Vegan fashion directory part 2: where to buy vegan-friendly handbags

As much as finding a pair of shoes, boots or heels is a personal choice (you can read all about my post on brands that offer vegan shoes here), as women, we like to carry stylish bags that define our personal style. So where do you go for that perfect arm candy, for work or for going out?

Hopefully this blog post will have you sorted and as with my post on vegan shoes, there will be something here to suit everyone. Continue reading “Vegan fashion directory part 2: where to buy vegan-friendly handbags”

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Homemade three-layer vegan berry cheesecake: the recipe

A lot of non-vegans are usually worried about missing out on foods they enjoy, “but what do you do about protein?”, “how do you eat enough to feel full?” and “I’ll miss the taste of (insert dish here)”. What non-vegans don’t realise is that not everyone was born vegan and there are a lot of dishes that we missed as well when we decided to make the switch.

This is something I can confidently say whenever I’m told non-vegans will miss out on this dish or that: being vegan and missing a non-vegan dish means that whatever you think you’ll be missing out on, another vegan will have also missed it and come up with a vegan version that tastes just the same, if not better.

So you think you’ll be missing out on cheesecake? There are plenty of great recipes out there that have long employed the use of our trusty friend to get you the right texture and flavour. I present to you, the cashew nut.

Soaked and blended, this nut is perfect to achieve that texture and flavour you miss from non-vegan cheeses. I’ve also previously shared another recipe that uses cashews to make a lovely herb and garlic vegan cheese (see here).

One of my favourite vegan chefs is The Buddhist Chef because he uses such simple methods to make the most amazing dishes. Maybe it’s also because fo the ‘Buddhist’ in the name of his blog that appeals to my inner self, but whatever the reason (whether it’s the Buddhist element or the veganism), it works for me. I’ve tried a few of Jean Phillipe’s recipes over time, but the recipe for his vegan cheesecake bites (see here) is a firm favourite.

Not only do I love cheesecake, it’s also so simple to make, but results in a beautiful presentation that is bound to impress vegans and non-vegans alike. Who doesn’t love cheesecake?

The recipe calls for graham crackers, but if you’re in the UK, you can get vegan digestive biscuits (I bought Tesco own brand Free From digestive biscuits that are suitable for vegans at the time of writing this). If you prefer to use vegan margarine, you can use this instead of the coconut oil needed in the base. The recipe also calls for strawberries, but I knew the guests I was making the cheesecake for would have preferred a mix of flavours, so I went with frozen mixed berries I already had in the freezer. For a professional touch, strain the berries so the top jelly layer is clear for the coulis. I’m not a big fan of creating too much food waste though and felt it gave it a more realistic touch. I was making two cheesecakes at the same time (multi-tasking at its finest! I just doubled the recipe and split the quantities between two tins), so I made one of them with the coulis strained and left the berries unstrained for the second cake.

Another tip I feel I should mention is that the cheesecake should remain in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. The reason I had to make 2 cheesecakes is because we had guests over for one and we were travelling with the other to visit family friends. Although we make sure to pack the chill bag with plenty of ice packs and chilled gel packs, it didn’t seem like it was enough and the coulis layer didn’t stay in jelly-form when we arrived at our destination. To make the coulis layer firm, add more agar agar powder to your jelly mix. The jar of agar agar I bought from Lakeland recommends 1g of agar agar powder to 100ml of liquid, so measure how much liquid you end up with once your coulis is cooked and add the correct amount of agar agar accordingly.

Now here’s the recipe for creating your own.

Vegan berry cheesecake

Ingredients
Serves 24 mini cheesecakes or one large cheesecake to serve 12

Biscuit base
150g Free From or vegan digestive biscuits
4 tbsp (60ml) coconut oil

Cheesecake layer
1 1/2 cup (375ml) cashews (soaked in 1L of hot water for an hour then drained)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tsp corn flour
1 1/2 tsp agar agar powder
1 can (398ml) coconut milk
Lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)

Berry coulis
4 cups (600g) frozen berries
3 tbsp (45ml) water
3 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp agar agar powder

For the biscuit base:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F (176˚C).

