Vegan Pledge: Week Three Food Diary

Welcome to week three of my thirty day vegan pledge with The Vegan Society. You can find out why I decided to take the thirty day pledge here. Catch up on week one here and week two here. You can also click this link to check out my vegan grocery shop!

vegan meals
MY 30 DAY VEGAN PLEDGE OFFICIALLY BEGAN ON 6/7/17

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As I mentioned previously, during week two of the vegan pledge I had begun to experience some symptoms such as headaches and the breakout of a rash across my face and neck. I put these down to a detox reaction due to the huge change in diet. Thankfully moving into week three these symptoms had completely cleared up and I was keen to continue on with the pledge!

Vegan Food Diary: Week Three

Vegan Meals: Breakfast:

My breakfasts this week mostly continued in a similar vein, being comprised of fresh fruit, oats and smoothies. However I did also try my first homemade vegan fry up!

vegan meals

I used Heinz baked beans, a left over baked potato, sautéed spinach and mushroom, grilled tomato and Dee’s Wholefoods traditional vegan sausages. These are so good! I picked them up at Tesco. Compared to most other vegan sausages on the market they are free of artificial additives and are also gluten, soy and GMO free. They’re also a bit pricier but they have a good use-by date and can also be frozen. I tried these for the first time long before I started the pledge and I’ve tended to keep a box in the freezer for when I need a quick meal in a pinch. Highly recommended! I grilled the ones pictured above but I do think they taste a bit nicer fried!

Vegan Meals: Lunch

I tried a new recipe and used polenta for the first time to make this polenta and veggie bake along with a cashew and black bean burger. I topped this with some amazing siracha Vegenaise (not pictured). If you haven’t tried Vegenaise you’re missing out! Its even better than the real thing! I’ve found it in a few health food shops and some specialist vegan shops too.

vegan meals

I was out and about a lot this week and I mostly ate out for lunches so I will be sharing them in my post on eating out as a Vegan! ??

Vegan Meals: Dinner

I made a delicious sweet potato and peanut butter curry this week. Definitely one of my new favourite recipes! I served it with red and black quinoa and some coriander. Again I’ve been noticing how truly filling these whole food vegan meals are! So very full of flavour too!

vegan meals

I made another pizza dinner with a wholemeal wrap from M&S and topped with spinach, kale, cherry tomato, basil and vegan cheese. My favourite is definitely the Violife vegan mozzarella style cheese as it melts so well on pizza. This is such a quick and easy meal to make and total comfort food!

vegan meals

I also made an Indian Jalfrezi with tofu, peas, spinach and bok choi. Served with brown rice.
vegan meals

At the end of week three I am starting to feel like I’m really getting the hang of this whole vegan thing! Its definitely getting easier as time goes by.

My next post will detail my final week on the pledge leading me to a full 30 days on a vegan diet. If you’d like to take the thirty day vegan pledge click here. You’ll get daily emails to keep you motivated and help you along the way.

The Clean Coconut ??

P.S. Catch up on why I took the 30 day vegan pledge here and how I got on with week one of the pledge here and find my week two update here. You can also check out my vegan grocery haul here.

vegan meals

Vegan Grocery Shop: Week One

vegan grocery shop

Upon deciding to make the commitment to go vegan for thirty days, I knew I needed to stock up on some plant-based staples. Most of what I’ve included in this vegan grocery shop was purchased in Sainsbury’s. I’ll talk you through what I picked up and how I intend to use it!

Vegan Grocery Shop Essentials

1. Vegetables!

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Possibly the most obvious thing to get when doing a vegan grocery shop! I stocked up on lots of vegetables for the week including carrots, onions, leeks, parsnip and turnip for a vegan chowder I was planning to make. Spinach for salads and smoothies. Mushrooms for pastas, soups and my portobello pizzas. Beetroot, spring onion and broccoli for salads. Potato and sweet potato for mash and potato salad. Of course lots of the basics like carrot and onion would be used in a number of recipes over the course of the week.

