Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Mama's Weekly Plant Based Meal Plan (29 April 2013)

I'm having a little difficulty accepting that it is now May. A little more sun might help...please? I'm still not feeling very well - this cold is a right humdinger - and have absolutely no sense of taste or smell, which is making my cooking erratic to say the least! Poor husband has grimaced his way through some rather odd meals this week.

I went to my mum's on Saturday to meet up with some old friends of theirs and had a lovely day. But I did feel tired and driving home was a bit much so I stopped for a break and to get something to eat. Because I was tired I didn't do what I should have done which was get some fruit, instead I headed to the cake section and bought some dairy free chocolate slices. They are nice enough and used to be a treat, but I have been gradually knocking sugar out of my diet in the last 8 months and it's been a while since I had these cakes.

Blimey. I had forgotten:

a. how sweet these things are once you stop eating sugar regularly
b. how sick they make you feel after only a couple of small pieces
c. how quick the energy rush from refined sugar fades
d. just how much eating sugar makes you want to eat more sugar.

A year ago I never would have noticed any of this, but since having nothing more than moderate amounts of maple syrup in baking and the tiny bit of sugar that goes into a loaf of bread, for so long your tastebuds really do change.

In giving up sugar I am extending this to my son. I have had quite a bit of criticism for this - always politely put of course - which does annoy me sometimes but mostly I shrug it off. I believe sugar is damaging to our health and I don't want my son to develop a  palate that requires large amounts of sugar. It's pretty simple really: my son, my choice. No need for anyone to get defensive and instantly start justifying their own choices, let alone tell me I am being mean to my son by not giving him sugar filled treats.

There's a nice little rant for a Wednesday morning! If you're still with me, here is my first extended meal plan showing what my little (poor deprived :) plant eating boy gets to eat. There are five lunches and dinners to leave space for repetition and leftovers.

Boy's Lunches:
  • Lentil & Vegetable Soup with toast
  • Mexican Bean Pasta Soup with toast
  • Baked beans, toast & avocado
  • Dhal, roasted butternut squash & flat bread
  • Hummus, avocado, & lettuce sandwiches with tomato wedges
Boy's Dinners:
  • Creamy greens pasta
  • Hummus, avocado, broccoli, carrot, potato or rice
  • Roast dinner (roasted veg, broccoli, carrots, bean stew, potato)
  • Vegetable & lentil gratin with brown rice,shredded greens & tomato
  • Lentil & vegetable soup & breadsticks

Snacks & puddings

  • Yoghurt
  • Fresh fruit (apple, orange, grapes, bananas)
  • Toast & yeast extract / nut butter / hummus
  • Hummus & breadsticks or vegetable fingers
  • Chocolate quinoa muffins & almond quinoa muffins
  • Flapjack
  • Avocado
Our lunches:
  • Lentil & Vegetable Soup with bread or sandwiches
  • Mexican Bean Pasta Soup with bread
  • Dhal, greens, rice & flat bread
  • Hummus, avocado, & lettuce sandwiches with tomato wedges
  • Hash with mushrooms, peppers & beans
Our dinners:
  • Roast dinner with nut cutlets, yorkshire puds & lots of veg
  • Oriental mushroom cottage pie mix with added greens & rice
  • Vegetable & lentil gratin with brown rice and salad
  • Curry (not decided what type yet), rice and dhal
  • Bean chilli , rice and salad

For a looksy at what other people are eating this week, head over to At Home with Mrs B or if you are Stateside, go to I'm an Organizing Junkie

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Mama's Weekly Plant Based Meal Plan (22 April 2013)

I know, I know, it's Wednesday not Monday but a combination of general family sickness and bleurgh, and being impossibly busy on a community project means I am somewhat behind this week. My little man is at least nicely on the mend, leaving two cold-ridden sorry parents in his wake. Feels a little like stumbling haphazardly from one task to the next and never quite completing any of them, but at least I can still meal plan!

