Pick Up a Pumpkin: soup recipe

Today we went pumpkin picking at Cattows Farm, Leicestershire. I picked one to cook and one to carve.

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I made soup with the one to cook, here is my vegan pumpkin soup recipe, perfect as the days get chillier and nights get darker.

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  • 1 pumpkin
  • 1 white onion
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Fresh ginger
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 pints vegetable stock
  1. Pre-heat oven to 240℃
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half through the stalk, scoop out the seeds (save the seeds to roast), then cut each half into chunks
  3. Place onto a baking tray, brush each chunk with rapeseed oil, season with salt and black pepper, then place into the oven for 30 minutes
  4. While the pumpkin is roasting, put a dash of rapeseed oil, chopped onion and ginger in a pan to fry, once the onion has some colour put it on a low heat to simmer for 20 minutes
  5. Scoop out the roasted pumpkin and add to the onions and ginger, then add the vegetable stock, nutmeg, cinnamon and more salt and black pepper to simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes
  6. Finally, blend the soup to a smooth puree

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As mentioned above, save those pumpkin seeds to roast as a tasty topping or snack.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180℃
  2. Scrape the seeds from the pumpkin, clean off all the pulp and give them a rinse
  3. Spread them onto a baking tray, spray with rapeseed oil and season with salt and black pepper (or any flavour you like!), then place into the oven for 10 minutes

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Meaty Impact and Innovations

Lately it seems everyone is talking about meat and the sustainability issues that surround it. So I’m going to join in!

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve wrote about it, earlier this year I tried Veganuary, then for Lent I gave up meat and now I’d class myself as Flexitarian (or whatever new trendy name it’s been given this week). Basically I go days, weeks even without eating meat.

A few nights ago Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped broadcast a special on the innovations that are making meat healthier for us and better for the planet. It’s definitely worth a watch, but if you haven’t got the time, here are some highlights…

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Did you know?

Cows produce more methane than cars, planes and trains combined. They release about 120kg of methane per year. Methane is a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide (CO2). But the negative effect on the climate of methane is 23 times higher than the effect of CO2. 

33% of cereals grown in the UK are used for meat production.

Most of the world’s soy crop ends up in feed for poultry, pork and cows. The expansion of soy to feed the world’s growing demand for meat contributes to deforestation. 

For 2kg of chicken it takes 4.6kg of feed. For 2kg of pork it takes 6kg of feed. And for 2kg of beef it takes 30kg of feed. That is a lot of crop needed for a small amount of meat!

It takes 15,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef but only 1,250 litres for 1kg of wheat.

The innovations for a more ‘sustainable’ meat industry covered were a little bonkers, but it does show that the industry is starting to look at alternative ways in order to protect the planet.

Belgian Super Cows – Apparently these huge muscly cows are bred through natural selection (hmmm) due to an inactive muscle control gene. They produce around 30% more meat than a normal cow and somehow do this through eating the same amount of food as a normal cow.

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Spirulina Algae – Spirulina is an edible microalgae that can be grown in tanks on top of buildings. It’s still new technology but it could be used to replace normal animal feeds freeing up land currently used to grow animal feed to grow human vegetation instead.

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Ostrich Meat – Ostrich’s produce 10 times less methane than cows, they require 3 times less land to graze, can produce 64 tons of meat in a lifetime opposed to a cows 1.72 tons and the water footprint of ostriches is roughly a third of cows.

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If you’re having a BBQ this bank holiday, why not give an ostrich burger a go? Or veggie sausages? My favourite is BBQ’d pineapple. Yum! Whatever you do, have a great long weekend! xxx

Lush Colour Supplement

99% of the year I use make-up that is the palest shade. However sometimes, on those very odd occasions when my skin meets sunshine, I need something a little darker. But because it’s only a small portion of the year that I need a darker shade I begrudge buying a new product.

This is where Lush’s Colour Supplements are little pots of brilliance. Add a smidgen to your moisturiser, foundation or sun cream and you’re sorted!

They come in seven different shades, from Jackie Oates to Dark Brown. If you’re unsure which shade would suit you best, just head into a store and they would be more than happy to match a pot for you.

