Wednesday, 30 July 2014

the latest on instagram

hello all! just in case you've not spotted, i've been posting regularly over on instagram during these last busy months... here's a couple of snapshots from my profile for you. i hope you enjoy getting this little glimpse into my life.

my busy-ness has been caused by work - writing on top of working extra hours isn't really a reality, let alone being able to spend time photographing my food on anything other than my iphone. anyhow, i've not stopped creating new recipes and trying new things, exploring vegan living and learning how to serve my husband 'manly' non-meat meals.

hopefully i'll be sharing with you soon my latest pics from our holiday in yorkshire, seeing the tour de france and rambling through the north york moors...

apologies for my small disappearance! thanks for sticking with me and thank you for reading :)

currently listing to: the cultivate simple podcast, episode 51

Monday, 12 May 2014

dorset apple cake and the english coast

hello and happy spring!

today i want to share with you some photos from our little holiday to Dorset...

the beautiful countryside near Bridport, which we spent many hours rambling in...


there are a lot of little stalls by the side of the road, honesty boxes they're called (find out more at confessions of a design geek), and we found one nearby selling runner bean chutney - my favourite.


we did actually have reasonably lovely weather, with plenty of blue skies and the occasional heavy shower. the hills and walks were very muddy, and on one particular occasion we had my whole boot stuck in the clay!


we foraged a whole lot of wild garlic from the hedgerows and made a very simple and easy traditional pesto - all hand chopped with walnuts, lemon juice and olive oil. i have been wanting to do this for ages, and it was seriously yummy! we ate it on delicious bread as a starter one night...


Pete made a breakfast with the pesto the following day, adding it to the fried mushrooms towards the end of cooking time. it was a lovely addition to our regular veggie fry-up.


we visited the lovely Lyme Regis for the day, and enjoyed the quirky shops and places to eat. one such place was the Town Mill Bakery, which had the most gigantic cakes and pastries i've ever seen. 


we picked up a granary sourdough that weighed 1400g. massive. it was incredible. i don't eat a lot of baked goods, but when i do, i want them to be spectacular, and this was just perfect.


the cobb at lyme regis has a stunning viewpoint, and the rain held off whilst we strolled along the curved harbour wall.



the following day we strolled around nearby Bridport. one of my favourite places in the whole world. my grandparents used to live nearby, and so we visited frequently. i still try to get there every couple of years... (check out my previous post, an afternoon at the seaside).

when i visit i absolutely have to go to Leaker's Bakery. it's the best place for apple cake, and you can also pick up 'health bars' and spelt croissants.


we took the apple cake down to the seaside for a stroll along the coast to West Bay. the sun shone fantastically, and it was so gorgeous.


you all know how much i love picking wildflowers, and i counted 14 different types of wildflowers along the coastal path, though some were too precariously placed or too small to pick... 


it was a much needed break, and i couldn't think of anywhere more restorative to go!

thank you for reading, i hope you have a very lovely day :)

currently listening to: brave by sara bareilles

Monday, 14 April 2014

beetroot houmous, greenwheat freekeh and bluebells

hello lovely reader, thanks for reading today :) i hope you are well and happy, and that you enjoyed a sunny weekend.

today i'm doing a simple update post, with pics of my latest eats. i've been doing a lot of instagramming lately - so if you don't follow me there yet, pop on over to Instagram and see what sort of things i've been up to...

thank you so much for your wonderful comments and responses to my post about veganism - it's an exciting time for me, and it means a lot that you're all on board and excited too! even though i'm not 100% vegan (yet), i'm loving trying new plant-based recipes and meals, and food is tasting so good.

so here are my latest eats and treats:

breakfast of sweet potato mash with hemp milk, topped with tahini, ground flaxseeds, raisins and cinnamon - i love vegan breakfasts!


tortelloni with broccoli, sundried tomatoes, basil and a side of beetroot houmous


as part of Tesco's 'Healthy Living' range, they've got this delicious beetroot and mint houmous, which i often get when i'm at work as a side for my homemade salad.


i've now got several plants in the house - i take them on one at a time, and when i can show that i've kept one alive for at least a month, then i can purchase another... this means i can learn about the needs of each particular plant, and add the watering to my weekly routine. cyclamen and basil have been my favourites so far, so much colour and scent - perfect houseplants!


there are bluebells growing in the garden!! such a surprise when i saw them out my window for the first time, and such a refreshing colour too :)


i picked this up from Tesco the other day - i've read about this ingredient in my Ottolenghi cookbooks, but i've never actually seen it to buy. freekeh has an amazing nutritional profile (more protein than quinoa!), and is really easy to prepare.


cooked freekeh, with chickpea and veg curry, and a side of apple, radish, cucumber diced salad - an amazing lunch!


please do let me know what you've been up to in the comments box below, and also let me know if you've tried freekeh, and if so, how you cooked it...

currently listening to: empire by shakira - amazing song, a new favourite.

thanks for reading, 
i hope you have a lovely day.

Friday, 4 April 2014

my meat-osophy: flirting with veganism

a few weeks ago i was asked to share my meatosophy with you. so i want to share my thoughts on meat, and veganism, and update you on where i stand with things...

i currently follow a plant-based diet.

several years ago now i stopped drinking milk, and this was the catalyst decision that begun the whole process to learning more about eating a plant-based, vegan diet.

my journey began with reading Healthy at 100 by John Robbins - a book that i passionately recommend to anyone who is interested in health and nutrition. it is a great overview of the four longest-living people groups in the world - it looks at their diet and lifestyle and looks to find some answers to the problems faced by those living in countries with a lower life expectancy (or a lower quality of life in later years). it's conclusions intrigued me the first time i read it, and i've re-read it about 4 times since then, with a copy that is absolutely covered in highlighter and pencil marks.

from this book i learnt LOADS, and my eyes were opened to learning to question everything i had been taught about nutrition...

i've never been one to follow the crowd. i like to make decisions myself, and to look at things from a different viewpoint. i've also never been one to believe advertising and packaging, instead i always question it. i love to read and learn, and so i've done a lot of research over the last few years...

the first solid decision i made was to stop drinking milk. when you stop and think about it, drinking milk makes no sense. we artificially inseminate a cow to make her pregnant, then take the calf away after a few months, so that we can then drink the milk meant for that baby calf. yes it's nutritious, but that nutrition was meant to make a baby cow grow into a big strong adult cow. we are the only species on the planet that drink another species milk. for more on this, there's a great post on the raw vegan living blog - it's pretty long and has some thought-provoking graphics and pictures (see below).


so once i cut out milk and reduced my dairy intake, i saw a dramatic improvement in my acne. i switched to yummy homemade almond milk (see my YouTube video from many years ago giving some more reasons on why nut milk is great for your skin), as well as other alternatives like hemp milk, organic soy milk and koko coconut milk. switching milk is a remarkably easy change, and you can easily substitute these in baking.

since then, i've explored the primal diet, as well as paleo. i've watched loads of raw vegans on YouTube (dara dubinet is my favourite - so beautiful and encouraging), and i've started reading lots of vegan blogs (and pinning a serious amount of recipes). i listen to vegan podcasts - which seem to be some of the best sources of solid information and testimony (try rich roll and food for thought). i read vegan cookbooks (The Kind Diet by alicia silverstone being one of my favourites), and read up profiles on vegan bodybuilding websites (yes, you can build muscle and be fit and healthy on a vegan diet), and discover stories about ultra-athletes in their autobiographies (Eat and Run and Finding Ultra are my faves).

but until recently, i wasn't really putting much into action. i'd hear these facts and solid testimonies, and let them wash over me. i wasn't being AUTHENTIC.

recently something triggered a change in me...

i was watching an episode of supersize vs superskinny on catch-up. and in it i saw them do a fat removal surgery on someone, and when they put the big chunk of flesh on the table, not only did it make me gag, it also looked exactly like a raw chicken breast.

now i'm not one to be squeamish about such things; i was raised on a pig farm, and i've spent many hours milking cows with him on a dairy farm too. i know where my food comes from, and i know that to eat an animal means to kill an animal.

although Pete and i cut out red meat from our diet several months ago now, we've still eaten chicken. and we've made a conscious effort to buy locally reared, free range chicken.

