Smart Eating and Smoothie Sipping

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As previously mentioned (see my post on the last events I went to), I am making full use of the fact that there is so much going on in London – whatever your interests, there are events to suit them. Last week was super exciting because I got to meet two inspiring people who I’ve been following from afar: Niomi Smart and Ella Mills, both of whom have just released new recipe books.

On Wednesday I trekked over to the Kensington Whole Foods for the Q&A with Niomi Smart and the signing of Eat Smart – her fully plant-based recipe book. It was great seeing the area designated for the event buzzing with lots of chatty excited people (and by people I mean exclusively young women), and feeling the excitement bouncing off everyone. I’d take this over a rock concert any day (- is that sad?) I was given a copy of the book, a goody bag (I could so get used to those!) and offered a drink. After rushing to get over there on time from uni I needed something more hydrating than alcohol though, so I sipped on some flavored water by Plenish that I conveniently found in my little bag of goodies.

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The Q&A itself was interesting and touched not just on food and eating, but also on (truly) organic beauty products, i.e. products approved by the Soil Association. It was thus only fitting that we had samples from some of these brands in our goody bags ;). (I’ll do a review of some of the – edible and non-edible – products I got from this and other events in a separate post). A highlight was getting my book signed by Niomi and exchanging a few words with her. She seems like a genuinely delightful person and you can tell how excited she is about her book and her recipes. As for me, it’s great having another fully plant-based recipe book to be inspired by. Oh and I almost forgot: We got to sample some of the food from her book and the falafels were amazing – especially with the peanut sauce that accompanied the vegetable skewers. (I was quite hungry at that point and was luckily sitting right next to a large platter of them, so, while chatting to the lovely Laura from Toronto, I could easily reach out and grab more 😉 )

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The next day I made my way to Whole Foods again, this time the one in Fulham Broadway. Eager not to be in a rush as I had been the day before, I made sure I had enough time and ended up being the first to arrive. As I didn’t feel like queueing outside the building for half an hour I engaged in a much loved pastime – aimlessly browsing through Whole Foods – and eventually came out with my first packet of maca. While waiting in the queue I started reading Deliciously Ella’s Smoothies and Juices while sipping a sample of Ella’s Green Dream Smoothie – nice and thick and full of flavor! There wasn’t any Q&A session at this event, but it was so wonderfully surreal to actually meet Ella, even for only a few moments, have her sign my book and pose for a picture. It was lovely and it made her feel like more of a real person to me – if that makes sense 😀

On my way back to the bus stop I happily munched on one of her hazelnut and raisin energy balls that I’d been excited to discover in the little brown bag containing her book (along with a bottle of the smoothie we’d sampled). It made me smile to think that probably a lot of students new to London were in pubs, drinking beer and eating chips (judging from my course’s Whatsapp group at least!) and might have a different idea of what a cool way to spend the evening is. But that’s what I love about London – it’s easier to fully be yourself and embrace who you are because there’s something for everyone. I’m still in the process of learning who I want to be and what I want to get out of life, but I feel like this is a good place for me to be while I’m asking myself these questions.

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Simple Tomato-Tahini Pasta

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This is one of my go-to speedy recipes for a healthy refueling meal after a workout. It’s so simple in fact, that it’s slightly embarrassing to call it a recipe, but let me bask in my (imagined) creative genius all the same.

What I like about this besides that fact that it’s so quick and easy to make is that it’s incredibly satisfying – the tahini gives the whole thing a creamy and indulgent element, while the veg adds some freshness to it. It’s more carb-based than my usual meals, as I created it for my post-workout needs. l If you want you can also reduce the amount of pasta and top up on more veg and add some beans instead.

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 100g whole wheat, spelt or brown rice pasta
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 heaped tbsp tahini
  • bit of olive oil
  • frozen peas
  • any other fresh or leftover veg, for example zucchini or broccoli
  • optional: sesame seeds (in the top picture I just used mix seeds as I’m out of sesame)

Update: add some hot, smoked paprika to take this to the next level!

Cook the pasta in salt water according to the packet instructions, adding the peas and some chopped veg (the peas only take a few minutes and if you finely dice the zucchini it’ll also cook very quickly. I tend to throw them in 3-4 minutes before the pasta is done), drain, drizzle a bit of olive oil over it before adding and stirring through the tomato purée and tahini (and seasoning with the smoked paprika). Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top (use black ones if you’ve got them – not only do they have more antioxidants but they make the dish look cooler than it probably is). Eat directly or let cool and pack into a tupperware for after the gym 😉 Enjoy!

