What’s left in the cupboard after Below the Line

In terms of surviving I did fine on this challenge. I have hayfever or some kind of seasonal blossom allergy which is lessening my appetite anyway, which I guess was a kind of silver lining last week! Even so, I got quite sick of some of the things I had chosen – it’s going to be a good long while before I can face a pickled onion again, although if I was having to eat on less than £1 a day long-term they are definitely a valuable flavour addition (just not for nearly every meal!).

Here’s the list of items left at the end of 5 days:

  • approx 30g tomato purée
  • 20 teabags
  • approx 125g mustard (about 2/3 of the jar)
  • approx 200g pickled onions & pickling liquid (just under 1/2 of the jar)
  • 230g cornflakes
  • 810g flour*
  • 250g carrots*
  • Maybe 70g peanut butter (about 1/5 of the jar)
  • 378g red cabbage (plus about 1/2 a tupperware container of slaw leftover, and maybe 200g of the stuff I cooked)
  • The vast majority of the salt!

* 330g of the flour is in the freezer, along with about 250g of the carrots, which made spectacularly brick-like carrot bread. I had been planning to take this bread on my journey but it was too heavy and unpalatable, so I will defrost it some time to use as something like beanburger bulk filler.

There are no potatoes or split peas left. Unfortunately I did not consume all of the split peas, I had an accident where I dropped one of the containers and at least half of the cooked peas spilt over the cooker and the floor and I didn’t feel they could all be saved (although I did rescue and wash off what I could of the ones that fell on the counter-top).

This means over the course of 5 days I’ve consumed

  •  690g flour (2450cal, about 65-70g protein, some calcium, iron, niacin and thiamin)
  • 1500g potatoes (1155cal, 30g protein, some vitamin c, iron, b6 and magnesium)
  • about 280g peanut butter, 290 minus 10 for what’s left of the slaw (1898cal, 73.9g protein)
  • 270g cornflakes (1007cal, 20.25g protein, an average of 45% rda per day of vits B1, B2, niacin, B6, folic acid, b12 and pantothenic acid, and 30% rda of iron)
  • about 220g carrots, 250 minus 30 for what’s left of the slaw (90cal, 2g protein, beta carotene to make vitamin A – sources vary really widely in their estimates, I’m going to guess I averaged 50% of the rda, but that’s a very very rough estimate)
  • 542g red cabbage, 892 minus 150 for what’s left of the slaw and about 200 left of cooked cabbage (168cal, 7.6g protein, about 100% average daily vitamin c rda)
  • Approx 500g cooked split peas (590cal, 40g protein, 22mg iron)
  • And a few odd calories and nutrients from the onions, mustard and the greens I foraged.

Calorie total for 5 days is approx 7358, which divides to 1471 per day. I lead a fairly sedentary life although I do a reasonable amount of walking, and I’m not tall. To maintain my weight I probably would have needed to eat about 200-250 calories more per day. I certainly could have done this if I hadn’t been scared of running out of the peanut butter and rationed it more carefully than needed, or if I’d managed to eat more cornflakes.

Protein total for 5 days is approx 223.25g, which divides to 44.65g per day. That’s a bit low, I would have been okay if I hadn’t dropped the split peas, or been miserly with the peanut butter.

I hadn’t expected to hit the targets for everything, I don’t think I did, and that’s fine for this length of time. If I had been doing this for 10 days, or had combined with someone else so there was £10 to spend for 30 meals rather than £5 for 15 the whole thing would have been a great deal easier and more palatable, but doing it this way has made me even more grateful than usual that I don’t live in a food desert!

