Scarily Good Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff 

So this is a super quick post but I just had to share the recipe for the vegan mushroom stroganoff I just made. It was really tasty and so quick! 

Ingredients 

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 cloves of garlic

paprika

1 finely chopped onion

1 packet of shiitake mushrooms (if not available use any mushrooms)

1/2 packet of white mushrooms

1/2 a veggie stock cube

1 teaspoon of Bisto granules 

1 dash of soy sauce

3 tablespoons of soya cream

10 chopped black olives

Rice to serve

Method

Fry onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft.

Chop then add mushrooms and fry with paprika for 5 minutes on a high heat.

 
Add stock cube, gravy and soy sauce to 50ml of boiling water, stir until dissolved then add to pan. 

  
Heat until desired consistency

Take off heat and add soya cream and olives

  
Stir until thourghly mixed

 
Serve with rice. 

 

As you can probably see I actually served it with vegan gnocchi this evening because I couldn’t be bothered to wait for rice to cook, this was amazing but traditionally it’s served with rice. 

Advertisements

Ten Tips for Newbie Vegans

I have failed at being vegan or veggie more  times than I can shake a stick at. It’s taken me over 28 years to find a balance that suits me, and to find a way to make it work where I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Some people can just go cold turkey overnight but most people might have a few false starts before getting into the groove. Whether you are wanting to go full vegan, veggie, thinking about cutting down on animal products, or are just curious about the lifestyle, well done, every little helps.

Here is a list of life-hacks that might make the transition run smoothly for you 🙂

