Nutrition

Plantie curious

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THE SCENIC ROUTE
My journey towards whole food plant based definitely didn’t happen overnight like it does for some people. It might have had something to do with the fact that, as a mum of three, what I cook has to be right for more than just me. I’ve never been a big meat eater, but about eight years ago I started to get more curious about the idea of your whole plate being just plants when I read Hugh Fernley Whittingstalls book Veg Everyday. At that stage I had a four year old and a two year old, so I was still cooking meat for them, but I started to eat mainly plant based myself. Dairy was a more gradual process of reduction over the course of the last few years. When I’m asked about food choices I say I’m 'whole food plant based', although I’m probably Vegan I rather the all encompassing more welcoming term of plant based. We’ve gotten a bit obsessed with boxing everyone into categories and we all eat plants to some degree!

I was much slower to introduce the kids to this way of eating. I haven’t taken the step lightly. I have read an enormous amount about kids on plant based, and watched documentaries like What the Health and Forks over Knives. Happy that this is the best way for them too, we’ve all started to mainly eat the same way over the course of the last year. On special family occasions, and diners out, I encourage them to make their own choices. I feel helping them to embrace this way of eating as their own decision is an important part of their journey. And if it’s not part of the journey they choose there is no judgement.

STRAIGHT TO THE SOURCE
What does meat and dairy add to your diet? The obvious answer being protein and calcium. Protein builds and repairs muscles, and calcium gives us strong bones. I’m not disputing that they are definitely essential nutrients, but animals don’t make these nutrients, so where do they get the protein and calcium? They eat it in their plant based diets. Why not cut out the ‘middle man’, so to speak, and go straight to source – eat plants! Not only is it a purer form of protein and calcium but it is more readily absorbed by our bodies. If you are eating a whole food plant based diet – full of a variety of veg, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains – you’ll meet your daily requirement of protein, calcium and all your nutritional requirements everyday, whether you lead a sedentary life or you’re training for a ultra marathon. It’s actually quite easy to over consume protein, leading to increased fat stores and unnecessary strain on the heart and the kidneys.

QUESTION THE NORM
Meat causes inflammation in the system and is much harder for the body to digest. True carnivores have much shorter intestines to ensure the meat moves out of their system before it rots. Our intestine are more like herbivores and our canines are nothing like a carnivores, or in fact other omnivores. The function of cows milk is to create rapid grown in a small calf. When the calf is eating well it naturally weens – it no longer needs rapid cell growth. So why do humans (not even cows) feel we need rapid cell growth throughout our whole lives? This rapid cell growth, which all dairy causes, is what potentially causes problems with cancer patients who consume dairy.

THE WESTERN DIET
We are living longer, but we are sicker and more medicated than ever before, and from an earlier age. We have made great leaps in prevention of death from infections, but through the way we live our lives we have created new health concerns. Our current four main risks, called ‘lifestyle diseases’, are heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. A plant based diet has been proven to prevent and reverse heart disease, diabetes and obesity, prevent and reduce cell growth in cancer. There are many mixed messages from marketing campaigns created by the agriculture industry to cause confusion. In the hope that they will cause enough doubt to make the public stick with what they’ve been told is right, rather than question it.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE
I have to admit my springboard into plant based was about wanting to feel and look well in myself. As I go along on this exploration I’m learning more about the effects animal agriculture has on our environment – from deforestation to grow grain for livestock; water pollution from livestock; and that 51% of our gas emissions comes from livestock. 40% of the world’s surface is used for agriculture and of that 30% is used to rear animals. We can feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem and think ‘how can one person make a difference’. One burger takes 460 gallons of water, 1.5 acres of land, and the equivalent gas emissions of driving a car twenty miles. An average person on a western diet consumes 7,000 animals in their lifetime – that’s a lot of animals, water, deforestation and gas emissions per person!

WHERE TO NOW
So where do you start if you want to find out more information. Check out the Veganuary website to answer all your questions and get some plantie recipe to get you started. I’ve been doing the plantie thing for a few years now but I still feel I have so much to learn, and as a mum it’s my responsibility to keep delving. So I’ve just signed up to The Happy Pear online Happy Heart Course and look forward to lots more recipe ideas and some inspirational online talks with the Flynn twins. It’s about being well and feeling more inline with nature. Building a sustainable future for the next generation and being healthy and happy.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

Flapjacks, sweet & savoury

Flapjacks are one of my favourite snack foods. Sweet flapjacks are just the right amount of treat, and savoury can be used anytime of day. You will always find a batch of flapjacks in our kitchen cupboards, ready for a quick snack. They’re also a healthy school lunchbox filler, that can be thrown together on a Sunday night and used for the whole week. You can play around with lots of different flavour combinations to keep them interesting. Remember to get your kids used to the savoury versions too, so they don’t always expect sweet treats in their lunchbox!

