As a household we generally eat quite a lot of curries, the spices and the flavours are just something I love and make regularly. We usually have rice as our side to curry, but sometimes we have a bread/flour based alternative. I have tried a few recipes for flatbreads or wraps before but I’m always keen to speed up the cooking time.
I think if you were to ask me what my favourite type of food was, Indian cuisine would definitely be in the top three, potentially number one. I love the flavours, the spices, the colours, the heat, in fact I can’t think of anything I don’t enjoy. Indian food is also great for vegan options, and as I posted previously, I have recently started making my curries using a curry base.
I absolutely love making curries, and over the years have posted many recipes for them, but sometimes I find something is missing when compared with my takeaway favourites (and it’s not just a ton of oil!) The consistency is often different, so I did a bit of research and found out that Indian takeaways use a curry base in their recipes. The curry base is a standard sauce mix that is used in every (or most) curries with combination of other curry specific ingredients, spices, vegetables.
In this last week the weather really has began to turn, and at this time of year I just love a casserole. The gentle spices in this recipie too really give it a nice warming feeling. It’s also a great excuse for me to get out my slow cooker. This is the third slow cooker I have owned, after having given away my previos two. I love the idea of a slow cooker, but I have just never really given them a shot.
Well, it’s been a while since I blogged with regularity, so I guess it is time for an update. I have been working from home for approaching 7 months, and I am incredibly grateful to still have a job as so many people don’t. Coronavirus really has changed life, but I have always been a homebody, so it’s not all bad for me, we are all healthy and doing okay. I’m glad we have the garden though.
This recipe was described by my daughter and husband as bread in a pancake. Now I’m not sure if that sounds appealing, and I hadn’t really considered that the mix used for the outside of this french toast is quite pancake like, but it was a fairly accurate description. Whilst you may not think it, french toast is just as easy to make without eggs, and really very tasty.
While the world has really came on a long way in vegan food, there are some things you just can’t easily get in the shops. Sweet treats seem to be lagging behind savoury offerings, in my local supermarkets anyway. Okay, some of the biscuits are accidentally vegan, and you have the free from options but these are so expensive, for a family of four they are not bought regularly.
Vegan Chocolate Chip Shortbread is something I have seen only once, in 2019 at Christmas in Holland and Barret. This cost £5, and it was okay, I enjoyed it but not like I should have. Since then I have been on the lookout for a quick and easy shortbread recipe, and I recently found one.
This recipe is very quick to make, the longest time is to chill your dough. I make this in the morning and put it in the fridge for the full day. The shortbread is delicious, so good that even if there was vegan chocolate chip shortbread available in the shops, I would still be making this. It’s pretty cheap too, okay, definitely not a health food, but for an occasional treat, it really hits the spot.
Chocolate Chip Shortbread
- 250 g Vegan Margarine I use flora buttery
- 130 g Caster Sugar I used Golden
- 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 pinch Salt
- 350 g Plain Flour
- 100 g Vegan Chocolate I used a bag of bourneville buttons
- Mix the margarine with the sugar in a large bowl.
- Add vanilla extract and a pinch of salt, mix further.
- Add the flour and mix until a fairly stiff dough is formed. You will have to use your hands at the end to knead the dough a little to ensure it is mixed well
- Chop your chocolate into smallish chips, then mix these in well by hand.
- Roll into a large ball, place in a bowl, cover and put in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
- Once chilled, roll out and cut into circles. Put on a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper.
- Bake in the oven at 200 degrees cesius (fan) for around 30 - 40 minutes. My oven seems to cook quite slowly, so ensure you check regularly. The edge will begin to brown, if the shortbread isn't cooked at this point turn down the temperature and cook a little longer.
- I allowed the shortbread to cook on the tray before moving.
This may sound a little strange, but I will more than likely have a mental link between this shortbread and the Coronavirus lockdown. I made this for the first time just before our lockdown began and I have made them now three times in the last two weeks. The whole family loves them, my husband even remarking that these were one of the best things I had ever made. Last time I made them I was unable to get the bourneville buttons at the shop so got some dark chocolate bars, including an orange flavour. The chocolate orange version of the shortbread was equally delicious so there are potentially many flavour combinations that can be tried!
Calorie wise, these are around 170calories dependent on the size of shortbread that you make. Last night we made 24 from this amount of mix so you can make these as small or large as you want dependent on your desire for chocolatey sugary goodness.
Well, we are still in lockdown and lockdown along with panic buying has meant that some specific staples haven’t been available in the supermarkets. One thing I’ve not been able to get a hold of for 3 weeks now is dried rice. I am onto our last packet, which isn’t great considering how much we eat!
On one of my minimal trips to the shops I did manage to get some microwave jasmine rice, it was one of the only types available, so decided to make a stir fry using vegetables I had left in the fridge and some tofu.
This recipe is very versatile, you can really add in whatever vegetables you have. For spices I literally only used soy sauce. This might not be to everyones taste but it was fine to me! It was so quick to make and deliciously umami flavoured, I have a real thing for salty/umami food. Of note though, I used reduced sodium soy sauce, this is optional of course,
Jasmine Fried Rice
- 1 Onion
- 10 Mushrooms White or fancy
- 2 Carrots
- 100 g Frozen Peas
- 1 Broccoli Head
- 2 Jasmine Rice Microwave Packets
- 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- Water sautee chopped onions.
- Once transluscent add chopped mushrooms and julienne carrots. I julienne my carrots using my peeler, if you don't have a peeler you can chop thinly, as thin as possible to cook as quickly as possible. Add broccoli chopped into small florets.
- Once cooked, add the microwave packets of rice. Alternatively you could use 250 - 300g cooked and cooled jasmine rice. I don't use this rice often enough to have a bag of it, so for this recipe just tend to use the pre-cooked packets.
- Mix well and add soy sauce to taste.
- Add peas and stir well, ensuring rice is cooked through. You can add a little olive oil if the rice is sticking to the pan and adding a little water doesn't help.
I had mine with smoked tofu and kale, which of course is completely optional. The calorie total is with tofu, without it would be around 400 calories.
I thought I would do a post with my current routine during this lockdown during coronavirus, and my efforts to not gain/lose weight (which isn’t doing great so far!)
We are currently in lockdown, only allowed to leave the house for strict reasons,
- Essential shopping
- One set of exercise with your family group or at least 2m apart from others
- Urgent Medical Appointments
- To and from work if required, but should only be essential
I have been working from home since the 13th March so have settled into it, but I am struggling a bit. I am good at logging in at start time, taking a break at lunch time and finishing at end time, but working in the same room all day as you usually relax in does make it a little more difficult to relax.
I am still getting up early, around 5:30 am. When I wake up I am meditating using the Waking Up app by Sam Harris. I was finding that my mind was running at a million miles per hour, and I wasn’t really aware of it, so I have introduced morning meditations and it seems to be helping. First morning I could barely stop thinking, but this is improving and I find during the day I am a little more mellow.
This is followed by either going for a short run, followed by my cooldown being a short dog walk, or a long dog walk in the morning. I haven’t been regularly exercising for a while, so the run is tough but I am trying to build up and just ensure I am getting outside for a bit. I’m currently fasting for around 18 hours. No breakfast for me, but I make it for everyone else in the morning before work.
Just before work starts I plan what my daughter will do that day with her school work. We are using a mix of work provided by the school, additional resources such as BBC Bitesize and Khan Academy, and time spent playing her musical instrument. She is pretty self motivated and just gets on with it unless she runs into any issues.
At lunch I get off my laptop for the whole hour. I have been doing some jobs in or for the garden at lunch time. My kitchen is currently looking like a makeshift greenhouse with seed trays everywhere. I will do a longer post about my garden and growing ambitions at some point soon (once things start growing!).
I’m then back on work for a few hours. After work I do some cleaning while making dinner. Meals have been not too different from usual, although some supplies are beginning to run low and seem to not be getting restocked in our nearest supermarket.
This week I am going to add in some kind of home body weight workout I can do with my daughter, squats, pushups for example. It is so important to keep moving during this time, I find it much harder to be strict with food while at home so much, so I need to keep my calorie burn up as much as possible.
I’m not losing weight at the moment, I’m probably eating too much, but every day I do try. I’m still using my fitness pal, meal prepping, making the usual meals, but here and there an occasional vegan cheese and pickle toastie may pop in my mouth, or vegan shortbread which I have the best recipe for (coming up soon!)
I’m going to the shops twice a week at the moment, the big shop is at the weekend, either early on Saturday or Sunday morning, and once midweek for bread and any other essentials. My logic of going at this time is that it is quiet, and hopefully they are restocked, however, for staples like pasta/rice, I’ve not been able to buy these for 3 weeks. Thankfully I had a couple of bags, and we have had some potato based meals to spread out the use of the things I can’t get. Also I am having cous cous with my lunch instead of rice as this is still available.
My weekends are being spent again, in the garden, or doing home related jobs (of which I have many). I’m also trying to include our daughter in these just to keep her occupied. This time is not easy, certainly not as easy as I expected it to be. Working from home has now got a little tiring, trips to the supermarket are paranoia filled, the news updates are terrifying. There is nothing we can do other than stay at home if you can, and if not try to stay physically away from other people. There are plenty of things I am grateful for, having a job that enables me to be able to work from home so I keep getting paid, our health, our house, there are many people in an awful position at the moment all over the world and I feel terribly sorry for them, so even through this I try to remember what I am grateful for.
Well this is not a post I thought I would be making. When, right at the end of 2019, news came out of china of a new virus, the coronavirus that was spreading, I didn’t seriously think that less than 3 months later, the entire UK would be in lock down, schools would be shut, I would be working from home and that numbers of people infected would be rising daily.
There are a few things that strike me during this time of crisis, and one major one is the difference in people’s attitudes. As of the 23rd March we are under an unofficial lockdown. We are only allowed outside of the house for very specific reasons. This has moved on from when I started writing this post just a few days ago where the scientific expert advice is that we were practising social distancing. All non-essential businesses are now closed, including clothes and electronics shops, pubs, nightclubs, libraries, cinemas, gyms, many restaurants/takeaways. Laws have been relaxed allowing many restaurants have changed to takeaways so that they can continue to generate some revenue but many have shut, including chains like McDonalds, KFC, and Greggs. There are a limited number of shops open now, we are only allowed out of the house for essential shopping, one period of exercise per day alone or with household members, emergency medical care or to go to essential jobs.
Even with all of this, there are still some people claiming this reaction to the Coronavirus is an overreaction, that they will be fine, we don’t need to worry, the flu kills more people (a whataboutism argument that just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny). These people flaunt the rules, there was a pub open locally at the weekend full of people. It was eventually shut, but this is ridiculous. I know people personally who had their elderly relatives over to visit for mothers day, when these people are the highest risk. The weather at the weekend was nice, and thousands flocked to the coast, mingling certainly less than 2 metres away from each other. The introduction of fines for disobeying the rules may curb this behaviour, but I worry they will need to make the lockdown even more stringent
The economy is facing one of it’s toughest times, countless people are losing jobs, businesses are going under. The government has announced a huge input of money into the economy, for people and businesses to try and keep them afloat.
Schools have shut and more than likely will not open until after the summer holidays. Exams are cancelled, only the children of key workers such as NHS staff are allowed to return to ensure they can still go to work.
When we were in Amsterdam in January, I remember watching the news in the hotel, and thinking about that the Netherlands had no confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, but considering whether the airport was safe. I saw a girl with a mask on and I was shocked for a second, but it seemed to sink in that something was happening.
Now, a few months on, it feels as though the world has changed. Everywhere is affected. Deaths are still fairly low (currently just over 17,000 worldwide, only 10,000 when I started writing this two days ago), but expected to rise exponentially. This seems unreal at the moment, like we are in a dream, or a simulation.
Now, as I mentioned, attitudes differ. I stand on the side of believing the scientists, they have no reason to lie. Governments have agendas, all politicians have an agenda and the current leadership in the UK is not who I chose, but scientists speak in facts and figures, and as someone who works with software and with computers, I appreciate facts and figures.
For our family, we are following the lockdown to the best of our capabilities. Limited trips to the shops for essential food shopping, washing hands before and after. No non essential travel, I go for a run and walk the dog before most of the neighbourhood has woke up. We are both working from home, supervising our daughters school work the best that we can.
My plea for anyone reading this is to stay at home. This virus is deadly for a number of reasons. This article explains the reason why the lockdown will work in the long term to save lives and is definitely worth a read. Another good article that describes how the virus works, why it kills people and generally the scientific background can be found here. There may be a time to discuss the suspected theory that the virus made the jump from a bat to humans at a Chinese Wet Market, or that the global lockdown is reducing our greenhouse gas output, but now isn’t that time.
Please everybody, stay safe, stay at home if you can. Don’t panic buy, wash your hands, follow the scientific advice and hopefully we make it to the other side.
Rice and beans, one of the best combinations of food. Protein, Carbs, and deliciously filling, I just love rice and beans and hence I love Vegan Jambalaya.
At the moment we are in lock down, so I’m currently using up dried and tinned goods that I have, and there are no complaints there from me, these already make up a large part of my diet.
I love spices, although I am trying to encourage my vegan 11 year old daughter to eat more whole foods, so have kept this tamed down a bit for my usual. We had this vegan jambalaya with green vegetables and chapati which I’ll post a recipe for soon.
- 300 g Brown Rice White rice can be used, but lower cooking time accordingly
- 1 large tin Chickpeas Drained
- 1 large tin Kidney Beans Drained
- 1 White Onion
- 8 White Mushrooms
- 50 g Frozen Peas
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 tin Chopped Tomatoes
- 2 tsp Oregano
- 1 tsp Thyme
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Cumin Powder
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 5 Water or Vegetable Stock
- 1 tbsp Tahini
- Sautee chopped onions in a little oil or water until transluscent.
- Add mushrooms and garlic and sautee until cooked.
- Add tinned tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add soy sauce and spices and stir well. Add rice and stock/water and stir well.
- Cook uncovered in large frying pan until liquid has evaporated and rice is cooked. More water or stock may need to be added.
- Add drained kidney beans and chickpeas and cook for another two minutes.
- Once beans are cooked through, and ready to be served add a tbsp of tahini and mix well. Serve with green vegetables.
This past month has been a world of chaos. Never mind losing weight, I have had one of those runs of bad luck where everything has gone wrong at once. I posted a little about this on Instagram, but I’ve been either too busy, or too emotional to post. Even getting through the basics of life at times this month has been difficult.
The first and most traumatic event was that my beautiful old cat suddenly got very sick. She had gradually been going off her food but I thought she was just getting a little fussy in her old age, however one morning we got up and she couldn’t use her back legs. We rushed her to the vets and were told she had a sudden onset of Chronic Kidney Disease. I nursed her through a extra month, with a subcutaneous drip daily, special medicine to make her eat, antibiotics, steroids, you name it. Unfortunately we reached a point where she was completely refusing food, and the drip wasn’t helping at all, so we had to make the difficult decision to have her put to sleep. This was on the 7th March, and I really struggled for the first few days to accept what had happened. The fact it had been my decision really upset me, I was plagued with continual thoughts of, could I have done more?
I had Shelly for 19 and a half years, I picked her up when I was 17 years old, and she was only 7 weeks. Over half of my lifetime later and life without her seems something I can almost not fathom. She was my trusted and loving companion through so much, my parents dying, meeting thomas, my children being born, so many house moves, job changes, being a student, pretty much my entire adult life. I am adjusting now, but I still look at her little spot every single time I come up the stairs, and inside I sigh. I know there was no option, and this is the quandry of all pet owners. I’m grateful though for having such a long time with her, and I will miss her dreadfully.
On top of losing my gorgeous girl,
- My washing machine broke
- A leak was caused by new washing machine, plumber had to come out
- Cooker element broke
- Electrician pointed out that our fuse board is dangerously old so have arranged for this to be replaced
- Car broke at the house and had to get it towed
- Had to go into the garage for a relatively expensive fix
- A family member has had some ongoing, worrying health issues
At one point in the month I could have just screamed. I felt so run down, a lot of that was probably attributed to the internal knowledge that Shelly didn’t have long left. Things were finally beginning to settle down until Covid-19 came along to remind me that all of these problems are passing, and sometimes there are bigger worried to think about.
Myself and my husband are lucky as we both work jobs which enable us to work from home in this time of crisis. I feel incredibly sorry for those who can’t, all areas, but the fear of those working in healthcare, I can’t even begin to imagine.
On the weight loss front, things have pretty much been a wash out. I have been eating pretty well, counting calories, having a mostly whole foods plant based diet but I still don’t lose weight. When I hear people say you don’t need to count calories on a whole foods plant based diet it makes me angry. This may be right for some people, those have recently switched from a standard junk food diet, but for me, after years of eating mostly plants, it’s just not enough.
So I come to two conclusions being the solution. I can either severely cut my calories, and eat the same amount of meals, trying to frontload the day, or I can go back to intermittent fasting. Recently I have made the decision to move towards intermittent fasting. Doing this during the week gives me a little more wiggle room with calories. In all honest, I get so frustrated and just think will I ever get to a healthy weight?
Anyway, I’m going to keep trying, but for the next few weeks I would imagine anyone in the world reading this will be trying to remain isolated. This coronavirus is incredibly worrying. I’m not in the danger age group, and I know it doesn’t affect children as badly, but you can’t help but worry that it is your bad luck to be the one in the tiny percent that is affected by this. I’ll do a post relating to the corona virus later this week, but keep safe everyone!
Myself and my husband have been to the Netherlands a couple of times now and we have just loved it, the architecture, the food, the people, the public transport, everything is amazing. We loved it so much that six months ago we decided to start learning Dutch using duolingo. We’d been looking for a language to learn for a while, and thought why not go for Dutch?
We also decided to book a long weekend away in January, to give us something to look forward to in the bleakest of months, so went to Amsterdam and this is my review of the food here.
Amsterdam is one of the most vegan friendly cities I have visisted, there are so many places on the Happy Cow app it is almost difficult to decide where go to.
Maoz – Vegan Falafel Chain
In europe, all of the places we have visited, there seems to be a lot more falafel available. I’m not speaking your standard lunch falafel wrap here, these are freshly made, fried falafel that I have struggled to find in Scotland (shout out to Turquoise here in Glasgow as they come pretty close!)
Maoz is a chain of falafel based fast food options, I have seen three in Amsterdam at least, and I wish so much they would come to the UK! The main choice is a falafel pitta, they also do salad boxes, and have a large array of salad toppings for your pitta. They have lots of sauces too, and everything I’ve had out of here has just been delicious. They also do fries that are crispy and tasty.
Vegan Junk Food Bar
This is another chain, I’ve seen at least two of these in the city centre of Amsterdam. They have a large menu of junk food, everything is vegan, and again, everything I’ve tried out of here in the past few visits has been delicious. I couldn’t eat it every day, it is definitely under the junk food category, but when you are really hungry it hits the spot! The Bitterballen are amazing!
Willerton Vegan Cheese Shop
After reading an article about a British expat who had moved to Amsterdam and opened a vegan cheese shop, we decided to go visit while in Amsterdam.
They have a variety of cheeses, some made by themselves and more made by some third party companies. We tried a few different options (all of which were delicious!) but settled on an Apricot Cumin and , a hickory smoked and the cheese fondue.
We ate these with crackers over the next few days in the hotel and I could have eaten double. All of the cheeses were delicious, and while not exactly like cows milk cheese, they are so close it is almost indistinguishable. I struggle to see how anyone could complain about vegan cheese when the upper end vegan variety are truly delicious, with none of the cruelty. Now if only we could get the supermarket vegan cheese a little better.
Okay, it’s not a review, but one night we had been out all day and were exhausted, so decided to go back to the hotel a little earlier to watch a film. I had heard Dominos did a vegan option in Europe, and it turns out I was right, and they delivered to where we were staying. Not much to say other than it was good to be able to get a takeaway vegan pizza. This is something lacking from the bit of Scotland I live in!
The Breakfast Club
On our last day we went to the breakfast club in Sloterdijk (where we were staying). We had a vegan breakfast burger with fries each, and then shared a portion of pancakes between us. The burger was nice, not the best I’ve had but tasty, but the pancakes were the best out of the two choices.
My last meal in Amsterdam was at Schiphol Airport. We stopped at a little place called Cafe Flor, and my body at this point was crying out for healthy food. I had the tofu poke bowl and it was so fresh, tasty, very nice. My husband had a wrap which was okay, but the poke bowl was the best of the two. It has inspired me to make something similar to mix up my meal prepped lunches. The rice/tofu/vegetable combination really hit the spot and gave me some vitamins I may have been missing over the last few days with all of the junk food! Although to top off the healthy food, we did share a piece of banana bread (I think this was pretty healthy too, it certainly was tasty!)
It’s safe to say I love the Netherlands, and Amsterdam. It’s not often I feel so comfortable somewhere else, I consider myself a real home body, but I just love Amsterdam, the architecture, the people, and the food! My Dutch is coming along, and we are booked to go back in Summer with the kids for a week, can’t wait to try some new places!
While I am still overweight, I am no longer morbidly obese. The day I discovered I was categorised as morbidly obese, well it wasn’t a surprise but it was depressing. While I may have some grumbles with the BMI measurement system (doesn’t take into account body composition for example), there was no denying it, I was massively overweight for someone of my height, and I didn’t need a predefined scale to tell me this, although there is something awful sounding about it, obese to the point of morbidity.
While you can lose weight, lose the fat, there are some things you just can’t undo. It’s why prevention is better than a cure, but the irreversible damage of morbid obesity is unfortunately something that many of us will need to face.
Skin…skin and more skin.
You know when you go on Instagram or Facebook, and you see these amazing weight loss transformations, lost over 100 pounds, look at me now, with an attached picture of the person looking like they never were 100 pounds overweight? That’s a reality that doesn’t happen very often and isn’t realistic for most people for one big reason. Where does the skin go?
Skin has elasticity, and if you are young enough I’m sure it isn’t quite as extreme, but once that skin has been stretched, it doesn’t just spring back into place, no matter how slowly you lose weight.
I have a lot of loose skin. Being only 5 foot 2, and originally 270 pounds, my skin was very stretched when I was at my highest weight. My worst area by far is my stomach. I still carry most of my weight there, but it’s difficult to tell what is remaining fat and what is skin. I also had two cesarean sections along the way which I’m sure hasn’t helped.
My only solution I fear for my stomach would be to get surgery once I have finally reached my goal weight, but until I get there it’s difficult to tell quite how bad it will be.
I also have loose skin at the top of my thighs, and a little around my upper arms, but my stomach is where it is at it’s worst. One day I may share a picture of it but that would take an extreme amount of bravery.
When I’m wearing clothes that doesn’t cling to it (work trousers – why do you fit so bad?! I usually wear flowing dresses), to the outside it probably doesn’t look too bad. I know though the damage underneath.
One thing that helps me dealing with the skin is to see others who have had similar issues, on youtube and instagram I love Jordan Shrinks, she has a number of videos from before and after weight loss surgery and is very open about the impact on her skin. Another favourite is PuggyPantsDoesPlants who had weight loss surgery, and again has pictures from before and after. These ladies are so brave for posting these, and as someone who is considering weight loss surgery, it gives you a realistic end goal, separate from the “oh I had no loose skin at all” talk.
Still being morbidly obese inside your head
A lovely issue that you may or may not suffer with is that you are still the same weight in your head. I know I am healthier when I was morbidly obese, I can tell by the sheer fact that I can walk for more than 5 minutes without needing to stop, but somewhere, somehow I don’t see myself as others do. My mental picture of myself is bigger.
It impacts the type of clothes I go to buy, how I feel before I walk into a room, what I think other think about me. If I’m not careful, and mindful, it can impact a lot of situations that it has no right to.
Something about being that size, and knowing what it feels like to be that size sticks in the psyche.
