Spring Cleansing My Life | Going More Plant Based | Trying Out Vegan Food

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Hello! Long time no see you might say! I’ve been a bit M.I.A. here on the blog this year. My life has been a bit hectic (to say the least!) for the past few months, and to be honest, I haven’t felt very inspired to blog. When I’m extremely stressed, my creativity and inspiration goes out the window. But that’s not to say I haven’t been enjoying my food. If the day ever comes when that happens, we should all be very worried!

Romanesco, Radicchio, Blood Oranges, Avocado, Vegan Food, Organic Food, Irish Food, Fallon & Byrne, Supernatural Food Market, Plant Based,

I took these pictures last year, nearly a year ago in fact, when I was inspired by the beautiful produce I had picked up at The Supernatural Food Market and Fallon & Byrne! Look how beautiful these blood oranges, romanesco cauliflower, avocados and radicchio are! How could I not be inspired to create delicious plant-based meals with food like this?

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I’ve always been interested in healthy eating and in buying as organically, locally and seasonally as possible. And yes, I realise that I am incredibly privileged to be able to do so, and I count my blessings! But recently, I’ve been researching some natural ways to boost my thyroid health and to support my whole body in general. One thing that seems to keep coming up again and again is the vegan or mainly plant-based diet.

Romanesco, Radicchio, Blood Oranges, Avocado, Vegan Food, Organic Food, Irish Food, Fallon & Byrne, Supernatural Food Market, Plant Based,

There are many health and food bloggers who have inspirational stories of how they have overcome difficult thyroid problems like mine, and other related conditions like adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalances. One of the key changes they’ve made has been eliminating most, if not all, animal products and focusing on a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Some of them eat a mostly raw foods diet, but since I live in a cool, wet temperate climate, that’s not very enticing! It must be a lot easier to eat mostly raw if you live in the tropics. Plus I just love cooking!

Romanesco, Radicchio, Blood Oranges, Avocado, Vegan Food, Organic Food, Irish Food, Fallon & Byrne, Supernatural Food Market, Plant Based,

Either way, a vegan or mostly plant-based diet seems to really help to heal your thyroid, and to balance out your whole endocrine system. Even organic, grass-fed meat and dairy is full of naturally occurring hormones that can play havoc with our own endocrine system, especially if it’s already compromised like mine is. I’m still not convinced that a vegan diet is for right for everyone though. I think it works well for some people, but I am really eager to heal my body and soul this year, so I am willing to try as many avenues as I need to, to feel 100% again, something I haven’t really felt in about 8 years…

Romanesco, Radicchio, Blood Oranges, Avocado, Vegan Food, Organic Food, Irish Food, Fallon & Byrne, Supernatural Food Market, Plant Based, Unwaxed Lemons, Italian Lemons

One of the wonderful bloggers I have discovered who has inspired me to try vegan food is Ellen Fisher, aka Mango Island Mamma. Ellen seems to live the dream life in Hawaii, on the island of Maui, with her husband and two beautiful sons. She lives a mostly raw, totally vegan lifestyle – granted it’s a lot easier when you live on a tropical island! She and her husband are raising their family completely vegan from birth and she has a wealth of helpful information and advice to people looking to try out veganism. Her recipe for Fully Loaded Baked Potatoes with Vegan Chili and Guacamole  is the best!

 

I’ve made it several times and it’s honestly so tasty we didn’t miss the meat or dairy at all! I’ve yet to make the cashew sour cream, as I keep forgetting to soak the cashews, even though I’ve stocked up! But the chili itself keeps for a few days and reheats well.

So I’ve been experimenting a lot with lots of vegan recipes and products and I’m really enjoying it. This is somewhat ironic, since as a child I hardly ate any vegetables and only a little bit of fruit! But in recent years I’ve become much more interested in eating for health. So here are a few of the small, gradual but hopefully lifelong changes that I’ve been making to my diet:

1. Cutting down on red meat

In the past 2 or 3 years, I’ve really been torn on the ethics of meat eating. I’ve long made the effort to buy organic or free range as much as possible. But still, the idea of eating meat, especially red meat, is less and less appealing to me. So we have really cut down on red meat big time! It’s been a lot of fun trying out new veggie or vegan dinners like this cauliflower curry from food writer and newly vegan Jack Monroe:

 

This was actually something we started doing last year, but I’ve taken it a bit more seriously this year. The bacon and cured pork products, like sausages, pancetta, chorizo, Parma ham have all but been eliminated, except for the occasional treat. I’m also certain it will have major health benefits, if only in reducing the amount of salt, nitrates and and animal fats in our diet. I still buy a little bit of organic grass-fed beef from my local farmers’ market, but now it’s a treat. And I’m sure my heart and my waistline will thank me for cutting way back on the fatty pork products!

 

2. Cutting down on cow’s milk and all other dairy products

Every damn year, like clockwork, I get really bad hay-fever! It usually hits around late May or early June, depending on the weather. I’ve had it since I was a young teenager, but if anything it’s gotten worse in the past 10 years! I’ve tried everything to cure it, prescriptions, over the counter drugs and products, homeopathic remedies, supplements, nasal sprays, eye drops, local raw honey. None of them have worked 100%, although in the last few years, the more natural ones, like this high dose vitamin C QBC Plex, definitely do help. And I think raw, local honey is great in general, but I’ve yet to see a major difference since taking it each spring for the past few years. Every January I forget to start taking it, so I’ve yet to actually see if it really works. This year I only started my hayfever prevention routine in March, so here’s hoping that it kicks in by May!

If you want to try my lemon, raw, honey and ginger tea, click here. It’s a great remedy for sore throats, cold and flu!

