Food

Christmas is Coming...

Long time no see! 👋🏼 I honestly cannot believe how long it’s been since my last post - there’s been so much going on! 🙈 Since my last post…

At school, we fundraised for Children in Need by dancing dressed in minion costumes. 🌟

 
minion costumes
 

Fashion show was a huge success after countless hours of rehearsing and planning. 💃🏼 The event was fab, I loved my dress for prom walk 😍 and we raised over £5500 for Robin House - huge congrats to everyone involved! 👏🏼

 
prom dress
heather and amy
 

I’ve had replies/offers from a few of the universities I applied to 📝 - I’m still waiting on two more and keeping my fingers crossed for things to all go well… 🤞🏼

My hair has been dyed coppery red 🧖🏼‍♀️ - even thought it’s fading now, I absolutely loved having such bright colours! 💖

 
red hair
red hair
 

The school Christmas Concert was brilliant yet again (click here to see some videos…). 🎶

 
sixth years
 

And to top it all off I’ve had tonnes of work for exams, assignments and university applications too! 📚

 
mistletoe bokeh
snowman decoration
 

Now that the holidays are finally here and Christmas is just around the corner, I’ve had a little more time to get festive (although I must confess to decorating the tree to 80s music, rather than the more typical seasonally appropriate songs!). 🎅🏼 Presents are all bought and wrapped, cards written and delivered, menus planned, music in full swing… ⛄️

 
vegan white choc chip chocolate orange cookies

vegan white choc chip chocolate orange cookies

vegan white chocolate, cranberry and pecan cookies

vegan white chocolate, cranberry and pecan cookies

 

I baked 88 cookies (yes, eighty-eight!) on Saturday: some chocolate orange and others with white chocolate, pecan and cranberry. 🍪 I adapted this recipe and this recipe to veganise these cookies, and their both Christmas essentials in my opinion! ❤️ Festive tunes are playing constantly at home now (my favourites are Fairytale of New York, Christmas Lights and Mary’s Boy Child) and I’ve loved getting out my camera to take a few pretty bokeh photos too. 📸

 
rudolph bokeh
jingle bells decoration
 

All in all I’m looking forward to a few days of relaxation at home before diving into prelim revision (my exams are four days back-to-back in January) - I think we all deserve a break after such a busy year. 😴 For more festive posts, be sure to check out my Christmas A-Z and Christmas movie posts from last year!

 
robin decoration
mistletoe bokeh
 

I hope everyone has a lovely time and look forward to generating more blog content in the coming weeks 💻 - look out for a reflective or photo-centric blog post coming in the next week or two…



Merry Christmas! 🎄



Heather xoxo

 
 

A Weekend in Sheffield

I’ve just returned home from a brilliant weekend in Sheffield with my dad and brother. I finally had time to use my camera and it was lovely to briefly be able to relax and chill amongst the chaos of my daily life - I never imagined I could be so busy, so sorry for my recent absence!

Here’s what we got up to…

 

Tamper

You probably know one of my favourite things to do when travelling is to discover new vegan places, so I was delighted when my dad found a little place called Tamper only a five minute walk from the hotel. The interior was stunning and the New Zealand style coffee culture was incredible - definitely some of the best coffee I’ve ever had! I opted for the Rejuvenator on day one, and I tried the porridge when we returned the following day. James gave The Big Kiwi a shot, followed by the french toast special on day two, whilst my dad tried the granola. It was all so delicious!

flat white
rejuvinator
tamper
granola and yoghurt
 

Hybrid

view from the Plug

Our main reason for visiting was to see Hybrid in concert. For those who haven’t heard of them, Hybrid are a cinematic electronic band, creating lush and rather unique sounds. Definitely worth a listen - the music is incredibly powerful and they were fantastic live. It was even better being in such a tiny venue called the Plug, ideally located just opposite from our hotel!

Even cooler: as we checked out of the hotel the next day we actually saw them packing up so were able to have a little chat!

 

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

autumn leaves
boys and a view

On our way back up to Glasgow we stopped by the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, somewhere we often visited when I was younger and lived in Leeds (although I have no memories of it!). The autumnal colours were gorgeous and there were some fascinating sculptures dotted through the park - a tranquil place to visit on a beautiful November day.

autumn trees
 

And everything else…

wagamama

In addition to all of that, we explored Sheffield’s centre (including a stop by the water wall opposite the station) and visited Meadowhall Shopping Centre - a hellishly busy place (although it did have some fab shops) which makes Braehead look tiny! We kept our pre-concert dinner simple with a trip to Wagamama, where I had my usual ramen - yum!

IMG_4697.jpg
IMG_4735.jpg
 

So it was a completely wonderful weekend and I’m so glad I finally got a little breather after sending off UCAS applications, studying, sitting exams, plus all of my other extra activities at school.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below - I’d particularly love to hear about your experience if you’ve ever been to Sheffield, or if you’re a Hybrid-lover like me!

Heather xoxo

 

Açai Peanut Butter Smoothie Bowls

Hello again everyone - I’m back! Apologies for the huge gap in posting these last couple of weeks, but life has been even more crazily busy than usual. What with a debating competition in Liverpool, fashion show planning and rehearsals, driving lessons, seeing family and friends, Advanced Highers, personal statement writing and UCAS prep, I’ve hardly had time to sleep, let alone blog...

açai peanut butter smoothie bowls

But this weekend I’ve finally had a little break and so have been experimenting with more smoothie bowls - yay! After many many weeks of searching, my dad has managed to source some açai powder. For those who don’t know, açai berries are native to the Amazon Rainforest and are typically extremely difficult to source in the UK. They’re rich in antioxidants and carry many health benefits, making them one of the most popular smoothie bowl flavours!


So having finally got some açai powder I decided to experiment with some açai smoothie bowls of my own...


Ingredients:

  • 2-3 frozen bananas

  • 1 tbsp açai powder

  • 2 tbsp peanut butter

  • 150-200 ml soya milk

  • 6 ice cubes

Suggested Toppings:

  • goji berries

  • peanut butter

  • granola


açai peanut butter smoothie bowls


Method:

  1. The night before, chop and freeze the bananas.

  2. In a blender, blitz together the frozen bananas and 100ml of soya milk.

  3. Add the açai powder, peanut butter and ice cubes and blend until smooth, adding additional soya milk until you achieve your desired consistency.

  4. Divide between two bowls, top with whatever you choose and serve!

I have to admit, I think this is probably my new favourite flavour! The peanut butter gives a nice savoury tang, making it less overpoweringly sweet in comparison to some of my other smoothie bowls. Blitzing together the ice cubes and açai powder has essentially the same effect as just using frozen açai berries, so if you’re lucky enough to have the real deal then just use those instead. If you don’t have açai in any form then no worries - simply swap out the ice cubes and açai powder for a large handful of frozen berries.

açai peanut butter smoothie bowls

I’d love to hear about any other açai-flavoured foods that you’ve tried and your thoughts on the recipe are much appreciated as always. I’ll do my best to do slightly more regular posts, but for now university applications have to take priority - here’s hoping all goes well!

Thank you so much for coming back to my blog even after I’ve had such a huge break from blogging! Hope you’re all enjoying Autumn and let me know if you’ve got any fun and simple blog post ideas for me!

Heather xoxo

Foodie Highlights: August 2018

Happy September everyone! August has been an extremely busy month to say the least! With seeing family, exam results, back to school, captaincy interviews, starting prep for UCAS applications, round 2 of the school summer concert, learning to drive, fashion show planning and lots of early morning meetings, on top of starting my new subjects (which all have a lot more additional homework than last year), it’s been absolutely non-stop. So with my busy schedule and lack of blogging-time, here’s a mini foodie highlights post for last month to keep things simple…

 
biscoff cake
 

Biscoff Cake


To celebrate my 17th (and for seeing my cousins), I attempted to follow up my Reeses’ showstopper for James’ 15th by experimenting with converting my vegan biscoff cupcakes recipe into a giant three-tier cake... It was a little unstable balancing but a huge success - definitely one of my favourite cake flavours ever!

 
courgetti
peanut butter, banana and blueberry smoothie
 

Cupcakes and Shhht


We found this amazing little vegan cafe during a day trip to London. It’s housed in a shipping container and the food is fantastic - I loved my courgetti and the protein boost smoothie (containing peanut butter, banana and blueberries) that followed it up was fantastic too. They also had a huge range of brownies which looked absolutely stunning - 100% recommend if you’re in the area!

 
smoothie bowl in a coconut
 

Smoothie Bowls


I’ve been making an awful lot of smoothie bowls having received a nutribullet for my birthday! It’s been so much easier both to make and clean up with the new machine and I’ve been delighted with the results so far. Highlight has to be serving a smoothie bowl in a coconut - only downside was the tiny size of the bowl - I ate three this size!

 
baked sweet potato with curry
 

Picnic (again!)


I’m almost certain Picnic has featured in every single post I’ve shared in this series so far… Well to continue the trend, I returned last month and had my favourite dish (baked sweet potato with curry) - it’s absolutely divine and my go-to place anytime I’m in the city centre.

 
açai smoothie
 

Açai Smoothie


In addition to my smoothie bowls I had this amazing açai smoothie too. I’m desperate to find somewhere I can buy my own açai berries so if anyone has any recommendations then please share!

 
cinnamon buns
 

Mayze


Last but not least are these a-MAYZE-ing cinnamon buns from a new cafe in Glasgow! We found these at a little vegan festival and wow wow wow. My classic cinnamon bun was delicious but the star of the show was undoubtedly my dad’s tahini and cardamom bun - the flavours were incredible.

 

So that’s a little summary of the best meals of the month. I’d love to hear about your favourite foodie items from August in the comments and if you have any suggestions for smoothie bowl or cake flavours that’d be fab.

 

Have a great September!

 

Heather xoxo

 

The Curse of Coffee Culture

Hello again everyone! Apologies for my blogging break - the end of summer holidays and back to school have been crazy busy already so unfortunately my blog post frequency is likely to be reducing slightly for the next little while.

 

You’re probably aware that exam results have been released in the UK in the last couple of weeks - I’m delighted with mine and I really hope others are too. Last year, I shared both of my English portfolio pieces: a persuasive essay on veganism and a reflective essay about my Grandad. So to keep up the tradition (and provide content for a post - I’m really struggling to plan content so if you have any ideas then please tell me!) I thought I’d share my essays from this last year.

 

So today, here are my thoughts about one of my favourite beverages, coffee…

 
coffee
 

It’s a chilly October morning. Outside it’s raining cats and dogs. Strangers hurry past, wrapped tightly in their jackets, breath fogging in front of their faces. Tucked away in a cosy corner of your favourite coffeehouse, you’re bundled up in the blissful warmth of a thick jumper. The scent of freshly brewed coffee tickles your nostrils. Friends surround you, catching up over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. You indulge in a sip of your Pumpkin Spice Latte, revelling in the sugary liquid sliding down your throat. You are completely content, thriving on the bustling atmosphere inside the little coffee shop.

 

But have you ever taken a minute to consider the implications of your cup of coffee?

 

As a society, we tend to shun drug users who snort cocaine and smoke cannabis whilst glossing over the fact that caffeine, a substance most of us consume on a regular basis, is a drug too. A single shot of espresso contains an average of 75mg of caffeine - that’s more than double the amount found in a can of Coca-Cola. And although caffeine stimulates the brain and can temporarily improve concentration, the body rapidly acclimatises itself to caffeine until a regular coffee drinker is no more alert after their daily coffee than someone who doesn’t consume caffeine at all. Excess caffeine is particularly dangerous for women too: it results in a hormonal imbalance and has been known to result in miscarriage during pregnancy. Despite allegedly offering a short-term mood boost, long-term it has been proven to increase stress levels and worsen anxiety, commonly causing insomnia which can have a severe impact on daily life. But the stimulating effect of caffeine makes it addictive, trapping the consumer in a vicious cycle of coffee consumption from which it is impossible to break free without suffering unbearable withdrawal symptoms.

 
coffee
 

It is far from just the caffeine that society is addicted to: it’s the experiences we associate with coffee. Seeing friends, going on dates or studying subjects: the memories of people we’ve met over a cup of coffee make it inconceivable not to love the concept of chatting over a cup or two, regardless of whether we even like the drink. The natural bitterness of coffee itself appeals to few - most choose to mute this flavour with the additions of milk, cream and sugar until they can tolerate the taste. All of these extras, however, can pile up to an extortionate expense. Our obsession with consuming “trendy” coffees has turned modern society into coffee snobs. Those who make their own coffee at home in a stove top coffee pot spend an average of £0.09 per cup compared to the outrageous average of £1.60 spent at a single coffee shop. Although £1.60 may sound like a rather insignificant setback, it can add up to a cost of tens of thousands of pounds in a lifetime - and that’s not even factoring in the effect of inflation or the pressure to customise the most magnificent order possible.

 

Alongside this desire to consume the most “luxurious” coffee, however, is a bigger issue: the obesity epidemic. Fuelling this is a popular marketing strategy, used by most franchises, known as “upselling,” where customers are offered the chance to “improve” their order by topping with whipped cream or upgrading to large for just 50p. Not only does this scheme increase the cost of a coffee, it can result in an average consumption of almost 20,000 additional calories per person per year. The fact that caffeine makes food taste less sweet further worsens the situation: people are more likely to sweeten their drink or indulge in a sweet treat too. Moreover, the drinks served by Starbucks rarely even taste of coffee - they have so much sugar, milk and cream that they’re more like flavoured milkshakes than artisanal coffees. A Venti White Chocolate Whole Milk Mocha with Whipped Cream, for example, contains an outrageous 609 calories, 65.9g of sugar and 28.6g of fat, making Coca-Cola seem healthy with just 139 calories, 35g of sugar and no fat per can. Some would claim that these extra calories are negated by the effect of chlorogenic acid found in coffee (which supposedly boosts weight loss), but any benefit of this disappears once a slab of cake is consumed alongside. The general public is oblivious to the nutritional content of these enormous servings of cake - a lemon drizzle cake sold by Pret A Manger had more than triple the recommended daily amount of sugar for a child. Go on a couple of coffee dates a week and all those calories rack up rather quickly…

 
takeaway coffee
 

Not only does coffee consumption affect the health of the human population, it also has a detrimental impact on the environment. Takeaway coffee cups are coated in a thin layer of polythene to make them waterproof and aid with insulation, but this makes them non-biodegradable. Technically speaking they’re still recyclable - but only by highly-specialised facilities, two of which exist in Britain. In the UK we get through a staggering 10,000 takeaway coffee cups in only two minutes; on a global scale, humans discard 16 billion coffee cups per year. That equates to 6.5 million trees, 4 billion gallons of water and enough energy to power over 50,000 homes. Some stores offer a discount for people who bring their own reusable takeaway cup, but the simplest way to tackle this issue is to simply use recyclable cups - a study showed that the majority of people would happily pay a little extra for their coffee if this was the case.

 

Coffee capsules used in the increasingly popular Nespresso machines are even worse. Made from a combination of aluminium and plastic, they’re virtually impossible to recycle - a problem that is worsened by the coffee granules trapped in the bottom of the pod. And this trend doesn’t seem to be disappearing - coffee capsules currently make up a third of the entire Western European coffee market and it is believed that by 2020, sales of coffee capsules could overtake that of teabags.

 
coffee
 

The packaging of coffee isn’t the only thing harming the environment: new farming techniques have a drastically detrimental effect too. Over 125 million people rely on growing coffee beans to survive, but the ever-increasing popularity of coffee has resulted in major changes in farming methods. Traditionally, coffee beans were grown under the shade of trees, a method which required no chemical fertilisers and encouraged greater biodiversity in the area. Now, the canopies which once sheltered the coffee plants have been obliterated so that coffee beans can grow in direct sunlight, resulting in a severe loss of biodiversity. Although the beans grow more quickly and are easier to harvest, they require large quantities of chemical fertilisers which deplete the soil.

 

We consume four hundred billion cups of coffee a year, but how often do we stop to consider the wider impact this has? Coffee is detrimental to our personal health, our finances and, most of all, our planet. And the funny thing is, most of us don’t even like its natural taste. We drink coffee to fit in with what we perceive the expectations of society to be: for many it’s more of a habit than a conscious choice. Completely cutting out coffee from our lives would be the simplest solution to these issues; but coffee culture plays too significant a role in modern society for that. Regardless of how we take our coffee, it doesn’t change our memories created over a cup of coffee, or the pleasure of indulging in the drink. Perhaps the answer is to take small steps towards a healthier relationship with coffee: next time you’re cosied up in your favourite Starbucks, maybe consider skipping the cake, going decaf or using a reusable takeaway cup.

 
reusable coffee cup
 

I really hope you enjoyed the essay and I’d love to hear your feedback! I still have a daily cup of coffee, but I now carry a reusable cup out with me (mine is from Stojo) which has been fantastic so far. It reduces the environmental damage and many places even give you a discount if you bring your own reusable cup too!

 

Hope everyone has had (or is having - lucky you who aren’t back at school or uni yet!) a fantastic summer and I’ll do my best to keep up with blog posts - as mentioned earlier, any content ideas would be much appreciated. Thank you for reading this far too!

 

Heather xoxo

 

* FYI as this was an exam piece and it has my copyright please don’t copy or reproduce it. It was hard work with many drafts and it’d be gutting for someone else to take credit!

 

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^^ approx. 700 words ^^

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