I’m currently using the Light Pink pot (3rd along), adding a tiny bit to my moisturiser every morning for work and to my foundation when I go out.

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INGREDIENTS: ROSE PETAL (below), SOYA OIL (below), TITANIUM DIOXIDE, RICE BRAN OIL, STEARIC ACID, TALC, GLYCERINE, TRIETHANOLAMINE, CETEARYL ALCOHOL, METHYLPARABEN, PROPYLPARABEN

As always from Lush, the product is not tested on animals and is handmade (thanks Judo) which is great. It’s also light and natural on your skin, doesn’t feel oily or clog your pores. The only negative I would say is that the colour range is not massively inclusive for those with darker skin as the dark brown is not really that dark.

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I’m hoping we get some more sunshine in England so that I can keep using this product, otherwise it will be going back in the make-up bag until the sun reappears next year! Come on British summer!

Natural Shampoo

Converting to a natural shampoo that does not recommend the use of a conditioner around the time of dying my hair made me very nervous. Very nervous indeed.

But I really needn’t of been.

Odylique’s Gentle Herb Shampoo is great!

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It is 100% natural and 70% organic. It is free from animal testing, sulfates, fragrance, artificial preservatives and salt and it comes in a 100% recycled UK-made bottle.

To get the best out of the shampoo I put a couple of pumps in my hands and lather onto my hair and scalp, leave to soak for about 2-3 minutes, then rinse. Leaving the shampoo in gives the hair a chance to absorb the active ingredients. This is what takes away the need for a conditioner and still works on sensitive scalps and dyed hair.

Please be aware that because this shampoo is sulfate free, it does not lather as much as a ‘normal’ shampoo, this does not mean you haven’t used enough.

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INGREDIENTS: ALOE VERA JUICE, COCONUT AND CORN GLUCOSE, COCONUT OIL, CHAMOMILE, NETTLE, HORSETAIL, ROSEMARY, SUNFLOWER, SUGAR CANE, PLANT STABILISERS

My hair is in great condition at the moment, I find a wash now lasts two days instead of one and I’m saving money/creating less waste on not using a conditioner.

Cheers Odylique!

Weekly Dose of Avocado

At least once a week I have avocado. Absolutely love the stuff. I have it in many shapes and forms. For breakfast, dinner or tea. Sometimes in a smoothie, with eggs on toast, in a wrap, with chili con carne or even just to dip some crisps.

Did you know…?

  • They’re are a fruit, and where most fruit is high in sugar, avocado is high in healthy fats (aka monounsaturated oleic acid)
  • They hold a wide variety of nutrients, including 20 different vitamins and minerals
  • They contain more potassium than a banana!

Tonight I’m having my weekly dose in the form of guacamole with poached eggs on toast.

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Here is the guac recipe courtesy of Rob!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ripe large avocado
  • 1/4 large red onion, finely diced
  • 2 beef tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
  • Bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 red chili, finely diced
  • Pinch of salt

METHOD:

  • Mash the avocado up with a fork
  • Add the onion, tomatoes, coriander and chili then mix
  • Season with salt and lime juice, and voila! Done.

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Easy, healthy and scrummy! If you want some more avo-inspo head to @bestofavocado on Instagram.

Summer Essentials

In the UK summer tends to just pop up unexpectedly. Our wardrobes, skin and nasal passages are never fully ready for the sun to shine and pollen to flourish. This year I tried to make sure I was prepared for that odd heat wave and this weekend is the perfect chance to try and test those summer essentials.

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Jason Suncream SPF30

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INGREDIENTS: ZINC OXIDE, TITANIUM DIOXIDE, ORGANIC SUNFLOWER SEED OIL, JOJOBA SEED OIL, ALOE LEAF JUICE, CALENDULA FLOWER EXTRACT, CAMELLIA LEAF EXTRACT and CHAMOMILLA FLOWER EXTRACT, WATER, CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE, DIMETHICONE, ETHYLHEXYL PALMITATE, SORITAN SESQUIOLEATE, GLYCERIN, GLYCERYL ISOSTEARATE, SHEA BUTTER, POLYGLYCERYL3 RICINOLEATE, ALCOHOL, MAGNESIUM SULPHATE, SILICA, SODIUM CHLORIDE, PHENOXYETHANOL, POLYHYDROSTEARIC ACID

Paraben free, no animal testing and containing 6 organic ingredients this spf30 suncream is waterproof and great for sensitive skin. I catch the sun very easily and today I’ve been on a 12km walk in direct sunlight and haven’t burnt one bit. It applies quite thickly but soon soaks in. One gripe I have with this suncream is that is isn’t scented so it doesn’t give off that nostalgic suncream summer smell.

