We all know that vitamins and minerals are the key to being fit, healthy and beautiful (yep, there’s a bunch of other factors, nope, I’m not going into them). What better way to get vitamins and minerals than to blend them into an easy-to-drink smoothie? I’ve been collecting photos of my smoothies for this article for about 6 months (I never knew it was so hard to get a remotely interesting picture of a smoothie). I’ve been drinking one smoothie a day (apart from during pregnancy) since I bought my Kenwood 2Go Smoothie Maker about half a year ago (it’s AMAZING and the plastic cup goes in the dishwasher. Even when I left it a few days it was really easy to clean). This is literally the best £12.99 I ever spent on a gadget! Most days I just have blueberry and banana (see recipe 4, use water instead of coconut milk) or strawberry and banana (see recipe 1, omit lime), but in addition to those, here’s my favourite recipes that are a little bit more exciting for days when I’ve got lots of fruit in the house:
Strawberry, banana and lime: Ingredients: 1 banana, about 100g of strawberries (or by volume, slightly more strawberry than banana) and 1tsp of lime. I fill my pod blender with the fruit and lime juice, then take it to the tap and pour water in up to the top of the highest piece of fruit. It’s not an exact science and the consistency varies. Blend for about 40 seconds.
Banana, blueberry and cantaloupe:
Ingredients: 1 banana, about 80g of blueberries (their flavor is stronger than the strawberries). I put the fruit in, then I top up with water to the top of the highest piece of fruit. Usually this comes out like a light smoothie. Blend for about 60 seconds as the blueberries need lots of blending so you’re not just drinking huge pieces of blueberry skin. Drink it fast or it separates!
Blueberry, banana and coconut milk:
Ingredients: 1 banana, about 80-90g of blueberries, pour coconut milk into the container to the top of the highest piece of fruit. For a thinner smoothie, use 50% water and 50% coconut milk instead. Blend about 60 seconds. If you don’t use enough liquid this makes a very tasty yoghurt!!
Carrot and orange:
Ingredients: 1 carrot, chopped finely. About 200-300ml of orange juice (depending on size of carrot). You can add ginger to this to make a really perky drink, but ever since I was pregnant I’ve been unable to stand the smell, sight or taste of ginger!
Mango, papaya and orange:
Ingredients: 1 mango, chopped into cubes, 1 papaya, chopped into cubes. Add orange juice to the top of the highest piece of fruit. Blend for about 60 seconds. Optional: For a thicker smoothie with less mango/papaya flavour, add a banana.
Raspberry, cantaloupe and banana:
Ingredients: Raspberries, cantaloupe (melon) and banana. Blend for 30-40 seconds. The only thing I don’t like about this one is the ridiculous amount of raspberry seeds. But it tastes sooooo gooood!!
Banana, black grape and almond milk:
Ingredients: 1 banana, a generous handful (maybe 2 hands if you don’t have freakishly large man hands like me) of black grapes (take them off the vine thingy and if they’re not seedless, you’ll have to de-seed them too), put in blender and top up with almond milk (coconut milk also does a nice job). 60 seconds usually does it but expect to chew some grape skins anyway.
If you want or need added protein and minerals from any of these smoothies, why not make it crunchy and drop a table spoon of chia seeds or poppy seeds into your smoothie (poppy seeds are MUCH cheaper to buy, and they have similar nutritional content to chia seeds). Other nuts blend but the result is a crunchy yoghurt-type foodstuff. A yoothie??
What are your favourite smoothie recipes? Let me know in the comments!
It’s Science Friday (okay, it’s actually Saturday now, but I had this uploaded at 23:10 last night after trying to get it to go live all day) and today’s video explains how protein filler, one of the latest “miracle products” works, and whether claims that it “repairs” the hair are exaggerated. Be prepared to see a *real* diagram (not those shitty hair advert ones) of what hair looks like, as well as a visual of the molecular formula of keratin, the molecule hair is made of… exciting!!
The first time I had dal (or dhal, never sure how to spell it) I hated it! I was at a fancy restaurant where they served up mushy, flavourless stuff that was like yellow mash potato!
The second time I had it, I was at a Nepalese restaurant (the Yak and Yeti Gurkha Restaurant, York, loads of vegan options and very good value for money) and it was wonderful.
I went home and did a few experiments before landing on my own lentil dhal recipe, something delicate but tasty:
1. Yellow mung dhal (moong daal) lentils. I buy the ones that don’t need to be soaked.
2. Fresh (chopped) or dried coriander (aka cilantro) (2 tsp)
3. Bhuna or balti paste (a tablespoon is ample), or if you can’t find the paste, use a quarter of a jar of the sauce instead. Patak’s do a nice one.
