RECIPE: BBQ Slow Cooked Sweet Potato | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 4
How much does it cost? This BBQ slow cooked sweet potato recipe cost me less than 50p per person
What are the benefits? This dish is an amazing vegan alternative, easily provides two of your five a day, and is very low in fat.


When I ate meat, one of my absolute favourite things to order was a succulent serving of smokey BBQ pulled pork. Tender, falling apart and slathered in sauce, I’d pile that stuff into or on top of pretty much anything!

Obviously that’s a no-go these days, but I had to find a substitute to fill that piggy-shaped hole in my life 🐷 I’ve tried pulled aubergine, which is pretty tasty – you can check out the recipe here – but its unique texture didn’t quite fool my brain (or tummy) into thinking pulled pork was back on the menu.

I continued searching for more alternatives to try and, guys, I don’t want to be overdramatic here; but I think I’ve found the holy grail of pulled pork substitutes.

Who knew grated sweet potato would soak up that rich, sweet, tangy taste of BBQ sauce so well?! Slow cooked for hours until ludicrously soft, it just falls to pieces and is simply divine. It’s also made totally from vegetables so it’s full of crazy health benefits too!

Just a little tip before you go ahead and try this recipe: don’t be afraid to experiment with sauces! A classic BBQ sauce will do just fine, but I used a combination – from sweet whiskey to bourbon to steakhouse, there are so many variations to try – to create my perfect flavour.


INGREDIENTS
4 Sweet Potatoes, Peeled and Grated
2 Large Bell Peppers, Sliced
2 Onions, Sliced
1 tbsp American Mustard
4 tbsp BBQ Sauce
1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 Vegetable Stock Cube
1 Mug of Water

SEASONING
With this recipe it couldn’t be easier to season – you just chuck it all in the pot and go! I used a good helping of garlic (dried or fresh, whatever you have), smoked paprika, cumin, dried chilli flakes, black pepper and salt. Remember, you’re relying on vegetables and store-bought sauces here, so you want to inject as much flavour as possible.

Slow cooker full of bbq sweet potato
Slow cooker full of bbq sweet potato

HOW TO MAKE BBQ SLOW COOKED SWEET POTATO

1. Grate the sweet potato into your slow cooker (watch out for your fingers!) and throw in the onions and peppers too. If you don’t have a slow cooker or aren’t using one for this recipe, you can pretty much follow the same steps using a large pan on the hob and cooking on a medium heat for around 30 minutes.

2. Add the mustard, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, stock cube, water and seasoning, and leave according to your slow cooker timings. I left mine on the high heat setting for 5 hours and it was absolutely fine, but your slow cooker manual will tell you how best to cook yours.

3. Serve, and enjoy!


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Slow cooked BBQ sweet potato
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“Accidentally” Vegan Products I Found in My Kitchen | #ThisGirlEats

We all know that reducing the amount of animal products we eat is going to help the planet, right?

It means less greenhouse gasses, more land freed up by less animal agriculture, more grain and safe, clean water that can be used for human consumption, and less deforestation.

I’m not vegan, so I’m not going to preach about how we should all go vegan overnight. Going vegan is great, and definitely something we should all at least consider working towards. My diet is vegetarian though, but it took me a HELL of a long time to get there, so it’s definitely a case of taking baby steps in this household.

Point is, we could all probably reduce our meat and dairy consumption, but the word “vegan” scares people. I think it conjures up ideas of being expensive, health obsessed, inaccessible, too far out of the comfort zone – the same ideas that, just a few years ago, would’ve scared me too!

But, in reality, our kitchens are probably all full of foods that are “accidentally” vegan – i.e. you didn’t go out of your way to buy any special vegan alternatives, they’re just everyday products. Obvious examples are fruit and veg, of course, but there are so many more!

I had the briefest root around my kitchen, grabbed some of the most common products I use all the time and snapped a couple of photos to dispel the negative, scary connotations around vegan food.

“It’s expensive!” – as you can see, a lot of these items are value brand, which is often the cheapest on the shelves. Things like chopped tomatoes, passata and kidney beans cost around 30p, give or take a few pence, and can usually make up a meal for four.

“It’s just healthy food!” – being vegan cuts out a lot of fatty foods, but that doesn’t mean being vegan is always super healthy! I’m sure you’ve noticed the jam, peanut butter, ready salted crisps and french fries in this photo.

