Let’s talk about fats baby! Let’s talk about you & me!

Fat gets a really bad rep in the media. Low fat this and low fat that. A  healthy vegan diet is naturally low in fat. We must strive to remember however that fats help in the transportation of certain vitamins around the body, improve skin and hair, insulate and protect your internal organs and especially the fatty acids, help with nervous function and therefore brain power.

If you eat junk food that is laden with fat and do very little exercise, of course you’re going to put on weight. You can also be at risk of heart disease and cancer. However if you eat a small amount of healthy fat each day, you can improve your health, lose/maintain weight and look great.

So what are the fats to avoid?

Chinese takeways or any takeaways for that matter are often deep fried in vegetable oils or lard. An average takeaway can have up to 20 grams of fat. That’s a woman’s entirely RDA. Having a takeaway isn’t forbidden, but it’s probably better to make it more of a rare thing than a regular thing.

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100 grams of crisps (a couple of bags)  contains over 30 grams of fat. Don’t even think about going for the low fat versions either. Cut them out altogether. They are nutritionally void, especially if you’re trying to lose weight or stay fit.

Crisps

Fast food burgers and chips are again absolutely full of fat and especially trans and saturated fat which are really bad for your heart and circulatory system.

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Cakes and sweets are also loaded with unnecessary fat that you don’t need.

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What are good sources of fat then?

Linseed and flaxseed. I put half a teaspoon in a smoothie or on porridge everyday and it doesn’t taste of anything.

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Now this might surprise you, but leafy green vegetables. They don’t provide huge amounts, but they do have enough Omega 3’s to keep you going. I love kale and spinach and I’ll eat it for both lunch and dinner if I can.

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Avocados are quite calorific and that’s because they are full of good fats. As long as you don’t eat like 5 a day, you’ll be fine. I generally have about 3 a week and normally in salad, although I do like making guacamole out of them.

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Nuts and especially almonds and hazelnuts. They are at their best when they are unsalted and eaten as a snack instead of a bag of crisps.   hazelnutsimages

Good luck guys and make healthy choices.

 

 

 

Saf – Kensington

Mykey and I do occasionally like to splash out on an exquisite meal and our visit to Saf in Kensington ticked all of the boxes. Now situated on the first floor of Wholefoods on Kensington High Street, it’s about 200 metres from the tube station.

For an aperitif we had a bourbon cocktail which is described in there menu like this:

Kentucky On My Mind

For those who love to try something different. A very delicate taste of Heaven Hill bourbon mixed with triple sec, fresh apple juice, fresh lemon juice and orange bitters. Served with a slice of dehydrated apple

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It was absolutely delicious and bourbon was of a very high quality and this is coming from someone who normally refuses to drink it because they are a total whiskey snob. (That’ll be me!)

We also had some raw guacamole and crackers whilst we waited for our starters.

Raw Nachos with Guacamole

Hand cut raw potato and courgette nachos served with freshly made guacamole

The guacamole had a very bold feel. You could taste all the individual ingredients. Smooth avocado, crisp lime and a hint of chilli. The nachos were also delicious and they were available to buy from Saf in boxes.

When our starters came we also ordered two large glasses of red wine. It was thick and juicy, just how a red should be.

Malbec, Tizac

Catamarca, Argentina
Cigar box fruit, blackberries with just the right level of tannins are what to expect here.

Mykey had some gyoza and I had some dolmades. (Quite funny seeing as my favourite food is Japanese and his is Italian.)

Spinach & Sorrel Gyoza

Grilled rice pastry dumplings filled with spinach, sorrel and courgettes served with a tamari-sesame vinaigrette

Cheese & Cauliflower Dolmades

£6

Vine leaves stuffed with our signature tarragon cashew cheese, cauliflower rice and fresh herbs, served with lemon-aioli dip and herb oil

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The cashew cheese was to die for. I really need to learn how to make it because they were the best dolmades I have ever eaten. Mykey’s gyozas were smothered in a spiced vinaigrette which gave them a great kick. (Of course I stole a bite. Who wouldn’t?)

