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Ashley Madden

A guide to the Overcoming MS diet

Gillian and Ashley explore how the Overcoming MS Diet and give practical tips and advice on how to follow the recommendations.

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You can access the following useful handouts from this session here: 


Webinar summary:

Gillian and Ashley explore how the Overcoming MS Diet and give practical tips and advice on how to follow the recommendations.



Key highlights:

05:02 Introduction and agenda.

06:16 The Overcoming MS diet.

09:40 Foods to avoid.

11:24 A plant-based diet.

17:49 Animal protein VS plant-based protein.

21:40 Focus on wholefoods.

22:10 Meat alternatives.

25:41 Dairy alternatives.

25:56 Milk.

27:59 Cheese.

30:29 Ice cream.

31:49 Oils.

37:50 Practical tips.

39:48 Simple meal ideas.

41:09 Kitchen equipment.

44:57 Overcoming MS on a budget.

46:57 Shopping smart.

48:04 Organic.

49:00 Budget meals.

51:24 Store cupboard.

53:30 Summary. 

54:36 Q&A.

Speaker bios:

Gillian Robinson

After graduating from Dundee University with a BSc Hons in Anatomical Sciences, Gillian went on to study physiotherapy. She graduated in 2002 and worked in Croydon University Hospital for 10 years where she cemented her passion for neurology. During her time in Croydon, she completed an MSc in Acupuncture from Coventry University, a useful tool for the treatment box.

In 2012, Gillian moved to Edinburgh where she began working at the MS Therapy Centre Lothian as Lead Physiotherapist. Here she has developed a reputable service for those who attend the centre and has established strong links with the medical and healthcare professionals who are involved in their clients’ care. The ethos promoted by the MS Therapy Centre is one of supported self-management, encouraging and enabling the clients to understand and take control of their symptoms. Within her role Gillian is dedicated to helping people explore their capabilities and facilitate them to achieve a fitter, healthier, happier self.

Gillian is also a director of the social enterprise, Health Design Collective. Set up in 2019, they have a vision to create innovative products for people with long-term health conditions through co-design with the end users. Their first product currently under development is footwear for people with foot drop.

Ashley Madden

Ashley Madden is a full-time food lover and health enthusiast. She’s a pharmacist, plant-based chef, certified holistic nutrition consultant and food photographer. Originally from Canada, Ashley has moved around the world over the last 10 years, from New York to the Netherlands, and currently she lives in Taiwan.

A diagnosis of MS in her early 20s triggered an overhaul of her personal and professional life and, ultimately, she traded prescriptions for plants!

She shares her plant-based, gluten-free and oil-free recipes on her blog and creates recipes for health and wellness outlets like Forks Over Knives and Mind Body Green in addition to being the author of The Plant Based Cookbook and Plant Based Delicious. You can learn more about Ashley and her taste bud-tempting work here and here.

Read the episode transcript here.

Gillian Robertson  00:57

Thank you everybody for joining us today. We are going to be talking today about practical ways that will help you to adopt the OMS diet recommendations. And we thought we would just start by introducing ourselves.

Ashley Madden  01:16

Perfect. Thank you, Gillian. So Hi everyone. So happy to be with you. My name is Ashley Madden. I am a plant based chef. Or I should say I’m a pharmacist turned to plant based chef, holistic nutritionist and cookbook author. And I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2008, and started the OMS program in about 2011. And in changing my own diet and lifestyle, I realized that my true passion was food and its connection to health. And I am Canadian, but I currently live in Taipei in Taiwan with my husband and my newborn son.