“It’s too inaccessible!” – some of it can be. But pretty much everything here can be found in most major supermarkets. Things like tins of soup and tortilla wraps (hidden at the back) are versatile and relatively easy to prepare, cook, eat and use up.

“It’s all too weird and way out of my comfort zone!” – I don’t know about you, but the likes of tomato ketchup, baked beans and dried pasta are very much in my comfort zone!

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In this photo you’ll find a packet of crisps, apples, satsumas, passata, kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, tomato ketchup, peanut butter, strawberry jam, tomato soup, vegetable soup, tortilla wraps, wholewheat pasta, onion gravy and frozen french fries.

I’m pretty sure there’s loads more in my kitchen – maybe you’ll be surprised how many “accidentally vegan” products are in your own homes. See, they’re not so scary after all!

RECIPE: Five Bean Chilli | #ThisGirlEats

Chilli was probably the first meal I learnt to cook from scratch and really “perfected” (there’s always room for improvement, but my chilli is pretty damn good I’ll be honest) and it’s still my favourite home cooked meal. 🌶️

It started with beef mince, then I moved onto using Quorn or mince alternatives to experiment with different versions of my most cherished recipe. I fancied trying something new, so I thought I’d have a go at making a bean chilli which bursts with colour, flavour and texture, as well as being an excellent choice for vegetarian or vegan meals.

You could make this recipe even easier by just buying a couple of tins of mixed beans rather than buying each individually – this will shrink both the cost and ingredient list – but I prefer choosing which beans go into my chilli and having the option to chop and change each time I make it.

Beans are honestly so, so good for you. First off they count as one of your ‘Five A Day’ so, along with the carrot, onion, pepper and chopped tomatoes, you’re well on your way with this recipe! Beans also help with heart health, are a good source of protein and fibre, and keep you fuller for longer. They’re cheap, too, so make a great base for eating on a budget.

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So, this is how I did it…
(Serves 4)

1. Heat up a large pan with a touch of oil (or some light cooking spray) and gently fry the onion and carrot on a low heat for 10 minutes.

2. Pretty much everything else goes in once the carrot and onion have softened. Add all of the beans (make sure you drain the ones in water), chopped tomatoes, chopped pepper, a crumbled stock cube, tomato puree and the seasoning.

3. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, giving the flavours a chance to develop.

4. Serve with a jacket potato, rice, flatbreads, whatever you fancy! 🍚

The prices below are the cheapest I could find when doing a comparison and are accurate at the time of publishing!

INGREDIENTS
1/2 Tin of Baked BeansReduced Sugar & Salt Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce – 30p – Sainsbury’s 
Tin of Cannellini BeansCannellini Beans in Water – 42p – ASDA
Tin of Black Eye BeansBlack Eye Beans in Water – 55p – ASDA
Tin of Pinto BeansPinto Beans in Water – 55p – ASDA
200g Tin of Kidney Beans in Chilli SauceChilli Beans in Chilli Sauce – 40p – ASDA
Tin of Chopped TomatoesSmartprice Chopped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice – 29p – ASDA
1 Carrot, ChoppedCarrots, Loose – 6p – Tesco
1 Onion, ChoppedGrower’s Selection Onions by Weight – 15p – ASDA
1 Bell Pepper, ChoppedRed Pepper – 41p – Tesco
Vegetable Stock CubeStock Cubes, Vegetable – 39p – ASDA
1tsp Tomato PureeDouble Concentrated Tomato Puree – 37p – ASDA

SEASONING
When you start frying off the vegetables, throw in some dried garlic flakes along with them. Then, once you’ve added the beans and tomatoes, season with a generous helping of paprika and cumin, a pinch of dried chilli flakes and salt and pepper to taste.

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Being Vegan is Awesome – But You Don’t Have to Go ‘All The Way’ to Make a Difference! | #ThisGirlEats

My friends have told me the many ethical, health and environmental reasons that they did away with animal products. I’ll be honest, none of it really stuck – I respected their views and was definitely interested, but carried on tucking into my chicken club sandwich as I nodded along. Sorry guys.

For me, the only thing that really hit home was watching Cowspiracy – for the first time ever, I really started to think about the ethics of meat and dairy.

