“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.


My Vegan Month: The Round-Up

December 1, 2017

So Vegan Month has come to an end, and we need a round-up post. I would have written this yesterday but, you know, I was too busy making seitan from scratch… 😉

So. Let’s revisit my first post and answer my own questions…

Did I feel any healthier eating 100% vegan?

Hm. Yes, on balance I did. I always eat a lot of veggies anyway, cook all my own food, rarely if ever get takeaway etc. But what I noticed during Vegan Month is that I just bought less snacky sweet “excess” stuff. This was mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to read the labels on everything. I know there’s vegan chocolate, vegan icecream, etc. But I just kind of couldn’t be bothered. As a result, the amount of unplanned snacking definitely went down. I also ate a lot less in the way of sauces and dressings (because so many of them have milk/cream/egg). My diet was a lot simpler as a vegan.

Did I sleep better?

No change here. My sleep is largely dictated by the noise levels of my neighbours.

Has my body changed at all (composition and/or size?) 

Weight has stayed the same, but then again I did make an effort to eat the same calories as previously, so I wouldn’t expect a change. I do think I look a bit leaner, but this could be because of training frequency which has increased these past few weeks.

Is my training performance affected at all (better/worse)?

I’ve been training hard and feeling good. The only times I’ve felt shit in training is when I’ve been exhausted (see above re: noisy neighbours).

Did I feel hungrier?

No, not at all. In fact maybe less hungry?

How easy (or not) was it to hit my normal macros? 

My protein went down and carbs went up. It was difficult to hit higher protein (because vegan protein is all mixed in with carbs), and difficult not to eat higher carb (same reason). I was hitting around 250g carbs a day with no effort at all – just because carbs are kind of everywhere with a vegan way of eating. This is fine by me, by the way, I have no issue with carbohydrate! I felt/performed/look much the same or perhaps a bit better. Protein wasn’t low (lowest was something like 125g) but lower than pre-vegan diet.

What kind of recipes/meals did I end up cooking, and will I keep any of them in my regular diet?

Sorry, did I mention that I made seitan from scratch? I did? Oh. Well I also made lots of curry-type things with tofu and/or pulses. (Some of the recipes are here.) And I discovered fava beans, which I made into a kind of daal with turmeric and spices. I really enjoyed everything I made (I guess it would be odd if I didn’t, given that I made them?!) and will keep them in my regular diet. I will actually make seitan again!

Will I carry on with all or any of my vegan food choices after 30th November?

Definitely. No milk or yoghurt – the thought had been making me feel a bit “ick” for a long time before I did this vegan experiment. I’ll carry on using non-dairy milk. I doubt I’ll want yoghurt but if I do, there’s Alpro. I really dislike honey. I suspect I’ll go back to regular cheese. I will eat eggs and egg whites again. As for meat? I will eat it again, but I don’t have any specific plans. I didn’t get any meat out of the freezer last night ready to eat today. And I haven’t eaten any today. I am looking forward to a bit of salmon and – oddly – tinned tuna.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following this month-long eating experiment. If you have any questions for me, please ask and I’ll do some follow up posts.

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.

 


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.


Vegan athlete interview: Tsuki Harris

November 16, 2017

Vegan Athlete interview: Tsuki H

As part of Vegan Month, I bring you interviews with actual (as in permanent!) vegans in strength and physique sports.

Today: Tsuki “H” Harris, a natural bodybuilder who has competed with drug-tested federations in both Figure and Physique/Women’s bodybuilding. Tsuki has won regional shows and placed top 5 in Britain. She’s also a Personal Trainer and group fitness instructor – so her vegan diet needs to fuel plenty of activity beyond the gym. (Tsuki’s nickname is the Duracell Bunny for good reason!)

Tsuki is supported by Creative Nature Superfoods for vegan treats and staples like cacao, hemp seeds, and her favourite bars (see below).

Find Tsuki on Instagram here.

The Fit Writer: How long have you been vegan, and what prompted you to go vegan?

