The only constant thing in life is change!

It’s been quite a week. Back to having 3 teenage boys in the house makes for a busy, chaotic household! Other family commitments have meant that I haven’t given my blog the attention I should have this week – hence being late in posting!

Talking about change, we are currently in the second period of lockdown in the UK this year and it means that once again we are not able to freely meet with family and friends. So what to do whilst confined to home and with members of our own household! Well, during the first lockdown back in March of this year I tried to buy some board games. Everyone must have been thinking the same thing because the only game I could get was Monopoly, but the price was so inflated I didn’t buy it! This time, I was able to purchase one at a reasonable price. Since it’s arrival a couple of weeks ago, we have had quite a few games. Funny how a “fun” game can be so competitive! I’ll skip over the arguments it’s caused. During a recent epic game (after 4 hours and at 1.30am we agreed to end the game). During it, I don’t know how or why the conversation turned to photos but I discovered one of my grandchildren was in possession of a photo of me pre wfpb!!!! I have previously said in my blog that I don’t possess a before photo and I truly believed this was the case. My question to them was “how?”, because I would never knowingly have allowed a photo to be taken. I was amazed that I suddenly felt so vulnerable. All the old insecurities came flooding back and I said “it really shouldn’t bother me now, but it does”.

But, aside from that, this game has meant we spend time together as a family, experiencing every human emotion you can think of, where normally we would all be doing our own thing in our own space. Thank you Monopoly (other games of course, are available!)

so, the before photo. I was reluctant to see it, never mind share it with anyone! Wow, it has really stirred up some powerful negative feelings. But, here it is. I remember this unhappy, unhealthy woman very well.

This photo was taken shortly before I began wfpb in November 2019

Unfortunately my after photo is not a truly comparable picture but the best I have. The jumper in the before photo is now so big on me, I can turn around in it!

This photo was taken towards the end of August this year. I am so thankful that I was open to following a whole-food plant-based lifestyle. I’m sure If I hadn’t, I would still be on the yo-yo dieting treadmill, losing weight and then putting it all back on and more, as has always been the case. I’m not saying I am always 100% compliant but I strive to be – and it’s working for me. I am still a work in progress but I’m confident this change is not a flash in the pan.

Continuing with the alphabet and my random choice of vegetables and fruit, we have arrived at E:

Edamame – preparation of immature soybeans in the pod, found in cuisines with origins in East Asia. The pods are boiled or steamed and may be served with salt or other condiments.

Nutrition facts per 100g:

  • Calories: 122
  • Total fat: 5g
  • Sodium: 6mg
  • Potassium: 436mg
  • Carbohydrate: 10g
  • Protein: 11g

Health benefits taken from healthline.com

  • May lower cholesterol
  • Doesn’t raise blood sugar
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals
  • May reduce the risk of breast cancer
  • May reduce menopausal Symptoms
  • May reduce the risk of prostate cancer
  • Might reduce bone loss
I’ve discovered I like this vegetable

Occasionally, I add edamame beans (frozen) to the chickpea curry I highlighted in last weeks blog. I also put them in Buddha bowls and stir fry – a versatile vegetable.

Endive, is a member of the lettuce family, is shaped like a bulb and has slightly bitter-tasting leaves that overlap each other. It’s delicious, I am informed, in a mixed salad with sweet tomatoes and slices of orange.

The humble endive

Taken from http://www.verywellfit.com one cup (50g) of chopped endive provides:

  • Calories: 8.5
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 11mg
  • Carbohydrate: 1.7g
  • Fibre: 1.6g
  • Sugars: 0.1g
  • Protein: 0.6g

Health benefits:

  • AIDS in cancer prevention
  • Promotes heart health
  • Supports good vision
  • Aids weight loss
  • Supports a healthy pregnancy

I don’t believe I have ever eaten endive. Unless it’s included in the bags of salad leaves you can buy in supermarkets. Some salad leaves can be quite bitter tasting and I’ve definitely had that experience!

As always, I hope you enjoy this brief look in to my wfpb life. Please like, share, comment and follow my site – I appreciate your support.

