Being Vegan on a trip to Stockholm and Copenhagen

It’s been a great year so far, in terms of trips, and it’s been an interesting challenge to find sustainable vegan food while exploring too!

After going home to Italy in February, I went back to Sweden with my Canadian pals. Last year we went to Gothenburg, this time we went to Stockholm and Copenhagen for a few days at the beginning of May.

I liked Stockholm a lot! I love that it’s a cluster of 14 different islands interlinked by a myriad of beautiful bridges and that it is so bike-friendly. The air was always fresh, it never seemed to be very polluted and I didn’t really see any traffic jams.

We didn’t need to use public transport, we simply hired the Stockholm City Bikes which were surprisingly affordable at 165 SEK or under £15 for 3 days.
We got a card from one of the many 7-11 shops and we were able to cycle up to 3 hours at a time, anytime between 6am til 10pm.

There are bike banks dotted all around the city, we cycled everywhere we wanted to during our stay there and walked the rest of the time. It was lovely to easily rely on bikes to get around.

 

Cycling in Stockholm

Cycling in Stockholm

 

Cycling also made us realise how surprisingly easy it is to go from the bustling centre to the quiet edge of the city in minutes.

Ideal if you want to have a little break and find some beautiful natural spots.

 

Cloudy sky a few minutes away from the centre

Cloudy sky a few minutes away from the centre

 

We got to a path where we could not hear anything but the wind, the water and buoy bells. Incredible :)

 

Listening to the wind

Listening to the wind

 

When we first got to Stockholm we got some really nice salads and fresh bread from a little supermarket near our hostel. Mine had falafels and spicy houmous – falafel really is the international vegan staple meal! :D

Everyone speaks excellent English so there was no problem at all finding out if something was vegan when I couldn’t figure out what some of the ingredients were. The people I asked were extremely nice and happy to help :)

I also never had so many coffees in a single week in my life! I may have been unconsciously thinking of all the coffee-drinking in the Millenium series / The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy…

Most, if not all cafés had soy milk available so it was easy-peasy to choose a vegan option.

 

Frothy Soy Latte

Frothy Soy Latte

 

We didn’t have a fixed itinerary, we just cycled and found interesting places in the city.

We did visit one museum, Fotografiska, which had several completely diverse exhibitions which got us talking a lot.
The building really stands out and the view from their café is stunning, so I really recommend it if you have the opportunity to go.

 

The beautiful Fotografiska

The beautiful Fotografiska

 

Fika.

Amazing view of Stockholm's City Centre

Amazing view of Stockholm’s City Centre

 

On 30th April, Walpurgis Eve, a night to celebrate the arrival of Spring, we went out looking for the bonfire near where our hostel was in Gamla Stan, but by the time we got there it was less of a bonfire and more like a camping fire…There was a really good atmosphere however, and the fire warmed us up as we felt the light rain and the chilly air of Stockholm on our faces.

 

Walpurgis Eve Fire

Walpurgis Eve Fire

 

During our cycling adventures we also biked past some swamps on our way back from Djurgården, the Royal Park. No landscape was the same, this city has enough to be appealing to any sort of visitor.

 

Swamp on our cycling adventure

Swamp on our cycling adventure

 

Most of the time the weather was good and we enjoyed beautiful views of the city…

 

View from Södermalm

View from Södermalm

 

… and blue skies.

Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan

 

~

And now, to the food! :)

We weren’t exactly looking to taste super traditional Swedish food, but rather spontaneously finding places where we fancied eating, so we had amazing pizza for lunch one day…

 

Vegan Pizza

Vegan Pizza

 

…Mexican food one night…

 

Vegan bean burrito with guacamole, salsa and tortillas

Vegan bean burrito with guacamole, salsa and tortillas

 

…and sometimes we just bought something from the local coop and had a picnic in the Arctic air fresh breeze outside :)

 

Vegan lunch from the shop

Vegan lunch from the shop

 

Prior to our trip I asked our Swedish colleague for some tips on what to do in Stockholm and he recommended several places to eat too, so we went to Flippin’ Burgers in Observatoriegatan.

I had their vegan burger, but I had to have it without the bun as it had milk in it. It was nice and the restaurant has a really cool U.S. diner vibe and they serve milkshakes, floats and lots of different types of beer too.
It’s very, very popular so be prepared to queue up for a little while.

Vegan option at Flippin' Burgers in Stockholm

Vegan option at Flippin’ Burgers in Stockholm

 

The only place where it was trickier to find vegan food was the airport, the few options included fruit, nuts and these kind of smoothies.

Lime and strawberry smoothie

Lime and strawberry smoothie

 

~~~

 

We then flew from Stockholm to Copenhagen – flying was about a quarter of the price compared to taking the train! – and had a great time visiting it, we wished we could have stayed longer…

Everyone seems to be very happy and relaxed in Copenhagen, as opposed to everyone looking so busy and stressed in London…but maybe the fact that we were there at the weekend contributed to that too :)

 

First walk around Copenhagen

First walk around Copenhagen

 

It was really exciting to walk around the city where some of my favourite series, The Killing and Borgen, are set. I even spotted Pilou Asbæk, who plays Kasper in Borgen, strolling with his family on the bridge opposite Christiansborg Palace, the seat of Danish Parliament ! :D

 

Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg Palace

 

Copenhagen too is full of full of bridges linking one area to the other, every street also has wide bike lanes and although different sources cite different numbers, I have read that up to 50% of Copenhageners cycle to work.
I actually have never seen as many bicycles as in Copenhagen, not even in Beijing.

 

Bikes in Christiania

Bikes in Christiania

 

Cycling isn’t the only alternative way to see Copenhagen, you can even see it from the river itself…

Kayaking in Copenhagen

Kayaking in Copenhagen

 

…or just by being by it.

 

Friday night at the riverside

Friday night at the riverside

 

The Parental leave system in Denmark is very flexible so it was nice and refreshing to see so many men walking around with their children.

Walk where the river meets the sea

Walk where the river meets the sea

 

We visited the Botanisk Have – Botanical Garden – and it reminded me of Kew Gardens. It’s a beautiful green area in the middle of the city and it was a beautiful day when we went there.

Botanisk Have

Botanisk Have

 

We also strolled around the picturesque Nyhavn for a few hours…

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

 

~~~

Before going on our trip I had a look on Happy Cow to check a few vegan-friendly places as my friends are super lovely and were more than happy to give them a try.

We went to L’ Appetit in Frederiksborggade, which was so nice, we went there twice! They had vegan-friendly food in big portions for about £7, with choices of veggie burgers, samosas, falafels and 4-5 different salads. The lady working there was really nice and pointed out all the vegan nosh.

 

Food at L'Appetit in Copenhagen

Vegan Food at L’Appetit in Copenhagen

 

Vegan Samosa, Houmous and Salads at L'Appetit

Vegan Samosa, Houmous and Salads at L’Appetit

 

I also tried different types of bread from a chain called Holm’s Bager. These were so nice and tasty, I think they were made with different flours, including rye,  topped with seeds and oats and filled with raisins and other good stuff.
The lady working there checked which ones were dairy free for me.

Holm's Bager Raisin and Seed Rolls

Holm’s Bager Raisin and Seed Rolls

 

And of course, it was very easy to get hold of another usual great vegan snack: nuts! This pot had  the ingredients written in English too, could it be any easier to find vegan food in Copenhagen?

 

Snack from the station

Snack from the station

 

~

 

We may have spent less than a week away, but this was certainly one of the best trips of my life!

I do love travelling. I personally think it involves different elements that can make you grow as not much else can.

Organising, researching, meeting and talking to new people, seeing and experiencing something new… it can really help open your mind and make you think there are different kinds of life around you… And even if you do happen to have a bad experience, you can learn from it.

After this trip I felt inspired, I loved experimenting with pictures and it makes me feel reassured that it is possible to have more sustainable cities, it can take as little as more safe cycling routes, for example.

 

Here are some links if you would like to know more about sustainability in Sweden and Denmark:

 

 

I am very happy to have been able to see a little more of Sweden and to walk around Copenhagen, I really cannot wait to go back!

 

Have you been to a city that is known for its eco credentials?

What do you think are the elements that make a city or country more sustainable? Does it apply to everywhere?

100 Ways to be More Sustainable – 100th Post

Hello everyone, this is my 100th post! :)

I started this blog on 5th February 2012, over 2 years ago, and have finally got to the 100 mark.

As I started off with the idea of writing a blog that would show that acting more sustainably can be easy and have benefits such as saving energy, money and pollute less, I thought it would be a good idea to write about 100 ways to be more sustainable for the 100th post :)

 

First, though, I would like to thank you.

Thank you if you are reading this, thank you if you have been following me since the start, since last year or if you are a new follower.

Thank you for every “like”, comment and share. Thank you for supporting me in my little mission.

 

Now, to the more practical side of things.

Everything we do has an impact on the environment, this impact can be more or less sustainable, if we think of it as “capable of being maintained as a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage”.

So, here we go, just over 100 tips on how to be more sustainable! Click on the links to discover more about these eco-tactics :)

 

Less energy-hungry food (16)

  • Eat less energy-demanding meat. It only takes a few seconds to look at this World Food Clock and realise how we produce, consume and waste every single second. (Thank you for sharing, Janina). Here are some ideas to get your newly recommended 7 (or even more) a day! 10 Ways to 10 a Day from KHGS.
  • Eat more lentils! They are an excellent sustainable source of protein and easy to grow too.

 

Lenticchie di Norcia - Italian Lentils

Lenticchie di Norcia – Italian Lentils

 

  • Store food properly. By doing so, it will last longer and you will waste less. Did you know spring onions last longer in a glass of water in the fridge? :)
  • Plan meals ahead and let frozen meals thaw in the fridge. This will save you energy because the fridge will need less electricity to keep the temperature low, plus you won’t need to defrost the meal in the microwave either. Guide: How to defrost safely.
  • Buy locally, go to farmers’ markets or local farms – you will be supporting smaller producers and you can save money too.
  • Have a look at supermarkets’ reduced to clear sections.
    You can find amazing bargains, especially towards the end of the day (loaves of bread for 20p), and purchase food that would otherwise go to waste. You can then consume it as soon as possible or freeze it for future use and save a lot of money.

