“Where Did I Get My Protein?” As A Vegan…

December 3, 2017

This is a post-script to my Vegan Month blogs. Someone asked me to blog about the various protein sources I ate during Vegan Month. So – here they are!

The obvious ones

Tofu

I mostly used firm plain tofu for slicing/chopping and putting into dishes. I used Cauldron brand, but I’m sure there are others. I bought their marinaded chunks of tofu a couple of times (good for putting on salads etc) but the macros are surprisingly high.

Beans and pulses

I went with cooking my own from dried. It doesn’t take long (well, it does, but you just leave them cooking), and I think they turn out much nicer than canned. Plus, you know, less packaging to throw away. I did a weekly batch of chickpeas, red lentils, and split peas (usually with some spices and/or a stock cube in the water).  I also discovered fava beans for the first time – a real favourite! They don’t need pre-soaking. I cook them with turmeric, chilli flakes or fresh chilli, black pepper, and maybe a bit of garlic. Just let it all cook until the water has disappeared. Delicious.

Grains

Now, obviously there is some protein in almost everything. So I’m not going to list everything that “gave me protein” during Vegan Month because that would end up including broccoli etc. I’ll just mention the things I used to try and keep my protein high. Quinoa and buckwheat were two things I introduced that I don’t usually eat. I used buckwheat for savoury dishes (like you would use rice), and for sweet (like porridge). Both very easy to cook and store for a few days too.

“Alternative” pastas

I ate pastas made from green pea, chickpea flour, lentil flour, and soybean. These aren’t cheap, but they are a good way to “rethink” a meal – making the formerly carb aspect (pasta) the protein, and the formerly protein aspect (the sauce) carb. So I’d have one of these pastas with a veggie topping, maybe with some chickpeas and/or tofu in it. All of these pastas are tasty. You can get a green pea one and a red lentil one from most supermarkets (the rest I got from health food shops or online). This is one brand I found, but a couple of supermarkets have started doing their own brand (usually in the Free From bit).

Protein powder

I was sent a couple of big bags of Bulk Powders’s Vegan Complete protein which was a godsend. It’s a blend of plant-based protein powders and very tasty. I used it in place of whey in my morning porridge, and had it after training. I won’t be going back to whey protein now. I will continue to use a vegan protein blend, or a pea protein powder. Protein powder is an obvious way to get your protein up without carbs or fats. There are a lot of vegan protein powders and protein blends available these days.

Quorn

Now then! I had no idea that not all Quorn products are vegan – thank you to my friend who pointed this out, otherwise I probably would have picked up a load of products without realising. You have to look for the ones which are clearly labeled as vegan on the front. The others contain egg. I used the Quorn chunks (which are actually decent, in a pasta sauce etc).

Soy/meat free mince

Don’t use the Quorn brand version which is not vegan. I used supermarket own brand, but you do have to check that it doesn’t contain egg. I also used dry soya mince a few times but it’s not the best. You have to use it in a bolognese type affair and season the living daylights out of it.

Yoghurts

I’ve gone right off the idea of yoghurt for some reason, but there were a couple of times that I really fancied something different and sweet. So I had the little fruity Alpro yoghurts – the multipack with “banana and something” and “pear and something” is nice.

And an honourary mention for

My homemade seitan. I did tell you that I made seitan from scratch, didn’t I? Oh, good. 😉

Hope that helps with ideas for vegan protein (from a temporary vegan!)

All the Vegan Month posts can be found here >> Vegan Month experiment <<.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

Advertisements

Making Homemade Seitan for Vegan Month

November 30, 2017

Today is the final day of Vegan Month, so I decided to go out with a flourish: by making homemade seitan from scratch.

Now, please bear in mind that I have never eaten seitan. Or even seen it. It’s very difficult to make something when your brain has absolutely no idea what the thing should look like.

What is seitan?

It’s a vegan protein source often called “wheat meat”. It is made from vital wheat gluten (gluten is after all a protein – the protein in wheat, rye, barley and some other grains I can’t remember right now). Needless to say, seitan is not going to be good for coeliacs or Crohn’s sufferers.

But I have no reason to avoid gluten, so off I went to my local independent healthfood shop (holla Folkestone Whole Foods who were extremely helpful, and even high fived me!)

The recipe

I used the basic seitan recipe from Fit Pro Client Recipes (which also has various recipes for how to use your seitan once you’ve made it). But, me being me, I adapted it a bit. Oh, and totally forgot to add one ingredient (I found it under my jumper halfway through).

Here’s how the seitan happened.

Ingredients:

  • 140g wheat gluten
  • 5 “normal” spoons of nutritional yeast (meant to be 3 tbsp but I don’t own any tbsps)
  • 1.5 vegan stock cubes (recipe called for various amounts of “broth” but I just used stock cubes)
  • 2 “normal” spoons of olive oil (meant to be 1 tbsp)
  • 8 “normal” spoons of soy sauce
  • 8 “normal” spoons of lemon juice (meant to be 2 tbsp but I like lemon)
  •  2 garlic cloves (not very well chopped – I should have crushed them)
  • Various herbs and spices: paprika, black pepper, coriander.

Method:

  • Fill a pan about 6″ with water and add one of the stock cubes and 1/2 of the soy sauce. Set this boiling whilst you make the seitan. (This is the broth that the seitan will “steam” in to cook).
  • In a big bowl, mix the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and spices/herbs.
  • In another bowl, mix the 1/2 stock cube with cold water, add the other half of the soy sauce, the garlic, the olive oil, and the lemon juice.
  • Pour the liquid into the dry mix and mix it about with a wooden spoon. It will clump together.
  • Then get in there with your hands and knead it. It gets really bouncy and weird. Knead for about 3 mins.
  • Cut the dough (are we calling it dough? We are now) into 3 with a sharp knife.
  • Take each piece in your palms and knead it a bit more, then form it into whatever shape you want. I went for “patties” but I guess you could make sausage type things?
  • Lower your seitan into the boiling broth, then reduce it to a simmer. Put a lid on the pan but leave a gap for the steam to get out.
  • Simmer the seitan for 45 mins, turning it occasionally. Then turn the heat off and let it sit in the broth for 10 more mins. Then take it out and put it on kitchen towel.
  • Then… use it!

