Saturday, 24 January 2015

DAY 7/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (GIVEAWAY)


We've finally reached the end of the 7 day vegan challenge! Congratulations to everyone who took part. Whether you followed it religiously or had an off day or two, I hope you took a little something away from it. I hope you enjoyed the recipes and tips and whatnot. I was encouraged by a lot of the feedback I received from family and friends - you guys are awesome.

To mark the end of the challenge, I'm giving away some top-notch vegan snack hampers to two lovely people whose enthusiasm and participation made putting this challenge together feel so worthwhile!

Congratulations to: @quirkyyoungmum and @anemistyle. I'll be getting in touch soon with more details :)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, 23 January 2015

DAY 6/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (DATE AND COCONUT JUMBO OAT BARS)


It's been great to hear how people are getting on with the challenge so far. Particular shout out to some of my instagram family - @anemistyle @quirkyyoungmum @growinginchrist @mfoluwa @queenmoremi - and everyone else taking part. 

Today's recipe is simple, nutritious, sugar-free and a delicious breakfast or 'on-the-go' snack option.


Ingredients
- 2.5 cups jumbo oats
- 20 dried dates (soaked then chopped) or medjool dates (chopped)
- 5 tbsp desiccated coconut
- 2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
- 6 tbsp mixed dried fruit
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds or crushed nuts
- 750ml of water

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and allow to soak and infuse for 10 minutes.

Spread the mixture evenly into a large, rectangular baking pan.

Bake for 4 mins, gas mark 5 until lightly browned on top. Take it out, leave to cool for an hour, cut the bars into smaller rectangles, flip them over in the pan and double bake in the oven for another 15 mins.

Once cooled, store in an airtight container, keep in a cool place, and consume within 2-3 days.







Thursday, 22 January 2015

DAY 5/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (DETOX)


One of the great things I discovered after going vegan is that, when done properly, eating fresh plant-based food allows the body to detoxify naturally. Eliminating toxic waste in the body is so vital to maintaining good health and reaching a point of feeling consistently energised. This is one thing I tell people all the time when they ask me what benefits I've experienced - I simply have more energy! There's this myth that surviving on plant food alone will leave you feeling weak and looking drawn, skinny and malnourished. Anyone who's met me will tell you that I am far from that description :) The key is not to under-eat; the key is to eat abundantly of the foods that are good for you.

The initial phase of detox is not always pleasant. I can still remember the first few days after I gave up meat and dairy... Oh boy, it was like my brain and body went into freak-out mode. But this initial phase didn't last long. I started to feel better, lighter, the detoxification process slowed to a steady, calm pace. The main reason why the initial phase is usually unpleasant is because the body is having to readjust and mend itself after months or years of abuse in the form of poor nutrition or the excess intake of toxic foods such as processed food, artificial ingredients, and excessive meat & dairy. The extent of this initial discomfort when you start eating clean foods depend on how toxic the system is and how much waste needs to be eliminated.

Some of these discomforts may include: bloating (especially when large quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables are consumed), headaches, body aches, diarrhoea in some instances, and nausea. Any bloating and gas experienced is also likely a sign that the fresh produce is coming into contact with the accumulation of food debris in the body which need to be flushed out. Don't forget that fruits and vegetables with a high water content digest the fastest, while meat can take up to 2-3 days to leave your system. Imagine all that fast-digesting fruit & veg crashing into that pile. (This is also the reason why it is best to consume fruits and salads before heavier meals).

This might all sound a bit frightening - aches and pains and bloating? What the...? But in actual fact, these are all good signs in the initial phase. It means that the body is doing its part and eliminating waste. The discomfort usually passes after a couple of days (as was the case for me personally), after which you are left feeling more in tune, with more mental clarity and more energy to move about your daily life without feeling sluggish or foggy-brained.

All that is required is that you trust the process of detoxification. Continue to eat the right foods and drink plenty of water. Rest well and engage in calming activities to take your mind off it.

Have you been experiencing any detox symptoms during this challenge? Don't be alarmed. It's all good. It'll pass. Your body is simply doing the smart and right thing by you ;)

*Note: when the challenge ends, it's important to continue to eat as cleanly as possible in order to avoid undoing all the work of detoxification!

Top 10 detox foods:
Apples
Avocados
Beetroot
Broccoli
Cabbage
Garlic
Ginger
Grapefruit
Leafy greens (such as kale and spinach)
Lemons

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

DAY 4/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (CABBAGE ROLLS WITH A RED PEANUT SAUCE)


We're more than halfway through the vegan challenge!! I can't believe how fast this is going... Okay. So. Brace yourself for a truly flavour-packed recipe that's healthy, filling and the epitome of comfort food. Cabbage rolls exist in various forms but this is my take on it...I simply added things as I went along and hoped for the best. Good thing it turned out so delicous, even if I do say so myself ;) 

Have you experimented at all so far during the challenge? I'd like to hear all about it if you have!

