Month: April 2014

Aduki Paprika Stew with Sweet Potato Apricot Dumplings (GF + Vegan)

Because food ruts happens to us all!

Russ and I can get a little stale with our vegan stews. You know how it is, if it aint broke don’t fix it and if it’s your favourite then of course you wanna eat that and not experiment with other stuff. But there’s only so much black bean squash stew and spanish chick peas you can eat before looking at each other and laugh. It’s like a food rut that you choose to be in!

Anyway, this recipe is the result of a Saturday late morning dabble, a rummage through the cupboards and fridge and this stew happened.

Vegan Aduki Bean Stew

Aduki beans, sweet potato, kale, gluten free, zero dairy. Let’s do this.

It is what it is. A healthful, superfood packed stew suitable for vegetarians, vegans, gluten free guys, lactose free kids and hell bent carnivores.

Food for EVERYONE.

aduki bean stew

The beans and mushrooms provide substance, the dumplings give good comfort and the smokey spice of the paprika and apricots give a sweet warmth. It is delicious! I still love my black bean squash stew and Spanish chick peas, I always will!

aduki bean stew

I have no more words. See you soon.

Aduki bean stew vegan

Aduki Paprika stew with sweet potato apricot dumplings

(serves me + Russ)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped finely
1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
10 mushrooms, chopped
2 handfuls kale, torn
1 can aduki beans, drained (240 grams)
1 can chopped tomatoes + 1 of water
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
seasoning

dumplings:
1/2 cup GF flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 apricots, chopped finely
1 small cooked sweet potato, flesh only
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon soya yoghurt
1 teaspoon chopped dill or parsley
seasoning

method:
1. Heat olive oil over a low heat + add the first 4 ingredients until softened.
2. Add the remaining ingredients + simmer on low for 15 minutes. Add more water if necessary.
3. Combine the dumpling ingredients to form a cookie dough consistency. Form 6 small dumplings or spoon the mixture straight into the pot. Cook, cover for a further 15 minutes.
4. Serve with a sprinkle of herb + crusty bread. Why not?

 

Dairy Free Chocolate Birthday Cake

No not my birthday, mine’s July! I took this to my brother’s 40th tea party at my Mum’s house. She’s a good kid.

vegan birthday cake

So yeah, when you go over to the vegan side, mainstream cake is like really hard- eggs, butter, milk etc. It’s one big animal party in a cake. The thing is I like some chocolately dense cakeage and I knew I had to do something about it, so I made this. It really is like your average sponge, nothing ground breaking but hey I wasn’t trying to break any plant based cake ground but rather master a simple Chocolate Cake. I just swapped each animal ingredient for a plant ingredient such as coconut oil and nut milk. YUM! Of course I topped it with kiddy sprinkles, I was trying to be popular 😉 and make an appealing looking chocolate cake.

Vegan birthday cake

The other thing is I am pregnant, 5 months pregnant and I figured I will soon have the responsibility of being able to knock up a chocolate sponge that’s delicious and healthy too. C’mon, what Mum can’t make cake? Crikey, still can’t get used to that word.

I love how this is wholegrain with no dairy and no unrefined sugar. I know a few peeps who would knock me for this in a ‘oh let your hair down girl, it’s a birthday!’ I just say ‘bugger off’, life’s already short and ‘my’ cake is delicious and healthy and the bonus is it wont make you feel sluggish, collapse your bowls later in life, or cause a nice bit of type 2 diabetes. Steady on!

Vegan chocolate cake

It’s so easy too and takes 3 minutes to knock up with ALL the ingredients available at your local Sainsbury’s. The thing is if you don’t have coconut oil, use another vegetable oil such as canola, same goes for xylitol, just use raw cane sugar or maple syrup (but please do get involved with xylitol as it’s truly amazing stuff).

Not having an overly sweet tooth, chocolate cake has been on my to do list for a while, yeah who else can say that?! Anyhow, it’s done now and the result was: SUCCESS.

Vegan birthday cake

I have 4 nieces and they all ate this…..and enjoyed it too. There was a non vegan sponge and carrot cake too at the party. Fact is THIS vegan birthday cake got eaten first, seriously! Ashamed to say this recipe makes a pretty small cake, so next time I plan to double the ingredients and sandwich two seven inch cakes or make a larger single layer!

My work here is done.

