Eating In with Super Valu NI | #LetsCookNI

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If you follow me over on my Instagram, you’ll notice that I done something a little different on Instagram stories on Thursday evening. I was kindly asked to take part in a new campaign from Super Valu NI, so along with Sarah Patterson (Their vegetarian ambassador who is pictured above), myself and a number of other bloggers cooked up a vegetable stir fry that night.

We all used the hashtag #LetsCookNI on our social media channels (For me, it was Twitter and Instagram) and the main premise behind the campaign is to get people involved in the kitchen via social media. We all know that social media is such a huge part of our lives so why not incorporate food and social media together?

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(I posted up on my Instagram of some of the ingredients: a few are missing from here!)

If you’re a reader of the blog, you’ll know that I have a number of intolerances and I also eat a plant based diet so as much as I would love to go to food blog events, I feel like I’m at a disadvantage. I’ll be the first to admit that catering to my eating patterns can be difficult so I can’t complain that events surrounding food are few and far between. This campaign is different though and I’m genuinely so happy to be included despite my eating patterns. First of all, it was a vegetarian stir fry and the recipe doesn’t use any animal products so it is suitable for vegans too! I was able to leave out the carrot, I swapped out the soy sauce for some balsamic vinegar and I swapped out the Straight to Wok noodles for some rice noodles. The recipe is totally adaptable and I am a huge fan of recipes that I don’t have to stick to the script for.

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I took part via Twitter and Instagram, and I’ll admit, Twitter didn’t last very long because I got so distracted by making Instagram stories, and well, by cooking first and foremost. We all watched live on Facebook while Sarah cooked and it was definitely a nice change to cook along with someone but after a while, once my wok was fired up I could barely hear the laptop but even visually, it was quite a nice atmosphere (albeit online!). Super Valu NI created a Twitter moment with some of the pictures from the night and you can find them here!

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(One of my many Instagram stories from that night!)

How was the end result? The end result was really lovely! I haven’t made too many stir frys before this but I would consider making more in the future because it was quite quick after you prepped the ingredients. Roasting the cashew nuts and the sesame seeds had such a huge impact on the meal, which genuinely surprised me. It added an extra nutty crunch which I’m all for, so I’d consider doing this for other meals in the future. I didn’t make the sauce they suggested (so the sugar in the photograph wasn’t used) but I simply mixed some vinegar and salt together to give it an extra kick.

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(This photo was taken about a minute after I had tucked in, so it doesn’t have the greatest presentation in the world!)

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(I think that’s slightly better, right?)

You’ll find the ingredients list below and right here, I’ve linked the recipe up! I would love to hear your thoughts on it! What did you add in, what did you chop and change? What do you think of cooking along with social media?

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Thank you so much for reading today’s blog post, I hope you’ve enjoyed!

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Please note: The ingredients were sent to me by Super Valu NI in order to promote the #LetsCookNI event on Thursday night. Thoughts and content posted on my blog and my social media however, are my own views. I want to send you an extended thank you to Super Valu NI and their PR company for offering me this opportunity. 

SS: Sunday Saves (#56)

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Happy Sunday everyone! While I’m writing this, it’s such a gorgeous day outside, always a sure fire way of being in a better mood eh? In today’s post I’ll be talking about cleaning your home and mind, habits of grateful people and being more mindful as a non-vegan.

1) Suzie Speaks (50 Things To Remove From Your Home and Your Life)

Judging by the weather (most of the time), I’d like to think we’re coming into the Summer and one of my favourite things to do during the Summer is do a massive clean. I know a lot of people like to do a Spring clean (in the Spring of course) but for me, it always goes back to when I was in school and you would have a huge clear out before heading back to school in September. Suzie highlights fifty things that you should remove from your home but also from your personal life, so not only are you cleaning your house but you’re also cleaning your mind, to a certain extent.

2) Hack Spirit (The Top 9 Habits Of Grateful People… Even In Tough Times)

If you’ve been reading the blog lately or following me on my social media, you’ll know I have started to get into the practice of gratitude. It’s such an important practice for me especially when my day isn’t going as well as I had hoped it would. Gratefulness brings me back down to earth. That’s what I found so interested about this Hack Spirit blog post about habits of people who are grateful even on the tough days. It’s something we should all take into consideration, both on the good days and the bad.

3) The Zombie Said (5 Simple Ways For Non-Vegans To Help Vegan Causes)

I prefer to call myself plant based rather than vegan because I’m quite open about not having changed all my clothes, make-up, hair care and skincare over to one hundred percent cruelty free. I really liked the way Steph came across in this post, it’s not preachy or forceful, it’s just giving you a few simple tips on how you can be more mindful when it comes to spending your money on products and perhaps promote a positive change if you can’t commit yourself to being vegan.

Well that’s all for today’s Sunday Saves post. If you’d like to catch up on my other Sunday Saves, you’ll find them here and let me know your thoughts on today’s post, either down below or over on my Twitter!

Life Update #2: Spring 2017

I’m back with another life update! My last one was just before Christmas during Blogmas when I was just back from the stunningly beautiful Rome so I thought almost five months later, I was due an update. (If you want to read that update: it’s right here!)

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In December, I spoke about finding out about renting my first house before I went on holiday…

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(This was me the day I moved in, I was very excited!)

I moved in on 4th January and it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made. I’m so unbelievably happy living on my own and it just proves that it really was something I needed to do. Of course I’ve been here a few months and my spare room is still a mess, I haven’t got a rug for the living room and I have a few pictures that I still want to hang up, but apart from that, I think I’ve settled in quite well.

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If you’ve been keeping up with the blog, you’ll know that I went from being a vegetarian to eating a plant based diet permanently…

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(Just one of my obsessions from one of my favourite places in the world, Tony and Jen’s. Yep, gluten free AND vegan. Match made in heaven right?  )

I’ll not talk too much about why I changed to a plant based diet because I have talked about it a lot recently; I wrote a post about completing Veganuary (right here), I documented what I ate during Veganuary (right here) and I spoke about how I became vegetarian last March (right here) so you can check those posts out for more detail.

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Very very recently I also bought my first little kitten…

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I used to be terrified of almost all animals (except goldfish) but over the past year or so, things have changed. For the majority of the year last year, I lived with my ex-boyfriend and he had the cutest cat ever, and that was really my first experience of living with another animal. My Dad had dogs but because we were only ever there one or two nights a fortnight, I never felt like I lived with them. So that experience of living with a cat showed me that there’s nothing to be really scared of and I should embrace the love of a little furry munchkin (Even though when she does jump up on me, I still get a little scared) Plus my three best friends all have cats and they’re both adorable, so even more help to show me that I can do it.

So once I knew I was moving out of my family home, I told myself to wait a few months to get myself settled in before thinking about getting a cat and that’s what I did. I named her Audrey and when I got her, she was about nine weeks old.

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I’m very grateful to be who I am and where I am today…

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(Outstanding photography skills and credit goes to the wonderful photographer that took this during one of our lunch dates.)

I feel very supported by my lovely group of friends, my family have been fantastic since moving out (except for the change to my diet, they’re still coming to terms with that) and I’m very blessed to be in a new, happy and healthy relationship. I now believe everything happens for a reason and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

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I hope you enjoyed this little life update and if you want to keep up to date with me, you can follow me on Twitter or over on Instagram.

So what happened after Veganuary?

At the beginning of January, I lay out my New Year’s Resolutions for the year and the first one was to complete Veganuary, which I’m very happy to say that I did! So today’s post is giving an overview of the month and what happened next. If you want to read about my journey to vegetarianism, you’ll find it here and if you want to see a typical “What I Eat In A Day: Veganuary Style” you’ll find that post right here.

So what were my thoughts on Veganuary? I really enjoyed it but I didn’t expect not to enjoy it. I only accidentally messed up twice and both times were with food I was given at Christmas; jellybeans and fudge to be exact. I was a little annoyed at myself at the time but reflecting back on it, I tried my best, I didn’t do it on purpose and I was able to move on without thinking “I had ruined everything.” That is a massive step for me.

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I didn’t have a lot of challenges throughout the month. If I was going to restaurants, I rang in advance if it was somewhere I haven’t been before but I believe throughout January, I mainly stuck to restaurants and cafes I knew I would be okay in. I did slightly miss my cups of tea with milk, it’s a habit I have had for almost twenty years so to be without it, it was definitely different but I quickly got past it.

