The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Category: Vegan (Page 1 of 3)

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!

A creamy cashew based vegan mushroom stroganoff, which is not only very tasty but healthy too.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Servings: 2 people
Author: Fiona

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.

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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.

Eat to Live | Nutritarian | The End of Dieting

This post is a bit of a catch up post along with some information about where I’m going next with my diet.

We got confirmation of house purchase a few weeks ago, so exciting, we are buying our first house! No more renting! I have been moving things up there slowly, but our actual move date is in 13 days. There is so much to arrange before then, so it’s safe to say I’m incredibly busy. Packing our belongings, moving boxes, selling and giving away things, fitting this in with work and kids is proving challenging. Adding in exercise and weight loss and I just don’t have enough hours in the day. My exercise has ground to a halt until we move, but I’m still trying to keep my diet on track.

We went to Amsterdam for my birthday last weekend too, and the food there was amazing, I’ll make a post about this once we’re all settled in the new house.

So, keeping in mind all of this external activity, and the rapidly approaching end of year I’m beginning to seriously get worried about reaching my goal weight this year. There are 3 months left, and if I keep going the way I have been I will stay exactly the same weight I am now. It’s just not good enough and I can’t accept it. I need to change it up a bit as what I’m eating and doing now, while keeping me maintaining my weight, it’s just not getting me losing. I’m not sticking to it enough, a doughnut here or there, a huge portion of pasta, vegan ice cream, little to no exercise, if you put in half the effort you get out half the effort.

I’m going to change up my diet, and give Nutritarian a try, it is like whole foods plant based on steroids (I don’t condone steroid use!). The diet and books were created by Dr Joel Fuhrman, a pretty well known American doctor, and are aimed at getting the most nutrients in for every calorie you eat. The main book, called Eat to Live was released in 2003, and lays out his 6 week diet plan. There are a few keys rules, some of which I hope are really going to help me.

There are some foods you can eat completely unrestricted. These include all vegetables other than starchy vegetables. Lettuce, greens, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, cabbages, leeks, celery, radish, beetroots, carrots, peppers, spring onions, asparagus, green beans, kale, spinach, aubergine, courgettes, cauliflower, all of these can be eaten unlimited at meal times. These can be raw, or sauteed in water. At least 1 pound of these a day is suggested which is a huge amount.

Also unrestricted is beans, legumes, peas, lentils and tofu. Fruit is suggested at 4 servings per day. No oil or salt is allowed at all.

Restricted foods include starchy vegetables and grains. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash, pumpkin, quinoa, wholegrain pasta, millet, buckwheat, oats, any whole grains, these are limited to one cup per day. This scares me! It probably scares me for the reason why I’m not currently losing weight. I can admit it, I eat too many of these. Calorie wise they make up a huge amount of my daily intake.  You can even restrict these completely for the first 6 weeks but quite honestly that seems too far to me, so I will be sticking to 1 cup per day.

Also suggested is 1 oz of nuts or seeds per day. I will likely have this in the form of peanut butter with a banana in the evening, or added into a smoothie. No processed foods/added sugar are allowed for the 6 weeks.

When to eat also matters here, 3 meals per day is suggested with no snacks. I’m going to be combining this with fasting. I’m so far along with fasting now having breakfast so early during the week just does not feel right. I may not go as long as 20 hours, but at least 14 – 16 before my first meal which will more than likely be a huge salad with beans/chickpeas. I will follow this up immediately with some fruit. I’ll then hold off till dinner which will be some kind of cooked meal with my 1 cup of grains/starchy vegetables, tones of non starchy vegetables and greens. I’ll finish it off with more fruit and my nuts, or a smoothie.

While following this I’m reading the end of dieting book by Dr Joel Fuhrman, released in 2014 it expands on his eat to live Nutritarian approach. I believe this has some further guidelines, I’ve not started reading this yet so as the weeks go by I will post about this.

I’m aiming to keep a weekly diary on here charting the ups and downs, and all food that I eat, along with some weight loss hopefully! He suggests you can lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks, that would take me a good chunk of the way to my goal weight. If you have any experience with eat to live please send me some advice  on My Fitness PalInstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Vegan gram flour mini quiches

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

Vegan gram flour mini quiches

Vegan Mini Quiches

Mini quiche alternative made from chickpea (gram) flour
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Servings: 8 Muffins
Calories: 100kcal
Author: Fiona

Ingredients

  • 150 g Gram Flour
  • 1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1.5 cups Water
  • Lightly Sauteed Vegetables I used onions, peppers and tomatoes
  • Soft Vegan Cheese
  • Vegan Margarine Flora Buttery/Vitalite etc
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  • Mix the gram flour with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and pepper, water and any other herbs you want to add. Whisk until smooth.
  • Use the margarine to grease the edges of the muffin tin. Add a little of the quiche mix to the tin. Layer with a little cheese, then vegetables, then more quiche mix to cover.
  • Cook for around 25 minutes in a 180 degrees celsius oven.