Gillian Robertson  01:59

Thank you, Ashley. So hi, I’m Gillian Robertson. I’m actually British, but I’ve been living in Switzerland now for around the last 18 years, I have always been interested in food. And in fact, a few years ago, I changed my career and I retrained as as a chef, and I now have a small business here in the ski resort where we live. And I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2017. And I started following the OMS program pretty much straightaway. And then last year, I started to volunteer for Overcoming MS. And I now contribute recipes to the website. So we’ve got quite a packed agenda for you today. And what we really want to do is help you with practical ways as to how we can, how we can adopt the recommendations of the OMS diet. So we’re going to start by having just going through an overview of what we should and shouldn’t be eating to follow the recommendations. And then we’re going to start to look in a bit more detail at a plant based diet. We’re also going to cover replacing dairy, and we’re going to look at oils and oil free cooking. And then, from a practical point of view, we’re also going to look at how you can simplify your meal preparation. We’d like to cover following the OMS diet on a budget because I know that that’s a bit of a hot topic. And also look at the kinds of foods that you can have in your store cupboard to help you make quick and easy meals. So what I’d like to do is start by having a look at what we really mean by the OMS diet. The OMS diet is backed up by scientific research. And it is a really important part of the program. When it comes to managing the disease and preventing progression. There’s a lot of information about the science behind the diet on the OMS website. So we’re not going to be going into that today. But in the handouts that will be available at the end you will have all the necessary links in case you want to go and look at that and read about that in more detail in your own time. So what we really mean by the OMS diet is a whole food plant based diet, including seafood if you want to do that. And what we’re doing by eating in this way is significantly reducing our saturated fat intake and at the same time increasing the intake of healthy omega three fats because Those have a have an anti inflammatory effect on the body which is very important for multiple sclerosis. So if we start to look at all of the foods that we can enjoy, and we start with the plant based ones, so we have vegetables and fruits, we have whole grains such as pata, rice, noodles, but also other grains like barley, quinoa, and so on. Pulses so we mean beans and peas and lentils, seeds, nuts and nut butters, plant based milk alternatives, and yogurt, and soy products like tofu and tempeh. And then for those of you who want to add in fish, then we have fish and other sea foods such as prawns, mussels, octopus, squid, and so on. And then we also have egg whites which are allowed not egg yolks, but egg whites. I think it’s just useful to talk here about one or two things we should be a little bit careful about. And I’ve mentioned here, olives and avocado, which we should eat in small amounts because of the saturated fat content, also nuts and nut butters. Again, eating those in small quantities is important. And in the same way oily fish, because it’s great for the Omega threes, but because it also has saturated fat, we suggest that we limit that to no more than three times a week. And then finally, on top of this very wide range of foods that we can have, we also recommend that you supplement your food with a daily dose of flaxseed oil, around 20 to 40 mil, which is about two or three tablespoons. And that should be eaten in its natural state. So we shouldn’t be using that for cooking or baking. So those are all the foods we can eat. What about the foods we need to avoid? Well, we should not be eating meat or meat products, we should be avoiding all dairy, all saturated fats. And that’s not just animal fats. But we have to remember that coconut oil, palm oil. Other vegetable oils also are considered as saturated fats. And then because we’re also not not only are we trying to cut down saturated fat, but you were trying to follow a Whole Foods way of eating. Then we want to avoid a lot of processed foods like fried and deep fried foods, baked goods, all those snacks like chips and crisps and party foods and sweets and chocolate, and fast food and takeaways. And as I mentioned before, we should avoid egg yolks. And then also just to remember, as I said coconut oil or coconut products, peanuts and peanut butter, we’re best to avoid those completely because of this natural fat content. Now I know that this this seems like a tall order, especially when you’re starting out on trying to adapt your diet to the OMS recommendations. But what we hope to show you in the rest of the time that we have with you today is that you can actually have some delicious meals and a great way of eating without all these foods.