Work in Progress

I am committed to following a wfpb lifestyle and am always striving to make it as simple as possible. To achieve that I do a lot of research and experimenting because I do like variety in my meals. However, I found a recipe very early on in my wfpb journey that I continue to enjoy and what makes it so simple is it’s cooked in an Instant Pot – you’ll find my step-by-step photo guide to cooking a Chickpea Curry later in this post. But first, continuing with the alphabet theme – D for Date:

Date: These fruit come from the date palm tree and grow abundantly in the Middle East. Dried dates make a super sweet snack and are full of fibre. They can be chopped and sprinkled on cereal or baked into a muffin. But for an energy boosting snack, try the following recipe:

Date Energy Balls from detoxinista.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups walnuts, or other nut/seed of choice
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups soft Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a large food processor fitted with an “S” blade, process the walnuts and coconut until crumbly.
  2. Add in the dates, vanilla and sea salt and process again until a sticky, uniform batter is formed. You don’t want to over process, or the batter will become oily, so process until crumbly but sticky when pressed between your fingers.
  3. Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons, then roll between your hands to form balls. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then place in the fridge or freezer to set for at least 30 minutes before serving. Store the balls in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for an even longer shelf life.

Nutrition:

  • Calories: 123
  • Carbohydrates: 11g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 8g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 50mg
  • Potassium: 149mg
  • Fibre: 2g
  • Sugar: 8g
Delicious as the date energy balls are, they are quite calorific so should be eaten sparingly if you are wanting to lose weight

Below is the recipe I make most, because it’s so simple to make and so easy to change up with vegetables of your choice and what you choose to eat it with. Be that rice, couscous, air fried chips etc. I have made my own changes to this recipe but the original recipe was from acouplecooks.com

Chickpea Curry

Step 1: place 1 chopped onion into the instant pot on sauté for 3 minutes.

Step 2: Add 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 1 tablespoon minced ginger and sauté for 2 minutes.

Step 3: Sauté until softened.

Step 4: Add 2 tablespoons curry powder and toast for 1 minute.

Step 5: Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and stir to deglaze the pot.

Step 6: Add a tin of drained chickpeas and a tin of lentils (I always add lentils). Add a tin of coconut milk (I have started using oat milk instead). At this point I add 8 ounces frozen green beans. You can personalise your curry with whatever vegetables you choose to put in.

Cook on high for 6 minutes

Step 7: Put the lid on making sure the vent is turned to sealing. Press Pressure Cook and set the timer for 6 minutes. When finished you can either leave to let the steam disperse naturally or turn the vent to venting and perform a quick steam release.

Step 8: Remove the lid and add a huge handful of fresh spinach. Stir in until the spinach has wilted.

The Finished Dish

Step 9: Serve with a side of your choice. I enjoy it with wild rice or couscous. Sometimes I make my own fries in the air fryer – very good!

Please let me know if you make either of the recipes in this post and tell me how you get on. Please read, like, comment, share and follow my blog. Suggestions for future posts are always welcome.

It’s Personal

Every day is a challenge in one way or another isn’t it? Particularly as we in England are back in lockdown. My challenge at the moment is to come up with engaging content every week for this blog. Am I getting through to those who read it, the absolute passion I have for this diet lifestyle? It is truly amazing how easy, simple and effortless it is or can be. It can be more complicated of course. There are recipes with lots of ingredients and more complicated techniques and if you have the time, why not? Why not indulge and prepare a wonderful intricate meal? Not for me most of the time though! The simpler the better- keep it simple. I hesitate to say kiss (keep it simple stupid) because stupid it is not. Whole-foods – no additives, plant-based – no animal, dairy or processed foods – that’s the ideal. That’s what I strive for, but I’m certainly not perfect, not 100%. Simply put I’m doing the very best I can and don’t put pressure on myself if I fall below the ideal. The results in terms of weight loss and how well I feel is enough to keep me motivated to continue.

We are at C in the alphabet where I choose 2 or 3 whole-foods and dig a little deeper into the nutrition and health benefits of each one. It is clear to me these foods are truly beneficial when eaten as far as possible, as nature intended. C is for:

Courgette -also known as zucchini

Courgette (sometimes called zucchini)- https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/zucchini-benefits.

Courgette is a member of the squash family. You can enjoy these in stews or soups, roasted, grilled or pickled. Key nutritional values are as follows for one cup of cooked courgette:

  • Calories: 17
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: less than 1g
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Fibre: 1g

Courgettes have a high water content so are a great way to eat your way to better hydration.

Courgettes are high in antioxidants. They contain plenty of carotenoids such as lutein and beta-carotene, which can benefit your eye, skin and heart health.

Vitamin C – with lots of immune system supporting vitamin C, particularly in the skin, eating courgettes may help to protect cells and keep them healthy. It is also essential for maintaining healthy skin and bones.

Potassium – mostly found in the darker green skin of the vegetable so use the whole plant in your cooking. Potassium is good for controlling blood pressure, can help maintain, water levels, digestion and heart health.

