Diet and nutrition, plant based diet, recipes

Vegan or plant based diet?

DSC_4900-EditI recently read a post on Facebook about Steve Jobs, one thing that stuck in my mind was something he said, and something I whole heartedly believe in more and more recently… ‘we need to look at food as our medicine, or one day our food will be our medicine’.

Veganism is some thing that has become hugely trendy recently, but realistically how many of the Vegans out in the world are truly vegan, do they still wear leather shoes, do they still sit on giant leather couches, I think that maybe a few still do, so truthfully I think the real term should be plant based diet, but with that being said a plant based diet is not always healthy, there are many flavored chips out there that claim to be vegan, a quick trip to five guys for fries cooked in peanut oil, is that considered vegan too?  Not in my mind, when I think vegan or plant based diet I think vegetables, healthy grains and legumes… and that is exactly the way we have been eating for quite some time now.

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In the last two weeks I have really cracked down on healthy eating vegan style… I am not going to say I have been totally a plant based diet eater as I have had a tiny amount of fish in some sushi, but I would say that 98% of my diet in 14 days has been healthy plant based gluten free foods, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What have I discovered from plant based eating and gluten free dieting?  Well I am preparing food for a long time each day, vegan recipes can be very complex but extremely tasty, but most of all my body feels so much healthier… I have no bloating, my skin looks healthier, I can feel I have started to lose a little of the weight I have been trying so desperately to offload for quite some time now, not much but I can feel it in myself and my clothes and my mind feels clearer and more focused.

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I have always been a menu planner, so cooking plant based meals has not changed this, the only change is that my cart is filled with much more fresh organic produce and unprocessed foods than ever before.  My shopping list always includes lentils, all varieties of beans, gluten free flours from garbanzo bean flour to tapioca flour, and all the flours in between, lots and lots of fresh veggies and fruits, frozen veggies and fruit and lots of herbs and spices, fresh and frozen… it’s never cheap to eat healthily but it is definitely rewarding.

I challenged my husband to a one week vegetarian diet a few months ago, he not only accepted my challenge, but he knocked it out of the park and became a full time Vegetarian, he doesn’t want to become a fully plant based diet eater as he says he would miss cheese and eggs, and I am good with that, but in all truthfulness because I plan all his meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner including when he is at work, I would say he is 90% a plant based eater… pretty good for someone who has eaten a lot of meat his whole life.

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How does he feel after a few months of his new diet… well he has started to lose weight, slowly but he is down two holes on his belt and shorts he couldn’t wear last year now fit him.  He had health issues, which prompted my challenge, and he says he feels much healthier.  Every day I make him breakfast, lunch and dinner and to be honest he eats it all, he does not like products that pretend to be meat so it can be a challenge for me at times, I’ve made black bean burgers, walnut and mushroom meatballs, and to be fair he has eaten them but they are not his favorite… BBQ’s are my biggest challenge with him, but he recently saw a recipe for beer can cabbage cooked on the grill on Facebook that he fancied, so that is on my list to make when we get back from vacation.

Talking about vacation, what happens when you become a plant based eater and you are out and about, especially on vacation staying in a hotel.   South Carolina is famous for fried chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, lots of seafood and meat dishes… this will be the challenge, to keep on the healthy eating plan, it will be hard but I am setting myself the challenge, let’s see if I can do it.

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So what have I been cooking… the list is long as I like to change it up all the time otherwise I would get bored with cooking day in day out… now remember I live in a house of 10 people most of the time, 12 right now as my parents are visiting, not everyone is vegetarian or plant based, so how do I manage to juggle meals for everyone?  That was my dilemma, but I came up with a solution that seems to be working, although it is a lot of work for the chef, namely me.  I always select a vegan meal then think how can I adapt it, what meat could I add in for the meat eaters, it quite often ends up being two big skillets of food, one with meat and one without.

Here are some of my favorite recipes so far…

Low fat vegan mac n cheese

Crunchy Thai noodle salad

Vegan lentil enchiladas

Indian Frankie’s

Mid week mash and beans

Quinoa and cannellini bean soup

Vegan skillet lasagne

Vegan buffalo cauliflower tacos

Socca

Chickpea scramble

Magic green sauce

Vegan one pot Asian style pasta

Unfortunately I haven’t taken any food photos recently, but I promise going forward I will include photos of our meals.

Vegan cookbooks I recommend…

The new vegan by Aine Carlin

Mindful vegan meals by Maria Koutsogiannis

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A while ago a friend of mine suggested that I create a blog of what we eat… I am hugely into nutrition and I try my hardest to cook a balanced meal plan each week, so that got me thinking, especially as we have just started this healthy plant based diet… I thought maybe I could share our journey with you, I’ll give you ideas for meal planning for your healthy week ahead, shopping lists of foods I like to include in my refrigerator and pantry, also I can let you know what is happening and how we are feeling as the weeks go on with our diet based mainly around plants… I really hope you will all join me on this adventure and come along for the ride… but first let’s see how I handle the hurdle of a vacation in the south staying in a hotel… Happy Summer everyone.

 

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New year…

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I’m not sure it really feels like New Year to me yet, for the first time ever I slept right through it, getting stomach flu on vacation was not quite the plan but it happened anyway, hot, cold shivers, violent headaches, stomach pains, nausea and the dreaded run to the bathroom, all led to me wanting to just sleep in bed for three days, but I didn’t, you are only on vacation for such a few days and I wasn’t going to let this thing keep me from getting out and enjoying Arizona, but I did let it allow me to sink into bed early each night and sleep on and off through each evening and night, including New Years Eve… so there were no tears of something lost and happiness of something new this year, just sleep and then more sleep.

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Although I was still kind of out of it on New Year’s Day, feeling a little better but not even 75%, we spent the day in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been privileged to go to… Sedona AZ… if ever you are lucky enough to travel to Arizona make sure Sedona is on your places to visit list, well that’s if you don’t decide to just stay there for a few days… everywhere you look the views are just stunning and surreal, sit in Starbucks sip coffee and the views are phenomenal, grab lunch at one of the many places to eat and the views are out of this world… my only criticism would be that some of the places are a little too touristy and the shops tend to be a little generic, but I wasn’t there to shop, even though we did do a little, obligatory teenage girl Sedona sweatshirt shopping, Mom and Florrie got handmade healing necklaces, oh and an unexpected find of summer Harlem pants… to just sit relax and take in that fantastic scenery that just surrounds you everywhere you look is just amazing and so calming.

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I don’t know why but I always feel a little apprehensive at the New Year… the thought of what a New Year can bring, has had me a little depressed this year. It is silly because really it’s just another day, but it really seems such a big deal… I was reading all these positive New Year posts on social media and I had to stop and give myself a good talking too, although last year was tough with my Mum getting sick there were lots of positives… three of my older sons all have good jobs now, we have had three vacations, one was unplanned to see my Mum, but we still got to see family and friends and see the new regeneration of a town we grew up in and our older children grew up in, our children are all doing well and are happy, Paul and I are in a really good place with our relationship right now and my Mum is through her chemo now and on the other side, she is the bravest person I know and I am very proud of her. So I think I need to start looking at New Year in a new light from now on… how exciting is this year going to be?

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No resolutions from me this year, another first… just intentions to be a healthier more positive me… I want to continue my healthy eating campaign… get back to the cardio and yoga I was doing until I damaged my ankle, no more excuses though, more meditation and learning to relax… and over this winter I want to stay in the warm hibernate by the fire and fuel one of my passions photography, I want to improve my skills, more reading and practicing, I want to be as good if not better than the talented people of the photography Facebook groups I follow.

But for now I am going to enjoy my last two days in Sunny Arizona… relax in the warmth, soak up as many rays as I can because on Saturday when we arrive back home it will be freezing and I need this warmth to last through until Spring… Happy New Year everyone 🎉

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Sunday afternoon…

I have been contemplating for quite a while where I could go for a little antiquing fun, in England we visited all over on our antiquing quests, Lewes near Brighton in Sussex was my favorite little town to visit, I could spend hours just wandering around the little antique stores scattered around.

