20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

Since adopting a plant based diet I’ve discovered some absolutely delicious recipes online. However as much as I love to spend time cooking, sometimes I just don’t have the time to follow an elaborate recipe. Sometimes all I want is proper back to basics food, the kind that I can grab all the ingredients for in a quick dash around the supermarket and then rustle up at home confidently in less than 30 minutes.

That’s why I’ve decided to start sharing what I eat on those days. These aren’t recipes as such, quite often they’ll use store bought sauces or frozen items, I just make them a little bit more exciting and maybe a touch healthier too by making a few little additions or tweaks.

I hope that this helps give you some simple ideas for what to make when you’re getting a bit hangry!

First up, my 20 minute pesto pasta:

20 Minute Pesto Pasta

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

My 20 minute pesto pasta hardly needs any prep at all and if you keep using the same saucepan, you can limit the washing up too. I’ve included some lower cost/higher protein swops that you can make, but I encourage you just to play around and see what works best for you!

Ingredients (per person)

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

75g fusilli pasta*

A handful of broccoli tips

1 to 2 tablespoons vegan friendly pesto (I used Sacla Free From No.9 Basil Pesto)

A handful of pine nuts

About 7 or 8 cherry tomatoes (I like to be a bit fancy and use on the vine ones, but any will do)

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

*Low cost version: Use normal dried pasta.

*Lower carbs/higher protein version: use vegetable pasta. There should be some in the ‘free from’ section of your local supermarket, I used Morrison’s ‘green pea pasta’ for this recipe.

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 200c (180c fan assisted)
  2. Put a handful of pine nuts in a medium sized saucepan and toast them over a medium heat. This will only take a few minutes so keep moving them about in the pan. Keep a close eye on them so that they don’t burn!20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan
  3. Put the pine nuts to one side in a small bowl and then fill the saucepan with water. Bring it to the boil.
  4. Whilst your water is reaching temperature, line a baking tray with tin foil (you can skip the foil if your tray is non stick). Place your cherry tomatoes in the tray and drizzle over some olive oil. Shake the tray to make sure all your tomatoes get a coating. Season with a few grinds of salt and pepper.20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan
  5. Put your tomatoes in the oven to roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until the skin is just beginning to char and split.
  6. When your water has boiled, add some salt and then your pasta. Follow the instructions to cook it through. (Vegetable pasta is super quick, usually about 5 to 8 minutes, dried pasta takes a little bit longer).
  7. Once your pasta is cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove it into a bowl, keeping the pasta water reserved in the saucepan.
  8. Add your broccoli to the boiling pasta water and leave it to simmer for about 6 minutes. If you prefer your veggies on the softer side, cook for a little longer.
  9. Once done, drain your broccoli and keep it to one side.
  10. Put the pasta back in the saucepan, add the pesto and warm it through over a medium heat. Then add the broccoli and warm through for another minute.
  11. By now your tomatoes should be ready. Spoon the pasta and broccoli onto the plate and sprinkle over the pine nuts. Top with the cherry tomatoes and season with a bit more salt and pepper.
  12. Enjoy!

 

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

20 Minute Pesto Pasta Easy Vegan

If you try my 20 minute pesto pasta please do get in touch by commenting below or tagging me on Instagram @lovedbylaurac or Twitter @lovedbylaurac and using the hashtag #EasyV. I’d love to see what you come up with!

LovedByLaura

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AW18 #QBlogger Challenge at Queensgate Shopping Centre

A few years ago Queensgate shopping centre in Peterborough invited a handful of bloggers from the area to become #Qbloggers. I always look forward to our catch ups as they tend to involve lots of food, plenty of blog talk and tip sharing, as well as a few surprises.

AW18 #QBlogger Challenge at Queensgate Shopping Centre

This season we were invited to a gathering at Carluccio’s Restaurant to participate in a secretive shopping challenge. Before we found out what it was, we tucked into delicious canapes (vegan friendly – yay for me!) and got the low down on what’s coming up at Queensgate over the coming months.

New At Queensgate for AW18

Firstly, The White Company are hosting a pop up in Queensgate until Christmas. YES QUEENSGATE! It’s handy shopping online when you know what you want, but there is a special kind of joy to be had from sniffing every single one of their glorious scents in store.

