Where to Find Awesome Vegan Pizza in London

Fear no more, I am here to help you discover the best vegan pizza places in London. This list is updated constantly.

I tried to keep this on the down-low, but I LOVE PIZZA! I think few people don’t. Did you know that pizza is actually a pretty balanced meal when chosen with fresh, simple ingredients? Pizza has a terrible stigma attached, due to some fast-food versions of greasy, meaty, cheesy mess. But the traditional Italian pizza is a perfect combo of starch, protein (think mushrooms + dough, or cheese if you still eat dairy), vitamins and minerals (tomato sauce, garlic, herbs, rocket, other veggies) and fiber. And I’m not the only one saying this; qualified nutritionist, Rhiannon Lambert, also encourages people not to see pizza as ‘evil food’.

Ok. So where do you find GOOD vegan pizza in London? I haven’t been everywhere, but I already have three favourite places so far

MY TOP VEGAN PIZZA JOINTS
  1. Pizza Pilgrims – Their £5 Marinara is 100% vegan and available in every branch, as one of the most popular Neapolitan pizzas. Check it out and find the nearest one to you, out of their 7 locations.

2. Firezza – A little more expensive, their £12.95 Verde Ortolana comes with artichoke hearts, fresh field mushrooms, roasted mixed vegetables (aubergines, courgettes, sweet peppers), fresh basil, tomato and VEGAN cheese (request it as an optional FREE replacement for mozarella). One of my favourites!

3. Voodoo Ray’s – Another delicious chain of really good, cheap pizza. If you fancy yourself a Queen Vegan, try the pizza with the same name (£4/slice), sporting artichoke hearts, green olives, red onion, sun-blush tomatoes, tomato sauce and green sauce. Yum!

There you have it, my top 3 pizza joints so far! I will update this post as I find more. Do you have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Brunch at Ethos Restaurant

After a week of events, networking and good food, the weekend ended on a high! I was invited to attend a special brunch at Ethos restaurant in Oxford Circus, organised in collaboration with More than Carrots, to have a taste of their new brunch menu.

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Ethos restaurant – London (Credit: www.ethosfoods.com)

Before I go into the story and the wonderful menu, I want to take a little paragraph or two to talk about my food philosophy.

I have always loved cooking with fresh fruit and veggies. The more I learned about nutrition and the food industry, the more my choices changed. I gave up meat and dairy this year and chose to remain ovo-pescatarian until I feel ready to transition fully to veganism.

Food is to be enjoyed, to nourish ouR bodies and make us thrive. Turning food into something negative doesn’t sit well with me. That is why I don’t give advice about a vegan lifestyle, but I choose to show how wonderful plant-based food is – how varied, how delicious and how versatile. It is my passion to create healthy foods, regardless of whether I call myself a vegan, pescatarian or vegetarian.

The brunch&learn event I attended at Ethos was a beautiful example of people coming together because they were curious about vegetarian and vegan food (regardless of their current diet or lifestyle). And they were welcomed and taught about great ingredients and ways of cooking, without being judged or told HOW to live or WHAT to eat.

I think that is the right way to help people make positive changes, changes they are happy to maintain long-term.

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Right, that being said, let’s go back to Ethos. Ethos is a self-service restaurant located in the heart of central London, moments from Oxford Circus. They specialise in meat-free food that tastes as good as it is for you. And they operate a Pay by Weight System which means two wonderful things:

  1. You get to taste everything that you fancy from the buffet.
  2. You will probably be more aware of portion-size – the secret to maintaining a healthy & balanced life.

But let’s talk about the actual food now!

Here’s a sneak peak of the menu:

Portobello Hash

Portobello mushroom, fried egg, potato hash, pistachio pesto, balsamic glaze

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Banana Bread French Toast

Banana bread coated in eggs and cinnamon with strawberry jam, orange yogurt, fresh strawberries and mint.

Watermelon Caprese

Mozzarella, watermelon, avocado, apricot glaze, olive oil

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Sweet Potato & Kale Scramble

Kale, sweet potato, tofu, red onion, coconut oil, turmeric, cumin

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Wow, it was so delicious! My favourite was indeed the tofu scramble option (an old favourite of mine), but I was very inspired by the portobello hash and the watermelon caprese – which can easily be turned into vegan versions by replacing the cheese with a vegan one, and opting for a no-egg option when it comes to the hash brown.

Ok, the banana bread was also heavenly! haha. Sorry guys, this isn’t a critic’s review, it was honestly great food, cooked to perfection, at a beautiful venue.

Oh, did I mention we also got to pile up a plate with the most gorgeous hot and cold foods from the buffet? Yep, that happened too. Here’s what you can find regularly if you go check it out:

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So, if you are looking for a meat-eater-friendly place that doesn’t actually do meat, this one’s for you. Plenty to choose from, you won’t even miss the meat AND you get to try some gorgeous vegan and vegetarian dishes.

Now let me tell you about More than Carrots – what a cool name, right? Well, the long-short of it is this: If you want to start eating less meat, they can help.

They offer facts about the impact of eating less meat + nutrition, ideas for delicious meals and tips for great restaurants in your area. Best part? You can purchase their starter kit with all the info you need to start eating more fruit and veg.

I hope you guys found this little tale of where to find good food and support useful. I will probably check out new places and brands soon and report back.

Enjoy your food wherever you are in your journey!

 

3 Key Reasons to Choose Organic Products

Organic is not fancy. It’s not just for the wealthy either. I grew up on a farm where my family grew their crops organically in an attempt to save money, not to waste it. So this is what I learned first hand from my father and grandfather, who have been growing crops for over 60 years.

Health

Organic agriculture uses natural fertilisers (animal manure, food compost, crop residue) instead of chemicals. Therefore, anything grown with pesticides and chemicals will then be absorbed by our bodies.

Quality and taste

The taste of organic products is also at its most natural and our bodies can recognise that unaltered DNA easier, so they are digested and absorbed better. It’s food as it should be.

Sustainability

Organic farming doesn’t harm the environment. In fact, it helps maintain the ecosystem – bees, bugs, wildlife and the people. When you choose organic products you are also supporting local and smaller farmers and producers.

Want more reasons to choose organic? The Soil Association has a lot more information on the topic here and in this cute inforgraphic.

Organic infographic

There are SO many offers on organic products this month, including 3 for 2 in Tesco and a £20 FREE bundle at Ocado with your next shop. This is just what I discovered myself, but check out this list.

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What You Need to Know When Going Vegan

Should you consider going vegan? There’s a lot of confusion in everyone’s mind today about what lifestyle to lead. Therefore it’s hard to know what to eat and not to eat, whether fats are the enemy or sugar is, what causes cancer and what prevents it.

There’s no right or wrong answer, or at least I don’t want to get into the controversy of discussing it. But I do believe clean eating, moderation, exercise and a healthy mind all contribute to being healthy.

And this isn’t an easy balance to strike in today’s stressful and polluted world we live in. (sorry for the pessimistic outlook)

BUT we can do better! And we must, for ourselves, but for the world too.

This is where veganism comes into play. Not only is veganism on the rise (Check out this cool article), but it brings me so much joy and hope to see how many young people start their journey into a plant-based lifestyle. I translate this into a better world health-wise, environmentally and for the animals.

More than 1.5 million Americans over the age of 17 are now vegan.

Number of vegans in Britain rises by 360% in 10 years

Whether you are going vegan for health reasons, for the environment or for animal welfare, you have to remember your motivation to be able to fully enjoy this lifestyle.

From my experience, the benefits of this diet outweigh the perceived restriction. In fact, I never feel restricted on this diet, especially in London where there are so many good vegan options.

My main reason for going vegan is health related. On this diet I have reduced inflammation in my body and recovered from chronic conditions. I am usually prone to inflammation and some common infections – that’s just my genetic make-up.

I started my journey towards veganism in January 2017. I decided to transition gradually (giving up meat first, then dairy and soon fish and eggs) because when I tried it out a few years ago, I didn’t know what I was doing and ended up with lots of deficiencies.

But I have learned a lot since then, read and got myself informed before making the decision to go vegan again.

Here’s what you need to know.
  1. You will need a B12 supplement

This is the only thing lacking in a vegan diet – a vitamin found only in animal products, made up by micro-organisms that plants can’t produce. Here’s how you keep this in check.

  • Fortified foods:
    • Vitamin B12 is added to some alternatives to milk products, vegan spreads, nutritional yeast flakes, yeast extracts and breakfast cereals
    • Eat these foods at least twice a day
    • Aim for a daily intake of at least 3mcg (micrograms)
  • Supplements: take either at least 10mcg daily or at least 2000mcg weekly

I recommend this one. But you can get cheaper tablets at your local drug store.

2. Detoxing (and its side effects)

A vegan diet done right contains a rainbow of foods. If you’re not going to have chips and vegan cheese every day (or some weird vegan processed foods), you will probably start detoxing and seeing some reactions in your body.

Upping your fiber intake, your nutrients and antioxidants and the water (smoothies) you drink is going to start getting rid of toxins in your body. Depending on how clean you were eating beforehand, you may experience (only for a few days!) breakouts, extreme fatigue, headaches, constipation or diarrhea, cravings.

However, one you get past this phase you will have more energy, brighter skin, brighter eyes, better sleep and happier organs 🙂

3. Probiotics

When you’re transitioning to a new type of diet, especially one full of fiber, your stomach might need a little time to adjust. Your intestinal flora is going through massive changes and you need to support your transition by making sure you eat a variety of foods like:

  • Vegan yoghurts with probiotic cultures (most of them have these added)
  • Fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha drinks, miso paste)
  • Fermented tofu or tempeh

Alternatively, you can take probiotic supplements.

4. Vegan protein

Don’t worry, it’s everywhere. Just make sure you eat a variety of vegan protein sources so you can have complete protein profiles in your diet. Here’s a great guide:

Vegetarian Complete Protein Combination Chart | Hurray vegetarians rejoice!

Quinoa, buckwheat and tofu are complete proteins.

5. Up some of the nutrients when you’re transitioning

If there’s one diet abundant in vitamins and minerals, this is probably it. However, not all vegan diets are created equal, so make sure you choose nutrient-rich whole plants and fortified foods!

Yes, it may take some time for your body to adjust, you may feel you’re doing it wrong at first, but it’s just a matter of fine tuning. And the good news is – you can probably eat more now! More of the good stuff that is, not vegan fast food. (sorry)

Disclaimer: I’m not a qualified nutritionist so do consult a doctor/nutritionist before making drastic changes to your diet. I am simply sharing my knowledge and experience of transitioning to veganism.

Calcium

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not hard to get your daily calcium intake from plants. Surprisingly for some, you’ll find it kale, pak choi, okra, spring greens, dried figs, chia seeds and almonds. Calcium-set tofu, calcium-fortified milk and yogurt alternatives and bread fortified with extra calcium are good sources too.

Vitamin D

If you live in the UK, unfortunately there’s no escape from taking vitamin D supplements or fortified foods. I recently discovered I was severely deficient in vitamin D – before transitioning!! – and had NO idea, just a lot of bone pain and muscle pain. What a nightmare…! I now take a drop of this every day.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 

One great piece of nutritional advice I got recently from Rhiannon Lambert BSc MSc ANut (@rhitrition) was to increase my Omega-3 DHA intake (which you’d normally find in fish oils) through an algae supplement.

Read more about these nutrients here.
BONUS

A list of sources of information that are reliable and scientific.

www.vegansociety.com

How Not To Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health

Happy veganing everyone!

Maria

P.S. Don’t beat yourself up if you go off the vegan trail one day. Remember that even reducing the amount of meat, dairy, eggs, fish you are consuming, you’re already making a huge difference to your health, the environment and animal welfare.

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How to: Vegan Sunday Pancakes

I made it a mission to turn my Sundays into pancake Sundays. And until recently, I didn’t know how to make vegan pancakes, can you believe it? I tried it once a few years ago (missing some key ingredients!) and it was a sticky mess. Literally. They stuck to the pan, burned and tasted like mud. Ok, slight exaggeration, but it was a disaster.

Fear no more! I have discovered the secret to perfect vegan pancakes so you don’t have to go through what I went through.

Vegan banana pancakes

The rules are these:
  • 1 part solid ingredients (flour/s of different kinds)
  • 1 part liquid ingredients (plant based milk)
  • binding agents (1 banana and/or ground flaxseeds)
  • raising agents (bicarbonate of soda and baking powder)
  • flavour (cinnamon/vanilla)
  • sweetness (brown sugar/maple syrup) – optional
  • fats (coconut oil)

First, use a blender to mix it all up into a smooth but thick batter. Then cook ONLY using a non-stick pan. (no oil required)

Here’s my favourite recipe:

  • 200g flour (I make my own vegan pancake mix with wheat flour, almond flour, bran out and rice protein)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 big(ish) banana)
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender until it turns into a thick, smooth batter.
  2. Pour it straight from the blender jug into the pan, one by one (whatever size you want).
  3. Flip when they form lots of bubbles on the surface.
  4. Serve with your favourite toppings.

Enjoy and tag me on Instagram because I want to see your creations!

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Fig and orange vegan chocolate tarts

Ok. I’m never going back to traditional chocolate desserts now that I have made the ultimate vegan treat. You probably don’t believe me, but wait till you try this!I made this recipe simple-stupid, so that you have no excuse. Plus, it takes less than 30 mins to make it. Yes, prep time included. I know, I know, I’m pretty awesome… 😛


Things you need

  • Food processor
  • Tart tins (don’t wanna buy these? use any tin you have, make it into a tin cake instead)

Ingredients (makes 4 medium sized tarts)

Base:

  • 70g rehydrated dry figs (overnight or at least 4 hours)
  • 100g pecan nuts (almonds or cashew will do too; no peanuts!)
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1 tbsp cocoa nibs

Mousse

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 100g organic cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) coconut milk
  • 50ml maple syrup (or sweetener of choice, quantity may vary)

Secret ingredient: Organic, pure wild orange essential oil by doTERRA. It’s pretty magical and without it the dish kinda falls flat. If you can’t get hold of this, try lots of organic orange zest.

Method

  1. Process the pecan nuts in the food processor until evenly ground.
  2. Add the figs and the rest of the base ingredients and process until well combined.
  3. Add 3 drops of orange essential oil.
  4. Press mixture in tart tins to form even bases.
  5. Place in the freezer until chocolate mousse is ready.
  6. Add all the mousse ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust texture and sweetness to your liking (e.g. more coconut milk or more maple syrup).
  7. Add a couple of orange oil in the mousse too. (no, it’s not too much!)
  8. Pour the mousse into the tart tins you took out from the freezer
  9. Decorate and enjoy immediately or keep in the fridge for later use.

I told you it’s the easiest recipe! I can make this with my eyes closed now, using only 8 ingredients. Although, I should not close my eyes when operating a food processor!!


I hope you enjoy it, let me know in the comments.

My Weekly Shopping List

I’m a serial list maker. I just think life is much better in bullet points and tick marks. Before you judge me, my OCD might come in handy for some of you. So here’s what my weekly grocery list looks like for a rich, plant-based diet. I’ve included my regular items, not the variations:

Fresh
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Normal potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Berries
  • Lemons and limes
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Kale
  • Baby spinach
  • Other seasonal produce
Fridge
  • Plant-based milk
  • Plant-based yoghurt
  • Tofu (lots of it)
Canned
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Coconut milk
Cupboard
  • Vegan pasta
  • Buckwheat products
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Lentils
  • Nuts (top up)
  • Seeds (top up)
Freezer
  • Frozen peas (check out this 5-step simple recipe: [ultimate-recipe id=”3178″ template=”default”]
  • Frozen berries
  • Organic frozen produce (whatever I can find)

There you go! Hope you find this handy and use it to start adding more plants into your daily life.

The Nicecream Craze and How to Make Some

You may have heard about the latest delicious vegan craze in the form of nicecream. What is nicecream you ask? A frozen banana-based dessert. It’s dairy, egg and sugar free – except for, of course, the naturally occurring sugars and whatever topping you choose to adorn it with.

It’s a great option for kids desserts, vegan diets and sometimes even as a refreshing breakfast.

Wanna try it? Here’s an easy recipe I wiped up this weekend:

Ingredients
  • 150g frozen mango
  • 200g frozen bananas
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or sweetener of your choice
  • 100ml almond milk (or other plant-based milk)
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • squeeze of lime

You also need a food processor.

Method
  1. Put the bananas in the food processor and almond milk and blend
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients gradually while blending and pausing (depending on your food processor, this will take between 5-10 mins to properly incorporate all ingredients)
  3. Pour the creamy, frozen mixture in a tray and sprinkle with berries and chopped nuts.
  4. Freeze for an hour or as long as it takes to further solidify the nicecream.
  5. Take out, scoop and serve with coconut chips, cocoa nibs, fresh fruit in granola bottom glasses.

This is how I chose to serve mine 🙂

And some other, less fancy options 🙂

My 3 go-to smoothies

Smoothies are a great way to hydrate, nourish and get a boost of vitamins and minerals. Add some protein powder (plant-based) and you have a perfect post-workout refuelling meal.

I personally don’t think fruit-only smoothies should replace a meal. But they can be a quick pre-breakfast infusion of goodness which will hit your bloodstream in 30 mins on an empty stomach. BOOM!

Here’s how I make mine more nourishing and filling, with three of my favourite personal recipes.

Very Berry Smoothie

  • 1 cup berries
  • 1 banana or a few slices of mango for sweetness
  • 30g protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • water

Optional: nut milk instead of water and some coconut yoghurt (or normal yogurt if you’re not vegan)

Smoothie with berries and seeds

Smoothie with berries and seeds
Green Power 

One of my absolute favourites because of its freshness and zing!

🌱1 celery stick
🌱Handful of kale or spinach or both 🙂
🌱1 apple and or pear
🌱1 inch ginger
🌱1 table spoon hemp protein powder
🌱Half a lemon/lime juice
🌱1 tea spoon #chia seeds
🌱Basil (ads a beautiful fragrance and lifts all the flavours)
🌱Honey/agave syrup/fruit syrup

Green smoothie

The Dessert Smoothie

As simple and delicious as:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut chips/milk
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Nut milk

Smoothie banana
Bonus Smoothie: Tropical treat

During summer, I love to mix tropical flavours, melon and spices for an unexpected explosion of flavour.

  • Melon
  • Mango
  • Passion fruit (optional)
  • One orange/tangerine
  • Banana
  • Cloves (yes, trust me! add 2-3)
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Water

Melon and mango smoothie

Creamy mushroom and asparagus vegan pasta

A new world is upon me! I discovered cashew-based sauces and nothing will ever be the same.

Was I sceptical about this? Yes. Was I proven wrong by how good, deliciously creamy and cheese-like the sauce turned out? 100%.

Without further ado, here’s how to turn your ‘cheesy’ dreams into a vegan reality.

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Ingredients

  • Your favourite pasta (for 2-3 portions)
  • A bunch of asparagus
  • Mushrooms (as many as you like, there is no right or wrong here)
  • Olive oil
  • Lots of pepper
  • 1 shallot/onion

Cashew sauce

  • 1 cup cashews (soaked over night for best results)
  • 1 cup plant based milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 table spoons inactive yeast flakes
  • gulp of olive oil
  • 2 table spoons soy sauce
  • a sprinkle of fresh parsley
  • 1 lime/lemon (zest and juice)
  • half a shallot (optional)
  • Lots (and I mean LOTS) of ground pepper

Step 1: Cook the pasta as instructed.

Step 2: Meanwhile saute the mushrooms in olive oil and diced shallots + salt and pepper

Step 3: Steam the asparagus for a few minutes then cut it in small pieces and mix with the mushrooms (off the heat)

Step 4: Put all the sauce ingredients in a blender, blend on a low speed and increase gradually. Stop a few times to scrape the sides of the container, for a consistent, smooth blend. Blend on a high speed until smooth and creamy. Add seasoning to taste and more milk if needed.

Step 5: Mix the cooked paste with the mushrooms, asparagus and creamy sauce. Plate and east straight away

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Enjoy!

Maria