This past Sunday we decided to brunch in our little neighbouring town, the cutest little lunching place was our destination, we were hoping to get there for breakfast but our timekeeping was not great, we did manage to get there for lunch though,  stuffed mushrooms for me with salad on the side and a huge sandwich for Paul, our babies had a firm favorite of grilled cheese sandwiches… the atmosphere was relaxing and the food was comforting.  What I had forgotten about this town was how abundant it was in antique shops… yay a win for me.


Lunch was fun but shopping was even more fun, I told both F and T not to touch anything, they could look but not touch and I have say they were both so good, several people commented on how good they were, they loved looking at all the old things, asking questions and just looking with very little touch ‘I’m just rocking the baby Mom’ Tate said in the cutest little voice. Paul and I love browsing the old antiques, we look at very different things then occasionally we find an item we both love.  I could have spent so much money, I’m a little bit addicted to all this old ‘junk’, old crates, glass bottles and jars, weighing scales and old ladders, I want it all… but I did not see an old farmhouse table, one thing I really need, but I did buy some old farmhouse meat weighing scales, did I need them, no, did Paul and I love them… yes, so now they will be hanging in my new kitchen, much to my fussy daughters disgust, she does not take after me for my love of old things… maybe one day.

On our way home we called into a weekend Antique sale at a local storage place… lucky we did or I wouldn’t have found my old 1800’s bus shelter bench… I saw it from the car and knew it had to be mine, luckily Paul loved it too, several people looked at it, but I knew I wanted it… perfect when bought back to life with a farmhouse table in my bay window… I’m so excited… luckily it got mostly good reviews in my house, apart from my teenage daughter who as I have said absolutely hates old junk… I think she lives in the wrong house 😃

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Late Summer fun…

I love to get out and about, see new places, experience new things, it’s difficult trying to juggle house renovations and getting out whilst this weather is so beautiful.  I don’t know about you but I think life’s too short not to be out there experiencing the world around us, even if it’s just local there are always new things to do and see.

Now that the busy summer season is over and Labor Day is behind us, it’s time to get out there and visit some local places with relative quietness around us, I am not one for crowds so I love this time of year.  We decided to start homeschooling this week leaving last week and the fantastic weather for a little bit of late summer fun at the lake.  We are lucky to have several beautiful lakes in our town, the beaches at the lakes are safe, clean and very picturesque… A magical way to spend a sunny, warm September afternoon.

The forecast for this last weekend was good, we had plans to go to the shore, sometimes having teenage children with their commitments can change those plans though… As was the case this past weekend, oh well those changed plans meant we got to experience the beauty that is High Point State Park.  We have never been to High Point but this past Summer saw a couple of friends visiting it, it looked stunning so we thought we would see for ourselves.  The beach was closed, but you could still use it, there just was no lifeguard on duty, but that was fine we just walked on the sand, played in the park and then drove up to the monument, 1803 feet above sea level, this elevation has fantastic views all the way round as far as you can see, just amazing on a clear day.  It was extremely windy, but this was the best part of the afternoon for my little ones, they ran around the monument, hair, dresses and t-shirts lifting up in the gusty wind, they loved it so much they didn’t want to leave.

Back to homeschooling began yesterday with a field trip, original planned for later in the week, but again having older children changed my plans, I needed to collect something for my son and it was in the direction of the farm and some apple picking fun.  Our Theme at the moment is Frozen the movie, our letter of the week is Aa and our numbers are 1 to 5. Apple picking was a perfect way to kick off our week looking at the letter Aa in more detail.  We rode the hay wagon, picked some juicy apples, of course you have to try them first before you pick them, we picked some huge furry soft peaches and visited with the animals, it was hot dusty but oh so much fun.


This coming weekend looks beautiful again… Plans are already in the making for one day in the house catching up on chores and the other day, who knows where we will be?