What I ate in a day (vegetarian): Shenzhen, China

For those who don’t know I’ve moved … to China! For someone who has never been outside of Europe, it has definitely been a shock to my system but in a good way. More than anything I’m excited to share my experiences while I am here so be prepared for a bit of a shift in my blog content.

Although, I did research before coming to China about how vegetarian friendly it is, the results were still a bit of a mixed bag and not what I was expecting. For someone who is used to living in such a veggie friendly place like the UK, not being able to find a vegetarian option all the time came as a surprise (despite knowing this would likely be the case).

If you’re staying long term in China and cooking at home, finding food is not as difficult (as long as you’re a fan of some of the more ‘basic’ meat substitutes like tofu, chickpeas and beans, though I’ve even found mock beef!), as groceries are cheap, especially if you stick to Chinese dishes.

Eating out is where it can get more difficult.

Tofu, for example, is often included in meat dishes in China – when I was eating out the other day, some of my friends in China found pork at the bottom of their tofu dish and from what I’ve heard that’s very common.

It is not all bad news though as although dishes will often be in Chinese, everyone provides pictures and if you stick with just plain vegetables and rice you will usually be ok (though maybe not the most satisfied). As there are vegetarian dishes in China, you just won’t find them labelled as such unless you go to chain restaurants (typically found in malls here). However, be warned there will often be hidden animal-based ingredients in sauces (you have to decide yourself if this is a risk you want to take). It can also be useful to learn how to say I am a vegetarian in Mandarin.

If you want to be 100% sure about what you’re eating when eating out, then my advice is to go to exclusively vegetarian restaurants, which there are more than you might think – at least there are where I am staying in Shenzhen. However, these restaurants will tend to be more expensive to eat out than other places in China.

Overall, my experience has been a struggle and an adjustment while I’ve been here which is why I wanted to share a sample of what I ate in a day in my first week here. At the time I was currently eating out, as I was still staying in a hotel so I didn’t have the facilities to cook but eating out for most meals is common in Shenzhen, as it’s so cheap (though as a vegetarian it will probably work out cheaper for you to cook).

Breakfast: Holiday Inn buffet

The breakfast buffet at my hotel is essentially legend among the English teachers I’ve met here and for good reason, it has great variety and it’s delicious. Although, the dishes aren’t labelled as such, there is a great vegetarian variety from buns to vegetables to noodles and rice.

I typically have been pilling my plate sky high with vegetables, typically with some rice or noodles underneath and accompanying it with some watermelon and a red bean bun (my favourite so far apart from mushroom). For those who haven’t had red bean paste before, it’s a sweet paste that is often used in deserts in China – best served steaming hot!

The breakfast buffet is definitely been responsible for me hitting my 5 a day (I think a lot of the time it’s been even more than that!) while I’ve been there and I 100% miss it whole heartedly!

Price: Complimentary as part of my hotel stay so I’m not sure!

Lunch: Din Tai Fung

I’m not going to lie this restaurant appealed to me largely because it one of the very few places I’ve seen here that had vegetarian dishes actually labelled. It was more however on the pricy side and there still wasn’t a whole lot of options.

I had a stir fried mushroom dish, with some vegetables, which was ok but didn’t quite hit the mark for me (it really was more of a side dish to be honest – which in fairness was what it was but I didn’t have main dish option!) and a red bean steamed bun shaped like a peach!

I really wish I’d got more than one of the buns as it was delicious (honestly, I thought I ordered a few and when only one came out I was devastated).

Overall, the experience was fun, especially the little bibs they gave us but if you wanted a lot of food you’d struggle as a vegetarian and it was a bit pricy!

Price: ££- I spent about 50 RMB here but you could easily spend 100-200.

Dinner: Yueyi

This is probably one of my favourite places to eat and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in Shenzhen, it’s especially a good shout if there is a group of you as then you can share dishes (which, is very common in China).

I was lucky enough to visit here with my boyfriend Martin and two friends I met in China (who I won’t name in case they don’t want to be named!) and it was great. The menu was huge but in the end we decided on a dish each (and we weren’t able to get through it all). I think this might have been because we’d all got used to a lot of vegetables and this was quite mock meat heavy – we wished we had ordered two vegetable dishes instead of one! We also did have rice to accompany this (charged as an extra), as well as some tea.

My favourite had to be the mock chicken skewers (I only wish they’d come with a dipping sauce of some kind) as well as the garlicky vegetables. Overall, I left feeling completely satisfied (especially as mock meat can be harder to come by in China).

Price: £ – Depending what you order you could spend from 30 RMB to 100 upwards here.

So there it is – a glimpse into what I’ve been eating while I’ve been in China. I hope this is useful for my fellow vegetarians. Sorry that I can’t give a lot of info about which products are specifically vegan (if you click on the earlier link about how to say you are vegetarian, it should also cover if you are vegan) but I will have some reviews of places that specifically accommodate vegans coming up, as well as tips for cooking at home.

You can also check out my reviews on Happy Cow here (I’m hoping to update it with lots more content soon).

