The past week I've been trying to follow my gluten free and vegan meal plan that I posted on Monday, which you can read about here. I decided that since I made a blog post it might be a good idea to do a follow up post - so here it is!
Most of my meal plan went successfully. There was however some divergence, but that just reinforced the life lesson that you can plan all you want, you never know how things are going to turn out.
The first day, Monday, began with a spinach and frozen banana smoothie blended with almond milk and some ground ginger. I was pretty impressed I got myself up and showered with enough time to make it! Initially I was a bit hesitant because I’ve never been into smoothies yet through the power of persuasion (I.e. YouTube and Instagram) I was converted. I would say though: if you don’t have a high speed/power blender (like me) you need to wait a bit longer for everything to be smooth. The wait is worth it!
Dinner that night was curry. I love curry and everyone knows this but I’ve never made it like this before. In a previous post on my favourite YouTube foodies I included the wonderful Kristina, a raw vegan activist whose videos are full of amazing looking recipes. One such recipe is raw curry noodles. After watching I really wanted to emulate it but my attempt actually ended up being more of an interpretation. Then I discovered that my spiraliser wasn't working and I couldn't make my zucchini/courgette noodles... Zoodles next time.
I kept the essentials: oranges and cherry tomatoes to blend with some additional spices. The extra ingredients were grated carrot and flax seed. And I know it was supposed to be a raw vegan recipe but it was Monday night, I’d been at work all day – I wanted something warm. So of course I fried some garlicky and oniony tofu in a pan, added the curry sauce and some spinach and mixed it all up. It was amazing. Fabulous. I’d definitely recommend. I just didn’t make enough for lunch the next day....
Tuesday didn’t begin as productively. Getting out of bed was a mission. One I failed at. I woke up in time to get showered etc., but just not enough time to make a smoothie (I learned from this to make my smoothie the night before and put it in the fridge.) That morning’s smoothie was supposed to be a sweet potato one, a recipe I was actually excited to try. Alas! And because I didn’t make enough of the curry, Tuesday’s lunch was a plate of chips in the work canteen....
Thankfully Tuesday wasn’t a total write off. Dinner to the rescue! I made what I initially called a vegan bowl....but without the bowl? I need to buy a nice bowl that isn’t just for cereal. It was turmeric tofu, za’atar carrots, curry sweet potatoes, chopped courgettes/zucchinis with glass noodles in the middle. The magical elements? I made my own satay sauce! The recipe for the satay came from Heather Whinney’s Virtually Vegan. It was so good! I’ve made a few different satay sauces but this was definitely the best. The final product was definitely not photogenic so no evidence.
What I ate Wednesday? I made my smoothie! Well, I technically made it the night before. This turned out to be a good idea because like Tuesday I woke up a little later than I intended so I just grabbed the smoothie and had it at my desk at work. As for lunch I didn’t really have anything, except, again, chips.... There’s something super unsettling about having a plate of chips two days in a row when you specifically planned to have proper food.
Again I made more effort at dinner and successfully made my favourite sweet potato buckwheat risotto. Buckwheat groats are a great substitute for risotto rice, and the sweet potato puree with coconut milk makes such a great combination.
Thursday’s smoothie didn’t happen... Again. It was supposed to be a chocolate blueberry zucchini smoothie which sounded great. Kind of annoyed that I never made it? You’d think when I tagged on that making smoothies the night before was a good idea I’d repeat it. Apparently not.
Lunch was a bit more substantial with my leftover risotto, much to the pleasure of my colleagues who were becoming somewhat concerned about my reliance on chips. The cooking streak continue on into the evening when I made the carrot and butternut squash soup. This. Was. Fantastic. Spicy, warm, thick; everything you want on a cold night.
Friday’s breakfast was a mango, banana and spinach smoothie with pumpkin seeds and chia seeds. I made it Thursday night after the soup and did my dishes when I thought, ‘hey, I’m going to make a smoothie!’ I didn’t just make a smoothie, I made a fancy schmancy Instagram worthy smoothie. Honestly I was so proud of how it looked I didn’t care if it tasted bad (it tasted great). Some of it was eaten and then I saved the rest for the morning at my desk.
Lunch was the leftover soup. I looked at my little tub and realised there was probably not enough for an actual meal. So, what did I do? I poured it over some chips. Yes. That’s right. I made a butternut squash and carrot chip combo. It wasn’t a runny soup (thanks to a special ingredient that made it a bit thick) so it was perfect combination.
I was so eager to finish work I came home and just sort of planted myself on the sofa. According to my plan dinner that night was to be a garlic pesto gnocchi. What actually happened? A trip to a Chinese takeaway that resulted in fried rice and chips with a vegan satay sauce. I regret nothing whatsoever. Cooking is great but when it’s Friday night and you’ve been working all week... sometimes you just want to be lazy and get take out.
By Saturday the plan was pretty much out the window. Breakfast was a smoothie made with spinach and frozen mango, blueberries and raspberries with almond milk and some maple syrup, not the pancakes I had initially planned on. It was topped with buckwheat groats, chia seeds and some coconut flakes. It was pretty good. The day continued with a trip into Belfast for vegan donuts. Not gluten free which my skin has not thanked me for....worth it, though.
For dinner I recreated my vegan bowl: turmeric/chilli tofu cubes, za’atar/sumac carrots, curry/garam masala sweet potatoes with chana saag. Ah-mazing. Not photogenic at all, but bloody fantastic.
Sunday: the final day. I planned vegan French toast for breakfast and a tofu burger for dinner. And what a surprise, that didn't happen! I actually had a banana for breakfast before doing some family visits and then came home to two bowls of cereal.
Things turned around for dinner and I made more of an effort, particularly because I'm going away on Monday and stuff needed used up. I made my own sort of fajitas. There was cauliflower sitting in the fridge that I turned into cauliflower seasoned with peri peri salt. Then I made my own chickpea flour wraps, a small tomato salsa, and chopped some sweet potato fries marinated in cajun, chilli powder and paprika. The main component was Oomph kebab pieces, made from soy which I fried in a pan with some diced carrot. It was a fantastic Sunday dinner!
- Conclusion -
Was making a meal plan worth it? It was and it wasn’t. I had the ingredients for all the meals in my kitchen so no extra shopping was needed. My thought process was that maybe if I had a list of my meals and the ingredients I’d definitely make them.
Yet tiredness and life got in the way and I had to be a bit flexible. If I were to commit to smoothies for breakfasts I would have to make them the night before to ensure I actually have a breakfast. There also has to be more of an effort to lunches. I know loads of things I can make and if they’re done the night before there’s no reason why I can’t be prepared!