3 Awesome Tofu Recipes You Need to Try

tofu and soya beans

If you recently discovered tofu and want some ideas about ways to cook it, this post is definitely for you. If you think you dislike tofu, this post is also for you. After all, it used to be the case for me until this year… It’s never too late to change your mind. And if you’re a tofu lover and already an expert, keep reading… You might still be inspired, who knows!

First of all, it’s important to keep an open mind when you try something new (especially when it comes to food). I used to really dislike tofu, but it plays a huge part in a plant-based diet. I had to ignore my childhood’s memories and at least give it another go as an adult. The first time I cooked with it was a complete fail… It took me 2 or 3 attempts before I mastered it. But I persisted, and now I’m glad I didn’t give up so easily.

What is tofu?

Tofu is made from dried soybeans that are soaked in water, crushed, and boiled. Then the curdled fresh soya milk is pressed into a solid block and cooled… It’s not far from the process used for dairy cheese, made by curdling and solidifying milk. Except it’s healthier for you! This solid white block comes in varying softness: it can be silken, soft, firm, or extra firm.

Health benefits

It’s a great source of protein, probably one of the main reasons why it’s such a staple in a vegetarian / vegan diet. It also contains all nine essential amino acids, as well as magnesium, copper and zinc. In addition to this, tofu is a valuable plant source of iron and calcium. Can we say it’s healthier than meat? Yes, because just like meat, soy provides an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals – but without the cholesterol and saturated fat. Not to mention it’s a lot lower in calories. Basically, it can replace foods that may compromise your health.

Cooking with tofu

Tofu is pretty bland on its own, which makes it a very versatile ingredient. It will soak in any flavours you want to give it. But it could be a bit intimidating for beginners: how do you learn how to cook with it? Trying with my own ingredients didn’t work well, I had no idea what sauce and/or spice to add with it. So I decided to try a recipe box to give me a good basic knowledge, using Mindful Chef. They have a good range of recipes and you get delivered the exact quantities you need for each ingredient. It’s really convenient when you’re not sure what you’re doing at the beginning.

Below are 3 ways to cook tofu I recently learnt, thanks to them. I have to say I was really impressed with the results. Maybe it tasted even better because I put the effort in… For the 3 recipes below, indicated quantities are always for 2 people. I used the organic super-firm tofu from Dragonfly (300g) each time, which is really easy to find in any supermarket.

1. Tofu & apricot harissa tagine with quinoa

tofu apricot harissa

Here, it’s the apricot harissa that gives the main flavour to the dish. The method is simple: cut the tofu in cubes and add to a pan on medium-high heat with 1/2 tbsp oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes to briefly colour all sides. Then you can add the sauce you mixed beforehand: 2 large diced tomatoes, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 2 tbsp apricot harissa paste and 50ml boiled water. It melts in the mouth and the after taste is the right mix of tomato and spice.

Add a bit of coriander if you like, and 20g of flaked almonds for the presentation. For the sides: 180g of green beans and 250g of quinoa are a good option. Total calories per person: 586.

2. Mexican-style beans with scrambled tofu & avocado

tofu scrambled eggs

Eggs are not part of a plant-based diet, so I was really excited to try the tofu version. You just have to scramble it into small pieces with your fingers. Then cook it in a pan on medium heat with 1/2 tbsp oil. Stir for 10 minutes with a pinch of black pepper and 1/2 tsp turmeric, until it turns golden. Then add in 1 tbsp nutritional yeast and a pinch of chilli flakes. It tastes amazing!

The other ingredients added many colours on the plate and made the entire meal very appealing. You need 1 avocado and 120g baby plum tomatoes mixed with a handful of fresh coriander. For the Mexican-style beans: 240g kidney beans, 1 tbsp Mexican spice, 4 tbsp tomato puree and 40g baby spinach. Total calories per person: 573.

3. Sesame tofu & rice bowl

tofu in buddha bowl

Finally, if you fancy a salad-type meal, this recipe is great and doesn’t require much cooking. Tofu is cooked like in the first recipe but cut in triangles instead (or whatever shape you fancy, after all). For the dressing: peel and grate 4cm fresh ginger and add 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp maple syrup and 1 tbsp rice vinegar. Mix well and add in the saucepan once the tofu has turned golden in colour.

