Category Archives: Blog

30th September 2016

 | In Blog

Students: Affordable vegan cooking

Venturing to university as an independent adolescent can be exciting and daunting. Fending for yourself and trying to organise every aspect of your life can be a lot to take on, and let’s face it, a whole 10 years has passed since I left home for the same university adventure, but I can guarantee cooking and eating right is easier than ever. Freshers week is all about finding new friends, establishing yourself and joining societies of interest, but it’s important to maintain your health and wellbeing. As a young vegan, accessibility to affordable foods is key in prioritising your own nutritional intake, as well as sharing with new friends. If cooking experience is limited, have no fear – mealtimes should be easy, quick and as low-cost as possible. This is why I have compiled a simple supermarket guide. If you have these basic items in your cupboard and freezer at any time, you will be able to make a range of satisfying meals and snacks whenever required.

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The store cupboard
Stock your cupboard up as much as possible – these items will have a long shelf life and can last you for months if needed.

  • Dried beans and lentils: Dried green lentils don’t need soaking overnight, however black turtle beans are super hearty and high in protein for stews, soups, chilli and homemade burgers
  • Tinned baked beans: A pre-made staple to top toast, a jacket potato or to be part of a cooked breakfast (with grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and meat-free sausages)
  • Peanut butter: Nut butters are not only great on toast for breakfast or a snack, but you can make easy satay sauces for stir fries or curries when mixed with coconut milk and spices (see below for a simple Thai noodle soup recipe)
  • Oats: Warming porridge for breakfast can set you up for the day (oats and milk over the hob or in a microwave), or fuel your mind with simple baked flapjacks for study sessions and late nights
  • Long-life milk: Long-life milks from the supermarket aisles will last longer and you can make the most of stocking up with supermarket offers to save the pennies (often 3 cartons for £3 for example)
  • Vegetable stock cubes: Add to super-quick soups, sauces, curries and stews to make anything taste comforting
  • Chopped tomatoes: Not just tomatoes on toast or part of a cooked breakfast, make your own pasta sauces, soups and chilli by slowly cooking with garlic, onion and your chosen vegetables and/or meat substitute
  • Dried grains – rice, cous cous, pasta: Make your packed lunches, such as pasta salads, homemade sushi or spiced cous cous

The freezer
If you get assigned more than one drawer in the freezer, congratulations! Space is usually limited so freeze wisely.

  • Sliced bread: Simply toast as required, or defrost for sandwiches – make the most of the reduced bread from the supermarkets!
  • Meat-free products such as sausages and mince: Cook from frozen as required – sausage sandwiches, roast dinners, bolognese, cooked breakfasts, spaghetti and ‘meatballs’, chilli, moussaka, etc – the possibilities are endless
  • Frozen vegetables: The supermarkets have a great selection of frozen vegetables nowadays and they often work out cheaper than some fresh produce, with the benefit of minimal wastage – simply cook the portion you require from frozen

 

Recipes

Thai noodle broth (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable/sunflower oil

2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste

1 large handful green beans (from frozen)

1 large handful sweetcorn (from frozen)

5 chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced

5 spring onions, sliced diagonally into small thin pieces

1 vegetable stock cube

1 litre boiling water

1 sheet egg noodles (dried)

Optional: 1 handful of cashew nuts or sesame seeds

Method:

In a large saucepan heat the cooking oil for a couple of minutes and then add the Thai paste, green beans, sweetcorn, mushrooms and spring onions. Cook for around 5-7 minutes on a medium heat until all the vegetables are soft.

Boil the kettle and carefully measure 1 litre into a jug, then crumble a vegetable stock cube into the water and stir. Add this stock into the saucepan, along with a sheet of egg noodles (and cashew nuts if desired).

Gently simmer for 3-4 minutes before serving.

 

Basic pasta sauce (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable/sunflower oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped/minced

1 onion, finely diced as small as possible

Optional: 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tin of chopped tomatoes (with herbs if possible)

2 tablespoons tomato puree

Method:

In a saucepan, heat the cooking oil for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic and onion. Cook for around 5 minutes until soft and lightly golden, then add the vinegar to cook out.

After another 2 minutes, add the tomatoes and puree. Leave to gently simmer for 35 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes to avoid burning.

Serve with pasta, make into a bolognese by adding mince, or simply add a tin of mixed spicy beans for a bean chilli to serve with jacket potatoes or rice.

 

Susanna Author:

UK registered Dietitian • Obsessive foodie • Plant-based blogger • Recipe magician • Free-from

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13th September 2016

 | In Blog

Sources: Calcium & Vitamin D

Through promoting a plant-based diet and the increase in veganism, the question of potential nutritional short-falls naturally arise.

