Beauty | The VeganKind Beauty Box 7

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May means The VeganKind beauty box time! I know it’s now July, and the next box will be coming out in a month’s time, but I’m a bit behind with blogging as I have so many other things to do now that sitting down for half an hour to put together a post is almost impossible, let alone taking pictures. I don’t want to fill the blog up with low-quality filler content, so infrequent posting it is for the time being! 


This month’s box was beautifully curated for spring. The colours, scents and ingredients of the products are perfect for the warmer months and I’ve really enjoyed using most of them.

First up was a Grounded hair mask. I have to be honest, this was the first product from a TVK Beauty Box that I really didn’t like. I followed the instructions on the pack, but ended up having to shampoo my hair three times afterwards to keep it from looking like a greasy mess. It was nice and soft once I finally managed to get the product out, though.

PHB Anti-Aging Eye Gel was next. I’ve only tried this once, but I feel like I should probably start using it a lot more, since motherhood seems to have aged me a fair bit. It was very easy to apply and my skin was soft and moisturised afterwards.

My absolute favourite item in the box was the Fairypants lip scrub. It smells exactly like lemon drizzle cake and leaves your mouth beautifully exfoliated. 

The only real ‘makeup’-type product in the box was a little tub of loose pigment by AlvaI have yet to give this a whirl, but the colour looks beautiful and it’s supposed to be really versatile!

Finally, there was a sachet of Twa Burds rose epsom salts. I used this almost immediately and it was absolutely perfect! The smell was luxurious, floral and relaxing, and the epsom salts helped with my permanently aching muscles which, between running, lifting and carrying around a 20-pound baby, never get a rest anymore.

Overall, this was a fantastic box, and I can’t wait to see what next month brings!

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#EUref | The EU-Referendum & Animal Welfare

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In this month’s edition of Vegan Life Magazine, there’s a feature on the upcoming EU Referendum. Even though I’m not allowed to vote, I believe that it is absolutely imperative for the UK to remain within the Union for a really long list of reasons. I won’t go into all of them here, because we’d be here all week, but I do want to touch on the issue of animal rights on the back of this particular article.

The Vegan Life article is as balanced as you can be in this debate, letting both sides present their arguments. I really do urge you to read the entire article, because it’s very interesting, but for the purpose of this post, I want to zoom into one particular issue. The article quotes the Conservative farming minister, who says that, after a Brexit, they would put in place a scheme that would “include measures that improve animal welfare”.

Bull. Shit. 

Do you actually believe that a party that has shown nothing but contempt for human life worth less than 50k p.a. is going to make ANY effort to increase animal welfare? That a government that openly supported lifting the ban on fox hunting is suddenly going to turn around and implement animal welfare standards that it “couldn’t do before because EU/red tape”? That a movement headed by Boris, whose admittedly snigger-worthy haircut is just further proof of just how little respect he has for his position and his electorate, and Nigel, whose arsehole-factor is too great to even start to discuss here, is going to even make a half-arsed attempt at promoting animal welfare? I’ll say it again.

Bull. Shit.

I’ll be the first to admit that the EU is not perfect, on animal welfare issues or any other topic. Its livestock export policies, for instance, are abysmal. But it has also implemented a ban on animal testing for cosmetics, which is a welcome improvement and a sentiment that we can continue to build on. And, with a review of the EU Common Agricultural Policy coming up in 2017 (a fact which has been largely ignored when Brexiters make agriculture-based arguments, quelle surprise), campaigns have already launched to lobby for lasting improvements. Have a look at Oatly‘s petition, for one. There is significant potential for positive change, if only we cared enough to get involved.

The UK wants to continue trading with the EU, even in the case of a Brexit. This would mean that it would have to continue accepting EU regulations, but have no voice in their creation. This includes animal agriculture policies. Leaving the EU, realistically, would be unlikely to achieve any UK-led improvement in animal welfare.

Really, this is just another example of how the Brexit campaign is based on lies and deceit. Don’t fall for it. Don’t vote out.

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Disclaimer: I receive the digital version of Vegan Life Magazine free of charge in exchange for a blog feature. The opinions presented in this piece are my own and not representative of Vegan Life Magazine.

P.S. The rocky road slices are Lazy Days Foods, available in the Free From section of most supermarkets. You need them in your life, trust me.

Food | Hardware-Shopping

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Just a quick post to say I’ll be back to regular content soon. We’ve been struggling with a nasty virus for the past three weeks and to top things off, my laptop has died at the worst possible time, so proper blogging is impossible at the moment. I’m hoping to get it fixed on Sunday. Until then, enjoy some photos from our last venture to our favourite cafe ever, the  Old Hardware Shop!

Diet | Budget Clean Snacks #1

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I know people always argue that a healthy lifestyle isn’t expensive if you focus on home-cooked foods and avoid high-end convenience snacks and trend-foods, and that’s completely true. I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for snacks and new products, though, and now that I’m a mama I’ve been reaching for snacks more frequently than ever – partly because they’re convenient and quick and partly because breastfeeding makes me hungry as hell. Since we’re on a budget, I’m always trying to hunt down items that won’t break the bank, but are interesting enough to keep me from getting bored. With this in mind, I’m starting a new series where I’ll feature budget-friendly/0n-sale items that are currently available in shops.

For this first post, I’m featuring a load of products I found in Aldi. I used to be a bit of an Aldi snob because, in my part of Germany, Aldi is kind of gross. But after my sister-in-law kept recommending it, I finally got myself to set foot into our local store and, surprise, it’s actually really well-stocked, has a good selection of fresh produce and appears to have an expanding selection of health and whole foods. Exciting.

This week, I picked up four little packets of trail mix, which they sell in a few different varieties. A word of caution: they look like single serving packets, but actually contain just under three portions… I still eat a whole one in one go, because I have no self control, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I also bought some stevia-and-lactitol sweetened chocolate with quinoa crisps. This is amazing, almost like a vegan toblerone and I hope it will become part of their regular range, as it was a special buy. Don’t eat the whole bar though, lactitol can act as a laxative and your tummy might end up being rather unhappy!

Trek Bars and Bounce Energy Balls were also a recent special buy and, at least in our shop, are currently on sale. I keep stocking up when I go in! Not all varieties of the energy balls are vegan, though, so check the ingredients to make sure there isn’t any whey protein.

Finally, these Chilli Rice Snacks are a fantastic crisp alternative and I adore them. I’m not even ashamed, I’m genuinely excited about a glorified rice cake. These will definitely be landing in my trolley again. And again. And again.

What are your favourite budget healthy(ish) snacks, and where do you buy them? Let me know in the comments!

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Recipe | Really Simple Carrot Cake

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Last week, I really needed to do something with our leftover carrots. I opted for carrot cake, because everyone knows I love cake, but didn’t really have a recipe to suit my needs. So I adapted one from Isa Does It, which was originally for a Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake. Since I do everything domestic on the fly these days, I couldn’t be bothered to make an icing, and forgot to add spices. The result was a surprisingly tasty, stripped-down version of carrot cake, with icing from a can. Still interested? Here’s the recipe.

Really Simple Vegan Carrot Cake

Serves 6
A delicious and fluffy basic carrot cake recipe.


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Cook Time
50 min

Total Time
1 hr 10 min

Cook Time
50 min

Total Time
1 hr 10 min

Ingredients
  1. 200g carrots
  2. 80g plain flour
  3. 100g spelt flour
  4. 30g cornflour
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  7. 1 pinch of sale
  8. 70g sugar
  9. 110g apple puree
  10. 90ml milk
  11. 60ml oil
  12. 1 tsp vanilla
  13. 1 can or recipe of your favourite vegan frosting.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Shred your carrots in a food processor, or by hand if that’s how you roll.
  3. Combine the flours, cornflour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  4. Add the apple puree, milk, oil and vanilla into the centre of your dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Fold the carrots into your cake batter.
  6. Spray a small bundt pan with oil and add the batter.
  7. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  8. Let cool and frost with your favourite icing.
Notes
  1. This makes a half-sized bundt tin cake. Double the recipe if you are using a regular-sized bundt tin.
  2. Icing a cake that hasn’t cooled completely is usually a no-no. However, if you frost this while it’s still slightly warm and let the excess icing drip off onto a plate, you end up with a gorgeously smooth finish.
Adapted from Isa Does It
Adapted from Isa Does It
Moving Scouse http://movingscouse.co.uk/

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Parenting | 5 Thoughts for Parents of Vegan Teens

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Images from Vegan Life Magazine

In this month’s Vegan Life Magazine, there’s an article about the fantastic Teen VGN organisation, which got me thinking about how many teenage vegans there are these days, and how many of them say they struggle with ‘full-time’ veganism due to their families being unsure about the idea.


