Tag Archives: Food

The New York and Toronto Series: Vegan Eating in Toronto.

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Welcome back to another post in the New York and Toronto Series! Now it’s time to move onto Toronto and I’m researching where the best vegan places are in the city. (If you have any recommendations, please let me know!)

So now that we’ve talked about vegan food, sight-seeing and activities to do in New York, it’s time to do the exact same thing for Toronto. Now these lists will be shorter, simply because we’re spending less time in Toronto, but as always, if we get to these places, it’ll be great but if we don’t, we don’t.

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Sweet Hart Kitchen

While Whitney and I were talking about our trip, she came across Sweet Hart Kitchen, a vegan gluten free bakery, and oh man! They have cookies, doughnuts and cheesecakes and best of all, it’s all naturally sweetened. (I have a very sweet tooth if you haven’t already noticed!) (Photo Credit Sweet Hart Kitchen)

Hibiscus Café

Can I say no to a gluten free crepe? No, I really can’t. Hibiscus is an organic vegetarian café with the majority of their menu being vegan and all gluten free. It still serves soups and salads but it also has a wide range of sweet treats too. (Photo Credit: Hibiscus Cafe Instagram)

The Cheesecake Factory

Like many Europeans, I had never heard of the Cheesecake Factory until the Big Bang Theory. Whitney said there is quite a few locations in Toronto so I checked their menu, and while they are mostly salads, it’s still a great option for a light meal (because we can’t eat doughnuts and sweet treats all day!). (Photo Credit: The Cheesecake Factory Instagram)

THTVThe Hog Town Vegan

Moving onto more savoury but not so healthy dishes, The Hog Town Vegan seems like real “dirty” food but with a vegan twist. Soy seems to feature quite a lot here so I’ll have to be careful of that but it has everything that I think even meat-eaters would like too. (Photo Credit: The Hog Town Vegan)

KKKupfert and Kim

Breakfast, lunch AND dinner is sorted at Kupfert and Kim where they have a fantastic range of smoothie bowls and waffles for breakfast, salads for lunch and bowls of chilli and curry for dinner. Of course they have the sweet treats too but I’m very excited to try their salads and hot bowls. They’re very concentrated on producing whole foods that are completely organic and they are (almost) using all completely compostable or recycled packaging. (Photo Credit: Kupfert and Kim)

ANApiecalypse Now!

Oh my my my! These guys specialise in pizzas but they have amazing sides that I might have to try more than the actual pizza. Whitney tells me all the time about poutine so I might just have to give that a go (finally!). (Photo Credit: Apiecalypse Now!)

Paramount Fine Foods

I had never heard of this place but it turns out that they have quite a few locations worldwide including in the UK. They seem to have a lot of vegetarian options, and I was surprised to see that the calories seemed quite high on items that you wouldn’t necessarily think would be, but since we’ll be staying close to the centre, it’ll be nice to know that there is somewhere very close by for an early dinner. (Photo Credit: Paramount Fine Foods Instagram)

Urban Herbivore

This is one of the places that Whitney told me that she has been to before and she loved it! It’s filled with salad bowls, curry bowls and just real food goodness and it’s right in the middle of the city too so it’s a nice easy spot for us to get to as well. (Photo Credit: Urban Herbivore Instagram)

As I said at the beginning, if there are any other places you think are a must in Toronto, please let me know and I will happily eat myself into a food coma. Thanks for reading today’s post, I really appreciate it!

The New York and Toronto Series: Vegan Eating in New York.

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Welcome to the first post of my New York and Toronto series! I’m kicking off the first post by discussing what restaurants we would like to try specifically in New York when we’re there in March (If you haven’t read my initial post about this, I’ll link it here). I’m a research bunny so I have been so excited to start researching for this trip.

We aren’t looking for anything specific food wise during this trip. We’re still wanting to keep our diet pretty balanced throughout with an odd treat here and there, which is just as important in my opinion. I know it can be tempting to eat all the treats when you’re away on holiday but for me, I want to still eat healthy because we’ll be exploring so much that we need to make sure we’re full of good nutritious food rather than lots of sugar.

Juice Press.


