Vegan pancakes

I always thought that vegan pancakes would have something lacking from them, or maybe they wouldn’t hold together as well as ‘normal’ pancakes. These, however, taste just like your classic fluffy american pancake and are 100% vegan!

Let me know if you make these by tagging my instagram or commenting below.

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Drooling yet?

Ingredients:

  • 150g flour
  • 250ml almond milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 3tbsp brown sugar
  • Coconut oil
  • Mixed berries
  • Sweeter (I use fruit syrup)

Method:

Pancakes

  • Mix together the dry and wet ingredients separately
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl and whisk to remove lumps
  • Leave for a few minutes to thicken while you make the sauce (see below)
  • Heat coconut oil in a non-stick pan
  • Ladle the mixture into the hot pan – you should be able to make 2 pancakes at once in the pan
  • Once the top surface is bubbly and starting to cook around the edges, flip the pancakes using a wide plastic spatula
  • Cook for a minute or two longer until light brown

Sauce

  • Pour the required amount of mixed berries into a saucepan and add a dash of water.
  • Heat and let simmer while you make the pancakes
  • Sweeten to tasteDSC_0834

Falling back in love with fitness

I feel like a lot of people categorise others as ‘into fitness’ or ‘not into fitness’. They expect those into their fitness to stay as ‘the fit one’, or ‘the one who works out’ throughout their life, without struggles, doubts or loss of motivation. This view isn’t helpful to anyone – people who perhaps don’t see themselves as ‘the fit one’ might start off attempting to become fitter, only to be put off as soon as they encounter a bump. The people who are into fitness have a seemingly endless pressure to keep it up – to continue seeing progress, continue working out X hours a week and continue enjoying every second. The reality is quite different. Fitness is a journey that, like any other journey in life, is filled with unexpected mishaps, speed bumps and temporary (or permanent) stalling.

I know first hand how much an unexpected setback can throw you when you’re making, or trying to maintain progress: injuries, a week’s holiday, excessive work, lack of sleep – it seems that anything out of the norm is a cause for concern.

Well let me tell you: it’s not. In my mind, health is about living your life as the best person you can be, both mentally and physically. Physical progress is great when it makes you feel good, but as soon as it becomes something that you have to do as ‘the fit one’, it stops being fun and, at least in my eyes, it stops being ‘health’.

People who train hard are often perfectionists and high achievers, determined to better themselves on a daily basis. This can lead to having a healthy diet and a great fitness programme, but what happens when you start to beat yourself up for missing a session? Fitness should be about treating yourself well, so instead of beating yourself up for the odd mishap, why not try celebrating the small wins?

When I first got into fitness, I had performance goals in mind – I improved my squash game at an exceptional rate, moving up from 3rd player for the 2nd team, to 1st player for the 1st team in just two years. I was proud and trained hard, and it paid off. However, when I started recording my fitness on social media, it became less about performance and more about fitness for fitness’ sake. Sometimes, I fall out of love with it fitness, and that’s 100% allowed. So here are a couple of pieces of advice to help you fall back in love with the journey.

 

  • Enjoy going to the gym for its own sake. Endorphins are your friend! Working out regularly can increase our levels of endorphins, feel good hormones released by getting our hearts beating and blood pumping. They’re natural painkillers too, making exercise that little bit less painful.

 

  • Make exercise fun. Do you remember running around the playground at school or being chased by your parents in the garden? As adults we’ve somehow decided that exercise isn’t fun, and that if it’s fun, we’re not doing it right. However, making exercise fun is the best thing you can do for your health, both physical and mental. Find a sport you enjoy or try local classes at your gym. Enjoy dancing but think zumba isn’t real exercise? Think again. If it gets your heart pumping and makes you smile, it’s probably the exercise for you. Redfine your definition of fitness.

 

  • Find friends. So many people I’ve met and spoken to on social media say that the reason they got into fitness was because of friends or a partner. If you work, why not encourage your colleagues to come to a fitness class with you once a week? At uni? You have it easy – join a society or make workout dates with your friends. The encouragement and social support of working out with friends just multiply all the health benefits. If you have a competitive side, this can be an added bonus – turning something into a bit of friendly competition makes the time pass way faster!

 

  • Don’t beat yourself up. There will always be people better than you (unless you’re Bolt) and always people training harder than you, but that doesn’t mean that what you’re doing is wrong. Everyone is different and your training regime is perfect for you if you enjoy it and it gives you time to enjoy your real life too. Unless you’re a professional athlete, taking a day off because you have a deadline isn’t going to hurt you. Listen to your body – over time you’ll realise when it’s going to be beneficial to workout, and when it’s going to do you more good to take a day off. Stop beating yourself up, it won’t help.

 

  • Focus on the small wins. If you’re chasing that before and after transformation pic, you’re probably not going to enjoy the journey as you go along. As I said before, fitness is a journey that is filled with all sorts of unexpected events. Appreciate the little nuances of working out – enjoy your ability to run for the bus, lift heavy things and the energy that comes from getting fitter.

 

It’s not unusual to not enjoy every workout, but if you stop enjoying any of them, then it’s time to re-evaluate what you’re doing. We all change with age and life circumstance, so what got you going a year ago might not do the same now. Just because you’re ‘the fit one’ that doesn’t mean you are obliged to keep doing what you’re doing. If you focus on enjoyment the rest will fall into place, and you’ll fall right back in love with the fitness journey.

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Working out with friends can add a whole lot of enjoyment to a workout

All pics by James Purvis

Workout headphones

After the recent death of my beloved headphones (and a bitter battle with Bose to get a new pair within the warranty), I put out a call out on Instagram for all your favourite workout headphones. For me, it’s all about the sound quality, how well they stay on and stopping ears get too sweaty. I don’t work with any of these brands, I’ve literally just copied and pasted recommendations from you all, as so many of you asked me to share them!

I hope this is useful 🙂

Anker
Slim+ (but apparently they break)
Soundbuds sport

Apple
Airpods (x4)

Beats
Solo 3 (x4)
X
Powerbeats3 wireless (x2)

Bose
Soundsport
qc35

JBL
Everest 70
T450BT

Kinivo
BTH240

Marshall
Major II (long battery life)

Plantronics
Backbeat fit (burpee proof)

Sennheiser
HD
Momentum (but too sweaty and big)

Skullcandy
Crusher wireless (x3) (great bass)

Sony
MDR-zx220bt
MDR-zx770bn
MDR-1000X (but expensive)
WH 1000XM2

Sudio
Regent (x2)
Tre (x2)
Sweden

TaoTronics (cheap)

Urban Ears
Platten wireless (x2)

 

I hope that helps you all!

Chewton Glen

Nothing beats a relaxing weekend in the countryside, especially when you get to celebrate it with someone you love! I had the privilege of taking my boyfriend to Chewton Glen, a luxury 5* hotel and spa in the New Forest, Hampshire. Nothing screams romance as much as a break that involves huge rooms, comfy beds, incredible food and an amazing spa.

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As we were only staying for one night, Fiann and I wanted to arrive as early as possible on day 1. We arrived at 3pm and were immediately made to feel welcome. We were given a little tour of the hotel and then were shown straight to our room. I was amazed at the size of the room – it had enough floor space to dance around it (I can confirm) and swing many cats (I didn’t try this one). The bathroom boasted a huge bath, mirrors everywhere and a double shower with four showerheads. We were staying in the croquet lawn room – a midrange room – and I have never stayed in such a plush room. If you want luxury, this is where it’s at. As it was still light and sunny, Fiann and I headed down to the coast, a short and pretty walk away. If you happen to be a surfer, the surf looks amazing! If you’re not, the rest of the beach is beautiful too.

That evening was Fiann’s birthday dinner, so we booked into one of the hotel’s restaurants, The Kitchen, a relatively relaxed restaurant with a seasonally changing menu, where many of the ingredients are grown on site and others are from local suppliers. As it is situated up the drive, we were transported to and from in a cute little van/golf buggy, which was quite sweet. Pros: the food was delicious, and they rustled something up when we asked for things that weren’t on the menu. Cons: as we hadn’t said in advance that we were vegan, we had to go half-vegan, half-vegetarian for the dinner, as the cuisine is classic English countryside – plenty of meats and cheeses. However, what we had was delicious, and I would recommend it to anyone passing by – the restaurant is open to anyone, not only hotel guests! If you let them know in advance, there are vegan options available.

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Our breakfast in the morning was a delicious buffet followed by foods ordered from the kitchen (because is it even a meal if there aren’t two courses). I can’t really fault the food or atmosphere, everything was perfect! One small irritation was that all the sugar cubes were individually wrapped in plastic, which for a hotel hot on local foods, felt a little wrong. I will be feeding this back to them because other than that the whole experience was perfect.

We checked out of our room at 12pm, but were encouraged (with very little resistance from us) to stay and experience the gym and spa. These are both available on a day pass if you don’t have time for the full weekend – there is a big swimming pool and then another room with hot tubs, jets and other fun spa things. There’s a ‘health food’ café as well as a gym and plenty of other spa-y things in each changing room. Despite being relatively busy (it was a Saturday), the spa was big enough for all, and thankfully very quiet in all the relaxation areas. The gym isn’t huge but has much more than most hotel gyms I’ve been to! Would definitely recommend the wellness day passes even if you can’t stay overnight.

Overall I absolutely loved my stay at Chewton Glen. We were made to feel so welcome by all the staff (and there were a lot of them!), and they pulled out all the stops to make it a special weekend for Fiann’s birthday. 100% would recommend for anyone looking for a unique weekend away – there are rooms available for every type of weekend break, and the hotel really thinks of everything for you. They even provided much needed hunter wellies for our walk to the coast. Take a look at the rooms to see how perfect it is for yourself!

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Nb/ The overnight stay was provided free of charge, however as always all views are my own.

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Six reasons to eat plant based

Eating less red meat and focusing on a more plant based diet is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to celebrities, influencers and a better understanding of the benefits of increasing veg protein and reducing red and processed meat. As we have become more educated about the impacts of meat on the environment and the ethics of meat consumption, food providers have followed suit, providing more and more options for those opting for a plant based diet.

