And this week’s lucky dead plants are

Our family’s almost-vegan food prep this week includes:

  • roasted broccoli and red kidney beans
  • stir-fried white cabbage, baby corn and shredded courgette (neither rugrat will eat courgette unless it is well-disguised, so this is attempt number Deity Knows)
  • boiled broad beans
  • tofu crumbles (inspired by this corn soup and tofu larb recipe)

These are theoretically going to be mix and matched into a myriad of delicious combinations served with noodles, rice, pasta, and so on; in reality, one child will just whine about how she doesn’t like it, while the other one will make a face because she can’t speak in sentences yet (the “What is this crap you’re trying to feed me?!” expression).

Dark circles

I should have known that large pieces of blank card, even when split up via a string (lightly-pencilled ‘guide lines’) wouldn’t hold my attention. Teeny tiny tiles make tangling much more satisfying and meditative for me.

Save the oceans

How to improve the health of the ocean, The Economist:

Humans have long assumed that the ocean’s size allowed them to put anything they wanted into it and to take anything they wanted out.

By the middle of the century the ocean could contain more plastic than fish by weight.

… but, really, we are completely fucked, aren’t we?

We are now tree-hugging hippies, but I draw the line at socks and sandals (although my children do not)

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Michael Pollan

Over the last six months to a year, we’ve been transitioning to a (mostly) plant-based, real food diet at home. Aside from the smug virtue you can justifiably (?) feel emanating from this post, I think cutting down drastically on consuming animal products* has helped our overall health — Eliza’s eczema, too.

There are a few things we do that I think have had the most positive impact, and it all has to do with gut health**. Basically, if your gut is in a balanced and happy state, it helps immensely with your physical well-being. That means consuming lots of probiotics (good bacteria that live in your gut) and prebiotics (indigestible plant fibre that feeds the bacteria).

  1. Brewing water kefir
    I spent £4 on some grains, and we haven’t had to buy any more. It’s a simple process of dissolving sugar into water (four tablespoons for sugar per tablespoon of kefir in about a litre of water) and then adding the kefir, covering with a terry tea towel and fastening with a rubber band. We’ve had to check it after 24 hours in the summer (we’ve just learnt this this week!), but can push it to 48-60 hours in the winter. We do not ferment a second time as everyone is happy with the results of the first fermentation.
  2. Huge amounts of food preparation, or as my friend Kristen calls it, defensive cooking on the weekend
    The idea behind this is to reduce the amount of cooking and washing up we have to do during the week. If I don’t prep it, I don’t eat it, and our veg will go scummy in the fridge while we get takeaway Indian, pizza, or fish and chips.
    This weekend I’ve roasted broccoli stalks and hasselback potatoes, baked potatoes that have been stuffed with a red lentil and nutritional yeast filling, roasted and blended an experimental onion ‘cream’ (experimental because I’ve never done it before and I’m really bad at following recipes / instructions), roasted cooked french green lentils, steamed and glazed carrots, made portobello mushroom ‘bacon’, and baked broccoli and cheddar fritters (to use up the broccoli stalks). I’ll do a bit more cooking over the week (as I can’t face spending any more time in the kitchen), but I’m basically combining all these bits into various meals. It’s half-term, so I need to consider feeding Anne at lunchtime, too.

The rugrats haven’t exactly wholeheartedly embraced this change in diet, but as we’ve never been a chicken nuggets and chips for dinner type of family (they get the opportunity to eat this ‘conventional’ diet when we go out), it’s not been too tough. Anne has particularly enjoyed switching from chicken to roasted wheat gluten in our rice- and noodle-based dishes. Weekly rewards for trying new foods help.

Everything in moderation, including moderation.
– Oscar Wilde

We also eat highly-processed foods like Quorn, ham, chocolate, ice cream, crisps, cheese puffs, crackers, gummy sweets, pastries, cake, KFC / McDonalds — just not too often.

* We are not vegan nor vegetarian, there are nutritional advantages to consuming small amounts of dairy, eggs, meat, and fish that going completely plant-based cannot replicate. Plus, rare (bleeding, only briefly introduced to the grill) steak.

** I found Gut by Giulia Enders fascinating, and funny. It’s not preachy and you learn so much about a part of the body a lot of people don’t really talk about. Except my (late) grandfather. He was obsessed with the workings of his gut!