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I used to be one of those people who thought that podcasts were for total losers. Like, no way would they ever catch on; who wants to listen to stuff when you can watch stuff? Turns out I couldn't have been more wrong because podcasts are totally my new thing. I am so sorry I ever doubted them because they really do make my life (and gym sessions) a hell of a lot more interesting. The wonderful thing is, when you get into a pod that's been going for a while you get binge listen back to all the past episodes and it's just the best thing ever. So, if you're a pod skeptic or are just looking for a new listen, here are five I'm totally hooked on at the moment.

This is the podcast that got me into podcasts. If you've had enough of all the nutrition BS around, and let's be honest there is a whole lot of that, and want someone who will tell it as it is then you need Laura in your life. Laura is a registered nutritionist and a kickass woman who takes a no nonsense approach to food and nutrition. It's not all about food though, there's also a really strong body positivity vibe and discussions around things like mindfulness, exercise, and the health industry. The pod is all about having conversations with game changers, so basically incredible people who are doing inspiring things, with a whole lot of ranting and humour. Don't Salt My Game is a good all rounder that covers lots of interesting topics and important issues with a good dose of inspiration, creativity, and fun. Would recommend 110%. 

Evan and Hannah are both vegans so obviously that is a huge part of why this podcast is a winner for me. Aside from that though, they speak to some super cool guests and discuss topical issues in a way that makes you feel like you're just sitting having a chat with some good friends. They talk about the things and ideas that have motivated them to lead more compassionate and meaningful lives, ranging from veganism and ethical shopping to parenting and traveling. I always feel really inspired after listening to an ep of this pod so I'd definitely recommend giving it a go. 

If you're a vegan or would like to learn more about veganism then this is a great pod to start with. Filled with info, facts and vegan food hacks (rhyme totally unintended), each episode of the podcast is only around 30 minutes long so perfect for when you want a little burst of decent chat. The VS pod always covers things that are happening in the here and now of the vegan world and will arm you with a hell a lot of good points for when people ask/question/debate you on veganism. I feel like it gives me the ammo I need to talk about why being vegan is so wonderful, plus you'll learn a lot. 

How to live a more meaningful life with less is the tagline of The Minimalists and after watching their documentary I pretty much became hooked on their pod. I find that a lot of my values align closely with minimalism and although I wouldn't label myself one, I am really enjoying learning more about how to declutter my life and mind and focus more on the things that really matter. I urge everyone to give this podcast a go, even if you think minimalism is a load of rubbish. Give it a chance, because these guys speak a whole lot of sense. 

Another vegan one, but it's another good one. Andy and Paul have some great chats, mostly about vegan issues, although that's kinda obvious given the name. I just love listening to people whose values align with mine and who are so passionate about the lifestyle I choose to lead. The Bearded Vegans pod isn't one I listen to that often but when I do it always makes me smile and teaches me something - whether it's 'segans', 'veggans', an argument about the moral case for eating meat (spoiler: there isn't one) or whether we should stop using the word vegan, the episodes are always interesting, topical and pretty damn funny. Definitely one to listen to if you're vegan.

What are your favourite pods to listen to? 

Before we get into this week's recipe, I really need to tell you guys about the most delicious vegan afternoon tea I had at the weekend. I went with two of my lovely blogger friends, Charlene and Mimmi, to the Hidden Lane Tearoom in Glasgow to try out their veganised afternoon tea and it was just wonderful. I could probably write a whole post about how good it was but let's just say when you get a stand filled with vegan sandwiches, scones, and cakes it's pretty heavenly. The cakes were perfect (banana, carrot and raspberry flavours) and I honestly think that if they'd given this afternoon tea out to everyone nobody would have known it was vegan, apart from maybe the lack of meat and cheese in the sandwiches. If you're ever in Glasgow the Hidden Lane is definitely worth a visit - you do need to book in advance for the vegan tea though so give them a call beforehand. Plus it was only £12 each which is pretty unheard of for afternoon tea. Yup, I'm going to be dreaming about it for weeks.

Enough talk about cake though, onto soup...

