The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Author: Fiona (Page 2 of 8)

Previous Weight Loss Attempts

Something I have never really spoke about are my previous weight loss attempts. I am counting the last 5 years as a single event, as in reality I have trended downwards that whole time, with a couple of blips along the way.

This is not the first time I have lost weight. Twice, I managed to lose 3 stone, but then hit a wall. I think, with a few more years experience I now know why.

At the time I really thought I just couldn’t lose weight. It must have been genetic. I was just destined to be fat, and go through this endless cycle of weight loss and weight gain. I was eating less, more healthy and exercising, if I couldn’t lose weight doing this then I never could.

Then I discovered veganism, and then later, whole foods, plant based diets. I’m now just under 6 stone lost, and still have a bit to go. This is however, the longest, sustained lowest weight I’ve had in my entire adult life.

Previous attempts, I had tried a variety of things including, but not limited to:

  • Calorie counting reasonably healthy but non vegan food
  • Calorie counting unhealthy food
  • Slimming World
  • Scottish Slimmers
  • Slimfast

They failed for a variety of reasons, but I can categorise them into two distinct areas, either I was still hungry, or for some reason, it wasn’t sustainable.

Long Term Sustainability

I found the slimming clubs to be unsustainable in the long term. They encouraged healthy eating in some respects, but certain foods were recommended to avoid, and some unusual foods were recommended. Something in the nature of it didn’t sit right with me. I get that they are businesses, but when it’s motivated by money then the main aim is usually making more of it.

There was also something about the sympathetic tones when you didn’t lose much, or at all, and were questioned on whether you had a bad week, as if weight loss is linear and your body knows the play along with the club.

It was always the same people at them too, very few people ever reach their target weight at all, but the people who go to slimming clubs are paying for the privelege.

Still Hungry

My previous calorie accounting attempts, and slimfast left me hungry. Although they all involved eating different foods (junk food, healthy omnivore and slimfast), ultimately they all failed for the same reason. In one way I was on the right track, it is important to keep an eye on the calories to ensure you are eating a deficit. However, I have an issue with food volume. I can eat a high calorie but low volume meal and I don’t feel full. In fact, unless I have eaten an absolutely huge amount, I don’t often really notice feeling full. For me, portion size is important.

And this is where all of these attempts failed. As I was still eating a lot of calorie dense foods but restricting my calories, so I had less on my plate. I would start eating more vegetables but it was never enough. This is where a plant based diet comes in.

Why a whole foods plant based diet works for me

The reason why this diet works for me where my previous weight loss attempts didn’t, is calorie density. The food I now fill my plate with isn’t calorie dense, but it is dense in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and almost more important for my weight loss, it takes up a lot of space in your stomach. I often have kale and spring greens as a base to any meal I am eating (sometimes with some added sriracha). This big serving is likely to be around 40 – 50 calories, but the volume is the key here. Steamed, these vegetables take up a lot of space. This makes me feel full, and that is the key to my weight loss. I have discovered, the only way of me keeping on track is feeling full. The only diet that can do this, at the portion size I like, is a whole foods plant based diet.

I sometimes look at my portion sizes and feel a little bit shameful (hello still morbidly obese brain!). I then however look at what others are eating, compare calories mentally and realise I am eating less than them, but often many more nutrients and definitely more fibre.

Added to the weight loss, eating a plant based diet makes me feel fantastic, my skin is pretty good, and I’m full of energy. But that’s not the point of this post. If you are struggling with calorie counting, and still feeling hungry, I encourage you to up your roughage. Leafy greens are so low in calories, but filling and excellent for you. Try having a large salad before your meal, or for lunch with some added legumes and grains, but have them as the side to the salad.

I hope my tales of my previous weight loss attempts helped you. You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, support is very appreciated.

Vegan Keema Aloo – Slimming World Friendly

I have a confession to make. I love potatoes, especially new potatoes. When I was a child and we used to go anywhere with a picnic, my dad would always make us new potatoes the night before and we would eat them cold with lunch, it was my favourite part (and I do the same to my children now). I can’t get enough of them.

My slightly unusual preference for potatoes also manifests itself in my trying curries all the time that have potatoes in them. Saag Aloo is one of my all time favourites, and this chickpea, cauliflower and potato curry was another tasty potato choice.

If you like potatoes, then this new Vegan Keema Aloo recipe is for you. The potatoes are nicely coloured and spiced with added turmeric, and combined with the heartiness and texture of the mince, and the spice from the chilli and garam masala, it was a delicious and quick to prepare meal.

Vegan Keema Aloo

A hearty, tasty curry made with vegan mince and potatoes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2 people
Calories 320 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 250 g New Potatoes
  • 1 Onion White
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 chunk Ginger
  • 200 g Vegan Mince Frozen or fresh
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 tbsp Turmeric
  • 1 Chilli Green
  • 1 tbsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tbsp Coriander Ground
  • 1/2 tin Chopped Tomatoes

Instructions
 

  • Wash the potatoes, then chop into bite sized chunks. Cover with cold water and 1 tbsp turmeric. Bring to the boil, then lower to a rolling boil. Cook for 12 minutes or until soft.
  • In a large frying pan, water sautee the onions for 5 minutes until soft.
  • Add half the chilli chopped (with or without seeds depending on how hot you like it), garlic and ginger, and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the coriander, garam masala, cumin and and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add the mince and a little water to stop sticking and stir through the onion mix.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and cooked, drained potatoes. Mix well and cook for around 10 minutes.
  • Once cooked, serve with brown rice, or chapati, and top with the remaining green chilli.
Vegan Keema Aloo

With brown rice and kale.

I had my curry with brown rice and steamed kale. It was really filling but surprisingly low in calories, most of them coming from the potatoes and the mince.

For slimming world followers, it looks as if this could be syn free. If my sources are correct, then the mince I used is free (Morrisons Meat Free Mince), you could use any free brand though or even TVP (textured vegetable protein) with a little soaking beforehand.

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Burger King Peta and Veganism

Earlier this week burger king launched a plant based burger. This sounded exciting, I’ve always liked the bean burger from there, and a new option would have been appreciated.

I’m using past tense there as unfortunately, they released that this burger was not suitable for vegans or vegetarians as it was cooked on the same grill as the meat burgers, and that this burger was always aimed at meat eaters looking to reduce their meat intake.

It’s safe to say, this has angered vegans. Having a new vegan burger released but it being inedible to vegans, well, it seems to fly in the face of logic.

Shortly after this began to die down, a tweet was shared online, from Peta UK, in response to another tweet. This tweet suggested that vegans should eat products made on the same equipment as meat products as this doesn’t help more animals.

Burger King Peta

I recently made a post about KFC, and how I felt that in my opinion it was acceptable for vegans to eat from here, as I feel that supply and demand means that if we buy the KFC burger, and more vegan food becomes available, then eventually this will take the place of the animal products, and less animals will be killed.

This may seem like a similar argument to above, but I don’t think you can classify this burger as veganism.

The definition of veganism, from the vegan society

“…is 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…” 

The main purpose of this statement is to not use animals. Nowhere does it say to take all steps required to ensure less animals are killed. Now I know, I know, of course, avoiding using animals products will indeed cause less animals to be killed.

When it comes to this burger (and the chips for example out of KFC being cooked with the popcorn chicken), we know there are animal products in there via contamination. The companies themselves have told us this, no if’s no buts. If you eat these products, there is a likely chance you will consume some remnants of animal products. And for me, with the above definition of veganism, this just doesn’t fit.

