A Lush Stay at Chicheley Hall

We recently had a lovely family weekend break at Chicheley Hall. I’ve raved about getting away as a family before, even if it is only for a day and a night. I know prepping to leave for a night away with a baby can be a bit daunting – but it’s so worth it!

Even one night away allowed us to recalibrate and reconnect as a family, minus all the distractions of every day life. Especially after a prolonged back injury that my other half has had. Luckily, the drive wasn’t too far from us – with Chicheley Hall being in the lush green countryside of Buckinghamshire. We passed through some cute villages en route too and I even drove on the motorway for the first time!

Our first impressions upon arrival was how charming the grounds and drive to the house was. Chicheley Hall is a gorgeous English Baroque style country home which promised a lovely stay.

SLEEP

Each bedroom is named after a distinguished scientist. we stayed in the Bohr room – he developed the structure of the atom and was a major contributor to quantum physics. I felt this added a little quirk and uniqueness to Chicheley Hall. Our room had stunning views of the grounds. It’s always so lush to wake up to big windows overlooking beautiful grounds in the morning as the sun creeps through.

We had a baby cot provided, but as usual he works his way in between us during the night so it didn’t get much use! Arthur loves a good roll around the bed so he had endless fun wriggling about and playing with the velvet cushions. Who needs toys?

We had a handy sofa in the room also which was nice to chill and read a book while Arthur napped. There are lots of interesting reads available in the hallways.

EAT

Chicheley Hall are somewhat forward thinking with their menu. They are purposefully improving this to be more inclusive for certain dietary requirements, particularly for vegans. It’s always reassuring when the menu specifically states vegan. Additionally, with Arthur having potential allergies, the listed allergens are highly important for us.

Afternoon Tea

We were treated to a beautiful afternoon tea soon after arrival. It was perfect timing after our drive there.

On the vegan platter I had a selection of sandwiches, cakes, puddings and fresh fruit. I was especially impressed with the lemon drizzle cake as this is my favourite! This was closely followed by a gorgeous coconut pudding.

We enjoyed this afternoon tea by a gorgeous bay window as we unwound after our drive to Chicheley Hall.

My other half, who is not vegan had a massive tray to get through and would have been ideal for sharing.

Afternoon tea with a very wriggly and active baby proves interesting. Getting my hot drink and shovelling cake down my face while bouncing an almost 11kg baby is quite the skill. Although there was a high chair provided, he didn’t last in it very long so was on Mumma’s lap trying to grab my cup and everything in sight.

Dinner

It’s always so lovely going out for dinner and even more so that Arthur could be by our side for our evening meal. We keep meaning to have a date night by ourselves. For the first few months of being parents we couldn’t bare the thought of leaving him at night. That along with the tiredness, I’m not sure we’d even manage to get out the door.

The restaurant began serving at 19:00 which is Arthur’s bed time usually. However the restaurant itself was fairly quiet meaning he slept soundly in his pram without disturbance. This gave us some quality time to munch, chat and get a little merry on the vegan wine.

I was really impressed with the bar staffs knowledge on vegan drinks. He knew which wine was vegan – which typically not many people are aware of this. He too showed a keen interest in certain allergens with minimal prompting.

The service is great at Chicheley Hall, with our needs being tended to diligently. I had a delicious, creamy parsnip soup to begin. This was followed by a flavoursome main course of Gnocchi and rocket salad. Although this was the only vegan option, I was totally satisfied with it. I am certain that if I wasn’t happy, it would be no hassle in requesting something different.

 

Room Service

After our two course meal felt like blobbing out on our massive bed and getting Arthur into his. We were delighted to get our desserts delivered by room service a short while later. This vegan dessert was like a flavour explosion! A trio of sorbets with fresh fruit was the perfect end to our evening of food.

Breakfast

For breakfast, the usual buffet is available. With hot cooked foods, cereals, fruits, breads and juices. Although not exclusively vegan, I always know the stuff to go for! Namely beans and hash browns which are my go to for a hot savoury breakfast. The buffet mushrooms were cooked in butter so the chef, without even asking made me some vegan ones.

One thing I will admit to missing was having a choice of milks for breakfast. I am usually an oat, coconut or nut milk fan over soya. The manager seemed quite receptive to this idea, so I’m trusting my feedback might contribute to their progress in further veganising the menu.

