What exactly is a Plant-Based Diet?

I’m asked this question a lot

The possibilities are endless, the benefits are life changing

A Whole-food, Plant-Based diet is a heart healthy, environmentallyfriendly, type-2-diabetes-fighting lifestyle eating plan that celebrates food and nourishes your body. On a plant-based diet, you’ll focus on whole non-processed foods and plants like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts.

Sometimes this diet is confused with a vegan diet. But the two are not the same. Vegans don’t eat any meat, dairy, eggs or honey because it originates from a conscious being. Sounds healthy doesn’t it, but vegans can eat foods such as Oreos and french fries all day if they choose to, because they do not come from, or use any animal product. I’m not saying all vegans would eat this way! Just that they can.

A plant-based diet is similar to vegan because both avoid animal products, but a plant-based diet takes it a step further. Plant-based focuses on whole-foods, so nothing processed, no fast-foods, even those considered vegan.

What can you eat if you choose the Whole-Foods, Plant-Based lifestyle? The list below is not exhaustive!

  • Fruits: berries, citrus fruits, pears, peaches, pineapple, bananas etc.
  • Vegetables: Kale, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, peppers etc.
  • Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash etc.
  • Whole grains: brown rice, rolled oats, farro, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, barley etc.
  • Legumes: peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, black beans etc.
  • Seeds, nuts and nut butters: almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, natural peanut butter, tahini etc.
  • Unsweetened plant-based milks: coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, oat milk etc.
  • Spices, herbs and seasonings: basil, rosemary, turmeric, garlic, onion powder, curry powder, black pepper, sea salt etc.
Spice up your life
  • Condiments: Salsa, mustard, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, etc.
  • Plant-based protein: tofu, tempeh, plant-based protein sources or powders with no added sugar or artificial ingredients
  • Beverages: coffee, tea, water
  • Tofu and tempeh

Foods to Avoid on This Diet – the list below is not exhaustive!

  • Fast food: french fries, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, etc.
  • Added sugars and sweets: table sugar, soda, juice, pastries, cookies, candy, sweet tea, sugary cereals etc.
  • Refined grains: white rice, white pasta, white bread, bagels, etc.
  • Packaged and convenience foods: chips, crackers, cereal bars, frozen dinners etc.
  • Processed vegan-friendly foods: plant-based foods like faux meat, faux cheeses, vegan butters etc.
  • Artificial sweeteners: Equal, Splenda, Sweet’n’ Low etc.
  • Processed animal products: bacon, lunch meats, sausage, beef jerky etc.
  • All meat, dairy and poultry

I have previously stated in this blog that I did not ‘transition’ to a wfpbno eating lifestyle. That doesn’t mean everyone will do it the same way and I will not judge anyone who chooses to transition rather than jump right in. I know there are those who struggle to let go of cheese for instance, or choose to eat wfpb a few days a week, or for a few meals a week. Whatever you choose to do is right for you. I would suggest, however, that you do your research. For instance, there is so much information available on the internet. Join some Facebook groups such as: Forks Over Knives Official Plant-Based Group, WFPB Family Healthy Food and Daily Inspirations, WFPB No Oil – Trust the Process, WFPB Beginners!, Mostly Plant Based UK, and Plant-Based on a Budget Support Group. Joining these or others will provide you with tips, recipes, meal plans and inspiration.

I will continue to passionately advocate for this lifestyle as I know how amazing I feel eating this way. I will be perfectly honest here, I can’t say I’m 100% wfpb. I’ve already said when I eat out I’m not always 100%. But let me tell you, if you do follow the wfpbno eating lifestyle, your body will let you know in no uncertain terms when you have strayed from the wfpb path – I’m speaking from experience! Your body will have detoxed from all the processed foods you may have been used to eating and your gut will not tolerate it. Whenever this has happened to me it has served as a huge reminder as to why I have chosen this eating lifestyle – for my health! The significant weight loss is a very welcome bonus.

Eating for health

The first recipe book I bought was The Plant Based Diet For Beginners: 75 Delicious Whole Food Recipes – by Gabriel Miller. 10 months in and I still use this recipe book and some of his recipes have become my go to meals to cook.

