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Vegan friendly chocolate

Vegan friendly chocolate

Vegan friendly chocolate.

There seems to be a misconception that when you turn vegan you suddenly stop eating chocolate; this is not the case. There are many brands of chocolate offering dairy free options which don’t have to come from the “free from” section. If you like dark chocolate then you will find the transition easy. If you don’t enjoy dark chocolate it could take a while to make the transition however over time you will get used to the taste and start to love it.

It is possible to get milk and white vegan chocolate however it does have to come from the “free from” section because it isn’t naturally made dairy free. As a result the cost will be a bit higher than your regular chocolate bars.

Things to note:

  • not all dark chocolate is vegan so always double check the label.
  • dairy products are mostly always in bold however “butterfat” is sometimes not highlighted; so again double check the label.

Some facts about chocolate:

Chocolate is made from the cacao plant which in its most natural state is actually a health food. Not to be confused with cocoa, cacao is naturally high in antioxidants and has numerous health benefits. Alongside a healthy diet, cacao has the ability to balance blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduce arterial plaque and ultimately reverse heart disease.

Other health benefits:

  • Its high in magnesium which increases energy levels and protects against osteoporosis.
  • Cacao boosts serotonin levels and endorphins which improve mood and balance mood swings.
  • It contains healthy fats which create chemical reactions for growth, immune function and metabolic function.

I have accumulated a section of photos on my trip around Tesco, finding all the vegan chocolate I could. Other supermarkets and health shops have more choice so you’re never short of options. These are mainstream brands, where as health shops have great raw chocolate varieties (and more!) but at a higher cost.

Other alternatives include raw cacao powder (to create your own great vegan desserts/ treats) and cacao nibs (to add to snacks, smoothies and oats).

Find some of your mainstream varieties below.

Green & Black’s

Tesco’s Own

Lindt

Green & Blacks Thins

Tesco Finest

Bournville

Ritter Sport (not their mint variety)

BENDICK’S

 

To find out more about how chocolate is made, go view my post on how I made chocolate in the Amazon!

Being the only vegan at a party

Being the only vegan at a party

Being the only vegan at a party

I don’t know if it has happened to you before but I sometimes feel like I am the only vegan in the village. Eating a vegan diet does make you the minority, although the number of us are on the increase, so there are things you need to accept.

  • people don’t always understand you
  • people think you only eat lettuce and carrots
  • you may be weird to some people
  • some people assume you are judging them OR that they’re making you feel uncomfortable eating meat near you
  • some genuinely don’t know how to cater for you
  • don’t expect to be catered for at parties and don’t take offence!!

As a result of this you have to be confident in what you’re doing, happy with what you’re doing and always be prepared.

Here are some quick tips to help you feel comfortable in party situations:

  • eat before you go: you wont offend anyone at the party because chances are there’s not much substantial you will be able to eat there. Eating before hand ensures you wont be hungry there so you wont get “hangry” and want to leave. You want to be happy and comfortable there so make sure you’re well fed before hand.
  • take something with you:  super easy tip. Take food with you! Share you’re food with others, it will make you blend in and people will appreciate the gift 🙂
  • don’t make comments about there being no vegan food available: in a room full of numerous “normal” eating people, you can’t expect that on top of catering for all them people that they’re going to go that extra mile for you. They have spent a lot of time and effort into preparing the party so don’t mention you’re vegan and there’s nothing to eat, simply say you’re not hungry or “no thank you” to non-vegan offerings.
  • find any vegan food you can and take it before it goes: there’s a chance that there will be a cheese board with fresh or dried fruits. Take some and pop them on your plate before they all go. Bread is normally available and if you’re lucky some salads or veggie sticks. More times than none there will be vegan options but get them on your plate at the beginning of the party, just incase they run out by the time you’re hungry.
  • don’t worry about it: at the end of the day you’re not there for the food, you’re there for the party. Enjoy the party and be social. Social environments don’t always have to revolve around food and if they do just make sure you’re prepared.

I hope these few, quick tips help you for when you feel like the only vegan in the village 🙂

 

 

Let’s talk cheese

Let’s talk cheese

Let’s talk cheese.

