Hello there!

Some of you may have seen from my Instagram that it was my birthday last week! I had a barbecue to celebrate with some friends. If you're English or have ever been to England, you'll know this isn't exactly straightforward. English summers don't conjure up pictures of balmy beach weather and shorts; more like standing over an underused BBQ equipped with an umbrella and raincoat. So yeah, pretty risky.

And yes, would you believe it, it did rain. I was in complete denial in my funky loose-fitting shirt, but there came a point when all the food was getting wet and I gave in. We all ran inside. The point of the story is I knew this would happen, so all of my prep was buffet-style food that would happily sit alongside a BBQ, but also happily be eaten indoors.

Today I'll share with you what I cooked; I was actually really pleased at how the food went down. I have a grand total of two vegan friends, so to hear compliments about the food from the omnivores was really great.

I made four dishes:

Black bean chili sin carne

Creamy macaroni pasta salad

Middle-eastern cous-cous salad

Lots of hummus

Because that's a total of 4 recipes, I don't want to make this into some epicly long post, so on this page I'll just include the black bean chili recipe and put the others in separate posts.

I found the chili super satisfying. It ticked the warming, smoky boxes and had a nice lingering heat. Just remember to customise how spicy you'd like it by upping or reducing the amount of cayenne pepper and fresh chilli. Also, I received some liquid smoke - a smoke-flavoured liquid made by burning wood chips and condensing the smoke particles - for my birthday so I added a few sprays of that. It's not essential, so don't worry if you don't have or can't find it.

Most chili recipes have a touch of sweetness which is why I've used a carrot to be cooked down with the onions. Also, I've used a couple of dates because they break down and become nice and sticky, as well as providing a nutritional bonus over plain sugar. I love the warmth from the spices: ground cumin and smoked paprika, which also add a certain smokiness.

I've been cooking with black beans a lot recently. They are extremely high in dietary fibre and protein, and I find them really satisfying. Their flavour is better if you can be bothered to soak, drain and cook the dried kind, but the tinned variety will be absolutely fine here. I'd recommend garnishing the finished dish with some fresh coriander to boost the Mexican vibe. Serve this at your next BBQ, or just for dinner alongside some rice, guacamole and nachos.

I'll leave with a message to my readers: if you're from England, I do hope you're able to eat this dish outside. And to the rest of you with proper sunny summers: I am very jealous. But enjoy.

Black Bean Chili Sin Carne

Serves 2
Hands-on time:
10 mins
Hands-off time:
0 mins


  for the smoothie
2 cups frozen mixed berries (such as raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants)
1 ripe banana
1 large handful spinach
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp ground flax seeds (aka linseeds)
1 cup non-dairy milk
  for the toppings
2 tsp dessicated coconut
1-2 tsp hemp seeds
1-2 tsp chia seeds
2 strawberries, sliced
  for the white swirled pattern (optional, see step 4)
2 tbsp non-dairy yogurt
½ tbsp non-dairy milk
  other topping ideas (optional)
  chia seeds
  chopped nuts
  sliced banana
  dried fruit e.g. raisins
  pumpkin seeds


  1. In the order given in the ingredients list, add all the ingredients to your smoothie maker and blend.
  2. Add more non-dairy milk to loosen the mixture if it is not blending completely.
  3. Pour into 2 bowls and top with desired toppings.
  4. If you'd like to add a pattern similar to the one in the photos, mix the yogurt and milk in a small jug, adding more milk/yogurt until it is a thick but pourable liquid. Pour 3 horizontal lines across your smoothie bowl. Run a skewer from top to bottom, cutting through each line. Slightly to the right, run the skewer from bottom to top and repeat.