A new speed demon….

It’s interesting to me that you can get to the ripe old age of 33 and never have done certain things which aren’t all that out of the ordinary, but just things which have never crossed your path. I mean, I guess when you think about it there are loads of these things. I’ve never abseiled, never skinny dipped, hey, I’ve never even been to Bath (I hear it’s lovely – note to self, go to Bath).

One of these illusive activities for me has been riding a motorbike. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I’d been chomping at the bit to do it, but it had always been something I would like to try. All this changed recently when I met a certain someone; the proud owner of “Be” a Yamaha XJR 1200. It wasn’t long before I went for my first ride – all the way to Ryka’s Cafe in Surrey. Talk about a thigh workout! I think I did pretty well considering!

Initial observations:

  • Illogical fear of putting the helmet on (what if I can’t get it off?!)
  • My thighs are not as strong as they need to be
  • My neck is also not as strong as it needs to be to deal with 80mph winds!
  • Immediate biker chick aspirations – must get cool gear
  • This is coooool
  • It’s not as scary as I thought
  • Helmet hair – hmm

Before I knew it, I was a convert and quite the willing pillion (get me with the lingo!) and the next trip was set – this time a the way to London for Bike Shed 2017

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What an amazing experience. So many types of fancy schmanzy bikes, accessories – you name it, they had it. I fell victim to the retail buzz pretty quickly and bagged myself an overpriced yet cool t-shirt (standard tourist move). I was schooled in the different types of engines and despite the rain, had a bloody awesome time.

Next stop was The Ace Cafe in North London, a quirky, funky hang out for the well-esteemed biker. We were there during the day but I can’t wait to head back for one of their music nights – such a cool place.
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It’s safe to say I am fast becoming a bit of a bike fan. My helmet and jacket are always at the ready and I love the freedom it gives you. Just last weekend we hopped on and nipped up to the V&A museum for an impromptu visit. Who knows where I might end up next!

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Cheeky chia

Chia seeds have always been a bit of an enigma to me. I guess I’ve been a bit of a lazy vegan, since I know they are very definitely “all the rage!” but to date, I hadn’t really looked into the benefits of them so really don’t know much about them at all. So when I was offered a chance to try some organic chia seeds and review them through the Vegan Lifestyle Association I thought now was as good a time as any to bite the bullet and find out more about these little protein wonders. 

I decided to take it one step further and buy myself a Nutri Bullet. I had been meaning to do this for a while and have read many recipes for Nutri Bullet shakes which suggest adding Chia seeds as a “boost”. Now I was committed!

The packaging which Goodyfull foods have chosen is really lovely. It screams “natural” at you, and would definitely be something that would catch my eye in a shop. I love the minimal design and the handy resealable top which keeps those tiny seeds brilliantly fresh inside. 

After doing little Nutri Bullet research, I decided to make a spinach, kale, cucumber and celery juice, with the chia seeds as a “boost”. Granted, it does look scary, but it was genuinely lovely. 

Now that I know how great these little seeds are, I’ll definitely be including them in juices and on cereal. They are a great source of protein, high in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids which are great for your heart.

With all that in mind I wish I’d known about them sooner. They are so easy to pop in drinks and cereal (and even make chia pudding with – which is my next mission!) so it’s really a no brainer, they are my new “go to”!

At £5.48 from the Goodyfull website, and the option of free delivery, what’s not to love?

This sample was sent to me free of charge through the blogger review service of the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION. I have not been paid for this review and it is my genuine and unbiased review of the product.

Platter perfection!!

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It would have been impossible not to have blogged about the recent veggie feast I devoured at Seasons in Eastbourne a few evenings ago. As a vegan, it can be really tricky eating at “rustic / country” type establishments as there is often very little choice and you are left with either side salads or at best a bland soup.

This little place, situated in the picturesque Eastbourne harbour was, happily, quite a different experience. As I usually would, I had a browse of the eclectic menu for something I could “amend” to make vegan, and was temporarily disappointed to find that there really wasn’t anything I could have. I had resigned myself to making do with just a large glass of wine (I know, boo hoo) as I asked the waitress about the “Veggie Platter”. Whilst normally I believe the Veggie Platter involves quiche, some local cheeses as well as lots of lovely veggies, once I pointed out that I “don’t do dairy”, the waitress was only too happy to speak to the kitchen and see what they could do.

What I ended up with, as you will see from the picture, was basically #veganheaven! Beans, peppers, humous, cous cous with broccoli, sweet onions….. an absolute treat.

If you live in East Sussex and haven’t yet visited Seasons, I suggest you get yourself down there asap! On a sunny day you can even sit outside and take in the views of the harbour and wile away the hours wishing you owned one of the stunning yachts moored nearby!


It is probably worth pointing out that I am not an employee or relative of the owner – just a newly avid fan! I have not been paid to sing their praises! 🙂

Call Seasons on 01323 471948

 

Fresh & Clean with Mangosteen!

I think it would be fair to say that every vegan knows the struggle of trying to find a good, reliable but most importantly NATURAL deodorant. I have to admit, I have not had much luck to date. I have tried several from various health shops and had varying results. Let’s face it, if there’s one thing you need to be able to rely on, it’s your deodorant!

So when I was offered the chance to review Native Uneathed’s Natural Crystal Deodorant with Mangosteen, I was only to happy to oblige! As a vegan and general “anything natural” lover, I wasn’t too worried about what this product might look like as long as it did the job – but for those who may be a little more concerned with aesthethics, you will be pleased to know, it looks like any other stick deodorant you would buy on the high street. In fact, it’s quite eye catching with it’s bold lettering and clear lid. I really liked that you can see the product immediately. The difference between this product and normal high street deodorants of course is that this one is completely natural. Native Unearthed is a crystal deodorant infused with Mangosteen which is a unique fruit bursting with antioxidants, nutrients and vitamin C. The Mangosteen fruit  contains a potent concentration of Xanthones, which are one of the most powerful anti-oxidants ever discovered and is also known for its anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for centuries in the Far East. Sounds too good to be true right? Think again…..!

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The first time I applied this product was in the morning, after a shower and before a normal day at work (which actually turned out to be quite manic!). The instructions are to wet the stick slightly before applying. It glides on very easily and really didn’t have a scent of it’s own, which for me isn’t a problem at all because we all know other deodorants are artificially perfumed anyway and that’s definitely something I try to steer clear of as much as possible.

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I will admit I did do a quick “armit pitstop” around lunch time to see how the deo was faring and I have to say, there was no odour! I was quite surprised since, as I said, the day did turn out to be quite fraught and there was a fair bit of running around!

The same applied when I got home. There was no odour at all and I was really happy with the product’s performance, as I continue to be as I am still using it on a daily basis. It is worth noting that this deodorant is not an “anti perspirant” so it wont actually stop you sweating. What it does do however is it leaves an invisible layer of natural minerals on your underarms which works around the clock to prevent the build up of odour causing bacteria. I am not a very sweaty person naturally so this is no problem for me. Perhaps if you sweat quite a bit, you may notice wetness more than with an antiperspirant but to be honest, I always think supressing your body’s natural processes with things like anti-perspirant can’t be the greatest of ideas.

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At £6.49, I believe Native Unearthed’s Natural Crystal Deodorant is well worth it’s price and having used mine for several weeks now, I can tell it is going to last me months!

Get yours online or at one of the stores shown here

This sample was sent to me free of charge through the blogger review service of the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION. I have not been paid for this review and it is my genuine and unbiased review of the product.

 

I was recently lucky enough to be included on a review team for Love Shea and their wonderful range of natural skincare. The product I was sent to review was their Himalayan Sea Salt and Rose Moisturising Salt Scrub, RRP £12.99

I have to admit, it had been quite some time since I had used a scrub – mainly due to the worrying environmental side to them (we have all heard the horror stories surrounding those little plastic beads!), so it is fair to say that I probably had grandma elbows (and probably knees!) when this gorgeous little pot arrived to greet me one morning.

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The product boasts hand crushed salt, which is high in minerals including magnesium, potassium and calcium, great for detoxifying the skin, encouraging skin cell restoration and reducing the signs of ageing. Other ingredients include organic virgin coconut oil, rosehip oil, rose geranium essential and lemon essential oil – it’s one of those indulgences which you don’t have to feel guilty about in more ways than one, as it is also 100% vegan friendly!

Firstly, I have to say, I was very impressed with the packaging. The product comes in a very “on trend” and practical, “kilner” style jar, which I will most definitely be using after the product has been used up. It is beautifully branded, with the font and imagery on the flyer and label, reflecting a natural and calming feeling.

The next thing to hit me, as I opened the lid of the jar, was the amazing fragrance of rose – and I really do mean amazing. It literally smells like someone has just bought you a bouquet of a dozen roses – gorgeous! I couldn’t wait to try the product, and following the instructions, I used it on damp skin in the shower. It is quite a fine grit so it doesn’t feel too harsh on the skin at all, and I have fairly sensitive skin so if I can use it, anyone can.

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My skin felt immediately smoother and actually cleaner somehow, but I did use this for several days that week I have to say by the end of the week I was very happy with the difference. I could feel a complete difference in the trouble spots, like knees and elbows – in fact I think I had forgotten my skin could feel that smooth! More than that though, I genuinely felt that by the end of the week, my skin generally had a glow to it – even my best friend noticed; I just looked healthier.

I would thoroughly recommend this product to anyone, especially if you are looking for a good quality scrub which is 100% natural and 100% vegan friendly – what could be better! You can buy this and all the other tempting Love Shea products, including body soufflé, face serums and soaps here.

This sample was sent to me free of charge through the blogger review service of the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION. I have not been paid for this review and it is my genuine and unbiased review of the product. LoveShea Skincare is listed with the VLA and offers Associates a 15% discount and you can take advantage of this here. [https://veganlifestyleassoc.com/directory-entries/loveshea-skincare/]

Maybe baby….. Maybe not

Whilst I do enjoy hearing cute stories about people’s children, I am starting to tire of people talking to me in a way that assumes there will be a point in my life when I have children myself. As I think most do, I have mostly pictured children in my future, and if you asked me right now, today, yes I would like one or two at some point. Then again, ask me next week and I may have changed my mind. I have not yet made the decision to have children and more than that, I am increasingly aware that, nature permitting, it is very much a choice, and perhaps one day I will decide not to have them. And that will need to be ok; with myself and with the rest of the world. Also, maybe I won’t be able to have children and then the choice will be taken out of my hands.

People seem to be aware of the issues and stigma affecting those who cannot have children, but not much is said about how it feels when others talk to you about “when” you have children – assuming that you want them and can have them. I say this not just for myself and about my situation, but also for the many many other combinations of situations and opinions of others. Some people may just not like being around children, some may prefer animals as “children”, some may find their life calls them to places and to make plans which simply don’t involve children.

I feel similar about being vegan actually. It’s a choice I’ve made, and since I made it, it has been eye opening to observe how most people assume that everyone else acts as they do and believes what they do. “What…. You don’t eat meat or have dairy?!!…. What do you eat?!!” The idea that there is another way, is often too much for people to comprehend – and of course, must be for weirdos (not for compassionate people of course – that’s a whole other blog!)

I often hear people say that not having children is something people regret when they get old. I find that quite assumptious, and quite offensive actually. As an only child, I often worry about being “old and alone”, but that fear alone is not a reason to have children. That would be like saying “oh phew, now you exist so I won’t be on my own”. I’m sure it is a lovely feeling to know that you have children who will be there for you when you’re old and infirm, but I wish people would think twice about pointing that out as a reason that someone should consider having children, because as I said, you never know someone’s feelings, reasons or history.

I cannot predict the future, nor would I want to, so I don’t like the feeling of social pressure that comes from others assuming that children are definitely in my future. Right now, I hope they are. But if not, I don’t want to be made to feel that my life is less full than theirs, because who knows what any of our futures hold.

Clean, green and in my (washing) machine!

I always try, with everything I buy, to get the most “green”, most eco-friendly version there is. In my first year of being vegan, I have been trying even harder to be green, just because I am so much more aware of the need for it now. Laundry detergent has always made me feel bad when I pick it up in the grocery store – I just feel guilty that it’s going into the water, but it’s one of those products which has become something we really rely on, and the idea of an “alternative” just brings back images of the stone age. Detergent is convenient, relatively cheap and pretty essential.

So when I was offered the chance to try Planet Pure’s new certified organic laundry liquid – I jumped at the chance. For a while now I have been looking for a reliable, non-toxic replacement for my every day laundry liquid – but having grown so accustomed to liquids that wash clothes so well, I was worried I would have to settle for something a little “second rate”. How wrong I was! (and what a relief!).

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Planet Pure who have been around since 1999 believe that humans may live in harmony with nature and the environment without exploiting and destroying it. Perfect, me too!! The company use only sustainable components in their products with ingredients such as tea saponin, soapwort, and soapnut which are extracted through a careful process with pure mountain water from the Pfänder region in western Austria. Even better for us eco geeks, their products are easily broken down 100% by nature; the detergents even break down as much as 98% within some hours!

Planet Pure kindly sent me a 510ml bottle of their Fresh Lavender, certified organic, laundry liquid, along with a 50ml bottle of Fresh Orange stain remover (you can buy them both here). The laundry liquid bottle is partially transparent and on first glance, the liquid is a sort of brownish orangey colour. It would be easy to be put off by this but it goes to show you should never judge a book by it’s cover. As soon as I opened the lid, the smell was amazing! I love lavender anyway, but this was like putting your head in a lavender bush! Absolutely wonderful! In my opinion, we have grown too used to things being artificially coloured and thinking that is the “norm”. There is nothing at all wrong with something in it’s natural form and I for one massively prefer it. No chemicals – phew!

I was not disappointed by the liquid’s performance either. As you can see from the picture above, I have been using it regularly since it arrived and it has been brilliant. In fact, the stain remover managed to lift a particularly tricky stain caused by a spoonful of baked beans escaping me! One thing which was a noticeable difference between this product and my usual supermarket brand was that it did not froth up as much. Planet Pure have explained to me that they made a conscious choice to leave out the chemical foam enhancers that most supermarket brands use, as they do not have a cleaning effect per se, and just give the illusion that the product is effective (those sneaky big name brands! Who knew!). Using a lot less foam, in turn helps to save water during the rinsing process. Eco geniuses!

The way I see it, if there is a product which does a great job and doesn’t damage the environment, what could be better? This is something we should all aspire to in all aspects of our lives. I have not got a bad word to say about Planet Pure Laundry Liquid, and I am very much looking forward to making it part of my regular shop!

This sample was sent to me free of charge through the blogger review service of the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION. I have not been paid for this review and it is my genuine and unbiased review of the product.

“Parmesan” Perfection with Good Carma

Flavour Fusion RRP £4.95 + P&P from Good Carma [available in some UK stockists already] – See more here.

I have been looking for a good vegan substitute for parmesan for a long time – so when the Vegan Lifestyle Association approached me to review a new dairy free, parmesan style cheese alternative, it really was a no brainer! Good Carma, is the brainchild of Charlotte Bates, a passionate vegan who started the company in the summer of 2013 in honour of her mother who died from bowel cancer earlier that year. Charlotte has produced a range of cheese style alternative products called Flavour Fusion, and I for one could not be more excited! The products are made to be suitable for dairy free, wheat free and gluten free diets and include just a few carefully selected ingredients including Himalayan Pink Salt which is packed with over 80 minerals, nutritional yeast (which has added vitamin B12 (a vitamin fairly tough to come by on a vegan diet) and almonds, which amongst their other benefits, are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease.

As soon as the box arrived I could practically smell the lasagne I was going to make with it’s perfectly crisp topping (having done without cheese topping on lasagne for far too long!). The packaging design is sleek and eye catching, with colours representing each of the three colours currently available: Original, Chilli and Garlic.

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I wasted no time in making my lasagne and was excited to make it for my family too, who are meat eaters but open to everything vegan. I decided to use the garlic flavour as I thought it would compliment the meal well. When I had layered up my other vegan ingredients (egg free pasta, “free from” sauces and egg free soya mince, all readily available in most supermarkets), I opened up the shaker style pot and the product same out very easily, spreading very nicely over my lasagne.

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I cooked the meal for around 40 minutes at 200c and when I removed it from the oven, just as I had hoped, the Flavour Fusion had crisped up the top layer very nicely, making it a lovely golden brown.

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The taste certainly wasn’t overpowering – my family are not big garlic eaters so they would have had something to say if it was! It tasted perfect, just like the parmesan toppings I would have had prior to becoming vegan. The meal was a real hit with everyone and everyone agreed there really was no difference – no one would have known it wasn’t parmesan. A yummy, guilt free meal #success!

I am thrilled to now have a product I can use just like a parmesan and not have to “miss out” when meals call for it. What’s more, it has a 6 month shelf life and can be stored at room temperature. I feel that this is what I would class as a “no excuse” product, with the knowledge we now have about the dairy industry and it’s brutality, not to mention the health implications  of dairy foods, what reason is there not to use an alternative when companies such as Good Carma are now making it so easy for us? I challenge any non vegans out there to say otherwise!

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Flavour Fusion is stocked at selected retailers, but perhaps the easiest way to get this product in your life is to check out their online store.

This sample was sent to me free of charge through the blogger review service of the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION. For more information please see https://veganlifestyleassoc.com/directory-entries/goodcarma-foods/ I have not been paid for this review and it is my genuine and unbiased review of the product.

Meet the new non-meat called “Mheat”!!

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Mheat Original RRP £3.75 + P&P from Sgaia Foods [available in some UK stockists already] – See more at: https://veganlifestyleassoc.com/5873-2/#sthash.pFAiMpLA.dpuf

I was beside myself with glee when my package of “Mheat” arrived. “Mheat”? I hear you cry…don’t you mean “meat”, well no, no I don’t! “Mheat” is a brand new plant based product, created by genius Italian couple Hilary and Alberto of Sgaia Foods, who moved to the UK in 2011. Hilary and Alberto are well aware that most people see plant-based products as being “free from” everything – including pleasure, and set about creating a product which in their own words is deliciously “full-of”! Full of natural ingredients, full of nutrients, full of taste and full of originality.

