I can't believe I haven't written a post about this before now!
It just hit me like a bolt of lightning: what is the biggest panic moment for most of us? (I know it is for me, even after years!) When someone wants to come over and you think: what the hell am I going to make?! How will I impress them with the brilliance of veganism? How will I ensure they don't look around longingly for a cheese slice?
Although I love cooking and sharing, it can be a panic because I'm so desperate to encourage people into this lifestyle. Food is a great way to do that, but it can go horribly wrong! I worry that I'm one dry vegan cake away from a friend never even considering making the change. I would just die if after taking a bite someone said: "sorry...cakes need eggs. OBVIOUSLY!"
We all dream of being that relaxed, kitchen goddess who casually stirs away, sipping (vegan) wine while chatting casually to her guests, looking so effortless. You can be this goddess, but I recommend: a) don't tackle something you've never made before and b) don't stress about impressing people with something crazy complicated. If you want to make an exciting meal - of course go for it, but I do have dramatic flashbacks to when I decided to invent vegan cabonara for my girlfriends at the last minute and...well...let's just not go there.
My favourite thing to do for casual get-togethers is: GRAZING PLATES! I've posted this recipe before and thought it deserved another shout-out in this context.
The best thing about preparing these is that a lot of it can be done ahead of time (less stress), it demonstrates how simple and plentiful vegan food can be and you can personalize the hell out of it. The basics are: a lovely loaf of fresh bread, olive oil, some guacamole, hummus and/or tahini dip and raw veggie sticks. After that: go crazy! Last time I made this, I did a mushroom, spinach and asparagus bowl and some sweet potato fries :)
If going for a "main meal", I would suggest making something you feel comfortable with and try to tailor for your guests. Think about who's coming - are they a health nazi, a reluctant veggie-eater, gluten intolerant? Whatever it may be (or a selection of people who are all different!) try to make something that you know everyone will enjoy.
Maybe start by preparing a few big salads to have in the centre of the table? I love having bread on a nice chopping board with some olive oil and dairy-free spread, too. Already the evening has a feeling of "abundance" and no one is going to leave this dinner party hungry and thinking that veganism = anaemia! I like one salad to be leafy greens and raw veggies so that the second one can be a bit more exciting! Maybe roasted rosemary potatoes, olive oil, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts? Mmmm!
Can you say SOUP!? Here's a really cute idea - serving a divine....oh....maybe pumpkin and coconut soup in a cute mugs for your guests to enjoy?
And when going for a main meal - make a dish you feel really comfortable with and I say: the simpler the better. Italian is always a lovely option, especially when trying to make it vegan. You can't go wrong with a delicious pesto pasta or a simple tomato, basil and garlic. Yum! I have also been to a lovely "make your own pizza" night which was great and if you want to provide cheese for your guests, that's a nice way to do it.
It goes without saying that the most important aspects of any enjoyable evening are the company and conversation. So, really, do whatever it takes to be the most relaxed and happy host you can be. I like doing a mellow playlist to have going in the background too!
Enjoy your night!
Life has taken a turn for the crazy!
My holiday in New York, sipping mochas at 2pm seems far away and now, all my ducks are in a row and quacking like mad! I've been at rehearsals most days and nights, some job trials in between and finding myself with very little time to lovingly prepare meals as I'm used to.
Also - to be honest - I'm watching my savings drain away day by day.
So, before I end up totally homeless, I acknowledge that it's time to spend less on food. I love spending stupid amounts of money on all sorts of crazy ingredients and the idea of not planning an exciting dinner seems like madness, but you know what: the times are a'changin' and....well.... I am broke.
So, I went to Sainsburys, bought a giant bag of oats (organic! Some things are sacred!), a giant sack of potatoes and some bananas. I walked out, having spent less than five pounds, thinking "wow, hypothetically I have a staple breakfast and dinner for a long time in my hands. For five pounds."
A long time ago, I heard about "The Starch Solution" by John McDougall and after reading the book, I'm CONFIDENT that potatoes are a brilliant staple for any diet. Here's a quick 2 minute video to give you a gist, in case you cannot proceed with this post because you are filled with such horror that I'm eating potatoes!
So, in my cupboards I have food to ensure I never go hungry. The idea was, if I feel like I"m going "over budget" I know I can make a dinner of potatoes with tahini dressing, or even just have a bowl of porridge, student style!
