Oumph!

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ve probable already seen my posts about these guys over the weekend.

Their stall at the Just V Show was one of the busiest, and they weren’t even selling anything!

Oumph! was created to fill a gap in the meat substitute market. Something plant based, with low climate impact, that could increase people’s health, and help feed the 9 million on Earth. No small task!

The solution? These meat-free proteins, made entirely from beans, “unlike anything else from the plant kingdom”, and (they claim) with a climate impact is so low, that everyone on the planet can eat them every day!

Not only is this plant protein resource efficient, low in climate impact, rich in protein & fibre, and a great source of iron & folic acid, it tastes amazing. I mean A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! So good, we cheekily went back for more than a few of the tasting samples on offer on Sunday, despite the crowd & queues!

Oumph! comes is 9 varieties ~ 3 unseasoned & 6 seasoned with lots of spices ~ but as I mentioned, none of these were available at the show. Which at the time I was gutted about, however I am excited to announce that the full range will be launching in UK Whole Foods stores in September!!!

Their presence at the show was inspired PR-ing, and despite my initial disappointment, I’ll be spending the next couple of months planning how I’m going to cook and eat all 9 varieties. Roll on September… the question is, will we have enough Summer left for BBQs?

If you see them popping up anywhere else in the meantime, please make sure you give them a try.

I know some veggies & vegans don’t like the flavour or texture of meat (real or substitute), and if that’s you, you’re better off giving this one a miss. However, if like me, you were once an enthusiastic meat-eater, who has chosen to live a cruelty-free life for other reasons, I guarantee these texture & flavours will blow you away.

When you manage to get your hands on a pack, let me know what you think… I’ll be in front of you in the Whole Foods queue.

In the meantime, their website has loads of recipe ideas to ensure we never get bored, and can, as they suggest, eat Oumph! every day!

*** Disclaimer: whilst the majority of the images featured in this post have been borrowed from the Oumph! website, I have not been asked to promote this product by anyone & the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. ***

Protein – the vegan way

January is a time of new beginnings. New Year’s resolutions made, but not so often kept. Two of the most popular being an overhaul of our diets, health and fitness. If, like many others, you have decided to go vegan for Veganuary, you might also have signed up to a brand spanking new gym membership, you’ll be wanting to get the most of your vegan diet.

Most of the time, when someone finds out I’m vegan, they suddenly become concerned that I get enough protein from my diet. No one seems to worry about your protein intake before you become a veggie or vegan!

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And I must admit, pre-veganism, I also thought the best types of protein was in lean meats & eggs. So to help out all you new vegans, I’ve pulled together what I hope is a helpful list of specific types of vegan protein, and what they are good for. Eat away…

 

pumpkin seeds

 

Pumpkin Seeds are a great source of healthy fats, fiber and protein to keep you feeling full, whilst the magnesium, phosphorus and zinc contained in them provide additional energy, great as a pre-workout snack.

 

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Tempeh is less likely than tofu to add on the lbs as it is made from soy beans, rather than soy milk. This makes it more of a whole food and retains more protein, around 50% more than tofu!

 

 

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Spinach wasn’t Popeye’s favourite for nothing! Not only a great source of protein, but also high in vitamins A and C, antioxidants and calsium. Strangely enough spinach is one of the veggies that is best served steamed rather than raw, as it becomes easier for you body to digest and absord the calcium. And did you know that there is almost as much protein in one cup of spinach, as there is in a hard-boiled egg?! Superfood or what?

 

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Guava was an odd one to stumble upon for me, but it is the highest-protein fruit, whilst also containing 600% of your daily vitamin C requirement per cup.

 

 

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Chia Seeds are great for vegans and veggies; not only are they protein rich, but they also contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, something we can often be lacking while others can easily get it from eating oily fish.

 

 

spirulina-in-tablet-and-powder-formSpirulina is not a favourite of mine, I find it leaves a chalky residue in anything I had it to, but its protein content can’t be denied. Made up of 60% protein, like Quinoa it’s complete which means our bodies can directly convert it to muscle! It also contains 50% of your daily vitamin B12 requirement, something some veggies and vegans find themself deficient in when they stop consuming red meat.

 

what-is-the-health-benefits-of-cacao-96451269645126Dubbed the ‘food of the Gods’ in America, cacao is full of antioxidants, healthy fats, protein, minerals like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, iron, zinc, potassium and Vitamins E and B. Full of fiber to help digestion and keep you fuller for the longer, this really is a superfood, the benefits of which have been rounded up very nicely here by The SuperFoods.