(Photo Credit: Downtown Brooklyn)
This was the first place I came across in my research and it’s close to both our hotels that we’ll be staying in while we’re there, so that’s even better. I love a good juice and they seem like the perfect hot spot for smoothie bowls, fresh juices and healthy breakfasts.

Hummus Place.


(Photo Credit: Trip Advisor)
We all know that I love my falafels and this seems like the perfect place to grab a quick lunch or an early dinner. Very nicely priced as well.

Blossom on Columbus


(Photo Credit: Blossom NYC)
Blossom NYC is a completely vegan restaurant that seems to have a slightly more expensive price range but not extortionate. It has a really lovely range of starters and mains, and a massive range of sides. A quiet little date night restaurant perhaps?

Peace Food Café.


(Photo Credit: Vegan For All Seasons)
I’m very excited to try this place because they have a really interesting lasagna on the menu and I’m even more excited to try one of the raw cheesecakes because I can’t resist one of those.

Sweet Green.


(Photo Credit: Sweet Green Facebook)
With a selection of salads and warm bowls, Sweet Green is another place we can head to for lunch or an early dinner. It’s not a vegan restaurant but they have quite a lot of vegan options to choose from.

Seasoned Vegan.


(Photo Credit: The New York Times)
The Seasoned Vegan is another completely vegan restaurant I have found and it seems that a lot of the raw starters and mains are gluten free, which is fantastic.



(Photo Credit: by CHLOE. Facebook)
Eat by CHLOE is one of the most popular vegan restaurants in New York it seems according to my research so I think it’s only apt that we try it out. They have the healthy salads as you would expect but they also have burgers, mac and cheese and the sweetest desserts too.

Candle 79.


(Photo Credit: Quarry Girl)
Candle 79 is up there with the more expensive price range but from the photographs alone, I can see why. They have a very large gluten free menu which pleases me so much, and their chickpea cake sounds amazing.

Bombay Sandwich Co.


(Photo Credit: Munchado)
Another brunch or late lunch spot which have a fantastic menu with so many choices for gluten free vegans. I’m sure I’ll end up eating there multiple times during the trip. They also have a tumeric latte too!

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC.


(Photo Credit: Erin McKenna’s Bakery Facebook)
I’m leaving a real treat to last! I know I said at the beginning about having not so many treats but this is all about balance right? Erin McKenna Bakery are a completely gluten free, soy free, refined sugar free and vegan bakery who make doughnuts (Yes, gluten free and vegan doughnuts!), cakes, cupcakes, cookies and even soft served ice-cream. One hundred percent, I can not wait to experience this beauty!

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So there you have it, all the places I’m excited to try out when we’re in New York. I’m sure we’ll come across so many others even when we’re just exploring and not necessarily looking out for them. If you have any other recommendations, please do let me know either in the comments below or over on my Twitter and Instagram. Thank you for reading!

Is There Unwarranted Pressure Around Veganism?

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The world of veganism is growing year upon year, and as a vegan myself, I couldn’t be prouder. I wanted to talk a little more about my journey with it, how my boyfriend is coping with it so far with his own short-term goals and why I still get frustrated with the perception of veganism. 

The start of January marked my two-year anniversary of becoming vegan and it still feels so strange to say that because that was never the plan. I had never planned to become vegan; I wanted to try Veganuary because it was something that I was fascinated by, and I was looking for another challenge. The nutrition side to a plant-based diet has always interested me and considering the food intolerances I was already dealing with, I wanted to see how I would cope. At that point when I tried Veganuary, I had been vegetarian for around ten months but I had adapted to that change quite easily. If you want to read about my vegetarian to vegan journey; I have a range of posts you can read which I’ll link to below:

Becoming A Vegetarian
What I Eat In A Day: Veganuary Style
So what happened after Veganuary?
How and why I turned vegan.

My boyfriend Scott, is adapting his diet to vegan this month for Veganuary and I never thought I would see him do this. I sometimes read threads online of other vegans asking could you be in a relationship with someone who wasn’t vegan, and for me, it’s never been an issue. Scott has been very up front about the reason that he’s trying veganuary (you can read his post here!) and it’s been an eye-opener for me to see someone who isn’t looking to permanently change his diet, to change it for a short-term period. 

