Oaty Bowls of Goodness

Oats are one of my ultimate comfort foods. I used to regularly have overnight oats for breakfast with mashed banana and hemp protein – but after making my first smoothie bowl I never looked back 😀 Since then I’ve been indulging in my love of oats later on in the day, as a quick, warming dinner or the perfect post-workout lunch.

They are full of comforting carby goodness and are wonderfully versatile! It’s so easy to switch things up a bit, adding different ingredients to the porridge, or playing around with toppings.

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As people have been asking me more and more, I thought I’d share with you how I make my oat bowls – from the basic recipe to what goes into the nut buttery sauces I’ve started using.

Basic recipe:

  • 70g whole oats
  • 1 cup liquid (usually a mix of almond milk and water)
  • pinch of salt

This will make a very thick, stodgy porridge – which is just how I love my oats. If you know you prefer a thinner, more runny porridge, you’ll want to add more liquid. You can also modify the quantities to make more or less, as desired, but this is the basic ratio I use.

Flavor fun:

  • adding a tsp of vanilla extract
  • looseleaf tea – I love rooibos and/or honeybush – maybe my South African roots coming through 😉  Depending on how coarse the tea is, you can get a slightly gritty texture, so you might want to grind the tea into a finer powder
  • cacao powder
  • turmeric, ginger & cinnamon
  • maca (I’ve also previously uploaded a recipe for Maple Maca Oats)
  • lucuma – I use this sometimes to naturally sweeten the porridge a bit, as I don’t want too much sweetness in the oats if I’m using a sweet topping; you could, at this stage, also, however, add maple syrup, another sweetener of your choice, or even some mashed banana to the oats
  • protein powders – I use hemp or brown rice protein if I want an extra protein punch

Toppings:

  • fruit – I always love having some berries on top, fresh or frozen, warm or cold; you can also slice up some banana, or add any other fruit you’ve got at hand
  • chia jam – I heat up 150g frozen berries (usually blueberries & raspberries) with 1 tbsp chia seeds and ca. 1.5 tbsp maple syrup, till you get the perfect gloopy, jammy mix (ca. 10 min. on medium heat)
  • crushed nuts – great for an extra crunch; I love using walnuts and pecans
  • nut butter – if you’re a nut butter addict like me, this is essential! Peanut butter, walnut butter (!), hazelnut, almond … or, why not go for a seed butter – I’ve found pumpkin seed butter goes really well with strawberries on porridge
  • sauces – my go-to sauce is mixing 1 tbsp (or more 😉 ) of nut or seed butter with almond milk and maple syrup, adding cacao powder if I want a chocolatey, nutella-like vibe, or maca, for some unique, warming goodness
  • chocolate – what could be better than a square or two of your favorite chocolate melting into the hot oats?

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(Lazy) Method:

Pour your oats into a microwave-proof bowl, add a pinch of salt, and whatever you want to flavor it with, such as cacao powder, lucuma, rooibos tea and vanilla extract, stir, add the liquid and then pop into the microwave. I put it in for 1.5 minutes, so no time at all! While that’s cooking away for you, chop up some fruit or whatever you’re topping the oats with, and whip up a quick sauce, e.g. almond butter, maca, almond milk and maple syrup – just stiring all the ingredients together, tasting along the way, until you get the desired sweetness and balance of flavors and the consistency you’re going for.

As you can see, the options are literally endless!

Hope you enjoyed reading about how I make my oats, and let me know what your favorite ways of having porridge are!

xoxo

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Feel Good Fact: Oats are a great way to get more heart-healthy fiber, and are high in manganese. A diet high in fiber has also been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

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Plant-based Pizza in London

I have been happily eating my way through many of London’s plant-based and plant-eater-friendly restaurants over these past few months. During that time I have also had my share of vegan pizza – the best of which I’d like to familiarize you with, for when those pizza cravings hit!

The Basic: Zizzi’s vegan pizza

I’d seen this pizza on Instagram quite a bit, and had marveled at how “normal” it looked. I had to try it, and, my not-exactly-a-health-freak sister staying with me, I’d decided it was the perfect opportunity to give Zizzi’s a go. The great thing about Zizzi’s is that it’s perfect for a meal with non-plant-based friends or family. All you have to do is ask for the vegan menu or, when you order your pizza, say you’d like the one with vegan cheese. No fuss, and practical, as it’s such a wide-spread chain. I’ve been there twice, meanwhile, and had a classic vegan mozzarella pizza with spinach, and both times seriously enjoyed it. Proper, satisfying pizza – very similar to the kind I ate before going plant-based. The cheese is coconut-based (don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like coconut in the slightest!), but it was quite soppy, and not like real cheese in texture (maybe good if you’re on a date and don’t want to battle the cheese strings) 😉

Overall verdict: a good, basic option, especially if you’re out with people who don’t share your excitement about plant-based eating, but definitely the most boring one on my list, so read on for more exciting options!

