Super Simple Vegan Flapjack

On Sunday I’m hosting a Swap Shop to raise money for Labour Behind the Label (details of the event can be found here) and for the occasion I’m baking a whole load of sweet stuff. One of the easiest pieces, which I’ve just made, is a vegan flapjack.

Here is the recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

METHOD:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and grease a 28cmx18cm baking tray, lining with baking paper
  • Put the spread, brown sugar and golden syrup into a pan on medium heat and mix until the spread and sugar dissolves
  • Remove the pan from the heat, add the porridge oats and sultanas and mix until they are fully coated
  • Press the mixture into the baking tray
  • Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown
  • Let the flapjack cool in the tray for 5 minutes then turn it out from the tray and let it cool on a cooling rack
  • Cut into squares, and voila! Done.

Cheap, easy and super simple to make. The flapjacks can also last for up to a week in a container. Perfect for my Swap Shop. And the crumbly bits off the side, I can enjoy now!

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What is a Flexitarian?

At the start of the year I took part in Veganuary. Then for Lent I gave up meat.

I enjoyed being veggie so much that I extended my non-meat eating period until a weekend in Berlin where lots of beer weakened my resistance to currywurst (oops). Since then I have only been eating meat on the odd occasion.

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It turns out eating meat ‘on the odd occasion’ is actually a thing. It’s called flexitarianism.

Described as vegetarians with benefits, flexitarians are people whose diet is mostly vegetarian but sometimes includes meat. Many vegetarians and vegans consider flexitarianism as cheating, but research shows that the diet just might be one of the best ways to reduce environmental impact and improve health.

Mostly my diet contains no meat but I now allow myself an exception if I really fancy some when I’m eating out or I know that it is good quality.

For example last week I was working in London. On Tuesday evening I had Moroccan food, lots of tasty veggie mezze at Oasis in East Finchley. Then on Wednesday I went to Flat Iron in Soho for one of their famous steaks because I knew it was going to be a) good quality b) ethically sourced from their own herd in Yorkshire and b) absolutely delicious!

Personally I think giving this way of eating a title is abit silly. I can however vouch that having this type of diet certainly comes with benefits.

Benefits of being flexitarian:

  • Less meat = less cost – meaning more money left to spend on good quality meat when you fancy it instead of processed or chemically enhanced
  • Improved health – it’s a win-win as you still get the protein that comes from eating meat occasionally but also have the nutritional benefits from a plant based diet
  • Reduced environmental impact – livestock requires more food, water, land and energy to grow and transport than plants

Next week I’ll post some of my favourite  veggie recipes for you to try. But for now, I’m off work and heading out into the sunshine to kick start my bank holiday weekend with a delicious brekkie from The Farm in Harrogate.

Have a gooden! x

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Ethical Food Shop

As someone who absolutely loves food, but wants to buy and eat a product that is sustainable and safe, is from a company that looks after its employees and does not damage the environment, I was very much looking forward to Ethical Consumer Magazine’s latest issue.

Every issue Ethical Consumer focuses on a specific area, in which they investigate brands and products and publish their findings alongside an ethical rating. Their May/June issue brought focus to supermarkets and food.

I am under no illusion that supermarkets are an ‘ethical’ way to buy food. Personally I try where possible to buy from the local grocer, market, butcher or baker. However sometimes, for convenience and cost there is simply no other way to do a food shop than to head to the nearest Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op or Aldi.

supermarkEthical Consumer assessed the supermarkets on environment, animals, people and politics to generate an ethiscore. Their full range of products sold, company policies and strategies were reviewed.

As you can see, none of them scored very highly.  The highest being the Co-op with 5.5/20.

Specific findings on animal welfare, climate change, cocoa, cotton, fish, palm oil and timber were detailed in the article.

Did you know that all the cocoa in Co-op brand products will be Fairtrade by 27th May?

Did you know that only 2% of Morrisons fish is MSC-labelled compared to 72% at Sainsbury’s?

As their findings are pretty disheartening Ethical Consumer goes on to explain what the alternatives are. Shopping at a wholefood shops, farmers markets or ordering veg boxes.

If we are to keep shopping at supermarkets, the next best thing to do is buy ethical products from their stores.

