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Vegan friendly chocolate

Vegan friendly chocolate

Vegan friendly chocolate.

There seems to be a misconception that when you turn vegan you suddenly stop eating chocolate; this is not the case. There are many brands of chocolate offering dairy free options which don’t have to come from the “free from” section. If you like dark chocolate then you will find the transition easy. If you don’t enjoy dark chocolate it could take a while to make the transition however over time you will get used to the taste and start to love it.

It is possible to get milk and white vegan chocolate however it does have to come from the “free from” section because it isn’t naturally made dairy free. As a result the cost will be a bit higher than your regular chocolate bars.

Things to note:

  • not all dark chocolate is vegan so always double check the label.
  • dairy products are mostly always in bold however “butterfat” is sometimes not highlighted; so again double check the label.

Some facts about chocolate:

Chocolate is made from the cacao plant which in its most natural state is actually a health food. Not to be confused with cocoa, cacao is naturally high in antioxidants and has numerous health benefits. Alongside a healthy diet, cacao has the ability to balance blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduce arterial plaque and ultimately reverse heart disease.

Other health benefits:

  • Its high in magnesium which increases energy levels and protects against osteoporosis.
  • Cacao boosts serotonin levels and endorphins which improve mood and balance mood swings.
  • It contains healthy fats which create chemical reactions for growth, immune function and metabolic function.

I have accumulated a section of photos on my trip around Tesco, finding all the vegan chocolate I could. Other supermarkets and health shops have more choice so you’re never short of options. These are mainstream brands, where as health shops have great raw chocolate varieties (and more!) but at a higher cost.

Other alternatives include raw cacao powder (to create your own great vegan desserts/ treats) and cacao nibs (to add to snacks, smoothies and oats).

Find some of your mainstream varieties below.

Green & Black’s

Tesco’s Own

Lindt

Green & Blacks Thins

Tesco Finest

Bournville

Ritter Sport (not their mint variety)

BENDICK’S

 

To find out more about how chocolate is made, go view my post on how I made chocolate in the Amazon!

Top 5 Vegan Breakfast Ideas

Top 5 Vegan Breakfast Ideas

Top 5 Vegan Breakfast Ideas !

As a really young child I remember my Mum always saying to me, “Please Hannah, just eat a piece of fruit at least”. I guess this was engrained into me and now I would never leave the house without eating something.

My breakfasts tend to be sweet, fruity and nutrient packed. Here I share 5 great options which will appeal to everyone and anyone. Whether you have 5 minutes in the morning or 30, there is an option for you. Get creative and really try to introduce a meal to your morning, if you don’t already. For some people I know it is difficult but start off slowly and gradually you will be waking up ready for breakfast!

So why is breakfast so important?

Breakfast literally means “to break the fast”. Overnight  our bodies work hard to digest the food from the previous night. In the process of this our body uses it’s main source of fuel, carbohydrates. As a result, our glucose levels can be low when we wake. Glucose (also known as our blood sugars) is the fuel our bodies need to power our muscles and brain. When we eat breakfast this restores our glucose levels, kick starts our metabolism and re-fuels us for the morning ahead. Research suggests that skipping breakfast can result in our body tapping into our energy reserve; in extreme cases this includes energy that is stored in our muscles. All of this results in low energy and lack of concentration, commonly leading on to unhealthy food choices later in the day.

Have a look at some of the options below and I hope you start to love breakfasts like I do. If you do already then I hope this gives you a few more ideas!

Breakfast #1

Smoothies and Nicecream.

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Smoothies are fantastic for when you are in a hurry. They are incredibly satisfying, filling, delicious and transportable. Take them in the car with you, into work, on route to school. Whatever it may be, they are a quick and nutritionally packed breakfast. Simply blend together: liquid of choice (plant based milk, water, coconut water), greens (spinach or kale), a high energy fruit (banana or mango), soft sweet fruits (berries of any kind, pineapple, papaya, kiwi fruit) and an optional extra (protein powders, nuts and seeds). This combination of fruits, greens and healthy fats are a brilliant way to start the day, replenishing all your glycogen stores and more!

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Nicecream is similar to a smoothie but has the consistency of ice cream. These are amazing if you have more time in the morning as they take longer to consume. Simply blend up some frozen bananas with a little milk of choice, or wait for them to thaw for approx. 15minutes. Add into the blender variations of flavours such as:

  • vanilla
  • peanut butter / almond butter
  • soft fruit of choice: mango, kiwi, berries, papaya, passion fruit
  • healthy extras: super greens, hemp, maca, cacao, baobab

When blended into an ice-cream consistency, spoon into a bowl and top with crunchy topping (granola, chia seeds, goji berries, coconut, etc).

