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Celebrity Health - Roz Purcell

Fuss-free vegan

Former model Roz Purcell has won Celebrity Come Dine With Me, made a guest chef appearance on TV3's The Restaurant, and a stint as a Celebrity Bainisteoir on RTÉ. She began blogging at naturalbornfeeder.com/ in 2013 to document her love of cooking and to share her recipes. Originally from a farming family in Co. Tipperary, she now lives in Dublin. She recently set up hiking organisation Hike Life Community. Her new book No Fuss Vegan is published by Penguin Ireland.

Photos courtesy of Joanne Murphy

Tell us what you have been up to Roz

Over the past two years I have preferred to eat plant-based foods. It has been a natural move for me and not a sudden decision. I just didn't enjoy eating meat any more. My first two books, Natural Born Feeder and Half Hour Hero, promoted all the food groups with an emphasis on wholefoods, and with my new book No Fuss Vegan I wanted to do something different. This one is for busy people who want to eat more vegetables. It's suitable for vegans or anyone who wants to cut down on meat and dairy. My books and blog tend to mirror how I eat myself. Over the past two years people following my blog and in my online community on social media have been asking me for vegetable dishes and a vegan book.

I think vegetables can be left at the wayside and just boiled to eat with meat or fish. Vegetables are not a lot more effort to cook. They are cheap and available. Once you make a few vegetable recipes it becomes second nature. We have a great wealth of vegetable producers in Ireland.

At home I cook vegan all the time, but I don't like to label myself. It's important not to feel bad about eating things and I don't torture myself if I eat something I am offered and it is not vegan. If I miss eating a food as a vegan then I just eat it, so it's not an issue, so I might have a bit of milk chocolate. I just feel that a restricted diet is not a lifestyle.

Who do you cook for?

I live with my boyfriend so I mostly cook for him. But I like to cook for my family when I go home. I don't see my parents and sisters that much so I like to make an effort when I cook for them.

I love making traditional recipes with a vegan twist. I have tested all 100 of the recipes in the book on my family. I spent two years developing the recipes for this book and my dad was a great guinea pig as he was becoming a vegan. The main rule of cooking is that whether it is vegan or not, it still has to taste great.

What about dairy?

I don't really like the taste of milk and was never mad into dairy – I don't miss cheese for example, but my book includes alternatives for cream cheese, mascarpone, ricotta and bechamel sauce as many readers enjoy these.

When making a white sauce to go over cauliflower I use nutritional yeast which gives it a really cheesy flavour. I love almond and coconut yogurts – they taste delicious. I always took oat milk in my tea and used it as a dairy alternative. Health stores are packed with dairy alternatives.

Do you take supplements?

It's important to think about what you may need to replace. I always took iron, even before I stopped eating animal products. I also take vitamin B12. I get my bloods checked twice a year to make sure I am not missing anything else. It's a good idea to consider supplements if you are cutting out something you previously included in your diet.

Do you enjoy exercise?

I absolutely love training and really enjoy it. Going to the gym is ‘me' time. I used to do it because I had to and considered it a punishment, but now I do it to feel good. Training is a huge part of my life and sets me up for the day. I would go to the gym nearly every day – it makes me feel great and strong.

I set up Hike Life Community because I love getting outdoors and hiking – it started by me asking people to hike with me, and now we have qualified guides. Hikers have to register to keep the numbers to a certain number then make a donation to charity. We would have beginners who might do a 6K mountain hike over 2 hours, intermediates who hike for 8 hours and advanced hikes too.

Any favourite recipes and meals?

After the gym I like to eat porridge or tofu scramble on sourdough and vegan black pudding. For mains I like mushroom and black bean chilli and no fuss dhal. For dessert I love vegan carrot cake. My favourite recipe is shortbread biscuits (made using oats, coconut oil, maple syrup and ground almonds) – I have a sweet tooth.

Do you have any tips for Rude Health readers?

If you want to make a good lifestyle choice – spend more time offline and less time on your phone or computer. Try to put as much effort into your offline life as your online life. For 2020 I think we should all be able to disconnect, even though this is hard to do.

                                         

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