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.


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!


10 Vegan Lunchbox Ideas for Kids

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

Cooper is back at school so I'm back in full-on planning lunch mode that’s why I've partnered with Flora to create a five day dairy-free lunchbox plan. Scroll down for tips and a weekly lunchbox menu.

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 will 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 pasta, baked potato 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.

Packed Lunches

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.

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.

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

10 Helpful Lunchbox Ideas

  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.
  6. Add extra veg by finely grating carrots, courgette or beetroot and mix it into spreads, dips and sauces.
  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.


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.


Want to receive my posts by email? Scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up or why not sign up for my newsletter and get my monthly newsletter full of recipes and an update on what I've been doing? My latest newsletter was full of summer picnic recipes. See the link on my sidebar (look right).

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Flora & I mentioned Froothie. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

Meat Free Mondays - 7 Recipes for the Week Ahead (12 September 2016)

Happy Monday everyone. How are you? Have you had a good week?

I have nothing exciting to tell you this week. It's been a week of school, work, housework and dog walking. We've had some good weather, but it's been changeable.

Cooper was poorly at the end of the week. He caught a cold at school and by Wednesday night he was really poorly with a bit of a fever. Needless to say he threw it off pretty fast and he was back to school today and fine.

Now we're all caught up it's time to share some veggie inspiration with you. 
It's time for Meat Free Monday.


Vegan Mushroom Tarts with Pickled Slaw

Crispy shortcrust pastry tarts filled with an earthy mushroom, salty samphire mixture and topped with pickled slaw. A vegan recipe suitable for those on a dairy free or egg free diet.

These little tarts are a breeze to make. Crispy shortcrust pastry filled with an earthy mushroom, salty samphire and topped with pickled slaw. They are rather wonderful!

Normally the filling in tarts like these would be bound by egg, but I wanted to make these tarts vegan so I mixed my filling with tofu and it worked really well. It doesn't dilute the flavour either.

I was making them for lunch tomorrow, but Graham came home from work, had a look at my photos, said "They look good, any left?" and proceeded to eat one. Since he enjoyed it so much I think I will keep the last two for his lunch tomorrow and make some more for Cooper and myself. It would be a shame not to make more when I have leftover pressed tofu, pastry, mushrooms and samphire.


Vegan Prune & Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Fudgey chocolate brownies that are egg and dairy free. Made with bitter dark chocolate, prunes for sweetness and flaxseeds for a healthy boost.

I seem to be sharing all my old, forgotten about recipes recently. Well maybe not a lot, but this one and my 8 minute banoffee pie are both old recipes. You can tell by the photos. Although I do think this is a good shot in that you can see how rich and fudgey it is. I've said this before and I'll say it again, brownies should always be slightly under-cooked and fudgey.

I made these brownies so Graham could have a sweet treat that was dairy free. Cooper loves making brownies, so he did most of the work helped me make these.

These are dairy free but if you don't follow a dairy free diet you can use eggs and butter with just as good results.

I don't have a photo of him making these brownies, but I couldn't resist sharing a photo of him making brownies when he was two years old. He pretty much did it all himself too, apart from reading the scales and popping them in the oven. That boy loves to bake. In fact he baked Malteser Fudge Brownies for this first day of school treat.

I added prunes for a sticky sweetness and flaxseeds for a healthy boost, as well as using them to make flax eggs.

I actually use flaxseeds a lot. I add them whole to porridge, bread, chilli, burgers and stews and I grind them to add to baked goods and to make flax eggs for my vegan bakes.

They are so good for you and so easy to add to dishes. Just throw a handful in, You rarely even notice them as they are so small. Here are a few flaxseed facts.

10 Flaxseed Facts

  1. They were cultivated in Babylon (Iraq) in 3000 BC
  2. They are also known in the UK as linseeds.
  3. They are high in Omega 3 fatty acids.
  4. 2 tbsp contain 20-25% of your recommended daily amount of fibre.
  5. A good source of Vitamin B1, B2 & B6.
  6. Flaxseeds are said to lower cholesterol levels.
  7. Throw them whole into bakes, porridge, homemade burgers, chilli and stews
  8. Grind them in a blender or pestle and mortar to make a powder to add to bakes and sauces.
  9. Once ground you should use as soon as possible as they spoil on contact with air.
  10. Mix 1 tbsp freshly ground flaxseeds with 3 tbsp of water and pop in the fridge to thicken for half an hour. This quantity will replace one egg and is called a flax egg.  Multiply the quantity for more eggs. 

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Fudgey chocolate brownies that are egg and dairy free. Made with bitter dark chocolate, prunes for sweetness and flaxseeds for a healthy boost.
Vegan Prune & Chocolate Fudge Brownies
Fudgey chocolate brownies that are egg and dairy free. Made with bitter dark chocolate, prunes for sweetness and flaxseeds for a healthy boost.
  • 175g dairy free margarine
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 3 flax eggs
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp flaxseeds, more to grind for flax eggs
  • 7 prunes, finely chopped
  • a pinch of salt
1. Grind flax seeds and mix 3 tbsp of the powder with 9 tbsp of water and pop in the fridge to thicken.2. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/350f/gas mark 4.3. Line a square brownie pan. I like to use foil backed greaseproof paper.4. Melt dairy free margarine with the chocolate and sugar in a bain-marie (A bowl over gently simmering water, Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water or the chocolate will seize).5. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a large bowl.6. Beat the flax eggs into the chocolate mixture.7. Gradually fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the chocolate chips and whole flaxseeds.8. Pour the mixture into the brownie tin, smooth the surface and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, a little more if you prefer them more cakey. 9. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Makes 16 Brownies

Oreo Chocolate Tiffin

If you like these prune and chocolate fudge brownies, why not try my Oreo Chocolate Tiffin which is also vegan and extremely decadent.

Meat Free Mondays - 7 Recipes for the Week Ahead (5 September 2016)

It's definitely feeling cooler today. Well it's cooler, then it's warm again. The weather can't seem to make up it's mind.

No matter the weather, it's Monday and the start of another week, so I'm here to share another seven recipes with you to inspire you for the week ahead. Of course there are a few wee cheeky bonus recipes too.

Have a great week everyone!


8 Minute Banoffee Pie Recipe

An easy recipe for 8 Minute Banoffee Pie, the most indulgent of desserts Throw it together while dinner is cooking and pop it in the fridge to chill until you're ready to serve it.

This is an old recipe. It's been sitting about for some time, but it's definitely time to share it.

It's a traditional banoffee pie. Calorific and heavenly and the best thing about it, is it's a quick, throw together dessert. I don't know when I'd make this again as Cooper has gone off bananas and Graham couldn't eat it as it's made with caramel and cream, then there is my waistline to think of as I know I would keep going back for another slice if it was in the fridge.


No Croutons Required - Veggie Soups & Salads


I cannot believe it's September. Where did the summer go, no where did the year go?

It's my turn to host No Croutons Required this month. To join in just link to this post and my fellow host and good friend Lisa over at Lisa's Kitchen, then add your veggie soup or salad to the linky below. 

I look forward to some fabulous recipes.

To check more challenges, visit The Food Blog Diary

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