Ashley Madden  08:56

Okay, so as Gillian said, the OMS diet is a plant based diet plus seafood and egg whites if you want, I know that many of us get really interest interested in plant based nutrition. Some of us follow a purely or predominantly plant based diet. I know for me, I did fish and egg whites too for a little while and then it just naturally occurred to me to shift to a plant based diet. So I’m hoping today that I can answer some plant based questions inspire some plant based kitchen creativity and kind of hit some important points. So the first thing that I want to talk about is what is a plant based diet and Gillian really just, I guess hit on what the components of a plant based diet is. So as a refresher, a plant based diet is a diet that is focused on minimally processed whole plant foods. So the plant based food groups if you will, our whole grains, beans and legumes or pulses, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and seaweeds, and I just want to take a moment here to differentiate between plant based and vegan because I know the terminology can be confusing, I should add vegetarian in there as well actually, but I know the terminology can be a bit confusing, especially if you’re navigating recipes or new food products. So vegan or vegan diet is one that is free of animal products. So a vegan diet isn’t health driven by definition, it certainly can be. But you know, a soda and a bag of chips or a bag of crisps can be considered vegan, whereas a plant based diet really is rooted in health and the minimally processed minimum, minimally added oils is really central to the idea of a plant based diet. So I just wanted to highlight that. And I also want to talk about the benefits of a plant based diet. And again, plant based nutrition is weaved into the OMS program. So a lot of you are familiar with this. But a plant based diet is high in essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It’s overall anti inflammatory, because we’re getting a lot of antioxidants from all those colorful plant foods. It’s low in saturated fat, which is important for us, of course, and then also, a plant based diet has extensive health benefits that go beyond. I guess for us how it can benefit an autoimmune disease, for example, a plant based diet has been shown to reduce the risk of some cancers, it can help with weight loss or weight stabilization. And it can also decrease the risks and sometimes reverse some of the modern day chronic diseases that we’re seeing in a lot of the developed countries. So things like type two diabetes, and heart disease, I want to hone in on plant based protein because I know protein is such a dietary hot topic. And if you follow plant based diet, or if you like eating plant based meals, because a lot of this, you know, this applies to you if you’re just interested in plant based meals as well doesn’t mean you have to be predominantly plant based. But the question that comes up so often is if you don’t eat meat, and if you don’t eat fish, if you don’t eat eggs, where do you get your protein? And the short answer is everywhere, because all foods have some protein, and you can get all the protein that you need from a plant based diet. And so research and nutritional studies that have been done are telling us now that if you eat enough calories, you’re most certainly getting enough protein. So a protein deficiency, even if you’re vegan, or you follow a plant based diet is extremely rare. So that’s a really important point to remember. And I have listed here the recommended daily intake of protein. And this is just to show you how reasonable and achievable these numbers are. And of course, the amount that you need to consume varies with your age and your activity level or your health situation. For example, if you’re pregnant, you need to eat more protein. But the truth is that we’ve become a protein obsessed society really. And there’s a lot of protein products, protein powder, supplements, cookies, diet plans, you know, there’s a lot of protein, heavy media coming at us. And it’s just not necessary. So I just don’t want that to be a point of stress for anybody. So even though plant based protein is good for us, and we can get enough protein, there are some important differences that I just want to point out. So animal protein is different than plant protein. And now this isn’t a bad thing, this is actually a good thing. So you may have heard the term complete protein. This is a term that refers to a protein source that offers all nine essential amino acids. If you don’t know what that is, I’m going to quickly just give you an overview. So amino acids are the building blocks of protein. And we need protein for so many things in our body for our metabolism for maintenance, repair and growth. So the essential amino acids are the ones that we have to get from our diet because our body can make them on their own. And animal proteins offer all of the essential amino acids where and is known as complete protein, whereas plant foods only offer some of the essential amino acids, but different plants offer different essential amino acids. So what modern science has taught us is that the amino acid gaps in one plant food are filled in by another plant food. So if that all seems very confusing, don’t worry about it. I just want to make sure that you understand the bottom line is that you don’t need to strategically pair plant foods at certain at specific meals to get the protein that you need. We now know that eating a variety of whole plant foods will get you all of the essential amino acids that are required. And just to show you how easy is pairing happens and how naturally it happens anyways, again, you don’t need to strategically do this. But I have here listed just some simple meal and snack ideas that actually do offer you complete protein that you’re probably already doing and don’t even know it. So brown rice and beans, oatmeal, and nuts and seeds or soy milk, sprouted bread is a great one because it has a combination of legumes and grains and nuts and hummus on whole wheat toast. So these are pretty easy things. And then just to add a little cherry on top and I’m probably going to confuse people a little bit but in the previous slide I said most plants don’t have complete protein but there actually are a handful that do so soy and soy products like tempeh, a tofu, miso, soy milk, these do offer complete protein, as does quinoa and buckwheat, which are pseudo grains and chia and hemp seeds. So these are these foods are pretty easy to incorporate as well again, just kind of highlighting the idea that it is easy to get complete protein and all the required protein you need on a plant based diet. But I just want to point out here that the legume family and the soy family are really great as our whole grain products, especially things like whole grain pasta and whole grain breads, these can actually be quite substantially high in protein. I think there is a myth maybe that vegetables don’t have any protein, but they actually do especially when you look at their protein content relative to their calories. So for example, something like broccoli, so broccoli got two cups of broccoli are about 180 grams offers six grams of protein, which is pretty impressive. So don’t count out vegetables for protein either. And so I guess the when we’re talking about plant based protein, what I want to get across is that you don’t need to look for protein specific products or recipes, keep your meal simple focus on whole foods. Again, you don’t need to strategically pair plant foods to get complete protein and cook from home so that you can control the ingredients that you’re adding. So, in talking about plant based protein, I think we also have to talk about meat alternatives because these are so popular right now.

