I absolutely love making curries, and over the years have posted many recipes for them, but sometimes I find something is missing when compared with my takeaway favourites (and it’s not just a ton of oil!) The consistency is often different, so I did a bit of research and found out that Indian takeaways use a curry base in their recipes. The curry base is a standard sauce mix that is used in every (or most) curries with combination of other curry specific ingredients, spices, vegetables.
In this last week the weather really has began to turn, and at this time of year I just love a casserole. The gentle spices in this recipie too really give it a nice warming feeling. It’s also a great excuse for me to get out my slow cooker. This is the third slow cooker I have owned, after having given away my previos two. I love the idea of a slow cooker, but I have just never really given them a shot.
When I first went vegan, I thought I already ate a lot of plants and whole foods. To be fair, I probably did in comparison to many, but a lot of my meals focused around meat (and then meat replacements), pasta or some kind carbohydrate, with vegetables on the side.
In recent years the research has shown that eating mostly plant based foods is best for your body. There may be occasional studies that show otherwise, but after digging there is usually something unusual around the methodology, or there are conflicts of interest, however the majority of the science shows that a whole foods plant based diet can be disease preventing, and even reversing.
With this knowledge, it can seem a little overwhelming to completely change your diet. I have gradually, over time moved towards a majority of whole foods, but I thought a post about easy ways to eat more plants and whole foods could be useful.
- Greens with every meal
- Make the vegetables the main, rather than the side
- Switch white carbohydrates for wholemeal
- Try new grains
- Always look for a way to add vegetables no matter the meal
Smoothies can be a great way to get in a lot of fruit (and vegetables), and can be a good breakfast option if you are busy in the mornings. In addition to the fruit, you can really load up with vitamins by adding ground flaxseed (readily available in tesco and other shops), which is a great vegan source of omega 3. I have heard that whole flaxseed (sometimes called golden linseed) can’t be broken down properly, so for the benefits of the omega 3 either buy already ground, or grind yourself.
I would note that with smoothies, it is important to drink slowly rather than gulp down. This is discussed within How Not to Diet, that the speed of drinking helps the full feeling. Personally, I also avoid juicing, as the majority of the fibre is removed, and this is one of the key ingredients that you want in your diet.
Ideas to have in smoothies – Bananas, Apples, Berries, Mangoes, Nut Butters, Oats, Oranges, Ginger, Kale, Spinach, Cucumber, your favourite vegan milk and so much more.
Oats are a nutritional powerhouse, full of fibre and goodness. I have started having porridge in the mornings and again I add flaxseed. I add berries, a banana, occasionally a little dried fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, cacao nibs and it is a naturally sweet, filling start to the day. There are so many flavour combinations out there it would be difficult to get bored with oats.
Overnight oats are a good choice if you don’t have time to make porridge in the mornings. When I make this I usually do the same as my hot porridge but I add a little vegan yoghurt. You can also make cookies from oats which is a good way of avoiding white processed flour.
Salads, or some variation of them can be a good choice for lunch, or to have with dinner. Salads have moved on from just iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes (although I do still like and eat this combination). My meal prepped lunches are technically salad. Their base level is the old school combination but then on top I have my grains, legumes and many more vegetables of all different colours. There are lots of recipes for dressings out there too if that’s your thing.
Greens with Every Meal
An easy way to fill up on iron, calcium and fibre is to have greens with every meal. The base of my plate is usually kale, cabbage, spring greens, brocolli, spinach, some kind of green vegetables.
One point of note when it comes to what greens are you choosing to eat. Spinach is pretty high in oxylates, and there is some evidence that large amounts of spinach can potentially cause kidney stones. Recently, even though I eat quite a lot of spinach, I have began subbing some of it with kale. Kale is really better all round so its a good choice, but don’t avoid spinach altogether!
A lot of greens consumption comes down to how you cook them and I do it in a few different ways depending on the meal. My usual dinner preparation is too lightly steam them. After steaming for a few minutes these go even more green coloured and this is when to take them off the heat, its a sign of the nutrients being released. I also have them water sautéed with my veggies, and regularly throw handfuls of spinach and kale into meals.
Switch White Carbohydrates for Wholemeal
Switch out white rice for brown or white pasta for brown. They both have a slightly more nutty flavour, but are far higher in fibre as they haven’t had the outer husk stripped. This is an easy switch to make. I don’t eat bread that much anymore but I try to choose wholemeal, and love brown sourdough (too much though!). My family aren’t keen on brown bread so they eat 5050 which is even a small step in the right direction.
Try new grains
I like to try new grains in place of rice and pasta. While I think these are okay within moderation, they can be fairly calorific, and often I’m looking for a more nutritious option instead of these.
My favourites are quinoa, wholewheat Cous Cous, pearl barley, bulgur wheat, there are so many options out there.
Always add vegetables no matter the meal
I try to add vegetables no matter the meal. If I’m having pizza I’ll add vegetables to the topping and have a salad. If I’m having pasta I’ll have my bowl of greens with it. If I’m having a meal I can’t force vegetables in I’ll have homemade soup before.
There are so many ways to move towards a whole foods plant based diet, so many swaps to make, some of them significantly cheaper and faster to make. I find over time my diet has moved closer and closer to a higher percentage of plants, and my health and energy levels have improved along the way.
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!).
Carrot Hot Dogs – Healthy Junk Food
Carrot Hot Dogs, when I first saw the recipe for these online I found it hilarious but appealing. I’ve got to be honest, in my pre-vegan days I can’t imagine I would have ever bothered attempting to make these. Too much effort, for carrots in rolls? Madness! However, when you consider what goes into an actual hot dog, it’s actually quite gross. I know some people love them but if you see how they are actually made, that weird, definitely not food like pink sludge. It makes me feel sick just thinking about it. I always felt a little weird eating hot dogs when I was an omni, but I did still eat them. They are one food I do not miss. Moving on to the vegan options, I have tried fry’s vegan hot dogs but I found they had an unusual taste, they were edible, just not enjoyable.
In come the carrot hot dogs! I can’t remember where I first saw them, I imagine it was possibly Instagram (I see everything on there!) but I genuinely can’t remember. This recipe by cleaneatingveggiegirl.com was the one that I followed, the following is the recipe from that website,
- 2 large carrots, peeled
- 1/8 Cup of Soy Sauce
- 1/4 Cup of Water
- 1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- 1/2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 Tsp Liquid Smoke
- 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/4 Tsp Dried Ginger
- 1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
- 1/8 Tsp Onion Powder
- Olive oil for cooking
That is pretty much the recipe from cleaneatingveggiegirl.com but it’s definitely worth checking out her site for more recipes! I’m grateful for this one, because I am pleased to say that the carrot hot dogs were actually delicious!
The above pic is three of them after cooking. The method essentially is mix together all ingredients except the carrots. Then put the carrots in the mix and marinade for as long as you can, the recommended was 24 hours, unfortunately I forgot about that stage but did mine for a couple of hours but they still had a nice flavour.
Once they are marinaded you fry them, it takes quite a while for them to take on the darkness. You put in some oil and some of the marinade, I basically kept adding marinade all the way through the cooking process. I would say they took around 15 minutes to get to the above stage.
There is the finished meal, I am definitely making them again. Okay, they weren’t exactly like hot dogs, nowhere near in fact, but to be honest I think I would have been a little freaked out had they been. I preferred the flavour and texture of these when compared to Fry’s, and with the mustard, tomato sauce and onions in a roll they were really tasty, and healthy! Win Win!