Monday, March 25, 2013

Cut and Come Again Cake

Serves: 12
150g Sultanas
75g dried currants
175g brown sugar
115g soya margarine
250ml strong tea
250g plain flour
1 1/2tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/8tsp salt

Prep: 30 mins |Cook: 45 mins
In a medium saucepan, combine the sultanas, currants, brown sugar, butter and tea. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until boiling. Boil for 20 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside to cool. 
Preheat oven to 350°f/180°c/Gas 4. Grease a loaf tin or 20cm round cake tin. 
In a medium bowl, stir together the plain flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the boiled ingredients and mix until well blended. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. 
Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the oven temperature to 320°f/160°c/Gas 3 and bake 15 more minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. 
Cool, store in an air tight container to retain freshness.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Home-made Soya Yoghurt

I’ve always cringed at the price supermarkets charge for soya yoghurt, then one day while  walking around the local health food shop I saw a yoghurt making kit, that was sold with some really expensive flavour starters, of course none of these were vegan.

I went home and looked up yoghurt making and thought I’m sure I could use one of these kits without the flavour starter and make my own soya version! Well I’m going to share my findings with you and let me tell you, it couldn’t have been easier!

You will need:

Yoghurt Maker Kit (EasiYo was the one I got)
Yoghurt Maker Jars (again I got some extra EasiYo ones)
1tbsp Plain Soya Yoghurt (Alpro will do, to be used as a starter)
1ltr Soya Milk (go for unsweetened economy ones for best results)
1tbsp Caster Sugar
Microwave (or stove top and a pan)

How you make it:

  1. Boil the kettle full of water
  2. Fill the yoghurt making jar half full of soya milk and add 1tbsp of caster sugar. Heat this mixture for approximately 1min on high power or until the milk is blood temp (you should be able to put your finger in it without burning yourself) The sugar should be fully dissolved when stirred.
  3. Top the yoghurt making jar to the top with soya milk and add 1tbsp of plain yoghurt to your mix and stir till it’s incorporated fully. Place the lid on the jar firmly.
  4. Now that your kettle has boiled fill the Yoghurt Maker up to the top of the red shelf (if using an Easiyo maker, check other manufacturers instructions if using another brand)
  5. Place your yoghurt jar into the Yoghurt Maker and secure its lid. Now place it in a safe place where it will not be moved or disturbed.
  6. For soft set yoghurt leave for a minimum of 5 hours, if you like a firmer set you can leave it up to 8 hours or as I did over night. 
  7. Once your yoghurt is set take out of the Yoghurt Maker and place in the fridge to chill. 
  8. If you like a Greek style set yoghurt place some cheesecloth in a colander and rest this over a bowl before placing your 8 hour set yoghurt into it. Allow to drain over night covered and in the fridge.
  9. Before adding any additional flavouring to your yoghurt set a least a table spoon aside as a starter for your next batch, this means you will never need to buy shop bought soya yoghurt again.

This really is one of the easiest things I have ever made and for years I was put off making it because I thought it was going to be expensive and hard to do. My initial cost was a little over £20 but apart from sugar, soya milk I will not have any more outlay and fresh soya yoghurt when I want it.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Vegan Baked Savoury Cheesecake - Tomato and Basil


For the base
150g oatcakes, crushed
125g soya margarine, melted

For the topping
(3) 255g vegan cream cheese
125ml soya cream
5 ‘eggs’ replacer, follow packet instructions
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
10 large sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
15-20 basil leaves, torn


Preheat the oven to 300°f/150°c/Gas 2.

For the base, combine the crushed oatcakes and melted soya margarine together in a bowl. Press the mixture into the base of a 9inch springform round baking tin, and chill for 20 minutes.

Beat the cream cheese and soya cream together in a large bowl, then add the egg replacer until well combined. Fold in the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, torn basil leaves and seasoning.

Spoon the mixture on top of the chilled oatcake base and smooth out the top of the mixture with a spatular.

Bake in the middle of the oven for one hour, turning half way through the baking time to get an even bake.

Unlike dairy cheesecakes this bake will be quite solid and may crack slightly during the baking process, but unlike dairy cheesecakes it will not fissure.

