Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Detoxifying Green Smoothie for Flawless Skin

My relationship with make-up is one of indifference. It wasn't always that way. I remember being in my early teens and eagerly looking forward to the day I could start experimenting with lipstick, eye shadow and all other face-painting rituals that have been adopted since the dawn of time. Then the years rolled on, I became old enough to start wearing the stuff, and lo-and-behold I found that I just didn't care. I'm not anti-make-up though because once in a while, if I'm in the mood or if a fancy occasion calls for it, I'll dab on a little lipstick or throw on some mascara. Otherwise, I go about my business bare-faced and au naturel. The decision to wear or not wear make-up should always be a woman's choice and there certainly shouldn't be any judgement on either side of the fence.

To relate this little spiel to the recipe at hand, the strange irony is that ever since I went vegan, I've received more questions about my 'beauty-product-secrets' than ever before. From what kind of foundation I'm wearing to which concealers I use to achieve a smooth finish. The look of surprise each time I say that I'm not wearing anything is somewhat amusing. In those moments, I want to say: 'Go vegan and your skin will thank you for it!' and depending on who I'm talking to, sometimes I say just that. 

It would be irresponsible of me to claim that all vegans automatically have great skin after giving up animal products - I can only speak for myself and share my personal experience - but you sure do give yourself a fighting chance when you go down the plant-based route. Your fruit and veg intake inevitably spikes and pore-clogging dairy is eliminated. If that isn't a recipe for getting that glow from the inside out, I don't know what is.

This smoothie recipe, like many other vitamin-rich fruit and veg combos, is a good option if you're looking to start eating and drinking for your skin and general well-being. Great as a healthy snack or a quick breakfast when you're in a hurry. Especially great when you want to give your digestive system a breather after days of glorious indulgence in rich foods.

You'll need: green apple, cucumber, fresh lemon juice and filtered water. If you have access to organic produce, even better.

Simply blend all the ingredients on high speed and enjoy!

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Vegan Peppered Snail

What's that?

A take on a Nigerian favourite without any actual slime or the chopping up of little creatures who just want to mind their business as they chomp through leaves and crawl around in mud?


The Vegan Nigerian: saving one snail at a time. Lol.

Peppered snail is a well-known delicacy in Nigerian cuisine, usually served at parties as appetisers or prepared at home just cos. As a kid, I could never comprehend why anyone would want to eat a snail; the thought of it even now makes me gag a little. But that's just me. Tons of people love the stuff. And so I say, why not consider a version that gives you the same flavour and chewiness but without the grossness? Mushrooms can be earthy and robust and can soak up a ton of seasoning. If you think you'll miss the distinct 'muddy' taste of actual snails though, feel free to chuck in a handful of wet earth into the pan.

I'm joking. And gosh, I probably sound quite snide. Sorry.

For this recipe, I cheated and used the fiery hot chilli sauce by Marie's Little Jar. Although it's not entirely cheating is it, seeing as it contains natural, healthy ingredients. Still, if you want to make your own peppery sauce, it's simple: blend some scotch bonnet peppers with onions and tomatoes to make a thick sauce. Fry in some sunflower oil and allow the sauce to reduce. Season with salt and a vegetable stock cube, and you're good to go.

Re-hydrated dried mushrooms work better than fresh mushrooms in this dish because you get that chewy, rubbery taste.

You'll need:
- Dried mushroom (I used shiitake)
- Sunflower oil
- Red chilli sauce (read above for a quick way to make your own at home)
- Fresh mixed herbs (I used thyme, rosemary and tarragon - use what you have/your favourites)
- Salt, to taste

Soak the dried mushroom in water until soft. (Top tip: quicken the softening process by popping it into the microwave for 5 minutes). Drain, rinse and squeeze out any excess water.

Chop some fresh herbs and set aside.

Heat some sunflower oil in a pan and add the mushroom. Fry until brown and a bit crispy on the outside.  Season with salt.

Add a generous helping of peppery chilli sauce to coat the mushrooms. Throw in a handful of chopped fresh herbs. Serve hot or warm.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Vegan Food Spotting: High Street Kensington [Video]

Whole Foods Market - just like a well-stocked bookstore - is one of those places I could spend hours walking through. Forget properly shopping there, because some of those prices are...phew!...but when I'm in the area it's satisfying to wander around, marvelling at all the vegan alternatives on offer. This is where you go if/when you miss things like grated cheese and evaporated milk and French pastries. Who knew? Coconut evaporated milk for crying out loud! I treated myself to a vegan croissant while I was there and the first bite felt like being lifted off the ground. It transported me back to my year of living abroad in France in 2012... those few months before I went vegan, when croissants and pains au chocolat were an almost-daily indulgence. Memories.

