We recently had a lovely family weekend break at Chicheley Hall. I’ve raved about getting away as a family before, even if it is only for a day and a night. I know prepping to leave for a night away with a baby can be a bit daunting – but it’s so worth it!
Even one night away allowed us to recalibrate and reconnect as a family, minus all the distractions of every day life. Especially after a prolonged back injury that my other half has had. Luckily, the drive wasn’t too far from us – with Chicheley Hall being in the lush green countryside of Buckinghamshire. We passed through some cute villages en route too and I even drove on the motorway for the first time!
Our first impressions upon arrival was how charming the grounds and drive to the house was. Chicheley Hall is a gorgeous English Baroque style country home which promised a lovely stay.
Each bedroom is named after a distinguished scientist. we stayed in the Bohr room – he developed the structure of the atom and was a major contributor to quantum physics. I felt this added a little quirk and uniqueness to Chicheley Hall. Our room had stunning views of the grounds. It’s always so lush to wake up to big windows overlooking beautiful grounds in the morning as the sun creeps through.
We had a baby cot provided, but as usual he works his way in between us during the night so it didn’t get much use! Arthur loves a good roll around the bed so he had endless fun wriggling about and playing with the velvet cushions. Who needs toys?
We had a handy sofa in the room also which was nice to chill and read a book while Arthur napped. There are lots of interesting reads available in the hallways.
Chicheley Hall are somewhat forward thinking with their menu. They are purposefully improving this to be more inclusive for certain dietary requirements, particularly for vegans. It’s always reassuring when the menu specifically states vegan. Additionally, with Arthur having potential allergies, the listed allergens are highly important for us.
We were treated to a beautiful afternoon tea soon after arrival. It was perfect timing after our drive there.
On the vegan platter I had a selection of sandwiches, cakes, puddings and fresh fruit. I was especially impressed with the lemon drizzle cake as this is my favourite! This was closely followed by a gorgeous coconut pudding.
We enjoyed this afternoon tea by a gorgeous bay window as we unwound after our drive to Chicheley Hall.
My other half, who is not vegan had a massive tray to get through and would have been ideal for sharing.
Afternoon tea with a very wriggly and active baby proves interesting. Getting my hot drink and shovelling cake down my face while bouncing an almost 11kg baby is quite the skill. Although there was a high chair provided, he didn’t last in it very long so was on Mumma’s lap trying to grab my cup and everything in sight.
It’s always so lovely going out for dinner and even more so that Arthur could be by our side for our evening meal. We keep meaning to have a date night by ourselves. For the first few months of being parents we couldn’t bare the thought of leaving him at night. That along with the tiredness, I’m not sure we’d even manage to get out the door.
The restaurant began serving at 19:00 which is Arthur’s bed time usually. However the restaurant itself was fairly quiet meaning he slept soundly in his pram without disturbance. This gave us some quality time to munch, chat and get a little merry on the vegan wine.
I was really impressed with the bar staffs knowledge on vegan drinks. He knew which wine was vegan – which typically not many people are aware of this. He too showed a keen interest in certain allergens with minimal prompting.
The service is great at Chicheley Hall, with our needs being tended to diligently. I had a delicious, creamy parsnip soup to begin. This was followed by a flavoursome main course of Gnocchi and rocket salad. Although this was the only vegan option, I was totally satisfied with it. I am certain that if I wasn’t happy, it would be no hassle in requesting something different.
After our two course meal felt like blobbing out on our massive bed and getting Arthur into his. We were delighted to get our desserts delivered by room service a short while later. This vegan dessert was like a flavour explosion! A trio of sorbets with fresh fruit was the perfect end to our evening of food.
For breakfast, the usual buffet is available. With hot cooked foods, cereals, fruits, breads and juices. Although not exclusively vegan, I always know the stuff to go for! Namely beans and hash browns which are my go to for a hot savoury breakfast. The buffet mushrooms were cooked in butter so the chef, without even asking made me some vegan ones.
One thing I will admit to missing was having a choice of milks for breakfast. I am usually an oat, coconut or nut milk fan over soya. The manager seemed quite receptive to this idea, so I’m trusting my feedback might contribute to their progress in further veganising the menu.
Chicheley Hall is typically hired for weddings. This really isn’t surprising as it’s beautifully kept English baroque style grounds makes a lovely backdrop. We had a nice afternoon stroll after lunch, taking in all the fresh air and even saw some spring flowers come through. The nearest large town to Chicheley Hall is Milton Keynes. We weren’t keen to leave however as we just wanted to settle and take things slowly.
Overall, we had a lovely stay at Chicheley Hall. We felt completely comfortable and at ease, from the great service to chilling in our lush room with our robes on by Saturday night.
We stayed here for one day and a night which was the perfect amount. It was like a country get away where we could forget about our chores and just relax. We can see how Chicheley Hall would make a special location for an event like a wedding and equally for a quick family break.
Disclaimer: Our stay at Chicheley Manor was hosted in return for an honest review. All words are my own.
I love any excuse to get the slow cooker out. It was our saviour when we first moved into our new home two years ago and we didn’t have a fully functioning kitchen. It got us through the winter months on a daily basis until bit by bit we go more appliances. We made all sorts from curries, tagines, chillies to asian broths – even though it wasn’t the typical appliance to make these dishes – it was a life saver. We then added a camping to stove to our collection, later followed by the oven and last to come months later was our hob. Our kitchen was slow progress but totally worth it in the end. Needless to say, I had to get creative with the slow cooker. Sometimes I think about us sitting cross legged on our sitting room floor with chilli for days back then!
One thing I never thought of making was a slow cooker lasagne. I saw someone posted about it previously and thought I’d give it a whirl with what I have in the kitchen. The slow cooker is great for getting dinner ready early and for extra flavour as it marinades, cooking slowly. The reason I made this was to save time in the evening so I could spend it with my family rather than faffing about in the kitchen at babies bed time.
So here was my first ever slow cooker lasagne – sloppy, easy, comforting and filling. Bare in mind, I often cook with what ingredients I have in my kitchen. You can easily sub certain veggies such as mushrooms, eggplant and celery for ones I have mentioned below – depending on whats in yours. I’m not one for sticking to recipes or buying fancy ingredients. It’s amazing what you can create with simple ingredients.
8 lasagne sheets
Drizzle of olive oil
1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp marmite
400mls organic pasatta
3/4 red split lentils
2 medium carrots
1 red pepper
1 tsp each of oregano and parsley
1 can of organic kidney beans
300mls veggie stock
1 cup soaked cashews
1 cup water
3 tbsp nooch
sprinkle of garlic powder, turmeric and veggie stock
Turn on slow cooker to a low heat.
Fry onion and garlic for a few minutes in a pan. Add chopped veggies with a little water.
Add all of your herbs and spices, pasatta and marmite – then add lentils
Pour through veggie stock and leave on a low heat while you make cashew cheese
Add soaked cashews, water, spices and notch to high speed blender and blitz until creamy. Do a taste test and adjust to your taste.
Layer the tomato base into slow cooker, followed by a layer of lasagne sheets. Presuming the slow cooker is round, you will need to break the lasagne sheets up. Add a layer of cashew cheese and so on.
Drizzle a little olive oil on top and finish with a layer of cashew cheese. Add some vegan cheese if you like.
Cover and cook on a low heat for around 4-5 hours. Check on it’s progress half way through – you can make sure it’s not sticking to the sides with a spatula and if so add a little water down the sides.
Serve and enjoy! Lasagne usually keeps it’s form better once cooled – this slow cooker recipe is a little sloppy but so worth it 🙂 For some other vegan lasagne inspiration – click here for a slight variation in ingredients – including some pesto!
Have you a favourite slow cooker recipe or secret lasagne ingredient? Comment below!
A month or so into our vegan baby led weaning journey and it’s all systems go! Even though Arthur is only at the beginning of his food exploration – with little nibbles and tiny tastes here and there, it feels very real having him included in mealtimes. I’m constantly thinking what can Arthur try next.
As a first time Mum and having never really witnessed what BLW is in practice, it’s all very new to me. Arthur who has only had milk his entire six months of life is entering a whole new phase – all of these flavours, textures, smells, feels and shapes – it’s very exciting for him.
Because I felt totally clueless on the matter, I slowly read the popular Gill Rapley Baby Led Weaning book while I had the chance. Reading this book, I found myself nodding along and relating to a lot of it in how Arthur would first start solids. This book isn’t specifically vegan, but has some relevant and current research on BLW. I then started researching some ideas for meals.
I was really happy to discover BLW is gaining popularity, with some of my Mumma friends taking this route over spoon feeding purée.
The main reasons we have chosen BLW
We have felt very strongly from the beginning that we want to follow Arthur’s lead, trusting his abilities to learn and take to new things, including eating. This coincides with our gentle parenting approach and feels completely natural for us.
With BLW – the baby is in total control of what goes into their mouths, under supervision of course. This is a great learning experience for them to experience food how it is eaten, be it crunchy, squidgy, stringy, juicy – rather than the same puréed texture which may get a bit boring. This also prevents potentially unwanted food being shovelled into their mouths and too far back for them to decline.
We are really keen for meal times to be inclusive, social and special times for us as a family. For this reason, Arthur will have the same foods as us and learn to feed himself with all the fun and mess that comes with it! It is thought that babies who have led their own weaning process are more social and less fussy eaters. I am trusting this will make future meals equally as inclusive.
Babies who have led the weaning process learn to chew from an early age, lowering the risk of choking down the line. It also helps develop their hand eye co-ordination as they learn to get the food or spoon into their mouths early on.