Vegan gram flour mini quiches

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What I think about tesco as a vegan

What I think about Tesco as a vegan?

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

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

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

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

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Okja Review | Movie Review

Okja Review

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

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

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

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

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Curried Barley and Mushrooms | Slow cooker

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

Curried Barley and Mushrooms

Curried Barley and Mushrooms

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 273kcal
Author: Fiona

Equipment

  • Slow Cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 Bunch Spring Onions
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 tsp Mild Curry Paste
  • 1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Cup Barley
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk I made mine from 2 tbsp dehydrated coconut mix
  • 400 g Mushrooms
  • 1 tin Garden Peas

Instructions

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

 

Curried barley and mushrooms

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

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

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

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

New Years Resolutions/ Reflecting on 2017

Reflecting on 2017 | A Successful Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit.

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

Vegan Nutella Christmas Tree

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

Vegan Nutella Christmas Tree

Ingredients

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

Method

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

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

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

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

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

Vegan Nutella Christmas Tree - Uncooked

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

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Christmas Menu 2017 | Vegan Christmas

Christmas Menu 2017

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

Starter

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

Main

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

Pudding

  • Vegan Nutella Christmas Tree
  • Mince Pie Brownies

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

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Vegan Mac and Cheese

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

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

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

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

Method

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

Vegan Mac and Cheese

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

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

What the Health Review | Vegan Films

I recently purchased and watched What the Health, the new film out by the makers of Cowspiracy and thought I would write a review. First time round they came at a vegan lifestyle from the approach of planetary health, this time they approach from the personal health front.

I really enjoyed cowspiracy and was hyped up for What the Health months ago. My husband thinks I’ve list my mind, I’ve got to be honest, even a year or two again telling me I would be hyped for a film about health, and food choices to promote personal health, I would have laughed my head off. But being healthy has became a pretty important aspect in my life, so yes, I was legitimately excited for this film.

I had heard Kip and Keegan again on the Rich Roll podcast, and had been waiting until I got the chance to watch it properly.

My opinions? It was great, nothing I hadn’t heard before during research but it was great seeing it presented in that way. One thing that surprised me (although I’m not sure why) was the reaction of the American Health Associations, refusing to even have discussions about multiple peer-reviewed scientific papers showing clear correlations between consuming animal products and a multitude of health problems. Red and Processed meat being shown on food plans on websites relating to Diabetes/Cancer were truly shocking, as were the claims that no diet is offered by them, these are standard recipes (even though it says otherwise on the sites).

If I had any complaint it would be that it was very fast paced. There was a lot to say, and to fit it into an hour and a half required for it to be said quickly. I think my enjoyment would have been marginally improved if they had added some time onto the film and said it a little slower.

Shout out to my husband for his dad joke when Rich Roll came on screen and I started saying how much I love him…He asked if I was ever going to give him up…I found it funny!

So there you have it, my short but sweet What the Health review. If you are interested in the health aspects of a plant based diet, you can’t go wrong with this film. Their sources are found with incredible levels of research, the people on the film are legitimate respected doctors in the field (Dr Michael Greger, I love you too!). They cover most of the areas in a fast, yet understandable way. If you aren’t interested, or not vegan and you want to hear some usually unspoken information, you should check it out. If you are vegan, but not plant based, you should check it out. I guess what I am saying here is that everyone should check it out.

You can get it here on Vimeo, watch online, chromecast, download etc.

Whole Foods Plant Based

I made a number of New Years Resolutions for 2017, as laid out in my post in January found here. I set a word for the year, Simplify. At some point I will do a proper catch up but today’s post ties into this, I’m going to discuss the difference between Vegan vs Whole Foods Plant Based, and where I lie on this.