Ingredients

(serves 2-3)
- 6 large cabbage leaves
- handful chopped peanuts
For the peanut sauce:
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 or 3 small chillies (chopped)
- 2 small red onions (cut into rings)
- 1 galic clove (finely chopped)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- salt to taste
For the filling
- 1 small sweet potato (cooked, flesh only)
- 1 cup cooked beans
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Add the large cabbage leaves and blanch for about 8-10 minutes to soften the leaves a little. Take out and allow to cool. Then use a small knife to trim the thick part of the rind so that the leaf can fold easily.

Start to make the peanut sauce. Blend the chopped tomatoes with the red bell pepper and 2 chillies to form a slightly chunky sauce. Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the chopped red onions and garlic for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the blended tomato/pepper sauce and some extra chopped chilli if you want the extra spice. Turn the heat to medium. Allow to boil for 5 minutes before stirring in a tablespoon of peanut butter. Season with a bit of salt, turn the heat down and allow to simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

To make the filling, mash all the filling ingredients together in a large bowl.

To assemble the cabbage roll, place about a tablespoon of the filling into the centre of the leaf, fold one side over and roll the cabbage into a parcel and tuck in the sides on each end to secure. Repeat the process with the rest of the leaves and filling. Arrange the cabbage rolls into a rectangular baking dish, seam side facing down.


Spoon the red peanut sauce evenly over the top. Bake in a pre-heated over, gas mark 6, for 15-20 minutes until piping hot.


Serve with some chopped peanuts sprinkled over the top!










Tuesday, 20 January 2015

DAY 3/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (HABIT)


Why do we do the things we do? That's a million dollar question; a question that sounds so familiar that it's lost its impact and become rhetorical...unanswerable...unless we pause for a second and truly start to analyse the internal and external conditions that shape who we are.

Why do we eat the things we do? We're all born into specific cultural contexts and our eating habits are shaped right from birth. We eat what's given to us and perhaps only start to question it - if at all - as time goes by and we are able to make our own choices. As trivial as a topic such as 'eating habits' might sound, it's staggering when we fully realise just how much of an impact it has on our lives - from the way we feel, to the way we look, to the way the environment and global population is affected, to the way certain industries thrive or decline. As consumers, we hold more power than most food advertising companies give us credit for and every day we can make the choice to buy foods that will love us back and do more good than harm to our bodies.

All that said, here are the top 5 eating habits I think are worth cultivating:

1. Eat at least one vegan meal a day: this is for the non-veggies :) I'm under no illusion that every single person taking part in the 7 day vegan challenge will decide to drastically alter their diet at the end of it. But perhaps the challenge might inspire you to eat less animal products and incorporate a plant-based meal or two into your day. Whether this is using almond milk with your morning cereal or choosing the potato salad option at a lunch buffet or having a hearty bowl of rice and vegetables for dinner. Every little choice makes a difference.

2. Cook with less oil: I struggle with this one. Did you know that 1 tbsp of oil contains about 120 calories? This adds up over time, especially if used in the way we Nigerians love to use it in cooking ;) I've started making oil-free salad dressings and cutting oil out completely in some meals during the week. Healthy fats from foods such as avocado, nuts and seeds are great in moderation and actually vital for Omega 3 and 6 which the body needs. That 10 gallon bottle of vegetable oil that we get through in a week? Not so much!

3. Cook with less salt: I'm not saying cook up tasteless meals but it's important to find the right balance. If you've ever suffered from water retention - bloated and puffy face, stomach etc. - then chances are that your sodium intake is too high. Here's the little bit of science behind this phenomenon: the more sodium is ingested, the more the body holds on to its water stores in an attempt to counter the imbalance. Aside from water retention, high sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure and osteoporosis. So, yeah, excess salt ain't so great.

4. Drink more water: this is the perfect follow-on from the last point. If the body doesn't receive an adequate daily supply of fresh water, then it holds on to the little it's got and also causes water retention and bloating. The wonderful thing about the body is that the more water it has coming in, the more excess water it is able to flush out. It literally flushes out the system and allows trapped fluid to escape more easily. Whether we lead an active or sedentary lifestyle, our bodies thrive on water! When I realised I needed to drink more water, I bought myself a large water bottle in my favourite colour which I now carry everywhere with me. If you find drinking plain water an issue, then flavour it with fresh fruit such as lemon slices, orange slices and berries.

5. Eat more whole foods: which is another way of saying ditch the processed stuff. Prioritising our health and caring for our bodies will always mean choosing the whole, fresh apple over a box of apple tarts. I'm trying this new thing where over 90% of my groceries come from the fresh produce section. I'm striving to always have a fridge that could give the rainbow a run for its money. Stock up on the whole, fresh, authentic stuff and experiment with formulating mouthwatering dishes from them.

Day 3 of 7. Hope you're doing great and feeling motivated!

Suggested reading: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer 

Monday, 19 January 2015

DAY 2/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (ALOE VERA AND MANGO SMOOTHIE)



Day 2! If you missed day 1, it's not too late to join in! Today I'm sharing this simple smoothie recipe that works great as a snack or breakfast. Aloe vera grows abundantly in Nigeria, but if you live abroad in a colder climate then you can probably purchase the leaves from any good health food store. 

Aloe vera is a medicinal plant and is known for its soothing and hydrating effect on the skin, hair and when ingested. Here are 3 top reasons to give aloe vera a try:

  • It is high in vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3 and B6, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium and copper.
  • It helps aid digestion by soothing and cleansing the digestive tract. It also helps to decrease the amount of unfriendly bacteria in the gut.
  • It helps with detoxification. The gelatinous nature of aloe vera means that as it passes through the intestinal tract, it absorbs toxins along the way which are then eliminated through the colon.

This smoothie is sweet, refreshing and packed full of good stuff. I've added coconut water because it is super hydrating and makes the smoothie taste that much better. If you can't get your hands on coconut water easily then use plain water instead.


Ingedients
- 4 large, ripe mangoes (chopped)
- 1 aloe vera leaf (peeled)
- 1.5 cups pure coconut water

To make the smoothie, you will need to scrape out the clear gel-like substance in the aloe leaf. To do this, trim along the spiky sides of the leaf, lay it down flat and use a sharp knife to thinly and carefully slice off the green top layer. Use a spoon to scrape out the gel. Place in a blender along with the chopped mango and coconut water. Blend until smooth and drink immediately.





Sunday, 18 January 2015

DAY 1/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (MEAL PLANS)


Welcome to day 1 of 7 of the vegan challenge! How are you feeling? Excited? Nervous? Ready to try something different?

I'm sure you've heard the famous saying that goes a little like this: 'a goal without a plan is just a wish'. One of the key things I discovered shortly after adopting a vegan diet was that planning goes a long way in keeping me on track. This could take the form of making sure I source and stock all the staple food items I need at home so I'm not left fretting about what to eat or how to create a nutritionally balanced plate. Whether it's eating in or eating out at a restaurant, being prepared will always help you stay focused on making the best food choices for your health and well-being. As time goes by, of course, preparing meals and choosing places to eat at become second nature and there is more room for spontaneity.

To make it through the 7 day vegan challenge with as little hassle as possible, you might find it useful to take pen to paper and plan out your meals for the week. If you've gone ahead and bought the items on the suggested shopping list I shared in the previous post then you'll probably feel more at ease knowing what you're going to do with all those groceries in advance. Below is a suggested meal plan based on some of the recipes featured on this website (including snack and dessert options), but if you're in a brave mood then feel free to ignore it and do your own thing. Whatever works!

---

SundayPorridge with chopped bananas and dried fruits; Vegan salad; Creamy avocado pasta

Monday – Fruit smoothie; Cabbage wraps; Rice and caramelised stew

TuesdayAvocado/tomato toast; Boiled plantain and vegetable stew; Beans

WednesdayGreen smoothie; Sweet potato salad; Cabbage rolls with red peanut sauce (recipe coming soon)

Thursday – Porridge with fresh fruit topping; Spiced potato wedges and salad; Soup (pick your favourite)

FridayBreakfast bars; Couscous salad; Yam pottage

SaturdayBanana and raisin pancakes; Club sandwich; Jollof rice and steamed vegetables

---

Snack options - Unlimited fresh fruit and vegetables, popcorn, crackers, vegan biscuits

Dessert optionsChocolate mousse; Chocolate fudge cake; Coconut cupcake; Mint ice cream


Friday, 16 January 2015

7 DAY VEGAN CHALLENGE (SHOPPING LIST)



The suggested shopping list below is designed to make life easier for you as you prepare for the 7 day vegan challenge. You'll probably find that you have most of these food items at home already, and it will just be a question of supplementing what you already have. Fresh fruits and vegetables should make up the bulk of your purchase and I recommend having an abundant supply, not only to create delicious meals from, but also to have as a handy snack between meals. The quantities provided below are a rough estimate of what one person might use in a week (with some leftover for future use in some cases). If you're cooking for more than one, then obviously multiply the quantities where appropriate.

Wherever you are in the world, it might also help to take seasonality into consideration. Buy what is affordable and available to you. Simply follow the rule of thumb to stock up on majority fresh produce and then staple kitchen cupboard items such as grains and legumes.

