My Favourite Vegan Cookbooks

I really love cookbooks and have a pretty big collection of them that’s growing all the time.  I love food blogs too, but there’s something nice about having an actual book to look through.  So I wanted to share with you my 5 favourite vegan cookbooks (in no particular order).  3 of them happened to be baking (or unbaking) books but who doesn’t love cake!  I just couldn’t choose between them.

 

 

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Keep it Vegan by Áine Carlin 

This is one of those cookbooks where every recipe looks amazing and you want to make them all.  And of the ones that I have made, they’ve been really good!  If you’re going to buy just one vegan cookbook, this is a good choice as it has such a variety of vegan favourites, like curries, mac and cheese, burritos, and burgers.  The recipes are straight-forward and quick to make.  They’re also healthy but there are some sweet treats in it too.

 
My favourite recipe is the Breakfast Brownie with a Strawberry Bottom.

Áine also has a new cookbook out, The New Vegan, which I can’t wait to get some time!

Check out Áine’s blog PeaSoup for more recipes, vintage fashion and lifestyle posts.

 

 

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Rawsome Vegan Baking by Emily von Euw

This is an un-cookbook full of amazing raw vegan and gluten-free cakes, cookies, bars and cupcakes.  They taste great and are full of healthy ingredients like nuts, dates, coconut oil and cacao.  They give you a nutrition boost while satisfying sweet cravings.

My favourite recipe is the Cashew Coffee Vanilla Crème cake with Cinnamon Chocolate Crust.

Em also has two other cookbooks, 100 Juices, Smoothies and Healthy Snacks and The Rawsome Vegan Cookbook, which are also on my wish list!

Have a look at Em’s blog, This Rawsome Vegan Life, for recipes, feminism, and body positivity.

 

 

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The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town by Ms. Cupcake

This is a great book for people just starting out with vegan baking.  The cakes taste amazing, and are simple and straight forward to make, using everyday ingredients.  I’ve made so many of the recipes and they all worked out brilliantly.  There are also tips to make most of the recipes gluten-free, which works great.

My favourite recipe is the Jaffa Cakes or the Turkish Delight Cake, can’t choose!

They’re also bringing out a new cookbook soon!  I’m very excited.

You can find out more about Ms. Cupcake here.

 

 

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Vegan Family Meals, Real Food for Everyone by Ann Gentry

This is such a useful book for vegan families, with veganised versions of lots of family favourites.  There are loads of kid-friendly meals, but anyone would love them.  It’s given me loads of new ideas for meals for my family that we’ll make again and again.

My favourite recipe is the Lasagne Rolls with Tofu Ricotta and Everyday Tomato Sauce.

Ann also has another book, The Real Food Daily Cookbook.

Ann has more recipes on her blog Real Food Daily.

 

 

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Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking by Cara Reed 

This book is full of delicious baking recipes, that are not only vegan but gluten-free too.  There is such a variety of recipes, including cakes, cookies, bars, brownies, donuts, muffins, scones, and loads of things I’ve never tried before like churros and pop tarts, that I can’t wait to make.  I want to make everything in the book, and there is so much!  There are also great tips for making your own gluten-free flour blends, icings, sauces, food colourings and even sprinkles.

My favourite recipe (so far) is the Maple Nut Scones.

You can find more recipes from Cara on her blog, Fork and Beans.

 

 

If anyone has any more recommendations for vegan cookbooks, I’d love to hear them.  Please let me know in the comments.

 

 

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Astonish Cleaning Products Review

Astonish cleaning products are well-known to vegans in the UK and Ireland as they’re vegan and cruelty-free and can be bought really cheaply in discount shops and many other stores.  I was in Euro Giant recently and saw they had Astonish products for €1.50 each so stocked up on some.  I had lots of spring cleaning to do so was pretty excited to get lots of cleaning products.  I know, I have a very exciting life!

They had a large range of different products to choose from for all different purposes.  I got the multi-surface cleaner, bathroom cleaner, 4-in-1 disinfectant and carpet shampoo.

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I don’t like to use disinfectants too much but sometimes do as we have a dog and two cats, and the veterinary nurse in me comes out.  I was especially happy that they had carpet shampoo for machines as I have a carpet cleaning machine and had been looking for a cruelty-free shampoo to use in it.  A carpet cleaner is a good investment when you have dogs bringing mud in to the house and kids getting food everywhere!