This blog post was written in collaboration with Tesco, but as always all opinions are my own. Check out their new Wicked Kitchen range, a collaboration with plant chef Derek Sarno. The range uses plants in a variety of ways, making all the meals taste amazing (trust me, I’ve tried them!) but without the negative effects of meats. Gone are the days of weird-tasting fake meats – this is a real deal. They’re also super convenient, which means that at the end of a long day of work, they’re quick to stick in the oven or on the hob so you can get eating asap. I am unbelievably impressed with the range, and would recommend it to anyone, not just people who are already vegetarian or vegan! If you’ve been considering lowering your meat and dairy consumption for some while, there’s no better time to do it. Here are a few reasons why you should just go for it!

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It’s good for your health

Increasing the proportion of the diet that is made up of wholefoods such as fruit and vegetables can only improve your health. Multiple studies have also shown significant improvements in health outcomes for those with heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, diseases that have exploded in frequency over the last few decades. Red meats, especially those that have been heavily processed, have been liked closely with increased rates of these diseases, and decreasing the amount you eat can only have positive impacts on your health. It is now possible to replace meats with vegan products that have the same flavours but none of the negative impacts, so why not try some vegan alternatives, such as those found in the Wicked kitchen range?

It saves you money

People often complain that eating vegan is more expensive than eating meat, but if you are simply replacing the most expensive part of the diet with more vegetables, grains and pulses, it ends up significantly cheaper than an omnivorous diet. Specialist products such as tofu and meat replacements can sometimes be relatively expensive but are almost always cheaper than meats. Brands such as Tesco have started providing ready meals that are no more expensive than their meat counterparts, meaning that even convenience foods are as cheap or cheaper than the animal product equivalent.

It’s one of the best things you can do to save the planet

There is irrefutable evidence to show that red meat, especially products that come from cattle, have a significant impact on the environment. The livestock industry consumes about 8% of the world’s water, depriving those areas that most need it (Schlink et al., 2010). Whilst it takes 2400 gallons of water to make 1lb of meat, 1lb of wheat can be grown with just 155 gallons of water. Without going into too much depth, using meat for food is less efficient in just about every way, using more land, water, fuel, and using 60% of all the human grade grain grown in the world. By products of the meat industry include greenhouse gases such as methane, which has 23 times the global warming potential of CO2. Care about the world we live in? Reducing your consumption of animal products (especially meat) will make a huge difference. Vegan alternatives are also more ethically sound – the more we eat plant based, the less suffering there has to be, and that’s something we can all feel good about.

It’s easy to lose weight… but you don’t have to

Whilst weight loss is by no means the most important thing in the world, the low caloric value of plants means that you can have a lot more volume for your calories! This means more food and who can complain about that?.In addition, by pure correlation, vegans have the lowest BMI, vegetarians second lowest, and meat eaters have the highest. Having said that, if you’re not looking to lose weight, it’s plenty easy enough to find high calorie vegan foods, such as nuts and oils, and dishes can be made to incorporate these to fill you up. Veganism isn’t about being hungry – it’s about being satisfied with delicious plant based foods!

It’s no less convenient

When it comes to cooking, we all want foods that are quick and easy to make, and sadly that often forces us to go for choices we’ve made 100 times before, often incorporating meat as a centrepiece to a meal, just because it’s ‘easy’. However, more and more people are demanding plant-based products that are just as easy to make as meat ones. With a higher demand comes higher supply. Conscientious and influential brands such as Tesco are incorporating more and more vegan foods into their takeaway sections, allowing people to opt for nutritious and delicious vegan foods that are just as convenient to pick up as any other food. Convenience is often cited as a reason for people eating meat, but this reason is becoming less and less relevant. You’d be surprised what you can find!

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing

A lot of people are put off the idea of becoming vegan or even vegetarian because of the idea that they have to give up everything they love, or it’s not worth doing. It’s this kind of ‘all or nothing’ attitude that put me off for years, but in reality, every little change helps. If you are vegetarian, try having a couple of vegan days a week, or just reduce dairy consumption if you really love eggs. The chances are that over time, you’ll find that you don’t crave animal products anymore! Products from the Wicked Kitchen range can help you make that transition far easier, swapping out meat products for plant products used in a creative way, meaning you won’t miss meat at all.

 

There is really no reason not to try eating more conscientiously by reducing the amount of animal products you consume. It is often habit that allows us to continue doing things that aren’t in our best interest, but all it takes is a decision to make a change and half the battle is already done. Whatever your reason, there has been no easier time to start eating plant based, so why not give it a try?

I’d love to hear of your experiences with veganuary or your journey to eating less meat – feel free to send me a message on instagram or comment below.

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This dairy-free caponata pizza has to be one of my favourites from the range!

How to avoid a plateau

Are you going to the gym a lot, eating a healthy diet and still find yourself unable to tone up? Maybe you made a bunch of progress early on, but now it’s just not happening. This is called plateauing, when you’re putting in the same amount of effort before but just not making the progress. It can be caused by a number of factors, individually or combined, and is often the cause of people losing motivation in the gym.

Here are a few of the ways you can avoid for plateauing, or kick-start progress again. Of course, everyone is different, so it’s worth taking a long, hard look at your training plan to see why your progress isn’t what you hoped.

 

Progressive overload

Progressive overload is the technique of making your workouts harder each session. If you’re lifting weights this means instead of doing 12 reps of 50kg squats every week, you increase the weight you’re squatting by a small amount every session. Obviously this can’t continue forever, but it ensures your body doesn’t get used to the same session without growth. Workouts have to be challenging to encourage growth, and once your body adapts, they are no longer encouraging the progress you’re looking for. If you’re a runner doing intervals (just as another example), reduce rest time between intervals, or increase the speed at which you aim to do each interval. The best way to ensure constant overload is to track your workouts closely – if you’re serious about progress, record your lifts/time each session and aim to improve on this. The number of girls with notepads in the gym recording their sessions now a) makes me very happy and b) shows me that they are taking their fitness and progress very seriously.

 

Variety

For similar reasons as above, if you’re doing the same workouts day in day out, your body is going to get used to it and stop developing. After a while doing the same thing will do nothing to change your physique, and can cause burnout. Why not try cross training – incorporating other workouts into your routine – to kick-start progress again? If you’re into lifting weights, try some form of cardio (trust me, you just need to find the right one!), or join classes at your gym for new exercises. If you lift light, lift heavy (with fewer reps). If you lift heavy, try lifting lighter but more reps. Hell, try reformer pilates – if you’re used to being strong, this will definitely give you something to work on! The idea is just to mix it up. It’ll likely restart progress, stop you getting bored and reduce the chance of injury too! It’s a win win (win). Read why cross training is so important here.

 

Rest

Have you been steadily increasing the number of hours you exercise for per week in an attempt to continue your progress? When progress slows it can be tempting to eat into your rest days, chasing progress. However, this can actually harm your progress. Not giving your body enough time to rest can prevent muscle fibres from rebuilding after sessions, and cuase the sort of fatigue that’ll mean you can’t workout as hard as you could before. So instead of working out 4h a week really hard, you end up doing 7h of half-arsed work, exhausting yourself in the process. In this way, rest can improve your progress if you’re trying to kill it in the gym day in day out. In addition, the stress of working out everyday when you’re not ready for it can increase levels of the hormone cortisol (the stress hormone), causing water retention, cravings and a widening waistline. The number of rest days you should take totally depends on your body, your training style, your goals and other factors in your life (sleep/work!), but take a read of my post on rest days to try to figure it out.

 

Fuel

If you’re trying to make quick changes to your body it can be really (really) tempting to reduce your calories as low as possible. However, the lower your calories, the lower your calorie burn. This is not to say that we should all be stuffing our faces, but for some reason people often equate health to eating as few calories a day as possible, and really that can be very counterproductive. I started my fitness journey on a very unhealthy diet of between 800 and 1200 calories a day, thinking that everything I ate had to be burned off. Sure, I was fit, but my body wasn’t nearly as toned or strong as it is now. The lack of food also caused me to crash half way through workouts, meaning that I was working far less than I could have been, and burning fewer calories in the mean time. My fitness and physique didn’t progress until I doubled my calories – I now eat between 2200 and 3000 calories a day, approximately, which fuels even the heaviest of my sessions, and provides my muscles with plenty of building blocks for growth after I workout. If you’re into calorie counting, that’s fine, but if you can eat intuitively to give your body everything it needs, even better. If you listen to your body you’ll be able to tell if you’re eating enough. The chances are, a lot of you probably aren’t!

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One thing to make sure is that your goals are realistic – when you first get into exercise you tend to make much more progress than later on, especially if you were overweight or unfit to begin with. This progress can’t continue forever, and sometimes plateauing is a sign of your body getting to its ‘happy place’ in regards to muscle mass and fitness levels. Don’t be disheartened when your progress slows. If you’ve followed all the steps above, there’s a chance your body is content with where it is, and there’s not much you can do to change that (healthily). Have you experienced plateaus in training? How did you resolve it? Comment on my Instagram and have a look round here for more health and fitness tips.

This post was originally written for Xen-do martial arts

Where to visit in Copenhagen

If you know me or follow me, you’ll know that I’m queen of long weekends away – a short flight or drive to a cute hotel somewhere I’ve not been is all I need to refresh and reset entirely! My most recent escapade was to the city of Copenhagen in Denmark. My boyfriend was working out there the week previously, so I jetted off after work on Friday to join him. Copenhagen lends itself perfectly to long weekends away, because it is small, nearby and doesn’t contain 6 million tourist traps you feel obliged to see. It’s cute, friendly and oh so Instagram!

