Hey friends – it’s sustainability talk time! I’m really excited to share some easy, accessible changes to become an eco-conscious superhero.
If you’ve been around this space for any length of time, you know I feel strongly about sustainability. But I’m also a realist. And I know that most of us don’t have time to recycle rainwater, raise chickens or turn all their food scraps into vegetable broth every Sunday. Including myself.
I’ll be releasing a 30-day zero-waste challenge that takes you through a whole month of daily sustainable actions that don’t cost a lot, take a lot of time or are restricted to certain geographical areas in April. Want in? You can sign up to my newsletter and get it sent straight to your inbox!
To me, becoming more eco-conscious has to be:
flexible – if I mess up one day, I don’t want to feel like a complete failure
attainable – I need to feel like my lifestyle can practically accommodate any changes
interesting – I need to feel engaged and motivated to carry on
I have a job and I live in a shared house, which often translates in having to find time-efficient solutions that aren’t going to drive me crazy (like trying to figure who put a dirty can of beans in the recycling bin), and not getting caught up in feeling that I’ve got to change everything.
It’s easy to feel discouraged looking at instagram feeds and other sources of zero waste inspiration. It’s awesome that it’s gaining more traction, but less awesome that it’s becoming a bit of a commercial thing, with all those fancy containers and soaps.
With all that being said, there is so much you can do, day in, day out, that’s really low effort upfront with big payoffs for the environment. And I’ve put together a handy list which might inspire you to lead a greener life!
You can download the infographic, print it out, stick it on your fridge or save the image on Pinterest!
A recipe that tastes phenomenal regardless of which vegetables are in season
A saucy dish that pairs well with any type of grain, noodle or flatbread
A magic sauce that’s basically as versatile as a curry paste
Well, then I’ve got the recipe for you. This tofu satay is zesty, mild, #healthyAF and achievable for the most beginner of cooks. You need practically zero knife skills, and a cheap blender will do the trick (and some pots and pans, obviously!).
I like this take on satay because it isn’t sweet and even the smallest of corner supermarkets will have what you need. Traditionally, satay sauce is made with brown sugar and is fairly complex on the ingredient front. There are lots of shortcuts you can take, which honestly don’t compromise on flavor at all. This is far from being a traditional version – the addition of coriander gives it a green color and fresh ginger a nice bite.
If you don’t have whole peanuts, peanut butter works too. If you don’t have fresh ginger or garlic, ground will work too. If you don’t have fresh chillies, dried will work too. But the sauce has an extra degree of magic if you use fresh ingredients.
The real magic of this recipe is that you can use any vegetable that’s in season. In the winter, you can use carrots, pumpkin or mushrooms. In the spring and summer, you can use courgette, aubergine or cauliflower.
When it comes to protein, this magic sauce will also work beautifully with chicken or prawns, chickpeas or a chicken alternative. I paired mine with tofu for a vegan-friendly option – if you choose tofu, a firm kind will work best. If you’re a fan of crispy, crispy tofu, I’d recommend shallow frying it ahead of time until all sides are crisp.
makes 2-3 servings, depending on how hungry you are!
For the sauce:
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (unpeeled), quartered
2 big cloves of garlic
1 handful of peanuts (about 1/2 cup)
1 handful fresh coriander leaves, with stalks
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon miso
1/2 red chilli
1/4 to 1/2 cup of water
For the rest:
2 servings of your favorite vegetables, e.g. 1/2 head of broccoli, 1/2 aubergine, 5 large mushrooms…
1 block tofu, 1 tin chickpeas, 2 chicken breasts or other protein of choice
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
your favorite cooked grain (I had wild rice)
spoonful of coconut yoghurt
sprig of coriander
Heat the toasted sesame oil on medium heat and cook your protein along with your vegetable for at least 10 minutes to allow the vegetables to break down and the protein to cook on all sides. If you are cooking tofu ahead of time, cook the vegetables separately and add tofu at the end.
In the meantime, make the sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a blender cup (I used a nutribullet) and blitz until thick and slightly textured. Add more water if necessary – it should have the consistency of a thick pesto.
Once the vegetables have reduced, add the sauce to your pan and cook for 10-15 minutes. This will cook out the raw garlic and help the sauce thicken up. Feel free to thin out the sauce using water or coconut milk/yoghurt at this point to prevent it from sticking.
Serve with a side of grain, some extra steamed vegetables, a dollop of yoghurt and enjoy!
This recipe will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze. Best enjoyed within a 2-day window in my opinion!