Health Benefits

  • Plant-based diets are recommended for people with Diabetes
  • Plant-based diets reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol and promoting weight loss
  • Research shows a plant-based diet may help with slowing the progression of some cancers due to the antioxidant content of plant foods such as fruit and vegetables
  • With no calories or macros to count or portions to measure, many find plant-based diets easier to manage than other weight loss programmes
  • Inflammation is significantly reduced on a plant-based diet, more so I believe if you eliminate oil from your diet
  • Check out the internet, Facebook groups etc. Regarding the research and testimonials about the benefits of adopting this lifestyle.

On a personal note, a few days ago, my 17yr old grandson was struggling to open his water bottle and asked me to try. It took a couple of attempts but I did it. 10 months ago I wouldn’t have been able to do that, I had no strength in my hands and the pain in some fingers was excruciating….. no more. Of course, the grandson would say his attempts had loosened it before I opened it….I don’t think so!

Healing through eating plant-based

In my last blog I talked about the appliances I use to help me save time in the kitchen. Just wanted to let you know I made brown rice in my Instant Pot. Simply put the rice and water in and the Instant Pot does the rest. However, I did change it up a bit and instead of using water, I used low sodium vegetable broth – absolutely delicious! And of course while it was cooking, I was free to get on with other stuff.

Please like, share , follow and/or comment on this post. Let me know if you found it useful and please ask questions and make suggestions for future posts

Appliances – Saving Time!

I didn’t have many kitchen appliances before I started eating whole-food plant-based, just the usual, oven and microwave, oh and a slow cooker gathering dust in a forgotten corner! What more does a person need when living off processed food and whatever was easiest to heat up or throw together with the aid of the microwave.

My first purchase when I was faced with actually having to prepare meals from scratch!!!! was a Ninja food processor including blender. Next came an air fryer and then an Instant Pot. All of these now get a great deal of use because eating wfpb takes some planning and can take a lot of preparation. The good news is you can save time when preparing delicious healthy meals by investing in some appliances. Believe me, they will not be relegated to sitting in a corner gathering the afore mentioned dust!

Ninja Food Processor

My Ninja Warrior

I think the first thing I made in my Ninja Food Processor was Cashew Cream. This is quite calorific so I try not to have it too often. I love it on whole wheat toast – this from someone who had to have toast with lashings of butter – and ate it despite it causing acid reflux! I have a dollop of cashew cream on top of Buddha bowls and also add it to some pasta and curry recipes. It is important to soak cashew nuts before blending and the Ninja handles this very well, providing a lovely smooth cashew cream. The ninja is also a time saver as it has attachments to slice and chop vegetables – which needless to say, saves a lot of time.

What’s an Instant Pot? – found this on a couplecooks.com

An Instant Pot is a programmable digital pressure cooker (Instant Pot is the brand name). There are many other brands available. The concept is to cook foods at high pressure, which cuts down on cooking time – verses traditional cooking , crock pot or slow cooker. I do remember having a Pressure Cooker at some point many years ago but if I recall correctly, I didn’t do a great deal with it. I use my Instant Pot a lot. It’s great because you put all the ingredients in, set it to the desired programme and then leave it to do its thing! Then you are free to do something else because you are not constantly having to stir, add etc. Here’s a recipe from a couple cooks.com for a very simple but tasty pasta dish.

My wonderful time saving Instant Pot

Instant Pot Spaghetti

  • 2 cups water
  • 28oz can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I use water to sauté)
  • 1tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves (chopped)
  • 8 fresh basil leaves
  • 8oz spaghetti
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the water, tomatoes and their juices, olive oil (if using), balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, oregano, salt (if using), spinach and whole basil leaves
  2. Ladle just enough of the tomato mixture into the instant pot to cover the bottom
  3. Break the spaghetti in half. Working in batches, add the noodles to the Instant Pot in a fan shape so that they stack on each other – this will prevent the spaghetti sticking together.
  4. Pour remaining sauce over the spaghetti
  5. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. Note that it takes about 10 minutes for the pot to ‘preheat’ and come up to pressure before cooking.
  6. Quick release: vent the remaining steam from the Instant Pot by moving the pressure release handle to ‘venting’, covering your hand with a towel or oven glove. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam.
  7. Once all steam is released (the button near the vent will pop down), open the lid and stir. Then remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot and allow to cool for about 5 minutes for the sauce to thicken. Ladle into pots and serve.