Whatever the weather, soup is always one of my favourite dishes to eat. Call me crazy but even on a really warm summers day I can still enjoy a big bowl of soup with crusty bread. It's just one of those meals that always makes me feel wonderful so I tend to always have some stored away in my freezer for when the soup cravings hit. This recipe is one I am really into at the moment and (as usual) I've made it a lot of times in the past few weeks. It's adapted and veganised from The Soup Book by Sophie Grigson, a book that I used to use a lot but which isn't very great when it comes to vegan recipes. The original recipe uses chicken stock and cheese, and no lentils so I've changed it up a bit but it's still pretty similar to the soup I used to make a few years ago. I love having this one for lunch because the beans and lentils keep me full up for ages, and it's full of veggies so packs in quite a few of your 5/7 a day. Serve with lots of warm crusty bread (optional but totally recommended!).

You will  need (serves 4): 
1 onion 
3 carrots 
1 leek 
2 cloves garlic
400g tin
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/3 cup red lentils 
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock (made with 2 stock cubes)
200g spinach 
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
ground pepper

- Chop up the onion,
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a low/medium heat and add the veggies. Fry for 10 minutes to soften. 
- Very finely chop up the garlic cloves, add these to the pot and fry for a minute. 
- Mash up half the beans with a fork and add these to the pot along with the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, vegetable stock, and lentils. Season with black pepper to your taste. Bring to the boil and then simmer over a low heat for 40 minutes. 
- Add the rest of the beans, spinach and nutritional yeast to the pot and simmer for a further 15 minutes. 

The memories I have of rice pudding as a child are not the best, probably because it involved the type that comes out of a tin, generally served with fruit (also from a tin) and it's juice which kind of created a weird separation situation between the warm rice pudding and cold fruit juice. I didn't like it. This rice pudding, however, is exactly what I deem to be a bowl of heaven.

Ever since I visited All Bar One back in January to try out their special Veganuary menu, I've been dreaming about their coconut and vanilla rice pudding. The obvious answer would be to go back and get more, and I wish I could, but the delicious dessert was only there for Veganuary and is now gone from the menu. With cravings that could only be solved by creamy rice pudding, I had a bash at creating my own and I am pretty damn proud of how it turned out. I love having this as a lazy Sunday super indulgent breakfast or as a dessert. The coconut and vanilla go so perfectly together and it's just so creamy I kinda can't believe that it is vegan. Topped with a sweet blueberry compote and some coconut and pumpkin seeds, it makes the perfect bowl of deliciousness. You guys are going to love it. 

You will need (serves 3-4):
for the rice pudding 
3/4 cup pudding rice
1 cup tinned coconut milk
2 1/2 cups soya milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons caster sugar

for the blueberry compote 
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 tablespoons water

- Add all the ingredients for the rice pudding into a pot and mix well. 
- Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat right down and simmer for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.
- 10 minutes before the rice pudding is ready, add the blueberries, sugar and two tablespoons of water to another pot and leave this to simmer over a low heat for 6-7 minutes to make a compote.
- Top the rice pudding with the blueberry compote and some pumpkin seeds and desiccated coconut.

I'm pretty happy this week because I have the week off work. Not that I'm unhappy otherwise, I'm just really excited about having a little break and getting away for a few days. It's going to be a bit of a digital break too because where we are going has no wifi so it's a good opportunity to just cut off and escape the internet and social media for a while. I'm looking forward to days filled with long walks in nature, evenings spent by the fire with good food and better company, and the absence of the pressures of everyday life and constantly feeling like you need to be doing something. The country is definitely where I feel most at home, walking through beautiful woodland, climbing to the top of hills and seeing the world from above, getting your shoes muddy and being able to find pure silence and peace. The cities may have the best vegan food but the country has the beauty that will forever capture my heart.

This week I thought I would share one of my go-to lunch recipes. Roasted vegetables are such a simple pleasure and this is a recipe I've been making for a while now, and one of my favourites to make in advance to take to work. Make a big batch on a Sunday and you're set for a few days, which is my favourite because ain't nobody got time for prepping lunches every night. If you fancy something a little different this also works really well as a filling for a wrap (I am so into wraps right now), or on the side of a main dish.

