Our trip to Vietnam – Da Nang & Hoi An.

 

Last week I finally faced my fears after 2 years and got on a flight! This may sound absolutely minuscule to someone without an irrational fear of flying but to me, this was such an accomplishment. Feeling like the Queen of Sheba, we landed an hour and half later in a cloudy Da Nang. We made our way to our accommodation to find that the hotel website had not only lied to us but had also cast us in a hotel from hell murder mystery, without our consent. Faster than you could say “Expat Brat”, I was typing my credit card details into booking.com and planning our escape. Now I have stayed in a range of accommodation, from hostels to insect infested Muay Thai camp tin houses, however, I will draw the line at red coloured stained walls.

After an awkward chat with the reception staff, we were on our way to the Furama hotel. Our room wasn’t ready until 2pm so we dropped our bags and made our way to their Italian restaurant DON CIPRIANI’S which totally hit the spot. The tiramisu deserves a special mention! Wowza

The Furama was a beautiful hotel where we spent the next 3 days indulging in utter relaxation, morning beach walks and forced yoga classes (sorry Phil!). Unfortunately the weather was pretty disappointing but with a 5* buffet breakfast, who really cares eh?

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One afternoon, we felt we needed to rip ourselves away from our comfortable little abode and see a little bit more of Da Nang. We first visited Han Market, which is named the best market in Da Nang. Safe to say, we lasted a total of 5 minutes browsing the same identical stuff at every stall and then went on our way to an Australian bar for the best coffee I’ve ever had…. ironically. Vietnamese coffee is on another level! 

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On our third day, we caught a 30 minute cab to Hoi An, just south of Da Nang but embodies a whole different vibe. Bustling with backpackers, stunning 17th century architecture with an array of shops, restaurants and galleries. A far cry from the peaceful, relaxed Da Nang.

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Luckily the weather improved greatly for the remaining 3 days of our trip which we spent at the Belle Maison, exploring and eating our way through Hoi An Old Town.

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One of my best meals from the holiday had to be from a restaurant called  Morning Glory (Thanks for the recommednation Sarah!) . Papaya mint chili peanut salad for me and a roasted pork Bahn Mi for Phil.

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On our last day, we went to An Bang beach to catch some much-needed rays. If you can ignore being asked every 10 minutes to buy something, then this beach is a great day out with great places to eat and relax.

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For dinner, we enrolled ourselves in a cooking course at Mamma’s Gourmet cooking class. Not only did we learn to cook some traditional Vietnamese dishes in a beautiful garden setting but we also had a great time being entertained by Chef Vu.

We cooked three courses of veggie spring rolls, zesty fish in banana leaf and a glorious mango and papaya salad.

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Back in Hong Kong with yet another sinus infection but nothing can take away the great feeling of finally facing your fears :)

 

 

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The hardest thing about being Vegan.

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It has been nearly 2 months now since I have been 100% vegan. I have learnt so much in such a short space of time and it truly feels like my mind has been opened up tenfold. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t feel I’ve had to give up much compared to the amount I have gained. However, the hardest things about going vegan may surprise you:

DEALING WITH OTHER PEOPLE…….

Prepare to be the topic of many dining conversations – Whether you like it or not, the fact that you eat plants, will be discussed and dissected and made fun of. It’ll be hard at times when all you really want to do is enjoy the meal in front of you instead of constantly being reminded that you’re the outcast in these situations.

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People will constantly ask where you get your protein from – When I first turned Vegan, my mum was worried that I would develop a protein deficiency. I would explain to her that there was such a wide range of vegetarian protein sources but, still she was wary. After a while, I started to doubt whether I was getting enough protein so I decided to download MyFitnessPal and track my macros for a week to see. To my surprise, I wasn’t only reaching my protein goals for the day, I was exceeding them. I was also consuming more protein than I was when I was consuming meat.

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You will feel down at times – Once you have educated yourself on what goes on in the meat and dairy industry, and I mean what REALLY goes on, you will have a hard time trying to accept that some people are happier not knowing or seeing the truth while others, just don’t care. You can’t make everyone watch slaughterhouse and dairy farm footage, read countless studies or research on the link with the meat industry and causes of climate change, species extinction, ocean dead zones, deforestation, world hunger and so on. And lastly, people often find change hard, which I can totally relate to. It took me 26 years of eating meat and dairy to change and Culture; History; Conformity; it’s what we are used to, so why would we change so easily?

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Everyone you know is suddenly a nutrition expert – Listen to your body, not to anyone else.

You will get defensive because you actually give a shit about something other than the Kardashians and premier league results.

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You will have to read every package label! You will have to avoid foods you never thought would include any animal byproducts. Who knew that Guinness contained fish bladder in its brew? Marshmallows contained gelatine? and raspberry-flavoured sweets contained the anal glands of a beaver? Not I.

People will think you’re trying to be morally superior when all you’re trying to do is make this lifestyle work for you and others who have expressed interest. I’m not out there to force anyone or try to turn my friends and family into strict vegans. I’m not saying you deserve to burn in hell because you eat meat nor am I trying to shove facts down people’s throats. I am no better than you because I live a certain way, I am just expressing myself and my experiences. If you can post countless LadBible articles and football rants, leave me to post adorable pictures of micro pigs and hummus recipes.