 

I usually try to buy more natural and eco-friendly cleaning products than these, when I can, bonus points if they are a local company.  But they can also be quite expensive and sometimes I don’t have the money for them.  That’s what’s great about Astonish products.  They are so affordable (€1.50 each).  It shows that you don’t need to spend a lot to get products that aren’t tested on animals and that being vegan doesn’t have to be very expensive.

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They also have the Leaping Bunny symbol and the Vegan Society logo so you know for sure that they are vegan and not tested on animals.  You can tell from a glance without having to look it up.  I know a lot of non-vegans who tell me that they’d like to buy products that aren’t tested on animals but don’t know what to buy, so I think it’s very important to tell people that these products are available.

I tried out all the products I bought, and they all work really well.  They work a lot better than some other brands of a similar price and I really couldn’t fault them in that way.  The carpet shampoo in particular worked really well and my carpets look much brighter and cleaner.  They’re definitely worth a try for anyone trying to avoid products that are tested on animals.

You can find out more about Astonish cleaning products and see their full range of products here.

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Dee’s Wholefoods Vegan Sausages Review

Dee’s Wholefoods started out in Dee’s kitchen in West Cork, Ireland, making vegan burgers for local farmers markets.  They now have a range of vegan products including sausages, burgers, quinoa pots and veg pots that are available in shops throughout Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands.

All the products are suitable for vegans, made with natural and organic ingredients, and free from gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, artificial additives and GMO’s.

I’ve tried a lot of Dee’s products and loved them all, but in particular I really like the sausages and get them all the time.

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Dee’s vegan sausages with tofu scramble, baked mushroom, cherry tomatoes, sautéed spinach, avocado and toast

 

There are three different flavours of sausages, Traditional, Roast Garlic and Mushroom and Leek and Onion.  All of them are delicious but my favourite is probably the traditional ones, that taste very like non-vegan sausages, except much better.

They’re made with pea protein and beans so are high in protein.  They contain Irish dulse seaweed which is very nutritious, contains iodine, iron and vitamin B6, and I think gives it the amazing flavour, along with the herbs and spices.  Iodine can be hard to get in a vegan diet and seaweed is a great source of it.  They’re more nutritious and less-processed than a lot brands of vegan meat substitutes.

They also have a great texture, a lot better than some brands of vegan sausages that I’ve tried.

I also love that they are gluten-free, since I have coeliac disease, and it can be really hard to find products that are gluten-free as well as being vegan.

My kids really love them and I’m happy for them to eat lots of them since they contain so much goodness and are quite low in salt so suitable for babies and toddlers.  We had them for breakfast today and my three year old ate loads of them, and my 11 month old loves them too.  My kids also love to have tortilla wraps with homemade houmous and Dee’s sausages, sliced into bite-sized pieces.  It’s so nice to be able to buy a vegan convenience food that I know is healthy and I can give to my kids.

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Dee’s vegan sausages in tortilla wraps with houmous

 

I love them as part of a full breakfast, for dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy, in a sandwich, or even chopped up and put in a pasta sauce or a stew.  They add a lovely flavour to meals, make them more interesting and are very filling.

They’d be great for people who are newly vegan and missing sausages, since they really do satisfy that craving.  They’re a lot healthier than processed meat sausages, and better for the environment, as well as being cruelty-free.

I’ve heard some people saying that they had trouble with them sticking while cooking.  While they are a bit delicate, it’s really easy to cook them once you get used to it.  I cook them in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius, in a non-stick baking tray, for 20 minutes, with either a tiny drizzle of olive oil or no oil, and they always turn out perfectly.  Make sure they have a little space between the sausages so they don’t stick together.  I’ve also cooked them on a camp fire and on a barbecue and that works great.

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The only way I could fault them is that they’re a bit expensive at about €3.99 for six sausages (price from Tesco Ireland, May 2016), though I’m willing to pay that much since they are made with such good quality ingredients, and are so nutritious and yummy.  It’s definitely worth getting them as a treat or for a quick and easy meal.  I really recommend them.

Dee’s Wholefoods products are available in Tesco and select Supervalus in Ireland, in Holland and Barrett in the UK and in Jumbo in the Netherlands.  You can find out more about Dee’s Wholefoods here.

