Yumchaa Indian Summer Porridge

Porridge is one of the ultimate nourishing comfort foods, and – as we’re heading towards colder weather – it seems like many of us are finding ourselves drawn to the cozy carby comforts of a hot bowl of oats.

While I do always like to mix things up with my porridge, my absolute favorite right now is tea-flavored porridge, using the limited edition ‘Indian Summer‘ rooibos blend by innovative tea company Yumchaa. I took one whiff of this and knew I would love its exotic, warming fragrances, which include chai spices, cinnamon, holy basil, ground roasted almonds and carrot flakes. The mix also contains fun little shooting stars that look absolutely delightful if you pick them out and use them to decorate your porridge.

This beautiful blend infuses my morning porridge bowl with so much flavor – its notes of Indian summer bringing an alluring warmth to winter mornings.

This is not the first of Yumchaa’s teas that I’ve tried, as they’ve been so kind as to send me some of their other flavors in the past, as well as invite me to a wonderfully relaxing Yoga & Mindfulness evening at their Tottenham Street Cafe in London, which was followed by tea (of course) and cake.* I really love their unique teas (favorites include the white tea-based ‘Gentle Giant‘, the mind-blowing ‘Blue Voodoo‘ (it really turns your tea blue!), fiery rooibos-based ‘Chilli Chilli Bang Bang‘ and ‘Peanut Butter & Jam‘), the packaging, and the vibe in their lovely cafes, which are worth keeping up to date with for things like yoga brunches 😉

*[While I have been sent this tea, I want to mention that I haven’t been paid to endorse Yumchaa or any of their products, and am only stating my genuine thoughts and opinions.]

Now, enough chatter, let’s get to the recipe!

 

Ingredients (for 1 serving)

Porridge

  • 40 g oats
  • 20 g quinoa flakes (or more oats)
  • 200 ml boiling water
  • 1 heaped tbsp Yumchaa Indian Summer tea
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp full fat coconut milk + 2 tbsp water (or 4 tbsp oat milk)

Toppings

  • ca. 50 g frozen berries, defrosted
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • orange zest, from 1/2 orange
  • (maple syrup to sweeten, if desired)
  • additional: mango, nut or seed butter

 

Instructions:

  1. The night before: Pour the boiling water into a pan, mix with the looseleaf tea, place the lid on and leave overnight. (Alternative: grind the tea into a fine powder and use in your porridge the morning you make it; this saves time and adds extra flavor, but can leave you with gritty bits if the tea is not finely ground).
  2. The next morning, pour the liquid through a sieve and then back into the pan. Heat up and add the oat and quinoa flakes.
  3. Let the flakes soak up the tea-flavored water while cooking on medium heat for a few minutes.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk & water/ or oat milk as well as the maple syrup and let the porridge cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  5. While the porridge is cooking, make the chia jam by combining all the ingredients (berries, chia seeds, orange juice & zest, and – if using – maple syrup) and heating up, either in another small pan or in the microwave.  Mash it all together with a fork and set aside.
  6. Once the porridge is cooked and wonderfully creamy, serve together with the chia jam and any other toppings you desire, like mango and walnut butter.
  7. Enjoy! (Maybe with a cup of Indian Summer 😉 )

xoxo

 

IMG_7783.jpg

Cauliflower Butter Bean Falafels

IMG_6564

Hello and happy Monday!

I’m back with another recipe – one that I’ve been dreaming about for quite a while now. As some of my friends know, I am slightly obsessed with a certain kind of falafel: the cauliflower butter bean falafels from the Deliciously Ella Delis in London. They are an absolute dream – perfect taste & texture – and I could never tire of them. When I was working at Wilderness Festival this August, I ate an absurd amount of them (I think my total count for the 5 days came up to 46 – don’t judge until you’ve tried them!), and got to take a generous amount home. And after all that, I am most definitely still obsessed.

So obsessed that I have tried to recreate them. And while the Deli ones will always be the epitome of falafel perfection, I am so happy with this recipe, and know I will keep coming back to it. Hope you enjoy it too!

Ingredients:

  • 250 g raw cauliflower that has been processed to a pulp (make sure to squeeze the water out after)
  • 1 can butter beans (drained weight: 240 g), processed to a paste
  • 50 g ground almonds
  • 50 g wholemeal spelt flour (or buckwheat, to make them gluten-free)
  • 1/2 20 g bunch of fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (+ more for brushing on top)
  • 1 small dried chili, chopped (or chili flakes)
  • salt

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 °C.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and form into balls, flattening slightly. (I got around 14 small/medium-sized falafels). Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, brush with some olive oil, and bake for ca. 20-25 minutes. (Oven time will vary according to oven and size of falafels, so keep checking up on them).

Serve anyway you like, for example with quinoa and salad, or eat as a snack 😉 (they’re very handy to pack along in a tupperware)!

Enjoy!

xoxo

More London (Vegan) Food Recommendations

IMG_4142.jpg

If you’ve been following my Instagram posts and stories, you’ll have seen that the past few days I was back to doing what I do best: eating my way through London like the hungriest of hungry caterpillars. My schedule for those 5 days was literally a list of people to catch up with, and places to eat at (luckily food and friends can easily be combined 😉 ).

While it’s always tempting to return to old favorites, I wanted to try some new places; and I am happy to say that they are all worth recommending.