Tsuki:

I have been vegan for about four years, but had been a vegetarian for a long time before then (since I was about six years old). What prompted me? When I started competing in bodybuilding, I followed the advice of PTs who were more experienced than I was (in terms of competing), and this meant I was relying heavily on foods like eggs and cottage cheese and whey etc. But my gut wasn’t too happy. I already ate raw and dairy free chocolate, didn’t drink milk, was trying vegan protein powders. So I thought I’d give full veganism a go. As I was almost there, a few vegan buddies inspired me to try too. I did miss the odd Nando’s halloumi (and the efficiency of an egg for protein), but noticed positive changes in my body. It also made me rethink some of those prep foods we all tend to use – the sugar free ‘calorie free’ gums and syrups, etc.

TFW: As a vegan athlete, do you find fuelling training/recovery/muscle gain challenging on a vegan diet?

Tsuki:

Personally I find it a challenge to eat enough when I’m not in competition prep. And that has nothing to do with being vegan! My active group fitness job means I need to eat a hell of a lot to gain any size. I can get away with a lot of carbs in my diet, and my body uses that energy very efficiently for what I do. I actually feel my recovery is a lot faster than it used to be, perhaps because of the anti inflammatory properties of this diet choice.

TFW: Can you tell me some of your go-to vegan foods or meals for pre/post training?

Tsuki:

When I started out as a vegan, I was taking supplements and hunting down protein powders then I realised how expensive that was getting (and wondered does it actually work anyway?) So now I just eat food! I only really use protein shakes when I need to bump up my protein without too many excess calories. For pre workout, I normally have something carb based like a bagel and nut butter, or porridge with random stuff thrown in. Post workout I eat a snack bar until I can get out of the gym and eat. Off-season I eat a lot of these peanut protein bars from Creative Nature – they’re yummy! If I’ve got prepared food with me, it’s normally rice or potato plus some protein like lentil or chickpeas and some veggies. It’s about creating a good balance of foods.

TFW: Do you eat to macros, and if so how easy is this to do as a vegan?

Tsuki:

>I do and I don’t. When I compete, I try to stick to macros so I can monitor my weight loss (ish). It helps me be sure that I’m not missing out on anything important. But normally I just focus on calories, and on make sure I’m getting enough for my active job and my workouts. I’m normally around 55% carbs (this is pretty easy to hit as a vegan). The protein is simple too, but I do have to put a bit more thought in to balance it all out with carbs and fats.

TFW: Have you noticed any changes between competing as a vegetarian and as a vegan?

Tsuki:

I competeed for my first two years as a non vegan. I then swapped from Figure to Physique, as I got a lot leaner in the off season and competitive season. I wonder if it was partly the diet? I find dieting easier now, because I diet on more carbs and on more food in general. I’m mentally more excited about my food, as I have variety rather than the standard chicken broccoli and rice. Dieting doesn’t have to be that way!

TFW: What’s the one thing you wish meat-eating athletes knew about life as a vegan athlete?

Tsuki:

It has to be the old “but where do you get your protein from?” line! I’m sure others get this a lot too. I wish people knew that we don’t just eat leaves – but nor are we all living off processed ‘fake meat’. I’m actually allergic to soya, and wouldn’t touch processed fake stuff anyway. We eat the same food as them – rice, potatoes, veggies and sauces and spices. It’s just that instead of the meat, we have chickpeas or lentils etc. You can thrive on this diet AND maintain muscle. As long as you eat well, eat enough and train properly of course!

Thanks for speaking to me about veganism and bodybuilding, Tsuki! Follow Tsuki on Instagram here, and her sponsors Creative Nature here.

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.


Vegan Baking With Protein Pow’s Pea Cooking Mix

November 15, 2017

Banana & Cacao Nib Squares (Vegan – obvs – and Gluten Free)

I couldn’t let Vegan Month go by without attempting some baking. I used to bake “protein” things all the time: bars, cookies, muffins etc. But over the past few years of bodybuilding prep, I’ve got out of the habit (bored of it, I think!)

So my recipe-creating skills were a little rusty for inventing a vegan baking recipe!

Add to that the twin challenges of 1) no eggs allowed and 2) only the scrapings out of the bottom of the coconut oil tub remaining… and things were about to get interesting. (For “interesting”, read “probably dry and crumbly”).

However, I forged ahead with my zero eggs and probably-10g-if-that oil.

  • I knew I wanted to make a banana bread type creation
  • I knew I didn’t want it to be too sweet (just not my thing)
  • And I knew I wanted to use Protein Pow’s Pea Protein Cooking Mix as the base (because it’s awesome, and vegan, and does half the work for me!)

The Protein Pow “Pea Protein Pow Mix” is gluten free, vegan, and contains just five ingredients: pea protein powder, GF oats, coconut flour, coconut sugar, and vanilla beans. I’ve been using it during Vegan Month to make mug cakes, and as an addition to breakfast oats. But I was keen to bake with it, since that’s really its forte.

Here’s what I made: Vegan Pea Protein Banana & Cacao Nib Squares

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bananas (240g, FYI) – mashed
  • 25g ground flax mixed with water to make a “flax egg” (apparently that’s a thing)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 300g Protein Pow Pea Protein Cooking/Baking Mix
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 40g cacao nibs
  • 300ml almond milk (that much because the batter was really dry… !)
  • 10g coconut oil (the batter reeeeally needed more, but I had the end of a tub so I microwaved that and used what I could pour out) (then gave the empty tub to the dog)

Instructions:

  1. Make the flax “egg” by mixing the flax with water and leaving it aside
  2. Mash the bananas in a bowl
  3. Combine the Protein Pow mix, cinnamon, and baking powder in a big bowl
  4. Mix the cacao nibs through the dry mix
  5. Mix the flax egg into the mashed banana
  6. Add the banana/flax to the dry mix and form a batter (add the milk as you go)

I used a silicone baking tray but you could use muffin cases or whatever you want. Pour the batter into whatever you’re using and bake for about 30 mins at 180*C. Let it cool in the tray then cut into 9 squares.

It looked a bit dry but kind of firmed up as it cooled. The squares held their shape just fine once I cut it into 9 portions.

The verdict? Tasty, actually surprisingly moist and un-crumbly, not too sweet, perfect for a snack with a coffee. The fibre is pretty high (oats, coconut flour, cacao nibs…) so I probably wouldn’t have one before training, but they’d be good for after. I made nine squares out of this recipe but they are pretty big (espresso-cup saucer below for scale… what do you mean you don’t have espresso cup saucers?) – you could definitely cut them into 12 (for fewer cals per bar) or leave out the cacao nibs (?) if you wanted.

Nutrition per 1/9 recipe:
Cals 202
Pro 13.4g
Carb 24.3g
Fat 6.8g

Have you baked or cooked anything with the Protein Pow Pea Mix? Let me know – I’ve got more here and am keen to 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.


My Vegan Month: 2 Weeks In

November 12, 2017

Week 2 (well, 12 days) of my “go vegan for a month” adventure has sent me a couple of challenges: hormonal, and social. The first was difficult at the time, but very short lived. The second was absolutely fine, thanks in part to understanding and thoughtful family members. But it did also go to show that eating vegan doesn’t have to be a drama.

I wrote about the hormonal challenge here, but had some helpful advice from vegan female friends. A couple of them said that they use big field/Portabello mushrooms for a more “meaty” texture if they ever crave that kind of meal. And one said that eating a vegan diet has actually helped to settle the ups and down of hormonal food cravings. So perhaps mine were just habit?

Regardless, I felt completely fine within a couple of days, and haven’t had any cravings for red meat or eggs (the culprits!) since.

Today was my first social event as a vegan (on day 12 of the month… clearly I lead a thrilling life packed with brunch dates, lunch dates, cocktails, the pub, and going out for dinner…)

My sister got home yesterday from a few weeks away doing charity work in South Africa (BTW you can donate to the cause here). So today, we all got together for Sunday lunch. Sunday lunch = roast, right? But vegans don’t eat roast chicken. Or the roast parsnips which were done in the chicken fat. Or the stuffing balls. Or the little sausage things. Nor do they eat Yorkshire puds (do they? I wasn’t sure, so I didn’t). And they sure as shit don’t eat homemade pear and almond tart, or homemade honeycomb icecream.

However, my family very kindly cooked the roast potatoes in non-animal fat, made me a delicious ratatouille, and kept the green veg free from butter. Then they kept some of the honeycomb aside (it’s called honeycomb but it’s nothing to do with honey), and made me a poached pear in place of the pear tart.

