Vegan Week: REVIEW

I'm clocking off from my week eating as a vegan! Please scroll down to see what I found out....

OBJECTIVE

  • Eat as a Vegan for 1 working week, Monday - Friday 5pm
  • Do not use vegan ‘meat & dairy replacement’ products (egg replacer, vegan burgers, vegan sausages, vegan cheese, vegan bacon, veganaise etc. Tofu & Tempeh is allowed as they are not replacers)
  • Attempt to stay within approx daily macros: CALS/1700, PRO/149g, CARB/149g, FAT/57g
  • Especially focus on hitting protein whilst not overloading on carb & fat

REVIEW

The hardest part by far was down to the fact that most vegan foods that are high in protein are also high in another macro: lentils are really high in protein but they are also really high in carb. Almonds are a great source of protein - but obviously high in fat so you can’t get much of your protein from almonds or….well….you know! Taking into account that one of the main reasons for this research was to nail down how to eat a healthy & balanced high protein vegan diet - the logistics of juggling this all was initially a bit of a nightmare! I spent quite a lot of time planning daily meals on a spreadsheet in advance to work this all out but I pretty much hit my macros each day so quite pleased! The key to getting in high protein is to get it from a variety of different sources in small amounts (please see my instagram for the vegan protein spider gram). So like any diet - meal planning was key. I had to ensure that if I had a higher carb breakfast & lunch, my evening meal was low in carbs and therefore high in fat etc. This is pretty standard for any diet, vegan or not, but getting the variety of protein from lots of different sources added another layer of complexity into the mix.

However! Please bear in mind that I was being very strict on myself purposefully for ‘research’ and it’s actually not that hard to eat a balanced diet as a vegan with high protein without going overboard on calories. I did supplement my diet with vegan protein powder, but I’m confident that a good level of protein can be reached daily without this. It really didn’t take me too long to get used to balancing out my meals and I got on a bit of a roll with things once I’d made a couple of meals - but they don’t always need to be fancy! On Monday and Tuesday I spent way more time in the kitchen - by Wednesday I was throwing salads together and eating out at non-vegan restaurants no problem. If I was doing this longer term I would definitely get used to batch cooking.

No slip ups - I can honestly say I haven’t eaten any animal products for 5 days. How do i feel? Many non-vegan foods are much easier to digest than animal products and I definitely felt ‘lighter’ digestion wise though I never really have any digestion issues with animal products. On Monday night I felt very bloated but I’m putting this down to eating lentils and black beans (alone with some brussel sprouts!!) which is not my normal diet. Now - I feel normal - I don’t really note any marked differences; I’ve done my usual training with no issues, I haven’t felt unusually tired, nothing has really changed for better or worse! I feel quite on it and alert, but I am usually quite healthy so I generally feel like this…so that confirms there has been no detrimental effect from not getting nutrients from animal sources. Being honest though - I have missed eggs for breakfast and it’s so easy to make meals with chicken! 

CONCLUSION

There’s no doubt there is a strong movement towards becoming a vegetarian or vegan in the US and also in UK for any number of reasons which I discussed in my previous blog post. It’s been a bit of a eye opener doing this and if you are thinking about all of this or are interested then I would urge you to look into doing with this 5 dayer or even dipping a toe in and doing meat free Monday - just to see that it is possible to not be SO reliant on animal products. I’ve listed my daily diet breakdown below but please feel free to contact me to discuss more or if you’d like the full spreadsheet then shoot me an email: ebdfitness@gmail.com - I can also help you put together vegan menus if you think you are struggling with it.

If you’ve got to this point then thanks so much for reading!

Ems x

 

Menus

 

Day 1

Breakfast - Proats

Snack - Chia Pod

Lunch - Lentil & Quinoa bowl 

Snack - Post workout protein shake

Dinner - Tofu Stir Fry

 

Day 2

Snack - Soy fat white and banana

Breakfast - Black bean burger and veg

Snack - Post workout protein shake

Dinner - Cashew Caesar salad & Chana Masala (chickpea & sweet pot) at Cafe Gratitude Vegan restaurant - be careful - big portions!

Snack - Protein shake

 

Day 3

Breakfast - Protein pancakes/biscuits (went wrong but confident it can be done!)

Snack - Post workout protein shake

Lunch - Salad with avocado, quinoa, chickpeas, spinach & kale 

Snack - Protein shake

Dinner - Cashew Raclette, Kale salad, Raw Lasagna and Tempeh Udon (shared all this with Stru and purposefully kept my carb & fat low the rest of the day to allow for it!)