 

Reduced Food

Amazingly cheap but still perfectly fine reduced food

 

  • Understand the difference between “best before” dates and “use by” dates. Look at the Ultimate Shelf Life Guide to avoid wasting food unnecessarily.
  • When you go out, try local produce and products. From craft beers to wine, from pies to vegetables and fruit: give your local producers a try!

 

Less Pollution (22)

  • Try natural alternative to laundry detergents, such as affordable soap nuts.

Green People Mascara

  • Give car sharing a try. Try sharing rides with colleagues, share a taxi or simply use public transport or start cycling.
  • Learn to drive consuming less fuel: Cut your speed and petrol bill.
    As a pedestrian, if you see a single car coming along, and you’re not in too much of a rush of course, let it drive past so they don’t need to break and re-depart after, which would use more fuel.
  • Walk more. Ramblers is a website that shows many walking routes, or you could simply walk more and use your car less.
  • If you need to pack a parcel, reuse bubble wrap or – even better – use strips of waste paper and ask the receiver to reuse or recycle them after.
  • Try purchasing less plastic and buying reusable items made of less toxic materials. You can start by taking a reusable bag when you go shopping. Life Without Plastic.
  • When you are eating out, ask for tap water rather than bottled water (in areas where it is safe, of course). Why Tap Water is Better.
  • To freshen your home, use essential oils rather than chemical-filled air fresheners. You only need a few drops in a burner or in a spray bottle.
  • Instead of sponges which are not recyclable and harbour bacteria, use cloths which can be washed and reused.

 

Reusable Material Cloth and Ecover

Reusable Material Cloth and Ecover

 

  • Switch to online billing rather than paper billing, some companies offer discounts for the switch too.
  • To get rid of oil stains, rub chalk on the affected area before washing rather than using harsh chemicals.
  • Take your own lunch to work, you will cut down on a lot of packaging and also save around £1,000 per year!

 

Take a packed lunch to work :)

Take a packed lunch to work :)

 

  • When changing the oil for your car, make sure you dispose of it properly as it can pollute waterways and kill wildlife. Find your nearest UK oil bank.
  • Try to purchase products that don’t rely on batteries, and if they must, use rechargeable ones. Look for solar power chargers for an extra sustainable option.

 

Make, repair&fix (12)

 

Make Do and Mend

 

 

  • Turn used trousers into shorts or skirts.
  • Get to know your neighbours, they may need something you can offer and they may be able to offer something you need.
    My flatmate designed the website for the restaurant next door to us.
  • Make your own body scrub, for example by mixing olive oil with a bit of ground salt and sugar. Simple!
  • Make your mirrors, windows and glass objects sparkle by using white vinegar. Add some in a spray bottle (you can dilute it with 1:10 vinegar to water up to 50/50) and apply with scrunched newspaper to leave no traces or marks.
  • Make a wood cleaner by mixing two parts of vegetable oil with one part lemon juice, use with a cloth.
  • If you prefer purchasing cleaning products, choose eco-friendly ones such as Ecover.
  • To freshen up smelly shoes, try filling them up with scrunched newspaper overnight or sprinkle the insides with bicarbonate of soda or talcum powder and shake them out the day after.

 

Buy less, use less and buy better quality (9)

 

  • Do a little research about brands you may want to purchase: do they pay sustainable wages to their workers? Labour Behind the Label.
  • Use less plastic and more natural or oil-free materials, have a look at alternatives from Life Without Plastic.
  • Buy second-hand books, they can be so much cheaper! Or borrow reading material from your local library.
  • Have your shoes resoled once they need to and keep on using them. I have had my boots for 7 years and they’re great!
  • Dye clothes that have faded and give them a new life.

 

Bank Better

 

  • Triodos Bank is “a global pioneer of sustainable banking.” Their mission is “to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change.”

 

Lend

 

  • Give someone the opportunity to create a sustainable business and alleviate poverty with the Kiva project, you can lend as little as $25 to someone who needs it and who will give it back to you when possible.

 

Save Energy (15)

 

  • Invest in an energy-saving product such as Energenie in order to save energy and money.
  • When charging devices, unplug them once they are fully charged, avoid leaving them plugged in unnecessarily or overnight.
  • Look for energy-efficient domestic appliances.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries and replace your batteries rather than replacing your whole phone.
  • Turn off the oven a few minutes before the time is up, the heat remains in the oven for a long time after you switch it off.
  • Try to use the oven as its full capacity when you use it, you can add meals to eat later in the week or use it to make croutons out of stale bread, for example.
  • Switch to a green energy supplier.
  • Wear warmer clothing and adjust your central heating to avoid wasting energy and money.
  • When you dry your clothes indoors, avoid putting them on radiators as this will stop the heat from reaching the room, create damp and good conditions for mold to grow.
  • Cook in bulk and therefore save energy. You can freeze additional portions.
  • Cook food in a steamer, you can cook different things on each level at the same time.

