VegFest London 2016

I should probably start by saying… I’m not a vegan (despite having been to two vegan festivals in different countries in October!) I do have a few close friends/flatmates that adhere to that lifestyle and I’m quite health-conscious and sustainability-minded. But my favourite thing about the vegan community is their innovative and inventive spirit. Plenty of small business owners I met today said, “no one was meeting my needs, so I decided to make it for myself and others.” Who knew you could make blue cheese from cashew nuts? Or filling tacos using jack fruit?

Here are my top discoveries from today’s adventure:

1 . Black Seaweed Pearls (aka Vegan Beluga Caviar) from Cavia.

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2. Hazelnut & Carob Spread (tastes exactly like Nutella, but has only 3 ingredients) from Nutural World. 

3. Organic Chufa de Valencia Tiger Nuts from The Tigernut Company . What on earth is a tiger nut? That was my question as well! It’s not actually a nut, it’s a small root vegetable, grown in a field and harvested in pretty much the same way as a potato. Known in Spain as the ‘Chufa, it’s a super little tuber, nutrient dense and packed with superfood qualities.

4. Soap Nuts by Living Naturally. It’s the 100% natural hypoallergenic alternative to laundry detergent. Clothes also come out soft and fresh, so no need for scent boosters or fabric softeners!

And for the branding – I’ve added:

5. Pepo Papa Pumpkin Seed Oil. This product screams ‘OCTOBER!’ and Autumn. A Hungarian-founded company just starting to get distribution in the UK.

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My latest BRUNCH adventures in London.

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Forge & Co. 

http://www.forgeandco.co.uk

Address: 154-158 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6HU

What I ordered: Eggs florentine, americano, and immune boost smoothie 

Best Part: If you buy a glass of Prosecco at 10 and receive free re-fills throughout your Saturday Brunch. The atmosphere is the perfect mix of classy and chilled.

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At home

Lemon & blueberry buttermilk pancakes with french press coffee w/soy milk

Recipe: http://southernfood.about.com/od/pancakesandwaffles/r/bl80613j.htm

Best Part: You get to stay in your pjs, perfect your cooking skills, and relax with your flatmates in that lazy Sunday fashion. 

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Duck & Waffle 

http://duckandwaffle.com

Address: 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

What I ordered: Duck egg en cocotte and filter coffee

Best Part: The view above London from the 40th floor, especially if you go in the early morning and see the sun rise. Weekend reservations are impossible to get, so I would recommend booking for an earlier time before work (6:30-7 AM reservation). 

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Nama Food

http://namafoods.com

Address: 110 Talbot Road, London W11 1JR

What I ordered: Lasagne Verdure and espresso with coconut milk

Best Part: If you’re feeling experimental and want to try something new, then vegan is the latest trend. Don’t confuse veganism as being the ‘healthiest’ or most ‘delicious’ option; however, it is definitely something to spice up a typical Saturday.

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Nordic Bakery

http://www.nordicbakery.com

Address: Multiple Locations in London

What I ordered: Filter coffee, egg & herring dark rye sandwhich and half a cinnamon bun

Best Part: The dark bread is great to purchase and take home as your weekly supply of delicious healthy bread. 

Improvising a mix between recipes: Snickerdoodles + Almond Butter Spice.

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Some things I learned tonight:

1. There is nothing better than the smell of vanilla extract. 

2. Don’t be afraid to improvise with baking, it is just cookies after all. And I’m pretty sure I just discovered a new secret ingredient to making cookies light and fluffy… (it’s adding a tablespoon of yogurt!)   

3. Cautiously move forward and taste test along the way to help make the final product better.

4. My oven doesn’t work properly with the heat settings.

5. When the recipe says only make the dough balls 1 inch wide because they will expand…. trust the recipe and don’t make them larger.

6. Julia Child was right: “With enough butter, anything is good.”

7. Raw cookie dough batter is 100% better than the final baked version.

8. Loud pop music helps the dough and energy of the room rise.

9. If you’re wearing glasses … keep your face away from the oven door when you first open it.

10. Put the dough in the fridge to chill in between cooking separate batches.

The two recipes I referenced to create my own:

1. Snickerdoodles

2. Almond Spice Cookies

Happy Monday! And get creatively baking! 

What’s better than the original? Actually, a lot of things!

What's better than the original? Actually, a lot of things!

1. Seedless Watermelon is better than original watermelon.
2. Lychee Juice is better than Lychee Fruit on its own.
3. Frozen Grapes are better than room-temperature grapes.
4. Dried Mango Slices are better than Ripe Mango.
5. Strawberries sprinkled with a little bit of sugar to balance the acidity.

P.S. I’m a fruit lover… can you tell?

And full disclaimer, this is just my personal taste and preference. Feel free to tell me your eating habits and preferences! There’s no reason why you have to like the original more than variations of it… even if a crunchy red apple is the best taste in the world.

To-To-Tofu.

To-To-Tofu.

Over the years, tofu has gotten a bad reputation of being only for vegetarians, tasting bland, and being unpleasantly chewy. There are too many loud voices against tofu, and not enough proponents willing to clear the bad reputation. I believe the product itself is not the problem; tofu just needs a new marketing strategy. You can do pretty much anything to tofu: grill it, poach it, scramble it, stir-fry it, simmer it in a curry, or make it into burgers. When prepared properly, tofu can be a wonderful addition to any dish. Plus, it has high protein content that adds health benefits to all. The bad reputation comes from unawareness and apprehension to explore tofu as an ingredient in meals; thus, we need to start a conversation in order to re-brand tofu. Help end the pre-determined discrimination against tofu by giving it another proper taste before completely writing it off.

Paris me manque déjà – particulièrement la cuisine française.

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C’est moins d’un mois que j’ai quitté Paris. Et bon, la ville me manque! Et tout les petites choses quotidiennes, comme la boulangerie ou la fromagerie. Mais il est normal de vouloir toujours ce qu’on n’a pas. À bientot Paris, et bonjour Londres (bière, des saucisses, des œufs et Marmite).