Vegan is generally for ethical reasons, this could be ethics relating to animals, or the  future of the planet. Vegan is not a diet as such, although you can follow a vegan diet. The word vegan transcends diet to cover your whole lifestyle, it is a lifestyle whereby you avoid the use of animal products as far as possible in all areas. Vegan does not equate to healthy though. I think assumptions are made that if you can’t eat animals/dairy/eggs what can you eat? Surely it’s just fruit and vegetables (and pasta grains etc). No! shout the vegans, there is a huge amount of vegan junk food, accidental or deliberate. (I’m forever grateful for the accidentally vegan co-op doughuts for example).

Whole foods plant based is a diet, however, you can be a vegan following a whole foods plant based diet. WFPB does relate to what you eat, which is mainly natural plant based foods in their whole form. They don’t need to be organic, or raw. Just whole, and plant based.

What counts as plant based?  Fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and nuts. What isn’t plant based? Animal products, meat, overly refined foods such as sugar, white flours, and some would say oil. Why do people choose a wfpb diet? Namely health, there is mounting evidence to say this is our optimal diet for short and long term health. (Much of this evidence is reviewed on the website nutritionfacts.org, check it out if you haven’t, Dr Michael Greger is a total legend in the nutrition world).

So where am I on this scale? I would say I am a vegan, who tries to follow a Whole Foods Plant Based diet around 80% of the time, with 20% being still vegan, but not whole foods. Pasta, I just can’t quit you! (although I do try to have wholegrain as much as possible)

How does this fit in with my New Years Resolution? Well, I have a number of personal reasons for moving towards wfpb. I truly believe it is the healthiest option. I also believe it is the only way I can lose weight, whole foods are nutritionally dense but calorifically low. This fits in with my propensity to eat a lot, large portions of wfpb is preferable to large portions of junk on a purely calorific level.

Additionally, I like to remove some of the needless decisions from my life. So I simplified my weekly meal plans to a mostly plant based diet (and have mostly stuck to this). This has became increasingly important now I am working a full time job. I know what I’m having every week (with a little editing), it’s fresh, healthy and filling.

I feel there are so many benefits to eating plant based, recently people have been saying my skin looks great. People at my new job were shocked when I revealed I had a teenage son and was in my mid 30’s. I know, I know, they could (probably are) just being polite, but I do feel as if I am looking healthy. Skin, eyes, hair. I can really only put this down to my diet. I’m full of energy, don’t really get tired (until bed time), don’t struggle out of bed at 4:45 am, pretty much always manage my step goal, housework, time with kids. My head is in a good place, body feels it too, and again, I think this comes back to what I’m putting in my body.

Now if I could cut the impromptu takeaways/crisp sandwiches/jam doughnuts down to maybe 5% I might actually be lose more weight!

Dark Seitan | Seitan Recipe

A few months ago I saw a new dark seitan recipe on facebook and thought I would need to try it out, I’m not sure why I took so long getting around to it but I remembered it this weekend and was sure I had all the ingredients so it was time. This seitan recipe is from the Buddhist Chef, I’ve split the recipe in half so makes enough for two – three decent sized portions, I have no idea on syns for slimming world, on the app 100g of tinned seitan is 0.5 syns as an idea.

Dark Seitan Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup of gram flour
  • 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp paprika, basil and onion powder
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 3/4 cups of warm water
  • Pot full of veg stock, around 3 – 4 cups

Method

Combine the dry ingredients well.

In a separate bowl combine ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and warm water. Add this to the dry ingredients, this will make a wettish dough. Mix well, kneading for around two minutes. I found this dough to be a little wetter than usual when I make seitan but I think this is probably what made it so nice.

Shape the seitan into an oval/log shape. Wrap in clingfilm, tying each end to make a sealed package.

Dark Seitan 1

Bring the stock to the boil and drop in the seitan. Lower to a simmer and simmer for one hour, turning the seitan occasionally.

Once the hour is up turn off the heat and allow the seitan to sit in the stock for another 15 minutes. Slice, eat and try not to eat it all at once. Dark Seitan 2

This seitan had a lovely flavour, I had it as part of a roast and it was so good, the only problem was that I couldn’t stop myself eating it! It certainly didn’t last long. This was the best seitan I have made yet, it could have been used across a variety of meals, in sandwiches, salads etc, I’ll definitely be making it again.

 

Dark Seitan 3

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Vegan Budget Shopping List

Is it just me or does it feel like this month has went on forever? Payday is around the corner, but the last few weeks I have been budgeting, and budgeting some more. Additionally, trying to eat in a slimming world friendly way, it’s not been easy!