You will need (serves 2): 
for the roasted veg 
1 large sweet potato 
1 carrot 
1 courgette 
1 red onion 
2 sweet peppers
mixed herbs 
olive oil 
salt and pepper 

for the couscous 
1/2 cup whole wheat couscous 
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon mixed herbs 
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules 
1/2 teaspoon paprika 
1/4 teaspoon dried chillies
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast 
10 cherry tomatoes 
3 sundried tomatoes
the juice of a thick slice of lemon  

- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. 
- Peel and chop the sweet potato and carrot into small chunks and put onto a baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and mixed herbs and pop into the oven to bake for 40 minutes. 
- Chop up the onion, peppers, and courgette into small chunks and put onto another baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and mixed herbs. Put into the oven to bake for 25 minutes. 
- Once the veggies have all roasted, transfer them into a large bowl. 
- To make the couscous, add the 1/2 cup couscous to a pot with 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Bring this to the boil for 4-5 minutes and then remove from the heat and leave to sit for a few minutes. 
- Add the tomato puree, mixed herbs, garlic granules, paprika, dried chillies, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice to the couscous and stir through with a fork. 
- Chop up the cherry and sundried tomatoes and add these to the large bowl along with the couscous. Mix everything together well.

Download recipe 

Obviously I couldn't let Pancake Day slip by without sharing another one of my favourite recipes with you guys. My banana and cinnamon pancakes recipe from last year was one of my most popular on here for ages so I'm glad you all seem to love pancakes as much as I do. Perfect for a lazy weekend morning snuggled under a blanket with a cup of tea, pancakes will always be one of my most favourite breakfasts. Blueberry pancakes tend to be my first choice when I decide I want a little something special to start my day and these ones taste just like a blueberry muffin, lovely and sweet with little pockets of blueberries bursting with flavour. I just love them, especially when topped with a lemony blueberry compote and lots of maple syrup. 

You will need (serves 1):
1/3 cup plain flour 
1/3 cup oats 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 ripe banana 
1/2 cup soya milk (or other plant milk)
1/2 cup blueberries 

- Put all the ingredients, except for the blueberries, into a blender and blend the mixture until smooth. 
- Transfer the mixture into a jug and stir in the blueberries. 
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat until hot. Pour the mixture into the pan to make the pancakes. I can usually make two at once but this will depend on the size of your pan. Cook each pancake for 2-3 minutes on each side. You'll know the pancake is ready to flip when lots of little air bubbles appear on the surface. 
- Serve with your choice of toppings and syrup. I like to make a simple blueberry compote to pour over mine - just add a handful of blueberries to a bowl along with a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle of caster sugar and pop in the microwave for a minute. You could also make it in a pot on the stove if you don't have a microwave (I'm just lazy). 

If I was ever to have my own cookbook (a girl can dream), then Sam Murphy's new book is kinda exactly what I would have pictured. It's pretty beautiful and all vegan and it doesn't really get much better than that in my eyes. 

Sometimes I look through recipe books and feel like everything sounds so fancy and a bit too posh for my liking, like it's trying just a bit too hard. I love Sam's book because everything is recognisable, there are lots of old classics, and it just feels really down to earth. There are recipes for 'bacon' and mushroom carbonara, sweet and sour tofu, lemon honey tofu, loaded vegan hot dogs, lots of pizzas and burgers, and cheesy nacho sauce, to name just a few I've been drooling over. Classic faves but with a plant based twist; it's like a guide for how to make all your old favourite dishes vegan. And the thing I love most about this book? Every single recipe has a photo. I don't know why, and I think a lot of people are the same, but I hate when recipes don't have photos, like yea okay I need to know how to make it but I want to see how it looks first.

So far, I've only made two recipes from the book but they've both been really good. The raw cookie dough cereal was divine, although I did end up eating most of the little balls as snacks rather cereal, and honestly, most of the dough just went from the food processor into my mouth... It seriously does taste like cookie dough. I've also made the satay tofu, which was delicious, although it was a little too garlicky for me. I'd just reduce the two cloves to one next time and I reckon it would be perfect for my taste, my boyfriend did love it as it was though. I do love a good peanut satay sauce so as soon as I saw that recipe I knew I had to make it. 

