Small efforts.

Writing posts seems to be beyond me recently, my head space is not really ideal. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped trying. Here are some little ways in which I’ve been trying to be healthier, happier and better to the planet in the last week or so…

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Not zero waste (weetabix came in cardboard and paper, raspberries in a plastic punnet) but I’ve been feeling pretty down this week and eating well has helped no end. I made this insanely yummy stew the other day that had 7 vegetables, 2 types of lentils and filled me up like you’d never believe! At least my body can be happy and I don’t have the added burden of feeling so sluggish.

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My student loan came and I invested in some good tech that should last longer than the rubbish cables you get with your phone which are designed to last approximately 5 minutes. These House of Marley earphones are made from FSC certified wood, have fabric covered cords for durability I love them.

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In my quest to lead a slower, more conscious life, books are making a comeback. Reading calms me down in a way a million Netflix shows couldn’t come close to doing. And the same goes for knitting (another hobby I’m pouring time into at the moment). There’s something about committing yourself to the process and being completely absorbed which I’m only really learning the true value of now.

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A selfie?! On my blog?! I know, I know- but how else do I talk about my crazy hair! Chopping it all off was the best decision I ever made for its health, but the growing out process has been long. A year and a half in, and I can put it up in a ponytail, but I mainly just leave it to do its thing (above). I like the way it does whatever it likes, and watching how my natural, untamed hair in its full glory.

 

Thanks for reading, friends 🙂

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5 things this Monday…

Happy Monday friends! I’m feeling determined and am lining up several posts for this week, so stay tuned! In the meantime, here are 5 things that have caught my eye…

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  1. Sainsbury’s is leading a really exciting initiative to encourage shoppers to eat less meat! This involves improved visibility for vegetarian and vegan products alongside meat options and other plans. Companies are cottoning on to the environmental importance of eating less meat! If you are ever in doubt as to whether veganism makes a difference, consider this one of the many reasons why it does!
  2. We’re all familiar with 5-a-day, but scientists have found that eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day is even more beneficial to your health (I know, it kinda stands to reason). On a vegan diet, I have to say this is a lot easier to manage- sometimes I get 5 in my dinner alone! Seeing how many veggies you can shoe-horn in is a good challenge.
  3. Schools in California, United States are cutting cheese and meat from the lunch menu to help the environment. I’m so excited that institutions are really starting to take this seriously and take charge of climate change. More please!
  4. More you say? Well the German government has banned meat at official functions! YES! What a great example to set, by taking a practical step that people can follow 🙂
  5. M&S released this recipe for savoury rosti pancakes ahead of pancake day tomorrow and they look SO GOOD! I bought all the ingredients today and I’m going to give it a go..

5 things this Monday…

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I saw this and it spoke to me (Source)

Hi friends! It’s time for another round up!

  1. Jamie Oliver has some great video tutorials for vegan meals! This one for sweet potato + white bean chilli looks simple enough but also ridiculously yummy. I’m in.
  2. Zero Waste Memoirs shares some tips on eating down the pantry and starting fresh. When you keep duplicates of tins and packets, it normally ends up being a waste of money and/or food because you can lose track. Keeping less + being creative with your food stock is the key. I found this a great read!
  3. Some news- Swedish supermarkets have started using laser marking to replace stickers on produce. I love hearing about creative ways that technology is making solutions to the problem of waste. In the words of Peter Hagg, one of the pioneers, ‘It’s small but I think it adds up’. Especially for people who have dramatically reduced their trash, these little produce stickers are annoying and unnecessary and everywhere!
  4. This super short, beautifully filmed video shows Jamie Kate Adoc’s zero waste travel kit. It’s just a collection of basic items to bring on a trip and avoid picking up disposable waste. I normally carry a canvas bag on my travels, but now I’m super inspired to put together my very own kit!
  5. LEGO have recently announced that they are investing 1 billion DKK into the ‘research, development and implementation of new, sustainable, raw materials to manufacture LEGO® elements as well as packaging materials’. YOU HEARD RIGHT! Possibly the greatest toy manufacturers ever are jumping on the eco bandwagon- there is hope for everything else too 🙂

Have a great week!

Packed lunch.

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In an attempt to save money and avoid the temptation of buying packaged things, I’ve been taking a proper packed lunch. A properly organised packed lunch! Me!

Lunch is my least favourite meal. I’ve got breakfast down, and it’s a chuck-it-all-in-the-bowl scenario so it’s easy. Dinner is the fun one, when I get to try out new things and invest my time and energy into making something I’m proud of. Lunch on the other hand… What even is lunch? Anyway, that’s a question for another time.

After working out a lunch that is sufficiently filling and easy/quick to prepare, this is my current set-up along with the products that help me avoid rubbish and plastic!

First up, I make a sandwich with the baguette I buy package-free at the market, and fill it with peanut butter and jam. I have this pouch from Keep Leaf which seals with velcro, then folds out to a handy mat so that I don’t leave crumbs wherever I’m eating (usually a desk or in the cafĂ©). I normally just brush off the crumbs and wipe the inside down with a wet cloth when I get home and it’s good to go again! It can also go through the washing machine I believe. It’s a great alternative to foil/cling film/sandwich bags which all end up in landfill.

