Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been in the news a lot over the last few years, so let’s have a look at it.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

After my blood tests showed I was deficient in vitamin D as well as iron, I decided I’d write a post about it at some point, particularly as it’s been suggested that it can reduce the severity of Covid 19. As it was trending on Twitter a couple of days ago and popped up several times on my Instagram feed I took that as a sign that now was the time!

So..what is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is actually a family of related substances, the most common of which are D2 and D3.

Why do you need it?

It promotes the absorption of calcium and helps regulate the levels of calcium and phosphate in the blood.

It helps to regulate bone growth and repair.

It reduces inflammation.

It modulates processes such as cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, as well as glucose metabolism.

In short, it’s really important for our bones, teeth and muscles. A deficiency in vitamin D can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Sufficient vitamin D and calcium also help to protect against osteoporosis.

Where do you get it from?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and the D3 form occurs naturally in some foods, predominantly fatty, animal-sourced foods.

  • oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
  • red meat
  • liver
  • egg yolks
  • fortified foods – such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals

Vitamin D2 occurs in a very small number of sources, mainly in mushrooms that have been grown in UV light, yeast and some fortified foods, so it can be particularly difficult for vegans and vegetarians to get enough purely from their diet.

Photo by ready made on Pexels.com

Should I take a supplement?

Luckily, we also produce Vitamin D ourselves when exposed to enough UV light but in the UK, in autumn and winter, we cannot make enough. NHS guidelines state that everyone should consider taking a supplement during these months.

However, there are some groups of people who should take a supplement all year round, including –

  • people who get outdoors much – e.g, anyone housebound or frail.
  • anyone in an an institution such as a care home.
  • anyone who covers most/all of their skin when they’re outside.

Additionally, anyone with dark skin may not make enough Vitamin D and should consider a supplement too.

So, there you go. That’s pretty much everything you need to know and, as it’s pretty grey and windy in most of the UK at the moment, you might want to keep taking your Vitamin D tablets for at least another month or two!


Are you getting enough iron?

Last July, I tried to give blood. If you have donated blood before (thank you!) you will know that they check your haemoglobin (Hb) beforehand to make sure that taking blood won’t make your Hb drop to below normal levels. For women, they need your level to be 125g/l and for men it needs to be 135g/l. Unfortunately, mine was 110g/l! This is so low I was advised to see my GP and suspended from donating from a whole year. I chatted to the nurse and she did advise me that there were lots of innocuous reasons for my Hb being low, including heavy periods (check!) and diet, particularly eating a vegan or vegetarian diet (check!). On top of this, we were just coming out of a heatwave which meant for the previous few days I’d been living on salad, fruit and ice lollies. I wasn’t overly concerned but I made the appointment with my GP who decided to test me for EVERYTHING! The results came back quickly and showed that I was deficient in both iron and vitamin D, so he prescribed both. I have been looking at my diet to see if I can make some changes, but as both nutrients are hard to get in a vegan diet, I will be taking supplements for the foreseeable future. Whilst I was researching I discovered that iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, affecting 30% of the population, so I thought it might be helpful to do a short post about iron and why we need it. (Spoiler alert! It’s not just so that we’ll be allowed to give blood!)

Why do we need iron?

Iron is a really important mineral –

  • It helps the transport of oxygen around the body and it’s transfer between cells.
  • It also helps to keep the immune system healthy.
  • It helps the brain to function normally.

Iron deficiency can lead to –

  • tiredness and lack of energy
  • shortness of breath
  • heart palpitations
  • pale skin

What foods are good sources of iron?

Animal sources.

  • liver and other offal
  • red meat (70g a day or less)
  • fish (e.g, canned sardines, cockles and mussels)

Vegan / vegetarian sources.

  • beans – e.g, kidney beans, edamame, chickpeas
  • nuts and seeds
  • dark green leafy vegetables
  • dried fruit – e.g, apricots
  • fortified breakfast cereals and breads
  • soy bean flour
  • quinoa

How much do you need?

