Just a quick observation here.

I’m currently standing in my kitchen, very hungry and feeling quite faint, but ‘unable’ to make myself some food…why? Because I’m stressed.

My (irrational) thought process: I’m stressed because I feel I should have started work by now. So cooking will only cause me to start even later. So I should just start work. But I’m too hungry to concentrate – I need food! There’s ‘nothing’ to snack on. There’s ‘nothing’ I fancy cooking. I am so hungry I’m unable to make a choice. Why am I doing this to myself. Why can’t I make a choice. This is bad for me, I feel sick and faint. 

I’m sharing this because I want to share how stress can affect many more parts of our lives than we might think. Don’t under-estimate it. The thoughts above may sound rediculous to you, but right now it’s quite a distressing ‘block’ that I’m having to deal with. 

I also know this is only temporary.

All experiences are only temporary.

Okay I’m going to have a piece of toast and take it from there…

Jazzed Up Pesto Pasta

I was looking through my cupboards trying to make the old classic of pesto pasta a little more exciting (although perfectly fine on its own!), when I had the bright idea of mixing in some Zatar, a popular Middle Eastern mix of marjoram, dried sumac (a tart fruit), sesame seeds and salt. 


If it sounds weird, just trust me, it tastes amazing, I sprinkle it on vegan cream cheese and crackers, or dip pitta breads into olive or avocado oil, then coat it in the Zatar mix – sooo good.

So with the pasta, I simply cooked and drained it as usual, stirred in some green pesto (haven’t tried it with red yet, instincts are to stick to green), sprinkled about a desert spoon of Zatar on top, added some cubed avocado and about 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes (very optional as people either love or hate it, but I love it on pasta), then stirred it all up!

Let me know if you try it, or have any other yummy pasta go-tos! 

Zoe x

I made this in my smaller Nutribullet cup – the perfect size for a dessert! If you’re not using a Nutribullet, I think this makes about 550ml. You could also use frozen bananas to create ‘nicecream’ – with more of an icecream texture.
 

Chocolate Orange Dessert Smoothie, garnished with amaranth and cacao nibs – just to make it look pretty…I wouldn’t usually bother though, just chuck it down ya, from the blender cup even, why not…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 banana
  • 3tsp cocoa powder
  • 3 fresh dates (or soaked dried dates)
  • A few drops of orange essence
  • 2tsp cacao nibs (optional kick, note: creates texture)
  • About 8 almonds (soaked overnight is best but not essential) and fill with water to max line (about 2 cups)

OR

  • alternative milk of your choice to max line (about 2 cups)

How I Make It: 

Continue reading “Recipe: Chocolate Orange Dessert Smoothie”

Vegan Pizza Night – Morelli Zorelli Review

So after being asked to write a review of Morelli Zorelli’s vegan pizza, I have decided that this should DEFINITELY be a regular thing. Luckily there enough pizzerias with vegan options in Brighton for this to continue for a while – Morelli Zorelli have an insane 16 vegan options alone!

After a lovely woman at the restaurant read out the whole list with all the ingredients over the phone (once again, so sorry for that – I had no 3G to find the menu!), we went for:

  • Vegan Smoked Tofu and Artichoke (vegan mozzarella, smoked tofu, marinated artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, caramelised red onions)


and

  • Vegan and Gluten-Free Spinach And Blue Cheese (vegan mozzarella, vegan blue cheese, spinach, caramelised red onions).


We also were given some garlic bread (which we chose to have cheese-less) which was offered due to the short notice of being asked to review a takeaway rather than eating in – they must be popular as this was a Tuesday!


I was even considering ordering a 3rd pizza just to try a good range, but I’m glad I didn’t as these things were huge! 12 inches is the ‘smallest’ size (which we went for), with the 20 inch option probably being able to double up as a small poncho in wet weather.

Nearly an hour after ordering and our gurgling stomachs were reaching a crescendo – we were told it could take up to an hour, but it didn’t make it any easier. Finally the doorbell rang and we pounced on the delivery man (poor chap) and spread our feast out on the living room floor.

Whilst my friend went to the kitchen for plates and sweet chilli sauce (an absolute staple to dip crusts into), I tucked into some garlic bread. I had decided that in order to fully remember this experience for an accurate review, I would video myself eating. Watching these videos back is not a pretty sight: holding my phone at a low angle but still within close proximity to my face (chins ahoy), whilst talking and chewing at the same time (what, no one could see) looks….hideous.

Which is why, my friends, you will never see them.

However, to try to conjure the…beautiful…(ly disgusting) scene in your mind, here is the transcript of the first video (me eating garlic bread):

-*CRUNCH*

-“Oily…*chew, chew* very thin *chew* and crunchy….*chew chew, swallow*, not very garlicy, quite herby…*chew, swallow*…very oily.”

As you can tell, a lot of concentration went into eating with one hand, whilst simultaneously selfie-ing with the other, therefore much of my usually impressive vocabularly (ha) was lost.

I think I’ll lose the transcripts and try to translate them into something a little more interesting for the actual pizza review!

So anyway, I’m afraid I’m giving the garlic bread a mere 2/5 for its distinct lack of garlic and excessive oiliness.

And now…ONTO THE PIZZA…

Vegan Smoked Tofu and Artichoke:

The cheese looked kind of crispy so I was at first dubious as to its ‘cheesiness’, however I found that it was creamy underneath the crisp top layer, which was quite a nice contrast. The smoked tofu tasted a bit like bacon when eaten on its own, but it was cut up so small that it was more of a background flavour than a strong feature of the pizza. The artichoke cut through the creaminess of the cheese and gave a ‘fresh’ burst every now and then, which was very welcoming.

I didn’t actually notice any sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms or caramelised red onion whilst eating, and only remembered that they were toppings when I came to write this review, so either they weren’t put on or were cut up so small that it wasn’t noticeable – I’m assuming the latter. In fact the pizza could have done with a bit more tomato sauce and toppings in general, as it was quite dry towards the edges.

I was however impressed with the bread base – nice and crispy on the bottom with a good amount of ‘squidge’ on top – not really thin, nor deep pan, but somewhere in the middle, which I prefer.

On the whole, it was quite enjoyable so I’m giving it 3.5/5.

More sauce and toppings would have upped the score, but I probably wouldn’t have that exact flavour again but mainly because there’s so many to try on the menu.

Vegan and Gluten Free Spinach And Blue Cheese

Now this was quite a different beast. Firstly, the base was obviously completely different – it was definitely sweeter with a texture more similar to a hard cake than bread, but they still managed to keep the bottom nice and crispy, which was impressive. However, this sweetness combined with the copious amounts of rich ‘blue cheese’ on top, meant that I was feeling a little sick after only a couple of slices. I was however pleasantly surprised with the ‘blue cheese’ flavour – it really did taste like blue cheese, but the texture was much slimier and more stodgy than the real deal. In fact, the texture was quite off putting to me – I always had a problem with too much melted cheese in a mouthful making me want to retch before I went vegan, and have unfortunately found a similar response to vegan cheese. I once read something about the brain being able to detect the amount of fat in each mouthful, so it’s probably something to do with that!

There wasn’t a great deal of spinach on the pizza which was a bit of a shame as it would have added a fresh contrast to the sweet base and rich topping. I know my friend enjoyed the pizza more than I did, but I’m only giving it 2/5 – I think it would have been a 3 had it have been a wheat bread base, but obviously that’s not an option for those sensitive to gluten!

On the whole, we enjoyed our pizza night. I would definitely like to try more of Morelli Zorelli’s pizzas as they have such a wide range – next time I’ll go for one with more toppings or even order extra toppings, as I found their flavours got lost under all the cheese.

Who makes your favourite vegan pizza in Brighton?! I’ve now started a mission to find the *best* vegan pizza in Brighton so would love suggestions!

Zoe x

What Eating Non-Vegan For A Week Did To My Mind And Body

What Eating Non-Vegan For A Week Did To My Mind And Body

This is not a confession. Confessions imply secrecy and shame.

This is not a brag. There are no feelings of pride. But also no regrets.

I recently went on holiday to the Lake District with my vegan boyfriend, our very good friend (also vegan), and his girlfriend, who is vegetarian but is slowly cutting out animal products.

None of us ate vegan during this week.

Specifically, we ate dairy, eggs and tuna. When we got back, I told my parents that we had at least stayed vegetarian. But NOPE, not even that. In a mental blip, I had forgotten that tuna was in fact at animal, and not just an ingredient out of a can, so I guess we were ‘pescetarian’. It just goes to show how deeply entrenched the act of ‘looking the other way’ is in our society, when it comes to eating animals.

So have we decided to stop being vegan?

