Diet and nutrition, plant based diet, recipes, Uncategorized

Inspired by others…

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I am totally inspired by so many people on social media for their recipes, from simple Instagram posts with awesome beautiful photos of gorgeous food, to gorgeous blogs full of healthy recipes, social media can be my go to inspiration for so many meals.  Now let’s not forget my most ultimate favorite chef, going right back to his ‘Naked’ days, he has just got better and better with the years, he is always learning new techniques, changing and evolving with everything he does and that is why I will always love Jamie Oliver and his awesome recipes too.

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I want to talk today about a few of my favorite cooking people on the World Wide Web, from plant based meals to Mediterranean recipes, I love them for so many different reasons.  I’m going to start with a woman I follow on Instagram, I originally started to follow her because I loved her home, she was based in Japan where her husband was stationed, a military family that has now moved to the beautiful country that is Italy.  Now this woman not only takes beautiful photos, her home is so simple but absolutely gorgeous, and the food she cooks leaves my mouth watering, it’s simplicity at its finest, but all the ingredients look so fresh, delicious and tasty.  One of my most favorite things she made recently was a tray of beautiful large olives, she baked them together with bunches of fresh herbs, artichoke hearts, one of my favorite things to eat, beautiful lemon slices and a drizzle of olive oil… I absolutely love baked warm olives, she served it with fresh crusty Italian bread and some cheese… simple indulgence and totally my style of cooking and eating, who needs a fancy meal when this rustic dish has beautiful flavors that make your taste buds sing and dance. If you would like to follow her too, look on Instagram for giosmama2626 I promise you will not be disappointed. 

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Next on my list is Deliciously Ella, plant based awesomeness, I love all her recipes from breakfast creamy mushrooms on crispy sourdough toast to her lentil bolognese. She started out because she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, not wanting to spend the rest of her life on drugs she turned her life around with an awesome healthy diet, managed to ditch the drugs she was on and now she has an awesome restaurant in London, publishes beautiful books and she has recently had a gorgeous baby girl… totally inspiring. Take look at her website https://deliciouslyella.com and follow her on Facebook, I promise you won’t regret it.

I was introduced to Aine Carlin by my sister in-law the last time we were back in the UK visiting, I have one of her cookbooks too… all I can say is if you want a plant based meal her recipes are amazing, of course you could always add in some meat if you want to too, we just love the black bean enchiladas and the lentil curry, both so delicious and so nutritious.  Simple food that tastes so yummy.  Take a look at her website here http://www.peasoupeats.com/ or follow her on Instagram and Pinterest, you will definitely be inspired. 

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Last but not least is the Minimalist Baker, take a look at her blog again you will not be disappointed, her recipes are well thought through they taste delicious and she has something for everyone from recipes with Mediterranean flare to spicy Mexican dishes, sweet treats and baked deserts too.  If you want to browse through her recipes the link is here https://minimalistbaker.com

I think as a cook you need inspiration, cooking is an art, we need to create dishes that not only taste delicious but are pleasing to our eyes, if we lose sight of this, cooking becomes mundane and boring, when I watch Jamie cook he makes me want to eat that dish, he is descriptive in every way, he is totally inspiring.  When I eat food I want my taste buds to begin a happy dance, I want my eyes to be drawn to the colors and most of all I want to want to eat that dish again and again, I want to crave that food, and I want to recreate it over and over.  

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Simple Mediterranean food excites me, the fresh healthy ingredients, spicy Indian dishes sing to me, and Mexican bean dishes with lashes of avocados make me so happy. Whatever you eat, or whatever you make for you or your family, you should be filled with passion for the ingredients you have, fresh and tasty full of nutrients to nourish your body and mind… keep it real and keep it fresh always… go create art!

Diet and nutrition, plant based diet, recipes, Uncategorized

Veganuary

IMG_2722It is officially half way through Veganuary, so let me tell you how it is going…

First off let me tell you it is not as hard as I thought, there are actually so many new plant based items coming into our grocery stores, from delicious butter to perfect smelling and delicious tasting sausages from the company Beyond Meat… on our first day of Veganuary we had a rather indulgent sausage sandwich, not only was it completely plant based but it was all gluten free too… so we were off to a flying start and it was not feeling too much like a vegan diet.

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Now when it comes to cooking normally, I am definitely a cook from scratch kind of girl, no additives, natural, organic cooking… but eating a completely plant based diet and finding delicious recipes has been so easy, even Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey are getting in on the act these days. Pinterest has become my best friend, along with Deliciously Ella, Aine Carlin and Bosh to name a few.

