Flapjack

I didn’t know what to call this recipe because ‘flapjack’ doesn’t really do it justice. It’s reduced sugar (because I find syrupy flapjacks almost unbearable) and vegan, and also is more nutrient dense than ‘normal’ flapjacks, thanks to the addition of prunes and seeds and the use of unrefined sugar rather than golden syrup. It’s slightly crumblier than most flapjack recipes but I’m working to fix this. Either way, it tastes bloody good!

Let me know if you make it and I can share on my instagram.

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Ingredients:

  • 250g oats
  • 3tbsp linseeds/seeds of choice
  • 1 heaped tbsp flour of choice
  • 100g vegan butter (I used vegan Flora for this)
  • 25ml oil
  • 50g dark brown demerara/muscovado sugar
  • 3tbsp honey/syrup
  • 5-8 prunes, chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp peanut/almond butter

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade
  2. Put the oats, flour and linseeds in a large mixing bowl
  3. In a saucepan, heat the butter and oil until melted
  4. Add the honey and sugar and mix in the peanut butter. You may need to remove some of the lumps
  5. Add the chopped prunes and mix, before pouring into the mixing bowl with the oats
  6. Place in a small dish lined with baking parchment and pack down hard (I do this with the back of a metal spoon)
  7. Cook for 30 minutes until browning at the edges
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Perfect with a nice cup of coffee

Miso quinoa buddha bowl

This recipe is the perfect dinner for two, including carbs, plenty of veg and protein. Double or quadruple the recipe and you have some great lunches throughout the week, as this tastes just as good cold. These flavours taste amazing together but equally, if you have leftovers lying around just chuck them in – that’s the amazing thing about grain bowls.

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SUCH YUM

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 pakchoi
  • 250g cooked quinoa (approx 80g uncooked)
  • 150g cabbage
  • 1/2 large avocado
  • 1/2 block tofu or tempeh
  • Paprika
  • Chilli powder

Dressing

  • 5tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp soya sauce
  • 1tsp miso paste
  • 1tsp ginger paste/lazy ginger

Method:

  1. Head the oven to 60 degrees (to keep the ingredients warm)
  2. Start by cooking the chickpeas. Pour a drizzle of sesame oil in a non stick pan and add the drained chickpeas
  3. Sprinkle on the spices and toss. Cook until browning (about 5 minutes)
  4. Pour into a bowl and keep warm in the oven (at 60 degrees)
  5. Quarter the pak choi lengthways and place in the frying pan with more sesame oil
  6. Cook for around 3 minutes on each side, until browned and soft. Place in the oven to keep warm.
  7. Dice the cabbage and cook in the frying pan with a dash of sesame oil
  8. While the cabbage is cooking, cook the quinoa. If it is the ready-cooked quinoa this should take just a few minutes
  9. Fry the tofu/tempeh in a pan whilst the cabbage and quinoa is cooking
  10. Dice the avocado half
  11. Make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients with a fork
  12. Make up the buddha bowls by placing in all the ingredients into 2 bowls/plates and pour on the dressing

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Oat milk

This oat milk recipe was found by my boyfriend and developed by me, so it is very personalised to my tastes. It is amazing in coffee but would also work well with breakfast cereal – why not try it with my granola? Save the oat mixture left over at the end to eat for breakfast – it tastes just like overnight oats and is wonderfully creamy 🙂

If you’d like a less creamy oat milk, simply increase the amount of water you add to the blender. Similarly, if you’d like more of a cream texture, just decrease the amount of water. Enjoy!

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Makes around 600-700ml oat milk

Ingredients:

  • 200g Oats
  • Water
  • Optional: Vanilla essence/sweetener to taste (dates work well if you soak and blend them with the oats)

Method:

  1. Soak the oats in excess water (totally cover them and add some extra)
  2. Leave for 20 minutes to soak
  3. Drain through a sieve and rinse with cold water
  4. Place the oats in a blender with about 300ml water*
  5. Blend until for about 4 minutes on full power
  6. Strain through a sieve into a jug (it may help to move it around with a spoon to get most of the liquid out)
  7. Pour into a glass bottle and store in the fridge (lasts for around 5 days).

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Supplements – what, why and how?

I’ve been asked so many times what I think about X supplement and approached by brands to promote new bizarre sounding pills claiming to solve all your training problems. Whilst some of them may have tentative supporting evidence, a lot don’t. I know the supplements market is a total minefield, so here are some of the most popular supplements out there, and evidence for and against them. Obviously research is always coming out saying X, Y or Z – I’ve included a lot of reviews and meta analyses to try to get a balanced view of the literature but always think critically about what people are trying to sell you. Just remember: there’s no magic pill that’ll suddenly make you fit or give you the perfect abs. Training is hard whatever supplements you take, and quite often it’s worth spending the £50 you spend on supplements on a personal training session or a few books on nutrition. Knowledge is power (literally in this case!).