Air Fryer

Versatile Air Fryer

I have a really small Weight Watchers brand Air Fryer. Not big enough for a family, so I tend to cook in batches if we all eat together because you need to lay your food in as flat a layer as possible. The air fryer makes fantastic chips. I par boil my chips first, dry them on kitchen paper then place in the air fryer. The boys like them sprinkled with a little garlic salt. I’ve air fried baked potatoes – so good!

What else can you cook in an Air Fryer?

Tender vegetables – approx 10 – 15 minutes, shaking a couple of times during cooking

  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower
  • Soft vegetables like, peppers and tomato
  • Thin veggies like asparagus – all of the above can be done quickly in an air fryer.

Firm vegetables – approx 20 – 30 minutesshaking the pan a few times during the cooking process to promote even cooking

  • Root vegetables (carrots, beets, potato, parsnips)
  • Winter squash (butternut, acorn, pumpkin)

How to air cook frozen vegetables

Determine which category your frozen veg falls under (tender or firm) then add a few minutes cooking time to allow for your frozen veg to thaw. Allow space between your veg for the water to evaporate during the cooking process so the veg is perfectly roasted.

Of course, you can find lots of plant based recipes on the internet suitable for the appliances shown here. All of them will save you time in preparing wonderful healthy meals. Don’t be afraid to create your own recipes either as you become more confident in planning, preparing and cooking.

Please like, share and/or comment. Ideas for future posts are welcomed.

Out and about in my home town eating whole-food plant-based…..or as near to it as I can get!

So, a few years ago I bumped into a couple of friends (on separate occasions) that I first met at age 11 when we started secondary school. We were pretty much inseparable all through school and later through college. Then life got in the way and gradually we saw less and less of each other. Meeting up again, many years later, it was like the intervening years hadn’t happened. We were right back to how we used to be. There were so many memories to reminisce about and we have created and continue to create new ones.

We currently meet up every 3 weeks or so and spend the day together, laughing, joking, setting the world to rights – we call it our mutual therapy session! Of course, the pandemic and lockdown put a stop to us meeting up for a while, but we stayed in touch by text and phone as often as we could. One of my friends had to shield for 12 weeks but as soon as we were able to meet up we made sure we did – normal service has resumed, well, a new normal for us all in this unprecedented time!

Eating out for Lunch is always part of our day and since I started eating whole-food plant-based in November 2019 it involved searching menus finding something suitable. For me, eating out has now become about getting as close to whole-food plant-based as I can but not sweating it if the food is less than strictly compliant. The whole point of meeting up with friends is to enjoy each other’s company and totally destress from what else might be going on in our lives.

Very recently, since lock down restrictions have been relaxed, the three of us have met up twice. Once at ‘Coffee St’ a coffee and cocktail bar with a difference in our local town, Chesterfield Derbyshire. A friend introduced me to their ‘Buddha Bowl’ comprising of everything our body needs in terms of macro and micro nutrients and absolutely delicious. My friends don’t follow the wfpb diet but are more than happy to eat the Buddha bowl – after all, what’s not to like – and so filling.

VEGAN BUDDHA BOWL by COFFEE ST

I would highly recommend a visit to ‘Coffee St’ they cater for everyone. They have a wide range of delicious meals, beautiful cakes, fabulous drinks and all topped off with a lovely atmosphere and wonderful staff who are so welcoming. Nothing is too much trouble – well worth a visit. Find Coffee St at 15 Cavendish St, Chesterfield S40 1XA

Last week we visited the ‘Sorbo Lounge’ in Chesterfield Town Centre. I visited prior to eating wfpb and enjoyed some wonderful meals. This time, I was interested to see the Vegan menu and it didn’t disappoint – I chose the wonderful dish below – ‘Mexican Superbowl’. It was so incredibly tasty and has inspired me to attempt to recreate it at home.