Job done. It was delicious, I still got to eat with everyone, and… there’s really nothing more to be said about it.

Veganism doesn’t have to cause a big drama. (Thank you to my thoughtful family for making me those bits & bobs 🙂 )

What else do I have to report?

Training: still going great. I’ve actually changed my split recently, so frequency is higher. It’s been a while since I trained this frequently. But I’m recovering fine and training at a good intensity. I do have DOMS but I don’t think that’s to do with the vegan diet (?) I think it’s just from the volume, frequency, and intensity of training.

Hunger: I have felt hungry this week, but not much. And I suspect it’s because of the training. I’m always hungry anyway regardless of what I eat!

Cravings: apart from the hormonal ones, none. I’m really surprised about this. I wonder if it’s a case of fewer options = less food focus? I know I can’t have XYZ food, so I just don’t bother thinking about it. (My bodybuilder-prep “training” is probably coming in useful here).

I found Robert Cheeke’s “Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness” in my massive book collection, it’s something I was sent to review on this blog back in 2011! (Cringe at my 2011 posts!) I’ve no idea if the info is outdated, or what the author has to say about bodybuilding and veganism in 2017. But I had a read back through the nutrition sections. These lists are useful – they’re online at Robert Cheeke’s website (he’s the author of the book).

Vegans/nutritionists – is this info complete and up to date? Would you add anything? (I’m aware that 7 years is a long time in nutrition!)

OK, I think that’s my update. I did intend to bake today but ran out of time. I’ll do it in the week and let you know how it turned out. I’ll be using Protein Pow’s pea protein baking/cooking mix. I want to make some kind of banana bread, or protein bars. I will make it up as I go along, and see how it turns out. My approach to much of life, tbf.

Bye!

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.


Vegan Food Prep (with help from Fitproclientrecipes)

November 11, 2017

One of the things I was looking forward to most about “going vegan for a month” was cooking 🙂 I enjoy cooking all the time, but I get stuck in a rut with my regular foods, and it’s been ages since I’ve tried anything new. This vegan experiment has forced me to get creative and rethink how I construct meals.

(Side note: I was Googling “Tempeh” earlier – as you do – and realised how difficult it is to find tempeh in supermarkets. Then I discovered that our local farmers’ market/food co-operative sells it! Locally made and fresh. I’ve ordered some and will collect it on Tuesday. Hit me up with your best tempeh ideas?!)

Back to my food prep…

My friends at FitPro Client Recipes (the online recipe database for PTs) gave me a free log in for the month. This amazing resource has around 2000 recipes at the time of writing, and almost 20% of them are vegan.

Look how easy it is to select food by diet type, food type, meal type or anything else a PT client might want to know! I narrowed it down to Vegan recipes and main meals.

For tonight’s food prep, I decided on a Split Pea and Cauliflower Curry (mainly because I had all the ingredients).

I altered it a bit, so I’ll give you my recipe rather than the FCPR one (I never was any good at following recipes to the letter!) Thanks FitPro Client Recipes for a ton of ideas.

This made 4 Nicola-sized servings.

Split Pea, Tofu, & Cauli Curry

Ingredients:

  • 20g oil
  • 400g tofu (I used the Cauldron brand) – pressed and chopped
  • 140g (dry weight) split peas (I used 1/2 green, 1/2 yellow mainly because I didn’t know if they taste the same)
  • Vegan stock
  • 400g cauliflower (chopped)
  • 200g tomatoes (chopped)
  • 100g red bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1/2 green chilli (chopped)
  • Bit of lemon rind (sliced really thin) plus lemon juice
  • Bit of fresh ginger (chopped)
  • Coriander powder, black pepper, turmeric
  • Fresh coriander (chop the stalks, keep the leaves aside for later)

How to make it:

  • Cook the split peas in the stock (they will take about 40 mins)
  • Heat the oil in a heavy pan (one that has a lid)
  • Cook the garlic, coriander powder, black pepper, lemon rind, coriander stalks, and ginger for a minute or so
  • Add in the tofu and let it cook through (stir it a bit)
  • Add the tomatoes and red pepper and cook for a bit (put the lid on)
  • Add the cauliflower, stir it, put the lid on (cook for about 5 mins)
  • Put the split peas in (if there’s any stock liquid left, don’t drain it off just add it in too) and some lemon juice.
  • Stir, cover the pan, leave it for 5-10 mins.
  • Add the fresh coriander leaves, turn it off and ideally leave it to cool (it tastes even nicer once it’s been left for a bit).

