Sunday, 31 December 2017

#Veganuary 2018 - Smokey Sausage Casserole

So I posted on @tinnedtoms post about veganuary and she pointed me in the direction of this easy recipe on her blog  - the recipe on her blog looked easy enough to do but I have to admit I just used it as a guideline - mainly because I am a rubbish cook and have zero ingredients in my cupboards! Also I don't like mashed potatoes which is what she served hers with.

Using her recipe as a guide I made my own version :):


Pack of 6 Linda Mcartney veggie sausages (these are vegan unlike quorn ones as quorn uses egg as a binding agent)
1 leek
1 onion
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of sliced carrots (I had no fresh!)
1 tin of sliced mushrooms (ditto above)
1 tin of baked beans with the sauce washed off
1/2 tin of kindey beans
1/2 tin of butter beans
1000 ml of veg stock (2 cubes - I was really surprised to learn that not all veg stock cubes are vegan - some have lactose in them which is a sugar from dairy!)
1 tsp of lazy garlic (the pre chopped stuff in a jar)
approx 10 small salad potatoes in their skins washed and chopped
1/2 a can of fruity cider (again so many have random animal products in them! mine didnt)


  • Sliced and diced and washed the leek - lightly fried in olive oil until soft and added to the slow cooker
  • Poured in the stock
  • Added  in tin of tomatoes
  • Added in tin of carrots
  • Added in tin of mushrooms
  • Washed tomato sauce off baked beans
  • Added in backed beans
  • Added in half tin of kidney and butter beans
  • Sliced and diced the onion and lightly fried in olive oil - added  in garlic and added to slow cooker
  • Washed and sliced potatoes - boiled until firm not soft and added to slow cooker
  • Added some salt and pepper to slow cooker
  • Cooked 6 pack of veggie sausages in oven, once cooked sliced each sausage into 6 pieces and added to slow cooker
  • Poured in half a can of cider
  • Cooked everything on medium heat of 3 hours
  • Cooled and portioned out into containers ready to freeze 
Surprisingly it actually tastes  pretty good - smokey with a hint of fruity sweetness :D

It made a massive amount as well - after I portioned it out I had 5 large meal size portions and 2 smaller lunch size portions. 

Here's hoping the rest of the recipes I try turn out as well :)

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

#Veganuary 2018

Last year in January I did veggie-uary - I ate no meat or fish for the whole month. It was pretty difficult for me - I don't like salad or vegetables, I don't eat a lot of fruit either. It required me to plan my meals and try new foods and even though I only did it for a month I carried on with having veggie meals a couple of days a week for the rest of the year and started to regularly include fruit and veg in both my meals and snacks.

For 2018 I am going to actually take it further and do veganuary - no meat, no eggs, no cheese, no butter, no animal products of any kind - hell I am even going to avoid biting my nails for the month! I've checked in with vegan friends and asked for decent cheese substitutes there aren't any :( , scoped out the offerings in regards to vegan replacements for milk (dream oat milk for cereals - its so delicious and creamy unlike soy milk!) and things like vegan ready meals/frozen food - there are some so I won't have to cook everything from scratch whoot!

I've been scouring the net for easy recipes and for local cafes/restaurants that do vegan food as well - I am super lucky to live in a city like Cardiff where they have so many offerings.

Some people might wonder why on earth I would set myself a challenge like this, especially when I have been known to literally just eat meat and eggs for 3 meals a day! There are  a couple of reasons:

1. I am sure my carbon footprint like so many people in developed countries is huge! Eating vegan can cut your carbon footprint and help with climate change and the environmental issues caused by it. Everyone has a responsibility to take care of the Earth for future generations. My hope is that doing veganuary will help me introduce more vegan food into my diet in the future so that I can continue to reduce my carbon footprint.

