HOW TO GET BACK INTO THE SWING OF THINGS

For many people, September is about getting back into routine after a relaxing holiday abroad or after weeks of BBQ’s, day trips and drinking ice cold Pimms in the garden. But then there’s the reality of work and school life as soon as September looms around the corner. However, this is the time where many of us want to get organised for the last few months of the year. So aside from trying not to panic that we have basically flown through this year, it’s time to pause and adopt a few healthy habits that will keep you productive and organised.

Time Management

Time management is a skill that we have to adopt no matter what our lifestyle is. This could mean timetabling meetings, drinks with friends or even planning your child’s social life around yours. Finding the right way to plan your time just takes some practice. Getting out that diary you were given for Christmas last year and jotting down upcoming events is a good start. However, if you spend a lot of time on-the-go or at a computer screen, Google calendar may be a better option. Just by having a Google account allows you to access your calendar on your phone, laptop or other device so it’s always to hand and you can be reminded of events or tasks to complete.

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Daily Goal Setting

Learning to organise and manage your time effectively means you can go ahead and start setting yourself some daily or weekly goals. These can be as small as cleaning the bathroom to putting all those clothes on eBay that you have been meaning to do for months. They could also be steps towards achieving a greater aspiration. By breaking down the steps in which you need to take to achieve this you can set daily goals to make it more manageable and realistic. These can be formed through creating to-do lists, either in a planner or on your phone – anywhere that you will have to hand and will refer to throughout the day.

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Meal Planning and Prep

Keeping on track of your life is a healthy habit to incorporate, but eating a healthy diet is also incredibly important so you can fuel your mind and body in order to stay productive. No surprises here – organisation comes into this too! Whilst everyone’s lifestyle is different, planning your meals ahead of time means you are less likely to be left with no options for dinner and economically you will only shop for what you know you are going to consume within the week. Meal prepping is also handy if you don’t have time to make lunch every morning or if you find yourself spending way too much on meal deals every month. Cooking up a batch of nutritious food can make sure you’re eating a healthy meal, saving the pennies and give you those few extra minutes in bed in the morning.

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Images from Unsplash:

 

PLANT-BASED FOOD GUIDE: COPENHAGEN

Whilst Copenhagen (my new favourite city!) boarders Germany meaning there is a lot of meat foods and burger bars around, Copenhagen is an  open minded place and full of heathy options. You can tell by the abundance of raw food cafes and the fact that most people cycle around the city. So it was exciting for me to check out a few of these places and try the vegan/ plant based options available – and there is still many we didn’t visit but our trip was short so hopefully there will be a sequel to this guide in the near future.

Joe and the Juice

I had seen a few Joe and the Juice cafes around London before but in Copenhagen I saw more Joe and the Juice cafes that Starbucks which was refreshing. Especially as they have have a variety of juices, a vegan protein shake and avocado sandwiches which could be made vegan. Perfect stop for refuelling after a morning of exploring the city.

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The Bagel Co

We came across this little gem on a whim and were so surprised at how great this place was. I’m already a huge bagel fan so this was embarrassingly exciting. It was deli-style so you could pick the bagel and all the fillings – I had the veggie one with allll the hummus and pesto dressing. Accompanied with a fresh juice it was a 10/10 easy and filling lunch.

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The Bronx Burger Bar

This burger bar was so close to the apartment so we thought we stop by for a late night burger and drink – we ended up staying quite late as the bar was quiet and had a nice vibe. I got a falafel and salad burger with pesto hummus and sweet potato fries. It was so good and so filling and again I had the joy of pesto incorporated too. Not a vegan or veggie establishment was the options they had were delicious nonetheless.

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Souls

This was the only place I knew I wanted to visit on my birthday for a vegan meal and Souls didn’t disappoint – the food was incredible. We had quinoa bites for a starter, vegan burgers for mains and raw chocolate cake for dessert. All the meals are raw vegan and the quality was amazing. The flavours were unreal and I just wish I could teleport here every weekend for an indulgent meal. 10/10

42Raw

Again, this cafe was on my radar and we finally visited on the last day for lunch. I was apprehensive about the food being so healthy it didn’t taste amazing but I was so wrong. I had a rye bread open sandwich with pesto, avocado, cucumber and spinach and was so good and super filling. I also grabbed a juice and a raw blueberry crumble cake which was tasty and healthy too.