The only thing that really bugged me about the book was some of the words and phrases it used, 'guilt free' and 'real food' being the main ones. We need to stop the whole guilt vibe around food because it's not okay. It comes along the same lines as the whole good foods, bad foods chat. Food isn't good or bad, you shouldn't feel guilty for eating certain foods and view others as innocent. Likewise, what makes some foods real and others not real? How can food not be real? I'm assuming real means filled with lots of fruit, veggies and whole grains, but does that mean than something more processed isn't 'real'. Processed isn't bad, tofu is a processed food and it's bloody amazing. We definitely need some more positivity around food, to stop being scared or scaremongered into believing certain things are good or bad. Eat what you love and stop feeling guilty about it. The book hasn't jumped on the whole 'refined sugar free' trend though, which I am super happy about - check out this post for more 'refined sugar free' ranting. Don't get me wrong, I think this is a fab book, I just have some personal dislike towards certain words surrounding food having been fooled by them before and I think the book would have been able to stand itself without them because it's so great.

Beautifully Real Food is a wonderful book filled with a collection of creative and mouth watering vegan recipes. I know for sure it's going to become a go-to in my kitchen and it's definitely overtaken the other cookbooks I have as my fave. If you want to introduce more plant-based eating into your life, or to show someone just how easy being vegan can be, this is the book to get. 

You can get your hands on this gem from Thursday (23 February) - I'd most definitely recommend it. 

[Beautifully Real Food: Guilt Free, Meat Free Recipes to Indulge in by Sam Murphy. Out on February 23rd, RRP £16.99, Blink Publishing.]

I was kindly sent a copy of Sam's new book to review. As always, all views and opinions on here are totally my own. 

I feel like my blog is always lacking in lunch recipes but that's because most of the lunches I make are super simple and totally not blog worthy because they just involve throwing a few ingredients together, or they are dinner leftovers (leftover chilli for lunch is possibly the best ever). I work full time and always bring my lunch with me so I like things that are easy to prep the night before and can be popped into a tub. Nothing fancy, just good filling food. These are a few of the lunches I'm really into at the moment. I kinda go through phases with lunches, I'll find one I really like and keep making it over and over until I can't stand it anymore, hence why soup is taking a backseat at the moment. The hummus sandwich never gets old though, it's amazing and the easiest thing to make ever, especially if you're lazy like me and use store bought hummus - the Tesco organic one is the best.

Rice, Kidney Bean and Broccoli Bowl 

You will need (makes enough for two lunches): 
1/4 cup whole wheat rice
1/4 cup mixed quinoa
1/8 cup pearl barley
1 tin red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 grated carrot
1/3 cup sweetcorn
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 head broccoli
black pepper and chilli flakes

- Rince the rice, quinoa and pearl barley and then put into a pot with around three cups of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes over a low heat until all the water has been absorbed.
- Chop the broccoli into florets and put this into a pot with boiling water. Simmer over a low heat for 2-3 minutes. 
- Transfer the rice and quinoa mix into a bowl and mix through the grated carrot and sweetcorn. Season with soy sauce, a sprinkle of chilli flakes and black pepper.
- Split the rice, beans, and broccoli between two bowls/lunchboxes.

Hummus and Carrot Sandwich 

You will need: 
2 slices of whole wheat bread
1 grated carrot
a handful of cherry tomatoes

- Generously spread hummus onto each of the slices of bread. Fill the sandwich with the grated carrot and some tomato slices. Serve the rest of the cherry tomatoes on the side.

Simple Avocado Salad 

You will need: 
for the salad
1 bag salad leaves (I like the Florette superfood salad)
1 grated carrot
1/4 cup sweetcorn
2 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped 
4 cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
toasted pine nuts and hummus to serve (optional)

for the dressing 
1 ripe avocado
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup water

- Add all the ingredients for the salad to a large bowl and combine together.
- To make the dressing, add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. Top with some toasted pine nuts and serve with a dollop of hummus.

What are your fave lunchbox lunches?