I went vegan when I was 18, at the very end of my teenage years. Before that, I had been vegetarian for about six years. Thankfully, my parents are completely unopposed to veganism and were incredibly supportive, trying out new recipes with me and shopping for all sorts of strange things we had never heard of before. Because they were well-informed about veganism, they had no particular worries, which was great for me. Now that I’m a parent myself, however, I completely understand the inbuilt fear that you constantly feel about absolutely everything to do with your child, and I see why a parent less familiar with the vegan lifestyle might be worried and reluctant to encourage their child’s new diet. If you’re a parent with a teenager interested in veganism and you’re not sure whether or how to support them, here are five things that might be interesting to you.

1. You’ve raised a compassionate kid

First of all, if your son or daughter is expressing an interest in ethical veganism, congratulations. You’ve raised a child that is compassionate, thinks critically and cares about the impact it has others and on its surroundings. No matter what your thoughts on veganism are, you’ve clearly done pretty well on this front.

2. Veganism doesn’t equal picky eating

A lot of parents worry that veganism means their child will only eat a small range of foods, but this doesn’t have to be the case. There are so many amazing recipes on the web, and some absolutely fantastic cookbooks. If you want to get stuck in, I recommend Chloe’s Kitchen for the basics, Veganomicon if your teen seriously wants to learn to cook and Ms Cupcake for seriously indulgent baked goods.

3. Family meals can easily be adjusted

You might be worried about family dinner times, and stress about not having enough time to cook two meals, but it’s actually pretty easy to make it work. Firstly, most teenagers are completely capable of cooking their own food, and even if they’re a bit shaky in their culinary skills, explaining to them that you’re willing to support their vegan choices if they help out with their dinner can be a great compromise. If you’re of the meal-planning conviction, it’s also relatively simple to plan meals in a way that make them easy to adjust to the whole family. For instance, if you’re making a bolognese, fry your mince and the soya mince in separate pans. Make the tomato sauce in a third pan and split it between the proteins just before serving. That’s only one extra pan, and will hardly ruin your meal. You could also set specific days in the week to cook all-vegan meals!

4. No one can tell the difference between vegan and non-vegan cupcakes

Really, no one. Vegan baking isn’t difficult and tastes delicious. Making vegan versions of your family’s baked treats will result in a grateful vegan child and friends and relatives who are none the wiser.

5. It can be a fantastic bonding and conversation topic

Teenagers are difficult to converse with. I know this because I was one not so long ago. Chances are, your child is really passionate about veganism and has a lot to say about the topic, so give them a chance to articulate their thoughts and feelings to you in a non-judgemental environment. You’ll probably have some things to say about it, too. You might be surprised by how much you agree with them.

Was this post useful to you at all? Let me know if you’d like me to expand on the topic!

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Recipe | Reduced-Sugar Peanut Butter Cups

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One of the few times I lament being vegan in day-to-day life is when I walk past the Reese’s products in the supermarket. I used to love Peanut Butter Cups and unfortunately, the vegan alternatives haven’t quite made their way to the UK yet. Thankfully, it’s quite easy to make your own, and after seeing so many pictures of the homemade treats, I decided to give it a go.


While I was at it, I thought it might be a good idea to try a reduced-sugar version. These aren’t sugar-free unless you manage to find a no-sugar-added, meltable dark chocolate, but they have far less sugar than commercial versions, so in my book, that’s a win!

If you have a silicone muffin tin or silicone liners, this is the time to bring them out. I used a standard metal mini-muffin tin, and while the result was perfectly acceptable, my life would have been far easier if I had used a silicone tin.

Vegan Reduced-Sugar Peanut Butter Cups

Serves 6
A lower-sugar version of one of my favourite treats!


