Vegan ice cream made from.. bananas?!

I know I said my next post would be tips for veganizing your breakfast BUT I haven’t had the time this week to write it properly and I didn’t want to do a half-hearted effort. So I decided to share a recipe instead for a tasty summer treat that I made this morning.

Neopolitan banana “nice cream”

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Sorry about the photo quality (not quite got the hang of Instagram filters yet..) but you get the idea. This is a great ice cream alternative for those looking to avoid dairy or just eat better this summer. Although they are mostly known for being high in potassium, bananas are also an excellence source of vitamin C, manganese, B vitamins and fibre. And of course the carbohydrates that our body and brain need to function at their best! You can find out more about the benefits of bananas here.

Anyway, back to the recipe – it really is perfect for a healthy dessert or weekend breakfast if you have a sweet tooth like me!

Prep time: 20 mins (+ 1 day for freezing fruit)

Ingredients:

4 medium bananas – ripened till yellow and spotty then frozen

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1/2 cup soy milk

1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 tsp vanilla essence

Optional – If like me you are trying to build muscle or if you want to have this as a meal and want more “staying power” you can add vegan protein powder to the layers (I use PsychoProtein pea isolate but there are lots of other dairy free options!)

Method:

This really is the simplest recipe ever. Basically for each layer you just blend the ingredients in a food processor or blender until it reaches a smooth “whippy ice cream” texture. I used a food processor and had to stop and use a spoon to scrape the bits off the edges a couple of times. Because I am lazy I put the vanilla at the bottom to minimise washing up but you can do this in whatever order you like!

Bottom layer – 1/3 of the frozen bananas, splash of soy milk & vanilla essence (vanilla protein powder optional)

Middle layer – 1/3 of the frozen bananas, splash of soy milk & frozen berries (strawberry protein powder optional)

Top layer – 1/3 of the frozen bananas, splash of soy milk & cocoa powder

Layer up your “nice cream” as you go in a jar or whatever container you wish to use. I washed out a pasta sauce jar and used that – go recycling! You can either eat it straight away or pop it in the freezer for 30 mins or so if you prefer a firmer texture. If you want to get fancy you could add toppings just as chocolate sauce or desiccated coconut or even sprinkle some ground seeds or nuts for an extra nutrient boost!

I haven’t tried this but if you want to make a nutritious family dessert to share you could double up on the ingredients and layer the nice cream horizontally in a tupperware box. If you freeze this for a couple of hours you should be able to scoop it like soft serve ice cream.

You can also experiment with different flavours and combinations..  the options are endless. Sometime in the future I will do a post about the best flavours I have discovered. But for now – enjoy!

Amy x

 

 

 

What do vegans eat?

This is normally the first question I get asked when I tell people I am vegan. Except it’s usually more like “What do you EAT?!?!”

It can be quite frustrating having to explain myself all of the time. Watching people’s eyebrows raise higher and higher as I tell them I don’t eat meat. Or fish. Or dairy. Or eggs. Etc etc. But I do understand the confusion as these items form the majority of the western diet these days.

When it comes to the foundations of a plant based diet I usually ease people in gently with the obvious (fruits and vegetables) then keep luring them in with everyone’s favourite carbs (bread, rice, pasta) then finish up with the slightly more hippy lentils, beans and seeds.

The best thing is that pretty much anything can be “veganized”. Before I changed up my diet I have to admit my cooking skills were pretty limited. Even if you aren’t a disaster in the kitchen, if you are used to cooking with animal products it is a huge change. But I have great news! As a vegan you can still enjoy all your favourite foods, it just requires a little more thought in the beginning.

One of the first things I did was buy myself a few vegan recipe books. I’m not sure why as before that I had only ever owned a “one pot meals for students” kind of cookbook that my parents bought for me when I went to university (probably in the hope that I would cook for them when I came home to visit..). I guess I just had in my head the idea that many people do, that a vegan diet is bland and restrictive. But this is all wrong!

Most of my favourite go-to meals have come from a book called “Thug kitchen: Eat like you give a f*ck!“. This is pretty much my kitchen bible at the moment. It has recipes for veggie burgers, burritos, tacos, curries, pasta dishes as well as loads of ideas for sides, soups and salad dressings. The first thing I made was a dairy-free “cheesy” pasta. Despite arguments with my colleagues about whether I could call it “cheesy” if it doesn’t contain cheese, it tasted great!

I have even dabbled a little in vegan baking although it has never been a real passion of mine. There are tons of websites, blogs with tips and ideas for how to replace eggs and dairy in traditional recipes and even more for inherently vegan cakes, biscuits etc. Shout out to my friend Paul who actually made me a vegan birthday cake and also a vegan “cheesecake” which was delicious!

Shop-bought snacks I suppose have been a little more difficult. I didn’t realise just how many common snack foods contain eggs and dairy as well as other hidden animal products. Luckily in the early days I stumbled across this list of “accidentally vegan” foods by PETA so I have never really felt deprived. And when I do stumble across new vegan products I get so excited – it has definitely given me a whole new appreciation for the food that I eat.

Far from being restrictive, I have actually found that going vegan has opened up a whole new world of foods for me. Before I would tend to eat similar meals from week to week and was always quite limited with my food choices. Now I experiment with recipes every week and I am always trying out new ingredients and food combinations.

