Throughout the year, the LGBT Foundation in Manchester holds events for older lesbian and bi women (OLB). Such events take place at its venue in the centre of the city, and are inclusive of trans women and non-binary people. OLB community events are aimed at those aged 50+, and are opportunities to meet like-minded women, talk about what matters to them, and share skills and experiences.
At the beginning of February, I was invited to talk about the work of V for Life and present a cookery demonstration to around 20 guests. I was told prior to the event that a high percentage of guests were vegetarian or vegan. With this in mind, I wanted to present an informative talk and discuss topics that differed from my usual work. I didn’t want to ‘preach to the converted’, so decided on a Q&A session that I felt everyone would benefit from, and that would be enjoyable and educational.
After introductions, it came to my attention that over 50% of attendees were vegetarian and vegan, which was even higher than I anticipated, and came as a nice surprise! Speaking about vegetarianism and veganism created an honest and open discussion where we learned about the importance of vitamin B12 and omega 3 fats, and how to make sure we’re including them in our diets.
Did you know that vitamin B12 absorption decreases with age? We need to eat B12 fortified foods such as cereals and plant-based milks every day. Low intakes can mean you may become anaemic and could cause nervous system damage.
The cookery demonstration began with a firm favourite: rich chocolate and tofu mousse! A super simple dessert with three ingredients; dark chocolate, tofu and maple syrup. I like to present this recipe at most demos because the crowd can’t believe how simple and tasty it really is. Even without eggs, the texture is rich and creamy and can be enjoyed as a tarte or on its own. Once made, I popped it in the fridge so it had time to set to be enjoyed at the end of the demo. The recipe for this dessert can be found on our website here.
I then went on to introduce healthy oils. This is not something a lot of people think about, but it gave the group a chance to try avocado and rapeseed oil and learn about their benefits. Avocado oil is high in antioxidants so it is great for skin and hair, and rapeseed oil is high in omega 3, and low in saturated fats. Both benefit from being eaten cold on salads and dips, but can be used to cook with. The majority favoured the avocado oil over the rapeseed, and most said they would include it in their diets.
We then moved on to vegan 'smoked salmon' (carrot lox) and cream-cheese crackers, which went down a treat! Prior to the event it took me no longer than 30 minutes to make at home using a small list of ingredients. The only unusual ingredient, which is now being introduced to more plant-based dishes, was liquid smoke (liquid aminos). This can be purchased online at Ocado and occasionally bought in larger shops such as Tesco and Holland and Barrett. It’s an American import that has been used for many years over in the States; it gives foods a smoky flavour that is very flavoursome. This is what gives the carrots their distinctive taste, which is difficult to replicate using just herbs and spices. I served this on crackers with Sainsbury’s FreeFrom alternative to soft cheese, another item people had heard about but didn’t have chance to try. The full recipe for this can be found at the bottom of the page.
The final dish demonstrated was courgette fritters – another simple yet tasty dish, which is gluten-free, cheap and easy to make. As we get older, we may not have the desire to stand cooking for long periods of time, but want to make sure what we’re eating is healthy and nutritious, so this recipe is great. The fritters contain gram flour made from chickpeas, meaning the dish is high in protein and relatively low in fat. Cooking the fritters in a small amount of oil in a good non-stick pan means the oil content is lower. Once cooked, they can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for 3 months. They just need to be reheated in the oven for 10 minutes on a medium heat or 1 minute in the microwave. I served these with sweet chilli dipping sauce. The recipe can be found here.
If you would like further information about nutrition, you can order a copy of our Vegan Rescue Pack or download it from our website. This handy guide offers information on meal planning, nutrition, and what foods you should eat each day for a healthy balanced plant-based diet. If you’re part of an older persons' community group and would like to include a visit from myself please do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss!
Carrot Lox (vegan smoked salmon)
2 large carrots, scrubbed clean
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp liquid smoke
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried dill
1 tbsp powdered nori (this can be done using a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder)