A Day In Dublin – August 2018

Last week I took another day trip to Dublin; it’s safe to say I’ve been in Dublin more times this year than ever before.

I headed down on the 8am bus with my friend Rachel for a day of exploring and eating our way around the city.

We arrived around 10:30am and headed straight for breakfast. Our first port of call was a place called Nut Butter. I ordered the original acai bowl (without granola because it wasn’t GF).

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After breakfast, we walked to Grafton St where we popped into Tang for a coffee (I ordered an almond milk cappuccino) and a PB banana muffin. If you are ever in Dublin I highly recommend this place, they had the best baked goods I’ve had anywhere and the lunches looked delicious also.

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Once we had re-caffinated we browsed around many bookshops, as well as vintage and crystal shops before going to Cornucopia for a late lunch. Cornucopia has and will always be my favourite restaurant in Dublin. I had the tofu sweet potato casserole along with their famous potato salad and a chickpea salad.

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After lunch, we wandered around a few health food stores, before slowing making are way back to the bus. It truly was a great day of eating and exploring the greatest shops and cafes Dublin has to offer.

Where are your favourite stops in Dublin?

Emma xx

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Escaping routine

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Over the years this is something I have become extremely passionate about. As I have got older, I have realised how easy it is to slip into bad habits, or not even bad habits but just habits; some good, some bad, but habits nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong, I as much as anyone understand and cherish the importance of the everyday. Creating a life for yourself that brings joy and happiness is essential. However, escaping from whatever routine I find myself in is absolutely essential to my happiness and here’s why…

In this culture it is very easy to get caught up in a world we have to be productive all the time, always accomplishing goals, always being ‘on track’, but quite often it isn’t until we step away from our daily routines that we realise the strict guidelines we place on ourselves.

This is something that will be different for everyone but even if it’s as simple as stepping away from a ‘bed time’ and ‘wake up time’ that you’ve set for yourself, this can be a huge mental break and help us to escape from a cycle we so easily get caught up in.

Whilst some may find taking a break to be scary, I find it so crucial because it allows me to step back and reassess how I live my life. On return home, good habits will remain, for example, sleeping 8 hours a night. However, more often than not I find this break in routine to push me out of my comfort zone and I often return home with new ideas and inspiration on how I take on the day.

For some a break from routine may help them to escape a strict exercise regime, rigid eating patterns or just help to get out of your normal environment and explore a little.

Whatever it may be, give it a go, try stepping away from your daily routine for a week, even a few days. It’s most likely to refocus you and allow you to rekindle joy in the ordinary.

Emma xx

 

Asian Cucumber Salad (Vegan, Gluten free)

One of the things I love about travelling is trying new dishes and coming home re-inspired and ready to create some of the new foods you’ve come across. Whilst in Florida, we visited an Asian restaurant (Nine Dragons) where I ordered their traditional cucumber salad. In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much but it turned out to be absolutely delicious and I couldn’t wait to recreate it on my return home.

The flavours were so distinct that I had no problem replicating the recipe. It is sweet, yet spicy thanks to the chills but very refreshing. This recipe would make a perfect starter or side dish to any asian inspired meal (it goes particularly well with tofu).

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Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cucumber (approx. 30cm)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1c white wine vinegar
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 2 chilis

Method:

  • Peel the cucumber and cut into 1/2-1 inch sized pieces. Transfer to a colander and wash thoroughly. Fill a bowl with cold water and place the colander of cucumber into the bowl so the cucumber is sitting in the water. Add 1/4 tsp salt and leave to stand for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, finely chop the chilis and add to a frying pan. Fry for 4-5 minutes before adding the vinegar and sugar. Bring to a simmer and stir regularly until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and bring to room temperature.
  • Drain the cucumber and transfer to a glass bowl, pour the mixture over the cucumber, cover and store in the fridge for at lest 24 hours prior to eating.

 

Note: not all of the liquid will be absorbed; when serving, using a draining spoon to lift out the cucumber.

Enjoy,

Emma xx

Gluten Free Vegan in Orlando

If you have been following along with my Instagram, you will know I have spent the last 2 weeks in Orlando, Florida. As a family we have been here many times before but each time the options for eating out just get better and better! Before we get started I just want to say that this is not a blog of necessarily the best vegan eats in Orlando HOWEVER it is a blog about how to find great options wherever you may find yourself. Personally, I don’t want to drag my whole family to an all vegan restaurant that you have to drive an hour to find (after all, it’s their holiday too!) but I do need to eat and like to find tasty creative meals.

