In case you’re not already aware, I’m taking part in Veganuary for the third (or is it fourth?) year running. Having done it so many times before – and going full vegan for the entirety of my last relationship – I’m definitely finding it a lot easier this time around. That doesn’t mean it’s not without a few challenges but, overall, I’m so much more confident with what I’m doing now.

Here’s how my second week has gone. Catch up with my first week here.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Veganuary 2019 | Week One

DAY EIGHT – TUESDAY
I’m not going to lie – I can’t even remember exactly what I had for lunch or breakfast today but I’m pretty sure I had a cheese and onion sandwich. Man, I really need to mix up my lunch ideas. Dinner was horrible tonight. I planned to have stir-fry, but didn’t have the noodles in (I thought I’d ordered them with my online shop but obviously not!). So I put together a pre-made curry kit (all vegan might I add), but it didn’t taste very nice at all and I somehow got hot sauce in my eye when opening the packet; so not a huge success I must admit!

DAY NINE – WEDNESDAY
On Wednesday, I actually had time have breakfast at home for once, so this was avocado on toast! I can make it at work too, of course, but I rarely ever get up early enough to eat at home. Lunchtime was exciting though as I finally got a chance to try the Gregg’s vegan sausage roll! It was delicious and I was very impressed. Three different people were waiting for them to be cooked whilst I was there and loads of people we’re talking about it in the queue. I love that it’s got people talking. After work, I headed over to see the guy I’m seeing and he made me a vegan stir fry! It was delicious and I was really pleased; he wouldn’t even let me help and made the entire thing by himself. He’s a full-on meat lover and back before Christmas even offered to eat vegan with me every time he saw me in January which I thought was lovely. I told him he didn’t have to do that, but it’s nice that he still made a bit of effort. I think my veganism has rubbed off on him however as since then he’s told me his New Year’s resolution is to cut down on meat and dairy! So that made me really happy – every little helps 😉

DAY TEN – THURSDAY
Today I had a smoothie for breakfast but lunch was pretty disappointing. We had a big meeting at work so my boss got in a platter of sandwiches from M&S…none of which were vegan, of course. I knew this would be the case, so I still made sure to make a sandwich for work (cheese and onion), and had some of the crisps she bought. Not very exciting or varied at all! For dinner tonight I really didn’t have much patience so just grabbed random bits of what was in the freezer – breaded mushrooms, a vegetable pattie, a falafel burger, chips and some vegetables. So random and uninspiring, but it did fill me up and made a bit more space in the freezer.

DAY ELEVEN – FRIDAY
By Friday, I was running out of quick and easy vegan snacks at home, so I literally just packed the most random bits for lunch again. I had a pear, some Chipstix crisps and a Nakd bar – so not much at all! On the way home though, I popped into Sainsbury’s to pick up the vegan katsu curry that everyone has been raving about and ended up buying so many different things from their new vegan range – I was very impressed! Friday night is curry night in the Joy household so I had my vegan katsu curry and just ordered some onion bahjis – a successful evening of yummy food, I would say.

DAY TWELVE – SATURDAY
Saturday – as always – was a bit of a lazy morning for me. I grabbed a quick bowl of cereal before running out to get some basics from ASDA – but I wasn’t too impressed. I struggled to find where everything was kept and they didn’t even have my favourite chocolate bar! I managed to pick up a similar one however. When I got home, I spent most of my afternoon and evening Marie Kondo’ing my room so I just shoved some veggie and mozzarella balls in the oven quickly. I’d picked these up from the new range from Sainsbury’s and had been craving them all day…but when they were ready, it became very clear to me that it was actual mozzarella inside and they weren’t vegan. I contemplated throwing them away and making something else, but I just didn’t have the motivation. I also knew throwing them away and letting them go to waste would be the worst thing, so I sucked it up and chalked it down to an honest mistake: these things happen.

DAY THIRTEEN – SUNDAY
Today I had cereal for breakfast before heading over to my sister’s for Sunday lunch. She did a roast, but I substituted meat for a Linda McCartney pie and still got to have all the veggies. It was nice being able to sit down and have food with everyone else, with just a few subtle swaps to make it vegan. I was worried that following my mistake yesterday, I would easily slip out of veganism like in previous years (it’s a slippery slope after that first mistake!), but I did well!

I also got in some bits and took the time to make a vegan food plan for next week today.

DAY FOURTEEN – MONDAY
For the halfway mark, I had another struggling day as I was out all day in London for work. Although we went to a lovely restaurant, there was only one vegan option available which I did not like and since my boss doesn’t understand veganism, kicking up a fuss or not even eating wasn’t an option. Still, I chose the healthiest options I could and vowed to add another day onto my month of Veganuary to make up for it.

