Christmas Gift Guide for the vegans in your life! (UK)

With Christmas coming round quickly, you might be wondering what to buy for that special vegan in your life. Well, this guide is here to help you! I know.. You’re welcome 😉

1. Delicious loose leaf tea from Attic Tea.
Attic have a large selection of teas, with each one serving a specific purpose. They are big proponents of using tea for its multitude of health benefits, so you will find teas for digestion, energy, immunity, etc. I can promise you, they are all totally delicious- perfect for the winter months! They also sell a cool tea maker.

2. A cute apron!
Know of a passionate vegan baker? Check out these super cute aprons: ditsy floral pattern, Christmassy, jelly and cake, Cath Kidston

3. Cruelty-free cosmetics and toiletries from Lush
I love Lush! They have plenty of vegan and cruelty free goodies, and they definitely have something for everyone. My personal favourites are the “I love juicy” shampoo, the tea tree toner and the angels on bare faces cleanser. The best thing about Lush is that if you are lost on what to buy, they always have a bunch of gift boxes ready made up and gift wrapped, so no excuses- I’m looking at the boys here! If you guys know of any other companies that make products that are cruelty free and no crazy ingredients, I’d love to hear about it!

4. A donut making kit. Ohhhh yes!
Know a donut lover? Try getting them this donut tray: Wilton 6 Cavity Donut PanThey even have a mini one: Wilton 12 Cavity Mini Donut PanCouple that with a recipe book: Babycakes Covers the Classics: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes from Donuts to Snickerdoodles or Baked Doughnuts For Everyone: From Sweet to Savory to Everything in Between, 101 Delicious Recipes, All Gluten-FreeEt voila! You will now forever receive donuts from your friend. Hopefully.

5. A food processor
Now this is a big present for that special someone in your life! I recommend this Bosch food processor, which is what I have, and would be lost without! I haven’t had any problems with it so far.


6. An amazing Christmassy bundt tin!

What could possibly be more festive than this?!

7. Cake transporting device
Have a look at this cute Victoria sponge cake tin! Just pretend that’s whipped coconut cream, not real dairy hahaha.

8. Digital scales
There are a ton of different kind of scales you can get, but I’m only linking you to these because I have these and I have never had a problem with them. So, sooo so useful! And really accurate too.

9. World map flask
For the travel loving friend, I think this flask is super cute! world map flask from Joy

10. A cookbook stand
Maybe something you wouldn’t buy for yourself- but this would make a great gift!

Joseph Joseph green cookbook stand

10. A cute cake stand
This floral cake stand from Joules is amazing, and this Wedgewood polka dot stand is beautiful. If you like more plain ones try this plain glass one. To be honest, I found some many nice ones online that it would be impossible to link them all! And now I want them all too. Dammit!

11. Vegan themed jewellery
I found this “vegan chick” necklace on Etsy that I thought looked sweet, and this “eat your kale” necklace made me chuckle.

12. An Eco friendly lunch box
I’ve been eyeing up this bento box for a while now…

And I have this lunch box and love it- it comes with cutlery and a little container to bring salad dressing! So useful!

13. A Keep Cup

If you have never heard of Keep Cups but you are a cafe lover, you should check them out. They are reusable, so you can save those paper cups that just get chucked in the bin, and they are “barista” size. Basically they use Starbucks type sizes so you know what size to order, and they fit perfectly under the espresso machine. You can customise your own colours on their website too which is cool, but they are also available at Whittards and random coffee shops too. I love travelling with these too- you can pop in a tea bag and put it in your bag, then just fill with hot water at the hotel or if you’re out and about.

Eating vegan while travelling, made easy

Are you worried about staying vegan while travelling, without stressing out about every meal? Have no fear! These tips are about to make your life a whole lot easier!