I found out recently that the M&S veggie Percy Pigs aren't vegan and, I'm not gonna lie, it broke my heart a little. I'd always thought they were vegan and they taste so bloody good. Turns out they contain a sneaky E number, (E901, aka beeswax), disguising their non-veganness in the ingredients. I'm totally not up to speed on all the E's so definitely wouldn't have noticed this on my own (thank you Twitter), so I wanted to write a post with all the ingredients that can sneak into things under names that you wouldn't immediately recognise as being animal products.

We all have slip ups as vegans and that's okay. Don't beat yourself up about it. The thing is, once you make a mistake you know you won't make it again. I might never be able to have those delicious Percy's again but I'm okay with that because I'm not contributing to animal suffering by doing so. I feel like I've said this a million times on here but being vegan is about causing the least amount of harm possible, it's not about being perfect.

Gelatin - derived from animal products and never vegan. Commonly used in gummy sweeties. 

Lactose - a type of sugar found in milk. 

Rennet - this one caught me out back when I was vegetarian as Parmesan and Grana Padano cheeses are produced using rennet, which comes from the stomachs of animals. 

Honey/Beeswax - made by bees, for bees. 

Propolis - also known as bee glue. Contains beeswax and is made by bees. 

Whey - is kind of the leftovers of milk once it's been curdled and strained (gross). 

Casein - a protein that comes from milk. 

Vitamin D3 - often derived from animal products. The only vegan source of D3 is vitashine so unless this is specified then avoid the product. 

Lanolin - also known as wool wax or wool fat, a wax that is found on wool-bearing animals that is used to protect their wool. 

Isinglass - comes from the dried swim bladders of fish, often used for filtering beer and wine.  

Shellac - a resin produced by female lac bugs.  

Cod Liver Oil - it's in the name, comes from the liver of a cod fish. 

Cochineal - a scale insect that is crushed to used to create red dye. 

Bone Char - a material that is produced by charring animal bones. Can be used in sugar production, although this is less common now, and also as a black pigment in paint and ink. 

Pepsin - an enzyme produced in the stomachs of humans and animals. 

Tallow - a form of animal fat. 

Lard - pig fat. 

Down - goose or duck feathers used for insulating purposes, commonly found in jackets, duvets, and pillows. 

And a shit tonne of E's - the main ones to look out for that are never vegan are E120, E542, E901 and E904 but there are lots more that can be derived from animal products. Check out The Vegan Society for more info on these. 

I hope you guys found this post useful! I will try to keep it updated as and when I discover other sneaky ingredients that are not okay for vegans. Let me know in the comments if you've come across any others that I have missed. 

So because it's Veganuary things are pretty good for us vegans right now. There are lots of two for one deals floating about, new vegan options are popping up and there's a lot of chat going on around veganism. I love it.

Teaming up with Veganuary, All Bar One have created a whole vegan menu for January and they invited me to come and try it. We really need to talk about how good it was because it was seriously good. As I wanted to try pretty much everything, my boyfriend and I got different dishes each course and split them so we got to try two things from each course off the menu. 

For the starter, we had the patatas bravas (mini crisp roasted potatoes with a spicy tomato and red pepper dip) and the crushed avocado and tomato bruschetta topped with kalamata olives. Both were divine, especially the bruschetta, those olives on top were just perfect. We were pretty damn impressed with the starters but actually, by the end of the meal, they turned out to be our least favourite (but still amazing) course. That says a lot for what's to come though...

For mains, we opted for the superfood salad and the kale and hummus flatbread with kale pakora and jackfruit chutney. The pineapple and ginger dressing on the salad was delicious, and although we are pretty sure we got rocket instead of baby kale, it was so good. I really want to recreate this salad at home now because I just loved it. The kale pakora on the other dish was incredible and went perfectly with the jackfruit chutney and hummus. It tasted just like I remember veggie pakora tasting. Also, the flatbread wrap it came in was one of those big thick ones, which are totally the best kind (side note: if anyone knows where I can buy them please let me know!).  

And finally, dessert, forever the best course. We had the coconut and vanilla rice pudding with a blueberry compote and the chilli, chocolate and cardamom cake. The cake was good, especially dipped into the chocolate sauce (although looking back I think you're probably meant to pour the sauce over the cake), but the rice pudding. Oh my god. We need to talk about the rice pudding because it was maybe the best thing ever. It was so creamy, sweet and probably a million times better than any rice pudding I've ever had before. I really liked how they had rice pudding on the menu as well as it's something a little different to what you normally get. Honestly, incredible.