MEXICAN SUPERBOWL by SORBO LOUNGE

Sorbo Lounge in Chesterfield is in the former Post Office building, I don’t imagine it originally housed the post office, but when I’m in there I try to remember how it looked. The Sorbo Lounge is warm and welcoming and has a great atmosphere. The staff are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. The menu is varied and has a wonderful vegan selection. Find Sorbo Lounge at 1 Market Place, Chesterfield, S40 1TW. Sorbo@thelounges.co.uk

Eating out for those of us not eating the standard diet has certainly come a long way! I remember how, back in November 2019, which is less than a year ago, I would take my mum to a local supermarket and have lunch in the cafe there. The difference was, being new to wfpb and struggling to find something appropriate to eat. I recall I would ask for a plain jacket potato with a simple side salad. Asking for a simple dressing to go with it, turned out not to be doable because there was no ‘button’ on the cash register for that! They did allow me to take my own dressing, so I took a small pot of cashew cream with me the next time I ate there. That was a very simple meal, but you know what? I thoroughly enjoyed it! Just goes to show that eating wfpb doesn’t need to be complicated. Things have moved on so far since then and I find everywhere I eat now has a good choice of vegan/plant based meals.

I would suggest if you can’t find exactly what you want on the menu, ask if you can mix and match elements of different meals. Obviously, if eating out in a restaurant you will be able to ask for your meal to be prepared to your own requirements. As I’ve said before, getting as close to wfpb as I can when I eat out is ok with me.

Please like, follow, share with friends and/or comment on this post. Thanks for reading

Let’s talk bloating and gas!!

After my last post, (Whole-food plant-based – Change for the better) I received a question from Nikki about what causes bloating and how it can be prevented. First of all, thank you for the question Nikki and for encouraging others to visit and read my blog.

Well, I remember very clearly experiencing bloating for about the first 3 weeks of wfpbno (whole-food plant-based no oil) I wasn’t worried about it at the time as I knew why it was happening and had every expectation that it would end. That belief, I think, came from reading all the comments of others ahead of me in the 21 day plant-based challenge that I started in November 2019. I now know of course that for some people it takes longer for the gut to adjust, and some need to continue to be careful of what they eat. Bloating and gas is completely normal by the way!

There are so many benefits to following a plant based diet: better health, weight loss, lowering your carbon foot print etc. However, there are side effects that are not so enjoyable – you’ve got it – bloating and gas! This can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but for me the pros outweigh the cons.

If you are new to plant-based eating, or have increased the fibre in your diet, you can blame any gas and bloating on all the fibre you are eating. Fibre, also known as roughage is the indigestible part of plant foods that cleans out your digestive system. However, fibre is a double edged sword: while it may cause gas and bloating, it also improves digestion and relieves constipation. Also, there are studies that have shown a diet high in fibre can prevent certain types of cancer, heart disease, obesity and type 2 Diabetes. It also promotes a healthy gut, so it’s well worth persevering with plants.

So, what are the culprits that can cause gas and bloating:

What did I eat?

Cruciferous veg: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and our old favourite – Brussel sprouts (personally, one of my favourite veg). These vegetables contain glucosinolates, which are sulphur containing compounds – smells like rotten eggs, right! So with the fibre that humans can’t digest, bacteria breaks down the food via fermentation. The end result (pardon the pun) is carbon dioxide, methane or hydrogen – also known as gas!

Beans/Legumes: Legumes such as beans and lentils are the second leading gas producing foods (dairy products being number 1). These contain 2 relatively indispensable sugars: raffinose and stachyose, that end up in the large intestine. Tip: if you use canned beans, rinse them thoroughly with water. If you use dried beans, soak them before cooking.

Processed foods and oils – can be hard on your digestive system (even plant-based processed foods). If you are following a whole-food plant-based diet you will be avoiding processed foods as much as possible. High fat foods, especially oils and fried foods move slowly through the digestive tract and is often the cause of bloating.

So, that’s the science bit. Now – 5 tips to reduce gas and bloating:

  1. Incorporate fibre slowly – too much too soon will cause gas and bloating
  2. Drink water – plenty of it as it aids the digestion process
  3. chew your food – really chew it. Well chewed food is easier to digest
  4. Cook your veggies – easier to digest than raw, especially as you transition to eating more vegetables
  5. Drink your smoothies slowly – sip them and drink half and save half for later

Natural remedies that can help with the issue of gas and bloating:

  • Ginger – add it to water with lemon. Incorporate it into meals such as curries and soups
  • Herbal teas – such as peppermint, ginger or fennel, can provide digestive relief while also increasing your water intake
  • Lemon water – neutralises stomach acid
  • Yoga – certain yoga poses have been shown to relieve gas and bloating, including the aptly named “Wind Pose”.