Traditional shop-bought flapjacks are sold as a healthy option, but they are actually loaded with sugar. Homemade is always a better option for controlling the sugar content. When I started making homemade flapjacks, I found that when I adjusted the ratio of oats to sugar/fat, I ended up with a batch of granola rather than flapjacks! Over the last few years I’ve become obsessed with finding the ‘golden oat to binder ratio’, and after several frustrating crumbling batches, I’ve finally found a method that works for me! By experimenting with different ingredients that have binding qualities like tahini, nut butters, chia seed or psyllium husk, you can reduce the sugar/fat ratio of your flapjacks. Making them a better choice for a healthy treat, or a savoury snack, than shop-bought flapjacks or energy bars.

If you're still having problems getting your flapjacks to stay together, try milling about half your flakes to a flaky crumb in a food processor. I cut my flapjacks before baking and I use a coffee press to compress the mixture into the tin. I press them again when they come out of the oven, and let them cool for about 30min before carefully flipping them out of the tray and re-cutting. Cooling them is an important step, but don't let them cool in the tray for too long or your base will get soggy with the steam of the hot oats. 

A lot of recipes use banana or apple sauce to bind the oats together, but I prefer my flapjacks crunchy. You’ll see in my ‘Flapjack Builder’ there is an option for using grated carrot or apple, makeing sure you give them a good squeeze to remove as much of the liquid as possible, so your flapjack doesn’t end up more like a dense baked slice than a crunchy flapjack. I find the banana apple sauce versions end up tasting a bit soggy after a day or two. If your flapjack stays crunchy it can last for up to a week in an airtight container. I don’t store my flapjacks in the fridge for the same reason; they end up a bit on the soggy side.

My current favourite version is an oatie base with dates, goji and lots of seeds and nuts. I use about 10 dates which add just about the right amount of sweetness and help to bind them together. Have a go at making your own sweet or savoury flavour combinations. Click on the  ‘Flapjack Builder’ above, print it out and get experimenting!

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

Where to find iron

How do you ensure you're getting adequate levels of iron on a plant based diet? As someone who has had a history of low iron levels, I am always concerned that I am eating adequate levels of Iron. I have gradually been moving towards a more plant based diet and generally only eat meat once or twice a week, mainly because I feel so much better when I eat this way.

Iron is an essential mineral for development and growth and is used to form Haemoglobin which is used to transports oxygen to all parts of the body. Iron is also required for the efficient functioning of the immune system. When Iron levels are low it can lead to a condition called Anaemia which results in feelings of fatigue and weakness. So if your Iron levels run low you are going to start to feel pretty lethargic and will be much more susceptible to that bug going around.

There is no doubt that the easiest source of Iron for the body to absorb is in the form of meat (this is called Heme Iron)  but there are many non-Heme sourced options that are actually central to most plant based diet recipes. Pulses including chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and tofu are all excellent sources of non-Heme iron. Also, sprouted beans and seeds such as aduki beans, alfalfa and sunflower seeds. Green leafy vegetables including spinach, broccoli, cabbage and the ever trendy kale also contain Iron. Nuts (in particular almonds and cashews) and dried fruit (especially apricots and dates) are also good sources of iron.

However, it is important to remember that plant based Iron is a littler harder for the body to absorb, however, this can be significantly helped by consuming Iron in combination with a source of vitamin C. This can actually increase the rate of adsorption by as much as 3 times. An easy way to do this would be adding a lemon juice and olive oil dressing on your spinach salad. If you add some sweet peppers and tomatoes to your salad you have added in a bit more vitamin C on top too!

The current recommended daily value for Iron is 14mg, this value is for women who require slightly more daily Iron intake then men whose daily requirement is 10mg a day.

Liver which is often cited as a superior form source of iron contains 6.40 mg per 100g.  Pumpkin seeds surprisingly contain 8.82mg per 100g. So, while you are unlikely to eat 100g of pumpkin seeds in one go, it does show the benefit of the tablespoon thrown into your morning porridge or onto a yoghurt during the day. An 200g serving of lean grilled sirloin steak contains 3.84mg of Iron while one cup of boiled black beans actually contains 4.56mg! So a vegetable and bean chilli can be an excellent nutritious, delicious and Iron rich meal.