Once again, I should stress that I am exceptionally lucky to live in a big city, within walking distance of several large supermarkets with ‘value’ ranges of foods, and who need to price their other items competitively. I have easy access to the internet so I could price-check most of the items I was interested in online (the only one I had to visit in person to view the prices was Aldi). I’ve been looking at the World Bank’s report on extreme poverty and realised anew that I can’t begin to conceive of the kind of life that people living on less (sometimes much less) than £1 a day are having to put up with. Many of the countries with large percentages of their population living at this level have average life-expectancies of 50 or less. The percentage of people with access to the internet, television or even radio is far far less than in my country. I feel helpless when I see how vast the situation is, and yet according to that report there are less people in what they class as absolute poverty than there were 30 years ago.

I don’t know what the solution is, at all. I really wish I did. I hope that donating to poverty-alleviating charities does reach the intended targets in a timely fashion, and I will continue to save where I can so that I can donate what I can, and hope others will do the same. It’s also worth considering what volunteering work could be done, either in charity shops for organisations providing aid, or in food banks to help communities who are struggling closer to home – if we can lift our own societies out of relative poverty the government will have even less excuse to reduce aid they provide to those in countries who need it most. And if you’ve read this far and have any pet schemes for helping to raise people out of poverty, please let me know in the comments section!

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Prep for next week, part 3 – peanutty red cabbage slaw (recipe)

I thought it’d be a good idea to prep a lot of my food, so it’s ready to portion out as needed over the week.

I’m going to cook all of the split peas in one go after soaking them (which is happening right now), then turn half of them into soup (with tomato purée and carrots) and the other half into a hummus-type dip flavoured with mustard and pickled onion. The packets always say “no need to soak” or something similar, but then tell you they’ll take 45 minutes to cook. Well, they won’t take that long if they’re soaked, so you don’t have to steam your windows up as much or spend so much money on fuel if you can just spare a few hours to soak the dried peas in some water. I’m also going to combine soaking with my other favourite way of saving money, which is to bring them to the boil for a few minutes and then turn the heat off and leave them to finish cooking with a lid on in the residual heat. Works like a charm!

I’ve already trialled the following coleslaw recipe a couple of weeks back, except I used spirit vinegar because I’d not yet bought the pickled onions. I’m tempted to chop some onions into the slaw as well, but I might see how many I need to use elsewhere before I do that, as I don’t want to run out of one of my few strongly-flavoured ingredients.

Red cabbage slaw with peanut-butter mustard dressing:

550g grated red cabbage(19.5p)

150g grated carrot (8.1p)

2 Tablespoons (60g) chunky peanut butter (10.9p)

1 Tablespoon (15g) everyday value mustard (2p)

2 Tablespoons pickling liquid from a jar of pickled onions (2p)

1 Tablespoon water.

Method:

Put the cabbage and carrot into a storage container, mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl then add to the veg and mix well. You could add another spoonful of water to the dressing bowl and use that to eke out the remains of the dressing and pour that over as well, as it’s quite thick and difficult to scrape out. Store in fridge. Leave flavours to meld for at least an hour before tasting for seasoning. Add more mustard/vinegar or a dash of salt if needed.

This is going to give me 5 servings of approximately 140g at a cost of 8.5p each, and it’ll go a long way to covering my vitamin C and A needs (I would say it’ll cover them entirely, but I’m not sure how much loss will occur over the days it’ll sit in the fridge).

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Prep for next week, part 1

I’ve already got my dry goods ready to go, and I’m just about to take a trip to Aldi for the fresh veg. I’m not a regular Aldi customer as it’s not within my usual walking area so I was a bit dismayed to read on someone else’s blog that the 39p potatoes I was hoping to buy there were part of a special offer which ended last week.

I have £2.09 left to spend, and I was aiming for a red cabbage (45p), carrots (49p) and potatoes (which I thought were going to be 39p) which would have left me with 74p for a jar of cooking sauce/tomato puree and a bulb of garlic, or some jam, or a litre of soya milk – I hadn’t quite decided yet. If I just buy cabbage and carrot that leaves me with £1.15. I could either just buy a couple of loose potatoes, or I could spend the whole lot on a big bag of potatoes, or 65p on a bag of frozen basics chips from Sainsbury’s leaving me 50p for more flavouring options. Ack, I dunno! Maybe I’ll just leave the potatoes altogether for now and see how I get on! Might be good to have some spare pennies.

I really dithered about whether to set up a fundraising page for the challenge next week or not. In the end I decided it couldn’t hurt to make a quick way for people to donate if they felt like it, so here’s a page for Unicef, partly because they say they’re already in place to help those affected by the dreadful earthquake which has just happened in Nepal. https://www.justgiving.com/dropsconelbl15

I’m also open to suggestions for other charities, preferably those that are already linked up on JustGiving or another site which offers mobile phone text message donating, because donating by text seems not to incur an admin fee so 100% of the donation goes to the charity.


It’s the final Monday (doo-doo-DOO-do….)

So, it’s the last Monday of Vegan MoFo, and with this post I’ve met my goal of a blog post a day. Some have been a bit of a fudge (mmm, fudge), but I’m pleased with some of the stuff I’ve come up with. Can’t lie that some of the ideas I had for themes made me panic a bit and start inventing stuff I wouldn’t cook for myself in the normal way, particularly the amount of pies and scones, however there is some baking I do genuinely do on a regular basis, and that’s bread.

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I generally do half white and half wholemeal organic flour because I like the compromise between rise and nutrition this offers.

I weigh out what my scales tell me is 1lb flour, but judging how much more than half a pint of water I have to add (which is what my original recipe told me to add), my scales must be pretty out. I think I’m going to treat myself to some new ones with this month’s pay packet!

I divide my dough in half, then those in half, and then in half again, to get 8 pieces. What I generally do is make a tray of 6 quite flat bread rolls, which are useful for sandwiches. If I’m not going to get through the whole lot, I like to cut them in half and freeze them. Because I’ve made them flat each half can then fit straight from the freezer into my toaster.

unbaked bread rolls on baking try, held in left hand (only thumb visible)

With the remaining 2 bits of dough, I vary it according to what I fancy at the time, and if I have anything hanging around that needs using up. Sometimes I might make a spice bread, but I’ve plenty of that at the moment, or I occasionally divide those lumps in half again and make 4 pasty/calzone type things, but today I’m going for pizza-ish.

What I tend to do is slice up an onion with whatever else I’ve got around (sometimes just frozen sweetcorn), put a bit of Marigold bouillon powder and smoked paprika, and a slosh of oil in and mix it up in the same bowl I made the dough in.

chopped onion, mushrooms and tomatoes in dirty mixing bowl with small amount of smoked paprika and bouillon powder

The pizza bases are a bit of an odd shape so I can fit them on my baking sheet. And the reason I don’t just do one is because I’d be tempted to eat it all, whereas two means I can have one for lunch and one for another time.

oblong pizza bases topped with onion, mushroom and tomato

I also made hummus today, another regular staple. I buy giant 5kg bags of dried chickpeas, cook up about a kilo at a time and then freeze most of them in handy sized boxes.

Hummus in blender container with mixing spoon, viewed from above

Although the Vitamix is super for making things smooth in super-quick time, I do find it difficult to get the final scrapes of anything thick. Hating to waste things, I tend to plan stuff like this to co-incide with something like soup or stew where I can then add some water and add the watered down last bits of mixture to something else.   This time, instead I added fresh rosemary, dried oregano and some flaked almonds to make a sauce for my pizza. This sauce is nothing like cheese but it fulfils the same sort of function in terms of protein and holding the veg together.

two uncooked oblong pizzas on baking tray

And here’s my lunch!

cooked pizza shown from above on white plate, placed on floral background

If you’ve got this far, thanks for bearing with my rather boring final day’s post.

I’d also like to thank the Vegan MoFo team for their hard work, and say that I’m looking forward to next year already. Now I know how much work it is I’m going to start planning!

Blogging regularly has been a great challenge and I’d like to keep it up, so I’m going to start a new challenge for October. Watch this space…