Carrot – some say it’s a super food

Carrots: information taken from healthline.com. Nutrition facts for 100g:

  • Calories: 41
  • Water: 88%
  • Protein: 0.9g
  • Carbs: 9.6g
  • Sugar: 4.7g
  • Fibre: 2.8g
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Vitamin A
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin K1
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B6

The carrot is a root vegetable. It is crunchy, tasty, and highly nutritious. They are a particularly good source of beta carotene, fibre, vitamin K1, potassium and antioxidants. They also have a number of health benefits:

  • They are a weight-loss-friendly food
  • Are said to lower cholesterol levels
  • Linked to improved eye health
  • Carotene oxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer.

Keeping with the theme of keeping it simple and as I haven’t been doing much batch cooking recently, I thought I’d wing it and throw a simple stir fry together. Apologies if any of the following photos are a bit blurry – it’s due to the steam!

Step 1: Sauté 1 cup diced onion and 1 tbsp minced garlic in a little water until the onion has softened

Sauté diced onion and garlic in water

Step 2: Chop up orange, yellow and green bell peppers and a head of broccoli – add to the pan on a medium heat. Cover and cook for 7 – 10 minutes or until veg has softened. Add extra water if the veg begins to stick. I could have added some vegetable broth at this point, but to be honest I don’t like the flavour (odd I know!)

Add yellow, orange, green bell peppers and broccoli

Step 3: mix 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 tsp crushed chilli and 1/4 cup water and add to the pan, stir well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes

Mix water, soy sauce, maple syrup and a teaspoon of crushed chilli and add to the vegetables.

Step 4: Add a large handful of fresh spinach and stir in until it’s wilted

Add spinach until it wilts

Step 5: Add 8 ounces cooked spaghetti and stir through the vegetables and sauce.

My grandson had walked into the kitchen as I started to cook this dish and he had his own thoughts on what should go into it. It was his idea to add the spaghetti (I would have used wholewheat spaghetti) but he wasn’t having that. Originally I was going to stir in some wild rice – but I was happy to go along with what he wanted knowing there was more chance of him eating it – he did, and thoroughly enjoyed it!

Add cooked spaghetti
The finished dish – I am told by my grandson that it was delicious

A very simple dish, easy to prepare and took very little time to cook. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Please visit, share, comment and follow my blog. If you try this recipe, please let me know what you thought of it.

Are You Eating Enough of the Good Stuff?

Continuing with the alphabet theme:

Broccoli

Wikipedia describes Broccoli as an edible green plant in the cabbage family whose large flowering head, stalk and small associated leaves are eaten as a vegetable.

  • One cup of broccoli (91g) 31calories
  • Carbohydrate: 6g
  • Fibre: 2.4g
  • Protein: 2.5g
  • Fat: 0.4g
  • Potassium: 230mg
  • Vitamin C: 40.5mg
  • Folate: 49.4mcg
  • Vitamin A: 6.08mcg
  • Beta-carotene: 70.7mcg
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin 566mcg
  • Vitamin E: 0.11mg
  • Vitamin K: 77.5mcg

Health Benefits – studies have shown that Broccoli:

  • Can reduce the risk of cancer
  • Improves bone health
  • Boosts immune health
  • Improves skin health
  • Aids digestion
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes
  • Protects cardiovascular health
  • Information taken from http://www.healthline.com>foods>broccoli

Of course! The benefits from foods can only be effective in conjunction with eating a healthy balanced diet.

Blueberry

One of my favourite fruits. Oddly, the only way I could eat blueberries pre wfpb was if I put one inside a raspberry! Unless I was eating a blueberry muffin of course! I still like blueberry muffins but now they are wfpb compliant.

Blueberries are a superfood, packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids. They are also high in potassium and vitamin C. Not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory.

  • A cup of blueberries contains 84 calories
  • Fibre: 4 grams
  • Vitamin C: 24% DV
  • Vitamin K: 36% DV
  • Manganese: 25% DV
  • Small amounts of various other nutrients

Several studies suggest that blueberries and blueberry juice reduce DNA damage, which is a leading driver of aging and cancer.

The antioxidants in blueberries seem to benefit the brain by aiding brain function and delaying mental decline.

Blueberries may also help fight urinary tract infections. They are closely related to cranberries, they boast many of the same active substances as cranberry juice. These substances are called anti-adhesives and help prevent bacteria like E. coli from binding to the wall of your bladder. All information taken from http://www.healthline.com

Blueberries are incredibly healthy and nutritious. They are also sweet, colourful and easily enjoyed either fresh or frozen.

