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Food, Life

Ok, I’m a very bad vegan. So what?

February 9, 2017

One of the funny things about choosing a ‘restrictive’ diet, rather than having to due to health reasons, is that everyone is always trying to catch you out.

Anyone who has chosen to be vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten free, etc, will know exactly what I mean. Because you’ve made a decision to do something due to moral reasons, everyone wants to call you out. And maybe that’s their prerogative.

I am a bad vegan. A very bad vegan. I admit it. In fact, it’s probably a stretch for me to call myself vegan at this point. But I’m trying.

There are some things that were so easy for me to give up;

  • Milk; it grosses me out, a lot. The thought of it makes me want to gag.
  • Cream; see above.
  • Eggs; they also gross me out. Easy.
  • Leather; never liked it, not even a problem.
  • Meat; can’t stand it.
  • Non-cruelty free cosmetics; I don’t want something to suffer for the sake of lipstick.

But there is one thing, that I find a lot harder to give up; cheese. It’s a very poor excuse, but I love the taste of a nice strong cheese. I know. I wish I could find a vegan alternative that melted just like real cheese.

And then there’s the whole trying to eat out. I know that in some cities (like San Francisco) eating vegan is a piece of delicious pie, but I don’t live in a city. I live in an area where an eatery’s idea of vegetarian is…*drumroll please*…can you guess it? TOMATO PASTA! *Groans* So many places like to be adventurous with their dishes, until it comes to vegetarian or vegan or gluten free, and then they panic.

I digress. Eating out is hard, but there are a few chain restaurants now where I can eat vegan, like Nando’s or The Handmade Burger Company.

And then there’s dessert. I bloody love dessert. It’s my favourite part of a meal. And my boyfriend is a pastry chef; which means I get a lot of dessert. Do you think any of that is vegan? No. No it is not.

Sure, I could not eat it, but you try one of his peanut butter chocolate fondants and tell me it’s not amazing.

Yes, I am a bad vegan. But I am trying.

Food, Life, Vegan

30-Day Vegan Challenge | Week #4 – The End

February 18, 2016

Peanut butter and jelly cupcakes

That’s it! My 30-day vegan challenge is over, but don’t you dare go thinking that I’m going to go back to my old diet.

When I began this challenge, I would say that my diet was about 50% vegan to start with, but I was daunted about what it might mean to try to be as vegan as possible for a month. To my surprise, it wasn’t hard at all.

Changing your diet is really about changing habit, so eating vegan at home is easy as pie so long as you plan your meals and snacks to make sure you have what you need in the house. As I mentioned in my previous weekly updates, eating out is where it’s difficult to eat entirely vegan.

Some restaurants / cafes / eateries are really easy to eat vegan at, a couple of examples I’ve experienced are:

  • Costa Coffee – their soy lattes and fruit crumbles are delicious
  • Handmade Burger Company – they have a good selection of vegan main courses, and their rosemary salt chips are out of this world

However, some places make it impossible for me to eat vegan because they either have no option, or one option, which usually seems to be salad, which I hate.

All in all, I’ve found it easy. I will be doing a post over the next week or two about what I’ve learned from being vegan for 30 days. In short though:

  • I’ve discovered new food and I actually feel inspired by food, which is something I’ve struggled with for a long time
  • I’m taking an interest in what’s in my food and feel I’m eating a more balanced diet for it
  • I feel more energetic, and I think that’s a result of eating a more balanced diet
  • I’m cooking meals, instead of just dessert
  • My Mum and I are having a lot of fun talking about food and cooking together

I’m glad I took this challenge because it finally gave me the push to kick the cheese to the curb. Aside from one meal out, I’ve not eaten cheese for a month – something I considered unthinkable before, and I haven’t even missed or craved it.

I definitely will not be returning to my old diet and I’m looking forward to discovering so many more tasty vegan recipes.

In keeping with the other updates I’ve done for this so far, here are a couple of recipes I’ve really enjoyed this week:

  • Peanut butter and jam cupcakes – these went down a real hit with everyone
  • Spicey falafel and roasted veg naan-wich – after seeing this pin, we decided we had to try it. We used the falafel recipe from Mayim Bialik’s Vegan Table, made our own avocado sauce, and it’s not hard to roast your own veg

If you’ve got any questions about becoming vegan, or need some tips, let me know because I want to put a blog post together helping people switch to a vegan diet.

Food, Vegan

30-Day Vegan Challenge | Week #3

February 11, 2016

Vegan millionaire shortbread

With three weeks under my belt, I’m beginning to feel like a little bit of a pro at this vegan thing.

I’m really enjoying cooking and spending time searching for tasty recipes – and not just for pudding either, I’ve been hunting down and cooking actual, nourishing meals, which is impressive for me.

The only time I’ve not been able to eat vegan during week three was, yet again, when I went out. I almost managed an entirely vegan meal at one of my favourite diners – I asked for nothing on the veggie burger but guacamole, but they put melted cheese on too…Maybe I should have sent it back, but I honestly couldn’t be bothered for the sake of a slice of cheese. Perhaps that makes me a ‘bad vegan’, but the place was rammed, it was probably an honest mistake, and I was hungry.

