Diet and nutrition, homeschooling, Photographic diary, plant based diet, recipes, Uncategorized

How much protein do you really eat?

DSC_4900-EditI have teetered on the edge of veganism for quite some time now,  I’ve committed to a total plant based diet for a month in 2019, but my biggest challenge is losing weight as I get older and keeping it off, and without eggs I think I struggle getting enough protein into my body.  The longer I don’t eat any meat, the more I want to cut all animal products from my diet, so as more and more plant based foods hit the shelves in our grocery stores here in NJ, and more and more restaurants are giving us vegan options, I am ready to commit fully.

I think it is time to really revamp my diet, I need to be adding more protein rich plant based foods into every meal that I eat, so it is time to do some more research and add a few essential protein rich foods to my grocery list.

If you are considering a more plant based diet, or you want to be totally vegan, this is what I have learned about eating more protein without eating any animal products.

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Protein is vitally important for our bodies, if you do not eat enough our health and body composition suffers immensely. It is usually recommended that an average sedentary man needs 56 grams of protein a day, and an average sedentary woman needs 46 grams of protein a day, which when you eat animal product this is easy to achieve, but when eating plant based foods this can be more difficult to achieve, especially if you are like me and avoid all soy based foods.

I have never in my life struggled with weight loss, I consider myself to have been very lucky, but as I have aged and my metabolism has changed I have noticed my weight creeping up, and despite calorie counting and eating a very clean healthy diet I still yo yo from day to day or week to week, but what I have noticed is that the weight difference can be attributed to how much food I have eaten that day, and most importantly how much protein I have eaten too.

So with all this in mind I am setting about changing my eating habits yet again. I have always struggled to eat large meals, but as I age I find I need to eat a good amount of healthy calories a day, but what I need to think about is the make up of the calories, how can I add more protein into every meal I eat.  Eating avocado on sourdough toast is not enough protein in that meal, if I average out 46 grams of protein for each day, each of the three meals I eat needs to have approximately 15 grams of protein in. If I eat two meals a day I have to add a whopping 23 grams of protein to each meal.

So lets look at some plant based foods that can give us a healthy amount of protein for each meal…

Of course soy foods are one of the highest protein plant based foods, I avoid soy for personal reasons, so I never include them in my meals but they can give you a whopping 10 – 19 grams of protein per 3.5 oz, pretty good for adding that 15 grams into every meal.

Now I do love me some lentils, green, red or French, I love lentils in everything. Lentils not only provide you with 18 grams of protein per cooked cup, they also provide you with a type of fiber that has been shown to feed the good bacteria in your colon.  I can see many more lentils appearing in my meals in the very near future.

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Garbanzo beans, chickpeas or whatever you want to call them, they are delicious and provide 15 grams of protein per cooked cup, I love, love, love them, hummus, roasted or ground into a flour to make pancakes, thicken sauces or make into a totally gluten free pizza base. Chickpeas and all other beans are most definitely a must pantry supply for adding a punch of nutrition to your meals.

Now I have been using nutritional yeast for many years now, not to be confused with yeast we use for baking.  Nutritional yeast adds some nice cheesy flavor to many meals, it is delicious in mashed potatoes and it is delicious sprinkled over pasta.  From my research I discovered that using nutritional yeast on or in my meals can add 14 grams of protein per ounce, it will also give me 7 grams of fiber… I need to be buying this in bulk and using it on everything.

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I do love to sprinkle hemp seeds on many of my dishes, they not only look pretty but they add some great nutrition to your meal. Now what I did not realize was the amount of protein these tiny little seeds could add to my food, 10 grams per ounce of completely digestible protein… I may just have to sprinkle a few more into each meal now.

When I was a child I hated green peas, I used to hate the fact my Mom put them on my plate with what seemed like every meal… Now I just love green peas with everything, how our tastes change, I love them mashed with some salt and pepper, I love them in casseroles, I love them in salads, it is fair to say that I really do love some green peas with everything these days.  Not only do these little round green peas provide you with 25% of your daily fiber and vitamin A,C and K, they are a great source of protein weighing in with 9 grams of protein per cooked cup, making them a great addition to every meal.

