Vegan stir-fry

Vegan stir-fry – serves 2 or 3

This recipe makes a really quick and tasty light vegan lunch for three or a more substantial  stir-fry for two.  I think its worth the effort to bake and add in the tofu, but if you really are in a rush then stick with the peanuts/cashews and sesame seeds.  All three ingredients add protein and some useful minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium and all the veggies are bursting with vitamins, fibre and antioxidants.  The spiralised sweet potato is a lighter alternative than rice or noodles.

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1 sweet potato – spiralised into noodles (or ready bought if you haven’t got a gadget!)½  (100g) large onion – sliced2 (130g) carrots – cut into matchsticks1 x (130g) red pepper – sliced

80g spring greens, spinach or mange tout

20g fresh ginger, grated or 1 tsp ‘lazy’ ginger or 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste

¼ – ½ tsp dried chilli flakes

¼ jar of Sharwods black bean and pepper sauce – this has the lowest sugar content of all of the jarred sauces400g of sweetcorn (tinned or frozen)30g unsalted peanuts or cashews1 spring onion – sliced

½ tsp soy sauce or gluten free tamari

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

For the baked tofu : ½ block extra-firm tofu (drained and pressed in a clean tea towel),, small drizzle of olive oil, 3 tsp light soy sauce, 1 – 1½ tsp gochugaru or sriracha spice

  • Preheat oven to 220C/ gas 7/425F.
  • Cut the tofu into into slices. Place it in a mixing bowl and add the olive oil, chilli sauce/paste and soy sauce. You may need to add a splash of water if it’s too thick. Gently mix to combine.
  • Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, remove your baking sheet from the oven and flip each piece of tofu. Drizzle the remaining marinade over the tofu and bake for another 10-12 minutes.
  • Once the tofu is crispy on the outside, remove from the oven. Let it cool before you cut it in to strips

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  • In the meantime spiralises the sweet potato in to ‘noodles’ and blanche in boiling water for two minutes. Remove from the water

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  • Heat the wok until it is really hot and add 1 tsp of vegetable oil. Quickly add the sliced onion and keep them moving in the pan (with a large spoon or chopsticks). After 2 minutes at the carrots. Again move them about to stop them burning. If it looks too dry add a splash of water
  • After another 2 minutes add the pepper, greens, ginger /garlic and chili flakes and ¼ of a jar of sauce. Cook for 5-8 minutes until the veg softens slightly. Again add some water if it sticks

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  • Add the softened sweet potato ‘noodles’ to the wok and mix in. Add the peanuts or tofu, soy sauce, sweetcorn and spring onion and again stir to mix. Cook for a final minute

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Divide into 2 bowls for a generous evening meal serving or into 3 bowls for a lighter lunch or 5:2 fast diet meal. And sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds

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How to be a healthy vegan

How to be a healthy vegan

What a vegan diet should include (macro and micro nutrients)

 

People have very different reasons for choosing a plant-based diet and for some the transition can be daunting and fraught with complexity.

people-ask-if-being-vegan-is-hard

Hopefully I can help you navigate your way through and understand what food types, nutrients and minerals you should include in your diet and what if any supplements you should ask your GP about

 

Lets start with the biggie PROTEIN!

Protein, if you didn’t know is a “macronutrient,” meaning you need relatively large amounts of it to stay healthy. Different protein sources contains various amounts of amino acids that help build and repair muscles in our bodies

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The average UK adult should eat about 50g of protein a day. To be more precise, it’s about 0.75g per kilo of body weight. If you weigh 11 st (70kg) your daily protein intake should be 52.5g. For a vegan that’s about 2 palm-sized portions of tofu, nuts, vegan quorn etc or pulses and beans

Protein rich meal ideas

Carbohydrates

This is another macronutrient, and its fair to say we should and probably do obtain most of our carbs from eating wholegrains, fruits, veg and pulses. And as with any healthy diet the carbs from simple sugars (cakes, biscuits, pastries, processed food etc) should be limited, as they have little nutritional value.

pasta-portionIf you need to lose a kilo or two I would advise you to portion control your bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. A balanced portion of wholegrain pasta or rice is 75g uncooked or 125g cooked. A portion of potato is 80g, and a serving of wholemeal bread is one slice

 

 

Fats

This is the final macronutrient. Its role is to transport fat-soluble vitamins, as a secondary energy source, to keep us warm and to aid brain function. It is the most calorific food at 9 calories a gram compared with protein and carbs at 4 calories a gram. So moderation is the watchword!

Too much fat has been associated with heart disease, obesity and some forms of cancer. With that in mind I would suggest for general cooking, dressings etc you use olive oil or rapeseed oil. Coconut oil has a higher smoking temperature and can be used for deep fat frying and roasting. Be careful of processed, diet foods and ready meals as these can have high levels of fats

vegan-shoppingAs more and more supermarkets are stocking vegan versions of family favourites it is now easier than ever to find vegan cheese, milk, yoghurts and ice cream. But just take a look at the labels and check the fat content as you may be consuming more than the recommended daily amounts of saturated fat (20g for a woman and 30g for a man)

Other fats to incorporate are from avocados, nuts and seeds.  They contain good levels of omega 3 fatty acids

Now we get on to the micronutrients! The foods we need in smaller amounts

 

Vitamins

Many vegans will have been told that they will be lacking in vitamin B12 and D. This of course can be the case but it could also happen to a meat or fish eater. It really depends on the person’s ability to absorb nutrients and how varied and balanced their diet is. That said vegans do have to take more care as B12 especially, is only found naturally in a few foods and most of those are animal in origin

B12

 

Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin; in order to keep your levels topped up spend about 10 minutes a day outdoors without sun protection. If that isn’t possible some vegan foods are fortified with this vitamin i.e. soya milk, orange juice, cereals and breads. Just make sure your D3 is from vegan sources. There is some evidence that if mushrooms are placed in the sunlight they will synthesise the rays in the same way we do and produce vitamin D enriched mushrooms

 

Calcium

Ryvita hummus

 

This mineral works with vitamin D to produce strong bones and helps maintain the function of our heart, muscles and nerves.

Good vegan sources are green leafy veg like chard, cabbage, spinach, kale, sesame seeds (hummus and tahini), oranges, soya (beans, milk, tofu)

 

 

Iron

Another mineral that vegans may have difficulty consuming because it is found in large quantities in meat and offal. But it is possible to have healthy iron levels if your diet contains some of the following: fortified breakfast cereals, kale, broccoli, watercress, soya based foods, dried prunes, dried apricots, nuts and seeds, beans, pulses and fortified wholemeal bread.

Vitamin C rich foods help with the absorption of iron but tea and coffee can hinder it.

Vitamin C

November is world vegan month

world-vegan-monthNovember is World vegan month

Taking better care of the earth’s resources and the environment, ethical issues about animal welfare, the use of antibiotics and growth stimulants in animal production or the health advantages of a plant-based diet. These are just some of the reasons why an estimated 1 million UK adults are now vegan

 

For some people it’s none of the above but they have allergies to dairy products or are lactose intolerant, hence the increased popularity and availability of soya-based dairy alternatives

But on the whole being a vegan is more of a lifestyle choice and a philosophy than a diet.

You can now buy ethical clothing, shoes, toiletries and makeup. But for ‘World vegan month’ I’d like to focus on the food aspect of being vegan.

vegan-cakeOver the last year I have seen a number of changes occurring across the Nottingham hospitality landscape.  As well as an increase in wheat/gluten/dairy free cakes and goodies, I have also noticed more vegan options in shops, supermarkets and eateries.

 

For instance did you know that the Peacock Hotel on Mansfield Road, Nottingham has a 100% vegan kitchen, Zaap, a Thai street food restaurant on Maid Marion Way had a good range of vegan options, Cafe Roya in Beestion front-menu-peacockis a vegan and vegetarian restaurant that does amazing food, Chakh le India on Trent Bridge does great vegan starters.  The Parlour in West Bridfgord has an impressive range of vegan cakes.  And the Alley Cafe, which has been around for years is still turning out great healthy vegan food.  Not to be outdone Sainsbury’s has launched a vegan cheese range and Tesco has launched a selection box suitable for vegans

 

Many vegans have a lower BMI (body Mass Index), lower cholesterol levels and a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

For some the transition to being vegan is a staged process; they cut down on red meat, then only eat fish, progress to becoming vegetarian then decide to take the plunge and go  for a 100% plant-based diet

 

vegan-shoppingFor those people the move can be manageable and not too daunting. But if your main protein source as a vegetarian has been eggs and dairy then it can seem more of a challenge. But as I’ve mentioned above supermarkets and other retailers are now producing more products that are suitable.

There are now many non-dairy alternatives.  Soya has the most similar nutritional value to milk and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes.  Always buy the unsweetened versions for a better nutritional balance.

 

If you think a vegan diet is worth trying then why not come to my vegan cookery classes more info can be obtained by following this link simply veg . I will also be running a Vegan Christmas cookery workshop every Saturday in November ; you can find out more on my blog page vegan merry Christmas

 

Three simple food tips

tofu-eggTip #1 – If you love eggs then consider making scrambled tofu.  It has a similar texture and is delicious.  Many baking recipes can be made without eggs, or use linseeds soaked in water.

Tip #2 – For vegetarians considering the move to a vegan diet start incorporating more beans, pulses, nuts and seeds in to your meals.  These will become the protein staples on a plant-based diet i.e. bean salads, chilli, curries, and pasta dishes.  Use nut butters in sandwiches and savoury dishes. All these protein sources are high in fibre, low in cholesterol and generally low in saturated fat

miso-non-veggieTip #3 - Learn to love labels. Some foods that appear vegan could contain meat or fish by-products. Look out for bonito (fish) in Miso, cochineal or E120 (a red food colouring) found in some alcoholic drinks, bakery, biscuits, desserts, drinks, icings, pie fillings, sauces and sweets. Worcestershire Sauce (anchovies), Marshmallows and jelly sweets (gelatin) or Beer (Isinglass).

 

Eating a balanced diet is important for all of us, however vegans may have to pay particular attention to their intake of B12 and iron.  Some cereals, breads, non dairy spreads and milks etc are fortified with B12 and as long as you have plenty of green leafy veg, dried fruits, pulses, oats and other wholegrain you should be ok for iron.

For more advice about adopting a vegan diet visit the vegan society website

Part time veggie

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

thai-tofu-curryOn Monday why not take part in ‘meat free Monday’ and become a part time veggie.   The idea is that one day a week you eat vegetarian or vegan meals. There are now an estimated two – three million vegetarians in the UK, who for a variety of wide-ranging reasons have given up meat and fish. You could become one of them

The number of vegans in the UK is also growing as the evidence that a plant based diet has health benefits increases

 

Why should you bite the bullet (or rather the carrot!)?

  • Weight – According to recent research by Cancer research UK vegetarians and vegans have a lower body weight.  Meat eaters who continue eating meat will carry on putting on more weight over a five year period, compared to those who switched over to vegetarianism.  The World Health Organisation believes being overweight can increase the risk of serious health consequences such as cardiovascular disease (mainly heart disease and stroke), type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis, and some cancers.  What is not widely known is that the risk of health problems starts when someone is only very slightly overweight, and that the likelihood of problems increases as someone becomes more and more overweight
  • imagesCholesterol – vegetarians  and vegans generally have lower cholesterol levels.  A recent study demonstrated that a vegetarian diet made up of specific plant foods can lower cholesterol as effectively as a drug treatment.
  • Longevity – many vegetarians and vegans will live longer due to their reduced risk of becoming obese, developing diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases; in fact vegetarians have 32% less chance of having heart disease than their meat-eating friends.
  • Saturated fat – Red meat, especially processed meat, contains a lot of saturated fat (plus sodium, nitrites etc) that have been linked to increased risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
  • beansCost – as food prices rise its good to know that you can still buy good quality inexpensive protein like beans and pulses and turn them into delicious meals such as  veggie chilli or cauliflower chickpea curry.  Buying seasonal vegetables and fruit will also make your meals less expensive and more nutritious. More delicious veggie and vegan recipes can be found on my blog

Quick tips

  • Add a tin of beans to your soups, curries, chills and pasta dishes.  You’ll be adding low fat, low cholesterol protein
  • Make a frittata bursting with veggies like peppers, onions, courgettes and mushrooms.
  • soupHomemade soups are a great way to introduce a vegetarian meal.  Add lentils for additional protein.
  • Spiralise vegetables and have them instead of pasta
  • Nuts can be ground to make your own nut butters – packed with protein and good fats
  • Chickpeas make great hummus. Add to jacket potatoes, enrich a cauliflower curry or smear on to a piece of toasted sourdough

However the veggie garden isn’t completely rosy.  There is a higher risk of developing a B12 deficiency, which can lead to anemia.  Eating plenty of milk, cheese and eggs or certain fortified breakfast cereals, non dairy milks, nutritional yeast if you’re a vegan, should provide enough of this essential vitamin

coucousIf you’d like to increase your vegetarian repertoire then why not come along to my vegan and vegetarian cookery classes in West Bridgford? They occur most days from 11am (Tuesdays start at 12.15), I also run a session on a Tuesday evening at 5.30pm

Contact me for more details or to book a place 07946 301338

 

More detailed information about healthy eating can be obtained from my previous healthy diet blog