The second time, I went out to a little dessert restaurant in the city my university is in and there was nothing vegan on that menu that I could see. To be honest, I was disappointed because they have a huge range – pretty much any dessert you can think of – so I was a little gutted to see that there wasn’t a dairy free section. Especially when it’s easy to make dairy free desserts.

On top of that, my best friend’s Mum had a party and there was nothing vegan and to be honest, I don’t expect friends to go out of their way to do things especially for me. Though, saying that, if I had an allergy would I expect something allergen-free? Food for thought.

Eating out aside, everything I ate during week three was vegan. I’ve discovered that Aldi’s Oaties are vegan, which is good on one hand, not so good for my goal of eating less biscuits. Another surprising vegan discovery is Kellog’s Star Wars cereal.

Two of my favourite recipes in week three were:

I can’t believe how fast these 30 days are going, this time next week the challenge will be over with. To be honest, I have no intention of going back to my previous diet – I’ve found a vegan diet much easier than I expected and I feel much better in myself (though a part of that is because I am eating healthier).

What tasty things have you eaten this week?

Food, Vegan

30-Day Vegan Challenge | Week #2

February 4, 2016

  

I have now completed my second week without eating cheese!

I don’t feel like there’s a huge amount to say in addition to last week’s update because I haven’t found it hard. Well, I tell a lie; I went out for a meal on Monday and there was no choice but to eat a non-vegan meal. There were no vegan meals on the menu. I had a veggie burger which, for some reason, had cheese in it. I have no idea why because it’s not necessary and I couldn’t even taste it – so that was a bit annoying.

When I started this challenge, I knew that eating out would be the hardest part because so few places near me are vegan-friendly.

In other news, I read that Ben & Jerry’s are releasing a vegan range which makes me so happy. It’s nice to see a big, international brand acknowledge vegan diets or people who are lactose intolerant. I’m not sure if / when it will be available in the UK, but I hope they bring it over here.

I’m continuing to feel better in myself and am enjoying cooking, and experimenting with new things. Here are a couple of recipes I’ve enjoyed this last week:

What recipes have you been enjoying recently?

30 Day Vegan Challenge, Food, Vegan

30-Day Vegan Challenge | Week #1

January 28, 2016

  

Last week, I decided to take the 30-day vegan challenge and I’m pleased to say that the first week has been really fun.

I originally planned to do a bit of a food diary but I completely forgot, so instead I’ll give you a little overview of how the first week has been.

My biggest weakness is cheese, but to my amazement I haven’t craved it or felt like I was missing out. I’m so impressed with this because I definitely ate way too much cheese before.

In general, I haven’t found a vegan diet to be very restrictive. The only time it has felt a little restrictive is when I went to Costa Coffee to meet my friend – I didn’t spot a vegan option. I tweeted Costa though, and apparently their fruity crumble is vegan, so I’ll keep an eye out for that next time I go – I’m hoping I just missed it. 

There are a couple of things I’ve eaten during the past week that have become absolute favourites for me and I cannot get enough of them:

  • Peanut noodles
  • Thai pasta from Mayam Bialik’s Vegan Table
  • Bliss balls – I started out with Kayla Itsines recipe, but ended up just doing my own thing, throwing in desiccated coconut and more cocoa powder

So far, so good and I’m looking forward to another week of discovering new, delicious meals.

 

Food, Life, Vegan

That’s it, I’m going vegan

January 21, 2016

Basket of vegetables

Image: Unsplash

I’ve been ‘trying’ to go vegan slowly for the past year, and I would say that about 40% of my diet is currently vegan, the rest of it is vegetarian, but I’ve decided it’s time for a challenge; the 30 day vegan challenge.

There are a few reasons I’m taking up the challenge:

  • Dairy products gross me out (don’t even get me started on milk)
  • I eat way too much cheese (it’s all or nothing with me and cheese – and I do realise it’s made from milk, but my stomach makes exceptions for cheese)
  • I need to eat healthier, and significantly less sugar (I won’t be able to eat the majority of biscuits, which are my achilles heel)
  • I’ve watched some food documentaries recently, and agribusiness even more ridiculously unsustainable than I thought, and the number one cause of climate change / damage (not cars or wasting energy)
  • I’m a glutton for punishment and like a challenge

Starting yesterday, I have started the 30-day vegan challenge. (I know, I could have just taken part in Veganuary, but this is me.) For the next month, I will be doing my absolute best to eat a 100% vegan diet and will be posting weekly updates to let you know how I’m getting on.

I think I’ll do quite well, as I reckon at least 50% of my diet is probably vegan anyway. My main concern is finding vegan options if I eat out because there aren’t a lot of eateries around here that offer vegan options, much less inspiring vegan options.

I’m looking forward to what the next month will bring, and I’m hoping that at the end of it I will be eating a more varied and healthier diet.