An example of a dish that I cook very often is a comforting Dahl made with red split lentils (1 cup of boiled lentils containing 6.8mg of Iron as well as protein) and with added vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms (morel mushrooms have the highest levels of iron so definitely worth getting when they are available) and some spinach (180g spinach contains 6.4 mg Iron). So you can see how by eating a wide variety of vegetable and pulses you can easily ensure that your body is getting adequate levels of Iron from a non-heme sources.

And as for that last minute couple of tablespoons of parsley you throw on top of a dish, well this humble herb is surprisingly another great source of iron (2 tablespoons giving  0.47mg) so definitely worth finishing off your dishes with a sprinkling of this on top.

And the best news of all? Dark chocolate (70%min) actually contains very high levels of Iron (100g containing 11.9mg). While it's not a great idea to eat an entire bar of chocolate, a couple of squares of this will add to your daily required intake giving you an extra 2.38mg.  So for once your treat is really doing you good !

Print out the charts above and use them to occasionally check your meal for iron content. You'd be surprised how it naturally adds up throughout your day.

Here are some suggestions on how you can incorporate plant based iron into your diet.

QUINOA
Iron Content:
3mg per 1 cup
Uses: swap rice with quinoa in rice dishes for some extra protein or use them in risottos. Cook up a batch and add to salads throughout the week. It can also be used instead of oats as a quinoa porridge. I’ve even come across it used in raw peanut and date flapjacks or as the flour substitute in pizzas!

OATS
Iron Content:
1.7mg per ½ cup
Uses: oats have so many uses! Start your day with a hot bowl of porridge, make an overnight bircher muesli or a batch of granola to sprinkle on them. Add to your smoothies to thicken it and make it more filling. Make a batch of flapjacks to snack on, sweet or even better savour! Use them to replace breadcrumbs in recipes for falafels or veggie burgers. Oats can also be used  as a substitute for flour in baking. Make some oat flour in your food processor and experiment with your next bake, start with a half and half substitution until you get the feel for how it behaves in baking.

LENTILS
Iron Content:
6.8mg per 1 cup
Uses: add into soups, curries and stews to make them more filling. Cook up a batch and use them in salads, falafel and veggie burgers throughout the week. For a quick cupboard dinner cook up a pot of lentils and add a lovely runny poached egg, a handful of fresh herbs and a dollop of hummus if you have some.

CHICKPEAS, KIDNEY BEANS, BUTTER BEANS, CANNELLINI BEANS, BLACK BEANS, HARICOT BEANS & MUNG BEANS
Iron Content:
5mg-7mg per 1 cup
Uses: to mix it up you can make hummus out of any of the above legume. Legume are the main source of protein in plant-based soups, stews and curries. Make a big hotpot for the weekend with a mix of different legume, a tin of tomatoes, some chopped veg and your favourite herbs and spices. You can also add them to salads and Buddha Bowls. Roasted chickpeas with a sprinkle of cumin make a great lunchbox snack too. I also use chickpea flour, often called gram flour, to make socca pancakes or pizzas.

SUNFLOWER, SESAME & PUMPKIN SEEDS
Iron Content:
8.82mg per ¼ cup
Uses: sprinkle on morning porridge, salads, soups, stews, curries, or just about anything to add a bit of crunchy texture and some protein. They are also the main ingredient in lots of energy balls recipes. I make my own tahini by lightly toasting the sesame seeds in the oven at 180oC for 10min and blending in a high powered blender until they become a creamy liquid. I use it as a base for salad dressings, hummus, dips and even add a dessert spoon to bircher muesli before soaking.

MUSHROOMS
Iron Content:
8.4mg per 1 cup
Uses: add to stir fries, ramens, pasta dishes, risottos, omelettes or your Buddha Bowls. Mushrooms are a very versatile veg and are great for adding an earthy meaty flavour to veg burgers or just about any dish. They are also one of the few food sources of Vitamin D. Our daily requirement of Vitamin D is usually absorbed from the sun, but with the lack of outdoor activities, sunny days or applying suncreams daily (which is essential for skin protection) we’re most likely not getting enough Vitamin D.

APRICOTS
Iron Content:
2.2mg per ¼ cup
Uses: add some dried apricots into your morning porridge, while it cook until they soften, and add a lovely sweet flavour to your porridge. Chop them up and add them to overnight bircher muesli or a batch of homemade granola. Add to a batch or flapjacks to naturally sweeten them and add a chewy texture to the crunchy oats. You can also use them as a natural sweetener in your morning smoothies.

