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

A Healthy Af-Fare

Last Saturday morning I found myself cold, wet and hungry, standing in the rain in Brick Lane. Pretty gloomy? Oh no – I was queueing to get into the Old Truman Brewery for the first day of Fare Healthy (a “feel good festival of food, exercise and wellbeing”) and inwardly glowing, feeling super excited to be let loose in a fabulous foodie playground and, not least, at the prospect of a good breakfast!

Fare Healthy is an amazing gathering of brands, fans and inspiring people from the areas of health and wellbeing, all somehow involved or interested in what and how we EAT, MOVE and THINK. (Personally, my thinking was mainly geared towards the eating, as was my movement – going from one amazing looking food stand to the next!).

My first stop, after meeting up with my lovely friend and fellow foodie Catrina and getting some skin care samples from Kiehl’s, was: breakfast! I had an amazing coconut banana waffle from Spring Green London (I shamelessly helped myself to all the toppings: coconut yoghurt, blueberries, wild blueberry jam, goji berries, cacao nibs and bee pollen). To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of all things coconutty, but I absolutely loved this waffle and it was the best way to fuel myself for, well, a lot more eating. Because that’s basically what the rest of the day consisted of 😉

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Let me just briefly take you through some further personal highlights from the event:

  • the Pip&Nut energy ball workshop: Everyone received a little bag with some base ingredients, got to process them and choose a station with the desired add-ins. Catrina and I went for the cacao peanut butter version and ended up with insanely delicious spheres of nutty goodness! [If you’re interested in the recipe: 60g raw almonds processed together with 120g dates and 40g dried cherries, mixed with 1 tbsp peanut butter and 1/2 tbsp cacao powder.] Luckily our friend Leila arrived just in time to help us shape the mixture into balls, roll them in various toppings, and, of course, test them 😉 IMG_3997.jpgIMG_4006 (1).jpg

 

  • Food Stories: Ella Mills interviewed by Martin Morales – Yes, I’ve been to many Deliciously Ella events already, and, as I sat there waiting for the talk to begin, I did start to question my booking. [Having felt so entirely out of the whole “scene” back in Switzerland has, I guess, made me instinctively book anything and everything involving the people and brands I was following from afar]. Would I just be hearing the same things I’d heard from other events? Well, there were, of course, elements I recognized, but I found it a very inspiring talk that discussed things from a slightly different angle, which was probably due to the interviewer and his choice of questions. Being a chef and restaurant owner he was, perhaps naturally, very much interested in the business side of Deliciously Ella and asked great questions about both the origins and the future of the brand and the delis. This resulted in some amusing anecdotes. For example, three weeks into the opening of the Mae deli, her husband and business partner being sick in bed, Ella found herself in possibly one of the worst positions imaginable to an inexperienced deli owner with, at the time, no management, when the chef informed her that she quit and was off to Barcelona. As horrible as that must have been (!), I love stories like that as they reveal some of the less sparkly reality that is often behind successful businesses. We often just see the result of something and perhaps underestimate or are ignorant to the fact that a lot of hard work went into achieving that result and overcoming countless obstacles. I was also intrigued by Ella’s vision for a restaurant, inspired by one of her favorite food spots in LA, which she’d ideally like to open within the next three years.IMG_4012.jpg

 

  • Biccy Bom Tasting! Now, if you are a fan of Livia’s Kitchen and their wonderful treats, this needs no explaining to you. For those unfortunate souls who have not yet discovered this brand of divine fully plant-based, refined sugar and gluten free delights: Biccy Boms are little balls of biscuity, oaty goodness with a date-based center in three flavors covered in a milk-chocolate like coating (the milky-ness apparently comes from the addition of lucuma), that are due to be launched soon. I was lucky enough to try two flavors: ginger (very fiery!) and salted maca caramel (one word: wow). If you’re in the UK, definitely keep your eyes peeled for these, as they should be hitting shelves within the next few weeks – can’t wait!IMG_4038.jpgIMG_4032.jpg

 

  • The In the Blog House: with Niomi Smart, Saskia Gregson-Williams and Izy Hossack talk. This was a relaxed interview with three inspiring bloggers and I very much enjoyed hearing a bit more behind how and why they started blogging. IMG_4034.jpg

 

  • Sampling! I won’t list everything I tried, as I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you, but the standouts were: Mani Life peanut butter (deep roast!), Pana Chocolate fig and wild orange raw vegan chocolate and The Giving Tree Broccoli crisps! (none of which I took pictures of annoyingly – was too wrapped up in enjoying the taste 😉 )

So, unsurprisingly, I conclude with the warmest praise for this wonderful, inspiring, fun and delicious festival. I strongly hope that it will take place again next year, and that I will still be here in London to enjoy it 🙂

Hope you enjoyed reading about it and maybe discovering some new brands or products!

xoxo

Mince pies and feeling Christmassy

Since moving away by myself I’ve been finding it hard to get into the Christmas spirit. On the one hand it’s (thankfully!) less cold in London than in Switzerland, so it just doesn’t feel wintery enough, and on the other, I’ve been spending my money on food rather than Christmas decorations! Also, due to the much lamented fact that my tiny student kitchen doesn’t have an oven, I hadn’t been able to do any festive baking.

Luckily for me, however, London has some amazing events for getting that Christmas fix and I recently went to two wonderful ones – both incidentally involving the quintessential British Christmas treat: mince pies 🙂

 

Livia’s Kitchen Baking Course

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On the morning of Sunday, December 4th I headed over to St. Lukes Community Center for four gloriously festive hours of baking, relaxed chatting, cheeky spoon-licking, and mince pie eating. It’s an event I booked back in September after having such a great time at the Livia’s Kitchen Cream-Free Cream Tea and meeting the lovely Jordan and Gemma, and it’s something I’d been looking forward to for a long time. In groups of two we went through four delicious, fully plant-based, gluten- and refined sugar-free recipes, starting with the Mince Pies (which, as a non-Brit, I was obviously most excited about!), moving on to Raw Christmas Cake with Cashew Frosting, Raw Chocolate Crispy Cake with Banana Caramel and finishing off with Christmas Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate Drizzle.

While we were eagerly working away in our aprons there was Christmas music playing, which, together with the wonderful smell of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg created the perfect festive feeling. It was also really nice getting to chat a bit more with Olivia and her lovely “elf” Lydia. And it was so great actually being in a kitchen with them (and even featuring in the Livia’s Kitchen Instagram story – spooning leftovers from a blender while leaving my competent baking partner Jordan to do the work – instead of watching it, wanting to be part of the action!).

At the end of this delicious and cozy event we all went home with the yummy treats we made, feeling decidedly more festive than before.

 

A Plant-Based Christmas with Deliciously Ella

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The next day, Monday December 5th, I found myself at the Whole Foods in Kensington for another great event with another inspiring food blogger, recipe book author and amazing healthy treat producer. It was an intimate Q&A, mainly focusing on celebrating Christmas while following a plant-based lifestyle.

It was great hearing how Christmas in Ella’s family has become a celebration where plant-based eating is embraced and easily incorporated by preparing lots of yummy veggie side dishes to fill most of the plate (- I’m hoping for a similar vibe back home, although somehow I’m not quite so optimistic…) And I couldn’t resist asking what she’ll have for dessert on Christmas day, as I’m still looking for inspiration. She confessed she and most of her family weren’t big fans of the traditional Christmas pudding and that they’ll be having a crumble instead. I actually made one for my family last Christmas and it was a wonderful way to end the meal, but I think I’ll be going for something chocolatey this year 😉

The cherry on top of the refined sugar-free cake was getting to sample a MaE Deli mince pie that I’ve been eagerly wanting to try! It was incredibly yummy and I’m now facing the serious dilemma of having to choose which ones to make for my friends and family – Livia’s or Ella’s? Stay tuned… 😉

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Eat Smart Brunch at Farmopolis

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Cardio 4 Cake

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

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

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

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

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