Grains
Brown rice (500g)
Couscous (250g)
Porridge oats (500g)
Garri (250g)
Wholegrain pasta (500g)
Wholegrain bread (1 loaf)
Wholegrain flour (250g)

Legumes/nuts/seeds
Beans (any variety) (1kg)
Nuts (mixed; any variety) (250g)

Vegetables
Tomatoes (10)
Red peppers (5)
Carrots (5)
Sweet potatoes (1-2)
Yam (1)
Plantain (4)
Leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc.) (as much as you care for; the more the better)
Lettuce (2-3 packs)
Cabbage (1)
Cucumber (2)
Broccoli (1)
Onions (3-4)

Fruits
Apples (10)
Bananas (10)
Oranges/tangerines (5)
Mangoes (5)
Pineapple (1)
Lemons (2-3)
Avocados (3-4)
Dried fruit (including dates, raisins, sultanas, etc.) (500g)

Herbs and spices
Thyme
Curry
Mixed herbs
Ginger
Garlic
Scotch bonnet peppers/chillies

Extra (nice to have but not totally necessary)
Milk alternative (almond, soy, rice, oat - all great options)
Meat substitute (tofu, tempeh or seitan)
Vegan snacks (plantain chips, banana chips, popcorn, crackers etc.)
Hummus


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

7 DAY VEGAN CHALLENGE (INTRODUCTION)



Hey there,

Up for a challenge? 

With family, friends and non-vegan readers in mind, I've decided to give one of these countdown challenge things a go on the blog. Between the 18th and 24th January, why not step into the shoes of a vegan and see what all the fuss is about? This is for anyone who's always wanted to try a plant-based diet but never got round to it. This is for all the curious cats and sceptics. This is also for anyone who's up for experiencing some pretty cool health benefits: improved digestion, increased energy, better mood, and so on. To the vegan readers, you can get involved by sharing the challenge with your family and friends.

It's only 7 days. How hard could it possibly be? ;)

Why try vegan?
Health: energy, clearer skin, better digestion, increased nutrient intake from plant-based sources that are low in cholesterol and packed with antioxidants which help fight against a number of common diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

People: a plant-based diet does not require as much land as is needed to support a meat and dairy diet, which means it is a more sustainable way of feeding the global population.

Environment: by avoiding animal products, you can significantly lower your carbon footprint. One of the top sources of planetary greenhouse gases comes from raising livestock and food for livestock.

Animals: avoiding animal products is one of the ways you can take a stand against animal cruelty and exploitation.

More in-depth: Why go vegan?

What to eat:
Eat only plant-based food for 7 days. So no meat, dairy or eggs. Trawl through my recipe index for ideas or look up vegan recipes online; you'll be spoilt for choice! Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts & seeds. They are your friends. Find vegan substitutes of your staples e.g. almond milk etc.

What I'll be sharing:
- 3 brand new recipes
- daily encouragement, tips and ideas
- a giveaway! (to be eligible, simply keep me updated on your progress via blog and social media comments)

Get involved!
I would love this to be as interactive as possible so if you decide to take the challenge then let's connect! Share what you eat in a day, ask me questions or leave me comments on any of my social media platforms. Simply tag me in your posts @vegannigerian or use the hashtag #vegannigerianchallenge 


4 days to go... :)

Friday, 2 January 2015

PLANTAIN FRIED RICE

As promised, here is the recipe for plantain fried rice, one of the components that featured on my 2014 Christmas plate. It's a quick and easy idea for a side dish or a main meal and with some boiled rice already on hand, will be ready in a matter of minutes. This is a great way to turn leftover white rice into something effortlessly delicious.

You will need a large wok for this recipe, or any old large frying pan.

I have no idea if plantain fried rice is officially a thing but if you've tried it before, let me know your variation of it in the comments below.
























Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 2 cups cooked rice (brown, white, long-grain, basmati...whatever you fancy)
- 1 plantain (diced)
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2-3 spring onions (chopped)
- light soy sauce
- dash of sesame oil (optional)

Heat the sunflower oil in a large wok or frying pan. Add the diced plantain and fry for a couple of minutes until the pieces are brown on the outside. Add half of the spring onions, stirring constantly to keep them from burning.

Add the cooked rice and turn the heat down to medium. Stir gently to evenly distribute the plantain through the rice and to avoid crushing the plantain pieces unnecessarily.

Add a generous few splashes of light soy sauce and continue mixing for a couple of minutes until the rice is piping hot. Taste as you go along until you have the right amount of saltiness from the soy sauce. For some extra flavour, you can add a dash of sesame oil.

Garnish with the rest of the chopped spring onions. Serve hot...or warm...or cold...tastes good any which way :)

Thursday, 1 January 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Who's excited for the new year? I definitely am! Goals, dreams, ideas, action plans all at the ready!
I am currently in the middle of putting my blog calendar together for the first couple of months of 2015 and I can't wait to get started on some of the concepts and recipes I have!

Here's to a healthy, happy new year. What are your resolutions for 2015?
God bless x


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