Vegan Baby Led Weaning

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

Vegan Baby Led Weaning

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:

Vegan Baby Led Weaning

is buying viagra off craigslist illegal 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.

Vegan Baby Led Weaning

 

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!

vegan Baby Led Weaning
Vegan Baby Led Weaning

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.

Raw

  • Avocado
  • Ripe pear
  • Cucumber
  • Banana
  • Mango
  • Mandarin
  • Orange
  • Melon
  • Apple
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Lettuce cup

Steamed or Roasted

  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Courgette
  • Squash
  • 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.

Breakfast

  • Oats cooked with filtered water
  • Breast milk chia pudding with mango
  • Raw fruit from list above
  • Green smoothie
  • Quinoa porridge

Lunches

  • Gram flour omelette
  • Organic brown rice cake with avo
  • Canelleni Bean Pattie with quinoa
  • Steamed or roasted veggies
  • Fruit

 

Dinner

  • Organic pasta with veggie blended sauce
  • Preloaded spoon quinoa
  • Courgette spaghetti
  • Steamed or roasted veggies
  • Celeriac rosti

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 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.

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.

see “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.

click 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.

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

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 ✨

Almond Milk

🥛 A L M O N D – M I L K 🥛
What’s the hardest thing about being vegan? Waking up at 5am to milk the almonds 😭


NOT! I did not wake up at that ridiculous hour but have actually gained a sense of smugness and satisfaction having milked almonds! And you can do it too.!

.

Homemade and everything – I’ve been wanting to make this for a long time but as usual procrastinate and just buy the pre-made stuff, which has minimal almond milk in it anyways.

.

Homemade almond milk does not disappoint – it was so creamy, fresh and delicous.

.

Recipe:

  • 2 cups almonds – soaked for 2 nights
  • Water to soak
  • 4 cups fresh water
  • 2 medjool dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Materials:

  • Bowl for soaking
  • High speed blender
  • Muslin cloth
  • Sieve
  • Bottle to store
  • Spoon

Method

1. Soak your almonds overnight or for a second night if needed to soften (place in fridge for second night)


2. Rinse before use – washing off all the released Phytic acid (browny colour)

3. Place almonds in a high speed blender with 4 cups fresh water, vanilla essence and medjool dates.

4. Blend on a high speed for around 2 minutes – make sure to gradually increase the speed and use the lid cover or you risk it exploding out the top like I did (precious milk lost – noooo)


5. Place sieve on top of jug, covered by appropriate sized muslin cloth

6. Begin the filtering process – adding enough milk through the cloth – using a spoon to encourage it through. You will see almond meal collecting in the cloth and the glorious milk filtering through to the jug

7. When there has been a build up of almond meal – take the cloth and squeeze the rest of the milk out


8. This process will probably be repeated around 3-4 times with the remaining milk – depending on size of your sieve and cloth.


9. Fill up the milk jug and refrigerate! Use within 2 days

10. Bake something tasty with the almond meal (recipe for banana bread to follow!)

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We used this almond milk on our homemade granola and in a blueberry smoothie – it was delicous! Have you made your own milk before? How did you find the process and what did you use? I hear you can use most nuts, some seeds and even coconut 🌴

Vegan Lasagne 

Who doesn’t love vegan lasagne?

Well Brad was cynical when I said I wanted to make him a nice meal. “When do you ever see me eat lasagne?” he said haha. I admitted that actually I’ve wanted to make a vegan lasagne for a long time – and made the effort to buy the ingredients but equally I always want to make him a nice meal not just when I’m being selfish and want to try a new dish all veganized 😜
Sometimes my meals are a fail – but I’m getting better. It’s usually because I’m so crap at following recipes and always want to try new things or use what we have in the kitchen.

Anyways recipe for a vegan lasagne – that Brad ended up eating HALF of. For a bloke that doesn’t like lasagne – he could have passed for Garfield 😊 I also coaxed him by crumbling some nachos on top. It was mainly the cheese sauce he was wary of as he hates the cream sauce on usual lasagne (future vegan)? 😂 luckily this recipe uses just enough cheese sauce –  it too much and naturally the aubergine makes it creamy.

Please note – I did take a couple of short cuts as I haven’t quite mastered home made cheese sauce or pesto, so a couple of bits are from the jar – but equally as tasty. It’s great that there are so many more alternatives out there now. I’ve added some pictures of these products down below so you can spot them on the supermarket.



Recipe/Ingredients:

4 servings. Used a medium sized baking dish.

9 lasagne sheets

6 tbsp vegan pesto (Sacla)

300mls vegan cheese sauce (Free and Easy)

2 slices of vegan cheese (Violife)

Large handful of nachos
The filling:

2 celery sticks

1 onions

5 cloves garlic

200g mushrooms

1 small aubergine

3/4 cup of red split lentils

300mls veggie stock

1 can chopped tomatoes

Italian seasoning/oregano

Pepper

1 tblsp paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tblsp tomato puree

1tbsp olive oil
1. Fry up the chopped celery onion and garlic in a little oil. If this isn’t enough I add a little boiling water to keep fat content down.

2. Add the rest of veggies. Add chopped tomatoes, puree, lentils and veggie stock. Stir all together with your seasoning, bring to boil then simmer on a low heat – ensuring you stir and add a little more hot water if looking like it might stick.

3. Preheat oven to 180c

4. Grease lasagne dish lightly.

5. Boil water and soak lasagne sheets in a bowl

6. Make cheese sauce (as per packet) making it with milk makes it creamier

7. Layer up your lasagne – bolonegse first, then cheese sauce, lasagne sheets, then pesto. Make sure you leave enough cheese sauce to cover the top.

8. Tear up cheese pieces and sprinkle on top (or use grated cheese – in hindsight would be more effective)

9. Bake for around 30 minutes

10. If your feeling fancy – sprinkle some crumpled up nachos on top for the last few minutes

11. Leave it set for a few minutes and it will be easier to serve – enjoy 😊