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!

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 Review: Sabrina Ghayour’s Feta Bites

I had Sirocco, the new cookbook from Sabrina Ghayour, on pre-order and was excited to receive it on it’s release date. Having already been a huge fan of Persiana, Sabrina’s first book, I was eager to see what the new book had in store. I’ve not been disappointed, it’s full of colourful, exotic dishes from the Middle East and beyond and is the perfect follow on from Persiana. I love Sabrina’s use of some of my favourite ingredients; feta cheese; sumac and pomegranate. One of the recipes that originally caught my eye was the Feta Bites with Preserved Lemon Jam. I’ve never seen feta used in this way and with a jar of preserved lemons in the fridge I could see no reason not to try it out.

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You start the recipe by making the preserved lemon jam which consists of no more than 6 finely chopped persevered lemons and 6 tablespoons of caster sugar, stirred together over a medium heat until it has thickened.

To make the feta bites, you simply chop a cube of feta into 8 cubes and dredge each piece in some flour. Meanwhile, make the batter by whisking together 100ml of ice cold water and an egg then lightly whisk in 150g of self raising flour. Coat each piece of feta in the batter then carefully lower each one in to some hot oil and deep fry until they are golden brown on all sides.

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I was really excited to try this recipe but mine came out nothing like the picture! Firstly, my preserved lemon jam wasn’t jam at all, it was a hard lump of congealed sugary mess that tasted delicious but was impossible to dip anything into. Perhaps I cooked it for too long or over a too-high heat. My feta bites were OK but the batter was so much thicker than I was expecting and they came out looking like chicken balls you get from the Chinese takeaway. They tasted like fried cheese which was fairly pleasant but were just too heavy and we only managed to eat a couple between us.

I’m really not about negativity and still love this book. I’m sure I either made an error somewhere along the way or the recipe really just wasn’t to my taste. Has anyone else made this one and had better success?

 

 

 

May Roundup

Guess who’s got over 100 followers??? Me!!! Thank you all ever so much for taking the time to read, like, comment on and follow my blog. I love my little corner of the internet and have enjoyed spending another month sharing my stories and recipes with you. You can like The Gammon Kitchen’s Facebook page to see more.

A few things that happened in May:

  • I tried Pizza GoGo. Let’s just say Domino’s have nothing to worry about as they won’t be losing my custom.
  • I ate an Indian takeaway for breakfast.
  • I watched the entire previous 5 seasons of Game of Thrones in the space of a month and now have to wait for the next episodes with the rest of the peasants.
  • I had the worst case of flu known to man. Or so it felt.
  • I rediscovered Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream and couldn’t be happier about it.

And here’s all the blog posts from the past month, in case you missed any.

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Recipe: Berry Rose Smoothie / Recipe Review: Byron’s Ronaldo Burger / Recipe: Rocky Roads / What I Ate In A Day #8 / Recipe: Courgetti With Pesto Chicken, Mushrooms and Goat’s Cheese / Jamie’s Food Revolution 2016 / Recipe: Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Risotto / Recipe: Easy Cinnamon Swirls / My Cookbook Collection / Recipe: 3 Ingredient Asparagus Brunch / How To Spot A Foodie

I hope all you lovely people have had a wonderful month filled with delicious food and lots of fun!