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Now this one surprised me, I have to be honest I bought spirulina quite some time ago, and I haven’t used it once, I am totally rethinking this, 2 tablespoons gives you 8 grams of protein, it is also an anti-inflammatory…  I may just have to add a little to our green juice in the mornings and sneak a little into casseroles here and there.

Quinoa has become a firm fave in our house, whenever I feel I need a little more protein in a meal I cook up some of this ancient grain that is totally protein packed giving us 8 – 9 grams of protein per cooked cup… definitely a staple pantry item in our house.

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I am thinking I may need to add more oats and oatmeal into our diets, I love oat milk, but as for actual oats we very rarely have them… half a cup of dry oats gives you 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber… oats can be added to everything from casseroles to veggie burgers and of course a good bowl of oatmeal anytime is the perfect comfort food to get you through a long cold winter.

Did you know that wild rice contains 1.5 times more protein than brown rice or basmati… now I did not, but now I do, guess what type of rice will be added to my grocery list.  One cooked cup of wild rice gives us 7 grams of protein… wow, who knew?

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Who makes chia pudding… hands up, me, me, me! 1.25 ounces of chia seeds give us 6 grams of protein, and a huge 13 grams of fiber making them a great addition to any meal, go grab some and chia pudding away.

Now we all know about nuts, seeds and nut butters, one ounce can give us between 5 – 7 grams of protein depending on the nut or seed… I always try to buy raw nuts and seeds and the most natural nut and seed butters I can find, its always a bonus if you find an organic one too.

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Finally there are protein rich fruits and vegetables, this is something I always forget, loading your plate up with them not only adds great protein but a host of other nutrition too.  Lets look at the vegetables that can give you between 4 – 5 grams of protein per cooked cup, broccoli, a firm favorite in our house, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts, these all make a regular appearance on our plates, but now I will be thinking of the protein I am adding to my plate.  Surprisingly fruits can be protein rich too giving us 2 – 4 grams of protein per cup, guava, blackberries, nectarines and bananas to name a few that can really pack a punch of nutrition.

Eating the rainbow is a must… but adding just the right of protein is just as important too, it keeps our bodies healthy and can really aid in weight loss when done correctly… now to work out the formula that is perfect for my body… wish me luck!

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No more resolutions here.

New Year… new year always finds me tearful, I don’t know why because it’s just another day, but I spend the days leading up to it being so reflective, I am a deep thinker, I am my own worst critic and I am an emotional person, I wear my heart on my sleeve, that is who I am and who I have always been. I read an article recently about being the best person we can be, about spending each day accepting who we are and growing from that… so I no longer have resolutions, but I do plan to be a better version of myself this year.

Accepting who I am is a difficult one, especially as I age, my reflection in the mirror seems strange to me, I am not the person I once was, but I have to stop avoiding my reflection and embrace it. I saw a woman in Starbucks recently, I think she was older than me, but she was me 10 years ago, her style was who I am, in that moment I told myself even as I age I need to keep me, sometimes I feel it slipping away because I no longer look like I used to, and I have always sworn to myself I would always be me, in my 60’s I’ll be lacing my DM’s and I’ll still be wearing my ripped jeans, I will always be a little boho and a little vintage because that is who I am and I am going to be that person again this year… I refuse to grow older with dignity.

I am definitely not the most organized of people, sometimes my house is not pristine and tidy, sometimes we eat pizza for dinner and sometimes my laundry pile is over flowing the hamper… this is me, but this year I am working on that, I have a schedule for everything, a schedule for housework, a schedule for home schooling and a schedule for exercise… one thing I do know about myself is, I work so much better with schedules, if it’s in writing I try to keep to it, I don’t over push myself, I believe in not stressing and doing what I can do, after all I am only one person, and Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I often feel as we accept our limitations and accept who we truly are, we achieve greater things, we take the pressure off of ourselves to be someone we are not… and through that we grow… and that is exactly what I have done, I have accepted all of my flaws, and believe me there are many, and I am learning to be just me, but I want to be a better version of me.

Food has grown to be an important part of who I am, I was anorexic in my teens, I had a love hate relationship with food, since then I have always suffered with IBS, some would say it’s a made up disease, some would say it can be miserable and believe me I never really understood I just accepted that was the way I am. In recent years I have discovered the key to being healthy is feeding our bodies with nutritional foods, I have discovered that I can help that IBS by eating well. I have always cooked from scratch, well I guess not back in the early days of being a new mom, but I have grown into the role of cook, chef, of our house, I have taught myself all about nutrition, I am in no way an expert but I do understand what we need to fuel our mind and bodies.