1. Bring a lunch box and sandwich/zip lock bags.

These will allow you to do two things: first of all you can pack food to take around with you on your day. You could bring a sandwich or beans or something just in case you don’t find something else to eat while you are out and about, or you just get hungry and don’t want to stop everything to find a place to eat. Second of all you can take home left over food if you eat out and don’t finish everything! Particularly useful in the US, where portions are gigantic 😉 You can use the zip lock bags to bring portioned snacks on the road- which brings me on to my next point…

2. Always bring snacks!

Always carry an emergency snack with you. “Super foods” (hemp seeds, chia seeds, goji berries, etc) are particularly useful since they have so many nutrients. You can put chia seeds into a fresh juice, or even just lemon water, and you can put hemp seeds onto cereal /oatmeal for breakfast, or just snack on them during the day. You could also bring/make granola/protein bars, or individual packets of nut butter with you. Pack a bunch in your main piece of luggage, as well as large amounts of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, and then you can just take a handful in a little baggie for the day! Another idea is to bring individual packets of instant oatmeal which you can make in your hotel room (or possibly even a cafe if you just ask for hot water), that way you can have a hearty breakfast wherever you are. If you are going to be able to make smoothies where you are, you could pack protein powders or those green powders with chlorella/spirulina etc.

3. Check out restaurants beforehand.

Use Happy Cow and Yelp to find restaurants, cafes and markets that you could go to in any area you might be at. Remember that they don’t have to be specifically vegan places- Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican and Middle Eastern food are all pretty easy to veganize. Check out my guide to eating out as a vegan here.

4. Learn useful phrases in the local language.

Be respectful and learn useful phrases in the language of the country you are visiting, such as “I don’t eat chicken/meat/milk/etc”. Don’t expect people to know and understand what being vegan means. Know what ingredients are likely to be used and ask for omissions/substitutions- no milk in your tea, no cheese on your pizza, etc.

5. Make use of local markets and supermarkets.

Remember you don’t always have to eat at a restaurant- make use of local markets and supermarkets. Buy stuff like bread, hummus, beans, rice, fruit and veggies, etc, which you can use to have a picnic or snack on during the day. If you are in a country where there are natural/organic shops, check them out for your supplies too! Google is your friend 🙂

Finally… Don’t stress out- you are travelling! This is what most people wish they could be doing! Just relax and have fun. Yes, most people are going to think you are crazy, but who cares, right??

Links you might find useful:

How to have a comfortable long haul flight
What to pack in your hand luggage/carry on
5 tips: how to eat out as a vegan

Courgette (zucchini) and carrot muffins

These muffins are a perfect healthy-ish treat if you are craving spiced baked goodies! The cool thing is that you are also getting some veggies in there, so you don’t have to feel too guilty about eating more than one 😉

Courgette & carrot muffins

3 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/4 c water

Wet ingredients
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c coconut oil
1/4 c +1tbsp applesauce (mashed banana would probably work well too)
1/2 c courgette, grated (peel green outside if that would make it more appealing to kids/the family)
1/2 c grated carrots
1/4-1/2 c raisins (optional)
*optional add-in: walnuts or pecans

Dry ingredients

1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2.5 tsp pumpkin spice (or a mix of cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg)
1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour (spelt might work too, even 50-50 spelt and WW pastry flour)

1. Combine flax and (warm) water in a bowl and leave for about 5-10 mins for it to get an eggy consistency.
2. Add in the wet ingredients and mix well.
3. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add to wet ingredients.
4. Bake at 350F for about 20-25 mins until fully cooked. Try not to devour all the muffins at once!

You could also try making this in all loaf tin, just bake for longer- probably closer to 50 mins.

* adapted from Hell Yeah It’s Vegan
* feel free to double the recipe if you have a hungry/large family
* I will try adapting the recipe to be refined-sugar-free and let you know how that goes!

Apologies for the slightly unattractive picture- I assure you they are lovely and moist and spice on the inside!