Avoiding as far as is possible and practicable is not choosing to eat a burger soaked with animal fat, in an attempt to ensure less animals are killed. It seems backwards to me. There is a line for every vegan, and this is where my own sits.

There is also the “may contain” argument, and I do choose to occasionally eat foods that may contain milk for example. But there is a very big difference from a manufacturer warning in case of accidental contamination via production, and the manufacturers telling you of deliberate contamination via cooking.

I also feel that if vegans do get behind this burger, it sets a bad precedent. That it is purely acceptable to create a plant based burger, but take zero care in it’s preparation. Other companies could look at this and think it’s a money saving way to cash in on the vegan craze. We can make a vegan option and we don’t even need to bother with the logistics of preparation, they will buy it anyway.

Others will have differing opinions of course. I was surprised about Peta publicly stating this. I have mixed feelings on them, and I’m thinking of doing a couple of posts about them this month. It just seems like an odd stance, for a group that apparently loves animals, and especially for vegans.

I still think encouraging natural supply and demand is the way forward, plant based foods are now taking up a significant chunk of my local supermarket, even in the meat aisle. Personally however, I will be avoiding foods where I know they are contaminated.

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Vegan Smoky Pasta – Slimming World Friendly

Sometimes you just want a plate of pasta, there is something comforting about creamy pasta, and I just love smoky flavours. This vegan smoky pasta, using smoked paprika for flavour, is very quick to make, but incredibly tasty, and flexible with vegetables. I use onions, garlic, mushrooms and spinach but you could also use others, courgettes and kale would be good too.

The longest part of this recipe is putting your cashew on to soak the morning or night before, but if you forget this then a trick I have used is to put cashews in boiling water for around 10 to 15 minutes. While this doesn’t soften quite as much as hours of soaking, it’s a good alternative.

I’ve decided as Slimming World is so popular to start adding the syns to meals. While I don’t follow this myself, there are a lot of vegans out there looking for recipes. While my recipies aren’t based on Slimming World’s method, they are mostly unprocessed food so may be good for some of you who follow it. I will caveat this with not having access to the app, so the syns may not be exactly right, but I’ll do my best! I believe this recipe has 8.5 syns, 7.5 for the cashews, 1 for the nutritional yeast, and you can use the unsweetened soy milk as a healthy extra A. (Please correct me if I’m wrong!)

Vegan smoky pasta

A delicious, quick creamy and smoky dinner.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 People
Calories 450 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 140 g Wholewheat Spaghetti
  • 40 g Cashew Nuts Raw
  • 1 Onion White
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 10 Mushrooms
  • 200 g Spinach
  • 250 ml Unsweetened Soy Milk Or your favourite plant based milk
  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Granules
  • 1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast

Instructions
 

  • The night before, put your cashews in a bowl of water. If you forget then you can add them to boiling water for about 10 minutes.
  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add your spaghetti (or other pasta shapes)
  • Water sautee the chopped onion until translucent.
  • Add garlic and Mushrooms and cook until soft.
  • Blend the cashews and soy milk. Add to the pan with the vegetables. Add the nutritional yeast, spices, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook for around 5 - 10 minutes, the sauce will begin to thicken. At this point you may need to add some more milk.
  • Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  • Drain the pasta and stir in the sauce.
Vegan Smoky Pasta

With Kale and Spring Greens

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Vegan Meal Prep Lunch – Slimming World Friendly

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been meal prepping my lunch for a while now. I work 9 – 5 outside of my home, and one of the main keys to me losing weight is organisation and planning.

It isn’t particularly exciting, but planning and preparing at the weekend for the week ahead gives me more time during the week for other things I’d like to get done, ensures I eat healthily, and is way cheaper than buying lunch at work every day.

My lunches can differ slightly from week to week, but generally follow a similar pattern, a grain, legumes and vegetables in measured out portions in a tub. I take the opportunity to make lunch my most nutritious and calorie dense meal of the day, and also make sure I’m fitting in the most important herbs and spices for weight loss and health. Added to my meal prepped salad, I have a cup of soup (miso usually) and a piece of fruit in the afternoon. All in, this totals around 500 – 600 calories, which is pretty weighty for that time of day, but as it is all plants I find it doesn’t weigh you down, and make you tired the way that processed rubbish can.

Vegan Meal Prep – Lunch

Vegan Meal Prep - Lunch

Grains Mix

  • 150g Wholewheat Cous Cous
  • 120g Quinoa
  • 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp chia seeds

Vegetables and Chickpeas

  • Vegan Meal Prep - Lunch1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 3 handfuls of spinach
  • Vegan Meal Prep - LunchSteamed Kale
  • 1tsp Cumin
  • 1tsp Nigella Seeds
  • 1tsp Turmeric
  • 1tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1tsp Garlic Powder

Salad

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber

Toppings

  • Houmous
  • Kimchi
  • Sriracha

There are a lot of flavours in this meal prepped lunch, and some may not like this. But I really try my hardest to eat many different colours and vitamins, while being flavourful. I don’t use all of these every week, often my ingredients are based on what is leftover in the fridge, but this is a pretty standard representation. 

To cook, I boil the cous cous and quinoa separately, while quickly steaming the kale. These all get added to a big bowl, with the flaxseed and chia.

Then for the vegetables I water sautee these, onions first, then garlic, then everything else until softer. They all still have a bit of a bite though, nothing is overly cooked. When I add the chickpeas, I add the spices and cook for around 5 minutes. Lastly I add the spinach and mix it through until it’s wilted. I cook all of this, it takes around 30 minutes to make this, the soup and some of my husbands lunches. I layer it in a specific way to keep the salad fresh all week. 

  • Salad 
  • Grains/Beans mix – protects the salad from getting wilted
  • Kimchi/Houmous and Sriracha – to mix in on the day

Vegan Meal Prep - Lunch

There are so many flavours in this, and there are so many combinations you can do, its difficult to get bored. I also quite enjoy eating the same thing every day. I think we put too much emphasis on variety, and this could be a reason that contributes to our continual drive for more fatty/salty/sugary foods. Even though I’m regularly eating this, I never feel bored with it, and I will continue to have my vegan meal prep lunch, if not increase the amount of meal prepping I do over time. 

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Year Start

How I’m eating in 2020

It’s time for an update on how I’m eating in 2020. I have tried a few different ideas over the years, Slimming World, OMAD, general intermittent fasting, all while plant based. I’ve had mixed success with these, some more successful than others, but this year I am taking a simpler approach. A longer post is coming about my recent reading of How Not to Diet, but my eating for this year ties in heavily with the suggestions within this book.

Time Restricted Eating

I’m no longer strictly following intermittent fasting. I found that while I did see benefits from 8/6 hour windows initially, and I felt good not being weighed down with food, eventually it seemed to stop helping with my weight loss. Something in my gut tells me that it’s not great for my metabolism, potentially putting my body in the mode of holding onto weight as it’s not sure when food is coming next. Can I put my slow progress down solely to Intermittent Fasting? I’m not sure, it certainly worked in the beginning, but it seems like time to mix it up a little. I found OMAD a little too restrictive, and felt as if it was a step too far for me. I also have issues with portion control which OMAD did nothing to help. One huge meal a day just wasn’t working, I like eating too much. Now I eat around 9 am when I get to work, and try to finish for around 7:30pm. At the weekend I may not eat till around 12 so there is a bit of a smaller eating window there but generally it will be around 10 and a half hours.

