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I didn’t post about my twelfth OddBox because I didn’t make anything that interesting. Here is what I received in my most recent instalment.

My flatmate brought me some curry mix back from Singapore. I used some onions, the squash and potatoes in a vegan curry. It was really tasty!

I added a block of Tofoo brand extra-firm tofu to increase the protein content. The curry paste is pretty spicy so it’s nice to have something bland in there too.

I used the beetroot, an apple and the remaining onions in this vegan galette.

I found the recipe on Pinterest. I have to say the galette is amazing. The vegetables all have the right texture (this was on me, I roasted them for different amounts of time until I was happy) and their natural taste is enhanced by the dressing. The pastry is lovely and crisp. I used chunky sea salt that adds an extra crunch too. I was worried that it would be horribly dry. Like the vegan patties I made, the galette is on the dry side but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment.

You can easily adjust the recipe according to what you have. I used quite a bit more veg than stated in the recipe (due to what I had on hand). I just rolled the pastry extra-thin and piled the veg high. It worked well.

I made soup with the cabbage.


Last week, I returned from Lapland to my latest OddBox delivery.

I must say that I was baffled by the item in the bottom left corner. I thought it was a beetroot but there was no indication on the website or letter that we would get beetroot this week. I then thought it might be a really big potato. It smelled like a potato.

It was indeed a yellow beetroot, though I wasn’t entirely certain until I had cooked and tasted it 🙈

I stir-fried the cavolo nero and purple broccoli.

I followed the recipe that came in the box for a roasted carrot and lentil salad. I don’t really like roasted carrot (I prefer sweet potato) but I liked the lentils and dressing, and it was pretty filling.

I also followed the vegetable soup recipe from the box. The soup is serviceable but it looks repulsive.

I also managed to have zero waste vegan quidditch tournament! When I realised that the only available food would be from a burger van, I took some time to food prep. I had shopped in the Source and Lemons & Limes, a lovely greengrocer in Chiswick. I made the satay noodle dish I’ve done a few times before.

I packed two servings and warmed them up each morning before transferring to my vacuum flask.

Since I was volunteering, I got a £5 food voucher. I got some (black) coffee in my keep cup and the lid of my food container saved a couple of polystyrene trays from landfill. Its so nice to be able to eat hot food when you’re standing around outside in Manchester all day.

The team I was coaching came third and my club’s second team (London Unstoppables) took silver, so all in all a successful weekend.


My most recent Oddbox arrived during the busy final week of Veganuary.

I made some sticky sesame cauliflower. Since I didn’t have any sesame seeds, I added in some cashews. It was pretty nice- possibly some of the enjoyment was lowered because I didn’t reduce the sauce enough. I’m not sure if I would make this again because it really was not filling. I still struggle to remember that just because something looks like a decent amount of food, vegetables simply do not fill me up.

I haven’t eaten a turnip (to my knowledge) in years so I decided to roast it. The roasted turnip was okay. I wasn’t sure if I like turnip but I think that it’s swede that I really hate. I don’t tend to like bitter vegetables. The leftover roast swede was slimy and inedible so I stuck that in with the remaining cauliflower when I made some meatless balls. I’ve made this recipe before. It’s quite easy, filling and a good way to get rid of cauliflower.

The kale, cucumber and fruit went into either smoothies or lassis. I decided to go with a lassi as a non-vegan treat but I made the regrettable decision to try kefir rather than using Greek yoghurt. I will certainly not be doing that again. I juiced the carrots as I did with the beets last week. I am going to stop juicing until I have found a responsible way of disposing of my food waste. Even though I am ‘using’ the veg, in reality most of it is going in the bin.

Overall not the most interesting week but things have been so busy and hectic that I’m just pleased to have managed not to waste much food.

Weekly tilt

I stayed in a hotel at the weekend and remembered anew that sachets of instant coffee and individually wrapped tea bags are the status quo at most chains. I need to start travelling with my own sustainable solution. At home, I have vegan flat whites made from package-free beans and oat milk (tetra pak but not much alternative at present).

Weekly triumph

I have managed to convince my aunt to stop wrapping presents for me in foil gift wrap (it’s my birthday on Thursday). Even though there is still tape, at least I know that it’s reused paper rather than virgin material.


Day 29

Our Finnish friend brought us some rye bread that she recommended for avocado toast.

It was very nice indeed. I had the last serving of white chilli for lunch. I was still hungry after eating my energy bar when I was finished with my school visit. I got a Crosstown doughnut.

I had some of the pea soup I made last week for dinner. It was quite spicy! Maybe I added too much pepper.

Day 30

Had avocado toast first thing, then some leftover hummus and oatcakes after the gym. I had an early lunch of pea soup before heading to a meeting. We went for a couple of drinks after the meeting and I ate a lot of the crisps on offer. I had a patty on the tube home and then some (more) oatcakes with almond butter because I was still hungry.

I also figured out how the use the juicer because I wanted to get rid of the last giant beetroot I had. I made beetroot, apple and celery juice with some turmeric and ginger. It was pretty nice, but I am just not that crazy about beetroot.

Day 31

I had the rest of the juice and a banana and almond butter toastie for breakfast. I didn’t have any chocolate to add, but it was still tasty.

I was already peckish on my way back to the office at 11.30 so I decided to try the Gregg’s vegan sausage roll. Overall the experience was pretty identical to eating a normal sausage roll, i.e. initially pleasurable but overall regrettable.

I had the last of the satay-style noodles for my proper lunch. For dinner, I went to BoxPark with some friends to see Veganuary out in style. I had my first experience of seitan courtesy of the Athenian. My flatmate and I split a doner kebab.

And some jackfruit ‘wings’ from Biff’s Jack Shack.

I wasn’t that keen on all of the flavours. I liked the sweetest one (I think it had bourbon in it. If I go back to BoxPark (and I’m sure I will at some point), I would like to try their burger.

Final reflections

Overall Veganuary was a positive experience after a difficult start. As hoped, it has opened my eyes to the amazing array of vegan options on offer in London.

My friend Emma used the term freegan, which I prefer to flexitarian. Overall my intention is to remain mostly plant-based, especially at home. However, it’s important for me to give myself permission to occasionally choose animal products if that’s what makes sense or what I want in a particular situation.

I was a little bit concerned that I would gain weight because I have been eating so much more than normal. In fact, I have lost about 1-2kg over the course of the month. While our society normally celebrates women taking up as little space as possible, I’m not sure if this is a good thing. I was already a healthy weight so I hope this does not mean that I have lost muscle mass.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4


Day 22

Had some more of the porridge I made yesterday morning for breakfast. Again I was severely lacking in time in the morning so I heated the porridge and took it with me in my vacuum flask. I ended up eating it on the bus after midday. I had my two beetroot brownies at lunchtime.

I took the final serving of the vegan stew I made a couple of weeks ago for lunch. Since I had breakfast so late, I didn’t eat that until around 4pm. Just as well because it ended up being one of those days and I got booted out of the office at 8pm.

Popped into M&S on the way home. They had some vegan items heavily discounted, which seemed like the perfect opportunity to try their meatless balls. I also got some extra firm tofu and some vegan coleslaw. The slaw was delicious!

I ate it with another vegan patty. Juici beef is a well-known patty brand in Jamaica so I got a good wave of nostalgia from this one. The stew peas (which I believe in Patois is pronounced ‘stroo-pea’) is a change from the other brands, which basically contain mixed frozen veg.

The reason I went to M&S was to get the few bits and bobs I needed to make this ‘white chilli’. It contains quite a bit of nutritional yeast, an ingredient I have mixed feelings about. However, it does give the dish a rich umami flavour.

Day 23

Apple pie porridge for breakfast again and then I had the ‘white chilli’ for lunch. I find the term white chilli dumb. It’s stew. It probably doesn’t help that the chilli peppers I used turned out to be super mild. Also the squash, though beautiful, isn’t as sweet as a butternut. Some tomato would actually liven it up.

Overall I rate the dish 3/5. It tasted fine, I didn’t dislike eating it, and it filled me up. I bulked it out with some brown basmati rice. I only got about 1kg of food from the recipe and the rice stretched it to three 500g servings, which was a decent amount. I also ate two of my beetroot brownies.