For our main courses I went for a raw lasagne and Mykey went for a noodle and tofu dish. Again we both tried each other’s food. The vegetables in Mykey’s dish were cooked to perfection. Not too hard and not too soft and the tofu was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just the way it should be. The walnut, almond and sun dried tomato sauce on my lasagne totally blew me away. It really made the whole dish, but didn’t overwhelm the other flavours.

Lo Han Chai

An energizing bowl of rice noodles with tamari marinated shiitake mushroom, sautéed baby spinach, mange tout and courgettes, grilled baby corn, grilled organic Saf brand tofu and water chestnuts

Lasagna Verde

Layers of courgette, marinated spinach, walnut almond and sun-dried tomato bolognese and a cashew and yellow pepper béchamel sauce served with a green herb pesto and side salad

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Dessert is quite often off of the menu for us at normal restaurants, so when we go to a vegan place we have to indulge. We shared ice cream and sorbet and also a Victoria sponge trifle. We spent the whole time we were eating the ice cream and sorbet guessing what the flavours were and we were totally wrong when we asked the server what they were. Haha! I still can’t remember what they were, but they were delicious and very unusual combinations. The Victoria sponge trifle is something that I need to go away and learn how to make. That would win Come Dine With Me it was so good. I sat there making mmmmm noises with each mouthful.

Ice Cream & Sorbet

Three scoops of our signature ice cream and sorbet served with crispy rhubarb biscuits. Please ask your server for daily specials

Victoria Sponge Trifle

Traditional and indulgent British pudding done Saf style, with raw vanilla cream, forest berry coulis, and soft sponge cake pieces

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When we had finished our meal, we had to dash because we had spent too much time getting involved with our food that we were running late for our gig that evening. Luckily eating a majority raw and wholefood meal kept us full of energy the whole night and we didn’t feel sluggish at all as we often do after heavy cooked meals.

At £84 it wasn’t cheap, but we did have absolutely everything on the menu including alcohol. I’ll give Saf a 9/10 only because it was so expensive.The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable. Well and truly recommended.

http://www.safrestaurant.co.uk

Chic Pea, Spinach & Red Pepper Medley

This dish is brilliant for protein, iron and calcium. I often eat this as a post workout meal You can also make it raw by sprouting the chic peas and not cooking the spinach or red pepper.

Ingredients:

  • Either a can or 400g of soaked chic peas.
  • A whole red bell pepper, chopped.
  • A handful of washed baby leaf spinach.
  • 1 Tsp. olive oil.
  • 1 Tsp of parsley, basil and sea salt.

Method:

  • Heat chic peas in water for 10 minutes if from a can and 20 minutes if soaked.

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  • Fry the red pepper and baby leaf spinach in the olive oil for 5/6 minutes.

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  • Drain the chic peas and mix in with the pepper and spinach.
  • Add parsley, basil and sea salt.
  • Serve warm or cold for lunch the next day.

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Noodles!

Sometimes you just haven’t got time to make something decent, but you still want to be relatively healthy. This is where noodles come in. I often make my noodle dishes out of spiralised courgettes or carrots for a lower carb version, but this particular meal was eaten at lunchtime with a big cardio session completed in the evening.

Ingredients:

  • Noodles (I got these mock egg noodles from my local oriental supermarket, however rice or soba noodles will work just as well.)
  • A handful of peas.
  • One whole tomato, chopped.
  • Five mushrooms, sliced.
  • A handful of bean sprouts.
  • One Linda McCartney sausage, chopped. (You may have to heat it slightly to get it to do this.)
  • Soy sauce.
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil.

Method:

  • Place some sesame oil in a wok and allow to heat.
  • Add chopped mushrooms, sausage and tomato and stir for roughly 3 minutes.
  • Then add the noodles, bean sprouts and peas and mix in for about 5 minutes.
  • Turn the heat right down and sprinkle with soy sauce before serving straight away.

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Abokado

I was having a rough time one evening so I decided to go and stay with Mykey in Catford and drop him off to work the next day in Farringdon. Of course as always he was a great help in lifting my mood and keeping me company.