A few family members did ask me “When was I going to eat real food again?” Because fruit and vegetables aren’t real food apparently. Having to defend my point almost everytime I seen them for, I would say, a month and a half got very tiring after a while. When you grow up with the concept of meat, potatoes and two vegetables on your plate for so many years (and I believe this is why a lot of the generation above me still haven’t come to terms with a vegan or plant based diet), depending on who you are; it can take a while to get your head around the fact that when you take away the meat (and the potato for me of course!) then what do you do to substitute that. From that point of view, it’s understandable why some people have a hard time with that.

So February 1st came and I thought I was going to go back to eating my regular bread (You’d be shocked to see how difficult it is to find gluten free bread that’s also vegan), back to my regular cup of tea that I’ve grown up with ever since I started watching Coronation Street with my rich tea biscuits at the old age of seven or even treat myself to a lemon cupcake that I love finding in the Sainsburys Free From aisle. I couldn’t have been further from the truth…

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I had zero urge to drink another cup of regular tea, I wanted to stick to my gluten free vegan bread and the cupcakes no longer fell into my basket. I don’t mind not being able to eat most of the cakes in the Free From section and I don’t mind having a green tea instead of a regular tea (I love green tea anyway!).

The one thing I have changed though is I don’t call myself a vegan. I’m not a fan of labels but I think in a diet context, it can get very complicated. Having a plant based diet and being vegan are of course, two very different things. I haven’t changed all my make-up to cruelty free, the same goes for my body, skin and hair care and I haven’t made that transition with my clothes and shoes yet. So right now, I don’t feel comfortable saying I’m a vegan, I prefer to say I’m eating a plant based diet. When I’m talking about my diet to someone who doesn’t know a lot about eating vegan or when I’m perhaps calling a restaurant, I will state I’m vegan, just to make things less complicated. (See, it can be complicated!) Another example is when I’m hash tagging on Twitter or talking about it online in general, then I will use both terms, just because I know people will look for tips for transitioning to becoming vegan and my plant-based experience will help if I use vegan in a diet sense (Again, just a little complicated, right?)

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Overall, I’m really happy eating a plant based diet and I’m so glad I’ve finally made the transition. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time now but leaving at home and not having as much cupboard and fridge space for all my food made it difficult so I knew when I moved into my own place, it was the perfect time to start.

Did you take part in Veganuary? What did you find the most challenging? I’d love to talk to more people who took part in Veganuary so leave me a comment below or tweet me over at @RetroSnowflake on Twitter or @RetroSnowflake on Instagram.

 

SS: Sunday Saves (#46)

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I’m back with another Sunday Saves and I hope you’re all having a lovely Sunday so far! If you’ve missed any of my previous Sunday Saves, you can find them right here! This week I’ll be talking about coffee shops, Instagram promotion and vegan YouTubers.

1) Lea Rice (How To Stop Feeling Guilty About Working From Cafes)

I don’t think it’s just bloggers that feel this guilt; I think everyone who just enjoys going to a coffee shop to meet up with a friend or spend time by themselves does feel that ounce of guilt when they tell themselves, “I really could just make a cup of tea at home, couldn’t I?” And it’s totally understandable to feel that way. We’re always told to save our money and one of those ways is to go out for coffee less; you can easily save a small fortune that way. However, there are so many benefits to getting out of the comfort zone of your own home and just treating yourself to a tea or coffee (a smoothie or milkshake too!) that you haven’t made yourself. Lea talks about the benefits and I whole-heartedly agree with her, so make sure you read her post and don’t feel so guilty next time you have a cosy cup of tea or coffee at your favourite coffee shop.

2) Phases of Robyn (Instagram Promotion: Is It Worth It?)

Promotion on Instagram is something that I had known about, from seeing it every day but I had no idea about the behind the scenes of it all. I didn’t know how much it cost, the process you had to go through, how long it lasted for or even if it was worth it. I’m so glad Robyn wrote a post on this because it will benefit so many other bloggers who are thinking of doing the same thing.

3) Okay Now Breathe (20 Vegan YouTubers You Should Be Watching)

Over the past year, I’ve become so much more interested in finding more plant based and vegan YouTubers to watch and Meagan has compiled the perfect top twenty list of YouTubers that she recommends. I can’t wait to have a big YouTube night to catch up on all these new videos that I need to watch!