PARSLEY
Iron Content:
0.47mg per 2 tbsp
Uses: add to omelettes, roast veg, stir fries, veg burger or sprinkle on top of your Buddha Bowls. Make a parsley pesto as a change from the traditional basil version. Blend a handful up with 2:1 oil and vinegar, to drizzle over salads.

SPINACH
Iron Content:
6.4mg per 1 cup
Uses: fresh spinach works best in smoothies, you can freeze fresh spinach to use throughout the week. When it freezes it breaks up into little shards which makes it easier to store in your freezer and easier to fit in your blender!  I also keep a bag of frozen spinach cubes to add to Buddha Bowls, stir-fries, soups, stews, curries or just about anything that needs an added bit of a green benefits.

CHOCOLATE
Iron Content:
11.9mg per 100g
Uses: no need to explain the uses of chocolate! Just make sure to stick to anything over 70%, the higher the percentage the lower the amount of added sugar.


ORLA McBRIDE

Along with two of her friends Orla set up Noodies, an online resource to promote small independent food businesses, artisan producers and growers on one platform. You can follow them on Instagram and Facebook to get some top tips and to keep up to date on the food scene.

Sunshine salad bowls

The sun finally arrived last week and marking the start of salad season in our house. To celebrate the sunshine, the farmers' markets and vegetable aisles of the supermarkets are overflowing with juicy, vibrant and interesting fruit and veg, a welcome change from wintery, earthy root veg. This sudden change of season has inspired me to design my Salad Bowl Builder - based on the principles of the Buddha Bowl Builder. It's very easy to get stuck in a salad rut, always sticking to the same recipes everyday. Eating the same thing every day will make anything taste bland by the end of the week! There are so many different combinations of tasty salads that you can throw together. Having the Salad Builder at hand will remind you of the endless variety of veg you can use, keeping it fresh with every meal, and providing an abundant variety of nutrition throughout the week. 

When building the salad bowls you can either stick to raw veg, or have a mix of raw and roasted or steamed. Make sure to cool your cooked veg, or the heat will wilt your lovely fresh salad veg. Roast your veg in the morning, or the night before, and have them ready to pop into your salad just before the dressing.

Dressings can change a salad from a simple bowl of pretty veg into a taste explosion, bringing all the flavours and textures together. To save time I usually make a jar of salad dressing at the start of the week. I also try to have a jar of pesto or hummus to add to salad bowls. My gang love an interesting dollop of something that they can choose to dip things into, or mix it all up together into a salad-y mush!

Adding a handful of nuts, seeds and other 'twists', is something you can easily forget to do in the anticipation of tucking into your lovely salad bowl, but it's definitely worth doing. It adds an extra layer of flavour, and a crunch of texture.

For a speedy and tasty throw-together salad bowl, click on the 'Salad Bowl Builder' above, print it out and keep it in your culinary headquarters. Buy some veg that you'd never consider trying and see how it works in a salad. Think outside the box and get creative. I never though thought of making spaghetti out of courgettes or rice out of cauliflower, until I tried it and found it was amazingly delicious!

Enjoy!

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

Where to find protein

If you were asked which has a higher serving of protein, a cup of milk or half a cup of oats, you’d probably say milk. But oats actually have 13g of protein per ½ cup, and milk, surprising enough, only has 8g per cup. I follow predominantly a plant-based diet, but I sometimes wondered if I was getting enough protein, until I started researching sources of protein for this article.

Protein is an important building block for new cells and helps you to feel fuller for longer, but recently the focus on protein intake has escalated to the point where other food groups have been forgotten, or come second place. As a result of this protein frenzy, there’s been a surge in protein supplement drinks and powders on the market. The recommended daily amount of protein depends on your age and activity, but on average it is 55g for men and 45g for women. If you are eating a balanced diet you are most likely reaching your daily requirement.

If you are particularly active or are using smoothies as your meal, a natural source protein powder can keep your energy levels up and satiate you till your next meal. When picking a protein powder check the ingredients, and make sure they are from a natural source like hemp, rice or pea protein, with nothing else! If the ingredients have long unpronounceable names, the protein is not from a natural source and will be harder for your body to utilise. So when you compare a gym protein powder with a health shop equivalent, the health shop version may be a little lower, but it is a readily available source of protein which is absorbed by the body more efficiently, as nature intended!

