Valerie O’Connor is hitting the new year resolution theme with a vengeance and embarking upon a ‘Vegan January’

Sitting in the lovely Freddy’s Bistro in Limerick, having dinner with my best friend in the universe who, sadly for me lives in the UK (but I pray she may move here some day), we were doing that thing that women do, getting comfortable with each other by pointing out our own faults.

She: “Look at the state of me, I just ran out the door”.

Me: “Sure I didn’t even bother getting changed”, (this was a lie as I had been in my pyjamas until half an hour before).

She then produced her smartphone and a magnifying pocket mirror, telling me to hold them up to my face together and look at my chin, not suggesting that I had a beard or a tache or anything, but that that’s how she finds rogue hairs on her face, the kind that we all get, and only ever see when they are in full flight and sticking out of our nose on a sunny day when we are trying to be flirty.

We both agreed in the end that growing a beard would be a great way to hide random hairs, double chins and the impending jowls that ageing brings. Lucky for men to have all that hair to hide behind, and flannel shirts too.

No hiding behind flannel shirts needed for the hot Happy Pear twins however, as they finely slice tempeh to make organic “vegan bacon” though this non-bacon bacon wouldn’t make it taste any less like bacon, and just more like the sole of my shoes

Not all cookbooks are full of perfect recipes, though they should be, so as to save us the trouble. I’m currently busy researching for my impending ‘Vegan January’ so I need an arsenal of foolproof recipes I will make again and again. So far, I have hummus and coffee.

With New Year’s day being tomorrow, you’ll want to be fully prepped for a delicious and decent breakfast that won’t take you all day, this means planning and shopping.

You might even be a little hungover so all the more reason to be ready. I set myself the challenge of doing a vegan full-Irish, but as pudding should be made with fresh blood and nothing tastes like bacon except bacon, I’ve pared it back to a delicious and very satisfying beans on toast with mushrooms and vegan sausages.

Hats off to the twins here, the bangers are the bomb. I nearly said “boom” as I was making them but was worried that my kids might have thought I was doing a reenactment of the new Star wars movie. Make the sausages the day before and keep them in the fridge, they last a couple of days.

The tomato sauce is something anyone can make anytime for meatballs, beans or pasta. Always have a decent loaf of bread and one slice of good sourdough will fill you up for the day.

I have a huge weakness for butter so I figure if it’s under the beans it doesn’t count. There’s no tomato on the plate as tomatoes aren’t in season and a tomato-shaped object grown in water isn’t worth turning on the cooker for.

Some fruit before a big, heavy meal is always yummy and my favourite is pineapple, chopped and drizzled with lime juice and some fresh mint. You can add mango or apple too for a zingy and uplifting bowl of goodness.

Happy Pear Five-Minute Sausages

I made these with my son and they took twenty minutes, but we are not the Pair — and maybe time passes more slowly in Limerick.


1 tin butter beans 3 cloves of garlic Half a small onion 90g oat flakes ( I use buckwheat flakes here) 100g coconut cream concentrate 2 tbsp tamari 4 tbsp brown flax seed (grinding in a Nutri bullet is handy) 1 tsp salt Half tsp smoked paprika 1 tsp ground coriander tsp ground black pepper 2 tbsp tomato puree 65ml water


Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blitz Remove mixture and shape into sausages. Add to a hot pan (with a drizzle of oil) and cook until brown. Turn the sausages carefully to brown them all over, they have a great texture and flavour and are a keeper for sure.

Baked Beans

I make up the lads’ tomato sauce by cooking up a tin of decent chopped tomatoes and adding two tablespoons of sundried tomato, pesto and the same amount of maple syrup.

Season with a little salt and pepper and bubble for about ten minutes.

Just drain and rinse a tin of borlotti beans and add them to the pot and warm them through.


Portobello mushrooms taste great baked in the oven and require little effort.

Don’t wash the mushrooms, they are already mostly water and washing will ruin them, just brush off any excess dirt and pop them in a roasting dish.

Sprinkle them with a little chopped garlic and salt and pepper, maybe a little fresh thyme and then a drizzle of olive oil.

Cook them in the oven for twenty minutes until they are nice and juicy.

Toast your bread, butter it or don’t butter it and spoon over your baked beans. Slide on a mushroom or two and don’t forget the lovely, meat- free sausages.

A good cup of coffee and a walk in the freezing cold should sort out any hangover, until you do it all again!


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