 

Copenhagen is filled with lots of little cafes and restaurants that cater for vegan and plant based diets so if you are thinking of going definitely check out these recommendations – especially Souls and 42Raw! Our Airbnb had a kitchen so we were able to make a few meals ourselves – like pasta, bread and jam in the morning for breakfast and few snacks to save on money.

Ellie

POSTCARDS FROM COPENHAGEN

As I’ve mentioned before, Copenhagen has been a city on my list of places to travel to. So in January of this year my boyfriend and I decided to book the trip for my 20th birthday on April 14th-17th.  The more I read about the Danish city the more I knew I’d fall in love and I wasn’t wrong.

The Apartment

We booked a beautiful cosy apartment on Airbnb  just outside of central Copenhagen in Frederiksberg. It was a lived-in home so it  felt like we were living and experiencing the city in a unique way. It was decorated perfectly with rugs, throws and art work in each corner. The area itself was only a short walk to the bus stop and metro station which made travelling into the centre really easy, the public transport was efficient and meant we could explore many parts of the city.

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Explorations

We did not plan lots to do as we really wanted to embrace the culture and the city itself so we wanted to take each day as it came. However, we stopped off at a few of the local attractions whilst wandering around.

The Danish Design museum was the first of these which caught my eye as I saw there was a fashion exhibition on show and I love the quirky designs of Scandinavia so was keen to have a look around. As students and as under 25 y/o we entered for free and had a brief walk around the exhibitions, my favourites being the design and fashion ones as well as the Japanese design which showcased an extensive range of artefacts and paintings.

We also walked around an old fortress and found the little mermaid statue by the harbour. The centre of Copenhagen was filled with shops and cafes so it was nice to experience the quaint parts outside of the centre and the bustling parts within the centre too. We didn’t fully explore the Freetown of Christiana but the parts we did see were very interesting as it’s a place with quirky houses and artwork with free spirited minded people inhabiting the area.

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My Birthday

After a failed trip to the Tivoli amusement park – my fear of peacocks was too much to handle going there.. So we headed to Nyhavn, the harbour filled with beautifully colourful houses with many cafes and bars alongside the water. This was one of my favourite spots and was a lovely outing for my birthday before heading to dinner that evening. This was the day when the sun really came out and solidified *hopefully* the last time I will wear my fluffy coat until Winter.

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We visited many plant-based and vegan friendly cafes and restaurants so a Copenhagen plant-based food guide will be posted very soon.

This is a beautiful city and one in which I am inspired by and would love to live someday. I would highly recommend visiting for either a weekend break for longer, there is so much to see and explore and everyone is a so lovely.

Ellie

WHY BEING VEGAN IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK

It’s been over two months since I went vegan properly and despite not being plant-based for very long, I have really found it has been so much easier than I thought. There are countless arguments against veganism, however, it’s 2018 and cutting out animal products has never been easier.

If you are curious about ‘vegan myths’ or have an arguments against plant-based diets then I could not recommend enough heading to EarthlingEd’s YouTube channel. He gives factual and sound information to refute any argument you may have – he’s incredibly knowledgeable and 100% worth a watch even if you aren’t interested in turning vegan but want to know a little bit more about the lifestyle.

However, this post is simply about a few of the things that I have found really useful and will continue to do in order to make the change easy and sustainable. Being a student and being vegan is something that a lot of people may believe is difficult but it’s actually been very attainable.

1. Research the Industry

Once you have properly looked into the meat and dairy industry and educated yourself on the hidden horrors you’re so much more likely to stick with it. Great documentaries to watch are; Cowspiracy, Earthlings and What the Health – there are so many good YouTube channels like EarthlingEd which are really informative too. Obviously not everything you read will be true, but just by exploring some facts will give you more meaning towards becoming vegan/staying vegan.

2. Meal Plan

I meal planned for the most part last year as well, it’s a simple hack to save money and avoid wasting food. By jotting down a rough meal plan before you go shopping means you don’t over spend and you can use up all your food efficiently over the course of the week. Especially as I eat a lot of fresh fruit and veg, I need to know that it won’t go off ect.

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All the sweet treats. I love making simple pancakes with syrup and berries, smoothie bowls and I recently made this amazing oreo chocolate cake – such a treat but so worth it.