Get a fine meshed sieve and wash your mung dhal lentils until they are clumping together – this removes some of the starch.
Pop them into a saucepan and cover with boiling water. Add a teaspoon of coriander (cilantro). Simmer for about 30-50 minutes, depending on how mushy you want it.
When it has softened enough, drain and add the bhuna paste or sauce (or balti), and stir it into the dhal, stirring in the rest of the coriander (cilantro). Leave on a very low heat for at least 10 minutes so the flavour penetrates the lentils. Stir regularly so it doesn’t burn the bottom of the pan.
Serve in a bowl, either on its own or with rice.
Nutrition: Gluten free, dairy free, 80g of moong dal lentils are one of your five a day (and a separate one to regular lentils because they come from different species of plant), 30g of protein per 100g of uncooked moong dal lentils and 45g of carbohydrate per 100g of uncooked moong dal lentils.
Just in time to make the Friday blog update, I got this video finished! I’m answering questions I’ve been asked about my hair including how I got it silver, how I get white hair, how I look after it, why my hair hasn’t all snapped off, whether I use silver shampoo and more. Check it out if you’re vaguely curious:
Dairy Free Vegan Lasagna (In England, we spell it lasagne, but I’ve used the American spelling as I know most of my readers are American/Canadian):
This post contains an affiliate link. This recipe takes some time (I take just over an hour) so do it on a weekend day!
What better way to celebrate rabbit awareness week than to start it off with a meat free, animal free lasagna?
You will need:
A box of lasagna/lasagne sheets,
A block of dairy free hard cheese that can be grated/melted,
The “béchamel” sauce (method here):
Flour (or gluten free)
Soya milk (or alternative of your choice)
Grated vegan cheese (optional depending on whether you prefer traditional or cheese béchamel sauce)
Alternative béchamel (if you are in a hurry):
Some cream cheese,
A tablespoon or two of soya milk,
The “innards” of the lasagna:
1.5 cups Vegan mince or TVP,
1 Onion (or 1 cup frozen onions),
1/2 carton Tomato passata,
1/2 tsp of vegemite or yeast extract,
Herbs: a sprinkling of basil (OBT),
You will also need a square glass dish. You may need to change your measurements to fit your glass dish, mine is medium sized and serves 4-5. If you don’t have one, this lasagna dish set looks perfect.
Make the innards first:
1. Soak the TVP in some boiling water and mix in the Vegemite to add flavour.
2. Fry the onions and add the (drained if necessary) TVP, herbs, and the passata, mix well and set aside.
Then start to work with the lasagna sheets:
1. Follow the pre-soaking guidelines for the lasagna sheets. I usually pre-boil mine before using them so they’re not too hard.
2. Line the bottom of the glass dish with a layer of lasagna sheets, tearing and overlapping where necessary.
Then pour the innards over the first layer of lasagna sheets to totally cover it.
Next, put more lasagna sheets over the top of the innards.
Make the béchamel sauce next: Here is the recipe you will use for the traditional béchamel sauce. If you’ve got all the ingredients, this one is the best one to make because it’s by far the most realistic. It’s your choice whether to include the grated cheese.
Alternative béchamel sauce using vegan cream cheese:
Put 1/3 of a tub of cream cheese in a pan, and heat it to soften. Mix in the soya milk and stir well. Add about 1 teaspoon of cornflour (sieve with a fine-mesh sieve to ensure no lumps, or just bung it in and live with the lumps) and mix well with a fork. Add more cornflour to thicken if needed.
Once the mixture is thick enough, pour over the top layer of lasagna sheets to completely cover them. You may need more sauce than this, depending on your dish size.
Grate the hard cheese over the top of the béchamel sauce to completely cover it with a decent layer of cheese.
Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes on 180 degrees C or Gas Mark 6.
Remove from oven and cut into square slices to serve. I use a wide flat spatula to get it out of the lasagna dish and a spoon in the other hand to stop the filling falling out.
If it’s just to serve one, let the rest cool and cover then put in the fridge. When you wish to reheat, remove the amount you want to eat, and either oven it or microwave, depending on what you prefer.
Approximately 1 of your 5 a day per serving and about 1/3 of your daily protein. For more of your 5 a day (so more vitamins), add some salad on the side or serve with a baked sweet potato and some boiled carrots.
Tips for success:
1. Get used to making the béchamel before you attempt the whole lasagna.
2. To save time you could pre-cook the béchamel for a different recipe the day before and set some aside for today’s lasagna.
3. Stir the vegemite fully into the TVP so you don’t get any lumps of yeast extract in your finished lasagna.
4. You can apparently just put the lasagne sheets in dry but I’ve always pre-soaked them and find this to make them cook better in the oven, as vegan cheese sauce tends to be a little too dry to soften the sheets in the oven.
