More London (Vegan) Food Recommendations

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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

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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.

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Itadaki Zen

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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.

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Vegan Express

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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

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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).

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Boys ‘n’ Berry

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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

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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.

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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

Favorite London Food Spots – the ULTIMATE Guide

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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

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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

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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.

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FED by Water

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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

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

Mooshies

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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:

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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… and finally:

*Top Insider Tip*

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Plant-based Pizza in London

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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

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

Leggero – An Evening of Light & Laughter

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Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of accompanying my lovely friend Leila, her equally lovely sister Sasha and the wonderful Catrina to the re-launch of a gluten-free Italian restaurant in Soho.

Formerly La Polenteria, Leggero serves delicious and innovative gluten-free Italian food. Italy, with all its pasta, pizza and bread, is pretty much synonymous with gluten, as owner Gabriele Vitali – an Italian with an obvious passion for what he does – joked. Seeing the gap in the market for catering to pasta-loving, gluten-avoiding individuals, the team embarked on a mission to create high quality Italian food for all to enjoy. This idea has gone beyond offering coeliacs an enjoyable dining experience, by making the kitchen and menu accommodating to people with various allergies and special dietary requirements. The fact that, minutes before his talk, we were enthusing about how refreshing it was to have such a restaurant where everyone could find something exciting on the menu and not have to worry about “being complicated”, is surely a testament to the success of Leggero’s mission.

While you certainly can find everything from unrefined sugar-free raw vegan to a meat eater’s paradise in London, it’s harder to find a restaurant where there is common ground for people with different preferences and requirements, i.e. where the carefree omnivore can enjoy, let’s say, lamb meatballs with mint and grilled butternut squash (as was served last night), while the gluten-free vegan can tuck into the courgette burger with mixed vegetables and homemade hemp bread muffin – and all from the same menu. This seems to me more important than ever in this age of ultra-individualism, where you can find all kinds of specific needs catered to, but, in the world of food at least, not necessarily at the same table.

At Leggero last night, we ended up with gluten-free Leila insouciantly dipping handmade artichoke, tomato and olive focaccia into oil and balsamic vinegar, dairy-intolerant Catrina having her (almond and orange) cake and eating it too, my plant-based self delighting in handmade sorghum and hemp tagliatelle (the culinary highlight of the evening for me!) and the omnivorous Sasha being in the happy position of sampling all the delightful dishes.

All this ties in perfectly with the restaurant’s new name – leggero, or light, as it means in English. Gabriele explained that the concept embodies not just “light” food, that makes us feel good, but also a light and happy way of life – something that couldn’t have come across any better in the wonderfully bright, intimate space, filled with the sounds of live music and laughter.

Let me conclude by once again thanking Leila for inviting me along and the lovely people at Leggero for having us. I can’t wait to go back for a big plate of delicious pasta!

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(This was the sorghum hemp tagliatelle – absolutely divine!)

Goody Bag Gems – Part 2

I’m back with more of some of my favorite new foodie discoveries (you can check out Part I here in case you missed it). Once again I am – obviously – not being paid by any of these brands, but just genuinely love these products and find them worth recommending 🙂

Almond Milk Yogurt – Nush

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Thoughts: Where have you been all my (plant-based) life?? This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! The one thing I truly missed while switching to a fully plant-based diet was yogurt. I loved having a pot of creamy greek yogurt as part of my breakfast or an afternoon snack. Unfortunately, soy yogurt didn’t agree with me and while I do sometimes have the odd bit of coconut yogurt, I just find it too heavy to eat much of. I had some Coyo in a goody bag once but I haven’t included it in this list because I simply didn’t enjoy it. (It was as dense as cream cheese and I couldn’t eat more than a few mouthfuls per sitting). So, what to do? For a long time I gave up on having a nice light plant-based yogurt… until now! This almond milk yogurt that I had in a goody bag from a recent Protein Baking Event by Livia’s Kitchen had the taste and texture of real yogurt!I had the Peach Melba flavor one with granola and berries and it was such a treat! I highly recommend it.