2. I want to be a healthier me - this last year I have worked really hard to ensure I am eating more nutritionally well, a balanced and varied diet and to increase my fitness levels. Through exercise and the introduction of fruit and veg into my diet I have managed to get my diabetes under control - for the first time in nearly 15 years my blood glucose levels have been within the normal range. This is a huge thing for me and my diabetic team have told me if I continue to improve there may be opportunity to reduce the amount of medication I am on and also lower the risk of complications due to diabetes (these include blindness, amputation, heart/liver issues etc so that's a pretty big reason right there)

3. I actually like animals - I have 4 cats, a dog and 2 snakes - in the past I have had spiders, rats, mice, rabbits, birds, snails, stick insects, hamsters, fish etc if I don't think about it then eating animals and animal products is fine but when I do think about it I feel guilty - how can I claim to love one animal yet eat another? I don't need animal protein to survive. Worst is the conditions animals  are kept in, if they had happy lives up until the slaughterhouse then it wouldn't be so bad but thinking of animals suffering, being tortured, living in their own filth and being force fed just so I can have some cheap chicken fried rice is horrible. I try not to think about it really to be honest, like most people I act all shocked when the exposes come on the tv or in the papers but deep down we know it happens we just try to pretend it doesn't as we really want a bacon sarnie!

4. The amount of space needed for producing animal meat and animal products is massive.  The same amount of space used for growing veggies and crops would feed a greater population. With people starving and the cost of food increasing how can we justify using all that space? It's not just 3rd world countries either, in the UK more and more people are going hungry, turning to food banks because they can't afford to eat!

So that's it really, I am going to try veganuary and hope I can do it and the things I learn from it I can carry forward and continue with. I'm going to hopefully post my meal plans on the blog and link to recipes and things that turn out well for me, as well as posting about some of the vegan options in Cardiff.

I hope that some other people out there will give veganuary a shot as well :) If you are doing it please say hi - we can support each other through the medium of social media and the internet!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Progress and facing my fears - a self indulgent waffle!

This year has been a year of facing my fears - at the start of the year I made a conscious decision to 'grow a pair'. I made the choice to myself to do it and I *have* been doing it all year long.

And I am kinda proud of myself for doing it!

Things I have done/wanted to do that scare me:

1. Do more social things - so I don't always make the social events I agree to go to, I sometimes arrive late and leave early so I don't have to spend as much time there but I am trying. Every time I arrange something my brain wombles tell me no-one wants me there, that everyone thinks I am weird or odd, that no-one will actually speak to me, that I am going to do something so catastrophically awful that the entirety of Wales will banish me from their midst - melodramatic yes, illogical yes, but real thoughts and feelings? Absolutely!

But I have gone from going to enforced events 2-3 times a year to doing things a couple of times a month. And yeah, sometimes people don't speak to me but that's okay because sometimes I don't speak either, and some people think I am weird and odd and yeah that's okay too because I can be weird and odd and maybe some people don't want me there or are indifferent to whether I am there or not and that's also okay too

2. Try a sport and not just any sport but a team sport - I am not a team player, I'm not all go team. I don't get the whole high fiving thing (and not only because why the hell would you want to high five someone who has been doing an activity that is going to make them sweaty and revolting and also have they even washed their hands today?), the chants, the over emotional responses to winning or losing and so on. I don't like sharing my personal space with strangers and I don't like celebrating mediocrity like hey you tried a thing and it didn't work but well done for trying- whatever!

So clearly I had to choose a full contact team sport where people are all hot and sweaty and smelly and gross and encouraging and supportive *vom* and it was hard - not just the physical side of things because let's face it I am a fat unfit blob who is more flabs than abs - but the interpersonal skills side of it. It's like having your fear become a reality - the fear of being awful and rubbish and the worst one there and then you go and you are awful and rubbish and the worst one there! The first few sessions were hellish. People literally dripped sweat on me (and yes even typing that makes me want to throw up!), I've had to speak or rather shout stupid things out in a group of people, I've looked like a complete idiot and dick on numerous occasions, I've had to deal with the fact I suck, I've had people leaning on me, practically sitting on my lap and spinning around me and making really fucking uncomfortable eye contact. And these people are scary, they are good at what they do, they actually believe in the whole team thing! It's incredibly odd and unnerving and so hard.

I am glad I have been doing it. It has had a positive impact on my physical well being - my diabetes is so much more well controlled and this combined with going to the gym (another breeding ground for germs and oh so many feelings of inadequacy and confirmation of my own hideous fat physical appearance!) has led to me actually being a lot fitter and stronger.