I needed to eat some snacks so had this protein/granola bar and a packet of crisps. Dinner was another patty with the remaining coleslaw and a big bar of dark chocolate.

Day 24

Felt rough all day (unrelated to veganism). Ate my remaining porridge with fresh blueberries.

I also had half a vegan yoghurt. It was horrible compared to the other brand I had the other week (bright yellow lid).

Lunch was a tiny bit of white chilli and two of my beetroot brownies. After going to the gym, I had a protein shake and a tofu steak. I used the extra firm tofu I picked up for cheap at M&S the other day. I followed this recipe and used some Panko that I’ve had for years. I love Panko, I just don’t use it at home much.

It was crazy good. It was definitely more akin to fried chicken than steak but I was surprised by how much I loved the texture. Worth pressing the tofu. This was my first time ever cooking it! I ate it with some of this blueberry bbq sauce that came in my first ever OddBox. It’s been a blueberry-heavy day!

I got invited to a blogger event in the evening and they put on a spread with lots of vegan options.

I was also more tempted to break my Veganuarian vows than I have been all month.

🧀

I held firm.

Day 25

Had some of my flatmate’s pancakes for breakfast. I had white chilli for lunch and a protein shake as a snack. I ate the other tofu steak when I got home, then prepped some pea and potato soup for next week. The potatoes from my OddBox were starting to sprout. I also cooked satay-style noodles for some friends.

We were going to make apple crumble but ran out of time! We did have some ice cream, though, which was very nice.

Day 26

This weekend was the European qualifying tournament with my quidditch team. I woke up very early to prepare a protein shake and coffee to take with me. I also had a vacuum flask with some of yesterday’s noodles.

It was a tough day and we went to Westfield for a team meal afterwards. The vegan options in the ‘world food court’ were surprisingly sparse. I ended up having the vegan pizza from Franco Manca, which was very tasty. If a little painful to eat due to having a cut lip.

I bought some fresh turmeric when I visited a greengrocer on Friday. I tried making golden milk. I shout a lot at tournaments and my throat is normally really painful in the evenings. I think it’s a nice evening drink with no caffeine.

I took this pic to show the difference before and after steaming. I left the other half of what I made in the jar overnight and the colour had developed by Sunday.

Day 27

Day 2 of EQT. Prepped another protein shake and coffee. I had some coconut yoghurt with granola on the way to the venue.

I find it very hard to eat on tournament days. We have games at times we don’t always know in advance- roughly every two hours so you can’t eat anything too heavy. The combination of adrenaline, emotions and tiredness mean I don’t feel hungry. I had no appetite all day. I’m purely fuelling my body.

We went to the Markethall in Fulham on the way home. I had half of this different vegan pizza (the place has dough in the name). It was delicious too. Also had some guac and chips. I was disappointed because the menu offered vegan churros but they weren’t actually on sale for another week. That’s the concession’s loss since they will miss Veganuary.

Had some more vegan ice cream and the rest of my golden milk when we got back.

Day 28

I had planned to work from home in the morning because I am always exhausted after a tournament.

I had a toastie with banana, almond butter and chocolate for breakfast. It was so nice to feel hungry again after being a bit ill last week and then the tournament.

I had another serving of the noodles I made on Friday and enjoyed them a lot more. I find cooking for others very stressful.

I ate both of these during the day because I realised they were out of date. They were fine, nothing special. I had yet another patty for dinner.

Reflections

Few reflections this week. I essentially have accepted veganism as a part of my life.


Day 15

I had a banana, almond butter and chocolate toastie for breakfast. Following on from Sunday’s food prep, I had a roasted vegetable, hummus and quinoa salad for lunch.

I also had a bit more of the salted chocolate I bought yesterday. It made a big difference to eat it at room temperature rather than cold. I much prefer the texture when it isn’t cold.

I went to the gym straight after work. Got home and had a protein shake and another hotdog. I was quite hungry so I ate a lot of nuts too.

Day 16

I started feeling like I was coming down with something yesterday. I woke up feeling dodgy so worked at home rather than going to the office as planned. Had my final hotdog for breakfast.