 

Protein

Our muscles are made up of protein fibres, some of which are broken down and rebuilt each time we exercise. Protein supplements/shakes claim to enhance recovery of muscles and aid growth, thereby improving performance. However, the level of conflicting information (and the price of a lot of the supplements) warrants a closer look at the evidence of their efficacy.

The evidence: Looking at muscle recovery time, muscle soreness and muscle growth, the data are inconclusive. Some meta-analyses state that here’s no evidence to suggest that muscle recovery is faster when someone consumes protein before, after or during a workout. However, a lot of the studies looked at small sample sizes, and measures of ‘muscle soreness’ and recovery are often hard to quantify. There is, however, fairly strong evidence to suggest that people in a calorie deficit may benefit from taking protein supplements, and that protein can reduce muscle catabolism (break down) following a workout. Verdict: if you’re looking to build muscle and/or are in a calorie deficit, protein may help you out. However, if you’re looking to reduce DOMS or decrease recovery time, the jury is out on whether protein can help. Because of the mixed evidence, it may be worth trying it out, especially if you’re vegan or struggling to fit in enough protein in your diet and wanting to train hard. Find what works for you!

 

BCAAs

BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids are amino acids with side chains. There are three types: leucine, isoleucine and valine. The supplements are sold to increase protein synthesis, purportedly increasing muscle mass (even while in a calorie deficit) when paired with the right training. When taken regularly, supplementation may decrease fatigue during exercise by reducing the increase in serotonin during exercise, which contributes to fatigue.

The evidence: BCAAs are one of the most heavily studied supplements on the market. In terms of exercise (there are many other uses of BCAA supplementation), there are two main factors looked at: increased exercise performance and reduced muscle breakdown. The former has much mixed evidence, mostly suggesting that BCAAs are unlikely to significantly improve exercise performance. The latter, however, has much more evidence supporting it. Multiple studies show that supplementation before and after exercise reduce muscle breakdown after strenuous exercise, reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

 

Creatine

Creatine is produced naturally in the body and stored predominantly in skeletal muscle. However, it is also sold as a supplement and marketed as helping to improve energy production for short duration, high intensity exercises. Theoretically, it is used by the body as a substrate to form ATP (the little packets of energy our body uses), and therefore supplementing with it means more ATP (energy) can be produced.

The evidence: Creatine is one of the more sound supplements on the market. According to one review paper, creatine is the most effective supplement to increase high-energy exercise capacity and muscle mass during training. As it turns out, of the 500 peer-reviewed papers looking into the effects of creatine, 70% concluded that it benefitted high intensity performance. However, when looking at more endurance exercises, the evidence is inconclusive, showing that if you want something for long-distance running, you should probably look elsewhere.

Nb/ There have been concerns that creatine supplementation may alter liver and kidney function, so if you have underlying conditions, creatine use should be avoided. In general though, it seems to be relatively safe!

 

Beta-alanine

Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is used by athletes to improve performance. Purported benefits include improving exercise capacity, building lean muscle mass and improving physical functions in the elderly.

The evidence: This supplement definitely shows some clear evidence that it can improve performance by reducing fatigue, thus making building muscle easier for those who take it. The benefits are seen most clearly in high intensity activities lasting 60s to 300s. However, the side effects are not widely studied but commonly experienced. If you’ve ever taken beta alanine you’ll probably be aware of the tingly feeling you can get, which is unpleasant at best. Few studies if any have looked into the safety of this supplement, and whilst it appears safe at recommended doses, take it at your own risk.

 

Electrolytes

When we exercise we sweat, losing salts as well as water. Salts are important for our muscles to function properly and too few of them cause the body to cramp up. If you’re into endurance exercise or workout in hot places, chances are you’ve considered taking electrolytes. Electrolytes help replenish the salts lost when we sweat, thus keeping our muscles working properly, and are provided in a way that doesn’t give our body too much of any one type of salt (e.g. sodium). Supplementation aims to reduce heat stress, muscle cramps and aid rehydration.

The evidence: electrolyte supplementation has been shown to reduce cramping caused by electrolyte loss (lots of sweating), but cramping can still occur due to other factors. It reduces heat stress, so if you’re working out hard in a hot country (e.g. racing or competing abroad) this may be something to consider. If you’re not working out in extreme heat for extended periods of time, electrolytes are probably not required for your everyday training schedule.

 

I hope this helps clarify some things for you!

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Choosing supplements to aid your workouts can be a minefield

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 self raising 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
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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!

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!

Beetroot hummus

This dip is a great variation on the classic hummus, and a great vegan side with pitta bread to share. It’s one of the easiest recipes to make and requires basically no input! All you need is a blender, the ingredients and 5 minutes. Simple!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 1-2 cooked beetroots (if you buy the ready cooked ones, make sure they’re not preserved in vinegar)
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini (optional)
  • Pinch of salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Add to a food processor or use a hand blender to blend until desired consistency. Easy!

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New Years resolution ideas

I have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions – on the one hand, we should be being the person we want to be year round, and any day is a great day to make a positive change. On the other hand, it seems that the idea of the New Year can encourage people to make changes they’ve been waiting to make for a while.

However, when you look at the statistics the results aren’t promising – 40% to 45% of people in the US make New Year’s resolution, yet only 8% of people stick to them for the first month. The most common resolution is to lose weight, but instead of taking things away from your life, why not add something in? Take a look at these slightly different New Year resolution ideas. The goal here is happiness gained, not pounds lost, and the chances are, once you find that you’re enjoying the changes, you’ll be part of the 8% that stick to their resolutions!

 

Social media
Social media free times
– whilst eating, before bed, or any other time when being on your phone may distract from your enjoyment or achievement of something, put it away. This is a good exercise in discipline – we’re all so used to being able to reach for our phones every two minutes that we end up distracting ourselves throughout the day. Putting your phone down for certain parts of the day can improve concentration, productivity and enjoyment of whatever activity you’re doing!

Be more true to yourself. Everyone knows instagram is a highlight reel, which has an effect both on yourself (pressure to produce ‘perfect’ content) and others (comparing their real life to your ‘perfect’ instagram one). Changing my instagram to reflect real life as much as picture perfect life has helped me reduce pressure on myself and hopefully others too. Why not show a bit more of your personality on your facebook/twitter/IG as well as the highlights?

 

Mindfulness
Write 5 things you’re grateful for at the end of everyday for a month (or longer). This has been proven to increase positivity by changing your mindset from picking out the negatives in a situation to searching for the positives. It takes time but is an amazing exercise to do!

Learn something new each week by podcasting. Try to listen to one podcast a week. See my podcast recommendations here!

Call your friends/parents more. Everyone knows they should do this but actually doing it is a different matter! Stick in some headphones and call a loved one whilst on a walk. It’ll make their day and you’re getting the benefits of a walk too.

 

Health
Drink more water
. Water increases energy levels, improves your skin, flushes out toxins and ensures you remain hydrated, which is important for all your bodily functions.

Give up caffeine. Caffeine in itself is not bad for you (up to a point), but reliance on a morning coffee can have effects on our mental state (not to mention that it’s expensive). Try giving it up or limiting your intake. You’d be surprised at the difference it can make!

 

Environment
Go vegetarian/vegan
. Cutting out meat (and dairy products) can have positive effects on your health, the environment and your wallet. Red meat is by far the worst, so even if you don’t want to go full vegan, consider cutting out all red meat/meat/meat and fish/meat, fish and dairy. Any change is a positive change, and you’ll likely to find that there are a lot of amazing recipes out there that don’t require harm to the the world. Read my reasons for being vegetarian (ex-pescetarian).

Quit single-use plastics. That coffee cup you pick up on your way to work? That’s not recyclable. The plastic bag you use to take your shopping home in? That’ll not break down for up to 1000 years. Consider reusing any plastic you already have (water bottles, bags etc.) and give up buying any more over January. It’s a fun challenge and will make you more aware of how much you can do to help the environment.

 

Work
Stop procrastinating
. Whilst procrastination can have some positive effects (reduced stress, displacement activities etc.), we undoubtedly have times where things don’t get done because of procrastination. There are two easy ways to stop this happening.

  • 2 minute rule – if something is going to take 2 minutes or less, do it now. Washing up that pan, replying to an email, putting on a wash – these things aren’t difficult or time consuming, but for some reason we like to put them off. Over January (at least), try implementing the 2 minute rule.
  • To do lists. Become a pro at writing to do lists (by hand!). Writing them correctly will break down big tasks and make them much more achievable.

 

Take breaks from your desk at uni/work. Despite the majority of employers allowing hour lunch breaks, only 45% of employees regularly take any breaks at all. However, taking regular short breaks and getting out at lunchtime can improve productivity and overall happiness at work. The top 10% most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in, so this may be worth a shot.

 

I hope you found these ideas useful. I’d be interested to hear of any other resolutions you might have! Let me know on my instagram.

 

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Happy New Year everyone!