I have always been a menu planner, it keeps me on track and organized, but recently I have not been feeling it, whenever I sit down to work out what we will eat my mind goes blank, what do we like to eat? nothing, blank, what do I normally cook? nothing, blank. So I have devised a new system, again with the schedules, I have gone back to the olden days, when we would have egg and chips every Monday, mincemeat on a Tuesday… I have devised a plan to have days of the week for certain meals , but each week I will change up the dish, so let’s take Saturdays, I made that baked potato day, I love baked potatoes, warm comfort food to the max and the list of toppings are endless, last Saturday we had broccoli cheese on our potatoes, it was a huge success, then this weekend we are having chili topped baked spuds, you can add in some roasted vegetables to the mix, even a huge salad, same meal every Saturday but with a twist… ingenious!

Monday is casserole day, yesterday we had a pasta casserole with a colorful salad, Tuesday is Taco day… of course, think of all the different combos of tacos we can have. Wednesday is Buddha bowl day, one of my favorite meals, nutrition the max. Thursday is sandwich night, it always has been, I’m just changing it up a little… adding in a soup or a salad occasionally. Friday is pizza night, but instead of ordering in we make our pizza fresh, last week I made the pizza dough in the morning, stored it in the refrigerator during the day, took it out and let it rise for an hour, then everyone created their own pizza with lots of healthy toppings… it worked well. Well that’s if you don’t include the clear up process. Saturday is baked potato day, I think this maybe my favorite day food wise. And finally Sunday has a loose interpretation of a roast dinner… last week we had two types of pilgrims meatloaf… one with meat and one without, steamed red cabbage and tiny steamed potatoes. Each day has its own theme that can be changed and interpreted in different ways.

In life we need to accept who we are, we need to learn to not be so hard on ourselves, and in my case I need to embrace the lists, organize my life with schedules, I do know one thing, I am a much happier person when I am organized… so this year is all about embracing life… stopping and smelling the roses, enjoying beautiful sunrises at dawn, taking time to sit down and write or drawing, both things that I love to do, making time for yoga or meditating just a little bit longer, eating well and adapting to change… we need to just be ourselves, whoever we may be.

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The festive season

If you like me are trying your hardest to eat a healthy well balanced diet, the festive season can be a bit daunting… breaking that healthy eating plan, eating lots of carbs and sugars that you normally restrict, well I am hear to tell you that you can still feel festive whilst keeping on that clean healthy eating track.

After Thanksgiving I decided I am not falling into the pattern of bad eating over the Christmas period, I’m going to keep on my plan with a few little tweaks here and there, my body will most definitely thank me for it.

When we lived in England our Christmas Day meal was a big thing, I get it, the one day of the year you get to eat that great big roast dinner, turkey, all the trimmings, stuffing, roast potatoes, little sausages wrapped in bacon and in our house a big tray of Yorkshire puddings, the veggies were a side plate and not highly thought of. How times of changed for us, not only do Paul and I not eat the meat, but we don’t make roast potatoes anymore, instead they have been replaced with mashed potatoes and the side of veggies is now the star of the show, but there is also another thing that has changed, this meal is only eaten on Thanksgiving now, once Christmas Day rolls around, not only do I not want to repeat that day of preparation but I don’t want to cook that meal again either… so a new tradition has come about in our house, the Christmas Day brunch, eggs, bacon and sausages for the meat eaters, smoked salmon, lots of veggies, avocados, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and sautéed green leaves. Piles of fluffy pancakes topped with fresh fruit and loaves of crispy sour dough bread… in the Instant Pot is a homemade, low sugar baked bean recipe… all served with a little glass of Prosecco or two. Now that is our main meal of the day… no turkey in sight, all healthy delicious, low carb and definitely low sugar, well if you take out the bread and pancakes… ha ha.

