What vegetarians need to eat each day…

Here is a summary of what we need to eat each day if we are vegetarian, from the Vegetarian Society.

  • 4-5 servings of fruit and vegetables
  • 3-4 servings of cereals/grains or potatoes
  • 2-3 servings of pulses, nuts and seeds
  • 2 servings of milk, cheese, eggs or soya products
  • A small amount of vegetable oil, margarine or butter
  • Some yeast extract that has been fortified with vitamin B12

It can be difficult to obtain the right amount of protein with a vegetarian diet, but these foods have high levels:

  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Peas, beans, lentils
  • Soya products and mycoproteins
  • Wheat protein (seitan)
  • Wholegrains (rice and cereals)

Top 5 sources of vegetarian protein

The NHS recommend that adults need around 50g of protein per day. Many people believe the myth that if you don’t eat meat you don’t get enough protein in your diet. But they would be wrong! A healthy balanced meat-free diet can provide us with more than enough.

Here are our top 5 vegetarian sources of protein…

  • Nut butters – There are so many varieties of nut butters on the market today and are a fantastic source of good fats and also packed full of protein. Two tablespoons of peanut butter can provide 8g of protein.
  • Quinoa – Try substituting your side of rice for a side of quinoa. One cup of this grain like seed (yes it’s actually a seed!) is quick and easy to cook and provides 8g of protein.
  • Chia Seeds – You can do so much with chia seeds! Add them to smoothies, soak in nut milk to make a delicious breakfast and add to energy balls! Just two tablespoons will give you 4g of protein.
  • Chickpeas – A great all round ingredient in curries, salads or made into delicious houmous. One cup of chickpeas can provide a massive 15g of protein!
  • Peas – Not only do they contain lots of vitamin C, they are packed with protein too! 1 cup of peas can provide 8g of protein so start getting inventive with peas by adding them to lots of recipes like vegetable bakes, soups and pasta dishes.

5 Nutrients you may be deficient in

You may have a balanced diet but with everyone being different we all have different nutritional needs. Here are 5 common nutrient deficiencies and what you need to eat to increase your intake.

Vitamin B12 – This nutrient is important for energy production and the normal function of the nervous system. Vegans and vegetarians may find themselves more likely to be deficient as main food sources providing the vitamin are fish, chicken, milk and yogurt. If you don’t eat these foods a supplement may be your best option otherwise foods fortified with vitamin B12 like plant milks, soy products and breakfast cereals.

Vitamin D – even throughout summer time vitamin D deficiency is common. We spend a lot of time indoors with work and then when we do get outside high factor sun creams can stop our skin from producing the vitamin. Vitamin D is vital for bone health and the normal function of the immune system but can be hard to obtain optimum levels when following a vegan diet as the main food sources are eggs and oily fish. Mushrooms can contain some vitamin D but a daily supplement may be needed to be confident you have enough in your body.

Magnesium – Lacking in magnesium can make us tired and can also affect the health of our teeth and bones. To make sure you have optimal levels try including more nuts such as almonds and cashews, green leafy vegetables and wholegrains such as brown rice in your diet.

Calcium – most people are aware that calcium is needed for healthy bones and teeth but it also contributes to normal muscle function and other functions within the body. Most people think of dairy products when thinking of calcium intake but other good food sources are dark, green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale as well as oranges.

Iron – feeling tired all the time, looking pale and thinning hair can all be signs of an iron deficiency. Good food sources are pulses and beans, eggs and green leafy vegetables such as kale and watercress.


Emily’s Celeriac Salad Recipe

Today, nutritionist Emily Blake BA (Hons) MA, has shared with us her favourite vegetarian recipe – Celeriac Salad. We were lucky enough to sample this recently and trust us, it’s delicious!