 

Recycle and Reuse (11)

 

  • Save paint from going to waste, Community Repaint collect reusable paint and distribute it to those who need it, helping them and avoiding waste.
  • Recycle your shoes at a collection bank.
  • Clear your cupboards of old electronic equipment, sell it or recycle in appropriate centres.
  • Consider going to charity shops first to find what you need. It could be a frame, and even if you don’t like a picture you may love the frame. Give things a new life.
  • You can recycle all sorts of things, even ink cartridges. Check before you throw.
  • Donate, don’t throw. If you have unwanted furniture, give it to a friend or donate it to a charity.
  • Borrow instead of buying, Freecycle.org can help you find what you need with no need to buy it.
  • Share more. You will save money, use fewer resources, meet new people… 10 reasons to share.
  • Use carpets in many ways to avoid them ending up in landfill. Use them to line cupboards, cars as mats, pet beds,  as doormats and even under plant pots.

 

Waste Less (9)

 

  • Compost food and tea bags to fertilise the soil which you will be able to use to grow your own herbs, vegetables, food or plants.
  • Reuse timber material from skips.
  • Take your own suit bags to the dry cleaner’s rather than having them give you flimsy plastic ones and take back the hangers for them to reuse.
  • Reuse tea bags – when you make tea in a cup, you can often reuse it for another cup as their strength is usually enough for a few cups. Or use loose tea leaves and then compost them if possible.

CHai Tea

  • Buy in bulk or buy refills.
  • When you go to a restaurant, if you cannot finish your meal, ask to take it away in a doggy box. It’s a compliment to those who took care to source and prepare the food, and you have paid for the whole portion, don’t be shy! Too Good To Waste Campaign.

 

Save Water (5)

 

  • Choose a dual flush system or put a water-saving device in your loo tank to use less water with every flush.
  • When you are waiting for cold water to turn hot, collect it rather than letting it go down the drain and use it to water flower and plants, wash fruit and vegetables, fill the kettle…don’t waste it!
  • Use a tank to collect rain water. It’s ideal to water plants or wash the car.
  • Wash your vegetables in a bowl rather than under running water and use that water for plants and flowers.

 

What do you like to do to be more sustainable?

Do you have any additional tips?

Weather Problems and Climate Change Relations

For the past few weeks the news has literally been inundated with updates on the bad weather we’ve had here in the UK and also the storms that have been hitting the US.

Apparently it was the unusually bad storm in Indonesia that started it all off, as a chain reaction that affected so many people and even caused fatalities, 3 people died because of it in the UK alone.

This brief BBC video, from 13th February 2014, gives a good summary of what has been happening: UK storms: “Global chain reaction” behind bad weather.

One comment is particularly interesting to me: “Met Office scientists cannot give a definitive answer about climate change, but they ask about all the recent extremes”.

Another BBC article, published on 9th February so 4 days before the video, is titled “Met Office: Evidence “suggests climate change link to storms“.

I guess the way the media is reporting scientists’ opinions can be a little confusing sometimes, I initially thought these two statements from the same source, the BBC, were clashing.

However a few paragraphs into the article the concept becomes somewhat clearer, as Dame Julia Slingo states : “There is no evidence to counter the basic premise that a warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly rain events.”

Which to me means “We cannot prove that the bad weather we’ve had and climate change are not linked”.

With this, we can understand that scientists may not be necessarily trying to prove that climate change and the extreme weather we have been witnessing are interlinked, but rather they are trying to see if this hypothesis can be proved and become a theory.

It’s almost as if they are trying to find evidence to prove that they are not linked, in the meantime it is probable that the devastating weather and climate are, in fact, linked.

I find this is important to understand.

I have been thinking about writing this post for the past 2 weeks and it has changed a lot in the process, while I tried to understand more of what’s been going on.

At first all the articles I was reading seemed to make it clear: climate change is causing extraordinary weather, this weather is causing innumerable problems for thousands of people…

If climate change itself is mainly caused by humans’ emissions then we simply have to act more sustainably to produce less emissions, prevent and solve this problem.

I’d love to be able to know for a fact that change and adverse weather connection are linked.

But the fact that this cannot be proved as 100% true does not mean it is not, or at least in part.

I am just trying to understand how things are connected, why and what I can do in order to slow these hostile phenomenons down.

 

Sunny Day in London

Meanwhile, the Sun shines cheekily in London

 

Another great article, this time the Guardian’s “World begins 2014 with unusual number of extreme weather events” quotes: “”We are living in a time where the climate is changing quite rapidly. There is reason to expect that the changes in the sea ice will have large local effects. Further investigation will improve our knowledge of whether or not the effects of sea ice decline and broader changes in the Arctic have global effects,” said leading US meteorologist Jeff Masters.”

I guess it’s an ongoing quest.

In the meantime, I will continue to look for more ways to lead a more sustainable life, together with eating less or no energy-hungry food such as meat, recycling more, buying less but better quality and from sustainable sources…

I have posted a petition to ask for better flood defenses on the blog’s Facebook page.

 

Do you feel confused by the way the media shapes the news?

 

What is your opinion on the relation between climate change and the planet’s weather?

Don’t Spend, Mend!