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You may be told how to live your life – You will be told by ‘famous’ Vegan Youtubers such as Freelee and durianrider that drinking coffee isn’t vegan (even with substituting with soy or almond milk) because it is an addiction, you will be told that you shouldn’t have children because of world hunger or eat cooked food before 4pm. You will be told to live your life a certain way, but don’t buy into the bullshit. It is your life and you should live it like you please, vegan or not. As long as it’s good for you and your body.

Even though, there are many hardships to endure, when becoming vegan, there are many more gains!

This is me and this is what I believe, if you don’t like seeing it, unfollow, unsubscribe, unfriend. It’s that simple. I am not going to change for no one :)

 

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Carnivore approved Black Bean and Chickpea Burgers! #Vegan

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For the first few weeks into my 30 day vegan challenge, I had this intense feeling of FOMO when it came to letting go of the usual dishes I have grown up with and burgers were one of them. At first, I found it rather hard having to give up my usual junk food treats such as pizza, burgers and desserts, but I soon realised that you can make a vegan alternative to nearly EVERY single dish.

So here’s my take on an easy, cheap, simple, healthier version of a burger:

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 INGREDIENTS

Vegan chickpea and black bean burgers (6 servings)
  • 1 tin (425 grams) chickpeas
  • 1 tin (425 grams) blackbeans
  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp himalayan salt (or regular table salt if needed)
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

(If you don’t have any of the above seasonings, just add whatever seasonings you fancy!)

1. Blend 1 cup of oats in a blender until it reaches a flour consistency.

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2. Add your garlic, paprika, oregano, salt, pepper, cumin, chilli powder and olive oil and mix.
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3. Rinse your chickpeas and black beans.
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4. Mix beans with the oat flour and mash together. (Add a little water if the mixture is too dry or add a little flour if too wet)
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5. Roll into balls and flatten and then refrigerate for 20 minutes. When ready, cook in frying pan with a tbsp of olive oil until the surface is browning and crispy.
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And don’t forget the oven roasted rosemary chippies!
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6. Create your burger! I added half an avocado, red onion and ketchup to my burger bap.
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7. Enjoy your burger! Enjoy it even more because no animals were harmed for your tastebuds and your digestive system will thank you :)
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OH MY GOD. BEING VEGAN IS SO HARD.

A couple days ago, whilst attempting to make plans with a friend, he mentioned we could go to a restaurant ‘for vegetables’ due to my dietary needs. It just got me thinking how HARD it is being Vegan, just having to eat vegetables all day. I mean, I could go as far as saying it is probably one of the HARDEST things I’ve EVER done.

I mean it is just so HARD eating pancakes with agave nectar and blueberries.

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Soy based Coffee ice-cream milkshake? YUCK YUCK YUCK. 

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I mean Samosa’s….. EWWW

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Moo-free Chocolate covered strawberries??? THAT IS SO WRONG. 

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Salads with  colourful and nutritious veg? I CANT EVEN.

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Oatmeal cookies…NO NO NO.

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Smashed avocado toast with paprika… AVOCADO IS THE DEVIL.

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Curries with vegetable pakora? HELL NAW.

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Even chips with curry sauce….. GROSE.

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Veggie burgers with onion rings, avocado and bbq sauce… VOMCANO. 

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PASTA’S….Garlic pasta in white wine sauce and olive oil… THAT’S JUST NUTS.

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Red wine with Oreo’s… WHAT IN GODS NAME!

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Cold pressed fruit and veggie juices…ERGH.

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Sweet potato and hummus? THINGS ARE GETTING OUT OF HAND NOW. 

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Massaman curry and spring rolls? THIS IS MADNESS.

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That doesn’t even cover all the awful nuts like almonds, cashews, peanuts and grains like rice and couscous, risottos. Don’t even get my started on those vile fruits like mangos, watermelons, berries and vegetables like butternut squash, pumpkin, peppers eggplant.

Being Vegan is just too damn hard.

Have a good week ya’ll!

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Weekend Blog: Brunches, BB gun wars and Burritos.

Apologies for the lack of posts (for those who read this blog!) The last week has definitely been a busy one. The first reason being, was that is was my the second anniversary of my dad’s death, which is always a tough time mentally, physically and emotionally, but it has also involved a couple nights of remembrance dinners and drinks. We decided that instead of eating out, I would cook dinner for the family and we would listen to all his old music. As I’m the only herbivore of the pack, I wanted to put out a spread which I know everyone would enjoy. It was a lovely night of memories, good food and paying our respects.  It also happened to be one of the best sunsets I have seen in a while.

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I prepared some roasted sweet potato and pumpkin, a Greek salad (without feta), hummus, olive dip, avocado dip, salsa, pull apart pesto bread,  and other tapas. I also bought some cold cuts and chicken for the carnivores.