A Bowl Of Pure Deliciousness

Brussels Sprouts

This will divide opinion, I know – a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it! I love Brussels sprouts and always have done – just as they come. I also like them on the soft side, not crunchy. I know they are not everyone’s favourite vegetable but they are full of wonderful nutrients that are good for us. Check out http://www.healthline.com to find out how Brussels Sprouts benefit your health including being high in nutrients – 78g (1/2 cup) provides:

  • Calories: 28
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Carbs: 6 grams
  • Fibre: 2 grams
  • Vitamin K: 137% of the RDI (Reference Daily Intake)
  • Vitamin C: 81% RDI
  • Vitamin A: 12% RDI
  • Folate: 12% RDI
  • Manganese: 9% RDI

Brussels Sprouts are especially rich in vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and bone health. Also high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps promote iron absorption and is involved in tissue repair and immune function. Check out the health benefits at http://www.facty.com/

Such a maligned vegetable

This recipe is from shaneandsimple.com – Roasted Brussels Sprouts cooked in a delicious balsamic glaze.

  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Slice the bottom off the Brussels sprouts, cut them in half length-wise and place them in a large bowl
  • Toss them with some low-sodium veggie broth and season with a little salt (if using) and ground black pepper
  • Lay the sprouts cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes. They should be a little browned and tender
  • While the sprouts are roasting, make the balsamic glaze:
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Just before the sprouts have done roasting in the oven, preheat a non-stick skillet. Cook the sprouts for 5-10 minutes in the skillet with the balsamic glaze over a medium heat. You want the glaze to disappear and the Brussels sprouts to caramelise and get that bit of “char” on them. Remove from heat and enjoy. Go on I dare you, (for those who don’t like Brussels sprouts!)

Back to Basics

In my last post I shared that I was joining the “fatmanrants” #fmrbootcamp. A 7-day challenge – going back to basics. For me it proved that following a whole-food plant-based lifestyle does not have to be complicated. Can’t tell you how much weight I’ve lost because I don’t weigh myself – don’t own a set of scales! However, I can tell you I feel great. I ate lots of potatoes, boiled, mashed and chipped and loads of truly flavoursome vegetables. No need to stand peeling vegetables for hours either, grab bags of veg from the freezer and away you go. There were 3 components to the challenge each day:

  1. In the morning, write down 3 things you are grateful for.
  2. Eat simple, plant-based, basic foods. For the next 7 days eat only greens and veggies, starchy veggies like potatoes and squash, whole grains and fruits. Hold off on nuts, seeds, tofu and flours until after the 7-days and then eat them in a very limited amount. Avoid meat, dairy, eggs, processed foods and oil…for ever!
  3. Move your body on purpose for 30 minutes – meaning over and above what you normally do in a day.

I’ll be honest and tell you I didn’t achieve full compliance every day. The first was easy. The second I achieved 4 days out of the 7. Ate out twice and while I aim to be as wfpb as possible it doesn’t always happen. The third…well still working on that one, but am trying to walk more than I normally do each day and a couple of days followed some basic exercises on YouTube – Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Eating Out

Before Chesterfield was put into tier 2 restrictions, I visited the Sorbo Lounge for lunch. This time I ordered the Vegan Bombay Sweet Potato & Lentil Curry with roasted sweet potatoes, lentils and fried potatoes served with lime & coriander rice, spring onion and red chilli. Another delicious meal.

Vegan Bombay Sweet Potato & Lentil Curry – at Sorbo Lounge in Chesterfield

Kids and veggies

Earlier this week I was eating a really simple meal with a huge helping of mixed veg and one of the grandkids looked at it and said he could eat a whole plateful of just the mixed veg – music to my ears. Not pushing it just setting an example with a gentle nudge in the right direction.

Technical difficulties!!!!******

My blog post is late this week. Apologies for this, I was trying, (unsuccessfully) to provide links to information within this post – spent some considerable time trying to sort it out – so frustrating! Another work in progress! Please like, share, comment on this post and follow my blog. I appreciate you taking the time to read my posts and look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Seeing Things Differently

Visited the hair salon today – I go every 6 weeks and normally by the middle of the 5th week I’m looking at my grey roots thinking the next appointment can’t come fast enough. This time however, I was out with my friends when I received a text reminder for my next appointment, and was genuinely surprised it was so soon – in 2 days time. I remember thinking I’d not been overly concerned about my grey roots that morning! Got me to thinking, was my wfpb lifestyle responsible for my grey not coming through as quickly? Or, more likely I feel, during the pandemic lockdown I went 20 weeks between appointments, so the amount of grey after 6 weeks seems nothing compared to that. Needless to say, I always feel fantastic after my appointment. Hair by Pip at Honeycomb Hair and Beauty, in Staveley, Chesterfield.

After struggling with my weight for so long, what also struck me on my visit to the salon was – I like what I see in the mirror now – because I’ve lost so much weight. I now feel comfortable in my own skin. Such a good feeling. It makes me feel so free, I feel lighter, I walk with more purpose, I smile more – how many more reasons do I need to keep me on track?

Plant-Based Alphabet

As an ongoing theme I’ve decided to do an alphabetical rundown of some plant-based foods – starting with:

Aquafaba

I have used this as a thickener in stir fries and curries – not bad for something you would usually discard!

Aquafaba is the viscous water in which legume seeds such as chickpeas have been cooked. Due to its ability to mimic functional properties of egg whites in cooking, aquafaba can be used as a direct replacement for them in some cases. It makes a great vegan egg replacement. It can be used for meringue, pavlova, used to make mousse, included in ice cream, Mayo and much more – a very versatile ingredient.

Avocado

I had never eaten avocado before eating wfpb
  • The avocado is incredibly nutritious and contains:
  • Vitamin K: 26% of the daily value (DV)
  • Folate: 20% DV
  • Vitamin C: 17% DV
  • Potassium: 14% DV
  • Vitamin B5: 14% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 13% DV
  • Vitamin E: 10% DV
  • It also contains small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin).
  • An average sized avocado contains 160 calories, 2 grams protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. It contains 9 grams of carbs of which 7 grams is fibre – so this is a low-carb plant food.

I definitely see avocado differently now. I use it in ‘Vegan Toona’ – makes a wonderful sandwich with lots of salad accompanied by a jacket potato, in Buddha bowls and in chocolate puddings.

Going Back to Basics

On Monday 19th October, I joined the “fatmanrants” 7 day bootcamp challenge. It means going back to basics, eating only greens and vegetables, starchy veggies like potatoes and squash, whole grains, beans and fruits, while holding off on nuts, seeds, tofu and flours. After the 7 days I can start eating them in a very limited way. All the time avoiding meat, dairy, eggs, processed foods and oil …forever! A great way to eat very cleanly. The challenge also asks that I write down three things I am grateful for each day and to complete at least 30 minutes exercise every day. I will let you know how I get on in my next post. You can find this challenge at #fmrbootcamp on Facebook or at fatmanrants.com

Please visit, like, comment and follow my blog. Share it with your friends. Feel free to comment and raise issues you would like me to discuss in this blog.

Still Keeping It Simple

Went out for lunch in Chesterfield today with 2 wonderful friends. We chose to visit Wetherspoons in Chesterfield Town Centre – we know it as The Portland Hotel. Before lockdown this was our usual haunt to meet up every 3 to 4 weeks. It’s a great place to meet because no one minds that we spend 4/5/6 hours there, drinking refill coffees (not often I drink anything other than water these days) and having lunch. But more importantly, having a good old catch up, reminiscing, laughing and joking around, along with a good dose of mutual therapy – a safe and supportive place to offload – priceless! What’s the old saying, “laughter is the best medicine,” It most definitely is – along with wfpb!

On to what to eat. I was about to choose the Rainbow Quinoa Salad – comprising quinoa, grilled butternut squash, pink cabbage, black eyed beans, black rice, yellow cherry tomatoes, red Roquito pepper, pumpkin seeds and kale with a dressing (sounded delicious). I was about to ask what the dressing was when my friend who was ordering on the app told me it wasn’t available – that was disappointing! I will definitely be ordering it when I next eat there. So, back to the drawing board – found a Beyond Burger meal! Having read so much about plant-based alternatives that big companies are producing to meet the needs of an ever growing demand for plant-based products, I decided to give it a go – for research purposes you understand!! As you can see from the photo below, the food looked decidedly underwhelming, but the actual plant-based patty was very good. As I’ve said before, when I eat out, I try to be as compliant as possible but I don’t stress if I can’t meet that standard.

Beyond Burger

I always advocate keeping things simple and by chance in the early hours of Monday morning when I was struggling to sleep I came across ‘fatmanrants’ on Facebook. Tim and Heather Kaufman are a couple who were considered morbidly obese and have turned things around by adopting a plant-based diet/lifestyle. Their blog ‘fatmanrants’ has documented their journey and provides inspiration, advice, tips and recipes to anyone who has or is thinking about adopting this lifestyle. On this occasion they were talking to Joseph Alexander who has lost 245 lbs on a whole-food plant-based diet. His story resonated with me because he believes in “keeping it simple.” He described how he has the same breakfast every morning, often has leftovers for lunch and said if he didn’t have to cook for others in his family, he would readily eat the same thing for dinner every evening. I try very hard to keep my own meals very simple but I do have a bit more variety than Joseph. As I stated in my last blog, I recently changed my own breakfast after eating the same thing every morning for over 10 months. I now have oatmeal (porridge) every morning, with a variety of fruit, flax seed and a drizzle of maple syrup. I love it and it keeps me fuller for longer than my previous fruit only breakfast. Tim Kaufman’s motto is“Eat plants and move your body, all ya gotta do is a little more than yesterday” If you are looking for inspiration, I recommend you check out ‘fatmanrants’ and Joseph Alexander – among many others. As Heather and Tim Kaufman say, “if we can do it, you can too.”