John Masters Organics Sea Mist Sea Salt Spray with Lavender

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INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC CASTOR SEED OIL, SHEA BUTTER, VANILLA FRUIT OIL, ORANGE FLOWER OIL, TANGERINE PEEL OIL, GRAPEFRUIT PEEL OIL, ROSEMARY LEAF EXTRACT AND SUNFLOWER SEED OIL, GLYCERIN, SORBITOL, PANTHENOL, PHYTIC ACID

I’m a very lazy person when it comes to my hair. I like it easy to do and messy. This sea salt spray is great to get that ‘straight out the sea’ – ‘surfer’ look. All you have to do is spray it on nearly dry/dry hair and scrunch. It gives a natural wave with texture. And it smells amazing! The bottles are made from recycled materials, 9 organic ingredients are used and it is paraben and animal testing free.

Weleda Hayfever Remedies

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Hayfever relief oral spray – This vegan oral spray is homeopathic and helps with hayfever symptoms.

Rhinodoron nasal spray – Made from 100% natural ingredients of aloe vera and saline solution rhinodoron works to break down nasal congestion.

These natural medicines both help alleviate the symptoms of hayfever, but only to a certain extent. If you get a mild case of the allergy then these will be great. However if like me you really do suffer, more chemical methods would be recommended.

Fair Squared Razor

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For the majority of the year my legs are unseen, and so therefore untouched by a razor, it can be a hectic moment when it comes to wearing dresses and shorts. The first glimmer of sun I decided to invest in a new pack of razors. Fair Squared produce a range of fairtrade products from shampoo, to razors, to body lotion all in a carbon neutral factory in Germany. I used this razor for the first time this morning before donning a pair of dungarees for the walk. It moisturised and I didn’t butcher myself. Result!

People Tree Summer Staples

Earlier this year I had a massive clear out of my wardrobe, only keeping what I actually wear. Then as soon as the sun came out I realised I didn’t have any tops to go with my summery bottoms.

Red brenton top – made from 100% organic fairtrade cotton at Fusion Clothing in India who create well-made clothing that uses the planet’s resources intelligently, provides safe working conditions, and gives back to communities that manufacture the garments.

Black t-shirt – made from 95% organic cotton at Rajlakshmi Cottom Mills in India who are pioneers in organic garment manufacturing combining high quality tailoring with a fair deal for farmers and workers, whilst supporting local environmental and social projects.

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Today in Derbyshire the sun is certainly shining. It’s my Granda’s birthday so as soon as this blog post is sent I’ll be off out into the garden for a few beers to celebrate. Hope you all enjoy the sunny weather… while it lasts! x

Super Simple Vegan Flapjack

On Sunday I’m hosting a Swap Shop to raise money for Labour Behind the Label (details of the event can be found here) and for the occasion I’m baking a whole load of sweet stuff. One of the easiest pieces, which I’ve just made, is a vegan flapjack.

Here is the recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

METHOD:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and grease a 28cmx18cm baking tray, lining with baking paper
  • Put the spread, brown sugar and golden syrup into a pan on medium heat and mix until the spread and sugar dissolves
  • Remove the pan from the heat, add the porridge oats and sultanas and mix until they are fully coated
  • Press the mixture into the baking tray
  • Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown
  • Let the flapjack cool in the tray for 5 minutes then turn it out from the tray and let it cool on a cooling rack
  • Cut into squares, and voila! Done.

Cheap, easy and super simple to make. The flapjacks can also last for up to a week in a container. Perfect for my Swap Shop. And the crumbly bits off the side, I can enjoy now!

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