3. Research The Alternatives

There is an abundance of vegan options now, even if your local supermarket doesn’t stock much, check online and you will find loads. I now do my food shop online for this reason, plus is a lot better than getting a sweat on traipsing up all the hill with bags in each hand. Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s are particularly great for alternatives and they don’t cost a small fortune, despite what people may say. Once you’re educated on the things that don’t contain animal products, shopping becomes easier and easier. Also, look up the vegan options at restaurants or even better, vegan food places – look online or get the HappyCow app and browse away. My absolute fave is Zizi’s pizza – it’s amazing!

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Go-to meals; sweet potato and lentil curry, falafels and sweet potato mash with grains and spinach, fried veggies, tofu and beans always with lots of hummus.

4. Eat The Foods You Love

I’ve been plant-based for over a month now and have not eaten a single salad for a meal, why? Because I would rather be eating a fajita wrap with tonnes of hummus or a veggie burger and chips or a huge plate of pesto pasta. Don’t force yourself to eat kale if you hate kale, if ice-cream is your favourite sweet treat, then buy some damn almond dream or ben and jerry’s dairy free ice cream instead. Obviously, it’s still essential to try new things and eat a healthy, balanced diet but don’t deprive yourself or you won’t stick with it.

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Pizza with vegan cheese, mushrooms and spinach is my fave as well as this Burger and Bao vegan burger with mac and cheese truffles.

5. Be Prepared

Carrying snacks with you is always a good shout, just in case you are somewhere and there is literally nothing you can eat or if you just get hungry. It means you won’t be tempted to go for the non-vegan option and means you know you’ll won’t be in a panic to find food asap.

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Pasta!! My favourite is vegan pesto with pasta and veggies and this Sainsbury’s vg mac and cheese that I added mushrooms and spinach too. I also love adding fried veggies and vegan cheese.

I could go on and there are many I’ve missed but those were a few key things that make turning plant-based so much easier for me. I hope it was helpful.

Ellie

HOW TO ‘HYGGE’ THIS YEAR

One of the most Instagram-able books of last year, which is also in The Times Top Ten Bestsellers, is The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, as well as the the follow-up The Little Book of LykkeBoth written by the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I have always had an interest and felt inspired by Scandinavian design and fashion and now I am completely immersed in the culture too. The Danes are the happiest people in Europe and their quality of life is supposedly outstanding. I have always found pleasure in many things related to the concept of Hygge, which loosely translates in English as ‘cosiness’, but the word connotes so much more than that.

Experiences and  sharing time with loved ones is a key aspect of Hygge, whether it’s coffee dates, meals out or simply going on walks together. Togetherness is so important and I think these concepts and many others are incredibly profound in really improving your lifestyle. That’s why in January, the ‘most miserable time of the year’, these concepts can really help brighten, despite the grey skies and relentless rainfall.

Here is a breakdown of a few Hygge concepts I know I’ll be injecting into January and the indefinite future.

* Bare in mind there are many more ideologies and aspects, these are just a select few that I have adapted. Make sure to read the books or more into Hygge and the work of The Happiness Research Institute for more information – I really recommend these books!

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———- Coffee Dates ———-

Never underestimate the beauty of a good cup of coffee (or tea) especially when it is enjoyed in the company of a loved one. Whether that be a parent, a friend or a partner – anyone. I find there is nothing better than catching up with someone over a cup of coffee, even more so when it’s cold and windy outside. Take this time to put your phone away and really take pleasure in good conversation. Try to look for independent coffee shops and cafe’s to support local businesses and get away from the hustle and bustle of a Cafe Nero or Costa.

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———- Unwind, Light Candles & Read ———-

One of my goals for this year is to read and properly take some downtime and space away from my phone. I’m lucky in that I have a fair amount of free time (except all the deadlines at the end of term) but I waste it scrolling through social media for too long or watching Netflix . Which is all well and good, but reading is what really inspires me and as an aspired writer, it is essential for me to read everyday.

It is important for everyone to unwind and read – to have time away from a screen and appreciate a good book, magazine or even listen to a Podcast. Lighting candles or lights is a key aspect of Danish culture, as referenced in Hygge. They are great for setting a cosy scene and will help you relax and sink into your book. It is really good to take a step back from work, studies or anything you are focusing on and pause.