Buddha bowls are a big thing in our house, a bowl of well balanced nutrition, you have your perfectly portioned protein, next to your delicious nutritional carbs and then lots of veggies packing a big punch of vitamins, minerals and just wholesome goodness. So with this in mind I am thinking we could have a festive themed Buddha bowl this year later in the day. I love stuffed squash, so this could definitely feature in my bowl along side a crunchy raw Brussels sprout salad, for the meat eaters little turkey stuffing balls and for the non meat eaters, aka Paul and I, walnut cranberry stuffing balls, all topped with a savory dressing and a selection of crunchy nuts and seeds… sounds good, right?

Back from where I come from, Christmas cookies and big tubs of popcorn are not a thing at this time of year, our stores are filled with all kinds of mince pies and Christmas puddings, ready to be topped with delicious brandy sauce… but on my healthy eating plan, I don’t tend to gravitate towards them, so I was thinking I could make a healthy version of the mincemeat with fresh cranberries, dates and a little coconut sugar, then this could be stuffed into apples and baked in the oven, all topped with a creamy oat milk yogurt, not quite as indulgent, but just as delicious. Of course a healthy olive oil popcorn lightly sprinkled with salt is good too, a healthy festive snack if you live in the US.

NOW WHAT ABOUT THE CHOCOLATE? I hear you cry… tins of Quality Street and Roses dance about in my head, childhood memories mixed with treats of Christmas snowball drinks linger here for a while. Minature Heroes and chocolate covered Brazil nuts all feature in my Christmas’s past and present… but now I totally look at chocolate in a new way, of course we all need a treat, but the way I see it is small portions, tiny chocolates, a few mini peanut cups from Trader Joe’s here and there will never hurt, mix in some healthy raw nuts and you get a great combination, a little sweet mixed with healthy nutrients. So this will be my new treats, even over Christmas, I think a little of what you love is good for your soul, but always remember to add in the good things to help your body process them more efficiently.

The one thing you can be assured of, that is not only healthy, full of vitamin c to help you through this bitterly cold few months, tastes delicious… is satsumas, mandarins and clementines make a healthy festive treat, they always feature in Santa’s stockings, so you know they must be good… Ho Ho Ho.

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It’s all about warm Winter salads this week.

I am often asked how I balance out my menus for so many different diets… my trick is to make a dish that items can be added or taken away, and salads are perfect for this, they are also a great way to change up the seasonal vegetables… Fall and Winter Salads are delicious, lots of roasted squashes, butternut, acorn and even my favorite squash the delicata, switch it up, try different squashes to keep dishes interesting, you can even throw in some sweet potatoes or yams.

Fill your salad with lots of seasonal greens, kale is a firm favorite in my house as long as it’s finely chopped I will add, it is full of nutrition and it works well in a robust winter salad, add in some spinach, and toss in some arugula (rocket) leaves for a little peppery spice. Next on my winter salad is broccoli or cauliflower, chopped finely, again for the fussy eaters in my house, it’s raw and totally delicious, blended with the other ingredients you will hardly know it’s in there.

Add in some carbohydrates, always whole grain as Jamie would say, quinoa is high in protein, farro, barley, wild rice, brown rice, whole grain couscous… your options are limitless, switch it up add potatoes, celeriac is a great choice roasted or add a little whole grain pasta, again so many different shapes and sizes out there.

Keep your portion sizes small for carbs, balance this out with all the glorious veggies out there, you can add ribbons of carrots, chopped red onions, one of my new favorite things to bake and add to salads is the humble beet, add chopped cabbage, red or green it works so well in a robust winter salad, add in some grape tomatoes, thinly sliced asparagus spears… just have fun, think lots veggies and think about eating lots of different colors within your dish.

Well I will put my hand up and say I never used to like fruit in my salad, I don’t know what it was about the sweet and savory combination, but it definitely was not my favorite, fast forward a few years and I love it, it just goes to show if you persist you can grow to love all different kinds of foods… anyway my go to fruit for my winter salad is pomegranate, the juice as you tap those little nutrition packed seeds onto your salad add into the dish to create its own dressing, they are bright and vibrant, and most definitely add a pop of color and nutrition to your plate. Apples and pears are definitely in season right now, so think about slicing or chopping and tossing them throughout your dish to add in some sweetness.

Last but not least is your protein, well this one is easy if you are a meat eater, seared turmeric chicken Jamie Oliver style is one protein that packs a punch of flavor and is an excellent anti inflammatory aiding dish. Perfect pork belly is a fantastic protein to add to a robust winter salad. The list goes on, spicy sausages, apple sausages add a touch of Fall flavor, crispy ground beef, perfectly seared slices of steak… take your pick they are all fantastic to add to any salad dish.