My grandson who adopted a vegan diet a few months ago stating he no longer wanted to eat animal products, went off plan for a while and started eating some dairy. Last week, he told me he he felt his mood slipping back to pre vegan diet days so was ditching the dairy again. Wow, such insight! So proud of him for recognising that what he eats impacts the way he feels. There is so much evidence out there about a strong connection between gut health and the brain. We could do worse than listen to what our bodies tell us.

Reading the ingredients on the pack of ‘fake ham’ the grandson had bought, he exclaimed, “what, I’m eating insects?” The ingredient, ‘Locust Bean Gum!” Googled it – a natural food additive derived from the seeds of the Carob tree. Result – grandsons mind at rest! The gum, also called carob gum, acts as a stabilising and thickening agent. It has a sweet, slightly chocolaty flavour. I’ve got some being delivered today.

I don’t preach, I don’t judge others for their food choices, (I hope I don’t come across that way) but I will talk about my own choices when asked. My influence on my families food choices comes purely from me living it. One grandson deciding on a vegan diet and the other two gladly trying more and more plant-based meals. One in particular will comment on something “smelling good nana” as he walks into the kitchen and will identify ingredients before he sees the food – that makes me smile.

Next month, November, I will have been living wfpb for a year! While the weight loss has slowed down, my enthusiasm for this lifestyle change has not diminished. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this isn’t a diet in the way I’ve always used diets in the past. There is no end date and for me there’s no going back to my old eating habits. I’m feeling way too good to contemplate a return to my previous unhealthy lifestyle.

My immediate goal, in the spirit of Tim Kaufman is to eat more plants and move a little more than I did yesterday!

Thanks for reading, please like, share and feel free to comment. I really appreciate your input.

The Plant-Based Food Market is Booming!

One estimate I have seen recently is that the plant-based food market is set to grow to $74.2 billion by 2027. That is big business by any standard! The report I read was from plantbasednews.org

The evidence suggests that more and more individuals are choosing a plant-based lifestyle. There appear to be a number of factors and key issues driving this growth, including better health, weight loss and concerns for animals and the planet. As demand for animal products has reduced, companies have sought to produce more and more plant-based meat substitutes, dairy alternatives and plant based eggs which have the capability to satisfy food need with high nutrition and environmental sustainability.

Supermarkets, cafes and restaurants have also responded to the increased demand for vegan plant-based food and have a much wider choice of meals.

But, does moving away from animal products mean we need to go the processed food route? There is obviously a market for the “meat substitute burgers, sausage etc.” But it is still processed food – with all that that entails such as additatives, preservatives, added sugar and salt etc. which are known to not do our bodies or health any favours. I’m not saying I never eat the processed stuff but I try to really minimise eating it. Wherever possible, I make all my meals from scratch using the minimum of processed foods. My body thanks me for it and I definitely know when I’ve strayed into eating more processed stuff. But if someone has made the decision not to eat meat, I can see how eating the substitute products is appealing and could aid transition to a wfpb diet. I don’t judge anyone for their choices.

Of course, if you do choose to use the processed foods you will be back to checking the ingredients on the back of the packaging. With whole-food plant-based meals using natural fruit vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains, what you see is what you get and the only things added in the cooking and preparing process is what you choose to put in!

Do you imagine I eat meat? I’m pure plant power! You can build strength and muscle through eating wfpb

This week, some family members asked for a Sunday dinner. Normally that would be meat with all the trimmings but I don’t buy meat anymore. A couple of sausages from the freezer, (I know – don’t judge!) satisfied the omnivores among us! I kept some of the mash potatoes aside for myself and ate them with broccoli, peas and sweet corn and some roast potatoes cooked in the air fryer. I sautéed some mushrooms (using water rather than oil) with garlic and added spinach. Turned out to be a delicious simple dinner and preferable to making two entirely different meals.

My new go-to breakfast

I have added oats to my breakfast and still include fruit, ground flax seed and a drizzle of maple syrup. It definitely keeps me fuller for longer.

If you have changed to eating none or less animal products, what has been your driving force? I would love to hear from you. Personally, I was driven by wanting to be healthier. Of course, I needed to lose weight and hoped that I would. I’m very happy to report that I have and with far less effort than any other diet I have ever done – and there have been many of them over the years!

Please, share, like, follow, comment and make suggestions. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog.

Whole-food plant-based and health benefits

I was prompted to talk about this subject following a conversation with a friend. I was telling her what I eat for breakfast and she said that would be no good for her because it would cause her blood sugar to spike – she is diabetic. That got me to thinking! I’m sure I’ve stated often that I’m not an expert and that I recommend you consult a doctor if you are looking to change your diet, particularly if you have underlying health issues. But I wanted to say also, that we are all different and what works for me won’t necessarily be the same for someone else. Changing your diet is a very personal thing and it’s very much about finding what works for you.

People choose to follow a vegan/plant-based lifestyle for different reasons, such as concern about animal welfare and the planet. However, another significant factor is that following this lifestyle can provide health benefits. A large part of a vegan diet – particularly fruit, vegetables, nuts, pulses and seeds has been shown to help in the treatment of chronic diseases, resulting in lower levels of Type 2 diabetes, less hypertension, lower cholesterol levels and reduced cancer rates. Some studies have shown that vegans are less likely to be overweight and tend to have a lower percentage of body fat, which as we are aware reduces the risk of many other diseases,

Butare vegan foods always healthy?

The simple answer to that is no! Ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat can still be added, making the food less healthy. With the increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in people with diabetes, keeping your weight under control and reducing blood pressure and blood cholesterol are all essential and plant-based foods can help with this.

General healthy eating advice

Choose whole grain, low-GI carbs over refined options, to eat less salt, saturated fat, sugar and to watch your weight. Whole wheat bread, pasta and rice is preferable to eating white bread, pasta and rice as it is far less processed. Aiming to eat whole foods (unprocessed) will deliver better results in terms of health benefits and weight loss.

Are vegan diets suitable for people with diabetes?

Vegan diets tend to be lower in saturated fat, higher in fibre, fruit and vegetables and other protective substances like phytochemicals and antioxidants. Current dietary guidance states this fits well for those who have diabetes. Always consult your diabetes team if you are looking to change your diet. If they know anything about a plant-based diet they would surely support this change in lifestyle.

Also, please check things out for yourself, do your own research, there are many studies out there. Diabetes UK has all the information you need in terms of getting enough protein, vitamins, nutrients, calcium, iron and omega-3 etc. in your diet.

So here’s what I typically eat in a day. If you have read my earlier blog posts you will know that for the last 11 months I have eaten the same breakfast almost every day. However, I’ve known for a while that including oatmeal would keep me fuller for longer. So, this morning I chose to include oatmeal – I still added some fruits, chopped nuts, flax seed and maple syrup – I think I’ve found a new favourite!

I changed up my breakfast – believe it or not, there is oatmeal under the fruit

For lunch I had chickpea curry, I make this often and usually include spinach but didn’t have any. I always add lentils and on this occasion added frozen peas and green beans.

Chickpea curry with wild rice and quinoa for lunch

Ingredients for Chickpea curry – made in the Instant Pot

Ingredients:

  • Water for sautéing purposes
  • 1/2 cup yellow onions – diced
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt (if using)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger – grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh garlic – minced
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 can tinned diced tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can chickpeas – drained
  • 1 can lentils – drained
  • 8 oz fresh baby spinach

Directions

  1. On sauté, add water, onions and 1/4 tsp salt (if using). Cook for 3 minutes, until soft and translucent.
  2. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes
  3. Add ginger and cook for 2 minutes
  4. Add curry powder and toast for 1 minute
  5. Stir in the tomatoes and use the liquid to deglaze the bottom of the pan
  6. Add the chickpeas, lentils, coconut milk and remaining salt (if using)
  7. Lock the Instant Pot lid and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes
  8. When the cooking time is complete, quick release the pressure and add spinach leaves – mix well until fully wilted
  9. I used frozen peas and green beans and added along with the coconut milk etc.
  10. Serve with rice, couscous or quinoa

For my evening meal I chose to prepare a Buddha bowl. Mine consisted of salad leaves including baby spinach. Left over wild rice and quinoa from lunch. Cucumber and red pepper. Roast potatoes with garlic and roasted butternut squash with a sprinkling of cumin. I also added a few strawberries and blueberries and finished it off with some cashew cream – delicious!

My version of a Buddha bowl for my evening meal

This meal was made up from everything that needed eating today, to make sure I didn’t waste any food that had either been prepared earlier in the week or was about to go out of date. All the cooked ingredients were cooked in the instant pot and/or the air fryer – great time saving appliances.

