Ever since I turned dairy-free (and stopped eating eggs) in April, I’ve been absolutely obsessed by vegan/plant-based ‘What I Eat In A Day’ type posts, frequented by the likes Lily Melrose and Niomi Smart. When you cut a significant food group out, finding inspiration for meals becomes a job in itself, especially when you realise just how much dairy is put into our foods without us realising.
You may remember me publishing this post a couple of months back, where I revealed that I had completely overhauled my diet in a bid to manage my hideous IBS symptoms and start feeling healthy – and in the process, I lost two stone (it’s now nearly two and a half). Although it wasn’t my primary target to lose weight, for me to drop two stone by simply cutting out dairy and eggs made me realise how unhealthy my diet had been before – full of fatty cheese, chocolate, cakes, biscuits and creamy sauces. Yes, they were things I loved but they also made me feel rubbish. And I now don’t miss them one bit.
Now, before I start this post properly – I do want to say that I’m not trying to jump on the already very saturated health blogging bandwagon and lie to you. Changing your diet in the beginning is difficult. I personally think you need a BIG motivation to be able to keep it up, because if you don’t want it enough – you won’t work for it. I realised the whole way through that my motivation wasn’t to lose weight, it was to regain control of my life – which had been overshadowed by horrible stomach pains, trips to the toilet and IBS severe bloating. I realise probably everyone won’t have this same motivation – but if you regularly feel sluggish, have a bloated stomach and are tired all the time, this might be an indicator that you’re not treating your body in the right way, or eating the foods that will make it happy and healthy.
I started ‘dieting’ at the age of 13, which looking back – was completely ridiculous and unhealthy. I tried the Dukan, Weight Watchers – I even attempted Lighter Life. I won’t give any of the above credit because while they achieved temporary weight loss, it wasn’t a healthy way to do it – and I didn’t enjoy it one bit.
The food I eat now, I genuinely enjoy. I have loved experimenting with new flavours and I don’t feel like I’m on a diet. I don’t call it a diet for starters, which I think was a massive help for me sticking to it. I appreciate not everyone will want to cut dairy and eggs out of their ‘diet’ forever, but I’ve done so much research into the two foods and I don’t believe that you need them – in fact, if you suffer from bad skin, a poorly stomach or a weak immune system, they might actually be of detriment to you. I did talk about why this might be the case in here.
Perhaps the main thing is to avoid them where possible – and find things you love which are as clean and natural as you can. Eat to make your body happy!
Plain oats with rice milk and cinnamon or ginger. One green tea.
I never used to find porridge very filling, because for so long – I had it with water to cut calories. I used to have a massive bowl before school at 7am and by 8.30am, I was starving. I now have a smaller bowl of porridge every morning, with about 100ml of rice milk (the extra calcium version). It has quite a sweet taste, so you don’t need sugar (which I used to add to my watery porridge) but I like to sprinkle a bit of cinnamon or ginger depending on what I prefer that day. Ginger is really great if you’re feeling sick, bloated or have morning tummy troubles, because it helps calm any inflammation and soothe your insides. Plus, it tastes like you’re eating gingerbread porridge!
The health benefits of green tea has been explored in depth over the internet, so I won’t try and delve into the science-y bit (for fear of getting it wrong) however drinking three cups a day can help you burn an extra 80 calories – as it helps speed up your metabolism and keeps things ticking over. If you don’t like the bitter taste, take the tea bag out after 30 seconds – or choose a green tea which is mixed with other flavours, my favourite is the pomegranate!
Quinoa, pumpkin and sesame rice cakes with hummus.
I tend to eat smaller portions, little and often – because I find doing so means that I never overload my stomach with food. Part of the reason I have my IBS symptoms (which I discovered after having a colonoscopy – fantastic!) was that my large intestine is double the size of a normal persons and twisted over (sorry if this is TMI in a food post – but may be interesting for someone with similar symptoms), which means that if I eat a lot in one go, within hours – I get a lot of pain because it’s overloaded and has to work overtime to get stuff through (wow, this is really turning into TMI). So, I make sure I have smaller portions. Still the stuff I love, just not tonnes of it. For example, if I go to Wagamamas, I’ll still have the chicken katsu curry (which is luckily dairy-free!) but I’ll have the child’s portion. It’s also cheaper! So a bonus all round!
Anyway, back to the main point – snacking! I tend to have a snack at about 11am – usually some sesame Ryvitas or some quinoa, pumpkin and sesame rice cakes (which you can get from Aldi for £1). They’re so filling, delicious – and dipped in some hummus, make for the perfect snack. Sometimes, I’ll have this for lunch if I’m not feeling as hungry!
Brown rice, quinoa, crispy kale and tomato salad.