I personally would suggest keeping a food diary so you can identify the foods that are causing bloating and gas. That way you can eliminate or reduce that particular food for a while until your body and particularly your gut has transitioned to the new diet. Its your gut biome that has to adjust from your former eating style.

There are some real but benign reasons of bloating and discomfort so consider:

  • Eating smaller meals
  • Eating slower. A substantial amount of gas in your gastrointestinal system is from swallowing air
  • Drink plenty of water. This will assist in ‘keeping things moving’
  • Pay attention to other beverages: coffee, alcohol, and some teas may exacerbate stomach bloating and discomfort. Try eliminating these drinks if this applies to you.

Of course, I would always advise anyone who is changing their diet to consult a medical professional before embarking on it. If you find a doctor who is aware of the health benefits of this eating lifestyle, you will have hit the jackpot! But, be prepared for a doctor saying you need to eat meat and dairy for a balanced diet. Be prepared also for comments such as ‘ where do you get your protein from.’ The answer to that is very simple – from plant-based, whole-foods. Most of us consume far more protein than our body requires. Eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains and you will give your body the nutrients, vitamins and fibre it needs to function optimally. I personally take a Vitamin B12 daily oral spray, as this is not readily available in a plant-based diet. Equally, if you choose to take a multi vitamin daily tablet, as I do, it’s not going to hurt either.

Just to demonstrate how quickly our bodies adapt to a plant-based diet. Remember I started eating wfpbno in mid November 2019, well a friend bought me a box of Baileys Chocolates, my absolute favourites. I resisted until late Christmas Day evening, thinking a few wouldn’t hurt! My body was very quick to let me know that a few would definitely hurt. The pain I experienced I likened to child birth!!!! That could be an exaggeration – But lesson learned.

I am passionate about whole-food plant-based eating because it works – on so many levels. After over 40 years of yo-yo dieting I have not only found an eating lifestyle that supports weight loss, but, I am healthier, fitter, have more confidence and improved self-esteem. What’s more, I don’t even entertain the idea of going back to my previous way of eating – there is no end date. I have thrown the yo-yo away! I’m now skipping around like a 20 year old – well not quite, but I’m sure you get what I mean.

This post has been a bit long winded (sorry – not an intentional pun!) But so important to address the real issues. I hope this information is beneficial and please keep your comments and questions coming.

Whole Food Plant Based – Change For The Better

Making a change isn’t always easy! I’m sure I’ve already mentioned that I didn’t transition to a wfpb eating lifestyle. But not everyone chooses to jump straight in with both feet. Some choose to transition over time – it’s a personal choice. Some may choose to cut out meat while still eating dairy products. Others might choose to eat wfpb a few days each week or a few meals each week meat and dairy free. Some may choose to eat wfpb but still use oil and salt. For myself, I didn’t trust myself to transition, but however you decide to make the change will be right for you. I fully embraced wfpbnons (whole food plant based no oil no sugar) and have reaped the health benefits for doing so. I haven’t felt this good in so many years.

I recently spent a few days with my sister. Originally we started eating wfpb around the same time. She was off work at the time and we started the 21 day challenge, sharing the meal prep and cooking which certainlly made it easier. Since then my sister returned to work (she is a carer and has worked all through the lock down) working long hours with few days off, she has found it very difficult to maintain wfpb because of the lack of time to devote to preparing and cooking. During the few days we spent together, we prepared and cooked meals, sufficient to keep her going for a week. Four days in she admitted to feeling better, apart from what we call ‘brain fog’. Now, I’m not going to lie, going from eating a typical western diet to wfpb can result in some side effects/withdrawal symptoms. I remember having a headache for about 5 days and mild stomach pains and bloating for three weeks. As I’ve stated in previous posts, I also felt the benefits of this change immediately – no acid reflux from day one, reduced pain in my fingers and knees from day 3 and pain gone totally within 3 weeks. I don’t have numbers relating to blood pressure, cholesterol and other markers considered by health professionals to signify good health etc. but there are many testimonials out there relating to people reducing their meds or coming off medication altogether. Plants are amazing. Everyone is different of course and individual experiences will be different. All I can tell you is eating wfpbnons is the best thing I have ever done for me.

