Settling in London: Grocery shopping, our European kitchen

Settling into our new home | Colorful doors in London

Moving to London has been quite an adventure so far — who knew that moving to a different continent would be so different from moving from Canada to the US!

Everything is different here. Laundry machines normally take 4 hours to wash ONE load. You need a license to watch TV –even if it’s Netflix on your computer. Yes you read that correctly.

Branden and I moved into a flat about 3 weeks ago. It’s dangerously close to a vegan cupcake shop, and I want to go there everyday.

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Cupcakes we got from the cupcake shop on Valentine’s day

After buying dishes, furniture, applicances, etc. our home is finally coming together. The fridge looks full enough to seem like people live here, and today we got the pots and pans that we ordered online!

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Figuring out all the appliances that came with the flat has been a challenge.

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One big reason is because all of the labels on the oven and dishwasher have worn off, and it’s impossible to know what these symbols mean.

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For the oven, I can’t even find a manual online, or photos of a similar oven, so I’ve just been trying to guess.

Fortunately, that hasn’t stopped me from trying to bake #ilovebaking

I noticed that they’re very sensitive to food allergies and intolerances here. There are signs in every restaurant that say to let the staff know if you have any allergies. Also, common allergens are bolded on like every food label. This makes it really easy to determine if something is vegan, because eggs and milk count as allergens!

Some more strange things I noticed —

… apple cider vinegar is just called “cyder vinegar”

… baking soda is called “bicarbonate of soda”

… and the grocery store chains like to wrap every fruit and vegetable in plastic!

I hope you found this post interesting. This weekend we’re having afternoon tea at that cupcake place I mentioned. I’m super excited because I had afternoon tea once before when I was visiting London, and it was the best thing ever!

Where to eat vegan in London – Part ONE

Where to eat vegan food in London | vegan vegetable pie

This is a very photo-heavy post!

If you read my blog, you’ll know that I just moved to London recently with my boyfriend. We’ve been eating out a lot because we were first staying in an AirBnB where we only had a tiny kitchen to cook in. Then when we moved into our flat, we just had a microwave but no pots, pans, etc. (they are on their way). At home, we’ve mostly been eating salad, frozen bean burritos, and canned soup.

On the plus side, I was able to explore and discover a lot of vegan restaurants and non-vegan restaurants that have vegan dishes.

This is part 1 of a series of posts, because I expect to discover way more places in the next few months.

Also check out my Where to eat vegan food in San Francisco post if you are ever travelling there!

Le Pain Quotidien (various locations)

Where to eat vegan food in London | Pain Quotidien

Le Pain Quotidien is a restaurant chain with locations all over the world, including London. They seem to have added more vegan items to their menu since the last time I ate there a few years ago. As you can see on the board, vegan items are now indicated with a carrot symbol.

Where to eat vegan food in London | avocado toast

I had a slice of avocado toast, which was very delicious and avocado-y.

Vida Bakery (Brick Lane)

Where to eat vegan food in London | vegan cupcakes

Vida is a super tiny cupcake shop on Brick Lane. Their cupcakes are really adorable, delicious and Instagram-worthy.

I think they do custom cakes, too!

Dark Sugars (Brick Lane)

Where to eat vegan food in London | chocolate

Where to eat vegan food in London | chocolate

It’s almost impossible to miss Dark Sugars when you walk by. When you look through the windows, all you see is mounds and mounds of chocolate on display. I was really happy to see that they have a whole section of vegan chocolates. My favorite by far is the one called Overdose, which tastes like a truffle and just melts in your mouth.

Carluccio’s (various locations)

Where to eat vegan food in London | Italian food

My boyfriend and I stumbled across this Italian place when we stopped for lunch one day after shopping for house stuff.

Where to eat vegan food in London | Italian food

They have a whole separate vegan and vegetarian menu if you ask for it.

Where to eat vegan food in London | Italian food

Both the bruschetta and the caponata (like an eggplant stew) were amazing. I even ordered a side of broccolini, which was just sauteed with olive oil, garlic, toasted almonds and chili and it was so good I could have eaten a huge bowl of it.

Be warned though, not all the locations are equal — I went to the one inside a train station (I forget which one) and it was NOT as good of an experience as I had at the one in Soho.

Brick Lane Sunday afternoon food market (Brick Lane)

Where to eat vegan food in London | Brick Lane food

I don’t even know what this event is called, but on Sundays on Brick Lane, there are a bunch of vendors on the streets selling vintage & second hand goods, and around noon there are also a bunch of food vendors.

Where to eat vegan food in London | vegan pancakes

I had some paella from one vendor and these vegan pancakes from another vendor. All the food was really diverse and came from so many different cultures. I really recommend taking a Sunday afternoon stroll on Brick Lane.

The MaE Deli (Mayfair)

The MaE Deli is a restaurant that’s part of the “Deliciously Ella” chain of restaurants, which I think followed a series of popular vegetarian cookbooks by a lady named Ella.

Where to eat vegan food in London | vegan muffin and tea

I had lunch with a friend here, and all I have to say is that this apple banana muffin I had was the best, most moist muffin I’ve ever had.

The Blue Legume (Islington)

Where to eat vegan food in London | traditional English breakfast

One of the first mornings I was in London, I had breakfast at the Blue Legume. On weekday mornings, they have a discounted breakfast + drink for 6 pounds deal. I got this vegetarian sausage breakfast with no egg and a soy latte. It was VERY filling!

Home and Cook Daily (Box Park, Shoreditch)

Where to eat vegan food in London | vegetable pie with faux chicken

In Shoreditch, there’s a huge structure made out of repurposed shipping containers. Each of them contain a store, and upstairs they’re all restaurants. Two of them, called Home and Cook Daily, are vegan and serve a huge variety of soups, noodles, etc. I had a pie with faux chicken and it was delicious.

Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket (Brick Lane)

Where to eat vegan food in London | plate of Ethiopian food

We stumbled on the Sunday Upmarket one day as we were walking by one day. There’s a big room full of food vendors selling food from all around the world (and for not that much money). Dutch, Lithuanian, Brazilian, Turkish, you name it. I had a delicious, massive plate of Ethopian food.

Mooshies (Brick Lane)

I die for this “Fillet-Om-Phish” burger  (but animals don’t lol)!

I don’t have much else to say, other than GO HERE.

Eat your way through London

I hope I’ve inspired you to now eat your way through London. I’m hoping to discover more places outside of Brick Lane and Shoreditch.

I’m so hungry after writing this post and thinking about all the delicious food I’ve eaten LOL. Let me know if you have a favorite place I haven’t mentioned!

Being a “perfect” vegan

Project Meal Prep | It's ok to not be perfect

I’ve been hearing a lot about Veganuary on the internet. If you don’t know what it is, it’s basically a movement where people are trying to eat vegan for the month of January.

Transitioning from non-veganism to veganism can be a little rough. I’m not just talking about things like cravings or dealing with reactions from other people, but also stuff like accidentally eating non-vegan food. It’s happened to me — once I even forgot that pizza had cheese on it!

When stuff like this happens, some people have an all-or-nothing mentality. Like, “Oops, I screwed up. The rest of this day / month on this diet is ruined, might as well give up.

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I’ve also heard from people that they WOULD become vegan or vegetarian, but they love bacon. Well then, continue to eat bacon, and don’t eat any other animal products. Or do a Meatless Monday. Think of a system that you can live with. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, because every little bit counts.

My boyfriend recently did the most amazing thing, which I did not think could have happened in a million years. He used to be a voracious meat eater, and I accepted that about him.

But in the last couple of months he dramatically reduced the amount of meat he eats.

He does eat meat about one meal a week, but for the most part, he doesn’t. This happened a few months ago and I’m still amazed and love him even more 🙂

Anyway, I digress. If you are trying out Veganuary or even thinking a little bit about reducing your consumption of animal products, just know that you don’t necessarily have to do a complete 180 if you can’t. Create a system that works for you, or go along with other popular ones, like Meatless Monday or Raw til 4.

Book Review: How Not to Die

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I just finished reading How Not to Die, a book that uses scientific research to help explain how we can avoid dying from common diseases by improving our diet. Each chapter in the first half is dedicated to one disease or ailment: heart disease, lung diseases, digestive cancers, breast cancer, etc.

In the beginning of the book, Dr. Greger says he himself is not pushing some sort of vegan / vegetarian agenda, but all the evidence clearly points to plant-based diets as the answer to being healthy. Through reading the rest of How Not to Die, you’ll find this out yourself in a lot of detail, with footnotes and all. In fact, it seems like every other sentence has a footnote referencing a research study, which makes this information extremely convincing.

Although the book is quite dense, Dr. Greger’s writing is super clear and he explains even complex concepts well and in plain English. He also includes a lot of stories from his time working in hospitals and stories about his family, which make each chapter much more memorable and digestible.

Even though I consider myself to have above average knowledge of nutrition and health because I try to read about it, I still learned so much from reading How Not to Die. I have never highlighted so much text in a book before.