Guys, All Bar One have nailed the vegan food. 10/10, you need to go before it disappears at the end of January, so like this weekend! Some of the dishes are on the main menu, like the superfood salad and bruschetta but the kale pakora and rice pudding, which were the best, won't be around for long (cry). I really wish they would keep the vegan menu all year round, it's incredible and I think everyone would love the food on it, not just vegans.

The only thing I will say is that the main meals are pretty light so probably more a lunch deal, unless you have all three courses (for only £13, by the way). By the end of the meal I felt comfortably full, not like how I usually feel after three courses when I can barely move. Maybe the light mains is a good shout, it just gives you an excuse to definitely have dessert.

All Bar One invited me and a guest along to try their vegan menu but all thoughts, opinions and rants of delicious food here are entirely my own. 

It's Burns Night this week and I haven't done a haggis recipe on here before so, y'know, it was gonna happen. I'm not sure how big a thing Burns Night is outside of Scotland but haggis is pretty good so everyone should definitely give it a go. Well, vegan haggis is good, the meat one not so much. In fact, even before I went vegan/veggie I had always preferred veggie haggis, I mean if you know what meat haggis is then you probably would too. Let's not go there. All you need to know is this haggis is good and you should most definitely try it. Serve with mashed potato with broccoli through it, because broccoli is life (I'm mostly saying this so you don't look at the pic here and think, what on earth is wrong with that mashed potato...). The recipe makes quite a lot but it freezes well so that's okay. I've pretty much been eating haggis for weeks having made this recipe a few times to get it right. 

You will need (serves 6): 

1 1/2 cups oats 
1/3 cup red lentils 
1/3 cup green lentils 
1/4 cup pearl barley 
1/2 cup kidney beans 
1/4 cup mixed seeds
1 onion 
1 grated carrot 
3 closed cup mushrooms
1 teaspoon mixed herbs 
1 teaspoon garlic granules 
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice 
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
plenty of ground pepper (I like a lot)
1 1/2 vegetable stock cubes 


- In a mug, mix the 1 1/2 veggie stock cubes with a little water to dissolve them. Add the lentils and pearl barley to a pot with four cups of water and the stock cubes. Boil for this for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes. 
- Roughly chop up the mushrooms, finely chop the onion and rinse the kidney beans. 
- Add the oats and seeds to a food processor and pulse to break down. 
- Add the mushrooms, kidney beans, and grated carrots to the food processor too and pulse this a few times until the mixture starts to combine together. 
- Pour the mixture out into a large bowl and then stir in the chopped onion and all the herbs and spices. 
- Once the lentil and barley mixture has finished cooking (it shouldn't have absorbed all the liquid and will be quite runny), pour this into the bowl and mix everything together well. 
- Transfer the mixture into a lined and greased loaf tin (I just used a little vegan butter to grease the tin) and then pop this in the oven at 180 degrees celsius for 40-45 minutes. loaf tin (I just used a little vegan butter to grease the tin) and then pop this in the oven at 180 degrees celsius for 40-45 minutes. 

I'd written about three different little rambles to start of this post but none of them were really sitting right. I kind of feel like I don't know what to say, I have so many thoughts running around in my head right now, and I watched The Fault in Our Stars last night so I'm still a rather emotional mess from that. Sometimes the words just don't come and that's okay, so today it's just the recipe but it's one I love and hope you will too.

This is the porridge I make almost every morning. It's the one that never fails me and the one that is a really good base for pretty much any toppings. I do love a fancy flavoured porridge every now and again, but this is the simple and pleasing one that I always come back to because it is so good. Turns out, cooking the banana into the oats is a total game changer, trust me.

You will need (serves 1):
1/2 cup oats (soaked overnight)
1/2 cup plant milk of your choice 
1 ripe banana 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

- Soak your oats overnight in 1/2 a cup of water.
- In the morning, add the oats to a pot (don't drain the water if there is any excess) along with the plant milk, cinnamon and pumpkin seeds. Chop the banana into coins and add this to the pot too. 
- Simmer over a low-medium heat for 6-7 minutes until thickened. I usually need to add a little more water as it cooks but this depends on how you like your porridge.
- Serve with all the toppings of your choice. My faves are peanut butter (obvs), frozen berries, banana, maple syrup, almond butter, jam and granola (but not all at once!).

