A Vegan/Gluten Free Christmas

Hi everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday. I spent the day in the house with the family where we watched kids films, played games, had a gorgeous dinner and watched Doctor Who. 

I spent a lot of the day preparing food I could eat for dinner. Usually I have a Cheatin Roast or a Linda McCartney Roast but since I am now gluten free and trying to eat more whole foods (and less processed food) I decided to make something myself. 

I followed a recipe for Lentil Loaf from The Almost Vegan (http://thealmostvegan.com/vegan-lentil-loaf/) which contained mashed and whole green lentils, carrots, onions and walnuts. The walnuts gave a really nice crunch and the herbs made this roast delicious. I won’t post the recipe as you can get it from the link above but here is a photo of my loaf.

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I also made my own gravy from scratch. I’ve tried many vegan/gf gravy mixes and hated them all. I didn’t follow a recipe for this but I had a mushroom stock cube and a lot of mushrooms so I decided to use them to make my gravy (if you don’t know, I LOVE mushrooms). I don’t think it’s worth a recipe as it was very simple. I fried some onions and mushrooms in a tiny amount of oil then added water, the stock cube (I use Kallo), some rosemary, some onion powder and a handful of nutritional yeast. I boiled it for about 30 minutes and then took the vegetables out and thickened the liquid with cornflour. I ended up with a really nice gravy that tasted very different to the old bisto I used to have!

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Here is my whole dinner. I had the same vegetables as everyone else – sprouts, carrots, red cabbage, roast potatoes and roast parsnips. I also had a few stuffing balls which I made using a Mrs Crimbles mix. It was the best Christmas dinner I’ve probably ever had! The lentil loaf is really nice on a sandwich too. I’ve had two sandwiches with it since my dinner.

I got some really good presents this year as well! The photos below are just a selection.

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My first ever Gluten Free AND Vegan cookbook! This book looks really good and it saves me the time of searching through and putting sticky notes on recipes I can use. Apparently it is a sequel so I’m on the hunt for the first one now!

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I’ve wanted this book ever since I heard it was coming out. It’s a beautiful edition too.Image

Maybe the best present! Read, Set, Novel is a workbook with lots of exercises in it to help you plan your novel. I also got my first fountain pen! Writer presents are brilliant.

ImageAnd everything else (well nearly – I also got a TARDIS that makes noises, a hairdryer and a Coldplay DVD).

 

I gave out a lot of homemade gifts this year. I got the recipes/instructions online and it’s really satisfying giving something you’ve made yourself. Here are some of the things I made.

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I forgot to take photos before I gave these goodies away so the images above are from the tutorials which I will list now.

Sock Monkey – A really cute and easy to make gift! Tutorial – http://www.craftbits.com/project/sock-monkey

Candy Cane Fudge – Vegan fudge but you’d never know it! Tutorial – http://www.godairyfree.org/news/nutrition-headlines/the-best-holiday-fudge-ever-and-it-just-happens-to-be-vegan

Cherry Coconut Truffles – Like vegan bounties! Tutorial – http://dadavegan.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/vegan-mofo-1st-truffles.html

 

And the best part of Christmas is my cat Wicca! A few days ago he was diagnosed with kidney failure and the vet wasn’t very hopeful but he’s getting better and better. We’re so proud of him!

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So that’s my Christmas! Today is a bedroom cleaning and writing day. I hope you all had a great time!

 

 

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A New Year… A New Me!

If you don’t already know, I am a vegan. This means I don’t eat meat, fish, dairy products or honey. I am also gluten intolerant which means I can’t have any food that has flour in (i.e. bread, cakes, biscuits, pastry and a whole host of other things that just happen to have wheat in for a bizarre reason). This makes it quite difficult to eat processed food and yet I still manage it! I eat a lot of gluten free bread which is my guilty food really as some of it contains egg. I also eat cheezely (a vegan cheese made from soya) and drink a lot of soya milk. At the moment I’m eating boxes and boxes of vegan, gluten free mince pies and I love gluten free biscuits too.

I’ve had a few accidents when it comes to eating gluten free and vegan. Many gluten free products have honey or eggs inside and I’ve also slipped up and eaten things I’ve thought were gluten free which weren’t. It hasn’t escaped my attention that if I stopped eating processed food I wouldn’t slip up as much. I also find that eating fresh fruit and vegetables and less processed food just makes me feel healthier. I’ve therefore decided to try a whole foods, plant based diet.

Basically this means I will cut out all processed food and everything is going to be handmade from scratch. Hopefully it shouldn’t be too much of a transition for me as I’m already vegan. I’m hoping that with this new diet I’ll feel healthier and have read a lot of accounts by people who are on this diet who say they feel full of energy, much healthier in themselves and feel like they are being much more environmentally friendly.