2. Lightly grease a 24 slot muffin tin, a non-stick muffin pan or grease and line a cake tin.

3. In a food processor or blender, pulse graham crackers until mixture has a fine texture. You can also crush graham crackers in a sealed plastic bag using a rolling pin. If you prefer a rougher texture (or want to have some fun with the manual effort of crushing it yourself with your hands), break up pieces of digestive biscuits by hand before using the side of a wooden spoon to crush it further.

4. Add coconut oil and mix well. Press the mixture together until you get a crumble-like mix.

5. Press the biscuit base mixture to the bottom of the pan. If you’re using a muffin tray, spoon 1/2 tablespoon into each muffin cup. Make sure to gently press down with fingers.

6. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For the cheesecake layer:

7. In a blender or food processor, combine the soaked and drained cashews, coconut milk, salt, vanilla extract, syrup, corn flour, agar agar powder and lemon juice and blend until very smooth.


The mixture should be smooth as a milkshake for a creamy texture

8. Pour mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

9. If using a cake tin, pour the cheesecake mixture over the biscuit base. If using muffin tins, divide filling evenly among muffin tins, up until 1/8 in (1/2 cm) from the edge. To keep the top smooth, quickly smooth it out with the flat side of a spatula. If it starts sticking to the spatula, dip it in boiling hot water before smoothing the cheesecake layer.

For the berry coulis layer:

10. Place frozen strawberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

11. Pour mixture into a colander and gently extract juice by pressing down on strawberries with a spatula. For a smooth gelatinous layer, you can discard strawberries. For a more fruity textured top layer, skip this step.

12. In a bowl, combine water, maple syrup, lemon juice and agar-agar.

13. Pour into a saucepan, adding strawberry juice. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 1 minute. Cool down for 2 to 3 minutes. (do not let the mixture set).

14. Garnish mini cakes with strawberry jelly (or add the mixture to the top of your cheesecake layer) and refrigerate for an hour until filling has set.

15. Using a blunt knife, gently pry edges to loosen the mini cakes. They should pop right out! Otherwise, remove the cake from the cake tin and the baking paper when you’re ready to serve.


Voila!

How did your cheesecake turn out? Did you enjoy your cheesecake? Is there any adjustments you had to make to your own recipe? Have you tried the recipe with other fruits in the coulis? Let me know in the comments below!

What do apples have to do with sustainable luxury vegan fashion?

One pervading thought that still lingers in people’s minds about the lifestyle is that vegan fashion is a little behind when ‘luxury’ materials like leather, suede and exotic animal skins aren’t used. This is something innovative individuals who are environmentally conscious and animal lovers are quickly picking up on and filling the gap for. I will talk more about some of my favourite brands later, but walking through Harrods recently, I noticed how apart from Stella McCartney, there were no other designer brands that were vegan friendly and without paying through the nose for luxury fashion. happy genie is looking to bridge that gap in the market. Continue reading “What do apples have to do with sustainable luxury vegan fashion?”

The Tartan Carrot fundraiser event for Lotus Animal Sanctuary

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I’ve had a pretty busy week eating lots and exploring new (and visiting old) vegan eateries and enjoying every morsel, so expect lots more restaurant reviews appearing on here soon! In the meantime, you may remember I wrote about the intentions to build an animal sanctuary for all animals, including those who are rescued from slaughter (see my previous post here). It seems like so long ago the amazing people at The Tartan Carrot set this date for the big fundraiser to build Lotus Animal sanctuary in central Scotland – and here it is just over 2 weeks away! Continue reading “The Tartan Carrot fundraiser event for Lotus Animal Sanctuary”

The Craft Scotland Summer Show 2017 is here!