Thank you for reading this week’s blog post and if you have any other vegan or plant-based YouTubers, please tweet me over at @RetroSnowflake, I’m due a YouTube clear out and I would love even more new faces!

SS: Sunday Saves (#45)

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Happy Sunday everyone! Apologises for being MIA last weekend, I just had such a busy weekend and I didn’t want to force out a half written post because I knew I wouldn’t have been happy with it. I’m back now though, and this week I’m talking about writing when you’re not in the best place, creamy vegan ice-cream and giving your digital space a spring clean!

1) Headspace (How To Write Your Way Through a Rough Patch)

If you’ve never heard of Headspace, you must have been living under a rock for the last few years! It’s one of the most popular mindfulness apps and it’s also one of my favourites. I didn’t know they had a blog until this week but they wrote a post talking about writing when you’re going through a rough patch. This is something that I practice particularly when I’m having a few rough days; I don’t write an essay by any means but writing down what you’re grateful for is something that I have found can help you gain a little perspective on life. It doesn’t work for everyone of course, but if you incorporate it into a daily or even weekly routine, whether that’s in the morning or the evening, you might find that over time it will come more naturally to think of the positive little things in your life rather than the negatives that overshadow them.

2) Anne Smiles (Banana Icecream Aka Nicecream)

In one of my favourite cafes, they serve nice cream with pancakes and it’s one of my favourite foods from their menu (Check my Instagram if you haven’t seen my obsession!) I haven’t tried making my own nice cream at home yet; mainly because I never give bananas enough time to turn yellow, never mind ripe, but Anne’s recipe is really so simple, I’m pretty sure anyone could make this easy, two ingredient vegan dessert!

3) Lindsey Lou Blogs (The Digital Spring Clean)

We’ve all heard of a Spring Clean but when do we ever do a digital spring clean? I have about a number of different email accounts that I should clean out all the old newsletters and spam that I’m never going to read. I also need to unsubscribe from all those newsletters, clear out my folders and even delete an email address or two. If you’re looking to have a clear out but aren’t sure where to start, read Lindsey’s post for a kick start.

Thank you so much for reading this Sunday’s blog post. If you have any favourite blog posts from the week, leave them down below or tweet them to me over at @RetroSnowflake, I’d love to read them!

SS: Sunday Saves (#43)

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Because I can still post Sunday Saves on a Monday, right? Welcome back to my Sunday Saves, albeit very very late. This week I’ll be talking about living more ethically, an A to Z look at yourself and what to expect from a CBT course.

1. Water Painted Dreams (Living More Ethically)

Ever since becoming vegan at the start of the year, I’ve become slightly more conscious of what I use. For example (and it might sound silly) but I try and buy in bulk, so I’ll buy a big bag of rice rather than waste money and packaging on smaller packets. I would be quite similar to Hayley in that I try and reuse my plastic boxes especially when I cook a big batch of food. They’re a lot handier, you can clean them really easily and they’re not as big a pain as you’d think. If you’re looking for little changes you can make to your lifestyle, I’d recommend Hayley’s post as a good stepping stone.

2. Lauren Catherine (A to Z of Lauren Catherine)

I really liked the idea of Lauren’s post, so much so that I’ve started my own version of the post (which will be coming soon!) I quite like tag posts but I feel like they can be quite limiting even though I have covered a few on the blog. I hope Lauren doesn’t mind me borrowing her idea, but I love the idea of going in a little more in-depth into who you are without actual questions.

3. Nourish Me (What To Expect from a CBT Course)

For anyone who hasn’t experienced CBT before or is looking into the possibility of attending therapy for one reason or another, Stephanie’s post is one to look into. She’s covered her first session of therapy in another blog post but what I loved about this particular one is that she’s not telling you that CBT will work for everyone, because it simply won’t. There isn’t one thing that will work on every single person but I know in my experience of CBT (which I’m hoping to write about soon), it has worked for me. So if you’re curious about CBT or have no idea what it is, head over to Stephanie’s post.

Thank you for reading this week’s (late) Sunday Saves. Remember to click through to everyone’s links and send them some love. That’s what all bloggers love.