Checking the effects of a vegan diet on my health

If you follow a plant-based diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, tubers, legumes nuts and seeds, your chances of having any deficiency are extremely small. I would even say that you are more than likely getting far more vitamins and minerals than you were on an animal-based diet.

You will most probably feel great and be functioning at optimum, but because is better safe than sorry, despite the clear benefits of having a plant-based diet I still think that getting a blood test done its a good idea and that is why I’ve done mine.

When I lived in Portugal, as normal practice the doctors requested blood tests once a year, since a moved to another country, that’s not true anymore. GP’s are not really keen to give blood tests, so I decided to try one of Thriva‘s kits, that are an at-home blood test that are done with a simple finger-prick blood test. (use the code CTB50 to get 50% off on your first baseline or advanced kit)

Advanced subscription provides a checkup for signs of heart disease, liver disease and diabetes. Plus a look at four key nutrients required for optimal health, Vitamin D, Iron Profile, B12 (Total) and Folate.

After my order, I received my kit in the post pretty quickly. Inside the small box, there was everything I needed to do my test, including instructions 🙂 what was not inside the box was courage .. despite having no problems with needles, it was really hard for me to pierce my own finger 😅

thriva test

If you don’t have cold feet like I had the process can be done very quickly. Once I finished collecting the blood, I just went to the post office that is literary next door to my house and had it post it.

After just 1 day I received my results back and a personalised report, and I couldn’t be happier to find out that everything is fine, from the liver function, cholesterol, vitamin D, B12, iron, B9, Proteins and HbA1c.

The report was presented in a really smart and visual way, it was easy to read and understand, plus it was full of important tips and information. They also added some specific recommendations knowing that I have a vegan diet.

Overall I loved the experience and the fact that you can check your blood frequently without any fuss. It’s also useful to do it a few months before embarking in any long travel trip, making sure you have robust health. If you think you would benefit from having your blood tested you can use the code CTB50 to get 50% off on your first baseline or advanced kit.

Without wanting to get political the only thing that I didn’t really like was the company slogan “Take control of your health” for me that has scary resemblances with the Brexit campaign slogan ‘Take Back Control’. This doesn’t make the product bad just shows some lack of taste from the marketing team 🙂

*although I’m talking about a specific product I’m not being paid to write this article neither will get any compensation if you make a purchase*

Vegan Sunflower Seeds Cheese (queijo vegano de sementes de girasol)

Spreadable Vegan Sunflower Seeds Cheese.

I’ve been making lots of different nut cheese for a long time. But lately, I’ve been receiving requests to make a recipe with more affordable ingredients since nuts are quite expensive in some countries.

Most seeds are quite cheap, compared to nuts plus if you have a nut allergy, nuts are out of the question. This recipe uses sunflower seeds instead of nuts and the result is still a creamy, tasty and nutritious cheese.

    • 2 cups sunflower seeds
    • 1/4 cup lime juice (can be replaced with lemon)
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves garlic)
    • a pinch of turmeric (yellow colour)
    • pepper and smoked paprika to taste
Soak the sunflower seeds for at least an hour or overnight in water.
Drain and rinse.
Using a blender, blend the sunflower seeds, and remaining ingredients until smooth, on high speed. Taste and adjust the flavour to your taste, and it’s done!
The paste is moldable into any shape and this cheese is also spreadable.
Pull out the crackers, bread or veggies, open the wine, and enjoy this incredibly delicious vegan cheese.
It will last a few days in the fridge.
PT: queijo vegano de sementes de girasol
  • 2 canecas de sementes de girassol
  • 1/4 caneca de sumo de lima (pode ser substituído por limão)
  • 1/4 caneca de vinagre de maçã
  • 1 colher de chá de sal
  • 2 colheres de chá de alho em pó (ou 2 dentes de alho)
  • uma pitada de timérico ou açafrão (para dar cor amarela)
  • pimenta e paprika fumada a gosto
Demolhar as sementes de girassol por pelo menos uma hora ou durante a noite em água.
Escorrer e enxaguar.
Num processador de alimento processar as sementes de girassol e os rentantes  ingredientes em velocidade máxima, até que a mistura esteja cremosa.
Provar, ajustar o sabor a gosto e está pronto!
A pasta pode ser moldada em qualquer forma e este queijo é para barrar.
Aguenta alguns dias no frigorifico.

Vegan Banana Bread (pão de banana)

  • ½ cup dark sugar or 2 tablespoons (30 ml) maple syrup
  • 1 1/3  – 2 cups mashed ripe bananas (~4-5 medium bananas)
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil (or 1/3 cup olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 180º-200ºC.

With coconut oil (or other) lightly grease a loaf tin and set aside.

Peel and mash the bananas until you have 1 1/3  – 2 cups of mashed banana.

Stir the water, coconut oil,  and vanilla into the banana until combined.

Then add and stir the ground flaxseeds, spices, sugar/syrup, baking soda, baking powder, flour and vinegar into the mixture. Stop stirring when there are no flour patches at the bottom of the bowl and the mixture is smooth.

Pour into the loaf pan, and spread out evenly.
Bake for ~35 – 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and is lightly golden and firm on top.

Let it cool before slicing. The loaf will keep in the fridge tightly wrapped for 3 to 4 days, or it can be frozen for 4 to 6 weeks.

Tip: Add chopped nuts or chocolate chips.

PT:
  • ½ caneca de açúcar mascavado ou 2 c. de sopa (30 ml) de xarope de ácer
  • 1+1/3 – 2 canecas de purê de banana madura (~4-5 bananas médias)
  • ½ caneca de óleo de côco derretido (ou 1/3 caneca de azeite)
  • 2 c. de sopa de linhaça moída
  • 1 c. de chá de extrato de baunilha
  • ¼ caneca de água
  • 1 c. de sopa de vinagre de maçã
  • 2 caneca de farinha de trigo
  • 1/2 c. de chá de fermento em pó
  • ¾ c. de chá de bicarbonato de sódio
  • 1/2 c. de sopa de canela
  • 1/4 c. de chá de noz-moscada

Pré-aquecer o forno a 180º-200ºC. 

Com óleo de coco (ou outro) untar uma forma e reservar.

 Descascar bananas até obter 1+ 1/3 – 2 canecas de banana esmagada.

Juntar a água, o óleo de côco e a baunilha ao purê de banana e combinar bem.

De seguida, adicionar a linhaça, especiarias, açúcar, bicarbonato de sódio, fermento, farinha e vinagre. Parar de mexer quando já não houver bolinhas de farinha no fundo da tigela e a mistura estiver bem homogênea.

 Despejar a massa na forma e espalhar uniformemente.

Cozer por ~ 35 – 50 minutos até que esteja levemente dourado e firme no topo.

Deixe esfriar antes de cortar. O pão aguenta bem por 4 dias, ou pode ser congelado por 4 a 6 semanas.

Dica: Adicionar nozes picadas ou pedaços de chocolate.

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Banana with Oporto Wine & Spices (Banana em vinho do porto e especiarias)

This recipe of Banana with Oporto Wine & spices is so good! In a few minutes, you transform simple bananas into a drool-worthy snack or dessert.

The Banana with Oporto Wine is made with the famous Portuguese wine, produced in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal.  This easy recipe will surprise all your senses, and no one will resist this decadent vegan dessert with warm spices.

  • 4 bananas
  • 1/2 cup of Oporto wine
  • 3 tbsp dark sugar
  •  1cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 4 cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 star anise

Peel the bananas cut them in half lengthwise and then in half across.

Put all the ingredients in a large frying pan. Let it cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, turning the bananas over halfway through.

The Banana with Oporto Wine can be eaten straight away as it is or makes a perfect topping for pancakes, oats or even ice cream for an indulgent dessert.

Serve and enjoy this delicious and healthy treat!

PT:
  • 4 bananas
  • 1/2 caneca de vinho do Porto
  • 3 colheres de sopa de açúcar mascavado
  • 1 pau de canela
  • 2 colheres de sopa de sementes de abóbora
  • 2 anis estrelados 
  • 4 cardamomos
  • 2 cravos da india

Descascar as bananas; cortar ao meio em comprimento e depois a meio.

Colocar todos os ingredientes numa frigideira grande antiaderente, e deixar cozinhar em lume médio por aproximadamente 10 minutos, virando as bananas a meio.

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Vegan Parmesan Cheese (parmesão vegano)

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This vegan parmesan cheese is easy to prepare, and for me tastes even better than the real one. It’s cheesy, savory, nutty and super versatile.
It takes only five minutes to prepare and there’s no cooking involved. Plus it’s healthier than normal cheese.
This vegan parmesan cheese goes really well with lots of different dishes. So if you have a permanent batch of this in your refrigerator, you can sprinkle it on absolutely everything.  I love it so much, that sometimes I just eat it with a spoon 😅
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until you get a fine meal.
Taste and adjust the garlic, salt and, nutritional yeast if needed.
Store in a glass jar at room temperature, or in the fridge for several weeks.
PT:

Este queijo parmesão vegano é fácil de preparar e, para mim, tem um sabor ainda melhor do que o original.

