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Veganuary - how to do it in a healthy way
What is Veganuary?
Veganuary has been around for a good few years now and has definitely gained popularity in recent years. Veganuary is a movement which encourages as all to go vegan, or make vegan changes throughout the month of January. People choose to eat vegan for a variety of reasons, from health, to animal welfare, wellbeing and the climate. Whatever your reason for exploring veganism in more depth, one of the most rewarding things about going vegan is experimenting and trying new and different foods. The choice of flavours, spices and ingredients out there mean you may be surprised just how many products are actually vegan.
What are vegan foods?
Put simply, a vegan diet contains only plants and foods that come from plants. A vegan diet does not include any produce which has come from an animal, so vegans also don’t eat dairy, eggs or honey. Therefore a vegan diet is made up solely of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and other plant based products.
How to eat a healthy vegan diet
The good news is that it’s possible to get a wholly balanced diet when eating vegan, even without some of the main protein and calcium stakeholders, like meat and dairy. If you are choosing to make the odd vegan or plant based meal, or are considering going wholly vegan, it’s important to try to eat whole fruits and vegetables were possible, rather than ‘vegan’ alternatives.
It’s important to ensure you are getting enough carbohydrates so basing meals around brown rice or pasta or sweet potatoes. Eating beans, pulses and lentils are a important source of protein and other nutrients, so including them in your meals where possible is advised. It’s also advised to find some good dairy alternatives for your milk and yogurt – and if these options can be fortified with calcium, then that’s better still.
Three vegan recipes to try this Veganuary
Simple vegan pasta bake
This is a really easy weekday meal which has many flavours and textures, bringing veggies to life. Adapt to suit your kids too!
- Wholemeal pasta (penne or fusilli)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 courgette
- 1 aubergine
- 1 red pepper
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 red onion
- 1 tbsp vegan pesto
- Handful crispy kale
- Handful vegan cheese (grated)
- 2 gloves garlic - crushed
- Olive oil
- Chop up all the veggies except the onion and add to a baking tray with olive oil and chilli flakes. Bake for 45 minutes.
- Boil the pasta until it’s soft and leave to cool.
- Chop the onion and add to a frying pan with oil, and then add the garlic.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes until you’ve got garlicky tomato sauce.
- Take the roasted veggies out and cover with the pasta and then the tomato sauce.
- Mix until combined.
- Spread the pesto on the top and then the cheese and pop in oven for 10 mins.
Easy Thai vegan curry
Fragrant and easy to freeze – ideal for batch cooking.
- 2 tbsp thai curry paste (red or green)
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 star anise
- 1 courgette
- 1 pepper
- Packet of baby sweetcorn
- Tenderstem broccoli
- Packet of mange-tout
- 1 red onion
- Fresh basil
- Fresh coriander
- Brown rice to serve
- Chop up all veggies into bitesize pieces.
- Chop up the red onion and add to saucepan with oil.
- Add the curry paste and stir for 2-3 mins.
- Add the coconut milk.
- Mix for a minute then add all the veggies.
- Cook for 8-10 mins until veggies have softened.
- Serve with rice and a sprinkling of fresh basil and coriander.
The best vegan truffles
A superb little treat.
For the truffles:
- 300g dairy-free dark chocolate
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 240ml light coconut milk
- Teaspoon of peppermint/orange/vanilla/almond/coffee extract
For the topping:
- Cacao or carob powder
- Desiccated coconut
- Chopped up nuts
- Break the chocolate up into little pieces in a large bowl.
- Add the coconut oil and coconut milk to the bowl.
- Mix together and transfer to a saucepan.
- Heat the mixture on a low heat, until the chocolate is fully melted and combined with the coconut oil and coconut milk.
- Remove the warm mixture of coconut milk, coconut oil and chocolate from the stove and transfer back into the bowl.
- Add your desired extract and gently mix together. Leave the mixture to stand and cool down for at least 30 minutes to an hour – until it is completely cool.
- Cover the bowl in cling wrap and transfer to the fridge.
- Leave to cool for four hours – or even overnight.
- When the mixture is nearly set, remove from the fridge. If it’s been in overnight, you may have to allow the mixture to warm for 15-20 minutes.
- Now the fun part! Get yourself a few bowls and fill with your desired toppings. Use a teaspoon to scoop small amounts of the chocolate truffle mixture and roll them into balls in your hands. Now roll them in your favourite toppings! I personally love cacao powder, chopped nuts and desiccated coconut.