Pad Thai (Thai stir fry)

For me the thing that makes a Pad Thai a Pad Thai is the tamari, tahini and the ribbon noodles. All the other ingredient are interchangeable ( in my opinion). In the traditional dish there is an egg, which I have forgone and found it tastes just as good without. I have made this a few times with different ingredient, pretty much just whatever I have in the veg box in my fridge. I will probably update this post each time I made a new variation. I honestly don’t think you can go too wrong as long as you have the base ingredient (tamari, tahini, ribbon noodles)

Recipe version 1

  • Half a red onionIMG_5438
  • Half an Avocado
  • Full pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini
  • 2x teaspoons of tamari (basically sugar free soy sauce)
  • 5-8 peanuts
  • 80g rice noodles (I use rice noodles as they are sugar free)
  • Handful of spinach

Method: Cook the rice noodles in boiling water (takes IMG_5450around 4 minutes), drain and place to the side. Add some coconut oil to a pan, when warm add a bit of chopped garlic and half the chopped onion. Put in the tamari and then stir in the handful of spinach and chopped pepper (I used a yellow pepper s that was all I had, but there are no rules, I would have used whatever colour I had) and the cut spring onions. After the spinach has ‘wilted’ add the noodles and then stir together with a spoonful of tahini on a low heat. Add salt, pepper and a sprinkle of chilli flakes to taste. and some of thechopped peanuts. Once this has all been stirred together, take off the heat. Add to a bowl and top with the avocado and sprinkle the rest of the chopped peanuts on top.

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Side note: When making a Pad Thai or a stir fry I like to chop my spring onions length ways. Whist this make no difference taste wise, it tricks me into I’m back in Thailand and it somehow seems more authentic.

 

Recipe Version 2

  • Big ol’ handful of spinach IMG_5526
  • Half an avocado
  • Beetroot
  • Half a red onion
  • Handful of peanuts
  • 80g Rice ribbon noodles
  • Handful of green beans
  • Tahini (tablespoon)
  • Tahini (teaspoon)
  • 2/3 spring onionsIMG_5534

Method:

Put ribbon noodles and green beans into pan to cook, should take around 4 mins. Add some coconut oil to pan, add garlic (if you want), chopped onion, spinach, spring onions, along with the tamari. Keep on low heat and add the noodles and green beans and stir in the tahini and some of the chopped peanuts. Once heated and stirred, its done!

Add to bowl and this is the point that I like to add the cold ingredient on top, which is usually just what I fancy. In this case its the avocado, beetroot and the rest of the chopped peanuts. Yum! By the time I took this picture I was on my second bowl and have already eaten the one with the beetroot and avocado on top! Oops…must work on portion control!

 

Tahini Chickpea Curry with Couscous (AKA TahPeaCous)

I was planning on having sweet potato nachos and chilli today but on a sweep of my cupboards I discovered I didn’t have any black beans…first world problems. I decided to go rouge and cobble something together. I made a pile of things I like and things I thought would go together.

Exhibit A:

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  • 1 can of chickpeas (in water not salt)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 80g of uncooked couscous
  • 1 red onion
  • I pepper (any colour, they all taste good to me)
  • Massive handful of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini (I love all nut butters and although this is ground sesame seeds it tastes like peanut butter to me)
  • Cumin (To taste)
  • Chilli flakes (optional, to taste)
  • Half an avacado
  • Spring onions (as many as you want, I used two, chopped them up and mixed them in with a mashed up avocado)

The secret to not crying when you are cutting an onion is not to get emotionally attached #lifehackIMG_5369

 

 

 

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Into the pan goes the can of chopped tomatoes, the chopped onion, the spinach, the chopped pepper, the can of chickpeas, the tahini, cumin and chilli seeds. I cooked it on a low heat…It took around 10 minutes. I popped half in the fridge fr tomorrow and put the rest on top of of the cooked couscous, with a coupe of spoonfuls of yogurt and topped it with the mashed avocado and ping onions! Done!

 

 

I am really happy with the dish, not only because it was so nice but because it is packed with ingredient that is now working away in my body giving it so many good things! It is working FOR my body and not against it. I have been doing this for over a month now (with around 2 real sugary cheat meals thrown in there) and I feel good, I have always been active and eaten my greens but stepping things up a notch has really made a difference. I feel good, inside, I feel energetic, I feel awake, I don’t get the mid morning or mid afternoon slump, I feel sharp and my goodness it feels good!