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Prep Time
15 min

Total Time
30 min

Prep Time
15 min

Total Time
30 min

Ingredients
  1. 200g dark chocolate, divided
  2. 100g peanut butter
  3. 2 tsp stevia (I use Truvia)
  4. 1 tsp vanilla paste
Instructions
  1. Melt 100g of your chocolate. I usually do this by microwaving on full power in 20 second increments, stirring frequently.
  2. If you’re using a mini-muffin tin, add one teaspoon of chocolate to each hollow, or two teaspoons per regular-sized muffin tin hollow. Using the spoon, make sure you evenly coat the bottom and sides of each segment. Let chill in the fridge for five minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, melt together the peanut butter, stevia and vanilla paste – I use the same microwaving technique as I do for the chocolate.
  4. Remove your tin from the fridge and add your peanut butter mixture to each chocolate shell. Again, I used 1 teaspoon per mini-muffin cup, and two teaspoons should fill a regular-sized version. Return to the fridge.
  5. Melt your remaining chocolate, remove your cups from the fridge and top each cup with dark chocolate until it is filled to the brim.
  6. Chill for 15 minutes, or until solid.
  7. If you’re using silicone cups, you should be able to just peel them off your chocolates. If you used a metal tin, I advise turning the tin upside down, letting a bit of hot water run over it and then popping the cups out of the tin with a spoon. You’ll lose a bit of chocolate this way, but that’s not too much of a catastrophe.
  8. Finally, you can serve your cups in little paper wrappers, or just eat them as they are.
Moving Scouse http://movingscouse.co.uk/

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Baby | Weaning Advice & the Dairy Industry

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I actively try to avoid being one of those vegans who constantly complain about other people’s food choices and lifestyles, but a recent experience really rattled my cage and I felt like I needed to share it with you.A few weeks ago, we had a weaning visit from our Nursery Nurse, who is part of the Health Visiting Team. Isla has since started solids and is loving all the various options we have been presenting her with, although milk is still her favourite. While the weaning advice we received wasn’t incredibly imaginative and they didn’t really want to go into baby-led weaning at all (although they weren’t opposed to it), I was happy with how the conversation went and confident in our choice to raise Isla on a plant-based diet and let her self-feed. So far, so good.

When I looked at the materials they left us, however, I got pissed off. Apart from one NHS leaflet, they were all compiled by the dairy lobby. Every single suggested meal incorporated dairy, milk allergies were dismissed as “less common than people think” and absolutely zero  alternative nutrient sources were offered. If I had absolutely no clue about nutrition, I would have been led to believe that my child needs roughly five servings of dairy a day and that she would be severely malnourished if she didn’t get them. But even ignoring the wildly inaccurate nutritional claims, I have a really serious issues with the fact that the NHS are distributing these leaflets.

The wonderful thing about the NHS, and any state-based health service, is that it should be independent of marketing ploys and industrial cronyism. It’s a fantastic source of consistent information and a widely trusted healthcare provider. If I’m worried about something health-related, I visit the NHS website, and unquestioningly accept the information as truth, because, like most people I haven’t a clue about medicine. If an industry is actively sponsoring the information on weaning, however, that negates the advantage of an unbiased, state-led service. While I’m particularly upset by the fact that the dairy industry is so prominent in this situation, the truth is that any industry involvement in our healthcare is a problem. I’m not naive, I know that it’s very common, and that the pharmaceutical industry invest unthinkable amounts of money into their marketing, since they’re not allowed to advertise in the conventional way. I also know that the concept of a completely industry-independent health service is a pipe dream. However, I can’t help but be upset that the healthcare professionals who decided to distribute this leaflet didn’t care about my baby’s health (or any other child’s health) enough to assign some budget to the production of a balanced and impartial information leaflet and sample meal plan.

What are your experiences with NHS services and vegan babies? Apart from this, ours have been positive, but I’d love to hear your stories! Feel free to share in the comment below!
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#EvolvingCities | Five Amazing Places Outside of Liverpool’s City Centre

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Royal Liver Building then and now

Source: Travelodge/#EvolvingCities

As most of you know, I came to Liverpool to study and stayed because I fell in love – with a boy and with the city. After leaving the city centre in my second year of university, I started discovering all the amazing places the city has to offer away from manic L1, and when I was approached to share Travelodge‘s #EvolvingCities project with you, I just knew that it was time to share some of my favourites.

