Monday, 14 April 2014

beetroot houmous, greenwheat freekeh and bluebells

hello lovely reader, thanks for reading today :) i hope you are well and happy, and that you enjoyed a sunny weekend.

today i'm doing a simple update post, with pics of my latest eats. i've been doing a lot of instagramming lately - so if you don't follow me there yet, pop on over to Instagram and see what sort of things i've been up to...

thank you so much for your wonderful comments and responses to my post about veganism - it's an exciting time for me, and it means a lot that you're all on board and excited too! even though i'm not 100% vegan (yet), i'm loving trying new plant-based recipes and meals, and food is tasting so good.

so here are my latest eats and treats:

breakfast of sweet potato mash with hemp milk, topped with tahini, ground flaxseeds, raisins and cinnamon - i love vegan breakfasts!

tortelloni with broccoli, sundried tomatoes, basil and a side of beetroot houmous

as part of Tesco's 'Healthy Living' range, they've got this delicious beetroot and mint houmous, which i often get when i'm at work as a side for my homemade salad.

i've now got several plants in the house - i take them on one at a time, and when i can show that i've kept one alive for at least a month, then i can purchase another... this means i can learn about the needs of each particular plant, and add the watering to my weekly routine. cyclamen and basil have been my favourites so far, so much colour and scent - perfect houseplants!

there are bluebells growing in the garden!! such a surprise when i saw them out my window for the first time, and such a refreshing colour too :)

i picked this up from Tesco the other day - i've read about this ingredient in my Ottolenghi cookbooks, but i've never actually seen it to buy. freekeh has an amazing nutritional profile (more protein than quinoa!), and is really easy to prepare.

cooked freekeh, with chickpea and veg curry, and a side of apple, radish, cucumber diced salad - an amazing lunch!

please do let me know what you've been up to in the comments box below, and also let me know if you've tried freekeh, and if so, how you cooked it...

currently listening to: empire by shakira - amazing song, a new favourite.

thanks for reading, 
i hope you have a lovely day.

Friday, 4 April 2014

my meat-osophy: flirting with veganism

a few weeks ago i was asked to share my meatosophy with you. so i want to share my thoughts on meat, and veganism, and update you on where i stand with things...

i currently follow a plant-based diet.

several years ago now i stopped drinking milk, and this was the catalyst decision that begun the whole process to learning more about eating a plant-based, vegan diet.

my journey began with reading Healthy at 100 by John Robbins - a book that i passionately recommend to anyone who is interested in health and nutrition. it is a great overview of the four longest-living people groups in the world - it looks at their diet and lifestyle and looks to find some answers to the problems faced by those living in countries with a lower life expectancy (or a lower quality of life in later years). it's conclusions intrigued me the first time i read it, and i've re-read it about 4 times since then, with a copy that is absolutely covered in highlighter and pencil marks.

from this book i learnt LOADS, and my eyes were opened to learning to question everything i had been taught about nutrition...

i've never been one to follow the crowd. i like to make decisions myself, and to look at things from a different viewpoint. i've also never been one to believe advertising and packaging, instead i always question it. i love to read and learn, and so i've done a lot of research over the last few years...

the first solid decision i made was to stop drinking milk. when you stop and think about it, drinking milk makes no sense. we artificially inseminate a cow to make her pregnant, then take the calf away after a few months, so that we can then drink the milk meant for that baby calf. yes it's nutritious, but that nutrition was meant to make a baby cow grow into a big strong adult cow. we are the only species on the planet that drink another species milk. for more on this, there's a great post on the raw vegan living blog - it's pretty long and has some thought-provoking graphics and pictures (see below).

so once i cut out milk and reduced my dairy intake, i saw a dramatic improvement in my acne. i switched to yummy homemade almond milk (see my YouTube video from many years ago giving some more reasons on why nut milk is great for your skin), as well as other alternatives like hemp milk, organic soy milk and koko coconut milk. switching milk is a remarkably easy change, and you can easily substitute these in baking.

