Sweet potato and lentil (vegan) soup

Here is a nice warming soup for the whole family to enjoy. It's vegan but feel free to add bacon bits or cheese if you fancy.

It's cheap and cheerful, healthy, colourful and tasty.

All you need are some sweet potatoes, an onion, vegetable stock (a stock cube is fine), green lentils and some oil.

First chop the onion, I add some garlic too, then fry that until soft in the oil (I used coconut oil)
then pop half a cup of green lentils into another pan to boil in about 2 cups of water.

Peel and dice the sweet potato, add it to the softened onion, add a pint and a half of vegetable stock and let it simmer in a lidded pan.

Once the potato is soft, blend it until it's smooth (a cheap stick blender is perfect for this)  then add the lentils.

I like to serve mine with cheese, because while my daughter is a vegan, I'm not - I think crispy bacon would be good with this too. Otherwise, sprinkle with chilli flakes and serve. Yum.

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A Carnivore's Guide to Living with a Vegan

Remember how cool I was when my daughter came out as gay? Well, after all, what changes? Nothing much, different choices in Valentine's day card purchases, but that's about it.  But when Raffy came out as vegan..well that's a whole new ball game!

When I, a confirmed omnivore favouring bacon and steak above almost any other food except cheese, was told by my daughter that her moving toward vegetarianism, and her lifelong loathing of cheese had taken the dark turn into the land of the vegan, I was stunned.

Raffy is 18 but she still lives with us, I'm still her mum, and I still have to ensure she eats well and we buy foods she likes (did I mention teens are as fussy as toddlers?)

So I set her the task of finding foods that
  • are cheap
  • are easy to make
  • are easy to find in shops
  • she liked
This was no mean task as it turned out. But here we are a few weeks in and she remains alive. I am still relatively sane and we all seem to be eating a bit more healthily (I'm still eating bacon and cheese sandwiches, fear not)

Our larder now carries a few extra 'staples' along with bread and baked beans. We are no longer restocking up on tuna, tinned chilli and most biscuits, even some crisps have had to be refused larder entry. But on the plus side we now have lentils (red and green) tins of chick peas, tins of mixed beans, tins of butter beans and lots of rice. We also have vegan gnocchi, pasta and peanut butter.

I found several websites listing 'accidentally vegan' foods, one even specialising in vegan snacks, perfect for a teen that constantly raids the larder bewteen meals. So far a favourite savoury snack is Yushoi pea snacks, and on the sweet menu Aldi Paleo bars and several other fruit bars in their Wholefoods range

Maybe if you are a stickler you would eschew foods that say "may contain ..." but we haven't gone quite that far, if it's not in the ingredients, it's good to go.

So we are still enjoying Jus-Roll croissants, Party Ring biscuits and Biscoff Lotus biscuits and spread. Food is being cooked in vegetable oil or coconut oil and many a chili falafel wrap is being consumed. I'm hoping to add a few vegan family recipes to the blog soon, because many are really nice, I mean, not bacon nice, but nice...and I guess you could always add cheese or bacon. I often add grated cheese to my vegan pasta after serving. (did you know you can get vegan pesto? I was far too excited about that)

The main pain in the butt is that we have to buy separate milk (Raffy favours the Koko coconut milk, original) and an egg substitute for recipes. Luckily Raffy has never been a huge fan of yoghurts and custards although there are soya versions. And she already preferred vegan ice cream to the real deal (weirdo). Veganism is definitely a developing trend among the young. Is it a trendy fad or will farm animals become a thing of the past by the time Raffy has kids? Or is eating animals and the products of animals still the best use of some land types? (I'm thinking of waterlogged meadows and steep hills...) I guess only time will tell. 

Look out on the blog for 'vegan recipes for the carnivore' in the near future. I will get Raffy to bake some more vegan cakes so I can blog that - they are very tasty. And if you have any vegan comments (good and bad) or vegan recipes, pop them in the comments below. Thanks.


Temporary Car Insurance for your newly qualified teenage driver

So your teen has passed their driving test! Yippee! they can take you home from parties, ferry you to the pub, share the driving on holiday ... oh wait... you do know that you need to sort out the car insurance right?

On the very moment they pass their test, they are no longer insured to drive the family car they've been cheerfully practicing in! Yes a quick call to the insurance provider is needed.

In our case Raffy had been driving my Fiat Panda, not a well known sports car or hot hatch, and it had raised my insurance to have her on the policy from £200 a year, to £400.
So it was with some surprise to find that upon passing her test the insurance now rose to £4000.

After some clutching at my chest and deep breathing, I went to a few comparison sites to look around, I did finally find insurance at as little (as little! *bitter laugh*) as £1500 a year, but as Raffy tends to only use the car for about an hour a week to drive to and from college, this seemed excessive. So it looked like her driving days were numbered.

That's when I remembered a product I'd heard of that enabled people to drive your car with a temporary insurance, literally an hour at a time if necessary. It was sold to me at the time as festival driving insurance "giving a mate a lift? why not share the driving to and from the festival" but I realised this might be useful for newly qualified teenage drivers too.

I took a look at Cuvva as it was the first one I had heard of, but it turned out they wouldn't insure drivers under 19. As Raffy isn't 19 for a good while yet I had a hunt about. And I found Veygo. Underwritten by Admiral Insurance it enables you to insure a car for anything from an hour to...well a month or so if you like (perfect when your student comes home for summer from University and wants to borrow dad's wheels) . And as it's done via an app you can even do it on the go. They insure learners too!

I used it for the first time this Monday, and it seems pretty simple to use. You take pictures of the car (if you forget to do that and then need to claim, your excess will be higher) and then fill in the info on the app and it's all good, the policy documents are emailed to you immediately (Mr TM and I joked that Veygo should sponsor Police Interceptors as one of the major crimes seems to be young lads driving uninsured, for only £17 or so they could escape a fine or worse!)

I insured Raffy for 24 hours as she wanted to car late in the evening, Veygo stipulate that for insurance after 10pm and before 5am it must be 24 hrs minimum, but even then it was only £26. For day time only on a Saturday the cost was more like £17. All in all a cheaper option than £1000, as she doesn't have her own car, and is now using mine only occasionally.

So there you go, my top tip. Try out temporary car insurance to ensure your new driver doesn't forget how to drive! Veygo even say you can earn a years no claims discount if you use the app for driving more than 30 days in a year!