To Pea Or Not To Pea – A serving of Rice and Peas, Vegan Protein Shakes. 

One of the first things that people ask when you say you’re thinking of going vegan is, ‘but where will you get your protein from?’

I have to be honest and say that before I looked into it, I was worried about the same thing. The reality is however that since I started, I’ve been checking my protein intake with my fitness pal and there hasn’t been a single day so far that I haven’t managed to hit my protein goal! The power of lentils is truly a remarkable thing.

  
I have an active lifestyle and can teach up to 4 yoga classes a day so it’s imperative that I get enough protein for my muscles to recover and grow. I am a fan of protein powders as they are easily digestible and it gives you an added boost of energy.

I have been taking pea protein for a while and since becoming vegan I have added rice protein too, when mixed together these give you a complete protein which means they contain all the amino acids. Though it’s not crucial to eat complete proteins as the body can store the amino acids, it’s still reassuring to think you have. 

   
 Both pea and rice protein give 80% protein, so that’s 8g of protein for every 10g of powder (one heaped dessert spoon). That’s pretty impressive! There are lots of ways to eat it, you can cook with it and add it to things but I think it gives everything a weird gritty taste so I prefer to spoon it in a cup add some water and down it. This way I’m getting my water too. 

  
Now let’s get one thing straight, it doesn’t taste amazing, these aren’t your chocolate flavoured whey protein milkshakes, this is essentially cold pea and rice powdered soup, but it isn’t unbearable, I even secretly like it and you definitely get used to it! My cat is obsessed with it, (I don’t let him eat it but he wails for it and tried to knock it out my hand so he can lick it up), which I always think is a good sign.

  
I buy mine from Farplace Animal Rescue, it’s a bit more expensive than if I bought it from Amazon but it’s nice to think your money is saving animals and not lining the pockets of tax dodgers (not that I’m above shopping at Amazon but I like to avoid it if I can).

Do you use protein powders? What’s your favourite vegan protein?

  

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Quick Vegan Chocolate Mousse For The Lazy, Greedy Vegan

I’m an evening snacker, I try not to be but I am. Before vegan April we were terrible for grabbing a chocolate bar from the co op on the way home (I’m partial to a wispa). 

I was kind of looking forward to not being able to to that, imagining that I would never snack again. In reality what happened was I ended up with my head in the cupboard desperately looking for something I could turn into a vegan chocolaty snack. This is what I came up with and it was divine!!

  

Ingredients  
Half an avacado per person,

A squirt of golden syrup

Some cacao powder

  
Method

Blend those little critters together. Done. Eat.

 

Is it going to win any beauty contests? No, of course it’s not. Is it bloody lovely?? Yes.

What’s your favourite quick treat?

   

For The Love of Pease Pudding – The Geordie Hummous 

Pease Pudding, is there a single more evocative taste? Whether it’s spread on a thick Stottie with butter or next to a big chunk of ham, nothing quite says the North East like it.

It’s also pretty amazing for vegans too, at 5.5g of protein for every 100g spreading it on toast is an easy way to add some protein to your lunch. 

Traditionally it’s cooked in the juices of a ham, which makes it decidedly not vegan but luckily for us most shop bought pease pudding is cooked in vegetable stock, or even water these days, so tuck in! (But read the label just in case)

For those of you who prefer it hot (rather than cold, or in a pot ten days old), here is the recipe.

Ingredients 

400g of yellow split peas

150g water

Bay leaf

1 stock cube

Method

Soak the peas overnight

Bring to a simmer in saucepan and scim white froth off the top.

Add stock cube and simmer for an hour and a half or until all the lentils have disintegrated into a mush (is that a word? You know what I mean)

Beat with a wooden spoon until it becomes a paste

Put in container of your choice and let it cool

And there you have it, pease pudding – the Geordie Hummous! 

 This is how I eat mine

 

An Early Test for Andy at The Fat Hippo

My first outing as a vegan without my wife was a tough experience. A prearranged evening with friends, organised well before myself and Jo agreed to try being vegan during the month of April, meant I was committed to eating at Newcastle’s The Fat Hippo Underground on Saturday night.
The Fat Hippo Underground, for those that don’t know, is a restaurant based on Shakespeare Street in the centre of town which specialises in burgers, fries and slaws. It promises customers that visit its cosy, low-lit underground den the opportunity to ‘sink your teeth into something juicy’ and its menu is unsurprisingly packed with beef, often smothered with cheese, accompanied by mayonnaise soaked salads and slaws and ‘dirty fries’ topped with bacon. 
Thankfully, The Fat Hippo Underground does cater for those that follow meat and dairy alternative diets. The menu has, as all restaurants do, a dedicated vegetarian section and impressively, a separate menu for gluten and dairy free as well as vegan customers.
It is worth noting, however, that when the waiter scurried back to our table with the pre-prepared ‘alternative’ menu, he apologetically pointed out to me the lack of options available to those who don’t want to gorge themselves in what is effectively a meat-eaters paradise. That’s fair enough.

  
The options were indeed minimal, with only the spicy bean burger being suitable for my trial palate, which I could have with either normal or sweet potato fries as well as a plain salad.
The bean burger, when it arrived, was noticeably considerably smaller than its beef counterparts being eaten with glee by my six carnivorous friends and if I’m being completely honest, it didn’t have any unique identifying features that could set it aside from your average frozen, supermarket attempt.

  
At the end of the day though, I’m not really complaining. The Fat Hippo isn’t a vegan restaurant and at least makes the effort to cater for vegan guests. A good night was had and I was satisfyingly full and proud not to have given in to temptation this early in the month.

 

 

Saturday Sushi

It’s a Saturday night, the husband has gone out so there’s only one this to do, order Sushi!
There is nothing better than spending a Saturday night on your own watching telly with a cat on your knee and a big pile of sushi on the table. I know, it’s hardly rock’n’roll but I like it.

I love sushi, and I was sure this was the thing I was going to miss the most when I went vegan. I know that you could get lots of veggie sushi but wasn’t sure how vegan friendly it was. I was so convinced that I was going to be deprived of it that the last non vegan meal I had was to go for Sushi and eat piles and piles of it!

So without much hope I went on the Nudo Sushi website and was delighted to find that they put the allergens next to each thing you can order so you can clearly see what is suitable for vegans, and I was even more delighted to see that there was loads I could order. In fact I think I got so excited I ordered waaaay more sushi than I needed.

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Whoops!

 

I had Vegetable Temaki

Vegetable Gyoza

Avocado Maki

Cucumber Maki

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Mango and Asparagus Salad

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It was all totally delicious and I’ve had to put some in the fridge for tomorrow. My highlight was the Avocado Maki.

It makes me really happy that I’m not going to be deprived, and this is my current view.

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Heaven!

Cheatin Bacon – Review

It’s a cliche for a reason, bacon is  my weakness. Many a spell of being vegan or veggie in the past have ended with me biting into a hot bacon roll, it’s so predictable that it’s sad.

I was brought up veggie so I am familiar with bacon substitutes, the fake bacon of my childhood still makes me gag thinking about it. Thick cut, beany, with a fake smoky plasticy taste, like someone left a bacon flavoured crayon on a radiator. Vile, but that was 20 years ago so you’d hope that the world of bacon substitutes would have moved on somewhat since then.

With most substitutes I find that they work better if you don’t expect them to taste like the original, you need to judge them in the their own right. I think of them as things that can be eaten in place of, rather than things that taste like. So with this in mind I went looking for something I could happily eat hungover and with loads of ketchup.

I bought my Cheatin Bacon from the Honeytree on Heaton Road  


I love this shop, and it’s so handy for me being just down the road. 

In order to test the Cheatin Bacon I decided to a traditional, no frills, bacon sarnie.

 
The bacon was easy to cook, you just fry each side for a minute and a half, I used the pure soya spread as oil because I’m lazy and I already had it out of the fridge. I only used half a teaspoon as I don’t like greasy bacon anyway. 

  
When it was cooked I piled it on some bread that I had smothered in soya spread and tomato sauce, pretty standard sarnie craic.

   

The bacon was very pleasant, not the horror of veggie bacon past. It had a crunch to it and a faint ‘bacony’  taste. Certainly did the trick as a filling in a ketchup sandwich. 

Did it taste like bacon? No, not at all, and I wasn’t really expecting it to but it was nice in its own right.

Would I buy it again? Definitely.

Marks out of ten. 7/10

First Day of Vegan April and A Trip to Kelso

We had a bit of a baptism of fire for the first day of Vegan April. We had booked a night away to a stately home in the boarders of Scotland with the in-laws to celebrate their Ruby Wedding anniversary. We had booked this before we had thought of doing Vegan April and had chosen the hotel for their restaurant, famous for it’s fresh trout and salmon from the river Tweed, not exactly great vegan material. To be totally honest there was part of me that wanted to just start a day later, but you could end up doing that forever and never ever starting, so we decided to suck it up and deal with it!
However I was a bit nervous, especially because this was the first time we had to ‘come out’ as vegan to our parents and we were prepared for a lot of jokes and questions. Credit where credit is due though, they were very nice and other than a couple of steak jokes, I was very touched by their interest and support.

I started the day with a big bowl of Alpro Soya Coconut Yoghurt, Mixed Nuts and Seeds, and a glass of Pulsin Pea Protein. It wasn’t that different to how I would normally start my day, I LOVE my pea protein and will be doing a whole blog on that very shortly.
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Then we got in the car and drove to Jedburgh where we looked around the Mary Queen of Scot’s Museum. My in laws had kindly brought us sandwiches to eat in the car but because they didn’t know we were vegan they were salmon and egg so we weren’t able to eat them,  we stayed strong, had a packet of lightly salted crisps and decided to grab some lunch in Kelso instead.
We didn’t have high hopes for what would be available and we decided to look for somewhere we could grab a baked potato with baked beans, however we were blown away by the vegan offerings Kelso had available. We stumbled across Cafe U just a short walk away from the main square which had a large and delicious vegan menu.

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I went for the Salad Platter with Humous and Meze and it was DELICIOUS!

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We were so full after, we had a short look around the Abbey in Kelso and waddled back to Edman House Hotel where we were staying.
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The hotel was lovely, it was very charming full of antiques and quirky furniture. Our room was cosy (but not small) and beautifully decorated.

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I didn’t know what to expect for the evening meal, I had contacted the hotel in advance to let them know we were vegan but as it is a restaurant which specialises in fish we didn’t expect they got many vegans in. I was just hoping they’d have something we could eat!

We got mixed roasted vegetable soup for a starter, which was much nicer than it looks.

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And the main course didn’t exactly blow my socks of but it was perfectly ok, we got a mixed vegetable medley.

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We washed it all down with a couple of glasses of Prosecco and we were too full to have a pudding, but we could have had a fruit salad if we’d wanted it.

All in all I was really happy with my first day as a vegan and I didn’t feel like I missed out at all which is what I worried about.
I’m really excited about trying new places and discovering all the vegan delights on offer!