Now if you are a vegetarian or vegan beans and lentils are a perfect accompaniment for your salad, black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans in all shapes and sizes, you can flavor them or you can just toss them in as they are. Now I am a huge lentil fan, red, green, French, I just love lentils, add them into a salad or make a soup to go on the side, they definitely are a great protein for a salad, Spring or Summer, Fall or Winter. Of course eggs are not vegan, but they are a powerhouse of nutrition, boil them and have them on the side of your salad, make an omelette to eat with your salad, either way eggs are good with everything. Avocados, what can I say, it’s protein packed along with other nutrition, it’s most definitely delicious and I know Florrie, Mabel and I could eat them all day and every day… add them to salad and you will most definitely be smiling.

In my house we are split with dressings and toppings, some of us love a good salad dressing, some of us like it creamy, some of us like it acidic, some of us even like our salad dry with no dressing… WHAT? I know that is crazy right? Whatever way we like our salad dressing, just make it healthy and delicious. I always leave my salad undressed, then everyone gets to choose how they want to eat it. Toppings are the same, some people do not like nuts, other like seeds, have fun add some crunch to your salad your way, think sesame or hemp seeds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, nuts, nuts and more nuts, throw on whatever you have in and crunch away.

I could eat salad every day, that combined with a good yummy comforting soup is perfect Winter food for me… here are a few ideas to help plan your meals for this week, remember always have fun, get your children chopping, get them to help with each recipe, what I find in my house is if they have contributed to making our meal they are more willing to try it.

Tomato farro salad

Harvest salad

Warm Winter salad

Superb squash soup

Spiced parsnip and lentil soup with chili oil

English onion soup

Salads are a great way to eat the rainbow, they can be a complete meal with all of your food groups on one plate. Something that Jamie said in his Superfoods show was to add feta over your salad, not too much, think of it as a seasoning, that is most definitely my new way of thinking, another quick tip is to turn a can of garbanzo beans into hummus, spread it onto your plate and place your salad on top, a great protein , with great flavor… however you make your salad, have fun, chop away, different shapes and sizes, add texture and color, your body will definitely love you for it. ♥️

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A new beginning… its all about what we eat.

A while ago a friend on facebook gave me an idea… we are all becoming much more aware of eating healthier, in my family we have some health issues that need to be addressed and I am a firm believer in, we are what we eat, so its time to address those issues and get healthy again… so back to that idea, it was an idea to inspire others with a menu plan for each week, basically what we eat, we are vegetarian, we are plant based, we eat meat eaters, we are pre-diabetic and we are a clean healthy eating family… so here we go, my guide to eating healthily with a few tips here and there on other things, like reducing our waste, getting a huge bang for our buck with our groceries, becoming more eco friendly and how we can get our children not only excited by food but cooking too.

Welcome to my kitchen, I definitely am not a trained chef, I am not a nutritionist, I am an experienced Mom of 8 children, some grown up, some still in school and some still very small, we homeschool, we bake fresh bread and baked goods and we most definitely cook from scratch, fresh produce is a priority, and as much organic food as we can buy and we can afford is always number one on my list.

I have a family of very picky eaters, many years ago when my older children were much younger, I became proficient in adding in veggies into everything I made, I secretly cooked and blended a variety of healthy produce, then added them into my meals, although these days there has been many a cook book about how to do this, I was most definitely all about this many years ago… and still to this day, even though many of my children are older I still from time to time sneak the odd veggie or legume into a dish… I am all about nutrition and if I have to, I will lie, steal or sneak the vitamins and minerals into any dish.

I have gone from meal planning for 7 day increments to 3 days, with 10 people to cook for, 3 days is more manageable, not only to plan for, but to shop for.  The main priority is getting a balanced healthy diet, at all times.  I am a big Jamie Oliver fan, always have been, and always will be, after a few years break from watching his shows since moving to the US, I have recently been catching up on his newer shows, internet tv makes streaming his shows so much easier these days, he is so passionate about what he does, and his love for food is crazy, I am totally inspired to begin my own journey with health all over again.

I have three things in life that I am truly passionate about, number one is my family always, and joint second place is photography, I have taught myself how to take my camera off of auto mode and also how to use photoshop over the last 3 years, no mean feat believe me,  also, something many people may not really know is my passion for all things food, and this is my joint second place, cooking and eating healthily, the nutrition, what we need to fuel our bodies in the best way possible, I am so passionate about it, it has been suggested by several of my family members that I should train to be a nutritionist, I read so much all the time on the subject I am starting to wonder if they are right.

So lets begin now you know a little bit about me… this week is all about the soups for me, Winter is upon us, comfort foods to the max, having a warm nutritious soup on hand is always good for lunches, and even dinner, and I am all about the sides and what can I dip in that bowl of goodness.  I am all about reducing the fat these days, lowering our carbs and also bringing down the sugar content, once upon a time I would not have worried too much about adding sugar, these days I am always thinking of ways to reduce or add a natural sugar that is low on the glycemic index.  I have read several articles recently about how our bodies use the nutrition we put into them, what I was totally surprised about was how quickly some carbohydrates that we eat are turned into sugar in our bodies, making not all carbs equal, and the same for sugars, it appears that not all sugars are equal either.

Sometimes I love to experiment with recipes, but when I have a time crunch I am all for tried and tested recipes, although I have been known to mess around with a recipe from time to time, change ingredients, add in this and that… cooking is most definitely all about fun.

Soup number 1 for this week… an old favorite, very simple to make and very healthy… carrot and coriander soup.  I took the recipe and made it in my instant pot, a recent favorite purchase of mine, it makes cooking soup a breeze, you can start by sautéing your veggies then switch to pressure cooking, I loaded all the ingredients except the dairy and cilantro into the bowl, sealed it and set it to pressure cook for 3 minutes, you can then get on with other things whilst this wondrous machine does its thing… once it was finished I added in some oat milk, my favorite non dairy milk and the fresh cilantro, oh and let’s not forget at this point we need to season to taste, I then got my stick blender and in no time at all we had a delicious bowl of nutrition.

One cup of chopped carrots…

  • 52 calories
  • 12.26 grams (g) of carbohydrate
  • 3 g of sugars
  • 1.19 g of protein
  • 0.31 g of fat
  • 3.6 g of fiber
  • 1069 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A
  • 7.6 vitamin C
  • 42 mg of calcium
  • 0.38 mg of iron
  • 15 mg of magnesium
  • 45 mg of phosphorus
  • 410 mg of potassium
  • 88 mg of sodium
  • 0.31 mg of zinc
  • 24 mcg of folate
  • 16.9 mcg of vitamin K

Making them a power house of super charged nutrition.

Soup number 2 for this week… another favorite, usually around Thanksgiving or Christmas time, using up the ham hock for flavor, these days the ham hock has been replaced with liquid smoke or sweet smoked paprika to replace that taste, but still as delicious and most definitely as nutritious… spit pea soup, vegetarian style.  I have made split pea soup for many years now, it is my husbands favorite over the years especially around Christmas time when we have had a ham, we use the bone with some of the meat still attached and cook it within the soup, these days my husband is a vegetarian so I needed to replace that smokey ham taste with something, and Smokey paprika is my favorite replacement. Split Peas will provide you with 21 grams of fiber and 28 grams of protein, among loads of other nutritional goodness, making it a fantastic winter comfort food soup.

Both soups are full of goodness, very budget friendly and you will be eating it for days to come, we just change up the sides, sometimes a roasted veggie sandwich with sourdough bread toasted, sometimes crackers and cheese, sometimes roasted squash or sweet potato wedges, today we had a quinoa salad with nuts, berries and roasted squash on the side, now I cannot claim to have made this one, but I know this guy called Trader Joe that can make life a little simpler sometimes.

‘[‘Tomorrow we are heading out for brunch, a great place we know, all made from scratch and all farm to table, my favorite.  I will be putting a lentil bolognese in the slow cooker for when we get home, some of us will have this with pasta and ground sausage, the rest of us will have it with roasted butternut squash wedges and a green salad.

Well that is what we are eating for the next few days, low carb, low sugar, but always healthy and nutritious, I try to incorporate seasonal fruits and veggies, so right now we are eating lots of squashes, pomegranates, apples and pears, all full of flavor and packed with lots of nutrition… (just a little hint, keep all those veggie scraps, do not throw anything away including the seeds from the butternut squash, freeze them ready for an awesome homemade, ultra budget friendly, almost free broth made in your slow cooker or instant pot, recipe to follow soon) Be happy and stay warm… and remember eat the rainbow. 🌈

 

 

 

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Updated… almost Vegan, but not quite.

I’ve made a lot of vegan meals and experimented with vegan ingredients in old favorite recipes since I’ve been back from vacation… I have to say without a doubt they have all been delicious, using egg substitutes in waffles and baking was easy, and cutting down on oil in cakes using apple sauce has worked well, although I have been doing that for quite a while… I can even say the vegan, soy free provolone cheese is ok as long as it’s melted, but it’s good for that odd craving of something melty over your pasta or in a sandwich.

I plan nutritional breakfasts for Paul to take to work with him every day, this is one of my favorites gluten free, now vegan waffles, of course if you add dairy chocolate it makes it not vegan but as Paul is in no way vegan I treated him to a few chocolate nibbles to go with the unsweetened coconut on top of his waffles. I have made him vegan, dairy and gluten free breakfast every morning for the past two weeks including a vegan omelette and he has not complained once. I try to make my breakfast for the day with enough for two then Paul has it the next day… it’s worked well so far.

I have been almost dairy free for many years now, using nut or plant based milks in everything, but I had never thought to make it myself… until I started researching this Vegan trend, it was a complete surprise just how easy it was, you take your nuts or seeds and soak them for a few hours then you blend them in a blender with water, the amount of water depends on the consistency you require, I was making a cashew nut cream so obviously the liquid was less, but the outcome was delicious and I have used it in all my recipes instead of cream or yogurt. I also made a broccoli cream soup using the same technique, as you cooked your broccoli in broth you had sunflower seeds cooking with it soaking in the broth, once the broccoli was cooked you blended everything together including the sunflower seeds giving a nice creamy soup consistency… just delicious.

Now as any Vegetarian/Vegan knows a plant based diet includes a lot of chopping and prepping and when you have a super large family you need a little helping hand… I was on Facebook one day and this super fast chopping machine was being advertised, well I’m not usually one to watch the shopping channel or get hooked into buying something on screen, but this had me hooked, Paul was trying to tell me he found chopping therapeutic, but I guess when you do it once in a while it could be, but day after day, it really is not so much fun, or indeed therapeutic, so I took the plunge and ordered it… Paul was worried I would slice my finger on the blades and his worries were not unfounded as within the first 24 hours of owning my Veggie Bullet I have sliced my thumb twice, but you learn very quickly from your mistakes. After a shaky start, slicing my thumb, using the wrong lids for slicing and spiralizing, I have finally mastered my veggie bullet and I love it, there is quite a bit to wash up but my plan is to prep my veggies once a week looking at all my recipes… onions sliced thinly in seconds, eggplant sliced in less seconds than it took me to wash it, sweet potatoes spiralized before I could even heat the oil… it’s crazy and I will use it for a weeks worth of chopping preparation each week, with only one wash up required for the whole week.

So far each recipe I have made has been very tasty and nutritious, we have had Vietnamese noodle bowls, roasted veggie bowls, green lentil and spinach curry, roasted tomato soup with roasted rosemary potatoes, creamy broccoli soup, super easy green pasta and tonight we are having black bean taquitos with an enchilada sauce… each meal I make has to be planned with precision, gluten free, dairy free and a meat protein to accompany the dish, as I cannot make everyone give up meat, even though I would secretly love that and my food budget would sigh with relief if I didn’t have to include meat. Even when I made a creamy broccoli pasta no one guessed it did not contain milk or cheese, the roasted tomato soup was full of flavor and the broccoli soup was creamy just by using sunflower seeds, so even the veggie haters in my house have enjoyed the vegan dishes plus a little meat on the side for good measure.

On a final note… I came across this Pumpkin oatmeal cookie recipe when baking with my children the other day, I’ve never used arrowroot in my baking before and I wasn’t sure about it, but these gluten free, dairy free, vegan cookies were so delicious not one person guessed quite how healthy they actually were.

