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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!

Being the only vegan at a party

Being the only vegan at a party

Being the only vegan at a party

I don’t know if it has happened to you before but I sometimes feel like I am the only vegan in the village. Eating a vegan diet does make you the minority, although the number of us are on the increase, so there are things you need to accept.

  • people don’t always understand you
  • people think you only eat lettuce and carrots
  • you may be weird to some people
  • some people assume you are judging them OR that they’re making you feel uncomfortable eating meat near you
  • some genuinely don’t know how to cater for you
  • don’t expect to be catered for at parties and don’t take offence!!

As a result of this you have to be confident in what you’re doing, happy with what you’re doing and always be prepared.

Here are some quick tips to help you feel comfortable in party situations:

  • eat before you go: you wont offend anyone at the party because chances are there’s not much substantial you will be able to eat there. Eating before hand ensures you wont be hungry there so you wont get “hangry” and want to leave. You want to be happy and comfortable there so make sure you’re well fed before hand.
  • take something with you:  super easy tip. Take food with you! Share you’re food with others, it will make you blend in and people will appreciate the gift 🙂
  • don’t make comments about there being no vegan food available: in a room full of numerous “normal” eating people, you can’t expect that on top of catering for all them people that they’re going to go that extra mile for you. They have spent a lot of time and effort into preparing the party so don’t mention you’re vegan and there’s nothing to eat, simply say you’re not hungry or “no thank you” to non-vegan offerings.
  • find any vegan food you can and take it before it goes: there’s a chance that there will be a cheese board with fresh or dried fruits. Take some and pop them on your plate before they all go. Bread is normally available and if you’re lucky some salads or veggie sticks. More times than none there will be vegan options but get them on your plate at the beginning of the party, just incase they run out by the time you’re hungry.
  • don’t worry about it: at the end of the day you’re not there for the food, you’re there for the party. Enjoy the party and be social. Social environments don’t always have to revolve around food and if they do just make sure you’re prepared.

I hope these few, quick tips help you for when you feel like the only vegan in the village 🙂

 

 

Finding happiness with food

Finding happiness with food

Finding happiness with food.

There have been times in the past year (well, 2016 until now) that I have just sat back and realised how far I have come.

As you all may know, 7 years ago almost to the day, I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. The whole ordeal was a nightmare and I really was at rock bottom. Depressed, malnourished and my body giving up on me, I didn’t know what the future had in store for me.

Time passed and although the physical effects of the Anorexia had gone, the mental effects lasted around 5 years. I had to retrain myself to eat normally and not to be afraid of food. Not to be obsessing over what I’m eating or feeling extremely anxious in public environments where food was present; it was painful.

After spending days, months and years researching nutrition to the fullest I could, it wasn’t until I found veganism that I noticed changes. I knew that eating a plant based diet I could eat healthy nutritious food and it was giving my body goodness. I was able to eat and thrive. I could eat food in abundance and not worry if it was going to make me sick, if I was going to binge and purge, along with all the other mental and physical issues it would result in.

18 months into eating a plant based diet I am not only thriving physically and mentally but I am finally at peace with food. I am able to sit in social environments and feel comfortable. I am happy with my body because I know I am healthy. I don’t care that I have fat on me because I know I am healthy.

I enjoy the occasional sweet treat and that is fine. The fact I can eat a cake (albeit vegan) and not feel guilty or binge out because “I’ve blown being good” is something I never thought would ever happen. I can sit in a room of people all eating cake and not stare at it thinking “should I have some or shall I be good?”. These things that some people may think are normal or little things feel like a miracle to me!

For years I spent my time obsessing over the food I put in my mouth. Worrying over what I was eating and constantly questioning what to eat, how much to eat, if I should eat it or not. Now however, these questions are not there. I eat three main meals a day, I eat what I like and all guilt has disappeared. I snack on healthy foods but these foods I enjoy.

I enjoy eating healthy. I don’t miss dairy or meat because they don’t make me happy. When I think of meat and dairy I don’t get the excitement that other people may get. This may be because of my eating disorder background but that’s ok. I do what I do for me because it makes me feel good.

Not everyone understands what I do but that is fine. I am happy and I am content. I’ve finally found peace with food and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Now I just want to share the amazing benefits of a plant based diet and encourage everyone to just try and eat better so that they can find peace too.

Whatever makes you happy is what you should do. No one has the right to tell you otherwise because it’s only you who has the power over your actions.

Thank you for listening to me and I hope this gives you more of an insight into why it is I am so passionate about this subject.

 

Popular UK restaurants offering Vegan options.

Popular UK restaurants offering Vegan options.

Popular UK restaurants offering Vegan options.

There are so many restaurants here in the UK that offers vegan options now. When I lived in America the options were extremely limited unless I went to vegan specific restaurants. Lucky for us we do have many chain restaurants now which offer vegan options.

Most restaurants if you call beforehand will offer you a vegan option or you have to alter a dish on their menu to veganise it. For example: veggie pizza without cheese (check base is dairy free), tomato based pastas without meat or cheese. Be careful with veggie burgers as many have egg to combine the patty. You just have to play around with the menu and ask the staff questions.

See below to see which popular UK restaurants offer a vegan option without chopping and changing the ingredients.

Restaurants:

Nando’s.

Offering salads and veggie burgers, you just have to ask for no cheese and no mayo!

Wagamamas.

The only set vegan option on the main menu is the Yasai Itame. The vegetable dumplings to start are vegan as well as vegetables and edamame. If you ask the staff they will accommodate for you on the mains by leaving out fish sauce or swapping your choice of noodles, for example.

Las Iguana’s.

I was happy to see that Las Iguanas offer a separate vegetarian / vegan menu. I’ve had the fajitas before, although they were quite oily. Great to have an array of vegan options though.

Jamie’s Italian.

With vegan options plus the option to veganise a meal, Jamie’s Italian is great. The only thing I’d mention is that the Aubergine main dish is pretty small so just be warned.

Zizzi 

Zizzi has kicked it out of the bag with their new all vegan menu. Started, mains and desserts all deduced to healthy vegan choices. They even have vegan cheese! That is dedication from Zizzi’s; I salute you.

Toby Carvery  

A carvery which offers a vegan nut roast!! This had me really excited. Just be careful to avoid any vegetables cooked in butter.

JD Weatherspoon

With it’s own separate vegan menu you can’t go wrong.

Pizza Express

With their own specific vegan pizza that alone is great. However all their bases are dairy free so hop and change ingredients as you wish, and of course, hold the cheese.

Carluccios

Another fantastic Italian restaurant offering a desperate vegan menu.

Giraffe 

I know they offer a vegan breakfast which is fantastic as you don’t see this often. As for mains they have a couple of options but not a separate menu.

On the go

All supermarkets offer vegan food so when you’re on the go these are an easy option. Opt for the salad isle and get the tubs of quinoa salads, bean salads, couscous, nut salad etc. They have so many options you just need to know where to look. In the “on-the-move” section it has little variety but if you check the salads section you will be fine. For snacks you can always go in and grab some loose fruit too or possibly a raw foods bar.

Check below for some more on the go options so you’re not stuck when you’re on the move.

Cafés:

Pret-a-manger 

Offering an array of vegan options, Pret is a great go to. From salads to sandwiches to dessert!

Starbucks

Limited on choices but do offer a salad option and wrap if you’re lucky!

The West Cornish Pasty Co

A Cornish pasty that’s vegan? The West Cornish Pasty Co offer two pasties: vegetarian and wholemeal. If you like a pasty then it’s great to know this!

Eat. 

I only discovered this over the Summer time but was very pleased to see more than one vegan option. Sandwiches plus hot food! This alongside a nice hot latte is a great on the go stop.

 

What’s all the fuss about Vitamin D?

What’s all the fuss about Vitamin D?

What’s all the fuss about Vitamin D?

We have all heard about the importance Vitamin D but how much do we really know?

As the cold, dark nights set in here in the UK it is a known fact that with that comes a dip in our overall mood. This dip in our mood is largely influenced by lack of sunlight. Lack of sunlight disrupts our bodies internal clock, reduces serotonin productivity and production of melatonin. These disruptions cause feelings of depression, increased tiredness, affected sleep pattern and appetite.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a vitamin which regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. It helps maintain a strong immune system, supports our mood and keeps bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

Where can we find it?

Unfortunately, unlike other Vitamins, Vitamin D is only available to us 10% by diet. The further 90% of our Vitamin D comes from UVB rays, which during winter time is virtually impossible to achieve. Even during our Sumer months, with the use of sun cream restricting the amount of UVB we absorb and time spent indoors, it isn’t always achievable to reach our optimal levels.

Supplementation.

Due to the population only getting 10% of Vitamin D from their diet and 90% through direct sunlight, supplementation is strongly advised by Health Experts to achieve optimal levels. Public Health England recommends taking a supplementation during Autumn and Winter months of 10mcg. For those who spend a lot of time indoors throughout the year, it is advisable that these individuals supplement throughout the year, also with a daily 10mcg supplement.

Types of Supplementation.

Supplements are available by either a Vitamin D3 pill or an Oral Spray. Vitamin D is a fat soluble Vitamin therefore an Oral Spray is a preferred method as it absorbed directly into the blood stream via the inner cheek. This quick absorption means your body is able to benefit from it sooner.

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Vitamin D supplementation is just one way you can stay healthy this Winter. An active lifestyle, stress management and adequate nutrition are all other ways you can stay healthy this Winter, and all year around.

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Vegan food sources for Vitamin D include:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Plant based milks (look for added Vitamin D)
  • Soy products (yoghurts, drinks)
  • Some mushroom varieties

But remember, only 10% comes from food so supplementing is still crucial! Focus also on getting enough calcium rich food in your diet to aid in bone health.

Eating Vegan whilst travelling Peru: My experience

Eating Vegan whilst travelling Peru: My experience

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Oh Peru, you little (well, not so little…) beauty you. Peru is such a brilliant country with such diversity. I arrived looking out onto rolling hills, stepped onto sandy beaches, swam in the ocean, sand boarded in the dessert, climbed mountains and finished with a boating tour of the incredible Lake Titicaca. It seriously has so much to offer and besides from scenery, the food in Peru was fantastic.

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I left Ecuador and entered Peru with no expectations but the hope for fruit and easily accessible whole foods. Peru didn’t disappoint.

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Peru offers vegetarian restaurants and cafes almost everywhere I visited, and with vegetarian restaurants there are always vegan options.

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Secondly, not only does it have many veggie restaurants but, from my experience, your standard restaurants also offered a complete veggie section including vegan options!
Lima beans are big in Peru and are often on the menu with rice and a salad, or their local dish “Saltado” you can order a vegetarian option and it’s great. It’s like eating local just without the meat 🙂

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Quinoa grows like wild fire here in Peru so everywhere you go you will have quinoa on the menu in some shape or form (soups, burgers, salads…). Quinoa is such an incredible food and in the UK it can be quite costly, here however, it’s served like rice. It’s brilliant. The quinoa soup is to die for!

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Not only are the restaurants great but the people are also really accommodating. For example, if you have any home stays or excursions they will ask your dietary requirements and cater exactly to your needs. Not only do they cater to your needs but the food you get is really good and creative (they also have tons of avocado in Peru so you’ll eat avocado to your hearts content), so don’t worry about excursions and going hungry.

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Supermarkets in Peru are also brilliant. They tend to be large Metro’s which are the equivalent to Tesco or Walmart, so offer everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to hot food counters, dairy free milk and great bread (yes, bread will forever be your saviour in South America, trust me).

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Fruit markets; yes ! Peru offers many fruit markets with lovely fresh fruit and vegetables so pick up cheap fruits here when you can. I recommend their mangoes and papaya!

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Lastly, the wonder that is Cacao (see my Cacao post in Ecuador if you missed it!). Cacao also grows here in Peru and you can find organic cacao chocolate literally everywhere; it is incredible. Have you tried dark chocolate with quinoa before? If you haven’t, you must! It’s heavenly! There are also Cacao museums in Lima, Cusco and Ollantaytamboa (maybe more places but here is where I found them) which offer everything you can imagine made from cacao: shampoos, body lotions, lip balms, alcohol, chocolates, tea, spreads and more. It’s an awesome museum and shop and you can even have chocolate making classes here. They give out free samples of everything and with a flyer you get 10% off whatever you purchase (and I guarantee you will purchase at least an individual chocolate piece, and then go back for more because it’s so damn good), so definitely go and check it out when you’re in Peru.

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That was my vegan travel experience in Peru and I hope this helps to reassure any of you who may be travelling there. Do bear in mind that I’m staying only in hotels and do not have access to a kitchen, therefore everything I say or recommend is based around that rather big inconvenience. If you’re using hostels your life will possibly be a lot more simpler as rice is accessed absolutely everywhere and you’ve access to canned beans, corn etc. This is simply food on the go and making do without a kitchen.

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But anyway, I hope this helps and have a wonderful time on your travels.

Love, happiness and health,

Hannah 🙂

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Chocolate Cafe: Huanchaco – Peru

Chocolate Cafe: Huanchaco – Peru

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Greetings from Huanchaco – Peru !

I have had just two days here in Huanchaco and I have absolutely loved this place. One of its winning points (along with so many, of course!) is this absolute gem of a cafe: Chocolate Cafe.

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When walking and exploring this “old fishing town”, I came across this tucked away beauty, hidden beneath the bushes. I went inside and it had cute little hideaway spaces which people were occupying reading books and sipping on their colourful fruit smoothies.

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After this first visit (in which I HAD to stop and try their avocado, hummus and grilled vegetable sandwhich – incredible) I returned for both breakfast and lunch the following day.

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The food was absolutely delicious. They have a variety of smoothies, juices, salads, wraps, sandwiches and pastas. All of which looked, sounded and tasted amazing!

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The cafe is not a vegetarian or vegan specific, however they have a great variety of optIons and it’s a great place for everyone and anyone to eat at.

Prices are also really affordable and it’s chilled vibe on top of it all just makes it the perfect place to visit in Huanchaco and Peru in general.

Don’t miss out if visiting, and….

ENJOY !!

🙂

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P.S. The staff were also really nice and friendly – Bonus !

Vegan “Mac and Cheese”

Vegan “Mac and Cheese”

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Here is a healthy take on a Mac and Cheese Recipe which is easy to make, versatile and satisfying.

Coconut milk is a great substitute from cows milk and is super high in fibre, B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, calcium and magnesium. Not to be confused with coconut water! Coconut water is fresh from a coconut itself and is clear in colour. Coconut milk, which here in the UK comes in a can, undergoes a straining process and is white in colour and much thicker and creamier. Great for using in curries and soup to give a creamy consistency.

Lets get into the recipe (serves 2 – large portions):

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 200g Coconut Milk (canned, full-fat type)
  • 1/2 Vegetable Stock Cube
  • 1 tsp English Mustard
  • 2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon (optional)
  • Ground Pepper (to your taste – I like lots!)
  • 300g Pasta of your choice

METHOD:

  1. Start by slicing the Butternut Squash into two halves, deseed and place face down on a baking tray with a little water (approx. 100ml)
  2. Bake in the oven on Gas 6 for 1 hour
  3. Once cooked take out Butternut Squash and set aside while you cook your pasta
  4. Cook pasta for 10 minutes (or as packet instructions suggest) and while cooking you can scoop the flesh from the Butternut Squash and add it into a blender with the stock cube, balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, pepper and lemon.
  5. Once pasta is cooked, drain pasta and return to the pan with the “cheese” sauce you’ve just blended up and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until it heats back up and gets creamy.
  6. Season to your taste and serve with vegetables or whatever you fancy 🙂

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