Breakfast #2

Oats.

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Oats are super versatile. What I love about them is that they are packed with fibre and keep you full for such a long period of  time. They are a low GI food meaning they release carbohydrates slowly into the body and help maintain glucose levels. You can make so many different variations so that you never get bored and they can be eaten hot or cold! That is correct, oats are great eaten cold and this means you can eat them on the go if you need to.

Some hot oat combinations could be:

  • banana, almond/ peanut butter, maple syrup, milk of choice
  • grated apple, raisins and cinnamon, milk of choice
  • berries, sweetener of choice, plant based milk

The recipes are endless and I’m sure each individual has their own personal favourites.

Eaten cold, soak oats overnight in plant based milk combined with your choice of extras: fresh berries, nut butter, apple, coconut, chia seeds, dried fruits, cinnamon, etc. For fresh fruits that brown, such as banana and apple, add these in the morning for optimal freshness.

Breakfast #3

Toast.

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Who doesn’t love toast? As long as you are eating a high fibre content bread and choosing healthy toppings, it is a great way to start your day. Opt for Rye, Wholegrain and Brown Sourdough for slow release carbohydrates and easy digestion. Toppings are endless but some easy, delicious ideas would be:

  • banana and nut butter (optional: coconut, chia seeds, cinnamon, berries)
  • avocado and tomato
  • nut butter and berries
  • tofu scramble (tofu cooked with tomatoes, greens, onion, soy sauce or spices)
  • baked beans
  • mushrooms
  • hummus and vegetable of choice: cucumber or tomato

 

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Breakfast #4

Pancakes.

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Slightly controversial as a “health food” but when made vegan these ARE healthy! The ingredients are the same as a bowl of porridge: oats, banana and plant based milk. This is a simple 3 ingredient recipe which can be varied adding in spices (cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg), flavourings (vanilla, almond, cacao, coconut), nuts, etc. But for simple recipe ideas follow: 1 cup oats, 1 banana, 1 cup plant based milk. Blend all in a blender and make into pancakes; its that simple. For a thicker style pancake add in 1 + 1/2 cups of oats instead. Top with fresh fruits, maple syrup, honey, nuts and seeds.

These are definitely a treat I would say, but they are an option for a special day, or weekend winner.

Breakfast #5

Cereals.

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If you are more of a cereal kind of person then cereal is an option. Make sure the cereal is as natural as possible, great ingredients, high in fibre and wholegrains, and as little refined sugar content as you can find. I personally don’t eat cereal but I know that many people do, and for some this is the only option suitable at present.

Shredded Wheat is a popular UK choice and as for ingredients it is pretty good. Try health food shops for natural cereals such as: muesli, popped quinoa, puffed rice etc. When topping your cereals opt for fresh berries, banana and a plant based milk.

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These are a variety of options for you all to try and enjoy. I hope this has given you ideas and options to try. Like I said, I know some people do struggle to get a meal down them in the morning but start slow. Smoothies are a fantastic idea as you can vary your quantities. If that isn’t for you, try with a piece of fruit or slice of toast and nut butter. You will build a habit and introduce your body to eating in the morning. Once you build up to a full meal you wont look back again. Your energy will be optimised, you will think clearer and you will kick start your metabolism for the entire day.

Don’t be afraid to eat breakfast. For all current breakfast lovers, I hope this has helped give you ideas too!

Until next time,

Have a great week!

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Raw Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Raw Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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Raw vegan carrot cake cupcakes? Yaaaaaay !!

So, I have made a couple of batches of these cupcakes to try and get the consistency more cakey, however I have come to the realisation that they’ll never quite be a cupcake consistency as they are raw of course, and carrot pulp is wet, therefore I’m working towards something that can not be achieved whilst keeping the taste on point.

I’m sharing this recipe with you because for me they taste awesome, they’re a healthy and delicious alternative to regular carrot cake and although not quite a “cupcake” texture, they look like a cupcake and they taste lovely regardless, ha ha!

I hope you can enjoy them too so let’s get into the recipe.

(Makes 5-6 Cupcakes)

NOTE: This recipe involves juicing carrots. If you do not have a juicer try blending the carrots first in a food processor or blender and then use a muslin cloth to strain as much juice out as you can.