Per (huge) serving
Cals 289
Pro 22
Carb 20
Fat 13

I made this earlier today and got home famished from a “road trip” gym visit. I was SO GLAD I’d made this! The house smelled great, and the food tasted amazing. It’s spicy and rich with a ton of flavour, but not too hot (green chilli instead of red).

Tomorrow I’m going to attempt to do some vegan baking. I’ve honestly no idea if it will work (without eggs) but if it does, I’ll post the recipe.

Let me know if you have a favourite vegan recipe so I can expand my repertoire!

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: One Problem With It Being “A Month”

November 10, 2017

Just a quick mid-week update today, because I hit a bump in the road on my Vegan Month adventure. I could have predicted it: after all, doing “a vegan month” will inevitably mean contending with a month’s worth of hormonal peaks and troughs.

Yesterday (and today) have been a trough.

I did wonder (in my intro post) whether the time around my period would lead to any cravings for meat/iron rich foods/fattier foods. It’s common knowledge that most women gravitate towards certain foods just before or during their periods. For me, it’s never been chocolate (sorry to shatter the cliche). But I definitely crave red meat, oily fish, and richer/fattier foods in general.

I’m no nutritionist, and this is totally a n=1, but I guess my body is asking for more iron (?), more calories (?) (fats being the most calorie-dense macronutrient), or… something. I dunno. But I physically crave red meat and even organ meat (sorry, vegans!) at this time in my cycle. It’s not just a vague “ooh I quite fancy that”. It’s a sudden physical need.

Anyway, all of that is to give context of how I usually feel, and to say that I went into this Vegan Month wondering if I’d get my usual cravings (and – if so – how I’d cope).

Well, yes, I did. Last night I did a pretty hefty pull session and was very hungry when I got in. I cooked my tofu and veggies in spray oil, and had that with the lentil “pasta” above. But even as I was making it, I knew it wasn’t what I really needed. I wanted beef mince with that pasta. Or even an egg stirred in or on top. Meat. Eggs. Egg yolk. Red meat.

Sigh.

What I don’t know is how to “replicate” what I need via vegan foods. I’m pretty sure I’m getting enough iron, B Vitamins, and everything else. I really do eat a wide variety of foods. Was it habit? Who knows.

So today I made an extra effort to make my meals super-tasty with herbs and spices etc. And I upped my fats a bit, and made sure I got them from “useful” sources (like the Omega Oil I’m using whilst I can’t have fish oil) rather than…er…vegan protein bars 😉

That’s my quick update. Kind of something and nothing really. But if any vegan ladies are reading – particularly those who haven’t been vegan their whole adult lives – I’d love to know if you crave particular foods around your period, and what vegan foods you turn to?

Ooh! Another question. I’m giving blood next week and had a sudden thought  – are any of the snacks at the “post-donation sit down area” vegan?! THESE ARE THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS, PEOPLE!

Proper update coming on Sunday as usual!

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: 1 Week In

November 5, 2017

It’s not quite one week in to “World Vegan Month”, but Sunday seems a good day for a round up.

In case you missed it, I’m “going vegan” for the month. I’ve gone into this with no preconceptions, no expectations, and no particular concerns. So these round up blog posts will simply be what’s on my mind, and what (if anything) has surprised me about being vegan so far.

How have I felt?

Surprisingly, no different to usual. Hunger and appetite are about the same. If anything, I feel less hungry – more balanced – than eating my usual foods. I don’t know if this is an increase in fibre, or food volume? I should point out that I haven’t done a complete 180* in my food choices here. I was already eating a “good diet”, of “mostly whole foods”, with almost everything prepped from scratch by my own hands. I already ate a lot of veg, quite a lot of pulses/lentils.

So what’s changed?