When it comes to transitioning to a vegan diet or simply going dairy free, the main difficulty people find is giving up cheese.

All dairy products contain a protein called Casein and cheese contains the most addictive and concentrated form of Casein, Casomorphins. Casomorphins have an opioid effect (opioids: known as one the world’s oldest drugs)! This addictive formula is what was designed to keep the calf suckling its mother’s milk. Now can you see why cheese is so difficult to give up!?

 As well as being highly addictive, cheese contains no fibre. This means that when consuming it you simply don’t get full. If you were to eat fibre rich foods such as rice or beans however, you’d get full. When you can understand this it makes in mentally easier to make the transition to dairy free alternatives, limiting your intake or cutting out cheese all together!

Ultimately you want to make the transition as smoothly as possible and you don’t want to feel like you are restricting yourself. If you want to reduce/ cut out cheese from your life then you need great alternatives and you need flavourful, texture-rich foods that stop you reaching for the cheese!

Habits are made over a life time so don’t expect to be cheese free in a day, although this is possible! However, realistically it is a change of habit. Habits on average take three weeks to break. Three weeks to break a habit which could last a lifetime, really isn’t that long.

 So how can you break the habit?

1) Cheese alternatives. 

These are a great way of transitioning and sticking to a lifetime without real cheese. There are some great varieties out there now and most supermarkets have an entire array of alternatives.

For cheese on toast, baked potatoes, sandwiches, pizza and more! Try Violife (here in the U.K.). I’ve heard from many people that this is the best on the market and they come in many varieties.

There is a brand in the US called Daiya which is also a great branded alternative, however this is more difficult to find in the U.K.

Vegan cheeses are a fantastic alternative when going dairy free and there is absolutely no casein added. Give them a go and really try to get used to them because they are a much healthier alternative.

2) For a “cheesy flavour”: Nutritional Yeast aka Nooch. 

One of my personal favourites.

  

 Nutritional yeast is de-activated yeast, not to be confused with baking yeast, which gives your meals a cheesy flavour. You can sprinkle it on pasta, toast, baked potatoes and into soups or sauces. It’s a parmesan style addition to a meal and packed with Vitamin B12 (an essential addition to a Vegan diet).

 3) For a creamy, cheesy sauce: Tahini

 

 Used with nutritional yeast or simply on its own, tahini is a fantastic way to create a creamy, cheese like sauce. Used in most of my pasta sauces, tahini is a staple in my kitchen. Simply stir in your desired amount into your pasta sauce (I normal use about 1tbsp) or you can make a dressing with it too.

 Tahini is great combined with soy sauce, lemon and garlic. Add some water for a thinner consistency and it can used on salad or on potatoes (thicker consistency is better here). Another way I like to use tahini is on toast! It’s a staple that you will need in your home. Think of it as a cheese spread replacement.

  4) Get creative in the kitchen.

      

In other words, try making foods other than cheese based foods. There is such an array of foods in the world that meals don’t always have to revolve around cheese. Thai foods, Indian foods, Chinese, Mediterranean and more. The world’s cuisine has so much more to offer than cheese, you just have to experiment more. 

An increase of flavours and textures will have you so satisfied that you won’t need to be reaching for the Cheddar and the grater!

 To summarise: 

 Cheese is an addictive food. To break your cheese habit it can take up to three weeks and it can be done. I know that due to the addictiveness some people may really struggle to give up cheese completely but at least give it a go. If you are trying your hardest to be vegan and cheese is the only component of it that you can’t do then don’t beat yourself up about it! You want something that is manageable long term and if the only food you can’t let go of is cheese then so be it. However, do not give up. Research is clear that a plant-based vegan diet is the healthiest way to live and can eliminate disease and illness.

Take your time in making the transition; the more you reduce your intake the easier it will be to give it up in the long run. As you experience the health benefits of a plant-based diet and how fantastic you feel, gradually the desire for “real cheese” will go away. Every small step makes a huge difference so stick with it and do your very best!