I call myself his mentor as a joke, but he cooks the majority of our evening meals which have been all vegan, and whenever he wants, he cooks some meat on the side to add to his. We’re always double-checking labels together and we want to explore new recipes because as much as I love his vegetable korma, he wants to see what else is out there. We’re always questioning certain parts of the vegan lifestyle, and sometimes we agree and other times it can turn into a debate, but it’s a healthy debate. As much as it’s nice to have someone who is on the same wave length as you (which I absolutely value in any type of relationship) a healthy debate and another view point is something that I cherish too.  


I believe Veganuary is a fantastic cause, whether that means that you continue being vegan (like I did) or you plan on cutting down your animal-based products further afterwards, it’s still a step in the right direction. There seems to be so much pressure on being vegan or becoming more eco-conscious which is something I am very passionate about but there are some individuals on the online space who seem to follow the all-or-nothing thinking, which in turn, can deter others from trying to make a change. I can understand that in order to help the planet, one of the biggest changes you can make, is to your diet but sometimes that’s not possible for people. You may have to be on a specialised diet that means you have to cut out so many food groups and individual foods that then cutting out additional food, may be too much. You may still live at home and can’t afford to buy your own food, so you have to eat the food that your parents or guardians eat. You may think that going vegan cold turkey (excuse the pun!) is too much in one go; in that case, it may be easier to cut down on your red meat first, then move to chicken and slowly coming off fish. 

Personally, I think the whole philosophy of becoming vegan seems to be lost sometimes; part of the journey is about being compassionate, not just to the animals and the world around you, but to other people. There can be criticism to other people who choose not to follow the vegan lifestyle, and it can be understandable in some circumstances. When you first learn of the choices that are made against the animals for our food products (to give one of many examples) it can be hard to understand why someone would choose not to follow the same lifestyle. I believe we all get like that sometimes no matter what the subject choice is; we all have our own views and it can be hard to remember that not everyone will have the same opinion as you, but it’s something that over time, you start to realise that you won’t be able to change everyone’s opinion, that’s not your job. 


For me, I’m so happy that Veganuary and the vegan lifestyle is becoming more popular, because the food ranges are absolutely fantastic and are getting better constantly, which is only a good thing. However, if you want to change your diet or change your lifestyle but feel like you can’t do it all in one go, that’s okay. You don’t have to turn a vegan overnight to make a real change for our planet; if it’s something that you can’t do, or simply don’t want to do, it’s a valid reason and you shouldn’t feel the need to have to justify your decision. There are many other ways you can help our environment without pushing yourself completely out of your comfort zone beyond the point where you’re not happy.  

Are you trying Veganuary this year? Have you tried it before, what were your thoughts with it? Do you think there is too much pressure sometimes on completely changing your lifestyle? I’d love to know your thoughts on anything I’ve talked about today. Thank you so much for reading, I really do appreciate it. 

Spending Time On Your Own.

How often do you spend time alone? For me, I absolutely love spending time on my own but I know that when I was younger, my Mum would tell me that I would be in tears if I wasn’t getting someone else’s attention. One extreme to the other really, isn’t it? That’s what today’s post is all about; spending time on your own, how important I believe it is and what to do if you feel like you’re not ready yet. A few years ago, I wrote a very similar post about taking yourself out for a cup of tea but I’m opening up the conversation much further with today’s post. 

20161213_141159.jpg(When I went to Rome, it was a solo trip so I eat, drank, slept and explored on my own. I loved it!)

Most people don’t mind going out on their own to grab a cup of tea or have a day of shopping, but it can still be an uncomfortable experience, especially for those that suffer with anxiety like I do. Strangely, I love going out on my own but this only started a few years ago. I used to feel self-conscious that people would be looking at me thinking “Awk bless her, she’s on her own” when I would have a cup of tea on my own or when I decided to get a bite to eat. Eating in a restaurant isn’t the easiest thing in the world but it has got so much easier and I would say the ability to play on my phone or having a book in my bag has definitely helped matters too.  

I find it really strange how important time on your own is. I don’t think being on your own should be the be-all-end-all but I don’t think we should totally rely on being around people all the time either. As with anything, it’s all about that balance. Time on my own gives me space away from everyone else because I tend to feel claustrophobic at times if I’m around people all the time.  

