After 3 long, ardeous years during which I practically abandoned my friends, neglected my family and pretty much stopped sleeping, I can gladly report that the completion of my nutrition studies is now firmly in sight. In fact if my arms weren't so short, I'd already be able to touch the light at the end of tunnel, but alas, they are short so I still have a teeny, tiny bit to go ;). For me the most important thing though was getting my final exam out of the way and on Friday the 17th of June, 2016 at 11am I handed it in with the hope of never ever writing another exam ever again. Woohoo!!! If that's not reason enough to celebrate, I don't know what is.
Hi everyone! I hope you're all doing super well. In contrast to me cuz I'm totally stressed :(. Bitten off more than I can chew (again!) and trying to stay afloat during final exam preparations. As a result of my other commitments today's blog post is really short; that's cuz I must get my act together and STUDY! BUT I am leaving you with a really yummy vegan recipe which was a massive hit here in The Little Plantation household. I hope that makes up for the short blog post. PLUS there's also an awesome cookbook giveaway courtesy of The Book People this week. Am I forgiven yet ;)?
I'm delighted to be able to send a lucky reader a copy of Aine Carlin's book Keep It Vegan. The Book People kindly provided me with a copy for you to enjoy which was super generous of them, wasn't it?
A few months ago I got a lovely invitation to spend a long weekend in a rustic farm house in the French countryside. The initial idea was to hang out and have some fun, but seeing that it was super talented Aimee T. from Twigg Studios asking, the lazy weekend concept was quickly ditched for a full blown food photography emersion workshop. See neither one of us could afford one of the luscious food photography retreats run by star bloggers, so we set out creating our very own little version of that on a shoestring :).
Furthermore we thought: What if we got a handful of other gifted women to join us who were all willing to share their specific knowledge and skill base, not for financial gain but instead for sheer pleasure! Wouldn't it be super empowering and a great opportunity to support one another at becoming the best that we can be creatively? So with that idea in mind we approached Aimee R. from Wallflower Kitchen a talented vegan baker and cookbook author, my sister Sumera an artist and singer who is developing her film making skills and Aoife, a wedding photographer with an eye for portrait photography and photo editing. Needless to say they all agreed to take part.
Me, wearing my Grace Apron from Thread & Whisk and feeling like a princess Linen napkins by Heal's
Hi everyone. Hope you're all well :)
I've got LOTS in store for you this week. which is why I thought it would be helpful if I break this week's blog post down for you, so you can skip to the bits you're actually interested in ;). Cuz - just so you know - this is a looooong one and I don't want you getting bored ;).
This week you can find info on...
I've been dying to write about superfoods ever since I started my little plantbased blog and with turmeric as the star ingredient in this week's vegan recipe, I coudn't think of a better time to share my thoughts on superfoods. This means I'll give you a list of the 7 superfoods that I believe truly live up to their name and should appear on your plate every single day!
2. BLOGIVERSARY + A COOKBOOK GIVE-AWAY!
It's actually my blogiversary this week. Eeeeek! I STILL feel like a novice, but here I am finishing my second year of blogging. Crazy stuff! To celebrate I'm giving away a copy of Jessica Sepel's new book The Healthy Life. This give-away is open to UK and EU residence, so do check it out:). I'll provide a short review of the book and then I'll let you know what you need to do for a chance to win it.
3. TURMERIC RECIPES
I'm sharing 2 superfood recipes this week. One is this healthy raw vegan breakfast come snack recipe (the BOMB by the way). Two is a crazy sexy superfood Turmeric Cinnamon Tea on the Rocks recipe which you'll find over on Heal's blog this week. Just cuz turmeric is SO good, I had to create 2 easy and delicious recipes so you've got no excuse not to give this spice a go ;).
I posted the following statement under this image of Xochi Balfour's new healthy lifestyle book 'The Naturalista' on instagram the other day:
'FACT I get lots of cookbooks sent to me. FACT I buy lots of cookbooks,. FACT I'd never recommend something I don't wholehearted believe in.
So if I say that the healthy living book 'The Naturalista' by @xochibalfour is INSANELY AWESOME you better believe it's true. I hope this treasure gets the attention it so deserves when it comes out at the end of April. @xochibalfour you should be darn proud of this looker.'
