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Healthy Flapjack Recipe

Healthy Flapjack Recipe

There are certain times when your body craves sweet foods. No matter how hard we try to fight it by eating healthier alternatives, we just can’t shift that craving. Our Oestrogen levels are through the roof and our body simply craves sugar. Instead of constantly trying to fight that craving, if you succumb to it and eat what you fancy, the craving goes away. As a result,¬†you stop walking back and forth to your fridge or cupboards in the hope that something will just pop up that wasn’t there two minutes ago.

I have a huge sweet tooth so I always have to have something sweet ready to hand. I live with my parents at the moment and them Lotus biscuits they have in the cupboard are far too tempting when there’s nothing else for me to satisfy my sugar craving!

This week I made some flapjack because that is exactly what I fancied. You can easily make a vegan alternative of flapjack with vegan butter, golden syrup and oats; simple! However, I don’t like to eat golden syrup or vegan butter because I choose to eat whole plant foods instead. They’re better for our health and that’s what I enjoy to eat. So, it is up to you to which you prefer, and if you prefer the healthy option, keep reading and try these!

I’d have taken better photos for you but the honest truth is, it was dark when I made them and with the help of my family they were all eaten within about 3-4 days. I’ve been busy on the go lately and couldn’t find time to take good pictures, but that doesn’t alter the taste right? ūüôā

So, enjoy and I hope you like them!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas
  • 360g rolled oats
  • 6 tbsp. date syrup (or maple syrup, honey, your preference)
  • 6 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp. coconut oil
  • cinnamon (optional!)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (180 degrees).

Place the oats in a mixing bowl.

Mash the bananas with a fork and add them to a saucepan with the peanut butter, coconut oil, syrup and cinnamon (if using cinnamon). Heat at a low temperature until all combined and delicious.

Pour mixture gradually into oats and combine well.

Once all mixed, grease your baking tray with coconut oil and then transfer your oat mixture into the tray. Press down with fork or spatula until all neat and firm, then pop into the oven.

Cook for 15-20mins, until the top looks nice and golden.

Remove from oven and allow to cool (or if you’re like me, eat when hot).

 

Side note:

These can be eaten hot or cold, but a great indulgence tip. Try mixing together date syrup (or whatever syrup you used for the recipe), raw cacao and boiled water to heat it up a bit. This makes a delicious chocolate sauce. Pour over heated flapjack (I cooked for 30seconds in microwave). It is incredible. Pure indulgence!!

The chocolate sauce, ratio is 1:1:1 (i.e. 1tsp cacao, 1tsp syrup, tsp hot water). Add quantities as desired, you may want to double the sweetness if you prefer it more sweet, its entirely up to you, but just a guidance ūüôā

 

Why I’m not giving up food for lent

Why I’m not giving up food for lent

Why I’m not giving up food for lent.

Each year lent comes and goes, many don’t succeed and for some they do. Most of those who take part in lent have no religious beliefs what so ever, however they want to challenge themselves to give up something to see if they can do it. I am all for supporting peoples desires and if you do this and succeed at it then that is super creditable; good on you!!

I just wanted to share why I won’t be giving up anything for lent this year, and haven’t done for a good few years.

Lent is a religious event where Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. In his honour people give up something for this period of time, mostly a food item. I’m not aware of the “rules” but I know some people chose to give up a behaviour, which is great!

I questioned lent for a few days in the run up thinking, what should I give up? I googled lent and saw the reasoning for it and I knew straight away I wasn’t going to give up a food. Firstly, I’m not religious, but I always like a challenge. The thing that occurred to me however is that for once in my life there isn’t one item of food I want to give up!

I am finally in a great place with my diet and my mind and this means that I can eat anything I desire; no limitations! Coming from an eating disorder it was always about giving up a food, restriction, eating good and eating bad. There was no balance. Fast forward to March 1st 2017 I can say that there is not 1 item of food (or drink for that matter) that I feel I need to give up!

For others you may feel you need to give up something for whatever reason, but if this is the case then don’t let Lent be your reasoning. Do it for you and your health, this doesn’t need to start tomorrow, or at New Years, start now and for the long term.

If you are religious, then go for it! Your beliefs go way beyond just giving up a food for health, it’s your religion. I am just going on why many people I know give up a food for lent, and that isn’t for religious beliefs.