Leva apenas cinco minutos a preparar e não envolve tachos nem panelas. Além disso, é mais saudável que o queijo normal.

O queijo parmesão vegano vai muitíssimo bem com inúmeros pratos. O ideal mesmo, é ter sempre um fraco de parmesão em stock no frigorifico. Eu gosto tanto tanto deste queijo que às vezes o como à colherada.

  • 1 caneca de caju cru
  • 4 c. de sopa de levedura nutricional
  • 1/2 c. de chá de sal
  • 1 c. de chá de alho em pó

Adicionar todos os ingredientes a um processador de alimentos e pulsar até que esteja tudo triturado.

Provar e ajustar o alho, sal e levedura nutricional, se necessário.

Guardar num frasco de vidro à temperatura ambiente, ou no frigorifico, por várias semanas.

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Berry Jelly with Agar-Agar (Gelatina de frutos vermelhos com agar-agar)

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  • Strawberries– 1 cup
  • Blueberries – ½ cup
  • blackberry – ½ cup
  • cherries – ½ cup
  • Water – ½ cup
  • Agar-agar powder – 1 ½ tsp
  • 1 tbsp Maple syrup

Put all the fruits in a blender and process until smooth.

Heat the water over medium heat with the agar-agar stirring frequently until the agar is completely dissolved. Let it boil for about 1-2 minutes.

Remove from the heat, and add the fruit juice to the agar mixture, combining well. Pour into a container or jelly moulds  and keep in the fridge until firm.

* substitute the fruits for other that you have in more abundance or to season *

PT:

  • Morangos – 1 caneca
  • Mirtilos – ½ caneca
  • Amoras – ½ caneca
  • Cerejas – ½ caneca
  • Água – ½ caneca
  • Agar-agar em pó – 1 ½ tsp
  • 1 colher de sopa de adoçante liquido

Colocar todas as frutas num liquidificador e processar até ficar totalmente triturado.

Levar a água a ferver com o agar-agar em lume brando  mexendo com frequência, até que o ágar esteja completamente dissolvido. Deixar ferver por 1-2 minutos.

Retirar do lume e mistura o sumo de fruta com a mistura de agra. Deitar a gelatina num recipiente grande ou pequenos moldes. Guardar no frigorifico até que esteja solido.

* É possível substituir as frutas por outras que existam em mais abundância ou sejam da época *

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Celeriac Root Rice (Arroz de aipo-rábano)

IMG_4843Celeriac is a very versatile root vegetable, with a subtle nutty flavour.  It’s great for soups and can also be baked, mashed, boiled, etc..

The recipe I have here today is to make Celeriac Rice,

  • 1 big celeriac, peeled
  • Herbs to taste, like fresh thyme and dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast

Place the celeriac chunks in the food processor until you have a crumb-like texture. Don’t over process. It’s also possible to chop into small cubes if you don’t have a food processor but its hard work.

In a large  non-stick skillet or wok, heat up the olive oil and sauté the celeriac rice, stirring often. Add salt, pepper, herbs and 4-5 tablespoons of boiling water. Steam for 3-4 minutes over medium/low heat, and in the middle of this process add the nutritional yeast, (add more water if needed). Remove from the heat and serve.

The celeriac doesn’t have a strong flavour so the success of any recipe with this root is about the spices and herbs you use. Be creative and mix your favourite flavours.

PT: 

O aipo-rábano é uma raiz muitíssimo versátil, com um sabor  subtil a noz. É ótimo para fazer sopa mas também pode ser comido cozido, em purê, assado, etc.

A receita que tenho aqui hoje é de arroz.

  • 1 raiz de aipo-rábano grande descascada
  • Ervas a gosto, como tomilho fresco
  • Sal e pimenta a gosto
  • 2 colheres de sopa de azeite
  • 1/3 xícara de levedura nutricional

Colocar o aipo-rábano num processador de alimentos e pulsar até se obter uma consistência semelhante a migalhas(do tamanho de grãos de arroz). Não processar demasiado. Também é possível cortar em cubos pequenos em vez de usar o processador mas dá muito mais trabalho.

Numa frigideira antiaderente ou wok, aquecer o azeite e saltear os bocadinhos de aipo-rábano, mexendo com frequência. Adicionar sal, pimenta, ervas e 4-5 colheres de sopa de água a ferver. Deixar cozinhar por 3-4 minutos, em lume médio/brando e a meio deste processo adicionar o fermento nutricional. Retirar do lume e servir.

O aipo-rábano não têm um saber forte, por isso qualquer boa receita com esta raiz está muito dependente das especiaria e ervas adicionadas. Sê criativo/a e mistura o sabores que mais gostas.

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