 

imagePeanut Butter is an absolute favourite of mine, and a teaspoon of a 100% nut butter, with no added salt, sugar or oil, is great as an after dinner treat, when you’re craving something naughty. Watch out though as it is high in calories, but 2 tablespoons added to a post workout smoothie, provide a great dose of muscle-building protein and healthy fats. Peanuts are also good for your heart, and studies have shown they can prevent both cardivasular and coronary atery disease.

 

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Another nut packing a healthy dose of protein is the almond. Consume before your workout and studies have shown that these little nuts can actually help you burn more fat and carbs.

 

 

Avocado-Recipes

 

A superfood high up on my list of protein packed favourites, is the avocado. Full of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, more potasium than a banana, loads of fiber, vitamins & minerals in abundance, a regular sized avocado will contain around 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats.

 

 

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Popular with those trying to lose weight, mushrooms contain very little carbs or fat. The protein in mushrooms is only small, but is unique and it’s been thought to have anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

 

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1 cup of chickpeas contains 12g of protein, around 24% of your daily requirement. The protein in chickpeas is not complete, so combine with wholegrains such as wholegrain cous cous, or make up a batch of hummus and enjoy it on wholegrain bread or toast to get a complete protein.

 

beans

Not only are beans high in fiber and antioxidants, they aid with weight loss, and in turn disease prevention too! Comparable to meat when it comes to calories, beans are full of fiber and water, helping you to feel fuller for longer; meaning you should be able to cut calories, without feeling deprived. By losing weight you decrease your chances of developing serious conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. So nutritious are these little legumes in fact, that it’s recommended we tripple our weekly intake from 1 to 3 cups.

 

black-riceBlack Rice, also known as Forbidden Rice, has similar nutrient levels to brown rice, but with higher quanities of antioxidants. It is also a great source of fiber and minerals, including iron. A 100g serving of black rice has 8.5g of protein, 3.5mg of iron and 4.9g of fiber. Compared to white, brown and red rices, black rice has the highest amount of protein and double the fiber of brown rice.

 

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Pistachios are one of the lowest calorie nuts, at only 4kcal per average sized nut, you can enjoy around 40 of these delicious nuts for a healthy 160 kcal snack – I also find the process of cracking & eating quite theraputic! They are great sources of protein (around 20g for every 100g consumed), healthy fats, antoixidants, vitamins and minerals; a great all rounder and easy to carry in your bag for an on the go energy source.

 

So there you have it, a thorough but not exhaustive list of veggie and vegan proteins to help you get the most out of your month of Veganuary! Now off to the gym…

 

All images courtesy of Getty Images.

Which Foods to Eat for Maximum Plant Based Nutrition

I don’t know about you, but as a vegan I often get asked if my diet can be complete without animal produce. How do I get enough protein for example, or where do I get calcium or iron from? So I thought I’d pull together a quick, though not definitive, list of plant based foods that pack a nutritious punch.

Essential for all living beings, Calcium is a main material in our bones and teeth. Find it in:

  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spinach

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An Iron deficiency can cause anemia, a decreased number of red blood cells, and leave you feeling weak, tired and irritable. Avoid these symptoms by consuming these foods:

  • Beans
  • Brown rice
  • Curly kale
  • Dried fruits (apricots)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach
  • Watercress

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Beta-carotene is found in colourful fruits and vegetables. Although it is not actually an essential nutrient, our bodies convert it in to Vitamin A, which gives us healthy skin and immune systems, along with good eye health and vision. Find it in:

  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Red bell pepper
  • Spinach

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Vitamin D helps to regulate calcium and phosphate in our bodies. A lack of Vitamin D can lead to bone deformities lick rickets in children, and bone pain called osteomalacia in adults. Keep yourself topped up with these foods:

  • Mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight
  • Sunshine

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Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can prevent free-radicals forming in our tissue. Find it in:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Spinach
  • Wheatgerm

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Vitamin K helps our blood to clot and form scabs on wounds in order for them to heal.

  • Broccoli
  • Cereals
  • Spinach

Vitamin C protects our cells and keeps them healthy, which in turn helps with healing. In extreme cases, a lack of Vitamin C can cause scurvy. Up your intake by munching on these foods:

  • Blackcurrants
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Potatoes
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Strawberries

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Folate and Folic Acid are water-soluble forms of Vitamin B. Folate is the natural form, whilst folic acid is the synthetic form that is added to foods like cereals, flour, breads, pastas, cookies, crackers etc, becuase it is great at treating low levels of folate in our blood, which can cause conditions such as anemia.

  • Avocado
  • Brown rice
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Peas
  • Spinach

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A Complete Protein contains all the essential amino acids that cannot be synthesised by our bodies, but are crucial to help our muscles repair themselves. All you athletes and yogi out there, make sure you eat plenty of these foods:

  • Buckwheat
  • Chia
  • Hempseed
  • Quinoa
  • Soybeans

 

And also a combination of these Incompete Proteins:

  • Beans
  • Cereal
  • Chickpeas
  • Nut and seeds

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Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of fuel, used easily for energy and needed for our central nervous systems, kidneys, brain and muscles (including our heart) to function properly. Found in these different forms:

  • Fiber from the fleshy part of fruits, oats, dries beans, peas and vegetables with their skins on
  • Starch from bread, rice, potatoes and pasta
  • Sugars from fruits

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Fiber can prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and even some cancers, as well as improving our digestive health. Fiber is only found in foods that come from plants. Non-vegan foods such as meat, fish and dairy do not contain any fiber at all! There are 2 types of diaetary fiber – soluble or insoluble – and our bodies deal with them differently. Our bodies digest soluble fiber, whilst insoluble fiber passed through us undigested, helping to move other foods through our digestive systems.

  • Soluble:
  • Fruite, such as bananas and apples
  • Golden linseeds
  • Oats, barley and rye
  • Root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes

 

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  • Insoluble:
  • Bran
  • Cereals
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Wholemeal bread

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Fat Soluble Vitamins vs. Water Soluble Vitamins:

  • Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are found in fatty and oily foods. These vitamins are crucial for optimum health
  • Water soluble vitamins (C, B and B9) cannot be stored in the body, so they need regular replenishment. Many dieticians recommend steaming or grilling these foods, rather than boiling, as these vitamin types can easily be lost through heat or air exposure

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!

Raw Vegan Nut, Seed + Cacao Hearts

Just a quick post today to tell you about the Raw Vegan Nut, Seed + Cacao Hearts I made at the weekend.

I wanted to jazz up my usual protein balls so I made them in to little hearts, using a silicone ice cube mould. I love using these to make sweet treats as they come in so many different shapes; I’m on the lookout for something “Easter-y” at the moment, if anyone can point me in the right direction?

Anyway, I digress, these are so simple to make and they are raw so no cooking involved, retaining all their natural nutritious goodness.


Here’s what I used, but feel free to play around with the ingredients, I tend to just use up what I have in my cupboards. Your quantities will vary depending on the size and shape of your mould. I always find it’s better to make too much than too little. I like to taste as I go – of course, who doesn’t, right? – and you can always revert back to good old protein balls if you run out of space in your mould. I ended up making 12 hearts, with enough mixture left over to make 6 balls, which I rolled in the leftover cacao chocolate and coconut.

·         Desiccated coconut

·         Porridge oats, steel cut if you’re gluten-free

·         Your preferred mixture of nuts and seeds – I used cashews and almonds + sunflower and pumpkin seeds

·         Dates, medjool if poss as they are best

·         4x tbsp maple syrup – 2x tbsp for the protein mixture + 2x tbsp for the cacao chocolate topping. You can add more or less depending on the size of your sweet tooth and mould of course

·         Coconut oil, melted –  1x tbsp for the protein mixture + 4-5x tbsp for the cacao chocolate topping

Do you know how good this stuff is for you? Check out post featuring some of the amazing ways coconut oil can be used in your cooking and beauty regime

·         3x tbsp raw organic cacao powder – 1x tbsp for protein mixture + 2x tbsp for cacao chocolate topping

Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cacao butter)

You can use regular cocoa powder but your creations won’t be raw

You might also need to use more cocoa powder, in order to get the same depth of chocolate flavour as cacao

 

Add your favourite vegan friendly protein to ramp up the protein content. They’re then great little snacks for an immediate post workout protein hit.

And how you make them :

1.       Sprinkle a little desiccated coconut in the bottom of your moulds, this will give them nice little coconut tops

2.       Put nuts, seeds, oats, dates, 1x tbsp cacao powder + more desiccated coconut in a food processor and blend to desired consistency

3.       Add in 2x tbsp maple syrup and 1x tbsp coconut oil and blend once more, until the mixture becomes thick and sticky, then pack tightly in to your moulds

4.       Mix the remaining melted coconut oil and cacao powder to make a rich cacao chocolate, then drizzle on top of your moulds, creating what will become their lovely chocolate bottoms

5.       Put in your freezer for about 30 minutes and until set and they’re ready to devour. Make sure you keep them in the fridge when not eating, as this will keep them set and fresh!

 

raw vegan nut, seed + cacao hearts

 

Let me know how you get on making these. I think some bunnies would be fun for Easter, now where would I get that mould from? Post your pictures on Instagram tagging me so I can see your creations!

 

IsItVeganUK Goes to Barcelona – Day 1 : Friday 31st Nov 2014

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If you follow my Instagram (@isitveganuk), you may have noticed that I have just spent a beautiful and delicious weekend with the boyfriend in Barcelona.

