no exception.

Graham too waited until the last minute to get out of bed, but Cooper was up and ready to go early this morning. He never drags his feet. He always bounces out of bed full of energy and ready for the day ahead. He was excited to go into school today too, as he has some new Pokemon cards, which are all the rage at his school right now.

I do hope you bounced into Monday.

Monday also starts a new week and it's time to plan for the week ahead. As usual I have seven amazing veggie recipes for you to try and a few bonus recipes too, so no need to run out of ideas.

I'm pleased so many people are tuning in each week for new ideas. Last week Meat Free Mondays had nearly 6 thousand views. Thanks to everyone who join in each week. To stop by for some ideas, to leave a comment or to contribute a recipe and thanks to Nayna from Simply Food for my featured photo this week.


Creamy Vanilla & Apricot Smoothie

It's coming to the end of apricot season so I wanted to share this creamy smoothie with you. It's super fruity but creamy too. A great breakfast smoothie or afternoon treat.

I don't buy apricots often, to be honest I don't often see them for sale, so when I do I grab them. I like to make jam with them, bake them on the BBQ or just eat them plain if they are ripe.

I'm glad I made this smoothie with them this time, it was a real treat.

A few apricot facts.

Apricots are:

  1. In season in the UK from May to September.
  2. Low calorie, only 50 calories per 100g.
  3. High in Vitamin A and Carotene (both are antioxidants and good for vision).
  4. Good source of Vitamin C (good for the immune system).
  5. Good sources of potassium, iron, calcium and manganese.
  6. Best when stored in the fridge and eaten as soon as possible.

I made my smoothie, as I make all my smoothies, in my Optimum G2.1 power blender.

My Blender

I use this daily. It's easy to use and easy to clean.

Throw everything in and hit a button. That's it.

Create nutritious fruit smoothies and juices in a matter of seconds with a smooth, delicious consistency.

Create deliciously smooth healthy sorbet.

Grind various grains and seeds with ease and simplicity.

Create delicious dairy-free nut milks, soy milks and much more

Create smooth and creamy nutrient rich hot soups.

Create homemade spreads, dips, dressings and marinades in seconds.

To clean, I rinse the jug under the tap to re-use or  I rinse then a few drops of washing up liquid, a splosh of boiling kettle water, blend and it self cleans. 

If you decide to buy one yourself, click on my link and when it's in your basket, type 'free ambassador delivery' in the comments box and Froothie will refund you the £9.95 delivery. 

(Use my link and choose any of the blenders on the site & you'll be refunded the delivery charge back onto your card, when you enter the code into the comments box)

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Creamy Vanilla & Apricot Smoothie
A fresh and creamy vanilla and apricot smoothie that's great for breakfast or an afternoon treat. Flax seeds are added for a nutritional boost.
  • 6 large ripe apricots
  • 200ml milk (or almond milk)
  • 100ml fresh orange juice
  • 100g Greek yoghurt (or plain soy yoghurt)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp flax seeds (optional)
  • a handful of ice cubes
1. Rinse the apricots, cut them in half and remove the stones.2. Add all the ingredients to a blender and whizz until smooth. If you don't have a power blender skip the flax seeds or grind them to powder before adding. Also don't add the ice cubes if you have a standard blender, it can burn out the motor.3. If the smoothie is too thick, you can add more milk or orange juice. 4. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4

Here are a few more apricot recipes to try:

Slow Cooker Apricot Spelt Loaf Cake - Baking Queen 74
Apricot, Almond and Ricotta Frangipane Tart - Supergolden Bakes
Apricot Ice Cream with Amaretto - Maison Cupcake
Apricot Mousse - Natural Kitchen Adventures
Peach and Apricot Jam - Fab Food 4 All

Disclosure: I get a small commission if you buy a blender using my link. I wasn't expected to write a positive review and I do love my blender so I am happy to recommend it.