  1. Buy a slow cooker. I am not able to emphasis this point enough, this will make so much difference to your life and your efforts. When you come home tired after a day at work this is when you’re most likely to get a takeaway, or find yourself with your head in the cheese fridge at the co-op, if you know you have a hot, delicious tasty meal waiting for you this is much less likely to happen. I’m a great believer in making your life easy for yourself, the easier you can make being vegan the more likely you are to stick with it. There are many tasty, quick and healthy dishes that you can whip up in your slow cooker so you’ll never have to worry about dinner again.
  2. Superdrug’s own brand is cruelty free and mostly vegan. One thing that put me into overwhelm when I first started thinking about being vegan was cosmetics and bathroom items. I knew I didn’t want to use products that tested on animals but the deeper you dug the more difficult it seemed to be to avoid this. You can buy specialist products but they seemed to come with a hefty price tag, and it meant buying all my products from different places. Then I found out about Superdrug and it made my life so much easier. Toothpaste, mouthwash, hair dye, baby-wipes, body lotion, everything you can think of, all at reasonable prices, all with the bunny logo and clearly marked if vegan. They even do their own make up range, which is surprisingly good.
  3. Know what’s important to you. Being honest with yourself will go a long way. About 2 years ago I decided that I wanted to stop using any cosmetics that were tested on animals and this included hair products. I bought a shampoo and conditioner from Holland and Barretts and threw out all my expensive hair products. I went completely cold turkey and my hair went frizzy and dry, I saw a picture of myself and it really upset me. I didn’t want it to, I wanted to be above such shallow things but I hated my hair being in (what I thought to be) bad condition so much that it drove me straight back to my Loreal Professional shampoo. This time I did a bit of research and found Paul Mitchell, his salon range of hair care is not only completely cruelty free but also mostly vegan too. It’s more expensive than the Holland and Barrett stuff but I think it’s more than worth it as I will stick with it. Your thing might not be your hair, it might be burgers or beautiful shoes, whatever it is you need to do your research and get a viable alternative that will make you happy.
  4. Meat/dairy substituts are not substitutes they are replacements. Vegan cheese does not taste like cheese, sorry but it just doesn’t. That doesn’t mean it’s not nice, I love violife, but if you go into this thinking its going to be as good as cheese then you’re going to be disappointed, it’s not. Same with vegan meat, they are nice in their own right but the are not the same. Learn to love them for what they are and become excited about expanding your meal repertoire rather than just repeating what you ate before but with ‘substitutes’.
  5. Nutritional Yeast. Called ‘Nooch’ in the vegan community this is a yeast that has a vaguely cheesy flavour and adds a savoury kick to dishes. Buy it, sprinkle it on everything, love it.
  6. Get a good supplement. For one of my attempts at veganism I was living on a tiny boat in Brighton Marina, in October. Saying it was cold and damp is an understatement, I had nowhere to dry clothes and as a poor student I was trying to save money by cycling everywhere and would often get caught in the rain on the cycle home along the beach. I couldn’t afford to eat out and I only had a one ring gas burner and a microwave to cook my meals on, which meant that I basically lived off lentil soup and tomato pasta. Low and behold I became quite poorly. I got coldsores around my mouth and a cough that I couldn’t shake. For years I equated ‘being vegan’ with ‘being poorly’, looking back now I can see clearly that my predicament had much less to do with being vegan and much more to do with being a wally. However this time I was taking no chances and got a good quality supplement from Holland and Barretts which I take every day. The vegan diet does not supply vitamin B12 and can lack vitamin D too, this means its very sensible to top up your supplies with a supplement to stop you feeling lethargic, as this is the quickest way to drive you back to animal products. This doesn’t mean a vegan diet is unhealthy though, studies show time and time again that as long as you get your vitamin B12 from somewhere veganism is the healthiest diet out there. There’s also lots of evidence to say that even if you eat meat and dairy you should top up vitamins B12 and D with supplements anyway.
  7. Don’t do it to lose weight. If losing weight is your primary goal then chances are you’ll fail. I am EXACTLY the same weight as I was when I ate meat, my husband has lost a few pounds but that is mostly down with him not being able to eat cakes at work anymore. I have even found that I eat MORE cake as I now feel that if there’s a vegan cake available I have to take one for the team.
  8. Be clear in your mind about why you don’t want to eat meat or dairy anymore.
    I had an epiphany one day when teaching a pregnancy yoga class about the role of oxytocin in birth and breastfeeding that made me never ever want to eat dairy again. I was talking about how oxytocin is the love hormone and how it is one of the major factors in bringing the mothers milk in. That the bond that Mothers have with their babies literally stimulates the breasts to produce milk, that without it the mother can’t produce milk and if the oxytocin is disrupted then this can upset the milk supply. I was showing techniques that new mothers can do to stimulate oxytocin flow themselves, such as skin on skin contact with baby and nuzzling. I’d said these things a millions times before but for some reason I just suddenly thought about cows. It’s the cows love for their babies that enable the milk to be produced, they don’t just create milk on their own they have to have been pregnant, then have a baby that they bond with. The baby is then taken away from the cow sometimes as soon as two hours after birth, and the cows have been known to bellow and cry for their babies for weeks after. I don’t believe that animals love their babies any less than we do, they are mammals and its exactly the same hormones, doing the exact same biological functions.
    From having that thought I can’t look at dairy in the same way, when someone says ‘but do you not miss blue cheese’,  the answer is yes on one level but an a much more overwhelming level I do not have a desire to eat cow grief, which is how I now see it.Your reasons will not be the same as mine, and thats totally cool, but the clearer you are in your head as to exactly why you want to be vegan or cut down on meat, the easier it’ll be.
  9. Get used to tuning people out. EVERYBODY will have an opinion on your new diet, everybody. Suddenly people who have never ever shown an interest in how much protein you eat will be overcome with concern that you’re not getting enough. People will assume that your diet is somehow a judgement on them and feel they need to justify themselves. This will happen all the time and you can’t stop it, just learn to smile and nod and tune them out. Also arm yourself with some awesome facts relating to whatever your reason for being vegan is so that if you have had enough tuning out you can stand your ground.
  10. Find a support network, whether its a friend, a partner or a group online life is so much easier when you can take a photo of your nooch covered baked potato and send it to someone who cares. The vegan online community is very friendly (much friendlier than The Archers Fanpages, my god those places are vicious!) I suggest the What Fat Vegans Eat page for lots of recipe tips and general support.

Finally don’t expect to be perfect all the time, there’s no vegan police that are going to put you in vegan jail if you accidentally (or even not so accidentally) eat something with animal products in, just do your best and know that there’s lots of people out there going through the same thing as you.

Does anyone have any to add to the list?

A Vegan Sunday Dinner at Toby Carvery 

My family is big on eating out. My Mam, Sister, my nieces and I will often meet up for a meal, in fact everything we do revolves around food. When we visit a museum or a park it will take about 5 seconds before we’ve worked out where the cafe is and are scoffing down an early lunch, sometimes bold as brass before we’ve even entered the attraction we’ve travelled to see. Every meal had the same rythmn to it as well, we’ll get the menus out and pretend to agonise over them then we’ll ask each other what we’re thinking about having, we’ll answer and then invariably someone will say, ‘I can’t decide between a and b’ and someone else will reply ‘well why don’t I get a and you get b and we’ll share?’. Then a collective sigh of relief will go around the table as we realise we will not have to worry that someone else’s meal looks better than ours. Then we’ll eat our meals, my nieces won’t finish theirs and their plates will get passed along the table to me and I’ll polish off the last of their dinners. After that the dessert menu will come we’ll each claim that we can’t fit anything else in but will have a look anyway, then we’ll agonise over it asking each other about every last choice, ‘should I get cream or custard?’, ‘do you think the carrot cake will be nice here’, ‘I’ve got a brownie in the cupboard at home would it be bad to get one here as well?’. Each question will be considered and dissected seriously by each member of the family until we order exactly what we knew we were going to order when we spied the dessert board on the wall at the beginning of the meal. This happens EVERY TIME and it’s wonderful, it’s familiar and comforting and just the way we do things.

So when my Mam text me earlier in the week inviting me for Sunday Dinner I was a bit nervous, where could we go that everyone would be happy? My Mam is a veggie but my sister (and she asked to be described in this way) is a ‘dedicated meat eater’ so where could we go for dinner to cater for everyone?

The answer came in a quite unusual place, Toby Carvery. As an establishment famed for its meat, where the house special is. literally four different meats slapped on a plate, I was delighted to see it not only catered for vegans but was expectionally vegan friendly. 

For a start there are three, yes THREE vegan mains to choose from.  


I got the Lentil Cottage Pie and my Mam got the Spiced Carrot and Chickpea Wellington, we had agreed to swap halfway but when mine arrived it was so delicious I was reluctant to swap, though I did try my Mams and it was delicious too. (I would never get away with this with my sister, if we had agreed to swap she would wrestle it out of my cold dead hands rather than let me eat the whole thing.)

I then asked what else was vegan and the waitress said that she would bring me some steamed vegetables, roast potatoes, stuffing and vegan gravy. She even said she’d bring them to the table so I wouldn’t have to go to the Carvery where all the meat was, this wasn’t really necessary but was incredibly sweet and a gesture that was much appreciated. She brought me SO MUCH FOOD. So much food that it had to go on two plates.

 

  
The pie itself could have been a meal. Let’s have a closer look at that pie.

 
I wish this was tastevision because this was pie was a true delight. It was packed with flavour and the texture was perfect. The roast potatoes also deserve a shout out because they were cooked beautifully, crisp and tasty on the outside, fluffy and creamy on the inside. Yum!!

I did miss having a Yorkshire pudding but I just stole some of the pastry off my Mams pie and that hit the spot.

I ate solidly for about twenty minutes but I was defeated by the portion size. It was just too big. However I was not letting this go in the bin, the waitress gave me a takeaway box and I filled it right to the top with what was left on my plate and it fed both me and my husband in the evening.

 

As you all know, there is always room for dessert. The pudding stomach is real and when presented with the option of a vegan chocolate and cherry tart, well it’s going to be utilised.

   

This was so good! It had a brownie like texture and it didn’t have a weird aftertaste that vegan cakes can sometimes have. There’s only one vegan option for dessert but at least it’s an actual cake and not fruit salad. (Fruit is not a dessert people.)

Afterwards whilst we were clutching our bellies and trying not to slip into a food coma, my sister claimed that if she came back she would get the vegan lentil pie as it was nicer than her meat! 

The only thing I missed was not being to eat my nieces leftovers, but what is my loss is my Mams cat’s gain as my Mam had no qualms about wrapping a whole chicken breast in a serviette and plopping it into her handbag.

I was genuinely surprised at how good the Toby Carvery was and it will no doubt become the scene for many fake deliberations over the menu for years to come. 

What’s your favourite place to eat out with your family?

Ps I have to mention the waitress, the service was really brilliant. She was obviously rushed off her feet but she was attentive and friendly and even chatted to us about her pet rats (this was when my mam tried to sneak a Yorkshire pudding into her handbag to take it back for pet rats, the waitress offered to get her a box for it and a fresh Yorkshire pudding.) 

Slow Cooked Reggae Reggae Pulled Jackfruit 

Now this recipe has been doing the rounds for a while, I keep drooling over versions of it on the vegan forums and I just knew I had to have a go of doing a version myself.

Everybody needs a sunny Friday recipe, something that you can dance around the kitchen listening to radio 6 with a beer whilst you cook it. Something simple, easy, delicious and can either line the stomach for a night out or put you in a satisfied stupor for a night in front of the telly. This is my Friday recipe. 

