I’ve been eating more vegetables for January. I’ve never really been one for New Years resolutions, but this year I decided to take part in Jumpstart15 and Veganuary. I’m so glad that I did. I’ve been squashing vegetables, squishing vegetables, juicing them, pureeing them, chomping on them raw. I always know that eating more veg will make me feel better, but after hitting the cheeseboard with too much gusto over Christmas it has been great to go back to my beloved veggies. No calorie counting, and not dieting. Just eating vegetable smoothies in the mornings, soups for lunch and making sure it’s all vegan.
I’ve been a vegetarian for years, but now I’ve gone completely vegan for January. I really thought that it would restrict what I eat more than it has. I’ve had my usual smoothies and soups and for dinner we have had Moroccan chickpea and squash stew, hearty bean and kale soups, adzuki bean and spinach chilli, wholemeal pasta with cauliflower alfredo sauce… I’ve swapped out the sneaky bites of cheese that I sometimes had for snacks and have a steady supply of veggies to dip into hummous. Treats? I have dark chocolate, dark chocolate covered rice cakes (I LOVE these) and there are plenty of vegan biscuits in the shops should I so desire. Almond Dream kindly sent me some samples vegan almond-milk ice creams that are delicious. I often have nut milks in the house, store-bought or homemade in the blender, but I haven’t found one that I like in my coffee so I’ve started to have it black. I’ve been trying to start my days with hot water, lemon and ginger and also to remember to drink more water. So far, going vegan has been quite easy. Wait, there was that blip in a cafe the other day when I forgot and had a cappuccino that wasn’t vegan. But I forgive myself.
Happy 2015 everyone! As part of a healthy kick for the New Year, I’m going to take a little break from my usual vegetable cakes, biscuits and treats (not that they’re all unhealthy!). Instead, I’ll be bringing you healthy vegetable-filled recipes for drinks, juices, smoothies and perhaps even some soups.
As I’m sure you’re aware, I’m obsessed with vegetables. In the past, whenever I’ve wanted to lose weight I’ve just increased my vegetable intake. I’ve always been a pretty healthy eater and a vegetarian since I was 12, but lately more and more processed food and chocolate has been sneaking in. I’m a massive lover of all vegetables so it’s time to take a stand and get back to my healthy ways. Writing a dessert blog hasn’t helped. Although I try to balance the cakes with healthier treats, testing and retesting recipes until they’re too delicious for me to resist the cake box or biscuit tin hasn’t been great for me.
My energy levels have plummeted lately so it’s time to get back on track. Sure, it could just be that I blog, work full-time, have a 3 year old and 4 year old and am moving house, but hey. Actually, that’s my other resolution: to stop giving myself a hard time for the things I can’t get done. But vegetables can only help. Energy-supplying, goodness-giving vegetables should help me feel better, look better and give me the energy to chase two little ones around pretending to be cheetahs.
Proper, good quality kitchen equipment makes the enjoyable task of cooking so much nicer, doesn’t it?
I much prefer cooking with cast iron pans and this saute pan by Stellar Cookware fits in perfectly with my other cherry red pans. I’ve not had a saute pan of this size before and I really can’t see how I’ve lived without it. Seriously. It’s been used daily since I was sent it because it’s the perfect size for making meals for my small family. Plus, *major plus point alert*, it’s really easy to clean.
The first thing I made was Food to Glow’s amazing Shakshuka, a tomato-based North African stew that is incredibly flavourful and perfect for a quick family dinner that’s healthy, quick and delicious. The pan was the perfect size and cooked the stew beautifully.
Ah, these lazy days of eating after Christmas. The steady stream of cheese, chocolate and stuffing has finally come to and end but I’m not yet ready to give up minor indulgences. Today, curled up on the sofa with the kids to watch The Jungle Book, we need something only slightly naughty. Enter: vegetables on popcorn. Yup, you heard that right. Sweetened, vanilla-infused beet juice candied over coconut-oil popped popcorn. So quicky, easy and delicious. Oh, and bright purple, naturally. It’s gently sweet, subtly vanilla-scented and utterly moreish.
I juiced the beets in my amazing Froothie Optimum 600 slow juicer, which calmly crushes the daylights out of all manner of fruits and vegetables. I’ll do a proper review of it for you in the coming weeks, but I’ve been putting it through its paces for a little while now and it’s fab. Perfect for a bit of a jumpstart January – getting back to healthy eating through fresh juices, smoothies and soups.
My American readers may be puzzling over this recipe. Mincemeat mini pies? Mincemeat contains no meat, but is a spiced, sweet mix of dried fruits and alcohol. It’s rich, it’s boozy and my mincemeat contains… pumpkin. See? You want to get in on this traditional British festive staple – vegetable style.
For my vegetable spin on mince pies, I’ve added vibrant beetroot to the pastry. Pastry is so easy to make in a food processor and now it even has veg – and a nice Christmassy colour. If you really want to go all out, you could also make my bright green mince pies with spinach pastry. Equally easy to make.
In the UK, mince pies are usually left out on Christmas Eve with a warming glass of brandy or whisky for Father Christmas, and a carrot for Rudolph. At least with these, Santa will get a little veg to help him deliver his pressies.
I feel that I should admit now that I’ve lost Christmas. We moved across the country to a temporary house a few months ago and put half of our belongings in storage until we buy our house (fingers crossed we’re in before Xmas!!). But, erm, well, we appear to have left our tree, decorations, elf on the shelf, stockings and all the other festive paraphernalia in storage containers a half day’s drive away. Oops. My kids are 4 and 2 so keep asking when the elf is coming. We’ve borrowed decorations from my mum and just keep hoping that we’ll find the elf box. Oh dear…