I've been falling in love with my kitchen all over again..... And it's because I have guests staying.
Having people staying with me inspires me to be the best cook and hostess possible. I want to be whipping up home-made hummus, I want to be lavishing them with the finest vegan smoothies and breakfasts and cupcakes, I want to be whistling happy tunes while preparing our evening meals.
Maybe it's time to retire in the countryside and start running a BNB?
I'm not sure, but in the meantime, I'm a broke, struggling actress who lives in a tiny one-bedroom flat in Manchester, so my cheap, easy hostess ways will have to do for now.
I love preparing simple, wholesome, fresh food. This works for my wallet, my health-nazi, but also, my vegan foodie snob!
One day, we did a giant "leftovers" cook-up, which involved a heap of vegetables, some rice, a tahini dressing and other random bits and took all of our delicious goodies down to the nearest park and had a proper picnic! Everything was vegan, accidentally gluten free, healthy, wholesome and DIVINE.
Oh, and there was wine.
I already have quite the obsession with jars. Jars are so useful! And how did I not realise this until this year?
I began obsessing with jars when I started making overnight oats and now, I seem to have unlimited use for them.
I used a jar in the bathroom for my guests toothbrushes, jars to store all the goodies we were making and to take my leftovers to work. Again - in love with my kitchen!
The other greatest thing I have discovered this last week? Banana ice cream! Oh yes.
The divine Charlotte Emily and I made this together last week and now, I confess, it's become my breakfast most mornings.
It's as simple as freezing some bananas the night before (peel them first!) and then in the morning - chop them up and put them in your blender. Add in some cinnamon and vanilla essence and then blend, stir, blend, stir until you have an amazing ice-cream consistency! It's pure deliciousness.
Below - naughty square of dark chocolate on top!
As much as I love cooking for myself - I'm a huge believer that food should be shared. Eating together is a tradition as old as any other and there's a reason for that. Something magical happens when we share, cook for each other and put a lot of love into it.
I'm happy to be able to share my love of food with others - and hopefully pass along some vegan deliciousness!
I am so happy to share this. The first post by the incredible Charlotte Emily about her vegan challenge. Enjoy! I know you will. x
Hello, I’m Charlotte Emily; an artist, educator, and explorer. Since deciding in July that I want to explore veganism I slowly began adapting my diet in order to live August completely vegan. Now I am two weeks in and time has flown by and I really wanted to share with you some of my experience so far.
I have always had time to listen to the way people explained their diets and food choices. For the first 10 years of my life I grew up as a ‘vegetarian’ who sometimes ate prawn curry on a Friday and fish and chips on a Sunday. My Nana also used to excitedly sneak suet laden cheese scones in my mouth when she looked after us as if we were starved a good flavour. I am defiantly no stranger to the complexities of diet labelling.
When my parents split up so did the romantic reasoning’s behind being vegetarian. It meant that all of a sudden I discovered a whole new array of foods previously not allowed. Instead of veggie sausages or Quorn chilli’s it was the real meaty thing that came with a whole new smell and texture I had to get used to.
As I grew up I also enjoyed cooking and baking foods but still found myself choosing veggie options when out and when I began Uni I almost never bought meat. Now a few years post Uni I feel like a culinary explorer as I tackle new recipes and enjoy eating healthily. I am passionate about creating nutritious foods and buying local high quality produce that supports local farms.
Before recently I thought the idea of having a vegan diet would be impossible for me. I loved milky bowls of cereal and porridge in the mornings and adored local cheeses and eggs. I guess the challenge aspect of it made me even more determined to try and see how it felt.
I’m not going to lie, since adopting a vegan diet, two weeks ago, I have had moments where I’ve really wanted melted cheese on something or to have a square of the dairy milk that my friends munching on. But on a whole the more days that go by the less I desire these things or even think about them at all.
The thing I’ve found since adopting a healthy vegan diet which is so hard to deny is the health benefits. I feel less bloated. My skin, hair and nails look the best I’ve seen them in years. The most noticeable to me is that my eczema is now non-existent. I have so much energy and feel less fatigue than before. I even feel like I’m sleeping better. These amazing benefits alone make me easily get through the small cravings.
