Review: Pizza Express Vegan Giardiniera Pizza

I walked past Dominos holding a box of Pizza Express’ pizza.

It has been all over the vegan/vegetarian/dairy-free cyberspace that Pizza Express has officially released a pizza containing a vegan mozzarella cheese. As I am away from home and have no access to a kitchen, this was the perfect opportunity to give their new pizza a try. It was also a healthier transition from the deep fried vegan Co-Op doughnuts I had been stuffing my face with all day.

Unfortunately, I could not find the Vegan Giardiniera pizza on the Pizza Express website, which almost made me lose hope. However, I decided to give them a call and was more than delighted to find out that indeed, they did sell the new pizza (they just did not realise it was not up on the website yet). I placed my order, which cost around £10 and went about my day till it was time to pick it up.

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4th of July Ideas: Apple-Berry Fool

Forgive me for adding a British fool to a fourth of July menu. I do not apologise for your taste buds exploding, though.

I had never made a fool before today so I wasn’t 100% sure of its final look and taste. Also, if you did not know this before, I rarely taste my food while preparing it so this was a huge gamble as I was serving this to people.

Fortunately for me, it was a huge hit and seconds were ordered.

This fool is so delightful. It is so delicious and sweet although no artificial sugars were added to it. The nutrients in it are the same as that of the previous recipe although it has a greater calcium, cobalamin (vitamin B-12), ergocalciferol (vitamin D-2) and vitamin E content. As usual, an elaboration of these nutrients can be found in the Nutrient Index.

Without going further on how amazing this fool is, here’s the recipe!

Bon Appétit!

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4th of July Ideas: Mini Fruit Skewers

In my opinion, these are the perfect snacks for a 4th of July party. They are easy to make, not messy to eat and as they are mini-versions, no one needs to worry about looking weird trying to get the last few fruits on the skewer. They also do not take up a lot of space on a plate.

I cheated a little while developing this recipe. I marinated one of the fruits in the juice of a neutral-coloured citrus fruit adding a new flavour to the skewers and differentiating their taste from possible similar treats or foods had with similar ingredients.

As usual, here’s a list of the nutrients in these skewers: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, choline, betaine, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, phytosterols and fibre. The benefits of each nutrient can be found in the Nutrient Index.

Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Bon Appétit!

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4th of July Ideas: Sweet Cinnamon Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a great breakfast to customise for the fourth of July. All you have to do is use red and blue toppings (and maybe a white topping too).

I love my sweet cinnamon oatmeals. Usually, I make them as maple-cinnamon, but in these pictures, they’re date-cinnamon as I used a date syrup. I will suggest that a lighter coloured syrup, such as maple and agave, or sugar would be better in order to maintain the light colour of the oatmeal. Also, smooth oat porridges tend to have a lighter final colour than larger oats.

This sweet-cinnamon oatmeal contains vitamin A, thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5) pyridoxamine (vitamin B-6), biotin (vitamin B-7), folate (vitamin B-9), cobalamin (vitamin B-12) vitamin C, ergocalciferol (vitamin D-2), vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, calcium, choline, chromium, magnesium, molybdenum, manganese, zinc, iron, potassium, phosphorus, phytosterols, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, selenium and fibre. A description of these nutrients and their various roles in the body can be found in the Nutrient Index.

Bon Appétit!

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4th of July Ideas: Pancakes

I’m not American. However, I can not avoid the 4th of July. Americans go hard with their celebrations and they upload tonnes of amazing tricoloured photos as proof.

As the fourth will be upon us in about a few days, I decided to help you guys out with some red, white and blue recipes. In this post, I will be sharing a quinoa pancake recipe that is quite delicious and can be made, not just on the fourth, but every day too sans the colours.

Quinoa is one ingredient that I have not featured on this website before. It is a grain which tends to be used as a substitute for rice as it has a significantly higher protein and general nutrient content. Quinoa is also quite common in salads and as a matter of fact, quinoa is not just a complete protein, but also a superfood due to its vast amount of nutrients. I will not be describing the function of all the nutrients found in this grain, however, I will be listing as many as I am sure of: Vitamin A, thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), niacin (vitamin B-3), pyridoxamine (vitamin B-6), folate (vitamin B-9),  alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, choline, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.