If you are thinking this all sounds like a bit too much hard work, as well as this I have found a few go-to meals that I can make quickly and without much thought. In my next few posts I will look at Breakfast, Lunch and Dinners – the common food swaps and the types of foods I usually eat during the week.

Even small changes to your diet can have a huge impact on the environment and your health!

If you have any questions or want advice on a particular topic please let me know. Otherwise I hope you find the next few posts useful!

Amy x

 

How I got Veganized

As a child I don’t remember being a fussy eater. In fact the only food I can remember outright refusing to eat is mushy peas (if my cousins are reading this – you know what I mean!). I ate pretty much what I was given without complaint. I wasn’t a huge fan of red meat but I would eat it if my Mum cooked it for me. I had milk on my cereal every morning. I don’t think I ate eggs regularly but they certainly weren’t something I avoided.

Once I got to high school I became a lot more health conscious. I joined a gym and started to watch what I ate. I replaced the dairy products I ate with low fat versions and cut out fattier processed meats like bacon and sausages. By this point I was preparing most of my own meals and tended to stick to lean meats (mostly chicken) and fish. I also hugely cut down my carbohydrate intake but I’ll talk more about that at a later date. I kept this up for a few years and lost some weight along the way..

I was never severely underweight but it must have been below what my body was comfortable with – on a couple of occasions I fainted in public which was quite embarrassing! Anyway, the relevance of this is that it prompted me to see a doctor who gave me the advice “you just need a good spag bol”. I don’t think this transformed me overnight but it did lead to me introducing red meat back into my diet. Somewhere along the line I even realised that I loved steak when it was cooked properly (sorry Mum)!

I also started to eat more eggs and rediscovered the joys of ice cream and full-fat greek yoghurt. Don’t get me wrong I did eat a lot of veggie food, particularly at university. I would usually go for a veggie burger over a beef burger and for some reason I always preferred soy milk (I think because it’s sweeter) on cereal or in coffee. But these were just personal preferences because I liked the taste. I definitely got to a healthier weight but I never really developed a healthy relationship with food. My hair and nails never grew and although I never had a huge acne problem my skin was never as good as I would have liked it to be. My digestion was pretty poor and even though I was happy doing things I love I just never really felt at my best physically.

It wasn’t until September 2015 that I started to reduce my meat intake again. I would like to say it was due to some watershed event that opened up my eyes to the ethics of consuming animal products, however in reality it was entirely selfish. I had chronic gastritis and dairy and red meats were amongst the (long) list of foods to avoid. I did a lot of research around this time into different diets and somehow stumbled across the vast number of people on Youtube sharing their stories of healing on a plant based diet.

I watched endless videos and documentaries and my eyes were opened to not only animal rights issues but the damaging effects of animal agriculture on the environment and our bodies. Before long I was converted. One night I even dreamed that I was vegan – this might seem stupid but I don’t normally remember any of my dreams so I thought I better pay attention. I pretty much changed my diet overnight. I still had a few lapses, mainly when eating out with friends, and I do remember the last meat that I ate which was back at the beginning of November! Since then I have followed a 99.9% plant based diet with no looking back. I feel healthier than I have in a long time and it just feels RIGHT.

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I look back now and I wonder how I managed to live 22 years of my life without even thinking about these issues. I won’t say that it has been easy to go against everything I have been taught and have believed in all of my life but I know that I have made the right decision. If you find yourself feeling uneasy when you think about eating animals: maybe you feel queasy when handling raw meat or you prefer not to think about fluffy lambs as you tuck into your curry. Or if you just don’t feel like your current lifestyle is working for you then perhaps you will find what I have to say in the coming posts interesting.

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to post below and I will answer as best as I can. I look forward to hearing from you!

Amy

Introduction – why I am here

Hello and welcome to my blog! For those that don’t know me personally, my name is Amy and I am a 23 year old recent graduate currently living in the UK.

Not too long ago I made the life changing decision to adopt a plant-based lifestyle. The most obvious part of this decision to those around me was that I stopped consuming animal products, notably meat, dairy and eggs. Suddenly every social event involved 101 questions and the mental turmoil about the best way to answer them.

We all know the stereotype of the preachy vegan…

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Jokes aside it is really difficult to find the balance between explaining the reasons behind your choices and insulting others for theirs. This is the main reason for me starting this blog. I wanted to create a place to share the information that has led me to where I am today – at least this way anyone who disagrees can easily click the X in the corner of the screen and we can continue our lives, no offense taken.

I also hope that in sharing some of the top tips and recipes I have picked up along the way I can help any of you thinking about transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle on your own journey. Because it is just that, a journey. I am still learning myself and trying to make better choices each day.

I really do believe this is one of the best decisions we can make for the environment, the animals and for our own health. Although veganism can be tough at times (more of that in later posts), I can honestly say that it is way easier than I expected. Once you start to realise the benefits it becomes addictive! It is pretty much a hobby for me these days, learning how to cook tasty meals and sourcing ethical products is a fun challenge and it is great to know I am making a difference.

So I think we have come to the end of my first blog. My next post will probably be a quick background to how I came to veganism and where I am right now in my journey. If you have any specific questions or topics you would like me to address, please let me know in the comments and I will try to post about it soon. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Amy