Good luck to all those giving up something for Lent and do what you love, follow what you love, and be happy in doing so.

 

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 ūüôā
  • 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 ūüôā

 

 

Finding happiness with food

Finding happiness with food

Finding happiness with food.

There have been times in the past year (well, 2016 until now) that I have just sat back and realised how far I have come.

As you all may know, 7 years ago almost to the day, I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. The whole ordeal was a nightmare and I really was at rock bottom. Depressed, malnourished and my body giving up on me, I didn’t know what the future had in store for me.

Time passed and although the physical effects of the Anorexia had gone, the mental effects lasted around 5 years. I had to retrain myself to eat normally and not to be afraid of food. Not to be obsessing over what I’m eating or feeling extremely anxious in public environments where food was present; it was painful.

After spending days, months and years researching nutrition to the fullest I could, it wasn’t until I found veganism that I noticed changes. I knew that eating a plant based diet I could eat healthy nutritious food and it was giving my body goodness. I was able to eat and thrive. I could eat food in abundance and not worry if it was going to make me sick, if I was going to binge and purge, along with all the other mental and physical issues it would result in.

18 months into eating a plant based diet I am not only thriving physically and mentally but I am finally at peace with food. I am able to sit in social environments and feel comfortable. I am happy with my body because I know I am healthy. I don’t care that I have fat on me because I know I am healthy.

I enjoy the occasional sweet treat and that is fine. The fact I can eat a cake (albeit vegan) and not feel guilty or binge out because “I’ve blown being good” is something I never thought would ever happen. I can sit in a room of people all eating cake and not stare at it thinking “should I have some or shall I be good?”. These things that some people may think are normal or little things feel like a miracle to me!

For years I spent my time obsessing over the food I put in my mouth. Worrying over what I was eating and constantly questioning what to eat, how much to eat, if I should eat it or not. Now however, these questions are not there. I eat three main meals a day, I eat what I like and all guilt has disappeared. I snack on healthy foods but these foods I enjoy.

I enjoy eating healthy. I don’t miss dairy or meat because they don’t make me happy. When I think of meat and dairy I don’t get the excitement that other people may get. This may be because of my eating disorder background but that’s ok. I do what I do for me because it makes me feel good.

Not everyone understands what I do but that is fine. I am happy and I am content. I’ve finally found peace with food and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Now I just want to share the amazing benefits of a plant based diet and encourage everyone to just try and eat better so that they can find peace too.

Whatever makes you happy is what you should do. No one has the right to tell you otherwise because it’s only you who has the power over your actions.

Thank you for listening to me and I hope this gives you more of an insight into why it is I am so passionate about this subject.

 

Be Fat Smart

Be Fat Smart

Be Fat Smart: your guide to knowing what fats you should and shouldn’t be eating and why they are good for us!

Before we get into the benefits of adding fats into your diet let share some knowledge.

What exactly is fat?

Fat is a rich source of energy made up of essential fatty acids. These fatty acids are broken down into the following classifications, determined by their chemical structure: saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Fats high source of energy means for 1 gram of fat, we are provided with 9kcals. To compare this, for 1 gram of carbohydrate or protein we consume we are provided with just 4 kcals.

Ultimately,¬†it is easier to overeat on fats than it is on carbohydrates or protein. Although is it possible eat too much of both, the way our bodies store this over consumption of energy is the same; it is stored as fat. The reason for this is that our body’s cells have limited stores therefore once full it can no longer create any more energy from that source. The more fat that is deposited, over time leads to¬†serious conditions such as heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Know the differences

Saturated:

Known as the “bad fat” saturated fats are known to raise low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) leading to blocked arteries, and restricted blood flow to the brain and heart. This¬†increases risk of stroke and heart disease. There are ongoing debates as to whether there is “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol, but for many years it has been suggested that high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) is good for us.¬†HDL cholesterol is known to take cholesterol¬†from parts of the body where there is too much of¬†it¬†and¬†transport it back to the liver¬†where it is deposited of.