 

Midnight Munchies (by midnight I mean, morning, noon and night)

Breaking the evening sweet treat routine, usually some sort of cake or chocolate biscuit, was a worry for me. If anything was going to break me, I thought that it would be this. I would happily munch my way through a chocolate orange, some giant chocolate buttons or a piece of carrot cake. Seriously what do people eat as a treat of they’re not eating chocolate or cake?

At first I indulge on dates, porridge covered in honey, banana milkshakes etc. Now whilst all this was added sugar free I was starting to notice I had no concept of when to stop and  also dates are not cheap!

So I after some thought ( no thought, just googling) I decided to give popcorn a whirl. I cant remember when I last ate home popped popcorn, I would usually get toffee coated popcorn for a movie night or to take to the cinema. As this is now off limits

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I had no choice but to go caveman. Took me a while to find it in the supermarket but once sourced I got to it. The instructions tell you to put oil in the pan first but this isn’t true, (in fact it can remove many of the benefits if you do add it, apparently) you can just add the kernels straight into a heated pan and cover with a lid, turn the heat down though otherwise it’ll burn. I think that one of the best things about home popped popcorn is that your house smells delicious and the “popping” becomes one of the most welcome sounds you can hear. After its popped add whatever you like, I either add salt or stir a teaspoon of honey into it. (Please note the picture my hand posed for, I have about 20 more on my phone with my hand at various stages of hovering over the bowl, to help create the anticipation / excitement of a good old bowl of hand popped popcorn!..did I over think it…100% I did) 

Right, real talk, despite the fact that its delicious there are many benefits to eating popcorn

  • Its anti-inflammatory! Woohoo!!
  • Contains a large amount of antioxidant capacity, which help prevent cancer and prevent ageing,
  • Its full of protein. Apparently ounce for ounce more than spinach or eggs. (surprising if true!)
  • Low fat. As long as you don’t cook it in oil, and cover in sugar or butter. Yes I sometimes add honey but only around a teaspoon so I think I’ll pass (hope so!).
  • Its a wholegrain, so lots of fibre so will improve / is good for your digestion
  • May seem obvious but its gluten free
  • Cheap! I usually have around 50g (pre popped) a time and there is 500g in my bag, at £2 a bag that’s 20p a serving. You cant even buy a Freddo for 20p these days!

Keeping it “good for you”:

  • Don’t add oils or lots of sugar / butter to it,
  • Check its organic (mine doesn’t say it is so I am assuming that means its not,
    I will look for organic when I restock. Also stay away from microwave popcorn too as there are chemical in the packaging which you can do without.

Disclaimer: I have gathered the above information by searching the web and cross referencing health claims. Obviously I haven’t tested popcorn myself in a lab or conducted my own research / trials so I cannot be 100% sure all of this is true (especially as I am beginning to think that everything we are told is just a conspiracy theory). I hope they are though!

 

 

 

Milk

I bought a selection of milks to trial them out and see what goes best coffee, tea, porridge etc. 

I have tried: coconut, almond and Oat. 

My reviews: 

With coffee- I think coconut milk goes really well with coffee, I absolutely love coconut in any situation so I am aware that this will not be everyone taste

With porridge: My go to breakfast / late night snack is porridge. I think that oat milk is the perfect match, for probably the obvious reason!

Almond milk I can take or leave, for me the coconut and oat milk meet all my needs so I wont need to get it again, unless I want a change of course. Benefits are that it is high in vitamin D and low in fat. I was a little surprise when I looked at the ingredient as the brand I got is only 1% organic Italian almonds. Other ingredient include; spring water, organic rice, sunflower oil and sea salt. All good stuff I suppose.

Oat Milk: I really like it, it taste the most similar to cow milk in my opinion. However with the brand I bought the ingredient list was also surprising: water, oats 10%, rapeseed oil, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphates, iodised salt, vitamins (O2, riboflavin and B12). So it contains chemicals, hmm that’s annoying. I think I’ll have to try other brands. I assumed because it was “healthy” it wouldn’t have chemicals in, if there is one thing I am learning fast it is that YOU HAVE GOT TO CHECK THE INGREDIENTS BEFORE YOU BUY! 