  • 8.7 mg per day for men over 18
  • 8.7 mg per day for women over 50
  • 14.8mg per day for aged 19 – 50

What else do I need to know ?

Vitamin C promotes iron absorption so it is important to eat or drink a source of this vitamin with iron rich meals, e.g, drink a glass of orange juice.

Conversely, tannins (found in tea) significantly inhibit iron absorption, so you should be careful not to drink tea to close to meal times or when you take your supplement.

Hopefully you can use this information to avoid anaemia yourself and I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to give blood again soon!

plant based, vegan

Can’t face Veganuary? How about Meat Free-Monday?

A friend asked me to write something about eating less meat/being vegan a few of years ago and as it’s Veganuary I thought I’d share it

It’s that time of year again– “New Year, New You” time, where everywhere you look someone seems to be trying to convince you that you need to make a change to your life. Some of these changes are short term, like Dry January, and some are aimed at longer term goals, such as getting you to sign up to a 12-month contract at your local gym – a relationship that will almost certainly be over by Valentine’s Day. One campaign that falls somewhere in the middle, however, is Veganuary , which aims to get people to go vegan for a month but hopes that they will stick with a plant-based diet long-term.  The problem with all New Year’s resolutions, though, is that they almost inevitably end in failure and one of the main reasons is that they can just seem so bloomin’ overwhelming! It’s easy to avoid this though, by making small, manageable changes instead of overhauling your entire life in one fell swoop – which is where Meat Free Monday comes in.

As the name suggests, Meat Free Monday is about reducing your meat consumption by having at least one meat free day a week. Why on earth would I want to go meat free, I hear you cry? Well, there are lots of reasons. The obvious answer is animal welfare, but when I say it’s the obvious answer, I mean it’s really obvious so I’m not going to go into that here. So, what are the other reasons?

Well, firstly, it’s better for the planet – in fact, studies have shown that reducing your consumption of animal products is the most effective way to reduce your impact on the environment – far better than ditching your car!

Secondly, it’s better for your health – vegetarian and vegan diets have been proven to lower cholesterol which can, in turn, lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.  A well-planned plant-based diet can also significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Finally – it can save you money! You may have heard that eating vegan is more expensive but, while it is certainly true that some meat substitutes can cost more than the cheapest meat version, they often fall somewhere in the middle of the price range. Though you don’t need to eat meat substitutes or any special ingredients at all! For example, you can make a great vegan curry by subbing the meat for a can of green lentils, which costs about 50p, or just use extra beans instead of minced beef for a chilli “non-carne”.

So now you might be wondering if there sre there any convincing reasons not to try going meat-free for one day a week? By far the most common reason I hear is that it’s too hard. That might have been the case in the past, but in the last few years it has become so much easier to eat vegan that it’s not difficult at all! To prove it, here are some ideas for some cheap and easy meals to help you plan a meat free day :


  • Peanut butter on toast (if you follow a gluten free diet, check your bread ingredients for egg).
  • Your favourite cereal with plant milk or fruit juice.
  • Overnight oats – there are lots of recipes available online, but this is my favourite – it’s like having chocolate pudding for breakfast!
    • 3 tbsp porridge oats (about 30g)
    • 80ml unsweetened soya milk
    • Half a ripe banana (about 70g)
    • 1tsp cocoa powder
    • 1tsp peanut butter
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Place the oats in a bowl, along with the soya milk, cover, and pop the bowl into the fridge overnight

In the morning, add the cocoa powder, peanut butter and banana to the bowl and mash with a fork.

This should be sweet enough but if your banana isn’t ripe you can add a little agave or maple syrup to sweeten.  Enjoy!


  • Houmous sandwich with grated carrot, peppers and salad leaves
  • Jacket potato with vegetable chilli
  • Chickpea Casserole – this is VERY easy to make! You need
    • 1 can of chickpeas
    • 1 can of ratatouille

Drain and rinse the chickpeas.