I'm still not convinced by the whole team spirit thing but I am impressed watching how people work together to achieve some pretty cool things and watching the techniques and dedication of the players is, and I really hate to admit this, inspiring and kind of makes me want to be better too. I also discovered I quite like zoning out and skating around in circles.

3. Being more open - more open about my past and my mental health.

You know it's so hard to actually make the words come out of my mouth when speaking to someone to say I was in an abusive relationship, hell even typing it just makes me want to sink into a hole in the ground. There's so much shame and anxiety around it. Will people believe you, will they think you're weak and always that underlying feeling of it's all my own fault, I caused a perfectly reasonable nice person to do this thing. I have and I haven't  really succeeded with this, I have managed to post on a few forums where people don't know me personally (though I also then freaked out and deleted the posts as they contained a lot of detail), I have sort of mentioned it in passing as in my ex wasn't very nice and they were abusive but not the detail and I think that's okay its progress.

I've also told several people I have OCD and I have social anxiety. I mean I haven't told everyone and certainly not work and I don't go round wearing an OCD socially inadequate freaks of GB team shirt but I am acknowledging it. I struggle to put into words when I am speaking the impact it has but considering previously the only people who knew my diagnosis were me and my GP just telling people is enough.

What's  really been important for me this year though is recognising I am moving forward, it may be slow, it may be tiny steps, I may fall over but I continue to try.

The problem with hugging

It's the time of year full of festive good cheer where friends and family meet up and pass on gifts, cards, wishes of joy and hugs. Which is really super awkward if like me you don't hug.

Now firstly let  me start by saying I actually *want* to hug people, I want to be able to be care free and run up to friends (if I had friends) and greet them with a hug but I can't. It's like my brain is  wired wrongly and can't seem to make the connection between the thought of hugging and the action. Hugging just feels alien to me, uncomfortable and weird. And here are the reasons why:

1. I wasn't hugged as a child - this isn't a woe pity me my childhood sucked throwaway comment - it's true I have zero recollection of being hugged or hugging anyone as a kid. Maybe I was but I just don't remember it. To be honest I have very few clear memories of life before I turned around 9 and those I do have don't lend themselves to warm fuzzies of family get togethers and everyone greeting each other with a smile and a hug. I don't blame my parents for this - I'm a socially awkward adult and it's taken me this long to develop enough social skills to get by - as a child I was probably quite foul. But anyways I don't think I ever learned to hug people properly. Which leads on to:

2. How exactly do you know when to hug someone anyways? Like when is it appropriate and when isn't it? What if you go in arms spread guns blazing so to speak and the other person is just expecting a friendly hand shake?

3. And whilst your about it how do you compensate for things like height differences? I mean if I go to hug someone taller than me and I end up with a face full of boobs I am not going to complain I personally am rather fond of boobs in all their forms but other people may not be so thrilled getting smooshed up against mine.

4. Talking of smooshing being fat what if my fat squidges into whoever I am hugging and repulses them to the point they vomit up their lightly fried sprouts and pancetta?

5. And what if I squeeze them too hard and break them? How do you decide how much pressure you apply with a hug? I mean do you stop at the point they start creaking ominously?

6. Then you have other considerations like, what if you both go in for the hug and end up facing each other and then breathing in each other's faces? What if one of you has bad breath? Or a cold or some other airborne disease that you are then breathing it over each other?

7. Speaking of diseases you dont need to be breathing on each other to spread them you can spread them by touch, what if the other person is dirty or smells really bad? Or they think that I smell really bad? It's possible  I am bigger than most people so I sweat a lot (I wash a lot but I worry a lot about smelling)

8. Then there is the whole bodily function things - what if one of us sneezes, coughs, spits, burps etc on the other one by accident? It could happen. Also what if my breathing is too loud like hoooooorccchhhhh hooooorrrcccchhhhh Luke I am your hoooorrrccchhhhh Father type loud?

9. What if I am too fat for someone to hug - like they go to hug me but can't get their arms around me - awkward yes?

10. Also how long do you hold the hug for? What if I am there holding someone in a bear hug and they are thinking okay weirdo you should have let me go 3 minutes ago and now it's just awkward?

So yes, if I don't hug you it's nothing personal it's just that all of that goes through my head and by the time I have considered everything the moment to hug has passed or I have just said no because it's easier for me to avoid the hug and be considered cold and unfriendly!