And, though it's been a few weeks now since I first received the book, I still feel mega excited about it and super duper lucky to have been given a copy. Yup, it's THAT good. So, what about it is so special, you might wonder? Well, ...
1. The voice behind the book - Xochi is engaging, genuine, so, so sweet and I read the story of her journey to health with great interest. It's one that so many of us can relate to. (I'm not telling you more. You just gotta buy the book ;)). Plus, I've had the pleasure of meeting Xochi in person and I can tell you, she's not a brand. She's the real deal :).
2. The stunnig, healthy and most importantly achieveable recipes - I have literally bookmarked every other page - banana almond pancakes, kale and avocado rice with pickled carrots, smoky beet hummus etc.. I mean there are soooo many recipes to get excited about and most of them require ingredients that are easy to come by. However, please be warned - there are a few non-vegetarian recipes in this book. It doesn't bother me as you can count them on 1 hand, but I'm aware that for some of you this may be a deal breaker, which is why I'm pointing it out.
3. Drop dead gorgeous photography - In case it's not totally obvious from the hours I spent writing about it, I'm obsessed with good food photography. And this book's got some of the most stunning shots I've seen in a long, long time. In fact, if I ever photograph a cookbook I kinda want the pictures to look like the ones in Xochi's book *blush*.
Hi everyone! If you're here to get the recipe for the vegan pistachio milk green smoothie which I created exclusively for Heal's then please head over to their blog where you'll find some more images of the recipe creation process as well. The smoothie recipe was put together to show off one of the gorgeous Mervyn Gers Bowls which they sell at their flagship store on Tottenham Court Road in Central London. As those of you who follow along on instagram know, I have been a massive fan of anything Mervyn Gers makes and so this collaboration felt like a match made in heaven.
I often get asked about where and how I source my food photography props so, as I'm not sharing a recipe on the blog today, I thought I'd take a little time out to talk you through where I get my food photography props from and how I choose them instead. I hope this will be of some help to you.
When first starting out....
1. Use what you've got.
When I first got into food blogging I just used the plates and bowls I had at home. It was a very cheap and easy way to get started and also helped me experience first hand why certain plates work better than others. For example, there was nothing particularly remarkable about the plates I used for my Spring pearl barley risotto recipe, but the simplicity of the plates let the food shine, which was all that was needed.
And whilst in South America I used these cute little bowls, which were the only ones I had to hand, to show off this easy vegan blackberry crumble. The bowls were mainly white, but had some simple detailing around the edges, which just worked for this particular shot. And - from my experience - it is simple plates and bowls like these that make a good recipe look great!
There are hundreds of thousands of food blogs out there. In fact, there's one source on the net which claims that there are over 2 million food blogs currently in existence. CRAZY, right!?! Yet, somehow I feel I've been lucky enough to find the right food blogs to get stuck into and get excited about. They aren't always the most well known (in fact I love 'discovering' blogs with smaller followings ;)), but the food blogs I read all have two key things in common:
1. They are about good, home-made, delicious, flavoursome food and
2. They are written by kind, thougtful bloggers whose voices I want to 'listen' to.
At the start of 2016 I had made it one of my goals to post more recipes of the actual foods I eat on a day to day basis here on the blog. This meant more savoury dishes with whole grains and legumes as the star attraction. No sooner had I put that statement out there, did life firmly grab hold of it and make it become a reality. Or better, NETFLIGHTS did. They contacted me, asking me to prepare a dish that represented my heritage and this Colombian bean stew - which I veganised ;) - instantly came to mind as THE recipe I needed to make for them.
I am never sure how I come across on social media. If the person you envisage me to be, is anything like the person I really am. If you hear my voice in your mind the way it actually sounds (deep-ish, subtle American accent, that's gone a bit British – think Madonna in her Guy Richie days) or if you're totally off the mark ;). So in case it's not blatantly obvious – and just for your info - I am a social creature. Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE my own company and have no problems being alone, but I thrive mostly in social situations. Hence going from a busy office full of chatty, like-minded social workers to a quiet studio (AKA the guest bedroom) where I work in solitude has been an interesting change. I am extremely happy I followed my heart and moved into blogging/food photography/recipe development (you can read more about that change here), but that's not to say being on my own during the day hasn't required some getting used to.