This week I didn’t use a food plan and it didn’t make things too hard at all, I’d say the only thing I struggled with without a food plan was meal prep for work lunches and updating this blog post! So I’ve decided to try again for next week. I am aware that it takes a lot of time and effort – and is likely to change – but hopefully having it there to refer back to will ensure I make healthier and more fulfilling lunch choices.

Have you tried Veganuary? Are you eating less meat this January? Let me know!

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This Veganuary, I am so excited about how many options there are for vegans eating out or on the go! Chain restaurants like Pizza Express, Zizi’s, Pizza Hut, Hungry Horse and Wagamama’s all have really great vegan options now and let’s not forget Greg’s vegan sausage rolls!

It makes me really happy, but it’s also great to visit independent places to eat too. Here are some local eateries that have some great vegan options.

Formidable Joy | Vegan | Best places to eat vegan in Beds, Herts & Bucks | Chia Naturally Healthy | Bond Estates Kitchen | Vutie Beets | The Juice Pharm | MK11 - Kiln Farm | The Craufurd Arms

CHIA NATURALLY HEALTHY, HITCHIN
I avoid Hitchin now like the plague but my favourite place to eat in the area was always Chia Naturally Healthy, a quant vegan cafe in the centre of Hitchin. It’s small and cosy, overlooking the church, and is perfect for brunch or a late lunch with a warm drink on a cold day. It’s really sweet, serving hot and cold food and an extensive selection of superfood smoothies, as well as books and reading material on eating healthy. The entire menu is plant based too.

THE BOND ESTATES KITCHEN, MILTON KEYNES
This may just look like a little cafeteria on an industrial estate, but don’t let this fool you. Though it started as just a pantry (across the road from where I work!), The Bond Estates Kitchen recently expanded to include a small seating area and you can order online for takeout/pick up. It’s not entirely vegan, but what is is delicious. Their vegan menu is extensive and with specials on various nights of the week, you’re spoiled for choice. Practically anything they serve can be made vegan too, and the lovely lady who runs it also specializes in food plans and high protein dishes – if that’s your kind of thing. Just note – they used to be called The Body Builder’s kitchen and from what I can see this website is still accessible – so double check you log onto the correct website here.

VUTIE BEETS, LETCHWORTH
I haven’t had a chance to visit here yet but I’ve heard so many great things about it. Often I’ll get delicious looking dishes appear on my Facebook timeline – many of them seemingly traditional meat dishes like burgers or chilli – and I’ll suddenly realize it was posted by Vutie Beets. Their menu is so varied and everything they serve is entirely vegan too, so there’s no second guessing.

THE JUICE PHARM, ST ALBANS
This gem of a cafe may be small, but it’s menu of smoothies, acai bowls and cakes is extensive. You won’t find any junk food here – it’s all beyond healthy with superfoods and super nutritious offerings. They do more filling food too, like avocado on toast and soup for brunch. The only thing is that they’re veggie too – so be sure to be clear about wanting vegan butter etc when ordering vegan.

MK11 KILN FARM & CRAUFURD ARMS, MILTON KEYNES
These may seem odd to put on the list as they are pubs but they’re worth mentioning! MK11 Kiln Farm serves delicious food anyway, with many vegan options. Throughout Veganuary, they’ll also be serving a 100% vegan menu on selected days. Though The Craufurd Arms don’t traditionally serve food, they often do Vegan Vendor days, allowing vendors to come in and serve up delicious vegan treats,

It actually makes me so happy how many vegan options there are for eating out now – and local too! I remember the first time I tried my hand at Veganuary and only knew of places in London to eat vegan! Whether you’re vegan or not, you should definitely try some of these places.

Will you be visiting any of these places in Veganuary (or after?)? Let me know!

 

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I love a good trend. I know I praised a lot of love for mermaids in a recent blog post, but today I am going back to the unicorn trend by discovering Unicorn Superfoods.

I stumbled across them on Instagram, capitivated by their beyond beautiful unicorn smoothies and mermaid toast – which not only looks amazing but is healthy too!

Formidable Joy | Brand Crush | Unicorn Superfoods | Healthy | Vegan | Natural

The brand was created by two twin sisters in Australia who cite health, love and fitness as their passions. They created colourful superfood powders which you add to, well, nearly anything you can think of!

Superfoods have a number of different benefits, such as helping people to become more energized, positive and motivated. They also improve memory and strengthen immunity, nourishes hair, skin and nails and reduces bloating!

Additionally, all products are all natural. They’re USDA organic certified, vegan friendly, gluten free, dairy free and kid friendly!

The various mixes come in a manner of different colours and flavours with different benefits – although, of course, it’s all good for you! The website includes recipe ideas, states all the lovely benefits from the different blends/powders and the brand is spot on when it comes to social media.

Just scroll through their Instagram once and I bet you’ll be motivated to start eating more healthy, creating more with your foods and jump on the #unicornsuperfoodstrend.