I didn’t just learn things related to food, but random facts about the human body. For example, eating fenugreek (a spice) can make your armpits smell like maple syrup! Can someone tell my boyfriend? I don’t think his deodorant is strong enough. JK.

I also learned about funky experiments you can do to check different aspects of your health, such as boiling red cabbage and pouring the liquid into the toilet after you pee to determine the pH!

Dr. Greger has a website called NutritionFacts.org where some of the content from the book can be found, along with more videos and podcasts. The cabbage pee test is on there too.

Project Meal Prep | How Not to Die

My favorite part of How Not to Die is the second half, which has simple little recipes and recommendations on what you should eat, such as the Daily Dozen. There’s even an app for that haha.

Some recipes are also on the Dr. Greger’s Pinterest page. I took notes and will be making some of them too, which I’ll post on my Instagram.

If you are at all interested in knowing how to live a long life while being as healthy as possible even in old age, I highly recommend reading this book. Getting sick isn’t just a thing that just happens to all people eventually for no reason, you can actively prevent it if you know how. Additionally, there’s so much wrong and misleading information put out into the world, a lot of it by food companies and food / drug industry leaders whose only motivation is to make money, and part of knowing how to keep yourself healthy is knowing the truth.

Winter comfort food roundup

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Tis the season!

To layer on tons of clothes every time before you go outside.

I’m back in Toronto for the holidays and it’s been a hard transition from California. I almost slipped and fell on ice 2x, my skin is embarrassingly dry, and I resent having to wear 2 layers of pants on some days.

Anyway, now is the perfect time to make comforting meals that make you feel cozy and warm, like getting a hug from the inside.

Here are some healthy, vegan stews and soups that I’ve been making and / or are planning to make this winter:

Quick Beefless Stew (Gardein)

I made this tomato-based stew a few days ago (pictured above). It’s chock full of veggies, beans and flavor and comes together so quickly. I added extra mushrooms and peas and eat it with a side of brown rice.

15 Minute Vegan Kimchi Tofu Stew (Brothers Green Eats)

I haven’t made this yet but I love kimchi (the vegan kind that doesn’t contain fish sauce) and it reminds me of another Korean dish I also love called soondubu. The base is miso and vegan kimchi, which are both fermented foods that are supposed to be good for your gut. Some enoki mushrooms would also be really good in there.

Spicy Mapo Tofu (Vegan Miam)

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Mapo tofu, aka grandma tofu, is one of my favorite dishes. I finally found this vegan version a while ago and made a week’s lunch worth. I find it so flavourful & satisfying, and I also love bean paste. I think the spiciness and mushiness (in a good way) are perfect for cold weather.

Simple spicy butternut dhal (Jenny Mustard)

This dish looks super healthy, with lentils and tons of veggies. I have been really getting into Jenny Mustard recently and binge watched her videos.

Spicy Pumpkin Peanut Soup (Peaceful Cuisine)

Soup with peanut butter? Uh, yes please. I will eat cardboard if it has peanut butter on it. Even if you don’t make this soup, you will definitely enjoy watching this artfully created video.

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What are your favorite vegan winter meals or holiday treats?

I hope you’re all having a great holiday — not stressed — and enjoying this time of year 🙂

“Aren’t you admitting you like meat?”

Project Meal Prep | Aren't you admitting you like meat?

Some people get confused / criticize why vegans and vegetarians eat fake meat. I can see where they are coming from. If we supposedly don’t like meat, why are we eating foods that try to emulate it?

Some people say that the fake meat we have today doesn’t taste much like real meat. Others say they do like meat but are just morally opposed to it, so they’ll settle for the alternative. I think I’m somewhere leaning toward the latter.

When I had the Impossible Burger — which everyone says tastes like meat and which I said I liked — one of my friends asked me “Aren’t you admitting that you like meat?

My answer was, Yes I do like the taste, but not if it’s real meat.

The difference is that when it’s real meat, I know in my mind that it used to be an animal, and not just plants that have been manipulated to taste like meat.

Here’s an analogy I can relate it to: Most people like cheese. If you smelled cheese, you’d be like “yum.”

Project Meal Prep | Aren't you admitting you like meat?

But…

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Project Meal Prep | Aren't you admitting you like meat?

Suddenly you’re grossed out, right?

Well, that’s how it is for me. Does this make sense? Let me know.

Where to eat vegan food in San Francisco

Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

I haven’t been blogging much lately because I’m actually in the middle of moving from San Francisco to London! I quit my job on Friday so now I have more free time and I’m going to try to blog more regularly.

