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Exploring London • The Barbican Estate


Who else here loves Brutalist architecture? We may be in the minority; I get why weathered concrete and harsh lines wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t know what it is about it though, I just love it!

The Barbican Estate is probably the biggest cluster of Brutalist buildings in London. It’s right in the centre of the city (near Moorgate), yet this unique residential estate has a subculture of its own, housing theatres, exhibition halls, other arts venues, a conservatory and a range of eateries.

My friend and I went to a fashion exhibition and we ended up strolling around the beautiful conservatory afterwards. I managed to get a few snaps! Don’t ask what the plants are though, sadly I am not a botanist.

If anyone else has visited the Barbican, I’d love to know what you thought. And the rest of you: even if you hate the architecture, you’ll probably find a cool exhibition or show to mull over. It’s worth a trip!

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Sweet Potato And Banana Muffins (Vegan)

I love a bit of experimental baking, especially when it’s vegan. So these puppies were the result of me trying to use up a couple of sweet potatoes I had lying around. They are refined sugar free, dairy free, cholesterol free and fat free (bar the use of some seeds), so basically the same thing as eating a salad, right?

Here’s my recipe (makes 10-12):

2 small sweet potatoes (peeled, boiled and mashed)
3 very ripe bananas (mashed with a little hot water)
1 tbsp milled flax seeds soaked in 2 tbsps of water (a flax ‘egg’)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
1 tbsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of ground ginger
3 tbsps of mixed seeds (sunflower and pumpkin)
4 heaped tbsps of self-raising flour
1 tsp of baking powder

Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to gas mark 6
  • Line tin with muffin cases
  • Mix wet ingredients in a mixing bowl
  • Incorporate dry ingredients and mix well
  • Add in seeds and anything else you fancy (raisins, nuts, chocolate chips etc.)
  • Pour mixture into cases (about two thirds of the way full)
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for roughly 25-30 minutes

*SPOILER ALERT*

No, they won’t taste exactly like regular muffins, won’t be as crumbly, and you may need the patience of a monk to get them out of their paper cases, but they’re still super good and incredibly moist! Try serving with a good drizzle of maple syrup and a healthy dollop of your favourite nut butter.

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• 5 Simple Breakfasts •

Hello pals. I’m easing my way back into blogging by writing about what I love the most!

Anyone who is trying to cut down on caffeine, but loves the taste of coffee, seriously needs to get their hands on the Whole Earth No Caf Coffee Alternative made from barley – it’s magic! I find that you need a good 2-3 heaped teaspoons for you to feel like you’re getting the real deal. I sometimes drink it with breakfast (on the rare occasion where I’m not in the mood for tea), with a good glug of oat milk and a little date syrup.

What would a breakfast post of mine even be without (multiple) mention(s) of oats? Here’s one of my favourite porridge combos made with jumbo oats, oat milk, cinnamon, milled flax seeds and banana topped with PB, hemp hearts and cacao nibs.

This was one of the best smoothies I’ve had, while festivalling over the summer. I believe it was made from broccoli, spinach, mango, celery, pineapple and banana. They called it ‘The Hulk’!

Another thing I like to do is swap my regular PB and banana toast for toasted rye bread for slow releasing energy throughout the morning.

If I don’t have time to make oats from scratch, I will usually mix muesli with granola and have it with soy milk and white tea.


…and here’s what I had this morning. Flaxseed cinnamon oats with PB and banana – a repeat offender for anyone who’s been following my blog for a while!

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Raw Beetroot Carpaccio With A Tahini Dressing

My life has improved immeasurably since being gifted a mandolin slicer by my Grandma. Most of you guys probably already have one of these, but I’ve been embarrassingly slow on the kitchen gadget bandwagon (I’ll probably get round to buying a spiralizer some time next decade).

I’d been making courgette ribbons like there was no tomorrow and attempting every possible salad combination under the sun, then I thought I’d try my hand at slicing something a little more off the beaten track: beets!

Let’s ignore the fact that my chopping board looks like a murder scene and admire how gorgeous the faint rings on the slices are! I appreciate that raw beetroot isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I do enjoy it on occasion, and it’s certainly a lot more palatable when sliced very thinly. It’s kind of like munching on very earthy slices of raw carrot. If that sounds like your worst nightmare, try swapping beetroot with cucumber for something more mild and refreshing.

The tahini dressing is so simple. I mixed one tablespoon of tahini with roughly double that amount of water, a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt. If you stir well, the dressing aerates a little and becomes lovely and smooth.