Ashley Madden  17:17

And I know that you know science or food science is coming up with all kinds of meat substitutes, and they’re becoming widely available. And I know a lot of us in looking for convenience because a lot of these are just packaged and you just cook them quickly at home are wondering if we can have them or if they’re healthy or if they’re approved by the OMS diet. So first, I just want to define the alternative. So it’s usually a term that refers to protein rich foods. But it most often is used to describe a food or food product that mimics a traditional meat serving package burgers like Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger. I know these are so popular right now. Processed meats, soy products, especially like fake bacon and sausages and deli meats, and really anything that mimics a meat product. And meat alternatives are super exciting, especially as people are trying to move to a meat free diet. It’s great for the environment. But in a nutshell, meat alternatives are generally not that good for us. They’re usually made with a lot of artificial ingredients, especially highly processed oils. And they usually have a lot of fat, saturated fat, especially which again, we’re trying to avoid sugar, salt, calories. And overall, most of these packaged meat substitutes are highly inflammatory. So that is a bit disappointing for some people. But keep in mind that food products or new food products are coming out all the time. And there are health conscious companies out there. So keep an eye out for new products. But I would always urge you to look at the label just to make sure you know what’s in the product in question. So instead, it’s best if you stick with whole foods, meat alternatives, so high protein foods that you can use at home to make your own meat substitutes. So you can make your own burgers or your own meatballs or your own meat sauce. So focus on things like tofu tempeh beans, also seitan, which I haven’t talked about, but seitan It’s pronounced differently depending on where you are. But it’s also known as wheat meat. So it’s essentially a meat substitute that’s just made from gluten. So you can’t if you’re on a gluten free diet, it’s not an option, but if you are it is usually a fat free source of plant based protein. And then finally, I just want to note that it’s also really helpful to ditch the old notion that your dinner plate is focused on one main protein food and is surrounded by side dishes. I know that’s how we traditionally look at a meal because the anatomy of a plant based plate or bowl is quite different than than the traditional dinner plate. But with some experience and after trying some recipes or making some meals on your own, you do get used to it and your your brain almost shifts and you don’t think about the the anatomy of a plate the way you used to. And then finally, if you are really interested in trying a meat alternative, again, I’ll just reiterate to read the label and make sure you’re not getting any ingredients that you are trying to avoid like too much salt, too much oil or dairy. And I think that’s going to be a common thread throughout this presentation is always checking the ingredient label. Now we’re going to move on to talking about dairy, because removing dairy is, of course, one of the main dietary pillars of the OMS program. And I know that initially, it can be very challenging, or it can seem like it’s going to be very challenging, but there are so many options today. So I’m briefly going to review replacing milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream. So first, let’s talk about milk. So the market for plant based milks has exploded over the last five or 10 years. I know when I first started eating this way, you know, there was one option at the grocery store. And sometimes I had to order it from away but now the milk section of most grocery stores is you know just has so many options. So that’s wonderful. And most dairy alternatives or plant based milks are OMS friendly. And I say most because again, you want to read the label. And make sure there’s not any added oils or too much sugar. There are some brands that do add sunflower oil or canola oil to their milks. And a lot of these are also barista blends. So milks that are used for like lattes and that kind of thing. So that’s something to keep in mind. But the end and the only milk that is a hard no is coconut milk, which Gillian has touched on already with coconut and coconut products not being an option on the OMS