Italy – Rome

I actually wanted to post this travel article last Monday, but I didn’t plan my things too well and my mum came over, so that’s why it’s a week later.. sorry! I planned to go to Rome this year and so I booked a ticket for the end of May. Steven wanted to come with me, what was extra fun. It was our first real holiday together, even though it was only for 3 nights. Steven chose a lovely hotel, right next to Vatican City, what turned out to be a super location. We also got the Omnia Card. This is a card you can use for public transport, the tour bus, 2 tourist activities and Vatican City, all for one price. We got the 72 hour card for £113. The good thing about it is that you don’t have to get transport tickets everywhere and you can skip the (very long) queues. Especially when it’s 30C, you want this! I thought it was very handy and it worked well, until we used it for Vatican City though. This was because it’s the only thing you have to book in advance, but it was very unclear how to do it and it didn’t work. Luckily we did get in, but very last minute. More about this later.

We had to get up very early the Wednesday we left. We had a quick breakfast (thank you PRET and Starbucks!) at the airport before we headed to our gate. The journey went well and before we knew it, we were in Rome. We took one of the many coaches standing in front of the airport (€4,90). With the Omnia card you can probably take the public transport from there too, but we thought before we find out where the buses depart etc. this was just easier. It doesn’t take more than 45 min before you’re in the middle of Rome. The coaches drop you off at the Termini train station. Perfect! It was lunch time when we got out and I did a little research, so I knew that there was a vegan place not far from there. We walked there and though the place, called iPhame, looked lovely, it’s very small and we couldn’t sit there. So we went somewhere else. On our way there we did see another restaurant we liked because of the floor and bar. They actually didn’t do any vegan meals, but they were very helpful and totally ok with me telling them what I wanted. I ordered a pasta with veggies and it was super delicious! We then took the tour bus, very close from there, to see most of the tour. We got out at Vatican City, because from there it was only a 10 min walk to our hotel. We stayed at the ‘Infinity Hotel St. Peter’, what is a lovely hotel. It was clean, neat and the bed was very comfy. As we woke up so early and it was already the end of the afternoon, we took a refreshing shower and relaxed a bit. In the beginning of the evening we took a little walk to explore Rome whilst there was a lovely summer eve breeze. On our way back we stopped at a pizzeria and I ordered a pizza with mushrooms and olives. Our expectations were high, being in Italy. The pizza was quite disappointing though. It looked nice, but it actually had no taste at all. It made us laugh as it seemed quite ironic, eating a pizza without taste in the middle of Rome. On our way back to the hotel we enjoyed the views of Rome by night. Beautiful really!

The next day, Thursday, we had breakfast at the hotel before we walked all the way to the Colosseum. The breakfast was quite ok for a vegan by the way. There were some fruit options, cherry tomatoes, different types of bread, jam, juice and also muesli and cereals. I did email them a few weeks in advance to ask about this, but they never replied. A shame, but I was happy to see that at least there were some options. The walk to the Colosseum was already an activity on its own, because wohw.. Rome is a beautiful city! We passed the Altare della Patria and many beautiful little streets, but to stand in the Colosseum was truly amazing. Something so historic and it’s just almost surreal to be inside. Imagining the things that happened there many years ago.. it made me feel absolutely amazed. When we came out it was lunchtime and though we did go to a place where they serve a vegan breakfast with croissants (and I really wanted one!), they were sold out. What is a good thing I guess, but a shame I didn’t get to try them. So we kept walking until we found something else, but it was a little tricky. We eventually sat down at a place that looked nice, but they also didn’t do vegan food. They were happy to serve the side dishes though. So I had potatoes and some roasted veggies. The veggies were nice and though the potatoes tasted ok, the structure felt like they were heated in the microwave. What was much better.. the gelato we had for dessert at a place around the corner from there. I had coconut (with little pieces of coconut in it) and chocolate. Gosh that was very yummy! A lot of gelato places (and you see them everywhere) do vegan options. Just ask! It was very hot, like 30C, but we did walk to the Roman Forum anyway. It was something we definitely wanted to see and the Colosseum and the Roman Forum together, counts as one on the Omnia card. It was a beautiful place and I’m very happy to have seen it. It’s hard and at the same time so amazing to believe that people actually lived there. They walked on the very same ground you’re walking on. Though in ruins, the temples there were actually used. I just love things like this. When we came out, it was the end of the afternoon already. We were so hot and we really felt our feet, so we walked back to the hotel to freshen up and relax a bit. On our way we popped into a supermarket and I was so happy to see so many vegan options! There was so much.. a lot of choices in seitan for example. In just an ordinary supermarket. I wish my Tesco across the road would do that too, haha! Steven and I chose some things to take home. (In the meantime we already tried the seitan in some wraps and it’s delicious. Only the seitan with rosemary was quite intense. Nice, but just very strong.) I also really liked the pasta with spirulina and so we took that too. We didn’t try that yet though. We walked all the way back to the hotel. On my phone I could see we took more than 21.000 steps (14 km) and so we really deserved a good break. Close to the was a place called Flower Burger and we walked there to get a take away later that evening. And YAY! This is a place you have to go to. First of all the place is 100% vegan, the place itself looks amazing (great texts on the walls) and they do the most amazing burgers. All handmade right there and they are delicious!

On Friday we planned to go to Vatican City, but we weren’t able to book it online. We tried it several times via the website and the app (which appeared to be non-existent). So we went to the Vatican and asked there. Turned out we needed to use the email we got in the whole beginning for this. What isn’t mentioned anywhere in the guide. Really unclear. Luckily there was still space for us the next day, but we had to go with a guide though. We both are not a fan of this, but it was the only way. And as it was something we both really wanted to do, we accepted. So we had to change the plan for today. We decided to go to the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps. We took the bus for the first bit and got out only a 5 min walk from the Pantheon. From there it’s only a short walk to the Trevi Fountain. I really liked seeing this. It’s also something you see in so many movies (including my favourite Eat Pray Love) etc. We took some pictures and of course we threw in a coin. We did it together.. how romantic! After the Spanish steps we decided it was time for lunch. The vegan places I looked up in advance turned out to be quite far from where we were, so we tried to look for something what looked nice. It was still quite early for lunch, but then Steven found a place with a vegetarian all you can eat buffet. Apart from 2 things, everything was vegan and I really loved the food. Very fresh and full of taste. It’s a cold buffet, so if you prefer a hot meal, you better skip this. We still had an activity to choose from our Omnia card, so in the afternoon we went to see Castel Sant’Angelo. But first.. some more gelato! We took the bus to Vatican City (Castel Sant’Angelo is next to that) and we had to go into a few shops before we found one who sold vegan gelato. This one did have so much choice though, so I had dark chocolate (obviously), banana, passion fruit and raspberry. We ate it on a wall in front of Castel Sant’Angelo, before we got in. It was nice to see the inside, but the best part was definitely to be on top of it. Not only a beautiful view from there, but also the first shot of the first Rome-scene of the movie Eat Pray Love, is filmed from Castle Sant’Angelo. I loved it!! Very hot though, but fantastic! We decided to go back to the hotel, to freshen up after we came down. Later that evening we took a stroll, trying to look for a better pizza. We found a place where the pizza looked good, so we sat down. The staff was very very unfriendly and unwelcoming. It kind of annoyed me, but we were too stubborn and determined to try a good pizza in Italy. The pizza was very nice luckily. The only thing was that they didn’t do sauce at this restaurant. Apparently the cheese was also the sauce and as I order without cheese, I got a pizza base with veggies. It was very yummy, so no complains about the food. It was just strange.

Our last day and it was Vatican City day. The day before, I bought little pack of Soy milk in the supermarket, so I was able to try the cereal and muesli at breakfast. I also suggest they put a plant based milk option next time. I hope they will. The whole guided tour started off a little odd. We had to walk around half the Vatican, before we entered and with a group of about 20 people and 813938134 tourists everywhere, it’s not the handiest thing and it takes a lot of time. Luckily we had a lovely guide and it was very nice to listen to all the things she knew about the Vatican. Being inside was ah-mazing!! I loved it, everything! So much art and all so detailed, it was fantastic really! Especially going into the Sistine Chapel and to see the famous work of Michelangelo was so amazing, that I have no words for it. Unfortunately I had a lot of pain in my neck this day and so going this day to admire Michelangelo’s work wasn’t the best combination (al lot is on the ceiling). I’m still very happy to have seen in though! Something super 
ironic and hilarious.. you were not allowed to talk in the Sistine Chapel (what is hard to begin with for me), but that every minute a man told everybody in 2 languages to be quiet.. very loud through a microphone, haha! And then, to finish our Rome adventure we went inside the St.Peter Basilica and wohw! I’ve never seen such a beautiful and such a big church in my life. It was breathtaking! We saw the Pietà and we walked around jaw dropping. We were both so happy, that in the end, we did get to see this all, even though the Omnia Card almost ruined it. We did have to keep an eye on the time for our flight that afternoon, so a few last pictures from the outside, before we went back to the hotel to get our bags. Not before we had another (pink) burger at Flower Burger for lunch though! Our flight was a little delayed, but it was alright, we just relaxed and before we knew it we were back in our beloved London!

You probably realised, after reading all this, Rome is a must go city! Rome is basically one big museum. Everything is beautiful and you keep walking around with your head turning from left to right and up and down (no wonder my neck was hurting the last day). You really feel like you don’t have enough eyes to soak it all in. I really loved seeing the Colosseum and the Vatican City, but I think what I loved the most is the little streets. There are so many beautiful little streets, with little balconies, flowers, amazing colours on the walls, old doors, going up and down, scooters lined up and even some great street art. I could walk these little streets forever. Also Rome is, surprisingly, very good with veganism. There are many vegan places and otherwise they are happy to make you something vegan. (Just make sure they have a fully understanding of what veganism is.) Most of the people we met were very helpful! Another handy thing in Rome is, that there are drinking fountains all over the city, where you can have a few sips or fill up your bottle. Perfect for when it’s hot and you have to make sure you stay extra hydrated. The thing I really didn’t like about Rome were all the people who try to sell you things, like selfie sticks, batteries, bracelets, water.. they are everywhere and even though you say no, they keep putting it (literally) in your face. It was a very aggressive way of selling and they’re everywhere you go. Try to ignore them though and keep looking around you!

HOTSPOTS:
iPhame – Via Agostino Depretis, 64, 00184.
Infinity Hotel St. Peter – Via Catone, 34, 00192.
Bar La Licata – Via dei Serpenti, 165, 00184.
Nest – Via del Leone, 23, 00183.
Flower Burger – Via dei Gracchi, 87, 00192. (!!)

TOURISTY:
Altare della Patria
Colosseum
Roman Forum
The Phanteon
Trevi Fountain
Spanish Steps
Castel Sant’Angelo
Vatican City (St.Peters Basilica + Sistine Chapel)

Have you been to Rome yet? Did you know about these cool hotspots or do you have any other recommendations? Are you really excited to go now? I would love to hear about your trip and experiences! You can leave a comment below or you can show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Southbank Food Market

img_8357Today I will give you 8 hotspots in 1 article! And they’re all in the same place.. how is that?! On Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and on bank holiday Mondays there is a food market with lots of nice street food, behind the Southbank Centre. I’ve known it was there since very long, but I never really took the time to take a look. I was most of the time on my way to something else. From or to Waterloo station. This time I also didn’t plan to take a look, but I happened to walk passed it when I was looking for the Benugo cafe. I couldn’t help myself this time and went for a quick look. That quick look became a very long look though. As there were so many vegan options! At least 10 stalls have vegan food. I picked 8 stalls to tell you about. I just had my lunch, so unfortunately I couldn’t eat anything, but I did have a drink! Here we go..

1. ELEPHANT JUICE
Super fresh juices! And you have a lot of nice choices for a very good price. If I didn’t have lunch just before I would have gotten a nice juice here for sure. A Berry or Passion juice would have definitely taste amazing. Next time!

2. LULIN TEA
This is the place where I had a drink. I saw the words ‘Chai’ and ‘Latte’ and I decided instantly. They have lovely ethically, hand-picked and blended tea. They do a lovely vegan chai with soy milk. It was delicious! Only downside was, that they use sugar for that.

3. BREAD TREE
A market stall with big letters that write ‘Bruschetta’ is something I had to check out of course. They do yummy looking bruschetta and they have lots of vegan options. You can basically mix and match yourself!

4. CHALÉ
Ghanaian food with a very tasty looking vegan option. With kale, pumpkin, coconut and fried plantains. It’s not something you can just get everywhere. I would have loved to try this. A lot of people did, it was very busy at this stall.

5. ETHIOPIQUES
Ok. When I saw this I really regret I had my lunch already. This looked aH-mazing! Ethiopian food with so much colour and different dishes, everything 100% vegan! I know that Ethiopian food is really good. I’m definitely going to come back for this!

6. CHOCO FRUIT
In the end I came to this. Chocolate covered fruit. Oh yes! They have 3 sorts of chocolate, but only the dark one is vegan. I would have picked the dark one anyway. They let me taste it with a strawberry. Heaven! They don’t only have that, they also have cakes which are vegan.

7.LEVANTINE
When I was already on my way back I passed this falafel place, with a vegan option. The food looked really nice and fresh. Lebanese-style falafel with lots of veggies and stone baked flatbread. I love myself some falafel, so I keep this in mind.

8. HORN OK PLEASE
Opposite the falafel place I saw this Indian vegetarian food stall. And yes, with a vegan option for dal and samosa’s. I love Indian food, so this is another very good option for the next time.

I’m so happy to see so many vegan options everywhere. I guess I have to make a few more trips to Southbank! The street food market is only there in the weekends, almost all day.

OPENING TIMES:
Friday- 12:00 – 20:00*
Saturday- 11:00 – 20:00*
Sunday- 12:00 – 18:00
Monday (bank holidays only)- 12:00 – 18:00
*In the summer open until 21:00.

