My new favourite vegan banana bread recipe

Full disclosure before we start. This is not my recipe. I am not going to at any point pretend it is. It is however delicious and a good breakfast if you’re like me and like something a little bit sweet in the morning (and is at least healthier than straight up sweets- hopefully- probably not). I also love to read reviews of recipes before I try them out so see this as more of a review of a recipe!

It’s also I think quite a versatile recipe. You can add some nuts to it if you want. Or some currants. You can add some over spices other than cinnamon if you wanted to. My friend Callie suggested chocolate chips (and if anyone knows anywhere I can get some good vegan chocolate chips let me know- milk preferably- as I’m interested in trying them out). I think that the chocolate chips would taste great with how I like to eat it this banana bread- with peanut butter on top and extra bananas.

If you are into exercising and building up muscle you could probably add a little bit of protein powder as well (maybe one with a flavour might be nice!)- just be cautious of adding too many dry ingredients. Also, if you’re trying to gain muscle you probably (maybe) won’t be eating banana bread.

However, to get to my point essentially this post is about a recipe I really like that I didn’t come up with but I wanted to share with everyone. Also, apart from the initial cost if you don’t have the ‘baking essentials’ in your cupboard you can make this recipe time and time again by just repurchasing bananas.

Banana Bread 1

So without further ado here is the recipe (I would say it makes about 8-10 substantial slices).  If you want to go it a go please give the person who made the recipe some love and here is the original link to the recipe. I found the recipe on BBC Good Food (it was literally the first result that came up when I searched vegan banana bread into google). The recipe was submitted by the good food community on BBC Good Food so essentially it was user generated recipe- and this recipe was by the user helenrothwell (thank you so much you are literally my new favourite person). All the ingredients below (apart from my conversions are from the link I stated above).

Ingredients:

  • 225g Plain flour (or use Self-raising flour and reduce the Baking powder to 2 heaped tsp)
  • 3 heaped tsp Baking powder
  • 100g Brown sugar
  • 3 tsp Cinnamon or Mixed spice
  • 3 large Black bananas, mashed
  • 75g Vegetable or Sunflower oil (weight)
  • 50g Dried fruit or nuts (optional)

I’ve not used black bananas yet with mine (mainly because I only like to eat bananas when they are yellow and maybe with a brown spot or two otherwise they are too mushy) and it was still super nice. I think if you wanted a stronger flavour of bananas then definitely go with the black bananas.

Since I don’t currently have any scales I converted the recipe into American cups (because they were cheaper to buy than scales).

So this is what I used (through some googling- so apologises for the accuracy in advance- though it still worked for me!) and might be useful for anyone who uses the American cups system:

  • 1 1/2 cups of Self-raising flour
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 a cup of light brown sugar (I think you could use dark as well but I prefer the taste of light brown sugar)
  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 3 large in my case ripe bananas (mashed by Martin)
  • About 75ml of a vegetable oil and olive oil blend

The method is also super simple, which is great if you’re like me and like baking but just don’t have the time anymore to do something complicated.

Method: (as mentioned before this is taken from this link)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Mash the peeled bananas with a fork. Mix well with oil and sugar.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, and combine well.
  4. Add any additional ingredients.
  5. Baked in a greased and lined 2lb loaf tin for 20 minutes, before checking. Cover with foil, if the loaf cake is browning. Bake for another 40 minutes (approximately).
  6. Allow to cool a little before slicing. It’s delicious freshly baked but even yummier when it goes gooey the next day!

The first time I did the recipe I kept it in my oven for the full hour but the second time I went for 45 minutes instead to see if there was any difference. There was, the banana bread was definitely more moist but a bit more crumbly- I think I definitely preferred it though.

Banana Bread 2

This one was a darker colour than my first batch, and didn’t split anyway near as much as the first did. 

Also, fun fact the first time I did this I forgot the cinnamon and already had the cake in the tin but luckily not the oven so just added it to the mixture, stirred and hoped for the best.

So there it is, my trying out of a tasty vegan banana bread from BBC Good Food from a happy vegetarian who is trying to eat a little bit more vegan and try out some more vegan food (my Mac and Cheese recipes are currently not going well though Temple of Seitan’s Mac and Cheese was really nice and I can’t wait to have it when I visit their brand new restaurant Temple of Camden, which opens on the 31st January!).

Banana Bread 3

Banana bread 5

April

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Veganuary: Thoughts and reflections

Just to be clear before you read this post and perhaps get upset with me at the moment I currently have not gone vegan for January. However, I have been reflecting a lot of veganism this month and wanted to share some of my thoughts and reflections.

First of all, I have been thinking about making more of my diet vegan. One, because it makes me think about what I’m eating more and two because it encourages me to eat more vegetables (though to be honest I’m not struggling too much in that regard). I also have been thinking about this because of the ethical aspect and while I admire people who do have a fully vegan diet; at the moment this is not something I am ready to fully commit to. I do maybe want to try doing things like having one vegan week a month and generally having more fully vegan meals however.

Another thing I have been considering is the other parts of living a vegan lifestyle, i.e. whether your makeup is cruelty free (and uses animal products) and the role of fashion within veganism. I have touched on this subject before on my blog and generally adhere to a lot of these in my everyday life. I don’t buy products that I know are made of leather  (I check what things are made of but I’m sure that I have missed some things). I know veganism often considers other animal by-products like wool and silk and while I do wear wool I do not wear silk. While I am not as studious on this as I sometimes would like to be I try my hardest to keep to what I personally feel happy with.

However, I will admit there is a bit of paranoia that lies within that. I often imagine people are policing me and I sometimes even unconsciously police other people on whether I think they are wearing leather, etc. This especially increases if I visit a vegan place to eat, which usually happens everytime I go to London. While I do believe in thinking about these things; I do think I have a tendency to over think and be critical, especially when I start to consider what people think of me.

I have recently started watching the videos of the Youtuber Qcknd and came across this video in which she discusses her transition into veganism. She particularly discusses how she regrets throwing away some of her leather items that had memories because when she first turned vegan that is what she felt like she had to do. I too have had such thoughts as a vegetarian when thinking about some of the few leather products I own. I’ve not thrown my items away as I thought that was more of a waste but I felt like I needed to sell the items, despite the fact that they do hold memories.

After, watching the above video though I realised that I was too focused on what people thought of me. My white Dr Martens have special memories to me, as does my Cambridge Satchel bag. And keeping or wearing them is my business and no one else’s. She also discussed buying items containing animal products from vintage shops stating how she has no problem with that. In the blog post I mentioned I also said that I had no problem with it but felt weird about it myself. I think this to a certain extent stemmed a little from being scared to wear these items because of what people thought.

Now, I’m not going to consciously look for leather items in vintage shops but if I like something and know I am going to care and look after it I need to stop feeling guilty about wanting to buy it. I wouldn’t buy something leather new but honestly I would prefer people use vintage items, as these are items already made (and not only that they have a history about them that I love)- throwing or not reusing these items would be a waste.

I also want to touch on the other topic Qcknd discusses, which is what to do about receiving non-vegan gifts as a vegan. I personally would only feel weird about leather items or cruelty free makeup as a gift, which luckily I did not receive for Christmas. My response would be depending who it was to be open or honest. If it was from a close relative and came from a place of love who did not realise I would accept the gift and maybe mention at another point that I tend not to buy leather goods or makeup that isn’t cruelty free.

I have talked a lot in this post about being less hard on myself but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop working towards being more ethically conscious (and this feeds into other things too- I haven’t forgotten for example about posting more information about where my clothes come from in regards to ‘fast fashion’ and sweatshops). I have switched to cruelty free perfumes, which I am very excited about but am yet to switch to things like deodorant. I have used cruelty free shampoo and conditioner but sometimes when I couldn’t afford to I didn’t. Also, to be honest I haven’t found one that works as nice for my hair. I think what everyone needs to remember you don’t have to do everything at once just working towards it is more than enough.

So essentially this Veganuary I want to reflect on how I can still bring more elements of veganism into my life but how I need to not worry about anyone’s judgement but my own. I also want to say a big shout out to all the vegans out there- thank you for bringing way more vegan and vegetarian food options into my life last year and I’m sure in the years to come!

April

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My Cruelty Free Journey

Image: Pexels (so is free from attribution, but I’m putting the attribution here in case anyone wants to use the image!)

So I think it’s appropriate to start this post by saying that I’ve been a vegetarian for quite a long time now. Although, I can’t exactly remember the year I fully committed (there were a few failed attempts before then); I think it was about aged 16. So about 5-6 years of vegetarianism is probably a good estimate.

For a while I was afraid to admit this, but at the start of being a vegetarian I didn’t really at first catch on to the other animal products that surrounded me like leather, etc. I finally did however realise and started to genuinely phase leather items out, though I will admit this was not without me failing a few times because I put fashion above my beliefs. I do now though only own leather items that I bought quite a long time ago now (and are up for sale on Depop, unfortunately no one wants them). Although, I have put my items up for sale; I personally can’t just throw those items away, as that to me personally feels more like a waste; but at the same time I feel uncomfortable wearing the items.

So basically what I am trying to say is I understand the struggle, and would never call you out for what you wanted to wear. I also love vintage clothing, and can understand why people might be alright with wearing vintage leather (or even fur, though personally, although I know it is skin like leather, real fur has always felt more ‘icky’ to me). I however do not feel comfortable personally with that either, though if you’re vegetarian (or even vegan) and want to buy vintage leather items- go ahead- like I’ve mentioned I think it’s worse to just waste the suffering of the animal and throw the item away. I also think it’s ok if you like a vintage bag for example but the strap is leather (but not the main part of the bag) and tell the store to keep the leather strap to use on another bag, and then replace the strap with a faux leather one (you can find them quite cheap online). There is then always ways to make a item work. I also mentioned the bag idea, as this is something I am considering doing- if you have any thoughts on this ethically let me know, as I’d like to hear opinions.

This dilemma is also part of the reason I decided to make this post, as I am still not fully through my transition and fully cruelty free in my life. I think part of the reason is because when I started this journey I didn’t realise how many things are not cruelty free, which I will talk more about later within this post.

Clothing 

So there are a number of different materials to consider with clothing, and those are leather (and suede), silk (there is however a cruelty free silk option so make sure to always do your research), fur, and for some people wool.

The most prolific of these items that you are most likely going to encounter however is leather, which nowadays is not that hard to avoid with high street clothing retailers often opting for cheaper faux-leather alternatives for their items. Higher end items however are mostly leather and a lot harder to avoid though Stella McCartney and Moschino (I don’t think this is true for all their range however but I know that some of their range is- so make sure to check!) are known for their leather free ranges. As for the high street just make sure to look up the product online before you buy it, as it will say if the product is made out of leather in the product description. Topshop, for example, are about 50/50 with their shoes though I’ve noticed unfortunately that more and more are starting to be leather- you can usually tell however by the higher price bracket before you even look at the item. Leather gloves whatever the shop always seem to be real leather so to be honest I would just avoid them.

If you’re looking for a little stress in your shopping routine Iron Fist shoes are vegan and free from leather, and they are known for their alternative designs. For vegan bags (and shoes I just recently realised) check out Matt and Nat ,who are on the pricey side but are effortlessly stylish and chic (definitely one for those times when you are trying to be all chic and Parisian). I’ve also noticed that Unif stock loads of vegan leather products (I’m not sure if they stock anything leather, though if I was going out a limb I don’t think they do- definitely check though), and are a great alternative brand- they’re a little like Lazy Oaf in execution but much more about the cleaner lines and tighter fit (they also have a bit more of a straight up 90s vibe going on). A lot of the amazing shoes stocked on DollsKill (like all the amazing Current Mood ones) are usually vegan/ not leather (but make sure to check, as I know they have a few styles that are leather). Also, if you’re like me and obsessed with Dr Martens (I do still have a pair that I saved, and saved for but that I feel weird wearing now that are on my Depop) then they do a vegan range. However,  unfortunately their collaborations are usually not vegan so no, Adventure Time (please, please, Dr Martens on the very unlikely chance you are reading this bring out vegan versions of these designs) or Lazy Oaf collaboration for me!

I’ve also noticed that in regards to brands like Vans, Converse and Adidas, and all the similar brands that are popular right now (due to sporty casual making a comeback) that some of their shoes are vegan, but some are not- so be sure to look out for that!

Makeup 

So makeup and whether or not certain brands are cruelty free is being talked about a lot recently, which is amazing. It also gets a bit confusing, as often I see one source telling me a brand is cruelty free and another telling me it is not. Therefore, I thought I’d sum up all the information I’ve gathered about what someone means when they say a product is not entirely cruelty free. Also, I’ve put skincare on a separate post, as I personally don’t tend to buy my skin care stuff from the same brand that I get my makeup from.

Ok, so first of all a brand may be cruelty free but that doesn’t necessarily mean their products are entirely vegan- so they may for example still have dyes in their eyeshadows like carmine (or cochineal), which is essentially made from crunched up insects. At the moment, my makeup bag is cruelty free (minus a few old products that I don’t use but just have not got round to throwing out/ seeing if a family member/ friends wants it) but not vegan, however I am striving to have it both cruelty free and vegan in the near future.

The other confusing bit in regards to makeup being cruelty free involves China. Essentially to sell a product in China, the makeup then has to be tested on animals (though makeup produced in China does not have to go through this testing so theoretically companies could sell in China and be cruelty free by having a factory in China to distribute products there- as far as I’m aware) so therefore retailers who sell in China are not classified as cruelty free, though they themselves do not necessarily test on animals.

To make it a bit simpler here is a list of all the companies that test on animals. However, there is then another issue that arises in regards to cruelty free. This is when a parent company, basically the big organisation that owns lots of smaller makeup brands (L’Oreal is a good example, as they basically own everything) is not cruelty free but the company itself is. An example of this is the brand Too Faced who are generally considered a brand in their own right and describe themselves as cruelty free with a lot of their products being vegan. However, in 2016 they were acquired by Estee Lauder who are not cruelty free. There is also a lot of other controversy surrounding the brand regarding the Youtuber Nikkie Tutorials, which I won’t get into but if you’re interested you can read about. Especially, as a lot of this as far as I’m aware is speculation. So brands with a parent company that are not cruelty free obviously are a bit of a grey area, as it means that your money still ends up going to a place that condones testing on animals. I think parent companies are basically up to each individual to decide on, but if you want to buy products from them still I don’t think it’s something to destroy an individual over (though just to note I don’t think you should ever aim to destroy an individual) if they are someone who says they are cruelty free.

Also, if you’re like me and a fan of some of the Japanese/ Korean makeup trends (mostly because they often do cute collaborations with Disney or Pokémon) I’m afraid these brands tend not to be cruelty free. For some interesting information regarding this see this post on Soko Glam, which also discusses how it is possible to sell some makeup products in China, without having to have the ingredients tested on animals.

If you’re looking for a list of cruelty free brands check out this list by Cruelty-Free Kitty, as it is by far one of the most definitive and informative lists out there. Basically, check out their site if you want to know more about going cruelty free and what brands are and aren’t. Personally, if you want great brands that are cruelty free I’d recommend Kat Von D and Urban Decay.

Perfume 

One thing I never thought about being cruelty free is perfume. Something, which was particularly sad for me to realise, as my favourite perfume of all time is Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel, and is actually very comforting to me. However, a while ago I finished the bottle Martin bought me (he bought it ages ago), and have decided from now on to only use cruelty free scents, which trust me is easier said than done (as unlike makeup the options are a lot fewer).

There are though options out there. Honey Pop Kisses in fact did an amazing post on this, which I suggest you look at for suggestions or again turn to the always great Cruelty-Free Kitty. Also, Kat Von D Beauty recently came out with two perfumes Saint and Sinner that I’m going to assume are cruelty free, since Kat Von D has took a very public stance on this, but I have emailed them to check and will update this post once I’ve received a response.

Nail Varnish

I don’t often paint my nails but I really want to more, and when I looked at my cupboard of ancient nail varnishes I came to the conclusion that pretty much all of them are not likely to be cruelty free. However, after a quick search I was happy to see, that a few brands like ORLY that I expected not to be cruelty free, are.

If you want to see a list of cruelty free and vegan nail polishes click here, or if you want to see 5 vegan nail polish brands (that are more UK based, and include brands like Barry M, who are cruelty free, with some of their products being vegan) click here. Both lists are definitely something which I think are useful to have with you when visiting the nail salon so you can quickly and easily make sure your selection is cruelty free!

Other beauty essentials 

Other beauty things you have to look out for are bath bombs/ general bath stuff. I’ve mentioned Lush’s policy in my latest Lush post for all those interested but there are some great companies out there (usually independents are a great place to look) like Geeky Clean that are cruelty free and vegan. The Body Shop, a old school cruelty free brand and fighter against animal testing has come under fire as they were recently acquired by L’Oréal (who are not cruelty free). However, L’Oréal recently sold the brand to Natura Cosmetics who are reportedly cruelty free (they have not been certified by a board like Cruelty Free International but as a company they have stated they are cruelty free).

In regards, to shower gel I know that Original Source products are generally vegan  and they do smell great. However, I have not found anything definitive to say they are cruelty free so I’m probably going to stop using them, but will email them if anyone would like me to!

Skincare is also something to pay attention to, particularly sunscreen (click the link for some cruelty free brands) but also look up whether your moisturiser, spot cream etc. contains animal products/ is cruelty free. I’d recommend trying to avoid supermarkets and bigger chains and trying to do your skin care routine from somewhere you know to be cruelty free and clearly labels their products, as being either vegetarian or vegan, like Lush (though whether you consider Lush to be cruelty free is up to you- see this post mentioned earlier). Or of course just look up your products before you buy them, though this could end up with you having to do a bit of the emailing and probably a lot of frustration.

Deodorant is something else to look out for and one of those products that I did not even think about. I have a can that I need to finish but soon as that is gone I will be trying out some new products (let me know if a cruelty free deodorant review series is actually something you’d all want!). However, I haven’t found a definitive list of which brands are not cruelty free, so I recommend just looking up your deodorant bottle (if you want me to compile a list let me know). For now here’s a list of 5 cruelty free deodorants that reportedly work and a list helpful for those of us in the UK (since I have a Holland and Barret’s really close to where I live I definitely will be trying out Dr. Organic soon).

So there we have it! My complete list of all the things I’ve started to consider on my cruelty free journey. This post is not designed to lecture you, but as a helpful guide for those looking into being cruelty free in their ‘beauty’ routine or for those who are cruelty free. Also, if I have made any mistakes in this post please let me know, as obviously I don’t want to tell people whether things are cruelty free or not, and then that information be incorrect. If I’ve missed something important out please also let me know, as a lot of this is still very new to me!

If you’ve enjoyed this post let me know, as I’d love to do a ‘Home’ (so cleaning products, etc.) version of this post, as that for me is the next planned stage of my cruelty free journey once I’ve fully completed this stage.

🍂April🍂

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Game of Thrones (Foams) Geeky Clean Bath Haul

So I’m finally back to blogging! My dissertation is done, so I provisionally have a Masters degree, and I’ve just moved into a new flat. Everything then is still definitely all systems go at the moment but I’ve missed blogging and getting regular content out so much, and I’m hoping that I can manage to start to maintain posting twice a week! I’m thinking Mondays and Fridays so there’s one post to start the week and one to finish the week off. Also, since I want to keep my main Instagram a bit more aesthetic (blame the amazing Youtuber PixieLocks who I got the idea from) I’ve got a new Instagram just for blog content : @aprilisthecruellestmonthblog so if you’re interested check me out there. I’ll still post stuff about my every day life in my main account: @aprilisthecruellestmonth but a lot of it will mostly be in my story, and my feed content will be a lot more fashion based.

However, enough of that let’s get on with this haul/ review of Geeky Clean’s June (yes, I’m behind, I know, I’ll explain in a bit) Game of Thrones themed, ‘Game of Foams’ (I appreciate the strong pun game) crate. So first of all the reason its took me so long to get to this is because in June I thought I might be moving back home, so thought I better send the crate to my mum, and basically I wasn’t able to see her to pick it up, till like a week or two ago. I’d like to note though that I actually stupidly emailed them and asked them to change it to my mum’s address in a panic, and, they were super accommodating and replied super fast! However, since Game of Thrones is currently on air, it actually has turned out to apt time to do this review.

First of all, let’s start with a little background on the company I ordered from. So Geeky Clean is an independent bath, beauty, candles (you name it) company who specialise in products based on fandoms. All their products are cruelty free, and vegan so that gets a big tick from me. I actually first saw them at MCM London Comic Con in May, and after smelling their Harry Potter ‘Butterbeer’ candle I was obsessed so grabbed a business card, and checked out their website. It was there that I saw that they do a monthly themed crate. Each crate is £15 (shipping is then £4.50 in the UK on top of that- not saying that to bash them or anything, as I have no issue with charging shipping, I’m just making everyone aware). Each crate contains a soap, bath bomb, candle and 2 mystery items!

The crate I received contained, ‘Mother of Dragons’ body lotion (scented with dragonsblood), ‘Wild Fire’ soy wax candle (scented with smoke, wood and mist), ‘Great Grass Sea’ bath sherbet’ (scented with herbs, patchouli and sea breeze), ‘Dracarys Dragon Soap’ (scented with cedar, patchouli, vetiver and fresh pine) and ‘Stallion Heart Soap’ (scented with lily, herbs and greenery).

Game of Foams

Let me tell you first of all, that it all smells amazing. The body lotion is a particular favourite of mine, because it soaks in so fast, and doesn’t leave you with that horrible greasy lotion feeling afterwards. If they stocked it on the website I would definitely buy it again, and again. I’m not sure what dragonblood is supposed to smell like but to me it smells like a fresh, smoky scent if that makes sense (and by smoky I don’t mean like you burnt your pizza smell). In fact, all of the crate smells very ‘fresh’ and like you was just in the middle of a field after hanging out with dragons, which you know is all you would want from a Game of Thrones themed product.

I have only managed to use the lotion and the heart soap so far so I can only talk about them, but they were so good that I couldn’t wait to review the rest of the products before posting this. The heart soap first of all gets a 10/10 for being so incredibly detailed and flawless. Although, it does take a bit to later up, which is probably due to the shape, once you get it going you can get a really good lather going. It’s also perfect if you’re like me and want to just use it to recreate Game of Thrones scenes.

I’ve already discussed a bit about the order process, but I’ll just go into a bit more detail for those interested. So I ordered my crate on the 1st June, and the way Geeky Clean do their monthly subscription box is that you have a few days at the start of each month (can’t remember exactly how many sorry) where you can order the crate, and they are then delivered to you at the end of the month. So my box was dispatched on the 29th, and I think as far as I remember it arrived a few days after that.

The reason they don’t just have a ongoing subscription service is because each month as a different theme, and you just really might not be interested in a theme for one of the months. Their last theme for example was ‘Magical Girls’ (which, I am so gutted that I missed).

Overall, I definitely recommend their products for someone who likes bath stuff that is a bit different and like to support smaller, independent businesses that really put their heart and soul into what they do. Also, leave me a comment if you’d like me to do a post reviewing the rest of the crate once I’ve used it. I really want to try the sherbet especially, but I mostly take showers for speed, but  I will make the effort to have a bath soon if people are interested! I also haven’t used the dragon soap because it’s so pretty and I don’t want to ruin the pattern. If you want to see more hauls from this company let me know, as to be honest it just gives me an excuse to buy loads of their products.

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