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?

Being Vegan on a Trip to Gothenburg

This time last week my Canadian friends N and C and I were in Gothenburg, Sweden!

It was a spontaneous trip, booked after N found some really affordable flights to the city and we were there from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon. So I thought it would be nice to add a few lines of my experience being vegan in a new place, in addition to my previous trips to Normandy and Florida.

As we were there for a short time we didn’t have a plan on where to go when, we just visited the town and decided what to do randomly and ate anywhere. If you are vegetarian, vegan or craving a sustainable option you can find the best places to go to on the Happy Cow website. :)

Approaching Sweden!

Approaching Sweden!

We had to get up really early (3AM!) and got breakfast at the airport, and by the time we got to Gothenburg’s city centre we were hungry again.

Breakfast and lunch salads

Breakfast and lunch salads

Before leaving I had the superfood salad from Pret A Manger (it seems to be my pre-trip staple!) with tropical green tea, and in Gothenburg N&C fancied Starbucks so I had their Falafel and cous cous salad with some sort of coffee (I never go to Starbucks and it always takes me 4 minutes to choose something to drink) with soy milk, topped with an island of cinnamon. :P

We walked around the indoor market hall of Saluhallen where there were lovely stalls with beautiful food displayed…

Lovely food at the Market Hall

Lovely food at the Market Hall

…and I got a very crispy flatbread sort of cracker full of seeds, including aromatic fennel seeds, which was vegan.

Crispy bread from the market

Crispy bread from the market

In the afternoon we met up with C’s relative, a lovely and interesting Swedish lady who took us out to an Italian restaurant (we couldn’t find many Swedish restaurants that weren’t fully booked or during serving hours) and I had a lovely pizza made vegan by not adding cheese.

Vegan vegetable pizza

Vegan vegetable pizza

She also took us to a park that had a greenhouse which was like a mini-Kew Gardens building.

Inside the greenhouse

Inside the greenhouse

In the morning, the hostel we were staying at provided breakfast options such as bread and cold meats, yogurt, cereals, and I prepared an unusual one for myself…

Vegan breakfast

Vegan breakfast

…seems like I am developing a habit of having salad and raw vegetables for breakfast :D

In the afternoon we strolled around the Old Town part of Gothenburg where the street was busy with people selling and buying second-hand objects, it was like a car boot sale but simply in the street.

The Old Town

The Old Town

Later on we hired bikes and cycled along the river docks and around the town, it was great, I hadn’t cycled in years!

It seems like cycling is really popular there and even though it is in London too, and people are encouraged to ride bikes everywhere, I felt like it was better in Gothenburg as there were bicycle routes almost all the way and many other cyclists were riding safely with us.

Have a look at the super-cool infographic on bike sharing I have added below for more info on renting bikes in several European cities.

Cycling!!

Cycling along the Göta älv

After our ride we were hungry so we went to our hotel’s restaurant, which unsurprisingly didn’t have a vegetarian option, never mind a vegan one, however the lady who served us spoke perfect English (everyone does in Sweden!) and knew which vegan options I could have.

Chips and salad - the ultimate vegan emergency meal ;)

Chips and salad – the ultimate vegan emergency meal ;)

Chips and salad of course! :P Simple but actually really nice.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in Sweden and didn’t manage to go to Stockholm as originally planned but I really enjoyed our trip and hope to visit more of Europe in general. Travelling is so inspiring!

In Sweden, sustainability is an important topic and people are aware of the benefits that buying organic products have on the environment, from food to clothing, such as global retailer H&M’s conscious collections and recycling initiatives. I also saw many wind power plants from the plane, which shows they are committed to produce clean, renewable energy.

I would also love to learn more about the Swedish-style modular super energy-efficient homes.

If you are also interested in learning more about sustainability-related facts happening in Sweden I cannot recommend Janina’s Food (policy) for thought blog enough! :)

Have you ever travelled somewhere and hired a bike? I enjoyed it a lot and definitely recommend it! You get to see more, you exercise, you have fun and you do not pollute :)

So here is the really useful infographic on bike sharing for London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Nice kindly sent to me from C at Momondo full of interesting info:

 

Bike-sharing-infographic

Bike Sharing Infographic

 

Time to explore! :)

 

Do you get inspired when you travel?

Are there any cities or countries you would like to visit for their commitment to sustainability?

Organic September and Chinese-Style French Beans

Hello everyone, today is the first day of Autumn! :)

Many bloggers have been writing about feeling “Autumnal” since the end of August, but I am only starting to feel like that now, also because for the past few days it’s been quite warm here…

But, if you are feeling the chilly weather and thinking of sorting out your wardrobe and bringing out all the A/W clothing, don’t forget that it’s easy to dispose of clothes you don’t want anymore sustainably, as you can:

We’ve been having Summer vegetables that are still in season as much as possible: groovy grilled aubergines, fried&steamed broccoli, crunchy carrots, fresh chillies, grilled courgettes, cucumbers in salads, frightfully addictive French beans, garlic, lettuce, sweet mangetout, onions, organic potatoes, Spring onions, tomatoes… and yesterday I got some newly seasonal sweetcorn and butternut squash too.