Here are some of my favourite products with an Ethical Consumer review:

  • Baked beans – I count myself as abit of a baked bean conosoir. I just love em! Branston tend to be my go-to. And that is why I was gutted to find Branston only have a 4.5 rating. Geo Organics and Mr Organic were found to be the best with a score of 17/20! I will be giving these the taste test and let you know how it goes.

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  • Bananas – I eat a banana every day and always buy Fairtrade. Ethical Consumer’s ‘best buy’ is to go to supermarkets that only sell Fairtrade (Co-op, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s). For non-supermarket bananas Eko Oke is the best as they are Fairtrade and Organic, however I don’t think I have ever seen one of these in an independent shop. Below is a ‘banana split’ showing where the sale of a non-Fairtrade banana is distributed, shockingly workers only receive 7% of the bananas cost. For me, the best advice is to carry on buying Fairtrade.

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  • Coconut oil – I use coconut oil for all sorts. Not just for cooking but for my nails, face, hair and teeth. The brand I use is Lucy Bee’s (scoring 18/20). Sourced from Sri Lanka the oil is unrefined, extra virgin, Fair Trade, organic and raw. And personally, I love it.

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I hope this has helped in some way. If you have any suggestions on how to do an ethical food shop, please comment! x

Easter Weekend – Adventures on the Doorstep

I very rarely get to spend a weekend at home, nevermind a bank holiday weekend. That is why this Easter was very special as I got to spend it at home with my nearest and dearest exploring what is on my doorstep.

Despite having lived in the East Midlands now for about four years I’ve rarely had the time, or not made the time, to explore what the local area has to offer. This weekend I began to scratch the surface.

My Easter weekend started early as I took Thursday off from work for my sister’s birthday (HAPPY 25TH FIONA!!!!).

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We spent the daytime eating and drinking in Nottingham. I finally got to experience Annie’s Burger Shack which definitely lived up to it’s reputation. Annie’s has an amazing burger menu, in which every dish can be done meaty, vegan or veggie.

Then as my birthday present to Fiona we went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night at the Theatre Royal. Having previously read the book myself, it was probably quite a selfish gift. The play was a success. It told the story really well, making you appreciate how an autistic boy lives. I’d definitely recommend reading the book or going to see the play.

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We stayed over in Nottingham and on Friday morning decided to not waste the day away looking round shops at things we didn’t want to buy. Instead we ventured to the well hidden City of Caves. Who knew underneath the shops and pubs were over 600 man made sandstone caves?! I certainly didn’t until we painstakingly managed to find them. Heads up Nottingham… you should shout about this more!

After the Caves we had a nice walk up to Nottingham Castle. Again, we were completely unaware that Nottingham had a castle! It’s a beautiful area of the city, full of Robin Hood history.

Saturday was spent being productive. I did a 5k park run at Conkers beating my previous time by two whole minutes (buzzin!!). I then had a good ole spring clean of the flat. Finished off reading Dawn O’Porter’s The Cows (blog post to follow on this great read) and then went out for a couple of drinks in Ashby with Rob.

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On Sunday I took Barney out for a walk with Rob to Carsington Water. We packed up a little picnic and set out for a nice 8 miler.

Finally today I went with my mam, dad, sister and Barney to Mercia Marina for a walk along Willington canal  with a stop off at The Dragon for lunch.

I have thoroughly enjoyed a long weekend at home. I’ve managed to have a proper catch up with close family, get some much needed fresh air and see what the East Midlands has to offer. The rest of this precious time off work is now going to be spent eating chocolate and watching films. #lazydays

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If you live in the area and know of any other fun days out I can sample, please let me know.

Happy Easter x

Ethical Easter Eggs

My best mate Antoinette asked me a few weeks ago if I’d do a post on ethical Easter eggs, so off I went and searched for some to sample.

I looked in Liberty London and Ethical Superstore and came up with the below short list:

Plamil Dairy Free ‘Milky’ Chocolate Easter Egg

Booja Booja Almond & Sea Salt Caramel Easter Egg

Moo Free Organic & Dairy Free Orange Chocolate Easter Egg with Buttons

Divine White Chocolate Easter Egg

Last night me and my sister Fiona sat down and tasted and reviewed them all.