Meat Free Mondays - 7 Recipes for the Week Ahead (19 September 2016)

Happy Monday my friends. How have you been? I've had a busy week. Work, blogging, housework, working in the garden, picking up new glasses and looking for a new car. Now we have the child and the dogs we need something a little bigger. Unfortunately that means a bigger bill too, so we haven't quite decided yet.

It's Monday and the start of another week and you know what that means? Another round of Meat Free Mondays and some great ideas for you to try this week. I am super impressed this week. See what you think.


Beet, Chive & Asparagus Tarts with Spicy Slaw

Beet, Chive & Asparagus Tarts with Spicy Slaw

You are such a tart!

Not you, my pies. I've been playing with puff pastry again.

You can't beat a puff pastry tart and there are so many options for filling them. This time I went for pickled baby beets, chives and asparagus tips. A combination made in my kitchen heaven.

So quick to make too!

Easy Beet, Chive & Asparagus Tarts served with Spicy Slaw

Is puff pastry vegan?

Thankfully a lot of the puff pastry and shortcrust pastry available in the shops these days is suitable for vegans. Avoid those that say all butter and check on the back for the ingredients. I by Jus Rol which is suitable for vegans and available in a block or ready rolled sheets of pastry

What fillings to use with puff pastry?

I use a variety of base flavours for my puff pastry tarts, One day I might I spread them with tomato puree, the next time I start with pesto, sometimes I start with mustard and on other occasions hummus is the only thing for that bottom layer. This time I used a cream cheese mixed with freshly chopped chives and black pepper.

For Graham's vegan tarts, I used Violife cream cheese which is dairy free.

If  you need more puff pastry filling inspiration, check out my 25 Awesome Puff Pastry Recipes for Vegans or try my Scottish baby carrot and chive tart.

Easy Beet, Chive & Asparagus Puff PastryTarts served with Spicy Slaw

Once I had the base I added pickled baby beets and asparagus tips, then baked them in the oven until golden and crisp.

The baby beets added a sweet tangy flavour with contrasted beautifully with the bitter broccoli flavour of the asparagus and the creamy soft cheese studded with the gentle onion flavour of chives.

It still needed something more, so I topped them with Spicy Slaw.

Baxters Spicy Slaw

Spicy Slaw

Baxters Spicy Slaw to be precise. I've been trying out their new range of deli toppers, which are great lazy toppings to perk up dishes street food style.

The Spicy Slaw has a bit of a kick. It's basically shredded mixed vegetables in vinegar with red chillies. Not too hot, but it has a bit of a kick to it. It would actually be great on homemade veggie burgers and homemade veggie sausages too.

I am so loving this range. Just my kind of thing.

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Beet, Chive & Asparagus Tarts with Spicy Slaw
A simple puff pastry tart filled with herb flavour cream cheese and topped with pickled baby beets, asparagus tips and finished with a spicy slaw topping. Vegetarian and vegan options.
  • 320g ready rolled puff pastry
  • 200g cream cheese (or dairy free cream cheese)
  • a handful of fresh chives, finely snipped with scissors
  • a good grinding black pepper
  • 18 asparagus tips
  • 9 - 12 baby beets, patted on kitchen paper (cut larger ones in half)
  • a splosh of milk (or nut milk), to brush the edges of the pastry
  • 6 tbsp Baxters Spicy Slaw
1. Heat the oven to 180c/160c fan/350f/gas mark 4.2. Use a small bowl to cut 6 circles out of the pastry. I had to re-roll the scraps for my last base.3. Place the pastry on baking trays and line a border around each of them, being careful not to cut all the way through.4. Mix the cream cheese with the chives and season with black pepper. Spread each tart with this mixture, keeping inside the border.5. Top each tart with baby beets and asparagus, then brush the edges with milk.6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and crisp..7. Before serving top with some spicy slaw and serve with a dressed green salad. Add wedges for an evening meal.8. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Makes 6 individual tarts

Find out more about Baxters Deli Toppers on their microsite and enter their draw to win a jar.