While with my sister, conversation inevitably turned to health and weight loss. We’ve both been overweight at different times in our lives. We talked about how our weight had impacted on us and how it made us feel. I know for certain being overweight destroyed my self confidence and I had very low self esteem. I know feeling this way prevented me achieving my full potential. I couldn’t rise above how being overweight made me feel – I not only judged myself but felt judged by others. My sister recognises she uses long cardigans as a way of making herself feel better about her weight. Believing that it hides her lumps and bumps – almost like camouflage!

Can You See Me?

That comment resonated with me as I have used cardigans, jackets and coats to ‘hide’ myself. Using these items like a security blanket! I can honestly say since turning to the wfpb lifestyle, I am feeling much more confident as well as being much healthier.

Code Blue – what your doctor doesn’t know will shock you!

Had to share this with you. I’ve just listened to a podcast featuring Dr. Saray Stancic (Producer of the documentary ‘Code Blue’) who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 28. Her doctor told her she’d be in a wheelchair by age 40. Twenty five years later, she takes no medication and is largely symptom free after embracing lifestyle medicine as a patient and as a practitioner. Her journey is highlighted in the recently released documentary Code Blue, directed by Marcia Machado. The film dives deep into the problems with the current health care system, from medical school curricula to the influence of Big Pharma and features experts such as David Katz, MD, Neal Barnard, MD, and T. Colin Campbell, PhD. While undergoing a traditional approach to MS, Stancic stumbled upon an article touting the benefits of blueberries for MS patients. From there she researched how nutrition affects disease outcomes. The big question here being, why is nutrition not given more emphasis in medical professional training, while lifestyle including healthy nutrition has such an amazing impact on our health and wellbeing.

Dr. Stancic also talks about a lifestyle medicine wheel consisting of 6 spokes: Follow a whole-food plant-based diet; physical activity; stress management; effective sleep hygiene; avoidance of tobacco and reduction or elimination of alcohol; and the importance of social connectedness. Each of these are important. I am yet to embrace physical activity! Stress management and effective sleep hygiene are also work in progress – but improving. Social connectedness has been a challenge during this pandemic lock down but we have still been able to connect via the wonders of technology. We have recently been able to meet friends and family again – laughter and support also being great medicine!

A Few Top Tips – to help cooking a little easier. Remember Google has lots of information to help adjusting to wfpb

  • Use water or vegetable broth to saute instead of oil
  • Use unsweetened apple sauce instead of eggs in muffins, cakes etc.
  • Roast vegetables on parchment paper – no oil necessarily
  • An air fryer is perfect for cooking chips, wedges and fries – no oil needed

If you are thinking about changing your diet, I hope I have given you some food for thought! There is such a huge amount of information out there to aid you in whatever you choose to do. Please comment if you found this post useful. Ask me anything regarding wfpb – not that I’m an expert at all, but if I can help, I will.

Where to begin! Whole Food Plant Based (wfpb)

In my last post I said I would take a selfie – here it is!

As I’ve said in previous posts, I was looking to make a change back in late 2019. I knew that meant dealing with my increasing weight but in the back of my mind I was thinking what’s the point? “You know how this works Angela,” I said, “you lose weight over a short period of time, get fed up with the restrictive regime, start cheating and end up putting even more weight back on. After all, that’s what’s happened every time in the past!”

How we can delude ourselves!

This time however, something was different. Losing weight wasn’t my main focus. Being healthier was! So I didn’t jump straight in to wfpb. Didn’t set a date to start and then eat everything in sight in preparation for the inevitable deprivation. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt!

Now obviously I didn’t know how wfpb was going to change my life when I started out on this process. But, I had joined a 21-day challenge and while not starting on day one, I was reading posts from those who had and that definitely gave me inspiration. I was amazed at the changes people were experiencing health wise in particular and so set my start date (no I didn’t do the whole binge eating of everything I could think of beforehand!) I can only put that down to something having switched in my brain – I was absolutely up for the challenge.