On Saturday morning, we made our way to our friend’s 30th birthday brunch at The Grill Grand Hyatt Hotel in Wan Chai. I was a little unsure that I’d be able find vegan options considering the brunch specialised in meat and seafood ,but thankfully there were a range of Vegetarian options and a few Vegan options I could choose from. The quality of food was  a lot higher than some of the other brunches I have tried. Paired with free flowing Champagne, what’s not to like? I’d even go as saying this brunch may be one of the best in Hong Kong. 

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We awoke on sunday with slight hangovers so we decided to make some vegan pancakes! These pancakes are so easy to make and just include brown rice flour, mushed banana and your choice of sugar (we used coconut sugar). We added some cacao nibs and paired the pancakes with some mango. Delicious!

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Post lunch, we took our fur babies for a mini hike up the mountain not far from our house. As sad as it sounds, it totally made my weekend watching the rascals run around the rock pools like mad with their new puppy friends.

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After some much needed relaxation time by the rock pools, we headed back to get ready for our second birthday party of the weekend, which was at a BB GUN WAR ZONE! 4 hours of BB gun wars with 3 different maps = ultimate fun. I have to admit that the combination of experiencing some painful close up shots to the arm and not having protective shoes, the fear got the better of me and I took a few breaks. However, it was ended up being one of the more fun Sunday nights I’ve had in a while and definitely beat my usual routine of binge watching reality TV shows. Oh, AND I even got to order my favourite vegan burrito from Cali Mex ;)

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Thank you again for a great weekend!

Follow me on instagram: @maiden_hk

Vegan No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies! (healthier version)

 

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4 ingredients + all Vegan friendly + no oven required = HEAVEN. 

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Ingredients: (makes 8 cookies)

  • 1 cup jumbo oats
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 40 grams of Vegan chocolate
  • 1 1/2 bananas

Let’s begin!

  1. Mash the banana using a fork. (If your bananas aren’t ripe, throw them in the microwave like I did, for a minute until soft)

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2. Add a cup of oats, one tbsp of peanut butter, your cut chunks of your vegan/dairy free chocolate and mix!

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3. Once mixed, pick a handful of the mixture and roll into a palm sized ball but flattening into a cookie shape

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4. Place them on a plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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5. Enjoy!

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30 days of Vegan.

I can no longer stand sifting through my Facebook feed and being presented with crying calfs, skinned dogs and red raw chicken being pumped with hormones. I can no longer BARE to justify buying into these industries when I know the horrible truth and torture these beautiful animals have to endure just to satisfy my taste buds. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful that the truth of our meat and dairy industry is finally out there for all to see and it is becoming harder for people to put their blinkers on and play ignorance. But like I have said in my previous blogs, I absolutely love and worship animals and truly think that they are the greatest gift to this earth.

After transitioning from full on meat eater to pescetarian, over the last few weeks living purely on a vegetarian diet, I thought I would attempt to go the full circle and give up all animal products in the hopes that my overall health improves. I have done plenty of research on the nutritional benefits of the vegan diet as well as the deficiencies which can seriously deplete your health, but I guess if I don’t try, I will never know. These days there seems to be scientific evidence backing up every diet, fad or lifestyle, claiming to be the ‘healthiest’ and foods which go from being a cancer causing to a food you are recommended to consume daily. I am a strong believer that everyones body is different and one lifestyle may work for one and not the other, so over the next 30 days I will document my transition (why is it that every time I write transition I automatically envision Caitlin Jenner?) The good, the bad and the ugly. Here’s hoping I finally find a healthy lifestyle that agrees with me!

The beginning…

For breakfast, I started the day with a vegan protein smoothie bowl with spirulina, chia seeds, Rawnola, oats and peanut butter. These bowls are so easy to make and spending those extra two minutes to make it look pretty really makes me feel more grateful for the food I’m eating.

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My boyfriend and I have a wedding next weekend so we decided to head to Tsing Sha Tsui to  do a spot of shopping as well as check out this restaurant I’ve been reading about for a while.

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(Riding the Star Ferry NEVER gets boring.)

Woodlands is located in Wing On Plaza in TST and offers vegetarian (and vegan friendly) Indian food. My boyfriend and I are huge fans of indian food and I was extremely excited to try it!

 

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We shared the South Indian Thali platter which was a full course meal with plain rice and three purees and two chapatis. Two Bajis of the day, Sambar and Rasam. It was full of many flavours and surprisingly felt quite light. We then ordered the veggie samosa’s which were by far, without a doubt, the best samosa’s I have ever had!!! A thinner pastry than usual with extra filling. My boyfriend then ended his meal with an Indian dessert, Gulab Jamun which were deep fried milk balls soaked in syrup.

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After a long day of walking around TST and Mong Kok, we headed back home to catch up on the netflix series, Making A Murderer. For those who haven’t seen it, you must get on it! It may be the most gripping yet frustrating documentary series I have seen yet. My boyfriend and I have this unhealthy habit where we MUST purchase snacks for every film or series we’re following. SO, we picked up our favourite red, The Chocolate Block and a packet of Oreo’s (Oreo’s are vegan! Can you believe it?!)

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Today was not a healthy day at all and I now know more than ever that even though something may be vegan, It sure as hell doesn’t mean it is healthy. It is very easy to devour a pack of oreo’s just because you feel like you are deprived and want to satisfy your cravings. It requires a lot of effort to produce nutritious, balanced plant based meals which do not lack in protein, good carbs and fats.

After this binge fest, I started to feel really really strange. The headaches started to pop their ugly heads followed by a gradual decline in my mood. By the time it was early evening, I started to feel depressed for no apparent reason. I noticed I had a very short temper for the first few days as well as problems with digestion (I was burping every 5 minutes). My craving for cheese has been the strongest it’s ever been and I have been extremely fatigued.

For dinner, I decided to get over my fear of vegetable versions of meat (Quorn is the devil) and try making a veggie bacon and avocado sandwich. I was pleasantly surprised with how similar the ‘bacon’ smelt and tasted.

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I’m now 3 days in and I feel worse than I did before. Lets hope this cleansing/detoxing period doesn’t last long because I’m not sure how much longer I can feel like an irritable, achy zombie.

Wish me luck!

P.s – If you have any tips or product suggestions, please leave them in the comments section. Thanks

 

Half Term!

This time of year in Hong Kong has got to be my most favourite! The sun is shining, the temperature is dropping and all the best holidays are slowly approaching. And better yet, It’s HALF TERM BABY!

We had originally booked to fly to the Philippines for 8 days but due to the typhoon heading in that direction and my extreme fear of turbulence (ergh), we decided to reschedule to a later date. Even though I am experiencing severe FOMO and wish I could be diving with sea turtles and devouring as much filipino mango as possible, 10 glorious (polluted) days of exploring the city and outlying islands doesn’t sound half bad.

Yesterday we started off the weekend as normal with an early morning session of Grit Strength. I absolutely love the feeling I get once finished but in between all the burpees, clean and presses and spirit breaking plyo push ups, I feel my soul slowly crushing along with my dwindling consciousness. Following the dramatics and post workout adrenaline, we hit JASPAS for some breakie. It was my first time ordering the breakfast bruchetta and WOW.

Sourdough bread topped with diced red onion, garlic, tomato, avo, bacon and eggs cooked to your preference. 

After breakfast, a few friends and I decided to take the dogs on a little hike in Discovery Bay as it was such a nice day out.

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As a child I use to despise any form of physical activity outside of swimming and ballet and my parents would have to literally bribe me with food to go on weekend hikes with them. It’s funny to think that now as I’m the happiest version of myself when I’m up in the mountains with my dogs and friends.

With it being the month of Octoberfest, we decided to try the german establishment, The Berliner, in Discovery Bay, for lunch. I’m not a big meat eater so was rather hesitant at first. Thankfully my boyfriend likes to order a variety of things which allows me to pick at his (I’m sure much to his annoyance).

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Bretzels & Happy Schnappy – Barcadi rum, apple schnapps, raspberry puree, apple juice, lime and mint leaves. We thought the cocktail was a must order due to the glass boot but the novelty soon wore off due to the incredibly sweet and a little too sickly mixture.

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Pork Belly Sliders with onion marmalade and onion dressing. The boys thought this was the only dish worth ordering, they couldn’t get enough!

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I opted for the grilled chicken sausages with creamed leek and crispy roast potatoes. The best word to describe this dish would be SOGGY. There was nothing grilled ,crispy or flavoursome about it. I know menu photographs never normally live up to the presented meal but CMON! The boys decided on The Berliner Sausage with onions and roasted potato which they too described as purely average. I don’t think we will be back there in the future.

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Saturday night a friend had a spare couple of tickets to watch Marcus Brigstocke with The Punchline Comedy Club. It was my second comedy club experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it even though I spent half the time avoiding eye contact with the bloke in the hopes I wouldn’t be picked on.

Sunday morning was spent awaiting the snoring hungover boyfriend to awaken from his deep slumber and cooking up a few healthy fall inspired snacks.

Roasted Chickpeas are incredibly easy to make and packed with good sources of protein and fibre. You can make these with literally any spices or seasonings. I opted for a cinnamon and coconut sugar topping.

Instructions:

  • Drain two cans of chickpeas and scatter on an oven try with olive oil. 
  • Add 3 tbsp of cinnamon and mix 
  • Set oven to 180°C. Cook for 30 mins whilst occasionally turning chickpeas. Grill for 10
  • Sprinkle 3 tbsp of Coconut sugar or honey if you prefer. 

I’m looking forward to a few more hikes, more tested recipes, dinners with friends before the week is over!

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Day 1 of healthy eating

Thanks to the lovely weather we we’re graced with this weekend, we unfortunately had to cancel our stay-cation in Sai Kung. Even though my boyfriend grew up in Sai Kung and his family reside there, both him and I have yet to go to Tai Long Wan. Tai Long Wan boasts probably the nicest beach in Hong Kong. This clean, untouched beach has crystal clear water and is only accessible if you hike over or drive by boat. Thankfully, today was much nicer so we took one of our dogs up the mountain here in Discovery Bay for a quick hours walk. I absolutely love hiking and can’t wait to get back into it when the weather cools down and all the creepy crawlies go into hibernation!

