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. 

Perfect Easy Slow Cooked Vegan Chilli With Chocolate

I love my slow cooker! I love it. Love love love love love it. It’s a bit like having a maid, if the maid was you earlier in the day. I usually come home at around 8.30pm and there’s no way I would start cooking a healthy meal from scratch then but with my slow cooker my dinner is already there! It makes preparing food so easy too, literally chop it up and throw it in. 

This is my go to chilli recipe.

A lot of vegan food can lack umami but with the addition of cacao powder and marmite to the recipe it really packs a punch and leaves you feeling completely satisfied. I find that it’s enough in its own so you don’t need to serve with rice, but you can.

Ingredients

2 tins of tomatoes

1 tin kidney beans

1 tin of mixed beans in water

1 courgette   

1 carrot

1 onion

1 red pepper

2 cloves of garlic

1 chilli (or more if you want)

1 tsp of cumin powder

1tsp of chilli powder 

1 tsp of cinnamon 

1 tsp of cacao powder 

1/2 tsp marmite

1/2 veggie stock cube

Bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste 

To serve (optional but recommended)

Sprinkle of spring onions

Nutrional yeast 

  

Method

Put all in slow cooker in the morning in no particular order, pop on low, go about you day, enjoy in the evening.

I like to save some for the next day and eat it cold on toast with a slither Violife creamy vegan cheese, it’s so good! 

  

To Pea Or Not To Pea – A serving of Rice and Peas, Vegan Protein Shakes. 

One of the first things that people ask when you say you’re thinking of going vegan is, ‘but where will you get your protein from?’

I have to be honest and say that before I looked into it, I was worried about the same thing. The reality is however that since I started, I’ve been checking my protein intake with my fitness pal and there hasn’t been a single day so far that I haven’t managed to hit my protein goal! The power of lentils is truly a remarkable thing.

  
I have an active lifestyle and can teach up to 4 yoga classes a day so it’s imperative that I get enough protein for my muscles to recover and grow. I am a fan of protein powders as they are easily digestible and it gives you an added boost of energy.

I have been taking pea protein for a while and since becoming vegan I have added rice protein too, when mixed together these give you a complete protein which means they contain all the amino acids. Though it’s not crucial to eat complete proteins as the body can store the amino acids, it’s still reassuring to think you have. 

   
 Both pea and rice protein give 80% protein, so that’s 8g of protein for every 10g of powder (one heaped dessert spoon). That’s pretty impressive! There are lots of ways to eat it, you can cook with it and add it to things but I think it gives everything a weird gritty taste so I prefer to spoon it in a cup add some water and down it. This way I’m getting my water too. 

  
Now let’s get one thing straight, it doesn’t taste amazing, these aren’t your chocolate flavoured whey protein milkshakes, this is essentially cold pea and rice powdered soup, but it isn’t unbearable, I even secretly like it and you definitely get used to it! My cat is obsessed with it, (I don’t let him eat it but he wails for it and tried to knock it out my hand so he can lick it up), which I always think is a good sign.

  
I buy mine from Farplace Animal Rescue, it’s a bit more expensive than if I bought it from Amazon but it’s nice to think your money is saving animals and not lining the pockets of tax dodgers (not that I’m above shopping at Amazon but I like to avoid it if I can).

Do you use protein powders? What’s your favourite vegan protein?

  

Quick Vegan Chocolate Mousse For The Lazy, Greedy Vegan

I’m an evening snacker, I try not to be but I am. Before vegan April we were terrible for grabbing a chocolate bar from the co op on the way home (I’m partial to a wispa). 

I was kind of looking forward to not being able to to that, imagining that I would never snack again. In reality what happened was I ended up with my head in the cupboard desperately looking for something I could turn into a vegan chocolaty snack. This is what I came up with and it was divine!!

  

Ingredients  
Half an avacado per person,

A squirt of golden syrup

Some cacao powder

  
Method

Blend those little critters together. Done. Eat.

 

Is it going to win any beauty contests? No, of course it’s not. Is it bloody lovely?? Yes.

What’s your favourite quick treat?