Vegan birthday cake

Vegan Chocolate Cake

(8 slices, big ‘uns)

1 1/4 cups spelt flour
3/4 cup xylitol
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut oil

chocolate topping:

4 tbsp margarine
1/2 cup xylitol
2 tbsp almond milk
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

sprinkle with anything

method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 Âș CELSIUS. Sift flour, baking powder + cocoa into a large mixing bowl. Add the xylitol + salt, combining thoroughly. In a measuring jug, mix the remaining ingredients + add to the dry mix. Using a whisk, combine the mixture thoroughly resisting the urge to drink it all.
2. Transfer to a greased 7 inch cake tin. Bake for 30 minutes.
3. Remove + cool completely.
4. Meanwhile, combine all the chocolate topping ingredients in a small pan over a high heat and stir until smooth, silky + fully combined. This will thicken as it dries so glaze cake within 5 minutes + top copiously with yummy things like berries, cocoa nibs, sprinkles or anything that takes your fancy.

Being Pregnant + Vegan

healthy diet pregnancy
Pregnancy has been harder than I thought what with the weight gain, nausea and numerous other weird physical side effects (!) but I tell you something, it’s that much harder being pregnant AND vegan! Like really hard. Not in a diet and ‘oh geez, what can I eat?’ way but in a socially acceptable way. I truly wasn’t prepared for the amount of questioning I’d receive with regards to my diet, my baby and the absence of meat and dairy in my diet. It’s been a little like this:

‘So, now that you’re pregnant are you eating meat?’

‘What about milk, you need calcium for the baby?’

Are you still a vegan now you’re expecting?’

No, I know and Yes.

I admit, I’ve struggled the past few months with these questions and although I know people only mean well, I can’t help but feel annoyed and at times a little like public property! Of course I answer politely and tell them I get plenty of calcium from alternative sources etc but the look of uncertainty is all the proof I need that they just don’t get it.

The thing is, I know about food, about nutrition, I’m kinda sensible and I’m a bit of a research nerd so naturally I did my homework on a plant based pregnancy. I know what I’m doing, it’s everyone else that’s doubtful, and there lies the problem. The other day was a particularly busy one for questioning, like 3 people asked me straight out whether I was still a ‘veggie’ at a team meeting in between congratulations. I’m pretty steadfast, I have the necessary knowledge but there’s only so much you can take before you start to doubt yourself and go home to calculate your calcium intake for that day, your protein for the week and the iron content of your lunch. I’ll send a text to Russ relaying all of this, to be greeted by his response of reassurance followed by my own realisation that I really do know the facts and that I’m doing the best for my baby.

My recent scan showed everything is progressing nicely with baby being the perfect size for her weeks. I am not deficient in anything, have bundles of energy and my weight gain is bang on target!

I refuse to measure nutrient levels and weigh absolutely anything (well except when baking, lol!), believe it’s completely unnecessary and why should I anyway? My body isn’t lacking a single nutrient, I look and feel full of energy and my baby is happy and healthy. I believe this is because I eat REAL food. Nobody seems to comment or judge the mum to be who drinks diet coke, eats KFC and a large bag of haribo but rather they are reassured they are eating for two and to enjoy it whilst they can!

Diets, especially during pregnancy are pretty personal and very individual and the following is what works for me but everybody is different, thank goodness 😉 Above everything, knowledge sure is power.

Here’s what I’ve been doing since being pregnant:

1. I have gone ORGANIC. Or partly organic. I try to at least buy the dirty dozen all organic alongside staples such as bread, nuts and oats. This change will stick with me, less chemicals is never a bad thing.

2. I have increased my intake of healthy FATS at each meal particularly oiive oil, nut butters, avocados, nuts, seeds, tahini, vegan cheeses. I find this alone has helped me feel more satiated and given me a level energy throughout the day.

3. I make sure I eat CALCIUM rich foods daily and it’s really quite a breeze on a plant based diet. I personally maintain healthy levels by eating the following: green leafy veg such as broccoli, kale, spinach and cabbage (did you know there’s more calcium in a cup of collard greens than in 1 cup of milk), fortified nut milks such as almond or coconut that contain 30% RDA in 200 ml, tahini which provides 10% RDA in just 1 tablespoon, molasses to sweeten, fortified oatmeal (Ready Brek) provides an excellent source too with a large bowl containing a whopping 60% RDA, an orange a day because I just love them, a handful almonds whenever I’m peckish, chickpeas / any pulse really (20% RDA in 1 cup) in a stew/curry or hummus and fortified wholemeal breads.