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On friday, we had the day off so we decided to go to Soho for lunch. I took my boyfriend to Enoteca, which was one of my favourites back in the day and I couldn’t wait to try all the dishes my friends and I use to devour on a saturday night. The dips here are absolutely delicious and accompany the tapas really well. As I’m newly pescetarian (in the hopes of one day transitioning to vegetarian for environmental and ethical reasons), we steered away from the meat section and ordered an array of tasty yet greasy tapas.

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Rosemary sea salt tossed potato wedges with balsamic dip

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Wild mushroom & parmesan risotto balls

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Herbed fish goujons with chilli-lemon aioli  

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Pan-fried chilli garlic shrimp. Probably the best shrimp I have ever had! The coriander, chilli, garlic, lemon juice flavouring was a serious party in your mouth!

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Lastly, the Creamy brie & roasted garlic with toasted focaccia

And to finish it all off, we headed to Holly Brown for gelato and then a little afternoon Shisha to relive our teenage years. Whilst enjoying this piece of heaven, the guilt started to kick in which led us to promising one another that we would finally start this healthy eating programme our friends have introduced us to.

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People often say, start as you mean to go on. Full of enthusiasm, our weekly shop completed and our food plan in order, we completed day 1 without any problems! Even though it requires A LOT of prep work, it feels great to be cutting out the crap as well as eradicating all of my intolerance foods. I hope to record and blog everything I eat and the changes or frustrations I encounter on the way. However, I must admit, I am already counting down the days until our cheat meal on sunday!

Day 1

Breakfast: 3 egg whites, 1 egg yolk omelette with chia seeds, onion and tomato.

Mid morning (post hike): banana, blueberry and pineapple fruit blend

Lunch: Salmon, half a sweet potato and a cup of broccoli

Mid afternoon (post TRX): Half a cookie’s & cream Quest Bar

Dinner: Atlantic cod with homemade tomato sauce and pak choi

Snack: 2 Oat cookies (mashed banana, GF oats, Agave nectar and brown rice flour)

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This weekend, I purchased my Elle Fit Active E guide bundle (Get Bendy, Get Splits and Get Inverted) I have followed @Elle_fit on Instagram for a while now and have been wanting to try out her guides to accompany my Hit training and weight sessions. I have really tight hip flexors so I can’t wait to get my stretch on and edge myself closer to being able to do the splits.

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Tomorrow is my last day before I start work, studying and early morning get ups. Here’s to a positive, energetic and healthy week ahead.

K.

Home is where the warmth is..

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After a year and a half in London, my boyfriend and I have packed up and returned to the 852! Hong Kong to me is not only my birthplace, my home, my happy place. I had a great time in London and was so grateful to be able to meet some amazing new people as well as catch up with my high school expat brat mates. I got to chance to live in Bayswater, Clapham and Camden and travel around Spain, Greece and Belgium as well as the UK.

I’m a big believer in the idea that your environment shapes everything in your life. That includes people, work, temperature and even scenery. As time went on, I started to get the itch to be back in my natural habitat, humidity, pollution and all. I’ve always known I was an extremely seasonal person and that my wellbeing is dependent on it but after constant chronic fatigue, lack of motivation, a weight gain of a stone and a half (damn you UK street food and dominos!) and a handful of health issues, I couldn’t get back quick enough.

After a very turbulent journey back to HK, we were greeted with a lovely 6 day storm which allowed us to get over probably the worst jet lag we’ve had to date. Its now been 7 weeks since we’ve landed and moved back home and I’m really enjoying seeing old places and faces. I joined my old gym, The HIT room, and have thrown myself into Body Pump, Grit strength and Plyo, hiking and even a little cross fit.

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I feel myself getting fitter as each day goes by but I have always struggled keeping my nutrition in check. I have found it very hard to completely cut out all of my intolerances and enjoy the food i’m consuming but with each week that goes by, I have made small changes which have kept me on the right track. I have also chosen to limit the alcohol I consume as lets be honest, It turns me into the worst possible version of myself (with no filter!) as well as leaves me with 3 day hangovers and palpitations resulting in bad food choices and extreme laziness. Its been tough during social events to not want to keep up with others and i have slipped up a few times..which is sometimes easier trying to explain to young adults that you don’t actually enjoy binge drinking.

It’s been great to be able to have the time to cook meals and try out some new recipes.

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Last month, My mother and I went to a 3 hour seminar at I-Detox where we were taught how to make healthier breakfast alternatives. At only $199 for the session, I came back having learnt (and tested!) a variety of options. Almond Milk (unsweetened and cacao mint), Nut Cheese, Overnight oats and GF breakfast muffins to name a few. I’ve attempted most of the recipes and have found that Cashew Nut Cheese has got to be my favourite! With it being so easy to make and 100% Dairy and Lactose free, I would happily substitute this cheese for any creamy cheese.

