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Plant milks

There are a plethora of plant milks on our supermarket shelves, and for the newbie to all things non-dairy it can be a bit of a mindfield.

Yes there are many and I have tried many; over the last 4 years since I stopped buying cows’ milk, the availability and options have grown and grown. It’s absolutely fantastic and there is so much range and choice… literally whatever your need, there’s a plant milk for that.

I tend to have several on the go at once because I like different ones for different uses, for example I like almond milk in my cereal but I prefer soy in my tea etc.

Also, although plant milks may seem on the surface to be a bit dearer than their crueller counterparts, they actually last a lot longer… one carton in my house can literally last 2-3 weeks before starting to go a bit off!

Plus there is the bonus of being able to buy in bulk and so having a good stock of milk at the ready, therfore running out of milk and running out to the shop in your slippers is a thing of the past!

So here is my list of top milks – I’ll start with what I use for tea & coffee, then for other uses… and I’ll explain a bit at the end as to why dairy is indeed scary.

Tea & coffee

My best bet / failsafe milk for tea is any supermarket own brand long life soy milk. I don’t like to have any flavour in my cup of tea (i.e. some almond milks have a strong taste) and these ones don’t taste of anything so they are ideal. Plus they don’t split/ curdle. You can get them in the longlife/ UHT milk section of the supermarket. They are mega cheap and last for absolutely ages.

Aldi own plant milks are good too.. also very cheap and found on the aisle shelf, not in the fridge.

I recently discovered Alpro organic whole bean soya is great in tea and coffee also…

…and my new favourite is from M&S – “Multi grain drink” – which is perfect for tea and coffee 💚

People swear by Oatly barista for coffee but I’ve not tried it yet.

I don’t drink coffee very often so I never dedicated the time to finding out what works best,  but apart from those mentioned above, some almond milks do work, as well as oat and cashew.

However, I believe the tricky aspect with coffee is that different blends/ types etc will affect the outcome of any type of milk. So what works for one person with their coffee, won’t necessarily work for you with yours! So it really is a case of trial and error.

In general I find rice milk too watery so I rarely buy it. We mostly have soy for tea and almond for everything else. Hemp is nice though as is coconut for smoothies and cereal etc.

The plant milks sold in the fridges tend to be a bit pricier than the ones kept on the aisle shelves, in my experience, so that’s something to take into consideration when it comes to price.

Most supermarkets do their own versions of plant milks so depending on what your nearest stores are you’ll have different ones to try.

Just have a bit of an experiment and play about and find what’s fits your tastes and uses best.

So now you know a bit more about what milks to start with, maybe you’re wondering why stop using dairy at all?

There are 3 main avenues of reasons why – the first being the cruelty involved, the second being the benefits to the environment and the third being the benefits to your health.

So let’s start with the first – cruelty. Dairy is extremely cruel. A female must first be impregnated (forcibly and against her will – in the industry they even use the term ‘rape racks’) she will then be pregnant for 9 months to give birth to a baby that is then taken from her, so that the milk intended for her baby can be given to humans.

Many people that have witnessed this report the mothers cries for her baby are beyond heartbreaking and gut wrenching. Her baby is then usually sold off to become veil and she is destined to a life of torture – this cycle of rape and birth continues for a female cow throughout her young life, so that she can keep producing milk to be sold to humans – adult humans that don’t even need her milk anymore than we need our own mothers milk beyond infancy! But more on this later.

Dairy cows are used and abused in this way until their poor tortured and exhausted bodies can’t take anymore, at which point they are sent to slaughter to become a burger for 99p.

In terms of human health, cows milk is no more necessary for a human than dogs milk or rat milk. Humans are the only species to drink the milk of another species and to drink it past infancy.

Why cows milk? They are big and able to produce lots of milk in large quantities; they are also docile, trusting animals, easily coerced and manipulated into doing as we demand.

Cows milk could also be referred to as bovine growth formula, or baby calf growth fluid – “The purpose of cow’s milk is to turn a 65-pound calf into a 700-pound cow as rapidly as possible. Cow’s milk IS baby calf growth fluid.” Dr. Michael Klaper

It contains IGF growth hormones, which are perfect for cows but not for humans! There are links to carcinogenic factors and accelerated cancerous growth in humans. Aside from this it contains antibiotics given to the lactating mothers against the multitude of infections those poor animals are subjected to, as well as hormones, puss and blood residue. To find out more on these topics please check out Dr Klaper (link to article below) and The China Study.

The intense farming of cows for dairy across the world is one of the biggest contributors to the destruction of our environment – for the best further insight on this please watch Cowspiracy the movie.

So by giving up dairy you actually gain a lot, lot more: you refrain from contributing to the abuse of animals, you help towards easing the burden on our environment and you also make a better choice for your health. It’s a win, win, WIN!

So we’ve started with milk, next I’ll dedicate a post to cheese alternatives and replacements, of which there are many!

Links:

http://doctorklaper.com/answers/answers11/

NationEarth.com (watch Earthlings documentary for free)

Cowspiracy.com

WhatTheHealthfilm.com

http://nutritionstudies.org/the-china-study/

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Vegan Steak & Peppercorn Sauce

 

I’ve been wanting to make ‘steak and peppercorn sauce’ since I first made seitan last year… this seitan recipe is based on my recipe from December, it’s so deliciously savoury and flavoursome and the texture is just yum… and the best thing about it is it’s so easy to make! And versatile too but more about that later.

Health fans will like to know that seitan is both high protein and low carb but let’s get to the all important recipe now shall we?

To make this seitan you’ll need:

2 cups vital wheat gluten 250 g
1/2 cup chickpea/gram flour or Rye flour 50 g
1/4 cup nutritional yeast 15g
1 tablespoon smoked paprika & 1tbsp mixed herbs
1 teaspoon marmite / vegemite
1 teaspoon onion powder & 1 tsp garlic powder
1 tablespoon bbq sauce
2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce & 2 tbsp liquid smoke
1 tablespoon soy sauce & 1 tbsp Maggi liquid seasoning
1 teaspoon smoked salt & 0.5tsp cracked pepper
1 3/4 cups stock (I used chicken flavour) 385ml

Method:

Blend all dry ingredients in a bowl.

Blend all wet ingredients in a jug.

Add the wet to dry gradually, stirring well to form a sort of ‘dough’.

Separate in 2: (half will become spicy)

Put one half in cling film, roll into a sausage, tie a knot on either end (leaving a bit of room for expansion whilst cooking), place in a pot and cover with boiling water, bring to a boil then reduce heat and cover, cook for approx 1 hour.

For the other half stir in 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper and/or 1 teaspoon chipotle paste or hot sauce of choice; Wrap in tin foil and roast in the oven on 200° for approx 1 hour.

The half on the hob will have absorbed a lot of the water, so remove the seitan and set aside. Now for the gravy/ sauce…

Using what’s left in the pot, add 1 Knorr peppercorn stock pot, add approx 50ml boiled water (use more or less depending on your taste/ how much you need).

Blend 2 tsp corn flour with a little warm water to make a paste and add to the pot.

Add a splash of soy milk, some cracked pepper and a bit more Maggi liquid seasoning. (I also added more marmite, approx 1/4 tsp).

Stit in 1/2 tsp dijon mustard and a splosh of red wine.

Bring to the boil, reduce heat snd stir until nice and thick (adding more cornflour to thicken if desired).

Serve with steak cut chips or potato wedges and veg of choice, and a nice big glass of that red wine you opened for the gravy!

Ideas for the rest of your seitan include…

• Chop and serve with sizzling fajitas

• stir through curries and stir frys

• as pie fillings…

• sliced and used in sarnies…

• pizza toppings….

• salad toppers…. etc etc!

Have fun and please tag me in your creations on instagram @lovelightleaves

Scottish Lentil Soup

Lentil soup makes me think of Christmas as we would almost always have this as a starter on Christmas day. But, it’s a staple that lasts all year round… Lentil soup is for life, not just for Christmas… or winter!

