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I'm really into smoothies at the moment, oh and smoothie bowls too - they are so good, but let's save them for another post. This smoothie is my latest obsession. It's strange because I never used to really like chocolate milk but over the past year or so I've found myself really enjoying chocolate smoothies and milkshakes. I think it was the Rebel Kitchen chocolate mylk that started this (if you haven't tried it, you need to because it is so, so delicious!) but those little cartons can be so expensive so I started making my own at home (and stocking up on the Rebel Kitchen ones when they are on offer, because  I couldn't give them up completely, of course!).

I love this smoothie because it's so chocolatey but also contains lots of fruit goodness and a nutty twist. The almond butter and milk make it so creamy while the bananas and dates add sweetness and the oats make it more filling than a purely fruit based smoothie. Making this was actually one of those times when I really surprised myself with how good the recipe actually was, anyone else get this? I really hope you will enjoy it as much as I do! I'd say the recipe would serve one if you were having it for breakfast or lunch, or two for more of a snack. 


You will need (serves 2): 
2 very ripe bananas
2 teaspoons cacao powder
1 tablespoon almond butter
2 tablespoons oats
3 Medjool dates 
1 cup almond milk
3-4 ice cubes (optional)

Method: 
- Put all the ingredients together in a blender and blend for 1-2 minutes until smooth.

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This is a post I've wanted to write for a while now. Since deciding I'd like to try veganism a few months ago, I've been so eager to learn more about the lifestyle, to educate myself and to really understand the benefits of being vegan and why it is so important. I've watched so many documentaries and videos (I will list these at the bottom), read lots of articles and spoken to others. I feel like I've opened a door to a whole new world, one I'd only heard about before but never given a second thought, one I used to think was strange and one I used to never think I would be a part of. All of a sudden something clicked, though.

It was the documentary 'Forks Over Knives' that was the turning point for me. For the few months prior to watching it, I had been paying a little more attention to veganism, slowing becoming a bit more interested, so when Forks Over Knives caught my eye on Netflix I thought I'd give it a go. From then on I became hooked, I wanted to learn more and more about the vegan lifestyle. I watched Cowspiracy, Vegucated, Food Inc., and countless other documentaries and videos. I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and anger towards the industry I had accepted as normal for my whole life. I couldn't believe I had supported the production of meat and animal products for so long. After watching and learning all I could, suddenly everything made sense, I had made the connection and there was no going back.

Vegan. It's who I am now. A lifestyle I have fallen in love with and feel so passionate about. I can't imagine ever going back to eating animal products, I will never buy leather again and I am trying my best to buy only vegan beauty products. Being vegan is about creating the least harm possible, it's about compassion and about love.

It wasn't too long ago that I used to wonder why on earth people went vegan, why would they give up so much? I'm sure the words 'I could never be vegan' came out of my mouth on more than one occasion, but I just wasn't interested before. I, like most of the population, was unaware and willing to turn a blind eye.


I think that everyone comes to this lifestyle for different reasons. My initial motivation was to see how it made me feel. I was curious to try a new way of eating and wondered if a vegan diet might help a skin condition that I suffer with (so far, so good). That was just what sparked my interest though because after becoming more immersed in the community and the lifestyle I realised there were so many other wonderful reasons to go vegan. From what I've seen, most vegans are vegan because of three main reasons: for the animals, for the planet, and for their health. These are the main three reasons why I am vegan and why I don't think I could go back to not being vegan. 

I had planned to write a lot more in this post on the things that encouraged me to change my lifestyle but it just wasn't sitting right with me. I believe that everyone has the right to make up their own minds about how they eat and so I didn't want to write something that came across as trying to convert people to what I believe. I think that if you are interested then you should go and do your own research and take some time to really decide if being vegan is for you. Watch the documentaries, read the articles, take some time to learn and discover what this lifestyle means and why people really believe in it. 