The long term health risk factors
The good news is that a lot of the long term health risk factors can actually be reversed by losing weight, and following a whole foods plant based diet. Not all of them though. You will more than likely never be quite as low risk as someone who has lived a similar life but was never obese as far as I understand.
These irreversible damage of morbid obesity, well, there is nothing that can truly be done about them once you have been obese. While they are not great, and things no one would want, they are certainly more preferable than still being obese. My stomach may look awful, but I would take that any day over still being 270 pounds.
What can you do about it? Ensure the next generation don’t reach this point, speak openly about your issues with historical morbid obesity, as to help others avoid even reaching this point. Let go of the things you have no control over and focus only on health. Looks don’t really matter, they mean nothing to me anyway.
May I get surgery once I reach my goal weight? Potentially, but not to improve how I look, more to get rid of the damn skin as it tends to get in the way. (Yoga is not good when doing a downward facing dog!). The mental side of it, there is nothing I can do apart from being mindful of who I am, and for long term health, focusing on a whole foods plant based diet is my best chance of reversing long term damage.
Have you suffered with any of these or other side effects after losing weight? You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit on any of these platforms and please share your story.
While reading how not to diet (there is a review coming but it’s going to be a biggy!), I came across a psychological effect known as the self licensing effect, and it was described how it can come into play regarding weightloss.
The description of it made me realise that I am susceptible to this, and the knowledge of it’s effects has made me more aware of it. It goes like this –
You have been good for a few days, eating well, exercising. The weekend rolls around, or a night out, or there is junk in your house, any scenario that takes you away from following your typically healthy new diet. You think to yourself, oh I’ve stuck to this for days now, surely I’m due a little something to reward myself? Instinctively, you reach for the unhealthy food choice. You are now rewarding yourself for healthy choices, by doing the complete opposite, making the unhealthy choice. This sabotages your effort, and at the same time minimises quite how bad this food is, and the effect it will have on your long term goals.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with an occasional treat, the issue around this is that it only ever works one way. This effect only strongly encourages you to eat badly when you’ve been good, not healthily when you’ve been bad.
If this is an occasional thing, then it’s not really an issue. If it happens once every two weeks, an occasional treat isn’t going to derail you. The issue I find is that as changes in eating extend in time, this tends to happen more and more, to the point where you are undermining all of the good work with these choices.
It is as if the brain is keeping a counter of “good” and “bad” choices. When you think you have made enough “good” choices, then it isn’t so awful when you make one of the “bad”, even though this is completely counter to your overall goal of losing weight.
How to overcome the self licensing effect?
For me, it comes down to really trying to not see these food choices as good or bad, as not seeing decisions I make as good or bad. You have to recognise that something either moves you towards your goal, or away from your goal, on an individual meal basis rather than looking at the whole picture.
This healthy meal moves me towards my goal, it is irrelevant how many healthy choices I have made previously, or even how many I may make in the future, but right now, this meal will move me either towards or away. Now, do I really feel like I want a bit of pizza? Yes, but I will need to accept that this moves me away from my goal.
This can be easier said that done, as much of the time we aren’t actually thinking about our goals, we are living on autopilot.
The key to battling the self licensing effect
There is one simple key to realising that you are self licensing, and that is mindfulness. Being present right now to see what the outcomes of your choices are. For mindfulness I would really recommend some kind of meditation plan, it may feel that you are struggling with meditation but it’s long term effects are huge.
If, with every meal, you are mindful of your long term goal and not your immediate good/bad percentage, then you are more likely to make decisions that are in line with that goal. When making choices, try to remember your long term goal, and not your previous choices.
I’ve never been a huge soup fan, it has never left me feeling full, and having it as a main meal just feels a little disappointing to me (apologies to those that love soup!).
However, it is a low calorie way of getting in a lot of your daily vitamins, and I have learned that if I have it before a meal, it’s a good way of adding to the fullness of the meal with little calories.
Weekly, I have been alternating between two soups, my quick miso soup and this carrot, ginger and turmeric soup. This soup takes a little longer to make, but it has lovely warming spices in it, and is high in beta-carotene.
Carrot, Ginger and Turmeric Soup
Carrot, Ginger and Turmeric Soup
- 1 Onion White, Chopped
- 750 g Carrots Peeled and Chopped
- 2 stalks Celery
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 5 cm Ginger Root 1.5 tbsp pre minced Ginger
- 2 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Cumin Ground
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 1 litre Vegetable Stock
- Water sautee onion, celery, carrots and a bay leaf for 10 minutes until all begin to soften.
- Add ginger, turmeric, smoked paprika, cumin and garlic. Mix well and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for around 15 minutes until carrots have softened.
- Remove the bay leaf. Use a blender or hand blender to break carrots up. Add salt and pepper to taste.
On the weeks that I have this soup, I take a cup of it with me to work and have it as the first part of my lunch, with my meal prepped lunch around 30 minutes to an hour later. Syn wise, this is free, so suitable for the slimming world fans out there.