So, what exactly do I love to do? Well, I wish I would do this more, but I love going to the cinema on my own. I love my boyfriend, I do and I really love going to the cinema with him, but I love having a large popcorn all to myself (not that he eats much of it when he’s with me anyway) and being silent for an hour and a half. There’s no pressure to have a conversation if you’re on your own. 


Going to a coffee shop on my own is something I’m really comfortable with. During my period of unemployment, I have made it a point to go one day a week to my favourite coffee shop with my laptop to work on my blog and to fill in job applications, and I love reading diving into a good book there too. It’s become one of my favourite days because I get to drink tea (and the occasional iced latte) and I have an amazingly productive day. Most of the time, I would cycle there and back too so I don’t tend to listen to a lot of music during that day either (I don’t believe you should be listening to anything while you’re so close to the road, safety first!) and that encourages me to listen to the world around me more than usual (It sounds cliché but it’s very true in this case). 

Speaking of exercise, I have always been one to exercise on my own. While I may walk to the gym with my boyfriend, we don’t work out together and when I used to go to the gym with my older brother when he would drive there, we never worked out together. I would say the only exception to this is running because I do sometimes run with Scott and because we don’t get run together a lot, I enjoy it more when we do. He got me into running after all so it’s nice to have someone beside you that is more experienced. I’ve started cycling more and that’s very much a solo activity (until Scott gets his own bike) and again, I don’t feel any pressure being on my own because I’m so concentrated on getting to my next location, I don’t tend to think what other people are thinking. 

IMG-20180710-WA0000-01.jpeg(The irony of my boyfriend taking this photograph when I’m talking about being on my own but for the majority of my cycling trips, I really am.)

I sometimes do struggle being on my own and more specifically, it’s when I’m at home. Living on my own, I’ve never felt lonely but being in the house when you have so many chores to do and you feel overwhelmed, that’s when your mind goes into overdrive. That’s when my anxiety and depression symptoms come into play and it’s really not a nice experience. My self-confidence has taken a dip recently because of a number of different factors so I do feel self-conscious being on my own outside at times, which is really difficult for me because I have loved it for so long now.  

My advice for anyone who struggles with being on their own is starting out with small steps. I would recommend writing out a list of what you love doing, either in the house or what you love doing with your friends. After that, look at the list and identify the activities you either haven’t tried to do alone or you’re worried about trying alone. Of course, there are many exceptions to this rule; bowling will not be as much fun on your own because it won’t last very long and no one would blame you for not wanting to play a four person game, completely on your own. Say for example that you didn’t know whether you could go for a cup of tea or coffee on your own; in this case I would take my KeepCup with me (or any other reusable cup of your choice) and get my drink of choice in that, sit down for ten minutes in the coffee shop with either a book or my phone to keep me occupied. After ten minutes, if I still feel uncomfortable, I can leave and I won’t waste my drink because I can walk around with it. If I had to leave, I still sat there for ten minutes more than I would have done before. Next time, I can make it fifteen minutes and the time after that, I can sit for twenty. I did say baby steps after all, didn’t I?  

There are so many other examples I could give but it all depends on what you want to achieve from it. That’s why the list is important at the beginning; if you don’t want to go to a coffee shop, then don’t aim to do that because you feel like you have to.  

Thank you for reading today’s post; I feel it’s completely normal not to feel comfortable on your own but it’s all about pushing yourself a little outside your comfort zone enough to make a change sometimes. The one thing that I have noticed is that nobody actually cares that you’re on your own; I’ve never seen anyone point at me in the cinema or give me a look across the restaurant, you’ve often find that people are too considered with their own lives to even think about the person sitting on their own.  

Not Eating Enough Before A Race.


We all have our different opinions on how we like to train; some prefer a fasted run, others can’t train without having something in their stomach. For me, I thought I had eaten enough before a race but today’s post is all about my experience when I realised I hadn’t.

In the middle of June, I took part in the Lisburn 10K race which I recently posted about and I was so incredibly happy with the experience because I got a personal best. However, what I didn’t write about was what happened an hour or two later because I thought it deserved a post of it’s own.

This had been my first evening race and because it was in Lisburn, it wasn’t a case of being able to go home for dinner first so I thought I had planned out my food quite well for that day. I had my bagel and smoothie as normal for breakfast, my lunch was a Thai curry that Scott had made me the day before and I grabbed a snack at around 3:30pm. I certainly wasn’t hungry so I thought I was okay and I didn’t get hungry until after the race.

We got the train home from Lisburn and while I was tired, I was fine. We jumped on the bus from town to where we live and I started to feel iffy on the bus but I wasn’t sure why. I had eaten some dark chocolate on the way home to have some sugar in my system (The bars they were handing out at the finishing line weren’t gluten free) so I didn’t think food had anything to do with it. My body could have been in shock because I pushed it very hard or because our bus driver was driving fast, that could have set me off.


Our bus took less than ten minutes to get from the city centre to where we were getting off and I started to feel slightly worse. I couldn’t feel my fingers and my legs became tingly; as soon as we came off the bus, I had to go and sit at the bus stop and the tingling got worse. I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t feel Scott’s hand and my head felt very fuzzy. I had no idea what was happening and that’s when Scott asked me what I had had to eat that day, so I told him and he said I hadn’t eaten enough and my body had used up almost all my energy running that my body was going into shock.

I went from being hungry on the train home to not wanting to touch anything. Once we got back to Scott’s house, he lay me down and got me to drink diluted juice and asked me to eat a Nakd bar. I had one bite of the bar and thought I was going to throw up (I love them any other time!) I could stomach the juice but it was about ten more minutes before the tingling feeling went away. I had never experienced anything like that before in terms of running so I started to panic thinking “was it going happen again?” Scott told me it’s happened to him before and I had no reason to panic but to make sure I eat enough next time.

While it was a scary experience, it’s definitely made me more aware of my food intake before any type of training. If I train in the morning, I’m normally fine fasting but if it’s anything in the afternoon or in the evening, I know that I need to leave around two hours for my food to settle. I possibly should have had a very early dinner at 4pm instead so while the race started at 7pm, it would still be sitting in my stomach.

I’m interested in any tips that anyone has that could help me in the future (apart from eating more, of course) or if you have any experiences around this subject that you think would be useful, please let me know. Thank you so much for reading! 




Entrepreneurs and Mental Health: Michaela Pontiki

I’m back this week with another interview facilitated by FPComms with the wonderful Michaela Pontiki as part of my Entrepreneurs and Mental Health series. If you missed my interview last week with Latoya Lovell, I’ll link it right here. 

(Photo Credit: Mi Business Mag)

First of all, for those who don’t know, can you tell me who you are and a little about your background in your career so far? 

I am Michaela Pontiki, the founder of Arapina bakery. I am an architect with a Masters in sustainable design and having worked in both industries, I decided to start my own business in the food & beverage sector.

Can you tell me the philosophy behind “Arapina“? 

We are an award winning Healthy Lifestyle Bakery, based on Mediterranean cooking, offering free from and low in options to a sophisticated clientele. We are here to offer food to those who suffer from various intolerances and or have physical or mental diseases. We believe that food can be your medicine.

There is so much information out there, especially online, about food. Do you think that there is too much information that people are overwhelmed when it comes to making the right food choices, especially if they are being told conflicting information? 

Definitely, companies are fighting for their own reputation and companies get it wrong a lot of the times, especially in today’s world when masses can be easily influenced by TV commercials and social medias platforms. And they get it wrong because they either don’t have the right information themselves or purposefully manipulating concepts for the sake of their personal profit. Either way is unacceptable and one should cross referenced sources of information that is readily available out there.

We talk a lot about super foods but unfortunately, we know that if people are overwhelmed, the benefits of certain foods may not be important because they may not know what information to trust. So, I want to know two of your favourite meals that not only have the nutritional benefits that your mind and body love but are a joy for you to make too? 

I don’t have much time in my hands so I need to be creative and seek easiness with my meals. So quick breakfast is natural greek yogurt, with organic blueberries, raw almonds, honey and cinnamon. Second best is almost any type of grilled fish with a vegetable ratatouille next to it.