What I should be doing right now is writing up a project plan for a funding bid for our soon-to-be born village play area but the brain is feeling tired and uninspired. Another cup of tea and I'm hoping things should feel more lively up top. It's a fantastic project but has been having teething problems the last two weeks which mean extra time and effort and a big dollop of frustration. We will get there. It's easier to keep going when you have the end point of a wonderful open space for our kids to play in, important in a village with nearly 30 kids and not even a bit of flat open space to run around on (I don't really count the road...). Yes we are surrounded by forestry, but that's not actually a great environment for young kids, though great for walking sheep focused dogs in!

So, to food. I decided today that hopefully as of next week, I will start posting meal plans for my boy. He does share many of our meals but not all, and has lots of extras we don't. I thought it might be useful for people who are interested in feeding their kids less meat and dairy, or non at all, either for ethical or health reasons, to see what a plant based toddler diet actually looks like.

Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Roast Dinner with nut cutlets, Yorkies and veg

Lunch: Vegetable & lentil soup and bread
Dinner: Vegetable Biryani and Dhal

Lunch: Vegetable curry, rice & dhal
Dinner: Mexican-ified Quinoa Bolognese with homemade tortillas

Lunch: Oriental Mushroom Cottage Pie with sweet potato topping, greens or beans
Dinner: Soup and Sandwiches

Lunch: Fried bolognese rice
Dinner: Leftovers

Lunch: Cottage Pie for Husband, I'll be at my mum's
Dinner: Mushroom & green vegetable bake, with brown rice and greens

Lunch: Soup and sandwiches
Dinner: Curried root vegetable pie, beans and potatoes

I won't get round to any baking this week, but we have chocolate muffins and almond muffins in the freezer so we'll survive! I really want to find a good recipe for sugar free biscuits but might leave that for another week when there is less going on. Otherwise we have our daily smoothie and I am going to make a rhubarb crumble as I have a sneaky idea for a sugar free version which I really want to try!

For a looksy at what other people are eating this week, head over to At Home with Mrs B or if you are Stateside, go to I'm an Organizing Junkie

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Mama's Weekly Plant Based Meal Plan (15 April 2013)

My poor wee man is teething ferociously at the moment and also has balanitis so he's not feeling too chipper. Needless to say the nights aren't brilliant either so I'm an interesting mix of bleariness and nervous energy. So far I've put it to good use with a good push at laundry (perfect drying conditions today with beautiful sunshine) and some mega dusting and tidying in the play room. I am averting my gaze from the state of my desk - I'd need mechanical diggers to get through to the desk surface - and just concentrating on what I can do in small chunks of time.

I have also prescribed myself a nice big slice of slightly stale banana fruit loaf which is perfect with a good covering of (non-dairy) butter!

This week's meal plan is easier on the cooking than it looks and what cooking there is will stock my freezer, which is sadly bare. Just so long as little man lets me get in the kitchen occasionally for more than two minutes at a time, we'll not starve!

Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Roast with nut cutlets, Yorkshire puds and lots of veg

Lunch: Mexican Bean & Tomato pasta soup
Dinner: Bulgar Wheat & Quinoa Risotto (leftovers) with veg

Lunch: Curry with dhal and flat breads
Dinner: Some kind of pie. With veg.

Lunch: Vegetable soup with sandwiches
Dinner: Curry, rice and veg

Lunch: Soup and bread
Dinner: Homemade tortillas with mexican beans and greens

Lunch: Homemade pizza and salad
Dinner: Leftovers

Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Quinoa Spaghetti Bolognese

Breakfast extras and snacks
Polenta breakfast slice
Banana Loaf

For a looksy at what other people are eating this week, head over to At Home with Mrs B or if you are Stateside, go to I'm an Organizing Junkie

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Quinoa bolognese - plant based so dairy free, vegan and packed with tasty goodness

Since we adopted our plant based diet just over a year ago, I have tried many different ways of making a vegetable bolognese. Some of them were nice, some were really not, but none came close to the texture and depth of flavour of traditional beef mince bolognese and so a few weeks back I decided to give it a break.