So of course, I gave in to the trend and purchased their Unicorn Bundle. My first attempt of mermaid toast didn’t look too appetizing, but my first smoothie bowl was tasty. My first breakfast smoothie looked like sick according to a work colleague (thanks Nicki!) but come Friday, I think I got the hang of things.

Instead of using coconut yogurt for my on-the-go smoothie, I used oatly milk so that it was less thick and so I could enjoy it as a drink. The colour came out perfect too. I’d also used frozen bananas instead of fresh ones, so this made a bit of difference.

But does it work?

Formidable Joy | Brand Crush | Unicorn Superfoods | Healthy | Vegan | Natural

Hell yeah! I managed to make my smoothie look pretty damn colourful, and I’ve already began experimenting with foods more (especially breakfast food).

Plus, it really does help with energy.

Picture this. I woke up on Friday morning exhausted. I hadn’t fallen asleep till 2am the previous night and was up at 7:30am. It was one of those ‘should I call in sick?’ mornings – before I realized, no, I really couldn’t. I ran to the shop to get breakfast on the go and was going to forgo getting a Red Bull but it was on special offer and I was so damn tired that I was sure I’d need it.

Before leaving the house, I quickly made myself a Bubblegum Smoothie (2 x frozen bananas, a couple of teaspoons of Unicorn Superfoods’ Pink Pitaya and Oatly Milk) for breakfast on the go.

It wasn’t until gone 2am that I realized a) I’d barely eaten all day, except for a snack for breakfast and b) I hadn’t had – or needed – a Red Bull all day! Normally by 11am my tummy is grumbling and often I’ll crack open a Red Bull between 11am and my lunch at noon.

But Friday? Nothing.

I did have a Red Bull at about half two – not because I was tired – but just because we were hitting the afternoon slump and I knew I needed a boost to keep myself motivated.

So as it goes, I didn’t think anything of it at that time, but that simple smoothie with Pink Pitaya kept my hunger at bay and stopped me feeling tired!

I’m definitely being a lot more concious not only about what I eat overall now but especially for breakfast. If making a pretty and colourful breakfast helps me eat more healthy then who’s complaining?!

So far, I’ve stuck to using Unicorn Superfoods in my breakfasts (going healthy? Slowly does it!) – the smoothies are delicious and I’ve finally got the knack of breakfast toast (as shown above – cream cheese, Unicorn Superfoods powder and blueberries on sourdough toast), but I’m excited to try some more recipes from their webste such as vegan donuts!

Would you give Unicorn Superfoods a try? Let me know!

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London is fast becoming a capital for vegan food and I am constantly surprised at all the amazing vegan restauraunts popping up around the city. Purezza is one I’d wanted to visit for a while now because I adored my visit to their Brighton branch, but unfortunately couldn’t justify going back to Brighton all the time just for their pizza (which I wish I could but it’s rather expensive!). So when the opportunity came up to visit and review their (still slightly new) Camden branch in London (on behalf of Love Pop Ups – London), I jumped at the chance.

I never grow bored of creative vegan food and I definitely never grow bored of vegan pizza so it was really a win-win situation for me. I headed down with my friend Ali recently and found the restauraunt was only a short walk away from Camden Town station – perhaps five minutes at most.

We ducked inside to the slightly small but ever so cosy premsis and were taken upstairs to a smaller more intimate room with only three or four tables. It was so cute and really cosy, although downstairs had been really busy too! The whole restauraunt – downstairs and up – had a nice ambient buzz to it.

With such a vast menu – all pizzas could be made on three different basis and there is non pizza choices too, such as lasagne or a ‘pure bowl’ – we found it hard to pick. I was tempted to go for the delicios Portobello Road again – I do love my mushrooms – but decided to go for something new and settled on the Season.4.Pizza.1 which boasted artichokes, olives, mushrooms, smoked beet and salad cress.

Ali went for the Marinara and between us we chose doughballs and garlic bread as sides. I have to say, despite going in too early and burning my mouth, the doughballs are to die for. I still don’t know how they get the delicious vegan cheese to melt and ooze like real cheese (whenever I try to re-create anything similar, it just ends up rubbery) but somehow they do and it just hit the spot.

Formidable Joy | Food | Purezza Camden | Purezza | Vegan | Italian | Pizza | Food Review

I couldn’t fault my choice. Two slices in and I’d already forgotten we were at a vegan restauraunt – the smoked beet, although it didn’t taste of meat, provided the look and texture you’d expect from meat on a pizza and I’ve said this many times before – if it looks like meat but isn’t, you can very easily forget that you’re eating a vegetable. I’m not even a massive fan of beet but it was delicious and my pizza was filled with so much flavour that even if I had a giant pepperoni pizza in front of me too, I’d still choose the vegan one.

I took only a bite of the Marinara (at this point, I was struggling to finish my own) but it was delicious also.