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

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My favourite things I ate in Amsterdam: Vegetarian/ Vegan

Hi everyone, I’ve just been on a short trip to Amsterdam and managed to vlog a little for the first time while travelling there. However, I developed a cold on holiday so I filmed a lot of segments when I returned home, and I was also too nervous to vlog in public. I did manage to record some footage of me speaking in my accommodation but I’m still not sure if that will see the light of day!

If you want to see the video I’ve inserted it below. However, if you prefer reading my content to watching it all the information I mention is down below and the photographs are probably a bit clearer too!

But first I’ll just quickly introduce the video and talk a little about the clips you’re going to see. I’ll start by saying that I’ve been to Amsterdam before and one of the things I really missed out on was the food due to my budget. I wanted to focus on the museums at that point but although I did revisit two on this trip because Martin hadn’t seen them; I also wanted to try some more of the food treats I missed.

Most of the meals I had equalled about 5-8 euros. I took two water bottles with me and refilled these at our hostel so Ididn’t pay for drinks unless I was eating in. The exception was when I went to the Vegan Junk Food Bar as that was more of a sit down experience and less quick ‘fast’ food.

Despite, getting to try more options while on this trip I still didn’t have the time to go everywhere I wanted to go but I was very happy with the places I got to try! Also, this isn’t EVERYTHING I ate on the trip but just the things I think deserved a shout out.

Without further ado let’s get started and apologises in advance if my pronunciation is terrible (I tried to look everything up but it will still likely be awful). I will have everything linked below and please do correct me on any mistakes I’ve made. Also, if you have any Amsterdam food recommendations do let everyone know in the comments below. I’d love to go back to The Netherlands in the future and see The Hague and Rotterdam so all recommendations are appreciated.

Also, the person in some of the footage is my boyfriend Martin who I went on the trip with who very patiently (well sort of) waited for me to film or take pictures of the food we bought for this vlog. I’d also like to mention apologises if the footage is a bit shaky, I need to invest in a steady cam and couldn’t take my tripod with me due to space. I hope you enjoy this video regardless! But if you’re rather just read continue with reading this post (though you’ll miss out on my mad video skills, ha, ha).

The Happy Pig Pancake shop

The first place I ate at while in Amsterdam was The Happy Pig Pancake shop. I had their vegan pancake with vegan chocolate hazelnut sauce and strawberries. For a vegan pancake it tasted really eggy, which was strange but it was really nice. My only complaint was that after our twelve hour coach ride the portion size wasn’t big enough but if you were a normal amount of hungry it would be!

Happy Pig Pancakes 1

Happy Pig Pancakes 2

Martin had their Gouda pancake with chopped up vegetables as he usually prefers savoury pancakes and he said it was really nice as well.

Amsterdam pancakes

Although, I do like savoury breakfast options I have to say when it comes to pancakes I’ll always go for the sweet option. If I could choose again from the menu I would definitely try the option with Tony’s Chocolate on, which you need to try if you’re vegetarian in Amsterdam, as it’s amazing and incredibly moreish. Martin and I are definitely upset that we polished off our stash on the way home.

If you’re vegan though this place has lot of great options so I’d definitely recommend it!

McDonald’s

So don’t laugh when I say this but one of the places we really enjoyed was McDonalds. I’m always fascinated by how the menu changes across the world so make a point to at least check out the differences when I travel. I was not expecting though to find a vegetarian McChicken sandwich! From what I can tell this is fairly new but it took me right back to eating these growing up. The only thing different is the texture of the chicken but because the McDonald’s burger always never tasted as ‘meaty’ to me as say Burger King I don’t notice a massive difference.

I had the a veggie McChicken sandwich and Martin had the McCrispy which the only major difference was that you get cheese, Batavia lettuce instead of iceberg, red onion and a spicy sauce and onion compote.

Veggie mcchicken

Crispy McChicken
The McCrisy – sorry I didn’t get there fast enough to get a picture were he hadn’t already taken a bite!

If you’re a vegetarian who loves fast food definitely check them out. Unforunately for vegans when I looked the burger up the meat substitute is made with dairy so isn’t suitable for a vegan diet.

Also the fritesauce at McDonalds is very good, pay the extra 50 cents and buy it.

Manneken Pis fries

Last time I visited Amsterdam I always saw this place and was jealous of the people walking around holding giant cones of fries. I knew this time I had to try them and they were SO good.

We had ours with ketchup, fritesauce and onion on top. I thought there was an option for curry ketchup but unfortunately it was either ketchup or curry and in a panic we choose ketchup when we should have tried curry! They were still delicious though especially the fritesauce and I actually enjoyed raw onion for once as it balanced against the creaminess of the fritesauce nicely.

We made the mistake (or win depending how you look at it) in ordering a large as we didn’t realize how large it would be! From what we could see, we think a lot of people made this mistake. After just having a burger and sharing half a medium fries at McDonalds, I only managed a quarter and even Martin (who is notoriously an eating machine) had to pause and save some for later. Next time, I think a medium would be more than enough to share between the two of us.

If I tried them again I would also definitely pick up the peanut sauce, mayonnaise and onion option.

I also noticed that they know have vegan mayo too! And I’m sure if you asked you could see what other toppings are vegan (i.e. the curry sauce and ketchup is likely to be!).