I thought it would be appropriate to write a post on all the restaurants I’ve been eating at over the years. Some of them are little more esoteric and wouldn’t show up in those typical “Top 5 vegan restaurants” lists.

Pork Store Cafe (Haight)

Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

I eat here pretty often since I live closeby, and it’s a relatively popular breakfast place. There’s usually a short line in the morning. Despite the name of the restaurant, there are 2 “scrambled” tofu dishes that are vegan. One of them comes with spinach, mushrooms, and tomato and a side of hash browns. The hash browns are so crispy and good. I always ask them to add avocado too.

Peña Pachamama (North Beach / Russian Hill)

The one time I came here, they were setting up for a live band, which would have been cool if we stayed long enough to see them play. The menu seemed like it had half cooked vegan food and half raw vegan. My friend and I weren’t super hungry so we split the raw sampler, which was yummy. For dessert, we had a raw coconut cream pie and some mint tea. The pie was absolutely amazing and my mouth is watering as I’m thinking about it right now!

Haight Street Market (The Haight)

This grocery store has a deli section that sells prepared foods and sandwiches. I haven’t had any of the prepared food but some of it looks good. I tend to come here on Tuesdays when I’m not at work because of ~* double stamp Tuesdays *~ ! Basically, you can get 2 stamps on your HSM sandwich stamp card (instead of 1). After 8 stamps, you get a sandwich for free!

There are 2 sandwiches that I’m 99% sure are vegan. One is a spicy veggie with veganaise (in the pic above) and the other one is marinated tofu with Italian dressing. You get to choose your own bread and they make it right there in a few minutes.

Nourish Cafe (Inner Richmond)

Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

This place is very tiny and only has 4 small tables inside, and a few outside, but the food is tasty and you can see everyone cooking in the kitchen. I ordered the “Tuna” salad (above) and an apple donut, and both were really good.

Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar & Izakaya (Mission)

Shizen is hands down my favorite restaurant. I’ve talked about it before on my birthday post. I’ve taken so many people there who were skeptical first at and thought it was just going to be raw vegetables but were actually extremely impressed. One of them said he liked it even more than normal sushi!!!

There is always a line, except the one time I went at 4:50pm on a Monday. There was still a line but I was seated right away because there were only a few people ahead of me. One thing you can do if you have to wait is go to a nearby bar or coffee shop. They take your phone number, so just be ready to hurry back when you get a text.

Jardiniere (Hayes Valley)

Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

Jardiniere is a VERY fancy restaurant. I would definitely come here for a nice date. I think the Impossible Burger might be the only vegan thing on the menu. If you go, make sure to let them know you’re there for the burger (which is delicious). If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, read this blog post.Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

Vegan Burg (Haight)

This is a “fast food” style burger place that has a healthy spin. You can even get broccoli and “hot dog pieces” as a side (instead of fries). If you have to eat alone, it’s great because the restaurant is so casual.

Hella Vegan Eats (food truck)

I haven’t been to this food truck in a while. I used to spot it sometimes at the Civic Center Farmer’s market. I feel like the menu changes a lot, and it’s always very rich and heavy (think fried!) but undeniably delicious.

Gracias Madre (Mission)

Gracias Madre is a vegan Mexican restaurant that has communal seating, so you are either at the bar or at a big table with strangers. It’s kind of nice if you don’t mind talking to other people. The menu is pretty extensive and it’s always busy.

Cha-ya (Mission)

It seems like all of the servers at Cha-ya are older Japanese ladies, which makes me wonder if it’s a family business. There’s quite a variety of food to choose from, ranging from, including sushi, soups, salads and rice bowls. My favorite thing to get is Dengaku (it’s broiled eggplant with this amazing miso sauce)!

Chang’s Kitchen (Inner Sunset)

This is one of the places I order delivery from the most. I grew up on Chinese food, which is mostly meat, so I love that I can have their fake meat dishes.

Om Indian Cuisine (Haight)

This is the other place I tend to order delivery from. I live nearby (technically I could walk there if I weren’t so lazy) so I feel like delivery is SO fast and the delivery people are always so friendly and happy. As with most places, they have an entire “vegetarian” section on the menu, and the vegan items are indicated too. My absolute favorite thing to get is Baigan Bharta, which is an eggplant dish (yes I love eggplant).

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I hope you enjoyed this post and can now eat your way through San Francisco 🙂 Don’t worry, you can burn the calories by walking up and down all the massive hills!