Are you excited after reading about all these vegan options? What would you have picked? Please let me know by leaving a comment below. You can also show me by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thanks you! X

Linseed / Chocolate

LINSEED
Whenever I buy linseed, which is whenever I run out, I buy the brown linseed from Biona at the Whole Foods Market. I love this brand and it has good prices for good quality. I use linseed every day. I always put 1/2-1 tbsp in my green smoothie. I also use it as a topping for my smoothie bowls, yogurt or in my salad. Linseed are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and fibre, but they are also high in antioxidants. Perfect to start your day with this. Starting your day with a tbs of linseed is especially helpful when you’re a constipated. That also means that you have to make sure you don’t use too much, as it can work lactating.

CHOCOLATE
It’s quite tricky to get Tony’s Chocolonely here in the UK. There are a few rare shops that sell it, but it’s definitely not like it is in Holland. There you can just get them everywhere, even in the normal supermarkets. I’m sure they will come to the UK. Tony’s Chocolonely is a great brand, as it’s 100% fair trade and slave free. There are manyyyyy flavours. They are  known for their flavour combinations as they are not as any regular chocolate flavours. A lot of them are vegan, but unfortunately not all of them. My favourite is this one, the salted almond. It’s heavenly! I also really like the coconut-pecan, but lately I’m always buying only this one. It’s so good with a nice cup of tea. I always make sure I buy a few bars before flying back to London, in case I wasn’t given any. As a lot of people tend to get me this.. I really don’t mind! Haha!

Did you already know these products or are you going to try them after reading this? Please let me know or show me on Instagram by using #PlanetManel. Would you like me to test and review your product(s) or do you have any suggestions? Please send me a message via CONTACT! It can be anything (food, drinks, beauty..) as long as it’s vegan. Thank you! X

Benugo

img_7975When I used to live in Shepherds Bush, I went to Westfield quite a lot.. Quit often.. or let’s say, all the time! A lot of times I went to this lovely cafe, called ‘Benugo’. They served really nice food, but mostly I got this really nice green tea they have. Most of the time I went here alone, but I often met a friend there or I took my laptop with me to write the book I was writing at that moment. It was quite a big cafe and it was perfect for me. Everybody I knew liked this cafe, but sadly, one day, they closed down and it was replaced by.. Five Guys! Like.. how? This is one of the most horrific replacements ever in my opinion. Benugo has cafe’s, but some of them also have a kitchen. When I was in Southbank, I went to Waterloo Station and visited a Benugo cafe, to see what vegan options they have these days.

img_7976I looked at all the food, checking for vegan food. There wasn’t a lot of food in general, but there was a vegan falafel salad. When I asked one of the staff members, he said it just came in that day. What means, before that, they probably didn’t have vegan options. I’m glad that they decided to add this to the cafe-menu. It looked nice, but I thought it was quite expensive though. It was a small bowl, but for eating in, you had to pay almost £7! I asked if the hot chocolate was vegan and they checked for me. It was, f made with soy milk. The pack even had the vegan label on it. It had been a long time since I ordered hot chocolate.. years really! I also grabbed a little chocolate and so, all together, it was all very chocolaty afternoon snack. The hot chocolate was super nice and the little chocolate.. gosh! It was 53% cacao and it had salted almonds in it. You have to try this!

img_7977The Benugo in Waterloo Station is a bit different as it’s in front of the shops and not in a proper building. It’s a nice one though. It’s very vintage, with the stone bar, the reading lights and the wooden chairs. I said at the bar, overlooking the station, with the huge station clock in front of me. It was a nice spot. Though, because it’s not in a proper building, it’s quite cold. A lot of Benugo cafe’s/kitchens are inside a public place. Like this one, inside the station, but they’re also inside museums or even in some John Lewis warehouses  for example. I wish there were more Benugo cafe’s on it’ own though. They’re perfect cafes to take your laptop with you, to do some work and I wouldn’t go to the museum that fast to work there. A very good thing about Benugo is that they try their best to be sustainable. You’d think they’d be all vegan then, but that isn’t the case, unfortunately. Soon I will check out a Benugo kitchen and check their vegan option as I’m really curious now.

WHO? Benugo.
WHERE? Waterloo Station, 19/20 The Balcony, SE1 7LY.
CUISINE? Cafe.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 7 (delicious (hot) chocolate, but could have been more lunch options)

Do you know Benugo already? Or are you going to try it now? Please let me know! You can do this by leaving a comment below. You can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

 

