One Week Into Veganuary!

Vegan stir-fry with spring rolls and wontons

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I’m a week into my first Veganuary, so how do I feel? Have I missed eggs and dairy? Have I lost any weight? The answers to these questions are:

  • no different;
  • no;
  • and no.

Was I expecting to feel any different or to miss eggs and dairy or to lose weight? The answers to these questions are:

  • maybe;
  • maybe; and
  • hell, yeah.

In relation to the ‘hell, yeah’, with regard to my weight – I wasn’t expecting a vegan diet to help me lose weight, especially when my diet over the last week has consisted of tacos, pizza, pie and mash, potato wedges, Oreos, Oat Flips, crisps and chocolate but, considering I haven’t had any alcohol this year yet and it’s Janathon, I thought I might have lost a pound or so but, alas, I started January weighing 10st 4¼ and that’s exactly what I weighed this morning.

I can honestly say I haven’t missed eggs or dairy (I don’t consume much of either anyway), but as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I haven’t got any plans to eat out and that’s when I’ll struggle, especially if I’m out with a group I go walking with as it’s rare enough finding something vegetarian on the menu in the pubs we go to after – if I asked for something vegan, the owners would probably kick me out the door and bolt it behind me.

The only difference having a vegan diet has made to a normal week is checking labels for milk and eggs, and remembering not to buy any Quorn products (yes, I know there are a couple of vegan Quorn products in the UK now, but I haven’t found them yet). There’s been no hunger, disruption, inconvenience or side effects – all is good!

So, here’s what I ate on Veganuary Day 7:

Breakfast

Spinach, clementine, apple and coconut water Nutriblast
Spinach, clementine, apple and coconut water Nutriblast

Yep, my usual Nutriblast. I’ve taken to drinking my morning blasts in the front room, reading my Kindle, with my cat on my lap. Not a bad start to the day.

Lunch

Vegan salad sandwich in a Warburtons Thin
Salad sandwich in a Warburtons Thin

I couldn’t decide what to have for lunch. I didn’t fancy a Nutriblast and I was saving the tofu for a stir-fry, so I ended up having a salad sandwich containing spinach, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, olives and home made hummus in a Warburtons Sandwich Thin (please forgive the nasty 70s-inspired photo).

Dinner

Vegan stir-fry with spring rolls and wontons
Vegan stir-fry with spring rolls and wontons

Despite saving the tofu for the stir-fry, I got caught up writing yesterday’s post, so The Meat Eater said he’d cook dinner but didn’t know what to do with the tofu, so that got left out. Still, this stir-fry with mushrooms, mange tout, baby sweetcorn, red peppers and beansprouts was seriously filling. The vegetables were fried in peanut oil for a few minutes, then two sachets of Blue Dragon Spicy Szechuan Tomato Stir-Fry Sauce was added. Accompanying the stir-fry were rice noodles – instead of the usual egg ones I buy – and Tesco Mini Vegetable Spring Rolls and Tesco Sweet & Sour Vegetable Wontons (and I wonder why I don’t lose weight).

Snacks

Vegan hot chocolate and Oreos
Vegan hot chocolate and Oreos

After falling over on the way to the gym, I went home and sulked and drank hot chocolate and ate Oreos (okay, so *this* is why I don’t lose any weight).

So, that’s week one of Veganuary done – if you’re also taking part, please leave me a comment and let me know how you’re getting on – I’d love to hear from you.

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Veganuary 2016 – Day 6

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Veganuary Day 6 and I haven’t leapt face-first with my mouth open into the cheese counter at Tesco because of any overwhelming cheese-addiction withdrawal pangs – hurrah! Not that I was expecting to; although, seeing as I’ve used Violife vegan cheese three times already during Veganuary, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’ve got a bit of a thing about cheese.

Where I would find cheese tempting, however, is in restaurants but, as old Billy-no-mates me hasn’t got any nights out planned for January, temptation shouldn’t get in my way. I did, however, meet a friend at lunchtime yesterday in Wetherspoons and checked the menu beforehand, in case we were going to eat. Do you know what one of the first things on the Wetherspoons menu is? It’s halloumi. Yeah, halloumi. You know, halloumi – one of my most favourite food things ever. So, I thought I might get some chips (even though I read here yesterday that the chips in Wetherspoons are barely vegetarian as, even though some of the branches cook the chips separately to meat, the oil is all filtered together at the end of the day, so there’s always going to be a problem with cross-contamination) but the 955 calories put me off. I’m not a calorie-dodger on the whole but 955 CALORIES IN ONE PORTION OF CHIPS? Jeez.

Calories in a bowl of chips from Wetherspoons
Calories in chips from Wetherspoons

You can filter the menu on the Wetherspoons website to show only vegan menu items. There aren’t many, I can tell you. If you filter down the burger category, you’re offered the avocado topping and BBQ sauce – that’s just the avocado topping and BBQ sauce, not the burger. Woo.

Still, it wasn’t really relevant to my particular circumstances at the time, as I didn’t think we were going to eat but I just wanted to have a nose anyway, out of interest. What I did want was some hot chocolate and although when I filtered out hot drinks containing milk on the website, hot chocolate was left, I was sceptical and thought I’d be brave and ask when I got there.

It may not sound like a big deal to you, asking the bar staff if something’s vegan but, although I’ve been vegetarian for 24 years and have no problem asking if something is vegetarian, I’ve always felt shy/embarrassed about asking if something’s vegan. I don’t know exactly why this is – maybe it’s because I’m not a vegan and feel like I shouldn’t be asking if something’s vegan, or maybe I’m just too timid. Anyway, I was brave and asked the barman if the hot chocolate contained milk and he said yes, it did. Bah. Still, the pint of lime and soda I bought instead was a lot cheaper at just 80p.

Anyway, back to my food diary and, for breakfast, I had a – yes, you guessed it – a Nutriblast. This morning’s one was my usual spinach, clementine, apple, chia seeds and coconut water. You’re only getting a bog-standard photo today though, not a pretty one, sorry. I gave my inner David Bailey (or should that be Lebovitz?) the day off.

Spinach, clementine, apple and coconut water Nutriblast
Spinach, clementine, apple and coconut water Nutriblast

As mentioned above, lunch was two pints of lime and soda in Wetherspoons, then I came home and had hot chocolate and an Oat Flip. Oats are healthy, yeah?

Green & Black's hot chocolate and an Oat Flip
My healthy lunch

For dinner we had tacos. Tacos are my new favourite thing (after halloumi, obvs), ever since Old El Paso sent me their Stand ‘n’ Stuff Soft Taco Kit to review. On top of the tacos, I had some grated Violife and a couple of blobs of home-made vegan sour cream (for more information on the sour cream, see my first Veganuary post). I accompanied the tacos with home-made spicy potato wedges and steamed broccoli and green beans. I’ll share the recipes for the tacos and home-made wedges with you below.

Vegan tacos with home-made spicy wedges
Vegan tacos with home-made spicy wedges

Vegan Tacos
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Please note this is a rough indication of the ingredients - I didn't actually measure anything, so go by your own instincts.
Author:
Recipe type: Mexican
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 Old El Paso Soft Stand 'n' Stuff Taco Shells (heated as per packet instructions)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g vegan mince (I used Tesco's own meat-free mince)
  • 2 tbsp Old El Paso Taco Seasoning
  • 50ml water
  • 2 baby onions, sliced
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the baby onions and fry for a few minutes until soft.
  2. Add the vegan mince and fry for about three to four minutes.
  3. Add the taco seasoning and water and bring to the boil.
  4. Simmer for about five minutes.
  5. Share the mince between the heated taco shells and top with jalapenos, salsa, salad, cheese and sour cream.

Vegan Spicy Potato Wedges
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Please note the quantities for the ingredients are approximate - I made this up as I went along and didn't measure anything.
Author:
Recipe type: Mexican
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • a few drops of liquid smoke
Instructions
  1. Cook the potato wedges in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then drain and put in a roasting tray.
  2. Mix together the other ingredients and pour over the potato wedges, turning to coat thoroughly.
  3. Bake in the oven at 200C, turning occasionally for approximately 45 minutes.

 

It’s not too late to take part in Veganuary – for more information and to sign up, visit the Veganuary website.

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My First Veganuary – Day 5

Spinach, apple, carrot, clementine, chia seeds, coconut water Nutriblast

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Veganuary Day 5 started off with a Nutriblast as usual (for my review of my Nutribullet, go here) and today’s Nutriblast was a combination of spinach, apple, carrot, clementine, chia seeds and coconut water. I haven’t had a carrot in a Nutriblast before but I had half of one left over from Monday’s stew, so I chucked it in. I’ve said before, it doesn’t seem to matter what I chuck in my Nutribullet, it always turns out fine, unlike when you juice without a recipe to guide you and it turns out like swamp water (she says, immediately before posting a photo of something resembling swamp water).

Spinach, apple, carrot, clementine, chia seeds, coconut water Nutriblast
Spinach, apple, carrot, clementine, chia seeds and coconut water Nutriblast

Lunch 

Lunch was another Nutriblast but, unlike my breakfast ones which I make into more of a juice, I like my lunchtime Nutriblasts to be more substantial and to contain more protein, so I filled up the tall Nutribullet cup with spinach, banana, kiwi fruit, passion fruit, dates, cashews, cacao and topped it up with soya milk and water. This filled me up to the verge of needing an afternoon nap.

Deconstructed Nutriblast
Deconstructed Nutriblast

Dinner

Despite my Facebook friend Pete declaring a pie isn’t a pie unless it’s made of lard (forgive him, he’s northern), dinner was a Linda McCartney Country Pie, mashed potato (mine mashed with soya milk and Vitalite) and baked beans.

Linda McCartney Country Pie, mash and beans
Linda McCartney Country Pie, mash and beans

For a snack, I had hot chocolate and an Oat Flip (see yesterday’s post for hot chocolate and Oat Flip info and photo).

There’s nothing I’ve missed yet (what’s to miss when you can still eat pie and mash, huh?) and I definitely haven’t been hungry – I haven’t been snacking as much as I did before taking part in Veganuary and although I was having a couple of Oreos a day before January, a packet remains unopened in the kitchen (that’s probably because I’ve discovered how nice Oat Flips are).

Come back tomorrow to read about my bravery in Wetherspoons.

 

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My First Veganuary

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I thought Veganuary had been a thing for a number of years but it seems that number is only three, with 2016 being its third year. Which means that I may be fashionably late to the party but not that late. Yay for me.

Veganuary – as you’ll probably guess, if you don’t already know – is a month-long challenge to be vegan throughout the month of January. I did my own Veganuary during July 2008, but as Veganuly sounds more like a venereal disease than a fun food-based challenge, I can see why that didn’t catch on. I only slipped up once during my Veganuly when, one Sunday evening, I fancied something creamy and remembered the Baileys in the fridge, before remembering what exactly made Baileys creamy (clue: it’s cream).

As you’ll know if you’re a regular here (or know me personally), I a) have strong vegan leanings (dietary-wise at least); but b) live with someone who is strongly anti-vegan and who, if he suspects I’ve put something vegan on his plate,  will cover it in salad cream. Which gave me something of a dilemma as someone who a) has strong vegan leanings; and b) loves monthly challenges.

But, I kept hinting I wanted to do Veganuary and the more I hinted at it, the more I wanted to do it and the more The Meat Eater didn’t really seem to mind that much. YAY. I drew up a list of ‘normal’ food that I’d be cooking, to assure him that nothing would really change that much and he wouldn’t be getting anything ‘odd’ like omelettes made out of chickpea flour instead of eggs.

I’m on Day 5 at the moment and all is well. We’ve had pizza, garlic bread, jacket potato with chilli and stew for dinner and my daytimes have been the same as usual with my Nutriblasts – the only thing I’ve had to change is making hot chocolate with vegan cocoa powder and soya milk, instead of boiling a kettle and using the instant stuff that contains milk. No biggie.

Below are photos of everything I’ve eaten so far during Veganuary 2016.

Veganuary 2016 – Day 1

Um, this was New Year’s Day and I was too hungover to eat. I couldn’t even stomach any hot chocolate. Still, 100% is 100%.

Veganuary 2016 – Day 2

Breakfast

Um… might have skipped breakfast… next…

Lunch

Banana, passion fruit, kiwi, dates, cashew smoothie
Banana, passion fruit, kiwi, dates, cashew and cacao smoothie

I’m still using my Nutriblast regularly (even if I did skip breakfast over the holidays) and this banana, passion fruit, kiwi, dates, cashew, cacao, soya milk and coconut water smoothie was not only delicious, it was filling too. A complete meal in a glass (or jar).

Dinner

Tortilla pizza with Violife vegan cheese
Tortilla pizza with Violife vegan cheese

I’ve got to admit, making two pizzas and two lots of garlic bread was a bit of an inconvenience, but an inconvenience that was most definitely worth it. I had Violife vegan cheese on my pizza and made my half of the garlic bread with Vitalite, while The Meat Eater had Cheddar on his pizza, and I made his garlic bread with Flora. The pizza was fab but the garlic bread was a revelation – I’d only ever made homemade garlic bread before with real butter and thought Vitalite wouldn’t quite cut it, but I can honestly say this was better than any garlic bread I’ve ever made or bought in the supermarket.

Here’s my tortilla pizza recipe (swap the mozzarella for vegan cheese, or just leave out).

Vegan garlic bread
Best ever garlic bread – vegan or otherwise

As I said above, this garlic bread was amazing. It’s so easy to make – mix up some crushed garlic and/or garlic powder (I used about 4 cloves of crushed garlic, then added some garlic powder too) with vegan spread (I used Vitalite), slice a part-baked baguette (available in all supermarkets), and thickly spread the slices with the garlic butter and put the slices back together and wrap with foil. Bake in the oven at 180C for about 10 minutes, then unwrap the foil and bake for another 5 minutes, so the bread crisps up.

Snacks

Mini moo vegan chocolate
Mini moo vegan chocolate

My friend Cassie had sent me a selection box of Mini Moo vegan chocolate for my birthday (thank you, Cassie!), so I won’t be going without chocolate this month.

Tesco Mint Thins - accidentally vegan
Tesco Mint Thins – accidentally vegan

I also have a mint chocolate after dinner every night and as Tesco Mint Thins are about a third of the price of After Eights, that’s what we have and, luckily, unlike After Eights, Tesco Mint Thins are vegan. Yayness.

Veganuary 2016 – Day 3

Breakfast

I have no record of having anything for breakfast so either I didn’t have anything or I didn’t write it down or take a photo. Eat something and not take a photo first? I don’t know what the world’s coming to.

Lunch

Vegan peanut butter on toast and hot chocolate
Peanut butter on toast and hot chocolate

I had planned to have a Nutriblast for lunch, then I changed my mind and had peanut butter on toast and hot chocolate instead. Near enough, isn’t it? As mentioned earlier, the only thing I’ve had to change so far is to stop drinking my usual instant hot chocolate and drink cocoa powder and soya milk instead. Which can only be a good thing, taking into consideration just how much crap is in that instant stuff.

(Do you like my cow mug? My friend Gene sent it to me from America.)

Dinner

Jacket potato with vegan chilli, cheese and sour cream
Jacket potato with vegan chilli, cheese and sour cream

Another ‘vegan cheese for me’, ‘Cheddar for The Meat Eater’ meal. The chilli was easy enough, having remembered to check the stock was vegan (did you know some vegetable stock has milk in? Fuck knows why, but it does) and buy Tesco Meat-Free mince, which is vegan (unlike Quorn mince). The cheese was also easy enough, as I still had some Violife in the fridge and, anyway, Tesco sells it. But… sour cream… I love my condiments and didn’t like the idea of going without my usual sour cream topping. So, what’s a girl supposed to do? Yep, make her own. Here it is:

Vegan sour cream using silken tofu
Vegan sour cream

I got the recipe from here – it’s really easy to make and, as a bonus, I had all the ingredients in already, including the coconut nectar. If you don’t have any coconut nectar (I only had some because it had been sent to me, along with some coconut oil, to review), you could use agave nectar or maple syrup instead. Or leave it out all together, I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference.

I’ve got to admit, it’s not exactly the same as sour cream but it’s creamy and tangy and if you – like me – are a condiment lover, then give it a go.

Snacks 

Vegan Winter Berries & Prosecco Crisps from Marks & Spencer
Winter Berries & Prosecco Crisps

I’d had an inkling I’d seen on a vegan Facebook group someone mentioning these crisps at Christmastime, so I checked the ingredients and all seemed okay, but to triple-check, I had a look on the Vegan Womble website and yay, these Winter Berries & Prosecco crisps from Marks & Spencer that I hadn’t finished over Christmas are vegan. But, sod the vegan bit, they contain edible gold stars – what more do you want from a crisp?

Veganuary 2016 – Day 4

Breakfast

Spinach, clementine, apple, chia seeds, coconut water Nutriblast
Spinach, clementine, apple, chia seeds, coconut water Nutriblast

No skipping breakfast for me today. Today’s Nutriblast was a combination of spinach, clementine, apple, chia seeds and coconut water. Did you know you don’t have to core apples before putting them in your Nutribullet? It’ll break the seeds up just fine (so none of that worrying about whole seeds sprouting and turning into trees in your stomach – or was that just my mum who told me that when I was little?)

Lunch

Vegan tofu wrap with salad
Vegan tofu wrap with salad

Another ‘I’m going to have a Nutriblast for lunch/I’ve changed my mind and going to have carbs instead’ lunch and very nice it was too. I coated some tofu in Jack Daniel’s Extra Hot Habanero BBQ Sauce (they’re not joking when they say ‘extra hot’ either), grilled it on my George Foreman grill until crispy, cut it into cubes and put it in a wrap with some homemade hummus and salad.

Dinner 

Vegan sausage stew with broccoli and beans
Vegan sausage stew with broccoli and beans

I make this tasty stew often and you can find the recipe here. I cooked Linda McCartney sausages beforehand, then added them to the stew with the dumplings (made with Tesco’s own vegetarian suet, which is vegan) for the last 15 minutes. I had Vitalite on my half of the bread roll, while The Meat Eater had Flora on his (he also wiped his vegetables on his buttered roll to un-veganise them. I kid you not).

Snacks

These Oat Flips are vegan
Oat Flips – kind of like Hob Nobs, i.e. yum.

I wasn’t going to be strict about E numbers during this Veganuary but although these Oat Flips that were given to us for Christmas seemed to be vegan – at least to my untrained eye – there was no mention on the tin of them being suitable for vegetarians and the E numbers played on my mind. As I was indoors with all the information I needed on the internet, I decided it’d be silly not to check so I looked up E475. Unfortunately, E475 is of dubious origin and although it’s usually derived from plants, it can also be of animal origin. I looked on the Oat Flips website for more information and on there it said the Oat Flips were suitable for vegetarians. The logical part of my brain then thought, ‘Well, if they’re suitable for vegetarians, then this E475 must be of plant origin because if it was animal origin, it wouldn’t be vegetarian and if it was made of milk or egg, that would have to be listed in the allergy bit, which it isn’t, so that must mean these Oat Flips are vegan’. But, I didn’t want to trust my logic so I asked on the Veganuary Facebook page if my logic was correct and was told yes, it was.

That was a very long-winded way of saying these Oat Flips are vegan. Yay for Oat Flips.

And that brings me up to Day 4 of my first Veganuary. I’ll be posting for the rest of the month, so keep checking back to see how I’m doing (and what I’m eating).

For more information on Veganuary and to sign up, visit the Veganuary website.

My fellow veggie blogger Kate at The Veg Space is also doing Veganuary and you can read what she says about it here.

Also, read my Q&A with Jacqui about how she’s continued being vegan after taking part in Veganuary 2015.

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The Top 5 Vegetarian and Vegan Facebook Groups

Facebook

I’m not the owner or admin of any of these vegetarian and vegan Facebook groups but these are my favourites. They’re all down-to-earth, friendly, unpretentious and non-militant – just how I like it.

What Fat Vegans Eat

Let’s face it; this isn’t just the best Facebook group, this is the best page on the internet for food lovers full stop. If you’re after vegan food porn, this group is for you. Considering there is – at the time of writing – over 36,000 members, it’s an astonishingly friendly place. Just don’t mention palm oil.

Update: Unfortunately, this page has gone waaaaay downhill with the recent updates to the rules with stupid restrictions like no faces or animals in the photos. There’s a lot of arguing now, too. If I were you, I’d head over to The Little Vegan Kitchen (link below) instead – it’s not so little now with over 2,000 members but it’s still a friendly place.

Vegetarian Slow Cooker Fans

Another friendly group. If you want advice on vegetarian slow-cooking, recipe ideas for your slow cooker or just want to drool over what everyone else has been cooking in theirs, head over to this page.

Veganuary

Originally started for those committing to veganism for the month of January, this group is a great place for any vegan newbies.

Vegan Special Offers UK

Found a vegan bargain in your local supermarket? Let others know about it here.

Little Vegan Kitchen 

A fairly new group but another friendly one and welcomes non-vegans and vegetarians as long as you keep your pics and chat about vegan food. Well worth a visit.

So, these are my favourite vegan and vegetarian Facebook groups. What are your favourites?




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