5 sustainable things to do in Berlin | green travel guide

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. 

 

5 sustainable things to do in Berlin | THE BARN Berlin

 

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. 

5 sustainable things to do in Berlin | THE BARN Berlin

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seasonal green tofu satay

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Who else is a big fan of:

  • A quick, weeknight dinner
  • A great desk lunch
  • 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.

ingredients

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

To serve:

  • your favorite cooked grain (I had wild rice)
  • spoonful of coconut yoghurt
  • sprig of coriander

method

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

my experience of veganuary

Red rice and chickpea bowl with lots of lemon and guacamole

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.

Vegan ramen bowl from Shoryu

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!

An example of vegan pizza from Portland’s VegFest last summer!

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.

A cheap meal of soup and bread – which I had most days

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.

A tofu scramble for breakfast with toast, avocado and veggies

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.

A veggie box from the Lebanese – I think it was all vegan!

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.

staying healthy-ish on the move: how not to lose your mind when you’re travelling + airbnb porridge recipe

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?!

 

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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.

Continue reading “staying healthy-ish on the move: how not to lose your mind when you’re travelling + airbnb porridge recipe”

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

10 timeless reads to escape the daily grind 

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?

 

10-timeless-reads

 

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!

Happy reading!

 

1. when breath becomes air, Paul Kalanithi

 

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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!

Continue reading “10 timeless reads to escape the daily grind ”

september recap | hikes & other stories

September is almost over! It’s hard to believe – the California sunshine is still shining bright on most days.
This month has been filled with some wonderful adventures. From weekend trips to revelations and accomplishments, it’s been an eventful beginning to the autumn.

trips & adventures

On the first weekend of the month, I took yet another trip to SF. The Saturday farmers’ market on the Ferry Plaza was a feast for the senses. Flowers, exotic mushrooms and weird granolas all around.

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Continue reading “september recap | hikes & other stories”

my 10-day social media detox | the why and the how

So here I am in the Sierras, hiking my way up to a bunch of lakes. It’s hot and dry and I stop to admire the mountains every few minutes. And my phone has no signal. And I’m living my best life.

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See, the whole point of taking a break from social media is not to feel deprived. You want to feel like you’re fully participating in your own life. You’re taking an amazing hike and it’s not on Instagram and that’s totally cool because memories last a lifetime. That’s exactly how I’ve felt these past 10 days.

 

It was both reaching for my phone a little too often and the opportunity to spend time in places where phones aren’t such a big deal that made me realise I wanted a break. It’s 11.25 and it’s not lunchtime yet and I Just. Need. Something. to pass the time, so I watch a few Instagram stories. That started happening a lot. My weekend away in Lake Tahoe (post coming soon!) made me realise I wasn’t always connecting to myself because I was so busy trying to connect with others on social media. Does that sound familiar to any of you? Continue reading “my 10-day social media detox | the why and the how”

a summer in sacramento | my story so far

It’s only 19 hours, I kept telling myself. 19 hours of travelling and you’ll be in heaven. It was daunting, super exciting and completely surreal to think I would be taking this trip all by myself.

About 3 months ago, it was time for me to submit my placement preferences as part of my MSc in Health Economics. It didn’t take long for me to put Sacramento at the top of my list. The promise of sun, guacamole, and an impactful project to work on was all I needed to convince me. When my allocation was released and I read “UC Davis” next to my name, I couldn’t believe I’d be spending three whole months in sunny California. Me? Who’d never flown for more than 4 hours? Impossible.

Preparations

I started planning right away and hoped to God I wouldn’t miss anything out. My visa application was particularly painful, but I don’t think anybody’s ever enjoyed applying for an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. It’s an administrative procedure that requires you to answer really obscure questions about your religious affiliations and pay large amounts of money to attend a 2 minute interview at an embassy, and maybe shed a few tears of frustration along the way, but you know what? It was worth it! My passport came back in the post a week later (because yes, they take your passport!) and I frantically finished packing up my life, sat my last ever exam at York, sold my furniture and tried to get some headspace before this huge adventure.

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Continue reading “a summer in sacramento | my story so far”

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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Continue reading “ayurvedic + gut-friendly savoury oats”