program. And then similarly with yogurt there today, there are so many options. soy yogurt is great. You can get unsweetened varieties, which is wonderful. And then there are nut yogurts as well. So you can get almond yogurt and cashew yogurt. I would just note to watch out for too many added sweeteners, especially in almond milk yogurt, that’s been my experience. And then you can also make your own so you can make your own yogurts using a yogurt maker, you can also do that with a blender, so I like to make cashew yogurt in my Vitamix. And there are so many recipes online as well. And then if you’re someone who likes having yogurt like in the morning, or with granola as a snack, I think that it’s a great idea to experiment with chia pudding. And overnight oats these kinds of serve the same purpose are really easy to make. And I have a link to a couple of recipes in your handouts as well if you’re interested. Next, we’re going to talk about cheese and I know cheese is a really tough one for people. And in the same vein, as when we talked about meat alternatives, there are a lot of cheese alternatives that are available commercially now as well. Unfortunately, most of the vegan cheeses on the market also aren’t great options. Most of them are made with oils, especially a lot of coconut oil, so they’re very high in saturated fat. And a lot of the melty cheeses that you can get that are vegan, they are usually means a lot of highly processed soy. So there might be some smaller brands where you are that offer oil free cheeses I know where I am, I have found a cheese company that makes vegan cheeses that don’t have any added oils, which is amazing. But you can also make substitutes or find ways to replace them at home. So if you’ve never heard of nutritionally yeast, this is a this is a great ingredient to have at home. I think Gillian will touch on this letter as well. But it’s a pantry item and it’s a yellow flakes. It’s deactivated yeast that’s grown on molasses. It’s not related to use that’s used to brew beer or to make bread. And it’s pretty widely available now. And it has this cheesy taste and it’s great for adding to seasonings or making sauces with again, I’ve linked to some recipes in your handouts where you’ll see that that’s used quite often. Nuts like cashews are also great if you’re trying to make like a cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese. And then other nuts can also be used to make cheese substitutes like cheese balls or cheese, fermented soft cheeses. And as Gillian has noted earlier in the presentation, we do want to keep an eye on how many nuts we’re consuming because of the saturated fat content. But these are really great options for special occasions. For sure. So in my cookbook, I don’t think I’ve said the name of it yet The Plant Based Cookbook: Vegan, Gluten Free, Oil Free Recipes for Lifelong Health. It’s a mouthful, but in that in there I have a cheeseball recipe that I make every Christmas it’s made with walnuts and cashews. So just these kinds of things can be nice to have when you’re looking for something for a special occasion because I know cheese is something that we we miss. And then I’m gonna move on to ice cream, which was really difficult for me because I loved ice cream so much, but this is probably one of the easiest ones to replace. So when I think about replacing ice cream, I think of three options. The first is that there are commercially available ice cream brands now that are made with soy, almond or cashew milk, I would just again refer to the label to make sure there isn’t too many add too much added sugar or oils or artificial ingredients. And again, avoid coconut milk based ice creams. There’s also sorbet which is just pureed fruit and sugar, which you can also get commercially but is pretty easy to make at home you just blend up some fruit, frozen fruit and you can add in what you want, you can add a splash of almond milk or you can add sweeteners if that’s what you’re into. And then for me the the best alternative is banana ice cream, which is also known as nice cream. So nice cream is just pureed frozen bananas, and it is an amazing ice cream substitutes. I make mine at home using a high speed blender. So I use a Vitamix blender, but you can get banana ice cream devoted machines, I know people have those as well. And then you can add in your own flavors to make it how you want it you can add cocoa powder, or you can add flavoring extracts, you can add other fruits. So there’s lots of options there.

Ashley Madden  26:37

And so now I’m going to move on to talking about oils because this is another important nutritional topic on the OMS program. And I know that there’s always questions about oils and which ones we can have and which ones we can’t. And again, Gillian has already talked about this. So just to put it in black and white and very simply, oils that are approved on the OMS diet are of course flax oil, not for cooking, extra virgin olive oil, which we can use for baking also for drizzling or seasoning or salad dressings, in limited amounts. And then there are others that can be used as flavorings or seasonings as well. So various nuts and seed oils. And these should be bought you know high quality and purchased as fresh as possible and in small quantities as well. And just a note here, for anybody who’s new on the OMS program, keep your flax oil in the fridge and or any polyunsaturated oil or that’s high in Omega three should be kept in the fridge. And then your other oils as well should be kept somewhere dark, cold and in close dark containers because we know that when oils are exposed to light, heat or oxygen, they can go bad or go rancid is another way of saying that. So in talking about oils, I know that there’s a gray area sometimes that’s open for interpretation and that’s cooking with oils outside of baking. So the problem with stir frying sauteeing or pan frying with oil is that the pan definitely gets really hot and can destroy the beneficial nutrients or the beneficial fats that are in oils. So something I started doing very early on the OMS program was doing almost 100% of my cooking oil free and you can do baking oil free you can do roasting oil free but I specifically want to talk about pan frying or Sartain, but first I just want to talk to you about what the benefits are oil free cooking. So when you remove oil from your cooking, you’re automatically lowering your fat and your saturated fat intake which is fantastic for us. You’re automatically getting a lower calorie intake because you know there’s 100 plus calories in just a tablespoon of oil depending on the oil. You’re lowering your omega six intake. So remember that our inflammation in our body is controlled by the balance between the Omega six and Omega three fat so we want to increase our omega threes and reduce our omega sixes and a lot of cooking oils are high in Omega six fats and it’s overall a healthier option. It’s cheap and I think it’s a really important culinary skill to have a lot of recipes start with sauteeing onions and garlic and some oil or sauteed vegetables and some oil and this can be for anything from soups and stews and casseroles. So I think it’s an important thing to know how to do so. to saute without oil you simply replace the oil with something like water or another liquid like vegetable broth, vinegar juice soy sauce and you continue stirring as you would cooking and then you just add more liquid as the liquid in the pan evaporates. The easiest way to do this for me is to just keep a glass of water or a measuring cup of water next to the stove and gradually add it as needed. I will note that there are probably two drawbacks to oil free cooking or oil for sauteeing if you’ve never done it before, and the first is that you might not get that caramelization that you get on foods when they’re cooked in oil, which you quickly get used to. And then the second one is that you might burn your food or get burned spots in your pan. And that’s just because you either have the temperature too high or you forgotten to add liquid. But again, you’ll get used to that as you cook more without oils. This whole presentation is about practical tips on the OMS diet. And I think we’ve we’ve hit on some of these already. And I know Gillian is going to talk more about them. And this list is also in your handouts as well. So I just want to highlight a couple here that I think are really important. So the first is make a meal plan. And I mean make a very simple meal plan, especially in the beginning. And this can be something as easy as jot notes or a list, you know, oatmeal for breakfast salad for lunch pastor for dinner. But I just think that having a simple meal plan removes a lot of the indecision we feel right before a meal, which can lead to stress, and can also lead to poor food choices, that’s for my experience anyways, and then keep your meals so simple in the beginning very basic meals based on whole foods. And when you do go to try new recipes look for you know, one pot, 30 minutes sheet pan meals, which was are so important, or sorry, so popular right now is and then this one is probably not in most how to simplify meal prep lists that you’ll find but number four, making a sauce and keeping it in your fridge. So a lot of my rushed weeknight meals or meals where I don’t want to be messing around in the kitchen very much are grains that I already have made in the fridge reheated with just steamed vegetables or salad. So a sauce can really dress up the most simplest of meals. So but I just think that’s a tip that really helps simplify and cut down on time when you need a meal in a short period of time. And then batch cooking is another really important one as well. I think Gillian is going to touch on that. But batch cooking things and freezing them for future use is super important. I wanted to just highlight. These are four meal ideas that I go to when I’m short on time, and I want it to be delicious, but easy. So the first is grain bowls, which is what I just described, which is just a bowl or a plate where the base of the meal is cooked whole grains. And then I just kind of add whatever I have in the fridge on top salad, steamed vegetables, a handful of chickpeas, and then you can use a sauce or a drizzle of soy sauce or a squeeze of citrus something really easy. The second is baked potatoes, I think anything goes with baked potatoes. So I’ll bake a potato if I’m in a rush, I will use the microwave to bake the potato. And I’ll stuff it with leftover stew or I’ll put a handful of arugula or rocket with a drizzle of flax oil, just something really easy. tofu scramble and avocado toast this is probably my favorite meal and it comes together in minutes. And then one pot pasta does is a great family meal. And that’s where you put the pasta and all the veggies and everything in the one pot, you boil it, drain it and then just add a simple sauce or again, a drizzle of oil or soy sauce or a sauce that you already have made.