Well, obviously no meat, fish, or eggs. I didn’t eat much dairy anyway (for some reason it makes me a bit queasy these days). But of course there is a bit of dairy in things like sauces, chocolate, dressings etc.

Snacks and “quick grab” foods are more difficult

The few times I have felt hungry have been the times I’d typically grab a quick “something”. Doing that is much more difficult as a vegan, it turns out. Maybe not once you’ve got used to it, I suppose. But where I might make myself a quick protein mugcake (EGGS!), or some scrambled eggs (EGGS!), I’m now left opening and shutting the fridge door thinking: “hmmm”.  There are plenty of things I can snack on, of course. But at this stage in my vegan adventure, I can only think in meals. (Thank you to Bulk Powders who gifted me a box of their Chocolate Coconut vegan protein bars which have been my sweet treats!)

Protein is a little harder to hit

It’s not difficult to eat protein as a vegan – plenty of plant sources have decent protein (tofu, pulses, lentils) and of course there is trace protein in pretty much everything. But it’s more difficult to – say – bump up a meal by 20g protein. Because vegan protein is tied in to other macros. So I have been having more servings of protein powder than usual (thanks again to Bulk Powders for this vegan protein powder!)

You have to rethink “meal construction”

As an omnivore, you tend to think of your macros separately. “OK, for my carbs I’ll do potatoes…. I’ll have chicken with that for my protein, and if I need any fats in there I’ll put some butter on top.” Or whatever. A bit more creative than that, but you get the idea. You can’t do that with vegan foods, because (as mentioned), the macros are all attached. So I’ve been trying to find higher protein versions of “carb” foods – like these pasta shapes (made from lentil flour and green pea flour), so then I can just have a veggie sauce on top and the macros are pretty decent.

Food shopping is eye-opening

I did a late night dash to the supermarket on the 1st, because I realised I didn’t really have enough food in the house to create a vegan meal. It was eye-opening. I realised how people must feel when they first embark on a “healthy eating plan” for the first time. All of a sudden, entire sections of the shop are off limits or completely redundant. You have to scrutinise labels (who knew that not all Quorn products are in fact vegan? Not me!) The shop took ages (see “scrutinising food labels”) but by the end of it my trolley was pretty sparse.

Question of the week

What is creatine? I mean, what is it actually made from? Is it… vegan? (I hope so! If it isn’t, please let me down gently!)

Um… what else?

  • Gym performance is absolutely fine. I’ve had a wicked week’s training actually.
  • My guts are fine, thank you 😉
  • Sleep is fine/no different.
  • I haven’t craved/been hungry for/missed anything in particular.

Recipe

I will be using Fitproclientrecipes during the month, to try a whole load of new meals and snacks. I’ll report back.

For now, I will leave you with a recipe I’ve just made up on a whim. I call it Curried Cauliflower & Tofu, because that is what it is.

Ingredients:

  • 20ml oil
  • 400g raw cauliflower, chopped
  • 400g firm tofu, water pressed out
  • 200g tomatoes, chopped
  • Spinach (as much as you want, it will wilt away to nothing anyway)
  • 1 lemon (grate a bit of the rind, and squeeze all of the juice)
  • Garlic paste or fresh garlic
  • Fresh coriander
  • Cumin seeds
  • Turmeric powder
  • Red chili flakes or fresh chili
  • Ground black pepper
  • You could put more herbs/spices in if you have them – I don’t)

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pan (lidded one)
  • Put in the cubed tofu and all the herbs/spices apart from the fresh coriander
  • Let the tofu brown a bit (you won’t be able to tell, because turmeric makes everything yellow, including my fingers, my kitchen surfaces, and my utensils)
  • Add the lemon rind, tomatoes and cauliflower
  • Put the lid on the pan and let it cook away
  • Add the lemon juice & spinach, turn the heat down, and leave it.
  • Put the fresh coriander on top when it’s done

Macros per 1/4 of this recipe:

  • Cals 193
  • P 15
  • C 8
  • F 12

So. There’s my rather underwhelming update after 5 days as a vegan! Let me know if you have any questions (or suggestions).

I’ve got some interviews with real actual (as in permanent!) vegan athletes lined up, as well as more recipes, review of vegan protein products, and anything else that comes to mind! Requests are welcomed.

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: