London Hotspots

So normally I’d write a different blog post about each hotspot I find. I did this since I started my blog. I did this as I lived in London and I had the opportunity to visit 1-2 places every week. When I’m on holiday, I write a whole big article and give you hotspot list in the end. Most of you know that I moved out of London and at my new place there aren’t many vegan places (to be precise.. there are none!). This is why I visit London once in a while and try to visit as many places as I can. It really takes some planning, becuase I only have one stomach and even though I’d love to visit 10 places a day, I simply can’t eat it all, haha! Before I plan a weekend, I make a list and I plan my days ahead. So a place for breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes a little thing in between. In these days I’m always super full and the sugar levels are up up up! Haha! But I love to show you new places and I really hope that I can pursue you to go and visit. I went to London last weekend and here are all the places I’ve been to. I will write a little bit about each place and I will give you the whole list in the end of the post. Here we go..

MOTHER
This was one of the first hotspots I added to my list of hotspots for the weekend. A friend of mine really likes it here and I often saw it on her Instagram and it always looked so delicious, that I wanted to try it out for myself. So after I parked my van, I went straight here for brunch. It was so hard to pick something! I thought I picked something, but then I saw there was even more.. after a while, I eventually I went for the ‘Eggless Royale’. That apparently had ‘poached eggs’. I was intrigued and I was happily surprised as it looked super pretty! It was very tasty too. Although, I didn’t find the ‘salmon’ taste like fish and the poached eggs, even though they definitely had the look, were very soft. But it was tasty though! I will be back to try something else next time. Mother is also in a nice location, where you can take a lovely stroll next to the canals and boats and its only a 15 min walk to Westfield.

THE SPREAD EAGLE
I actually had a pizza place on my list for dinner, but weird enough (this never happens) I didn’t feel like having pizza. So I decided to go to the Spread Eagle pub. I never go to pubs, but I make an exception for this one as it’s 100% vegan. Naturally, I think everybody would want to go to a pub like this. Hehe.. It was fairly busy, even though it was a little early still. I guess that is a good sign and that makes me happy. I had a perfect table in the corner and Nola got offered a bowl of water she was very grateful for. I went for a burger and a lovely lady who was sitting close to the till, was recommending me the three way potatoes. They also have little taco’s and as I was very curious about the tofish one, I ordered that one too. I told myself I could always have it take away in case I was too full. And because of all that deliciousness I was indeed very full. The burger was so tasty, but the potatoes were definitely my thing. I’d come back here just for those, haha! I decided to do some work and by the time I was finished that, there was a little bit of space for the taco, that was aso super delicious. This is such a nice pub! Great interior, super friendly staff, a very chill and easy going atmosphere and I definitely recommend going here.

LEON
I’m sure everyone tried the LOVE burger at Leon. If not.. why not?? It’s delicious! I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it. Even omnivores love it. Leon is doing super well with their vegan options and very recently they launched their newest vegan addition: Jack Wings! They are made with jackfruit. So I expected pieces of jackfruit with a breadcrumb coating, but in real life they were a bit like the famous Dutch ‘bitterballen’, but then cheesy and not round like a ball. I truly liked them though. Maybe because I was expecting something else, but maybe becuase they are just very tasty. I love jackfruit anyway, but I’m sure that if you don’t like jackfruit, you will like these too. They aren’t a typically jackfruit dish, but creamy, a little cheesy and full of taste. I really liked them with the aioli sauce, which is also vegan. So whenever you’re near a Leon, go and try them!

BUBBLEWRAP
When I saw this on Instagram I was like WHATT?! I needed to try this for sure. I had never heard of it, but that is probably because there weren’t any vegan options at first. Now there are. It’s located in China Town (close to Piccadilly Circus/Soho) and easy to find. It’s a small shop and when I was there it was busy (I don’t know for sure, but I expect it to be busy any time of the day). There is a pre-made option (as in they picked the flavours for you), but you can also custom make one. There is one base that is vegan and 2 flavours of ice cream: chocolate and pistachio (of course I had to try them both). There are lots of toppings that are vegan and it’s hard to choose. I went for strawberry, banana, pecans and peanut butter sauce. GREAT combination! You pay per item/topping and so you can make it as expensive as you want. I thought it to be a lot like a pancake and it to be quite filling, but the ‘pancake’ is fairly light. It’s crispy (a bit like the crispy sides of a pancake), with a little bit of soft/sticky inside. I’m curious what toppings you will choose!

HEMA
Who knows Hema? All Dutch people do, because it’s the best Dutch shop ever! When, a few years ago, I discovered there was a Hema in London I almost cried! Haha! All their make up is free from animal testing, but not vegan. BUT.. Recently they launched a whole vegan and cruelty free line, called B.A.E. I tried their foundation as I always used to have their foundation before I was vegan. I really like it. It’s not my every day foundation, but I use it as a top up for during the day. Mainly because they come in a perfect little tube. So handy for on the way. So I got a new one today, in their Tottenham Court branch. The last time I also got the heart stamp (so cute!) and a little perfume I like (also for on the way). There is a lot more though, but I don’t wear a lot of make up. It’s definitely worth a try though. I also always just have a little wander around and I always become so greedy. Hehe.. I don’t buy anything I don’t need, but gosh.. deep down I want to buy everything! Have you been to Hema?

KALIFORNIA KITCHEN
As I went to Hema I also planned to go to Kalifornia Kitchen. It’s only a 2 min walk. If I’m really honest, I mostly went to this place because of the interior. I would never style my house (or van! Hehe..) like this, but I love it though. It’s boho, kitch, but classy and fun! Great combo. I love how daring they are and it is soooo Instagram proof! So much detail and best of all.. they are all vegan! Down stairs it was quite busy, but the hostess (Who reminded me of the singer Susan Cagle so much and I love her. Look her up if you don’t know her and read up on her story, it’s amazing!) asked if I wanted to sit up stairs and there was nobody there and it’s so pretty up stairs. Nola got a bowl of water and I tried to decide what to have. As I had so much sugar and unhealthy things this weekend already, I decided for a super healthy meal. I also ordered a sea moss smoothie. It was all very tasty and looked very pretty. So all pretty and nice here at Kalifornia Kitchen, but it is a little expensive though. I would say it makes a great party location. Birthdays, anniversaries and any other celebrations.. it’s a real treat going here and it feels special. Oh they also have lovely dessert btw, but I didn’t go for one as I was going to get a doughnut afterwards.

VEGAN CROSSTOWN
This was my Saturday dessert. They close at 19:00 and I had to rush to get there, but I made it just (really just!) in time. A few were already sold out (sadly the chocolate one was one of them), but I still had plenty of choice. I had to decide quite quickly, because they were basically closing up. I went for the ‘Cinnamon Scroll’ (obvious choice) and also the ‘Rhubarb, Raspberry & Ginger’ one as I heard it was good. As I was there anyway I also got the ‘Strawberry & English Sparkling Rosé’. When I payed the guy, he said he put an extra in there as they were closing. So I also got to try the ‘Lime & Coconut’ doughnut. Gosh.. 4 doughnuts.. that is a big dessert. I ate the whole cinnamon one (soooo good!) and I had a bite of all the others to taste them whilst they were still fresh. The rest I saved for later. I definitely liked the cinnamon the best. I’m a chocolate, caramel, cinnamon, coconut, toffee kind of person and not so much a lime, ginger and strawberry girl (at least not in dessert and cakes etc,). I did like the other ones as well though. Out of those 3 I liked the ‘English Sparking Rosé’ the best. I really liked the crumbs on top of them btw, it reminded me of the bottom of a cake we always made every birthday when I was younger. I will definitely come back for the ‘Dark Chocolate Truffle’ and the ‘Peanut Butter & Blackcurrant Compote’ though, because I mean.. come on! Which one would you have picked?

PARADISE PLANTBASED
I’m sure some of you know this place, because this is my favourite cafe. I used to live next to it and I always go here when I’m in London with my van or when I’m taking someone to breakfast. I actually went here twice this weekend as I park my van around the corner. Handy place to use the toilet and to have breakfast. The first morning I met up with Maddie, a gril I got to know through Instagram and we both had the chickpea omelette (I always have this one, it’s so good!). The second morning I just had a smoothie (as I was planning to have pancakes for breakfast later) and I did a bit of work before I traveled to Shoreditch. The smoothie I had was the ‘Ziggy’ btw, super healthy.

DUTCH POFFERTJES
I was planning to get some pancake from OSU Pancakes, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. Does anyone know where they are at Brick Lane? I was in the House of Vegan and there was a stall with Dutch Poffertjes. So in the end I went for poffertjes instead. Being Dutch I know them very well, but I didn’t have them for a long time. There were so many toppings to choose from. I went for strawberries and chocolate sauce.  A classic, but always good. They were very delicious and a yummy breakfast. They are quite popular I think, because I saw another 2 stalls with poffertjes. D

HEMP & WILLIAMS
I discovered this place by accident. I wasn’t planning to go here and I didn’t even know it existed. I just finished my Dutch Poffertjes and then I saw this very happy guy handing out ice cream. I decided not to get anything, because I’d be too full, I just had something sweet and I didn’t even have a proper lunch yet.. But the ice cream was made out of hemp and after walking another circle and checking out the instagram page, I decided that I had to try it. He let me taste all the flavours and I actually liked them all. The mango was fresh, the strawberry sweet and the chocolate and chili was so unique and surprising. Normally I’m not a fan of chocolate in combination with something else, but this worked. You taste chocolate and then there is the chili flavour as soon as you swallow, a proper wohw effect. Talking about unique.. all the flavours are. He makes everything himself and they are all delicious. It’s not really like ice cream and it’s not like a sorbet, it’s a bit in between and it melts perfectly in your mouth. I went for the plain chocolate flavour in the end (because.. chocolate..). It was so good and I discovered something else very that was very unique. It basically doesn’t melt!! So weird, but it’s like an forever ice cream. It took me at east 15 minutes to eat it. I could lick it and lick it and lick it and it was super delicious, but it was like it would last forever. I can’t recommend this enough and I urge you to try it! You can find Hemp&Williams every Saturday and Sunday (both days from 11:00-18:00) at the House Of Vegan in Brick Lane.

UNITY DINER
I don’t know if you remember, but I promised myself that every time I’m in London, I’ll visit Unity Diner. If there is one restaurant that I want to support, then it’s this one! Unity Diner is a non profit restaurant and they have the most amazing food!! I mean, I just can’t get over it really. I officially made this my favourite restaurant. I wish I could go every day. Haha! The staff is amazing, the atmosphere is super chill and the restaurant looks so good that I want to live there. This time I went for the Tofish & Chips. I was thinking about tofish the whole weekend and so it was a perfect dish to end the weekend with. The portion is so bigggg and I promise you that it won’t disappoint. It comes with mashed peas, chunky chips and a yummy sauce. I also ordered some extra garlic mayonnaise with it. I enjoy eating it so much, but it also frustrates me, because it tasted so much like fish. What makes me wonder why on earth someone would rather kill a fish, destroy the ocean, the world and their own body whilst this is an option. Wouldn’t it be amazing if every fish&chips shop throughout the UK (and the world!) would serve this instead of a dead animal? I’m convinced that it’s the future and I really hope you will go here to taste it, experience it and to spread the word! Unity Diner is open from Tuesday-Sunday.

HOTSPOT LIST:
Mother:
1, Canalside Here East Estate, E20 3BS.
The Spread Eagle: 224 Homerton High St, Homerton, E9 6AS.
Leon: 49-51 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3JS.
Bubbelwrap: 24 Wardour St, W1D 6QJ.
Hema:
252 Tottenham Court Rd, W1T 7RB.
Kalifornia Kitchen: 19 Percy St, W1T 1DY.
Vegan Crosstown: 5-6 Picton Pl, W1U 1BL.
Paradise Plantbased: 59 Chamberlayne Rd, NW10 3ND.
Dutch Poffertjes: 152 Brick Ln, E1 5EG.
Hemp & Williams: 152 Brick Ln, E1 5EG.
Unity Diner: 5 Hoxton Market, N1 6HG. 

Have you been to one or more of these hotspots yet? Which one is your favourite or where  would you go if you could go right now? Tell me all about it! You can do this in the comments below or tag me on Instagram! Thank you! X

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Choco Beans

I like healthy recipes, but I definitely also like naughty recipes. Even though these delicious brownies are made with a whole can of black beans, it’s also made with a cup of sugar, white flour and oil. So the black beans will definitely give you some goodness, but under no circumstance will I call this a healthy recipe. They are delicious though. They are super fudgy from the inside and not crazy sweet, but it will definitely hit the spot. Also, as long as you have a kitchen machine, they are fairly easy to make. If you like you can add some pecans (chopped up into the mixture or use 8 whole ones on top). I left them out for now, but I do love pecans and chocolate though. It’s a good combination and it looks nice.

CHOCO BEANS

Makes: 8

1 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 can of black beans (drained)
1 cup unsweetened yogurt
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 ripe banana
1 tbs flaxseed
8 pecans (optional)
icing sugar (optional)

-Preheat the oven at 180C.
-Mix the dry ingredients (except the flaxseed) in a bowl.
-Put all the wet ingredients (and the flaxseed) in the kitchen machine and blend until you have a nice smooth mixture.
-Use a wooden spoon to gently mix in the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.
-Add the chopped up pecans if you like and mix well.
-Grease a baking tin with some oil and pour in the mixture.
-Smooth it out (put the pecans on top if you chose to use them on the top) and put the tin into the oven for about 25-30 min.
-Let it all cool down before cutting them up.
-For a little decoration, snow some icing sugar on top.

Are you going to make these brownies? Please show me your end result and let me know if you like them! You can do this on Instagram, by tagging me or by using #planetmanel. Thank you! X

Tofuture

I wanted to put some more basic recipes on my blog. Scrambled tofu is one of the first things that comes to mind and many people have asked me about this recipe. So here it finally is! It’s simple, nutritious and super delicious. I always make it this way and everybody loves this. It’s just so good, I can really crave this. I often eat this for lunch after coming back from a work out or when I’m just very hungry. There is not a lot that can top this! It’s perfect as a scrambled egg substitute, so if you crave scrambled egg, this is what you want to make. When I have left overs  (to be honest, this doesn’t happen a lot) I often add 2 big spoons of mayonnaise, mix it up and put it in a sandwich. Perfect for on the way.

TOFUTURE

Serves: 2

2 slices of bread
200 gr tofu (I used Tofoo)
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Salt/Pepper (to taste)
8 cherry tomatoes (cut in 1/2)
Handful of spinach
1 tbs nutritional yeast
2 tbs mayonnaise (optional)
2 tbs vegan cheese (grated, optional)

-Put the olive oil in a frying pan and crumble the tofu in a pan.
-Add the turmeric, garlic, paprika and some salt and pepper to taste.
-Mix it well and fry for about 3-5 minutes on a high fire.
-In the meantime toast (optional) some bread and put on some mayonnaise.
-Add the tomatoes and fry for another minute.
-Add the nutritional yeast and the spinach and fry until the spinach is soft.
-Divide the tofu mixture over the slices of bread and top it with some vegan cheese.
*I also like to add some sriracha mayonnaise on top.

Are you going to make this? Please show me your version on Instagram! You can do this by tagging me or by using #planetmanel. I’d love to see it and I’ll give you a shoutout when you do. Thank you! X

Spicy Magic

Last year a friend came over and he made me this. I loved it so much, but I don’t know exactly how he made it. So I tried to recreate it and this is it. I think it comes very close. I love this so much, because you can use it for everything. I put it over rice (this is so good!), pasta, salads, dip in my toast.. it’s good with everything really. I really love the taste of sesame (I’m quite obsessed with sesame oil), so to have whole toasted sesame seeds in this, just makes it perfect to me. It’s called Spicy Magic, but you decide how spicy. You can even leave the chilli flakes out if you’re not the type who enjoys chillis. Or you can add an extra tbs if you love the burn! I always add 2-3 tbs myself. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

SPICY MAGIC

Serves: a lot! 

500 ml extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup sesame seed
1-3 tbs chilli flakes 

-Fry the garlic and the sesame seeds in a bit of oil until you can slightly see the garlic change colour (about 1 min. pay attention, because the garlic can quickly go too brown!).
-Add the rest of the oil and the chilli flakes.
-Turn down the heat to very low and leave it for about 10-15 min. Make sure to stir once in a while. It’s ok for slow, small bubbles to appear, but do not let it fully cook.
-Store it in a glass jar, in the fridge. 

Are you the spicy type? Or will you leave the chilli flakes out? Please let me know where you are going to use it for. Tag me on Instagram or use the hashtag #planetmanel. Thank you! X

French Castle

A while ago I made this for the kids (I’m a nanny) and when I put some pictures on Instagram, I got a lot of reactions. So I made it into a proper recipe and now you can enjoy it too! It’s the perfect recipe to make for a brunch. And you can make ‘the castle’ even bigger if you like, it will look so impressive and festive. Personally I looooove french toast and a lot of people think you need egg to make it, but that is not necessary at all. You can perfectly enjoy it without and it’s super tasty! Instead of topping it with maple syrup, you can also use some butter (I recommend Vitalite butter) and some soft brown sugar. Yum!

