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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

 

What to Eat to Reduce Inflammation

What to Eat to Reduce Inflammation

What to eat to reduce Inflammation

A topic of conversation that regularly comes up in my working practise is inflammation.

Inflammation is at the root of many common, long term diseases: arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, to name a few. With education and correct food choices, symptoms can be reduced and discomfort eased.

Inflammation is not always a bad thing. In fact, inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury. It is a protective response to remove harmful stimuli such as damaged cells, irritants and pathogens. Problems occur however when inflammation becomes chronic.

Chronic inflammation can last from months to years. If not kept under control, or ideally eliminated, chronic inflammation can cause disease and illness. Through our diet, we are able to reduce inflammation and ultimately help health problems away.

Try adding the following foods into your diet to reduce inflammation:

  • Dark leafy greens (Kale, Swiss chard and Spinach)

Rich in Vitamins A, C and K. These greens are high in antioxidants that restore cellular health. Eat in salads, smoothies, stir fries and more.

  • Celery

High in antioxidants and a natural anti-inflammatory. Improves blood pressure, cholesterol levels and can prevent heart disease. Eaten as a raw snack or an addition to any cold pressed juice, stock, stew or homemade pasta sauce.

  • Beetroot

Contains antioxidant Betalain, a fantastic anti-inflammatory. Beetroot has incredible benefits when added in just small quantities. Try adding to a cold pressed juice, made into a beetroot hummus, boiled for a salad topper, burger or sandwich. Alternative options include spiralised on a salad, roasted or home-made healthy crisps!

  • Broccoli

Known as the ‚Äúantioxidant powerhouse‚ÄĚ, broccoli is packed with key vitamins to lower oxidative stress on the body and reduce chronic inflammation.

  • Blueberries

Contain a flavonoid called quercetin which fights inflammation and cancer. Blueberries can be eaten as a snack, put into smoothies, added to cereals or into your oatmeal.

  • Pineapple

Pineapple contains bromelain. Studies have shown that bromelain stops blood platelets from sticking together and building along the walls of blood vessels which leads to heart attacks and stroke.

  • Walnuts

The anti-inflammatory compounds in walnuts help protect against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Walnuts are great chopped up and mixed into pasta sauces, topped on oatmeal or even made into great raw vegan desserts. If you prefer they can be eaten on their own but remember nuts do have a high fat content so although they have fantastic health benefits, do be sure to eat them in moderation.

  • Coconut oil

Lips in coconut oil contain anti-inflammatory compounds which heal arthritis more effectively than medications.

Coconut oil can be heated at high temperatures without destroying its healing benefits, so try using it as an addition to your stir fries, homemade sweet potato chips, or a great addition to oatmeal and smoothies too!

  • Chia seeds

The ultimate ‚Äúsuperfood‚ÄĚ. Not only high in omega-3 and 6 but Chia seeds have the ability to reverse inflammation, lower blood pressure and regulate cholesterol levels.

Chia seeds can be used in many ways, try adding them onto salads, pasta or rice. Make a chia pudding, pop in a smoothie or into oatmeal. When mixed with water they form a gel which is used as an egg replacer in baking so they really have multiple uses. You will not struggle to get these into your diet!

  • Flaxseeds

Another great source of omega-3’s. Flaxseeds are high in antioxidants which are hormone balancing and great for cellular health.

Like chia seeds, flaxseeds can be used in multiple ways: sprinkle onto salads, on top of pastas or rice, or as an egg replacer in baking. For baking you will need the ground version of flaxseed and not the whole seed. An easy way to add flaxseed into your diet is in smoothies, 1 tbsp is a great amount and you can’t taste it either!

  • Turmeric

As you may have heard before, turmeric is fantastic at reducing inflammation. It’s active anti-inflammatory component, curcumin, is it’s primary compound.

Simply add this powerhouse into home-made curries, a warming addition to your rice, cold pressed juices or a warming turmeric latte!

  • Ginger

Ginger has the ability to break down the accumulation of toxins in the bodies organs. Use dry or fresh, it works the same way.

