The importance of vitamins in a plant based diet

Plant based diets are a great way to protect the planet, get a variety of fruit, vegetables and grains into your diet and not to mention supporting the positive movement in animal welfare. However, when cutting food groups out of your diet, especially meat and dairy products, it is important to plan your diet carefully. Going plant based can be a healthy, balanced way of eating if you are eating a variety of different foods and opting for fortified products. Ensuring you are including certain micronutrients in your diet that can be lacking when you no longer eat meat or dairy products can be difficult and may require a certain amount of planning at the beginning.

There are many different essential vitamins our body needs to function but for the purpose of this article we will look at ones that may need to be supplemented when following a mainly plant based diet.

 

Vitamin B12 is a very important vitamin and one that must be carefully considered when going vegan. B12 is a water-soluble vitamin which plays an important role in cell metabolism, serving as a cofactor for enzymes involved in the normal function of the nervous system, the formation of red blood cells and the metabolism of folate. The British Nutrition Foundation state that B12 is involved in energy production and together with folate and Vitamin B6 is required for maintenance of normal blood homocysteine levels – if this rises too much it can be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause fatigue, anaemia, and potential nerve damage. The British Dietetic Association recommend eating two portions of fortified foods per day to help with your B12 intake. If this isn’t possible, consider taking a daily supplement with approximately 10mg of Vitamin B12.

Food sources of Vitamin B12 are almost all animal origin products such as meat, salmon, milk, cheese and eggs. However, there are a couple of plant-based sources; breakfasts cereals, unsweetened soya milks and yeast extract such as Marmite are fortified with vitamin B12.

The Vegan Society advise that if you are relying on fortified foods, check the labels carefully to ensure you are meeting your daily requirements using the example of “if a fortified plant milk contains 1 microgram of B12 per serving then consuming three servings a day will provide adequate vitamin B12. Others may find the use of B12 supplements more convenient.” B12 is best absorbed in small amounts so it is thought they less frequently you obtain B12 them more you may need to take.

 

Iron

Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells. Iron is usually found in meat and eggs with absorption being helped through Vitamin C.  A vegan diet can be high in iron, although iron from plant-based food is absorbed by the body less well than iron from meat.

The recommended nutrient intake for iron is higher for women than men to cover menstrual losses. Woman between the age of 19-50 years are recommended 14.8mg/d where as men are just 8.7mg/d.

Food sources of plant-based iron are foods such as dried fruits, wholegrains, leafy green vegetables, seeds and pulses. To help absorption consume with foods high in vitamin C such as citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables.

 

Calcium

Dairy foods contribute around a third of calcium in the diets of UK adolescents and adults from foods such as cheese, yogurts and milk. Calcium is needed for helping support strong bones and teeth, regulating muscle contraction including your heart and making sure the blood clots normally. Calcium is an important mineral throughout the lifespan as lack of calcium can lead to rickets in children and osteoporosis in later life.

The recommended daily requirement of calcium for an adult aged 19 to 64 is 700mg a day with adults requiring more than children due to their bone growth. If a woman is breastfeeding her requirement goes up 550mg/d more than a woman who is not breastfeeding, so it is essential to ensure you are meeting this requirement post pregnancy.

Food sources of plant-based calcium include bread with wheat flour (this is fortified with calcium by law) fortified breakfast cereals and dairy alternatives, calcium-set tofu, pulses, tahini and sesame seeds, dried fruits such as raisins and figs.

 

Most other nutrients can be met through a healthy, balanced diet and I have previously written blogs on other important nutrients for vegans such as omega 3 and vitamin D.

If you have any concerns about how to ensure you are getting enough of the above nutrients, please see your GP or a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for expert help.

 

 

References:

NHS, British Nutrition Foundation, Vegan Society


20 Minute Coconut and Chickpea Curry

Hey guys!

It is no secret I love quick, heart warming food and this recipe is no different! It takes around 20 minutes and you can use whatever vegetables you have left over in the fridge… winner!

 

Ingredients:

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 inch of ginger

1 red chilli

1 tbsp chilli powder

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tsp of tomato puree

1 can of coconut milk

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 can of chickpeas

Veg of choice – I used:

Half courgette

1 yellow pepper

Handful of plum tomatoes

Handful of spinach

 

Method:

  1. Chop all the fresh ingredients and heat tbsp olive oil in a wok (this is a good time to start cooking rice if that is your serve choice)
  2. Add the onion, garlic, chilli, ginger and tomato puree and cook for around 3-4 minutes
  3. Add all the spices and after a minute add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas and coconut milk
  4. Bring to boil then add veggies of choice, cook for around 10 minutes on a medium heat
  5. Serve with rice or naan bread and enjoy!!

 

 


Plant Based Diets

The interest in plant based diets has dramatically risen in the past few years. With campaigns such as Veganuary and meat free Mondays it is no surprise plant based diets seem to be a lifestyle, conscious choice people are switching to. There are many reasons people may choose to follow a plant based diet, whether that be the concern of animal wellbeing, environmental factors or for health reasons. Whatever the reason there is now more people following different types of plant based diets than ever and this article is here to explore the different plant based diets and how to make informed choices when cutting food sources from your diet.

 

Types of plant based diets:

From vegetarian to vegan to pescatarians there are a number of diets that fall under the plant based umbrella.

There are several different types of vegetarian diets; lacto-ovo vegetarians eat dairy foods and eggs but do not consume meat, poultry or seafood. Ovo-vegetarians do not consume anything but eggs from animal sources. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy but do not consume eggs, meat, poultry and seafood.

Vegans do not eat anything from an animal therefore avoiding honey, dairy and eggs as well as meat, fish and poultry.

Other variations of a plant-based diet include pescatarians who consume only fish and flexitarians who occasionally eat animal products, however, their diet is mainly plant based foods.

 

There are many benefits to eating a diet rich in plant-based foods, they are usually rich in beans, nuts, wholegrains, fruits, and vegetables which all contribute to a healthy diet. This includes protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fats as well as fibre. However, when cutting food groups out of your diet and in this case food sources it is important to plan and be aware of nutrients you may be lacking by not eating meat, fish or dairy.

Below are just a handful of nutrients to be aware of if you follow a plant based diet to ensure you are including them into your daily diet. If you require any further information please see a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist.

 

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid which means the body cannot make it itself therefore we must obtain this from food. Omega 3 is commonly found in oily fish so unless you are following the pescatarian or flexitarian diet and consuming 2 portions per week you may be lacking this in your plant based diet. There are good sources of Omega 3 in plant based foods such as walnuts, flaxseeds, soya beans and chia seeds. For vegetarians who consume eggs these are also a great source of Omega 3.

Most sources of calcium are found in dairy products so if you are vegan or an ovo-vegetarian then you are best to try and include foods such as; green leafy vegetables, dried figs, nuts, kidney beans and tofu to help towards your recommended intake of 700mg per day. Calcium is important for the maintenance of bone health.

Iron is usually found in meat and eggs with absorption being helped through Vitamin C. Plant based sources of iron are not as easily absorbed however you can find iron in foods such as dried fruits, wholegrains, leafy green vegetables, seeds and pulses. To help absorption consume with foods high in vitamin C such as citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables.

Vitamin B12 is a very important vitamin to be aware of it you are eliminate all animal products from your diet. A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause fatigue, anaemia, and potential nerve damage. The British Dietetic Association recommend eating two portions of fortified foods per day to help with your B12 intake such as breakfast cereals, yeast extract, soya yogurts and non-dairy milks. If this isn’t possible, consider taking a daily supplement with approximately 10mg of Vitamin B12. (If you have any concerns about this please see your GP or a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist)

Protein plays several important roles in this functioning of our body such as growth and repair and the maintenance of good health. There are a variety of plant based sources of protein on the market such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu and soya. If you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian, then eggs and dairy are great sources of protein. Variety is key as some sources of protein do not contain all the essential amino acids, with soya, quinoa and hemp being the only ‘complete’ plant based sources of protein.

“Did you know the BDA say you can get your recommended daily amount of selenium from just two brazil nuts each day.”

 

Top tips:

It is important when following any of the above diets to ensure you are for the right reasons, not because you feel you must for the label of ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ – a balanced diet full of a variety of fruit, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, proteins and fats is key.

Consider taking multi vitamin supplements that contain Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. In the UK Vitamin D supplements are recommended in the winter months when there is not enough sunlight for our bodies to be able to make this itself.

Keep hydrated, you should be consuming 6 – 8 glasses of water a day (more if you have an active lifestyle) try and reduce your intake of sugary drinks opting for sugar free varieties where possible.

Eat to make you happy, food should be more than just fuel for the body. Follow plant based diets because it makes you feel good not to restrict your diet for negative reasons.

 

 

 


Vegan Jack Fruit Curry Recipe

Hi guys,

Welcome to my first vegan recipe on the blog. I have been playing around with this recipe and I am finally ready to share, for vegans or none vegans this is a perfect, simple recipe for those that like a bit of spice.

 

 

Ingredients (4 servings)

1 onion

3 garlic cloves

2-3cm fresh ginger

1 red chilli

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp turmeric

400g tinned tomatoes

400g coconut milk

1 can of jackfruit

1 red pepper

Handful of mushrooms

Handful of spinach

2 bay leaves

Rice or lentils

 

Method

  • Heat 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a medium to hot wok/pan
  • Blend onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor until finely chopped
  • Add mix into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until it starts to soften
  • Mix in the curry powder, garam masala, turmeric and half of the fresh chilli and mix until onion mix is coated
  • After 2-3 minutes begin to add the tinned tomatoes, refill the tin with water and add half to the pan
  • Gently stir in half of the coconut milk and bring to boil
  • Drain the jackfruit (most are pre-cut but if not then ensure they are) and add to the pan
  • Bring the mix to a medium heat and leave for around 20-30 minute
  • When the jackfruit it soft, pull the jackfruit with two folks so it is all shredded
  • Add the remaining red chilli, 2 bay leaves, coconut milk and now add the vegetables (mushrooms, spinach, red pepper) bring down to a low to medium heat and cook for a further 10-12 minutes

 

Serve with wholegrain rice or lentils and enjoy!

Let me know if you try this recipe and as always tag me in your photos.

 

Have a lovely weekend,

Sarah x

 


Fibre and Gut Health

Hi Guys,

You may have heard a lot recently about gut health and how fibre can lead to a happy gut. But is this just a new fad or is it something we should be considering… this two-part blog is here to explain what fibre is and how it relates to gut health. Spoiler alert – it is not just an empty fad there is some great scientific evidence supporting the below!

 

What is fibre?

Fibre is part of the carbohydrate family and is the name given to the diverse range of compounds found in the cells walls of foods that come from plants. Dietary fibre is the edible parts of the plants that are resistant to digestion and therefore can be absorbed through the small intestine.

There are two main types of fibre; soluble fibre and insoluble fibre.

Soluble fibre dissolves in the water within your digestive system and include oats, fruit, and vegetables. Insoluble fibre doesn’t dissolve in water and passes through your gut without being broken down resulting in your food moving through your digestive system more easily, these include wholemeal bread, nuts, and seeds.

Fibre has many health benefits and there is new research currently being carried out to investigate its impact on gut health in more depth. The British Dietetic Association (BDA) recommend increasing your fibre intake to help with the following:

  • To lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and colorectal cancer.
  • To treat or prevent constipation, make stools softer and easier to pass
  • To help lower a high blood cholesterol level or high blood pressure.

 

The current Government guideline for fibre consumption is 30g each day. On average, UK adults are only consuming around 18g of fibre (60% of the recommended value) each day. If your current intake is below the Governments recommendation, then you may want to gradually increase this by eating foods that are high in fibre.

 

Foods rich in fibre:

  • Starchy foods such as porridge, oats, wholegrain breads pasta and rice, potatoes with skin on
  • Beans and pulses
  • A variety of vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, carrots, and sweetcorn
  • A variety of fruits such as banana, blackberries, and apples
  • Nuts and seeds such as almonds, chia seeds

 

My top tips to increase fibre intake:

  • Increase your fruit and vegetable intake aiming towards five 80g portions a day. An easy way to do this is by adding fruit to your porridge, cereal or toast in the morning
  • Aim for a variety of plant based foods for example add beans to your homemade soups or curries
  • Leave the skin on your vegetables and potatoes, not only does this make vegetable preparation easier, it helps towards your fibre intake
  • Keep hydrated; remember to drink the recommended 6-8 cups of water each day to help the fibre do its job

 

However, don’t panic and start to add copious of fibre in your diet all at once, it is best to let your gut adjust by gradually increasing fibre in your diet. For example, if you currently don’t have a lot of fruit and vegetables maybe add one extra portion a day for a week a or two and see how you feel from there. If you don’t have any wholegrain carbohydrates, then maybe make a switch to the bread at first and then gradually switch your pasta, rice etc.

 

So, how does this tie in with gut health?

Fibre is an essential nutrient for the normal functioning of the gut. Studies show that if we have an extra 7g fibre per day (if we are aiming for 30g / day) it can be associated with significant reduction in the risk of diseases such as reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and bowel cancer. Fibre can also help with digestion, the NHS state that around 40% of people in the UK have at least one digestive issue at one time, whether that be abdominal pain, heartburn, or indigestion. Please note, if these issues are quite common and do not clear up, then it is important to know when to seek medical advice and contact your GP.

 

There are some general tips to help with a healthier gut:

  • Chewing your food well. Growing up many of us got told to chew our food a certain amount of times before swallowing but with busy lifestyles and ‘lunch on the go’ becoming more popular it is becoming harder to taking time out to eat slowly. Digestion starts in the mouth and, so it is important to be mindful whilst chewing.
  • Exercising regularly can help with many things not just gut health but maybe something you want to consider especially if you suffer with constipation. Studies show that exercise can also help with having a good night sleep as well as decreasing stress levels which are both important when it comes to gut health.
  • Drinking alcohol and caffeine in moderation and if you are a smoker, stopping or cutting down can have a positive impact on your gut and its bacteria.
  • Avoid tight clothing, skinny jeans, and tight high waisted yoga leggings maybe key items in our wardrobes however, they can aggravate your gut with the added external pressure.
  • Fermented foods and probiotics are great for the gut, there is more to come on this in next weeks blog! But for now, remember when it comes to fibre and gut health, a varied, balanced diet is key!

 

Please get in touch with any questions

S x

 

 

 

References/extra reading:

British Dietetic Association – https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/fibrefoodfactsheet.pdf

NHS Website – https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/loseweight/Pages/the-truth-about-carbs.aspx

SACN Report on Carbohydrates and Health – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sacn-carbohydrates-and-health-report


Take me back to Croatia!

Hello!!

I have finally got round to publishing my Croatia blog… it may be 10 months late but seeing as I know a lot of friends and family are visiting this year I thought it was the perfect time to share my experience of this amazing country with you all!

To start the holiday off we went on a roadtrip from Dubrovnik up to Krka National Park, a lovely 4.5 hour drive! However, the hours spent in the car were 100% worth it. As you can see from the photo below the falls were breathtaking. We took a short ferry to the falls and although it was very busy, by about 4-5pm it had quietened down and we could have a little sunbathe and climb up to the top of the falls.

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The beaches in Croatia are gorgeous, the water is crystal clear and even though there aren’t many sandy beaches due them being mainly pebble (so you have to wear very glam beach shoes) they are the best way to spend a lazy day in the Croatian sun! Our favourite beach around Dubrovnik was Copacabana… mainly down to the beach bar which did an amazing chicken salad, very refreshing and strong cocktails and played house music all day!

 

Whilst we were in Croatia it happened to be Croatia Music Week. Being with 3 fellow music lovers we decided to go to the Ultra Resistance Closing Party on Vis Island. The music, weather and venue did not disappoint. It was amazing. Forte George is one of the most beautiful venues I have ever been to and topped off with Hot Since 82 and Nic Fancuili… it was one of the best nights of the holiday!

 

Now, the food!!

We had such a busy week exploring, we did not have many ‘sit down’ meals, some meals just being snacks from petrol stations, fresh bakeries or cute fruit and oil stalls on the side of the roads.

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However, when we did dine out we were not disappointed.  Here are a few highlights:

D’Vino Wine Bar – On one of our first nights in Dubrovnik ended up with us going out quite late, so instead of a heavy meal we discovered a little wine bar down a tiny side street. The antipasti platter was incredible, the photo below does not do it justice, we ordered this between four along with hummus and duck breast with olive oil bread. Accompanied with wine, it was a perfect holiday treat!

 

Azur –  an Asian restaurant with a Mediterranean twist (what is there not to love) A very cute and small restaurant in the beautiful walls of Dubrovnik Old Town. The waiters were very friendly and the food was delicious. I would highly recommend the coconut meatballs as a main course and chorizo & chicken tacos or the king prawns for starter. We had the house white wine which complimented the meal perfectly. A perfect place to visit away from the hustle and bustle of the main street of the Old Town for an intimate date night.

 

 

 

Horizont – Horizont was recommended to us by the host our apartment. It was outside the Old Town Walls but had an amazing view and the staff and food were out of this world. All four of us had the best meal of the holiday… if you like truffle you will not be disappointed here.

 

Cocktails with a view – Buzar 1, down a tiny stair case opening up on to the sea. The view is amazing at sunset, be prepared for slow service but the Mojitos are good and the view is worth the wait! On one visit we didn’t even sit at a table, taking the relaxed vibe to another level we decided to sit on the edge of a rock overlooking the sea. Take me back please!!

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Yoga

Although I didn’t manage to fit in a yoga class as my week was spent mostly in a car or on a boat travelling around Croatia, I did manage to fit in a couple of early morning yoga stretches and core sessions.

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Hair credit goes to my incredible friend Charlotte Rose Hair Stylist… I loved being her hair model for the week!

 

Croatia is such a beautiful country! From Dubrovnik to Split, the coast line is one of the most pictures’ I have ever seen (and we saw a lot of it on all our drives) the Krka waterfalls are a must see and if you can, try and visit Vis Island… it is stunning! I wish we could have stayed longer but I will definitely be going back to explore more islands and waterfalls!

hairs

Cable car view of Dubrovnik

 

Anybody going this summer, have the best time! x


Coconut Sambal Recipe

Hi Guys,

Last night I had a some friends round for an Asia inspired dinner (my favourite cuisine to cook!) I wanted to try something new and having recently discovered Coconut Sambal I thought I would play around and see what I could come up with! This recipe got a big thumbs up from my friends so I thought I would share it with you all as it is super easy.

Serves around 6 as a side dish.

Ingredients: 

200g Dessicated Coconut (fresh coconut works too if it is available)

1 Red Onion

2cm Finely chopped ginger

1 tbsp Chilli powder

1tbsp Paprika

6 tbsp tinned chopped tomatoes (fresh work great too)

1 lemon

 

Method:

  1. Soak desiccated coconut in water for 5 minutes and then drain excess water
  2. Finely chop onion and ginger and add to a mixing bowl
  3. Add chilli powder, paprika and tomatoes and mixed together
  4. Fry the desiccated coconut on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes
  5. Mix in the other ingredients to the coconut until cooked thoroughly
  6. Squeeze a fresh lemon and season to taste
  7. Serve as a beautiful Sri Lanka inspired side dish

 

I served this with Red Thai Curry which may seem a little odd but it was lovely! I will be uploading my Thai Curry recipe soon too as it my favourite dishes to make with fish or chicken and lots of veggies.

Enjoy x