The type of diet you follow is a very personal choice. It may be for moral reasons, health reasons or perhaps you’re just looking for a way to expand your culinary horizons. My reason is very simple. When I eat a diet high in plant-based foods my body feels better, and I’m not talking auras and chakras I’m talking just physically. When I’m concentrating on maximising my plant-based intake, I am less tired, and I suffer from far less IBS related symptoms. The latter being the biggest appeal to myself.
I don’t claim that a plant-based diet cures all, only that I personally have found some relief in choosing a greener diet. I also don’t label myself ‘vegan’ although I do use this word when eating out as it just requires less explaining. I do eat vegan meals but then I can also be found treating myself to a scrummy poached egg on the odd Sunday. For me what I eat isn’t about restricting but discovering as many delicious plant-based meals as I can, so they make up around 80% of my food intake. I feel this percentage may drop to more like 50% when Christmas hits, but hey we’re all human.
I first trialled this plant-based eating malarkey back in 2016 after purchasing a Deliciously Ella cookbook (what else). I was dedicated for around 5 months until I fell in love and I swapped plant-based dinners for sumptuous suppers out and cheesy takeaways in. So, I’ve decided to hit the reset button and go back to my herbivore ways in a bid to get back to my healthy and happy place. I’m trying out lots of new recipes right now but here are some of my favourites. Most make at least 4 servings, so you can freeze portions for another time or take to work the next day.
Chickpea and butternut squash curry
This is a favourite of mine and is loved by my vegetarian boyfriend Dan, who largely thinks a plant-based diet is absurd because it doesn’t include cheese. See this recipe for instructions if needed but I use the below ingredients. Just bung them in on a medium heat and you’re done.
- 1tbs coconut oil
- I large white onion
- Patak’s Tikka Masala spice paste. Yeah, it’s a jar but I’m happy with the ingredients. You can always spend time making your own. Smug feeling optional.
- Whole Butternut squash
- 1 can of chickpeas
- Big handful of spinach
- ½ carton of Alpo soya single cream
- Basmati rice or quinoa (I sometimes choose quinoa to add more protein)
Great with a naan or GF pita but maybe worth eating in your canteen and not at your desk if you take it to work for lunch 😊
Beetballs and spaghetti
I don’t even play with this recipe as the beetballs are perfect. I just combine them with my fail-safe tomato sauce (see below) and then a mixture of courgette and GF spaghetti. That way I’m getting my greens, lowering my carbs but still getting that lip-smacking spaghetti slurp! This does require a blender of some sort, but don’t run out for a Vitamix just yet. I make this all the time with just a small countertop food chopper.
For lunch, I’ll use them like a falafel in a wrap with hummus a pickle.
Sticky Sesame Cauliflower
This is a new recipe that I only recently tried, but I think its a real winner! It’s the perfect antidote for those days when only a Chinese takeaway will do. I serve mine with quinoa and edamame beans to give a protein boost.
This is another favourite of Dan’s but at £5 a can for jackfruit it’s a treat. Serve with pink pickled slaw.
This is the only one I don’t freeze or use for lunch the next day. I just think its best the first time around.
Vegan sausage bake
I make this dish 2 ways. 1 half of the baking tray is vegan the other is veggie, but this is only dictated by mine and Dan’s preference on sausages. I pretty much follow this recipe to the letter with the exception that I use a vegan stock and add my own sweet caramelised onions to act as a traditional onion gravy. Cauldron vegan sausages work well with this as well as a cheesy Glamorgan sausage if you just want to keep it vegetarian.
I serve this with kale or red cabbage and mash potato or polenta.
My tangy tomato sauce
I know there are a million ‘the best’ tomato sauce recipes this is just mine. I make a pot of this on a Sunday and decant into an old glass jar to use throughout the week. It’s one of those that can be used, on pasta for a quick and easy lunch/dinner or you can add spice and chillies to use in a curry, chilli or stew.
- 1 chopped white onion
- 2 teaspoons of garlic paste or 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon of chilli paste
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon of vegan bouillon powder (for me this is the game changer)
- 1 cup of water
- 2 roasted red peppers (I use the jarred kind for ease)
- Salt and pepper to taste
My only advice is to cook the onions low and slow for sweetness and then once everything is in cover with a pot lid and simmer for at least 20 mins on a low heat. I like to blend mine up so its smooth, but chunky works too.
And that’s it. I hope you get to give one of these ago. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I’m no expert but this is the food that works for me in both tastiness, healthiness and easiness. I won’t be putting my family through a plant-based Christmas, so you’ll see a mixture of meat and veggie options if you follow me on Instagram. But after Christmas, It will be back to plants so if I come up with any more favourites I’ll be sure to let you know.