Veganuary is already in full swing, and a great initiative people are committing to. Veganuary encourages people to dedicate their palettes to a full vegan diet for the month of January and in hope of people supporting a more plant based diet. This can be a challenge for those who heavily rely on animal products; however an excellent opportunity to explore new ways of eating and discovering new forms of plant based proteins. This type of eating is easy to commit to and pursue as most restaurants offer animal-free alternatives to their menu. We are quite passionate about this eating initiative, and know that it can be easily adopted. We wanted to share a few cool restaurants that will be offering all the delicious delights of animal- free meals and we share a quick recipe for you to try (possibly even to convert you)!
The Gate is a popular vegetarian restaurant amongst Londoners, and their offering of Vegan dishes are enough to convert you for longer than Veganuary. There are three sites under this name and we think trying their vegan Sunday roast is well worth it.
Mildreds first opened their doors in 1988, and since then has been a popular destination for vegetarians. Their use of fresh produce and culinary creativity is what has put them on the food map. Vegan and vegetarian dishes are offered.
The name in itself is fairly genius. Farmacy in Westbourne Grove offers nourishing vegetarian and vegan dishes. The focus of a plant based diet is used throughout the menu, even their cocktails experiment with a variety of unique plants. We love the innovation behind this eatery. Who even needs animal products?
The new kid on the block, and definitely one not to forget. Wulf & Lamb are fully dedicated plant based restaurant, and their dishes creatively use plants in all sorts of ways to form meal masterpieces. Dishes like scrambled ackee with herb-roasted cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and peppers with toasted sourdough and moky chilli of spiced mushrooms, lentils and kidney beans on basmati herb rice with cashew sour cream, lime and coriander cress make choosing the vegan way so easy.
One of our favourite vegan recipes to date is courtesy of the Minimalist Baker:
Vegan Cheesecake Bites
1 cup packed (200 g) pitted dates*
1 cup (120 g) raw walnuts
1 1/2 cups (180 g) raw cashews, quick-soaked*
1 large lemon, juiced (scant 1/4 cup or 50 ml)
1/3 cup (80 g) coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (150 ml) full-fat coconut milk (see instructions for note)
1/2 cup (120 ml) agave nectar or maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
FLAVOR ADD-INS optional
2 Tbsp (32 g) salted natural peanut butter
1/4 cup (37 g) wild blueberries (fresh or frozen)
3 Tbsp bourbon caramel sauce
-Add dates to a food processor and blend until small bits remain and it forms into a ball. Remove and set aside.
-Next add nuts and process into a meal. Then add dates back in and blend until a loose dough forms – it should stick together when you squeeze a bit between your fingers. If it’s too dry, add a few more dates through the spout while processing. If too wet, add more almond or walnut meal. Optional: add a pinch of salt to taste.
-Lightly grease a standard, 12 slot muffin tin. To make removing the cheesecakes easier, cut strips of parchment paper and lay them in the slots. This creates little tabs that makes removing them easier to pop out once frozen.
-Next scoop in heaping 1 Tbsp amounts of crust and press with fingers. To pack it down, use a small glass or the back of a spoon to compact it and really press it down. I found the bottom of a glass works well. If it sticks, separate the crust and the glass with a small piece of parchment. Set in freezer to firm up.
-Add all filling ingredients to a blender and mix until very smooth. For the coconut milk, I like to scoop the “cream” off the top because it provides a richer texture. But if yours is already all mixed together, just add it in as is.
-You don’t need a Vitamix for this recipe, just a quality blender. I mixed mine for 1 minute, then “liquified” or “pureed” it until silky smooth. If it won’t come together, add a touch more lemon juice or agave or a splash more coconut milk liquid as the liquid should help it blend better.
-Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. If adding peanut butter, add to the blender and mix until thoroughly combined. If flavoring with blueberry or caramel, wait and swirl on top of plain cheesecakes (optional).
-Divide filling evenly among the muffin tins. Tap a few times to release any air bubbles, then cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard – about 4-6 hours.
-Once set, remove by tugging on the tabs or loosening them with a butter knife. They should pop right out. Our favorite way to devour these was with a little more caramel and a touch of coconut whipped cream. But they’re perfect as is! Keep in the freezer for up to 1-2 weeks.
Optional: You can set them out for 10 minutes before serving to soften, but I liked them frozen as well.