The above is just an example of what I would have (normally I’d load it with more tomatoes and red peppers) but it totally depends on what I have in the fridge. Another thing I love to make for lunch is bruschetta, which is the most flavoursome thing ever, especially if you love tomatoes. Plus it’s so easy to make! Simply chop up a whole load of cherry tomatoes (or whichever are your favourites) and put them into a large mixing bowl. Chop up an onion really finely and add it to the mix, before chopping up two cloves of garlic (again, very finely) and adding it to the mix. Finally, add some olive oil to the bowl and stir everything together thoroughly. Cover with cling film and leave for 30-40 minutes to marinade. The longer you leave it, the tastier it is – so if you prefer, leave it overnight. Add a spoonful of mix on top of a sesame Ryvita and eat up! Easy peasy bruschetta! Please note however, if you do have tummy troubles – sometimes garlic and onion aren’t the best thing to eat as they’re quite difficult to digest and are high in FODMAP. You could still have the tomatoes and olive oil, just with herbs instead.
Strawberry and kiwi bowl with fruit syrup.
Sometimes I’ll have this for breakfast if I’m not feeling like porridge (especially on warmer days – which we haven’t been having many of recently). However it also makes for the perfect sweet treat or evening/afternoon snack. I buy this Sweet Freedom Fruit Syrup from Ocado/Asda – because it contains no artificial sugars, only the sugars from grapes and apples. It’s completely vegan friendly and you can also pop it in your porridge! Plus, it’s only 13 calories per tablespoon, so a great sugar alternative for baking.
Chicken and red pepper BBQ wholegrain wraps.
This is my favourite go-to meal because it’s so delicious and it tastes like it should be unhealthy – but it’s so good for you! I fry chicken and red pepper in a teaspoon of coconut oil (if you don’t like the taste of coconut oil, or want it to be more BBQ-flavoured, I use olive oil) and keep going until they’re almost blackened (weirdly, burnt foods are really soothing on the stomach, because they soak up any gases/fermentation). I heat up a wrap for 15-20 seconds and pour the chicken and pepper mix into the middle. I pop on a small helping of tomato ketchup (or tomato puree if you’re not wanting the added sugar/salt) and leave it to mix in. The juices from the chicken and peppers form this incredibly flavoursome BBQ-like sauce when mixed with the ketchup. It’s delicious!
Unfortunately I couldn’t photograph this for you to see in its final form, because it gets dark at 4pm here and I usually eat at 6pm – however I thought shooting the ingredients instead might make this a little more visual. Honestly, you’ll have to trust me when I say it’s delicious.
Other dinner ideas include miso salmon (salmon baked in foil with olive oil, white miso paste and a tiny dollop of maple syrup) with sweet potato fries (cut up sweet potato baked in olive oil with mixed herbs on top). Or I also love courgetti (spiralized courgette) with a rich tomato and pepper sauce, with grilled chicken. If I’m feeling like a need a cheat meal or bit of junk food (because lets face it, we all do occasionally) then I’ll have a fish finger wrap. Seriously, those things are underrated. And the majority are dairy/egg free!
Banana and vanilla ice cream.
Freeze banana slices (it helps if they’re pretty ripe) for 4 hours. Take them out and let them soften, before popping them in a food processor with half a vanilla pod and some maple syrup. Then blend until creamy. It might not look like much but it’s AMAZING.
Another favourite of mine is the cacao flavour Booja Booja ice cream. It’s so annoying that you can only get it from Ocado, because it’s the most incredible thing ever. It’s made from just four ingredients (agave, water, cashew nuts and raw cacao) but it tastes like the creamiest, most delicious chocolate ice cream you’ve ever had. And it’s pretty low calorie. Definitely worth a try! You won’t regret it!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Okay, so this might seem like a weird addition but fluid wise, in addition to 2 litres of water a day (including about 3-4 green or peppermint teas), I also have a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar diluted with water before breakfast. It’s great for skin, aiding digestion and boosting your immune system. And don’t ask me how, but it works! Admittedly it’s not the tastiest of concoctions – but it’s gone within a few gulps!
Essentially, I eat anything and everything – as long as it doesn’t contain dairy or eggs. I check the packets of everything I eat – and make sure it’s suitable (because there’s so many hidden ingredients). If something has more than 10-15 ingredients, I’ll usually leave it be and not buy it – because I aim to eat as natural as possible. However, we’re all human and it’s natural to have days where you go off course a bit.
So there we have it! My very long-winded ‘What I Eat In A Day’. I hope you’ve enjoyed it (in fact, you deserve a medal if you’ve read right until the end) and even if you don’t try the above yourself, hopefully it’s given you a bit of inspiration for some new meal ideas.
I think clean-eating and plant-based diets have been overdramatised in the media as being really ‘hippy’ and expensive. In fact, they’re not at all – and they are more common then you think. Plus you can tailor it to your preferences, rather than cutting everything out altogether. I still eat chicken and fish, even though the rest of my diet is vegan. See what works for you and go for it. But just don’t think of it as a diet. Remember, it’s about eating to make your body happy!
What do you think of the above? Have you ever tried vegan food – or would you consider going dairy free? I’d love to hear your thoughts!