Below are just a few Cowspiracy facts that really opened my eyes.

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cowspiracy.com

I want to put it out there right now – I’m NOT vegan. I’m not vegetarian. Sadly, even with these mind-boggling facts, I’m not brave enough to make the move right now – but that’s the point. I’m writing this as someone who eats meat but would still like to start making positive changes when it comes to this whole issue, at least until I get the guts to make a heavier commitment.

Perhaps I’m not ready for a full-on transformation. But after watching the documentary, my boyfriend and I decided we could definitely shake up our diets a bit – we did a few really simple things that, I hope, make a difference when it comes to the staggering consumption of animal products. And here they are…

 

1. The thought of drinking cow’s milk made us feel a little queasy, so we decided to swap to alternatives – hazelnut and oat milks are yummy, almond milk is great in recipes, and soya milk can be bought super cheap. 🥛

2. We used to buy eggs every week and almost always throw them away because we hadn’t managed to use them up – so we simply stopped! I can’t remember the last time we bought eggs, so that’s a lot less waste.

3. Our first attempt at cutting down on meat was to only eat one meaty meal a day – for example, bacon sandwiches for breakfast meant we wouldn’t eat meat for the rest of the day. If we planned pepperoni pizza for dinner, we’d have a veggie lunch. It’s easy, really.

4. What started out as a way to make our food shop cheaper actually turned into a conscious ethical decision – all our weekday meals are now veggie (vegan on a good day!) and we only let our carnivorous side out on weekends, or when we’re ordering in / buying out.

 

I really do try to make better choices. I try to buy cheese and tomato pizza instead of meat feast 🍕 order mixed bean instead of chilli con carne 🌶️ choose mushroom tagliatelle instead of lasagne 🍝. I’ve gone from eating ham sandwiches every lunchtime to eating meat twice, maybe three times, a week. It’s not perfect – but it’s better!

make good choices
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I’m definitely not one to preach about what you “should or shouldn’t” eat. Like, at all. I just want to show anyone who is reconsidering how they consume animal products that yeah, going vegetarian or vegan is scary, especially if it’s an alien concept. But you don’t have to go cold turkey (excuse the pun)! If we all make little changes, just try to cut down or choose alternatives every once in a while, the impact really could be huge.

Think about it.

RECIPE: Vegan Chilli Dogs | #ThisGirlEats

Serves 2  less than £1.50                                        veganhigh protein3 of 5

I always feel a bit childish going to a restaurant and ordering a hot dog but, man, they’re just so delicious! Chilli dogs are my absolute favourite; sausages topped with messy, spicy chilli spilling out of the bun with every bite… Okay, I need stop, I’m salivating here.

#ThisGirlEats finds healthy alternatives to my most loved foods and, as I’m sure you know, chilli dogs are usually made with very fatty meats. This version cuts that fat down with vegan sausages and a hearty bean chilli, but holds onto a super satisfying flavour.

I think the word “vegan” freaks people out sometimes, conjuring up ideas of scary new ingredients and complex cooking, things we don’t always understand. But, as you can see here, it doesn’t have to be like that! This recipe is so easy, and it all starts with frozen sausages – you can’t get much simpler than that!

american dad
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INGREDIENTS
4 Vegan Sausages
4 Hot Dog Rolls
1/2 Tin of Mixed Beans
1/2 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1/2 Medium Carrot, Sliced
1 Medium Onion, Sliced
1 Bell Pepper, Sliced

SEASONING
Every chilli needs a kick and this is no exception! Once you’ve added the chopped tomatoes to the pan, top it up with dried garlic flakes, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, tomato puree, salt, pepper and a sprinkling of chilli flakes for spice.


So, this is how I did it…

1. Cook the sausages according to packet instructions – the Linda McCartney ones I’ve used here (and are SERIOUSLY yummy!) take 15 minutes on 180°C, but double check the timings for other brands.

2. While the sausages cook, heat a frying pan with a small drop of oil or a spritz of cooking spray and fry off the onions and carrots for a couple of minutes.

3. Throw in the bell pepper and tinned tomatoes, season well and cook on a medium-high heat for around 10 minutes – make sure it doesn’t start to stick!

4. Empty the tin of mixed beans into the pan and simmer on a low heat for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

5. Serve up the sausages in hot dog rolls, top with the bean chilli and get messy!

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