Sweet Potato & Coconut Dahl Soup

Nothing beats a piping hot bowl of soup on cold evenings! I have been slightly obsessed with this combination as it’s flavoursome, a bit spicy and super filling. I love the addition of the sweet potato as it adds a subtle sweetness plus makes the soup super creamy and hearty. Although it’s delicious as it is I love topping with a dollop of unsweetened coconut yogurt and an handful of crunchy chickpeas.

Serves 2 

Ingredients:

1 white onion – finely chopped 

1 piece of ginger – finely grated 

1tbsp of curry powder 

2 tbsp of tomato puree 

About 300ml of vegetable stock 

1 tin of full fat coconut milk 

1 medium size sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces

1 cup of red split lentils

Salt & pepper 

To serve:

A bunch of fresh coriander roughly chopped 

A dollop of coconut yogurt (optional)

The juice of 1/2 lime 

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees celsius. Add a drizzle of oil in a frying pan and once hot add in the chopped onion. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the grated ginger, curry powder and the tomato puree. Give it a mix and cook for another minute. Add in the coconut milk, the vegetable stock, lentils and the chopped sweet potato. Give everything a mix and add a pinch of salt and black pepper. Bring it to boil, then put the lid on and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. If it’s looking a bit dry add more water. Once the dahl is cooked add the lime juice and serve it with some fresh coriander and a spoonful of coconut yogurt.

Notes: If you prefer a smooth/soup kind of consistency once the dhal is cooked you can blend it up with a hand blender. 

Continue Reading

My Winter Wellness Routine

With the days getting darker and colder it can be easy to feel a little bit like a blob and not showing ourself some love and self care. I can definitely feel my energy shifting during the winter months, the temperature drops, the sun exposure decreases, and we spend most of our days indoors. It’s really no wonder that our eating habits change, exercise routines slow down and we tend to sleep longer. I personally see winter as a time for restoration, deeper nourishment, warmth and comfort. It’s also the most important time to make sure that your wellness routine will support the body in maintaining optimal health during the colder months. Self love is a practice that deserve attention all year around but in winter I particularly like to focus on developing habits that will pamper and nourish my body. Of course food is also at the core of winter wellness. Naturally as the temperatures drop we tend to crave more comforting, warmer foods. That’s when soups, stews and veggie curries become my winter heroes, providing me with plenty of veggies, legumes and whole grains. I also make sure I equip my diet with heathy fats like nuts & seeds and avocado to help me prevent dryness in my skin.

There are definitely few beauty rituals which I love treating myself to at least once a week as they make me feel grounded and nourished. Every weekend I cut out an hour or so just for myself when I can really switch off, relax and treat myself to some serious inside/out selfcare. Here is my Winter Wellness Routine which I hope will inspire you to show yourself some extra love this winter! 

1- Soothing Drink – Golden Glow Latte

Let’s start with food, obviously! I absolutely love making myself a piping hot drink during the cold evenings and this Golden Glow Latte has been my absolute favourite! Turmeric has endless health  benefits, like reducing inflammation in the body, boost the immune system during cold and flu season, promote a healthy digestive system and make your skin glow from inside out! I would highly recommend to make your own cashew milk as the recipe suggest but if you don’t have the time please go ahead and use any milk of your choice (coconut milk will work really well too).

Ingredients:

Makes 2 mugs 

1 cup of cashews and macadamia nuts soaked for 3 hours or overnight (if you can’t find macadamia just use cashews)

3 cups of filtered water 

1 piece of fresh turmeric root (about a thumb size) finely grated 

1tsp of ginger powder 

A pinch of cinnamon

A pinch of black pepper 

1 tsp of maca powder (optional)

Optional: to sweeten the drink you can add a touch of maple syrup or honey

Drain and rinse the nuts and place them in a blender with the filtered water. Blend until smooth and creamy. Strain your milk using a nut milk bag or a cheese cloth. Pour the nut milk into a pan and heat it up. Add all the other ingredients and give it a good stir. Pour the milk back in the blender (no need to wash it) and blend again until it start to become frothy. Drink straight away while still warm! 

2- Homemade Face Mask 

Not only turmeric is great to add to any of our meals but it’s also a super powerful skin aid and works wonder in this homemade face mask. And no, I promise you won’t turn yellow!