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When I went to drop him off at work the next day, I was left with an hour to burn before I could catch the train home and decided to have a look around for somewhere to eat. I stumbled across a small Japanese café that appeared to have a few things I could eat. I was amazed when I walked through the door to find a treasure trove of not only vegan but seriously healthy options for me to have for breakfast. I stood there for a good ten minutes before I finally decided on a falafel wrap (not very Japanese I know), sea weed salad and a soya latte. All of this cost me under a fiver! What a result!?

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I told Mykey about Abokado and every day that week he sent me pictures of all the yummy food he was having whilst I was at work. Nice of him wasn’t it?

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I have since discovered that Abokado have 13 establishments throughout London and have a dedication to providing healthy food for all. Most vegan meals tend to be less than 400 calories and are certainly filling. The website also has extensive nutritional information and everything which is vegan is marked with a VE.

Pros

  • Healthy
  • Cheap
  • Friendly and knowledgeable staff

Cons

  • Only available in London currently
  • Not an entirely vegan chain
  • Not really any bagel or cake options for vegans

Check them out! 8/10

http://abokado.com/

abokado

 

What the hell do you do with tofu?

First of all, let’s get something straight: you say it toefu not toffu. Get it? Got it? GOOD! Now we can move on.

I’ve been vegan for 8 years in September and when I first made that step I had no idea what to do with tofu. It was just a big white sloppy mess that I couldn’t get to taste of anything. I had an email from a friend at the weekend saying that it was too soft for him and it was the first time he had cooked with it and that has inspired me to write this post.

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First of all, let us talk about the health benefits of tofu.

  • In 100g there is 17.9g of protein. This makes it a high protein food.
  • It contains isoflavones which can neutralise free radicals i.e. cancer causing particles.
  • Yes tofu does contain phytoestrogen, not oestrogen as the beef industry would have you believe. These phytoestrogens help neutralise the effects of human oestrogen which can cause bone density loss in later life.
  • It’s also full of calcium, manganese, iron, omega3 fats and it’s relatively low in calories and fat or what we would call a lean protein.

Now what can you do to make it super tasty? Here are some ideas:

When my recipe section gets a little larger there will be plenty of tofu recipes. I eat it quite a lot because of the protein vs. fat content. It really helps my training. In the meantime, enjoy and get some tofu down your necks!

beet_tofu_burger tofu kabobs (4)

Simple Quinoa Salad

This is often a staple for me when I am out on the road driving all over the country, or if I have a busy day at work. As you can see from the picture below, I am eating this at my desk.

Ingredients:

A handful of quinoa

½ Courgette

A few strips of dulse

¼ Cucumber

A handful of sprouted beans

Basil

Soy Sauce

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
  • Chop the courgette into half-moon shapes and place in a baking tray with a drizzle of coconut oil. Then sprinkle with sea salt. Place in the oven for 20 minutes and then leave to cool on the side before mixing with other ingredients.
  • Heat up a small pan of water and cook the quinoa as per the packet instructions. (You can set this up whilst the courgette is baking.)
  • Chop up the cucumber and tomato and place in a bowl.
  • Mixed in cooled and drained quinoa and courgettes.
  • Sprinkle with dulse strips, basil, soy sauce, sea salt and black pepper.
  • Mix with a spoon to give the ingredients good distribution throughout the dish.

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Subway: Do we love it or hate it?

Now we don’t have the veggie burgers and other mock meat in Subway in the UK, but there are still plenty of options especially for someone who travels a lot like me.

Some vegans I know refuse to eat there, stating that they don’t like salad and bread. I say you should make the most of what you have got. Healthy food at a cheap price, available nearly everywhere. It beats grabbing a bag of over salted peanuts.

Here are some of things that I have when I visit Subway either when I am out on the road or have to take a working lunch.

6” Veggie Delite (no cheese) in a wheat bread sub. I have this with literally all of the salad they have on offer and sweet onion sauce.

Veggie Delight

A foot long Veggie Delite (no cheese) in a wheat bread sub (There are other types such as Hearty Italian, but I’ll only really recommend whole wheat breads.) with all the salad again, but this time ketchup.

