My Top Ten Vegan Pantry Essentials

Ever wondered what a vegan keeps in her pantry? Well, look no further than this – just joking, I’m not going down the route of cheesy blog post opening lines.

Anyway, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten ingredients you’ll always find in my cupboard. I eat a vegan diet composed mostly of wholefoods, but this is suitable for anyone who wishes to expose themselves to the joys of eating more plants and having plenty of healthy ingredients within reach.

These items are affordable and many can be cooked in bulk for the week ahead as a means of saving time, money and energy. Moreover, they act as a basis for the majority of vegan recipes out there. When it comes to cooking, I like to plan ahead and will buy ‘fancier’ extras whenever they are required (i.e., those magical superfood powders sourced from the soils of Narnia – I admit I can never hold myself back from diving head first into food trends) but always ensure my kitchen is well stocked with the basics because no one likes getting to their chickpea curry night and discovering they have no chickpeas.

Before I give myself the opportunity to ramble on for three thousand words, here are my pantry staples:

1. Legumes

Beans and pulses

You knew this one was coming. I am in love with my beans and pulses. These contain an abundance of micronutrients such as iron and potassium, and are often the main protein source in vegan diets. As someone who is trying to build muscle, the latter is enough to make me stock my cupboards with an excessive amount of black beans.

I keep both canned and dry in my kitchen. Canned is great for convenience, but I use dry whenever I have a bit of extra time, as they require soaking and cooking, and want a ‘fresher’ taste. My favourites include:

  • Black beans – these are a great option for buying fresh and soaking overnight
  • Chickpeas – roast them with some agave nectar and paprika and thank me later!
  • Cannellini beans 
  • Red kidney beans
  • Lentils: red, green and black
  • Dried soya mince – an incredible meat free alternative for spaghetti bolognese!
  • Peas
  • Giant lentils 

Continue reading “My Top Ten Vegan Pantry Essentials”

Apple and Cinnamon Pancakes with a Chocolate Cashew Sauce

In my opinion, nothing can beat a stack of pancakes on Sunday morning. Or on any day of the week, at any time (midnight snack anyone?). Vegan pancakes is the sort of meal I could eat for the rest of my life and not get bored because ‘YUM’ is the only word that can accurately summarise them.

How to make vegan pancakes

And I am not just being biased because I had to make these twice due to poor lighting earlier in the week: the struggles of trying to blog about food as it gets darker! My mum even said the unthinkable: ‘why don’t you just use artificial lighting?’ What a great idea: I love it when my food looks mustard-yellow rather than this lovely mixture of golden and blue and pink.

Healthy Vegan Pancakes

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I brought apple sauce from my local health food store the other day (and five other things, when I only walked in with the intention of stocking up on protein powder) and founds it works wonders in creating the fluffiest, Autumn-inspired pancakes – and from this day onwards, all of my food has to have a hint of Autumn as a way of making myself embrace this season. Otherwise the Summer nostalgia will never go away.

Fall inspired pancake recipe

These pancakes are super fluffy, vegan, low in fat (nothing wrong with fat at all, but I know some people prefer ‘lighter’ options) and that chocolate-cashew sauce should be on everyone’s bucket list. Not gonna lie, I ate most of it before the pancakes had finished cooking! Try it, and don’t forget to thank me later 😉

Fall inspired pancake

Apple and Cinnamon Pancakes with a Chocolate Cashew Sauce

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Fall-inspired apple and cinnamon pancakes with a delicious chocolate-cashew sauce. Healthy, vegan and super fluffy.

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Ingredients

    For the pancakes:

    – 3/4 cup oat flour (use gluten free if desired)

  • 1/4 cup soy yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup cashew milk
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp yeast or baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Fresh fruit to serve
  • For the sauce:

    – 1 tbsp cashew butter

  • 1 tbsp cashew milk
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp cacao powder

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the wet and dry pancake ingredients and set aside for around five minutes. Meanwhile, heat some cooking spray or coconut oil in a large frying pan – make sure it is nice and hot before you start making the pancakes.
  2. Spoon mixture into pancakes shapes: make sure they are not too thin. I find that slightly under 1/4 cup of the pancake mix per pancake works best. Carefully flip when bubbles start to form on the surface and the edges are looking crispy.
  3. To make the sauce, simply whisk together the cashew butter, cashew milk, agave nectar and cacao powder in a small bowl.
  4. Serve immediately with some fresh fruit and shredded coconut.