During the winter months I crave warm comforting foods, but during summer I sometimes make green smoothies for my breakfast or a lunch on the go. Smoothies use the ‘whole' veg or fruit including all the fibre which keeps you fuller for longer than a juice. I make my smoothies predominantly out of veg, with a small amount of fruit, and I sometimes use a natural protein powder to make them more filling. The brands I use are Nua Naturals Hemp Protein Powder, Pulsin Hemp Protein Powder or for an all round superfood with lots of other benefits Superlife, Superfood Mix.

Protein powders may have their uses but proteins found in whole foods are a far superior and natural choice. We all know that meat, fish, dairy and eggs are good sources of protein; but where else is it found? Whether you follow a plant-based diet or not, it is always good to add variety. Meat and fish are a good source of protein, but these days the quality of meat on offer and the methods of production are questionable. Eat good quality meat (which can be expensive!) once or twice a week. This gives you the chance to explore different sources of protein and add more nutritionally dense food to your plate at the same time!

Print out the charts above and use them to occasionally check your meal for protein content. You'd be surprised how it naturally adds up throughout your day, reaching your daily requirement without having to worry about adding powders and supplements. We all survived before we could scientifically quantify the amount of protein in a pea. Nature is clever that way!

Here are some great, and some surprising, sources of protein, with suggestions on how you can incorporate them into your diet.

QUINOA
Protein Content:
11g per 1/2 cup
Uses: swap rice with quinoa in rice dishes for some extra protein or use it in risottos. Cook up a batch and add to salads throughout the week. It can also be used instead of oats as a quinoa porridge. I’ve even come across it used in raw peanut and date flapjacks or as the flour substitute in pizzas!

BUCKWHEAT
Protein Content:
6g per 1 cup
Uses: try replacing some of your oats in your morning porridge with buckwheat groats to add a bit of texture. Buckwheat flakes or groats can be used in bircher muesli and granola too. They also do the same job as oats and lentils in falafel and veggie burgers.

AMARANTH
Protein Content:
15g per 1 cup
Uses: like quinoa, amaranth is actually a seed. Add a handful into your morning porridge for a nutty sweetness. Pop it like you would popcorn for a healthy snack or use it to thicken soups and stews.

LENTILS
Protein Content:
18g per 1 cup
Uses: add into soups, curries and stews to make them more filling. Cook up a batch and use them in salads, falafel and veggie burgers throughout the week. For a quick cupboard dinner cook up a pot of lentils and add a lovely runny poached egg, a handful of fresh herbs and a dollop or hummus if you have some.

OATS
Protein Content:
13g per ½ cup
Uses: oats have so many uses! Start your day with a hot bowl of porridge, make an overnight bircher muesli or a batch of granola to sprinkle on top. Add to your smoothies to thicken it and make it more filling. Make a batch of flapjacks to snack on, sweet or even better savoury! Use them to replace breadcrumbs in recipes for falafels or veggie burgers. Oats can also be used  as a substitute for flour in baking. Make some oat flour in your food processor and experiment with your next bake, start with a half and half substitution until you get the feel for how it behaves in baking.

HEMP SEED
Protein Content:
10g per 2 tbsp
Uses: add to your morning porridge, smoothies and yoghurt. Sprinkle on top of salads and Buddha Bowls for a nutty texture. Add to flapjacks or energy balls.

CHIA SEED
Protein Content:
4g per 2 tbsp
Uses: try making chia pudding as a change from your morning porridge. Add to your morning porridge or smoothies to add texture and make them more filling. Chia seeds can also be used as an egg substitute in baking for vegans or if you've just run out of eggs! For each ‘egg’ required mix 1 tbsp seeds with 2 tbsp water and let it sit for 10 mins.

SUNFLOWER, SESAME & PUMPKIN SEEDS
Protein Content:
7g per ¼ cup
Uses: sprinkle on morning porridge, salads, soups, stews, curries, or just about anything to add a bit of crunchy texture and some protein. They are also the main ingredient in lots of energy balls recipes. I make my own tahini by lightly toasting the sesame seeds in the oven at 180oC for 10min and blending in a high powered blender until they become a creamy liquid. I use it as a base for salad dressings, hummus, dips and even add a dessert spoon to bircher muesli before soaking.

ALMONDS, CASHEWS, HAZELNUTS WALNUTS & BRAZIL NUTS
Protein Content:
7g per ¼ cup
Uses: sprinkle on morning porridge, salads, soups, stews, curries and roast veg. Add to flapjacks and energy balls. Pick up a nut butter at your health food store or better still make your own batch. All it needs is a packet of your favourite nuts and a high power blender using the same method as my homemade tahini above. Add to morning porridge, smoothies, spread on sourdough toast, or add to salad dressings for an extra nutty flavour. Cashew butter is my favourite at the moment. It has a natural sweetness that taste like cookie dough! I use it in baking too, it adds a natural sweetness and moisture to bakes like brownies or banana bread.

CHICKPEAS, KIDNEY BEANS, BUTTER BEANS, CANNELLINI BEANS, BLACK BEANS, HARICOT BEANS & MUNG BEANS
Protein Content:
15g per 1 cup
Uses: to mix it up you can make hummus out of any of the above legume. Legume are the main source of protein in plant-based soups, stews and curries. Make a big hotpot for the weekend with a mix of different legume, a tin of tomatoes, some chopped veg and your favourite herbs and spices. You can also add them to salads and Buddha Bowls. Roasted chickpeas with a sprinkle of cumin make a great lunchbox snack too. I also use chickpea flour, often called gram flour, to make socca pancakes or pizzas.

GREEN BEANS
Protein Content:
13g per 1 cup
Uses: add to salads, stir fries, stews, curries and Buddha Bowls. Or simply lightly steam and have them as a side veg with your dinner.

PEAS
Protein Content:
9g per 1 cup
Uses: I use peas a lot, I find they’re one of the best freezer friendly veg and are handy to instantly increase the veg volume of any dinner plate! Try blending them into your hummus to add a slightly sweet kick. Add to salads, stir-fries, soups and Buddha Bowls. They can also be used blended into falafel and veggie burgers.

SPINACH
Protein Content:
7g per 1 cup
Uses: fresh spinach works best in smoothies, you can freeze fresh spinach to use throughout the week. When it freezes it breaks up into little shards which makes it easier to store in your freezer and easier to fit in your blender!  I also keep a bag of frozen spinach cubes to add to Buddha Bowls, stir-fries, soups, stews, curries or just about anything that needs an added bit of a green benefits.

BROCCOLI
Protein Content:
8g per 1 cup
Uses: broccoli is jam packed with nutritional benefits and can be found on all the ‘Top 10 Superfood’ lists. Add to Buddha Bowls, salads, stir fries, soups, stews, curries or lightly steam and serve on the side of your dinner.

EDAMAME BEANS
Protein Content:
16g per 1 cup
Uses: these little fellas can be a very handy way to get some protein into your dinner. I keep a bag of them in the freezer and add them to Buddha Bowls, salads, stir fries, soups, stews and curries. I’ve even started adding them to lunchboxes along with some carrot sticks and have had empty lunchboxes every time!

AVOCADO
Protein Content:
8g per 1 cup
Uses: avocados are having a major comeback, and for very good reasons. For lots of ways to use avocado have a look at Benefits of Avocado.

NUTRITIONAL YEAST
Protein Content:
12g per 3 tbsp
Uses: nutritional yeast may resemble fish food but if you can forgive it its appearance it adds a delicious cheesy flavour to risottos, pestos, hummus, dips. Sprinkle on salads or soups and stews or add to roast or mashed veg. Roast a big bag of kale for a healthy snack - removing the centre stem, wash, dry, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with nutritional yeast and roast at 180oC for about 20min, checking and turning over after 10min.

TOFU
Protein Content:
15g per 1/2 cup
Uses: tofu certainly has a high protein content but I tend to not use it too often. It gets mixed reviews on the production from soya bean to tofu. If you are using tofu make sure you buy good-quality, without a huge list of additives, from your health store or Asian supermarket. Tofu is a flavour carrier so when I do use it I marinade it in a little bit of tamari sauce for a few hours, then coat it in sesame seeds and fry it up. You can also chop it up into cubes, add it to a big vegetable curry and let it soak up the flavours.

EGG
Protein Content:
6g per egg
Uses: like oats, there are so many ways you can use eggs from omelettes, poached, scrambled to frittata. They are one of the main ingredients I use to make a dinner more filling, increase the protein content and, when cooked for just 7 min, even comes with a sauce! Add them to a roast veg tray bake or a risotto for the last 10 min. Poach for 3 min and serve on top of a warming bowl of lentil, cauliflower rice or kitchari. Or simply hard boil for 10 min and add to a salad. You can also try cracking an egg into your morning porridge and let it poach for 3 min or till the whites are cooked through for a savoury breakfast. We have become accustomed to starting our day with a sweet breakfast but savoury keeps energy levels more even throughout the morning.