 

If you’re lazy and ‘just want the bloody recommendations’, scroll down to TL;DR 🙂

 

Saturday
On Saturday we decided to walk half way across Copenhagen to Østerbro, located to the north of the city centre. It as a 45 minute walk (very doable if you’re looking to build an appetite!), and from the city centre could take you via a bunch of city parks and Torvehallerne, a cute market between the parks. We travelled via the botanic garden, which was a lovely tropical respite from the cold. It’s free to get in and if you like plants (who doesn’t?), it’s beautiful. In Østerbro we headed to Souls, a restaurant that was recommended to me by multiple people. It’s relatively new but is clearly doing well – apparently it’s absolutely packed all day everyday. After trying the food I could see why – it was absolutely incredible! The restaurant is plant based but doesn’t sell itself like that. It’s just really good food in a really lovely restaurant (aesthetic goals!). 10/10 would recommend. On our way back to the city centre we managed to miss the little mermaid statue (basically the main reason tourists visit Østerbro), which was slightly disappointing, but then again, apparently so is the statue. Instead, we headed to the Art museum for a little look around, and saw Rosenborg castle. I can imagine the gardens surrounding them would be lovely for picnics in summer, but as it was, it was a little too cold for a sit on the grass! After much walking we were super hungry for dinner, so after a visit to the hotel spa, we headed to a Thai restaurant called Baan Thai Isarn just around the corner from the hotel. I am SO happy we found it – I have to say it was the best thai food I’ve eaten since being in Thailand, and really generous portion sizes too!

Sunday
We walked to Christianshavn via Nyhavn docks – pretty, quite touristy but well worth a visit. Christianshavn is located on lots of different islands, giving it quite a nautical feel. It was pretty much empty when we went there but there were some nice looking cafes – it looks like it might once have been pretty run down, but was kinda bohemian and gentrified in a lot of the areas. We found the Church of Our Saviour, which has a cool spiral spire. We went down to Christiania (recommended by some, told to avoid by others) and had a little wonder around. Christiania is the hippy ‘freetown’, where the inhabitants live free of the constraints of Danish government. Drugs are unofficially ‘allowed’ here, and it’s got a bit of a reputation as an unsafe place, but during the daytime it seemed fine! Lots of cool homemade houses, bicycles and greenery – would recommend a little visit if you’re passing by. After Christiania we went back city centre way (pilestræde), heading for lunch at 42 Raw. This restaurant has three stores around the city, but has a trendy independent vibe to it. It’s not cheap (but where is in Copenhagen?), and has some truly delicious vegan food, without being too hippy raw style. It doesn’t seem faddy, just has lots of great food and is filled with a ridiculous number of young, good-looking people! Again, would recommend if you’re looking for good healthy food, but don’t forget to book – this also gets incredibly busy (testament to how good it is). There are lots of places to eat around this area/Strøget (the main pedestrian shopping street) if you have a look around.

Vækst hosted us for dinner, and treated us each to a full set menu (we forwent our veganism for one night to try their vegetarian and fish menus), paired with a wine per course. I have to say, Michelin stars seem to mean nothing once you’ve been here – it was absolutely on par with the best restaurants I’ve been to, and the service was incredible too. Really friendly staff makes the difference between a stuck up restaurant and an excellent one. This was definitely the latter!

Monday
After a pretty large breakfast, Fiann and I headed to the north to fælledparken in Nørrebro, the largest park in Copenhagen. Apparently in the summer it’s super popular, but we only saw a few walkers in the cold! It’s very pretty regardless. We headed via the lakes back down to Grød (groed), a famous porridge bar in the Torvenhallern market we passed on the first day. It’s kind of like a more upmarket Spitalfield’s market (and much warmer as it’s in a glass building and heated). The porridge options were so good, and perfect after a cold walk! I was recommended Grød by just about everyone who has been here, so it was nice that it lived up to expectations.

Monday was a relaxed day – with the icy weather and large amount of porridge in our bellies, we didn’t fancy staying out for too long, so instead headed to the hotel for a spa afternoon, followed by a quick visit to the prohibition bar Ruby and then dinner in the room. Very conveniently there is the Tivoli food hall just around the corner from the restaurant. The food hall itself contains lots of different restaurants, but most of them didn’t serve vegan foods. One that did, however, was Gló, a new restaurant to Copenhagen that was founded in Iceland. We got takeaway ‘salads’ (huge bowls of deliciousness with added vegan ‘meat’ from oumph – if you haven’t tried this yet you really need to!).

Tuesday
As Tuesday was our last day we loaded up on the delicious breakfast buffet before heading out for a long walk to explore any unknown corners of Copenhagen. It turns out it’s really not that big – to get anywhere you want to go as a tourist it’s really only going to be 1h maximum to walk, although I can see why people cycle too. There are bike paths everywhere and unlike the other great cycling city, Bristol, it’s totally flat.

We ended up meeting my cousin for lunch at falafel factory, a small chain selling delicious falafel sandwiches and platters. My cousin, having previously lived in Edinburgh, was able to give us plenty of insight into what it was like to move to Copenhagen for an English person. She’s only been there for 6 months, but to be honest, all it took was 4 days for me to consider living there!

 

TL;DR

Restaurants/cafes:
Souls – One of the most aesthetic restaurants, with a huge focus on sustainability and conscious eating. It has an Australian vibe (perhaps no surprising when you realise the owner is in fact Australian), mixed in with the classic Danish ‘hygge’. Not cheap, but full of flavour. It’s not just another ‘trendy vegan place’, it actually serves fantastic food.

Baan Thai Isarn – I knew nothing about this restaurant before heading out on the hunt for dinner, but I’m so glad I found it! It’s almost certainly not fully vegan, but we were able to find plenty of delicious vegetarian dishes. If you’re in the area, grab one of their red curries (basically a green curry but red). The portion sizes are big enough to have more for lunch the next day too!