I thought I’d share my vegan findings with you, in the hope of inspiring some vegan travelling, to this, my favourite of all cities – where we hope to move one day.

This was our second visit to this historical and foodie city, however this was a very different experience for us both. We were meat eaters the first time around and so this trip required some intense research and planning. We both suffer from a very common affliction – Food Strops! – and so being hungry in a fairly unfamiliar city, with no vegan offerings in sight, simply could not happen. I actually took a stash of Nakd Cashew Cookie bars (which the boyfriend is now sick of, while I remain absolutely smitten) to keep on me at all times, in case either of us felt the irrational anger that comes with hunger creeping up on us.

Before I get started on Barcelona itself, I must point out that we were able to get a very green and rather lovely sandwich from Pret A Manger at Stansted Airport. Enticed by the name – “Super Greens” – I was so happy to discover it was vegan and contained some rather healthy ingredients : wholegrain bread * avocado * kale dressing (wild mushrooms, lemon juice and tofu) * spinach * red peppers * toasted almonds (ingenious) * Pret seasoning. I’d reccommend if you’re ever out and about and need something quick and safe – a very good vegan option that’ll keep you going. Check it out : http://www.pret.com/menu/sandwiches/super_greens_PUK5336.shtm

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  After a quick flight, most of which I slept through given the ungodly early hour, and a brief pit stop at our hotel, we went in search of nourishment and stumbled upon Teresa Carles’ Flax & Kale – the boyfriend commented “that must be vegan with a name like that”. I had actaully read about this place beforehand, as the Teresa Carles restaurant itself had been reccommended to me on Instagram by @bcnfoodies. Flax & Kale is 1/3 of Teresa Carles’ food empire and despite what the name suggests, is not actual vegan, or even vegetarian, but is a healthy “flexitarian” restaurant – 80% plant based + 20% oily fish. We didn’t eat here, but luckily attached to Flax & Kale is another 1/3 of the empire, Teresa’s Juicery whose moto is JUICE BETTER > BE HAPPIER > LIVE LONGER, and serves a mixture of cold pressed juices, purees and mylks. All vegan, all cleansing and all refreshingly delicious. I stuck with my current green theme and ordered “Green Medicine”, while the boyfriend ordered a very colourful “Antiox”.

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These nutricious juices kept us sustained as we strolled down to the Gothic Quarter, perused some of the stalls selling general knick knacks, then sought out somewhere to enjoy some olives and coca bread with tomatoes (something we enjoyed most nights as an appetiser).

Next on the vegan hit list was Cat Bar, which I had read about from another blogger, that apparently serve not only the best burgers in Barcelona, but the best burgers (“vegan or not”) this particular blogger has ever eaten – http://keepinitkind.com/vegan-travel-barcelona-spain-part-1/ . Hidden down a quiet back street, Cat Bar took much searching to find, but eventually we did and took a table in the back. This place has a huge selection of vegan beers, we even found Brew Dogs’ Punk IPA here, despite being brewed in Scotland! The food however, despite being tasty enough, with HUGE portions, seemed to be an after thought to accompany the alcohol.

Here’s what we ordered :

  • “Crazy” Nut/Seed Burger (me)
  • “Mexican Red” Spicy Burger (the boyfriend)
  • 2 x spicy houmous + potatoes + salad (both – this was a mistake)
  • Pumpkin Ale (the boyfriend)
  • Weiss (wheat) beer (me)

  Now there wasn’t really anything wrong with the food. The houmous was nice and spicy, but you know, it’s houmous… The potatoes were lovely and hot, which is just how I like my chips/wedges etc, but again, just potatoes. I might have been expecting too much from the burgers, and while they were nice enough and definitely filled a hole, the buns were far too big and drowned the burgers patties. And what of the patties themselves? I can’t really remember, kind of says it all really doesn’t it? Needless to say we couldn’t finish everything, and left full but not overly impressed.

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We didn’t go back to Cat Bar. In fact I think there was only 1 place we did go to more than once (multiple times!) – Gopal, but more on that later. There were far too many other vegan hot spots that we wanted try try, and we were only there for a few days. I cann’t say for sure that I definitely wouldn’t go back to Cat Bar the next time I’m in Barcelona, but next time it might just be to sample more of their amazing beer selection, rather than for a full meal.

So that wraps up the first day of our vegan tour of Barcelona last weekend. Come back to find out how we spent World Vegan Day on Saturday 1st November !!!

Follow my Instagram (@isitveganuk) for more of my vegan musings, recipes, visits, finds and of course images.

