Cooking, whole-food plant-based style!

Once again, I feel I’m relying on the same few recipes so am determined to add more to my repertoire. This one, Coconut, cauliflower, sweet potato curry https://www.acouplecooks.com/cauliflower-and-tomato-coconut-curry/ caught my eye and while I initially looked at the list of ingredients and felt it would be time consuming – it wasn’t. Was absolutely delighted with the result. Thank you ‘a couple cooks’.

A messy plate of food but delicious

Easy Way to Make Food Healthier

Did you know you can take almost any baking recipe and make it healthier by replacing eggs, oil or butter.

Unsweetened apple sauce is great in cakes, muffins or cookies – it replaces the egg you would normally use.

Nut butters, like sunflower, homemade almond or cashew butter are great for making cookies. Use nut butters that are all natural without added oil. Use an equal amount of nut butter to the butter or oil in the recipe. Make sure these foods are not served to anyone who has a nut allergy.

Silken Tofu – use in baked goods with strong flavours like chocolate. Use a third cup of silken tofu for every half cup of oil in a recipe. You can blend silken tofu to make a purée and use it as an oil substitute in cookies, cakes and muffins.

Aquafaba – the juice in a can of chickpeas. It has a neutral flavour and the consistency akin to vegetable oil. Use equal amount of aquafaba to oil specified in a recipe.

Mashed banana, pumpkin or sweet potato. Use in scones, muffins or bread. Use a third of a cup of any of these in place of a half cup of oil.

The diagram below shows what you can substitute eggs with when cooking.

I have tried the apple sauce and ground flax seed – been successful with both

Also, I never use oil in my cooking. If a recipe calls for sautéing with oil, I always use water. All oils have a high calorie density so why use it when you can ‘spend’ your calories on more healthier delicious foods? When sautéing with water, just use enough to prevent the food sticking to the pan.

You can see from this that consuming 500 calories of oil is not going to fill you. Whereas eating 500 calories of potatoes, beans, rice, fruit and veggies will fill you.

I hope this information is useful. If you use any of the methods of egg replacement for instance, let me know how you got on. Please like, share and comment. Your thoughts and ideas are most welcome.

TRENDING 2021 – Vegan and Plant-Based

Can you believe we are almost two thirds the way through 2021? I’m so late in discussing what’s trending in the vegan and plant-based world this year. It makes for very interesting reading. Most people by now must surely be aware of the increase in eating in a manner that doesn’t harm animals and has less of an impact on the planet. There’ll always be those people and organisations of course that will do their best to refute the others argument. As you will know, if you follow my blog, I turned to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle for health reasons. As a consequence, I have learned that our traditional way of eating not only causes harm to animals and our planet but to us as well. I was never a big meat eater but I did enjoy most dairy products. All I can say is through switching to the whole-food plant-based (wfpb) ‘lifestyle I have never felt better and I feel that I’m doing what I can not only for me, but my family and the environment, in my own small way.

Happy cows
Happy as a pig in mud!

So, to highlight just a few of the trends

  • Healthier and less processed plant-based meals are here. There are shorter ingredient labels and a move to less fat and fewer additives.
  • Cheaper plant based foods. One of my pet hates is that foods that are considered healthier come at a premium cost.
  • 2020 was the year of Covid but also the year that alternative proteins went mainstream (in part because of the pandemic).
  • The bio sector revolution is happening. Cell based meat matures. Get ready for totally animal free food in the form of cultured chicken etc.
  • There’s renewed focus on plant based cheese.
  • Better, more eco responsible packaging for Plant-Based products. Sustainability is a 360 degree affair. As well as eating less animal products, we need to stop using plastic, embrace reusable and, dare I say it, stop shopping so much! We have to move away from the throw away society we have become.
  • More supermarkets are embracing the change in our eating habits and have their own label vegan and plant-based ranges.
  • There’s a rise in veganic farming – an agricultural approach to growing food that is based on respect for animals as well as the environment and human health. Were you aware that organic agriculture permits the use of animal-based fertilisers (manure, bone meal, fish emulsion, egg shells?). Vegan farming uses plant-based options.
  • Another trend in 2021 – fish-free seafood! Watch this space!!

All of the above is adapted from an article produced by green queen.com.hk

There’s much more in the article than I have detailed here. I recommend anyone to read it whether you eat a traditional or alternative diet. I prefer to use lifestyle rather than diet because I’m 21 months into eating wfpb and can’t envisage me eating any other way. If ever I deviate from it, I get right back to it at the very next meal. No diet has ever had that impact on me before.

I in no way reproduce any of the information above stating it as fact. My aim is to promote discussion that is, excuse the pun – seriously interesting food for thought! There is no denying that alternative lifestyle choices are on the increase. There’s also no denying that the big corporations are on board with it, recognising that those wishing to eat less or no meat will seriously impact their profit margins if they don’t move with the times and provide choices for all their customers.

