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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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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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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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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Making a lifestyle change

So here’s the skinny (pun intended I suppose): a year ago I was newly pregnant, just shy of obesity and living a “fat-tarian” lifestyle of bad vegetarian foods. A year later I’m 10 kilos heavier still and living on a diet of caffeine and sugar to get through the exhaustion of having a young baby. Looming over me is the knowledge that I know how to be healthy, but it is my last priority. I think most mums tend to make themselves the last priority. But I can’t keep on the road I’m on. I want a healthy life and a healthy family and if I don’t want my daughter to follow in my footsteps then I need to make this a priority now, before it’s her habits that need breaking too.

As I sit here feeding my four-month-old, I’m thinking about all of the diets I’ve been on, the countless pounds I’ve gained and lost and gained again, the life I want for my family… I’m reluctant to call my whole-food plant-based journey a “diet”. To me diets are quick fixes, they stop and start and always eventually end. I want to live healthy forever. Starting this food makeover is exciting and encouraging but I worry for the future. I worry about when I’m too tired to cook, when we go out to eat, and when the communal plate of sweets is passed to me at a mothers gathering. Will my conviction be there then? Because we all know starting is the easy part, it’s the sticking to it when the novelty wears off that’s the hard part.

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