First of all, what the hell is a Jackfruit and where on this earth would I buy one?? 

Well if you have ever had a baby you might recognise the jackfruit as one of the fruits your babies size is compared to in the womb by pregnancy apps but a featus size comparer is not the only hat that this versatile fruit can wear.

A Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is used in Asian cooking, the young green fruit is savoury and the mature fruit is sweet like a mango. 

It is well known for being able to soak up flavours and having a meat like texture when cooked. These qualities really do make it ‘the jack of all fruits’. (I’ll show myself out).

You can buy it fresh or canned in syrup, brine or water.  For this recipe you will need it canned and in either brine or water. (You can use a fresh one but that takes the recipe from Funtime Friday to Fafftime Ain’t No One Can Be Arsed With That Day, and the syrupy one is just too sweet).

You can usually buy tins in Asian Supermakets but be careful to buy the right one. 

  
I bought mine from the Alternative Stores vegan supermarket in Palmersville.

Ingredients 

Two tins of young green jackfruit

Reggae Reggae Sauce

Red Chilli

2 teaspoons of brown sugar

2 teaspoons of liquid smoke

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon cumin

2 cloves garlic

1 stock cube

Method

Take jackfruit out of their tins, drain and rinse them.

Cut the core off each segment and if you can be bothered deseed them.

 

 
Once this is done put all the ingredients except the Reggae Reggae sauce in the slow cooker and cover with boiling water, you want enough water to cover then about 1cm.

Put on low and leave for 4 hours. (You can also do this in a pan for about 30 mins)

Once the jack fruit is softened take out of slow cooker with a ladle, draining away any excess liquid. 

Place on foil covered baking tray and spread out, pulling apart with two forks until it resembles pulled pork. Pop in the oven at 180 for 15 minutes.

  
Take out the oven and cover in Reggae Reggae sauce to taste. 

Put back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. 

Once out the oven serve as you would pulled pork. It’s lovely in a sandwich on its own, or in a tortilla with homemade guacamole and rice. This is how I had it yesterday. I also had a beer or two. Hmmm Friday’s!  

  
   

Memoirs Of A Geordie Vegetarian Childhood

When I was two we bought chips and mushy peas for tea which was a huge treat. As I was eating my dinner my family were watching the telly. On the screen I could see grey walls being graffitied and people shouting, and cheering. I remember putting a chip in my mouth and gagging, turning to my Mam and saying that I felt sick. For the first time in my entire life my Mam told me to shush as she was engrossed in the tv. I couldn’t believe it, my Mam was always supposed to care if I felt sick, that was her job! And as the Berlin wall fell on the screen, the thin illusion that I had clung to since birth, that there was nothing in the world more important than me, shattered. Never to return.

Looking back at that memory I can see faults in the narrative, I would have been far too young to remember the Berlin Wall falling. I’m not a fan of mushy peas and it seems unlikely I would have been given them. The house I remember is fuzzy and smooshed, like more than one house pushed together. Maybe this never happened. Maybe it’s more than one memory pieced together, but whatever it is it feels real, and important. I can’t see why it’s important, but it is, it means something. Sometimes it’s our false memories that are the most pernicious, and they are the ones that need to be listened too.

Flash forward a few years and I’m living on a Council Estate called Carr Hill in the Middle of Gateshead. We live in an end terrace (or was it a semi?) with a garden and a yard, and other than the fact the estate is overrun by unruly hooligans, and the police helicopter keeps us awake most nights, the house is lovely. I live with my Mam, my Sister, My Mam’s Lesbian Partner and our one eyed dog Louis. It’s the year of the election and the estate is covered in red posters, there’s an air of excitement and me and my sister will spend much of our time bouncing on our couch singing the words to Robin Hood but changing the name to Tony Blair. I don’t know who this Tony Blair character is but I do know he’s going to save us all.

Most days I walk to school with a young boy who has a yellow poster in his window rather than a red one. We race each other up and down the street as his Mam dawdles behind. He wears a Ninja Turtle t shirt and always has a blue stain around his lips from where he’s been drinking blue  pop. This seems rather exotic to me as my Mam will only let me have pop at the weekends and never in the morning, I imagine a world where you’re allowed to drink blue pop whenever you like and it’s glorious. One day his Mam gives me a yellow sticker to wear to school and his Mam and my Mam argue. I tell everyone that when I grow up I’m going to marry this boy but he tells everyone that when he grows up he’s going to marry a tree, and that puts an end to that.

Many years later I will meet this boy in a nightclub sometime in the dead space between Christmas and New Year, he will look exactly the same as I remember him, minus the blue stain and Ninja Turtle T Shirt. We’ll have a drunkan kiss as the DJ turns on the fake snow machine and all the time he’s kissing me I’ll think about his liberal mother and his thunderbird toys and the fact his sister never wore socks. Then I’ll leave the nightclub and I’ll never think of him again until this exact moment.

The School I go to is full of celebrations, we make coconut sweets for Diwali, put smarties inside red envelopes for Chinese New Year and sing songs for the harvest festival. At lunchtime I have to sit next to a sikh boy from another year as he is the only other vegetarian in the school, we get the same thing for dinner every day, half an egg and a neon orange lump of grated cheese that sweats under the schools strip lighting, and some sweetcorn that we never eat. To take the taste away of the cheese we’ll dip sugary biscuits into concentrated dilutey orange juice, much stronger than we’re allowed at home and we’ll wonder why we’re only given half an egg, sometimes we’ll put our eggs together to see if they are the same one (they are). The Sikh boy will tell me that for his family eating meat is against their religion and that they don’t eat quorn because his dad says that you shouldn’t even want to eat meat as it is so wrong. I will say that I love my dog and wouldn’t eat her so why would I eat another animal. I’ll explain that I don’t have a religion but that my family also believe eating meat is wrong. I’ll say that we do eat quorn, and sometimes we eat sausages that my mam’s friend Linda Maccartney makes. He says he eats lentils and I say I eat lentils too. Then we’ll scrape our uneaten sweetcorn into a bucket at the end of the table that the dinner nanny claims will ‘go to the pigs’, we never question this, we never wonder which pigs they are going to, even though we certainly never see any pigs around.

My Mam and her partner don’t believe that there’s a difference between boys and girls, I have my hair cut short and wear dungarees with mickey mouse braces. I hate them, I want my hair long and to wear twirly skirts and patent shoes with bows on them like the other girls. I wear flowery Dr Martins which 28 year old me would love but 5 year old me despises. Everyone at school thinks I’m a boy, it doesn’t help that I’m called Jo. All the children say I’m a boy and I get tired of saying I’m not. The dinner nanny in the lunch queue calls me ‘son’ and when I tell her I’m a girl she looks at me with pity and says, ‘of course you are son’. One day I beg my Mam to let me wear a hair band, she lets me as long as I don’t tell her partner. We buy it from the chemist on the way home from school, we get a hair band and a lolly in the shape of a whistle that you can make a noise with until you get too impatient and bite into it. The hair band is denim and I am so excited to wear it to school the next day. The next day all the children ask me why a boy is wearing a hairband, and I throw the hairband in the bin.

Fast forward again and now I live in another council estate, this time in High Heaton. Most of the houses here were bought up in the right to buy schemes and other than the occasional family or old person, now its mostly young couples who live in them. Houses sell fast here and its referred to as an ‘up and coming area’. I live with my husband and our two cats, no one ever mistakes me for a boy and I have long hair, often wear twirly skirts, and I own at least 2 pairs of shoes with bows on them.

A lot of the red posters in the windows turned yellow, then green, then red again. Tony Blair came and went, and the Tories came back in. My one eyed dog died of liver failure and I was heartbroken, and I still think eating animals is wrong.

I’m going to stop my writing here, not because I have come to the end but because I could write this forever.

I showed this writing to my loving husband who said it needed a clearer narrative, that I had to be more defined in what I was trying to say to stop it turning into self indulgent drivel. The fact is though, I don’t really know what the point of this is yet, I know there is a connection here but I can’t quite make out the shape or the form. Like when you see a star in the sky but when you look directly at it, it disappears. My well meaning husband says that I could risk it appearing like a ‘teenage diary’, but I don’t mind that, a teenage diary is better than words left unsaid. Anyway teenage diaries are magnificent, the mundane, the fierce, the confused and raw. When did we stop writing because we were worried what we said was wrong? That people would mock us? Pick up your pens dear reader, we have drivel to write!

192753_1832585048099_2108753_o

 

Uplifting Miso Soup For A Protein Packed Snack Or Light Lunch

When you’re feeling down there’s  nothing quite like a bowl of Miso soup to warm up your cockles and make you smile again. It has the ability to comfort me to the very core and I will quite often make this as a mid afternoon snack on dreary admin days, or if I’m feeling poorly I’ll drink it from a cup on the sofa,  it’s such a quick pick me up, with no prep and hardly any cooking time.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can add or omit ingredients to suit your needs. I’ve put the quite filling version here suitable for a light lunch, but if you’re after a quick snack just omit the noodles.

Ingredients 

1 dessert spoon of Miso paste  

 
1 handful of dried seaweed (chopped)

 
1 handful of spring onions (chopped)

15mls of soy sauce

150g of firm tofu

100g of buckwheat noodles 

Method

Put miso paste and soy sauce in a pan with the noodles and enough water to cover noodles.

Drain tofu and chop into regular squares

 

Cut up dried seaweed with scissors and chop spring onions with knife.

Place these into the pan and simmer until the noodles are soft.

Stir and pour into a bowl

Find a big cardie, close the curtains, find a cat to sit next to and enjoy.
  

No Babe Rice Paper Bacon

I never realised before I became vegan that the word ‘bacon’ could actually be an entire argument. Then suddenly after becoming vegan everyone seemed to be using it, someone would ask how my veganism was going, I’d say ‘well thank you’ and they’d say ‘yeah but bacon’. 

I believe in my reasons for turning vegan, I truly care about animal welfare and I don’t want to be an active part in an industry that enslaves and tortures animals anymore. I just don’t. HOWEVER, I am a rational human being and I understand that this is not everyone’s choice, and though I would love the world to hold hands and decide that seeing as we have the technology and the ability to live a full, healthy and happy life without the mistreatment of animals then why wouldn’t we, I can see that this is very unlikely to happen any time soon. I am not offended by meat eating, there’s no need to hide it or be defensive of it, I ate meat for years and years and I understand that it’s delicious, but get this SO IS VEGAN FOOD. I just ate chocolate spread out of the jar with a spoon (I’m hungover and it’s a Sunday, so sue me) and it was amazing, AND no cows had to have their babies taken away from them to make it, extra delicious! There’s no need to justify choices, I’m really not arsed what other people do, but bacon is not an argument. 

Except maybe this bacon. This bacon is a genuine life changer! LIFE. CHANGER. 

Please let me introduce you to 

‘No Babe Rice Paper Bacon’

Life changer.

Ingredients 

2 sheets of  Rice paper (the kind you get in the Asian Supermarkets to wrap up spring rolls, for those of you in Newcastle you can get this from the one opposite The Gate)

2 tablespoons Nutrional Yeast 

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon of oil of your choice (I like olive)

1 teaspoon of liquid smoke (I got this off amazon)

Method 

 

Cut the rice paper into strips

 
 

Get two strips of rice paper, put it together and put in water for about 3 seconds, then squeeze the water out of it with your fingers while pushing two pieces of paper together to create one.

  

Get the other ingredients and put them together in a bowl, mix well.

  
Dip the rice paper in the marinade and cover both sides

 

Place in non stick frying pan and fry on both sides for 1 minutes, turning with fork.

   
Transfer bacon to grill rack and oven cook on 180 for 12 minutes or until crispy.  (It’ll make your house smell all bacony too!)

 
Serve however you wish but you can’t go wrong slapping it on some bread with some Tommy K.

 

Bish, bash and  bosh! ‘No Babe Rice Paper Bacon’. Yum!!! 

Love Lula April 2016 Unboxing

Is there anything better than a beauty box? I think not. It’s like a little mini Christmas every month, but a Christmas where you only get presents that you’ve for bought yourself, and you don’t get to eat any food. 

Over the years I’ve had Glossybox  and Birchbox, I loved Birchbox but when I decided to go cruelty free with my products I had to find an alternative. In stepped Love Lula, for only £12.50 a month including postage you get at least 5 cruelty free products straight to your door. Their ethics are great and they have a very clear manifesto which they print on their boxes.

  
A couple of points about the box itself. It’s very basic but it’s  actually nice to have a bit less packaging after getting spoiled with the Glossybox and Birchbox whose boxes were ‘too lovely to throw away’.  I felt I had to keep the boxes until my cupboards were rammed full of boxes that I’ll probably never use but felt too guilty to throw away. At least with these boxes you can just throw them in the recycling with no guilt. 

The Love Lula boxes are too big to fit through the letterbox so if you are not able to be in for delivery it might be worth getting it delivered to your work address. Also be careful that you look through all the packaging before throwing it away, it didn’t happen this month but in the past I’ve almost thrown away little samples as they’ve got lost in shredded paper, I think it would be nice to have a product list in the box  so you can see that you have everything and see how to use each product. 

So this is what I got this month 

 

First impressions is that the samples are of very generous sizes and of high quality. There are two brands that are the same as in last months box, but they are good brands and they are different products so that’s not too much of an issue. There is also 3 facial moisturisers in the box and I only have one face so I’ll not need to buy a moisturiser for a really long time!  

First product I used was  

 
This was one of the brands that was in last months box and I’ve been using the matching cleanser all month which I really like so I was thrilled to see this in this months box. 

This is a very light moisturiser that manages to also feel creamy. It absorbs into the skin straight away and leaves no greasy residue. It would be a lovely daytime cream to wear under make up but it couldn’t replace a night time cream.

  
I have very sensitive eyes so usually stay away from eye cream but I gave this a go and was pleasantly surprised. It has a serumy consistency and is a little on the watery side, this means you only need a teeny tiny amount. It says on the box to use it morning and evening but I think it’s a bit sticky to use in the morning.  The biggest bonus of this product though was that it didn’t make my eyes sting or make my cheeks go puffy which most eye creams do.

  
Again this is another light moisturiser but I found this one packed more punch than the Skin Blossom cream. This is slightly more oily and I would be happy to use this either in the morning or the evening, this cream has a faint flowery scent and you do not need to use very much to cover the face and neck. 

  
This is another duplicate brand from last months box and we actually got the same set of products but from a different range. Last month it was the ‘radiance’ range rather than the ‘purifying’ range. This range actually suits my skin type better so I was happy to try these. 

The facial wash had a strong scent and you have to be careful not to get it into the eyes as the eucalyptus is an irritant. It tightened my pores almost immediately and left my skin feeling very clean. It’s slightly too harsh for my skin but if you were very oily it might suit you better.

  

I loved this product. I have been trying to find a face polish that doesn’t use micro beads but haven’t been able to find one I like, this is definitely a contender. Whatever they use as the exfoliant is gentle and doesn’t feel like it’s scraping the skin but it also feels like it’s getting deep into the pores. I will be purchasing this product once the sample runs out.

  
This was my least favourite product in the box, I found the scent too strong and it didn’t hydrate my skin enough, I also felt it left a sticky residue. 

All in all I am very happy with this months box. I am however cancelling my subscription as they are unable to ensure that all future boxes will be vegan (I checked with them beforehand and they ensured me that Aprils was).

I also feel that this box is a bit of a victim of its own success, because the product sizes are so generous I don’t feel like I need one every month. Maybe if they added lifestyle items or make up to the box it would make getting a box every month worthwhile. Like I say, I probably got about 6 months worth of facial moisturiser in this box alone so I am going to stop this box. This is not a reflection on how lovely the box is though, it is very good value for money and a delightful treat. 

Next month I’m going to be trying the ‘Vegan Kind’ box, so look out for my Unboxing of that at the beginning of May.

Do you get a lifestyle or beauty box? What’s your favourite? 

Easy, Slow Cooked Silken Tofu, Chicory and Coconut Chowder

I gave this to my husband for the first time last night and when I asked if he liked it he said, ‘but we eat this all the time!’ I’m taking that as a success because I did use to make fish chowder all the time, and it means he can’t tell the difference! 

This is such an easy recipe and is a great way to start getting used to working with silken tofu which can be pretty intimidating if you’ve never used it before. 

Ingredients 

300g of organic silken tofu 

25g of creamed coconut

1 head of chicory

1 carrot

1 leek

2 medium potatoes 

Half a small head of cauliflower

As much frozen sweet corn as you like

Boiling water to cover

1 onion

1 bay leaf

1 veggie stock cube 

To serve (optional but recommended)

1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast.

1 teaspoon of vegan spread (I have a soya one but any will do) 

Method 

Drain then hand blend the tofu until smooth don’t worry if it all falls apart in your hands when taking it out of the packet, that’s ok it’s going to be blended anyway. 

Chop up vegetables to desired size but keep them uniform so they cook evenly ( I prefer smaller chunks in chowder)

Add all ingredients (except the ones to serve) to the slow cooker and cover with boiling water, stir ingredients until evenly distributed in slow cooker.