Put the chickpeas and ratatouille in a pan and heat through.

That’s it – you’re done!


  • Vegetable fajitas with vegan yoghurt, salsa and guacamole.
  • Pasta with tomato sauce and vegan meatballs. (Avoid fresh pasta as it usually contains egg).
  • Cottage pie. You can buy a ready made one but it’s easy to make. You’ll need –
  • 1 pack of frozen vegan mince (454g)
    • 1 onion, diced
    • ½ cup frozen peas
    • ½ cup frozen peas
    • 750g peeled chopped potatoes
    • Instant vegetarian gravy – check the labels in your cupboard before you buy some. Some well known instant gravy brands are already vegan.
    • 1tsp vegetable oil.
    • 100ml soya milk
    • 1 tsp vegan spread
    • Nutritional yeast (optional)
    • Salt and pepper.

This will serve 4 and I make mine in an 8” by 6” Pyrex dish.

Pre heat your oven to gas mark 7 / 220° C (200° C for fan ovens)

First, bring the potatoes to boil then reduce heat and leave to simmer.

Whilst they are cooking, heat 1tsp of oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion over a medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add the mince and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the peas and sweetcorn and cook for another 2/3 minutes

Make up about 300ml of gravy, following manufacturer’s instructions.

Take mince off the heat and put to one side.

After checking the potatoes are cooked, drain the water and transfer back to the saucepan. Add the soya milk and vegan spread and mash the potatoes until smooth. You can also add the nutritional yeast at this point. It adds a slightly cheesy flavour and is a good vegan source of vitamin B12 but if you don’t want to buy any special vegan ingredients it’s fine to leave it out.  Season to taste.

Transfer the mince to the oven dish.

Pour the gravy evenly over the mince and mix with a fork if necessary.

Spread the mash evenly over the top of the mince, ensuring that it reaches the edges of the dish.

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Heat the cottage pie in the middle of the oven until the mash browns slightly (if you use a glass dish look for the gravy bubbling).

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Hopefully, these suggestions show that it really is a piece of cake to eat vegan for a day, and there are plenty of other ways too. You could add a couple of Quorn or Linda McCartney products to your trolley and not notice a difference in flavour or the price of your weekly shop, and if you want to eat out there is more choice than ever. Starbucks and Costa both have a choice of plant milks for you experiment with, as well as a growing selection of vegan food options. All the major high street restaurant chains have vegan options and many even have entire vegan menus. Veganuary is a great time to try them out too, as there are a lot of special offers around to tempt you through the doors. Even Greggs are getting in on it, by releasing their vegan sausage roll this week in a flurry of publicity*. So, I guess the only question left when it comes to eating less meat is – what’s stopping you?

*Obviously, this is out of date now but Greggs are still releasing new vegan products, and there is more choice in shops and restaurants than ever. I even saw this week that Wagamama are bringing out their version of vegan fish and chips!


Size is just a number*

*Or several different numbers, as the case may be.

The sun has appeared in the sky today, for the first time in what seems like forever. This is very exciting news! Now, I know we’ve been allowed to go out for a little while now but, to be honest, most days, I haven’t really got anywhere to go. I’m happy pottering about at home most of the time, but not even being able to sit in the garden for most of the month of May has been pretty depressing, even by British standards. So, imagine my delight when Alexa informed me that it was going to be a balmy 17oC today! This did present me with a bit of a dilemma though, as I have *ahem* “outgrown” all of my summer trousers during lockdown and have been wearing stretchy joggers most days. Luckily, I had to pop to Morrisons to pick up some stamps so I grabbed a pair of navy blue linen trousers whilst I was there. When I got home I delved into my wardrobe for a top to go with them and this is where things got interesting (or ridiculous, depending in your point of view).

One outfit, three sizes.