How Mumma has found it
At the beginning, admittedly I found it very tempting to feed him from the spoon. This is not BLW so I would give him a preloaded spoon instead. There were occasions where I would be tempted to guide it to his mouth as he was putting the wrong end of the spoon in his mouth, chucking porridge over his shoulder, flinging chia pudding onto the cupboards and rubbing avo in his eye. It must be some sort of motherly instinct to try and take control of the situation, however I have taken a back seat and let the mess continue. In fact Arthur is quite adamant already that he wants to do it himself without my input. It’s amazing how quickly they develop a sense of independence.
That gag reflex can be quite unerving to begin with, wondering if he was going to choke but I felt reassured that it is totally normal having spoken to other Mums. Babies have an incredibly sensitive gag reflex to prevent choking.
A very helpful tool in the difference between gagging and choking by the Red Cross:
I have learnt to accept that BLW is messy business – but it is so good watching his hilarious faces squishing the food up, painting the sides of his chair, waving a piece of broccoli around triumphantly.
It must also be a thing that if you’ve made the effort to make a special meal (virtually salt and sugar free) you want them to eat it! I am patient with him though as he’s so little and still so new to everything. I’m pretty sure he’ll be munching down on family faves when he is ready, not when I’m ready. This also means I don’t have to disguise veggies with a sweet fruit for him to like it.
I feel I may have been getting a little flustered in the beginning trying to make all salt free meals – but figured he’s only eating tiny amounts right now. Even so, I’ve been adding salt at the end for our dinners or stirring veggie stock at the end once Arthur’s portion is served.
My other half reminded me he does not need to be on a set number of meals a day just yet. BLW is a gradual process and I’ve realised that now. We’re only fives weeks in so I needed to check my expectations of him. I do wonder if this was influenced by “social norms” particularly since I’ve only ever known about spoon feeding. It was reassuring to discover some babies don’t show interest in food until seven or eight months. I then remind myself of the saying “food before one is just for fun”.
Admittedly the bit of food waste really gets to me as I’m a big advocate for reducing waste. We have a floor matt for any food that gets chucked, like a cucumber can be picked straight back up and given to him. Unfortunately the dog doesn’t like some of the stuff dropped so those bits are composted.
Also, I’ve questioned whether I am a magpie. Sometimes my eye is drawn to all the colourful packaging in the baby food section in store. I’ve had a look at some ingredients and was shocked by some of the contents. The amount of ingredients in a rusk including sugar. Baby snacks come with all sorts of packaging also so I’ve easily resisted as I’m keen for home made whole foods with minimal or no packaging as possible.
How Arthur is doing – 5 weeks in
He is loving this new phase! So much textures to squidge, taste and paint with. He’s quite the artiste! We decided to give Arthur some bits and pieces around 1 week before he turned 6 months as he was showing interest by staring at us eating and trying to grab from our hands.
His first food was avocado which he had so much fun mushing everywhere. We then realised this is messy work as his chair, sleeves and floor were covered in avo, not to mention the bit in his eye. We’ve also discovered that chia seeds could survive a nuclear war. We find them in all sorts of places, even after a wash!
We had ordered his high chair without realising it would take a whole month to be delivered. In the meantime we got a second hand bumbo chair. We alternated between that and my lap for meal times. There were times when he was more interested in the buckle of the chair or taking the table off it. Again – it’s all about patience. I don’t expect my 6 month old baby to concentrate steadfastly on what food I put in front of him.
When Arthur’s high chair arrived – it’s like he knew it was for him, watching intently as his Dad assembled it! This has been a great help as he can perch at the end of our breakfast bar at meal times now and I’m no longer sat on the floor with him in the bumbo. Which may I add, he barely fit in with his chunky thighs.
He is not currently on a set number of meals a day. Breakfast is a staple as we all enjoy this together before Arthur’s Dad goes to work. I then offer him snacks through the day like fruit, veggies or bits of what I’m eating if it’s good for him. Sometimes he is too tired and asleep before dinner is ready. I was reassured to know that it can be a gradual process and he will totally follow his own needs, so long as we are offering varied food types.
He is definitely swallowing bits here and there, sometimes just sucking the juices out of what he’s got. We’ve certainly noticed a change in his nappies and he is going more regularly.
He has not yet dropped his milk feedings so we will continue to follow his lead with this, assuming he will need less milk the more solids he takes in.
He shows clear signs he is done having chucked what he wants on the floor matt numerous times, making a noise I’m familiar with or rubbing his eyes if he’s tired. We’ve also noticed he is more controlled with his foods, passing it from hand to hand, getting it into his mouth (occasionally).
What about his nutrients as a vegan?
At six months old, a babies main nutritional source remains as milk. The nutrients of breast milk does not deplete, however the babies nutritional needs is gradually increasing so his need for other foods increase with this. A baby grows the most in its first year of life than any other time. Additionally, I’ve read that food is to complement babies milk diet – not totally replace it yet.
I am mindful babies fat needs are higher than that of adults. So I’m making sure to offer fatty foods each day – such as avocado. I’m yet to make some yummy cashew or coconut milk.
Quinoa and hemp are some examples of complete plant proteins which we also offer him regularly. We are not overly keen on soya as we don’t eat it much ourselves anymore. Chia seeds and tahini are loaded with calcium and iron.
