Vegan chickpea quinoa salad

This is a great dish to bring along to a potluck or a picnic! It’s a great meal to make for friends who are sceptical about vegan foods too (no seitan or tempeh scaring them away!). 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas 
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa 
  • 1 cup chopped red cabbage 
  • 1 cup broccoli sprouts 
  • 1 cup shredded carrots 
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews
  • 1/2 cup raisins 

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup 

Quick and easy to toss together! Experiment with whatever veggies are in your fridge! 

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Vegan tofu (not fried) rice


I made this yummy tofu rice stir fry last night and it was delish! Normally I fry the tofu but this time I baked it in the oven with a little tahini and it came out just as tasty. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups red rice (the more colourful your food, the better)
  • Firm tofu- 1 package 
  • Tahini- 2 tablespoons 
  • Broccoli- 1 cup chopped 
  • Mung bean sprouts- 1/2 cup
  • Mushrooms- 1/2 cup chopped 
  • Red cabbage- 1/2 cup chopped 
  • Pineapple chunks- 1/4 cup
  • Leek- 1/2 cup of half moons 
  • Red onion- 1/4 cup diced 
  • Garlic- 2 cloves minced
  • Tamari- 2 tablespoons 
  • Umeboshi plum paste- 1 tablespoon 
  • Spices: ginger, turmeric, pepper 

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 180C
  2. Press/pat dry tofu
  3. Cut tofu into cubes
  4. Spread a thin layer of tahini over tofu
  5. Bake tofu in oven for 20 minutes (you can use a little oil on pan to prevent sticking or use baking paper)
  6. While tofu is baking, chop your vegetables and stir fry with a bit of water
  7. Mix together tamari, umeboshi paste and spices and add to stir fry
  8. Add in rice, pineapple, and tofu
  9. Enjoy!

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5 ways I’m improving my diet for better weight loss.

I’m stepping up my weight loss game. For the last month I’ve transitioned from a junk food vegetarian diet to a whole-food, plant-based one. The results so far have been good but now I’m ready to delve a bit deeper into healthy eating. Here are 5 upgrades I’m making:

  1. “Whole” whole grains: even though some breads and pastas are labeled “whole grain” they can still be highly processed. I’m upgrading to sprouted grain bread and buckwheat pasta. The less refined flour the better.
  2. Fewer nuts: nut bars and trail mix have been my go-to snacks but they are so caloricly dense that I end up overeating them. Nuts are good for you but in moderation. I might still add nuts to my cooking but I’m getting rid of my nut snacks. 
  3. Oil: I’ve cut down on the amount of oil I use in cooking but I still use it a bit out of habit. I’m going to focus more on eating whole-food fats and not using up my daily calorie allowance on oil.
  4. Sodium: I’ve stopped cooking with salt but sodium manages to sneak its way into my food. I’m going to crack down on the sauces and condiments we use that are high in sodium. 
  5. Coffee: Coffee is like a religion in New Zealand. I love my ritual of walking to the shops to buy my soy flat white. Really though I’m just wasting my money on a steaming cup of empty calories. So I’m going to try to make coffee at home with a splash of soy milk. This will be the hardest habit to change!

I’m hoping that these changes will accelerate my weight loss! Any other suggested upgrades? 

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Vegan falafel wrap upgrade 


I threw together a falafel wrap for dinner (with one hand while bouncing my teething baby) and I added in some healthy upgrades!

Normally when we buy falafel kebabs the falafel is fried, the hummus has heaps of fat, and the sauces are full of sugar. I thought I’d make a healthier version. 

Falafel wrap ingredients:

  • Baked falafel bites
  • Quinoa whole grain wraps
  • Just Hummus brand hummus (no added oils and salt)
  • Avocado 
  • Red cabbage 
  • Broccoli sprouts 
  • Spicy sauerkraut 


It was quick to throw together and a delicious plant-based meal! (I think Ziggy was a bit jealous) 😊

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If you can’t go fast, go slow often 

I struggle to find time to have a proper workout. The logistics can feel nearly impossible with a baby. I thought I needed to go to the gym or go for a run to be “active” but the truth is you can be active around your house all day long. 