Vegan Vs. Meat – The Experiment – Week # 3

VeganVsMeat Week 3 - 5                    VeganVsMeat Week 3 - 1
We’re on week number 3 and it is proving to be a challenge! However, no one said this was going to be easy, embarking on something so time consuming, when the days are getting shorter as the weeks wear on.
It’s not the diet that is proving to be my downfall. That was just a continuation of my current lifestyle, with some amazing new (to me) vegan protein products thrown in along the way. I’ve been feeling fuller for longer & less inclined to snack between meals – all down to the massive increase in my protein consumption? I have however put on weight, about 1.3kilos last time I checked, which is quite a lot – I do hope this is muscle gain though… We shall see.
My problem has actually been fitting everything in. So much planning has to go in to preparing and executing my meals, to ensure they have enough vegan protein, plus the right balance against fats and carbs. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners planned, weighed and cooked in advance, all take time. I’ve been rising early, in what feels like the middle of the night, to get to the gym before work – thank God for 24 hour gyms! And although I’d rather knock a session out in an hour at 6am, than take twice that long waiting for machines and weights after work, the early mornings begin to take their toll and it would be only too easy to roll over when my alarm sounds at 4:30am and stay in bed! 3rd early morning in a row today though, giving myself a well deserved rest tomorrow – with an extra hours sleep too, thank you Daylight Savings!
I’ve also not practised (yoga), on my mat at least, for a couple of weeks now… Though I like to think my yogic state of mind never leaves me, even when the asana (physical) practise may subside.
However, there have been some positive things happening at The Gym, Wood Green :
Last visit – 50% of the gym-ers in the free weights area were female!
Thursday am – 67%!
Friday am – 60%
Saturday am – 67%
Ok so there were only 4 or 5 of us there in total at the time, but you’ve got to start somewhere and outnumbering the boys in the here is always a good thing!
Also I’ve made a school-girl error in my squats. I’ve used the Olympic weights bar on the last 2 occasions, forgetting it weights 20kgs on its own! I’m only meant to be squatting 30-35kgs at the moment, but in my stupidity I’ve been adding this on top of the already 20kg bar! So I’ve actually been squatting 50-55kg! Smashing my 1 rep max of 40kgs, with still one week of training to go. I did wonder why I was finding the Olympic bar so much harder than the Smith machine… I did carry on with this increased weight this morning though, might as well stick with it and not wimp out now!
 VeganVsMeat Week 3 - 4
Physical observations :
* Although my muscle recovery is so much quicker than previously (no DOMS what-so-ever), training 3 mornings in a row has been tough – those last few reps getting increasingly harder to push through. However, in a way, I liked this. It showed me I’m pushing myself. I was beginning to worry I wasn’t working hard enough, hence no physical muscle soreness in the days after training
* I don’t like deadlifts, no matter how good you tell me they are for my legs or back. They are slow and boring. Also my forearm strength isn’t enough just yet. Those last few reps with 30kgs are a killer. I feel like my fingers are going to fall off. Thankfully they haven’t, yet.
* I sleep so much better on a day that I’ve trained than on other days, is this an obvious one? I’m experiencing the kind of deep sleeps where you hardly move, my duvet still tucked in at the bottom of the bed when I awake to the sound of my alarm. Actually, is this a good thing? Or is it exhaustion? Let me know your thoughts!
* Finally, exercise really is as good for the mind as it is for the body. On days when I’ve trained I manage to deal with the grind of daily life much better than on those days I don’t train. Yoga also does this for me obviously, but having not practised for nearly 2 weeks, I’m relieved to find I can still work out some issues on the weights, rather than my yoga mat.
I also have a confession to make. I’ve had a couple of PIG OUT sessions recently. I don’t know if it’s down to the restrictions of my current diet and having to focus on protein at every meal to ensure I consume enough at each and every meal time. So one night last week I ate a whole pizza (vegan of course) from Papa John, and one night this week I ate a whole family packet of Tyrrell’s crisps followed by homemade (by my fair hand) vegan brownies & (!!!) 2 or 3 (homemade again, obviously) protein squares! I think I just have 1 night a week when I NEED junk food – cheat days right??? And it’s vegan so could be worse, however I did feel awful after the crisps and brownies incident! Does anyone ever just binge?
So that’s been my training in week 3 of Vegan vs. Meat (vs. Fish). As always, keep up to date with our workout and diet progress here on my blog, on my Instagram (@isitveganuk), on the Training Temple Instagram (@trainingtemple) and blog also (http://www.trainingtemple.co.uk/vegan-vs-meat/)
 #RiseAndGrind
#NoPainNoGain

Vegan (Superfood) Chocolate Brownies !!

