The Economical Vegan

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Summer is icomin in….Buddha bowls and vegetable fried rice

Well it’s been a while – mostly because I’ve been in hibernation mode, but here are some more recipes from The Economical Vegan. As summer is well and truly on its way, at LONG last, I wanted to share some Buddha Bowl type recipes for you for your summer lunches, and remind you of a quickie recipe for a light summer dinner that is packed with flavour.

Buddha Bowls

Buddha bowls are a very effective lunch. Stored in a jar or pot, they allow you to combine a raft of raw vegetables with some excellent vegan protein and flavour. The key is to start by putting the wet ingredients at the bottom of the pot, then add the protein/carbs, then the raw veggies and then finally any leaves etc that would wilt if exposed to dressing for too long.

Bowl 1: Hummus and Spice Bowl

These ingredients are added to the bowl in the following order in layers.

Two tablespoons (tbsp.) of hummus.

1 tbsp Srirarcha Chilli Sauce

1 Tbsp chickpeas (cooked of course)

1 tbsp. cooked quinoa (cooked with vegetable stock)

1 tbsp. toasted cashew nuts

1 tbsp:  chopped red pepper, spring onions, grated carrot.

Spinach leaves to fill.


Bowl 2: Oriental Salad

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon groundnut oil

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1 tbsp sweet chilli and garlic sauce

1 teaspoon of mixed chopped garlic and ginger

1 tbsp cooked long grain brown rice

1 tbsp toasted peanuts, chopped

1 tbsp chopped marinated tofu

1 tbsp chopped green peppers, chillies,, spring onions, broccoli, cauliflower.

Shredded spring greens or cabbage to finish.

Bowl 3: Mexican delight

2 tablespoons pre-cooked veggie bean chilli

1 tsp chopped chillies

1 tsp chilli oil

1 half of chopped avocado mixed with lemon juice

2 tbsp mixed cooked rice and red quinoa

1 tbsp chopped yellow pepper

1 tbsp finely chopped white cabbage

Shredded fresh coriander


And finally, for those summer lunches and light, easy dinners,

Vegetable fried rice.

Chopped spring onion, red peppers, chillies, garlic, ginger, and carrot.

Fry in coconut oil until the vegetables soften slightly. Add a good amount of cashew nuts.

Add cooked brown basmati rice, frying and stirring continuously.

Add veg bouillon powder and toasted sesame oil just before serving, stirring very well.










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Back on Track with Butternut Squash and Coconut Soup


Well, it’s been a while since I posted, but today a conversation with some new vegan friends reminded me how valuable it is to share easy, economical recipes and show people how living as a vegan does not have to be difficult. It has been a challenging year this year, including 2 months recovery from surgery and a literal cooker meltdown leaving me with no oven, and cooking in an electric paella pan and slow cookers and a single ring camping stove. But that hasn’t changed how lovely my food is. A new vegan café has opened near me, serving excellent food – Canteen 18 in Swansea, but I still cook a lot at home.

Today, after enjoying Sunday Lunch with the Swansea Vegans at Canteen 18, I cycled home against the wind with one thought in mind – to cook up a delicious, warming soup ready for the rest of the week. This is a quick and easy recipe and makes good use of butternut squash, but you could use sweet potato, pumpkin or any gourd or squash you like.

What’s in it –

One onion, chopped.

Four cloves of garlic, chopped. (I love garlic, put in less if you aren’t that into it)

One large chilli, chopped.

A teaspoon of coconut oil

A tablespoon of ‘soup mix’ or lentils.

Two teaspoons vegetable stock powder

Half a teaspoon of smoked paprika

A large wedge of creamed coconut (the solid kind that comes in a block).

How to do it – Put the onion and garlic and coconut oil in the bottom of the pan (or slow cooker on high) and let them sweat for a while to bring out the sweetness. Add two pints of boiling water and the rest of the ingredients except the coconut. Simmer for about 40 minutes on a low heat, then grate or chop the coconut block  and stir well, simmering for another 10 minutes. Then blend, and taste. Adjust the seasoning as you prefer.


It should make 4-5 servings, depending on how hungry you are!