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Feel Good Fact: Tomatoes contain Lycopene, an antioxidant that can decrease the risk of certain types of cancer by protecting cells against free radical damage. It’s also known for increasing sun protecting for your skin. As Lycopene has a higher bioavailability (i.e. is better absorbed by the body) in tomato paste versus fresh tomatoes, this time-saving meal may be a great way to boost your intake of this powerful antioxidant.

A Sweaty & Sweet Saturday

 

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One of the – many! – things I was looking forward to with regard to moving to London was access to cool events. Back at home I’d read about book signings of people I’m following, cooking classes by people who’ve inspired me and regret living in a small country with mountains and cheese, where plant-based eating hasn’t quite so firmly planted its roots yet. Well, yesterday I made full use of my new, exciting location and spent the morning at the Sweaty Betty Live event and then indulged in Livia’s Kitchen’s delicious Cream-free Cream Tea. It was honestly the best of many great days here so far.

I arrived at the Sweaty Betty event at 7.40 am already, with my boyfriend in tow, hoping to beat the expected crowds. At that time most people were in colorful leggings, getting ready for the first Psycle class (I had been too late to get us tickets including a class – so the sweaty part of the title is a tad misleading and sadly not to be taken quite literally I’m afraid). This was perfect though, as it meant we were among the first visitors to get a free matcha mini facial by Origins, in my case, and, in my boyfriend’s, a hand and arm massage (I didn’t think he was actually going to do it, I heard the lady waiting behind him say to another – a comment I didn’t repeat to him, as I love that he’s supportive and open-minded enough to accompanying me to these, let’s face it, rather more girly events 😉 ).

Back to the important things: The facial was a wonderfully soothing experience, where one incredible smelling, refreshing product after another was applied to my face, leaving me feeling glowing and fragrant. The product the facial was centered around was the Rituali Tea Matcha Madness, of which I received lots of samples that I will happily be trying out at home. Next I got a free manicure and tried out some products at the Neom Organics stand from the Happiness and De-Stress range, while my boyfriend made himself comfortable on a couch and lost himself in his action thriller, only looking up when I came by with free pots of coconut yogurt by the Coconut Collaborative. We also tried our first Deliciously Ella energy balls – cacao & almond and hazelnut & raisin – at the mae deli pop up and were most impressed. There I also got a free sample of Ella’s new products for Neal’s Yard Remedies (Rose, Lime & Cucumber Facial Wash and Moisturizer) which I am dying to test out.

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At 10.30 am we went to a talk on mindfulness by Dr. Melanie Tokley from The Mindfulness Project. Mindfulness is something that’s been on my list of things to get better at for a while now, and the talk was perfect for reminding me to prioritize this. At the end of the session we did a guided mindfulness exercise where we focused on our breath while listening to Melanie’s calming voice. Opening my eyes a few minutes later I felt refreshed, as if I’d been on a mini holiday. This is definitely something I want to consciously incorporate into my daily life. 

We left the event at around 11, armed with goody bags containing things like Sweaty Betty socks, tank tops (I obviously got my boyfriend’s too 😉 ), water bottles as well as samples of Pip & Nut and matcha (for drinking this time). By this point I was feeling very happy and already majorly excited for the next event:

The Cream-free Cream Tea, organized by Olivia Wollenberg of Livia’s Kitchen, was an absolute dream from start to finish. Located at the Beach, Blanket, Babylon bar and restaurant in Shoreditch in a beautiful and spacious room right under the roof, it was an event that more than surpassed my expectations. First of all it was so nice and refreshing to be able to just sit down and tuck into good looking food without worrying about what was in it or downheartedly realizing I wouldn’t be able to eat most of it. It was wonderful having the kind of food that I could enjoy laid out before me in the most inviting way. But the food wasn’t just fully plant-based and gluten-free, it was also utterly divine. From the red pepper hummus with crudités and the finger sandwiches (spicy guacamole and tahini cucumber) to the incredibly indulgent chocolate cupcakes, the gorgeous oat and maca cookies and the raw millionaire bites to – drumroll – the scones that (plain or topped with almond butter and berry chia jam) tasted out of this world , every bite was a delight to the senses.