Afternoon Stroll

Chicheley Hall is typically hired for weddings. This really isn’t surprising as it’s beautifully kept English baroque style grounds makes a lovely backdrop. We had a nice afternoon stroll after lunch, taking in all the fresh air and even saw some spring flowers come through. The nearest large town to Chicheley Hall is Milton Keynes. We weren’t keen to leave however as we just wanted to settle and take things slowly.

 

Overall, we had a lovely stay at Chicheley Hall. We felt completely comfortable and at ease, from the great service to chilling in our lush room with our robes on by Saturday night.

We stayed here for one day and a night which was the perfect amount. It was like a country get away where we could forget about our chores and just relax. We can see how Chicheley Hall would make a special location for an event like a wedding and equally for a quick family break.

Disclaimer: Our stay at Chicheley Manor was hosted in return for an honest review. All words are my own.

Slow Cooker Vegan Lasagne

I love any excuse to get the slow cooker out. It was our saviour when we first moved into our new home two years ago and we didn’t have a fully functioning kitchen. It got us through the winter months on a daily basis until bit by bit we go more appliances. We made all sorts from curries, tagines, chillies to asian broths – even though it wasn’t the typical appliance to make these dishes – it was a life saver. We then added a camping to stove to our collection, later followed by the oven and last to come months later was our hob. Our kitchen was slow progress but totally worth it in the end. Needless to say, I had to get creative with the slow cooker. Sometimes I think about us sitting cross legged on our sitting room floor with chilli for days back then!

One thing I never thought of making was a slow cooker lasagne. I saw someone posted about it previously and thought I’d give it a whirl with what I have in the kitchen. The slow cooker is great for getting dinner ready early and for extra flavour as it marinades, cooking slowly. The reason I made this was to save time in the evening so I could spend it with my family rather than faffing about in the kitchen at babies bed time.

So here was my first ever slow cooker lasagne – sloppy, easy, comforting and filling. Bare in mind, I often cook with what ingredients I have in my kitchen. You can easily sub certain veggies such as mushrooms, eggplant and celery for ones I have mentioned below – depending on whats in yours. I’m not one for sticking to recipes or buying fancy ingredients. It’s amazing what you can create with simple ingredients.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 lasagne sheets
  • Drizzle of olive oil

 Tomato Base:

  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp marmite
  • 400mls organic pasatta
  • 3/4 red split lentils
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 tsp each of oregano and parsley
  • 1 can of organic kidney beans
  • 300mls veggie stock

Cheese Sauce

  • 1 cup soaked cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tbsp nooch
  • sea salt
  • sprinkle of garlic powder, turmeric and veggie stock

Method

  1. Turn on slow cooker to a low heat.
  2. Fry onion and garlic for a few minutes in a pan. Add chopped veggies with a little water.
  3. Add all of your herbs and spices, pasatta and marmite – then add lentils
  4. Pour through veggie stock and leave on a low heat while you make cashew cheese
  5. Add soaked cashews, water, spices and notch to high speed blender and blitz until creamy. Do a taste test and adjust to your taste.
  6. Layer the tomato base into slow cooker, followed by a layer of lasagne sheets. Presuming the slow cooker is round, you will need to break the lasagne sheets up. Add a layer of cashew cheese and so on.
  7. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and finish with a layer of cashew cheese. Add some vegan cheese if you like.
  8. Cover and cook on a low heat for around 4-5 hours. Check on it’s progress half way through – you can make sure it’s not sticking to the sides with a spatula and if so add a little water down the sides.

Serve and enjoy! Lasagne usually keeps it’s form better once cooled – this slow cooker recipe is a little sloppy but so worth it 🙂 For some other vegan lasagne inspiration – click here for a slight variation in ingredients – including some pesto!

Have you a favourite slow cooker recipe or secret lasagne ingredient? Comment below!

No Food Waste Banana Bread

Vegan Banana Bread

I’ve shared a recipe for vegan banana bread previously using the leftover almond meal from making almond milk.

My recipes for things tend to vary constantly – making use of what ingredients I have at the time. So decided to share this winner which has been a favourite these last few weeks.

My other half sometimes laughs that I never make the same dinner twice as I struggle so bad to follow recipes. We now have a “list” of meals he favourites to remind us of what was really good!