 

Cupcakes & Shhht

IMG_3836.jpg

This super cute fully vegan (and mostly gluten-free) cafe at The Artworks near Elephant & Castle is a must-visit for anyone looking for a relaxed breakfast and latte, tasty treat or crazy freakshake. I got there at 9 am and, as the first person there, snagged the cozy little outside seating area. Very much torn between the pancakes, pink waffles and peanut butter & jelly freakshake (!!), I ended up choosing the first (I can rarely resist pancakes). They were served with sliced bananas, berries, cinnamon, lots of luscious maple syrup and Oatley cream – every bite the ultimate comforting treat! I thoroughly enjoyed these with my rice milk matcha latte. And, never one to miss an opportunity for vegan dessert, I got a little chocolate cupcake with matcha frosting, to share with friends later. (We weren’t really able to taste the matcha, but it was wonderfully chocolatey and the perfect spongey texture).

Note – They also have a stall in Camden where you can get your hands on their goodies.

IMG_3832.jpg

IMG_3855.jpg

 

Itadaki Zen

IMG_3590.jpg

Vegan authentic Japanese cuisine? Yes please! Shocking disclosure: I knew about this place for over a year, and even walked past it numerous times without noticing it (?!), and only just made it there. But let’s not dwell on the past. Just learn from my mistake and go there as soon as you can! My friend and I ordered up a feast – including various sushi rolls (not a boring cucumber roll in sight, may I just say), seaweed, miso soup and delicious adzuki bean and sesame puddings for dessert. It was a real treat, all in traditional Japanese style (don’t just take my word for it – my Japanese friend also gave it the thumb’s up 😉 ). Just don’t forget to make a reservation, at least on a Saturday evening.

IMG_3610.jpg

 

Vegan Express

IMG_3304.jpg

This place was a find by my lovely friend Leila (@_lifeofleila) who suggested we try it before getting ready for the HBC Health Blog Awards last Thursday. I’m so glad she did, as – located in area I probably wouldn’t have passed through otherwise (near Tooting Broadway) – I  might have missed out on the biggest muffin ever 😀 But first things first: The menu is full of incredible-sounding savory dishes, from the black bean and broccoli burger, sweet and savory buckwheat waffles and a host of pizzas, to tea-smoked aubergine, grilled tandoori tofu and the wonderfully fresh and flavorsome quinoa, avocado, green bean and spinach salad I had. I have to admit though, that my attention was immediately grabbed by the display of mega-muffins, whose incredibly tall tops made them look like mushrooms that had just sprouted out of a fairytale. I ended up going for the double chocolate one for dessert. It was a teeny tad on the dry side, but very satisfying! (Is it just me, or are ‘proper’/not-super-dense vegan muffins hard to come by?).

 

Pop Brixton

IMG_3761.jpg

I only found out about this place thanks to the fabulous Kym (@brixtonfoodfiend) who – you may have guessed it – lives in that South London district. It reminded me of Box Park in Shoreditch (which I also recommend; in particular Cook Daily), and I love the indoor-outdoor, quirky and colorful feel to it all. Luckily I was spared the dilemma of choosing, by following the recommendations of local vegan foodie Kym. Accordingly, I went for the tofu ramen (ask for the egg-less noodles for a vegan option) and veggie dumplings from Koi Ramen Bar – both incredible! The dumplings were a dream – with a wonderfully crisp and golden bottom, and the ramen full of flavor. I messily slurped up every last noodle and every drop of delicious broth.

There are lots of other tempting options, including a Ghanaian place that was unfortunately closed (tip: don’t go on a Sunday).

IMG_3774.jpg

 

Boys ‘n’ Berry

IMG_3370.jpg

This is another one suggested by Leila, and as soon as I saw vegan pancakes on the menu I was more than eager to try it. However, long story short, the pancakes turned out not to be vegan after all. In a series of unfortunate events, not unlike something from a Greek tragedy, the online menu turned out to have been wrongly labeled (‘vg’ is actually vegetarian, and ‘v’ vegan), and my friend who kindly called to double check (strong suspicions were aroused in light of the eggs labeled as ‘vg’), was given wrong information by a member of staff. Hungry and eager for pancakes, it was a devastating blow to discover the mix-up on arrival. I have to say I am not at all impressed with the wrong labeling of the menu, the badly informed member of staff and the lack of a seemingly sincere apology. Also not impressed with how the mistake has not been rectified on the website. (Ok, I couldn’t keep it short, but it’s just too cruel to falsely promise a vegan pancake option!).

But why am I still recommending this place? The quinoa porridge (perfectly sweet, with berries and almond butter) and oat milk matcha latte I had were absolutely delicious, and I genuinely enjoyed both. Definitely going to try and recreate the former at home. My friends were also very pleased with their shakshuka And, as the place has a nice, trendy vibe, it’s definitely worth a mention.

Just *be warned* if you’re looking forward to a stack of plant-based pancakes – you’re at the wrong place. (For the perfect plant-based pancake fix go to Cupcakess & Shhht – see above – Farmacy or Redemption instead)

 

Pride Kitchen, Neal’s Yard

IMG_4142.jpg

Ok, this is not really a new place for me, as I’d been before and recommended it in my ultimate guide to London food spots. I’m mentioning it again because it’s had a menu change, and because the meal I had there was just so stunning that it deserves some extra love ❤ It’s a tiny, comfortable and fresh-feeling little place in the beautiful oasis that is Neal’s Yard (26 Grains and Wildfood Cafe nearby), with way too many delicious options on the menu to just go once. I went for the Green Feast – which truly was a feast, and also had some of my friend’s super tasty ‘carbonara’. As part of our dessert we shared a chocolate banana muffin, which was really yummy, and not too sweet. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the lattes! That would have been a crime. It was so hard deciding which to go for (raspberry rose latte anyone?), but I was incredibly happy with my fresh turmeric latte (the Golden Spice one is also turmeric, but with powdered instead of fresh), and also sipped some of the matcha latte with rose petals on top. Top marks for this place – it was an absolute treat from start to finish.