Ginger is a common spice and an essential part of any curry however it has many other uses. Try: fresh ginger and lemon water, freshly made juice, stir fries and raw vegan desserts. Due to the powerful flavour of ginger it can be a more difficult addition to a diet, however you only need a small amount to get the benefits so have some practise with it.

 

Eliminate the following inflammation inducing foods:

  • ALL processed meats
  • Red meats
  • Margarine, shortening and lard
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Fried foods
  • Refined carbohydrates (white breads, pastries, doughnuts etc)

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!

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.

 

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.

 

Top 5 Vegan Breakfast Ideas

Top 5 Vegan Breakfast Ideas

Top 5 Vegan Breakfast Ideas !

As a¬†really young child I remember my Mum always saying to me, “Please Hannah, just eat a piece of fruit at least”. I guess this was engrained into me and now I would never leave the house without eating something.

My breakfasts¬†tend to be sweet, fruity and nutrient packed. Here I share 5 great options¬†which will appeal to everyone and anyone. Whether you have 5 minutes in the morning or 30, there is an option for you. Get creative and really try to introduce a meal to your morning, if you don’t already.¬†For some people I know it is difficult but start off slowly and gradually you will be¬†waking up ready for breakfast!

So why is breakfast so important?

Breakfast literally means “to break the fast”. Overnight¬† our bodies work hard to digest the food from the previous night. In the process of this our body uses it’s main source of fuel, carbohydrates. As a result, our glucose levels can be low when we wake. Glucose (also known as our blood sugars) is the fuel our bodies need to power our muscles and brain. When we eat breakfast this restores our glucose levels, kick starts our metabolism and re-fuels us for the morning ahead. Research suggests that skipping breakfast can result in our body tapping into our energy reserve; in extreme cases this includes energy that is stored in our muscles.¬†All of this results in low energy and¬†lack of concentration, commonly leading on to unhealthy food choices later in the day.

Have a look at some of the options below and I hope you start to love breakfasts like I do. If you do already then I hope this gives you a few more ideas!

Breakfast #1

Smoothies and Nicecream.

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Smoothies are fantastic for when you are in a hurry. They are incredibly satisfying, filling, delicious and transportable. Take them in the car with you, into work, on route to school. Whatever it may be, they are a quick and nutritionally packed breakfast. Simply blend together: liquid of choice (plant based milk, water, coconut water), greens (spinach or kale), a high energy fruit (banana or mango), soft sweet fruits (berries of any kind, pineapple, papaya, kiwi fruit) and an optional extra (protein powders, nuts and seeds). This combination of fruits, greens and healthy fats are a brilliant way to start the day, replenishing all your glycogen stores and more!

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Nicecream is similar to a smoothie but has the consistency of ice cream. These are amazing if you have more time in the morning as they take longer to consume. Simply blend up some frozen bananas with a little milk of choice, or wait for them to thaw for approx. 15minutes. Add into the blender variations of flavours such as:

  • vanilla
  • peanut butter / almond butter
  • soft fruit of choice: mango, kiwi, berries, papaya, passion fruit
  • healthy extras: super greens, hemp, maca, cacao, baobab

When blended into an ice-cream consistency, spoon into a bowl and top with crunchy topping (granola, chia seeds, goji berries, coconut, etc).

Breakfast #2

Oats.

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Oats are super versatile. What I love about them is that they are packed with fibre and keep you full for such a long period of  time. They are a low GI food meaning they release carbohydrates slowly into the body and help maintain glucose levels. You can make so many different variations so that you never get bored and they can be eaten hot or cold! That is correct, oats are great eaten cold and this means you can eat them on the go if you need to.

Some hot oat combinations could be:

  • banana, almond/ peanut butter, maple syrup, milk of choice
  • grated apple, raisins and cinnamon, milk of choice
  • berries, sweetener of choice, plant based milk

The recipes are endless and I’m sure each individual has their own personal favourites.

Eaten cold, soak oats overnight in plant based milk combined with your choice of extras: fresh berries, nut butter, apple, coconut, chia seeds, dried fruits, cinnamon, etc. For fresh fruits that brown, such as banana and apple, add these in the morning for optimal freshness.

Breakfast #3

Toast.