I must admit I sometimes make too much food, so constantly getting creative with how to use leftovers. One dish I sometimes make too much of is porridge in the mornings. There might be a little scoop leftover or a whole bowl, depending on how hungry we are. I know I could avoid this by simply measuring stuff but I am the worst for this. I usually go by what I see and what the texture looks like.

So what better way to use up that extra porridge than making banana bread? Simply keep it in the fridge for up to a couple of days until your ready to whip up the loaf.

This vegan banana bread checks two no food waste boxes by using up those spotty bananas that give it an amazing taste. Also using up the porridge that may otherwise have gone in the compost gives it a lovely moist texture. However – I’m sure there are other uses for leftover porridge – like pancakes, cookies etc which I’m yet to trial.

  • Gooey
  • Tasty
  • “Really nice” – Brad LOL
  • ” It’s just like cake!” – Brad’s friend LOL
  • Reducing food waste

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup cooked porridge
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup oat milk
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped figs

Method

1) preheat oven to 190c. Add 1 tbsp of chia seeds to half a cup of oat milk and leave to absorb in the fridge for 10 minutes.

2) sort out your wet stuff – mash 2 bananas and mix with 1 cup porridge or whatever your working with. Melt 3 tbsp coconut oil and stir in. Add a drop of vanilla essence. Add your chia mix. Stir well.

3) for the dry stuff- In a large bowl, sift 1 cup self raising and half a cup of spelt flour with 1 heaped tsp baking powder. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon. Add some brown sugar, amount depending on your preferred sweetness. If you’re adding chocolate at the end you can always cut back on sugar completely.

4) add wet stuff to dry stuff and give it a good stir. Add what further additions you would like – be it chocolate chunks, chopped figs or dates, walnuts, raisins.

5) add mixture to a loaf tin. If your feeling fancy, thinly slice some more bananas and top the loaf. This is my favourite new addition to our banana bread recently as it goes really gooey.

6) bake for 45 minutes or so – checking with a clean knife through the middle to check if it’s cooked through. Cooking times will vary depending on your oven.

7) enjoy with a hot cup of tea and try not to eat all of it!

One other thing I’ve added before is the chunky lumps of almond butter that are difficult to spread!

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.

http://boxingisforgirls.com/wp-login.php “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.

http://ourdiyhouse.com/wp-json/oembed/1.0//"http:////ourdiyhouse.com///" Eco – Ego

source url

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

diovan 160 25 mg side effects

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.

The Manor Country House Hotel

As our first family weekend away with baby Arthur, we were excited but also a little nervous about what to pack and whether it would be worth our while packing everything up for two nights. We get so comfortable at home it’s easy to never leave the house sometimes!

Once we arrived on the Friday evening, we felt right at home entering the cosy lobby with the fire blazing. The staff were so lovely, helping us bring our bags and baby stuff to the room.

The Manor Country House Hotel was the perfect choice for this Autumn break. They had everything we needed as a family with baby.

FOOD at the manor country house hotel

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

Dinner at the manor country house hotel

We enjoyed our five year anniversary dinner Friday evening in the grand hall. Arthur was quietly sleeping in his pram as we relaxed with a glass of wine. We had the choice of a fine dining menu, with some deliciously crafted raw food dishes. Also on offer was the bar food menu which was a bit heartier, so satisfied the other half after a long day working and driving. Due to the lights being dim in the hall, it did not serve to get great food pictures. I enjoyed a quinoa, roasted roots and cauliflower purée dish with a side of chunky chips. I adored the brownie dessert – I love how raw desserts taste so decadent and luscious.

Most memorable of this evening was how relaxed and at home we felt. We were well attended to and had benefit of great food, good wine all while baby Arthur was by our side.

Breakfast at the manor country house hotel

The next day, we enjoyed a buffet breakfast, served hot drinks by the friendly staff. We had the choice of cereals, toast, fruit, nuts and juices. The chef whipped me up a cooked breakfast as it’s always nice to have warm food after a couple of glasses of vino the previous night. It was our anniversary after all. This set us up for our day exploring Oxford town centre.

Afternoon Tea at the manor country house hotel

Having spent the morning exploring Oxford Town Centre, we were excited to get back to the cosy Manor Home for our planned vegan afternoon tea. This was such a lovely experience. We dined in the lovely, bright front room with a view of the lush gardens.