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Tasty Leek and Cauliflower Soup and a High Protein salad

Tasty Leek and Cauliflower Soup and a High Protein salad

When the weather is varying between freezing cold and brief periods of warmth and sunshine, it can often be hard to choose between the warming soups of winter and the longing for raw salads that bring the taste, crunch and colours of spring. There is nothing I like better than to combine the two, to eat a soup and a salad at the same time (or one after the other). Here are a couple of recipes you might enjoy at this time of year. The soup is the kind you can put in a mug and sip as you crunch your way through the crisp refreshing salad with its multiple textures, sweet vegetable juices, the creamy taste of hummus and the bitter-salt tang and yielding texture of olives.

To begin with, start the stoup. I came up with this recipe today as I was given two cauliflowers that needed to be cooked ASAP. Being the economical vegan that I am, I immediately thought of soup. And having a surfeit of leeks from my veg boxes (again!), knowing the creamy texture that lots of leek adds to a soup, I decided to make a simple soup with plenty of flavour and a delicious smooth feel in the mouth.

Wash three good-sized leeks by chopping off the green heads just below the beginning of the white stalk, splitting the heads lengthwise, and soaking in some warm water for ten minutes. Then wash well, separating the leaves. Put a deep soup pan on to boil and add a little vegetable oil. Chop the stalks of the leeks, and toss into the oil. Rinse and drain the green tops of the leeks, slice and add to the pan, leaving a few for the salad, stirring to sautee, extracting all the flavour that you can.

Meanwhile, fill the kettle and bring it to the boil.

Remove the leaves and the bottom of the stalk from the 2 cauliflowers, then roughly chop them(stalks and all, and add to the pan. Add 3 cloves of garlic, and a 3cm cube of ginger, both roughly chopped. Stir briskly for a few minutes as the vegetables fry, then add the boiling water to cover the vegetables. Add plenty of black pepper, and 2 vegetable stock cubes or the same amount of vegetable bouillon. Simmer for 20 minutes, then take off the heat. Add 2 tablespoons of savoury yeast flakes if you wish, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce. Blend with a hand blender, then taste. If the soup tastes a little bitter, add a dash more sweet chilli sauce and stir well.


The salad is very easy. Five leaves of little gem lettuce, washed and then torn up, half a yellow pepper, diced, a few shredded bits of leek. A tomato, chopped, and a chopped half of avocado. Blob on about four tablespoons of hummous, and sprinkle on some marinated olives and some sunflower seeds. Drizzle with some lemon juice and a basic vinaigrette dressing. And you are done!

The soup and the salad are packed with flavour, and are really nutritious. They combine various textures and every mouthful is slightly different. I hope you will try these recipes and will enjoy them.

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Bulgar Wheat Salad and Red Bean Tagine

Imagine, if you will, the rich, slippery tagine sauce, thick and luscious, studded with vegetables and earthy red beans, juxtaposed with a chewy, crunchy, tart and aromatic bulgar wheat salad. Full of protein, fibre and minerals.


Here’s how it’s done.


Half a leek, chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped

Six large mushrooms, sliced

1 celery stick, chopped

half a yellow pepper, chopped.

1 carton of tomato passata

1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon

half a teaspoon of dried, ground cumin

half a teaspoon of dried, ground coriander

half a teaspoon of paprika

quarter of a teaspoon of chilli powder

1 inch of cinnamon bark

1 drained tin of cooked red kidney beans

Put all the ingredients into a slow cooker or a casserole dish with a lid. Slow cook for around 3 hours. If using a conventional oven, get the oven hot first on about 200 degrees C for about 20 minutes, then turn down to 150 for an hour, then stir well. Turn down to 120 for the remaining time. If using a slow cooker, stir every half an hour or so.


Bulgar Wheat Salad

2 cups dried bulgar wheat, and enough boiling water to cover

1 garlic clove

1 celery stick

1 medium apple

1 medium/large carrot

six to eight raw sprouts

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

1-2 tablespoons chilli jam or sweet chilli sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon powder

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

Bring the bulgar wheat to the boil and simmer, checking regularly until all the water has been absorbed by the wheat. Turn it into a large bowl.