IMG_4004.jpg

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these places – It’s been wonderful reliving lots of delicious memories 😉 Let me know if you check them out, or if you have any recommendations of your own!

xoxo

Chickpea ‘Omelette’

IMG_2441.jpg

I always love coming across new, exciting and – of course – yummy things to make. Best of all are those simple enough to easily become part of your regular food repertoire, but still special enough to make you excited every time 😉 I very much suspect this will be the case for me with this chickpea ‘omelette’ that I recently tried out for the first time, after hearing about it from my friend Amy.

Probably more of a farinata, if we’re being technical, this vegan ‘omelette’ is not only super simple, but also so satisfying, nourishing and filling. It’s also very adaptable, as you can flavor it any way you want and chuck in whatever ingredients you have lying around.

Here is my simple take on it, but feel free to let your imagination run wild! (I’m thinking a tahini drizzle, fresh coriander and pomegranate seeds for next time…)

 

Ingredients: (serves 1)

  • 80g chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup + 1-2 tbsp water
  • 1 heaped tsp ground flaxseeds
  • salt
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dried chives
  • hot smoked paprika
  • assorted vegetables (I used zucchini, red and yellow peppers and some pumpkin)
  • Optional: hot smoked paprika, fresh rocket, more herbs, nutritional yeast (etc.)

 

Method:

  1. Whisk together the chickpea flour, water, ground flaxseeds and baking soda, and season with salt, cayenne pepper, chives (and any other herbs); set aside. The batter should be thickish, like pancake batter, but also runny enough so you it spreads around the pan.
  2. Thinly slice your veggies, add some oil to a non-stick frying pan and stir-fry them till just about cooked; tip out into a bowl. (Alternative: boil or steam).
  3. Add a bit more oil into the pan, and then pour in the chickpea flour mixture so that it forms a pancake. Turn down the heat and let cook for a few minutes (you’ll see the edges cooking through and bubbles starting to form).
  4. Add your veggies on top and let cook for longer. Cover the pan with a lid.
  5. Leave the omelette as is, and wait till the batter is fully cooked – you can then slide it off directly onto your plate, or fold it – or flip the omelette so it cooks quicker (which is what I did).
  6. Sprinkle some hot smoked paprika, more chives, nutritional yeast and fresh rocket on top. It’s also great with smashed avocado, and you can fold it to make yummy wraps.

Enjoy!

xoxo

 

Blackberry Vanilla Cake – The Zesty Lime

IMG_1244 (1).jpg

Hi guys 🙂

Today I’m sharing with you a recipe by my wonderful friend and gifted foodie Rebecca (you may know her gorgeous account: @thezestylime – if not, I highly recommend you check it out for stunning plant-based food porn!).

Rebecca was sweet enough to surprise me with a slice of this blackberry vanilla cake at my farewell dinner in London, and I was blown away by how delicious and satisfying it was. It’s not very surprising, therefore, that hers was the first cake I baked upon being reunited with an oven! (My student flat’s kitchen reflected the widespread prejudice that students only live off of ramen noodles and microwave pizza).

I’ve been back in Switzerland for two weeks, and have already made this cake twice – if that’s not love than I don’t know what is 😉 It’s definitely a keeper, and I can’t be more pleased to share it with you today:

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups gluten-free flour blend
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2 tbsp cold water)
  • 1 cup oat milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (+ 1/2 cup)

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup coconut condensed milk
  • 3-5 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 ° celsuis.
  2. Make a flax egg by combining 1 tbsp milled flaxseed and 2 tbsp cold water in a small bowl. Stir together and let sit to thicken up.
  3. Sift flour into a large bowl, then add rest of dry ingredients- coconut sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir together well.
  4. Make a crater in the middle of the dry ingredients and whisk in the flax egg, non-dairy milk, vanilla, melted coconut oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar.
  5. Lightly grease a 7-9 inch pan (round or square, depending on which shape you prefer) with coconut oil and pour the cake batter in.
  6. Sprinkle the 2 cups blackberries into the batter, pushing some underneath so they will be baked through the cake and not just on the top. Save the 1/2 cup to sprinkle on top part way through baking if the batter rises to cover all the blackberries.
  7. Bake (1 hr 25 mins) on the middle rack of the oven. If using a spring form pan, place a baking tray underneath as it may leak. After approx. 55-60 mins check the cake, since baking times may vary depending on your oven and exact size of pan. Check every 10-15 mins until cake is fully baked.Remove cake from oven and cool for at least 30 mins. *Note* As oven temperatures can vary so much, I recommend checking earlier already – the cake only took 30 minutes to bake in my oven.
  8. For the topping combine the coconut condensed milk with the fresh lemon juice and combine. Set aside whilst cake cools. Then serve with lemon drizzle and fresh blackberries.

IMG_1743.jpg

Happy Baking!

And don’t forget to tag the lovely Rebecca (@thezestylime) if you post your blackberry cakes on social media! 🙂

xoxo

 

Favorite London Food Spots – the ULTIMATE Guide

IMG_7710.jpg

My year in London has come to an end, and, in some ways, it’s been the best year of my life. Although this year has been about a whole lot more than food, I definitely made it my mission to try as many great plant-based and plant-eater-friendly places as I could.

I’ve decided to share with you here my favorite food spots from this year. On the one hand, because I’ve been getting more frequent requests for recommendations, and, on the other, because I want to relive some of the most glorious food moments from this past year instead of rechecking the footnotes for my dissertation.

Some places you may have been to or heard of, but I’m willing to bet you haven’t tried my insider tip 😉 (Warning – it’s a long scroll down!)