Us vegans are frequently up against it when it comes to battling opinions which believe that to be vegan is to give up a lot of pleasures and cultural norms. Sgaia Foods are here to change all that with the first product in their Italian, plant-based range – Mheat. Mheat is a plant based take on the very popular, originally Asian food: seitan. Seitan which is a food made with the gluten extracted from wheat. This is even better – it’s virtually fat-free and made of protein – now I for one know that anything virtually fat free at this time of year is a very good idea for me, to compensate for the fat-FULL party season!

The box is beautifully branded, and the product itself is vacuum packed which gives it a very professional finish. For those who like their plant-based alternatives to look as “meaty” as possible, this certainly does. Infact, I would challenge anyone to notice it was anything other than meat. I loved the fact that the product came with a suggested recipe card in the box. I decided for this reason, to go ahead and make the suggested recipe – Mheat and Mushrooms Alla Piastra.

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When I opened the pack, the Mheat was soft-ish in texture and smelled lovely right away. Mheat is ready to eat right from the pack, so I took a taste before I started cooking. It tasted lovely and I could definitely imagine it in a sandwich or on a salad – in fact, I saved a small amount for that reason!

Once I started cooking the Mheat in olive oil and soy sauce, it gradually browned off, just as meat would and smelled delicious!

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I knew it was ready when it firmed up a little and I then added onions, peppers and mushrooms – by this point everyone in my house wanted to know what I was cooking (and I am the only vegan so I was happy to let them know!).

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I decided to serve my Mheat with savoury rice and I have to say, it was genuinely one of the most scrumptious meals I have had in ages – and so simple to cook! The taste is rich and fulfilling and definitely has an Asian twist to it. I am thrilled that Mheat is starting to make an appearance in the UK and will definitely be seeking it out as a regular addition to my weekly shop!

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This sample was sent to me free of charge through the blogger review service of the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION. For more information please see  https://veganlifestyleassoc.com/directory-entries/mheat-sgaia-foods/ I have not been paid for this review and it is my genuine and unbiased review of the product.

 

 

Chease Fest!!

Mmmmmm CHEASE :))  image

I have recently moved from long term Vegetarian, to Vegan. To some, this may seem like a reasonably expected transition, but to be honest, it wasn’t something I ever gave much thought to until I recently discovered the horrifying truths of the dairy industry. I could talk for hours about it, but that’s a whole other blog…..

By chance, I heard about VegFest, which was taking place at the Brighton Centre and I thought it looked like a good day out…… Understatement of the century!! There were so many amazing reasons to love VegFest, and here are but a few….

  • Everything there was 100% vegan, so no worries about whether you should eat it, smell it, touch it, like it….. It was all guilt free – such a treat!
  • Cooking demos, knowledgeable people, petitions to sign.
  • A whole food hall of more lunch choices than any of us had had in a loooong time!
  • Like-minded people – no fear of someone overhearing you saying something “too vegan” or looking at you like you were crazy for getting excited at the sheer volume of things it is possible to make from cashew nuts!! Which leads me very nicely on to……
  • CHEASE!!!

No, I haven’t misspelled it, this is not gross, made-from-milk-stolen-from-baby-cows cheese I’m talking about, but CHEASE…… The new found #loveofmylife !!!! Chease is made by TyneChease and is an artisanal cultured, 100% plant based, organic, gluten free, nut based….. well, cheese! Now before you all start judging, even I would admit to having been pretty sceptical towards non-dairy cheese when I went vegan. The first one I tried made me want to cry as it was such a let down. What Tyne Chease have managed to do though, is create a product so rich and perfect in texture that I would honestly challenge anyone to tell its not the “real thing” (who would want the “real thing” anyway, once you know the truth – arrrrgh I digress…. for another blog, for another blog!!). This is proper, Christmas cheese platter, cheese and wine – CHEASE!! The picture above gives you a good idea of what Chease looks like – flavours include: Garlic and Herb, Ale and Mustard, Sundried Tomato, Cranberry Za’atar Roule, Soft Macadamia and (my personal fave) Apricot. So, if you hadnt already guessed, Tyne Chease rocks and you should most definitely get yourself some! Launching in May, products will be available online and at alternative stores. You can contact Tyne Chease in the usual 21st century ways…. @TYNECHEASE http://www.facebook.com/tynechease or info@tynechease.com

Tyne Chease kindly sent me the pics I have used in this blog 🙂