With the exception of the actual pasta itself, none of my pasta recipes contain gluten, so if you’re gluten free, replace your pasta with gluten free pasta and follow the rest of the recipe as normal. Most shops stock gluten free lasagne or lasagna sheets.
So in the first of my new posting schedule, today’s recipe is Pasta Italiano. It’s a dish inspired by my visits to Italy. It’s a fairly simple one, but perhaps it’s a good place to start:
(OBT) means Optional But Tasty.
You can substitute the pasta for broccoli or cauliflower in this, if you need to eat more veg, or if you’re totally off processed foods. With the exception of the actual pasta itself, none of my pasta recipes contain gluten, so if you’re gluten free, replace your pasta with gluten free pasta (or broccoli) and follow the rest of the recipe as normal.
1 cup per person (dependent on density of pasta): Your favourite pasta, gluten-free or otherwise,
Half a tin (or about 10-12) olives per person,
1/2 cup of whole almonds,
1 carton of tomato passata,
1 tbsp of your cooking oil of choice (I prefer coconut oil),
(OBT): A generous sprinkling of the following herbs: garlic, basil, oregano.
This meal is 2-3 of your 5 a day (depending on portion size), and serves 2.
Cook the pasta and drain. Put it aside.
Chop the onion in half, then chop it into thin strips, then cut each thin strip into 3 to make little rectangles.
Using the same pan or a fresh one, heat the oil and add the onion.
When the onion is sizzling along nicely, add the almonds, then once the onion starts to go transparent, add the tomato passata and the olives. I like to chop my olives in half but some people prefer to eat them whole. Stir in the herbs and simmer for about 3-5 minutes on a low heat.
Put the pasta in a bowl and pour the sauce over the top.
Having had a merry old Veganuary and nearly being at the end of Vegruary, I have been giving some thought to the things I eat and the quantities in which I eat them.
I renewed my pledge to eat vegan at the beginning of this year after doing some very in-depth research into food sources for all the different nutrients and making sure that I knew a) How much of each nutrient I needed and b) Where I could reasonably be expected to get this from on a day to day basis. I do still struggle to get enough fat, but I generally get a lot of fruit sugar which converts to fat which should help me with the chronic underweight problem I have been struggling with for the last five years. Two months in it feels like its helping.
As a female, I need the following nutrients every day (some of these vary from time to time depending on my needs and activity levels, and the US and UK figures didn’t match most of the time either so I’ve generally gone with the US figures as they’ve sounded more reasonable for a lot of things, but in some places I either used the UK figures or went with what I know has been working for me – eg protein is 5g more than the UK Recommended Daily Allowance because that’s what I need):
50 grams of protein. This should proportionally come from specific amino acids which I’ve listed in the chart accompanying this article. I get mine from lots of lentils (which also count towards your five a day – yay, but are totally lacking in essential amino acid methionine – boo), nuts, seeds and tofu (which is actually more of a treat than a dietary staple these days). When I’m training for outdoor pursuits, I need more protein as protein = muscle. When I’m growing my hair I also need more protein as protein = hair. Protein in fact makes most of the things in the human body so you need loads of it to fix stuff and grow stuff. Protein is made of lots of amino acids, which are the things in protein that your body needs in different amounts, so it’s not enough to eat protein – it’s got to be the right sort.
70 grams of fat. This comes from oils such as coconut oil, sunflower oil and vegetable oil in the vegan diet. It can come from olive oil as well, although you shouldn’t fry with it as it requires a fairly low temperature before the molecules break down and release free radicals. Fat is where you get your essential fatty acids, however, so you do need some in order to get those, which are also called Omega 3 and 6, although you can supplement with linseed oil or flaxseed oil. UPDATE: Also nuts are good sources of fat (sorry for omission)!
90 grams of sugar (aka carbohydrates). This should mostly come from complex carbohydrates such as starchy foods like pasta, rice (GF), potatoes (GF), with extra healthy points if it’s wholegrain rice/pasta. I also like amaranth (GF), quinoa (GF), pearl barley and noodles.
18g of fibre (fiber, in American). This is easy peasy as a vegan you don’t really need to think about it (unless you’re a juicearian but I’ve made my thoughts on that very clear). All fruits and vegetables count towards this and you don’t need to faff around with All Bran or other nonsense because it’s in the plants. In fact, my dentist could tell I was vegan a few years back by the wear on my back teeth because of having such a high-fibre diet. I don’t worry at all about this one because I did track it for a while but almost everything I eat counts towards my fibre intake.