No. Our fundamental views on animal suffering, the environment, and personal health hadn’t changed. In fact (ignoring that week), we all aspire to live as healthily and compassionately as possible.

So how could we just ignore all of the suffering, facts and statistics and eat non-vegan for a whole week?!

Do you want the rather sad truth?

It was fun. It was tasty. It was a little bit rebellious; we were taking a holiday from our conscience.

On the 8 hour journey from Brighton to Yorkshire, eyes closed in ecstasy as we bit into gooey, Crispy Creme donuts, mouths watered as we chose toppings at Subway to go on our tuna melt subs, and lips were licked after downing SOYA frappacinos and hot chocolates (yes, ironically we still had soya over milk), pumped with extra chocolate sauce. All compassion for animals, not forgotten, but pushed to the back of our distracted-by-deliciousness minds. Unfortunately, because we are brought up to deny and ignore farm animal suffering (due to the lack of education about the topic in our society), it’s all too easy to slip back into that mind-state.

We had “fucked it’, as our friend so bluntly put it. Well and truly.

So the next day when our friend’s parents took us to Betty’s, one of the best Tea Houses in the North, did we stay vegan? I don’t even think there was a single vegan option on the menu.

A shared Eggs Florentine and cream tea later, I was starting to feel the effects – a ‘dairy high’ was quickly followed by extreme tiredness and a heavy, foggy feeling in my head. I felt what I can only describe as car-sickness – even though I wasn’t in a car.

We drove up to the lakes a couple of days later and stayed with about 14 others – all friends of my friend’s parents. Three days of prosecco, communal meals (a lot of them were cooking and eating meat, but we chose veggie options), more cream teas and a cheeseboard ensued – don’t worry, we also went on walks and enjoyed the incredible scenery!

By this point, I was feeling terrible.

I had tummy aches, acid reflux, temperamental bowels and terrible gas. We were all tired, bloated and uncomfortable.

So why did we eat this way? I guess because we knew it was as temporary as the holiday, and that allowed us to put it into perspective – one week out of the many that we ARE vegan, didn’t seem too bad. And to be honest, we just wanted to.

The main thing I took away from this non-vegan week, was a massive re-realisation that this is all just a choice, and as long as we make ‘good’ choices most of the time, we aren’t horrible people. After 6 months of COMPLETE ‘conscious’ veganism (I can’t say ‘complete veganism’ because I had accidentally eaten some animal products), I had started to think a little less of my friends who occasionally ate something non-vegan, and even vegetarian friends – I thought they were perhaps a bit weak for not being able to resist. But now that I have also ‘fucked it’, I cannot be one to judge.

Secondly, it reminded me that MY BODY DOES NOT LIKE DAIRY anymore. Whether I am lactose intolerant or not, I can now definitely confirm that eating dairy greatly affects my digestion, so I will definitely be choosing NOT to eat it from now on.

I am also enjoying that amazing feeling of making a personal change, and a small difference to the world by choosing to be vegan, all over again (although I think if anyone does this more than once, they have some serious thinking about their morals to do).

So there we go, after six months of eating strictly vegan, this experience has reaffirmed that I want to continue to choose to be vegan.

Do you have a similar story? I’d love to hear it in the comments section below 🙂

Zoe

Review: Life Food

Review: Life Food

Life Food were very generous at Vegfest Brighton 2015 and gave me lots of raw food (and vegan, of course!) goodies to take home and try. Here are my thoughts:

Crawnchies

Crawnchies, are apparently, the ‘first stackable raw food crisp’. They come in a tube like Pringles, but much much smaller, and priced at £2.49, they’re a bit of a pricey snack. However the main ingredient linseed, is rather rich, so a tube could last a day or so – depending on how hungry you are! It’s also worth noting that these aren’t your typical crisps – you’re paying for high quality ingredients, and the low processing temperatures ensure high nutritional value.

CrawnchiesHow Do They Taste?

Sea Lettuce:

My least favourite of the three; there’s a strong first taste of seaweed, which I usually like, but then a strong, bitter after-state creeps in, which overwhelms the delicate sea flavour. Strangely, this makes them kind of more-ish – if only because you don’t want that after-taste to catch up with you! I would not buy these, nor recommend them to anyone (that I like :P).

