Ladies, picture the scene and men, do your best:
Pre-vegan, pre-menstrual, pretty hungry and haven’t the patience and/or cannot sum up the will to knock up a plate of comforting goodness.
“Where are the crisps?”
“Hello the Fridge!”
I was deliriously happy to find out that I didn’t have to say goodbye to all of my fried potato friends – this list from PETA is very handy – because they are a source of instant mouth party when the mind is willing but the body can’t be bothered.
Forages in the fridge would often to be based around the quest for cheese and the classic snack of choice, cheese on toast with a splash of Worcestershire sauce, was dooable at a push. Of course, non-dairy cheese is delicious but I like to try and use it a little more sparingly, particularly as some of the ones I love are a bit more expensive than the dairy version used to be. On top of that, I have to drive between 20 minutes (Axminster or Bridport) to an hour (Exeter) to replace it; my favourite of the moment is Vegusto Piquant, oh my word that’s damned fine non-cheese…
The fridge has a whole new job description now my husband and I are vegan and there are always assorted glass containers full of hummus, roasted veg, couscous, sprouting seeds, pasta surprise, caramelised garlic and onion and so on. They are vital component parts to any urgently required snack and of course, hummus ranks high with five stars for it’s easily disguisable, finger-dipping goodness, plus you can eat it as an accompaniment to anything; a toastie, sprouting seeds and salad dressing (olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a splash of agave syrup), spiralised carrot and beetroot, olives and sun-dried toms, the list goes on.
I feel as though I’ve finally settled into a nice circular holding pattern when it comes to planning what’s on the menu for the next 24-48 hours, which is bizarre because I plan barely anything else. I know when the organic veg box is coming and I know what’s going to be in it, which is great and I’ll often steer towards using up any tired veggies in a vat of curry or some such. In the freezer, I have a very satisfying selection of sausages, patties, things in pastry, bean based blobs, falafels and so on and almost everything cooks in 20ish minutes on the universal temperature for all things, 180 degrees.
However, I think the simple secret to swiftly consuming food that satisfies you on every level whatever your dietary persuasion, is variety. Having a hot sausage baguette with coriander and paprika hummus, caramelised onions sprinkled liberally on and tomato sauce or tofu mustard mayonnaise, is great and it ticks all the boxes for me. Ideally, you have to have the majority of those things ready and waiting to make it all come together quickly when the synapses in your brain say, if you don’t eat something soon, you run the risk of nomming all the crisps for the kids lunch boxes. Any wise parent knows this action carries a whole set of consequences, especially when children are up to their ears in exams; crisps are good emergency revision food too.
The healthy fridge thing doesn’t happen by magic, you have to put a bit of effort and energy in, but if you take one thing you use frequently in lots of dishes, say roasted veg, and you make a good batch up and store it, you’re more than half way towards having so many other dishes ready in a flash. Hummus lasts for days (yeah right, not in this house). All right, theoretically, hummus lasts for days and if you start off with 1 cup of dried peas, by the time you’ve soaked them overnight, pressure cooked them and added all the other ingredients (recipe coming soon I promise) you end up with a dish of something almost three times the size of the raw peas you started with – that can take you a long way through the week, but don’t leave it too long, or it’ll walk it’s preservative-free ass out of the fridge.
Being a bit more organised really helps and I’m the first to admit I’m useless at it, but I’m listening to my body far more these days and my tummy is guiding me. I have never, ever eaten such a variety of seeds, beans, pulses, nuts, veg, sprouts and more besides and I am in vegan belly heaven.
PS: As I cannot tell if my periods are super late these days, or have arrived incredibly early, I guess I must be starting the menopause. I feel the need to pen a piece on whether being vegan eases that journey and if you have any nuggets of knowledge to impart, I’d love to hear from you. Please drop me a line xx