300kcal Mexican Bean Pitta

About 2 ½ weeks into my weight-loss/fitness plan and I’m still pretty motivated. On my 500kcal days (5:2 diet) I’m having 200kcals of raw food (fruit/veg/nuts) for my breakfast/dinner. Today this consisted of – 1 carrot, 2 clementines, 100g cherry tomatoes, 100g red pepper, about 5 green olives, a few slices of pickled jalapenos, 2 spring onions and 8 almonds. This is actually quite a tasty and fulfilling lunch – I used to just eat a tin of soup for the same calories and it was nowhere near as satisfying.

Then for tea (dinner/supper….whatever you want to call it) I have 300kcals to play with.

*See my previous post for one option: Moroccan-style Vegetable and Chickpea Stew – I actually made this a 2nd time but changed the carrots & squash to cauliflower and substituted the cinnamon for curry powder and hey presto I had chana gobi for same number of kcals 🙂 *

Tonight though I tried something a little different….

Mexican inspired pitta pizza type thing

Ingredients

1 wholemeal pitta

150g re-fried beans (one of my favourite things ever)

2 or 3 spring onions

About 4 cherry tomatoes

1 heaped teaspoon of capers

2 teaspoons of jalapenos

Some fresh coriander

NB This is a rough guide! If you’re wanting to keep the calories down I wouldn’t mess too much with the amount of pitta or refried beans but an extra tomato or two isn’t going to make much of a difference. Also, if you don’t have capers or jalapenos or spring onions for that matter it shouldn’t impact too much; you could easily slice a bit of red onion or sprinkle a few chilli flakes on instead.

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  2. Slice the pitta in half so you have two thinner pitta-shaped pieces of bread – put them on a baking tray
  3. Spread over your beans
  4. Slice/chop the tomatoes, spring onions, capes, jalapenos (or whatever other toppings you may be using) and sprinkle across your beany flatbreads
  5. Cook in the oven for around 10 – 15 minutes, you just want them to be hot and a little crispy
  6. Sprinkle with coriander and enjoy!

For non-dieters you may want to add cheese/vegan cheese or sour cream

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This is another adapted recipe from 5:2 Vegetarian by Celia Brooks

GO GO GO TO GO Falafel!

I can’t remember how I came across Go Falafel recently but its existence certainly wasn’t news to me. When the branch on the ‘Curry Mile’ opened I was student and I’d see it every day through the steamed up, rainy, Magic Bus window. Although it intrigued me a little at this point – what vegetarian isn’t drawn in by falafel?! – I already had a favourite Middle Eastern takeaway joint just a few doors down (namely Falafel – this is going to get confusing). Like I say my falafel needs were already catered for and the fancy exterior and offer of fresh juices and smoothies seemed gimmicky and more suited to the student population (I, of course, was different to them – only interested in legit Arabic snacks)

That was until I decided I was going to go vegan and began doing my research…..where could I eat out easily as a vegan?

I knew plenty of places in and around Fallowfield, Withington and Didsbury (Fuel, Greens and The Hub to name a few) but now I’d moved to town I was out of my depth….oh the struggles of a young vegan in a big city!!

Anyway Go Falafel cropped up somewhere along my internet search and I was surprised to read that everything sold in there is 100% vegan. I was excited to test it out and decided to treat myself last Friday lunchtime.

The menu is pretty straightforward; the main options are falafel wraps, a falafel lunch box or a salad box. I opted for the falafel lunch box – it was lunchtime and given it was the most expensive thing on the menu (£5.50) I guessed I’d get a big portion. I also ordered a smoothie – mango, passionfruit and peach.