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2. Fruit

I don’t tend to eat tonnes of fruit. I stocked up on frozen berries (not pictured) including blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, as well as a mixed summer berry frozen selection. I usually use these on top of porridge or chia pudding and in smoothies. Bananas are so nice in smoothies or with nut butter on toast as a quick and satisfying snack. I also got up a box of cherries to snack on. Avocado will be used in salads and to make guacamole ??. Lemons and limes with be used for gin and tonic flavouring various salsas, salad dressings and recipes. I picked up the bramley apples to make my own apple sauce as it is often used as a substitute in healthier vegan baking. I’ll freeze the sauce in one-cup portions.

vegan grocery shop

3. Herbs

I bought a selection of herbs for cooking with. Fresh herbs make such a difference to the flavour of any dish. My most used are probably basil and corriander. I also picked up samphire for the chowder I was making, parsley, thyme, tarragon and chives. I have a selection of dried herbs and spices too which are also brilliant for adding flavour.

vegan grocery shop

4. Beans and Lentils

Of course no vegan shopping list would be complete without a selection of beans and lentils. Buying them dry and in bulk from the likes of an Asian supermarket is by far the cheapest but for now I just picked up a variety of types. I got some dried chickpeas and black beans also (not pictured) that I will soak, cook and freeze in one can equivalent portions.

vegan grocery shop

vegan grocery shop
These were lentils I already had in the press and will be using over the next thirty days!

5. Nuts and Seeds

Another plant-based staple. I will use these in baking, salads and various other recipes. Seseme seeds are high in calcium so are good to include on a vegan diet. I also have a bag of brazil nuts (not pictured) which are high in selenium – just two brazil nuts a day will help you reach your recommended daily allowance of selenium. Also not pictured are my chia seeds and linseed/flax which I use daily in either smoothies, porridge or chia pudding. I love them!

vegan grocery shop

6. Wholegrains

I stocked up on quinoa, brown basmati, buckwheat and polenta. I also got some brown rice pasta and want to get some quinoa and buckwheat pasta from the health food shop. I love the Ogran wholegrain buckwheat pasta. I will use quinoa to make tabouleh style dishes as well as using it as a side for various dishes. Rice will also serve as a side for the likes of curries and dahl.

Quinoa and buckwheat can also be used as a substitute for porridge to change things up a bit. I’ve never used polenta before! But I’ve noticed it in a few vegan recipes so I picked up a bag to give it a go. I’ve also got some porridge oats from The Merry Mill which I got at Bloom this year. I soak them the night before and they are the best oats I’ve ever had! So porridge will also be on the menu.

vegan grocery shop

7. Tofu

Tofu is fairly new to me. I’ve never really used it before. I picked up a selection when doing my vegan grocery shop. I thought I’d try out a few types over the next thirty days. Tofu is high in plant-based protein so will help me to increase my protein intake on this diet. Its very inexpensive, particularly compared to meat! But can be used in a similar way in recipes.

vegan grocery shop

8. Vegan Milk Substitutes

vegan grocery shop

I have been using unsweetened almond milk for quite some time. The Aldi and Tesco versions are great because they are so much cheaper. I decided to branch out and try a variety of different vegan milk substitutes over the next thirty days as there are so many types to choose from now. I go through plenty of these milk substitutes making smoothies, porridge and chia pudding as well as using them in tea.

9. Vegan Cheese !!!

Vegan cheese has become so much more readily available. Sainsbury’s have their own Free From range of cheese which is completely vegan. I picked up a selection as shown below. They also have a plain cream cheese, a Wensleydale and cranberry vegan cheese and a caramelised onion vegan cheddar. I haven’t tried them yet but perhaps I will next time.

vegan grocery shop

10. Pantry Essentials and Flavourful Additions

I picked up vinegars, oils, tinned tomato, tomato purée, passata, coconut cream, vegan stock and, of course, hot sauce ?. These will be used in a wide variety of recipes.

