Black Bean Chocolate Truffles

When you think of black beans, gooey, chocolatey goodness is not exactly the first thing to spring to mind. More along the lines of savoury foods, that of Latino, Creole or Caribbean origin. However goodness, be it sweet or savoury is a key feature of these little black gems.

Nutritional Goodness

Black beans are jam packed with nutrients and fibre. Pound for pound, compared to the likes of beef, black beans contain much higher quantities of proteins.

Calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium are key nutrients found in the little beans.

They also feature a much lower fat content, no stress hormones, no carcinogens and no antibiotics.

The environmental impact of farming black beans is significantly lower as they require much less water and do not emit methane into the atmosphere.

Refined Sugar Alternative

The reason I wanted to make these truffles is because I’ve been struggling with a bit of a sugar hit addiction. Especially since I’ve had Arthur and started breastfeeding, all I want is sugar! I buy unsweetened plantbased milks and then put a sugar in my coffee anyways, all while chowing down on chocolate throughout some days. Plus the obligatory cake when I meet people out. Needless to say, my teeth are so sensitive and really feeling it! I’ve been feeling more and more groggy also so for my overall health and wellbeing, I want to take action and eat better alternatives.

We’ve also been doing a bit of research into gut health. My other half has been struggling with inflammation in his back due to a prolapsed disk – and we were reminded how inflammatory sugar can be. Although we know how bad sugar is, it’s so easy to fall back into bad habits. Especially when we’re both quite tired, it’s easy to make the wrong choices for our bodies.

Sugar V Maple Syrup

The black Bean Chocolate truffles replace the sweetness of refined sugar with pure maple syrup. I was interested to know the difference between these.

Unrefined maple syrup requires less of a process to make. The sap from the maple sugar tree is boiled down to the concentrated golden goodness we love so much.

Sugar on the other hand requires much more of a process. The sugar cane or beet are similarly boiled down, mashed then dried – usually in a factory with the addition of some chemicals to whiten it – even some use bone char meaning some sugars are not vegan!

Maple syrup however contains more calories than sugar, so just because it’s the favourable option, doesn’t mean it should be eaten limitlessly.

Maple syrup also contains a lower glycemic index compared to processed sugars, meaning the sugars are released slower and minimising a sugar spike in the blood. This would be a better option for those who have diabetes or PCOS. Having a more balanced glycemic index is beneficial for everyone.

So ok – maple syrup is still a bit sugary. But we’ve all got to start somewhere, right? The truffles contain only whole foods, meaning they are the favourable option over crappy Cadburys bournville chocolate which I regrettably have been living on.

Additionally, with the truffles, replacing sugar with maple syrup means the overall sugar content is cut back by a third (Authority Nutrition).

Black Bean Chocolate Truffles

SO! These really simple black bean truffles had to hit the spot, especially since I’ve been over indulging in treats lately. The fact they are not too sweet but totally satisfying has been a real winner and I love the cool gooey texture straight from the fridge.

Gooey

Fudgey

Chocolatey

Creamy

Nutritious

Slightly decadent

Yes I am associating black beans with decadence. Don’t diss it until you’ve tried it! What more could you ask for?

Because I’m a greedy guts I’ve doubled up on ingredients so you can always halve this to try them out.

Recipe

  • 2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp cocoa or cacao
  • 5 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp Vanilla essence

Optional (to coat when ready)

  • Crushed pistachios
  • Toasted coconut

Method

Chuck all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Scrape down the side and blend again if needed. Place the mixture in the fridge for 30 mins to cool. When ready, the mixture will be slightly more solid. A bit like play dough. Roll into truffle balls. Coat with toppings of your choice – the toasted coconut and pistachio was a winner!

Coconut Oil

We’ve been using The Natural Empire coconut oil for all of our baking (and beauty) needs. They are offering 20% off their jars of white gold for readers with the code “lifeveganstyle”.

Keep your Black Bean Chocolate Truffles in the fridge and eat within 3 days – or freeze an extra batch for another time to use within 3 months.

A Vegan Pregnancy – My Experience

Lots of people asked during my pregnancy whether I would continue being vegan. Many also asked what I will do when raising my little one. People have expressed a genuine interest in how my vegan pregnancy was and I was overwhelmed with the positive intrigue many had on the matter. I must honestly say I only experienced a couple of comments from over opinionated people on the topic of raising my child vegan. I feel like I have so much to say on both, so I will start by discussing my personal experience of a vegan pregnancy.

First and foremost, my vegan pregnancy was absolutely, perfectly healthy and magical! I have been vegan for almost four years and considering the multiple benefits I had been rewarded – I couldn’t see myself ever not being vegan. In fact I wish I had gone much much sooner in life. As I was feeling calmer, more energetic and healthier overall, I felt these benefits would be transferred to baby. I felt it was a no-brainer to continue this good vegan life throughout my pregnancy. I just couldn’t ever revert to my old ways. EVER. 

vegan pregnancy

PCOS

Having experienced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) for a number of years, we succumbed to the fact that we needed some support with conceiving. It was over a couple of years we had been trying with no results. We were totally surprised rocking up to an appointment at the fertility clinic for an invasive procedure only to be told that it can’t go ahead – because we were pregnant! It was totally out of context and caught us by surprise as we were there to seek support in conceiving. Further investigations and scans confirmed the pregnancy and the fact that my ovaries were no longer polycystic. I believe this was down to many vegan whole foods are of a low glycemic index which helps manage my PCOS. Ironically one of the symptoms of PCOS is a pot belly, so I had many years of people asking was I pregnant – it was amazing I could finally say yes! 

Vegan Pregnancy
Nutrients

Nutritional problems have never been an issue for me since going vegan. I have always been mindful of and interested in my own nutrition since going vegan. Like any pregnant Mumma, I gave careful consideration to my food and supplements during my vegan pregnancy. I maintained my vitamin B12 supplement which supports a healthy nervous system, while taking up the recommended folic acid supplement. In addition to this, I ensured I was eating a varied whole foods diet. Iron deficiency has never been an issue as many of the nuts, seeds, beans, pulses and greens are rich in iron. That’s not to say I didn’t eat other foods like vegan pizza and mayonnaise (I could have killed half a jar of veganaise with nachos). It’s all about balance after all and once your all tanked up on nutrients, that gives way for other treats.

Vegan Pregnancy

Vegan Pregnancy- My Experience

physical

I fully believe maintaining veganism actually benefitted my pregnancy. No morning sickness. No real heartburn. Sleep was good. No weight gain, besides the usual baby bump! My vitamin and mineral levels were all normal, definitely not lacking in anything. I understand every pregnancy is different – and my next one could very well include all of the above. I do however believe veganism has contributed somewhat to a relatively easy pregnancy.

Emotional

That’s not to say everything was plain sailing. The main issues in pregnancy I experienced were emotional and stress related. I was tearful at times with the odd mood swing and tiredness. that is to be expected with the rapid change of hormones and the growing of an actual human! Contributing To some of this to a high intensity job as a community mental health nurse and other general life stressors. Reflecting back on this period now and I barely even recall being hormonal, but it’s still very vivid for my other half. I think he might be traumatised! I love how my maternal instincts allows me to forget some of the rocky and painful bits which I feel is preparing me for baby number two!



Truth

My initial switch to veganism, I must say how it has massively benefited my mental health. Previously prone to stress, migraines and feeling a bit low and vacant. Veganism gave me a sense of clarity and serenity that I’ve never felt before. I believe there’s real value in you are what you eat. Veganism gave me more of a purpose and made food a thousand times more exciting!

And let’s face the realities of what is actually in meat and dairy. Ample amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, the hormone that causes stiffness and rigamortis when death sets in. Then whatever chemicals they use to make the corpse floppy again, antibiotics, blood, puss etc. I certainly did not want to feed my tiny growing baby these. What I chose instead is vibrant, alive, whole rainbow foods. There’s nothing more satisfying than a bursting, colourful fridge full of fruits and veggies after a market haul. 

Pregnant women are advised to cut out so many foods due to risk of salmonella to baby. These include mayonnaise (contains raw egg), shell fish, raw fish, rare and bone cut meats, soft cheeses. Helpfully though, being vegan means you will not miss any of these because you don’t eat them anyways! The only thing I had to be careful of was beansprouts due to risk of listeria.

A New Beginning

After a whopping forty one weeks pregnant…

vegan baby

… we were blessed with the most special little boy on the 24th July 2017. Super chilled and a week late, our healthy vegan baby Arthur Bear landed earth side a whole 9.9lb. We were blown away by how big he was (no pun intended in relation to my vagina) and he is a real testament that vegans are not lacking, we are not weak, we are not wasting away! Instead we are pumped full of the plant goodness and absolutely thriving!

It’s also important to remember to trust your own motherly instinct. People are so quick to offer judgements and advise once you have a baby, so take what you please from this and remember Mumma knows best!


Here he is three months old and packing the pounds so much I’m struggling to lift him!

Looking forward to sharing more on what specific plant based foods were a favourite for me during my vegan pregnancy, postpartum and for breastfeeding. I am excited to share more with you about vegan parenting life.

Please do let me know if you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you.

Disclaimer: this is not intended to be medical advice

Kit and Kin Review

Nothing motivates and interests me more recently than striving towards zero waste goals. I am constantly in awe of those who are living a zero waste life and think it’s not only awesome but completely necessary to take action against the monster that is plastic. I’m nowhere near where I need to be but continue to make small steps and learn along the way. 

The Environment 

Ever since turning vegan almost four years ago I suddenly had an increasing awareness of how my eating habits were impacting on the environment. Roll that forward and I’m constantly aware of how my consumerism overall adds to this. Throw in a brand new little person my mind is in overdrive! Considering newborns are like nappy and clothes change conveyor belt, I had to take some action so I don’t choose complete convenience over environmental impact. I also want Arthur to know I’ve done my best for the future earth he will live in. 

When I was pregnant with Arthur I had somewhat of an idea on what to expect in relation to nappy changes, but started to freak out when I discovered your average nappy takes almost 500 years to break down. 500 years. Let that sink in. It’s an insane amount of time for one nappy, let alone the 11 he was going through in a day as a newborn – averaging around 4000 a year. We could have our own disgusting shitty nappy colony. 

Unfortunately reusable nappies are not a possibility for us currently. We’re in a one bed flat, prone to dampness and mould with half a drum washing machine. Oh yeah and we live in Britain which means drying clothes is almost zero to none come September through to April. The washing is already out the door with little man. 



Kit and Kin

Drum roll our solution! Kit and Kin nappies. These are eco-friendly, chemical free and low and behold BIODEGRADABLE nappies! It’s like my prayers were answered when I discovered them. The nappies are made with naturally derived, plant-based materials. They remain absorbent to keep little one dry and comfortable. They have all the features of your standard nappies, such as protective cuffs (or flood barriers as I like to call them) to prevent those dreaded poo explosions or sneaky wee leaks in the night resulting in a whole outfit change. The only thing missing is the pH yellow/blue strip indicator, however it’s pretty easy to figure out by touching the nappy whether it’s ready to be changed. 

Kit and Kin have also produced a very clever biodegradable nappy bag. It’s made from a sustainable corn based film that is 100% compostable. They come in handy when on the go as I don’t tend to use nappy sacks when we’re at home. 



The Baby 



There is such an overwhelming amount of baby products on the market. One thing I have been wary of with baby products is almost bogus claims. Many brands claim to be natural, however looking beyond this is usually a list of chemicals, irritants and yucky stuff. Arthur’s sensitive newborn skin is still developing so I wouldn’t want to compromise it, especially since it is prone to dryness. Luckily Kit and Kin nappies are kind and gentle on his booty, with chlorine free pulp. It does make me question whether chlorine is completely necessary in babies nappies. Even better that co-founder and Mumma Emma Bunton developed these products following her little ones having excema – that is passion right there! 

Also developed by Kit and Kin is a whole bath and skincare range. We’ve been using the baby body oil after bath time which smells beautiful and is calming for both of us to rub it all over his little bod. All the ingredients are organic and naturally derived from fruit, herb and seed oils. 



The Animals
I also find it ironic how many baby products portray happy little animals, when in reality these big companies products are environmental cling ons, test on animals and prioritise profits over care. Kit and Kin don’t test on animals and use plant based inks to print the super cute animals prints on the back. I say Kit and Kin are allowed to have happy little animals on their nappies because for every ten subscriptions on their nappy bundles, they purchase one acre of rainforest through World Land Trust. This helps preserve vital ecosystems for the worlds most vulnerable wildlife. That’s pretty awesome. 

I recently spoke to Kit and Kins co-founder Chris about his passion for the environment, with future goals of a nappy that creates renewable energy! So inspiring to hear of a company that truly has our babies and earths futures in the forefront of their ethos. 

Overall Kit and Kin have been a reliable and reassuring product. They make making a difference easy, especially in the whirlwind of having a newborn. Although they are slightly on the pricier side of nappies, this is sometimes the case with more conscious products. A discount is available for monthly nappy subscriptions. I will not rule out reusable nappies once we have the proper facilities to use them (we’re getting a new super washing machine hopefully!!), but Kit and Kin are a great start in achieving our goals in being a zero waste household.


Disclosure: I had the benefit of Kit and Kin send me some samples of their nappy and skin care range for an honest review. All the words are my own. 

Cafe Van Gogh


I am so excited to share with you my experience at Cafe Van Gogh. The wonderful Precious Vegan invited me to share this with her after a sweet morning of yoga on Southbank.

Where and what

Cafe Van Gogh started out as a vegetarian restaurant – celebrating more recently turning all vegan! As you can probably tell I was loving life trying out the hearty, home cooked menu.

Cafe Van Gogh resides in a listed building, in between Brixton and Oval. I was wondering why it took its name after the notorious artist until I discovered he once lived in the building around the corner in the 1830’s. A bit of history for you there. 

The venue itself has a couple of different feels, from the cosy cafe vibe inside with candles to the beautiful terrace outside with the trickling fountain and beautiful flowers. They also have a private hire area upstairs suitable for birthday bashes or work parties – with a view for soon to be BYOB. 

Social Enterprise 

Not only is it now an all vegan restaurant, Cafe Van Gogh has the added benefit of having a social mission. Being a social enterprise business, they reinvest in the local community by providing opportunities for local youth and for people with mental health and learning difficulties to gain real skills in the kitchen. 
They’ve now got a link with a local primary school in Brixton who supplies the kitchen with local, organic and seasonal vegetables. And to top it off, Cafe Van Gogh offers food nutrition workshops to share their expertise. 

The staff are attentive and friendly, advising us on what to order so we could maximise the tastiest treats on the menu. 

So down to the food! 


The menu is so varied with beautiful inspired tastes. The main influences are Carribean and South Asian dishes, alongside some veganised comfort foods. 

First of all the portions are so generous. So you can certainly fill your boots. You might like us, get excited and want to try a bit of everything. Here’s what we ordered:

Mains:

Sri-Lankan Pulled jackfruit and Aubergine stuffed chapatti, dhal, salad and pineapple chutney. This was a delicious blend of flavours on one plate. The jackfruit and chutney were a win for me.

Seitan ribs

Famous Seitan Sticky Ribs with grilled corn and bacon butter, potato and pickled onion and salad. This was in the owners words – hangover heaven! I found this was the most filling of the mains. It was hearty, sticky and messy – as far as ribs go. I’ve always been a fan of sticky BBQ sauce. I sometimes get a little weirded out by some mock meats but knowing what seitan is was reassuring. The whole dish was tasty especially with the well thought out trimmings. People often ask what’s the point in being vegan and having mock meats – but if I’m honest growing up eating meat, some meals bring back fond memories, despite the concept of meat making me feel a bit queesy now. I personally have fond memories as a child of sticky ribs from Roches Stores in the Square after doing a big shop with my Mam. 

Sides:

Jerk Plantain

Jerk Plantain with smoky beans, brown rice and mango salsa. This was delicious with the spice just perfect. 

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese – this side dish was made avoiding the usual highly processed vegan cheese. The cheese is made from a base of whole foods – butternut squash and nooch – it made this dish a little less guilty amongst our feast and more nutritious.

Desserts

Black Forrest Oreo Sundae – this was naturally my favourite dessert as black forrest has always been a classic for me. So nice that it is served up vegan here.


Sticky Toffee Pudding with hot toffee sauce and cream – this was so good and luscious as sticky toffee pudding goes. You might want to save some room for this though, if you can! 


Drinks

  • Iced tumeric lattes – so good we drank them dry of it! Ok it was a hot day. 
  • Oat milk latte 

All in all – gastronomic alchemists some might say. Cafe Van Gogh have nailed all the latest vegan food trends. You will certainly leave with a satisfied palate and a full belly. All this with the added satisfaction that they are making a real difference in the local area, which personally makes my heart sing! Cafe Van Gogh is a hidden gem amongst the hustle and bustle of busy London. 

They are also now running a competition to eat free for a month – click this link to follow to their website. 

Thanks to Cafe Van Gogh for this delicious food experience. 

Nosh Vegan Afternoon Tea

Enjoy a wonderful dining experience by booking a vegan afternoon tea at Nosh’s Kitchen, La Suite West.

Vegan Afternoon Tea

Having spent an afternoon at Nosh Garden Kitchen previously – I was really keen to return to try out the famous vegan afternoon tea. Many people had recommended Nosh’s afternoon tea at La Suite West – even on the Vegans in London Facebook group this was coming out on top for recommendations. I’ve written about Nosh’s tranquil garden terrace at La Suite West previously, part of the reason I was so keen to return.

Although it was a rainy London day – the leafy roof protected us and still enabled an al fresco dining experience. It is like a leafy oasis on the terrace.

La Suite West
Once again, I was not disappointed with the experience or the food. Nosh’s twist on a classic afternoon tea, a la vegan was a special treat to share with a good friend. Despite afternoon tea being quite a traditional concept, Nosh have made it contemporary and nailed it by offering a lush vegan alternative. Not only is a vegan afternoon tea offered, true to their ethos Nosh have options to cater for a number of allergies. Nosh specialise in superfoods, which are naturally preservative and additive free.

Served on individual slates, we had a combination of finger sandwiches, cakes, fresh berries and of course the delicious coconut cream. I had been particularly excited to try the coconut cream having heard nothing but good reviews on how delicious it is. There was no disappointment what was on offer.  Our waitress Maria, who was super friendly and helpful, explained everything to us clearly. Maria was attentive to refill our drinks and provide any extra favourite nibbles to us.

Nosh

 

 Nosh

Vegan Afternoon Tea – What did we have?

We started off with a refreshing glass of sparkling grape juice. We then had a choice of various teas and coffee, with all the alternative milks available. There was no limit on top ups – but you soon get full! I enjoyed an almond milk latte before sharing a pot of peppermint and a pot of hibiscus with my friend.

The beautiful platter included:

Sandwiches

  • Smoked tempeh and rocket salad
  • Scrambled tofu and mustard cress
  • Cashew nut cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, basil

Sweet Treats
The chefs selection of desserts 

  • Warm home made scone with fresh whipped coconut cream and strawberries
  • Gooey chocolate brownie
  • Carrot cake
  • Bliss ball

Nosh

The two most memorable treats for me had to be the smoked tempeh sandwiches, the gooey chocolate brownie and of course that coconut cream. We shared a top up of the smoked tempeh sandwiches as these were our favourite. If you’re full, you have the option to take any remaining treats home for later.

As always at La Suite West, the service is outstanding. The vegan afternoon tea here was a memorable occasion. It would be the perfect treat to catch up with family or friends. It would also be a wonderful surprise for someone’s birthday, baby shower or to kick off a hen do in London. I believe the vegan afternoon tea is well worth the value for money, as pure quality is delivered.

Not far from Portobello Road market, it’s easy to make a day of it. Despite the rain, we enjoyed visiting some of the local colourful houses in the area. You can book in for a vegan afternoon tea at Nosh right here at La Suite West.

 

 

Nosh provided us with this vegan afternoon tea experience. I was not obliged to write about it, however felt the need to share it with other foodies. I would return in a heartbeat.  

Golden Milk

Golden Milk
Ayurvedic writings suggests Golden Milk is a wholly cleansing, grounding and nourishing drink. Liver function, improved circulation and digestion are some of the calming and healing properties Golden Milk can bring, all while making the skin glow. It is sometimes referred to “Holy Golden Milk” due to it’s powerful ingredients. This is no surprise with all the goodness you can pack into this creamy, golden, warming drink.

What are these powerful ingredients?

  • Turmeric’s medicinal uses dates back to almost 4000 years in South East Asia. Turmeric’s powerful and vibrant curcumin is renowned for detoxifying the body and alleviating inflammation. It is therefore well known as an anti-carcinogen. A recent 2011 study further suggest tumeric’s activity in the body includes: antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-septic, anti-tumor, with added protection to the heart, kidneys and liver.
  • Cinnamon is known to balance blood sugar levels. It is anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and protects cognitive functioning. Cinnamon is thought to help prevent virus and infection.
  • Ginger enhances digestion and the transportation of nutrients throughout the body. It is also known for reducing joint and muscle pain, which is handy after a workout! Lots of women swear by ginger during pregnancy to prevent morning sickness – with modern research suggesting it aids with travel sickness.
  • Cardamon is rich in antioxidants and packed with heart loving minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium. It is thought to give protection with cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and cholesterol issues. It’s easy to be weary at first of adding cardamon to a drink because it is so fragrant – however one little pod gives it just the right hit.

Golden Milk

Are the benefits of Golden Milk convincing you? Although a tumeric drink can sound off-putting, it only calls for  a little bit and the taste is balanced out by the other ingredients, like the vanilla and maple syrup.