Once I got my Fitbit, I could see how little I was doing in a day. It was then that I started upping my activity levels around the house. Now I dance around the house with my daughter instead of sitting on the floor. I march in place while folding the washing. I avoid the couch. I walk to the shops to get a coffee. It’s not a workout per se but I end up burning a lot more calories than I did being sedentary. Just by slowly moving throughout the day I walk around 10 miles! I now surpass my jogging friends on Fitbit in steps per day. (I feel like the tortoise winning the race!)

Our bodies were designed to be on the move. High intensity workouts are great, but if you are struggling to fit it into your schedule, don’t let it be an excuse to sit on your bum all day! 

The photo is a pohutukawa (we call it a kiwi Christmas tree because it blooms around Xmas). Can you spot Ziggy enjoying our wee walk around the park? 😊

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Vegan risotto with kidney bean chilli and steamed broccoli 

I scraped together this yummy plant based dinner last night. It was my first foray into the world of risotto but it turned out really nice. Plus it ticked off 5 of Dr. Greger’s daily dozen!

Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole grain risotto
  • 5 cups low sodium veggie stock
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion 
  • 2 cloves garlic 

Steps:

  1. Sautée onion and garlic with a splash of water (I don’t use oil because it’s empty calories and not good for arterial function)
  2. Add in risotto and 1 cup veggie stock, stirring until liquid is fully absorbed 
  3. Keep adding stock one cup at a time until risotto is tender 

Kidney bean chilli

Ingredients: 

  • 1 can kidney beans 
  • 1/4 cup red split lentils
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes 
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • Pinch of spices: turmeric, cumin, chilli powder, black pepper 

Steps: 

  1. To be honest I was so busy stirring the risotto and entertaining my baby that I just threw all these ingredients in a pot and cooked them until the carrot was tender! #mumlife

Serve with steamed broccoli for a yummy and healthy plant based dinner! 

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Natural energy! No sleep required.

“Get a good nights sleep”. It’s on every health tip list. But what about when you can’t get a good nights sleep? Like when you have a new baby and you’re lucky to get 3 hours in a row!

As a sleep-deprived new mum, I turned to caffeine and sugar to keep me going through the long, sleepless nights. As I got more and more exhausted, I ate more and more sugar. Finally, I decided to kick the sugar habit and focus on whole food, plant based eating. 

It sucked at first. I missed my sugar crutch. But after a couple weeks I’d get these bursts of joyful energy. And then one morning I woke up and felt happy and full of life. I looked at my Fitbit app wondering if maybe I had dreamt that I was up half the night with a teething 4 month old. Nope. The sleep tracker confirmed the mere 4 hours of sleep I received. But I woke up feeling so good? Maybe it was just a phase? But the next day I woke up ready for the day again and the day after that. Suddenly my days were filled with much more energy and my mood was greatly improved! 

Don’t get me wrong I’m still a Wellingtonian. We love our coffee. I dutifully walk down to the shops for my morning soy flat white each day. But pre-coffee I used to be a grouchy, nonsensical mess and now I’m a happy, normal person! 

I definitely attribute this newfound energy to my whole food, plant based diet. I just wish I had been eating this way all along! 

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Got leftovers? Make quick and easy vegan enchiladas!

Enchiladas are a great go-to recipe to make with leftovers. If you like to make veggie stir-frys or chilis, you can use those leftovers to build a whole new meal! 

Mum tip: An easy way to save time cooking dinner is to stir fry a bunch of veggies at the beginning of the week and then add them to whatever meal you’re making.

