August is the best month for spending time making salad. So much fresh produce to use, form ripe tomatoes to herbs, lettuce and hot radishes.
But what to do with all your gorgeously ripe vegetables? A solid pasta salad, that’s what.
Pasta salad is literally the answer to every summer mealtime question – what to eat for lunch at the office? Pasta salad. What to eat on a busy Saturday? Pasta salad. What to bring to your friend’s barbecue? You guessed it.
Germany ranks high on the eco-conscious ladder, from promoting eco-design to penalties for not following home recycling rules, and is in fact Europe’s greenest city. As an eco-conscious consumer, travel can become limiting. All those plane miles can really start adding up to your carbon footprint, not to mention the consumerist behavior we often engage in when abroad (think buying crappy souvenirs, getting sucked into convenience food and drinks, or overusing uber!).
Enter, Berlin! Berlin is a fantastic destination for your next eco-conscious city break. It’s exciting and diverse, with lots of things to do for history buffs, foodies and eco-geeks alike.
I don’t think my 3-day trip to Berlin even scratched the surface of everything the city has to offer, but it’s a great place for a laid-back break. It isn’t crazy busy once you start venturing into neighborhoods, and I found it a great place to stroll around in the shade of the city’s many trees, stop for coffee and travel ‘slow’. I posted more of my everyday adventures on instagram; don’t forget to follow me on there too!
drink & buy coffee at THE BARN
For excellent coffee, I couldn’t recommend THE BARN enough. THE BARN has several locations in Berlin – the roastery doubling up as their distribution centre, so expect a more industrial atmosphere than their other commercial locations. The space itself is extremely minimal. The whirring of the roasting behind you, sipping your coffee from a mason jar sat on a wooden box… it has its charm.
The inherent nature of coffee farming is unfair, and many coffee buyers around the world are attempting to improve economic and environmental sustainability of the sourcing process. THE BARN are committed to paying fair prices and supporting farms and facilities they work with. Education lies at the heart of their environmental sustainability, with a focus on educating farmers on agronomy to ensure preservation of the ecosystem.
Week 1 of plastic-free July is already over! How did it go for you?
Being organized is my number 1 tip on effectively starting your plastic-free journey (as you may have seen on my instagram story). That being said, I was underprepared, and things went relatively well.
I didn’t have access to an open market all week long (although my amazing boyfriend did, and bought vegetables and meat in our own containers), and didn’t have much time to cook or prepare food in my busy working schedule.
But of course, living plastic-free is not limited to food preparation. Doing laundry, keeping your house clean and tidy, and keeping yourself clean can all be very heavy on plastic, depending on your lifestyle.
In this post, I’ll be giving you a few shortcuts to make the most of a plastic-free month, without having to spend hours and hours planning your days out or traveling for miles to find an unpackaged cucumber.
step 1: do a quick and dirty plastic audit
Where in your life do you use the most plastic? You should try to reduce your plastic consumption in the most plastic-intensive area of your life. For me, it’s food, and animal protein, more specifically, that I buy to prepare at home.
A quick look at your recycling/refuse bin can help, but spending a few days being extra aware (without being obsessive about it) can help you identify where to pay more attention. Maybe it’s the plastic lid of your daily takeaway coffee. Maybe the lunchtime salad box.
It’s systematic use that matters, here. Going the extra mile to be plastic-free for occasional purchases has far less impact than creating more sustainable habits. It’s also not time-efficient.
Common culprits tend to be:
food packaging from the supermarket (meat, berries, fish, hummus, yoghurt, milk, snacks, ground coffee, butter, leafy vegetables…)
takeaway coffee cups – lids and straws, as well as the inner lining on paper cups or iced drinks cups
regular toiletries – shampoo, hand soap, lotions, toothpaste
house cleaning – dishwashing liquid, laundry liquid, any spray cleaners, sponges and dishwashing brushes
step 2: setting a one-time slot to feel prepared
I invested several hours figuring out where I could find what I’d need plastic-free. This included all of the previously mentioned;
hummus and baba ghanoush: the lebanese deli, with my own container (1/week)
vegetables, fruit and eggs: the sunday farmer’s market, where everything is in paper (1/week)
bread: a bakery which wraps bread in paper (1-2/week)
the coffeeshop: bringing my KeepCup (every day)
sparkling water: a supermarket which sells them in glass (every day)
bulk grains: a bring-your-own-container shop (1/month)
household items: a local shop where I can bring my own bottles to refill or buy plastic-free sponges, brush heads and soap (1/month)
For meat, tofu, yoghurt and oat milk, I have to admit, I haven’t found an effective solution yet. So I prioritize what I can control for the time being.
step 3: creating habit
My Sunday routine has become pretty essential to making sure my week goes as planned. By creating weekly, monthly and annual routines, you’re removing the element of uncertainty by knowing where to find what you need at what time.
On Sundays, I go to the market to get all my vegetables, fruit, meat/fish/eggs and sometimes a loaf of bread. I used to make lists, but I now shop more intuitively depending on what’s in season.
I cook up a frenzy for my lunches, which usually last me until Wednesday. By then, I reassess what’s in the fridge to make sure nothing spoils (since I don’t really plan meals ahead of time for evenings).
I bring my KeepCup to the coffeeshop, and a metal straw if having an iced drink. At some point in the week, I go to the Lebanese deli to restock on hummus and the bakery for extra bread.
About once a month, I refill my laundry detergent at the refill store, and buy large bags of lentils and rice.
Rinse and repeat!
step 3: planning for when things go wrong
It’s easy to get super excited and optimistic about how smoothly things will go, at the beginning. I am by no means the expert in this department, but an essential part of my success has been to always have a plan B.
Making packed lunches for 5 days is not realistic for me, because I don’t want to eat 4-day old chicken towards the end of the week. Instead, I might grab lunch outside – and I choose to go where I can sit and enjoy my meal, plastic free. Otherwise, I might pack a leftover dinner in a tupperware for the last couple of days of the week.
Owning lots of reusable bags, cups, straws, cutlery etc is not the same as remembering to bring them. Which I’m sometimes terrible at! To avoid being caught unawares, I keep some items in multiple places (it could be your home, your bag, your office, your car…):
several reusable mugs/keepcups at home and the office
reusable cutlery in my bag
a metal straw at the office
reusable containers at home and the office
oatmeal at the office to avoid having to buy breakfast on the go
reusable bags in every imaginable place
tins of chickpeas, tuna and beans in case of empty fridge!
I never leave the house without my reusable water bottle
step 4: making choices
I have found in the past few months that investing my time, effort and money in some things have had a huge impact on my waste, whereas others have been a hindrance and made my life much more inconvenient. And I’ve had to make choices.
Some items that have really helped me reduce my plastic use:
vegetables from the farmer’s market, which don’t take more time to buy or cost more than the supermarket
occasionally making my own hummus, which is fun and enjoyable for me
buying pulses and grains in bulk, which is cheaper and more convenient
refilling my detergent bottle, which is cheaper than a fresh bottle
growing my own herbs, which is cheaper than buying them all the time
Buying a KeepCup, which sometimes even gets you a discount on drinks!
a reusable bottle, which is cheaper than buying bottles and more convenient
buying body oil in glass bottles instead of cream/lotion, which is a direct substitute for me personally
buying natural fibers for clothes and home furnishings, which are more durable and nicer to wear
Some items are just not worth spending my efforts on for the moment, but may become so if my situation, location or life changes:
making my own yoghurt, which still requires me to buy milk in plastic
making my own oat milk, which never turns out as nice as my favorite one from the shop
making bread and many other baked goods, unless I have time
Buying a sodastream for my obsessive consumption of sparkling water, as I can buy glass bottles instead
finding lentil and chickpea pasta, and sometimes more unusual grains, in bulk
buying tofu and tempeh plastic-free is essentially impossible
buying beauty products plastic-free – I’m pretty low maintenance and only replace the absolute essentials when they’re empty. I return empty bottles to Kiehl’s, as they have a recycling programme!
Make sure you are connected with me on instagram to stay up to date with my plastic-free July on the daily!
Matcha is everywhere these days – from lattes to mochi (sweet Japanese treats), this vibrant green powdered tea has taken over the world.
I wasn’t always a fan. I am now; it’s a welcome alternative to coffee, and the perfect mid-afternoon way to refresh and reset. Iced or warm, I couldn’t imagine my life without it. But my first experience was less than pleasant; I remember the thick, watery liquid coating the inside of my mouth with cloying bitterness.
Let me tell you what a well prepared, good quality matcha is not:
Spring is upon us at last! With many life changes finally behind me (moving, starting my career and getting into a new groove), I thought I’d round up everything I’ve loved over the past month.
The choices you make on the daily are so incredibly transformative. Surrounding yourself with a peaceful, supportive and beautiful environment, treating yourself with compassion and enjoying every aspect of your day is the single biggest favour you can do yourself. I wake up in the morning looking forward to a fresh start, excited to start all over again!
what I’m drinking
Well, matcha, of course. I can’t believe I only discovered matcha 6 months ago. I like it with oat milk, or whisked with hot water for a super grassy drink. I had a really nice Ippodo matcha at Japan House on Kensington High St. A quality matcha isn’t bitter – it’s sweet and doesn’t linger unpleasantly. If you’ve had a bad experience in the past (like I had!), I suggest you try again!
I’m enjoying my KeepCup more and more. I’ve owned lots of reusable cups and always found a major flaw – hydroflasks keep my drinks too hot, plastic cups start smelling after a while and most lids are hard to clean by hand. I love KeepCup’s super simple clip-on system and glass tumbler. Because let’s face it – nothing tastes that nice in stainless steel or plastic. I own the smallest size, which is ideal for a flat white or shorter espresso-based coffees.
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.