Follow the conversation on social media with #GetTopping


Mushroom, Lentil & Nut Wellington

Mushroom, Lentil & Nut Wellington

A rich mushroom, lentil and nut wellington in golden, crisp puff pastry. The most luxurious pie to serve up as a vegetarian and vegan main course with roast potatoes, vegetables and onion gravy for Sunday dinner, Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. If you don't like mushrooms, try my butternut, red pepper and potato puff pastry plait.

Disclosure: I created this recipe for Baxters. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

10 Vegan Lunchbox Ideas for Kids

10 Vegan lunchbox ideas for kids and tips to take the stress out of packed lunches.

Vegan lunch box for kids. Ideas, tips and one week's lunch box plan.

Packed Lunches

Cooper is back at school so I'm back in full-on planning lunch mode. As I prepare I thought it would be useful to share some of my tips with you. 

Believe me I know how stressful it can be both preparing lunches and actually getting them to eat enough.

Scroll down for tips and a weekly lunchbox menu

School Lunches

You may be thinking why not school lunches or dinners as they are sometimes called? 

It's true they're free here in Scotland for Primary 1-3 children, but there isn't much in the way of choice.  

Here is an example. You'll see there is one vegetarian meal a day and it is rarely vegan. The other children have lots of choice.


Example of a school lunch menu

So as a veggie child he has one option a day and if he doesn't like it tough. 

He'll eat sometimes eat the pasta if it's tomato based pasta, baked potato and beans or veggie burger but he doesn't like most of the other dishes (don't tell anyone, but I wouldn't want to eat some of them either), so it's packed lunches most days.

I think you'll find these ideas are great for adult packed lunches too.

Packed Lunch Tips

Vegan lunch box for kids. Ideas, tips and one week's lunch box plan.

1. Plan ahead

It really helps to plan ahead. 

Make a list of lunch ideas and stock up at the weekend. There can be an overlap, but try to add something different every day as it keeps them from getting bored. 

Let's face it none of us want to eat the same lunch every day.

2. Presentation

Presentation helps too, so stock up on fun lunchboxes, colourful paper napkins, a variety of tubs, bento picks and cookie cutters for cutting sandwiches into interesting shapes. 

You don't have to spend a lot, look in pound shops and other discount shops and you will find some great bargains.

3. Yumbox

I also love a Yumbox. 

They are lunchboxes with lots of little compartments. They seal tight so you can add dips or yoghurt to one of the compartments and it doesn't leak. 

They are pricey, but we use them a lot, not just for Cooper, but our lunches too. The best part is they go in the dishwasher. BOO YAH! 

And no I'm not working with them, I just love the product. Have a google search and see if there is a voucher code before you buy.

UPDATE: I've been using the same yumboxes for 4 years now, so they really last and they go through the dishwasher. Most of my other lunchboxes haven't stood the test of time unfortunately. Sometimes it is true that you get what you pay for. Don't spend more than you can afford though!

Vegan lunch box for kids. Ideas, tips and one week's lunch box plan.

10 Vegan Lunchbox Ideas for Kids

  1. Create each lunchbox around a main, a snack, fruit and veg. The snack can be healthy too. For the snack think breadsticks, flapjacks, banana bread or dried fruit.
  2. Use different cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into interesting shapes.
  3. Vary your sandwiches, don't just use bread, try changing things up with wraps, bagels, pitta bread and rolls.
  4. Include fruit and vegetables, cut them into sticks or bite-sized pieces.
  5. Crunchy veg is more fun with a dip. Add a little tub of nut butter or hummus to their lunchbox. I have a quick recipe for hummus that uses peanut butter instead of tahini paste. It has a softer taste.
  6. Be sneaky and add extra vegetables by finely grating carrots, courgette or beetroot and mix it into spreads, dips and sauces. Yes, sometimes it does need to be done!
  7. Let them suggest some of the things that will go into their lunchboxes. Give them a few options to choose from.
  8. Cook extra pasta, vegan sausages or pizza when you make the evening meal to add to their lunchbox and save yourself some time in the morning..
  9. Don't add more than one treat, they will eat those first and leave everything else (believe me they'll be in a rush to run outside to play). I have learned this the hard way. And don't give them too much, remember they have little tummies. Giving them too much is off-putting for them and ultimately disappointing for us as they WILL leave lots.
  10. Add some kitchen paper or a paper napkin so they can wipe their hands or mop up spills.

