The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Author: Fiona (Page 2 of 7)

Cutting out oil

Cutting Out Oil | Vegan Weight Loss

As part of my more focused weight loss attempts, part of my process so far this year has involved cutting out oil as much as possible from my diet. I started the year reading the Starch Solution by Dr. John MacDougall, and although I still haven’t finished it I have generally understood the points he makes (and will more than likely do a longer blog post specifically on that, once I have finished reading it!).

One of his (controversial perhaps?) claims is that “The fat you eat is the fat you wear”. I only use the word controversial as at the moment I see people touting high fat diets everywhere.

What Dr MacDougall says in his book The Mcdougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss is that 93% of fat you eat goes into storage in your tissues, around your body and around your internal organs, waiting for use when your energy needs are not being met by carbohydrates. 93%! He says 4% is used for essential requirements, 3% for transfer to tissues and 93% to storage. One thing I can certainly attest to is that I have a hell of a lot of fat on (and likely viscerally in) my body. I purchased some new scales which give an average fat percentage, mine returned the horrifying number of 41%. That is after losing almost 5 stone already! Pre-vegan/weight loss days I think it is safe to say I ate a high fat diet most of the time, it’s certainly obvious from the outside.

I follow calorie counting and fasting approach to weight loss and fats really are the loser when it comes to calories, especially when it comes to oil. One single tablespoon of olive oil has on average 120 calories, with very little nutrients. Olive oil (and all liquid oils) are the highly processed output of whole vegetables, with the goodness of fibre removed. I know it does have some vitamins in there, and certainly isn’t all bad, but for me, trying to lose weight, with the huge amount of calories I would rather just go straight to the source, olives themselves, and get the rest of the nutrition along with it. For those trying to gain weight added oil may be an option, although surely eating more of other more nutritious foods would be a preferred choice?

Oil seems a total waste of calories and nutrients, and sure, some people think it makes food taste better, but there are more things to what you eat than purely how it tastes. You could make the same argument for eating meat, it tastes good…again, there are more important issues out there than taste. Food is meant to nourish us through our life, making food such a big focus in my life is part of the reason I ended up so fat in the first place. Anyway, after months now of cutting back on oil, I don’t even think it does make food taste better. It just tastes oily, makes me need a drink to clear my mouth.

All of this seems straightforward, and makes sense to me. So why would I consider this controversial? As mentioned above, high fat diets have been all the rage recently on the internet, and seem to frequently pop up into my life in discussions. There are multiple versions of high fat, there are the high fat low carbers, the atkins, and the ketosis club. The general reasoning behind them (as summarised by a completely non-professional me is) eat less carbs, then your body uses fat to burn from. At this point I think it is best that I cover what happens when you eat the food you eat.

I am certainly no expert when it comes to nutrition, nor do I claim to be, however I have read into nutrition from many sources over the years, and listened (and relistened) to podcasts which feature some of the leading lights in the nutrition field. My understanding as far as food goes is this. There are three main macronutrient groups, carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These are broken into many micronutrients but these three groups act differently within the body when consumed. Carbohydrates are turned to glucose, this is your ongoing source of immediate energy within the body. Protein is digested and turned into Amino Acids which are used for many purposes within the body, Fat (as previously mentioned) mostly turns into fat either in your adipose (under skin) or visceral (organ) tissues. High carb low fat advocates that most of your calories come from carbohydrates, as this is what you mostly use for energy. Keep the fat out of your diet, and therefore off your body. My fasting ties in here, all of your carbohydrate stores inside your cells and liver are usually used up within 12-14 hours of eating, therefore for energy use after this time your body is forced into resorting to using fat stores. I fast for betwen 16 – 20 hours most days, giving me a window of 2 – 8 hours where I burn fat by default.

High fat low carb suggests to train your body to consume fat/protein for energy, along a similar logic to fasting. Your body will burn the fat in/and on your body by default as you starve yourself long term of carbohydrates.

My thoughts….why have the fat there in the first place? Why not do what your body expects, eat carbohydrates, burn accordingly, and fill your diet with fibre and vitamins/nutrients in plant foods? Eating low carb/high fat really makes you lose out on the huge benefits of eating fibre, the cleaning out of your insides, the fullness, the increased vitamin abosrption.  The high fat diets don’t really consider longevity either. You can lose weight through any eating regimen if you stick to it enough, and I do not dispute that those who eat high fat/low carb can lose weight. But what is this doing to them internally? There are many studies (here, here and longevity related information on nutritionfacts.org here) out there which show that plant based vegans tend to live longer, with lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many other big killers.

When it comes to the practicalities of cutting out oil, this mainly is realised in cooking. Instead of oils I use water/or stock for vegetables, I aim to eat unprocessed whole foods which I can control the oil content of. There are of course some fats in my diet, but these are natural plant based sources. Nearly every day I have a serving of grould flaxseeds in a smoothie to ensure I am getting omega 3’s and 6’s, and I occasionally have nuts and seeds but I really mostly try to avoid these unless it’s a small amount.

So, to bring this all together, why am I cutting out oil?

  • Unecessary calories
  • Limited nutrients
  • No sense of fullness after eating
  • Tastes bad
  • Longevity
  • And probably most importantly, for me, the fat I eat ends up being the fat I wear, and I’m fed up wearing it so visibly.

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16:8 and 18:6 – Intermittent Fasting 2.0 | Vegan Fasting

Way back in May last year I posted about how I had recently started intermittent fasting, following 12/12 or 10/14. I’ve decided to do a little update as anyone following me on Instagram will know that I now am doing that and more.

For the last few months (and nearly every day of January this year) I have been following 18:6, where I fast for 18 hours a day and have an eating window of 6 hours per day. This generally starts around 1:30 pm and finished around 7:30 pm, with no eating again until 1:30 pm the next day. I have even been following this at weekends (which I never thought I would say!). This level of fasting often worries and confuses people, with comments along the line of “Isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?”, “Aren’t you always hungry/tired/angry?”, and of course the inevitable “I could never do that”.

Well the answer is no, no and, well there isn’t really an answer to the third comment. Surprisingly, I find since taking my fasting up a notch that my hunger has actually pretty much disappeared, other than right when I’m approaching my time to eat. I have read (and really it makes sense) that hunger isn’t a real feeling, especially over such short periods of time. That hunger really just boils down to what your body expects, when you extend the period between eating your body learns pretty quickly to not expect to eat, therefore the hunger disappears. This is something I wouldn’t have really believed until I tried it myself. Tiredness again does the opposite of what you would expect, not only am I not tired, I’m bursting with energy.

I listened to my one of my favourite podcast this week (Rich Roll) and listened to Ray Cronise who I know is a big advocate of eating less meals discuss in parts intermittent fasting, I am actually going to do a full post about this podcast as quite honestly it was fairly in-depth and I think I’d like to sit and listen to it while taking notes but it’s a good place to hear about some of the science behind IF.

Today I stretched to a 20.5 hour fast and I’m thinking about going 24 hours maybe one day a week. This may seem a little extreme but it just feels good! I’m losing weight, full of energy, not hungry, able to have a large evening meal guilt free, it’s a win win as far as I can see, so I’ll keep experimenting for the moment!

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January 2018 Progress Report February 2018 Weight Loss Report

January 2018 Progress Report | Weight Loss

I’ve decided to do a monthly progress report on how my year and main focuses are going. So far the year is going well, I have actually managed to maintain focus all the way through January. I have

  • Lost 9 pounds
  • Meditated every day
  • Exercised 12 times
  • Got rid of 620 items
  • Kept to my budget
  • Not had any takeaways (even though my family did)
  • Booked our first family holiday
  • Ran 5k once

Also, I have pretty much fasted every day, also been within my calories every day. Yeah, a successful month for me. I’m hoping to continue it into the rest of the year. Initially I thought I would have a takeaway at the end of the month but now I’m there I actually find I don’t really want one. I did have a pasta salad one night, which I really used to love, but I found it very oily and didn’t enjoy it. Not sure if my taste buds are changing but it didn’t taste like it used to, that’s for sure.

Now we have also booked a holiday after years of being students I am even more focused on losing weight. I really would like to go and get some new clothes right before going so the aim is to lose about another 2 and a half stone before the holiday if possible. Exercise wise I am looking to run around twice a week, focusing on speed rather than distance, and the rest of my exercise is aimed at aiding weight loss.

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Vegan gram flour mini quiches

Quiche is something I used to take a notion for, I would stuff my face on it, feel sick and not eat it again for months. This recipe made 8 muffin tin size quiches, which are handy for lunch boxes for kids (and adults!). While not exactly egg like in texture, they are nice tasting, I always find the garlic powder makes them taste eggy. Another addition could be black salt which I believe has an egg taste, although I can never find it! If anyone knows anywhere easy to find it in the UK let me know in the comments.

Vegan gram flour mini quiches

Ingredients

  • 150g Gram Flour
  • 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • Lightly sauteed vegetables (I used onions and peppers, along with some chopped tomatoes)
  • Garlic
  • Vegan Cheese (I used Bute Island Cheese’s soft chive cheese)
  • Vegan margarine for the tins

Method

Mix the gram flour with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and pepper, water and any other herbs you want to add. Whisk until smooth.

Use the margarine to grease the edges of the muffin tin. Add a little of the quiche mix to the tin. Layer with a little cheese, then vegetables, then more quiche mix to cover.

Cook for around 25 minutes in a 180 degrees celsius oven. I can’t remember the calories on these but I would estimate less than 100 each.

Vegan gram flour mini quiches

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No Oil, No Added Sugar, Wholewheat Banana Bread

I found myself search No Oil, No Added Sugar, Wholewheat Banana Bread this week. We are almost a month into 2018 and I have been very good with my eating, fasting nearly every day, sticking within my calories, reaching my fruit and veg requirements. However sometimes you just crave something sweet, so I went looking for some ideas for banana bread that wouldn’t destroy the hard work I have put in so far, but still give my taste buds the hit as if I was eating a treat.

No Oil, No Added Sugar, Wholewheat Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups wholewheat flour
  • 2.5 cups mashed banana (3 large and pretty ripe)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp flax seed powder + 6 tbsp water
  • Couple of Walnuts

Method

Mix the flax seed powder with water, stir and leave aside for 5 minutes. Mash the banana. In a large bowl mix dry ingredients. Add the banana and flax seed mixture and mix well.

Place in a greased loaf tin, bake for around 30 – 40 minutes in a 190 degrees celsius fan oven (check it though regularly!). Let it cool before slicing.

No Oil, No added sugar, wholewheat banana bread

Next time I think I’m going to try soaking the dates to make them softer. This is around 150 calories a slice which is pretty good for a fairly large slice! Plus it’s guilt free, no oil, no added sugar, wholewheat and vegan!

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Smoothies | Breakfast

I’ve recently taken to having smoothies to break my fast. Smoothies are something that previously I was never a fan of, I didn’t like drinking my calories, the smoothies in the shop seemed to be full of sugar, I just had an all round bad impression of them.

My opinion began to change when I listened to Michael Greger and Jami Dulaney’s respective podcasts (found here and here and also on any major podcast player you have). I really respect these two doctors (one a nutrition doctor and the other a cardiologist) and find pretty much most things they say sensible, well researched and I do try to follow their advice in my diet.

Now, some people are against smoothies, but both of them recommend them, in the occasion where you have having whole fruits and vegetables and not juiced, as when juiced the fibre is lost. They both agree they are a delicious and easy way to easily increase your intake of fruit and vegetables, so recently I’ve been giving them a whirl, especially the green variety.

My smoothies are around 350 – 400 calories a go, not a small amount, but they allow me to break my 18 hour fast with a nutrient dense tasty drink. What do I use in my smoothies?

  • Bananas
  • Mangos
  • Frozen Berries (strawberries/blueberries/raspberries/blackberries)
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Kale
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Vegan Yoghurt
  • Almond/Rice Milk
  • Flax Seeds
  • Chia Seeds

Not all at once of course, this week I have been having 2 bananas, 1 apple, 2 large handfuls of spinach, yoghurt, almond milk, chia seeds and ice. I use my nutri-ninja and pulse for a minute or two getting it really nice and smooth. I don’t use any artificial sweeteners as it is sweet enough already.

Vegan Smoothies - Green Smoothie

For the moment at least I am going to keep having these on a daily basis, I feel they are helping my weight loss (7 pounds off in 3 weeks, 56.5 overall), taste good, are great for me, it’s win win win! What combinations do you use in your smoothie? Are there any good flavours I’m missing out on?

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Vegan Pea Soup

I’ve been feeling the soup vibe recently which is unusual for me as I’m generally not a soup-y person, not sure if it is the rubbish weather or just the time of year but yeah, soup has been getting made every weekend. Last weekend I thought I would try a new type for me. I like peas, but can’t remember every trying them as a soup. This recipe serves 3 good sized or 4 smaller sized portions. I’ve not tried freezing it but I would guess it should be fine.

Vegan Pea Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 1tsp Vegan Margarine
  • 800ml Vegetable Stock
  • 250g Frozen Peas
  • 100ml Rice/Soya/Nut milk
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chives and Tarragon

Method

Chop the onion and sautee in a little water.

Add flour and stir for a minute or two until really well mixed. Take off heat and add 2 ladles of stock. Whisk until smooth.

Add remaining stock and return to heat. Add peas and simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix milk with cornflour and pour slowly into soup, reheat until almost boiling.

Liquidise with a hand blender/in a blender. Add seasoning.

That’s it! Quick and easy (and tasty!) soup. I forgot to take a picture of just the soup but took one with a sheese and tomato bagel too.

Vegan Pea Soup

If you can’t tell from the recipe I am trying to avoid oil, it really is empty calories, I’ve never used a huge amount but in all honesty I feel with my real push to lose weight it is just empty nothing calories. I was down 5 pounds this week (whoop!) so I am really trying to keep my focus. This oil free recipe is around 100 calories a serving so barely anything. It’s not the most filling but it is delicious!

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What I think about tesco as a vegan

What I think about Tesco as a vegan?

A bit of a weird title but “What I think about tesco as a vegan?” was the question asked by my omnivore husband this week. This comes off the back of the range of vegan ready meals launched this week, Wicked Kitchen . I’ve already tried a few  and have even been to two separate tesco’s to get them and my opinion on the taste of them is that they are delicious. They are plant based, don’t use fake meats/cheese and while I have absolutely nothing against these (and eat them from time to time), these meals are really tasty and don’t need the fake stuff. They are also pretty healthy for ready meals, £4 a pop is pretty steep but for an occasional treat (and in place of a takeaway!) it’s great to have options.

A conversation with my husband about these lead the above question, what I thought about tesco. I felt a bit annoyed at this question initially but dug deeper to try to understand what he really was asking. I asked, in what way? He said morally, they are one of the worst companies out there ethically, and sell mostly non vegan food, so what do you think about them. Here are my thoughts:

  1. I feel like people judge vegans way more strictly on their ethics than they do non-vegans. Do I go around asking non-vegans about what they think about tesco? It’s like being vegan is taken as a target on your back, and you are expected to have much higher ethics in every single area of your life. Now I know, vegans probably do consider ethics in some areas more, certainly when it comes to using animals. But being vegan does no equate to being more ethical in every area of life. They are unrelated in my opinion. Veganism is defined by the vegan society as“… a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” Nothing to do with other ethical areas. Do I think vegans consider ethics more in other areas too? I don’t know, some certainly do, some don’t. Do I feel comfortable with the ethics of Tesco? Not particularly. Why do I shop there? Because of number 2…
  2. I have a lack of choice. Realistically, the way the world is built, and where I live in it, the main options for quick easy shopping are large supermarkets. I feel when it comes to the ethics of these (Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys, Lidl, Aldi etc) they are all probably pretty similar. My life is busy, I work a full time job, have a family, try to look after myself somewhat, have pets etc, and have limited time to shop/look for other options. Therefore I shop at places like Tesco. If there were other options in my area I would definitely look into them. I do look to see if there are local shops/delivery options but really where I live in the West Coast of Scotland (Inverclyde), there isn’t many choices. If there are some out there which you know please let me know too!
  3. Non-vegan food. Obviously Tesco et. al sell mostly non-vegan food. As a vegan I don’t like this. But, surely the more vegan food they sell the less space and demand they have for non-vegan food, the less non-vegan food they order, the less animals are killed, the less animals are bred and on and on. Tesco recently shut some meat and fish counters due to lack of demand and the new ready meals have been selling out all over the country. Just eat has seen a ridiculous rise of 987% for vegetarian food and the RSPCA says there has been a 37% rise in demand for meat alternatives. This can surely only lead to less animal death. All of those statistics are for the UK only, I’m aware in other areas of the world meat consumption is increasing, but for the UK this is great news, and I am confident this will spread. I believe people are slowly waking up to the fact that meat is bad for the planet, bad for people and I think concern for animal rights is beginning to grow.

So there it is, my opinion on tesco as a vegan. Bit of a weird one I know but worth a post I thought!

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Okja Review | Movie Review

Okja Review

I watch quite a lot of films, and I usually try to watch the vegan type so I have decided to do a little write up of the films/books that I watch/read in case people are looking for information on these, I will try to keep these spoiler free. Also, I don’t consider myself a particularly professional reviewer, however I do watch a lot of films so feel I at least have a fairly informed opinion.

Myself, my husband and daughter watched Okja on netflix at the weekend. When it first came out a few months ago it was something I wanted to see. Although not essentially a vegan film, the premise is that of a special kind of animal that has been bred for food. However, when the time comes the main protagonist (South Korean Seo-Hyun Ahn) wants to save the animal from slaughter.

My daughter is 9 and I assumed Okja was child friendly, however it actually has a 15 age rating, and there are a couple of graphic, uncomfortable scenes in it. I am fairly open minded when it comes to age ratings, and my daughter didn’t understand the main graphic scene, so I would personally say that for tweens it is acceptable. It really depends on the child. The sad reality is that the scenes which cause distress are completely based on the reality of what happens in the animal agriculture industry on a probably minute by minute basis. That we feel this is too graphic to show our children, yet the majority of people feed their children the products of it (and feed themselves it) without even the briefest consideration, multiple times daily is surely an indictment on the way the world is.

By the end of the film I struggled not to cry, honestly the lump in my throat was huge. I found the film moving, and really was behind the main characters. It was an unrealistic film, yet completely realistic also. Definitely not a “vegan” film as such with a couple of references to non-vegan things, although the film makes never said as such, but I think it would make people think. Worth a watch for sure.

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Curried Barley and Mushrooms | Slow cooker

I’m trying to save some time cooking this year and would love to start using my slow cooker, so one of the first recipes I thought I would try was curried barley and mushrooms. This is out of one of my old non-vegan slow cooker cookbooks, although it has quite a lot of vegan options, and more that can certainly be veganised. This ended up more like a biryani but was very tasty, the barley was light and fluffy but very flavourful.

Curried Barley and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 Bunch of Spring Onions
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 tsp Mild Curry Paste
  • 1 1/2 cups of Vegetable Stock
  • 1 cup of Pearl Barley
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 cup of Coconut Milk (I made mine from 2 tsp of dehydrated coconut mix)
  • 400g Mushrooms
  • 1 tin of Garden Peas

Method

  1. Chop spring onions, sweat for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add turmeric and mix well. Add curry paste and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Rinse pearl barley and add to the pot, put back on a very mild heat for a minute or so, until well coated.
  4. Add stock, coconut milk and a bay leaf and bring to the boil.
  5. Put in slow cooker, cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4. This took less time that I thought it would so I kept it on warm for a while until we were ready to eat.
  6. When ready to server sautee mushrooms and drain a tin of peas then mix these both in with the grains. Serve with rice and vegetables

Curried barley and mushrooms

Definitely recommended if you like Indian flavour foods, it was something a little different as well with the barley. Very healthy and filling. I had leftovers the next day as well which was just as nice re-heated.

I also think I will start including a rough amount for calories, considering I am calorie counting! This served 4 people at around 273 calories a portion. Any rice/vegetables are extra. I had it with brown rice and veg which took the meal up to around 500 calories. Not too bad for such a big meal!

Also just wanted to say that so far I have had no takeaways this year! I know it’s only the 8th of January but my husband has had 2 lots of takeaway food so far so I’m feeling good about it! I’ve been fasting most days, having smoothies most days and it’s going well.

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January 2018 Progress Report February 2018 Weight Loss Report

A blip in a long long journey

I’m now a few days into the New Year and on have officially weighed myself and as I knew I had a bit of a blip, I am up a stone exactly, taking my weight to 218 pounds. I’m still 52 down but there is no doubt I am disappointed with myself and the gain.

Since I did the 10k, and even in the run up to it I knew I was eating too much. I was focusing on completing the race, knowing I needed to fuel my body, and to be honest I think I just needed a break. Losing weight is a long ongoing process, it takes up a lot of my thoughts, I need it to, that is the only way I can ensure that I keep going in the right direction. I need to be logging everything I eat, considering every single mouthful. If I don’t I go the other way. So for three months there I didn’t go completely haywire, I still fasted a fair bit, kept an eye on what I was eating but I knew I was eating too much. That, combined with Christmas and New Year has led to the stone gain.

Looking at this from the other direction though I can be positive about this gain too. Three whole months, not quite following plan, barely exercising, then Christmas and New Year and I only gained a stone! Previously, when I’ve had an off spell all of the weight has come back and more. So gaining a stone, what is that over the course of a lifetime journey?

This week so far I have been excellent with my eating, 18 hour fasts, smoothies and a salad for my first two meals totally around 500 calories, then a large evening meal. I’m averaging 10 – 13 portions of fruit and vegetables every day, feeling full, and way less bloated. I just need to wait and see how the weight loss goes now!

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January 2018 Progress Report February 2018 Weight Loss Report

New Years Resolutions | Word for 2018

Well another year is drawing to a close, I’m left marvelling at how 2017 passed so quickly. I already covered in my last post how I felt that 2017 was overall a success, but it is time to look to the New Year,make plans for how I want 2018 to go, an set an intentional word for 2018.

Last year when making my resolutions I purposefully steered clear of specific weight loss targets. I had lost some weight and hit some major plateaus, this year has been fairly similar. Last year I also decided to set a word for the year, and throughout times in 2017 I have tried to keep that word, Simplify, in mind. I did simplify a lot of my daily routines, food and exercise. This year, weight loss is in the forefront of my mind. I know, it’s not linear, I only have so much control over how much I can do, but I feel I’m ready to make a good long push to get off the rest. I’m around halfway, half to go, I’m sure I can do it. Therefore, my word for 2018 is Focus. I’m focusing on losing around 5 stone. It may seem a lot, I’m not sure whether my body will play ball but I’ve decided 2018 is the year when I give it my all. So, how am I going to change my behaviour to do this? Some of it is based off of what I already do, and some is taking it a little further,

Word for 2018 – Focus

Fasting

On work days I will follow 18:6, fasting for 18 hours every day, and having an eating window of 6. I will start eating at 1 pm, and finish by 7. Now I honestly don’t know whether fasting will be a massive help with weight loss but logic dictates, if I am less time to eat I should eat less. Towards the end of this year I have been fasting, but in all honesty I’ve been eating too much in the window, taking it as a time to really force food in. I’ve not gained (maybe over Christmas though!) but it’s not helped me lose. One thing about fasting though is that I feel great when I follow it, I am full of energy, generally not hungry, feel lighter and just feel good.

Whole Foods Plant Based Diet

I already “mostly” follow a whole foods plant based diet. I’m taking this a step further in 2018. I’m going to cut down drastically on oil, sugar and processed foods. My first meal of the day when fasting will be a large smoothie full of fruit and vegetables. If hungry after this I will have a salad a little later in the afternoon. In the evening I will have a fairly large, mostly plant based meal. For example Risotto, Pasta, Chilli, Curry, Stir fry, Rice and vegetables. Certain things will be staples, all green vegetables, all vegetables in general, paired with wholegrains, legumes, beans. Snacks will need to be looked at carefully, I want to start being more smart with snacks, rice cakes, things not full of sugar, not just jump to a packet of crisps. I’m still going to be loosely calorie counting and using myfitnesspal, but not to be strict with calories, more to watch my nutrition. I believe that you can really pack away lots of whole fruits and veggies without thinking too much about calories.

Goodbye Takeaways

This is going to be a huge one for me and I feel I have really sabotaged myself this year with takeaways. I am busy with work, I am out every day from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm, my husband is an awful cook, therefore it’s down to me to provide the meal every night. A lot of evenings I am feeling lazy, it’s not tiredness as such, just a desire to not be cooking. We will then get a takeaway. This is at least once a week, but usually it’s at least twice. It costs a fortune, a family of 4 is at least £30 a time, twice a week is £60, every month that is £240 and that is a really low estimate. I hate it, but for some reason I keep doing it. This is a behaviour I am going to work really hard to change. I will allow myself two lunch time takeaways a month (sandwiches/pasta/subway/possibly a burger king) and one big takeaway dinner a month, probably a Chinese. If my husband still wants them occasionally that’s fine, I’m not in control of him or his choices, but for me, and the kids, on those nights I can’t be bothered my first choice will be to pop to a supermarket and get something convenient, a tofu stir fry, sweet potatoes to pop in the microwave and have with beans, even a plant based microwave pot. I just cannot justify it any longer. Taking away the money, and the hindrance to weight loss, I always feel awful after eating them! I eat way too much, it’s full of salt and oil, yeah, they have to go.

Focus goes into more than the weight loss too, I have signed up for 2018 in 2018 with the aim again of getting rid of much of my possessions. The more I get rid of the less time I spend cleaning, that really does go hand in hand so I’m back on the bandwagon. I also want to focus on spending less and saving more. We want to go on a family holiday this year, I’d like to pay off some debt and even save a little. All of this should be possible with some cuts in some areas, re-prioritising in others.
Meditation again is something I want to keep up over the year too, it helps me in ways other things don’t, keeping me grounded, aware of the now, not so caught up in mind. I also want to keep blogging, blog more in fact, I’m going to need the support and accountability in the year ahead.

So that’s my 2018. My only tangible goal this year is 5 stone (at least) in one year. I’m putting all my focus into that and I’m going to do it.

Remember you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I’m going to need you all during 2018 for support ?

New Years Resolutions/ Reflecting on 2017

Reflecting on 2017 | A Successful Year

It’s that time of year where you look back at the year that’s passed and begin to make new plans for the year ahead. I would say that 2017 for me has been a pretty good year! I got a full time graduate developer/IT job which I enjoy and I got a new car which isn’t completely falling apart, that has released a lot of anxiety and stress I used to feel.

Last year I set the word simplify as my word of 2017, along with some tangible goals which I will recap:

  • Simplify my diet/Eat more plant based
  • Simplify my exercise/Run a 10k
  • Simplify my house and routines
  • Simplify my waste/Recycle

When it comes to simplifying my diet and eating more plant based I did pretty good! The plant based simple menu I came up with in January last year was pretty much followed, nearly every single week (although we’re all a bit fed up with tomato pasta!). I definitely ate more plants, however I did feel we ate a lot more takeaways. I’m putting this down to the new job (being out of the house from 7:30 am – 6:00 pm takes its toll) and having more money. This is something I’m going to address next year.

