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Joanna Tideswell shares how she got on trialling a week of eating vegan menus

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Joanna Tideswell shares how she got on trialling a week of eating vegan menus

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Written by: Kathryn Danzey
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I don’t know about you but I always start the week with good intentions for my diet, but by Wednesday I’m slipping a bit and reaching for convenience foods.

I have a job that springs surprises on me, I could quite suddenly be two miles away from my lunch, sometimes at sea and that same lunch could still be in the fridge the next day! That doesn’t make me happy and I know it isn’t good for my health.

I get migraines, at least two a month and I know not eating regularly isn’t helping but I also wonder if it’s what I’m eating that is having an impact. I also have a small hernia in my rib cage from weight training, so I’ve been researching an alkaline diet for quite some time, as I find acid based foods can make me feel uncomfortable, especially at night.

I’ve also been vegetarian since I was 16 years old, something my Mum thought was a passing phase but I’m 44 now and still going strong. I make all the right healthy choices (well at least 99% of the time – still having my affair with Ben and his brother Jerry!) but sometimes my job dictates whether I get to eat those choices.

Although I don’t carry a bag when I’m called out at work, I do have very large, deep coat pockets and I’ve been trying to find healthy snacks that I can take with me to keep me going. I have no excuse not to eat anything! Whilst doing my research I came across The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant- Based Nutrition, I’ve read some great reviews on this book and some even better reviews about the author Julieanna Hever.

I decided to buy the book and commit to two weeks of reading it and then trying out some of the recipes. I’ve photographed some of the meals I ate, so the following is my review on my thoughts about the book, the food and how I felt during the week.

The book (332 pages) is split into four parts – Benefits of a plant -based diet, living a plant based life, special considerations and the plant based recipe box.

Easy Pinto Beans with Quinoa

The author states that eating a plant based diet is nothing new, under the title vegetarian and vegan it claims that getting nutrition from plant based foods is the best thing for your body and well being.

Plant based means a way of eating based on foods that come from plants and avoiding animal products and processed foods. The addition of whole food as in ‘whole food plant based diet’ means food directly from nature and that have not been stripped of the original packaging. This includes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.


I have never been totally sure what being a vegan entailed, from what the book states I know I would find this hard work and I feel sure requires great dedication. I’ve included the definitions of vegan and vegetarian and the subpopulations.

Vegan – A herbivore or plant eater that lives solely on plant products. Excludes all animal flesh including poultry and fish as well as products made by an animal (milk, dairy, eggs, gelatine and honey) They will not wear clothes or other items made with an animal product (fur, leather, silk, wool, feathers or pearls) or use cosmetics, toiletries or household goods with animal based ingredients.

Vegetarian – A person who doesn’t consume animal flesh but may eat eggs and dairy.

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians, do not eat any animal flesh but will eat dairy and eggs (that’s me)
  • Lacto -vegetarians, eat no animal flesh; they eat dairy but no eggs.
  • Ovo -vegetarians, no animal flesh, they eat eggs but no dairy.
  • Flexitarians, mostly plant based but occasional meat, fish and poultry.
  • Semi- vegetarian, exclude some meat (usually red) they still eat limited amounts of poultry and fish and/or seafood.

I really didn’t know that there were so many subpopulations to being a vegetarian! I suppose it all depends on how you feel on a particular day! For me, I decided to give up eating meat because I just didn’t like the taste and texture. The book states that veganism and vegetarianism defines what you exclude from your diet.

Plant based is unique because it defines the composition of what is included instead of what isn’t. By consuming large amounts of bulk with a low density you will feel fully for longer and faster and maintain your ideal weight. That is the whole idea of a plant-based diet. I read this book from cover to cover; some of the topics covered are;

  • Your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of all food groups.
  • Fats – the good and bad.
  • How you can use carbohydrates to your advantage.
  • How to get your vitamins and minerals from food.
  • How to get your fibre from plants.
  • The side effects from eating to much sugar. How you can use dates, fruits and molasses as a substitute.
  • The best food groups to eat.
  • How to divide your dinner plate into the food groups.
  • What you eat affects how you feel.
  • If you can’t pronounce it, then don’t eat it.
  • The quality of the food needs to dominate the quantity.
  • Eat when you’re hungry and stop before you are overfull.
  • Don’t count, weigh, measure or obsess about food.
  • Let food be a medicine, listen to your body
  • Are you eating emotionally because you are bored or stressed?
  • Are you really hungry or are you thirsty?
  • How eating an hour earlier at night can allow for complete digestion.
  • How to get your Vitamin D requirement by sitting in the sun three times a week for 15-20 minutes.
  • What processed food really means.
  • The argument on whether soy is safe.
  • Read food labels for hidden ingredients, make sure you know what they mean.
  • The fewer the ingredients on the label the better.
  • Think colourful foods and plan your menu for a week.
  • Pick an exercise you enjoy and include strength training.
  • Set realistic goals to improve your cardio, muscular and strength endurance, concentrating on flexibility and balance.
  • What supplements are, do you need them, why you need them, what you need?
  • What to consider if you are pregnant.
  • Nutrition in your golden years.
  • How to use nutritional yeast flakes to add the ‘cheesy’ hit.
  • Take a Vitamin B12 supplement if you are not consuming any animal flesh.

