DinnerLunch

By Aine Carlin | July 4, 2011

Photo: Aine Carlin

Finally! Summer has officially arrived in Cornwall and I am loving it. I was starting to feel seriously Vitamin D deprived, which for a sun worshipper like myself is never a good thing. I tend to get very grouchy when the sun is not out and is probably why I lust after a home in California.

Us vegans have to consider vitamins and minerals a lot – in actual fact we all should but for those leading a vegan lifestyle it is imperative. Therefore, I find myself planning my meals to include an array of ingredients that each serve a very specific purpose. Sounds complicated and fussy? Read on.

Photo: Aine Carlin

Daunting as it may sound, vegan meal planning is not so difficult. Whilst many believe vegans to be more prone to having deficiencies, in reality this is not the case. The reason being most vegans actually take great care with their diets to ensure all areas are covered and we end up becoming quite knowledgeable about dietary requirements and how to achieve balanced meals that not only taste great but give us everything we need nutritionally.

When I first embarked on this lifestyle I had no idea what food would provide me with a reliable source of calcium or protein and I certainly had no clue as to what the human body needed to remain fully functioning – hello B12! I needn’t have worried though because I was soon to learn that statistically speaking most Americans have twice the amount of deficiencies as their vegan counterparts – crazy, huh?

To confirm my healthfulness I recently decided to bite the bullet and get some blood work done. I can’t say I wasn’t a little trepidatious because although I feel fantastic you just never know what is going on inside but I figured it was best to know and although the blood test itself was horrible (I’ll spare you the details) the results could not have been better. Doc was super impressed particularly with my cholesterol levels (no heart disease for me!), iron (see you anaemia) and even my folates (bring on the healthy pregnancy…… whenever it happens……hopefully not the near future but it’s good to know I’m sorted on the folic acid front). There was also no sign of a b12 deficiency either – seriously, phew – and my blood sugar levels were pretty as a picture, if blood sugar levels can be such a thing.

Photo: Aine Carlin

My point is, if you want to go vegan but are worried about not getting protein then chill and be rest assured you will get enough. Most people actually get too much. Fact! If you think by not drinking milk you’re sure to get osteoporosis then calm yourself, safe in the knowledge that with a balanced vegan diet you can totally side step this nasty little condition and march into old age, bones intact. Promise!

I know I plan on remaining healthy and I don’t aim to do it by spending my life in the kitchen – as much as I love cooking, I also have a life away from my stove. There’s way too much sun to be enjoyed and for those occasions I need something fast, furious and feverishly delicious. This salad is just one variation on about a hundred that I rotate frequently and I’m currently obsessed with adding a little fruit to the mix. Be it blueberries, strawberries or melon, toss it in for a summer spin on a daily staple for a truly sun kissed salad that will not only keep you happy on the inside but have you dancing to the beach in your bikini.

  • 1/2 small little gem lettuce
  • 1 spring onion/scallion
  • 1/4 cup sprouted mixed beans
  • 1 large closed cup mushroom
  • 1/4 cup organic blueberries
  • handful of mixed seeds, pumpkin, sunflower, pine nuts etc.
For the Dressing:
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp agave or other vegan sweetener
  • 2/3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper

Directions

1. Cut the little gem lettuce into small pieces, wash and dry. Transfer to a large bowl.

2. Finely slice the scallion and add to bowl. Toss in the sprouted beans.

3. Clean and gently peel the mushroom - slice very thinly and add to bowl.

4. Put all the ingredients for the dressing into an empty jar and shake vigorously until it emulsifies. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Pour half over the salad and mix thoroughly ensuring everything is evenly coated.

5. Wash the blueberries, add to bowl along with the mixed seeds and mix. Spoon over a little more dressing, gently toss and serve.

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