I buy dry goods package-free every two weeks and I tend to alternate between almonds, cashews and brazil nuts. So whichever of these I have in that week, I wrap up a handful in a hanky to take with me. To tie up the hanky you simply take opposite diagonal corners and knot them together so that the ends of are laying over the remaining two corners (top right picture above). Then you make a second knot with the remaining two corners. It works a treat!

 

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Finally an apple and an orange go in. I then put all of the bits in my Keep Leaf lunchbag. Keep Leaf specialises in using organic fabric to make eco-friendly products and I think it’s  awesome. The food pouch/mat is a particular favourite and comes in useful all the time! Lunch sorted.

5 things this Monday…

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(Source)

I fell out of sync a little with posting these last few weeks, but I am back on the wagon as of now, I promise! Here are 5 things I read this week:

  1. 5 myths about sustainable fashion debunked. It’s really hard not to get the impression shopping sustainably means compromising on style or shelling out more than you usually would when the high street is presented as our only option.
  2. Laura Miller of Raw. Vegan. Not Gross’s video on healthy vegan-friendly camping recipes has got the inspiration going! This is often a scenario where the meat/animal products are everywhere you turn, but I’m now pretty excited to invent some alternatives (and steal hers, obviously).
  3. A nice introduction to the concept of eating seasonally. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but if you’re in any doubt as to what it entails, or are in need of a few pointers this is a good read. I definitely need to work on this some more..
  4. I’ve never been a massive gravy person (apart from that awesome Swedish one they serve in IKEA haha) but some of these vegetarian (and some vegan) recipes are making me salivate.
  5. This article from the Huffington Post explains that child Syrian refugees have been found to be working in textile factories that supply H&M and Next among other UK clothing stores. These are the only two that owned up according to their official inspections, however a number of stores refused to comment which says a lot about what they’re hiding.

5 things this Monday…

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(Source)

EXCITING NEWS! UK restaurant Zizzi has released a new spring menu which includes  gluten-free and vegan options for lots of meals, including PIZZAAAAA! Now to (not so) subtly redirect all friend and family gatherings there…

More random vegan news, particularly of interest to those feeling the loss of bacon from their lives- it’s early days, and it might be hard to source, but there’s a seaweed 2x healthier than kale (my one true love) that apparently tastes like bacon when cooked. You’re welcome.

A day late for actual Easter Sunday, but everyone knows chocolate eating is still socially acceptable for many weeks to come, right? I was super excited to find this vegan, palm-oil free recipe for creme eggs!

With a lot of fruits I have to be honest, I pick them up and hope for the best. This article about how  to tell when 8 fruits are at their tastiest was massively helpful. Yay to not floundering in complete darkness anymore!

The image at the top of this post is 1 of 3 depicting the devastating effects of deforestation, forest fires and melting ice caps. Beautiful and sad, but great to see artists raising awareness.

Food shopping part 1.

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Last week I bought this beautiful wicker basket which makes me feel like Little Red Riding Hood! After weeks and weeks of envying the trolleys and baskets paraded by my french neighbours, I went on a mission to a second-hand furniture warehouse thingy with the sole purpose of finding myself one of those babies. Apart from the obvious aesthetic reasons, I can vouch for the fact that my basket has made market shopping WAY better. I used to carry a couple of totes, meaning I would be constantly unhooking the straps off my shoulders and trying to organise the produce so none of it would be squashed by anything heavier. It was doable but complicated, and I could never find all my produce bags! I now feel like I have my system sorted, so without further ado… Here’s how I shop zero waste at the weekly farmers’ market in Rennes, France!

Firstly, it’s all about preparation. On Fridays, the day before market day, I plan all the meals I want to make for the week. From that list I make another list (I like lists, guys) of things I need to buy for those meals. The second part of the preparation involves lining my basket with a tea towel and filling it with mesh bags for produce, and any other containers needed. The above image shows what I took yesterday; aside from the mesh bags, I took a paper bag for dates (they’re so sticky!) and a jar for olives.

When I get to the market, I work my way through my shopping list being sure to specify ‘no bag please’ (‘sans sac s’il vous plait’) as many vendors provide paper or plastic bags and automatically fill them when you order. It took me a while to have the courage and foresight to master this, but I’m a pro now! If you ever do end up receiving something in a bag you didn’t want (happens to the best of us), just immediately empty the contents into your bag/basket and give it back to the vendor, they’re fine with it. Larger fruit and veg like broccoli, sweet potatoes and bananas I generally tend to put straight in my bag/basket loose, whereas I use my mesh bags for tomatoes, green beans, mushrooms etc. to keep them together and protected a bit. The people at the olive stand are more than happy to weigh my jar and subtract it from the end price, but before this I used to bring back the plastic container they provided me with the first time to reuse.