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Your Heart ‘VeganEgg’ Review

I was so excited to try the Follow Your Heart ‘VeganEgg’.  I had seen videos online of people making scrambled “egg” with it and it looked great so was waiting patiently for it to come to Ireland.  I’ve been vegan for 12 years and have never tried a product like this that can replace eggs not only in baking, but scrambles and omelettes as well.  There are so many vegan products nowadays, it’s amazing.

I’ve tried the Follow Your Heart ‘Vegenaise’ and ‘Vegan Caesar’ salad dressing before and they’re really delicious, so had high hopes for the ‘VeganEgg’.

I love making vegan alternatives to egg dishes like tofu scramble and vegan frittatas.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had actual eggs but thought it’d be really fun to try the VeganEgg and see how it compares.  It’d also be great for people who are newly vegan but miss the taste of eggs.  I had loads of ideas for it, scramble, omelettes, French toast, frittatas, quiches, so many ideas.  So I had a look through my vegetarian cookbooks at the recipes with eggs that I had always skipped over and decided on a few things to try out.

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I thought the packaging is really cute, mimicking an egg box.  It makes it feel like it’ll taste more like real eggs.  One box is about the equivalent of a dozen eggs so I could make a few different things with it.

When you open it up, it’s actually a powder, that you mix with water to replace beaten eggs.  When you’re mixing up the powder and water it smells surprisingly like eggs!

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I decided to make scrambled egg so I could see what the flavour is like on its own and because it’s one of the few things I could actually cook before going vegan!  It was really easy to make, just blend up the powder with water (the pack says using a blender makes the eggs fluffier), pour into a frying pan, stir it up and cook for 6-8 minutes stirring occasionally.

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The Vegan Egg had a mild eggy taste, not too strong.  This makes it really versatile for baking or using in sweet dishes like French toast without being too strong tasting or too salty.  For scrambled egg it was slightly bland so I added some salt, pepper and drizzled it with basil oil, served it with asparagus and that made a lovely simple dish with nice flavours.  Some people who have tried it have said they wanted a more eggy taste so added extra black salt.  I don’t think I would have wanted too much of an eggy taste since I haven’t had eggs in a long time.

The texture of the scrambled egg is soft and creamy and makes a convincing replica of it.  I ate some of it after it had gone cold and it had firmed up quite a bit and was very egg-like!

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I also tried the egg in some pancakes and a few cupcakes with what I had left.  I was very surprised since I haven’t baked with eggs for so long, that the pancakes and cupcakes were really light and fluffy with a lovely slightly eggy taste.  The pancakes were less stodgy than my usual ones and tasted more like non-vegan pancakes.  I think it’d be really good in waffles, bread or scones.

 

I was also very impressed by this Eco Fact on the packaging that says “100 VeganEggs can be made with the same water used to produce just 1 chicken egg.”  That’s really amazing and shows the difference we can make by choosing vegan products.  The carton is also made with recycled cardboard and water and is biodegradable, compostable and recyclable.  They think of everything!

 

Some tips I would give for using the VeganEgg is to use a blender to mix the powder and water.  My eggs turned out very fluffy this way!  Also use a good non-stick frying pan since it can stick a bit otherwise.  For baking use a non-stick cake tin or silicone cupcake cases.  And it takes longer to cook than regular eggs do so give it some extra time.

 

The VeganEgg would be really handy to have in the cupboard for when you need a quick meal.  It’s a little pricey so this might not be something that I eat every day but I would definitely get it as a treat or if I wanted to veganise a recipe.  And when you consider that it can replace 12 eggs then it doesn’t seem too expensive.  It’s definitely worth trying if you miss eggs, if you’re into baking or want to try a few new dishes.

 

It’s amazing that there are products like this now.  When I first went vegan I could barely find soy milk and I never imagined that ten years later I could have vegan scrambled egg!  There really is an alternative to everything and that’s so good for new vegans or people who want to go vegan.

 

You can find out more about the VeganEgg and where to buy it at http://www.followyourheart.com and http://www.artofzenfoods.com.

Ms. Cupcake – The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town – Cookbook Review

Ms. Cupcake is London’s first entirely vegan bakery, located in Brixton.  They make all kinds of vegan cakes, cookies, savoury food and loads more.  I was lucky enough to visit there on a trip to London with my sister.  The cakes were gorgeous and tasted as good as they looked!