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What have we eaten I hear you ask… well I will give you a little food tour of our two week adventure into plant based eating… breakfasts are usually a potato and sweet potato hash with lots of healthy veggies, I have recently purchased a mung bean scrambled egg product called Just Egg, it scrambles just like eggs and tastes almost the same, its big plus is the amount of protein it adds to your diet, if Paul is traveling into the office I make him a fruit filled chia pudding with added beet powder for nutrition and topped with a little granola for crunch. Lunch is a mixture of leftovers from the night before to soup and sandwiches, soups are very easy to make vegan, substitutions are easy, nut or oat milks replace dairy milk, coconut cream or a non dairy yogurt replaces cream or half and half, garbanzo beans are a perfect replacement for chicken and butter is swapped out with a healthy oil or plant based butter. One of my new favorite lunches is Trader Joes new Crabless Jackfruit patties, with a large salad, they are so good. Dinner is where it is at, so many well thought out nutritious and really delicious recipes to chose from, one of my favorites is a skillet lasagne, but to be honest I am also loving the simple baked potato with a little vegan butter and a huge salad too. Buddha bowls have featured in many of our menu plans… simple nutritious bowls of delicious colors like a Winter buddha bowl and a  Chickpea bowl with a spicy peanut sauce. Of course it is always good to have a sweet treat and eating a plant based diet does not mean you cannot do that… like these delicious Fudgy Vegan Brownie Cookies, I did not have the aqua faba, so I substituted it for a flax egg and it worked perfectly, they were so good even my children ate them and did not suspect for even a minute that they were totally vegan.

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Now onto how I am feeling in myself… since the beginning of December when we purchased our treadmill I have lost 10 lbs, I gained 3 lbs over the Christmas period, so I guess in total I have lost 13 lbs because I had to lose that weight again, I think the combination of diet and exercise is the reason, I use the treadmill 6 days a week and have eaten a nutritional plant based diet that I calorie count each day. I have cut down my sugar intake but I am stilling enjoying a glass or two of wine, we found out that our favorite red wine is actually totally vegan and our favorite chocolate sweet treat is vegan too, so win, win when you want a little treat here and there.  Apart from a very bad reaction to some sour dough bread I bought for the first time ever in Trader Joes on Sunday, where on two separate occasions of eating it I became very sick, shaking, heart palpations, difficulty breathing and feeling so cold, I am feeling good, I have no bloating at all, my head feels very clear and very focused, I seem to have more energy than I have had for a long time.  Now Paul will tell anyone that will listen how being a vegetarian for 11 months has helped him feel better too, his health has seemed to improved a great deal. Over these past two weeks Paul has been 98% vegan, he has had no eggs and a very tiny portion of cheese when he grabbed a small slice of pizza and ate it before he realized what he had done, I too had a small slip up with some salted movie popcorn Florrie bought back from her outing with Dom, I was happily munching away when I was informed they had put butter all over it, hopefully not too much had gone on the bottom kernels.

At the moment Veganuary is going strong for Paul and I, I really don’t mind substituting vegan cheese for the odd grilled cheese sandwich to go with a large bowl of creamy broccoli soup or making a beautiful Black Bean Plantain Enchilada Bake from the Minimalist Baker, I am also good at adjusting the odd Jamie Oliver recipe and turning it into a plant based delight.

 

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Baking…

I love to bake, I love making sweet treats for my family… but with a new oven to deal with it’s been difficult getting those cakes to rise and stay risen, so finally yesterday I googled the reason that cakes keep sinking in the middle, one of the causes could be the oven is too hot, the cake cooks from the outside in, so the cake is cooked and browned outside but the middle is not so it sinks… makes perfect sense, so I’m thinking a little experimentation is in order. 

With three Birthdays this month I needed to enlist my little bakers help, the first one was  this weekend, so we set about a nice easy Victoria Sponge recipe from Mary Berry, an easy mix all ingredients go in, mix together then divide equally into two 8 inch baking tins, bake at 350f for 25 minutes… both cakes looked good in the oven they rose nicely then just before they were due to come out they both sank in the middle… REALLY, I couldn’t believe it.  I sent Blu out for more eggs and started again.

I decided to switch recipes, this time a Victoria sandwich recipe from Jamie Oliver, his cake was a little more in ingredient weight and dial up the heat on the oven to 375f… this time the butter and sugar were beat together then the eggs added one by one, finally a gentle mixing in of the dry ingredients… once again both cakes looked good in the oven but just as the timer went off both cakes sunk in the middle… REALLY again!


Time to get GOOGLE working for me… ‘why are my cakes sinking in the middle?’


I had to use one set of cakes and after I added strawberry buttercream, fresh chopped strawberries and grated chocolate it really didn’t look so bad… my little helpers did a fantastic job of adding ingredients, counting the eggs, mixing, chopping strawberries, making chocolate drizzled strawberries and most importantly eating all the strawberries before they had a chance of going in the cake, that was the best part of all of this… for now I see a lot of experimentation of cake temperatures in my new oven… Happy Baking 🎂