Eat Smart Brunch at Farmopolis

 

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Can brunching be a hobby? I feel like that’s all I’ve been doing lately on the weekends, but what can a healthy-food-obsessed girl do if there are so many pleasingly plant-based places and exciting events to go to? When I found out about Niomi Smart’s brunch at Farmopolis I jumped at the chance to eat some more of her delicious Eat Smart food (I already got to sample some at her Q&A at Wholefoods in September) and I’m so glad I got my hands on a ticket – it was a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable way to spend part of my Sunday.

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The event started off with refreshing mocktails: Pina Coolada, Cucumber & Melon Muddler (what I went for) and Virgin Mary. Next we were served artisan-style rye toast with different types of chia jams: Strawberry, Orange & Apricot and Plum & Ginger, which were all incredibly tasty. My favorite was the Plum & Ginger, which is on page 57 of Eat Smart. Next was what was, for me, the star of the show: the Swiss Bircher Muesli (page 49). Being (half) Swiss I have had my fair share of Birchermüesli over the years, yet none of them vegan and none of them as yummy as this one! I will definitely be making this, maybe as a lunch (I don’t think I can ever wean myself off of my breakfast smoothie bowls and, hey, why should I!) or afternoon snack. It’s made with almond milk, oats, apple, lemon juice, cinnamon – which gives it a wonderful warming note – raisins, flax- and sunflower seeds. If you have the book I definitely recommend you give it a try!

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The final course was the full English (pages 62-63), consisting of tofu scramble, grilled tomatoes, garlic mushrooms and baked beans. Now, I’m not such a fan of savory dishes for breakfast or brunch and I was semi-considering asking for another bircher instead, but as the whole point was to try several different recipes from the book I went for it and I have no regrets! The flavors all harmonized really well – especially the scramble with the tomatoes and the delicious (!) baked beans with the mushrooms. It was a nice way to end an amazing brunch that left me feeling satisfied, yet energized instead of overly full and sluggish.

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The event was all the nicer thanks to the lovely hostess, Niomi. She’s just as warm and friendly as she comes across in her videos and it was great seeing her in a more relaxed setting with less people than back at the Whole Foods Q&A. What I also love about these events is the people you meet, as more often than not you end up having a lot in common! It was so nice to be surrounded by people also into plant-based eating and a healthy lifestyle in general 🙂

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Tip: check out the Farmopolis website for more interesting events. It’s a café, bar, cinema and event space and is also London’s first floating garden, rehousing plants from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It’s a really nice space to be in and there is so much going on there – this Tuesday, November 29th, for example, there is an event called “Wildlife Drawing: Miniature Pigs”, a drawing class where the subjects are mini pigs!! How cute is that? It was already sold out when I checked though, so I unfortunately won’t be posting about mini pigs any time soon…

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PB & J inspired Energy Balls

I’m so excited about these! The idea came about when I was in New York three months ago and fueled my extensive walking with Lärabars. I’d heard about them and always wanted to try them, so I jumped at the chance and, as you can probably tell from this picture, I really liked them!

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My favorite flavor kept changing, but overall I’m pretty sure it was the Peanut Butter and Jelly one, which is why I set out to recreate it. Looking at the ingredients and seeing just dates, dried cherries and peanuts, I knew it would be easy to make these at home and I was so right. I decided to make them as energy balls, as, let’s face it, that’s way more fun to make. (I absolutely love rolling the mix into balls and it makes me feel like I’m in a Deliciously Ella video – hers being the first energy ball recipe I came in contact with).

Anyway, back to these yummy energizers. They’re super simple and they consist only of four ingredients, which are pretty easy to get your hands on. While I’m a sucker for hemp and chia and all the other “superfood”-y ingredients you often find in energy balls, let’s not forget that an energy ball can be something very simple as well. And, let’s face it, that 1% of maca or whatever is not gonna change your life. Dates and peanuts are perfectly common and widely available ingredients, but come with their own impressive array of benefits. So do the dried cherries, which really give these bites a wonderfully sweet, jammy flavor that goes so well with the peanuts. The flaxseeds I just added because I add them to anything – they’re a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and their regular consumption is linked to positive health benefits, such as lowered risk of breast and prostate cancer.

When I first made these I was so delighted to discover they taste just as good if not better than my beloved Lärabar. To be honest I was getting a bit frustrated while making them, as I was silly enough to buy unshelled peanuts and spent ages shelling them, getting bits of peanut skins everywhere, and then the grinder attachment for my handheld blender wasn’t doing a good job on the dates (worked so much better after I popped them in the microwave for a few seconds),  but once I actually tasted one I was in sheer heaven. In that moment I regretted living alone as I had no one to give one to and go “omg how good are these???” The only friend within walking distance is deathly allergic to peanuts, so I was out of options. Although maybe I shouldn’t complain, as I had more to myself 😉

Makes: 10 balls

Ingredients:

  • 200g Medjool dates or ca. 15  (apparently you can use other kinds, but may have to soak them in hot water first to get the desired squidgy consistency)
  • 65 g or 1/2 cup peanuts; unsalted
  • 65g or roughly 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 heaped tbsp flaxseeds

Grind up the peanuts in the food processor with the flaxseeds till only a few sporadic chunks are left. Pit the dates and process all the ingredients together until you’re left with a nice sticky mix. Now, the best part (besides eating them obviously): take some of the mix and gleefully roll it into a nice little ball. Put aside and repeat. Store these in the fridge or freeze (or just eat them straight away – you can always make more) ;).