Simplifying my exercise and running a 10k. Well that was well and truly smashed. I ran the 10k in October, never did I really think it was possible. I’ve barely ran since, weather and time, but as soon as the weather improves I’m getting back out there. I also went back to swimming and rejoined the gym for when I can actually make it.

Simplifying my house and routines was more mixed, I took part in 2017 items in 2017 and failed miserably, only getting rid of 680. However added to my 1000+ from November 2016 I think that’s not too bad. I still have a lot I want to get rid of so I’m back in for 2018 in 2018 and determined to complete it this time!

Simplifying my waste didn’t really go anywhere, I am recycling more but this is something I want to look at again.

Losing weight wasn’t a goal I set myself last year, I knew that while I was trying to lose I had to focus on other things for a while, but I’m over 20 pounds down in the year without focusing too much. That though will be different in 2018 but more on that early next week.

Overall I would say a successful year. The highlights have been getting the job and running the 10k but overall it has been good, my family are well and healthy, animals are fine (17 year old cat is still going!), I’ve met and spent time with great people old and new and I will look back on 2017 with fondness.

I also just wanted to say a massive thank you to anyone reading this! I can see from google analytics that some people are actually coming here to read what I say which is kind of scary considering I mostly talk/type rubbish, but it is really appreciated. I have been quiet on Instagram for a while, in all honesty I just needed a break from weight loss as a whole but with the New Year approaching I’m feeling re energised again and would love for anyone else on this journey (or any!) to give me a follow/send me a message.

You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit.

I hope everyone has a lovely New Year and I will see you on the other side!

Vegan Nutella Christmas Tree

For pudding this year I have decided to give the Bosh Vegan Nutella Christmas Tree a go. I couldn’t resist the look of it on facebook, it’s maybe not a traditional desert but warm teamed with vegan cream we are all in agreement in our house that tradition can go out the window for this!

Vegan Nutella Christmas Tree

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of Hazelnuts, roasted
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 200g of melted dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup oat milk
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • Olive oil
  • Vegan Cream

Method

I had pre-shelled hazelnuts from Holland and Barrett so didn’t need to shell them. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast for around 12 minutes at 180 degrees celsius.

Put in a food processor with salt and process until well broken up. Melt dark chocolate, I used a 200g 75% dark chocolate bar, add this to the food processor. Add 1/2 cup of oat milk and 1/2 cup of maple syrup. Process until well mixed.

Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Lay down the first sheet of puff pastry. Spread the nutella mix in a tree/triangle shape on the first layer.

On top place the second layer of pastry to make a pastry/nutella sandwich. Cut the excess pastry where there is no nutella so you end up with a large triangle.

Slice in along the edges going up the edges of the tree. Twist these a little.

Vegan Nutella Christmas Tree - Uncooked

Brush the tree with olive oil and bake in the oven at 200 degrees celsius for around 20 minutes. Enjoy with vegan cream. I forgot to take a picture of the finished tree but will be having some more tonight so will come back and add a finished picture!

Remember you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support ?

Christmas Menu 2017 | Vegan Christmas

Christmas Menu 2017

I know it’s late but I thought I would share my plans for what we are having this Christmas. I can’t quite believe that the year is nearly at and end already. I’m very badly organised this year due to work being crazy busy in the last few weeks, but I’ve not forgotten about my blog and in fact plan to use it a lot more in 2018 to help me reach my goals. More on that next week however!

Starter

  • Smoked “Salmon”/Carrot Lox on Bagels with Vegan Cream Cheese
  • Spiced Carrot Soup

Main

  • Turkey Style Seitan
  • Giant Sausage Roll
  • Stuffing
  • Vegan Sausage Rolls
  • Vegan Sausages in Fake Bacon
  • Maple Parsnips and Carrots
  • Roast Potatoes
  • Spiced Red Cabbage
  • Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts
  • Turnip and Carrot Mash
  • Vegan Bread Sauce

Pudding

  • Vegan Nutella Christmas Tree
  • Mince Pie Brownies

So that’s the plan for Christmas day, I still need to work out timings and I suspect some of it will be pre-made, or at least partially pre-made tomorrow. I plan to be eating leftovers for days.

Remember you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support ?

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Vegan Mac and Cheese is something my daughter is always asking for. To be honest, I have an issue with white coloured food (excluding cauliflower and alpro vegan cream) so I’ve never really missed it, but for her sake I have attempted to make it a couple of times with no real success.

In previous attempts with potatoes and carrots the sauce lacked creaminess, however I had seen a few recipes pop up on facebook using cashews which certainly appeared to improve the consistency so thought I would give it a try. Additionally it doesn’t take that long, although a little preparation of the cashews is required in the morning/night before.

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 200g dried macaroni
  • 1 cup of white potato peeled and chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup of carrots peeled and chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup of water from the boiled vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup of rice milk
  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Method

  1. In the morning before I left for work I put my cashews in a bowl of water to soften them a little, my blender is good but not amazingly good so I hoped this would help and it did.
  2. When you are ready to start making it put the macaroni on to boil.
  3. Peel and chop the veg into small chunks, the smaller they are the quicker it cooks. Place them all together in boiling water and boil until they are all soft. For me this was around 15 minutes.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to remove the veg and put in the blender. Drain the cashews and add all of the other ingredients.
  5. Blend until nice and smooth.
  6. Mix with the macaroni and serve. Next time I may use some vegan cheese and breadcrumbs and put in the oven.

Vegan Mac and Cheese

That’s it, nice and simple, tasty and filling. To get over my white food issues I added some sauteed mushrooms and onions and sprinkled a liberal amount of chilli flakes on but my daughter had as is and ate the lot.

Remember you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. You can also now find my on Strava to follow my slow (hopefully getting faster) runs. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support ?