4. I have upped my IRON intake a little too by making sure I eat a wide selection of iron rich foods throughout the day including sweet potatoes, raisins, dates, figs, prunes, molasses, peas, artichokes, dark leafy greens, spirulina in smoothies, pumpkin, all whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans, beans and more beans.  At least once a day I’ll try to have a food rich in vitamin C alongside iron rich foods such as baked beans and sweet potato to improve the iron absorption. Oh and chocolate too – a 3 oz. portion of cooked ground beef (70% lean meat, 30% fat) contains 2.11 mg of iron, while 3 oz. of dark chocolate boasts 10.12 mg.

5. I drink way more WATER. This has made a HUGE difference to my digestion and energy levels and I just know that 3 litres a day makes a big difference to my wellbeing and my baby’s too.

6. Dear old PROTEIN and where d’ya get it from!  Well I aim for a little more than before, about 70 grams per day. It’s easy as hell to get enough protein as a vegan if you cook real foods so I just keep a mindful eye on making sure I get some quality protein in at each meal from my favourite sources, including greens (most people don’t think of greens as punching much of a protein punch but they really do), nuts, seeds especially hemp, lentils, beans (15 grams in 1 cup!), nut milks, sprouted grain breads, oats, quinoa, cocoa (yeah really!) and occasionally Quorn. I don’t sweat this protein lark as other people do, that’s enough for me!

7. I have VICES. Beer and coffee. No more beer but I still drink coffee, just two cups in the morning and refrain from caffeine for the remainder of the day.

8. I take a general pregnancy SUPPLEMENT as advised by my midwife such as Pregnacare and also a B12 supplement.

So I pretty much eat the same foods I ate before, but at the start of my pregnancy I made sure to take a closer look to ensure I was covering all bases. I believe my body (and midwife!) will tell me if something’s up and I plan to continue eating a whole foods plant based diet for the reminder of my pregnancy and after that too.

Some light reading:

http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/veganpregnancy.php

http://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle/parenting/vegan-babies-and-children/pregnancy.aspx

https://www.vegsoc.org/

http://www.vegkitchen.com/nutrition/vegetarian-pregnancy/

Running During Pregnancy + Reasons to Continue

Running is definitely a big part of my life, I really do LOVE it. I’ve been running for 11 plus years with a 39 minute 10K and a 3.04 Marathon time under my belt. So although I’m no Paula or Kara, I was still pretty good for an amatuer. I say ‘was’ because I really don’t feel like the same girl, the girl that popped on her running shoes for a pre-work 40 minute 6 minute mile paced run. The girl who jumped on the treadmill to race Russ on a 5K time trial! It’s all very different now and I don’t even know if i’ll be as good as I was again.

running pregnant

 

I knew things would change when I got pregnant, and being a worrier I have done a hell of a lot of research into the effects of moderate exercise, specifically running when pregnant. I have found nothing that concerns me whatsoever but rather have been inspired by other pregnant runners and the major health benefits that remaining fit and healthy throughout pregnancy brings with it. Of course I’ve had to make changes and adapt to my changing body but keeping up with running has kept me sane and healthy in my first 5 months! Well almost……I’m pregnant after all!

Here’s how I’ve continued to run:

I mentioned it to both my doctor and midwife. Both were happy for me to continue.

I’ve had to explain to the worriers. So some people are really shocked by a pregnant runner whilst others are like, ‘oh cool’. This is pretty hard when you know you are doing nothing but good for yourself and baby and a few people remain concerned and sometimes alarmed! So to the worriers I explain how slow I now run, that I’d never push myself, how good it is for me and baby and that it really IS healthy. No one’s spat on me yet as I’ve jogged on by, lol!

My Goals have shifted big time. It’s no longer about the times and the fitness but rather the fresh air, endorphins, blood flow and pure enjoyment of getting out there. No GPS needed.

Gosh I’ve slowed down! To be honest I could still run a lot faster than I am but it’s like a mental running block, I just can’t and won’t go my old pace and don’t believe that would be healthy for me or my baby. Anyway there’s been something rather liberating about just running for the sheer fun of it with no timers and no measurements whilst just taking it all in.

During the first month or so of pregnancy I was running pretty much my average times but after 6 weeks or so I slowed to an 8 minute per mile pace and at 5 months I’m now averaging 8.5-9 minute miles. For me this feels right but of course everyone’s different. I can still chat rubbish as I run and generally enjoy the time I spend outside in the mornings but still have that post exercise endorphin rush. Winner.

I diitched the watch- it was hard seeing my time go slooooooooooower and slooooooooooooooower so I quit timing and all that. It’s been so much more enjoyable.

I cross train more often- I don’t feel like I can or want to run as much as my former pregnant self did but I enjoy the cross trainer, walking, yoga and resistance as an alternative.