To set the scene: Whilst in Orlando, we spent most of our days at DisneyWorld or Universal Studios parks. Evenings where often spent at Disney Springs or cooking in our apartment. We did go to Anne Maria Island for a day however we brought a picnic.

Let’s start with DisneyWorld:

Magic Kingdom 

  • Pecos Bills Tall Tale Inn – Order: Vegetable Bowl (ask for the vegan rice!) then head over to the toppings bar and load up your bowl

  • Main Street Stalls – Butter Popcorn (actually contains no butter!)

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  • Edy’s Ice Cream Plaza – Tofutti (Vanilla and Chocolate) with peanut butter sauce. I got this a few times whilst in Magic Kingdom and it is an absolutely delicious treat for those hot summer days.

 

Animal Kingdom 

  • Tusker House – by far my favourite restaurant! We visit this restaurant every time we are in Florida and although it’s not cheap it is definitely worth the price. Not only is there a great range of delicious options but the atmosphere is second to none! The chef brought me around the whole buffet and explained exactly what I could have and also left a allergy guide with me incase I forgot my options. Options include: Beautiful salads, homemade hummus, chutney, fried plantains, roast potato wedges, rice, vegetables and cookies!
  • Satu’li Canteen – this is defiantly my favourite quick service lunch in the Disney Parks. I ordered the chilli crispy fried tofu bowl with a base of red and sweet potato hash and the green onion vinaigrette. This dish needs no adaptions; fantastic to see vegan options on the menu.

Epcot 

  • Nine Dragons (Chinese) – this was my dad’s birthday pick and despite being very sceptical I was extremely impressed by my options and the service. The only downside was that I only had one choice for each starter and main course, however, both dishes were very well-flavoured and I left feeling very satisfied. Starter was a pickled cucumber salad (unbelievably good!) and for main course I had a tofu vegetable stir fry with boiled rice.
  • Katsura Grill (Japan) – Vegetable sushi with a side order of edamame beans. This was perfect for a quick healthy lunch in the parks.

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I believe Hollywood studios also has some great options for vegans however most days in the parks I snacked on fruit from the snack stalls along with lara bars or oatmeal cookies from walmart. As a family we tend to eat a big breakfast and a big dinner so snacking throughout the day was ideal and also kept the cost down.

Disney Springs

  • Blaze Pizza – we visited 3 times during our stay as it was that good! I did ‘build your own’ pizza each time and started by telling them I was vegan and GF, they will ask if you want a glove change to which I said yes. Once they add the sauce and vegan cheese you can add as many toppings as you want all for the same price!

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  • Erin mckenna’s bakery – again, I visited this all vegan and GF bakery many times throughout our stay. My favourites were the chocolate chip cookie sandwich, vegan soft serve with cookie crumbles and the toastie cupcake! The donuts are also fabulous.
  • Planet Hollywood – options are few but the service was delightful! Our waiter organised another vegan waitress to come to our table and talk to me, she was absolutely lovely and reassured me of what dishes I could have or adapt. I ordered the spinach and berries salad (the caramelised walnuts are to die for!)  to come without the cheese along with the hummus trio (from the starter menu) with corn chips instead of pita (to make it GF). I was very pleasantly surprised by the portion sizes and the flavours.

 

Universal Studios 

Unfortunately, Universal has nothing like the options available in Disney, however, as I mentioned above I picked up fruit from stalls throughout the day and brought some of my own snacks. We didn’t eat in any restaurants here although I’m sure if you spoke to the chef they would be more than accommodating.

NOTE: I found the supermarkets to be wonderful so if possible I would highly recommend staying somewhere with a kitchen to whip up some meals.

Happy Travels,

Emma xx

Chana Masala (Vegan, Gluten Free)

I have been loving chickpeas lately and chana masala is definitely one of my favourite chickpea dishes!

This recipe is perfect for those who like a curry but aren’t great with spice. It is flavoursome and aromatic without that burning spice!

