Will I raise my child vegan?

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

Open mindedness

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.

Normalising veganism

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.

Side note:

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.

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.

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

I was pleasantly surprised for such a traditional manor home, they were forward thinking with the menu and exceeded my expectations.

Dinner

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. I didn’t get great pictures of the food as the lights were dimmed in the hall. 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

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

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

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.

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.

Black Bean Chocolate Truffles

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

Nutritional Goodness

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

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

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

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

Refined Sugar Alternative

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

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

Sugar V Maple Syrup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Bean Chocolate Truffles

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

Gooey

Fudgey

Chocolatey

Creamy

Nutritious

Slightly decadent

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

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

Recipe

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

Optional (to coat when ready)

  • Crushed pistachios
  • Toasted coconut

Method

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

Coconut Oil

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

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

Kit and Kin Review

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

The Environment 

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

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

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



Kit and Kin

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

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



The Baby 



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

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



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

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

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


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

Cafe Van Gogh


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

Where and what

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

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

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

Social Enterprise 

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

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

So down to the food! 


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

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

Mains:

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

Seitan ribs

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

Sides:

Jerk Plantain

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

Vegan Mac and Cheese

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

Desserts

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


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


Drinks

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

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

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

Thanks to Cafe Van Gogh for this delicious food experience. 

Golden Milk

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

What are these powerful ingredients?

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

Golden Milk

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

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

sly, however found this one a winner more recently.

Golden Milk
Recipe (2 cups)

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

Method

1. Dissolve turmeric in boiling water

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

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

Golden Milk

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

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

Golden Milk

Further Information:

Herbal Medicines: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects

Made in Hackney


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

✨ The Masterclass ✨

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we made:

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


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

Watch founder, Sarah Bentley’s TEDx talk here.

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

Choco Mylkshake

This has to be one of my go to shakes!

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

Ingredients (2 servings)

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

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

Blend all up and enjoy! 

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

Vegan Makeup

 
I was asked by an old school friend to do a blog post on cruelty free and vegan makeup – which I was so happy to do. It is awesome that more and more people are purchasing more consciously. 

Dogs, rabbits, mice and rats are subject to allergy tests in the most sensitive areas – nose, mouth and eyes. These have little or no comparable results to that of humans and can cause burning, irritation, pain and death due to infection. This is why it’s so important not to contribute to companies who practice such testing.

I will be completely honest and say vegan makeup took me a bit longer to get my head around than vegan food as it wasn’t so straight forward. There are lots of smoke and mirrors around some brands who change their policies based on profits regularly. Some who claim to be cruelty free or who previously were cruelty free but are not anymore. 

And what actually constitutes cruelty free and vegan makeup? 

Cruelty free makeup is usually signified by the leaping bunny sign – meaning it is not tested on animals. The leaping bunny logo means the product is recognised internationally by the Humane Cosmetics and Humane Household Products Standards and has not been tested anywhere worldwide. 

This does not necessarily make it vegan as it legally can still contain animal products such as beeswax, lanolin, carmine and shellac. 

Vegan makeup means it is cruelty free but also does not contain animal products such as the ones just mentioned. You may find however that many cruelty free brands offer lots of vegan products – which is where familiarising with ingredients and looking online is handy.

There has been great progress recently with certain countries like Australia banning animal testing. The EU banned testing in 2013. However any product that is sold in China – has to by Chinese law be tested on animals. These include some of the bigger brands such as L’Oréal, MAC and Lancôme. Previously MAC were cruelty free – until they began selling in China where they test so MAC are no longer kind to animals. Profits over compassion. 

It’s useful to know the main perpetrators in the beauty industry – but also to know your options are not limited with vegan makeup – there is in fact an abundance out there! 

Vegan makeup, like all makeup is extremely varied. It ranges from high street to high end so you never have to compromise on quality or cost depending what you’re after. 

When replacing my makeup bag – I decided to either give away my old stuff or to use it up. I figured there was no point in wasting it. I did this bit by bit as I did my research and tried and tested some products.

Brands that test on animals:

  • Mac 
  • Benefit 
  • Lancôme 
  • Rimmell 
  • Este Lauder 
  • Avon 
  • Bobby Brown 
  • Clarins 
  • Dior 
  • L’Oréal 
  • Maybelline
  • Max factor 
  • Revlon

Cruelty free brands with vegan products:

  • Barry M 
  • Gosh 
  • St. Tropez 
  • Urban decay 
  • Kat Von D 
  • Anastasia Beverley Hills 
  • Makeup Revolution 
  • Charlotte Tilbury
  • Sleek 
  • Too Faced 
  • Face Atalier 
  • Body shop 
  • Tarte
  • Soap and glory 
  • elf 
  • NYX
  • Wet and wild 
  • Lush
  • Smashbox 
  • Models Own 
  • Real Techniques

Vegan brands:

  • B by Superdrug 
  • Lime crime 
  • Jeffrey Star 
  • Flique Cosmetics 
  • Arbonne 
  • Pacifica 
  • Ringana 
  • Hourglass 
  • OCC
  • Ecotools 
  • Dose of colours
  • Furless
  • Spectrum 
  • Geek chic 
  • Beautiful me 

A lot of these brands are available online – so it’s helpful to match your usual shade with this website: 

✨ Findation ✨

It’s an automated system where you put in what shade and brand you usually use and gives you what alternatives are available for you – clever right? 

I’ve included what’s in my make up bag at the moment – I definitely don’t use them all daily but have ended up with a few bits experimenting with new vegan makeup. 

My makeup bag

Face:

  • Arbonne – primer. Silky and smooth
  • B liquid foundation – great coverage 
  • Beautiful me mineral powder from H&B 
  • Gosh mineral powder with B powder brush (devine)
  • Autograph mousse from M&S

Contour/Shimmer

  • St. Tropez powder bronzer – swear by this and have done for years.
  • Barry M – strobe shimmer 
  • Sleek – highlighting kit 
  • Barry M – dazzle dust 
  • Too faced – powder contour 
  • I Love Makeup blush shimmer – Superdrug 

Brows:

  • Makeup Revolution – eyebrow kit

Eyes:

  • Barry M – Lash Vegas 
  • Arbonne – Bamboo Mascara 
  • Barry M – Liquid Liner 
  • Barry M – Shimmer Pots
  • Makeup Revolution – smokey eyeshadow palette
  • Too faced – Chocolate Bar, eye shadow palette 

Lips

  • Barry M – Lip Liners 
  • Barry M – Super Slick Lip Paint
  • Kat Von D -Studded Kiss Lippy
  • I Love Makeup – Lip Lave (Superdrug)
  • Hurraw Lip Balms

Nails:

  • Barry M – nail polishes are all vegan! So this is all I usually buy and have the best range of colours which last long without chipping. My favourite is the nail hardener which makes my nails super strong. 


               Barry M red lip liner 💄


                Wedding makeup no. 1

                 Wedding makeup no. 2 


             Barry M – strobe shimmer 

Au Naturel – because I love my bare face days too ✨