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.

Cupcakesto
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!

img_20170215_074155

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

img_20170206_093522img_20170206_093528

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.

img_20170214_112326

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.

tumblr_m2pkeb16s81qb064c

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.

“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…

.
.
.

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).

.
.
.

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!

Eating the Impossible Burger

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

Last night I went out on a mission to eat the Impossible Burger. Currently, they only serve it in 4 restaurants in the world. One’s in LA, one’s in NYC, and two are in San Francisco, where I live — lucky me!!

I chose to go to the restaurant called Jardiniere to get it. It’s a “4 dollar sign” restaurant (aka FANCY A. F.). The burger isn’t explicitly advertised being vegan or vegetarian. To me, this means they’re trying to target the more upscale, meat-eating diners.

I think targeting meat-eaters is the way to go in order to make this catch on. Targeting vegans and vegetarians would be like preaching to the choir.

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

They have a limited supply of burgers so you have to get a ticket when they open at 5pm. I was actually the first person last night lol (ticket #1). They don’t start serving the burgers until 7:30pm, so I left and came back.

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

There’s a menu for the burger, which comes with optional beverage pairings. I didn’t get one because I already ordered a cocktail while I was waiting (and I can’t drink that much).

The first burgers started coming out at 8pm, and I got mine at 8:15.

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

The burger patty was exactly what I expected from what I read and saw on the Impossible Burger website, but I was still blown away at experiencing what food sorcery was done to create such a beef-like burger. The bun and all the toppings were also delicious!

The main ingredient that makes this burger so different is something called “heme“:

Heme contributes to the characteristic color and taste of meat, and it catalyzes all the other flavors when meat is cooked. Heme is exceptionally abundant in animal muscle — and it’s a basic building block of life in all organisms, including plants. We discovered how to take heme from plants and produce it using fermentation…

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

I mean, it’s pink inside! Like an undercooked burger would be. The texture and flavor were not at all like any other veggie burger I’ve eaten.

Full Ingredient List:
Water, Textured Wheat Protein, Coconut Oil, Potato Protein, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Leghemoglobin (heme protein), Yeast Extract, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.

I strongly believe that if you served this at a BBQ, no one would know it’s not meat. I wish I could buy it at the grocery store right now.

I’m so excited at getting the first taste of what I believe will be the future of meat. I truly think that in 10 years, mainstream meat products (as well as egg and dairy products) will not have once come from a living animal. Whether that’s lab-grown meat or whether we’re food sciencing the shit out of plants, I’m not sure. Either way, I’m thrilled that this is the future we’re heading toward.

My experience with using VeganEgg

cover

I saw VeganEgg at the grocery store a few weeks ago and was SO curious about it, so I picked one up. I thought it was funny how it came in an egg box considering there probably aren’t egg-shaped balls inside — or maybe there were? I had to know.

img_20161015_163545

Inside is actually a plastic bag with this yellow powder. I guess they wanted the box to be egg-shaped to help people associate it more closely with real eggs?

img_20161029_080757

The powder is composed mainly of something called Algal:

“Algal” simply means an ingredient is derived from algae. Whole algal flour and algal protein are plant-based ingredients, produced from native microalgae originally found in the Netherlands. This algal flour and protein naturally contain high levels of healthy lipids, carbohydrates, and micronutrients. These nutrient-dense microalgae also contain all essential amino acids and are a great source of dietary fiber.

img_20161015_163611

2 tablespoons of the VeganEgg powder + 1/2 cup of water is the equivalent of 1 egg.

img_20161029_080744

It actually smells like eggs, but with a much stronger egg smell. When I was baking with it, the batter smelled really egg-y and I was worried that the final baked product would still have the egg smell, but it actually went away.

I made pancakes, which turned out well, and I also made mini muffins, which did not cook all the way.

The muffin recipe called for 2 eggs, which meant 1 cup of water + 4 tablespoons of VeganEgg. The volume of liquid in 2 eggs is WAY LESS than 1 cup, so the batter was too liquidy and the muffins never cooked all the way through.

I learned afterward in a forum that you have to actually REDUCE the amount of water if you’re subbing for more than 1 egg.

img_20161029_081733

I also tried making scrambled eggs as suggested on the box. They didn’t really have a flavor but the texture was quite rubbery. I don’t know if I would eat it again by itself, although it seems like other people have had positive experiences.

Overall I think VeganEgg is a really neat invention and I’m going to continue experimenting with using it in baked goods now that I know what I was doing wrong.