Let’s get into it…

Serves 1 (feel free to double for a larger quantity)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tin chickpeas, drained and washed
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 handful coriander (including stalks) finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 stock cube
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • sprinkle of chilli flakes (can be omitted)
  • 300g chopped tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • salt and pepper to taste

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  • coconut flakes, toasted in the oven for 10 minutes
  • roast cauliflower
  • steamed kale
  • basmati rice
  • fresh coriander
  • spring onion

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, saute the onion, garlic and coriander stalks for 3-4 minutes
  • Add the spices, stock cube, tamari and 1/4c water. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes
  • Add the remaining ingredients, stir well and simmer on a medium heat for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, you can prepare your sides, such as rice, roast cauliflower, kale and toppings such as toasted coconut.
  • Once the chana masala has become thick and cooked through, serve up and enjoy!

Emma xx

Honest Health Update

This blog is long overdue…however, it is only now that I feel ready to share what has happened in the last few years.

Social media isn’t easy; deciding what to share and what not to share. I have always tried to be as open and honest as possible, however, over the past few years I have struggled through something I have shared very little about.

In all honesty, I am still nervous about sharing this part of my life, but my reason for doing so outweighs any feelings I may have. The sole reason for me posting this blog is to hopefully help even one person out there to know they are not alone and to know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

To cut a long story short, I am referring to women’s health and hormonal issues…

As some of you may or may not know, I suffered with anorexia for around 6 years and as many others do, I lost my period. It stopped at the age of 13 (only about 6 months after initially getting it), however, unlike some, it did not return once I returned to a normal weight. 9 years down the line, I have only had my period for the last 3 months.

It is not the lack of menstrual cycle I want to share with you, but more the story behind getting it back. Over the past 5 years, I have been aware of endless blogs, videos, guides etc on how to get your period back naturally, why you shouldn’t go on the pill etc etc. And I just want to say THIS DOESN’T WORK FOR EVERYONE!! and moreover, you shouldn’t feel guilty if you can’t get it back naturally. I spent 5 long years researching and do everything in my power to get it back by natural means, including not exercising, eating significantly more calories than I truly needed, eating higher fat, more carbohydrates, living with little stress…the list is endless. Yet, none of this worked!!

I have never been a fan of using western medicine unless it is absolutely necessary and I have to say in this case it was. After suffering for a long time, my pituitary gland (basically) refused to start producing normal levels of hormones and therefore resulting in a lack of menstrual cycle. Around a year ago, I was prescribed the pill to stimulate hormone production and I have to say this DID NOT work for me. I won’t go into a lot of detail but basically it caused me severe depression, anxiety, constipation, fluid retention etc. At this point I gave up as I couldn’t face putting anything else into my body. However, another year down the line (at the age of 22) I decided this wasn’t right. I was doing damage to my bones (DEXA scan showed I already had osteoporosis) and wasn’t functioning as a normal woman.

And so, 3 months ago, I decided to change this. I had been referred to a HRT (hormone replacement therapy) consultant who understood my condition and my past of mental health problems and she found a hormone treatment that was right for me. No, I am not happy that I have had to resort to synthetic hormones but at this point in my life it was my only option, it was that or do more damage to myself by having no hormones. Not only has this decision given me a period but it also gives me a future.

I would be lying if I said the last 3 months had been easy, after not having significant hormone levels for 9 years, it is a big shock to the system both physically and mentally, however, I want to emphasise the importance of functioning as a ‘normal’ woman. Sometimes it takes a little encouragement to bite the bullet and sort out a problem like this…if that is what you are in need of, let this be your encouragement. Don’t let it go on for 9 years like I did, it only creates more problems.

Some people are lucky enough to get their period back naturally and if you can then great!!! But just know that if you can’t, there are many other options out there. Don’t give up on yourself and your future.

If any of this has resonated with you and you would like to talk personally, please feel free to send me a direct message (IG: emma.cather1ne), I would be only to happy to help.

Emma xx

Peanut Curry with Crispy Tofu (Vegan, Gluten Free)

I love curry, but with this warmer weather I couldn’t face sitting down to a big bowl of hot warming curry.

And so, I have come up with this more summery style curry; including all the flavour without overheating you!

