5 Awesome Weekday Vegan Breakfast Ideas

healthy ideas for a perfect brekkie

Don’t know what else to make for breakfast? Tired of porridge or simple toast? Look no further than these awesome vegan breakfast ideas so you can always be prepared.

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day – partially because you burn them off regardless of what you have. But mainly because of the variety – sweet or savoury, healthy or indulgent, buffet-style sit-down or Mason jar on the go. Here are five quick and easy breakfast options I turn to most mornings before work.

Protein-packed green smoothies

This is my trusted green smoothie mix – might sound random to some, or delicious to others, but it ain’t too sweet, or too green, it’s just right.

Your choice of vegan milk, one banana, half an avocado, half an apple, 1 kiwi, handful of spinach, table spoon of peanut butter, chia seeds, few grams of Chorella powder (5g = 600% of RD of vit D!) pinch of cinnamon, pinch of salt, squeeze of honey and blend, baby, BLEND!

Apple, bananas and peanut butter

As simple as slicing one apple and a banana (or other fruits) and dropping a dollop of organic crunchy peanut butter on top of.  Or you can have a whole platter (with some porridge too)!

Quinoa porridge

Same warming effect, lots more nutrients and protein. Here’s an autumny version I made with pumpkin puree and maple syrup. Yum! So all you have to do is simply warm up some cooked quinoa in some almond milk with vanilla and sweetener,

Roasted almond butter and raspberries on toast

Do as instructed in the title – it should look a little something like this (with a bit of sweetener of your choice). Or you can go for the classic Nutella (vegan), bananas and walnuts.

Avocado on toast with pumpkin seeds and chilli flakes

This is when I crave a savoury breakfast or after a gym workout – knowing it will give me protein, lots of minerals and good energy.

Hope you enjoy these quick and easy vegan breakfasts!

xoxo

Maria

Make Your Own Almond Milk

It may seem like a mysterious process that only the most versed plant-eaters can master, but making your own almond milk at home is easier than making toast. Here’s the basics so you can never have to think twice about putting your nuts to good use and spend less money on store-bought versions.

What do you need?
  • A blender
  • 1 cup pre-soaked almonds (150g-160g) – soaked over night or for at least 6h
  • 3 cups Filtered water
  • 1-2 dates
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • cinnamon, cardamom pods, vanilla (all optional)
  • A fine strainer or a cheese cloth, or even a tea towel
Method
  1. Put all ingredients in the blender
  2. Blend until white and foamy (1 minute at least)
  3. Strain and store

Did I not tell you it’s the easiest freakin’ thing? But I haven’t mentioned this almond milk is 10 times more delicious and creamy than anything on the market. Word! This method works for any nuts or seeds you want to use: cashews, hazelnuts, pumpkin, etc.

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Make your own plant milk

What You Need to Know When Going Vegan

Should you consider going vegan? There’s a lot of confusion in everyone’s mind today about what lifestyle to lead. Therefore it’s hard to know what to eat and not to eat, whether fats are the enemy or sugar is, what causes cancer and what prevents it.

There’s no right or wrong answer, or at least I don’t want to get into the controversy of discussing it. But I do believe clean eating, moderation, exercise and a healthy mind all contribute to being healthy.

And this isn’t an easy balance to strike in today’s stressful and polluted world we live in. (sorry for the pessimistic outlook)

BUT we can do better! And we must, for ourselves, but for the world too.

This is where veganism comes into play. Not only is veganism on the rise (Check out this cool article), but it brings me so much joy and hope to see how many young people start their journey into a plant-based lifestyle. I translate this into a better world health-wise, environmentally and for the animals.

More than 1.5 million Americans over the age of 17 are now vegan.

Number of vegans in Britain rises by 360% in 10 years

Whether you are going vegan for health reasons, for the environment or for animal welfare, you have to remember your motivation to be able to fully enjoy this lifestyle.

From my experience, the benefits of this diet outweigh the perceived restriction. In fact, I never feel restricted on this diet, especially in London where there are so many good vegan options.

My main reason for going vegan is health related. On this diet I have reduced inflammation in my body and recovered from chronic conditions. I am usually prone to inflammation and some common infections – that’s just my genetic make-up.

I started my journey towards veganism in January 2017. I decided to transition gradually (giving up meat first, then dairy and soon fish and eggs) because when I tried it out a few years ago, I didn’t know what I was doing and ended up with lots of deficiencies.

But I have learned a lot since then, read and got myself informed before making the decision to go vegan again.

Here’s what you need to know.
  1. You will need a B12 supplement

This is the only thing lacking in a vegan diet – a vitamin found only in animal products, made up by micro-organisms that plants can’t produce. Here’s how you keep this in check.

  • Fortified foods:
    • Vitamin B12 is added to some alternatives to milk products, vegan spreads, nutritional yeast flakes, yeast extracts and breakfast cereals
    • Eat these foods at least twice a day
    • Aim for a daily intake of at least 3mcg (micrograms)
  • Supplements: take either at least 10mcg daily or at least 2000mcg weekly

I recommend this one. But you can get cheaper tablets at your local drug store.

2. Detoxing (and its side effects)

A vegan diet done right contains a rainbow of foods. If you’re not going to have chips and vegan cheese every day (or some weird vegan processed foods), you will probably start detoxing and seeing some reactions in your body.

Upping your fiber intake, your nutrients and antioxidants and the water (smoothies) you drink is going to start getting rid of toxins in your body. Depending on how clean you were eating beforehand, you may experience (only for a few days!) breakouts, extreme fatigue, headaches, constipation or diarrhea, cravings.

However, one you get past this phase you will have more energy, brighter skin, brighter eyes, better sleep and happier organs 🙂

3. Probiotics

When you’re transitioning to a new type of diet, especially one full of fiber, your stomach might need a little time to adjust. Your intestinal flora is going through massive changes and you need to support your transition by making sure you eat a variety of foods like:

  • Vegan yoghurts with probiotic cultures (most of them have these added)
  • Fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha drinks, miso paste)
  • Fermented tofu or tempeh

Alternatively, you can take probiotic supplements.

4. Vegan protein

Don’t worry, it’s everywhere. Just make sure you eat a variety of vegan protein sources so you can have complete protein profiles in your diet. Here’s a great guide:

Vegetarian Complete Protein Combination Chart | Hurray vegetarians rejoice!

Quinoa, buckwheat and tofu are complete proteins.

5. Up some of the nutrients when you’re transitioning

If there’s one diet abundant in vitamins and minerals, this is probably it. However, not all vegan diets are created equal, so make sure you choose nutrient-rich whole plants and fortified foods!

Yes, it may take some time for your body to adjust, you may feel you’re doing it wrong at first, but it’s just a matter of fine tuning. And the good news is – you can probably eat more now! More of the good stuff that is, not vegan fast food. (sorry)

Disclaimer: I’m not a qualified nutritionist so do consult a doctor/nutritionist before making drastic changes to your diet. I am simply sharing my knowledge and experience of transitioning to veganism.

Calcium

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not hard to get your daily calcium intake from plants. Surprisingly for some, you’ll find it kale, pak choi, okra, spring greens, dried figs, chia seeds and almonds. Calcium-set tofu, calcium-fortified milk and yogurt alternatives and bread fortified with extra calcium are good sources too.

Vitamin D

If you live in the UK, unfortunately there’s no escape from taking vitamin D supplements or fortified foods. I recently discovered I was severely deficient in vitamin D – before transitioning!! – and had NO idea, just a lot of bone pain and muscle pain. What a nightmare…! I now take a drop of this every day.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 

One great piece of nutritional advice I got recently from Rhiannon Lambert BSc MSc ANut (@rhitrition) was to increase my Omega-3 DHA intake (which you’d normally find in fish oils) through an algae supplement.

Read more about these nutrients here.
BONUS

A list of sources of information that are reliable and scientific.

www.vegansociety.com

How Not To Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health

Happy veganing everyone!

Maria

P.S. Don’t beat yourself up if you go off the vegan trail one day. Remember that even reducing the amount of meat, dairy, eggs, fish you are consuming, you’re already making a huge difference to your health, the environment and animal welfare.

