There are no “Silver Bullets” – It’s progress not perfection and dealing with the frustrations.

Here is a video blog entry about my experience and recent “low point” after 12 months of following a plant-based diet.

 

 

Please share your experiences by adding some comments or by joining the community.

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“That is not what I ordered” – Getting Plant-Based food in restaurants

I’ve been meaning to write this article for quite some time.
The longer I leave it, the more information and more disappointment, I have to share. It is not difficult, I do not eat meat, fish, or dairy.  in other words anything that has a face or mother. When I eat out, which I do quite often, I make this perfectly clear and ask very politely for either something on the menu that suits my dietary choices or for a small modification to a dish in order that it works me.

Increasingly, I found that this seems to be too much to ask in many situations. I don’t know why, but certain organisations seem to make very heavy weather of providing me with the food that I’m looking for. Here’s some recent examples:

ITSU (http://www.itsu.com/) -the well-known food chain in the UK. It promotes itself using the tagline “eat beautiful” with pictures of lithe half naked bodies and also through their sponsorship of England Beach volleyball tour 2014-2017. Despite this, they seem unable to provide clear training to their staff and clear labelling on a number of their products. Mr G and I have bought this to their attention and to be fair they are doing something about it. However, be really careful as the miso soup that is used in some of the noodle pots has fish in it, so be sure to ask a vegetable miso.  There is even fish seasoning in their rice sidedish. This is a bit disappointing for a company with the tagline eat beautiful!
Some time ago, I suggested that they change the rice used in the hip and healthy salad to brown rice rather than using white rice. I was told, at the time, that they would use the existing supply of rice and then look to replace it with brown rice. I think that was about 2 years ago.  When I bought one of the salads last week, it still contained white rice. It does seem as if my suggestion had fallen on deaf ears.
The next company that seems to ignore my requests is EAT http://www.eat.co.uk/index.php). Again it’s a chain, and provides some really appealing products to its customers. Eat’s tagline is “the real food company”. So it may be, but what I want is the food as promised on the pot. I was at Paddington station some weeks ago, when I ordered one of their vegetarian dumpling and noodle pots. Imagine my surprise and disgust,  when eating the 1st dumpling, I discovered that rather than the tofu that I’ve been expecting, that it was actually chicken. I went back to the counter and reported this and was greeted with a mixture of derision and incredulity. It was implied that I must be wrong and that the contents must be vegetarian. I explained that I have very good taste buds and I can tell the difference between tofu and chicken. After some remonstrations, I was eventually assured that the offending pot would be sent back to head office for analysis, and the other pots would be removed from sale and that I would be hearing from them.
I did hear from them, however in the letter to me, I was basically called a liar. The company outlined its totally infallible processes to ensure that it was quite impossible for me to have eaten a chicken dumpling when I purchased a tofu/vegetarian one. I obviously must be an idiot and have no sense of taste whatsoever. I persisted in following this up, only to be told that the offending item had been destroyed, (rather conveniently), rather than being sent back to head office for analysis, as I had been promised. This dialogue took place over the last 3 to 4 months. All I wanted, was an apology, and an admission that they are fallible and the mistakes can happen. This seemed all too difficult for the “real food company” who are obviously infallible and frankly think their customers are idiots, liars, or both, as in my case. After several exchanges of emails, I did get a rather tepid apology although it came in a letter that was headed “without prejudice” as they were obviously concerned that I was planning to sue for some kind of compensation.
I can understand chain organisations such as itsu and Eat, who produce food in vast quantities for their outlets potentially making mistakes.  What astounded me was to visit one of my favourite Indian restaurants in London and to order a vegetable masala only to discover that what been cooked and served was (you’ve guessed it…) a chicken dish. I find this really irritating that people don’t bother to check thoroughly what has been ordered. Fortunately, I don’t have some kind of terrible allergy to meat that would result in anaphylactic shock.  Regardless, the same care should be taken when taking an order from somebody who is vegetarian or vegan, as it would if they were allergic to nuts or gluten, which can have very serious implications indeed.
It’s not just getting the order wrong or making mistake with the food sometimes, as I found out a week ago, you can order something that you think is going to be healthy and suitable only to be disappointed by what is put in front of you.  I was at a restaurant with some colleagues in Swindon – The Weighbridge Brewhouse, (http://www.weighbridgebrewhouse.co.uk/). It’s place I’ve been too many times before and have always really enjoyed the ambience and the food. I ordered a vegetarian dish from the menu and asked that the goats cheese that was an ingredient listed should be removed. I was really looking forward to a beautiful medley of sauteed mushrooms and slices of Jerusalem artichoke with a plum tomato sauce. Imagine my disappointment to be faced with a plate that was swimming in approximately a quarter of an inch of fat, mushrooms that had absolutely no flavour and a sauce that had split so badly and resembled a masala sauce rather than anything to do with the tomato and again, very high in fat. Whilst I appreciate that I hadn’t asked for “no fat” the ingredients didn’t list “half a pound of butter and a cup of olive oil” as two of the ingredients, it simply said that the vegetables would be sauteed. I ate some of the dish, as I was hungry and rather than make a fuss at the time, as I was with some colleagues and rather pressed for time, I called and gave my feedback in the evening.  It was cordially received, but no one bothered to take my email or phone number to follow up which seemed to indicate to me that they did not really give a damn. That was a shame and bad staff training as I am loathed to go back to somewhere that doesn’t really care about it’s customers.
It massively disappoints me that organisations such as those listed above cannot simply provide food for all of their diners as requested.
What’s been your experience? Please feel free to sharing comments on the community.
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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – G is for Garlic

 

As a child, I could eat onions of any kind.  At family events, I’d be the child eating the very hot crunchy pickled onions.  My father would steep raw onions in vinegar for us to have with salads on Sunday evenings.  I loved them.  In terms of garlic, I’d not tasted fresh garlic at home.  My Mum had a small plastic garlic clove with garlic salt in it.  I can remember being invited to dinner with my newly married brother and my sister-in-law where I tasted “real” garlic for the fist time at the age of 12.  OMG – I loved it, it was onion but to the max!

 

As I grew up I started to understand why it should be a staple part of my cooking.  Mainly used as a flavour enhancer, garlic also has other uses as well.

 

Not that many people know that garlic is actually native to the Central Asia, and it has been used quite a lot by the ancient Egyptians as well, for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Nowadays, we have 7 different types of garlic in Europe, and those are the Ajo Morado de las Pedroñeras, Aglio Rosso di Nubia , Ail rose de Lautre, Ail de la Drôme, Aglio Bianco Polesano, Aglio di Voghiera and Ail blanc de Lomagne.

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Garlic can be cultivated all the year in mild climates all over the world, and this is especially true across Europe. Although garlic is not typically consumed in large amounts, it can provide your body  with lots of nutrients.

 

Garlic is a triple-whammy: it’s antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Garlic is one food that we all should be eating every day.

Researchers have found that allicin, a chemical found in garlic that gives it its flavour, could be used to fight cancer. It appears that the natural chemical reaction that forms allicin, which occurs when the garlic is eaten or smashed, may penetrate and kill tumour cells.

Several studies suggest that garlic has many beneficial effects on the heart. Garlic may:

  • Lower total cholesterol
  • Lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help keep blood thin, reducing the risk of blood clots and stroke
  • Lower elevated serum levels of homocysteine, according to preliminary studies

Garlic also works like an antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in the body, and unlike with antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is an absolutely safe product to use.

Garlic can have a powerful antioxidant effect in the body, which means it helps to protect against damaging free radicals.

Garlic’s anti-fungal properties are excellent for reducing fungal infections, such as yeast infections.

People claim that people who eat garlic tend to get fewer bites from insects like ticks, according to research. It also likely applies to mosquitoes as well.  I’m not sure about that as I still seem to be seen as a healthy snack to any passing mosquito.

One problem with garlic, of course, is the smell, but if you have a good digestion that should not be a problem.  You can also chew a little parsley to reduce the smell.  Garlic is a herb, so if you do not like it or it makes you feel sick, this is your body’s way of telling you that you should avoid it.

Garlic will also improve your iron metabolism, thanks to the diallyl sulfides which help in the production of the ferroportin protein. It’s also a good source of selenium, because it gathers selenium from the soil while growing.

The largest garlic benefits are surely coming in the form of blood cell and blood vessel protection from various types of stress. What’s more, it also prevents the formation of clots inside blood vessels, something that is nothing short of amazing.

Alongside these wonderful benefits, garlic also includes numerous vitamins such as C or B6. It also helps your body integrate them quickly in the blood stream, making it more powerful and resistant to diseases as well.

The garlic we use every day in our meals doesn’t include that much carbohydrates. Instead, it’s full of inulin, a fiber that keeps the bacteria population in your intestines balanced, while also allowing your body to absorb more calcium.

  • Garlic is low in fat, and it has no cholesterol
  • It contains various elements that help your body absorb calcium, while also increasing your overall immunity
  • It’s rich in vitamins and minerals
  • It’s one of the few ingredients of a meal that give a wonderful flavour, and it also has a great effect on your overall health as well!

How much garlic do you eat?  What is your favourite way of eating it?

Quick tip – Peel a lot of garlic and freeze the cloves, you can purée them and add salt and oil (if you use it) or brine.

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