For my part, I seriously need to think about growing my own food. That in itself will be a challenge for someone who doesn’t possess a green thumb or have any successful previous success growing plants!

I will again stress that I am not 100% wfpb, but I do strive to be. I do use convenience foods from time to time and when I eat out, I aim to get as close to 100% as I can but don’t beat myself up when I fall short.

An example of vegan processed foods available at some Aldi stores – I could have used any supermarket as an example – I don’t receive anything by mentioning this particular one!

All vegetables, seeds, grains and fruits are plant-based, but here you have meatless burgers and sausages etc. Of course, many supermarkets have their own branded vegan and plant-based foods. I have tried a few and have been very pleased with most of them. However, I’m always conscious of the amount of ingredients and additives they contain. So it’s good to read that the big companies are planning to reduce these in their products. Can’t wait to see where this all leads!

Of course, Making your own food from whole foods gives you peace of mind from knowing exactly what goes in to the food you prepare. But, I appreciate not everyone has the time to make everything from scratch.

I hope this has been informative. It is never my intention to preach or force my opinion on any one else. Just sharing what changing to a healthier lifestyle has done for me.

Please like, share or comment. Knowing someone is reading my ramblings provides me with the encouragement to continue. Many thanks in advance.

It’s Been a While?

What a year so far! So much going on in my life that often I don’t know which way is up! Huge changes have yet again derailed me. So I have taken time out to look after me and take stock of where I’m going and what I need to do to ensure my well being.

Anyway, what is still going well, is my commitment to the wfpb ( whole-food, plant-based) lifestyle. Not perfect, but it remains the core of what I do to be as healthy as I possibly can. I must be doing something right, because I feel physically healthier and have maintained my weight for months. What’s more, I know exactly what I need to do to lose more weight, if I choose to. However, I am happy with my current weight and feel comfortable in my own skin. Haven’t felt like this for many years.

Be sure to fill up on the good stuff

I was recently wondering why some people seem to naturally maintain a healthy weight while others struggle. So I did a bit of research on the subject of metabolism.

What is Metabolism?

Metabolism covers the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy. Your metabolic rate is the speed the metabolic actions occur and is measured in calories. So, in simple terms, a fast metabolism converts food into energy quicker than a slow metabolism.

So many things can affect our metabolic rate: our size and body composition; how active we are; how much sleep we’re getting and if we have a history of dieting. Some of us are born with a higher metabolism than others. I think all of us know someone who can eat what they want (or so it would appear) and never put on weight. I always thought I had a low metabolic rate (my excuse for easily gaining weight). However, it turns out that it’s a misconception that larger people have low metabolic rates. The larger they are, they actually need a higher metabolism to fuel their larger body.

If, like me, you have been a yo-yo dieter – losing weight fast and putting it back on even faster – your body will have replaced muscle with fat which hinders the metabolic process as muscle burns more calories than fat. Your resting metabolic rate will be lower the less muscle you have.

Move that body

So, that’s a good reason to exercise and build muscle isn’t it? I wish I could catch the exercising bug! But, I look at it this way, even boring housework is moving the body and I deliberately make several trips up and down stairs while cleaning and tidying rather than one – that’s moving the body purposely, and every little helps

Just a short post today. Just a reminder that I am still around and a metaphorical kick up the backside to me to get back in to the habit of posting my blog. I was just thinking about why today? Where did the motivation come from to publish a post today? Well, it’s because I spent yesterday with wonderful friends, having a laugh while putting the world to rights. Laughter is great food for the soul and I came away feeling uplifted. These women and my family have my back. They don’t all share the wfpb lifestyle but they support me in my choices. For instance, a good friend bought a vegan coffee and walnut cake recently and as we live in the same village thought about inviting me down to share some with her. Until she read the ingredients and saw that it contained milk – she has my back and I really appreciate that!

Have a great day everyone and remember, we all can start somewhere and we can all choose to make little changes and build on them. Look after you.

Upping My Game!

The #fatmanrants 3 check 30 day challenge is turning out to be very good for me. Following it keeps my eating honest, and I’m always truthful about eating out – as regular readers know, I get as close as I can to wfpb but don’t beat myself up about it if it’s not strictly wfpb. After all, eating out means that I’m spending time with family and friends and that in itself is absolutely wonderful after many months of restrictions due to Covid.

Where I feel have improved beyond recognition is upping my activity level. From a standing start, an improvement wasn’t difficult! I’m taking every opportunity to get this body moving. Helped very much by buying a second hand exercise bike/cross trainer. Motivation is still an issue – I’m not perfect but any exercise is better than none and I am trying.

Also, because I stated my wild card was recommitting to publishing my blog regularly, the challenge is keeping me on task with that although I’m still struggling with low mood, which does get in the way! It’s the recording progress in all 3 areas that is keeping me on track and progressing in the right direction.