Cocktails were also on the menu for us that night (well, it was for everyone, but you get my point) and whilst Ali chose a glass of prosecco, I went for something that I can’t quite remember the name of but was a take on a cheese cake and was beyond delicious. Normally I find fancy looking cocktails aren’t actually all that nice, but this one really hit the spot.

By dessert we were struggling. My friend went for the very wise choice of a Brownie which was so cute and small (in a good way!) it looked too good to eat. I was drawn in with the choice of Oreos and chose the Oreo Pizza – basically a chocolate pizza – and only managed one small slice before giving up and asking to take the rest home.

Formidable Joy | Food | Purezza Camden | Purezza | Vegan | Italian | Pizza | Food Review

Formidable Joy | Food | Purezza Camden | Purezza | Vegan | Italian | Pizza | Food Review

I did have some more when I got in but I had mixed feelings about this. It was really tasty, but I couldn’t really get past the fact that it was on a pizza base. I know that’s the point but this really threw me and I struggled to enjoy it as a dessert – that’s not to say I didn’t like it, but perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t also had a pizza for my main.

Overall, however, the entire meal was mouth watering and so tasty and full of flavour. The food at Purezza is a prime example of a selection of healthy plant based foods that you don’t even realize you’re not having any meat. You either don’t crave any anyway because the options just sound too tasty, or the food is so good it makes you forget you’re eating entirely vegan.

Nestled away in the heart of Camden, Purezza is the perfect treat for next time you’re in London and craving some healthy Italian food.

Have you ever been to Purezza? Let me know your thoughts!

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One thing I always struggle with when eating vegan is lunch ideas. In the past, I’ll always have such simple lunches – a cheese and onion or ham and tomato sandwich with a packet of crisps and that was it really.

When eating vegan, I have to really get creative with my lunch ideas. I can still have a cheese and onion sandwich for example but vegan cheese isn’t that great for flavour when just in a sandwich, so this is usually a last resort for me.

Therefore I thought it would be nice to share some of my favourite vegan lunch ideas.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Food | Vegan | 6 easy go-to vegan lunch ideas

VEGAN BURRITO BOWL
I’m not a lover of burritos/burrito bowls or even black beans but I loved this burrito bowl (taken from one of Pound Fit’s meal plans). It’s another one that looks super impressive with minimal prep. All you need to do the night before is cook and drain the black beans, then pack an avocado, chopped tomatoes, rice and a slice of lime. You can cook the rice the night before and have it cold with your burrito bowl, or grab a microwavable pack to scoff it warm. It’s another idea great for summer.

TOMATO MEZZE
This is a massive favourite of mine taken from The Debrief back when it was still a thing (oh how I miss it!). It’s great because it’s cheap to make (all leftover ingredients are totally versatile to use in other dishes), it’s easy and it looks a lot more impressive than it actually is. All you need is hummus, rocket salad, a bread roll, tomatoes and smoked paprika – probably everything you already have anyway. Basically you make a smokey tomatoey sauce using the smoked paprika and tomatoes and a little water in the microwave, sprinkle some smoked paprika over the hummus and divide it onto your plate to pile onto your bread. It’s lightweight too but a great alternative for a warm-but-not-heavy meal in summer.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
This one needs some prep the night before (or the day before – I tend to cook it in the slow cooker throughout the day) but my god its tasty. Ingredients and recipes vary – I tend to just blend some butternut squash and an onion before seasoning it – but you can pile in as many vegetables as you like. Pick up some delicious bread rolls or sourdough bread with lashings of vegan butter, microwave the soup and you’ve got a stocky lunch to keep you full throughout the day.

AVOCADO ON TOAST
Super simple, super easy. Definitely a Friday lunch when you can’t be bothered. Still feeling hungry? Grab some plain Doritos (or nacho crisps) and use any remaining avo as an easy alternative to guac.

ITALIAN RED PEPPER HUMMUS SANDWICH
This sandwich is a firm favourite from Euphoric Vegan. It’s asbsolutely delicious as it is, but to save time and money, I usually swap the red pepper hummus for normal hummus (also used in the tomatoe mezze recipe)!

ON THE HIGH STREET
Can’t be bothered to prep or really running late and forget? There’s actually tons of vegan choices on the high street if you know where to look/what to look for. My favourites are the falafel and hummus wrap or the falafel red pepper and tabbouleh salad (which isn’t marked as vegan but is vegan as long as you remove the spiced yogurt dressing provided with it) as part of the Tesco meal deal (both Walkers ready salted crisps and squares are vegan). Tesco also stocks the WICKED range, most of which is microwaveable. Pret’s has tons of vegan options too – though a little pricey. You can see a full guide of vegan goodies to buy along the high street here, for those days when you’re caught out.

If you’re vegan, what do you normally eat at lunchtime? Let me know!

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