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I started out with soaking a cup of Cashew nuts over night to allow them to soak in the water (which will allow a more creamier taste.) After around 10 hours soaking, I drained the water and added my cashews to the blender. I then went on to add 2 probiotics capsules and oregano and cajun seasoning. With half a cup of water added, I blended the mixture until smooth. Using a nut milk bag or a old (unopened!) pair of tights. I placed the mixture in and squeezed out all the excess residue. I let the mixture set for around 10 hours until it represented a firm ball shape. For a less time consuming recipe, blend the soaked cashews and eat as a more hummus type texture.

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Another one of my favourite healthier alternatives I have recently become OBSESSED with, is French Toast! As I can’t say I ever had French Toast as I child, I feel that I have been trying to catch up on missed time. Try this recipe whenever you’re feeling like a treat.

1.Crack open 2 egg whites and 1 egg yolk and whisk
2. Add 2 tsp of Chia seeds and whisk until mixed
3. Heat 2 tsp of Coconut Oil in a frying pan (instead of butter or oil)
4. Dip your slices of Rye Bread into the eggy, chia seed mixture and place in the frying pan to cook.
5. When slightly browning, take out of pan and use 1 tsp of Agave Nectar to cover (instead of honey or maple syrup)
Add Blueberries or strawberries for extra sweetness.

GF & DF Spicy, Saucy, Soft Shell Fish Tacos!

I can’t fathom the fact that it was near 30 degrees in London for multiple days in March and now in the middle of May, the sun is shining, the wind is blowing and I’m still in a jumper! I’m really going to miss the clean fresh air here in the UK but I am certainly looking forward to going back to the heat (smog?) of Hong Kong. As I have yet to embody that summer excitement as the warm months draw nearer, I thought it would be a great time to make my SPICY, SAUCY, SOFT SHELL FISH TACOS (not to mention they are also gluten-free, wheat free, dairy free, egg free, soy free AND full of flavour!

After binging on all the gyros, feta and wine during my trip to Santorini, I have found it hard to get back into the rhythm of watching what I eat and I have definitely started to feel the effects. The headaches are back, the lack of energy has peered its ugly face, I am constantly fatigued at all hours of the day and not to mention the fact that my stomach and face is so bloated I could easily be mistaken for an 8 month pregnant lady. At no fault but my own, it’s time to cut the excuses and give my body back the love it gives to me! I opted for some Tilapia fillets as my local Waitrose didn’t have the largest selection. Sole, red snapper, grouper, halibut or cod also work well. Whatever tickles your fancy. I seasoned the Tilapia with cumin, chilli, paprika, coriander, parsley and a splash of lime juice and placed in the oven for 15 minutes at 200°C.

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Whilst the Tilapia is baking, I prepared my toppings. I wanted to create a balance between spice, sweetness and a buttery flavour. (Avocado makes a great butter alternative and It is loaded with healthy fats, fibre and various important nutrients) IMG_8799

Toppings: I diced some cherry tomatoes, cut some cabbage and watermelon, grilled some red onion and picked some coriander.

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Sauce: I blended 2 avocados with fresh lime juice, almond milk and jalapeños for the spicy creamy sauce.

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For the taco shells I used soft corn tortillas by Cool Chile Co. They are 100% gluten free and contain nixtamalised ground maize, water and sea salt. I absolutely love them and they don’t leave you feeling groggy after.

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Taco: Heat a dry pan until medium hot. Warm each side of the tortilla until toasty but still soft. Lastly, add your toppings and enjoy!

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K

Camden Lock Street Food

Camden Lock has got to be one of, if not, my favourite place to eat in London. If you can withstand the mass amount of people and tourists pushing each other around, the street dealers and the drunks, you cannot be disappointed. The food is incredible with an array of cuisines and tastes and nothing quite beats the quirky vibes attracting an alternative crowd. I think everyone can agree that there is literally never a dull moment whilst walking through Camden.

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I dragged my hungover self to Camden Lock Street Market in the hopes of bringing myself back down to earth with some of my favourite artery clogging dishes. Please keep in mind that there is so much more variety at the lock, it was my alcohol infused body making the not so daring choices!

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Firstly we hit The Mac Factory, whom specialise in gourmet Mac and Cheese. They have a number of flavours which include:

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NostalgicA classic blend of mature cheddar, parmesan and mozzarella

La Med BabeNo nut basil pesto, confit tomato, bocconcini    

Super Mario – Sautéed Portobello mushrooms, truffle oil, oven roast garlic  

Posh Spice – Spicy chorizo, harissa, lyonaisse onion  

The Big Smoke – Home smoked chicken, fire roasted peppers, apple wood smoked cheddar

Blue Jacob – Bbq glazed, slow cooked short rib of beef, danish blue cheese, spring onion

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we opted to share the The Big Smoke which was oozing with cheese and had the optimal amount of flavour and crunch.

As if we hadn’t already gone way over the weekly dairy consumption recommendation, we made our way over to the TOASTITS for the best toastie (grilled cheese for you Americanos) my taste buds have had the pleasure of experiencing. They offer gluten free bread which is always a plus.