My flatmate got some vegan Magnums so I had one as an afternoon snack. Overall the experience was similar to eating a normal choc-ice, but both the ice cream and the chocolate coating had peculiar flavours. The ice cream tasted too strongly of artificial vanilla and the chocolate tasted like artificial sweetener, though the textures were spot on. I didn’t dislike the Magnum, but I found the flavours a bit distracting.

Day 17

I woke up early to go to the gym before work. I wanted avocado toast but the only bread I had was two leftover hotdog buns. I decided to try something different. We have a kind of panini press in the flat and I used it to fry and refresh the buns, which were getting a bit stale. I cut the buns in half and spread both sides with a thin layer of coconut oil before put in the press. I have to say it worked incredibly well. The delicate taste of the coconut was delicious with the avocado.

I had a protein shake as my mid-morning snack and the final serving of quinoa, roasted vegetable and hummus salad for lunch.

I met a friend at Farmacy for dinner. It’s in an area of Westminster I hardly ever visit. We both went Mexican. I went for corn tacos stuffed with mushrooms. They were delicious, with lots of refried beans, some kind of vegan soured cream and guac.

My main priority was the dessert. I went for the staff recommendation of a brownie sundae, which was not what I envisaged at all. It was massive! But the brownie was really tasty and there were lots of interesting textures.

Day 18

Repeated yesterday’s successful breakfast. I also got a few minutes to photograph my OddBox. That arrived yesterday too.

I’m going out for dinner again this evening so I’m not quite sure what I’ll end up doing with some of this veg.

I was in a school all day and didn’t bring any lunch because they normally feed me. I was unsure if they would have vegan options. I ended up with the hearty staple of a jacket potato with beans. I always imagined that it would be depressing without butter and cheese but actually I enjoyed it more than I thought. The potato itself had a butteriness to it.

I had a pre-made vegan snack (kind of like a package-free Nakd bar) in the afternoon before meeting Glory and her gal pal for dinner at Mildred’s in Soho.

Winner winner vegan dinner.

I was really full from the two starters and dessert (similar to yesterday). I feel like plants fill me up in a different, less uncomfortable, way to meat.

Day 19

Had quite a boring smoothie for breakfast. I’d forgotten I am out of frozen blueberries, which would have jazzed it up.

I had a good look at the OddBox veg and weighed the items to see what I can do. I was thinking of a soup with the Jerusalem artichokes, but I have less than 200g so it’s not worth it. I decided to oven roast them because I’d never tasted them before.

It was nice! I also roasted a beetroot and some carrots at the same time. I very nearly incinerated the lot!

I decided to try making brownies using some of the beetroot. I had a lot in the house considering I don’t really like it.

The brownies are ok. I would probably try a different recipe if I wanted to make beetroot brownies again. The texture is good, but there is nowhere near enough sugar, so there is a bitterness to them. Thank goodness there are plenty of chocolate chips mixed in.

I also struggled with the chocolate glaze that went on top. Because I wanted to make the brownies sweeter, I added quite a bit of maple syrup (stevia was recommended in the recipe, which I don’t have). However, that made the glaze too wet. I added some coconut sugar in an attempt to balance. The result isn’t bad, but I think it could be better.

I had a stir fry for second lunch using the purple sprouting broccoli. I find lettuce a massive pain- I’ve come to think that salad leaves are a bit of a waste of space- so I just ate that on its own.

You might be wondering why the noodles are red. I cooked them in the water I saved from boiling the beetroot. The water was so red, I felt it must contain some nutrients. I added some water chestnuts and cashews to bulk the stir fry up a bit. It was delicious.

I went to meet friends at Draughts board game cafe. I was uncharacteristically early (I thought the booking was half an hour earlier than it was) so picked up a Crosstown doughnut on the way.

I had the vegan offer on option at Draughts on the waiter’s recommendation. It was ok. Actually the biggest issue was that the patty wasn’t warm enough.

Day 20

Avocado toast for breakfast. I added a little spirulina today. Took a protein shake, leftover roasted veggies and an apple to snack on at quidditch training.