I then cracked on some coarse black pepper to serve. This kind of thing makes for a nice side plate to accompany a summery barbecue (consisting of veggie burgers and grilled aubergine, obv). Here’s to hoping for sunnier days ahead!

Polenta Stuffed Peppers & Veggie Sausages

I think I might have found a way to make polenta look somewhat presentable. With a little bit of tweaking, I can see this being a regular dinner time thing! It does require a teeny bit more effort compared to boiling up some pasta, but it’s still pretty simple to do (trust me, if I can do it  anyone can).

Like making a cup of tea, everyone seems to have their own special way of making polenta. I’m pretty sure I do it differently every time, but as a rule of thumb, the best measurements for making it are 1.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of polenta. Of course, constant stirring is crucial, unless you’re happy to settle for lumps. I tend to season with salt and pepper and finish with a swig or two of good olive oil for creaminess and a nice sheen.

For this particular dish, I spooned in the polenta mixture to halved peppers that had already been roasting for 20 minutes, then put them back in for another 20 (at gas mark 6). The next time I do this I think I’ll add crispy onions either into the polenta or on top, just to break up the texture a bit.

The peppers were paired with Linda Mac vegan sausages and some greens (more unpictured) for a good hearty meal. It’s not particularly summer on a plate, but the weather in London is so confusing right now I don’t know what’s what.

If I think of any other ways to prepare polenta, you’ll be the first to know!

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Vegan Nutty Banana Loaf

I got really experimental in the kitchen today and came up with this healthy-ish recipe which definitely doesn’t compromise on taste. It’s filled to the brim with omega-rich ingredients, contains no refined sugar and no eggs or dairy, which adds to a grand total of zero cholesterol. Let’s get into the recipe!
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I’m so sorry if you abide by scales. You’ve come to the wrong blog post. Below is what I added to my mixing bowl (roughly measured) and in the order I added them:

2/3 cup wholewheat self-raising flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour (oat flour works too)
1/2 tsp baking powder
a good sprinkling of cinnamon and ground ginger
a pinch of salt
2/3 cup date syrup
2 tbsps milled flax/chia/hemp seeds soaked in warm water
1/2 cup hazelnut oil (coconut oil works too)
4 or 5 small ripe bananas mashed with warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
80-100g crushed walnuts
a glug of almond milk


I preheated my oven at gas mark 4, poured the mixture into a tin greased with hazelnut oil and sprinkled with hemp hearts before putting it in for around 45 minutes.
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I hate to use the word ‘moist’, but it’s really warranted here!

I think the mix of wheat flour and buckwheat flour in this loaf really works in its favour, as well as the richness of the hazelnut oil. I know coconut oil gets all the praise these days but I think hazelnut oil is just as good, if not better for baking.

And so the baking chronicles continue…

 

 

 

Amanzi Tea

img_0207Soho is one of my favourite parts of London. It’s not overly posh like Chelsea or Notting Hill and it’s not intimidatingly ice cool like Shoreditch. It’s a maze full of great little haunts, bars and jazz clubs and there’s even a pretty green square to sunbathe on when the sun decides to show its face basically one day a year. Soho has all the good parts of London compressed into… one square mile (yes, I googled that).

No matter how many times you navigate Soho’s meandering lanes, you’re always sure to spot something you haven’t seen before. This is precisely what happened to me when I was walking down Brewer Street (probably the best street name ever) and noticed what I thought was a really cool coffee shop. To my surprise, it was actually a tea shop called Amanzi Tea. It wasn’t particularly busy and I saw a magnificent collection of greens, reds, tisanes and infusions displayed on the wall, so I had to go in.

I wanted something caffeine free and the girl behind the counter suggested the pink roasted almond tea (I didn’t edit that photo at all, it really is that pink). I believe it’s beetroot which gives it the wonderful colour. It’s also got apple and cinnamon in it, and probably some other stuff too but my memory fails me. It’s soooo delicious and wonderfully sweet, but not at all sickly. If you like desserts containing apple and marzipan, and you happen to be in London, definitely try this out.

I also noticed on the menu that they do all kinds of coffees, matcha lattes and frappuccino type things, as well as baked treats and healthy snacks. So that’s basically another five reasons for me to go back.

EDIT: Amanzi Tea is currently closed (I’m not sure how long for), but there is another branch in Marylebone for all you tea-swigging Londoners!