Great Scottish Run 10k 2017 – Completed

 

I thought I should do an update about the Great Scottish Run 10k 2017, now the day itself has passed. The morning of Sunday the 1st of October was, as we say in Scotland dreich. I had been keeping an eye on the weather on the BBC website and it had went from sunny, to heavy rain to light rain the night before. Great Scottish Run 10k 2017 - Train

I was in the pink wave (the slowest) and my start time was 10.05. This was my first official race so I didn’t really know what to expect. My husband and kids were coming along to support me so we drove to Paisley and parked there, knowing the main streets of Glasgow were shut for the race we decided to get the train in. A lot of other people also had this idea and the train was completely packed, standing room only and not much at that.

We arrivGreat Scottish Run 10k 2017 - Start Lineed before any of the 10k runners went and I watched as the white wave and professional runners took off. Then I went off on my own to find my start place. Although I knew the numbers of people that took part, I’m not sure I really appreciated how many people that is, afterwards I found out nearly 9000 people took part in the 10k over three waves. This was my view from the start line, I was around 2/3 of the way back, as you can see from the picture there is a lot of people waiting to go!

My runner friend who was supposed to be taking part with me unfortunately had to drop out due to a badly timed health issue so I was there at the start on my own.

The official start time was 10.05 but according to my timing chip I didn’t cross the start line until 10.12.

I had been warned about the long, pretty hard hill at the start and had decided that there would be no walking in this 10k, I had trained enough to run it and would have been disappointed to have walked at any point, in fact this was my only aim for the whole event, I didn’t mind how long it took, I just wanted to keep running. I was also mindful of taking off at a pace that was far outwith my own comfortable pace and when I started running I was overtaken…a lot! I thought I would feel embarrassed about this but I didn’t care at all. I also overtook a lot of people, and as soon as we hit that hill a lot of people started walking, I was surprised at the amount of people walking so early. I dragged myself up it, huffing and puffing, but the relief when I reached the top and started the descent was great, and that was almost 1k in.

According to my Strava I was going at a faster pace than I usually did so I slowed myself down a little and just kept going. It was actually a pretty easy run for me, I had done 10k twice already so knew I could do it. Being surrounded by so many people really carries you on too. Once the initial embarrassment was out of the way I really enjoyed the whole thing. I occasionally took my headphones out to hear the music along the way but really my playlist is so ingrained in with running I needed it.

 

 

By the time I hit the 5k and halfway mark I was going at a slightly faster than normal comfortable pace and I felt sure I was going to finish without stopping so relaxed a little.

At 7k there was an absolutely huge downpour, so much rain I couldn’t even see briefly. While this sounds awful, I was roasting so I didn’t mind that much. Along the way I had seen my friend who had dropped out (and high fived him) and my husband and children twice.

I did have some GPS issues, I started the run before the start line then paused it, restarting closer to the line. Not being down with the ways of Strava I didn’t consider that it would start GPS and timing straight away, giving me a very slow 1st km, then adding more on at the end.

Great Scottish Run 10k 2017 Strava

My heart rate was pretty steady throughout the whole run. You can see the starting hill with the elevation changes, there was another very steep little hill about a third of the way through.

Great Scottish Run 10k 2017 Fitbit

My finish time was 1 hour 23 minutes 53 seconds, which is also my fastest ever 10k time by around 4 minutes, not bad! I did it! I ticked “Running a 10k Race” off of my New Years Resolution list. I still have a few things left on there but that was the big one for me this year. Never did I think it was possible. Not only was it possible, it was enjoyable.

Great Scottish Run 10k 2017 - Completed

Great Scottish Run 10k 2017 Medal

I may be a glutton for punishment but I think I’ve decided to try the half marathon next year. That gives me plenty of time to lose more weight and increase my distance. Anyone else out there made the jump from 10k to half marathon have any advice?

Remember you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. You can also now find my on Strava to follow my slow (hopefully getting faster) runs. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support 🙂

 

Great Scottish Run 10k

Firstly, if anyone reads my blog you have my sincerest apologies for having disappeared for the last couple of months. I have majorly struggled with time management, which in turn stresses me out, which then leads to more time management issues, it’s a circle I struggle to get out of. My whole social media interaction has been less recently, business, but in part because of the main reason for this post, I’m currently in training for the Great Scottish Run 10k.

Way back in January I made some new years resolutions and set a word for the year, simplify. My new years resolution were –

  • Simplify my diet, more plants, less processed, do this by following a simpler meal plan
  • Simplify my home and routines, get rid of 2017 things
  • Run a 10k race
  • Simplify waste, more recycling, thoughtful purchases

I would say this year I’ve done not too badly, I’ve continue to get rid of things from my home (although I will need a big push soon to reach 2017), my diet could be a little more simple, I’m still recycling but would like to do more, but one of these, possibly the hardest, I am about to put to rest. On the 1st October I’m taking part in the Great Scottish Run 10k race. Last time I was posting about running I couldn’t even do 5k. I finally completed couch to 5 k on the 29th July and promptly signed up for the 10k race on the 30th of July. Nothing like throwing yourself in the deep end!

For most of my 5k training quite honestly I struggled. I started the program three times this year, and dropped out around week 6 twice (this year, I’ve attempted couch to 5 k 5 times now). But I was determined, I knew I had committed to 10k and can’t really do that unless I can do 5 (obviously!) so I dragged myself out and it was third time lucky. And by week 7 of 9 (shout out to fellow star trek lovers) , it began to feel more comfortable. My breathing felt more in control, I could even think about things other than pain and regret of why I was doing this. I completed the program believing I could do 10k. So I signed up and jumped straight into 5k to 10k training.

