VEGANUARY – FOOD TO NURTURE AND NOURISH

New Year’s Resolutions?

Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions?  I find January a challenging month, with dark mornings, cold weather and I generally feel tired and exhausted. So I tend to avoid resolutions, when energy levels are so low – waiting rather until the spring. 

Veganuary by stealth

Back in January 2020 my 12 year old daughter decided her resolution was to do Veganuary.  We were vegetarians already, but enjoyed the delights of Greek yogurt and cheese. But with pressure from our daughter we stopped buying dairy products during January and dived head first into vegan cooking – New Year’s Resolutions by stealth! 

January rolled into the spring and summer, lockdown after lockdown and we were still eating mainly plant based meals.  To our amazement we cooked up some of the best meals. We invested in the vegan cooking book  Bosch and found some fantastic vegan cooking blogs, sharing easy vegan recipes for beginners.

Delicious vegan meals

Between us we cooked up Korean feasts, vegan “fish and chips” , Katsu curry and some rather delicious vegan bagels, cakes and cinnamon rolls.  And fast forward to January 2022 my daughter is still eating a plant based diet and myself and the rest of the family the majority of the time. 

Food for nurturing and nourishing

But food isn’t just about nourishment.  Yes we need to ensure we get the right balance of nutrients, but food can be a great nurturer too. Taking time out to cook, to sit down and enjoy your meal (light a candle for some hygge, play some music too), can really help lift spirits.  Using food to not only nourish your body but also your mind. I like to create small moments – a herbal tea in my favourite mug or indeed a square or two of dark chocolate.  Here’s a few ways that I like to nurture myself during January:

5 ways to nurture and nourish yourself in a January

Start fermenting 

Fermented foods are rich in probiotics. They help strengthen the immune system and promote a healthy gut – leading to good digestion and uptake of nutrients. 

Include fermented food into your meal repertoire.  Try making Sauerkraut (it’s not difficult at all)  or your own Kimchi.  Sauerkraut is delicious added to salads or in a sandwich. Kimchi can be added to fried rice – try this recipe. 

 

Get sprouting!

Seeds are packed with protein, fibre and iron plus they aid digestion. They are so easy to make and I always have a jar on the go. I like to sprout dry brown lentils, chickpeas and sunflower seeds.  Just take a glass jar and puncture some holes in the lid.  Put a couple of handfuls of seeds into the jar and cover with water.  Allow to soak overnight.  Then drain (with the lid, acting as a colander).  Put on a bright windowsill.  Rinse every day and drain.  Once the seeds start to sprout they are ready to eat. Great in sandwiches and salads. 

 

Eat Chocolate

Yes, chocolate! It’s good for the immune system and digestion. Opt for 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate without sugar and milk. If you love hot chocolate then January is a great time to indulge.I warm up oat milk (extra creamy) and add organic cocoa powder, agave syrup and some cinnamon.  

 

Feel the heat with Chillies

Chillies are great at removing toxins and boosting the metabolism. I always have dried chilli flakes in the cupboard. They bring a lovely warming and spicy flavour to any dish.   Fresh chillies can be bought, sliced and frozen, ready to use.  I like to grow my own , it’s really easy to do on a window sill. You can start sowing seeds in January if you can keep them warm.  I also like to make my own chilli oil – just add some dried flakes or whole dried chilies to a jar of olive oil. 

 

A lovely cup of tea! 

Herbal teas are not only great at keeping you hydrated but they can be nourishing and nurturing.  I like to make my own teas in a little tea pot and take time to enjoy the moment.  I like the aniseed flavour of fennel tea. I use fennel seeds (I use these a lot in cooking) – 1 tsp in a cup and then add hot water.  Ginger tea is so warming (great for arthritic pain and good if you are feeling nauseous) . I keep sliced ginger in the freezer – so it’s easy to add a couple of slices to a cup of hot water. The same goes for any herbs that you grow or buy – keep them fresh by freezing them.  Mint is my absolute favourite,, great to drink after dinner. 

Our Food system

I see Veganuary as a great opportunity to question what I’m eating.  What ingredients does it contain? Where is it from? How is it packaged?  All key questions when you consider our food system creates more than 20% of the UK’s CO2 emissions. It’s a huge contributor to climate change. But it isn’t just damaging our environment, it is also damaging our health. Western diets tend to include high levels of red meat, sugar, high fat foods, salt and refined grains and processed foods, all linked to obesity, heart disease and cancer.  New research, this week, suggests that the global spread of autoimmune disease is linked to western diets.  

Plant based recipes

So what about Veganuary?  Well whether you decide to cut meat and dairy from your diet permanently or just to cut down, there are so many easy plant based recipes to try.  Many of the team here at Wen are either vegan or regularly cook plant based dishes.  Our cooking workshops in Tower Hamlets are all plant based – here are some of the recipes we have used. 

The team have been sharing their favourite plant based recipes: Miso Glazed Aubergine, Grilled Portobello mushrooms, Basmati and Wild Rice and vegan and banana bread

Need some Veganuary inspiration? Here’s my top 5 veganuary recipes – all easy to make:

Fish and chips with mushy peas and tartar sauce

Quick vegan smoked salmon 

Double chocolate beetroot cake 

The World’s Easiest cinnamon rolls

Vietnamese tofu

I hope you will try some of these recipes and ideas to nurture yourself and your loved ones this winter. The sun is shining today, it feels like Spring is not too far away!  

5 of my favourite plant based and vegan bloggers:

So Vegan

Lazy Cat Kitchen

The Korean Vegan

Nora Cooks

Minimalist Baker 

 

5 vegan and plant based cookbooks in my kitchen:

Bosh 

The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Ottolenghi Flavour

Vegan Cakes and Other Bakes

The Happy Pear: Vegan Cooking for Everyone

 

By Heidi Ringshaw, Wen

We would love to know your favourite plant based recipes and tips.  Please leave a comment below. 

 

Here’s a favourite recipe from Julie Yip our Local Food Coordinator:

Saag aloo

600g wilted, cold-rinsed, squeezed, and chopped spinach (can use frozen spinach, defrosted)
1 large red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 med-large tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp ginger powder (or you could use fresh)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander powder
1 black cardamom
2 bay leaves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
Small handful fresh curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp turmeric
Fresh coriander (a whole bunch, stalks very finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped)

Fry cumin seeds, cardamom, mustard seeds, bay leaves and curry leaves in 3 tbsp oil for a few minutes on high (until the cumin is getting jumpy), add the onion and reduce heat / add a lid, until cooked down. Add the garlic for a few mins, then the tomatoes and all other spices. cook the tomatoes right down. Stir in the spinach and fresh coriander and cook on low heat with the lid on for 10-15 mins. If you’re adding potatoes, make sure to pre-boil them in salted water with turmeric in, remove and let them steam, and add just for the last 5-10 mins.

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