 

Favorite Restaurants: 

Farmacy

Version 2

This was THE first plant-based place I tried out in London, and it will always have a special place in my foodie heart. It is wonderfully decorated, bright, full of plants, the staff is friendly, and the menu is full of incredible things from the Earth bowls (the Middle Eastern is the best), pancakes, waffles, pizza, the epic Nice Cream Brownie Sundae and the even more epic Sticky Toffee Pudding (probably my favorite dessert I’ve ever had – just saying 😉 ). It’s almost 100% plant-based [there are one or two dishes with eggs] and the desserts are refined sugar-free. They also have amazing drinks (definitely try the Adaptogenic Latte – and maybe go for a syringe shot if you need an extra boost?).

Note: It gets really busy on weekends for brunch – aim to go 20-30 min before you actually want a table.

Redemption

IMG_8763

I actually discovered it on Google Maps while getting directions for Farmacy, as the Notting Hill Redemption is just around the corner from it (there’s another near Old Street Station). Everything is plant-based, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and, most importantly, delicious! I’ve loved everything from the Buddha Bowl pictured below, the Tokyo Salad to the buckwheat pancakes and the best (!) banoffee pie. The only thing I haven’t liked is their pulled jackfruit burger, which was too smokey for me, but everything else has been incredible. As they don’t serve alcohol they also have tons of interesting mocktails.

IMG_5829.jpg

 

FED by Water

IMG_0847

This is the place for vegan Italian food – the menu features all kinds of fantastic options, notably pizza and pasta. The first time I went I had the Tricolore pizza (with broccoli cream, asparagus, homemade cashew mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes, topped with mixed seeds) – you get the choice between a white, green (hemp) or black (charcoal) base as well as soft or crispy! (This only affects how soon they take it out of the oven). I had the soft charcoal one and it was a DREAM. This is also where I held my farewell dinner with some of the amazing people I’ve met over the year, and everyone was most impressed by the quality – and quantity! – of the food. The Erba Fresca (pictured below: tomato sauce, homemade cashew-mozzarella, smoked tofu, capers, leccio olives and wild rocket) that I had on a soft hemp base was absolutely divine!

Manna

IMG_9363

This is a really lovely little place near Chalk Farm with an intimate feel and, it seems, an all-vegan menu. There are dishes with all kinds of influences – Italian, Asian, Mexican, Caribbean, as well as the option to build your own dish out of the delicious sides. Too much choice! I had the quinoa maki rolls and the incredible (!) buffalo cauliflower tostada. I also tried some of my boyfriend’s flavorful caribbean platter. Dessert couldn’t be passed over with Sticky Toffee Pudding on the menu! Although the Farmacy one I had later actually topped this one, it was still fantastic and an absolute must!

 

Favorite Cafes/Delis:

Deliciously Ella Deli (formerly the Mae Deli)

IMG_8892.jpg

This was one of the places I was most excited about visiting when I moved to London, as I’d been fervently cooking my way through Ella’s recipes. There are three delis meanwhile: Seymour Place, Weighhouse Street and The Kitchen Counter in Herne Hill. The menu changes over time, but popular items do, luckily, make appearances again. My absolute favorite dishes are the butter bean and cauliflower falafels (I ate 46 of them over the course of a 4-day festival where I worked for the Deli – don’t judge me until you’ve tried them!) and the apricot and lentil dhal. There are also delicious desserts and lattes (the turmeric is the best I’ve had anywhere).

Jaz & Jul’s Chocolate House

IMG_8129 (1).jpg

This little gem is located in Chapel Market near Angel. Run by lovely ladies mad about chocolate, there are lots of hot chocolate options (my favorite is the Madagascar 100% with almond milk), chocolate to buy, as well as amazing brunch options such as vegan french toast, waffles with peanut butter, banana and chocolate sauce and also smoothies with granola. It’s not fully vegan, but there are many options, including some of the cookies and cakes on display. (Also, can we just appreciate how photogenic their food is?!)

 

Other Standouts:

Pickywops

IMG_6682.jpg

I’ve written about this awesome little pizza joint near West Brompton before, in my post on plant-based pizza in London, so check that out for more information. Let me just say that their Vegan Temptation (vegan mozzarella, kale, broccolini, almond ricotta and blueberries) is probably my favorite pizza in the world. They have a variety of bases to choose from, and my go-to is the hemp, which is such a delight.

Be aware that there’s hardly any seating, so it’s more of a take-away option.

Malibu Kitchen (The Ned)

Incredibly flavorful and healthy Californian food in a stylish atmosphere. While not fully plant-based, it’s got great options and is absolutely perfect for taking non-vegan friends or family. I definitely recommend the forbidden rice bowl, the courgette and almond flatbread with tomatoes, olives and oregano (absolutely incredible!), and the raw chocolate tart is not to be missed! While I loved the raw chocolate tarts from Wildfood Cafe and 222 Veggie Vegan (both below), this one was definitely the most unique. The toasted buckwheat in the base gave it a wonderfully unusual note, in the best possible sense. (Sadly not the best lighting though, so no photo here).

Wildfood Cafe

IMG_3203 (1)

This little zone of Zen is centrally located in Neal’s Yard and focuses on raw food. I’m not a huge fan of raw places, I have to say, except for when it comes to the dessert menu. Wildfood will always be dear to me, because of this epic raw chocolate tart (recipe is available here). The menu is seasonal and changes accordingly. The current dessert menu features a marvelous-sounding Salted Caramel Slice and Cosmic Blueberry Cheesecake.

Note – it’s quite small and does get popular, especially on weekends. A friend and I once waited over an hour to get a table for dessert (totally worth it, needless to say).

