Why Xmas lunch will be much more exciting in our house this year…

Hooray! For the very first time, I will not be alone in my plant based status on Christmas day. This summer my 14-year-old daughter returned from a Spanish family exchange and declared that she would no longer eat meat. Read on to find out what this means in my opinion…

Xmas dinner

It is not often I talk about not eating meat and this is mainly because I believe that listening to your body and making your own decisions is the best way to a healthy life and that each one of us is unique and different, furthermore, I am a teacher and have to be very careful how I approach this topic with young people. I didn’t really make a conscious decision to stop eating meat, I just couldn’t face it one day at the age of 17 and that was that. In these impressionable years I was vaguely aware of an ethical reason to not eat meat and it just felt right not to, but my convictions were not strong enough to lecture anyone and I feel very glad that I haven’t.

However, since studying nutrition, I understand that eating meat every day is not good for us and multiple reasons for this exist. Firstly, farmers have a living to make and part of developing strong stock, avoiding animals dying off or becoming disease ridden, involves the common practice of using antibiotics and hormones. Secondly, we eat far too much protein as a nation, I may go as far as to say there is a slight obsession. It is true that those doing a high amount of strength training do have increased protein requirements, however on average men should eat roughly 55g and ladies 45g of protein daily. Yet, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey we eat 45-55% more than we need each day. Thirdly, we have enough evidence to show that reducing our meat and dairy intake will help the health of our planet.

There is a myriad of studies to show the huge problems with fad diets that recommend eating meat and cutting out most fruits and vegetables etc. with correlations to certain types of cancer from over consuming processed meat. In addition, most types of meat are quite high in saturated fat and although we need fat, over doing this type of fat is certainly not going to help your chances of vitality and longevity. Therefore, in a nutshell, reducing or replacing meat is my recommendation.

I have not made eating meat a big deal in our household and have avoiding lecturing preferring to answer my children’s questions honestly. I feel that making food habits a way of life is much more important than making a focus that can spiral into a control issue. I have been happy for them to consume meat once or twice a week, as I feel that if a young person eliminates meat they must have an understanding of the importance of nutrition and eat a variety of foods. The same goes for adults, how many unhealthy vegetarians do you know? Protein regulation is important no matter what the food sources are – not too much or too little.

I always find it funny when people see being mainly plant based as restrictive, this is because I probably eat many more foods than most people I know. I absolutely love how and what I eat and its never boring. Anyway, I seem to have found myself going off on a tangent when my intention was to talk about Xmas lunch – typical me!

My love of veggies means that I am always happy to just have a plate of beautifully cooked, roasted and flavoured veggies, however, this year as there is two of us I have decided more effort is needed.

After experimenting and seriously finding nut roast rather boring in the past, I am very excited to have adapted a recipe which even my husband loves! I will be cooking this again and not just for Xmas, and the gravy is to die for! The recipes below were inspired by the beautiful blogger Naturally Sassy with my own alternative nutritional twists and additions. If I can add more nutrients you know I will! For the nut roast, I used a small loaf tin and a small square baking tin. I will freeze the baking tin contents for Xmas day (taking out to defrost on Xmas eve and baking in the oven on the day for approximately 15 minutes until heated through). All of these recipes are gluten-free and vegan options are stated. I will also be adding my usual roasties with rosemary! Merry Xmas x

Nut roast ingredients

to serve 6

half an orange/red peppers – chopped
half a green pepper – chopped
2 garlic cloves – diced
1 large leek – chopped
1 medium red onion – diced
200g green lentils (boil until softened according to pack instructions – I used puy lentils)
100g ground oats (blend oats until flour like consistency)
200g cashew nuts (place on a baking tray and roast for 5-10 minutes until golden brown)
2 tbsp chia or flax seeds and 100ml water
pinch of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
a little black pepper to season
a tsp of paprika
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1-inch piece of smoked and dried chipotle chilli
2 tbsp tomato purée
a handful of fresh coriander chopped
3 mushrooms chopped

xmas nut roast in pan

Method

In a large pan fry off the peppers, onions, leek and garlic in a little olive oil until sizzling and you can smell the garlic.
Add all the rest of the ingredients to the pan – adding the eggs as the very last ingredient. Then add the mixture to the loaf tin or baking tin (already lined with greaseproof paper). Place foil on the top of the tin/s and bake at a preheated oven 200 degrees celsius for 30 minutes and then take the foil off the to
p and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Mushroom gravy

serves 2-4

3-4 mushrooms
2 or 3 shallots
2 tbsp vegan butter/coconut oil
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp of tamari
1 tsp of miso (I use clear spring organic) mixed with 300 ml of boiling water for stock

You will need two pans. One is used to fry off the mushrooms and shallots in 1 tbsp of butter/coconut oil.
The other is used for the base of the sauce. Firstly melt the butter then add cornflour (best if mixed with a little water first), followed by the miso stock and tamari, bring to the boil then lower the heat and add the mushrooms and shallots. Let this cool and blend before adding back to the pan to heat just before serving.

PassionAtely roasted Xmas veggies

serves 4 – 5

1 cauliflower head broken into florets
4 small cloves of garlic diced
4 parsnips chopped
3 or 4 handfuls of brussel sprouts
pink Himalayan/sea salt to season
a drizzle of sesame seed oil or cold pressed oil of choice

place all ingredients in a baking tray and roast in a preheated oven at 220 degrees celsius for 10-15 minutes until nicely browned.
Vegan mash

serves 4

One large sweet potato peeled and choppedXmas lunch
2 tbsp of coconut cream (I use blue dragon) or vegan butter
season if required

Place in a pan and cover well with water – bring to the boil and cook until softened (approximately 10 minutes) drain the water and then add the coconut cream or butter, mashing just before serving.

further information on the topics discussed:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z8899j6

http://www.soilassociation.org/antibiotics

http://www.soilassociation.org/whatisorganic/organicanimals

http://www.naturallysassy.co.uk/recipes/the-ultimate-veggie-christmas-meal

Book:
The china study by T Colin Campbell

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