July Roundup

July. The month that felt like the early 2000s with everyone talking about Pokemon and Blink 182. Not me though. I’ve been harping on about Celebrity Masterchef, the lack of decent strawberries in the supermarkets and how summer just doesn’t feel like summer when you don’t have a 6 week holiday.

Oh the good old days of school when life’s biggest worries were getting a ladder in your tights or not having a boyfriend like all the cool kids. I thought my teenage years were such a struggle. I knew nothing. I used to come home every day to my bed made, a home made dinner on the table and my washing done and ironed for me. Now, I come home to a messy house at whatever time the traffic allows and have to engage the brain enough not to mix my dinner up with the cat’s. I tried a cat treat once. It was a terrible, terrible mistake.

I’ve made some damn good food in July, though I do say so myself. I’ve recapped all of this month’s posts below in case you missed any or want to have a re-read.

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Recipe: King Prawn Linguine / Recipe: Steak’n’Stuff / Recipe: American Pancakes with Bacon / What I Ate In A Day #11 / Recipe: Masterchef Style Smoked Haddock / Top 5 Must Have Cook Books For Eating Well / Recipe: Peanut Butter Brownies / Recipe Review: Gordon Ramsay’s Bread and Butter Pudding / Recipe: Chicken Tikka Salad / How to be a Better Cook in 5 Easy Steps

See you in August!

What I Ate In A Day #11

Otherwise known as what I ate in a day whilst feeling sorry for myself because I have a cold. It really is only a cold, a cough here, a sneeze there, one of those annoying little niggles of an illness where you’re not too sick to be off work but really want to do nothing more than watch trashy tv and eat cake. No room for self pity here though, I had a full day at work followed by a two course dinner when I got home all made from scratch. One could argue that I’m mad, but I’ve had this most evil craving for bread and butter pudding and it simply had to be fulfilled so that was had for pudding.

Anyway, I should probably start with breakfast. I’m almost bored of saying it now such is the regularity of it, but I started my day with granola, yogurt, coconut flakes and fresh fruit. I then had a banana shortly after.

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Lunch was one of my favourites. There’s a sandwich place near me called Francombs who do really lovely pasta salads made to order. This is my take on their New Yorker boxed salad. It contains a base of pasta and Romaine lettuce then has pastrami, stilton, cucumber, gherkins, jalapeños, crushed tortilla chips and a dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, wholegrain mustard, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and salt. It involves a bit of prep work but I make enough for a few days, leave the prepared ingredients sitting in individual boxes in the fridge then toss them together with the dressing the night before and take the tortilla chips separately to add just before eating. It’s really good.

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I had a homemade peanut butter brownie with my lunch. Recipe coming soon!

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To tide me over until dinner I snacked on a satsuma and a fake Penguin biscuit from Sainsbury’s. These are hilariously called Polar bars but don’t have the terrible jokes you find on a proper Penguin. Sort it out Sainsbury’s! I did eat a nectarine too but I forgot to take a picture.

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Dinner was one of my favourite things to eat at the moment, my king prawn linguine. The recipe can be found here. The two slices of garlic bread on the side were there for aesthetic value. I actually ate 4 slices. I get really hungry when I’m ill.

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And now, what I’ve been waiting for all day. Nay, all week. Bread and Butter Pudding with double cream. *insert excited squealing here*

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I’ll tease you with this for now and treat you to the recipe soon! One thing’s for sure, I’m totally having some of this for breakfast tomorrow.

June Roundup

It’s The Gammon Kitchen’s 6 month sort of birthday! Hi to all of you who have been with me from the start and welcome to my new followers. Thank you to each and everyone of you who has liked, commented or followed my journey and I hope you stick around! I’ve been a bit quiet on here over the last couple weeks. In all fairness, I’ve only missed two posts but my presence on social media has taken a back seat whilst I’ve been focussing on my day job. The joys of working in customer services during a busy summer sale period! The slight break has given me time to refresh and I’m ready to get back into the kitchen and share more of that with you.

June has been such a wash out in Britain. We’ve had non-stop rain, thunderstorms and even some cold days. It’s grim. July hasn’t exactly started any better either but here’s hoping for some improvement. The UK isn’t just suffering due to the weather though, we’ve been hit with political and economic bombshells that have turned the whole country a bit mental. Whilst I don’t agree with the decision that has been made, life is certainly too short to worry about such things and we all need to move on, drown our sorrows into some chocolate cake and then be positive for the future.

Before moving on, let’s look back at The Gammon Kitchen’s posts during the month where I turned half vegan. As in I tried to be vegan, managed a few days, went vegetarian for a further few days then kinda gave up but still want to try to go back.