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Clockwise from top let: green beans (in bag), potatoes (in bag), tomatoes (in bag), carrots, kale, lettuce, broccoli

Contrary to my fears when I began to shop package-free, I’ve found market vendors to react positively to my bags (or at least indifferent, which is also fine by me!), in fact I’ve received more compliments from them than anyone else! Also, getting home and storing my purchases before returning the bags back to their place and not being left with a load of plastic is a sweet satisfaction. This week I treated myself to fresh apple juice which comes in a glass bottle that I reuse to store my rice, pasta, grains etc.

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my rather adorable bounty

As for non fruit and veg groceries, I do a second small shop on Mondays at a package-free supermarket which I will explain next week. Until then folks!

Overnight oats.

There was a time not too long ago when I could forgo breakfast (and sometimes even lunch as well) and get through the day, but everything does catch up with you at some point- less food in the morning would mean a humongous dinner and ravenous evening snacking. That almost feels a world away now, as I can’t really leave the house until I’ve well and truly fuelled up.

My fuel of choice is overnight oats. As the name suggests, it involves pouring your oats into a bowl making sure to cover them with your choice of milk or water, (I tend to opt for almond or hazelnut milk) and leaving the bowl in the fridge overnight until breakfast time. By the morning the oats are lovely and soft, and the cold nut milk makes it so refreshing! I like to add a banana and one other fruit just to give it a bit more flavour and pack in the energy. Here are the most common combinations I go for (pictured above)…

  • 1 banana + 1 clementine (+ dark chocolate chips)
  • 1 banana + 1 kiwi
  • 1 banana + 1 date (+ vanilla)
  • 1 banana + 1 handful of raisins

Note: if you forget to prep your breakfast overnight, try and leave the oats to soak for as long as you can, as they taste better and are absorbed into the body easier the longer you leave them (ideally at least half an hour, but even 5 minutes is better than nothing!)

I find overnight oats to be both light enough to eat first thing in the morning, and filling enough to energise me for HOURS! Seriously, it’s crazy.

Is it more expensive to be a vegan?

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A recent market haul

I am often told as I whip some nuts/dried fruit/a smoothie out of my bag to eat, “wow! How do you afford to eat like that all the time?” At first I thought wait a minute, how AM I doing this? Before becoming vegan or trying to buy food package free, I didn’t buy a fraction of the whole foods I now consume. I too would have looked at someone eating certain things and assumed they were rich (ha)! Here are a few observations on how I eat like I do on a student budget.

Freeing up money

Being vegan and buying food loose means that, although I don’t consider myself to be missing out (on the contrary!), there are a lot of things I used to eat that I no longer do. Meat used to be the hardest thing for me to buy- it took up so much of my weekly budget, but I would only go about 2 days a week without having it for dinner. It was a must. Now that I don’t eat it, I can use all that money to buy other things. The same goes for sweets and takeaways. I kind of had a health revelation at the same time as going vegan and realised that little by little, the packet of Haribo here and the burger there were actually making a dent in my wallet (as well as obviously making me unhealthy). Every time I crave some sweets or chocolate now, I try and get my hands on some fruit. You can get so much more for your money!

One in one out

It is completely possible to spend the same amount of money or even less than before by trading in the things you’re indifferent to/don’t like/are unhealthy. It’s a question of deciding that you are going to make it work. I was a crisp-fiend before I discovered Zero Waste, but since I found bulk dried mango, raisins and nuts in my local shop, I haven’t looked back (much)! I swapped crisps and cheese at lunch for a smoothie and some dried fruit and nuts, I swapped chocolate cereal at breakfast for oats and fruit with nut milk. It all works out about the same because for every item I’ve introduced to my diet, something else has gone.

Myths

People seem to think being healthy is much more expensive than not. Whilst in certain ways I can understand their view-point, for me it was more that I didn’t know where to look. Fruit and vegetables can be very cheap; some of my favourite go-to meals include spiralized courgettes in place of pasta, and red pepper (one pepper per person). That rivals a ÂŁ5 McDonald’s meal any day! Also, natural whole grain food registers in the body to let the brain know that the stomach is full. The more processed a food is, the less the body will be able to detect whether you have eaten enough and the less you will absorb any nutrients. A burger may well be cheaper than a vegetable stew, but when you consider that the former option will be followed up with more cravings for snacks (hence more money spent), it is overall cheaper to just fill yourself up properly in the first place.

Priorities

I have been having so much fun experimenting with vegan meals over the last few months that I have noticed my spending increase. But I’ve also come to a new decision: not to police myself on the money I spend on good food. When I go shopping, I buy what I need for the week, but I don’t allocate a budget. It works out the same-ish usually anyway. I don’t want to deny myself the opportunity to go out later in the week for a few extras for a smoothie or some snacks. Now that I am reaping the benefits of being healthy, and having struggled with eating problems in the past, I am finally ready to give food the positive place it deserves in my mind and my wallet. Before food was just another thing I had to budget for, whereas now it comes before clothes and items. It’s what keeps me alive- I need to make sure it’s good and that I can have as much as I want!

Getting creative and changing my perspective have been key to making a success of this new way of eating, and have brought excitement and positivity back to food for me.