Once bakes allow to cool completely in the tin before covering and placing in the fridge still in the tin to set over night. To serve run a sharp knife around the outside of the cheesecake before releasing the springform tin sides then cut into portions. 

Best served at room temperature with a side salad or your favorite chutney. This recipe will easily server 12 portions and if stored in a air tight container in the fridge for 3 - 4 days.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Vegan White Chocolate, Coffee and Macadamia Nut Blondies


(2) 225g cans of cannellini beans - drain and rinse

100ml rapeseed oil
225g caster sugar
50ml agave syrup
100ml soya milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp golden flax seeds, milled
1 tbsp instant expresso coffee
125g plain flour
200g vegan white chocolate, broken into chunks
100g macadamia nuts


Preheat oven to 325°f/170°c/gas mark 3, and line a 9" square brownie pan with grease proof paper.

In a food processor blend the cannellini beans, rapeseed oil, caster sugar and agave syrup until its a smooth mixture. 

Now to the bean mixture add the soya milk, vanilla extract, salt, milled flax seeds and the instant expresso powder and blend till all the ingredients are combined.

Transfer the wet bean mixture into a large mixing bowl, now using a spatula add the flour to the wet mixture and combine until you can no longer see any trace of it. 

To this mixture fold in the white chocolate and macadamia nuts. Pour the blondie mixture into the lined baking pan and smooth out with a spatula.

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven at 325°f/170°c/gas mark 3, for about 30/35 mins. Once removed from the oven allow the blondie to cool completely before cutting into portions.

Blondies can be store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to one week. You warm them microwave or oven before serving.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Sarah-Jane Cookies (Peanut Butter & Coconut Cookies with a Custard Cream Filling)

This recipe came about one afternoon while I was thinking of a good friend of mine, I wanted to create something that I could serve to her on her visit to me here in Scotland. I knew a simple cookie just wouldn't do so I combined a few traditional flavours that I thought would work and here we have the Sarah-Jane Cookie.

Peanut Butter and Coconut Cookie Ingredients: 
3/4 cup dairy free spread
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 large egg equivalent, follow instructions on manufactures box 
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter 
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup desiccated coconut, lightly toasted in a pan 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350f/177c. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly toast your desiccated coconut pan on the hob, do not leave the coconut as it will burn and you are looking for a light golden toasting.
In the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the dairy free spread,sugar and golden syrup until light and fluffy (about 2 - 3 minutes). Beat in the peanut butter. Add the egg replacer and vanilla extract and beat to combine. 
In a separate bowl mix together the flour, coconut, baking soda, and salt. combine this to the peanut butter mixture and mix until incorporated. If the batter is too soft to form into balls, place in the refrigerator for about an hour or until firm.
Roll the batter into 1 inch (2.5 cm) balls. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet, placing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Then, using the tines of the fork make a crisscross pattern on top of each cookie.
Bake the cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Cookies can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, for about a week, or freeze for longer storage un filled.
This recipe will make about 40 cookies or 20 Sarah-Jane cookies.
Custard Cream Filling Ingredients:
3/4 cup dairy free spread
1 1/2 cups icing sugar (confectioners sugar) 
2tbsp custard powder
In a large bowl combine the ingredients together till you can no longer see any trace of the icing sugar. You may find that the mixture is very soft, if this is the case cover and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Once the mixture is firm place a heaped teaspoon of it between two of the peanut butter and coconut cookies, pushing down a little until the custard icing shows around the side.
once all the Sarah-Jane cookies are filled dust them with a little icing sugar to finish and serve.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies


(2) 225g cans of black eyed beans - drain and rinse
200g dark chocolate, vegan
1/2 cup rapeseed oil
1/2 cup soya milk
1/2 cup golden syrup or fine brown sugar
1/3 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup plain flour
1 tbsp flax seeds, milled
2 tsp instant coffee

2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup chocolate chips, vegan 


1. Preheat oven to 375f/190c, and line a 9" square brownie pan with grease proof paper.

2. Over a double boiler melt your chocolate, make sure that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl.

3. In large mixing bowl add the black eyed beans, golden syrup, salt, vanilla extract, oil, soya milk and flax seeds to a food processor or use a hand blender. Start on low and blend until very smooth. Then add your melted chocolate and mix with a spatula.

