Pizzaria Volare, North London

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love pizza. Pre-veggie/veganism, the boy and I were partial to the occasional (weekly) Domino’s 2 For Tuesday deal.
Switching over to our current veggie and vegan lifestyles, our new go to became Papa Johns, whose original crusts are vegan friendly (and so delicious, even the pups are fans)!
Now, after both experiencing real Italian thin crust pizzas in Italy, our tastes have refined somewhat. And as much as I do love a good Franco Manca or a Pizza Pilgrim, these aren’t local to us in North London, so we have been on the hunt for an authentic and local restaurant to frequent.
And then we found Pizzaria Volare, Bowes Road. We’ve often walked past on our way to other places, but this time we headed there specifically, and we weren’t disappointed.
Here’s what we ordered:
1
A deliciously fresh Tricolore Salad – rocket, avocado, tomato & mozzarella (on the side).
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A side order of Patatas Bravas with a spicy tomato sauce (again, on the side – a theme may be occurring).
And then my absolute favourite (and often cheapest!) pizza of all time…
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Pizza Marinara – tomato pizza sauce, garlic (and lots of it), oregano & fresh basil.
All washed down with a complimentary shot of limoncello and a rather good value bill.
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Oh and did you know that Peroni is vegan friendly? Rude not to, really.
A great little vegetarian & vegan friendly meal in a lovely authentic Pizzaria; a must if you find yourself in our neck of the woods. Attentive staff, only too happy to make slight adjustments to their plentiful menu, delicious food and reasonably priced.
Pizzaria Volare
167 Bowes Road
N11 2JA
020 3105 2662

Which Foods to Eat for Maximum Plant Based Nutrition

I don’t know about you, but as a vegan I often get asked if my diet can be complete without animal produce. How do I get enough protein for example, or where do I get calcium or iron from? So I thought I’d pull together a quick, though not definitive, list of plant based foods that pack a nutritious punch.

Essential for all living beings, Calcium is a main material in our bones and teeth. Find it in:

  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spinach

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An Iron deficiency can cause anemia, a decreased number of red blood cells, and leave you feeling weak, tired and irritable. Avoid these symptoms by consuming these foods:

  • Beans
  • Brown rice
  • Curly kale
  • Dried fruits (apricots)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach
  • Watercress

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Beta-carotene is found in colourful fruits and vegetables. Although it is not actually an essential nutrient, our bodies convert it in to Vitamin A, which gives us healthy skin and immune systems, along with good eye health and vision. Find it in:

  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Red bell pepper
  • Spinach

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Vitamin D helps to regulate calcium and phosphate in our bodies. A lack of Vitamin D can lead to bone deformities lick rickets in children, and bone pain called osteomalacia in adults. Keep yourself topped up with these foods:

  • Mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight
  • Sunshine

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Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can prevent free-radicals forming in our tissue. Find it in:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Spinach
  • Wheatgerm

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Vitamin K helps our blood to clot and form scabs on wounds in order for them to heal.

  • Broccoli
  • Cereals
  • Spinach

Vitamin C protects our cells and keeps them healthy, which in turn helps with healing. In extreme cases, a lack of Vitamin C can cause scurvy. Up your intake by munching on these foods:

  • Blackcurrants
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Potatoes
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Strawberries

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Folate and Folic Acid are water-soluble forms of Vitamin B. Folate is the natural form, whilst folic acid is the synthetic form that is added to foods like cereals, flour, breads, pastas, cookies, crackers etc, becuase it is great at treating low levels of folate in our blood, which can cause conditions such as anemia.

  • Avocado
  • Brown rice
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Peas
  • Spinach

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A Complete Protein contains all the essential amino acids that cannot be synthesised by our bodies, but are crucial to help our muscles repair themselves. All you athletes and yogi out there, make sure you eat plenty of these foods:

  • Buckwheat
  • Chia
  • Hempseed
  • Quinoa
  • Soybeans

 

And also a combination of these Incompete Proteins:

  • Beans
  • Cereal
  • Chickpeas
  • Nut and seeds

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Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of fuel, used easily for energy and needed for our central nervous systems, kidneys, brain and muscles (including our heart) to function properly. Found in these different forms:

  • Fiber from the fleshy part of fruits, oats, dries beans, peas and vegetables with their skins on
  • Starch from bread, rice, potatoes and pasta
  • Sugars from fruits

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Fiber can prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and even some cancers, as well as improving our digestive health. Fiber is only found in foods that come from plants. Non-vegan foods such as meat, fish and dairy do not contain any fiber at all! There are 2 types of diaetary fiber – soluble or insoluble – and our bodies deal with them differently. Our bodies digest soluble fiber, whilst insoluble fiber passed through us undigested, helping to move other foods through our digestive systems.

  • Soluble:
  • Fruite, such as bananas and apples
  • Golden linseeds
  • Oats, barley and rye
  • Root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes

 

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  • Insoluble:
  • Bran
  • Cereals
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Wholemeal bread

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Fat Soluble Vitamins vs. Water Soluble Vitamins:

  • Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are found in fatty and oily foods. These vitamins are crucial for optimum health
  • Water soluble vitamins (C, B and B9) cannot be stored in the body, so they need regular replenishment. Many dieticians recommend steaming or grilling these foods, rather than boiling, as these vitamin types can easily be lost through heat or air exposure

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!

Vegan Spicy Tomato, Vegetable & Bean Soup

Vegan Tomato, Vegetable & Bean Soup
Vegan Tomato, Vegetable & Bean Soup
I have 2 delicious & exciting new recipes to share with you this week.
First up is a warming wholesome spicy tomato soup, packed full of winter veg and nourishing white beans.
I quite often throw together a vegetable stew but in the interest of value, and wanting to make it last all week for lunch at work, I decided to put my thinking cap on and try something a little different this time.
What I didn’t want was a watery, flavourless soup so this one is jam packed with herbs, spices & tasty vegan stock.
Here’s what you’ll need :
The Ingredients
* 1 x large white onion, diced
* 300g x carrots, peeled & sliced
* 3 x garlic cloves, peeled & minced
* 1 x large red chilli, finely chopped
* 1/2 x large or 1 x medium sweet potato, peeled & sliced
* 1 x medium butternut squash, peeled & sliced
* 1 x courgette, sliced
* 100g x curly kale
* 1 x tin of white beans (I used haricot)
* 1 x tin chopped tomatoes
* 500g x passata
* 1 litre x vegan stock (I used Bouillon)
* 1 tsp x dried basil
* 1 tsp x dried oregano
* 1 tsp x dried thyme
* 1 tbsp x smoked paprika
* 1 x tsp ground cayenne pepper
* Salt & pepper to taste
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I know what you’re thinking & you’re right, that is a lot of ingredients. Feel free to leave out or substitute whatever you fancy. I used what I had in the fridge but this is such a versatile recipe that you can pretty much use what ever veg you have. Next time I might even add some wholewheat fusilli pasta too!
Here’s how you make it :
Ooh one more thing first; I’ve been trying not to cook with oil recently. I know some have a lot of health benefits in them (rapeseed oil for example, is low in saturated fats, packed with omega 3 & vitamin E, high in monounsaturated fats and contains no artificial preservatives and is trans fat and GM free!), but they contain so many calories that I’ve been looking for a lighter way. Bear with me here, I’ve been using water. Just enough to coat whatever I’m cooking, and create a little steam. You don’t get that crispness or chargrilled skins that you might when cooking with oil, but it works just fine & is absolutely calorie free!
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The Method
1. Heat about 5mm of water in a large, deep casserole dish
2. Once bubbling add diced onion, sliced carrots, minced garlic and red chilli
3. “Fry” for a few minutes, until the onion starts to soften
4. Next add the sliced courgette, sweet potato and butternut squash, along with all the herbs & spices, and season with salt & pepper
5. Add the stock, passata & tinned tomatoes then simmer for 15 minutes
6. Add the beans and simmer for a further 10 minutes
7. Add the kale and cook for a final 5 minutes – you can adjust seasoning at any point so make sure you taste as you go
8. Serve!
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I split mine in to Tupperware for the week’s lunches, but you should be able to get about 6 portions out of these ingredients.
Next up Avocado Courgetti + Balsamic Vegetables…

IsItVeganUK Goes to Barcelona – Day 1 : Friday 31st Nov 2014

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If you follow my Instagram (@isitveganuk), you may have noticed that I have just spent a beautiful and delicious weekend with the boyfriend in Barcelona.

I thought I’d share my vegan findings with you, in the hope of inspiring some vegan travelling, to this, my favourite of all cities – where we hope to move one day.

This was our second visit to this historical and foodie city, however this was a very different experience for us both. We were meat eaters the first time around and so this trip required some intense research and planning. We both suffer from a very common affliction – Food Strops! – and so being hungry in a fairly unfamiliar city, with no vegan offerings in sight, simply could not happen. I actually took a stash of Nakd Cashew Cookie bars (which the boyfriend is now sick of, while I remain absolutely smitten) to keep on me at all times, in case either of us felt the irrational anger that comes with hunger creeping up on us.

Before I get started on Barcelona itself, I must point out that we were able to get a very green and rather lovely sandwich from Pret A Manger at Stansted Airport. Enticed by the name – “Super Greens” – I was so happy to discover it was vegan and contained some rather healthy ingredients : wholegrain bread * avocado * kale dressing (wild mushrooms, lemon juice and tofu) * spinach * red peppers * toasted almonds (ingenious) * Pret seasoning. I’d reccommend if you’re ever out and about and need something quick and safe – a very good vegan option that’ll keep you going. Check it out : http://www.pret.com/menu/sandwiches/super_greens_PUK5336.shtm

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  After a quick flight, most of which I slept through given the ungodly early hour, and a brief pit stop at our hotel, we went in search of nourishment and stumbled upon Teresa Carles’ Flax & Kale – the boyfriend commented “that must be vegan with a name like that”. I had actaully read about this place beforehand, as the Teresa Carles restaurant itself had been reccommended to me on Instagram by @bcnfoodies. Flax & Kale is 1/3 of Teresa Carles’ food empire and despite what the name suggests, is not actual vegan, or even vegetarian, but is a healthy “flexitarian” restaurant – 80% plant based + 20% oily fish. We didn’t eat here, but luckily attached to Flax & Kale is another 1/3 of the empire, Teresa’s Juicery whose moto is JUICE BETTER > BE HAPPIER > LIVE LONGER, and serves a mixture of cold pressed juices, purees and mylks. All vegan, all cleansing and all refreshingly delicious. I stuck with my current green theme and ordered “Green Medicine”, while the boyfriend ordered a very colourful “Antiox”.

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These nutricious juices kept us sustained as we strolled down to the Gothic Quarter, perused some of the stalls selling general knick knacks, then sought out somewhere to enjoy some olives and coca bread with tomatoes (something we enjoyed most nights as an appetiser).

Next on the vegan hit list was Cat Bar, which I had read about from another blogger, that apparently serve not only the best burgers in Barcelona, but the best burgers (“vegan or not”) this particular blogger has ever eaten – http://keepinitkind.com/vegan-travel-barcelona-spain-part-1/ . Hidden down a quiet back street, Cat Bar took much searching to find, but eventually we did and took a table in the back. This place has a huge selection of vegan beers, we even found Brew Dogs’ Punk IPA here, despite being brewed in Scotland! The food however, despite being tasty enough, with HUGE portions, seemed to be an after thought to accompany the alcohol.

Here’s what we ordered :

  • “Crazy” Nut/Seed Burger (me)
  • “Mexican Red” Spicy Burger (the boyfriend)
  • 2 x spicy houmous + potatoes + salad (both – this was a mistake)
  • Pumpkin Ale (the boyfriend)
  • Weiss (wheat) beer (me)

  Now there wasn’t really anything wrong with the food. The houmous was nice and spicy, but you know, it’s houmous… The potatoes were lovely and hot, which is just how I like my chips/wedges etc, but again, just potatoes. I might have been expecting too much from the burgers, and while they were nice enough and definitely filled a hole, the buns were far too big and drowned the burgers patties. And what of the patties themselves? I can’t really remember, kind of says it all really doesn’t it? Needless to say we couldn’t finish everything, and left full but not overly impressed.

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We didn’t go back to Cat Bar. In fact I think there was only 1 place we did go to more than once (multiple times!) – Gopal, but more on that later. There were far too many other vegan hot spots that we wanted try try, and we were only there for a few days. I cann’t say for sure that I definitely wouldn’t go back to Cat Bar the next time I’m in Barcelona, but next time it might just be to sample more of their amazing beer selection, rather than for a full meal.

So that wraps up the first day of our vegan tour of Barcelona last weekend. Come back to find out how we spent World Vegan Day on Saturday 1st November !!!

Follow my Instagram (@isitveganuk) for more of my vegan musings, recipes, visits, finds and of course images.

Malibu Baking – Rum & Raisin Cake – Banana & Rum Bread

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My friends over at Mailbu HQ sent me a bottle of their original rum and asked me to bake something special for World Vegan Day – which is November 1st by the way, and kicks off a whole month of celebrating all that is good and vegan in the world, check it out :
I kicked off a weekend with a lovely little vegan rum & raisin cake recipe. I’d usually use rum extract in this recipe but this time I substituted it for the real stuff. I may have taken it a little easy with the rum, so feel free to add a little more if you really want to get that beautiful coconut flavour coming through nice and strong. A deliciously moist fat free vegan cake – give it a go. As delicious enjoyed with a cup of tea of as an afternoon snack, as with ice cream (vegan of course) for dessert.
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Vegan Malibu and Raisin Cake
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 ½ x cups brown rice flour
  • ½ x cup light brown sugar (I use Tate & Lyle as it’s vegan friendly)
  • 2 x teaspoons baking powder (this has to be fresh in order for the batter to rise)
  • 1 x cup almond milk (can substitute for other nut milks)
  • 1 x pinch of salt
  • ¼ x cup apple sauce (I use homemade, check out my post for the recipe – http://isitveganuk.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/homemade-no-added-sugar-apple-sauce/ )
  • 1 x cup raisins
  • 2 x tablespoons Malibu Original

METHOD

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
2. Line a loaf tin with baking paper
3. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and stir well
4. Add the almond milk and applesauce and stir again
5. Add raisins and Malibu and stir for a final time
6. Pour your batter in the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes
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Second on my weekend venture in to all things Malibu, was a variation on a classic loaf of Banana Bread – with added Malibu for good measure, obviously.
I went all out with this recipe and added in double the quantity I’d previously used in the Rum & Raisin Cake. I thought the strength of the banana and cinnamon would even it out. Indeed it did, once again you can probably add a little bit more if you so desire.
This recipe is seriously simple, I don’t like complicated bakes. Made with only a handful of ingredients it’s so easy to throw together, though it does take a while to bake.
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 Vegan Banana and Malibu Bread
INGREDIENTS
  • 5 x large over-ripe bananas
  • 1 x cup of almonds
  • 2 x cup of pecans
  • 1 x cup of brown rice flour
  • ½ x cup of maple syrup (you can substitute for agave syrup or similar, but the maple syrup adds to the sweet nutty flavour)
  • 3 x tablespoons flax seeds (you can swap for chia seeds if you prefer)
  • 2 x tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 x tablespoons Malibu Original

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METHOD

1. Pre-heat your oven to 150C

2. Blend the almonds and pecans in a food processor to form a flour. I had to do mine in batches, about a handful at a time

3. Once all your nuts are blended to a flour, put in to a mixing bowl and along with the brown rice flour, maple syrup, flax seeds and cinnamon, and mix everything together.

4. Peel and mash all the bananas the bananas until smooth, then stir into the bread mix

You’ll end up with quite a wet sticky mixture, don’t worry, this is the right consistency

5. Use coconut oil to grease your trusty loaf tin and pour the mix in

6. Bake in your pre-heated oven for about 1 hour

 

I use a toothpick or skewer to check my bakes are cooked the way through. Stick it in to the centre of the cake / load, if it comes out clean, you’re done. If there’s mixture or batter left on the toothpick or skewer when it comes out, pop it in for a little longer – this will have to be a judgement call.

I had a slice, ok 2 slices, of this delicious bread after dinner this evening, with a thin layer of Meridians Crunchy 100% Peanut Butter. It can however be enjoyed on it own as it has so much flavour, but always accompanied with a cup of tea.

 

So there you have it, my weekend spent indulging in Malibu, though not in the way I usually would! Try out these recipes for yourself and let me know what you think. Too much or not enough rum? That’s the important question!

Oh and just to note, I used brown rice flour in both of my bakes, as its naturally gluten free, but you really could substitute for any flour you like.

Come back soon for more vegan recipes and keep up to date with my vegan life in London on my Instagram page – @IsItVeganUK