While it may not be the cheapest yogurt out there (at around £2 for a 125 g pot), it’s definitely worth it if you’re looking for the “real deal”.

Ingredients (Peach Melba flavor): 80% live almond milk yogurt (almond milk [almonds, filtered water], tapioca starch, carob gum, live vegan cultures), 20% Peach Melba (peach, raspberries, fruit extract).

Tip: also check out the other flavors: Blueberry (can’t wait to try it!), Natural and Caramel & Hibiscus!

 

Three Cinnamon Tea – Pukka

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[image from http://www.pukkaherbs.com]

Thoughts: I used to hate all things cinnamon-y (the only time I remember liking cinnamon as a child is with waffles and vanilla ice cream) and one of the most horrific things to me was the idea – and smell – of cinnamon flavored gum. Tea would have seemed just as bad if not a worse offender!  While I’ve grown to like cinnamon (especially in Christmas bakes, turmeric lattes and sprinkled on peanut butter covered apple slices), I can safely say I never would have bought it in tea form. However, from my first cup of this I was sold! It’s such a warming, sweet, comforting taste and it’s become one of my favorite ways to end a meal (a square of dark chocolate will always be number one – but who says you can’t have both?).

Ingredients: Vietnamese cinnamon bark (60%), Indonesian cinnamon bark (16%), licorice root, Indian cinnamon bark (10%).

Tip: If you like this, check out other teas from this range. I’ve also tried and loved the Three Ginger and will definitely try the Three Chamomile when I see it.

Extra Tip: the longer you leave the tea bag in, the sweeter the tea gets – after about 10 minutes you’ve got a fantastically, naturally sweet tea that perfectly satisfies post-meal dessert cravings (although I tend to indulge them anyway 😉 )

 

Organic Fruit Blend – Naturya

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[Image from http://www.naturya.com]

Thoughts: This is yet again a product I wouldn’t have bought if I hadn’t tried it first. I would have seen the 50% banana powder and 15% hemp protein powder on the ingredients list and put it back thinking: why do I need to add this to my smoothie when I already add banana and hemp? I have to say, though, that the flavor of this powder is fabulous. As you can see below there are some other great ingredients that give this blend an amazing tropical and sunny flavor that will cheer up even the coldest and darkest of mornings. I honestly find it a great way to snazz up my regular smoothie, as one teaspoon of this makes such a difference! I’ve just run out and I think this will be on my shopping list for my next health food haul!

Ingredients: 50% banana powder, 20% goji powder, 15% hemp protein powder, 10% pineapple powder, 5% acai powder.

 

Chocolate Lip Balm – Hurraw!

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[Image from http://www.hurrawbalm.com]

This last item is not edible, sadly, but I couldn’t help adding it to the list as it was in fact in a goody bag and I absolutely love it! Just lifting the lid and sniffing it – as I repeatedly did just now – makes me simplistically happy. The smell must go directly to my brain and light up happy chemicals. It also feels good on my lips and seems to really hydrate. Just make sure you don’t catch yourself licking it off! (Glad to say that hasn’t happened… yet). Also, I suspect it’s tantalizing for the people sitting near me when I reapply it in lectures – I saw a head turn the other day and someone seemingly sniff the air in an intrigued and puzzled manner.

 

That’s all for today folks – hope you enjoyed it!

xoxo

 

Goody Bag Gems – Part 1

If you’ve had a look at the What I’m Up To section of my blog, you’ve seen that I love attending events centered around plant-based eating and/or fitness. And more often than not I leave them with not just great new memories, but also a little paper bag of exciting goodies. These goody bags are definitely always a nice little cherry on top. (Who doesn’t enjoy, at least momentarily, feeling like a carefree kid at a birthday party again?).

For the companies providing the contents of these bags it’s obviously a great advertising strategy. This way they are ensuring that their products are falling directly into the welcoming hands of the very people most likely to buy them again (as I have) and spread the word about them (as I am about to do here 😉 ).* For me it’s definitely been a fun way to discover and try out products that I probably wouldn’t otherwise have bought. The ones that I’ve been most impressed with I’d like to share with you here.