I stood in front of the mirror and realised that the top I was wearing was a size 8 while the trousers I’d just bought were a size 16! A quick check of my crop top/ sports bra revealed that it was a size 20-22! How on Earth could size 22 boobs fit into a size 8 top? Because women’s clothes sizes make no sense, that’s why! When you check the size guide of any given brand (usually available on their websites – good luck finding one instore!) the measurements are given for the bust, waist and hips, so they know what the measurements of the garments are. Why can’t they put them on the labels? We all know which areas of are bodies can cause problems when clothes shopping. For me, it’s my waist as I put all my weight on round my middle. My life would be so much easier if I could reliably shop for jeans by waist size. My husband can. He can go online, filter by waist and inside leg and know that when the jeans arrive, they will fit him perfectly – regardless of where he buys them from. Why are women still put through the ordeal of taking off their perfectly fitting size 12 jeans to try on a different pair of size 12 jeans, only to find they can’t do them up? How difficult can it possibly be to put the measurements on the labels and let us make an informed decision instead of playing the shopping equivalent of Russian roulette every time we need to buy something? No wonder women spend so much longer trying on clothes than men! We have so much less information to go on!

If you find yourself worrying about the numbers on the labels inside your clothes, my advice to you is to just cut them out. Buy clothes that make you feel good and get rid of number that makes you feel bad. Or you could do what I do, and make some of your own clothes – no labels required! If you are trying to get fit or lose weight, I’m not saying you should stop. There are other far more important numbers to worry about though- how many flights of stairs can I manage now? How long did I manage to exercise for today? How many of my five-a-day did I eat? Try and improve those numbers and your health will improve too. By all means, keep track of your waist size if you want to. Waist size is an important indicator of potential risks to your health, after all. Just make sure you use a tape measure and not some arbitrary sizing system that varies wildly from retailer to retailer. Your self-esteem will thank you for it.


What the heck is a “macro” anyway?

If you have tried to lose weight, get fit, or even just read an article in a magazine recently, there’s a good chance you will have heard of “macros”. Everyone talks about “counting their macros” nowadays, but do you know what they are?

It’s quite simple really. “Macros” is short for macronutrients. That might not help much but it just means the nutrients that we need to consume in large amounts, i.e, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. (as opposed to micronutrients – nutrients we need to eat in small amounts, such as vitamins and minerals).

The average person (not on a special diet due to a medical condition) should aim to get 50-55% of their calories (kcals) from carbohydrates, 30-35% from fats and 10-15% from proteins. You can manually work all this out if you are tracking your food intake – carbohydrates and proteins provide 4kcals per gram whilst fats provide 9kcals per gram. However, it’s a lot easier to use a free app such as myfitnesspal, which also calculates roughly how many calories you should be eating a day (though I will do a post about that later – I want to focus on food quality rather than quantity for now) . If you read my previous post about having a balanced diet and want to start making some adjustments, you might find it helpful to start tracking your food to see where your intake is at the moment. If your macronutrient percentages are roughly okay, then have a look at the foods that make up those numbers and see if there are any healthy swaps you can make e.g, swap white starchy carbohydrates for wholegrain versions. If not, try and reduce things you are having too much of – maybe grill or bake instead of fry to reduce fat – and increase your intake in areas where you are lacking. If you stick to the recommendations in the Eatwell guide your macros can’t go far wrong! I’ve highlighted which foods are good sources of which macros below, but please contact me if you have any questions.


Practically everything has some protein in it. The best sources are eggs, dairy, meat and soya bean, with lentils, chickpeas and wheat not far behind. Proteins are made up of amino acids and there are 9 amino acids we need to eat every day. Animal protein and soya beans contain all of these essential amino acids but if you eat a good variety of foods, you can get all the amino acids you need from other sources.


As well making up the bulk of most spreads and oils, fats are also present within foods such as meat, cheese, nuts and seeds, and are added to processed foods such as chocolate and crisps. If you need to reduce your fat intake, try and reduce fats from the sources outside the Eatwell plate (processed foods) rather than cutting down on healthy fats or foods that provide other important nutrients, such as dairy and nuts.