AW18 #QBlogger Challenge at Queensgate Shopping Centre

Secondly, this coming Saturday the 17th November is the centre’s Festive Fiesta. The action starts at 10.30am and promises fun surprises and entertainment for shoppers throughout the day. I couldn’t tease any more details out of them but I’ve been told that they’ve gone big this year. Really big. Check out my Instagram stories on Saturday, I’m heading into the centre to find out for myself.

The AW18 #Qblogger Challenge

AW18 #QBlogger Challenge at Queensgate Shopping Centre

During the meal we were invited to open personalised envelopes containing our AW18 #Qblogger challenge. Mine revealed three stores handpicked to suit my individual style. The challenge was to visit them all and pick out my five favourite items for the Autumn/Winter season. To help me, I was given a £25 Queensgate gift card* to put towards my top pick which could be used at any retailer at the centre.

When I read out my three stores to visit everyone around the table said “Oh they are SO you Laura!” I’d been given Joules, John Lewis and Oasis. I couldn’t have chosen better myself. Here’s how I got on:

Joules

I tend to buy from Joules when I want something that’s high quality that I’ll get a lot of wear out of. They are especially good for cosy scarves, tailored coats and cute as a button wellies.

I fell in love with this plum coloured jacket which I thought would be a perfect addition to my capsule wardrobe.

AW18 #QBlogger Challenge at Queensgate Shopping Centre

I really can’t stand being cold and find jackets a good solution as they can be slipped on and off as needed. It would work well with a shift dress for the office and then paired with jeans and a teeshirt for a more casual vibe.

Then I spotted a perfect Christmas present idea: the Wensley Scarf in the ‘Dogs In Leaves’ print.

AW18 #QBlogger Challenge at Queensgate Shopping Centre

Since it’s got lots of different breeds on it I could think of several of my dog loving friends that would go gaga over it. That’s at least one present ticked off my Christmas list…

John Lewis

John Lewis is where I head when I need something for party season and they delivered for the AW18 #Qblogger challenge. This shimmering sequinned gold dress from French Collection caught my attention above all others.

Not only does it look fabulous, but owing to its flattering tunic cut it would also allow room for that inevitable festive food baby. SOLD.

Oasis

Finally, I arrived at Oasis which has fast become one of my favourite clothing brands. I find the cut of their clothes and the patterns and the fabrics used some of the most flattering on the high street.

This season I’m picking up a strong ‘Cher from Clueless’ vibe from their collection, in particular this preppy checked skirt.

AW18 #QBlogger Challenge at Queensgate Shopping Centre

I think it would work just as well teamed with a cosy cable knit jumper as it would paired with something more tailored.

I also spotted this navy striped tee.

AW18 #QBlogger Challenge at Queensgate Shopping Centre

The fabric keeps it casual and comfortable but the addition of rose gold stars gives it a festive twist. It’s my pick to wear on Christmas day.

So that’s my ‘fab five’ from the retailers at Queensgate shopping centre for AW18. What do you think? And what’s caught your eye recently?

LovedByLaura

As a side note, sadly the Peterborough Carluccio’s closed down just after our visit. It’s a real shame as they had some delicious vegan friendly dishes. With the benefit of hindsight I wish I had visited more often; sometimes you don’t appreciate these things until they’re gone.

*This post is a collaboration with Queensgate. I received a £25 gift card as thanks for taking part in the AW18 #Qblogger challenge.

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Moving On Life Lately Title

What a year. Writing down everything for this post has made me realise just how much I was dealing with all at once. I guess that’s how life works though isn’t it? You don’t always neccessarily cope all that well, but you just have to ‘keep on keeping on’ until it gets better. And it has! Now here I am in a much more positive place, moving on and excited for the future.

Grab a cuppa and let me catch you up on everything.

I Decided to Move

Moving on life lately home sweet home card

I’ve always adored my village home but my life has changed dramatically over the past few years. I have gradually become more deeply connected to Peterborough and the travelling back and forth eventually took its toll, leaving me feeling cut off and isolated.

At the beginning of this year I bit the bullet and put my house on the market. As it was entirely self funded every bit of my time, energy and money went into making it happen. Life as I knew it went on hold.

It’s one thing to make the momentous decision to sell your house and quite another to realise that you have very little control over when it actually happens. I ended up spending months in limbo, unable to make any future plans, feeling lost and frustrated. Finally in August I received an offer which meant that I could start the search for my new home. I settled on a new build and thankfully my offer was quickly accepted.

