The Economical Vegan


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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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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:

MACADEMIA NUT AND CRANBERRY ROAST

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

HOW TO DO IT

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.

EASY PEASY VEGGIE GRAVY

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!!!

VEGAN CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY TART

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.

Yum.

QUICK CANAPES

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.

Blinis

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.

HAVE A GREAT FESTIVE SEASON.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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 (http://www.haytomatitos.co.uk/), 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.


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September Salad Days . . . and Soup

It is always the greatest irony, that a wet August will give way to glorious sunshine in September, when the schools go back. Working in education means September is a very busy month for me, but it’s also a month when I feel energised and able to rise to new challenges. I love the crisp mornings, the scent of autumn in the air, the kiss of the sun, the light dancing through leaves. This is the opportunity for me to bring back my habit that dominates most of the year, of making soup to take to work for lunch. But it is also balanced with lovely salads.

Today’s salad is a much-loved favourite of mine. You can vary it with different things, such as different flavours of hummous, or different kinds of olives, different dressings and different veggies, but for me, in its simplest form, this salad is filling, delicious and incredibly satisfying. Serve it with wraps or flatbread and you can’t go wrong. Try to stick to organic veggies where you can.

Ingredients:

4 leaves of romaine lettuce

a large handful of spinach or baby spinach

2 spring onions

3 small sweet peppers or one large sweet pepper.

1 carrot, grated

fresh herbs

olives

hummous

smoked tofu

sweet tomato chutney or something similar

pumpkin seeds

To make the salad:

First, get a frying pan hot and toast the pumpkin seeds, then set aside.

Wash the leaves and shred with your hands into your salad bowl.

Sprinkle on the carrots and chopped peppers and spring onion.

Blob on some nice big spoonfuls of hummous

Toss in the olives

Blob on a few teaspoons of your chutney

Sprinkle on pumpkin seeds

Finely chop about half a block of smoked tofu and sprinkle that over the top.

Finely chop some fresh basil, parsley or coriander, if you have any.

DONE!

I love this salad. It’s crunchy, sweet, salty, creamy, tangy and piquant, all at the same time. And it’s filling. It’s a great balance of textures and flavours with plenty of protein to keep your energy up and keep you feeling full.

And now . . .  soup

If you are a regular reader, you will know I love soup. I like to vary it as well, as it makes for an interesting life. Having something warm and delicious in my soup flask for lunch helps keep me going but also allows me to slow down and enjoy my lunchtimes during the working day.

This soup is an oriental-inspired spicy soup full of fresh veggies. Rather than use expensive and exotic ingredients however, I use things I keep in my store cupboard, and I recommend you keep them in as well as it means quick and easy meals are only a few minutes away.

This soup CAN be made with noodles, but the version below uses spiralised carrots and courgettes instead. You can get a spiraliser for under £20 and they are fun!. Enjoy

Ingredients:

1 carrot, spiralised

1 courgette, spiralised

Fresh corn, off the cob

1 sweet pepper

4 spring onions

Finely shredded spinach, cabbage and/or Kale.

1 small white onion

A 1 inch cube of fresh ginger

3 garlic cloves

Vegetable stock cube or powder

Coconut milk or coconut milk powder (the powder is great to keep in the cupboard and is much cheaper than buying the tins)

1 lemon or 1 lime

1 tablespoon Miso (optional – I keep miso in the fridge but if you don’t have it, don’t worry).

Coconut oil

Toasted sesame oil

Soy sauce

Fresh coriander

Arrowroot to thicken (optional)

Chopped fresh chillies (to your own preference – I like my soup very spicy so I use a lot)

To make the soup:

In a large pan, heat the coconut oil. Peel, crush and chop the garlic, chillies and ginger and toss into the oil.

Chop the white onion finely, and add to the oil, stirring well.

Boil the kettle, and while it is boiling, toss in the green veggies, the pepper (finely sliced) and the sweetcorn, and give them a good stir. Then, add boiling water to the desired level, and add the spiralised carrot and courgette. Simmer for about five minutes, then add some lemon/lime zest and the juice of the fruit. Stir in the miso, vegetable stock and add the coconut milk or powder and a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Taste, and if necessary add soy sauce to your preference. If you want a thicker soup, add a little arrowroot or cornflour. Simmer for about 10  minutes.  Finally, just before serving, sprinkle on some fresh coriander and finely chopped spring onions.

Other options: you could add tofu, seitan or even some of the mock duck you can get in a tin, finely chopped, to give more body to your soup if you wish.

It’s a lovely, warming soup and so tasty and delicious. You can make it as mild or as spicy as you wish. I often take the soup AND a salad for lunch during September, and I am not afraid to admit that I often have them for breakfast as well as lunch. There’s nothing better. These amounts should make 2-4 servings, but you can make more volume and freeze the soup if you wish.

And finally . . . . a quick reminder of my quick, easy and very heartening soup for those with not enough time or resources to make such a complicated soup. A quick lentil and tomato soup is perfect and is done in 30 minutes.

1 tin tomatoes

A heaped handful of red lentils

1 onion

1 carrot

Veg stock cube.

Chop the onion and carrot roughly, and put in your soup pan with the other ingredients. Add water (fill your tomato tin once or twice), bring to the boil and simmer. After 20 minutes, blend with a stick blender, simmer a little more, and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. You can serve this with a drizzle of chilli oil if you like a spicy soup. And it doesn’t get much simpler than that!


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Saturday Recipes

Saturday Recipes

Every Saturday I get up and watch a cooking programme on tv. I enjoy the programme, despite the fact that they don’t feature much vegan food, because I enjoy the enthusiasm of the chefs and I also love the challenge of trying to convert every recipe into a vegan one. But it also makes me hungry, so I spend much of my Saturday mornings fantasising about food before heading into the kitchen to make something delicious. Today’s recipes can be found below.

Vegan ‘Cheese’ Toasties

I love toasties, and toast in general. Pates and spreads bought from the shops can be very expensive, but here is a simple recipe that any vegan can make for a delicious, healthy snack.

Take two small shallots or one medium onion, peel, and finely chop or whizz in the mini chopper.

Grate around 250g of vegan cheese.

Grate half a courgette.

Mix all together in a bowl, and add some salt, pepper, a teaspoon of English mustard, and a tablespoon of vegan mayonnaise. If you don’t have the mayo, use a tablespoon of vinegar mixed with soya flour, gram flour or plain flour.

Mix all ingredients together well.

Lightly toast some bread, and drizzle with a little olive oil, then spread the mixture evenly on the bread, and put under a hot grill until the mixture starts to brown on top.

Eat

Delicious!

You could also stuff baked potatoes with this mix and twice bake them.

Easy Spring Rolls

Finely slice onions, celery, Chinese leaf, kale, cabbage, chillis and fresh coriander. Crush and chop some garlic. Mix well in a bowl with a little sesame oil, soya sauce and sweet chilli sauce, and then mix in some arrowroot to thicken. You can also add some chopped tofu if you wish.

Take some ready made filo pastry, and brush lightly with olive oil. Cut large rectangles and place some of the vegetable mix in the centre, then fold the ends in and roll over into spring rolls. Place on a greased baking tray and drizzle with some oil, and bake about 180 degrees until crispy and brown. Serve with some sweet chilli dip.

Quick Spicy Noodle Soup

Thinly slice onion, garlic, ginger, fresh chillis and any vegetables you have in the fridge. Heat some vegetable oil in a large pan, and toss the vegetables in, stir frying until they start to soften. Meanwhile, boil the kettle. Add boiling water, soya sauce, vegetable stock, and some instant noodles and boil rapidly until the noodles are soft. Finely chop fresh coriander and some more fresh garlic, and toss in just before serving. Season to taste, and serve.

‘Leftovers’ Sausages

A friend of mine called this ‘brickettes’ because they came out irregular and very large when I cooked them at a camp I attended last year. They make a great brunch or lunch dish, and can be frozen and then rewarmed as required.

Leftover cooked rice.

Leftover cooked vegetables.

1 small pack of instant sage and onion stuffing mix

Leftover cooked lentils

Vegetable stock powder

Gram flour and wholemeal flour

Salt and pepper

Tomato ketchup

Smoked paprika

Make up the sage and onion stuffing mix according to the instructions. Mix well with the lentils, vegetables and rice, and add a little stock powder, salt and pepper, smoked paprika and a good tablespoon of tomato ketchup. Mix well with some added gram and wholemeal flour to bind the whole mix together. Form into sausage shapes, and fry in a pan, or put on a baking tray, drizzle with oil, and bake until golden and crispy. This is a great, cheap recipe that uses up leftovers and provides a really tasty dish. The key is adjusting the seasoning to your own taste. You don’t have to include the stuffing mix but you may need more gram flour to bind. They are great in a roll with some chutney, or with some beans on toast, or even with chips.

Enjoy!

I love Saturdays!


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A Post-Christmas Vegan Cook-Off

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Today is the last day before my new veg box delivery, and tomorrow is the first day back in work after the holidays. I’ve had an indulgent, relaxing time for the last two weeks, and watched a lot of cooking programmes on the television. I love watching cooking programmes, especially when I can adapt the recipes. Today, to use up the veggies left in the fridge, and to make tomorrow a little easier, I had a little mini cook-off.
First, I made Vegan ‘Chorizo’ Stew with Chickpeas. I put a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan, and sautéed chopped onion, shallot, garlic and carrots with a pack of vegan ‘chorizo’ style chunks. I added ground cumin and coriander, and some freshly grated nutmeg, bouillon powder and a large chopped green chilli. About two cups of soaked, cooked chickpeas were added. Then I added about five cups of water, brought to the boil and simmered for about 40 minutes. Halfway through I added torn up fresh basil and a tablespoon of tomato puree. I simmered until the liquid had reduced by almost a half, and the sauce had thickened. This was served with roasted sweet potatoes and parsnips, and a cous cous. It was delicious. There is another portion ready for the freezer as well – a good economical dish.
Once this first dish was simmering, I made a Rich Country Stew with Sage Dumplings. I chopped swede, carrots, parsnips, leeks, onions, celery and shallots, and put in a pan with plenty of water, and about a cup of red lentils. I added a stock cube, salt, plenty of freshly ground black pepper, some dried mixed herbs, a teaspoon of yeast extract, and some sea salt. To this I added two cups of chickpeas.
While this was coming to the boil, I made dumplings by mixing self-raising flour, salt, vegetable suet and finely chopped fresh sage, with a little water to bind. I formed the mix into small balls, about 4cm across – they double in size whilst cooking. They also help to thicken and season the sauce. Once the stew was boiling I added the dumplings, put the lid on, and turned the heat down to a brisk simmer. This continued for about 40 minutes.
Whilst the stews were cooking, I made a quick coleslaw which I can take to work for lunch – an easy way to eat a healthy lunch with raw veggies. I simply used my mini-chopper and finely chopped cabbage, carrot, onion, celery and fresh coriander stalks, and mixed with a tablespoon of vegan mayonnaise and about a tablespoon of lemon juice. A quick sprinkle of sea salt finishes it. I mixed it well and simply put into a container to take to work.
The stew is now finished and ready for tomorrow’s dinner. I find stews and curries often taste better the second day anyway and at least I know I won’t have to cook when I get in tomorrow night. I also know I will spend much of tomorrow looking forward to it!
I’ve realised that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I am either cooking, cleaning, washing up, drying up, doing laundry, or putting food away and sorting cupboards. I also make a lot of cups of tea and coffee. I often feel most comfortable in the kitchen in any house, and I am blessed that the house I live in has a decent sized kitchen with a rangemaster stove which makes cooking easier. I’ve also been blessed to inherit a food processor from my mother (now around 20 years old and still going strong) and to have other very useful gadgets. When people ask me how on earth I can manage to be vegan, I smile. If you like to cook, then being vegan is not so difficult. It does take effort and planning, time and commitment, but it is well worth it.


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Halloween Recipes

Vegan Halloween Recipes

It’s that time of year again, and my pumpkins are sitting on the window sill waiting to be hollowed out and carved. And as always, I find myself mourning the waste and loss of good nutritious food that happens every year, when people carve their pumpkins without first removing the delicious flesh for cooking. It amazes me how many people will do this, and fail to use the pumpkin. Or how many people will simply restrict themselves to pumpkin pie. Here are some delicious, nutritious pumpkin recipes for your Halloween feast.

Pumpkin Bread

1 kg wholemeal bread flour

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 packet of instant bread yeast

1/3 teaspoon of salt

1/3 teaspoon of sugar

1 cup of fresh pumpkin, finely chopped or whizzed, or grated.

Warm water.