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Struggling to get your kids to eat their school dinners, stuck for ideas for packed lunch? Check out 10 helpful lunchbox tips for vegan kids. #vegankids #veganlunchbox #veganlunch #lunchbox #veganlunchideas #backtoschool #schoollunch #schooldinner #vegan #kidslunch

Weekly Lunchbox Menu


MONDAY MEAL PLAN - vegan kids lunch box

  1. Pasta mixed with dairy free pesto, cucumber, sweetcorn and cherry tomatoes
  2. Cucumber sticks
  3. Carrot sticks
  4. Strawberries
  5. Pretzels


TUESDAY MEAL PLAN - vegan kids lunch box

  1. Hummus and grated carrot sandwiches
  2. Cucumber sticks
  3. Cherry tomatoes
  4. Mini breadsticks
  5. Blueberries


WEDNESDAY MEAL PLAN - vegan kids lunch box

  1. Cooked vegan sausages, cut into chunks ( we like Linda McCartney Sausages, which are vegan)
  2. Olives
  3. Cherry tomatoes
  4. Bread spread with dairy free spread
  5. Pretzels
  6. Blueberries
  7. Nectarine


THURSDAY MEAL PLAN - vegan kids lunch box

  1. Falafel
  2. Hummus
  3. Carrot sticks
  4. Cherry tomatoes
  5. Breadsticks
  6. Strawberries
  7. Homemade Flapjacks


FRIDAY MEAL PLAN - vegan kids lunch box

  1. Pinwheel jam sandwiches (mini wraps spread with dairy free spread & jam, rolled and cut)
  2. Cucumber sticks
  3. Carrot sticks
  4. Oatcakes
  5. Strawberries
  6. Dairy free yogurt with sprinkles

....and now for the parents


falafel and apple sandwiches

 Falafel and apple sandwich

My favourite sandwich right now is this delicious vegan sandwich. 

Sweet crunchy apple with lightly spiced falafel, creamy hummus and fresh salad on soft brown bread, but it's the dressing I used that really makes it zing. Do try it!


Beet Salad Lunch Wrap

Beet Salad Lunch Wrap

One of my favourite wraps just now is this beet lunch wrap which is full of crunchy salad and a couple of extra ingredients to really pack a flavour punch. 

Also try my carrot and spinach crunch wrap which is amazing!

My favourite gadget to make lunchtimes smoothier is my power blender. I've been using this Optimum 9400 for years now. It's a powerful beast and the one jug is great for dry and wet blending.

I use it at lunchtimes or the night before for lunchtime prep to make quick:

Special offer: 

For £20 off and free delivery add the code AMB20 + 1405 to the comment box when you buy a blender or juicer from the Froothie UK site.


If you're looking for more lunchtime inspiration check out my food guide The Ultimate Sandwich Guide (50 veggie and vegan sandwich ideas) or follow my Pinterest board Sandwiches - Make Lunch Special.


Two week back to school lunch plan

Also check out my two week back-to-school lunch plan.

Print out a grid, choose from the options and stick it on to your fridge for tasty school lunchboxes and packed lunch for adults too.

Let the kids help choose.


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Disclosure: I work with Froothie. They are the only blenders and I love them so I am happy to promote them. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own. 
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