Veganuary - Nourising Salad recipe

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One week into January and for those who are taking part in Veganuary (and those who aren't!) here's a recipe for a delicious, nourishing and really filling salad. The Violife Mediterranean block is optional but really is very tasty (better then I remember the real thing tasting... less squeaky) and adds an extra dimension to the salad but you could have without or be imaginative and serve with rye bread, falafel or vegan style meats.

Ingredients

For the dressing:
Juice of 1 Lemon
Tbsp Olive Oil
Tsp of Mustard Seed
Salt and Pepper

Salad:
1 bag of mixed baby leaves
1 medium carrot
Pomegranate seeds
100g Baby plum tomatoes
1 can chickpeas Mediterranean 

Start by preparing the chick peas, drain them from the can, then roast in the oven, whilst roasting the chickpeas do the same with the  tomatoes adding balsamic vinegar and olive oil in the oven. To make the dressing simply mix the ingredients in a small bowl.

Pour the dressing over the leaves and carrot, sprinkle pomegranate seeds, chickpeas and add the tomatoes to the top. If using the Violife Mediterranean style cheese (as pictured above) cook until browned in a griddle pan


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Home made Mince Meat

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It was on my Christmas to do list this year to make some mince pies completely from scratch. These simple and traditional festive treats are just the epitome of Christmas to me now. I am a total convert to home-made mince meat, once you have all the ingredients it is just so easy. I know this is a little late in the day now as Christmas is just around the corner (I mean it's Chrismas Eve Eve after all) and definitely the longer left the better but as long as you leave it at least a day it will still be delicious.

Ingredients
250g cooking apples
100g vegan suet
400g mixed dried fruit
200g dark muscavado sugar
1 orange
1 lemon
25g chopped mixed nuts
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp mixed spice
A pinch of nutmeg
3 tbsp brandy

Method
In a large bowl mix the suet, dried fruit, sugar, nuts and spices.

Peel and core the apples and chop finely or you can also grate them into the bowl.

Grate off the zest of the lemon and orange and squeeze out the juice. Add both zest and juice to the bowl along with the brandy and combine well.

Cover the bowl and leave it in the at least for a day before using but can be made well in advance and left in the fridge in some air-tight jars.

Now you've made your mince meat you can either buy some just roll or if you fancy going completely homemade here is a recipe that I used below, in the above photo I have used wholemeal flour.

Pastry

250g plain or wholemeal flour
110g icing sugar
110g soya butter
water

Method
Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl and add the soya butter.


Use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs - with no large lumps of butter remaining. Try to work quickly so that it doesn't become greasy.

Bring the mixture together to form a dough. You will find that you probably need to add cold water, start with a couple of tbsp measurements and judge by eye as you work it then once done wrap the dough in cling-film and chill atleast 10-15 minutes before using. 


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It's Christmas time in the city

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Michael Buble has been on repeat since the end of November, ELF has been quoted left right and centre, mince pies have been warming in the oven and we've even had a dusting of snow to get us in the mood.With it being just over a week to go (whutttt!where has that time gone?!) the Christmas lead up is well under way. Throughout December I love seeing the city come to festive life. Sparkling, shining and looking it's very best.

I've made a list (checking it twice..) of some of my favourite festive views and spots to visit before the big day. Guaranteed to make even the Grinch's out there feel the warm and fuzzies.




Covent Garden
There is just something about those huge sparkling balls (chuckle) and twinkling mistletoe decorations that get me every year, I'm not even mad that they've been the same for several years running now. Whether it's day time or once the sun goes down, it is one of my favourite places to meander and take it all in with a loved one.

Why not share a mulled wine with someone at the crusting pipe and listen to one of the performers, as you sip and snuggle up under a blanket.


add lib photo
christmas dep snap
Carnarby Street


This year they've gone all tropic on us and it is a lot of fun. Palm trees, parrots and colour! Home to the ever beautiful Liberty store with the most photographed flower entrance and my most favourite curated looking shopping destination and in  my opinion one of the best Christmas departments.




The Ritz
Fancy a festive afternoon tea which of coarse happens to have The Ritz price tag attached, but worth every penny if you enjoy your fancy fancy hotel settings and service. I've enjoyed normal afternoon tea here before but for Christmas you get to take a Ritz teddy bear away with you, carols sung as you dine and the gorgeous decorations surrounding you.

Even if that doesn't float your boat, walking around the outside and seeing the iconic decorations really gets me in the festive mood early on and whilst your in the Green Park area...


Whilst also in Greenpark take a wander down Old Bond Street and spot the beautiful shops all done up. Especially everyone's instagram favourites Tiffany and Cartier. Also make sure to check out Burlington Arcades and Fortnum and Masons (staircase shot) because they are always a treat.


Columbia Road
A great place to be any time of the year but as soon as December hits, it's my favourite. The smell of the pine trees, mistletoe hanging, all the green leaves, red berries and lingering scent of mulled wine. Perfect place to pick up some blooms or festive decorations for your table centre piece.



The Winter Forest 
Situated just behind Liverpool street station in Broadgate you will find Christmas trees for as far as the eye can see, twinkling lights and a teepee bar serving food as well as festive tipples. Open all week during the day and night - worth seeing it in both scenarios.



Leadenhall market
A short walk from London Bridge you will find one of my favourite places to visit in the heart of the city. Leadenhall market is only open on week days and will be filled with workers at lunchtime as surrounding areas include Bank and Moorgate. Impressive architecture and attractive at any time of the year but especially so when they erect the Christmas tree and dot the lights all around.

Claridges
Find yourself on a very busy Oxford Street? Well then take a little detour away from the hectic streets and go do a stride by of the very famous hotel to view the beautiful decorations and if you can pop in  they've got a corker of a tree and it's upside down of all things, v. cool. I visited Claridges for a very special birthday afternoon tea last month and it was probably one of my favourites that I have experienced.




Somerset House
Whether you fancy going ice skating or just to watch people attempt it for themselves. I went last year to Hampton Court and that was quite enough struggling and hugging strangers then needs to be repeated - yes I ended up hugging a stranger in an attempt to stay upright... ha. There's plenty to do even if that doesn't tick the boxes for you, Fortnum and Masons has once again taken over the arcade with goodies galore and the very cosy looking lodge where you can enjoy a hot chocolate as the chill sets in outside. 

Now time to warm up with  hot drink after all that sight seeing...

Woodybear
Situated in Marble Arch is this funfair themed winter rooftop bar. I can vouch for the hot gin punch being a bit of a winner, especially on these minus degree weather days!

Get cosy under a blanket (every seat has one, yaaas)  and take a break from all that Christmas shopping on the rooftop lodge.




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