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!

Updates & things I’ve cooked lately

Hey guys, so I haven’t done a proper meal prep post in a long time. It’s not because I haven’t been meal prepping, I’ve just been feeling too unmotivated to do the photo shoots with the groceries all laid out, etc.

I bought a really nice digital camera a few months ago and I accidentally pushed it off my desk and the screen cracked. I’m so sad I can’t use it anymore and Best Buy declared it unrepairable — FML! So now all my pics aren’t so great anymore. Also, I don’t want to be a weirdo taking food pics by the window at work and sometimes it’s already dark out when I’m eating dinner and I can’t get good lighting.

I digress. I made some really yummy and interesting things lately.

#1 is this posole. I didn’t know what posole was before this, I just picked the recipe out of Minimalist Baker‘s cookbook because I liked the picture lol. Someone at work asked me what I was eating when I was having this, and I embarrassingly pronounced the word wrong (WHOOPS).

Project Meal Prep | Vegan posole

Anyway, if you didn’t know, posole is a Mexican soup that has hominy in it. (“Posole” actually means “hominy”). Living in California, I always see hominy in the canned goods aisle at the grocery store, but I never cooked with it before. It basically looks like really huge corn kernels, but with a different texture.

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Another thing I’ve always seen but never cooked with is tomatillos, which were called for in this soup. I broiled them until the skin peeled off easily, then pureed them with some poblano peppers. I posted an Instagram story of how I made them, so follow me if you want to see future cooking stories!

The 2nd best thing I made lately was this Thai inspired soup by Laura Vitale. The base is so simple — veggie broth, coconut milk and red curry paste — but the dish is so flavorful and comforting. Soups to me are like a hug from the inside (is that weird to say?!)

Project Meal Prep | Thai noodle soup

I baked bread for the 2nd time ever. This one has a mix of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. It’s so delicious when toasted! I got the recipe from Minimalist Baker again, but I skipped the step of adding seeds and oats and re-kneading.

Project Meal Prep | Semi-whole-wheat bread

And the rest, which I don’t have much to comment on…

Project Meal Prep | Tahini dip
Tahini dip with garlic and lemon
Project Meal Prep | Chocolate chip zucchini muffins
Chocolate chip zucchini muffins
Project Meal Prep | Oatmeal
Oatmeal with raisins, walnuts, and raspberries

Time for some random updates.

chihuahua

Two weekends ago I happened upon a huge animal rescue event in Jack London Square in Oakland. There were dozens of different organizations and animals up for adoption — dogs, cats, rats, and even pigeons!

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I almost flipped out when I saw the pug rescue. I love pugs so much, I just wanted to lay in the middle of the enclosure and let them walk all over and around me. I was also happy to know that there are breed-specific dog rescues, so there’s absolutely no reason for anyone to go to a breeder.

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Last update: I’m going to Vietnam in 9 days! I’ve never been there before, and I’ll be on a backpacking-style trip. I’m so excited and trying to learn some Vietnamese phrases.

If you made it to the end of this post, THANK YOU!

Vegan in LA & Disneyland

LA Roadtrip

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I drove to LA to see Louis CK perform. The show was on Sunday, so we decided to go to Disneyland on the Saturday.

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Roadtrip - popcorn in the car

For the trip there, I packed a bunch of food since we were going to be in the car for about 7 hours and didn’t want to stop to eat dinner. We packed a bunch of wraps with Tofurkey, lettuce, tomato, and Just Mayo, as well as apples, bananas, bars, and popcorn. It was more than enough food!

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I did a little bit of research about vegan food in Disneyland, and I read that there were a lot of options. Wherever we went, I just asked if something could be made vegan, and I found that the staff were very accommodating.

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For breakfast (not pictured), the place we went to just had pancakes and and hash browns. The pancakes were pretty flavorless, so I put jam on top since the syrup they had contained corn syrup.

Disneyland bunless

For lunch I had a veggie burger. The bun wasn’t vegan but they offered to swap it with lettuce instead. It was really tasty but I was actually hungry just an hour later.

Disneyland Redd Rockett's Pizza Port - Forest of Endor pasta

So I shared the Forest of Endor (without cheese) from Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port with my boyfriend. It was actually really tasty.

Disneyland vegan burger

After almost 11 hours of being in the park, we finally had dinner, and I had burger yet again — it was the Vegan Burger from Carnation Cafe. I got fries instead of fruit, which is not the healthy option obviously, but I was hungry!

Disneyland - Minute Maid Soft Frozen Lemonade

Vegan desserts they have are frozen lemonade and this non-dairy soft serve ice cream thing called Dole Whip. If you’re curious what’s in it, here are the ingredients.

Overall this was not a day of healthy eating, but I felt fine, probably from walking and standing for 13 hours. Beggars can’t be choosers, but I did wish I could have eaten something in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head.

Btw, I was worried they would confiscate outside food, but they didn’t, so you can totally bring your own snacks!

Cafe Gratitude - I Am Nourished

The next day, we went to our AirBnB in Venice Beach, and for brunch we went to Cafe Gratitude. Each item on the menu is named with an adjective, like drip coffee is “Courageous” and when you order, you say what you want by saying “I am…” and then the dish name, eg. “I am courageous”.