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Current Foodie Favourites

So… am I the only one not appreciating how chilly it’s gotten in the space of about a week?! I swear, in one week I went from wearing shorts to re-discovering my winter coat. Not fun. The good news though is that my ticket to California is booked for next month- yes, I am finally seeing my bf after about 1/2 a year apart! It also means amazing vegan food for me, since you Americans are way better at that. Or at least Californians!

Anyway, without further ado.. Here are my current foodie favourites!

1. Chai spiced goodies

Chai spiced granola bars, cake, anything really! There’s something about colder temperatures that makes me crave anything spiced. I’m excited about playing around with pumpkin recipes in the US, since canned pumpkin is crazy expensive here and it’s so much easier to buy it canned than to roast it yourself!

2. Korean food

Oh man.. just talking about Korean food makes me HUNGRY! I recently discovered bibimbap, which is basically rice, salad/veggies and a spicy-sweet sauce all mixed together. I’m going to have to start making it myself because it seems pretty simple. I’m also loving kimchi, plus it’s so good for you, what with all that fermentation! Mmmmm…

3. Fruity cider

By fruity I mean not pear or apple! Strawberry + lime, mango + raspberry, passionfruit… Rekorderlig is a Swedish cider company that makes the most delicious fruity (alcoholic!) ciders. They all taste DELICIOUS!

4. Good bread

For some reason recently I’ve been loving fresh bread from an actual bakery. The seedier, the better! And I love a nice crunchy crust. Yum! Delicious with some mushrooms for breakfast, or with pesto and cherry tomatoes as a snack.

5. Coconut oil

Coconut oil, my love. You’ve been out of my life for a couple of months but I didn’t forget about you and how great you make food taste!

6. Bubble tea

I’m spending so much money on bubble tea (boba) that I need to just make it myself. I’ve got the tapioca balls but got a bit lost after that. Help, anyone? I love me some mango green tea!

What have you guys been loving recently?

How to have a comfortable long haul flight

A long haul flight most likely means you are going somewhere cool and exciting! But a horrible plane journey can make the beginning of your holiday a sleepy, confused daze… These are my recommendations for a good flight and how to avoid jet lag.

1. Check in online and pick a comfortable seat. I prefer being on the aisle seat so that I can walk around, stretch out and go to the toilet whenever I want. You might prefer the window so you can rest your head on the side… Pick your seat early- some airlines let you pick as soon as you’ve bought your ticket. Also consider whether you prefer to be at the front/middle/back of the plane (if you even get that choice). You’ll probably get your food and drinks quicker if you’re sat at the front 😉

2. Pack an organised carry-on/hand luggage. Check out my other blog post about what to pack in your hand luggage!

3. Wear comfortable clothing: think trackies, trainers, loose clothing, layers. Think about the weather when you arrive- you might want to pack a spare set of clothes for sunnier/much colder weather. Wearing/bringing layers means if it gets chilly on the plane you can just put an extra jumper on, but if you get too hot in the airport (or wherever), you can just take something off! Bear in mind you will probably want to slip your shoes off for the flight.

4. Arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Better to be super early than to be close to missing your flight. You might have to walk far to your gate, etc etc… so just get there early, check in, and relax!

5. Sort out your food for the trip. Google what your airline’s food is like, and if it’s going to be gross, bring snacks. If you are vegan/veggie/want halal meat/etc, make sure to book a special meal in advance with your airline. This also means you’ll probably get served first ;). Snack-wise, protein bars are good for combatting jet lag, plus if you choose a good one, or even make your own, they can be pretty filling.

6. Sort out your entertainment for the trip. Bring books, magazines, newspapers, laptop/tablet, e-reader, music player, games, crosswords… Whatever will keep you entertained on that long, longggg flight! You’re probably bringing your own headphones- if not, pack some. Airline headphones are often suuuper scratchy and uncomfortable, and if you’re planning on catching up on movies during your flight, you won’t want some cheap crap in your ear.

7. Drink plenty of water– as much as you can. A cup per hour is recommended. Planes are so dehydrating, plus you can help avoid horrible jet lag if you drink tons. Avoid caffeine and alcohol on the flight. It’s worth being sensible for the flight so that you’re not suffering for days when you arrive, falling asleep at random times of the day etc.