I made this recipe in collaboration with FoodSpace; a website which allows you to save recipes, create shopping lists and links to your instacart account for a super streamlined experience! Check them out here: https://www.foodspaceapp.com
I’ve dabbled in and out of veganism for a few years now, experimenting with varying degrees of vegetarianism, and this year, I figure I would take it to the next level.
People go vegan for lots of different reasons. Because of animal cruelty, because of health reasons, because of the environmental impact… I feel personally more connected to the ecological effect of the meat and dairy industry, and I tried to stay as eco-conscious as possible throughout the month.
It’s been a fun month! A challenging and sometimes difficult experience – but I pulled through, despite the odd slip! So I thought I’d share my experience after my first full veganuary!
I relied almost entirely on a Chinese restaurant, a Lebanese deli and an Italian restaurant that had vegan cheese…
…which covered most lunch emergencies and impromptu dinner dates throughout the month. Adapting a pizza was easy – I ordered vegetarian pizzas with vegan cheese or the vegan special, since lots of places were on board with veganuary (like Franco Manca in the UK). I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly sure whether the Lebanese falafel wrap had dairy or not. I also did my best at Chinese restaurants with vegetable dishes and boiled rice, and vegan ramen from Shoryu.
If you can find a handful of places you know you’ll enjoy ordering from, it makes decisions much easier when you’re faced with the menu. Asian cuisine is easy to adapt (but watch out for ghee in Indian food!), whereas French is much harder for example.
I didn’t always eat the healthiest things, but by lack of choice
It’s true, you can be a total junk food vegan. You can find burgers, nuggets, cheese, pizza, deep fried vegetables and ice cream… I didn’t really indulge in a lot of processed vegan food because I was trying to limit my carbon footprint and ate mostly home made dishes.
But at times, I really didn’t have a lot of choice, and when I struggled finding something to eat, I often ended up buying crisps, bread and ordering French fries. So just to make clear that when something is vegan, it isn’t necessarily ‘healthier’, whatever that even means.
That being said, I wasn’t obsessed about eating entirely ‘clean’. I don’t think I could have managed an entire month without treating myself and I definitely indulged in lots of pizza!
I majorly f* up at a work conference
I had a couple of trips planned for work and it was really, really hard. A three day work conference in a super nice hotel, buffet lunches and sit-down dinners really limited my choices. On the first day, I ate bread and leaves for lunch. I was so ravenous by dinner time (a whole 9 hours later!) that I ate an entire cheese and ham quiche. Oops.
And you know what? That’s fine. Part of the experience is to understand your habits and challenge them. No one is expecting you to starve to death if you can’t find anything to eat. The important part for me was the ability to bounce back and carry on when I got home.
Moving forward, I think it’d be very difficult to maintain an entirely vegan diet – purely for my sanity!
I saved lots of money, but that’s not always the way it goes
I think it’s a common misconception that vegan = cheaper. I think it depends. I ate a lot of locally grown vegetables from the market, fresh bread from the baker, oats, hummus and lentils (all cheap). But if you’re looking to replace your yoghurt, cheese, meat and chocolate with their vegan equivalents, it can get really expensive. So just watch out and keep track of your spending if you’re trying to maintain your existing food budget.
Cheap vegan food is generally not processed; canned beans, grains, plain tofu etc. I spent more money on specialty items to keep things interesting, like spices, sauces and the occasional wedge of Prosiciano.
I didn’t eat a lot of protein, and I felt fine
You guessed it – I got lots of questions about protein. And like I mentioned, there are lots of protein alternatives now. But I’ll admit I didn’t have that much protein, and maybe in the long term, it would be an issue. I ate lots of low fat hummus, some tofu and edamame, but mostly, I ate carbs.
I don’t think there are as many excuses as there used to be not to try veganism, but it’s useful to understand what macronutrient combination works best for you. If you know a higher protein works for you, you should honour your personal needs instead of following what some high-carb vegan is eating on instagram. There are lots of delicious vegan meat alternatives out there, like Quorn, tofurky, flavored tofu, Beyond Meat and generic meat alternatives from the supermarkets.
It’s super hard if you have an intolerance, too
This was the hardest part for me – not being able to meat, dairy and fructose. No sweet potato. No tomato. No root vegetables. No ketchup. No sweet chilli sauce or butternut squash or vegan desserts. That makes veganism a lot more restrictive!
It was especially hard at buffets and events, where the only option might be a roasted vegetable dish which I couldn’t have. Eating out for breakfast was also quite difficult, since I couldn’t have fruit or chia puddings or the toppings on oatmeal. Agreed – it’s not the end of the world. So I decided not to drive myself insane and stay flexible. If that meant having chicken instead of nothing, I had chicken. Fortunately, it only happened a couple of times.
I didn’t miss meat, but I missed eggs
I actually can’t remember the last time I cooked meat since I moved to Oxford in December. I’ve had chicken in wraps and fish at restaurants, but I had essentially already stopped cooking meat and fish at home. But I used to get half a dozen eggs from the market every Sunday, which I did kind of miss.
Eggs are cheap, and probably not as terrible for the environment as a piece of steak, especially if from a local farm. Eggs are also really delicious and much harder to replace in my opinion – how does one make a vegan poached egg without spending multiple hours creating a fake egg? It’s not possible. So – I’m very likely to reintroduce eggs!
Regardless of slipping up a couple of times and having some dull moments munching on dry bread, I really enjoyed challenging myself. I had fun, cooked a lot more, had interesting conversations with curious friends, and saved money! And really – it’s not as hard as it sounds.
A while ago, I wrote a post about how to make the best gut healing oatmeal and, believe it or not, it’s the most popular post on the BARE. blog! I guess there are lots of oat lovers out there, just like me.
Things have changed a little since then, and I’ve experimented with way more combos (and so have many food bloggers). Oats are here to stay: they’re cheap, filling and super versatile. I’ve experimented with soaking and making my morning porridge even more digestible. I’ve made savoury porridge. And all the while, I’ve been finding ways to make oats a sustainable and planet friendly dish.
Oats are really fabulous if you live somewhere wet (check) and dreary in the winter months, where not much produce is grown (check). It’s also great if you’re vegan/vegetarian (almost check!) and like a bargain (check). And well – oats are recommended by many heart and diabetes associations, as well as being routinely recommended to boost fibre intake. In conclusion, we should all be consuming oats.
So, whether you already enjoyed my previous post or not, here are 5 further ways to supercharge your oats and be even kinder to your body and the planet!
soak overnight with lemon juice
Well it wouldn’t be my blog if we weren’t talking about good ol’ digestion. Oats are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre. The former absorbs water and lubricates your digestive tract, whereas the latter adds bulk and speed. In other words, you should be expecting better digestion. However, if you’re prone to bloating, there’s more you can do: soaking. It’s really simple – just add 2 parts liquid (water or milk!) and 1 part oats to a bowl and soak in the fridge overnight. You can add chia seeds for an extra fibre boost. And adding a squeeze of lemon before soaking reduces the amount of phytic acid in the oats, which may prevent your body from producing digestive enzymes. Some people claim it helps with bioavailability.
Global warming is the phrase on everyone’s lips these days. The trendy buzzword that’s both convincing us the end is near and inspiring us to reduce the waste we produce to just a jarful.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about waste reduction and generally saving the planet (#GreenGoals) when she suddenly asked “But what is your carbon footprint actually defined by?” and, well… I couldn’t answer. I know that our lifestyles are unsustainable given the planet’s current resources. And I’ve taken the online test that told me we’d need 3 planets if we all lived like me (ouch). But I couldn’t tell you how it’s actually measured. And isn’t the first step to reducing our carbon footprint actually understanding its components?
I figured; if I’m confused, I can’t be the only one! So here you have it; your no-nonsense guide to what ‘carbon footprint’ really means. You’re all set to confront the awkward Christmas dinner questions.
Hey team. It’s almost winter. And warm breads and pastries straight out of the oven sound so good right now.
Which is why my mum and I made this quinoa and buckwheat bread. My mum used to make this killer potato and feta bread from Delia Smith, and it’s freaking delicious, but I felt like something a little less potato-ey, y’feel me?
Buckwheat flour is super versatile and very affordable. It doesn’t give that weird spongyness that you get from ‘all purpose’ gluten free flours, which usually contain rice flour and various gums. And quinoa provides a nice chewy texture, just like potato. Add an egg, bake for 50 minutes (I know, it’s a while), and you’ve got yourself a fresh, fibre rich loaf. It was gone within minutes.
We added walnuts, red onion, rosemary and a few lonely olives we found in the fridge. If you eat cheese, feta or goat’s cheese would work a dream, with a drizzle of honey. This recipe has endless possibilities. Make it sweet with some chocolate chips or honey and a handful of oats!