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Note: the crispy tofu could also be added to a salad for an even more refreshing summer dinner

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

Crispy tofu:

  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu (I used tofoo)
  • 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp tamari
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Curry:

  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 heaped tbsp coconut milk powder mixed with 50ml of water (or 1/2 can coconut milk)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • handful coriander (including stalks), finely chopped
  • 3-4 closed cup mushrooms

Extra veggies (optional)

  • 4-5 of each broccoli and cauliflower florets (I roasted in the oven for 30 minutes)
  • 2 carrots, sliced (steamed)

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Method:

  • Begin by cutting your tofu into cubes. Add the remaining crispy tofu ingredients to a bowl, add the cut tofu and stir well, making sure all the tofu is coated. Place the tofu on a baking tray and bake in the oven at 200c for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, add the onion and coriander to a saucepan and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add your spices and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes before adding the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms are slightly browned, add the peanut butter and coconut milk. Stir well and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Once the tofu (and any extra veggies you want) are cooked, pour the curry sauce into a bowl, add in your tofu and veg and top with extra coriander.

I served with rice but would also be great with noodles!

 

Enjoy,

Emma xx

 

BBQ Jackfruit Bowl (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Rewind 6 months…I was travelling up the east coast of Australia, dining in an abundance of vegan restaurants, when I came across the wonder that is JACKFRUIT! I couldn’t imagine how fruit could possibly be used in a savoury dish…nevertheless, I decided to give it a go. The dish on the menu was a jackfruit burrito and was without a doubt one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Since then, I have been dying to make my own jackfruit recipe…

For this recipe I have used a tin of jackfruit (purchased in a local health store) however, if you have access to fresh jackfruit feel free to use it.

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Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin jackfruit
  • 1 tin kidney beans in water, drained and washed
  • 8 tbsp BBQ sauce (I just purchased mine from the supermarket)
  • 1.5 red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped

To serve:

  • kale
  • basmati rice
  • avocado
  • spring onion
  • coriander

 

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, saute the onion and red pepper for 5 minutes. Add the BBQ sauce, kidney beans and jackfruit, simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook your rice, kale or anything else you fancy ( would also be delicious in a sweet potato or wrap!)

And that’s it! A super quick and easy recipe; perfect for those summer evenings.

Enjoy,

Emma

 

 

Easy Vegan Cupcakes!

Celebrating?? or do you just fancy a little afternoon treat? well, either way, these cupcakes will certainly be a hit for the whole family!

Disclaimer: these are not necessarily the healthiest cupcakes but they are delicious and, of course, vegan 😉

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Ingredients: 

Cupcake mixture:

  • 180g plain white flour, sifted
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 240ml plant milk (I used almond)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 112g vegan butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Frosting:

  • 112g vegan butter, softened
  • 350g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Method: 

  • In a measuring jug, combine the milk and lemon juice, set aside and allow to curdle
  • Cream the vegan butter in a mixer, add the sugar and vanilla extract and continue to cream until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes)
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
  • Alternate between adding the flour and milk mixtures until all ingredients are combined.
  • Divide into 12 large or 24 small cupcake cases (3/4 full) and bake in a preheated oven (200c) for 20-25 minutes.
  • Allow to cool completely. Meanwhile cream the butter, icing sugar and vanilla to make the frosting. Top each cupcake with frosting and add sprinkles for some extra colour 😉

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Easy Vegan Cupcakes!

Enjoy,

Emma

 

NOTE: these are not GF, I made them for my best friend!

 

 

Creamy Tomato Pasta (Vegan, Gluten Free)

No matter what the season, who doesn’t love a good pasta dish?! whether it’s a warming bowl in winter or a picnic salad, this recipe makes a quick and delicious meal.

Serves: 1

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1.5c chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp tahini

sauce

Pasta & Veggies:

  • Chickpea pasta (or pasta of your choice)
  • 1c broccoli, chopped
  • 4-5 closed cup mushrooms
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 red pepper

In a pan, sauté the onion and red peppers for 2-3 minutes. Add the spices and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, maple syrup and tahini, cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add to a blender and blend until creamy.

Sauté broccoli, red pepper, red onion and mushrooms (or any other vegetables you wish) in a pan until soft. Meanwhile, boil the pasta as per cooking instructions. When both the vegetables and pasta are cooked, combine and stir in the sauce. Serve with fresh spinach and avocado.

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Enjoy,

Emma xx