Arthur’s favourites so far are green veggies and oranges – a perfect combination for his iron and vitamin C levels.
We are not giving Arthur supplements right now. So try to ensure when we are out for walks his little face or hands are absorbing the vitamin D from the sun. I’m aware that B12 is a nutrient vegans can be deficient in. This is essential for a healthy nervous system. I currently take B12, vegan omega 3 (from algae) and a vitamin D supplement, so he is still getting it from milk. Foods such as nutritional yeast are fortified with B12 which can be a tasty addition sprinkled on food.
I understand there is a lot more to nutrition than this. Overall, I’m not concerned he will be lacking in anything so long as I provide him with varied and wholesome meals. He’s already thriving and on the 100th centile for his weight and height development. We have him weighed every couple of months out of interest and not to compare.
VEGAN BABY LED WEANING- First foods
We have tried not to give the same food every day – however because we have oats daily Arthur usually has a little taste too. We mix it up by adding organic raspberry, blueberry or dates with a different piece of fruit on the side.
Also we have made a conscious effort to opt for organic. I know this is not entirely achievable – but we do as much as we can.
Steamed or Roasted
Sweet potato fries
We’ve also used some herbs and spices such as garlic, turmeric, paprika, cumin, oregano and parsley so the foods aren’t overly bland for home – with the addition of tahini or homemade hummus for extra dippiness.
Oats cooked with filtered water
Breast milk chia pudding with mango
Raw fruit from list above
Gram flour omelette
Organic brown rice cake with avo
Canelleni Bean Pattie with quinoa
Steamed or roasted veggies
Organic pasta with veggie blended sauce
Preloaded spoon quinoa
Steamed or roasted veggies
Although these are what we have offered, that’s not to say he has eaten or tried all of them. Some of them have ended up eaten by the dog or in compost.
What’s been helpful?
Obviously eating comes naturally and equipment is not entirely essential. Babies instinctively eat with their hands.
But some bits and bobs that have come in handy during this BLW journey for me to get tidied up after the fun. I sometimes dream of being in a warm country where he could just munch away in his nappy not needing all the get up! His cousin in Australia goes for a dip in the pool after a messy dinner!
Wipe clean mat – still not big enough for the mess but helps minimise it and saves food waste to an extent when food is dropped.
Long sleeved bib – rinsable between meals and dries quickly
Cheeky wipes for his face – these are nice and soft for his face and hands afterwards with warm water
Muslins – roll this up and tuck it in between his tray and lap
Bamboo bamboo suction bowl and spoon – this prevents the bowl being flung across the room – not the spoon though 🙂
Lots of cloths for mopping up the surrounding area!
Sippy cup with handles – to offer him filtered water before/after meals.
Klean Kanteen snack tin for on the road
If Arthur has gotten really messy, sometimes we sit him on the sofa on a larger muslin to get him changed and cleaned up. If I lay him down – I double check his mouth has not got food in it as babies are like hamsters and store food in their cheeks apparently! I give him his sippy cup of water to have also once we’re done which he usually just chats to or plays with.
So far, it’s been a fun journey. I’m looking forward to exploring new foods with my baby boy and seeing what his favourite Mumma’s home cooked meals will be.
Disclaimer: Hopefully this has been of some use. Obviously I am not a BLW expert or nutritionist so always seek advise from others or professionals if you are experiencing any issues or concerned about your child.
Oddbox is the first social enterprise in London to deliver wonky fruits and veggies to home and offices. Oddbox provides a variety of plant based produce – a delicious box of rainbow goodness.
In the U.K. alone, thirty percent of fresh produce goes to waste due to very strict specifications the supermarkets demand. It baffles and saddens me that so much food goes to waste but also delights me that Oddbox are doing something amazing to prevent this. Their delicious misshapen plant goodness is sourced from farms from Lincolnshire to Kent – with seasonal produce selected when possible.
Additionally, Oddbox captures certain surplus and imported fruit, depending on availability. Some retailers over order or with sudden gluts in the market – lots of decent produce goes to waste.
I was keen to find out why the fruits and veggies are considered odd. Apparently it is the shape, colour or sizes of them which supermarkets won’t accept. This I presume is due to consumer demand for the “perfect” looking produce. Come on everyone – let’s grab that double whammy mushroom, that curly courgette and those giant carrots!
What fun did I have with Oddbox?
So much fun! Oddbox offer some recipe suggestions to match the produce delivered. I didn’t follow the recipes exactly but used two of them as a base which is always a help. I struggle to follow recipes but tend to use them as a guide based on what other ingredients I’ve got in the house. They also add a nice touch by telling the story of the food, why it is considered odd and was therefore saved.
The stand out for us in the box was the cavallo nero. I’d never eaten this before and loved its texture, much softer compared to its curly kaled cousin which can be quite jagged I find. We got so many meals out of this black kale and even baby Arthur got to try it out straight up.
What did I make?