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A Note On Excessive Modesty and Fear of Ambition

I’m cleverThere, I said it. Of course, I’m no rocket scientist or one of those miraculous teenage entrepreneurs with a billion dollar startup, but someone with my academic record deserves that qualifier. I, like many others, am cursed with over-the-top modesty. An urge to undermine one’s achievements, skills and ambitions at every opportunity, which can equate in annoyance to an inflated ego.

Cockiness is an undesirable quality for sure, and most of us withhold from befriending people who speak of nothing other than themselves and their greatness. And in fear of appearing cocky ourselves, we spiral into a trap of persistent self-deprecating humour and a reluctance to acknowledge the traits which distinguish us from the crowd. I did not see this as an issue – because labelling yourself ‘trash’ is the thing to do nowadays. Then one day, while speaking to a psychologist, I joked about my ‘stupidity’ and she told me to ‘stop right there’. She rightfully highlighted how an offhand self-deprecating statement, whether reflective of your true beliefs or not, can influence your actions and perception of yourself on a subconscious level. Most of the time, the idea of pretentiousness displeases me so much, I cannot compliment myself in my head, let alone out loud. Successful at a job interview? The other candidate must’ve not turned up. Great exam results? You were lucky. Skin looks great? It must be the lighting.

How to become more confident Continue reading “A Note On Excessive Modesty and Fear of Ambition”

Exercise Addiction: The Dark Side of Fitness

With my hands covered in blisters and talcum powder, achy joints despite being aged fifteen, and thought racing through my head, I sit and cry in the gym changing rooms. The world is ending. Despite exercising for two hours straight, I didn’t work hard enough. Not enough sweat, not enough calories burnt. Now, my mum is offering to pick me up from the gym so we can stop by Pizza Express on the way home, which implies walking 8.75km instead of the minimum daily goal of 10.9, and eating unknown calories. ‘I can’t, I have homework,’ I text back, despite knowing the evening will be spent doing jumping squats in my room, not preparing for an upcoming Physics test.

This was the reality of exercise addiction for me, a disorder which isn’t recognised by the DSM5 but impacts around 3% of those who exercise on a daily basis. Prior to acquiring a positive relationship with fitness, it overwhelmed my life and nearly ended it. I want to speak about this issue because while anorexia is frequently discussed on the internet and in the media, exercise addiction (which often, though not always, accompanies another eating disorder) is seldom mentioned. The obesity epidemic, and the tendency of the majority of the population to neglect exercise rather than overdo it, explains this yet countless anecdotes emphasise the relevance of excessive exercise in our society.

Exercise Addiction recovery
It has taken a lot of effort to find balance, but every ounce was worth it.

Honestly, I struggled with starting this blog post without tearing up. Overcoming the addiction was perhaps the hardest thing I had to do, and back then I believed it would kill me before I’d scrambled back to balance. I will attempt to keep this coherent, ensuring the post raises awareness, outlines my story, and helps anyone whose relationship with exercise is less than optimal, but I cannot promise the absence of garble due to the emotive nature of the topic involved!

So, what is exercise addiction?  Continue reading “Exercise Addiction: The Dark Side of Fitness”

Vegan Tacos Two Ways ft. Mango Sauce

Hello dears! I hope your week has been treating you well so far. Mine has been all over the place. For one, I had to start a new Instagram account (@earthofmariaa) because after experiencing a hack on my last one, nothing was working: my images were being deleted, I wasn’t able to like any photos, etc. After around ten days of trying to fix it, I decided to create a new account, which is upsetting because I worked so hard on my old one but sometimes a fresh start can be a good thing! Let’s hope Instagram won’t let me down this time.

Low fat

Anyway, I am back with a taco recipe, featuring two different fillings to satisfy every tastebud ever. First we have marinated tempeh, with a spinach bedding and jalapenos for some extra spice (jalapeno has to be one of my favourite words of all time). Next, we have a delicious chickpea and broccoli stir-fry that goes to show you can make tacos work with everything. Drizzle these over with a delicious mango sauce, and you have a Tupperware-friendly lunch or a satisfying family dinner.

Tempeh Recipe (high protein)

(Currently, I am trying to think of tacos to distract myself from thoughts of the humongous spider I found in my room this morning. Is anyone else experiencing a spider epidemic in the UK?! I think it’s time to move planets.)

When I was ill with my eating disorder, tacos were a big ‘fear food’ I had to overcome because the carby wraps scared me. Now I look back and shake my head because carbs are amazing. Especially in taco form. These, in a way, were a celebration of how far I’ve come in terms of not giving two hecks about carbs and calories anymore, simply eating what I want whenever I want to. Continue reading “Vegan Tacos Two Ways ft. Mango Sauce”

My Morning Routine 2017: Healthy but Realistic

Hi dears!

I understand the appeal of continuously hitting the snooze button and hauling yourself out of bed fifteen minutes before you’re supposed to leave. I understand the appeal of skipping breakfast (but at the same time I don’t, because honestly, the first thing I think about when I wake up is food #noshame). However, given that you’re able to fall asleep at a reasonable time, allowing yourself plenty of space each morning to pursue a routine can help with emotional wellbeing enormously, given how much you can adapt and tailor this to your own personality and preferences.

The routine aspect is important. I’ve been an early riser for many years, and a lover of mornings, but as of recent I’ve managed to create a list of things to fill those extra hours that are much more mindful, more energising than an aimless scroll through Instagram. Okay, the Instagramming is still there, but I try to make it constructive&controlled.

Honesty is important to this blog, so I am not going to sit here and say that I run half a marathon, get in my five a day, exfoliate my entire body and write a best-selling novel all before the clock strikes 7. The routine outlined below is realistic and works well for me, helping establish the foundations for a successful day without burning me out: a balance I worked hard on finding. Mornings do not have to be intense. However, a structure can bring many benefits, such as mental clarity and a productive approach to the day’s endeavours.

As a little disclaimer, I do not follow these steps every day. I adjust them in accordance with how I feel as flexibility is a value I will always abide to. However, an outline helps enormously in saving me from a feeling of disarray, a cluelessness regarding what to do with myself upon awakening, which carries a risk of spilling into the succeeding hours.

So, here is an overview of a typical morning in the life of Maria:

I wake up anywhere between 5 and 6:30, depending on when I must leave. The next five to ten minutes are dedicated to something which grounds me in the external world, ready to meet whatever challenges may arise. I avoid all technology and social media during this time, because stepping into the digital realm as soon as I open my eyes can disconnect me from my surroundings and lead to a sense of ‘drifting’ through the rest of the day, as opposed to engaging with it. If you haven’t tried it yet, I would recommend practicing mindfulness in the early hours: just pay attention to how your body is feeling, what signals its sending you, what emotions you’re experiencing. Sometimes, I do some reading, or sit with my cat and watch the skies lighten. Continue reading “My Morning Routine 2017: Healthy but Realistic”

How to make the perfect Buddha Bowl

Hi dears! Cheers to the second weekend of September: I can definitely sense the colder season creeping in with the recent weather conditions over here, and my nostalgia over summer has grown stronger with each day. Let’s hope Christmas-related excitement replaces it soon.

Anyway, what is a Buddha Bowl? Essentially, it is a combination of nourishing foods thrown together and served with some type of dressing – or, in my experience, they’re just as delicious when eaten ‘plain’. To me, they represent eating in abundance while staying far, far away from portion control and no carb diets which are thrown at us by the mass media on a daily basis. I mean, who wants to live off detox teas when you can reach your health&fitness goals by eating something as delicious as one of these?!

Aside from that, I can think of quite a few reasons for why Buddha Bowls are a big deal in the foodie world:

  • While delivering a multitude of health benefits, they’re super easy to make and require little preparation. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be difficult, and for those who struggle to ‘eat the rainbow’, a well-crafted Buddha Bowl can be a perfect solution because by throwing together all the fruits, veggies and grains you can find, you’re getting in those crucial vitamins and minerals with little thought.
  • They’re super satisfying and energising – perfect for those of us who love big portions. I certainly do, and I am not ashamed.
  • It’s a great way to clean out the fridge and use up leftovers. Whenever I find Tupperware boxes of lentils and failed avocado roses clogging up the fridge, I know it’s time to make a Buddha Bowl.
  • By keeping yours plantbased, it can be your first step towards doing something good for the planet as well as receiving all the health benefits of including more plants in your diet.

I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve complied a step-by-step guide to making your bowl of deliciousness, also including an example recipe below. You can make yours as simple or as complicated as you wish, skipping some of these steps and/or adding new ones along the way. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to making a Buddha Bowl: be sure to experiment, mix ‘n’ match your ingredients, try out weird combinations, because who knows, you might end up surprising yourself! Continue reading “How to make the perfect Buddha Bowl”