Turmeric is also known to reduce scarring and to help fight acne or breakouts. I have been making this face mask for years and I absolutely swear by it! The addition of coconut yogurt makes it super hydrating and nourishing while the manuka honey adds powerful antibacterial properties, which again they are great to prevent and treat breakouts.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp of rice or buckwheat flour 

2 tsp of turmeric powder 

2-3 drops of amaiaa saya Oil 

2 tsp of coconut yogurt

1 tsp of manuka honey 

1 tsp of grated lemon peel 

Simply mix all the ingredients into a bowl until you have a smooth paste. Apply to your clean skin and leave it for 20 minutes. Rinse it off with warm water and wash your face with your regular cleanser.

Normally as I wash off my face I also like to take a bath or a shower so I can then pamper myself afterwards with a face and body massage.

3- amaiaa Face Massage 

amaiaa saya oil is a gorgeous blend of 10 different natural oils. If you are performing this routine at night time Jasmine oil (one of the key ingredients) will also help you relax and unwind. Found in the Himalayan region, Indian Night Jasmine has an abundance of calming and renewing properties. This sensual oil is used to soothe and moisturize, allowing your skin to to undergo restoration as you sleep. After I clean off the face mask I love to dedicate few extra minutes to massage my face with this powerful facial oil which will revitalise and deeply nourish my skin. I apply few drops onto my fingertips and I massage onto my face, neck and decollage.

4- Coconut Oil Massage

Moving onto my body I like to indulge in a skin deep massage using extra virgin oil Coconut Oil. I particularly love coconut oil in winter as a body moisturiser as it’s super rich and nourishing. 

Studies show that coconut oil—which is extracted from the meat of mature coconuts—may improve skin barrier function and repair, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, fight the signs of skin ageing. I absolutely love smothered my whole body in coconut oil to add a relaxing fragrance I just add few drops of lavender essential oil.

Continue Reading

Everyone’s Welcome with Tesco

The Christmas spirit is officially in the air and I just couldn’t be more excited! This year I will spending Christmas with my family in Italy and I cannot wait to cook a super indulgent plant-based feast for the people I love. For me there is nothing better than gather around the kitchen, listen to cheesy Christmas songs and cook delicious food.

Thanks to Tesco I found some seriously incredible and straightforward recipes which I will definitely be making during the festivities! One of my favourite has to be this Mushroom Nut Roast Tart with pesto, it’s so easy to make, packed full of flavour and a great alternative to a more traditional nut roast. Followed by this ridiculously indulgent Chocolate Fudge which I topped with some chopped pistachios and cranberries to make it a bit more festive!

The recipe for the Mushroom Nut Roast Tart with pesto is down below but click here for the full recipe for the Chocolate Fudge. On the Tesco website you ca also find so many more decadent and delicious planet based recipes which I am guarantee you will inspire you to cook a  unforgettable Christmas feast!

Mushroom nut roast tart with pesto

Inspired by a classic nut roast this homemade tart is the ideal easy vegan Christmas Dinner. I absolutely love the meaty mushrooms combined with the sharp red onion, parsnip ribbons and crunchy nut and seeds. The pesto goes so well with all the earthy flavour and adds a lovely fresh note to the dish. The pastry can be also made in advance, saving you time on the big day!

Ingredients:

500g parsnips, trimmed and peeled

1 large red onion, cut into 2cm chunks

2 tbsp maple syrup

5 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp

150g pack Portobello mushrooms, sliced

250g pack chestnut mushrooms, quartered

200g pack baby button mushrooms

50g blanched hazelnuts

50g blanched almonds

50g pine nuts

15g fresh chives, snipped

15g fresh flat-leaf parsley

30g pack fresh basil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • To make the pastry, use a cutlery knife to mix the our, suet, seeds and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add 125ml cold water and, still using the knife, mix to bring the pastry together into a ball.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a rectangle to line a 30 x 20cm baking tin; trim to fit, discarding any trimmings. Chill in the fridge for 30 mins.
  • Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Line the pastry with nonstick baking paper; fill with baking beans. Bake on the top shelf for 25 mins. Remove the beans and paper; set aside to cool.
  • Peel 50g parsnips into ribbons and set aside. Chop the remaining parsnips and put in a large roasting tin with the onion. Drizzle with the maple syrup and 1 tbsp olive oil; season and toss to coat. Roast for 30 mins, stirring halfway, until soft and lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large, deep frying pan over a high heat. Add the mushrooms; season and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 mins until soft and well coloured. You may need to do this in batches. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  • For the pesto, toast the nuts in a dry pan over a medium heat for 1-2 mins, tossing until lightly golden. Set half the nuts aside and tip the rest into a food processor; pulse until fairly fine. Add the chives, parsley, basil, garlic and 2 tbsp olive oil; season. Blitz until well combined.
  • To assemble, spread half the pesto over the base of the pastry. Strain and discard the liquid from the mushrooms, then arrange over the pesto, followed by the roasted parsnips and onion. Add 1 tbsp each olive oil and water to the remaining pesto, then spoon it over the tart. Roughly chop and scatter over half the nuts. Toss the parsnip ribbons with 1 tsp olive oil and arrange them over the top, finishing with nuts and 2-3 tsp pesto.
  • Bake on the middle shelf for 20-25 mins until the parsnip ribbons are lightly golden and the tart is heated through. Slice into squares and drizzle with the reserved pesto, if you like.

Get ahead: Cook the pastry the day before. Keep in the tin, covered with clingfilm, at room temperature.

Continue Reading

Cheesy Cauliflower and Broccoli Bake

I cannot think of a more rich and indulgent side dish than this one. It’s super easy to make but it’s so rich, creamy and utterly delicious! If you are not a big fan of broccoli or cauliflower I promise you will definitely like this dish! The cheesy besciamel sauce add so much indulgence to these very humble vegetables making them utterly scrumptious. 

If you want to make it extra cheesy add in some of you favourite vegan cheese to make it even more decadent.

Ingredients:

Make a large tray enough for 4 people

About 1 small head of broccoli and 1 small head of cauliflower 

1 white onion finely sliced

1-2 tbsp of fresh rosemary finely chopped 

1 tbsp of oil for frying 

500ml of unsweetened soy milk 

1 vegetable stock cube 

2 tbsp of arrowroot powder or corn starch 

3 tbsp of nutritional yeast 

Plenty of black pepper 

A generous handful of ground almond or breadcrumbs to sprinkle on top

Optional: almond flakes to sprinkle on top to add a bit of crunch 

To make it extra cheesy: about 150gr of you favourite hard vegan cheese, the one I found work the best are cheddar style one which they melt. My favourite is Follow Your Heart Gouda Style Cheese 

Chop the broccoli and cauliflower in florets an place them on a large tray with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast them in the oven for 15 minutes.

In the meantime add the finely chopped onion to a large pan with a dash of olive oil and the chopped rosemary. Cook the onion on a low/medium heat for 5-8 minutes until it starts to caramelise. Measure the soy milk and add in the arrowroot powder, give it a good whisk so it dissolves properly into the milk. Pour the milk mixture into the pan with the onion and add in the nutritional yeast, stock cube and black pepper. Cook the cheesy sauce for about 5-8 minutes until it starts to thicken up and become kind of besciamel sauce consistency. Make sure to keep whisking it to avoid any lumps. If using add in the grated vegan cheese and give it a really good mix. Pour the cheesy sauce on top of the broccoli and cauliflower. Sprinkle the ground almond or breadcrumbs and add the flaked almonds. Cover the tray with some foil and bake it in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes until the top starts to go golden and crispy. Make sure to serve them straight away while still warm! 

Continue Reading

Quinoa & Shitake Stuffed Squash

The stuffed squashes look so pretty and they are packed with so much flavours and different textures. I love the earthy flavours of mushrooms combined with the sweetness of the cranberries and pomegranate with a little crunchy bite from the pecans. Ingredients:

Serves 4

For the quinoa stuffing:

1 cup of dry quinoa + 2 cups of water

About 250gr of Shitake mushrooms – sliced 

1 red onion – finely chopped 

2 garlic cloves – crushed 

The seeds of 1 pomegranate 

A handful of pecans – roughly chopped 

A handful of chopped dried cranberries

2 tbsp of lime juice 

2 tbsp of soy sauce 

1 tbs of finely chopped fresh parsley 

1 tbsp of oil for cooking 

Salt & pepper to taste

About 4 small squashes 

With a sharp knife cut the top off the squashes. Cut a circle in the middle and scope out all the seeds and the stringy pulp. Brush them with some oil. Put the “top” back on the squash and bake them in the oven for 25 minutes until they start to soften.

Start by cooking the quinoa. Add the dry quinoa + the 2 cups of water to a pan. Bring it to boil. Once its boiling turn the heat down, put the lid on and cook for about 10-5 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Fluf the quinoa with a fork and leave it onto one side.

In a separate pan add in the oil with the finely chopped onion. Cook the onion on a medium heat until it starts to soften and caramelised. Add in the crushed garlic and cook for another minute. Add in the chopped shiitake mushrooms and the soy sauce. Cook on a medium heat for around 10 minutes until all the water from the mushrooms have evaporated. Add the cooked quinoa, chopped pecans, dried cranberries, lemon juice, chopped parsley and the pomegranate seeds. Give everything a good mix and adjust with salt and pepper.

Fill up the squashes with the quinoa filling, put the top back on and bake them in the oven for another 8 minutes. 

Serve them straight away while still hot! 

For this recipe I have used Robert Welch

Signature knife stater set, Pebble oak chopping board and Campden non stick frying pan which together are just the perfect gift for budding chefs friends and family or for anyone who wants to upgrade their kitchen experience! Find out more here 

Continue Reading

Burro & Salvia Sweet Potato Gnocchi

If you have been following me for a while you know how much I love gnocchi! They are just the most comforting food ever! Nothing beats a bowl of pillowy soft gnocchi on a rainy and cold day. I am going to be honest, I normally buy already made gnocchi as hey they are so convenient! But if you have a some extra time it’s really fun to have go yourself and get the kids involved too! Since these gnocchi are so filling I kept the sauce really simple. Burro & Salvia (butter and sage) is a classic Italian combination usually used to accompany tortelloni but I think it world perfectly with this dish too. The fresh sage infuse the butter with the most gorgeous flavour and it goes so well with the earthy flavour of the mushrooms. Please don’t substitute the fresh sage with dry as it won’t have the same flavour and it’s the key ingredients of the sauce!

Ingredients:

For the gnocchi:

2 large sweet potatoes 

1/2 cup of plain flour 

For the sauce:

A generous tablespoon of vegan butter 

300gr of baby chestnut mushrooms sliced in half 

1 tbsp of soy or Tamari sauce 

An handful of fresh sage leaves 

Plenty of fresh black pepper 

To make the gnocchi: 

Pierce the sweet potatoes and other bake them whole in the oven for around 40 minutes in the oven until soft and squishy or to save time, cook them in the microwave for 10 minutes ( I used the microwave). Once cooked let them cool down for 10-15 minutes until you are able to handle them. Peel off the skin and with a fork or potato masher mash down the inside until you have a fairly smooth puree. Measure 1/2 cup of sweet potato flesh (don’t use the rest).

Dust your work surface with some flour and place the sweet potato mash in the middle. Add on top and the flour and with your hands mix together. The dough will be slightly wet, don’t worry totally normal! If it stick to your working surface add extra flour. Divide the dough into small balls.

Roll each balls into long logs, cut the log into pieces, about 2 1/2 cm wide. Press a fork into the gnocchi to create “grooves” (optional). Repeat the process until you have used up all the dough.

To make the sauce add the butter to a large pan, once hot add in the sliced mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms on a fairly high heat until they start to brown. Add in the sage leaves and the dash of soy sauce and cook for another 4-5 minutes. 

Boil a large pan of water and add a pinch of salt. Once the water is boiling gently drop the gnocchi in. If you are cooking all of them you might want to cook them in batches (about 20 each time) Cook the gnocchi until the float to the surface (about 2-3 minutes). Remove the gnocchi and toss them in the pan with the butter & sage sauce. Give them a good shake around so they coated in the sauce and serve with plenty of black pepper.

 

Continue Reading

Thai Coconut Noodle Soup

can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this soup! It’s so lusciously creamy and the noodles addition just take this dish to the next level. The noodles are cooked in the creamy coconut sauce so the absorb all the gorgeous flavours making them even more delicious! It’s the perfect comfort food for when you want a super cosy bowl of goodness! For this recipe I have used Vita Coco Orginal Coconut milk which works so perfectly with all the Thai flavours and adds a subtle sweetened to the dish. For the veggies I have chosen tenderstem broccoli and shiitake mushrooms, but other great additions are packchoi or carrot ribbons. 

Ingredients:

Serves 2-3 people

1 white onion, finely sliced 

3 garlic cloves, crushed 

1 piece of fresh ginger (about a thump size) peeled and finely grated

1 tbsp of Vitacoco Coconut Oil + 1 extra tsp to cook the tofu

1-2 tbsp of Thai green curry paste 

400 ml of Vita Coco Original Coconut Milk 

2-3 cups of vegetable stock (depending on how creamy or runny you like it)

1 block of firm tofu (about 280gr)

About 200gr of tenderstem broccoli (packchoi is another great option)

120 gr of shiitake mushrooms

2 tbsp of soy sauce 

200gr of noodles of your choice – I have used rice noodles 

For toppings:

A generous handful of chopped coriander 

Sesame seeds 

Chilli flakes or fresh chopped chilli 

1-2 spring onions finely chopped 

Into a large pan add in the coconut oil. Once hot add the final sliced onion and the grated ginger. Cook on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the onion starts to soften and become translucent. Add in the crushed garlic and cook for another minute keep stirring from time to time to prevent burning. Add in the curry paste and give it a good stir. Pour in the coconut milk and the veggie stock and let it cook on a low to medium heat for 10-15 minutes. 

In the meantime heat up the tsp of coconut oil in a large pan. Drain the tofu and slice it into cubes.  Add it to the pan together with 1 tbsp of soy sauce. Fry the tofu for about 8 minutes until it starts to go crispy on the outside. Remove the tofu from the pan and leave it onto one side. To the same pan add in the shiitake mushrooms and the tenderstem broccoli with the remaining soy sauce. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and the broccoli tender. 

With a hand blender blend the coconut broth until it’s super creamy and smooth. Add the noodles to the sauce and cook them as long as they require. Serve the noodle soup into each bowls and top it with the tofu, broccoli and mushrooms. Sprinkle with some fresh coriander, chilli flakes, sane seeds and some spring onions. Enjoy! 

Continue Reading

Vegan Omelette with Mushrooms & Kale

This omelette is by far one of the tastiest thing I made recently! I know I say this all the time but trust me, you got to make this! The chickpea flour combined with silken tofu create the fluffiest on the texture so close to a regular egg omelette! The filling options are obviously endless but I personally love creamy avocado, panfried mushrooms, kale and creamy cashew cheese. It’s a great breakfast/brunch dish or for whenever you want something super quick and delicious!

Serves 1 

Ingredients:

For the omelette 

1/2 block of silken tofu (about 150gr) Please don’t sub it with the regular firm tofu as it won’t work!

1/2 cup of chickpea flour (also called Gram flour)

1/2 cup of water 

3 tbsp of nutritional yeast 

1/2 tsp of salt 

1/2 tsp of turmeric powder (for color)

1 tsp of baking powder 

A dash of oil for cooking

For the filling:

1/2 avocado 

A squeeze of lime juice

Salt and pepper to season

For the mushrooms & Kale:

About 150gr of chestnut mushrooms sliced 

A generous handful of finely chopped kale 

1 garlic clove crushed 

A dash of soy sauce 

Other Addition:

Some cashew cream cheese or any other vegan cheese of your choice 

Place all the ingredients for the omelette Into a blender and blend util smooth and creamy. Let the batter sit in the blender for 5 minutes, this will help to thicken it up. Heat up a dash of oil into a large non stick pan. Once hot pour in the batter and try to create a round shape. Cover the pan with a lid and cook the omelette for about 5 minutes on the first side. Flip on the other side and cook for another 2-3 minutes. In the meantime in separate pan add a touch of oil and the crushed garlic. Cook the garlic on a low heat for only a couple of minutes. Add in the sliced mushrooms and chopped kale. Add the soy sauce and cook for 5-8 minutes on a medium heat until all the water from the mushrooms has evaporated.

Serve the omelette in a large plate. In a small bowl mash the avocado with a fork and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Spread the quacamole onto the omelette, add the mushrooms and kale and top it with some cashew cream cheese. Enjoy while still warm!

Continue Reading

Travel Guide to Namibia

For some reason Africa never made it to my travel bucket list. Mostly because of safety and health related reasons (predominately the malaria scare) I never really thought about visiting this so waste and fascinating continent. My recent trip to Namibia changed my prospective about Africa completely! Now I seriously can’t wait to visit other countries on this continent.

Sam got invited for a work trip in Windhoek and I decided to tag along so we ended up extended his trip so we could see more of the country. Please bear in mind that Namibia is so incredibly wast, what we saw was probably just a glimpse compared to what the rest of the country has to offer. But nevertheless I hope you enjoy my little travel diary 🙂 

Windhoek & Around : If Sam didn’t have his work meetings in the capital we definitely wouldn’t have spent so much time there (3 days). The city is extremely modern and in all honesty there is no much to see. We stayed at the Belvedere Boutique Hotel which was really lovely, situated in a quiet and peaceful part of the city.

 

In terms of vegan friendly restaurant I visited Klara’s Market which is a great spot for lunch and had few vegan options, a great juices and smoothies menu, dairy free milks and some delicious raw desserts.

The craft market cafe is another great spot for lunch. They have a big salad menu, freshly squeezed juices and the most delicious homemade iced roiboos tea. Downstairs you can also browse on all sorts of local crafts like bowls, adornments, decorations, souvenirs etc..

A great spot to have an aperitif at sunset is the Hilton Hotel Rooftop bar where you can see the whole city from above.

If you are coming or going to Windhoek I would highly recommend to visit the Gocheganas Private reserve (30 minutes drive from the City). It’s a private natural reserve with hotel facilities, spa, restaurant and pool. We only went for the day but I think it would be lovely to also spend a night there as the facilities are really great. We booked a game drive for the evening and we were in utter shock when we spotted a family of rhinos, followed by Giraffes, Zebras and lots of Springbucks. It was incredible as I always wanted to see Rhinos in their natural habitat and these gorgeous animals definitely didn’t disappoint! 

Etosha National Park: Although the Etosha National Park is very far from Windhoek (4-5 hours depending on where you are staying) we felt we had to see it as it’s the largest national park in Namibia and home to so many incredible animals. 

If you are planning to visit make sure to take a map and a tom tom with you as the road signs are basically non existent. We somehow managed to get lost and it took us way longer than we planned to eventually get there. Please also bear in mind that the actual park is incredible huge so it can take an incredible amount of time to drive from one end to the other.

We booked our accommodation inside the park and I would highly recommend it as you really get to experience being completely immersed in nature and it’s so much easier to book game drives. We stayed at the Halali Lodge which was a bungalows complex with a restaurant, a basic food shop and a pool. The lodges inside the national park get booked up really quickly so make sure to book your accommodation super in advance. 

The food at the lodge restaurant was pretty simple but the buffet had some vegan options (normally steamed vegetables and cous cous) which definitely made life a lot easier. For breakfast the options were definitely more limited (only fruit and toast) so it might be worth while to stock up on some cereal, muesli, dairy free milks etc before entering the park. 

We booked an early morning game drive (5.30 am start) while we were there and it was just so magical to see the sunrise above the savana. The sky in Namibia cal literally looks like it’s lit on fire at sunrise or sunset so make sure to stop to see this beautiful nature’s miracle during your trip! 

We were so lucky we saw a family of lions with 2 males, 2 lioness and 2 puppies. It was just priceless being so close to these incredible animals. I really don’t think I will ever find the words to describe what I felt but it really made the whole trip worthwhile. 

You don’t necessarily have to book a game drive to see the animals. We saw so many animals just  by driving by ourself around the park but the guides are normally very knowledgeable and they will take you to specific spots where they know normally animals congregate (usually water holes).

Swakopmund: 

Swakopmund is a relatively sleepy seaside town with a mellow and chill-out vibe on the south west side of Namibia. After few intense days in National park (and a very long drive) we arrived in Swakopmund pretty exhausted so we took a full day to just relax, make the most of hotel spa, stroll around town and eat! We stayed at the rather swanky Strand Hotel which Sam’s client booked for us. It’s definitely on the higher price end of the scale for our budget so if we had to pay for it ourself we probably would have stayed somewhere else. But I have to admit it’s a beautiful hotel with ridiculously comfy beds and a lovely spa with plenty of amazing treatments (which they turned out to be relatively cheap). In terms of vegan food Swakopmund has actually quite few options which I was really impressed by! The first and definitely my favourite is Bits & Pizzas which has a full vegan pizza menu + 1 vegan dessert. The pizza was truly excellent, thin and crispy (as I like it) with delicious vegan cheese (not rubbery or gluey). It was also massive! So sadly I didn’t have any space for dessert.

 The second vegan is spot is a very homy cafe called Nature’s Path which is super small and super cute. The menu is completely vegetarian with plenty of vegan options. I had a delicious peanut butter African bean stew with brown rice, steamed greens and beetroots. Everything tasted really homemade, with little to no oil so it was by far the healthiest meal of the holiday! The food is entirely made from scratch upon order so it can take up to 30 minutes to arrive so don’t go there if you are in a rush!

The last restaurant we visited was Can Thai Asian restaurant which as pretty much any Thai restaurants had plenty of vegan options. I ordered a Thai green veggie curry with eggless fried rice and it was delicious! 

Swakopmund is right next to the Namibian desert so we booked a desert tour (with Charly’s tour). It was a lovely experience and I would definitely recommend it. It was my first time in a desert and I was just in awe of how big and vast it was. Our tour guides were really knowledgeable and manage to show us desert geckos, snakes and other small reptiles. It was also really fascinating to find out more about the desert eco system and how these creature manage to survive in such harsh conditions.

Sadly it was time to leave Swakopmund and head back to Windhoek to catch our plane back to London. I really wished we could have stayed longer! I definitely left Namibia with so much love for this beautiful country, I seriously can’t wait to come back! 

Few things I would recommend when visited Namibia:

1- Hire a car: Unless you are on tour a car is essential to travel around the country as public transports are basically non existent. Hire a 4×4 as at some point you will probably drive down some non pavemented road. And especially if you are planning to visit the Etosha National Park a 4×4 is needed. The mains roads are all in really good conditions and the whole country is extremely safe to drive around by yourself. I would suggest to arm yourself with a road map and ask the rental place for a tom tom as the road signs are pretty scarce.

2- Pack plenty of snacks + water when driving. Namibia is huge and scarcely populated.You can drive for over 100 km without passing a petrol station or a shop so make sure you have plenty of water with you especially considering the scorching hot temperatures.

3- Invest in a really good sunscreen. This might be a recommendations more for the ladies than for the boys but Namibian sun is merciless! The weather generally is super dry and the sun is just one the strongest I have experienced! I made sure I applies SPF50 4-5 times during the day and I smothered plenty of facial oil at night to prevent my skin to feel super dry.

4- Take some food with you. I wouldn’t call Namibia a very vegan fried country so if you are eating a plantbased diet it might be worth it to pack few things like snacks, breakfast muesli, dairy free milks etc.

MUST SEEN: Without the shadow of doubt the Etosha National Park. I never really been to a zoo (apart from when I was 8 and I went on school trip just to be horrified by it after 5 minutes) so for me see wild animals in their natural habitat was utterly priceless. It was overwhelming (in a good way) to see these incredible creatures roaming free and it was definitely worth getting lost for hours! 

If you want to see more of my Namibian Adventure check out on my Instagram page the highlight “Namibia”. Happy Travels!

Continue Reading

Creamy Porcini & White Bean Stew

This stew is so scrumptious and packed with flavour! By adding a little bit of soy cream it become super creamy and indulgent! The porcini mushrooms add a really hearty and rich flavour which goes so well wit the buttery texture of the beans. This stew is ideal for cosy nights in and it freeze perfectly well!

Serves 3-4 people

Ingredients:

200gr of dried haricot beans soaked in water for at least 6 hours or overnight

1 head of garlic

1 white onion finely chopped

A handful of dried porcini mushrooms

1 celery stick, finely sliced

A generous handful of cavolo nero roughly chopped

2 tbsp of soy or oat cream

1 tbsp of Schwartz dried parsley

Plenty of salt and pepper to taste

A generous dash of olive oil for cooking

Drain and rinse the soaked beans and place them in a large pan or if you want to save time a pressure cooker. Nestle the garlic in the beans and cover witrh plnety of cold water. If you are using a regular pan bring to boil then simmer on a low heat for 50-60 minutes until the beans are tender. If you are using a pressure cooker you wil only need to cook the beans for 20 minutes.

In the meantime soak the porcini mushroons in boiling water for about 15-20 minutes. Drain the mushrooms but reserve the water. Roughly chop the mushrooms.

Drain the beans and and place them into a bowl. Fish out the garlic bulb and squeeze out the garlic pulp.

To a large pan add the dash of oil and add the finely chopped onion and celery and fry on a medium heat for  5-8 minutes until the onion starts to soften and caramelised. Add in the chopped porcini mushrooms, beans and garlic. Add the porcini water until the beans are covered. Put the lid on and cook for 20-25 minutes on a low heat. Keep adding more porcini water if the beans get too dry. The beans should go really soft and creamy. Add in the soy/oat cream, salt and pepper, Schwartz dry parsley and the chopped kale. Mix everything together and cook for another few minutes. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and if you fancy some crusty bread.

Continue Reading
1 2 3 24