Personally, I've never felt better since becoming vegan. I feel so energised, happy and content. I feel like being vegan is the right thing for me and I feel wonderful living this lifestyle. Being a vegan is a part of me now, I only wish I had made the change sooner.

Going vegan is about going back to basics. It isn't difficult or scary or tasteless. Veganism is just so unfamiliar to people, which I think is why so many don't consider it until something suddenly clicks in their mind and they see meat industry for what it really is and how unnecessary it is. 

I've never felt more healthy, more alive than I do now. 

Veganism. It's just about changing how you think. 


If you are interested the learn more, these are a few of the documentaries and videos I found useful when learning about the vegan lifestyle:

Cowspiracy
Forks Over Knives
Vegucated
Food Inc.
Food Matters 


The other day, I got a super exciting email from the lovely people at the Health Blog Awards to say that Ginger Kitchen has been shortlisted in the 'Best Vegan Blog' category! It was one of those moments where I couldn't really believe what I was reading, an email that I never thought I would receive which put the biggest of smiles on my face. It's only been a few months since I started this blog as a way of sharing my passion for healthy food and I have loved every single minute of it. Creating recipes, trying out new ways of using food and surprising myself with how delicious plant foods can be is what I love most. I used to read other food blogs in awe thinking, I wish I could do that. Then one day I stopped wishing. 

I feel like through this blog I have started on such an exciting journey and every day I am learning more and more about food, health, and veganism. I realise that I haven't spoken too much about being vegan on this blog yet, but I'm still quite new to it all and learning as I go (but I am planning a post about why I went vegan so look out for that very soon!) and I hope that in future I can share much more about this lifestyle that I have grown to love and feel so passionate about. 

I still can't believe that my little space made the shortlist. Although I have been lifestyle blogging for years now, I still feel so new to the food and health community so to be shortlisted is like a reassurance that I must be doing okay. 

I am so thankful to each and every one of you who reads my blog, tries my recipes and follows along with my journey. I started this blog to show that healthy eating can be simple and easy and that things can still taste super yummy while being so good for you. Now, having gone fully vegan I am so excited to create recipes that don't harm any animals and still taste really delicious. 

I can't quite say how much every one of your views on this blog means to me. I would really appreciate your vote in the awards if you read my blog, it would mean the world! Thank you again, you are all wonderful. 


x


I'm really into raw veggies at the moment. Raw veggies and lentils. Sometimes I really crave simple foods, ones that taste so good just by themselves without much seasoning or other flavours added. I admit, this isn't really a recipe, it's more a combination of foods that just taste amazing together but I hope you will love it as much as I do. I just love how summery and bright the bowl looks, and how full of goodness it is. I've been having this for lunch a lot recently because it always keeps me full up until dinner while also making me feel amazing. I mean there are five different veggies in there as well as lots of protein from the quinoa, lentils and pumpkin seeds (who said vegans were protein deficient?!). I'm sure I'll be making a lot of these rainbow bowls over the summer, and although I made it look all pretty for the photograph, it's so much better when you mix all the parts together and get a big forkful of everything. This is also perfect for taking for lunch on the go as you can prepare it the night before and have it ready to go in the morning. 


You will need: 
1/4 cup quinoa 
1/4 cup green or puy lentils 
1 teaspoon dried coriander leaf 
1 red pepper, chopped into small chunks 
1 carrot, grated
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup sweetcorn 
2 large handfuls spinach 
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds 
hummus to serve

Method: 
- Rinse the quinoa and lentils and then place in a pot with 2 1/2 cups of water. Simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes. 
- Season the quinoa and lentils with coriander and some ground pepper and then leave aside to cool. 
- Once cool, make up your salad bowls. Split all the veggies between two bowls and serve with a big spoonful of hummus.