FRENCH CASTLE

Serves: 3-4 people

6-8 slices of bread (lightly toasted)
1,5 cup oat milk
1/2 cup flour
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1,5 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying
1/2 mango (chopped)
4-6 strawberries (chopped)
1 cup blueberries 
Maple syrup

-Mix all the ingredients (except the bread, duhh!) in a bowl.
-Heat a frying pan on a medium-high fire.
-When the pan is hot, pour in at least 1 tbs of oil.
-Let the oil get hot and dip the toast into the mixture.
-Fry the toast until golden brown on both sides.
-Put them all on top of each other and top with the fresh fruit and maple syrup.
*Also nice with butter and brown sugar! 

Do you love French Toast and did you know it’s this easy to veganise it? When you make the recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram, so I can give you a shoutout! You can also use #planetmanel if you like. Thank you! X

Shape It

It’s almost Easter! When I still lived in the Netherlands or whenever I’m visiting the Netherlands at Easter now, I always make an Easter brunch. I used to always make egg/pastry bites, but obviously egg is off the table now. That doesn’t mean I can’t make something similar of course. So that is why I came up with this recipe. I made a filling with tofu and chickpea flour and used a slice of bread as a base. I kept the shapes I cut out to decorate the plates and table (I also put them in the oven, so they get toasted). They will be nice to dip in jam or chocolate.. These slices of toast are delicious with some smashed avocado and mayonnaise. They will look great on an Easter brunch table. Are you going to do a brunch this Easter?

SHAPE IT

Makes: 6-8

6-8 slices of bread
1/3 cup PB milk
150 gr silken tofu
1/2 cup chickpea flour
2-3 tbs nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp garlic granules
1/4 tsp onion granules
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
pepper (to taste)

Easter cookie cutters

-Preheat the oven at 180C.
-Put all the ingredients, apart from the bread, in a kitchen machine and blend until smooth.
-Use a cookie cutter to cut out a shape from each slice of bread.
-Put the slices of bread on a baking tray that is covered with baking paper.
-Carefully put the mixture in the shape you cut out.
-Put them in the oven for about 12-15 min, until the filling is nice and firm.
-Eat when still warm.

Are you going to make these? What shapes will you use? Please show me your creations on Instagram by tagging me or by using #planetmanel. Thank you so much and have a lovely Easter! X

Spring ‘n’ Roll

YES!! Finally it’s spring. I’m already looking forward to this day since Autumn. Haha! If it was up to me, we skip winter all together. I’m just not made for the cold. On the other hand.. the feeling of the first sun rays will only make me feel extra euphoric after the horrible cold. So let’s try to see the positive though. Luckily we only had snow once and I thought that most of the time the winter was doable this year. Still.. I can’t wait to chase the sun forever with my van! To celebrate the start of spring I created a super colourful recipe. It’s a simple recipe, but it does require some technique and some patience and gentleness. The more often you do it, the better they look! And don’t you feel happy just looking at these? You can use different dips or you can simply dip them in some soy sauce. I chose to mix up a simple peanut sauce, because I love peanut butter with a hint of spiciness. I hope you will enjoy them, because I personally thought they were yum!

SPRING ‘N’ ROLL

Makes: 6-8

spring rolls
6-8 spring roll rice pancakes
3 hands full vermicelli rice noodles
1 beetroot (chopped)
1/3 red bell pepper (sliced finely)
1/3 yellow bell pepper (sliced finely)
handful red cabbage (sliced finely)
2 spring onions ((sliced finely)
1 stalk celery (sliced finely)
1/2 avocado (sliced finely)
2 tbs edamame beans
6-12 eatable flowers (optional) 

sauce
2 tbs peanut butter
2 tbs oat milk
1/4 tsp chilli flakes

Blender
Fine colander
Clean tea towel

-Boil water and put that in the blender together with the beetroot. Blend for about 1 minute.
-Put the noodles in a pan and pour the beetroot water over the noodles through a fine colander. Put a lid on the pan and leave this for 5-8 min.
-In the meantime slice all the vegetables very finely and make the sauce:
-Put all the ingredients of the sauce in a bowl and mix until all ingredients are nicely blended.
-Put the rice paper in a bowl (I actually used a frying pan) of warm water for about 5-10 seconds.
-Very gently, put the rice paper on a clean tea towel.
-Put the flowers upside down on the rice paper and divide some veggies on top of that.
-Divide some of the pink rice noodles on top of the veggies and then fold and roll.
-Repeat this until finished.