INGREDIENTS:

Carrot Cake Base

  • 1 Cup Carrot Pulp (roughly 3 large carrots juiced)
  • 1/2 Cup Soft Sticky Dates
  • 1/2 Cup Pecans
  • 3 Tbsp Desiccated Coconut
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Ginger

Cream Frosting

  • 1 Cup Cashews (soaked either overnight or 6-8 hours)
  • 3 Soft Sticky Dates
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut water

METHOD:

Carrot Cake Base

  1. Start by juicing roughly 3 large carrots, this will give you a cup of carrot pulp.
  2. Add carrot pulp into food processor with all other ingredients and combine into cakey mixture
  3. Spoon into cupcake cases (makes 5-6 large cupcakes or more if making smaller ones)

Cream Frosting

  1. Soak cashews in water overnight or for 6-8 hours and then drain off all water.
  2. Put into food processor with all other ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Spoon and spread onto cupcakes (you will have more than enough frosting so you could always save the extra for more cupcakes, morning oats or anything else you may like to have it with!).

Leave to refrigerate overnight, then enjoy !!

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Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream

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Hello Hello 🙂

I’ve been making batches of raw vegan carrot cake cupcakes recently because it is just what I fancied and sometimes I fancy something sweet but not chocolate? For the cream topping I used this recipe and it is so delicious and moreish!

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Cashew nuts are one of the most versatile wonder foods of a vegan diet and I absolutely love them. Cashew nuts have a softer texture than most nuts and a slightly sweet taste which make them perfect for creating healthy alternatives to your non-vegan foods. My favourite uses for them are most definitely raw vegan cheesecake, cheese pasta sauce (i.e. alfredo, mac and cheese) and cashew cream. But also you could try cashew milk, blended in creamy soups and vegan cheese.

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Try this recipe as not only a cake frosting but also with fresh fruits (strawberries and cream! Yum.), filled into dates or even spooned onto your morning oats too.

It’s sweet and creamy and you will most definitely be tempted to eat it with a spoon too! So lets get into the recipe so you can enjoy it too !!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Cup Cashews (soaked either overnight or 6-8 hours)
  • 3 Soft Sticky Dates
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut water

METHOD:

  1. Soak cashews in water either overnight or 6-8 hours.
  2. Once soaked, drain off all water from cashews.
  3. Add cashews into a high speed blender or food processor with dates, fresh lemon juice and coconut water.
  4. Blend until smooth creamy consistency.

Eat however you choose!

Store in the fridge.

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Raw Chocolate and Goji Berry Bar

Raw Chocolate and Goji Berry Bar

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Raw Chocolate and Goji Berry Bar; tastes like a chewy chocolate bar but super healthy and of course all vegan!!

Perfect for on the go snacking this bar provides you with healthy Fats, Protein and Carbs to keep you full and satisfied. Not only that but did you know that Goji Berries are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A and a great source of Iron? It’s also a Complex Carb which means it is full of Fibre and won’t spoke your blood sugars!

Do you need any more convincing?

Try for yourself and enjoy with no guilt 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 Cup Pecans
  • 1/2 Cup Oats
  • 1 Cup Pitted Dates
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Cacao
  • 2 Tbsp Goji Berries

METHOD:

  1. In a Food Processor, Nutri Bullet or Vitamix, blitz the Oats and Nuts into a flour
  2. Add in Dates, Cacao and Goji Berries
  3. Pulse together until it forms a sticky ball
  4. Shape into 5  bars
  5. Refrigerate overnight
  6. Enjoy ! 🙂

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Basic Kale Salad

Basic Kale Salad

This is a basic kale salad recipe which as a basic can be enjoyed in many ways. It can be an accompaniment to a main meal, a light lunch or bulk it up with potatoes, rice or quinoa.

Here are a few little facts about the marvellous green warrior:

  • Rich in Calcium: 1 portion (80g) of cooked kale contains 120mg!!
  • Great source of folate, the naturally occurring form of folic acid in food. (Folic acid: rich in Vitamin B, supports a healthy functioning immune system)
  • Super high in fibre (keeps you regular!)
  • Rich in the Lutein: for optimal eye health (you’ll have vision like a hawk!)
  • Rich in Vitamin A: good skin and vision
  • More Vitamin C than carrots! (17 times more, gram for gram in fact)
  • Excellent source of Vitamin K: normal blood clotting and maintaining normal bones

This recipe contains lots of healthy plant-based protein, good carbs and healthy fats; it’s absolutely delicious and I hope you enjoy it 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g Uncooked Kale
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1 Tbsp Tamari (or Soy Sauce)

Recommended extras:

  • roasted and cubed sweet potato, cooked rice or cooked quinoa
  • linseeds, sunflower seeds and/ or pine nuts
  • raisins

METHOD:

  1. In a bowl mix together the juice of the lime, the tahini and tamari. Stir until it makes a paste.
  2. Pour mix over the kale and with hands massage the dressing into the kale until it wilts and is fully covered.
  3. Mix in your extras such as sweet potato, rice or quinoa and top with some seeds and rasins.
  4. Enjoy!

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Where do vegans get their protein from?

Where do vegans get their protein from?

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Where do you get your protein from?! The number one question you will most definitely be asked on a Vegan lifestyle and it will annoy you every time. People seem to have a fear about not getting enough protein in their diet and the truth is that most of the worlds’ population gets above and beyond the daily recommendations of protein intake in their diet. Now, there are complicated equations for working out your average daily intake of protein but to keep it simple just know that you will and can get more than enough protein in a vegan diet also and I am here to give you some recommendations to make sure you will stay strong and healthy in this lifestyle!

A bit of additional information on proteins for you:

1) Why is protein even important?

Well, proteins are found in every muscle in the human body and contain amino acids which are essentially the building blocks of all our cells and tissues in the body. Without this process we will feel lethargic and under energised which leaves us grumpy and unhappy (and we know that that is no fun for anyone!!). In addition to this protein helps keep us full and a full tummy is a happy tummy, right?!

2) Do I need animal protein though?

No. Our bodies cannot store protein like they can carbohydrates and this means that when we become malnourished our bodies essentially eat themselves, i.e. the muscles, to try and fuel the body. To stop this from happening it is important to keep protein intake regular and protein can be found in so many different plant-based foods which may even surprise you.

Here is a list of protein rich foods to keep you full, healthy and happy on a vegan diet. Adding one or more of these to each meal will ensure you need not worry about getting enough protein in your diet and you will be energised and full until next meal time:

Beans and Pulses:

  • Chickpeas (salads, hummus, spreads, curries, pasta)
  • Kidney Beans (stews, bolognaise, pasta)
  • Lentils (soups, stews, curries, pastas, bolognaise)
  • Black Beans (bolognaise, rice)
  • Butter beans (stews, soups, pasta dishes)

Nuts & Seeds:

  • Nut butters (peanut, almond and cashew are my favourite!)
  • Tahini (great for adding into a pasta sauce to make it creamy! Mix with lemon for a great sauce on chips or salads)
  • Sesame seeds, linseeds, pine nuts (great addition to stir fry’s or sprinkled on salads)
  • Chai seeds, flax seeds (great popped into a smoothie, mix with water to make an egg replacement in baking, addition to porridge)
  • All other nuts and seeds of course 🙂

Vegetables (yes, veg has protein too):

  • Peas (frozen, easy peasy)
  • Spinach (great addition to a smoothie, especially if you don’t like the taste as you won’t taste it at all)
  • Kale (again, great in a smoothie and a kale salad with tahini dressing is amazing)
  • Avocado (guacamole, on toast, chocolate pudding, smoothies, salads)
  • Broccoli

Grains (pretty self explanatory):

  • Brown Rice
  • Buckwheat (can be eaten raw, on top of smoothies or nicecream is delicious)
  • Quinoa
  • Oats (add into smoothies, porridge, cookies, breakfast bars)

Protein Powders (add into smoothies and you don’t taste them as they don’t taste great alone!):

  • Hemp Protein
  • Spirulina
  • Pea protein

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Now go and get some protein in your life, and if anyone asks how you get your protein (because they will…) then you can tell them this !! 🙂

Protein Cookies

Protein Cookies

Peanut butter and Chocolate, the perfect combo and high in protein too! If you are a peanut butter addict like myself you will love these Protein Cookies.

Not your normal protein cookie snack but these you can easily make yourself and save yourself some money!! No added sugars or oils like standard protein snacks, all ingredients are whole and natural so you can enjoy them without consuming the rubbish of an overpriced store brought version.

I recommend using 100% natural peanut butter because most store bought butters contain added oil and sugar which isn’t necessary, especially when most of the time it’s eaten with some thing sweet anyway.

Almond butter is a healthier alternative to Peanut butter as it contains high levels of Vitamin E, an antioxidant which rid the body of toxins! Almond butter is however more expensive so for using in large quantities either shop around or stick to peanut.

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Originally a Tone It Up – Karina and Katrina recipe but I’ve adapted it slightly.

Enjoy 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

(Makes 15)

  • 2.5 Cups Oats
  • 1/2 Cup Desiccated Coconut
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 Cup Maple Syrup (honey if not vegan)
  • 4 tbsp Raw Cacao (or unsweetened cocoa)
  • 1 Scoop Vanilla Protein

DIRECTIONS:

  1. On a low heat, combine almond milk, peanut butter, honey and cacao.
  2. Turn of heat and immediately add in oats, coconut and protein, stirring and combining all together.
  3. Line baking tray with parchment paper.
  4. Using your hands take small pieces of the mixture, form into little balls and then flatten into cookie shapes on the tray (be careful it might be a bit hot!).
  5. Refrigerate and enjoy whenever you like!