Gillian Robertson  33:13

Thank you, Ashley. So I think that if you start to already adopt some of these ideas about making meal plans, you know, you can certainly make things easier for yourself but I think also the equipment that you have in your kitchen can also cut down on preparation time. And what I’ve done here is give you a list of a few basic things which I think are really essential, especially when you’re following a plant based diet and then some ideas for things that are more of an investment. So really, when we’re looking at basic things, then obviously a few good quality knives and vegetable peeler are going to be really useful. Keeping them sharp makes chopping much easier. And to go with that I would say a non slip chopping board I mean if you if it’s not specifically non non slip, you can get these mats which which are like a non slip mat which you put under your chopping board and not only does it make it safe, it speeds up the cutting process. On top of that a grater is a great idea and a microplane, which is really a very fine grater really useful for things like grating, grating garlic, ginger, zesting lemons. If you’re going to be baking, doing home baking, then measuring cups and spoons are great and if you are going to start batch cooking then of course containers and jars are really useful for for keeping things in the fridge or freezer. And then as Ashley said, with oil free cooking, it’s really a good idea to have some nonstick frying pans and also an oven tray is great for oil free or minimum oil. Baking. If you don’t have nonstick, you can still use baking parchment for baking or you can get silicone mats which stop food from sticking and they can be used over and over again. On the more sort of expensive side, then I would say the least expensive item which would be great to have would be a stick blender or or a hand blender as we call them, which are great for blending soups for blending smoothies, you can make purees with them. And that the other end of that scale on the blending side is a high speed blender. Ashley’s already mentioned she has a Vitamix, and so do I. And I use it all the time. It’s I think it’s the thing I use the most in the kitchen. It just as everything soups, sauces, purees, it’ll make your nice cream. And if you’re adventurous, you can make your plant based milk with it. I mean it is an investment but it’s a very, very useful tool in the kitchen. Probably a little less expensive would be a food processor. Again, slicing chopping shredding vegetables, great for mixing things like veggie burgers or or making hummus. And as Ashley also mentioned, the microwave and I know that there’s a lot of debate about whether using a microwave is safe or not. But I think if you have one, you’re short on time, it’s great for steaming vegetables or steaming fish. Great for reheating food, if you’re doing food prep. So don’t be afraid of using it, I would just say make sure that the containers you use in it on microwave safe and I just tried to avoid using using plastic in it. So following the OMS diet on a budget, that switching to the OMS diet does not have to cost more I think people can often think oh, you know, it’s going to take a lot of very special ingredients and great ingredients that are maybe difficult to find. And how am I going to do this without it getting too expensive. But I think if you’re already, if you can already start to think about meal planning, this idea of batch cooking, freezing and using leftovers, that’s all going to reduce cost. And I think you know other other ideas to reduce waste. I mean, if you’re storing your food properly, to make it last things like bread, I know that’s one of the things that is thrown away the most in households. Just slice it and freeze it and it’s there all the time for toast or a quick snack. keep a track of your use by dates in your cupboard. Don’t let things fester at the back of the cupboard try and use them up and be flexible when it comes to your meal plans. And recipes that you want to try. You don’t have to follow a recipe and use every single ingredient but get creative and incorporate ingredients you already have or swap some ingredients out. And other ideas for the more adventurous of you out there. I mean, you can consider growing your own herbs, very simple to do outside or inside in the winter. It saves you buying those packets that you only use about a quarter of and then you end up throwing them away. And then you know if you do invest in a blender then have a go at making your own plant based milks or yogurts they are they do work out a lot cheaper than buying some of the brands that you can get now in the in the supermarkets. Perhaps one of the few of the main things to point out, make a list from your meal