Tag Archives: cooking

Vegan Week : Reflections

9 Mar

So, my short-lived veganism has come to an end and, whilst I picked up some useful knowledge about home cooking and health, I have to admit I probably won’t be keeping it up full time.

Vegan Health

I certainly found that I didn’t go hungry on a vegan diet – as I had previously expected – and I didn’t feel I was lacking in protein, with many protein-enriched foods on offer such as lentils, beans and chickpeas. I had secretly hope to feel some of the health benefits; to be filled with a some kind of feeling of a higher consciousness that comes with a virtuous, cruelty-free lifestyle, smugly looking down on the little omnivorous types. Of course, this didn’t actually happen. But I do believe that veganism is a great diet – although I only lost a small amount of weight in the week, I’m sure if I’d have kept it up for a month the results would have been much more apparent. Cutting out fatty, processed dinners such as cheeseburgers, fried breakfasts or steak and chips has to make an immense impact on a person’s health and weight.

Home Cooking

As mentioned previously, one of the main things I noticed in the vegan diet was the amount I had to cook from scratch. No more could I reach for a jar of shop-brought sauce to accompany my pasta, as many of these often contain traces of egg, milk or other animal by-products. Instead it was back to basics, using a base of tinned chopped tomatoes for many of my dishes, which I could then build upon and season however I wished. There’s definitely advantages to cooking in the traditional way – from scratch – as it gives you a lot more control over your food, to season it to your personal taste.

Conclusions

Having only attempted the vegan diet for a week – and I have to confess I have already succumbed to a tasty Steak and Ale pie since – I am nowhere near an expert in the matter. But for any people starting out in veganism, I’d still like to offer advice that I found useful; so below are my top 3 tips to life as a vegan.

1.  Cook food from other cultures – in order to ensure a varied and enjoyable diet this is a really handy tip. Check out the International Vegan Union for inspiration.

2. Trial and Error – not all vegan foods will be right for you personally. I hated rice milk but really liked Soya milk – it’s best to experiment to find out what you like.

3. Eat a colourful variety – of fruit and vegetables. This is important to ensure you get all the nutrients you need; simply eating the same fruit and veg over and over again won’t cut it.

Vegan Week : Days 3 and 4

4 Mar

It’s Thursday night, and I’m now over half way through my week as a vegan. And I must say I’ve actually been surprised at how easy it has been so far. All the overbearing cravings for cheese and chocolate that I anticipated have been minimal and I definately haven’t gone hungry at all – perhaps I underestimated my will power; or perhaps being a vegan really isn’t as drastic a change as people may first think.

One thing that the week has helped me with is my cooking skills. I’ve already cooked more meals from scratch this week than I have any other week in my life! Exotic dishes, curries and vegetable-based dishes; this week I’ve cooked them all. As cooking and nutrition is something I’m interested in anyway, this has definitely been the best aspect of the experience.

Last nice for dinner I served up stuffed peppers – a meal that quick and easy to do but very tasty if you do it right, and it has the added bonus of looking pretty too! See my pictures below. 🙂

Tonight was my first attempt at cooking a curry from scratch – a red lentil curry to be exact – and it was deemed by all who tried it as a success. So successful that I have decided to share the recipe here… 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
  • 1 (14.25 ounce) can tomato puree (I used a tin of chopped tomatoes in juice which worked fine too)

Wash the lentils in cold water until the water runs clear, put the lentils in a pot with water to cover and simmer covered until lentils tender (add more water if necessary). While the lentils are cooking fry the onions in a saucepan with a little vegetable oil

While the onions are cooking, combine the curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a mixing bowl. Mix well. When the onions are cooked, add the curry mixture to the onions and cook over a high heat stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes. Next, stir in the tomato and reduce heat. Leave it to simmer until the lentils are ready, then drain the lentils and mix them into the curry mix. Serve with long grain or basmati rice.