Here are the results from the session:

  Plamil Dairy Free ‘Milky’ Chocolate Easter Egg – 85g Booja Booja Almond & Sea Salt Caramel Easter Egg – 34.5g Moo Free Organic & Dairy Free Orange Chocolate Easter Egg with Buttons – 120g  Divine White Chocolate Easter Egg – 55g
Price £3.99 (£4.69 per 100g) £10.40 (£30.14 per 100g) £4.25 (£3.54 per 100g) £2.95 (£5.36 per 100g)
Fairtrade Yes No No Yes
Organic Yes Yes Yes No
Vegan Yes Yes Yes No

Gluten free

Yes Yes Yes No
Anna taste ranking 4th 2nd 3rd 1st
Fiona taste ranking 4th 3rd 2nd 1st
Overall ranking 3rd 4th 1st 2nd
Comments Good value for money, great ethics, just unfortunately not the best tasting. The hand painted container is a nice touch and the chocolate leaves a great after taste. It is just way too pricey for what you get. Great value for money, very tasty and it has good ethics!

Best tasting out of the lot, it would have come first were it organic.

I’m not usually a huge fan of vegan chocolate, however the three I tried here really surprised me. I mean Moo Free won the challenge… it can’t of been that bad!

I hope these reviews have helped, let me know what you think and if you’ve found any other ethical Easter eggs to recommend.

Happy Easter! x

 

5 Feel Good Tips

This year I’ve really tried to focus on feeling better about myself. I’d like to share with you a few things that have helped.

  1. Becoming veggie – At the start of the year I tried Veganuary, and failed miserably. I just missed eggs and chocolate too much! However, what I didn’t miss was meat. On March 1st I cut meat out of my diet. I’ve been eating more vegetables, trying different things and I feel much leaner.
  2. Mess is stress – I’ve decluttered my wardrobe, shelves and bookcase giving a lot to charity. At work I cleaned out my drawers and desk. It’s amazing what you hoard that has absolutely no use. Having a clear space to work and live also clears your head.
  3. Fitness classes – The good old gym membership that was coming out of my bank every month and not getting used has started to get used. Going to yoga and cardio & core classes every week means less time munching and slobbing on the couch and a full hour without mobile phone interruptions to just focus on myself.
  4. Banish reality TV – Instead of watching trashy tele (sorry Geordie Shore) watch something of substance. And if you can’t find anything of substance, don’t watch it at all! Bake something, go for a walk, call a friend, read a book, listen to music. Over the years I’ve been addicted to Brendan’s tash in Hollyoaks, tashin’ on in G Shore and salty potatoes in TOWIE and since giving it up I’ve not looked back. My spare time is now much more enjoyable.unnamed (33)
  5. Walking – With a desk job it becomes the norm to sit in the same spot all day long and not take a lunch-break. Now every lunchtime, if it isn’t raining too badly and I don’t have any meetings, I take a 40 minute walk. It’s a good bit of exercise slotted into the day and it gives you a much needed break from the computer screen.

Let me know if you have any tips to feeling good, would be great to hear from you!

Veganuary Pledge

I love a challenge, and have been toying with the idea of cutting down on meat in my diet for some time now. So, what better way to start than by doing Veganuary?

Throughout January I will try to not eat any animal produce. For those that know me, this will be difficult. Every morning I put milk in my tea and porridge. Every week I eat pasta, eggs and cake. Every month I have steak, fried chicken or chilli beef.  All this dairy and meaty food, I love!

Why would I even consider trying vegan?

Eating animal produce, as much as it is tasty, comes at a cost. In simple terms:

  • Animals suffer
  • Some animal produce can be full of saturated fat
  • Rearing animals produces lots of green-house-gases, pollution and uses lots of carbon and water

For these reasons, I will give Veganuary a go. Throughout the month I will post recipes and provide an update on how I am coping. If you are also doing Veganuary, or are vegan, please share any tips you have. I fear I will need all the help I can get!

In the meantime, I will be eating as much pork, beef, turkey, pigs in blankets, and smoked salmon as possible over Christmas to get the craving out of my system.

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