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 🎉

Diet and nutrition, Uncategorized

Paleo lifestyle

Ive been playing around with a Paleo lifestyle for a while, it’s hard when you have no kitchen to be fully into it, it’s so easy to say I’ll grill some sausages and stick them in a bun just because you don’t have countertops, an oven, Stove top or dishwasher, but really right now I’m a little more equipped to start it full time, I have some countertops, soon to be a a lot of countertop space, I have the grill, a microwave and a multi task slow cooker, what more does a girl want?  My kitchen stuff is all still packed away, but I now have pantry space to buy and store ingredients like apple cider vinegar, coconut oil and all the staples for nutrition that I have there to hand usually, and my refrigerator is looking more sparse now I have cleared out all the pantry stuff I had no storage space for.

Against all grains blueberry pancakes.

I am resuming my organic delivery once again this week Door to Door Organics, I love  to buy organic when I can and this delivery service is great for all things organic, I’ve been putting it on hold most weeks but it’s time to get my Paleo lifestyle kicked up a notch.

I’ve also cheated a little bit with my menu planning, I found a website with some Paleo recipes and I have just used these, so here we go, here is my menu plan for the coming week…

Deconstructed hamburger salad

Mexican breakfast for dinner

Easy taco soup

Loaded nachos 

Tomato basil chicken

Spicy sausage soup

Left over night… My favorite night.

As with everything in life, things are never easy, and my family don’t make cooking for them easy at all, I have several picky eaters, myself who doesn’t really eat meat and then others who eat everything.  How do I cope with this I hear you ask when you are cooking for such a large family, well I have just learnt to adapt my cooking technique, meat cooked separately and added after to soups and some casseroles, veggies added after I’m dished up certain meals… You do what you can, and I will try to simplify this menu and make it work for everyone and their tastes as I go along.

Of course not everyone in my family wants to be Paleo, and although I think everyone will benefit from a little of this in their diet, I fully understand that I need to add a carbohydrate to our protein and veggies, so I will serve up a separate side dish with every meal, sometimes it will be noodles, other times rice, tortilla chips or even bread, whatever suits the meal I’m serving and also makes my life easier.

Feeding a large family the healthy way can be a challenge sometimes, but with a little planning it can work out in the end.

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Gestational diabetes? Maybe…

I have to say this pregnancy has not been one of my best, I don’t think it’s my age because when I had Farrel at 27, I remember feeling the same… I blame those boys, I seemed to sail through both of my girls pregnancies! I have been waiting patiently for my pregnancy bloom, but it just hasn’t happened, so at 30 weeks I am resigned to 9 more weeks (c section at 39 weeks) of just making the best of how I feel!

Last week after taking the glucose test I was urgently called into my doctors office… Low iron and a high sugar in my blood… Alarm bells… Gestational diabetes… That explains exactly how I have been feeling and looking! Thankfully my OB wanted me to try the diet route first, I was happy about that… High protein, low sugar, low carbs… Basically limited whole wheat carbs or gluten free, lots of protein and very little sugar, fruit included! Now I thought this would be easy, but the first few days were tough… It is surprising how many things we buy and eat that are bad carbs and very sugary, but thankfully we have the internet and Pinterest these days… Life on a special diet does not have to boring, the recipes are endless, and as I am making everyone in my house eat these foods, for ease of planning and cooking, I am getting into full swing… Tonight we have a delicious egg and baked tomato with pesto with a spinach salad and quinoa mix… Lots of protein and iron rich spinach!

After a lot of research over the weekend I have bought blue agave as a sweetener, tofu, I love tofu, very low sugar nut bars for a snack, blue corn chips are meant to be good for blood sugar levels as long as they are not fried, but baked… It has been very interesting to understand how the body works… Protein seems to be a key ingredient along with lots of veggies in most special diets, so this is my thoughts on planning my diet over the coming weeks!

Breakfast seems to be the most difficult to plan and eat well, as I am usually rushing out somewhere, so with this in my mind I have researched one of my favorites baked oatmeal, I can place all the ingredients for a pumpkin baked oatmeal into the Ninja and just switch it on in the morning! Pumpkin is meant to be a super food for diabetics, along with cinnamon and nutmeg, of course we all know that oatmeal is a very slow release complex carb that is good for all diets, making this a perfect breakfast, full of energy and nutrition, it can be made dairy free by using coconut or almond milk and by simply using gluten free oats it becomes gluten free!

Pumpkin pie oatmeal in the slow cooker
My changes to this recipe are… instead of the brown sugar I will add only 1/4 cup of blue agave sweetener, and to replace the pumpkin pie spices I will add cinnamon and nutmeg. Also an addition of a tablespoon of non fat Greek yoghurt adds much needed protein to your nutritious breakfast too!

The moral of this story is when you are feeling very sorry for yourself, as I was last week and finding it difficult to cope with diet changes… Positive thinking and lots of research can make you feel much better, after not eating well on Saturday and feeling dreadful and ending up in bed early on Saturday evening, I am determined to get my blood sugars reduced by just diet alone, I hate taking medication and feel it should definitely be used after trying natural methods for most things… On the plus side we are eating really well now, lots of raw vegetables and complex carbs, paired with lean proteins… Delicious!

On a quick side note… If you are trying to live your life more healthier, or have been diagnosed with a disease that requires a special diet… Go grocery shopping in Costco, over the past few months they have introduced so many new organic healthy choices, all at good competitive prices. Over the past few weeks the new items I have bought are, freekah, a healthy grain like quinoa, very low sugar snacking nut bites, ancient grain spelt flour pretzels, a quinoa and healthy rice mix… Everything has been organic too, which is a big plus in my book! My other faves are their baby kale mixed salad, their own fat free Greek yoghurt, full of protein and now they actually have a very reasonably priced large bottle of avocado oil! There is so much more organic choices to choose from… It’s well worth a visit!

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Recipes to try…
Black and wild rice salad with roasted squash
Olive rosemary bread

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Changes…

Wow… It’s only taken me 45 years to realize how important our diet really is to our well being, after being an anorexic teenager and suffering from IBS on and off for many years, I am finally understanding binge eating chocolate and chips, then starving yourself is so bad for you… Duh! With recent events in our household the stress levels meant I did not eat for over a week, this has triggered the horrible symptoms of IBS to rear its ugly head again… So it’s time to squash this thing once and for all… I am very good at preaching a healthy diet to others, but to actually practice it for myself is another thing… Every morning I make an ultra healthy salad for Paul’s lunch, but then when it comes to lunch time I binge snack on all the bad things I can find because I cannot be bothered to throw a simple healthy lunch together for myself… Well it’s time to change the bad habits of a lifetime!

One of my thoughts in rehabilitating myself is to buy a juicer, it’s a thought at the moment, but maybe I will find it easier to drink lots of fruit instead of just looking at it in the bottom of my fridge … Thoughts from everyone would be appreciated here… Good, bad or just a complete waste of money? When I’m hungry and in need of a snack, I automatically reach for something unhealthy, whatever is easiest really, I don’t think oh that apple looks yummy, I will eat that!

One of the things recommended to Jordan recently by his Gastro doctor for good digestive health was Activia, probiotic yogurts, I often look at them in stop and shop, but this week I actually bought them, I am trying to have one for breakfast every day, this is my second day and I do have to say yesterday I did feel less bloated, but that may have just been my imagination because I want them to help… I will continue to have them for breakfast and see if it does help and make me feel better!

My grocery shopping has changed over recent years, we went to Trader Joes last weekend and I noted that almost half of my bill was actually organic fruit and vegetables, also my dry goods were mainly brown organic rice products or fully gluten free, our snacks were more healthy granola bars… In years past the refined processed products would have filled my cart… Much to my older children’s frustration our pantry and refrigerator is now 80% healthy organic produce and grains… Now I need to really start eating this stuff myself, not just giving it to my family, then binge eating all day on the cheese that sits in the fridge door!

I am also trying hard to reduce my stress levels… Difficult in our house, believe me… My Mum’s brother has always said ‘don’t worry about things that may never happen’, well this is my new motto in life, I have spent my whole life worrying about anything and everything, so now I am trying to live one day at a time, deal with that day and then move on… Easier said than done, but I am trying!

Have a great day… Look for the positives and not the negatives around you… And just be happy!

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