A Lush Stay at Chicheley Hall

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.

SLEEP

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.

EAT

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.

Afternoon Tea

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.

Dinner

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.

 

Room Service

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.

Breakfast

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.

Afternoon Stroll

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.

Oddbox and Food Waste

Who are Oddbox?

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!

Squash soup

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!

Smoothie

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.

ORDER NOW

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.

Eat Vegan at The Manor Country House Hotel

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.

The Manor Country House Hotel

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.

Wearth London

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.

http://linkcollision1.com/_api/common-services/notification/invoke 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:

  • Vegan friendly
  • Biodegradable
  • Handcrafted
  • Made in the UK
  • Natural ingredients
  • Plastic free
  • Recycleable packaging
  • Recycled materials
  • Sustainable materials
  • Social contribution

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.

http://abdtours.com/contact/ 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.

Wearth London

” 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.

see 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!

Christmas With a Green Heart

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.

Minimising wastefulness

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.

The Self Care Company

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.

Wearth

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.

Lines & Current

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.

Made in Hackney

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

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.

The Green Tulip

Bamboo utensils for on the go – any zero wasters must haves if your on the road for work or the likes. Organic, fair trade and sustainable.

Macrame

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.

Besos

Besos offer a vegan creme liquor to rival Baileys any day. I used to love Irish Creme, so discovering Besos has been a real treat. Made from the tiger nut – it’s actually considered a super food!

 

And just a side note – this is not a sponsored post. These are companies I have found on social media and taken a real liking to. All pictures belong to their rightful owners.

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.  

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.

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. 

Maria Nila Review 

Having tried out a few different vegan option shampoos – I was finding it tricky to find a good quality one that was doing my hair good. I had tried some high street brands and some more natural alternatives. I found some of them very drying on my already thin hair. Maria Nila was recommended on a group page – and people were raving about it so I had to give it a go.

This amazing creation comes from Sweden and has been in business for 30 years.

I found Maria Nila’s shampoo and conditioner combo to be extremely nourishing. Not only is it 100% vegan, it is free from sulphates and parabens and has repairing algae – how clever is that? It also acts as a colour guard complex.

Although Maria Nila is slightly pricey compared to high street brands, it is still affordable and definitely worth paying that bit extra in order to give your hair the love it deserves. I paid £30.95 including postage and packaging – and it arrived fairly quick. I hear you can also find it in some salons in the UK.

This is the structure repair one which I felt would do good after a year of highlighted hair. Originally I was thinking I need to sort out my hair and maintain it for my upcoming wedding – which we have now postponed because of little baby bubba due – roll on lush pregnancy hair!

I have since made a decision that Maria Nila will be a staple product for my hair. It is that good!

I’ve had complements on how nice it smells. I can honestly say the conditioner is one of the best I’ve used. A small blob leaves your hair so silky and the easiest to brush. Especially if you’ve got thin hair, also that tangles easily, but equally I’m sure would work great in other hair types. It certainly leaves no feeling of greasiness which some conditioners do.

I’ve been swimming almost everyday while on holidays – seawater and swimming pool and honestly do not feel my hair condition has been compromised. It lasts a good while also – with my first lot still going about 2 months strong now.

Overall – I found Maria Nila to keep my hair in great condition. I no longer have those fly away hairs noticeable with highlighted hair (although I have since gone darker). It’s been nourishing, leaving my hair strong, soft and healthy.

Next time I’m going to give the pure volume set a go and am already excited. They also have a range of colour refresh products that have great reviews.

So if your looking for a delicous, animal friendly alternative to your usual hair washing routine – check out this Maria Nila’s wonderful brand 🐰