The goodies in this first part are all from a Christmas Yoga Supper Club that my friend Lauren invited me along to. Besides being a truly lovely event it probably had the most memorable goody bag, as I discovered the following great products:

 

Birch Water – Sibberi

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[Image from: http://www.sibberi.com]

Thoughts: I’ll be honest, when I first saw this I was more than a bit skeptical. Birch tree water? I’d never heard of it and was unsure why I should be drinking it. Probably just another expensive but overrated product out there clamoring for the attention of health-conscious consumers, or so I thought. While I was right about the first point (at £2 per 250 ml bottle it costs the same as a liter of Rude Health almond milk), I have to say I was genuinely and positively taken aback by this drink. The best way I can think to describe it is that it was like drinking the purest, clearest, cleanest most refreshing water you could imagine – with a slight hint of sweetness. If only regular water tasted this amazing!

While this definitely doesn’t go into my basket every supermarket trip, I like to treat myself to a bottle every now and again.

Ingredients: 100% birch tree sap.

Note: Also check out the sister products, Maple and Bamboo Water.

Tip: Try this at room temperature. The second time, I had it straight from the fridge and I felt like some of the flavor was lost. (Just a personal preference.)

 

Sweet Potato & Cacao bar – Rude Health

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[Image from: http://www.rudehealth.com]

Thoughts: How can one not be intrigued by a bar containing sweet potato and cacao??  I’ve tried many different brands of such fruit and nut based energy bars and this one is the only one I know of with this genius combo. Now, you wouldn’t know there’s sweet potato in there, if that’s what you’re wondering, but the addition of this tasty tuber creates a really moreish texture and also intensifies the cacao flavor, making the whole experience truly satisfying. Definitely getting these again!

Ingredients: dates, cashews, sunflower seeds, sweet potato (8%), cacao powder (7%), cacao butter (6%), vanilla.

Note: There is also a pumpkin version – not with pumpkin purée, as I originally thought, but with pumpkin seeds and apple and ginger – which is also highly recommended!

Tip: If you’re craving this combo but can’t get your hands on these bars, check out these sweet potato brownie recipes from Deliciously Ella (original – really delicious, but maybe not quite chocolatey enough, which is why there is now a “new and improved” version).

 

Wyldsson Promix

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[Image from http://www.wyldsson.com]

Thoughts: These little test tubes of goodness are an awesome way to treat yourself if you’re looking for something fun to eat on the go or sprinkle over your food for decoration. They’re little portions of trail mix intended for healthy snacking, but to be honest I mostly just use them for my smoothie bowls, as I find they add a really nice touch (not just aesthetically but also to the taste and texture). I had the Strawberry & Raspberry one in a goody bag and liked it so much that I ordered the sample tube package of 10, which comes with other exciting flavors like Organic Mulberry, Californian Pomegranate, Cherry & Dark Chocolate and even a savory one: Chilly Picante. I was also super happy with the service – the tubes arrived promptly and came with a short personalized message on the box and a free tube of the new Strawberries & Belgian Chocolate mix.

Ingredients (Strawberry & Raspberry mix): Argentinian peanuts, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, Californian almonds, Greek Zante currants, pumpkin seeds, strawberries (6.6%), raspberries (2.2%).

Tip: sprinkle these over your morning smoothies, porridge or add to your cereal for extra crunch, nutrition and color 😉

 

Chia Vanilla Protein Bar – Body Me

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[Image from: http://www.bodyme.co.uk – seems they’ve changed the packaging]

Thoughts: I love a chunky, generous protein bar with good ingredients and good flavor – and this one ticks all the boxes! I was seriously impressed, as not only was it absolutely delicious, but it also has the highest protein content I’ve yet had in a vegan protein bar: 16g. Not much else to say here except big thumbs up!

Ingredients: [all organic] plant protein blend (pea protein, sprouted brown rice protein, hemp seed protein), cashews, dates, coconut nectar, chia seeds, cacao, coconut oil, vanilla extract, water, sea salt, and – apparently – “a lot of love”! definitely felt it 😉

Tip: check out the other flavors too – cacao mint and cacao orange – as well as the vegan protein blends.

 

Stay tuned for more recommendations!

xoxo

 

* It’s almost too embarrassing to add the disclaimer that I haven’t been endorsed by any of these companies, as I should think it’s obvious 😀 but let me just clarify all the same: I have no personal interests tied up with these brands or products and I am recommending them purely because I enjoyed them and think they are worth sharing with people who may not be aware of them.

My favorite places to eat in London (Part II)

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I promised you more great plant-loving places in London and here they are (check out part I, if you missed it). Again, these are in my eyes all a 10/10 and highly recommended!

JAZ AND JUL’S CHOCOLATE HOUSE

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This is maybe one of my favorite places ever -full stop. I stumbled upon it a few weeks ago wile walking home and couldn’t resist a peek at the menu. Once I saw fully plant-based French toast and chocolate smoothie bowls I knew I had to go back. Since then I’ve gone every weekend, always taking someone new with me to share in the joy of Jaz and Jul’s.

Best for: brunch, or a rainy day (or any day!) hot chocolate 😉

The food: There is sweet and savory (both often containing some form of chocolate – doesn’t the cocoa nib and olive tapenade toast sound intriguing?) and everything from smoothie bowls to waffles and french toast. I’ve had the insanely good french toast (in a coconut, almond and banana batter, cinnamon and cocoa dusted, with berries, berry compote & maple syrup), tried some of the chocolate waffles with berry compote, coconut cream and granola), the chocolate avocado smoothie bowl, tried some of the berry & almond smoothie bowl (pictured below), and had the dark rye sourdough with Seggiano chocolate-hazelnut spread and fresh blueberries (pictured at very top) – and I’m still going back for more!

While it’s not fully vegan, there are so many great fully plant-based options that I do honestly find it difficult to decide what to get every time I go there. It doesn’t help that the counter displays numerous indulgent looking vegan baked goods (the chocolate espresso cake I had last time was so good)! What I love about this place besides the scrumptious food is the cozy atmosphere and the fact that it has genuine personality – something that has unfortunately become rare these days.

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The drinks: Their hot chocolate is amazing (13 different kinds, if I counted correctly) and all the flavors are available to be made with almond instead of regular milk. I started off with the single origin Brazil (70%) and then moved on to the Peru (75%), which I’ll be enjoying again in future, until I work up the guts to try the Madagascar (100%). There are also flavored ones with fabulous names such as Caramelicious, Mintchievous and Gingerbread, man! , the mix for which you can also buy in the cafe (they also sell other speciality chocolate items).

The location: 1 Chapel Market, London N1 9EZ.

 

 

THE MAE DELI

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This is an obvious one for anyone who knows me, as the Deliciously Ella books are what partially inspired and greatly facilitated by transition to a fully plant-based lifestyle. I followed the opening of the deli from afar, eagerly anticipating my move to London so I could go there myself. Since moving here I’ve been four times and absolutely loved both the food and the positivity exuding atmosphere. I think it’s safe to say that it’s one of my happy places 😉

Best for: casual lunch or tea and cake with friends or a healthy take away

The food: Central to the menu is the Mae bowl, which consists of four of the seasonal dishes you’ll see displayed behind the counter – you choose what you want and can have it to eat there or as a take away. I’ve eaten from the September menu and also recently tried the new dishes and have loved both. The new cauliflower falafels were a wonderful consolation for finding the sun dried tomato falafels gone – in fact, I think they’re even better! I also love the lemony butter bean hummus and the spiced sweet potato as well as the black rice salad that are currently on the menu. Make sure you leave room for dessert though, as there are lots of eye catching options to chose from. The Mae cake is divine and I’m told the carrot cake is incredible – I desperately need to try that. They also sell the Deliciously Ella Energy Balls, at a discounted price compared to stores (just recently had the Cashew & Ginger one, so good and perfect for this colder time of year!).

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The location: 21 Seymour Place, London W1H 5BH (a second one will be opening up on Weighhouse Street).