I don’t think anything could have prepared me for how stressful the next three months were though! Endless paperwork, phone calls, bills and complications had to be managed around my day job. I spent every day feeling restless and on edge, petrified that it would all fall through. I dared not allow myself to get excited or look to the future in case it didn’t happen.

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

At the end of October I was exhausted and didn’t know how much longer I could cope with all the upheaval and uncertainty. However just like that, everything fell neatly into place. A week later I said one last goodbye to Sunrise Cottage, my home of the last 11 years and the keeper of many precious memories, and opened the door on a new chapter.

Moving on life lately holding keys

Now two weeks later here I am in my new office, writing this first blog post of what is hopefully many to come.

My gosh it feels good.

I had to say goodbye to Mr Darcy

Moving on life lately Mr Darcy

I’m going to write this next bit quickly because it still hurts to think about it too much. However it doesn’t feel right not to tell you about Mr Darcy, my beautiful big bear-cat.

Darcy was diagnosed with kidney disease last December and after a brave battle passed away in August. It was heartbreaking watching him deteriorate from a healthy, mischeivous cat to a shadow of his former self. We both did our best, travelling to the vets every week for check ups and medication. For a time I hoped that we’d got it under control, but that wasn’t how it worked out. I’m not sure I will ever accept the unfairness of it all.

Grief is a funny thing. The passing of time helps but I still have days where a sudden thought or memory of Darcy hits me and all the feelings come flooding in. I got incredibly emotional on move day knowing that I was also leaving behind the home that I’d shared with him.

To some a cat is just a cat, but Mr Darcy was my family. I’m moving on but I still miss him so much.

Moving on: The Millennial Matters Podcast

Moving On Life Lately The Millennial Matters Podcast

Whilst this was going on, Kat decided it was time to end The Prosecco Sessions Podcast in its current format. I felt quite bereft when it finished and Pippa missed podcasting too so we decided to make our own. We took everything that we’d learned from our first experience to create something new: The Millennial Matters Podcast.

Each week we tackle a new topic that’s got us talking. Everything from food and fashion, through to relationships and money, we take a look at millennial life from all angles.

We spent a lot of time planning the podcast before launch to make sure that it was just right. We’ve almost wrapped recording Season 1 and Season 2 is shaping up nicely too. It felt great moving on after the initial disappointment of our first podcast ending and we love making it. In fact we do a happy little dance every time someone lets us know that they are listening!

I’m so grateful to everyone that has supported it so far. If you’re already a subscriber thank you so much!

How to subscribe to The Millennial Matters Podcast

If you haven’t discovered us yet, please do give us a try as we think you will love it! You can find all of our episodes here:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/millennial-matters-podcast/id1438246395?mt=2
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-246069025
PlayerFm: https://player.fm/series/millennial-matters-podcast-2451264

Moving On – What’s Next?

So that’s what’s happened this year. Whilst I don’t like wishing my life away, I’m glad the last 10 months are behind me. Moving was a drawn out and painful process but I’m proud of myself for doing it and feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders now.

If you’re reading, thank you Oliver, Mum, Dad, Rebecca, Pippa and all my other wonderful friends for being there when I needed you and telling me it was all going to be alright x

I wrote a post back in July about how I was struggling to find the right direction for this blog. (Read it here.) Whilst I’ve been away I’ve thought long and hard about it. I even considered just closing down the blog for a nanosecond, but ONLY for a nanosecond!

There will be no huge relaunch and hopefully you won’t notice too much of a difference really! I just feel much clearer about it all now thank goodness.

So here here’s to moving on. I do hope you come along for the ride!

LovedByLaura

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University Arms Cambridge

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending the evening with local blogger friends at the newly reopened University Arms hotel in Cambridge. From sampling signature cocktails to a peek at some of the best hotel views in the city, it was a wonderful night. We topped it off with a stunning meal in their new bar and brasserie Parker’s Tavern. I’m still thinking about the food now, I can’t wait to show you!

Built in 1834, the University Arms is a landmark in Cambridge city centre’s history. However for the past four years it’s been closed whilst undergoing a huge £8 million huge transformation.  The result is something very beautiful indeed, befitting of its history and, just as importantly, its future.