8. Move around. If you’re already drinking tons, hopefully that means you’ll need to go to the toilet more often. Walk around, stretch… It’ll make you feel better. In your seat, you can move your legs/ankles around to keep

9. Be ready just before the flight starts landing. If you’re super patient, you won’t mind being the last person off the plane. But if you’re anything like me, after 11 hours in the air you’ll want to be off that plane asap. So just before the plane starts landing, make sure you are all packed up and ready to go. Put your shoes back on! Get your passport in a handy location for immigration when you arrive. That way when you have to put your seatbelt on for the landing, you’ll be all ready to go!

10. You’re off the plane! Wahoo!! . Now- walk fast. You (probably) want to be the last person in the queue for immigration. Have your passport to hand and your phone off/on silent- you don’t want to annoy a grumpy immigration officer. Have a pen to hand if you are going to have you fill out more forms on arrival. Once you’re through, you might want to pop to the toilet and freshen up before getting your luggage- it’ll take a while for the luggage to start going round the conveyer belt anyway. Choose a strategic location near where the luggage first comes out so you can leave the airport as quickly as possible!

Vegan Restaurants & Cafes in Bristol (UK)

As a city, Bristol is relatively welcoming to veggies & vegans! Here is my (incomplete) guide to the Bristol’s vegan-friendly restaurants and cafes. I will update it as I try out new places! 🙂

Cafes & Pubs

Cafe Kino
108 Stokes Croft, Bristol
0117 924 9200
Totally vegan cafe, except for the fact that they do offer dairy milk in coffees. Quite a good selection of food and none of it tastes vegan. They always have a couple of freshly baked cakes on offer which are always delicious, and their coffee isn’t bad either. They do a vegan ‘full English’ style breakfast too. This is a community cafe run by volunteers and I enjoy supporting them out of principle.

Boston Tea Party
Locations on Park Street, Whiteladies Road, in Clifton Village and in Stokes Croft
Small chain in the South-West. Vegan-friendly options available. Breakfast: they do a vegan ‘full English’ kind of breakfast as well as mushrooms in toast. I haven’t tried their lunch options yet but honestly I trust their food, I’ve never really had any complains. However I would definitely recommend the Stokes Croft location above the others- it’s the most spacious and staff are always so friendly! Drinks-wise I recommend the filter coffee (Columbian at the moment is yummy), and the chai tea with steamed soy milk and cinnamon. They also have a coconut chocolate flapjack that is vegan and yummy.

Coffee 1
Locations all over Bristol: Westbury, Gloucester Rd, Thornbury etc
Probably some of the best coffee in Bristol, but I resent that they charge 35p for extra soy milk even in an americano/filter coffee. Not really anything vegan food-wise, so don’t come hungry!

Grupo Lounge
Wesbury village.
Part of a nationwide chain. They have a vegan menu but you have to ask for it. I haven’t had a great experience there, they always seem to put dairy on my plate even when I order off the vegan menu. But at least they have a few vegan options! Food is ok, I wouldn’t go there on purpose to eat, but it’s a good choice if you are with people who aren’t vegan- they have something for everyone. Be warned, the terrace shuts at 7!

Cupp
Cabot Circus.
Bubble Tea in Bristol! Apparently the only place that makes bubble tea without all those sketchy powders: only loose leaf tea and fresh fruit. Plenty of vegan options- either get the fruit tea, or milk tea with soy milk. They also do a cold noodle salad which is yummy, and it’s £6 for a tea and salad.

Middle Eastern

Falafel King
Van on the waterfront & Cotham Hill.
Really nice falafel!

Eat a Pitta
St Nicholas Market
I think I prefer this place to Falafel King, they offer more salad.. plus they always have free samples of the falafel. Yum! Have falafel + salad in a box or in a pitta.