My dad’s mum makes thee best lentil soup in the whole wide world. Nothing comes close. And she actually turned 90 today! (Love you gran!) Second best to my gran’s legendary lentil soup is my mum’s, a very close second. I’ve tasted many wonderful lentil soups in my time and theirs are by far and away the top of the lentil soup league.

Mine isn’t bad I have to say, but it’s only based on theirs & there’s something about mums and grans… they just have the magic touch!

Lentil soup is my go-to whenever I’m feeling poorly, it’s the perfect ratios of flavour and comfort with a health boost to boot… up the garlic and onion if you’re feeling under the weather and whack in a chunk of fresh ginger or even a kick of fresh chili to up the immunity boosting factor, or simply have as is, and you’ll be fighting fit in no time.

Definitely one of my all time most favourite ever dishes, I come back to this again and again, because it’s just.too.good! It’s quick and easy to make and you can prepare a big batch on a Sunday to last a couple of day’s worth of lunches or freeze in tubs for later use. See Notes section below for more ideas and suggestions.

The trick to the success of this soup is the texture – i.e. not blended till it becomes a baby food-esque puree like some places serve it (which still tastes delicious, don’t get me wrong) but the texture is the key to this soup being so intriguingly moreish, therefore roughly chopping, grating and mashing will serve this soup, and you, well – leave the blender in the cupboard!

I wasn’t even going to share a recipe for this as it seems so obvious to me but then I thought it fits neatly in with my Scottish food celebration I’ve got going… plus the fact that there are people in this world who have never had the privilege of tasting a Lentil soup in its simple but delicious glory… plus we can safely say it’s up there with my most favourite things to eat, along with macaroni cheese and avocado toast!

I introduce to you, the best lentil soup in the world (well, 3rd place…!)

Ingredients

  • 50 g dried ready to cook red lentils
  • 3 medium carrots or 2 large – half chopped and half grated
  • 4 small white potatoes or 3 medium – half chopped in various sizes / half grated
  • 1 small or 2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small or 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 160 ml soya milk
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • A little salt & pepper

Method

  1. Rinse lentils in a sieve.
  2. Fry onions in a little oil before adding the other ingredients OR Place all ingredients in a pan and simmer for 30-40 mins.
  3. Allow to cool a little, then mash roughly with a potato masher for a thicker texture.

Notes

*Soya milk quantity can be reduced and just use water (with a splash of milk stirred in at the end).

*OPTIONAL:

-Add spices for a spiced lentil soup

-To make TARKA DHALL SOUP add cumin, garam massala, ginger, smoked paprika, curry powder, chili/ cayenne pepper and extra garlic.

-Add coconut milk for a creamy taste and flavour

*I often serve mine with a warmed tattie scone (potato bread) for dipping, as pictured, but plain rice, cous cous, quinoa or even pasta is nice stirred in or served on the side.

*For an extra savoury flavour stir in 1/2 tsp marmite/vegemite while cooking and / or 1/2 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.

*Top with crispy fried mushrooms for a delicious chewy finish

*Also good for for babies aged 10+ months (..feel free to liquidise to a silky consistency!)

 

Vegan 5:2 diet – my experience with the 5:2 diet

the-5-2-diet-bookI have done the 5:2 diet a total of 3 times… well, more like 2 and a half but you’ll understand why I say that in a moment! The first time I did the 5:2 diet was when I was veggie and I had pretty good results which I’ll outline shortly. The second time I was vegan and I got results but not as good as first time round… and the third time which can only kind of be counted as a half attempt due to my lack of success entirely, also revealed some quite interesting things to me…

So lets go back to 2013 and my first foray into the dieting world phenomena that is 5:2…

We’d just moved house and I was unable to exercise due to a back injury. I was feeling quite down and decided to take action. I couldn’t exercise but I could do something about my weight. I wasn’t massively overweight – after getting to around 9.5 stone in 2010 for our wedding (I say ‘around’ because back then I never really needed to diet and so I didn’t weigh myself – oh the memories of being young and slim with minimal effort!) the weight had come back on year on year since; I’d tried the odd thing here and there to lose a bit of weight including vegetarian low carb, and I’d lose a bit then put it back on etc etc and so on and so forth! I’d got to near 11 stone and I knew I was happy at 10 stone and I’d be delighted at 9 anything. So one lovely sunny day in July 2013 I read a book on the 52 diet in a few short hours and embarked upon my first fast day without hesitation, and so July was my first month of 5:2ing… I found it really easy after the first week – and after just those first two days of ‘fast days’ the weight came off easily and quickly. I can’t remember now how much I lost initially but after 5 or 6 months I’d lost at least a stone – so I’d got to where I wanted and felt amazing. It felt as though I hadn’t even had to exert that much effort!