High saturated fats include:

Animal based:

  • meat products: sausages, pies, sandwich meats
  • fatty cuts of meat
  • butter, ghee and lard
  • all cheese
  • all creams including ice cream
  • cakes, biscuits and pastries
  • some savoury snacks and chocolate confectionery

Plant based:

  • palm oil
  • coconut oil and cream

Trans fats:

The UK eats minimal levels of trans fats and it is found in¬†low levels in the following¬†foods: animal products, both meat and dairy,¬†and hydrogenated vegetable oil. Supermarkets have taken strong measures to ensure that hydrogenated oils aren’t in their own products however always be sure to check. On average the UK gets just half the required maximum level recommended therefore it is more important to focus on reducing saturated fats. Like saturated fats, trans fats increase LDL cholesterol and the recommended daily intake is just 5% of our daily caloric intake. Eating a plant based diet you will more than likely consume 0% trans fats in your diet.

Unsaturated fats:

The fats that we all SHOULD be eating! These are the fats you want to include in your diet and switch out the saturated fats. Unsaturated fats come from plant based foods and this is what makes the body thrive. Eating unsaturated fats and banishing saturated fats will cut your risk of heart disease and stroke, and can even help to lower cholesterol.

Unsaturated fats can be either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated fats:

These fats help to reduce our LDL cholesterol and maintain our HDL cholesterol, thus protecting our hearts.

Monounsaturated fats are found in:

  • oils from: olives and¬†rapeseed (including their spreads)
  • almonds, brazils and peanuts
  • avocados

Polyunsaturated:

Polyunsaturated fats can also help reduce our LDL cholesterol and come in two types: omega 3 and omega 6. The body cannot make all the essential omega 3 and 6 fats and therefor these need to be added into our diets.

Omega 6:

  • nuts
  • sunflower oil and rapeseed oil

Omega 3:

  • flaxseeds
  • chia seeds
  • oily fish (if you consume fish)

Omega 3 and 6 are extremely important to have in a plant based diet as these are found in the least common foods. If you cook with oil then you will get enough Omega 6 in your diet, however to get sufficient levels of Omega 3 it is important toad flaxseed and chia seeds into your diet, as well as a plant based protein which included Omega 3’s.

Benefits of getting healthy Unsaturated fats in your diets include:

  • reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancers and more
  • increased satiety levels meaning you will be full and satisfied and not reach for unhealthy foods instead
  • provides us with energy
  • provides us with essential fatty acids for growth, healthy skin, vitamin-absorption
  • regulates of bodily functions

To summarise, eating fats is an essential part of our diets. When we choose correctly we are able to lower our cholesterol levels and thrive off the fat that we eat. Making the swap from saturated to unsaturated fats can reduce your risk of serious health conditions and it doesn’t include cutting out fat from your diet completely. You can still enjoy good, healthy plant based foods but like most tings this still needs to be done in moderation. Our body only has limited energy¬†stores so no matter where the food is coming from, if we eat too much of it it gets deposited as fat.

Your meals should consist of mostly fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. A small addition of fats should be added to each meal to help you feel satisfied and full.

Try adding:

  • nut butter into your porridge
  • avocado into your pasta or onto toast
  • tahini onto your toast or pasta sources
  • flaxseeds into your smoothie
  • chia seeds onto salads, oats, smoothies
  • some squares of rich dark chocolate as a treat
  • coconut milk into your curries
  • nut butters with dates

The key is to not be afraid to add fat into your diet because it can be so beneficial for us when done correctly. Have small amounts and enjoy it. Food is for enjoyment as well as keeping us healthy and thriving so always keep that in mind.

 

 

Cuppa Tea and a Biscuit?

Cuppa Tea and a Biscuit?

Cuppa Tea and a Biscuit anyone?

I mean, who doesn’t love a cuppa tea and a biscuit?!

I try to make transitioning into a plant based diet easy for everyone and I understand that not all of us have¬†time to make our own alternatives. Making¬†plant based biscuits by hand are definitely a healthier alternative to shop bought, but I know this isn’t convenient for everyone. As a result I have accumulated¬†a bunch of¬†photographs for you for some shop bought biscuits which are all vegan and easily accessible.

The Oreo’s I noticed contain vegetable oils including palm oil. This actually makes them non-vegan! I’m not 100% sure about ingredients for them around the world but this left me a bit suspicious. Oreo’s have always been known ¬†as a vegan go-to biscuit/ cookie so I’m left wondering. ¬†I will leave this up to you to make your own opinion but as for ingredients otherwise, they’re definitely plant based; no dairy.