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Recipe Review: Sabrina Ghayour’s Feta Bites / What I Ate In A Day #9 / Recipe: Salted Caramel Pineapple Wedges / A Vegan Food Shop / Recipe: Chickpea, Spinach and Potato Curry / What I Ate In A Day #10 – Vegan EditionWhat I Ate In A Day #10 – Vegan Edition / My Vegan Week / Recipe: Sweet and Salty Pecans / Recipe Review: Leon’s Lemon Cake / My Hero Ingredients / Recipe: Pimped Up Kidney Beans / Summer is Coming

Recipe: Sweet and Salty Pecans

There’s something about the combination of sweet and salty that really gets me excited for life. These little pecans with their maple syrup and smoked sea salt crust are a delight for the senses and only take a few minutes to make, perfect for a nibble with a drink or a snack whilst watching a movie.

Makes enough for a lengthy snack sesh

What you need:

  • 100g pecans
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp smoked sea salt

What you do:

  1. Pop your pecans onto a baking sheet in a pile and drizzle over the maple syrup then the cinnamon and smoked sea salt. Give them a good mixing with your hands making sure that each nut is nicely coated then spread them out in a single layer and whack into an oven pre-heated to 180°c.
  2. Bake for 8-10 minutes, tossing half way though and being very careful not to let them burn. Leave to cool and enjoy them as they are or used in other recipes.

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These are a great vegan snack as they’re full of protein so fill you up but are a little naughty and sweet too. Trust me though, they’re addictive!

 

My Vegan Week

I have reached the end of my trial as a vegan. Do I feel like I’ve changed the world? No. Do I feel full of energy and vitality? No. Do I crave cheese? A bit. Being a vegan isn’t actually as hard as I thought it would be. Yes, it is restrictive but as long as you plan your meals it’s pretty easy to find a wealth of suitable foods to create tasty recipes with.

I’ve realised that veganism, like most radical life choices, can open up a whole load of debates that I didn’t know existed. There’s the whole honey debate, should vegans have honey or not….I didn’t go too far into it in fear that I would get confused but decided to have honey as Deliciously Ella does. If it’s good enough for her then it’s good enough for me. Veganism also largely divides opinion. I had work colleagues trying to tempt me off the wagon with offers to buy me burgers. The office also saw a few heated arguments about the pros and cons of a vegan diet. Thankfully I had support from a real life vegan colleague who helped me along the way.

I should probably mention that I was only fully vegan for 5 full days from Monday to Friday. On Saturday I ate a doughnut which contained milk powder and also forgot about my trial and had chips with burger sauce in the evening, which I presume was not vegan. As I had already blown it I had milk on Sunday in the form of three lattes (yes I missed coffee! – I only have it with milk) and I also had a fried egg with breakfast, but did have vegetarian sausages and resisted the bacon. I don’t think I did too badly.

I shall share with you my thoughts in the form of a good old pros and cons list.

Cons

  • I spent the entire week feeling incredibly tired and very grumpy. Even my cat knew to stay away from me as I was pretty vile to be around.
  • Bowel trouble. I will not go into detail but anyone who has tried a vegan diet no doubt knows what I mean.
  • I couldn’t just grab a snack or lunch from a normal shop and had to spend ages each day cooking all my meals from scratch which I am used to doing for much of the time, but doing it all the time was a bit of a chore. Everything I made also seemed to generate so much washing up too. So much.
  • I got bullied by work colleagues.
  • Tyler often ate a different meal to me and we didn’t eat together very much.

Pros

  • I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my meals as they have been full of flavour, texture and colour. If you think about it there are a lot more types of vegetables than there are meats so you can have more variety in a vegan diet if you put your mind to it.
  • There’s a great vegan community out there and by blogging and using social media to share my journey I have felt really well supported.
  • It was ridiculously easy to get my suggested allowance of 5 portions of fruit and veg a day and I mostly had around 10 servings.
  • Amazingly, I lost 5lbs during my week on a vegan diet which is an amazing amount considering I was never hungry and didn’t follow any calorie constrictions or portion control guidelines.
  • I admit I felt quite good about not eating any animal products and found myself getting a bit preachy towards the end of the week. It’s definitely made me think more about where my food comes from and how it gets to my plate.

So what did I eat?

Breakfast was usually either a smoothie, wholemeal toast with cashew butter and banana or, my favourite, coconut yogurt with fruit, homemade granola and coconut flakes. I had no trouble finding suitable breakfast foods and am in love with coconut yogurt despite the ridiculous price tag.

Lunch was either grain bowls or leftovers from dinner. I consumed a lot of quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, roasted vegetables and humous during lunch. I made my own humous at the start of the week but my food processor broke in the process (great timing) so I had to resort to shop bought. I found a really nice red pepper version in the Co-Op which is really delicious.

Dinners varied quite a bit. Again, I had lots of sweet potatoes as I just love them, plus quite a lot of other vegetables, avocados and kidney beans. One of my favourite discoveries was a new way to cook kidney beans which I will share with you soon and I became rather creative with the spice rack. I made amazing pizzas by spreading a toasted pitta bread with some red pepper humous and topping it with vegetables. Not exactly Dominos but a girl’s gotta try.

I mostly snacked on fruit but did discover towards the end of the week that bourbon biscuits are suitable for vegans. I’m not yet sure if this is a good thing or not. I’m also going to be giving our a recipe for sweet and salty pecans soon as these are darn good.

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So, time for the all important question: will I be a full time vegan?

In a word, no. I have enjoyed my food, am made up with my weight loss and am starting to feel the benefits. However, I don’t like the idea of having to cut out so much from my diet and I hate having to eat a separate meal to my partner. So, I’ve decided to go 75% vegan and 25% non-vegan but to concentrate on eating less meat overall and to keep the focus on plant based products. That means I will mostly continue to eat a vegan diet but allow some flexibility for days when I either can’t be bothered of fancy a treat like a bar of milk chocolate. Some hardcore vegans might turn their noses up at my plan but I still feel like I’m doing good for making an effort to consume less animal products.

I shall continue to share some vegan recipes and ideas on my blog (but the occasional meaty treat will be there too) and will re-assess in the future if I want to go fully vegan full time. For now, burgers.

 

 

 

 

What I Ate In A Day #10 – Vegan Edition

As part of vegan week on The Gammon Kitchen, I figured it only right that I take you along for the ride and share everything I eat in a day on a vegan diet. I’m halfway through my trial and I’m feeling tired, grumpy and in desperate need of a McDonalds. I kind of want to give up but I’m not going to. I’m just eagerly waiting for the day when I bound out of bed full of vigour with wonderful glowing skin and a new found zest for life. Please God, let it be soon.

Breakfast today was of the liquid variety. I made my chocolate and peanut butter milkshake that was featured on my blog earlier in the year, but used cashew butter rather than peanut and coconut milk rather than almond. Anything goes really. It was delicious and set me up for the day.

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The 11am slump was fixed by a few dates. Ugly little things aren’t they? Medjool dates are amazing, like soft, chewy toffees. They’re more expensive than other varieties but totally worth it.

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I’ve been making the most of leftovers for my lunches and today was a classic example. It’s great to have a fridge full of things that you can just throw together to create a pick’n’mix lunch bursting with flavour and nutrients. Today was brown rice, roasted vegetables (peppers, onions and courgettes), garlic and herb roasted sweet potatoes and some homemade spicy, smoky humous (made smoky by smoked sea salt – AH-MAY-ZING.)

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I snacked on some fruit between lunch and dinner. Doughnut peaches, or flat peaches as they’re sometimes called, are my favourite fruits ever. I had a plum too but ate it without thinking so didn’t take a photo.

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The biggest hurdle I’ve faced during this trial is having time each night to cook a healthy meal, prepare my lunch and tidy up all the mess made along the way. It’s hard. I can’t just order a pizza now and it means every night is chore night. Tonight I decided to go for the easy option. I’d bought some ready made bean burgers in my weekly food shop to have on stand by for when this day came so we had those with oven chips, homemade guacamole and a bit of salad. It’s the first night Tyler and I have had the same dinner since I started my vegan journey. The bean burgers were alright but I probably could have made better myself.

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As an evening snack I had a slice of wholemeal bread, toasted and spread with cashew, cinnamon and honey butter and topped with a sliced banana. Snack heaven.

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I ate a little more today than I have been to see if it would help my energy levels. Here’s hoping! I love having such colourful, vibrant meals and I’m not really missing meat (apart from that McDonalds craving) but I would give an arm for a bit of cheese now and then.

Recipe: Chickpea, Spinach and Potato Curry

I’m not one of those people who need to have meat in every dinner and am quite happy with a veg based meal. Vegan though, now that’s new to me. I haven’t struggled to come up with suitable recipes (yet) but it is a bit of a ball ache to have to remember what I can and can’t eat. I would normally finish my homemade curry with butter and maybe a little bit of cream if the mood took me. The results without are still incredibly delicious (actually this was one of the best curries I’ve made) but it’s just a chore to remember. I had a store-bought naan bread ready and waiting to be dunked in only to find it contained milk. Devastated is not the word.

So this curry is completely vegan and still very very yummy. The ingredients list looks long but is mostly spices which you may already have on hand. If not, feel free to use a curry powder or ready made spice mix.

Serves 2-3

What you need:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 4 small waxy potatoes, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 150g baby spinach

What you do:

  1. Heat the coconut oil up in a large pan and add the sliced onion and diced potatoes, frying them off for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another couple of minutes before tipping in the tin of chickpeas and all the spices, stirring well.
  2. Now, add the tinned tomatoes and use the tin to transfer the same amount of water to the pan. Season well with salt and pepper and add the maple syrup. Cover and cook for around 20 minutes.
  3. Next, add the tin of coconut milk and stir well to combine. Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened. When done, add the spinach, stir well and check for seasoning. Serve with rice and a dollop of mango chutney. And a vegan naan bread if you can find one.

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This is a mild, sweet, creamy curry but still has so much flavour. You can of course turn up the heat by adding more chilli if you prefer your curries this way, but I like mine to leave the taste buds dancing rather than having to down a glass of milk just to get through the pain. Non-dairy milk obvs.

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