Before we begin, you should have a quick look at the #EvolvingCities page for Liverpool – you can find it by clicking the picture or link above. It features some amazing images comparing Liverpool’s landmarks past and present, and I had way too much fun playing with the image sliders! But now, in no particular order, my five favourite non-city-centre places to visit in Liverpool!

1. Sefton Park

Starting with the most obvious, Sefton Park is Liverpool’s showcase outdoor space. Featuring two cafes, a large lake, a palmhouse and a playground and playing host to various races, it’s a favourite among families, runners and dog-walkers. There’s almost always something going on, so if you’re planning a visit to Liverpool, it’s worth visiting if you fancy a day in the sun!

2. Lark Lane

Situated right next to Sefton Park, Lark Lane is something of an independent Mecca. There are antiques shops, barbers, convenience stores and Oh. My. God. The. Food. Almost every restaurant caters to vegans. If it’s warm out or you’re cold-blooded, it’s really worth finding the somewhat hidden Greendays Cafe – it was freezing cold when we visited but their coffee is to die for and they made us a delicious fresh batch of vegan pancakes right there!). I would happily eat my way down the entire street. Particular favourites include Milo Lounge (although their service is very hit-and-miss) and Esteban’s.

3. Otterspool Promenade

One of my favourite running routes, Otterspool Prom is a gem I discovered rather late. It appears that many others are in the same situation, as it’s rarely overcrowded. It’s a beautiful stretch from the southern end of Aigburth all the way to the city centre, partly running alongside Otterspool Park. I believe you can park near the actual park, but careful, that lot gets very full!

4. Calderstone’s Park

Smaller than Sefton Park, Calderstone’s is my favourite outdoor space. There’s lots of shade, a lake (which you can’t access, I think there may have been problems with algae at some point…?), and The Reader organisation have a cafe and an ice cream parlour. Both outlets have vegan options available (most of the time) and are far superior to Sefton Park’s culinary offerings.

5. Woolton Village

I have to admit, I only discovered Woolton about a year ago. In that time, however, it has become my favourite part of the city. It has a small cinema (which I have yet to visit, but I hear it’s amazing), the world’s greatest cafe, which is The Old Hardware Shop, a whole host of other eateries, a bunch of independent businesses and a Sainsbury’s. I know, the latter isn’t particularly revolutionary, but they have Coconut FroYo. It’s also home to the famous defunct Woolton Baths, where John Lennon supposedly learnt to swim, and the church where The Beatles used to play when they were still The Quarrymen, although I have inconveniently forgotten its name. 

Are you going to visit any of these places during your next trip to Liverpool? If so, let me know what you though!

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, and all opinions are my own, as always.

Food | The Veg Box Dilemma

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Anyone who has ever subscribed to an organic veg box will know exactly what I’m talking about – you look forward to your delivery, you unpack your fresh, beautiful produce, you store it in your kitchen… and then?  You’re not quite sure what to do with it. We’ve recently started receiving organic veg boxes again, something we had done previously but stopped after it became unfeasible for us. Now that Isla is being weaned, however, it’s really important to us that the majority of her first foods are organic fruits and vegetables, and the easiest way to source those for us is a veg box scheme.

Each time a box is delivered, we decide which options will make up her meals, and for which fruits and vegetables she isn’t quite ready yet. She eats her foods raw or steamed, so there isn’t much creativity required (yet), but when it comes to the items left over for us, it gets a bit more tricky and I’m left leafing through all my cookbooks trying to find suitable recipes. While that’s one of my favourite past-times, I have to admit that it’s a bit time consuming and sometimes I just can’t be bothered with the faff. That’s where Vegan Life Magazine‘s newest feature comes in. The Veg on Wheels feature introduces the month’s most popular seasonal vegetables, along with recipe suggestions to get you started. 

While I’ve now got into the groove with using our veg box (well, mostly), I really wish I had access to this resource when my first boxes arrived. I wasted so much produce simply because I didn’t really know what to do with it, because there weren’t enough simple, appealing recipes out there and sometimes, I confess, because I didn’t know what the fuck the weird green thing was, and thus couldn’t google any uses for it. 

What are your thoughts on veg boxes? A great way to sample a variety of seasonal produce, or a food-wast trap?

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Disclaimer: I receive the digital version of Vegan Life Magazine free of charge in exchange for featuring each issue on the blog. All opinions are my own, as usual.