So, what have I been eating? – my chickpea curry of course! It still remains one of my favourites. I change it up regularly by adding different vegetables into the mix. Frozen veg comes in very handy here and using the instant pot means it’s a very quick simple meal to prepare. I change it up also with the various sides I eat it with i.e wild rice, couscous, baked potato, air fried fries or a huge green salad. I also make sure I add spinach in the curry, every time I make it.

An absolute favourite of mine – Chickpea Curry

Buddha bowls or power bowls (same thing) are easy to put together and can of course contain anything you have to hand. They never get boring because you can have different ingredients in every time if you so wish.

So good!

I’ve mentioned eating out! I have to say, unlike before the pandemic, vegan and plant based options have reduced on each menu I’ve seen, so I’ve had the 3 bean chilli burrito bowl a few times recently, at a local cafe.

Three Bean Chilli Burrito Bowl

I very often start each day with oats and fruit and most bowls start with chopped apple and banana and then I add whatever other fruit is to hand. Sometimes I add a few chopped nuts and always have a tablespoon of flax seed and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. Sets me up for the day.

Oats and fruit – have this most days for breakfast

Stir-fry is another favourite of mine. Nowadays I just throw together whatever veg I have available, fresh or frozen. I might serve it with rice, pasta or couscous or a baked potato. Great when you are getting to the end of the week and wanting to use up the last bits of fresh or frozen veg before restocking.

My throw together stir-fry, might not look that great but it was delicious

Despite the 30 day challenge that has kept me on task the majority of the time, I have had low mood for a few days – dealing with lots of ‘stuff’. Prior to wfpb that would have derailed me and I would have eaten everything in site, but now I’m more likely not to eat enough. All I ate yesterday was a baked potato with a beetroot salad while visiting family – being in the company of family for the evening was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed the food, but I know thats not enough for a whole day! There’s been a few days where I’ve had 2 meals during the day – not necessarily a bad thing as long as I’m getting the right food. Today I’m back on track and started with my usual breakfast. I’ve got a chickpea curry in the instant pot and trying to remain chilled.

I’ve got 3 days this week planned going out with family and friends – it will involve eating out so we’ll see how the last few days of this challenge go. However, rather than a challenge, the 3 elements of it have formed a habit so I’m sure I’ll continue logging my food intake, upping my activity level and continuing with my blog. You will of course hear about it in future blogs.

Thanks for reading, please, like, share and comment.

Challenging Myself

At the beginning of June I joined https://fatmanrants 3 checks June Challenge. This comprises of:

  • Recording everything I eat maintaining a whole-food plant-based diet
  • Moving purposely every day. As #fatmanrants states “all ya gotta do is move a little bit more than ya did yesterday”
  • The Wild Card – anything you choose to do that encourages you to be your best self. I chose to commit to publishing my blog on a more regular basis. Life happened and I lost my motivation over the last couple of months, it’s what happened and I took the time to get through it the best way I could. Now I’m ready to recommit to my blog which in itself ensures I remain accountable to myself and the wfpb lifestyle.

So, to give you a brief run down of how I’ve been doing during the first 9 days of the challenge. Recording everything I eat has resulted in me eating smaller portions and not snacking, even though what I snacked on before the challenge was wfpb compliant. It is possible to overeat on this diet and sometimes it’s not easy to steer clear of the more calorific whole foods, for instance, nuts and avocado. It seems that writing down what I eat is a way of ensuring I set limits as well as remaining as far as possible wfpb compliant. I have been out with friends and family for meals twice in the last 8 days, so this is where “remaining as far as possible compliant” comes in. Unless you make all your own meals from scratch, you won’t know exactly what is in your meal or how it’s been cooked. I wish there was a plant based restaurant or cafe nearby, but there isn’t. However, There are vegan options on most menus so I don’t let the fact that meals aren’t going to be strictly wfpb compliant stop me from enjoying meals out with family and friends. Yesterday was an amazing day out with 2 best friends. We laughed until we cried, so much fun and so good for the soul. My spirits were well and truly lifted.

Mangalorean Roasted Cauliflower and Spinach Curry – so delicious
Lunch at our local supermarket cafe – 3 Bean Chilli Burrito Bowl

In terms of moving more with purpose (not difficult, I pretty much began from a standing start!). At the beginning of the week, movement consisted simply of shopping and house work – boring I know, but one way of ensuring the house is clean and tidy! I have endeavoured to walk more, even if that’s just going up and down stairs by purposely making far more trips than I would normally do. I also spent a lovely few hours at a local country park and walked around the lake – that’s far more walking than I’ve done in a while. Since losing weight I’m not happy with my saggy arms so I’ve started using dumb bells to try and put some muscle under my layer of saggy skin. Maybe soon I’ll feel able to wear short sleeves or dare I dream of going sleeveless? I am now including squats, press ups, sit ups and lunges. Believe me it’s all been a shock to the system but I’m persevering. I would recommend to anyone that a change of diet for weight loss purposes should include regular exercise from the get go, especially because as we get older, our skin loses some of its elasticity. I have yo-yo dieted for as long as I can remember prior to wfpb and any exercise was sporadic at best. My body is now paying the price!

Below are a few photos I took while walking round Poolsbrook Country Park in Derbyshire, England. It’s so good to be out in the fresh air enjoying beautiful scenery and enjoying great company, chatting with my brother who I haven’t spent a great deal of time with since he moved overseas 22 years ago. I may not have been walking at a great pace but at least I was moving my body.

Views from my walk round the local lake
A swan came to say hello…
Sat chilling, looking out over the lake – so peaceful. I love being around water, it’s so calming
A view from the other side of the lake

The last check of the 3 Check Challenge is the Wild Card, something that produces the ‘best version of yourself’. In my case, as well as living the wfpb lifestyle for health purposes I also need something to keep my mind active so I am committing to my blog, because I am passionate about the whole-food, plant-based lifestyle and hopefully through this I can inspire others to benefit from concentrating on their own health through recognising the part our food choices play in it. I said I would commit to publishing my blog posts more regularly and this is the second post produced within 10 days so I feel It’s a promising start.

Thank you for visiting my site and reading this post. Your support is much appreciated.

I’m Back…

Hello everyone, just doing a really quick post today as I haven’t been on here for a while. Been a really difficult and emotional three months which has really sapped my motivation in all things except, I am happy to report, eating a whole food, plant based diet. I am not going to say I’ve stuck to it anywhere close to 100% every day but I have tried my best.

Today is June 1st and I have decided to join the fatmanrants June Triple Check Challenge – in an effort to keep me accountable to this lifestyle. So each day I will write down what I eat, write down everything I have done to move my body because as Tim and Heather Kaufman of fatmanrants say “all ya gotta do is move a little more than ya did yesterday”. The third check for me is to rededicate myself to publishing regularly on this blog.

You can find Tim and Heather Kaufman’s story at http://fatmanrants.com

Currently contemplating …

I am excited and determined to complete the 30 day challenge. I’ll keep you updated on my progress through this blog. I’ve already achieved something new today – inserting a URL link! Don’t know why I’ve struggled with it for so long as it’s so simple. Feeling good!

Please like, share, comment and/or follow. Your support is much appreciated.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

This week I have been determined to not rest on my laurels, meaning, not depending on my favourite recipes so much. I realise I’m eating pretty much the same few meals each week. Don’t get me wrong, I do vary them with different sides but still my repertoire has become quite limited. I have, as you know, bought the ‘5 ingredient recipe’ book and will continue to work through that. I also get recipes that pop up on my Facebook feed and with the intention of finding a “new favourite” recipe, will share with you later on in this blog what I found. But first, continuing to work through the alphabet, delving deep into the nutritional and health benefits of a particular fruit or veg – I have reached O and will focus on Okra.

Okra

Okra is a nutritious food with many health benefits. It’s rich in magnesium, folate, fibre, antioxidants and vitamin C, K1 and A. Okra may benefit pregnant women, heart health and blood sugar control. It may even have anti cancer properties.

What is Okra

Okra is also known as ‘ladies fingers,’ and is a green flowering plant. It belongs to the same plant family as hibiscus and cotton. The term ‘okra’ most commonly refers to the edible seed pods of the plant. It is low in calories and has a high dietary fibre content

Nutritional value of okra per 100 grams:

  • Calories – 33
  • Total Fat – 0.2 g – 0% Daily Value (DV)
  • Cholesterol – 0 mg – 0% DV
  • Sodium – 7 mg – 0% DV
  • Potassium – 299 mg – 8% DV
  • Carbohydrate – 7 g – 2% DV of which fibre is 3.2 g
  • Protein – 1.9 g – 3% DV
  • Vitamin A 14%
  • Vitamin C 38%
  • Calcium 8%
  • Iron 3%
  • Vitamin B-6 10%
  • Magnesium 14%
Okra

Taken from http://www.healthline.com

  • It has been suggested that okra can help manage blood sugar in cases of type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. However if you are already on a treatment plan for your diabetes, you should let your doctor know if you’re looking into holistic treatments like okra. If you are taking metformin currently, okra is not something you should be experimenting with.
  • Okra is high in fibre. 8 medium-sized pods are estimated to contain 3 grams of fibre. This bulk fibre quality has several benefits. It helps digestion, cuts hunger cravings and keeps those who eat it fuller for longer.
  • There is evidence that the seed extracts of okra have an antioxidant, anti-stress effect.
  • Okra may help lower cholesterol.
  • Anti-fatigue benefit. One study notices that recovery times and “fatigue levels” can be improved by the use of the okra plant. Potentially, by including okra in your diet, you may be able to work out for longer and recover more quickly from your exercise. Cardiovascular activity is an essential part of preventing and treating diabetes. This means that the okra plant may contribute to a more active lifestyle.

As usual, I reproduce the above information as a guide only, and the benefits of fruit and vegetables detailed is reliant on eating an overall healthy diet. Of course I would recommend eating a whole-food, plant-based diet because of the results I’ve seen in myself. Always seek the advice of a doctor if you are making significant changes to your diet.

Recently, my sister who is experiencing some health concerns had a chat with her doctor who suggested she follow a plant-based diet – YES! Good to know there are doctors who recognise the validity of adopting this life style. Her advice was to eat a wide variety of colourful fruit and vegetables.

Expanding my horizons – the search for new recipes:

In my Facebook news feed this popped up – the amazingly tasty Vegan Goulash – taken from zardyplants.com. Normally I would click and save to my plant-based folder and then forget about it. But, I was determined to try something new.

Absolutely delicious and if you cook without oil as I do, this recipe is completely plant based. I added 4 sun dried tomatoes and used whole wheat pasta. Please give it a go as it is so tasty and I highly recommend it!

It’s not a 5 ingredient recipe like the Moroccan Chickpea Soup I showcased last week – but still very easy and quick to make. See the recipe below:

Vegan Goulash Recipe:

  • 1 pound pasta of choice (use gluten-free if needed)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (use half if not using TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)
  • 2 cups TVP (I didn’t use this)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1 – 14.5 oz can (or 1.5 cups) diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 14.5 oz can tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, optional

Vegan Goulash instructions:

  • Saute: add onions to a preheated large pot over medium high heat. Sauté for 3 minutes, adding water a tbsp at a time, only when needed (when it starts to stick to the plan).
  • Add the garlic after the onion becomes translucent and sauté another minute.
  • Add the diced red bell pepper and sauté for one more minute.
  • Boil: Add the tomatoes, purée, paste, spices and broth and stir. Bring it to a boil (you may cover with a lid to speed up the process).
  • Cook the pasta: Add the pasta in and stir well. Turn the heat down to medium and allow to cook for 5 – 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t stick.
  • Add the TVP if using: Stir right into the mixture, no need to rehydrate it first. Add in the tamari/soy sauce now too. Stir constantly for a minute or two to make sure everything is well mixed.
  • Serve: with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and a little fresh or dried parsley – Enjoy!
Unbelievably delicious – served with a sprinkle of dried parsley

Well, that’s it for this post. I hope you find it’s content useful. Please like, comment and share wide and far. Your support is much appreciated.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Still getting to grips with all the recent changes. Still loving the house we have moved into although the smaller kitchen remains a challenge, but getting there. Still have bits of furniture to get and need to ‘dress’ the house with pictures and ornaments etc. I do prefer a simple uncluttered space though.

As usual I am starting this blog as I have for a while, continuing working through the alphabet delving deeper into the nutritional and health benefits of fruit and veg – we have reached N:

Nectarine – nutritional information for 1 medium fruit (information taken from very well fit.com:

  • Calories – 62
  • Fat – 0.5g
  • Carbohydrates – 15g
  • Fibre – 2.4g
  • Sugars – 11g
  • Protein – 1.5G
  • Vitamin A – 9.4% RDI (reference daily intake)
  • Vitamin C – 13% RDI
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 6% RDI
  • Copper – 4% RDI
  • Potassium – 4% RDI

Health Benefits:

  • May lower risk of Obesity, Diabetes and Heart Disease – the antioxidants in nectarines are believed to offer health benefits by preventing or reducing the risk of these conditions (which are often associated with each other).
  • May slow growth of cancer cells – research has found that the polyphenols in nectarines reduced the proliferation of Estero genes- independent breast cancer cells in test tubes by 50%, leading to the suggestion they may offer a protective benefit against certain breast cancers.
  • May lower Cholesterol – the antioxidant compounds in nectarines not only help lower vascular inflammation, improving circulation and blood pressure, but can also prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the type associated with atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.
  • Please note, these are potential benefits, there have been few human studies investigating the dietary impact of nectarines on any of these conditions.
Refreshing Nectarines

As in all my blog posts, the information relating to the in-depth look at a particular fruit or veg is for guidance only. I am no doctor or trained nutritionist although I know more about nutrition since adopting a wfpb lifestyle. I would always advocate individuals do their own research and seek guidance from professionals. What I can tell you, is following a wfpb lifestyle is the best thing I have ever done.