Veganism is often stated as being an expensive diet, but having eating standard omnivore diet, high protein low carb, and vegan, vegan is the cheapest, by far! I’m not sure why it gets the reputation, if you buy all pre-processed foods I suppose it is a little more expensive, but buying pre-processed foods of any type always is, and the price of meat is sky high compared to beans/grains/legumes.

I decided to put together a vegan budget shopping list, covering a weeks worth of food, for what a buy for my current meal planning list. This may help anyone stuck on planning meals, or anyone even thinking about trying out a mostly plant based vegan diet. It’s hard to say how many people this will cover, my family are fussy so most nights this covers at least three of us, however, sometimes my husband will have something else, or daughter doesn’t like chilli for example, however it can definitely be stretched to three, four more pasta, more rice etc.

The following is a list of foods I would usually buy to cover the week of meals, breakfasts and lunches, I would buy some crisps and biscuits too for the kids, and my husband would probably want some junk food in there, but for the main meals hopefully this gives an idea of how little it can cost you. The total for this is around £35. Ridiculously cheap, I buy own brand stuff as well, I don’t see much difference, maybe I’m just used to it but when I need to save money this is what I buy.

  • Pasta x 2 – £1
  • Chopped Tomatoes x 3 – £1.50
  • Onions – £0.50
  • 2 x Mixed Beans – £1.00
  • 1 x Chilli Beans – £0.80
  • 1 Bag of Basmati Rice – £1.50
  • 1 Bag of Green Lentils – £1.20
  • 1 Large bag of White Potatoes – £2.00
  • 1 Bag of Arborio Rice (will last 2 weeks) – £1.10
  • 1 Bag of Spinach – £1.50
  • 1 Red Cabbage – £1.00
  • 1 Bag of Carrots – £1.00
  • 1 Brocolli Stalk – £0.50
  • 1 tin of Chickpeas – £0.50
  • 1 Pack of Peppers – £1.20
  • Mixed Chilli’s – £1.00
  • Frozen Berries – £2.00
  • Bananas – £1.00
  • Oatly – £1.50
  • Oats – £0.75
  • Bread – £1.00
  • Tomatoes – £1.00
  • Cucumber – £1.00
  • Tangerines – £1.00
  • Mushrooms – £0.80
  • Fruit on offer in aldi/lidl – £2.00
  • Veg on offer in aldi/lidl – £2.00
  • Baked Beans x 4 – £1.00
  • Stuffing – £1.00
  • Lettuce – £0.60
  • Cous Cous – £1.00
  • Garlic – £0.30

Store cupboard

  • Spices and Herbs
  • Gravy Granules
  • Gram Flour
  • Oil/Spray Oil
  • Vitalite
  • Chilli Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Nooch
  • Tomato Puree

Meals

  • Monday – Pasta, Tomato and Basil Sauce
  • Tuesday – Spicy Beans/Rice with chips and salad
  • Wednesday – Mixed Bean Chilli with Rice and Veg
  • Thursday – Green Lentil Sheperds pie with Veg
  • Friday – Risotto with Veg
  • Saturday – Saag Aloo with Rice, Veg
  • Sunday – Roast dinner with stuffing, potatoes and veg
  • Breakfasts – Fruit Smoothies, Toast and Tomatoes/Spinach, Vegan Fry Up, Beans on Toast
  • Lunch – Vegetable Soup, Houmous Salad Sandwich, Rice/Pasta/Cous cous and Veg, Baked Potato and Beans

 

Vegan Slimming World Diary 1 | 04/01/17 – 10/01/17

I had a good week this week, a good weight loss, didn’t feel hungry, ate plenty of fruit and veg, less processed foods, all round very smooth week. I lost 3.5 pounds which for me is a lot in a week! I also got slimmer of the week, combined with losing 1.5 pounds the week before, I’m guessing most people were still gaining at that point, either way I was over the moon.

vegan slimming world diary 1

Wednesday 4th January

  • Breakfast
    • Tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach (speed), new potatoes, baked beans (free)
  • Lunch
    • Cabbage, brocolli, onion, carrot, mushroom (free) stir fry, soy sauce (free)
  • Dinner
    • Portobello Mushroom(free) burgers in a sandwich thin (HexB), potato wedges (free), salad (speed), sauces (3 syns)
  • Snacks
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute dog walk

Thursday 5th January

  • Breakfast
    • Chickpea Omelette (5 syns), baked beans (free)
  • Lunch
    • Poha (free), veg (speed), hot chilli sauce (1 syn)
  • Dinner
    • Lentil sheperds pie(1.5 syns), cabbage(speed), mushy peas (free)
  • Snacks
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute dog walk