The dish above had tempeh, gluten-free french toast, kale, and coconut bacon. It was so good.

Cafe Gratitude - I Am Trusting

My boyfriend ordered the BBQ tempeh scramble (“Trusting”), which came with gluten-free toast and avocado. We shared both dishes.

Cafe Gratitude

For dinner, we went to a restaurant called Tocaya Organica. It’s a vegan-first restaurant, that has non-vegan options as secondary items you can add to your meal.

Tocaya Organica - Plantain chips with guacamole

To start, we had plantain chips (I think they were baked) with guac and pomegranate seeds. I don’t know what they put in the guac but it was like the holy grail of guacs.

Tocaya Organica - Horchata

Tocaya Organica - FAJITA DEL REY

I had horchata and a fajita bowl with soy chorizo, salsa, rice, guac, peppers and onions, some kind of sauce, black beans, and non-dairy cheese. It was delicious but a little too salty.

I highly recommend these two restaurants if you’re ever in LA!

 

I hope you enjoyed this post! Where are you going this summer?

Adventures in trying to be vegan in Barcelona

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Casa Batlló, a house in Barcelona designed by the famous architect, Gaudi

Hello from Barcelona / a town close to it!

Firstly, I apologize for the quality of some of these photos. Don’t laugh (ok you can laugh): I brought a high-quality digital camera with me on this trip, but I’ve been so afraid of getting pickpocketed that I haven’t been bringing it out. It’s been a couple of days and I still have all my belongings, so I feel safe enough to start using it from now on.

I haven’t been eating completely vegan on this trip since it’s been incredibly difficult, especially when I’m out with other people or not in the city. I do, however, want to share with you what I have been eating that is dairy and egg-free.

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The first place I went to was a teeny tiny but really popular tapas place called Quimet y Quimet.

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It’s like the size of a walk-in closet. You had to eat standing up, and the walls were covered floor-to-ceiling with alcohol.

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They had a delicious antipasti mixed vegetable plate with leeks, artichokes, peppers, olives, and mushrooms topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I don’t think there was anything else vegan on the menu — just a lot of cheese and meat.

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I ordered this vegetable paella in hopes that it was vegan, but I actually have no idea what’s in the sauce aside from tomatoes. A man was staring at me curiously as I was eating it, and I have no idea why. I ordered it around 4pm and ate it from the pan with a spoon, so maybe you’re not supposed to do one or all of those things.

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Whenever I pass by a McDonald’s in a different country, I have to go inside. Even though I almost never eat there, I’m super curious to see what twist on the menu each country has. In Barcelona, they have mostly the same items as in North America, but with a wider variety of pastries (including macarons), AND you can get gazpacho (cold tomato soup) in a bottle, shredded carrots, and cherry tomatoes.

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Now, onto my favorite part of this trip so far. For the last few meals, most of what I’d been eating was rice, bread, churros (they’re vegan by the way) and potatoes, and I was feeling pretty crappy about not having much protein or fresh produce, so I was ecstatic when I went into this vegetarian restaurant called Teresa Carles.

I wanted everything on the menu, but I ended up getting this AMAZING vegan ceviche which was also raw and gluten-free! According to the men, it has: young coconut, mushroom, hiziki seaweed, avocado, red pepper, and red onion over a base of coconut water and spirulina. I’ve never had a sauce with spirulina in it, so I thought that was pretty creative! The mushroom and young coconut gave the dish a lot of “meaty” texture.

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Fruits on fruits on fruits!

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Cute but probably doesn’t taste great

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My other favorite part of this trip was coming across this giant food market called Mercado de La Boqueria. There were so many vendors selling smoothies and endless varieties of fruit and pre-cut fruit. There was like every kind of tropical fruit it seemed — tamarind, guava, passionfruit, dragonfruit, rambutan, lychee, mangosteen, and more! There were other vendors selling infinite varieties of dried fruits, candied fruits, nuts, dried hot peppers, oils, etc. I wish I had been eating fruit from there the whole time and wanted to take home so much more than I did, but I also didn’t wanna carry around too much stuff while doing touristy things.

 

Travelling with snacks on snacks on snacks

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When I’m travelling or out and about, I’ve learned to ALWAYS have snacks on hand.

How many times have you gotten hangry (hungry + angry) at your travel partner?

How many times have you gotten hungry while out and ended up grabbing something that you didn’t REALLY want to eat, but it was the only option?

I always used to feel this way at the airport. It makes me cringe to pay expensive prices for crappy food.

I had an overnight flight last night and I ate a large-ish dinner just before going to the airport. I knew I’d get hungry again later so I brought some snacks that I bought along with my groceries on Sunday:

  • popcorn with Nutritional Yeast
  • an apple
  • cherry tomatoes
  • grapes

I also like bringing ear plugs and an eye mask so I can fall asleep in total darkness and silence. Ideally I wouldn’t even have taken a red-eye flight, because poor sleep quality = a weakened immune system. Also I feel pretty terrible the next day when I haven’t slept well, but sometimes you don’t have much of a choice.