Super Fruity Oats

Super Fruity Oats

Hi Lovely Peoples 🙂

I have a delicious recipe for you all to try and it’s my Super Fruity Oats! Oh. My. Lordy. I think I will go as far as saying these have to be the nicest oats I have ever made! As you may not know, or you will if you follow my Instagram page (hans_eats), I am an Oat and Smoothie addict. Breakfasts are my favourite meal of the day and I love deciding what combination I am going to try each and every time. I tend to go through phases of what I like and stick to it and at the moment it’s very fruity and chocolatey!

These oats contain lots of essential minerals, vitamins, fibre and antioxidants which will help to improve digestion, blood circulation, cardiovascular function, and both physical and mental wellbeing. Give them a try and let me know what you think 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 Cup Oats
  • 1 Tbsp Flaxseeds
  • 1 Tbsp Raw Cacao
  • 10 Raspberries
  • ½ Banana
  • 3 Prunes
  • Water (enough to cover oats)

METHOD:

  1. Place all ingredients into Saucepan
  2. Cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until your desired consistency
  3. Pour into bowl and top with strawberries, blueberries and coconut
  4. ENJOY !!
Apple Sauce Recipe

Apple Sauce Recipe

Hi Lovely People.

If you are following my Instagram page (hans_eats) you will see that for the past week or so I have been posting numerous pictures of my amazing morning oats, all which have contained Apple Sauce!! Therefore I thought I better share this recipe with you to try because combined with oats it is so good!

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Before making this recipe I had never tried apple sauce before… that might sound crazy to some, especially Americans!! But I haven’t. People in the UK, from my experiences anyway, always eat it with Pork and even before I didn’t eat meat I really didn’t like the combination of sweet and savoury. Pineapple on Pizza? Yuuuuck!! Not for me. However, when I travelled to America for my Second Year of University I noticed that almost everyone ate Apple Sauce, and not with meat but with Cottage Cheese?! Or even as a snack by itself? I couldn’t get my head around it, lol.

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Moving forwards 2 years I bought Deliciously Ella’s book and noticed that a lot of her sweet recipes had apple sauce in them which I thought was a great idea. The problem I had is that I didn’t want to go and buy a huge bag of apples to cook and then realise I didn’t even like apple sauce as a result, then waste the money AND the food! So, moving forward to summer time, I noticed that my Grandparents’ neighbours cooking apple tree was growing over into their garden significantly and there were a large amount of apples wanting to be picked!! Speaking to my Nan she said that we were allowed to pick them because the neighbour didn’t pick them ever anyway. Result!

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So me and my beautiful Nephew went and picked a few that looked good and I took them home to experiment with. A result of this really long story is that I made some apple sauce, it was delicious, I ate it every day with my oats and on its own as a snack and I’ve now finished the jar and need to go and make some more!! I am now going to finally share this great recipe with you so you can enjoy it also.

Enjoy it any way you like.

Sweet? Savoury? On its own? Go crazy. You decide!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 Cooking Apples
  • 100 mls Water
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Cinnamon (to taste)

METHOD:

  • Peel and core all the apples, then cut them into cubes
  • Add apples, water and lemon juice into a large pan and cook over a low heat
  • Cook until all mushy, this should only take about 10-15minutes
  • Wait to cool before placing in a large airtight jar and storing in the fridge
  • Keep for up to a week
Healthy Chocolate Brownies

Healthy Chocolate Brownies

In the past few years I have seen so many recipes for healthy chocolate brownies using black beans, therefore I went and bought some… However that was about three months ago and they hadn’t been touched. This weekend however, I finally decided to go ahead and make them to see what they were like. I can honestly say, I should not have waited so long and I think I am going to say… That this probably my favourite recipe yet !! Honestly, they are so good and you’d never know that they were good for you. They taste incredible !! 

I always do a taste test on my mum because she is so fussy and never wants to try my food if she knows the ingredients, therefore I just give it to her to taste and not tell her till afterwards what the ingredients are. For these brownies she had no idea the ingredients apart from chocolate lol so that’s got to be a good sign right??

These bad boys will keep your cravings at bay with it’s naughty and delicious taste but also because of the protein content it will help fill a hole and leave you more than satisfied!