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We went our usual cheddar avocado and parmesan mash with Prosciutto and chilli flakes toastie. The cheese was melted to perfection with each of the flavours not too overbearing for the other.

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To end the day, we ventured over to my personal favourite find, COOKIES AND SCREAM. Every product is dairy, egg, wheat and gluten free. All bakes are low fat, boasts low cholesterol and are made with unrefined sugars. This place is extremely popular and with everything freshly baked that morning, you’ll have to make sure you get there before everything runs out!

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We shared The Affogato shake which comes with a fresh shot of espresso. It completely hit the spot and didn’t leave us with the sugar shakes.

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Other favourites from our previous visits include Churros, Churrasco & Wild Game BBQ and Oliver’s Fish & Chips –

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I’m already looking forward to my next hungover venture!

A Foodies WORST Nightmare

All my life I have suffered with severe fatigue, bloatedness, lack of energy, headaches, joint pains, dizziness…you name it, I experience it on a daily basis. I can’t actually remember the last time I woke up feeling refreshed with at least one or more of the symptoms above. After trying to live a healthier life, exercising regularly and educating myself on nutrition, I had hoped to see improvements. Frustratingly enough, after completing an intolerance test, my worst nightmare has peered it’s evil little head.  I’m going to have to be one of those Gluten Free, Dairy free assholes. 

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My report came back and I have a long list of Intolerance’s Ranging above 90%. Wheat, dairy, egg whites, soy, flaxseed, lentils, rye,  lettuce (who on earth is intolerant to five different types of LETTUCE?) green beans, sheep & cows milk. This concludes that I will no longer get to indulge in the food of gods…. cheese. Bread. No pizza, no chocolate, no eggs, no bakery items, only a small number of sauces, only a small number of meats as wheat flour or soy is literally in everything! #$%!^&!!! 

After cutting out all the above and spending countless minutes reading the ingredients of every single food item I laid my hands on, I started to feel great. I was sleeping well (apart from the occasional disturbances from my snorlax boyfriend), bursting with energy and wasn’t really experiencing any symptoms, bar anger and frustration. However, by day 5, my body was experiencing withdrawal symptoms and turning me into a complete and utter psycho. I felt angry at the world for no particular reason and I felt like I was truly craving processed crap like my life depended on it. Since then, I have had a large number of weak moments which have resulted in painful symptoms for the next 2-3 days.

After attempting to eliminating my intolerances for the second time, I have purchased Deliciously Ella’s book for some inspiration. Her book is filled with gorgeous looking recipes, full of colour, with a number of alternatives to your favourite junk food items. I would highly recommend this book to everyone and anyone interested in nutrition and clean eating. Although you’ll need a good trip (and pricey one at that) to your nearest WholeFoods or local organic shop, her recipes are all pretty simple! Check them out here, http://deliciouslyella.com 

Below I attempted her Sweet Potato Brownies –

Ingredients - sweet potato, medjool dates, ground almonds, spelt flour, raw cacao powder, organic 100% pure maple syrup.
Ingredients – sweet potato, medjool dates, ground almonds, brown rice flour, raw cacao powder, organic 100% pure maple syrup.

and an inspired version of her blueberry muffins…..

Ingredients: Brown rice flour, ground cinnamon, almond milk, ground almonds, fresh blueberries and 100% organic maple syrup
Ingredients: Brown rice flour, ground cinnamon, almond milk, ground almonds, fresh blueberries and 100% organic maple syrup

and for all you pancake lovers, who actually can consume egg (weehh) and you’re craving a full english on a sunday morning, try this healthier breakfast alternative my boyfriend & I created –

Quinoa flakes, 2 egg whites, almond milk and chia seeds, topped with blueberries. Nom dot com! (Ignore the bacon, naaat so healthy!)
Quinoa flakes, 2 egg whites, almond milk and chia seeds, topped with blueberries. Nom dot com! (Ignore the bacon, naaat so healthy!)

The road to giving up meat.

I’ve wanted to be vegetarian since as long as I can remember. There has been this little bothersome voice in my head reminding me of the hypocrisy I’ve been living everyday. How can I love animals so much when I spend every single day supporting their deaths by eating their flesh?  I’ve managed to find every excuse in the book for not turning vegetarian, from worrying about my protein intake (laughable when you see these two former meat loving bodybuilders turn Vegetarian – Youtube Link) to giving up my worlds biggest bacon lover title. After stumbling upon a number of slaughterhouses videos on Facebook and reading this one poem that stuck out to me like a sore thumb, I finally thought enough is enough, I can no longer justify hiding my eyes from all the lives I’ve taken for food consumption. I am not deserving or worthy of killing an innocent animal so why have I thought so for so long?

Before you start rolling your eyes at yet another animal loving, hippy living, meat bashing rant, realise that this is not one. I have spent 25 years eating meat and I will admit, Meat is delicious. Steak is delicious. Bacon is delicious. Fried chicken is delicious. I am a strong believer that everyone should have a choice…. but I’ve made mine and my choice should not affect anyone else around me. Throughout school, we are taught that everyone is different and to celebrate our differences. So why is when someone gives up meat, it is seen as a negative socially? Just a little plant-based food ;) for thought.