Mediterranean soup with Cavallo Nero
This was one of the recipes provided – it was so good and not something I would usually make. We had leftovers the next day and the flavours had intensified!
This is always a winner for us, using the funny looking squash and giant carrots – I made this with fresh turmeric and ginger making it really warming and grounding.
Porridge topped with fruit
Featuring Oddbox pear and plum – the best start to the day. I even shared Arthur’s first pear and plum with him – it was such a lovely memory as he now loves pear!
Just apples, oranges, cinnamon, ice and water – this was so refreshing. We actually had lots of oranges and clementines to use up. It was like a slushy!
Some other great food created from Oddbox which I didn’t manage to capture:
Gram flour omelette – using the black kale, mini onions and pepper
Pasta with black kale and broccoli
Buddha bowl – with the big carrots, little potatoes and other goodness
What else about Oddbox?
Buying from Oddbox means you are reducing plastic waste often produced by supermarkets. So you are doubling up on saving food/plastic waste. Win win! You’ll also be supporting local growers. Oddbox donate ten percent of their produce to local charities.
The boxes are customisable based on your needs – from small, medium, large to fruit only boxes. Oddbox currently deliver around south London, however have a waiting list for people further afield for when they do eventually expand.
For vegans, it would be wise to request for your box not to be packaged with sheeps wool. This is used to keep produce fresh for further distances. Oddbox apologised for this and offer a service to take it back.
Oddbox are offering a whole 50% off your first box. Just use the code ODDELICOUS50 to avail of their offer.
Tips to reduce food waste
⁃ Store potatoes in a dark, cool space away from bananas and onions. This will prevent them sprouting.
⁃ Remove any plastic packaging on your produce before storing as this promotes the ripening process. Removing packaging also allows you to mentally clock exactly what you have to use up. It removes any preconceptions of use by dates additionally which are usually massively inaccurate with some produce.
⁃ Storing veggies loosely in the fridge can prolong shelf life, but ensure they are not too crammed together so they can breath
⁃ Store your bananas separately from other fresh produce. Bananas ripen other produce as it emits a gas called ethylene. This could cause spoilage in other fruits and veggies. However, if your bananas are too green, storing them in a bag can be handy to get them ripe and spotty quickly! If you have too many ripe bananas, make banana bread of freeze them for smoothies, nice cream or mylkshakes
– Made too much porridge in the morning? Why not keep it to make a no food waste banana bread or pancakes
– Freeze your veggie scraps in a container until you have enough to make veggie stock or pho. So satisfying!
– Make a smoothie – if you have fruit which needs to be used, blending it with ice and water can be a delicious way to save waste.
– Did you know you can freeze food in jars? Just leave enough space for it to expand slightly. This reduces the need for using plastic which is known to seep into our foods. Also getting more use out of those sweet jars. Great if you’ve made too much hummus or curry. Even if it’s only a little bit – soup, chilli, curry – you can use this as a base for your next one and intensify the flavours.
– And finally, use what you have at home – improvise new meals. Getting creative can save you buying once off obscure ingredients that some recipes call for and can be expensive. More often than not, we are fortunate enough to have plenty in our cupboards.
Have you got any tips or creative ways for reducing food waste? I’d love to know!
Disclaimer: Oddbox kindly offered me this box of fresh produce in return for an honest review. I would totally order from them myself. I support small businesses and think they are rocking it in saving food waste.
I’ve shared a recipe for vegan banana bread previously using the leftover almond meal from making almond milk.
My recipes for things tend to vary constantly – making use of what ingredients I have at the time. So decided to share this winner which has been a favourite these last few weeks.
My other half sometimes laughs that I never make the same dinner twice as I struggle so bad to follow recipes. We now have a “list” of meals he favourites to remind us of what was really good!
I must admit I sometimes make too much food, so constantly getting creative with how to use leftovers. One dish I sometimes make too much of is porridge in the mornings. There might be a little scoop leftover or a whole bowl, depending on how hungry we are. I know I could avoid this by simply measuring stuff but I am the worst for this. I usually go by what I see and what the texture looks like.
So what better way to use up that extra porridge than making banana bread? Simply keep it in the fridge for up to a couple of days until your ready to whip up the loaf.
This vegan banana bread checks two no food waste boxes by using up those spotty bananas that give it an amazing taste. Also using up the porridge that may otherwise have gone in the compost gives it a lovely moist texture. However – I’m sure there are other uses for leftover porridge – like pancakes, cookies etc which I’m yet to trial.
“Really nice” – Brad LOL
” It’s just like cake!” – Brad’s friend LOL
Reducing food waste
3 ripe bananas
1 cup cooked porridge
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup oat milk
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped figs
1) preheat oven to 190c. Add 1 tbsp of chia seeds to half a cup of oat milk and leave to absorb in the fridge for 10 minutes.
2) sort out your wet stuff – mash 2 bananas and mix with 1 cup porridge or whatever your working with. Melt 3 tbsp coconut oil and stir in. Add a drop of vanilla essence. Add your chia mix. Stir well.
3) for the dry stuff- In a large bowl, sift 1 cup self raising and half a cup of spelt flour with 1 heaped tsp baking powder. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon. Add some brown sugar, amount depending on your preferred sweetness. If you’re adding chocolate at the end you can always cut back on sugar completely.
4) add wet stuff to dry stuff and give it a good stir. Add what further additions you would like – be it chocolate chunks, chopped figs or dates, walnuts, raisins.
5) add mixture to a loaf tin. If your feeling fancy, thinly slice some more bananas and top the loaf. This is my favourite new addition to our banana bread recently as it goes really gooey.
6) bake for 45 minutes or so – checking with a clean knife through the middle to check if it’s cooked through. Cooking times will vary depending on your oven.
7) enjoy with a hot cup of tea and try not to eat all of it!
One other thing I’ve added before is the chunky lumps of almond butter that are difficult to spread!
I’ve wanted to share with you my thoughts on raising my child vegan. Lots of people have asked me about this, mostly with intrigue with the odd comment that doesn’t match our mindset. I write this not with judgement on anyone else and how they raise their family, but from the heart and from my perspective as a mother.
Firstly I will most definitely be raising my babies vegan. Having been vegan myself almost five years now, I have felt the real benefits in my own health and wellbeing. I had a very healthy pregnancy and a healthy born baby boy at 9.9lb. Why wouldn’t I continue?
I get all of my nutrients and satisfaction from plant foods that I am really excited to share this experience with my tribe. Going vegan has equipped me with an increased interest in nutrition, which reassures me I am more than capable of providing adequate nutrition for my rapidly growing baby.
Furthermore, being more informed of animal rights and environmental issues, it seems quite natural to share our ethics and morals with them. This is with thought out consideration for their future and the future earth they will live in.
“Why would you enforce your beliefs on him?”
I had a very swift answer for this comment. Surely feeding my child meat is enforcing a belief on him? Furthermore, decisions on education, vaccinations, types of nappies etc all encompass our beliefs.
Parents are faced with many short and long term decisions – all of which encompass our own personal beliefs on varying scales. However it could be argued that beliefs are often majorly influenced by society, cultural norms, ones own family or simply some research or information those parents have done independently. Having done our own research and questioned what the general consensus of food consumption is in society, we feel we have made a decent decision. One that is so right for us.
Families usually have their own core ethics, morals and beliefs. We simply choose to raise our babies consciously and compassionately. Kindness stems from the home and the meals we choose to eat. Let’s face it – there’s nothing radical about striving for more kindness in this world.
Eco – Ego
We want our babies to understand we are all inhabitants of this earth and we are not superior to other living, sentient beings. I’m pretty sure they’ll get this and as a family transcend the idea society enforces in the notion that we need animal products to survive. A general consensus that “we are more intelligent” than them therefore we have “the right to eat them” stems from an inflated ego.
We want to avoid the cognitive dissonance of having a furry member of the family, loved and cared for, yet consuming other animals on a plate. We don’t want to send conflicting messages to our children that one animal is more deserving than the next.
Also we want our babies to know there are choices in all aspects of life. Children, naturally choose the more compassionate option, however having these conversations in a gentle way will help develop their critical thinking skills in other aspects of life.
“Ah but you couldn’t deprive him of a piece of chocolate?”
“What if he’s at a kids party?…” If it is a case that my child picks up a piece of food up that contains animal products – I will plainly and simply tell them the truth of what this product is. I will not sugar coat it and trick him into believing it is healthy or good for him.
With chocolate and treats, there are plenty out there that are dairy free. It’s about being prepared, which we usually are. I don’t see my child ever being deprived as we are fortunate enough to live in an abundant life.
Speaking with other vegan parents, generally the kids get on great at school and social gatherings with no issues. Children will speak up for themselves and what they believe in and I will encourage my babies to do so.
My beautiful niece Esmé enjoying a chocolate vegan cake for her first birthday
There is often a real fear in those who are not vegan that we are “limited, deprived, extreme”. These negative connotations couldn’t be further from the truth. My children will know and understand the abundant world of plant foods we are blessed to have access to.
These certain negative words and connotations can encourage fear and a limiting mindset. We want our babies not to feel limited or confined, but confident, assured in their lives and decisions they make.
I wish for my family to have a healthy relationship with food. To know where it comes from and hopefully be able to cultivate a large majority of it ourselves once we are set up for growing.
There are many children and families out there who may have intolerances or dietary needs due to their beliefs. For this I don’t see us as any different because we have chosen to be vegan. Veganism is becoming more mainstream so I don’t envision any problems at social gatherings.
In fact I have every faith he will not be the only vegan child in his social circle and he already has some vegan baby friends so he will definitely not be isolated!
What I look forward to as a vegan Mumma
I look forward to baby led weaning with Arthur. I look forward to making delicious, home cooked family meals and discovering what our favourites are together. I can’t wait to get them involved in the process of making smoothies, snacks and baking cakes. I can’t wait to have gentle but informative discussions with them about their nutritional needs as growing children so they are in the know about what need. I can’t wait until they can develop their own special recipes and pick their dinner from the garden. I look forward to my babies sharing their snacks from the same platter. I can’t wait to watch my family grow on plant based foods knowing it is helping them thrive.
