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Smoothie bowls are fast becoming my favourite breakfast. I mean, of course, I still love porridge a lot, nothing can break that bond, but sometimes I like to have something different and smoothie bowls have become my go-to. Smoothies are wonderful but I find that having that alone for breakfast doesn't completely satisfy me, so smoothie bowls are the perfect alternative, filled with lots of fruit goodness but with plenty of toppings too to make it a bit more substantial. Plus, my banana granola makes the yummiest smoothie bowl topping (or at least I think so).

The flavour combination in this recipe was inspired by a really delicious smoothie bowl I had at Hula Juice Bar in Edinburgh a few months ago - the maca nana bowl, which is a banana, vanilla and maca smoothie topped with raspberry granola, peanut butter, and berries. It was incredible, and while I wish I could eat there every single morning because damn it is so good, it's not the most practical so I came up with my own recipe to recreate it at home and I'm so happy with how it turned out. I mean nothing beats the original but this is a really good runner up, and it means if you don't live near Edinburgh you can still enjoy the yumminess (but seriously, if you do live near you need to get to Hula and try it too)!

You will need (serves 1): 
for the smoothie
2 very ripe bananas
1 tablespoon maca powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons oats
1/2 cup almond milk

for the toppings
smooth peanut butter
a handful of blueberries
banana granola (recipe)

- Put all the ingredients together into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour the smoothie into a bowl and top with banana granola, blueberries and a drizzle of peanut butter.

This is a bit of a strange recipe for me because I don't exactly like mushrooms. It's a bit odd, I do like the taste but I cannot stand the texture of them so they aren't something I ever buy or eat, I don't know what it is about them but they are the one veggie I really don't enjoy. However, a little while ago I had a chickpea and mushroom burger while eating out and it was so delicious that I was determined to try recreating it at home. I've tried making veggie burgers a few times before but they never seem to turn out just how I want them to, that was until I tried these ones - maybe mushrooms were the missing ingredient all this time?

While I was in the supermarket buying ingredients for this recipe, I think I stood at the mushroom section for a good 10 minutes trying to figure out which ones I needed to buy, who knew there were so many different types?! I settled on baby mushrooms (mainly because it was the smallest packet and I didn't want to have any leftover as I knew I wouldn't eat them) and they turned out really well, but you prefer other mushroom types then these will be easily substituted in (and please let me know which mushrooms are the best to buy, I am honestly so clueless!). So, with the mushrooms all blended up into the mixture so I can only taste them, not feel their texture, these have become my best attempt at veggie burgers yet! I hope you will love them too. They are really yummy served in a roll or just by themselves with lots of salad. 

You will need (makes 6 burgers): 
1 tin chickpeas (400g)
2 cups baby mushrooms (200g)
1/3 cup sweetcorn
1 cup oats
1 tablespoon tomato puree
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules (or two minced cloves)
1/2 teaspoon dried chillies
a sprinkle of salt and pepper

- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Add the oats to a food processor and pulse into a flour.
- Add all the other ingredients into the food processor and pulse until broken down and combined, but not completely smooth - the burgers work best when the mixture still has some texture to it. You can add extra oat flour if you find the mixture is too wet. 
- Shape the mixture into six burgers and place onto a lined baking tray.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning half way.

Fruit crumble, in a bar - the dream! I love fruit crumble a lot but it's pretty impractical for when you want to take it on the go, which is where these bars come in. I've wanted to try creating something like this for ages and had the idea written down for a long time before actually giving them a go a few weeks ago. They did not disappoint. I feel like fruit crumble is quite an autumnal thing, something comforting and homely to put a smile on your face during the dark and cold nights. These bars feel much more summery though and I can definitely see them being served at summer gatherings in the garden or as a snack with a cold drink on a hot day. The raspberry and coconut flavour combination feels summery too, maybe because berries always taste better in the summer or because coconuts make me think of exotic and sunny places, either way, I love it and I hope you will too. The recipe is really easy and you don't need that many ingredients, in fact the bulk of these bars is simply made up from oats (because oats are life) and raspberries.