It’s usually a go to in the winter months due to it’s warming properties, however equally as tasty all year round. It can  be used on your morning oats or cooled and drank with ice. I do find myself craving it’s goodness year round. It’s honestly such a delicious and satisfying drink. It is also more noticeable that high street coffee shops have clocked onto Golden Milk and started to sell turmeric lattes – the West are always a bit late with capitalising on ancient traditions!
I’ve tried and tested a couple of combos previou

sly, however found this one a winner more recently.

Golden Milk
Recipe (2 cups)

  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 thumb grated ginger
  • 1 cardamom Pod
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Drop vanilla essence
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Method

1. Dissolve turmeric in boiling water

2. Add all ingredients to a pot and simmer gently for 8 minutes – stirring regularly

3. Use a strainer to filter out any lumps into a jug

Golden Milk

4. Pour into your favourite mug and enjoy the goodness!

Some people opt for a sprinkle of black or cayenne pepper, nutmeg or a little blob of coconut oil for good fats. It’s fun to play around with the different ingredients to get your own personal winning combo. Make sure to add a comment below and share what your favourite additions are!

Golden Milk

Further Information:

Herbal Medicines: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects

Made in Hackney


I had the opportunity to attend a raw dessert making masterclass at Made in Hackney, Stoke Newington. I learnt how to make lots of delicious, beautiful raw chocolates, raw tarts and petit fours. Sounds fancy, and delicious right? 

But first, before I chat about the day let me tell you a little about Made In Hackney.

Made in Hackney is an eco-community based kitchen set up with locals at heart. It is a non-profit organisation, offering free and pay by donation food growing and healthy cooking classes to a diverse community, particularly inclusive of vulnerable and marginalised groups. 

Not only does Made in Hackney equip people with healthy eating knowledge and skills to benefit ones self and the environment, a sense of social inclusion is promoted. London, despite being a great city, has high levels of social isolation which can lead to physical and mental health problems. Coming from a background in mental health, I could totally appreciate the importance of having a community. 

I loved hearing the story of a recently widowed gentleman who’s wife had cooked for him his whole life. Although he attended to learn how to make himself eggs and bacon, he kept returning to the classes as they made a difference to him, despite it being plant based cooking! 

Made in Hackney also maintains an ethos of sustainability, with the foods used in classes being 100% plant based, primarily locally farmed, organic and seasonal.

Additionally, they provide training and volunteer experience – helping people into longer term employment by providing a space to enhance ethical food entrepreneurship. This whole model, if replicated, would bring innumerable benefits to local communities across the country. 

Made in Hackney promotes a real sense of empowerment whilst having a positive impact on the community. It left a great impression on me and left me feeling quite inspired. I could really resonate with it’s ethos and core values. And that was in addition to what I learnt at the cooking class.

✨ The Masterclass ✨

The whole day was informative yet informal. I attended the “Food For All” health food shop at 11:45, where Made in Hackney is located on the bottom floor. I had the chance to buy some treats in the health food store before commencing class at 12:00.
There was a group of around 7 learners, 2 volunteers and the wonderful instructor, Natural Chef Ceri Jones. Ceri’s approach was relaxed, warm and engaging – ready to answer any questions the group had.

Following introductions, we talked through the pantry essentials for raw dessert making, alongside the process behind it and useful equipment. We had the opportunity to observe demonstrations then built on the basics of making raw chocolates to the more skilled cheesecakes and tarts. All ingredients may I mention are supplied by the kitchen.

I loved breaking for lunch half way through with the group – enjoying some (ok lots) of home made hummus and a big plate of roasted veggie buckwheat tabbouleh with rocket salad and balsamic glaze – all freshly prepared by Ceri. It was great to chat to the others about their passions for plant-based living, permaculture, sustainability and natural cooking. 

We also had the opportunity to find out more about Made in Hackney’s journey. I’ve included founder Sarah Bentley’s recent TEDx talk at the bottom of this page about how she built this organisation. 

Getting back to the kitchen afterwards – we learned how to make pretty garnishes from fruit and other ingredients. Garnishing is always my favourite part of making food.

Another memorable moment of the day was at the end when all the desserts were cooled and ready to be eaten. Rather than tucking right in – we each took a piece of chocolate and tasted it mindfully with our eyes closed, allowing us to appreciate it’s texture and flavour.

Overall, the masterclass was a truly immersive experience. We all had the chance to put our own individual style to each dish. We finished up at 16:30 – and thanks to the volunteers, we didnt have to wash up. I managed to make the journey home without eating all of my take home treats. I felt the need to share them with the other half and not be a complete greedy guts!

What we made:

  • Basic Raw Chocolate – little raw chocolate buttons, various shapes and after eights, dehydrated blood arranged dipped in choc. 
  • Chocolate orange mousse in chocolate cups 
  • Avocado Lime Cheesecake
  • Individual Lemon Tarts
  • Apricot and ginger bliss balls.


 So by attending a masterclass at Made in Hackney, not only have you got a day jam packed with learning and delicious food, you are also contributing to this vital work they do with the community. It’s a win win. Remember you can book this experience through visit.org

Watch founder, Sarah Bentley’s TEDx talk here.

Also check out Ceri’s Natural Kitchen Adventure website for more raw food, seasonal and plant based recipes – although not entirely plant based – Ceri does provide some good recipes. 

Choco Mylkshake

This has to be one of my go to shakes!

It’s creamy, satisfying and gives that sweet kick you’d get from a standard milkshake – but only wholefoods used here, so completely guilt free – you can have as much as you want 😋

Ingredients (2 servings)

  • 5 frozen nanas
  • 1 pint almond milk 
  • 3 medjool dates 
  • 1 tbsp cacao
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter 

If you’ve not got any frozen nanas you can use some ripe ones and chuck some ice cubes in there to make it refreshing. If you’ve not got almond milk you could just use water and add some extra nanas for creaminess 😋

Blend all up and enjoy! 

I have to rate metal straws quite highly also – they make it so much nicer and refreshing to drink a cold drink from. You can get them from amazon as a pack of four for under a fiver – saves all those plastic ones going to the dump!

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil Uses
Coconut oil has so many uses in food and beauty. It really is a magical product and I like to think of it as white gold ✨

The virgin type is pure, unbleached and unrefined – taken straight from fresh coconut milk so it retains all its nutrients and antioxidants. This is why we always have a pot in the kitchen, one in the bathroom and a fresh one in impending baby’s toiletry bag.

There really are countless uses for coconut oil – here are some of the ways we use it already in hair, skin and beauty care and plan to use it with bubba. Some more posts to follow on yummy food recipes!


Hair, skin and beauty 
Coconut oil is an all in one if you’re looking to cut back on so many bottles and tubs. 

Here’s why:

1. Oil pulling: an ancient Indian tradition – swirl a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth instead of mouthwash. It has natural antibacterial and antibacterial properties – while also keeping your teeth white 😁

2. Moisturiser: all over, just your hands, just your face, on your beautiful growing pregnant belly. Coconut has deeply moisturising and nourishing properties – and smells great as a bonus. The other half uses it regularly to keep his tats looking fresh. I’ve more recently been lasting it on after getting sunburnt! It’s so soothing. 

3. Hair mask: coconut oil can penetrate the hair follicles better than your average conditioner. Smooth some in your hands and rub it through the ends for half an hour before you wash your hair – or overnight for extra care. It will give your hair added shine also and lots of nourishment – like giving it a drink ✨

4. Face scrub: this comes with a warning – it is divine. For a one use batch – add two tablespoons of melted coconut oil to four tablespoons brown sugar – with a few drops of your favourite essential oil (vanilla is lush with this). Alternatively you could make a bigger batch and keep it in a jar. It is so good and a literal face food ✨ and big bonus of NO MICRO-BEADS. You could be tempted to eat this! 

5. Shaving/body hair: a very inexpensive, natural and nourishing alternative to mainstream shaving products. It has natural antimicrobial properties and is deeply nourishing for your skin during a somewhat corrosive process. Otherwise – don’t shave and nourish your beautiful body hair with a drop of coconut oil 😜

6. Makeup remover – I tell the truth! It’s pretty effective in breaking down all those tough pigments plied during the makeup process. I use the large oval cotton pads with a blob of coconut oil to get all the grime off. I even love smoothing it down my neck 🙂

7. Massage oil – if you can’t convince your partner to give you a massage – convince them by instigating. It feels so good melting a lump and watching it melt away into your other halves skin. 

For baby

Please be mindful that coconuts can be an allergy for some people including newborns 🌿

1. Nappy rash: a natural alternative for baby’s sensitive skin – without the worry of extensive chemicals in some products. Coconut can heal the nappy rash while also protecting against it.

2. Moisturiser: post bath ✨ again a natural alternative for little dry spots on bubba with all its healthy fats and vitamins absorbed. 

3. Baby massage: I cannot wait for this! Such a bonding time with baby – I will mix coconut oil with lavender essential oil for a soothing massage

4. Cradle cap: newborns are prone to dry flaky scalp – so a little blob of coconut oil can be deeply nourish for his head

5. That first poo! Meconium – which is apparently like tar that sticks everywhere. I’ve read advice to put Vaseline (um petroleum) on babies legs before putting on first nappy – we’ll be avoiding petroleum on our newborn and opt for this natural alternative. I’m going to put a small blob in a little pot for our hospital bag ✨


I was sent this pot of virgin coconut oil by Natural Empire and can vouch for its quality! It has certainly lived up to many of the ways I usually use coconut oil. 🌱

Nosh Garden Kitchen Review

Nosh Garden Kitchen, La Suite West, Inverness Terrace,
Nosh Garden Kitchen is tucked away in the leafy corner of Bayswater, located perfectly at La Suite West. This oasis is the ideal spot to unwind and enjoy a range of delicious, nutrient dense food, where a very special vegan menu is delivered. Needless to say I was in my element. 

La Suite West has perfect chilled summer vibes and it felt like being on holidays. Having taken a half day from work to meet my sister and a friend, we enjoyed an extended afternoon munch, while sipping on non-alcoholic strawberry mojitos. These were to die for. The location and experience was perfect for us pregnant ladies as we kicked back in the tranquil garden terrace. 

Nosh Detox
Nosh are already well established in the health industry. They have pioneered home weight loss and detox programmes in the UK with raw juices, while collecting many awards along the way. They provide nutrient dense, intelligent food while not compromising on flavour – I can vouch for that! 

Nosh now offers a number of niche diet programmes including low carb, low sugar, paleo, vegan, pegan (paleo + vegan), alkalising and cleansing. These are tailored in a holistic manner aimed to empower the individual to take control of their own nutritional needs. This is enhanced by the nutritional coaching offered.

It’s easy to pass some of these diets off as fads. However, there is a science and ethos behind it. Nosh have a great understanding of what food does to our bodily system, particularly the gut. I have a great interest in probiotics and maintaining a healthy gut so was intrigued to find out more. 

With such fine tuned, nutritious food, a mixed clientele have been supported through various problems such as chronic fatigue, allergies, weight loss, post-partum recovery in addition to achieving overall health and wellbeing. 

I was fascinated by owner, Geeta’s journey as Nosh’s founder. Geeta developed this specialised service following years of supporting her son through numerous allergies. Amazingly, he has gone from 150% to 10-20% allergies which is just one testament to how adapting what we feed ourselves can benefit our health immensely. 

I loved Geeta’s charisma and how she has turned her passion and knowledge in caring for her son into the public sphere – offering a holistic service revered by many, including celebrities. 

Vegan Carpaccio
I had the pleasure of trying their new vegan menu available at the Nosh Garden Kitchen. All of the foods we had were additive, dairy, gluten, egg and preservative free and naturally high in nutrients being primarily raw. Being almost 8 months pregnant and waiting to finish full time work, I can occasionally feel stressed and tired. It felt good to leave with a happy tummy and feeling replenished. 

Funnily enough nosh means to eat food enthusiastically – here’s some of the treats we noshed (devoured!):

* Nibbles: mixed Italian olives, activated tamari almonds and kale chips. 


* Starters: courgette rolls with pesto and tapenede, beetroot carpaccio with activated cashew cheese and capers 

Vegan Pesto Courgette Rolls
* Mains: Black bean and mushroom burgers, Vegan Caesar Salad with Tofu, Black and White quinoa salad with white beans and artichokes

Vegan Caeser Salad
* Dessert: Chocolate brownie with banana and vanilla iScream

Vegan brownies
* Drinks: virgin apple martinis, strawberry mojitos, fresh mint tea

Virgin strawberry mojito
With excellent customer service offered by La Suite West staff, we felt very well attended to. Our drinks never went dry and having such lovely friendly faces really did enhance the overall experience. 

Rumour has it the vegan afternoon tea there is divine – and the coconut cream seems to have gained some notoriety. I’m thinking I must return and share the experience with others. 




Nibbles and drinks were provided as part of a collaboration – a written review was not required, however I felt the need to share my wonderful experience.