Have you ever tried making something like this? Give it a try! Please show me your creations on Instagram by tagging me or by using #planetmanel. Thank you! X

Packaging Free Shopping in London

A while ago I was in London again for a few days. Even though I live fairly close to London, I’m there a lot less than I expected to be. I’ve had a great time being in my beloved city and I went back home with lots of inspiration. I stayed with my employer’s family, around Battersea, which is  a lovely area. The 2 most important things on my planning were, to visit Unity Diner (which I did, but will write a separate article about) and to visit the Whole Foods Market. I always go to the Whole Foods Market when I’m in London, because that is the shop I miss the most. They offer quite a range of products which you can buy in bulk and package free and that is exactly what I wanted to do. They have dried fruits, different types of rice, beans, seeds, nuts, oats, herbs and spices etc. I had a real purpose this time and I planned to do this on the last day, just before I’d go home.

On Saturday Portobello Road was on my to do list. This is my favourite part of London. Notting Hill is so pretty and there is so much life, inspiration and lovely things on Portobello Road. Especially on Saturday. It’s busy though, because on the weekend most of the people are tourist. I love all the market stalls, where I used to get lots of my fruit and veggies. It’s something else I miss. Where I live in the county side, weird enough, is no good farmers market, but in London there are so many. I wish I could carry it all home. I love to see new cafe’s, shops and (vegan) options everywhere and ever time I come to this lovely street, there are some. This time, the one that made me the happiest (apart from the vegan donuts) was a little shop called: Liberté Chérie.

Liberté Chérie is a zero waste, plastic and packaging free, shop! I obviously needed to go inside. There was only one other person inside and when she left, I had a lovely chat with the owner. A very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and friendly Frenchman. He told me that they just opened this morning (how lucky was I?!) and that most of the products he sold were grown in England. A few were from France and elsewhere though: things that can’t grow in England or are not available (like almonds or certain peas for example). Also some of the herbs and spices came from countries like India or Turkey, but his aim was to have as much as possible from England. Even though it was a tiny shop, they sell quite a lot of different things. Of course there are the beans, rice, oats and seeds etc, but also oils, different types of vinegar and even soap nuts. Next to the pantry products, there is a small range of waste free/plastic free products like water bottles and lunch boxes etc. you can buy. It is a lovely shop, set up with a lot of passion. There was such a lovely atmosphere and I felt like I never wanted to leave again. Haha! I could have stayed there, staring at all these lovely products, listening to the stories of inspiration behind it all. I had more things to do though, so we exchanged Instagram profiles and I said my goodbyes. Unfortunately it was only midday and I didn’t want to walk around with lots of (heavy) things for the rest of the day and so I decided not to buy anything. Next time when I’m in London with my van, I’ll definitely get some lovely things here. Did I mention that the prices were quite compatible as well? Whenever you are around there or you live nearby, please visit this lovely shop.

It was such a coincidence, because on that same morning, when I walked towards the bus stop, I had to wait at a traffic light and when I looked up I couldn’t be any happier. Right in front of me, on the other side of the road, was a zero waste/plastic free shop! It was called ‘The Source’, what I think is a perfect name for a shop like that. It was closed though and I was on my way to visit the girls I looked after before. So I couldn’t wait for it to open (even though it was gonna open in 5 min). I promised myself to come back the next day. Now you understand that it was an extra nice treat for me to discover ‘Liberté Chérie’ a few hours later. Anyway, the next morning, I had to take the same bus from that same bus stop and so it was a perfect, cuz I was able to quickly pop in. I was so excited, that I was a little early and Nola (my dog) and I had to wait a little bit. When it opened we went straight in and it was heaven!! There was soooo much! It is quite a big shop and there are so many containers with so many different things. I didn’t know where to look and what to do first. The owner told me that they normally don’t allow dogs inside, but luckily Nola is very small and I carried her whilst we had a little chat. They also have a shop in Chiswick and so, from what I know of, there are 4 options in London to shop zero waste and plastic free. That is amazing! It makes me so happy that shops like this exist and can exist. He told me that it was going well and it was busy.. YES! I asked if I could take some pictures and that was fine. It’s a good thing that I was early, so I was able to take some nice pics, without having to wait for people to finish. Haha! They sell so many things.. too many to write down. One of the nicest things, was that they did freeze-dried veggies. I really wanted to buy things and I even brought my zero waste bags with me, but I was carrying too many things (3 bags and Nola) already. I still had the whole day in front of me and so I couldn’t. I should have brought my backpack, silly me! Later I did regret not getting a little bit of those freeze-dried veggies though, cuz they would have been light and easy to carry around. So next time, I’ll definitely get those. So for those of you who live in or around Battersea, please go and visit ‘The Source’ (and tell me how good those freeze-dried veggies are!).