4. To your mixture fold in the cocoa powder, flour, cinnamon, and instant coffee.

5. Pour in the brownie mixture into the lined baking pan and smooth out with a spatula.

6. Heat the smooth peanut butter and oil together so that you have a very liquid peanut butter mixture. Drizzle the melted peanut butter over top the brownie batter.

7. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and chopped walnuts over the brownie mix.

8. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven at 375f/190c for about 30/35 mins. Once removed from the oven allow the brownie to cool for an hour  before slicing. This recipe will make 12 brownies.

Once completely cooled store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to one week. You can warm the chilled brownies in microwave or oven before serving.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Overeaters Anonymous my inside story

Hello my name is Jayson and I'm an over eater...

So I've thought about writing this entry all week, If you've read my blog you will know by now that I'm a dieter, have been all my life. I even worked for one of the worlds largest diet companies, but the one thing I've always been good at is eating and no matter how good a diet as soon as I stopped I'd put the weight and more back on. I'd always gone along with the line 'diets make you fat!' but after this week of soul searching I can tell you the only thing making me fat is me.

So lets get a few things clear from the start, OE is not a diet club, you'll not get any diet plans when you attend this meeting. And if I'm honest that to me was a bit hard, I wanted someone to tell me what to eat and when! OE is more of a support group for people who have eating issues, and when I say eating issues I mean that it's not just full of a bunch of fat people as you would think maybe for the title of the group.

The program is based on the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous a tried and tested approach to an absence based support group or as it's known amongst members a fellowship. Meetings are held all over the world for many 12 step programs and you are encouraged to attend as many meetings as you can and would like to. In AA there is a saying of 30 meetings/30 days but with OA there are fewer meetings and I'm lucky to have one a week close to me.

You do however get the option (and it is encouraged) to get what is known as a sponsor, these are people who have worked through the 12 step program and will help and support you as you take your journey through it. They will be you telephone buddy and really your lifeline when you need it. This may sound strange to you right now, heavens how hard can losing weight be after all? You just eat less and move your fat arse more! Yer up until this past week I thought that too...

So What's it like going to a meeting? Well I should say first things first that what happens in a meeting is 100% confidential so I'll not be telling you names or using any one persons story apart from my own and an amalgamation of the voices that were shared. 

I walked into the meeting, early as ever, and was greeted by everyone in the room. What shocked me a little was everyone had huge smiles on their faces, I kinda guested that this was going to be a very different evening and I wasn't wrong. Everyone greeted each other and it was the nicest and friendliest bunch of strangers I'd ever met. But having now experienced my first week I now understand why.

Once everyone is in the room the person leading the group asks everyone if they want to join in the serenity pryer they can, I know to some of you the word god will stop you from considering this, because lets face it I had the same feelings. But OA and all the other groups use the term god to mean higher being or creator, I mean how hard is it to believe that we were created? Most of us believe that the next diet will be the last. All I'd say is give it a chance and you don't know what you will discover.

So once the pryer has been said the person leading the group will read through the founding principles of OA and them members of the group will take it in turns reading excerpts from The Big Book, AA's main book of peoples experiences. It may seem strange that they would use AA as a guide but looking back on it, it kind of fits quite well really.

We then listened to a group member who shared their food related story with us and how they had found OA a help and where they were heading and what they were feeling about it all. Then it was time for a nice cup of tea and a short break, I can tell you now that I was thinking 'what in gods name am I doing here?' 'Can I make a bolt for the door and not get noticed?', but then the main person came over to me and said, 'so do you know what happens in the second half?' I admitted that I didn't, I mean there is not much out there on what happens in a meeting. They went on to tell me that they would go around the room and ask people to share their stories with everyone or just talk about what their experience was like, for some it would be about the last week for others it would be about the 12 steps and for people like myself it was just a chance to say hello and a little bit about who I am.

As we went around people would introduce themselves and everyone would repeat their name and say hello back. Then people started shearing and I have to say it was like listening to my story, even though everyone had something different to say I could feel my head nodding to every word. OMG could this group of strangers really know what it was like for me? By the time it got to the last person I was feeling quite emotional, when out of the blue one simple line was said by someone shearing and I felt tears stream down my face. The group ended shortly after with everyone saying goodbye like we had known each other for ever.

This is where my journey really started... I like I'm sure so many others felt I didn't have the right to take the contact details of another member and to ask them to be my sponsor, I mean after all it wasn't a diet all we had don is sat there and talked and listened to other peoples stories.

I was however feeling super charged about the whole thing and even though at the time the 12 steps seemed a little odd I thought I would give it a go. So abstinence is the main principle but as you don't have a diet program abstinence from how much? The things I have read says you should eat three times a day and not pick, you should find a good diet plan that works for you and you should follow it. You need to work out your trigger foods and cut those out of your life, I think these are things that come to light as you go along. I know two of mine are pasta and sugar so they are out!

But here is the thing, I came home and even with all the good will in the world I had no diet plan and no one was going to put me on the scales the next week, I have become so institutionalised about weight loss I really was having problems about this. But still the first night went well and I didn't over eat and I went to bead with my OE welcome pack in my hand ready to read in the morning.

Then for the next four days I didn't stop eating... I wanted to be 'good' and follow the steps, but I was full of emotions and memories that I had buried under all those layers of fat I carry. I found myself sitting and having 'a good cry' I even found myself not wanting to go out! What was going on? All I had done was talk and listen and now look at the state of me, right I wasn't going back, I was quite happy being me and keeping all of this down and never letting it out... But was I really? 

Then we get to yesterday, you see I've just started to chatting to someone and they are stunning both inside and out, they never say anything that would upset me and they always make me feel like a million dollars. But he asked me to take a video of what I looked like, I guess I had only sent photos of the right shots of me that didn't show my huge belly. I've become very good at camera angles like no other man alive. And over the last week I think my insecurities must have started to come through.

Now he said he liked me for who I am and that he didn't like skinny guys, but lets face it I lived with someone for three years who when we started seeing each other said all the same things only to end up beating me and telling me that he was as good as I'd get because I was fat and ugly... bruises heal but some scares are much harder to get ride of... I found this out when I had a complete melt down, I spent the whole of yesterday afternoon crying, not just a few tears but a flowing river of self hatred and emotions. I was about to walk away from something that was amazing because of my past and it all came back to food!

After spending hours talking to me this amazing guy talked me back of the ledge, I know he isn't like all the others and I can see that. I had a eureka moment, I'm not sure if everyone on a program has it and weather this was my waking up in a gutter somewhere not knowing how I got there, but I was having a huge moment of some kind.

So this morning I am taking control, I will be working through the demons of my past, I will be going back to the fellowship to share my life with those who understand, and I will try to make my way through the steps of recovery. If along the way I find something that is my god and the thing that is going to help me get there then all the better as I will not be doing it on my own. But with a room full of people around me and an amazing guy by my side for the first time I don't feel alone.

I may take you back to this post or topic from time to time but I feel I've said enough for now. If you would like to look into OE and to find a meeting just google them and you will find them in your area. All I would say is go into it with an open mind and heart and you never know what is going to happen.

Bear x

Friday, May 25, 2012

Scottish Vegan Nut Roast Recipe

Now when you say that your Vegan a lot of people think that all you eat is Soya, Linda McCartney Sausages and Nut Roasts. Well it’s true we do eat a lot of these as well as other amazing products that are now available in our supermarkets. Tesco’s has just started a new Freefrom range that is amazing, be it a little hard to find.
But one thing I always seem to fall back on is making my own homemade nut roast, and why? Because at the end of the day its quick and easy to make and if I have a little left over it can go into my lunch box or spread onto bread to make a healthy alternative.
Now I’ve used Oats in this recipe as it seems that every artisan shop carries a local brand and it’s all about supporting local suppliers. You could take the scottish theme to the next level and add a little whisky to the recipe or even make a whisky gravy if you have a family recipe.