Where to start?

Obviously, this was such a big change, I remember struggling with how to actually start. I had already decided not to transition – because my thinking was if I didn’t go all in, would I ever fully succeed in going wfpb. So for me, I committed to eating whole food, plant based, no oil, no salt.

So I thought I’d share a typical days wfpb meals with you – I don’t remember where this breakfast idea came from, certainly not a recipe, but I felt I needed to keep it simple. This is absolutely delicious and remains my go to breakfast – I never tire of it.

1 chopped apple

1or 2 bananas, sliced

Small handful of blueberries and strawberries

A few chopped nuts

2 tbsp ground flax seed

Drizzle of pure maple syrup

For someone who would eat the occasional apple or a few grapes prior to wfpb – this was a game changer. That reminds me, if you haven’t watched ‘The Game Changers’ on Netflix, I highly recommend that you do. Watching this cemented my desire to change.

For lunch a favourite of mine is a Vegan “Toona” Salad sandwich from The Plant-Based Diet for beginners’ cook book by Gabriel Miller

  • Vegan “Toona” Salad
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Method
  • In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas and the avocado. Using a fork or a potato masher, smash them down until the majority of the chick peas are broken apart.
  • Stir in the onion, celery, mustard, lemon juice, maple syrup and garlic powder, making sure everything is thoroughly combined and serve.
  • I often eat mine on toasted whole wheat bread with plenty of salad and a generous dollop of cashew cream

For dinner, another favourite of the whole family is 10 Minute Vegan Rice Stir-Fry from dreenaburton.com

  • Pinch sea salt (optional)
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers or carrots
  • 1 cup corn kernels or green peas or a combination of both
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions or chives (if chives – add at the end of cooking)
  • 1/3 cup sliced celery
  • 5 cups pre-cooked brown rice or quinoa
  • I cup diced pre-cooked potatoes or 1/2 cup more rice
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup tamari
  • 1 -2 tbsp water
  • Sea salt to taste, optional
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste, optional

Instructions

  • In a large nonstick skillet over high or medium-high heat, sprinkle on a pinch of sea salt and add the bell peppers or carrots, corn or green peas, green onions and celery, stirring occasionally
  • Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the rice, potatoes (if using) and 1/4 cup of the tamari
  • Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Add the water if the mixture is sticking
  • Heat the rice through
  • If using chives, add and stir
  • Taste, add the remaining tamari, season with salt and black pepper if desired
  • Serve

I regularly turn to Google when I’m looking for recipes, ideas and tips – it has become my right arm when looking for inspiration when researching wfpb and it can become yours too. My sister who is a Body Shop at Home Consultant posted on Facebook about their Moringa products and shared with me what she’d learned about the Moringa bean through her research on google. I learned that it is a super food and 100g of the Moringa leaf has 15 x more potassium than bananas, 36 x more magnesium than eggs plus many more nutrients. Moringa powder can be used in anything that would benefit from the flavour of what is akin to spinach. I have ordered some from Amazon and will let you know how I get on. Those of you with underlying health issues should consult a doctor or health professional before using Moringa.

My next post will include further insight into my wfpb journey, what I’ve learned, what worked, what didn’t, as well as shortcuts, ideas and tips that will be of benefit. Please comment on this post and feel free to make suggestions for what you would like me to cover in upcoming posts.

Selfie Drama Queen!

Following on from my first post, I promised a funny story. So first, a bit of background. I have struggled with low self-esteem for many years having had a weight problem for most of my life. Since beginning eating wfpb in November 2019 I have lost a significant amount of weight – no idea how much because I was in total denial about what I weighed so didn’t weigh myself. Also, I very, very rarely had my photo taken, and if I did, it would only ever be when I’d lost weight. So, fast forward to May 2020 and having lost weight I started taking an interest in my overall appearance again. My sister had recently begun buying Body Shop products from a friend who was a Body Shop at Home Consultant. I decided to update my skin care regime (after all – not getting any younger!) This was during lockdown and having not been out, I’ve practically been living in pyjamas, make-up free with hair that is desperate for a cut and colour. I decided to invest in quality products and my consultant suggested I take a before photo and another a week later to show how the products had improved my skin. Me! take a photo! of myself!!!!