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Fig and orange vegan chocolate tarts

Ok. I’m never going back to traditional chocolate desserts now that I have made the ultimate vegan treat. You probably don’t believe me, but wait till you try this!I made this recipe simple-stupid, so that you have no excuse. Plus, it takes less than 30 mins to make it. Yes, prep time included. I know, I know, I’m pretty awesome… 😛


Things you need

  • Food processor
  • Tart tins (don’t wanna buy these? use any tin you have, make it into a tin cake instead)

Ingredients (makes 4 medium sized tarts)

Base:

  • 70g rehydrated dry figs (overnight or at least 4 hours)
  • 100g pecan nuts (almonds or cashew will do too; no peanuts!)
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1 tbsp cocoa nibs

Mousse

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 100g organic cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) coconut milk
  • 50ml maple syrup (or sweetener of choice, quantity may vary)

Secret ingredient: Organic, pure wild orange essential oil by doTERRA. It’s pretty magical and without it the dish kinda falls flat. If you can’t get hold of this, try lots of organic orange zest.

Method

  1. Process the pecan nuts in the food processor until evenly ground.
  2. Add the figs and the rest of the base ingredients and process until well combined.
  3. Add 3 drops of orange essential oil.
  4. Press mixture in tart tins to form even bases.
  5. Place in the freezer until chocolate mousse is ready.
  6. Add all the mousse ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust texture and sweetness to your liking (e.g. more coconut milk or more maple syrup).
  7. Add a couple of orange oil in the mousse too. (no, it’s not too much!)
  8. Pour the mousse into the tart tins you took out from the freezer
  9. Decorate and enjoy immediately or keep in the fridge for later use.

I told you it’s the easiest recipe! I can make this with my eyes closed now, using only 8 ingredients. Although, I should not close my eyes when operating a food processor!!


I hope you enjoy it, let me know in the comments.

The Nicecream Craze and How to Make Some

You may have heard about the latest delicious vegan craze in the form of nicecream. What is nicecream you ask? A frozen banana-based dessert. It’s dairy, egg and sugar free – except for, of course, the naturally occurring sugars and whatever topping you choose to adorn it with.

It’s a great option for kids desserts, vegan diets and sometimes even as a refreshing breakfast.

Wanna try it? Here’s an easy recipe I wiped up this weekend:

Ingredients
  • 150g frozen mango
  • 200g frozen bananas
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or sweetener of your choice
  • 100ml almond milk (or other plant-based milk)
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • squeeze of lime

You also need a food processor.

Method
  1. Put the bananas in the food processor and almond milk and blend
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients gradually while blending and pausing (depending on your food processor, this will take between 5-10 mins to properly incorporate all ingredients)
  3. Pour the creamy, frozen mixture in a tray and sprinkle with berries and chopped nuts.
  4. Freeze for an hour or as long as it takes to further solidify the nicecream.
  5. Take out, scoop and serve with coconut chips, cocoa nibs, fresh fruit in granola bottom glasses.

This is how I chose to serve mine 🙂

And some other, less fancy options 🙂

Creamy mushroom and asparagus vegan pasta

A new world is upon me! I discovered cashew-based sauces and nothing will ever be the same.

Was I sceptical about this? Yes. Was I proven wrong by how good, deliciously creamy and cheese-like the sauce turned out? 100%.

Without further ado, here’s how to turn your ‘cheesy’ dreams into a vegan reality.

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Ingredients

  • Your favourite pasta (for 2-3 portions)
  • A bunch of asparagus
  • Mushrooms (as many as you like, there is no right or wrong here)
  • Olive oil
  • Lots of pepper
  • 1 shallot/onion

Cashew sauce

  • 1 cup cashews (soaked over night for best results)
  • 1 cup plant based milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 table spoons inactive yeast flakes
  • gulp of olive oil
  • 2 table spoons soy sauce
  • a sprinkle of fresh parsley
  • 1 lime/lemon (zest and juice)
  • half a shallot (optional)
  • Lots (and I mean LOTS) of ground pepper

Step 1: Cook the pasta as instructed.

Step 2: Meanwhile saute the mushrooms in olive oil and diced shallots + salt and pepper

Step 3: Steam the asparagus for a few minutes then cut it in small pieces and mix with the mushrooms (off the heat)

Step 4: Put all the sauce ingredients in a blender, blend on a low speed and increase gradually. Stop a few times to scrape the sides of the container, for a consistent, smooth blend. Blend on a high speed until smooth and creamy. Add seasoning to taste and more milk if needed.