Sugar is a carbohydrate, but you should aim for the bulk of your carbohydrates to be from starchy foods, and ideally from wholegrain sources such as wholemeal bread and brown rice. Fruits and vegetables are also a source of carbohydrate and you should aim to eat at least 5 portions a day. Obviously, fruit is sweet. This is because it contains natural sugar. Unless you are diabetic though, (in which case you need more specialist advice) don’t worry about that too much for now. Get in the habit of choosing healthy snacks first, and we’ll worry about tweaks later. Fruit and veg contain other nutrients and fibre, and will always be a better choice than an unhealthy snack.

So, that’s the gist of “macros”. You can count them if you want to, and if you’ve been advised to eat specific amounts of one or more of them, you might want to get an app to make your life easier. However, you don’t have to. If you want to improve your diet trying to eat in line with the Eatwell Guide is a great start – and there is no maths needed!

I’ll be doing future posts about each of the macronutrients – which one are you most interested to hear about? Let me know below and I’ll do that first!


A Balanced Diet

You’ve probably heard the term “balanced diet” a million times, but do you know what it really means? There are lots of different definitions out there, but, basically, it means eating a variety of food which gives you all the nutrients you require to stay healthy whilst providing the right amount of energy for your needs . As we are all different, a balanced diet won’t look the same for everyone. Our bodies vary a lot, not only size and shape, but in how they process food and cope with exercise, and our tastes vary wildly too. This will sound obvious, but If you want to make any changes to your diet – either to lose or gain weight, or to try and eat more healthily, it’s important to make sure you eat foods you ENJOY! What I really want to do is to help people understand what it is that they are eating so the can not only make any changes that they need to, but to understand WHY they are making them.

An easy way to see what your diet should look like is to check out the Eatwell Guide

The Eatwell Plate

If you would like to read more about the Eatwell Guide you can do so here

As you can see, the bulk of your diet should be made up of wholegrain or fibre-rich starchy foods and fruit and vegetables, with a smaller proportion made up of protein based foods, and dairy (and dairy alternative) products. Fats and oils should be limited and highly processed foods like crisps and chocolate are shown outside the plate to indicate that they should only be eaten occasionally. I will be sticking broadly to these guidelines so if you’re looking for the latest fad diet, this isn’t the site for you!

In future posts I will talk about the different food groups shown above in more detail, explain the different macro- and micronutrients needed as well as energy requirements for different groups and any other topics that come to mind. This is a very quick intro as I am pretty busy studying for my Level 4 qualification but if you have any questions or topics you’d like me to cover, please get in touch via my facebook or instagram pages. Thanks for visiting my page!

baking, Cakes, plant based, vegan

Never make a birthday cake in a heatwave!

It was my husband’s 40th birthday last week so I said I’d make him a cake. I wasn’t anticipating the relentless heatwave we’ve been having here in the UK so it all went a bit wrong. After a minor breakdown, I managed to rescue it and posted pics of the finished product online where it got 1000+ likes and loads of requests for the recipe, so here it is! To be honest, in keeping with my other “recipes” , it’s really just assembly instructions as I do everything the easy way. There is a bit of baking involved though – that’s unavoidable, I’m afraid!

Top tip!

You will probably need to start baking this a couple of days before you want to eat it!

Step one :

Bake the cakes! I used this recipe but you can use your own. Instead of splitting this recipe between two 8″ cake tins, I put it all in to one 9″ inch tin and baked for about 35 mins (until a skewer comes out clean). For this cake I made 3 layers – which makes for a big cake! From here on I will refer to the quantities I used for this 3 layer, 9″ cake, which can be adjusted for your particular requirements. After the cakes have cooled on a rack, wrap them individually in cling film and refrigerate. I left mine in the fridge overnight.