42 Raw – This café has three stores around Copenhagen and seems to always be packed. It sells completely plant based foods, as well as catering to other intolerances too (dairy, coeliac). I loved the veggie burger, but also think their sandwiches are probably underrated – Fiann’s was incredible! Get the sweet potato fries with aioli.

Väkst – Whilst not completely vegetarian, Väkst bases all its dishes on local Nordic vegetables, meaning I was drawn to it straight away. Their evening menu is done in a way that I’ve only ever seen at Michelin starred restaurants. The flavours blend together amazingly, and the wine pairings are perfect! If you’re looking for somewhere a little special this is the place. Also note the incredible greenhouse and plants (read: v instagrammable).

Grød – Think porridge is boring? Think again. Grød is a porridge bar that provides delicious flavour combinations and ‘make your own’ porridge bowls. It also serves other breakfast dishes, such as chia pudding, as well as savoury risottos etc. If you need a good warming up, this is where it’s at.

Gló – The ethos of Gló is to allow busy people to find healthy, delicious meals on the go. It’s not totally vegetarian or vegan, but provides plenty of options for both, with the main emphasis on the vegetables of a meal. Try their Buddha bowls if you’re looking for something filling but light, or their wraps for on the go goodness.

Naturbageriet – This small and unassuming bakery is so adorable I wanted to take everything home. They sell traditional Danish and Nordic pastries but without dairy and/or gluten. It’s just really cute and the lady who runs it is so sweet. Remember to go before lunch so it’s not all sold out!

 

Hotel
We stayed at Axel Guldsmeden, one of a chain of eco hotels dotted around the world. The main ethos is that they’re sustainable, providing bamboo toothbrushes, non-bleached bathrobes and even recycled loo paper. None of this detracts from the beauty of the place though, with it managing to feel like a fantastic boutique hotel, instead of a chain. The customer service is second to none (although I’m not sure if this is a Danish thing or specific to the hotel!), and we even got upgraded because our bathroom door handle fell off (the one issue we had during our stay). The rooms are like mini apartments, containing four-poster beds as well as a little sitting room and beautiful bathrooms that are unbelievably aesthetic. If you’re not interested in soulless hotels and want something a little different (but still upmarket), this is the place for you! Also check out their Manon les Suites hotel – it’s basically instagram in a hotel.

Things
Little mermaid statue – diminutive and not even got a tail, but it is the most famous statue in Copenhagen (fun story: we walked all the way there, then forgot why we were there and ate brunch instead. Never actually saw the statue so we just googled it instead).

Nyhavn – canal docks with pretty cobbled streets, big wooden boats and colourful houses.

Strøget – A good shopping street, mostly pedestrianised

Parks – Kongenshave, Botaniskhave (botanical gardens), Øster anlæg and Fælledparken are all pretty and worth a visit!

Tivoli – one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. Not that pretty but quite cool to imagine how terrified you’d be on all the rides.

Carlsberg brewery – not something I have much interest in visiting, but Denmark is the home of Carlsberg, so perhaps worth a visit!

Christiania – the ‘freetown’ where lots of the Danish laws don’t exist. Fun fact: you can’t buy a house there, you have to apply and then you might get accepted and given one. It’s strange but actually pretty cool. Go in daylight.

Torvehalle – a great market filled with stalls selling food and drinks.

Round tower, Rosenborg castle, Church of Our Saviour, Amalienborg (the queen’s winter residence).

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Bye bye Copenhagen, we’ll be back!

How to survive blue Monday

The third Monday of January, also known as Blue Monday, has been calculated to be the most depressing day of the year. Cheerful right? Factors such as weather, debt, time since Christmas and, surprise surprise, it’s a time most of us have failed our New Year’s resolution by. I don’t know if I buy into it – in reality the whole of the winter is kind of depressing, but good days and bad days come and go, and we move on!

However, if you’re struggling around this time of year, here are some ways to cheer yourself up. There’s no doubt that the holidays can sometimes leave us drained. Changes in routine can leave us sleep deprived and unmotivated, especially when paired with media messages trying to get us to buy into every fad. Why not try these little things to reset your mind and body, and make Blue Monday into a positive day, instead of the miserable day the media wants us to expect.

 

Take care of your mind

Too little time to ourselves over Christmas can mean we forget to give ourselves a break. The first thing that goes when we are very busy is time alone and time to rest. Try these to get back some of that peace of mind.

Headspace app: Meditation has shown to help people relieve stress, focus mre and sleep better, leaving us better able to cope with everything else in life. The headspace app takes you through meditation. If you’re like me (i.e. hyperactive and constantly distracted), it’s better than an hour’s yoga, because it’s only a few minutes long. Everyone can spare 10 minutes a day!

Dancing: It may sound silly, but putting on some great tracks and having a ridiculously enthusiastic dance around your room can do wonders for your mind. It doesn’t have to be long, just long enough to get your heart rate up and put a smile on your face. We spend so long being serious, this is a nice change of routine.

Colouring in/drawing: Drawing or colouring in relaxes the brain, especially the fear centres of the brain, reducing anxiety and stopping us from focussing on any worries we might have. Grab an adult colouring in book and set aside some time each week to reset your mind to neutral.

Do good: Helping others is an intrinsically rewarding activity, promoting positive emotions in our own brains. It also can add perspective to problems. Doing good also improves optimism, confidence and gives you a feeling of purpose, without which many people struggle. Consider donating to charity, volunteering or simply helping someone out at work.

Get a SAD lamp: One of the major issues in winter in Northern latitudes is that the daylight hours are very short. Too short, in fact, to acquire enough vitamin D during the day. Low levels of vitamin D can contribute to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and this leaves many people feeling low in winter. A SAD lamp has particular frequencies that allows the body to produce more vitamin D. Put it on in the morning to help you wake up, and in early afternoon to reduce afternoon slumps. Check out my post on how to beat the winter blues to learn more.

Social media: Unfollow accounts that make you feel inadequate, jealous or any other negative emotions. Sure, it’s good to aspire to things, but following accounts with unrealistic life goals is never going to make you feel better! Cull cull cull and then find pictures of puppies, great food and positive posts to look at instead. Try not to spend too much time on social media – no more than 2h a day across all platforms. Heavy usage is linked to higher rates of depression.

Tidy up: It’s very tempting, when it’s dark outside, to curl up in bed after throwing all your belongings onto your floordrobe and go to sleep. However, having high levels of clutter at home and at work can mess your mind up too. Need inspiration? Read this.

Stop giving a fuck: It’s fairly self-explanatory, but if you need it breaking down, I can thoroughly recommend this book.

Live in the moment: Worrying about the future, the past and the present is understandably exhausting and stressful for the brain. Living in the moment (using some of the techniques from above) can really help lover anxiety and depression. Another book recommendation: The Power of Now.

 

Take care of your body

Watch what you eat: and by that I don’t mean eat less. I just mean literally be aware of what you are eating. Paying attention to what we eat increases enjoyment and reduces mindless munching on the nearest available snack. In winter we often rely on sugar to power through energy slumps, but this can backfire, leaving us with sugar crashes, lowering both concentration and mood. Be aware of what you’re eating and you might find a pattern to explain your mood throughout the day. Want a holistic guide to nutrition? Check out Rhiannon’s new book!

Take vitamin D: As mentioned above, vitamin D is key to our mental health, but also plays a role in maintaining bone health and immunity. The majority of people in the UK are deficient over winter, so taking some supplements may improve your mood.

Workout: Yes, bed is cosy, and yes, it’s dark so early, but working out in winter is one of the best ways to keep negativity at bay. It gives you routine and a sense of purpose and achievement. If you’re not working out 30 minutes, 3 times a week (at least), this is one of the best things you could do to improve your mind-set. If you’re not a fan of the gym, find a sport you think you’ll enjoy and join a club – the added social interaction gives a double whammy of benefits. However, overdoing it (hello New Year’s resolutions to run 10 miles everyday) may backfire, leaving you exhausted and dreading every workout. Keep a balanced schedule with plenty of rest days so you don’t burn out!

Get plenty of sleep: I’ve gone into this in a bit more detail here, so check it out!

 

I hope you find this helpful – these are some of the things that have helped me over winter in general, and this time of year can be especially hard on some. This advice is sort of always useful, even if you don’t feel particularly down. Check out my instagram for more health and fitness advice.

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Spending some time abroad definitely helps you feel better about winter – even if it’s freezing!

Top vegan cafes in London

I decided to write this post after thinking back to when I first moved back to London after school. 5 years ago vegan options were thought of as hippy, weird and definitely only for vegans. With more choice than ever now, it’s more a decision of where to go, rather than questioning if there’s anything around! I also have to admit that despite taking over a month to write, the research for this post has been most enjoyable. Enjoy!

 

Yorica
I’m a huge fan of dessert, so when I heard about this delicious sounding specifically vegan ice cream shop, I got super excited. Situated on Wardour Street near Oxford Circus, it’s perfect for a quick (or slow) snack. I got the soft serve and Fiann got the ice cream and we were both super happy. Their matcha soft serve is like Mr Whippy, only much healthier and obviously matcha flavoured. You get your choice of toppings too (gluten free), which makes this far superior to most other ice cream places I’ve been to! The staff are also really friendly, which is a bonus. I would definitely recommend popping in if you’re in the area!

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Yorica is must for anyone hanging out near Oxford Circus needing refreshment!

Lu-ma
Visiting this restaurant was well worth the journey to Wimbledon. Having recently won the title of the ‘Best Restaurant in Merton’, I was expecting great things from the food, but what stood out even more was the friendly and passionate atmosphere. I had the privilege of talking to the owner, Maria, over lunch. Lu-ma is a wholefood/vegan/vegetarian café and whilst not purely vegan, it is quite clear that sustainability is at the heart of the business (for example all the takeaway containers/cutlery are vegware, so compostable). This café also caters to other dietary requirements, such as coeliac, but thankfully doesn’t have the snobby, exclusive vibe that a lot of these places have. 10/10 would recommend.

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I’ve not been into such a friendly cafe as Lu-ma in a long time!

Tibits
Tibits is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant serving healthy meals (both eat in and takeaway). You pay by weight so portion sizes can be changed to suit you. The ingredients are locally sourced (where possible) making it pretty ethical. They also do fully vegan Tuesdays too, which I think is a great follow-on from meat free Monday. Come here for a sit down meal or takeaway – it’s all good!

Deliciously Ella
My boyfriend and I visited deliciously Ella for a weekend brunch after a long walk in the park (it’s conveniently situated next to Hyde Park, right next to Marble Arch. We arrived in time for the breakfast menu (they change at midday for lunch) but naturally tried all the snacks as brunch dessert (is this a thing?). My first impression was that everyone in there is French, so obviously the food has to be good! Whilst the range of breakfast options were not vast, from what I tried, EVERYTHING is good. If you’re a fan of healthy vegan (and gluten and refined sugar free) foods, this is the place for you. Whilst not exactly cheap, it’s also not crazily expensive for the quality of ingredients being used. I also 100% recommend it for the variety of the drinks – their homemade cashewnut chocolate milk is a dream.

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Deliciously Ella’s dishes make you realise why she’s so globally successful

EZ & Moss
Ez and Moss, a vegetarian and vegan cafe on Holloway Road, caters for meat lovers and vegans alike, with a regularly changing menu and excellent coffee. Expect vegan burgers and instagrammable brunch items. It’s won a few awards too, making it all the more appealing to those who may be a little apprehensive of having a meal without a centrepiece of meat.

Buhler & Co
Buhler & Co isn’t 100% vegan, but everything is vegetarian with a lot of options for vegans (most of the veggie food can also be made vegan). Ingredients are locally sourced too, which is great for environmentally-focused individuals. Other intolerances are well served here too, with gluten free options available.

Mooshies
The mooshie website says it aims to create ‘healthy fast food’, using real, vegan ingredients to create food that tastes great, but is also a little healthier for both you and the environment. The cafe is in just the location you’d expect to find a vegan burger cafe – Brick Lane of course! I would thoroughly recommend this restaurant if you enjoy unhealthy tasting food that is also environmentally sound. Love love loved it and will 100% be returning to try the other burgers!

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What the Pitta
You know that delicious tasting hangover food? Now imagine it’s good for you. This is sort of along the lines of what the pitta food, serving huge (HUGE) wraps and vegan kebabs. I’ve heard that even advocates of the classic very meaty kebab give this one 5*, so it’s definitely worth a shot. Staff are friendly too – the whole vibe is great.

The Vurger
I went to the Vurger’s popup in Spitalfields market on a cold winter’s day, and helped myself to two of their burgers (I couldn’t decide which I wanted) and some sweet potato fries. This burger tastes healthier than lots of vegan burgers I’ve had before, using the sort of ingredients I would use if I was to make one at home. If you’re a fan of great tasting plant-based food that isn’t actually unhealthy, then this is the one for you. 

Ethos
Situated pretty centrally near Oxford Circus, Ethos is a restaurant that got me interested in vegan food really early. Everything in the restaurant is vegetarian, and most things vegan too. You pay by weight, which can get expensive (a huge plate worth could cost £15 or so, but that’s usually too much for lunch). However, it’s well worth it for the food, with dishes from lots of different cuisines known for having good veggie food. The sit-down part (you can get takeaway) is also supremely instagrammable, so if you’re into that, this one is for you.

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Ethos’ very instagrammable interior ft salad bowls and marble tables

Moorish cafe deli
Tucked away near King’s Cross, Moreish cafe deli is fairly unassuming from the outside, but once you try their food you’ll be converted. It’s not all vegan, but I had to include it because of the homemade vegan ice cream. It tastes just like ‘real’ ice cream, but is made using homemade ingredients without preservatives etc. The enthusiasm of the shop owner (and ice cream maker) for good, healthy, affordable food is so great that you’ll want to keep coming back here when you’re nearby!

 

I hope this helps all of you on Veganuary and especially those of you looking to make this a longer term arrangement. I would love to hear about your favourite vegan and vegetarian restaurants and cafes too! Let me know on my instagram or in the comments below.

Almond biscotti

These little biscuits are something you should always have in your cupboards at home or desk at work. They’re small, satisfying and healthy, and go perfectly with a cup of coffee for mid-morning slumps. The almonds make them filling, while the slow-release carbohydrates mean you also get energy. Most importantly though, they taste great (and are suitable for vegans)!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups flour of choice
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (muscovado works well)
  • 1/2 cup dates chopped (approx 10-15)
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar (or honey)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2tsp almond essence

 

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients
  • In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients slowly, mixing with a wooden spoon as you go
  • The mixture should become very hard to mix.
  • Form a ball with the mixture. It should stick together easily. If it cracks, add a little more water. If it is too gloopy, add a little more flour.
  • On a floured surface, roll the mixture out into one or two long sausages.
  • Flatten the sausages slightly and scour diagonal cur marks into the tops with a serrated knife (to cut through the almonds). Do not cut all the way to the base.
  • Cook the sausages on a tray for 20-30 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Cut the sausage into individual biscuits and lay flay on a tray. Cook for another 20 minutes until browning and hard.
  • Let cool and enjoy!
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Scour the sausages diagonally so they look a bit like French baguettes

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Enjoy with a delicious cup of coffee!