You will need (makes 10): 
for the crumble
3 1/2 cups oats 
1/2 cup desiccated coconut 
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil (hard)
3 tablespoons soya milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

for the jam filling 
2 cups frozen (or fresh) raspberries 
2 tablespoons maple syrup 
3 tablespoons water 
1 tablespoon chia seeds 

for the crumble
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.  
- Put 2 1/2 cups of the oats into a food processor and pulse into a flour. 
- Add the coconut oil, sugar, desiccated coconut and vanilla into the processor and pulse until the mixture starts to clump and stick together.
- Stir in the remaining cup of oats and ensure they are well distributed in the mix. 
- Line and grease with a little coconut oil a baking dish (the one I used was 22cm x 14cm) and add about two-thirds of the crumble mixture to this. Press down on the mixture to create a firm and even base layer for the crumble bars. 
- Place the base in the oven to bake for 20 minutes, leaving the rest of the crumble mixture to the side. 

for the jam 
- While the base crumble layer is baking you can make the jam for the middle. Put the raspberries, maple syrup and water together in a pot. Place this over a medium heat until it begins to boil and then reduce to a low heat. 
- Allow the jam to simmer for 6-8 minutes and while it is cooking, press the raspberries against the side of the pot using a wooden spoon to break them down a little. 
- Add the chia seeds and stir through. Leave the jam to simmer for a further 10 minutes until it has thickened. 

to make the crumble bars
- Once the base has been in the over for around 20 minutes it should be starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven and then add the raspberry jam on top, spreading evenly across the whole base. 
- Add the rest of the crumble mixture on top of the jam layer and gently press down on it with a spoon so the crumble sticks into the jam - this makes the bars a little less crumbly and more solid. 
- Pop the bars back into the oven for 20-25 minutes until the crumble topping is golden brown.

Download recipe

I first curried sweet potato soup a few months ago when I was on a little overnight stay with a friend. We came across a lovely cafe in a tiny village, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It was the cutest place, filled with vintage decor, bright colours, and a really homely atmosphere so, of course, we decided to stop for lunch. The soup of the day was curried sweet potato and it was the most delicious soup I'd tasted in a long time, the contrast between the sweetness of the potato and the spicy Indian flavours from the curry was just wonderful and I knew I had to try recreating it at home, which is where today's recipe comes from.

I love this soup and probably make it every few weeks. I sometimes eat it by itself with some bread or crackers as a lunch, but more often I eat it as a dinner, adding rice, broccoli, sweetcorn and spinach to it. That maybe sounds a little odd but trust me, it is so good! It also works out to be a really cheap meal as the ingredients are so basic, and you probably have all the spices and herbs in your house already so you just need to pick up the veggies. It makes a huge pot too so it will last you for the whole week, or you can freeze it and use it at a later date. 

You will need (serves 6):
2 large sweet potatoes
3 carrots
1 onion
1/2 cup red lentils
7-8 cups vegetable stock made with 1 1/2 stock cubes (add more water if you prefer a thinner consistency of soup)
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
ground pepper to taste

- Cut the sweet potatoes and carrots into largish chunks and finely chop the onion.
- In a large pot, fry the onion in a little water for 2-3 minutes to soften it.
- Add the stock, sweet potatoes, carrots, lentils and herbs and spices to the pot and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 40-45 minutes.
- Using a hand blender, blend until smooth. If you find the soup is too thick for you then add some extra water.

Optional: serve with added rice and veggies for a yummy dinner!

Hello, and welcome to my first vegan favourites post! I love watching vegan favourites videos on YouTube but as I am no video maker I thought it would be a nice idea to start making regular little posts on here about the vegan products I have been loving recently. Since becoming vegan, I feel like I am discovering so many wonderful products and also being pleasantly surprised that some of the products I already loved are actually vegan too. Finding all these new brands and products to fall in love with is making me so happy so I really want to share a little of the love on here and hopefully give you all some ideas for some great vegan products you can buy, use and also fall in love with. 

Original Source 

I've always loved Original Source products, mainly because they smell so incredible, but until going vegan I had never actually clocked the little vegan symbol displayed proudly on the front of their packaging. All of their products are vegan, not tested on animals, contain only natural ingredients and smell like heaven. Finding out these products are vegan was definitely a highlight and I know I will be using a lot more of their range now that I know. Their new shower milk range looks so wonderful too so I can't wait to try that!

Lush Herbalism 

I've tried quite a few of the Lush face and body scrubs now but I think Herbalism is my favourite so far. It's not too rough in texture so is more of a gentle scrub, which makes it perfect for using on your face. I love using this every night, it makes me feel so clean and fresh. This one contains rice bran and ground almonds to act as the exfoliator along with nettle and rosemary extracts. The ground almonds create a smooth milky feel when mixed with water so it feels wonderful on your skin. I was using the Let The Good Times Roll scrub before I got this one, which although smelled incredible, I found it to be a little too rough for using on my face so Herbalism is a much gentler alternative.