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Amsterdam fries

The Vegan Junk Food Bar

There’s several branches of this restaurant in Amsterdam but we visited the ones that was closest to Museumplein for us which was the Marie Heinekenplein location. I also choose this one because I believe it serves the whole menu where some other locations do not but please correct me if I’m wrong!

This place was nestled in a ring of restaurants but stood out because of its bold, neon design. We had drawn out cash for the trip so we wouldn’t need to use our cards so we were disappointed to see it was card only there. However, we were hungry and this had been one of the places I really wanted to visit so we took the plunge.

We ordered the Unicorn Bread to start which was blue bread (everyone when they see the picture always assumes its cake!) with pink aioli.

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Unicorn bread copy

Then, for mains I had the Kapsalon loaded fries, which had vegan cheese, shawarma, jalapeños and loads of great sauces. Martin went with the original VJFB burger and some fries on the side, which he scoffed down in precisely two seconds. He let me try a bit of the burger and it was delicious and a nice chunky burger which you sometimes don’t get with vegan or veggie burgers – I’ve had a lot of very flat burgers in my time.

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As you’ve guessed everything on the menu here is completely vegan, and also very delicious. We’d definitely visit again next time we went to Amsterdam. This was also the most expensive of any meal we had as it was more of a sit down experience and came to about 15 euros each.

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Maoz Vegetarian

We actually walked right by this next option because we wasn’t sure at first if it was worth it. I’ve had lots of good (and bad!) falafel in my time so falafel as an option didn’t incite a lot of excitement for me. However, when we was waiting in line for some chips, a couple recommended it to us – so of course we had to try it after their glowing review.

Essentially, what you get is a pitta with some falafel in (I got a regular) and hummus and lettuce in and you get to choose your toppings from a wide range. There was even cous cous and I think for just the pitta it was about 5 euros so you could really pad it out and make it a filling meal with just the falafel wrap.

Martin also tried their fries but he said they don’t compare with the others we tried. The pitta and all the sauces were delicious.

They also had lots of signs with what was vegan there too so I don’t think it’d be hard to make your pitta vegan!

Maoz Falafel .jpg

Groceries

I also want to give a quick shop out to the supermarkets we visited. Albert Heijn appeared to be the most prominent chain when we visited and their location near the Van Gogh museum had a massive vegetarian/ vegan aisle, which I’ll insert a clip of with rows and rows of things like veggie bratwurst to mince and schnitzel.

We also tried the Lays Paprika crisps, which were delicious. I don’t usually venture much out into different flavours of crisps because I’m pretty stubborn but these were delicious.

Another thing we had to try is Hagel-slag which the Dutch put on their toast and essentially it’s just chocolate sprinkles on toast. My friend said that the best way is to let them melt a bit and then spread them on your toast. Definitely a Sunday morning indulgent treat!

Hagel Slag

The bread and pastries are also on a different level and Martin appreciated the vast variety of Fanta on offer.

fanta elderflower and lemon

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post and it gave you some ideas if you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam!

I’ve got another video hopefully coming up soon about my trip to Amsterdam and that’s will be a bit more about my trip in general and my accommodation so if you happened to catch the video to this blog post too be sure to subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss it. If you prefer reading my content don’t worry as they’ll be a blog post to accompany that video as well.

Also, thank you to everyone who has supported this blog and my YouTube channel in the past. I know I took a bit of a hiatus with my channel for a bit but I’m back and raring to go with some great autumn (and Halloween content).

Goodbye and hopefully see you next time!

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

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My experience at St Albans Vegan Fair

Fairly, recently, ok at the end of August (the 27th to be precise) Martin and I attended the St Albans Vegan Fair, which was the first ever vegan fair in St Albans. For those who don’t know St Albans is about twenty minutes on the train from London, and as there are so many great vegan eateries and businesses in London it makes it a prime location to hold such an event.

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The fair was held at Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre which is about ten minutes from the town centre and involves walking down (and then unfortunately later on up) a steep hill. From what we could see there were stalls outside and then a room with vendors inside (which you had to pay £3 to enter). In terms of price, I think that was more than fair but I think any more would not have been considering that the room itself was not too large (and there was only one room in total – please correct me if I’m wrong here!).

Martin and I arrived a little past 10am when it opened and it was already quite busy. Due to the size of the venue it was a little hard to see all the different vendors and get tasters of the products available so I think we missed out a little in that way. It got busier as we was there and I think if we’d have arrived any later it would have been a little hellish. However, when we arrived the queue moved fairly quickly and the staff were really nice.

To get the slightly negative element out of the way first, I do think the event could of been better organised. Like, I said demand hadn’t been taken into account, so I do believe the venue was too small. Also, when I contacted the fair on Facebook after the event to see if they had any photographs, as I struggled due to the amount of people (although, honestly, I could have tried harder but I wanted to enjoy myself!) and if they could send me a list of vendors to jog my memory of the day, they never got back to me. For reference, I can see they’ve seen the message and I messaged twice. I wouldn’t usually mention something like this but I wanted to give this as a reference to the organisation I felt was lacking at the event. I wouldn’t have minded if they responded saying no, or they’d get back to me, but I think it’s bad practice to ignore someone completely. However, I will point out that I messaged after the event and so the organisers may now be too busy to message back (this is probably not their full time job after all!) and I did not exhaust my list of contact options. This is because I only found out on writing this post about their email address (despite it being on one of the images, essentially I’m an idiot) and I’ll be honest I didn’t want to wait for a response – I wanted to get this post out!

I want to close this bit of my experience by saying I love supporting members of a community I feel close to (I’m a vegetarian not a vegan for reference) but I wanted to be honest and say that element let me down a little bit.

However, the food options truly did not.

I only managed to taste a small selection of what was on offer but it was all delicious.

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One thing I was really excited to try was Kimchi when I saw it and the event, as I’ve never tried it before! I actually thought it was great and picked up some from a brand called Love Kimchi. I haven’t had a lot of this since purchasing, as I can only have small amounts because my stomach isn’t used to it but I’m excited to incorporate some into rice dishes in the future.

Another brand I tried was Badger’s Vegan Kitchen. The texture of their egg mayo was really great. This is a great option for anyone who doesn’t want to go to the effort to make their own version, however, I have a soft spot for a tofu egg mayo recipe I made up based on a tofu scramble (probably because it’s more indulgent and I really love tofu) so I don’t know if I’d pick this up again.

One of Martin’s favourites from the samples we tried was from Vork Pie – the scotch eggs being a particular favourite. Their Vork on Mars scotch egg I have to say is particularly delicious.

There were some other great food experiences we had, which I can’t remember the name of including a lovely cheese sauce on a hot dog that Martin tried and I stole a bit of which was delicious; a seitan burger that tasted so good, Martin got one after tasting mine and a BBQ Seitan that had a amazing smoky flavour. There was also a cake stand that looked AMAZING, which you can tell by many photographs of it above but I got so overwhelmed by the choices that I didn’t actually order anything in the end!

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Apologises that it’s half eaten I forgot to take a photo! The only thing it lacked is mayo (why do people think just ketchup is enough, ha, ha). 

Another stand that was packed was vegan cheese makers Kinda.co, I managed to grab a bite of their imitation greek style cheese in oil, which was lovely, but was unable to try anything else. I definitely would love to try them if I see them at another fair but I think they are definitely an indulgent treat kind of place, as their cheese averages at around £7.00.

Martin also wanted me to give a shout out to the May Bakery where he got an Oreo cookie sandwich from which he said was delicious. I’m not as big of an Oreo fan so I only sampled a little bit but the cookie texture was on point. I definitely will be looking out for them again.

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Apart from food there were a few ‘lifestyle’ stalls including a place selling vegan bags and shoes (which honestly, unfortunately, weren’t really my style and Eden perfumes who I wrote a blog post about).

Overall, I think this was a great event for vegans, vegetarians or even omnivores, as it was honestly great, tasty food. If you’re a vegan or veggie and struggling to explain to your family that what you eat is still great tasting, this might be a good event to take them too. Honestly, everything we tried tasted great and the creativity on offer was really inspiring.

For me, I’m just happy to see the continual rise of more veggie options in the UK – I can’t wait to see the landscape in five years time!

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

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Vegan cruelty free Eden perfume review

I’ve been on the hunt for a cruelty free perfume that doesn’t break the bank for a while now. After, starting to look more closely at what I consumed beauty wise; I realised that my perfume was one thing I hadn’t thought about in terms of being cruelty free.

This may seem frivolous to some people but letting go of my ‘signature scent’ was something that was hard for me. One of my few luxuries in life had been that I liked a fancy perfume, and I wore it religiously everyday so that people often associated the scent with me. For anyone wondering my favourite scent was Coco Mademoiselle by you guessed it Chanel.

The scent ended up being comforting and grounding to me in a weird way so not being able to smell it anymore I admit felt strange. And I’ll admit to spraying it on myself in perfume shops but I haven’t bought any for a while now. I have also tried a few different cruelty free options including some of the Lush scents though I’ll admit only in store – I struggled with them because although they smelt nice, they didn’t have that perfume smell (more like body spray). I also tried Kat Von D’s Saint and though it was nice; it didn’t quite hit the notes I was going for.

So for a while I continued on perfumeless and probably more smelly (ha, ha) until recently when I went to St Albans Vegan Fair with Martin. At the fair, Eden perfumes had a stand who I already knew for being quite well known for their vegan perfumes. I decided then to smell a few and give it a go and was delighted to pick one up and notice that it smelt not like a body spray, but perfume!

It was quite crowded at the fair (and I will have a blog post about the fair to come) so I was too socially awkward to try as many as I would have liked but I knew I generally like ones with floral, fruity notes after smelling a few samples and in the end I picked up No.405, which according to their website is supposed to smell similar to La Vie est Belle by Lancôme. I haven’t smelt that perfume so I don’t know if they are similar but I’ll try to do a smell comparison test soon and update this post!

Although, the staff at the stall were very kind and helpful; when I bought the perfume they started telling me about how most perfumes contain animal products. I think this is fair enough as this was an event that had quite a lot of non-vegans (or people without knowledge about veganism) I suspect and I actually didn’t know some of the facts told to me. However, I think it wouldn’t have felt odd if I’d of asked but unsolicited it did catch me off guard a little I will admit.

The bottle at the fair was £15.00 (they are £18.00 on the website, and the lady who served me mentioned that at fairs they sell for a cheaper price). Eden perfumes also offer a refill system, which you can do either by attending a fair they are at or online. The fair price I remember as cheaper but not by a lot and they charge slightly less for the refill. I personally really love this system as it encourages less waste and perfume bottles to be made. I know some people may be put off with the online refill system, as it means you have to post your bottles but I think it’s a great idea personally.

I would also like to point out that £18.00 for a bottle of perfume for me is a great deal. The perfume I used to buy could easily get to the £60 range (though a bottle would generally last me a year with me wearing it regularly). I haven’t used this perfume enough to know how long it would last me but I suspect probably as long!

As for the scent, although this is not my perfect scent just yet, there are so many other perfumes they stock that I can’t wait to try. After researching, I found out that they have a London and Brighton store so I’m excited to visit and see what other scents I like. If you live too far away I’d recommend finding the perfume they suggest as a match to perfumes you know you like and trying perfumes within that note range. Surprisingly enough the perfume that would be my match no.83 is in the ‘Oriental Woody’ range. I didn’t manage to find this in their book at the festival, as it was quite large to swift through quickly so maybe I didn’t pick up my favourite note range! It probably explains why this perfume doesn’t 100% hit the mark for me though I do really like it.

Wear time on the perfume I’ve noticed is fairly good, and one of my colleagues at work noticed I had new perfume on and said it smelt nice! This was in the morning but I can still smell the perfume later in the day though faintly. It doesn’t wear faster in my opinion than any other perfume I’ve tried.

For anyone looking for a vegan, cruelty free perfume I’d definitely check out Eden Perfumes – they are a great, affordable option, which is always refreshing to see.

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

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Berry Smoothie Bowl with bananas (and spinach)

As some of you may have noticed who follow me on Instagram; I’ve been trying to cook from scratch a lot more recently. This has really ignited a lot of my old passion for cooking and trying out recipes that I kind of lost as I’ve got busy over the years.

While I now that a smoothie bowl is not strictly ‘cooking’, I’ll admit never being much of a smoothie person myself until recently I didn’t know where to start. After looking up a few recipes and consulting my friends, I made up my own recipe for a smoothie bowl. And still it took a little bit of trial and error to get it completely right.

I started with a just berry and banana mixture, which I posted on my Instagram. I included oats as an option because I personally prefer something a little bit more substantial for my breakfast. However, I’ve now added spinach to the mixture and a whole bunch of toppings, which makes this much more filling to me. If you don’t want to add toppings (it doesn’t have to fruit – it can be whatever you like!) then I’d suggest pulsing some oats into the mixture to give it some texture.

Smoothie Bowl 3

Without further ado, I’ll get onto the recipe. This is in American cups as the measurements (despite me being British) because a lot of the recipes I follow are usually from Americans so I’ve just got used to that system! If you google the measurements you should be able to easily convert them to grams.

Ingredients

1 cup frozen strawberries

1/2 cup frozen raspberries

1 banana (preferably ripe for the sweetness)

1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 cup plain alpro yoghurt (I use plain but you can use any flavour)

1/2 cup baby spinach

1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup to make this recipe vegan)

Optional 

1/2 cup rolled oats (add at end and blitz in the blender if you want extra texture or just mix in).

Toppings: I used a whole banana, about a handful of blueberries and raspberries, a teaspoon of chia seeds and a tablespoon of vegan chocolate chips (this would work well with dark chocolate chips or any other you want to use).

Method

Place all ingredients in blender and blend! It’s that simple, ha, ha. I like making mine the night before and adding the toppings in the morning. If you want it more of a smoothie bowl consistency don’t blend for as long (I blended mine a little too long) or add more yoghurt.

If you struggle to get in your 5 a day, I think this is a great way to get your body started. I honestly was worried about the spinach as I didn’t want to taste it in my smoothie but I couldn’t taste it and I actually think it tasted better with it as it calmed down a little bit of the tang from the berries.

Please let me know if you liked this post and you’d like to see more recipes from me. I think for now I want to start off slow with smoothie bowls and breakfasts and then maybe work my way up! I’m vegetarian so all my recipes will be veggie friendly and I’ll always make sure to include a vegan option if the recipe isn’t vegan (but most of them probably will be).

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

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July + August Favourites

I actually had written a draft of all the things I wanted to include for my July favourites but it unfortunately got lost (as, all great ideas do, ha, ha). So I’m going to try my best to remember everything in the post and separate these by the different months as much as as possible. Sorry, that there wasn’t a July favourites post last month – I actually had a lot of favourites to talk about but was struggling to get in the writing spirit. I considered not including them at all but knew I’d end up getting them mixed up with this months favourites so wanted to include them. Without further ado here’s some of the things I’ve been enjoying over the last two months.

July

What I’ve been wearing… 

Lucy and Yak

I was lucky enough to pick up a pair of Lucy and Yak dungarees from their Depop shop (where they sell all their samples for great prices!). After, seeing @porcelainnwitch on Instagram rock a purple pair I knew I needed my own. Feeling a particular kinship to Winnie the Pooh because the film Christopher Robin (which, at the time of writing I still haven’t seen) was coming out soon I knew I wanted a beige/ brown pair. Yes, I know he wears a red top but this is the association I have in my head!

