Vegan Christmas Dinner – Deliciously Ella Recipe Review

Vegan Christmas DinnerVegan Christmas Dinner Vegan Christmas Dinner

This year I am spending Christmas in three different places. I started in England a week before Christmas for a few days with my mum, one of my brothers and his family. I cooked a three bean and lentil chili for everyone which seemed to go down well – that was the first time I had ever cooked for my family, and it took me becoming plant-based/vegan for it to happen! I then came back to Italy for a couple of days and so I decided to cook an early vegan Christmas dinner for my partner and I, so we could have our own quiet Christmas celebration before flying to Portugal to spend time with his family.

I looked for inspiration in the Deliciously Ella app and found a ‘Sage and Apricot Nut Roast with Cranberry Sauce’, which sounded perfect. As usual, however, I ended up modifying the recipe as I couldn’t find some of the ingredients in the supermarket (which happens quite a lot as I live in a small town in Italy). I couldn’t find sage, brazil nuts or cranberries so the recipe became just ‘Apricot Nut Roast’, but it still tasted so good. It was full of great vegetables, nuts and spices, and the dried apricots really were the pièce de résistance.

I also decided to cook a side of Brussel sprouts and roast potatoes, but although I didn’t quite follow the ‘Roasted Maple Sprouts with Hazelnuts’ recipe from Deliciously Ella (as I just wanted to keep things simple), I still decided to roast the sprouts together with the potatoes, and Ella was right when she said this makes them tastier than boiling. For once I also actually made desert, and I went for the ‘Healthiest Chocolate Mousse’, which has avocado as the main ingredient! Although Ella claimed that the avocado flavour would disappear, my partner and I both felt that it was still there. Perhaps I didn’t put in enough cacao, or maybe it was just knowing it was there (I really shouldn’t have told him!)  – I would still make it again, though, as it is full of healthy fats. So that was our vegan Christmas dinner – simple to cook, healthy and tasty. Do let me know if you have tried any of these recipes, and how you got on in the comments below.

The Best Books That Make You Think

Best books

My favourite book of all time is 1984 and I have read it so many times that my copy is falling apart and is being held together with masking tape. I like to read every night before falling asleep, but I now tend to read electronic books. I know reading from a screen might not be great for my eyesight and might disturb my sleep, but I have so many books in boxes gathering dust, that I feel it is better for the environment to read an iBook. The other day I was scrolling through my iBooks app looking at the books I have read this year, and there were too many that I couldn’t remember reading. You see, I am rather partial to a 99p thriller or detective novel and whilst I enjoy them at the time, I soon forget what they are about, and can’t recall the story from the title. But, there were at least 5 books that have really stayed in my memory, and were certainly the best books I read this year. I’m not really surprised that 4 out of 5 of them are non-fiction – and you could actually argue that the fifth is not really fiction – because books that relate to real life really get me thinking. So here is my list of the best books that make you think:

  1. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Hurari. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, this book got me thinking a lot about humans and our impact on animals and the environment.
  2. The Circle by Dave Eggers. This book could possibly have been part of the reason I went offline a bit this summer, and is the fiction/non-fiction I refer to above – it definitely gets you thinking about the direction society is moving in.
  3. The Million Dollar Blog by Natasha Courtenay-Smith. This was recommended on a blog post I read on books that make you a better blogger and it made me think more about my blog and the goals I have for it. It also inspired me to self-host my blog and invest more in SEO – whether this will make my blog more successful, I don’t know, but I think it is all helping me to be a better blogger.
  4. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. After reading Sapiens, I wanted to know more about where my food was coming from, and I came across this book, and despite being a bit difficult to read in some places, I was glad to have reduced my ignorance on many aspects related to our food industry.
  5. Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon. An honest autobiographical book about mental health (and OCD in particular) full of hilarious stories. This book got me thinking about how fortunate I am to benefit from good mental health.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any recommendations for books that will get me thinking in 2018.

5 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

I have had an iPhone for about 8 years, but it was only recently that I clicked that purple Podcasts app for the first time, and I can’t believe it took me so long! I am now hooked. I listen to podcasts whilst driving, whilst walking along the river, as I am doing the weekly food shop (especially if it is really busy and I need to ‘zone out’), while I am doing a home workout, and always, always when cooking dinner. So I have put together a list of the podcasts you should be listening to right now if, like me, you enjoy fitness, health and humour.

The Rich Roll Podcast

This was the first podcast I subscribed to after seeing Rich Roll on a Netflix documentary, where his accomplishments as a plant-based ultra athlete were described. I tend to skip the first 10 minutes of the podcast as there is always a long introduction featuring some adverts, but once it gets going, the conversations he has with guests from various backgrounds (typically health-related, both physical and mental) are both meaningful and informative.

The WheyBox Podcast

This is a new podcast led by fitness influencer Tally Rye. She featured on my best Instagram accounts post, and, as I wrote there, she speaks to you as though she is your best friend. She is extremely natural at interviewing people and really keeps the conversation going. There has only been one episode so far, but I am confident I am going to continue to enjoy listening to her talking to other professionals in the health and fitness industry.

TEDTalks Health

I don’t really know if this is officially a podcast, as it just seems to just be TED YouTube videos, but its on the app, so I have included it here. As it features talks which can have visual material, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to follow if you don’t look at the screen, but I generally find I can get most of the information just from listening. Researchers and doctors share recent breakthroughs related to health, and I have so far enjoyed learning about telomeres, gut health and how we might sleep better in the future.

The Doctor’s Kitchen

This is another new podcast by someone I follow on Instagram. The Doctor’s Kitchen is Dr Rupy Aujla, an NHS doctor who believes that food is the most important health intervention anyone can make. How refreshing to listen to a medical doctor with deep knowledge of nutrition!

My Dad Wrote a Porno

I obviously left the best ‘til last! This podcast is hilarious. Jamie Morton’s dad has written a porno and he has decided to read out each chapter to the world. I just spent an hour walking along the river listening and laughing out loud to the first few episodes. Thanks Jamie!

 

Which podcasts do you think I should be listening to? Let me know in the comments below.

The Best Instagram Accounts to Follow (for Fitness, Food & Fun)

After a bit of a digital detox over the past few months, I am back to enjoying Instagram again, and I have realised that there were a few accounts that I missed more than others. It turns out that all but one of these accounts belong to young, female, fit and healthy Brits living in London. I spent 5 years living in London from when I was 18 to 23, and I think I am somehow trying to vicariously relive those years (though perhaps in a parallel universe, as I was in no way fit or healthy at the time!)

I am obviously still following all of my favourite tennis accounts, and you can find out more about those here. But read on for my opinion of the best Instagram accounts to follow that don’t focus on tennis.

@thefashionfitnessfoodie

theFFF2

Follow if… you love pick and mix but don’t like avocado (or any other green slimy foods), you are fed up of bullshit in the fitness industry, and you like a good white IG theme

@zannavandijk

zanna2

Follow if… you want to follow a blogger with substance, someone who cares passionately about fitness, conscious living, mindfulness and meditation, plant-based food, positivity, self love, and empowerment of women.

@tallyrye

tally2

Follow if… you want to follow someone who speaks to you as though you were her best friend (and shares everything related to her workouts, recipes, clothes and feelings)

@deliciouslyella

ella2

Follow if… you have bought some chia seeds, avocado, chickpeas, sweet potato, quinoa and kale, but you have no idea what to do with them

@wellness_ted

ted2

Follow if… you think the Instagram fitness/health industry takes itself too seriously and needs the piss taken out of it every now and then!

And, of course, make sure you follow @40ish_love if you are a fan of tennis or even just its fashion (!) and you are curious to see how my plant-based diet is going. Let me know who you think I should be following the comments below.

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30Fifteen Meets 40ish-Love: Smash Hit Tennis Fashion

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the best dressed tennis player of them all?

Well, thanks to 30Fifteen, I am feeling pretty well dressed right now! They sent me a number of outfits from their new tennis fashion collection to review, and I have to say I am a big fan of this Cleo dress which comes in pink, blue, black and white.

30Fifteen Cleo Dress

My partner raised an eyebrow (or two) when I first put the dress on, as it is rather short at the back due to my not-insubstantial derrière (nicely cropped out of the photo above!)… So to ensure thoughts of overexposure wouldn’t distract me during play, I have been wearing the dresses with leggings, and I actually think they look very stylish. They also allow me to wear some of my thinner leggings that have, shall we say, ‘transparency issues’.

30Fifteen Cleo Dress

Another item from the latest 30Fifteen collection that has been accompanying me to many of my tennis and Pilates sessions is the Kara Match Jacket that comes in both black and white. It has a bomber jacket style and according to one of my Instagram followers, makes me look ‘sharp’. Enough said!

Let me know what you think of these looks below!

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