50g pumpkin or sunflower seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 large carrot
150g cooked lentils
90g dry whole wheat bread crumbs
110 ml vegetable stock, as needed
50g of uncooked oatmeal
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350ยบ/180c/4GM. Spray a loaf pan or 8x8 square baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside, an 8x8 pan makes a crisper firmer loaf. I tend to put some grease proof paper in the bottom of the pan to help when removing, but this is up to you.
Grind the pumpkin seeds into a coarse meal using a food processor or chop finely. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Cook the oatmeal with water as directed and add to the ground pumpkin seeds.
Chop the vegetables into a small dice making sure that they are all about the same size. Then cook them in a pan with the vegetable oil until soft. 
Add the cooked vegetables to the large mixing bowl along with all the remaining ingredients. Mix and mash together well, adding only as much stock as needed to create a soft, moist loaf that holds together and is not runny. 
Press mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until cooked through. If you are using a shallow pan the cooking time may be quicker so keep an eye on it.
Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or cooling rack if you are not eating straight away.
 Best served with potatoes, vegetables, and a vegetable gravy, or with some nice chunky chips and peas.
Cold leftover leftovers can be sliced and make a great sandwich filling.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chocolate Pots

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 Minuets
Chilling time: 1 hour minimum 
2 large ripe avocados
25g unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tsp maple or agave syrup
1/4 tsp salt
100g of 70% dark chocolate 
Brake up the chocolate into chunks and put into a pyrex bowl resting on a pan of boiling water. Don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl as this will burn the chocolate. You can also melt the chocolate in a microwave but I find the stove top method more controlled. once melted set aside to cool a little.
If you have a blender place all of the other ingredients into it and blend till there are no chunks of avocado left. If you are using a hand blender this process may take a little longer but the smoother the mix the better the end result will be.
Now add the cooled melted chocolate to the mix and blend again. Now I tend to use teacups to set my chocolate mix in as it looks nice, but feel free to use any small container you have to hand. Ramekins work well and will look good on a serving plate.
Now place the chocolate pots into the fridge to cool down and set up. I recommend an hour but it does depend on how hot your kitchen is and the weather outside. If you can give them longer it will taste so much better. 
As this is using avocados the shelf life on this is quite short and it should be eaten within 12 hours of being made.
If you want to make it look stunning serve with some fresh strawberries and some grated chocolate on top.
I tend not to tell people that the main ingredients is avocados in this dish until after they have asked for more. I do love the shocked look on their faces. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Vegan Moroccan Aduki Bean and Lentil Stew

This recipe will feed 4-6 people


1 tin of aduki beans
1 tin of lentils
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 head of celery  
2 large white onions
2 leeks
4 carrots
400g or 1 bag of young spinach
2 tbsp Moroccan Spice mix
1 tbs mixed herbs
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tbs rapeseed oil or other good vegetable oil
3 cups of water (you may not need all of the liquid so judge it as you go along)


Finely chop all the Vegetables, except the spinach, so that they are all the same size.

Add the rapeseed oil to a large pan and heat to a medium heat (not smoking) then add the carrots, onions, celery and leeks to the pan and make sure they have been coated with the oil.

Add the Moroccan spice mix and make sure it coats all of the vegetables.

Turn the heat down to a simmer and add a ¼ of the water before covering the pan. Sweat the Vegetables until they are almost soft and the carrots are almost cooked about 10-15 minuets.

Now add the drained tins of aduki beans and lentils and the tin of tomatoes along with the rest of your seasoning.

Add enough water to make it into a stew and cook the ingredients through till the Vegetables are cooked how you like them.

Turning off the gas but leaving the pan where it is add the spinach and mix it in, now leave for 5-10 minuets uncovered. This will let the stew thicken a little and the flavours to mix completely.

This stew is great the next day and is very filling hot or cool. You can fridge it for up to two days but remember to let it cool before putting it in the fridge.

You can also put it in the freezer for up to one month, but do keep the portions smaller to help it maintain better.

Moroccan Season Mix

This will make 10 tablespoons of seasoning.


5 tsp ground nutmeg
5 tsp ground cumin
5 tsp ground coriander seed
3 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 ½ tsp allspice
2 ½ tsp ground ginger
2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
1 ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 ¼ tsp cinnamon


Blend mix together and put in an airtight container, before storing in a dark cupboard, and keep for up to two months.