This went pretty successfully, but I found I was outstripping what the program said, when I added in intervals the whole thing was harder so I just kept running. I was doing about 7 – 8 k within a week or two of the 5k. Then one day I woke up after a night of hallucinations with a temperature and a painful swollen foot. A trip to the doctor later and I discovered I had cellulitis, a nasty deep tissue infection that can turn septic quickly. After a couple of days narrowly avoiding hospital admittance, and two weeks of strong antibiotics my foot began to look normal. I had missed two and a half weeks of training however so my first run I only did 3k, and on my second run I went out with the intention of doing 5 but I felt good, and did 8.5, the most I’d ever done.

Since then I have ran a mix of 5 – 10k (Yes, I’ve actually already ran 10k!). It’s painful, but I can do it.

I do want to caveat all of this with the fact that I am very slow, very very slow. 8 – 9 minutes a km slow. However, I am still obese, so ya know, I’m not that fussed about speed at the moment, just doing it is my aim. The slowest pace that you are allowed to run as part of the race (and not on the pavement) is 12 minutes a km, so I’m well within that.

Great Scottish Run 10k Route

This is the route of the 10k, the main worry I have is about hills. I have done very little hill running although have now taken some of my runs to the very large hill behind my house, I’m hoping I’ve not left it too late. I think the crowds and atmosphere though will pull me through.

My plans for the day, arrive early, make sure my phone is charged, put on my headphones and run. As long as I make it to the end without stopping I will be happy. Ideally I want no walking, which I think I can do.

After the 10k, who knows? I think I need to focus on losing more weight before taking running much further than the 10, but I do enjoy it and have my eye on the half marathon next year. I’ve also started swimming and while being slow I’m fairly strong, maybe I’ll take up cycling and do a triathlon by the time I’m 40!

Remember you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. You can also now find my on Strava to follow my slow (hopefully getting faster) runs. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support 🙂

My Approach to Social Media

This post comes off the back of a mammoth post about veganism, and specifically the damage caused by red meat to both humans and the environment, made by my husband on Facebook recently which sparked a lot of debate (and outrage from some).

My husband’s general way of using Social Media is very brash, he has no care for offending anyone, deeming offence solely with the reader. I do agree with this, however, my approach to social media is the opposite to his. Instead of not caring at all about others I worry too much that I may offend them! This is on my personal page, on my diminishing vegan page I post anything as my thoughts are that people have to go there to follow it therefore are fine with what I say.

I noticed pre any vegan related posts I used to get a lot of likes on things. Now please believe me when I say that I couldn’t care less whether lots of people “liked” what I have said. But I have noticed a sharp decline since I went vegan. My assumption is that people who I’m not that close to have unfollowed me. Of course that is people’s right to, the truth is hard to take especially from someone you went to school with in the mid 90’s and have never seen in person since. It’s easier to hide than read and think.

This correlation though between veganism and likes made me think about whether I was offending people, was I doing wrong by sharing things about veganism? I never shared any graphic content, more interesting articles and information I thought people may not know, often not even saying anything of my own.

My worry about this led to this website, my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I occasionally shared something on facebook, usually about visiting a vegan festival or the like, but I pretty much stopped sharing information. That was until I witnessed the blow up on my husband’s status. A lot of people on his status said that this was not the right way about getting your point across, but having done it the other way for a year a half I can say he got more reaction than I ever have!

So I have started sharing on my personal facebook again, I ensure as far as I can what I share is from a legitimate source, try to find academic backup, and I even give a commentary on it.

So far I’ve had one bacon joke, original eh? I’m going to keep posting. It is too important not to. Climate change has been in the news so much recently and many people don’t even know the impact their diet has on the planet. If they don’t care about animals, surely they will care about what happens to their children/grandchildren. I need to take a page out of my husbands book and just get on with it, and stop worrying about things I have no control over, it is not on me to think about the offence of every single person on my Facebook!

How much do you share on Facebook? Do you think about what others think about you?

Remember you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support 🙂

Fruit Birthday Cake | Fresh Fruit

It was my daughters birthday party last week, we visited our local laser tag place for two hours of fun with 10 kids and a couple of adults. May I just say at this point that I won both games. Not only did I beat 10 children, I beat my husband, teenage son and some random strangers. Clearly this is a proud moment for me! I’d like to thank my parents, my school etc etc..but most of all my weight loss because I could shoot/run/duck and hide my way to victory.

Ahem, now I have the tale of my victories out of the way I wanted to share my daughters birthday cake. Last year we made a Panda, rainbow, aquafaba layer cake which looking back on was pretty impressive! This year however she requested something a little different, a fruit cake, made with fresh fruit, namely a melon cake.

She loves fruit, and actually isn’t that big a fan of cake, and being the only vegan in her friend group and I think she likes being seen as the healthy one.

Sadly, I was a little worried about judgement. From who? Other parents, the venue, family, isn’t that mad? I was worried about being judged for giving children fruit rather than a huge amount of sugar.

Worry of judgement aside, I just went for it, and created a three tier cake from watermelon, gala melon and honeydew. We then garnished it with 3 types of grapes, strawberries, kiwi and pineapple.

fruit birthday cake

The kids absolutely tore into it, after two games of laser tag I think it was actually perfect.

I did also make some vegan cupcakes, these were for the party bags and adults there, but making a fruit cake and cupcakes was much quicker and easier than making a full birthday cake, which was good considering how busy I am at the moment!

vegan cupcakes

At some point I’ll do a post about the cupcakes but you can find a close recipe for them here.

Remember you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support 🙂

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