A diet transitioned from regular consumption of dairy and meat products may concern some with regards to calcium or vitamin D, which are both essential for the good health of bones and teeth. Good sources of calcium are typically dairy foods (milk, cheese and yoghurt), but with careful consideration and planning, there is no reason why a healthy adult cannot meet the recommended 700mg calcium per day with a highly plant-based or vegan diet.

Plant-based sources of calcium include:

  • Fortified non-dairy milks (simply check the labels to ensure calcium has been added)
  • Sesame seeds (and tahini) and almonds
  • Dried fruits such as prunes, figs and apricots (remember 30g is considered a portion)
  • Breads (white and brown flours in the UK have added calcium by law)
  • Beans and pulses
  • Vegetables – dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, kale, edamame
  • Tofu
  • Fresh oranges

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Vitamin D is synthesised naturally from sunlight, typically between the months of April to September in the UK. It is essential to include food sources of vitamin D in your diet as it is highly unlikely sunlight alone can meet your daily requirement all year round. In fact, new UK recommendations have been recently published (July 2016) encouraging the routine supplementation of vitamin D during Autumn and Winter – 10 micrograms per day, due to common seasonal deficiencies.

Foods high in vitamin D include oily fish, eggs, meats and dairy, however plant-based sources include:

  • Fortified non-dairy milks (simply check the labels to ensure vitamin D has been added)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Fortified fat spreads and margarines
  • Suitable vitamin D supplements (most vitamin D3 is extracted from sheep’s wool, so check the sources), e.g. VEG1 Multivitamin is recommended by The Vegan Society

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If particularly conscious of increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake, why not try the following example day:

Breakfast: Fortified cornflakes with handful of raisins and fortified soya milk

Mid-morning: Fresh oranges

Lunch: Hummus and salad sandwiches

Mid-afternoon: Sesame snaps (sweet sesame crackers) and a milky coffee

Evening meal: Tofu, broccoli and bok choy stir fry (sauce made with soy sauce, tahini, ginger and chilli)

Evening: Fortified soya yoghurt

Susanna Author:

UK registered Dietitian • Obsessive foodie • Plant-based blogger • Recipe magician • Free-from

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6th September 2016

 | In Blog

Inspiring us: Lone Wolves Creative

This is one girl with an array of positive vibes. This girl spreads messages of inspiration and truth, for females alike, as well as anyone seeking self-improvement, awakening or a little more wellbeing in their life. If there is something to reflect on or feel humbled by, these words are simply organic and should resonate with all who read on (I urge you to read on!).

The Moral Munch took an opportunity to meet with Lois, one half of Lone Wolves Creative (www.lonewolvescreative.com), a vibrant brand promoting the idealistic lifestyle of travel, inner happiness, protecting the environment, unique fashion and much more. Once an assistant stylist, model, vintage clothing enthusiast, turned business owner, photographer and all-round positive thinker, Lois is one young person with a lot of experience and wisdom. She kindly shared some of this insight in an exclusive interview, fuelled with The Moral Munch’s newly-made raw peanut, caramel and chocolate pie…

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Firstly, Lois introduced the concept of Lone Wolves Creative. This is a movement she created three years ago after gaining knowledge of the fashion industry first hand, and realising she could do it herself, but spreading positive messages in the process, through lovingly hand-finished unique clothing, as well as fun photography and real life travel experiences. ‘It’s all about having a positive mindset and having a better outlook on everyday life. In the last three years the company has grown as I have grown as a person. I want to spread the word that it’s actually really cool to be a nice person and in no sense is it fashionable to be mean.’

Lois and her co-Lone Wolf Sam are both passionate vegans. Though not preaching a specific practise for all, Lois explained ‘I felt being a vegan was a really positive influence for me, as it has brought nothing but kindness and compassion in every aspect of daily life. Although I have only been a full-time vegan for one year now, it’s been a really great thing for me. I do feel that social media, however, often sells false advertising with regards to vegan diets, promoting they are always super healthy – stop telling us all it’s awesome to eat burgers, shakes and amazing dynamic vegan foods but show us pictures of super skinny models! This is real life and we still need to make informed decisions.

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All over Lone Wolves Creative website and media you can see Lois in stunning sets of photography as she has fun modelling her own custom vintage clothes, handmade crochet bikinis and now the new line of organic t-shirts. When asked about not only being a positive influence for herself, but also empowering other young girls, Lois had a more difficult story to tell. ‘A few years ago, I completed quite a few modelling jobs. It was fun and I enjoyed gaining the experience with different fashion companies. On one occasion, after working tirelessly all day on a shoot and gaining really positive feedback from all involved, I was told by my agent the company did not want to pay me for the simple reason that they felt I was too fat. This was something that I had never even considered about myself and I quickly decided to focus my efforts on my own project for Lone Wolves Creative. I wanted to create something happier and inspiring to everyone, have fun in the process without anyone judging me. Young women find it difficult to make the right choices sometimes, but I truly believe what you focus on, you become. If something is impacting negatively on your life, or doesn’t serve you, move on from it.’

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Lois shared further philosophies she has evolved with over the past few years, which included giving up alcohol and choosing to not wear make up. For a twenty-something fashion-inspired business woman, these lifestyle choices may seem bold to some. However, this positive mindset is bolder than anything. The travel, the surfing adventures, the fashion line, the music, the vegan lifestyle and the overall fun should be followed by all and taken as a light to further opportunities and enlightenment. Over the next three months, Lone Wolves Creative are taking us all with them to Canada and Hawaii, where they will be documenting their discoveries. Further projects include working with Surfers Against Sewage, Sam Ryder music, as well as releasing their new organic t-shirt line (check out their very first ‘grow with the flow’ tee!). Keep posted with Lone Wolves Creative, let them cultivate your creativity, let real life people inspire you, and if you see them, feed them cake.

Lois’ top vegan spots to get munching:

A Canteen (Chelmsford) – has a great selection of vegan options, including burgers, mezze platters, noodle dishes and even cheesecakes! http://www.acanteen.co.uk/

#Home (Boxpark, Shoreditch) – amazing Asian dishes, all vegan. http://www.cookdaily.co.uk/

Susanna Author:

UK registered Dietitian • Obsessive foodie • Plant-based blogger • Recipe magician • Free-from

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28th August 2016

 | In Blog

What does ‘healthy’ really mean?

Think about what ‘health’ and ‘being healthy’ means to you. Many picture a glowing angelic being, the owner of tight abs and firm skin, transcending through a yoga-fuelled vortex, indulgently munching on sprouted beans and truly loving the flavours of raw earth… Am I right?

‘Health’ is the noun that represents being free from illness or injury. ‘Healthy’ is the verb used to describe promoting the idealism of good health. In my opinion, the word ‘healthy’ is over-used and misunderstood.

I recall a time when I was offered a ‘healthy’ handmade raw chocolate bar: ‘Full of nuts and seeds, it’s completely sugar free and totally delicious,’ he said. I was naturally intrigued, and seeing as my stomach was over-ruling my head at the time, I purchased my ‘guilt-free treat’. It was a big, dark and handsome snack, that’s for sure, however on munching away I couldn’t help but feel I had been misled and mis-sold something deliciously unbalanced. This chocolate bar was in fact not sugar free, as the sweetness came from the copious amounts of blended dates, full of concentrated natural sugars. Indeed, unrefined sugars, and dates are a great food to include in your diet, but still sugar, thus the phrase ‘sugar free’ was unarguably false. Furthermore, the main setting agent for many raw chocolate treats (admittedly, including some of my own recipes) is coconut oil. My super ‘healthy’ chocolate bar of sinless-satisfaction-yet-hopeful-waist-line-friendly-goodness, was indeed high in coconut oil, the most confusing saturated fat in the health food industry. Though my beautiful raw chocolate bar looked and tasted amazing, I was left feeling heavier than expected and started to reflect on the potential dangers of the newborn health food clan.

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Anyone can label themselves a ‘nutritionist’ – go on, jump on the bandwagon if you must! It seems like everyone everywhere is an expert in food and the apparent ‘science’ behind what we eat. It is truly a great thing that so many people are caring more about what they eat, however the concerns lie with those without sufficient knowledge and hard evidence to base seemingly factual statements on. As a Dietitian, I represent the British Dietetic Association (BDA), as well as being a member of the Healthcare Professionals Council (HCPC), therefore I aim to avoid giving false statements about foods or nutrition. I aim for my recipes and products to be ‘nutritious’ – i.e. offering additional nutrients to maximise the nutritional profile and efficiency of a food. However, I will never deny that my delicious foods, that offer so many added benefits, are free from fats or sugars where they are not, or even label something as exclusively ‘healthy’.

‘Healthy’ is over-used and sometimes misleading. ‘Healthy’ cannot be applied to a single food, but can describe a person’s overall physical, mental or nutritional intentions. Do not be pressured by the new-wave of ‘Orthorexia’ (an obsession with eating health foods). Enjoy foods in the right amounts, maximise the nutritional value of your diet by making it varied, eat what you enjoy and try not to be influenced by wild low-key health claims that may or may not get you into summer-body heaven.