So I’m not going to lie, I like sweet things. “Sweet tooth” doesn’t quite cover it, but might go someway to explaining why I jumped at the chance to eat 9 (!!!) consecutive chocolate bars, when challenged by a “friend” at college –  added bonus, my “friend” even provided the bars. This tendency to over indulge in all things sweet might, also explain why I have always been a little bit well rounded.

Since going vegan about 6 months ago, I have eschewed most sweet treats but just recently, my cravings have come bubbling (sometimes quite violently) to the surface. I love a Nakd Cashew Cookie bar as much as the next person, in fact they satisfied my cravings for quite a while, but at the moment they just don’t quite cut it.

My absolute fave (do far) of all the Nakd bars
My absolute fave (so far) of all the Nakd bars

This week I discovered Camden Markets’ Cookies & Scream. I traipsed across town in the rain, to purchase a selection of sweet vegan treats for my boyfriends birthday.

Vegan Birthday treats for the boyf' from Cookies & Scream
Vegan Birthday treats for the boyf’ from Cookies & Scream

Now, delicious as they were, and believe me they really were – I devoured most of them, big surprise! – unless you make them yourself, you can never be entirely sure of exactly what goes in to these delicious morsels.

So I decided to give it a go myself! Here’s the recipe for my “superfood” chocolate brownies. Have a look at the results, give it a go yourself, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and see how your brownies turn out.

RECIPE

  • 3 x medium sweet potatoes (the “superfood”!)
  • 12 x medjool dates, pitted
  • 75g brown rice flour
  • 100g vegan dark chocolate, melted
  • 100g cacao nibs
  • 100g pistachios, shelled and crushed
  • 1 x generous glug maple syrup
  • 1 x tsp cinnamon
  • 1 x orange, zest of

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees
  2. Steam sweet potatoes – you can boil them, but I find they retain too much water that way
  3. Once cooked, use a food processor and pulse sweet potatoes and dates together
  4. Then fold in the rest of the ingredients
  5. Place in brownie baking tin of your choice – I lined mine with baking paper, to make it easier to slide brownies out when baked (my boyfriends’ top tip : use some olive spread to stick baking paper in place)
  6. Cook for somewhere between 20-25 minutes, depending on oven
  7. Remove from baking tin, using the baking paper, and cool on a wire rack
  8. once cooled, after about 15 minutes, dust with cocoa powder (& if you fancy it,  desiccated coconut too)
Mmmm - superfood vegan chocolate brownies
Mmmm – superfood vegan chocolate brownies

Store in the fridge – they’re actually better the next day, after they’ve had time to set. Give it a go. Play with the ingredients, maybe add some dried fruit, or different nuts? Let me know how you get on. I’d love to see the results and what other flavour combinations you’ve enjoyed. Oh and by the way, these are a great source of vegan protein. 100g vegan dark chocolate contains 10g protein!

Check back again soon for more more vegan tips and recipes.

BLOG : http://www.isitveganuk.wordpress.com

INSTAGRAM : @isitveganuk

Vegan Cottage Pie Recipe

In my quest to make more interesting and (anything but brown) colourful vegan meals, whilst keeping the protein content high, I adapted this BBC Good Food recipe for a good old comforting Cottage Pie (link to original recipe at the bottom of page).

I made the following substitutions :

For the pie :

  • olive oil – for rapeseed oil, not for vegan purposes but because it is better to cook with
  • beef mince – for soya mince (my first time using!)
  • plain flour – for brown rice flour, just healthier
  • red wine (optional) – I left this out, sober for October
  • beef stock – for Bouillon vegetable stock
  • Worcestershire sauce (not vegan FYI) – for balsamic vinegar
  • Neal's Yard Soya Protein Mince
    Neal’s Yard Soya Protein Mince

For the mash :

  • potatoes – for sweet potatoes, they are a superfood after all
  • milk – for unsweetened almond milk
  • butter – for Pure dairy free olive spread
  • strong cheddar – didn’t use or substitute (I’m not a fan of vegan cheeses)

I also added a layer of Heinz reduced sugar and salt baked beans – any excuse to add in some extra vegan protein, plus it keeps the whole dish lovely and moist.

The full amended recipe :

Vegan "cottage pie" using savoury soya mince!
Vegan “cottage pie” using savoury soya mince!