My sister also bought me the cookbook, The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town, two and a half years ago which I’ve used so much since then.  The book is so pretty, bright, colourful, full of amazing photos and is guaranteed to make your mouth water.  It has loads of recipes including cupcakes, muffins, cakes, cookies, bars and “naughtiest of them all” recipes which are mostly deep fried and dipped in sugar or chocolate!

Ms. Cupcake’s motto is “everybody deserves great cake” and the cakes really are great!  They might be naughty, but they are also nice, to animals and the planet, and all the vegans who really deserve some nice cake.  It’s also a great book for anyone with allergies or intolerances to dairy, eggs or even gluten (there are tips for making most of the recipes gluten free and they work out great).

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Before I had this book, my attempts at vegan baking were pretty hit and miss.  About half the time they turned out ok, but half the time they just didn’t work at all.  I tried recipes I found online, veganising old favourite recipes of mine, but had decided vegan baking was just too much hassle or I wasn’t any good at baking!  When I got the book, it was a few months before Rian’s first birthday so I thought I’d practice before then and hopefully be able to make him something half decent for his birthday.  The first cake I tried was the Victoria sponge cake.  I was so nervous baking it, expecting it to not rise or to burn or something else to go wrong.  It worked out so well that I made another one to give to my family and we ate cake for about three days straight!  Finally vegan baking that worked for me.

Not only did it work, the cakes were delicious and the recipes really simple, using ingredients that are easily available.  Vegan Daddy was always surprised that I’d say I was making a cake and come back into the room five or ten minutes later saying it was in the oven.  You don’t even need any special equipment like a mixer for them.

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The amazing Turkish Delight cake

 

For Rian’s birthday I made the Turkish Delight cake, a chocolate and rose flavoured sponge with rose icing between the layers and chocolate and rose icing on the outside, and blobs of rose icing and Turkish Delight to decorate.  I’ve always loved Turkish Delights so couldn’t wait to try them in cake form!  It was Rian’s first taste of cake and might have started his love of “choc cake” which he asks me to make on a weekly basis!  I also made the coconut Bounty cupcakes, lemon cheesecake cupcakes and golden syrup cupcakes which were lovely too.  Some people at the party were a little scared to try vegan cake, but once they tasted it they said it was delicious and they couldn’t even tell it was vegan.  Who knew that you don’t even need eggs and dairy to make cake!

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Coconut Bounty cupcakes, lemon cheesecake cupcakes and some rose cupcakes based on Ms Cupcake recipes

Since then I have tried the vanilla cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, chocolate peanut butter cupcakes, carrot maple nut muffins, strawberry and banana muffins (and plain banana muffins one time when I forgot to add the strawberries!), Neapolitan triple layer cake, blueberry lemon loaf cake (and have made this as a raspberry lemon cake too), banana-chocolate walnut loaf cake, caramel apple nut bars (the caramel is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted!), raspberry almond crumble squares, chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles and Jaffa cakes.  I did say I used the book a lot!

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Chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven

 

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Snickerdoodle cookie

 

Everything worked out great.  There was literally nothing that went wrong or didn’t taste delicious!  But if I had to choose some favourites, I’d say the Turkish Delight cake, the carrot maple nut muffins (soooo good) and the Jaffa cakes, just since they were the main thing I missed since being vegan.  Seriously the Jaffa cakes are good.  I had spent the last few years reading the ingredients on every different brand of Jaffa cakes I could find to see if any of them were accidentally vegan, so it was great to satisfy that craving.

 

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Neapolitan triple layer cake that I made for Vegan Daddy’s birthday

 

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Banana-chocolate walnut cake, with added chocolate on top!

 

Now these are not things that I’d eat everyday, but I love to have a treat sometimes.  I love that Rian (and Oran when he’s older) can have amazing cakes just like any other kid.  Who can say vegan kids are deprived when they get cakes like these?  Oran is 10 and a half months and I’m already planning the cakes I’m going to make for his birthday!  I’m so glad that I’m able to make nice cakes for my family and show our family and friends that vegan cakes can be amazing.  I would definitely recommend this book to everyone.

You can find out more about Ms. Cupcake and where to buy the book here.