Netherlands – Easter

Early early! My boyfriend, Steven, and I had to wake up at 3:00 in the night. Walk to the bus stop and get to LiverpoolStreet. From there we took an Uber as the trains didn’t go as normal. So annoying, but apart from that it’s a lot more expensive, it’s easy though. Or it should be easy.. because the driver almost wanted to drop us off at Stansted. Steven noticed it just in time and so we were able to turn around. We did make it in time and didn’t have to wait long at the airport itself. The flight went well and within an hour we were in Amsterdam. We started with a Starbucks on Schiphol and then took the train to Amsterdam Central. I made a whole planning (always prepared) and so we started as planned, at Dam Square. From there we took a right to the Singel and crossed at the Blauwburgwal bridge. There in the corner is vegan shop called: Vega Life. They sell all vegan things here. For a good pair of vegan shoes, belts, shirts and much more, this is where you want to go. It’s not big, but they have a lot of choice. It was nice to have a quick look. From there we walked to the Prinsengracht, crossing the Herengracht and the Keizergracht. I wanted to have lunch at Bolhoed, a quite known vegetarian/vegan place. It was still a little early though, so we decided to walk around in the Jordaan (an area in Amsterdam) for a little while. We saw a lovely bakery and Steven wanted to go in for a coffee. But when he saw the delicious bread with jam a lady next to us was eating, he wanted that too. It was called the children’s sandwich, but who cares. He loved it! I had a fresh mint tea and after that we made our way to Bolhoed. The first thing I saw when coming in was a very big Main Coon! He looked so fake the way he was lying down, but after a while he moved, haha! Bolhoed is very vintage. Very different from everything you know. It really reminded me of Berlin. Vintage, strange art, but very easy going. I ordered pitta bread, with salad and humous and Steven ordered the soup of the day. Their menu isn’t big, but almost everything is vegan. The food was nice, but I expected a lot more from it. It was fresh and filling though, so it was definitely getting me through the afternoon. We walked on the Prinsengracht, all the way to the Rijksmuseum. On the way we passed a very cool Japanese Antique shop, called ‘Van Hier Tot Tokio‘ (translated: From Here To Tokyo). Steven’s eyes started twinkling and we basically looked at everything in there. Very nice! The Rijksmuseum is amazing. The building form the outside is already very impressive, but the inside is amazing too! I always wanted to go here, but I never took the time. It was very nice to now share this experience with Steven. We saw so many beautiful paintings from such famous artists.. Van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer.. but most impressive, was the ‘Night Watch’ from Rembrandt. It was amazing to see this in real life. It’s absolutely beautiful and a little bigger than I expected. The whole museum is very impressive and definitely worth going! When we came out of the museum, we took a little break at Museumplein (Museum Square). This is the big square behind the museum. It’s beautiful, with lots of tulips, water and grass. There are some little coffee/food stands and Steven got a veggie burger. They even had a vegan burger, but the only thing was that it was sold out.. a shame, but also very positive! Haha! I wasn’t very hungry actually, just the fact that a random food stand has a vegan burger makes me want to try it. Try it for me in case you can get your hands on them and let me know if it was good. We walked towards the Vijzelgracht and Steven drunk a beer on the corner there. We had lovely seats, next to the canal, in the sunshine! Then we followed the Lijnbaangracht and de Reguliersgracht, until we reached Rembrandtplein. It started of quite chilly in the morning, but now it was lovely and sunny, with a bright blue sky. We walked back via the Kalverstraat (shopping street) and the Rokin, towards the red district. Every tourist goes here and as it’s Steven’s first time in Amsterdam, I had to take him. It was quiet on the Wallen, but it’s a good way to make our way back to the station. In the meantime it was already a little after 17:00 and after another Starbucks and getting some snacks at ‘AH to Go’, we got our suitcases (we left them in a locker at the station, so handy!) and our train tickets. Turned out that the train wasn’t going to Zwolle and so we had to change 3 times before we got out at Assen. It was 22:00 in the meantime, but my mum was waiting for us over there and it was sooo lovely to see her and to introduce her to Steven. I love my mum and on the way home, what is only 20 min, we already had so many laughs. At home Julian (my brother) and his girlfriend Marsha were there and it was so amazing to see them too! Also aways lovely to cuddle the cats Kenya and Dublin and Nynjo the dog. And so nice to all introduce them to Steven. My mum moved houses a while ago and this was also the first time I saw her new house. A lovely black, cozy, Swedish house. I love it!! We all kept chatting a little bit, but as Steven and I were already awake for almost 22 hours and had such a busy day, we were also happy for our heads to finally touch the pillow.

