I’m going to keep a daily journal of my Veganuary exploits.
Spent it in bed rueing the day I was born. All I could keep down was some avocado toast my flatmate kindly made for me. Oh, and a Lindor, which wasn’t vegan 🤦🏽♀️
Due to being incapacitated on new year’s day (see above) I had made no food plans for the week. I had a green smoothie for breakfast and some frozen squash curry for lunch. Went to Asda and got overwhelmed by what I couldn’t eat. Ended up having a protein shake and crackers for dinner. But I did make some initial meal plans for the rest of the week.
My OddBox arrived quite late and I looked up a few recipes before bed.
I ended up having smoothies (one green and one kind of apple pie/oatmeal one) for breakfast and lunch due to still not having any proper food in. They tasted nice but I’m kind of over drinking variously-coloured sludge.
I followed(ish) a recipe from an old OddBox and made pasta with mushrooms and cavolo nero. I used the mung bean pasta I picked up at the Source- it’s higher in protein.
Sadly it’s also higher in the taste of butts. I don’t know what I expected to be honest. I’ve never knowingly eaten a mung bean. At least I only bought 75g (bulk shopping win) so I don’t have to eat it again.
The sauce was ok but reminded me of a dish I used to subsist on at university that I charitably called ‘vegetable melange’. Basically it was loads of tinned veg with some onion, chopped tomatoes and ketchup. I remember the secret ingredient was a lot of cheese.
Today was a bad cooking day overall. I followed this recipe for vegan mayonnaise using oat milk and rapeseed oil and it didn’t work at all. Although the liquids seemed to emulsify, it wouldn’t thicken.
I still used it to make this ‘better than tuna‘ sandwich filling with the chickpeas I soaked on day 2. I still have the aquafaba from the chickpeas so I might try another mayo recipe (think I over-reduced the aquafaba though. Seriously cursed cooking day). Fortunately the spread turned out to be nice enough or I would almost certainly have cried. I also had a protein shake/iced decaf thing because I hadn’t slept well. I should be tracking my macros but I haven’t had time.
Had the apple pie smoothie for breakfast again and a banana/peanut butter protein shake after going to the gym. I was feeling a bit sick at the gym and I wonder if I’ve been having too many liquid meals. I guess my body is also adjusting to a new diet.
I also prepped another wrap with yesterday’s spread. I actually took two wraps for lunch (I only ate one). I struggle with portioning vegan food. When bulk cooking, I find it helpful to weigh my food and I know that I normally eat around 400g for lunch. I have learnt to my cost that 400g of different foods are not equal!
For dinner, I met Glory at Patty and Bun for an impromptu flatmate date. We tried their Whoopi Goldburger.
The burger itself was decent. The bread was lovely and the patty had a good texture, though it was a little on the loose/wet side for me. The fake cheese was quite nice too. My favourite part was the rosemary fries. It felt so good to eat something deep fried, hot, salty and crispy. I’ve eaten too much mush this week.
I picked up some vegan chocolate on the way home. Turns out that I really really really like milk in my chocolate.
Had a green smoothie for breakfast. I like to have fruit or vegetables as the first thing I put in my stomach each day but chewing is tiresome. I didn’t add avocado and I actually preferred the more watery texture for a change.
I had some avocado and mushrooms on toast later. I was due to go out for a meal and expected to eat more, but I’m still not feeling too well. I did feel a little hungry so snacked on a bit more of the vegan chocolate, which was nicer with coffee.
Went to the Spread Eagle, a vegan pub in east London. All of the meat alternatives were super tasty and it was another welcome change. I had the trio of tacos and enjoyed them all.
I also had this deep fried cheeze, which had a similar texture to brie. I liked it but wish I had ordered a dessert instead.
Unfortunately I just don’t feel right in myself. I’m feeling increasingly sick throughout the day. I’m also tired, though to be fair I haven’t been sleeping well (unrelated to diet). I’m going to give it a few more days but I am worried that being vegan is making me feel so bad. I did a bit of research and I think it is quite normal to take time to adjust. But I don’t like the idea that I’m making myself ill when I was pretty happy with my diet before.
Slept in, which I hope will help me. Perhaps part of my malaise has been sleep deprivation. I ate the last of my mushrooms first thing, followed by batch cooking some very nice apple porridge.
I was still a bit peckish so had a protein shake as well. I toasted the wrap I didn’t have on Friday for lunch and it was pretty tasty. Spread stuff needs more salt though.
I then prepped a stew featuring my OddBox veggies. It turned out quite nice.
I wanted four full servings for next week and I was still hungry after eating what was left in the pot. I had a peanut butter, banana and chocolate toastie. It was great! I don’t normally eat much bread but I think that’s going to help me through the month.
I didn’t feel sick today so I’m hoping my body is getting used to veganism. I’m also feeling much more prepared for the forthcoming week. Bring it on!
Reaped the rewards of food prep and had porridge, a chickpea wrap and stew with little effort. Not feeling sick but did get so hungry after the gym that I had stomach cramps. Treated myself to a rice-coconut chai latte from Pret but the barista told me the powder (note: the chai and turmeric drinks aren’t ZW friendly!) contains milk. I ended up having a turmeric latte with unclear vegan credentials because I had already paid. Pret later contacted me on Twitter and their allergen information indicates that neither product contains dairy. I guess they want to be careful since someone recently died after eating something to which they were allergic in Pret.
I was ravenous when I got home so had another peanut butter, banana and chocolate toastie. Started feeling like I could get used to veganism.
All in all, it was quite a hard start to Veganuary. A lot of that was down to my poor planning. I’m hoping to start tracking my nutrition because I’m sure I’m not getting enough protein for muscle growth.
I have noticed that I’ve been ticking the ‘no unhealthy snacks’ box on my habit tracker more frequently. This is mainly down to not having unhealthy vegan things in the house to eat. I’m also quite weak-willed and partial to a chocolate or five if people bring them into the office. Or if my flatmate brings them home after Xmas. It’s so weird to think that on Monday I was scarfing them down only to stop on Tuesday because I ‘can’t’ eat them.
A challenge for this week has been my own narrative that I don’t like to eat processed food. This story prevents me from eating pretty much all meat and cheese substitutes. However, I am perfectly happy to eat (mass-produced) dairy and meat products such as cheeses, yoghurt and sausages. It’s interesting that I’ve come/been conditioned to not consider these things ‘processed’ or ‘bad’ and yet I am mistrustful of vegan alternatives.
Having to cook everything from scratch is quite a strain so I feel like something has to give. I might ask my vegan friends for some recommendations about what is worth trying.
I got my most recent OddBox a couple of weeks ago.
Again the timing of my cooking and lighting did not lend itself to getting good pictures of what I made. I followed two recipes that came with the box.
A broccoli and cauliflower bake (that I managed to leave a knife in). I bulked it out a bit with some orza (pasta) that I’ve had lying around for a while. The meal was surprisingly tasty and filling.
This leek and potato soup was delicious. Nuff said. I should have heeded the warning that it’s best frozen without the cream.
I also made this squash curry. Also pretty tasty. It’s meant to be a jalfrezi but I used Thai curry paste because that’s what I had on hand. I also made coconut rice (1 tin coconut milk, 1 tin brown basmati, 1 tin water cooked using absorption method) that was much-needed because the curry was slightly too spicy for me.
I also made some snacks- the recipe is for the vegan coconut bites they sell in Pret à Manger.
The cooking hasn’t been as interesting this week, due in part to my broken finger. A lot of my OddBox haul (including the pineapple) was pressed into service in smoothies. I’ve read that you should get lots of vitamins and minerals to support the healing process so I’ve been going hard on the old fruit and veg.
One thing I did make was cauliflower gnocchi based on the recipe in the box. Having done the pasta class helped me to try something outside my comfort zone.
I have to say that the gnocchi tasted suspiciously like dumplings. Not sure if this is my Jamaican heritage meaning I can’t make gnocchi properly or if that’s normal. I think I will have to try making some potato gnocchi to test.
I also made an amazing satay-style noodle soup dish. I found the recipe on Pinterest and knew right away that I would have to try it. I supplemented the remaining OddBox veg with some Asian produce from Chinatown.
I will definitely be coming back to this dish in Veganuary.
A disadvantage of trying to reduce waste is becoming hyper-aware of how wasteful society is. Here I share things that have bothered or worried me.
Having an injury generates quite a lot of waste- I have to clean my finger at least once a day, which means replacing the tape. I’m quite glad I’m not attempting to put my rubbish in a mason jar. That would be quite disgusting!
I received my latest OddBox a couple of weeks ago. It also contained bananas but I had already cut them up and put them in the freezer before taking this picture.
I tried out a few different recipes. I used the mushrooms and spinach in a polenta dish. The polenta was absolutely delicious. I wasn’t that sold on having the mushroom and spinach mixture with it, but I will think about other dishes with which it would pair well.
I spent quite a bit of time on Sunday cooking again. I used some of the cauliflower to make these quinoa meatless balls. Because the recipe calls for cauliflower rice, I blitzed it up in the NutriBullet.
I used the cauliflower florets along with the purple kale in this frittata. The recipe came with the OddBox. I am quite fussy when it comes to egg dishes and think I added too much kale (of which I’m not especially fond), so this was a bit of a miss.
I also made a butterbean and carrot soup that I’ve had before. I have a LOT of dried butterbeans in my cupboard so it was good to use some of them up.
The recipe suggested using three 400g tins of beans but I used 300g of soaked and boiled beans instead. Aside from being less waste and less weight to carry from the supermarket, apparently dried beans produce less flatulence than canned. Good news for my flatmate! I replaced the milk with water + 30g of flaked almonds. I also added the cauliflower stem and leaves to save throwing them away.
I’m quite looking forward to Veganuary. I’ve mostly cut meat out of my diet but I’m finding eggs and dairy much harder to kick. Part of the issue is that it would take more effort for me to look up vegan recipes or convert recipes. I will be more motivated to try harder since Veganuary is only one month.
Since I haven’t yet found a decent nutrition tracking app aimed at vegans, I’ve just been using MyFitnessPal in the interim. So far the app indicates that I’m not doing too badly with protein, though I definitely need to supplement if I want to reach my aim of 100g per day. I have access to pea protein in bulk and I’m building up a bank of recipes that disguise the taste.
My diet is quite high in fat. I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem as long as I’m not eating too many calories, but it does surprise me.
My flatmate and I had a friend coming over for dinner who is also doing Veganuary. I thought this was a perfect excuse to try out some new vegan dishes.
The lentils were flavoursome and my guests commented positively. Even though I added a scotch bonnet (whole during cooking and then discarded) I felt the mix lacked kick. Patties are generally quite spicy. Next time I might add half of a de-seeded scotch bonnet.
I used this vegan pastry recipe since I eat gluten and avoid hydrogenated fats. I added two teaspoons of curry powder to the mixture. Next time, I think I would add some extra turmeric and perhaps a drop of yellow food colouring since patties are traditionally yellow.
I really enjoyed the pastry but I did find it a bit dry and very short. To be fair, I made a mistake in refrigerating the dough before I used it, which meant I had to handle it a lot more than I would have liked. I will probably test again before passing final judgment.
I also know that my grandma’s rule of thumb was half fat to flour so I might up the coconut oil too. I’ve been considering adding pea protein. Not sure what grandma would make of that!
I also made ackee sin salt fish. I can’t lie; I really missed the salt fish. Even though you use only a little amount of salted cod, it’s a huge part of the flavour. I was so immersed in cooking that I didn’t take pictures so these are nabbed from my friend’s Instagram stories.
For dessert we had pistachio ice cream. I might even take some better pictures and write a separate post about it. I thought it was yummy.
I also made sorrel, which is a traditional Jamaican Christmas drink. They sell hibiscus tea at The Source so it’s really easy. I used this recipe as a base but would note that I don’t think you need that much hibiscus. A cup costs around £2.50 and I think half a cup would be fine.
I’m so proud that this meal was almost entirely free of plastic waste. And really cheap too! The most expensive thing was the ice cream. I’m starting to feel ready for Veganuary!
As an additional note, the leftover patties are really nice cold. They’re a bit dry because I cooked the lentils down a lot- didn’t want to risk a soggy bottom.
I’m trying out a few new recipes. Changing my diet is inspiring me to cook differently, which has been fun. I also went to an amazing vegan supper club with my flatmate.
I’m definitely going to do Veganuary so I’ve also been getting a few recipes out of my system. Karelian/Carelian pastries (both spellings appear to be acceptable) were one of my favourite foods from Finland and I suddenly had a hankering to try making them last Friday.
Karelian pie sounds absolutely repulsive but tastes amazing. It’s thin rye pastry filled with savoury rice pudding and topped with egg butter. Lots of fat and carbs to help withstand the freezing Nordic temperatures. Or London in November.
I followed this recipe quite closely, using a mixture of arborio and pudding rice. I had around 1/3 of the pastry left, I believe because I put a lot of filling in each one. I considered trying to freeze the dough, but I think it will be a while before I attempt this recipe again so I just binned it.
The only plastic waste generated from these was the chive package. I had purchased the chives for a new black lentil recipe I was trying to use up my OddBox potatoes. I went to a greengrocer and Eat17 but neither place had them unpackaged and I wasn’t willing to go without.
Oh! I nearly forgot that I bought milk in plastic for this recipe too. I trialled making two of the Carelian pies with almond milk and they were nice but I made a slight mistake using a sweetened product. I think oat milk would work better.
I am continuing with my veggie journey. I’ve made a few meals with little to no single-use plastic, including soups, salad and a barley risotto. None of the meals was especially photogenic.
See? (Thai-inspired quinoa salad).
Supermarkets do seem to be making a bit more of an effort to sell unwrapped veggies so some of the meals were very easy to make with little waste. Where food is still wrapped up, I have been voting with my wallet and looking for alternative sources for my nude veg. I’m still finding it a bit of a fun challenge to get ingredients without plastic. I especially enjoy re-filling containers with things like washing-up liquid. It’s very sad but I don’t care.
I only get my OddBox once a fortnight, when know I will be around at the weekend. This system works for me because, while it can be fun to look up new recipes for the OddBox veg, it’s also quite time-consuming. I like to be able to just buy what I want some weeks.
I still had a lot of pumpkin left after last week’s pancakes. I decided to eschew making the same recipe again and tried out a pumpkin vegan ‘fudge’ I saw on Pinterest. Unfortunately the recipe couldn’t live up to the salted caramel bites. In fact, it was inedible. Fortunately I was able to salvage the ingredients by adding almond milk, protein and dates to make a breakfast smoothie.
I used the rest for pumpkin soup.
It’s nice but a takeaway for me is that I prefer sweet potato and butternut squash to pumpkin.
A really easy zero waste hack that anyone can employ is to stop peeling your veggies. I didn’t peel the pumpkin and the soup is still really smooth. I hardly ever peel veg any more- less waste, saves time and the peel contains fibre and nutrients. Win, win, win.
One of my concerns about going more plant-based is getting sufficient protein. I do a little bit of weight training and growing muscle needs protein. I’m looking for a new meal tracking app that has more of an emphasis on micronutrients. But I can’t seem to find one that’s free or even has a free trial. I don’t mind paying but I’d like to test any app before committing.