Saturday, 24 June 2017

VEGAN IN COPENHAGEN [VIDEO]

I spent a few days in Copenhagen and had an incredible time, packing in a ton of fun, exploration, food, and even education (attended a start-up event at the Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship). I got to hang out and discuss grand ideas with friend and fellow creator, Sofia of Vegan Watching and GUTXY. I left feeling inspired, recharged and ready to take on life. More so than usual, anyway :)

The video below captures a handful of moments from my trip, but more importantly provides some insight into some of the vegan options available around the city. I hope it whets your appetite, ignites your wanderlust, and encourages you to book the next flight out to Copenhagen. Happy watching!


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

GROUNDNUT (PEANUT) STEW | Healthy & Oil-Free



A quick search online will reveal that there are multiple interpretations of this African dish. From Nigeria to Mali to Ghana to Cameroon, everyone's got a version. This one's mine - a pretty stripped down, healthy but utterly delicious take on it. Touch of sweetness from the groundnut, heat from the scotch bonnet, all round creaminess of the stew...I could go on.

Why oil-free, you may ask? Because groundnut (aka peanuts) are already high in fat and contain their own natural oils. Adding oil seemed gratuitous to me (although the flavour of palm oil in this would probably be bomb, but still...hmm).

Couple of quick notes with this recipe: I haven't specified the type of mushrooms to use, but the meatier the better really. I happened to have some shiitake mushrooms at home and it worked great. Use whatever you can find. Also, the nuts are lightly roasted with some chilli, but feel free to use plain/lightly salted. Just make sure the flavours are balanced by tasting as you go along.

That's about it. Simple, quick, healthy and tasty - everything a meal should be. Eat it with fufu, rice, pounded yam, bread, or any other starchy food that exists in the world.

Ingredients
serves 4
- 1 cup lightly toasted groundnut (peanuts)
- 6 fresh tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 small red onion
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- water
- mushrooms
- 1 bunch fresh basil (roughly chopped)
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns

Method

1. Blend the peanuts until you have a crumbly paste (sorta similar to crunchy peanut butter)

2. Blend the peppers, onion and tomatoes with a cup of water until smooth

3. Pour the pepper blend into a pot/saucepan and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, medium-high heat

4. Stir in the groundnut paste. At this point, it will thicken rapidly. Add some water to loosen the stew and turn the heat down (medium-low)

5. Add the mushrooms

6. Season with salt and black peppercorns

7. Add the roughly chopped basil and simmer for another 2 minutes

Done!

Friday, 12 May 2017

AKARA BURGERS [VIDEO]

Or 'Akara Revisited' because I already have a post for this fabulous recipe. Here, I simply go into how I ended up turning akara into burgers and I share my latest YouTube video showing you exactly how to make this popular Nigerian snack/breakfast food.

A couple of weeks back, I hosted another Airbnb private dinner (find out more about that here) and featured akara in the second course of the menu. In my enthusiasm, I ended up making enough batter to feed an army. I'd always wanted to experiment using akara in a burger - a Nigerian take on a good ol' bean burger, if you will. And that's exactly what I did. Loaded some bread rolls with shallow-fired akara 'patties', leafy greens, tomatoes, sliced gherkins and the queen of burger sauces (in my opinion): ketchup. Simple but so darn tasty that I had to have it for dinner two nights in a row.





































If you fancy giving this a try, then check out my video below which offers a step-by-step guide on how to make akara (including a super useful hack for the difficult peeling part of the process). As always, let me know what you think by leaving a comment below or joining me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.



Thursday, 13 April 2017

SARX: CHRISTIAN ANIMAL WELFARE (INTERVIEW WITH DARYL BOOTH)


"...to abuse creation is to disregard the Creator." - sarx.org.uk 


So I recently attended the Sarx Creature Conference which took place on Saturday 18th March at Oasis Auditorium, Waterloo. The one-day conference brought together the largest gathering of Christians concerned about animal welfare, providing attendees with an opportunity to engage theologically with the issue, discover relevant resources and connect with others with similar convictions. A separate post on the event is yet to come, with some of my own personal thoughts thrown in there too, but first a spotlight on one of the faces behind the charity organisation.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Daryl Booth, founder of Sarx and key organiser of the conference, and what an enlightening discussion it turned out to be.

About the Founder

Growing up in the Isle of Wight and being surrounded by nature from an early age, Daryl inevitably developed an interest in natural history and animals. It was later in life that he connected the dots between his faith and the issue of animal welfare - a connection, he explains, which enlivened his belief in God. Here was a God who, far from being distant or indifferent, had a profound love for every aspect of His creation. Daryl's switch to a vegan diet was a gradual process, spurred on by his increased engagement with animal theology and the deeper connections he was able to draw through his study.

Origins of Sarx

Founded less than three years ago, Sarx was borne from the simple conviction that animal welfare is and should be a faith matter, and that something needed to be done to push this to the forefront. Daryl brought together a team of like-minded individuals, including founding member Dr Kerry Young. By pooling their resources together, touching base with some of the leading experts in animal theology, and consistently posting relevant and thought-provoking information on their official website, Sarx has grown to be what it is today: a thriving community that includes over 23,000 followers across Facebook and Twitter. One of the primary aims of Sarx is to make animal theology accessible and relevant to new audiences, and Daryl explains that one of the ways that they go about achieving this is through speaking engagements - engagements that have seen them touch base in various churches across London (Richmond, St Pancras, Croydon), and beyond in places like Leeds, Oxford, Woking, and the Isle of Wight. When I ask about the general response generated from such speaking events, I am told that rather than being dismissive, audience members are usually either incredibly intrigued or simply concerned about what changes they can or should make.

Veganism vs Eating/Living Peaceably

When it comes to speaking explicitly about veganism or vegetarianism when addressing crowds, Daryl asserts that he avoids using those terms altogether. Although I am initially surprised by this decision, his explanation actually makes me appreciate the value of such an approach. The terms veganism and vegetarianism, he reasons, are an awkward fit in the context of biblical discussions. He prefers the terms 'eating peaceably' and 'living peaceably', and insists that focusing on what the Bible actually says about animals and how God views animals as part of his creation is a far more effective way of capturing the minds and hearts of his listeners. Equally as effective is his reference to prominent Christians of the past who were devoted to animal welfare, for example, William Booth and William Wilberforce, both of whom were vegetarians in their time. The distinctive interpretation of how the Bible wants us to regard animals as part of God's wonderful creation, he argues, is what leads people to connect the dots for themselves. While the weighty word 'vegan' can certainly cause a few to get defensive, and also lead them to find reasons not to embrace a lifestyle change, the focus on compassion and on our role as stewards, and the reinforcement of the lovingness of nature, is often powerful enough to evoke a real shift in conviction.

Dealing with Difficult Questions

Surely the difficult questions must come. You know, the ones that refer to the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament. Or to the fact that Jesus and his disciples ate fish (Christians love to bring that one up a lot). Or to the fact that nowhere in the Bible does it state outright that we should not eat meat.
All valid points. Points that, on the surface, should prove that animal welfare and Christianity are totally incompatible. BUT. These questions in themselves, Daryl explains, are defensive questions, designed to assist the asker in determining what they can get away with. Rather than asking questions such as 'is it a sin to eat meat?' Daryl advocates shifting the focus to grace. Since we are saved by grace and respond to God's will from a place of love and not mere duty (i.e. we are saved by grace and not by works, so the good we do is not to earn God's love but rather to acknowledge and revel in it), the question should rather be: as individuals living in the 21st century where the killing of animals is not essential to our survival, and in light of the cruelty and destruction that comes as a direct result of the industrial farming methods of today, is there a better way to respond as Christians? In looking at the way we treat animals and creation today, would God be pleased? It is by engaging directly with the facts surrounding animal welfare and weighing it against our position as stewards that each individual can come to an informed decision. 

Looking Forward

I'm curious as to how optimistic Daryl is about the future of animal welfare and Christianity, and he doesn't hesitate to respond that he is convinced that it will be a fast-growing movement. He poetically alludes to the scene in the Oscar-winning movie 'There Will Be Blood' where Daniel Day-Lewis' character treads upon untapped soil where oil runs deep. The potential is palpable, soon to be unleashed. Daryl explains that similarly, the issue of animal welfare in Christian circles has been lying dormant, with few mildly aware but waiting for someone to talk about it; to give it a voice. The increasing enthusiasm for the topic is unmistakable and manifesting itself in different ways. Since the Creature Conference, Daryl describes how he and the team at Sarx have received widespread interest from the press, along with an influx of requests for speaking engagements, both at home and abroad, and even a knock on the door from the folks over at BBC's Songs of Praise. Things are certainly looking bright.

Top Tips

Daryl offers a few tips for Christians who want to engage with these issues and share with the people in their lives. Firstly, perseverance is key because this concern is currently at the fringe of church culture. While culture may not be on your side just yet, he points out, Christianity certainly is, and you only have to read the scriptures to be encouraged and see that we do in fact have a pro-animal God, whose concern is not just for us, but for his entire creation, and that He intends for us to live at peace with the world. The message of causing the least harm to God's creation is good news worth talking about, worth considering, worth getting behind. Daryl further encourages Christians to be equipped with knowledge and sites his top three books to get you started:

1) For the Love of Animals by Charles Camosy



2) A Faith Embracing all Creatures: Addresses Commonly Asked Questions about Christian Care for Animals, edited by Tripp York



3) Is God a Vegetarian by Richard Alan Young



And Finally...

... because I can't resist throwing in a trivial question and because this is predominantly a food blog after all, I ask Daryl to divulge his favourite vegan meal. His conclusion: a vegan fry up. Can't argue with that :)

Connect. You know the drill:

Visit the official Sarx website.
Follow Sarx on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

VEGAN NIGERIAN DINNER PARTY (POP-UP #8)

Photo credit: Richard Duebel
































From a fun-filled hen party, to unexpected surprises, to learning the age-old lesson that it is always better to cook too much than too little (or even just enough!), my dinner party/pop-up on the 25th was nothing short of eventful. Crazy how the learning never stops even after eight of these events. The beauty of the pop-up concept though: refining methods, testing out ideas, seeing what works and what doesn't, dipping into the experience of running a restaurant without the drowning that comes with managing one full time. 

As always, eternally grateful to friends and family for their help. Eternally grateful to the supportive guests who brought their good humour and appetites. I wish I could have spent more time chatting to everyone, as was my original intention.  

Thank you to Sylvia and Richard for the photography, filming, interviews, and imminent feature (and for being lovely in general!).

Thank you to Dawn once again for the delicious sugarcane juice (visit: thecanepress.co.uk)

Thank you even to the handful of people who kept it real and drew attention to some valuable points for future improvement. Criticism only breeds strength. 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

REFINED SUGAR-FREE VEGAN CAKE
























In this recipe, I propose that you swap refined sugar for whole dates and organic maple syrup.
Using the technique in the instructions below, it still comes out as soft and spongy as any regular cake.

As I'm sure you know, there are several good reasons to cut back on refined sugar, from lowering your risk of diabetes, to achieving clearer skin, to lowering blood pressure and decreasing your risk of a heart attack. Pretty heavy stuff when you think about it. But rather than sinking into despair, I prefer the good ol' approach of making small changes here and there, swapping the bad for the good where possible, and getting clued up on how to make better choices.

Ingredients
- 2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
- 2 heap tbsp solid coconut oil
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
 - 1 cup pitted dates (soaked and drained)
- 3/4 cup organic maple syrup
- 1/4 cup warm water

In a large bowl, mix the flours, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder together. Add the solid coconut oil and rub into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Place the warm water, maple syrup and pre-soaked dates in a blender and whiz until you have the consistency of a frothy, thick syrup.

Add the syrupy mixture to the flour and combine until you have a smooth cake batter. Pour into a lightly greased cake tin and bake in a pre-heated oven, 180C, for about 25-30 minutes. To check if it is cooked all the way through, poke a skewer through the middle of the cake - if it comes out clean, then it's good to go. If not, give it a few extra minutes.


Saturday, 4 March 2017

VEGAN IN SINGAPORE | PLACES TO EAT [VIDEO]



Better late than never, I s'pose :)

This video is a compilation of all the foodie clips I was able to capture during my trip to Singapore back in December. The main objective of the trip was to attend two very special occasions, and when I wasn't caught up in the excitement of celebrating, connecting and reconnecting with friends old and new, I had a lot of fun exploring what the country had to offer in terms of vegan food options.

Planning a trip to Singapore? Got any specific questions about being a vegan traveller/tourist in Singapore? Comment below and I'll do my best to answer.

And now for a few food pics:

Thai Express - Mock chicken stir-fry
Thai Express - Bean curd,  greens, rice...


Thai Express - Veggie dumplings <3


VeganBurg - Veggie burger and seaweed fries

LingZhi - Brown fried rice

Nature Cafe - Beancurd...

Pita Pan - Falafel, hummus, salsa, veg...

Pita Pan

Chinatown Hawker Centre

Chinatown - Sugarcane juice

Chinatown - dragonfruit juice

Chinatown - popiah

Thursday, 23 February 2017

VEGAN SOURCES OF PROTEIN IN NIGERIA

Where do you get your protein from?

I don't hate that question as much as I used to. Now I just launch into a well-rehearsed list of protein-rich foods and call it a day. Only takes a second.

I got an email from a reader based in Nigeria recently. The main concern was - you guessed it - what to eat to get enough protein. It got me thinking that a post on the topic was about due and would probably come in handy for others with the same query.

In no particular order, here's a list of plant-based foods that are high in protein and can be found easily across Nigeria. I've also included a list of suggested recipes where possible, just in case you're interested in bringing these ingredients to life. This is by no means an exhaustive list and I imagine that I will have to keep revisiting this post and adding to the list as other foods come to mind. If you think I've missed any, feel free to leave a comment down below.

1. Beans - brown beans, black-eyed beans, soybeans...

Suggested recipes: adalu, beans and rice, moin moin, akara, ewa (bean porridge)



















2. Nuts - groundnut, cashew nut, peanut butter, nut milks...

Suggested recipes: boli and groundnut, truffles, chocolate/peanut muffins, soaked garri and groundnut



















3. Leafy greens - spinach (efo tete), bitter leaf (ewuro), water leaf (gbure), afang, ugu...

Suggested recipes: bitterleaf soup, efo riro and pounded yam, green smoothie

















4. Egusi (melon seeds)

Suggested recipes: egusi soup



















5. Wara (Tofu) 

Suggested recipes: sauced tofu and plantain, yam and scrambled tofu



6. Oatmeal

Suggested recipes: porridge, banana/oat pancakes, oaty breakfast bars



















7. Maize/Corn

8. Pigeon Pea

9. Guava

10. Millet

11. Green peas

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

AIRBNB RELISH VEGAN NIGERIAN CUISINE #1 [PICTURES]

A few snaps from my first Airbnb 'Relish Vegan Nigerian Cuisine' dinner experience on Saturday 19th February.

Read more about my work with Airbnb and how you can take part here! 










Sunday, 5 February 2017

SUGARCANE JUICE BY THE CANE PRESS [VIDEO]



Attendees at my 6th pop-up last October will no doubt remember Dawn and her delicious, freshly made sugarcane juice. Formerly called Guarapo, The Cane Press was founded by Dawn to bring this sweet + unique taste of the tropics to the UK.

Earlier this year, she secured a permanent spot in Peckham, and so I took a wander down on Saturday for a surprise visit and what turned out to be a fantastic afternoon of learning a bit more about sugarcane, sipping on some refreshing cane/lime/lemon/chia juice, and even getting a mini guided tour of the (pretty cool and funky) area.

Enjoy the little vid I put together, but more importantly, get yourself down to Peckham and support this lovely lady :)

Where to find The Cane Press: 125a Rye Lane, Peckham, London.




Monday, 23 January 2017

PARTNERING WITH AIRBNB - 'RELISH VEGAN NIGERIAN CUISINE'


Towards the end of last year, I received an enthusiastic email from a manager at Airbnb who'd come across my blog through a brief feature on the Londonist website. In the email was an invitation to check out the beta version of Airbnb's new 'Experiences' feature on their app. 


Airbnb 'Experiences' (launched officially in mid-November) are all about giving travellers the opportunity to get a taste of local culture and try something unique during their time in a particular city. So far the project has been launched in 12 cities, including London, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, Cape Town and Seoul, to name a few. Within these cities, hosts - made up of individuals from various creative walks of life - design and lead bespoke experiences that are immersive, memorable and a little off the beaten track. This is why you'll get anything from pottery masterclasses to a tour of London's grime scene to food tastings.

I was instantly interested in the project and it didn't take much to convince me to sign up as a host. What followed was a month or two of working with the team virtually to build a profile on the app. The project got real when we had a photoshoot during the 6th instalment of The Vegan Nigerian Pop-Up Restaurant. The promotional shots and video footage went towards spicing up the app profile, providing a general overview of what guests can expect.

There are many similarities between the experience I'll be offering and the pop-ups I've hosted so far. Just a bit more amped up. My Airbnb experience is called Relish Vegan Nigerian Cuisine, an intimate dining event for 4-10 guests at a time, which will play out over two hours and will be accentuated by specially curated Nigerian music and interactive discussions around vegan/Nigerian cuisine.

If you've followed my blog for a while, happen to live in another part of the world, and ever find yourself planning a trip to London, then you now have the option to see vegan Nigerian food brought to life. Simply look me up on the app and book a spot on one of the many evenings I've indicated on my event calendar.  

For anyone wondering what this means for the future of my current pop-ups, the short answer is that I plan to continue, but will be hosting them less frequently. Rather than every month, I'll likely organise one once every 2-3 months. I see this as a positive and sensible step because it means I'll have more time to plan and put loads of careful thought into the running/execution of the pop-ups, which should hopefully make the events more enjoyable for guests in general. It means I can even start to plan towards one-off pop-ups in fresh locations around the world. To find out when the next one is, by the way, keep up with me on here by subscribing to the website (enter your email in the little 'Subscribe' box in the top right sidebar), as well as my social media channels: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

I look forward to sharing more with you along this journey and am extremely excited about what this opportunity means for the continued celebration of Nigerian AND vegan food.

Pop-Up #6 - October 2016

Sunday, 22 January 2017

DOUBLE CHOC CHIA SEED COOKIES

Cookies. Mmm. Need I say more?

Well, the other day at work, chocolate cookies were being passed around and I couldn't have any because they weren't vegan (cue violin music), and so I dashed home right bang in the middle of the work day with the resolve to make some. That's right... bolted straight for the door, tore through the nearest supermarket in a blind frenzy as I piled chocolate cookie ingredients into my shopping basket, and then locked myself away in the kitchen for hours on end until I had my precious, perfect vegan cookies in hand. 

No. It wasn't that dramatic. I actually waited until the weekend. And the cookies only took about 25 minutes to make. And if you believed any of that for even a second, then shame on you. Vegans aren't that weird and unprofessional. Mostly.

I added chia seeds to this recipe because I happen to have a whole 500g sample pack of the stuff, which I got at the last vegan fair I attended. They need using up, and thankfully they add a nice crunch. Also, that jelly-like texture you get when you chew them long enough is quite something. As well as being extremely high in fibre, chia seeds are also a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. If you can get your hands on them, yay extra nutrients! If not, this recipe works just as well without.
























Ingredients 
(makes 12)
- 1 cup plain or wholemeal or gluten-free flour
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup raw cane sugar
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 4 tbsp vegan margarine or solid coconut oil
- 1 cup chocolate chunks (i.e. dark chocolate chopped up into bits)
- 1/4 cup water

1. Place the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, chia seeds, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the vegan margarine or coconut oil and rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the chocolate chunks.

4. Add the water and combine the mixture to form a cookie dough. The water might seem really little at first, but keep mixing and the dough should come together.

5. Divide the cookie dough into 12 lumps and space these out on a lined baking tray. Flatten the cookies lightly with a fork (or with clean fingers) to form round cookie shapes. It's okay if they're a little rough around the edges...it adds to the whole rustic-homemade-cookie-look-thing.

6. Bake in a pre-heated oven, 180'C for 15 minutes. Once baked, leave to cool on the tray for about 10 minutes, then transfer onto a cooling rack for another 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, 6 January 2017

MASHOOQ DEEP PENETRATING HAIR OIL [REVIEW]

It's been a minute since I've done a beauty product review. Let's get into it.

First off, a quick description of what I'm reviewing...

Mashooq Deep Penetrating Oil is a versatile hair oil that has been used for many years by hairdressing professionals. It can be used as a deep conditioner; to protect against heat and chemicals; treat dry scalps, and repair brittle hair. It contains a blend of six natural oils, including coconut, sweet almond, olive, sunflower, palm and wheat germ. You'll be glad to know that it's vegan and free from parabens, preservatives and added colours. 

Although I've read that this oil blend is suitable for all hair types, I am going to be discussing its effectiveness on curly/coily afro hair, for obvious reasons. For those who also rock their natural afro hair, I'm sure you'll agree that keeping our hair hydrated, shiny and nourished can sometimes be such a struggle. Especially when you're as lazy as I am when it comes to hair care! Seriously, I have so much respect for anyone who can spend longer than 20 minutes on their hair without wanting to punch a wall... Anyway, when I think of the insane number of hair products out there on the market promising to deliver on all these key areas, I feel mildly exhausted. I'm a simple girl and I like simple solutions. For example, when I discovered shea butter a few years ago, it very quickly became my single go-to hair product. Melt a bit in the microwave, massage through my hair and scalp... done! You can never go too wrong with nature, and for anyone who wants to cut back on chemical-laden products, I highly recommend turning to natural plant oils and butters.

It is for this reason that I was keen to give Mashooq hair oil a try, it being made up of six natural oils and all. The added bonus is that the product is cruelty-free (i.e. not tested on animals). I used it fairly consistently for a couple weeks, allowing me to get a full sense of how well it works. 

At first, I considered using the oil as a pre-shampoo conditioner to rejuvenate my hair (this is what I've been told happens when you oil your hair before washing it), but the thought of going on to wash all those lovely oils down the drain didn't seem right, and so I used it AFTER washing, applying it to my still damp hair. The combination of the water and oil, and then allowing my hair to dry naturally, created wonderful results. My strands looked visibly shiny and I also experienced less flakiness on my scalp in the few days that followed. I have pretty thick hair, but I found I didn't need to use too much of the oil at a time (generally one capful).

There is a light, almost sweet scent to the oil which isn't unpleasant or overpowering. I imagine you can get away with adding a few drops of your favourite fragrance/essential oils to change things up a bit. Lavender maybe? Tea tree oil?

Another plus is that the oil didn't leave my hair feeling greasy, nor did it clog up my scalp. As the name suggests, the oil penetrates and gets absorbed easily.

I had a positive experience with the hair oil overall and think it is worth checking out. This particular product, along with a range of others, can be found on their official website mashooqhair.com. They come in travel size bottles, 100ml, 250ml, and large 500ml bottles, with a price range of £2.99 to £22.99.

You can also keep up with Mashooq on Twitter and Facebook for more tips on caring for your hair! ;)