It was a busy summer too and 5:2 fitted into my life and worked around my plans and commitments – I could do 2 fast days a week then still go out on the weekend and drink a lot and eat take aways etc and still lose weight! Result! I’d read you still needed to eat sensibly on your non-fast days – feast days they were often called – and feast days they were for me! I honestly ate what I wanted and didn’t count a thing.

Even on busier weeks when I could only fit in 1 fast day instead of 2, and these would be the weeks that were even heavier on the ‘feasting’, I wouldn’t gain any weight but break even.

Work colleagues quickly said how they could see a difference in my appearance and I felt great too, fitting into clothes that had been hanging up with the labels still attached and being able to zip up dresses that had been gathering dust for too long! Yes I felt FAB! I thought 5:2 was the best thing ever and recommended it to everyone!

Roll on February 2014 and I stopped doing 5:2 and the weight just came straight back on. And then some!

It wasn’t until 2015 I decided to try and lose weight again and I immediately turned to the 52 diet. So starting around the 70kg mark again, I started up with 2 fast days a week again. It felt harder this time – good at first though – a feeling of relief and control – but it wasn’t long before the good feelings wore off and it was just harder in general to do

I struggled to eat only the 500 calories you’re meant to on fast days. I didn’t remember it feeling this hard the first time? Was my body used to it? Had my body discovered my mean ways of shedding the fat and decided to hold onto every last bit of it?! That’s what it felt like. I was expecting it to be just like the last time with the simplicity and ease I’d experienced previously and the weight just falling off effortlessly. Nope, not at all. It was hard, much harder second time round. I’d average out around 800 calories 2 days a week instead of the 500, so I’d try and do an extra day fasting but it never really worked out, it just felt like my body wasn’t cooperating! But nevertheless, in a few short months I did manage to lose about half a stone which I was happy with, and again people were noticing I’d lost a bit of weight which I think is always a good indication of how you’re doing.

A couple of holidays later however and the weight was all back on again – and oh yes, and then some – again!

Early 2016 after the feasting of Chrimbo and I was back to my 52 ways… but this time it felt impossible… I really felt aware I was restricting my calories severely two days a week… I was starving. All the time. No amount of food ever felt enough. I’d start and then I really would struggle to stop. So then several fast days that started out with good intentions would crumble and turn into mega feast days in the hopes I would try again tomorrow or the next day… and then life just kept getting in the way and the fast days never happened. Till finally one day when I was particularly full of resolve that I wouldn’t cave and that I must not give in… I MUST NOT EAT! It had got to around midday (I was going as long as I possibly could without eating – in 52 land if you start it can be harder to stop so one method is to simply not start) and I happened to see a cute illustration with ‘Top 5 vegan pre-workout snacks’… I looked at the delicious drawings (yes, drawings of food, not even actual photographs had me beside myself!) of avocados, nuts, bread… oh my! I realised some things at this point.

I had these things in the cupboard…

I realised… how much better to eat a delicious, nutritious snack that really feeds your body, so that it can then go and do something amazing?!

I realised, I was sat attempting to exert as little energy as possible in order to try not to eat anything for as long as possible…

It didn’t seem right! (Yes I know there’s plenty research to suggest the multitude of health benefits associated with fasting, I’ve read a lot of this research).

If you look at food as fuel, as nourishing our little bodies that do so much for us, where is the sense in depriving it? Doing less so I need to eat less? …How about do more so you can eat more? Now that’s much more like it!

When you view food as nourishment it becomes less about punishment… you want to feed your body nourishing, health promoting foods! You don’t want to deny it any of these amazing foods our beautiful earth provides for us a minute longer!