Salt of the Earth Deodorant 

I swapped to using a natural deodorant a few months ago now and I can hand on heart say that I have never looked back. I wrote a full post about this over on my lifestyle blog which you can read so I won't go into too much detail here but it's just wonderful. I use the Salt of the Earth one which is totally vegan-friendly and I love it. I've struggled with a skin condition that affects my underarms for years, which was part of the reason I wanted to try a natural deodorant, but I'd also been reading a lot about all the harmful chemicals that are in deodorants and how they can affect your skin. Since using this I've had no problems at all. I was a little sceptical at first as it is completely unscented so I wasn't convinced I actually had any on, and how can a natural crystal act as a deodorant anyway? But it does actually work, even for going to the gym and working out. I'll never go back after using this, it's become a firm vegan favourite.

Missy's Vegan Cupcakes 

Okay, this one is probably only going to be of interest to people who live in Scotland, sorry! These cakes were just too good not to include in this post though. This month I went to the Flying Duck Fete in Glasgow for the first time, which is held once a month and involves a lot of seriously yummy vegan cakes. Missy's Vegan Cupcakes was one of the stalls and all the cakes looked incredible. It took me a long time to choose but I eventually decided on the peanut butter cupcake (no surprises there) and oh-my-god, it was the best cake I have ever eaten ever. I was so upset I only bought one because I could easily have eaten 10. I'm definitely going to become a Missy's stalker, following them around everywhere they go to buy all the vegan cakes. If you live near to Glasgow or Edinburgh you need to check them out! They go to the Flying Duck Fete every month in Glasgow and also the Leith Market Vegan Quarter every month in Edinburgh, plus a few others listed on their Facebook page. SO GOOD.

T Plus Teas

I've loved these guys for a while now so they absolutely had to feature in my first vegan favourites post. T Plus make green teas which are filled with vitamins and different fruity flavours. I never used to be a fan of green tea but after discovering this brand through Twitter I have become a total convert, swayed by all their fruity flavours. My favourite one is the orange and blueberry but they are all so yummy. And, they contain 50% of your RDA of essential vitamins, including B12, so they are extra vegan-friendly - yay! I also guest blog over on the T Plus website once a month so be sure to pop over to read my posts (and buy lots of tea) - this month I'm sharing my tips on how to drink more water this summer.

Vegan Aminos 

Vegan Aminos is a vegan community-based app that I have recently fallen in love with. It's basically a whole lot of passionate vegan people coming together and sharing their food, recipes, stories, questions, suggestions, advice and love. You have your own profile and can post blogs to it, which can be whatever you fancy - photos, recipes or just text. You can also search for people posting near you which is great for finding other local vegans and you can get involved in discussions, chats and polls. This was one of the first apps I downloaded when I got my new phone having been eyeing it up for ages (my phone before was so old I couldn't download any new apps!). I've just loved speaking to other vegans and getting lots of new recipe ideas, food tips and advice. If you are vegan then this is the perfect app for you! 

What vegan products have you been loving recently?

I think bananas are possibly my most used ingredient. They are just perfect because you can do so much with them, plus they taste incredible and add so much delicious natural sweetness to things. I also love granola so it was really only a matter of time before banana granola became a thing. I wanted to create an oil-free granola recipe because although I do love coconut oil and do usually use this when making granola, I fancied trying an oil-free version and thought banana would make the perfect replacement. Now I think this may be my favourite granola ever, so much so that since creating this recipe a good few months ago I've constantly had a jar filled with it ever since, baking up big batches when it runs out to keep me going. It makes the perfect breakfast with milk and fruit, a really yummy smoothie bowl topping (which is possibly my favourite way to eat it) and also a nice dessert with some soya yoghurt. I really just can't get enough, sometimes I even eat it out of the jar with a spoon because it's that good (anyone else do this? Just me?...).

You will need (makes one large jar): 
2 1/2 cups jumbo oats 
1/2 cup almonds 
1/2 cup pecans 
1 very ripe banana 
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons maple syrup 
1 cup sultanas (optional) 

- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. 
- Roughly chop the almonds and pecans using a food processor. 
- Add the oats, chopped nuts and seeds to a large bowl and mix together. 
- Mash the banana using a fork and combine this with the maple syrup in a small bowl. Mix until a smooth liquid forms. 
- Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well, ensuring that everything is coated. 
- Split the mixture between two lined baking trays and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, stirring halfway, until the granola is golden brown and crunchy. 
- Leave to cool and then mix through the sultanas if you are adding these.