In a chat with My sister this week, she reminded me that sometimes we don’t have time to make complicated meals and she recalled I’d previously mentioned 5 ingredient recipes. I remembered that I had indeed downloaded a small pamphlet on this subject, but could I find it – no! So, clicked on Amazon (no, I don’t benefit in any way from mentioning Amazon), but Amazon and Google are my go to tools for information and sourcing obscure products – like the Ras El Hanout – couldn’t find it in my local supermarket so I ordered it and it was delivered from Amazon the next day. Likewise, the book – “5 ingredient Plant-Based Cookbook by HAPPYHEALTHYGREEN.LIFE – (fits in with my ‘keeping it simple’ strategy) was ordered and delivered the next day. The first recipe that caught my eye was Moroccan Chickpea Soup which I made immediately – see below:

Ingredients:

  • 600g/3 cups chickpeas, cooked or canned
  • 1 medium onion (minced)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 360g/2 cups tomato cubes (I used a can of chopped tomatoes including the juice)
  • 20g/2 tablespoons Ras El Hanout
  • 480 ml/2 cups water

That’s six ingredients including the water, but who’s counting?

This recipe includes Ras El Hanout – had to Google this! Its a spice blend consisting of Allspice, Sweet Paprika, Black Pepper, Dehydrated Garlic, Coriander, Hot Chilli Pepper, Cumin, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Cloves and salt – a great combination of flavours and much easier dispensing from one pot rather than all the individual spices.

In a large pot on a medium-high heat, add the water, onion and garlic. When boiled turn the heat down to medium
Add the chickpeas and the Ras El Hanout spices and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes
After 5 minutes, turn the heat down to a simmer
Add the tomato cubes (I added a tin of chopped tomatoes including the juice), cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes
The finished dish garnished with a slice of lemon and chopped coriander – simple, easy to make and tastes delicious

The Moroccan Chickpea Soup recipe shown above serves 4 and contains the following per serving:

  • Calories – 260
  • Carbs – 44.2g
  • Fat – 2.4g
  • Protein – 15.3g
  • Fibre – 16.7g
  • Sugar – 6.5G

If you follow or have read my blog before, you will know I follow ‘fatmanrants’ on Facebook and this week they were talking about calorie density. I’ve been guilty in the past of saying as long as you eat wfpb you can eat as much as you want. Not strictly true, because some wfpb food is more calorific than others. So, if you are looking to lose weight you do need to take calorie density into account. For instance, greens topped with a cup of cooked lentils is 200 calories but 10 cooked potatoes would be 1000 calories – both options are plant based but with the first you will be in calorie deficit and in a good position to lose weight. Moving your body through exercise of course, will counteract some of the calories and is beneficial to your health whether you want to lose weight or not. In terms of calorie density, I have chopped nuts on my breakfast every morning but only a small amount because I know nuts are high in calories.

If I feel I’ve overdone the calories one day I’ll cut back the next day. With wfpb, I feel I have the ability to monitor my calorie intake and make adjustments naturally and easily. Unlike previous diets when I would just compound a “bad diet day” with another and another undoing all the work I had done to lose weight.

I hope the information I provide in my blog is useful and also inspires others to look at how they can eat healthy food that supports good health.

Please continue to support my blog through reading, sharing, following and commenting on the content. Your support is very much appreciated.

Life got in the way – big time!

Going through a really difficult time at the moment and I can’t disclose fully why because it would not be fair to others involved. Suffice to say that my mental health is taking a battering and it’s not helped by the pandemic which means I can’t meet up with friends who would normally be my respite from every day life’s trials and tribulations. I hasten to say my life’s trials and tribulations are no small thing – I’m generally quite resilient but my resilience has been severely diminished of late. Hence, not having posted anything to my blog for a while. My wfpb diet has taken a hit in terms of more over dependence on processed foods than normal. Now I know there is a link between our mental health and what we put in our body. So this may very well have impacted the way I feel. So here’s back to achieving 100% compliance as soon as possible.

Continuing a look in greater depth at the nutrition and health benefits of fruit and vegetables – we ate at L in the alphabet rundown:

Leek – information taken from https://www.healthline.com

Leeks are a good source of vitamins A, C and K (important for helping your blood to clot). They also contain minerals such as iron (which is important for red blood cells) and manganese (involved in the regulation of brain and nerve function). They are also a good source of dietary fibre

100g of leeks supplies 125 kJ.

Leeks belong to the same family as onions, shallots, scallions, chives and garlic. They look like a giant green onion but have a much milder, somewhat sweet flavour and a creamier texture when cooked.

Health Benefits of Leeks:

  • Contain a variety of nutrients – they are nutrient-dense, meaning that they’re low in calories yet high in vitamins and minerals. One 3.5-ounce serving (100-gram) serving of cooked leeks has only 31 calories
  • They are high in provitamin A carotenoids, including beta carotene. Your body converts these into vitamin A, which is important for vision, immune function, reproduction and cell communication.
  • They are also a great source of of vitamin K1, which is necessary for blood clotting and heart health.
  • A good source of manganese, which may help reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms and promote thyroid health. They also provide small amounts of copper, vitamin B6, iron and folate.
  • Leeks are packed with beneficial plant compounds such as antioxidants, particularly polyphenols and sulfur compounds. Antioxidants fight oxidation, which damages your cells and contributes to illnesses like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
  • They are also a great source of allicin, the same beneficial sulfur compound that gives garlic its anti microbial, cholesterol-lowering and potential anticancer properties.
  • Leeks may reduce inflammation and promote heart health. The kaempferol in leeks has anti-inflammatory properties and are associated with a lower risk of heart attacks or death due to heart disease.
  • The allicin and other thiosulfinates in leeks may benefit heart health by reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and the formation of blood clots.
  • Consuming leeks may aid weight loss as the fibre and water in leeks can promote fullness and prevent hunger, which may aid weight loss. Furthermore, this vegetable is very low in calories.
Leeks

I should have food shopped today but I obviously found other stuff more pressing to do as when it came to preparing meals I had to be more creative than usual. So it was a case of using vegetables from the fridge that needed using up quickly supplemented by frozen veg. So my evening meal became a pot luck stir fry using my go to stir fry sauce – soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic powder, onion powder and cornstarch.

I used a whole head of broccoli from the fridge, an onion, minced garlic, frozen mixed peppers, the remainder of a bag of mixed veg, and half a bag of frozen mixed beans as well as mushrooms and spinach. I also added a bag of microwaveable mixed grain rice. I wasn’t disappointed with the result. I find I create some kind of stir fry using up remnants of vegetables at least once a week. I try to make sure there is very little waste so regularly keep a close eye on utilising fresh produce, adjusting planned meals accordingly. I had to downsize appliances when I moved house so I no longer have my small chest freezer. It means I don’t have the capacity to freeze as many meals as I used to. It’s taking time to adjust to having less space so it’s still a work in progress.

Apologies for the blurred photo – believe it or not this was the best of a series of photos of my pot luck stir fry!

As for the new house, after 2 revised delivery dates the sofa arrived last Wednesday so I didn’t have to resort to buying bean bags! So pleased with it and so glad it eventually arrived. I’d taken a risk in buying it from a Facebook page but had investigated the company to determine it was genuine and read all the reviews and also it was cash on delivery. So if it hadn’t arrived it would have meant a further delay in sourcing another one but it was no risk financially. So good not to be confined to my bedroom any longer.

I’ve had my first dose of the Covid 19 vaccination and suffered no side affects fortunately as I’m aware some people have. My second dose is due at the end of April. I recall a sense of relief following the jab (by the way, the vaccination process was so well managed – operated like a well oiled machine). The relief came from knowing that I was doing what I could do to mitigate the risk of this virus and it is heartening to know that millions have also had the first dose of the vaccine in this country. I, like so many others not only want to return to some greater level of normalcy but need to for my own sanity, sooner rather than later.

I’m going to leave this post as it is otherwise I fear it won’t get posted for a while longer and it’s already 3 weeks since I last published. I still have a few challenges to work through but I will get there.

I appreciate every one of you that takes the time to stop by and read and follow my blog. Please like, share and/or comment. For my part, I will knuckle down and focus on producing more content. Keep safe.

Moving In – Moving On!

There is so much to do with this moving home lark! Not helped by the fact that the kitchen appliances seem to have taken exception to being moved. Sorted out the cooker and washer, or rather my son did. My slow cooker is no more, following an accident when it was left on the cooker – a result of moving from a large kitchen into a small kitchen where space is very limited – need I say more? Engineer due tomorrow to fix the dryer – hopefully. It’s at times like this we get a very small taste of what life was like before all our modern conveniences. I’m at the age where I can still remember washing clothes by hand and either ringing them out by hand or do using a manual wringer to take excess water out before hanging them on a clothes line or clothes dryer in front of the open fire. How far we have come in such a relatively short time. Luckily I have moved close to my mum and I’ve been able to use her dryer on occasion. I currently have a load of towels drying on various radiators after someone (who won’t be named) let the bath overflow, flooding the bathroom, (it’s downstairs in this house) hall carpet and part of the dining room carpet – life’s trials eh!

The house is taking shape. I still have doors needing to be planed and rehung after carpets were fitted. Curtain poles still need putting up in some rooms but I can’t find the tools at the moment – who knows where they are? I still don’t have sofas for the lounge. I’m absolutely sick and tired of looking for them. If I find one I like it’s generally not in stock or has a 3 month wait time for delivery! Thought I’d cracked it and found a corner sofa I liked – should have been delivered this Saturday but that now is not in stock – so back to the drawing board. At this rate we’ll be sitting on bean bags!!

Not done much cooking while I’ve been here. I’ve made one batch of chickpea curry but generally existing on fruit and buddha bowls. Luckily buddha bowls can be varied to avoid getting fed up eating the same thing.

