Weekend in Turin – Vegan Food Spots

Hello and happy Wednesday!

This past weekend I was in Turin for the first time, pre-celebrating my 4-year anniversary with my boyfriend, while enjoying both the cultural & culinary offerings of this beautiful northern Italian city.

Confession: The culinary aspect definitely weighed into my vote for this destination. My boyfriend was quite surprised when, a few days after he had suggested Turin and a few other places – and received a noncommittal response from me – I sent him an excited message that I’d love Turin, along with my hotel suggestions. He was (rightly) suspicious about this sudden excitement, and only when I later told him that Turin is one of Italy’s most veggie-friendly cities did a look of understanding cross his face. (He just laughed and told me not to focus my Turin research on just restaurants 😀 )

Continue reading “Weekend in Turin – Vegan Food Spots”

Vegan Advent Calendars

Hello and happy Monday!

Yes, we’re almost half-way through November, and before we know it we’ll be exclaiming how we can’t believe it’s already December and that the Christmas countdown has begun.

I’m definitely not one of those people who has their Christmas shopping completed weeks ahead of time, but this year I’ve already taken care of one important thing: my advent calendar!

Last year, while still living in London, I scoured the shops in eager anticipation, sure I’d find an amazing vegan chocolate advent calendar – in vain. I did find a dark chocolate one at Whole Foods, but it contained the exact same chocolate for every day, which – for someone who eats plain dark chocolate on a daily basis, all year round – is not very exciting.

I mentioned this plight to my wonderful friend Jordan – founder of the vegan treat business Leitchy Creates – and I’m ecstatic to say that she has created the most amazing looking advent calendar, with 24 completely different Christmas-themed, plant-based artisan pralines. They are currently available for pre-order in the UK – till Friday, November 17 – for £16.50 right here. This would definitely also be a wonderful gift for someone.

Version 2

 

In the meantime, I’ve also discovered some options here in Switzerland (some of which are also available in other countries, like Germany, Austria and the UK). I definitely would have gotten one if I didn’t already have my Leitchy Creates one to look forward to 😉

 

Zotter Adventskalender (Chocolate)

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This one has several different chocolate flavors – from white to dark to coconut to a fantastic sounding Superfood chocolate (with acai, chlorella, green tea, reishi and maca)!

Price: CHF 24.90

Found in: Migros Alnatura (Löwenstrasse, Zurich); also available online to order from Switzerland for CHF 24.68 (here). The same brand has other chocolate advent calendars, including this one, with wilder flavors, also available to order online from several countries, including Germany and the UK.

 

Govinda 24 Adventstage (Energy Balls)

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This calendar contains eight different flavors of mainly date-based energy balls.

Price: CHF 26.90

Found in: Egli Bio (ShopVille, Zurich main station); also available online to order from several countries, including Switzerland, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Belgium and Spain, for EUR 18.80).

 

And, for all the tea-lovers:

Sirocco Tea Advent Calendar

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This calendar contains 24 certified organic tea bags, with flavors such as Green Jasmine, Winter Moments, Pina Moringa, Japanese Sencha and White Christmas, and you can use the case long after Christmas has passed.

Price: CHF 45

Found in: Globus (Zurich)

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these calendars, and please let me know about any other exciting options you come across!

xoxo

 

 

UK Food Favorites

Hello and happy Sunday!

On my trip to London the other week, I spent a fair amount of time in my favorite health food store Planet Organic, browsing, drinking in the good vibes along with my superfood coffee and, of course, stocking up on some foodie favorites. In this post I’m sharing with you some of my favorite food products, both old ones as well as new discoveries from the Health Blog Awards and Lorna Jane Active Nation day. (You can also find previous plant-based food product recommendations here and here 😉 ).

Let’s get snacking! 

Blanxart Chocolate

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This organic, artisanal, single-origin cacao chocolate from Barcelonan company Blanxart is – I’ve officially decided – my favorite chocolate of all time. I came across their bars at Planet Organic a few months ago, and was immediately drawn to them by the understated packaging and the substantiality of the actual product (who can resist a proper, ingot-like bar of chocolate?!). On my trip I stocked up on some 77% Peru and 82% Congo bars, and a square or two (ok, the whole bar on some days) perfectly satisfies deep dark chocolate cravings! I honestly can’t think of any other chocolate brand I’ve ever enjoyed this much. No flashy packing, superfood claims or distracting ingredients – just good-quality chocolate, pure and simple.

 

Moju Turmeric & Ginger Boosters

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(Image from Moju Drinks)

I tried these vibrant little shots at the Lorna Jane Active Nation event and absolutely loved them! Very simple ingredients – pineapple, lemon juice and turmeric / apple, lemon juice and ginger – and such fiery, powerful flavor. I loved them so much that I’ve made my own version back home.

DIY Boosters: For the turmeric one, just combine pineapple juice (I’ve also made a tasty one with mandarine juice) with freshly squeezed lemon juice (try it as you go along until you find the right balance for your taste), freshly grated turmeric and a pinch or two of black pepper (this increases the bioavailability of curcumin, one of the much-acclaimed active components of turmeric). For the ginger one just substitute fresh ginger, and again use lemon juice and another fruit juice of your choice. Just make sure to vigorously stir or shake before drinking. I love having a shot after breakfast, and I like to think it helps my immune system, now that we’re heading towards winter. [Also, I’ve started eating a little chunk of fresh ginger every day and am absolutely loving it – #gingerchallenge if you know what I’m talking about 😉 ].

 

Booja Booja Hazelnut Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

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(Image from Booja Booja )

This vegan ice cream was on my list of things to try during the year I was in London, but (feel free to virtually slap me) I didn’t get around to it. I’m one of those people who is very selective about when they enjoy eating ice cream – definitely not in winter, and probably not if there are baked goods around, as I’ll always prefer those. So, it was the best surprise when my lovely friend (and the perfect hostess) Lauren, whose couch was my much appreciated bed for two nights, reappeared from the kitchen with a tub of the good stuff while we were having a cozy catch-up. I was honestly blown away by how delicious it was, and creamy yet also light at the same time. I also love the straightforward ingredients (water, agave syrup, cashew nuts, hazelnuts and cocoa powder).

Booja Booja ice cream is also available in Switzerland (I’ve seen it at the Alnatura Shop in Zurich and L’Ultimo Bacio in St. Gallen – but I’m sure it can be found in other health food shops as well). I haven’t had the heart to look at the price yet, but at least I know where to turn to when I want a special treat!

 

Rhythm 108 Sweet ‘n’ Salty Almond

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(Image from Leitchy Creates)

It was love at first bite when I tried the Sweet ‘n’ Salty Almond dessert bar from the new range by Swiss company Rhythm 108. Without the kick of salt I might have found the bar almost too sweet, but the two opposing flavors are perfectly harmonious, providing sheer melt-in-the-mouth bliss.

The bars (also in the flavors Super Coconut and Hazelnut Praline) are currently only out in the UK, but I’m hoping I’ll soon be able to get them here in Switzerland!

 

Sun & Seed Walnut Butter

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(Image from Sun and Seed)

If you follow me on Instagram, you may well have seen this glorious golden goodness luxuriously drizzled over a smoothie or porridge bowl. This is probably my all-time favorite nut butter (well, at least if we discount peanuts for technically being a legume). It tastes like liquid walnuts, which, to me, tastes like liquid happiness.

Sun & Seed also have other raw organic nut and seed spreads. Their lightly salted pumpkin seed butter is delightful – and I went through their jar of hazelnut butter in a shockingly short amount of time. (Also check out their black tahini!)

 

Jarr Kombucha

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(Image from Jarr)

While somewhat late to board the kombucha train, I have become a passionate Jarr Kombucha lover ever since attending a workshop of theirs a few months ago. I’ve had one or two other brands, but they just don’t compare if you ask me. I love all the flavors (original, ginger and passionfruit) of this fizzy fermented tea drink, but the BEST one is the newest raspberry flavor, which is only available on tap at Whole Foods in London. If only I could get my hands on it in Switzerland!

Bodyme Chia Vanilla Protein Bars

(Image from Bodyme)

I’ve already mentioned these in a previous post, so I won’t say much more, except that they’re my all-time favorite protein bars. Good ingredients, 16 g of plant protein, delicious flavor – what’s not to like??

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading! Let me know if you’ve tried these, or what some of your food favorites are!

xoxo

 

 

London: Best Vegan Food (Part II)

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. [For a much longer list of recommendations for plant-based food in London, check out my Ultimate Guide].

Continue reading “London: Best Vegan Food (Part II)”

London: Best Vegan Food (Part I) – the ULTIMATE Guide

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!)

Continue reading “London: Best Vegan Food (Part I) – the ULTIMATE Guide”

Vegan Afternoon Tea in London

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

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