Tocopherols (vitamin E) is a natural anti-ageing vitamin which slows down the ageing process by reducing and preventing damage caused by free radicals, reducing inflammation on an within the body, improving the skin’s flexibility and strengthening capillary walls. These also make vitamin E beneficial for cancer patients as it reduces the harmful or negative effects of radiation and dialysis such as hair loss and skin problems such as dryness or peeling. It balances hormones, therefore, preventing or minimising symptoms of PMS, anxiety, and fatigue while boosting energy levels, regulating the menstrual cycle and aiding in the maintenance of a healthy weight. Lastly, vitamin E is very crucial during pregnancy as it protects fatty acids needed for the proper brain and neurologic development of a foetus.

Choline is a water-soluble macronutrient that can be compared to (and occasionally works with) the B-complex vitamins. It aids in the creation and maintenance of cell membranes by promoting the absorption of fat from foods consumed thereby supporting brain development and growth. It also supports the movement of muscles by improving nerve signaling via the activation of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Due to choline’s importance in nerve signaling and the creation and maintenance of cell membranes, it aids in preventing memory loss and lack of focus and concentration especially due to ageing as levels of acetylcholine naturally diminish as a person gets older. By supporting the absorption of fats to make cell membranes, choline prevents harmful fat build-up, such as that from triglycerol and cholesterol, in the liver. It also aids in the metabolisation of homocysteine (an amino acid formed by the body as a byproduct of methionine, which usually obtained from animal (by)products) to benign products thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases, heart attacks and strokes. Like vitamin E, choline is also essential during pregnancy in order to support the formation of the brain, nerve channels and cell structures of a foetus/foetuses.

Lutein and zeaxanthin, popularly known for their vision-boosting properties, are antioxidants from the carotenoid family. These antioxidants reduce the risk of blindness by protecting the eyes from short-wavelength UV light and preventing the formation of cataracts. They also prevent skin damage and skin cancer by reducing oxidative stress through protecting the skin from high-energy wavelengths of light. Lastly, some studies have shown that a combination of lutein and omega-3 fatty acids (especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)) aids in preventing, controlling diabetes and biochemical changes caused by diabetes

Omega fatty acids (omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid)) are essential acids needed for the proper function and development of organs and systems in the body especially that of the brain, heart and immune system. The health benefits of omega fatty acids are extensive. These benefits include preventing cases of high cholesterol or cholesterol buildup by lowering triglycerides and raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, lowering blood pressure due to hypertension, reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, increasing levels of calcium thereby improving bone health and preventing or treating osteoporosis, preventing cognitive decline due to ageing, reducing sensitivity to UV rays thereby aiding in the treatment of photodermatitis, supports the treatment of psoriasis alongside medication, prevents blindness caused by macular degeneration, reduced symptoms of PMS such as cramps and mood swings by balancing hormones and reducing the risk of some cancers such as colon, breast and prostate cancer.

That was quite a bit of reading!

With that said, here is the recipe for our 4th of July pancakes.

Bon Appétit!

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One-Pot Pasta

One-pot pasta dishes are life savers. You literally just have to chuck a bunch of veggies, herbs and spices into a pot, add some pasta and freshly boiled water then let it cook. No draining is needed as the past absorbs all of the water and flavours in the pot.

When I have a little extra time, I like to get a little fancier with my one-pot pasta by preparing special sauces which would be added to the pot while cooking. These sauces add to the medley of flavours which make a one-pot pasta so amazing. Depending on the contents of the sauce, it could contribute to the creaminess of the final dish.

The recipe which I have chosen to share with you is that of my tomato-veggie one-pot pasta. It is packed with nutrients and a flavour that leaves you not only eating more than you planned but licking your plate too! It leaves you not wanting to waste even the minutest bit of the dish.

I will not be getting into the health benefits of the nutrients found in this dish although I will be listing the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in it as they have been described in previous recipe posts. These nutrients include vitamin A, vitamin C, B-Complex vitamins (thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyridoxamine (B-6) and folic acid (B-9)), vitamin K, flavonoids (kaempferol, dihydroflaonols, anthocyanins and isorhamnetin), sodium, sulfur-containing compounds, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, niacin, copper, dietary fibre, antioxidant polyphenols and lycopene.

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Bon Appétit!

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Review: The Planet

The Planet – a hidden gem in little ol’ Taunton.

