Whether your goal for 2018 is to lose weight, build muscle or just generally feel healthier, the key place to start is in the kitchen.
Healthy eating is a big thing this January in particular, with the media full of hints and tips, new diets and new food crazes. For me it’s all about making small changes to your daily routine that aren’t drastic or painfully dull, to help you achieve your goals. I’ve been intrigued by Veganuary and all the vegan recipes knocking about recently so I thought what better time of year to give things a go and make a change to my eating approach.
Now as many of you may know, I like to workout and be as active as possible and so protein is an integral element to any meal of mine. My major concern with being a vegan is where to get protein from with many typical sources coming from animals and after some research it’s clear you do need to think a little outside the box when it comes to new sources and ways of incorporating these into typical dishes.
Ultimately I’m hoping to try new vegetables, new recipes and ultimately be more creative in the kitchen, whilst enjoying Weekend’s off but maintaining healthy eating and my discipline.
Here are a few quick and easy ways of incorporating more plants into your diet and sticking to being a vegan, even if it’s just for a couple of days a week and to try something new.
Post Workout Power Shake
Breakfast is without doubt the most important meal of the day. Typically I like to have mine after my morning workout and my ‘go-to’ would usually consist of eggs, smoked salmon and spinach. Clearly if I’m to make it as a vegan Monday through to Friday, both eggs and salmon are off the menu!
After a bit of research I decided the best and most straightforward way to get the protein I require is with a ‘power smoothie’, using pea-protein, chia seeds that are rich in natural protein and omegas and a number of frozen superfoods from Iceland. The Pack’D smoothie kit comes with all the frozen fruit you need for the much needed vitamins and flavour alongside a handy pouch of wheatgrass and spirulina for that added health boost.
The almond milk adds the liquid and another boost of natural protein and omegas, leaving you with a powerful plant powered protein fuelled smoothie!
Top Tip – The Pack’D pouches come in two mixes, one more berry focused and one more greens focused, so mix things up and keep it interesting.
The beauty of this smoothie is you can make it the day/night before and if you’re in a rush blend it up and take it with you to work or to the gym for a post-workout boost. That 30 minutes after a tough session is your window of opportunity to fuel the body back up and feed your muscles, so make sure you maximise this time frame.
On an average day working from the home office, lunch can become a bit of a challenge and often gets overlooked. With so many distractions around, the last thing I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen and so it’s all about keeping it simple and healthy.
The key here is the freshness, with the ingredients frozen at source, things are actually fresher than the non-frozen variety and with the added bonus of lasting longer in terms of sell by date, so no more throwing veg gone bad away!
They are also exceptionally good value at just £1.69 – a much more affordable alternative to the crazily priced salad bars in town.
This is a lunch that’s ideal for the guy or girl on the move, packed full of protein, vitamins and nutrients and can be eaten warm or cold. If you work in an office and have access to a freezer you are onto a winner here but you can of course cook this up every morning and stick it in your Tupperware ready for lunchtime – dead simple.
For some added nutrients why not cook up a Multi Greens Rice Bag and mix it in – I found this was a great way of changing it up and keeping it interesting.
Top Tip – An added squeeze of fresh lemon or drizzle of olive oil takes this dish to the next level.
Muscle Building Vegan Chilli
Going vegan has it’s challenges and one of the biggest for me is finding vegan versions of my favourite dishes. Chilli and Bolognese are both firm favourites in our house and I wanted to try and recreate these, animal product free and a quick visit to Iceland online gave me the inspiration I needed.
I came up with this recipe and it’s packed full of protein with kidney beans, chickpeas and white beans providing numerous vitamins and minerals. The chopped tomatoes and garlic add some much needed flavour along with the crucial ingredient, onion.
Now onion and I have a fractured relationship, I find the whole process of peeling and chopping them rather stressful and I’m particularly susceptible to the dreaded ‘watering eyes’. This is where Iceland come to the rescue with their very handily pre-chopped onion. Just as healthy as the usual stuff, they take the stress out of the process and it becomes dead easy. There’s also significantly less mess and waste.
Mix in some optional frozen mushrooms for some added flavour and serve with greens. The frozen broccoli, crisp and fresh as ever, was another highlight and solution to forever throwing away broccoli that’s gone bad.
This bad boy is sure to keep you satisfied during the colder months and is a great option for lunch or dinner.
Top Tip – For an extra bit of heat why not stick some chilli flakes or fresh chillis in and embrace the warmth!
Serve with brown rice or roasted sweet potato for some much needed carbohydrate to fuel the body for the next workout.
This is the ideal meal for two and can of course be prepared on a Sunday and frozen for the week ahead!
Top Tip – Batch cook a load on Sunday afternoon and freeze in sandwich bags for portion management and to save on time.
Here are a few tips to keep you guys motivated to stay healthy this January and stick to your goals:
1. Always Plan Ahead:
This may sound obvious but planning ahead is crucial to successfully navigating healthy January! I like to plan our meals on Sunday afternoon and pop by the shops either Sunday or Monday to grab everything for the week ahead. Pre-plan your workouts to ensure you spread things out and don’t neglect and specific exercises.
2. Mix Things Up:
Whether that’s in the gym or with your meals at home, be sure to keep changing it up to keep things interesting. I’ll be sharing more with regards to different circuits on my Blog and YouTube over the cming weeks, but it’s crucial things don’t become too ‘samey’ if you are to keep motivated throughout the month and into the remainder of 2018!
3. Get A Partner Involved:
Things will become much more enjoyable if you have a sidekick for this healthy January. Get a partner or flatmate involved and share cooking responsibility or meal planning.
4. Invest In New Gear:
Treat yourself to new cookwear, recipe books or a new gym outfit to help maintain motivation. If you look good and the food your eating looks good, you’ll feel that much better for it.
5. Share Your Progress:
Sharing your progress will help keep you extra motivated and encouragement from others to keep going will make all the difference. Whether it’s snaps of your healthy food creations or snaps from the gym after your workouts, don’t underestimate the importance of positive feedback.
Why not embrace your inner vegan and give it a try Monday through to Friday?! Whatever you do, set realistic goals and stick to them, you’ll feel that much better come February knowing what you have achieved.
Will you be giving Veganuary a go this month? What are your goals for 2018?
*This post was written in collaboration with Iceland Foods, however all thoughts and opinions expressed are very much my own.*