Got home and had another broccoli stir-fry. Glory and I went to a friend’s for dinner and she made us a nice vegan chili. I wouldn’t have thought to cook that dish, but I liked it. She also had a vegan mozzarella that was pretty good. We also had some of the brownies for dessert.

Day 21

I made a big pan of apple pie porridge first thing, which was a pretty dumb move because I was very nearly late for my hand therapy appointment. However, the porridge came out really nicely and I have enough for the next three days.

Took two vegan brownies, some sweet potato soup from the freezer and a small serving of leftover chili from last night to work.

Picked up a doughnut from the new Crosstown in Hammersmith. I love the filled one with elderflower. Also grabbed another veg patty. Pretty much identical to the other brand I had last week.

Thoughts/reflections

I’m feeling much more comfortable and happy eating a plant-based diet. Up until this week I’d been envisaging going on an enormous meat binge once February rolls around. I am starting to see the vegan diet as less impoverished and just different. It’s such a privilege to have such a variety of fantastic vegan restaurants in London. Eating out has helped to open my eyes much more to the pleasures of plants.

Something I find interesting is the pressure put on vegans. They/we are given a really hard time and held up to a bizarre standard of dietary perfection. If a vegan makes a choice to eat something non-vegan, a lot of people really seem to revel in being proven right that the vegan diet somehow isn’t good enough.

I’m still not decided on what diet I will follow once Veganuary comes to an end. Flexitarianism does feel like a bit of a cop-out, but at the same time I would like the flexibility to occasionally eat animal products while following a primarily plant-based diet.


Day 8

Following on from last week‘s food prep, I had porridge, a chickpea wrap and vegetable stew. I was still hungry when I got home at 5.30pm so I had a toastie with banana, coconut/peanut butter and dark chocolate.

I managed to miscalculate again and ended up slightly too full 🙄

I also made a cabbage and butterbean stew/cassoulet thing.

Day 9

Ate the last of the porridge for breakfast and my final chickpea wrap for lunch. It had just started to taste a little vinegary so I think it needed finishing.

I went to the gym after work and had a protein shake afterwards. I picked up a discounted vegan salad thing from M&S when I was buying bread yesterday and had that for my dinner. It was actually super delicious.

I’m planning to make some hummus this week anyway. I loved the combination with the grain salad, roasted veggies and a tart dressing.

I was hungry when I went to bed but I don’t like to eat late. I’m still not sleeping as well as usual and lay awake fantasising about having a feast in Chinatown.

Day 10

Woke up early to go to the gym before work. Had a big green smoothie and coffee but felt a bit weak while doing weights and sick during my yoga class.

I had a protein shake for my mid-morning snack. I brought servings of both the vegan stew and cabbage cassoulet that I prepped. I won’t get home until after 7.30pm and I know that eating just one meal before then will not suffice. I also need to make a shopping list so I can prepare some more meals. I have a busy weekend so I’m concerned I won’t have much time to cook.

I’m starting to realise that I prefer vegan meals with more Asian flavours- peanut, coconut, ginger. While it’s been interesting to try meals from different cuisines, I’ve ended up having to eat quite a few things that I haven’t enjoyed very much.

Anyway, I ate my cabbage dish just before 12. I’m happy to report that it tastes better than it looks, though that being said it does taste mostly of cabbage. I was absolutely ravenous by 2pm. I think it took longer for me to eat the cabbage than it kept me full for! Eyeing up lunch pt. 2 and wondering if I will have to eat a dirty Pot Noodle to get me through the rest of the day.

Ate more vegan stew for lunch ii, then a toastie when I got home.

I bought some candied chickpeas as a snack- I actually thought they were something else but they are pretty tasty. Extremely sweet, though.

Day 11

Work from home day. Had another green smoothie for breakfast, then the cabbage dish. I also made some red pepper hummus following the same recipe I used before.

Bad picture but it’s so tasty. I ate it with the two tortilla wraps I had left and I was full until bedtime.

Day 12

Fancied another green smoothie for breakfast before heading off to a day conference for work. I was really hungry by the break but there was no information about whether the pastries on offer were vegan-friendly. I went without.