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The Classic: Farmacy House Pizza

Farmacy is one of those places where simply everything is a winner – at least in my experience so far. This naturally extends to the cashew-cheese and herby roasted veggie topped pizza, which was probably one of the tastiest pizzas of my life. A good sourdough base, classic Italian flavors, but the intensity of the flavors – incredible! Now, bear in mind, it was my first ever vegan pizza, so that might have added to the experience (such a treat after months of no pizza!). But I’d go for it again in a heartbeat. I’d probably share it with someone next time, as it was quite oily and, therefore, incredibly filling!! Gotta have room for the amazing desserts!

There’s also a Calzone on the menu, with macadamia cheese, which is on my list of things to try!

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The Original – The Nr. 1 from Franco Manca

I’m calling this The Original, as they use a traditional Neapolitan method of making their pizza, and because it may very well be the original vegan pizza. How come? No cheese my friends. Just a fabulous super doughy sourdough base with a flavorsome tomato oregano sauce. You can also add extra toppings, such as romanesco, as I did. This one is another great option for when you’re out with your omnivorous friends. There are a whole bunch of Franco Manca’s scattered around London, so it’s easy to satisfy that pizza craving without having to go somewhere “special”. Also, at under £5, this was the cheapest dine-in pizza I’ve ever had in my life! Hard to beat.

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And, saving the best for last:

The Exotic: Pickywops

On the other side of the spectrum, we have a pizza place that doesn’t simply try to emulate “regular” pizza, but goes above and beyond with innovative pizza bases and crazy topping combos. It is also one of the pricier pizza places on here, but so worth it! I discovered it on Instagram, and am so glad, as I never would have seen it otherwise. My boyfriend and I walked past it and only when we doubled back saw the black sign indicating to head into what looked like a dark, run-down shopping area, somewhat over-confidently named “Shopping Palace”.

Inside Pickywops, though, there was a very welcoming, olfactorily pleasing atmosphere, and one of the owners immediately came up to us and took the time to explain the concept and all the different options. And there are a lot of options! Besides all the topping combos there are also the different bases: Hemp, Burned Wheat (need to try this one next!), Multigrain, Kamut, Turmeric and Spirulina.

Of course I went for the only pizza I’ve ever seen with blueberries on top: the Vegan Temptation (mozzarella, kale, broccoli, almond ricotta and blueberries). The hemp base tasted incredible, and was wonderfully soft yet also had a nice crisp. I also loved the kale and broccoli on top, which went so well with the almond ricotta and the blueberries providing little bursts of freshness. Honestly up there as one of my top food memories… sitting at a little square out in the sun with my boyfriend, sharing mind-blowing pizza out of the box, messing ricotta-covered kale on myself and feeling so blissfully happy.

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The pizza pictured at the very top of this post is also from Pickywops (mozzarella, kale, walnuts and sliced pear on the hemp base).

Hope you enjoyed reading about these various plant-based pizza options!

xoxo

Update: Since writing this post I have another recommendation for you – a serious must-visit: FED by Water. This vegan Italian place near Dalston Junction has epic pizza – where you can choose from white, green (hemp) or black (charcoal) dough, which you can have soft or crispy (go for soft!!!with the most incredible toppings. The menu seems to have changed a bit since I was last there, but I can definitely recommend the Sempre Verde (tomato sauce, homemade cashew cheese, smoked tofu, capers, leccino olives, wild rocket, Italian extra virgin olive oil and lemon), pictured below:

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Balance Festival

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Today I was back at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane for another great wellbeing event – reminiscent of Fare Healthy, but with its own awesome vibe. While I had an amazing time at Fare Healthy back in February, I learned a few things that I am pleased to say I implemented at Balance Festival: 1) less talks, more food sampling, and 2) not just sampling, but also buying!

This way I didn’t feel like I’d missed out on some awesome brands, rushing from one talk to the next. The talk I did attend – on brain health and diet by Kimberley Wilson (who proved she is not only great at baking cakes!) – was incredibly interesting. Nothing that I hadn’t somehow come across before, but it was good to hear it all in context, with the emphasis on what’s truly important. (Which, in case you’re wondering, is: omega 3s, lots of fruit and veg – especially leafy greens – nuts, seeds, beans, vitamin D, polyphenols; and did you know: eating berries boosts brain function 90 minutes after consumption! Definitely will keep that in mind for Friday’s exam – might make some energy balls using the Arctic Power Berries I got 😉 )

To keep this post as short and sweet as I can, considering my ability to babble on forever about these kinds of things, I will share with you the two stand out food brands that I came across, and two of my favorite products I sampled.