Susanna Author:

UK registered Dietitian • Obsessive foodie • Plant-based blogger • Recipe magician • Free-from

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24th August 2016

 | In Blog

Why plant-based eating?

We live in an ever-evolving health-bribed society, with increased pressure to eat and live in a specific moral way. We are all aware that as these health expectations leave less room for error, the number of chronic illnesses and obesity-related problems increase. However, this roller coaster of dietary fads are hopefully extinguishing themselves out, with lack of effectiveness and evidence base.

Going ‘vegan’ is one of the newest growing dietary and lifestyle changes people are willing to take on. In the last 10 years, the number of vegans in Britain has increased by three and a half times, to around 542,000 people [Vegan Society]. Though full-on ‘vegan’ labelling may be yet another short-lived fad for some, there is a sufficient base of evidence for increased ‘plant-based eating.’ This does not automatically have to exclude all animal-based products from consumption, but encourages the benefits of increasing, and prioritising, foods derived from plants. Essentially, ‘plant-based eating’ means that at least two-thirds of the diet should be made up of these kinds of foods. By prioritising foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, nuts and seeds, the consumption of processed sugars and saturated fat can be instantly reduced for better long-term health outcomes.

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It started modestly with Paul and Stella MacCartney’s Meat Free Monday in 2009, still publicised and shared on social media to this day. This campaign promoted better health, environmental benefits, saving the pennies, as well as the animals.

More recently, Veganuary encouraged people to try being vegan for one month, in the hope that they embraced the enjoyment of plant-based eating and found true compassion for animals. Plant-based sources of protein tend to be low in saturated fats, and sources of essential vitamins and minerals high in fibre. These nutritional benefits help to mitigate some of society’s most severe health problems, which include obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

In 2014, more evidence into the benefits of eating 7-a-day fruits and vegetables came to light (BBC reported this – see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26818377). Reaching this new 7-a-day goal could not be easier when following a varied plant-based or vegan diet (original paper by Oyebode et al. 2014).

In conclusion, whether you’re a meat-eater, a health-freak, a fitness-fanatic, an animal-lover, someone who is considering going vegetarian or vegan, my message to all is be a plant-based eater. Do what you can, as often as you can and try to meet up to 7-a-day fruits and vegetables (it’s easier than you think, I promise!). By making two-thirds of your diet the good stuff, you could actively be preventing chronic illnesses and keeping your weight at a healthy level (ideally BMI 20-25kg/m2). Think better health, a longer life, happier bank balance, increased awareness of nature’s prosperous produce and of course cruelty-free for animals. Ultimately, if we know that what we are eating on a regular basis is having an effect on our future health, it makes sense to prioritise what is better for us, so let’s make a meal of it!

Susanna Author:

UK registered Dietitian • Obsessive foodie • Plant-based blogger • Recipe magician • Free-from

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24th August 2016

 | In Blog

Colchester Vegan Fair

Saturday 20th August 2016 saw the third Colchester Vegan Fair flaunt itself in style. From 11am the crowds flocked endlessly to find something new, delicious and inspiring.

This was a first for The Moral Munch, as we set up our new products and designed the stall alongside Joanna Taylor bespoke-foraging-florist-extraordinaire (instagram @joannataylorworkshop). All earthly unrefined nature-inspired themes took hold as we carefully placed our potato sacking, wild berry arrangements, wise old tree stumps and our modest brown paper packaging.

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Our stock included raw superfood bircher brownies (usually available at The Nourish Co.) packed with omega-filled seeds, high protein hemp, naturally sweet goji berries, mulberries, high fibre oats… and much more! Cookie dough energy balls made from simple wholefoods dates and oats never tasted so good and these flew out the jar as the perfect on-the-go filler. We debuted our lovingly hand-squeezed almond milks infused with flavours such as spiced chai, as well as raw no-nasties nut butters and super-grain cous cous salads.

Other inspiring friends-of-the-earth plant-based foodies at the fair included The Nourish Co. (www.thenourishco.co.uk), V Catering (http://vcateringco.tumblr.com/), The Den at 23 (www.thedenattwentythree.co.uk), Food by Lizzi (www.foodbylizzi.com) to name just a few. The full listing and photos can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/colchesterveganfair/photos/?tab=album&album_id=526842544175393

Find The Moral Munch at our next event in October – details will be announced on Facebook!