Game plan: to make life simple and CHEAP, but without my heath suffering.
You may know where this is going....basically....I wake up in the morning and make a banana smoothie or have a bowl of porridge with cinnamon. Breakfast done. I leave the house, feeling perfectly fuelled and ready to do a full day of rehearsals or work. Lunch is usually an "on the go" meal and I'm taking great pleasure in not having to think about what's for dinner.
I didn't expect this, but there is an enormous freedom coming from a very simple, uncomplicated, CHEAP diet. I feel almost zen-like and quite proud of myself. As I go throughout my day, food has literally become something I don't even need to think about. I focus on my rehearsals, scheduling my week, writing blog posts and responding to emails. I also now feel like I can use some of the money I'm saving for things I've really been wanting but thought I couldn't afford. Mostly: a membership to a gym or yoga stuido. Oh how I miss Yoga! It's amazing how money can build up when you remove one of your expenses.
It's really surprised me how much of an affect this "simple" lifestyle has had on me. Money is simple. I spend my money on what I need to (rent, bills, bus fares), I eat when I need to and when I do it's a wholesome, whole-food that is serving me and giving me exceptional mental clarity. I find I'm having more free time to do things that I thought I was too busy to do before.
Money should be coming soon, but even when I have it, I think I'll be keeping aspects of this simple lifestyle. It's really a win-win-win.
I'd like to take this opportunity to mention a fantastic resource that I'd recommend to anyone who is unsure about what they need in their diets: www.cronometer.com. It is a free online nutrition counter where you just insert what you are eating every day (it works best for whole foods, they don't really have packeted things on there) and at the end of the day it shows you exactly what amounts of iron, protein, fat and vitamins you took in that day. Fantastic right? And remember, you do not need to panic if things aren't perfect. The average person doesn't even see a vegetable in their diets, if you are eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, you are lightyears ahead already :)
It's been a big week for my little blog! I'm kind of bursting with joy right about now.
I am proud to announce that I will be doing some articles for one of my favourite websites chicvegan.com. Here is a sample of my first article: Why Do New Vegans Fail? I wanted to make sure I could share it with all of you, in case you don't subscribe to Chic Vegan. I hope you'll enjoy :)
In the last few weeks, something incredible has happened. I've actually started getting blog requests from people reading, which is quite thrilling. So if there's anything you'd like my opinion on or want me to attempt to verbalise, let me know.
Why Do New Vegans Fail?
By Hannah Ellis
"What is the hardest part of being vegan?
Missing cheese? Really wanting those leather shoes? Not being able to chow down on a greasy hotdog?
The easy answer to all those questions is: absolutely not. (And “yuck!”).
For me, it’s when I meet someone who used to be a vegan, but isn’t anymore. “What? Why?” I try not to splutter at them too harshly, remembering that I’m in public and (hopefully) not insane. I really want to understand. I want to understand how someone can take this compassionate leap and then, for whatever reason, go back to eating animal products.
The main reason I hear over and over again involves claims of feeling weak, tired or unsatisfied. Okay, let’s unpack this! My first thoughts are “what were you eating?” and “were you eating ENOUGH?” A vegan diet can be unhealthy, just as a carnivore diet can be unhealthy, which is why it’s so important to be putting good things in. Also, because fruits and vegetables are lower in calories, you need to eat a lot more of them to feel satisfied, which can be daunting for some.
There are enough people in the world (including star athletes, body-builders, and a certain former President!) who are walking, talking, thriving examples that a plant-based diet works. Thousands of people have cured life-long ailments and diseases cutting meat and diary from their plates and are now living healthy, happy and spunky lives! To be a glowing vegan success story, you can’t live on pasta, bread and chips. Make sure you’ve researched how to eat a balanced diet and you won’t run into problems (I highly recommend “Skinny Bitch” by Rory Freedmen and Kim Barnouin.) Also depending on how unhealthy you were before and how healthy you’re eating now, you may experience detox symptoms, which can be unpleasant, but are a good thing and will pass.
To be honest – I don’t believe this is the reason why people fall off the wagon. All you need to do is type “vegan” into Google and there is a wealth of brilliant books, websites and research about how to go vegan properly. So, assuming your motivation is in place and your health is not suffering, what accounts for a new vegan deciding to bow out?"
Full article continued here....
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