Turn on slow cooker and cook for about 6 hours or until  vegetables are soft but not mushy. (Different slow cookers have different strengths, I have a crock pot and I need to put this recipe on high but that’s because my slow cooker is old and I use it all the time. If your slow cooker is new you might prefer to put it on low)

 Serve in bowls with nutrional yeast and vegan spread. 
Yummy!!
 

Ten Reasons Why I Love My Mooncup

So having a mooncup doesn’t really have anything to do with being vegan, but some of my reasons for doing both overlap so I thought I’d do a post on the wonders of my mooncup.

Before I got a mooncup I thought they were pretty gross, I couldn’t really understand the attraction in one. I thought they were for hippies trying to make some kind of point, but when I tried one I was forever converted. I’m not exaggerating when I say my mooncup is the single most liberating purchase I have ever made in my life. It was truly life altering. 

So what’s all the fuss about?

  1.  Mooncups are convenient. You only ever have to buy one. That’s right, you can use one sanitary product for the rest of your life! (If you have a baby you might need another size but that’s only two). You don’t need different products for different times in your flow you just use the same one. In between periods you steralize it in boiling water, pack it away and forget about it. They are really small so take up zero space in your bathroom.
  2. They are cheap! If like me you are thrifty bordering on stingey then this is a pretty big factor. The average woman spends £4 a month on her period which adds up to £1900 in her lifetime! Don’t forget that you get taxed on that, so that’s literally a tax for being a woman. A mooncup costs about £20 so that’s a huge saving over your lifetime, and screw that woman tax! 
  3. They’re environmentally friendly. Sanitary towels take 500-800 years to decompose. Isn’t that insane?!? Think of all those sanitary towels just sitting there in landfill. With a mooncup you reuse it so you aren’t contributing to that big pile of period waste. 
  4. They are easy to use. You just pop it in, empty and clean every four to eight hours then steralize at the end and beginning of your period. Simples! 
  5. They aren’t gross, honest they’re not. Everyone seems to get a bit sqeemish about Mooncups, I get it, I understand, BUT there’s really no need to be. The emptying process is really easy and is way tidier than using a sanitary towel or tampon. Also if you think about it sanitary towels are way grosser, you put them in a bin and then they just sit there as bacteria feeds on the blood until they biodegrade in 500-800 years time. Lush. 
  6. The have less odour than a sanitary towel or tampons. Sanitary towels prevent air getting to the genitals, stop the blood from drying and allow a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to create a strong smell. Bleach and chemicals used on tampons change the ph balance of your vagina which again can create bacteria and also the dreaded yeast infection which can contribute to the smell. Mooncups do none of these things, because the blood doesn’t come into contact with the air until you empty it it doesn’t allow bacteria to feed on the blood because, get this, YOUR VAGINA IS CLEAN! Yup that’s right ladies, your vagina is perfectly sterile and clean, unless something foreign (like a tampon) creates an imbalance. Mooncups are made of silicone which doesn’t change the ph balance of the vagina at all and thus they smell much much less.
  7. No risk of toxic shock. Toxic shock is rare but very serious when it happens, it can even be fatal. Why take the risk?
  8. You can wear it at night!!! Goodbye ugly night time pads, screw you, and don’t let the door hit you on your massive nappy ass on the way out.
  9. You get to track your period. When I used tampons and pads I didn’t really know much about my cycle, just that sometimes I have to change more often. With a mooncup you not only can see how much you bleed but also the colour and consistency. Some might not see this as a perk but I was genuinely interested, it made me feel more like my periods was something I was doing rather than something just happening to me.
  10. This is the biggest one. You can forget about it! When I first got my Mooncup I couldn’t really see how I would be able to wear it, it seemed massive, and wasn’t very comfortable. However over time it moulds to your shape until you can’t even feel you’re wearing anything. I happily do everything I would normally do, go swimming, run, do yoga without even having to think about it. I genuinely don’t feel like I’m having a period (except for the spots and irrational rage). My period always used to seem like this massive ‘thing’ but now I barely even notice it happen.

So what you waiting for??? Go out and buy one now, you’ll not regret it!

If you have any questions don’t be shy to ask.

Ps. The first thing anyone asks about a mooncup is how do you change them in public and the answer is pretty simple, you just tip it down the toilet, wipe it with a tissue and put it back in. As long as you wash it with some odourless soap when you get home then there’s really nothing to worry about. Like I said your vagina is clean, when the mooncup is up there it’s completely sterile, it’s only when it makes contact with the air when bacteria can breed and it’s such a tiny time it takes to tip it out that you’re in no danger.