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A Veggie Delite Salad Box (no cheese) with all of the salad and hot chilli sauce. The picture below shows Redwood’s Chicken Style Pieces scattered over the salad. It tastes good on its own, but sometimes I need some extra texture and protein and I’m lucky that the subway I visit most often has a Nutricentre next door.

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There are also ready salted and sweet chilli crisps which I never have, but hey whatever floats your boat.

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The drinks however are all owned by Coca Cola. If you choose to support them, that’s up to you. I personally avoid them where I can.

 

At least three healthy lunch or dinner options which is a lot more than can be said for most places. Still hate Subway?

Where do you get your protein and calcium? *Sigh*

The animal agribusiness giants have certainly been successful in their plans to indoctrinate the general public from the mid-20th century onwards. Nearly everyone I speak to including some vegans, believe that it is hard to get protein and calcium from non-animal sources. This is due to a massive advertising campaign by the meat and dairy industries in newspapers, on television and now on the internet.

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wolverine-got-milk

The funny thing about the image above is that Hugh Jackman employed Brendan Brazier, a well known vegan ultra-marathon champion and nutrition expert to help him slim down the fat and bulk up the muscle for roles such as Wolverine in X-Men and Charlie Kenton in Real Steel. Brendan only promotes a high raw, vegan wholefood diet. Interesting?

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Then you have all the vegan bodybuilders and sports people who have more muscle than the average non-vegan Joe could ever dream of. How do you explain that?

It’s easy really. Protein and calcium can be found in a variety of foods. If you have a varied and healthy diet, there is no reason you won’t be meeting your daily recommended intake whatsoever. Calcium deficiency is quite rare in the wealthy nations of Europe and America and protein deficiency does not even have a medical term anywhere in the world because it’s practically impossible. Everything has some protein in, even potatoes.

There is evidence to suggest that over consumption of meat and dairy can lead to bowel cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and even early onset dementia. Also there is a positive correlation between the consumption of dairy products and the incidence of osteoporosis in countries that consume it as a staple part of their diets. (Books such as The China Study and Diet For A New America go into to more detail, but I wanted to keep the health implications of animal product consumption brief.) Sadly this isn’t common knowledge because of the influence animal agribusiness has on all forms of media and the government. (Remember learning about protein at school?)

Let’s look at some protein rich foods to start with:

Beans & Legumes

Beans

Beansprouts

Sprouts

Tofu

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Wholegrains

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Nuts & Seeds

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Hummus

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Now let’s look at some calcium rich foods:

Kale

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Oranges

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Soya Milk

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Oats

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Spinach

Spinach

Dried figs

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The above protein and calcium rich foods are just some examples of vegan food that contains both of these important building blocks. There is a huge variety across the board to suit all tastes.

Here is a tasty brunch that is rich in protein and calcium. Spinach, carrot and onion salad, raw orange peppers, soy yoghurt and mint dressing, baked beans and scrambled tofu.

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So there you have it!

Quinoa, Bean and Pepper Salad

Here is a quick, easy and nutritious salad recipe that can be eaten on the go.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ of a bag of Quinoa (Tesco is by far the cheapest place to purchase Quinoa at £1.69 a bag.)
  • A whole yellow bell pepper.
  • A whole red onion.
  • A handful of pinto beans. (Pre- soaked or from a tin.)
  • All-purpose Caribbean seasoning.

 

Method

 

  • If you are using pre-soaked pinto beans, you will need to cook these in water on a high heat for approximately 30 minutes first. If you are using tinned pinto beans, drain excess liquid and put to one side.
  • Pour quinoa into another pan of water and cook on a high heat for 20 minutes.
  • In the meantime, deseed and chop the pepper and peel and chop the onion into small chunks. Place in a large bowl.
  • Add cooked pinto beans (or from a tin) into the bowl a long with the cooked quinoa.
  • Mix all the ingredients together and sprinkle with Caribbean seasoning for acquired taste mixing again.

I’m lazy, so I just ate it out of the big bowl I mixed it in. You can serve with a fresh, crisp salad if you’re that way inclined.

 

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