One example of a buddha bowl I’ve been eating while settling into the new house

Continuing with the alphabet theme – we are at K in the alphabet of fruit and vegetables – delving deeper into the nutritional and health benefits of plant based food:

Kale

Nutritional values and health benefits of Kale – from http://www.healthline.comof all the healthy greens, kale is king. It is amongst the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. It is a cruciferous vegetable like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and Brussels sprouts. A single cup of raw kale (67g) contains:

  • Vitamin A: 206% of the DV (from beta-carotene)
  • Vitamin K: 684% of the DV (daily value)
  • Vitamin C: 134% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 9% of the DV
  • Manganese: 26% of the DV
  • Calcium: 9% of the DV
  • Copper: 10% of the DV
  • Potassium: 9% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 6% of the DV
  • It also contains 3% or more of the DV for Vitamin B1 (thiamin),Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), iron and phosphorus
  • 33 calories – given it’s incredibly low calorie content, kale is amongst the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. Eating more kale is a great way to dramatically increase the total nutrient content of your diet
  • 6 grams carbs
  • 3 grams protein)

Health benefits of adding Kale to your diet:

  • Kale is loaded with antioxidants that help counteract oxidative damage by free radicals in the body. Oxidative damage is believed to be one of the main drivers of aging and many diseases, including cancer
  • Antioxidants in kale have powerful heart-protective, blood pressure-lowering, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-depressant and anti-cancer effects, to name a few
  • It is an excellent source of Vitamin C. This is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, the most abundant structural protein in the body.Kale is much higher in Vitamin C than most other vegetables, containing about 4.5 times as much as spinach. A cup of raw kale contains even more vitamin C than a whole orange
  • Kale can help lower cholesterol, which may reduce the risk of heart disease. Cholesterol has many important functions in the body. For instance it is used to make bile acids, which are then released into the digestive system whenever you eat a fatty meal. When all the fat has been absorbed and the bile acids have served their purpose, they are reabsorbed into the bloodstream and used again. Kale actually contains bile acid sequestrants, which can lower cholesterol levels. This might lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over time.
  • According to one study, steaming kale dramatically increases the bile acid binding effect. Steamed kale is actually 43% as potent as cholestryamine, a cholesterol lowering drug that functions in a similar way.
  • Kale is one of the worlds best sources of Vitamin K which is absolutely critical for blood clotting, and does this by “activating” certain proteins and giving them the ability to bind calcium. The well-known anticoagulant drug Warfarin actually works by blocking the function of this vitamin.
  • There are numerous cancer-fighting substances in Kale as it is loaded with compounds that are believed to have protective effects against cancer. One of these, sulforaphane is a substance that has been shown to fight the formation of cancer at the molecular level.
  • Kale is high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body can turn into vitamin A.
  • Kale is a good source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium , some of which, many people are deficient in.
  • Kale is high in Lutein and Zeaxanthin, powerful nutrients that can protect the eyes. Many studies have shown that people who eat enough lutein and zeaxanthin have a much lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two very common eye disorders.
  • Kale should be able to help you lose weight as it is very low in calories but still provides significant bulk that should help you feel full. It also contains small amounts of protein and fibre, two important nutrients when it comes to losing weight.

I tend to add kale to buddha bowls, soups, stir fry, curry and anything else I can thing to add it to. I’m very conscious of eating sufficient greens, either kale, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts so will add them to most meals.

I cut out the stalk and roughly chop kale before adding it to meals

Earlier this week I received a tip from a very good friend on how to use over ripe bananas. Cook some apples, plums, pears or anything you like to put in the bottom of a crumble. Mash your bananas and slowly add oats until it forms a crumb texture. Sprinkle this over your fruit and bake as you would your usual crumble. If you want extra crunch add chopped nuts or dried fruit. My bananas don’t ever get to the stage of becoming over ripe but if and when they do I will be making this – sounds delicious and I’m sure it will be quick and easy to make.

Wednesday night and just made another chickpea curry. Now usually I get all the ingredients out before I start cooking, but tonight I didn’t for some reason and when it came to adding the curry powder I discovered I had very little left! I had the onion, garlic and ginger sautéing in the Instapot and so was committed to cooking something. Added the little bit of curry powder I had and after some deliberation, thought what the hell and added some cumin. I expected the finished product to be underwhelming but I was surprised with the result. Tastes damn good! Getting more and more used to improvising. I learned early when starting out on wfpb to taste as I was cooking. In the beginning everything tasted bland – I realise now that I was adjusting to not including oil and salt to my food. Experimenting with herbs and spices aided in the transition to wfpb. Now I taste and appreciate the unadulterated true flavours of food.

So, February 2021 already – what does the rest of the year have in store for us? Tomorrow I have my first Covid vaccination. I sincerely hope that this vaccine is the key to getting back to something near normal. I, like so many others I’m sure, am desperate to meet up with extended family and friends. Wishing you all well.

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