Indian

Thali Cafe
Locations in Southville, Clifton Village, Totterdown, Easton, Montpelier.
Plenty of vegan-friendly options. They do a dairy-free thali (dhal, rice, veg curry, tomato salsa, raw salad). Plenty of starters/sides are vegan and delicious too: the red pepper pakoras, potato bondas, aloo paratha, samosas… The dhaal is really nice too. I found the service in the Clifton branch a bit lacking, and much preferred the service and atmosphere of the Southville one.

Japanese

Yo Sushi
Obviously a nationwide chain but still there are plenty of vegan options if you find yourself there with friends. Veg firecracker rice, Inari pocket (no tamago), avocado maki (no mayo), cucumber maki, veg futomaki (no tamago), kaiso salad, tofu salad, tofu katsu curry (no panko/no egg), mochi. They have a special dietary requirements folder.

Wagamama
On the Triangle and the mall (Cribbs). New one opening in Cabot Circus.
Tell your waiter/waitress- they have a special list of vegan-friendly dishes. My recommendations would be: bean and glass noodle salad, saien soba, yasai itame. Unfortunately the only vegan dessert is the fruit ice lolly. They do have nice fresh juices though.

Korean

Surakhan
52 Park Row
I had the vegetable bibimbap without the egg. Simple but quite tasty. Quite a convenient location so I’d definitely go back and try something else. Waitress was nice and patient!

Jakorean/Bobjo
Southmead Road
At the moment they only have a really small menu- they recently opened and are still developing it. I’m not even really sure what they’re called.. But their bibimbap without an egg is really yummy and super cheap at £3.50. Expect to feel like you’re walking into someone’s house- eclectic furniture, random trophies on the side, but they really care about you enjoying the food!

Vietnamese

Baowow
Baldwin Street
Vietnamese/Thai food. Everything is delicious. Service is a bit awkward, but it feels like they put love into their food. The buns are a must-have! The veggie one can be vegan without the mayo. I also tried the tofu/yellow bean sauce + rice and it was yummy. Go for lunch on a weekday for the £5 meal deal they do!

Tampopo
Cabot Circus
Ok so Tampopo does a bit of every type of Asian cuisine, I know.. but hey ho. It’s in the Vietnamese category for now haha. They do a vegan sign on the menu so you can clearly see what is vegan-friendly! The Korean noodle dish I got was nice and I’d get it again.

Fine Dining

Harvey Nichols
Cabot Circus
You can request a vegan menu by letting them know when you book. The meal I had was a tomato consomme to start, then aubergine, chilli, coriander, garlic salad, and (sadly) a fruit platter + elderflower sorbet for dessert. The starter and main were delicious, but unfortunately the dessert was disappointing and I have to admit I left not really feeling that full. They haven’t understood that vegans don’t just eat vegetables. They could have thrown a bit of quinoa/another grain in the salad, even a tiny bit would have made it feel more filling! But anyway, on the whole it was a nice meal and it was nice to go somewhere posh and actually be able to eat something!

Mexican

Mission Burrito
Park St
My initial impressions were good, plenty of room inside to sit down, Subway/chipotle-esque ordering, plenty of choice… I got a veggie burrito without the sour cream/cheese and it was ok. I wouldn’t rush back but I wouldn’t rule it out forever. Maybe I should give it another go… I just feel I could make something nicer myself. My burrito was cold and needed some more seasoning.bit was gigantic though, definitely a place you could share at. Plenty of choice of Jarritos at £2.50 a pop.

Italian

Pepe Nero
Bond St
Good lunch deal: pizza and drink £6.99. They have. Good choice of vegan toppings. The base was good, but I didn’t like the cheese they used- it tasted too fake. Personally I’d rather just have a pizza without cheese than that 😦 I’d go again but if have a regular pizza without the cheese!

Places to try next:
Al Bab Mansour
Mezze at the Royal George
Schnafel
Simply Thai
Maitreya Social
Thai Pepper
Roll for the soul

Reviews to come as soon as I try them out!