This is why my babies will be vegan.
I do realise I have written plural babies/children in this as I am thinking of the future when we are fortunate enough to extend our little tribe.
Recently we had the pleasure of staying at the Manor Country House Hotel in Oxford, with the aim of writing a guest blog for Travel Mad Mum. This beautiful manor home is located in the lush countryside, just fifteen minutes from the centre.
As our first family weekend away with baby Arthur, we were excited but also a little nervous about what to pack and whether it would be worth our while packing everything up for two nights. We get so comfortable at home it’s easy to never leave the house sometimes!
Once we arrived on the Friday evening, we felt right at home entering the cosy lobby with the fire blazing. The staff were so lovely, helping us bring our bags and baby stuff to the room.
The Manor Country House Hotel was the perfect choice for this Autumn break. They had everything we needed as a family with baby.
FOOD at the manor country house hotel
I was pleasantly surprised for such a traditional manor home, they were forward thinking with the menu and exceeded my expectations.
Dinner at the manor country house hotel
We enjoyed our five year anniversary dinner Friday evening in the grand hall. Arthur was quietly sleeping in his pram as we relaxed with a glass of wine. We had the choice of a fine dining menu, with some deliciously crafted raw food dishes. Also on offer was the bar food menu which was a bit heartier, so satisfied the other half after a long day working and driving. Due to the lights being dim in the hall, it did not serve to get great food pictures. I enjoyed a quinoa, roasted roots and cauliflower purée dish with a side of chunky chips. I adored the brownie dessert – I love how raw desserts taste so decadent and luscious.
Most memorable of this evening was how relaxed and at home we felt. We were well attended to and had benefit of great food, good wine all while baby Arthur was by our side.
Breakfast at the manor country house hotel
The next day, we enjoyed a buffet breakfast, served hot drinks by the friendly staff. We had the choice of cereals, toast, fruit, nuts and juices. The chef whipped me up a cooked breakfast as it’s always nice to have warm food after a couple of glasses of vino the previous night. It was our anniversary after all. This set us up for our day exploring Oxford town centre.
Afternoon Tea at the manor country house hotel
Having spent the morning exploring Oxford Town Centre, we were excited to get back to the cosy Manor Home for our planned vegan afternoon tea. This was such a lovely experience. We dined in the lovely, bright front room with a view of the lush gardens.
I had Arthur in his wrap all cuddled up while we sipped on fresh teas. The cakes and sandwiches were so good, all the sandwiches were varied so we didn’t get bored. We even had warm fresh scones jam and a vegan cream. I couldn’t have asked for more and Arthur was happy chilling on me while I munched and sipped away.
Room service at the manor country house hotel
On our final evening, we were fairly tired after a big day out exploring. We were happy to chill in our big, cosy room, watch Saturday night television in our cosies and order room service. I was so happy to hear they had vegan gnocchi. I’d never had this before so had to order it with a side of olives.
Being a breastfeeding Mumma, some of you will understand how ravenous we get! I mean, we’re technically burning up to 700 calories a day, rapidly growing our wonderful little beings. This is why the food would always be a highlight for me, with brownie points for establishments that make the effort for vegan options. It was actually quite nice that we didn’t have to venture out of the hotel grounds for good food, especially not feeling too comfortable being out late with baby.
Overall, The Manor Country House Hotel really exceeded our expectations. Read more about our stay and the family friendliness of this cosy, lovely manor home. Check out my guest post for Travel Mad Mum here.
Our stay was gratefully hosted by The Manor Country House Hotel in exchange for an honest review.
A very wonderful new eco-conscious store is in town which allows you to shop by values. Showcasing sustainable, homegrown UK brands, it’s all your green soul could desire.
Wearth London have recently launched their online store. The eco department store ranges from beauty, homeware, jewellery, lifestyle, furniture, gifts and childrens wear.
Shop By Values
Wearth London have intertwined shopping consciously while upholding quality and style. It’s so nice to have such a dedicated store available that won’t have you second guessing the source of the product.
Being vegan and recently striving towards zero waste, having this criteria is not only helpful but actually makes my heart burst. And to include companies with social contributions also is amazing. Sometimes in the run up to Christmas, not consuming is impossible – but conscious consuming is totally possible with the following shop by values section on Wearth London’s new site:
Made in the UK
As always my attention is usually brought to the baby selection of products, because you know, it’s all about bubba now. But equally I’m not wanting to accumulate stuff we do not need or will carry an eco guilty conscience.
Biodegradable Swaddle Blanket
The Little Art Collection have designed a beautiful baby swaddle blanket – which always serve as a multipurpose. It’s made of bamboo and cotton, making it really soft. Be it covering little man up in between changing and feeds (he always falls asleep half dressed or naked mid feed!) or having a gorgeous blanket for on the go. Its definitely getting good use. Arthur sometimes snuggles up to it for his morning nap. It’s also nice it is all natural so is gentle on his sensitive, excema prone skin.