Why should entrepreneurs be thinking more about the food they eat? I know that I’m guilty of saying “Oh I don’t have time to eat, I’m too busy” and I’m not even an entrepreneur. Talk to us about the remarkable impact food can have on our minds as well as our bodies. 

Imagine you own a fast car, but every time you try to speed up, the car does not accelerate to the level you want it to simply because the fuel you are putting to it is of poor quality. It is exactly the same with ones body. You want to “run”, physically and mentally but you probably can’t simply because you have not taken care your body and mind. One cannot fulfil their full potential with an underperforming fuel which in this case is food.

What do you think of the “busy” excuse? Is there such a thing? By saying this, are we not making ourselves a priority? 

It is a fact that we live in a society that keeps us busy and activated, so in a way yes, we are busy, but I would say that it is more of a matter of priorities, and that applies on many aspects of our lives. When we fail to call our friends, spend time with our family or not properly plan our meals, it simply means that this task is not high up on our priority list, because I am sure the same person would find the time to watch the new series on Netflix if this is what he/she would value more. So it is a matter of changing your mentality to change your priorities to help your body.

I can only imagine the pressure that you are under having your own business, do you think that that is something quite a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with? 

There are different types of businesses, businesses with different demands as well as businesses with different starting points. If we had to generalize business is not easy and yes, the pressures are high when running one.

For you, what is the difference between being stressed while starting your own business and your mental health slipping? 

Stress can be activating or stress can be destabilizing. It really depends on the space you allow stress to occupy in your life, the grade of stress you are suffering from and the way you approach stress itself. Sometimes it is a fine line between stress and mental health slipping.

If someone is finding it hard balancing their mental health while running their own business, what tips would you give them? What do you do when you are in their situation? 

Quit business, life is more important.

Finally, if anyone would like to find out any more information about you and the work you do, where can they go to do so? 

Follow us on our social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) and keep an eye for podcasts and more interviews. If you are lacking this physical contact as most of us are in today’s world, come down to the bakery and ask for Michaela (by appointment only).

Again, a massive thank you to Nicola from FPComms for facilitating this interview and to the wonderful Michaela for taking time out of her day to answer my questions. I also got sent the most gorgeous chocolate covered almonds and bergamot preserve from the Arapina Bakery, so thank you so much for the treats!


SS: Sunday Saves (#59)


Happy Sunday everyone! I hope everyone has a lovely weekend so far; this week is only a four day week for us in Northern Ireland because of the 12th July holiday so because that’s a Wednesday, it’ll be nice to break up the week. This week there’s no particular theme so I’ll be talking about nose piercings, scrapbooking and cooking.

1) Autumn’s Mummy (How Not To Remove A Corkscrew Nose Piercing in 20 Steps)

Now I don’t have a corkscrew nose piercing, I just had a stud nose piercing and I’ve had my nose pierced for ten years in September coming, but it took about seven and a half years for me changing my piercing not be sore. Yes, really, that long and it’s not even a complicated piercing. I feel for Laura because there’s been so many times I’ve sat on the floor and cried that my piercing wouldn’t go in, and threw many fits but I’ve always got there in the end.

2) Ayse Merve Demir (Scrapbooking My Summer Away)

Scrapbooking is something I have always looked at and wished it was something I could do. I have tried it in the past but because I’m so particular about everything being neat, I would be too busy trying to lay everything out rather than actually scrapbooking. Ayse tells us how she’ll be decorating hers and what she’ll be using to do that.

3) Scott H. Gilliland (Veganism: My First Encounter With Cooking A Vegan Meal)

And no, this isn’t biased, I promise! Scott recently started his blog back up again and he talks about fitness, weight loss and food but the post I wanted to concentrate on was his post about making his first vegan meal. He’s a meat eater and I’m eating a plant based diet, two very different ways to eat of course so he documents what it was like trying to research meals we could both eat, alongside my intolerances too. It’s interesting for me to see it from an outside perspective because I’m so used to buying my regular food that maybe wouldn’t be so regular for someone else.

Thank you for taking the time to read today’s post and if you want to catch up on my week, I’m over on Instagram or on Twitter. Have a great Sunday!