I feel in love then with the Cappuccino colour so when I saw a pair for £12 on their Depop I knew I had to snap them up. I’d also like to mention that the description clearly stated the fault with the item and the brand kindly answered all the questions I had before buying! However, I honestly wouldn’t have noticed the fault without it being pointed out. They also arrived in a gorgeous bag with a lovely note so overall I can’t fault the customer service! Ever since I’ve got these I’ve been wearing them non-stop. They are incredibly comfortable and after I realised that I can just slip off the sleeves to go the toilet, practicable, in most situations.

I will definitely be purchasing from the brand in the future – I especially have my eye on some of their corduroy pairs!

Primark

When I did a big wardrobe sort out (Martin and I collectively donated about 4 bin bags to a local charity shop!); one thing I really noticed was how I had a lack of tops and skirts that would make great interchangeable outfits. I set out then to get some tops, particularly a mixture of longer ones that could be worn with leggings but also shorter ones for skirts.

I’m particularly pleased with the Winnie the Pooh top (sorry I don’t have a picture as is in the wash!) and sweatshirt I picked up, which are both adorable. The sweatshirt is a smaller size than what I’d usually get but that actually ended up being to my advantage as it meant I could wear it comfortably under my dungarees.

This is a bit of a basic but I’ve also been loving brown tops (which are surprisingly hard to find sometimes) so I loved this long floaty brown stripey top I picked up in Primark.

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Although, this next set is not a top but a top and skirt combo; I think both pieces would work well with other pieces but also look ridiculously cute together. I know that plaid and check is going to be cliched this season with everyone going for those Clueless vibes but I just don’t care.

Two piece Primark set.jpg

What I’ve been cuddling…

I can’t quite remember if I bought these in July and August (I think it might be August actually) but I love them. Although, I wish I had enough money to pick up all the characters I’m definitely glad that I picked these two up (Winnie the Pooh and Piglet) as they are my favourites from what Disney have brought out. I’m also so happy in general to see how much Winnie the Pooh merchandise is out there at the moment because of the new film!

Winnie and Piglet.jpg

What I’ve been enjoying…

Odeon LUXE seating

I went with Martin to see Ant-Man and the Wasp and the showing we wanted to see just happened to be the one in the Odeon Luxe screen so we shelled out a bit extra. I have never felt so decadent in my life. I don’t think I can go back to uncomfortable cinema seats now!

I loved having somewhere to put my food and feeling all nice and comfy on the recliner seats. All I needed was a blanket and it would have been like I was at home (the ultimate goal!).

Odeon Luxe

What I’ve been watching…

Orange is the New Black 

I’ve loved Orange is the New Black since it started and although I was initially worried about this season because of the change in setting; it didn’t disappoint. I, like a lot of people did from what I’ve read, found Badison a bit difficult to watch at times but I think the person portraying her did an excellent job.

The ending although devastating for certain characters (I won’t say anymore than that), I will admit was a little lacklustre. However, I do think that the spark well and truly does remain for the show. I’m just hoping I see some more of my favourite characters next season.

G.L.O.W 

For me G.L.O.W Season 2 definitely took the show up another notch. Where a lot of shows stumble with character development; I think this show shone. I also liked how they showed (SPOILER ALERT!) one of the girls getting injured, especially as it showed how significant it is that wrestlers are on the same page in the ring.

I can’t wait to see what the show will bring next time in Season 3. I also am hoping that we start to see more and more cosplayers and fan art from this show because it’s definitely a gem.

I tuned in for the 80s nostalgia and stayed for the character development. Even writing about it has made me want to just go on an 80s movie bender. I might just have to rematch Stranger Things, especially as it’s coming up to the best time of the year, Halloween!

Over the Garden Wall

I’ve seen a few posts and comments about the show but it’s definitely not as talked about as a show like Steven Universe or Adventure Time. It may be because devastatingly its only one season but this is *hands down* now one of my favourite TV shows ever. I’ve even had to go and purchase some of the comic books afterwards because I needed more from the show.

I also need to do a Wirt and Greg cosplay with Martin … maybe I’ll try to sneak it into Halloween! If you’ve not seen this already and are a Cartoon Network or quirky cartoon fan, please do so – it’s on Netflix (UK!) if that helps.

August 

What I’ve been wearing…

Van Gogh vans 

I have already written an entire blog post dedicated to my saga in getting these Vans so I won’t bore you all with it again. Suffice to say I put some effort into getting these and I absolutely love them. I definitely think I made the right choice with the pair I decided to pick up!

Vegan Dr Martens 

I got these on Depop very recently and I am in love. They are of course a little preloved but I really don’t mind for the price. I’ve also been wanting some of these for ages so even if they don’t last as long, I know now based on how much I love these that I’ll just pick up another pair.

A lot of people still sell second hand pairs of these shoes on Depop and Ebay for not a lot less than the original price, as they’re harder to find so I’m glad to have picked mine up for a steal!

Now, just to pick up some of the boots for the winter…

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What I’ve been obsessed with…

Home decorating 

Despite, only managing to clear out my wardrobe; I’ve really got the bug this month to decorate our flat some more. Like always I’m keen to get some new bedding and can’t wait to get my hands on this Asda Wizard Bear bedding. I’d also love to have a world map in my room and map where I’ve been, as well as generally get some more furniture – I’m desperate for a Billy bookcase from Ikea, ha, ha.

Cooking

I’ve been trying to cook more from scratch this month and I’ve been really enjoying it. Not only have I felt healthy and better about what I’ve been eating, it’s been fun. I will admit I think I need to get into meal prep though as it can be a little tiring every night.

Some of my favourite places to go for recipes is Sarah’s Vegan Kitchen (try the Black Bean Brownies), Cheap Lazy Vegan and Caitlin Shoemaker.

I’ve been really enjoying especially experimenting with different breakfasts and even went full on food instagram influencer style with a smoothie bowl (mine was less snazzy). It was the first recipe I wrote for something I came up with though (so watch this space!).

Smoothie bowl.jpg

Oat and Raisin cookies

Adapted version of this recipe. Instead of apple sauce, I used peanut butter and instead of nuts I used raisins. I also added a tablespoon of vanilla extract.

Oat and Raisin breakfast

Vegan fish cakes

Adapted version of this recipe (I used chickpeas). I didn’t use hearts of palm and sautéed onions to go in with the chickpea mix (after blending). I also used nori sheets instead of the kelp. For seasoning I replaced the mix blend they suggested with a teaspoon of garlic powder, chilli powder and paprika. I also used soy sauce as an alternative for vegan Worcestershire sauce, which they suggest on the recipe page. It was super tasty but didn’t hold very well so went to try the recipe again with something to help bind it together.

What I’ve been watching…

Attack on Titan Season 3 

I’ve not caught up yet so please no spoilers but I was very happy to start a new season of Attack on Titan. I’ve not got a lot of opinions yet as it’s only just started and I don’t want to give a lot away but I like where the plot appears to be heading this season and can’t wait for hopefully more of the mysteries of the titans to be revealed.

Disenchantment 

Martin started watching this without me because he’s rude but I’ve caught up now so we watch it together. It’s got that perfect Simpsons/ Futurama vibe where you can just sit back and watch but the show isn’t brain dead at the same time. Speaking of The Simpsons I am so upset I missed out on the Asos drop – I didn’t realise it till it was too late and I desperately need that Patty and Selma jumper in my life.

What I’ve been reading…

Marceline Gone Adrift 

I’ve wanted to read some of the comics based on my favourite cartoons for a while now but have never got round to it. I finally had enough this month and decided to pick this gem up featuring two of my favourites Princess Bubblegum and Marceline. The artistry in this graphic novel was beautiful alongside the story. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve treated a friend badly or have felt uninspired this is a story for you.

Adventure Time at its finest.

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Over the Garden Wall

I only picked up volume 1 and 2 of the comics but after speeding through the first two; I definitely need more. I also desperately want the art book for the show because it’s stunning and of course themed around my favourite season, Autumn and holiday, Halloween. I’d definitely recommend these tales to fans of the show (they fit into the main narrative of the show for anyone wondering).

What I’ve been listening to…

Ariana Grande, Sweetener 

There are some absolute bangers on this album and Ariana’s voice shines as ever. While, I will admit there a few songs that aren’t too my taste, what I do like, I love.

My favourites include: God is a Woman, Sweetener, No Tears Left to Cry and Raindrops (An Angel Cried).

The Carpool Karaoke was also great though I will admit I don’t enjoy these as much as I used to. I think they’ve succumbed to the need to get viral and have suffered a little with the connection between host and artist because of it.

Florence + the Machine – High as Hope 

Although, I’ve enjoyed Florence + the Machine;I never truly listened to them a lot just in the way I’m sure a lot of us do with certain artists. This album is beautiful though. Each song is brutal and honest in that way that makes you happy and want to cry at the same time. Hunger and South London Forever are particular highlights to me. I’d like to talk about the lyrics to them in more detail as well but I’m not in the right mood for that right now!

What I haven’t enjoyed…

I don’t usually do this but I just wanted to quickly write a note about one thing I had to discuss, which is Insatiable. I wanted to give the show a chance because although I understand the upset over the trailer; trailers often aren’t the whole picture of a TV show or film. I only managed to get 80% of the way through the first episode because quite honestly it was a trainwreck. It spent 90% of the time desperately trying to appeal to audiences with its edgy jokes that it didn’t stop to think about how the show was wildly out of control, insulting and just plain embarrassing to watch.

If anyone actually enjoyed the show, let me know, as like I said I couldn’t get further than the first episode, but what I saw made me cringe so much I just couldn’t watch anymore.

So there it is my favourites over the last two months. It’s been a rocky few months but I’m looking forward to the months to come. I’m also determined to get on a regular upload/ writing schedule again because for one thing I get fed up easily if I don’t have something specifically to do each week.

Here’s hoping this cold spell lasts (ha, ha) because I think the heat over the last few months has definitely contributed to me not feeling myself. I think I may have to buy myself a good winter coat a bit early than I though though so I don’t get caught unprepared!

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

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National Vegetarian Week: My vegetarian journey

So it’s National Vegetarian Week and Mental Health Awareness Week this week and although I would love to just spend the week doing the below; I thought I’d instead I’d take the opportunity to write some reflective content. As I happen to be a vegetarian and have been for around 7 years now.

https://twitter.com/BootstrapCook/status/995931981891416064

And to be honest I think at times being a vegetarian has been a defining moment in my life. Although, it’s just second nature to me that wasn’t always the case so I wanted to talk today about my journey to becoming the overgrown carrot I am today. I knew from around my early teens that I wanted to be a vegetarian. I had weighed it up in my head and it made no sense to me killing something that could obviously feel pain – I also didn’t see the separation between pets and the animals we eat. This by the way is not to attack anyone who eats meat (I don’t believe that ‘converts’ anyone) but just how I feel on the matter.

My first few attempts were quite disastrous. I found a bit more success with being a pescatarian (eating fish but not meat), as it wasn’t meat I was particularly upset about not eating – I only really loved the taste of tuna. However, eventually when I reached about 16 something clicked into place – I learnt more how to make vegetarian options that actually tasted nice and where and what the good substitutes were. So for anyone wanting to be vegetarian at the moment but is finding it difficult; remember never to give up.

My transition was quite a long time ago so honestly I can’t remember a lot of it! All I know is that I don’t actually remember fully what meat tastes like that, the only ‘meat’ products I occasionally miss are things like haribo and jelly babies which contain gelatine. That list also did used to include milkybar yoghurts but they now have brought out a yoghurt which is VERY similar to their dessert pots (just smaller), which has revolutionised my life.

Since my transition was so long ago I wanted to talk to Martin who became a vegetarian 3 years ago about how he found it. As I remember before he became a vegetarian he had one last Nando’s and ate a whole chicken to himself + sides (it was his birthday and I have to salute his commitment). I think a lot of people thought he became vegetarian because I’m a veggie but honestly if the way I described his Nando’s feast doesn’t clue you in; I never cared if he was a vegetarian or not. I mean, I’m glad because it makes food shopping easier but it definitely was not a ‘deal breaker’ in any way shape or form. He just decided he wanted to join me.

So let’s ask Martin about his experience, which is not going to go well as he is a person of little words. I first asked him how he found the transition and whether it was hard – he said he didn’t find it hard at all. I personally think this was because I told him where all the good veggie food was even if he won’t admit it. I’d also like to point out that he kind of transitioned by eating fish in the first few months (though literally only a few times). I then asked if there was anything he missed knowing full well the answer would be fried chicken (specifically the spices) but he has quorn so he copes – he in fact said he misses having choice, he can’t just go out and get to burger, he has to go to London (specifically here here he means Temple of Seitan).

When he said that I had to laugh though as he doesn’t know my struggle. Vegetarian (and vegan!!!) options have got so much better in the last few years. From supermarket options to eating out options. I now can go to any place and expect them for the most part to have a vegetarian option – that vegan counterpart is lagging still a bit behind but it’s getting there. I think it’s more accessible (and easier to find recipes for) good vegan food as well, which I try to supplement into my diet whenever possible. I love a good cashew Mac and Cheese (don’t tell anyone but the regular version can be a bit too rich for me), as it’s healthier so I can have more sauce but tastes delicious too.

Cashew Mac and Cheese.jpg

The recipe for this Mac and Cheese is from Cheap Lazy Vegan who I’d definitely recommend you check out, as her handle definitely describes her channel. All of her recipes that I’ve tried have also been delicious.

I’d also recommend the vegan recipes on Tasty specifically the amazing Tofu breakfast sandwich in the below video, which is amazing!

I also have tried a few recipes from Lucy Watson’s Feed Me Vegan cookbook and I’d definitely recommend her cauliflower ‘wings’ recipe. Not as a chicken wing substitute but something that is tasty all on its own.

I try vegetarian and vegan restaurants or options whenever I can and will either post them on my Instagram feed or story so if you want the low down of some of my favourite places to eat be sure to check me out there.

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It's here #myprayershavebeenanswered

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It’s easier than ever to find quick, cheap vegetarian or vegan recipes so I think we are now in the setting where it so much easier for people to become vegetarian or vegan, which explains why so many more people are.

I do think at the same time it’s important not to judge. I have not fully committed to being vegan but I try to incorporate vegan recipes into my diet as much as possible. I’ve seen people make similar statements and been attacked on social media, which I never think is the way. If someone is trying I don’t know why you would attack, or if the diet didn’t work for someone on a personal reason it’s not your place to say but ‘you’re wrong’ or ‘you weren’t committed enough’. There’s nothing wrong with offering helpful tips but I don’t think yelling at someone changes their mind – offering them support might do though.

That’s what I think I’ve learnt being a vegetarian in the last few years as vegetarianism and veganism have been talked about more and more. No one will ever be perfect, so just be honest, try to do your research where possible (i.e. if items are cruelty free). You don’t have to be 100% perfect and polished, you can change things gradually. I’m forever learning new things and exploring different options.

If you want to be vegetarian that’s great – if you want a comprehensive guide to the best options you know how to message!

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

– Blog posts Thursday and Sundays-