Susanna Author:

UK registered Dietitian • Obsessive foodie • Plant-based blogger • Recipe magician • Free-from

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24th July 2016

 | In Blog

The Nourish Co

One of the first projects The Moral Munch was faced with after starting this tasty journey was creating delicious health-inspired sweet treats for the newly-established vegan cafe The Nourish Co. Signature raw super-food brownies, chocolate chip cookie dough energy balls and raw banoffee dessert pots are just a few of the contributions we are lucky enough to provide to this popular cafe. Just look out for The Moral Munch stickers!

Now celebrating 10 months of business, The Nourish Co. (of St Johns Street in Colchester, Essex), has grown a loyal vegan-feasting customer base. This snug hideaway upcycled cafe is tucked beside a guitar shop, completing that hipster atmosphere and creative inspiration. Take away the ready-made on-the-go lunches, sit in with a friend and catch-up over a unique health drink or herbal tea, or simply browse through the mini in-house foodstore. Though small on every scale, The Nourish Co. packs a serious punch with a variety of flavourful nibbles and their eco-friendly vibes.

We met with owner, April, and Nourish-ing friendly face, Cleo, to chat about the ever-growing vegan hype.

Why do you think more people are happy to eat vegetarian and vegan foods?

April: “People are far more aware right now of the health and environmental benefits of eating a plant based diet. I believe there’s been a significant change over the last couple of years, where vegetarian and vegan products have rapidly become more available and accessible to consumers, which has supported this positive movement and allowed people to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet with ease and support.”

Cleo: “I think the rise of healthy eating in the media has meant people are finding it easier and more desirable to eat vegetarian or even vegan foods. There is significantly more awareness about what we are putting into our bodies.and as demand keeps increases, blogs and cook books have started popping up offering new and interesting recipes that are not only nutritious and tasty, but also very simple to follow. The more people try, the more they realise there ARE good alternatives to meat and feeling the benefits is a big incentive to continue. ”

What’s popular at the moment at The Nourish Co.?

April: “Since opening in October last year our delicious protein packed mushroom and lentil sos rolls have continued to be our best selling product, closely followed by the addictive Moral Munch cookie dough balls! We have a few other staple items which we don’t dare take off our menu anytime soon like our in-house smoked aubergine ‘BLT’ sandwiches and wholesome mixed vegetables.”

Cleo: “As the warm weather has kicked in, we have seen an increasing demand for our salads and fresh sandwiches. Our raw cakes are always popular – the lighter, fruitier pots sell well as a delicious portable treat to enjoy in the sunshine.”

For anyone who hasn’t visited you yet, what would you recommend for a first-timer at The Nourish Co.?

April: “One of our brand new delicious toasted wrap and salad boxes, a sos roll for snack time, a mouth-watering Moral Munch dessert pot and a cooling bluebird iced tea! That will have you set up for the day!”

Cleo: “I’d definitely recommend one of our legendary sos rolls! A ‘moral munch’ cookie dough ball to takeaway is also a must… The perfect size to pop in your bag and then find later on, reminding you that nourishing your body doesn’t have to mean depriving your taste buds!”

The Nourish Co. 

36 St. John’s Street, Colchester, CO2 7AH

10am-4pm Monday-Saturday

Susanna Author:

UK registered Dietitian • Obsessive foodie • Plant-based blogger • Recipe magician • Free-from

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24th July 2016

 | In Blog

Introducing The Moral Munch

Created in 2013 by a Registered Dietitian, The Moral Munch aims to share creative and nutritious cooking with friends and fellow foodies. Promoting healthy eating, using natural plant-based ingredients available to all, we say ‘share the love’ as if it’s your last supper.

Finding your way around the website should appear simple enough for you to discover everything you need. Delicious recipes are listed for your refined requirements including raw, gluten free and no added sugar options. No one should feel left out so caring for yourself and your closest acquaintances will be effortless for those impromptu dinner parties and quality time together.

In addition to the recipes on offer, The Moral Munch is keen to seek out local food creators, taking their foodie passions into inspiring businesses. Follow our future blogs, which may bring you some insight into the plant-based world of healthy living.

Finally, let us introduce you to our new online shop. Our goal is to offer everyday nutritious dining, snacking, munching and drooling to all. Order something new today and tell us what you think. Our raw ‘cookie dough’ energy balls already have a great reputation at an Essex vegan cafe, and now we are giving you the opportunity to get hands-on with healthy eating and roll your own!

Hope you enjoy the feast.

Susanna Author:

UK registered Dietitian • Obsessive foodie • Plant-based blogger • Recipe magician • Free-from

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