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It was really only a matter of time before another porridge recipe popped up on here. In fact, I'm surprised it's taken me this long. I eat porridge for breakfast almost every single morning so I'm always coming up with new flavour combinations to stop myself becoming bored because, let's face it, eating the same bowl of oats every single morning would probably drive you mad. This mango, banana and coconut combo is one of my absolute favourites at the moment because it feels so summery. I live in Scotland where it's still freezing cold outside so I love having a big warming bowl of oats in the morning, but the tropical flavours in this one make it feel like summer, even though it definitely still feels like winter. 

I've also started soaking my oats overnight before I make my porridge. The main reason for this is because I've started buying jumbo oats, which just make the porridge so much yummier, but I found that without being soaked overnight they took much longer to cook and didn't become quite as soft. Soaking them overnight makes your porridge easier to digest and cook, so it's worth giving it a try. I always leave a mug sitting out on my worktop so I remember to pop the oats into it with some water before going to bed. 


You will need (serves 1): 
1/2 cup oats  
1/2 cup water 
1/2 cup coconut milk/drink* 
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut 
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds 
1 banana, chopped into slices
a handful mango chunks

*When I say coconut milk here I mean the kind you get in a carton that you'd use for cereal or drinking, not the type that comes in a can and is usually used for curries and cooking. 

Method: 
- Soak your oats overnight in the 1/2 cup of water (this part is optional - if you don't soak your oats simply add the water with the rest of the ingredients using the method below). 
- Add all the ingredients, leaving aside half of the banana slices and some mango, to a pot and mix well.
- Cook over a low heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring regularly, until thickened. If the porridge starts to become too thick then just add a little more water until it's the perfect consistency for you. I find that if I soak my oats overnight I always need to add extra water while it's cooking. 
- Serve with the remaining banana slices, some coconut and a sprinkle of desiccated coconut.

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Banana bread is something I have been working on perfecting for a long time and I think I might have cracked it with this recipe. It's definitely the best one I've baked so far so I'm really excited to share it with you. It's got the perfect amount of banana, it's not too stodgy (a problem I often encounter with banana bread) and has just the right amount of cinnamon and spices, or in other words: delicious. I really am proud of this one.

I wanted to use dates as a sweetener as when I've baked loaves in the past and relied just on the sweetness from the bananas I've found they just haven't been quite sweet enough. I created this recipe before I bought my food processor so I had to find a different way to break down the dates. Turns out that soaking them in boiling water for 10 minutes and then mashing them with a fork works perfectly.  So, this recipe is even better because not only is it incredibly yummy but you don't need any fancy equipment at all to make it - just a few bowls and a good old fork. And, it's not got any flour in it at all, just lots of almond and oat goodness!


You will need (makes one loaf): 
4 over-ripe bananas 
1 cup ground almonds 
1 cup finely ground oats
1/2 cup oats  
2 tablespoons coconut oil 
5 Medjool dates 
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 teaspoon mixed spice 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder 

Method: 
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper and grease with a small amount of coconut oil.
- Pit the dates and pop them in a small bowl of boiling water. Leave them aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Mash the bananas using a fork and add to a bowl.
- Melt the coconut oil over a low heat on the hob and add this to the mashed bananas along with the vanilla extract and give everything a good stir.
- In a separate bowl combine together all the dry ingredients - ground almonds, ground oats, oats, cinnamon, spice and baking powder.
- Now, go back to the dates and remove them from the water. They should be nice and soft so you can mash them easily using a fork, if not you can give them a little longer in the water. Mash them all up into a paste and add to the banana mixture and mix well.
- Finally, pour the wet banana mixture into the dry mixture and fold together. Once combined add the mixture into the loaf tin. At this stage you can add a topping to your bread, I went for flaked almonds this time but pumpkin seeds or pecans also work really well.
- Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on the loaf while it's baking and use a knife to check it's cooked through, mine took 50 minutes but this will differ depending on your oven. If the top starts to get too brown but the inside still needs a little longer you can cover the loaf with tin foil for the last little while to stop it from burning.

I really hope you enjoy this recipe because it is one of my favourites. Let me know if you give it a go!

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