farmers’ market pasta salad (V, GF)

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.

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plastic-free july: a guide for the busy | week 1

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.

 

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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

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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!

 

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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

 

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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!

 

 

a really good matcha swirl cake

Matcha is everywhere these days – from lattes to mochi (sweet Japanese treats), this vibrant green powdered tea has taken over the world.

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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:

  • bitter
  • drying on the tongue
  • sticky in your mouth
  • lumpy or clumped
  • dull in colour

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buckwheat + quinoa autumn harvest bread (GF)

Hey team. It’s almost winter. And warm breads and pastries straight out of the oven sound so good right now.

 

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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?

 

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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.

 

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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

 

 

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ingredients

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

 

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method

  1. Cook quinoa according to instructions until well cooked (we went for about 18 min) and drain under cold water to cool down
  2. 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!
  3. Add in olives, chopped onions, rosemary, walnuts and anything else you want to add (feta, seeds, sundried tomatoes…) and combine.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Bake into a preheated oven (170C, fan) for 50 minutes.
  7. 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.

 

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why I love oat milk, and you should too

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).

 

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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!

 

 

2- It’s eco-friendlier than almond milk

Almonds are incredible. Almond milk can also be incredible. But almonds require so much water to 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.

 

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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!

 

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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’.

 

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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!
  • Not keen on buying it? Try making it yourself – it’s a little labour intensive, but here’s a good recipe: https://minimalistbaker.com/make-oat-milk

sacramento city guide to healthy living

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!)

 

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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!

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Salad trio from OBO’

 

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!

 

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Platters from Queen Sheba

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ayurvedic + gut-friendly savoury oats

A warming bowl of porridge is so much more than a plate of food. Share it with a friend and it becomes a topic of conversation. Make it after a long day and it becomes a source of comfort. Let your imagination run free and it becomes a creative outlet.

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how to make the best gut-healing oatmeal

Oatmeal, porridge, whatever you wanna call it. One thing: treat it like risotto.

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Oats are like the perfect middle-ground between incredibly indulgent and incredibly nutritious.

I was probably born with a spoonful of oats in my mouth. Wherever I was, at home, at school, on holidays, oats always made an appearance. Except my oat consumption has changed drastically since those dairy and microwave days. I actually used to pour cornflakes on top of my porridge. That crunch was everything. Now it just comes in a different shape (i.e. spoonfuls of PB)!

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the gut-friendly valentine’s guide you’ve been looking for

It’s almost Valentine’s. Can you believe it?
Truth be told, I’ve never really understood it! I think I got a card, once. Nowadays, being in a strong and well-grounded relationship means that Valentine’s hasn’t got much significance for us. We have other meaningful times and milestones we celebrate! But I admire those who make a real effort on the day. Buy something nice, take their S.O. for a decadent dinner or better still, COOK FOR THEM!

Food gifts are definitely my favourite kinds of gifts; to cook for me or to gift me something edible speaks in my sorta love language. I’m so easy to please.
But taking me out can be.. complicated.

There you are, sitting in an outrageously expensive restaurant and staring blankly at the 3 mains on the menu. And there is nothing you can eat. Because you’ve been avoiding gluten and dairy and nuts and soy and sugar and and and— Sound familiar?

So. We all know how to prevent this scenario from happening.
a) phone the restaurant in advance and have a lengthy and frustrating conversation about your dietary restrictions (“no, I’m not allergic, it’s just that I’m avoiding it for the moment because…”)
b) cook at home.

Option b) generally wins for me!

I’ve spent some time (not that I mind!) looking for the best gluten + dairy free, real food recipes to cook for yourself or someone special (or print this out and hand it to them. Wink wink.) And I guarantee you’ll have a much better night than trying to eat around the croutons in your overpriced salad.

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is your whole30 whole enough?

It’s late at night and I’m thinking about the whole30. I’m thinking about my first whole30 and how I’m still seeking #FoodFreedomForever. And I really feel like I need to take some thoughts off my chest after seeing how much attention the programme has had over the month of January!

I did the whole30 back in September. It didn’t have a happy ending, but it did have lifelong positive consequences. My gut wasn’t happy, but my soul was, and I am so grateful for the experience. I’m also proud I lasted the 30 days without a slip. I know I won’t be doing the whole30 exactly as it is outlined again, but I know that applying the core principles was essential to my mental success the first time around.

But there’s stuff we’re not talking about enough in this community. I still stumble upon whole30ers who just want to “lose weight”. Who think it’s ok to eat almond butter by the spoonful because it’s compliant. Or worse, who stuff dates with almond butter and are cool with that.

No. Don’t be cool.

If these behaviours don’t seem like red flags to you, please don’t stop reading. You need this.

#1. it takes a while to get ready and figure out your boundaries

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