   

For The Love of Pease Pudding – The Geordie Hummous 

Pease Pudding, is there a single more evocative taste? Whether it’s spread on a thick Stottie with butter or next to a big chunk of ham, nothing quite says the North East like it.

It’s also pretty amazing for vegans too, at 5.5g of protein for every 100g spreading it on toast is an easy way to add some protein to your lunch. 

Traditionally it’s cooked in the juices of a ham, which makes it decidedly not vegan but luckily for us most shop bought pease pudding is cooked in vegetable stock, or even water these days, so tuck in! (But read the label just in case)

For those of you who prefer it hot (rather than cold, or in a pot ten days old), here is the recipe.

Ingredients 

400g of yellow split peas

150g water

Bay leaf

1 stock cube

Method

Soak the peas overnight

Bring to a simmer in saucepan and scim white froth off the top.

Add stock cube and simmer for an hour and a half or until all the lentils have disintegrated into a mush (is that a word? You know what I mean)

Beat with a wooden spoon until it becomes a paste

Put in container of your choice and let it cool

And there you have it, pease pudding – the Geordie Hummous! 

 This is how I eat mine

 

An Early Test for Andy at The Fat Hippo

My first outing as a vegan without my wife was a tough experience. A prearranged evening with friends, organised well before myself and Jo agreed to try being vegan during the month of April, meant I was committed to eating at Newcastle’s The Fat Hippo Underground on Saturday night.
The Fat Hippo Underground, for those that don’t know, is a restaurant based on Shakespeare Street in the centre of town which specialises in burgers, fries and slaws. It promises customers that visit its cosy, low-lit underground den the opportunity to ‘sink your teeth into something juicy’ and its menu is unsurprisingly packed with beef, often smothered with cheese, accompanied by mayonnaise soaked salads and slaws and ‘dirty fries’ topped with bacon. 
Thankfully, The Fat Hippo Underground does cater for those that follow meat and dairy alternative diets. The menu has, as all restaurants do, a dedicated vegetarian section and impressively, a separate menu for gluten and dairy free as well as vegan customers.
It is worth noting, however, that when the waiter scurried back to our table with the pre-prepared ‘alternative’ menu, he apologetically pointed out to me the lack of options available to those who don’t want to gorge themselves in what is effectively a meat-eaters paradise. That’s fair enough.

  
The options were indeed minimal, with only the spicy bean burger being suitable for my trial palate, which I could have with either normal or sweet potato fries as well as a plain salad.
The bean burger, when it arrived, was noticeably considerably smaller than its beef counterparts being eaten with glee by my six carnivorous friends and if I’m being completely honest, it didn’t have any unique identifying features that could set it aside from your average frozen, supermarket attempt.

  
At the end of the day though, I’m not really complaining. The Fat Hippo isn’t a vegan restaurant and at least makes the effort to cater for vegan guests. A good night was had and I was satisfyingly full and proud not to have given in to temptation this early in the month.

 

 

Saturday Sushi

It’s a Saturday night, the husband has gone out so there’s only one this to do, order Sushi!
There is nothing better than spending a Saturday night on your own watching telly with a cat on your knee and a big pile of sushi on the table. I know, it’s hardly rock’n’roll but I like it.

I love sushi, and I was sure this was the thing I was going to miss the most when I went vegan. I know that you could get lots of veggie sushi but wasn’t sure how vegan friendly it was. I was so convinced that I was going to be deprived of it that the last non vegan meal I had was to go for Sushi and eat piles and piles of it!

So without much hope I went on the Nudo Sushi website and was delighted to find that they put the allergens next to each thing you can order so you can clearly see what is suitable for vegans, and I was even more delighted to see that there was loads I could order. In fact I think I got so excited I ordered waaaay more sushi than I needed.

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Whoops!

 

I had Vegetable Temaki

Vegetable Gyoza

Avocado Maki

Cucumber Maki

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Mango and Asparagus Salad

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It was all totally delicious and I’ve had to put some in the fridge for tomorrow. My highlight was the Avocado Maki.

It makes me really happy that I’m not going to be deprived, and this is my current view.

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Heaven!