Graffiti Aubergine

Pretty Graffiti Aubergine

I have been grilling vegetables until soft and caramelised to have in seasonal salads too :)

Grilled Organic Spring Onions, Courgettes and Aubergines

Grilled Organic Spring Onions, Courgettes and Aubergines

At the supermarket, organic vegetables have a “Celebrate Organic September” sticker on them at the moment, this is an initiative launched by the Soil Association to encourage us to make small changes  and a big difference by choosing organic products.

Just a few days ago I saw this picture on Janina’s Food (Policy) for Thought blog:

Organic Makes a Difference

Organic Makes a Difference

This is what I like to encourage when I buy organic food.

Some may think organic is “double the price, and not better than the rest anyway!” but what they forget is that organic means without pesticides which are harmful for you, for children and which pollute soil and water (and fortunately organic food is not often as much as double the price!).

I bought a few organic vegetables such as potatoes and peppers, especially because they are part of the “Dirty Dozen” fruit and vegetables which contain the most residual pesticides and chemicals in them and really worth buying organic whenever possible.

Organic, seasonal and reduced in price

Organic, seasonal and reduced up to half the price

Organic, pesticide-free peppers

Organic, pesticide-free peppers

Peppers sold individually are usually 80p or 90p, so £1.85 for 2 organic peppers wasn’t far off.

Organic Butternut Squash and UK Potatoes

Organic Butternut Squash and UK Potatoes

The organic butternut squash was £1 down from £1.49 and so the same price as non-organic ones.

The organic potatoes were £1.57 per kg, so slightly more expensive than some types of potato but not as expensive as others either.

I had those lovely organic tomatoes, together with some orange ones, for a bruschetta with our amazing fresh basil.

Organic and orange tomato bruschetta

Organic and orange tomato bruschetta

Last night we enjoyed a couple of Wild Berry Rekorderlig ciders, they are so delicious!!

Wild Berry Rekorderlig

Wild Berry Rekorderlig – vegan

My boyfriend made us some lovely corn on the cob to have with them, he simply cooked the corn a few minutes in the microwave then blistered it directly on the hob to give it a smoky flavour and an added crunch, then added chilli flakes and salt on the plate, WOW!!!

Seasonal Corn on the Cob

Seasonal Corn on the Cob

Then it was time for home-made fresh organic rosemary, garlic and chilli crisps with a balsamic vinegar and fresh garlic dip!

Home-made organic crisps

Home-made organic crisps

And today, he made a fragrant and surprisingly creamy vegan soup.

Creamy and velvety seasonal vegan soup

Creamy and velvety seasonal vegan soup

He made this soup by softening organic potatoes, carrots, French beans, an onion, garlic, garam masala and chilli for a few minutes. Then he added them to a pan with organic stock in it, cooked them through and blended them. He added more chopped garlic and peppers for added crunch and texture and garnished it with sliced organic peppers and some of our fresh parsley.

It was warming, spicy and extremely tasty, especially with all the aromas from the garam masala. I tend to prefer chunky soups but this was really lovely and look forward to having some more soon!

I hope showing you what we’ve been enjoying can inspire you, and show that it can be easy and not expensive to eat more sustainably and following the seasons, plus all of these vegetables are so healthy!

I would also like to share a very quick recipe to make French beans in about…8 minutes or so.

I first came across and tried this recipe when I was 18, so about 7 years ago, on my Italian Chinese cuisine book.

It uses few ingredients and does not involve any boiling to death.

Only using a little oil, the French beans (or dwarf beans) are quickly stir-fried, softened, made crispy by the medium-high flame and retain their refreshing crispness and crunch. The garlic and sesame oil give them an amazing taste, the soy sauce seasons them and the chilli gives them a pleasant warmth and kick.

You can make them with the honey or without, for a vegan version. I have been making them regularly with no honey and I must say I don’t miss it, the main flavour comes from the rest of the ingredients, the honey would add a bit of sticky sweetness.

These are absolutely amazing, I can’t really describe how much I adore them. Great servedwith rice and crispy tofu.

You could experiment with this quick-cooking method and add different spices too, or use other vegetables such as Brussels sprouts.

Chinese-style French beans ingredients

Chinese-style French beans ingredients

Stir-fried French Beans – serves 4

Ingredients

  • 450g French beans
  • 1 or 2 fresh chillies, chopped
  • 2tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2tsp honey (optional)
  • 1tsp sesame oil

-Prepare the beans by taking the tips off and cutting them in half or bite-size length;

Prepare the French beans

Prepare the French beans

-Heat the oil in a pan until very hot, add the beans and cook on a medium-high heat for 3 minutes;

-add the chillies and the garlic and cook for a minute;

-Add the soy sauce, the honey if you are using it and the sesame oil;

-Cook for another 2 minutes to let the fragrant flavours mingle and serve.

Crunchy Crispy Chinese French Beans

Crunchy Crispy Chinese French Beans

Do you buy any organic vegetables? Which ones?

Are you looking forward to Autumn?