vegan recipes without the things you can do without

Low Carb Bolognese

Low Carb Bolognese

This low carb bolognese is the cornerstone of our family meals. Pasta has always been a staple of my diet, and as a family we eat it two to three nights a week. Since becoming vegan three years ago, I’ve kept our family’s diet very similar, substituting vegan meat replacements where we would previously have eaten meat.

Gestational Diabetes

When I was pregnant with Hannah, I developed gestational diabetes that I struggled with a lot. I ate a meat-heavy, low carb diet that I thought was healthy, but still I gained a lot of weight and felt very unhealthy. I had to manage my blood sugars with Metformin and later, with insulin. I wasn’t able to have the VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) I wanted because of fears my baby was too big, and I was on insulin. I had a repeat caesarean and after she was born, my blood sugar control returned to normal but the consultants told me I was at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, especially if I don’t keep my blood sugar regulated.

I’m pregnant again now and at 16 weeks the midwives are allowing me to monitor my blood sugars at home to see if I have GD again. Even if the results show I haven’t got it, I’ll need to repeat the tests throughout the pregnancy. So I’ve decided to follow the diabetic diet anyway, especially as there’s a little evidence to show that a good diet and exercise can help prevent gestational diabetes from developing.

Vegan Meat Substitutes

For those of us who love the taste and texture of meat, but not the animal suffering, vegan meat substitutes are the way to go. There’s seitan (vital wheat gluten/VGG/wheat meat), tofu, beancurd skin, chickpea proteins (like gram seitan), lentil based proteins (like wadi dumplings), jackfruit, banana blossom and mushroom etc, and of course the good, old-fashioned TVP.

TVP Mince

TVP mince available here on Amazon
TVP mince available here on Amazon

TVP stands for textured vegetable protein and can also be called soy mince or soy pieces. It can come in so many different forms like soy mince/flakes, chunks, nuggets or even “vegan pork slices” which we get from the Bristol Chinese supermarket, Wai Yee Hong – so much love for this place! It’s based on extruded soy protein and is very high in fibre, low in fat and high in protein.

This video by Sauce Stache on YouTube explains TVP really well.

You might find the idea of TVP mince a bit strange, but you’ve probably eaten it before in burgers, Sosmix and even Pot Noodles. It’s so much less expensive than meat and most other vegan meat replacers, and it’s a brilliant flavour carrier. So give this low carb bolognese recipe with TVP a go and see if you enjoy the taste and texture as much as we do!

Low Carb Pasta

A few years ago, it was all about spiralising your vegetables. I spent a fortune on all sorts of gadgets to get lovely long ribbons in all different sizes, machines that invariably were hard to use, fell apart and we lost the various bits of. The one that stuck with me was the julienne peeler, and my last one kept us going for about 7 years. I just replaced it with a slightly cheaper model (click here) which was about £6. You really can’t go wrong! Just be careful not to knick your knuckle, and pull it down the length of veggies such as courgette, carrots, butternut squash, marrow, parsnips, celeriac and swede. Use a regular peeler if you want pappardelle (wide strips) or you’re cutting cabbage.

If you’re not following a low carb/low GI diet, or you’re able to tolerate carbohydrates feel free to use linguini or any pasta instead. Gluten free and konjak pasta would work fine. We often cook wheat pasta for the kids and courgetti for ourselves.

Low Carb Bolognese

Low Carb Bolognese

April 3, 2020
: 4
: 10 min
: 30 min
: 40 min
: Medium

A delicious recipe that's vegan, low carb, low GI and great for diabetic diets. A firm low-budget family favourite!


  • 2tbsp vegetable oil (optional)
  • 1 1/2 onions diced
  • 3 small carrots peeled and very finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
  • salt and pepper (optional)
  • 2 handfuls TVP mince, available on Amazon with the link above
  • 2 handfuls frozen chopped mixed peppers
  • tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • tsp dried oregano
  • 2 courgettes
  • Step 1 1. Heat oil in a large saucepan – if you’re not using oil, keep some water next to the hob and dry fry on a lower heat, stirring often and adding water as needed. Gently fry the onions and carrots, adding the garlic (if using) once they start to soften, season well.
  • Step 2 2. You can pre-soak and simmer the TVP/soy mince if you like but it’s not vital. If you’re in a hurry just add it dry, and a little bit of extra water along with the tinned tomatoes later. Add the frozen peppers and cook until they’re defrosted.
  • Step 3 3. Add the tomato puree and cook until it’s well-combined, then add the chopped tomatoes, vinegar and oregano. Add a little water if needed, depending on how thick you like your bolognese sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes
  • Step 4 4. For the courgetti, use a julienne peeler to slice the courgettes. Make sure they’re well-washed first, topped and tailed, there’s no need to peel. Place the courgetti in a microwave bowl and just before you’re ready to serve, microwave for one and a half minutes. Check they’re cooked and cook for another 30 seconds if needed.
  • Step 5 5. To serve, gently fold the sauce into the courgetti and plate up. You can top with fresh basil, nutritional yeast or dairy free cheese or cracked black pepper. We like to add chilli flakes to ours and the kids love cheese.
  • Step 6 6. If you’re not following a low carb/low GI diet, or you’re able to tolerate carbohydrates feel free to use linguini or any pasta instead. Gluten free and konjak pasta would work fine. You can also use spiralised carrot for your spaghetti substitute! We often cook wheat pasta for the kids and courgetti for ourselves.

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