Summertime and the Vegans are Easy, Inspiring and Quite Delicious!


I have had the most delightful visitors for the past week: author, story-teller, gardener, all round inspiring person, Waiheke Islander Tanya Batt and her long time musical partner in Story, New Zealander Craig Debham, currently based in Prague. I had just got back from a week of writing at Windmill Cottages, near Hansel in South Devon so words were already swirling in my head as were homegrown veggies, edible flowers, wonderful food (prepared by myself and my fellow writers) and new recipes were definitely on my mind! While in Devon we writers plucked all manner of gorgeous unsprayed, unsullied flowers to lace our salads: fuschia, borage, marigold, nasturtiums, pansies, pinks and chive flowers to add to our freshly cut salad leaves (see below)! We had a glorious time celebrating both food and words and I was ready to cook for my guests. Tanya is vegan and travels with her own kit of emergency vegan food for as we have discovered, pickings can be lean while traveling. She and Craig became my willing guinea pigs in between their very wonderful story shows which I catered for….
pretty salad



We reflected how it is absolutely possible it is to cater an event in an entirely vegan way using loads of fruit, veggies, and flowers and the punters went  mad for it!

It all was gobbled up, and nary a fizzy drink or plastic bottle in sight. This is what I made: Mini Morning Glory Cakelettes with coconut passionfruit frosting, filo and vegan pastry soy sausage rolls, vegan scones (used coconut oil to rub in, instead of butter) vegan ANZACS biscuits using coconut again. Our drinks were homemade Strawberry Iced Tea and Lemon/Limonade.  It looked a treat and franky it was she wrote in a modest sort of way!


prepping for story time!

We were fairly busy all week so I had to make some very quick vegan dishes. Here’s two of them: the first is my quick vegan hotcakes. These are as easy as pie, and can be whipped up for a quick week-day breakfast. Serve with plenty of fruit, roasted almonds and maple syrup.

vegan hotcakes

Vegan Hotcakes for 4

Sift into a large bowl, 2 cups of spelt flower (I got mine from Ekoplaza). Add in….

2 tsps of baking powder

a pinch of salt

a tsp of nutmeg or cinnamon or mix the two

Add in one grated apple and a mashed banana, the older and the ugliest you have! Bruised apples are entirely acceptable

Add in 2-3 tablespoons of oil. I used a rice bran oil, could use melted coconut cooking oil

Can add some muesli, granola, grated dry coconut if you want.

Add at least a cup of nut milk: almond, or rice or a mix of coconut and rice milk. We are very keen on the new Provamel Rice and coconut milk for cooking and using with cereals.

Mix to a slightly liquidly consistency. Do not overmix! You need to put scoops onto a hot griddle or onto a non-stick fry-pan. Make yours big or small but do use coconut oil to cook them in, either the “geurloos” (without the coconut flavour)  or the one that tastes of coconut. I love coconut so prefer that! Turn the hotcakes when you see bubbles begin to form on the uncooked side. Do use a good amount of coconut or rice bran oil or they will stick!


Date and Nut Burgers

These are based on my friend Jo Parfitt’s recipe from her Date Cookbook, but I have made mine with a ready made nut or falafel burger mix. As in all of my recipes use your favourite herbs, spices and flavourings. So far, everyone has liked these simple burgers, served with char-grilled red onion rings, beetroot, chutney, salad leaves and a good vegan mayo. The very best we have tasted this far, is the GranoVita Mayola, a vegan mayonnaise sweetened with apple juice which we purchased in the UK at Holland & Barrett.


Put the Nut burger mix (we used the Eko plaza’s Notenburger mix) and these ingredients into a food processor. Each burger mix will ask you to add in some liquid. This one uses 400 mls of water but do check the packet instructions.

Fresh herbs such as chives, coriander, parsley and mint.

A good cupful of mixed nuts, roasted or unroasted

8- 10 pitted dates

1 tsp of soy sauce

1 tsp of Thai chili sauce or one small chili pepper, de-seeded

1 tablespoon of tomato or some home-made tomato sauce

You may need to add in more liquid – water or tomatoes – to make it a fairly dense consistency. Taste for seasoning.

Shape into burgers and dust with flour or semolina and fry in olive oil carefully or they will burn. Serve with loads of salad, some hummus, chutney or make a burger in a bun. Great on the way food!

Last but so not least. I have been using a date and onion dressing for all my salads lately. It was given to me by my nephew Matt and I am happier than 3 things in a happy bag! Goes very well in a Quinoa, lentil and bulgar salad…

Date Dressing

Chop 4 dates very finely after removing the pit. Add in half a cup of rice vinegar or a some pre-made sushi dressing. Add in 2 tbsps olive oil, a squeeze of lemon or lime and some finely chopped red onion. Season with a little salt and pepper. Can add some sustainable palm sugar if you think too sharp. The longer you leave it the better it is. Works nicely with giant couscous as below…..


large cous cous


More info about Tanya Batt – Hire her if she is in your neck of the story woods, wouldn’t miss her for the world! And if you are lucky enough to see her, and you like slightly frightening stories ask for one about the evil possum!

Watermill Cottages – I can fully recommend!

Craig Debham’s New Zealand Band is

Jo Parfitt, publisher and writer –

Quick recipes from me on  the My School lunchbox facebook page, please like it and join me!





Vegan Dishes


beluga lentils

Vegan with a Vengeance!