Did you know? The humble cucumber contains most of the vitamins you need every day. Just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Pottassium and Zinc. It’s an absolute power house!

Please follow, like, share, comment and feel free to make suggestions for what you would like to see in future posts. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog

Cooking on Gas! Spaghetti with Cauliflower Walnut Meat Sauce

Recipe – convegblog.com (with a couple of tweaks)

Recently I realised that I’m cooking the same few meals over and over again and looked around for something new to try. Came across this recipe and thought it might be another one the boys would enjoy. This was my first attempt at cooking a plant based version of a family favourite – Spaghetti Bolognese – ably assisted by my sister as I was staying over at hers for the weekend. Hence the title – Cooking on Gas! I have an electric cooker at home but gas is so much more responsive when turning down to simmer for instance.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 medium crown)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I used water)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (I used a mix of Basil and Thyme instead)
    • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used red chilli flakes – it’s what we had)
  • 1 teaspoon organic granulated sugar (I used maple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces dried spaghetti

Instructions

  1. Begin by making the cauliflower walnut crumbles. Preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Place the cauliflower, walnuts, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, liquid smoke, onion powder and garlic powder into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, stopping to scrape down the insides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Distribute the mixture evenly on the baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through until browned around the edges
  4. While the crumbles bake, coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil (I used water) and place over a medium heat. When hot, add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté about 1 minute more until very fragrant.
  5. Stir in the wine and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and allow it to simmer, uncovered, until it thickens up a bit, about 5 minutes
  6. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes and sugar. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and allow it to simmer uncovered, until it thickens up, about 25minutes
  7. While the crumbles bake and the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. When cooked, drain and return to the pot. Toss with a dash of olive oil (I omitted this)
  8. When the sauce finishes simmering, stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cauliflower-walnut crumbles.
  9. Divide the pasta onto plates and top with sauce. Serve immediately.
This is the cauliflower-walnut mix. I made a larger quantity – 1 1/2 times the recipe so we’d have additional meals for the week
Sautéd onions using water – one of my top tips!

I personally choose not to use oil and so for the last 10 months have used either water or vegetable broth to sauté. I don’t miss the taste of oil and really its not needed.

Don’t need oil to brown the onions

Don’t add too much water at the beginning as the onions will steam rather than sauté. The secret to sautéing with water or vegetable broth is to add a little more water if the onion or other vegetables start to stick to the pan.

This was half way through baking the cauliflower-walnut mix, before attempting to flip it over

We didn’t have any parchment paper so we used greaseproof paper to line the baking tray. We almost came unstuck at this point – or rather the mix almost stuck to the paper! Sis came to the rescue and saved the day.

Turning attention to the sauce – the Red Wine deglazed the pan perfectly

Top tip – As is often the case, we were missing an ingredient – Coriander – so I googled what could be used instead. The search came up with using Thyme or Basil in its place. In my experience there is always an alternative so don’t let a missing ingredient put you off making the recipe. I also don’t use sugar so chose to use maple syrup instead.

The “faux” meat out of the oven and the sauce ready

All that remained was to combine the baked cauliflower-walnut mix with the sauce and serve over spaghetti. The resulting sauce wasn’t as tomato ‘coloured’ as I expected so I added a tablespoon of tomato paste and cooked for a little longer.

The final product – should have saved some fresh basil leaves for presentation purposes!

The verdict – if you are expecting this to taste anything like a meat Bolognese sauce, think again! After discussing with my sister, it was the texture that was missing and she suggested leaving the cauliflower in larger chunks. The beauty of following any recipe is that you can amend it to suit your own taste. We thought we could add mushrooms for instance and my sister also wondered about not mixing the cauliflower- walnut mix into the sauce. So pasta, sauce and the mix on top – to keep more of the texture. We’ll certainly try that next time. Also, think about adding the green leafy stuff, kale or spinach for instance, either in the sauce or as a side.

Nutrition Facts – as per the original recipe: amounts per serving

  • Calories – 481 – from Fat 170
  • Fat 18.9g
  • Sodium 787mg
  • Potassium 726mg
  • Carbohydrates 55.7g
  • Protein 20g
  • Calcium 90mg
  • Iron 5.6mg

If you make this recipe, let me know what you think, and if you tweak it to suit you, I would love to hear about that too.

Please Like, share and/or comment including ideas for future posts. My aim in writing this blog is to provide information, tips and advice to aid those thinking about or already following a plant-based diet. I’m no expert but I can pass on what I know and what I’ve learned since deciding to follow a wfpbno lifestyle.