Are you a DIY lover?

I’m actually not, but there are some things that I like to do myself to avoid creating needs for things I could simply mend and carry on using.

One thing I like to do is mending clothes. And the point is, I’m not that good at it. But I care about the things I own, I like to look after them so they can last as much as possible and if they get wounded on the way, I like to give them a hand to recover and my basic stitching skills seem to do the trick.

A button missing here, a little hole there, a stubborn stain… if you give a little bit of love and time to clothes, they will keep on loving you.

By mending things you are less likely to purchase new things, new things that needed a lot of energy and produce carbon emissions to get to you. So you’re being sustainable :) oh, and you’re saving money ;) all you need is a very basic sewing kit (I only have 1 needle and 3 different coloured cotton thread reels and manage with that).

Since the beginning of the financial crisis we have seen various “waste not want not” topics arise in different ways.

This new topic trend translated itself in creating and mending clothes too, with programmes such as The Great British Sewing Bee popping up on our screens in May last year in the U.K. and starting again next Tuesday at 8pm.

I thought of this post because I finally tackled some stitching and mending I had put aside. I “saved” 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, a jumper, a pair of tracksuit bottoms, a T-shirt, a bra, some underwear and a pair of tights.

All of these items had a little fault but they are now ready to be worn again, in fact I wore the tights the day after I mended them and have put off buying a new pair. Pretty good for about for about 45 minutes of mending while listening to the radio.

I have also received pretty interesting Pinterest suggestions on craft, sewing etc.

Some people are talented enough to make their own wedding dress out of fabric unwanted by others, which is ridiculously amazing and inspiring, however if you are not so good at sewing, stitching and darning you can find a lot of tutorials online or maybe someone in your family or circle of friends could help! It will give you a cosy sense of achievement :)

DIY Scalloped Hem Skirt

DIY Scalloped Hem Skirt Tutorial from uberchiforcheap.com

I am planning to save more garments by rescuing them from stubborn stains. The way I usually do it is by adding thin bleach do a little dish, diluting it with water and then gently dabbing it to the affected area (I wear rubber gloves and use cotton wool to dab it). I let it sink a few seconds, rub it gently then put the garment in the washing machine or wash it by hand.

My mum now uses a nice Summer jacket that used to be stained.

I also have the intention to refresh the look of an unwanted coat by adding colourful  buttons to it, make a cushion out of a wooly jumper I don’t want to wear and a pair of shorts out of a pair of jeans, taking inspiration from this Little Miss Bow Peep blog post.

I will update this post once I have done this :)

Here is some inspiration and help to mend, create and update clothes, such as this dress from the WobiSobi blog.

DIY Dress Pinterest

DIY Dress Pinterest

 

Pinterest inspiration:

Thrifty Crafts

Sewing

Make do and mend

DIY Projects

DIY: Fashion

Pin it, Make it, Wear it

Knits and Knots if you’d like to give knitting a try

 

Youtube:

How to repair rips in your clothes video

Hand Sewing Basics video

The British Sewing Bee: How To…

And if something really cannot be mended, take it to the charity shop or to H&M’s garmet collecting bins to ensure it can be reused or recycled rather than end up in landfill.

Do you ever mend clothes?

Do TV shows and tutorials inspire you to try some DIY mending?

Being Vegan on a Trip Home in Italy

Hello all! As mentioned in my last post, I went home to Italy for a week and now I am back in London! :)

It was the first time I went back home as a more-sustainable-eating-vegan so I was curious to see how it would go. I can safely say it went very well as my main occupation there was actually eating…!

My mum bought a ton of fresh vegetables for me to have and my friends also made an effort to feed me (after a few panic moments trying to figure out what to make!) :D

I started off my trip well with the usual super food salad from Pret A Manger.

This has really become a sort of ritual, a bit like some who always have a McDonald’s breakfast before a trip, only healthier and more sustainable :P

I had a delicious innocent mangoes and passion fruit smoothie, which has 2 of your 5 a day and is so thick and delicious… and a cocoa delight Nakd bar, which is 1 of your 5 a day!

With the salad I’m sure it made up 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, all in one meal! I certainly eat a lot more vegetables now I eat vegan food :)

Pret Super Food Salad, innocent Smoothie and Naked Bar

Pret Super Food Salad, innocent Smoothie and Naked Bar

My mum didn’t only buy heaps of vegetables, she also bought me several other vegan goodies such as soy milk so I could have cereals for breakfast.

Vegan Cereals in Italy

Chocolate Cereals, Soy Milk and Twinings Lemon Tea

My sister tasted soy milk for the first time and said she really likes it! She said it’s sweet and tastes good. I personally don’t really like it much on its own but it’s perfect with cereals and other recipes.

The day after I got there some of my friends and I went to visit another friend who invited us for lunch.

I asked her if I should take some food over to make things easier (she seemed a bit alarmed when I told her what I choose not to eat!), but she made a delicious asparagus risotto (and simply added butter and parmesan to it after dishing mine out). I also had the chips (only skipped the meat rolls) and yummy apple pastries she made.