I’m lucky to be able to say I’ve never had an eating disorder, not in the clinical sense but I certainly have a somewhat disordered relationship with food. I use it as comfort and reward. I’m a classic emotional eater. If I’m sad, I’ll console myself with food, if I’m happy, I’ll celebrate with food… I love to cook and I love to feed my loved ones too, my life pretty much revolves around food! Also as an ethical vegan, I’m not at all focused on my health, I love that eating a vegan diet is instantly a better way to eat and better for not only the animals but also our planet and our health… but those are just bonuses in my view. I do it for the animals and so I still don’t view food as being the main huge link to our health that it really is. I will always pick a junk food item (ie pizza, chips etc) over a couscous, quinoa salad. Don’t get me wrong I love cous cous and quinoa but they don’t get my taste buds going in the same way that a big plate of greasy, salty chips does! So I particularly hate these stereotypes that vegans are scrawny and/or particularly fit and svelte! I guess all body shaming and/or stereotyping is wrong regardless (there are images online suggesting that meat eaters are overweight and plantbased folk are lean and trim and also wonderfully muscly, how lovely! If only! So yeh that’s a gripe and I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here. What I wanted to say was most of us have some level of disordered attitude towards eating, that’s why most of us are nearly always on a diet! (And unfortunately going vegan isn’t a magic wand that solves all your weight and food related issues in one fell swoop – though it’s pretty close ;-)… but if you’re an over eater, comfort eater, binge eater etc those things will still be there… and ‘cause VEGAN FOOD IS AWESOME! You can literally still eat anything you want in vegan form, jus’ sayin’…)

So bearing in mind that most of has have these sorts of relationships with food anyway, I’m afraid one of my other realisations was that the 52 diet was actually encouraging my disordered view and approach and relationship with food. I was in this nasty cycle of restricting then binging – punishment and reward.

I would restrict for the day or two as required and then binge uncontrollably on the days I was ‘allowed’ to… as soon as I made this realisation, I made a note of the Top 5 vegan pre-workout snacks, made some avocado on toast (which was quite possibly the most unreal and out of this world tasting avo-toast I’ve ever had) and went and worked out. I did not feel one iota of guilt. I felt great. I decided there and then I wouldn’t let the lure of the 52 diet suck me in again.

The following week I ate what I wanted and even had pizza twice in that one week.

And guess what – I lost more weight that week than I had in the previous weeks trying to lose weight so unbearably and painfully and disdainfully that I was becoming a mere shadow of myself! It sort of felt like I’d been in a dark, cloudy bubble and I’d broken free and I could see clearly again… (also an analogy I often use for going vegan!)

Things made sense again… Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full; your body knows what it needs and what to do. We are just always getting in the way! Silly humans!

So I’d love to say I have a wonderful, healthy, balanced relationship with food now but because I like oreos a bit too much, I’d still like to lose a bit of weight and let me tell you, once you 52 it’s hard to stop… in fact, I’d say in order to maintain, you need to continue to fast for one day a week, probably forever! But then no-one’s done it that long! So we don’t actually know for sure, maybe your body would get so used to that too that you’d need to increase your fasting periods in order to not put on weight over time… eek. It certainly has a strong hold of me and it’s hard to let that go, when you know you’ve had good results in the past… but I do think that our clever bodies are just that bit too clever – once you’ve done it and then go back to eating regularly (or without 52ing) and then attempt intermittent fasting again as a means for weightloss, your body has made a note of it somewhere and is less willing to let the weight shift so obligingly!

So, my overall consensus here is 52 diet is great for losing weight initially but you need to be willing to comit to it longterm to maintain any weightloss and/or other health benefits you feel it offers.

My advice based on my experience is to eat the avocado toast and savour every delicious mouthful then go do lots of fun stuff with all the wonderful energy that yummy nutritious food gave you.

Eat well and be happy 🙂

 

What’s your experience with 5:2 diet? Have you had a similar/ different experience to me? I’d love to hear from anyone who has!