Of course, I have not met the consultant so she wasn’t aware of my absolute phobia of having my photo taken! Anyway, once I’d stopped hyperventilating, I thought I would give it a go. What’s the worst that could happen, right! Armed with my smart phone I took my first selfie and my worst fears were confirmed – droopy eyelid, wonky nose – nightmare! To say I was horrified is an understatement! Now, I share my home with my 3 teenage grandsons and it just so happened that one of them was passing my bedroom door just as I was reviewing my selfie. Thrusting the offending photo in his face I said “I don’t really look like that do I?” Well his face was a picture. So many emotions flickering across his face. I could actually see the cogs turning, thinking how do I answer this one? Eventually he said “let me take your photo nana, you’re not used to taking selfies” (another understatement). Needless to say, the result was the same, confirming to me that indeed I did look like that. Not to be deterred, the grandson said, “it’s probably your phone nana, let me take one on your iPad”. He looked through the lens and said “shut your mouth nana, you might look better.” Well, at that, I was in hysterics. I laughed and laughed and couldn’t stop. The grandson joined in. My stomach hurt I was laughing so much. When I’d recovered, I said, “right I’m ready for my close up now.” Grandson said, “I can’t take one now nana, your face is all red.” So, I was resigned to the fact that I was not exactly photogenic. However, I persevered with recording my skin regime progress. The result of all this – I no longer fear my photo being taken and have learned to like the way I look. Well at least I no longer recoil in horror! Low self esteem is a drain, but I’m working on it. Needless to say I won’t be posting the before selfie anytime soon, if ever! But, after 4 months of lock down I have a hair appointment booked in – so you never know, with my new found self confidence, I may try the selfie again!

I wish inserting media content into this blog was as easy as switching to whole food plant based eating! But….still getting to grips with it.

In my next and subsequent posts I will continue to share my progress along with recipes, tips and facts about how I got started and what has kept me on track. If you are interested in discovering more about the whole food plant based lifestyle, please visit my blog again and feel free to comment, give feedback, suggest ideas for content and ask questions.

Passionate about Whole Food Plant Based eating

26/May 2020, I turned 63 years old, How did that happen I wondered?In my head I wasn’t 63! Late in 2019, I was taking stock of my life and yet again my thoughts turned towards my weight. I really needed to do something about it…..again. I have been on so many diets from about the age of 14 and for brief periods of time I actually felt good about the way I looked. It never lasted for long though and I would end up putting all the weight back on and more. That same scenario was repeated over and over again. Why was that? Because I never learned about nutrition and didn’t make the connection between what I ate and how I felt health wise!

So in October 2019 my mind must have been open and attuned to the idea of healthy weight loss because appearing on my radar was all this talk about ‘whole food plant based’ (wfpb) eating. I was curious, read more and more, did a whole lot of research and then in my Facebook feed came across Dr Roseanne Olivera’s ‘21 Day Whole Food Plant Based Challenge’. Even so, I didn’t start straight away, I began to see posts from those who had started and that cemented my desire to get involved. I was ready to change and the predominant reason for change was for health reasons – weight loss would be a very welcome bonus.

In preparation, I shopped for spices, herbs, tinned and dried goods and finally fruit and vegetables, ready to give myself the best possible chance of maintaining this new eating lifestyle. The day before starting whole food plant based, I bought a new box of 72 Rennie because I had suffered with acid reflux for years. Everything I ate caused acid reflux. 8 months in, I still have not opened that box! From my first whole food plant based meal I have not experienced acid reflux – absolutely amazing! The first indication that I had taken the first step to improved health.

I chose not to transition, instead choosing to go the whole hog and decided I wouldn’t use oil, sugar or salt. Within the first week I noticed pain in my fingers and my right knee had significantly decreased and by the end of the third week, all pain had gone. The health benefits kept me on track with my choice and happily the weight was dropping off!

In my next post I will share a funny story (well in my opinion it’s funny) about taking my very first selfie! The reason I don’t have a before photo will also become clear.

If you are new to eating wfpb or thinking about transitioning to wfpb or interested in my experience so far, please feel free to comment and if there is a particular topic you’d like me to cover, please let me know?