Consequently, I relish any given opportunity to replace my hours of solitude with moments of chatter and laughter surrounded by talented, creative and lovely women. Women who are eager and open to share their special gift and unique talent with me (I feel so lucky!). Women whose generosity made today's blog post possible.
A few days ago my son turns 6. Can you believe it, 6! I know it sounds so cliché, but time truly does fly when you're having fun. And when you have children you can actually see the physical evidence of life's continual forward flow, which is quite grounding as well as - for me on this occasion - really upsetting. (I so wish my blog platform did emojis cuz I'd insert that crying face with buckets of tears streaming out of its eyes right here).
It's not that I miss the baby stage, I don't at all and every day, every week and every year that passes by I enjoy motherhood more and more. But it's that realisation that everything is just temporary and that I can't hold on to the here and now forever, not even for my little boy. And that recognition left me feeling a tiny bit lost the other day. I don't know, but I just felt emotional.
Before I started writing my blog, I read blogs. Loads of them. All the time. And what I noticed as I did so, was that many of the food bloggers I followed got cookbooks send to them. For free!!!! Sometimes even before they were released in the shops!!!! I mean if getting free cookbooks isn't the best thing EVER about food blogging, I don't know what is. And (confession time!) though the hope of receiving free cookbooks wasn't the main reason I started The Little Plantation ;), it sure did play a teeny tiny role (*blush*).
So when insanely talented food photographer, stylist and blogger Aimee, from Twigg Studios, asked me if I wanted a copy of her brand new cookbook, Love Aimee x, to review on the blog, I don't think I actually even let her finished her sentence before shouting a loud, resounding YES!!! In fact when Aimee asked me, I may or may not have nearly choked on the toast I was munching on as we sat in a quaint little cafe in the heart of East London's Spitalfields. And, in case you're wondering, yes, she is just as sweet in real life as she comes across on her blog ;).
I am feeling stressed :(. Totally stressed. It's because I have a nutrition exam that I need to do some SERIOUS studying for. And I am sad to report that I am sooo behind with my revision, which in turn is stressing me out even more (insert crying face).
But I'm also stressed because I feel really busy with all the other little projects in my life including the blog. Not to say I don't LOVE this space because I do, I really, really do. But as the bloggers amongst you know, writing a blog comes with TONS of commitments such as visiting other blogs (which I LOVE to do btw), posting images on facebook, instagram, twitter, pinterest and of course on countless recipe sharing sites too. I enjoy all these social media platforms and the opportunities they provide to connect with like-minded foodies and be inspired, but - and of course there is always a but - they are all rather time consuming activities and time is something I just don't have at the moment :(.
I love January! Sure it's cold and dark and I'm always short of cash, but there is something so fresh and promising about having the whole year ahead of me; it's what makes me January's biggest fan. You see, I feel the beginning of the year gives us a chance to reinvent ourselves, to dream of all the things that weren't possible the previous year and to make them happen this year. With that sense of hope in mind, I've been thinking loads about the direction of the blog for 2016. What do I want this space to be and how can I make it better still? That's not to say that I haven't been incredibly pleased and proud of what I've achieved in the last 12 months. I SO have, but I know that I haven't reached my destination yet and that I am STILL moving towards my own creative peek. So what does this mean for the blog in 2016 and what can you expect to find here over the coming year?
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a safe and fun journey into 2016. May your new year be filled with joy, happiness and great health!
I don't know about you, but I sure feel ready to get back onto the healthy bandwagon as Christmas was a feast of utter indulgence *ooops*. That's why I love the fact that the start of a new year and the opportunity to renew my commitments to healthy eating come so close after Christmas. I think that's because the universe knows a thing or two about perfect timing :).
As I was putting my blog schedule together for 2016 I was certain that I really wanted to start the year with a raw and savoury blog post (anyone else had enough of baking?). So when I was asked to do a sponsored blog post for a raw recipe including Tenderstem®, I jumped at the chance. Now, before I delve into the recipe, I wanted to say something about doing sponsored posts, as well as about Tenderstem® itself. I hope that's ok.
