My Top 3 Vegetarian Restaurants – Dublin

Cornucopia

This popular vegan restaurant in the heart of the city centre has a well-established reputation for quality foods. There is always a selection of mains with my favourite being, cannelloni versions or a delicious gratin packed with veg. All mains come with two salads and there is a good selection here too. It is great for a hearty lunch or dinner and the atmospheric lighting in the evening makes it the great date option. Cornucopia also serve organic wine and cold pressed juices as the perfect accompaniment to your dinner.

And of course, no dinner would be complete without something sweet. All Cornucopia’s desserts are vegan with most being gluten free or refined sugar free. But don’t be fooled these desserts are just vegan versions of your classic desserts so be mindful of overindulging. To round of the meal I would recommend choosing a pot of their lovely tea to sit and enjoy. My favourite is unicorn tears, you get about three cups from the pot, excellent for relaxing after a good meal.

Cornucopia
Cornucopia dinner

The Happy Pear

Having been to both cafe’s, Greystones and Clondalkin I can honestly say I prefer Clondalkin. OK to be fair to Greystones, it was Paddy’s Day and the weather was awful. I ordered the Buddha bowl and had to stand while my food was getting cold while waiting on my coffee. Now a more logical thing would have to eat dinner then choose coffee and cake but we felt we were in danger of flooding our table and waiting in the queue again. Again a hearty meal that will leave you feeling satisfied. I did enjoy walking around the shop and picked up a few things their cookies are so good. So last weekend I took a short detour on a long road trip to fill my belly with more deliciousness. Clondalkin was surprisingly easy to get to and there was free parking which is always a plus. I arrived right between breakfast and lunch so had the great option of choosing which to go for. Baked eggs was on the menu and I was sold! Although I could have easily gone for their famous free porridge! My coffee arrived promptly and the eggs weren’t far behind. The spicy bean sauce the perfectly runny egg was sitting in was heaven. The slice of bread generously mopped up the sauce and not a drop was left. My only problem I could easily put away two of them.  A trip to the shop and some fresh figs filled the gap and I will definitely be back!

The happy pear brunch (2)
The Happy Pear Brunch

Veginity

So my favourite venue on the list is a vegan food truck in Portobello because it serves the most amazing food! Unlike a traditional restaurant, Veginity change the menu every week so there is always something new to be discovered, a new culture to be explored. This week’s menu was inspired by Brick Lane in London and my friend and I popped in last night for our usual food and catch up. We choose a main each with Brick Lane plate being the absolute winner. The list of ingredients was impressive and was only out done by the flavour explosion as we tucked in and shared the plate. The curried sprouts were unlike any brussel sprouts we had tasted before and I loved the cardamom-coconut rice.

The brick lane dessert
The very pretty Brick Lane inspired dessert

We spoiled ourselves and went for dessert too, which was a South Asian inspired rice pudding. The rice pudding had a lovely coconut taste and this balanced the rhubarb perfectly.

Mark is passionate about bringing new experiences to both plant and meat eaters and it clearly shows in his diverse and interesting menus. I loved chatting Mark about the various menus he has put on during his short stay in Portobello. He remembers individual customers and can loves to hear your thoughts on the meal or menu. They have introduced a burger every week and he believes this helps non vegan diners to try the food. Veginity is open Thursday to Saturday from 5-10pm with plans to take up permanent residency soon. Don’t miss your opportunity to dine in this unique setting, like his menus it could all change next week.

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Great ideas for weekday lunches

Haven’t we had the best weather the last few days, I hope you got out on Sunday and spent some quality time with your Mammy! Thanks to my own Mammy I was sent off to school with ham sandwich, a mandarin orange and some animal biscuits every day. To most Irish people the thoughts of a packed lunch for work can bring you out in the cold sweats. But fear not; lunches have evolved into cool things and it’s now very chic to “tote” your lunch with you to work!

 

There is a tonne of benefits to bringing your lunch to work that go beyond saving you some money!

It’s a great way to control your portions meaning that option to go large or grab a soft drink with your roll isn’t going to spoil your good intentions. By making your own lunch you can also control the calorie content in your midday meal. Avoiding foods like chips, processed meat, cheese and sauces also means you are consuming less sugar and salt. The last benefit of making your own lunch is the endless options. Leftovers are made for tupperware but also consider salads and tapas style lunches!

Below is some suggestions to pimp your lunch box and help you be the envy of the office.

Salad + protein and avocado: This is my go to lunch! A base of nutritious leaves, like spinach and rocket or your favourite lettuce. Add to this a source of protein for example two boiled eggs, tin of tuna or some chicken.  Chuck in some chopped peppers, onion, slices of avocado, beetroot or sweetcorn. To turn your plain salad into a show stopper a good dressing is essential. I recommend making your own and don’t be afraid to get adventurous!

Our superfood from last week, quinoa, makes an appearance with stir fried vegetables and egg for a healthy twist on the traditional takeaway option. Most supermarkets sell pre-chopped peppers, I add these to ½ a cup of cooked quinoa with some spices in the wok. Beat and egg in a bowl and add to the mix, this literally takes 5 minutes to make and is nutritious and filling.

Healthy salad
Healthy salad with quinoa

Homemade soup is a great option and again don’t be afraid to experiment with flavours! By adding spices or interesting ingredients, soups can become nourishing belly hugs to warm you from the inside on miserable days. The Happy Pear have a very easy recipe for Thai coconut, sweet potato and lemongrass soup. The coconut adds a lovely depth of flavour to the sweet potato and with the fragrant lemongrass you could believe you were Bangkok instead of at your desk.

For healthy alternatives to chocolate bars or processed sugar at 3pm, I prefer to pack snacks like fruit, vegetables and hummus, roasted pumpkin seeds or chickpeas, yogurt and berries or homemade bars. These suggestions pack a nutritional punch and will keep you full till dinner time!