The question I keep getting asked the most from my intrigued friends and family is WHAT ARE YOU EATING? To the ones that live close by I invite them to come round for meals or let them taste my pack up lunch or meal I order in the restaurant. I will write a separate post soon about exactly what I’ve been eating, how I’ve planned my meals, and how my shopping habits have changed soon.
So far, I’m really enjoying this new experience and am so happy I met Hannah who has defiantly inspired it!
Lots of love
So, there's a lady in Manchester. This lady's name is Stephie and she kind of rocks.
Since we started hanging, or "came into each others' lives" (which sounds so much more romantic) her presence has become a necessity in my day. Whether it be an emergency meet-up in a cafe (http://teainyourtwenties.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/tea-in-manchester.html), an evening glass of wine with our "magic money" or even just at work together in our favourite little theatre, making vows of Yoga, Zumba, future companies and millions of pounds.
She makes me want to achieve anything and everything within my reach. The girl is a powerhouse. She inspires me to write better, blog more, be more positive, set goals for myself and use every day to its full potential.
Not long ago, while sipping our soy mochas, we had one of those "what are we doing with our liiiiiiife" moaning conversations that I think every girl in her twenties needs to have on a monthly basis. Somehow this conversation ended with us deciding to do a 30-Day Gluten Free Challenge.
I know. Random.
That's just how we roll.
Why a Gluten Free Challenge? I'm not going to lie and say that I have any intention of ever giving up bread...I don't think either of us do. I love bread, don't believe I have any intolerance and we have already planned our 1st of September dinner out (it involves pies.)
Truly - it's more to have a focus. Have a goal. Take control over one aspect of my life when I feel like lots of other parts are all over the place. Veganism requires zero effort on my part anymore, but I remember in those first few weeks - I felt so powerful and inspired! That realisation of "wow, I can do anything" is a priceless feeling. I think I wanted something like that again and it was either bread or coffee.
Sorry: not giving up coffee.
Maybe next month.
- No Gluten. (Duh)
- Gluten is found in grains (Barley, Spelt, Wheat etc), Pastas, Baked Goods (unless labelled gluten free), cereals, beer, couscous (nooooo!), dressings and chips. There are far more extensive lists...but you get the idea...
- "Gluten Free" options are totally allowed, but Stephie and I both felt that it made the whole thing too easy after a week, because you basically just substitute.
- Daily food diaries to share with each other
- Daily inspirations for when the bread is too fresh-smelling
- Hilarious punishment decided by the other party if you break.
What's Changed in my Diet/Routine?
So, it's now day 15 out of 30 days. What have I been eating, experiencing and feeling?
Honestly - up until yesterday there wasn't a lot to report. I quickly realised the only gluten I really eat is bread itself. I don't really have pasta often, because whenever I do I realise I'd rather be eating spiralized zucchini (no shit), I obviously don't eat cakes when I go sit in cafes, I don't eat cereals or crisps.....so....there isn't much gluten in my diet to cut out.
What this really involved for me, to be honest, was to stop eating bread. OH GOD....30 days without my delicious, precious staple. My avocado on toast....my evening peanut butter on toast treat.....My "grab a bread roll at work because I'm too busy to do anything else" necessity. If I'm honest with you - I definitely would eat bread every day. #confession.
In a nutshell -
- No Bread
- Been preparing nearly all my meals
- Feeling focused and positive having a project with a friend. (Which was exactly the point)
- Feeling slightly disappointed that project isn't harder (Friend agrees)
The Half-Way Results?
The truth is: results? I don't really feel any different at all.
Yesterday I went into work, chilling, made myself a coffee to start the day and, as the day went on, everyone at the cafe commented on my weight. Two girls in particular could not stop going on about it, insisting that I looked a lot smaller and "tighter".
How did I not notice this myself? I messaged Stephie immediately and (because our lives run parallel apparently) she met up with a friend that morning, who told her she also looked like she'd lost weight.
So - another confession - I went home and put on some clothes to see if I could see any difference and I actually did. Wow...things genuinely were a bit looser and my whole body did seem a bit leaner.
Loosing weight is said to be common when giving up gluten, but I am surprised because I know that I'm eating about the same, if not more than I was before this challenge, so there's no difference in my calorie intake. The only, genuine difference is the gluten! So I do find that quite fascinating....Could it be true that Gluten is bloating like they say? I must say ...... I think I'm converted!
It will be very interesting to see what happens in the 2nd half of this experiment. Will my weight just stay as it is now? (I mean, crikey, I'm not big people!) Or will I, hopefully, now start noticing actual health changes? Feeling lighter....sleeping better.....all that jazz.
Either way I'm definitely enjoying myself and not really feeling deprived. So, I guess that makes the experiment a total success. Proving that we are superheroes who can do anything and take on any challenge!
Oh God....don't test me on that if I ever do a coffee challenge.....
Enjoy some photos below! Wouldn't be an Oops Im a Vegan post without food photos, would it?
Our Gluten Free eating extravaganza at Dough in Manchester! So, so good.
Look, the first bite you're like "aaahhh okay, this is gluten free". But then, as you keep munching you really do stop noticing.....it's gluten free pizza after all! They're not magicians!
I'm going to sip my third cup of coffee and attempt to write this as clearly as possible. (Perhaps impossible with the coffee involved?)
Mostly when I blog, I have an idea crystal clear in my mind, but then it gets all muddled up between my brain and the keyboard. I'd say 80% of my blogs finish up on a completely different topic than when I started.
I sit down to write about rabbits and end up with an Ode to Porridge.
But, today I have an idea that I REALLY WANT TO GET RIGHT....so here goes....
Basically - I feel very lucky right now. Very lucky indeed and I want to share why.
Sometimes I read stories online or even receive emails from wonderful people, explaining that since giving up animal products they have had no support and feel totally alone. They feel unsupported and alienated from their family and friends, judged, attacked.....whatever it may be.
When we make any big decisons in life, or are going through an emotional change - love and support should never be in short supply. The reactions and opinions of loved ones can even mean the difference between success and failure! You respect these people - if they react badly it's not easy to just shake off.
Becoming vegan can be bloody tough. We live in a society that operates in complete disagreement with every new ideal you're trying to form! You've spent all evening reading how bad milk is on vegan websites, then the next day you wake up and your loved one is sloshing milk all over their cereal and they seem totally fine. It's not an easy journey in the slightest and it certainly won't be if that loved one is ALSO being unsupportive....
AND your friends don't understand why you won't order dessert.....
AND your family think you're judging them.....
It can all feel a bit depressing!
Veganism should be a positive change.
It's an empowering decision that you should be proud of and, in an ideal world, everyone around you would lift you in the air, perch you on their shoulders and say "WOW! YOU ARE A SUPERHERO! CONGRATULATIONS ON DECIDING TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOR THE BETTER AND TRYING TO SAVE ANIMALS AND OUR PLANET!"
Oh, if only.
It is for this reason and after reading some very moving emails that I want to write a very selfish post. A dedication, if you will. A dedication to my mother, my father and my incredible friends.
AKA: the people who made my vegan journey: So. Damn. Easy.
There - I said it.
A small part of me wishes I could relate to these messages. A small part of me wishes I could say "yes, going vegan was so hard, but I got through it. Everyone was mean and nasty and here are all the ways I coped...." But, the truth is....I'm really, bloody, damn lucky.
From day one, my poor mother had to endure all the sad, scary new information as it burst from me, unedited. "Oh God, Mum! Do you know that male chickens get ground up alive by the egg industry?! Oh God!!" I shared everything with her. I whittered on about new recepies, I relayed in horror every new statistic, even forced her to watch a few documentaries. Not for any reason other than NEEDING to share, desperate to talk to someone and not be stuck inside my own mind with this scary new information.
She did these things. She listened, she nodded and she held my hand. Because she loves me. She loves me, she supports me and she understood that I was going through a very serious, emotional change.
I am so, so lucky.
And guess what? Not only did my mother support me wholeheartedly, eat all my vegan meals (whether they were successful or not), but she even stopped eating meat. She stopped eating meat and then eventually stopped eating dairy too. My mother......went vegan.
I also want to say here that my mother is, hands down, the person I respect the most on this entire planet. She is so smart, so inspirational, such a hard-worker, so shiny, glowing and wonderful. She actually is a proper superhero, vegan or not. It just so happens: she is now a vegan superhero! And folks, the vegan movement could not have a better spokesmodel! I'm serious. Bill Clinton, step aside.
The knowledge that my mother goes into work each day with a Soy Flat White and a vegan lunchbox fills me with a joy I cannot put into words. Not just because I'm so happy that she is happy, healthy and setting an amazing example for all the intelligent people she works with.....
But ....also....it's the validation.
The validation for veganism from a woman that I respect so much it hurts. If she hears my rantings and ravings and thinks they make sense...then....maybe they do?
What better support can one possibly ask for? My mother not only SUPPORTED my insane new lifestyle change, she went on her own, personal journey with it. My mother talks with her co-workers about Forks Over Knives, she baked me a vegan birthday cake, she buys the best Organic soy milk and takes it into her local coffee shop to get THEM to step up, too.
And they do!
So, how can I say I "struggled" going vegan? My girlfriends are beyond phenomenal. They accept me without question and I know, respect me even if they don't share my views. They listen to me muse making the shift between 'cool vegan' and 'am I ready to become a mad activist' and still love me. They will, again, eat my vegan food whether it's crap or amazing.
This is why I feel so sad when I read emails like the one I received today. The idea that someone could make such a compassionate choice, something they feel is right and have their loved ones make them feel bad? Or stupid? Or insecure? It makes me so upset for them and I realise how lucky I am.
I have, however, participated in many, many arguments with people since going vegan and struggled to keep my cool. I've debated with people I really respect, I've felt attacked, I've felt stupid....all a natural part of having an unpopular opinion. But how lucky am I that these do not come from my loved ones? And if they ever do: it is a genuine, serious, respectful debate.
Not too long ago, my father informed me that he hasn't eaten meat for a year. I couldn't find words..... Truly? Seriously? Today he even buys non-dairy milk, reads every blog post I've ever done and sends on incredible videos that he has found on YouTube that promote an end to factory farming....
How bloody lucky am I? Again - my father is an incredibly brilliant man. Phenomenally intelligent. If my "crazy" vegan ideas make sense to him - what more validation could anyone ask for?
I opened an email from my Mother a few days ago about the new Free Range laws in Australia and how barbaric they are. She does this to keep me updated, but..... also..... because she cares too. She cares. And when you care, you want to share these horrible things with someone who "gets it". Some vegans do not have anyone who "gets it" in their circle, while I have the immense luck to be able to turn to my own family.
So...*insert selfish post*....thank you Mum. Thank you Dad. Thank you ladies....thank you everyone who didn't make me feel stupid, like a criminal, like a judger, like a moron....
I really am the luckiest person.
Anyone reading who is feeling unsupported - I cannot imagine how hard it must be. Truly. Just try to be strong in the knowledge that, even though we aren't next to you, there are plenty of vegans out there. And, I think we're a pretty cool sort! We totally care about the future and shit.
Also - more and more people are starting to go vegan. Surely the mark of a something's validity is how the numbers INCREASE?
Stay strong, try and be positive and if you are a happy, positive example of what being vegan is and why you WANT to do this, perhaps you will be contagious?
Who knows? It happened to me :)
My divine mother, in red and her best friend (my 2nd mother), Sue, both glowing as always. Two women who inspire me every single day. Sue has been a vegetarian way longer than it's been "cool". I'm not even sure they even had a name for it back then ;)
And on the right...my Jenna. The girl I can rant to about anything Vegan. Why are you all the way in Australia?
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