BUT, i don't think i want to any more, and here's why:

  • factory farming is appalling - if i can't guarantee that something has been raised in a kind way, with lots of pasture and room to roam, i'm not going to go near it. it's not God's intention for any animals to suffer in this way, and i'm certain that part of the role of being a human is to protect animals, not to abuse them.
  • there are too many studies showing links between eating animals and disease. like loads. i cannot dismiss them any more. and there are also loads of studies showing the benefits of eating fruits and veggies. like loads.
  • sticking to the easy path isn't something i want to do any more. colleen patrick goudreau, the compassionate cook says 'don't do nothing because you can't do everything. do something. anything.' and so as hard as it will be, and all the challenges i will face, and though i'll probably slip up many times, it's worth trying.
  • it's better for the environment. if i actually stop and think about how many animals it would take to keep me fed in a year on a "regular" diet, it would be a lot. logically, in history people would have reared their own animals for food, and so even on that principle they'd be eating a lot less meat than we do today. there wouldn't be the same mass production of meat, causing 18% of the greenhouse gas emissions
  • vegan food is delicious! there are so many options for eating a plant-based diet, and so much information out their on things to watch out for, what to eat, and how to get full nutrition in order to thrive that i can't use it as an excuse. and with breakfasts like this (below) can i really complain?

  • i can get everything i need eating plants. i now truly believe that. but it has taken lots of reading and learning to really try and uncover the truth (i never believe the first person, i need a lot of evidence!). also through experimenting recently i notice that i have more energy, my digestion is amazing (my dodgy digestion was one of the triggers for me trying this out in the first place), and i'm excited about living out life in a more balanced and natural way. and officially i could live 6 years longer! as well as potentially cutting my risk of alzheimers, osteoporisis, cancer, heart disease etc.
  • it's cheaper - though we're not constricted by finances in our house, we would be if we started buying organic meats to eat each night, which is certainly what i would otherwise choose to do if i felt that was right.
  • i'm in with a good crowd - there are so many people out there who are vegan, and hearing testimonies has been the most powerful encouragement for me.

there are still a few things to consider: 
 - i haven't decided what i think about fish and seafood, apart from that i won't buy farmed at ALL any more and be much more stringent with checking this. i will continue to learn more about this.
 - the same with eggs and honey - until i've researched these fully, i can't say that i've made up my mind because i don't know enough yet.
 - i have decided to not be super duper strict about it - in the house i will be making a big veggie meal and adding meat to pete's portion and tofu to mine. that's quite simple to sort. but when we go out, i'll do my best to make good choices, but i won't not eat because i can't.
 - i know that to truly progress to the next level of health i need to step up my fitness, and do more exercise - so i'm currently considering different ways i could do this, and continuing with my daily walking. Pete is a fairly hardcore cyclist, and has almost convinced me that a road bike and 100mile cycling challenge would be a good idea! anyway with fruit & veg as my fuel i'm sure it'll be easier...

so there you have it. my thoughts at the moment. this is such a work in progress, and i feel as though my journey is just beginning, and i'm so excited! any advice, questions or comments please do leave them below...

thank you so much for reading, i hope you have a lovely day ♥

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

lunchbox week #08

hello lovely reader, i hope you are having a lovely day so far :)

today's post is a lunchbox post with a slight twist. there's a few more at-home lunches - i work from home 3 times a week, and on these days i usually need to whip up something quickly from the fridge. i thought you might like to see a few of these, as they usually involve yummy leftovers, and hopefully might provide some inspiration for you...

leftover thai curry with avocado and pretty pink radish sprouts


courgette spaghetti salad with sundried tomatoes, red onion and cucumber, and homemade butterbean thyme dip


herbed aubergine with mixed salad leaves, cucumber, gherkin and yellow bell pepper, with a slice of sourdough and a dollop of mayo


vegetarian ploughmans - quick and very delicious - perfect if you love to nibble...


sainsbury's freefrom chicken hotpot (a good cupboard staple for emergencies), with salad and dips


tortelloni with avocado, tomatoes, salad leaves, gherkin and vegan "cheese", and a side of marshmallows, walnuts and prunes


in the office - carrot and lentil soup with rye crispbread, an orange and some dark chocolate.


what's your favourite lunch combo at the moment?

in case you haven't already seen it - i've popped a new video up on my YouTube channel, talking about my thoughts on sex before marriage - it's had lots of lovely feedback so far, so do have a look if you're intrigued...

thanks for reading!

currently listening to: fightin away the tears by mocky - it's on my 'relaxing' playlist...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

kelp noodles with miso ginger dressing

hello lovely reader! i hope you are having a fantastic day :)

here's a quick, delicious and easy raw vegan recipe for you all - i've made a big batch of this today, for lunches for the week, and i wanted to share it with you because it really was SO simple to do, and ridiculously tasty and nutritious. it's the sort of recipe we can all do with having in our recipe folder...



kelp noodles with ginger miso dressing
serves 2

1 package of kelp noodles, rinsed in warm water and drained
1 medium carrot, shaved into thin slices
1 chunk of cucumber, cut into fine slices
4-5 white mushrooms, cut into fine slices
a handful of fresh salad leaves
a handful of cashew nuts

for the dressing:
1 Tbsp miso paste
1 dsp naturally sweetened apricot jam
1 dsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp warm water
1 thumb of fresh ginger, grated finely

1. start my mixing together the dressing ingredients. taste and check that you like the flavour, adjust according to your preferences, eg. more sweet add more jam, more salty add more soy.
2. add the other ingredients into a bowl and combine with the dressing (best done using your hands).
3. serve immediately, or store in containers for lunches.

cook's notes:
 - i got my kelp noodles from Detox Your World online, but you might be able to get them at you local health food store...
 - i used organic barley miso from my local veg store - it's the Clearspring brand.
 - i use St Dalfour jams at home, as these are naturally sweetened, and come in so many yummy flavours. you could substitute the apricot jam for any other sweetener - maple syrup, honey, coconut nectar, etc.
 - feel free to change up the veggies you add to this recipe, but i do highly recommend the mushrooms, as they go so beautifully with the dressing.



so there you have it... a delicious raw vegan salad, very quick to do and perfect for lunchboxes! let me know if you give it a try and how you found it.

currently watching: gilmore girls - loving watching this series for the first time! the mum and daughter relationship reminds me so much of my friendship with my own incredible mum.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

chinese green tea cake and polish pierogi in birmingham

hi all! if you've been following me on instagram, you might have spotted that i went up to Birmingham for the weekend with my lovely husband - we were in need of a lovely break together, and had this planned in since last autumn...

i have visited the city before, but only for a day. and i was keen to get to know this city better... it's got lots to offer visitors besides incredible shopping - cute canals, incredible architecture, excellent music venues, tasty food, china town, the custard factory (a vintage clothing place), to name but a few.

the architecture is a mish-mash of styles, from very old to very new - the new library is awesome (see the building on the right in the distance!). it's worth going in it and up the escalator to see the interior too, and then to take in the view from the deck...


we ate breakfast outside of the hotel we were staying at - and though the art deco style Centenary Lounge at Brimingham Moor Street was lovely, my favourite place was at Canalside Cafe in Regency Wharf - the BEST vegan sausages i've ever tasted.


if you're looking for a good coffee, 6/8 Kafe is the place to go - proper freshly roasted and ground coffee, and if you're a real coffee lover or someone who doesn't like coffee strong, get the Chemex, it will make you think twice about drinking instant coffee.

one of my favourite places to visit was China Town - and especially Caffe Chino, which served up the most amazing array of cakes, filled with lychee, red bean paste, green tea, and other exciting things. they also serve bubble tea! they also serve buns filled with lotus root (we got one for the journey home - it was amazing).


i got a diet coke and a green tea sponge with red bean paste cream... divine, and almost life-changing.



they also make cakes for special occasions, in different shapes, flavours and colours, as well as making vegan ones apparently. i would love one for my next special occasion!

birmingham is also the winner of the prestigious 'Britain in Bloom' award, and it shows across the city, with gorgeous bright displays (albeit aided by the beautiful sun we had at the weekend)... the gardener in me was very happy.


on saturday evening we went to a Polish restaurant called The Karczma and ate some very delicious Pierogi (the first I've ever tried) and lounged on sheepskin rugs...


we visited Custard Factory, where i purchased a vintage skirt for £3 (bargain, even though i'm going to have to take it in and up on the sewing machine), and enjoyed the cuteness of adapted shirts and Levi cut-offs. 

we ended the weekend by going to see Fall Out Boy live - who were amazing! The Pretty Reckless were the support group, and it was worth a bit of a queue to wait to see them... i did my best job of looking like a rock fan with my 'Let's Be Alone Together' tshirt (please dismiss the hair - it gets pretty warm with a standing ticket!)



so i think i've fallen in love with birmingham. i will go again. and i will definitely get tickets to some other awesome show at the NIA - live music is incredible and so much FUN!

currently listening to: save rock & roll by fall out boy - can't get this song out my head... (even if the beginning is a little bit rude)

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

apple and raisin breakfast hotcakes

it's been a little while since i shared a tasty breakfast recipe with you all...

this one is easy to whip up, and the recipe makes 3 perfect hotcakes. these are gluten, wheat and sugar free too, so perfect for those low-carb/low-gi readers out there! they take about 10-15 minutes to make.

delicious topped with tahini and a drizzle of maple syrup



apple and raisin hotcakes
makes 3 hotcakes, serves 1

1 small egg
1 Tbsp coconut flour
2 Tbsp milk (soya, hemp, almond)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 apple, diced finely
1 dsp raisins
tahini and maple syrup, to serve (optional)

1. in a mixing jug, using a fork, whip together the egg, flour, milk, cinnamon and baking powder until smooth.
2. stir in the apple and raisins.
3. add heaped tablespoons of the mixture to a medium-hot frying pan, making sure that there is only a single layer of apple.
4. fry gently on one side for a few minutes until you can easily flip them, and continue to cook on the other side until golden brown and cooked through.
5. serve immediately topped with tahini and maple syrup.

cook's notes:
 - these would work beautifully topped with homemade raspberry puree or whipped coconut cream.
 - you could also add in a little fresh thyme, for a little twist.


i hope you enjoy trying these out! it's such a lovely go-to recipe for a special occasion, or when you want to indulge a little but still be healthy.

thanks for reading - have a lovely day :)

currently listening to: fall out boy - we're going to see them this weekend!

Monday, 10 March 2014

blue skies and a falafel salad box

this weekend was gorgeous. my man came back from a long business trip away, and the sun shone bright. we walked a lot. we did some gardening. i got some lovely 'get well soon' flowers from my mother-in-law. i wore my sunglasses for the first time this year. and i ate the best falafel in all of england... i am blessed!!

i hope you are felling very happy too! and if not, i hope and pray you find new joys in your day today...

now onto an update on the last couple of days:

i'm not joking that these are the best falafel - soft, full of spice, on a bed of salad, with roasted aubergines and pickled radish, and drizzled with tahini sauce and chilli sauce. if you're ever in southampton on a market day, make sure you visit Falafel Express...


the beautiful blue sky!! (with the waving flag from the top of the falafel stand...)


this weekend started so fantastically - last Friday my mum sent me home from her's with a container full of fresh ginger tea, which is just what i need to help my bruises heal over, and was just perfect for my elevenses... (i really want to get myself this stainless steel container)


i've received my first Graze box (i'm not sure i'll continue getting them) - but i loved the popcorn bag, with very yummy popcorn, in the perfect quantity for 1 person to nibble on.


spinach and ricotta tortelloni with broccoli, basil leaves, sundried tomatoes, and a side of beetroot and butter bean hummus...


we did a lot of walking this weekend, but we had a little drive to the hardware store to check out some things for the house/garden - it's so lovely to drive in the sunshine in shades, and my man insisted on putting his favourite summer tunes on and winding down the windows - it has to be done!


as a welcome home treat, we went for a date lunch at our favourite tapas bar La Regata in southampton, where we feasted very well indeed, on a seafood platter, with lots of veggies too. like sunshine on a plate!


so there you have it, a little glimpse into my weekend... more recipes and lunchboxes to come! and i'll also be sharing my meatosophy with you, as well as an update on how Pete and i are choosing to eat in the future.... (oh, exciting!)

have a lovely week :)

currently listening to: 10,000 reasons by matt redman