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The event was not just about food, however, but also about the people sharing it. It was wonderful chatting with people who share my interests and understand where I’m coming from (yes, I’m talking about you Jordan and Gemma), and so inspiring to meet Olivia, who obviously loves what she does and puts her heart and soul into it. So, at the end of the day, what remain with me most are not the many goodies I got (I felt so spoiled!) or even the scrumptious leftovers I took home, but the memories of feeling at peace, understood and completely and utterly happy.

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Tahini Honey Walnut Oats

This is a very simple oatmeal recipe that follows the same principle as my Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Oats: soak some oats, leave them overnight, add yummy things to it the next morning. The inspiration for these flavors came from my time in New York recently. I was staying with a friend and since I wasn’t going to get all fussy and make smoothies every morning I popped over to Whole Foods to find a box of healthy cereal (not so easy let me tell you! I only found one without added sugar in any form) and some rice milk. While looking through her kitchen cupboards for something to spruce up my plain whole grain cereal I came upon an inviting pot of creamy tahini. Added some chopped banana, crushed walnuts and cinnamon along with a big dollop of sesame paste and voilà – I was in heaven.

Here is the flavor combination translated into overnight oats:

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 40g oats
  • brown rice milk (or any other plant-based milk)
  • 1 banana
  • generous tbsp of tahini
  • a few walnuts
  • honey (or maple syrup) to taste
  • cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla pod

Soak the oats in just enough rice milk to make everything wet, without drowning them in liquid. Cover and leave overnight. Mash in a banana the next morning, stir in the tahini and scraped out vanilla, crush some walnuts for on top, drizzle with honey  and sprinkle over some cinnamon.

Variation: If you want this (or any other overnight oat recipe) warm – perfect for a cold gloomy morning – just pop it into the microwave for about two minutes or according to your preference after adding the banana, tahini and vanilla. You can also cook the oats the traditional way on the stove, of course, but I personally find this too much unnecessary work 😉

Feel Good Fact: Tahini is a good source of calcium, which supports bone health.

Hope you enjoy!

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Delicious plant-based food in New York

I was in New York for a few days in the middle of August this year and – my first time in NY as an eager plant-eater – I was keen to see what the big apple had to offer in terms of healthy, whole plant-based foods. I was lucky enough to stay with a friend, so I didn’t eat out every night, but also enjoyed some simple meals at her apartment. Healthy food is expensive, I discovered. Probably not so surprising for most people, but visiting from Switzerland, a notoriously expensive country for eating out, I did have some naive hopes that I could have my açai bowl and eat it too (while feeling good about the price). Regardless, here are some places I ate at and would definitely recommend if you’re in NY or planning to visit. They are not all fully plant-based, but they all have good plant-based options. Before we sink our teeth into them let me just say that I will be awarding them blueberries, 10 being, obviously (the more blueberries the better, right?), the best.

Beyond Sushi Version 2The food: The name already gives this away – sushi, but 100% plant-based sushi. When I mentioned this to my friend she wasn’t very excited – vegan sushi probably conjured up images of boring cucumber rolls and not much else. Well, there was not a single cucumber roll in sight. The menu had only wonderfully unusual and creative sounding rolls, such as „Sunny Side“ (black rice, braised fennel, sun-dried tomato and avocado topped with butternut squash and almond pesto), which all look like works of art – on your plate and hung up on the walls as large printed images. It was tough making a choice but I went for the „Spicy Mang“ (black rice, avocado, mango and English cucumber topped with spicy veggies and toasted cayenne sauce) and also tried some of my friend’s „Chic Pea“ (black rice, roasted eggplant, artichoke and English cucumber topped with saffron chickpea purée and parsley with tahini sauce). Besides the 8 different kinds of sushi rolls they also serve soups, side salads such as seaweed and kimchi, rice bed salads (bowls of black rice topped with greens, various toppings and sauces), rice paper wraps and noodle soups. Besides my fabulous rolls I also had a “green root” noodle salad (green tea noodles, seaweed salad, roasted almonds, sesame seeds, parsley and cilantro with ponzu sauce), which was absolutely delicious. It was a great meal that was almost as pleasing to the eye as to the taste buds. You might be thinking this sounds like some seriously expensive sushi, but it was amazingly affordable: I paid only around $13 (water was free) for the meal. In Switzerland you would probably get 6 measly little cucumber rolls and some water for that price.Version 2

Location: I was at the Midtown one (62 W 56th St.), but there is also one at Union Square (229 E14th St.) and Chelsea Market (75 9th Avenue). The Midtown one was quite small and looked more like a takeaway place, so not exactly a fancy venue or anything, but it was relaxed, bright and full of colorful, mouthwatering pictures of sushi rolls.

Blueberries: blueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberry 9/10

 

Souben 

The food: This place is all about natural, organic, macrobiotic food in traditional Japanese style. I had to look up what macrobiotic means, but it’s basically a nutritional philosophy that revolves around balanced, seasonal and unrefined food to promote physical and spiritual health. The food at Souben is all about fresh vegetables, grains and plant protein, such as beans, tofu and tempeh. I went for the Macro Plate, which is an “ideal balance of steamed greens, vegetables, brown rice, beans and hijiki seaweed” with a sesame vinaigrette. I have to say that the food was tasty and the whole atmosphere very calming. It was around 2pm when I ate there, so there wasn’t much of a hustle and bustle and just knowing that I was eating something health-promoting and based on traditional principles made me feel good. I might mention at this point that I’ve been suffering from chronic stomach problems for several years now and 99% of the time I have symptoms in the evening, before, during and/or after dinner. On that particular day, I was symptom-free after lunch all the way till I went to bed. Coincidence? Maybe. But either way, it was an interesting and beneficial experience.img_6403Location: There’s one in Soho (210 Sixth Avenue at Prince St), which is where I went after some Soho shopping, and another one at 326 East 6th St, between 1st and 2nd Avenue).

Blueberries: blueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberry 8/10 (My meal didn’t excite my taste buds quite as much as the one at Beyond Sushi and the overall style of the place felt a bit muddled to me somehow. The atmosphere was good though and the servers friendly).

 

Franchia Vegan Cafe Version 2The food: Korean, vegan and delicious. That’s all you need to know. Among other things there are kale dumplings, salads, noodle dishes and something called bibimbap – a popular Korean rice dish (choice of white or brown) with vegetables, tofu, tempeh or soy “meat” and various sauces. I went for the Kale and Brown Rice Noodles in Black Bean Sauce, which was an absolute dream. I ate it in a slow, semi-meditative state, enjoying each blissful bite of deep, satisfying flavour. (The extremely relaxed tempo had more to do with my lack of chopstick skills concerning the slippery noodles, but added to the zen-like experience. About half way through though, once my white shirt was already spattered in black bean sauce, I admitted defeat and shamefacedly asked for a fork and spoon.) To accompany my meal I sipped their Organic Lotus Tea, which was wonderfully soothing. They have a very interesting selection of teas, which I would definitely recommend checking out if you’re there.

Location: 12 Park Avenue. I would recommend a reservation, as I wasn’t able to get a table the first time I wanted to eat there, which was for lunch on a weekday. I had no problem getting a table at around 6pm though on a Sunday evening, when I needed an early meal.

Blueberriesblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberry 10/10

 

Saigon Market The food: This Vietnamese place serves up a large variety of dishes – both with meat and vegetarian. I hadn’t researched this place, but met up with some friends here, one of whom had discovered this place while on a particularly bad date. The menu has a section of vegetarian dishes, such as Curry Tofu and Bamboo Steamed Vegetables (which could be paired with a side of brown rice for a healthy plant-based meal). Under the section labelled “Noodles” you’ll also find some fully veggie options, such as the flavor-packed Rice Vermicelli with vegetables, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and a delicious sauce, which is what I went for. It was a huge bowl and I wasn’t able to finish it, but at the same time it was a very light meal, not making me feel sluggish at all.

Location: 93 University Place (near Union Square)

Blueberries: blueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberry 7/10 (The meal itself was delicious, but I’m taking points off because the atmosphere wasn’t particularly warm or modern or exciting, and also due to the fact that there weren’t as many interesting plant-based options as at the previous restaurants.)

 

Whole Foods Takeaway img_6386Since I was staying only 5 minutes away from the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle and have been a fan of this place for years, I came here at least three times – maybe four. It’s perfect for a yummy and nutritious takeaway and what better place to enjoy it at than Central Park, which is literally across the street. (The first time there we ate at the food court area inside, however, as it was just too ridiculously hot and humid to venture outside).The food: While the takeaway area is quite large, with options such as sushi, sandwiches, wraps, pre-packaged salads and a warm buffet, I always made a beeline straight for the cold buffet area where I’d start with some greens – a mix of spinach, rocket and mesclun and add things like quinoa, seaweed, beans, different kinds of hummus, grilled veg and drizzle some balsamic on top. You pay by weight and my large box was between $8-13 (once, after a particularly impressive amount of walking I carbed it up a bit more by adding a whole wheat bagel).Version 2Location: 10 Columbus Circle is the one I went to and there are two more: 250 7th Avenue and 95 E Houston St.

Blueberries: blueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberry 8/10 (It’s invaluable for putting together a healthy meal according to your preferences without having to be fussy. I did, however, have some extremely smoky baba ghanoush once, which completely ruined everything it touched, and the quinoa lacked flavour. In terms of veggie choices for on the go, you can’t beat it though, in my eyes).

 

Juice Generation img_6107This chain was also conveniently located, so I ended up coming here three times during my stay. Besides the actual food I enjoyed the atmosphere in there, even though it was only a take away place. It’s super clean, colourful and fresh – you can see and smell the ingredients they use and everything in there exudes health and positivity.The food: Açai bowls! There are six different kinds: PB Açai, Amazing Green, Protein Revolution, Almond Butter Bliss, Aloha Açai and XO Coco. I tried the first three and they were all incredible and beautifully decorated with fresh fruit and toppings such as cacao nibs and hemp seeds. If I had to pick a favourite it was probably Amazing Green (acai, almond milk, avocado, banana, blueberries, hemp granola – this stuff is so good! – hemp seeds, kale and spinach). It had just enough subtle sweetness and I loved the green colour and the feeling of additional virtue due to the fact that I was having my greens for breakfast. The peanut butter was, in one word: indulgent. If I’d have to fault it I’d say there was too much peanut butter (if that’s even possible!).Version 2Besides açai bowls this place also has wonderful sounding smoothies and juices as well as health shots, vegan lunches such as the Macro Bowl, sushi, Jackfruit Tacos and a Kale Quinoa Burger – I have to admit, though, that I was too much enthralled with the açai bowls to have the attention span for much else – and interesting baked goods (vegan matcha baked donuts anyone?).Version 2

Location: There are quite a few, so I’ll only list the one I went to: 979 Eighth Avenue btw 57th and 58th – check out their website for locations near you.

Blueberries: blueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberry 10/10

Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Oats

This bowl of oats embodies what whole plant-based eating is all about for me: getting to eat something scrumptious, filling and even sinfully sweet, that’s also incredibly good for you! No compromise either on health or taste – it’s a beautiful win-win situation leaving you feeling excited, satisfied (physically and emotionally) and almost a bit smug!

The recipe for this all came about about because I wanted to prepare breakfast for my boyfriend. My boyfriend is vegetarian and likes his dairy, so at my place he’ll usually go for muesli and milk. One particular Sunday afternoon before he came over I realized that we were out of milk. Since he’s not exactly a fan of plant-based milks I started thinking about what I could dish up for him. He’s always been very accommodating to my special needs and desires and I always appreciated the rice milk and oat puffs he’d buy specifically for me, before I switched to bringing my own breakfast along (It’s so easy to bring a smoothie or chia pudding the night before and leave it in the fridge.) While thinking about what he would enjoy I remembered that I used to sometimes prepare a Bircher muesli for him the night before, soaking oats in orange juice, then mixing in Greek yogurt, grated apple, ground hazelnuts, whatever dried fruit was around and drizzling some honey on top. He always loved that. From there I started thinking about what I could make that we could enjoy together. A dairy-free version. Hmm… and then it clicked. Coconut milk! It also had to contain a banana, since my overnight oats always have mashed banana in them – they create such a great texture and wonderful subtle sweetness. And from there the other flavors just fell into place. Here’s how I made it:

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 40g oats
  • rice milk (/any plant-based milk)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk (the kind you use for cooking)
  • 1 heaped tsp cacao powder
  • 1 generous tbsp peanut butter
  • (optional: cacao nibs to decorate and honey or maple syrup for extra sweetness)

Place the oats in a small bowl and cover with just enough rice milk to make everything wet – the oats shouldn’t be swimming in it or anything. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning mash a banana and add it to the oats along with the coconut milk, cacao and peanut butter. The first time I made it I added some honey, but that made it almost too sweet – it felt too much like dessert, my boyfriend said. Not that that was necessarily a bad thing, he added… But we both found that it’s perfectly sweet enough without the honey. I’d suggest trying it without any sweetener and then adding some honey or maple syrup if desired. It’ll still be so much better for you than sugary cereal 😉

Variation: If you’re out of peanut butter (a misfortune I try to protect myself against and hope never happens to you!) or just want to switch things up, try this with tahini instead of peanut butter. My boyfriend actually prefers this version. Here I added a tiny bit of maple syrup though, to combat any potential bitterness from the tahini – feel free to try without though. (See the tahini version below – unfortunately I didn’t have time to decorate properly, as I had a flight to catch!)