plan and stick to it. And if you’re trying to just shop once a week, then you’re less tempted to buy all of these extras. shopping online, which I think a lot of people are doing a lot more of since the pandemic started. It can be a great way of shopping when you’re watching the pennies, I mean, you can look out for the best deals, you can add up what you’re shopping as you go along before you get to the checkout, you can save a weekly basket and then just reorder that every week. It’s a really good way of saving money and saving time. And another point I would just say also is organic now is a big trend. Obviously it can be very expensive. Don’t feel that you always have to buy organic. As long as you’re washing your fruit and vegetables well you’re going to be okay. And it’s okay to look at frozen fruit and vegetables as well as fresh ones, these are often cheaper, they’re just as nutritious and they can help save time because they’re often pre prepared as well. And the same goes with fish too. I mean, frozen fish can also be much more economical. And if you’re adding them to a curry or a stew or maybe a sauce for pasture, it really doesn’t matter that it’s not fresh. But just to finish about talking on about ideas for feeding family on a budget. I think if you start thinking about the inexpensive items in plant based cooking so grains, pulses, seasonal vegetables, if you make those the base of your meals, then your meals really are not going to cost that much money. And what I’ve listed here are some ideas for each meal time to sort of get you started in thinking about what you could do breakfast. I mean, as Ashley’s already mentioned, overnight oats quick and easy to make inexpensive or you can make porridge in the winter. Making your own muesli and granola is way cheaper than some of the really expensive great brands out there and you’re making sure that you’re not getting any sort of additives or unwanted ingredients. big batches of homemade baked beans are great to have on toast. They’re simple to make. They make a good lunch dish as well. And then for lunches things like pasta salads. Ashley’s favorite baked potatoes are great. Tuna and sweetcorn simple thing to to to have on baked potato or soups, which you can really fortify with beans and grains. They’re filling and they’re cheap to make. Dinners: Stir fry the oil free way of course with noodles or make a big batch of lentil Bolognese and have that with your favorite pasta. One of my favorites is chickpea curry. I love chickpea curry. And you can have that with rice. I like to make it with flatbread. But rice whole grain rice is very simple as a dinner idea, and then sweet treats, fruit based things like baked apples with yogurt, or the ever popular banana bread or rice pudding or fruit crumble with yogurt. I mean, I think by opting to follow the OMS diet, you’re already saving a lot of money by cutting out expensive items like meat and dairy products and ready made meals. So I think it is possible to do this without it getting really expensive. So then finally, to finish up, we just wanted to talk about the store cupboard, the idea of having things on hand

Gillian Robertson  42:58

so that you can always put a meal together when you’re short on time or you can’t get to the shops. As we’ve said all the way through this webinar when you’re buying packaged goods, I think it’s really important that you get into the habit of checking labels, just making sure that there aren’t additional ingredients there that you don’t want. And then if you’re using some of these packaged items, along with some fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood if you want to, then you’re going to be having a balanced diet. So just to sum up, then that’s an awful lot of information we’ve given you today a lot, a lot to take in a lot of practical tips and ideas. But really what we wanted, what we hope we’ve done today is help you to feel confident about which foods you can eat and which foods to avoid. When following the recommendations. What meals you can make at home what meals are what things are okay to buy pre made, so that you can easily incorporate plant based protein to understand how to simple how you can simplify your meal planning and reduce your meal preparation time. How to follow the recommendations without it costing you a fortune, and some ideas about what kind of foods are useful to keep in your store cupboard. And as I said at the beginning, we didn’t cover too much of the science behind the OMS diet today. But in the handouts you’ll have links to where you can go off and read about that in more detail. If that’s something you’re interested in doing.

This webinar was recorded 17 November 2021 as part of our Finding Hope with Overcoming MS webinar series.