 

Day 4

Breakfast - Protein shake with oats, banana, almond butter & spinach

Snack - Post workout protein shake

Lunch - Tofu Tacos

Dinner - Smashed avo on toast

Snack - Popcorn 

Nighttime snack - Oats and almond milk

(This was the only day I was slightly off with my protein and overall macros. We went to the Staples Centre to watch the Basketball and I was out working in the afternoon and forgot to pick up a healthy snack to take with me….so it ended in salted popcorn and late night oats. Could have been worse! Fail to plan then plan to fail people!!)

 

Day 5

Breakfast - Oats with chia, almond milk & butter

Snack - Post workout shake

Lunch - Tempeh fried rice with spinach

Snack - Brown rice cakes and Hummus

Sweet Potato & Chicken Cakes/Hash!

I really fancied something different for brunch last weekend and so, as we are also in the states and they do 'breakfast hash' (which can be pretty unhealthy), I created my own healthy version of potato cakes which is delicious for brunch! It's great too if you want to swerve bread but are craving carbs. I didn't add enough sweet potato so it turned into a hash - but I quite enjoyed that!

Prep & Cook time = approx 20 mins (Makes 4 cakes - so for 2 people)

Ingredients:

  • 2 x Chicken Breasts
  • 2 x Whole Egg 
  • 2 x Medium Sweet Potato (or less if you like more 'hashy')
  • 1 x Red Onion
  • 2 x Garlic Cloves

Process:

  • Cut the garlic, onion & chicken into really really small little pieces (this holds better in the cake...as I found out)
  • Start to fry in a little coconut oil
  • Whilst that's cooking, peel the sweet potato, cube and microwave until mushy
  • In a large bowl, mix the mashed up sweet potato with the whole eggs (keep stirring!)
  • Then add the garlic, onion & chicken once cooked
  • Shape mixture into cakes with a spoon (careful not to burn yourself if you use your hands!)
  • Fry cakes in coconut oil for a few mins each side
  • Serve with raw spinach and some 0% Fage yogurt! 

I'm pretty sure this is isn't revolutionary (!)...and there's loads of things you could do to it such as add spices and maybe bacon etc. BUT this one is cheap, easy and very healthy - only 5 whole food ingredients! Let me know if you make it any other way!

 

 

Protein Zoats!

zoats-2
zoats-2

I've trained pretty hard this week on quite a low carb diet. When I woke up this morning all I could think about was OATS! So post training my morning clients I've just made these delicious protein zoats (zucchini-oats). It's so easy to make - have a go!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 x Courgette (or 'zucchini') grated
  • 70g x Oats
  • 200ml x Unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop x Protein powder of your choice (I used vanilla casein this morning as I'm not working out until later and it gives a slow release of protein, but you could use whey post-workout. The vanilla makes it nice and sweet)
  • Toppings: almond butter, coconut shavings, cinnamon, fruit etc - whatever you fancy!

PROCESS (1-5)

  1. Heat the oats slowly in a pan with the almond milk.
  2. Add the grated courgette and mix in well.
  3. Add the scoop of protein powder, mix and add water if too dry.
zoats-1
zoats-1

4. Leave the lid on the pan and take off the heat for a few mins so the oats plump up.

5. Stir and serve with any toppings of your choice!

zoats-3
zoats-3

Eat Your Greens!

Green vegetables are underrated. 

Maybe it stems from childhood and the fact that we weren’t allowed to leave the table until we’d eaten our greens. Perhaps it’s the stigma that greens are something you ought to eat but they are tasteless & boring so it’s a chore - I'd rather have sweet potato fries as my daily veg please! Or actually, if just boiled or cooked in the wrong way, green veg can be a bit limp and slimy. In a nutshell - people don’t really like greens.

But green vegetables are actually a superfood! Put the acai berries aside - eating leafy greens every day is possibly the thing you are missing if you are dealing with a lousy immune system, struggling with weight loss or feel like you just haven’t got the glow.

image1-7
image1-7

SCIENCE

There is a reason why as children our parents tried to force greens on us - the nutrients are key to healthy growth but they are just as important when we are adults! Greens are an excellent source of fibre plus many vitamins & minerals. If you do not eat greens then you may be missing some of these micronutrients which are essential for many major functions in the body such as:

  • Growth, development and maintenance
  • Releasing energy from food
  • Protecting & supporting our immune system as antioxidants
  • Regulating the metabolism
  • Providing structure to body tissue (bones/teeth/blood cells etc)
  • Helping to support the body carry out its functions including those of the brain & muscles

…..the list does go on!