Meanwhile, peel the carrot, take the ends off and either finely chop in a food processor or whizzy chopper, or grate

Do the same with the sprouts and the garlic

Finely chop the celery and the apple (avoiding the core)

Add the vegetable bouillon powder to the wheat, and stir well. Then add the vegetables, stirring well to distribute them all about evenly. Add the chilli jam, cider vinegar, pumpkin seeds and olive oil, and stir again until the salad looks colourful and delicious.

Serve these together, with a garnish of fresh tomato and maybe a little pickle. Utterly delicious and very, very filling.


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A Very Vegan Christmas

Well, it’s that time of year again, and even though in previous years I have gone into vast detail about how to make a good vegan Christmas meal, this year, I thought I’d focus on Christmas for the solitary vegan. Most of my recipes tend to be for at least 3-4 people. So today I am focusing on the solitary vegan. There are a lot of us about, living in families of non-vegans, living alone, working with non-vegans….. and it can be hard, this time of year, to get a properly festive meal. Most standard restaurants and hotels really don’t get the idea that vegans like it festive too!

So here are some recipes on a smaller scale, to liven up your Vegan Christmas.

First, the centrepiece of the Christmas Dinner:


Yes, people say, its the boring old nut roast. Well, there is nothing boring about this. I recommend either encasing this in a little ready-made shortcrust pastry or baking in deep muffin tins to make handy small portions. There is enough here for 2 portions, one for dinner, one to have with leftovers.

100g macademia nuts

50 g dried cranberries

50g mixed seeds.

100g fresh breadcrumbs

50 g vegetable suet

2 teaspoons vegetable bouillon powder

1 tablespoon vegan red wine.

2 tablespoons wholemeal flour

1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped or minced

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Coconut oil

Chopped fresh herbs


First, finely chop the nuts, cranberries and seeds in your whizzy chopper, or put the nuts and seeds in a plastic bag, wrap in a tea towel, and beat them with a rolling pin!

Put the nuts, seeds and cranberries in a small pan, add the stock and enough water to just cover by about an inch, and the wine. Slowly heat and then simmer for about 15 minutes, then leave to cool.

In a frying pan, melt a little coconut oil, and add the garlic, onions and mushrooms. Sweat these down until they reduce to a soft, brown, delicious-smelling pulp. Leave to cool.

Check how much liquid is left in the nut mix bowl. The nuts and seeds and cranberries will have soaked up the liquid but if there is more than about a tablespoon of stock, drain some off, and keep it to use in your Christmas gravy.

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and mix well, checking the texture. Add more flour if necessary but not too much, you don’t want it to be too heavy.

Turn into greased muffin tins, dividing it equally between the sections (you might fill 2 or as many as four, depending on your tins) (OR line the muffin tins with some shortcrust pastry first, pop on a pastry lid) and bake in a medium oven for about 30-4o minutes, or until the top is brown and crispy and the roasts come away from the sides of the tin. I use silicone muffin tins, it’s easier.

This will give you a delicious, moist and very, very tasty nut roast, festive and delicious and a good centrepiece for your dinner.


Okay, this is a cheat. I really love making super-duper gravy at Christmas, which takes two days, the recipe for which is elsewhere in this blog. But we are not all gifted with the resources, time or space in the kitchen to do this. So here is the cheating way of doing it.

Finely chop onions, celery, carrots and parsnip. Sautee in a pan with a little coconut oil, over a medium heat, until all the veggies start to caramelise. At this point, finely chop some herbs (parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary) and toss them into the mix. Add a pint of water, and simmer for 20 mins, then strain through a sieve, retaining the liquid. Put the liquid into a saucepan, and add a teaspoon of English mustard, half a teaspoon of yeast extract, and bring to the boil, adding a tablespoon of vegan red wine or two tablespoons of vegan beer. Add instant vegan gravy granules until you reach the required consistency and taste. Taste it! Adjust the seasoning if necessary. This is an awesome veggie gravy with plenty of flavour but which takes a fraction of the time.

I served this gravy to a table full of non-vegans and they didn’t realise they were having the veggie gravy!!!