Raw honey, ginger, lemon, tea, remedy, natural remedy, health, healthy food, organic food, natural medicine, home remedy, sore throat,

One thing I’ve never tried before is giving up dairy. So this year I’ve started cutting out milk, almost completely and I think I’ll keep going this month and try cutting out all dairy. There’s a lot of advice online about how dairy, especially cow’s milk is mucus forming and irritates or inflames the sinuses. So I’m willing to go without it for a few months to see if it makes a difference. I’ll report back on this in June once I know for sure! When you’ve been suffering with hay fever like I have, you are willing to try anything! A friend of mine gave up cow’s milk for her skin and she also noted that her hay fever virtually disappeared!

healthy, goodies, Rude Health, Coconut Milk, Rude Health Granola, Rachel's Organic Yogurt, Pukka Teas, and Green Beards Raw Cold Pressed Juices, Organic Food, Healthy Food, Vegan Food, Plant-based Food,

A selection of healthy goodies including Rude Health Coconut Miik and Granola, Rachel’s Organic Yogurt, Pukka Teas, and Green Beards Raw Cold Pressed Juices!

I’ve been substituting cow’s milk with some great organic plant-based milks, like these yummy ones from Rude Health. They are very expensive compared to other cheaper brands, but they seem to be the best quality ones I have found and I don’t use a lot, just in my coffee and tea. And they are so creamy! They work really well in things like porridge as well, with or without fruit.

 

And in my weekly Sunday pancakes too!

 

3. Drinking more water and fluids

This one is less of a huge shift for me, as I’ve always drank plenty of liquids. But I’ve recently been upping my water intake and it really seems to helping my skin stay clear and hydrated. Over the winter my skin got super dehydrated and extremely dry, which is also a symptom of hypothyroid and is something I have to keep an eye on. Especially on my arms and legs. So I’ve been making the effort or drink at least 2 litres of water or other liquids a day, plus plenty of herbal teas, like some of my favourite Pukka Teas that I wrote about it here in my last post.

Organic Tea, Herbal Teas, Pukka Tea, Organic, Tea, Herbs

I’m also trying to boost my immune system with lots of my favourite raw, cold pressed juices from Green Beards Juicery. They are the best, most delicious cold pressed juices I have found! I wrote about them a while ago too.

Beets by Ray, raw, cold-pressed, vegan, veggie, plant-based, organic, beets, ginger, carrot, apple., orange juice, Green Beards!

Beets by Ray, a delicious raw, organic, cold pressed beetroot, ginger, carrot, apple and orange juice from Green Beards!

4. Eating more healthy fats

Fat gets a bad rap, but opinions are finally changing for the better. We now know that fat is an essential part of our diet and so called “low-fat” foods are usually very unhealthy and high in things like sugar and other fillers! Healthy plant-based fats like avocado and raw, cold-pressed coconut oil are full of the right kinds of essential fatty acids that our bodies need to function properly. Try to avoid hydrogenated vegetables oils and unsustainable oils like palm oil. Look for the healthiest fats like olive oil, coconut oil and other nut oils. They have been used for centuries and have a proven track record.

Avocado aka "Nature's Butter" Recipe for guacamole going up next week on @beaut.ie_ #irishfoodbloggers

A photo posted by Jessie Stuart (@mscooksalot) on

 

I’ve been an avocado convert for a few years here. Like I’ve said before, if it’s good enough for the beautiful Nigella, it’s good enough for me! Having met her in person, I can attest to her fantastic skin. So I’m going to try and introduce more of them into my weekly routine. My go to is either guacamole, or this recipe for Avocado on Sourdough Toast, with lemon and chilli!

 

My other healthy fat of choice is raw, organic virgin coconut oil. I’ve also been using this for several years in my cooking. It’s great for cooking because it’s very stable at high temperatures. So it’s perfect for stir frying meat or veggies, sweating veggies and garlic for soups, stews or curries. I even use it to pop popcorn, and it’s great! I’ve also tried substituting it for butter in some baking recipes with great success. So far I’ve made cookies, pancakes, a few cake recipes, pastry and granola. One recipe that was a great success was this vegan dark chocolate cake from Nigella’s new book, which the goddess herself commented on on my Instagram! I could’ve died – I was so chuffed!

 

5. Eating less crap
This one is more of a overall goal. I’m not a big fan of junk food at the best of times, but that’s not to say I don’t like sugary, fatty or fried foodstuffs! Anyone who knows me knows I have a big weakness for them! Up to the age of 25, I could eat anything and everything and never gain weight. But those days are long gone! And now I’m also much more concerned about the effect that these foods have on my body. I’m the kind of person that reads the back of the packet of a bag of crisps or a bar of chocolate to make sure there’s nothing artificial in it!

 

 

And I’ll never turn down a real burger! Bunsen I love you!

 

 

I prefer brands that don’t use things like gmos, artificial flavours or preservatives and things like trans-fats or palm oil. But I am taking a step further and reducing the amount of so-called healthier junk food that I eat. Things like San Pellegrino lemonade, O’Donnell’s crisps, Green and Black’s chocolate, cappuccinos and pastries and of course alcohol!

 

Remember, I’m cutting down on all these indulgent foods and drinks – not cutting them out completely! That would be ridiculous! Why deny yourself some of life’s greatest pleasures?

Making your baked risotto again @donalskehan It's one of my favourite risotto recipes! πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹

A photo posted by Jessie Stuart (@mscooksalot) on

 

It hasn’t been that long, and I haven’t been that disciplined about it yet, but let’s see how I get on. Have you made any changes to your diet this year? Do you have any health issues that you think might be helped by a change of diet or lifestyle? Please let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your story!

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