Note: If possible, go in the evenings as lunch time is usually very busy. In summer it’s no problem to grab a take away and enjoy it in nearby Hyde Park, but in winter this is obviously less ideal. Afternoons are also a good option – just stop by for some cake and a turmeric latte 🙂

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MILDRED’S

Best for: A yummy meal with non plant-based friends

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The foodMildred’s is a vegetarian restaurant with many delicious fully plant-based options, such as the fabulous rose harrisa hummus with pine nuts, spicy tempeh and chargrilled flatbread (a starter that I had with the mixed leaf salad with organic sprouts for a light yet incredibly satisfying meal – had to keep stopping myself from exclaiming how good it was, as the friend I was with is not a foodie and would probably have thought me strange had I kept interrupting her with ecstatic proclamations as to the divineness of my meal). The tastes and textures were amazing and the soft, hot, doughy flatbread was everything flatbread should be and more. The menu is full of other exciting vegan dishes, as well as some marked with the option of being vegan, such as the black turtle bean and squash burrito. I really need to go back and try the sweet potato fries and the turkish rose pistachio truffles! The place has also got a really nice and relaxed vibe – at least the one at King’s Cross did on a Sunday noon.

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The location: 200 Pentonville Road, King’s Cross, London N1 9JP. There are also restaurants in Soho (45 Lexington Street, Soho, London W1F 9AN) and Camden (9 Jamestown Road, London NW1 7BW).

Hope you enjoyed reading about these places. Let me know what you think or what your favorite places for plant-based options are!

My favorite places to eat in London (Part I)

So I’ve been in London for over a month now and I feel fully qualified to share with you some amazing places for delicious, nourishing and exciting food! They are not all plant-based but all obviously have great fully plant-based options. Now, if you’ve read my post on recommendations for New York, you’ll have seen that I use a blueberry rating system (10 = the best). For this post I’m not going to bother, as they are all a 10/10!! In order not to make this a massive post I’ll be doing this in parts, so stay tuned for more restaurant recommendations 😉

FARMACY

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Best for: celebrating! 🙂 Eating here feels like a real treat, and if you have something special to celebrate, this place will make the occasion extra memorable.

The food: The main menu is full of amazing options such as salads, mezze, vegan pasta and pizza,  “earth bowls” (£1 of the price is donated to Drop4Drop, an organization funding sustainable clean water solutions) and yummy sides, including sprouted grains, hummus, steamed greens and sweet potato fries.  I opted for the Mexican Bowl (one of the earth bowls), which consisted of sprouted coriander rice, romaine, guacamole, frijoles, tomao ceviche salsa (so fresh, spicy and flavorsome!), salsa and “sour cream” topped with purple potato mash, corn chips & chipotle mayo. There were so many interesting components in that bowl and they all tasted amazing in their own way while still complementing each other. It was a veritable feast. My boyfriend went for the Farmacy Burger (millet, black bean & mushroom burger served with garlic aioli, goji ketchup, avocado, pickles, tomato & potato chips served in a wholemeal vegan bun – which can be ordered gluten-free). But seriously, let’s talk dessert. The highlight without a doubt was the fully plant-based and refined sugar-free Nice Cream Brownie Sundae (brownie served with vanilla nice cream, seasonal fruits, raw cacao and housemade maca caramel). This did not taste healthy, let me tell you! It tasted sensationally sinful and every bite had us in raptures. This was hands down the best and most extravagant fully plant-based dessert I’ve ever had and it left me feeling happy and energized hours later.

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The drinks: Along with the sundae I had a hot chocolate (the first in years!) – we were celebrating, afterall 😉 It was made with almond milk, cacao powder, dates, cinnamon, vanilla and was the perfect indulgent accompaniment to the sundae. Besides smoothies, juices and lattes Farmacy also offers “Farmaceutical Syringe Shots”, which are amazingly healthy sounding shots served in an actual syringe. My boyfriend couldn’t resist the novelty and had the “Melt Away” one (gingko, turmeric, gotu kola, garcinia, milk thistle and cucumber juice – not going to pretend I know what everything is!); definitely a fun way to end your meal.