The lunch box consisted of a selection of delicious and imaginative salads. I can’t remember them all but there was a grated carrot salad with a lemony dressing, a pasta salad coated in a herby pesto, tabouleh, mixed roasted veg and spinach with red onion. I love when salad isn’t just lettuce, tomato and cucumber and Go Falafel really excelled here. In the centre of the salads was a pot of houmous – an essential with falafel! This was drizzled with some olive oil and paprika which was a nice touch. Then to finish off, 4 freshly fried falafel and a warmed flatbread. I hurried back to the office in the rain with my salad and smoothie and tucked in. I wasn’t disappointed and the wonderful variety with each component kept my interest until the end. The smoothie was also great; tropical and sweet as you would expect.

Go Falafel is a great place to grab a bite to eat – vegan or not – and they’re open late too (Piccadilly: 10am – 10pm and Rusholme (Curry Mile): 10am – 2am) so could provide some hangover-reducing sustenance after post-work drinks.

The only downside I can think of is that they are only takeaway – there are no tables or chairs inside and so not a great option if you want somewhere to go and have lunch with friends – then again you could buy your falafel and sit in Piccadilly Gardens (if it isn’t raining!). Overall I was very impressed and I’m looking forward to going back and trying the rest of the menu!  And like I said GO GO GO TO GO Falafel!  5/5  gofalafel.co.uk

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A couple of vegan ready meal reviews

Sorry for the delay with these reviews….another pretty heavy weekend meant I’ve only just got round to writing again.

 

Amy’s Kitchen Black Bean and Vegetable Enchiladas

One evening last week (I think it was Thursday) I came home starving and wanted something quick and easy to eat. Thankfully, and as you will know if you read my last entry, I stocked up last week on vegan goodies to stick in the fridge and freezer. I opted for the frozen enchiladas by Amy’s Kitchen. I had a bit of salad and some frozen sweetcorn to go with it and seeing as it could be microwaved I thought I’d give it a go.

Taking it out of the box it didn’t look particularly appealing and the frozen chives sprinkled on the top didn’t do much to whet my appetite. I wacked it in the microwave and after artistically arranging my salad leaves on the plate and defrosting some sweetcorn it was done.

I’m afraid it pretty much lived up to the appearance. The sauce was ok, the texture was a bit grainy but overall the mildly spiced and slightly smokey flavour was good, if a little salty. The filling was also mediocre. It was nice to have little bits of tofu in there; something I don’t think I’ve had before in a ready meal and I could also pick out some beans and sweetcorn but it was all much of a muchness. Worst of all was the pancakey outside. I don’t know if it’s just me but I expect a tortilla when buying an enchilada but this was definitely more of a pancake. Maybe it had something to do with it being gluten-free or whether it was down to it being American but it really wasn’t to my taste. The pancake seemed rubbery and had no flavour and half way through I was really struggling to eat it. Overall a bit of a disappointment but what can you expect from a frozen readymeal?! Maybe it would be better in the oven (but I’m not going to hang about for 50 minutes to find out!) I’d eat it again if I had to but definitely not one for the shopping list! 1/5

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VegiDeli Meatless Feast Pizza

This was my Sunday evening treat. After very little sleep and far too much intoxication across the weekend, comfort food was needed!! The result of cooking this little (definitely only enough for one) frozen pizza was better than expected. The base – was as predicted and indistinguishable  from a non-vegan base – it was medium thickness, nothing fancy but crispy and tasty. The tomato sauce was also good and pretty standard for a frozen pizza. The cheese definitely didn’t look great  – it remained in solid strands and wasn’t particularly appetising. However, this was my first taste of vegan cheese and actually it wasn’t too bad. There wasn’t tons of greasy melted cheese as you might expect in a non-vegan version but the flavour was definitely there – if anything the cheesey flavour was quite strong! Then the various meatless toppings were all pretty good too, probably nothing like the processed meat they are trying to replicate but then who wants that?!?!  Instead they were soft and salty and smokey and sometimes spicey. Not the best pizza I’ve ever eat but served a purpose and depending on the price I might buy another…. 3/5

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Oh and just as an aside…. I was going through my Vegan Society emails last night (I signed up to their 30 day pledge) and came across this a link to their Making the Connection film. Made up of 8 short clips the film explores the various reasons behind veganism. Although a bit like an educational film that you might watch in school I was really drawn in…. find it here https://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=932A35B5E6B8965A

