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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Bring Back the Bees – Burt’s Bees

Since the late 1990s, beekeepers around the world have observed a dramatic decline in bees.

Bees make more than honey. They are key to food production because they pollinate crops, a third of the food that we eat depends on pollinating insects.

The main reasons for global bee decline:

  • loss of biodiversity and destruction of habitats
  • increase in pesticides and insecticides
  • climate change

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Burt’s Bees, along with making delicious lipsticks, are dedicated to help prevent the bee decline by donating 10% of all purchases to the British Beekeepers Association. On top of this at the moment they have a limited edition lip balm. Where every balm bought, 5,000 bee friendly wildflower seeds are planted.

The balm is coconut and pear flavour made from beeswax and shea butter. I’ve always been a fan of Burt’s Bees, and this one might actually be a new favourite.

At £3.99, go grab one! #bringbackthebees

Beautiful Bank Holiday in Berlin

This time last week I was begrudgingly returning to work following a long weekend in Berlin (which now seems a lifetime ago). Having visited the city just last March, this trip’s aim was to practice our German ‘skills’, see the sights we didn’t manage to see last time and to experience some of the cool suburbs Berlin has to offer.

Whilst there we racked up a daily average of 27,000 steps. But do not fear, the calories burnt were soon topped up with booze and food.

Friday night after lots of German beer in Neukölln we headed to the Quasimodo jazz club in Charlottenburg to see Alexandra Savior perform. She was good, but as often happens didn’t even play our favourite song Shades!

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Saturday was spent mooching round the many vintage and independent shops. My will power somehow miraculously kicked in stopping me from spending a fortune on a beautiful handmade belt from Hoffnung or on a new pair of brogues from Zeha. That evening we hit Torstraße, having a different gin in each place and returning to our favourite smoky cocktail bar – Neue Odessa.

Berlin has a huge hipster scene. After watching a Rick Stein programme earlier in the year where he visited Berlin and called every cool place he entered ‘noir’, we also began calling these hipsters ‘noir’ and created a ‘noir scale’.

Sunday morning we ticked off the Reichstag from the tourist list. We’d booked to do this tour of the German parliament buildings last time but were too hungover to turn up. That was silly of us because I definitely recommend doing it, the views are amazing and you get a great overview of Berlin’s history, so make sure to pre-book before your visit and pick up the audio guide. Final pointer on this… it is FREE!

For lunch we headed to Kreuzberg for a famous Burgermeister and then crossed the Spree to the East Side Gallery to look at the graffiti and umpteen selfies being taken on the Berliner Mauer (wall).

On our way back to the hotel I was determined to find a Photoautomat machine just like Richard Ayoade in Travel Man. Nearly making the full journey back to Alexanderplatz and not finding a machine we decided to follow a ‘noir’ looking fellow to see what cool place he was heading to. This ‘noir’ chap all of a sudden dipped off the path under some old bits of wood, so we followed. On the other side of the wood stood what I’d been looking for, a Photoautomat machine! There was also a mini beach, fire pit, food huts, a bar and Bob Dylan blasting from the speakers. Holzmarkt was an amazing find.

Berlin, once again you were a blast. See you next year! x

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

Winter Travels

I’ve been extremely lucky this year to have already gone on two holidays. Visiting new places and doing new things is really important to me. There is a whole world out there with different food, buildings, history, scenery and lifestyle that should be experienced.

For the past two Christmases me and my sister have not bought each other a present, but instead booked a long weekend away. Last year we went to Budapest and this January we visited Warsaw.

In Warsaw we stayed in the most amazing apartment (Old Town Snug), we arrived quite late and the apartment owner Chris had stayed up to welcome us and give us a great overview of what to do in the city. I’d definitely recommend staying at Old Town Snug if you were to visit Warsaw, it was great value for money, in the best location and the facilities were top notch.

Whilst there we went to many museums. Both of us have a big interest in the World Wars and it was devastating to learn what happened in Warsaw. During WWII 85% of buildings were destroyed, knowing this when exploring the city was fascinating because Old Town looks very authentic, however it is only about 40 years old. Whilst there we sampled plenty of the local delicacies. Everything was so so cheap! Which is quite lethal when it comes to vodka and pierogi (dumplings)…

After a fun weekend in Warsaw with Fiona  I then had another break to look forward to. Earlier this month I went skiing with my family and some friends to Cervinia in Italy and it was a brand new experience for me having never skied before!

Landing in Turin airport we took a coach on winding roads up the Alps to the resort. The surroundings were absolutely beautiful. Once we had booked ourselves on Ski School and collected our gear we were all set to hit the slopes. Every day after Ski School we would all convene in the bar, have a hot chocolate, aperol spritz or peroni and listen to each others’ tales of what mile per hour we got up to or how hard we fell. By the end of the week the skiing and all inclusive bar and buffet was taking it’s toll on our bodies. I’d had so much fun but was kind of looking forward to returning home for a detox and a little less exercise.

Whenever I return from holiday I like to have the next lined up. It keeps me going knowing that there is another adventure around the corner. Luckily me and Rob have Berlin booked for the end of April. A chance to see the places we missed on our trip there last year and practice our German.

Any suggestions for cool places to visit are more than welcome xxx