Saturday, 3 October 2015


'She's a vegetarian. He's a carnivore. Will it be a table for one?'

It's always a great feeling when your passions align. For those who don't already know, my background is in English and French literature/language - my degree for four years between 2010-2014. Before cooking and blogging, there was reading and writing. Now all these elements co-exist in my world.

When I was asked to review the novel, The Green and the Red, there was no way to contain my excitement. The book is written by French author and journalist, Armand Chauvel, and translated into English by Elisabeth Lyman. It features a vegetarian protagonist named Léa who is a chef struggling to keep her restaurant, La Dame Verte, going in the small town of Rennes in Brittany. Thrown into the mix is Mathieu, a marketing director at one of the biggest pork producers in town. In order to get his hands on the restaurant's real estate for a pork museum project, he poses as a vegetarian to gather relevant financial information from Léa.

The novel adheres to the romantic novel genre with its tale of the unlikely attraction between Léa and Mathieu, and the many obstacles (often comical and entertaining) that continuously crop up to deter their union. What saves the novel from merely being another generic chick-lit, however, is its intelligent and thoughtful treatment of animal rights, agriculture and human motivations for dietary choices, all of which simultaneously propel the novel into the eco-literature genre. These issues are imaginatively woven into the novel via the conversations that take place between characters, and so the facts are presented in easily digestible bites. With such a heavy and controversial subject matter, one would have understood if the novel took on an overbearing, moralistic tone. But Chauvel succeeds in softening the didacticism by presenting important ethical issues in a light-hearted context.

There's something for everyone in this novel. Both vegetarians/vegans and meat-eaters are shown at their best and at their worst, no one gets off easy and as a result, there are several hilarious moments to make you laugh out loud or roll your eyes as you relate to one character or another. On the one hand, for example, the character Pervenche (Léa's outspoken, passive-aggressive sous-chef) represents the extremist, intolerant side that can rear its head in the vegan movement. On the other, we have Mathieu's boss, Auguste Nedelec, who is a hyperbolic caricature of a vegetarian-hating omnivore. In the end, the message is clear that both sides have a lot to learn from each other when it comes to living and acting in tolerance.

Now, how can I write about this novel without bringing up the FOOD! Léa's passion for plant-based cuisine and experimentation leap off the pages - from her quest to 'veganise' foie gras to her mouth-watering creations such as pumpkin wonton soup and flourless chocolate cake. I'm yet to find a literary character that I relate to so much on a foodie level. The culinary descriptions are a delight to the senses, adding to the charm of the novel as a whole.

If you're after a light read that combines romance, food and contemporary animal rights issues, then I suggest you give this novel a try. Elisabeth Lyman does a great job at bringing the story to life for the English-speaking audience, making the story flow effortlessly and capturing the nuances of French culture and language. The way I see it, the future is bright for eco-literature and its potential to reach the minds and hearts of readers; I am excited to see how the genre evolves!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015


I've been sporting my natural hair for about 4 years now and as great as it is to wear my hair this way (I can't imagine ever going back to hair relaxers), there are times when I let it slip to the point of being difficult to manage. I'm talking dry, tangled and messy. 

So recently I decided it needed a bit of extra TLC and some serious deep conditioning. A lot of hair conditioners out there contain ingredients with animal products such as egg yolks, mayonnaise and yoghurt, and so it made sense to make my own from scratch. I'm sure it's pretty easy to get a hold of vegan conditioners online or in speciality stores, but where's the fun in that? Much more interesting to put together a concoction. 
This deep conditioning mousse is lightweight, moisturising, nourishing and excellent for detangling dry, knotty hair. My hair is thick and full so this recipe was enough to cover my whole head. Adjust quantities in the future if you feel you need more or less of it.

How to use:
1. Divide hair into six small sections
2. Apply conditioner one section at a time, massaging from root to tip
3. Cover entire head with a shower cap
4. Leave to rest for 2 hours minimum, overnight if possible
5. Rinse hair and wash as normal

- 250ml coconut cream
- 1 banana
- 1/2 avocado
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- juice of 1 lime
- 4 tbsp coconut oil (melted)

Blend the coconut cream, avocado and banana in a food processor until you have a thick mousse.

Strain the mousse to get rid of any lumps. The last thing you want is to pick out bits of banana from your 'fro.

Add the coconut oil, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Mix well and transfer into a small plastic container.

Monday, 7 September 2015


If you haven't come across aquafaba yet, then it's time to get in the know. I found out about it a few months ago while searching for a vegan meringue recipe and I've been fascinated by it ever since.

Aquafaba refers to the brine you get in a can of chickpeas (and as I've discovered, the brine from butter beans work quite well too). This unassuming liquid can be used as an egg replacer in a host of vegan recipes, most notably for meringue. For a visual on how this works, you can check out my short YouTube video below on how to make vegan meringue.

As for this particular recipe, the meringue is used as the base for the macaron batter. For the filling, I've gone for a raw, sugar-free mango cashew cream that can be whipped up in a matter of seconds. It's a fun alternative to the usual ganache or buttercream filling. Hope you like it, give it a try and experiment with other flavours.

*Note: Best to consume on the same day as the macarons soak up the moisture from the mango-cashew cream overnight!

For the macarons:
- liquid from 1 can of chickpeas
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup ground almonds
- chopped mango

For the mango cashew cream filling:
- 1/2 cup ground cashews
- 1 cup soaked cashews
- 1 ripe mango

To make the macarons, whisk the chickpea brine, cream of tartar, icing sugar and vanilla on high speed for 10-15 minutes until solid peaks form (watch the YouTube tutorial video).

Add the ground almonds and beat the mixture with a spoon until well combined...don't worry too much about losing air bubbles. You want a glossy, smooth batter.

Transfer the mixture into a piping bag and pipe flat rounds that are roughly the same size onto a tray lined with baking paper. 

Top half the macaron rounds with a little chopped mango and extra chopped almonds.

Leave the macarons in a warm place and allow them to dry out slightly for 3-4 hours (or overnight if possible).

Bake in the oven at 100°C for 20-25 minutes. Leave them to cool completely before peeling them off the baking paper.

To make the filling, blend the ground cashews, soaked cashews and ripe mango until you have a thick, creamy consistency. Place in the freezer for about 1 hour to allow it to thicken some more.

Sandwich the macarons together with generous amounts of the mango cashew filling. Done!

Sunday, 23 August 2015


I've got some exciting news to share!

I will be doing a COOKING DEMO at this year's VegFest in London (October 10th). 

If you're in the city, come enjoy what should be a fantastic event and come watch me cook jollof rice live. I've never done anything like this before so should be interessttiinngg... Considering the fact that I tend to avoid public speaking at all costs, I feel as though this gives me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone a little bit. First time for everything and all that good stuff. If you've got any tips and tricks on presenting, then drop me a line...seriously. I make no promises, but if I get the chance to film the whole thing, I'll put it up on my YouTube channel for anyone who can't make it or for anyone who's vaguely interested ;)

For more info, visit the London VegFest website.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Friday, 7 August 2015


For this to take 10 minutes, it does require you to have some leftover cooked rice on hand to speed up the process. With that as a base, you can go to town with what else you throw in there. This is a version I've made a number of times now as there is nothing fancy or complicated about it - perfect for those evenings when I can't be bothered to spend ages in the kitchen but still want something filling and deliciously savoury. Always served with a side of broccoli just so I can up my intake of greens .

(serves 2)
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1/2 red onion (chopped)
- 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper (chopped)
- 1-2 vegan sausages (chopped) OR replace with 1/2 cup cooked beans/lentils
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp curry powder

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the chopped vegetables and vegan sausage (or cooked beans/lentils) for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the cooked rice, thyme and curry to the pan. Keep stirring and combine all the ingredients for another 5 minutes until the rice is heated all the way through.
Serve with your favourite steamed vegetables.

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