Our fridge was stocked with an abundance of cheese, which would be the perfect complement to this bread, but hummus or smashed avocado would be delicious, too.
eco-conscious pointers for this recipe:
try to find local quinoa; I’ve seen English quinoa in health food stores before
try to use eggs from a local farm or market; they’re so much nicer, trust me
we used walnuts and olives because that’s what we had on hand. This bread is a great topportunity to use odd scraps of food, so go wild and empty your fridge!
we cooked a double batch of quinoa so we would have leftovers for the week, which means less electricity used for our next quinoa-based meals
this bread is a great side to lots of dishes, so if you’re roasting something, bake them both at the same time
75 gr dry quinoa
175 gr buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk of choice (we used oat)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 handful olives (about 10)
1 red onion, sliced
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 handful walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
Cook quinoa according to instructions until well cooked (we went for about 18 min) and drain under cold water to cool down
Mix quinoa, baking powder, flour, egg, milk, mustard, salt and pepper by hand until just combined. This is a sticky bread so don’t worry too much about it not holding together smoothly. It’s lumpy and that’s how it should be!
Add in olives, chopped onions, rosemary, walnuts and anything else you want to add (feta, seeds, sundried tomatoes…) and combine.
Before you run to wash your sticky hands, transfer to a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. We topped ours with the remainder of the onions and walnuts.
Shape into a flat-ish loaf. This bread won’t rise much, so its shape depends on your preference. If you like slim slices, flatten it more, almost like a focaccia, like we did. Make sure it si evenly spread to ensure even baking.
Bake into a preheated oven (170C, fan) for 50 minutes.
You could let it cool before eating but where’s the fun in that? We sliced ours straight away and enjoyed with delicious Prosciutto Cotto.
I travelled to 5 different cities in the last month, across two continents, and didn’t really have a home to return to. Say whaaaat?!
First of all I’m not quite sure how I’ve kept going for this long. I’m a creature of habit and routine, and the slightest thing can really throw me off. I get kind of anxious and don’t feel my best when I don’t have access to either a yoga mat, porridge or a comfortable bed. You feel me?
Routine is a powerful tool for me; for my health (physical and mental), and to live in alignment with my values of sustainability and waste reduction. But you know how it goes; you go on a trip, you don’t have a kitchen or enough space for a yoga mat, and you end up neglecting everything that matters. You reach for the gross supermarket salads and plastic-wrapped deli bagels out of convenience, and your routine gets thrown out the window.
If you’ve been planning your dream trip to Italy for years and can’t wait to eat all the gelato and pizza, by all means, knock yourself out. But if you’re on the move for work, a transitional period in your life or feel it’s important to stay as well-functioning as possible without having access to your daily comforts, I’ve got you covered.
If you’ve hung out with me for any length of time (read: had coffee with me), you know my love for oat milk cappuccinos runs deep. And if you’ve read the news over this past summer, you might have seen that Oatly, the numer one oat milk supplier in the UK, is struggling to meet demand in the US since it came to market! There were a couple of places I visited in California that had run out of the stuff this summer (which of course, was devastating).
I’m super excited oat milk is so becoming so popular. I think every coffee shop should offer it, everyone should have it in their fridge and consider buying shares in Oatly. If I haven’t convinced you yet with the gorgeous latte art, read on!
1- It tastes so damn good
Well, no surprises here. I wouldn’t drink it every single day if it weren’t amazing. It offers a subtle sweetness (without any added sugars!), a smooth mouthfeel, and is very mild in taste, almost neutral, with a slight acidity. Dairy alternatives have been around for a while, now, and are certainly getting more out there (macadamia, hemp, pea protein…?), which are kind of hit and miss taste-wise. If you like oats, you’ll like oat milk. With porridge, it’s the dream, but also with granola or a cookie!
Almonds are incredible. Almond milk can also be incredible. But almonds require so much waterto grow. One litre of almond milk takes roughly 6000L of water to produce. That’s 5L per almond. ONE ALMOND. That’s 6 times as much as it takes to grow oats. Oats grow in abundance in Northern Europe, and Brits love their porridge – it makes so much sense to me to be consuming milk from our large European oat supply (Swedish, in Oatly’s case) than scarce and water-intensive California almonds.
3- And it’s more sustainable than cow’s milk
Cheese is truly phenomenal, and nothing compares to some shaved parmesan on a bowl of spaghetti. That being said, an astonishing amount of milk is consumed worldwide, and it turns out it isn’t super planet-friendly, either. According to Oatly, greenhouse gas emissions from oat drinks are just one third of those generated in the production of cow’s milk, and milk consumption is expected to rise by 65% in the next 30 years – a huge strain on the environment! That means less pesticides, too!
4- But it behaves like cow’s milk
What I hate about soy and almond milk is that the cappuccino froth is super disappointing. It either clumps up to become tofu (yikes) or is so flat it disappears into your coffee. Oat milk is where it’s at. It’s super stable, transforms into a beautiful silky froth and allows extra beautiful latte art. In fact, I’ve often had to double check it was actually oat milk (and not cow’s) because it looks so convincing. In intelligentsia’s CEO’s words, Oatly is ‘like a blank canvas’.
5- Oats are versatile af
Oatly has diversified since it launched (a whole 25 years ago!); oat cream, oat crème fraiche, oat chocolate milk, and many more to come, I’m sure (their skimmed and semi-skimmed line launched recently!). You can make a latte, and iced latte, a béchamel, a milkshake, a smoothie, a quiche… literally anything. You could even bathe in it if you really wanted to, I bet your skin would be mega smooth (in fact, here’s how).
More pro tips:
Dairy free? Although the organic Oatly milk is just as tasty as the original, it isn’t fortified in calcium. If you’ve cut out most dairy like I have, make sure you’re meeting your calcium needs!
Price conscious? I get my milk in bulk, in a 6-pack, from amazon here!
Sacramento is definitely under the radar. With its excellent coffee scene, many yoga studios, easy connections to the Bay area and ‘farm-to-fork capital’ status, I really appreciated the convenience of living there this past summer!
That being said, with Mexicans and breweries on every street corner, it’s not always been easy to make healthy choices. Over the past 4 months, I’ve really searched for the most health-friendly spots in the city. If you’re like me and will hunt down the best avocado toast and oat milk latte wherever you’re visiting, this post is for you. I still fully encourage you to enjoy some of the city’s best pizza and ice-cream. Because life (and especially travelling!) isn’t about being restrictive. And rest assured, I’ve certainly had my share of taco plates, pizza and indulgent brunches during my time here (and yep, my jeans are feeling a little tight!)
You can find my top Sacramento finds on my public yelp list here!
For a nice, light, italian-inspired weekday lunch or dinner, head to OBO’. They have a great deli salad selection for lunch that is not to be missed! I also really like their evening entrees; yes, there’s pizza and the like, but the portions are very reasonable and often packed with vegetables and interesting grains. It’s a little harder to navigate if you’re 100% dairy-free (hello cheese) but if you’re just looking for a fresh alternative to your average italian, this is your spot!
Ethiopian and Indian food are always great options for vegans and vegetarians in my opinion, and tend to offer dishes with lots of vegetables, less dairy and plenty of pulses and whole grains. Queen Sheba and Bombay are two local favourites. I really fell in love with the Ethiopian injera, which is much lighter than naan bread. Make sure you order the spicy red lentils. Bombai does a mean vegan dhal, too!
Ah, the daily grind. Isn’t it just so easy to slip into it? You wake up, brush your teeth (hopefully), make coffee, get on the bus, work, get on the bus, workout, make dinner… And so it goes, day in, day out.
I’m a huge advocate for adding variety to your life. Whether it’s through diet, exercise, socialising, nail colour… But sometimes, even changing up your morning coffee order isn’t enough to make you feel alive. And then you are faced with those days you just want to pack a suitcase and genuinely escape.
Reading is a powerful practice. It’s been a pretty uncertain and unsettling time in the history of our world, and many of us are in search of a deeper meaning. And think about it, when was the last time a book completely blew your mind? Wouldn’t you like to feel that way again? So consumed by a story you couldn’t put the book down, or stop think about it?
This year, I made it my resolution to read at least one book a month. For someone who often finds themselves on instagram instead of reaching for my bedside read, I’ve done pretty well. [I’ve read 10 books, and we’re in September!] And the best reads were those that made me forget who and where I was, or reminded me how amazing life can be, or taught me a valuable concept that I could apply to my life. They’ve all left a lasting impression, and changed the way I see the world.
I love a good book recommendation, so I thought I’d put together a list of my own favourites. I would love love love for you to contribute and drop your own favourites in the comments!
1. when breath becomes air, Paul Kalanithi
Well this was an emotional read. If you’re in the mood for a dramatic introspection and exploring the journey of life and death through the eyes of a neurosurgeon turned terminal cancer patient, this one’s for you. I marvelled, I smiled, and yes, I even cried a little bit. A great reminder that life is beautiful but fleeting, and that science and faith are not polar opposites.
Read when: you’re experiencing change in your life, or are trying to find meaning to your life. It was also a great plane read, although make sure you bring along some tissues!