The 22-Day Revolution: Vegan Diet Days 15, 16 and 17 – The Travelling Edition (With Bonus Illness!)

I told you guys that I was facing a pretty tough challenge – a three day convention that I had to attend for work. I knew I couldn’t keep a day by day blog of everything I ate, so my plan was to compile it all into a bumper travelling edition, which I hoped would contain some tips for anyone who needs to travel during The 22-Day Revolution.

(Pst – if you want to know what I’m up to, head to day zero by clicking here to find out all about my 22-day vegan challenge! Plus, click here to be taken to the Amazon page to purchase your own copy, through my affiliate link: The 22-Day Revolution: The plant-based programme that will transform your body, reset your habits, and change your life.)

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Eat like a sumo wrestler: Chankonabe recipe

Chankonabe text

This hearty, clean tasting bowl o’goodness is modelled on the sort of food that they feed to sumo wrestlers in Japan – but don’t be put off from trying it for fear of putting on weight. When it comes to food, sumo wrestlers go for quality and quantity – piling on the pounds with vast amounts of really good, healthy food.

Chankonabe is a kind of nabemono, or one pot dish, where all of the diners help themselves from a central, simmering stew. Not only does the tabletop stove the stew sits upon keep the diners warm in winter, but by sharing, friendships and familial ties are strengthened. Because sumos live together in groups in so-called stables, there is an obvious advantage to sharing meals – and although the origins of the word ‘chanko’ are unclear, many think the word comes from ‘chan’, for father and ‘ko’, for child, indicating the strong ties between a stablemaster and his trainees.

The chanko-ban, or chanko cook (that’s you, if you’re following my recipe!) is usually a junior sumo wrestler. There are no rules about what goes in chankonabe – the contents are dictated by the seasons, what’s in the kitchen, and personal taste. But generally, chicken is favoured, and beef and fish could be considered bad luck, as both represent a sumo in defeat (on all fours, or completely legless!).

Is it really chankonabe if it’s not served to or by a sumo? Well, maybe not – but eat it with a warrior spirit! This recipe will serve six adults, so it’s great for an informal dinner with friends.

Chankonabe ingredients

Ingredients text

  • Four chicken breasts or thighs, skin-on for authenticity
  • 3 litres chicken stock
  • 1 large, white potato, peeled
  • 1/3 of a daikon radish, peeled
  • 2 peeled carrots
  • 3-4 heads pak choi (depending on size)
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 12 shiitake mushrooms (approx 125g)
  • 1 block firm tofu (or packet deep fried tofu)
  • Enoki mushrooms
  • 125ml soy sauce
  • 60ml mirin
  • Salt
  • 1 package cooked udon noodles (optional)

Chankonabe method

Method text

  • If using fried tofu, place in a colander and blanch with boiling water to remove excess oil. When cutting the vegetables, try to cut them diagonally to make them look nicer.
  • Slice the radish, potato and carrot, parboil (submerge into boiling water for around five minutes), then drain and keep to one side.
  • Slice the pak choi into chunks. Wash the leeks and slice white parts only. Cut the chicken into 2-inch chunks, keeping the skin on. Prepare the shiitake mushrooms by wiping them with a damp cloth and trimming down the stalks. The enoki mushrooms should be trimmed and separated into smaller bundles.
  • Add the chicken stock, chicken, onions, shiitake mushrooms, leek and tofu to a large pan, and bring to the boil. Add your soy sauce and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the ingredients are cooked. Keep skimming off any scum that might form.
  • Add the potato, radish, carrot and pak choi and simmer for five more minutes. Add the mirin and shimeji mushrooms, then simmer for a few more minutes and season to taste with salt.
  • Serve in a pot simmering on a tabletop stove, or alternatively, dish into bowls. Seconds are compulsory!
  • Once you have had your fill of the chankonabe, remove any remaining ingredients, then add the udon noodles to the soup, simmer for around five minutes, and serve with the broth.

Chankonabe cooking

I have a portable, tabletop stove that I like to use for this, but you can serve yourselves from the pot at the table without having heat under it, as it stays warm for a while due to the sheer volume of food inside!

Chankonabe finished

It may seem like a simple dish, but somehow, the finished product is so much greater than the sum of its parts. I made this for my cousin and mum back in 2009, and they still talk about it… Maybe it’s time to make it again!

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Steamed fish for Chinese New Year: a healthy celebration recipe!

Five years ago, when I started blogging, the first thing I wrote about was Chinese New Year. So it seems appropriate to come back to it in time for the Year of the Snake (which is to be celebated tomorrow, on Sunday 10 February) with a healthy recipe that is packed full of flavour, looks ambitious, but in reality is incredibly easy to prepare.

Just like a lot of the traditional foods consumed during Chinese New Year, steamed fish is symbolic because the word in Chinese, ‘yu’, sounds like ‘wealth’ or ‘abundance’. Many festive foods revolve around similar Chinese puns, which is great fun to discuss during dinner, but hard to replicate unless you’re very fluent in Chinese!

Chinese New Year steamed fish

You need a whole, white fleshed fish to make this dish – pink fleshed fish such as salmon or trout are too strong for the delicate seasonings used here. You can be flexible with the type of fish you buy – go for what looks the freshest, or take advantage of a special offer. Sea bass is usually an expensive option, but consider bream – my favourite! Ask your fish monger for advice if you’re not sure which type of fish to buy.

When you get your fish, chances are it will be gutted but not descaled. If you can get the fishmonger to descale it for you, all the better, but it’s not too difficult to do at home, and it keeps the fish fresher if you do it just before cooking. Simply rub a spoon (or knife) firmly along the fish, towards its head. This can be quite messy, so ensure you do it over a sink, and wash the fish after to remove all the inedible, loose scales. If you’re not used to cooking with fish, it could be hard to tell if the fish has scales or not – rubbing a spoon or knife backwards over the fish will soon help you tell. Whatever you do, rinse the fish thoroughly afterwards!