Preparations for Vegan November

Again a slight diversion from the initial intended use for this blog…After introducing myself as a vegetarian only yesterday, I am now preparing to go vegan for the month of November and therefore this blog will follow suit…

I can’t really remember what made me decide to try veganism. For years now I’ve understand why people choose to be vegan and fully admired them for doing so but the thought of giving up cheese and butter just seemed too hard! More and more over the past year or so I’ve thought about it though and I must have been Googling something vegan to come across Animal Aid’s ‘Go Vegan’ website (http://www.govegan.org.uk/). I absent-mindedly signed up to the ‘Great Vegan Challenge’ and (half)committed to give up eggs and dairy for the month of November to tie in with World Vegan Month (if that’s actually a thing).

I say half-committed because I was dubious I’d be able to do it, I imagined it would be costly and complicated and I didn’t know if I had the will-power or drive to actually stick it out. Anyway, a few days later I received an unexpected package in the post….a little welcome pack with lots of info, help and recipes from Animal Aid.  By this point I had mentioned that I might be going vegan to a few people at work and was talking myself more and more into the idea. The more people recoiled in horror or told me it was a bad idea the more I wanted to do it. So here I am, tomorrow is my last day of dairy and eggs(and the rest) before I start my vegan adventure on Saturday.

I don’t want to ramble on about veganism but I think I will quickly outline some of my main motivating factors.

Animal Welfare: This might shock some of you but I’m not exactly an animal lover. I mean I don’t mind animals but I’m not one for giving £100s to the donkey sanctuary – obviously they do a good job but I prefer to put people first. However, industrial farming is disgusting and seeing the way animals are reared and kept would put Ronald McDonald off his Big Mac. But it’s not only the meat industry that contributes to awful animal welfare – countless male calves are killed because the dairy industry has no need for them and similarly male chicks are killed at just a day old because they don’t lay eggs. If I can opt out of this industry, even if it’s for my own peace of mind then I will do.

Environment: The food industry as a whole is out of control. Farming so many animals for meat, eggs and dairy puts huge pressure on the environment; from growing crops to feed the animals to the methane produced from all the cattle we rear, to transporting all of these animal products around the world. This is a hard one because in some ways I think we’re already fucked but I don’t think I’d be a very good human to just give up on the world.

Health: I don’t really know what’s going to happen with my health during this month but I do know that the majority of the saturated fat I have consumed throughout my life has been through cheese! I’m planning on not using too many cheese/milk/yoghurt alternatives and really cutting back to pulses, beans, vegetables and nuts….surely that’s got to be good for you! And if I’m really honest I’d love to lose a bit of weight during this month.

So preparations so far have included purchasing this lovely looking recipe book; ‘Keep it Vegan’ by Áine Carlin. I’ve flicked through it and some of the recipes sound delicious. I also really enjoyed reading about Áine’s conversion to veganism. She has such a positive outlook on veganism and reassured me that going from a full-blown omnivore to a vegan really wasn’t that hard. So hard can it be for me? As and when I get round to trying her recipes I will let you know….

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In addition I went shopping tonight. This weekend is busy….I’m out straight after work with friends tomorrow evening then have to get up Saturday morning and jump on a train to Reading for a Halloween party. I will no doubt be hungover and in need of immediate food Saturday morning and didn’t want to fail on 1st November so I have been and got a few easy to grab bits and pieces which should keep me going until I’m ready to start cooking lentils and what-not.

vegan provisions

vegan provisions

Overall I’m excited! I love food and I’m seeing this as a new challenge. I’m interested to find out how easy/hard I’ll find it and what meals I will come back to  (the blog won’t be very interesting if I have peanut butter on toast everyday). I don’t know how I’m going to feel when November is over but regardless of whether or not I remain vegan I hope to take something away from it.

For more info on veganism see http://www.vegansociety.com/