HOW 

Greens are inexpensive and easy to eat - some you don’t need to cook to consume but if you do then it’s just a case of boiling quickly (heat for too long and they start to lose their nutrients), steaming or microwaving. However, nowadays more and more it seems it’s easier to reach for fast, ready made food that is all protein, fat or grains, with no source of any vegetables or salad - let alone greens which are perhaps one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat.

Here are ways to make them interesting & include them in your diet:

  • BREAKFAST: Raw spinach leaves dressed with olive oil & balsamic vinegar with your eggs
  • LUNCH: Raw kale rubbed with olive oil to soften, add to rocket & raw baby spinach, pine nuts plus a source of protein for a delicious salad
  • DINNER: Spiralize courgette into courgetti, fry in coconut oil and eat in place of spaghetti with your bolognese
  • SNACK: Stir fry green veg (sugar snaps/pak choi/purple sprouting/kale etc) with chilli & garlic in coconut oil and a little soy sauce

BENEFITS

If you aren’t eating greens, this is perhaps one of the main things you can do to benefit your health right now. I try to eat greens with every meal Monday-Friday at least and I  cannot remember the last time I was ill with flu or a bad cold (touch wood!). They are also low in calories, so if you’re trying to lose weight they can be a great way to fill up. Check people like Jamie Oliver’s websites for exciting recipes (his sprouts & bacon dish is one of my favs!) and get creative! Change your view of greens - increase them in your daily diet and reap the rewards!

The Protein Powder Down-low

What is in a protein powder? Is it good for you, bad for you - will it make you hench? I'm not here to recommend protein supplements but just to give you the basic facts if you wondered what it's all about... Basics

Protein is one of the main 3 macronutrients your body needs to survive. It's required for many bodily functions but in regards to training it's important to get enough protein to repair and grow your muscles. Everyone's protein requirement amount will differ depending on their size, age, lifestyle, training program etc. As an example, I am a female weighing around 60kg and I aim for around 120g of protein a day. I am an active person and do about 3 days of resistance training a week, 1 day of sprint training and 1 day of LISS.

Whole Foods

In the first instance, you should aim to get your protein from food sources through your diet: meat, fish, dairy, vegetables, eggs, nuts to name a few. However, sometimes it isn't convenient to have a meal or snack or maybe it's not possible to consume or stomach the volume of food you might need to match your protein requirements.

Protein Powders

That's where protein powders come in for the people that choose to consume them. Protein powders usually come in a range of different flavours and 1 scoop usually contains about 20g of protein. A popular one is whey protein - which is made from milk - on it's own it's usually low in fat and one scoop can be around 150 cals, though different brands vary. It's fast absorbing and post-workout will get to your muscles quickly.

Vegans use pea protein or hemp protein - I've tried a couple of these vegan brands and found them lighter on the stomach than whey.

Another popular protein powder is casein - this is another milk protein but it's slower to digest than whey, so it's better consumed not directly after exercise but perhaps in the evening so it keeps your protein levels up overnight (NB - this depends on your personal requirements).

Conclusion

On it's own - a protein powder should not make you hench or fat! There's a few other things you will need to do as well to make those things happen. I usually have one protein shake a day post-workout with whey protein but sometimes I eat enough protein through meat and eggs so that I don't need one. Again - it's best to get protein from your diet. Do your research and feel free to email me with any questions (ebdfitness@gmail.com). My preferred brands are Neat Nutrition and KMPT/In the Kin as their brands are simple and contain just a few, quality ingredients.

How do you eat it?

You can shake it up with some water in a shaker bottle (convenient post-workout if you're on the move), whizz it up with some other ingredients for a tasty smoothie or create protein pancakes for breakfast. My fav protein shake recipe is below.....

kmpt-protein
kmpt-protein

Protein shake recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein
  • 1 small banana
  • 10 blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon Meridan almond butter
  • 1 cup (ish) of almond Milk

Whizz in nutribullet with ice and consume!

Email me with any questions: ebdfitness@gmail.com

Grain-Free Granola!