” Hey Mum, you’re pants at swaddling “
I’m in love with the emperor butterfly design on this. I also love that it was designed by Ele Grafton, an independent artist and mum of two from Somerset. Much like me – I find the geometric patterns of nature absolutely stunning and quite magical.
Recycling – Reusing
Wearth London are taking packaging and plastic seriously. The blanket came in a recyclable box, wrapped in brown paper. The box coincidently, says “Little Art” – short for Arthur – on it so we can even keep it to reuse another time.
When Arthur was a newborn we were going through so many muslins for the unexpected poo explosions. I’ve now manage to upcycle some of the older, very grubby muslin cloths which were a little stained, clean, but stained. They’re now used as cleaning cloths and I have one for the windows in the car now it is mistier. This beautiful butterfly swaddle however will be cared for and definitely not used for bums! Even though I’m rubbish at swaddling, it really is a gorgeous blanket.
Overall, I am in love with the ethos and values of Wearth London and already have some of their other zero waste and social contribution gifts on my wish list. Things I would really value and hopefully make a difference environmentally and socially
Wearth London are also offering 10% off your first order if you subscribe to their newsletter.
Note: Wearth London gifted us this blanket. We were not obliged to do a review, however I feel very passionately about such a forward thinking, eco-conscious store, so I will continue to shout from the roof about it!
With Christmas just around the corner, it’s easy to get swiped up in the consumer madness. I have done in the past, spending heaps of my hard earned money on new outfits, new products, presents for everyone and presents for myself because I couldn’t resist while I was in the shops. And that’s just before the sales!
Note: Not A Grinch
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly no grinch. I love Christmas and for me, I always can’t wait to get home to Dublin to spend it with friends and family. I look forward to cosy nights in, mad nights out (not anymore though) and of course all the scrummy food. My mad nights out have been forever and gratefully replaced with my baby boy. It goes without saying that making memories and really experiencing a special day with your loved ones is what stands out the most over material objects.
Gifts of course can be special, but careful consideration is always helpful to really buy what is valuable to that person.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced receiving a gift that we never get any use from. And without wanting to be ungrateful, you feel bad at the shameful waste of resources and the givers money. With my zero waste hat on, I can’t get the ringing of “500 years” plastic remains in landfill, letting off toxins while taking its bad time to break down.
Making a wish list for Christmas is not cheeky, but a clever way to prevent waste – by letting those know what is important to you and what you will really value as a gift. This saves them trapsing through shops and spending their hard earned cash on crap you won’t use. And the big cooperation shops are all geared up for you to buy their stuff, roping you in with adverts convincing you of the need to buy more stuff.
Alternatives to stuff
Experiences and consumables are great gifts not only for the eco conscious – but for the whole family. For my parents, meals, gigs, spa days and trips away have been a staple for many years as they feel they don’t need for anything. My Dad often says he just wants “peace” amongst the chaos of Christmas in our house (LOL).
Meal vouchers and experiences are always a win as it’s good way to spend quality time together to make memories. As we’ve an ever expanding family, we do a secret santa now. This means we all get one very decent present. We’ve set up a wattsapp group where we post some ideas of gifts we would really like. This eliminates needless spending and shopping stress for everyone involved.
Stuff with a heart
Here are some gift ideas, consisting of small, independent companies and some have a social and environmental conscience, with them giving a portion of their profits to great causes. This really resonates with me on my eco journey, maybe they will inspire you too. It’s always a winner to scout out local, independent companies with heart over heartless big cooperations.
Handmade soya wax candles, eco-friendly made with essential oils. This independent company donates 10% profit to mental health charity. They have a number of unique scents and encourage a regular self care routine. They even encourage recycling with an option to send the container back.
I’ve just discovered Wearth London and I’m already obsessed with its shop by values system – vegan, zero waste and ethical. This Cork Yogi matt is eco friendly and we are considering buying it as our current matt has been going for five strong years. Most importantly Cork Yogi assist women in getting out of sex slavey in India. A gift with a heart.
An awesome small company creating minimal jewellery, eyewear and headwear with 10% of profits going to charity – helping to send children to school in Zimbabwe. This platinum “Delta” pendant is fab and I may put it on my wish list.
Give someone the gift of a new skill while also benefiting this wonderful community kitchen. Think raw desserts, fermenting and plant based cheeses. Read my blog post here on the great work Made in Hackney does for the local community.
Klean Kanteen are hands down a winning bottle, insulated to keep your water cool in the summer or tea warm in winter. They are sturdy, made from stainless steel, non-toxic and come in different colours. They will last a long time and help cut out buying single use plastic water bottles.
Supporting a small business, you can get a bespoke made macrame wall hanging or a set to learn the skill of making a plant hanger. Perfect for those succulent greens and lovely decor for home. Made from wood and rope so kind to the earth.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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!
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.