The vegan lunch offering was pitiful too! A couple of platters of vegetarian sandwiches but they all appeared to contain cheese so I steered clear. What looked safest was a few onion bhajis (with mango chutney) and some hummus and crudités. I remained staunchly hungry after this meagre meal.

Had to pop (if you can call an hour’s journey ‘popping’) home to pick up the card I made for my friend’s birthday party. At least that gave me the chance to eat a serving of the cabbage I had in the fridge. Also treated myself to a vegan dirty chai. I normally limit myself to two double espressos per day, but it had been an especially tiring Saturday morning.

I checked the menu of the venue for my friend’s party and there were no vegan options. Once I arrived I couldn’t be bothered to ask so didn’t have anything. I also didn’t fancy drinking on an empty stomach- the vegetables I had consumed really didn’t fill me up.

I was starting to get so hungry that my decision-making was compromised. I was struggling to process what I wanted to eat and where I could get it. Fortunately there was a Rosa’s Thai Cafe near the tube station. I’ve eaten there before and enjoyed it so I stopped in and treated myself to dinner. They have plenty of menu items that can be made vegan-friendly. I had some summer rolls that were decent enough followed by Thai green curry and coconut rice. I love coconut so much.

I had a little curry left over and fortunately had a container on me to take it home. The waitress gave me a bit of a funny look but I don’t really mind things like that.

The summer rolls made me recall the time I spent hours making my own and they turned out absolutely disgusting. Why I thought smoked salmon and mint would be a good combination is anyone’s guess 🤦🏽‍♀️

Today made me think that summer rolls could be a good vegan lunch option when the weather gets warmer. I would make peanut dipping sauce as well as sweet chilli. And steer clear of bizarre flavour combos 😷

Day 13

I had a dream in which I was cooking some poultry. It was still Veganuary so I wasn’t sure whether to freeze it for the rest of the month. I had tasted the dish and felt cross with myself for breaking the challenge.

Had a nut butter, banana and chocolate toastie before heading to quidditch training. It kept me pretty full and I took a protein shake for after.

Went shopping at the supermarket and the Source in Clapham, which was horribly busy. I decided to try something different and got some mushroom-based sausages. I planned to make hotdogs since the caramelised onions, ketchup and mustard would taste good even if the sausages didn’t.

I got chorizo-style sausages (seemed the best option available) and there is a chorizo vibe to them. They don’t make the best hotdogs, but as predicted the other additions made them perfectly edible.

I also did a little bit of meal prep. I cooked some quinoa and roasted some beetroot and sweet potato to make a winter salad. I don’t especially like beetroot but it was nice in the M&S salad and I decided just to buy whatever Sainsbury’s had that was package-free.

Day 14

Changed things up a bit and had a hotdog for breakfast. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but it makes sense based on my activities today and what I have in the fridge.

Since I had breakfast quite early, I was peckish by mid-morning. I had this yoghurt that I picked up in Sainsbury’s yesterday. It was delicious.

I had the last serving of the cabbage cassoulet for lunch. I added some frozen peas and spinach to bulk it up, so I’ll be interested to see how long I stay full.

The answer was not long, but fortunately I had brought some dried mango with me.

I had to eat my second lunch- quinoa, hummus and roasted vegetable salad- at about 4pm.

I couldn’t wait to have another snack until I got home so I followed the recommendation of a vegan colleague and picked up a Jamaican veg patty. I have eaten many a patty in my time but never of the vegetable variety. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. I also had some salted dark chocolate.

Summary/observations

Overall week 2 has gone much more smoothly than week 1, though I did have worse cravings for meat at times. My biggest problem is managing my hunger levels. I am not good at judging how satiating meals will be and have ended up in physical pain from being so hungry. From talking to other vegans, I understand that this is pretty common.

I need to start keeping a few vegan snacks lying around, probably something in my bag and something in my locker at work. I put together some yummy fruit and nut combinations when I went to the Source.

This week I was surprised to learn that quite a few events and places in London still don’t cater for vegans at all. I had been under the impression that most places would have one plant-based offering, even if it wasn’t very good.