Thursday 22 March 2018

Veganuary: Four tempting vegan recipes to kick off January

Simple Breakfast Polenta with rose-roasted plums
Simple Breakfast Polenta with rose-roasted plums
Beetroot and Banana Smoothie
Coconut, Mango and Spinach smoothie bowl
Chia Chia Parfait Pudding
Áine Carlin's The New Vegan.

Áine Carlin

In an exciting follow-up to her award-winning book, Keep it Vegan, Áine Carlin turns her attention to those thinking about becoming vegan for the first time, offering helpful and tempting recipes to get you started

Simple Breakfast Polenta with Rose-roasted plums

I know we don't often associate polenta with sweetness or indeed 'breakfast' but this fine, naturally gluten-free grain is a wonderful option if you are tired of porridge. I sweeten mine with agave, but you could use any other vegan sweetener. If you've got time, these rose-roasted plums are a wonderful accompaniment to your polenta. Add a few crushed seeds, a final drizzle of plum syrup and maybe even an additional splash of plant milk and you're officially good to go - rise and shine, your perfect breakfast bowl awaits.

Serves 2-3

You will need

1 cup (about 110g) soaked nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts or pistachios) or oats

2 cups (about 500ml) water (preferably filtered)

400ml filtered water

50g polenta

2 tbsp agave nectar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Crushed pistachios, to serve

For the plums: 3 plums, halved and stoned

½ tsp allspice

Pinch of sumac (optional)

1 tbsp rose water

4 tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup

1 heaped tbsp palm or brown sugar

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

2 star anise

1 small stick of cinnamon


For the plant milk

1. Place the soaked nuts or the oats in a blender along with the water and blend until it turns milky. If making oat milk, try not to over-blend the oats as it will impair the texture.

2. Strain the blended mixture through a sieve or pour into a nut milk bag set over a bowl and squeeze out all the liquid until only pulp remains in the bag. Set the pulp aside to make into bliss balls later. The milk is best fresh, but will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.

For the plums

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Place the plums flesh side up in a roasting dish and sprinkle over the allspice, sumac, rose water, agave or maple syrup, sugar and pomegranate molasses. Place the star anise and cinnamon in the dish along with a splash of water to prevent sticking. Roast for 30 minutes or until the plums are soft, juicy and gooey. Cool and refrigerate until needed.

2. Now, make the polenta. Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan and whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat immediately to a very gentle simmer and keep whisking until it thickens.

3. Once thickened, add the Plant Milk, agave and vanilla and whisk until it fully amalgamates. Simmer for several minutes until it turns thick and creamy, whisking occasionally to prevent any lumps from forming. Divide between two bowls and top each with roasted plums and crushed pistachios.

Coconut, Mango and Spinach  Smoothie Bowl

Coconut, Mango and Spinach smoothie bowl

Smoothie bowls are all the rage right now, and with good reason. The texture is ever so slightly thicker than your usual smoothie and the toppings add an extra dimension. If you're a total 'green smoothie' novice, this is possibly the best recipe to ease you in because, first and foremost, you can't taste the spinach at all. Not one tiny bit.

Here, you're getting all the benefits without the aftertaste and, trust me, after one of these you'll be zipping around like nobody's business and feeling fit as a fiddle. Packed full of good fats, such as coconut oil and yoghurt, which aid weight loss in the long run (they are known to decrease hunger and increase energy levels), you'll soon be hooked on their clean-eating credentials that'll have you glowing from the inside out. So swap that straw for a spoon and dig in.

Serves 1-2.

You will need

200g frozen mango chunks

½ ripe avocado, peeled

2 heaped tbsp coconut yoghurt

1 heaped tsp coconut oil

2 stoned Medjool dates

50g spinach leaves

Juice of ½ lime

1 tsp spirulina/chorella or hemp powder

100ml plant milk

Blueberries, fresh mango slices, flaked almonds and desiccated coconut, to serve


Place the frozen mango pieces in a food processor or blender along with the avocado, coconut yogurt, coconut oil, dates, spinach leaves, lime juice, spirulina and plant milk of your choice.

2. Blitz until completely smooth and serve in a shallow bowl with the fresh mango, a handful of fresh blueberries and a sprinkling of flaked almonds and desiccated coconut.

Beetroot and banana smoothie

Beetroot and Banana Smoothie

I am very particular when it comes to smoothies, especially when they contain beetroot. The 'wow' colour (and blood pressure benefits) are undeniable, but beetroot can often render the flavour a little bit 'eww', so getting the balance right is crucial.

Thankfully (and ever so smugly), I'm pleased to report that this smoothie possesses that exact balance. Thick enough to be a milkshake, this vibrant drink will change everything you ever thought (negative or otherwise) about beetroot in drinks - after all, those earthy overtones can be an acquired taste. If you remain unconvinced, reserve judgement until you sample the peculiarly purple delights for yourself. I'm certain you won't be disappointed. Serves 1-2.

You will need

1 banana

50g pre-cooked vacuum-packed beetroot

2 stoned Medjool dates

180ml Plant Milk, cashew is best

1 heaped tsp maca powder

Handful of ice cubes (optional)


Put everything in a blender and blitz until completely smooth, scraping down the sides periodically. Serve in a tall glass with a straw.

NOTE: Maca is a root grown in Peru, and is usually found in powdered form. It has a slightly malty quality (making it a perfect addition to vegan shakes) and boasts a plethora of nutritional benefits, including calcium, zinc, iron, and those elusive B vitamins, too.

Chia Chia Parfait Pudding

Chia Chia Parfait Pudding

Chia seeds are having a moment and it's not difficult to see why. With a bounty of goodness that ranges from omega 3 through to protein and fibre, there are very few foods that can match their mighty status on the nutritional food front. Despite their miniature form, there's no better way to start the day, especially when layered with a simple fruit soft-serve that can be made in seconds - never mind breakfast, this could easily be dessert! Serves 2

You will need

2 bananas

240ml plant milk

4 finely ground cardamom seeds

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Good pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

1 heaped tbsp agave nectar

40g chia seeds

75g frozen mixed berries, plus extra to serve

1 tbsp agave nectar (optional)


1. Peel and chop the bananas and place them in the freezer for 24 hours.

2. Place the plant milk in a blender, along with the cardamom seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg and agave and blitz until combined.

3. Stir through the chia seeds until combined, transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

4. The next day, place the frozen bananas, frozen berries and agave, if using, in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

5. Layer the chia pudding and soft serve in two glasses, topping each with frozen berries.

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