The worst part of Christmas for vegans is the lack of dessert. Again, unless you go to a vegan restaurant, you just get offered fruit salad. Not very festive. But we are not all pastry chefs AND again, time can be an issue. So I wanted to give you a quick, festive pudding that will make the non-vegans jealous.

Line a small tart tin with ready-prepared vegan shortcrust pastry, and blind bake in the oven.

Soak dried cranberries in mulled wine in a saucepan, simmering for about 20 minutes. Drain the cranberries and keep the liquid.

Melt a bar of vegan chocolate in a bain marie (a bowl over a pan of boiling water) and mix in coconut oil, stirring well, and smooth almond butter (about 2 tablespoons), along with a tablespoon of fine wholemeal breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons golden syrup. At the last minute, add the cranberries.

Pour into the cooled, baked pastry case and set in the fridge for a couple of hours. Serve with some vanilla vegan icecream.

An alternative filling would be to melt the chocolate, add the cranberries, and two tablespoons of ‘mincemeat’ (mince pie filling) along with the nut butter.



It’s party season, apparently. And that means party food. Again, vegans are likely to end up with a few nuts and some salt and vinegar crisps, so here are a couple of things to liven up your festive spread.


Make a batter of gram flour, self raising flour, extra baking powder, and soya milk with a little salt, and, using a little coconut oil, fry in a non stick pan in small circles to make little blini-style pancakes. Use these with different toppings, such as some vegan cream cheese topped with pickled chillis, peppers or sundried tomatoes, or with olives.

Mini crispy cases

Using small patty pans (like muffin pans, but the smallest you can find), grease with a little coconut oil. Take some standard sliced bread, roll flat and cut with a pastry cutter into appropriately sized circles. Press into the pans, and brush the insides with melted coconut oil. Bake until crispy and brown. Just before serving, fill with different fillings, such as finely chopped garlic mushrooms, olive tapenade and chopped tomatoes, spiced scrambled tofu, or grated chocolate and dried cranberries. Or anything else you can think of.









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Cheesy Vegan Breakfast Casserole and Leek and Pumpkin Soup

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Serving suggestion

Cheesy Vegan Breakfast Casserole and Leek and Pumpkin Soup

Those of you who actually know me will know that I am a lover of unconventional breakfasts. Given half the chance, I will rant on for at least half an hour about the utter ridiculousness of eating carbohydrates with sugar on top for breakfast – just because it has been sold to us as the thing we are supposed to eat! Breakfast cereals were invented by a farmer who wanted to keep his workers docile and dampen their sexual drives . . . . and now they are simply big business. I don’t like sweet stuff in the morning, so I often opt for the next best thing – toast with marmite. Whilst I was in India last year I enjoyed an Indian breakfast every day, which included soup. It reinforced something I have practised for years, that of having real food for breakfast, with real nutrition. During the summer, when acting as ‘breakfast chef’ for a week long camp, I made savoury vegan sausages for everyone, trying to adhere to the conventions of a ‘fried breakfast’ that would suit everyone’s sensibilities. But really, if we all broke the habit of eating rubbish for breakfast (it has to be ‘fortified with vitamins’) then we might find that we stay fuller for longer, and have healthier lives.

So here is my recipe for what I had for breakfast today – a cheesy vegan breakfast casserole. It’s made using the ingredients from the organic veggie boxes I get each week. It’s great veg, but pushes me to find creative ways to use the seasonal vegetables. Lately I have had a LOT of leeks, so this morning, when I started getting hungry and contemplating breakfast, I decided to make something with them. This will make two generous portions or could feed four if you want to put it with some veggie sausages or tofu cakes and toast.

Cheesy Vegan Breakfast Casserole


2 large leeks

3 medium new potatoes

A double handful of black kale

A double handful of curly kale

1 teaspoon garlic powder (use a clove of fresh garlic if you have some)

1 tablespoon vegan cheese sauce powder

3 tablespoons vegan savoury yeast flakes

Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and hot chilli sauce to taste

1 tablespoon coconut oil



Heat a large casserole dish with a lid, and put in the coconut oil.