So here goes… the rules I have decided to follow from the 1st of January 2013.

1) Base all of my meals on fruit and vegetables (organic if possible). 

This is something that I already do to a point. However I have often based food around bread (such as at breakfast time) or processed food such as gluten free pies, vegan sausages and burgers etc. Breakfast is a big one because I often have sugary cereals or just toast. I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks looking at other foods I can have.

2) No soft drinks

Only drink water, dairy free milks (hazelnut/almond – try to cut back on soya milk), natural fruit juices, tea (without sugar). I want to try drinking more fruit/herbal tea than normal tea.

3) Healthy snacks

I like to eat small meals and end up snacking quite a lot throughout the day. At the moment I eat a lot of crisps and although I’m not going to give them up completely I want to focus more on healthy snacks. I’ve signed up to start receiving Graze boxes which are natural snacks of fruit, nuts and seeds. I’d also like to eat more fruit and vegetables as snacks.

4) No refined sugar

Only natural sweeteners from fruit and maple syrup.

5) No deep fried or fast foods

I already do this as I can’t usually eat them!

6) Spend one day a week prepping food

I’m only going to eat homemade bread and other baked goods. I’m going to do some research and find bread recipes that I can use. I’m therefore going to do cooking/baking on a Sunday to make sure that I have enough healthy food to get me through the week (especially the days when I come home from work late!).

7) Eat more raw food

I love the raw recipes I find on raw vegan blogs and they have a lot of health benefits. However I wouldn’t want to commit to a raw diet. These foods would be a brilliant way of sticking to my whole foods challenge.

8) No more than 5 ingredients

I won’t be eating anything bought from a shop that has more than five ingredients in the list. Especially if they are ingredients that aren’t natural!

9) Try more new recipes

This is always the key to not getting stuck in a food rut and keeping eating exciting!

And that’s it! I’m going to start this now so that I can get my head around all the different bits. Wish me luck…

Nature’s Canopy

Often on Pinterest I come across an image that immediately inspires the beginning of a poem in my head. Unfortunately I usually can’t find the original source of the image which is a real shame when it has provided me with such inspiration! Here is a poem and the image that inspired it. If you know who this image belongs to or who I can credit it to please let me know!

 

 

Nature’s Canopy

This forest is my place.

This forest is my home.

The trees climb high into the sky,

The hedges are overgrown.

Squirrels rule the branches,

The canopy nature weaves.

Me and my friends rule the ground,

Among the moss and leaves.

Visit this place you can.

Visit this place you will.

Clamber over fallen trees,

Until you’ve had your fill.

But you’ll never own this place.

You’ll never own my home.

You’ll never take my freedom,

The forest in which I roam.

Go back to your concrete.

Go underneath your roof.

Because you won’t fit in here,

And that’s the honest truth.

Book Review – Number Ten by Sue Townsend

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After the mammoth amount of time it took me to read my last book (JK Rowlings A Casual Vacancy – https://writingbeckles.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/the-casual-vacancy-by-jk-rowling-a-quick-review/) this one was a refreshing change!

Here is a description from the back of this book:

Edward Clare, PM of England, doesn’t know the price of a liter of milk. Worse, he’s admitted it on national television. The public that ushered him to a landslide election has turned against him.

Edward decides the only way to get closer to the men and women on the street is to travel the country dressed in drag. Leaving his high-powered, ambitious wife to attend to things in his absence, he sets out.

In this comic romp Sue Townsend sends up, roasts, hoists and generally petards the once and future prime ministers as only she can.

 

I’ve been waiting for the first Adrian Mole book to turn up at Oxfam for months because I’ve heard such good reviews of it. Unfortunately it still hasn’t appeared but this one popped up a few months ago and I immediately put it in my “to buy at the end of the month” pile. I’d actually never heard of this book before but the blurb caught my attention straight away. 

I admit I was apprehensive because I’ve never read a book similar to this before but after the first few pages my worries floated away. The prime minister (Edward Clare) was obviously based on Tony Blair but as a character he was quite likeable (unlike Tony Blair..). The trip into reality starts with him being asked when the last time he travelled on a train was and him being ridiculed because photos of him on a wooden choo choo train are passed around the commons (Osborne class anyone?). He then spends a week travelling around Britain dressed as a woman and trying to learn more about what it’s like to be an average person. Queue hilarious situations as well as serious issues being raised about families living in poverty, crack addiction, the state of the NHS and the closure of nursing homes. While he was on this journey his self obsessed wife had a bit of a breakdown and basically made a fool of herself in front of the press. 

All in all this book was a great read but I was disappointed with the ending as I felt it finished quite abruptly and the loose ends weren’t really tied up. I’ve already found another Townsend book in Oxfam (The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year) and I’ll definitely be looking out for others.