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———- Get Out and Experience ———-

Juxtaposing the reminder about cherishing those cosy nights in and taking some chill-time, it is also important to get out and experience the world around us. Walking is great, especially if you own a dog – the pleasure works both ways! January can be a dull, grey month but it can also be beautiful and crisp. Wrap up warm and take a walk or a run (if you’re on a January fitness hype) and  try get out and appreciate whats around you.

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———- Make Time for Friends ———-

Sounds obvious, yet it can be hard to keep up with work, social life, family, fitness and everything in between. Friends are so valuable and for me, when I’m sipping on my favourite cocktail (mojito obvs) and catching up with my friends – I’m living my best life! Put the effort in, whether you’re doing dry January or not  – meet up for coffee, go shopping or simply chat away from the comfort of your sofa. Make the time for friends and speak about the good and the bad, the worries or the amazing things you have coming up. If your best friend is anything like mine, you’ll also be grateful for the free life coaching sessions she provides free of charge!

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———- Ellie  ———-

WEEK 2 & 3 – UNI FOOD SHOP | VEGANUARY

Week 2 of Veganuary. A slightly different week to the last, I definitely  tried out a few vegan junk food options, made some student-style meals that I can replicate now I’m back at uni as well as do a pretty big food shop. I planned out the staple food, my favourite fresh fruit and veg and what foods have which nutrients in them, in order to get  a really balanced and healthy variety of foods.

I noted down some vegan cupboard essentials that I would need such as spices, nutritional yeast, tofu, grains and beans. Then foods such as pasta, lentils and rice as well as granola and bread. Lots of fresh fruit and veg but in proportion and in alignment with a rough meal plan for the week ahead.

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Week 3, and it’s definitely difficult cooking in my uni kitchen. The mess isn’t too much of an issue but it is the limited space in the fridge and freezer that is the problem. In our flat there are 6 of us and we have to share 1 fridge (4 shelves) and a freezer (4 drawers) between us, it’s really impractical and it means having fresh fruit and veggies is difficult.

Meal planning has been a lifesaver and having a hand blender (thanks mum) has also been great for making soups and smoothies. Nevertheless, the lazy student lifestyle has meant I’m loving the Merchant Gourmet grains, pulses and quinoa packs for a simple addition to any meal. The Mexican one is pretty close to my very low spice threshold, but it tastes amazing and of course is even better with a huge helping of hummus on the side!

 

 

WEEK ONE | VEGANUARY

Veganism has been something of interest to me for the last couple of years, I tried it once before for about six months before bringing cheese and chocolate back into my diet. However, after being vegetarian for eight years, this year is going to be when I fully cut out all animal produce and focus on living a sustainable and healthy life.

My relationship with food hasn’t always been the healthiest and my knowledge on wellbeing has also not been the  best until I began fully educating myself on as much as I could about the meat and dairy industries and this is why this time around I am coming into veganism with morals and education, rather than doing it just loose weight and as a crash-style diet.

THINGS I’VE LEARNT

  1. I actually enjoy cooking – I’ve always been fairly lazy when it comes to cooking and preparing food, it’s easy at uni just to shove some food in the oven for 20 minutes and you’re done. I always thought I was bad at cooking but this week I have proven myself very wrong. A plant based diet means cooking, experiencing and being creative with meals as well as ensuring you’ve got enough of the right foods and nutrients. I have found YouTube channels such as; Mina Rome, Christie Swadling and GraceFitUK helpful as well as The Vegan Kind, Pinterest and My Fitness Pal for recipes and tracking nutrients. This is educating me on what different foods are and how to create a balanced plant based diet.
  2. B12 and nutrition yeast – I never knew about having to take a B12 supplement before so I’m glad I do now, and wow, nutritional yeast makes such a difference in cooking. Again, so happy I’m learning how to properly sustain this lifestyle well.
  3. Holland and Barrett is bae – (and the Sainsburys free from section) both absolute life savers and made me realise actually how many substitutes there are. I love sweet treats and I’m not going to miss out that’s for sure. Especially seeing as the Sainsburys FF white chocolate tastes like white choc and icing together – DREAMY.

Next weekend I go back to Uni and have to deal with a extremely crappy kitchen, nonetheless, I will continue to cook easy and simple yet nutritious and plant based meals despite the odds. I’m so glad I’ve got these two weeks before-hand to run through some recipes and get to know how to cook certain foods so it *fingers crossed* is as easy at Uni as it has been here so far.