If you hadn't already read from previous posts, I'm a big fan of a high protein + healthy fat breakfast. It's nutritious and keeps me going for ages. Whilst I love cereal and toast as much as anyone else, we all know that cereals are loaded with sugar and usually offer little nutritional value. Toast and peanut butter is delicious but I'll be reaching for a snack quite quickly after I've had it. I actually made this granola for my Dad! He is also a full supporter of eggs for breakfast (and sometimes bacon....) but if he's rushing out the door in the morning he literally loves having Dorset Muesli. Whilst this is better than some other brands it's still going to get him on the sugar band rollercoaster early doors.

So I created this granola for him and want to share it with you too as a healthy alternative to other cereals/granolas/mueslis if you are in a rush in the mornings or need a snack on the go. It's a mixture of nuts, seeds and spices roasted in coconut oil so full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. I usually eat it as a snack with some 0% fat Fage greek yogurt which is high in protein. If you feel like you really need some grains you can add some organic oats.

Recipe 

grainfreeganola1
grainfreeganola1

Makes about a weeks worth when using 3 pudding spoons of granola mix a day. Whilst this is *healthy* it's high in fat so don't be toooo liberal with servings. A little is very filling but if I'm really hungry I'll just increase the yogurt serving I have with it or add lots of fresh blueberries/strawberries/raspberries. 

Ingredients:

  • Black sesame seeds - 4 pudding spoons
  • Pumpkin seeds - 4 pudding spoons
  • Sunflower seeds - 4 pudding spoons
  • Flaked Almonds - 2 pudding spoons
  • Walnuts (crushed in pestel & mortar) - 2 pudding spoons
  • Coconut flakes (shredded & unsweetened) - 3 pudding spoons
  • Flax (must be milled) - 1 pudding spoon
  • Chia Seeds (white or black) - 2 pudding spoons
  • Cacao powder - 1 pudding spoon
  • Cinnamon - to taste but don't be shy
  • Coconut oil for cooking - 1 pudding spoon

Directions:

  • Pre-heat fan oven to 175 degrees C
  • Put the coconut oil in a flat deep-ish oven dish and heat to a liquid
  • Bring the dish out of the oven and add the rest of the ingredients coating in the oil
  • Put back in the oven
  • Bake for 20 mins in total, bringing the mixture out and stirring at least every 5 mins so it doesn't burn
  • Allow to cool and store (and eat.....!)
grainfreegranola2
grainfreegranola2

Granola mix on a bed of 0% Fage Greek Yogurt topped with Goji berries. You could eat with almond milk as an alternative with fresh berries! You can even eat this mixture without baking....experiment & add/take away any nuts and seeds and add any spices you think will work!

grainfreeganola3
grainfreeganola3

EGGS every day?

eggs1
eggs1

Can you eat eggs every day?! Aren’t they cholesterol?! Isn’t cholesterol bad?! Why have eggs got such a bad reputation?

In my opinion, eggs are one of the most versatile protein and fat rich foods we can eat, especially if you are vegetarian. I eat them almost every morning for breakfast in my quest for a (mostly) overall balanced diet to get protein in early but also because they’re delicious!

+ C h o l e s t e r o l  - Without getting too technical…..cholesterol is an essential fatty, waxy substance MADE by our bodies that lives mainly in our cells. We could not live without it for various reasons, including the fact that it enables our bodies to make certain hormones and produce vitamin D. This is our ‘blood cholesterol’.

+ E g g s - also contain some cholesterol, this is ‘dietary cholesterol’. Research has shown that - if we are getting cholesterol from our diet, then our body will make less of it’s own cholesterol and if we don’t get enough from our diet then our body will make more - like a self-regulating thermostat! So in theory, eating eggs should not give you high cholesterol in itself.

High cholesterol is the result of a diet too high in saturated and trans fats (think pies, sausages, McDonalds, deep fried beige food, processed cakes) but also other factors like not enough exercise, too much booze and too much smoking.

So - can you eat eggs everyday? This is up to you and your individual situation but if you are a generally healthy person and lacking in your protein intake and perhaps eating sugary granola for breakfast and can’t shift that excess weight - have a look into this one!

PS - don’t throw out the yolk! The yolk especially contains many many nutrients including omega 3 fatty acids which cannot be produced by the body and are important for many bodily functions! An average egg contains about 6g of protein and 5g of fat…are you really willing to forego that goodness for a mere 5g of fat?