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The location: 74 Westbourne Grove, London W2 5SH

Note: They do not take reservations, so you may have to wait a bit, depending on the time you go. We went for lunch on a Sunday at around 1.30 pm and got a table just after 2pm. If, like my boyfriend, you’re too hungry and need some sustenance while waiting, check out the nearby Yogland, (the green chia bowl was good!) 😉

REDEMPTION

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Best for: date night or drinks and a meal with friends

The food: All dishes are vegan, gluten- and refined sugar-free, fully in line with their cheeky motto of Spoil Yourself Without Spoiling Yourself 😉 The menu may not appear extensive, but you’ll still be spoilt for choice! Everything sounds and looks intriguing. My first time there I had the raw courgette spaghetti tossed in basil and pumpkin seed pesto, rocket and cherry tomatoes, topped with brazil nut “parmesan”, which was really indulgent. For some reason I was expecting a meager little portion and was therefore positively surprised to get a plate stacked high with courgetti and lots of wonderfully flavorsome pesto. My friend went for the Tokyo salad (brown rice and avocado salad with cucumber, radish, chilli, hijiki seaweed, an (incredible!) citrus-miso dressing and sesame seeds). When my boyfriend visited me last weekend I knew I had to take him there – solidifying my status as girlfriend-with-impressive-knowledge-of-great-places-to-eat. This time I went for the maki rolls platter – an enticing tray of maki rolls filled with quinoa, avocado, enoki, sesame seeds and micro amaranth shoots. I also had some of my boyfriend’s asparagus black rice risotto, which more than justified its recommendation and high praise by the waiter. It had a wonderful flavor that I can only somewhat lamely describe as unique. The food at Redemption  tastes like nothing you’ve ever tasted before – it surprises and teases and highly pleases! I can also recommend the nibble platter, with amazing kale chips, and the raw chocolate mousse (made with avocado) with cashew cream.

The drinks: all non-alcoholic, with fun names and interesting ingredients. I tried some of the (oh no, I’ve forgotten the name!!) one with beetroot and orange, which was really refreshing, but I’ll definitely have to go back and try some more.

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Locations: 6 Chepstow Road, London W2 5 BW (the one I went to) and 320 Old Street, London EC1V 9DR.

Note: You can find a sample menu on their website and most of the dishes and drinks on there I saw offered in the restaurant. We were told the menu is about to change though, which means new exciting – and seasonal – options will be offered!

THE GATE

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Best for: a nice evening out with family or friends

The food: Everything at The Gate is vegetarian and the menu focuses on lots of wonderful fresh veggies. The first time I went to eat here I ordered the Mexican-inspired sweet corn and cilantro fritters, accompanied with salsa, avocado and beans – a wonderful harmony of tastes and textures (the fritters were so fluffy!). I’ve also had the Green Dragon (salad of glazed smoked tofu, avocado, sweet potato, red cabbage, pak choi, daikon, heritage carrot, peppers with a teriyaki and sesame dressing), which was fresh and light but packed with amazing flavor. The portions here are maybe a bit on the smaller side, but that just means you have more room for dessert, which is a great thing at this place! Vegan banoffee pie anyone?? This was literally one of the best (closely following the epic Farmacy sundae) vegan desserts I’ve ever had. It was utterly divine and I could not stop making noises of appreciation and wonder with each bite. Everything from the caramelized banana and banana coulis to the caramel-y base was scrumptious and the top layer of the dessert was soooo incredibly smooth and silky. It was a dream.

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The location: 370 St John St London EC1V 4NN (The Gate Islington); there are also restaurants in Hammersmith (51 Queen Caroline Street, London w6 9QL) and – as I just found out this minute – there will be one in Seymour Place (22-24 Seymour Place, London W1H 7NL) from December 1st onwards.

Note: Make a reservation! This place is always packed. The staff was kind enough to give my boyfriend and I the couch when we stopped by spontaneously 😀 comfy, but a bit difficult to eat with the low table (but hey, great food, cozy atmosphere – what more do you need?)

Hope you enjoyed this and please let me know what you think if you go to any of these place – I’d love to know 🙂