Chinese New Year steamed fish


  • 500 –750g whole white fish
  • 3 spring onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 2 tbsp fermented black beans
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp sesame seed oil

Chinese New Year steamed fish

(In order to cook this dish, you will need a steamer – it sounds obvious, but make sure your fish will fit in your steamer before you buy it! Electric steamers are more convenient for this dish than bamboo steamers on a wok, mostly because they are generally oval, and therefore fish-shaped!)


  • Wash and dry your fish thoroughly. In a shallow dish, pour over the soy sauce and rice wine, then sit the fish in the fridge for ten minutes to marinate while you prepare the other seasonings.
  • Clean the spring onions and shred them finely. Crush the garlic with a garlic crusher. Skin the ginger (you can do this really easily by rubbing on the papery brown skin with the side of a spoon) and slice it, then cut it into fine matchsticks. Wash the black beans thoroughly, then crush them slightly to release more of their flavour.

Chinese New Year steamed fish

  • Remove the fish from the fridge, and place it either on a heatproof dish that will fit your steamer, or in strong, double wrapped foil. Scatter the seasonings over the top and inside of the fish, then pour the liquid marinade on the top, along with the sesame seed oil.

Chinese New Year steamed fish

  • Steam the fish for at least ten minutes. You can check whether the fish is done by pressing the flesh with chopsticks or your fingers. If the flesh is very firm and doesn’t flake, or still looks translucent, it will need longer. Check the manufacturer’s advice for cooking fish in your electric steamer.
  • Serve the fish on an oval platter, picking the flesh away from the bone with your chopsticks. Don’t forget to eat the tasty cheek flesh – or save it for your honoured guest! Serving a whole fish is a traditional way to end a banquet, but if you don’t like the thought of eating a fish with the head on, the flesh can be stripped from the bone before serving instead – but do try this recipe with a whole fish, as fillets of fish can produce a drier finished dish.

Chinese New Year steamed fish

A Cantonese way of finishing the dish is to heat a couple of tablespoons full of hot vegetable oil in a wok, in order to pour it over freshly sliced spring onions and ginger which have been laid over the surface of the cooked fish. This then cooks the aromatic seasonings, as well as crisping the skin of the fish slightly. I left this step out to make the finished dish healthier, but I won’t tell anyone if you give it a go!

Sweet potato and black bean empanadas

Being from the UK, I haven’t had many opportunities to eat empanadas – they’re not exactly common here, which is strange, because they were originally introduced to Mexico by Cornish miners. That’s right, empanadas are actually Cornish pasties in disguise! Once you realise this, you can totally see the link, as they’re pretty much the same thing: a tasty filling, wrapped around pastry, in a half moon shape!

I recently decided to try a black bean recipe for the first time in my life (black beans are also not a staple in English cookery!), as I’d been tempted so many times by a black bean chilli recipe in Jillian Michaels’ recipe book for Master Your Metabolism. As I had to buy a bag of these beans, and I had a sweet potato knocking around in the fridge from my organic veg box, I decided to give making sweet potato and black bean empanadas a go – and I’m really glad I did! I found them on Cooking Light’s website (I love that magazine, but you can’t get it here) under a section about great freeze ahead recipes. I’ve tested them out in the freezer, and they’re perfect to reheat later. Brilliant!

I’ve decided they make a great lunch, with a feta cheese, tomato, cucumber and rocket salad.

Here’s the recipe, translated into ‘English’, but you can also get the US recipe, and view the original, by clicking here. I kept in the cup measurements, because honestly, they’re much easier!


  • 9 oz plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup rapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  •  1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 dried chipotle chilli (you can buy these in Tesco)
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato (about 1 large)
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder, or smoked paprika
  • 1 egg white, beaten


  • Combine flour and salt in a bowl, and mix.
  • Combine rapeseed oil, cold water, vinegar and egg in another bowl, and then add slowly into the dry mix until just moist. Knead lightly in the bowl, then cover and allow to chill for one hour.
  • Rehydrate the chipotle chilli with boiling water and stand for 15 minutes. Then, chop finely.
  • Toast and grind the cumin seeds.
  • Combine the chilli and cumin with the potato, black beans, spring onions, coriander, chilli, and some salt. I processed mine to make it very smooth. Taste it carefully, and season to taste, because this mixture won’t really change much in the oven – it just gets warmer, rather than being cooked.
  • Divide the dough into 10 pieces, and keep the dough covered while you work.
  • Take one piece of dough and shape into a ball. It’s best not to do this with flour, as the shape forms easier without. But, you will need flour on the surface when you roll it out. Roll into a circle.
  • Fill the centre with 3 level tablespoons of the mix, then paint the edges with egg white, and seal.
  • Continue for all of your dough and mix.
  • Cut three vents on your empanadas, then bake in a preheated oven at 200c, on a baking tray coated with oil spray. Bake for 16 minutes, or until lightly browned.

CALORIES: 209 per empanada

When I froze these, I baked them for slightly less time. Then, just sealed them in a bag and placed them on a sheet in the freezer. When it’s time to cook, I defrost them and then heat them back up in the oven for about ten minutes.

Really, these are so tasty with a salad for lunch! I combine them with 35g of low-fat feta cheese, 1 tsp olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar, cucumber, lettuce and tomato, and it’s all under 350 calories. Quite high for me as a general rule of thumb, but I’m experimenting with eating more for meals and less for snacks! (Unhealthy snacks are now banned during Lent!)