I want you to know that a vegan/ plant based diet doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. If you do have time to make your own biscuits then I’d definitely recommend doing this! However if you have a party to go to and need to take something, these could be useful. Alternatively you may have children who still want their biscuits as a treat and this way you can feed them vegan foods without them knowing the difference.

Whatever works for you is what is most important and there are lots more on the market so do keep an eye open for them.

Things to take into account:

Recipes change all the time so always double check the packaging. For example: Jaffa Cakes and After Eights used to be vegan and now they are NOT.

Brands differ. For example: Regular digestives are NOT vegan, but some cheaper brands ARE.

Just because biscuits say chocolate or cream, it doesn’t always mean it isn’t vegan. You’ll be amazed by what is vegan so always check the packet first.

OREO’S: so far I have found that all varieties are dairy free apart from the Peanut Butter brand.

These are not a “health food”: although the biscuits are vegan¬†and/ or plant based¬†they contain oils and unhealthy sugars. If¬†you do choose to eat them then do so in small amounts.

 

Selection:

   

The British Classics

    

 

Oreo’s – the “Vegan” favourite

   

Childhood favourites

 

Like I say, these are just a few I found whilst out shopping today. Always double check before you buy, dairy products are written in BOLD so are easy to find.

Good luck!

Vegan Egg Replacements

Vegan Egg Replacements

Vegan Egg Replacements

As you transition into a vegan/ plant-based diet there will be obstacles you’ll come across which can leave you stuck. As I speak to more and more people about problems they’re coming across I have found that for some people giving up eggs is difficult. Eggs are a quick meal and high in protein which is good for filling you up. However, eggs contain high levels of¬†cholesterol and zero fibre. Research into eggs have even compared eating eggs as bad a smoking cigarettes due to the plaque build up in arteries they produce.

Unfortunately, in the food industry there isn’t much on the market that can replicate the taste of egg.¬†Fried eggs and poached eggs simply can not be replaced at present, however scrambled eggs and omelette have a similar plant-based alternative. As for baking, this is an easy transition that won’t effect your bakes.

 

For cooking

Tofu.

The stereotypical “vegan food”. Tofu is the closest and cheapest you can get to scrambled eggs or an¬†eggy taste and texture.

To scramble simply mash the tofu in a pan and cook with soy sauce to bring out the flavour. You can also add in: spices, turmeric for colour, spring onion, tomatoes, mushrooms etc. Cook as you would normally do your scramble.

To note: tofu comes in a packet of water which needs to be drained and rinsed off. For cubing tofu you need to pat dry the tofu and dry it out; instructions will be on packet.

Tofu is great when cubed and put into main meals but for this you need a firm tofu as typical tofu crumbles easily (better for scramble) You can buy tofu pre-marinated if this is an easier option for you.

VeganEgg.

Personally I have never tried this and it’s not something that appeals to me. However I have known people to use it and opinion varies. VeganEgg can be used for omelettes and scrambled egg and it tries to replicate the taste of real eggs.

The downsides to this product are:

1. It it is very expensive for the amount of product that you get. Online it will cost you around £7 plus delivery!
3. It is hard to come across unless you purchase online. However it is sold in SOME health food stores.
4. It is an egg replacer meaning they have tried to replicate the taste and texture the best they can, consequently the ingredients reflect that.

The plus side of this product is that you get a close replication of egg and the most similar you’ll possibly find. It all depends on how much you miss real eggs and if you’re able to go without them.

For baking.

Banana

Simply use 1 banana to replace 1 egg. Mash into your baked goods and pancakes too!

Flaxegg and Chiaegg

Flaxmeal

As a binder for baked goods flaxsmeal is brilliant. Combine 1 part flaxmeal to 3 parts water. 1 tbsp flaxmeal + 3 tbsp water equivocates to 1 egg. Combine and wait ten minutes for the mixture to go gooey, then use as you would egg.

Chia seeds

Exactly as above. 1 part chia to 3 parts water. 1tbsp chia seeds + 3tbsp water = 1 egg. Leave to get sticky for approximately 10 minutes.

This should hopefully make your life easier as you transition to a vegan / plant-based lifestyle. The more you research into the egg industry and the health consequences, it should be enough to cut them out of you diet. I ate eggs on a regular basis before going vegan and although I missed their convenience initially I could never eat them again knowing what I know now. I really hope this helps you out and if you’re still sceptical then just research, research, research. The more you know the better you’ll feel.