222 Veggie Vegan 

IMG_4383

Just down the street from Pickywops is this amazing fully plant-based restaurant. I had an incredible burger and a raw chocolate tart that rivaled the Wildfood Cafe one (above). This place is quite small, so I definitely recommend a reservation.

Jusu Brothers

IMG_9315

Located in Notting Hill (i.e. brunch central), this bright and modern place is great for smoothie bowls and avo toast. They also have a huge variety of juices (really loved the Ikigai – cucumber, aloe water, celery pineapple and lemon) and other enticing plant-based options like vegan sushi and matcha cheese cake.

Farm Girl Cafe

This is another Notting Hill brunch classic (expect a wait on the weekend). I’ve had the acai bowl, which was delicious but very expensive, totaling £12.50 (!) with the optional (not really, let’s be honest) toppings of almond butter and granola. The vegan donut is also fantastic, and there are so many amazing drinks to choose from – Butterfly (i.e. blue) Matcha anyone?

Mildred’s

IMG_6813.jpg

Mildred’s is always a great option. This vegetarian classic is in King’s Cross, Soho and Camden, and never disappoints. I’m obsessed with the hummus with rose harissa and super-soft chargrilled flatbread, and it’s also great for brunch – the quinoa, oat and blueberry waffles were a dream! There is definitely something for everyone here.

Juice Baby

IMG_8589.jpg

This fabulous little place in Chelsea has great acai bowls (I went for the acai verde with cacao granola), salads and sandwiches, and sweet treats. This caramel bar was sinfully satisfying!!

Nanabar

IMG_9969

This trendy nice cream haunt in Shoreditch is the place to be this summer – forget regular vegan ice cream (sorry Yorica), it’s all about the nanas. Nanabar serves delicious nice cream made from frozen bananas, nut butters, and not much else. The result is delicious, indulgent-tasting ice cream that leaves you feeling nourished and satisfied. Open all day, you literally can have this for breakfast, lunch, dinner (I’ve definitely done this on occasion), or as a snack. Favorite flavors: Peanut Butter Cup and Rocky Road – they now let you create your own flavors though, choosing between 5 bases (including salted peanut and cacao almond), various sauces and toppings.

Note: Their current location on Charlotte Rd is temporary (till the end of September), but keep your eyes peeled for where they relocate to next.

Vurger

IMG_9289.jpg

Currently a pop up but with a permanent location in the (hopefully near) future. They describe their vegan burgers as ‘soul-satisfying’, and I can 110% confirm that they deliver on this. The ‘MLT’, which I’ve had three times, is absolutely insane (walnut and sundried tomato pesto, mushroom and bean patty, incredible bun and vegan cheese); they also do truffle mac & cheese which I still want to try when I next get the chance! If you only ever have one burger again in your life, it’s got to be this one!

But speaking of burgers, these are also definitely worth a visit:

Vegan Hippo

Version 3

This little place in Soho serves incredible pulled jackfruit burgers! So messy to eat though, it’s not even funny.

Mooshies

IMG_0890.jpg

This Brick Lane burger joint offers four different vegan burgers as well as some tasty sides (definitely go for the chickpea bites!). The Fillet-Om-Phish (battered aubergine, tartar sauce, nori seaweed, vegan cheese and lettuce) I had was so satisfying, and my friend was very happy with his jackfruit burger.

To stop this post from becoming longer than the dissertation I should be finishing off, let me keep it even shorter now. Just mentioning some other amazing places I also definitely recommend:

Cookies and Scream – forget healthy, this is serious vegan indulgence! The chico pie (basically a chocolate chip cookie pie) and the banoffee were to die for. They have a bakeshop in Holloway as well as a stall at Camden market.

The Gate – situated in Islington, near Marble Arch and Hammersmith, this vegetarian restaurant has delicious vegan options, including this blissful banoffee pie:

IMG_8772.jpg

Raw Press – blueberry waffles and smoothie bowls – need I say more? (they also have a breakfast counter till 11 am).

IMG_0053.jpg

26 Grains – known for porridge and all things ‘hygge’, they also do a mean beetroot hummus sandwich.

IMG_0102.jpg

Salad Pride – right next to 26 Grains (Wildfood cafe is also nearby), great for salads, obviously, all day breakfast and they have a fridge full of yummy treats.

IMG_0132.jpg

Ethos – a pay-by-weight vegetarian buffet near Oxford Circus; also a beautiful space.

IMG_4920.jpg

Tibits – another pay-by-weight vegetarian buffet, off Regent Street. I prefer this to Ethos actually, but haven’t been as much, as I know it from Switzerland.

Romeo’s Sugar-free Bakery – homestyle vegan pizza and some yummy vegan desserts (the brownie was delicious).

Nama – raw food place in Notting Hill; best hot chocolate (‘Chocolate Submarine’) and a fabulous dessert menu. I also really liked their very unique, raw pancakes and this wrap.

IMG_1653.jpg

Leggero – a gluten-free Italian place in Soho with vegan options clearly labeled; I loved their hemp tagliatelle! (see my post on their relaunch).

Club Mexicana – I had the To-Fish Tacos at Wilderness Festival and was so impressed! The jackfruit burrito my friend had was also incredible.

IMG_0196.jpg

Vx – this little vegan shop near King’s Cross has the most indulgent Salted Caramel Brownies.

Sushi Samba – great for special occasions; views over London, and there’s a vegan menu (you get better views from Duck and Waffle, also in Heron Tower, but at the cost of less plant-based-friendly fare).

Planet Organic – they deserve a mention for their amazing lattes (matcha and pitaya are my favorite, along with the superfood coffee) and this dreamy pitaya bowl. Note: they do a 10% student discount so make sure to make use of that if you can!

