30 Hopefully Interesting Facts About Me

If you live in the south of England, you most likely are familiar with the little gem that is Brighton. I am very lucky to live within a ten minute train journey from an abundance of vegan cafes, a shopping centre and of course, the beach which remains beautiful even on gloomier days. I can’t say I was 100% content with standing bare-legged under the most unpleasant drizzle (I am the sort of person who holds back from wearing tights until it is far too cold to consider otherwise) but nothing brings peace to my heart as much as gazing at an expanse of water. And of course, blog photos are not going to take themselves!

Brighton Beach

The central purpose of this post, however, is not to dwell on the beauty of my local area. I always find it interesting to learn about the people behind my favourite blogs, and since I’ve been blogging consistently on here for slightly over a month, I believe the time has come to do your generic ’30, hopefully interesting, facts about me’. Since scheduling this I’ve been nominated for the Liebster award (thank you Joy!) which I will undertake in the upcoming weeks – so in short, buckle your seatbelts and uncover what lies beyond my ability to make pretty food in jars 😉.

Get to know me

Get to Know me 2

1. Let’s start with the basics: my name is Maria, I am 18 years old and as established above, I live near Brighton in the south of England.
2. I am almost 100% Russian with a bit of Ukrainian and Greek mixed in (hence I tan easier than most Russian people).
3. Next year, I will hopefully be starting a history degree but for now I am embracing the opportunity that has been given to me to take a gap year, gain work experience and travel like every basic teenage girl ever.
4. I am trying excessively hard not to start each fact with ‘I’ or ‘my’ but this is thirty facts about ME which perfectly justifies a bit of self indulgence!
5. I think chewing gum should be made illegal because the noise is simply. too. much.
6. Growing up, big chain restaurants virtually didn’t exist in Russia, and healthy eating has always been a big part of my life because a non-Westernised Russian diet contains many fruits, vegetables, legumes etc which is very reflective of how I eat now (with the exception of no animal products). Continue reading “30 Hopefully Interesting Facts About Me”

Intense, No Equipment Leg Workout

Sometimes, you cannot make it to the gym and only have thirty or so minutes to get in a good workout. At other times, you want to switch up your routine due to sagging motivation and boredom. That’s when an equipment-free, do at home or anywhere else workout comes in handy. I will always love the gym and lifting heavy but continuously doing the same thing can be detrimental to progress, hence I often mix in quicker, high-intensity workouts to ‘shock’ my muscles and build up endurance.

This workout is one of my favourites for many reasons and I wanted to share it with all of you to show that all you need to pursue fitness is yourself and a stopwatch. It is both beginner-friendly (perfect for anyone who is just starting their fitness journey and is yet to sign up for a gym membership) and can be made harder by adding a pair of dumbbells or ankle weights. I took this workout outside to embrace these last few days of bearable weather, but I am sure I would have managed in the limited space of my bedroom.

The circuits do not have to be done all together and can be mixed into a gym routine for some extra intensity. Be sure to include five or so minutes of dynamic stretching before and after the workout, modifying the exercises to suit your abilities (e.g. the plyometric exercises can be replaced with their ‘ordinary’ counterpart, such as squats instead of jumping squats) and keeping a water bottle on hand to stay hydrated. Just a quick disclaimer – I am not a personal trainer and you should consult your doctor before starting any exercise programme, so ensure you are in the correct state of health before doing this!

CIRCUIT 1: Complete each exercise for 45 seconds before resting for 15. Repeat circuit three times (12 minutes total)

Exercise 1: lunge with knee tuck.

Lunge exercise

  • Start from a standing position. Step back into a lunge as demonstrated in the above photo, ensuring your knee doesn’t go over your toe. Push off the floor and lift your leg into a knee tuck until your thigh is at least parallel with the ground. Then, bring your foot back into a lunge and ensure it does not touch the floor throughout the transition.

Continue reading “Intense, No Equipment Leg Workout”

3 Autumn-inspired Vegan Jar Recipes

I’m not going to lie, I’ve never been an autumn/winter person. I am easily dismayed by the onset of darker evenings, constant rain and waking up to a room as cold as the arctic circle. While cosy evenings and scented candles help my seasonal blues to an extent, I feel much more at ease in the summer, when the days are long, the weather is decent even in England and I can go outside without having to brace myself. Many people find this surprising as I lived in Russia for the first nine years of my life (hello -40 degree weather) and while I’ve retained many ‘Russian’ characteristics, my ability to withstand the cold has faded alongside the stereotypical accent.

However, the one thing I adore about autumn is the food. I’m talking everything pumpkin, cinnamon and roasted vegetables. You know that scene in Miranda when she lists all the things she loved about Christmas? Yep, that’s me when it comes to autumn. I had a lot of fun constructing these jars because their simplicity does not compromise that hint of seasonal flavour. As usual, the recipes are vegan friendly, healthy and packed with micronutrients. And of course, eating food from a jar does the trick of making your life that much more Pinterest-worthy. Well, in my case, I cannot make any other aspect of my life suitable for Pinterest except for food: I’ve been frantically reading style blogs to try and bring some coordination into my wardrobe, and the only plant I kept in my room withered away from neglect before I managed to miraculously revive it #almostRIP.

Anyway, while I created a ‘base’ for these jars (e.g. the curry and the tofu), feel free to switch up any of the vegetables and/or dressings, eating them either straight away or storing in the fridge overnight. Many of the ‘components’ can be cooked in bulk for meal-prepping purposes. I am a big fan of spices myself (and thoroughly believe Autumn is all about spices, whether that’s in candles or in edible things – unfortunately, those are mutually exclusive) but you can adjust the amounts in accordance with your own preferences. Before I can ramble on for 365 more words, let’s leap straight into the recipes:

Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Curry in a Jar

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Hearty, warm and packed full of spices, this recipe just sings Autumn. Perfect for cold evenings and as a satisfying lunch. Served over a bed of rice and with leafy greens for an extra crunch.

Vegan Mason Jar curry

Autumn Inspired Curry Recipe


Credit: whatismaria.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (228g) butternut squash, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 cup (228g) pumpkin of choice, chopped into small cubes
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 can (200ml) light coconut milk
  • 1/2 can (227ml) canned tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups (355ml) vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup (50g) green lentils
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • two large handfuls of kale
  • 1/2 cup (85g) dry sushi rice, to serve
  • Raw zuccini and spinach, to serve

Directions

  1. Heat either cooking spray or a dash of oil of your choice in a large pot. Add in the pepper, onion, butternut squash and pumpkin, stirring for 3-5 minutes on a medium heat.
  2. Add in the vegetable stock, coconut milk, canned tomatoes, vegetable stock, lentils, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, nutritional yeast and tomato paste. Bring to the boil, before lowering the heat and simmering for 30-35 minutes until the butternut squash and pumpkin are cooked through. Add more water/vegetable stock and salt to taste if necessary. Meanwhile, cook the sushi rice according to instructions in a separate pot.
  3. Add the kale into the curry and stir until wilted.
  4. Assemble the jars: distribute the rice evenly between the jars, before topping with the curry, the raw zuccini and the spinach.

Continue reading “3 Autumn-inspired Vegan Jar Recipes”

The One Trick That Actually Helps My Anxiety

Treating, or alleviating the symptoms of, mental illness is subjective. Articles on miracle cures, tips from fellow sufferers and Pinterest infographics fill the Internet and when researching self-help tips, at times I am more overwhelmed by the abundance of information than the oncoming panic attack.

Many people do not realise I suffer from anxiety, even though it has loomed over me throughout my life, whether as a side effect of another mental illness or in a generalised form. Perhaps this is an outcome of my body having developed a profound ability to mask any physical symptoms. I make that pre-rehearsed phone inquiry through my stomach doing literal summersaults. I cling onto my pen in exam halls and regurgitate two years’ worth of knowledge in forty minutes. Once, I delivered a presentation in front of a very substantial audience and came close to unconsciousness, yet when I mentioned this to my friends a few hours later, I received a few raised eyebrows in response.

‘We didn’t notice – at all,’ they said. ‘You’re a natural at public speaking.’

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The shirt I had to throw away due to excessive perspiration certainly didn’t think so. Continue reading “The One Trick That Actually Helps My Anxiety”

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”