Mental health, travel & loved ones.

I originally called this post ‘here, there and everywhere’ but after rereading the post I realised I have had a month of doing all the thing I love to do. This month has been filled with talking about mental health, exploring, seeing friends, family and somewhere amongst that finding gluten free, vegan goodness to. I am so very grateful.

As you will see I seem to have spent more time on a train than I ever have before, not that I am complaining! It has been wonderful, even the train part, giving me chance to read ‘Everything Everything’ by Nicola Yoon, I have only a few chapters left, so please no spoilers.

Continue reading “Mental health, travel & loved ones.”

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October’s Free From Favourites (gluten-free & vegan)

A little early, with a few added rambles. Last week I saw a woman standing in the free from aisle, staring aimlessly at the limited selection of food choices as she asked the shop assistant “is this all?” The shop assistant looked at her, sighing with sympathy, she replied “I will take you to the refrigerated items to”. The woman followed the shop assistant looking disappointed at her basket filled with expensive and pretty-tasteless items. This was one of the many scenes I have noticed since being gluten free; the confusion, the frustration and the disappoint of the newly diagnosed, or even more so, the pity of the non-diagnosed, ‘normal eating’ family member.

This reminded me of why I write these ‘free from favourites’ posts, because I have been there. I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance over two years ago now. My first time to the supermarket resulted in me crying whilst squishing every rock-hard loaf of bread, desperately trying to find something edible and inexpensive.

Since then, I have become very supermarket savvy, you know those television programmes, supermarket saver? I could own an allergy friendly one! As could some of the other people I have met whilst both staring at the free from aisle. The amount of conversations I have had there, each person either welcoming advice and tips or offering them.

Enough of the ramble and onto the post.

Beginning with Tesco’s frozen Vegetable Patties, £1 for six, what a bargain? Since going gluten free, every vegetable burger I can find seems to be coated with bread crumbs or is made with gluten free bread crumbs, resulting in them being very overpriced. With a new recipe, making these burgers now gluten free (I thank you Tesco!), not the most luxury of burgers I know but I love them! They make the perfect quick and easy, childhood meal. Perfect with added sweet potato, beans and peas.

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Whilst in Tesco, I found BFrees pitta pockets, I love the brand BFree, personally I think they are one of the best gluten free brands out there. Top tip, always use your freezer, BFree’s bread and pittas both freeze well, I just take what I want out and pop them into the toaster or in the oven for a few minutes. The pitta pockets are great for packed lunches, without those gluten free holes, they can hold a decent sized filling without falling apart as soon as you look at them. My favourite filling is hummus and falafel, basic but delicious.

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Of course, to get the best deals you have to shop around and Aldi is always my go to, Aldi’s free from range just gets better and better. Aldi’s cashew nuts, raw fruit and nut bars, falafels and 55 pence- hummus, are always on my list.

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A slightly more expensive but trust me when I say they are worth it, is Livia’s Kitchen Raw Millionaires Bites, perfect for those ‘coffee and cake’ moments. Not overly sweet but sweet enough to leave your sweet tooth feeling satisfied. With a lot of ‘raw’ foods, I can tell they are raw, they taste great but I can tell that it is different, unlike these. I honestly could not tell the difference, actually I could, these taste better! I found these little packets in Sainsbury’s free from aisle. Our of the two the Chocolate Orange are my favourite, hopefully I will come across more from Livia’s Kitchen to try, have you any recommendations?

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Moving on to my non-free from aisle finds, the woman I mentioned earlier also asked about crisps. As she picked up the overpriced ‘free from packet’ before seeing the price and putting them back. People who are diagnosed do not realise the amount of gluten free items on the ordinary aisles, with more brands becoming naturally or ‘accidentally gluten free’.

As for crisps/snacks, there are many out there, Tyrrells (not all flavours but you will be surprised at how many), Yushoi pea snacks, Hippies chickpea puffsPom-bears, Propercorn popcorn (most popcorns), Sainsbury’s own pop chips, Popchips (not all) to name a few.

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Rice, pasta and noodles, with most free from aisles only stocking a handful of choices, more often than not the higher priced brands to, you are best of looking on the normal aisles. Of course, rice is naturally gluten free but I often find the microwavable rice packets containing either wheat or milk, Tilda are usually my go to for things like this. It would seem that more and more supermarkets branching out with pastas made from peas, lentils, brown rice and even buckwheat to, all naturally gluten free. As for noodles, most rice noodles are gluten free, even the instant ones.