For the pie :

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1¼kg soya mince (312.5g unsoaked)
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • handful frozen peas
  • handful frozen broad beans
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp brown rice flour
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 850ml Bouillon vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • few thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to season

For the mash :

  • 1.8kg sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 150ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 25g olive butter
  •  salt and pepper to season

And the method :

  1. Soak the soya mince as instructed on packet. Heat the oil into the pan, add the vegetables and cook on a gentle heat until soft, about 20 mins. Add the garlic, brown rice flour and tomato purée, increase the heat and cook for a few mins, then add the soya mince to the pan. Pour over the wine, if using, and boil to reduce it slightly before adding the stock, balsamic vinegar and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 mins. By this time the gravy should be thick and coating the mince & veg. Check after about 30 mins – if a lot of liquid remains, increase the heat slightly to reduce the gravy a little. Season well, then discard the bay leaves and thyme stalks.
  2. Meanwhile, make the mash. In a large saucepan, cover the sweet potatoes in cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain well, then allow to steam-dry for a few mins. Mash well with the almond milk and olive butter, season with some salt and pepper.
  3. Spoon meat into ovenproof dish. Add a layer of baked beans, if using, pipe or spoon on the mash to cover. If eating straight away, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and cook for 25-30 mins, or until the topping is golden. Or allow to cool and then freeze.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/775643/cottage-pie

Vegan vs. Meat – continued

 We are a full week in to our Vegan vs. Meat challenge and my vegan protein diet is going strong. Some days I’ve even had to rein it in, as I could quite easily achieve, and even exceed, my daily intake of 70g of vegan protein goodness!

My breakfasts have continued along the oats, nuts and seeds route, with or without anti oxidising and low sugar/low GI berries. Around 10-15g protein to start the day off right.

My limited range of current vegan protein breakfasts
NUTS! My currently limited range of vegan protein breakfasts

Lunch and dinners have mostly consisted of rather brown concoctions – tofu satay, braised tofu satay (repetitive and unoriginal I know, but I have always loved satay, and the added protein from the peanuts is a pleasing & welcome bonus), soya chunk “chilli”, soya mince “cottage pie” (recipe on my next blog); made colourful by the addition of leafy green veg and deep red and purple beans – all rich sources of vegan protein in their own rights.

Mostly brown vegan protein lunches and dinners
Mostly brown vegan protein lunches and dinners

Before embarking on this dietary experiment, I had the rather naive belief that I would be able to continue consuming my regular vegan diet. Mostly fruit, veg, grains, nuts and seeds – maybe upping quantities just a little, to hit the 70g protein goal. Sadly this was not to be case. After some brief research the day before the experiment began (I like to leave things to the last minute, it’s a trait I’ve held on to from school, to employment, most aspects of my personal & professional life!), I realised I would have to consume a mountain of peas & beans, nuts & seeds etc, at each and every meal, to hit my protein goal. And so it was to processed and packaged vegan proteins, that I turned.

A fave - braised tofu from Holland & Barrett
A fave – braised tofu from Holland & Barrett

Perhaps I was a previously a vegan snob. And perhaps it was my decision not to include these nutrient rich protein sources in my vegan diet, that had led me to lose weight since embarking on my vegan journey, nearly 6 months ago. Not that my weight loss was that noticeable to anyone other than myself, and perhaps my concerned parents, who often comment on my bony and skinny frame – I am, by any stretch of the imagination, neither “skinny” nor “bony”, and at 9st and 5ft 5in, I am a perfectly acceptable and healthy weight. However, I have indeed lost weight, and may now have found the reason. It doesn’t appear to be down to excluding animal products alone (although high in saturated fats), but by cutting out high protein produce all together.

It is unfortunate that these nutritious (and delicious) vegan protein sources are mostly devoid of any exciting colour. Even my “Chocolate Smooth” soy protein shake, which I am partial to after a workout, is a rather slushy brown colour. And so I add green peas and broad beans, like juicy little emeralds, green broccoli – tenderstem and regular, green spinach, watercress and rocket to most lunches and dinners… So now there is a brown and green theme to many of my meals. I try make up for this with rich purple beetroot juices (I am still searching for the perfect recipe – suggestions welcome), crunchy orange carrots (with houmous – any chance for added protein jumped at), bruise-blue blueberries, green (yes, more green) and black olives – they’re loaded with antioxidants and a rich source of anti-inflammatories, don’t you know?!

And what affect has all this protein had on my body so far? Well DOMs are a thing of the past. I have experienced just 1 day of hobbling around from sore muscles, and that was the first day of the experiment, so the protein had hardly a chance to do its job – perhaps unfair to judge just yet. I could honestly workout every day, if time would allow it, my muscles would be happy with it. After starting off relatively cautiously with my weights, I have upped them already:

Squats – from 30kg to 35kg

Bench press – from 18kg to 20.5kg

Deadlift – from 25kg to 30kg

All modest increases so far, but increases none-the-less, and after only 1 week! I am excited to see where I can get to after 4 weeks. I am going to smash my previous PBs.