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Feel Good Fact #1: Oats protect against heart disease, thanks to their high fiber content and unique compounds, while also stabilizing blood sugar and reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes.

Feel Good Fact #2: Cacao is incredibly high in antioxidants, which neutralize free radical damage and it can also enhance our mood, making us feel good. What better way to start the day?

Restaurant Review – Swiss Edition: Hiltl

I love love love coming to this place for a delicious, healthy yet indulgent meal. It has become a bit of a birthday tradition and I’ve also treated friends to lunch or dinner here for special occasions. Eating out in Switzerland – especially Zurich – is generally more expensive than in some other countries, so for the average student like me, a visit to Hiltl is a wonderful treat, to be savored moment to moment.

It’s a vegetarian restaurant, so not completely plant-based (for example there are curries with paneer). Most dishes are fully plant-based though, so you won’t feel limited at all if you don’t eat any animal products. Also, all dishes have labels, so just look for the “v” for vegan symbol if you’re unsure.

Fun fact # 1: Founded in 1898, Hiltl holds the Guinness World Record for being the “oldest continuously open vegetarian restaurant in the world”.

Fun fact # 2: Restaurant by day, Hiltl turns into a club by night. Just don’t show up in fur – you won’t be allowed to enter!

The food: While you can order à la carte (can’t understand those people!), my recommendation is that you fill up your plate at the enticing and wonderfully colorful buffet. There is an array of cold dishes ranging from exotically flavored salads to lentil and chickpea dishes, bowls of quinoa, vats of good old guacamole and hummus etc. etc. Above the cold options are the warm dishes, where you’ll find falafels, vegetable samosas and other delights. To the side of this buffet area there are hot dishes of curries, rice, sweet potato mash and much more! Oh and don’t forget: you get a complimentary little bread roll or slice of pita bread with your meal that you can pick from a basket (usually includes a glutenfree option).

For dessert you’ll be spoiled for choice again. Besides fresh fruit there are various vegetarian and vegan (soy-based) mousses, such as chocolate, mango and passion fruit, cakes and brownies (at my most recent birthday dinner there I had a vegan sweet potato brownie so good!) and crumbles. To one side of the room there are also glass jars filled with various nuts, seeds, dried fruit and granola. 

My favorite dish: definitely the cold orecchiette pasta salad with a tomato-balsamic dressing, olives and tofu (see picture below). It’s divine and I never miss it. Other favorites that usually make their way onto my plate are the falafels, the seaweed salad, hummus, green beans with walnuts and some fresh mango.

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How does it work? You take a small or large plate and pay by weight. To give you an idea of the price: my large plate usually racks up around CHF 25, while my boyfriend pays between CHF 35-45. My sweet potato brownie, chocolate mousse and mango were around CHF 7.

Bonus: Free water! This is something thrifty students will definitely appreciate, as it’s the exception in Switzerland. Unlike the US where you are always served water free of charge, in Switzerland you’ll probably raise an eyebrow or two if you ask the waiter for tap water in a good restaurant and your request may even be turned down.

Location: I always go to “Haus Hiltl” which is located at Sihlstrasse 28 in central Zurich, close to the Orell Füssli bookstore. There is also “Hiltl Sihlpost” at Europaallee 1A, which opened earlier this year. If you’d like to enjoy this awesome plant-based food with a view, why not check out “Hiltl Dachterrasse” at Bahnhofstrasse 88?

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Extra tip: If you like Hiltl you’ll also want to check out tibits, the slightly more casual sister of Hiltl. The vegetarian pay-by-weight buffet joint was founded by three Swiss brothers in collaboration with the owners of Hiltl. Today there are eight tibits restaurants in Switzerland and… there’s one in London as well! As I’m moving to London this September I was pleasantly surprised to discover this. If I get homesick I’ll know where to go 😉