Sunday, 28 February 2016

CBT Diaries - Week 1



I've just got home from my first session of group work CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and I have decided that I want to document the process not only for myself but also for anyone else who is interested in the only therapy for anxiety and depression which is now offered by the NHS. If you go to your GP with symptoms of anxiety or depression, or both, then the likelihood is that you will be offered a course of CBT alongside some medication. 

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Friday, 26 February 2016

Gifts Your Mum Will Love This Mothers Day


With Mothers Day just around the corner (Sunday 6th March in case you forgot!), I thought it would be nice to put together a little gift guide and share with you some of my favourite ideas which i'm sure all your Mum's will love. Personally, I think Mothers Day is one of the easier 'days' to buy for but maybe that's because i'm female and I have a pretty good idea about what us girls like! I also love to shop so i've enjoyed exploring all of my favourite shops in the search for the most perfect Mothers Day gifts.

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Thursday, 25 February 2016

Good Carma Vegan Parmesan


Since starting my vegan journey parmesan cheese is something which i've just completely cut out of my diet and, truth be told, I don't ever really miss it. I have tried other vegan cheeses in the past, such as Violife, and I would say that from my own experiences vegan parmesan cheese is not something that I have found to be easily available. So when the Vegan Lifestyle Association contacted me and asked if i'd like to review some vegan parmesan cheese I was definitely intrigued and willing to give it a try.
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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Mildred's Camden



As soon as Mildred's announced that they were opening another restaurant in Camden I was really excited to book a table and go to try it out. Mildred's have been on my 'favourite places to eat vegan' list for sometime now and ever since I went to their other Soho restaurant last year. With Valentines Day around the corner there seemed like no better time to make a visit and it was the perfect excuse to book ourselves up a romantic table for two! 
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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

My 10 Fave Instagramers Of The Moment


Instagram has so quickly become my favourite social media platform.
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Friday, 19 February 2016

The Nourish Co


Last week I happened to be in Colchester for an appointment so I decided to stop for lunch at one of the towns newest vegan cafe's The Nourish Co

What with the other vegan cafes such as The Den at 23,  Découverte and vegan caterers / street food stall holders V Catering Co., Colchester is quickly making a name for itself as the vegan hot spot of Essex. Last Summer it even played host to the Colchester Vegan Fair at the popular vegan friendly venue The Waiting Room. And best of all, it's not too far from where I live! 

I frequently visit the Den so I was looking forward to finding out what The Nourish Co had to offer and to see how they differ from their competition just up the road.   


The Nourish Co is a very small and cosy establishment which has limited seating inside, including a nice window spot with bar stalls perfect people watching. Despite the fact that you can choose to dine in here it would seem that this cafe is a real hit with customers who are looking to grab a quick take away lunch. During the hour that I sat in there many people stopped by to pick up a hot drink and a sandwich. It was great to see how busy they are and, despite being a relatively new cafe, it's clear that they are already a popular choice with the locals.

The menu is quite small but also really inviting with lots of freshly cooked and prepared plant based offerings. I decided to order the vegan BLT sandwich and I just couldn't resist the lure of one of those sausage rolls which I took home with me for later. 

As soon as I had explored the options I realised straight away how The Nourish Co differs from the Den. Whereas the Den offers up some really tasty fake meat style burgers, sausages and indulgent sweet treats, The Nourish Co's focus appears to be on offering more healthy options using purely vegetable based ingredients. That's not to say you can't get a healthy meal at the Den, because you most certainly can, but the Den is also where we go when we want our vegan junk food fix!        


Along with the ever changing daily specials menu there's also a fridge stocked up with drinks and what can only be described as beautiful raw desserts and sweet treats. I was really pleased to see that the desserts were packaged in handy little take away cartons as I definitely wanted to take away some of the chocolate pie with me!  



As well as food, The Nourish Co also has a few shelves dedicated to selling vegan friendly cosmetics and food items.



When my sandwich arrived it looked great and exactly what I wanted for a quick lunch time pit stop. This was my first vegan BLT experience and I have to say it was really delicious! Bacon was replaced with smoked aubergine and it even included some homemade garlic infused vegan mayo. I thought this was a really simple but innovative idea and one that I shall definitely be trying myself at home.