My sister also had some really nice baci di dama biscuits, their name means “dame’s kisses” and they are like 2 little biscuits sealed with a kiss of hazelnutty chocolate.

Lucky for me, these were dairy free, made with rice flour (so probably gluten-free too) and egg free.

Bacetti di Riso

Bacetti di Riso

Baci and lemon tea

Baci and lemon tea

They were particularly lovely with citrussy Twinings lemon tea :)

Out of the mountain of vegetable my mum got, there was a really big bag of fresh spinach and bietoline, so I used them to make a lovely vegetable pasta which also had red peppers, tomato sauce, garlic, herbs, chilli, onions and my beloved sun-dried tomatoes. Tasty and colourful!

Vegetable Fusilli

I also managed to make another recipe again while I was home: a friend of my mum’s gave her a lovely fresh, organic cabbage from her garden so I thought it would be a great opportunity to make a cabbage soup inspired by Food to Glow’s Kellie’s Freekeh and Green Soup.

We didn’t have freekeh or quinoa (that’s what I used the first time I made the soup) so I gave it a more Italian twist by adding pasta and also a potato. My mum really liked it! actually everyone who has tried it so far has liked it :)

Cabbage Soup Ingredients

Cabbage Soup Ingredients

The picture above shows the ingredients I used in Italy.

As you can tell this soup is really healthy and can be a complete meal if you add some beans, lentils or chickpeas as a protein source. The spices Kellie recommends using give it a lovely fragrant flavour and a squeeze of lemon at the end make it really refreshing.

Cabbage soup inspired by Food to Glow

Cabbage Soup inspired by Food to Glow

 

One of the things I reaaaally wanted to have back home was pizza of course!

In order to have a sustainable vegan pizza all you have to do is order one with vegetables and ask them to avoid adding the cheese. Voilà!

Vegan Italian Pizza

Vegan Italian Pizza

It was sooo nice :) and while I was home I drank so much apricot juice too! Fortunately I discovered that a local shop stocks it here in London so I won’t have to overload on it each time I go home anymore :P

Another lovely dish I had was pasta with a creamy cannellini beans sauce my sister made.

The thing I liked about this is just how creamy it tasted. I’m not a fan of super-creamy sauces but this one was really nice.

Some may think that eating vegan food means giving up the pleasure to eat creamy textures, however this dish could prove them wrong.

It was velvety, satisfying and made by simply cooking garlic, organic rosemary from our village and a tin of cannellini beans in a little extra virgin olive oil. Once they had cooled down she whizzed them up, seasoned it all and added the pasta, garnishing with poppy seeds for extra flavour and crunch. Great!

Pennette with Creamy Cannellini Beans Sauce and Poppy Seeds

Pennette with Creamy Cannellini Beans Sauce and Poppy Seeds

 

One evening we had these beautiful mini peppers raw with some hoummous my sister made. Aren’t they lovely?

Small Fresh Pepper

 

It seems like even in Italy there are more dairy-free options, including for fresh cheese.

Valsoia Vegan Fresh Cheese

Valsoia Vegan Fresh Cheese

Valsoia is a brand that’s been around for years, I remember watching their ads when I was little “I say no to cholesterol, yes to Valsoia”!

It was pretty good and would be great in a sarnie! I tried it with organic corn cakes and freshly cracked pepper too.

Valsoia cheese with organic corn cakes

Valsoia cheese with organic corn cakes

 

Oh, and I ate all of my mum’s dark chocolate…

Lindt Dark Chocolate

 

~

Ever since I was little, simple pasta soup has been a staple soup at home.

One of those meals that are a quick dinner solution and are good for body and soul.

Tempestine Soup Pasta

Tempestine Soup Pasta

All you need is soup pasta, vegetable stock and a potato or two.

Soupette

Soupette

Ta-dah! Soupette! Which I guess in French it means little soup or perhaps simple soup.

Don’t be fooled by its humble look, it tastes amazing – especially with the comforting smoothness of the potatoes – , makes you feel good and could be complemented by a few handfuls of fresh spinach.

For my last night, my mum also made a cake, it was the first time she had baked a vegan lemon cake and it was wonderful.

Lemon Cake - Vegan

Lemon Cake – Vegan

Light. Fluffy. Lemony. Heavenly! I will have to ask her for the recipe :)

 

Last but not least, we had lunch together at our favourite Chinese restaurant. This place and its owner were one of the factors that inspired me to study Chinese, which led me to live in China for 10 months and become so passionate about the environment and sustainability.

Soy Noodles with Vegetables

Soy Noodles with Vegetables

My vegan option was soy noodles with vegetables, I just asked them not to add the prawns.

 

Going home proved that it’s entirely possible to eat sustainable food while being away. If you want to make a change, with a little research and language skills you can do it anywhere :)

Of course it was easier being at home, but even going out to eat was fine and I never felt like I was missing out on anything.

Writing this has made me hungry for more vegan food and hungry for new adventures! :)

 

Have you ever had the experience of going to someone’s home with certain requirements?

Have you tried new food or products because they were more eco-friendly?

Teapigs, Raw Nibbles and Topics for 2014

Hey everyone, a very Happy New Year to you!