Friday 6th January

  • Breakfast
    • Fruit smoothie (5 syns)
  • Lunch
    • Leftover lentil sheperds pie(1.5 syns), cabbage(speed)
  • Dinner
    • Baked Rice/Tomato Risotto (free and speed), Slimming world chips (free), pepper and cabbage (speed)
  • Snacks
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute dog walk

Saturday 7th January

  • Breakfast
    • Chickpea omelette (5 syns), baked beans (free), tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach(speed)
  • Lunch
    • Homemade houmous (free), veg (speed), tomato and veg soup (speed)
  • Dinner
  • Snacks
  • Exercise
    • 65 minute dog walk

Sunday 8th January

  • Breakfast
    • Mini chickpea omelette (2.5 syns), homemade hashbrows, baked beans (free), tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach(speed)
  • Lunch
    • Homemade houmous falafels (free) salad(speed)
  • Dinner
    • Roast dinner with stuffing(4 syns), roast and new potatoes, parsnips, peas (free), carrots, cabbage and brocolli(speed) and gravy (1.5 syns)
  • Snacks
    • Banana, Tangerine
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute walk with the dog, 60 minutes at the gym

Monday 9th January

  • Breakfast
    • Sandwich thin (HexB) with 1/2 can of low salt/sugar baked beans, 5 mushrooms(speed), 1 tomato(speed)
  • Lunch
    • Teriyaki (2 syns) 1/2 pepper, 1/2 onion, 2 mushrooms, green cabbage, red chilli, 1/2 courgette(all speed), 80g dry white rice (free)
  • Dinner
    • Tomato Pasta (All speed), wholemeal pasta (free), Garlic Bread (7 syns)
  • Snacks
    • Banana, Tangerine
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute walk with the dog, 5 minutes yoga

Tuesday 10th January

  • Breakfast
    • Rye Bread (6 syns), Homemade Houmous (free), spinach and tomato (speed)
  • Lunch
    • Stirfried veg (free), wholewheat cous cous (free) chilli sauce (1)
  • Dinner
    • Mini wrap (4.5 syns), rice and beans (free), veg and salad (speed), chilli sauce (1 syns)
  • Snacks
  • Exercise
    • Gym 60 minutes, Dog walk 15 minutes, yoga 5 minutes

I’m planning on having a similar week this week, if I managed a 3 pound loss I would be at 50 pounds, also I would be over a stone and a half, and I would be over a stone since starting slimming world, so I’m really giving it my all this week!

Remember to follow me on instagram, facebook and twitter to see how I’m doing.

Baked Risotto | Dinner

I can’t remember when I found this recipe for baked risotto, I think it was shortly after I went vegan. Pre-vegan days I used to make another type of risotto, thinking back it was so overpoweringly cheesy, the thought of it turns my stomach now. I now jump between this one and a mushroom and onion risotto, but I usually make one of them at least once a fortnight.

The baked version has the advantage that it takes a lot less work, you mix the ingredients and shove it in the oven. On the down side it is never quite as creamy tasting, but it is still a tasty dinner. It also has another positive, this week I didn’t realise I had ran out of arborio rice so made it with long grain rice and it turned out just as nice. This serves around 3 people (or 2 with leftovers for us).

Baked Risotto

Ingredients

  • Spray oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup of arborio rice
  • 1 box of chopped tomatoes
  • Dried Italian seasoning, basil, salt and pepper for the sauce
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to around 200 celsius (180 fan, 400 fahrenheit). In a large pan cook onion and garlic for around 5 minutes until soft. Stir in rice until coated.

Add tomatoes and seasoning and cook for another 5 minutes.

Lastly add stock and bring to the boil, stirring continually.

Transfer to an oven-safe dish and cover with foil. Bake in the centre of the oven until liquid is absorbed, which usually is around 30 minutes.

At the end, remove from the oven and stir in the spinach and nutritional yeast if using.

The nutritional yeast is 5 syns for the 2 tbsp, so split between the meal it’s around 1.5 syns a portion, it’s also optional and only makes a minor difference to the flavour leaving it out.

I have it with whatever fresh veg I have around, sometimes chips/onion rings.

baked risotto

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Vegetable Curry | Dinner

I often struggle making tasty curry’s, but this vegetable curry is a hard one to mess up. It took around 40 minutes to make, and has 1.5 syns and was enough for two biggish servings, if you doubled the quantities it would be fine for more servings.