Celeriac Salad

Roasted Celeriac, Feta & Pomegranate Salad

(Gluten free/ Vegetarian/ Cow’s milk free/ Nut free)

Serves 4-5

Total preparation time = 20-30 minutes

Total cooking time = 50 minutes


For the roasted celeriac

  • 1 medium sized celeriac (650g)
  • 6 garlic cloves, skin on
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 level tbsp coconut oil
  • Pinch of good quality sea-salt (I like Maldon)
  • Grind of freshly cracked black pepper

For the base of the salad

  • 700g cooked chickpeas
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • 1 lemon
  • Seeds of 1 pomegranate

For the herb dressing

  • 75g pumpkin seeds
  • 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small bag fresh coriander (~30g)
  • 1 small bag fresh basil (~30g)
  • 1 small bag flat-leaf parsley (~30g)
  • ½ tsp sea-salt
  • 200ml extra virgin olive oil


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
  2. Peel celeriac, wash, quarter and thinly slice. Add to a mixing bowl.
  3. Gently melt the coconut oil in a saucepan on a low heat. Pour over the celeriac, add fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Gently press each garlic clove (x6), skin on, under the palm of your hand to slightly open it and allow the juices and aroma to seep out during cooking. Toss in with the celeriac and mix well by hand. The celeriac should feel well-coated with the coconut oil.
  4. Roast this seasoned celeriac in a baking tray. Cover with foil for 20 minutes to steam and sweeten. Then, discard the foil, gently shake the celeriac to ensure that it is not sticking to the tray, and continue to roast for 30 minutes until golden brown and tender. Allow to cool in the tray. Gently squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skins, discard the skins and add the gooey, delicious flesh to the celeriac.
  5. While the celeriac is cooking, make the herb dressing using a food processor. Add the pumpkin seeds and crushed garlic and blend until a fine ‘breadcrumb’ using the blade attachment. Wash and roughly chop the herbs (including the stalks). Add half to the food processor with half of the olive oil, and quickly blend (for under a minute) until smooth. Turn off, add the salt and remainder of the herbs and olive oil, and then quickly blend again until a smooth pesto-like consistency. Add an extra drizzle of olive oil if you feel that the sauce is slightly dry.
  6. To assemble the salad: in a large bowl, combine the cooked chickpeas, roasted celeriac and garlic, pomegranate seeds, crumbled feta and herb dressing. Just before serving, add the juice of a whole lemon, check that you are happy with the seasoning (add more salt, pepper and/ or lemon juice to your taste) and serve immediately.


Don’t Forget your Carbs

Carbs have come in for a bit of a bashing in the last few years, but as you may know, not all carbs are equal. Cakes, biscuits and some cereals might contain sugar and have low levels of fibre, but complex carbs – those are the ones that are largely unprocessed – tend to be rich in minerals, fibre and contain some protein too. Typified by wholegrains, complex carbohydrates definitely have a place in a healthy diet. Here are a few you might add to your menu;


Not technically a grain, amaranth is part of the Chenopodiaceae family which includes quinoa and beetroot and thus contains no gluten. It cooks like rice and can also be popped in oil like corn kernels. Unusually rich in magnesium, calcium and iron but also a good source of lysine, an amino acid most often found in animal protein so great for vegetarians and vegans.


Barley is especially rich in soluble and insoluble fibre, especially beta-glucan, which binds to cholesterol in the gut preventing it from being absorbed. Rich in selenium, B1 and magnesium, barley helps blood glucose management and so is ideal when combined with a little protein for reducing appetite and achieving consistent energy levels.


Despite the somewhat confusing name, buckwheat is a seed, not a grain and contains no wheat and thus no gluten either. Buckwheat is the richest food source of rutin, a flavonoid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential that is great for heart health.

Bulgur Wheat

Bulgur is a composite of groats, themselves the husks of several wholegrains. It’s richer in fibre than most other grains (18g per 100g) and also contains gluten so not for everyone.


Made from young green wheat, freekeh has a firm texture with a smoky dark flavour. As it is essentially wheat it contains gluten and so might be used in recipes if a stronger flavour is called for.


Millet is similar to wheat in most aspects except that it contains no gluten and is a decent source of magnesium and potassium.


The original superhero amongst grains, oats are a concentrated source of minerals and have a favourable balance of protein to carbohydrates. Oats contain beta-glucan that binds to cholesterol in the intestines preventing it from being absorbed into the blood. Oats are gluten free but do contain avenin, a first cousin of gluten but still suitable for coeliacs when processed in a wheat free environment.


Unlike most grains quinoa (technically a seed) is a worthy source of protein as it has the full complement of amino acids making it a rare grain-based complete protein. All grains contain flavonoids, but quinoa contains two – quercetin and kaempferol – that can discourage inflammation.


Rye is part of the wheat family and so contains gluten. It is a richer source of lignans than most other wholegrains, a substance that can lower the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women and cardiovascular disease in the general population.


From the same family group as wheat and rye, spelt offers a slightly different mix of proteins that makes it more suitable for people with a sensitivity to regular wheat although it does contain gluten.


This tiny North African grain has a gentle yet slightly sweet flavour and has a slightly higher concentration of minerals than most other wholegrains including vitamin C, which is rarely found in grains.

Wild rice

Harvested from a type of grass so not technically a grain, wild rice has twice as much protein as regular rice and offers a nutty flavour with a chewy texture.


Top Tips for Becoming and Staying Vegan

Here at Vertese®, we get to work with some great people. In today’s blog post, Katy from littlemissmeatfree shares her experience of embarking on a vegan diet. Her top 10 tips for becoming and staying vegan are below.

As a vegan food writer and cookery tutor, I’m often asked for ideas how to become (and stay) vegan. I’ve put together a list of ten helpful tips, exclusively for Vertese®:

  1. Try some varieties of non-dairy milk and find a few that you really enjoy. They range from almond to rice, soya to coconut, so there is something for every taste. Try non-dairy yoghurts and cheeses too, which are readily available in large supermarkets.
  2. If you feel the challenge of becoming fully vegan over night is too much, then try one meal at a time. Switch your usual lunch for an avocado, sesame and lime wrap and order a soya latte at the coffee shop.
  3. The internet is a great place to find vegan recipes. There is a strong vegan community on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where you can share recipe ideas, photos and chat all things vegan.
  4. Plan your supermarket shop to include lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Buy colourful ingredients that you are attracted to for delicious home-cooking and get creative in the kitchen!
  5. Become familiar with the names of animal-ingredients that may be in processed foods like biscuits and sweets, for example lactose and shellac. Some animal-ingredients are labelled as E-numbers too, like E120. If in doubt, Google it.
  6. Many restaurant chains have specific vegan menus, for example Carluccio’s and Pizza Express. Eating out as a vegan isn’t difficult; you can always call the restaurant in advance and ask them to prepare something that is vegan friendly.
  7. Get used to people asking you where you get protein from. It’s useful to be prepared for this by listing nuts, seeds, lentils, beans and soya products. Protein deficiency is a rare condition in the western world and a well planned vegan diet can easily contain the recommended amounts.
  8. There is no longer a ‘type’ of person who is a vegan. People become vegan for many reasons including animal welfare and ethics, environmental issues, to reduce food costs, for a healthier lifestyle and to enjoy a greater variety of food.
  9. Bake a vegan cake. You’ll be hooked.
  10. Ensure you are getting all the essential nutrients by taking a Vertese® Supplement. My favourite is Vertese® Beetroot, B12 and Iron Complex, which is perfect for busy people on the go!

Katy Beskow


Eat Your Heart Healthy

The nutritional advice covering how to maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system sits very well with both a vegan and vegetarian diet. But within the foods that we might be advised to eat, there are some that stand out as having really great benefits.

Spinach – Homocysteine is an amino acid produced naturally in the human body usually in response to eating protein. Raised levels are linked with narrowing of the arteries and thus increased blood pressure. Folate, found in spinach (and other dark green vegetables) can help reduce homocysteine levels.

Beetroot – research shows that drinking 250ml of beetroot juice daily supplies a healthy dose of nitrates that can help counteract hypertension. High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease as the increased speed of blood through a weakened artery can lead to aneurysm, or a bulge, in the aorta.

Kiwi fruit – Vitamin C is a major component of collagen and contributes to elasticity of the arteries combatting hardening. Kiwi, peppers, kale, sweet potato and citrus are all useful sources of vitamin C.

Garlic – Polysulfides, found in garlic, help increase flexibility of blood vessels, which can help guard against high blood pressure. Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and so can protect against atherosclerosis, a process in which fats build up in the arteries forming hard plaques.

Nuts – you may be surprised to know that cholesterol levels can be improved by eating 30g of nuts daily. The two main types of cholesterol are both required ideally in the right ratio. The low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, delivers cholesterol to where it is needed whilst another high density version (HDL) mops up the excess. Nuts contain a good balance of fibre and fats that help keep a favourable ratio. Almonds with their skin on are ideal as are hazelnuts, Brazil and walnuts.

Extra virgin olive oil – cholesterol is a fat and as such is more prone to being damaged by free radicals. Olive oil contains antioxidants in the form of vitamin E and phenolic acid that help protect the cholesterol.

Oats – a rich source of beta-glucan, a fibre that binds to cholesterol in the intestines and prevent reabsorption into the blood. Just 3g daily can reduce both total and LDL cholesterol by 5-10% and so one oatcake offers around 1g whilst a small bowl of porridge serves up well over the 3g daily dose.

Tomato puree – tomatoes contain lycopene, a carotenoid with antioxidant capabilities offering some protection to damaged arteries and may also inhibit inflammation of the arterial wall. Lycopene is more easily absorbed after heating and so ketchup or tomatopaste are useful additions to the diet.


Week One, Following a Vegan Diet

So, welcome to my week one update on my newly adopted vegan diet! I can’t believe I am actually doing it – I am so proud of myself!

EVERYONE seems to be shocked when I tell them I’m now vegan. Their reactions tend to be similar to The Scream painting, followed by mutterings of ‘is she really going to do the whole month?!’. Actually, I’m really finding it an absolute breeze so far.

First of all, let’s talk food. Everyone thinks vegans eat lettuce and only lettuce and are going to starve themselves. NOT TRUE. I may only be in week one, but I’ve got plenty of food to eat! As I eat fairly healthily anyway, my actual meals haven’t been much different to my norm – I’m just having slightly larger portion sizes to make up for the lack of a grilled chicken breast in my salad. Instead of reaching for the (more than) occasional chocolate bar, I’m reaching for an apple or some melon instead.

Here’s some meal suggestions that I’ve tried, tested and loved so far this week. Let me know if you would like me to post any full recipes, as these are all so quick and easy to make!


  • Porridge with soya milk
  • Fruit salad


  • Bagel with homemade guacamole
  • Bagel with jam and banana
  • Tomato and vegetable pasta


  • Rice noodle stir fry with broccoli, sweet corn, carrot, cucumber and spring onion with sweet chilli sauce
  • Quinoa salad with beetroot, sweetcorn, spinach and mixed beans

The lovely Samantha over at Vertese has also been giving me some super helpful tips. Did you know that cinnamon helps you stay fuller for longer?! I’m not a massive fan of cinnamon but I’ve been sprinkling it on my porridge as and when I can remember and it does seem to be doing the trick – I’m not hungry until about 4 hours after eating! Result! I’m going to experiment more with cinnamon over the next few weeks, I’ll keep you guys in the loop!

There is a massive preconception that being vegan or eating healthily is expensive. Let’s just get to the truth here – IT’S NOT! My normal weekly shop comes to around £35 for two people, plus a few lunches. My weekly shop this week cost £40… that is only £5 difference! AND we’re actually making more packed lunches, so in the long run it is probably cheaper! Eating healthily for cheap can be done. We had our shop delivered from ASDA, but I might try out some other supermarkets to see how they differ.

So, now I’ve actually gone vegan, has it been worth it so far? I’ve been keeping a little food and mood diary to track my eating habits and see how this affects my body and wellbeing. So far, I’ve not really had anything negative to put! One massive change is that I don’t feel bloated and stuffed anymore. I had a really bad habit before of over eating, whereas now, even if I eat a slightly larger meal for dinner, it isn’t sitting on my stomach for hours after. My stomach looks a little flatter for this too, result! I’m not really noticing any changes in my energy levels yet, or any other physical changes, but I’m sure this is something that will probably take a little longer to kick in.

If you’re thinking of adopting a vegan lifestyle too, here are some tips that I hope will help you:

  • Just take the plunge and do it! For me, taking the leap to say ‘I’m going to commit to being vegan’ was actually the toughest part!
  • Don’t starve yourself of ‘cheat days’ – by this, I mean that there are plenty of foods to indulge in that are vegan friendly. It’s okay to enjoy a packet of crisps as part of a healthy, balanced diet – treat yourself with a weekend off! (Walkers Ready Salted & Salt and Vinegar are vegan friendly!)
  • Soya milk – ok not really a tip, but try it. I think it makes my porridge taste nicer!
  • Have some support – my boyfriend has been a star and has gone vegan too, to support me. It’s really helped and has completely removed any temptation. If you don’t have anyone willing to commit with you, maybe suggest to your parents or partner that you have a family vegan meal once a week? If not, even just moral support can be helpful. Tell your colleagues, get their backing (after all, you don’t want them accidentally putting cow’s milk in your coffee!)

Remember you can follow my journey with me across Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #VeganJodetopia – come and say hi! I’m sharing photos of my meals and all my highs and lows from this new lifestyle!

I’m so excited for what the rest of the month holds!

Jodie x


Useful Tips for Following a Sugar Free Diet

We all know we should be aware of how much sugar we eat, but if you are someone who has a sweet tooth you’ll know that cutting down on sugar isn’t always simple. Here are some simple pointers to help you on your way to following a sugar free diet, or at least reducing how much sugar you eat.

Check labels

If you have a bigger theme for your eating plan, such as following a vegetarian or vegan diet, or perhaps you are gluten free, then that will obviously be your main focus. It’s easy to overlook other elements in favour of maintaining the bigger picture so start to check labels and look for sugar in the list of ingredients. You may see it listed as glucose, sucrose, cane sugar, molasses, fructose – anything with an ‘ose’ at the end is a sugar.

The higher up the list an ingredient appears the more of it there is, so if there are any sugars listed amongst the ingredients, then they really should be towards the very end.

Origins don’t matter

Organic, fair trade, natural, farm fresh – all nice to have but if its sugar you want to avoid then where it comes from doesn’t make a difference in this situation. If the sugar in the recipe is organic or fair trade then it will still behave exactly the same way in the body as the cheapest refined white sugar.

What else is in it?

You might read that some sources of sweetness are great sources of this or that, which sounds alluring and makes them far more appealing. For example, both black strap molasses and palmyra jaggery (palm sugar) are often touted as being rich in minerals. Whilst this is true one doesn’t need or use very much of either to get sweetness and so mineral content is irrelevant. There are far more minerals in vegetables and nuts, so don’t be fooled into thinking you are helping your nutrient status by having something sugary.

What about honey?

There is a lot of talk about honey being natural, but when you think about it so are many sugars – they come from a field after all! People often say that honey is antibacterial and antiviral but in truth that is applicable if the honey is applied to burns and its contribution to gut bacteria is minimal because we don’t consume it in meaningful quantities. If you are looking to reduce or cut out sugar then be mindful of how much honey you have, it still counts, and has as much fructose (fruit sugar) in it as high-fructose corn syrup, the type that is commonly used to sweeten fizzy drinks in the US.

Is there anything I can eat to help cut sugar cravings?

We tend to crave carbohydrates such as sugar when levels of glucose in our blood are low. Glucose is created from the food groups, but it’s carbohydrates that are broken down to release their glucose most rapidly. Protein is slow to break down, as is fat, so eating small meals combining a little protein, fat and complex fibrous carbohydrates every time creates an even feed of glucose – a drip drip if you like. The result is reduced appetite and fewer sugar cravings.

Are there any supplements that can help sugar cravings?

Chromium, a trace mineral, is found in a few foods including broccoli, lettuce and oats and can help encourage the cells to absorb glucose more readily meaning that it helps us manage the glucose levels in the blood. In turn this might reduce sugar cravings, but eating small meals at regular intervals each with fibre, protein and a little fat helps too. Chromium is also found in the Vertese Multivitamin and Mineral, especially formulated for vegan and vegetarian diets.


Following a gluten free diet

Did you know that whilst 1% of the population has gluten intolerance, or coeliac disease, some 19% of the population believe that they have a problem with gluten and follow, to some extent or another, a gluten free diet?

Rather than pass comment on whether someone is or isn’t really gluten intolerant, let’s look more closely at what gluten is and how it can affect us.

What is gluten?

Gluten is made from gliadin and glutenin, both proteins which, when combined, create a gooey bond that gives baked goods flexibility, volume and texture. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye and whilst it used to be thought that oats were also a potential source, they contain a protein, which is, if you like, a second cousin once removed of gluten and so tolerated by many people who are gluten-intolerant.

What does it do?

For people living with coeliac disease, gluten causes the villi in the intestines to atrophy, or flatten, which vastly reduces the surface area available for nutrient absorption. Thus a coeliac eating gluten can experience nutrient deficiency which can present in a great number of ways ranging from failure to thrive in children to urgent diarrhea, dry skin, depression and severe discomfort in both adults and children alike.

Can gluten intolerance be tested for?

Yes but ideally you’d have to be eating gluten for a test to be effective. Genetics plays a role in coeliac disease and any predisposition can be tested for as specific genes are found in over 97% of adults with coeliac disease but only 40% of the general population. Additionally blood tests can identify the presence of two types of antibodies produced when the ceoliac is eating gluten.

By the way, the tests one sees advertised online or in health food shops are not usually the same type and look for different antibodies. If these are raised then the assumption is made that the individual is gluten intolerant, a controversial conclusion that is not accepted in the mainstream.

Does it matter if a coeliac has gluten?

Yes, it does matter. They can have unpleasant and immediate physical reactions, but even if they don’t, which is possible, the villi in the intestines will be flattened with continued exposure which will reduce nutrient absorption leading to deficiency problems in the longer term which can be cumulative and more subtle.

For a non-coeliac who has gluten it is hard to say if it matters, as their reasons for avoiding gluten might be non-specific.

Are gluten free foods always healthier than the regular versions?

No, although it could be said that marking a food as ‘gluten-free’ has started to become synonymous with ‘good for you’. Yet taking the gluten out of a familiar food means replacing it with other elements to replicate the familiar texture and feel. Higher levels of fats and sugars are not uncommon which may be a fair price to pay for a ceoliac but isn’t what the other consumers had in mind when they thought they were making a healthier choice.

I feel better when I cut gluten out of my diet, does that mean I am gluten intolerant?

It doesn’t, no, simply because you might be making better food choices as you’ve imposed boundaries on your usual diet. For example, you might not be having biscuits or sandwiches during the day, instead taking lunch from home. Bear in mind that for the GP to successfully test you for gluten intolerance you’d have to be eating gluten, which is a conundrum.

Of course the decision to avoid a food is yours but if you choose to follow a gluten free diet be sure to do your research first, so you can understand the full impact to your health.

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