If you’re like me and like to support local businesses and like unique pieces of jewellery and crafts, hearing the story behind the designs and how the makers created the piece, you’re in the right place. The Craft Scotland Summer Show is back for the 70th Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Designed as a calming escape from the hustle and bustle of the Edinburgh Festival, 33 of Scotland’s most talented makers and designers have been given the opportunity to contribute to the Craft Scotland Summer Show. Continue reading “The Craft Scotland Summer Show 2017 is here!”

Introduction to the vegan and cruelty free Deciem: The Abnormal Beauty Company

Before I becoame vegan, I thought buying cruelty free was the way to go. When you’re not sure what to look for, finding skincare, beauty and household products can be a bit of a minefield, but luckily there are plenty of vegans out there who are more than happy to help fellow vegans look for suitable brands. The best way to go about it is to join a local vegan group who will be able to advise you where you can find products that are available in your local area. Sometimes having a friend who has similar interests to you can also give you the same information.

It was a friend of mine who lives in the US that recommended Deciem’s range of products. I was told that the Ordinary range is very affordable and effective, but I imagined it would be a brand based in the US that would cost a fortune in taxes and postage to get to the UK, but luckily it is so accessible you can purchase it from their UK online shop or go in their store in person in Covent Garden or Old Spitalfields Market. Continue reading “Introduction to the vegan and cruelty free Deciem: The Abnormal Beauty Company”

Vegan Supper Club review: The Herbivore Kitchen

There are a few monthly vegan supper clubs and vegan nights around Edinburgh to choose from if you’re interested in knowing more about eating a plant-based diet. It’s also great for vegans living in the capital city to have more options to choose from when eating out. I’ve already reviewed Bread Street Brasserie’s Vegan Night (here) and today I’m sharing with you a completely different experience with The Herbivore Supper Club. Continue reading “Vegan Supper Club review: The Herbivore Kitchen”

Restaurant review: Vegan Night at Bread Street Brasserie

As of today, I’ve been vegan for 6 months and 13 days, and it’s been one interesting and eye-opening journey. There are so many more companies catching on to the vegan wave and starting to offer more cruelty free and vegan options in all aspects of our lives, the most important one being food, but the hidden ones like makeup, skincare and household products are also things we need to think about. I’ll come onto those soon enough, but first I want to share my experience of dining at Bread Street Brasserie at one of their Vegan Nights. Continue reading “Restaurant review: Vegan Night at Bread Street Brasserie”

Vegan sweet delights: Affogato’s vegan waffles and gelato

Exploring the wonderful vegan offerings in and around Edinburgh can be a bit of a minefield, especially if you’re new like me. I’ve only been vegan for 3 and a half months, but I’ve enlisted the help of fellow vegans and bloggers Emma of Vegan Edinburgh and Lucie of Call Me Dumpling to help me explore all there is to eat (and drink) around Edinburgh! Continue reading “Vegan sweet delights: Affogato’s vegan waffles and gelato”

My favourite vegan surprise: review of TheVeganKind subscription box

I had been given a themed subscription box before as a birthday present and also subscribed for a short time to a beauty subscription box, but never ended up keeping them for long. I can be quite pernickety and trying to use all the products in the box was something I found difficult. At the time I subscribed to the beauty box, I was looking to be introduced to more products and brands I might not have been aware of, but I don’t use too much makeup and a lot of the products in the box ended up not being something I really was looking for.

When I became vegan, I was tempted by the thought of getting monthly vegan boxes in the post. TheVeganKind offers two different kind of boxes: the monthly Lifestyle Box where you receive between 5 to 8 food and lifestyle cruelty free, vegan products (worldwide delivery available); or the Beauty Box which offers a mix of skin care, cosmetics and beauty products delivered every 3 months (UK delivery only).

Given my past experience with another beauty box, I didn’t want to take the chance that I would be struggling to use all the beauty and skin care products, I decided to go with the Lifestyle Box.


Continue reading “My favourite vegan surprise: review of TheVeganKind subscription box”