I also need the following vitamins:
Vitamin A: 700 micrograms (with an upper limit of 300 micrograms because vitamin A can cause cancer in long-term high doses).
Vitamin B complex: B1 (thiamine) 1.4 milligrams (upper limit 50 milligrams); B2 (riboflavin) 0.9 milligrams; B3 (niacin) 14 milligrams; B5 (pantothenic acid) 5 milligrams; B6 1.3 mg per day; B7 (Biotin) RDA/DV currently undecided by health organizations, should be sufficient in the average vegan diet, excessive supplements can cause unpleasant side effects such as acne, greasy hair, mood swings and water retention; B9 (folic acid) 1 milligram, although when I start trying for a baby I will need more and will supplement; B12 (cyanocobalamin) (no Daily Value or Recommended Daily Allowance established).
Vitamin C: 40 milligrams per day, no upper limit.
Vitamin D: This utterly depends, see my article on Vitamin D. I aim for 10 micrograms which is what the US dietary guidelines state, even though the UK ones say 5 micrograms is sufficient. Since I’ve increased my vitamin D intake, I have noticed a whole raft of problems such as fatigue and irritability have gone away and I’m more cheerful, energetic, and getting things done.
Vitamin E: 15 milligrams per day. I don’t worry too much about Vitamin E because my skin tells me when I need to eat more Vitamin E, by drying out. Then I crack out the avocados.
Vitamin K: 90 micrograms per day. I regularly exceed this though, and I make sure to never take Vitamin K and Vitamin E at the same time of day (I usually wait at least four hours between eating a meal with one and the other), because they fight each other for absorption and your body will preferentially absorb the Vitamin E, making you think you’ve got enough K when you haven’t.
And the following minerals:
Calcium: 700 milligrams per day. Soymilk is fortified and tofu often is too.
Copper: 2 milligrams per day. Should be easily available in the food I eat.
Iron: 18 milligrams per day because I’m female. Men only need 8 milligrams. Don’t ask me why. The NHS also says women un the UK only need 14.8mg but that just goes to explain this anaemia epidemic they keep pretending isn’t happening, so they can sell you iron supplements which are pressed with pig gelatin (EWWWW. Sidenote – the two supplements are ferrous fumarate and ferrous sulphate; ferrous fumarate are gelatinous and very non vegan and non halal and non kosher, ferrous sulphate are vegan, both can be bought over the counter at pharmacies without a prescription in the UK, they both provide the same amount of ABSORBABLE iron).
Magnesium: (this is a DIFFERENT mineral to manganese – look them up on the periodic table if you don’t believe me, Manganese is Mn in the transition metals and magnesium is Mg in group 2): 270 milligrams per day (UK) or 310 milligrams per day (US). I go for the US figure. This is easily acquired through vegan food.
Manganese: (this is a DIFFERENT mineral to magnesium – look them up on the periodic table if you don’t believe me, Manganese is Mn in the transition metals and magnesium is Mg in group 2). This is very easily acquired through vegan foods so be careful not to overdo it. I need 2 milligrams per day, but am safe up to 11 milligrams. I did look into this and found that, in spite of what the NHS website says (it says the upper limit is 4mg), there are apparently no adverse effects shown from excessive manganese and the tolerable upper limit was set artificially on flawed data from a narrow demographic and small sample size anyway, and also it’s impossible to get less than about 6mg from the vegan diet because it’s in nearly everything we eat.
Potassium: 3500 milligrams per day. Don’t overdo it. It’s the same potassium that they drop into water and that burns with a lilac flame (remember high school science??), and turns the water alkaline, so be careful. I will get an article written on the whole pH alkaline diet fad that has been circulating, but I need to look into a few more things before it will be ready.
Phosphorous: 550 milligrams per day (UK) or 1000mg (US).
There are other minerals but generally even most of the ones I’ve mentioned here will take care of themselves.
Here is my table of all the sources of these nutrients. I tried to get up to 10 sources, but where there are less, it’s usually because there are poorer sources but you’d have to eat a lot of them. For Vitamin D, the sources listed are all there are (unless you want to waste huge amounts of money on algae, which hasn’t been proven to have absorbable Vitamin D in it anyway). Remember D2 is abundant in the vegan diet, but D3 is not, the daily value doesn’t distinguish between the two.
Obviously this isn’t a complete essay on the entirety of vegan nutrition, and your mileage may vary based on age and gender, but this table is the culmination of my research in this area so far, and I thought it might provide a helpful starting point for people who are struggling or who are wondering why they are craving chocolate all the time (see the amount of nutrients in cocoa powder to find out). I will continue to research this area and write more articles on it. Happy Vegebruary!