I had Arthur in his wrap all cuddled up while we sipped on fresh teas. The cakes and sandwiches were so good, all the sandwiches were varied so we didn’t get bored. We even had warm fresh scones jam and a vegan cream. I couldn’t have asked for more and Arthur was happy chilling on me while I munched and sipped away.

Room service at the manor country house hotel

On our final evening, we were fairly tired after a big day out exploring. We were happy to chill in our big, cosy room, watch Saturday night television in our cosies and order room service. I was so happy to hear they had vegan gnocchi. I’d never had this before so had to order it with a side of olives.

Being a breastfeeding Mumma, some of you will understand how ravenous we get! I mean, we’re technically burning up to 700 calories a day, rapidly growing our wonderful little beings. This is why the food would always be a highlight for me, with brownie points for establishments that make the effort for vegan options. It was actually quite nice that we didn’t have to venture out of the hotel grounds for good food, especially not feeling too comfortable being out late with baby.

Overall, The Manor Country House Hotel really exceeded our expectations. Read more about our stay and the family friendliness of this cosy, lovely manor home. Check out my guest post for Travel Mad Mum here.

Our stay was gratefully hosted by The Manor Country House Hotel in exchange for an honest review.

Wearth London

A very wonderful new eco-conscious store is in town which allows you to shop by values. Showcasing sustainable, homegrown UK brands, it’s all your green soul could desire.

Wearth London have recently launched their online store. The eco department store ranges from beauty, homeware, jewellery, lifestyle, furniture, gifts and childrens wear.

Shop By Values

Wearth London have intertwined shopping consciously while upholding quality and style. It’s so nice to have such a dedicated store available that won’t have you second guessing the source of the product.

Being vegan and recently striving towards zero waste, having this criteria is not only helpful but actually makes my heart burst. And to include companies with social contributions also is amazing. Sometimes in the run up to Christmas, not consuming is impossible – but conscious consuming is totally possible with the following shop by values section on Wearth London’s new site:

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

As always my attention is usually brought to the baby selection of products, because you know, it’s all about bubba now. But equally I’m not wanting to accumulate stuff we do not need or will carry an eco guilty conscience.

Biodegradable Swaddle Blanket

The Little Art Collection have designed a beautiful baby swaddle blanket – which always serve as a multipurpose. It’s made of bamboo and cotton, making it really soft. Be it covering little man up in between changing and feeds (he always falls asleep half dressed or naked mid feed!) or having a gorgeous blanket for on the go. Its definitely getting good use. Arthur sometimes snuggles up to it for his morning nap. It’s also nice it is all natural so is gentle on his sensitive, excema prone skin.

Wearth London

” Hey Mum, you’re pants at swaddling “

I’m in love with the emperor butterfly design on this. I also love that it was designed by Ele Grafton, an independent artist and mum of two from Somerset. Much like me – I find the geometric patterns of nature absolutely stunning and quite magical.

Recycling – Reusing

Wearth London are taking packaging and plastic seriously. The blanket came in a recyclable box, wrapped in brown paper. The box coincidently, says “Little Art” – short for Arthur – on it so we can even keep it to reuse another time.

When Arthur was a newborn we were going through so many muslins for the unexpected poo explosions. I’ve now manage to upcycle some of the older, very grubby muslin cloths which were a little stained, clean, but stained. They’re now used as cleaning cloths and I have one for the windows in the car now it is mistier. This beautiful butterfly swaddle however will be cared for and definitely not used for bums! Even though I’m rubbish at swaddling, it really is a gorgeous blanket.

Overall, I am in love with the ethos and values of Wearth London and already have some of their other zero waste and social contribution gifts on my wish list. Things I would really value and hopefully make a difference environmentally and socially

Wearth London are also offering 10% off your first order if you subscribe to their newsletter.

Note: Wearth London gifted us this blanket. We were not obliged to do a review, however I feel very passionately about such a forward thinking, eco-conscious store, so I will continue to shout from the roof about it!

Christmas With a Green Heart

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s easy to get swiped up in the consumer madness. I have done in the past, spending heaps of my hard earned money on new outfits, new products, presents for everyone and presents for myself because I couldn’t resist while I was in the shops. And that’s just before the sales!

