Embracing Veganuary with Cook First

This post is by Amelia Stewart, creator of Cook First http://www.cookfirst.co.uk/blog/


It can be hard being the only vegan in a family or a friendship group, particularly when you want to entertain. But being sociable while sticking to Veganuary has never been easier or more delicious! These two dishes will certainly impress your guests - and might even convert them to Veganism! So nutritious and sumptuous, they’ll never even realise they’ve eaten a purely plant-based meal.  

Spicy Parnsnip 2

Soups are the most comforting way to use your veggies during the colder months, and there are tons of wholesome fabulous soups and stews that can be made with all the wonderful seasonal root vegetables that are found in December, January and February.

Parsnips are a particular favourite of mine: crammed with vitamin C and folic acid, they have anti-inflammatoryand antioxidant proprieties too, and make a wonderfully rich, wholesome and creamy soup. This yummy soup is fragranced with fresh ginger, garam masala, cinnamon and chili, and made even creamier and more nutritious with coconut milk, and the spices and ginger give it an extra immune-boosting kick. You can even make a larger batch and freeze it.

Nothing says ‘dessert’ like chocolate, and this dessert is not only super easy to whip up, and a gorgeous crowd-pleaser, but it’s also gluten-free, refined sugar-free (and even nut-free) so you won’t have to worry about accommodating your any of your guests’ dietary requirements. And it’s so gorgeously creamy and chocolately – you’d never ever guess it’s secret ingredient! 56d25a6ce17b9

Avocado is an amazing vegetable – full of good fats, vitamins and fiber, it can be used to thicken smoothies, cakes, soups and desserts, or of course eaten alone in salads, as a dip or just plain with a spoon! 

Cacao is one of the most concentrated sources of antioxidant flavanols. It contains a stimulant called theobromine, which – unlike caffeine – does not have an affect on our nervous system but creates a slow release of energy throughout the day. And it’s also full of a neurotransmitter called anandamide, which acts as a stimulant and blocks feelings of depression.


So treat yourself and your loved ones to some Vegan deliciousness this January; and feel confident that a plant-based diet is possible – and satisfying!

Spicy Parsnip Soup


  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1 large onion (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped) `
  • 6 medium-sized parsnips (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 500 ml coconut milk  
  • 1 litre hot water + 1 cube of good-quality vegetable stock
  • 1 fresh red chili (deseeded and finely sliced)
  • 1 handful fresh coriander (roughly chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste



  1. Place a large saucepan on a high heat and add the tbsp of olive oil. Then add the onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon and garam masala, and cook, constantly stirring, until the onions are tender.  
  2. Next add the chopped parsnips and stir until well combined and the chunks have been coated in the spices.
  3. Then add the coconut milk and stock, and bring the mixture to the boil.
  4. Once bubbling, turn down the heat to a gentle simmer, and leave with a lid on for about 20 minutes, until the parsnips have completely softened.
  5. Once the parsnip chunks are soft, remove the saucepan from the heat and leave for at least 5 minutes to cool slightly before whizzing the mixture with a hand blender. Add chili flakes, salt and/or pepper as needed.
  6. Garnish with a sprinkle of chili, pepper and the chopped coriander.

This will freeze for up to 3 months, or keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 4 days.


Minty Chocolate Mousse



Makes about 6 mini mousse pots


  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 3/4 cup (90 g) raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup or coconut syrup
  • 3 drops almond oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • a few sprigs of fresh mint and cacao nibs (to garnish)


  1. Place the avocado in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  2. While the avocado is blending, sift the cacao powder into the coconut milk and whisk together, trying to remove any lumps, until the mixture starts to thicken and is smooth.
  3. Once the avocado is blended into a smooth paste, add the chocolate mixture to the blender, as well as the salt, maple/coconut syrup and peppermint oil.
  4. Blend for until smooth and fully combined.
  5. Dish out mousse and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and/ or cacao nibs – and enjoy!