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Lucy Watson’s Vegan Diet Diary

Inspire yourself with this delicious vegan meal plan, perfect for a busy day!

Lucy Watson’s Vegan Diet Diary
As a vegan, my diet is so important to me. I made the switch for ethical reasons a few years ago and I've never looked back! I now have much more energy, my nails are stronger and I feel the healthiest I've ever been.

My meals are packed with a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts – all of which I love. Being vegan is not as restrictive as people think; I eat a really wide variety of foods, including some of the UK’s favourite dishes made from plant-based recipes. To give you a better idea, here's an example of my diet for a typical day. See if you’d give it a go!

Breakfast
I usually kick off my day with a delicious bowl of W. K Kellogg cereal, switching up the flavour depending on my mood. The brand's new cereal range is plant-based and consists of a lovely blend of grains with oats, barley, spelt and rye with no added sugar – it's perfect for a quick breakfast fix. I love to see lots of colours on my plate, so I top my bowl with fresh fruit and coconut pieces. I often wash this down with a cup of green tea with added lemon juice and infused ginger to boost my immune system.

Lunch
At this part of the day, I tend to opt for vegetable-based soups, as they're not too heavy. My favourite is butternut squash soup with fresh black cracked pepper. If I'm really hungry, I will also have some seeded wholemeal bread. If I feel like treating myself to dessert, I love an avocado-based chocolate mousse topped with ganache and caramel, or a cashew-based vegan slice of ‘cheesecake’.

Afternoon snacks
Banana and dark chocolate roasted almond butter on toast has to be one of my go-to afternoon snacks. That, or a slice of avocado on toast with a drizzle of sesame oil, topped with pumpkin seeds. Delicious!

Dinner
I don't stick to normal mealtimes. Being so busy, I think it's important to listen to what my body is telling me. So, sometimes I eat dinner late in the evening if that’s when I'm hungry. One of my favourite recipes is my Mushroomy Mac and Cheese, which you can see below. The plant-based béchamel sauce is made from a mix of delicious vegan Parmesan-style cheese, vegan Cheddar-style cheese, nutmeg, nutritional yeast, flour, dairy-free butter and almond milk. After I've prepared the sauce, I simply add chestnuts, wild mushrooms, garlic, and thyme leaves to wholewheat macaroni pasta – and it’s done! Just because you go vegan doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself.

MUSHROOMY MAC AND CHEESE
Serves 6
Ready in 1 hour

500g dried macaroni
40g dried wild mushrooms
2 tbsp vegan butter
250g chestnut mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp thyme leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the béchamel sauce:
50g vegan butter
3 tbsp plain flour
800ml almond milk
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
200g vegan Cheddar-style cheese, grated
50g vegan Parmesan-style cheese, finely grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:
40g vegan Parmesan-style cheese, grated
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Cook the macaroni in boiling, salted water according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain in a colander and refresh under cold water until cooled.
2 Put the dried mushrooms in a small heatproof bowl. Pour 150ml boiling water over them and leave to rehydrate for 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid for the béchamel sauce. Roughly chop the mushrooms.
3 Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. When hot, add the wild mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Cook for 5-8 minutes until the mushrooms have browned well. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.
4 To make the béchamel sauce, put a large saucepan over a medium heat, then add the butter and stir until melted. Add the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in the milk, and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, then lower the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until the cheese has completely melted.
5 Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and macaroni to the saucepan with the sauce and stir well until everything is evenly coated. Transfer to a deep 25cm x 30cm ovenproof dish.
6 Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the macaroni. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and crunchy.

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