When I first went vegan, I thought I already ate a lot of plants and whole foods. To be fair, I probably did in comparison to many, but a lot of my meals focused around meat (and then meat replacements), pasta or some kind carbohydrate, with vegetables on the side.
In recent years the research has shown that eating mostly plant based foods is best for your body. There may be occasional studies that show otherwise, but after digging there is usually something unusual around the methodology, or there are conflicts of interest, however the majority of the science shows that a whole foods plant based diet can be disease preventing, and even reversing.
With this knowledge, it can seem a little overwhelming to completely change your diet. I have gradually, over time moved towards a majority of whole foods, but I thought a post about easy ways to eat more plants and whole foods could be useful.
- Greens with every meal
- Make the vegetables the main, rather than the side
- Switch white carbohydrates for wholemeal
- Try new grains
- Always look for a way to add vegetables no matter the meal
Smoothies can be a great way to get in a lot of fruit (and vegetables), and can be a good breakfast option if you are busy in the mornings. In addition to the fruit, you can really load up with vitamins by adding ground flaxseed (readily available in tesco and other shops), which is a great vegan source of omega 3. I have heard that whole flaxseed (sometimes called golden linseed) can’t be broken down properly, so for the benefits of the omega 3 either buy already ground, or grind yourself.
I would note that with smoothies, it is important to drink slowly rather than gulp down. This is discussed within How Not to Diet, that the speed of drinking helps the full feeling. Personally, I also avoid juicing, as the majority of the fibre is removed, and this is one of the key ingredients that you want in your diet.
Ideas to have in smoothies – Bananas, Apples, Berries, Mangoes, Nut Butters, Oats, Oranges, Ginger, Kale, Spinach, Cucumber, your favourite vegan milk and so much more.
Oats are a nutritional powerhouse, full of fibre and goodness. I have started having porridge in the mornings and again I add flaxseed. I add berries, a banana, occasionally a little dried fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, cacao nibs and it is a naturally sweet, filling start to the day. There are so many flavour combinations out there it would be difficult to get bored with oats.
Overnight oats are a good choice if you don’t have time to make porridge in the mornings. When I make this I usually do the same as my hot porridge but I add a little vegan yoghurt. You can also make cookies from oats which is a good way of avoiding white processed flour.
Salads, or some variation of them can be a good choice for lunch, or to have with dinner. Salads have moved on from just iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes (although I do still like and eat this combination). My meal prepped lunches are technically salad. Their base level is the old school combination but then on top I have my grains, legumes and many more vegetables of all different colours. There are lots of recipes for dressings out there too if that’s your thing.
Greens with Every Meal
An easy way to fill up on iron, calcium and fibre is to have greens with every meal. The base of my plate is usually kale, cabbage, spring greens, brocolli, spinach, some kind of green vegetables.
One point of note when it comes to what greens are you choosing to eat. Spinach is pretty high in oxylates, and there is some evidence that large amounts of spinach can potentially cause kidney stones. Recently, even though I eat quite a lot of spinach, I have began subbing some of it with kale. Kale is really better all round so its a good choice, but don’t avoid spinach altogether!
A lot of greens consumption comes down to how you cook them and I do it in a few different ways depending on the meal. My usual dinner preparation is too lightly steam them. After steaming for a few minutes these go even more green coloured and this is when to take them off the heat, its a sign of the nutrients being released. I also have them water sautéed with my veggies, and regularly throw handfuls of spinach and kale into meals.
Switch White Carbohydrates for Wholemeal
Switch out white rice for brown or white pasta for brown. They both have a slightly more nutty flavour, but are far higher in fibre as they haven’t had the outer husk stripped. This is an easy switch to make. I don’t eat bread that much anymore but I try to choose wholemeal, and love brown sourdough (too much though!). My family aren’t keen on brown bread so they eat 5050 which is even a small step in the right direction.
Try new grains
I like to try new grains in place of rice and pasta. While I think these are okay within moderation, they can be fairly calorific, and often I’m looking for a more nutritious option instead of these.
My favourites are quinoa, wholewheat Cous Cous, pearl barley, bulgur wheat, there are so many options out there.
Always add vegetables no matter the meal
I try to add vegetables no matter the meal. If I’m having pizza I’ll add vegetables to the topping and have a salad. If I’m having pasta I’ll have my bowl of greens with it. If I’m having a meal I can’t force vegetables in I’ll have homemade soup before.
There are so many ways to move towards a whole foods plant based diet, so many swaps to make, some of them significantly cheaper and faster to make. I find over time my diet has moved closer and closer to a higher percentage of plants, and my health and energy levels have improved along the way.
There are certain meals that I make regularly, and this is one that is usually on the menu at least once a week. It is included so regularly as it is quick to make, this seems to be a theme in my cooking. On week nights I try to stick to meals that take 30 minutes or less to make, and this takes around 25 minutes so fits right in.
As vegan meat is being used, this doesn’t take as long as meat to cook, so it really is quite quick. If you do have more time, you could add a little red wine and let it cook off slowly, but this is something I never have time for.
It’s also a healthy vegan twist on a classic, so could be a good introductory meal for those looking to begin to transition over.
Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese
Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese
- 1 Onion White
- 3 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Stalk Celery Optional
- 8 Mushrooms White or Chestnut
- 1 tbsp Tomato Puree
- 1 tsp Basil
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 1 tsp Mixed Italian Herbs
- 300 ml Vegetable Stock
- 200 g Vegan Mince
- 1 tin Chopped Tomatoes
- 160 g Wholewheat Spaghetti
- 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- Put the pasta into slightly salted boiling water to cook.
- Chop and water sautee the onion. Once softened, add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the chopped celery and mushrooms and cook until the water has released from the mushrooms, around another 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato puree and herbs and mix through well, stirring and cooking for another couple of minutes.
- Add the mince, I use frozen but you can use fresh too. Mix well through the herbs and vegetables.
- Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and stock. Don't add too much though, as this isn't cooking for long it shouldn't be too liquidy. You may not use all of the stock.
- Simmer for 5 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste. In the last couple of minutes cooking, add the nutritional yeast.
- Drain the pasta and mix well with the sauce.
I’ve also made this with vegan sausage or meatballs in place of the mince and it is very versatile. Of course, feel free to have this with any type of pasta. I also use this as the base of my lasagne which I will be doing a recipe for soon.
For syns, the nutritional yeast would be 1, and for the mince, it depends on what brand you use. For syn free you could miss out the nutritional yeast, and use soaked TVP. I usually have this with steamed vegetables (one day, I’m going to turn into a stalk of steamed kale I swear), but my family have garlic bread with this, either this 32p tesco option or this frozen asda garlic bread which is pre slices with bigger slices for 80p.
(This is a repost but as its nearly Burns night it seemed a good post to share again)
I’m Scottish, therefore I love haggis. However, I’m following slimming world, and the readily available pre-made vegetarian haggis’ (that are vegan), are 9 syns per 100g. That is 9 syns per quarter. I usually have half in one go, 18 syns is not something I’m prepared to eat, nor am I prepared to only have one quarter, so when it was St. Andrews Day recently, I went searching on the internet for a vegan haggis recipe that was fairly straight forward, and I found this one. I have tweaked the recipe a little to make it slimming world friendly (syn free, it uses a Healthy Extra B in the form of rolled oats), while it was not exactly like one of the shop bought haggis’, it was pretty damn tasty. I’ll definitely be having it again.
Vegan Haggis (Slimming World Friendly)
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Onion White
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Stalk Celery
- 1 Carrot
- 75 g Mushrooms Finely Chopped
- 125 g Kidney Beans
- 125 g Red Lentils
- 300 ml Vegetable Stock
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
- 1 tsp Thyme
- 40 g Rolled Oats
- Preheat oven to 175 celsius, 160 for a fan. Use spray oil to sautee onion and garlic.
- After 5 minutes add the bay leaf, celery, carrot and some salt.
- After another 5 minutes add the mushrooms. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
- In a separate bowl roughly mash the kidney beans with a fork, Add lentils, spices and vegetable stock. Lastly add the oats and mix well.
- Add to the vegetable mix and cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
When you’re getting it out it does tend to fall apart, so spoon it out of the dish when it’s done. I had it with mashed carrots and turnip, then some cabbage and brocolli on the side and of course gravy (2 syns worth) on top making it syn free and SP. If you’re looking for a no syn alternative this is it! Enjoy!
This week I have been painting in my house before and after work, and as a result have been looking for some quick meals. On Monday night I was really struggling to think of anything, as I didn’t want to make my meal planned option. I just took a look in my cupboards and threw this vegan creamy chilli pasta together but it was so tasty, I’ll definitely be making it again.
Vegan Creamy Chilli Pasta
- 1/2 Onion White
- 6 Mushrooms
- 200 g Spinach
- 1 Vegan Chorizo Or plain vegan sausage
- 75 g Wholewheat Spaghetti
- 40 g Vegan Creme Fraiche Oatly is good
- 2 tbsp Crushed Chillis
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Granules
- 1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- Put the wholewheat spaghetti on to boil for 15 minutes
- While pasta is cooking, water sautee the onion and mushrooms until soft.
- Start pan frying the chorizo with a little spray oil. I cooked my own in the same pan as the onions and mushrooms so some of the flavour transferred.
- Add crushed chillis (as much as to your liking of heat) and garlic powder to the onions and mushrooms, and cook for another minute.
- Add the spinach and allow to wilt. Add the nutritional yeast and mix through, then take off the eat and add the creme fraiche.
- Drain the spaghetti, and mix with the creamy mixture.
I’m struggling to calculate the syns on this, but I guess you would need to calculate the chorizo, nutritional yeast and the creme fraiche. Calorie wise though it’s not too bad for such a filling meal.