Healthy Snack
Healthy snacks – yogurt, fruit, nuts and sweet treats

Hope you enjoyed these tips and next week we’ll be looking at some healthy Easter egg options, yum!

Winner winner – Whats in your dinner?

Hi Everybody,

Welcome, back to my series on the hidden sugars in supermarket foods. Last time we looked at sinful lunches and breakfast so now it’s time to tackle the biggest meal of the day, dinner!

So I applied the same rule to this research as the last two. Evaluated all the jars of sauces and even some powders on sugar content by 100g! I did this because serving sizes change one jar will recommend 125g per serve another 105. This is the best way to evaluate and chose the healthiest sauce for you!

Sweet and Sour sauce

Think your jar of ready-made sauce is healthier than a takeaway? Think again. Sharwood’s Sweet and Sour sauce contained a whopping 22.7g per 100g and because of a larger serving size this actually equates to a massive FIVE teaspoons of sugar in your dinner!

Uncle Ben’s Sweet and Sour sauce is no better containing a whopping 16.2g per 100g! That’s 4 tablespoons of sugar and sugar is the second ingredient on the list. This is definitely one sauce to stay away from if you are trying to watch your sugar intake!

Curry

Everybody loves a curry, it is a Friday night treat in most houses the Uncle Ben’s mild curry is a firm favourite! Unfortunately this jar of sauce had 5.4g of sugar per 100g. That’s a 1 ½ teaspoons per serving. Uncle Ben isn’t as badly misbehaved as Knorr whose mild curry sauce contained almost two teaspoons per portion!

Knorr curry

For comparison I looked at the McDonnell’s curry powder, the only one my Mammy uses! This curry powder had an even higher sugar content than the jar version! With 7.7g of sugar, this curry had two teaspoons of sugar per 100g!

Pasta sauces

As our tastes change more and more people are eating pasta for dinner. Often carbohydrates are demonised as contributing to weight gain but ever considered it’s the pasta sauce you use? Dolmio bolognese sauce contains 5.8g of sugar per 100g and almost two teaspoons per serving! Unlike the US where low fat usually means more sugar the lighter version of the Dolmio range contained 5.2g per serving that’s a reduction of two grams of sugar! Similarly, the Loyd Grossman range of sauces had the same sugar content as the Dolmio Original.

Now, I know passata contains 4.1g of sugar per 100g, these sugars are natural from the tomatoes. Another reason I would recommend passata is you have control of the rest of the ingredients. No artificial preservatives, additives or flavours!

One of my favourite dishes from college, was Chicken Tonight! We loved it so much we would cook huge pots and eat the leftovers on sandwiches the next day! So, for old time’s sake I evaluated its sugar content in the interest of research. The flavour I looked at was Country French, and I have to admit I was surprised. The sauce contains 2.3g of sugar and per serving 2.9 sugars. Although far from sugar free it’s one of the lowest sugar content jar sauce I looked at.

So maybe you need to have a look at your cupboard see what lurks inside? Are you doubting your favourite dinner? If you make one change a week, you will be on the track to healthy eating. Maybe make one homemade meal this week? And remember Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Stay healthy X

2016 Year of Pulses!

Good news, the UN has announced 2016 as the international year of pulses! Vegans and vegetarians are celebrating all over the world. Well kind of, OK not really. I might be the only one excited about this!

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Lentils are having a major moment after being named as one of the superfoods for 2016, its family has now been awarded a whole year of celebration.

Pulses actually describes the leguminous vegetables, included on the long list are pinto, kidney, broad and butter beans, dry peas, chickpeas and our hero lentils!

There are a number of reasons why pulses are so important from an economical point of view to a nutrition perspective. They also have nitrogen fixing qualities so are a power house in agricultural terms too. Nutritionally these foods, are a source of protein, contain complex carbohydrates, plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals and contain no fat or cholesterol.

Why not check out my recipe for mixed bean stew? And I will be sure to post some recipes for our “new” superfood, lentils!

Stay healthy X

January retake please!

Retake 2016??

So just realised it’s the last day of January 2016, the month has flown by! I set myself some small challenges for January instead of New Year resolutions and guess what; I failed. Yep most of them just didn’t happen. And you know what? It’s OK. Remember my mantra for 2016 is better not perfect. I could go really hard on myself but I will just create a negative mind set and that’s not going to help with my long term goals. So the positives:

I actually exercised 5 times a week consistently. Whether it was a HIIT workout in my underwear in the tiny flat or a 4k run. I did it, it happened. Sometimes it wasn’t perfect and sometimes it was hard but I did it!

I’m still refined sugar free apart from date night but I’m going to work on this for 2016.

I have become more conscious of my eating habits and now recognise when I’m in dodgy territory. Unfortunately this revelation only came about last night and the saying “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail” comes to mind. So this leads me on to the negatives of January.

Inspiration 1
Picture from Pinterest

The blow out that I had over New Years and after really left me struggling to get back on track with my eating. I just kept craving sugar and now I was exercising more so I wanted food all the time! Disaster! So I ended filling up on a lot of toast. Commercial bread, although not the worst snack isn’t really ideal! I need to invest the time in preparing healthy snacks for long days or days with social commitments after work.

My skin has started to suffer from my poor food choices and this was one of the reasons I gave up sugar in the first place. I see the odd spot starting to reappear and it is definitely linked to what foods I’m eating. This more so than anything is my wake up call to do a retake on 2016!

So my goal for February, simply to make more real foods. I’m going to start bringing my lunch to work again. Lettuce wraps, salads and soups are all on my hit list! If anyone has some lunch ideas feel free to share with me, please! Looking forward to all your healthy suggestions!

Stay healthy X