Step two:

Stack the layers (on a cake board). The first thing you’ll need to do is trim the tops off them – a sharp bread knife will do the job well. I used Betty Crocker Vanilla Buttercream and Hartleys Black Cherry Jam – I covered the sponge first with buttercream then jam. It’s easier to spoon the jam on then spread it around gently with the back of the spoon to avoid mixing the buttercream and jam up too much (I popped the cake back into the fridge between layers but that was just due to the heatwave making the buttercream melt -you won’t usually need to do this!).

Try not to have them spilling out of the sides as this will get in the way later, though you can scrape off any excess with a palette knife. Once you’ve sandwiched all the layers together, pop it back in the fridge until the buttercream has hardened a bit.

Step three :

Next you need to apply the crumb coat. This is just a thin layer of buttercream that traps all the loose crumbs, helping you get a good finish on your cake. I don’t have a photo of this stage I’m afraid, but the linked video tells you everything you need to know.

Step four :

The next stage is where it all went wrong and I nearly threw the whole thing in the bin – covering the cake with chocolate fondant! As you can see, it was impossible to do this bit properly as it was so hot the fondant fell apart every time I lifted it up. I had to stick it on in several pieces and try to blend the edges together with my fingers. As I was doing this, the buttercream inside had melted so much that the middle layer, which had a small crack in it, broke in half completely, with one of the halves trying to make a break for it and causing a bulge in one side. I tried to squish it back into shape then put it back in the fridge in the hope that the shape would set while I thought of a way to rescue the cake. If you want to see how to do it properly, there’s a video here.

Step five:

So, I rummaged in my cupboards to see what I had to rescue the cake with. I found partial pots of the frostings I’d used so far, an icing comb, a cake turntable/lazy susan and a 3 colour piping set, and a plan formed! I spread some of the chocolate fudge icing around the sides of the cake with a palette knife, smoothing any of the rough edges along the top edge over on to the top of the cake (they’ll be hidden later). I then used the icing comb and the turntable to create the lines around the sides. Once I was happy with those, I put the cake back in the fridge while assessed what I had left.

Step six:

I had roughly equal amounts of the chocolate and vanilla left so I filled one icing bag with chocolate, one with vanilla and one with half of each. I assembled the 3 colour piping bag using the star nozzle, and piped “blobs” all around the top and the base of the cake. I flipped the bag over between each blob to get the alternating colour effect you can see in the photos. Then – you’ve guessed it! Back to the fridge!


Step seven:

It now looked a million times better than it had at the fondant stage but it still needed a bit of something extra to make it special enough for a special birthday. Luckily, I love a biccie so I had a pack of Birthday Party Oreos in the cupboard, and I have a cupcake loving 5 year old so I also have an impressive stash of vegan sprinkles. I stuck them both on the cake and lo, and behold! The finished article!

So, hopefully, this is proof that anyone can make a decent looking cake, even under conditions that are less than ideal! This is only my third cake so if I can do it, any one can! Please don’t be put off by the specialist equipment I have used. I only have it as I inherited it when my mum (who made AMAZING cakes) passed away last year. There are ways around most of it, though if you want to achieve the same effects, you can get most of bits you need quite cheaply online.

If you have any question, please get in touch. In the meantime

Happy Baking!

baking, Cakes, plant based, vegan

Vegan Christmas

In case you didn’t know – Veganuary is just around the corner! We’re all vegan already but it’s always a good time of year for vegans and veggies as there are lots of great recipes and special offers to be found, as well as some great advice for people just starting their vegan journey. This year, I’m planning on making more food from scratch (I say that every year but as I’m “kept woman” nowadays, I have no excuse this year!) but that’s not always possible so I’m going to share our Xmas menu and hopefully show that you can be vegan AND lazy!
First thing to think about ( for me, anyway) is nibbles! There are some ready made mince pies available but as I had my little one at home because of the school holidays we decided to make our own – the easy way – using ready rolled pastry (I actually didn’t even know that was a thing!) and a jar of ready made mincemeat. MiniMe loved it as she got to play with the pastry cutters and icing sugar and I got to control the amount of mincemeat (not a huge fan) so it was a win-win!

Next up were the gingerbread men. Now, we did make them from scratch but the recipe is very easy (and can be found in this book). We did cheat a little with the icing as we bought a tube, but I have no idea how to make vegan icing that’s suitable for decorating gingerbread men, so any tips would be most welcome!

Christmas isn’t complete without a bit of chocolate and what better form than a yule log? I wasn’t sure that my usual vegan sponge recipe would be flexible enough to make into a swiss roll so we haven’t had one since MiniMe’s allergies were diagnosed. Luckily I stumbled upon (i.e, stole!) a genius idea and manged to cobble this together.

It’s made by sticking eight chocolate cupcakes together with chocolate frosting (with a ninth stuck onto the side) then covering the whole thing with what’s left of the frosting. A sprinkle of icing sugar (I actually used this) and a plastic robin and you’re done!
For our Christmas dinner, I handed the kitchen over to my husband, and he did a fabulous job! We started with some cheezly and cranberry bites, then we had a Vbites Celebration Roast with lots of veggies  (including scrummy roast parsnips) and roast potatoes.

We were all a bit full by this point but after a little break we managed a bit of vegan trifle for pudding (recipe can be found on a previous post).

We could barely eating another thing after that so we had slice of yule log for afternoon tea and then gave our tummies a rest! Only until Boxing Day, obviously, when we had more delicious food, but I’ll save that for my next post! For now, I’ll just wish you a Happy and Healthy 2018 and hope that you give Veganuary a try – you won’t regret it!

baking, Cakes, plant based, vegan

Vegan Jaffa Cakes!

So, The Great British Bake Off returned to our screens this week. I absolutely LOVE this show but because we don’t eat meat, eggs or dairy, they very rarely feature anything I can actually make for my family. So imagine my excitement when I read that there was a vegan baker competing this year! Unfortunately, it turns out he’s not vegan at all, but “enjoys vegan baking” so while we may yet see some good recipes, it’s still down to me to veganize everyday treats for my little girl. This week, for the technical challenge, the contestants were asked to make 12 jaffa cakes. Now, to be honest, if you’re not vegan, life is probably too short to make your own, but for those who can’t eat the familiar McVitie’s chocolate coated cakes (and they’re definitely cakes, not biscuits! ) I thought I’d have a go at making some quick and easy ones. I had all this stuff in the kitchen but you will probably need to buy some vegan jelly. I used this one but if you can find ready made orange jelly, all the better – or  – and this may sound a bit blasphemous -you could make a different flavour!

Vegan Jaffa Cakes
makes approx. 24.


(This recipe is based on a recipe from this book).

1 cup of soya (or other plant) milk
1 teaspoon of cider vinegar (or lemon / lime juice)
1 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons of cornflour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil (any mild flavoured one is fine. I use rapeseed but sunflower is also good).
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 sachet of Hartley’s What’s Your Flavour? jelly
2 large oranges.

Chocolate coating
300g vegan dark chocolate


2 x 12-hole tart trays
Pyrex (or other heatproof) jug.
Cooling rack
Medium pyrex bowl
Swiss roll pan / shallow tray.

To make the sponges

  • Grease and flour two 12 hole tart trays. (If you don’t have tart trays, you could use muffin pans and only half fill each hole). 
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/ gas mark 4.
  • Whisk together the milk and vinegar in a large bowl and leave to curdle for a few minutes. 
  • Add the oil, sugar and vanilla extract to the milk/vinegar mixture and stir thoroughly.
  • Sift in the all of the dry ingredients and mix until all the large lumps are gone. 
  • Pour into tart trays (each hole will be 1/2 – 3/4 full) and bake for about 15 mins or until a cocktail stick comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in the tray for 5 – 10 mins then turn out onto a wire cooling rack. 