The next day I had to drop my mum off at work at 7:00, so Steven and I were able to use the car in the morning. I did crawl back into bed for a little bit after I came back though, but then we really had to get up and get the Easter groceries. We had to go to 5 different shops and Steven still regrets he came with me. I’m kind of a nightmare in supermarkets. I did make a list, but I do like to take my time. Reading ingredients and think about how much I need. I love it, but it turns out, Steven and I do not have that in common, haha! We went to my mum’s work to pick her up (For the people who don’t know: she works as a hostess at Rikus in Eext, a lovely hotel-restaurant. You can read about it in my other travel posts from the Netherlands if you like.) and she showed Steven around. At home I made Vivera burgers for everybody. They’re so yummy and there will be a huge review about this amazing brand soon. Stay tuned! If I had to believe my weather app it was going to rain the whole time, but this Saturday afternoon it was actually quite nice outside. Though the wind was a little cold, we (Julian, Marsha, Steven and I) decided to cycle to the lake anyway. It’s less than 10 min and it’s very beautiful over there, with lots of good memories. We skipped stones over the water and though Steven made it look very easy (he is so good at it), I managed to do it 3 times, but with a lot of effort, haha! It was very nice to be in the forest and we even saw lots of tadpoles in the lake, yay! Later that day I started baking. I had to make the whole Easter brunch by myself, for 9 people. Normally my sister and I make it together, but she wasn’t coming unfortunately. So I started with a chocolate chia pudding, the Hopping Bread, a vegetable bread and a frittata. It all went well, but I couldn’t make more, because we (my mum, Julian, Marsha, Steven) decided to go out for dinner. We went to Breed, a wok-buffet restaurant. My dad came too, what was so nice and we had a lovely evening all together. They have a lot of vegan options and it’s very tasty. After we came home I put the veggie bread in the oven and Steven helped me preparing the carrot cake.

I woke up at 8:00 to continue making the brunch. It was going to start at around 11:00, but I still had to bake the frittata, the croissants, the little breads and bake the pancakes. I also wanted to make scones, but as there was already so much and not that much time, I decided not to. Steven helped me and that was really nice, as it didn’t only go faster, but it was also nice to make it with him. My mum and dad arrived around 9:00, Julian invited a friend from school and my sister dropped off my nephew and niece, Jinan & Joella.. and when everybody finally arrived, we started eating all the goodies. Everybody luckily really liked it and everything turned out well. I was worried about the frittata, as I never made it before and I just did something, without having a recipe, but everybody actually really liked it. A shame I didn’t write down what I did. I have to make it again and make it into a recipe I  guess. After the brunch and after everything was tidy and clean again, my mum, Steven and I went to my dad’s place. He also just moved houses, so we had to see his place too of course. He lives in the middle of the forest (the forest where we had loads of family holidays) in a lovely sweet little house with a veranda. I loved it so much! We did have to get back in time, because we were a little tired and my mum, Steven and I planned to go to the cinema. So after some nice tea, we drove back, we all had a quick nap and then drove to Groningn, where the cinema is. This cinema is inside the football stadium. It’s avery nice cinema. We went to see ‘The Beauty & The Beast’. I already watched it 2 times, but I loveee this movie and I really wanted to watch it again (and again actually). Steven also already watched it (we went together, right after it came out), so he went for the second time. My mum never watched it and that was the reason why we went. It was so nice to watch it again. If you didn’t go yet, then book your tickets now, before it’s too late! It’s the best movie I’ve every watched in the cinema, in my life. It’s like going to a musical. As soon as it’s on iTunes, I’ll buy it. In the meantime I listen to the songs and the music all day long. I can tell you that Steven doesn’t really appreciate the ‘repeat’ button atm. Hehe..

Today we planned to go to the north. To see the house where I grew up, the dikes, the sea, my grandparents and my best friends. We left a little later than we wanted to, but there was still enough time. For me it’s already a treat to drive the car, as I don’t get to do that much in London anymore and I absolutely love driving. It was so nice to show Steven the place I grew up and all the memories I have around there. Though it was very cold and windy at the dikes (as always), we did take some lovely pictures. We then went to my friend Nienke and her daughter Annemarie. Always so nice to see them, especially because Annemarie grows so fast and she looks like a different girl every time I see her. They also
have a pig, doggies and a cat.. so lots of cuddling! We didn’t stay long, because we also wanted to go to my grandparents. We had a cup of tea there, but as they can’t speak English and our flight was going in a few hours, we had to head back after that. Still lovely to see my grandparents though and to introduce Steven. I know they really appreciated this. When we got home we quickly packed our suitcases and left to the airport. Everything went smooth, but it’s never nice to say goodbye to my mum. It was so short this time, only 3 nights. But we did have such an amazing time. Busy days, but all worth it!

HOTSPOT LIST:
Vega Life
– Singel 110, 1015 AE, Amsterdam.
Bolhoed – Prinsengracht 60-62, 1015 DX, Amsterdam.
Van Hier Tot Tokio – Prinsengracht 262-HS, 1016 HH, Amsterdam.
Rijksmuseum – Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam.
Museumplein (Museum Square) Amsterdam.
Kalverstraat (shopping) Amsterdam.
Rikus – Hoofdstraat 10, 9463 PC, Eext.
Breed – Nieuwe Streek 35, 9351 BZ, Leek.
Kinepolis Cinema – Boumaboulevard 53, 9723 ZS, Groningen.

Have you been to Amsterdam? Did you know about these cool hotspots (you can find more in my earlier travel post about Amsterdam) or are you really excited to go now? I would love to hear about your trip! ..and what did you do with Easter? Please tag me in your Easter creations! You can also comment below or you can show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Candy bar / VegiDeli pizza’s

img_7513CANDY BAR
Ok, if they were allowed, they probably would have name it Vegan Snicker, because that is what it is. Jokerz candy bars are exactly like Snickers. There is a difference though and that is, that it tastes even better than a real Snicker. I don’t think the package looks that appealing and attractive, but I’m happy I discovered them. It’s also nice to give it to non vegans, to show them that everything they van eat, we can eat vegan. Haha! My brother who is not vegan, really likes them too and I think everybody I gave them to, likes them. They say ‘nothing artificial’ and ‘no trans fats’, but that doesn’t make it healthy unfortunately. They’re definitely healthier than original Snickers. And you know.. once in a while, you can treat yourself, isn’t it?! I always buy them at Portobello Wholefoods, but I never seen them anywhere else. I’m sure you can order them online though, so get your hand on these!

img_2294VEGIDELI PIZZA’S
A thing I kind of miss, is frozen pizza’s you can put in the oven at home. All the frozen pizza’s in the supermarket have meat or cheese on them. It would make such a difference to have a good pizza for vegans. I’m sure a lot of vegans agree with me here. A while ago I saw some advertisement for the V Bites pizza’s at Ocado (online supermarket) and I was very excited to try them. I didn’t  know they existed, but I ordered them straight away. My first thought was that they’re small, haha! I expected normal size pizza’s, img_2325but these are half of it. I ordered the 3 flavours, I tried them all 3 and they’re ok. They’re not amazing, but the base gets crispy in the oven and the cheese melts quite nicely. I missed vegetables though and more taste. That taste that you feel like you could eat another one. Out of the 3, I liked the ‘Cheezly & Tomato’ the best and I think if you put some mushrooms on it yourself, they will be a lot tastier. It was a nice try, but I don’t think I’ll get them again soon. Later I discovered you can also get them at Holland&Barret btw. Try them if you think you’ll like them.

Did you already know these products or are you going to try them after reading this? Please let me know or show me on Instagram by using #PlanetManel. Would you like me to test and review your product(s) or do you have any suggestions? Please send me a message via CONTACT! It can be anything (food, drinks, beauty..) as long as it’s vegan. Thank you! X

Coco Choco

img_6348Easyyyy! Sooo delicious! That sums up this recipe. Something everybody needs in life, is hot chocolate. Just sometimes you have to treat yourself and enjoy every sip. This is how I make my delicious hot chocolate and I felt the need to share it with you, especially because it’s still quite cold outside. Tip: It tastes even better after a firm walk. Go out, to a park or just enjoy the London streets. When you get back, you make yourself this and it’s like adding another secret ingredients. Did I already mention that this goodness is guilt free? No refined sugar or other crap. So you can enjoy this to the fullest. I doubled the recipe, so you can share it with your lover or friend. Orrrr.. you can easily safe a portion in the fridge and warm it up the next day. Why not treat yourself 2 days in a row, right?

img_6347HOT CHOCOLATE

Servers: 2

-2 cup Almond milk
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-2 tbs cacao powder
-4 tbs palm sugar
-cinnamon

-Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend for 20 seconds.
-Heat in a sauce pan or if you’re the proud owner of a Vitamix, blend on HighSpeed until heated.
-Sprinkle some cinnamon on top.

Vegan hot chocolate, it’s something everybody needs! Simple as that. Please let me know when you’ve tried it. You can do this in a comment below.. or you can tag me or use #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Snack balls / Indian tofu

img_7262SNACK BALLS 
I think a lot of people know Deliciously Ella. She is a famous blogger who also owns a few deli’s: Mae Deli, with her husband. Apart from her deli’s she has also introduced these snack balls. There are 3 flavours: ‘cacao&almond’, ‘hazelnut&raisin’ and ‘cashew&ginger’. I only tried the first 2 as I’m not a big fan of ginger inside cakes. Though I should maybe try that one too, because the other 2 are very yummy! I especially like the ‘cacao&almond’ flavour. I think that is also the most popular one in general. I get that, they’re very good. One thing I really like about them, is that you can get them in Starbucks. Starbucks doesn’t have a lot of vegan snacks and now they have a tasty and healthy one. What also makes it very clever of them to sell them there. You actually see them everywhere now and they’re advertising for them a lot. So no excuses.. go try them!