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I also got some jars of chillies, capers and roasted red peppers. I love olives so I picked up some garlic stuffed ones as well as some sun soaked tomatoes to throw into salads and pasta dishes. The Good 4U lentil sprout mix is really high in protein and I’ve used them before in salads. I also got some fresh chillies to use in various recipes. I couldn’t resist a jar of cashew butter too!

vegan grocery shop

I was delighted to come across this vegan pesto too! So handy for pasta and pizza dishes.

vegan grocery shop

I picked up some mustard for making salad dressings. Ketchup and a few herbs and spices that I had run out of. I already have a fairly well stocked spice/herb rack so cumin and kaffir lime leaves were the only two I was out of this week.

vegan grocery shop

I got some oat cakes for snacking. I love topping them with hummus or the aforementioned vegan cream cheese ?

vegan grocery shop

And of course no vegan grocery shop would be complete without tea!

vegan grocery shop

These are the basics of my shop this week. I stocked up on a lot of pantry staples so I shouldn’t need to repurchase them over the next thirty days. Hopefully I will just need to do top up shops for fresh fruit and veg over the next few weeks. I will let you know! I already have vegan protein powder which I’ve been using for quite a while now and nutritional yeast which is another vegan staple. I’ll do weekly vegan grocery shop updates to let you know what else I come across. I am planning a separate post on vegan snacks and treats. It will also be interesting to see how much this vegan diet costs in comparison to a meat/dairy/egg/honey consuming one. Stay tuned!

The Clean Coconut ??

P.S. Read about why I’ve taken the thirty day vegan pledge here. Also read about my first week on the pledge here.

vegan grocery shop

Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

 

Chocolate Chia Pudding

I love chia pudding. Apart from being one of the most Instagram-able  treats, it also packs a seriously nutritious punch. It is one of my favourite breakfasts as it is low in sugar and high in fibre, protein and good fats. I find it a great way to start the day, keeping me full until lunchtime. It also feels like a nice treat and could easily be eaten as dessert too! The good news is that chia pudding is so easy to make!

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Vegan Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

Serves: 1-2

Nutrition: Approximate macros based on the amount provided for  in this recipe (or one whole serving size) and the use of Sunwarrior vegan protein powder are; 31g protein, 24g carbs and 21g fat with a total of 405 calories. The recipe contains  only 2g sugar and a massive 20g fibre to keep you full and satiated! Macros stated above do not include optional added toppings.

Ingredients: 

  • 50g or approx. 4 dessert spoons whole chia seeds
  • 5g or approx 1 teaspoon raw cacao powder
  • 250ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 30g or approx 1 scoop vegan chocolate protein powder (I’m using Sunwarrior vegan protein at the moment*)

*The specific protein powder used may affect absorbency of liquid in this recipe, but not by much. I find that vegan protein thickens the pudding slightly more than whey protein.

Toppings: Optional – I usually choose a couple of options from the following list;

  • Berries – blueberry/raspberry/strawberry
  • Coconut Yoghurt
  • Desiccated coconut
  • Shelled Hemp
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cacao nibs
  • Ground linseed

These toppings will keep your chia pudding low carb while enhancing the amount of plant-based proteins, fats and fibre in the finished meal!

Method:

  1. In a sealable container, add the chia, cacao and protein powder and mix. Next add the unsweetened almond milk and stir before placing the lid on the container and shaking vigorously. It is important that the ingredients are thoroughly mixed so that the chia seeds can evenly absorb the liquid overnight.
  2. Ensuring all of the seeds have been well mixed in the container, place in the fridge and leave overnight.
  3. In the morning, stir up and transfer the pudding to a bowl. Add your toppings. (If you intend taking the pudding with you to eat on the go then just add your toppings to the container and reseal until you are ready to eat!)
  4. Enjoy!

The Clean Coconut x

P.S. This recipe is very high in fibre (approx 20g before toppings are added!). It is always a good idea to gradually increase your fibre intake if you are not already used to eating a plant-based fibre rich diet ?

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Cookies: A Clean Recipe

cookies

I came up with this recipe last week and had to share it. These cookies are so good. I love to have them with a glass of kefir or a chocolate protein smoothie!

These biscuits are vegan, gluten free and low FODMAP too. They are a really good clean treat to have when you want something nice! As well as that they are so quick and easy to make.

Cookies: The Recipe

This recipe makes approximately ten peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

Ingredients:

250g Peanut Butter (I used crunchy)

4 Tbsp Maple Syrup

1 Tablespoon Oats (Use gluten free oats to keep recipe gluten free)

40g Dark Chocolate Chips

2 Tbsp Chia Seeds (ground)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda

Sprinkle of pink himalayan salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the oats, chia seeds, baking powder, baking soda and 25g dark chocolate chips.
  3. Separately, mix the wet ingredients together; maple syrup, vanilla extract and peanut butter.
  4. Combine both wet and dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Roll mixture into small golf-ball sized balls and flatten out a little (they will flatten more when baked so you don’t want them too flat going into oven!) Place each cookie on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Ensure biscuits are well spaced apart.
  6. Use the leftover 15g of dark chocolate chips to decorate the top of the cookies.
  7. Sprinkle with a pinch of pink himalayan salt and place the tray on the middle shelf of your preheated oven.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes before removing the tray from oven to cool for ten minutes.
  9. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to complete cooling.
  10. Store in a sealed container. Cookies should keep for about a week – although my batch did not last quite that long 🙂

The Clean Coconut x

cookies

Paleo Bites: A Chocolatey Chewy Superfood Recipe!

paleo bites

When you’re trying to eat ‘clean’ you definitely don’t need to go without a treat. I created these Paleo bites in an attempt to curb cravings in a nutritious way. They are great with a mid-morning coffee or even a matcha latte!

These bites are naturally sweetened with maple syrup and dates. They are vegan and are also gluten free. The recipe makes about 15 golf-ball sized bites. I chose to decorate them with bee pollen and desiccated coconut. These toppings are high in fibre, with bee pollen containing almost 25% fibre and desiccated coconut having about 13% fibre. Bee pollen is also high in iron and zinc and is about 16% protein.

What I love about these bites is that despite the fact that they contain lots of goodness, they still feel like a really indulgent and tasty treat and are very satisfying! So next time you’re feeling like a treat, avoid the processed rubbish with its sugar-laden empty calories and give these a go instead!

Paleo Bites: Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons Almond Flour (Ground almond)
  • 6 Tablespoons Almond Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 8 Pitted Dates (Try to get organic dates or sulphite and additive free dates as many packs I’ve seen have added sugar!)
  • 1 heaped Teaspoon Raw Cacao Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Dark Chocolate Chips (I use Plamil dark chocolate chips)
To Decorate:
  • Bee Pollen
  • Desiccated Coconut
paleo bites
Almonds form the base of this recipe, I use ground almond flour and almond butter which adds extra protein.
paleo bites
I use this organic vanilla extract from Nielsen-Massey for these paleo bites also.
paleo bites
Cacao powder is a raw version of cocoa powder. As it is not heat-treated, it retains a higher nutritional profile than cocoa powder.
paleo bites
I use this organic maple syrup to sweeten the recipe
paleo bites
This recipe also includes some pitted dates which add that lovely chewy texture.

Paleo Bites – Method:

  1. Place the dates, rice milk, maple syrup, vanilla essence, cacao powder and almond butter in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Add the mixture to a mixing bowl and mix with the almond flour and dark chocolate chips.
  3. When thoroughly mixed, roll into bite-size balls.
  4. To decorate, set out bowls with your choice of toppings – I really like bee pollen and desiccated coconut on these. Roll each individual ball in either bee pollen or desiccated coconut to coat. You could even leave some plain or you could try coating some in raw cacao powder, cacao nibs or crushed nuts – get creative!
  5. Return to baking tray and allow to set fully in fridge before transferring to a sealable jar.
  6. Keep stored in fridge.
  7. Enjoy 🙂

The Clean Coconut x

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Low Carb Tacos: A Raw, Vegan Recipe

 