Front Loading Calories and Calorie Counting

This almost ties in with time restricted eating, but as suggested in How Not to Diet I am starting to move the majority of my calories to earlier in the day. This is discussed in depth in the book, that you can eat the same food at different times of the day and it will impact your body differently, you will actually burn more of those calories earlier in the day.

I also heard something similar mentioned in the intermittent fasting podcast with longevity expert Valter Longo as a guest, he suggested if fasting to eat two early meals, breakfast and lunch for example. Now, while I am not fasting, I am attempting to move my calorie balance. Historically, it has always been weighed to a high calorie dinner around 7pm. These calories could be around 700 – 800, and I would eat less during the day to compensate. I am eating a breakfast of around 400 calories, snack of around 100, lunch of around 500, then main meal of also around 500 taking me to around 1500 a day. I am attempting to get to the suggested, Breakfast like a king, Lunch like a prince and Dinner like a pauper, but it takes a lot of unlearning for me and feels counter to what I have ever tried.

For calorie counting I am still using My Fitness Pal. I reached a 1500 day logging in streak just yesterday and don’t intend on stopping using it. I’m aiming for 1500 calories a day. I’ve been down as low as 1200 calories, and while I can do this for short periods of time, long term it makes me miserable. Even eating lots of vegetables, greens, whole grains and legumes, I come in at around 1500 a day and this is what I’m aiming for.

Slimming Clubs

My slimming world post is one of my post popular posts, but I haven’t went to a slimming club in many years. While they work for some, especially in the short term, longer term they seem to have issues. I went to Slimming World on and off for years, along with most of the other people there, and very few reached (then stayed) at their goal. In 2020 I will definitely not be attending a slimming club.

Food Choices

This year I am putting much more time and effort into following a whole foods, plant based diet, avoiding as much processed food as possible. This has multiple positives, when it comes to calories these foods are not calorie dense. You can eat a lot of them (especially green vegetables) for very little calories. Added to that, they are full of vitamins (calcium, iron, and of course fibre), are cheap and they really fill you up. I’m eating a variety of colours too, trying to eat a large mix of different vegetables with every meal.

Sugar

I’m making a concerted effort this year to cut back on processed sugar. Fruit is no issue, but sources of processed sugar generally are also sources of fat. No more doughnuts at the weekend for me, and generally I am avoiding dessert as this also became a bad habit. Dessert almost fostered the “treat” mindset, oh you’ve been so good today, you can have a little treat. That treat was often sabotaging how good I had been, and ruined it.

Meal Prep

For a long time I have meal prepped and taken my lunch into work with me. If I don’t, inevitably the options are too expensive, too processed, too high in calories. I have got myself into a good routine, and make a similar meal every week. I will do a post on this, but it is a mix of vegetables, whole grains and legumes, with spices, some houmous and a little sriracha. It is around 400 calories, very very filling for a fairly large portion and I’m happy to have settled into this. I have also added in a cup of soup (often miso)  and I’m even taking in porridge in the mornings now. Organisation is key!

I also meal prepped my main meal for a while when I was going to the gym in the evenings, but currently I am making dinner at night when I get in from work. This is something I may look at again later in the year, as it seems less hassle to make it at the weekend and put it in the fridge. Either that, or batch cooking larger amounts of meals and freezing them could potentially help free up some time in the evenings.

Meal Planning

Meal planning is also a key point, I need to know what I’m making ahead of time. I hate last minute trips to the supermarket. I always end up spending more than I wanted and buying things I didn’t really intend to (which usually are processed). I currently meal plan for the week nights, and the whole weekends at some point during the week. Then I get my shopping early on a Saturday morning.

Food Diary Example

Lastly, here is an example of what I eat in a day. If you want to see what I eat every day, and are a user of my fitness pal, please send me a friends request.

How I'm Eating in 2020

Breakfast

How I'm Eating in 2020

Lunch

How I'm Eating in 2020

Dinner

How I'm Eating in 2020

Snacks

Remembering the bigger picture but focusing on the small choices

This may be one of the most important parts for me in 2020, and it’s while remembering the bigger picture, the every day decisions are what will get me over the line. My weight fluctuates throughout the month and that can really get me down, then into the eating mindset. I am focusing on one meal at a time, all throughout the year. It’s those individiual choices that add up to success.

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Quick Miso Soup

I visited Yo Sushi with my daughter about a month ago, and it was the first time I’ve actually sat in the restaurant to eat. I realised that they actually have a ton of vegan options! I’d had a few takeaway things from there but there seems to be more choice if you sit in. One of the things we had was a cup of miso soup. I’d never had it before and the umami taste of the miso was just delicious, and it was very low in calories.

The following weekend I was clearing out my fridge and I found some miso I had bought, then wasn’t sure what to do with it. Now I knew! Not only is it delicious, but this quick miso soup takes less than 15 minutes to prepare, so don’t take up a lot of time. I’m not sure this recipe is 100% traditional, but it’s a good way of using green veggies. I’ve used a few different variations but all have been good.

Now I make this soup once every couple of weeks on Sundays and have enough for five servings in the fridge. I take a cup with me to work and have it before I start my main lunch. It tastes delicious, is full of green vegetables, and helps fill me up a little before starting my meal prepped cous cous salad.

Quick Miso Soup

A delicious quick miso soup recipe
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Servings 5 people
Calories 60 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 Litre Vegetable Stock
  • 2 Sheets Nori
  • 1 Cup Spring Greens Have also used cabbage and leek
  • 1/2 Cup Spring Onions
  • 1/3 Block Firm tofu Pressed
  • 4 Tbsp White Miso

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot, bring your stock to simmering. Break the nori sheets up and add. Simmer for 5 minutes .
  • While this is cooking, put miso in a small bowl with enough hot water to mix with it. Mix with a whisk to get out the lumps. The mixture should be fairly smooth.
  • Add chopped green vegetables and tofu and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and mix the miso mixture through.

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Veganism is a protected philosophical belief

Ethical Veganism is a Philosophical Belief

Earlier this week a number of news stories popped up about a man who had been fired from his job at the League of Cruel Sports. He pointed out that their pension fund was being used on a company which tested on animals.This led to a court case, and about whether veganism should be considered a philosophical belief, and therefore carry the same protections that other philosophical beliefs carry (such as religion).

The man was sacked for gross misconduct, for sharing this information publically. Whether this was correct or not is debatable. Usually when working for a company there are rules about releasing negative information about your employer. This court case however seems to have morphed into a larger question over the philosophy of veganism.

According to lawyers Boult burdon Solicitors in the UK, while discussing the Equality Act 2009,  a philosphical belief is defined as

  • it is a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information;
  • the belief is genuinely held;
  • the belief concerns a “weighty” and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour;
  • it is “worthy of respect in a democratic society”; and
  • it is held with “sufficient cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance”.

The outcome of the course case was successful, ethical veganism can be considered a philosophical belief, and looking at the definition above I would suggest this is correct.

There is a difference between someone purely following a plant based diet, and someone who chooses to step away from the mass use of animals and their body parts in daily life.

  1. it is a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information; – Veganism is an underlying belief to avoid animal use in life, the present state of information is irrelevant. Information has changed drastically over the years, yet still vegans choose to avoid animal related products
  2. the belief is genuinely held; No question over this, vegans (or ethical vegans as the wording was in the court case), genuinely hold the belief of avoiding animal products.
  3. the belief concerns a “weighty” and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour; This is a little more difficult to define, but choosing every product in your life and diet to avoid animal products could easily be defined as weighty and substantial.
  4. it is “worthy of respect in a democratic society”; I think most people would agree that veganism and it’s arguments are worthy of respect (although maybe not all of the trolls on social media but they can be ignored)
  5. it is held with “sufficient cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance”. Even non vegans could surely agree veganism, and holding it as a belief hits the above points.

