Vegan Banana Bread // Plastic Free July

Banana bread is one of those great cakes that you can make with ingredients from your cupboard and now I can bulk buy vegan chocolate chips, the recipe is zero waste too. It’s also a great way to use up any bananas that are too ripe too eat so you don’t end up with food waste.

I made this cake last night and as you can see from the photo I’ve already eaten about a third of it which can only be a sign that it tastes good. It’s really quick and easy to make and you don’t need any fancy food processors or equipment.


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Vegan food in York & Leeds

I recently got back from a long weekend in York (with a day trip to Leeds) with my mum and my sister, and while I was there, I discovered some amazing vegan food. I only found one fully vegan restaurant (as opposed to the multiple vegan ones in Edinburgh), but lots of places had vegan options so I was never short of food. I even found a stall in York station selling brownies and vegan sausage rolls, although I’d just eaten breakfast so I wasn’t hungry enough to buy any.

Here’s some of my vegan food highlights from the trip.

1. Double Dutch Pancake House

Vegan Pancakes in York

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Vegan food in Iceland

It’s the land of dried fish, sheep head, and shark, so it’s safe to say I had my reservations about how much vegan food I would actually find in Iceland. As it turns out, there are lots of great options.

In a bid to save some cash (because Iceland is VERY expensive) we did eat quite a few meals in our apartment. I took oats with me for porridge and found some strawberries and syrup at the local shop, and we made a giant pot of veggie pasta which lasted us two nights. However, when I did eat out I discovered some really tasty food.

The first place I found was Kaffi Vinyl which is a completely vegan bar/café and record store right in the centre of Reykjavik. There were lots of options on the menu including salads, sandwiches, pasta, and a burger. They also had cocktails and a selection of delicious looking cakes on the counter.

I had the Mile High Club sandwich which was filled with tomato, portobello bacon, avocado, lettuce, garlic aioli, dijon mustard, crispy fried onions, melted cheese and the biggest pile of crisps I’ve ever seen. It was really tasty, even if I couldn’t quite manage to finish all the crisps on the plate.

The second place I tried was a fast food restaurant called Aktu Taktu which I had read about online. It’s like McDonalds but a lot better. They have a selection of burgers on the menu including a vegan one which consists of a soya patty with cheese, salad and sauce.

I’ve never had an actual meat burger before, so it was a strange experience to even order a burger in a fast food restaurant, but I really enjoyed it. I also saw another girl come in after me and order the vegan burger too.It would be nice if there was another option on the menu, but it was much pretty than you would get in similar places in the UK.

So that was my vegan experience in Iceland. Have you ever been? I’d love to know your recommendations as I’m planning to go back sometime soon.

Birthday Celebrations

So that’s it, I am officially 31 (and still completely in denial about it).

This week, I celebrated another birthday and while I don’t look any older (well, that’s what I’m telling myself) I have now reached the grand old age of 31.

I took the day off work like I have done every year of my adult life (well apart from one year when an old boss made me work) so my mum came through to Edinburgh so we could spend the day together.

Ever since I was born, my mum has made my birthday cakes and they always taste a million times better than any shop bought cake. This year, she made me a vegan chocolate dinosaur cake and it was amazing!! She even used Biscoff spread (!!!) between the layers. I’ve been eating it every day this week, and luckily there’s still some left to snack on today.

We spent the afternoon at Holyrood Palace and the Queen’s Gallery, which we’ve both been wanting to go to for a while, especially since I’ve become obsessed with The Crown. You’re not allowed to take any photos inside, but here’s one of me in my favourite Gryffindor scarf standing in the remains of Holyrood Abbey.

After that, we took a way up the Royal Mile for my birthday lunch at Paradise Palms. It’s a great veggie/vegan bar and restaurant in town which is decorated with neon lights and palm trees. I had nachos topped with 3 bean chili, kiwi salsa verde, guacamole, blackbean dip, pickled chillies and vegan cheese. We also had a portion of the buffalo cauliflower, but it was a little too spicy for both of us.

I was back in work on Wednesday and of my colleagues made me a vegan chocolate cake which the office all enjoyed. I also caught up with some friends, went for pizza, played pinball, and then spent some time with the rest of my family as my brother turned 21 this week too.

I guess turning 31 wasn’t too bad after all!

**Happy Veganniversary**

Happy Veganniversary to me!! That’s right, today is officially my veganniversary. I’m sure to some people it’s a pointless day that doesn’t mean anything, but to me it marks a completely new chapter of my life filled with compassion, love, good health and great friends. Plus, I’m not married or anything so right now this is the only real anniversary I have to celebrate, so I am taking it.

If I’m completely honest, until about a week ago I was convinced that I had been vegan for five years but as it turns out it’s only been four years. My journey to veganism was pretty easy. I stopped eating meat when I was around 12 or 13 years old (fun fact: no one can remember exactly when I gave up meat, just that my mum made my eat the rest of the chicken in our freezer before I could stop eating it),  and I have never drank cow’s milk or really eaten eggs. I occasionally ate scrambled eggs and I guess I consumed eggs in cakes, but I’ve never had a fried/boiled/poached egg. I’ve also never eaten a steak, a burger, bucket of chicken, or any kind of meat joint. I guess you could say I was always destined to become vegan at some point.

It wasn’t until late 2013 that I actually became aware of how terrible the dairy industry is. I always thought that dairy cows were better off because they aren’t being slaughtered in the same way that meat cows are, but actually they have a horrific time. Their life revolves around being artificially inseminated over and over again, while their young are taken from them as soon as they’re born. I discovered this at the end of 2013, did veganuary in 2014, and I have never looked back.

I still can’t quite believe how much veganism has grown in the past few years. The Fish & Chip shop in my hometown of Polmont now has a vegan night (Polmont is a tiny village so this is AMAZING – check it out here), most chain restaurants have vegan options including Pizza Hut which now does vegan cheese, and Ben & Jerry’s even brought out some non-dairy ice-cream last year. If you’re worried that veganism may be restrictive, then just check out some of the food I ate in the last twelves months.

If you’re thinking about transitioning to a lifestyle free of animal products then you can sign up to veganuary here. It’s a great way to get a taster of veganism without having to commit to it for life, although I do think once you tried it you’ll never look back.

Vegan Christmas Meet Up – Herbivore Kitchen

Last night, I had the pleasure of going out for a three course Christmas dinner with some lovely vegan bloggers at The Herbivore Kitchen in Edinburgh. I got to put faces of people I’ve followed online for a while, and made some new friends in the process. 
If you’re used to being the only vegan on a night out then your options can often be limited. I’ve been to many events and nights out over the years where I’ve been served fruit salad on a plate for a starter and the same fruit salad in a glass for dessert. Luckily, last night we were treated to a wonderful menu that had multiple vegan options on offer for each course! 

To begin with I had roast butternut round, sweet potato gnocchi and sage cashew cream. It was so delicious that I’m pretty sure I cleared my plate in about 2 minute flat. 

For my main course, I went for wintry beetroot risotto which was also delicious. Most people picked the nut roast, but I wasn’t 100% sure I would like it, so I thought this was a safer bet. It was really filling so I ended up leaving a bit of it, but I would happily eat it again for dinner tonight if I could.

My favourite course of the night was always going to be pudding which was a chocolate yule arctic roll. It tastes just like a Terry’s chocolate orange which I have eaten for almost five years, so it was hard for it not to be my favourite of the three courses. However, everything I ate at the meal was really tasty and I would happily eat it all again.

We also got a surprise goodie bag filled with lots of vegan treats including cakes, chocolate and shower gel which I will do a separate post on next week when I start tasting everything that was in it.

It was a great dinner with some genuinely lovely people, and I can’t wait for the next time we all get together for more tasty vegan food.

Edinburgh’s newest supper club

Supper clubs seem to be the thing of the moment, and Edinburgh’s newest one certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Last night, I went to Century General’s first ever supper club with a group of colleagues and friends from OneKind. We’ve become regulars at Century General over the past few months thanks to their coffee (I’m still not a coffee drinker, but I hear it’s very good) and giant vegan cinnamon buns. So when we heard the first Century General Supper was going to be vegan, we knew we had to go.

For the first course, we had a delicious beremeal bannock with white bean and roast garlic puree. If you’re not familiar with a beremeal bannock (which I wasn’t), it’s bread made using an ancient grain from Shetland. It’s something I’ve never had before, but I’d definitely recommend it if you ever come across it because it’s really tasty.

The next course was salt baked vegetables, salsa verde and candied hazelnuts. I’m not really a fan of nuts, so I did pass on the candied hazelnuts, but the rest of the dish was really good. Judging by all the empty plates around me, it seems like everyone else really enjoyed it too.
After that, we had my favourite course savoury course of the night which was braised lentils, neep gnocchi, leeks and jus. I’ve never had gnocchi made with anything other than potato before, but this neep gnocchi was delicious.

It wouldn’t be any kind of supper without dessert and for this course we had chocolate tart, coconut ice cream, apples and pears. I pretty much inhaled this dish the minute it was put down in front of me, and I could have easily had seconds. It was the perfect finish to a fantastic evening of food. We also had bowls of cabbage on the table for us all to share which complimented the dish really well too.
To go with each course, we were given beers from Tempest Brewery. I’ve never been the biggest beer fan but I would definitely have two of the four beers again, especially the Mango Berlinner which turned out to be one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted. 
We were also given a couple of samples from Fife based natural company called Bodylushious to try. I got rose and lavender soap and jasmine body butter. They smell so good, so I’ll do a full review once I’ve had a chance to try them out.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the first ever Century General Supper went really well, and I can’t wait to see if they do another vegan one in the future.

(photo credit: Century General)

Vegan Club Sandwiches

Vegan club sandwiches

A couple of weekends ago, I found myself at The Caffeine Drip in Edinburgh for the first time. I’d heard lots of great things about this South African café and bakery, but for some reason I’ve just never found myself at that part of town, even though isn’t really that far away from my flat.

It isn’t a vegan café, but they have so many different vegan options that you wouldn’t be disappointed. I was there around 1.30pm so I was unable to order of the breakfast menu but if you go early enough you can pick from vegan French toast or a tofu scramble with added sides of vegan bacon or haggis.

On the recommendation of my friend, I ordered the vegan club sandwich which came with grilled vegetables, caramelised onion hummus, tomatoes, avocado and spinach. I also had it with rustic fries because I’m never going to turn down the chance to have chips. I think I’d have to put it up there in my top 5 favourite sandwiches of all time (that’s right, I have a list) but it hasn’t taken the top spot with goes to Meatless Mike sandwich from Ike’s in San Francisco.

They also have a variety of vegan burgers, sandwiches and wraps and the most incredible vegan hot chocolate I have ever tasted. One thing to keep in mind is that it can be really busy so you might not get a table straight away, but it’s definitely worth waiting on one if it’s crowded.

You can check out the full menu on their website here.

SugarDaddy’s Bakery

Are these not the best cookie sandwiches you’ve ever seen?

They’re from a cute little bakery called SugarDaddy’s in Edinburgh. Despite only living about a 20 minute walk from the shop, I only actually went in for the first time this weekend.

It’s not a vegan bakery, but they have lots of different vegan options available and everything is gluten free. I obviously picked up one of the caramel apple cookie sandwiches which tasted incredible, and it was only £1.95! That’s a bargain in terms of vegan cakes because they’re usually at least twice as much if you’re after cakes at a vegan festival.

They also do doughnuts, cupcakes, brownies and cookies, so there are more than enough options to keep you going back time after time. I fee like it’s going to be hard not to end up there every day working my way through all the different cakes. Although that probably won’t be good for my waistline even if my taste buds will enjoy it an awful lot.

If you’re in Edinburgh and looking for vegan cakes then I can’t recommend SugarDady’s enough. Trust me, you’ll love it!

Making my own almond milk

Guess who made her own almond milk at the weekend?

I had wanted to make it for a while, but I kept putting it off. I thought it would be really difficult, but in actual fact it’s really simple. So here’s my step by step guide to making your own almond milk.

1. Soak 2 cups of almonds overnight or for at least 8 hours. Place the almonds in a bowl and cover with an inch of water. The longer you soak the almonds, the creamier the almond milk will be.

2. Drain and rinse the almonds. Use cold water to rinse the almonds which should be quite soft if you pinch them.

3. Blend almonds and water. Put the almonds in the blender with 4 cups of water and blend until the almonds are broken down.

4. Strain the almonds. Pour the mixture into a nut milk bag (I use this one from Lovetree products) and squeeze or twist the bag until the liquid comes through the bag and you’re just left with the almond meal.

5. Refrigerate the almond milk. Store the milk in a air tight container. It usually last between 2-3 days.

If you like your almond milk sweeter then you can pick a sweetener of your choice, but I usually only use my almond milk in porridge so I don’t need it to be very sweet because whatever porridge toppings I use will do that for me.

There’s also lots you can do with the almond meal whether it be adding it to energy balls, nut bars or smoothies. I just put mine in the fridge for now until I decide what to do with it, but I’ll write another post about it when I make my mind up.

Most plant based milks come in either plastic bottles or cartons with plastic tops, so making your own is a great way to cut down on your waste while also cutting out any additives that can sometimes be added to it.

Have you ever made your own non-dairy milk before? I’d love to hear your recipes.