If you’ve got any tips or recipes, please share them with me.

Food, Life

We built a (kinda weird) gingerbread Hogwarts

December 18, 2015

Gingerbread Hogwarts

Gingerbread Hogwarts

A few weeks ago, Tom tasked me with creating a gingerbread Hogwarts. We roped our friends in and ended up with a slightly (ok, very) weird gingerbread Hogwarts.

It’s fair to say we had delusions of grandeur because it was so much harder than expected, and we had to scale down quite a bit. Nevertheless, it was so much fun and we all laughed so hard.

Making gingerbread

Building a gingerbread house

Tom turned out to be some kind of gingerbread castle building wizard. He drew up some brilliant plans, and the rest of us made the dough and cut it out. Well, I say the ‘rest of us’, one of my friends is an excellent ‘supervisor’.

Getting the castle to stick together was pretty hard. None of us had ever built any kind of gingerbread structure, so we went into it thinking it would be easy. We were wrong. Getting the icing consistency right was hard enough. And in hindsight, we probably should have tried to level the pieces before sticking them together, but you live and learn, right?

Gingerbread Hogwarts

In the end, we ended up with a couple of braces. My friends Dad works in engineering and he just laughed as soon as he saw it. He also questioned if one of the braces was a lean to, so we tried to disguise it as a broom shed.

By far the hardest part was trying to figure out how to make the towers for the turrets. In the end, we stacked a few ice cream cones together, and covered them in gingerbread.

Gingerbread Hogwarts

Gingerbread Hogwarts

Once we’d managed to get the castle to stick together without dropping apart as soon as someone breathed near it, we began to decorate it. And that’s when things got ridiculous. I should have seen it coming, I should have known.

Gingerbread Hogwarts

The Supervisor got very carried away with the icing and silver balls. (Just look at the snowmen…or maybe not.) The rest of us are mega Harry Potter fans, so we asked what he was doing covering all of the ‘roof tiles’ with silver balls. He claimed they were solar panels.

Gingerbread Hogwarts

It took us 8 hours in total, and we all laughed so much it hurt. We’ve decided that in 2016, we’re going to attempt to make a Hobbit House. The Supervisor can handle the grass, I don’t think it’s possible to go overboard with grass on a Hobbit House.

Have you ever made any kind of gingerbread construction?

Food, Vegan, Vegetarian

Autumn, apple and cinnamon spice cookies [Vegan]

October 28, 2015

Simple, vegan, apple spice cookies

Cinnamon, apple, and chocolate cookies.

It’s no secret that I love autumn, and biscuits, so it just seemed right to make autumn-inspired apple, and cinnamon cookies.

I reworked a recipe I’ve used for vegan cookies a couple of times to create delicious, soft, apple spice cookies. They’re so delicious and perfect for a cosy autumn day all snuggled up with a hot drink and a book.

A stack of cookies

Books and cookies

You can control how soft and squishy your cookies are in the middle by making them thinner or thicker. If you like cookies which are raw in the middle, make them thicker.

I’m really happy with how these cookies turned out, and the base recipe is really easy to customise to whatever flavours you fancy trying.

Apple and cinnamon cookies
Yields 16
A delicious, and simple autumn-inspired apple and cinnamon cookie.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
174 calories
26 g
17 g
8 g
2 g
5 g
44 g
10 g
17 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
44g
Yields
16
Amount Per Serving
Calories 174
Calories from Fat 68
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
12%
Saturated Fat 5g
24%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 17mg
6%
Sodium 10mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 26g
9%
Dietary Fiber 1g
4%
Sugars 17g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
4%
Iron
2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup vegan butter (I used Vitalife)
  2. 1 cup dark brown muscovado sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  4. 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  5. 2 tablespoons of water
  6. 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  7. 1/2 an apple (normal apple, doesn't need to be a cooking apple)
  8. 1 and 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  9. 100g chocolate (UK people's; Tesco's Finest cooking chocolate is vegan)
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F
  2. 2. Combine the butter and sugar until creamy and well combined
  3. 3. While that's mixing, cut up the apple and chocolate into small chunks
  4. 4. Mix the cornstarch, baking powder and water, before adding to the butter and sugar.
  5. 5. Add the flour, chocolate chips, and apple until it forms a dough. I've found that depending on the kind of butter you use, you might need to add more flour. If it's a bit wet, keep adding flour tablespoon at a time until it's a well-combined matte-looking dough.
  6. 6. Place on a tray, with baking paper and a sprinkle of flour. I find using an ice cream scoop / tablespoon a good measure. You might need to squish them down a bit, to make sure the middle cooks.
beta
calories
174
fat
8g
protein
2g
carbs
26g
more
Adapted from Baker Bettie's Easy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Girl In Awe http://www.girlinawe.com/
I could eat these bad boys all day, every day of the week. In the run up to Christmas, I want to try out chocolate and orange cookies to make something that reminds me of Terry’s Chocolate Oranges.

If you give these a go, please send me a photo and let me know what you think.

What autumn-inspired cookies would you create?