After about twenty minutes of walking back and forth, I finally found The Planet, a rather small and quaint vegan café in Taunton, Somerset. I walked into a rather echo-y room which consisted of two large pro-vegan pictures, chairs and tables arranged for easy manoeuvre and an area towards the back adorned with rather attractive cakes where you can read the chalkboard menu, place your order and pick up some vegan pamphlets and VeganLife magazines to occupy you as you wait for your food. Although there were a lot of pro-vegan things around the place, I felt that the vegan message being portrayed was no “militant” or overpowering.

After meeting the lovely staff, I took a few minutes to decide what to order – everything looked pretty delicious. They offered various veggie burgers, a pasta dish, soup dish and a wide range of drinks. A few minutes went by and I decided on the spicy chickpea burger and a bottle of water which, together, cost about £7.

About ten to fifteen minutes went by before my food came out. I expected to receive just a chickpea burger, but that was not the case, I got a burger with four different cold salads perfect for this summer heat in Taunton. The salads were a lentil and brown rice salad, carrot salad, green and purple leaf salad and potato and her salad.

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Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas, the one dish I had almost every day while on a trip to Spain in December. From ordering this tapa dish in various restaurants and in various cities, I realised that there are variations to the recipe which results in differing consistencies, colours and flavours as some are more tomato-based while others are more red pepper based or include an aioli. However, they all tasted amazing!

A few days ago, someone suggested that I make Spanish dishes. The first one that came to mind was this one. However, there are some key variations in what I made. The potatoes in this dish are usually fried. However, I cooked them in the oven with some cornstarch for a crispier outer layer. The cornstarch can be completely skipped or, if you do not mind oil, you could fry the potatoes or drizzle some oil over the potatoes before placing them in a preheated oven.

I touched on the nutritional benefits of potatoes in my last recipe post. You can click here to recap on their health benefits. The health benefits of the next dominant ingredient, tomatoes, are numerous as tomatoes contain a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants such as lycopene, B-complex vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and Calcium alongside dietary fibre. I will only elaborate on those that have not been mentioned in previous posts.

Lycopene is the carotenoid which gives tomato its red colour. It has various health benefits which include the protection of cells from free radicals, inhibition of growth or prevention of some cancers and a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Studies have also shown that lycopene (in conjunction with vitamin A) has a rather therapeutic effect on asthma thereby reducing symptoms that occur as a result of exercise by improving lung function.  More information concerning lycopene and asthma can be found here.

Vitamin K is popularly known as the vitamin which aids in reducing blood loss due to injury. Vitamin K also acts to reduce and control blood clotting and prevent internal bleeding as well as provide relief from menstrual cramps by aiding in the proper functioning of hormones. This vitamin promotes the absorption of calcium which in turn encourages the formation and maintenance of strong and healthy bones.

Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body. It works with calcium, the most profuse mineral, to form and maintain bone health and strength. This mineral also aids in the formation and utilisation of proteins in the body in order to promote cell and tissue growth and maintenance. It also aids in the metabolisation of fats and carbohydrates which, in turn, aids in the maintenance and efficient use of energy by the body’s organs. In conjunction with vitamin B, phosphorus aids in the normalisation of kidney function (by helping to filter out waste from the body), muscle function (thereby preventing or reducing muscle pains) and nerve function. Lastly, phosphorus balances and aids in the utilisation of other minerals and vitamins in the body.

Copper promotes the absorption and utilisation of iron from food and encourages red blood cell formation thereby maintaining a healthy red blood cell count and preventing or aiding in the treatment of iron deficiency anaemia by aiding in the oxygenation of the various organs in the body. In addition to this, copper promotes the health and protection of the body’s connective tissues and myelin sheath. Copper prevents premature ageing by supporting the production of collagen and elastin in connective tissues in order to maintain the flexibility of the skin and, in turn, prevent wrinkles and bags.

Manganese, like phosphorus, aids in the absorption of calcium and works with it to build and maintain bones, the metabolisation of carbohydrates and fats and formation of tissues. It also promotes thyroid health and regulates blood sugar levels by controlling insulin secretion and synthesis thereby preventing or aiding in the treatment of diabetes. Finally, manganese aids in the increase of superoxide dismutase in the body thereby soothing or preventing sprains and inflammation and preventing or reducing the symptoms of conditions such as arthritis.

Without further ado, here’s my recipe for patatas bravas:

Bon appétit!

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