Keto (Vegan) Kale & Courgette Tahini Salad

If you’re one of those who thinks kale is unpleasant or bitter, you’re not alone. It’s one of those ‘super foods’ many people avoid, knowing it’s good for you, but also knowing it is quite bitter. Since starting keto, I’ve been eating lots of salads and trying to incorporate healthy fats where possible, this recipe is the perfect balance of the two.

This is a raw food (vegan) recipe. Being raw makes it more nutritious. It’s as simple as spiralising some courgette, tossing it together with the raw kale and knocking up a quick dressing. I knew the dressing had to pack a punch in order to mask that bitter tasting kale, it’s full of flavour and I know you won’t be disappointed.

kale

This recipe serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 courgettes, spiralised
  • 100g curly kale, chopped
  • 20g coriander, freshly chopped
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, miced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce (leave this out if following strict keto)
  • Juice of 1 lime

Method

  1. Place the kale and courgette into a large bowl
  2. Mix together the tahini, oils, soy, Sriracha, garlic, giner and lime in a bowl to make the dressing
  3. Pour the dresssing over the kale and courgette, mix well to coat
  4. Plate up the salad and garnish with the fresh chilli and corinader

What I look like after 6 weeks on a ketogenic diet (lifestyle)

As the title would suggest, I’ve been on somewhat of a health kick since early January. My husband, daughter and I went away to the US over Christmas which meant we spent the best part of three weeks in ‘holiday eating mode’. As if Christmas time doesn’t leave you feeling as though you’ve over indulged enough. I started going to the gym last year and having a session once a week with a personal trainer, but I really didn’t get that into the zone.

Having piled on quite a few unwanted pounds (like 20), I decided, even before our holiday, I needed to re-frame and get myself fit, healthy and feeling good again. Why does it take more effort, willpower and time to lose weight than it does to gain it?

Having tried various ‘diets’ in the past, I’ve only had mild success with the likes of Slimming World, or low fat style diets and found that I always felt hungry. I figured I’d switch things up this year and try something totally different. I started researching the ketogenic diet. If you are not familiar, keto is high fat, moderate protein, very low carbohydrate and no sugar. Essentially, it goes against everything you’ve every been taught about a ‘healthy diet’.

I have held off from writing this post for one of two reasons. Like any diet, I didn’t know how long I’d be able to stick to it and how strict I could be with myself. But, the main reason is because I wanted to see how effective the diet would be.

Fast forward six weeks, and I’ve lost 10 pounds and 3.5 inches off my waist, I feel much more energised and I’ve been keeping up a regular routine of working out at least 3 times a week, but often 4, even 5. I’ve kept up my personal training sessions on a Monday evening, I feel this helps set me up for the week.

For the most part, keto does not feel like a diet. I mean name me another diet where you can eat bacon (with the fat on), cheese and double cream. I’ve been having a variety of foods such as steak, oily fish, avocado, nuts, seeds, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and my absolute favourite Brussels sprouts). I’ve also experimented with some keto baking (cookies and brownies with plant based sweetener).

Cutting out carbohydrates, or cutting your intake down to below 20g a day is quite challenging at first. Take your usual diet and turn it on it’s head, you practically have to retrain your brain to not be scared of fats. You have to completely avoid anything with carbs and sugar. Even carbs or gains that you perhaps considered as ‘healthy ‘ such as quinoa, brown rice and oats become a no go on keto.

So let’s talk about ‘Keto Flu’. I had done a LOT of research before I started. I’d read that when transitioning into a ketogenic lifestyle your body undergoes some big changes. Having a typical carbohydrate heavy diet means my body was used to burning carbohydrates for fuel/energy. When you stop the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar, your body enters a state of ketosis which means it has to switch to using fat as it’s main source of energy. During this transition, you can experience symptoms such as headaches, nausea and fatigue. Essentially your body is experiencing a sugar withdrawal process.  Also, when you stop eating carbohydrates your body doesn’t retain as much water and therefore you lose naturally lose salt (which needs to be replenished).

In order to reduce the effect of keto flu there are a few things you can do. Drinking more water is advised, taking a magnesium supplement and adding pink salt to your water and meals. I managed to avoid these symptoms, for the most part, by following this advice.

I can honestly say, six weeks in, my sugar cravings have all but disappeared and I really do not have the same relationship with food as I once did. I have more energy and enthusiasm to workout and for the first time in… ever… am not thinking about food 24 hours of the day.

The thing with keto is that you are eating fat rich meals that keep you feeling fuller for longer. I have found myself naturally fasting until 2.30pm which I would never have thought possible.

Anyway… why am I telling you all of this? I guess because I’m starting to cook more real food again and will likely be posting more low carb recipes over the coming weeks and months.