In terms of sponsored blog posts - over the past 12 months I have been approached a few times by companies asking me to do sponsored posts or review their products; those of you who visit the blog regularly will know that I have never accepted any of these offers. That's because none of the companies that contacted me were selling products that I would ever eat, would consider healthy or could wholeheartedly recommend to you. So please rest assured that if ever I write a sponsored blog post or review something, it is because I genuinely enjoy the items featured and think you will too. I have no plans of making sponsored blog posts a habit, but when I do one I'll be totally open and upfront about it. Sound cool?
Perhaps, on the surface of it, nothing much has changed in 2015. This is still a plant-based blog, I am still living in London and I am still very much studying nutrition (counting the days though, getting so near now to the end!). But once you take a closer look it soon becomes evident - I feel - that this blog as well as I have gone through a major transformation.
I mean, let's start with the biggest change of all – I quit my job and have now spent the last month (YIKES) at home, focusing on the things I realised mattered so much that it became impossible to keep neglecting them for the sake of following the wrong career path. Though I still wake up some days rather perplexed by the fact that I don't need to rush to the office, I am happy to report that resigning from my job was very, very clearly the right decision for me and my family.
To me a food blog is not 'just' a place to gather pretty and delicious content. Sure it helps and it's important but I think a food blog can be sooo much more than that. For example it can be a place from which we send out positive energy into the world, a place from which we initiates change, spark an exciting idea, celebrate creativity or ignite a sense of compassion. Big stuff, right?
So with that in mind, I thought the month of December during which we aim to spread love and joy, would be the perfect time to host a virtual blog party entitiled #loveMALAWIcoffee. I am well aware that a virtual blog party might sound like a random event completely unrelated to the message normally associated with December. But rest assured there is a connection...
On September 11th, 2001 I was at my parents' house in Madrid, returning home for a brief stay whilst in my final year at university. We were in the living room watching some television when the news broke that something odd had happened in New York. We switched to a news channel and watched reporters frantically try and make sense of what was going on when suddeny, in front of my eyes, the second tower was hit by a plane. I remember feeling sick to my stomach and watching my dad move across the room in total disbelief. We'd never seen anything like it before.
'' In the last few months I feel I have been peeling away layers, layers of who I think I was or wasn't, layers of (limiting) believes and convictions. I didn't know much about myself apparently. Maybe I still don't. The process felt and still feels so hard. And, that outer shell was so cozy, so protective. But inside I hope to discover a soft core, full of life and beauty.'' - quote slightly adapted from Silvia Bifaro
I quit my job. And though I felt relieved and elated when I handed in my notice, I also felt terribly sad. That surprised me.
I kept trying to figure out why I had felt a little upset that day and why I still continue to feel sad in the run up to my last day in the office (which is this Thursday BTW). I mean I hadn't been enjoying my work for a long time anymore therefore, surely, I should feel nothing other than joy, right?
As those of you who have been reading the blog over the past few months know, I have been eager to make food blogging, recipe development, food writing and all that goes with it more than just a hobby. In order to achieve that I have spent the last few weeks trying to formulate what exactly it is I want to do and how I can ultimately fulfil my dream. To help me find my way I did a blogger collaboration with Ceri from Natural Kitchen Adventures a few weeks ago (I shall touch on that again at the end of today's blog post) and I also attended the food blogger connect conference. Both experiences were immensely useful in assisting me to thrush out my path in the food blogging world. But, I knew that something was still missing and that I had to add another little piece to the puzzle to make it complete.
It feels as though so much has happened in the last two weeks and I am bursting to tell you all about it! Can I start off by sharing a little bit about my experience at Food Blogger Connect 2015 (FBC15)? If you've been following along, you'll know that I've wanted to become much more serious about my food blogging, writing, photography and recipe development. So as part of that 'want', I did a collaboration with Ceri about two weeks ago to broaden my food blogging horizons. I also attended FBC15 at Chiswick House and Gardens in order to get as many tips as I could on making my blog bigger and better.
So what was the conference like? Well, it took place over 3 days (I attended and volunteered at 2) during which one had lots of opportunities to meet, mingle and connect with other bloggers, share experiences and provide one another with heaps of encouragement and support. For me personally, this was probably the most invaluable aspect of the conference and as it stands 2 possible collaborations are in the works as a result of FBC15! So watch this space ;)