Banana Bread Energy Balls

Thursday, 29 September 2016

These energy balls are inspired by my absolute love for banana bread. I love anything banana flavoured, they are such a staple in my diet, so I'm always trying out new recipes using them. These energy balls are so easy to make and taste just like banana bread, just in a slightly different texture and form. My fridge has been stocked with a tub of these for the last few weeks, I just can't get enough.

You will need (makes 10 balls):  
1 small/medium ripe banana
5 Medjool dates
1 cup oats
3/4 cup cashews
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

- Start by pitting the dates and then add these along with all the other ingredients to a food processor.
- Blend everything together until the mixture combines and starts to stick together.
- Roll the mixture into 10 snack sized balls and pop in the fridge for a few hours to set. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

New Alpro Vegan Ice Cream: First Impressions

Monday, 26 September 2016

Something really exciting happened in the vegan world last week: Alpro brought out their new range of vegan ice creams! Alpro is one of my favourite brands and since going vegan has been a total life saver. Their huge range of insanely delicious yogurts, desserts and milks have become a staple in my life so when I spotted on Instagram that they were bringing out ice cream I was beyond excited. 

There was that background thought, though, that maybe this would be like when Ben and Jerry's announced their new dairy free range and it's still nowhere to be seen on the supermarket shelves (cry). I went down the freezer isle while doing my weekly shop, praying that I would find it. It was nowhere to be seen in the usual vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free section and just as I thought I wasn't going to find it, there it was in among all the regular ice creams! 

There are three flavours: vanilla, hazelnut chocolate and coconut and in my local Tesco they were only £3.50 each, which is a total bargain compared to some other ice creams. I did want to try them all but I managed to control myself and just bought one - the hazelnut chocolate, of course. 

Guys, it is SO good. I haven't actually had ice cream since going vegan, like proper creamy ice cream. I love banana nice cream and have had sorbet but not real ice cream. The shops near me don't have much to offer in the way of vegan ice cream and I just could never bear to shell out £6/7 odds for Booja Booja (despite how utterly incredible it looks).

It's so creamy and tastes so indulgent, and also a little like Nutella. If you gave this to a non-vegan in a bowl they genuinely would not know the difference. The flavour is delicious, so chocolatey with a hint of nuttiness. It's totally smooth too - I'm not sure why but I expected it to have some chunks through it. Some chocolate and hazelnut chunks in the ice cream is the only way it could have been better. You can just add some toppings on yourself though and it's totally like you're having Ben and Jerry's.

Alpro, you are amazing. It's so wonderful to have an affordable and delicious vegan ice cream on the shelves. This just proves that as a vegan you really don't miss out on anything. I can't wait to try the other flavours too - I think I'll go for vanilla next because if their vanilla soya yoghurt is anything to go by then it is going to be incredible. 

Have you tried the Alpro vegan ice cream yet? What did you think?

Is veganism a trend?

Monday, 12 September 2016

[Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.]
The Vegan Society.

Do you think veganism is just a trend? 

This was a question I got asked by a friend not long after going vegan. I was going to include it in my 'things people ask when you go vegan' post but I thought it would make a good post in itself, so here we are. 

According to The Vegan Society, today over 500,000 people in the UK follow a vegan diet, which is a 350% increase over the last decade. So, why the rise? 

People go vegan for so many reasons. It could be for the animals or the planet, for health reasons, for an experiment, even for a 'cleanse'. What tends to keep people vegan though is that underlying ethical connection, the realisation that this diet is the only one that makes sense. Having spoken to so many vegans, the main thing that always comes up is that once you make that connection between the meat and dairy you are consuming and the pain, cruelty and damage it causes, you simply can't go back.

If people just give veganism a try then they may never make that ethical connection and may revert back to eating meat and dairy. Of course, any passionate vegan would be disappointed at that but is it as awful as it seems?

I would love it if every person who tried being vegan stayed vegan but sadly that isn't always the case. To be vegan you need to really know your stuff. You need to know how to get enough nutrients and to always make sure you are eating enough. You need to be able to stand up for what you believe in and be able to explain that to others who might not understand. 

I think social media has played a huge role in the rise of veganism. I know myself if it wasn't for social media I may not have become vegan. It is so powerful, allowing you to connect with likeminded people so easily. It's a place where you can share your passions with people who understand and who respect you. I don't know anyone in my life outside of social media who is vegan but online I feel like I am part of a huge movement where vegan is the norm, and that is just incredible. Instagram can make veganism look glamorous and desirable, Twitter can provide you with facts, YouTube can give you inspiration, and across all platforms you are given the opportunity to connect with new people and share your stories. 

However, social media can also make veganism look like a trend as more and more people start to adopt this lifestyle. Some of the 'big' Instagramers and YouTubers have such a huge influence over people and can play a massive role in bringing people to this lifestyle. Social media can make veganism look cool but what happens when people start to lose interest? 

Let's say someone tries out veganism for a few months and then decides it's not for them and goes back to how they lived before. During the time they were vegan they created demand for vegan products and they would have talked about the lifestyle with their friends and family. Although they didn't stay vegan, they helped the lifestyle gain attention and showed that there is a growing demand for vegan products. 

Even if, for some, veganism is just a trend, they helped us for a little while to raise awareness and create demand and I really don't know how that can be a bad thing. I know there is a concern that when people go vegan and then go back it can make it look like it was too hard, not sustainable and not healthy, but being vegan for a little while is still better than having never being vegan at all. And even if people do stop being vegan, they might come back again.

Being vegan is all about creating the least harm possible. It's about compassion and about love. Once you make that connection, it's almost impossible to go back. Even if veganism is a trend, people trying this lifestyle is raising awareness of it, creating more demand for vegan products and sending a message that being vegan can be pretty great. 

For most, being vegan is a lifestyle, not a fad diet. It's for the animals, the planet and ourselves. It's also the best decision I ever made.

What do you think about veganism being a trend?

Ps. How cute is this t-shirt? I got it from The Vegan Society for only £3.99 if anyone is interested :) 

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Monday, 5 September 2016

Who else used to adore Nutella before going vegan? Nutella used to be what peanut butter is to me now - the kind of food you ate on everything and could easily sit with a jar and a spoon and be blissfully happy. So, this is my attempt at a vegan Nutella of sorts. I haven't titled the post Nutella because it's not exactly like Nutella in that the texture is not quite as smooth and it's a bit thicker, but it tastes pretty similar and you still get that feeling of wanting to sit and eat the whole lot out the jar with a spoon, so I'd call that a success. It's so yummy spread on strawberries or banana slices, on toast or swirled into porridge. This recipe makes a jar worth, but if you are anything like me then half the mixture won't even make it into the jar...

You will need:
1 cup hazelnuts* 
8 Medjool dates 
2 tablespoons cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla paste 
3/4 cup water 

- Roast the hazelnuts at 180 degrees celsius for 10 minutes. 
- Remove the skins from the nuts if required and then pop them into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients. 
- Blend until smooth - this takes around 10 minutes to get the right consistency.

*I use hazelnuts with the skins still on to make this recipe because they are cheaper to buy and the skins come off so easily once the nuts have been roasted (just rub the nuts and the skins flake off - the skins don't need to be completely off as long as most of them are) but you can also use blanched hazelnuts if you prefer.