Sunday, 16 November 2014

Week Two of the Great Vegan Challenge

These weeks are just flying by and I'm still amazed at how easy I'm finding this challenge. I'm really started to notice the benefits of being vegan now, too. I'm far less bloated than I used to be, and my skin is looking really lovely and clear. Even my hair seems to be in better condition.

This week I've really discovered just how easy it can be to eat out when you're vegan, if you know where to go. I ate out at four different restaurants this week and I was really happy with all of them.  I also mentioned last week that a local falafel bar (Moorish Falafel) sells lovely vegan millionaire's shortbread made with peanut butter, and this week I actually had some around long enough to photograph so I thought I'd share it with you (prepare to drool).

 First up was Pizza Express. They actually have a vegan pizza on their menu (the Pianta) which has spinach, chestnut mushrooms, pine kernels and artichokes on a spicy Arrabiata base. They also state that they'll hold back the cheese on any of their other pizzas if requested, and if you bring in your own sealed, in-date vegan cheese they'll happily put that on your pizza for you. I wasn't actually in the mood for pizza when we went, so instead I opted for the Leggera Superfood Salad without mozzarella and I really enjoyed it.

Second up was GBK. I did a little online research before going and learned that their falafel burger is vegan as long as you ask for it without the cucumber raita and the garlic mayo. I wanted sweet potato fries with my burger, and asked the staff if I could swap the baconnaise that comes with them for the satay sauce, as that's the only vegan sauce they have and they very kindly agreed. The satay sauce actually went really nicely with the sweet potato fries, and the burger was great even without the raita/mayo. It does state on their website though that the falafel burger and fries etc. are fried in the same oil as products including dairy. Personally I'm not that fussed about things like that, but it's something to be aware of if you are.

Third was Nandos. I wasn't actually very hungry when we ate here, so I only ended up having chips with garlic peri peri sauce. But the Nandos site does state that their veggie burger (when ordered without mayo) is vegan friendly, so I'll definitely be trying that next time I go.

Finally was a lovely restaurant in Lowestoft called Daisy's Urban Farm Kitchen. I've been here before when I was just veggie and I was really impressed by their vegetarian menu. A lot of burger joints simply offer up a standard veggie burger and that's it. But Daisy's have a selection of six different burgers which all sound amazing. A number of them are also vegan if you ask for them without mayo/cheese/yoghurt, and if you ask nicely they'll give you the burger without the bun, on a bed of salad. I never eat the bun so of course I love them for that. I remembered to snap a quick picture of my Chickpea, Red Chilli & Sweet Potato burger on my phone, not the best quality but you get the idea.

In terms of cooking at home, James and I haven't actually done much of that this week. We did make a very tasty stir fry, and I was really happy to find that Blue Dragon makes loads of vegan friendly stir fry sauces (and even labels them as vegan friendly). Tesco also had a 3 for 2 offer in their free from section so I took the opportunity to stock up on Alpro dark chocolate soya desserts and nakd bars, which make great snacks and are a really healthy way to satisfy as sweet craving.

Bryony :)

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Comic Book Day: Wytches #2

I'm not sure I'd say I was excited to get the second issue of Wytches this week, as the last issue absolutely terrified me. I got home late last night and decided to wait until the morning to read it as I feared I might have nightmares if I read it before bed, it's that terrifying. Or maybe I'm just a wuss.

I really do love this comic, though. The artwork is stunning and really draws you into the story, I feel like I'm there with the characters. I'm also really impressed at how well the characters have been set up and how much I care about what happens to them and only in the second issue. It's spectacularly written. I like how in this issue it keeps switching between the father, mother and daughter, which really built up a lot of tension for me and made me feel on edge.

Bryony :)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Week One of the Great Vegan Challenge

I've completed my first week of the Great Vegan Challenge. I'm actually a little surprised at how easy it's been, I honestly expected to find myself gently weeping in the cheese aisle of Tesco on day two. But so far, so good! I haven't had any cheese cravings as of yet, and I've eaten a lot of delicious food.

I was really pleased when I realised that Tesco sell a vegan friendly red thai curry paste. James and I have been making some delicious sweet potato and chick pea curries. There's also a great local shop just round the corner from James' that sell vegan millionaire's shortbread made with peanut butter. No I'm not even joking, it's heaven. Plus I'm supporting a local business so everyone's winning.

The discovery that M&S have quite a lot of delicious vegan salads pretty much made my week. They're 2 for £3 and I love them. Any time I can't think of what to have but I need something quick, this is where I go. It's definitely made this week easier on me.

Pinterest has also been a great source of inspiration, I've pinned loads of vegan recipes that I'd like to try over the next few weeks. Here are a few of my favourites:

If you'd like to share any of your favourite vegan recipes with me, I'd love to hear them! Hopefully the next week will be as easy as the first.

Bryony :)

Friday, 7 November 2014

Comic Book Day: Gotham Academy #2

This week I picked up the second issue of Gotham Academy. I really enjoyed the first issue, but you can't always tell much from that so I was eager to see if the second issue was as good as the first. There were parts of this issue where all the High School drama got a little tedious for me, but considering it's set in a school that's to be expected.

I loved the cover for this issue, I have to say that I'm really liking Olive Silverlock as a character (and I kind of want her hair) and this cover just makes me want to be her even more.

This little reference to 'sweer potato' made me laugh out loud. James has made me watch this youtube video over and over again because he finds it so hilarious, so I couldn't help but chuckle when I noticed this. I do enjoy a sneaky reference, especially when it's something I actually get!

My absolute favourite part was in the last few pages where Olive really started to come into her own. Just look at this page. How awesome does Olive look? I can't wait to see where this goes because I think Olive is about to get even more brilliant. Can I just be her already?

Bryony :)

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Deck the Halls!

My housemate texted me on Monday saying she felt like getting a Christmas tree for the house. Having lived in a house where my mum would barely remember to decorate until about two days before Christmas, I jumped at the chance to get festive early on. Some may think that early November is too soon but I don't care!

We popped down to Wilko and picked up a cute little 4ft tree, some lights and a few decorations. We also made a trip to QD and the 99p store for a few extra cheap bits and pieces. Then we spent a good two hours decorating the house, it's so beautiful and festive now. We're definitely not done, though. I want to get some bits to put in the windows and I'm keeping an eye out for any other cute pieces we can add.

I had to buy the candy canes, a tree just isn't complete without some. Though I can't say how many will still be left by Christmas Day, I'm already having to fend James off every time he comes round. We also picked up a couple of cute wall decorations. Some gold snowflakes and some heart shaped bunting. The bunting is so adorable and not overly Christmassy, so I think we could get away with leaving it up after Christmas.

While we were in QD we discovered these fantastic tartan blankets, they're ridiculously soft and are fluffy on the back so perfect for snuggling under when it's chilly. The best part is they're only £10! We bought two, one for each sofa and I am officially in love.

Now the nights are drawing in I'm so happy our house is looking all cosy and festive. Tesco have also started selling mulled, so what better way to spend an evening than snuggled up under a toasty blanket, Christmas lights flashing away and a warm glass of mulled wine?

Bryony :)

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Breville Blend Active + Smoothie Recipe

A few friends of mine own Breville Blend Active Blenders and have said how great they are. I've been thinking about investing in one for a while and when I saw it was only £20 on amazon I decided to treat myself. It arrived a couple of days later and I couldn't wait to try it out. It's so simple to use, you just fill the bottle with whatever ingredients you want, screw on the blade and lock it in to the base then away you go.

When I first started this blog I posted about my love of smoothies and said I wanted to start adding some greens to them. Recently I've been doing just that. Of course my first smoothie with my new blender contained some spinach.

For this smoothie I used:

1 banana
Frozen spinach
Frozen blueberries
Frozen raspberries
Almond milk

I popped as much of the above as I could cram into the bottle and then blended it all together. The great thing about these bottles is that once you've blended it you can just unscrew the blade and screw on a lid and off you go. But seeing as I wasn't going anywhere with my smoothie I decided to pour mine into one of my lovely mason jars (any excuse to use them, really).

Doesn't that look delicious? And you'd never know there was any spinach in it. So good!

Bryony :)

Monday, 3 November 2014

My first time Bouldering

Last Thursday I went Bouldering for the first time ever. I've been rope climbing before when I was younger and absolutely hated it, so when my friends (who are regular climbers) kept asking me to try it with them I wasn't at all keen at first. But eventually I decided to give it a go, I had an evening free and I figured what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

We went to a place called Highball, which is near the airport in Norwich. As soon as we pulled in to the car park I got really excited as I realised it was in the same building as Bedlam used to be. If only we really were going to Bedlam... so many wonderful childhood memories.

It turned out to be almost as good as Bedlam, though. I have a terrible fear of heights and the thought of climbing without a rope seemed terrifying to me. But they have these really cushioned mats that mean even if you fall from the top you're absolutely fine, which definitely helped me feel calmer.

At first I was a little shaky, but once I'd gone up a few times I felt more confident. I found that because I was focussing on where I needed to put my hands and feed to climb up, I didn't really notice the height at all. Plus once I realised I could jump down from the top without hurting myself I stopped worrying about falling.

I did get a bit of scare at the top of one wall, once I grabbed the top hold I wobbled a little and felt like I was going to fall off. It freaked me out a bit and luckily my friends were there to talk to me and help me get down. The next wall I tried I had my first fall, which actually made me realise that falling isn't at all bad so it made me braver.

I started to take more risks and go for holds that were a little out of reach, I generally fell every time but I still enjoyed myself. I've got a couple of tasty looking bruises now. You also don't even realise what a great workout it is. You're too busy thinking about climbing to even realise you're working out. But boy am I sore today! My hands and wrists are so weak! It's a great core workout too, and I love a good core workout.

I'm definitely going to go back, probably not every week as I doubt I can afford it. But I really enjoyed myself and I'd like to get better so hopefully I can make it a monthly thing. I definitely need to do more upper body work at the gym though, my arms got tired ridiculously quickly.

Bryony :)