You can’t miss the University Arms hotel now. Situated on Regent Street, it’s fronted by an immense stone porte-cochère supported by huge stone pillars.

University Arms Cambridge

The grand reception has an elegant art deco feel with geometric cut glass windows and muted sage paintwork. This is contrasted by pops of bright colour and sumptuous textures on the furnishings. Then every so often the artwork throws a little curveball with nods to ‘in jokes’ between the designers. I couldn’t get them to reveal the story behind why Winston Churchill resides behind the concierge desk!

University Arms Cambridge

Through yet more impressive doors, we found ourselves in a cosy wood panelled room filled with comfortable velvet sofas and chairs in lamplit corners and floor to ceiling bookcases. I could see myself cosying up in there on a quiet Winter evening with a good book and a little tipple.

University Arms Cambridge

This was not that kind of night though, so instead we moved through into the main bar to sample some of the Cambridge inspired cocktails, each aptly named as explained in the menu.

University Arms Cambridge University Arms Cambridge

Pippa had a wonderfully frothy creation…

University Arms Cambridge

…whilst I stuck with a classic: Rosé Champagne!

University Arms Cambridge

At this stage we were joined by Tristan Welch, an amazing chef who amongst other career highlights was head chef at Gordon Ramsey’s two michelin star restaurant Petrus. He has now returned to his hometown of Cambridge to be Head Director of Parker’s Tavern, creating a seasonal menu around the best local produce the area has to offer.

University Arms Cambridge

Tristan was so clearly passionate about this new venture, from explaining the history of the hotel and how they’ve carefully brought it up to date whilst retaining its unique personality, to giving us the guided tour of the accommodation.

University Arms Cambridge

The rooms are luxuriously decorated with little homages to Cambridge to be found.

University Arms Cambridge University Arms Cambridge

Behold: the inspiration for my next bathroom! (A girl can dream…)

University Arms Cambridge University Arms Cambridge

The most impressive rooms found on the top floor offer a substantial balcony with views looking out across Parker’s green and the city beyond.

And so onto the food at Parker’s Tavern!

University Arms Cambridge

I couldn’t find any guidance on the menu as to whether any of the options were suitable for vegans but quietly asked one of the waiters. He was very helpful and advised me of the dishes that were able to be adapted.

University Arms Cambridge

The rest of the table enjoyed tempura courgette with honey, as well as homemade burrata and heirloom tomatoes with a basil dressing. I opted for the heirloom tomatoes dish minus the cheese.

University Arms Cambridge

You might think that removing such a key element would make it rather bland. Thankfully that wasn’t the case at all. The tomatoes were infused with flavour and held their own on the plate. I’d order it again and would love to know how to recreate it at home.

Then this happened…

University Arms Cambridge

I know what you’re thinking, steak tartare is definitely not vegan. It is, however, entirely plant based! The ‘steak’ is actually Beetroot Hache, transforming the humble vegetable into something meaty, textural and full of flavour. The ‘egg’ is a delicate yellow tomato and horseradish cream.

I don’t say this lightly, but this is a 10/10 dish for me, truly superb.

What a brilliant evening with fantastic company and some of the best food I’ve eaten in ages. Well done Tristan Welch and the team behind this amazing hotel and restaurant. University Arms is truly back on the map!

LovedByLaura

PS. It was also an opportunity to catch up with Pippa and put some very exciting plans into motion. Keep an eye on my twitter for a big announcement coming very soon!

University Arms Cambridge

Disclaimer: Food and drink was complimentary on the night, all views are my honest opinion.

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Everyday challenges that I face as a vegan

I often see people tweeting about how easy it is to turn vegan and that they didn’t find it a struggle at all. In my experience however there’s a lot more to being vegan than just cutting out certain foods. In this post I want to give you an insight into some of the everyday challenges that I face as a vegan and ways to deal with them.

Outside Influences

I’ve been vegan for 8 months now and I get variations of these same questions and comments all the time:

“But what about bacon/cheese/Christmas?”

“You need dairy for calcium, aren’t you worried about that?”

“Where are you going to get your protein from?”

“Can’t you just buy free range eggs instead?”

“It’s just a fad diet / trend.”

“If you were being attacked by a wild animal would you just let it kill you?”

*Looking me up and down* “What are your shoes made from? What about your handbag?”

In the majority of cases these concerns are well meaning but that doesn’t make them any less annoying! It would be seen as rude and confrontational for a vegan to ask people why they’re eating meat and dairy, but it seems to be widely accepted that it’s okay to ask vegans to justify their choice NOT to eat such things. This is often in front of lots of other people. Not fun for an introvert.

I’m often expected to provide scientific facts, nutritional values and a full citation of sources. It can all be a bit exhausting when all I want to do is eat my ‘vegan pizza’ without a debate.

I suppose some of this comes from the fact that some vegans do forcibly assert their opinions on others. This doesn’t represent every vegan however! Some of us have just made a personal decision that’s right for us and are happy to let other people do the same.

Veganism can also be a very emotive subject. I am extremely cautious about opening up on the matter even when asked to. I’ve learned to warn people that if they want me to go into detail on things like the egg and dairy industry I will be happy to tell them what I know, but that they need to be prepared to hear things that might make them feel uncomfortable.

With that being said, I’m always happy to answer questions asked out of genuine interest in the subject. I began my own vegan journey by seeking support and advice from those who’d experienced it all before me, so if I can pay that forward then I will!

Everyday challenges that I face as a vegan

Emotions

Another thing I never expected when I turned vegan was how much I’d go through the wringer emotionally. On the plus side, turning vegan has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I am more relaxed knowing that I’m no longer conflicted about my food choices which is something I’d struggled with beforehand.

The problem is that with once you’ve taken action to stop yourself from being a part of the problem, it becomes even more frustrating knowing that there are still inconceivable acts of cruelty and suffering going on and there is little else that you can do about it.

Everyday challenges that I face as a vegan

Staying Positive

I have been listening to a really great podcast called The Chickpeeps which has helped me to stay positive and find other small ways in which I can help make a difference, such as in my makeup and clothing choices.

It explores all manner of vegan topics in a relaxed, non confrontational way with everything from how honey is made, to ethical fashion and the debate over Activism vs Attractivism. They’ve promised a future episode on raising children vegan which should make for a thought provoking listen.

As an added bonus it’s hosted by Evanna Lynch, aka Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter!

Everyday challenges that I face as a vegan

Food

Believe it or not, this has probably been the easiest part of the transition for me.

As soon as I realised that I was more concerned about the animal behind the food than my fleeting enjoyment of it, there was no longer a choice to be made. It’s very simple for me: anything animal derived is not something I consider food now. That makes it very easy to say no.

Everyday challenges that I face as a vegan

If all of the vegan food that I love was readily available wherever I travelled there would be no issue. Unfortunately, sometimes the only option is dry toast or chips. It can feel isolating when you’re out socially and can’t enjoy the experience because your choices are limited.

Lots of restaurants have added vegan options to their menus which is a really positive step, but it’s still a struggle finding a decent starter or dessert in most.

I’ve learned to always come prepared! I take dairy free spread and oatmilk with me if I’m staying overnight somewhere. I keep energy balls in my handbag in case of emergency and bring vegan burgers to BBQs. It means that I can eat alongside everyone else and avoid feeling left out.

Cost

One of the arguments I hear repeatedly against veganism is that it is an expensive lifestyle. What I’ve found often makes any part of veganism expensive is the products marketed specifically to vegans.

Vegan pizzas, cheese, processed meat alternatives and ready meals are often priced higher than their meat and dairy versions. It is great that they exist and I do buy them occassionally, but not everyday.

Think about it. Tomatoes, mushrooms and carrots are vegan. Lentils, rice, beans and many dried pastas are vegan. These are pretty cheap ingredients. I batch cook chilli, risotto and curry in bulk and then freeze it into portions to avoid any waste.

Vegan specific clothing and shoe labels tend to have a higher price tag because producing these items ethically tends to cost more. Even some technically vegan items aren’t great for environment due to the toxicity of the synthetic materials used.

My compromise is to wear out my old leather/wool goods. When replacing them I use ‘vegan’ in high street retailer website search bars to see if anything comes up (Shuh and ASOS are both good for this). It isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s what is affordable to me for now and I’m okay with that.

Everyday challenges that I face as a vegan

Why It’s All Worth It

If I’m ever feeling frustrated, I remind myself of this:

Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.

(Source)

And that is why despite the everyday challenges that I face as a vegan, it’s all worth it!

LovedByLaura

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