Please, when you live in London, try to make trips to shops like this. These are the shops we want to support. This is the future. This is the way to no more plastic, a lot less waste and lovely wholesome and healthy food. Even when you don’t live very close to one, just go once in a while and buy in bulk. It will save you money too. Try to think of a way to go and help to make these shops work!

The Whole Foods Market: 63-97 Kensington High Street, W8 5SE.
Liberté Chérie: 291 Portobello Road, W10 5TD.
The Source Battersea: 99 St John’s Rd, SW11 1QY.
The Source Chiswick: 24 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, W4 1QP.

Do you already shop at shops like this? Are there any shops near you where you can shop waste free and without plastic? Or do you live in London and are you shopping at one of these amazing shops? I’d love to hear about it! You can do this in the comments below or via Instagram. Thank you! X

Happy 3rd Anniversary!! + Cookie Dreams

I can’t believe it, Planet Manel is celebrating her 3rd anniversary! When I started 3 years ago I was feeling so motivated, because I finally found something where I could combine all my interests. I love creating.. I always did. As a child I was always drawing, making mood boards, writing short stories, designing.. With this many interests it’s sometimes hard to choose something. As I also really like animals, I studied ‘Animal Care’. After that I also did ‘Interior Design’. For both I have my diploma and for both things I’ve got a huge passion. Hence why I’m vegan, live in a van and design tiny houses for a hobby. My head is always full of ideas. Anyway.. before we get off the subject, I’m super proud that I kept blogging for the last 3 years. Some months I posted a lot and some months a little less, but I always kept going. I want to tank all my readers and people who followed my journey and parts of my life. Also all the people who made my recipes and a huge thank you for all the sweet messages. I couldn’t have done it without all of you. You are the best!

At the moment I can feel that I’m more focused and that the overall quality is improved. This motivates me even more, because it’s nice to see growth. Blogging is something I could only dream about. I tried it when I was a teenager, but without a real goal, I always gave up after a while. But this time the dream is bigger! I want to inspire you, make you feel happy, show you how easy it is to eat plant-based, to live with compassion and to just make the world a little better, starting with YOURSELF! Even when it’s only a little bit and it’s only changing 1 animal’s life at a time or when it’s your life.. to make you smile, to make you feel good and to let you taste yummy recipes. Talking about recipes. For the occasion I created these delicious vanilla, chocolate chip, cookies. To create the ultimate recipe I seriously baked 50+ biscuits. I had something in my head and I didn’t give up until I found the golden combination. I was so happy when I finally succeeded and I’m excited to share them with you! I called them ‘Cookie Dreams’, because they are a celebrations of dreams coming true.

COOKIE DREAMS

Makes: 6

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs corn starch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 tbs plant-based  butter
3 tbs plant-based milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
20 gr dark chocolate (chopped)

-Preheat the oven at 200C.
-Mix all the dry ingredients (except the chocolate) together in a mixing bowl.
-Add the oil, butter, milk and the vanilla extract and mix well, until you have a nice sticky dough.
-Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces and flatten them (until they’re about 1/2-1 cm) on the (with baking paper covered) tray. Leave 3-4 cm between each biscuit, because they will go a little bigger.
-Divide the chocolate on top and slightly push them into the dough.
-Put them in the oven for about 12 min.
-Let them all cool down before getting them off the tray.

Make you dreams come true beautiful people! Oh and please let me know what you think of the Cookie Dreams. I’d love to see your creations.. you can do this on Instagram, by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Dark Moon (vegan) Chocolate

Last year I was delighted to see that there would be a vegan market in Newbury. As this is the closest town for me and there are hardly any vegan things around, I of course went to check it out. It was fairly small, but I was happy to see some familiar faces. I got a hotdog and a yummy brownie and when I made another round I saw something that attracted me like magnet. Big balls of chocolate covered in nuts! I’ve never seen anything like this before and so I had a little chat with the owner to get to know the product. Even though I just bought a brownie, I couldn’t resist getting one of these (in my eyes) magic balls too. I’m so happy I did, because they are amazing!! Since then I ordered them for Xmas and my birthday, in different flavours. I can’t keep them from you and I would love you to try them and so I thought it was time to tell you about this lovely inspiring brand: Dark Moon Chocolate!

First of all I’d like to introduce you to the owner: Dan (35), who was born in Bristol, now lives in a lovely market town Frome, which has a bustling independent trader scene. He used to work as a Food Production Manager at a Farm shop. This seems a bit strange for a vegan, but he wasn’t vegan when he started working there. One day whilst he was stroking some of the cows in the barn (he always used to go and feed them with all the veg scraps from the kitchen) it made him think. He thought ‘I’d always been an animal lover and yet I was eating these beautiful creatures that deserved better’. From that moment he stopped eating animals. He’d always worked in the food industry which he fell into by pure accident and it just turns out that he really loved it. I’m happy he does, because what he does now, makes everyone happy. Time to ask him some questions!

What made you decide to start your own business and why chocolate?
I started it out of necessity, after having to leave my full-time employment because of health problems. I’ve suffered with arthritis and mechanical issues in my legs since I was 19 and had a bad flare-up in my ankle last summer. I had to leave, as it was predominantly an on your feet job. I chose chocolate because I’ve always enjoyed making chocolates and it’s always been my favourite sweet food. I can also sit down when making them, which helps me manage my bad ankle. It seems funny that about 6 months before starting Dark Moon, I made a passing comment to one of my staff members, that I’d love to just make chocolates. Strange how things turn out! I’m now fully self-employed, doing three separate part-time endeavours, the chocolate is the one that really keeps me going though. I’m also an artist and craftsman.

How did you come up with the name ‘Dark Moon Vegan’?
My star product is a sweet chocolate ‘scotch egg’. The non vegan version is a Cadburys Creme egg, wrapped in brownie. I just had to make it vegan. I make all the centres myself, so I can make loads of fabulous flavours. I wanted a name that referred to the chocolate in some way. I use dark chocolate and they also look a bit like a moon, so it kind of just made sense. When I searched for the name ‘Dark Moon Chocolate’ on instagram, someone else had already coined it, although the account looked old and was based in America. Just to be on the safe side, I chose ‘Dark Moon Vegan’. I trade under the banner of ‘Dark Moon Chocolate’ at markets though. It also means that I can have a really cool logo of a dark full moon!

How did you get yourself out there?
Despite all the hype around social media marketing and online presence, for me the best way to get myself out there was to actually physically do it. Meet my customers and spend time in the real world. It felt a bit like jumping into the unknown at first, booking markets and not knowing if I was going to sell much. I was actually astonished at how well the chocolates did. Off the back of that, my online sales are also really starting to grow.

What are the ingredients you like to use and where do you get them from?
My go to chocolate is a bitter sweet dark Belgian chocolate, it’s 54% and it’s really well balanced. Most people who aren’t fans of strong dark chocolate, usually like this one when they’ve given it a try. The company also re-invests directly back into the cocoa farmers to create a more sustainable approach to cocoa farming. I use a fair trade sugar and coconut oil, that my partner gets from her health store. I use a gluten-free buckwheat flour from a company located in the south-west. All my packaging is recyclable and I don’t use single use plastics. I have now ran out of the parcel tape I was using for online orders and will be using an eco-friendly paper tape for my online orders.

Where can people order your chocolate?
I currently do orders through social media and email, I’ll be developing a website to make things a little easier very soon. My email is darkmoon.frome@gmail.com and my Instagram and Facebook is @darkmoonvegan.

Which chocolate is your personal favourite?
My favourite dark moon at the moment has to be ‘The Monkey’s Knickers’ (I ordered 2 of these the last time and they are my favourite too, they are AMAZING!). It’s a salted caramel centre wrapped in a peanut butter brownie then coated on more chocolate and roasted peanuts. It’s inspired by a very well known chocolate bar – the clue is in the weird name! 

What are your plans for the future when it comes to ‘Dark Moon Vegan’?
I’m really just looking to keep things small scale, I’m happy doing markets and fairs and selling online. To keep things interesting there will always be new flavours to try and occasional one off products.

Is there anything else you like people to know?
I have a chocolate problem. (I’m happy he does!! Haha..)

Will there be a special for Easter by any chance?
Of course, I’m in the process of doing a regular monthly subscription box, which will contain new flavours and products. For Easter I am making Vegan Creme Eggs, Caramel Eggs and Chocolate Orange Eggs. There will also be little mini creme eggs, keep your eyes open as these kind of items will be limited edition!

Now, are you excited yet? An amazing chocolate brand, with ridiculous flavours, you can order online, without any plastic packaging! It won’t get any better than this!

Dark Moon Vegan chocolate is my favourite for sure (esp ‘The Monkey’s Knickers’ ..just Wohw!) and I hope you’ll find out for yourself soon. They also make a lovely gift btw! I’d love to hear what you think of these chocolates if you decide to try them. Please let me know in the comments below or on Instagram! Thank you! X