Enchiladas Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of leftovers. I like to use a leftover stir fry of red bell peppers, zucchini, corn and spinach
  • 1 can low sodium refried beans (check that they aren’t made with a bunch of oil, a can of black beans works well too)
  • Guacamole or chopped avocado (I make my own guacamole. Store-bought guacamole usually has heaps of salt) 
  • Whole grain tortillas 
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes 
  • A pinch of spices: chili powder, cumin, paprika, black pepper (I usually add tumeric as well because it’s so good for you) 


Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 F)
  2. Place a thin strip of refried beans down the centre of the tortilla 
  3. Add in a few spoonfuls of leftover filling 
  4. Add a pinch of chilli powder, cumin, and black pepper 
  5. Roll tortillas and place on baking tray with the seam facing down 
  6. Cover tortillas evenly with a can of chopped tomatoes and a sprinkling of paprika 
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until edges of the tortillas are crispy brown 
  8. Add guacamole or avocado on top before serving 
  9. Enjoy!

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Lose weight breastfeeding? Yeah right!

If you’re a new mum you’ve probably met at least one skinny woman who has claimed to have lost all their pregnancy weight by breastfeeding. Truth is, most of those women were probably pretty healthy before they had their babies. They claim to eat anything they wanted while breastfeeding, but what they wanted was an extra piece of chocolate not the whole damn slab! 

But breastfeeding burns calories, you say! Yep, that’s what I told myself while shovelling pizza and sweets into my mouth. I’d have to be breastfeeding all the babies in Wellington to burn that many calories! Looking back, I realise that I used having a newborn as an excuse to binge eat. I was stressed, sleep-deprived, and giving myself a free pass to indulge my bad habits (food addicts can always find an excuse to eat, eh?). So I ended up coming out of that 3 month fever dream of new motherhood being just as heavy as the day I gave birth! Man, seeing that number on the scale was a real shitty feeling.

So if you’ve got a problem with food, don’t make the same mistakes as me and delude yourself into thinking breastfeeding will solve all your problems. Instead, find quick, healthy snacks you can eat with one hand (dried fruits, raw bars, etc.). Encourage your family or friends to bring you good meals instead of takeaways and baked goods. Find healthy ways to cope with stress even if it’s as simple as taking 3 deep breaths (sometimes that’s all you’ll have time for). And don’t listen to your skinny mum friends who say they can eat anything they want while breastfeeding! 

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5 ways to create accountability for your health goals

Some people need external accountability to keep them on track. I am definitely one of those people. Maybe it’s the mum in me, but I always seem to show up for others but rarely for myself. My health is the first thing to go out the window when juggling with the priorities of parenting. So here are some ways I’ve created accountability for my health goals:

  1. Share health goals with the people you trust. It can be embarrassing to admit that you’re overweight even when the physical evidence is right there for everyone to see. I found it difficult to even talk to my physically fit husband about my health goals. But if I wanted to change the way my family eats, he needed to be a part of the conversation. How is he supposed to know not to order pizza if I don’t talk to him?! Having the support of others is a huge help for keeping yourself on track. 
  2. Schedule activities. It is easier to stay committed to a scheduled activity than a serendipitous one. It’s hard to find time for fitness with a baby, so I’ve signed up for a “mums n bubs” yoga class and I schedule buggy walks with friends. When you have a four-month-old you’ll always have a good excuse not to do something, so that pre-commitment is key. 
  3. Fitness trackers. When you can’t get to classes or out with friends, fitness trackers can encourage you to stay active. I recently got a Fitbit and I love it! I get competitive comparing my weekly steps with friends (to the point where I’m marching in place while I brush my teeth just to beat my husband). Here are my steps from the other day (I think all parents can relate to the lack of sleep!)
  4. Keep a food diary. Logging your food for the day gives you a chance to reflect on your food choices and find areas for improvement. When you’re rushed off your feet it’s easy to not think about the calories in that muffin you’re eating. Looking back on my day I can see the pitfalls where I need to make some healthier substitutes. The easiest way to do that is to keep all the “bad foods” out of the house. 
  5. Get Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen app. Knowing the right foods to eat is just as important as knowing the ones to avoid. This simple app helps remind you to get all of the good foods into your daily diet. 

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