IMG_0627.jpg

Good Life Eatery – not all vegan, but lots of great options like this Goodness Bowl (without the feta):

IMG_7710.jpg

 

… and finally:

*Top Insider Tip*

IMG_9957.jpg

Leather Lane Market is a Mon-Fri food market near Chancery Lane tube station, where you’ll find the ultimate falafel wrap! It tastes so fresh and homemade, is bursting with flavor and absolutely enormous – such great value at only £3.50! I’ve literally been having it every Tuesday and Friday for the past weeks, after my workout classes (my Gymbox was perfectly situated on Leather Lane). It’s sold by Kitchen8, (light green stand at the end of the market, close to Clerkenwell Rd), which also has a permanent location nearby (17 Elm St). You can also create your own salad box (not sure how many of the options are vegan, but there is usually sweet potato, hummus and lots of veg) – during ‘happy hour’ (around 2 pm) you get a salad box for only £3.

There is an Italian vegan stall at the other end of the market (close to where Leather Lane meets Greville St) with delicious grilled polenta and beans, as well as wraps with, usually, lentils and avocado.

I’ve also had an incredible tempeh curry from this market, although this stall isn’t always there.

And, if you’re not full from that: the market also hosts Crosstown Doughnuts on Friday, who always have a vegan option (they have other locations that are open daily, but vegan donuts are currently only available Fri/Sat/Sun). The chocolate truffle one was sheer bliss – it contains coconut oil, chia seeds, oat milk and silken tofu, and tastes like a proper donut, but without making you feel gross. Don’t leave it too late, though, or they’ll have sold out!

IMG_8993.jpg

That’s it for this year folks! I think I only just realized how much food I actually ate…

I hope you enjoyed reading yourself into a food coma and please let me know if you try any of these places or have any recommendations of your own. I definitely will be back to London, ready for my next foodie adventures. Till then, I’ll be seeing what Switzerland has to offer 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Afternoon Tea in London

IMG_0717.JPG

There’s something so indulgent about the whole ceremony, as time and troubles are forgotten over tea and tantalizingly tempting treats. Who doesn’t want to sit down and feel spoiled, the only dilemma being which delightful dainties to devour first!

While vegan and dairy-free options are increasingly being offered by traditional tea houses, when it comes to afternoon tea you don’t want to simply make due with potentially uninspired substitutes. You want to be wowed, oo-ing and ah-ing and savoring each blissful bite. Where can you get this experience?

Here are my recommendations for fantastic fully plant-based afternoon tea in London:

 

Livia’s Kitchen Cream-Free Cream Tea

IMG_7800.jpg

This was the first plant-based afternoon tea I had the pleasure of enjoying, and what a pleasure it was! (For my full account of the event click here). There was an absolute abundance of food, and I definitely made the most of it, tucking into three incredibly delicious scones with almond butter and chia jam, along with a chocolate cupcake, hummus and avocado filled sandwiches, maca oat cookies and raw millionaire bites. And the fact that  all guests were at one table created a wonderfully social atmosphere. This event will always have a special place in my heart, as it’s where I met my lovely friends Jordan from Leitchy Creates and Gemma.

[Note: everything is also gluten-free].

Dates: in the past they were held every couple of weeks, check the website for availability.

Price: definitely the priciest one on the list (I’m not aware of the exact current price, but in September I paid £35 – which was a reduced price at the time), however, there was also a goodie bag included.

 

Ethos

IMG_7589.jpg

Ethos was the perfect choice for when I went for afternoon tea with friends who were visiting from Switzerland. The regular menu is vegetarian (great for my omnivorous but not very meat-keen friend), then there is the gluten-free version (ideal for my gluten-intolerant friend) and the vegan one, which I was obviously happy about. [They don’t yet do vegan and gluten-free]. The items were distributed among two etageres, which created the feeling that we were all sharing in the experience together, instead of everyone tucking into their own menu. The highlight for me was the scones – which tasted like proper scones (the Livia’s Kitchen ones are delicious, but definitely not like traditional scones) – with a wonderful cashew clotted cream and raspberry jam.

Dates: Daily, between 3 and 5 pm (book at least 48 hours in advance)

Price: at £20, quite good value for money in my opinion

 

Lele’s

IMG_0717.JPG

This was the most recent tea I went to, with my wonderful fellow vegan foodie Kym (check out her Instagram for more vegan food places in London). Lele’s is a lovely little space in Lower Clapton, bright and relaxed, serving vegetarian and vegan food. It was the most traditional I’ve been to, with generous-sized scones, a buttery spread and jam (not chia, sadly, but still delicious) and avocado and beetroot sandwiches (with traditional white toast bread). The real stars, however, were the incredible cakes and patisserie items. The only thing that was missing for a chocoholic like myself was, of course, something chocolatey, especially as two of the tartlets were quite zesty. Overall, however, this was an absolute stunner of a vegan afternoon tea, and such a treat!

Dates: every Sunday from 12 – 4 pm (book in advance)

Price: £18 with tea (amazing price for the quantity and quality of the food!)

 

Cake & Cucumber

IMG_7044.jpg

And, finally, the most eccentric of the bunch (meant in the best way possible)! This African-inspired afternoon tea was bursting with exciting flavors and combinations such as savory cassava cakes and gram flour ‘omelettes’ with banana ketchup, charcoal cake and salted cacao & chilli bundt cake (the absolute winner in my eyes!). It was held at Tea Leaf, a cute little tea shop near Bethnal Green. The only thing that slightly detracted from the experience, in my opinion, was the ambience. While the little tables were dressed in beautiful African-themed cloths, the room felt a bit bare and not as cozy as the other locations. This is only a minor point, however, and I definitely recommend checking the website for further events – afternoon teas, supper clubs etc. for truly unique and delicious food!

Dates: check the website for upcoming events.

Price: £29.27

 

Further Recommendations:

Farmacy 

I haven’t tried this one myself, as they’ve only recently started offering afternoon tea. I absolutely love Farmacy, however, and can’t imagine that their afternoon teas are anything but amazing. Check the website for the menu, price and availability.

Delicously Ella 

This is another one I haven’t attended, yet recommend as worth considering, simply due to the general deliciousness of the food. They are held once a month and cost £30 without Prosecco (£36 with).

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these or if you know any other great places for plant-based afternoon tea, wherever they may be! 🙂

xoxo

Mediterranean Tofu Quinoa

IMG_0489.jpg

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe. It’s been a while since I’ve even cooked a meal if I’m honest! I’ve been so busy lately, and even when I’ve been home and had a chance to cook, more often than not I’ve just thrown together a big salad or whipped out some rice cakes and the peanut butter jar (they’re best friends).

This was quite a departure from my usual quinoa cooking, which 99.9% of the time is this turmeric & ginger flavored one, but I can assure you I will definitely be making this again and again. Bursting with flavor, nutrition and also light and refreshing, this dish is perfect for a relaxed summer evening. I can already see myself making this for my family back home for a (fingers crossed) late summer BBQ on the terrace.

Ingredients – for 2 servings

  • quinoa (I used 190g as that’s what I had left and I wanted to finish off the packet)
  • fresh lemon juice
  • dried or fresh thyme
  • ca. 2/3 of a (400g net weight) packet of firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 small/medium courgette
  • 1 small/medium aubergine
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • ca. 6 sundried tomatoes (in olive oil, drained), chopped
  • olives, as desired, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • balsamic vinegar – to drizzle on top

 

Method

Place the tofu cubes into a hot pan with olive oil and salt, cooking till golden and slightly crispy. For great flavor use some of the oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes.

While this is cooking, chop the veg (courgette, aubergine, bell pepper and sundried tomatoes). Once the tofu is looking and smelling fabulous, set aside and cook the veg. Then place the tofu back into the pan with the veg, add the olives and spritz in a generous amount of balsamic vinegar.

To make the quinoa, place it in a pan with water (I eyeball it, but you need around 1.5x as much liquid), season with salt, and simmer for around 15 minutes. While it’s cooking, add some fresh lemon juice and dried and/or fresh thyme.

Once the quinoa is done, stir in the tofu-veg mix and serve garnished with fresh herbs and extra balsamic vinegar.

Simple, speedy, so delicious! Hot or cold.

Enjoy

xoxo

Wilderness Festival

IMG_0217.jpg

I have never been particularly into festivals or camping, but when I recently got the opportunity to work at Wilderness Festival from August 3 – 6, I knew I absolutely had to take it.

Wilderness is a festival for ‘Nomads and gastronomes. Rockers and roamers. Drifters and dreamers. The reclusive, the wise, the weird and the wild.’ Held in the beautiful Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire, it has something that appeals to pretty much everyone: a host of workshops (from paddleboard yoga, tai chi and calligraphy to the more eccentric taxidermy, ‘pimp your pineapple’ and hunter gatherer cookery classes), talks and debates, theater, live music, and an almost overwhelming array of food stalls to chose from – many of which provide healthy and/or plant-based options. (I’ll leave you to guess which of these factors held the largest attraction for me 😉 )

Despite working throughout the festival (I was there to support one of the food brands), I was able to soak up the incredible atmosphere and general good vibes. It was wonderful eating my early morning bowls of granola and nut butter in the warming rays of the sun, watching the white tents in ‘The Sanctuary’, and the yogis and interpretive dancers (I think that’s what they were doing?!) come to life. I also enjoyed going for walks in the scenic ‘wilderness’ and soaking up the peace of nature (luckily without bumping into the ‘dance your naked truth’ participants), away from the business of London.

IMG_0135.jpg

IMG_0136.jpg

Outside of our shifts, my lovely friend Amy and I made the most of our free time by exploring the stalls and tents throughout the festival. We also attended a fabulous free workshop by The Cutlery Commission on spoon engraving. We had fun punching letters into a metal plate with hammers until we were ‘ready’ [not really] to personalize our own vintage spoons. The result is these two items of customized cutlery, whose wonky engraving in no way detracts from the pride we feel in having created them 😉

IMG_0125.jpg

As to the food, we were spoiled for choice and had real difficulties in deciding where to go when we weren’t having (delicious!) food on shift.

The highlights were, without a doubt:

Club Mexicana

IMG_0194.jpg

IMG_0199.jpg

The Beer-Battered To-Fish with pickled cabbage, salsa verde, pickled chilies and sour cream (all vegan) on soft, dark corn tacos was an absolute dream! It was unlike anything I’d had before – the perfect kind of vegan ‘junk food’ that didn’t leave you feeling gross, but nourished and satisfied. I also got to try some of the incredible (!) BBQ pulled jackfruit burrito, which Amy went for and kindly offered me some of. It’s put jackfruit back in my good books, after a horrendous encounter with a pulled jackfruit burger a while ago.

Verdict: a must-try! (for info on where to find them in London click here).

 

Vurger

IMG_0223.jpg

IMG_0225.jpg

Now, this was not a new one for me, as I first had a Vurger at Balance Festival (see my review here), and again at the Pillbox Kitchen in Bethnal Green. Surely the fact that I went for this again, amidst so many new options, speaks for its utter irresistibility!! I went for the MLT again (baked mushroom and borlotti bean patty topped with a sundried tomato, basil and walnut pesto, with vegan cheese and in the best burger bun) and it truly was the most soul-satisfying experience!! Amy was just as satisfied with her Auburger (chipotle smokey Aubergine, red onion and a chickpea patty topped with cumin mayo and pickled cabbage – and extra avo 😉 ).The only disappointment was that they weren’t serving the Truffle Mac n Cheese at the festival – as I’m super intrigued by this.

Definitely check these guys out, see where they pop up next, and keep your eyes peeled for a permanent location in London!

 

Bad Brownie

IMG_0170.jpg

(Featured here with the peanut butter brownie our friend Lauren went for. And yes – not the best quality picture!)

Amy and I were both craving something sweet in the evenings and, on the hunt for something to satisfy our cravings, we stumbled across Bad Brownie. While not a plant-based company, they do sell a vegan (and gluten-free) salted caramel brownie, which we could not resist. The brownie was wonderfully rich, with a pleasantly fudgy texture (nothing worse than a dry brownie).

Speaking of vegan brownies, however, I can’t not mention the brownie I had today, because it absolutely blew the Bad Brownie one out of the water! After arriving at King’s Cross St Pancras from a short trip to Lille, I had to make a cheeky stop at Vx (a little vegan shop on Caledonian Rd with treats and – so I’d heard – the best vegan brownies). The salted caramel brownie I had from there was honestly insane. Richer, fudgier, gooier than the Bad Brownie one – and probably the unhealthiest thing I’ve eaten since going plant-based! Oh my… But, I assure you, I didn’t feel even the slightest inkling of guilt as it was just so incredibly delicious – the sweetness wonderfully complemented by little kicks of saltiness. Another must-visit!

IMG_0337.jpg

(The salted caramel brownie from Vx) 

The big disappointment for me was the açai bowl by Boa Vida Açai. I was genuinely shocked by how little I was able to enjoy it, as it was like eating tasteless slush. Harsh words, and I wish it had been otherwise, but that’s all I can say about that.

IMG_0160.jpg

 

To conclude on my time at Wilderness: It was an intense immersion into a truly weird and wonderful world, with amazing people, incredible food, stunning nature – all of which more than made up for the bipolar weather, the disappointing açai, and the cold, mostly sleepless nights in the tent. (Special shoutout to the best tent-buddy ever – wouldn’t have made it without you Amy 😀 😉 )

IMG_0219.jpg

 

 

 

DIY Kombucha Workshop

IMG_9682.jpg

Kombucha (also known under various weird and wonderful names such as ‘tea fungus’, ‘Wunderpilz’ – German for miracle mushroom; ‘champagne of life’; and ‘stomach treasure’ (胃寶))* is a fermented tea that is purported to have originated in 220 BC in Northeast Asia. It has only become commercially available relatively recently, but is growing fast, with the US market expected to experience a yearly growth rate of 25% till 2020.**

Even though kombucha is irrefutably part of the health and wellbeing trend, it is definitely not (yet?) as common as sipping a green juice. I myself only tried it a few weeks ago when it was offered at an event, and have since heard from many people who are interested in it, but haven’t yet tried it themselves.

I was excited, therefore, when I got the chance to attend a kombucha-making workshop at Whole Foods Kensington, organized by the Health Bloggers Community (HBC) and kombucha brand Jarr.

It was very interesting learning from founder Sam, how he had developed an appreciation for kombucha during his travels, and started making his own back home in LA (kombucha, like many trendy health beverages, is not the cheapest refreshment to indulge in). His kombucha (original, ginger and passionfruit – with a new flavor on the way) is available from many London stockists as well as to order online.

We also learned a bit about the process of actually making kombucha, which is reminiscent of making sourdough bread. Instead of a sourdough starter, however, the correct lingo in this context is SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) – which is a really weird-looking, gelatinous aggregation of bacteria and yeast that you add to caffeinated tea (traditionally black, or green) along with sugar, to create the fizzy, acidic drink that is kombucha. After topping the tea-SCOBY-sugar mix up with water, you leave it to ferment for a week onwards in a glass jar covered by a cloth, burping it daily, talking and singing to it, and generally treating it like your baby (Sam recounted using his mother’s heating pads, while back in LA, to keep his kombucha nice and snug 😀 ).

If this is something you’re interested in getting into, there are so many instructions and books out there nowadays (Sam recommended The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea, by Alex Lagory). There are also endless options for how you can flavor your brew. My favorite so far has been the new raspberry flavor by Jarr Kombucha, which is exclusively available on tap at Whole Foods – definitely recommend giving this one a try!

Now, as to my own kombucha brewing journey: it came to a jarring halt yesterday morning, when the big glass jar I poured the boiling water into emitted a loud and angry cracking sound, and the half liter of water flooded out all over my desk (I just managed to get my laptop into safety!). I did have my misgivings as to whether I would be able to make something actually kombucha-like myself (thinking back to my failed attempt at kimchi), but didn’t expect disaster to strike quite so soon. Oh well, I will definitely be giving this a shot at some point (keen to make a blueberry-flavored one), but for the moment, I think I may just content myself with drinking the kombucha from the event 😉

Hope you enjoyed reading!

xoxo

 

P.S. A word of warning: if you do look into making your own, just be careful, as homemade kombucha is, apparently, prone to contamination, with even a reported death in connection with it!***

IMG_9644.jpg

 

IMG_9655.jpg

IMG_9639.jpg

(above: the SCOBY) 

IMG_9641.jpg

 

* Click here for more on the history and other names kombucha has been called.

** Kombuch market growth data, US.

*** Click here for more on this, and a critical view of kombucha.