Normally I wouldn't be seeking to replicate in vegetable form such a meat dependent dish, but spaghetti bolognese is a lovely dish and a great one to have in the freezer for easy dinners. Plus, in vegetable form it would be a great one for little eaters who always seem to love spaghetti!

So I was very happy this week to have been given the leap I needed, via the wonderful Savvy Sister website. Cruising through her recipes I noticed one for Vegan Sloppy Joes with quinoa. For those not in the know, Sloppy Joes are essentially beef mince, tomatoes and onions served in a bun. A great idea to use quinoa and I was able to come up with a lovely saucy bolognese, packed full of vegetables and with that lovely traditional texture.

To say I was happy with this recipe would be understating it. So, thank you Savvy Sister, I am now sorted for bolognese and even my quinoa hating husband was very impressed!

Quinoa Bolognese
this amount serves 3 adults, or 2 adults and 2 toddlers

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced fine
  • 3 sticks celery, diced
  • oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 175g mushrooms, diced
  • 4 small tomatoes, diced
  • 3oz tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup passata
  • 250ml stock
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 tbsps choped parsley
  • water from the pasta
1. Cook the quinoa. Cover the quinoa well with water and heat to boiling. Reduce, cover and simmer for about 10-12 minutes until cooked (when the quinoa is translucent and the white sections are starting to separate). Drain and set aside to dry.

2. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan or stock pot and sweat the onions, carrots and celery until soft and the onions are translucent. Stir regularly, but put a lid on for a few minutes to help the carrots steam a little. About 10 minutes.

3. Add the garlic, green pepper and fresh rosemary. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

4. If you are having pasta, put it on to cook now.

5. Add the mushrooms to the bolognese and stir until they are starting to soften. Add the tomatoes, oregano and basil and cook for another 5 minutes.

6. Add the tomato puree, passata and stock. Season to taste with pepper and sea salt (if you use it, I tend to use Seaweed condiment instead). Mix thoroughly and let cook at a simmer for about 5 minutes. 

7. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it but retain the water. Add the quinoa to the bolognese and mix to thoroughly coat it. Add as much pasta water as required to get the level of sauciness you want. When you have it right, make sure it's hot enough and serve with your pasta!

This is a very adaptable dish so you can play around with different herb combinations and put some heat in if you fancy. Just don't cook the quinoa until it's mush... Next time I will get some greens in, and then it will be even better.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Mama's Plant based Weekly Meal Plan (8 April 2013)

This week I have done a more detailed meal plan as things have felt a little disorderly in the kitchen of late. In response I have finally worked up a proper pantry list which will help with large dry goods shops and I might even branch into fortnightly meal planning, but no promises!

I have felt pretty perky this week and am loving my new domestic focus. It feels very satisfying to work steadily through the house sorting, decluttering, tidying and cleaning. And that, people, is a sentence I NEVER thought I would say! Some kind of magic is at work and we are all very much liking the results of a good looking home that doesn't have you constantly staring at things that yell "clean me!". Yes, of course, a lot of people can do this kind of thing without even thinking about it but that is not me so it is both novel and a relief to find myself getting organised.

To add to my perkiness, I had a lovely Easter weekend with family and am being taken out to dinner tonight by my lovely husband!

So, onto food. As ever, the menu is plant based (vegan friendly).

Lunch: Soup and bread
Dinner: Out! Yay!

Lunch: dhal, cabbage & carrots and flat breads
Dinner: Quinoa Spaghetti (based on this recipe)

Lunch: Soup and bread
Dinner: Roast dinner

Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Homemade tortillas with mexican beans and greens

Lunch: Soup and bread
Dinner: Curry, rice and veg

Lunch: homemade pizza
Dinner: Leftovers

Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Pie, mixed veg mash and...more veg!

Breakfast extras and snacks
Polenta breakfast slice
Banana Loaf

For a looksy at what other people are eating this week, head over to At Home with Mrs B or if you are Stateside, go to I'm an Organizing Junkie

Monday, 25 March 2013

Monday Meal Planning (25 March 2013)

I'm sorry not to have been here for a while. Life has been a little challenging of late and I had to pause on a few things, including the blog, to take stock and sort out where I went from here.

Basically, the last three years have been a real rollercoaster for me and my husband. Cancer, business-threatening recession (which would mean home-threatening too since we live above the pub), the highs of a first baby coupled with almost losing him soon after his birth, and a small house fire are just some (albeit the biggies!) of what we have been through. Having to be a cook while pregnant and suffering from Hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme sickness) wasn't something I'd recommend either!

For most of that time I handled things well, or did a good job of putting off handling them, but recently I have realised that I actually have a lot of issues to work through. Consequently I have been feeling very blue and having had a few panic attacks I know I need to get some help. I've been somewhere like this before, although for different reasons and to a different degree. I had treatment for depression a few years back and what I learnt in the talking therapy (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) has served me very well in the last few years. Sometimes, though, the most important thing is to know when to ask someone to help.

So I have been to the doctors and asked for a referral to a therapist. I just need to talk to someone and work out exactly which of my lovely recent life experiences it is that is causing me difficulties so I can sort it out. I'm actually really looking forward to it as I had such a positive time with talking therapy last time round. I wish more people had access to the techniques in their everyday lives!

While I wait for the referral I am concentrating on the basics: healthy eating, enough sleep, fresh air and exercise, avoid the things that cause me most stress (as much as possible), and tackle those I can't avoid as best I can. So, sorting out the mess our house is in is my current project. I have my sister coaching me and a wonderful website called FlyLady to keep me going. But that's a post for another day.

Since this is supposed to be my Meal Planning post I'd better get on and talk about food! I am leaving two days free for eating leftovers or a 'throw together something from the cupboard' day. As ever the food is meat and dairy free.


Roast dinner with nut cutlets, broccoli, roast veg and potatoes, and Yorkshire Puds

Vegetable & bean sausages in a tomatoey vegetable stew

Mushroom and quinoa pie, sweet and white potato mash, greens and carrots

Oriental Lentil-herder's pie

Curry of some kind


Slow-cooked vegetable soup with homecooked bread


Dhal, greens and flatbreads

Bean hotpot with homemade tortillas (I had NO idea they were so easy!)

Baking & extras
Almond Quinoa Muffins (yum!)

Banana, fruit and chocolate chip Bread (double yum! recipes on their way...) 

For a looksy at what other people are eating this week, head over to At Home with Mrs B or if you are Stateside, go to I'm an Organizing Junkie

Oat, almond & fruit breakfast smoothie - dairy free and delicious!

My little boy loves his smoothies. The whole process from chucking in the ingredients, eating the results and then playing (extensively...) with his great love, the blender, is all done with great enjoyment.

Here is our current favourite smoothie for breakfast. It tastes great and is very healthy. It's plant based so dairy free and vegan friendly. It's full of essential goodness like calcium, omega oils, vitamins C, B12 and D2, plus much more!

If you don't eat nuts, just omit the almonds and put in an extra tablespoon of oats.

This amount gives you a thick smoothie for 2 adults and a toddler. For a thinner smoothie, just add more milk.

Oat, almond & fruit breakfast smoothie

1/2 banana
1/2 medium-large orange
2 handfuls (about 1/2 cup) of mixed berries (I use frozen)
3-4 tbsps oats
2 tbsps ground almonds
1 tbsp omega oil (or flaxseed oil if that's what you've got)
2 tsps maple syrup
several shakes of lemon juice
2 tbsps chopped parsley
2 cups dairy free milk (use one fortified with calcium and vitamins)

Bung it all in and blend until smooth. Best eaten the same day (never lasts long in our house). Enjoy!