Am I going to declare myself a Vegan? Not quite, my love of sushi and a good cheeseboard occasionally are something I just don’t want to give up… but on the whole, day to day it feels good to eat like this, healthy, nutrition that is plant based, it is definitely much easier than I thought to leave out the dairy, including cheese and eggs, the recipes are delicious and flavorful… so almost a Vegan is just good enough for me.

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Do we really need a label for the way choose our diet?

Food and nutrition are a very important part of my life… I was a vegetarian in my teens, but then slipped into eating meat again as I had a family to cook for… in all honesty though I really don’t love meat and it is so easy for me to not eat it at all, being a vegetarian is easy for me but I can’t fully commit as I love fish, I don’t eat a lot but I totally still have it sometimes… I guess if we have to label it, I am a pescatarian, but as I hate labels I’m not going to go there with that one.

We have just returned from a trip back to England to visit family and friends, my husbands family seem to have all become Vegans, well not all of them but two of his siblings and their families… the thing I observed about Vegans is that it really is a trend at the moment, and new Vegans, not saying all new Vegans of course, seem to have to announce to everyone that they are Vegan and talk constantly about being a Vegan, I was wondering why that is, but it also had me intrigued, I have issues with dairy myself, I’ve replaced most dairy products in my diet and have found more comfort in my digestive system, but I do eat cheese occasionally and eggs most days… so being the researcher I am I decided to see if I could replace these things from my diet completely without missing them too much.

What I have found is very interesting… it seems on first glance that most vegan recipes are nutritionally balanced, the seasoning and flavors are enhanced to give delicious flavors and my favorite beans and lentils feature heavily. Eggs are replaced with a garbanzo bean flour batter and tofu scramble, cheese flavor is replaced with nutritional yeast, totally a healthy additive to use in your cooking. Egg replacements, like flax or chia seed egg are used in baking… so I’m set to change the way I cook and bake… no label for me though as this healthy eating Mama still loves her fish occasionally.

My first day back with jet lag still looming I made two vegan soups, one for lunch and one in the evening to go with grilled sandwiches… my lunch soup was delicious, Sweet potato and rice noodle soup with broccoli and white beans success, it was delicious and my husband had no idea it was Vegan, in the afternoon I set the broccoli, 2 cups of vegan broth, 2 cups of water and raw sunflower seeds in my slow cooker, I set it to cook for 3 hours on high, the Easiest cream of broccoli and cauliflower soup recipe really was, I finished the soup by blending the ingredients for 3 minutes in my blender, replacing it into the slow cooker and adding the remaining ingredients to warm through again… it was the best broccoli soup I’ve ever made, minus the cauliflower as I couldn’t get any organic cauliflower from the grocery store. For grilled sandwiches everyone except me had warm chicken and cheese, I decided to try vegan provolone cheese slices with my gluten free bread… after I melted the cheese and toasted the bread I really couldn’t tell a lot of difference with the cheese… again another success and I have leftovers for my lunch today, another win for me.

Today we started our day with waffles, gluten free, dairy free, egg free and Vegan, I took my favorite basic waffle mix and changed it slighly…

Serves 4 people

Each serving 2 waffles 188 calories

1/4 cup almond flour

3/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour

1/2 cup cashew nut milk (use whatever dairy free milk you have in)

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon of agave

2 teaspoons of GF baking powder

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon of vegan egg substitute and 2 tablespoons of water mixed together

1 tablespoon of milled flax seed

Blend all ingredients together until your batter is smooth… place 1/4 cup into your heated and oiled waffle make, close the lid and wait… when they are risen and golden serve with whatever you desire… as we just got back from vacation we had very little in our house, so I served ours with almond butter, cinnamon sunflower seeds and coconut toasted flakes… delicious and super nutritious.

I am now totally converted after making a vegan omelette with garbanzo bean flour, the chickpea and onion omelette is now a firm replacement for using eggs, I added nutritional yeast for a little cheese flavor and served it with toasted gluten free bread, a healthy protein packed breakfast all under 200 calories… the options are endless on this one!

It will be an interesting experiment, let’s see if anyone notices a change in the menus… I will still cook a meat protein to go with the meals, but I will be curious to see if anyone notices the very slight change… of course sushi days will still happen for me and I will still eat some gorgeous fish too, but I’m looking forward to eliminating dairy completely just for a while 🤞