I didn’t have much time off at Christmas but this time next week I will be in Italy seeing my mum, sister, nephew and friends for a week, I can’t complain! I will experiment eating vegan food in Italy, interesting!

How was Christmas for you?

In case you still have some Christmas cards around and you’d like to give them a new life, you could simply recycle them (many supermarkets have big bins especially for this) or even cut them into tags for next year – no waste needed :)

Christmas Tags Needn't Be Wasted

Christmas cards needn’t be wasted, turn them into tags for presents!

I haven’t really thought of any particular “resolution” this year, but I just want to make sure I am productive with things I care about, such as this blog :)

I tried to start off well this weekend: today I made vegetable stone soup stock with vegetable bits and bobs I had stored in the freezer, I made peanut butter and cinnamon granola inspired by Jack Monroe’s version and an organic vegan bean chilli. Oh and I made a body scrub too (I simply added sugar and almond oil to a jar – voilà!

Regarding the blog, I would like to talk more about tea, it is “Green Trail&Teapot Tales” after all! I just love tea so much :D

The other day I tasted a delicious tea – teapigs jasmine pearls tea.

Teapigs jasmine Pearls

Teapigs jasmine Pearls

 

Have you heard of this brand? I love the teapigs website as you can select a funny face according to what sort of mood you are in, how you’re feeling… and they will recommend the best tea for you! Feeling grumpy? Chocolate flake tea may make you feel better! A very cute idea :)

Their tea comes in really posh biodegradable bags that they call “temples” and the jasmine pearls Fujian province tea is amazingly fragrant, I think it would go particularly well with an oriental feast.

I know it may sound like I am advertising them, but actually I just wanted to share my discovery as it seems like a really good modern brand and their green credentials are good too.  Their temples feel like silk but they are actually made of corn starch, their packaging is made from sustainable sources and is recyclable and more…

As part of my good intentions to eat more sustainable, whole food I have been enjoying Raw Nibbles brownies, from the raw vegan treats company I wrote about in my previous post that my mum got me a voucher for.

These are raw and certainly taste less cakey than ordinary cooked brownies with flour, but they are filling and delectably butter thanks to the cacao butter. YUMMMMMMY.

Raw Nibbles Brownie

Raw Nibbles Brownie

If by any chance you do have new year’s resolutions and they include being healthier maybe you’d like to try some Raw Nibbles goodies!

Take the brownie for example: it’s made with dates, cacao butter, almonds, cacao powder, agave nectar, hazelnuts, coconut sugar and vanilla oil. Nothing else! No additives, chemicals, E numbers, fats, preservatives…just lovely goodness :)

Most of these ingredients are organic and all great quality, so you’re having a sustainable, tasty, nutritional treat! And supporting a small producer too.    :D

More Raw Nibbles Goodies

More Raw Nibbles Goodies

And I have more to enjoy :D

~

Yesterday I found out about this article via Twitter: Sustainable living: What should we write about in 2014?

You can write back to the Guardian and say what you’d like to see. So as the article says, what are you most interested in: articles regarding the usual issues such as pollution and eating less meat or more about human behaviour and its effects?

I though it was pretty cool for them to ask us what we think they should write about, I haven’t seen than anywhere else before.

Have a great week!

 

Do you have any projects and plans for this year?

Have you come across any interesting brands or companies lately?

Christmadness: How to Avoid Waste at Christmas

Hello! Are you feeling Christmassy yet? :)

DIY Christmas Jumper for Save The Children

DIY 3D Christmas Jumper for Save The Children charity day: Christmas decorations and safety pins :)

-On Friday we wore Christmassy jumpers at work for the Save the Children charity.

We all donated a minimum of £1 and had a bit of a tacky Christmas jumper competition. The donations will help buy mosquito nets, treat children and save lives, did you have a Christmas jumper day?

Rather than buying a cheaply made one from Primark and then not wearing it again and wasting it, I simply secured some of my Christmas decorations to my second hand jumper with safety pins! :)

You could also be a little craftier a make one with beads, pearls or glitter like what they did in this boohoo TV video!

~

Sorry about the long silence, I recently moved to NW London and it has taken me weeks to complete the move! I was waiting to sort that out before churning out new posts. I hope you are well :)

Christmas preparations have been simmering away since the end of October and we’re getting closer to the big day.

What is Christmas for you? I guess it can be a myriad of different things for each of us: a time to be kind, cheerful, celebrate, indulge, spend time with loved ones, a time to be generous…it’s all lovely but can be stressful and hectic too, hence the “Christmadness feeling” of having to get so much done.

Many of us will have some time off around Christmas and will be able to relax, sleep more and will be busy cooking, preparing, clearing, eating and perhaps thinking of all the things that have happened this year while looking forward to a prosperous new one.

Of course there is another side to Christmas: celebrations often come with the sort of  “more is more” mood and excess often means waste (of food, time, money, energy…).

Fortunately there are some very useful tools that can help wasting less and making the most of Christmas!

Avoid Food Waste

When I think of Christmas I think of food, and I am not the only one, right?

Here is the Love Food Hate Waste Advent Calendar (I know it’s a bit late but all the tips can still be useful now!)

This clever advent calendar has 24 tips that can help you avoid food waste this Christmas. Making room in the freezer, planning meals and portions, recipes to use up leftovers…have a look :)

If you want to try to eat more sustainably too, try to incorporate more seasonal and local vegetables and less meat in your Christmas menu, you can find delicious vegetarian and vegan Christmas recipes from:

+

How to store food safely to avoid wasting it – NHS guide

A sustainable tree

…Have you put a Christmas tree up? My friend R and I were talking about this the other day: what’s more eco-friendly, an artificial tree or a real one?

Artificial tree: built to last

Artificial tree: built to last

I said an artificial one, because you can use it for 20 years without cutting any trees, but R said a real one would be better as producing a fake one must use a lot of energy and chemicals. I did a little bit of research and found a popular eco-friendly option: potted Christmas trees!

Buying a potted Christmas tree from companies such as Clifton means you can have a real, live tree for several years (if you can keep it somewhere!) or you can even rent one from companies such as this U.S. one called Living Christmas Company or from the Little Tree Company in the U.K. – isn’t that great? You get to have a real tree for Christmas, with its lovely resiny scent and know it won’t be disgracefully left on the pavement in January.

More information on the artificial/real tree debate is provided on this Friends of the Earth page full of eco-friendly tips. You could get a tree from Freecycle or eBay or purchase a real one from a Soil Association-approved company and why not try energy-saving LED Christmas lights which use a fraction of the electricity?

Sustainable gifts

One of the aspects of Christmas I don’t like is that daunting feeling of having to buy presents for people. People you may not see very often, who you may not know well…gifts that end up being generic, bulky -a foot SPA that you will never have time to use, anyone? – probably unnecessary, unwanted and ultimately wasted.

It really upsets me that so many gifts we end up buying are a waste of time, money and energy…what happened to writing Christmas lists?

We are all so busy nowadays that it is pretty hard to know exactly what someone may desire or need (there are only so many pashminas a lady may need, trust me!)…but a Christmas list can help! :) It may be less of a surprise but buying something your loved ones need can make them happier and avoid your gifts from becoming desolate dust-gatherers.

Candles are pretty...but maybe we can buy something a little more useful ;)

Candles are pretty…but maybe we can buy something a little more useful :P

There are more interesting tips on the F.O.E. website to make your Christmas sustainable with homemade gifts – if you can, have a look at these lovely vegan ones posted by Poppy-, and sustainable gift wrapping: I will either be using recycled wrapping paper (paper I saved from previous occasions and put aside for the next occasion), newspaper with colourful ribbons or I will be wrapping gifts in colourful cloth or scarves that can be kept as a gift too.

Recycling all the paper after being used will prevent it from going to landfill and give it another life (and can possibly make you feel like a superhero!).

Sustainable Gift Ideas

  • Organic, vegan, fair trade food is more sustainable, needs less energy to be produced and is fairer to the producers, so if you know a keen cook you could put together a lovely hamper of food goodies or purchase one such as these Organic Green&Black’s ones
Delivery Time!

Delivery Time!

Organic Goodies

Organic Goodies

A few birthdays ago my mum got me this amazing food delivery for my birthday, it was a great present! It had lots of organic goodies I would not have bought myself, tons of amazing sun dried tomatoes and it was simply a treat! I made a lovely Sunday lunch the day after with all those vegetables :)

  • Chocolate – if in doubt, buy chocolate! Soph at Raw Nibbles makes sustainable raw, vegan, organic  and refined sugar-free chocolate and other treats in England – so healthy you will be able to enjoy them even during a January diet! They have 10% off orders over £25 in December too :)
  • Vouchers: people often moan about not having enough room and space where they live, so instead of a (potentially dust-gathering) gift, you could get them a voucher for their favourite shop or restaurant to look forward to using during the “January blues” period
  • Buy from sustainable companies, such as Lush – I got this amazing Lush gift box last year and it had lovely vegan freshly handmade cosmetics such as Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner which smells so utterly delicious you’ll be tempted to eat it!
Lush Xmas Goodies

Lush Xmas Goodies

Lush only make vegetarian and vegan cosmetics, fight against animal testing and use as little chemicals as possible – they have something for everyone!

  • Natural Collection is a website full of more sustainable gift ideas, from food to garden and beauty products
  • National Geographic Magazine: you could purchase an all-year round gift such as a magazine subscription for National Geographic, which can only inspire to love our planet more
  • Adopt an animal – that would be another great gift, especially for a child! You can do so with WWF
  • Nigel’s Eco Store has gift ideas to make you save energy such as solar-powered lights and waste less with reusable coffee take-away cups
  • Etsy – “Etsy is a marketplace where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods.  Etsy is proud to be a certified B Corporation — a new kind of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.  – Have a look to find all sorts of clothes, crockery, jewellery made by small producers.

Borrow more, spend less

If you need extra chairs, beds, lights, try to borrow them from friends, family or use Freecycle, Streetbank or Ecomodo to source them, you will save money and avoid having to get rid of all these things once the holidays are over.

Are you looking forward to Christmas?

How do you enjoy spending it?