After my sandwich I decided to go in for a cup of tea and one of the amazing looking raw white chocolate flapjacks. This was loaded with nuts, seeds, puffed rice, buckwheat and oats and tasted incredible. In fact i've been craving another one ever since!   




In my take away bag I added a mushroom & lentil sausage roll and a slice of the berry mousse chocolate pie, both of which I enjoyed later that evening at home. The sausage roll was really tasty and it made a change to eat one which wasn't really trying to be like meat. I think the raw pie is one of the best vegan desserts i've ever tasted. To look at it was stunning and taste wise I wasn't expecting a great deal from a raw pudding but it was to die for! 



Overall I really enjoyed my first visit to The Nourish Co and i'm sure it won't be my last. The staff were really friendly and helpful, the food was healthy, innovative and importantly really yummy, and the prices were also reasonable. I would definitely recommend stopping by if you ever happen to be in the Colchester area! 

You can keep up to date with The Nourish Co's latest offerings via their Facebook & Instagram pages where they regularly post photos of what's on the menu.

Have you been to this cafe yet? What did you think?
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Thursday, 18 February 2016

My Latest Cruelty Free Makeup Must Haves


In the new year I decided to give my makeup a little overhaul and I added some new items to my collection which I have since grown to love and which I really want to share with you all. I haven't done a make up review for quite a while now so i'm sorry that this post has been a long time coming!
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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

B. Refreshed Essence Lotion


My relationship with B. cosmetics has been a bit up and down since going completely cruelty free. I've tried some of their make up items in the past which I haven't completely got on well with, but then i've found their skin care range to be quite good. I definitely wouldn't say that they are my current 'go to' brand for everything but if you were to take a look in my dressing table you would certainly find a few of their products. 
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Monday, 15 February 2016

Wild Thing Bars


Anyone who knows me knows that I am a snack-a-holic and instead of eating three main meals a day I tend to just graze on small things throughout the day. I think that this generally works better for me and my metabolism. Consequently my food cupboard is always stocked up with different nuts, bars and nibbles and i'm always on the look out for new snacks when I go shopping. 

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Friday, 12 February 2016

Guest Blog Post - Vegan Evening at Little Hallingbury Mill


‘We are going to this!’ I excitedly announce to my husband, Joe, as I show him the website for a the vegan evening at the Little Hallingbury Mill.

The Mill is offering an alternating gluten free/vegan menu every Thursday night, and this was the very first one. I wanted to go to show my support for such a wonderful idea, for if one does not attend these things, these things will not continue.

I also wanted to go because I seldom experience a totally vegan menu. I could choose from anything on it and without question I knew I could eat it. This is a very rare thing. I relished in the fact that I didn’t have to question the ingredients of each dish.

There were 3 or 4 options for each of the 3 courses, which were very hard to choose between. For starters we could choose between Homemade Leek & Mushroom Soup, Carpaccio of Beetroot or a Mini Nutroast. We both chose the Mini Nutroast with smoked paprika, chestnuts and pecans with baby leaves on the side. It was mouthwateringly good. The nuts were left chunky so we could taste the individual flavours of both the pecans and the chestnuts. The baby leaves came with a lemony dressing, which complimented the nuts and paprika well. I was left wanting more…


For mains there was the choice between Homemade Shepherds Pie with lentils & chickpeas, Pumpkin and Sage Risotto, Homemade Spicy Falafel Buurger or Thai Red Spicy Curry. Again, how does one choose??? I almost asked for a spoonful of each…



Joe chose the Shepherds Pie and I chose the Risotto. The Shepherds pie had an authentic homecooked feel. Obviously freshly made, no frozen dish here. With rustic chunky vegetables and a mouthwateringly crispy top, it was delicious and wholesome. My risotto had the perfect consistency, it was moist without being too wet and had perfectly cooked cubes of pumpkin and sage leaves scattered on the top. It was a beautiful mixture of sweet and savory. We both ate in almost silence, save for the occasional indulgent groan of pleasure.


Along side these beautiful dishes we both opted for the fresh apple juice made from apples from the village. I am currently 8 months pregnant so am not indulging in much alcohol and can’t quite reach the steering wheel so Joe had offered to drive. But they did have a range of vegan wines and beers on offer.


Now, the pudding. This is always a serious subject. As a vegan I am sick of the pudding option being fruit salad and sorbet… Where is the indulgent chocolate cake? Where is the dairy free ice cream? Where is the effort to make something truly scrumptious for desert? Making vegan puddings is really easy, and the lack of imagination of some eateries frustrates me. It doesn’t take much to substitute things here and there to make a vegan tasty treat. And the Hallingbury Mill made a super effort to produce 3 glorious puddings! Mint Choc Chip, Salted Caramel and Vanilla Ice Cream, Homemade Lemon Mosse or Homemade Chocolate Brownie with Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Now that’s what I’m talking about! Again, a spoon of each was perhaps a little too much to ask, so we had to make a decision. After much twoing and froing we both decided on the Chocolate Brownie, and what a brownie it was! It was warm and moist and simply glorious and the salted caramel ice cream just hit the nail on the head.


Often one is treated to something that looks and tastes amazing but can often go home hungry. This was not the case at The Hallingbury Mill! Granted, most of my torso is taken up with unborn child and my stomach is slightly smaller than normal, but the portions were generous and we both left feeling full and satisfied.


The Mill is a gorgeous old building with the original workings visible behind glass. The owners have done it out beautifully with nods to vintage and rustic style, it was a very pleasant place to eat. They are also a hotel and are situated very close to Stansted Airport.


We spoke with the owners, a couple with 3 children, who both oozed enthusiasm for their business. She is the chef and the brains behind the menu, which she said was going to change fortnightly. They talked about their desire to cater for those who often get left out and it is clear to see they are trying to close the gap in the market for special dietary needs. And good on them, it is a brave step to take. If you want to see more vegan options on menus you have to vote with your feet. Go to The Hallingbury Mill and find out for yourself how wonderful it really is. We may just see you there!


Guest Blog Post by: Hannah Elgie  Diet: Vegan
Location: Chelmsford, Essex  Instagram: @hanelgie

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Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Tesco's Frozen Avocado


I had to sit down from shock last week when I saw someone post a photo of Tesco's new bags of frozen avocado! I literally couldn't believe my eyes or that i'd never even thought of this before.

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12 Ideas For Valentines Day


An argument I always hear against Valentines Day is that it's just a commercialised money-making scheme designed to get us to spend our money on material things or dining out. And whilst I kind of agree with this in principle I am also one of the suckers who falls for it!

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Monday, 8 February 2016

Vegan Pancake Day


I can't believe that I nearly forgot that tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, also known to many as Pancake Day. I really don't need any excuses to eat and enjoy some pancakes but for some reason they're not something I make very often. Note to self - I must start eating more pancakes! (Hmm, or maybe not if I want my body Ibiza ready by June!)

Anyway, I wanted to share my super quick and easy vegan pancake recipe with you all today so that you have plenty of time to get your ingredients in for tomorrow. I personally love mine with strawberries and maple syrup so I have included these within the ingredients list but i've also provided you with some other vegan friendly pancake toppings at the end too.

When I first tried these pancakes a coupe of years ago I just couldn't believe that they are dairy free and basically taste exactly the same as regular pancakes. It's pretty amazing!   

This recipe makes approx 9 pancakes...(but no one says you have to share them!)

150g plain flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
300ml water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
Strawberries
100% maple syrup
Icing sugar 

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.

Whisk the water and oil together in a separate small bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir util blended. If it's slightly lumpy thats ok!

Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium heat and drop in the batter by large spoonfuls.

Cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry then flip the pancake over onto the other side.

Repeat with remaining batter. 

Finish by topping with strawberries, maple syrup & icing sugar.

YUMMY!

  
Alternatively you could try a traditional favourite and add lemon juice & sugar. If you love your fruit you could add sultanas to the mix and load them on top with some bananas and blueberries too. Other vegan favourites include baked apple with cinnamon, vegan squirty cream and dark chocolate chips, or why not try making up your own vegan version of Nutella by using this really great recipe

The choices are really endless when it comes to pancakes and I love to experiment with different toppings. I know some people who also enjoy making up savoury versions but personally they've always been a sweet treat for me!

Whenever I am lacking in food inspo Instagram is always my go to place and  you only have to search #veganpancakes to see the huge variety of choices out there! (warning this will make your mouth water!)    

Let me know if you have a go at making these tomorrow and i'd love to see some photos of your creations so feel free to email me or send me a tweet

What are your favourite vegan pancakes?   

Have a 'flipping' happy vegan Pancake Day everyone! 
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Friday, 5 February 2016

Lucky Dip Club - Donut Dinerette


I had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this month's Lucky Dip Club, not only for the cute 'Donut Dinerette' theme, but also because it saw the launch of the very first issue of LDC's newest addition to the monthly subscription box, the 'Girl Planet' mini magazine. I was a huge fan of the previous zine and i'd often find myself really looking forward to putting my feet up and having a little read. When Leona announced that the zine was going to become bigger and better for 2016 I was so excited to see what was in store. 

When my box landed on my door mat I couldn't wait to rip it open and find out what was inside!


Included in January's 'Donut Dinerette' box:

'Donut Forget' dry wipe magnet & pen
Enamel donut & bow necklace
'Donut Forget' A5 art print
'I Donut Care' embroidered patch
Donut sticker set
'Girl Gang' pin designed by Lucky Dip Club

I was also lucky enough to win a raffle prize of a donut greetings card and badge as my unboxing photo from last month was picked out as a favourite from Instagram! 




All items within this months box (apart from the raffle prizes) were illustrated by the talented Mel Stringer. To be honest I hadn't heard of Mel or seen any of her work prior to hearing about her through the Lucky Dip Club but i'm happy i've been introduced to her as her illustrations and style is so cute. I'll definitely be giving her a follow on Instagram!    


My favourite item from this months box would have to be the magnetic 'Donut Forget' dry wipe board. I have a big magnetic notice board in my kitchen which this has now taken pride of place on. Not only is this really adorable but it's also super useful! 


I have to say that 'Girl Planet' totally exceeded my expectations and I absolutely loved having a read through this mini magazine and spotting some of my favourite people in it too. I love how LDC creator Leona & Editor Zabby Allen are encouraging input from the subscribers to take part in contributing towards the magazines content too. I love social media and especially communicating with other likeminded people so this really is the perfect way of bringing subscribers and creators together and making us all feel very much a part of an exclusive 'Girl Gang'! The mini magazine also contains a pull out wall calendar and a DIY crafty box challenge which I love but i'm not sure I could ever bring myself to pull apart this little masterpiece!

I also did a little jump for joy when I saw my Insta pic of my lovely cat Naboo featured on the 'Insta Fun' page and chosen as one of the fave photos from last months unboxing. I feel so happy to have been unexpectedly featured in this first issue of Girl Planet!  



If you're not already subscribed to Lucky Dip Club then seriously what are you doing!?!? Out of all my subscription boxes this one has remained in first place for sometime now and it's amazing to watch it go from strength to strength and develop so fantastically. The next 'Galentines' box launches on Monday 1st February at 7am so be sure to set your alarms as they sell out super fast! 

What's your favourite subscription box? 
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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Bath


Last week my husband and I visited beautiful Somerset for a few of days away and i've been excited to share with you some of our amazing vegan eats whilst we were away. For my birthday present, back in December, my husband booked us a 2 night stay stay at Charlton House Spa Hotel which is about 40 minutes just outside Bath. We stayed there a few years ago and have always wanted to go back so it was great to have this to look forward to after Christmas. 
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Monday, 1 February 2016

The Happiness Planner


Last year my friend Claire from claireabellemakes posted a review about the Happiness Planner  and as soon as I read it I knew that I needed one in my life. I do have a slight obsession with planners and notebooks but you can never have too many right!? 
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