Looking to fancy up your porridge a bit? You might also like these:
Banana, Blueberry and Almond Porridge
Mango, Banana and Coconut Porridge
Apple, Blueberry and Cinnamon Porridge 

Hey guys and Happy New Year! I'll spare you the 'omg, did 2016 even happen?!' chat because although it was a ridiculously fast year, it was also the year I decided to go vegan, which I'm still saying is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I admit that I used to be a skeptic, one of those types who said I could never go vegan because how on earth would I ever live without cheese. However, I was wrong. It was around this time last year that I started to become interested in veganism. I'd followed a few super cool people on Instagram who were shaking up everything I believed in and I became hooked, drawn in by their knowledge, passion and cruelty free way of living. I watched all the documentaries, read lots of articles and followed inspirational vegan people until one day I thought, I just gonna go for it. I couldn't ignore it any longer and pretend that what I was eating wasn't, in fact, the product of so much suffering.

January tends to be cluttered by diet culture, detox vibes and a whole lot of crap about restriction and how to lose weight. Don't get sucked in by it. It's a load of bull and won't leave you feeling very satisfied or happy. Instead, this year, try going vegan. You don't need to do it straight away, you are allowed to make mistakes and it quite possibly will be the best thing you ever do. Veganism is getting huge making it easier than ever before to dive right in and embrace it. Being vegan isn't a fad diet or a quick fix to lose a few pounds, it's a hugely fulfilling life choice that has so many massive benefits so if you want a goal for this year that really counts then give it a go.

Why you should try going vegan this year:

For the animals.

Because it's not fair for one species to suffer at the hands of another when we know better. Eating meat is no longer necessary. Yes, humans have eaten animals for thousands of years but it is no longer a necessity, we don't need it for survival. We have so much wonderful plant food at our finger tips, food that doesn't cause suffering or harm to animals. We now have a choice. You have a choice. 

To help the planet. 

The impact of animal agriculture on our planet is immense, shocking and completely unacceptable. One of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to go vegan. I'm totally overwhelmed by the damage that livestock farming is doing to the earth, it's heartbreaking. If you want to learn more about why you should most definitely be vegan for the planet then I'd recommend watching Cowspiracy because I can't even begin to get into it here.

For your own health and wellbeing. 

Eliminating animal products from your diet can and does make you feel wonderful. I've definitely found that I have more energy, feel less tired and am just generally happier eating a vegan diet. Plus, there are a shit tonne of actual scientific medical reasons why eating vegan is the best thing you can possibly do for your own health. I'd recommend reading Dr. Michael Greger's Hot Not To Die if you want to swot up on why plant-based diets are pretty much the best medicine going. 

To feel better about yourself. 

There is a certain peacefulness that comes with veganism. A contentment that you are not causing pain or suffering. You are doing such a wonderful thing by going vegan, you deserve to feel bloody fabulous about it, and you will.

To save money. 

Myth buster: being vegan is not expensive. Whole plant foods are some of the cheapest you can buy, especially when we're talking about things like beans, lentils, and rice, as well as fruit and veggies. Yes, I love a bit of fancy vegan cheese or some delicious Fry's chicken style nuggets every now and again but they are not everyday things. Day to day, you'll be eating the cheapest foods going. 

Because you've got nothing to lose. 

What's the worst that could happen? You miss meat? You can't shake those cheese craves? At least you are trying. If at first, you need to stock up on the meat replacements and vegan cheese that's fine because you have stopped causing harm. It can be hard and you will slip up but that's okay. It's a journey and a learning curve. Hell, even if you're eating one vegan meal a week instead of your usual meat and dairy based one then that's a step in the right direction. Being vegan is about causing the least amount of harm possible, it's not about being perfect.

['Animals are not products. Life doesn't have a price.'] 

More on veganism:
Why I went vegan
Things people ask when you go vegan
Is veganism a trend?
Being vegan - six months on