 

Comparison is the thief of joy

…So I was extremely proud of myself that I fiiiinally got around to setting up this new baby blog and even getting as far as my first blog post! I was excited to get inspiration from other blogs that I admire for layouts and styles etc… then I did what I always do and began comparing… comparing my newborn blog to other well established and literally stunning websites (they don’t even look like blogs in the traditional sense.. but then I am basically from the stone age when it comes to this sort of thing) so I got somewhat overwhelmed by what I wanted to create & achieve – the demands I put on myself and the perfection I seek – and underwhelmed by the measly, feeble appearance of what I’d just begun… I’d spent a lot of time yesterday trying to figure out how to have pages and links etc… yes I can be impatient, I want it and I want it now! I can also see so clearly in my head how I want to be and I get frustrated because I dont actually know how to make it happen! So… I came back to this quote which I think is a good one for me in a lot of areas of my life… don’t compare what you have/do/achieve/create to what others are having/doing/creating or achieving… because it will only bring you down. I was so high off the pure and simple fact that I’d actually ticked off something that’s been on my to do list for far too long… and this high led me to want to do more and be more and achieve more, which was great, but I do get carried away and I probably do set my expectations too high… so this is a reminder to myself to forget what others are doing and be so involved and focused on my own stuff that nothing else distracts me or prohibits me. Yes be inspired by others but don’t try to live up to others either. This is my journey and I’m starting from scratch, with no real knowledge of html or formatting… but I’ll pick it up somehow and I’ll get there. It’s good to know what I would like to possibly achieve & create in the future but I need to focus on now and going through the motions… broken down and simplified… My aim approximately 24 hours ago was purely to start a blog, not to have an all singing, all dancing, perfectly pruned production! I simply wanted to get a blog going and I’ve achieved this so I need to focus on what I have done and not the million things left that I still want to do… we need to give ourselves credit for even the small things we achieve on a daily basis and not be so hard on ourselves! So less concern with what others are doing and more focus on our own kingdoms we hold ownership over!

My First Blog Post

Wow I finally made it here! My first ever blog post! It’s only been around a decade in the thinking/ planning… to start a blog that is, not my first post.. if that was the case this first post would hopefully be better than it actually is going to be considering I’m just winging this and blabbing my thoughts through the keyboard as they arise… So why a decade? I suppose I am an eternal procrastinator… and professional over-thinker… I mull things over and analyse details in my head to the point I sort of talk myself out of doing the things I really want to do! The reason I started my instagram foodie page is because 1) I love food and 2) it was a short cut and easy way out of having to start and run a blog… a few of my friends had suggested I start a blog to share my food and recipes etc (circa 2007) but when I looked into it, it just seemed like so much effort and time and, well I’m kinda lazy! So I forgot about it for a long time, then when I heard more about instagram I set up my dedicated food page in 2012 or so. I was veggie at the time but after a while of following vegan pages a lot of things started to click. I’ll write separate blog posts on this in more detail but I basically credit instagram with ‘switching the light on’ for me so to speak. I follow so many wonderful people on there and find it a really positive and inspirational sharing platform. At the start of last year I finally acted out my year on year resolution to quit facebook (which I found to be overall a less positive and inspirational sharing platform.. but again, more on this in another post!) but I kept my account to be able to continue following vegan pages and groups, which I check in on now and again. On the whole, quitting facebook has been a brilliant move, but there are some aspects I miss, but mostly as a photo-holic (technical term for someone who is addicted to taking photos) I miss being able to store my pictures which are sort of like photo-journals of my travels etc.. they are just bunged onto the computer and then forgot about… so the concept of a blog crept up on me again.. I thought I could use it as a way to store my memories online and share my adventures and also food experiences with fellow plant eaters and food enthusiasts… plus all my other musings on various topics and things close to my heart… or things that may be of interest to others.. so this blog, in summary, is gonna be a right mish mash! But hopefully of things that may be useful to someone, somewhere… I don’t really know what I’m doing in all honesty but the fact I’ve even got to this stage is quite something! A small triumph in fact! I have lots of ideas for various posts so at least I’ve got some material to be getting started with! so with that in mind, I might as well get cracking!

Love & Light (and Leaves),

Lynsey x