I decided after reading the book and looking at the recipes that I would follow the 7-day meal plan at the back of the book, give or take a few changes. I already take a vitamin B12 supplement as is recommended.

My first thoughts were;

Is this going to be expensive?

  • Can I buy the ingredients easily?
  • Are the meals going to take ages to prepare and make?
  • Is the food going to taste nice?
  • Can I freeze the food?

The author states that you should make sure you have a well-stocked larder of herbs and spices to add texture and flavour.  Apart from saucepans, all I needed was a set of measuring cups, a good blender and my willingness to put some time and effort into the cooking.

Armed with my shopping list I hit my local supermarket Morrisons, the only items I couldn’t find were kelp powder, Himalayan pink sea salt, raw carob nibs and nutritional yeast flakes.

Holland & Barrett didn’t have these ingredients either, but luckily I have a local independent health food shop that stocked all but the kelp powder and they could order in the carob nibs for me. I bought the kelp powder online with Cotsherb.

With a work top brimming with healthy ingredients I set about making my meals, it was great not having to use the kitchen scales. I just used the cups and threw everything into the bowl! The cooking time was minimal and I just needed to stir the pan every so often.

One thing I didn’t like was most of the meals have a big yield, the recipe will for example make 10 cups and one portion is one cup so I pretty much halved or quartered the quantities to make a smaller yield. I was able to freeze and I had all my meals and snacks for a week, all baked in one day, result!   Surprisingly, the preparation and cooking times were less than my usual routine. My food bill for the week was £7 less than my normal spend.

Cream of Carrot Soup

So how did I feel after the week?

Fantastic! I feel leaner, although I haven’t weighed myself I feel clearer headed and full of energy.

  • No headaches this week, even though I’ve been really busy.
  • I slept better and for longer.
  • I realise what good food tastes like.
  • I felt fuller for longer.
  • The meals for breakfast were bigger, so I didn’t feel hungry mid morning.
  • The healthy snacks were transportable in my big pockets.
  • I didn’t miss anything, not even chocolate! The sweetness of the date/fruit purees in the recipes was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.
  • When I did try a small amount of convenience food and chocolate after the week, I really noticed the salt and sugar content.
  • I love the parmesan shake; it replaces dairy and tastes like cheese. So great to add to soups, casseroles, dips and sprinkled over roasted cauliflower.
  • My food bill is lower which can only be good.
  • I didn’t need to buy ‘extras’ during the week, all my meals were made.
  • All the meals were simple to make and the recipes were easy to follow.
  • If you make the smoothies, make sure you blend for longer than the time states. I had so many bits stuck to my teeth, I could have auditioned for ‘Oliver’! The smoothies didn’t look very appetising but they tasted lovely. Green is good!
  • Add a little more plant milk to the blueberry banana pancakes or the batter is a little too thick.
  • The breakfast rice I preferred warm, the milk is runnier.
  • I tried the Easy beans and Quinoa with both the pinto and black beans, both were tasty and the same price to buy per can. If they are canned in salt water, rinse before you add to the recipe.
  • Unclassic Oatmeal Raisin cookies, gorgeous. Don’t buy oat flour just buy some old fashioned oats and blitz them in your blender or coffee grinder.
  • Favourites were the cream of carrot soup, blueberry banana pancakes and the oat cookies.

Will I carry on with this programme?  I can honestly say that I will! I’m not saying that I will never have ice cream again but I’ve discovered a new way of eating that has totally transformed the way I feel about food.  I can effortlessly replace eggs, milk, cheese, sugar etc with other tasty alternatives. I feel like I’m getting the correct balance of all the nutrients I need, the meals I take to work are of the right portion size and I can eat them hot or cold.

Unclassic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This book has worked wonders for me and my attitude to food has changed, I will no longer count calories or obsess about food. Food is a fuel that is meant to be enjoyed and when you eat well your body will respond and function how it should.  No more empty calories for me, I look at food labels more now and I’m willing to spend a little bit longer with my supermarket trolley to fill it with the real ‘good things’ and not what you think are the good foods. I’m also going to spend more time cooking my meals from scratch. My health depends on it!

This is not a sponsored review, just my honest opinion and the results of a 2-week trial of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, which has now become my food bible.

Thank you Jo for a great review, you’ve really inspired me to give the program a trial.














About the Author

Kathryn Danzey
I have a passion to bring to you what really works in the beauty industry, from a moisturiser to the latest advanced treatment for anti ageing. After almost 4 decades in the industry I'm packed with info to share but never tire of looking for new things and would love you to share your experiences with us too. We're here to help you find that treatment or product that will make a change for you. Can't do without My Collagen Shots and H3O Night Repair. Love a great serum and UV protection

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