img_2161INDIAN TOFU
You’re vegan, so you must eat only tofu. Well.. not only tofu, but I do eat tofu. I love tofu! One day when I was in Portobello Wholefoods (that can be a lot of days.. haha!) I was looking for a nice tofu. I always get the same one (smoked tofu), but when I saw the tofu from Clearspot, I thought let’s go for something else. The pack looks nice, doesn’t it? So I made a salad and wanted to fry the tofu for a bit, but it was quite wet and it became more like a scrambled tofu instead. I would have liked it a lot better if it was more firm. I also expected a lot more flavour actually. Maybe that is because of the picture in front of the img_2167pack. You expect some sort of rich curry sauce on it. I made a simple salad with it. I cut up some cucumber, cherry tomatoes, onions and a big hand full of lettuce. I also added some mayonnaise for the sauce I was missing. Normally I’m not even that much of a sauce-person. All together, the salad, the scrambled tofu and the bit of mayonnaise was really nice though. So I guess it’s tofu you really have to prepare in a dish (like in a curry) and it’s not that suitable to fry it with a salad. I do like that it’s organic and the overall basic flavour was good. So I like it, but I’m just not crazy about it.

Did you already know these products or are you going to try them after reading this? Please let me know or show me on Instagram by using #PlanetManel. Would you like me to test and review your product(s) or do you have any suggestions? Please send me a message via CONTACT! It can be anything (food, drinks, beauty..) as long as it’s vegan. Thank you! X

Planet Manel’s 1 year Anniversary + GIVEAWAY!

Yay!! Today Planet Manel is 1 year old! Already for a whole year I’ve been writing about my passions. If you follow me for a while already, you know that this is mainly veganism. I love having my blog and I dare to say that I grew a lot in the past year. There were a lot of things that needed to improve and still there are things I work on and I try to improve every time I write something. I want to thank you all for following me, commenting and liking my posts. I really appreciate every one of you and I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for my readers. Thank you so much!

As you can see, the website changed a little bit. A fresh start for a new year. I hope you like it and that this made it easier to find things. But to really celebrate the 1st anniversary, I created a little Giveaway with some of my personal favourites.

The giveaway:
-Avocado socks
-Peanut butter Nakd bar.
-Banana bread Nakd bar.
-Tony’s Chocolonely (almond/sea salt).
-Lenny & Larry’s cookie (snickerdoodle).
-Heath & Heather tea (green tea and coconut).
-‘Baa Bar’ bubble bar from Lush.

-I mean.. who doesn’t need avocado socks? Definitely great for the avocado-addicts over here! Like me.. I’ve got these sock myself! 
-Nakd bars for the win! These 2 are my favourite flavours, they even taste great together.. haha!
-Tony’s Chocolonely is hard to find here in the UK, but I brought this one especially from Holland. This is definitely the best flavour for sure! Just believe me..
-Just because after that huge work out, you need a treat!
-This green tea in combination with ‘Oatly Foamable’ is heaven! It’s like drinking green tea with coconut milk. Call it a ‘tea colada’!
-This is actually my second favourite bubble bar (Rose Jam is nmbr 1!!), but this one is lovely before you go to sleep. Soak yourself with this soy lavender goodness! Also.. it looks like a pig snout.. so it’s lovely! 

How do you win?!
-Follow my blog (you can enter your email address at the bottom of the website).
-Follow me on Instagram.
-Leave a comment below.

*** On the 1st of April the winner will be announced! (no joke.. haha!)

Thank you again and please enter the giveaway! If you have questions or if you want to send me a message about anything else, please do that via CONTACT. Thank you! X

Choco Chia

Chocolate pudding is one of my favourite things to make, as it’s one of my favourite things to eat, haha! Do you get me? Then today’s recipe is definitely something you’ll like. It’s my favourite chocolate pudding. It’s very healthy, so you can even have it for breakfast if you like. Actually you can have this whenever you like. They’re absolutely great for brunch and can easily be a nice dessert after a lovely meal. Oh and it is definitely a good snack in case you’re craving something sweet. So for all the chocoholics and people with a sweet tooth, go to the kitchen to make this. Your future self will thank you!

CHOCO CHIA

Serves: 2

-1 cup oat milk
-1/4 cup yogurt
-2 tbsp cacao powder
-2 tbs agave nectar
-1/4 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 water
-1 tsp agar agar
-1 tbs chia seeds
-1 tsp hazelnuts (chopped)
-1 tsp cacao nibs
-1 tsp desiccated coconut

-Put the oat milk, the yogurt, the cacao powder, the agave nectar and the vanilla extract in the blender until it’s nice and smooth.
-Put the water and the agar agar in a sauce pan and make it boil.
-On a low fire, add the mixture from the blender and let it simmer for 1 minute.
-Switch of the fire and mix in the chia seeds with a spoon.
-Divide the warm chocolate over 2 little glasses and put it in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight (better).
-Before serving: sprinkle the hazelnuts, cacao nibs and coconut on top.
-If you don’t want to use agar agar, then just add 2 extra tbs of chia seed to the cold chocolate mixture. Note that the structure will be different.

Are you a real chocoholic? Are you going to give this recipe a try? Please let me know when you’ve tried it. You can do this in a comment below. You can also tag me or use #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X