Stand Out Food Brands

Escape & Bake

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This newly launched gluten-, refined sugar- and dairy-free treats business garnered lots of “ooohs” and “aaahs” by the people gathering around, and it’s no surprise why. There was a truly divine array of desserts, from millionaire peanut butter bars and donuts to red velvet layer cake and an incredibly indulgent looking raspberry chocolate tart. Everything looked an absolute dream. I was literally in a state of distress trying to make a decision! I ended up getting a Raw Snickers Bar (unadulterated bliss) and a Raw Chocolate Peanut & Almond Butter Brownie (can’t wait to have that tomorrow!!). They are selling these two treats as well as some others online. Definitely keep on eye on this brand!

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The Vurger Co

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This was honestly the best burger of my (not just plant-based!) life. I wasn’t planning on having one, as I tend to avoid mushrooms and onion, but I couldn’t resist a bite of my friend’s burger, and was so smitten that I had to get one of my own. (Nevermind the fact that I’d just had a raw snickers bar and wasn’t even hungry). I had the “MLT” Vurger, with walnut pesto, rocket, sundried tomatoes and vegan cheese. Every bite was packed with amazing flavor, and the bun was a dream. I know they also do a truffle mac & cheese (also fully plant-based), which I’m dying to try. Definitely check out where they pop up next – their food is too good to miss!

Favorite Products Sampled

Mindful Bites nut butter – I was really taken by the Almond & Maca and the Hazelnut & Berries nut butter. Especially the hazelnut one, as it was not only delicious, but also truly unique – something that I think is hard in a nut butter nowadays. These nut butters are proper “treat” nut butters, for a slightly more special nutty occasion than your every day quick spoon-in-the-jar fix. The only reason I didn’t buy any is that I have already quite a few nut and seed butters open, to state it mildly, and they are a bit pricey. Definitely on my list of treats though!

Pollen & Grace – I sampled their Sweet Potato & Peanut Butter Flapjack as well as the Raw Cacao Protein Bar and was in raptures! I didn’t get any this time around, as the shelf life is not too long (a good thing, as they’re not full of junky preservatives!), and I felt like I’d bought quite a few things already, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for these in future at Planet Organic. They were super tasty and full of goodness! A fabulous, nourishing treat. (Note: the sweet potato ones are plant-based,  but not vegan, as they contain some honey).

Short and sweet? Definitely sweet for me – so many awesome food memories 😀 But as always, these events are about so much more than just the food. It’s the people you share the food with, the people whose eyes light up with yours at the wonderful things you taste and discover, the people who inspire you and those vital ones who will tell you if your mouth is covered in chocolate.

Hope you enjoyed reading, and if you happen to be going to Balance tomorrow, do check out some of these brands!

xoxo

Fudgy Brownies

Hi everyone! Today I’d like to share a recipe with you from the lovely Emma. I had a tough time choosing as all her recipes look and sound amazing and are mostly centered around breakfast or dessert (or both! check out her latest recipe for Banoffee Pie Oats!) , which is my absolute favorite kind of food. These fudgy sweet potato brownies look incredible and I can’t wait to make them once I have an oven again!
Do check out her site for more fabulous recipes, as well as all things running-related. Hope you enjoy! xoxo

Pea Shoot Crepes

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Crepes are something I never ever liked making. Pancakes, sure! But crepes? I had the prejudice that they’re super fiddly and will surely end in a scrambled mess. And since going plant-based, I honestly hadn’t given them a thought. Until, that is, I found a brilliant and super simple recipe by the inspiring James Wythe from Healthy Living James.

Having had great success with his these sweet ones, I decided to make a savory version, so I would be able to indulge in my newfound love of crepes at any time of day! The result: fabulously green, soft crepes that went so well with the hummus spread inside, the cherry tomatoes adding a burst of freshness and some smokey paprika for a bit of heat. Delicious and also an easy way to get in some more greens!

So let’s get started:

Makes: 4 medium-sized crepes

Ingredients:

  • 95 g flour (I used wholemeal spelt, but others, e.g. buckwheat, will work too)
  • 260 ml water
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • salt
  • 2 large handfuls pea shoots (washed and thoroughly dried)
  • oil for cooking (I used olive oil)
  • optional: hummus to fill (a nice pesto or tapenade would be good to, though, I can imagine!), cherry tomatoes and some some hot smokey paprika for on top

Method:

  • Mix together the flour, water, salt and ground flaxseeds, then add the pea shoots and purée till all green!
  • Heat a bit of oil in a non-stick pan and pour enough of the batter in to cover the base. Cook until done and then flip. (Be patient with this, as they are delicate if you try to turn them over too soon. I had to learn this the hard way when I made the sweet version!)
  • Once they’re cooked, fill them with your filling of choice. I had them with hummus, topped with cherry tomatoes and some hot smokey paprika.

Hope you enjoy!

xoxo

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Feel Good Fact: Pea shoots are super nutritious, being high in vitamins C and A as well as folic acid.