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It’s been around 3 months since I’ve cut out poultry and my current diet is 85% vegetarian, 15% pescetarian. I have noticed slight changes in my energy levels and health but I’m not going to lie,  I have also had a couple slip ups in that time! Once I’ve educated myself more on having a healthy plant based lifestyle choice, I will eliminate seafood. It has been a challenge at times and change won’t happen overnight, but any step towards veganism or vegetarianism to me, is a step in the right direction.

Now enough of the self evaluations! Here are some of my favourite HEALTHY pescetarian/vegetarian meals: (Not included, pictures of my nacho and pizza binges! oh fuck it, here’s a pic below)

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FOREVER DREAMING OF NACHOS AND JALAPENO POPPERS

Homemade Veggie Lasagna: 

Made with brown rice pasta sheets (Gf) and Eggplant as layers.

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Salmon on a mixed chilli bean salad with avocado, feta, jalapeños and spring onion. 

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Pulled Salmon (seasoned with Manuka honey and chilli powder) with Sweet Potato Wedges

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Salmon and Sweet potato cakes

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Gluten Free Fish Tacos

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Tomato Chickpea Curry

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Quorn Shepards Pie

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A salmon burger w/ avo, feta and caramelised onions and lemon roasted brussel sprouts and sweet potato.

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Omelette 1: 3 egg chia seed omellete with crumbed feta, spinach, onion and pesto

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A Chickpeas, capsicum, spinach, cucumber, red onion, halloumi and crispy noodles with an apple cider vinegar dressing salad

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Omelette 2: chia seeds, 3 eggs (2 whole, 1 egg white) midget trees, tomato, red onion, olives, goats milk feta and a dash of cayenne pepper

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Quinoa, cayenne peppered salmon, brocolli and goats milk feta mashup salad

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Chilli cauliflower rice with cashews, raisins and chickpeas.

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If you want to know any of the recipes, shoot me a comment and i’ll direct the info your way :)

Going Pescetarian

For as long as I can remember,  I have always loved meat. Steak, burgers, nuggets..you name it, I crave it. There is no better taste than a juicy medium-well steak in my eyes and whilst I’m sat here salivating at the mouth, I have to remind myself that for a person who’s favourite things in the world are animals, why should I be so hyprocritial to indulge in them? I wouldn’t gobble up my boyfriend (even when he’s spent too long on FIFA) so why should I have the right to eat the things I love. Why should I support such an inhumane industry when I want to spend my life trying to protect and stand up for these beautiful creatures? For others, it will not seem hypocritical but for me, it is something that questions my entire being and values. With that being said, I have not and will never judge anyone for the dietary choices they choose to make.

I’m a strong believer in taking things step-by-step and not going full speed ahead. Starting today, I will be cutting out all meat except for fish, eggs and cheese in the hopes of eventually in years to come, cutting those out too. A couple months back I decided to cut out all meat and experienced more side effects than I anticipating. The first few days consisted of gruelling headaches and extreme fatigue whilst my body was detoxing and getting rid of all toxins, chemicals, antibiotics, added hormones, feed additives, flavor enhancers, age-delaying gases and salt-water solutions found in meat. I felt ill and very very weak. This time around I will be educating myself on the right protein sources and making sure I am consuming a healthy, balanced diet. Luckily, in London, meat substitutes and vegan/vegetarian restaurants are extremely popular and readily available.

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My #vege sheperds pie 💛 #Quorn with onion, garlic, stock & spices with a half potato & sweet potato with almond milk topping

I can’t guarantee I won’t slip off the bandwagon and at times and I may even treat myself to a birthday burger next month (25 years old.. scary stuff!) but no journey is complete without a few hiccups.

But to me, no taste will be worth an animals life. Simple as. 

In the process of bettering my health, I like to occasionally rummage through my favourite London store in Bayswater, Planet Organic. It’s incredibly sad but roaming round this organic haven, attempting to find healthier substituted products is just my ultimate de-stresser. Below are some of my favourites.

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Instead of white/wholemeal bread. Try Biona’s organic Rye Bread – Amaranth & Quinoa – Goes amazingly well with avocado and cheese!  Biona’s organic crunchy peanut butter is also great as it includes no added salt, sugar or palm oil and is vegetarian, vegan, gluten and diary free for those with allergies and intolerances.

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As I’m allergic to caffeine, Rooibos (Red Bush) is perfect for a little sweet pick me up after lunch. Rooibos originates from South Africa and boosts so many health benefits. It contains powerful antioxidants, has a high mineral content, aids iron absorption, relieves stomach and skin complaints and aids a restful sleep. After dinner, I also like to treat myself to a square or two of Green & Black’s organic 70% dark chocolate. It does the trick without splurging on a chocolate bar. 

As I start my quest to implement a healthier, balanced life, any pescetarian/vegetarian/vegan recipes recommendation would be greatly appreciated.

Onwards and upwards!

K