Tomato and pepper spelt spaghetti with grilled asparagus and brazil nut parmesan | Tips on Veganuary
I’ll be honest and say I felt a little lost as to what to write for this post. It’s been a while since I last posted anything and I’ve found myself becoming so immersed in the Christmas break that I fell back into student mode – long lie-ins and Netflix binges were heavily involved. Now that everything’s back to go, I felt it time to bring about some new content for the blog and thus this beautiful spaghetti recipe was born. However, when it came to writing something to accompany the recipe I was a little out of gear. Inspiration struck when I realised what better topic to write about than Veganuary. The movement was a great success last year and I’m sure many will be signing up again in 2018, so here are some of my little tips for people who are first going vegan, based on my own experience…
1. Check out the Veganuary website.
This website can offer you all of the information you need when going vegan, from nutrition to vegan myths to eating out – it’s a complete guide! www.veganuary.com
2. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Some people may disagree with me on this one, but I think that if you’re attempting to go vegan, sometimes it’s better to ease yourself in. Everyone is different, some people go vegan straight away, some people do it over the course of months or even years. My transition was quick, I went vegan pretty much overnight, with a few small wobbles in the first few weeks. This was my way of doing it, but I do believe that if you put too much pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly, you run the risk of allowing one small slip up to dishearten your efforts altogether. So, if you eat some chocolate with dairy in it in your first week, don’t be too hard on yourself. Concentrate on the main things first like replacing meat, cheese and eggs in meals and then practice being stricter as time goes on. It’s better to make it a process and create habits that last, rather than be perfect for a month and then stop.
3. Up your recipe resources.
Whether from websites, magazines, friends or books, it’s a good idea to find some vegan recipes so that you’re not stuck for what to cook. Below I’ve listed a few of my favourites and a little bit about them:
- Deliciously Ella: Deliciously Ella is probably the most famous plant-based chef. Her recipes are absolutely beautiful. What I love is that the food she creates is totally innovative and the books are so pretty to look through. You can find lots of her recipes on her blog if you want to try before you buy and they’re also all gluten and refined sugar free if that something you’re interested in. Note that some recipes use honey which is not vegan so I often replace this with maple syrup.
- Keep it Vegan by Aine Carlin: This was my favourite recipe book when I first went vegan because it’s very simple. The ingredients are basic enough that you can always find them in the supermarket and the cooking style isn’t too complex.
- Plantbased magazine: You can subscribe to this monthly magazine or just buy one offs. Each copy contains loads of tasty, interesting recipe and information about new vegan food products.
4. Make sure you eat enough.
Plant-based food is usually quite low in calorie density, meaning you could eat a big bowl of bean and veg soup and it’s still only about 350 calories. It might be tempting to stop there as the bulk of food you’ve eaten seems like a lot, but then you run the risk of feeling unsatisfied with a vegan diet and giving the whole thing up. Eating a calorie restricted diet also means you might not receive the nutrients and energy you need. Make sure you always eat when you’re hungry and until you’re completely full. I would recommend sticking to a predominantly whole food diet sufficient in calories.
5. Find replacements.
It can be hard to get to grips with vegan food and cooking when you first start. Finding mock meat and cheese replacements that you like can be a good way to transition to veganism, without having to deal with a massive change straight away. Here are some of my favourite brands and where you can buy them.
- Lynda McCartney – Great vegan sausages, pies, burgers, pulled chicken etc: Available at most UK supermarkets. Some products are only vegetarian so read the label
- Follow Your Heart – Best vegan mayonnaise and mock cheese I’ve tried. Available at Wholefoods and Ocado
- Alpro – A range of dairy-free milks, yoghurts and puddings: You can get this in pretty much any food shop in the UK
- Cauldron – A great range of tofu (ready flavoured) and falafels: Available at most UK supermarkets
- Violife – A great range of vegan cheeses (the taste is that of plastic cheese so great for putting on top on burgers): Available at most UK supermarkets
- Supermarket own brand – When you go to the meat-free section of the supermarkets these days a lot of the supermarket own brand products are often vegan so it’s worth a look
6. Make sure you’re getting the right nutrients.
I think the idea of not getting sufficient nutrients can be a worry for some people when first going vegan. Here are a couple of useful resources in reference to this:
- Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen Checklist: This free app, recently developed by Dr Gregor, contains a checklist of essential plant foods that you should eat everyday for optimum health and well-being. It’s very simple to use and contains descriptions of portion sizes and examples of foods. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dr-gregers-daily-dozen-checklist/
- Cronometer: Cronometer is a great way to track you’re nutrients and calories down to the T, so that you can make sure you’re getting everything you need. https://cronometer.com
So there are my tips on going vegan this January. To summarise, visit www.veganuary.com, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, find recipes, make sure you eat enough, find replacements and track your nutrients! Plus, don’t forget to try the recipe below…
Ingredients (Serves 2):
1/2 red pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
1/2 orange pepper
400g cherry tomatoes
200g spelt spaghetti
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch sea salt and pepper
4 tbsp Brazil nut parmesan
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Roughly chop the peppers and place in a large oven-proof dish. Crush the garlic over the chopped peppers, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Make sure the peppers are coated with everything then place the dish in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes.
2. Chop the woody ends off the asparagus, then spread them out on a new baking tray / oven-proof dish. Coat with 1 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
3. Once the peppers have been in the oven for 20 minutes, take the dish out and add the cherry tomatoes to the dish. Mix them around with the peppers so that they get some of the garlic and oil on them.
4. Place the tomato/pepper dish and the asparagus in the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes.
5. While they cook, make the pasta. Fill a large sauce pan with boiling water, then add the spelt spaghetti, along with some salt. Place the pan on a high heat and cook for about 10 minutes (unless the packet instructions say otherwise.) Once cooked drain the pasta and place back in the sauce pan.
6.When the vegetables have finished roasting, take them out of the oven. Add the tomato/pepper mix to the pasta and mix well, then transfer into bowls. Add the asparagus to the bowls, scoop out the avocado and add that as well. Finally finish by sprinkling on top the Brazil nut parmesan and a little more freshly cracked black pepper.
Brazil nut Parmesan:
1 cup Brazil nuts
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
Pinch sea salt
Add all of the ingredients to a food processor then blitz for about 2 minutes so that the mix resembles breadcrumbs.