since then, i've explored the primal diet, as well as paleo. i've watched loads of raw vegans on YouTube (dara dubinet is my favourite - so beautiful and encouraging), and i've started reading lots of vegan blogs (and pinning a serious amount of recipes). i listen to vegan podcasts - which seem to be some of the best sources of solid information and testimony (try rich roll and food for thought). i read vegan cookbooks (The Kind Diet by alicia silverstone being one of my favourites), and read up profiles on vegan bodybuilding websites (yes, you can build muscle and be fit and healthy on a vegan diet), and discover stories about ultra-athletes in their autobiographies (Eat and Run and Finding Ultra are my faves).

but until recently, i wasn't really putting much into action. i'd hear these facts and solid testimonies, and let them wash over me. i wasn't being AUTHENTIC.

recently something triggered a change in me...

i was watching an episode of supersize vs superskinny on catch-up. and in it i saw them do a fat removal surgery on someone, and when they put the big chunk of flesh on the table, not only did it make me gag, it also looked exactly like a raw chicken breast.

now i'm not one to be squeamish about such things; i was raised on a pig farm, and i've spent many hours milking cows with him on a dairy farm too. i know where my food comes from, and i know that to eat an animal means to kill an animal.

although Pete and i cut out red meat from our diet several months ago now, we've still eaten chicken. and we've made a conscious effort to buy locally reared, free range chicken.

BUT, i don't think i want to any more, and here's why:

  • factory farming is appalling - if i can't guarantee that something has been raised in a kind way, with lots of pasture and room to roam, i'm not going to go near it. it's not God's intention for any animals to suffer in this way, and i'm certain that part of the role of being a human is to protect animals, not to abuse them.
  • there are too many studies showing links between eating animals and disease. like loads. i cannot dismiss them any more. and there are also loads of studies showing the benefits of eating fruits and veggies. like loads.
  • sticking to the easy path isn't something i want to do any more. colleen patrick goudreau, the compassionate cook says 'don't do nothing because you can't do everything. do something. anything.' and so as hard as it will be, and all the challenges i will face, and though i'll probably slip up many times, it's worth trying.
  • it's better for the environment. if i actually stop and think about how many animals it would take to keep me fed in a year on a "regular" diet, it would be a lot. logically, in history people would have reared their own animals for food, and so even on that principle they'd be eating a lot less meat than we do today. there wouldn't be the same mass production of meat, causing 18% of the greenhouse gas emissions
  • vegan food is delicious! there are so many options for eating a plant-based diet, and so much information out their on things to watch out for, what to eat, and how to get full nutrition in order to thrive that i can't use it as an excuse. and with breakfasts like this (below) can i really complain?

  • i can get everything i need eating plants. i now truly believe that. but it has taken lots of reading and learning to really try and uncover the truth (i never believe the first person, i need a lot of evidence!). also through experimenting recently i notice that i have more energy, my digestion is amazing (my dodgy digestion was one of the triggers for me trying this out in the first place), and i'm excited about living out life in a more balanced and natural way. and officially i could live 6 years longer! as well as potentially cutting my risk of alzheimers, osteoporisis, cancer, heart disease etc.
  • it's cheaper - though we're not constricted by finances in our house, we would be if we started buying organic meats to eat each night, which is certainly what i would otherwise choose to do if i felt that was right.
  • i'm in with a good crowd - there are so many people out there who are vegan, and hearing testimonies has been the most powerful encouragement for me.

there are still a few things to consider: 
 - i haven't decided what i think about fish and seafood, apart from that i won't buy farmed at ALL any more and be much more stringent with checking this. i will continue to learn more about this.
 - the same with eggs and honey - until i've researched these fully, i can't say that i've made up my mind because i don't know enough yet.
 - i have decided to not be super duper strict about it - in the house i will be making a big veggie meal and adding meat to pete's portion and tofu to mine. that's quite simple to sort. but when we go out, i'll do my best to make good choices, but i won't not eat because i can't.
 - i know that to truly progress to the next level of health i need to step up my fitness, and do more exercise - so i'm currently considering different ways i could do this, and continuing with my daily walking. Pete is a fairly hardcore cyclist, and has almost convinced me that a road bike and 100mile cycling challenge would be a good idea! anyway with fruit & veg as my fuel i'm sure it'll be easier...

so there you have it. my thoughts at the moment. this is such a work in progress, and i feel as though my journey is just beginning, and i'm so excited! any advice, questions or comments please do leave them below...

thank you so much for reading, i hope you have a lovely day ♥