Also, most sauces, spreads and condiments can be found without a ‘free from’ label and ‘free from’ price. Supermarket own brands are great for things like tomato sauces, jams and now even nut butters! What ‘accidentally free from’ item have you found?

As for being gluten free and vegan on the go this October, Pret a Manger has been my ultimate ‘go to’, with their vegan friendly options growing, I have been able to spot a few new gluten free options to. Featuring in free from favourites before, it is no surprise that I love Pret a Mangers soups, especially this time of year, I highly recommend trying their vegan chilli  or the spiced corn and quinoa, both making the perfect autumnal lunch.

That is all for this month, I am sure Novembers addition will be starting to look a little more Christmassy (how exciting?!).

Nicole

More of my vegan posts

Home Comforts.

Looking at my previous posts, I am sure you can tell I have had a touch of those ‘post adventure blues’. It would seem my plan to throw myself into all things work did not work as well as I had hoped and searching for employment is no easy task. It is not all bad though, I have had a few weeks to enjoy some home comforts, or at least try to without comparing everything and anything to New York.

But of course, nothing quite compares to exploring the beginning of autumn with my four legged friends! I have loved returning to jumpers, tights and all the autumnal colours. Nothing beats seeing Archie running in and out of the colourful leaves that are quickly falling. Being mindful of my surroundings and seeing the seasonal fruit appearing on the trees and enjoying that cosy feeling of coming in from a crisp walk.

Speaking of cosy feelings, a few weeks ago I went to visit my great grandmother. We popped into a cosy pub, it was a surprise to see vegan options, and gluten free to! I had the lentil cottage pie and it was a lot nicer than it looks. Don’t you think it is becoming easier and easier to be vegan?

With having to purchase a new car, being unemployed and well, trying to be somewhat independent, I am also feeling the ‘post adventure pinch’, as I am sure I am not the only one? Not that I am complaining, I mean I have been forced into getting creative in my kitchen and with the help from Deliciously Ella, forever browsing her app for inspiration, I have made a couple of lovely and very affordable dishes.

These recipes are very similar and simple to make.

Sweet potato and mixed bean stew, serves three
(two medium sweet potatoes, two tins of mixed beans, a handful of cherry tomatoes, one table spoon of tomato puree, one vegetable stock cube, a pinch of rosemary, cumin, chilli flakes, ground black pepper and steamed vegetables to serve)

First peel and chop into squares the sweet potatoes, part boil and roast for around 25 minutes.
Half way through, chop tomatoes and add to sweet potato for 10 minutes.
Whilst waiting for the sweet potato and tomatoes, rinse and boil the mixed beans, once boiled rinse again and transfer back to pan.
Mix in one crumbled stock cube along with enough boiling water just to cover the beans, put on a low heat and add tomato puree and seasoning, stir well and leave simmer for 10 minutes.
Add in sweet potato and tomatoes and leave on low heat for around 10 minutes, stir well and take of heat, allow to cool.
Once cool use a soup pulse or part blend, as if you were making soup, leaving a few sweet potato chunks and beans whole.
Once ready, for a crispy edge place into ovenproof dishes and cook for 20-30 minutes (or around 4 minutes in the microwave or hob).
I served this with steamed spinach, green peas, broccoli, roasted cashew nuts and nutritional yeast.

Warming green lentil and sweet potato soup, serves two
(one tin of green lentils, two medium sweet potatoes, two servings of sugar snap peas, a handful of cherry tomatoes, one table spoon of tomato puree, a tea spoon of gram masala, a sprinkle of cumin, turmeric, ginger, a pinch of chilli flakes and ground black pepper)

First peel and chop into squares the sweet potatoes, part boil and roast for around 25 minutes.
Half way through, chop tomatoes and add to sweet potato for 10 minutes.
Whilst waiting for the sweet potato and tomatoes, rinse and boil the green lentils, once boiled rinse again and transfer back to pan.
On a low heat add just enough boiling water to cover the lentils, stir in spices and tomato puree before adding the cooked sweet potato, tomatoes and sugar snap peas (cut to own preference).
Stir well and leave simmer on low heat for around 10 minutes.
Pulse or blend, adding water until you achieve your preferred consistency, I enjoy this soup quite chunky.
Enjoy straight away or let cool and reheat later.
I served this soup with some crispy kale and sprinkling of toasted almonds.

Like most of my recipes these can be left to cool and transferred into plastic containers, popped into the fridge or freezer until ready to be served.

There is no free from favourites this month but I have got to mention Rhythm 108’s tea biscuits, found in Aldi but also available online. I do not usually enjoy gluten free biscuits as they often taste like they are trying to be an alternative, non-gluten free biscuit but these are a biscuit in their own right (okay slightly over the top, but you should try them). The lemon and ginger are my favourite and are fitting for this home comforts post.