Note: Not A Grinch

Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly no grinch. I love Christmas and for me, I always can’t wait to get home to Dublin to spend it with friends and family. I look forward to cosy nights in, mad nights out (not anymore though) and of course all the scrummy food. My mad nights out have been forever and gratefully replaced with my baby boy. It goes without saying that making memories and really experiencing a special day with your loved ones is what stands out the most over material objects.

Gifts of course can be special, but careful consideration is always helpful to really buy what is valuable to that person.

Minimising wastefulness

I’m sure we’ve all experienced receiving a gift that we never get any use from. And without wanting to be ungrateful, you feel bad at the shameful waste of resources and the givers money. With my zero waste hat on, I can’t get the ringing of “500 years” plastic remains in landfill, letting off toxins while taking its bad time to break down.

Making a wish list for Christmas is not cheeky, but a clever way to prevent waste – by letting those know what is important to you and what you will really value as a gift. This saves them trapsing through shops and spending their hard earned cash on crap you won’t use. And the big cooperation shops are all geared up for you to buy their stuff, roping you in with adverts convincing you of the need to buy more stuff.

Alternatives to stuff

Experiences and consumables are great gifts not only for the eco conscious – but for the whole family. For my parents, meals, gigs, spa days and trips away have been a staple for many years as they feel they don’t need for anything. My Dad often says he just wants “peace” amongst the chaos of Christmas in our house (LOL).

Meal vouchers and experiences are always a win as it’s good way to spend quality time together to make memories. As we’ve an ever expanding family, we do a secret santa now. This means we all get one very decent present. We’ve set up a wattsapp group where we post some ideas of gifts we would really like. This eliminates needless spending and shopping stress for everyone involved.

Stuff with a heart

Here are some gift ideas, consisting of small, independent companies and some have a social and environmental conscience, with them giving a portion of their profits to great causes. This really resonates with me on my eco journey, maybe they will inspire you too. It’s always a winner to scout out local, independent companies with heart over heartless big cooperations.

The Self Care Company

Handmade soya wax candles, eco-friendly made with essential oils. This independent company donates 10% profit to mental health charity. They have a number of unique scents and encourage a regular self care routine. They even encourage recycling with an option to send the container back.

Wearth

I’ve just discovered Wearth London and I’m already obsessed with its shop by values system – vegan, zero waste and ethical. This Cork Yogi matt is eco friendly and we are considering buying it as our current matt has been going for five strong years. Most importantly Cork Yogi assist women in getting out of sex slavey in India. A gift with a heart.

Lines & Current

An awesome small company creating minimal jewellery, eyewear and headwear with 10% of profits going to charity – helping to send children to school in Zimbabwe. This platinum “Delta” pendant is fab and I may put it on my wish list.

Made in Hackney

Give someone the gift of a new skill while also benefiting this wonderful community kitchen. Think raw desserts, fermenting and plant based cheeses. Read my blog post here on the great work Made in Hackney does for the local community.

Klean Kanteen

Klean Kanteen are hands down a winning bottle, insulated to keep your water cool in the summer or tea warm in winter. They are sturdy, made from stainless steel, non-toxic and come in different colours. They will last a long time and help cut out buying single use plastic water bottles.

The Green Tulip

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

Macrame

Supporting a small business, you can get a bespoke made macrame wall hanging or a set to learn the skill of making a plant hanger. Perfect for those succulent greens and lovely decor for home. Made from wood and rope so kind to the earth.

Besos

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

 

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

A Vegan Pregnancy – My Experience

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

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

vegan pregnancy

PCOS

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

Vegan Pregnancy
Nutrients

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

Vegan Pregnancy

Vegan Pregnancy- My Experience

physical

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

Emotional

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



Truth

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

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

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

A New Beginning

After a whopping forty one weeks pregnant…

vegan baby

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

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


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

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

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

Disclaimer: this is not intended to be medical advice

Nosh Vegan Afternoon Tea

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

Vegan Afternoon Tea

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

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

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

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

Nosh

 

 Nosh

Vegan Afternoon Tea – What did we have?

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

The beautiful platter included:

Sandwiches

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

Sweet Treats
The chefs selection of desserts 

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

Nosh

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

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

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

 

 

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

Made in Hackney


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

✨ The Masterclass ✨

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we made:

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


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

Watch founder, Sarah Bentley’s TEDx talk here.

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