I only started taking exercise seriously around two years ago when I began working full-time. Before that, I rarely did any proper exercise, but I did have a job that involved being on my feet all day so I didn't really notice because I always felt like I had been pretty active. It was when I started working full-time in an office that I really noticed a difference. I felt so inactive, like I was just moving from one chair to the next all day and I really felt like I had to get my body moving again, so one evening after work I decided I was going to join the gym. I'd had a few gym memberships prior to this while at university but I never went because at that time exercise just wasn't really that important to me, I was more focused on getting good grades and having fun with my friends, and that was fine back then.

Since joining the gym and really making an effort to do regular workouts, I've fallen in love and I go at least three times a week, usually four, and I also run during the summer. I've realised the importance of exercise and of staying active because it makes me feel great. I love the feeling of pushing myself to go further, faster and to lift heavier. I love how a good workout can make me feel so wonderful even after a rubbish day. I love having time to just focus on myself and clear my head. They say that once you catch the exercise bug you just can't seem to stop and I used to think that was rubbish but now I get it and it is definitely a little addictive, you just need to get past the initial feelings of dread and find the happiness it can bring. 

I know exercise for some people can feel like a chore and I hear so many people complaining that they just don't have the time so today I wanted to share a few little tips for how you can find time to workout among your busy schedule. It's a little about changing your mindset but there are also some really easy things you can do to simply make more time to workout.

Make exercise a priority

When it comes to exercise, you need to make it something important to you because otherwise it can become so easy to push it to the side and prioritise other things. Exercise has become so important to me since I started making an effort to look after myself because I know how amazing it makes me feel. You need to remember that you will never regret going for a workout, but it's quite likely you will regret not going. Doing an hour workout is only 4% of your day, which really is nothing. Of course, there will be some days when you really just don't have the time, or you've had a really busy day and don't have the energy and that's okay too. Listening to your body is just as important as exercising. As long as you find time for exercise on at least three or four out of seven days you're doing great. 

Plan your workouts into your schedule

I know this one works really well for some people who love to plan their time down to the hour. If you write your workouts and exercise plans into your diary then you kind of set it in stone that it's going to happen. Seeing it written down makes it a solid plan and you're more likely to do it, and if you don't you'll probably feel bad for the rest of the week because it will be staring back at you every time you open your diary. There's no harm in swapping days, though, maybe you planned a workout for a Tuesday evening but ended up having to work late so couldn't do it - move it to the next day or the weekend so you're still getting in all your planned workouts for the week. 

Get up an hour earlier

This is one of my favourites. It really is amazing what you can fit in before work if you just get up a little earlier. In the summer, I love going for a run first thing in the morning and I only need to get up half an hour earlier than normal to fit this in. Sometimes if I know I won't have time for the gym after work then I'll get up an hour earlier and go in the morning when it opens at 6am. You could also do a workout video or even some yoga in the morning before work without even having to leave your house. It might be difficult to get yourself out of bed at that time but once you're up and doing your workout you will realise how worthwhile it was. I love sitting down at my desk at 9am knowing that I've already done my workout for the day, it really is the best feeling.  

Use your lunch break

I only get a half hour lunch break at work so I'm limited with what I can do in this time although sometimes my colleagues and I will go for a walk if it's a nice day. Although it's not an intense workout, going for a walk is still great exercise and it gives you an opportunity to clear your head and get away from the work environment for a little while, which is so important. If you get a bit longer for your lunch break then you could fit in a more intense workout. I know some places offer classes during lunch time which people can pop along to during their break, or you could go for a half hour power walk or run. It's just about using what time you have most effectively.

Do you have any other tips on finding time to workout?

This recipe has been one of my favourites for a long time now. I first made it shortly after becoming vegetarian last year and it's become a regular go-to meal, and luckily it was vegan too so I didn't need to change the recipe at all when I changed my diet. It's one of those ones that I just make time and time again because it's so easy and tastes so good, and it freezes really well so I always make it in big batches and freeze the leftovers in portions for another day. You can serve it with pasta, spaghetti, salad or rice and it makes a really good lunch for taking to work too. I always feel that you can never go wrong with a really hearty and satisfying meal like this one, and I'm sure you've realised by now if you are a regular reader of this blog that I have a soft spot for anything that can be cooked in one pot with minimal fuss, which luckily for me, so many vegan dishes can be.

You will need (serves 6): 
1 courgette 
2 carrots 
1 onion 
2 cloves garlic
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes 
5 tablespoons tomato puree
1 cup red lentils 
1 cup green lentils 
5 cups vegetable stock/water (made using one stock cube)
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes 
pepper to taste 

- Finely chop all the vegetables and mince the garlic. 
- Fry the onion in one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute. 
- Add all the rest of the ingredients to the pot and leave to simmer for 45-50 minutes, stirring regularly. 
- Serve with your choice of spaghetti, pasta and veggies. I love mixing a handful of spinach leaves through the sauce just before serving and serving it with lots of whole wheat spaghetti.

Download recipe

Vitamin B12. It's something we all need, although it is something that is talked about a lot more among the vegan community because it's the only vitamin that you cannot get naturally from a plant-based diet. Before I started to consider going vegan and began researching more into the vegan lifestyle, I really wasn't aware of vitamin B12, and I'm sure many others aren't too. If you eat meat, dairy and eggs then you will get your B12 from these sources without even realising it. Vegans, on the other hand, don't and so it's something that is a lot more important for us to think about and be conscious of.

I wanted to write this post to try and share a little of what I've learned about B12. There is so much information out there about this vitamin and, like most things, all the guidance tells you different things. I've read a lot about this topic and I've pulled this post together using the sources I consider to be the most reliable, plus a little of my own personal experience. I really hope it will be helpful, but I would encourage you to go and do your own research too if B12 is something you would like to learn more about. I will leave links to all the sources I have used at the bottom of this post so you can have a look at those too. 

Why is B12 important and where do you get it? 

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in our bodies, including making red blood cells, keeping the immune system healthy and helping to release energy from the food we eat. The NHS list good sources of B12 as being: meat, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, eggs and some fortified breakfast cereals, which of course, aside from the latter none of which us vegans eat. 

The reason for these products containing good amounts of B12 is because it is created by bacteria within the animals bodies. Many animals are also given B12 supplements. Both of these sources then make their way into the animal products that humans eat.

B12 Deficiency  

A deficiency in B12 can make you pretty unwell if your levels are dangerously low. Symptoms of B12 deficiency can include: tiredness, a feeling of not having enough energy, a sore tongue, irritability, personality changes and poor memory. Low levels of B12 can also cause anemia, nervous system damage and complications during pregnancy.

Your body can store vitamin B12 for between two and four years so it might take a while for you to show any symptoms of a deficiency after you have changed your diet. Because of this, you might not make the connection between your vegan diet and how you are feeling, so it's really important to start getting good vegan sources of B12 as soon as you change your diet to ensure that you maintain your body's supplies.

Vegan sources of B12

The two best ways to ensure you are getting enough B12 as a vegan is to either eat fortified foods throughout the day or to take a supplement of the vitamin. Vegan foods that are usually fortified include non-dairy milks and yoghurts, some breakfast cereals and some soy products. You can also buy nutritional yeast that is fortified with B12, which I absolutely love. You just need to check the ingredients list to know if a product contains added B12, which you should always do because not all non-dairy milk and cereals do contain it. I usually buy Rude Health milk and because this one only contains natural ingredients there is no added B12. If you are going to rely on fortified foods, though, you need to make sure you eat enough, so to be safe there is no harm at all in also taking a supplement. 

There are lots of different types of B12 supplements that you can take whether it be in tablet form, a spray or an injection. I choose to take a daily supplement pill because I know I don't eat enough fortified food products every day to get enough B12. You can almost always pick these up from your local health foods store, alternatively, there are lots of options available online. The ones I buy usually cost around £5 for 100 tablets so they aren't expensive at all, and it is always worth spending money for good health.

A little about my experience 

Before I became vegan (although I had been eating a mostly vegan diet for many months prior to finally cutting out dairy and eggs), I went through a period of feeling like I had no energy at all. I couldn't understand what was wrong because I was definitely eating enough and getting enough sleep. After a few visits to the doctor, I was put on iron supplements as my levels were very slightly lower than normal but this made no difference at all. It was only once I started learning more about the vegan diet that I stumbled across the importance of B12 and thought that it was quite likely I was running a little low on the vitamin as I was vegetarian, didn't drink milk or eat eggs and rarely ate cheese or yoghurts, and had eaten a diet like this for over a year. I started taking a supplement a few months ago and I actually do feel quite a bit better now. I wouldn't say I am 100% where I would like to be but I definitely feel a lot more energised than I did before. I can't say for sure that it was a lack of B12 that was causing my symptoms as I was never tested but it's really the only thing I've changed so it must have had a little something to do with it. 

So, B12 is pretty important and is definitely something that vegans need to be aware of. It's nothing to worry too much about though as it is easy to get enough and put your mind at ease. Although it may be annoying having to consciously think about your B12 consumption or to take a supplement every day, I'm sure all vegans will agree, it is worth it.

What are your thoughts on B12? 


The information contain within this post was gathered from the following sources as well as from my own personal experience: