All Plants Lovin’

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Put your hands up if you like plants. Even better dance around or give plants a kiss – if you love having them around you, in the earth and fields or your living space, and especially if you love how they nourish us in so many ways. A few months ago in Edinburgh someone had written on a wall ‘Love animals, eat plants’. I remember looking at it and thinking something should be added onto the end: ‘love plants too’. Often if you’re vegetarian or vegan it’s presented as out of a love for animals and not wishing to cause them harm or suffering. But what about plants? They deserve all the love in the world because, together with soil and insects, they pretty much give us everything. Oxygen, greenery, food, textures, flavours, spices, cleaner air. We need to celebrate plants and appreciate them in all their glory.

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London-based company All Plants is one bunch of eco-warriors doing just that. They cook up delicious vegan meals and deliver them to your door, making a plant-based diet easier than ever before. For too long being vegan has been tricky with fewer options, fewer places to buy, more effort involved than the dominance of meat and dairy products everywhere, which has been something of a barrier for those who want to eat more plants or are curious about doing so.

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But sigh and struggle no longer. All Plants has an array of planty meals on offer which you can eat at your leisure, with your feet up, no hassle, no sweat, literally easy as pie. Their Cashew Mac is to taste-die for and if you order a box Golden Sesame Satay has gotta be in there – you won’t be disappointed. These two are just the tip of the plantberg though – they’ve got everything from paella to burrito bowl to moussaka to risotto, and all of ’em are hearty, nutritious and satisfying.

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All Plants is so inspiring because not only are they making it fast and simple to eat healthy delicious plant-based meals for all us mega-busy foodies, but their mission as a whole is one big boost of planet-positive. Their aim is to encourage and stir up the next billion plant-powered people, doing so in as sustainable way as possible with recyclable and compostable packaging, carbon neutral deliveries and huge reduction of food waste. What’s not to love? It’s too easy and no one has an excuse not to eat or try 100% plant-dishes now.

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Eat plants, love plants. Simple.

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Squidgy Pumpkin Spice Cookies

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Pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin. Just perfect pumpkin. Bulbous and bright and carroty orange, the emblem of autumn and the vegetable you Americans have a somewhat obsessive yet endearing affection for. They are pretty amazing – the archetypal seasonal food – so I just had to create something with their tangerine tissue. And these delightfully spongy pumpkin spice cookies deserve a place amongst all those pumpkin pies and pumpkin breads and pumpkin cakes, if I’m allowed to make such a self-promoting claim.

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There’s something of an incongruity surrounding pumpkins – on the one hand they’re a wonderful symbol of seasonal produce promoted by a worldwide Hallows’ eve tradition, and yet they’re also (as a direct result of this quirky age-old tradition) one of the most wasted vegetables on the planet. This just doesn’t seem right at all, so what better way to remedy the injustice than to encourage people to eat pumpkins? By all means carve out your scary faces for some spooky fun, but eat pumpkins and squashes too. Eat and gobble and swallow to your stomach’s content. They’re too delicious to chuck into landfill and they’re growing in abundance right now – guaranteed somewhere nearby, so get on out there and source a glowing orange globe in some local soil.

And here’s some inspiration for you – simple, spicy and sweet. With no trace of refined sugar, gluten or dairy. In short; local, seasonal, sustainable wee beauties. These cookies will be all the tastier if you chop up a Hokkaido pumpkin (or butternut or any member of the pumpkin/squash family!) and give it a steam or roast, but canned pumpkin puree works a (trick-or)treat too.

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Makes about 20 cookies:

  • 425g/1 can of pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
  • 120g/1 cup oats
  • 100g/½ cup chestnut flour (if you don’t have any use brown rice flour)
  • 60g/½ cup ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4-6 tablespoons agave syrup (or maple syrup or raw local honey), depending on how sweet you like it
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • A pinch of sea salt

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If using a pumpkin or squash from scratch; peel it, scoop out the seeds and chop up the flesh into chunks. Place these in a steamer and steam for about 20 minutes, or until they’re really tender and mushy.

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Place the oats in a blender or food processor and whizz up into a flour. Pour this into a large mixing bowl along with the chestnut flour, ground almonds, all the spices, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sea salt. Mix well and set aside.

Measure out 425g/1 cup of pumpkin puree and place this in a food processor. Melt the coconut oil in a pan on a medium heat then pour this into the pumpkin puree along with the agave syrup. Blend until they’re all well combined.

Add a third of the wet pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine, repeating twice more until all the pumpkin’s stirred in to form a dough. Line a large baking tray with parchment and lightly grease with a little coconut oil. Scoop out about a tablespoon’s worth of dough and place on the parchment, repeating until you’ve used it all up. Then, using your fingers, gently squash and smooth the balls of dough into round or oval cookie shapes.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the edges are firm and they’ve turned a lovely orangey golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool for 2 minutes on the baking tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Then munch away!

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