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Who doesn’t love toast? As long as you are eating a high fibre content bread and choosing healthy toppings, it is a great way to start your day.¬†Opt for Rye, Wholegrain and Brown Sourdough for slow release carbohydrates and easy digestion. Toppings are endless but some easy, delicious ideas would be:

  • banana and nut butter (optional: coconut, chia seeds, cinnamon, berries)
  • avocado and tomato
  • nut butter and berries
  • tofu scramble (tofu cooked with tomatoes, greens, onion, soy sauce or spices)
  • baked beans
  • mushrooms
  • hummus and vegetable of choice: cucumber or¬†tomato

 

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Breakfast #4

Pancakes.

image

Slightly controversial as a “health food” but when made vegan these ARE healthy! The ingredients are the same as a bowl of porridge: oats, banana and plant based milk. This is a simple 3 ingredient recipe which can be varied adding in spices (cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg), flavourings (vanilla, almond, cacao, coconut), nuts, etc. But for simple recipe ideas follow: 1 cup oats, 1 banana, 1 cup plant based milk. Blend all in a blender and make into pancakes; its that simple. For a thicker style pancake add in 1 + 1/2 cups of oats instead. Top with fresh fruits, maple syrup, honey, nuts and seeds.

These are definitely a treat I would say, but they are an option for a special day, or weekend winner.

Breakfast #5

Cereals.

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If you are more of a cereal kind of person then cereal is an option. Make sure the cereal is as natural as possible, great ingredients, high in fibre and wholegrains, and as little refined sugar content as you can find. I personally don’t eat cereal but I know that many people do, and for some this is the only option suitable at present.

Shredded Wheat is a popular UK choice and as for ingredients it is pretty good. Try health food shops for natural cereals such as: muesli, popped quinoa, puffed rice etc. When topping your cereals opt for fresh berries, banana and a plant based milk.

rudehealth

These are a variety of options for you all to try and enjoy. I hope this has given you ideas and options to try. Like¬†I said, I know some people do struggle to get a meal down them in the morning but start slow. Smoothies are a fantastic idea as you can vary your¬†quantities. If that isn’t for you, try with a piece of fruit or slice of toast and nut butter. You will build a habit and introduce your body to eating in the morning. Once you build up to a full meal you wont look back again. Your energy will be optimised, you will¬†think clearer and¬†you will kick start your metabolism for the entire day.

Don’t be afraid to eat breakfast. For all current breakfast lovers, I hope this has helped give you ideas too!

Until next time,

Have a great week!

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Creamy Coconut, Lentil and Squash Curry

Creamy Coconut, Lentil and Squash Curry

Hey Lovelies ūüôā

The month of January is over and the mornings and evenings are getting a teeny bit brighter, hallelujah! It feels like it’s starting to etch into Spring now and I felt like making something bright and summery but also filling, hearty and warm as it is still Winter of course.

Butternut squash is under rated in my opinion and always gets wasted in soups. This recipe, cooking it slowly releases the flavours of the squash and it becomes soft and sweet, combined with the coconut milk and gentle spices it’s a real warming winner.

This Creamy Coconut, Lentil and Squash Curry recipe was inspired by Deliciously Ella’s simple style; throwing it all into a pan and waiting. This is perfect for lazy days as it means less chopping, stirring and standing over the pan. It’s also garlic and onion free for anyone with intolerances.

Enjoy and Devour.

Makes 3 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 1 Can of Lentils Vert (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 Can of Coconut Milk
  • 1 Can of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Large handful of Kale
  • Handful of Fresh Coriander
  • 1/2 Tbsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 Lemon

METHOD:

  1. Peel and chop butternut squash into cubes, set aside.
  2. Add coconut milk, chopped tomatoes (rinse can afterwards with a little water and add that in too), lentils, turmeric, cumin and ginger into pan and bring to boil.
  3. Once at boil, turn down to simmer and add in butternut squash and coriander, cook for 35 minutes.
  4. After 35 minutes, add in chopped kale and cook for further 10 minutes (now would be a good time to put on the rice to cook).
  5. After 10 minutes stir in the juice of half a lemon, serve and enjoy. (When ready squash should be soft, if it’s not ready continue to cook until soft).