Step 5: Mix the cooked paste with the mushrooms, asparagus and creamy sauce. Plate and east straight away

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Enjoy!

Maria

Make Meat a Treat, I Dare You!

WHY EAT LESS MEAT

Some of you would’ve noticed on my Instagram account (@mariasnaturalkitchen) that I have a clear preference for plantbased meals. I love fruit and vegetables, I am fascinated by spices and herbs and clean eating is a way of life for me. If you want to eat less meat, continue reading this post.

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I’m not perfect though, chocolate is my Achilles’ heel (isn’t everyone’s?). I will succumb to naughty chocolate treats every now and again. I also have this philosophy  that if the healthiest option available isn’t vegan (but meat-free), I will go for that instead.

But it’s all about balance, right?

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My decision to include an abundance of whole foods in my diet was not purely health-conscious, I genuinely love the taste of veggies. But I soon began to notice the difference in my energy levels,  skin complexion, digestion and ability to maintain a healthy weight. It was very hard to go back afterwards…

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However, I recently became more aware of the environmental impact my lifestyle has. And this has made me even more passionate about it! Let me hit you with some facts now, courtesy of my new favorite website www.wearedonation.com/DoActions

70% of agricultural land is used up by livestock, providing grazing land and feedcrop.

Roughly 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by livestock and their products,1 that’s more than is produced by transport.

1 beef steak emits more CO2 than driving for an hour and leaving all the lights on at home.

Now, I’m not saying to stop eating meat. BUT even changing from carbon-intensive lamb and beef to less carbon-intensive pork and chicken means a 18% reduction.

Not to mention the health benefits.

Health Benefits

Limit Cancer Risk: Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Both red and processed meat consumption are associated with colon cancer.

Reduce Heart Disease: Recent data from a Harvard University study found that if you replace saturated fat-rich foods (meat and full fat dairy) with foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fat (for example, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds), you’ll reduce your risk of heart disease by 19%.

Fight Diabetes: Research suggests that higher if you eat a lot of red and processed meat increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Curb Obesity: People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass indices. A recent study from Imperial College London also found that reducing overall meat consumption can prevent long-term weight gain.

Live Longer: Red and processed meat consumption is associated with increases in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality.

Improve Your Diet: Consume beans or peas for  higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.

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To celebrate earth day, I pledged to eat at least 10 plant-based meals per week from now on. 

Make your pledge too, here: www.wearedonation.com/DoActions/veg-out/

And don’t forget to be more, chase less.

Maria

Mindfulness (Or The Power of Now)

This is a story about mindfulness.

I was walking down the street after work recently, taking in the rather mild winter air, – my head still buzzing with mundane thoughts: ‘What should I have for dinner?’, ‘Did I say the right thing in that meeting?’, ‘Have I got a lot planned for the weekend?’, ‘I need to remember to buy some detergent.’ And my mind kept going on and on, jumping from one subject to another, keeping me distracted…

But suddenly, it went quiet.

And then I started noticing… People rushing to do some last minute shopping, teenagers celebrating end of term, queuing cheerfully for chicken at Nando’s, bars and pubs buzzing with excitement, heavy traffic building up, much to the drivers’ frustration.

I had a strange, yet incredibly calming feeling of everything moving in slow motion. I felt present, connected to my surrounding, living in the now. It only lasted for a few seconds, as a warm breeze hit my face and I was listening to an artist playing the guitar near the tube station. It was a random combination of music, beautiful weather and … letting go. But that moment happened unconsciously. I didn’t plan or tried to be present.

That feeling of peace and pure joy is indescribable. And it’s linked to nothing. It’s just…being.

It doesn’t need space, time or other elements of form.

This is exactly what the book The power of now is trying to teach us. I read it recently but it was then when I understood what the following paragraph meant to say:

‘Please stop trying to understand Being. You have already had significant glimpses of Being, but the mind will always try to squeeze it into a little box and then put a label on it. It cannot be done. It cannot become an object of knowledge.[…]Being can be felt as the ever present I am that is beyond the name and form.’

Whether you’re religious, or not, any form of meditation and mindfulness will bring you closer to the state of being. I rarely experience this feeling of total disconnection from my overactive mind. But I noticed this happening when I’m out in nature, or while practicing yoga. And sometimes just by observing the world around me.

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