Feel Good Fact #1: The natural sugars in dates not only make them taste divine, but also are a great source of energy. The high fiber content of the dates prevents blood sugar levels from skyrocketing – especially in combination with the low glycemic peanuts –  providing a steady source of energy.

 

Feel Good Fact #2: Cherries contain powerful antioxidants which combat free radical damage and they have been shown to reduce inflammation.

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Chocolate Protein Smoothie Bowl (& Mousse)

This bowl of goodness came about by accident. I was up the other night and couldn’t sleep, so I started dreaming about breakfast the next day (doesn’t everyone?) What I’d actually cooked up in my head was pancakes, but the next morning the batter tasted so good and I was so impatient that I just poured the mix into a bowl, topped it with some sliced banana and cacao nibs and my new favorite smoothie (big statement but I stick by it!) was born.

Inspiration behind this whole pancake-turned-smoothie bowl was the  Blissful Brown Rice and Raw Cacao Super Protein from That Protein that I’d bought on a whim during a “buy one get one half off” sale at Holland & Barrett yet had barely used. (For my usual breakfast smoothie I always use hemp- check out the recipe here.)

The protein powder along with the peanut butter and banana make this breakfast an excellent source of plant protein (1 serving has almost 20g).

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 heaped tbsp (ca. 30g) brown rice and raw cacao protein powder*
  • 1 heaped tbsp peanut butter (or other nut butter); I use the 100% one from Meridian
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1/3 cup brown rice milk (I use Rude Health, which has a wonderful natural sweetness)
  • optional: cacao nibs, to decorate

*My blend is made up of 60% brown rice protein powder and 40% organic raw cacao, so you can easily make your own mix, using a different protein source as well if you’d like – although the taste may vary (brown rice protein is great because it’s quite neutral and doesn’t interfere with the chocolatey taste).

Blend all this together (you probably don’t even need a blender if you mash the banana well), pour into a bowl and I dare you to eat this without a big smile on your face! It’s so beautifully indulgent and keeps you full and fueled for a long time. I find the ripe banana and the brown rice milk make this perfectly sweet, but you can always add a bit of maple syrup, honey or even a date if you’d like.

Variation: Chocolate Protein Mousse 

If, like me, you are always in search of more indulgence, then this is a way to take the “dessert for breakfast” element of this smoothie bowl to the next level. By omitting the brown rice milk (or adding just enough so it all comes together) you end up with a lusciously thick and luxurious mousse that honestly tastes like dessert. No joke, this stuff is amazing. Without exaggeration, it is the most indulgent healthy breakfast I’ve ever had. Enjoy!

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Feel Good Fact #1: Cacao is high in essential minerals, including magnesium and iron (did you know it has a much higher iron content per 100g than meat?) and chock-full of antioxidants, which can protect against cancer and other disease by preventing cell damage.

Feel Good Fact #2: Peanut butter is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (make sure you buy the most natural version possible or make your own using just peanuts) and peanuts have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cardio 4 Cake

Could there be a better combo than cardio and cake? …Tea and cake … cake and cake.. ? Ok, maybe it’s not the most exciting combo out there, but a great one nonetheless and definitely a balanced one. Balance is the key word behind the Cardio 4 Cake event organized by Olivia Wollenberg from Livia’s Kitchen (you know, the brand with the amazing and healthy raw millionaire bites?!) While her brand is all about indulgence and treats it also goes hand in hand with being good to yourself on other levels, such as exercising. And what better way to refuel after a grueling workout than with something utterly delicious and indulgent, yet full of good things!

The grueling workout took place at 1Rebel in the form of the Reshape class. I’ll readily admit I was a little scared, as, while I regularly go to the gym and absolutely love exercise and need it to stay sane, I have never been big into cardio. As little as 2 years ago, the cardio element would have been my idea of utter and total hell. My misgivings did not leave me as we entered a dark room full of treadmills on one side and black boxes with shiny metal objects on the other – looks like a torture chamber, I muttered to my friend Gemma. I have never regretted a workout in my life though and this was of course no different. We did intervals of cardio and weight training, so it didn’t feel like too much cardio at once – although it definitely pushed my limits! The instructor was great and didn’t yell at us (too much), which also definitely helped. It was an awesome workout and I’m really proud of myself for keeping up.

After a wonderfully relaxing shower (loved the array of products 1Rebel provides) it was time for Phase II of the event: cake! I started off with a blondie, which was the most unhealthy-tasting healthy treat I think I’ve ever had (if I’m not mistaken, this is the recipe – so definitely give these a go!). Next I had one of these blueberry porridge squares that I’ve actually made from her blog and are really good! And of course I couldn’t resist having one of each of the 3 Raw Millionaire Bites flavors: salted date caramel, almond & raisin and chocolate orange  (would have been rude not to). I honestly still can’t say which one is my favorite – I keep changing my mind after each one. And finally, I shamelessly wrapped up one (ok, two) blondies. Already looking forward to having one tomorrow with a cup of tea!

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It was wonderful having these treats after a tough workout and feeling so ravenous! This event was such a great idea and I also loved having a quick chat with Olivia, who was just as sweet and friendly as when I met her at her Cream Free Cream Tea in September (check out my post on that, as well as her website for future events – I 100% recommend them!).

Honestly couldn’t think of a better way to spend Saturday morning 🙂