I’ve been cooking vegetarian food for many many years. Although, I can always, always, learn more, I can usually put together a fairy tasty meal in a few, well maybe 20 minutes. However, I have been relying fairly heavily on eggs, cheese, and other dairy products, but no more, as we now have a vegan in the family. And she is deadly serious and for our planets sake I admire her tenacity and determination. We all know that the meat, dairy and fish industries are putting untold pressure on our fragile environment as are the now “year round produce” available in our supermarkets. Raspberries, strawberries and mangos whenever we so desire and yes, although I try never to shop in regular supermarkets, I too am guilty of purchasing out of season fruits and veggies! Oh, the greed of us human beings.

So, so much goes to waste everywhere, something that a local organization here in The Hague (DHiT) is trying to do something about by distributing slightly blemished fruit and veggies to the public at a very reduced rate. More on them and the scheme later.

For now though each recipe and packet is checked for eggs, dairy or honey –  a sandwich with dubious mayonnaise will be rejected outright as will most pastas. So, of course experiments were in order. Here are some of the ones we really liked. What’s important is to have some good oil/fats, and proteins in each dish. Vegan proteins? Are there any? Well, yes, loads………

First and foremost, yes folks, veggies contain protein. One cup of cooked spinach contains about 7 grams of protein, now there’s a relief for you spinach lovers! But there is also nut butters: cashew, almond, and peanut butter will give you 4 grams per tablespoon approximately. We have also been using a lot of Quinoa, easy to cook and great to put into salads and casseroles. Tofu is a standby and we’ve been buying the organic tofu from Ekoplaza. We particularly like the the olive stuffed tofu there which is fantastic in the grill pan and tossed into salads, sandwiches and wraps. Lastly, we are using beans and lentils like there is no tomorrow. They are our very bestest friends! We love em because 1 cup of cooked chickpeas yields a wonderful 14.5 g of protein (sources self so chickpeas forever.

Here’s a basic salad recipe which can be adapted in many ways. The soaked date dressing lifts any salad, and will taste lovely even if you think you are not keen on dates, like me and my kids. Just chop those dates very, very finely!

Beluga Lentil Salad

serves 2 at least

1 cup of Beluga lentils (dark black shiny lentils resembling caviar of course)

half a cup of red quinoa

1 small onion, chopped

cumin seeds

a good vegan stock, made up with 2 cups of boiling water

pomegranate seeds, fresh mint, flat leafed parsley, coriander.

dressing: 4 chopped dates,  half a cup of rice vinegar, olive oil, lime or lemon and a little palm sugar ( I am using the Aernga Palm sugar from the Ekoplaza which claims not to involved in that hideous deforestation. It supports the Masarang foundation and is only grown in mixed forests – but if anyone knows more about this, let me know please.)

Fry a small diced onion in a heavy based pot in a little olive oil.Add 1 cup of lentils with some cumin seeds and 2 cups of a good stock. Add in half a cup of red quinoa. Boil gently until lentils are tender to the bite (about 15 mins). Make sure it doesn’t burn but do drain any extra water off if any when the pulses are tender. Set aside until cool. Add in pomegranate seeds, chopped mint, coriander, and/or flat leafed parsley after it cools. Can add in extra bulgar at the boiling stage!

Make the dressing with finely chopped dates soaked in rice vinegar, a little oil, lime or lemon juice and some dark brown sugar. Mix and set aside. Can add some pomegranate syrup as well for extra flavour.

Add everything together. Taste for the right combo of sweet, sour and salty.  Also can add the olive tofu, fried in the grill for a few minutes on each side.

You can add in fried paneer, or some halloumi, or feta if you are not VEGAN! Garnish with herbs and edible flowers and enjoy.

Serve this with flatbreads and maybe some homemade hummus, a few salad leaves and you will be quids in for protein, fibre and taste!!!

I am still doing the Pop Up Cake Cafe at The Barbershop and try to include a vegan baked option everyday that I am there, Wed, Fri and Sats. More experimentation is needed but I find that the Morning Glory Muffin recipe adapts well to the No Egg substitute. And they have proved popular. Offering locals an alternative style of  “more healthy” baked goods has been a huge learning curve and I continue to learn. What I have found is that most humans are looking for a creamy looking cupcake thing which is just the sort of cake we were trying to avoid. So I have been making a vegan frosting with soy yoghurt, loads of coconut, minimal icing sugar or a bit of agave and those lovely freeze dried New Zealand powders my dear sis sent me: mango and passionfruit. They make a lovely icing on top of the morning glorys! Crumbles are easy as well, using melted coconut oil just as you would use a butter, mixed with my banana bread granola, extra oats, coconut and maple syrup. That’s it for now, pop in and see me at The Barbershop & Co and do look at to see what’s going on with local food, gardening, relearning old skills such as preserving and more. A lovely group of people indeed and their work is just what we need. First Barbershop & Co shared kitchen workshop has a date and a title. We are running a Sushi Made Simple workshop on May 31st at 15.00 to 18.00. Message me via My School Lunchbox on facebook to reserve your place.

muffins pear and pineapple


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 698 other followers

RSS my school lunch blog


Sharing inspiration, questions, insights, observations, recipies and more from my life and my work with yoga, nutrition and personal training


Places to go, people to meet.....

Midnight brambling

Lia Leendertz's gardening blog

isobel buiter

word & image

Emily Smith Pearce

Children's Author, Maker of Stuff, Less-Meatarian

The Singing Warrior

finding happiness after a past filled with pain


taking the stress out of lunch boxes and learning about food