Simply cook 250g brown basmati rice for the base. And for the rest of the salad: grate 100g carrot, thinly slice 1 baby cucumber and 60g radishes. You could also add some kimchi or anything else you want. Sprinkle some sesame seeds for the final touch. That’s it! Total calories per person: 481.

Do any of these 3 recipes take your fancy?

If you’re convinced about the many health benefits of tofu and want to explore further, you can easily find online tons of other great tofu recipes. Let me know how you cook it!

Big Girl x

Is Your Food Colourful Enough? How to Improve Your Health With Nutrition

How colourful is your food

If humans can see colours so well, it’s because it’s actually important for us to pay attention to them in our diet. Cooking is an art, the most colourful plates are also the most appealing. And we are more likely to enjoy eating an attractive meal! As it’s recommended to eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day, this section itself represents over a third of the food we eat each day. So let’s go through each colour category and what it actually means for us.

White

White Food

Vegetables in this category include: cauliflower, garlic, shallots, onions, leeks, parsnips, white beans (cannellini, lima beans, navy beans, soybeans), potatoes, brown lentils, mushrooms. Fruits in this category include: bananas (considered white), pears, lychees, white peaches, white nectarine.

Properties and health benefits: White foods get their pigment from anthoxanthins, which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Mushrooms, parsnips and bananas are also good sources of potassium, an important mineral for normal heart and muscle function. White fruits and vegetables protect against certain cancers, keep bones strong, and are a heart-healthy choice.

Note: despite being a vegetable, potatoes don’t count in the recommended 5-a-day because they’re classed as a starchy food (from a nutrition perspective). Although, they are an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium! Just avoid adding fat when cooking them and eat the skin for extra fibre.

Yellow

Yellow Food

Vegetables in this category include: butternut squash, swede, yellow peppers, sweetcorn. Fruits in this category include: honeydew melon, lemons, pineapple.

Properties and health benefits: yellow foods are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Yellow peppers contain nutrients (lutein and zeaxanthin) that help prevent and slow the progression of eye disease.

Orange

Orange Food

Vegetables in this category include: carrots, orange peppers, pumpkin, sweet potatoes. Fruits in this category include: cantaloupe melon, mangoes, nectarines, apricots.

Properties and health benefits: orange foods are high in carotenoids, converted to vitamin A in the body. It helps us make hormones and keeps our eyes healthy (just in case you were wondering why people say that “eating carrots will help you see in the dark”). Apart from carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potato are all good sources of vitamin A.

Note: yellow and orange categories are often put together because of their similar properties. Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges are low in vitamin A but high in vitamin C, which helps with the absorption of iron and wound healing, as well as protecting cells from damage. Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables improve immune function, reduce the risk of heart disease and promote eye health.

Red

Red Food

Vegetables in this category include: radishes, red peppers, red beans, beets, rhubarb. Fruits in this category include: cherries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, red apples, tomatoes, watermelon, pomegranate.

Properties and health benefits: red foods contain antioxidants, reported to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Lycopene gives red foods their colour. Red fruits and vegetables help fight cancer, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease as well as improving skin quality.

Green

Green Food

Vegetables in this category include: asparagus, avocados, celery, courgettes, cucumbers, leeks, lettuce, green peas, brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli. Fruits in this category include: green apples, green grapes, limes, kiwis.

Properties and health benefits: green foods get their colour from chlorophyll but are also rich in other nutrients, like sulforaphane and glucosinolate. They may help protect against blood-vessel damage and certain cancers. Green fruits and vegetables boost the immune system, help detoxify the body, restore energy and vitality. By far the healthiest, you can’t go wrong with this colour.

Blue/Purple

Blue / Purple Food

Vegetables in this category include: red cabbage, eggplant, black olives. Fruits in this category include: blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, purple grapes, purple plums, prunes.

Properties and health benefits: blue and purple foods get their colour from powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. They may have a role in protecting cells from damage. Blue and purple fruits and vegetables fight cancer and unwanted inflammation and help keep you young.

References:

Everyone loves a good rainbow! Don’t forget to eat varied colours to guarantee a healthy diet! (I’m not talking about skittles…). You can also check this super useful infographic about the benefits of eating the rainbow.

Is your food colourful enough?

Big Girl x

Surprising Things I Discovered After Going Vegan for a Month

Every year since 2014, some people commit to Veganuary by adopting a vegan diet for a month – in January. I would have never considered it in the past but this year I was intrigued… We all have preconceived ideas about the unknown, so why not try and see if they’re actually valid? And if it’s the most effective way to save the planet, it’s probably worth keeping an open mind. But not at all costs! Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life, I want to keep enjoying it. Sticking to what you know is always easier… So let me tell you the main 3 things I learnt after trying it myself for a month:

1. It’s actually quite easy to eat vegan every day

If your main reason for going vegan is the environment and/or the animals, then it’s not difficult to stick to it. First of all, many popular foods are already vegan (potatoes, rice, pasta, fruits…). Treats and things that are not especially good for you (like biscuits, sweets, etc) are easy to fit in a vegan diet too, if you read the labels properly. Secondly, more and more companies diversify their range to offer vegan options. Meat alternatives are everywhere nowadays (especially in big cities like London) so it’s really not difficult to avoid animal products. They’re not always the healthiest as some of them are highly processed, but they are a great way to help you while you’re transitioning. You won’t have to eat fries everyday to have a clear conscience.

Basically, if your health is not the main reason, the switch will be relatively easy. It’s when you want to have a healthy and balanced diet (as you should) that things can get a bit more complicated… Especially if you’re a fussy eater like me. But even that turned out to be a lot easier that I anticipated.

2. A vegan diet is very varied and not boring at all

If you asked me several months ago what I thought about a vegan diet, I would have said I wasn’t interested in eating lettuce everyday. I didn’t understand how you could enjoy life with “boring” food. I thought it was a sacrifice not worth doing. It was made worse by the fact I’ve always disliked vegetables (especially the green ones…).

Now I wish I did it sooner

Take it from someone who had a lot of negative opinions about veganism not so long ago. Someone who would never willingly put vegetables on their plate… I realise how ignorant I was to have never tried most of the foods available! Don’t get me wrong, it seems daunting to remove from your diet all products derived from animals. Because they’re literally everywhere. But I can honestly tell you I eat a lot more varied now than I ever have in my entire life.

I’m always looking forward to my next meal

I now feel I have almost too much choice when I prepare the food plan for the week. Before it was a lot easier to plan our meals, it was always the same thing (roast chicken, beef burger or salmon, with either rice, fries or pasta). Now I feel like I should do a food plan for the entire month, just so I can fit in everything I fancy. And my cupboards have never been so full of varied things!

In fact, I added so many things in my diet by going vegan. Things I didn’t even know existed. Things I’m now willing to try because I realised I don’t even know what it tastes like. It also forces me to play more with spices and sauces, giving amazing flavours to every meal.

3. Eating cruelty-free makes food more enjoyable

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that no animals have been killed to feed me… But something makes the whole eating experience very rewarding. You know when you feel guilty after eating too much for example? It’s usually because you know it’s not good for your body to overeat. But I wonder if it could also be because most of the time food industries control what you eat, not you. By cooking with plants I don’t experience that guilt anymore. And eating used to make me feel a bit lethargic after each meal… Like I would need all of my body’s energy just to digest it. That feeling is gone too.

Eating vegan also makes cooking more enjoyable, because I don’t have to deal with what used to put me off before: blood from a steak, nerves from chicken, fat from bacon, etc. When I cook with raw ingredients only involving plants, the smell in the kitchen feels a lot more “natural”. I eat more for less calories and feel full for longer, without any sluggish feeling afterwards. It means I have more energy and feel “lighter” at the same time. It’s a win in all aspects!

Other things I discovered:

  • Because I eat a lot more fibre than I used to, my digestive system has improved a lot (my guts are happier)
  • I haven’t missed meat at all, not once…
  • Cooking with tofu is actually quite fun, it’s such a versatile ingredient and an excellent source of proteins
  • I would pick a plant-based burger over a beef burger without hesitation
  • Cauliflower can be an amazing snack
  • Cashews are used a lot in vegan meals to give a cheesy flavour
  • We can “learn” to appreciate healthy food and even thrive for it
  • I get to be more creative with my cooking skills and it makes me feel proud when my partner enjoys a home-cooked meal – I can’t wait to invite friends & family to try
  • There is so much more to vegan food than simply tofu, cauliflower and cashews… These are my personal favourites for now, but I still have so much more to experience and discover (a month is far from being enough!)

Going forward

I considered Veganuary like a test and I passed it. So I’ve decided, I’m not going back to my previous diet! Why would I even consider eating meat again with all the benefits I discovered from a plant-based diet? Long term, the only thing I may find hard to never eat again is salmon. It’s difficult because it’s an obvious source of omega-3 and also it tastes great (I especially love salmon sushi). It’s still an animal product though! And if we don’t do anything, our oceans will be empty in the next few decades. It’s as simple as that. Making the wrong choice would be a way to contribute to this huge killing machine that is destroying our planet.

Would you not consider changing your eating habits if it meant saving the planet, the animals and yourself at the same time?

Big Girl x

Veganuary: A Great Way to Start the Year

Veganuary, A Good Way to Start the Year

Veganism is on the rise… Could it be because of 2020 events, leading many people to realise the effects of climate change and/or the importance of being healthy? I don’t know about you but that was definitely the trigger for me. I started doing more research about our impact on the environment and how we could save the planet. David Attenborough contributed a lot in people’s awareness with his movie “A life on our planet” where he advised everyone to adopt a more sustainable diet based on plants. Veganuary (Vegan + January) aims at educating non-vegans about veganism by creating a community of people who will share their feedback, tips and recipes throughout the month. Veganism is actually way more than just a diet but I’m going to focus only on food & nutrition in this post.

Why is it a good idea to take part in Veganuary?

It gives you the opportunity to try something new

If you eat a lot of meat and dairy (like I used to), it seems daunting to stop consuming any products derived from animals. You’re probably thinking: “It includes too many foods I love, how can I be happy eating lettuce every day? I want to keep enjoying food and have a normal social life! It’s not worth such a huge sacrifice”. Veganuary is here to give you the opportunity to be open-minded and try a vegan diet just for a month, with the help of people who have done it before. How many times have you had a strong opinion on something before even trying, then changed your mind after you finally tried?

It’s the right time to do it

There are 3 possible reasons why someone would decide to become vegan (even for a month): for the environment, for the animals, and/or for their own health. I think it’s extremely important to know and remember why you’re doing it. To me, it would be all of these reasons. Not everyone would find this diet suitable (and that’s fair enough), but at the very least everyone should open their eyes on what it’s really about. Switching to a diet powered only by plants is like re-learning everything you thought you knew about food & nutrition. It’s quite difficult in a non-vegan and extremely industrialised world where meat and dairy are everywhere. My main concern is how it will impact my social life when eating out. But we are being locked down anyway (at least in England…) so it’s actually the perfect time to do it!

There is a huge community online here to help

This month, more than 500,000 people committed online to do Veganuary and we can expect even more people doing it by themselves without signing up. It breaks the record of 400,000 people who registered in January 2020, across 192 countries. It means the food industry has to follow the trend and offer more interesting no-meat options, more restaurants will offer additional vegan meals, etc. There are tonnes of vegan recipes online and advice on where to start, but what’s better than a community of open-minded non-vegans who share their own tips & feedback on their findings? It’s not always that obvious what’s vegan or not, so there are also some mobile apps and tools online to help you check if you have any doubts: isitvegan.net, doublecheckvegan.com or barnivore.com (for alcoholic drinks).

The impact it had over the past 7 years is powerful

Since Veganuary was created in 2014, this is the impact the previous one million participants had on the planet:

  • 103,840 tonnes of CO2eq saved – which is equivalent to driving around the world almost 15,000 times
  • 405 tonnes of PO43-eq (eutrophication) saved – which is the same as 1,645 tonnes of sewage
  • 6.2 million litres of water saved – which is the same as flushing the toilet almost half a million times
  • more than 3.4 million animals were saved

Even if you’re not prepared to make such a drastic change in your life, think about how much positive impact it would already have to do it just for a month! And who knows, you might feel healthier too.

vegan food platter

Becoming aware takes a lot of intellectual humility

There are many preconceived ideas when it comes to veganism. I would know because I was among the ones who thought they would never be converted… ever. And yet today I’m writing about veganuary and why you should do it too. Everything changed in my head after I did my own research and found out I was wrong. Until then, I made the mistake to automatically discount any information that was conflicting my own beliefs, even if it was objectively more credible. So I wanted to share 3 important facts:

You don’t need to eat meat to get enough proteins

“Where do you find your proteins?” is a very common question, because we’ve been told our whole life that proteins only come from animal products. Now I know it upsets vegetarians & vegans and I finally understand why. Plants do have all the essential amino acids we need in our daily protein requirements. Think about it this way: if all creatures need protein to live, then where are the plant-eating animals (such as cows, bulls or oxen to name just a few) getting their protein from? The answer is simple: plants.

You don’t need to drink dairy milk to get enough calcium

Most of us were encouraged to drink milk to get strong bones, because it’s a great source of calcium. It was definitely a big part of my childhood, until I realised I didn’t digest it very well. Not surprising, given the fact that 70% of the global population is indeed lactose intolerant. It strikes the question: do we really need dairy milk? I don’t think so, especially if we look at the many alternatives we have available that are way healthier and at least as rich in calcium than dairy. I compared 4 vegan milks in this post if you’re wondering which one you should go for.

Vegan food is actually very varied

The main reason I always discarded a vegetarian, or even worse, vegan diet, is that I’ve always been a fussy eater. I dislike most vegetables like mushrooms, broccolis or any sort of green leaves, which I don’t think I’ll ever like. But by going through all ingredients that could be part of a very healthy vegan meal, I have to admit I haven’t tried half of them yet. For the ones I’ve never been forced to eat when I was a kid, there is a chance I will actually learn how to appreciate them as an adult. I’m actually excited to learn many new recipes and find new flavours I like! So far, I have loved every vegan meal I’ve had!

Somehow it seems to make me feel fuller without the heavy, sluggish feeling I used to have after eating meat. I also feel happier and proud to make a positive contribution to all living beings, as well as my own health. But doing it at home is easy. I will use the extra time in lockdown to become knowledgeable enough to keep doing it in social life (the hardest part), among meat lover friends, colleagues and family. I even considered opting for a flexitarian diet for that reason, but making exceptions whenever suits me is probably not the right way to fully commit to it. Plus I don’t really have any excuse, I live in London, the most vegan-friendly city in the world. If others can do it, I also can!

colourful fruit bowl vegan

Educate yourself before making your mind up

Doing your research is the only way to understand why some people would give up on all animal products. Are they crazy? I will let you be the judge of that. Below are some useful resources so you can make up your own mind with a much better knowledge.

Documentaries:

Books:

Blogs:

Hopefully this is useful to the curious minds among you! But if you’ve adopted a plant-based / vegan diet already and have any more advice or recommendations to give from personal experience, please feel free to do so in the comments below!

Big Girl x

Which Plant-Based Milk Is the Best for You and the Environment?

It is particularly difficult to be dairy-free these days, because dairy milk is literally everywhere. We’ve all been told to drink milk to have strong bones and up until a few years ago, I didn’t suspect it could actually harm my body. I did a food intolerance test to confirm what I suspected and dairy was at the top of my list. Did you know that almost 70% of the population in the world is lactose intolerant? Some people probably are and don’t even know about it. So here it is, even Santa will get a glass of plant-based milk this year.

I can’t tell you how much better I feel since I stopped drinking milk and avoiding dairy products. As a cheese lover, this is not always easy but my guts have been thanking me and I decided it was my priority. When you think about it, why would we even drink something that is naturally designed as a growth hormone for baby cows, not fully grown humans? Also, dairy milk production has a huge negative impact on the planet, on top of being cruel to cows. There are many reasons why I think every adult should choose to consume plant-based milk instead, it’s definitely worth considering and at least trying (more research needs to be done for children though). From all options you can find in most supermarkets, the main ones are: soy milk (the original plant-based alternative), almond milk, rice milk and oat milk. Let’s go through a quick comparison:

What alternative is best for me?

Soy Milk

Pros: high in protein, fortified in calcium and potassium, source of vitamins B2, B12 and D, available unsweetened or flavoured (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla), contains all the essential amino acids, easy to find in supermarkets.
Cons: soy is one of the most common allergens, and not everyone likes the taste.
Best for: baking, cooking

Almond Milk

Pros: contains more calcium than dairy milk, high in vitamins A, D and E, high in monounsaturated fatty acids (considered helpful in weight loss and weight management), low in calories, has a popular nutty taste.
Cons: low in protein compared to other plant-based milk, nuts are also a common allergen.
Best for: cereals

Rice Milk

Pros: contains as much calcium as dairy milk, has a naturally sweet taste, non-allergenic so it’s a good option for people with dairy, soy and nut allergies.
Cons: low in nutrients, rich in sugar, high in carbohydrates.
Best for: smoothies

Oat Milk

Pros: good nutrition and includes more calcium than dairy milk, good source of soluble fibre (which supports heart and digestive health), fortified with vitamins A, D, B2 and B12.
Cons: high in calories (as much as dairy milk) and unsweetened options can be hard to find, not suitable for gluten-free diets (unless specifically labelled as such).
Best for: coffee, tea

What alternative is best for the planet?

Now let’s have a look at the impact it has on the environment. The production of a plant-based milk cuts the water use by at least half compared to dairy milk, the emissions by at least two thirds, and significantly decreases the land use too :

From the article: “Climate change: Which vegan milk is best?” – BBC UK

It’s time to make the switch!

From what I gathered, soy milk and oat milk seem to be the best alternatives by far. But no matter what plant-based milk you pick, it will always be a much better option than dairy milk, for the planet but also for yourself as an adult. What’s your favourite milk alternative and why?

Big Girl x

Quick & Easy Recipe For a Refreshing Banana Sorbet

ingredients for a refreshing banana sorbet

That’s a problem we all had at some point in our kitchen: too many leftover bananas and no idea what to do with them before they become too ripe to eat. The most obvious answer would be to make a banana cake, of course… but isn’t there a healthier option? My mum actually gave me that idea recently and after trying it myself, I thought I had to share my own banana ice cream recipe! It’s easy to make, requires only 4 ingredients, it’s gluten-free and dairy-free (if you opt for a plant-based milk).

Ingredients – for 4 people:

  • 5 bananas (small/medium)
  • 150ml milk (I used unsweetened soya milk)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons honey

Put everything in the blender and mix it until smooth:

bananas in the blender

Pour the mixture into 4 ramequins and leave in the freezer overnight:

banana mixture in ramequins

And the next day: tadaaa…. Enjoy!

delicious banana sorbet

Who said it was too cold for ice cream? Plus you can keep it in the freezer several weeks, it’s really convenient on top of being a healthy alternative to banana cake. One ramequin following this recipe would be less than 150 calories. I love this dessert, it’s sweet and refreshing!

How will you use your ripe bananas next time?

Big Girl x

How to Improve Your Diet to Positively Impact The Planet

burger and fries

Have you decided to become a healthier version of yourself? If so, I’m proud of you and I’m looking forward to sharing that journey with you! What if doing that also gave you the opportunity to take actions and save the planet? I hope you are interested because you can actually do both at the same time. Sustainable nutrition is the future we need.

What is sustainable nutrition?

What I mean is changing your food choices provides the simplest and largest impact you can have on the world and your body. Meat production has a heavy impact on the environment and it’s no secret to anyone that red meat (especially beef) requires a lot more land and more water to produce than poultry, resulting in significantly higher climate-warming emissions. By simply choosing chicken over beef for example, you could reduce your dietary carbon footprint by half! Or you can simply remove animal products from your diet to have an even bigger impact on the planet.

Is a plant-based diet the only solution?

I’ve always found it annoying when someone who chose to be vegan tries to make you feel bad for eating meat, but the truth is their diet is the least damaging for the planet. After a lot of research on the matter, my view on the topic has evolved quite a lot over the past few years. I think it’s all about limiting your carbon footprint without necessarily having to remove your favourite foods from your diet, sometimes it makes a vegan diet easy to adopt, sometimes it feels impossible. So for now I’ve decided to go halfway and have at least one plant-based meal a day.

Huel, short for Human Fuel

huel products in my kitchen

One of the reasons I love this brand so much is that they really care about the environment and are making an effort to talk about it more: “Halting climate change is possible, eating for our health is achievable and lowering our carbon emissions is simple. It all starts with changing the way we eat. It’s time to change the way we think about food.” Huel is 100% plant-based and any food waste becomes renewable energy. They provide all nutrients you need and they constantly innovate with new flavours, no wonder why they keep growing (and it’s really good news for the environment).

What can you do to improve your diet and reduce your carbon footprint?

  • choose fish/poultry over beef/lamb
  • choose plant proteins over animal products
  • eat less food high in sugar/fat
  • avoid fried foods
  • limit your consumption of alcohol
  • eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas), nuts and seeds

How I choose to contribute

Personally, I skip breakfast as part of my intermittent fasting so I have only 2 meals a day (which is not recommended for everyone so make sure you talk to a dietician if you have any doubts). I have Huel for lunch (I love their coffee caramel black edition, I add matcha powder to it) and I eat mostly fish or poultry for dinner (more and more rarely red meat compared to before but it still happens occasionally).

I have nuts as a healthy snack and include a lot of fruits in my diet. Also, I don’t eat gluten anymore and avoid dairy products as my body doesn’t seem to tolerate any of these very well. Gluten-free & dairy-free diets are not always easy to follow but it also benefits the planet, not just me. Bearing in mind I want it to be a lifestyle I can adopt in the long run, not just a temporary measure.

Want to find out more?

If you want to read more on the topic, check out the links below:

What positive change for both your health and the planet have you made so far?

Big Girl x

Various Health Benefits of Matcha Tea, a Powerful Ingredient

Japanese matcha tea

I don’t remember how I discovered matcha but I’ve been a huge fan since. Matcha latte, matcha tea, matcha pastries, give me matcha in any way, I just love the earthy taste of it. Talking about the many benefits of matcha will give me the opportunity to talk about Japan indirectly, as this is where it comes from. With my Japanese roots (thanks mum!), I went to a tea ceremony in Japan when I was a kid and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was matcha… but at the time I probably didn’t like it. Japanese have been making and drinking matcha for centuries. I’m not saying it’s thanks to this ingredient alone but they have the highest “healthy life expectancy” in the world. They must be doing something right!

Various health benefits

There are tons of health benefits associated to matcha. What I like about it is the fact that you consume the entire leaf, unlike traditional green tea when you discard the leaves afterwards. The plant is ground down into a very fine powder, which is mixed in hot water (you need a bamboo whisk to dissolve it properly) before consumption. Because it contains the nutrients from the entire tea leaf, it results in a greater amount of caffeine and antioxidants than typically found in green tea. I would say it’s an acquired taste though, it’s probably a good idea to try it with some sort of sweetener first, until you get used to it. Here’s a few things about matcha:

  • It contains a concentrated amount of antioxidants (good to help prevent cell damage and even lower your risk of several chronic diseases), so including it in your diet is a quick and easy way to increase your antioxidant intake!
  • It contains 70 mg of caffeine per cup (1 teaspoon of powder), which is higher than a can of Coke (and much healthier). Caffeine can boost brain functions with faster reaction times, increased attention, and enhanced memory.
  • It helps speeding up metabolism to increase energy expenditure and boosts fat burning.

And that’s not it! See below all benefits explained by Full Leaf Tea:

health benefits of matcha tea

A must-have in your kitchen

I personally like matcha products from PureChimp, delivery is free if you are in the UK but they do deliver worldwide. I also like the fact that they are part of 1% for the Planet and give 5% of their profits to charities. They only use natural ingredients and they’re environmentally friendly with their packaging. I love it when a company wants to give people the best quality and wants to do good for the planet at the same time. Matcha is a great ingredient you should have in your kitchen anyway, I have tons of ideas how to use it! I like to add it as a flavour in my protein shake for example. But you could also use it as an ingredient for:

  • a hot drink (latte…),
  • a cold drink (frappuccino, iced tea…),
  • baking (cakes, tarts, pancakes, cookies, muffins, brownies… possibilities are endless),
  • dessert cream,
  • a smoothie (with fruits like bananas, kiwis, strawberries… anything you fancy),
  • ice cream (probably my favourite),
  • chocolate (yummy),
  • skin care (it has anti-inflammatory benefits, especially good for sensitive skin),
  • …do I carry on?

Matcha tea has become a trend recently and you can find it easily pretty much anywhere. You just have to watch the quality depending on how you intend to use it (by itself or as an ingredient). Any other matcha lovers among you? As it’s Christmas soon, a matcha gift box could be a good idea for tea or even coffee lovers around you!

Big Girl x

Delicious & Easy Treat: Strawberries Coated in Dark Chocolate

strawberries coated in dark chocolate

It’s Monday and it’s getting cold out there, I just wanted to share how to prepare this indulgence! Strawberries are great for you, they are among the top 20 fruits in antioxidant capacity and are a good source of magnesium and potassium, containing very few calories. Dark chocolate is also good for you (if it contains at least 70% cacao – the darker the better!), it contains antioxidants, fibre, potassium, calcium, copper, and magnesium. But the two of them together might not be that healthy, purely because you would be consuming more chocolate than you need to have a positive impact on your body. Hence why I call them my guilty pleasure! It’s excellent for the mood though.

Who knows, this 2-ingredient recipe could be useful if you want to prepare something a bit special but not too complicated at the same time, something that doesn’t take too long to make and is beginner-friendly too! Chocolate coated strawberries are probably one of the easiest fancy bite-size desserts that everyone loves…

Ingredients you need

First of all, pick fresh strawberries that are quite firm (not too ripe) and with long stems, it will be easier to dip them. For the chocolate part, it’s better to choose a good quality cooking chocolate, to make sure it melts well and then cools down properly. Personally, I like to use Green & Black’s Organic Dark Cooking Chocolate but it’s down to you and your preferences!

Few tips before you start

  • Use strawberries at room temperature (or leave them out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before dipping them)
  • Strawberries must be dry before dipping them, the coating will stick better
  • Prepare your workspace beforehand so you don’t have to rush
  • Don’t overheat the chocolate, monitor its consistency every 30 seconds if you’re using a microwave (you can also use a double boiler)
  • As there are only 2 ingredients, the quality of each makes a huge difference

Method (with pictures)

1. Clean your strawberries and let them dry

ingredients: strawberries and dark chocolate

2. Break the chocolate in small pieces and microwave until it’s almost completely melted, then stir with a spoon to get the right consistency (for 250g of strawberries, I used 60g of chocolate)

melt the dark chocolate to cover strawberries

3. Dip each strawberry in the melted chocolate and put them on a parchment baking paper that you’ve prepared in advance

cover the strawberries with dark chocolate

4. Let the chocolate set and rest until it has solidified nicely

strawberries coated in dark chocolate

Additional toppings

That’s the basic version but you can make it look (and taste) even better with additional toppings. You can drizzle them with melted white chocolate afterwards for example, or anything else you want. Here’s some suggestions:

  • Any nuts (crushed),
  • Coconut flakes,
  • Sprinkles,
  • Oreo cookies (crushed),
  • Mini chocolate chips, etc.

Enjoy!

Once done, you can store them in the fridge for a day or two (not in the freezer) or in a dry cool place, but they are much better when consumed on the same day!

It’s the ideal dessert for romantic occasions (Valentine’s day, anniversaries…) but any excuse is good enough. Sometimes it’s important to treat yourself with food that makes you happy, as long as it’s done with moderation!

Now it’s your turn, what’s your guilty pleasure?

Big Girl x

Halloween: Keep Your Pumpkin Seeds for Some Healthy Snacks!

halloween pumpkins

I’m avoiding sweets this year for Halloween… But I still want some treats though! People mainly buy pumpkins to carve them and sometimes we just forget we can also eat them. I’m not such a big fan of a pumpkin soup but I love their seeds as a snack and it’s actually pretty healthy! First I have to show you my beautiful Halloween pumpkin face:

jack-o-lantern halloween 2020

This time, instead of throwing away all of the goodness inside, keep the seeds and follow the below, step by step!

curving a pumpkin for halloween
  • Untangle the raw seeds from the pulp and stringy fibres
  • Rinse them in a colander
remove seeds from pumpkin
  • Dry them properly with a towel
  • Add olive oil, salt, black pepper, piri piri (or any spice you like)
  • Spread them evenly on a tray
pumpkin seeds on a tray
  • Roast them in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180 °C
  • They’re ready when they’re turning a bit brown
roasted pumpkin seeds healthy snack

And voila, my very own roasted pumpkin seeds! It’s so easy to make, I can’t believe I’ve never done it before. And it’s delicious. You can easily tailor it the way you like, with a different oil and/or different seasonings. Personally I prefer it with some kick to it!

Note: 20g of salted roasted pumpkin seeds represents roughly 130 calories (I got 70g of seeds out of this pumpkin). This snack provides fibre and is an excellent source of zinc, you can store them for up to 2 weeks (I’ll definitely eat them all before though). Roast your own pumpkin seeds and come back to tell me how good it was! Did you have them on their own or in a salad?

Big Girl x