Pumpkin Curcuma:

This flavour is quite nostalgic for me; it smells strongly like my dad’s room when he used to paint with oil paints, mixing them with linseed oil. However, that’s almost off-putting, as I feel like I’m smelling paint fumes by association. The crisps have a subtle taste, mostly of linseeds, but they do also have a sweet top note from the pumpkin. I would eat these if they were around, but wouldn’t go out of my way to buy them.

Spicy Paprika:

This is my favourite flavour:. The first thing that hits you is the smell of sun dried tomato. There are more ingredients to this flavour than the first two: pumpkin, sweet potato, tomatos, carrots, onions, and garlic – it reads like a vegetarian chilli recipe, and tastes quite like it too. Sweet and salty, this is the yummiest flavour and manages to hide the taste of linseeds! It’s genuinely a pleasure to eat – not just because you know it’s healthy, but because it tastes good too. I would actually consider buying these if I saw them in the shops.

Carob Lucuma Chocolate

Carob LucumaAlthough this is called a ‘chocolate’ bar, there isn’t any actual cocoa in it, just cocoa butter and carob powder. So, if like me you’re into intense, rich chocolate flavours, then this isn’t for you! It also has a rather floury texture and doesn’t have that satisfying ‘snap’ as you bite it, nor the ‘melt in the mouth’ feel that most non-raw chocolate, and some other raw chocolate brands have. I love chocolate, so was pretty disappointed with this!

Verdict

So my overall verdict is: go try the Spicy Paprika Crawnchies for the novelty, but steer clear of the other flavours and the lucuma carob ‘chocolate’ bar.

Vegfest Brighton 2015

Vegfest Brighton 2015

Two weeks ago I went to my first Vegfest, it had moved to the Brighton Centre and was apparently bigger than ever! There were 160 stalls over two floors, and 15 caterers serving hot food. I bought my tickets a couple of months in advance and got two weekend tickets for only £8 as it was buy one get one free. I definitely recommend checking their website and getting the early-bird deals. One of the biggest aims of Vegfest, is to provide helpful information for those thinking about going vegan, and if that doesn’t do it then the array of vegan sausages, cakes and chocolates surely will! As I am already vegan, I was going with a view to widen my knowledge of available vegan brands and products, it certainly did that.

On the saturday, I was surprised at the long queue to get into the venue, but luckily it only took about 10 minutes to get in.

It was busy. It was loud. It was hectic.

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IMG_4357

There was a bit of crowding around stalls, more than once I had to snake a hand through small gaps to grab a small taster sample. In fact, we concentrated on eating as many free tasters as we could, and most of it was chocolate! After a while of this my appetite for lunch was almost ruined, but luckily it was soon regained in the queue for a delicious Jamaican meal of chickpea curry and coconut rice. SCRUMMY. There was even actual blobs of coconut flesh in the rice, making  it oh-so-creamy.

I didn’t get round to seeing/hearing any talks. There was a small section in the main lobby with someone trying to shout over the general hubbub of the crowds, which didn’t seem very appealing. I was vaguely interested in seeing some comedy, but it wasn’t signposted very clearly and I think was tucked away somewhere. If it had been more obvious I probably would have stopped to listen, but the food court and shiny new product stalls were too much of a draw for me. I think the layout in general was a bit confusing actually, there was so many doors to wings and flights of stairs, that I could never remember how to get back to a stall I’d seen earlier. Even the layout of the stalls wasn’t great, everyone was milling around going in every-which direction and blocking up the walkways as they gathered around or queued at stalls. I’ve always been really impressed with how the Tiger store in Brighton is laid out in a way that, quite simply, forces you around the whole shop, past every product, to the tills, and finally back out the door. No choice in the matter. I reckon Vegfest would have benefited from a layout such as that!

Sunday was a little quieter, no queue, and there wasn’t so much elbowing going on around the stalls. On this day I wore my feeling vegan t-shirt, and put on my best smile to try and get some goodies from my favourite stalls to review for this blog.

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It worked! I came back with a good haul and have been taste-testing them for you all week before I start writing individual product reviews.

Haul

So would I recommend going to Vegfest Brighton 2016?

No, if you want a relaxed day out with the family.

No, if you hate crowds, lots of noise, and queuing for 15 minutes for your lunch.

Yes, if you’re thinking about going vegan as there is lots of information and organisations to talk to.

Yes, if you want to cram your mouth with as many tasters as possible, like me!

Next up, I’ll be reviewing my favourite products from Vegfest (see my haul above for spoilers!) and telling you how you can get your hands on them.

Zoe