Coconut Milk: I love coconut milk, I have never taken sugar in my coffee but I love the sweetness this adds to my brew. OK, now to the ingredient: Water, coconut cream (whats that>??…just googles it, it is coconut milk but with less water), rice flour, calcium phosphate, flavouring (why> doesn’t coconut have a natural flavour?), stabilisers (Xanthan gum, gallan gum), salt, vit B12, Vit D2). Oh great, more chemicals…*rolls eyes* *Gives up*

I also tried coconut water, just for fun and I’m not really a fan, I prefer normal water. However, 100% coconut water has many benefits, if I can believe everything I’ve read. It boasts lowering cholesterol, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure. Apparently it is good post exercise as it help to hydrate you and replace electrolytes. However it is not as good at replenishing you as a banana or raisins. I’m not a nutritionist, but from what I can gather it is not a replacement for other foods but good to use as an addition to say a banana, along with your breakfast and coffee. 

So in conclusion I am going to check the ingredient of EVERYTHING FOR EVER and also probably just have coconut water in my coffee as its the only thing I can guarantee is natural or I can start making almond and oat milk myself…hmm I think I ll shop around to see if I can find some brands without chemical first. Realistically, I’m not at the point where I’m making my own milk  *walks to kettle and makes a coffee with coconut water instead of milk.*

Who knew I have so much to say about milk… just realised I have no life and the most important thing to me right now is milk *wow* *kills self* 

Disclaimer: I have not killed myself. That was purely for dramatic effect. Please don’t be offended. 

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Things to make to keep in your fridge to “pick” at

Two of the things I am currently making that I keep in the fridge so I can add to a dish, on bread, eat with a spoon etc.

  • Hummus: Chickpeas and olive oil. That’s it! How is it possible that its that easy?! But it is. Of course you can add things to it. My two favourite “flavours” are garlic, salt and pepper and the second is fried red peppers with salt and pepper, Just pick your flavour and add it in to the blender with the chickpeas and blend. I then keep a stash in the fridge and pick away at it throughput the week. 
  • Guacamole: mashed avocado. That’s it! You can, again, add things to it. Onion, herbs (coriander, parsley, mint etc), lemon. Go wild! 

Carbs!

Oh yeaaaah! Actually, oh no! They all have sugar in them 😦 What will I do??!! Obviously  potatoes are fine as they are a vegetable but rice, pasta, bread and noodles all have added sugar. Devastating.

So I fired my keyboard up and scoured the internet for my options. What I found is there are other option! Phew! Some staples I am enjoying right now:

  1. Rice noodles
  2. Cous cous
  3. Alternative spaghetti (soy bean, black bean and edamame) All of which I got from Aldi
  4. Home made bread. I simply used a generic recipe and left the sugar out (Yeast, flower and water). Tastes so blumming good, especially straight from the oven. Heaven. I actually make a few batches up, divide into bun size portions and freeze until I need it. That way I get hot bread straight from the oven when I want it. Seriously, why didn’t I make my own bread sooner?!

Sweet! I might just be able to do this afterall!

 

Making the transition to plant based sugar free

The first thing I did was scroll Pinterest for ideas, saving the things with ingredient in I knew I liked and becoming curious to try things Id never had before. The hardest part of this type of diet change is that you realises that you have no idea what is in your food. The more I researched the more shocked I was how much sugar is in EVERYTHING! Bread, pasta, sauces etc. This makes it nearly impossible to eat out, grab a bite so there is only one thing for it…fall in love with cooking, with how your food tastes and most importantly, get prepared!

I dipped my toes in before I dived in, It took me around a month to make the transition. I had been thinking about it for a while before I decided that the challenge was something I wanted to take on. I got to the point where I want to do everything I can to improve the quality of my life. 

The best thing about getting started is trying lots of foods you wouldn’t normally eat. I have pretty much replaced chocolate with dates, popcorn and honey…I have no issues satisfying my sweet tooth. Which I found quite surprising considering my favourite thing is marshmallows dipped in milk chocolate then covered in sprinkles and Costco carrot cake 🙂 

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Sugar and palm oil free nut butter are amazing, my favourite is almond and coconut hands down. 

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Nuts, dates, figs, coconut honey and popcorn go a long way as ingredient or on their own. 

 

 

Next up I went to the condiments. I stocked up on

  • coconut, sunflower and olive oil
  • Rock salt, pepper and chilli flakes (personal reference as I love chilli)
  • I looked around and found sugar free sauces in ASDA by the Blend Bros, who actually produce their products in Manchester, which was enough of an incentive for me to try them! Only had them a few days so far and as you can see the sweet chilli sauce is going down a treat. I’m not blown over by the ketchup as its very tangy but I also love the piri piri sauce.
  • I also have a cupboard full of raisins, dried apricots, prunes, seeds and nuts.