On this particular evening of vegan food spotting at Whole Foods, I also had dinner at Wagamama - my first visit to the chain since the launch of their new vegan & vegetarian menu. Slow clap. Totally game-changing. My heart and stomach were full that evening. Of course, I had to go for their signature 'vegatsu' (a vegan take on their popular katsu curry, but with crispy seitan strips instead of chicken strips). Have you been yet? You should.

With the weather as beautiful as it is in London these days, I imagine I'll be doing a lot of trekking around the ol' city. When I do, I'll likely create more of these food spotting videos, because why not.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Catering a Vegan Wedding [Pictures & Video]

Words are not enough to capture the weekend gone by. I catered a wedding! A whole wedding! The intensity was unlike anything I've ever experienced before and I don't think I've ever had so much adrenaline pumping through my system. Forget skydiving and bungee jumping, catering a wedding is where it's at if you want a good kick.

Overall, it was a challenging experience with a lot of rewarding outcomes. My clients were an absolute pleasure to work with and my team was the definition of 'Dream Team'.

The video I've put together barely captures the experience, but I'm glad that I was able to get some footage at least. When the official wedding photographs come out, I'll try and update this post with more pictures.

If you've got an event coming up and think we could work well together, definitely drop me a line. Just putting it out there that I would love to cater an all-vegan baby shower next. Or a birthday party!

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Baked Plantain Chips (Savoury)

A bowl of plantain chips = a thing of absolute beauty. Skip the spitting-splashing oil from frying and bake them instead. I'm more of a sweet plantain chip gal myself, and for that you'd need to use ripe plantains, but I had a rogue green plantain at home and decided to use it up in this way. Plus, you'll never see me turn down plantain in any form, so there's that.

I used a mandolin slicer to achieve the super thin strips and would recommend that you use that too. If you're missing this most essential kitchen gadget though, go ahead and slice as thinly as you can with a knife.

Hope you enjoy this super simple recipe!

- 1 unripe plantain
- sunflower oil (enough to coat the sliced plantain)
- salt to taste
- crushed chilli flakes

Slice the plantain as thinly as possible using a knife or mandolin slicer (available on Amazon). Place in a large bowl and add sunflower oil, salt and chilli flakes. Give it a quick toss/mix until the plantain is well-coated.

Lay the plantain slices out on a a lined baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees C for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Leave to cool slightly before serving.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Vegan Tests by HealthLabs.com

'Should I be vegan?' 'Am I doing this vegan thing right?' If either of those questions have ever crossed your mind, then the feature below may be of massive interest.

HealthLabs.com was founded by Fiyyaz Pirani in 2010 and is a platform that offers fast, private, and affordable lab testing that can be scheduled and ordered online. They have now become the first ever online lab testing service to offer comprehensive testing packages that are tailored toward vegans and those considering the health benefits of a plant-based diet.

The Vegan Nutritional Maintenance panel is designed for those who are already vegan and want to ensure that they have a well-balanced diet. This panel contains 11 tests for possible nutrient deficiencies that vegans may encounter if their plant-based diet is off-balance. It will look for things that the bloodstream may be more vulnerable to, such as a B-12 deficiency or high levels of folic acid.
The Should You be Vegan testing panels are designed for those considering veganism, who want to see if they're experiencing unwanted side effects from a meat and dairy diet. This test will look for allergies that may be brought on by animal-derived food. Many experience pain, sluggishness, and discomfort after consuming meat or dairy and this test aims to help non-vegans see the benefit in making changes to their lifestyle and habits, which could ultimately improve their mental and physical health.
The comprehensive Should You Be Vegan test panel will test for 38 different food allergies, looking for lactose intolerance, egg allergies, meat allergies, and more. The Standard and Basic panels, on the other hand, will be less extensive versions of the test and will look for the more common animal-derived food allergies.
Many have recently become drawn to a plant-based diet, due to its numerous health benefits, such as lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Veganism is also one of the best ways to fight factory farming, animal cruelty, and reduce our environmental impact. It's exciting to see a company such as HealthLabs expand its resources to empower the vegan community.

If any of the tests outlined above have sparked your interest, you can find out more by visiting www.HealthLabs.com or by phone at 1-800-579-3914. Their health specialists are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day. Testing is easy and results are received within a couple of days.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Donkwa | Vegan Hausa Snack

This snack is ridiculously easy to make, but it's really got a lot going for it. High in protein (where do vegans get their protein from? snacksssss!), gluten-free (if you're about that gluten-free life) and a unique taste experience, if ever there was one.

I made this at my cookery demo in Bristol last week and having forgotten to record the darn thing, thought it'd be good to create a post and video for it.

Admittedly, my recipe has been highly modified for the contemporary, *cough* lazy chef. Instead of blending roasted peanuts from scratch, I've skipped straight to store-bought peanut butter (good quality stuff though! If you're going to replace, at least replace well). Instead of measuring out the perfect ratio of water/oil/sugar to bind everything together, I've used fruit syrup. The traditional recipe can often have a bit of chilli powder thrown in, but this is entirely optional and I have gone for a full-on sweet version.

It's crumbly, it melts in the mouth, it's gritty, it's nutty, it's just plain good. An audience member who tried it last week compared it to halva, and I think that's pretty spot on. You should try it. Seriously.

(makes about 10-15 balls)
- 1 cup fine cornmeal
- 2 heap tablespoons smooth peanut butter (unsalted/unsweetened)
- 2 tablespoons syrup (fruit/maple/rice...etc)
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined. Form into little bite-sized ball shapes. Done!

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Bristol VegFest 2018 | Diversity, Food Heaven & Live Cooking

Hey folks,

My bank holiday weekend was brightened up by a trip to Bristol for this year's VegFest (26th/27th May). It was my first time visiting the city and I've come away with a pretty positive impression of the place. Granted, I was only there for a couple of days but still virtually every encounter was a friendly one, the vegan food scene is top-notch and it turned out to be a much-needed peaceful break away from busy ol' London.

On Sunday, I was billed to give a cookery demonstration and as with my demo at Brighton VegFest earlier this year, it was a wonderful experience. It gets easier each time I do it and gosh, it blows my mind how much I actually enjoy it - recovering shy kid that I am. I introduced the audience to a couple of Nigerian snacks - donkwa and plantain chips - both of which were well received.
Side note: if you're thinking of getting into cookery demos, be sure to check out my video where I share a few tips and tricks. 

The event itself was a success. A vegan's dream come true. Food, clothing, jewellery, art, beauty, entertainment, talks, literature - there was sheer abundance. I was struck by the diversity too. From Caribbean, Japanese and Indian food (to name a few) to black-owned vegan businesses to various cuisines represented on the cookery demo stage to talks by prominent black vegan activists such as Christopher Sebastian, it seems as though VegFest is making a conscious effort to be more inclusive. The way it should be. Vegans come in all shades, shapes and from different walks of life, and it is absolutely imperative that this is reflected in mainstream veganism. You'll see what I mean in this little video I put together.

Thank you to the organisers and to everyone who made the event what it was. I hope to be back again next year!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Mango Shortbread Cookies

I suddenly had a hankering for some shortbread cookies the other day. As you can imagine, finding vegan shortbread is next to impossible, butter being the primary ingredient: all butter this, all butter that. So I decided to make my own. I also had some leftover mango puree that needed using up and so decided to incorporate it into this recipe. Mango puree is stupidly easy to make. Like jam, just boil the heck out of chopped mango, water and a touch of sugar until it reduces down to a thick consistency.

I hate to state the obvious, but this is not the healthiest snack in the world. I suppose replacing the white flour with wholemeal or spelt flour would be a step in the right direction, but on this occasion I'm embracing the shortbread cookie in all it's naughty, nutritionally-void glory ;)

(makes about 20)
- 1 cup vegan butter/margarine
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
- 2 cups plain flour
- 3/4 cup mango puree/jam

Cream the vegan butter and sugar until smooth. Add the salt, vanilla and plain flour. Mix with your fingers/hands to form a soft dough. Don't over-knead it.

Form into small, bite-size rounds and place on a lined baking tray. Flatten each cookie, forming a small well in the middle. Fill each cookie with about 1 teaspoon of the mango puree/jam.

Bake in a pre-heated oven, 160°C, for 20-25 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes before devouring. The mango will set and meld into the cookie. Little slabs of sunshine.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Scarlet Mushroom Pasta

I was recently gifted some scarlet elf cap mushrooms by a colleague at work who loves wild foraging. Both beautiful and delicate, I wanted to make them the star of the dish and so I opted for this rather simple pasta creation. Not everyone is going to have access to scarlet mushrooms, of course, so go ahead and use whatever you have available. I think we can all agree that the combination of earthy mushroom and buttery pasta is a recipe for pure food comfort!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

How To Give A Cookery Demo

Just a few tips I've accumulated over the years! Hope this is helpful for anyone looking to get into cookery demonstrations. Not only are cookery demos a great way of stepping out of your comfort zone, but they allow you to share your message and passion with new audiences.

If you have any questions, be sure to drop them in the comment section below!

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Vegan Nigerian Stories: Tomilola

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Tomilola and I am a budding filmmaker and a content creator. I spend most of my time caring for my son, creating and editing videos and reading books.

How long have you been vegan and what inspired the change?

My journey began during my NYSC year when I decided to make healthier choices and cut out red meat from my diet, It made a huge difference and I have been on a health journey unconsciously since then. I always leaned towards going vegan but I didn't know how I was going to make the 'drastic' change and how I was going to sustain it. September last year, I watched the documentary "What the Health" and I made the decision to go vegan, which I think was the first step for me. I have been transitioning since then. I would say I am about 90% vegan if there is anything like that. 

How did your family/friends react to you going vegan?

They all just accepted it. Although my mum makes fun of me sometimes and is of the opinion that I can eat anything I want in moderation. But I also said that I wasn't going to try to explain my journey to anyone yet because I am doing this first for me and as I go along in the journey maybe I would be able to explain it better. 

What benefits have you noticed so far?

The first thing I noticed was that cramps disappeared. I meeaaaan. It was huge! I have never had a painless period in my life. Before, from 2 days before my period, I would start getting warning pains. Now, getting to a point where I don't even know until the actual day is really great. Second thing is that it has made me conscious of what I am actually eating, I now check labels, read about ingredients and experiment with food. Lastly, I now actually think of the animals. Although I started this journey for my health and not necessarily because of animal cruelty, it has made me think about the process of it all and what seemed normal to me before now grosses me out.  

What is the hardest part about being vegan?

- The fact that it is hard and expensive to get fresh food in this Lagos - It is available, yes, but when you think about the work it takes to get it and how you have to get it more often because of preservation, you'd realise how hard it is to eat clean.  
- Cooking for non-vegan people in my house. I am constantly tempted. It has taken a lot of discipline to be 90% vegan, now you understand where my remaining 10% is -_-

What has been your experience of veganism in Nigeria? 

There are now 2 fully vegan restaurants in Nigeria, which is great. I haven't tried either of them yet but I definitely will soon. I attended the Lagos VegFest and it was great to discover some of the plant-based treats, and meet more vegan people in Nigeria - who are very supportive.

For a while I was too shy to say "Oh, I'm vegan" as I thought everyone would look at me weird, and I didn't really have answers to the natural questions the typical omo naija would ask me, so I only ate meat when I was outdoors. But now I have stopped and am learning to own my journey and be okay with giving answers like "Just because I want to be vegan" as my explanation, without feeling weird or left out. I don't have to eat what I don't want to eat to please anyone.

Give us an idea of the kinds of meals you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Any tips for fellow Nigerians/anyone looking to go vegan?

- To manage cost, buy in bulk and store in the freezer (If PHCN allows).
- Eat before you go to Owambe.
- If you have non-vegans that you have to cook for, pre-plan your meals and make sure you have a vegan day where they try out your food too.
- Not everyone will understand your decision and that is very OKAY! You really don't owe anyone an explanation.
- Don't beat yourself up if you do fail. Just press the reset button. It is doable. 
- There is a vegan version of every meal - Ask Youtube! 
- Don't stock up on what you don't want to eat. 
- Enjoy when the compliments about your skin and body start rolling in. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Plantain Social Recap [VIDEO] - Vegan Pop-Up #10

First event of the year was an absolute blast. A "Plantain Social" - can you imagine? An evening of meeting fascinating, creative, inspiring people whilst chowing down on plantain cooked and garnished in different and, dare I say, magical ways.

As far as planning went for this event, Carine and I both agreed that it felt pretty stress-free. The concept was simple, but the dishes packed a punch. The event was laid-back; chatter and good music filled the air, the entire venue carried the gorgeous aroma of fried plantain. It was close to perfection.

Collaborating, I have discovered, does wonders for the psyche. It's having somewhere there to carry the burden of getting everything ready in time. It's having someone to go shopping with and split the risks (and costs!) with. It's having someone to think about tiny details that you may miss when trying to juggle a million things on your own - and vise versa. I'd like to say that the nerves were non-existent this time around because it's my tenth event (and darn it, I should be used to it by now!) But no, collaboration I tell ya. That's the way to go. The same feeling of peace that I had when I planned and executed the Vegan Christmas Feast with my friend Eli back in December is the same that I had this time. Carine and I were linked up through a platform called Tabl which we are both a part of -  Marie with her West-African-inspired (and vegan!) sauces. Me with my Vegan Nigerian cooking classes. The beautiful minds behind Tabl saw the potential of something great happening if we got the opportunity to put our minds and efforts together. Et voila!

Enjoy the little video I put together. It shows you a little behind the scenes shopping action, clips from the event, and feedback from guests. It's fab. And fun.

Thank you to everyone who came along. See you next time? :)

Keep up to date with events and whatnot. Follow me on Twitter + Instagram + Facebook + YouTube.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Quick Quinoa Stir-Fry

Here's one for the lazy vegans who don't want to spend an age in the kitchen. I had the opportunity to try out a range of West-African-inspired sauces by Marie's Little Jar. Cue a week or so of quick meals put together in 10 minutes or less, but still bursting with tons of flavour. And don't be put off by my use of quinoa in this recipe (if you are so inclined to be put off by quinoa...?) because you can easily substitute it with rice, couscous, or any other leftover cooked grains you've got.

You know the drill. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for these weekly videos!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Plantain & Mixed Vegetable Fritters

In anticipation of my next pop-up event, here's a quick and easy plantain recipe. A good one if you've got overripe plantains that need using up, or if you're after a fuss-free snack. 

Excuse the inelegant plating of this dish, but this is definitely a case of taste over looks.

Tickets are still available for the Plantain Social coming up on 22nd April. It's going to be a fun night of food and networking with other bloggers, vloggers and creators. See you there!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Madrid Travel Vlog Part 3 | Vegan Places to Eat

The absolute final part of the Madrid vlog. In this one, highlights of some of my favourite vegan food finds!

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Madrid Travel Vlog Part 2 | Random Dancing, Vegan Hotdogs & Green Juice

In this week's video, I mash up random clips from around the city of Madrid with a couple of highly recommended vegan spots to visit. If you think it ends after this, then think again because someone was camera-happy during this trip and has a ton of footage to sift through and edit. Part 3 (next week!) is going to be the final instalment though (promise!), so make sure you're subscribed to my YouTube channel and never miss an upload! :)

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Madrid Travel Vlog Part 1 | Doughnuts, Women's March & Vegan Octopus??

Escaped routine for a few days and took a trip to Madrid, Spain. Being the middle of March and all, I was not expecting scorching hot weather, but maybe I should have wished a little harder for it because it rained for the most part of the trip. That didn't stop it from being a fun-filled, food-filled, adventure-filled holiday though! And on my final day, when the sun was out in full force, I wasn't bitter at all...mostly ;)

I decided to vlog some parts of my trip, particularly when food was involved. Aside from the vegan doughnut, vegan octopus and vegan Chinese buffet discoveries of the first couple of days, I also found myself in the middle of the Madrid women's march on International Women's Day (inspiring as can be) and at Madrid's most famous indoor market.

Enjoy this week's video and stay tuned for part 2 next Tuesday!

Never miss a video. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Red Red Stews | Review [VIDEO]

Another week, another video, and this time I'm coming at you with a review of this gorgeous brand that's fresh on the market: Red Red Stews.

Their tagline reads 'Inspired by Africa, Remixed by London' and I can't think of a better description. 
The flavours are familiar yet unique; the packaging is simply stunning and the convenience is a real bonus. It's all vegan too (woo!),  gluten-free and packed full of protein.

There are three flavours (all available on Amazon):

Check out my video for a review :)