To make the jelly
  • Add the zest and juice of the oranges* to a large pyrex jug. 
  • Add 1 sachet of jelly crystals and make up to 500ml with boiling water. 

  • Allow flavour to develop for a few mins then pour liquid through a sieve into a non stick tray (or tray lined with cling film). You want the jelly to set about 3mm thick. I used a non stick swiss roll pan. 
  • Chill in the fridge until properly set.
*You could make this even easier by making up the jelly as instructed on the packet, with your favourite orange flavoured cordial/juice. 

Assembling the jaffa cakes. 
  • Once the jelly is set firmly and sponges have fully cooled, use a small cutter to cut 24 jelly discs and place one disc on top of each sponge. 
  • Melt the chocolate – I usually break it up and heat it in short bursts in the microwave. 
  • Let the chocolate cool so that it is still workable but not hot as it will melt the jelly and just slide straight off! If this happens, all is not lost! Just whack that one back in the fridge for a while, until the jelly and chocolate are both cool enough, and try again. 
  • Spread the chocolate over the top of the jelly and sponge – a teaspoon or 2 of chocolate per cake is about right. Take the chocolate right to the edges of the sponge with the back of the spoon. 
  • While the chocolate is still wet, make a criss cross pattern on the top of each cake with a cocktail stick. 
  • Allow to cool. 
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plant based, vegan

Easy Peasy Vegan Trifle

As my challenges have changed since I started this blog, I am going to take it in a different direction. I am going to attempt to veganize things the easy way, with links to where you can buy all the things I use to make quick and easy family meals and desserts that are meat, egg and dairy (and occasionally gluten)free. I hope you like it!

So, as I explained last time, my daughter is allergic to eggs and dairy (and now nuts!) so our diets have changed a bit since she’s been on solids. We all eat vegan at home as we don’t have eggs or dairy in the house, and it has been relatively easy to adapt. There are lots of vegan alternatives for mince, chicken pieces, burgers, sausages and nuggets etc for easy meals, but where things become more of a struggle is when you’re making a recipe that traditionally uses eggs or milk as a main ingredient. When she was first diagnosed the paediatrician said she’d never be able to eat cakes or biscuits so I said “We’ll see about that!”. I already had this fantastic book so birthdays cakes weren’t a problem. I bought the other books in the series, about cookies and pies and we haven’t looked back. However, as brilliant as those books are, they are American, and while they do a great job of veganizing American treats, sometimes you yearn for something ….quintessentially British. And that’s why I made this. It’s hard enough to cook when you have dietary restrictions so I’ve made this as easy as possible…..Enjoy!

Vegan Raspberry Trifle.


8 sponge fingers (make a Vanilla Crazy Cake)
Handful of frozen (or fresh) raspberries.
1 packet of raspberry flavour vegetarian jelly
1 carton of soya custard
1 carton of soya whipping cream (chilled)
vegan sprinkles*


  • Place sponge fingers and raspberries in a large glass bowl / trifle bowl. 
  • Make up jelly as per instructions on the packet. Chill in fridge until set. 
  • Pour carton of soya custard over set jelly. Chill in fridge for 1-2 hours.
  • Empty soy whip in to a second glass bowl. Whisk until light and fluffy.
  • Gently spread soy whip over custard.
  • Add sprinkles. 
And you’re done! A non-traditional, traditional English trifle! Grab a spoon and get stuck in! This is how we always had it when I was a kid but some of you will remember a rather more boozy sherry version. This could easily be adapted to your own tastes but as I wanted to make a treat for my 3 year old, I thought it best to leave out the alcohol! 
*(I confess, my sprinkles weren’t vegan as I was using up what we had in the cupboard. They are vegetarian but do contain shellac and beeswax. They only vegan ones I’ve found are crazily expensive, so I am going to use up my veggie ones before I shell out to replace them).

UPDATE! I have found some vegan sprinkles! Enjoy your guilt-free trifle! 🙂

Thanks for visiting my blog! If you like this recipe, you might also enjoy this!