Here’s a reminder of where I started:

Height – 166cm

Weight – 58.7kg

Test results

1 rep max:

Squat –  40kg

Bench press – 40kg

Deadlift – 50kg

Plank hold – 3 mins

60 seconds press ups – 17

60 seconds chin ups – 0 (!!!)

Bleep test – 6.2

And where I have to get to:

Squat –  30kg       * ALREADY EXCEEDING

Bench press – 30kg         * not quite there just yet and not sure that I will get there, I find this the hardest

Deadlift – 37.5kg              * confident I can get there in the next 3 months

In summary:

* Diet is going well and I enjoy discovering delicious vegan offerings, working with new ingredients & being inventive with colours and hidden proteins

* I am surprised at just how valuable a high protein diet is, when trying to build, train and quickly recover my vegan muscles, and to some extent – maintain a healthy weight

* I’ve overcome my fear of the testosterone filled free weights area at the gym. I continue to front it out & eventually feel like I belong. I wasn’t the only girl there on one of my sessions this week – come on girls, more weights!!

Keep up to date with our workout and diet progress here, on my Instagram (@isitveganuk) and on the Training Temple Instagram (@trainingtemple) and blog (http://www.trainingtemple.co.uk/vegan-vs-meat/)

What diet is best for your body? Vegan vs. Meat.

 

This is my first ever blog post, and what better way to kick off IsItVeganUK, than by telling you about a month long experiment I embarked on yesterday.

“What diet is best for your body? Vegan vs. Meat” – http://www.trainingtemple.co.uk/vegan-vs-meat/

Myself (vegan), Saffee Dineen (pescetarian) and Cobi Campbell (carnivore) are exploring the effect that diet has on strength gain (full details on the above link).

I took up my new vegan lifestyle roughly 6 months ago. Despite a few initial stomach complaints, I feel more energetic and more alert than ever. Gone are the afternoons I fall asleep at my desk, and I now sleep soundly throughout the night. My skin is clearer, my hair shinier and my nails grow at an alarming rate. However, despite all these amazing and unforeseen benefits, I have dropped about 1 stone in weight. I can probably attribute this to a huge reduction in my saturated fat intake, but I wonder if it is purely body fat alone, or if I have indeed lost muscle mass too.

So when Saffee (Training Temple Yoga studio owner) approached me with her idea for an experiment, I jumped at the chance. For 4 weeks we will conduct a trial to see which diet enables the most strength gains; carnivore, pescetarian or vegan? I think most people will automatically go straight to the obvious; that a diet high in meat protein will see the most muscle gains. I hope we may see a different and unexpected outcome.

I stopped weight training about 1 year ago, when I started concentrating on my yoga practice, and since becoming vegan I have barely given my protein intake a second thought. Researching the protein content of all my vegan favourites shocked me somewhat. Yes my diet is already rich in nuts, seeds, beans and leafy green veg, but the quantity of these that I would have to consume, in order to hit my 70g of protein per day, would be colossal. I had to widen my search and think outside the box. I have tried to stay away from meat substitutes, and I especially don’t want to start consuming the hydrogenated fats in vegan “cheese”, so it has been to tofu that I have turned.

My first main meal was a braised tofu steak, purchased from Holland & Barrett, in a homemade peanut satay sauce. Why have I not eaten this before?! Pairing with beans, peas or broccoli, and with 3 steaks in a tin this has seen me through 2 lunches at work and one after workout dinner at home. I’ve purchased another tin and think that this will become a staple of the next 4 weeks.

Monday 6th October – Day 1 food diary

Mon 06 Oct 2014

Breakfast – Banana (mashed) with mixed nuts and seeds
= 10g of vegan protein

Lunch – Braised tofu steak in peanut satay sauce, with mixed pea salad
= 18g of vegan protein

Dinner – Braised tofu steak in peanut satay sauce, with broccoli, pea and broad bean medley
= 20g of vegan protein

Workout – Weight and bodyweight plan devised by Saffee, followed by a soy based protein shake
= 22g of vegan protein

TOTAL = 70g of vegan protein goodness!

Observations –

 Far too many men hogging the mirror in the free weights area of my gym
 Daunting at first (I was the ONLY girl in the free weights area), but I fronted it out. I will however try to get to the gym before work for the rest of the month. I’ll be able to use the equipment I want with no waiting, and will have the mirror all to myself
 Initial weights a bit high, so I am going to build up to them
 Felt good during the training, didn’t tire, but was starving by the time I got home, despite my post-workout protein shake

Keep up to date with our workout and diet progress here, on my Instagram (@isitveganuk) and on the Training Temple Instagram (@trainingtemple) and blog (http://www.trainingtemple.co.uk/vegan-vs-meat/)