Sunday, 13 March 2016

Aine Carlin - The New Vegan Book Review* & Gluten Free Orange Polenta Cake Recipe!

Aine Carlin The New Vegan Recipe Book

Next month marks my two year vegan-versary and since switching to a plant-based diet I don't think we have had the exact same meal more than two or three times, and that's if we really like it. Back when I was vegetarian I would eat the same things each week; lasagne, some sort of pasta bake, pizza, beige stodge covered in cheese. When I tell people I'm vegan I'm often met with the same response; "but what do you actually eat? Don't you get bored of salad?" Errrrr, no, what are you even talking about? Vegan cooking encourages experimentation. Veggies, grains, legumes, herbs, spices - all so tasty and versatile.

I admit, if you're just starting out on your vegan journey, it can be hard to think of a place to start. When we first went vegan we bought a good five or six recipe books to spark off ideas and ensure we always had somewhere to turn if we were feeling a bit uninspired.

One of my favourites was Keep It Vegan by Aine Carlin, which includes 100 easy, plant-based recipes. What I liked most about it was that it was really simple, straightforward and easy to follow. Aine's recipes don't require hundreds of ingredients or hours of prep - they're simple, tasty and healthy.

So when I heard Aine was releasing a new book, The New Vegan, I had high hopes!

I was sent a copy of the book by the lovely people at the Vegan Lifestyle Association and Kyle Books, and it came in pretty handy recently when I needed to bake a cake for my grandma's 80th birthday.

Gluten Free Orange Polenta Cake

Gluten-Free Orange Polenta Cake
(Adapted from Aine's recipe as it also had to suit my 11-year-old cousin who isn't keen on nuts!)
120g polenta
80g ground almonds
100g gram flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Zest & juice of two oranges (blood oranges are ideal if you can get your hands on them)
100ml oil (olive oil is best)
100ml agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
100ml soya yogurt (plain)

For the frosting
100ml agave nectar
150g Dairy-free 'butter' (I used Soya Pure)
Icing sugar (as much as needed to reach desired consistency)
Juice & zest of half an orange

1. Preheat the oven to 170C / gas mark 3 and grease and line a 15cm cake tin.

2. Mix the polenta, ground almonds, gram flour and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. Stir through the orange zest to ensure it is evenly distributed.

3. In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk together the oil, orange juice, agave, orange extract and yogurt.

4. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the oil and orange juice mixture. Fold gently and transfer to the cake tin.

5. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Check whether the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer to see if it comes out clean.

6. Once baked, leave to cool completely on a wire rack before covering with the frosting.

7. To make the frosting, mix the spread, agave and orange juice together, and add the icing sugar a spoonful at a time, mixing well in between each spoonful until you achieve the desired consistency.

8. Spread the frosting all over the cooled cake and decorate with orange peel or pistachios.

Gluten Free Orange Polenta Cake

Alongside recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, the book includes a ton of other useful information, such as some of the main reasons for going vegan, essential vegan nutrients, tips for eating out and what to tell people when you go vegan. There are even recipes for vegan beauty products like face and hair masks. It really is a lovely compendium of information for new vegans, and something I wish I'd had when I first made the switch. The photography is vibrant and exciting, showcasing vegan food at its very best - healthy, simple and delicious.

You can pick up Aine Carlin's The New Vegan at Amazon.co.uk here.

Emily xo

Polite note: This review has been organised by the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION [https://veganlifestyleassoc.com]. It has not been paid for and the copy of the book I received was sent free of charge. This is my genuine and unbiased review of the book.
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