Before I go, I really don’t want to (at the risk of embarrassing myself), but feel as though I should post this 6 week transformation picture for you. Proof that cutting out carbs and sugar works. I’ve also included a few snaps of the types of meals I’ve been eating on keto.

My top tips for starting keto (from my own experience)

  • Research before you start (I mean, really spend some time understanding how the diet works, what you can and cannot eat). After all, failing to plan is planning to fail.
  • Be prepared for keto flu and have some electrolytes ready (magnesium and pink salt)
  • Don’t give up in the first week, no matter how hard it feels, you’ll feel amazing after the initial shock
  • Ignore the haters that tell you eating all that fat cannot be good for you, sugar is the real devil
  • Meal prep like a boss, make sure you have plenty of keto friendly snacks on hand a make double portions of meals you can freeze for days when you are in a hurry
  • Join a social media group (like Keto Beginners UK on FB) so you can benefit from knowledge, recipes and support from others following the same diet

Japanese Vegetarian Ramen

I’ve long been a fan of Japanese ramen. It’s like a warm embrace in a steaming bowl of deliciousness and yesterday’s wet weather lent itself nicely to having a bowl for supper. The air has felt very autumnal over the past few days, which makes me incredibly happy. Cosy clothes, crisp mornings and bright blue skies, crimson leaves and steaming hot ramen recipes. What’s not to love? It is undoubtedly my favourite time of the year, for so many reasons, but mostly for the warming hearty food.

68729247_10162059490260557_7897040433102979072_n (1)There are many variations of Japanese ramen, using a different base for your broth, they pretty much all start out with a stock of some kind, usually pork. I used a mushroom stock for mine as I wanted a vegetarian version. I made a mushroom stock using dried mushrooms soaked in boiling water and opted for a Shoyu or ‘Soy Sauce’ flavoured ramen. The depth of flavour from the mushrooms is incredible.

You really can throw this together in just 15 minutes, and it’s so versatile, you can swap out your base broth and toppings depending on what you have in. You can use miso instead of soy, or teriyaki if you have it. In terms of toppings, pak choi, spring onion, bean sprouts and water chestnuts are all great. The best part for me is the boiled egg, when it soaks in the salty broth it’s just delicious.

Ingredients

  • 50g Shiitake mushrooms
  • 50g Exotic mushroons
  • 40g dried mushrooms, such as porcini
  • 100ml light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 stalk of pak choi
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced
  • Small bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 nest of wholewheat egg noodles
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Method

  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in 500ml of boiling water for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, boil one medium egg. Six minutes is perfect for that still slightly gooey yolk. When your egg has only 2 minutes left, set a steamer on top of the saucepan and pop in your pak choi.
  3. Add the soaked mushrooms in their stock to a pan, add the fresh mushrooms, the soy, rice wine vinegar and the noodles.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and a twist or two of freshly cracked black pepper.
  5. Leave the broth to simmer on a very low heat until the noodles are just cooked.
  6. Meanwhile peal the egg, cut in half and place in a deep serving bowl with the pak choi.
  7. Remove the noodles from the broth and place in the bowl, pour the hot broth and mushrooms into the bowl.
  8. Garnish with spring onion, chilli, coriander and sesame seeds.

Tex Mex Chicken Salad

Happy new year y’all. I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas. If it was anything like mine I’m sure you’ll have consumed far too much alcohol, turkey and chocolate, the same as every year, no doubt.

And in the same vein, the same as every January, I have a hankering for healthy food. I wanted to share with you my favorite salad recipe. I had a count up and I posted seven different versions of this recipe on my Instagram last year. SEVEN! So you know it’s been road tested and fine tuned to ensure maximum deliciousness.

It’s a combination of delicious Mexican flavours, and it has everything – chicken, spices, avocado (who doesn’t love it?) and a bit of punch and zing from the lime and fresh coriander. If you love Tex Mex food this will be right up your street. It’s even better washed down with Corona, but if you’re being healthy (new year, new you) perhaps not. This is sure to brighten up your January! Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019.

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This recipe serves two hungry people.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Cajun spice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 200g sweetcorn, drained and rinsed
  • Half a red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp of natural yoghurt
  • 140g bag of baby leaf salad
  • I lime, sliced into wedges
  • 1 Avocado, sliced
  • Small handful of salted tortilla chips
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees (180 fan).
  2. Place the chicken on a sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper, rub the chicken with the spices and season well. Place in the oven to cook for 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, wash the salad and place into a large salad bowl, top with the sliced avocado, sprinkle on the sweetcorn and the sliced red onion.
  4. Top with tortilla chips and chopped coriander.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven, slice and place on top of the salad.
  6. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime and a dollop of natural yoghurt.