Go on, give them a try. These I can promise you, you will NOT be disappointed.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can, rinsed black beans
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 7 tbsp chocolate protein powder
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (honey if not vegan)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 dark chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350F/ Gas mark 4.
  • Blend together all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a high speed quality blender (I always use my Nutribullet).
  • Once a smooth batter, mix in chocolate chips.
  • Pour into a small lined/ greased baking tray (roughly 8×8 size).
  • Bake for 16 minutes.
  • Once removed leave to cool and refrigerate overnight before cutting into 10 deliciously amazing chocolate brownies.
  • Serve and enjoy !!!

 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies

Ok so I got a little carried away with these babies, and what started off as a simple cinnamon and oat cookie turned into chocolate and peanut butter cookies with some other added bits! Avoid all the chia seeds and extra coconut on top unless you want to but to keep it more simple, just follow the recipe 🙂 Sometimes simple is best, right?

I never liked cinnamon until living in America for a year. During Fall and Christmas time it was everywhere and soon enough I came to love the superfood! The smell of it gives good memories and I cant get enough of it. This is the first time I’ve used it in baking and its a beautiful little addition isn’t it?! It’s also great in oats and who doesn’t like a cinnamon latte?

Cinnamon has many health benefits, best of all it helps reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. So when you can add a dash to your bakes or oats!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
  • 5 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Raw Cacao
  • 1 + 1/4 Cup Oats
  • 1/4 Cup Desiccated coconut
  • Dash of Cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

  1. On low heat, mix almond milk, PB, maple syrup, cinnamon and cacao.
  2. Turn of heat and add in coconut and oats.
  3. Form into 8 cookies and place on a lined baking tray.

TIPS:

Leave to set and cool in the fridge before eating. You do not have to keep them in the fridge once they have set, it is entirely personal preference. I chop and change between the two, it doesn’t make much difference I don’t think.

Fully Raw Chocolate Cheesecake!

Fully Raw Chocolate Cheesecake!

Before I become lactose intolerant, and then changing to a fully vegan diet, my biggest love was Cheesecake. I love a fruity cheesecake but sometimes we just crave a really chocolatey dessert and that’s when I would venture to a Fully Raw Chocolate Cheesecake! A great alternative to a dairy cheesecake is a fully raw vegan cheesecake, simply made with plant based whole foods. You can eat it with joy and not worry about feeling guilty or going to the gym for an extra hour. You will need time to make this and have patience as you need to let it sit in the freezer but once its set and you try it you wont be disappointed.

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INGREDIENTS:

CRUST

  • 1 cup Pitted Dates
  • 1/2 cup Almonds

FILLING

  • 1 cup Cashews (soaked overnight!)
  • 4 Frozen Bananas (Sliced to help blend)
  • 1/4 cup Almond Milk (to help with blending if you need it)
  • 3 tbsp Raw cacao
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup

TOP LAYER

  • 2 tbsp Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 cup Melted Coconut Oil
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup

FINISH

  • Top with raspberries and dessicated coconut

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Blend nuts and dates until sticky consistency, and press into the base of a 15cm wide cake tin (one with a quick release or push out base).
  2. Drain and wash off the cashews then add them to the blender with the cocoa , bananas and honey. Also at this stage if you need some fluid to help it blend then add the 1/4 cup almond milk.
  3.  Layer on to the crust and then freeze!!
  4. Once that layer has frozen solid you can make the peanut butter topping (I waited overnight however it should take about 4 hours).
  5. Melt peanut butter, coconut oil and honey in a saucepan over a very low heat then pour onto the cheesecake once combined.
  6. Add raspberries onto the cheesecake and sprinkle with dessicated coconut
  7. Freeze again, and then enjoy!!

NOTES

  • Wet your hands slightly before pressing in the base of the cheesecake to stop it sticking to your fingers!
  • When ready to eat, let the cheesecake sit out of the freezer for about 10 minutes before devouring. It is worth the wait 😉
  • Serving sizes are completely up to you! I serve 2 raspberries per slice 🙂