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Let me know if you try any of these recipes or if you also have any allergy and budget friendly recommendations?

Thank you for reading,

Nicole

May free from favourites (gluten free & vegan).

Before we start this ‘free from favourites’, I want you to know that I am not sponsored by any of these companies, I just like sharing with you all a few of my favourites in the hope it can help. I remember all too well how frustrating and difficult it was when I discovered my gluten intolerance and whilst being vegan seems easy enough, pairing the two started of being quite hard.

Continue reading “May free from favourites (gluten free & vegan).”

Beautiful birthday gifts.

As I have told you many times before March is one of my favourite months and only partly because my birthday is in March. I love March because it means Easter is on it’s way, the warmer months are starting to appear, the fields are filled with Spring time blooms and everybody seems to be happier.

Whilst enjoying this month I have also been enjoying a few of the following finds and birthday presents to. Each year I am surprised at how well my loved ones know me, the thought that goes into a present and card fills me with gratitude for those around me, thanking every single one of you.

Starting with two atmosphere mists by Made by CoopersAwaken– An uplifting blend of five essential oils designed to awaken the soul and lift the spirits. Grapefruit, Orange, Black Pepper, Palmarosa and Frankincense.’ This mist is just that, truly uplifting and brightens up each morning, the perfect scent to wake up and start my day to.

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Calm– A calming blend of five essential oils designed to relax the mind and body.
Lavender, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Rosemary and Frankincense.’ Another perfect statement to describe this utterly calming scent. I spray this every night before I go to sleep and after having a few weeks of insomnia it has been a life saver.

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I can not recommend these products enough and I am already looking forward to trying more vegan and ethically friendly products created by the wonderful Made by Coopers.

Another new natural brand to me is Nathalie Bond Organics. Buying me soap is always a little daring as my skin is sensitive, thus I am trying to reduce the amount of chemicals I use. Going natural is not as easy as it seems, with companies quiet often using terminology to trick people into thinking their products are natural. Finding a brand like Nathalie Bond Organics is so helpful and so far, using their soap bars has reinforced my already belief of natural is always best.

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Here I have been using the ‘Rose Geranium and Patchouli-Combining the light and floral scents of rose geranium with earthy patchouli, the Rose Geranium + Patchouli Wash Block is both sweet smelling and bursting with benefits for your skin.’

And the ‘Peppermint and Eucalyptus– Dusky grey in colour and minty in scent, the Peppermint + Eucalyptus Wash Block is a stress buster, scalp healer and chemical cleanser. Often used in aromatherapy, peppermint and eucalyptus allow you to unwind and refresh at the same time.’

Each soap block leaving me feel cleansed as though my skin is beginning to heal. Also with soap usually long lasting I believe these will be a very good investment. Again, I adore finding new ethical, vegan friendly beauty brands and I can not wait to explore the store.

Those of you who know me, will know how much I love pyjamas, there is just nothing like a new pair of pyjamas! My friend, Rosie, bought me these Cath Kidston floral (of course) pyjamas and I adore them, I can not believe how soft they are.

As mentioned in my ‘March Free From Favourites’ these are the chocolates I have been enjoying this month but I am all ready for the Easter bunnies arrival.

As mentioned in my earlier post, ‘A different path’ this summer I will be working at a summer camp in New York, of course I will also be exploring and me being me I want to make the most out of every second. To do that I will have to be prepared and what better way to be prepared than by reading? Starting with all the tourist guides I can get my hands on, thanking my parents for each of these accompanied by bookmark post it notes, yay! Travel stationary is totally a thing.

Speaking of traveling how adorable is this Sass & Belle collection? With a beautiful vintage map print and sweet quotes, making me even more so excited. This travel tag and small note pad are packed away ready for my adventure to begin.

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Next is this light box, I am not sure where this was from but these seem to becoming very popular amongst bloggers, my brother being the last person I would have thought to buy me one. I have been using it to write positive quotes and sayings, I love putting it on with the rest of my fairy lights whilst I practice yoga and meditation.

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Lastly and one of my absolute favourites this truly unique, Aries print my sister bought me from Etsy, although I can not seem to find the artist. Etsy is filled with beautiful creations and this is no exception, I just love it. It’s bright, colourful and beautifully designed, personalised with my date of birth. Bringing a touch of Spring to my bedroom all year round.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading this post, maybe it has given you some gift ideas, for yourself as well as others!

Nicole