Put all the dry ingredients, including the pumpkin, into a mixing bowl. Add the oil, and then the warm water gradually to make a nice soft bread dough. Knead for 20 minutes, and leave covered with a damp towel in a warm place to rise. Knock back once risen, and knead for another 20 minutes, then shape and turn out into a loaf tin or shape into balls and put onto a greased baking tray. Bake in a medium hot oven until the bread or rolls are crispy and browning, and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it. Turn onto a wire rack to cool. This bread will have a speckled orange colour when you cut into it. Serve whilst still a little warm – either with olives and olive oil and balsamic vinegar as an appetiser, or with a nice soup or stew, such as the pumpkin soup below.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Roughly chop about 2 kg pumpkin and put onto a baking tray, and drizzle with a little oil. Sprinkle with sea salt, and toss in six cloves of garlic (peeled). Roast for around 30 minutes in a hot oven. Ten minutes before the end of roasting, add a cup of fresh cashew nuts. Put everything into a large saucepan, and add a litre of water, stock cubes, salt, pepper, and a little turmeric and some mustard powder. Bring to the boil, and simmer for around 20 minutes, then blend with a hand blender or in jug blender. Taste, and season as necessary.

Heat a frying pan and add a drizzle of oil, then toss in a cup of pumpkin seeds and toss until well toasted. Serve the soup hot with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds. You can also fry some chopped chilli as a topping if you like things spicy. Serve with freshly baked bread or some croutons. For extra effect, save a hollowed out pumpkin and bake this and its lid for around 30 minutes in a medium oven, then serve the soup IN the pumpkin!

Pumpkin Muffins

Mix equal amounts of wholemeal and self-raising flour, with a teaspoon of baking powder. Add a natural sweetener or fruit syrup, and two cups of grated pumpkin, along with a two teaspoons of cinnamon, and a generous handful of fresh pumpkin seeds. Mix well with some oat, soya or coconut milk, and turn into greased muffin tins. Bake in a medium hot oven for around 30 minutes. Turn out, cool, and serve either hot with some soya custard or cold.

Pumpkin Pie

Take some ready made pastry (vegan of course) and roll out into a shallow pie tin, saving half for the top. Slice fresh pumpkin and fill the pan, making sure you layer it up high because it will shrink a lot, and sprinkle with sugar, fruit syrup or a similar sweetner, or dot with jam or marmalade. Sprinkle on chopped dried fruits (apricots are best) and a generous amount of cinnamon. Add a little five spice. Put the pastry lid on and bake at around 180 degrees until the pastry turns a deep golden brown, and the pie smells like heaven!

Serve with vegan icecream or cream.

Witches Brew/Halloween Punch.

This is an alcoholic version but for an alcohol free one, use red grape juice. Take two bottles of red wine, and put in a pan with some cinnamon, mixed spice, dried fruit, diced fresh apples and diced pumpkin. Add a little fruit syrup, vegan sugar or sweetner. Bring to a low heat slowly, but do not boil, then just before serving, add some port or sherry, or a dash of brandy.

Italian Pumpkin Bread

Make a bread dough as described above, but after kneading, roll out onto a pastry board. Take sliced pumpkin, sliced onion, sliced tomatoes and fresh garlic, and cover the surface of the dough, sprinkling on basil and oregano, along with some sea salt. Fold the bread over on itself, first in half, then half again, to make a long roll. Bake until golden brown and serve hot in slices as a delicious snack or meal accompaniment.

And finally . . .

For those who do engage in trick or treating, here, again, is my no bake chocolate cake recipe. Make this up the day before, chill it, and cut it into 2 inch squares, then put these into baking paper twists instead of candy.

No Bake Chocolate Cake

2/3 pack of vegan Digestive biscuits

4-6 packs dark chocolate

4 cups dried mixed fruit

250 g crunchy peanut butter

Melt 3-4 packs of dark chocolate in a water bath. Meanwhile roughly crush the digestive biscuits, and put them with all the other ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix well, then spread in a broad, flat dish that has been greased. Melt the rest of the chocolate and mix in a tablespoon of vegan margarine if you wish. Spread this as a topping over the cake, then cover with cling film and chill for about 4 hours. This can then be sliced to your preferred size. This is a delicious snack or confectionary and everyone I have ever given it to loves it.

Note – the cheaper versions of digestive biscuits (such as supermarket own brands) are often vegan. If you want to make this recipe gluten free, simply use gluten free digestives.