Time for a Nooch Quest

Over the last few weeks I’ve been a bit fainty – it’s fairly standard for me, but obviously it’s not ideal in a midwife so I need to get it sorted out. To that end, I’ve upped my water intake, made several appointments at the GP surgery and had another think about my diet.

A must for all vegans!

A must for all vegans!

Today, I got my blood test results over the phone through a chat with my doctor (a marvellous idea, much less wasted time for both of us!). He alarmed me greatly by telling me that my iron levels were very low; considering that they were at 12.8 two weeks ago, the news that they were now under 6 seemed very bizarre. Eventually it was clarified that he was talking about ferritin, the long-term iron store which is usually fairly low in vegetarians and vegans and has always been an issue for me, and I was talking about haemoglobin, the day to day levels that I maintain fairly well (the tests gave a figure of 11.something, which isn’t too bad but lower than usual for me).

I’m not too worried about ferritin, although I will try the supplements he’s offered to prescribe in case that affects the fainting, because all I’ve read suggests that it’s less critical than haemoglobin for health and there’s no strong evidence that a large store is actually beneficial. I was, however, more concerned but still unsurprised by the fact that my vitamin B12 levels were slightly under. My only sources of B12 are my soya milk, and nutritional yeast (nooch) which I normally forget to add to things!

So today, for my weekly battery-recharging day of cooking, I am focusing my attention on things which use the magic powder. I only need about 2g of the stuff each day to meet the recommended allowance, so it shouldn’t be too hard to manage. However, the reality is that I don’t really like the taste of nutritional yeast. Maybe I’m not really an umami person – I’ve never eaten meat, so I’m not looking for a replacement for that meaty flavour in my diet. And let’s be honest, it doesn’t really taste like cheese. But I’ve found that I quite like it sprinkled on top of garlic-fried vegetables, my go-to fast pasta topping, and it’s actually pretty nice when cooked!

Recipe one was a simple cheese sauce which I’ll probably use for pasta, maybe even macaroni cheese. It’s so easy to make, and even without the onion powder and mustard (two things I keep meaning to buy but never seem to have on hand) it’s very tasty. In fact I keep finding myself eating spoonfuls of it as it cools on the countertop! Definitely a good way to get some of that pesky vitamin into my diet.

Recipe two had two things to recommend it: not only does it use nutritional yeast, it also was a very easy way to use up the cauliflower that has been sitting in my fridge for weeks in one of the marvellous Lakeland green bags. I didn’t bother roasting any garlic, it seemed wasteful to turn the oven on for two small cloves, but the end result is completely amazing – surprisingly so for someone who doesn’t particularly like either cauliflower or nutritional yeast. Or maybe I just never tried them in the right way before?

I’m Going on a Protein Quest!

As many of you will know, the last couple of months have involved big changes for me. I started running regularly, training for a half marathon next month, and also became vegan. I moved into my own flat with my own kitchen at last and have been trying out lots of new recipes and generally aiming to be healthier overall.

I’ve also been pretty tired all the time, depsite getting an average of nine hours sleep a night and not doing anything like as much as I used to. For a while I put it down to bad sleeping habits (staying up late and then sleeping in) or simply burnout after my busy and intensive final year at university, but then a friend mentioned something about ensuring I was getting enough protein to build muscle for running and a lightbulb went off in my head. Continue reading