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I first tried vegan nut tacos with walnut ‘meat’ when I undertook My Vegan Challenge back in August 2015. Many of the recipes I followed at that time were from Marco Borges’ vegan plan which was made famous by Beyonce. When I made Borges’ walnut tacos I changed the recipe slightly by using Savoy Cabbage leaves to wrap my tacos – I much prefer this as I find romaine lettuce far too messy. Cabbage leaves are much more sturdy and easier to wrap. I really loved the idea of the walnut tacos and I especially loved the low carb addition of the cabbage leaves as opposed to a grain-based wrap. After having them a couple of times I began to feel like the walnut taco filling could be made even nicer with a different combination of ingredients.

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low carb raw vegan

I decided to try my own version of the vegan nut tacos by changing up the ingredients to create a different flavour for the filling. Instead of walnuts I used a combination of almonds and sunflower seeds, as these are much higher in protein than walnuts. When I’m cooking vegan or plant-based recipes I’m always conscious of the amount of protein they provide and I prefer my version of the tacos because of the elevated level as compared with the original recipe I used. I also prefer the flavour combinations of my version!

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low carb raw vegan

The best part about this low carb recipe is how truly easy and quick it is to make! And its totally filling too. A great lunch or dinner, particularly when you are stuck for time.

Low Carb Tacos: The Recipe

Serves: Enough for 2-3 people

  • 100g almonds
  • 100g sunflower seeds
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos (Can be subbed for Braggs liquid Aminos or if you have neither use a half teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt).

To Garnish and Wrap:

  • Large Savoy cabbage leaves (2 per person)
  • 1/2 an avocado per person
  • 3 Cherry Tomatoes per person
  • Black pepper
  • Coriander
  • Lime

 

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients for the taco ‘meat’ to a blender or food processor to mix.
  2. Cut the thick stem out from the middle of you cabbage leaves  and arrange the two leaves on top of each other at opposite ends as pictured below;
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    low carb raw vegan

    Divide your taco ‘meat’ among the cabbage wraps and tops with chopped avocado, tomato, black pepper, coriander and a squeeze of lime.

  4. Wrap up nice and tight and cut in half.
  5. Enjoy!

The Clean Coconut x

P.S. Read more about My Vegan Challenge by clicking here. 

low carb raw vegan

 

Recipe: An Autumn Soup

soup, soup recipe

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

It’s that time of year again when soup is truly back on the menu. A warm and hearty bowl of soup is one of the most comforting foods, particularly as the weather turns colder and the evenings get darker.

Below is one of my favourite autumnal soups which I have been making for a few years now. The butternut squash and cooking apples included in the recipe are typical seasonal foods for autumn and have wonderful flavour. I know Halloween is coming when I’m serving this soup!

The main ingredients include;

butternut squash soup
Delicious, seasonal butternut squash.

 

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Warming turmeric and cayenne spices.

 

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Cooking apples.

 

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Cashew Milk – made from unsalted cashews.

Nutritional Values

One serving of this soup contains approximately 240 calories. Including about 10g of (good!) fat, 5g of fibre and 6g of protein. It also provides lots of vitamin A (351% RDA). A serving of this soup contains 11% of your calcium requirements and 14% of your recommended daily iron intake.

soup

The Recipe: 

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 3 cooking apples, washed
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cup of unsalted cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 500 ml stock or water
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Half teaspoon cayenne powder

Method: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Peel and de-seed the butternut squash. Cut both halves of the squash into approx. 1-inch wide semi circles.
  3. Core the apples and chop each apple roughly into quarters (you can peel the apples but there is no need if you plan to blend the soup together at the end).
  4. Roughly dice the onion.
  5. Peel and chop the carrot.
  6. Peel and mince the garlic cloves. 
  7. Place your squash, apple, onion, carrot and garlic on a baking tray. Melt the coconut oil and coat the vegetables with it. Sprinkle over your salt, turmeric and cayenne pepper in the quantities listed above, ensuring all the veg on the tray are evenly coated.
  8. Place the tray of vegetables in your preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes.
  9. Whilst the veg are roasting, pour one cup of cashews into a blender and blend to a powdery consistency – be careful not to over blend as they could begin to turn to cashew butter! Short sharp pulses work best with stronger blenders.
  10. Add two cups of water to the ground cashews and blend on high speed until totally smooth. (If your blender is not powerful enough to blend the cashew milk completely, simply pour it through a sieve at the end to catch any small bits of cashew that remain.)
  11. Remove vegetables from the oven and transfer to a pot. Mash the veg roughly with a potato masher.
  12. Add in 500ml of water or homemade stock. (Try to avoid stock cubes as they are generally full of flavour enhancers, trans-fats and other nasty ingredients – even the organic kind!) This soup will still be really flavourful with just the water! I like the consistency quite thick but you can add more water for a thinner soup (doing so will also reduce the calories/nutrition per serving).
  13. Using a hand-blender, blend the soup entirely so that it is completely smooth.
  14. Serve the soup with a ladle full of cashew milk – a much healthier alternative to cream! You could also simply add the cashew milk directly into the pot (as per my picture above) and stir it up – a better option if you plan to freeze it in portions.
  15. Enjoy 🙂

The Clean Coconut x

autumn soup

Rock ‘n’ Roll Smoothies: Purple Haze

smoothies

The first drink in my series of Rock ‘n’ Roll Smoothies is Purple Haze. This is a gluten-free, vegan, superfood smoothie which is dizzily high in protein.

The main ingredients include:

  1. Chia Seeds

smoothiesChia seeds are super high in protein and fibre, as well as omega three fatty acids.  They include lots of calcium too which can be harder to source on a vegan diet. Chia seeds are one of the few plant-based sources of complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids.

2. Rice Proteinsmoothies, veganRice protein powder is one of my favourite vegan protein powders. It is great for adding to smoothies as it is unflavoured. It is a little bit slower to digest than whey so it keeps you fuller for longer too.

3. Bananasmoothies, vegan, plant-basedBananas are full of potassium, vitamin C, fibre and vitamin B6. Bananas also help to add creaminess to dairy-free smoothies.

4. Maca Powder

smoothies, vegan, plant-based, macaAnother ‘superfood’, plant-based source of nutrients.

5. Acaí Powdersmoothies, vegan, plant based, acaiAcaí powder helps to give this smoothie its gorgeous purple colour. This stuff is expensive, but a little goes a long way.

6. Blueberries smoothies, vegan, plant based, blueberriesAntioxidant-rich blueberries also add to the beautiful colour and great health benefits of this smoothie.

7. Raspberriessmoothies, vegan, plant based, raspberriesRaspberries are really high in fibre and vitamin C.

8. Almond Milksmoothies, vegan, plant based, almonds, almond milkAlmond milk is a great alternative to dairy milk. I love using it in smoothies. Make sure to get the unsweetened version!

Nutrients Per Serving:

One serving of Purple Haze contains 262 calories, 7.3g of fat, 17.6g of protein and 31.7g of unrefined carbohydrates – 13.5 of which are from fibre. Yep, all of that in one glass of purple am-hazingness.

One serving also provides 10.2% of your vitamin C RDA, 41.8% of your calcium RDA and 6.7% of your RDA for iron, as well as 308mg of potassium.

smoothies, vegan, plant based, purple haze, rock n roll

The Rock ‘n’ Recipe: 

(Makes Two servings)

Ingredients: 

2 cups Unsweetened Almond Milk

1 Cup frozen blueberries

1 Cup frozen raspberries

1 banana, sliced

2 tbsp Rice Protein

1 tbsp Chia Seeds

1 tbsp Maca Powder

2 tsp Acaí Powder

2 tsp Desiccated Coconut (to decorate)

Note: Using frozen fruit means you don’t need to water down your smoothie with ice cubes, but you can also use unfrozen berries either. To prevent waste, slice up bananas when they are becoming overripe and freeze them for use in smoothies.

 Method:

  1. To grind up the chia seeds, use either a high-powered blender or a coffee grinder.
  2. Add all ingredients apart from desiccated coconut to blender and blend slowly, gradually moving up to full speed.
  3. Pour into glass and sprinkle with desiccated coconut to serve.

‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky…

sky, purple haze, smoothies, vegan

The Clean Coconut x

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Vegan Challenge: Was it FLAWLESS?

This is the final post from My Vegan Challenge. To read from the beginning of the week-long challenge click here

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Welcome to the final instalment of My Vegan Challenge. A solid seven days as a gluten-free vegan has allowed me to experience a snapshot of what it would be like to live an entirely plant-based lifestyle…

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The Good Great:

1.  Throughout the week I experienced what I can only describe as a feeling of  lightness.

2. My nails got REALLY strong out of nowhere.

3. I lost body fat. Without counting any calories or going hungry.

4. I saved some animals. Statistically, every vegan saves 198 animals from slaughter every year, which equates to almost four animals per week.

5. I helped the environment. The carbon footprint of a vegan is less than half that of the typical meat eater.

6. I cooked and tasted lots of new things.

7. I ate lots of fresh food and wasted nothing as it was often the perishable items in my cupboards/fridge that I was relying on for the bulk of my meals.

8. I enjoyed the experience of the vegan lifestyle.

WATERMELON
WATERMELON

The Bad Improvable:

1. Supplementation is essential. B12 is totally lacking in the vegan diet. Calcium and iron are also limited. Ensuring I was getting adequate protein took extra effort.

2. Dining out is difficult. Even in a city like Belfast, where I was based throughout my challenge, the vegan options are quite limited. Certain niche and ‘healthy’ restaurants serve more palatable vegan options. These venues are few and far between. Outside of cities, vegan options are still quite rare in typical Irish restaurants. I only dined out for dinner on the final day of the plan.

3. Recovery from exercise took longer.

4. Vegan cooking can be quite time consuming. I had to plan ahead and make sure I had all the necessary ingredients to hand.

5. There is little-to-no healthy vegan (and gluten-free) ‘convenience’ food in typical Irish shops. If, on the odd occasion, you don’t feel like cooking or don’t have time and you’re not based in a city, you may not be able to source a nice, quick, vegan dinner.

6. It takes a lot of effort and discipline to consistently maintain a vegan lifestyle in a healthy, balanced way because it is such a restricted diet. Lets be honest, sometimes you just want to have a bar of chocolate a bag of jelly babies. Of course if more vegan options were available it would be a lot easier.

7. When eating as a vegan, it can be difficult to get the balance of macro nutrients to fit a high protein, low carb diet. The particular plan I followed (22 Days Revolution) was high in unrefined carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. When lifting weights, higher protein levels are recommended in order to aid recovery and muscle growth. I added in extra protein sources when I could.

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Final Thoughts:

Since finishing My Vegan Challenge I have remained about 70% vegan. Most of the times I have eaten meat, dairy or eggs have been when out for dinner in restaurants which lacked a vegan option, or when I was a dinner guest at someone’s house. I have cooked meat (chicken) once since completing the challenge two and a half weeks ago.

Below are just some of the vegan dishes I have had since finishing the challenge.

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More sushi – I love this!

 

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Vegan toast with chickpea spread. This bread is also gluten and yeast free

 

Wholegrain brown rice pasta with marinara sauce
Wholegrain brown rice pasta with marinara sauce

 

Gluten and yeast free Vegan toast with almond butter, banana and blueberries
Gluten and yeast free vegan toast with almond butter, banana and blueberries

 

Avoca Salad – not totally vegan as it did contain some feta – again eating out is not always easy as a vegan! It was gluten free though.
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Carrot and Ginger Juice

 

Acai Smoothie
Acai Smoothie

 

Vegan Risotto
Garden Pea Risotto

 

Vegan Pancakes
Buckwheat and Hemp Pancakes

As you have hopefully seen over the course of the week and from my diet since, vegan eating is anything but boring. There is so much variety and so many flavours to what you can create. I didn’t stop the diet because I wasn’t enjoying the food – I loved the food.