I’m unsure what this means in the future, but surely ethical veganism being a protected belief is something we can all agree is a positive thing. I personally have never experienced anything other than curious questions, a few debates and requests for recipes at work, but perhaps I work in a field which is less likely to discriminate against veganism.

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Creamy Fajita Pasta

I’ve never really been a big fan of creamy food, but in an effort to diversify, and make some meals I think my husband would like, I have been pushing myself to try out some in the kitchen, while still keeping it healthy.

There have been a few of these types of recipes recently, Creamy Basil Pasta, Mushroom Stroganoff as a couple, but this Creamy Fajita pasta with chickpeas was one of the best. I love spices and flavouring, and I really feel that offset the creaminess. If it had just been me eating it, I’m sure I would have added more spice (cayenne pepper for example), but that would just cause the rest of the family to not like it as much so was left out. I use a fairly small measured amount of cashews for the cashew cream as the calories can really start to rack up here.

All in all this is a nice, quick dinner with a good level of nutrition.

Creamy Fajita Pasta

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 2 people
Calories 450 kcal

Ingredients
  

Spicy Chickpeas

  • 1 small Onion
  • 1/2 Red Pepper
  • 8 White Mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Garlic Granules
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 can Chickpeas
  • 1 tsp Chilli Flakes

Pasta and Sauce

  • 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 40 g Cashew Nuts
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Soy Milk
  • 1/4 tsp Dried Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Granules
  • 180 g Wholewheat pasta
  • 1 Tomato

Instructions
 

Spicy Chickpeas

  • Sautee onions, peppers and mushrooms for 5 minutes until soft. I used water to sautee but a little oil can be substituted.
  • Add spices and drained chickpeas and mix well, add a little salt if required

Pasta

  • Cook wholewheat (or white) pasta until ready
  • Make cashew cream, for this I mix my soaked cashews with the soy milk in a blender
  • Drain water, and mix cashew cream into the pasta, add remaining spices and a chopped tomato
  • Gently heat until the sauce begins to thicken, if too thick you can add more soy milk, if not thick enough add some flour
  • Once thickend, and seasoned to taste, mix in most of the chickpea and vegetable mix, keep the rest to add to the top once served
Creamy Fajita Pasta

Chickpea, vegetables and spice mix

Creamy Fajita Pasta

Finished Meal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You could also add use this meal to use up any vegetables you may have in your fridge, it’s a really versitile, yet delicious meal.

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Boycott KFC because you’re vegan?

Today is the day that KFC launch their vegan chicken burger nationwide. This, and whether vegans choose to eat it has caused controversy in the vegan Facebook groups I’m in, and it got me thinking about the rationale behind it.

There are two distinct opinions when it comes to a company like KFC having a vegan option.

  1. This is something we should support, can’t wait to try it, exciting times for vegans

Or

  1. I’ll never eat out of there, their welfare standards are atrocious, this is something we should boycott.

I can understand why people do have issues eating out of a place like KFC. KFC is a business built almost entirely on slaughtering chickens. There definitely have been horror stories link over their treatment of animals and I think it is clear that most vegans wish places like KFC didn’t exist.

However, the more vegan food there is out there easily available, the more people (mostly non vegans) will try it. In turn, surely this will ultimately lead to fewer animals being killed, supply and demand generally rules in these circumstances. 

I find the argument against KFC similar to the argument against the Yulin Dog Festival. Most non vegans are against this, they think the treatment and eating of the dogs is awful, and will often share stories and videos relating to this on social media. At the same time they are sharing pictures of their food, burgers, pizzas, covered with animal products, and not seeing the link (or deliberately ignoring it). Cognitive Bias at it’s finest. 

I find vegans who make the argument against KFC may also be suffering from an element of this cognitive bias. Most people (at least in the UK and who I know) shop at locations which are not (and nowhere close to being) fully vegan. I wonder what percentage of the products in shops like Tesco, Asda, even restaurants like Greggs, contain animal products. The Greggs Vegan Sausage roll launched this time last year, and although there was some of the “not buying it” response, it appears to be less vehement KFC, certainly from what I have personally witnessed online. In my opinion, Greggs, KFC, Tesco, there is no real difference. 

Now, that is to say, if there was a fully vegan supermarket nearby, I would shop at it. There aren’t anywhere near where I live, as far as I know there are only a couple in the UK. And while I of course don’t agree with the vast majority of the options in KFC, I can’t help but feel if the vegan burger is popular (the trial was incredibly popular and sold out in 4 days), then they will put more vegan options, and less meat on the menu. 

This is of course ignoring the entire health side of the argument. Ultra processed vegan food is little better than ultra processed non vegan food, and should be consumed in moderation. However there are a lot of people out there who are not interested in health, and if given the choice I would far rather they consumed a vegan version of their favourite junk food. 

I also think the militant vegan stereotype is rampant among non vegans, and taking such a stance doesn’t help with that stereotype. For me, every step in the right direction is still movement we should be proud of, when I first went vegan 4 years ago I could never have imagined all the options we have today, so something is happening.

Personally, I will be trying the KFC burger. I want to support vegan options, and to be quite frank I’m curious as to how it tastes. Keeping it in line with my goals for 2020 and January, I will have it with a large salad as my main meal. If you don’t want to try it, I can understand, but be aware of the bias when shopping from large supermarkets/eating out at mainly omnivore restaurants. 

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Year Start

Year Start – January 2020

Well it’s the start of a new decade, the day the resolutions are made, and as mentioned in my previous post, my one main aim this year is to finally reach my 140 pounds goal. The last year, while pretty much moving no further forward to my goal, has taught me some lessons about what works and what doesn’t for me. I am 37 years old, and I know the older I get the less likely I am to reach that weight. As a result, this year, I am giving this my single focus.

While this is my main single focus, I have also given each month a mini aim, 1 relating to health, 1 to personal goals, 1 to minimising our belongings and 1 to doing up our house, I will update my progress on these as well.

Weight and Health Updates

Weight at Start of Month: 201 pounds
Weight at End of Month: N/A
Fat Percentage at Start of Month: 43%
Fat Percentage at End of Month: N/A
Days within calories: N/A

Body Measurements (inches)

Waist: 39.5 
Hips: 49
Chest: 46.5
Upper Thigh: 24
Bicep: 14

Exercise

Max Run Distance: 2km
KM Time: 8:30 (this is a guess based on previous starting times for a km)

Personal Updates

Average Sleep: N/A
Meditated: N/A
Minimised: N/A

Monthly Mini Goals
  1. No Takeaways – Takeaway food is my nemesis. I do the most of the cooking for our household and a takeaway is a great way of meaning I don’t cook. The problem with them is that they are always fattening, I have poor self control with how much I eat, they cost too much money and I inevitably feel rubbish after them. My no takeaway goal covers evening meal takeaways while at home. We are going to Amsterdam at the end of January, to practise the Dutch that me and my husband have been learning for 6 months, and there will no doubt be eating out then. I may also try the vegan KFC burger when it launches but this would have to be with a salad and fit in with my main meal. This goal is used a few times throughout the year and actually think it will be quite difficult as we generally rely on takeaways once a week/fortnight, often on a Thursday or Friday night, so it is important that I plan easy/no excuse meals for these nights.
  2. Work on Blog every day – I have been rather slow blogging this year and I’m unsure why as it’s something I enjoy. I have a number of posts in a half written state, and a large list of ideas so for January I will be working on the blog daily.
  3. Get rid of 4 boxes of belongings that I need to have valued and sell – I recently cleared out part of a large cupboard and have some nice China given to me by my parents. Now while it’s lovely, I have and will never use it. It sits in a cupboard wrapped in newspaper. I’ve got over the emotional ties of letting this go, but practically I’m a bit stuck. I suspect it may be worth something, so I’m going to try to sell it first, and if I get nowhere then I’ll donate it. It is my aim to do these four boxes in January. My plan is to photograph the china and send in pictures to a local auctioneer for valuation, then once this is done either sell via them, try on ebay and if none of these work then donate it.
  4. Paint the window frames in my main two living room windows and cut, then put up new blinds I have for these – Our house requires an interior update (the polite way of saying it looks like it’s from the 1990’s), and I’ve been doing some little bits here and there but for 2020 I have a plan of things I’d like to do every month. This month it is as above, paint some window frames that are chestnut to white, take down the ancient vertical blinds and replace with some room darkening grey venetial blinds I bought at the end of last year. There are three windows in the living room, one is very high up so that’s got its own item later in the year, this is for the two floor level/easily reachable windows. The blinds need cut, and I’ve never put up this type before so could be an interesting job.

A summing up of my starting measurements is that really, it isn’t good. I’m not focusing on that though, only on the small steps to follow this month which for me are mainly a 1500 calorie whole foods plant based diet, no takeaways, and beginning to reintroduce regular exercise.

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Year Start

Review of 2019 and Looking Forward to 2020

A new decade is around the corner, and this year has been one of my quickest yet. It’s been another big year of changes (although every year for the last few has been). We bought a house at the end of last year, moving out of our long term (huge) rented flat, and moved into a regular/verging on small 3 bedroom house. This was a bit of a shock to the system, and I was very grateful of my years of minimising our belongings.

Moving showed me though that we still have too much, and this year I have continued to clear our, and I’m now reaching a point where the end is in sight (although still likely a year away). Our new home needs a bit of a makeover, and we have tenatively began this, but have big plans for the next year which I’ll likely mention occasionally, at least keeping track of the number of items that leave the house.

I started a new job in May which I am loving. It is much closer to home, and all round it is a better job for me. I have massive imposter syndrome, so getting a new (more technical) job was a big step, but turns out I build everything up in my head and I’m doing fine there. My husband also started a new job, so with work it’s been pretty hectic!

A note about my husband is that he also (finally!) went vegan this year, 3 years after myself and our daughter did. I thought he would never make the switch, but he did and I’m so proud of him. We eat pretty differently, he’s not a fan of huge salads, tonnes of legumes, and I still often find myself cooking multiple versions of meals, but it’s baby steps in the right direction, and that definitely makes life a little easier.

On the vegan food front, this year there have been so many different foods released in so many different shops, it is crazy the amount of choice even compared to January 2019. Some notable mentions are richmond sausages (we all love them), Marks and Spencers for continuing to expand their range, the Greggs sausage roll (great for publicity if not for health) and Tesco. They are our closest supermarket and for the first 9 months of the year they were pretty diabolical, but they rapidly expanded their range overnight and it has been greatly appreciated by our family.

Onto the elephant in the room (again), weight loss. I got to my lowest ever weight this year, however I have regained about a stone. I have been lazy with my eating, eating too much, too much of the awesome vegan options. Exercise has been sporadic, although I have really came around to the idea that exercise is for health as opposed to weight loss, and I need to see it like this, to avoid the “oh I can eat more, I went to the gym this morning” mindset. I think my ability to remain around the same weight (gained a little but far from it all back), shows that my mind set has changed, and that it is actually incredibly difficult to lose weight (and so much of it) consistently and over a long period of time. The moral of the story here is don’t put it on in the first place, although I’m a little late for that.

On that note, for 2020, I have one singular New Years Resolution, and that is to slowly, and healthfully get to my goal weight of 140 pounds (10 stone). I recently read How Not to Diet by Michael Greger which I will be doing a review of in January, but I am going to be implementing some of his tips, such as front loading the days calories, eating more greens with every meal and a few more I will cover.

For exercise, I’m not setting myself any firm goals other than get back into running. I would like to, and will incorporate strength training alongside this, but at least for the first three months of the year this won’t be my main goal. Running (especially outside) is something I thoroughly enjoy, so I should definitely do more of this.

I have set myself a number of monthly challenges, 1 based on health, 1 based on personal development, 1 based on minimising and 1 based on decorating our house. I will share these at the start of each month, alongside a summing up of the previous month. As usual I’m tracking everything in my new bullet journal, this is my third year using one.

If I was picking a word to guide this year, I think it would be Intentionality. I want to make sure that my time is spent doing things that align with my long term goals. For those they are being healthy, living in a comfortable home which requires minimal upkeep, freeing up time for other things, such as running, spending time with my family, being creative.

Thank you to everyone for your support mainly via Instagram this year. I did take a fairly extended break around the time of changing jobs, and will be posting a little more this year.

You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. I am most regular on Fitbit, MyFitnessPal and Instagram, so if you are also trying to get healthy and lose weight drop me a message and we can support each other.

Creamy Basil and Tomato Pasta

I’m always looking for quick week night meals which are healthy, delicious and fit in with my calorie goals. Added to this myself and my husband have fairly different tastes so it can be difficult to find meals that suit us both (and often I end up cooking multiple things at once!).

This meal though hit the spot, he loves creamy meals and this was nice and creamy, but calorie wise it wasn’t too bad for a fairly big portion. The added calories are in the cashews, these have so many calories for such little things, but they really do add to the creaminess. I suppose if you wanted to avoid some of these you could make a roux with vegan margarine, flour and milk, and for other meals I do this occasionally so may try at some point, but with the cashews it was lovely.

Creamy Tomato and Basil Pasta

A quick mid week meal which only takes 25 minutes to prepare,
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 people
Calories 456 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Large Onion
  • 4 Medium Tomatoes
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 160 Grams Wholewheat Pasta
  • 40 Grams Cashews (Raw)
  • 20 Grams Oatly Creme Fraiche (Optional)
  • 10 Grams Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Basil
  • Drizzle Olive Oil
  • Pinch Salt and Pepper

Instructions
 

  • Preferably the night before soak your cashews, but if you forget or don't have time you can put them in a small bowl with boiling water, this will help to soften them quickly.
  • Chop the garlic, onion, tomatoes into quarters. Chop half of the basil, and put on oven tray. Drizzle with oil, give a shake, and add some salt and pepper for seasoning as required.
  • Put your pasta on to cook in a pot of boiling water
  • After 10 minutes in the oven, give your tomato mix a shake and put back in for another 15 minutes.
  • Once the cooking time is done bring out your tomato mix and put into a high speed blender with the drained cashews, more basil, nutritional yeast. Give this a blast to make into a paste.
  • Drain your pasta and mix in the tomato paste. Add more salt and pepper to taste. At this point I added a dollop of oatly creme fraiche, this is my favourite thing at the moment for creamy dishes. It is a total additional ingredient but I find having a tub of it in the fridge is great for meals like this.
  • I served this with a large serving of steamed kale and spinach and it was very filling.
Keyword Vegan

Let me know how you found this recipe!  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 and updates from me!

Vegan in Mostar

Vegan in Dubrovnik

This summer our family went to Dubrovnik in Croatia for a week, with 3 out of 4 of us now vegan, and 1 mostly vegetarian, it’s safe to say I was a little bit concerned with vegan options.

We always go self catering on holiday, which means we had a decent kitchen, the downside being that you have to cook on holiday, but hey, I’m used to it, it’s the price to pay for being a vegan mother of two!

Happy Cow showed a few options, and I used Instagram too (#dubrovnikvegan mainly), and did plenty of research. We were staying in the area called Lapad, and additionally to Dubrovnik we also had a day trip to Montenegro, and a day trip to Bosnia Herzegovina, and I’m pleased to say I found a vegan option for every day.

 Nishta

Vegan in Dubrovnik Vegan in Dubrovnik

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan in Dubrovnik

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan in Dubrovnik

On out first full day we visited the full vegan restaurant of Nishta. Nestled in Dubrovnik’s old town, there was a 45 minute wait for a table, it really is a small restaurant. They change menu daily so if you are there for a week you can have something different daily. We had chilli, nachos, raw sushi, a falafel wrap and a mince pancake. It was nice, some of the food better than others. I didn’t love the sushi, and the pancake was a little weird but the rest was very enjoyable.

Chihauhua Cantina Mexicana

Vegan in Dubrovnik Vegan in Dubrovnik Vegan in Dubrovnik Vegan in Dubrovnik

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Mexican restaurant is in Lapad, a 10 minute walk away from our apartment and worth a trip out if looking for delicious vegan options. It must be booked ahead of time, they will do their absolute best to fit you in, but one night we went it was a bit of a wait, so the second time we went I reserved a place.

The staff were so friendly and 100% knowledgable on what vegan meant, pointing out all of the options and modifications they can make. We had a burrito, fajitas, rice and chips and all of it was was completely delicious. It was handy having such a great place nearby, and the price was very good.

Ombra Caffe & Lounge Bar (Kotor, Montenegro)

Vegan in MontenegroVegan in Montenegro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This little restaurant is in Kotor in Montenegro, and had limited options but the pizza and chips on the menu were delicious. The restaurant is in a little square in Kotor old town, and there was plenty of space. We visited around lunch time and didn’t need to book. Kotor was a nice little town, the views were spectacular, it would have been nice to spend some more time here exploring but we were only there for a few hours.

Food House Restaurant (Mostar, Bosnia)

Vegan in Mostar Vegan in Mostar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan in Mostar

Food House is in Mostar in Bosnia, and I’ve got to say this was the best food of the trip. The plate of veggies, salad, rice and casserole was just delicious, I was almost sad we were only there for one day! The seating is on a lovely little cobbled path in Mostar. The city itself was lovely, but tinged with sadness for the remnants of the war are everywhere. It is definitely worth a trip to though if you are in Croatia and can do a day trip to Bosnia, or in any of the surrounding countries.

Bon Appetit Bistro

Vegan in Dubrovnik Vegan in Dubrovnik Vegan in Dubrovnik

On our last night we travelled to the port of Dubrovnik, Gruz, and visited a little Bistro. We had salad with seitan, bruscetta and chia pudding. It was all nice, the bruscetta was the best bit, and it was a nice end to our trip.

Additionally to eating out, can I just say that the bread in Croatia is something else, I ate so much I practically came back loaf of bread shaped. I made some delicious pasta dishes, had tasty fresh olives, and there is a chain of german health food shops (DM) that had plenty of tofu, delicious sausages and many options. Most of the supermarkets also had a section with dairy free milks, yoghurts, grains, so there were plenty of options if you are doing the cooking.

We would love to go back to Croatia one day, the people were so friendly and the weather was glorious. There are so many places to visit in Dubrovnik, we did a game of thrones tour of the old town, walked the city walls, visited the Island of Lokrum (my favourite thing we did), went up the cable car to the war museum, had a day at the beach, really, it was an action packed holiday, and we could go back and find even more to do I suspect.

Thanks for reading, You can find mon InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support and updates from me!

Banana Oat Muffins

I’ve recently been on a real money saving kick, and looking at food waste there can often be a few things getting put in the recycling bin every week. One thing is bananas, we go through a fair amount of them but there are always a few hanging about getting mushy. I do occasionally freeze them but then I just never use them, so I was looking for a recipe that fits with my whole foods plant based push, and something to use up ingredients when I came up with this recipe.

I have seen a few like this but I have changed those recipes, a little, and tend not to measure ingredients anymore, I just kind of throw it all together. I have made 12 of these every weekend and have one after dinner during the week, sometimes with lunch, plus my husband has taken a few too.

Banana Oat Muffins

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Servings 12
Calories 150 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 Bananas
  • 1/2 cup Wholewheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Wholegrain Oats
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup Raisins This could be blueberries too
  • 1/2 cup Soy milk Could need more or less depending on consistency
  • 1 tsp Peanut Butter Not necessary but can add a nice flavour

Instructions
 

  • Mash the bananas in a big bowl using a fork
  • In a separate bowl mix flour, oats, baking powder and dry seasonings
  • Add dry mix to banana, add raisins and mix
  • Add peanut butter and enough soy milk to loosen, shouldn't be too runny but also shouldn't be too thick
  • Fill 12 small cupcake cups (I use silicone), they should be fairly filled
  • Bake in the oven for around 15 - 20 minutes. The consistency of these will not be like usual cupcakes, less cake like, but they are delicious nonetheless and a cheap and cheerful sweet treat which is pretty good for you.

They are a nice little snack, I keep mine in the fridge, as there is quite a lot of banana, I feel they should be refrigerated. They can only cost about 5 – 10p a serving too, so definitely a winner there on the money front!

Thanks for reading, let me know if you have made this or something similar, or maybe you have your own one pot recipes to share? You can find mon InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support and updates from me!

The Best Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff….ever!

The Best Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff Ever…and it’s healthy!

A bold claim, but I made this recipe last week and I was so impressed, although I did make some tweaks to the original recipe. I’m not a massive fan of overly creamy dishes, and light coloured sauces, no idea where that little foible of my personality came from, but in a restaurant, or takeaway I would never choose something light coloured. 

When I was a child, my mum used to try to get me to drink milk (being good for the bones nonsense). It always made me feel sick, eventually she gave up on it as I could barely even drink a mouthful without feeling queasy. Milkshakes were a no go, even ice cream, definitely never not mayo though other so it appeared to have transferred to the colour. Since going vegan I have tried to open myself up to foods like this a little more though, and my husband loves a creamy meal, so I saw this recipe online and thought we could give it a try. Well, it was so good I’m going to add it to my fortnightly list, we all really enjoyed it. The original recipe has the stroganoff sauce with garlic cream on top, this was too much for me to take so I mixed the garlic sauce in with the stroganoff (which also heated it up) and this really made it perfect. 

The Best Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff...Ever!

Fiona
A creamy cashew based vegan mushroom stroganoff, which is not only very tasty but healthy too.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 2 people

Ingredients
  

Garlic Sauce

  • 1 Cup Cashews (Soaked)
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 pinch of Salt

Pasta and Sauce

  • 80 - 100 grams Wholewheat Pasta per person
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 2 Tbsp Wholewheat Flour
  • 2 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce (Reduced Sodium)
  • 1 Tsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Sage
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 Pinch of Salt
  • 400 Grams Mushrooms Cut into Quarters and Sixths
  • 1/2 Tin Garden Peas
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Parsley

Instructions
 

  • The cashews should be soaked the previous night/earlier that day. I put mine in a small bowl covered with cold water and drained before using.
  • First of all, add your pasta to a pot of boiling water and cook until ready.
  • For the garlic creamy sauce, I drained the cashews and put in a blender with the garlic sauce ingredients, then blended until smooth.
  • Water Sautee the onions until transluscent. This recipe is oil free so adding a little water until evaporated, then a little more at a time to stop the onions sticking is the way forward here.
  • Once the onions are soft add the flour and a little stock, mix this well and try to get rid of the lumps.
  • In a separate bowl mix the remaining stock, tomato puree, soy sauce and lemon juice.
  • Gradually add this stock mix to the onion/flour mixture, thoroughly stirring until all is added. Let this cook for a minute or two to thicken.
  • Add the cashew garlic sauce then add the chopped mushrooms and stir well. Put a lid on the pot, turn down the heat and let the mushrooms and sauce simmer until they are soft.
  • Once the mushrooms are cooked, drain the pasta and mix well. Add the peas and parsley and serve.

Let me know if you try this recipe, I think in future I will start calculating the rough nutritional estimates for the recipe per serving, and may go back through my old recipes to update these.

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 and updates from me!

 

Weight loss competitions don’t work

At my new workplace, my department has a fairly regular weight loss competition which is completely optional to take part in. There is a set of scales in the office which we all use to weigh in. I believe this has ran multiple times before I started, but as I have only been there a few months, plus I really want to finish losing weight, I decided to join in. It ran for 13 weeks and there are a number of financial rules and penalties which go like this – 

  • Weigh in on Friday of week 1
  • Every subsequent week you weigh in on Friday within an hour of arriving at the office. (there are a number of rules in place for when you are off on the Friday/on holiday for multiple weeks)
  • Every week every person pays £1
  • If you lose between 0 – 1 pound you pay an additional £1 penalty = £2 per week
  • If you lose more than 1 pound you only pay the original £1 = £1 per week
  • If you gain weight you pay a £5 penalty = £5 per week 

Everyone is ranked on their overall percentage lost, and at the end the money is used to pay for a meal and a night out for those who took part (and anyone else who wants to join but pay for themselves). I thought, “hey, what could be bad about this?” Surely this will give me the motivation I need? I was back up to 190 pounds, the weight I have been at for over a year (give or take ten pounds at most). During the first few weeks I really got back into the gym, five times a week, three times a week weights, twice a week cardio. My eating was okay, not perfect but reasonable. I lost about 5 pounds and after week 2 I was second! I knew I was going on holiday soon so really tried hard. 

Then, around came my time of the month, and the week before it I had to pay my first £5 fine. I knew my weight always goes up (a lot) at period time. My stomach severely bloats (even more than usual) and water is held onto as if I am very dehydrated (usually drinking around 2 litres of fluid per day on top of plenty of fruit and vegetables). This was very demotivating, as I was good with food and exercise and really there was nothing I could do to avoid the gain. 

The following week I had a mid week takeaway, another thing that encourages my body to retain fluids in a desperate attempt to clear itself of the increased sodium. Unsurprisingly there was another fine. The next week I lost but then I was on holiday in Croatia for a week. It’s safe to say I wasn’t sticking to reduced calories while away, and when I got back I was half a pound heavier than I had been the week I started! Another loss next, then it was the time of the month again, and yet another fine. 

In the run up to the end of the competition I signed up for 80/20 plants, which motivated me to really stick to my healthy eating, but i hadn’t ventured back to the gym, for fear it would make my weight loss stall again. I lost a pound one week, then another pound the next, finishing the competition at just over 2 pounds lighter than I started. The total I paid in was £33, I finished last having lost 0.94% of my original weight. Other people paid bigger fines, but overall lost more weight. 

I have really struggled getting much below 190 for so long now, I truly think this is the set point of my body, and to lose this last 50 pounds is going to take extreme dedication. I thought the weight loss competition would give me the motivation, but a few weeks in I realised it was affecting me in the same way that Slimming World did all those years ago. My body just does not lose weight in a linear fashion. Okay, I had a holiday in the mix, but a combination of exercising/weights, periods, and not eating perfectly leads my body to produce big weight fluctuations.

On a day to day basis I am not aware of these (other than feeling bloated), but weighing in, competing against colleagues once a week showed me this. And instead of taking it for what it was, fluctuations, it would generally leave me feeling disappointed, angry at myself. No surprise what I sometimes do when feeling like this? Eat more. So for me (and I suspect most people), weight loss competitions just don’t work, especially long term. This is not a race to the finish line, it is your whole life and health, and next time the competition starts, as much as I would like to completely destroy my colleagues, I won’t be joining in. I suspect this is why slimming companies continue to exist, and the number of classes just seems to continually rise. Weight loss is incredibly difficult to sustain over the long term, short term loss and fluctuations don’t teach the message of true lifestyle and habit change, don’t rid people of the negative ideas they have around food. This competition reminded me even after 6 stone, these thoughts can still be within me to pop out when required. 

Since starting the new eating plan with 80/20 plants, I have been eating around 80% whole plants, and this week I have made it back to the gym five mornings out of five. I’ve not weighed myself this week, it is nearly my time of the month which means I’m bloated, plus it’s my birthday in a couple of days and to be honest I’m in for the long haul, not the minor changes. I just need to remember that. I am envious of those who lose weight consistently until they reach their goal, but I just don’t work like that, does anyone really? If the statistics of over 90% of people regaining any weight they lose are correct I begin to think this is actually a myth, and longing for something that just can never be is a pointless endeavour. 

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit. I’m not so active on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter at the moment but I am still consistently using My Fitness Pal and my Fitbit so these are probably the best places for us to connect.

 

8020plants

8020 Plants – No Meat Athlete

Well, I’m still stuck in plateau hell, I’ve been the same weight within a few pounds now for around a year, but I still have 50 pounds to lose. This is incredibly frustrating, having lost so much weight (80+ pounds), I feel I am almost being done out of celebrating the success I have had so far by still being so overweight.

I struggle with consistent exercise, fitting it in around work takes a lot of dedication and time, but even without much exercise I always strive to eat as close to a whole foods plant based diet as possible. However there are times when this slips, one too many takeaways are eaten, or one too many vegan doughnuts (damn you Morrison’s and your cheap, delicious, fresh doughnuts!). I have always felt that improving my diet to low calorie density plant foods, therefore giving me the ability to eat more and feel full is the way forward for not only my weight loss endeavours, but health and life in general.

I had been considering buying a meal plan to mix things up, when along came 80/20 plants, found at www.8020plants.com , a new meal plan and support service which offers videos, a community and a coach you can message alongside recipes. It was started by the guys from No Meat Athlete, one of my favourite podcasts I have listened to almost since day one of being vegan (along with some other people but I believe they are heavily involved with it).  Being a subscriber to their site and podcast offered a large discount so I thought I would give it a try.

I’m two weeks in currently, and they break up the roll out of plant foods in stages, focussing on different meals each week allowing for you to move change one meal at a time over to more plants.

Now they aren’t as strict regarding oils and processed food but heavily push the plants, hence the name 80% plants, 20% plant based processed (no animal products..ever). This works for me, as when I am struggling and I am probably closer to 50/50, and my weight creeps up at these times, generally I feel tired, just not quite as good.

The first week was breakfasts, and since I started I have had an 80/20 breakfast every day, this is something a little different for me. I have been intermittent fasting on and off for years now, but as I have completely stalled I have tried to mix it up. I still think intermittent fasting is great for you, and if/when I ever reach my target weight it is something I would consider permanently, but at the moment it just isn’t having the same impact it used to, and I do wonder if it encourages me to almost binge once my eating window starts. I have had some issues with binging, not in a eating disorder way but occasionally being unable to stop myself (especially with large takeaways), eating to the point of feeling sick.

For breakfast during the week I have had overnight oats, this is a good option for me as it means I can make it the night before, take it into work and eat straight from the tub with no preparation. Ingredients have been rolled oats, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, whole frozen pitted cherries and blueberries, a little vegan yoghurt, sweet cinnamon, unsweetened soy milk and then some frozen breakfast topper fruits which has strawberries, pineapple and some other bits and pieces. At the weekends I have been having tofu scramble with lots of veggies, homemade hash browns and some beans.

This is pretty similar with what I have eaten for a while, other than that I would usually eat it around 1 in the afternoon for opening my window, although at the weekends I would have a lot more processed foods in there such as vegan sausage, potato scones, oven hash browns, toast (again, to the point of feeling a little sick after eating so much). Breakfast at the weekend tends to be more brunch, around 11 am, during the week it is around 9 am. So far, so good, I wanted to see if eating earlier encouraged me to binge afterwards, and for the first few days I felt the familiar urge to start piling in the foods, but I am now easily making it to lunch time without anything else.

Week two was snacks, and I have made a few of these, but also tried to change what I snack on while cooking. I have made oat cups from a recipe on this blog www.shelikesfood.com . Instead of having them for breakfast they have been my pudding, and to be honest over the week I have began to really enjoy them. Initially they felt as if they weren’t indulgent enough, and previously I would have something small but very sugary (such as a mince pie/apple pie/aforementioned doughnuts). I’ve almost made some date/cashew balls rolled in desiccated coconut and these are so sweet! Sweeter than my previous snacks, but it’s natural sweetness from the dates so I’m fine with that! I’m also having two to three pieces of fruit per day.

Although I haven’t started lunch and dinner yet, eating this way has definitely encouraged me to eat in a more whole foods plant based way. I have tried some new recipes which may or may not make it to the blog, and I’ve lost a pound or two since starting, but I’m trying to keep my eye on the long game, and not focus on the minutiae of the week to week. Next week, on top of formally tackling lunches, I’m going to head back to the gym and see how that helps both weight loss and hunger levels. I can definitely say so far that 8020 plants is motivating me to eat in a way that is more aligned with my goals, and I’m excited to see how the next couple of weeks go!

I’ve been a little quiet on instagram recently as I have another project on the go which is taking up a large chunk of my social media time, but this week am going to at least post my interesting meals (possibly not the same overnight oats every day though!).

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Consistency

Extended Absence

I fear I am just destined to be an intermittent blogger, no matter my inner promises to blog somehow life gets in the way, when time and mental space are at a premium my poor blog suffers! I’m still active on Instagram and My Fitness Pal during these times, it just becomes increasingly difficult to fit in time to write full posts. Anyway, enough of me beating myself up for my absence and onto the reasons/excuses.

The main source of lack of time is that I started a new job 7 weeks ago, it’s the type of job that for a long time I thought I would never do. For the last couple of years I have worked in a software development role, but I would use that term a little loosely. There was day to day development but it heavily leaned on an existing framework, which was great, it offered a level of support in such a small team, but I was aware that ideally I wanted to get into a more hands on, technical development role. A recruiter contacted me for a role at a large international company, I  interviewed (even with a technical test), and I was over the moon when I was offered it, but at the same time terrified. I have impostor syndrome, although not as bad as it once was. While at uni I remember thinking “Well, there is no way I’m going to be able to do this as a job“, that I had wasted my time (I got a first class honours degree and postgraduate diploma with distinction..didn’t exactly scrape passing!), that I would never be good enough to work in this field.

Starting this job was a massive step, it was a little overwhelming to begin with, they have huge projects, not in my first programming language and a fairly large international team. But I have tried to take on lessons I have learned in years of meditation and mindfulness, don’t think too much about the big picture, notice when I am stuck ruminating on my fear and distract myself, and just get on with it.

It’s difficult at this stage to tangibly say how I’m doing, but I’m enjoying it, feel I am understanding things and writing code in a way I haven’t since University. The atmosphere is very positive, I’ve made some nice friends, it’s a world away from my previous job which I enjoyed but had some serious flaws. My commuting time has cut by 40 minutes each way as well, so I have more time back to myself, and it’s more money with routes upwards, better benefits. Overall it has been highly positive, and I’m looking forward to keep pushing forward.

My gym and diet however, especially in the last few weeks of my old job and first month of this have not been great or very consistent. I haven’t flown completely off track, but my weight has crept up a little, I’m currently 13 stone, 3.5, or 185.5 pounds. This is 6 pounds up from my lightest weight 2 months ago.

My weight is fluctuating wildly at the moment, initially I thought there was something going on physically (unsure what though) but now I think it is a combination of dropping off going to the gym, and general inconsistency with food. I am very susceptible to bloat after eating salty/oily food, it hangs around for days, and there has definitely been more of this on the menu in the last few months.

To get back in the routine I have been meal planning, and batch cooking at the weekend. For the last two weeks I have picked up exercising again, running and weights at the gym. I’ve changed the plan I’m following and will do a post about this next week. The IT department (including software development) have a weight loss competition I have joined to keep me motivated. They also have a little gym which I’m going to try out at lunch time with one the girls who goes fairly regularly. Overall, everything is moving in the right direction now, but things have definitely been a little bumpy!

Thank you anyone still around and I’m sorry for not being about! I suppose that is real life and weight loss, sometimes your focus has to shift, but it’s important to not throw it all away. A few pounds I can handle, it’s about recognising when things are going south and putting the brakes on before you end up back at square one.

We’re going on holiday to Dubrovnik in 3 weeks and I’m looking forward to trying some of the vegan options out there, so there will be some upcoming posts about that too. I’m also going to do some posts on my meal prepping/batch cooking healthy meals to save time during the week.

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Mushroom Stroganoff

Mushroom Stroganoff Recipe

I know, I have posted a recipe for Mushroom Stroganoff previously, but if I’m being honest, this one is better and I would try it first.

Ingredients

  • 400g Mushrooms
  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp wholewheat flour
  • Olive oil for frying onions (as little as possible)
  • 20ml Vegan single cream
  • Brown pasta/rice and green vegetables for serving

Method

This doesn’t take long to make so you can put on your pasta or rice first.

After this sautee onion, garlic and regular mushrooms in a little olive oil for 5 minutes until soft. Place aside in a bowl.

Chop the portobello mushrooms into slices around 1/4 inch thick. Sautee for a couple of minutes then add one cup of vegetable stock and Worcestershire sauce. Boil until reduced.

In a separate bowl mix the remaining cup of stock with the flour until dissolved. Once the fluid has boiled off the portobello mushrooms add back in the regular mushrooms/onion mix and then the stock/flour mix. This will thicken quickly so put on a very low heat. Once well mixed add vegan single cream, I used Alpro. I didn’t actually measure my cream but it wasn’t too much, I reckon about 20ml.

Mix well and serve with brown pasta or rice and green vegetables. This was a really nice creamy quick dish that had around 200 calories without pasta/vegetables. It did 2 good sized portions and the full meal was 500 calories.

Mushroom Stroganoff

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