This makes it sound a LOT more complicated than it is. It’s easy. It took me about 15 mins (plus the steaming time). It’s essentially: dry mix, wet mix, combine them, knead it, steam it.

Macros

I’ll be honest, I didn’t calculate it. Sorry. But seitan is obviously high in protein (the highest protein non-animal source?), and the only added fat in this recipe is from the olive oil.

The verdict?

Wowsers! I am seriously impressed (so was the dog, as you’ll see if you have a chance to watch my Insta story in the next few hours).

It looks like meat.
It slices like meat.
It has the texture of meat.
It’s chewy like meat.

It doesn’t taste like meat, but then again there is no single “meat” taste anyway, is there?

It tastes… hearty, and chewy, and of all the flavours you add to it. I guess you could make a more spicy version, or one with Thai/BBQ/Indian (etc) flavours to suit. You’d also use your seitan like meat – in a dish – so more chance to flavour it then too.

But honestly I just ate a couple of slices once it had cooled down, just like this. OK I’d just got home from the gym so I was hungry, but hand on heart I enjoyed it.

So – thank you to the people who challenged me to make seitan during Vegan Month! I’m really glad I did, and I will make it again.

Final Vegan Month round up post to come tomorrow. It’s been fun!

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


My Vegan Month: 4 Weeks In

November 26, 2017

I’m blogging because it’s Sunday… but I don’t honestly have an update for you. I was just on the phone to my Mum and she kind of reminded me that I needed to write a Vegan Month update, and she asked me what I was going to say.

(Mum) “Are you finding it difficult?”

(Me) “No, not really. I’m enjoying all the cooking, and I like the things I eat.”

(Mum) “So you’re finding it easy?”

(Me) “Um… well, it’s just fine. Neither one thing or the other really. I’m not desperate for it to end, but I imagine I’ll be glad to eat a bit of salmon or something.”

(Mum) “Are you getting bored of the food?”

(Me) “No… well, yes maybe a bit. It’s not so much that I’m bored of what I am eating – because I genuinely enjoy lentils and all that kind of thing. But there have been a couple of times this week when I’ve just wanted… something different. Nothing specific.

(Mum) “I imagine that it would be different if you knew you’d never be eating fish/meat/eggs ever again…”

(Me) “Yes definitely. I actually think the ‘wanting something different’ feelings I’ve had this week are a bit of a throwback to bodybuilding prep. It’s not that you physically want anything specific. You just sometimes feel like you want to kick out against the ‘rules’.”

(Mum) “Anyway darling, so when you come up to watch “Hay Fever” in December, Liz might come with you. Ooh and I thought we could do some Christmas shopping that afternoon?”

(Me) “I should probably stop typing this phone call onto my blog now.”

So, to summarise that fictionalised account of a real phone call:

  • nothing to report
  • I’m still eating mostly the same kinds of foods I have been this whole time: lots of “curry type” concoctions with tofu, veg, and lentils/split peas
  • I discovered fava beans (obviously not alongside liver) – they’re really nice. I cook them like red lentils (with turmeric, garlic, red chili etc) into a kind of daal
  • In terms of training/bodybuilder life, I don’t know that this vegan diet is optimal, but I also can’t say that it’s been detrimental. I’m training really hard at the moment – 6 times a week, “legs” 3 times a week. I’m recovering fine, and someone in the gym commented that I’ve “lost weight” (I haven’t in terms of scale weight, but perhaps a slight bit of body recomp?)

So, only 4 days remain of Vegan Month! Am I planning a specific meal or snack for the 1st December? No. A salmon fillet fell out of the freezer earlier, and the thought was appealing. So maybe I’ll have that on the 1st, but then again maybe I won’t.

Let’s run through a list of non-vegan foods and see how I feel about them right now:

Milk: bleugh. o/10 I should add that I’ve been off the idea of dairy for ages, not just since Vegan Month.

Yoghurt: not fussed, would rather go without. 2/10

Cottage cheese: I used to love it, so I’m going to say 4/10 but the idea doesn’t appeal at all right now.

Cheese: depends what kind. A sharp hard cheese would be 8/10 but I’m not fussed on anything else (my family will disown me for this) I actually think the vegan cheeses are fine. They’re much more expensive than regular cheese.

Fish: I do miss fish. 10/10 for oily fish. 7/10 for anything else. 8/10 for tinned fish because it’s so convenient.

Chicken: meh. 2/10 I know it’s convenient and can be tasty but I can’t say I’m eagerly awaiting my first bite.

Red meat: yeah. 8/10. I think I will enjoy a bit of steak, and cooking beef mince dishes again.

Liver: hm, had to think hard about this one. 10/10 for the actual eating of it. But – and this surprises me – 2/10 for buying it, handling it, cooking it. I’ve never given this a second thought before.

One more thing before I sign off on this incredibly boring update. Seitan. I’m going to make it.

A friend challenged me to make it from scratch, and I said sure (assuming I wouldn’t be able to get hold of vital gluten or whatever the key ingredient is called). Well, more fool me because the local health food shop is going to order it in for me. It arrives on Wednesday (the 29th). So I shall be ending Vegan Month in a flourish of over-achievement: making seitan from scratch.

Got any good seitan recipes? Hit me up!

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


%d bloggers like this: