Being poor and what to eat – Veganuary

As I sit staring out my window, unfocused through the rain drop marks and hoping the wind won’t snap the open window (which nelly has a window open when its windy and raining AND IN WINTER?) (side note: me), I’m contemplating my almost empty bank account.

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It’s fine, it is what it is, and James is the same, my friends are the same, my siblings are the same, strangers are the same. I also booked a holiday to Morocco so there’s really no complaining (it was only £294 per person).

PLUS, excitedly being vegan, James and I didn’t hold back on what to buy and although I’ve lost a lot of weight this month I haven’t stopped eating.

I haven’t done research into why eating healthier costs more, I only know from first hand experience that when I lived alone most meals were processed meat and chips – and one really sad time when I just dipped bread into gravy for dinner. To be fair, I really enjoyed it.

BUT the shining light is to obviously NOT be lazy and make dinner from scratch – don’t just have a bag of chilli heat wave Doritos (or bread and gravy again). And when you have a shared fridge filled of food you can’t eat, and also no room for you to buy anything anyway, the answer is canned food.

emilyannlou simplesauce

I’ve always made my own pasta sauce, it’s easy. I add whatever, there’s no structure or instructions, but if you are stuck for an simple, cheap dinner here is Emily’s Simple Sauce. (Terms and conditions may apply.)

emilyannlou onion

Two onions, two garlic cloves and a teaspoon of Lazy chopped chillies. (See, I’m still lazy)
Drizzle some vegetable oil into a pan and fry the onions for a minute or two
Add the garlic and chilli and keep on stirring for a bit

emilyannlou pan

Smart Price chopped tomatoes (29p)
Add the chopped tomatoes and do a bit more stirry stirry
Let it boil and add salt, pepper and basil to taste
Then let it simmer, pop a lid on and cook for 5-10 minutes
Stir every once in a while

(Everything is give or take, it’s hard to go wrong, just be generous with flavours is my tip)
After ten minutes (or whatever) I usually start cooking my pasta, so the sauce cooks for that whole amount of time too.
I don’t rinse the pasta, just drain it and add it to the sauce so it clings to it like a cuddle.

To top it off you could add vegan cheese, but I regret that, It’s not the same.
Something I’m going to do with the left overs is add some crispy onions which are DELICIOUS.

So you still may be poor, like me, buuuttt your tummy is full of goodness.

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Burgers and ice cream, but not together – Veganuary

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-10,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E:Y

Although these homemade burgers were gorgeous it kind of looks like a Sunday roast blended into a patty, with some cream drizzled on top. Or melted ice cream. Yum.

In reality they were chickpea, carrot and bean burgers with vegan mayo – James partly followed a recipe for the mayo and partly used just what we had, which is why it was runny. RECOMMEND making your own vegan mayo though!

Then we tried vegan ice cream – like cornettos (but not Cornettos) (though I have seen adverts for vegan Cornettos) from ASDA. Personally I prefer it to normal ice cream, but James (an ice cream lover) is wolfing them down.

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-10,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E:Y

I’m reaching a dilemma at the moment when it comes to being vegan for the month. I am absolutely loving it and going to continue into February, then I’ll figure out the rest when I want to. The dilemma is around the word ‘vegan’ – because like I said I’m loving it and I had no idea I was going to love it. I’ll explain.

I recommend anyone trying ‘vegan mayo’ but not because it’s vegan but because it tastes really good. Like, ketchup is vegan. Everyone likes ketchup. I recommend trying these ice creams because they taste amazing. Oreos are nice. Pop the word vegan in front and people (including me before this month) assume it’s going to taste horrible and are switched off. It’s just food. Although I choose to not eat meat in my food, doesn’t mean the food I’m eating is bad. It’s actually the best food I’ve had… ever.

People around me have really embraced it though and are up for discussion. Pretty cool.

I don’t know the answer to this train of thought at the moment. Food is a personal thing, everyone is defensive on what they eat, so when you use the word ‘vegan’ and it comes across as ‘superior’, their back is up naturally.

I’ll figure it out at some point.

Oh what a huge disappointment – Veganuary

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Two vegans go to a carvery for dinner..

Sounds like a good start to a joke, but sadly it’s a true story. You can also guess the outcome.

You’d naturally be like ‘why would vegans go to Toby Carvery, a place of meat, for dinner???’ BUT they have a new veggie and vegan section on the menu so why shouldn’t you try it?! That’s what it’s there for. Yeah, there are a load of other restaurants which you’d consider first, but the vegan flag was waved at us and we wanted to wave it ourselves.

Let’s just start with the bad impression I got from the start. I haven’t been to Toby Carvery since being a veggie, so it has been years and year, but people I know still go and often say ‘oh I could really do with a Toby’s’ and then after ‘I’ve got a Toby baby’. It’s a thing.

Well, after ordering a pink gin and tonic that was on the menu, being told they might not have it, she’ll have to check, and then us ordering our vegan meals and being told they might not have it, she’ll have to check… (they had all three but it’s a bad impression straight away)… after that, I noticed two adverts that just haven’t been taken down, clearly.

 

Summer and Christmas. Neither which is going on right now. That’s bewildering to me. We had a £5 bowl from Wasabi (that was delicious) and this meal came to £22. Wasabi didn’t have damaged menus and out of date posters.

I just think it’s really strange.

To the dinner anyway. Not worth it. It was okay, like if I made it I’d probably be proud (but I can’t cook for shit), but that small dish for £6.99?!

I had the Grilled Aubergine Stack – Grilled aubergine and Mediterranean style vegetables combined in a tomato and oregano sauce topped with a vegan white sauce and breadcrumbs. I don’t remember the white sauce now I’ve re read it.

James had the Portabello Mushroom Bullseye Tart – A hand crimpled suet pastry case, filled with an indulgent mushroom sauce, topped with a whole portobello mushroom. It wasn’t a whole portobello mushroom, it was a mini portobello mushroom.

My verdict is that it was just crap. Not worth it. Which you’d think, again, ‘can you really be surprised? It’s a carvery!’ but yeah, don’t do shit food for the sake of it. I’ve had so many delicious foods since being vegan this month, it’s blowing my mind – so why make this crap? The portion size was tiny too. You’d see people coming back from the carvery with food piled high, each person like they’re eating for two, and then we got served a child’s portion. Weird.

Also you can go to a run down place and it’s fine, adds character (most old pubs) but instead it was just the kind of place that I don’t want to waste my money on.

We left hungry and disappointed.

My advise; go to Wagamama, go to Pizza Express, even The Harvester.

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Best part of it all, the pub after.

When in doubt, hummus – Veganuary

Have you ever dipped pizza into hummus? It sounds gross, but it’s a game changer.

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Now realising how unhealthy I clearly am (I’ve always known but because I’m putting my diet on the internet for a month, I’m pretending it’s a shock) I thought rather go for the easy option of crap food, I’ll dip some veg into hummus. Not wild and not pizza (but there was pita), but I had just come back from a 3 hour walk and it seemed a shame to ruin it.

Don’t worry though, I also snacked on Aldi’s version of Oreos after.

I’ve had a good vegan pizza from Pizza express but I was wondering if I should make a cheese-less pizza, full of veg, and dip that into hummus.

Please trust me, hummus and pizza. It’s the future.

The first mediocre meal and first craving – Veganuary

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So two things happened in one day, which I don’t want to think so black and white with but it was still disheartening. But I could be PMSing – too much information? I’m just being honest. *News flash* when it’s that time of the month I can’t comfort myself with chocolate.

Which leads onto the first upset of the day, I really craved chocolate. With hindsight, I had just finished swimming and I probably needed a sugar boost, that’s what my body was saying. But when we nipped into ASDA after and had to walk past the Creme Eggs and Mini Eggs I wanted chocolate. NOW. There is no reasoning when you feel like way. I wanted to dive head first, with my mouth open, into that tiny box that holds the Creme Eggs.

Now just imagine chopping down on the tin foil packaging. How many people shuddered?

Anyway, when we were at the check out I searched for something to fill that void which was going to break my vow to be vegan. Starbursts. It was a shining light. Starbursts are vegan. Hallelujah.

Then I was fine. Which made me realise I just wanted sugar, but that didn’t translate in the moment.

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The second disappointment was Linda McCartney mushroom and spinach burgers. My partner loved them but it did nothing for me at all. I ate it, it was fine. I’ve had a good veggie burger (the best one was in Bruge, Belgium) and this was just… blah.

It’s a pretty blah meal in general, after having all these delicious foods, but when we can’t be asked to cook and we haven’t prepared anything, chips are fine. Vinegar and Himalayan salt, yum.

But don’t get me wrong, I love Linda McCartney food. There isn’t a better veggie sausage in my opinion.

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There was a silver lining though, other than the Starbursts, this vegan Sriracha mayo sauce (from Aldi). Yes mate, it’s nice. There’s a big sign on the front saying ‘no egg’ but we still checked the ingredients before reading that on the front.

You learn two things when your vegan; read your body for what it wants and read all the packaging.

We made lasagna – Veganuary

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Before being cooked in the oven

I can happily say that before my lasagna dinner (and left over curry for lunch..) I ate 2 bananas and an apple. So that cancels the two huge dinners I had right? What can I say, I’m absolutely loving vegan food. I also tried a Pulsin Peanut Choc Chip Raw Choc Brownie, which I personally thought was bloody lovely! My partner seriously disagreed with me. So looks like I’ll be nabbing the pack of bars we bought.

Eating that raw brownie confirmed, for me, that vegan food can’t look nice. Other than these vegan bowls – breakfast bowls, Buddha bowls, nourish bowls, protein bowls, smoothie acai bowls – and I am yet to try any of them, because quite simply, no matter how beautiful they look I don’t think I’m going to like them.

I need to try one, I need to try one, I can’t write them off. But before that happens, let me share what mine and my partners ‘bowls’ look like.

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I call this the vegan slob bowl. Let’s be real, it looks English and authentic. The country that eats cheesy beans and chips. Yet it was delicious, the best lasagna I’ve ever had.

The title says ‘we’ but we all know my partner made it all. I just stirred the cheese when he was busy doing something else.

So he;

started by frying onion and garlic in olive oil

added frozen vegan mince (Tesco £1.75, left overs from the fajitas)

then after a bit added tinned tomatoes (asda 29p), haricot beans (tesco 55p) and baked beans

cooked on high heat till it thickened up and added mixed herbs

in a sauce pan he added the cheese powder (Holland and Barrett £1.99) to cold rice milk then heated in pan on medium heat

then you start the layers – ‘meat’, then pasta (couldn’t find vegan lasagna sheets so used extra large pasta) then cheese, and so on. Then cooked for 30 minutes.

 

I, unfortunately, am no cook, but this seems simple enough for me to do. And whilst I can say ‘and I will do it’, I don’t think that’s realistic at the moment (I struggle with cooking because I don’t have the freedom of living alone). Plus my partner was a chef.

One day though, one day.

james day 8