Vegetable Curry

Ingredients

  • 2 white potatoes cubed
  • 1 large courgette sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper sliced
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 10 mushrooms sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp of mild curry powder
  • 2 tsp of coconut milk powder
  • 1/2 a tub of passata
  • spray oil

Method

Using spray oil and a little of the curry powder, put the potatoes, courgette and red pepper in the oven for around 20 minutes to soften.

Once they are soft, sautee the onion, mushroom and garlic in a pot for a few minutes, then add the remaining curry powder and ensure it is mixed well, cook for another couple of minutes. Add the veg from the oven and passata and mix.

At this point I boiled the kettle and added an undetermined amount of water, you have to cook it on the hob for around 20 minutes to ensure the spices get through it all, so add enough to keep it liquidy, I would guess around 400ml. (This seems to be how much of my cooking goes, just throw it in and hope for the best!).

In the last 5 minutes I mixed my coconut powder with water, around 1/4 of a cups worth, to make a thin milk. You could also use coconut milk out of a tin if you like, I just find the powder is easier to store especially when you only need a little. 1 level tsp is 1.5 syns. I added the milk last and cooked for another couple of minutes.

We had this with rice and more speed veg in the way of purple and green cabbage. It was lovely, not too spicy, I could have chucked in some cayenne pepper but my husband wouldn’t have at it then so mild was fine.

vegetable curry

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Chickpea Omelette | Breakfast

Back in my pre-vegan days I ate a lot of eggs, in fact I found eggs to be one of the things I missed the most when I first made the switch. I’ve tried the follow your heart vegan eggs and found them to be overpoweringly eggy tasting, which was a shame, I was hopeful I would love them! (Although at £7 a box, I’m kind of glad I didn’t!) This week a recipe for a chickpea omelette popped up on my facebook, the picture looked delicious and they are something I’ve wanted to try for a while and I just kept forgetting about them. The omelette itself turned out to be incredibly quick to make, and really delicious.

Chickpea Omelette

Ingredients

  • 25g Gram Flour
  • 1 tsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 cup of water

Method

Mix all of the ingredients. Whisk well to get out the lumps in the batter.

Heat a frying pan with some spray oil, pour in the batter. Cook on both sides.

As a filling I used mushrooms, onions and a tiny bit of vegan cream cheese, and I served it with baked beans.

chickpea omelette

Slimming world wise this is 5 syns, 4 for the flour and 1 for the nooch, but in my opinion it was worth every syn. Not quite like an omelette but enough to satisfy, and very tasty. Remember to give me a follow on instagram, facebook and twitter for more.

Tomato and Herb Sauce | Dinner

This tomato and herb sauce is made usually once a week in my house, it’s quick, can be frozen, nutritional and definitely slimming world friendly. I usually serve it with wholewheat spaghetti, occasionally I’ll have with rice, or even just vegetables. It can also be used in lasagne, and I use a similar base when making bean chilli.

Tomato and Herb Sauce

Ingredients

  • Spray Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Chopped finely
  • 1 Onion, Chopped
  • 8-10 Mushrooms, Sliced
  • 1 Carrot, Chopped
  • 1 Stalk of Celery, Chopped
  • Tomato puree
  • 1 Box of Chopped Tomatoes (or a tin)
  • Vegetable Stock, around 1/2 litre
  • Italian Mixed Herbs
  • Basil
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

Sautee the garlic and onion in a pot with spray oil for a few minutes. Add mushrooms and continue cooking for another few minutes. Add celery and carrot and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the tomato puree and herbs. I don’t measure the herbs, just a generous sprinkle of the basil and mixed Italian herbs (basil, oregano, thyme and parsley). I season with salt and pepper.

Add the chopped tomatoes and stock. This will make quite a liquidy sauce. This needs reduced and will take around 30 – 40 minutes to get to a thickness that is suitable. The longer you cook the sauce the richer it gets, 30 – 40 minutes at a simmer is usually about right, but taste it often to be sure.

Finally, right at the end I may use the hand blender to blend it up a little. My daughter can be fussy about vegetables in sauce, so if I blend it up she can’t see them. If it’s just for myself though I often won’t bother.

Syn free, delicious, packed full of vegetables, it’s a great sauce. I hate jarred sauces now, they taste way too salty for me, but with this being so easy to make I really don’t mind. Plus, it costs about £1.50 for four portions. Cheap as anything.

Tomato and Herb Sauce

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