Slice the leeks, soak and wash them, drain, and roughly chop, then drop into the pan with the oil and sautee for about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Strip the kale off the woodiest parts of the stalks, and shred/chop finely, then add to the pan and keep frying. Wash the potatoes and slice/chop into pieces around inch round and half an inch thick. Add to the pan, along with about a pint of water. Turn down the heat, put on the lid, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat while you add the cheese sauce powder, yeast flakes, salt and pepper, stirring well, then return to the heat, cover, and simmer for another five minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. The sauce should thicken. Taste and adjust seasoning if you need to. If you like it hotter, add some hot chilli sauce.

Serve with some wholemeal toast or just as it is. In the pictures, you can see I served with toast and added some vegan Worcestershire sauce for extra flavour.

This is totally delicious and a lovely way to use leeks. Another way to use them is obviously in soup. Using lots of leeks in soup has two benefits. First, sautéed leeks give a delicious, sweetly savoury flavour to soups. Second, lots of leeks give soup a creamy texture when blended. The recipe below is a divergence from the traditional leek and potato soup to take advantage of another abundant seasonal ingredient at this time of year – pumpkin.


Leek and Pumpkin Soup


3 large leeks

1 small/medium pumpkin (or squash)

1 apple

Ground coriander

Fresh or dried chilli

1 garlic clove

1 vegetable stock cube

2 tsp tomato puree/tomato ketchup

1 tablespoon coconut oil


Slice and soak the leeks, washing them well and then draining them.

Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan, and toss in the leeks, sauteeing them until soft. Finely chop the garlic and add to the leeks with around a teaspoon of dried ground coriander and some fresh or dried chilli (you decide how much you want). Core and chop the apple and add this. Deseed and peel the pumpkin, and chop roughly, also adding this to the pan to sautee for at least 10 minutes, stirring really frequently. Add around 2-3 pints of water (add gradually and check, you want the veggies covered) and the stock cube, then cover simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the tomato puree, stir well, then blend the soup using a hand blender. Return a low heat, taste, and then season accordingly. If too bitter, add some more tomato puree. If too sweet, add a little salt.

Serve with chunky fresh bread, and garnish with some freshly chopped coriander or some toasted pumpkin seeds. This is a real winter warmer and is great for lunch or dinner. Continue reading

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Autumn Leaves and Vegetable Inventions

At last I have my new organic veg box delivery sorted, and this week, I had some lovely black kale, cabbage and onions, amongst many other things. I also had some purple sprouting broccoli and cabbage leftover from my last shop. Having enjoyed an amazing visit, where I marvelled at the glorious red-gold tree in front of the castle, and the intense colour of the Virginia creeper, I was keen to keep going with making some delicious autumn foods.

The first dish was inspired by the lovely slaw I had at the Tomatito Tapas Bar in Hay on Wye (, which was a lovely place for a vegan to eat, with amazing patatas bravas, olives and a celeriac, parsnip and beetroot slaw, I made my own version. Being an economical vegan, I wanted to use up things I had in that needed consuming, so I did my usual thing of inventing my own delicious recipes around what was in the fridge and cupboards.

Alys’s Beetroot Pickle Slaw

Half a cabbage, finely shredded

one leaf of black kale, finely shredded

1 onion, halved and then thinly sliced

two tablespoons of beetroot pickle

1 tablespoon vegan mayo (optional)

juice of one lemon

sprinkle of sea salt.

To make: just mix well together, check the taste and season well. Makes a lovely, reddish-pink slaw and tastes amazing.

Broccoli Soup with Yeast Flakes

Two large handfuls of purple sprouting broccoli, including stalks

1 small onion, roughly chopped

3 of the outer leaves of cabbage, roughly chopped

2 large garlic cloves

3 tablespoons Engevita yeast flakes

2 vegetable stock cubes

3 pints water

1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

Freshly ground black pepper

This is so easy to make. Throw the veggies and water into the pan, boil for 20 minutes. Remove from the boil, blend with a stick blender, then add the yeast flakes and blend again. Add the ketchup and the black pepper to taste, blend again. Check your seasoning. If it tastes a little bitter, add a drop more ketchup. A lovely creamy, leafy soup with loads of goodness in it. Serve with toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds sprinkled on top and a drizzle of chilli oil. Yum!!!  I’ll be having this soup for lunch at work this week, and I can’t wait.