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An Oreo cake that I made for Rian’s 3rd birthday based on Ms Cupcake recipes

Children’s Book Review: ‘V is for Vegan – The ABCs of Being Kind’ by Ruby Roth

‘V is for Vegan’ is written and illustrated by Ruby Roth, the author of ‘That’s Why we Don’t Eat Animals’ and ‘Vegan is Love’.  I haven’t read her other books yet, as I’ve heard that they are for older kids, but we love V is for Vegan.

It’s a cute and simple book that goes through the alphabet, with every letter standing for something different relating to being vegan.

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It’s a lovely and age appropriate way to introduce your kids to the reasons why people are vegan.

I think it would be suitable for babies up until about 5 years of age, or even older.  My kids are 3 years old and 9 months old and they both enjoy it.  There is nothing too upsetting for young children in it.  My 3 year old, Rian, is just starting to understand that we don’t eat animals.  He looks at the pictures and says, “don’t eat birdie, don’t eat chicken”, so I think it’s helping him to understand veganism, in a gentle way.

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It talks about animals being our friends, keeping the environment clean, and nutrition, while also teaching kids the alphabet.  It shows what things vegans avoid, including food, clothing, products tested on animals, zoos, and buying animals, and helps kids understand why their family doesn’t do these things.

The illustrations are cute and fun and the book is easy to read and rhymes nicely, so my kids really enjoy it.  It’s often the book they pick out for me to read to them or to look at themselves.

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I think it’s great that vegan children’s books are available to help them understand why they’re being raised vegan.  I’d definitely recommend this book for vegan families, and can’t wait to get Ruby Roth’s other books when my kids are older.

 

 

My 3 Favourite Vegan Cleaning Products

Living vegan is not just about what you eat.  Household cleaning products may contain non-vegan ingredients or be tested on animals.  I think a lot of people would say they are against animal testing for cleaning products, but either assume that products aren’t tested on animals or don’t know how to find products that aren’t.  The truth is that many cleaning products are tested on animals, and the tests are cruel and cause suffering.  And of course it is wrong for an animal to have to live in a cage in a lab for their entire life and then probably be put to sleep after the tests.

Thankfully vegan and cruelty-free products are becoming more widely available in health shops and even some supermarkets.  They often say so on the label, look out for the leaping bunny logo or if you’re not sure, why not send the company a quick email.  With a little effort, you can learn what products are available.

Another benefit is that many of the cruelty-free cleaning products may be eco-friendly and made of natural ingredients that will be healthier to use in your home, especially if you have kids.

I try to use eco-friendly cleaning products where possible so these three products are all eco-friendly.  I also don’t like to spend too much on them, so they are also all good value for money.

 

Lilly’s Eco Clean

Lilly’s is an Irish company, which is great for me as I love to support a local business.  I love all their products that I have tried but in particular like the washing-up liquid.  It is vegan and not tested on animals, as well as being made with natural ingredients.  You can also buy large refill packs and refill the plastic bottles, which is better for the environment.  It smells lovely and I know I’m not putting any dodgy chemicals on my children’s dishes.  It is also quite concentrated so works well and lasts quite a long time.  It’s relatively inexpensive too.  They also make laundry detergent, floor cleaner, and many other products.

 

Eco-Egg

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The Eco-Egg is a little egg filled with mineral pellets that you place in your washing machine instead of using laundry detergent.  It works just as well as laundry detergent to remove dirt from clothes.  It lasts for literally hundreds of washes and so saves a lot of money.  I use the unscented one which leaves clothes smelling of nothing, just clean clothes, which can actually be much nicer than smelling of artificial scents that are in many detergents.  It even works great for cloth nappies!  It’s great for the environment as there is so little waste and the egg can be refilled with mineral pellets repeatedly and last for years.  It’s also great for children and people with sensitive skin.  An added bonus is that I’m not always running out of detergent and having to buy more, since I go through a lot of laundry with two kids!

 

Bio-D

Bio-D are a great range of vegan and cruelty-free cleaning products.  They are one of my favourites because they are very affordable.  A lot of people think that cruelty-free products are expensive, but Bio-D is really great value.  They are usually available in health shops so very easy to find.  They work well and are good for sensitive skin.

 

I also like to use some home made cleaning products using natural ingredients that most people have at home, which is usually cheap, easy and good for the environment.  I’ll do a blog post about that in the near future as there are so many great ideas to try.