I’m feeling so good health wise. However, we started this new year in tier 4 in another attempt to curb the spread of Corona Virus. When will it end? It occurred to me that for the first time in many years I was in a place in my life where I was able to dress up, feeling good about myself but actually had nowhere to go! Here’s to many more years where I will get that opportunity. Since initially writing this, England is now moving to total lockdown – for the third time. All we can do is stick to the rules and hope that the vaccination program does its job and enables us to return to some level of normalcy in the not too distant future.
Continuing the alphabet in delving deeper into the nutrition and health benefits of fruit and veg – we reach I and the only item I could find beginning with I – Iceberg Lettuce:
Iceberg lettuce has a cool, crisp taste and adds lots of crunch to a sandwich. If you choose to not eat bread, iceberg lettuce leaves can make a good food wrapper.
Nutritional and health benefits of iceberg lettuce – taken from healthline.com.
Despite its reputation for being a complete zero on the nutritional scale, iceberg lettuce provides significant amounts of vitamins A and K. It also has small amounts of many other nutrients. Although it’s low in fibre, it has a high water content, making it a refreshing choice during hot weather. It also provides calcium, potassium, vitamin C and folate. These nutrients can help you meet the standard daily requirements for several vitamins and minerals. They include:
- Vitamin C: a powerful antioxidant that helps keep your immune system healthy
- Calcium: which keeps bones and teeth strong. It also supports muscle function, and blood clotting
- Vitamin K: a vitamin that works with calcium to prevent bone fractures. It’s also integral for blood clotting
- Vitamin A: (as Beta Carotene), a powerful antioxidant that helps to maintain night vision and eye health. It also supports cell growth
- Folate: a B vitamin that helps to make DNA and genetic material. It’s especially important for women who are pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant
- Potassium: a mineral that reduces blood pressure by lessening the effects of salt in the diet
I’m sure we’ve all heard the old saying “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail” – well, there are times when I haven’t been prepared, meaning no meals in the fridge or freezer and I know for me that could be a danger time. Luckily, I always have wfpb resources available in the store cupboard, fridge and freezer, so I know to kick my lazy butt into gear and throw something together – often that will be a vegetable stir fry with rice or pasta – danger averted! There are also times when I can’t be bothered to cook (pre-planning comes into its own here!) and other times where I am happy to spend time looking for and preparing something new – like the Vegan Wellington I recently made.
I often find when I make something new it is extra time consuming and so it was with the Vegan Wellington. However, I know the next time I make it, it will take less time because it will be more familiar to me. I have reproduced the recipe below from veganhuggs.com
- 1 sheet vegan puff pastry, thawed if frozen (about 10×13)
- 2 tablespoons ground flax meal + 5 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons grape seed oil, or preferred cooking oil (I used water)
- Half medium onion, diced
- 2 small carrots, diced small
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 8 ounces mushrooms, minced or finely chopped
- 1.5 tablespoons tamari sauce
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained well but not rinsed
- 3/4 cup unsalted walnuts, ground into a course meal (measured whole)
- 1/2 cup panel breadcrumbs, more if needed ( I didn’t have these so used rolled oats)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1.5 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter melted
- Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside
- Combine the ground flax and water in a small bowl. Set aside for 10 min. It will thicken and gel up a bit
- Heat oil (water) in a large skillet over medium heat
- Add garlic, thyme, sage and rosemary. Sauté for 1 minute
- Add mushrooms and sauté until they soften and release their moisture, about 5 – 7 minutes. You do not want the pan to be dry. Now add the tamari and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes
- Add chickpeas to a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher. Don’t over mash – just mash enough to break down whole chickpeas, but leave lots of texture
- Now add the cooled mixture, breadcrumbs, walnut meal, flax mixture, Worcestershire, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Combine well with a spatula and use your hands if needed. Taste and add more seasoning if preferred. (If the mixture seems too wet, you can add another 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs or rolled oats – you should be able to form it with your hands easily)
- Using your hands, shape the mixture into a solid log that will fit in the middle of the pastry sheet (with a few inches of slack)
- Unroll puff pastry sheet and lay over the baking sheet. Place your prepared mixture into the centre of the pastry
- Now roll up the ends and press gently to seal. If you have a lot of extra length, you may want to trim the dough first before sealing. Otherwise the ends of the loaf will be very doughy. Flip the loaf over so the sealed edges are facing the baking sheet
- Brush the top and sides with melted vegan butter (or as I did with a little oat milk). Using a sharp knife, gently make diagonal slits across the whole top of loaf about 1-inch apart. Now repeat going the other direction to criss-cross slits
- place in the oven for 30-35minutes until heated throughout and the pastry is golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before gently cutting with a sharp knife
A top tip: Top trick for preparing veg – chop a batch then freeze so you can grab and go. Or prepare and box up, place in the fridge – will stay fresh for up to five days. I’m up for anything that saves me time. One of the best tips that absolutely blew my mind was how to peel carrots using a vegetable peeler like the one below:
I used to use this as a scraper, scraping a carrot for instance, from top to bottom. Until I saw someone scraping from top to bottom and then bottom to top in a continuous motion – so fast and easy – carrots peeled in no time at all. Why did I not know this before?
I firmly believe that what we eat determines how we feel – everything we put in our body affects the way we feel. I have been wfpb for 13 months and I have been open about not being consistently 100% but I do strive to be. What I do know is when I eat processed food or go off topic (food wise), my body lets me know about it with the resulting headache, stomach pains, gassiness and pain from inflammation particularly in my fingers etc. This “reminder” is what keeps me on the wfpb track.
So, as I finish this latest post, I’m reminded how challenging lockdown can be both physically and mentally for many of us. Playing Monopoly played its part in getting our family through the last lockdown (as detailed in a previous post) and a new voice activated version of the game started us off this time. This was a Christmas present for one of the boys and it proved to be a hit. No fiddly paper money to deal with – the voice activated banker takes care of all that!
Thanks for reading. Please like, share, comment and follow. Most of all stay safe and healthy.