I make sure I stretch and do those pelvic floor exercises- I am so paranoid about peeing myself that I am actually pretty good at doing these and stretching post run helps with lower back pain and wards off extra soreness too.

I go with how I feel- if it doesn’t feel right or I’m way too tired, I don’t run.

running pregnant Utah

I’ve learnt to let go. Let go of being fast, catching other runners up, racing when I want and looking like a runner. Russ is racing a 10K with my brother at the end of April and I’m only a tiny bit jealous.

I’m now at that point where I need a bigger bra. I’ll be purchasing a new one asap as my ‘new’ boobs are making running a lot harder for me!

Some people think pregnancy is a time for relaxing and slowing sown and I’m one of those people which is why I still run. It’s therapy to me, it’s me time, fun time and at times bliss but there are so many other reasons to keep active whilst pregnant and these are mine:

Why I run during pregnancy?

  • Because above all I’m a runner and with a few adaptations I can continue safely.
  • Maintaining my fitness has positive effects not only throughout pregnancy but for labour too.
  • It’s good for heart, circulatory, digestive and mental health and a healthy Mum = a healthy little one.
  • Endorphins! I have given up my coffee habit, a few weekend beers, the odd glass of wine and I refuse to give up running albeit a slowed down version of my former self. Running simply makes my head feel great.
  • SLEEP- my sleep is not like it used to be pre-pregnancy and the difference in sleep quality and length between run and non-run days is unbelievable.
  • Circulation- although running has a myriad of health benefits I specifically have noticed how my body feels mighty sluggish since I’ve been pregnant and running has been my saviour for a better digestion and overall feeling.
  • Fresh air and bonding time with my baby. I really do feel quite connected to her while I am running in the early morning peace and quiet.
  • Energy- sounds funny but on run days I’m more energised for the day ahead.
  • Reduces the excess weight gain, cellulite and varicose veins that pregnancy seems to bring with it!

 

running pregnant
Running is really working for me so far and as long as it remains painless, I’m injury free, at a healthy weight and my baby’s growth targets are on track, I’ll continue to do so. Similarly, when she’s here I will continue to run as it truly does make me a better and nicer person and I believe I’ll be a better Mum for it.

 

Vegan Boiled Fruit Cake

I love dried fruit so it’s no shock that fruit cake is one of my favourite cakes. Actually, it IS my favourite cake. Raisins, sultanas, dates, apricots, currants, cranberries, blueberries – all of ’em, I love them. So it was hard for me growing up with a sister who picked the raisins out of her muesli, the currants out of her buns, the dates out of her puddings and turned her nose up at a moist iced wedding cake! What is she mad!? It actually stumped me because there is nothing nicer than a thick slice of fruit cake, to me anyhow. A big statement but so true.

Vegan Boiled Fruit Cake Vegan Boiled Fruit Cake

It seems that everybody’s Nan or Mum makes the best bolied fruit cake recipe ever so I’m not claiming this is the best by any means but it’s certainly free of any animal products (love that of course), is possibly a little lower in sugar, undoubtedly wholegrain too. This vegan boiled fruit cake is already a winner to me. Ok, this is better than your Mum’s and your Nan’s, sorry.

vegan boiled fruit cake

So why is this vegan boiled fruit cake better than your Mum’s?

It’s vegan- yippeee. I DON’T need cow stuff in my cake and nor do you!
It’s lower in sugar, dried fruit is pretty sweet already right?
Hello wholegrain. Spelt flour is pretty impressive when it comes to baking and much higher in fibre and lower in gluten than your average white flours. Spelt flour is a good friend.

So yeah it IS better than your Mum’s AND your Nans – so so sorry but it’s true.

vegan boiled fruit cake

Oh and another thing, fruit cake isn’t just for Christmas but all year surely. There is nothing better than a pot of tea and a wedge of fruit cake in the afternoon, or evening! Oh and the smell of freshly baked fruit cake is pretty hard to beat for me too.

Vegan Boiled Fruit Cake
Enjoy and get fruity.

Vegan Boiled Fruit Cake

120 grams vegan butter
1/2 cup raw brown sugar
400 grams mixed fruit
1/4 cup chopped cherries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1 cup almond milk
1/4-1/2 cup water
2 cups spelt flour

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 160ÂșC + line a 7-8 inch cake tin.
2. Meanwhile add all the ingredients apart from the flour to a pan over a low heat + simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Allow to cool before adding the flour. Once the flour + fruit mixture is thoroughly combined transfer to the cake tin + bake for 1 hour or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
4. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.