I didn’t supplement enough in terms of B12 and iron and I definitely felt the result of that in the last two days of the challenge. This was ultimately what made me finish the challenge on day eight. Anyone taking on this diet should definitely plan ahead to ensure all their nutritional needs will be met.

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Spirulina Shots

I also wanted to be able to enjoy a meal out in a really nice restaurant I was going to the night after I finished the plan. I didn’t want to be restricted. It can be hard to really treat yourself on a vegan plan because it is not adequatly catered for in most restaurants and shops and because it takes a lot of forethought, planning and effort. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t wake up the day after the challenge ended and reach for eggs and bacon, on the contrary I have been far more conscious of all dietary choices made since. Still, it is nice the odd time to be able to mindlessly indulge after a period of really clean-eating.

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Whilst I’m not ready to be a full-time vegan forever more, I am definitely incorporating a lot more plant-based eating into my diet. Before I took on the vegan challenge I very rarely ate eggs or dairy anyway, so the main thing I was ‘giving up’ was meat. I’m delighted to have gone from eating meat twice a day to eating it maybe three or four times a week now.

I’m a firm believer that the best way to make a dietary change is to set aside a week, plan ahead and try it out, then reevaluate. This is actually how I initially went gluten-free and at the time it seemed impossible but now it is totally second nature. I took that approach with this vegan diet, an entirely new way of eating, just for a week. As I suspected it has impacted the way I eat in a positive way. I feel like I’m another step closer to a cleaner diet, both for myself and the planet.

The Clean Coconut x

P.S. I know lots of you have been asking if I will be posting recipes and the answer is yes! Honestly, I’m the kind of cook who adds a ‘handful of this’ and a ‘dash of that’, so it will take some discipline for me to start measuring out my favourite recipes but I will get on it asap 🙂 

You can now find some vegan recipes by clicking here.

Also check out my guide to going gluten-free here.

P.P.S. If you haven’t watched Earthlings yet – DO IT! You can find it on Youtube by clicking here.

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My Vegan Challenge: Day Seven

(To catch up on days 1-6 of My Vegan Challenge, begin by clicking here.)

Reaching day seven marks the conclusion of My Vegan Challenge

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According to the 22 Days Nutrition plan I was supposed to have a green smoothie for breakfast today. I tend to reserve green smoothies for Monday-Friday. It was a Saturday so I felt like having something that was a little bit closer to comfort-food. I put together my own chocolate protein smoothie (… and I made the green smoothie the following Monday!).

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This smoothie included lots of plant-based, superfood ingredients such as raw cacao powder, maca and lucuma (available in most health food shops, I used the Irish brand Nua Naturals). It also included chia seeds, banana and vegan chocolate protein powder (Sunwarrior). It was really yummy and much more appealing to me at the time than a green smoothie. This was a late breakfast and I drank two glasses of the smoothie so it kept me full through lunch.

Dinner today was vegetable curry. I was out for the day and didn’t really have time to cook so I popped into St. George’s Market in Belfast where I knew the vegan stall Fin McVeg had lots of delicious food. I picked up a vegan and gluten-free vegetable curry which was really tasty. Better than the typical Saturday night Chinese take-away and far ‘cleaner’.

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I may have also stopped by the vegan bakery at St. George’s Market… Check Out My Buns is also gluten-free and their vegan cakes, buns and biscuits are all amazingly good! This stall sells out quick!

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I picked up a delicious gluten-free vegan brownie for dessert… Like I said, it was Saturday… 🙂

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I have really enjoyed the vegan eating this week. When I started, I wasn’t sure if I would last more than a couple of days, but I’ve now completed seven days straight as a vegan. I’ve learned a lot from the experience. For me, living the vegan lifestyle, without any eggs, dairy, meat or fish (or gluten!) has had its pros and cons.  I will go into these in more detail in my final post.

Find my final post on My Vegan Challenge here.

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