First day of being vegan was, unsurprisingly, extremely easy. I have probably spent far too much time on this endeavour – I spent a good deal of time over the last two days planning what I was going to be cooking for this week (mostly so I could make sure we had the ingredients for everything when we ordered our groceries online, partly because I was a little excited at trying new recipes). Then today I spent several hours cooking, washing up and photographing the food I was making for the blog. That said, because I was working from home today (and we had dinner at home) I was not faced with any challenges or temptations, the flip side being that I had to make two-and-a-half cooked meals. But I will have plenty of left-overs for future meals. And it was pretty great food – the only time I remotely missed any animal products was during a (rather long) period of desiring a nice, milky cup of tea.
From what I ate today I had only half the recommended daily intake of iron, and about 3/5 the recommended amount of protein. This is what I suspected: it is harder getting protein and iron into a vegan diet, given what I like to eat. But, given what I like to eat (food that has lots of vegetables and is based mostly in carbs) it doesn’t mark much of a change. There are, however, plenty of ways to get protein into a vegan diet – it just means stepping out of my comfort zone a little bit, which is something I intend to do this week. On the plus side, my diet for the day was very high in fibre, low in calories, and packed with all those lovely vitamins that vegetables give you. To be honest, though, I care about this a whole lot less than I care about the fact that the food was really good.
Vegan Menu, Day 1
Breakfast – Porridge made with water (according to the instructions on the packet) with banana, toasted almonds and a sprinkling of brown sugar.
Lunch – Pea and Mint Soup (see below for the recipe)
Dinner - Roasted Potatoes with Tapenade (recipe to follow shortly)
The porridge could use some work, but this was less to do with being cooked without milk (which I like to do) and more to do with the fact that instant oats just aren’t as good as the long-soak oats, and because it was too sweet with the banana and the brown sugar.
The soup on the other hand was great. We have made it many times before – I have always loved pea soup, especially as a light meal when the weather is hot. I used to make it with butter, but substituting in olive oil has no noticeable effect on flavour. It is fantastically easy, and I would suggest you serve it with some nice crusty bread so it is sufficiently filling.
I got the recipe for the roasted potatoes with tapenade from The Big Book of Vegetarian by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley. This book is a fantastic resource for vegan (and vegetarian) recipes, and will no doubt be making many appearances this month. I have to say, keep an eye out for the recipe which I shall post very soon, because it was utterly delicious. At no point did I wish I was eating something else, and at no point did I think it could be improved with the addition of any animal product. I consider it the first triumph of the month: learning a recipe that I will definitely use again.
Pea and Mint Soup
(Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten - Makes enough for 5-6)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large or 3 medium leeks
1 medium yellow onion
3.5 cups of vegetable stock*
700g (25oz) frozen peas (or however much you get in a large bag – you don’t have to be too accurate)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
Salt and pepper
Croutons (to serve)
Wash the leeks well, and slice the white, soft parts. Chop the onion. On medium, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot, and cook the leeks and onion until soft and glassy (about 5-10 minutes). Add vegetable stock, and leave on the heat until the liquid begins to boil. Add the frozen peas and return to the boil. While the peas are cooking, roughly chop the mint leaves. As soon as the liquid reaches boiling again, take off the heat and stir in the mint, a large pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper.
Blend the soup in batches, reserving a little bit of the liquid so you can control the texture (adding it all if you want it thinner, or setting some aside if you want it thicker). Serve with croutons (I easily found vegan croutons in the supermarket), chopped-up chives, or (if you are not avoiding dairy) sour cream or a dollop of crème fraîche.
The soup will store in the fridge for several days.
*A good stock is really important for a delicious soup. Try not to go for low-sodium options as you will end up having to heavily salt the soup later. If you live in Australia, I recommend Massel Stock cubes – they even have really great chicken and beef flavoured stock that is entirely vegan.