Now, before you make the joke that vegans only eat grass and salads, I'm going to have to stop you. I for one, have always professed to be a carb queen and the idea of facing cold leaves, especially bitter, disappointing and vile rocket (Yeah, I hate rocket. Can you tell?) at the end of a hard day makes me want to cry. But recently, it's becoming more and more apparent that the concept of 'salad' isn't a one size fits all. With an abundance of vegetables, grains, sauces and toppers, there's no excuse not to find something that works for you.

On the subject of things that are currently working for me, Squeaky Bean is one of them. They are a newly launched food brand, selling meat alternatives (and pancakes funnily enough) which boast high protein and low saturated fat. If you follow me on Instagram @colettegeorgefitness, most weeks I'll post stories of my lunch, brunch or dinner containing some of their chicken-style pieces. I love the versatility of the products and how easy it can be to bump up my daily protein intake. 100g of their Tikka marinated pieces contain 22g of protein and at 192 calories, it's a real staple for me.

I've been using the pieces recently with the salads I've been taking to work and I've found a combination of carb, fat and protein-filled ingredients that keep me full, energised and always looking forward to lunch. I've detailed my meal prep below for those of you that are inspired to use Squeaky Bean products for yourself or are looking for some salad inspo! I usually get about 4/5 servings in total, depending on how hungry I am.

I've deconstructed it for the purpose of the photo, but on a weekday you can find all these ingredients in the same Tupperware container...

Lentil, Sun-Dried Tomato and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients used:

1 container of Squeaky Bean Tikka Style Pieces

1 small gem lettuce, chopped

1/2 of a large cucumber, diced

4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/3 of a can of green lentils

1/2 of a lemon, juiced

1 capful of cider vinegar

60g Cooked Quinoa

There is no method -I just chuck all the ingredients together in a big bowl/container and take a portion out as and when I need it. I like to keep my salads nice and simple, but you can add further seasonings/toppings e.g sauerkraut to your specific taste. This is a useful trick if you're short on time/effort/sleep.

What are your salad must haves?

Colette x

*All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Colette here!

Last weekend, the boyfriend and I took a super sneaky day trip to Brussels, Belgium. What started as an off the cuff decision to make use of the Eurostar, soon turned into a frenzied 6am wake up and me taking every opportunity I could, to use my GCSE French. Excusez-moi, Je peux des frites s'il vous plaît?... And then promptly being responded to in English...

Language differences aside, we had a great time exploring the city, deciding how much chocolate we should spend our Euros on and trying not to get run over by the remake of Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift that was happening before us in the streets. We couldn't have gone to Brussels however, and not tried the food associated with this Belgian city. Think waffles, frites (chips) and copious amounts of chocolate. Being in an 'Intermeatial Relationship', (a term coined by my omnivorous and open-minded bf), we used trusty Google and the Happy Cow app to locate all the places where there were options for us both to eat.

First up, we went to The Judgy Vegan which was a lovely cafe tucked away on a side street near Palais de Justice. The atmosphere was lovely, relaxed and they had an extensive menu covering everything from pancakes to risotto and a long hot and cold drinks menu too. We decided on two burgers which came with a side of salad and traditional frites. Both packed full of protein, my burger contained lightly spiced tofu fillets, vegan cheese and crispy and crunchy lettuce. The bf had a mixed bean burger containing lots of kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas which were formed into a tasty patty. His burger was also topped with vegan cheese, tomato, lettuce and vegan mayo.

We halved our burgers each so we could taste what the other had ordered. My tofu was really well spiced, and among some of the best i've tasted. His burger was well flavoured and juicy - filling but not dry. We were both pretty content by the time we had finished eating and felt it was the perfect fuel for the day ahead.

After channelling our inner tourist at the Manneken Pis, we decided to explore another Belgian treat in the form of waffles. Waffles traditionally use a batter containing eggs and that's something I omit under a vegan diet. There are many egg substitutes that people can use in cooking, like chia seeds, flax seeds, apple sauce or even aquafaba (the liquid you drain from a can of chickpeas). Luckily we found a place that did just this, specialising in egg free waffles called Veganwaf.

We bought 2; one with Maple syrup and one with vegan Chantilly cream and chocolate sauce. They were delicious and fluffy, whilst not being too sickly sweet.

Our last major stop on our food tour was getting a Belgian chocolate experience before our journey home. We visited the Laurent Gerbaud Chocolatier for 2 hot chocolates. I had mine made with almond milk and was pleasantly surprised to see the availability of other plant-based milks on the menu. We were surprised with 2 free chocolates alongside as well; I chose ginger which didn't disappoint and he had the speculoos, which is similar in flavour to a Lotus brand biscuit.

We eventually mooched back to the Midi Bruxelles, final portions of frites in hand, reflecting on the day. It was a funny reminder that if you ever manage to end up hungry in Brussels, the frites are always a strong vegan staple! Going abroad while (and with a) vegan didn't prove to be too much hassle at all. With Google, the Happy Cow app and sense to ask if we were unsure, we came back with full bellies and memories to last a lifetime. Protein focused or not, eating plant-based abroad in Belgium was a doddle.

Which countries have you found it easiest to eat a vegan diet in? Where are your recommendations for great food abroad?

Colette x

*This is not a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Updated: Feb 15, 2020

Colette here.

For those who don't know me, I'm a freelance Personal Trainer, a massive potato fiend and a plant-based babe. I'm going into my 9th year of omitting meat and fish from my food choices and my 3rd since completely removing all animal products from my diet, lifestyle and beginning life as a #veganqueen.

In my almost decade of chickpea curries and Linda McCartney sausages, I've encountered so many questions and statements surrounding my food choices. From 'I have to eat meat to feel full' to 'Don't you miss chicken?' or the infamous, 'But, bacon though?'. However, more recently as a PT, the most common has been 'Where do you get your protein from?'.

Now, obviously the general public’s concern surrounding my specific protein intake is unbelievably heart-warming – and I'm sure they're just as concerned with the intake of everyone else around them too… But, as my PT business has grown and I’ve trained people with all sorts of dietary restrictions, I've come to realise that not many people seem to know where they get their own protein from, much less mine.

This blog isn't here to lecture or discuss all the things that people don't know - it will be the complete opposite in fact. I hope that it can become a useful tool in helping diversify those mid-week meals, date night ideas and even pesky Sunday evening meal prep. I’ll also be providing a personal insight into my own diet and lifestyle as a plant-based fitness professional and how I manage to meet all my dietary requirements whilst training hard.

Fortnightly, I'm going to share my experiences as a member of both the vegan and fitness communities. This will include anything from new exciting recipes, restaurants, vegan products and everything else in between. Join me in discovering how you can balance effective training with getting all of your necessary protein, without the inclusion of any animal products.

So, even if your diet consists of 90% chicken wings, an occasional meat-free Monday or you completely swear by your own homemade seitan recipe – and if you’ve ever felt the need to ask a vegan, or are too often asked 'Where do you get your protein from?', you’ll be able to find all those answers right here.

Colette x

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